The Whisperer in Darkness
Poobeyr and Bombur run to Gravilla’s aid and take up positions around the dragon, where they begin a united attack. Lumen again abandons his shark and runs through the right-hand corridor, jumping expertly over each pressure plate that confronts him to emerge into the chamber in a perfect sniping position. Grimlock, still wishing for a flying steed, tries to reason with the frenzied creature. He gets no further than “How are you?” before giving up and joining his companions on the front line. The dragon makes a sweep with its tail, attempting to knock down its opponents, then unleashes a great flame from its maw that sets Poobeyr and Gravilla alight. Wistark moves back into the cowardly shelter of the corridor, but at least manages to summon the Flaming Sphere to take his place on the battlefield.
The big red reptile makes another tail sweep, knocking down those too distracted by fire to keep their wits about them. As it leans close to release another flamethrower, Grimlock jumps onto its head and runs up its spine, taking a place on its back where he can strike at its leathery wings. Bombur’s beard proves to be generous kindling for dragonfire, and the dwarf joins Gravilla and Poobeyr in slowly burning to death. These three brave warriors continue to fight doggedly even as they are badly singed by their own clothes and hair. The dragon takes a moment to shake Grimlock off its back, then lunges with claws and teeth at those who continue to inflict painful blows of axe and hammer.
The Flaming Sphere, meanwhile, is failing to live up to its usual standard. This is no surprise, considering that Wistark is wielding it blindly from the corridor. Sensing the dire state of his front line companions, the wizard re-enters the room and focuses more intently on fighting fire with fire. On the other side of the dragon, Lumen has a brilliant idea. He attaches his stone-headed arrow to the rope slung over his shoulder, and charges at the monsterous fiend. As he nears the dragon he fires this arrow through its wing. It breaks through the thin bat-like wing canvas and falls on the other side, followed by a thread of rope.
Lumen powerslides under the dragon’s dark belly, picking up the arrow as he goes, and gets up on the other side to fire the same arrow again through the dragon’s second wing. The two wings are now loosely bound to each other, and Lumen plans to use this to great effect. Bombur, Gravilla, Grimlock and Poobeyr lie collapsed and defenceless at the beast’s feet, so there are only seconds to spare. He is just about to tighten the rope, causing the dragon to be constricted brilliantly within its own wings, when the Flaming Sphere smites the monster, ironically, by setting it on fire.
Cheated of his most clever victory yet, Lumen vainly completes his manouever, indeed confining the dead dragon within its own wings. Unfortunately, its vacant, glossy eyed stare makes this look more pathetic than inspired. Wistark dispels the Sphere to reduce the ambient heat a notch, then revives Gravilla and Poobeyr. Soon Grimlock and Bombur are also back on their feet. When the dwarf discovers that his beard has been burnt off in the fires, he is unconsolable. He throws an incredible tantrum, runs back down the corridor and throws himself into the river. As he is swept downstream he bawls salty tears into its froth. The rest of the group remain where they are and are somewhat surprised by this turn of events.