It was a clear, dark night and nobody walked the streets. The usual quiet hum of traffic was absent tonight. Every window was covered, every light was off. Doors were not only locked and bolted, but reinforced with chairs and couches and bookshelves.
If one listened well enough, you could hear the quiet breathing of an entire city: shaky, expectant.
Children stifled their whimpers as the clattering began – the deliberate clicking of bone on cobblestone as ancient skeletons began to wander the streets. Mothers hugged their children close, buried beneath coats and shoes in their innermost closets. Fathers relinquished their hard-held concepts of masculinity as they clung to their children’s teddy bears.
Deep in the heart of the city, a single tavern bustled with energy. The lights weren’t on, and the doors were locked like everywhere else, but in its basement sat its usual constituents. The bartender poured frothy beers quietly, but his patrons, red-faced and jolly, couldn’t help but giggle and joke in the face of absolute terror.
The celebratory aura of impending doom radiated from the basement to the buildings all around. It made those who wished for quiet uneasy. They so wished the night would pass and the morning would come and they would be safe. But with such noise, the skeletons would soon come.
The bar flies were afraid of this too, but they long ago learned to quell fear with the courage of liquor.
The stars were covered. Penelope had finally emerged from the forest, ready to find her way home… But the stars were clouded over with ominously grey clouds that sucked the light out of an already dark sky. She fell to the ground, her knees sinking into the soft dirt. She was ready to give up. She may as well accept it – she was never getting home. Angry with herself, with the world, with the strange green bird she had followed earlier into the forest, she beat the ground.
Through her sobs she did not see the glow, did not hear the beat, beat, beating of a drum – no, a heartbeat.
Penelope heard a throat being cleared and knew it was not her own. She wipes away her tears, leaving behind a trail of moist, rich earth.
“If you wouldn’t mind,” spoke an earthy, feminine figure, “I was trying to sleep.”
Penelope’s eyes grew wide as she took in the full form of the being: forged of the same rich dirt that she had fallen into; a leafy cascade of amber, red, and green was her hair; lips of dew-dropped earth; and a tunic of moss.
“I’m sorry,” the words fell from her lips before she knew what she had said.
It had been 2000 years since Dendrick had first taken the form of a gargoyle. It wasn’t his choice. He used to be a bard. He used to be the greatest bard that had ever lived. That was probably still true, if his fate hadn’t literally been set in stone.
He spent most of those 2000 years trying to figure out the best insults he could throw at the nymph that cursed him. So what if he shared the tale of their union in every pub? He always got a free drink from that story, it was a good story. And she was beautiful. Or at least she used to be until vengeance overtook her and she cursed him to an eternity in stone. Pretty hard to think someone is beautiful after they ruin your life.
Watching the world around him change was so boring. And so disappointing. He had seen such great wonders when he could travel the world, but now he was stuck mounted to a… Well, people always came in and out with lots of money. One time there was a lot of people with weapons that camped outside pointing inwards and he almost thought he was going to finally be free of this entrapment.
But no. Some guy in a mask came out and found a cage of his own. He felt for the guy. But not really. 2000 years stuck inside a gargoyle doesn’t leave much room for empathy.
Once upon a time, there was a dragon. It ate things, sometimes, when bothered, and collected, and more often than not, it slept. It had worked very hard early in its life to obtain all the gold and jewels and riches in its hoard. And now all it wanted to do was hold it and hug it and rest by it. It had hoped that by not stealing princesses and all that normal hoo-ha dragons partook in that it would be otherwise left alone by adventurers. Sometimes they still came by, however, and the dragon would eat.
Lethargy was its goal, and lethargy treated it well. Or at least, it did, for a while. Something like 300 years. People began to forget about the dragon, and food wasn’t so easy to come by anymore.
So the dragon ventured out, slowed by the fatigue of hunger, and flapped its way towards civilization and away from its isolated cave. Quickly after, the dragon tread air as it looked around at the towers that filled the once empty expanses. Lifted by the wind, a cacophony resonated its ears and soon the dragon saw giant birds that moved without flapping their wings. It jumped into the clouds, to spy more discreetly, but couldn’t do so without freaking out.
And soon, the dragon fell, whether from the final stab of hunger or an overdose of anxiety, it didn’t matter. It crashed a few buildings on the way down, and a few people were squished. This new world knew about as much to make of the dragon, however, as it knew to make of them.
The time had finally come. After battling tooth and nail with the worst monsters anyone had ever imagined – from the devious to the demented – Sir Luna was finally face to face with his greatest foe. She leered back at him, goo dripping from in between her raggedy incisors. She towered a hundred feet over the largest tree, but that didn’t stop her from daintily (as dainty as is possible for a giant of her caliber) jumping from one foot to the other as he rode around evasively beneath her.
“Foul giant, I have come to slay thee!” Sir Luna screamed, swinging a fabulously rhinestoned sword through any plant matter that dare impede his way. He could not hear her words but for their shrill and piercing tone. He began to attune himself to the pattern she created with her shifting, and laughed, charging full speed at the place where her foot would land.
Hands shifted between pulling up her thick skirt so she could see her feet and covering her mouth and eyes. In the distance a dull rhythmic roar plowed its way closer.
It was then that the foot came down, and Sir Luna knew his life was at stake, but nothing could stop him from staking her through the foot. She screamed, the most ear-piercing cry yet, and fell to the ground, crushing several trees along the way. Sir Luna cheered himself as he raced his way to her heart – before she could get up.
And just moments before striking, a deep, thunderous yell came from above – another giant! – and quickly afterwards a splat.