Chapter 32
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She has green eyes, you know? It’s not an important detail but I wanted to mention it. As I stare at her wondering eyes I continue flailing and clawing at the air. Her hands hold me firmly at a distance, one on each side of my soft stomach, my wobbly legs kicking out beneath me. I roar, puffing my chest proudly to present my draconic superiority. She laughs and smiles. I’ll kill you wizard-girl! Heaving in my chest I let loose a burst of fire that engulfs her face, her loose open hair flying back behind her from the winds borne of the intense heat. Got you!

  There are no screams, no panicked shouts. Just a sigh from the hero and a nervous glance from the thief who is rubbing her forehead. The priestess looks only mildly troubled. What? As the flames die down and I prepare to be killed for my transgression I wonder why I am still being held up in the air. She laughs, still very much alive; her grip still holding me tight. As the fire dissipates I see her face emerge from the tiny blaze entirely unharmed, only a slight black scorch present on her cheek as if the universe just wanted to acknowledge this had happened. Her joy is even greater now than before, she seems so happy. Why? She is immune to fire damage apparently. Figures that the fire specialist is immune to fire damage I suppose. Damn iaa- ahhhhhHHHHH!

  She is spinning me around in a circle. Stop, stop! I’m going to be sick! She is spinning me around in a circle laughing and smiling and I wonder what I have gotten myself into. Please just kill me. Death is better than this. As her little dance comes to an end she holds me out towards the hero and says something in a questioning tone. As her arms extend out and I see the hero just a few inches before me, his pristine face and pristine armor just barely within my reach. I take my chance and lunge forward, snapping with my jaw and swiping with my stupid stubby lizard arms. I don’t reach. He seems unimpressed and wears a weak smile, his eyes closed as he explains something to her. Damn it! Come closer hero! I’ll get you! I’ll get you and your little party too! I roar. Now they all laugh, even the priestess. DAMN IT! My dragon pride is hurting bad, guy, tell you what.

  The thief-girl says something, shrugging, her tone sounds snarky. The wizard pulls me back towards herself and holds my back against her body with one arm, pointing to the thief with the other free hand now. She is shouting something at her. Her body is warm against my back I notice as my wings squish into her, it reminds me of papa. They are arguing about something. The priestess and the monk are just standing in the back waiting for the trouble to subside. The hero is standing there raising his hands forward talking in a complacent tone to try to get the two to settle down. I’ve stopped my thrashing at this point. It’s too embarrassing. I need to bide my time. To wait for an opportunity to strike. I need a dragon’s patience, I need to… why is it so warm? I yawn, the warmth is making me tired again…

  No. No! I shake my head. I can sleep when I’m dead. Well, not literally but you know. As my eyes open up I see the thief-girl standing there having turned sideways with crossed arms, one eye is open to look at me though. I can see the pupil through the shadow of her hood. As our gazes meet she turns her head away with a ‘hmpf’, her elven ears wobbling as she does so. The wizard-girl does the same, repeating the ‘hmpf’ as she spins around away from the stairs and the rest of the group. With both arms wrapped around me now she is still basically holding me tight and we walk off alone ahead of the rest. So warm.

  This is bad. She doesn’t seem to be intent on letting me go. What are you planning?! I wonder. My mind races. If she hasn’t killed me yet she’s probably thinking of some worse way to do it, right? Why else would I still be here? They could have just ended it right then and there. She’s probably just looking for a nice rock to bash me against or some old rusty axe to cut me in half with. I squirm, trying to free myself once more as the panic returns to my beating lizard heart. She says something in her strange garbly human words and I raise my head up backwards to look at her staring down back at me. Her tone is soft, warm, it makes the first me uneasy. I am untrusting of such things.

  Okay. I think I can scrap this life. I mean maybe I’ll see the secret stairs on the way, but I need a way to get out of her grasp first. But I won’t count on this one being a success, that’s okay. They can’t all be winners. Why are you so warm? She is holding me tight, my kicking and squirming come to an end again. I feel sleepy. My gaze drops back downward and I feel my head bobbing as the drowsiness comes to me again. It’s strong. So strong. The urge to sleep as a dragon is incredible, it’s more than the urge to snap shut as a mimic or to wiggle as a slime. It’s deeper, inherent like the need to breathe. My body yearns for sleep, it craves sleep, even in a dangerous situation like this my drake mind is foggy and addled by its wish to return to darkness.

  I pull my head back upright with a snapping motion, my body twitching in that second as I pulse myself awake. I won’t sleep again, I can’t sleep. I have work to do. There is always work to do. I can never sleep. She laughs, her eyes still facing downward looking at me. They practically sparkle like the glisten of a fairy’s magic. A real fairy, not a dark-fairy. Have we seen real fairy magic? It’s sparkly. Really sparkly. I don’t think we have. Hmm. Okay, well you’ve been warned, guy. Why are you staring at me? Are you going to eat me? Please don’t eat me. I don’t like being eaten. I’m starting to think she’s going to eat me. My little heart begins striking faster again. But a minute later as we continue walking and me still being very uneaten, it comes to a resting pace as before.

  How long do I have to live? Assuming she doesn’t kill me until the end of the floor I have maybe two hours? That’s about what it took me to walk across the entire floor with my tiny stubby body. But then again a human is much faster than me. She could probably walk through in thirty minutes, less actually. Wait. Wait. I perk up. Isn’t this an opportunity? I’ve never been this close to the adventurers before, maybe I can see what their trick is. Why they’re so fast. I fidget around in her grasp, trying to get a better view of the rest of them. I still hear them walking behind us, we’ve taken the lead. If I can find out what it is they’re doing to clear each floor so fast and come down faster each time than maybe I can do something about it. Maybe I can use it against them? This is a rare opportunity.

  My mind ponders the idea. Sure, I could maybe kill one of them if I get lucky. That might even give me another level up, hell it would for sure. But she doesn’t seem to be intent on letting me loose and who knows if I will get a chance like this again… I rack my little mind trying to decide. Kill? Or play along? Kill? Play along? I look down to my little dragon claws and raise my ‘fingers’ one at a time to help me make up my mind; raising one each time I think a phrase. ‘Kill, play along, kill, play along -” One more and then the sixth finger raises ‘play along’. It’s settled then, I think to myself.

  Puffing my chest out I feel a proud grumble run through my body, my small body vibrating in happiness at my good decision-making. I’ll let them live, this time, if only for the sake of reconnaissance. Are you watching me dark-lord? I do it for you. I prepare myself, steeling my mind for what grim fate awaits me at the end of this road. I’ve died so often, been maimed, slaughtered, humiliated, decapitated, masticated, decimated, eliminated and all those other ‘ateds. So I can take this. Whatever this death is going to be, I’ve had worse. I am ready. My chest grumbles, a strong vibration shooting through my body again. My dragon pride was well instilled in me from birth.

  She laughs holding me out now facing her again. Why? What do you want from me? Stop looking happy, it’s unsettling. She tilts me sideways to the left and the right inspecting my body. Turning around she asks the others something. They think for a moment and then the monk says something suggestively raising a finger in the air as she does so like she was explaining an idea. I hear the wizard behind me nodding and going ‘hm’‘hm’ in affirmation of the proposal. I look at the hero, he has nothing to say but looks at me curiously as well. She sets me down on the ground, releasing her grip from me for the first time. What? Already? I was ready to die but I thought I still had five minutes. Okay. Okay! Fine!

  The wizard-girl is behind me, the rest of the hero party before me. There is no escape. Fine! We’ll do this the old fashioned way I think to myself. Stepping forward two tiny drake steps, I stand up high on my two stubby legs, spread my wings and tiny arms wide and roar with all the ferocity a foot high baby drake can muster in preparation for battle. Fight me hero! I’m not afraid of you!

  I feel a weight pressing down on the top of my body, a single finger pressing down on my head from behind. I wait for the explosion, for the inevitable fireball to come and vaporize me entirely. Instinctively I turn my head around to see my killer before I go. I look into her smiling face with distrust and see the dried meat in her extended hand.

Meat? Real meat?

I lunge. Food.