Chapter 34
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The great rumble of the growling dragon shakes the world we stand on, the powerful sensation shooting through the old stone up through the bones of everything standing here, shaking the core and heart of anything that still has one. I feel the rumble in my small body, I feel it shoot through the hands holding me and shake my small frame. My body lashes out away from my control. As an add-on for the sub-boss fight I am being beckoned, called to his side to fight. I understand this sensation and am aware of it. But I still can’t resist the call.

  Struggling I continue my efforts to break free and to reach him. I need to help papa. I roar out loudly, my tiny shout barely audible over the sounds of chaos filling the ninety-fifth floor of the dungeon. The drake me wants her to let me go, to let me go to the fight. I am being called. I need to go. But the first me knows that I won’t survive. I am smaller than a single runty goblin, I wouldn’t have a chance to even break through the first line. Even now more and more skeletons are pouring from the lowest level.

  A bright, rusty orange glow shines out from the staircase as the skeleton champion rises up from the bleak depths. The hue of her weapon glowing much like the luster of the thousand gold coins that make up the dragon’s nest. The adventurers are just standing here watching the fray. They are confused as well, they have seen mob-infighting before but nothing like this. The same can be said for me. The great dragon roars again and now swipes out with one its massive claws sending a swarm of goblins flying into the skeletons behind them.

  The skeletons wouldn’t usually attack the dragon, but papa struck first. He doesn’t like intruders. Trash-mobs, adventurers. Neither are welcome in our home. The skeletons form a great wide line with their rusted swords and pikes advancing towards him, he swipes and lashes out with his tail sending dozens flying with each swing. But more seem to be pouring out from below, more skeletons than I remember ever existing. The dungeon-master must be working overtime to make more. Do we have that many dead adventurers in here to convert?

  The adventurers are talking to themselves, trying to figure out a plan. So far they seem content on just watching the battle from afar, pragmatically there is no need to get involved just yet after all. I am still struggling, squirming. But the wizard-girl isn’t letting me go this time. She is the clingy type apparently. We just met. Sheesh. The great rumble continues, the dungeon itself shaking as the annoyance of the red dragon now turns to fury as one of the skeletons jabs his leg with an old black pike. Raising that single bloodied leg he stamps down on the undead creature returning it to dust. The shock of the impact sends a breeze down blowing past us.

  I need to do something. Papa is in danger. But I can’t do anything in this body. I am weak. Useless. Papa could usually use his fire breath to just get rid of them all at once. But he isn’t. Why isn’t he? My mind races but then I come to the realization. He doesn’t know where I am. Baby drakes are fire resistant but the inferno of a full grown dragon would disintegrate even me, his only child. I suppose the red dragon usually doesn’t have any add-ons, it’s a solo fight. But since I respawned here he has some fresh paternal instincts. Poor guy, it must be hard being a single dad down in the dungeon. One of the minotaurs makes its move and sprints towards him, leaping up and striking at the hurt leg with a large axe mid-jump. The knicked blade sinks in deep, breaking through the hard scales of the beast. Fresh red trickles out. Papa shifts his long neck and bites down on the minotaur before it has a chance to release its grip. A disgusting scream fills the room followed by a crunch that brings quiet. Red seeps from his many long teeth.

  His body is hanging low though. Papa isn’t designed by the dungeon-master to fight this many people at once. A rough hundred is just too much for a sub-boss made to fight a single party. I need to help. Looking around in a wild frenzy I try to come up with a plan. But there is nothing here. Nothing but the adventurers, but the wizard-girl holding me. The wizard-girl… my lizard eyes narrow as the plan comes to the forefront of my mind. I am young, inexperienced. But I can do it. I rumble.

  I let the deep vibration shoot through my body stemming from my stomach. I feel the great heat buried inside of my draconoid form begin to meld and swirl into a soup. It is young, unshaped and rough. I close my eyes and stiffen my body as I let it well in me. She is looking at me, sensing a shift in my demeanor. The fire grows in my belly. I am a red dragon, for the day, but a dragon nonetheless. I see papa fighting before me; in panic, in furor searching for me in the frenzy. I rumble letting the heat grow brighter, stronger. My chest wells and my soft belly stretches as the shaking in my heart continues. I feel it, the blaze, the fire in me. The wizard-girl is looking at me curiously now. Good. Watch me. Watch me wizard-girl. I learned this from you.

  Unhinging my jaw like a serpent I let my head shoot forward with a whipping motion and compress my soft belly inwards in an instant, creating a powerful vacuum and letting the fire draw out of my body, out of my heart. She lets out a surprised yelp and tries to pull me away, but she’s too slow. The great fireball borne of my tiny dragon body leaves my throat hurtling towards the backs of the goblins. In that last millisecond a goblin caster turns around just in time by coincidence and raises his magic staff to create a fire-barrier before impact. A great explosion echoes around the room, overpowering the sounds of battle. The light of the fire shining out like the dawning of a new sun after a dark night as it crashes against the last second magical shield that was thrown up. A beaming signal shooting out like magic of a summoned hero to the stars. Everyone stops trying to see what the explosion was.

  A half hundred goblin faces turn around to see me, see us. A half hundred skeletons and dark-fairies floating through the air turn around to see me, us. The handful of minotaurs turn around to see me, us. Papa sees me, them. In an instant the battle changes. The hundred deathly forms shift around towards us, towards the adventurers. Some trash-mobs hate each other. But all trash-mobs hate adventurers more than that. Seeing them, seeing these intruders from above sets loose some primal hatred that is deeper than a territorial squabble. They can kill each other later, but they can kill the adventurers now. The adventurers are cursing, the thief-girl yelling something to the wizard who is yelling something back at her. Pushing forward the hero stands before us and the monk joins his left side, both pose for battle.

  The two groups stare each other off, the trash-mob army with the fuming red dragon behind them. I roar to papa. Papa roars back with an anger I can’t put to words, it is something you could only feel in that rumble of his roar. That ancient, raging scream sets loose the charge like the ring of a battle-horn. The trash-mob army swells and swarms towards us like the inhabitants of a disturbed hive. Goblin screams and skeleton screeches fill the air, ringing past the dozen dancing, glowing forms of the dark-fairies preparing their shadow magic above. The hero turns back and shouts a command to the wizard girl. I am quite proud of myself I must say. I turned the tides of the fight. Papa is safe for now with the army turned away from him and towards the hero party. I can see the adventurer’s fight now too! I love watching them fight. Maybe I can see their secret now. Maybe I can see what their trick i-!

  Hey. Don’t do that. Hey, wait. Wait! What are you doin-? No! I roar and kick and squeal and slash and claw and bite at anything I can reach to stop her. To pry her fingers free from my body. To get her to let me go. To not do this. NO! Stop! It’s inhumane! It’s indraconian! You’re ruining everything! You’re ruining my brilliant plan! Stop! Stoooop!

  With the sound of two fabrics string drawing together sealing my fate, the world goes dark. I’m not dead. Worse. I’m inside of her bag. Like some old loot drop item tucked away for safe keeping. I crawl around the pile of stuff in here. I can’t see. Glass flasks and bottles, stones and bits of metal clink out beneath my tappy, scaly feet stepping against them as I try to rise out of the magical fabric container. Pressing my body against the opening I am unable to squeeze out through the hole. She has tied it tightly shut and hoisted me back onto her back. Only a sliver of light shines in from above.

  Together through that little gap suspended in that beam of light from above comes in the sounds of the battle just beginning. The conjugated war-cry of the trash-mob army charging together towards us. The shout of the hero readying his weapon and the adventures saying their usual battle phrases in preparation of the onslaught falling unto them. The furious, raging roar of papa now angrier than ever. All of these mix together with the annoying, scratchy sound of my claws digging aimlessly against the fabric trying to get out. To not miss this rare, golden opportunity. The dark-lord won’t forgive me. I won’t.

I feel a lurch as she jumps into battle, the bag hanging loosely behind her back swinging around sending me jostling with it.