Storytime With Grendel: Good Deeds – Finale

Hello once again, wonderful wizards! We’ve finally arrived at part three of a trilogy. I’ve heard the best stories come in three parts. Hopefully my tale of hobgoblin gobbling makes the list!

Editor’s note: Greetings, folks! It has been brought to my attention that some people were complaining that this set of storytimes was billed as a two-part story, yet here we are at part three. I think this was Grendel’s attempt at a twist, though the concept may be a bit lost on him. If he attempts to turn this into a four-part series, I’ll encourage him to wrap it up, even if I have to write with the smallest of fonts. We can only expect so much patience from you wonderful readers!

When I was last regaling Geldrin of my tale, and subsequently you readers, I had just returned to my barely adequate boat and reluctant crew after having consumed a small feast of Hobgobs. They had taken over the small island city of Grumhold, though why or how I cared not. All I was concerned about was getting to the hobgoblin leaders, for they were a most delectable meal! The current commander of the hobgoblin forces in this village, however, proved to be somewhat lacking in taste, and after a quick interrogation of his remaining forces, I found that the next higher-up was stationed at the nearby island of Garrisdal. With this information, the crew and I set sail, arriving only a few hours later.
A few moments later I returned to the ship, picking pieces of the troop from my teeth. I demanded passage to Garrisdal, and just like that we were off, sailing for the next island. I was somewhat full, sure, but I knew there was a greater meal out there, ready to be eaten. Did I find the leader of the hobgoblins? Who could their leader even be?
Storytime With Grendel: Good Deeds – Part 2
This island was a bit smaller, the tiny village on it sporting only a few shabby shacks and a temple that I guessed was dedicated to some god of the sea, if the giant anchor on the roof was any indication. My first thought was of treachery—assuming that the last band of hobgoblin warriors had misdirected me—but there off the small dock, I spotted one of their war ships. Once again, I commanded the ship’s crew to wait for me, though this time, I detected a bit less hesitation. They even seemed a bit less afraid of me! I knew not why at the time, so for good measure, I threw a few of them into the sea before I took to the sky. I would NOT have them viewing me as some soft, spineless wyrm, thus, into the drink they went!

I flew over to the hamlet, and after a quick search, I found no delicious invaders milling about, thus I surmised that they must be gathered in the temple. The roof anchor made a nice handle for which to remove the ceiling and peer inside, and I found the warriors poking spears at the briny priests. I saw what appeared to be the commander, his armor adorned with badges and medals vastly outnumbering the previous leader, and scooped him up. Surely this must be the warlord I was looking for! He let out a frightened whimper as I brought him to my drooling maw, though just to be sure, I did not bite down, but instead, rolled his thrashing body around with my tongue. The taste was fantastic, of course. So much honor. So much marinated glory. However, once again, my taste buds were met with the smallest flavor of inferiority! This may be a higher-ranking member of the army, sure, but it STILL wasn’t the HIGHEST ranking general!

I spit the lowly captain back out onto the temple floor and demanded the location of his superior officer. Surprisingly, this one began begging for his life after retching out a great deal of dragon spittle. I didn’t know if this one was less courageous than the others, or if being tossed around in a dragon’s mouth was too much for even the bravest of mortals, but he quickly disclosed the location of who he answered to—once again another hobgoblin on yet another island! Ignoring his pleads for mercy and the judgmental looks his soldiers were giving him, I quickly grabbed them all and gobbled them up before they could attempt to put up a futile fight.

I may have accidentally gathered a priest in my mouthful of mortals, since the flavor was one of honor, fresh bread, and quite a bit of salty biscuit, but no matter. I was off to yet another island! I was feeling a bit full already and mentally congratulating myself for not eating the entire population of the village on the previous island. I am a dragon who knows how to save room for dessert after all!

Off to the next island we went. This one contained no village—just a dense jungle. Following the booted footprints through the underbrush, I came upon a cave with a few hobgoblin soldiers stationed outside. After a quick snack, I squeezed into the cave and found the general and some soldiers. They attempted to fend off the attacking underground dragon, but as they had nowhere to go, I made quick work of them. I will admit, I’m a bit lucky that I was able to force myself back out of the cave, now more full of honor, soldiers, and frustration (I’ve heard tale of other dragons so insatiable in their hunger that they became trapped in their lairs permanently!). I was angry because ONCE AGAIN, this leader proved to be one who answered to yet another higher-ranking commander!

This system of find, interrogate, eat, find went on for THREE DAYS! Every single hobgoblin I found and ate on these islands answered to an even higher-ranking one. It was like every hobgoblin on this side of the world had descended upon this archipelago for some unknown, unified purpose. By the end of it, I was exhausted, and the boat was nearly sinking under the weight of my swollen gut. The worst part, still, was the continued appreciation sent my way by the residents of the islands. Every time I dined on a faction of these invaders, the besieged residents of this or that island would sing my praises! They knew not my motivations, the fools! I was entirely fed up with them and my inability to locate the highest-up, the most powerful, the most honor-drenched, and thus the most delicious hobgoblin. Imagine breaking into a bakery, consuming every loaf you can find, only to realize that the baker hasn’t been in for a few days and it’s all day-old stale stuff. Still good, sure, but not as good as it could be! That was my frustration.

I did have one final location, however. The last general I had consumed, her being a commander nearly falling over under the weight of all of the medals pinned to her uniform, had revealed the supposed location of the leader in charge of this entire invading force. Under threat of being consumed, this honor-drenched general had promised that the big boss was located just off the coast of Pudu Island. The maps had nothing here, but a secret islet would be the exact location you would usually find someone like this, thus I happily decided to at least give it a look. Not before I ate miss medal face, of course! She tasted like the most honor I had ever had the pleasure of consuming. Absolutely delicious! And if she was that good, I could just imagine what her boss would taste like!

The following morning my crew and I arrived in the right spot, but to my disappointment, I found no secret uncharted island. Just a single hobgoblin warship anchored in the middle of the sea. A small crew manned the boat, putting up the smallest of fights against the might of a dragon and his exhausted mortal crew. I tore the boat apart, but found no medal-bedecked leader! No piñata of delicious honor for me to burst with my ferocious jaws. I was about to rage in frustration when I found the most curious of things—a long, stretchy tube attached to the ship that seemed to head straight into the ocean under the boat. I only noticed it because through it I could just hear voices coming from far below the water.

Though I still knew not how to swim, and the sea was nearly the only thing on this world that could give me the smallest mote of fear, I had not come this far to simply let some water stop me. I took the deepest of breaths and plunged under the water. Following the anchor chain and the odd hose-thing, I delved into the depths, deeper and deeper as the world around me grew darker. Dragons can see in the dark, of course, but not in the same way as in the light, and far down in the aquatic world, I felt incredibly out of place. I can still hold my breath for much longer than a mortal, but it is incredibly uncomfortable, thus I found myself ready for respite when I finally spotted where the rubbery thing led to—a massive underwater ruin! Time and current had worn away its features, but I could still make out the remnants of horrifying sea monsters carved into its stone surfaces.

I continued, following the rubber hose, until I could see light coming from a large room underneath. I then surfaced, entering into the stale-tasting air of a long-undisturbed submerged sanctuary. No guards stood to oppose me. I figured they wouldn’t imagine someone, let alone a dragon, would be following them down here! Carefully, I crept through rows of decaying columns—I did not want to imagine what would happen if my bulk knocked a few over in this ancient structure. Following the source of the light within, I finally came upon the most peculiar sight—a group of heavily armored and armed hobgoblins, all gathered around a recently excavated stone box, though this was not the odd part, but rather who seemed to be leading these troops!

I had entered the room, ready for a quick fight, a quick snack, and the most honor-drenched hobgoblin leader that ever existed, but instead I found not a warrior bedecked in enough medals to sink a warship, but a simple, unassuming halfling! The soldiers quickly drew their weapons, steeling themselves to combat the massive dragon who somehow had found them in this aquatic fortification. I attempted to make short work of them with a burst of fire yet found that ONCE AGAIN the sea had somehow extinguished my immolating breath! No matter. This would be a problem for future Grendel. For that moment, my physical might would have to suffice, and suffice it did! A few rounds of combat later and all that remained was a very disappointed dragon and a halfling who had still not acknowledged my presence in the slightest.

Though this troop of hobgoblins were the most delicious yet, it seemed as though the meal I was hoping for this whole time would not be found. Though halflings are delectable enough, they simply don’t contain enough mass to provide a good enough meal—not that I was even hungry at this point. I simply wanted to savor the most delicious hobgoblin possible, and yet this little halfling, by his mere presence and uncanny control over these hobgob forces, would deny me my craving!

In my rage, I finished off the last of the soldiers and approached the halfling. He had still not even turned to look at me, but instead, seemed to be enamored by this unassuming stone box!

“EXCUSE ME!” I bellowed, hoping to at least see a bit of fear in his eyes before I crushed him in my anger. He did not turn. I tried again.

“I SAID LOOK AT ME, YOU FRUSTRATING FOOL!”

He finally turned, ever so slowly. I saw not fear in his eyes, but inky, unending night. What should have been mortal eyes filled with the proper fright that I demanded, instead seemed to be impossible pools of darkness. The veins on his tiny head seemed to be pulsing with black ichor, and when he spoke, it was a voice of terrible power.

In a thousand tones at once, with a cadence that both felt like a whisper and a shout so loud I could feel it in my skull, he responded with unnerving coolness,

“…so you’re the one. You’ve destroyed my forces. You nearly stopped me, dragon. I hope you know how close you were…”

I shook his whispers from my head. This was one crazy-sounding little guy! And he thought I was here to stop him? From what? I could see that he held a small object in his hand. Treasure? I’d have to cough that up after I ate him. “I am no hero!” I retorted, my own world-shattering voice seeming like a mouse compared to whatever this halfling was doing. Was it magic? How the heck did he do that? Ignoring my curiosity, I continued, “I am simply here because I wanted to eat all the hobgoblins! And I have. Now I have no more to eat, so I guess I’ll just eat you!” 

I quickly picked him up, tossing him directly into my mouth. Surprisingly, he did not fight, and at once I knew why. The taste of this halfling was like nothing I had ever experienced before. If you hate seafood, imagine if someone distilled every fish that exists into some sort of briny paste, compacted it with squid ink, added flavors that are indescribably horrible, and multiplied it by a few million. That was what immediately hit my senses right before the halfling exploded into a mass of inky, black, otherworldly tentacles! The indescribable, mind-bending being wriggled its way out of my maw, folding in and out of itself like some sort of shapeless shadow.

A being as inky-black night spread throughout the room, absorbing the light from the still-burning torches, and a voice emitted from the form, both nowhere and everywhere at once.

“YOU CANNOT FATHOM ME. YOU KNOW NOT WHAT I AM. YOU CANNOT KNOW…” it began.

It was at this point that two thoughts hit me—first of all, the realization that I may be the only dragon to ever taste an eldritch horror, and second, that I needed to get out of here quickly. With my fiery breath, not at the bottom of the sea, I may have stood a chance. In my present situation, maybe not so much. I looked around for an opportunity while the unknowable being continued.

“…YOU HAVE COME HERE TO SATIATE YOUR HUNGER, DRAGON, BUT I CAME HERE FOR WHAT I HAVE FOUND—THE HEART OF THE SEA. WITH THE HOBGOBLIN’S HELP, WE WERE TO RULE THIS MORTAL REALM! NOW WITH THIS ARTIFACT, I SHALL BRING ABOUT A NEW AGE. I WILL COMMAND THE WAVES TO SWALLOW THE LAND, USHERING IN A TIME OF AQUATIC EXISTENCE, WHERE I WILL RULE! YOU CANNOT FATHOM…” the thing went on, but at this point I had a plan!

Quickly, I spun around, performing a very cool tail attack on the pillars in the room. Almost instantly the chamber began flooding with an explosion of seawater as I quickly scrabbled back into the passage from where I had arrived, doing my best to avoid the collapsing ruin around me. I never looked behind me, but when no otherworldly being appeared, I figured I was in the clear.

I had just made it to the boat when a mass of bubbles blasted to the surface around me, dragging down the remains of the hobgoblin warship in the process. I crawled onto my crew’s vessel, to the annoying, thunderous applause of the sailors. How dare they! I almost threw them all off the ship, but I was far too exhausted. One brave soul even brought out a ring of flowers from who-knows-where and placed it upon my brow, much to my irritation! There was a bright side, however. As I sat upon the deck of the ship, picking hobgoblin bits out of my teeth, I felt the oddest thing in between a few molars—a small, cold orb.

I grabbed a passing sailor’s scimitar and picked the thing out. It was a tiny sphere, nearly the size of a rabbit’s head, decorated with intricate designs of seashells, fish, and roaring waves. Best yet, it absolutely PULSED with power! I guess the gross little possessed halfling thing must have dropped it when I tried to eat him! With a belly full of good-enough-tasting hobgoblins and at least one valuable artifact in my possession, I commanded my crew head back for the mainland.

Editor’s note: I am absolutely dumbfounded. I had once heard the tale from a passing bard of a random dragon who had saved a group of islanders from a hobgoblin invasion, only to disappear without a trace, but I would have NEVER imagined it to be our dear Grendel! This is the most valiant, good thing our dragon friend has ever done! Wait… Grendel is eyeing me suspiciously…

It has come to my attention that Geldrin is now writing falsehoods about my deeds in his little notes he adds to my stories. Let me set the record straight—“saving” the islands or whatever was absolutely NOT the good deed I was talking about, nor was me sparing the crew who had sailed with me (since I ate them as soon as we got back. Don’t look at me like that, Geldrin!). I actually completely forgot to mention the good deed—

I think it was between island two and three, but we came upon a tiny rowboat adrift at sea. Inside we found a tiny kitten, completely alone and nearly starved. The sailors asked me what to do with it and being that a cat this small isn’t a good meal, and since I was already somewhat full of hobgoblin, I ordered them to just let it loose at the next island we came to.

So there. I saved a cat. Good deed done.

Don’t expect me to tell tales of more good deeds, either! Though I may have many more stories to tell, there will be no more tales of “good” Grendel! Only “Grendel the Wicked” and “The Insatiable Hunger known as Grendel!” For though I currently have come into a new age of the written word and printing presses, I will still always be the fearsome dragon that I am!

Until next time, thank you for your mortal patience. Consider yourselves salted with even more new knowledge! For each story you absorb into your tasty minds, you make yourself even more delicious! Until next week, continue to sail yourselves into knowledge and new experiences!
Storytime with Grendel stories are compliments of Tyler Swanson
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