Unofficial Fantasy Contest - 2/29/08
|Silas always fancied himself an adventurer. His parents were content to live the lives of rural farmers, putting their blood and sweat into the fields so that they could live out a peaceful existence in relative comfort.
But not Silas.
He had grand dreams. He imagined himself sailing the high seas at the helm of galleon, or perhaps commanding the front lines of an immense army as it marched forward to conquer foreign lands. All Silas knew for sure is that he wouldn't be satisfied with a life where the only excitement lay in the discovery of early-sprouting cornstalks.
You can imagine Silas' excitement when the notices were posted up around the village.
10,000 gold pieces to the one who slays the dragon
10,000 gold pieces! With that much money, Silas could retire if he wanted to... or could afford to spend years adventuring without ever needing to worry about money.
He decided that this was his big chance. Taking what little money he had saved up, he bid farewell to his parents and went off to equip himself for the quest.
In town, he was amazed at the number of would-be adventurers who had responded to the notice, offering themselves up for a chance at fame and fortune. Long lines formed at many of the merchant tents, as amateur adventurers scrambled to buy swords and shields and armor. Silas stood in line too, until he was close enough to read the price tags one some of the items.
How would he ever afford armor? Or even a sword? How could he be expected to slay the dragon without these things?
Silas followed the sound to a tiny man hidden off to the side of one of the tents.
"Are ya lookin' for some equipment, friend?"
Silas nodded eagerly.
"But ya can't afford t' spend as much as they're askin'?"
Silas again nodded his consent.
"I'll tell ya what. I got some good equipment. It's used, t' be sure... but still good. I'll sell ya what ya need, for a quarter a' what they're askin' up there."
Silas would have counted the money in his pocket again, but he already knew that it was just enough to cover the necessities. And as shiny and new as that other equipment was, he needed to do the smart thing and save a little money.
He nodded and the tiny man waved him over. They headed over to a nearby cart, where the money exchanged hands and the tiny man helped Silas into his very own suit of armor. Once he was fastened in, the tiny man strapped on his sword and handed him his shield. Everything fit Silas well and he and the tiny man shook hands, parting ways as Silas followed the other adventurers toward the hills.
He arrived at the dragon's lair, waiting outside with several other armored adventurers. Confused, Silas tapped the nearest one on the shoulder.
"What are we waiting for?" He asked.
Not two seconds later, a roaring trail of fire erupted from the mouth of the cave, blasting them with its diffused heat, even at this distance.
"That," the man replied, "You want to go next?"
Silas shook his head vigorously, determined to wait it out and see how the others fared first. Time and time again, a man would enter and be answered by that scorching flame. Some went in boldly... others visibly shaking with rattled nerves.
Before long, it was the man in front of Silas' turn.
"Wish me luck," he said, securing his helmet.
Silas wished him the best of luck, watching with interest as he headed for the cave's entrance.
Several minutes went by and there was no fire. Had the man succeeding in slaying the dragon? Silas and a few of the others steadily crept forward, inching toward the cave's entrance.
Then came the jet stream of liquid fire, knocking them all off their feet with the concussive force of the blast.
Shakily, they all got to their feet and one of them tapped Silas on the back.
"You're up, kid." He heard them say.
Silas took his first tentative steps toward the cave. He cautiously proceeded, trying to be as silent a possible. When he reached the mouth of the cave he detected the stench of sulfur... and charred flesh. He crept past the skeletons of fallen adventurers, all failed in their attempts at fame and fortune.
Shivering and quaking, Silas moved deeper into the cave. It narrowed as he pressed forward, until it was barely large enough for him to fit through. But he made it through, and finally emerged into a gigantic cavern hidden deep in the hill.
His jaw dropped as he took in all the treasure in this room. Forget the reward offered for slaying the dragon; there had to be a thousand times that much stockpiled here.
And then he saw the dragon... it was difficult to spot at first; its coppery scales blending with the treasure upon which it lounged. The dragon saw him too, watching him intently with amber-colored eyes.
Silas took a deep breath. It was now or never.
He grasped the hilt of his sword firmly and pulled, but nothing happened. He tugged harder, then frantically, but to no avail. Looking down, he realized that the sword was severely rusted and at this point inseparable from its scabbard.
Alarmed, Silas did the only thing he could think of... hide behind the cover of his shield. He cinched down the leather straps, pulling them tight... but rather than holding firm, they snapped off in his hands and the shield, unsupported, clattered to the ground.
The dragon looked at the sword-less, shield-less, secondhand adventurer and stretched to its full height, sending gold and jewels raining down on Silas as the boy looked up at the intimidating creature towering above him.
He gulped... and it suddenly occurred to him how nice a boring life working the fields sounded right about now.