‘So, Denise…’ Aruff paced about his temple, rubbing his furry chin. ‘Do you really believe you’re a match for me?’
Denise, remembering Daniel’s words about confidence, chose not to reply, at least verbally. She still bore her claws, readying herself for what Aruff would deal for her. Sure enough, Aruff turned around slowly, conjuring up a sword from his arm. His armour had no sleeves, but he was a god, and had the power to do things like that. Denise, however, had no time to ponder on these abilities, as Aruff charged at her. Her wings flapping rapidly, she sprung to the air, as Aruff spun around, keeping his balance.
Aruff had not the power of flight but he made up for it with his jumping ability. Leaping into the air, Aruff swung his sword, and ended up whacking Denise in the back of her head with the flat of the blade. Rubbing the spot, Denise managed to slash Aruff across his face, causing the dog to howl in pain before descending to the ground. Diving down, Denise stretched out her claws, pointing them in the direction of the stumbling dog. Aruff instantly saw her attempt at an attack, and blocked it with his sword, sending her down on her back.
‘I knew you would stumble,’ said Aruff, shaking his head with a content grin. ‘I knew you wouldn’t be worthy the minute I first saw you.’ He chuckled a little to himself. ‘Maybe I should let the barbarians have you as their new trophy…’
At that, Denise kicked him in the stomach.
As Aruff fell to the ground, he laughed harder. ‘Oh, that always works!’
Denise lifted herself off the ground, dusting herself off. ‘So, you want another round?’
‘Of course! I mean, you didn’t cry like Spartypuss would have…’
‘What about him?’
Aruff raised an eyebrow. ‘Eh?’
‘Your brother. Didn’t you two once work together to teach students?’ Denise asked, her claws scratching her fangs, ‘You know, it had something to do with balance…’
‘Hah!’ Aruff folded his arms, casting a glance to the other side of the room, ‘Balance my tail! I was trying to train tomorrow’s warriors and he’d suggest we make fairy cakes!’ Denise giggled under her breath, until Aruff shot her a fierce glare. ‘I told him to go away and he did so, whining all the way.’
The second after Aruff had said that remark, he charged at Denise again, but she quickly dodged it.
‘Now, you wouldn’t have been able to do that with the cat around now, would you?’
Denise sighed. ‘I guess not.’
In the corner of his dungeon room, Daryl held himself, shuddering. That head, his head with the great, big, gaping hole. He had to watch it every second, every moment, in case one of those creatures would emerge.
Of course, he had to create creatures. Aosoth wanted creatures. No creatures and Daryl would pay the price. Certainly he had a lot to think about, so they would never be in short supply. Just a few hours ago, Daryl had thought something really horrible, something he tried to make himself forget, and it ended up creating a skull walked about on thin legs, crab claws emerging from its temples. When Daryl had seen it, he shuddered more fiercely, yet felt rather impressed with himself for thinking up such an unusual creature. When Aosoth had seen it, she smiled, so there was a brief tingle of joy in Daryl’s stomach.
Perhaps that’s why he was shuddering now. Feeling joy about one of those monsters.
Just an hour ago, Bob and Gary had entered Daryl’s room, and had given him a lump of raw meat. Daryl chose not to eat it, imagining Aosoth tainting the meat with one of her evil potions or something to create more monsters. When Daryl thought those suspicions, he immediately tossed the meat away, and attempted to forget about it.
At least he didn’t have a headache.
Immediately another image flashed into Daryl’s mind. Aosoth, her grin wider than usual, her teeth even more pronounced and elongated. In her hands she held that knife she had opened Daryl’s head with, but now she aimed it somewhere else. She plunged it right in Daryl’s heart, blood dripping down his scales. From his heart came more monsters…
Clutching his chest, Daryl tried to erase that image, but felt his head throb again, accentuated by thin tendrils eclipsing his eyes. Whimpering, Daryl crawled away, attempting to escape the sight of his creation. Hell, he might even be proud of it.
Suddenly, another mental image popped up. Not Aosoth, Coover.
Why did he have to be questing?
Daryl opened his eyes, something that came more naturally than he expected. The monster he had created earlier was nowhere to be seen, but Daryl chose to turn his attention towards the door. It was going to open soon. Yes, Aosoth would open it, lighting the room with her crimson aura.
How many planks of wood is that door made out of? Looks like five. Maybe six.
As he stared at the door, Daryl’s stomach gurgled from the lack of satiation over the past few days. He held his stomach…actually, he had one hand on his stomach and one hand on his head. He was certain he felt something wriggle about in his cavity, so he writhed on the floor as if just doing that would stop it.
There was nothing stopping Daryl from escaping, but what good would that do? It wouldn’t get rid of this condition; in fact…
Aosoth wanted Daryl to escape.
If Daryl got out, he’d get scared that Aosoth would come looking for him, and that would create more monsters. Those monsters will have been created outside, so they’d be allowed to be let loose on the world, and they’d kill people like Daryl did when he was in the villages…
A hand emerged from Daryl’s head.
With her training for the day complete, Denise flew back to the mountainous region of Kirkalan, where the village of her species lay. It was the safest place for them to live, as the average human did not dare brave the mountains due to the rumours about dark magic and various creatures. With the reputation of dragons falling further into disrepute due to Aosoth’s little cohort, a place like this was a necessity. Some had tried to live among the humans, but that rarely ended up well.
As she flew down near the statue of the mighty Daniel kept in the square, she caught the eye of a fatter, older dragon, slouching on a seat beside the statue. Dennis. A close ally of Daniel’s and a friend of her father’s.
‘Oh, ‘ello Denise,’ said Dennis, slowly standing up. ‘’Ow’s the training going?’ He wobbled slightly as he stood up, leading to Denise holding him up by his arms.
‘Oh, I’m getting along just fine,’ said Denise, letting Dennis stand up on his own, ‘I am having a bit of trouble with Aruff though.’
‘Yep. Training with the god of the barbarians ain’t gonna be easy.’
Denise took a look at the statue, then back at Dennis, a frown on her face. ‘Nothing is easy.’
‘Ol’ Dan here,’ said Dennis, patting the statue, ‘had to train under the dog of war too. Aruff has never been too fond of dragons, but he gets satisfaction from just ‘aving trained a killer.’
‘Of course,’ said Denise, ‘I wonder if he gets satisfaction from having trained someone with intelligence.’
Dennis chuckled, coughing up some phlegm while doing so. Thus, Denise helped him sit back down. ‘Still, all that work paid off, eh? Helped us loads against Asteroth.’ Aosoth’s father. Hearing his name reminded Denise of when she feared him in her childhood years, the type of fear she was training to annihilate.
Dennis looked upwards at the statue’s face, trying to mimic its proud expression. ‘It is a shame he could not destroy Aosoth, though.’
‘Yes…now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to be alone.’
Sighing, Denise walked towards her hut, and grabbed the bucket that lay by her door. She took it to the well, and filled it up with water. She carried it back to her dwelling, taking a few sips of the water along the way. When she entered, placing the bucket on a table, she threw herself down on her bed. An uncomfortable, rickety thing it was, and it almost broke when she lay herself down, but it was the perfect place for her to plan.