“Alright, what’s the plan?” Simon asked. We were as dignified as we could be while hiding in the bushes that grew wildly along the path toward the dragon’s tower.
“We kill it,” Brom said. “Who needs a plan?”
“How are we just going to kill it?” I asked. “It’s a flying furnace!”
“Shhh.” Luella held a finger in front of her lips, but her eyes were trained on the dragon resting atop of the tower’s roof. “Perhaps someone can distract it, bring it down lower, then a couple of others can help slay it. The fourth can find a way into the tower and see if there is anyone in there who can be freed.”
“You mean if there’s anyone who is not a crispy corpse?” I asked dryly while holding back a sneeze.
Casually, Luella responded, “That’s right.”
“Well, you have the lock picks.” Simon nudged me. “I vote you do the tower climbing. Who wants to be the distraction?” The rest of us stared at him, and he rolled his eyes. “Seriously, why am I always the distraction?”
“You have the biggest mouth,” Brom said without missing a beat. “Lu and I will be your back-up. Get the dragon low enough so my axe can impale it and Lu’s spells can reach it.”
Simon grumbled even as he unhooked his harp from the back of his pack. “Think it likes folk music?”
“Since when can you play folk music on a harp?” Bard asked.
“Since always,” Simon retorted. “Your uncouth ears just can never tell the difference.”
“Be careful,” I said as Simon left our wayward hiding place. I didn’t take too much longer in leaving as well, taking a roundabout way to reach the base of the tower. Huddling in the shadows of the stone building, I carefully looked up, praying to whatever gods Luella calls on for her spells that the dragon wouldn’t notice me.
Judging by how quickly the reptile’s head spun around when I heard the first plinks of Simon’s harp, I wouldn’t have to worry. While Simon’s music wasn’t that bad, he was a much better distraction than a musician.
I paused long enough to allow the dragon’s wings to stretch out, catching the wind as it brought along snatches of Simon’s song. As soon as the dragon took off from the roof, I circled the tower to find the door by the base and got to work on the lock.
Three lock picks later, I was inside and face with a spiraling staircase. I took them two at a time until I started to get a stitch in my side, and any sense of urgency went out the very few windows I passed.
“This is punishment for not joining the others on Brom’s workout regimen at the last town, isn’t it?” I muttered to whatever god wished to listen.
There was a screech from outside the tower and the telltale sound of shattering ice. Luella must have used some sort of freezing spell, no doubt to counter any sort of fire that the dragon expelled. Brom’s explicit-filled voice shouted with battle cries and rage, accompanied by the occasional crash.
All while some cheery folk music was plucked from a harp.
“Finally.” I reached the landing at the top of the stairs only to face a heavy, black iron door. Jiggling the knob, I hoped that I had enough lock picks to break through the lock mechanisms.
“Who’s there?” asked a voice from inside.
“A rescue party,” I responded. “Don’t worry, we’ll get you out in a few minutes—”
“Rescue party?” The voice was utterly baffled. “I didn’t order a rescue party.”
“The village did,” I said, “and we always deliver. Sit tight, I’ll get the door open soon–!”
The door swung open from the inside and, after regaining my balance from almost pitching forward, I found myself staring at a skinny, dark-skinned man, his eyebrows furrowed as he scrutinized me.
I took a deep breath as realization dawned. “You don’t need rescuing.”
“I do not,” he said with a simple head shake. “If you excuse me, I need to see what is upsetting Toasty—”
“Well, yes, one of the first things he burned was my bread when he was no bigger than us—”
“You have GOT to be kidding me!” I threw my hands up in the air. “The rest of my party was distracting the dragon so I could rescue whoever was stuck here in the tower.”
“I suggest you call them off,” the man said mildly, turning to the large window on the far side of the wall. “I would be very upset if they hurt Toasty, and I’m sure you would be upset if Toasty hurt them.”