The beast was angry, furious at having been woken from a slumber stretching back to before our galaxy’s birth.
But I did not care.
It was a monster whose wings could span the distance between the planets. It was a dragon whose breath could roast the sun and, with one whip of its tail, it could obliterate a hundred moons.
But it was only a beast, and a beast is a thing to be tamed.
When I called to it, gently rousing it from sleep, my voice was sweet nectar dripping from a budding flower. Now my tongue became a whip which reached up in an angry chorus and snapped across the dragon’s hide.
It flinched and roared defiance into the vacuum of space. I raised my voice again, louder this time so that the mountain beneath my feet trembled. Ice cracked and splintered, showering down the steep slopes below.
The beast heard me and was still.
Elph the bowman looked up from the campfire to the towering peak of the mountain. Heavy clouds seemed to be billowing down its sides. Great avalanches, large enough to bury whole cities beneath their rumbling advance.
“That’s the cry of the man on the mountain.” Dura said. “What do you think?”
“He must be stopped.” Elph replied.
“Can your arrows reach that high?” Burr asked. “Can by axe break rock or Cati’s knife skin a dragon?”
The bowman turned his keen eyes towards Dura’s wrinkled face.
“You have magic.” He said.
“Magic to bring fire to life in wet snow, yes. But not to summon a dragon from the depths of time.”
Elph rose to his feet and shook the frost from his legs.
“Help me get up that mountain. Help me kill the man who seeks to destroy the world, and you will have your weight in gold.”
Dura’s creased, weathered face broke into a gap-toothed smile. A dry, rasping chuckle grew in his throat and was drown by Burr’s roaring laughter. Cati hissed her own amusement.
“You want to kill a wizard, mercenary?” Dura asked. “You want to conquer a mountain and slay a dragon? Alright, alright. Gold speaks many tongues and all of them sound sweet to my ears.”
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