The Green Dragon Whelp
“Shem, could you take a few minutes and do me a favor?”
Shem sighed. He had spent the last 30 minutes weaving threads of shadow as he meditated, and the interruption wasn’t welcome. The good natured friendship in Bunderash’s voice as it penetrated his closed door (he was certain it could penetrate stone just as easily) quickly changed Shem’s attitude, however, and he lowered his feet to the ground (he had been standing on his hands during the exercise) and went to the door, opening it. Bunderash stood there with an impish grin on his face. The excitement in his eyes could not have been hidden without poking them out, and that would have left him with his grin, giving him away anyhow.
Chuckling, Shem asked him, “What can I do for you Bunderash?”
“Well, I have been sent a very special treat. An animal that is quite rare for someone like me to be able to handle. The only problem is that it has managed to free itself from its cage. It is lose in the warehouse.”
The mischievous grin was still on Bunderash’s face though, “And… you want me to subdue it and return it to its cage?” Shem’s voice was dripping with suspicion.
“Certainly! No worries. I’m sure you’ll have it back in its cage in no time. All it really is is a big lizard anyhow.”
Shem still looked suspicious, but Bunderash quickly added, “Don’t worry Shem! After you’ve put it back in the cage I’ll owe you a favor. You know darn well I pay my debts.”
Sighing again, Shem grinned, and nodded. “Fine. Lead the way.”
Twenty minutes later they stood in front of a large warehouse. The guards looked at the two of them and asked, “Sooo… you two are going in then?”
“No, just him.” answered Bunderash.
“Alone?” asked the guard, incredulous.
Shem’s hair stood on end, but he trusted Bunderash, so he went along. Bunderash listened at the door, then handed Shem a large sack. Silently, Shem opened the sack, raising his eyebrow when he spied the 4 healing potions inside. Chuckling, he slid them into small pockets on his belt and armor for easy access. He knew that Bunderash wouldn’t leave him for dead, whatever happened. Just as the door was closing behind him, he nearly fell over as he heard the guards voice, “You are really sending him in alone against that green drag…” SLAM. The door closed with a bang.
Before the sound had filled the chamber, Shem had already disappeared into the shadows. A green dragon?! He hoped it was a small one… He could hear wings beating off in the shadows. Quickly, he one of the massive piles of boxes that stood in front of him. From his new vantage point he could see that the enormous warehouse was filled with towers of boxes and crates. Some of the towers even approaching the 50 foot ceiling high above. Paths wide enough for a man to walk with his arms outstretched weaved their way through the towers, making the giant room into what looked like a mockup of a small city. Shem sunk deeper into the shadows as the sound of wings beating against the air grew louder. He studied the magnificent beast as it flew into view, almost at the top of the room. It scanned the area with its eyes, which almost appeared to glow. Using the same powers of shadow he had been honing 30 minutes before, his gaze sharpened, peering into every fold of skin, every missing scale, seeking for a weak point in the things defenses. At the same time, the shadows between the scales darkened to Shem’s shadow sensitive vision. Every second that passed, Shem noted better angles to strike from… niches in the seemingly impenetrable armor. At the same time, the shadows deepened further around his mark.
Suddenly, with a start, Shem realized the thing was flying right at him! Shem prepared himself as the beast, it’s body about the size of a large horse and it’s wingspan a good twenty feet, dove at him. It came at him with amazing speed, but Shem managed to keep from panicking. At the exact moment that it came into range, a noose woven of strands of shadow closed around its neck. The dragon shrieked in fury as the noose tightened and brought it to a sudden halt in mid air, almost like a snare closing around a rabbit’s leg. That kind of momentum would have snapped the neck of any lesser beast, Shem noted wryly, and added to himself that this was no rabbit for the stew-pot!
Before the dragon could recover, Shem used the noose to drag it closer. A quick strike with his blade, Nightshade, cut deeply between two scales where his analysis had determined to be one of the weaker points in the beautiful things defenses. Green scales parted, and it shrieked. Shem elated as surely this would be easier than he had expected…
But then the giant green wings beat strongly, and the Green lifted away, straight up and backward. It inhaled as it rose, and suddenly green gases billowed around him, obscuring his vision. The Green bellowed its victory cry and waited for the week 2 legged creature that was Shem to fall…
Shem didn’t oblige. He felt the poison seeping into his system, but then it started to pull back. Instead of filling Shem with death, it instead was drawn into his armor, “Shadowkeep”, a gift from his former lord in the shadowfell. Now the dragon bellowed in anger. It was used to two legs fleeing or falling when immersed in his poisonous breath, and this puny creature only stood and stared defiantly… almost eagerly! Fine then, teeth and claws it would be.
With amazing speed, the dragon dropped onto Shem, biting and tearing with its claws. Shem gave as he took though. His blade digging into flesh again and again, his shield blocking swipes of claws from time to time. The little man was slow to die… but Green could see that his prey was dying much faster than himself. Green created some distance to take a better look at his adversary.
Shem breathed heavily as the Green pulled back. Things were not going so well. With a quick motion, he drew forth one of the silvery blue potions, and sighed in pleasure as the sweet almond flavor filled his mouth and soothed his parched throat. He felt the cuts and lacerations that covered him draw together. The slight itch of healed flesh was a welcome sensation…
Green was about to swoop in and finish the little man when to his amazement, the shadow man (for he had begun to think of him so) somehow managed to get better! The wounds that covered him drew together, and he looked almost as fresh as the moment they first clashed. In rage Green dove atop him anew, and the claws and teeth met shield and flesh once again. The only problem was that the shadow man also drove his sword home again and again. Green began to feel something he had never felt for a two-legs: grudging respect.
The battle continued to rage. The green dragon and Shem gave as good as they took, and both began to know true fear. Victory for the green was a hairs breadth away three more times, but every time Shem quaffed another of those small blue potions. If it hadn’t been for the Green’s pride, he would have fled. Shem considered flight a few times himself, but every time he convinced himself the dragon would fall with just one more blow.
Finally, Shem stuck and fled. The green voiced his rage with an infuriated roar as Shem disappeared into the shadows. Like an emerald arrow he shot up and out, searching eagerly for the tasty morsel that had to be close. Peering down an ally from above, Green saw Shem hiding in the shadows and trying to catch his breath… At that instant Shem’s dark noose tightened around Green’s neck and wedged him down into the ally. His wings pinned at his sides, Green saw red. This was the last insult he would take. He forced himself deeper into the narrow walkway, lashing out with his claws. He saw blood flowing freely from the shadow man, and tasted it in his mouth from the last attack. He swore he would suck the marrow out of the little two legger’s bones. His gaping maw shot forward, intent on engulfing those pale blue eyes he had learned to respect and hate.
At the last second, Shem stepped aside. So fast was the head bearing in, that it was unable to stop before it crashed into the crate that stood behind Shem. Boxes came crashing down, burying the head. Green struggled to pull back, but felt a numbing pain as Shem drove Nightshade deep beneath his jaw. Green felt the blade pull out, and braced for the next strike, knowing that it would be the last he felt. Then he hard a voice, parched and dry; “You are a beautiful and proud creature. Don’t make me kill you. Surrender and I swear you will be treated well. I do not want to kill you… but I will if I must.”
The respect for this little shadow man blossomed. With a tired, subdued voice, Green finally spoke. “I yield. You have bested me. I will go back into my cage, and I will stay there as long as you wish. This I swear by the Dragon Above.”
Shem hesitated. Trust a dragon? He chuckled, and sheathed Nightshade.
Green next heard boxes shifting as Shem began to unbury the great green head. Moments later he could see light again. Once he was free, he stretched his neck and flapped his wings. Though grievously wounded, none of his wounds were mortal. He puled back in surprise as the shadow man pulled some bandages out of his pack and began to apply them to the deep cut on the green’s neck.
“You surprise me, shadow man. What are you called?”
“Shem. Now hold still so I can take care of your wing. It is not broken, but I fear that if you fly on it again without resting, it will tear.”
Green looked more closely and saw that Shem was correct. Shem put some salve on the wing, checked the other wing. Soon Shem finished, and when he did, he saw that the dragon was peering down at him in surprise. “A token of my respect and appreciation, Shem the Shadow Man.” With that, the green plucked a green scale the size of his thumb nail from his own side, and offered it to Shem. Shem bowed and spoke, “I am honored… but I fear I have no suitable gift to give you in exchange. I will do this, my magnificent friend. If you ever have need of my aid, send word. I will come and aid you in any way I can, so long as your ends to not go against my grain.”
“It is agreed then!” the green replied. “I may just call on that favor some day, Shadow Man!”
When Shem appeared at the entrance with the green dragon towering over him, speaking amiably to Shem at his side, Bunderash couldn’t believe his eyes. “By the Dragons, you’ve done it! I owe you one Shem!”
“You owe me many, Bunderash!” Shem replied. “But I ask only that you treat my new friend with kindness as you study him. In return, he has promised to be accommodating so long as you feed him well and promise to release him when you are done with your studies.”
“That was my intent anyway, Shem, so we have a deal!” The dragon grumbled something into Shem’s ear. “No, my friend, you must not walk the streets. You need to stay in the cage, or the city watch will attack you almost for certain. A dragon this deep in the city would be treated with aggressive suspicion at best. I fear the policy might be ‘attack first, ask questions later’ in this case.”
Sighing deeply, the green dragon returned to the cage and coiled itself, preparing for the trip to Bunderash’s Bungalow.