Victor had no idea what he had gotten himself into.
For the first time in his life, he flew outside the confines of a plane. Namely, the dragon carried him in palm—because his back was too good for Victor—as he flew north of the mountain, towards the Valbin village where he took that damn request. Victor hated the experience; not only did he take the icy wind head on in the face, the dragon held him tight and could crush him any moment.
Victor had had terrible luck streak lately, and no amount of Luck stat increase changed it. Dying on Earth to end up in this fantasy world, falling in with brigands to make ends’ meets, narrowingly avoiding death half a dozen times, and then getting caught by a giant dragon on his very first adventurer quest.
This world sucked!
“Your Majesty!” Victor shouted, as the duo left the snowy mountain to the grasslands, the sight of the village coming to life under the morning sun. “I should go alone! The guard will sound the alarm at your coming!”
The dragon would have none of it. “Minion, a king sometimes must show his face to his subjects, so they may remember who rules them. Also, I do not trust you yet not to have lied to me, especially about this ‘class system’.”
In hindsight, Victor wondered if informing a giant red dragon about it had been his brightest idea.
How could he have known? Every civilized person on this goddamn planet knew about it! They even had Class Scholars!
As expected, as they reached the village’s wooden ramparts, Victor heard the song of bells, the city watch sounding the alarm upon seeing the dragon. Not that it would help. Victor had heard a single dragon could devastate a country single-handedly, and Vainqueur seemed huge even by reptilian standards.
A few archers and wizards on the ground launched arrows and lightning bolts at the legendary beast; they bounced off Vainqueur’s scales, who hadn’t even noticed. “Minion, where is this guildhall?” the dragon demanded, as he circled the village, the inhabitants closing their windows at the sight of his dreaded shadow.
“The stone building with the bells, between the bell tower and the marketplace, Your Majesty.”
Finding his target, the dragon landed on his last two legs in the middle of the marketplace, the flapping of his wings and his sheer mass blowing away most stands. Panic set among humans, beastkin, and elf merchants, as they hurriedly fled screaming, most of them not even grabbing their wares with them.
Vainqueur briefly glanced at the animal-like beastkins with what looked like hunger in his eyes, before focusing on the guildhall and its human-sized, closed doors. Without a care in the world, the dragon headbutted the entrance, smashing down the walls and most of the ceiling, so he could move inside.
Victor found himself in front of two dozen adventurers armed to the teeth, forming a wall between the dragon and Charlene, the pretty, plump receptionist Victor had hoped to take out on a date after his first quest. The mission board which caused this whole fiasco stood behind her back, Victor immediately noticing that damn request among them.
A powerfully built spearman led the adventurers, swinging his spear like a show-off. “My fellows!” he shouted, his white teeth shining as he flashed a smile, “Are you afraid of a flying lizard? Well, I am not! I am not afraid of an oversized drake, and I will prove it this second!”
That asshole braggart, Alain… Victor couldn’t stand him, but that smug bastard was the highest level adventurer in town at twenty-five. He had killed a lot of drakes, even a giant. Maybe he had a shot at killing the dragon.
With a mighty roar, Alain charged with his spear, his sheer moxie inspiring the rest of the adventurers to follow suit.
With a gaze full of condescension, Vainqueur lazily moved his free hand in front of the incoming spearman, and flicked his fingers.
Alain went flying and crashed against a stone wall with a loud, morbidly amusing sound. He turned into a puddle of blood, brains and bones on impact, like a squashed mosquito.
… they were all doomed.
The adventurers immediately screamed as one. They dropped their weapons and fled by crashing through the windows and the staff backdoor, much to Vainqueur’s smug amusement. Only poor Charlene stood behind her desk, too shocked to move, her poor colleagues probably hiding beneath it.
Finally, the dragon released Victor, letting him walk again. “Minion Victor, do the thing,” the dragon ordered, Charlene briefly blinking at hearing him speak in common.
The poor rogue briefly glanced at the broken windows, realized they were too far off to escape, and cleared his throat. “Charlene,” the terrified receptionist’s eyes moved from the dragon to him, “I present you King Vainqueur the First of his Name, my new boss. Long may he live.”
Her eyes widened in stark, raving terror. “Vainqueur? Vainqueur Knightsbane?! The Red Terror of Midgard?!” She clenched her fists in a mix of horror and fury, while Vainqueur looked proud that people remembered him. “You brought an ancient red dragon to our village! Are you insane?!”
“Yes, yes, of course I had a choice in the matter,” Victor deadpanned, pointing at the giant behemoth right behind him.
“Minion Victor, who is this female manling and why do we need her?”
“She’s the chief of staff and receptionist of this guildhall, Your Majesty,” Victor explained, making discreet signs to Charlene to play along. “Charlene, please tell the giant angry dragon what you do.”
The woman glanced up at the dragon, then wisely decided to play along. She dusted her robes, then adopted the same professional look she used with every would be adventurer, albeit while still noticeably trembling in fear. “I manage the paperwork and requests on behalf of the Gardemagne Adventurer Guild. I receive requests from clients and distribute them, and the rewards to adventurers and mercenaries willing to take them on.”
“Minion Victor, ask manling Charlene to find and read the request that led you to my domain out loud.”
Of course, the dragon couldn’t read the language, even if he could speak it. Even Victor had taken a few months of intense study to learn it. “Your Majesty does not talk to other humans?” Victor asked the giant beast, curious.
“No, talking to animals is what a minion is for,” Vainqueur replied. “Minion Victor, ask manling Charlene to read your request out loud.”
“Charlene, would you kindly…” The secretary had already grabbed one of the paper sheet on the board behind her, clearly in no hurry to test the dragon’s patience.
The woman cleared her throat. “Louise, Marquise de Carabas, offers a generous one thousand gold pieces reward for the return of her family’s prized Silver Rapier, last reported in the hands of goblins in the Albain mountains. There is a drawing of the sword with it.”
Since most goblins had fled the mountains years ago, Victor thought it would be easy money. That, and bringing the rapier back would give him the opportunity to scout the Carabas estate in case something caught his fancy.
Pity the locals had forgotten to mention the dragon’s presence.
“It appears you spoke the truth, minion Victor. You shall be spared. You too, manling Charlene, if you tell where I may visit this Marquise and eat her cattle.”
“Charlene, where is—”
“I heard,” the angry receptionist cut him off. “Victor, give me your map.”
The rogue hurriedly grabbed the old sheet of paper he kept around his belt, Charlene taking it from his hands, grabbing a feather pen, and marking a spot in the south-east of the Gardemagne countryside.
Vainqueur squinted, as he observed the board where Charlene took Louise de Carabas’ request. “Minion, explain to me how it works.”
“People, mostly nobles, merchants, or groups of peasants, send requests to the adventurer guild alongside promised rewards,” Victor explained, “With the end of the Century War two years ago, many of them involve dealing with roving monsters or brigands.”
“There were many lucrative requests and bounties to take Your Majesty down, decades ago,” Charlene said. “Until you were declared dead.”
“Oh? And all this time I thought your kind had a collective deathwish. Like sending your sick and your wounded to die honorably at my—” Vainqueur suddenly stopped mid sentence, as the words hit him. “Declared dead?”
Charlene winced as the dragon glared at her. “A-a group of Barinian adventurers brought back a red dragon skull twenty years ago after Barsino’s march through the mountains, declaring it belonged to Vainqueur… and since no red dragon showed up for years afterward…”
“This, this is an indignity!” The news had infuriated the beast almost as much as Victor’s attempted robbery, smoke steaming from his nostrils. “Minion, order manling Charlene to inform your primitive, credulous species that I, Vainqueur Knightsbane, am not dead!”
“I am sure the news will travel fast after Your Majesty’s mighty show of force,” Victor deadpanned, the dragon thankfully too incensed to notice the sarcasm.
“They better do!” Vainqueur calmed himself, his eyes fixed on the board. “What kind of requests does this manling get?”
“Charlene, can you read a few quests for His Majesty’s benefit?”
A bit more confident due to being in her element, Charlene grabbed a paper sheet and read it out loud. “A clan of trolls calling themselves the Branded Barks has sacked the lands of the Count of Provencal and currently hide in the Woods of Gevaudan, east of his domain. The Count offers a great reward for the extermination of this vermin.”
“You get ‘experience’ and ‘levels’ for this deed?” Vainqueur asked, before clarifying his true intention. “I could get levels?”
“You know about levels?” Charlene blinked, without waiting for Victor’s ‘animal translation.’
“His Majesty Vainqueur apparently leveled up in the Noble class,” Victor told her. Fitting for a large, belliful parasite living off the gold he ‘taxed’ from people weaker than him.
“A dragon can level up in a class?” Whatever colors left on Charlene’s face suddenly drained, as she realized the implications. “Oh, by the twelve gods, dragons can get class levels.”
“Yes, my minion recently informed me of the existence of this class system.” If glares could kill, Charlene would have murdered Victor twice over. “How much do you manlings get paid for this request?”
“Six thousand gold coins.”
“Six thousand gold coins, to eat trolls?”
“This is considered a difficult quest, Your Majesty,” Victor said. These were war trolls, brought by Prydain during the great war, crafty and strong.
“Trolls? You are afraid of trolls?” The dragon’s bellowing hiss of a laugh made the walls tremble. “You manlings are so weak!”
“Yes, Your Majesty,” Victor deadpanned, angered by his patronizing. “Maybe you should consider a career as an adventurer and show us the ropes? I’m sure you would do great.”
He said this as a joke, but much to his horror, the dragon seemed to consider his words seriously. “Six thousand coins for a feast of trolls…” he mumbled. “Is this the most well-paid request available?”
“No, Your Majesty,” Victor replied. “I think it was the kraken hunting bounty, right?”
Charlene nodded abruptly. “Killing the Kraken of Massaline is worth the equivalent of sixty-four thousand gold coins in emeralds.”
The fires of greed lit up in the dragon’s eyes. “Sixty-four thousand? That is almost as much as my entire—” He stopped himself, probably realizing that he had already said too much.
As much as my entire hoard, Victor guessed. Perhaps more. The rogue estimated quite a few of the items the dragon had collected had lost their luster over time.
Victor could almost see the gears turning in the dragon’s head, and the exact train of thought his mind followed. And it terrified him.
Oh no. Oh please no.
“Minion Victor, I intended to burn this village to the ground for you manlings’ crimes against my royal person,” Vainqueur declared. “But I suddenly realize my usual method of building my hoard may be slightly outdated. All of this wealth sleeping without a good dragon to claim them is a sin, and if this Old Money perk does not lie...”
Oh by the gods, please no...
“I, Vainqueur the Dragon, will gladly answer requests and solve your inferior species’ problems for your coins!”
Charlene, too, wondered if the dragon was serious. When it became that yes, he was, she didn’t know what to do. “Your Majesty, Vainqueur, I am not sure a dragon can become an adventurer.”
“Of course, I am overqualified,” Vainqueur declared proudly.
“Your Majesty, this is not—”
“I am a dragon. I am, now, an adventurer. And you are starting to sound like food. Minion, is manling Charlene food?”
“Charlene, are you dragon food?”
Charlene, understanding the implied threat, searched under the desk for a huge pile of paperwork, putting it on the desk. “I will register you two as a new adventurer company. We will need both your signatures, and the paperwork done.”
Vainqueur glanced at the pile of paper, then at Victor, who saw what came next coming from a mile away. “Minion Victor.”
“Yes, Your Majesty?”
“I officially promote you to my minion chief of staff and living signature. You shall be responsible for managing this ‘paperwork’ thing on my behalf. This is a great and important responsibility, but you will do fine.”
Victor guessed he wouldn’t be paid for it, but wisely kept that for himself.
Congratulations! By becoming the chief enforcer of a mighty dragon, you gained a level in the |Monster Squire] Class!
Victor blinked at the notification. Monster Squire? He had never heard of that class.
+30 HP, +10 SP, +1 STR, +1 VIT, +1 SKI, +1 AGI, +1 INT, +1 CHA, +1 LCK!
You gained the [Monster Kin] Class Perk!
[Monster Kin: you can now talk to and understand any monster, and gain a +20 charisma bonus when interacting with them!]
Wow, he never received such a massive stat boost before. That Class must have had incredible growth potential.
Victor glanced at the name Charlene registered the adventurer company as, and froze.
“Is this a prank?” he asked out loud.
Charlene glared at him, then at the dragon, then at the destroyed ceiling, then back at him.
Okay, maybe he deserved it. He supposed that also meant she wouldn’t go out for a drink with him. Bugger.
“What is it, minion Victor?”
“Nothing, Your Majesty,” Victor sighed as he completed and signed the documents on both his and the dragon’s behalf, “Nothing.”
“I would wish for you to go to hell, Victor,” the receptionist said. “But I think you’re already there.”
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Bio: I'm a European warlock living in the distant realm known as France, spending half my time writing and the other half managing magical websites. I post Magik Online on my main website and RR both on Wednesday, and Vainqueur the Dragon twice to thrice weekly.