Jos Crane

Official website of Jos Crane, author.

“Congratulations, off you go!” the purple-haired lady yelled as she literally shoved me out through the red oak French doors.

“There is no time to waste! Thanks for coming! Bye!” she repeated several times as two hands against my back forced me out of the building while I tried to ask, “what now?”

I reached the exterior as the sunlight blinded my eyes. “The fuck?” I asked as I turned around, watching her slam the doors shut in front of me as her white face turned black from the door’s shadows, eventually disappearing behind them. Then a loud “clunk” informed me that she blocked anyone on the outside coming in. I stood there staring at the stone masonry building with a large sign jetting out above the doors that read, “?”

I assumed it was an information place like one would go to in the 90s asking for a map and brochures on activities of an unfamiliar town. What I learned inside was this: nothing. Well, I learned something, so maybe not nothing, but mostly nothing.

When I entered initially, I saw a sign with a dragon by the information desk. I asked the lady about it and she said that they needed a Guildmaster to determine the prizes for all the dragons in the country. She asked if I’d be interested in being a Guildmaster and I responded, “I guess-“

“Oh!?” she stated with excitement as she interrupted me. She jumped up in down in her shiny-blue dress. “Thank you!” then she congratulated me, turned me around, and forced me out.

“What the hell is a Guildmaster?” I asked out loud as I turned away from the doors. Then I got louder as I asked, “and where the fuck are dragons!?”

A man stopped in front of me and turned towards me, expressing a worried look. He had a rusted breastplate around his torso, brown leggings, and a sword peeked from behind his shoulder.

“Why do you want to know where dragons are?” He asked as he brushed his long blond hair away from his eye. It dropped just to the top of the breastplate.

“Apparently,” I started and paused a moment as I thought about the ridiculousness of what I was about to say. I continued, “I’m a Guildmaster and I need to figure out what dragons are worth for prizes.”

“Awesome!” He exclaimed as he jumped in the air with his legs slightly spread and bent at the knee. He shook both arms in front of him in excitement. “What’s Grundere worth?” he asked.


“Yeah, the green dragon who lives in Norshire forest.”

I wanted to say, “the what forest?” What came out was, “I don’t know.”

“When you post it up, let me know!”

“Post what?”

He slapped me on the arm in a joking manner as he laughed. “You’re a funny guy!”

“No, seriously,” I stated sternly.

“You know? The quest at the guild house.” He’s speaking a foreign language to me. What guild house? What’s a quest? What dragon? What forest? He didn’t take my idiocy seriously on my last question, so I decided to sound like I knew my shit and learn through osmosis.

“Right, mind walking back with me to the guild house?” I asked.

I let him lead me around the stone-built paths amongst the stone buildings. There were homes, pubs, smitheries, and all sorts of building intertwined with no discernable differences. The only obvious difference appeared to be businesses typically having an open market space in front of them where they handled business. Each wrong turn I took, the gentleman forcefully corrected me.

I learned his name to be “Joshenzei”, but since I couldn’t pronounce his name we stuck with “Josh.” He was a soldier in the king’s army. Married with one child, and two had died early on. I asked if I had interrupted his day, but he claims he was looking at quest boards at various guilds for income so this would be another stop on his daily views.

When asked about his latest quest – so I could learn these terminologies – he stated it was to escort a merchant to Lildehide, some city to the west. Just north of it was the Norshire forest. “Hence the nor”, he said.

We finally arrived at the guild house, and I stood at the entrance like a person debating whether to go on a date after seeing the most hideous prospect before introducing myself.

“Well?” He asked.

“Well, what?”

“Are you going to go in?”

I guess it’s my guild house since I’m the Guildmaster after all. I don’t have a key, though. I walked up to the door and searched for a deadbolt, a keyhole, or anything similar to place a key. There wasn’t any. “Where the hell is the security in this?” I wondered. If it was actually mine, then that was the first thing I would place.

I knocked on the door like a fucking idiot, which is exactly what Josh said. “Are you a fucking idiot? Who is going to be in there?”

“A ghost?” I quipped.

“Har har!” He laughed sarcastically. Then I opened the door and peeked inside.

“Hello?” I asked after entering my head. It echoed against the dusty brown-wooded floor and stoned walls. Then, I felt a shove against my back that forced me inside.

I rubbed my back. “What is with everyone and shoving in this town?” I asked no one in particular.

Josh laughed and smacked me on the back, again in a joking manner. This time it hurt.

Then he walked in and stood next to me. “Oh,” he said as if he understood me now. “You weren’t kidding. It looks like no one has been here in years.”

I turned around and walked right outside. “Fuck this,” I said as I wanted to avoid dusting the place and cleaning it up.

“Where are you going?” Josh asked.

“Norshire forest.”

“Where Grundere lives!?” He asked worryingly.

“Yes, where Grundere lives!” I stated forcefully. “I need to post a quest and how else am I going to do that without knowing what gold it has?”

“Ummm…” Josh started, but then he left it at that and never continued his thought. “You know what, I’ll go with you.”

We continued west and found a path that led north towards Norshire forest. Thankfully, they had posts periodically pointing to different locations with both a name and symbols for those who couldn’t read. Norshire forest had icons depicting a tree and a tiny hut. Lildehide had an icon that looked similar to a wolf but resembled the features of a pig-like snout, tiny legs, and a tail. This also gave me a chance to see the name of where we came from, which was Zurge.” The icon appeared to be something akin to a merchant’s cart I saw passing by us. “It must be what they call those,” I thought.

It took about an hour of walking amongst the wheat fields that gradually turned into meadows on the outskirts of Zurge, and we finally saw the trees outlining the forest. Inside we went where the path suddenly ended.

“Where is the dragon exactly?” I asked.

“You’ll, uh, find it.”

Almost as if it heard us, we heard a loud roar like one would expect from a bear the size of a house.

“It must be in that direction!” Yelled Josh as he pointed almost directly in front of us. “Bye!” Then, he swiftly ran away.

Having never seen a dragon, nor believing they existed, I continued on towards the direction where the roar came from. The trees got thicker as I meandered while pushing branches to the side to clear my path. An occasional branch snapped back and hit me on the back of the head, or I missed one and it scratched my arms. I kept walking further in as the birds got quieter and a light fog appeared just a foot above the ground. Then, I spotted a giant scaly creature that was lime green. It almost glowed in an otherwise dark pine forest as its lizard-like head watched me approach.

“Yes, human?” it asked as it peeked its head around from behind a tree like a dog watching me leave the house for work.

I took a large gulp as if I swallowed an entire pint of beer. I wish I had one at this moment. I couldn’t help but notice that the dragon didn’t seem to be threatening to me.

“Why aren’t you attacking me?” I asked.

“You don’t seem like a threat.”

“How rude!” I joked. It laughed. It actually laughed! It had a sense of humor.

“You have no weapons on you, unlike your friend who ran away like a coward.” It laughed again and then posed a question, “what brings you here?”

“The thing is that I’m a Guildmaster, apparently, and I’m trying to analyze the prize for a quest.”

“Why did you come here?”

“I just told you?” I answered and asked simultaneously.

“I mean, why did you come here to determine the reward?”

“Isn’t that normal? How do you evaluate the value of an object if you don’t know what that object is?”

“You’re not from here, are you?” The dragon seemed impressed.

“How’d you guess?”

“First, you’re not afraid of me. Second, you have an advanced level of critical thinking that normally doesn’t occur for several decades, though you’re maybe three decades of age.”


I felt something touch the back of my legs, which made me gasp. I looked behind them and saw the scaly tail of the dragon. I sat on it and the dragon lifted me closer to its face as I held on with my hands so tight that I thought I was digging my nails in between its scales. The scales did offer some support like a handle for a briefcase without the loop.

“Hi Grundere, I’m Chuck.” I guess now is as good time as any to introduce one’s self.

“That man told you my name, did he?”

I nodded.

“All you want to see my treasures to determine a reward for my head?” It asked.

“I guess so.” I shrugged my shoulders. “I was sprung into this not knowing anything.”

The dragon moved me away from its head and towards a cave behind it. Then, it placed me on the ground near the entrance. I stood up away from the tail.

“Have a look.” It commanded.

I felt like it was odd how it seemed okay with this decision. How it seemed okay that there was a prize for its head. Then, I started to wonder about it.

“Do you have any friends?” I asked as I entered the cave.

“I have a few.” It seemed delighted I asked. “We meet up for floating.”

“What’s floating?” I inquired to keep the conversation going as I entered the darkness of the cave. Conversation soothed my fears of an unknown cave, especially as I wondered if the dragon was going to consume me after I entered. Perhaps, I thought, if I could keep it talking then it would be too busy talking to bother eating me. I grabbed my phone and turned on the flashlight to illuminate the cave in front of me. It was gigantic and could easily fit this giant creature. I asked before it responded to the previous question, “how do you see anything in here?”

“Floating is what we call it when we meet together and fly around. Think of it like sitting on horses with friends as you meander the fields.” I could still hear Grundere clearly as if it was next to me. Maybe it was.

“My eyes adjust quickly to the dark,” the dragon answered the question I forgot I asked.

“Why are you okay with me being here and determining a reward for your head?” I asked remembering that it was the one that mentioned the head part in the first place.

“Entertainment, I guess.”

“Do you mean me being the entertainment, or being attacked by quest seekers as entertainment?”

“Both.” It chuckled again.

Then some objects made themselves apparent in the far reaches of the cave. They weren’t shiny like the treasure I was expecting. A treasure like you see in cartoons with giant chests and gold pieces. Instead, it was dull. Like old silverware for a dining table. I got closer and it was not similar to silverware, rather it literally was silverware. Forks, spoons, knives, spatulas, and other kitchen utilities made of various materials like wood and metal. Silverware! This dragon’s treasure is silverware?

“Ah, yes,” the dragon said with a boastful tone.

“Is this… is this your treasure?”

“My precious!” it agreed with pride.

“Is this every dragon’s idea of treasure?” I asked, completely befuddled by the odd hoarding of kitchen essentials.

“No,” it replied with a chuckle. “Traviapor keeps various garments. Hulade treasures blankets.”

“You mean underwear?” I asked referring to the garments.

“That and pajamas.” It acknowledged as its face appeared in front of mine. It scared the shit out of me and almost made me jump.

At this point I was afraid it was going to consume me, so I took a mental note of the inventory and decided to walk swiftly away much like Josh did earlier. “Okay, I got what I needed,” I stated with a serious business-like tone as if to hint that the meeting had been adjourned. I turned around and walked briskly towards the cave entrance.

I could feel Grundere jumping excitedly behind me like a dog that is waiting for its favorite treat as it asked, “what’s it worth? What’s it worth?”

“I’ll have to do some calculations, but I’ll let you know.” I reached the end of the cave and turned around to the giant lizard-like being and gave it my thanks. I waved goodbye to it and it returned the wave with its three-pronged hand on an overwhelmingly undersized arm.

Once I returned to the Zurge, I searched for a few guilds and looked at their quest boards to figure out what going rates were since I had no concept of the currency used. Attacking a group of slimes was in the low hundreds while escorting a merchant was about 500. Something called a “Fungushead” was 2,000. The drawing looked like it was created by a five-year-old featuring a mushroom head on a bodybuilding human.

It was enough to go off and I returned to my own guild, found some old paper in the back, and wrote a reward for Grundere at 15,000. My thought process was this: if I make it an exorbitant reward then no one would bother the gentle Grundere with the most worthless treasure ever. Well, aside from Traviapor’s underwear, who was next on my agenda. In any case, should anyone accept the offer and retrieve the treasure then I was completely fucked. Where was I going to get 15,000 coins? I had to figure out a plan to upsell silverware.

Not all dragons hoard gold. In fact, every dragon in this world hoards something different. As the Guildmaster, it’s your job to keep tabs on how dangerous a dragon is compared to how worthwhile its hoard is.

Writing prompt #5