Side Story: An Observant Pet
Editor(s): Speedphoenix, Joker
My master is nothing if not bizarre. I entertained a thought as I watched the Lord I served bury his face in my fur.
“You’re so fluffy, Rir. Your fur always feels amazing,” he said. “Wait, are you grooming yourself before you show up because you know I always do this?” He lifted his head and instead began running his fingers along the length of my coat. “Now that’s just cute.”
I knew what my purpose was. It had been carved into my mind the moment I was born. I was a weapon, one created to chase down trespassers and cull them with my fangs. To spearhead assaults against any my master defined as his enemies. I was to live by my duty. And one day die for it.
“Yup! Rir’s super cute!” The one my master thought of as his sister, the humanoid cub I’d known since my birth, stroked my head as she spoke words heavily influenced by his. She too was one I knew not to defy. I had always recognized her as a sort of secondary master, another lord to whom I was sworn.
The two showed no signs of stopping. It was up to me to steer them back on track. I barked once to ask my master about the day’s business.
“Business? Oh, I didn’t call you for business,” he said. “Unless you count play as business.”
I was stunned into silence. I had been expecting orders, but my master had brazenly declared that there was no work to be had. Sometimes, I can’t help but wonder if my master truly understands my purpose.
Although I appreciated the affection, it was so far divorced from my duty that it left me perplexed.
“Hey, look! It’s Rir!”
A second group began to approach as my masters pet me all over. It came from the castle, and was composed of three individuals. The first was another cub, a slime I’d never seen without a smile. The second appeared to be of a similar age. But unlike the other cubs, her expression was one to remain static. In truth, she was completely unlike the other younglings. She was far more powerful, for her true identity was that of my master’s blade. The final member of the group was an adult, a dragon who stood far above any other.
As I looked upon the many faces that approached, I recalled a realization I had come to. A large number of different individuals—and species—had gathered around my master. And that he and I were the same.
I had never sought companions. And yet, I had become the leader of a veritable legion of monsters. My master had even thrown four of his own into the mix, four that, like me, were weapons who served no other purpose but to guard his domain. I had many duties. Too many duties. There was so much work to be done that I couldn’t help but feel stressed.
Yet, my master was not. He showed no signs of exhaustion despite his workload being just as heavy, if not heavier than my own. I was unsure if he was so capable that he could handle it all with ease, or if he simply didn’t feel the need to care. My observations seem to indicate that it is more likely the latter than the former. But no good will come of doubting my master. I’d best forget I’d ever even considered the possibility.
“Oh, look, you’re finally all here. And it seems we’ve even got someone I wasn’t expecting along for the ride too.”
“Indeed. The children asked me to join them, and I found myself incapable of turning down their request.”
“Yeah, I can see that.”
My master laughed as he turned to address the children.
“Well, girls? What’d you want to play today?”
“I wanna ride Rir!” said the vampire.
“Me too!” said the slime.
“Me three. Riding him is fun,” said the sword.
“Well, Rir, you heard ‘em.”
I suppose I have no other choice. The master’s were absolute, so I crouched and allowed the little ones to climb onto my back.
“Thanks Rir. Couldn’t have done it without you.”
My master gently placed one of his hands on my shoulder. The other was occupied by his sister, who had been exhausted by our time together. The grip he had on her hand was the only thing that kept her steady as she drifted between a state of alertness and one of rest.
The compliment he had said to me was one that I enjoyed. I felt fulfillment in knowing that I had proven myself useful. But knowing it had stemmed from a task as simple as playing around with a few pups left me feeling as awkward as I was content. But in the end, the latter of the two emotions surfaced above the other. I had justified the task as fulfilling another one of my master’s orders. And knowing that was enough for me to unabashedly bask in the satisfaction of being praised.
“See you later, Rir!” said the slime.
“Bye,” said the sword.
The little ones waved at me as they followed my master back towards the castle. But after a few steps, he realized that a member of his party had yet to move, so he span around to address her.
“You coming, Lefi?”
“I will, but only after I settle an order of business. I will have to ask you to take care of the children in my place.”
“Uhhh… Sure, alright.” He was confused, but chose to leave without questioning her.
There was a moment of silence. The dragon stood stock still until she had confirmed that my master had returned to the castle. She then examined our surroundings. Only after confirming that we were alone did she suddenly bury her face in my side.
I was so shocked by the action that I whined in bewilderment. But she paid me no mind.
“The sensation of your fur truly is superb. I see now why the others are so fond of it.” She continued to rub her face in my side until she was satisfied, at which point in time she shot me a glare. “Do not ever inform any of the others of the events that just took place if you do not wish to suffer the consequences.” The dragon spoke in a low, threatening growl. “Have I made myself clear?”
I smiled awkwardly as I nodded to affirm my understanding.
The dragon was far older than I or any of the others. And yet, she often conducted herself as would one of the pups. And that was, in my eyes, the reason she had become my master’s mate. The two were very much alike.
“Excellent. Then I bid you farewell, Rir. I know that there will be no end to the troubles and challenges that you must face given your master’s peculiar nature, but I trust that you will continue to do your best for him in spite of his foolishness.”
With a grin, the dragon turned heel and left for the castle.
My encounter with her had once again reminded me that this dungeon’s residents were bizarre in nature, a reminder whose message only grew more powerful as I gazed upon the castle, its towers and walls lit with the orange glow of the evening sun.
They are strange. But I am one of them. A strange pet who is willing to continue following his strange master’s every whim.
And as the thought crossed my mind, I began to smile.