After seeing what could come out of his head if he lost his guard, and how his cellmate reacted to such a thing, Daryl had spent the whole night awake. The female dragon slumbered quite peacefully, but Daryl forced himself to keep alert, one hand beneath his eyes, the other atop his head. The loud snores coming from the female helped keep him awake, but something in his head seemed to move to the rhythm of those snores.
Morning soon came, though it was hard to tell in this castle, with Daryl shuddering in the corner. No monsters. Good. What time – oh no. If he was in here, he wouldn’t be able to get to work. Even if he did escape, he would lose his only chance at a better life.
Fire erupted from his nostrils again, which awoke the female. ‘Stop that,’ she growled, and the flames immediately ceased. She looked as if she was ready to attack Daryl again at any moment, so Daryl cowered once again.
‘I-I really d-didn’t want to work for A-Aosoth, you know.’
The female sat with a fierce expression. ‘And yet you continued doing her work until that kid Coover killed her.’
Daryl opened his mouth to correct that last point, but words failed him about that. Instead, he responded, ‘I was afraid.’
‘Afraid of what?’ She stood up, towering over Daryl. ‘Look at you. You’re a member of a proud species, and you’re…well…’ Daryl, grabbing his head again, stood up to face her. ‘What would your father think of you now?’
Before the female could say anything else, Aosoth glided into the room, chortling softly. ‘Hello, did we have a good night’s sleep?’ The female dragon ran to the bars, but was knocked over backwards by a blast from Aosoth. ‘Or did we play together at all? No? Pity. Well, anyway.’ Opening the cell door, she grabbed Daryl by the arm and let him out, leaving the dazed female still trapped.
‘W-w-what do you want?’ blurted out Daryl. ‘I-I’m so so sorry.’
‘Don’t worry about that now, Daryl,’ said Aosoth, stroking Daryl’s cavity. ‘It did allow me to have a spectacular resurrection, and I’ve always wanted one of those. Now, I know you’ve been in that other world for a while now…’
‘Stop saying that! Being there for so long, you’d be likely to know its many technologies. So, perhaps you’d like to share your knowledge about that world with me, to see if there is anything that can aid me in terrorising the people of Kirkalan once more. If you do, I’ll let you go back to your cosy little flat, and you’ll never have to worry about me ever again!’
‘Of course,’ said Aosoth, her voice getting higher, ‘Would I lie to you?’
‘Um, just a sec,’ said Daryl, as he suddenly rushed back to the cell, where the female dragon leaned against the bars. After checking to see Aosoth wasn’t listening, he said, ‘Hey! Fellow dragon!’
‘My name is Denise, if you must know.’
‘Okay, hello Denise. Anyway, Aosoth just told me to tell her about England…’
‘That dump?’ Denise folded her arms. ‘You actually went there?’
‘Yes, but now Aosoth wants me to tell her about stuff there that can help her and said that if I do, I’ll go home. But I can’t work for her again, but I do want to go home…’
‘Why are you telling me this?’
‘Well…’ Daryl rubbed his arm. ‘I thought you would know what to do.’
Denise responded by laughing. Pounding the bars of her cell, she let loose a bout of cruel laughter before slowly regaining herself. ‘I suppose I should be flattered. But I’m going to let you figure it out for yourself. Whichever you choose, it’ll save me having to put up with you any further.’
Fidgeting with his cavity some more, Daryl forced himself to look at Denise. ‘What did you say about my father?’
‘What does it matter? Even if I told you, it’s not like I’d be able to help you.’
‘No, please.’ Further requests were silenced when Aosoth entered.
‘Have you come to a decision yet?’ She turned to Denise for a moment. ‘What’s the matter? Were you hoping she’d help you? Forget it, Daryl. Everyone in Kirkalan hates you, even members of your own species. Just help me out this once, and I’ll teleport you back to your humble little home.’
‘I-I th-thought you liked having me help you though…’
‘But come on, Daryl. I just want you to be happy.’ Aosoth punctuated that word with a grin revealing her jagged teeth. ‘ And if you’re happier in England than here, then so be it.’
Daryl turned to Denise, sitting in her cell, and back at Aosoth, then around at the place he wanted to forget. ‘Oh, very well. I’ll t-tell you,’ he replied, hanging his head. A roar from the cell made him shudder, yet he still let Aosoth grip him and take him to her laboratory.
What could Daryl do?
What could Denise do?
The son of her idol had been in the same room as her, had stood before her, and had spoken to her. The son that was believed dead, and was even given a memorial service. The son Denise had even hoped to take the place of. Daryl was not Daniel, but he was Daniel’s son, so finding out he was the dragon working for Aosoth was as much a blow to her as if Daniel himself had joined the forces of darkness.
It was entirely possible that this could be some trick of Aosoth’s to lower her morale, but…who cares if it was? It was Daniel she was fighting to keep the memory of, not his son or whatever was claiming to be his son.
If he could become evil, could she too?
Attempting to shake these thoughts from her head, Denise instead tried to focus on escaping. Aosoth had fed Bob and Gary a heavy amount of caffeine and had enchanted their keys, so there was no point in waiting for them to fall asleep. She thought back to her training with Gangrene, and remembered his advice on outsmarting opponents.
‘What is it?’ growled the taller of the two. ‘You know Aosoth put a fireproof spell on us too?’
‘I know. I was just wondering why you lot are following her orders. Don’t you hate her?’
‘Well,’ replied the fatter one, kicking up some dirt, ‘everyone hates their boss. But we gotta have a job.’
‘But,’ said Denise, smugly folding her arms, ‘She doesn’t pay you. Besides, I think your potential is wasted here.’
‘Oh, nice try,’ said Gary, holding his spear proudly, ‘You see, Little Miss Smartie, we tried different jobs after Aosoth’s defeat, and none of them worked out for us. You never realise what you have until it’s gone, and guardwork is truly my calling. It’s Bob’s too.’ Bob nodded to emphasise Gary’s point.
Denise collapsed on her hands and knees. Stupid Denise. Stupid little dragon. All those years of training, and look where you are now. Trying to live up to Daniel’s standards, hah. And now his own son’s gone and joined Aosoth. Right now he’s helping her bring misery and there’s nothing that can be done about it.
Nothing could be done at all.
‘And there’s this thing called an egg-beater. As you can tell by the n-name, it can cause harm. Okay, it c-can’t just beat eggs, I mean, I used it and it hurt my claws plenty…’
‘Very interesting,’ chuckled Aosoth, ‘So this world has a screen that hypnotises people, and a little cylinder that turn food into liquid. I wonder if you can get a bigger version of one of those…’
‘Oh, they do have a bigger version of one of those,’ said Daryl, nodding his head, ‘They’re called cinemas but I don’t think they are as hypnotic…’
‘I guess Kirkalan misjudged England. We thought it was just a boring wasteland, but it has so many delights! I’ll give some of these little gizmos a try!’ Using her magic, Aosoth conjured up an egg-beater. After observing it for a while, she turned the handle, and watched the beaters rotate. Holding it to Daryl’s face, she gave a “hmph” of disappointment as it only made Daryl flinch slightly.
Despite the pain administrated from the egg-beater being minimal, Daryl still turned away, hiding his eyes. He knew of much more potent things, things which could more properly assist Aosoth, he thought that if he brought minimal damage to the other world, he would be able to forgive himself more easily.
‘You’re hiding something from me, aren’t you?’
Why couldn’t she just send him home? If she didn’t mind that he killed her, why not just leave him be? She had conquered Kirkalan once without technology, and she had enough power to do it again without his help. He had rent to pay and a job to do. He was just a boring, working man, no use to an evil sorceress.
‘There’s bigger things in this world that you’re not telling me about, isn’t there? What’s wrong, are you afraid? Oh come on, Daryl, I’m your friend. I have taken care of you, haven’t I?’
All of a sudden, Daryl gained an urge to ask Aosoth something he knew he shouldn’t: ‘Do you know anything about my father?’
A grin crossed Aosoth’s face. ‘Do you really want to know?’ Daryl didn’t answer, but Aosoth still took him to her crystal ball. ‘Here. Let me show you.’
Daryl pressed his snout against the crystal ball, and saw a dragon that resembled a more muscular version of himself. This muscular dragon dove from the sky to hit a giant blob in the stomach. The blob extended its tentacle in the dragon’s direction, slime falling to the ground as it did. The dragon darted upwards and dove again, this time digging his claw into the blob’s eyeball. After he ripped out the eyeball, the blob slithered away. Looking down, the dragon saw a younger dragon, who cheered at the monster’s defeat.
‘His name was Daniel, and the other dragons saw him as a hero. Disgusting, eh?’
The crystal ball then revealed another image, that of another dragon standing beside an array of other dragons. ‘And this is your grandfather, Darren. He was just as bad,’ said Aosoth.
‘My brethren,’ said Darren in a voice Daryl found both familiar and alien, ‘once we were forced to toil for evil, and it turned the humans against us. Well, now that Asteroth is threatening to dominate Kirkalan, we will show him that we are not to be treated as henchmen!’ The crowds of dragons cheered.
Darren led the dragons into battle, and while most seemed to be relying only on their fire breath and muscles to do battle, others came prepared with swords and bows and arrows. They descended from a rocky ledge to meet with another dragon, this one donning a black robe not unlike Aosoth’s. The dragons ran towards this robed creature, but with a lift of his arm, he sent them all tumbling over backwards. ‘Foolish peasants,’ laughed the robed dragon, ‘You want to rebel against me?’
‘Landorm!’ cried Darren. ‘We will not stand for your oppression any longer!’
‘Oh, really?’ said Landorm. ‘You think you are mighty enough to challenge me? Well, you shouldn’t be wasting your might on me or on protecting those miserable humans. If you rebel against me, you’re no smarter than they are.’
‘They need us.’ Darren slowly stepped forward.
‘Of course they need you to protect them.’ Landorm laughed. ‘They couldn’t even find their undergarments without help! We’re better than them; they fear us, so why not use that to our advantage?’ Right as he said that, Darren punched Landorm in the face. As Landorm raised his hands to attack again, Darren pushed him down onto the ground. ‘You have such strength. You could be useful as…’ Once again, Landorm was struck down, and Daniel beckoned his army to come forward.
Suddenly, the crystal went blank, with Daryl backing away. His claws twitched and his mouth went dry as he turned to Aosoth. ‘Ridiculous, isn’t it?’ said Aosoth, shaking her head, ‘I think these “heroes” are so amusing, don’t you? Their over-dramatic speeches, their pompousness, their looking-out-for-others thing. Thank goodness you chose to work with me, eh, Daryl? I mean, look at what your father did here.’
Another image appeared on the crystal ball: the face of Aosoth herself. No, it wasn’t Aosoth, rather a male version of her, with a moustache under his pointed nose. Smirking, he turned to a window, from which Daniel burst through, a wand in his grasp. ‘Asteroth! Your days are numbered!’
‘No they aren’t!’ sneered Asteroth. ‘It is your days that are numbered! Go ahead! Count them!’
Just as Daniel flew upwards, Asteroth lifted his arms and let loose several bolts of magical electricity, shocking Daniel out of the air. Daniel landed on his feet, however, and raised his arm to show off the wand.
‘The Wand of Warton.’ Asteroth still looked proud, placing his hands on his hips and narrowing his eyes at Daniel. ‘You really think you can destroy me with that thing?’ Just then, Daniel flicked the wand twice and it let out its own beam, slowly disintegrating Asteroth. ‘Oh.’ Eventually, Asteroth was reduced to nothing, Daniel punctuating his victory with a roar.
‘Ridiculous,’ said Aosoth, shaking her head, ‘And that was my father too. But you, Daryl, you chose to listen to the wise words of that Landorm fellow, and followed me. You’re wiser than your father, you are? Wasn’t he a funny one?’
Daryl collapsed to the floor, holding his legs, his wings wrapped around his body. Staring at the crystal ball again, he expected to see his father’s face again, sneering at him. It didn’t come, but he still covered his eyes with his hands, gibbering and squeaking.
‘I said, “Isn’t this stuff funny?” Gods, Daryl, you are such a killjoy.’ With that, Aosoth left the room, leaving Daryl trembling on the floor.