The Dragon in the Throne room

In honour of this post by Wolfsamurai over at rpgmusings, I’m going to tell a story about a spontaneous plan the players in my old group – 2e – hatched once. I hadn’t really planned for them to fare as well as they did, but they spotted a tiny detail in my description and acted on it. We travel to the land of Archetypia in the following short story:

”Sooo,” said Mr. Joshua casting a look he very much hoped could be called casual down the corridor at the enormous red dragon lumbering around the throne room, its very presence defiling the complete piece of the Holy Mountain of Archetypia that made up the floor. “What now?”

His question was backed up by a quick glance up at Tug. The fighter’s grey, rock-like frame had been a support and an encouragement to Joshua’s less responsible side for years now, but still – that dragon looked like he could swallow Tug whole and Joshua knew he wouldn’t be far behind. Tug shrugged. It was a movement so familiar to him, that it was appropriate that it rhymed.

Joshua’s glance went to the wizard. Something had always struck Joshua as fundamentally wrong about the guy, but Chermez had gotten them out of tight spots plenty of times. Even if the group’s other wizard did depart a little too hastily and middle-of-the-night after Chermez joined them.

The wizard glared back. “I’ve got fireballs, transmutations, lightning bolts and charm spells, but nothing that’ll take a dragon out in one shot, and I’m betting you want that.” Chermez glanced in his coldly analytical way up the hallway. “I mean, the second that dragon senses duplicity he’s gonna scoop up that princess in his jaws and make with the swallow. I’m guessing you don’t want that.” Joshua nodded irritably. He hadn’t gone to all that trouble to win the princess’ hand in marriage just to have her eaten by a dragon. Plus, she seemed like she actually liked him.

The knight – he vehemently opposed being called a paladin, since he served the goddess of Assassins – shook his head when Joshua looked at him. “I’m sorry, Joshua,” said Derek. “I could distract the thing, but without a plan to take it out, I’m not going to last long. It wouldn’t help.” The deep, masculine voice of the tall man spoke sense. Joshua knew that. He looked longingly at the throne room. Nothing. His brain, usually a chatterbox of…well not good, but still some ideas, was silent.

“I have an idea.” The smooth and calculated voice of the dark elf came from a shadow where Joshua could have sworn nothing was before.

“Shazin,” he said, determined to not let his surprise show. “Where’ve you been?”

The dark elf shrugged. “Where I always am when we enter a castle: sizing up the guards.” His face put itself in a grimace that seemed smug, but then: almost any grimace an elf made… “Only this time the guards are on our side.”

“Great!” Derek quipped. “They’ll distract the dragon a second or two more than I’ll manage.” He never liked the dark elf, and the lack of respect was quite mutual.

“Well if they use your brand of tactics, I guess that’s all we can hope for,” Shazin said dismissively. “Still, we could think up a plan instead.”

Before the knight could answer, Chermez cut in. “What are you thinking?”

Shazin glanced at Joshua with a look the nominal leader of the group had never really seen in the dark elf’s eyes. He seemed like he was looking for support. Joshua nodded imperceptibly. He knew he could always count on the rogue to percept the imperceptible. Reassured, the dark elf continued.

“Well, palace guards equals polearms. Pikes, halberds, the works. We have them stab the dragon from multiple sides at once, bleeding it not only distracted but quite quickly dead.” Joshua looked around at the others. It seemed like it could work.

“But where would they come from?” Derek said, not in a spoilsport way, but almost thinking along. “The throne room has only one main entrance and two side entrances, and I don’t think we can reach the corridors to the side.”

Chermez cut in. His voice had that otherworldly quality that it got when he was thinking. “But on the floor below us there’s no shortage of hallways and entrances.” Joshua cut in: “Yeah. It’s the banquet room and it’s connected to kitchens, wine cellars, waiting rooms, accommodations…” Tug scratched his head. “But how dragon gets down there?” Shazin pointed to the floor in the throne room. “Look at the material of the floor.” The four of them looked at each other, then smiled. “Transmute rock to mud.” They said it together. Tug shuddered. Someone had tried that on him once. Once.

“Count to 500,” Joshua said to the wizard, starting a run towards the stairway leading down.

The wizard actually rolled up his sleeves. “Aye, aye, Joshua.”

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