[Vol. 5 pt. 15]
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The traveling party arrives at the end of the tunnel before much longer. It is every bit as inconspicuous as the tunnel’s entrance, meaning that it looks like just another rock wall – like a dead end. Of course, Eva proves that it’s not a dead end by flying right through it and beckoning for the others to follow her by poking the top half of her body back through it.

Fenrir’s mind immediately goes to the gutter.

He thought it the first time he saw her do this at the tunnel’s entrance, but now she looks really similar to the hentai that he has seen where a girl somehow gets stuck in a wall with both of her ends sticking out for anybody nearby to use however they want.

Nell asks, “My hero, does she not look like—"

“—the stuck-in-a-wall thing?” Fenrir finishes her question for her.

She nods her head with a smile. “I am glad to know that we are so in-tune with one another!”

“You know, we’re probably even more in-tune than you know. I just resist talking about every perverted thought that pops into my head.”

“Is it not much more entertaining to freely discuss our fantasies so that we know how to please one another?”

“How am I going to please you with the knowledge that you would probably like to be stuck in a wall and taken from both ends at once?”

“It is true that it might be difficult, so what if we acquired some stocks instead?”

“Stocks?”

“You are so innocent, my hero.”

“That’s actually kind of insulting, but compared to you, maybe I am.”

“By stocks, I mean the wooden sort that used to be involved in public punishments and humiliation!”

“Oh. Those.”

Nell nods and continues, “I would be fine with such play either in real life or here!”

“Wouldn’t it be kind of hard in real life? I mean, you have to stand, so wouldn’t it hurt to sort of be hanging down?”

“Hmm. That is true and something that I foolishly failed to consider. In that case, we will just have to have our fun with these bodies instead!”

“Or we could do it in real life if we got a padded bench or something for your knees to rest on. Or just put the stocks in front of the bed.”

“Oh? What is this, my hero? Are you contemplating how to go along with my fantasies?”

“You are my girlfriend. It’d only be natural for me to—”

“Bro, come on,” Rao interrupts. “These horses aren’t going to go through if we don’t pull them. Like, I’m sorry for interrupting and all that, but you two can go on forever.”

“He’s not wrong,” Cassiel says.

“It’s okay,” Serra says. “I’ll take your place.”

Serra then proceeds to push Fenrir away from sitting next to Nell so that she can sit next to her while he helps Rao with the horses.

Right before he’s out of distance to hear their whispering, Fenrir swears that he hears Serra whisper something about strap-ons.

He can only hope that she was whispering about it in the context of using it on the other girls instead of him.

There are many things that Fenrir is willing to do and try for his girlfriends.

That is not one of them.

With that worry now in the back of his mind, Fenrir helps Rao pull the horses through the passable wall. He does feel bad about freaking them out since they kick around and try to break free, obviously not wanting to go face-first into a “hard” wall, but they relax again the instant they pass through.

The horses are not the only ones to immediately change their thoughts upon passing through the wall. Even the lewdly-whispering Serra stops what she’s doing to look up at the sight.

Tall spires reach high enough above the ground for the rising sun to shine upon their tops that have been shaped into the heads of dragons. Large homes and shops share little space between them, forced to stay close together as the mountain’s terrain has given them little room for easy construction.

The first thought that comes into Fenrir’s mind is some sort of open-air, dwarven city with blue and grey colors instead of gold and brown, and with dragon statues and sculpted heads instead of dwarven ones. Also, instead of everything being short and wide, everything is tall and thin – well, more thin than what dwarves would build, probably.

“This place is awesome,” Fenrir says.

“Bro, look up there,” Rao says, pointing up to the top of one of the towers with sunlight shining on it.

“Yeah, it’s awesome.”

“The top of that place would be perfect for a bachelor’s pad. Like, seriously bro, imagine it. That tower has to be tall enough to have a stupid good view over all these mountains.”

“Yeah, but that’d be horrible for anybody who was afraid of heights.”

“Bro, imagine taking a girl back there – I mean, you can imagine taking one of your girls back there.”

“Nell would fantasize about accidentally falling off somehow.”

“You guys are into some weird things.”

“You know what I want to do? Go skydiving off of it.”

“Wanna see me do it?” Eva asks, popping her head between the two men while purposely putting herself closer to Fenrir.

“Do what?”

“Skydive off that tower.” Eva flexes her wings.

“Is – is that allowed? Nobody around is going to get mad?”

“Oh, I’ve done it before. It’ll be fine.”

With that, Eva jumps up and uses her wings to boost her higher into the air.

She reaches the top of the tower with only five flaps of her wings, proving to those watching her just how much strength she has in her wings. After landing on the tower, she stands on the very edge of it and looks down at the others who arrived here with her.

None of the actual villagers out and about care about what she’s up to.

Eva holds up three fingers to count down.

While she might be counting down with her fingers… she ends up just looking like she’s doing some sort of controversial salute to those watching her from below. They are much too far away to see that she’s sticking her fingers out.

With her final finger pulled in, Eva falls forward with her wings tucked tight against her back and her tail sticking straight out behind her – or rather, above her given that she’s diving headfirst toward the ground.

“Isn’t she going way too fast?” Fenrir asks.

“Bro, wanna bet that she explodes after crashing?” Rao asks.

“I want to have faith in her that she’s not going to crash straight into the ground, but after everything I’ve heard from her…”

“Come on. I’ll bet you… I don’t know, I’ll buy you a game online or something.”

“I mean, the new Monsters in Pockets game is coming out soon, and I haven’t played one of those since I was a kid.”

“Oh, nice, you’re gonna get it too? I was looking at the Lime version myself.”

Cyan for me. The legendary looks cooler.”

“Yeah, but other than the legendary, Lime has better exclusives.”

“That’s what trading is for.”

“Fair enough, bro.”

“Anyways, I’ll bet that she’ll survive. Somehow.”

“You’re on. No way that she can slow herself down in time. She’d be screwed even with a parachute now.”

Eva is still falling even after their whole conversation, but she’s rapidly approaching the ground.

Then, only moments before disaster, she expands her wings out as wide as they can go and uses them for one, powerful flap that completely counters her momentum.

She lands on her feet without any harm done to take her bow in front of the others.

“How are you not dead?” Rao asks.

“Because I’m great! Also, I’ve done this dozens of times before. I learned how late I can stop after the third time,” Eva explains.

“What about the first three times?”

“Ever hit a fly with a flyswatter?”

“Fair enough.”

“I’m jealous,” Fenrir says and then looks back at Nell. “How about you try that? You could fly up there, right?”

“A-ah… I think I will have to pass, my hero. How about Shogun?” Nell answers, turning the group’s attention to the winged fox.

Shogun looks up to the top of the tower, down at the ground, and then ignores them all to give Rock some more attention.

“Anyways, welcome to Dragon’s Nest!” Eva announces.

“Shouldn’t you have done that when we got here instead of showing off?” Rao asks.

“You’re just mad you lost the bet,” Fenrir says. “So, when do I get my game?”

“I’ll preorder it for you when we’re done.”

“Sweet. Then I can challenge you in it and win.”

“Nah bro. I’ve already got my dream team planned.”

“And I’ve already got my ‘Ultimate Doggo’ team planned. You’re not going to be able to win.”

“You said you haven’t even played it since you were a kid. How are you gonna beat me?”

“I looked up all the doglike monsters that’ve come out since I played it, listened to what people said were the best, and then decided that I’ll put them all on the same team.”

“Bro, there’s no way you can beat me if that’s what you’re doing. I’ve been up to date with the series for years and know the game inside and out.”

“I’ll trust in the power of my Ultimate Doggo team.”

“You do you. Just don’t be disappointed when I beat you.”

“Why would you even want to beat doggos?”

“They’re not real. Beating virtual dogs is different, plus fighting monsters against each other is the whole point of those games.”

Rock and Shogun both stare up at Rao together with lowered ears, drooping tails, and sad expressions.

“‘Beating virtual dogs is different.’ Great job,” Cassiel says before rolling her eyes and crouching down in front of the two canids to pet their heads.

Serra also helps out in comforting them by scratching their sides. “Ignore him. He’s mean,” she says.

“He-hey, I didn’t mean it like that. You two are awesome,” Rao tries telling Rock and Shogun, but they both turn their heads up at him.

“Maybe next time don’t say that virtual dogs don’t matter in front of a couple of virtual canines,” Cassiel says, glaring at Rao through the corner of her vision.

“I kind of miss being looked at that way,” Fenrir says, instantly bringing a blush to Cassiel’s face thus interrupting her annoyed glare.

“Why – why would you miss me glaring at you?” she asks her boyfriend.

“Because it’s nice. I like when you’re tsun.”

“Stop wanting me to be mean to you. Are you a masochist?”

“Only sometimes.”

“Can confirm,” Serra confirms.

As per usual, regardless of what locale the group finds itself, they end up having their usual bantering sessions even if there are tall, draconic people standing by looking at the newcomers with no idea why they are there.

“It seems as if you have brought us some interesting friends,” one of the draconic men say to Eva.

“Oh, hey, GG. Yeah, they wanted to come and talk to some dragons,” Eva explains.

The rest of the group finally pays attention to the others around them.

The man who talked to Eva, GG, easily stands taller than them all at nine feet and has wings sticking out from the backs of his arms similar to how Shogun has wings, only GG’s wings are much more leathery than Shogun’s feathery pair. The similarities end there.

His skin is covered in light, blue scales, he has a lithe figure despite his huge height and the long tail reaching out from behind him, and a couple of horns stick out backward from the back of his elongated head.

The others around are all similar to him but with some minor variations. Some have horns sticking out from their foreheads, others have two pairs of wings instead of only one, and the greatest difference comes in the color of their scales. All of their scales match their surroundings, though. Whether their scales are green similar to the mountain grass, white to match the mountain peaks’ snow, grey to match the deadly boulders covering the mountainsides, or blue to match the beautiful and clear sky, there is a unity in the color schemes of their scales that extends to their architecture and surroundings. As for Eva’s statement about them being like flying, dragon samurai, the only thing that looks even slightly samurai about them are their clothes, armor, and the weapons at their sides.

“It is a pleasure to meet you,” GG says. “If the curious Eva has brought you to us then I am sure you are worth associating with.”

“We definitely hope to be worth it,” Fenrir says. “I’m Fenrir, leader of The Soaring Wolves. These are Serra, Cassiel, Nell, Rao, and Azalabulia.”

GG bows to each group member upon Fenrir introducing them.

“You may call me GG,” GG says.

“Good Game?” Fenrir asks.

“No. Grand Gay,” GG answers.

Fenrir makes a very conflicted expression as he has no idea how to react.

Fortunately for him, GG clears things up and says, “I am only joking. There is no grander meaning behind my name, I assure you. So, do tell me. What is it that has brought you here? Surely you would not have come here if you did not have a reason for it other than wishing to talk to dragons.”

Fenrir has to admit that, as much as they were talking about these dragons being scalies back in the tunnel, he would never call any of these dragons that. They simply look like cool, badass, bipedal dragons that stand like humans. He doesn’t even know if he would call them anthropomorphized or not. Perhaps in the most technical definition, he could call them anthropomorphized or scalies, but he would never call them that in the modern context of what sort of appearances those words usually reference.

In other words, he refuses to call them scalies or anthros because he thinks they look cool.

Now, if they looked lame or cheesy, he wouldn’t mind switching to mentally referring to them as scalies or anthros.

“Want to share some more pleasantries and get to know each other first, or would you rather me jump right into it?” Fenrir asks.

“The latter, please,” GG answers. “While we would normally treat visitors to a meal and friendly conversation, we have our own matters that we are in the midst of taking care of.”

“Sounds like something’s wrong.”

GG’s expression confirms Fenrir’s suspicion.

“Did something happen?” Fenrir asks.

“Ah, well, you see – no, it would not be right to share our issues with visitors,” GG answers.

“What if we can help?”

“I am not sure you would be able to given that we are already struggling ourselves.”

Fenrir and the rest of the group look around to see if they can find anything wrong, but there is nothing that they can notice.

Eva is looking around, too.

“Something happen since I was here last?” Eva asks.

GG looks away.

“You can trust them. Probably. They’re nice and were able to help me out,” Eva explains.

“Is that so?” GG asks.

“Yep.”

“I see. Well… perhaps more minds helping us think of a solution would be beneficial.”

“What’s wrong?” Fenrir asks.

GG sighs before explaining, “You see… our favorite fishing spot has been taken over.”

“I’m in.”

“I know that it sounds silly, but – wait, what did you say?”

“I’m in.”

“You are in? As in you wish to help us without knowing all the details?”

“You said your favorite fishing spot has been taken over. You guys are cool dragons, you seem friendly and trustworthy enough, and you like fishing. Anybody who likes fishing is worth helping.”

Unless they’re in rowboats when a certain juvenile serpent comes around. In those cases, they’re on their own.

“You have brought rather entertaining visitors,” GG tells Eva.

“Yep, and I’ll help however I can, too. You guys have done so much for me lately that it would only be fair,” Eva says.

“Thank you. Both of you.”

“No problem,” Fenrir replies. “So, what’s taken over your fishing spot? Where is it?”

“It is deep within the mountains at the bottom of a vast pit. There lies a subterranean lake that we believe leads to the ocean’s depths. Since discovering the lake, fishing there has become our favorite pastime activity. But… two days ago, horrifying monsters came out from the lake’s depths and ambushed several of our villagers who were fishing and unaware at the time.”

Fenrir has already started putting the pieces together. “And what did they look like? The monsters?”

“Some have the heads of fish, others have tentacles for arms that may be covered in eyes, some simply look like shambling masses of scales, flesh, and bones… they are truly Heartcraftian creatures.”

“And you only encountered them for the first time two days ago?”

“Correct.”

“Well, shit. Seems like I was right then.”

“You were right?”

“We’ve got ourselves a common enemy. The reason why we’re here is actually because I thought it would be smart to ask dragons for help in defending against monsters from the bottom of the ocean. We know there’s an army down there, and I’ve seen them, and they look exactly like what you just described. So, between knowing that they’re messing with your fishing and that they’re why we’re here in the first place, we’ll do everything that we can to help you out.”

“Please keep in mind that I cannot promise you any sort of compensation nor debt for your assistance if you choose to help us. We are very communal here and require a majority vote for all important matters.”

“Don’t worry about it. I’d help you out just because I want some fellow fishermen to be able to fish in peace. Well, just not on rowboats.”

“Is there something wrong with fishing from rowboats?”

“It’s uh… anyways, I think we’re all ready to help out right now. Right?” Fenrir asks, looking back at the group.

The only one of them who doesn’t look ready is Serra.

Serra being Serra, she has been staying close behind Rock and Shogun ever since she noticed GG and the other draconic people around them. Now, she’s being asked if she’s ready to fight when she doesn’t even have a weapon and only did a little bit of training with Fenrir.

Fenrir says, “You can stay with the horses if you want to, Ser—”

“No,” Serra cuts him off. “I want to… fight, too.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah. I want to help.”

“Perfect. The more the merrier, right?” he asks, placing a hand down on top of Serra’s head over her oversized hat to pat her. “We’ll just need to get you a weapon first.”

“I would be glad to assist you in that regard for helping us,” GG says.

“I thought you had to vote on it?”

“We do not have to vote on what I choose to do with my own belongings. Is there any weapon that you prefer?” GG asks Serra.

Serra shakes her head but then pauses, looks up at him, and says, “I like… cannons.”

“Cannons?”

“Yeah.”

“Hmm. Well, there is a cannon that we have had no use for. Or rather, it is less of a cannon and more of a gatling gun.”

“Oh, the one Trismy gave you guys?” Eva asks.

“The very same. Only, I am not sure how we would prepare it to be of use. It would not be useful at the top of the pit nor is there any good, solid ground to place it at the bottom. Your space would be limited and fought over. Furthermore, without quick reactions and precise aim, you would be quickly overwhelmed by their numbers.”

“Wait, you guys have a gatling gun?” Fenrir asks.

“Well, that is what the wise Trismegistus would have us call it.”

“And it’s allowed to exist? It didn’t get broken or anything?”

“No. It has been allowed to stay given its unique conditions.”

“Now I’m curious. Serra?” Fenrir asks, turning his attention to her. “Think you could kill a bunch of oversized fish monsters with a fantasy-appropriate gatling gun?”

Serra looked unsure before but now she looks excited. “Yeah,” she answers.

“Then there we have it. We’re just going to have to clear some space out down there for you to get set up and then we’ll be good to go. You won’t have to worry about getting overwhelmed as long as I’m there to back you up.”

“Hey, don’t take all the credit,” Cassiel says. “I’ll protect you, too,” she tells Serra.

“Thanks, Cass Cass,” Serra replies.

“So, with Serra on the gatling gun, me, Cass Cass, and Rock protecting her, Shogun, Nell, and Aza working as our damage dealers, and Rao… Rao… hey, what can you do again?” Fenrir asks.

Rao shrugs and answers, “I don’t know. Just give me a spear or something.”

“You sound like such a confident fighter.”

“I’ll try, bro.”

“Good enough. Eva, what about you?”

“DPS all the way. I can be my own tank, damage dealer, and healer if I need to be, so all I need is to know where to fight and I’m set all on my own,” Eva answers.

“Without any armor or anything?”

To answer his question, Eva activates one of her abilities that causes sharp, black scales to rapidly grow all over her body giving her a perfect coat of natural armor.

“Good enough. Are there any more dragons fighting down there already? Or anybody planning on it?” Fenrir asks GG.

“Yes. In fact, we are already preparing to send another force down there. There are only thirty of us who can safely fight without fear of losing all our progress, but we refuse to sit by and do nothing as they scare away all of the fish – ahem, I mean, as they defile our fishing grounds.”

“Alright. So, we’ve got our whole group and thirty of you guys. When are you going to be heading down next?”

“In an hour from now. We are currently busy preparing equipment, potions, and trying to come up with a plan that does not rely solely on brute strength for victory.”

“What about caving in part of the underwater tunnel? If you believe it goes out to the ocean, which it has to in this case, then we could try to collapse part of it. We could make it so that there is too much rubble for the monsters to get through, and I think that any fish would still be able to get through the small gaps in the rocks unless you only get huge fish coming through the tunnel.”

“How would you expect us to cave in a section of the tunnel without spending costly time mining it?”

Everybody other than GG looks at Azalabulia.

“Is – is it time for explosions?” Azalabulia asks.

“It’s time for explosions,” Fenrir answers.

Azalabulia takes a deep breath, looks down at the ground, and reaches into her pocket. She then takes her hat off so that she can slip something around her head before putting the hat back on.

As for what that item is… they discover what it is when she looks up.

An eyepatch.

“With this, no foul creature could possibly resist any of my attacks! There is no chance for them! I, Dark Sorceress of Twisted Flames, the Breaker of Reality, and the One Who will Set the World Ablaze, the Wielder of the Cursed Flame of Bahamut, Azalabulia, shall accept your request and deliver unto you an explosion far greater than anything you have ever seen before! Naught will be left aside from ruin!” Azalabulia declares, getting fully into it.

“How long have you had an eyepatch for?” Fenrir asks.

“A-ah… I’ve always had it but I only use it when I get really excited. I – I mean, I only use it in order to contain the explosive power stored within me! My dark emotions would flow loose like a raging hurricane were it not for me covering my left eye! All of these mountains would be reduced to sand if I were to unleash the powers within both of mine eyes!”

“Woah, so this is what she’s like when she’s actually playing,” Eva says.

“You get used to it. I think it’s endearing,” Fenrir responds.

“Hah!” GG laughs. “Wonderful! If that is how it shall be then that is how it must be! I have heard you, Dark Sorceress of Twisted Flames, the Breaker of Reality, and the One Who will Set the World Ablaze, the Wielder of the Cursed Flame of Bahamut, Azalabulia! I would be honored to fight beside you in the name of Bahamut!”

Azalabulia lights up and almost looks like she’s about to cry with her uncovered eye. “Exactly! Together, fighting alongside dragons similar to that of Bahamut itself, there will not be any who can resist us! They will taste your claws and my ruinous spells!”

“Wonderful! Absolutely wonderful! Come, oh dark and powerful Azalabulia, and meet the rest of our forces who would be honored to meet you!”

Together, GG and Azalabulia walk off sharing maniacal laughter.

“What?” Fenrir asks.

“I forgot to tell you that everybody here loves roleplaying,” Eva explains. “My bad.”

“I mean… I just really wasn’t expecting that. He seemed so proper and normal, but then it was like Aza flipped a switch in his head or something.”

“Well, yeah, they try to stay normal around visitors. Once they leave, that’s when all of the flying-samurai-dragon roleplay stuff really starts. I may or may not have spied – observed them a few times after they thought I left and they always just… acted like a bunch of random flying-dragon-samurai going about their daily lives. Sometimes they’d train, other times they’d have tea breaks in the shade, stretched together – they’re a seriously tightknit community here. For them to actually roleplay around visitors… they have to really like that girl.”

“But they’re samurai. Shouldn’t they be honorable and against working with somebody who tries to act and sound as evil and corrupt as Aza?”

“You have to give and take when it comes to roleplay, you know? They probably realize that it would be more fun to just play along with her instead of try to fight against her, especially when she’s going to help them with their problem.”

“Yeah, that makes sense. But still.”

Fenrir looks at where GG and Azalabulia have gone.

The two of them are standing in the center of the village with the rest of the dragons gathered around them, and they are all cheering and shouting all sorts of odd things whenever they’re not laughing.

“I don’t know if it’s good for anybody to let Azalabulia loose in such an environment,” Fenrir says. “She might get really encouraged.”

“What’s the worst that she could do?” Eva asks.

A lot. She might seem shy most of the time, but she’s crazy powerful. She’s easily the most powerful one out of all of us. She really likes her dragon magic and explosions.”

“At least she’s making friends,” Cassiel says.

“Now they’re just going to have to hope that they can survive her. Anyways, I guess we should go over there and see what they’re talking about if we’re strategizing.”

With that, the group heads over to where Azalabulia and GG have gone to, but two of them fall behind when Serra grabs the back of Fenrir’s shirt.

“What’s up?” he asks her.

“I know I said I could do it before, but… are you sure?” she asks him.

“Sure about what? You being a badass with big guns and being able to kill a bunch of monsters while some of us protect you?”

“Yeah.”

“Then yes, I am absolutely, one hundred percent, without a shadow of a doubt in my mind, sure. If there is anybody I trust to handle big weapons, it’s you.”

“I’ll handle your big weapon.”

“I trust you to handle that one, too.”

Serra snerks and then wraps her arms around him. “Thanks.”

“Anytime, Serra Berra. We’ll make sure to protect you so that you can have a ton of fun with the gun.”

“That rhymed.”

“Huh, it did. I wish I could purposely rhyme.”

Instead of say anything back to Fenrir that would be relevant to their conversation, she lowers herself against him so that her chest presses up against his crotch.

“What do you think you’re doing?” Fenrir asks.

“Teasing you,” Serra answers.

“You know, we’re going to be fighting soon. It’s cruel to tease me before something like that.”

“I know. You said you’re a masochist sometimes. Make this one of those times.”

“I might as well so that I can enjoy it better.”

Serra giggles and presses her face against his abdomen. “Hey.”

“Yeah?”

“I love you.”

“I love you too, Serra.”

“I love you more.”

“I love you more.”

“I love your dick more.”

“Alright, that you do love more, but I love your body more.”

“Deal.”

While Fenrir and Serra share in their own little romantic and lewd moment, a certain somebody listens in on them with her enhanced hearing while trying not to make it too obvious.

Eva.

So far, what she has gathered is that Fenrir can be a loving and caring boyfriend who also knows how to easily talk with others, takes the lead when it’s important, offers help at the drop of the hat even for people he’s only just met, and is accepting of all of his girlfriends and their various personalities. Whether it is Cassiel’s not-so-tsundere-ness, Nell’s erotic and exotic fantasies, Azalabulia’s extreme roleplaying, or Serra’s lewd perversion, he expertly handles each and every one of them with the care that only a thoughtful boyfriend could give them.

But there’s no way that’s all there is to it.

He has a harem! He has four girlfriends who are not only super attractive, at least in game, but who seem to all genuinely love him!

Is he so rich in real life that he could buy genuine love?

Is he so famous that literally any woman in the world with a functioning mind would throw herself at him?

What if he’s some sort of sex god?

Mind control? The drug dealer of an illegal drug that they’re dependent on? Are they all actually sisters and he’s their father who has groomed them into loving him unconditionally including in perverse ways?

Eva does not know, but she desperately wants to know.

This requires further investigation.

7