Sometimes you'll get an idea from a dream that's fascinating when you first wake up, then it loses its appeal the longer you stay awake. Why is that?
It might be that the idea just wasn't very good to begin with, and my sleepy brain just decided it was cool.
Or it might be that I forgot some of the details as I went.
I choose to think that the problem is the latter.
The beast snarled, lips skinned back from teeth as long as a man's hand. It sprang, claws extended, and if it had landed on its intended victims, they would both have been dead in a moment: a summoner and a healer, wearing the lightest and most negligible of armor. With a bellowed war cry, the sellsword crashed bodily into the beast's flank, and the decorative, scalloped points at the edges of his plate and shield cut rude patterns into the monster's tawny hide. It tumbled away with a scream of pain, and at least for now, the healer and summoner would live a little longer.
As the sellsword warrior roared profanity at the beast, the healer knelt over her friend, hands hovering over the wound in his side. With fingers spread, a cool green glow misting around her digits like a corona, the healer could see plain as day that she was shaking.
"Help my friends. They fight to protect me, I should help them. What kinda help am I now?" She muttered to herself as she worked, pouring herself into closing the wound and stopping the bleeding. Sweat beaded on her brow, and she wondered how long it would be before one of her spells failed. It seemed to be happening more and more often to-
The summoner's hand reached up and grasped her wrist, and the healer almost leapt out of her skin with fright. She'd thought her friend was unconscious. He wasn't, apparently. The injured man's mouth opened and closed soundlessly, and with his off hand, weak from the wound in his side, he struggled to lift the staff he used for all his spells.
"Hold still. This isn't done yet." The healer tried to sound soothing, but her voice shook. More insistently this time, the summoner lifted the staff, trying to push it into his companion's hand. Then the healer understood. Take the staff. Use it. Summon one of my friends.
She grasped the solid wood shaft. At one end, it was like a blunted, decorative spear head. Just below it, three satin ribbons in different colors streamed artistically whenever the thing was twirled or waved. The healer had watched her friend do this several times, but she wasn't at all sure she could do it. Was it the staff itself that worked the magic, or was she just supposed to wave it about and hope something worked? The wood grew warm under her hands, and the summoner gave her a weak shove.
Their mercenary knight was bloodied and stumbling, but still on his feet, shouting at the beast to come at him as he waved his sword over his head like a man possessed. He wasn't going to last very much longer. Hopefully, neither would the monster.
It was as big as a sedan, long and low like a hunting cat. Ribbons of blood cut the tawny fur into uneven sections, and a scorpion's tail arched angrily over its back, the poison sting lopped off early in the fight. It prowled uncertainly beyond the knight's reach, eyeing him as though deciding what to do next.
The healer grasped the ribbons and started the swing the staff in great circles around her head, closing her eyes and channeling as much power into the thing as she could. She felt more than saw the thing start to glow, leaving a trail of green-gold light in the air.
Please help us. Please.
3, 4, 5 - on the 6th rotation, she swung the staff into her opposite hand as she'd seen the summoner do a dozen times, flipped the weapon over and slammed the blunted point into the ground.
In her mind's eye, she could see the gold portal open up, the eldritch creature entering their world and shake itself off, as though climbing out of a pool.
But when she opened her eyes... there was nothing. She knelt at the edge of the road, holding an old, blunt spear, and both the knight and the beast were looking at her curiously.