Monday, May 6, 2013

The Mighty Dwagon

Good day  humans! I apologise for the lateness of this post. Generally I have the next Passage of the Planeswalkers installment ready for you early on a Tuesday morning. Last Tuesday however, I was completely beat and had no energy to pull the words from my head and paste them on the screen. So, without furter ado, here it is.

Mange, Jet-Ulfgar, Rathalohse, Lereahl, Wolfenight and Dragonheart were stocking up on supplies before their next foray beyond the magical crystal gates of Lisseth. Mange was doing what Mange did best nowadays – terrifying shopkeepers – when another person entered the already crowded store. Everybody turned to look at this strange newcomer. He was tall and brutish, his chunky muscles bound in dirty scraps of leather. He had dreadlocks and a dark olive complexion. Behind him trotted a small bright eyed, bipedal dinosaur. Mange was suddenly distracted – much to the shopkeeper’s relief. He ran up to the stranger.
“Who are you?”
The stranger looked quit alarmed at being confronted by what appeared to be a child carrying a great sword, two harpoons and wearing the skull of a giant snake as a helmet.
“Er. Tarloch.” The man spoke slowly and with a thick accent.
“Where are you from? Not around here obviously.”
Tarloch blinked and replied slowly.
“Tarloch is from the great jungle. Tarloch came to this place to use his magic. Was told I had a spark?”
“Oh! So you’re a druid then. That explains your dinosaur friend. What’s his name?”
“Uh… Dinosaur.”
“Dinosaur the dinosaur. Awesome.” Mange grinned. He called over his shoulder.
“Jet! Can we keep the druid?”
Jet-Ulfgar shrugged, looking the man up and down.
“He looks strong enough. I’ve been hearing word that the gates have been transporting Planeswalkers into realms with many more monsters of late. We could do with another pair of hands.”

Tarloch was hesitant at first, but soon followed the others as they disappeared one at a time through the sizzling white magic swirling under the crystal arch of Lisseth. The blinding whiteness was unusually quick to dissipate this time, dropping the band of seven into a huge, triangular canyon. The walls were sheer cliffs, and from every angle, a huge army bore down on the Planeswalkers. With cries of shock and fear, they cowered, waiting for the many slavering beasts to crash down upon them. Suddenly, the roar of the battle stopped. None of the seven moved for a moment. The one head came up, looking around in confusion.
“They’ve all stopped,” said Dragonheart.
The others got up too, looking around in astonishment. And so they had. All around them were hundreds of warriors, all frozen in the moment of collision right at the centre of the battlefield.
“What happened?” asked Jet.
“Not a clue,” replied Lereahl.
Now that they didn’t seem to be in any imminent danger, it was apparent that there were three distinct armies here. One consisted of an assortment of dinosaurs. There were tiny creatures on the frontlines, much like Tarloch’s companion. Behind them, were a range of larger raptors and four enormous sauropods. Their necks stretched high over the battlefield. Further behind them were three larger bipedal dinosaurs with razor-sharp toe claws, long toothy snouts and rather intelligent eyes.
Another army consisted of the spiny carapaces of giant insects. There were swarms upon swarms of dog sized creatures with mandibles and spikes, large vicious looking six legged creatures in the process of spitting frozen globs of horrid green goo, and right at the back, an enormous segmented creature with lethal claws and pincers flanked by two smaller, similar creatures.
The last army, was of dragons. There were troops of smaller dragonlings at the front, Four larger, spiny dragons in the middle and at the back, protected by tough, tank-like, six-legged dragons, was a huge, regal black dragon. One could only stand and stare in awe at the sight of the three great armies frozen on the cusp of war.
“What are we supposed to do?” asked Lereahl, moving closer to examine a dragonling.
“I have no idea… But this place feels of magic. Everywhere I can feel a faint… magic. Either that, or I’m still hung over,” said Wolfenight, standing in the middle of the battlefield, looking a little stunned.
Rath had wandered off in the opposite direction, and was bent over one of the now motionless bug warriors. He reached out with a curious finger to tap the shiny carapace. Suddenly, he felt a strange pull. He gave a squawk of surprise that made everyone turn to look. For a second Rath and the bug seemed to blur, then Rath vanished altogether. He looked to have been sucked into the insect warrior. The bug shifted and shook its head. It looked different now – it was wearing a top hat.
“Hey. What happened?” came Rath’s voice, clicking between the mandibles. Everyone rushed over and crowded around the Rath-bug.
“It looks like you’ve somehow merged with the warrior,” said Jet, peering into Rath’s insect face.
“The question is, can you get out?” asked Lereahl, looking slightly grossed out.
Rath’s bug-like face creased in concentration for a moment and then he blurred. Suddenly, he was standing beside them again, completely human.
“Wow. So we can join with any of these creatures?” asked Mange peering around at the motionless battlefield.
“It seems so,” replied Rath, straightening his top hat.
“Perhaps then the armies will unfreeze?” asked Dragonheart.
“Perhaps,” replied Jet.
“In that case, I want to be a dragon!” squeaked Mange, pelting off towards one of the hulking tank-like dragons.

After discussing for a few moments, the seven decided that they would all merge with the dragon army. Mange was already combined with one of the tank-dragons as they others chose their ‘steeds’. His features had transferred over to the creature, giving it the appearance of having a huge bladed front leg. This was the barbarian’s great sword. The dragon’s head was patterned with white, resembling Mange’s snake-skull helmet, and two large, barbed retractable spines sat atop his back in place of his harpoons.
Jet chose the other tank-dragon and it gained a large bladed leg too. Replacing his huge, bashing shield was a great bony plate around his neck. His dragon also sprouted a rather splendid red beard.
“Hah!” rumbled Mange. “You’re a dwarf dragon. You’re a Dwagon!”
Jet gave him a very dragonish frown, but then smiled smugly.
“And yet, you are still smaller than I,” he said.
Mange opened his mouth to retort, but could say nothing. His dragon had indeed grown smaller to suit him. He snorted furiously at the dirt instead.
Rath, Dragonheart, Lereahl and Tarloch were all assimilated into four of the smaller, leaner dragons, and found that their ranged weapons had now become spiny projectiles.
“Hah! Now I really am a Dragonheart!” said the halfling, flexing her claws.
Rath couldn’t help notice that Lereahl’s dragon changed suit the sleek, handsome half-elf, becoming a slim, graceful beast. It even had his long eyelashes.
Wolfenight was the last to wander into the forest of statuesque creatures. Looking almost by accident, he found himself in the body of the great, regal black dragon. The black dragon gained a look of slight bewilderment and the horns on its head twisted up into a strange pointed shape, reminding one of a pointed wizard’s hat. Drizard Wolfenight blinked his huge, gleaming black eyes, let out a roar and flapped his great wings.
“This form is… is… fantastic! I DON’T NEED PANTS!” he growled joyously, oblivious to the clamor of the suddenly animated battlefield.

Whether it was from the freedom of not wearing pants anymore, or the cunning of the black dragon’s mind, Wolfenight was ably directing the dragon army. Their minds seemed to be linked somehow, allowing all of the dragons to see and hear what every other dragon could.
“Troops! We are going to try to flank left! I don’t like the look of those three bigger raptors at the back of the dinosaur army. They could give us some serious trouble.”
The dragon army swarmed into action. The pseudo-dragons on the front lines were commanded to hold their positions and continue attacking the smaller bugs and dinosaurs. Rath and Lereahl moved around to the left and shot spines towards the shifty, intelligent raptors, but unfortunately missed both times. Dragonheart was luckier, hitting one of them in the eye. Mange and Jet left the Drizard’s side and charged at one of the enormous sauropods. They barely marked its thick hide.
Wolfenight’s magic, he found, was still accessible in the great black dragon’s claws. With a swipe, he sent a bolt of it towards one of the cunning raptors. The creature was nimble and smart enough to dodge the blast.
Further to their right, the dinosaur and insect armies were duking it out. Three of the huge sauropods were in among the tiny foot-soldiers, crushing bugs and pseudo-dragons. The latter were given the order to retreat, and with the help of the sauropods’ great feet and Lereahl, Dragonheart and Rath’s well-placed spines, the tiny dinosaurs and bug swarms were soon dwindling. The Queen bug and her troop of poison spitters were advancing, their acidic green spit taking down one of the huge, long-necked dinosaurs.
Mange was still battering at the sauropod he’d first engaged. It was dazed after a swipe of magic from Wolfenight but was still not going down. Dragonheart attempted to help, flinging a spine at the huge dinosaur. His aim was a little off as he was still getting used to his dragon form and he accidentally hit Mange in the shoulder instead. The great tank-dragon growled furiously at the rogue, but then turned its rage on the sauropod. Finally, the beast was subdued.
Jet had turned to confront the cunning raptors now. One of them was able to dodge two attacks, but then was downed by a spine thrown by Dragonheart. The two remaining raptors were not looking so smug now. They and their slowly dwindling army were being sandwiched between the dragons and the insects. One of them screamed and launched itself at Jet, rolling him over and pinning him where it could bite at his softer underbelly. Mange roared and threw himself at the other raptor, taking it by surprise and crushing it with a huge blow from his bladed foreleg. The creature that was clawing desperately at Jet’s neck knew that it was the only one of its kind left as the Queen insect and her spitters took out the last of the sauropods. It screeched in pain, looking up to see that Torlach’s pet dinosaur, which was now bonded with a tiny dragon and looking pretty much the same as it usually did, had rushed in and nipped it on the tip of its tail. This gave Rath the perfect opportunity and he shot the raptor squarely between the eyes. The dinosaur army was defeated.

There were no pseudo-dragons left, apart from Torlach’s pet. The spitters had seen to that. The bug army was slowly advancing upon the dragons as they formed ranks, pushing their way past dinosaur corpses.
“Torlach, can you call upon anything to obscure their vision?” asked Wolfenight.
The burly dragon nodded and raised a claw. There was a soft rushing sound and suddenly a heavy fog descended between the two armies. The dragons were now standing at the very edge of a soft, wispy white cloud. They would have the advantage as the bug army emerged one by one from the mist.
Everything was quiet. The dragon army was motionless. Every eye was focused on the mist, preparing to attack whatever emerged. Adrenaline could be felt singing through every vein via the strange dragon hive mind. The minutes stretched into hours. The cloud of fog seemed to settle gently, falling and spreading outwards. Suddenly, there came a shout.
“The spitters! They’ve come around the mist!” called Rath.
“Archers! Druid! Take them out!” commanded the Drizard. Tarloch raised his claws again, muttered some strange words and called forth a huge scaly green crocodile amidst one group of spitters. The creature snapped and hissed, pulling a spitter off its legs with a grizzly crunch. Lereahl, Rath and Dragonheart set to work taking out the rest.
There was a strangled roar and a strange scraping, scuttling sound on the front line. The earth moved beneath one of the remaining spiny dragons. Bursting from the ground and shredding the creature in a spray of hot red blood was the Queen bug. She had burrowed under the mist and up into the dragon army. Her commander bugs were not far behind, emerging from the earth right at the edges of the front line, behind Mange and Tarloch. The Queen turned and with a great slice of her pincers, she shredded the other spiny dragon. Mange and Jet threw themselves at the Queen. She turned her shiny, multifaceted eyes towards them and hissed menacingly as she retaliated furiously.
Rath and Lereahl were finishing off the remainder of the spitter bugs as Tarloch battled the commander bug that had appeared behind him. The insect was beating him though. Bleeding and heavily wounded, the druid had no choice but to retreat into the fog. The commander bug did not follow, instead it burrowed again.
The Queen had curled herself slightly. Mange and Jet landed a few more hits, wondering why she was no longer attacking them. Their questions were answered mere seconds after this as she reared back, spraying a hail of poison darts outwards. Every dragon in the surrounding fight was hit. Wolfenight keened in pain and retreated a distance. He had no more defense as a dragon than as a human.
The Barbardragon and the Dwagon were still battering away at the Queen bug. She was showing the signs. Green blood leaked from wounds in her carapace. The green blood seemed to fizz slightly and burned the warriors’ skin when it landed on them. Rath, no spitter bugs now to shoot at, aimed at the Queen. His spine however, hit Jet. The Dwagon growled at him, the dragon-mind link showing that the ranger had been thinking about cheese rather than concentrating on aiming. He had to concentrate now as the commander bug that had burrowed earlier burst out of the ground behind him. Rath screamed and took off into the fog. However, he was still able to see the battle going on through the dragon’s mind-link. Taking careful aim, he was able to land a good shot on the Queen. There was an instant confirmation from every mind in the link that if Rath could land hits through others’ eyes, but not his own, that he needed glasses.
Mange was still attacking the Queen with all he had, but his movements were slowing. He was latticed with cuts and gouges and the bubbling green blood of the Queen was searing his scaled hide. Dragonheart took a deep breath and a run-up and executed a fantastic tumble right between the Queen and Jet. Leaping up again, he pulled a health potion from the saddle bags he wore across his back and hastily fed it to the halfling. Several of Mange’s wounds closed in an instant. The fizzing green blood dripped away. He stood up, a new gleam in his eye. He looked at Jet as the dwarf battled the Queen bug.
“Out of the way, Dwagon!” he roared.
Jet looked around to see the Barbardragon sailing through the air towards the Queen. His annoyed look turned to one of shock and he ducked out of the way. Mange’s bladed foreleg came down, slicing straight through the Queen’s shiny shell from the sheer weight of the falling dragon, shearing deep through her slimy green innards. Mange and the Queen fell to the ground where she twitched and squealed as she died. The commander bugs also fell to the ground, hissing and squealing, unable to survive once their Queen was dead. Mange got to his six legs, triumphant and covered in green blood. The dragon army cheered.

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