The First of May

Anna Logarithm, villain, put her hands behind her back and glared at the map with her good eye, its twin hidden behind an eyepatch, a souvenir from a recent skirmish. “I want this castle destroyed, Ms. Dagon,” she said with a grim determination.

“Then stop hesitating to use all of your resources, Ms. Logarithm,” Nixxi Dagon, sea nymph, responded sharply. She was, as usual, correct.

Anna turned to face May, a junior adventurer. “It will come down to you. Can you do you this? Are you ready?” May nodded slowly, nervously.

This final assault would make or break the campaign.

Later, on the battlefield, “Breathe!” Anna shouted in the language of orcs, using a cane like a sword of field command to point at a particular spot of castle wall. A dragon, as big and as red as a barn, unleashed a cyclone of fire, melting the stone away. “Forward!” the villain shouted and the dragon dove into the breach, its bulk shattering the weakened defense. As it withdrew, troops swarmed in.

Anna joined her troops, limping and leaning heavily on her cane, shouting commands, encouragements, threats, and spells. Like a knife cutting an onion, the monsters broke layer upon layer of defense. Metal automatons, Anna’s specialty, joined the goblins and orcs tearing into the knights and soldiers, a symphony of steel on steel.

The enemy’s battle standard in sight, Anna called upon May. “Take the crown! On the flag pole! Center jewel!” She then turned and fired several spells from her cane to provide cover for the archer.

May raised her crossbow and took aim — and hesitated. Something was wrong. Why did the emeralds shine like that? Could a silver crown conduct this much magic in that shape?

“Dragon!” May shouted — in goblin, not orc.

Anna turned at the last minute. Orc had been selected as the language for the campaign to best ensure smooth communication and secrecy — why was this green booted archer using the wrong language? Unless — “DRAGON EMERALD!” Anna shouted, also in goblin.

The Laughing Bear Adventuring Company had partnered with a dragon of their own, and that was how they built this  fortress so quickly.

Time slowed as the emerald began to shift from jewel to jewel-studded scales, the crown unfolded a pocket dimension to reveal the massive beast.

May froze in fear. “Quartz! Now! NOW!” Anna howled over the battle’s chaos. Reflexively, May removed the bolt from her crossbow, quickly selected another, and fired.

The world arose into pure light and numbness.

The world plunged into cold and darkness.

May’s eyes fluttered open and she started painfully.

“You are safe, the battle is over,” Anna rasped. Her voice was nearly lost but her eye had been healed. Anna put a bandaged hand on May’s shoulder and eased her back into the bed. “The healers are doing their duties but the work will take time. Relax, archer, you are safe.”

“Did we win? Is it over?” May gasped, her gaze darting around the room, her hands reflexively seeking her bow.

“Yes,” Anna said quietly.

“We won because of you,” Nixxi, previously unseen, emphasized, with a sharp glance to Anna. “But now we must all rest and heal. Thank you.” She gently tugged Anna’s arm and the two quietly left.

May exhaled gently and settled into the comfortable bed, the potions working through her body. She would be on her feet within a day or two and back to work by the week’s end.

“I did it,” Anna exhaled with quiet pride. “They can start trusting me as a full adventurer now.” As soon as she completed the thought, sleep overtook her weary mind.

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