by Mark Glamack
Imagine a fantasy that takes readers into reality and truth. If you're looking for an adventure like no other - you just found it.
With his back pressed firmly against the tunnel wall, he slowly and cautiously begins to peek around to the inside, getting a good look at the gigantic columns of stalagmites rising to meet stalactites.
With his back to Modsoginie, Dragon sits in the center of the cavern on piles of jewels and gold. Its tail stretches over the under bedding of gold, hanging over to still more gold and precious gems on the floor of the cavern.
Modsoginie sighs quietly as he says in a hush, “Now that’s one big mountain of Dragon flesh.” In a flash, Dragon once again thrashes himself against the cavern walls. The violent shaking heaves Modsoginie out into the open cavern. Smoke and fire are everywhere as the Dwarf crawls quickly back into the cover of the tunnel. Out of breath, he remains in a fetal position until the cavern stops shaking.
From within the cavern, churning rumbles can be heard that subside to heavy breathing.
“What now?” Modsoginie thinks aloud under his breath, as he ponders what to do next. “I’ll wait. Yes, I’ll wait until Dragon goes to sleep,” he whispers to himself. “And then all I have to do is slip in, take the Fife and…and…but what if Dragon doesn’t sleep? Maybe serpents don’t sleep. Who knows? No one has been around a serpent and survived long enough to tell.”
Dragon jerks his head up, blinks, and then looks around trying to pinpoint the source of the echo.
“Who’s there!?” Dragon commands angrily, smoke escaping through his mouth and nostrils.
Modsoginie jumps awake to Dragon’s voice reverberating throughout the confining space of the cavern.
“I don’t see you, but I know you are there,” the Dragon says, looking around. “Are you dinner? The Master promised dinner. Dinner, is that you? Show yourself!”
Modsoginie gulps several times trying to figure out what to do, then it comes to him. He sits up straighter, takes a deep breath and, with everything he has in him, yells out, “Dragon…I have come to free you!”
“I just got here,” a perplexed Dragon replies. “The Master puts me here and then you show up and say you want to free me? Why would Master’s food want to do that?” The doubtful Dragon queries with a raised eyebrow.
“Because you are the last of your kind. You're the last of the great serpents that once reigned over this land.”
“True!” a less than humble serpent boasts, examining one of his talons as if he just had a manicure. He drops his arms, leaning down while swinging the upper portion of his body around, searching for the invisible voice.
“But Master is very powerful,” Dragon grimaces, straightening upward, shaking his head as he adds, “No, nah, no, no, no, I don’t want him to turn me into a lizard again. Very small, very humiliating…it was scary.”
Dragon suddenly jerks his head up, eyes darting around the cavern. “How will you get me out of here? How can you undo what The Master has done? What gives you the power?”
Modsoginie has to think quickly and does. “I am a Spirit!”
“I can’t. He cast a spell that prevents me from doing that.”
“Ah-ha! You, too, huh? So how can you help me when you can’t even help yourself?” Dragon challenges doubtfully, now sniffing the air.
“We can help each other.”
“How much is it worth to you?” Modsoginie’s voice echoes.
“I’m-m-m listening,” Dragon replies, raising an eyebrow once again.
Modsoginie peers around slowly, seeing that Dragon is now looking away from him. He looks around trying to spot the Golden Fife. He finally sees it, lying toward the bottom of the treasure mound, partially obscured by jewels and coins. He then quickly shifts around into the cover of the tunnel.
“You’re sitting on a lot of stuff there. Would you be willing to give me something in exchange for your freedom?” the Dwarf asks.
Dragon looks down and around at the treasure below him, he blinks several times and then, shaking his head frantically, says, “Oh, no, no, no, this belongs to the One. He would be very angry. A lizard again I would be. No, no, no, too dangerous!”
“What if I only choose one little thing? You know, something he would never miss.”
Now, this is a very smart serpent that has survived many a challenge to be too quick in making such an important decision. Dragon is now looking toward Modsoginie’s cave location when he questions, “What would a Spirit do with a bauble?”
Modsoginie sighs, searching for an answer and then emphatically states, “Whatever I want! And if you don’t give me what I want, you will be here forever, and as a Spirit I could make things even worse for you with another curse!”
Dragon has already had a very bad day and is not prepared to make it worse. At the same time, he’s no fool and is not about to take any unnecessary chances.
“Free me first, and then take what you want,” replies Dragon with a half-smile.
“If I do that, what guarantees do I have that you will hold up your end of the bargain? I mean ? you could take my bauble and fly away, then what would I do?”
Dragon thinks for a moment and curiously asks, “How do you plan to undo the curse? How will you get me out of here? I’ve already tried to blast and pound my way out. Too much force could collapse the entire mountain down on me. That would be a crushing blow, to say the least. How can you succeed where I have failed?”
“I am a Spirit.”
Modsoginie has prided himself on always telling the truth and now is feeling bad that he has lowered his standards. Even The Howlings don’t possess the power to move mountains and that is what it would take to release Dragon from his tomb of solid, impacted granite.
“But what guarantees do I have?” Dragon asks flatly. “I could give you what you want and you could leave without fulfilling your part of the bargain. So, it would seem that we are at an impasse. Tattle if we do and tattle if we don’t,” Dragon sniffs the air as he takes one step off the treasure toward Modsoginie’s hiding place.
Dragon was right, and now Modsoginie finds himself searching for a solution when suddenly and unexpectedly, Dragon shouts out, “Come, and take your bauble!”
Modsoginie realizes that he is now in a bigger pickle. If he shows himself, Dragon will know that he’s a Dwarf and not a Spirit, and just might eat him out of sheer spite. This is a most disturbing situation and he can only think of one thing to say.