Age Regression YCH story. Characters appearing in the story belong to their respective owners. A group of adventurers try to enter a dragon’s lair to steal his treasure but soon find themselves reduced to infants.
Nothing got the attention of adventurers faster than the failure of other adventurers. When rumors began to spread of an impossible to clear dungeon of course it got everyone’s attention. The fact that any adventurer who went into the dungeon was never seen again just made it even more enticing! After all… Anyone who picked the life of an adventurer saw themselves as the main character in their own head. If a thousand adventurers failed before then it only meant they were going to get an even bigger reward for their success!
And that was why four adventurers currently stood at the entrance of a cave.
“So this is supposed to be the place?” One of the adventurers was a light blue colored dragon named Koda. He was dressed lightly in leathers and carrying a massive glaive. “Doesn’t appear to be much. Just a cave.”
“Well yeah, that’s because it is a cave. A lot of dungeons are. You have to go inside before you see the dangerous parts little bro.” The second member took a teasing tone with the dragon. He was a griffin by the name of Orion. He had a blue and red beak while his feathers and fur were a combination of white and black. Unlike most griffins he lacked proper wings. He wore a heavy red duster over his armor that helped conceal both the blades and firearms he was carrying.
“Fear not, noble comrades!” The third member of the party was a blue and black rabbit named Arzure. He was shorter than the griffin and dragon, but thanks to his clunky chainmail and flowing cape he almost seemed to take up more space. “No matter what monsters await us within, my trusty sword will keep you all safe!”
“Might want to rely on more than a sword.” The final member of the crew was a snow leopard with black hair. He was more lightly dressed than the others, not even having a proper shirt to go with his trousers. However he carried a small rapier at his size and a small bit of magical energy crackled from his left paw as he looked at the cave entrance. “Supposedly this is protected by both a powerful curse and a ferocious dragon. No one who’s entered has ever been seen again.” As he finished speaking he held up his hand that was crackling with energy. The energy gathered into a ball that he fired into the cave entrance. It created a large glowing orb that lit up the inside making it possible to see. “After you, sir knight.”
“Onward!” Arzure didn’t hesitate a moment as he charged in once the cave was lit up.
“Hey, even if there is a dragon, we’ve got our own, right?” Orion grinned as he hung an arm around his adoptive brother’s shoulder. “I’m sure we can handle anything inside.”
“Right! If there’s another dragon just leave it to me!” Koda smiled as both him and Orion headed into the cave.
“There’s a bit of difference between a civilized dragon that walks on two legs and a ferocious city-leveling monster.” Grey shrugged. “But if you want to charge in and set off any traps before me, go right ahead.” He flashed a playful smile before taking up the rear and following the rest inside.
Meanwhile, far back in the deepest sections of the dungeon, a creature began to stir. It had slumbered for who knew how long… Actually probably not that long. Adventurers were starting to become a regular thing here. Either way, it was awakened from its less-than-eternal slumber as it sensed the four adventurers crossing the threshold.
“Roooawr.” The dragon and master of this dungeon growled. More people had come after his treasure? Come to think of it, that really had to be like the third time this week. Well… He supposed if they were here for that… Then perhaps him and his minions could play with them for awhile.
The three minions in question appeared crawling on all fours before the dragon’s throne. Like proper monstrous minions, they kept to the shadows, not revealing their true natures yet. This was important protocol. Sure, everyone here knew who everyone else was and what they looked like… But any meeting between an overlord and his most elite minions was required to have a certain level of mystique. You just weren’t a proper overlord if you didn’t have shadowy meetings where all anyone could see was each other’s glowing eyes. Glowing eyes was another important part of being an overlord or one of his monstrous minions. The dragon was surprised how few people had understood that when he first started recruiting!
But their previous problems didn’t matter. Now they were the perfect force for stopping the heroes. The dragon gestured with his claws, giving the orders they understood. He would send the monsters out one by one to stop the heroes. The one by one part was important. You couldn’t send all your elite monsters out after an adventuring party at the same time! It wasn’t sporting! It simply wasn’t done! No, one at a time was the only way to do it.
But before even the first battle could begin, there was one more matter to attend to. The adventurers had entered his threshold, and that meant they were going to play by his rules. The dragon smiled a wicked grin and he let out his loudest roar.
Closer to the entrance of the cave the four adventurers had progressed without resistance. The cave so far appeared as a normal cave. Typically in these dungeons it wasn’t uncommon to see skulls decorating the walls or strange tribal shrines. The place seemed largely empty… They hadn’t encountered a monster or even a single gold coin of treasure.
“We are sure this is the right cave, right?” Grey asked as he looked around. No one got a chance to answer before a loud roar echoed throughout the tunnel.
“Guess that answers that.” Orion looked thoughtful. “But… It sounded higher pitched than I’d expect… Maybe because it’s bouncing off the walls and ugh…” The griffin seized up and suddenly buckled over onto all fours.
“Orion!” Koda gave a shout before rushing over to him. “What’s-” His eyes suddenly widened as he felt a strange pressure in his own gut and he too fell onto his hands and knees.
“What’s wrong!?” Arzure asked as he looked at the other two alarmed. It wasn’t long before he felt the same sensation and fell to his knees. “Ugggh my stomach… What is this!?”
“It’s got to be the curse!” Grey shouted. “Whatever it is… We’ve got to come up with some way… Ugh…” The snow leopard fell down to one knee as he began to feel its effects too. “What’s going on!?” As he spoke his voice cracked and became higher pitched. He noticed his trousers were slipping off his waist. “Am… Am I getting smaller?”
It wasn’t just him. All four adventurers were shrinking. They soon began to feel the weight of their own armor and weapons as their dwindling bodies became much physically weaker.
“Don’t think it’s just smaller…” Orion muttered. He couldn’t help but marvel at the sound of his own voice and how much higher pitched. He had noticed he wasn’t just getting smaller, his figure was changing. Years of adventuring had resulted in a toned and well fit body. His entire figure was becoming rounder, softer. Like when was much, much younger. “We’re getting younger!”
“What the heck!?” Arzure gave a shout. The bunny was the heaviest dressed, being in a full suit of armor, and he now felt its weight. He collapsed completing onto the ground as his shrinking body disappeared entirely into his armor.
“How- how do we stop it!?” Koda squeaked as dropped his glaive and his leathers slipped onto the floor around him. His scales were starting to change color as well. They were losing their blue hue and becoming completely white.
“Ugh! It started when we heard the dragon’s roar!” Grey squeaked as he fell down onto his stomach. “Maybe if we can defeat the dragon it’ll reverse!” At this statement everyone (other than Arzure who was stuck inside his armor) turned and looked at Koda.
“I’m sure he means the other drag-aawwwr!” Koda’s voice squeaked before he could finish his sentence. He had aged backwards all the way through childhood and back into his baby years. “Roooooawr rawr!” He tried again to finish his sentence… But now no words came out.
“MOW!” Grey’s eyes widened as he realized the problem. The snow leopard’s eyes managed to get even wider when he realized he was incapable of speech too. He crawled out of his trousers and over to the others to look around. “Meooow mrow!”
“Squawk?” Like the others Orion was also left without his voice. The now baby griffin managed to crawl out from underneath his own clothing and looked around in confusion.
“S-squeak…” Arzure squirmed out from the top of his armor and crawled over to the others on all fours. All of them had been reduced to mere infants! Not one among them could be a day over six months old. All of them were naked of their weapons, armor and even basic clothing as they sat there unsure of how to proceed.
“Caawwwwww.” Orion whined as he crawled over to his duster and tried to lift the now giant jacket back onto his shoulders.
“Rawr…” Koda seemed despondent at first, not sure what to do. The fact that they couldn’t use words to communicate wasn’t helping.
“Squeak!” Arzure tried to lift everyone’s spirits. The bunny waved his arms wildly, even when it caused him to flop down onto his face. He pushed himself back up and began to squeak more. “Squeeeak squeak!”
“Rawr?” Koda tilted his head.
“Squeak!” Arzure nodded. The bunny quickly crawled over to his discarded armor and began to tug at the cape on it. It took a few seconds but he was eventually able to pull the fabric loose. He hung the now-giant cape around his shoulders and began to crawl deeper into the dungeon. “Squeeeak squeak squeak!”
“Mroooow.” Grey couldn’t help but laugh at the small bunny. Even in this state he was hoping to continue their journey. It was ridiculous. Although… He looked down at his paws and he managed to create a tiny bit of sparkly energy. It would seem in this state he wasn’t completely without power. “Meow!” He nodded and decided to crawl after Arzure.
“R-rawr!” Koda couldn’t help but get excited at the other two’s gumption.
“Caaaaaaw…” Orion on the other hand was a little more self conscious about his current situation.
“RAAAAAWR!” Koda nosed Orion teasingly. “Raawr roawr!” He then bopped the griffin lightly on the head. Orion didn’t need words to understand he was being insulted.
“Squawk!” Orion responded angrily! He began to crawl after the two… Then paused and picked up the edge of his duster in his beak. He then continued slowly after the others dragging the coat along with him.
“Roawr!” Koda smiled and wagged his tail as he followed after his brother.
At their current age, no one was capable of moving exceptionally fast. Then there was the problem of their bodies now being quite a bit more vulnerable as mere infants. Yet… Strangely enough, neither turned out to be an issue. The cave was oddly orderly. Someone had gone to the trouble of chipping away any sharp and pointy rocks that might have injured the crawling infants. The place was even clean! It was hard to imagine how someone swept a dirt floor in a cave, but it had been done. And they didn’t have long to crawl before they reached a large opening in the cave. There was a large chest sitting in the very center… large in comparison to the adventurers, at least.
“Squeak!” Arzure’s eyes lit up at seeing the chest and he began to crawl for it.
“Mrowl mow!” Grey held up a paw suspecting a trap. Yet despite the snow leopard’s caution the bunny didn’t let up and continued for the chest.
And then the trap was sprung.
A scaled creature had been waiting behind the treasure chest. At first glance, it looked similar in nature to a dragon like koda. However it was smaller, covered with brownish red scales and lacked any proper wings. It was a kobold! Though one that crawled on all fours… And in fact appeared to be a six month old just like the adventurers! Like them he was also naked of any gear or clothing… Except for a large plastic key that was tied around his neck on a string. The kobold crawled out from behind the chest, then immediately began to flail out Arzure and tackled the bunny! At least… He crawled up to him and clumsily flopped onto him.
“Squeeeak!” Arzure let out a shocked noise as he was pinned down beneath the baby kobold…. Who was about the same size as the bunny… Making him slightly smaller than everyone else in the room.
“One of the dragon’s many minions is the former human, now a kobold, Zeelo! Previously a boring adult, Zeelo was enticed to become one of the dragon’s minions by being offered a share of the treasure! Under the dragon’s influence he has been freed of both his humanity and his maturity, becoming the perfect agent to stop would-be heroes who dared enter the dragon’s lair!”
Everyone including Zeelo and Arzure paused at this. They each looked around the room in confusion trying to figure out where the noise was coming from. None of them were old enough to be capable of speech… And there didn’t seem to be anyone else around.
“Raaaaawr!” Zeelo recovered his composure first and resumed his attack on Arzure. This largely consisted of flailing at the rabbit he had pinned and chewing on one of his ears.
“Squeak squeak!”Arzure squirmed and tried to dislodge the kobold.
“ROOOOOAWR!” Koda seeing his ally in trouble crawled into action.
“Squawk!” Orion wasn’t far behind him. Though without weapons the rogue griffin was a bit more reluctant to engage a foe in direct combat… Even if it was just a small kobold.
“R-rawr!?” Zeelo looked across the cave and saw the two figures slowly charging for him, as well as the snow leopard who was just content to watch. He then looked down at himself and seemed to blush as if suddenly self-conscious once he realized how many people there were. Suddenly the kobold released the bunny from his grip, crawled off of him and behind the treasure box to hide.
“Caw?” Orion tilted his head and looked in the direction the kobold had gone in confusion.
“ROAWR!” Koda on the other hand didn’t pause and gave chase after the kobold as he crawled behind the chest as well.
“Squeak squeak squeeeeeak!” Arzure, furious at how quickly he had been disabled was ready to go at the kobold. In an instant he was on his feet! Or… at least on his hands and knees! As he also gave chase! He followed after Koda as the both of them found Zeelo hiding behind the chest.
“Raaaaawr!” Zeelo gave a shout and covered his snout with his hands. He then began to crawl away from them around the other side of the chest.
Arzure and Koda made no attempt to slow down! They chased Zeelo around the chest, even as the three of them began to just circle the treasure chest over and over again.
“Mow?” Gray slowly crawled up to where Orion had stopped and gave the griffin a questioning look.
“Caw?” Orion merely shrugged and gestured at the three figures chasing each other in confusion.
“Meow mroooow!” Gray couldn’t help himself. He let out some mad giggles as he watched the chase. He rolled onto his back and continued to laugh as he watched the spectacle.
“Squeeeeak!” Arzure gave a battle cry but realized the chase had begun to become pointless. No matter how fast he and Koda tried to go they gained no distance on the baby kobold. “Squeeeak!” He tugged on Koda’s tail as he came to a stop.
“R-rawr?” Koda paused and looked back at Arzure. Meanwhile Zeelo continued crawling on, happy to get away from the two.
“Squeak squeaaaak!” Arzure gestured at himself and then in the direction Zeelo was crawling. He then gestured at Koda and pointed in the opposite direction.
“ROAWR!” Koda nodded eagerly to indicate his understanding… And then began crawling in the direction Zeelo had gone in.
“S-squeak!” Arzure gave a sigh as he watched the dragon go. Then he turned around to crawl the opposite direction around the chest. This resulted in him coming nearly face to face with Zeelo.
“R-r-raaaawr!” Zeelo shouted in shock upon seeing Arzure. He rolled over onto his stomach as he tried to scratch at the ground to turn around. He managed to get back onto his hands and knees just in time to see Koda coming from the opposite direction. “R…rawr…” And with that both the dragon and the bunny were atop the kobold.
“Squeeeeak!” Arzure was delighted for his chance at revenge. Now wrestling atop the kobold, he began to bite down upon its tail.
“Rrrrrrrr.” Koda growled as he did his best to hold his arms around the kobold’s head.
“Raaaaawr! Raaaaawr!” Zeelo shouted in protest. But it was no good. They had him and he couldn’t escape. He struggled against the two heroes for a few seconds before finally going completely limp.
“Squeak?” After the kobold stopped moving Arzure released its tail. He looked at Koda who let go as well and took a few steps back.
“Rawr.” The kobold flopped on the floor and let his tongue hang out. He was dead! Then suddenly he came back to life as he seemed to remember something important! The kobold sat up, removed the key from around his neck and set it between the bunny and dragon, and then flopped back onto the floor as if dead and let his tongue hang out again.
“Mow…” The snow leopard finally recovered from his laughing fit and crawled over to examine the work of his two allies. He looked at Arzure and Koda and then slowly poked the kobold with one finger.
“Rawr!” The kobold squeaked… And then went limp again. Grey looked to the knight and barbarian who in return just shrugged.
“Caaaw!” Orion took charge at this moment. The griffin grabbed the plastic key that Zeelo had dropped. He crawled over to the chest and shoved the key into the lock. There was a clicking noise and the top of the chest sprung open.
All four infants crawled up to the chest and braced themselves against the side so they could see inside of it. Inside the chest… Were new weapons! They were swords! Small and lightweight enough for each of them to use despite their size! Except… The blade of the swords all appeared to be made of foam!
“Caw?” Orion tilted his head as he looked unimpressed with what he saw.
“Squeeeak!” Arzure smiled happily. He took one of the swords out of the box then held it above his head. With his giant cape trailing behind him and a sword in hand he felt like a proper knight again! Without hesitating the baby bunny crawled onward into the dungeon ready for the next trial.
“Meoooow.” Gray shrugged, took a sword and followed after Arzure. Koda and Orion retrieved their own foam weapons before continuing on as well.
All that was left in the cave was Zeelo, the now completely and totally dead kobold. After about a minute passed the kobold suddenly sat up. He looked around to make sure the cave was actually empty. Seeing that it was, he closed the chest, pulled the key out, hung it around his neck, and then crawled back behind the chest to hide until he was needed again.
Meanwhile the party had reached another large cave. Again this one had a single treasure chest in the center of it. This time instead of lurking in the shadows, their enemy stood out in the open. Perched atop the chest was a creature of legend.
The behemoth. A massive creature that could topple buildings. With devilish horns sticking from its head, wing-like fins from its back and massive fangs and claws there was no mistaking a creature like this. A strong thick tail tipped with sharp spikes on the end. Of course… This one was a bit smaller than normal behemoths. After all it was still in its infancy, and was only about one and a half times the size as the adventurers. She also had cream colored fur instead of the usual purple… But she let out a roar as she saw the adventurers enter indicating she was ready for combat.
“Sinopa. Another of the dragon overlord’s three minions. Once a fox-boar hybrid, the dragon’s magic has transformed her into an unstoppable behemoth. Unlike many others, Sinopa needed no bribe or offering to enlist her services. She joined with the dragon overlord of her own free will purely for the excitement. She battles the adventurers simply for fun.”
“Caw?” Orion asked questioningly as he looked around trying to find the source of the voice. Just like last time there was no one.
“Meooow.” Grey shrugged. Then he pushed himself up on his legs and pointed his foam sword at the behemoth. “MROOOOW!”
“RAAAAAAAAWR!” Sinopa gave a roar before leaping off the chest and charging straight for the heroes. Unlike the adventurers she was actually capable of something resembling a charge thanks to her monstrous form. A slow and awkward charge on all fours, but still a charge.
“Rawr!” Koda broke into his own not quite a charge but still a good effort as he attempted to meet her head on.
“Squeak!” Arzure joined him. The knight bunny was a bit slower due to dragging his cape.
“Meow mroooow!” Grey held out a paw in objection. Then put it to his face in frustration as he saw his two teammates collide with the behemoth. It went about as well as he would have imagined. Sinopa crashed into Koda and Arzure head on. In an instant she pushed both of them back, knocking the dragon and bunny onto their backs.
“Caw?” Orion tilted his head and looked at Grey.
“Mow.” Grey sighed as he crawled forward. He would have preferred to be a bit more tactical against a brute like this… But with the two front line fighters down, there wasn’t time to waste. He was hoping he could use his magic to turn the tides here but there was a problem… He needed at least one free hand to cast. This was problematic since the only way he had any mobility was crawling around on his hands and knees… And he already had one hand full holding his sword. He wouldn’t be able to start a spell until he was already within range of the behemoth. “Meoooow!”
“Cawwww!” Orion caught on to Grey’s problem. The griffin temporarily abandoned his duster so he could move faster and crawled after the behemoth as well. He tried to take a circular approach so he could come from the opposite direction as Grey.
“RAWWWWR!” Sinopa reared up, managing to rise onto two legs for a brief moment before falling downward in Orion’s direction. She gave charge, intending to knock him aside. So… He did the first thing that came to his mind. He threw his sword at her.
“R-rawr?” Sinopa froze mid-charge. She wasn’t hurt but it took her a moment to register what had just happened as she stared at the griffin.
“Meow-heow-heoooow!” Grey gave a small giggle as he flashed a smile. While Sinopa had been distracted he had gotten directly behind the monster. Now it was time to reveal his true power! He reached deep inside himself and called upon the power he knew dwelled there. He felt sparks channel through his free hand as the power grew. Rather than fire from his hand he forced that power to stay inside him… He channeled it from that hand through his body to his other hand, the one that held the sword. Then he released all of that energy straight into his sword.
If he could talk right now he would have given it a cool attack name. For now he swung his electricity charged sword forward and struck Sinopa on the back with it!
“R-rawr!” Sinopa flinched as she was struck. It had certainly caught her off guard! But… She looked noticeably less electrified than she should have been.
“M-meow!?” Grey didn’t understand. He was sure he did the spell right. He swung his sword again! Again Sinopa flinched, but didn’t seem to be hurt as the charged foam sword struck her. Instead she slowly turned around and glared down at him. What was going on? Grey paused and looked at his sword. He then slowly touched the foam blade to his own arm.
He felt a small static shock as he did. It was enough to make his fur stand on end! But it wasn’t enough to knock him out.
“MEOOOOOW!” Confounded baby magic! His powers must have been far more diminished in this form than he had estimated. How was he supposed to stop the beast now?
“ROOOOOAWR!” Sinopa gave a shout. She then raised up one of her front paws as she prepared to strike at Grey.
“Meoooow!” Grey panicked and swung his sword again. Again he bopped Sinopa, and while it didn’t hurt her. She did visibly flinch and that shocked her out of attacking him. Grey’s eyes widened as he realized the spell wasn’t completely useless! He could at least keep the monster stunned with this. And so he proceeded to swing the sword as fast as he could, smacking her in the chest and forelegs, trying to keep her stunned in place.
“Caawww!” Orion had not been sitting idle while this was going on. He had quickly crawled over to retrieve his own sword. And now that the beast was stunned he saw his chance! It was time for a true acrobatic display of skill! Or at least the closest he could manage right now. The griffin moved his sword to be held in his beak then hobbled towards the behemoth. Using both hands he grabbed a hold of her back fur and pulled hard as he climbed up onto her back.
“RAAAAAWR!” Sinopa let out a shout. She spun around in place trying to dislodge the griffin. The snow leopard that kept bopping her with the static shocks was limiting her ability to act though.
“Meow heooow!” Grey stuck out his tongue. It looked like this was all under control.
“ROOOOOAWR!” Sinopa suddenly reared up on her hind legs, throwing herself in Grey’s direction. Grey attempted to shock her again… But it wouldn’t matter of the behemoth was stunned! Gravity would finish the attack for her! She fell down upon the leopard cub pinning his shoulders to the ground with her massive paws.
“MROOOOW!” Grey protested and tried to squirm. Pinned in place, he had no way to strike with his sword or prepare another spell.
“C-caw?” Orion was still on the behemoth’s back. However he was aware he might not last long once she tried to buck him. Was this it… Had they come this far just to fail here?
“RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAWR!” It wasn’t the behemoth that roared. This time it was a dragon. Specifically Koda. The young dragon had recovered from his earlier fall and now his eyes were livid as he stared at the behemoth.
“Squawk!” Orion recognized what was going on. His brother hadn’t gotten to be a barbarian by learning to control his temper. The young dragon was about to throw a tantrum… And that meant.
“Roooawr!” Sinopa grinned. She stepped off of Grey and ignored the griffin on her back as she prepared to charge the dragon again.
“RAAAAAAAAAAAAAWR!” Koda performed his own clumsy charge, this time almost matching Sinopa in speed! The two met each other in a head butt… And neither one was knocked aside.
“R-rawr!?” Sinopa’s eyes widened. She had swatted the small dragon aside like a fly previously! Now he was meeting her strength!? No… She suddenly felt her hind paws being pushed backwards. She was being overpowered!?
“ROAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAWR!” Koda continued to push into Sinopa with his head. He had completely lost himself to his temper and showed no signs of slowing down.
“RAWR!” Sinopa scraped at the ground with her hind claws. She tried to push back she couldn’t budge him! Then… There was something she was forgetting.
“CAAAAAAAAAAAW!” Now that Sinopa was distracted Orion had a chance to go all out as well! He held himself steady on her back with one hand then brought his foam sword as hard as he could down upon her head.
“R-raaawr!” Sinopa went rigid as she took the blow to the head. Then she went limp and was easily pushed onto her side by Koda. Orion barely had enough time to get off of her. There… The behemoth lay defeated.
“Squawk!” Orion beamed at his brother proudly.
“R-rawr!” It took Koda a moment to realize the battle was over. He surveyed the damage he did and then proudly began to pound his own chest.
“Grrrrrr…” Sinopa began to stir. Suddenly the behemoth cub rose to her feet and then stood up on her hind legs. She held her forepaws up in the air and began to glow.
“MEOOOOW!” Grey’s eyes widened in panic. He recognized this spell! He had heard of the behemoth’s death curse! A powerful spell they could cast upon their defeat! Meteor! But… He had assumed one so young wouldn’t be able to do it! There was nothing to be done… No time to get away! As they were now there was no possible way to survive such a spell. “MEOOOW MROOOWL!” He did his best to shout his warning to others and crawled behind the chest hoping it might provide some cover.
“Squawk!?” Orion wasn’t sure what was going on but he recognized the panic in Grey’s voice. He grabbed his brother by the tail did his best to drag him behind the chest with Grey. That just left…
“Squeeeeak…” Arzure began to stir. It had taken him longer to recover from being tossed. He looked around in confusion seeing the behemoth on its hind legs and his friends hiding behind a chest.
“MEOOOOOW!” Grey called out a warning to Arzure but it was too late. The behemoth’s curse completed and the sky lit up with light.
Bouncy balls. Hundreds of small rubber bouncy balls came raining down all around the room! They bounced all around knocking into all the walls! One of them even hit Arzure on the head! Didn’t do any lasting harm… But it smarted.
“M-mow?” Grey stared in confusion at what he had just seen. The legends didn’t seem to match what the spell actually looked like.
“Grrrrr…” With her death curse spent Sinopa collapsed against the ground… But not before she took the key off her neck and tossed it to the side. Now, she was defeated.
“C-caaaaw.” Orion crept over to the key first. Just like the last one it was made of plastic. He was easily able to slip it into the chest. The lid instantly popped open again and the adventurers gathered around to see what was inside.
This time there was only one weapon. But it was a big one. At first glance, one could mistake it for just being a large pillow mounted on the end of a stick. However a trained eye would recognize it for what it really was! Or at least Koda did. The dragon whelp dropped his foam sword and pulled out the new weapon clutching it greedily to his chest.
“Raaaawr!” Koda wagged his tail happily as he marveled at his new not-a-pillow-on-a-stick. He then gripped its handle and swung it around several times. Yes, this was a proper great axe. The pillow-blade on the very end was surprisingly heavy too! It was unlikely anyone else could use it. “RAAAAWR!” He smiled as he continued to swing his new toy around.
“Caaaaaw.” Orion rolled his eyes. The griffin was content to crawl back to his duster, drape it around his shoulders, and then continue on further into the dungeon. The others weren’t far behind. Soon the remains of the behemoth were left behind completely forgotten about.
And then of course she magically rose from the ‘dead,’ replaced the lid on the treasure chest and wandered off.
No one was surprised when the party discovered a third chamber with a third chest. They were all practiced adventurers. They knew these things tended to come in sets of threes. And again as they entered the third chamber the next guardian made their appearance.
It was a weasel! But a very big weasel! But also a very small big weasel. It was almost as big as the behemoth they had fought before! But its body didn’t seem as long as an adult weasel. His tail was also rather short due to his age. His rusty orange and brown fur was still soft and puffy, almost making him look like a stuffed animal.
“Kickaha of the Art. The dragon’s third and final minion. Once a half fox half coyote trickster, he now serves as the overlord’s last line of defense in the form of the dreaded DIRE WEASEL! Kickaha serves the dragon overlord faithfully without any offering of award or reason. In fact it’s not clear if he was ever officially hired! He just showed up one day and everyone sort of just went with it.”
“Dooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooook!” As Kickaha sprung from atop the chest and threw himself on the floor as the adventurers entered. He then began roll around wildly on the floor while flailing his paws in the air.
“… Squeak?” Arzure hesitated. He wasn’t sure if the new enemy was challenging them to a fight or a dance off. He looked to Grey hoping the snow leopard might have an idea.
“Mow.” Grey shrugged and returned the baby bunny with a blank stare.
“Dookdookdookdookdookdookdookdookdookdookdookdook!” Kickaha seemed to get more excited… And then suddenly was back on his feet! The dire weasel ran on all fours and was suddenly behind the infantile heroes! He was fast! He may have been a cub… But he was still a wild feral animal! His body had developed faster than the heroes and now he was intent to use that to his advantage.
“RAAAWR!” Koda sprung into action first upon realizing there was a fight. The dragon raised himself up onto his knees and swung his axe in an arc straight for the weasel.
“DOOK!” Kickaha stuck his tongue out as he squirmed under the axe’s swing and then bopped the dragon on the nose with one paw.
“RAWR!” Koda took a step back and tried to swing his axe inward. It was no use, the weasel simply ran behind Koda and the dragon smacked himself in the face! “Rooooawr!” He slumped onto his back.
“CAAAAW!” Orion jumped to his brother’s defense. But no sooner had he crawled to the dragon’s side than the weasel leaped over him and bopped him on the back. “Squawk!”
“SQUEAK!” Arzure saw his own chance. Fighting the griffin and dragon, Kickaha had made a mistake. He had just landed directly between Grey and Arzure. The knight only hoped the magus could catch on so they could perform a proper pincer attack! “SQUEEAAAAAK!” Half crawling, half tumbling, Arzure moved forward and swung his foam sword.
“Meooooow.” Grey caught on to the plan. He had kept his eyes trained on the weasel since it arrived waiting for the perfect opportunity. His movements were a bit more awkward than Arzure as he fumbled forward inching on his knees. He was using one hand to prepare his shocking spell and the other to wield his sword.
“Dooooook!” Kickaha suddenly dropped low to the ground causing Arzure’s swing to go straight over his head. He then charged straight into Grey’s legs. The snow leopard fell forward and was sent flying over the weasel’s body into Arzure!
“SQUEEEAK!” Arzure protested and went limp as he received a static shock.
“Meooooow.” Laying atop the bunny the snow leopard was dazed from being tossed. He lost his spell as he tried to figure out what to do. This monster. It wasn’t as strong as the last one… But it was way too fast!
“ROOOOAWR!” Koda was having another temper tantrum. The dragon hauled himself up onto his knees and wildly swung his axe. A single swing might have been powerful enough to take Kickaha out in a single strike! But his attacks were wild! The agile weasel easily weaved around the strikes before bonking the dragon on the head with a paw.
“Dookdookdookdookdook!” Kickaha seemed to be laughing at the heroes, enjoying the fact they couldn’t hit him.
Orion watched Koda’s losing battle. He wanted to charge in and help but remembered what happened last time! If only he had something that could attack faster than a sword! But they had only found a few things in this dungeon. There was still the new chest… But they’d have to defeat the dire weasel to open it! He had the key and-
Orion had a sudden realization. Each time he had gotten a key in the past he had pushed it into the chest and the lid swung open. He never actually turned the key to work any form of lock. It was almost as if he had just pressed a button. Getting an idea, the griffin crawled away from the fight, trusting his allies to hold the weasel at bay. Instead he moved to the chest.
There was no possible way it could be that easy.
He stuck a talon inside the keyhole. There was a clicking noise and the lid swung open.
It was that easy!
Orion looked inside the chest. What he saw nearly reduced him to a fit of giggles. It was perfect. Inside the chest was a gun. It was a plastic gun filled with foam darts. Orion climbed into the chest to grab the gun. Then he rested his talons and the toy gun against the top of the chest to help hold himself steady as he took aim.
Kickaha was still in battle with the other three. Grey was trying to get a spell prepared. Every time he did though the weasel would get behind him and kick him in the back. Koda was still swinging wildly not able to get a single hit. Arzure was more precise… But just lacked the speed to land a hit with his blow.
Orion took a deep breath. No one had noticed what he was doing yet. This was his chance for a sneak attack to catch the weasel off guard. He had to wait for the right moment when he was sure he would hit. He watched as Kickaha dodged one of Koda’s swings then head butted the dragon in the chest. NOW!
Orion fired the foam dart. The dire weasel’s back was completely turned to him. Yet… Kickaha seemed to sense danger after knocking Koda to the ground. He reared onto his hind legs trying to turn around in place. But it was too late. He may have been faster on foot than Orion! But he wasn’t faster than a bullet! Or a foam dart!
The dart struck the dire weasel right in its chest as it was turning.
“DOOOOOOOOOOOOOK!” Kickaha let out a scream of pain then fell down on all fours. He stumbled forward a few steps before completing collapsing.
It seemed that the battle was won.
“DOOOOK!” Suddenly, Kickaha rolled onto his back. He grasped at the air with his paws still clearly dying. “Dook dook dookdook dooooook!” He cried out in lament as he then went limp on his back with his tongue hanging out.
Now… The battle was finally-
“DOOOOOOOOOOK!” Kickaha sprung to his feet. “Dook dook dooook!” He shouted sadly as he limped forward a few steps. “Dook dooook! Dooooook! Dook doook!” And with those final words he fell forward onto his stomach and ceased to move.
The battle was-
Koda slammed his axe down on the weasel’s head as he attempted to get up again. This time the weasel really did go limp and stopped moving.
“Rawr!” Koda smiled to himself content that he had gotten the ‘final’ blow. He looked around to his allies to see how they were doing.
“Mooooow.” Grey was agitated by the fight. But he was okay. He had been thrown around a bit but not seriously hurt, at least not physically. His pride on the other hand…
“Squeak!” Arzure meanwhile was unharmed in both body and ego! In his head he didn’t see himself as having lost any ground in that fight! He had been a noble knight defending his comrades! Clearly he had set up Orion to take the shot.
“Caaaaaw!” Orion scrambled out of the treasure chest and then looked beyond it. Three minions had been defeated… That most likely meant all that was left was the dragon.
“Moooow!” Grey was the first to move on this time. The snow leopard gestured with a paw and crawled further into the dungeon. He was ready to defeat whoever this dragon overlord was so that this curse could be reversed! It wasn’t long before the others followed after.
It didn’t take them long to reach the very back of the dungeon. This back chamber was clearly the treasure room. The cave floors were stacked high with glittering and shining treasure! Though… Something was off about it. Everything in the room was certainly shiny… But it wasn’t always valuable. In fact… Most of the treasure appeared to be things like shiny plastic beads, glass marbles and tubs of glitter. The only thing at odds with the decoration were the throne at the very back of the room. The throne itself appeared to be made of stone that had been carved into the walls of the cave. Below the throne was a large lock and grooves that appeared as if they might slide out.
“ROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAWR!” The roar was one they had heard before. And it was coming from a being sitting atop the throne. It was the dragon! Like Koda it was a baby dragon. This one had green scales covering most of its body, with a brown underbelly and horns. Spikes ran down his entire backside while his tail was tipped with a tail spike.
“Deven Drake. The dragon overlord and ruler of this dungeon. He may look small, but he’s been hatched from the egg more times than you’ve had birthdays. Many an adventurer have made the mistake of assuming this baby dragon would be an easy foe. But when he senses that his special treasure is in danger, he unleashes a powerful curse that forces the would-be heroes into his world.”
As the voice sounded, one of the piles of plastic beads in the room suddenly spilled over. Everyone, including Deven turned and looked in surprise. What they saw was a small orange baby kitten holding a tape recorder. Sensing everyone’s eyes on him, the kitten flashed a sheepish smile before dragging the tape recorder beneath the beads and disappearing.
“Raaaaaawr.” Deven held a paw to his face in embarrassment. He couldn’t believe his introduction had just been messed up like that.
“Squeak squeeeeeak!” Arzure was at least ready to still roll with things. The bunny knight pointed his sword at the dragon as he announced that his reign of terror was at an end. “Squeeeeak! Squeak! Squeak squeeeeak!” At least he tried.
“Meow.” Grey snickered and patted the bunny on the head. The little guy was trying at least.
“Squawk caaaaaw!” Orion gave his own battle shout. He then pointed his gun at the dragon and pulled the trigger firing his dart.
“RAAAAAAAAAWR!” Deven folded his wings around his body shielding himself. The dart bounced harmlessly off of his wings. Then the dragon unfolded his wings, spread them and took into the air. “ROOOOOAAAAWR!”
“Squawk?” Orion looked at Koda questioningly seeing the other dragon fly.
“R-rawr?” Koda tried flapping his own wings. It was no good. He couldn’t take off! That was no fair! The other dragon didn’t look any older than him! But just happened to be an early flier! Now Koda was stuck on the ground while Deven could rule the sky!
“RAAAWR!” Deven stuck his tongue out as he flew above everyone. He then dove downward away from the party, slamming into a pile of beads and spraying it over everyone.
“SQUEEEAK!” Arzure moved in front of his allies and threw his cape over himself like a shield to block the beads. “SQUEEEAK!”
“CAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAWWWWWW!” Orion opened fire with his dart gun. Deven took off again, weaving through the air to avoid the darts. “SQUAWK!” Orion tried to continue firing, but quickly ran out! Dang limited ammo! He looked around trying to see where the darts landed do he could reload.
“Mow…” Grey was trying to come up with options. In their current states, fighting a flying enemy was difficult. If he had full access to all of his spells, maybe he could fight something that far away. He tried focusing, trying to conjure a basic missile out of magic. He held out a hand and managed to fire a few sparkles of light. They didn’t do much… Or travel far… This was frustrating. “MROOOOWL!” It seemed he was going to have to close the distance or find some way to bring the dragon down to them.
“RAWR! RAWR!” Koda was crawling in the direction of the other dragon, following him along on the ground. He had his axe ready to swing the second Deven came in range.
“SQUEAK!” Arzure was trying to come up with his own plan. As Deven whirled around getting ready to attack again, he suddenly got an idea. The bunny dropped his sword and then let his cape drop off his body. “SQUEEEAK!” He grabbed onto Orion’s tail and pointed at the cloak. “Squeak squeeeak!”
“Squawk!” Orion smiled, getting what Arzure was planning. He grabbed one end of Arzure’s cape while the bunny held onto the other. As Deven flew overhead, diving to toss more beads at them, they tossed the cape upward into the air.
“ROOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAWR!” Deven let out a scream as the cloak covered his face. He couldn’t see where he was going! He missed the pile of beads he was aiming for and instead crashed into the wall. “RAAAWR!”
“ROAWR!” Koda saw his opportunity. With the other dragon on the ground he crawled up and swung his axe down aiming to finish the fight in one blow.
“GRRRRRRRRRRR!” Deven spun in place as Arzure’s cape fell off his face. He reached up with his hands and grabbed the handle of Koda’s axe, stopping it from landing.
“RAAAAAAAAAAWR!” Koda gave a shout and tried to push down harder with all his strength.
“RAAAAAAAAAAWR!” Deven responded and pushed back. Koda was strong, he was a dragon. The problem… Deven was also a dragon and just as strong! The two hatchlings pushed back and forth at each other, neither gaining the advantage. Even as Koda felt a tantrum rising he wasn’t able to overpower Deven!
But he wasn’t alone.
“CAWWWWWWWWWW!” Orion had gathered his darts from where they landed on the ground, reloaded and opened fire on Deven. With Deven locked into a grapple with Koda he wasn’t able to dodge or defend himself.
“SQUEEAK!” Arzure made his own charge! The bunny got behind Deven and struck at him with his own foam sword.
“RAAAAWR!” Deven gave a shout and refused to budge. The weapons seemed to have no effect on him! His draconic scales must have been too thick for them to do any harm.
“Mrrrrrr.” Grey groaned. There had to be some way to win here. Koda almost seemed Deven’s equal… But Koda had just been through three fights while Deven was completely fresh! In a battle of attrition the odds favored Deven! Meanwhile… The rest of them couldn’t phase the other dragon at all! Grey could try his shocking spell… But if Deven hadn’t even flinched at the other attacks that wasn’t going to do much. And the best he could do was make sparkles and-
Wait… That was it! Grey looked around the room. This dragon’s treasure hoard was filled with shiny things! It didn’t matter if they were valuable or worthless. Everything in this chamber was shiny! Could… That be his weakness? It was worth a shot!
Grey crawled as close to the fighting dragons as he dared. Once he was about a foot away he cast his spell. He put everything he had as he held out his hands and a glittering sparks of light erupted from his outstretched paw. The sparkles flew through the air, straight between the two dragon’s faces.
Koda ignored it, not caring… But Deven.
“Raa-oaaaah?” He paused and his eyes widened as he suddenly saw the sparkles. He momentarily forgot what he was doing, releasing one of his hands from Koda’s axe and grasping at the sparkles. Since they were made of light he couldn’t actually grab them… But the moment he took one hand off the axe…
“RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAWR!” Koda pushed forward. This opening allowed him to push forward, swing his axe around and knock Deven down onto his backside.
“RAAAWR!” Deven let out a shout as he landed on his back. Now his softer belly was exposed!
Arzure and Orion acted at the same time. Arzure swung his sword down while Orion fired off his last dart. They both struck Deven on his exposed belly!
“Raaaaawr.” Deven let out a whine and then flopped onto his side no longer moving.
The dragon overlord has been defeated.
“Mow?” Grey looked around in confusion. The dragon was defeated! Shouldn’t the curse have ended now! Shouldn’t they have all changed back into adults? Yet… Everything was the same. Why… Was nothing back to normal? Maybe… He looked over to the dragon’s throne seeing the keyhole within it. Perhaps the key to breaking the curse was there! But… Unlike his minions Deven didn’t have a key on him! “Mrow meow!” Grey crawled over and tugged on Orion’s tail and pointed at the throne. Maybe he could do something! He was a rogue. Could he pick the lock?
“Squawk?” Orion got the idea of what was expected. He slowly crawled over to the throne and examined the keyhole in it. Then he narrowed his eyes as he remembered the secret of the last chest. Rather than attempt to pick the lock he just stuck his talon into the hole. There was a popping noise and the front side of the throne slid open. And there inside it was… The dragon’s true treasure!
Arzure, Koda and Grey crowded around Orion to get a look of what had been discovered. The secret treasure of the dragon overlord was…
A jar of cookies!
“Caw?” Orion couldn’t believe it. They had come all the way here, been turned into babies, and fought monsters, for this!
“Squeak!” Arzure on the other hand seemed quite excited by the treasure. He shoved his paw into the jar pulled out a cookie and began to happily nibble on it.
“Mrowl!” Grey likewise seemed to enjoy the treasure. He quickly snagged a cookie for himself and began to nibble on it. “Meow mew!”
“RAWR!” Koda wagged his tail happily and also grabbed a cookie.
“Caaaaaw.” Orion sighed. He couldn’t believe his allies could be so easily placated! Well… If he had fought this hard for it! He was going to enjoy a cookie too! He grabbed one and held it between his two talons as he began to nibble on it. It was actually really good.
“R… rawr?” The noise had come from Deven! The dragon overlord had recovered from his defeat. Now he was staring at the adventurers eating his cookies as his lower lip began to tremble.
“CAAAAAW!” Orion was not ready to give these back! They were hard earned.
“Squeeeeak.” Arzure gave Orion a judging stare.
“C-cawwww!” Orion protested.
“Meow mrowl!” Grey shook his head at Orion and pointed at Deven.
“RAAWR!” Even Koda seemed to agree with the other two. Orion couldn’t believe it! Betrayed by his own brother.
“Squaaaawk.” Orion sighed as he took another cookie out of the jar and offered it to Deven.
“RAAAAAAAAAWR!” Deven’s eyes lit up as he pounced upon the cookie and happily began to devour it. It seemed he had completely forgotten about the fight or defending his treasure and was completely caught up in the moment. And he wasn’t the only one.
Deven’s three minions: Zeelo, Sinopa and Kickaha had appeared at this point. It seemed they had been attracted by the scent of the open cookie jar and were also hungry.
“Cawwww.” Orion sighed. He couldn’t believe he was splitting his treasure with the bad guys. Still… He supposed this had been fun. He didn’t attempt to protest further and passed out the cookies to everyone.
Soon the entire chamber was silent except for the sounds of munching infants. After the battles and a snack everyone was pretty wiped out. There was probably more to figure out… But for now all anyone wanted to do was take a nap. This adventure had come to a close.
The next morning Orion, Koda, Arzure and Grey set out on their way. They left the cave in high spirits dragging their new weapons with them. Perhaps that dungeon had mostly been a bust… But it had at least proven to be a fun and memorable adventure! Still… As they crawled along the road bathed in the morning sun… They couldn’t help but feel like they had forgotten about something important.
Meanwhile… The headcount of adventurers who had visited the dungeon and were never seen again increased by four. At least… They weren’t seen again in any form where they would be recognized. Of course… It was the same story for everyone else who had run afoul of the dragon overlord.