Chapter 30: Drake
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Ah. Here I am again. Dead as a doornail. What does that even mean? What the hell is a doornail? I have no idea, guy. I float, my shapeless form in that place where I always go when I die. How often have I come here? How many lives have I truly lived so far? I wish I could say for certain, but honestly a part of me doesn’t really want to know, truth be told. As I float aimlessly in that space where nothing can exist, this limbo of mine, I wonder. Was it hundreds? Thousands? More? I know I am forgetful, that my memories come and go. Since I got the menu and the level up I’ve felt a teensy bit sharper, but that might just be my imagination really.

  Maybe I’ve been here for a hundred years? Maybe ten thousand? I don’t know. What were my last lives? I was a serpent just now, before that? I was… uh… a mimic? No, I was a minotaur? No… wait. Yeah. No. Uh. Hidden Village slime? Maybe? Ugh. See? This is what I mean. I can’t remember what I had for breakfast so I for sure can’t remember that far back. Ugh, that was a gross death. I hate being splatted. The sensation is really… ugh. Have you ever had a nose and then had it broken, guy? It’s a really disgusting feeling because that wet crack of the cartilage breaking shoots down your entire body. It makes you sick, not from the pain but just from that disgusting sensation. Now imagine that feeling all throughout your whole body at once. Ugh. But I found the secret stairs, that’s something right? Well, I mean I didn’t find them exactly. I was brought to them. Thanks great-old one, I guess. Not sure why you had to kill me though but hey.

  So did she bring me there on purpose? Does it mean she knew about them? Or was it just a strange coincidence that she flung me onto them like a ball scoring a last second goal? Seems like an odd place to bring me to just to kill me though, she could have done it literally anywhere so… she was helping me? Yeah, I think so. I think I can believe that. Thanks great old-one, I wish I could pick her brain but I feel like she wouldn’t be interested in talking to me. Also she can’t speak in anything but ancient screams from beyond the cosmic void so there’s a bit of a communication gap there.

  Ah. I can still feel it, the snake body. So gross, poor guy. I bet he looks like a peeled noodle right now. Uf. I hope I have arms in my next life haha, I mean. It was fun honestly, I’m so glad I got to be something new again. It’s not like there aren’t other lives where I don’t have arms either, like when I was a slime, but I just personally prefer having them you know? Hmm. Ah, I wish I could have watched the fight a bit longer. It’s always so fun to watch even if I do get a little jealous. Anyways.

  What floor came after the… the… uh. What was the name of the last floor I was just on again? The place with the water? Uh. Hmm. It’s been so long I’m kind of unsure really, I didn’t check my map. I should have done that, ugh. Oh well. Uh, Slippery Tentacle Wet Fun Place, yeah that’s what we’ll be calling it from here on out. So if that was the highest floor for me before uh.. Floor ninety-five, I guess? Then what’s floor ninety-four? I hope it’s something fun. Maybe like, trash-mob vacation town. A secret floor only trash-mobs can go to where I can just sleep for a wee-
The lurch. The cold. I am being reborn, respawning. Damn. Well, at least I had five minutes to breathe. Back to work I g-!

  It is hot. So hot. So nice. Fire dances around me, the thousand flames rising and falling in an inferno that never ends. A frightening blaze that never dies low. Raising my head lazily up from the human ankle-high pile of gold coins I lay on I observe my surroundings. A great orange hue fills the room, the fire everywhere burning with an intensity that makes me uneasy for a moment, the first me. I fear a smell that I don’t want to ever smell again, but it isn’t here. The smell here is of rock and sulfur. It is dark and acrid and smells of smoke and burning earth. Raising my tiny body up to stand upright I look around proudly from my perch of gold coins. Beautiful, useless, gold coins. As I look around the great magma chamber I find myself in, I release a tiny roar from my scaled red mouth, a burst of fire a foot long leaving with it. I am a drake.

  A drake? Woah. When was I a drake the last time? I forgot about these guys. I have two stompy little stubby legs on which I now stand proud and tall. My bright red body is the length of the priestesses’ shins. A soft spot rises up from my bottom to my belly that takes on a paler, more orange-yellow hue. I have two tiny good for nothing arms with claws that face downward, why? For what purpose? I look at my three pronged hands and try to raise them and wiggle my fingers. They do as I ask, but… well, they’re not good for scratchin’ that itch, tell you what. It’s like I was a goblin and my elbows were glued to my ribs. I guess they’re good for holding food, but not much else. I stretch them as far as I can and release a little drake yawn. I am tired apparently. Dragons are always tired and young drakes especially so, they have a lot of growing to do.

  Proudly, like the deadly beast that I am, I stomp down the pile of coins to find what I see- Ah! I slip and fall, my tiny wings flapping desperately behind me in an effort to keep me upright. The coins shifted under my little drake feet as I was walking and I land straight on my face. My face is long and pointy, my jaws which are lined with only a few, but very large, teeth are clenched tightly shut as I face-plant into the brittle stone surface of the floor here and release a small shout of lizard anguish instinctively. Flopping around the ground like a dying fish, I stumble in an effort to push myself up with my tiny, useless arms off of the many tiny, useless gold coins like the tiny, useless creature that I am. As I do so the world starts to rumble and I think for a moment that the great old-one is making an appearance here as well. But that can’t be, maybe it’s an earthqu- ah! Oh.

Hi dad.

  A great maw, the head of a full grown red dragon, nudges me with its nose ever so gently like the touch of a mother holding a newborn to push me back upright. Steadily I balance myself back up to my feet and look back to the monstrously large eye facing me. This is papa, he’s huge. When I grow up, I’m going to be as big as he is! Thanks papa! I nuzzle his face, one of his smaller teeth is easily the size of my whole body. He lets out a gentle rumble that shakes the world around me, the gold coins vibrating from the sound before pulling his head back to go back to sleep. He has to get up early for work tomorrow after all.

  I can’t help but stare at him as he returns to rest. I mean, the entire room is interesting, don’t get me wrong. It has all sorts of fun things like steam shafts and magma rivers and molten pools and fire. But there’s a literal giant dragon sitting infront of me, how can I not look at that first and foremost? When’s the last time I saw a dragon? Man. Woah. He’s huge. My body is a juvenile, barely past being a newborn. My wings don’t even work right yet which is a real shame, but come on! Drake! New floor! Yes!

  I try my best to imitate the pleased rumbling purring sound papa made. It doesn’t really sound the same, but I feel the vibration shake in my chest as I look at him in awe. Returning to the task at hand I turn around and wobble-stomp my way around the tiny pile of coins on which I respawned. It’s like… what, a few dozen coins at most? But still. This is my hoard. The coins you’re wondering? Yeah, dragons and drakes like sleeping on coins. Don’t be judgy about it guy, okay? It’s the metal. We have hard bodies, us draconoid types. But that doesn’t mean we want to sleep on the floor, okay? We want real beds too, it’s legitimate. Well there aren’t many people making beds for dragons down here guy, tell you what. But what we do have are coins. Thousands and thousands of useless, worthless glittering gold coins. Turns out a pile of coins is more comfortable than the stone floor, who would have guessed? Plus they have the benefit of holding warmth nicely. Metal retains heat well enough, not as good as the stone floors though. But gold does it in a way that’s especially nice for us, it's a very soft heat. So that’s why we like gold. This was your trash-mob lecture for the day, exams will be held in a week from now.

  Wobble-stomping my way down the stone path edging near a magma lake I do my best to keep my balance as I walk. See, I have two stubby, flat feet so that means when I walk I kind of waddle like a fat bird. Add to this the fact that my wings aren’t fully developed yet I need to flap them to keep my balance and myself upright. Man, this floor brings back memories. Like that time I… uh… okay, no. No, it doesn’t bring back anything. I bend a corner and open my menu once I am sure I am alone. With a pling it pops up before me.

 

  I go to my map to look at the place I’m in. Dang. I can’t read goblin as a drake bu- huh? That’s not goblin. That’s… uh… human? I guess. Yeah. Yeah that looks human. Why? Menu. Please. I can’t do anything with this information, ugh. Well, at least the picture of the map is working okay. Looking at it I am unable to decipher much of value though. The stairs upward are there on the far side, the stairs down are by papa. Sure enough there are no secret stairs on the map. I sigh, a puff of smoke releases from my mouth.

Closing the menu for now I look around the hellish room. It’s so nice and warm in here. Aah~ I close my eyes for a second like a cat basking in the sun as I listen to the magma bubble around me. My head nicks downward and I begin to doze away sleepily. Real sleep, I think to myself as I feel myself fading. When was the last time I had real sleep? When was the last time I stopped? I have been respawning and living for so long, I’ve never had a day to stop. An hour to stop. It’s been go, go, go for as long as I can remember. My body plomps down on its hind quarter, my little stubby legs giving out and I lean myself against the rocks. Listening to the churning world around me as I nod away to a sleep, my little drake wings flapping behind me as I dream about flying through the skies with papa.

Edit from the distant future,

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