Chapter 33
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I tear into the meat with my long drake teeth, ripping it from her hand and pinning it down onto the stone floor. It is dried, salted. But it is real meat from an animal that isn’t a rat. I can’t identify the taste and I don’t know what it is exactly. But it is food. Real food. My drake mind is overwhelmed with the urge to devour and consume and gorge on the fresh carcass of my kill. Ripping and tearing I claw apart the thing with my two stubby clawed hands that I have finally found a use for. The taste is strong, rich and savory, it might be the best tasting thing I can remember eating in a long time. The meat in my last life was okay too, don’t get me wrong. But real cooked food is just different than eating a whole raw fish or serpent.
I know it’s just a piece of jerky, the first me does at least. Some dried cured adventuring provision, but my dragon mind doesn’t understand such things. As far as its considered we are feasting on a kill. I devour the meat in a frenzy. I must eat before another can steal. I must consume, grow. A shadow. I feel the light change as something hovers above my head. Lashing out I snap at the hand above me and let out a squeaky roar. Shoo shoo meat thief! Shoo shoo!

  The wizard’s reflexes are sharp and she snatches her hand back before I could sink my teeth into it. Hissing at her I return to my bounty. The others laugh and say something. I have come to a realization much like you probably have as well, guy. She has taken a liking to me in this form. She spared me. Is carrying me. Feeding me. Are you stupid wizard-girl? I’m a dragon. I’m a trash-mob! I roar again. She doesn’t seem impressed and is watching me with a shine in her eyes like the light bouncing off of a glimmering jewel. I understand now. She’s a wizard after all.

  Several adventuring classes are allowed to have familiars. Companions. Summons. Things of that nature. Judging by her actions she wants me to be one, the drake me. I suppose it would be a fitting familiar for a fire wizard. But my heart belongs to the dark-lord and the dark-lord alone I think to myself as my lizard eyes gaze upward suspiciously towards her while I finish the last of the food. I’ll admit, a tiny part of me is enjoying being doted on. I get lonely too, okay? It’s nice to feel a little love once in a while even if from a complete stranger. But this is a weak spot. I need to make a note of this, to remember this when I can. The wizard-girl, ruthless and brutal as she fights, has a weakness for cute things. Especially if they relate to the element of fire. This might be important to know for later. A chink in her armor. My slit eyes narrow in a glare.

  This is why they haven’t killed me yet. She is trying to tame me. To convert me. To make me one of them. I’d be lying if the thought didn’t seem tempting for a moment. To become an adventurer, or at least part of their group. To fight together with them. To be friends with them. The real food is a bonus too and being carried is nice of course and I bet it would be a lot of fun. Maybe I could even escape the dungeon? But I doubt it. Even if I went with them. Even if I fought with them against my real compatriots, the other trash-mobs. When they beat the dungeon, when they beat the dungeon-master I would probably just respawn in a new life anyways like I always have right? In a new body and it will have been pointless in the end. I will have betrayed everything I stand for, hurt those I truly stand with just for that slim chance I can escape. I won’t. I will never. Papa would never forgive me for betraying him, I would never forgive myself.

  As I swallow the last of the meat before anyone has the chance to steal any of it I raise my head proudly and stand in their midst, dominant and courageous. I’ll play along. I need to find out their secret. I need to find out their weaknesses. I might never get this close again, I have to make the most of it. This life won’t last long anyways. Once the fight with papa ends I’ll vanish. Papa is big. Papa is strong. But he won’t beat the adventurers. He never has and never will and then when that happens I’ll fade away. Don’t they know that? Hmm.

  I look around, the others are making some idle small talk. The hero and the monk are joking about something and the priestess and thief are looking through their bags. The thief turns her head to look at me but catches me looking back at her. She quickly turns away, pretending it never happened. I don’t trust her, with her being a thief and all. I don’t think she likes the idea of me as a familiar, she seems to have been arguing against it before. Is she planning on killing me when she gets a shot? Is that why she’s always sneaking peeks at my sweet dragon ‘bod? I’m onto you thief-girl. Stab me once, shame on you. Stab me twice, I break your arm. Stab me three times and we’re gonna have some real awkward interpersonal difficulties to resolve between the both of us, ideally using a long-form conversation and intricate problem resolving techniques. I hiss, a puff of smoke leaving my nostrils.

  The wizard picks me up from behind again. I let her do so without fighting this time. I need to play along, to make this seem like a good idea for them. I need to make the most of the time I have left in this life. Letting my just past post-newborn body hang loose in her grip, I decide I need to be ruthless and vicious in my acting. I need the dark-lord’s own black heart to melt and swelter at the pathetic image I must present. Swallowing my pride for the sake of the dungeon and trash-mobs I swore to protect, I do the unthinkable and start purring, a deep vibration shooting through my body up into her arms. Through her bones and straight into her fiery little heart. She squeals delighted at the sound and holds me close again. Got you, sucker.

  The group seems to be ready to move on. The wizard-girl is beaming with delight. It’s not that I can see her, but it’s hard to misunderstand her emotions as she is practicality bobbing from side to side humming a happy little tune as I am stuck firmly in her grasp. At least it’s warm here. I yawn, feeling myself grow sleepy again now that the adrenaline has subsided. Shaking my head I force myself to stay away. Turning away we walk down the tunnel together, all of us as one whole unit now. The wizard-girl and I are in the middle of the group again, the internal dynamics seem to have cooled down and the hero is once more taking the lead as I am accustomed to him doing. More than once I get the urge to leap on his back and gnaw on his neck. But I fight it. I press it down, my eyes never leave him though. My neck and head stiffly held always pointing towards him no matter how my body bobs and shifts in her grip.

  What is your trick hero? How are you so fast? So far I have seen nothing out of the ordinary. We’re just walking. They’re just walking and talking. There’s no strange magic. No short-cuts. Nothing. Occasionally the hero taps some odd looking stones on the way to check for traps but doesn’t find any. The dungeon-master doesn’t seem to have set any here, at least not on the main way. But I think he’s been using less and less of them to begin with honestly now that I think back about it. Maybe he’s noticing that they’re not as effective as… uh… well, honestly down here nothing is effective against the hero party so I guess it doesn’t matter. I wonder if the dungeon-master remembers respawns? I don’t think so. I think only I do. But if there was anyone else here it would be him I suppose.

 Why is it so warm here? Aaah, I’m so tired. No! Stay awake. Stay awake. You’ll be dead and gone soon either wa-

  A great roar barrels down the cavernous winding passages of the floor. The walls around us rumble with a great thunder and everyone covers their ears at the deafening sound of a screaming ancient. I recognize the raging tone immediately. Papa. I squirm and fight and twist and kick and claw, trying to free myself from her grip. My lizard brain taking over out of instinct fueled by a fresh drive to fight. The call of the great dragon summoning me to his side as the sub-boss fight has initiated. Scrambling free I fall with flopping wings to the ground, the wizard girl who is still hurting from the pain in her head lets out a shout I can’t understand. I hear only the call of the beast.

  I run, I run as fast as my little wyrmy body can take me. Soon I hear the steps echoing behind me, catching up the little distance I managed to make from them. Papa. Papa what’s wrong? I hear voices. Shouts. I hear the fray of a wild battle ringing out from just ahead. Screams and grunting. The swinging of weapons and the wild animal shouts of goblins and minotaurs. What’s going on? As I round the final corner, just as I feel the soft hands grab my sides again I see the source of the commotion. Together we all stand there watching the chaos ensuing before us. Goblins, dozens of them, minotaurs, skeletons, dark-fairies all of them are rising out of the staircase from below as a great swarm. Papa is in the middle of the frenzy, they are infighting. They must have woken him when they came up the stairs from below.

Like I told you before some trash-mobs just can’t stand each other. And others are just inherently violent against anything. The trash-mobs coming from below were all compatible with another, for the most part, but now there’s a real obstacle.

A great red dragon sitting by the staircase.

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