Fiction - The AO Story Collective

Rough In the Diamond

Mike Podgor
The sun set behind the crumbling city that had not so long ago been Cleveland. The circumstances behind its destruction had enveloped the world and unlocked the Shadow and Glare races from their long dormancy. Mankind survived, in a limited capacity, and since they were neither Shadow nor Glare their allegiance varied. One of these humans, a cleric known as Father Bill, had started traveling with the half-breed druid Granola Bob, the outcast kobold mage Morpo, and Roy, a silent mechanical man whose purpose was to reclaim the lands the Shadow had conquered.

“They saw the dragon land inside the stadium,” said Father Bill, leaning on his staff, “I don’t suppose any of you remember baseball?”

“Funny how all those baseball players and whatnot were the first to go when the Shadow fell,” replied Granola Bob, leaning against the monolithic edifice of a God of Transportation, “My father was a nerd. He knew what was going down.”

“If you’re any louder you’ll wake the damned beast,” Morpo growled, “I’ve got my spells ready. Let’s get on with it.”

“You were more fun when you were evil,” grumbled Granola Bob, “Well, padre, we going in?”

Father Bill nodded and the quartet started walking towards the overgrown stadium. They climbed over (and in Morpo’s case, under) the turnstyles and made their way through the hallways. They expected some sort of resistance, but it would seem that not even the Shadow races would camp in the den of a dragon. They walked until they could see the great beast, sleeping atop a mound of melted metal. Pure gold was hard to come by, after all, but a dragon needed its bed. The party halted and retreated, knowing full well that if the dragon had seen them, their only escape would be death.

“How are we supposed to kill something that big? Not even the troll was that big,” moaned Granola Bob, “That thing probably eats trolls when it’s peckish.”

Father Bill placed his hand on the druid’s shoulder, “Have faith. As we have found each other in these trying times, we will find a way to overcome this obstacle.”

“I read that Bible of yours. Can’t your God smite the damned thing?” asked Morpo, “It’d save us some time.”

“He doesn’t work like that, not anymore,” Father Bill smiled, “You see, that was only in the Old Testament. In the New Testament – “

Granola Bob raised a hand to silence him, “Stop trying to convert us. We know you’re an okay guy, but we got our own gods.”

“I suppose,” Father Bill leaned against the wall, and noticed a robot-shaped hole in the scenery, “Wait, where’s Roy?”

The mechanical man was already half-way across what had once been a baseball field with his sword raised. The dragon slept, not noticing Roy’s scent amongst his other metals.

“Christ on a cross,” swore Granola Bob quietly, who gladly dishonored all gods save his own, “He’s going to get himself melted.”

“On it,” said Morpo as he hopped away, hands moving as he readied a spell.

“You know, it wouldn’t be too hard to find another warrior and mage,” whispered Granola Bob, “The bars around here are probably filled with warriors, and there’s that old school just down the road.”

“We do not abandon our friends and allies to the Shadow,” said Father Bill, “At least, I don’t.”

The priest followed the robot and kobold. The robot was ineffectively hacking at the dragon’s flank while the kobold called forth a rain of fire. The dragon was awake, if drowsy, and was watching his attackers apathetically. Father Bill took to his knees and began to pray, hoping that he’d be able to call forth the power he had experienced only once. If not, he had his revolver and first aid kit in his pack. Not that it would do much against a dragon’s rage, he supposed. Unfortunately, this show of faith only seemed to stir the dragon. It rose and lifted its nose to the heavens, sending forth flame and fury.

“Lord, give us strength to die with some dignity,” prayed Father Bill.

“Lay off it, you guys,” yelled Granola Bob, “The poor thing didn’t mean to hurt anyone!”

Roy’s head turned and he slowly stopped his assault, while Morpo fell back to relative safety. Father Bill smiled and whispered, “Thank you. Amen.”

Granola Bob placed his hand on the dragon’s flank and shut his eyes. Father Bill could almost feel the natural energies swirl around him, and the dragon’s front feet once again touched the ground. It turned its head towards the druid and growled soft and low.

“That’s it, girl, tell me what’s wrong,” Granola Bob said soothingly. The dragon responded, and the druid smiled, “Don’t worry. Hey, guys, she doesn’t want any trouble. Just needed a place to lay her brood, is all, and once they’re flying age they’re going to head south. She says she won’t hurt anyone until then, unless they hurt her first, and she won’t do any more damage to this town than what’s been done to it.”

“She could probably stay, if she promised allegiance to the Glare,” said Father Bill.

“Dragons don’t roll like that,” Granola Bob grinned, “If they got caught up with all this nonsense, she says, what happened to the world will seem like a summer storm.”

“She has a point,” said Morpo, “There’s still legends about the tamed dragons of the Shadow Proctor.”

Father Bill shivered at the name, “Could you apologize for us, then, and tell her we’ll be on our way? I think there’s a cathedral somewhere around here we could spend the night. I’d chance the school but you know how those mages tend to get.”

“We’re a pain,” agreed Morpo.

“Done,” said Granola Bob, petting the dragon a final time, “Nice to get through one of these encounters without blood getting everywhere, huh?”

“Indeed,” said Father Bill, as the quartet made their way out of the stadium, “Indeed.”