Then he had an idea.
The sounds of crackling fire and the smell of flaming gnomes hung heavy in the air.
Dennis continued to plead with Goom while Murt tried to do his wizardy best to bolster the bar against the blaze.
It seemed as though the escaping patrons were enough to keep the dragon's interest (especially the wenches with the fancy braids).
Soon, however, she would fix her aim on the heartstrings that still glowed in the satchel sitting beside Mahrcut's lute.
The lute. The lute was the key to the plan that was zipping through Goom's brain. It didn't have to zip much; it was a simple plan.
Goom would swap out the lute strings for the dragon heartstrings, so he could keep the heartstrings while still having something to offer up to the raging dragon.
Of course, he would still have to give up some of the heartstrings if he wanted the dragon to take the bait.
He only hoped that he could sneak away with enough strings to appease Sil-kuru the Persistent. Death by dragon fire was unpleasant but quick.
Death at the hands of Sil-kuru would be torturously slow.
With the deft hands that dwarves are known for, Goom slowly replaced the lute strings with the dragon's heartstrings.
With its eight paired courses and lone chanterelle, there were fifteen strings to be replaced.
It was just a regular lute with all of the well-known characteristics from its quill plectrum to its vihuela de mano shape. You know the type.
Goom finished his stringing, and he filled his empty satchel with the lute strings he'd removed.
There were eight dragon heartstrings remaining, and those would have to be returned to their owner. Goom placed them on the top of the pile of lute strings in his satchel.
"Let's go!" Murt yelled.
"Yeah! Let's go," Dennis added while grabbing what spirits he could from the top shelf of the abandoned bar.
They'd still have to make a stealthy exit. The dragon was sure to notice the sudden and quick movement of her pilfered heartstrings.
Based on the screaming, she was char broiling some unlucky victims to the North of the bar. Murt kicked down a door in the opposite direction, and they fled to the South.
As expected, it wasn't long before the dragon let out another bone-chilling scream. Goom knew that she'd sensed the movement of her strings.
They ran as fast as they could until they came to a shallow brook. Dennis argued that it was a stream, but it was obviously babbling, so it had to be a brook.
Regardless, Goom had the bright idea to drop his satchel into the brook. He hoped that the dragon would follow the slow-flowing distraction and that they could escape with the lute.
She took the bait, but it wasn't the distraction Goom had hoped for.
The ancient dragons of Fairyland were much too swift and the trio had only run another furlong (7,920 Macedonian cubits) before they heard the dragon roar followed by the gusting of giant wings.
They were spent from their running, and Goom was about to leave the lute and cut his losses when they heard a call from a short distance away.
"Aye boys, 'urry this way!" It was Fewla, the Moss Faun, and she was standing at the mouth of a cave.
The locals knew it as the Cave of Whispers, but to Goom, Murt, and Dennis, it might as well have been called The Cave of Convenient Timing.
They made it into the cave in the nick of time, or so they thought. The dragon, unable to fit into the through the cave's opening, sent forth a great cyclone of fire.
Goom, Murt, and Dennis found a boulder to shield them from the blaze, but Fewla was not so lucky.