I delisted the story later on with the idea that it was not much more than an outline or fragment and could, perhaps, be made into a longer story someday. Meanwhile, an enterprising reader listed the story on Goodreads as 'Dungeoneers 1.5' around about the same time.
The current status of The Phoenix Egg is that the events in it are canon but the actual words aren't. See, I decided I liked the main character in it well enough that he's going to be making an appearance in the next Dungeoneers book. And when I introduce him I'm going to flat-out steal some of the bits I really like from The Phoneix Egg.
Because it's listed on Goodreads I do get occassional requests to read the story so I'm going to go ahead and put the entire story in at the end of the post.
As long as you don't mind brevity, roughness or that you'll be rereading some of this in the third Dungeoneers book then you are welcome to give it a read!
The Phoenix Egg
It was a word he'd been listening for for years.
Gorax's head snapped around. A dwarf, leaning against the bar stool, looking three ales past due. He was bald and had faded blue tattoos on his scalp. Neat and trim beard, nobility style. No weapon. He was holding court for a trio of wide-eyed locals.
And he'd said something about a phoenix.
Gorax strode over, shouldering through the crowd with the assurance of someone that knew anyone offended would think twice after a second glance. Sculpted physique aside, Gorax had found that most men didn't want to tangle with an oiled barbarian that wore only a bearskin loincloth.
The dwarf gave him a bleary blink. Gorax tossed his head to display his magnificent hair.
"Oi!" the dwarf said.
"You spoke of a phoenix. Tell me." Gorax was using his calm voice. He'd found it a pretty effective opener. Speak softly and carry a battleaxe, a bow and two hundred pounds of muscle.
"Aye," the dwarf said. "Big flamin’ bird o’ fire.” The dwarf chuckled as if he had made a joke. Gorax didn’t laugh. Gorax’s idea of humor was more along the lines of surprise decapitations. “Near crisped half me team,” the dwarf said. “Who might you be?"
That ridiculous dwarven accent. It made Gorax’s teeth hurt.
"When and where?"
"Just last week, South o' Threetooth Peak. There's a cave."
"The name is Gorax. You pronounce it as if you're brandishing a weapon. I wish to hire you."
"Hire me? I ain't fer rent, lad. What's yer interest here?"
"The Egg of the Phoenix." His voice was solemn. "I must recover it to trade with the Arcadian Hermits for the key to the Gates of Chance."
"Is that...?" the dwarf said, pointing towards the quiver on Gorax's back. "Er, I think your quiver might be smoking."
"Mist, not smoke. The Arrow of the Frost King. A powerful item that can slay a phoenix in a single shot. I quested long to find it."
"The name is Dadger Ben. A phoenix egg, eh?" There was a bristly noise as he rubbed his beard. "That's quite a prize. What would be in it for me?"
"All I require is your guidance to the cave. I can pay your asking price, I'm sure."
"And yer plan is what?" Dadger asked. " Just go running in and shoot it with yer misty arrow there?"
Gorax put his fist to his chin as he considered this. He weighed what he knew about the phoenix and the egg hatched from the inferno of its death with what he knew about his own skills, honed by years of ceaseless adventure and battle.
"There has to be a better way to do this," Dadger said. They were camped atop a low hill. Dadger had selected it because it looked least like a barrow. The tent was beneath a tree that Dadger had selected based on it looking least likely to come alive during the night. Camping in the wilds was not without an odd array of risks. A stream curved around the base of the hill. Dadger knew what lay at the mouth of that stream, a mere league away. The phoenix cave.
"You need preparation to go after something the likes of a phoenix,” he said. “You need someone to run a distraction, maybe a bait and switch. Some back-up, an escape plan, a coordinator..."
"No," Gorax said. "It will be me versus the phoenix." He raised his bow to the sky. "GORAX!"
“Yer loincloth needs adjustin’”
“What if you miss? What if it gets the drop on you and turns your bow into a campfire? You wanna make these sort of ventures as sure of a thing as you can. We could set up a distraction, maybe. The phoenix goes to investigate and you run in, grab the egg then leg it. Make fighting the thing the back-up plan in case things go wrong. We could set up a decoy egg, make a switch and have the phoenix chasing off in the wrong direction.”
“You complicate things far beyond what is necessary,” Gorax said. “Bow. Arrow. Skill. I need no more.”
“You might wants to at least switch to a non-flammable oil for your glisteny bits there.”
“That does have the ring of wisdom.”
A wave of heat rippled his flowing hair as the phoenix flared into brilliance before him. His eyes almost seemed to sizzle trying to look at it, a searing colossus of fire, its wings unfurling in orange blooms throwing shadows long against the cavern walls.
Gorax's battle cry was like a razor in his dry throat. He could barely hear himself over the thunder of the flame. He drew back on the bow, knowing that he had to do it know before the heat cooked the bowstring. The Arrow of the Frost King burned against his cheek, its cold burning more fiercely than the aura of the phoenix.
If he thought he had been a little too warm before he'd been sadly mistaken.
Fire washed over him as the phoenix screeched its death. He felt his flowing locks crisp and his loincloth flare. He should have scrubbed harder in the stream to get all of the oil off. He smelled like an Orcish potluck.
But he lived.
Bald and looking like he'd spent a day sunning in Blastfire Valley but alive.
And there it was. Gleaming white in a pile of blackened ash. The Egg of the Phoenix. A prize of legend.
It was searing hot to the touch, agony on his already burnt fingers. There was just enough left of his loincloth to wrap it so it could be carried. The dwarf was gone when he emerged. No surprise. He'd just been there for the gold.
Gorax strode forth into the world. He had one week to get the egg to the Hermits before it hatched and the phoenix rose anew.
Dadger Ben watched as Gorax disappeared down the valley.
The rest of the team of dwarves emerged from their various places of cover.
"A little too heavy on the pyrotechnics, maybe," Dadger said. "But the thunder was good."
Gryngo shrugged apologetically. "I used some o' that giant-spider silk we recovered last month. Not quite used to working with something that flammable."
"Did we get it?" Ginny called. She'd been on yorgenhorn. Nothing could screech quite like a Dwarven yorgenhorn. It had been Ginny's job on account of her having had lessons when she was wee.
Dadger stepped past the blackened wireframe of the phoenix and pulled aside the dark curtain at the back of the cave. The Arrow of the Frost King hissed quietly in the stack of hay bales they'd erected. They’d soaked them to protect them from the fire and now they were frozen into solid blocks.
"Now," Dadger said, "We have everything we need to go and get that phoenix egg."
"Speaking of which," Ginny said. "Did we boil any spare owlboar eggs? Playing a yorgenhorn takes a bit out of ya."