Challenge #02165-E336: To Cross the Lake of Certain DeathsteemCreated with Sketch.

in fiction •  9 months ago  (edited)

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So long, and thanks for all the ghoti. -- Anon Guest

They were large, piscine lifeforms, big enough to swallow a Goliath whole, and the lake they inhabited was as large as an entire country. It would take too long to go around. They had to go across somehow.

"You can fly, right?" said Anthe. "Just zip us across?"

Wraithvine said, "Look for what isn't here," and summoned an illusory globe via Prestidigitation and floated it out over the surface. It fizzled and died when the water was just deep enough to drown in. "Anti-magic field."

Now Anthe noticed. There were no Faeries by the shore, and they always played by the water. They adored nature magic and some said they fed off it when they weren't taking tiny bites out of unguarded travellers[1]. They were such a normal part of the landscape that they were generally ignored unless they were a problem. In this case, they indicated a problem. She summed up this realisation with the words, "Oh fuck..."

"Ghoti like the ones in the lake absorb magic as part of their biology. The larger they are, the more they soak up. These have no enemies, they've eaten it all... We'd need something as large as a Dragon to deal with them..."

"Um," said Anthe. "Like that Dragon we trapped in that magic crystal?"

"The crystal we were supposed to give to King Wihifas?"

Anthe brought out a crystal from her pack. "I... might... have passed off a fake..."

"Anthe..."

"He was only going to keep it in his stupid Hall of Treasures anyway. Never going to use it. It was just going to collect dust and look interesting and be a story. A Dragon like that needs a better story, I thought..."

"Anthe, that was pure brilliance."

"I mean, sure it's got a big appetite, but it's a big beast. It wasn't doing a lot to the countryside and-- wait. Did you just say I was brilliant?"

"Yes. You have been brilliant. This is excellent. Two birds, one stone. Well. Gemstone. You release our hungering friend, we aim him at the lake, problem solved!"

"Aren't Dragons also magical?"

"Not as thoroughly as Faeries," allowed Wraithvine. "Let's let the poor creature out. All the fish they can eat."

Anthe carefully pointed the Door face of the crystal out over the water and said, "Open!"

A glow, a flash of light, and an impossible amount of Dragon poured out of the crystal, landing in the water with a cry of, "I hunger!"

One of the giant Ghoti in the lake made the mistake of trying to eat the Dragon's foot. It had a brief and interesting view on the way to a very hungry maw. Three bites and it was gone.

"We told you that you'd be released into a better hunting zone," said Wraithvine, speaking very quickly and precisely. "This lake is full to the brim with giant Ghoti."

"All you can eat," added Anthe. "All we ask is that you ferry us to the other side once you've filled your belly."

If the Dragon heard them, they didn't give any sign, just dove into the water with an eager growl. The water seemed to boil with activity. This caused the adventuring pair to retreat further uphill to a vantage point where they could camp and observe the ruckus. Several large bodies were churning the surface, and every now and then a Dragon head would clear the froth just long enough to take a breath.

"Someone's having fun," said Anthe.

Wraithvine had their eyes closed. "It's working. The magic is dribbling back into this area. There's a long way to go, but it's starting. This place will be healed in good time."

"When they run out of fish, you think that Dragon will go after the really big predators?" There were some nasty ones in the area, especially nasty to a Kobold, who would be an easy snack for some of them.

"I'm pretty sure they will," said Wraithvine. "Only room for one really big predator in this area."

On the positive side of that statement, an easier road for travellers and explorers. On the minus side... big, hungry dragon.

The water stopped churning close to sunset, and the Dragon emerged from the water with a satisfied expression and an obviously full stomach. They lounged on some rocks heated by the sun and laid their head down by the campfire. "That," they said, "was most satisfying. Thank you. Come the dawn, I will take you where you need to go."

Deal honestly with Dragons, and they will do the same for you.

[1] Faeries are hive-minded insectoid creatures who apparently live off of blood and magic. One Faerie can bite and scratch, to minimal effect, but the Fae come in swarms and they are never, ever, nice.

[Image (c) Can Stock Photo / frenta]

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