The cold and damp grass felt like a small army of indiscriminate ants that were nibbling at his slumber. He was tremendously tired and doing his best to ignore the call of wakefulness as best he could, but between a full bladder, the blades of grass cutting the back of his body, and the dirt that was starting to stick to him as a result of laying on wet grass and restless shifting, he was finding it increasingly difficult to keep his eyes closed and his mind drifting in the dark.
He opened his eyes, easing his body upright with an abruptness that startled a small white species of bird from the trees above him. Their flapping and subsequent call of distress caused his eyes, yellow vertical slits over black sclera, to track upward along with their movement. A hunger appeared on his face before disappearing into a grimace as his gaze and the flight route of the birds caused him to look directly into the mid-morning sun.
A low hiss of vexation escaped his mouth, and the sound caused him to startle.
He tried to make the noise again and was surprised when he could. He hissed several times in a row, trying to come to terms with the foreign sound. Giving up after a moment, he decided to get up and fly down the mountain and grab something to eat. He wasn’t sure where he was, or what had happened, but hunger needed to be managed.
His stomach grumbled then. The twisting feeling was unrecognizable and he... found the sound of his own hunger unfamiliar.
That was when the true incongruity of the situation started to make itself apparent. He had looked down instinctively when his stomach made that noise. Instead of a beautiful midnight blue scaled-claw, he had a smaller clawlike appendage without his beautiful scales or sharp talons. He jerked backward away from it, almost falling when it came away with him. He waved it in front of his face and flexed the fingers, mouth agape.
Where were his claws? His talons? His huge beautiful feet? What of his hind feet? Were they gone as well?
He immediately looked down, the hair on the back of his neck(also weird) straightening in obvious alarm. Black silk came down past his shoulders and covered part of his neck from atop his head. He was staring down past his waist, relieved briefly to see he still had parts there and then lifted one of his feet to stare at it. Hopping after a moment in order to maintain his balance and get a good look at this thing.
Agh. Again, there were only weird and unsharpened stubs where once magnificent talons had grown! He almost looked like a monster. Like a human! Ugh!
That terrifying thought made his eyes grow wide in alarm. The naked and ashen skinned creature that had already been making quite a show of himself in the forest started turning rapidly in circles; hoping against hope that his suspicion that his beautiful tail was gone wasn’t so.
He turned so fast trying to see over his shoulder and behind him and with such panic that he got dizzy and immediately fell over. Fortunately, his spinning had revealed to him that there was still a tail, although not the glorious and tremendously useful tail he had been gifted with before!
He laid there on the ground, somewhat on his side because the tail made it impossible for him to lie completely on his back and stared up at the sky. His heart was thundering like a beast in a cage, and he felt so small and fragile that for a moment he feared that it would actually break free from his chest.
“I imagine you are confused.” A voice, soft and kind came from nearby. “For now, I suppose I should introduce myself as one might to a creature.”
He was on his feet in an instant, tail twitching behind him in agitation. Though he couldn’t understand the words he recognized the call of this monster. It was human language. Humans were the worst. He put up his hands in front of him, but not in a gesture of submission or surrender. His fingers hooked into pantomimed claws, and though they were smaller than what he was used to working with, he thought that the nails near the end showed a little bit of promise.
“First, I’d like to welcome you to the Evil God Candidacy Program.” If anything the voice seemed amused by his antics. “Your name is Ruth.”
An unfamiliar feeling of warmth welled up inside him from the noises the thing was making. One of the noises, in particular, made it seem quite clear that the monster was talking specifically about him.
Ruth paused, tilting his head to the side in sudden confusion. The sounds that the voice made had initially seemed to mean nothing, but as it continued to make those meaningless noises, concepts began to shape themselves in his mind.
Ruth, himself, a midnight blue dragon of great cunning.
Evil? God? Program? Meaningless.
Candicacy. Contest. Competition. Duel. Match. Fight. FIGHT.
Ruth lowered his shoulders and peeled back his lips. It occurred to him that he didn’t know if he had strong teeth or not so he ran a tongue over them, briefly disgusted to find that they seemed small and mostly flat. There were four promising canines that seemed to be sharper and more businesslike than the others, but even they didn’t protrude past his lips when they were shut.
“You have time. All you need to know is that I am Tamara, and I’ll be watching you for some time.” The voice faded on the last line as if it were receding into the trees.
Again, his mind briefly played over the noises, only picking up on a few key concepts that seemed to hammer into his conscious.
Watching. The image of a dragon looking down on prey from the sky. He was prey for this voice.
Tamara. Not Ruth. Other. Strong.
Ruth was reasonably confident that the Not Ruth was gone, but that didn’t mean he could let his tensions down. Displays of aggression needed to be made. Ruth peeled his lips back further and threw back his head, realizing for the first time that there was quite a bit of weight on the sides of his head. Regardless of this discovery, he opened his mouth and howled wildly into the forests, quite pleased with how feral and throaty his voice was. It wasn’t as beautiful as a dragon’s bellow, but it had promise.
Ruth spread his arms and dashed forward into a sprint, leaping into the air with the ease of a creature born to the sky and the expectancy of a lord who knows exactly where his place is in the world; a place in the heavens above all others.
It was about this time that Ruth realized that he hadn’t checked for wings.
He didn’t have any.
Ruth crashed back into the ground and rolled several times, making a long furrow in the soft dirt and upturning shallowly rooted grass before coming to a stop ass overhead against a tree. The tree shook lightly and several pine needles floated down and came to a rest on his naked form like the trees version of a soft pat.
A quick pat on his head with his not claws revealed that he had two curved horns on either side of his head, something he had suspected from earlier when he’d made his aggressive call. That was something at least.
After that, he didn’t bother getting up, just laid in that crumpled form and took a long moment to feel miserable and furious.
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Bio: I'm not by nature a very courageous person. If you have been around enough you might have surmised as much on your own. I started writing these gaming books because I was frustrated, and in desperate need of a way to give voice to the ideas and concepts that I hope to see in a game some day. I'm also trying to write a book about a former dragon without making him into too much of a murder hobo. I hope you enjoy them. If you don't, that's alright too. :)