Front Lines Chapter Four: The Frog Dragon Croaks
Well, it didn’t actually explode. Something had erupted from the bottom of the lake and was entering the cave. It was about thirty feet long, and looked like a giant grey-skinned salamander, only it had huge wings, like something you might see on a flying fish. It opened it’s mouth, revealing a massive tongue the size of a sofa. It roared, which sort of sounded like a ribbit, only it was accompanied by some sort of black fog that burst out of the monster’s mouth. Me and Jacob ran towards a small opening in the wall of the cave, and dove into it. Unfortunately, it didn’t lead anywhere, so we just hid. Suddenly, I heard a voice.
There was the sound of multiple laser beams, and I crawled out of the hiding place only to find that fifteen Mimis, led by Judge Fairy himself, were using those flagpole weapons to trap the monster. The creature groaned, and dove back into the lake. Judge Fairy marched over to me, and Jacob, who had crawled out, too. “What, he said, his voice tinged with a bad temper. “Were you doing there? That was a fully-grown Amphibian Dragon! Just because you’re being chased by Romanian Lindworms-which, by the way, we also handled, no thanks to you-does not mean you dive into a dragon-infested lake!” Burlida, who had been supervising the Amphibian Dragon’s capture, interrupted our conversation. “Zakes,” she said calmly. “Leave the mortals alone, will you? How were they supposed to know an Amphibian Dragon lives here?” Zakes scowled and attended to the dragon. “But seriously,” Burlida sighed. “Over fourteen species of true dragons and five species of untrue dragons, two of which are native only to this Garden, live here.” I was a little curious. “So,” I said. “How many species of dragon ARE there, anyway?”
“Five hundred true species, twenty-five untrue species, like Romanian Lindworms, and ten that science is only beginning to recognize. Five hundred and thirty-five species in all.”
“How many can live underwater?”
“Counting the Amphibian Dragon? One.”
I was about to say something, but I heard a gurgling roar and some yells, along with words that I really shouldn’t have heard, given my age. Burlida yelled something. “Cur semper eveniunt!” I later learned that this was “Why does this always happen?” in Latin. It turns out that the Amphibian Dragon had broken loose, and was rampaging around the cave. I activated my spear/staff, and lunged at the dragon. It just belched out more black fog, and suddenly my head was getting very heavy. I fell over backwards, and the last thing I saw before I blacked out was a swarm of Romanian Lindworms jumping from the cave entrance and attacking the dragon.
I woke up with a start, lying on the lake’s shore, near a forest of those black-needles pine trees. Jason was looking into my face, his eyes full of concern. “You okay?” he asked, hesitantly. “I guess,” I replied. “How long have I been out?”
“A couple of hours. Burlida says that an Amphibian Dragon’s breath weapon won’t kill you, but it WILL knock you out for a bit.”
“What happened back there?”
“You probably saw. The Lindworms.”
That’s when something exploded out of the lake. The corpse of the Amphibian Dragon, falling back into the water like a whale breaching. I gasped. Jacob put a hand on my shoulder to calm me down, but I leaped to my feet-and instantly fell back down again. “Cool your jets,” Jacob said. “Amphibian Dragon poison toys with your senses. Best if you just lie down for a while. I kept still for a second, then slowly got back up again. This time, though, I stayed standing. Something suddenly emerged from the forest, and me and Jacob simultaneously screamed.
It was nine feet tall, and looked like a bleached-white skeleton, only it’s head was unnaturally large at the scalp. It’s bones were also streaked with blood. It had four arms and carried a rapier in each hand. My instincts instantly told me what it was. Given that my family was international, I had heard enough boogeyman stories to kill an African Elephant of fright. This thing was called a Bloody Bones. Two more identical monsters walked out of the woods, and I knew we were in trouble. We drew our weapons and prepared for a fight.
The first Bloody Bones lunged at us, but I managed to block him with my staff. “Argh!” he wheezed. “You know how much trouble it is to kill a human, LET ALONE a human with a magical staff?” Jacob responded by smashing his skull with his dagger. The other two managed to corner us against a big rock. I cut off one’s hand, sending his rapier skidding across the pebbles. It snarled and slashed my arm. I felt a stab of pain rocket up my arm, and I knew it must have cut pretty bad. I swung my staff at his feet, and he crumpled to the ground. Jacob did the same, and we ran off into the trees before reinforcements could arrive. I saw a Mimi transport in a clearing, and climbed aboard. Sure enough, Burlida was at the controls. “Hey there,” she said. “Just the two mortals I wanted to see! Listen, I don’t know if you’ve heard, but there’s been a boogeyman uprising.” I told her yes, we knew, we were attacked by a trio of Bloody Bones. She continued. “Zakes thinks that someone’s been masterminding this whole thing from phase one, and he thinks he knows who. Now, climb aboard. We’re going to Cleveland.”