It hasn’t been that long since we explored this adventure, but it was requested and it’s a lot of fun. Plus, the last time you died, so a second run just sounds like a good idea. Without further adieu, here’s Scorpion Dragon. =)
“It costs a King’s ransom, though,” the doc warns you.
“But a cure exists?” you ask again.
He nods and lays a sympathetic hand on your shoulder before leaving your one room cabin. The dirt under your feet and the paper over the windows just accentuates what the Doc meant. You’ve no money.
You take a steadying breath before heading into the lean-to off the back of the cabin. The lean-to, and the only private part of your home, belongs to your mother. You built it for her when she fell ill in hopes she’d sleep better. But no amount of sleep will cure her.
You’re mother smiles when you look at her. You stop, taken a back. The haunted look in her eyes from moments before when the Doc told her she had only a few weeks left has been replaced with a gentle sort of peace.
“Mom, are you all right?”
Instead of answering, she points to a book on the table. It’s the history book she taught you from when you were younger.
“Flip to the back section on regional myths,” she says.
You sit on the three-legged stool beside her bed and do as she asked. She never covered this section in your education, so you’re unfamiliar with the picture of a large dragon that graces the top of the page. The picture’s colored in red and highlights the dragon’s tail that hangs like a scorpion’s over its head. Even the end of the tail has a stinger but clearly the rest of the creature represents the fire-breathing drake.
“Read there,” you mother taps the page.
The island of Scorpus sits far off the coast, and looks like nothing but a pile of rock and sand to passersby. But myth claims it the home of the scorpion dragon who sank Princess Maya’s ship in 1102, capturing her gold and keeping her prisoner. According to the myth, Maya is kept in a castle in the cliffs of the island and is forced by Scorpus to polish his red scales daily.
You frown at your mother. Perhaps the disease already took her mind, but she’s looking at you with such hope. You shrug, not getting why she showed you this.
She points again at the page.
“Look,” she says, pointing to the bottom of the page at another picture.
It’s a detailed sketch of a sword. You pull the book closer and then glance from the lean-to into the main room of the cabin. The only thing of value the family owns hangs over the fireplace mantle. A family heirloom, a sword with bluish steel.
You glance between the sword and the picture several times but there’s no mistake. The sword’s distinctive engraved handle is perfectly depicted in the picture. Below the drawing is the caption “The only weapon known to hurt the scorpion dragon.”
“I never showed you this because everyone in our family dies looking,” your mother admits, “but if the sword exists, so might the island and the princess’ treasure.” She flips the page to show you a poorly drawn map. “Find the island for me?”
“How do we still have the sword?” You ask. Surely someone thought to take it with them.
“They all took the sword. It finds its way back, they do not,” she shrugs, clearly hurt at the memory. “Find the island for me?” she asks again.
The hope in your mother’s eyes when you said yes lends you strength as you row toward the island. This is the third such island you’ve checked out but this one just feels right. And if any island simply looks like a pile of rock and sand, this is the epitome of rock and sand islands.
You row one more time and your boat hits the beach. Far out in the water, you can still see the Wind Born. The captain agreed to wait for two days while you explore. If you’re not back, he’ll chalk the rowboat up as a loss and leave you behind.
You heave the rowboat onto the beach and retrieve the sword and your pack from inside. All you brought were food and water. Wasn’t like you owned anything else to prepare you for this trip.
The book stated the castle of Princess Maya is hidden in cliffs but it doesn’t say if the cliffs are inland or on the beach.
Explore the beach?
Scorpion Dragon-Explore the Beach
The beach lays barren around you except for the occasional rock that breaks up the smooth, dark sand. Before you, toward the center of the island, the rocks grow bigger until you’re pretty sure they turn into cliffs.
The history book mentioned Princess Maya being held in the cliffs of the island, but walking inland looks a bit rough. You scan the beach and decide exploring the open area might be a better way to start.
Perhaps you’ll find a path inland if you look farther around the perimeter.
So you strap the sword around your waist, sling your pack over your shoulder and head to the right along the beach.
The sand sinks beneath your steps in little divots and the sword swings against your thigh with a soft slapping sound. Other than the swish of the tide, that’s the only sound you hear.
On your next step, the sand doesn’t sink as far. You grin since this makes walking easier. After five or six steps like this, however, you get curious. Why aren’t you sinking as far into the soft ground?
When you look back, there’s a noticeable difference in the divots your footsteps made, like perhaps the sand’s covering a section of rock. You kneel down and dig your hands into the damp sand. It sticks to your skin but you keep digging until your fingers hit something hard. Pulling your hands free, you look into the little hole you made and frown.
The ground’s red. You brush away more sand. For rock, it’s incredibly smooth…too smooth.
The ground shifts beneath you and you fall back onto your backside. The beach continues to move. You throw out your hands to steady yourself as everything starts rising into the air and sand trickles, then runs, off the red ground in a cascade of beach.
With the sand sliding away and nothing stable beneath you, you’re balance falters and you slide with the sand.
You hit the ground with a thud and sputter sand out of your mouth. Grit fills your eyes until you’re almost crying just to clear your sight.
When you finally get a chance to see, you wish you’d been buried and could hide under the sand.
A gigantic red snout grins down at you. Above it hangs a tail with a stinger on the end. You were just walking on a dragon. The crafty beast was hiding under the sand.
“Hello little human,” the drake’s voice rumbles.
“Um, hello,” you respond at the same time as you try to look around.
“Not much escape out here,” the dragon grins. “What ever shall you do?”
His comment isn’t entirely accurate, however. Underneath his belly, you spot a line of cliffs jutting out toward the ocean. Those cliffs are dotted with caves. If you run for it, you might be able to reach the cliffs and disappear inside them.
Or, since you have the sword, you could try to fight the dragon and hope you’re lucky enough to incapacitate him.
Run for the Cliffs?
You’re fast but pitting yourself against a dragon’s speed might not be your wisest option. You pull out the sword and hold it in both hands.
“Come get me!” You scream at the beast. If you’re going to attack him anyway, you may as well make a good show of it.
The dragon throws back his head and bellows a laugh that ripples through the scales on his chest. Before he’s done showing his mirth, his tail rears back and strikes downward.
You’re watching him though and dodge to the side just as the stinger on the tail sinks a small crater into the soft sand. Scorpus, for this must be the dragon the history book spoke of, screams his anger at missing. His jaws dart forward and you step several times backward. The teeth crunch shut only inches from your face.
You swing the sword at the snout and the steel slices a deep, clean line across the dragon’s face.
He rears back with blood dripping from his jaw line. The blood hits the sand, where it starts to steam.
You step away, careful not to get dripped on since you don’t know what the blood might do to you. But you’re watching the drops and so you catch when the steam takes form. It changes to a deep red and then hardens into several tiny replicas of the larger dragon.
Scorpus laughs at your surprise.
You dash around the growing collection of tiny scorpions and cut into his front right leg.
The blood you draw will, obviously, create more tiny scorpions, so you have to be quick to overcome the larger dragon. Your hope is, once the larger beast dies, so will its smaller versions.
In quick succession, you slice into the dragon’s side, this one of his hind legs, and them catch his snout again as he tries to eat you. Blood flows freely from all his wounds. Before you can strike again, you’re surrounded by the horde of small scorpions.
The tide washes up the beach and the creatures scatter from its touch. As it washes away, one of them stings you, then another. Your foot instantly goes numb. A scorpion tries to climb your leg and you swipe it away with the blade of your sword.
The tide washes forward again and the creatures scatter for a second time.
This time, when the tide starts to recede, you stay with it, always keeping your feet in the water.
The scorpions follow the edge of the water but never enter it to get at you. Since you’re able to stay out of their reach, you return your attention to Scorpus, who backed away to watch his smaller versions torment you.
“Can’t finish me on your own?” You taunt him. “Have to rely on these to do the job for you?”
He bellows and rushes forward but, like the others, he stops when the water starts to advance up the beach again.
He swings his tail out over the water without actually stepping into the surf. You lunge backward to avoid the stinger and Scorpus grunts as the weight of his tail almost pulls him in.
“Come and get me!” you taunt again.
The tail swings again but the surf’s still rolling in and the distance is even greater this time. You dart forward, stab his foot and dart back out into the water.
He bellows, huffs and then spins away and starts to leave.
Why does he fear the water? You pull your pack around and scrounge inside until you find your water bottle. Uncapping it, you run from the water and pitch the content onto the dragon’s back.
He shrieks as the water steams on his back. Then he shudders and shrinks a fraction before the water dries on his scales and the shrinking stops. You can make him small, you realize, if you can force him into the waves.
But getting him there might be more than you can handle. It’d be herding a dragon, a seriously angry dragon.
Continue to Fight?
Let Him Go?
Scorpion Dragon-Continue to Fight
Scorpus limps away from the beach. You hear his huffs of anger and pain with each step. Once he heals, he’ll be just as dangerous as he was when you first encountered him. Considering how many members of your family have disappeared because of this beast, you can’t just let him walk away.
You grip the sword hard enough that your knuckles turn white and run from the water. Scorpus doesn’t notice you until you race around and confront him. He snaps his teeth but the gesture’s halfhearted, like you’re a gnat buzzing around his head.
With a shout, you swing the sword. It slices a deep line down his snout that wells with blood.
You swing again before that blood falls and creates a bunch of tiny scorpions you have to contend with too.
Scorpus backs away while his tail rears up and smashes into the sand just to your right. His blood has now created a small horde.
As you step forward to close the distance between you and the dragon, you kick at the mass of tiny scorpions and dozens of them fly into the water. They hiss and disappear.
Scorpus moves to bite at you again and you swing at the same time. The sword connects with his teeth, and slices right through three of them. The dragon steps backward, screeching.
His back leg hits the water and it starts to steam. He tries to step forward but you’re right there, preventing him from advancing.
Foam froths around the edges of his mouth in his anger and he swings his tail at you again even as you try to push him back farther. His aim’s off but, because you moved to swing again, the stinger of his tail hits the outside, fleshy part of your right arm. Instantly it goes numb and you almost drop the sword. Scorpus howls in victory. He raises his tail to sting you again.
You recover in time to swing the sword with your left hand. The swing wavers but still manages to slice part way into his tail.
The dragon shudders and steps back, not once, but several times, until all but his front legs are in the surf. Steam rises from the parts of him touching the water.
Your right side’s so numb you’re having issues standing. If you don’t finish this soon, you might collapse and Scorpus will get away.
In a last effort, you raise the sword and scream in defiance. Thankfully, it’s enough for the dragon to back away again. You don’t even have to swing. Between his small step and the tide coming in, he ends up completely standing in the water. He’s steaming so much that you’re surrounded by mist but you can still see the red dragon’s shape.
He shudders, then shrinks in a rapid combination of shudders and shrieks. Then he’s gone. You walk forward to make sure you didn’t miss Scorpus sneaking away but after a bit of searching, you’re sure he’s gone.
You haul yourself back onto the beach and lay down to rest. The mist slowly dissipates but your right side doesn’t seem to be regaining much sensation.
You search the island for the rest of the day and find, hidden within caves in the cliffs, a castle. The next day, you search the castle, but you don’t find anything resembling treasure or any person who might be the princess. There are signs of someone living there, but you never spot an actual person.
There are places that, because of your numb right side, you just can’t quite get to, but finally you resign yourself to going home without the treasure.
On your trip back, you decide to sell the sword. It’s not quite enough to cover your mother’s medicine but you make an agreement with the apothecary to work for him until the remainder of the cost is paid off.
You keep to the bargain and are still working at the apothecary but, in random moments of free thought, your mind returns to the sword. It feels, strangely enough, like it’s calling to you, like you shouldn’t have given it up. Someday, maybe, you’ll have to track it down and bring it back to your family. Until then, you suspect its loss will always haunt you.
Well done. You managed to defeat the dragon!
Blessings and have a wonderful weekend,