Opal looked at the Kobold leader’s body slumped against the boulder and tilted her head.
“That one was dangerous. Glad the big snake took him out. If he had won against it then it might have been better for us to just leave.”
Rain looked up from where he was shoving the last of a Kobold leg down his maw. His teeth crushed its claws and he swallowed and let out a belch. He wiped his mouth.
“Spicy. Oh, the leader? Yeah, he was pretty impressive. Fire breath is something I would like to avoid, because, you know, flammable fur.” He gestured vaguely at his body.
“Kobold’s don’t normally breathe fire, that’s only the second time I’ve seen it.”
“I guess he was just an unusual breed of Kobold then.”
The Goblin gave him a curious look. “Breed? I’m not sure what you mean, Kobolds are born all the same, that Kobold evolved.”
“Evolved? What is evolved?” said Rain, raising an eyebrow.
“Gods your old slave masters really taught you nothing about monsters huh. It’s simple, sometimes something happens that triggers a monster into evolving to a better form. You already met an evolved monster, the overgrown Gobbo that my old Chief castrated, he was a kind of Hobgobbo which is a better Gobbo.”
“Oh?... Wait, wait, hold on, does that mean you could evolve too!?”
“...Yes… But I don't know what would make that happen. I wouldn't want to chase it either, we used to mock evolution chasers in the tribe, they would all without fail get themselves killed having gotten nothing.”
“Interesting. I wonder if it works like leveling, kill monsters, or maybe in a monster’s case kill levelers, and then evolve.”
Opal shrugged. “I don’t know. I knew of Gobbos who had done lots of that but nothing happened. Even My old tribe's Chief, he killed tons of things, but he never evolved, which frustrated him, not even the Witch Gobbo knew why.”
“Well, maybe the chance to evolve is hereditary.”
“It’s never had any rhyme or reason that my tribe noticed. I just know that it’s rare and always makes a monster stronger.”
“Stronger hmm. That leader Kobold looked almost noble fighting that snake, that was more than strength,” said Rain picking a scale from his teeth.
“Eh, It’s not like he came here for good reasons, not that Kobolds ever do anything good if they can help it.” She pointed at the clutch of eggs that had been uncovered during the fight. “Kobolds love snake eggs and they take crazy risks to get at them. They must have stumbled upon the snake guarding its nest, and the leader wanted its eggs bad enough that he got himself and every Kobold with him killed for his greediness.”
Rain grinned at that. “He did, and now everything is mine.”
He turned back to the pile of stripped Kobold bodies and went back to eating. The delicious spice of the creatures made his mouth water and he eagerly tore into them, bones and all. If he were much larger he would have liked to have eaten them like the snake, but since he was not he contented himself with taking large bites at a time. Kobold was reaffirming its position near the top of his list. Still, he didn’t hesitate to leave a Kobold tail to the side, he knew Opal liked them.
He was pushing how much he could digest at once, filling his stomach and compressing it down. When he’d first eaten Kobold he’d only managed one at a time, now he was taking in one and a half or more before needing to digest. He liked to push it because more inside of him meant he would grow more in one go. He liked that feeling of growth more than he felt he could describe in words.
The pile of fourteen Kobolds quickly diminished beneath his slavering jaws and endless hunger and soon he was reaching for the last of them. He pushed himself and managed to stuff inside the last two Kobolds as one. Opal didn’t miss the opportunity and fell to her knees practically hugging him, her breath coming in little gasps. His toes curled and uncurled and he stretched his arms above his head as his stomach growled and began to shrink down. His body began to grow in mass and height, bones creaking and popping, skin stretching over swelling muscle. He groaned and Opal let out an accidental moan as his stomach vanished and his feet pushed against the sand, his legs growing in length shifting Opal with them.
He’d gained inches from eating the fourteen Kobolds, far better than any crappy mushrooms.
Opal clutched at the fur on his pecs and looked up at him.
“W-we’re not done y-yet.”
Her eyes tracked to the massive body of the snake.
“Eggs first, I’ve never had a snake egg before. Go and get them for me.”
After a moment to prepare herself she slid from his body and climbed to her feet. She wiped a little drool from her lip with the back of her hand.
She busied herself digging out the white eggs from the sand one by one. There were a lot, more than expected, nearly twenty of the things. She pulled them free and slowly lined them up by Rain. Each was roughly the size of a melon and she had to roll them across the sand due to their surprising weight.
Rain pulled the first one over as she worked. White, with a hard shell with a little give. He held out a claw and poked a hole in the top then held it up and let the yellow yolk pour into his mouth.
“Hmm. Not awful. Slimy. Kinda tasteless.”
Rain made a face suddenly recalling the blandness of the mushroom monsters and put the shell down.
Opal rolled the last of the eggs over. “Let me try and cook one before you eat anymore.”
She swiftly pulled out a pan and dropped an egg into it. She then threw down a root thing she had taken from a mushroom monster as well as some twigs and branches from the bottom of her rucksack as well as fluffy tinder she had taken from a lake reed. She knocked together a flint and steel and the tinder caught and then with a whumpf so did the mushroom root as it burst into flame and began burning furiously.
Ten minutes later she hooked out the egg and rolled it over to Rain. He picked it up, bouncing it from paw to paw due to the heat and then tried to poke a hole in the top. He managed it, but nothing came out.
“It’s solidified you silly wolf.”
Rain grunted then dropped it back in the sand where he rapidly tore off the shell revealing the soft white interior. He scented the fresh steaming eggwhite, his eyes slowly widening at how enticing it smelled. He tore into it, devouring it to the yolk, then pausing as he took in the savoury eggy flavour. It didn’t take long to scarf the rest down and he was left licking the inside of the shell.
“It’s good. Rich. Normally I prefer food raw but this is better cooked.”
“I’ve seen Kobolds eat eggs raw but never snake eggs, I figured there must be a reason.”
She piled up a few more of the eggs over the fire and then rushed around the sandy clearing digging up bits of very dry and very old dead wood which she tossed on the pile. Quickly enough Rain had more eggs incoming and he happily ripped them apart and licked the shells clean.
He found he could manage a lot of the things before he had to wait and digest them so it only took a few rounds to entirely polish off the eggs. Each time Opal came up and lay on top of him, feeling his body grow beneath herself.
After a little time spent basking in the afterglow of a big meal, Rain sat up and shifted the Goblin off his chest.
“I’m still really really hungry, and having that snake so near is not helping.” He licked his lips as he eyed the great beast then getting his feet underneath him he stood.
“Yes! Eat the snake! You can grow so much from it, bigger and bigger!” said the Goblin, her eyes sparkling as she looked up at his new height, inches taller than before. She grabbed him by the paw and excitedly led him to the end of the snake.
Rain picked up the tail and put the tip in his mouth. Opal helped hold it up in the air and he pushed the thing into his maw and bit down and chewed. The scales of the snake had a shockingly lemon fresh crisp taste to them, and the interior a lush and juicy umami beef flavour, totally different from anything he had expected but a strangely brilliant combination that he instantly relished. He eagerly tore into it, two feet of snake, three feet, four. He shoved forward eager to fit more inside and rapidly reached six foot along its tail. The snake's body was getting thicker by this point and Rain’s jaws had to spread wide to take it in, he didn't stop though as his stomach expanded. Opal was trying her best to push the snake toward his mouth but it was becoming too much for her. Fortunately rain could rely on his own strength and helped haul more toward his teeth.
He slowed as he reached the limit of what he could eat in one go.
“M-more!” said the goblin, her hands shaking as she tried to hold the weight of the snake’s tail up.
Rain shook his head and closed his eyes unable to speak with so much snake filling his mouth. He furrowed his brow, readying to break off, then opened his eyes in surprise as he felt his stomach rumble to life and begin to digest. He groaned as he felt growth stutter start then stop, as though it was being delayed and banked up, as though it were unable to begin working on his body because he was still eating.
Instead of stopping and just letting the growth happen however he let his instinctual hunger drive him and pushed forward, managing to rip and bite another foot of snake inside himself, pushing out his shrinking stomach again.
“A-are you digesting as you eat?” said the goblin, as another foot of snake pushed into the wolf's mouth.
Rain ignored her and focused on eating. He was digesting as fast as he could bite and push the snake meat down his throat by now, and he hurried to press forward even as he felt the potential growth amassing, waiting to get to work. Fifteen feet up the snake he came across the first bulge a Kobold made in the snake’s body. He eyed it and grimaced. No time to waste. He bit down on the snake, swallowed, then dove on the encased Kobold, unwilling to let his digestion end. He succeeded and managed to rip through and shove enough of the spicy meat down his gullet that his gut was kept busy and his tastebuds excited at the variation in flavour. The snake was stripped away and the kobold inside was eaten limb by limb, even the head was taken apart. With a slightly crazed look in his eye Rain threw himself onto the rest of the snake using his claws to help rend it apart and shovel its meat into his mouth all while gulping down everything he could fit his teeth around and bite down on.
He didn't stop, his hunger just kept rising and rising and he drove forward eager to sate himself. The second Kobold’s body met its fate beneath his jaws and then the third and the fourth, by this point the snake’s body was a few feet wide and he had to slow down just due to the increased mass he needed to cover. He could feel his jaws tiring as he went, making the speed with which he ate a little less. It was a marathon, but one he couldn't tear himself away from, his hunger demanded more, always more. All the while the growth banked up and up inside, it had an almost real weight to it, eager to crash down on his body.
He finished the fifth embedded Kobold and moved on up to the head of the snake. Bone didn't stand a chance beneath his teeth and crumbled and splintered under the pressure so that when he hit the boniest part of the snake, the skull, it didn't slow him at all. He bit ragged chunks from it, rapidly working his way through the head until he was left with nothing but the tongue and snout, and then that was gone too. He collapsed to the ground knocking Opal aside and writhed as the massive surge of banked up growth rolled through him. It felt like a morning stretch multiplied by a thousand, almost painfully so. He clawed at the sand and his back arched as his bones grew, muscle expanded, teeth lengthened, his very blood felt like it was heating up and rushing through his veins, his skin stretching over his broadening shoulders, longer limbs, larger paws, his claws extending outward, until with a final rough surge it ended and he collapsed limply on the ground and immediately passed out.
He awoke a few minutes later to find Opal sitting on his chest and poking at his nose.
“Urghh,” he groaned. “Why did I do that?”
He noted his voice was a little deeper. The more he grew the deeper it got, and after the snake noticeably so.
“Dunno. Guess you were hungrier than you realised.”
“I feel exhausted.”
“Well, you did grow a lot.”
Rain rubbed at his face. “I’m not surprised. I just ate an entire fifty-foot snake plus five kobolds.”
“Yes. Yes you did.” said Opal biting her lip.
Rain pushed the goblin off his chest and tiredly clambered to his feet. The goblin had to crane her neck to look up at him now as the top of her head didn’t even reach the bottom of his pecs. He estimated he was well over 6 foot, maybe 6 foot 5 inches, a significant jump from when he had left the goblin camp, over a foot taller.
She placed her hands flat on his abs and admired their difference in size.
“W-we should find m-more,” she stammered her voice coming out wobbly.
“You’re more insatiable than I am. No, no more for the moment, I feel like I fell down a hill and hit every rock on the way down, twice.”
“Beast, I hope you die!” came a strained voice from behind.
The pair turned to see that the leader Kobold was still alive somehow, though he was surrounded by an alarmingly large pool of blood.
“Oooh, and we don't even have to go far for your next meal!”
The Kobold spat blood to his side. “I’ll curse you on the way down your gullet beast. I hope I poison you.”
“You’re dying.” said Rain, looking at the missing leg of the Kobold and the chunk torn from his side.
“Really? Brilliant observation wolf- whatever you are. You’d make a good detective.”
Opal held up her knife. “I’m going to end you, you miserable shitty Kobold.”
Rain put a large paw on her shoulder to stop her however.
“Do you have any enemies?”
“What?” said the Kobold momentarily confused, although that could have been the blood loss.
“Anyone you want to suffer, people you want vengeance on? I’m still going to eat you, but your fight with that snake impressed me, so if you tell me where I can find your enemies I might find I happen to cross their path and eat them too.”
The Kobold barked out a long laugh that ended in a wince as he shifted his injury.
“Hilarious. The beast thinks he isn't my enemy. I would wish that you eat yourself but I don't think you will do that sad to say. Fine. I have no enemy inside of my tribe that I would risk a monster like you going anywhere near my tribe. But outside, yes, always. Before we found this clutch of magnificent snake eggs and our unfortunate meeting with their owner we were tracking a team of levelers, bastards that often raid us, kill my people, and worse. We lost track of them and the trail had gone cold, but maybe you’ll come across them. If they haven't left already they will most likely be encamped at the goat shaped rock, that way” He lifted a shaky arm and pointed with his cutlass before it fell from his feeble grip and impacted with the sand. “They are led by a skilled and tall leveler with black hair and a sword. Bite his face off for me will you? Preferably while you are dying with a sword in your gut.”
Rain lunged forward and grabbed the kobold around the neck.
“Tall, black hair? Did you hear of his name? Was it Brax?!”
The Kobold smiled, showing his bloody teeth, and then spat blood over Rain’s face.
Rain reeled back as it splashed across his eyes and hurriedly wiped it away only to find the Kobold leader had expired and lay still as stone.