Chatting up the Neighbours
Editor(s): Speedphoenix, Joker
The dragon that had landed beside me was one that I recognized.
“Oh, hey Baldrgaen. I didn’t realize you were watching.”
“I was keeping an eye on the creature. It originated near my nest,” he explained. “I moved to eliminate it once I realized that it had strayed too far, but stopped to observe when I discovered that you had already done the same.”
Baldrgaen was one of the dragons living in the Wicked Forest and the closest thing we had to a neighbour. He only lived about a mountain away from us. He’d actually even lent us a hand before, as he was one of the individuals that Lefi may or may not have forced to obey her during the whole Illuna being kidnapped fiasco. His inability to resist her didn’t stem from weakness per se. He was actually more or less the individual in charge of all the Wicked Forest’s non-supreme dragons. I’m guessing he didn’t show up earlier ‘cause Lefi was still around.
Like all the other dragons that lived nearby, Baldrgaen happened to be absolutely terrified of Lefi. He and his peers made sure to steer clear of her as they would some sort of tyrant. Most dragons even went a step further and actively avoided me as well; Baldrgaen was one of the few that was willing to chat me up. Though he’s a bit stiff, overly formal, and overly respectful. Oh well.
“So what the fuck was that thing anyway? It almost looked like it was being controlled by a parasite or something…”
“That is exactly what it was,” said the dragon. “It was an ordinary monster whose form was distorted upon being completely taken over by parasites.”
He went on to explain a bit more about the parasites. Apparently, they would begin their life cycles by infecting corpses and then move through the food chain by invading the bodies of the monsters that scavenged said corpses. Upon successfully entering a host, they would force it into a rampage and kill and consume everything in sight for the sake of procuring food. Once they gathered enough energy to reproduce, they would kill the host and begin the whole cycle anew.
Fortunately, there wasn’t much of a chance of the parasites causing a pandemic, as they weren’t prolific enough to spread all that quickly. Only a few of their offspring were born at once, and not all of them would make it to adulthood. That said, they were capable of infecting members of the races. Yeah uh… I’m going to have to be even more careful with the meat I get from hunting if there’s shit like that around…
“Eugh… That’s fucked up…” A shiver ran up my spine. “Oh right, I’ve been meaning to ask, any idea why he was headed straight for the nearest human town?”
“One of the parasite’s oddest traits is that it causes its hosts to become incredibly picky eaters. That one recently ate a group of humans, so I presume it happened to be following its nose after developing a taste for their flesh.”
“Huh… weird. Why were there humans in the western Wicked Forest anyway?” I cocked a brow. I can see them exploring the southern part since the monsters are weak, but the west is uh… a bit too far out of their league. Honestly, getting eaten there is totally on them.
“From what I gathered, they were testing an enchanted item whose function was to repel monsters,” he said. “Unfortunately for them, individuals affected by parasites do not behave the same way normal monsters do. They were annihilated.”
Research, huh? I’m kinda curious about the details, but not curious enough to not rage at them. God damn it! This whole situation is all their fault… If they didn’t fuck up and get eaten, I wouldn’t have had to bother dealing with any of this shit! Ugh… Assholes. Actually just causing me trouble for no reason.
“They also tend to be incredibly tenacious. Even I struggle with defeating them,” said Baldrgaen. “Your ability to defeat it so quickly, and without incurring any injury, truly does explain why you’ve been crowned as our king.”
“I mean, you say that, but the title’s just for show, ain’t it?” I said. “Oh and I’m definitely weaker than you, but can you do me a solid favour and like, not challenge me for it? I’d rather pass on that.”
“I had no intention of doing so,” he said in a rebuking, miffed tone. “We are dragons, not mindless monsters. It is true that the title was generally held by those with overwhelming raw power, but you are not the first exception to appear in the record. Attempting to reject and overthrow every exception would lead to a greater disturbance to the order than simply accepting them. I admit that some of the younger, more prideful dragons may be inclined to attack you, but I am not so immature.”
“Uhh… yeah, my bad. Sorry.”
“I do not particularly mind. Though, there is something that I think I should tell you.” He paused for a moment. “This may be difficult for someone who is not a dragon to understand, but fundamentally speaking, members of our species cannot oppose the dragonlord’s will.”
Is he talking about how it gives a charisma boost when I talk to dragons and whatnot? I guess it must be more effective than I thought…
“Only a select few of us are able to go against the reigning king’s wishes. The rest of us do not have much of a choice but to obey so long as you refrain from anything particularly outrageous. That is just how much the title means to us.”
Wait, wait, does that mean the shitface I put down was actually really special? If he managed to jack the title, it must mean that he took the guy who used to have it down, right? I mean, he was kind of a special snowflake. Seemed a lot more rebellious than your average unruly teenager and whatnot, if you catch my drift…
It went without saying that Lefi was also an exception.
“Huh… I guess you dragons are a lot more peaceful than I thought,” I said. “I didn’t realize you were so laid back, though I guess that, you aside, the only dragons I’ve really met are my wifey and the one asshole I ended up taking the title from, so I always kinda assumed you guys were a lot more violent.”
“Both of those individuals are exceptions.” The response was swift and decisive. He didn’t even need to think about his answer. “Members of our race are born strong. That is why we rarely tend to care much about strength.” He continued after frowning for effect. “It is not something we actively seek since we are able to defeat most foes without any difficulty. I would much rather spend my time basking in the sun’s warmth.” His lips curved into a bit of a smile. “While I am not the supreme dragon, I would much rather enjoy a few bites of honey or a nice cut of meat.”
All I really got from the conversation was that Lefi’s laziness was more of a racial trait than a personal one. Though I do get where they’re coming from. If you’re already OP as shit, why not just kick back and relax, right? Sounds perfectly rational to me.
Speaking with Baldrgaen was beginning to change my perspective on dragons in general. I was starting to feel that they were more gentle and, frankly, normal (read: lazy.) Hmm… is that a dragon thing in general? Or just one that kinda applies to the ones that live in the Wicked Forest…?
“Oh yeah, you mentioned something about the Dragonlord title being super effective and whatnot, but isn’t the title supposed to be for the dragons that live back where Lefi came from? I thought you guys were like a separate clan or something.”
“The dragons that come from the village, or Drakenstead as it is sometimes referred, are our close relatives. Our ancestors only came to this land a few generations ago,” he said. “I suspect nothing would change even if that was not the case. The village is our largest settlement. All of us hold its ruler in high regards.”
Huh… I see. So basically, Drakenstead is kinda like the draconic capital, and kinda like a cornerstone of draconic culture and whatnot. …And I’m technically its king now, aren’t I? …Huh, weird.
I had been meaning to check the place out for quite some time, but every time I brought it up, Lefi would get incredibly annoyed and shoot me down immediately.
“You know, thinking about it, I really should pay it a visit, huh?”