Thirteen Tales From Another World
The Tale of the Dungeon Master
Meanwhile at an Island Paradise in another dimension.
“You ever think about how much work the bad guys have to go through?” Dr. Callyco asked.
“I might have an idea about it…” Dr. Cutie Pup shrugged. The two had temporarily shed their lab coats, though kept their goggles as they relaxed on floaters in the pool.
“I mean… We… Or well, a hero goes in, smashes up the place. And stops the villain’s plan in like 30 minutes!” Dr. Callyco threw his arms out. “And then by the same time next week the lair is up, fully functional just in time to get smashed up again. Like, there must be a lot of work that goes on in the background to actually make being a villain work.”
“Well…” Dr. Cutie Pup thought for a moment. “I suppose villains are if nothing else extremely passionate about their jobs.”
“True.” Dr. Callyco playfully splashed some of the pool water. “I mean some of them come from pretty humble beginnings. From nobody to nightmare. I guess you don’t go through that journey without having some major motivation. Anyway, tonight’s tale involves Noel, a moogle. He is about to run afoul a ne-er-do-well that leads to a series of escalating events before the soon to be former moogle discovers that a bigger monster has been born. Metaphorically at least. I present, our eighth tale, the Tale of the Dungeon Master.”
Thirteen Tales From Another World
The Tale of the Dungeon Master
Sometimes the most minor of decisions can lead to the most drastic of consequences. You have your choice of two streets to walk down to get home. One of them, you will arrive home without anything of note happening. The other, you meet that one special person in your life, everything changes and soon find yourself with a house and two cars.
Today, Noel had made a minor decision that would set off a chain reaction of unfortunate events leading to the rise of the most notorious Dark Lord to ever threaten the world. But we are getting ahead of ourselves.
Noel was a moogle with peach fur, light red wings, and a light blue, almost white pom. Today he was dressed in his usual attire a blue coat over a lighter blue tunic, brown shorts and boots, and a really big blue hat. And he had a choice to make. One that if asked, he would believe it to be one of the most inconsequential decisions in the universe, not knowing it would be the most important moment of his entire life.
He had to make a choice. Chocolate or vanilla.
It was a slow afternoon. One of those blessed few days that come as an adult where you don’t have anything to do or anywhere to be. Where you could just relax and enjoy yourself. And Noel had decided that he was in the mood for a milkshake. He walked to a local fast-food place. There was no line so he could order immediately. So, what flavor did he want?
This was the type of place that made chocolate milkshakes by essentially making a vanilla milkshake then using a machine to mix chocolate syrup in to flavor the ice cream. It’s likely the most common way to make a chocolate shake. However, because of the need to stir in the syrup it took exactly 82 seconds longer to make than a vanilla shake. A very small amount of time in which not much could happen.
And in an alternate timeline where Noel decided to order vanilla, those 82 seconds were indeed inconsequential. But, today he decided he felt like chocolate. And now he was going to be exactly 82 seconds late to escape his doom.
“Delicious kupo!” Noel got his milkshake and took a sip happily heading for the door. This may have just been a fast-food joint, but its shakes were top quality. Noel stepped outside into the midday sun continuing to sip when abruptly it happened.
The 82 extra seconds had made Noel extra eager to get his shake. After all, who doesn’t enjoy milkshakes? Anyone who doesn’t should be regarded with extreme suspicion and placed under government observation. As a result of that little way making him extra eager Noel had drunk the shake just a little too fast.
“Ow kupo!” Noel rubbed his head. He would have made fun of himself for giving himself a brain freeze and then be on his way. But before the headache went away chaos broke out.
“You’ll never take me alive!” A manic voice shouted that was running down the street. There was a moment of hesitation as the source of the voice considered what it had just said and decided to add a correction. “You’ll never take me without great inconvenience!” He was in the middle of the crime, but it wasn’t one he was ready to die over.
The source of the voice wasn’t watching where he was running, and going full speed ran into Noel while he was in the middle of his brain freeze. Both of them were knocked to the ground. And thus the first of many tragedies began. Noel’s milkshake was knocked from his hands and spilled out onto the sidewalk where it immediately began to melt.
“Ow kupo!” Noel rubbed his head and looked at the arrival. Standing before him was a kobold with gold-colored scales. Except… As he looked closer, he could see the gold coloring was inconsistent. Pieces of it chipped and there was a more dull gray color beneath it. It was as if someone had tried to paint the scales gold now the paint was peeling. The kobold was wearing a crown made out of tinfoil, as well as several pieces of cheap plastic jewelry. However, he held a bejeweled scepter with the head of a dragon on the top that appeared to be made of actual gold and gems.
“Watch where you’re going!” The kobold shouted. “Do you have any idea what I’m in the middle of!” The kobold stood up. “I need to find someone to fight for me quick and-“ He paused as he looked over the moogle.
“Uh… Are you okay kupo?” Noel asked. “You’re not making any sense.” Noel slowly stood up.
“You! You’re perfect!” The kobold jumped to his feet and pointed the scepter at Noel. A beam of golden light erupted from it and struck Noel in the chest.
Suddenly, the moogle began to get younger. He fell back again as his clothes grew too large on him. He flailed about trying to get his hat from over his eyes as his body got tinier. By the time he got it off he was already so small that the hat was bigger than him.
“Kupo!” Noel tried to speak, but could only make the signature sound of all moogles. He was too young to talk. In seconds he had become a tiny infant. And then, he suddenly felt very tired. He tried to keep his eyes open because he realized what was going on, but he couldn’t. The world slowly went dark as some kind of barrier formed around him. And then, Noel was gone, replaced by a peach and white colored egg. Inside the moogle slept, undergoing a metamorphosis inside the egg before he could hatch.
The kobold realized he had miscalculated after transforming Noel into an egg. He picked the football size egg up and stared at it. He had planned to create a dragon minion to fight his enemies. But… The magic scepter he held had to revert people to dragon eggs to facilitate the transformation. Then it would be several centuries before the dragons were old enough to be considered ferocious. In his desperation he had acted without thinking and just tried to get himself a dragon. This poor choice wound up costing the kobold a black eye and several bruises when the ones chasing him arrived. Even cornered and with no dragon, or at least no dragon that was born yet, he was going to fight till the bitter end. Which took exactly 54 seconds before he gave up and begged for mercy, not even enough time to make a chocolate shake.
With the villain apprehended by a duo of heroes, it would seem that Noel should have been returned to his normal form and everything would be fine. But that would have required a functioning justice system, which for some reason does not exist in 99% of universes.
What proceeded was a comedy of errors.
Imagine if you will, a mad kobold with a desire to rule the world using a dragon army. He is somehow born with the unique ability to jump between different universes. This was how he had escaped capture for so long. However, it took several minutes to build up the energy for the spell to jump universes and so was not an ideal escape route when he was actively being chased and couldn’t stop and focus.
Somewhere in this kobold’s misadventures to take over the world, he comes across a scepter that transforms people into dragon eggs. He decides to use it to make himself an army. He jumps between timelines, transforming a handful of people into eggs before jumping to a new timeline before any authorities could catch him.
Then through sheer luck or incompetence, he jumps to a timeline where the existence of other timelines and how to travel to them is known. As a result, when he jumps timelines again the authorities from that world follow him into the new one. The kobold’s temporary safehouse is found within a week of him arriving in the new universe, he finds himself on the run, and likely would have escaped had he not crashed into the moogle.
The kobold was taken in, and all of the people he had transformed into eggs were taken to the police station as evidence. This included at least 20 eggs back in his safehouse as well as Noel who had been found at the scene where the kobold had been arrested.
Now came the process of trying to return all the eggs to their proper forms and universes. It turns out, not all the eggs were normal people, but some of them were actual full-grown dragons who had been reverted back to an egg. Some of them dragons of noteworthy renown in their own timeline. One such dragon had been reduced to a silver and brown egg.
The eggs are carefully sorted and prepared to be sent back to their proper timelines. But, they don’t finish labeling the eggs on how they’re to be handled before quitting time. An underpaid intern is left to finish the work, the overtime unpaid. He is overworked and doesn’t care. He just wants to go home. And so a mistake is made. A silver and brown egg gets swapped with a peach and white egg. There was no malice. Simply an exhausted employee who put up with way too much nonsense and wanted to get home as fast as possible.
The next day, the eggs are taken care of appropriately. The powerful dragon from another timeline is sent through a magical spell that transforms him into a moogle and leaves him in a very confusing situation. Meanwhile, the egg containing Noel was sent to the dragon’s universe instead.
The eggs containing natural dragons weren’t reverted to their proper adult forms right away. Aside from the fact there simply was not enough room to fit eight full grown dragons in the police station, some dragons were vengeful and it was decided it would be best if all dragons were back in their own timeline before the spell was reversed and they were restored to their normal selves.
But once again a mishap. Noel’s egg is loaded up into a machine meant to send it to an alternate timeline. Someone is supposed to go with him and reverse the spell upon arrival. But the machine blows a fuse. The power to the station goes out. When they fix it, the machine hums to life with no one in the room and sends Noel off on his own as an egg with no one else. By the time they return to the room they forgot an egg had already been in the machine and resumed business as normal.
And so, early one morning, a blue scaled kobold entered the throne/treasure room of their master. Instead of the massive silver dragon that usually greedily laid atop the treasure he instead found an egg. He had no context for the other kobold’s and Noel’s misadventures. And while he had magical talent it was poor. He could sense some type of transformation spell had been cast. But that was it. And so there was only one conclusion he could come to.
Someone had reverted his master to an egg.
“Emergency staff meeting!” The kobold shouted running out of the room.
The dragon’s abode was a series of dark caves decorated with bones. They were props but no one paid that much attention. Adventurers had raided the dragon’s den many times, and stolen much treasure. But there was one room they had never found. The meeting room.
The aesthetic of evil dragon lair ended in this room. It looked like a modern office room. Right now, several kobolds, a few trolls, a minotaur, some slimes and a demon thing were all crowded into the room.
“How did this happen!?” The blue kobold demanded.
“Obviously someone was upset with him.” A slime spoke up. “I mean he did just lay off a number of people in the magic division.”
“He didn’t want to!” The blue kobold stamped his foot. “The Adventurer’s Guild was breathing down our necks about a lack of diversity in our midboss fights, that they were all generic mages. Apparently hiring identical triplets who each specialize in a different element is too overdone.”
“Well, one of the two that got canned was clearly upset and played a joke on the master.” The minotaur spoke up.
“This is an absolute disaster!” The blue kobold shouted. “The Adventurer’s Guild has us scheduled for a dungeon raid today! And two more later this week! What are we supposed to do!? We can’t have the final boss be an egg! We’ll lose our official License to Villain for attempting something like that.”
“Maybe I could stand in?” The demon thing asked.
“No that won’t do. They already know they’re scheduled in for a dragon. Apparently, the newest tier in adventuring gear is all dragon themed.” The kobold sighed. “How do we fix this? If only the master was here… He’d know.”
“Well, he is here.” A slime pointed out. “Just you know asleep in an egg. Maybe we can wake him up?”
“Well… It’s not as if we have any better ideas…” The blue kobold muttered. “I guess we try to get him to hatch faster and then hope he knows how to fix this mess.”
Everyone rushed back to the throne room, which was more spacious and allowed them to fit without crowding. They all stared at the egg that sat on the throne.
“So, how do we hatch it?” A goblin asked.
“Maybe we should sing to it?” A slime suggested.
“I think if you apply heat it hatches. We should set it on fire!” A kobold shouted.
“We are not setting the master on fire!” The blue kobold shouted. “Ugghhh. Master, if you can hear us in there, we really could use your guidance right now.”
Inside the egg, Noel woke up. The commotion going on outside his eggshell was to blame. He could hear people arguing while he himself was in the dark. He wasn’t sure what was going on. It was like a hazy dream, hard to recall the exact events that brought him here. But… He could tell he was rolled up, almost into a ball inside some kind of small container. Noel started pushing and scratching trying to find an exit. The container started to crack. And then…
Noel the Dragon Lord was born.
“Rawr!” Noel tripped out of the egg landing with a belly flop. He was a dragon, but had peach colored fur with white accents, two tiny nubs for horns, very tiny spines running down his back between his leathery wings, and a tail that was a quite short due to him being a newborn. “Roawr?” Noel looked around the room in confusion seeing all the monsters that towered over him.
“Master! Thank goodness!” The blue kobold dropped to his knees to be eye level with Noel. “It seems you’ve been the victim of an unfortunate prank. Adventurers will be here in six hours and we have no idea what to do.”
“Rawr?” Noel tilted his head. He had no idea what the kobold was talking about, or what was going on.
“Master?” The kobold looked scared. “It’s me. Gary from Human Resources.” Gary was not what people would consider a traditional kobold name. But it was a pretty common one. When adventurers attacked though they made up more exotic and primitive sounding names. Fighting Soothsoul was just more satisfying than fighting Jared.
“Roooawr.” If Noel could talk, he would have explained he had no idea what was going on. The longer he was out of the egg the more alert he became. He could now remember the run-in with the other kobold.
“Heeey… Was our master always… Fluffy?” A slime asked.
“Must be some kind of dragon puberty thing?” The minotaur suggested. “Like his scales grow in when he gets bigger.”
“Huh I never would have guessed that dragons were so soft when they’re born.” A goblin gave a wistful sigh.
“We are in the grips of an emergency!” Gary shouted back at them. “We don’t have time to worry about the fact that he looks… Less impressive as a baby!”
“Well… At least he’s not an egg anymore.” The minotaur shrugged.
“And I’m sure the Adventurer’s Guild is going to be perfectly happy when the adventurers report back that their final boss was just a baby. I mean what kind of fair fight is that?” Gary was reaching his limit.
“Maybe we can ask them to substitute baby adventurers?” A slime suggested.
“That’s ridiculous! You can enroll in the Adventurer’s Guild if you’re a minor! There are no baby adventurers.”
“Roawr! Rawr! Rawr!” Noel flapped his wings and waved his paw excitedly at the mention of baby adventurers. Mostly, he was hoping to get their attention and explain he wasn’t really a dragon, but basically an adventurer of sorts turned into a baby dragon. He looked around to see if he could write. The floor was stone. If he was a bigger dragon he could scratch a message in it easily. But his baby dragon claws couldn’t scratch it at all, let alone write out letters. “Roooooawr.” Noel looked between the monsters trying to see if any of them by any chance had a notepad. This was confusing, but at least they weren’t hostile towards him.
“The Master seems to think the idea has merit.” The slime jiggled happily.
“The Master knows the guild would never allow something like that.” Gary crossed his arms angrily. “The only way we’d run into something like that was if we created some kind of trap that turned the advneturers into babies.” He paused. “Wait… That’s what the Master was trying to say! It’s genius!”
“Roawr?” Noel tilted his head. He was fairly confident no one had any idea what he was trying to say.
“We’ll be a gimmick dungeon.” Gary said excitedly. “A nefarious trap where every time the adventurers go down a floor they get younger, making the journey more dangerous. We’ll… Make up some kind of mystical sounding name for a time artifact or something. Either the adventurers will realize what is happening and retreat, unwilling to be reduced to infants, or if for some crazy reason they do press on they’ll be no older than the Master and so the fight will be thematically appropriate and balanced. Then they can win, we hand out treasure like usual, they leave and we get our monthly gold shipment from the Adventurer’s Guild.”
“Um… How do we turn the adventures back into adults?” The minotaur asked.
“Not our problem. The Adventurer’s Guild can take care of that…” Gary looked at the Master. “This is your plan right. It’s the only thing that can save the dungeon, right?”
“Roawr?” Noel tilted his head. He only understood about half of what was going on, it was clear they though him someone else and desperate for his input. As for regressing adventurers… Well he didn’t see anything wrong with it… But if baby adventurers made their way down here he was fairly certain what they did would resemble playing more than actual fighting. “Rawr.”
“Is that a yes?” Gary asked. “I think that’s a yes. Okay, we need to make arrangements.”
“Heh, some adventurers were scared of my size before I can’t wait to scare them as little kids!” The minotaur shouted.
“You’re going to be a little kid too!” Gary shouted over him. “For this to work and to sell this storyline every monster has to be younger than the monsters fought on the floor above. You’re a high-level midboss so you’re going to be like two years old to defend your arena.”
“What!? But… I won’t even have any horns!” The minotaur objected.
“You’ll be adorable.” The slime assured him.
“Minotaurs are fierce not adorable.” The minotaur pouted. “And slimes look the same at all ages, so you don’t even care. This isn’t fair.”
“Well blame whoever pulled this prank.” Gary responded. “Oh dear… I’m often meant to be at the Master’s Side… Performing my duties are going to be really hard once I’m too young to speak. We’ll need to come up with some form of sign language…”
“Or leave out lots of crayons and coloring books.” The demony thing suggested.
“That…. Might work and fit the theme. Okay, we can do this.” Gary turned to the Master and gave a bow. “We will carry out your wishes Master! We will make the new gimmick of our dungeon time reversal that way you can continue to reign as the final boss and Dark Lord. We’ll share your fate and age.”
“What we will?” The minotaur objected. “But dragons take centuries to age! I’m gonna be a toddler for centuries!?”
“It’s that or lose our License to Villain.” Gary huffed. “Everyone, we need to get to work preparing charms, assigning people to different floors and adjusting everyone’s age.”
“If we can make ourselves younger why can’t we just make him older?” The minotaur was still trying to get out of it.
“Because it would take time magic powerful enough to do centuries of work vs a couple of decades for all of us. There’s not enough time to fix him and no guarantee we could come up with any spells powerful enough to change someone’s age by that much.”
“Wow, the laid off mages must have been really talented.” The demony thing giggled.
“No more dallying to your places!” Gary turned to Noel. “Master, I doubt any hero will make it down here to you. After all, when they realize how young they’re going to get I’m sure most will turn back! But you might want to practice some moves throughout the day just in case. You won’t be able to fight like you normally do. I doubt you can even produce a flame yet.”
“Rawr?” Noel hadn’t thought about breathing fire. He opened his mouth and tried to. A small amount of smoke came out.
“See, no fire.” Gary shook his head. “I can’t say I’m gonna like being an infant for the next few centuries, but at least I’ll be doing it with the most respectable Dark Lord out there.” With that, Gary disappeared to make preparations.
“Roooooawr!” Noel was slightly irritated. Why did nobody listen to him? Well because he couldn’t talk. But they could have brought him one of those mentioned coloring books so he could write out a message.
Several hours later.
The barbarian swung both of his fist at Noel. He didn’t have a weapon. Him and the rest of the party had lost their gear and their clothes several floors ago. But, the baby human was determined to win the fight anyway.
“Rawr!” Noel flapped his wings, hopping more than flying away from the attack. As he did he heard a gurgle behind him. He turned to see a baby elf girl holding out a finger and a small bolt of lighting erupted from it striking him. It tickled his nose. “Rooawr!” Noel charged the elf and tackled her. Well, it was more like he fell on top of. The two made their best attempts at wrestling.
Enter, the catfolk bard and the dwarven cleric. They grabbed Noel by his tail and worked together to drag him off of the elf. The barbarian then gave Noel a good booping on the nose. Noel flapped his wings to help stand up on two feet, stumbled backwards then fell on his back and went still, doing his best attempt to play dead.
A treasure chest appeared, Noel had no idea from where. The adventuring party had to work together stacking on top of each other to open it. Inside, were a bunch of small books. They worked together to pile them up and push them towards the exit. This room was full of gold and treasure, but they didn’t seem to care about it. They just cared about the cheap books.
The Dark Lord Noel’s dungeon became a legend. Only the bravest would dare go knowing what it meant sacrificing. Which meant that of course every adventurer wanted to challenge it to prove they were among the best. Noel had no idea what happened to them after they left. But Gary was in good spirits. It turned out this gimmick was very profitable. Gary had drawn a diagram in a coloring book to explain how. The payment they got from the Adventurer’s Guild for running a dungeon was nice. But they were making a real killing selling the gear left behind by the adventurers. Noel didn’t understand it. The adventurers were apparently coming here because it was the best way to get new gear. But they lost everything they had when they came and just got some old books that made them happy.
But, playing the part of the Dark Lord was actually pretty fun. After Noel had gotten really good at acting out elaborate death scenes. And he had a coloring book to write in so he could communicate.
But… It had been going this long. Maybe he didn’t need to tell them he wasn’t actually the Dark Lord. This was pretty fun. And it wasn’t hurting anything if he played the role a little longer.