Contest entry: Death Gaze’s Hoard
By Amanda Cox
Age 11, Red Lion
The dragonlets were jeering at FlashBolt again. FlashBolt shrunk back making himself look smaller than normal. This resulted in shrieks of laughter from his nestmates. Almost since FlashBolt had hatched he had been seen as nothing more than a plaything for the other dragonlets to bully. All because he was a runt, and as if that wasn’t humiliating enough, he had to be the only dragon in history that couldn’t fly. Every day he told himself he wouldn’t go through this but he had yet to work up the courage to confront them.
VineCreep was the worst. With venomous fangs and a quick temper he was always looking for an excuse to pick on FlashBolt. It wasn’t that VineCreep was the strongest of the dragonlets, quite the opposite in fact. VineCreep was a scrawny, weak, pathetic thing with a face like a warthog that had been smashed on the snout with a club. He wasn’t a pretty sight by any means. That was the problem. The only dragonlet weaker than him happened to be FlashBolt. No one really cared what happened to Flashbolt and that made it easy for VineCreep to make a name for himself by acting tough and bullying him. The other dragons didn’t care. In their opinion VineCreep was the “Strongest of them all.”
Today will be different! FlashBolt told himself, I swear it will! It was at that particular moment when VineCreep chose to strike. Not physically, but with terrible insults
“Is it true?” VineCreep asked, “That you don’t have a hoard? Not one gold coin?”
“And I suppose some diamonds materialized in your nest sometime in the last three days?” FlashBolt retaliated. VineCreep turned red, whether from rage or embarrassment was undetermined.
“At least I’m not an orphan!” VineCreep snapped. FlashBolt recoiled as if he’d been hit. VineCreep knew FlashBolt hated being called an orphan. “What about your mother? I hear she went crazy after her first group of children were killed, started having flashbacks, then finally walked off a cliff in the middle of the night, soundlessly. As for your father, he was a little shady, kept to himself, disappeared five years ago without a trace. His body was found outside a deserted cave a few months ago, his eyes glassy but with an expression of pure terror on his face. No wonder you’re a runt! I wouldn’t be surprised if—.” He got no further. Flashbolt tackled him and they were transformed into a squirming ball of reptilian limbs and claws. The dragonlets started cheering VineCreep on and they weren’t disappointed. Seconds later FlashBolt was thrown across the cavern and hit a rock, slumping to the ground where he struggled to remain conscious. “See? What did I tell you, he’s a wimp!” boasted VineCreep.
“One day I’ll show you,” FlashBolt hissed, “I’ll own a treasure hoard that will make all of your precious gems seem like dirty pebbles from the lake bed!” This didn’t quite get the reaction he was hoping for. The dragonlets stared at him for a moment and then burst out laughing so hard they would have been crying if they hadn’t been reptiles. “I will!” he shouted,
“Just you wait!”
“And where are you going to get it from?” Asked VineCreep, “It’s not like you could fight anyone for it, and hoards like that aren’t just left lying around!” FlashBolt paused. He hadn’t thought of that, the dragonlets started laughing again.
“Look at him!” One jeered, “Have you even seen something more pathetic?” Anger bubbled up inside FlashBolt like an active volcano.
“You want to know where I’ll get it from?” FlashBolt snapped, “Fine, I’ll win it from a Basilisk!” The laughter stopped instantly. Basilisks were the most deadly of all the known creatures. One look into their glowing red eyes could kill you! The last living Basilisk was DeathGaze, it was said it hoarded gems of the upmost purity and beauty. DeathGaze got its wealth from thousands of destroyed villages. It hid itself in a cave up on The Mountain of Anxiety. It had been over two thousand years since the last attempt to kill DeathGaze and the location of its lair was all but forgotten. VineCreep stepped forwards and grabbed FlashBolt by the horns. He leaned closer, until their faces were only inches apart, and uttered three, almost unintelligible words.
“Do it then.”
FlashBolt was unprepared for this aggressive confrontation. He fell back as the dragonlets started jeering again.
“Wake up you useless, reptilian, fire-breathing lump!” someone shouted in FlashBolt’s ear. Shocked, he leaped forward and bit the culprit on the wing. “OUCH!” someone hissed, “What was that for? Do you want us to get caught?” It was then that FlashBolt realized it was VineCreep. He didn’t let go.
“Wha er oo oing?” He asked, still with a mouthful of wing.
“Release my wing and maybe I’ll tell you.” VineCreep said. FlashBolt let go and VineCreep observed his damaged limb. “Look what you did! I won’t be able to fly for a month!” he moaned.
“All right, what do you want?” FlashBolt asked, exasperated.
“Just follow me!” VineCreep said.
“What do you want with me?” FlashBolt asked.
“I need someone to shield me if the basilisk attacks.”
“You’re going to fight DeathGaze? You’re scared aren’t you?”
“No I’m not! Just follow me!” VineCreep snapped.
VineCreep led him to the cave that belonged to the leader of their clan.
“Are you crazy!?! FlashBolt asked, “If we get caught in there who knows what could happen!”
“Yesterday we asked The Leader about the basilisk, he refused to tell us anything but he hid a scroll in a chest and locked it. Maybe it says something about DeathGaze!”
“It’s a possibility.” FlashBolt said.
“You stay here, I’ll get the scroll.
“No way, I’m coming with you!”
“Fine, but if we’re caught I’ll never rest until I learn to breathe fire and burn you to a crisp.”
“Shut up.” VineCreep snapped. They stepped into the cave. The only sound besides their own breathing was the sound of dragons snoring. The Leader’s hoard was the grandest of all the dragons’. Piles of gold reached to the ceiling, diamonds sparkled like miniature stars, rubies like drops of blood. But the one thing they came to take was nowhere to be seen. They split up. But FlashBolt knew they’d be there all night and only manage to search a section of the treasure. He came across a beautifully sculpted mirror encrusted with diamonds. FlashBolt picked it up. He figured it would be useful somewhere. There came a shout from VineCreep, “I’ve found it!”
“Shh!” Hissed FlashBolt.
“Okay, according to the scroll the dragons were driven out of their homes by DeathGaze and went to live at the top of the mountain. That means that DeathGaze and his hoard are underneath the mountain. What are we waiting for? Let’s go!” VineCreep said enthusiastically.
They stepped out of the labyrinth of caves that made up their home, it was winter, and freezing cold. FlashBolt couldn’t see a thing through the blizzard. He stepped forward blindly, suddenly there was nothing beneath his feet. He was falling. Through the haze of white all he could see were the rocks beneath him, and they was approaching fast! Suddenly he felt a tug on his tail, VineCreep had flown down and grabbed him seconds before his apparent doom. “That’s one way to get down fast.” he said. At this moment the rivalry between the two evaporated, nearly dying had brought them closer together. VineCreep dropped FlashBolt in front of the cave entrance. FlashBolt landed in a pile of bones, they cracked underneath him as he crashed to the ground. They were unmistakably dragon remains. Neither of them said anything but they were both thinking the same thing. Were they FlashBolt’s father’s bones? Had DeathGaze killed him?
Hearts pumping like they might explode, FlashBolt and VineCreep ventured into the cave, jumping at every noise. After what seemed like hours they reached the end of the tunnel. A bright light shone ahead of them. “I’ll go first.” VineCreep said, whether he wanted to protect FlashBolt or boast about it later would remain a mystery. The second he stepped into the cave there was a horrific scream. Throwing caution to the wind, FlashBolt followed. VineCreep was lying dead on the ground with a giant black lizard monster towering above him. Flashbolt saw treasure all around him, treasure to make the leader’s hoard seem puny, but FlashBolt didn’t care, he was having trouble breathing. The basilisk turned its gaze on its new victim, acting on instinct, FlashBolt closed his eyes and held the mirror he’d picked up in The Leader’s cave in front of him. DeathGaze screeched, FlashBolt then remembered that reflections could kill basilisks! DeathGaze clawed at his throat and then fell down. The basilisk was dead. He’d won the caves, and the treasure back. But at the cost of a friend.