Four new arrivals show up in the regressive world of Springtide. Reduced to small children, they find themselves on a journey that will change them in many ways.
The Quest For Draco’s Gold
The universe is a vast place of infinite possibilities, and yet it is but only one of many worlds that exist. There are worlds of magic, worlds of science and worlds that revolve around 9 to 5 jobs. Each of them exists in their own timeline, separate from the others and never interacting.
However, there is another world that acts as a nexus point between them. A strange place, one that runs by its own rules, but is somehow connected to every world in existence. It is a strange land, one where adults can not exist and seems to run off the rules of a child’s imagination. It is a land of endless adventures where logic has no place.
And it is a land of meetings. As a bridge between worlds, anyone from any time or place can find their way to Springtide. And so unlikely friendships and rivalries form between those who would under normal conditions never exist in the same time and space.
The Oaken Meadow is where everyone makes their entrance to this world. It is a pleasant place, with endless fields of grass and flowers, and where the sky is always sunny with light clouds. A massive oak tree sits in the center of this meadow, with a large hollow within trunk in the shape of an arched doorway. This tree acts as the bridge between worlds, and so everyone who arrives appears in this world, appearing out of the tree’s hollow.
There are three new arrivals to the world on this day. Three children, each of them around two years of age. They sat in the meadow, in piles of oversized adult clothing, blinking and staring in surprise at themselves and the world around them. They did not know it yet, but their fates had now become intertwined as they were at the beginning of a grand adventure.
But perhaps we have gotten ahead of ourselves. Our story actually starts just a few minutes earlier… When each of these children made their way into this world.
The first was named Toya. He was a wolf of blackest fur and golden eyes, with a star on his cheek, and completely white ears. And he was six feet tall! Not a child at all! At least not quite yet. No, Toya was very much an adult at 28 years, and he wore adult clothes that fit him to a tee. A hoodie and jeans, even proper shoes and some socks.
Toya’s journey starts in an attic of sorts, in a dusty old house that’s worth about as much as cracked quartz. He had answered an ad in the paper, placed by an old tapir. She was old and frail, couldn’t make it up the stairs. So she had offered to pay $500 to help with one chore. All he’d have to do was clean one little room.
But when the wolf reached the attic, he saw quite a sight. Broken furniture and old lamps were scattered about! There were piles of twine gathered around empty casks of wine! And an old sewing wheel perched upon a mountain of purses! To make it all worse, the attic was impossible to approach, thanks to every object and surface being covered in two feet of cobwebs.
“This is not worth $500.” Toya muttered to himself, but already committed, he began his long job, but only till a strange glint caught his eye. On the corner wall an old mirror hung. It was bigger than Toya, but that wasn’t the issue. There was something strange, just odd about the image reflected. Toya pulled off the webs, wiped off the dust. Then the image he saw left him perplexed.
It wasn’t himself that he saw in the mirror. Or at least not the self as he currently appeared. Instead he saw a young pup, wide eyed and staring, with Toya’s clothes hanging off him like blankies.
“That’s… Weird…” Toya spoke to himself. Then he stretched out a hand and reached for the mirror. The surface rippled, like the water in a lake… Then a wolf fell through the mirror; a puppy tumbled out of a tree.
Our second is named Zeelo. But he was no beast. No, Zeelo was human, a rare sight indeed! Yet so was everyone that came from his world! There wasn’t even a hint of real magic, not even a dragon. It was a mundane world, where people lived mundane lives.
Zeelo himself was currently twenty years old. Have you noticed the trend? Don’t expect him to grow. He wore a blue sweater and jeans, some sneakers as well. And of course he always had his glasses to show. He had short brown hair, and rather pale skin. He was a normal as could be, living the most average of lives. At least right up, till the carnival arrived.
It was a noisy affair, this colorful fair. There were rides and shows! Funnel cake and candy! And this place had one major boon that had brought Zeelo here. Tickets were only five dollars and an affordable fare. Perhaps he was a bit old, but who didn’t love the fair? And it’d be fun for one night, just to feel like a kid. Not an uncommon desire, we all feel it at times. And from one point of view, he got what he sought.
Zeelo found himself lost in a funhouse maze full of smoke mirrors, and twisty turns. Zeelo was so turned around, and now full of concerns. He walked face first into glass, then got spun from the path. And now among mirrors he was lost, with just his reflections to observe.
“Well this isn’t creepy at all.” Zeelo spoke to himself. He felt like he was in a horror movie or show. Any second, a monster would appear… Except of course those weren’t real. But it can be fun to be scared. The only horror that Zeelo did see, were his distorted reflections in each mirror’s surface.
There were big Zeelos! And Small Zeelos! Then one with long arms and short legs! Fat ones and thin ones! Even a Zeelo with one big giant head! He couldn’t help but laugh, seeing how ridiculous he looked. To think just moments ago, he had started to fear.
But then there was one mirror that made him freeze. It was different from the others, in two major ways. The mirror wasn’t curved like the wavy trick mirrors. It was perfectly flat, not a single curve. Its shape however wasn’t what gave him pause. It was the shape of his reflection that caused this new awe.
His reflection wasn’t stretched out, or squashed and made flat. In fact it was normal, except for one fact. Whereas twenty year old Zeelo stared at the image before him, a two year old Zeelo stared back from the mirror. This child even had Zeelo’s currently worn clothing! Though he less wore them, and more stood inside them.
“How did they make a mirror like this?” Zeelo wondered aloud. It didn’t seem possible, but it had clearly been done. Zeelo reached out his hand, watching the child do the same. And he tried to touch the mirror’s face, but found he could pass right through. He was startled, and tripped, falling right towards the mirror.
And so Zeelo vanished into the face of the mirror, while in a sunny meadow, a tyke did appear. He came tumbling out of a hollow in a tree… Before landing atop of a black furred puppy.
Our last newcomer goes by the name Asriel. And in Asriel’s world they call him a yordle. He has white fur and red eyes, being an albino of his kind. As you have likely already guessed, he’s very much an adult. He’s currently twenty-two years, and a few months to spare. Yordles aren’t as big or human as wolves, and this one stands barely more than three feet. His world is more wild than what we’re used to, and he dresses the part, clad in a gray leather vest. Black trousers, thick boots and red pauldrons too! He’s geared for adventure! And ready to rush to one’s aid. However, even among yordles Asriel is quite a rare sight, as he has the horns of a demon and a tail that’s a snake!
Asriel’s start is quite different from others, for he knew right away strange magics were at play. He had come to the basement of an academy of spells, beneath the ground was a large lab, hidden between the storage and cells. Something had been found, and no one was sure if it was safe. So Asriel had been hired to examine it, as better to risk him than the staff.
The lab was dark, lit only by candles. A bit of a fire hazard, but traditions must be kept. Dusty shelves with jeweled goblets hung on the walls and a table lay covered in unfinished staves. There was a bubbling potion over an open flame, glowing potions, and vials of sand.
In the center of the lab where Asriel stood, with the object of question a few feet away. Currently it was covered beneath a large tarp, and placed in the middle of a magic circle drawn in red paint with blue marks. It was a basic seal, there just for safety. The strange artifact could be quite harmless… Or it could call forth demons.
“Let’s take a look.” Asriel spoke, and he took a step forward and pulled off the cloak. Now standing before him was a massive mirror, with a frame made of gold, carved into winding roses. Of course, the frame was far from the most interesting part… And by now you can guess what nearly stopped Asriel’s heart. The mirror was covered in dirt, but enough of it shown through, and so Asriel saw himself come right into view. The reflection in the mirror didn’t match his own form, but showed a young toddler struggling to move in his gear.
Asriel held his staff ready, expecting some trouble, but the mirror stayed in place, no spells were unleashed. It was hard to tell what the mirror’s purpose was. Perhaps it just showed someone younger? Or could there be some strange curse.
Asriel sat his staff down and stepped back. So far nothing had happened, other than the odd image. More likely than not the item was harmless. If it had called anything here, the magic circle would glow. It was possible the reflection was the only spell on it… But this was a paid job, so Asriel would be thorough. He grabbed a cloth, planning to clean off the mirror’s dirt… But had not been prepared for the ripple effect. His hand with the cloth passed straight through the mirror, and the yordle flinched, stumbled forward and then tripped. And much like the others, he fell through the mirror… And in the large meadow, a young yordle appeared. But at least his efforts weren’t or naught. When the portal had opened, all the dirt just came off.
And now you know the origin of all three. Former adults, now children of two. No adult may enter the world of Springtide, but they can still come in, they just won’t stay the same. But they aren’t the only ones who exist in this world. And other forces would soon be involved. Some would help, some would hinder, and some would just watch. The adventure unfolds, and the scene is now set.
And now that the actors are here, let their story begin.
“Get off me!” Toya squeaked as he shoved at the human who had landed on top him. “What are you anyway, some kind of hairless monkey?” Toya paused at this. “Why is my voice so high pitched?” And as he tried to stand up he noticed his oversized clothes. “WHY ARE MY CLOTHES SO BIG!?”
“Gaah wahhh!” Zeelo rolled along the grass after being shoved, losing his pants and underwear in the process. He was now tangled up in a sweater; which constantly tripped him as he tried to get u., He froze as he saw Toya. “Wait… Did that dog just talk?”
“I’m a wolf!” Toya huffed as he stared at the human, something that was a very strange creature to him.
“This is… Surreal.” Asriel was studying his own body curiously. Even the snake that made up his tail was younger and more docile. He tried to stand up, finding his body far more sturdy than he expected for a two year old. However as he stood up he came right out of his clothes. He blushed beneath his fur as he looked around.
“Okay seriously what is going on?” Zeelo asked as he looked around the field. As he did, he noticed a couple of things. The first, was that the place just looked and felt so serene, it was like a meadow out of a storybook. The second… Was that there were several piles of empty clothing just laying discarded all throughout the meadow. “I don’t think we’re the first ones here…”
“What are you going on about-“ Toya paused as he looked around. “What the heck, are people just running around naked here?”
“Maybe?” Asriel muttered as he walked towards one of the other piles of clothes. As he did, he let most of his own clothes fall off him while he struggled to keep at least a shirt on, regardless of how it impeded movement. He picked up the corner of a pair of trousers… They didn’t look like something from his world… Not sturdy enough for travel… Although… It did resemble the flimsy clothing his two new companions were currently trying to wear. “Interesting…”
“That’s all you have to say!?” Zeelo threw his hands up.
“I mean, it is interesting.” Toya stuck his tongue out.
“Um excuse me.”
“It’s not that just…” Asriel struggled for a moment to figure out how to put it into words. “All these clothes… And our own, they’re in different styles… But not just in their style of fashion, but as if they came from completely different worlds with different needs.”
“If you would listen for a moment.”
“Hold on… Other worlds?” Zeelo tilted his head. “Is that even a thing?” Yet as he wondered… This place definitely didn’t’ seem like Earth. And there was nothing like the other two where he came from.
“So the hairless ape is from another universe or something?” Toya grinned. “Guess that makes sense.”
“Seriously, I could explain if you-“
“I’m not an ape!” Zeelo retorted. “I’m a normal human! And I have a name it’s Zeelo!”
“Zeelo? Can’t say it’s a name I’ve ever heard before… But if this is anything like what I think it is, that makes sense.” Asriel nodded. “I’m Asriel by the way.”
“I’m Toya!” The wolf pup suddenly shouted. “What? If we’re doing introductions I’m not gonna be left out.”
“Look just stop talking and listen for a-“
“So…. What do we do now?” Zeelo wondered. “Is there a way back?”
“Maybe…” Asriel mused. “I was studying a magic mirror before I fell through. If it’s a portal, it’s not unreasonable to think it’s a two way connection.” He looked over at the tree. “Maybe we should-“
“HEY LISTEN!” A high pitched voice shrieked and echoed throughout the entire meadow. This finally got the attention of the three toddlers who looked up to find a small winged creature floating in the air directly above them. She almost looked human, like Zeelo, except for the fact that she was only about four inches tall, had a pair of butterfly wings, pointed ears and purple hair. Like all of them, she appeared fairly young, a toddler around two or three. She was also completely naked.
“… Wait is that a fairy? Are fairies real?” Zeelo looked up at her.
“Wha-?” The fairy slapped a hand to her face. “How could you ask if I’m real!? I’m standing right in front of you! Just… Ugggh, you know what, it’s not even worth explaining everything to you.” She turned and started to flap away.
“Wait!” Asriel held out a hand. “We’re sorry if we upset you. Just… This is all… Rather shocking to say the least! If you know anything about where we are… Or what happened to us, we’d greatly appreciate your help.”
“Is that so?” The fairy paused and turned around. “Let’s see… It was Toya, Zeelo and Asriel yes?” For some reason she smirked as she said the names.
“Yeah?” Toya looked up at her. “Think that’s right. Who are you?”
“Why would I answer something like that?” This got a confused look from everyone. “Okay… Whatever… Apparently you don’t know. Right, short version. You’re in Springtide now, and adults can’t exist here so anyone who comes in winds up like this.” She gestured down at all of them. “But you can calm down, all you have to do to get back to your normal ages is walk through that tree hole, and bam back to your own world and self.”
“Really?” Zeelo moved towards the oak tree.
“Yup… So you could just leave right now if you wanted to.” The fairy nodded. “But of course, that means you’d basically be missing out on the fun.” This gave everyone pause.
“What do you mean?” Asriel was the first to ask.
“Hmmm, you know… Maybe showing is better than telling here.” The fairy hovered back and forth. “But… I’m doing an awful lot of this for free… Tell you what! You get me one gold coin, and I’ll make sure you know everything about how this works.”
“Uhhhh.” Toya dug through one of his oversized pockets. “I have thirty-five cents and a credit card. Will you take any of that?”
“Nope! But look it’s not hard to get yourselves a coin…” She pointed away from the tree. “If you keep going that way, you’ll eventually find Draco. Just bring me back a gold piece from him and you’ll understand everything.”
“Is this going to be dangerous?” Zeelo looked nervous.
“Uggh, you really know nothing.” The fairy pouted. “Okay, I’ll give you one freebie. No matter how hard you or anyone else tries, you can’t be physically injured in any way here. It just doesn’t work. Watch.” The fairy held a hand above her head, and suddenly a swirling mass of fire appeared in it. She then threw her hand down and the fire flew down and engulfed Zeelo completely.
“GAHHHH!” Zeelo screamed and waved his arms around.
“ARE YOU CRAZY!?” Toya demanded.
“Is there water nearby!?” Asriel was looking around desperately. “Something to put it out and-“
“Wait… I’m… fine?” Zeelo paused and stood where he was. The flames engulfing him were starting to die down… His clothes had been completely burnt up leaving him naked, but he himself was totally fine. He just felt a little too warm… As if it were just a really hot summer day, and even that faded as the flames died away.
“See. Unharmed.” The fairy replied.
“That was real fire…” Asriel looked at the burnt remains of Zeelo’s clothing, as well as the grass around him that had been singed. “I think she’s telling the truth.”
“Of course I am!” The fairy bounced up and down. “Fairies don’t lie! Now… You going to get me my coin or not?”
“If there’s really no risk…” Toya grinned, now that he had time to get used to his younger body and knew he wasn’t in danger, this could be a lot of fun. “I don’t see why not but…” He looked down at himself, he was basically struggling to keep a giant shirt on. “Is there like someplace we can get a change of clothes?”
“Why would you even need something like that?” The fairy looked confused.
“Well for starters you burnt up my clothes and left me naked!” Zeelo protested.
“Yeah and?” The fairy seemed to not get it. Then again, she didn’t have any clothes at all.
“Look just, we get you’re a fairy and it might be different, but most people we-“ Asriel paused as he looked back at all the abandoned piles of clothes throughout the meadow. “Pretty much everyone here runs around naked don’t they?”
“I mean yeah…” The fairy shrugged. “Why wouldn’t we?”
“Uggggh.” Asriel groaned. “We can’t just…”
“I don’t even really have a choice at this point…” Zeelo muttered as he stared down at his own feet.
“Seriously?” Toya felt himself blushing beneath his fur… But if there wasn’t anything to change into… It wasn’t like he was going to be able to get around easily tangled up like he was now. But… If everyone else in this place was doing it… He slowly let his shoulders slip out of his shirt, then stepped out atop his now fallen clothes and stood there naked.
“I can’t believe I’m doing this.” Asriel muttered as he disrobed his own attire. But… He was very curious about this world, getting a gold coin to learn more seemed easy enough. Especially since there was no danger… And it wasn’t like anyone back in his own world was going to see him… Not unless they wound up in the same situation.
“You all act so ridiculous.” The fairy shrugged. “Anyway, since you’re agreeing to get the coin, I’ll at least give you a bit of information. Once you go north far enough, you’ll get to Castle Hazelnut.”
“Hazelnut?” Zeelo tilted his head.
“I don’t get it either.” The fairy shrugged again. “But once there you’ll find other visitors like yourselves who can probably give you better directions. Well…” She slowed down for a moment. “Toya, Zeelo, Asriel. See you later. I’ll send a little reminder every now and then if you need prodding to find that gold.” Then with that she flew off.
“Okay… It’s not just me right, she was really weird right?” Zeelo asked.
“Definitely.” Toya nodded.
“Absolutely.” Asriel crossed his arms. “But… I guess we’re heading north.” He looked down at his body, blushing for a moment but tried not to think about it as they all set out.
After a few minutes of walking, it started to feel less awkward for everyone, as they instead started to wonder more about what this world they had come to. Not only were they younger, and impervious to harm, but it seemed that they were more physically capable than they should have been for their apparent ages. Walking upright presented no problem at all despite being only two, and there was no unsteadiness or risk of toddling over.
After about thirty minutes of walking the meadow came to an end… And what came next made the three just stop and stare in disbelief. The meadow abruptly ended, while an expanse of green hills with a castle in the distance started. The reason it was so strange was how abrupt the transition was between the two. It was as if looking at a patchwork quilt, one patch displaying a flowery meadow, the other a medieval kingdom.
“This place gets weirder and weirder.” Asriel muttered as he crossed the threshold. “I’m guessing that place in the distance is the castle she told us about. Not much further now.”
“You know…” Toya looked around somewhat cheerfully. “Having had time to adjust to it… This place is kind of neat… I kind of wouldn’t mind looking around a bit more.”
“Y-yeah.” Zeelo added in. “I mean, I’m becoming more curious about it as we go too.”
“Well, if we can find this Draco fellow and get a coin off him, the fairy said she’d give us all the info we needed.” Asriel smiled.
Aside from the hills, there was an actual road that ran through the hillsides. It wasn’t a modern road of course, but was an old one that was mostly stone paving. It was on this road they had their second encounter in the world.
It was another human boy, with messy brown hair. He looked slightly younger than the rest of them, maybe only one and a half, but like them was walking upright completely fine. He too was completely naked, sans a messenger bag thrown over one shoulder, but by this point nudity was starting to have less of an impact.
“Oh hey!” The newcomer waved. He had been walking in the opposite direction.
“Hey you! Hairless ape.” Toya took charge. “Do you think we could ask you a few questions?”
“… Ape?” The boy seemed confused. “Uh… Sure?”
“Can you tell me what this place is, and what that castle is for?” Toya asked.
“Uhhhh, Castle Hazelnut?” The boy scratched his head. “It’s mostly where you go when you want to play at knights. I was getting kind of bored of it though so was heading over to the pirate place for a bit.”
“… What?” Toya just stared at him.
“Wait…” The boy looked over the three. “Are you guys new?”
“Yes.’ Asriel stepped in. “Both to this… area and this entire place.”
“Oh! Cool!” His eyes lit up. “I imagine you’re a little lost too! I was when I first got here. Name’s Deven by the way.”
Deven had been in Springtide for a few months now and had adapted quite well. His original arrival though was not unlike these three at the beginning.
Back when he was still an adult, Deven had been from the same world as Zeelo, though the two had never met. However, the mirror he had gone through now resided in his own house.
About one week before Deven’s arrival in Springtide there had been an estate sale for one of his neighbors. Apparently, said neighbor had completely vanished off the face of the Earth and had eventually been declared officially dead. At the time, Deven had believed that. Now, he was pretty sure the guy was somewhere in Springtide.
At the estate sale Deven had become infatuated with a strange full length mirror. Why? Cause when he looked into it, he saw a reflection of himself as a baby staring back. He had originally just been there out of boredom, walking through rows of junk laying out on the yard before he found the mirror beneath the tarp. He lifted it up, just curious what was underneath, and that was when he had seen his youthful reflection.
He quickly covered the mirror back up and bought it immediately. It had only cost him $5. Then he had set it up in his own bedroom so he could keep the curious object nearby. After awhile, he noticed that the age of the child in the mirror seemed to change from time to time… At one point even looking like a newborn.
Then one day, Deven touched the mirror while staring at his child self, and then he fell right through. He stumbled out into the flowery meadow, rolled right out of his clothing, and had a minor freak out as he didn’t know where he was.
But… Since then he had adapted quite well; and had decided to stay here rather than return to his own world. Being younger was more fun… And he couldn’t imagine going back to a life with pants.
Toya, Zeelo and Asriel each introduced themselves to Deven and he told them more about the place.
“Basically, the place is called Springtide.” He explained. “And anyone who comes in turns into a little kid… And apparently what age you become is dependent on the moon cycle or something. Anyway, that’s not important… What is, is that the place is made up of a bunch of different zones each with its own unique theme! This one’s Castle Hazelnut and is all about knights and dragons and all that stuff. Actually, I was here myself for the dragons… But anyway, there’s a bunch of areas, a pirate one, a ninja one, a western place, lots.”
“These different places sound weird. Like something out of a kid’s fantasy.” Asriel was trying to figure out the exact rules of this world.
“Pretty much!” Deven grinned. “That’s what’s so great! It’s like a non-stop game of make pretend but it’s all real! You can even do magic here… Or build really complex machines from nothing!”
“Magic?” That got Asriel’s attention. “How does that work?”
“I’d also like to know about that.” Toya stepped forward.
“Uh yeah…. Me too.” Zeelo was also entranced by the idea.
“There’s not really much to explain.” Deven shrugged. “You just kind of… Think about it, shout some magic words, and it works. Like um… Let’s see.” He held a hand out above his head. “Do one of you want to volunteer?”
“Uh I will.” Zeelo took a step forward. “What do I need to do?”
“Just hold still.” Deven lowered his hand so that his palm was pointing at Zeelo and then shouted at the top of his lungs. “Abricus! Squirrelicuss!” A beam of blue light shot out from Deven’s palm and struck Zeelo squarely in the chest. There was an explosion of multi-colored smoke as it hit… And then just like that Zeelo was gone.
In his place was something about a third his size, covered with brown fur and a big bushy tail. It was a squirrel, though he was a bipedal animal creature like Toya.
“Whoa…” The now squirrel Zeelo looked up at Deven. “You made yourself bigger?”
“Uh…. Zeelo?” Toya tapped the squirrel lightly atop the head. “Might want to look at yourself.”
“You’re big too?” Zeelo looked at Toya. “And why would I?” He looked down, noticing the fur. He quickly held his hands up in front of his face, seeing they were paws with little tiny claws. Then he looked behind him and saw his big bushy tail. “What did you do to me!?” Zeelo fell over onto his bottom as he tried to grab at his own tail.
“Made you a squirrel!” Deven nodded. “Neat right? And that’s all it takes too! Just gotta think about what you want to happen, shout some appropriate magic words, and bam!”
“I’m a squirrel…” Zeelo was zoned out and not listening at the moment as he couldn’t believe what had happened. He wasn’t a full squirrel, but he was closer to squirrel size than human at a mere 9 inches tall. “And… I have a tail?” While sitting, he managed to finally grab his own tail. He tried to twitch it, and when it obeyed him he stared at it mesmerized as excitement overtook fear.
“It’s that simple?” Asriel who was familiar with magic in his own world was almost in shock. Magic was usually something that had to be studied to master… Not just… Wanting things! But… He supposed it seemed to be in line with the logic of this world he had seen so far. Though there was the possibility that Deven had left something out… The only way to know for sure would be to experiment and try it himself. Asriel pointed his palm at Toya and shouted the first words that came to his mind. “Abicus Raticus.” And a beam of green light erupted from his hand.
Toya looked up just in time to get hit by it… And then suddenly found himself eye level with Zeelo’s stomach. He was smaller than the squirrel now! Probably around 6 inches tall. His once fluffy tail, was now a naked worm-like thing, and his hands and feet, though still paws had lost their fur.
“HEY!” Toya shouted. “Give a guy warning before you do something like that!” After the initial surprise, Toya found he didn’t mind the change so much. The initial age loss had surprised him when he arrived here… But by now, he was starting to just go with the flow of the place in a manner of speaking. “But… It’s kind of cool you could just transform someone like that.” He paused and looked at Zeelo. The two suddenly exchanged a smirking glance as both of them pointed the palms of their paws at Asriel.
“Now hang on a minute-“ Asriel took a step back. “I was just experimenting.”
“I… Should probably mention, that if you use magic you can’t use science.” Deven interrupted.
“Eh? What does that mean?” Zeelo turned to him.
“Basically… When you first arrive, you can use anything you find that’s magical or sciency in nature… Though when I say science, think of like cartoon ray guns and stuff like that, but built out of cardboard and wood. Can pretty much do anything magic can do, like change people into an animal. Anyway… When you first arrive, you can use devices of either type made by anyone else… So you could use both a raygun and a magic want with pre-existing spells. But the second you cast a spell or build something yourself, you basically get attuned to that or something and can’t use the other. So in the earlier example, if you practiced magic and tried to use the ray gun, the gun would most likely explode on you when you tried to fire.”
“So what I’m understanding is that if I zap him right now and find a shiny cool ray gun or jetpack later, I won’t be able to use it?” Toya considered for a moment. “You got lucky punk.” Both him and Zeelo lowered their paws.
“Uhhh right…” Asriel decided to change the subject. “Maybe… We should ask about our little errand. Um… Do you know a Draco? We need to ask him for a favor.”
“Yeah, everyone knows about Draco, but I’m not really sure you’d be able to ask him any favors.” Deven gave them a quizzical look. “I mean he’s a Phantom.”
“Uhhhhh…” Zeelo looked questionably at Deven.
“I guess you wouldn’t know about those yet huh?” Deven tried to think of how to explain it. “Basically… Phantoms are… Kind of like video game bad guys! They don’t really have minds… They just exist for us to beat up.”
“Wait… So they’re basically monsters we can beat up for fun? That’s awesome!” Toya grinned.
“Yup.” Deven nodded.
“Wait…” Asriel was less enthusiastic. “If it’s just a mindless creature… How are we supposed to get it to give us a gold coin?”
“Maybe it drops loot?” Zeelo suggested.
“Pretty much.” Deven shrugged. “All of the bigger Phantoms have some kind of treasure you win for beating them. There a reason you’re looking for it?”
“Basically we met someone who said she could tell us more about this world if we brought her a coin.” Asriel muttered. “Although… It seems you just told us what we wanted to know… So I guess it’s not as pressing a concern if we want to explore a bit fir-“ Asriel was interrupted as he suddenly felt a shadow fall over him. He quickly spun around, but saw nothing there. He stared into the distance with concern for a bit as if expecting something to show up. When nothing did he slowly turned back around, and it was at that point he suddenly let out an animalistic roar and fell down onto all fours.
“Uh…. Asriel?” Zeelo took a step back.
“GROOOOAWWRL!” Asriel howled as a pair of curved horns began to push their way out of the top of his skull. Claws formed on his hands and feet, each one nearly as long as his own finger. And then… Just like that, he was acting like himself again. “Huh?” Asriel blinked in confusion. “Why… am I on all fours?”
“You kind of beasted out there for a moment.” Toya was looking over Asriel from a distance. “And now you’ve got those horns… And claws.”
“What?” Asriel stood up and grasped around the top of his head finding the horns. Then after this he noticed the claws. “What just happened?”
“Uh…” Deven looked over the three with concern. “By any chance…. This person who asked you to go find a gold coin. She wasn’t a fairy was she?”
“She was actually!” Zeelo chimed in. “Is that important?”
“Very.” Deven sighed. “Long story shorts, if you agree to do an errand for a fairy then it’s basically a mandatory quest for you. And if you take any action to go against or neglect that quest well… They get to punish you for it. But… It could be worse. I mean, as long as you weren’t stupid enough to give her your names-“
“Uhhhhhh.” Asriel interrupted.
“Oh.” Deven slapped a palm to his forehead. “Okay… So… We need to get going then and go take care of Draco like now.”
“You’re coming too?” Zeelo asked.
“I can’t exactly leave you like this!” Deven responded. “And that!” He pointed at Asriel. “It looks like she put something in him, and that’s going to keep getting worse till your quest is complete. Now, come on, get a move on! I know the way to his lair.”
“Uh… Right…” Asriel was the first to follow, concerned about how the changes to him would progress. Zeelo and Toya followed shortly after.
None of them noticed they were being observed as they left.
“And hear I was starting to get bored.” A kobold with blue scales nearly four years of age stood up from where he had been hiding in a patch of tall grass. He had a yellow and white scarf around his neck, and a small satchel bag tied to his hip. “But this… This is very interesting.” He grinned. “It sure would be unfortunate if something happened to them before they reached my master’s lair.” He grinned wickedly. And then he quickly burst into a sprint. He was going to have to move quickly if he wanted to get ahead of them for the games that were about to begin.
“Come on, it’s not much further!” Deven had continued to lead the other three to where he knew Draco was waiting. “After we get atop this hill, there’s a bridge that crosses a chasm! Make it across… And then we’re there.”
“Thank goodness.” Asriel spoke up. “I’m… not quite feeling myself right now.” During the walk, his fur had become coarser and wilder, and he had started to grow a mane going down his back.
“Look, once you have one of his coins in hand the changes will stop! Probably.” Deven assured him. “But it’s right over this-“
“I wouldn’t go that way if I were you.” A voice spoke up, and everyone turned to see a young blue kobold laying in the grass on the hill. “Bridge is out.”
“What do you mean out?” Deven asked.
“Out, as in it’s gone.” The kobold shrugged. “What else would it mean? Someone must have been playing around here today and accidentally cut the ropes.”
“How does someone accidentally cut down a bridge?” Zeelo asked.
“Dunno, wasn’t there when it happened.” The kobold shrugged. “Maybe they did it on purpose, I don’t know. But you’re wasting your time.”
“So… There’s another way around to reach Draco, right?” Toya asked.
“I’m… Not sure.” Deven crossed his arms and tried to think. “Truth is, I haven’t been here in this world for more than a couple months now… Haven’t had time to go all over. But, I’m sure there’s still a way to reach Draco.”
“Oh, you guys planning to fight him?” The kobold’s long drooped ears perked up. “Cause… I’ve done that before! I know a way there you could take. Went that way last time I fought him.” The kobold stood up off the grass to his full height… Which was tall enough to tower over the rat Toya, and leave Zeelo at only chest high to him. However, he was still much shorter than both Asriel and Deven, despite being the eldest by just over a year and a half. “Name’s Erakir. I’ve been hanging out here for quite a bit.”
Not everything Erakir had spoken had been completely untrue. Of all five, he had indeed been in the world longer than any of them, and he had indeed encountered Draco before. Erakir, like Asriel had come from a world where magic was commonplace. So common, that when he found himself reduced to a toddler he simply considered it business as usual. He had spent plenty of time here, gotten a chance to play with the world’s magic, and be played with by it. He wasn’t originally a kobold after all. Just last week he had been a bird. Then he was pretty sure it was a normal rabbit before that. The kind of rabbit that walked on four legs and didn’t talk. Then he thought he had done some time as an imp and… Well… Erakir had been a lot of things since he got here. In fact, so many that he wasn’t actually sure what he was originally before arriving anymore. At one point he thought it was a cat… But then realized that was probably someone else and had no idea why he thought that.
He was also telling the truth about having met Draco before, and knowing another way to him. After all, it was because of his encounter with that Phantom that he now found himself a kobold. And as a kobold, he had a strange desire to serve the nearest dragon and saw no reason to fight against that urge. So, he swore fealty to Draco, and then made arrangements to protect his new master against intruders. The path he planned to lead them through would indeed lead to Draco as promised… But it would also lead through several traps he had crafted himself to deal with any pesky would be Phantom dragon slayers.
He was also telling the truth about the bridge being out. After all, he’d know since he had cut the ropes just minutes before. Technically, they were cut by someone playing around here… Specifically, Erakir playing and toying with these four by taking down the bridge.
“Well, I’ve got places to be, so can’t hang around too long.” Erakir stretched. “So, you want me to show you the way or not? Cause I’m not really going to have time for it if we wait much longer.”
“GROOOOOAAAAAWWWWR!” Asriel suddenly let out a howl as he dropped to all fours again. The mane on his back grew thicker, as his hands and feet both grew larger, becoming monstrous paws. He howled, and then walked on all fours over to Toya who he towered over… Before immediately going back to his normal self. “Wha-?”
“Yes… Yes I think you should show us the way.” Toya took a step back.
“I feel like I missed something…” Asriel muttered as he stood up. He paused when he examined what had once been his hands. “Uhhh, I… I don’t think I can hold things with these.”
“Huh that looks… Yeah.” Erakir stared at Asriel for a moment. “Well in that case, follow me! It’s not a long walk!”
It actually was. Erakir deliberately chose a roundabout path to make the walk take longer.
“So… We’ve been going for awhile, and I’ve never gone this direction to reach Draco.” Deven spoke up after a bit.
“Well of course not, normally the bridge isn’t out.” Erakir chided. “Did you think people would use the bridge if this route was more convenient? Trust me! I’m four years old. Well… Practically four years old, so that pretty much makes me the adult. I know what I’m doing.”
“Wait…” Zeelo didn’t think that sounded right. “But none of us here are our proper ages… So how does that make you the adult?”
“And yet I am still the oldest, and most responsible.” Erakir puffed out his chest.
“I don’t think that’s how it works.” Zeelo tried, but was ignored.
“Alright through here!” Erakir stopped at the field ended and they approached a cliff wall with an open cave. “This cave will take us under the hills and out on the other side. See! I told you I knew what I was doing.”
“I guess you did.” Toya grinned as he ran into the cave first.
“After the rest of you.” Erakir gestured while he did his best to hide his grin when all of them went inside. This tunnel was full of magical traps of his own design! And as a kobold, he was the only one who could see in the dark to avoid them! Everyone else would walk blindly into them, just as planned.
“Hey there’s something weird in here!” Toya called out.
“Eh?” Erakir’s ears dropped. That was right. The rat. Rats didn’t need to see in the dark to find their way around. They had those whiskers. “What kind of things? I’m sure it’s nothing.”
“It’s… Some kind of wire!” Toya responded. “Like right at ankle level! Here, everyone follow my voice. I’ll help you get over it.”
“Thank you, much appreciated.” Asriel listened to Toya and slowly stepped over the tripwire.
“Huh, maybe it’s a good thing we got transformed into rodents.” Zeelo giggled as he followed.
“Maybe…” Deven was unconvinced. “But you know, we could just use a light spell to see.”
“We can do that?” Asriel thought for a moment. He supposed it made sense. “Alright, give me a sec I’ll light the place up.”
“WAIT YOU CAN’T!” Erakir shouted.
“Eh?” Asriel paused and looked in the direction he heard Erakirs voice from.
“I mean… It’s not safe!” Erakir tried to think up a lie. “Think about it! There was… A tripwire! Someone must have set it up… Maybe even the same person who took down the bridge!”
“Why would someone be that much of a jerk?” Toya asked
“Because it’s fun.” Even through the darkness, Erakir could feel everyone attempting to stare at him. “I mean, that’s likely what they thought.”
“Ugh, what kind of loser goes around messing with other people like that.” Zeelo muttered. “Doesn’t he have anything else to do?”
“I mean… He could be someone important.” Erakir muttered as he made a note to push Zeelo into one of his traps later. “I mean, we can’t just assume he’s a loser because he set traps like that! It could be anything… Like… Maybe one of Draco’s minions!”
“Draco doesn’t have any minions.” Deven stated flatly. “He’s a Phantom.”
“That doesn’t mean he can’t have other Phantoms help him!” As soon as Erakir said it he seized the idea. There were Phantoms that worked together in other zones. “I’ve been in a zone where there was a witch Phantom that had a bunch of familiars working for her! It’s very much possible Draco has something similar, and that they laid a trap for us.”
“Okay, but I don’t get why that means I can’t make a light.” Asriel muttered.
“Isn’t it obvious?” Erakir asked, hoping one of them would give a suggestion.
“No?” Toya tried.
“Oh come on, do I really have to spell it out?” Erakir could feel himself sweating. “Deven! You’ve been here longer than them, you get it right?”
“I really don’t.” Deven muttered.
“Asriel?” Erakir pleaded.
“I’m the one who was trying to make a light.” He crossed his arms.
“Okay, surely at least one of you figured it out! Come on Zeelo! Don’t let me down!” Erakir was edging further behind the group in case he needed to break into a very sudden sprint.
“Uhhhh.” Zeelo tried to think. But he didn’t have a lot of ideas, so he just tried something. “Is it… Some kind of trap that’s light activated.”
“YES!” Erakir said as he felt a wave of relief wash over him. “That is absolutely it! There’s most likely a sensor, and if we cast a light spell, it’ll set it off and release who knows what into here! Staying in the dark so we can stealthily move through here is our best chance.”
“I guess that makes sense…” Deven seemed unsure, but he realized it was better to play it safe.
“Don’t worry it’s not an issue!” Toya chattered happily. “I can’t actually see… but I can sort of feel everything around me! I’ll point out the traps and help everyone around them.”
“What a brilliant idea Toya.” Erakir spoke through gritted teeth. “Let me catch up before you move on.”
“Okay! There’s…. A hole on our right over here… And… Looks like you need to duck here, some kind of bucket I think?” He slowly moved forward giving the others time to catch up with him and past the traps. “Okay… Some kind of weird stick thing over here.”
“It’s a magic wand, not a weird stick thing.” Erakir felt everyone go silent as he said it. “What? I’m an expert in these kinds of magical things. I’m practically four years old. I know a lot. I can tell what it is just from the description! It’s probably set up to go off at anyone who walks by. Let me get closer, I can probably disarm it if you can describe it to me.”
“Um okay…” Toya felt around. “Well, it’s kind of long, pointy and-“ He didn’t get to finish, before Erakir’s foot came in contact with his back, knocking him over and in front of the wand.
“Oh dear! I tripped on something! Was that a trap!?” Erakir fake stumbled and acted as if he was trying to regain his balance. No one could see, but it was best to stay in character.
“That was me you-“ Toya started to growl, but it was at that point the wand he was in front of went off. There was one quick flash of light, and for a brief moment everyone could see Toya’s shadow growing. “Uhhhh… I can’t see… erm feel, you know what I mean, anymore.”
“Huh…” Zeelo walked in the direction he had seen the flash, felt around and found where Toya was…. Or at least Toya’s leg. He was bigger than Zeelo again. “Soft.” He muttered. As he felt around, he also found the wand that had done the deed. His heart skipped a beat when his hand touched it, but realizing nothing had happened, he got an idea and quickly grabbed the wand.
“Okay, everyone it’s fine.” Deven spoke up. “If we go slowly, I’m sure we can-“
“I’m… Not feeling so great… And…” Asriel felt his vision unfocus for a moment… And then suddenly, he was able to see perfectly… Well almost perfectly. There was no color, but he could make everything out. He saw Toya’s new form, still smaller than his own. He saw Zeelo grab something, and Deven walking with his hands outright. He also saw Erakir moving with deliberate steps, easily any traps or pitfalls. “Huh that’s strange how are you-“ He started to ask, but the end of the question came out in a loud howl. “GROOOOOOAAAWR!”
Asriel fell down onto all fours again, this time large fangs growing from his teeth. He could feel the shape of his muzzle change, and… there was something wrong with his snake tail… But he couldn’t think of any of these things right now. Thinking was hard… He suddenly just knew he was trapped in this stupid tunnel and wanted out. He dug his paws into the dirt and began to growl louder.
“Uhhhh I think your friend is losing it.” Erakir was thankful no one else could see his grin. “We should probably run.”
“But what about the traps?” Deven asked.
“We’re in Springtide! None of them can technically hurt you!” Erakir screamed. “But he might be less pleasant! Now get moving!” And much to the kobold’s delight everyone broke into a run… Including Asriel who seemed to be chasing after them.
Multiple traps were sprung. Some kind of strange powder fell out of a bucket on the ceiling. There were small pits filled with a bizarre bubbling liquid. At another point there were darts flung from the wall and something that felt like a crystal dropped on someone’s head. However… Despite these traps, Asriel was a bigger concern and everyone continued running.
And a few seconds later, a darkly colored red panda, a brown fox and a brown rabbit came running out of the cave. A few more seconds, and Asriel came tearing out on all fours before leaping into the air, tackling the rabbit and pinning him to the ground.
“GROOOAAAWRRR!” Asriel had changed more, his eyes were completely black, his mane now went all the way down his back to his tail… Which now instead of being a snake was along thick thing tipped with a spiky plate that looked like it could make a cub. The monster he had become hissed and growled, and then just as quickly as it started, it stopped. “Huh… Where…” Asriel looked around and noticed he had a rabbit pinned beneath him. “You’re not… Guys! I think I found the one who set the trap.”
“You did?” Erakir calmly walked out of the cave, confident the others were distracted by Asriel. “Because I’d like to give him what for.”
“I’m not the one who did it! It’s me!” Deven’s voice came out of the rabbit.
“D-Deven?” Asriel got off the rabbit and slowly stood up. As he looked around, everyone but himself and Erakir had become a different species… Well, he supposed he wasn’t quite his original species either anymore.
“Yeah I’m Deven why would you…” As Deven started to stand up he noticed the fur on his hands. He quickly looked over his shoulder spotting the little cottontail, and then tugged on his own ears. “Huh… Neat.”
“I seem to be back to my normal size.” Toya’s voice came from the red panda as he looked himself over. He grabbed his own tail noticing the stripes on it. “But not the right species.”
“Am I back to normal?” The fox asked in Zeelo’s as he stood up, finding him also back to his proper height. His tail wagged at that prospect, answering his question. “Oh… I kind of really like this tail.”
“You do?” Erakir gave Zeelo a quizzical look. “But you’re a dumb fox now.”
“What?” Zeelo stared at Erakir confused/
“What?” Erakir shrugged. “Everyone knows that foxes are just dumb. It’s just one of the facts of life.”
“Could have been worse… We all made it out in one piece at least.” Deven interrupted Erakir as he looked over the others, realizing he was the shortest now. Only about half as big as the others. “And I can’t say I actually hate this.”
“You don’t?” Erakir sighed. Looks like this wasn’t going to be enough to discourage them. “I mean, I guess that’s good for you!” Come to think of it, he shouldn’t have included a bunny trap. It was too good for them.
“You know it’s strange…” Asriel rubbed his head. “Suddenly I could see in the dark and I feel like… I had some kind of realization right before I lost myself again. It was weird. It felt really important… But it’s all hazy now.”
“Well if you can’t remember, there’s no point dwelling on it! Probably not that important.” Erakir felt the tip of his tail twitch nervously as he realized Asriel had seen him move through the tunnel.
“Hey…” Asriel gave Erakir a questionable glance. “You’re still a kobold. How did you avoid all the traps.”
“Honestly, mostly luck.” Erakir shrugged. “That and I was right behind Toya so he basically triggered all the traps that would have hit me.”
“Wait…. Then why did I come out so much earlier than you?” Toya asked.
“Because you didn’t hit every trap.” Erakir feigned being insulted. “I got dropped down a hole near the exit! By the time I climbed back up, everyone else was out here, and there was enough light shining in for me to see the way. That really hurt you know, couldn’t you hit that one too?”
“So I’d fall into a hole!?” The red panda fixed the kobold with a stare.
“I mean better than me.” Erakir was aware he was coming off like a jerk… But that was better than being suspected of being responsible. “Look, stuff like this is going to be pretty common. If you’re not up for it you can go back. I’m sure the bridge will be fixed in a few days.”
“Go back through the trap infested cave?” Zeelo looked back. “I think I’ll pass.”
“Your choice.” Erakir shrugged. “Just don’t be upset if things get even harder from here on out. Draco isn’t your average Phantom you know.”
“I mean I know he’s a boss, but still.” Deven finally got done looking over his body. “Anyway now that we’re on the other side, I actually think I recognize this place. Looks like that cave took us right through the cliff. I can get them to Draco from here. Thanks for the help.”
“Really? You don’t need me?” Erakir felt himself getting nervous again. “I mean… You sure you know how to get there from this spot? I don’t want you getting lost.”
“Yeah, pretty sure.” Deven pointed into the distance. “I recognize that stream by the woods! We can actually follow it right to the lair.”
“Okay sure but… Um, you know, you might still get turned around.” Erakir suggested.
“Pretty sure we can manage follow the stream.” Toya felt slightly insulted. “But thank you for getting us here.”
“I can’t just let you go!” Erakir shouted. “I mean… Not after seeing all the bridge cut, and that tunnel full of traps! It’d be unethical! Someone is clearly trying to stop you from reaching Draco, and I think the more people you have with you, the better your chances of thwarting them.”
“I mean if he wants to come with, it’s not a big deal right?” As Zeelo spoke he fiddled with the wand behind his back, realizing no one had seen he had it. He quickly pushed it into his own tail fur. “Besides, if he heads back now he’d have to go through the traps again too.”
“That’s right!” Erakir nodded. “And if we find the person who did it, maybe we can force them to disarm the traps.”
“Well, I can see in the dark now, so I can guide you back.” Asriel suggested. “And… You know it occurs to me, if we can do magic at will… Couldn’t we all just turn ourselves into animals that’d be able to see in there?”
“I… Guess…” Erakir stamped his foot. “But I insist on seeing this through to the end! It’s not in my nature to leave anything half finished!”
“Well be my guest.” Deven slung his now larger bag over his shoulder. “But we should get going… Not sure how much time we have before Asriel freaks out again.”
“Was I really that bad?” Asriel tilted his head as they set off.
They were getting close to Draco’s lair. Erakir couldn’t believe it. He must have built like thirty traps for that cave! But still… It wasn’t over. There was still one big trap remaining, and as long as he kept hurrying them along they wouldn’t have time to notice it. Everything would come out fine, especially since this one would make it a lot harder for them to travel.
And as they followed the stream it was coming up. There was another cave coming into view, it was Draco’s lair. Erakir had set his biggest trap right there; it wasn’t his favorite, but it gets the job done. He was sure it’d get all of them and this would all be over. He might even keep some of them as pets after it took effect.
Deven approached the cave entrance and slung his bag on the ground. “Okay, we’re here. Everyone, grab a weapon.” He opened the bag revealing a bunch of wooden swords and toys.
“These are our weapons?” Toya picked up what looked like a plastic light up wand. He pressed a button and it indeed lit up. “How?”
“Phantoms are the opposite of us.” Deven explained. “While we’re impossible to hurt, but easy to transform, Phantoms can’t be transformed but can get hurt even by toys! Which is good since real weapons don’t seem to exist here.” He grabbed a sword for himself.
“That’s neat…” Zeelo picked up a toy bow with suction cup arrows.
“Aren’t you going to take one?” Deven noticed Erakir keeping his distance.
“No thanks, I’m more of a pure mage kind of guy.” Erakir waved a hand. “I’ll be backing you up with the support spells.”
“Cool, we have a healer.” Deven smiled. “Alright, let’s go get him!”
“Indeed!” Erakir smiled. “But you all first, if I’m going to be support I should be in the back row. If I get taken out I can’t exactly heal you.”
“How could you be taken out?” Zeelo tilted his head. “Nothing here can hurt us, right?”
“That’s half true.” Deven explained. “Basically, Phantoms have ways to fight back, and while they can’t physically hurt us, they change us in a number of ways that would prevent us from fighting further. If that happens, you’ve basically lost.”
“So what kind of transformations do we gotta watch out for?” Toya asked.
“Different Phantoms have different things, but you know, it’s the usual kind of stuff.” Erakir chimed in happily at this point. “Turning you into a feral animal that can’t wield your weapons or speak, regressing you all the way to a newborn, shrinking you down till you disappear into the grass, turning you into an egg. The usual stuff.” He couldn’t help but grin slightly as he saw Toya, Zeelo and Asriel all recoil slightly at the last two.
“It’ll be fine.” Deven nodded. “I mean, it’s not like any of it is permanent. So let’s go.”
“Indeed after you.” Erakir was waiting for them to cross the threshold. As soon as they walked into that cave he had won.
“So just go in there, beat up the bad guy and we’re done…” Asriel felt strange as his blood started boiling. Once more, he started to growl and dropped down onto all fours. This time his face pushed out into a longer muzzle revealing he had grown more and sharper fangs. At this point, no trace of his original form remained. “GROOOOOOOOOOAAAAWWR!”
“Not again.” Toya took a step back then paused. “Wait… Maybe we can use this… If he runs in there like that he might just beat the tar out of Draco! Uhhhhh…” the red panda looked around, then quickly grabbed a stick and tossed it into the cave. “Go get it boy!”
“He’s not a dog!” Deven shouted. “How is that going to-“
“GROAAAAAAAWWWWWWWWRL!” Asriel’s eyes focused on the stick and he began to swell in size. He immediately leaped after the stick, snapping it in two with one bite. However, upon landing in the cave, a strange thing started to happen. Instead of continuing to grow, he started shrinking. He didn’t notice at first, as he turned around to face the one who had thrown the stick.
“I don’t think he’s going to help us fight Draco.” Zeelo muttered.
“Hey it was worth a shot!” Toya retorted but then paused. “Wait… Is he going back down to normal size?”
“Groawl?” Asriel paused, the beast knew something was wrong. The prey was suddenly eye level with him… And then even bigger… And bigger until he was looking at their ankles. He didn’t like whatever trick they were up to, and savagely sprung forward intending to attack. “GROAAAAWRL!”
“Gotcha!” Toya snatched the now squirrel sized monster up off the ground and held it back away from him. Asriel snarled and tried to claw at the red panda, but was unable to reach. After a few seconds, the creature seemed to tire itself out… And then Asriel was in control again.
“Groawl?” Asriel was confused as he came to. Why was Toya so big? And why was he holding him… And… “Groawrl grooooawrl grooawl?” WHY COULDN’T HE TALK!?
“I think whatever transformation he was going through is done.” Deven eyed the little creature. “But if we can get you a gold coin, we might at least be able to stop him from going savage so often.”
“In the meantime maybe we should leave him like this.” Toya giggled and tossed Asriel up in the air before catching him. “He’s pretty cute… And can’t do much damage.”
“GROOOOAWL!” Asriel protested at being handled like this.
“Oh calm down it’s fine…” Toya rolled his eyes. “Look you can ride on my shoulders.” He lifted Asriel up over his head and draped the creature around his neck.
“So… Why did he shrink suddenly?” Zeelo asked. “He was getting bigger before he ran into the cave.”
“Must have been part of what happens when the transformation finishes.” Erakir shrugged. “Not much point dwelling on it now. We should hurry inside and take on Draco before he goes wild again. Come on let’s go!”
“Groooaawwwrl!” Asriel suddenly had a moment of realization. This kobold was trying to usher them into the cave, and from what he could judge by the others reaction, apparently he had shrunk this small upon going in… Then… There was something back at the cave… What was it… the traps and… none of them hitting Erakir. If only he could remember… He had seen something… Wait. Seeing?
That was it! The kobold was able to see in the dark! Yet kept that hidden! Why would he have any reason to keep quiet about that though… And be so eager to see them inside… Of course!
“GROAAAAAWRL!” Asriel cried and squirmed around on Toya’s shoulders.
“Hey calm down little guy, you’re going to scratch me up!” Toya protested.
“Is he going feral again? Zeelo asked.
“No I think he’s just worked up over something.’ Toya responded. This is more squeaky upset growling than ‘I’m going to kill you’ growling.
“No, no he’s clearly going feral.” Erakir interrupted. “We don’t have time! We have to defeat Draco now, everyone inside!”
“Something isn’t right…” Deven muttered as he walked over to Toya. “Could you bend down a moment so I could reach.”
“Uh sure…” Toya got down on a knee.
“Thank you.” Deven lifted Asriel up by the scruff and examined him.
“Groawrl?” Asriel went limp in his hand.
“Doesn’t seem very feral to me.” Deven remarked. “And you know… The entire time he was getting more monstrous… Don’t you think it’s a bit strange he shrunk down at the end?”
“It is, sounds like questions to ask whatever fairy cursed him like this to begin with.” Erakir crossed his arms. “He’s still pretty big from a fairy point of view. Maybe they planned to use him as a guard dog back in their home, or even some kind of mount. It doesn’t matter, we can find out later, we need to get moving.”
“Calm down, why are you in so much a hurry?” Zeelo asked.
“Yes…” Toya looked to Asriel then to Erakir. “Why the rush?”
“Just well…” Erakir paused for a moment, then came up with an idea. “Because any one of you could be next! That happened to him when he talked about giving up your fairy quest right? If you stop going forward one of you will be possessed next.”
“Erakir.” Zeelo spoke in a flat tone. “How did you know about that?”
“What? I was with you when it happened!” Erakir realized his mistake as soon as he had said it. His body went rigid.
“You know… I think our guide should go into the cave first.” Toya grinned. “To show us the way.” He stepped closer to Erakir.
“Indeed.” Zeelo stepped forward as well. “You’ve been such a good help, surely you’ll show us the way through his lair.”
“Yes, well… The thing is, I really need to go last, you know support and stuff…” Erakir muttered as he took a few steps back.
“Why do we need a healer in a world we can’t get hurt?” Toya asked.
“Yeah! It’s not important! And with your experience you’ll be far better on the front lines.”
“Well… About that…” Erakir took a step back, and realized somehow they had circled around him so he was now stepping towards the cave entrance. Indeed it was trapped, he had placed another wand there. It was wedged between two rocks. Could he go through without walking in front of it? Unlikely… He had been very careful to aim it to make sure no one could. It looked like he had his back against the wall. “Eh… Forget it..” Erakir ripped off his satchel bag, throwing it at Zeelo and Toya while he pulled long staff out of it at the same time. A staff that was as tall as him, and should have had no way to fit into that bag on his waist. He slammed the staff onto the ground, and the earth beneath him rumbled as the ground rose upward, lifting him ten feet above everyone else.
“I knew something was off with you.” Deven held his sword ready. “But it’s over. You might as well give up and tell us how to get past your little trap. It’s four against one.
“I hardly think the little guy counts anymore.” Erakir rubbed the top of his staff. “And I really don’t think three babies are going to be much of a challenge. I told you, I’m practically four. I’m an adult and thus the smartest one here.”
“That’s not… That’s not how it works.” Deven’s head hurt.
“Get down here and fight fair!” Zeelo loaded one of his suction cup arrows and fired. It struck Erakir straight in the face before bouncing harmlessly off.
“Seriously?” Erakir pointed his staff at Zeelo.
“Uh…” Zeelo took a step back.
“Those toys only work on Phantoms. Against visitors, it’s a battle of magic… And I’m the only one here with a weapon to boost my power.”
“You idiot, you’re not the only caster here.” Deven started to reach for his bag, only for Erakir to turn his staff towards him and fired a beam of light into the ground and between the bag.
“Nuh uh uh.” Erakir shook his head. “A mage you may be, but if you can’t cast, you can’t fight.”
“I don’t need a wand to use magic.” Deven protested.
“True.” Erakir shrugged. “But it’s a big help for boosting your spells. Like if you want to make someone really small. Move one muscle, even think about casting a spell and I’ll make you flea sized.” He kept his staff pointed at Deven. He was going to blast him anyway, but he wanted him to sweat for a bit and think he might get away.
“Ugh…” Deven froze in place while he tried to think. Could he dodge the spell? Maybe… How fast would it be? How big would the blast be?
“Honestly, this really isn’t my style.” Erakir whined. “Direct confrontations are just so boring. You should have just walked into the trap. I’d have kept you as my cherished pets. You would have had it made.”
“Somehow I doubt that.” Zeelo reached behind his back to where the other wand was wedged into his tail fluff.
“Yeah!” Toya took noticed Zeelo was doing something, and so started his own plan. He quickly ran to the other side of the stone column, grabbed a few rocks off the ground and began to throw them up at Erakir.
“Hey…” A rock smacked Erakir in the shoulder, then a second in the chest. “Knock that off. It doesn’t hurt, but it’s really annoying.”
“Yeah well… Maybe if I hit you with enough it’ll knock you down where we can reach you.” Toya stuck his tongue out. “Unless you think you can hit me with that staff first.”
“Cute, but I’m not taking your bait.” Erakir shrugged. “You can’t actually do anything like the little rabbit over there. Nice try, but this tactic isn’t going to accomplish anything.”
“Oh yeah?” The red panda grinned. “It sure kept you distracted for a few seconds.”
“Distracted from wha-“ Erakir shifted his gaze and saw Zeelo holding one of his own magic wands now pointed at him. He recognized it as one he had set up in the caves. He had pre-charged it with at least ten different spells. “Put that down, you don’t even know how it works.”
“You’re right. I don’t.” Zeelo grinned. “And somehow I suspect that’s going to be a lot worse for you than me. You might want to drop the staff.”
“Better do what he says.” Deven shouted cheekily. “If not who knows what you’ll end up as.”
“Children really should respect their elders.” Erakir sighed.
“You’re not actually older than us!” Deven shouted.
“Yes I am!” Erakir shouted annoyed… But as everyone expected him to fire at Deven, he swung his staff around and pointed it at Zeelo. “Bye fox boy.” A blast of purple light erupted from his staff.
“Don’t say I didn’t warn you!” As far as Zeelo could tell, magic was something based on belief or something here… And he was told since he hadn’t cast a spell or built anything, he could use both magical devices and scientific equipment. That meant he could use this! Or at least he hoped. He poured all of his will into it, and a bright beam of white light shot from his wand.
The two beams of lights met midway between the two, creating a shockwave that knocked both of them backwards… For Zeelo, this meant simply falling back onto his butt. For Erakir, it meant falling off his column.
“Hey… Guess what.” Toya was waiting for him as he fell. “I have a wand too!” He pressed the button on his light up wand and pointed it at Erakir as a big cloud of sparkling dust shot out from it.
“Gah glitter!” Erakir shrieked. “No fair, it’s getting everywhere and-“ He paused, realizing he was shrinking… But not just in size, what little development he had was being undone. He was getting younger! “Hey no fair! I’m practically four you can’t do this to me!” He whined as he wobbled back and forth then fell onto all fours, dropping his staff, his bag and scarf slipping right off him.
“Practically zero now.” Toya grinned.
“Guess that’s that.” Deven walked over still holding Asriel, while looking at their handiwork. “That was some quick thinking.”
“Groawrl!” Asriel squeaked his approval.
“Thanks.” Zeelo met them over there and exchanged a high five with Toya.
“So… What do we do with him now?” Zeelo knelt down to be eye level with Erakir. “Feels wrong to just leave him here.”
“I say we toss him through the cave entrance and see what happens.” Toya grinned.
“I don’t know…” Zeelo wondered. “That seems a bit mean.”
“Rawr.” Erakir gave a squeak roar, too young to properly talk now. However, it had not escaped his attention that Zeelo was now kneeling between him and the cave door… And he had been looking for a chance to push the dumb fox into one of his traps. He didn’t have a staff, and he couldn’t talk… But it didn’t mean he couldn’t work some basic magic. He held up both hands at Zeelo and gave a shout. “Abwuh bwuh!” And as he did a gust of wind erupted from him, pushing Zeelo back.
“Arrrgh!” More by instinct than design, Zeelo reached out trying to grab something to keep from being blown away. The only thing he got was one of Erakir’s outstretched hands, and both fox and kobold went flying through the cave entrance, and both began to shrink in size.
“Bwuuuuuuuuuuuuh!” Erakir protested as he was reduced down to a single inch tall.
“Whoa….” Zeelo stood up, about two inches, and looked around at how big the cave now looked. The only thing still small to him… Was Erakir. “That was a mean trick.” He put his hands on a hips. “But you’re got yourself too. Think it’s time someone put you in a time out.”
“Roawr! Abwuh!” Erakir stuck his tongue out. What he wanted to say, was to ask if Zeelo knew what happened when you stacked a mouse transformation on top of a shrinking spell. He couldn’t manage any words, but he suspected he’d get the idea soon enough as he held out his hands and released another wave of magic.
“Hey… Stop that!” Zeelo squeaked as he suddenly noticed himself starting to shrink… And the fur was fading from his tail.
“Zeelo!” Toya could just make out what was happening. He quickly pressed the button on his wand and ran through into the cave after them.
“GROOOAWRL!” Asriel tried to protest not to do it… But was too late as Toya was soon shrunken down to mouse sized, dropping his wand.
“Dang it…” Toya’s ears flattened.
“Squeak!?” Zeelo meanwhile had shrunk so small he was barely more than an insect! He had become a mouse, a plain ordinary one that couldn’t talk or walk on two legs. He was also a very small mouse, having shrunk to be mouse sized in comparison to his previous size.
“Abuwh!” Erakir spoke which translated to ‘one down.’ He turned his attention to Toya. It looked like he was going to be making a lot of mice today.
“Squeeeak!” Zeelo ran to Toya’s ankle trying to warn him. Toya’s eyes widened as he grabbed the tiny Zeelo and leaped behind a pebble to avoid a blast of Erakiri’s magic.
“I can’t believe I’m running from an infant.” Toya looked down at Zeelo cupped in his hands. “Don’t suppose you have any ideas?”
“Squeak.” Zeelo gave him a deadpan look.
“Right…” Toya muttered.
“Abuwh bwuh rooawr!” Erakir wanted to taunt Toya by giving him a choice between a mouse and a rat. After all, he wasn’t an unreasonable kobold. Sadly, not being able to talk was really hindering his evil banter. He crawled towards Toya and prepared to unleash another spell.
Only to suddenly fill a chill as a shadow fell over him.
“Groooawr.” A squeaky growl came from Asriel, that to any normal person would have been adorable. To someone as small as Erakir though? The squirrel sized monster was massive and intimidating. And he was right behind him.
“Abu bwah?” Erakir attempted ask how he got in without shrinking smaller as he tried to move away. He wasn’t physically capable of getting away before Asriel bit down on his tail and lifted the baby kobold into the air. “Bwuuuh.” Erakir crossed his arms.
“Good timing…” Toya stepped up. “But… How did you get in unchanged.”
“He saw the trap.” Deven had stepped into the cave as well. “When you dove in, he saw something and went crazy. Jumped right out of my hands as he climbed up the side of the stone wall… Then he pulled a wand out from between two rocks and snapped it in half.”
“Groawrl!” Asriel held himself high, or at least as high has he could, proud of his achievement. He dropped Erakir on the ground and looked over to his other two smaller friends to see if they were alright.
“So not sure Zeelo is going to be much help in the fight.” Toya held up the very tiny mouse. “But we’re both here.”
“Squeak!” Zeelo bristled indignantly, he’d like to know how Toya planned to help.
“Like this!” Toya placed Zeelo atop his head then ran forward and climbed atop of Asriel’s back. “By riding my new noble steed into battle.” After getting himself
“Groawrl.” Asriel rolled his eyes.
“Draco shouldn’t put up too much trouble.” Deven muttered. “I think Erakir was a bigger pr-“ He looked around. “Wait, where did he go?” Everyone looked around realizing the kobold had gone. “For such a small little guy he can get away fast.”
“It doesn’t matter.” Toya responded. “If he’s gone he’s not in our way he’s dealt with. Come on! Onward Asriel! Into battle!” He pulled back on Asriel’s main.
“Groaawrl.” Asriel sighed and began to trot forward.
“Hey you’re supposed to sprint gallantly! Not just trot!” Toya objected.
“Squeak!” Zeelo stuck his tongue out.
“Don’t you start.” Toya didn’t need to see or understand him to know the mouse was being cheeky.
“Let’s go ahead and finish this quest.” Deven strolled back and picked up his bag. He didn’t even notice the tiny baby kobold that had slipped into one of the side pockets, who was now quietly plotting his revenge. “Draco is just ahead.”
Draco’s lair was exactly what one would expect a dragon’s lair to be. An enormous cavern filled with gold coins, gemstones, and all kinds of treasure… As well as something else hidden by a green tarp. The only thing it was missing was the actual dragon.
“I don’t get it… Where is it?” Toya asked.
“There.” Deven pointed at the tarp and held his sword ready.
“Beneath the tarp?” Toya asked.
“No it is-“ Deven didn’t get a chance to explain before the tarp slowly rose into the air. There was nothing beneath it, and yet it began to take on a distinctive shape as if it was now pressed firmly against the body of a large horned beast with wings.
“Is he invisible under the tarp or something?” Toya asked as he felt Asriel take a step back.
“He is the tarp.” Deven explained as he charged straight forward brandishing his sword. “Just start hitting him with whatever you can and don’t stop!” As he struck the tarp with his sword, it felt as if he had actually hit a massive beast.
Draco let out a roar, turning his attention to Deven. It opened its mouth, or at least the part that looked like a mouth and released a torrent of flames.
“Rawr!” Erakir climbed out of Deven’s bag at this point. It was the moment of his revenge! Right in front of Draco he’d take down Deven with a spell and the entire team would fall apart and-
And both Deven and Erakir were engulfed in flames.
“Deven!” Toya shouted.
“I’m fine.” Deven’s voice came from inside the fire, as the flames vanished, the bunny was gone, replaced by a small baby dragon with green scales. “And… I think I could get used to this.” He began to flap his wings as he took off into the air.
Meanwhile, no one even noticed the small white and blue speckled egg that rolled out of Deven’s bag and into a pile of coins.
“So his breath just turns you into a dragon? That doesn’t seem so bad. In fact, that’s a bit of an upgrade for Zeelo.” Getting an idea he kicked at Asriel’s sides to get him to charge.
“Groawrl!” Asriel protested, not enjoying being treated like a horse.
“Sorry… Just…. Charge. I have a plan.”
Asriel looked at the tarp dragon that was a hundred times bigger than him, and then turned his head around to look at Toya. Was he crazy? Well… It was a crazy world. He started charging.
“HEEEEEEEEEEEEEY!” Toya shouted at the top of his lungs. “Come on right here! Come and get it!” The dragon turned its head and inhaled again. “Alright Asriel hard right now!”
“GROOOAWRL!” Asriel listened and turned. At the same time, Toya grabbed Zeelo from atop his head, and tossed him straight up into the air.
“SQUEEEEEEEEEAK!?” Zeelo hadn’t been expecting this, and while Asriel and Toya escaped the flames, Zeelo was caught inside. However, Tota had been counting on that… As Zeelo transformed again and grew wings, instinct took over as they started flapping and kept the brown scaled dragon in the air.
“Rawr!” Zeelo called out happily realizing what had happened. Then he paused, realizing he still couldn’t talk, was still a quadruped, and was still smaller than a picnic ant. “Roawr?”
“Well… It’s some improvement!” Toya shouted. “You can fly around now.”
“RAWR!” Zeelo understood. He flew up towards Draco, inhaling himself and releasing a small flame that wasn’t even enough to light a match. And yet Draco still reacted to it, recoiling as if in pain. This could be quite the boon. He bet he was too small for the thing to track or hit him.
“You know… Maybe we should have let ourselves get hit.” Toya squinted to try and see the tiny dragon. “We might actually be able to contribute more if we could fly and breath fire too.”
“Groawrl?” Asriel couldn’t believe what he was hearing. He was going to suggest they just leap into the fire now? Still… He made a point… And despite his brain loudly screaming ‘bad idea’ Asriel rationally understood the fire wouldn’t physically harm them.
Draco was having difficulty fighting Zeelo, so was mostly focusing his efforts on Deven. While Deven would occasionally throw out a blue fireball, he seemed to prefer relying on his sword and flying directly under Draco or behind him to stay away from his head. The Phantom dragon inhaled and shot its fire breath out again, but Deven had already flown behind him.
“Here’s our chance! Go Asriell!” Toya shouted.
Asriel couldn’t believe he was doing this as he leaped forward into the flames . A moment later, a now black scaled humanoid dragon Toya took to the air! Meanwhile… Asriel was completely unchanged.
“Groawrl?” He looked at himself. It looked like whatever curse or spirit possessing him right now took priority over the flames. He sighed, and instead charged for Draco’s tail, biting the tip of it.
“This is a ton of fun!” Toya flew under Draco and flew a tiny fireball at him. Again, the dragon reacted just as it had to Zeelo’s.
“RAWR!” Zeelo agreed.
“Yeah… I should have come and gotten myself breathed on months ago.” Deven flapped above Draco happily.
“Rawr rawr!” Zeelo chirped. Despite how small he was, he couldn’t deny how fun it was to zip around in the air like that.
“Ah! Incoming! Out of the way!” Deven dove beneath Draco just in time to dodge the flames. Zeelo attempted to do the same, but the distance was a lot greater for him, and he was engulfed in flames a second time… And now instead of a very tiny dragon, there was a very tiny kobold, with no wings to help him fly.
“Roooaaaaaaawr!” Zeelo squeaked as he started to fall towards the ground.
“Zeelo I’m coming!” Toya dove downward, just barely managing to scoop Zeelo up before he hit the ground. “Gotcha. What just happened, I thought the fire just made us dragons.”
“First hit it does.” Deven struck Draco directly on the head. “But second hit is kobold.”
“And third?” Toya started gaining altitude again.
“Egg.” Deven said simply.
“Of course…” Toya grimaced as he flew in a circle around Draco’s neck, firing off as many fireballs as he could. “How long does this take!”
“Shouldn’t be too much more! Just stay on your toes! Erm wings. Or, whatever and -eep!” Deven dove straight down just in time to dodge another stream of Draco’s fire.
“Rawr!” Zeelo squeaked in surprise, relieved Deven had dodged it.
“Don’t worry Zeelo, we’re too fast and too small for him to get us with his-“ Toya didn’t finish his sentence before Draco turned his head and fired straight at them. Toya didn’t have time to react before he suddenly found himself wingless midair, now a kobold, and holding a tiny brown egg in his hands. “Uh oh.” He fell towards the ground.
“GROAWRL!” Asriel jumped off of Draco’s tail seeing his allies fall. He dashed across the cavern, climbing over piles of gold and dove underneath the two just in time to catch them! And… The impact didn’t hurt at all. That was right… They probably wouldn’t have been hurt by the fall being so small… And also this world’s rules.
“Thanks Asriel…” Toya squeaked. It seemed that he appreciated the save either way. He sat up on Asriel’s back then looked down at the egg that was Zeelo. “Sorry Zeelo… for what it’s worth I’ll make sure no one tries to turn you into an omelet.” The egg shook as if responding to that. It seemed Zeelo was still alive inside the egg.
“Hey don’t stop moving or you’re going to be taking an egg nap too!” Deven shouted.
“R-right!” Toya pointed at the Phantom. “Alright Asriel! Let’s get him!”
“GROAAAAAAAAAAAWRRL!” Asriel charged up a mountain of gold, before leaping onto a scepter, scaling it up to jump along the tap of a golden harp, and then springing off from that mountain of treasure at Draco just as the Phantom ran by. With four sets of claws and one set of teeth Asriel dug into what would have been the throat of Draco, and with savage squeaking began to tear as hard as he could.
“Yeah get him Asriel!” Toya grinned.
“Just a few more hits will do it!” Deven shouted. “Don’t let up and… “GAH!” he had dove under another blast of fire, but Draco had apparently bit expecting this, and slammed its tail into a pile of gemstones, sending them flying up into the air, toppling Deven and bringing them down to the ground. “Ugggh.” He groaned, now half buried beneath gemstones, and then blinked as one landed in front of his face. “Shiny…” He began to paw at it.
“Uh… Deven? I think you need to focus and…” Toya looked up, seeing Draco was getting ready to release its breath again. They were about to lose their last dragon in this fight. “Asriel, take care of Zeelo!” Toya tied some of the hair from Asriel’s mane into knots to hold Zeelo’s against his back. Then Toya himself jumped from Asriel’s back, grabbing onto the tarp and digging his claws in.
“Groawrl!” Asriel’s eyes widened.
“Don’t worry!” Toya shouted. “I have no plan and no idea what I’m doing! So technically… Nothing can go wrong!” He began to slowly climb atop the dragon. His kobold claws were pretty effective for that, as he slowly made his way to the top of the neck and then up to Draco’s head. He only had moments until Deven was a kobold too. He had to do something fast. “HEY DRACO! Take this!” Toya slammed his foot down as hard as he could atop Draco’s head, making sure he dug in claws first.
Suddenly, Draco’s entire body went rigid, as if he couldn’t believe what was actually happening… Then the Phantom flung his own head upward, dislodging both Asriel and Toya. Asriel fell down into a pile of gold, while Toya flew up into the air.
“Shoot, shoot, shoot, shoot.” Toya started flapping his arms trying to slow his fall as he saw Draco look straight up at him and unleash more fire.
And then a small black egg fell out of the sky, landing on Draco’s head with a bonk. The Phantom went rigid again, but this time collapsed. That final bonk had been just enough. After a moment, the tarp lost its shape and went back to being just a normal tarp.
“We won!” Deven was roused to his senses when he saw the Phantom fall. “Wait… Where are Zeelo and Toya.”
“Groooaawwrl.” Asriel ran up to Deven, and quickly climbed up onto his shoulders. He then leaned his head down in front of the dragon’s head. Deven stared confused for a moment, but then he saw the very tiny egg tangled up in Asriel’s fur..
“There’s one…” Deven carefully picked the egg out. “Guessing that’s Zeelo… Did you see where Toya landed? I’m pretty sure he got egged… But I didn’t actually see what he looked like… I have no idea what his egg looks like, so check everything.
“Grooaawrl.” Asriel groaned. This treasure hoard would take forever to search through.
“But hey…. You can take as many gold coins as you want now!” Deven grinned. “So your quest is complete.” As he spoke, he grabbed a coin, and suddenly ripped into it to Asriel’s horror! Then the wrapper fell away, revealing the coin to be made of chocolate. “Mmmmmm.”
“Groawr?” Asriel’s eyes widened. It wasn’t even real gold!? What had he come all this way for.
“You seem surprised.” The familiar voice of a young female was directly behind Asriel. “But, why would it be anything else. Chocolate is a much better prize than some dumb old rock.” She flew down past Asriel before grabbing a single coin. “And payment received.”
“So that’s the fairy…” Deven muttered. “So what kind of reward do they get for doing this for you?”
“Oh they’ve gotten their reward!” The fairy grinned. “I promised they would understand everything they needed about this world when they finished this quest, and I do believe they get the picture.” And with that, the fairy created a bright flash of light and disappeared.
“Typical fairy.” Deven snorted. “Still, you shouldn’t have to worry about going berserk again.”
“Groawrl?” Asriel looked over his body. Why was he still a monster then.
“Don’t worry, if you’re here long enough you’ll wind up something else eventually.” Deven grinned. “Now come on, let’s find Toya’s egg.”
The two dug around in the gold coins for hours. There was just so much to search, and the egg they were looking for was no bigger than a chicken egg. It could be buried underneath anything.
“FOUND IT!” Deven cried triumphantly after dumping out a sack of gold coins to reveal a blue and white egg. “Huh… Blue and white. Guessing that’s some kind of sky dragon? Think that means he’ll have feathered wings.”
“Groawrl.” Asriel just shrugged.
“I guess they’d probably hatch into kobolds actually.” Deven pouted. “So no wings. Well I can make them dragon playmates later. He went back to his bag and carefully put the blue egg into a pocket, and then even more carefully put the very tiny brown egg in. “They’ll be warm in there till they hatch. Will probably just take a few days.”
“Groawrl!” Asriel climbed up to perch atop Deven’s head.
“Eh, I have no idea what to do now.” Deven hummed to himself. “Maybe we should check out another area. By the time we get there they might have even hatched. Come on, I’ve heard there’s a pirate place south of the meadow!” Deven slung the bag over his shoulder and prepared to walk out. He paused for a moment, snatched the earlier gemstone that had distracted him. It was rock candy! He took a bite and then headed out of the cave.
Deven and Asriel were on to the next adventure. As would the eggs be eventually.
None of them knew there had been three eggs in the room, and the black egg containing Toya lay forgotten, hidden underneath a golden goblet.
Well, not forgotten by everyone.
“I thought they’d never leave.” The fairy had appeared again and she slowly flapped down to Toya’s egg. “I wonder if they’ll realize their mistake when that little imp hatches. Doesn’t matter.” She placed one hand on the egg. “I have a new game planned for you.” And with another flash of light, both fairy and egg were gone.