The story has continued:
As Gwendolyn stood waiting for an answer, wondering which direction she should go, one of the voices said, “What can Gwendolyn do but continue?”
Well… Gwendolyn took a moment to glance longingly back toward where the door had been. The sound of the water down that way was somehow inviting, but the darkness was not. And the voice had said to continue.… Picking up her baseball bat, Gwendolyn began walking toward the warm glow and the heavy shuffling sound. It wasn’t long before she turned off her flashlight to save the battery, since she could see fairly well from the fiery red light. Because of the increasing heat, she also paused to take off her jacket and tie it around her waist. When she came to the end of the tunnel, a large stone boulder blocked the exit, leaving just enough room for her to either squeeze through or peek around.
She choose the later, and when she slowly poked her head around the boulder, she saw an enormous, red, scaly, real dragon, lying on his side. He had a gold colored, shiny belly, and matching horns. Thick black smoke poured out of his nostrils. His eyes, which were each almost as big as Gwendolyn’s head, were closed, and she soon realized that the shuffling she had been hearing was caused by the thick, heavy motion of his breathing, as his shifting scales scraped the floor beneath him.
Gwendolyn sucked in her breath. Could this be the King Dragon? A nagging feeling at the back of her mind told her it was not, but it’s difficult to remember something dreamed when confronted with a real live dragon, even a sleeping one.
Reluctantly, Gwendolyn took her eyes off the dragon and began to look around the rough stone cavern that housed him. All around the space stood large braziers filled with unnaturally red fire, the source of the light in the cavern and the tunnel. At the far end of the room, chained to a stone slab, a man lay tossing back and forth. He was wearing what could have been a type of light armor; his hair and beard were black and somewhat short but matted and tangled from his constant tossing. On the ground next to the slab lay a shining metal sword, beautifully crafted and about half the size of Gwendolyn herself.
As Gwendolyn watched, for a moment the man paused and lay still, only to suddenly cry out and thrash about wildly, moaning and calling, “Ariadne! Ariadne! NO! Ariadne!” He continued to fight against his chains for several minutes, and Gwendolyn realized that he was having a nightmare. “The star’s lover…” She whispered. Eventually, he calmed down and lay still again, but tears ran from his eyes, the streaks of them on his face glittering like sparks in the red light.
So caught up was she in watching the man that Gwendolyn momentarily forgot about the dragon. When the monster spoke, deep and rumbling like thunder, she froze behind the boulder. “I know you’re there. I can smell you and hear your breathing. Come out, little Halfling.”
Oh, dear. This does not bode well, not at all. Can the dragon get to Gwendolyn where she is? It is entirely possible that he can move the boulder. What was the other direction down the tunnel? Perhaps she should run…but the star’s lover is right there! Should she answer the dragon? Should she come out?
I would like to assure you that I have checked the settings of the transmission, and only Gwendolyn should be able to hear what you say, the dragon will not. Please leave your comments and advise her what to do. This point in the story will remain open until around midnight on Monday.
Thank you for your assistance!