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“...the horse was delicious. I thought I had chosen the runt of the two pulling the carriage but it turns out that the meat was just... “

“...the number of times that a human came into my lair and woke me up to show me this long picture of his ancestors? Ancestors? I guess they were! I never thought about it until now. Anyway, of his ancestors killing creatures…”

“...it is somewhat surprising to me now. If, and Sikes this is important -- if I held dominion over the whole world and I was the only dragon in that world, where were the other dragons? Was I the last of my kind? Maybe…”

“Don’t get me started on how painful this story is for me. Thinking it is painful. Saying it out loud with these inadequate jaws and with these pathetic fangs?”

“...of course, your pronunciation is almost a relief. Every word from your mouth is a constant reminder that my pronunciation is worlds apart better in every way. As long as I don’t come across another dragon I don’t think I’ll be embarrassed to speak.”

“About the clothes? I’m concerned. I haven’t passed waste in some time. I think… I’m not sure how it would work since I don’t think the clothes are connected to me in … that way… but… do you think… Do Planar Tieflings pass waste? It was quite the ordeal when I was a dragon. I had to leave the lair and find a suitable deposit location. It wasn’t the smell so much as the size.”

“My poor beetles. They’ve probably already been carried off by some large bird of prey. Or the Wyvern. That damned Wyvern! When I get my hands on…”

“I would tell you that the immortal and deadly text box is right in front of you but I don’t think you can see it so what would be the point? Can you see it? No, I thought not. It’s giving off light and it’s just repeating the words ‘Lord Rush’ over and over again. I think it’s been broken for some time. Something in its mind must have given. No real surprise given what it has witnessed in the past few days.”

“...the hatted creatures were…”

“...don’t get me started on the Goblin Kings,”

“...I’m not sure exactly how the Cow had found me. I just remember everything going dark when I was in the river and getting ready to get a fish…”

“...then house ate the cow…”

“...then the spiders ate the shed…”

↢↦

Sikes thought himself an academic by nature. As an academic, he had been forced to sit through dissertations on the mundanities of mundanes. He once prided himself on sitting through a five hour lecture concerning the propensity for the spread of glowing moss over different topographical environments without batting an eyelash or needing a break. Really, the reason for not needing a break was that he had gone into some sort of life-saving torpor until it was over.

None of his worldly experience had quite prepared him for Ruth.

The problem wasn’t that it was a boring story. The problem was that it was just interesting enough to keep his attention but droned on and on and on.

“Ruth!” Sikes couldn’t take it any longer and finally interrupted the Tiefling.

Ruth stopped in surprise with his hands held out in big fish story fashion. He was trying to explain how big Cannibal Pixies were to Sikes. “Yes?”

“I’m sorry, my friend, but I am hungry. I have been in here for days due in large part to the reprehensible and vile villains that populate the garden.” He hasted to add before the Tiefling could continue his story, “the very same villains who have been attacking your own personage these few days? Might you let me out, or at the very least, provide me with some form of sustenance?”

Ruth nodded slightly and tilted his head in thought.

Sikes almost fell down in relief. Now that he knew, well, almost everything about Ruth he knew how to tailor his responses and requests now.

“There is no more bear, Lord Rush ate it all,” Ruth said slowly.

“What of your provisions for your journey?” Sikes asked with a sinking feeling. Everything he had heard, and the fact that he didn’t see a backpack, seemed to suggest that planning ahead wasn’t Ruth’s strongpoint.

“I will find something later, or, if we travel together and rations become scarce Lord Rush and I will eat you.” Ruth said after some thought.

“Ah!” Sikes tried to not dwell on the negative here. Ruth was implying that he was going to let him out, and that was a win. “Perhaps then, oh great dragon, I might suggest something you have already thought of but discarded as too unnecessary?”

“Go on,” Ruth looked pleased with being referred to as a dragon.

Sikes gritted his teeth and forced a smile. Fairly confident that something as self-centered as Ruth couldn’t read facial expressions but not willing to take the chance. “Perhaps, if you are willing to take a short reprieve after you let me out I can go back upward and get some food for us to take along. Surely in your wisdom, you already thought of this but gave it up because it was too, well, easy.”

Ruth nodded. That did sound like him.

“Furthermore, I’ll carry the provisions so you don’t have to? I can see why an esteemed personage such as yourself wouldn’t bother, but if I am to serve you I might as well do so while carrying something to ease the burden,” Sikes pushed down any remaining pride he had. He wanted out of this cell. He wanted to eat.

Sikes was about to go on in exacting detail about how useful his every day caginess would be to Ruth when Lord Rush opened both eyes and stood up on Ruth’s head. The small lizard arched his back and stretched. Sikes was left with his mouth hanging open as he got his first good look at the creature. Banged up scales, swollen eye, little fellow looked like he had really been put through the wringer.

Before he could make a comment expressing his sympathy for the bedraggled appearance of Ruth’s companion, Lord Rush took a step off of Ruth’s head and… found a foot-hold in the air. Then another.

Sikes felt his mouth hanging open and his eyes widen in terror as the small lizard walked through the air toward him, disappearing briefly in front of the bars and then re-appearing within the cell.

Lord Rush stopped in front of Sikes and tilted his head to look him right in the eye. A golden vertical slit narrowed slightly before Lord Rush turned his face and opened his mouth so that Sikes could see an impossible number of small and very sharp teeth hidden within the creature's head.

Sikes felt himself becoming faint.

Submit. Vassal.

A great number of thoughts exploded into his mind. With his life on the line, the great number was gradually whittled down into only one thought with alarming speed.

Submission.

“Y-yes, my Lord Rush.”

Lord Rush closed his mouth and looked at him with satisfaction. He gently tiptoed through the air like he was walking up a circular staircase. When he was high enough he gently padded over to the top of Sikes's head.

Sikes felt tiny and very sharp claws testing his scalp before relaxing. A serpentine tail hung itself loosely around his neck, the small heart-shaped organ near the tip making a small tinkling noise.

It appeared that Lord Rush had woken up and heard the part about carrying things and had decided to personally enlist Sikes for the honor of that duty.

Sikes looked at Ruth. Ruth looked at Lord Rush and then at Sikes. Ruth shrugged at him.

Ruth finally smiled and stood up. “Step away from the door.”

Sikes struggled to his feet and moved to the side, unsure of what he was doing at this point.

Ruth stood in front of the door for a moment and then something happened.

Sikes couldn’t explain what that something was. For a moment, and a moment only, there had been a look of quiet contemplation on Ruth’s face. Then the metal cell door had groaned as if it were being pressured from some unseen force. A moment later it had ripped itself from the hinges and bolts securing it and smashed into the back of the room. Had Sikes been standing in front of the door it would have likely smashed him to a pulp against the wall.

Sikes quietly returned his attention to Ruth.

This is a soul shape on my head. This is a mage, at the least, standing in front of me. All my schemes unravel in the face of power.

A hopeless feeling started to well up in him as Ruth smiled at him through the doorway. Sikes stared back at him with a blank and dull expression.

Finally, Ruth made a gesture toward the hole in the cell. “Well? Go find something to eat and come back with these provisions you mentioned. I’ll wait here. Don’t worry, Lord Rush will protect you while you are up there.”

The worst part, Sikes knew, was that Ruth wasn’t sending Lord Rush to keep an eye on him or to make sure he didn’t escape. It was completely unintentional. That was the worst part.

IDT Status

 

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About the author

Fool

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. :)

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