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Pixel Courage 37

Death felt like an old acquaintance I’d met once. One who I’d really hoped I wouldn’t have to meet again, despite knowing the situation would make that difficult. We’d said hi once, yeah. But I certainly didn’t want to be seeing her all that often.

Still, standing in the bright hot light of the temple, I knew death would start becoming a friend.

“Come to us,” a soft feminine voice said.

“Come to us.” A second.

“Come to us.” A third.

This time I knew the drill, so it wasn’t as disorienting to figure out how to get into the main room of the temple. I walked towards the voices. Reached my hand out, and let it get grabbed by one of the priestesses.

She pulled me away from the glaring hot light of The Source, and into the temple, where I could actually see things.

Just like before, the priestesses all had heads that looked remarkably like miniature suns. The one who had pulled me out had a bigger sun than the rest.

She spoke with a deep voice. “You smell of dragon blood.”

That caused two thoughts to rattle my head simultaneously, each of them competing for my attention.

The first was, How can she talk without a mouth? Where was the sound coming from?

And the second question, Does my smell stick with me even after I’ve died?

The second question won out when I realized it was the most interesting. So I asked it.

“You can smell it even after I’ve respawned?” I asked.

“Not usually, but I can smell the dragon’s blood.” Her sun head crackled with a white hot energy. “Blood Dragons are an unnatural thing. A perversion of the natural order. It clings to you for awhile.” Her voice was a whisper, as if she’d deigned me worthy of a terrible secret.

“What’s the best way to kill one?” Because let’s be honest: that’s the only thing I really gave a shit about.

“You can’t.” The whisper grew even a little softer, such that I had to lean in to hear what the priestess was saying. “Blood Dragons are already dead.”

I struggled to hide my frustration. Seriously, this priestess couldn’t have been a little more helpful?

“You’re saying I can’t defeat it?”

“You can’t kill it,” the priestess said. “What you can do is destroy it, but that won’t happen if you confront them directly.”

“How will it happen?”

“By killing The Soul Weaver.”

This priestess was driving me fucking nuts. All I wanted to do was complete this mission, but every answer she gave me seemed to prompt a new question.

“Who’s The Soul Weaver?”

“The Soul Weaver is the one who created the Blood Dragons. It is he who took the souls of dragons unborn and weaved them into these not-living creatures — these never-living creatures. Kill him, and you kill the magic that holds The Blood Dragons together. Kill that magic, and you destroy the Blood Dragons.”

“Where can I find him?”

“In the Sewers.”

So, in order to kill the dragons, all I had to do was traverse the area where I couldn’t see or hear much of anything, all while avoiding the creatures that could kill me super-easily.

Thank god for respawns.

I walked past the kid, who lay on the ground, looking through the opening to The Sewers. He looked up at me as I approached.

“I died.” The explanation as to how I had come out of The Sewers. “I came back. Your mom’s gonna be safe, kid. Alright?” The explanation. The promise. I meant it.

He looked up at me and said, “Okay.”

I went back into The Sewers, climbing down the ladder that allowed me into its dark abyss.

Heart pounding.

Knowing there was no way I could survive if one of these dragons came after me. Truth be told, the experience was thrilling.

First, I had to figure out how to avoid the dragons. I’d seen the one I confronted ahead of time because it roared, but there was no guarantee I’d see the next one.

Instead of sticking to the side of the sewer like I had last time, I decided to try a different strategy. Took my sword out of its hilt and lay it on the ground. Wouldn’t do me any good against a dragon, and it would drag me down while I swam

Then I took a deep breath.

Slipped into the filthy water. I kept my head above it, even though you probably couldn’t get any diseases in the game. Just the very concept of dipping my head in the filth seemed like a bad idea.

The rest of my body was submerged, though, and so the water pushed me along, down the dark corners where I couldn’t see a thing. It felt like being on an amusement park ride: you just followed the path you were supposed to. Spectacular danger seemed to lurk at every corner, and in the back of your head you wondered if something could go wrong.

Of course, the animatronics in amusement park rides weren’t actually going to kill you. The Blood Dragons might.

As the current of the dirty water pulled me along, I heard a Blood Dragon roar.

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