Dinner Time of the Gods
by Martin Bolton
King Luther, Lord of the Shadow Planes, Ruler of the distant Mountains of the Sky and Protector of the Realm of Yarden, stood atop the battlements even as they burned beneath his feet. He had been separated from his elite soldiers, the infamous Rock Guard, when the turret on which he had been fighting was hit by a wall of dragon spit – a curtain of white hot liquid flame vomited by the giant winged serpent known as Hellgroth. He alone of his party made it onto the curtain wall and away from that inferno as the very rock from which it was built exploded, shaking the world around him.
Here, only he had made it, having fought savagely from Stonekeep and across the bailey, slaying his enemies as he went. Having made it to the battlements, his gauntlets ablaze, his sword, Demonbane, blackened with bloody soot, he had slain the barbarian invaders in a berserk rage. The same berserk rage that had won him the crown which now felt fiery hot against his scalp.
For now he was alone, the ruins of his home and his people flaming and crackling around him. He could still hear fighting somewhere to his right, he knew it was within the walls of Stone Garden, though to his reeling senses it sounded distant and muffled. The black, cloying smoke and the sudden quiet lent his world a dream-like quality, but he knew this was no dream. The war was not over, nor would it be until he had faced Hellgroth again.
King Luther knew what he must do, though the odds were heavily against him. The dragon had swooped again and again, destroying much of the castle and circling for another attack. This time the great murderous beast had destroyed a tower along with countless men – its own allies included – and flapped away into the distance. Both the invading army and Luther’s own garrison were decimated, the fighting now reduced to isolated skirmishes amongst a sea of the dead. So it had come to this, a face off between king and dragon, neither with anything left to lose.
King Luther began to laugh. Perhaps the madness of war had finally loosened his wits. Everything was gone. All his eleven wives, his twenty four sons, an army of sixty thousand swords, hundreds of knights and lords, all dead: hacked to pieces in bloody battle or burned to cinders by the breath of Hellgroth the Devil-Cook, the most feared and hated dragon who had ever lived. All for what? He thought he had known once, he seemed to remember there being good reasons to fight. To uphold the law, to protect good people from death, from slavery, from fear. But the longer the war had raged on, the less he had to fight for, and the harder he fought. But now it was time to end it, one way or another.
Luther lifted Demonbane towards the horizon. He watched calmly, and waited for his most terrible foe to return. As he saw the distant black spot in the sky approaching, he laughed louder and harder, and the rage of the berserker took him. He would know the glory of war once more, before knowing the glory of death.
The dragon approached, its vast black wings beating, that malevolent shape growing as it came to take him, to send him once and for all to the eternal halls of warrior kings. A lifetime of…
…a lifetime of bloodshed was coming to its close, and part of him felt relief. He was ready, if this was his time, to meet his friends again and feast with the Gods in the afterlife. But before that long awaited time came, he had but one final deed to commit.
Finally, as Hellgroth came to kill his most stubborn and powerful enemy, he opened his great maw and belched a huge ball of flaming liquid – and Luther chose his moment.
“Stone Garden!” he cried as leaped from the turret, clearing the dragon’s deadly saliva. As the last remaining tower of Stone Garden exploded, Demonbane sang. King Luther brought the great sword down with all his considerable might and plunged it into the dragon’s skull.
As they tumbled over and over, the dragon in its death throes clawed desperately at him, but Luther refused to let go his sword. Down they tumbled, past the flaming remains of the curtain wall and in to the moat with a great splash and the deafening hiss of steam as it rose from the serpent’s body.
“Your dinner is ready. What are you doing in the pond? Look at the state of you! Are those my slippers on the dog’s head?”
“Oh my goodness! You’re covered in mud and slime. You’ll kill all the fish!”
“I’m slaying the dragon.”
“Clean yourself up, young man, and get to the table, its dinner time.”
“You can’t decide that, I’m the king here.”
“Right, that’s it. We’ll see what your father has to say about this. Ted! Ted!”
“What is it?”
“Martin has been buggering about in your rock garden with the dog again. He’s ended up in the pond! Ted?”
“Can you come out here and talk to your son please?”
“I can’t right now.”
“I’m astral travelling with John Lennon.”
“Oh for God’s sake.”