Previously, inside a dragon…
As I belted out carol after joyful carol, I heard the sound of churning acid nearby. My head whipped round just in time to see a massive tentacle—spotted with sores and covered in a thick, orange slime—erupt from the mire. I barely had a moment to react before I was suddenly entwined about my waist. I drew the only weapon I had on hand and pummeled the creature mercilessly, but to no avail. I guess it must’ve been immune to Rachel Ray. Next thing I knew I was airborne: my bag of loot tumbled free as another tentacle rose and crushed the kayak, sending shards of lightweight wood in every direction. I spun about through the hot stomach air, shouting and trying to wriggle loose. Now the body of a great Volcanoctopus splashed to the surface the pool. I heard a rumbling cry of hunger and rage ring out from the monster’s beak, as the disgusting, bulbous head wobbled like month-old Jello, black and moldy. Except with lava spots. I knew then that things were dire, for a creature of this strength would be a fearsome foe indeed. Around me was naught but the dim glow of the acid. Would there be no respite? Could I not find some means to escape my fate? Was this the end?
And that’s when I spotted the Girl.
My rapidly pulsing heart still found time to skip a beat. She was breathtaking! I could scarcely believe so fair a lady had chanced to end up inside this dragon with me, alive no less. Now, granted, given the isolation I’d experienced up to that point, even a female Bugbear would’ve seemed a sight for sore eyes… but still! She was seated some distance away upon a raft constructed from beer casks and other refuse found floating in the acid lake. I tried to call to her, but the constriction around my torso was tightening, and it was all I could do to breathe. Thankfully, she noticed me—how could she not, given the tremendous noise of the Volcanoctopus and the disruption in the acid—but instead of moving to act, she paused to chat with some sort of unusual vine affixed to the rear of her vessel. I could only watch in confusion as she and plant appeared to converse. Was she a Druid, perhaps? Regardless, whatever aid she might’ve provided came too late, for just as quickly as my hopes rose, they sank again, along with the rest of my body. The creature’s next meal was at hand… er, tentacle. Me.
And now, the conclusion:
I found myself mumbling one of the few protective spells I knew: an endurance charm that would grant me temporary immunity to the effects of the acid and, hopefully, the impending blunt trauma of the Volcanoctopus’ beak. But alas! My mana, depleted at this critical moment! I could sense that I only had enough energy left for one or two small spells. Curses! As I twirled beneath the warm, stinging liquid, moving ever closer to the mouth of the beast, I felt despair overtake me. This was it. Journey’s end. No phoenix down to save me. Think Guy, think!
The Orb of Arching Bolts in my pocket sent out a tiny spark, pricking my leg like a thorn.
As if spoken by divine providence, I suddenly knew the path that lay before me. Only one shot at this… needed to make it count. I drew the crystalline sphere from my pocket and focused as best I could—which wasn’t saying much, since I was still a) underacid, b) gripped by a semi-molten tentacle, and c) about to die. The Vocanoctopus had dragged me deep into the acid lake in record time, causing my head to throb with the increased pressure. Now it decided to consume the choice morsel it’d found. Nom! I was inside the beak. The creature’s rough tongue scraped against my flesh. Mere seconds to act.
So long, light source. It’s been fun.
With nary more than an anticlimactic stream of bubbles, I used the last of my mana to shatter the Orb.
Immediately, a shockwave erupted outward, electrocuting me—but only a little—and completely frying the Volcanoctopus. It emitted a horrendous dying cry and spat me out, as tendrils of lightning weaved across its supple body like ants crawling over a fresh slice of watermelon dropped onto their hill. I didn't have much time to celebrate, as I was now adrift deep beneath a huge lake of acid, and had about five seconds of consciousness left before I drowned.
Yet it seemed fortune was to smile upon me again, for at that moment I saw and felt radiant waves of golden light leap around me, and I gained a level. My mana, health, and air, instantly restored! Yes! I felt my mind expand with new spells, the nature of which I hadn’t time to quite contemplate at that moment. I cast a breath charm and a fortitude charm, and started toward the surface.
Or would have, except at that moment, a strange muscular contraction opened a wide hole in the stomach lining below me. I tumbled through the passage in a torrent of acid, and fell into darkness, landing hard on something even harder. My eyes slid shut as I lost consciousness.