(I just watched Part One of a Story War playthrough on the HankGames YouTube channel. I like the premise of this game very much - by the way, support it on KickStarter if you can - and I thought this playthrough, as most of Hank’s videos are, was pretty hilarious, so I couldn’t help but want to write a fanfic-y thing of that first battle. Here it is. I hope you guys enjoy it.)
“What brings you t’ Sky Port, Yer Excellency?”
Azureus kind of enjoyed when humans addressed him regally. It felt like they were appreciative of their place on the food chain. He figured it cruel to think so at times, but that was how he saw it, once his pride was already distracting him from not being cruel.
“East of here, in the Fire Forest,” he said to the waiter, closing his wings about him as he sat by an open-air table, “there’s a treasure I’m looking for. I’m just here for a meal. I hear Sky Port wild boar and lentil peas is more delicious than anything on land for miles. Is that true?”
The waiter smiled, gesturing to the inside of the tavern through a window, its humans and nymphs and gnomes - and the occasional fae, fumbling to grasp a knife or fork to eat in its miniature hands - at every table. “Wild boar’s all anyone eats here. Hell, a boy named Jack conjured up a whole bleedin’ beanstalk just to get here.” He pointed through the window at a boy no more than thirteen, in dirty overalls and with leaves and stains of green in his hair, his face messy with gravy, grinning widely as he put his plate into a pile of empty, dirty ones on his table - five or six, from the count of them - and raised his hand for yet another, letting out a belch without shame.
Azureus grimaced in the kind of way that humans don’t initially recognize as grimacing. “I’ll have the same. Just the one plate, thank you.”
“And a drink, Majestic One? All the finest ales from every kingdom of lore is here.”
“Well, frost dragons aren’t typically ale-drinking creatures, are they?” He pondered for a moment before making his decision. “I’ll have a glass of grapefruit juice. With plenty of ice.”
“As you wish, of course - although, can’t you make your own ice?”
“Why, yes, I can.” Azureus snorted, frustrated by the waiter’s question, and two jets of cold air blasted from his nostrils, bathing the waiter in freezing wind.
“M-m-m-m-message received, ” the waiter chattered, trying to rub off the shiver as he walked off to the tavern kitchen.
The meal was ready sooner than Azureus expected. He figured it was only fair that the chefs of Sky Port know how to prepare a top-notch boar in less than ten minutes, provided how many hungry souls must come here just for that dish.
He couldn’t help but notice, however, this one man in the corner nearest to the bar who wasn’t eating any wild boar. In front of him instead was a plate of greens, bathing in what appeared to be garlic dressing. The man reminded him of a man he’d seen in his dreams, with his black jacket over his black turtleneck sweater and his black trousers, and his almost unkempt mop of black hair falling every which way over his head. But surely if that dream-man was here he’d not turn down good meat; and besides, this man seemed very bemused, not at all accustomed to the place, like a human who has lost his way. Azureus didn’t give the man much thought than that, though; he slowly began to eat, savouring each morsel almost daintily, like a dragon of his ilk would, sipping on his grapefruit juice between swallows.
When he was finished, he called for the waiter, and the waiter came. “I’ll have an attendant come pay before next nightfall. I hadn’t imagined making a stop beforehand, or else I would have brought my purse.”
The waiter waved his hands before him frantically. “No, no! A creature of your stature, a prince of the Draconian Empire? Your money is not as good here as your presence, Lord.”
Azureus smiled. “And you’ll settle for both regardless. Again, before next nightfall.”
The waiter nodded, then bowed. “Yes, sir. Have a safe trip, and feel free to come back any time.”
“I will.” Azureus spread his wings wide, letting a small gust of wind dance around him. “The boar is too exquisite to have just once.” And with that, he had taken off into the air, upending tables and fellow patrons’ meals as he ascended.
No sooner had he come back down, peering through the clouds for Fire Forest, had something remarkable happened, perhaps even too bizarre for any fantastic country in the area. Suddenly, a rare sky-whale appeared to the right of the dragon, barrel-rolling fiercely through the clouds, right toward him.
“Sky-whale?” Azureus was almost too shocked to respond. One of these hadn’t been sighted in the air for centuries, ever since a little chicken-oracle had predicted the great Skyfall. Hundreds of meteors had taken out most of them and their sky-manta meals; how did one survive after all this time?
It only dawned on him as the whale opened his mouth with a great yawn:
surely it’s survived all this time by eating whatever else is flying. Like dragons, for instance.
Azureus tried to turn backwards before he could be swallowed, but he couldn’t escape quickly enough. In no time he was already trapped in the mouth of the animal, with no light except the sun pouring down through its blowhole in a small beam.
For a moment Azureus panicked. It would be quite an embarrassment for a prince of Draconi to suffer death at the hands - or rather, the mouth - of a sky-whale. And yet he couldn’t tell if that would be his fate. He’d never been eaten before, of course, so he couldn’t imagine how to not be eaten in the unfortunate event of such a rare occurrence.
After a few moments he gathered his resolve again and tried the thing that he felt stupid for ignoring. He took a deep breath and blew a gust of frost at the front, onto its baleen and beyond, waiting for confirmation that he had frozen the thing too much for it to think.
Soon enough he got his confirmation - the whale began to fall from the sky, doing a lazy barrel roll downward as it plummeted. Any hesitation now would still be Azureus’ very ridiculous doom, and the prideful desire to not die like a fool was still one of his greatest motivators.
The frost dragon spread his wings as wide as he could and let out one clap of them, sending whatever stale wind was in the whale’s mouth to clash with its frozen face, sending it exploding in icy chunks of meat and blood. He didn’t hesitate to see the hole he had made; just as soon as it had opened, Azureus rushed out of the hole and opened out his wings again to catch the open air.
He stopped, looking first at the dead sky-whale still falling down to the earth - from the look of the land, it would fall somewhere in the swamps of Avalon - and then at the sky around him. He was no longer above the clouds. He had fallen some distance from Sky Port; he could not see for sure, but it seemed like a crowd had gathered at the edges of the Port, looking down at the spectacle. They saw me, he thought. They saw the whole thing… If Father Rakhidor hears about this, I’ll be a laughingstock…
Azureus had no time to hang his head in shame, though. Already another thing wanted to play with his life. It was not as bizarre, but a bit silly nonetheless. He noticed something rushing toward him from a distance, not clear enough to make out but travelling so quickly through the sky that it would surely split whatever it collided with in two. Azureus slowly inched to the right of the thing’s path, but he could notice it also changing course, coming definitely to meet him.
Then he managed to get a closer look at the thing as it sped toward him: a dwarf, a hunter by the looks of his attire, holding an axe twice as tall as himself in his right hand, afloat on a flying carpet.
“Brilliant,” Azureus said out loud, flying upward with as much momentum as he could manage. “So that’s the kind of day I’m having today.”
The dwarf was already gaining on him, so much that he overheard his gripe and chose to reply in tasteless puns. “Brilliant!” he shouted, laughing. “So that’s the kind of drake I’m halving today!”
“What’s your business, dwarf?” Azureus shouted back, not stopping or turning around to face him.
“Word is you want to take the book out of Fire Forest and bring it to Draconi - I can’t let you!”
Azureus stopped ascending, and spun quickly, breathing biting frost all about him as a wall from the dwarf’s advance; as would be wise, the dwarf did stop, doubling back a bit to avoid it. “How did you know?”
The dwarf was in battle stance atop his floating rug. “When nobility from any realm gets about, someone’s bound to notice. Especially when it has wings as tall as a house.”
“So what do you want with the Storybook?”
“Not a lick, really - but someone who does want something with it owes me a great deal of gold to fetch it, so I can’t be havin’ any competition now, can I?” The dwarf grinned wickedly.
Azureus drifted back a bit on the wind beneath him. “Do you think you can outchase a dragon, then? Or outwit one?”
“Outchase? Just me on a carpet? Plus I’m agile - don’t you see I’ve got me boots on?” he said, pointing at his brown leather shoes, coated in mud and grass. The little man then stroked his beard a bit, resting his axe on his shoulder. “As for outwitting…”
Before he could finish, he was already gone, moving in a flash of rug colours.
Azureus relied purely on his instincts for the next move. He had no idea if it would help him, but he had only that. He waited to hear the sound of the wind slapping against cloth, but he did not wait to see where it would come from. He spun around again in a dance of frost, hoping he would hit the dwarf of his only flying thing and be rid of him and any other pest who had come to disturb his trip. He would succeed in not only chilling the carpet, but the axe-wielding dwarf as well, sending both of them stiffly dropping to the ground, but not before a lucky swing of an axe’s steel would sever Azureus’ head from his winged body, letting both separate blue scaled pieces join the dwarf in a race down to earth.
The man in the sweater wiped his mouth with a napkin, took a sip of wine, the only sip he’d taken of the whole glass, and got up from his table. Being here, he thought, is more intoxicating than any wine.
He thought just seeing faeries and giants and golems and werewolves and gnomes and even a dragon would have just been enough of a day. He couldn’t imagine having to explain this day to any of his friends without seeming totally mental - supposing he can find his way back to Earth proper without getting lost or eaten. (He will, but the moment he does he’d wonder if, rather than share the events he’d seen, it would have been better to be lost, or eaten, or both in that order.)
But just when he thought it could get no stranger, he saw a dragon get swallowed by a flying whale, narrowly escape digestion, and then enter a death duel with a dwarf on an Indian rug flying through the air.
He looked out the window as the two creatures fell past the clouds, instinctively holding the glass and bringing it back to his lips.
“Wait til Amanda hears about this,” he mumbled, downing the rest of its contents slowly, in one prolonged sip.