Explosive Growth or Death
Zero walked into the newly created passageway and arrived in a small room with ten silver beetles on the wall. Curiously he examined it.
Queen Silver Beetle
The Queen Silver Beetle has created a nest in the volcanic walls of the Draconis flying village. A special beetle that burrows and eats the volcanic soil. It is considered to be lucky if one is found, though, at the same time, these Beetle has a nasty habit of eating the volcanic rocks for food. It is best for young dragons to eat these beetles to help with their growth spurt and quell the rapid population increase of these bugs. Its body has a large amount of magical energy packed into its small body. These Silver Beetle only appears in crisis times because of the lure of heavy dragon magic.
“What in the world?” Zero reached over and plucked one of the beetles from the wall. When he did, a swarm of smaller beetles came out of the ground and swamped him.
Zero reeled back in surprise and almost dropped the wiggling silver beetle in his hand. Instead, he stomped viciously at the smaller beetles from them, crawling on them. Without thinking, the smell of the Queen Silver Beetle let out a sweet aroma that he could not resist.
In one gulp, he ate the Beetle. Zero realized what he just did. He ate it without a second thought. He didn’t realize how sweet the Silver Beetle tasted. It reminded him of skittles.
“Zero!” Valiant walked over toward Zero with a gleeful expression. He stopped and stared at Zero, wondering what he was doing.
“Cough! Cough! Hack! Cough!”
I just ate a bug. The thought ran rampant in his mind. He unconsciously did it too.
“Are you okay?”
Zero racked his throat as he felt the Beetle that he ate go down into his belly. The sweet sensation of candy was left in his mouth. Then suddenly, he felt a pain in his heart that radiated outwards from his body. He fell onto the floor, clutching his chest.
“Zero! Are you okay?” Valiant ran up to him, trying to see if something had attacked his body.
Smoke erupted from his body, and he crawled his way out of the small cramp room.
“Guys! Zero’s hurt!” Valiant yelled.
Everyone came running towards him in worry.
“Did he get injured?”
“What’s going on?”
The smoke that enveloped his body became even more apparent covering the large cave. A constant pain erupted outwards from his heart and to the ends of his toes. He could not stop the pain. His body was forced to change one at a time.
“Everyone get back! He’s changing! Something’s wrong!” Valiant pushed Reed from getting too close.
The others sprinted away before they could get tangled up with Zero’s transformation. They did not want to get squashed.
Zero’s hands were the first to transform, followed were his legs, then his body. Finally, his face became larger with dangerous glistening teeth and horns. His long tail thrashed around in chaos, whipping around like a whip.
Everyone was in a rush to not get hurt. They were jumping around, dodging, and even rolling away before they got smashed by Zero’s tail.
“Zero! Why are you doing this!” Valiant yelled. He jumped over Zero’s tail and rushed forward. Then, with all his might, he headbutted Zero in the head. From their headbutt, Zero’s senses slowly began to come back.
The smoke cleared away, leaving behind a large black and gold dragon that took up half the cave. Extra spines grew on his back, and tribal gold markings glowed all over his body. Even his muscles were three times thicker and stronger than his previous self.
Zero slowly got up and shook his head. Valiant and the rest gaped at the enormous size that Zero had grown. He was now as big as a two-story house. He could feel the pain vanishing away, and his mind became clear. Opening his eyes, his vision became sharp.
“What’s wrong?” Zero voice thunder throughout the cave.
Everyone squeaked in fright from the sudden dangerous aura that Zero gave off. They thought Zero was scary enough in his dragon form, but now he did not compare. Even though he did not have wings sprouting out his back, he still now looked and felt like a dragon.
His body’s gold marking faded, and his scales reverted to their usual shine. His gold eyes dangerously glowed bright even in the dimly light room, making everyone shudder.
“Is everyone alright?” Steam escaped his mouth and nose. His belly glowed gold, indicating that fire was churning.
“Y-Yes.” Squeaked Valiant. He shakily walked over in front of Zero. Valiant dwarfed in comparison to Zero by so much that Valiant looks like a mouse sitting in front of a hungry lion.
“W-w-we were just w-w-worried that something happened to you.”
“Me?” Zero slowly laid down so Valiant did not have to strain his neck. He gently rested his head on his claws and stared down at Valiant. Even his head was considered enormous compared to Valiant’s small black body.
A puff of smoke escaped Zero’s lips and wrapped around Valiant. “I’m not sure what happened. Did you all become smaller?”
Valiant shook his head. “You got bigger.”
A message appeared before Zero.
The silver Beatles’ magical power stimulated your growth. No more are you a dragon child instead, your dragon body has gone into a rapid period of growth. Your body will continually grow over time into adulthood. A silver beetle is necessary to develop young dragons during dangerous times. Your power, strength, magic, and ability have strengthened. Without it, one would naturally grow slowly over time throughout the decades.
Huh? Zero was awed at the message that was in front of him. But, of course, he did not expect those silver beetles to be a stimulant for his growth spurt.
“I’m fine. I think I grew once again.” Zero chuckled. His chuckle rumbled to the ground, making everyone brace themselves.
“Quit laughing, you lump of lizard meat. You’re going to bring the whole cave down!” M2 smacked Zero’s face. However, zero’s intimidation did not phase him.
“Wh-a-a-t?” Valiant stuttered when he saw what M2 had done. He ran towards Reed in fright for fear of what Zero would do next.
“I can’t laugh now?” Zero frowned. He blew smoke into M2’s face.
M2 coughed hard and waved the smoke out of his face. “This is like secondhand smoking. Quit that!”
“Have some more for the slap.” Zero blew another whiff of smoke in M2’s face and smirked.
“Why you,” M2 growled.
Both of them glared at each other, creating an intense spark that could start a small-scale battle.
“Please Stop!” Den cried out. The smallest out of all dragons raced up in between both M2 and Zero to quell the spark. “You’re going to kill us all!”
Zero turned his gaze toward the white dragon that was on his nose. He blew hard, and Den was flipped into the air and landed on M2’s head.
“She’s right. I don’t think you want to bury us all.” M2 spoke. He picked Den off his head and held her in his arm. Gently petting her, he smiled.
“I know. I’m not going to break down this cave just to kill all of us.”
“That’s good to hear.”
“Zero, did you level up?” Den’s sweet voice called out to him.
“No, I ate a bug and grew.”
Everyone was stumped by what Zero meant.
“A bug?” Den let out a gag. The other were feeling a bit nauseous when they heard what he said.
“Let me show you.” Zero pulled himself back into his human form. This time, the transition from one form to another was much more fluid than ever. His magic consumption didn’t compare to when he was little when it ate up large amounts when he transformed.
Zero body was now a teenager. His look and age were around sixteen, and he was getting closer and closer to his original height. He was glad that he was getting taller; he missed his height.
Walking back towards the small room with the silver beetles, Zero quickly gathered almost all the beetles stuck to the wall. He left a couple so they could reproduce. He quickly put them in his Zenith pouch and walked out. The swarm of bugs did not happen when he touched the silver beetles. He expected the reason was that he ate one, and the beetles thought the magic energy that Zero was giving off was one of their own.
Zero walked over towards Den and M2. “Open your hands, but don’t drop them.”
“Wh-hat?” Den opened up her small paws.
Zero felt the squishiness of her paws and placed a Queen Silver Beetle.
“What this?” Den curiously peered towards it. Swarms of silver beetles came toward her attempt to save their queen. Zero swiped it from her and stuffed it in her mouth. Alarmed at what she saw, she screamed. “Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeekkkkkkkkkkkkkkk Buuuuu-”
The whole cave rumbled and shook from the high, piercing scream but was cut short when her body unconsciously ate it. With one gulp, she swallowed it. Her face paled, and she jumped out of M2’s arms. She frantically ran around, causing a small-scale dust tornado.
“What the hell is wrong with her?” Turnip’s jaws dropped open in complete shock. “The same thing is happening to her like Zero!”
Everyone glanced around nervously at Den, wondering when her chaotic spasm would stop. In a matter of minutes, she flopped onto the ground, exhausted. A blue tribal marking appeared on her body, becoming longer and leaner. She grew to the size of a horse. Finally, the blue markings faded, leaving behind a white pearly skin that looked like opal.
“Are you okay?” Turnip ran up to her and gently nudged her.
“Turnip?” Den shakily got up and glanced around, confused. “Did I miss something?”
“You went freaky on us. What did Zero give you to grow so big?” Turnip sniffed at her. “You have this sweet scent coming off your body.”
“Sweet scent? Skittles?”
“What the heck are you guys even talking about?” Baku came over with Quill.
“I think Zero just fed some kind of dragon steroids to Den. So that’s my only solution.” Quill replied chirpily. “Feed Baku one, please!”
“Hell no! If it’s a steroid, I don’t want it. Don’t you know how bad that is to your body?”
“Calm down; it’s just a beetle.” Zero popped a silver beetle in Baku’s mouth.
“B-b-beet*glarb*” Baku’s mouth was stuffed with the silver beetle that Zero gave him, and he, too, went into a strange hypnotic transformation. The ground underneath Baku’s feet turned completely metallic and spread around him. The metal shifted and changed into a large silver flower, encompassing Baku completely.
Zero eyes gleamed dangerously as he looked at the remaining baby dragons. Everyone shivered and felt like their lives were in even more danger now than when Zero was in his dragon form. Nevertheless, zero was chuckling as he grabbed and stuffed a beetle in Turnip’s mouth.
A splash of water erupted around Turnip as it swirled around him. Zero went around and chased after Kai, Val, Bee, and Seka. Each stuffed with a beetle in their mouth. Every single one of them went into a transformation and grew to be the size of a horse.
“You’re the last one.” Zero towered over Valiant with a glint of mischief. His hands slowly bore down upon Valiant, who was pinned against the wall.
“N-n-n-o-no-no, you can’t. I’m innocent!” Valiant’s ears were pulled back in fright. His tail shuddered and shook underneath him.
“What the hell are you spewing.” Zero grabbed him and roughly stuffed a beetle in his mouth.
Valiant shuddered and fell down onto the group with a flop. His green eyes glowed bright and black flames erupted around him. Three large skeleton’s emerged from the ground protecting him with swords.
Zero backed up, satisfied with giving all of them the beetles to help them grow. He wiped his hands on his pants and waited for Valiant to grow. Seka and Valiant grew the most out of the eight dragons, and they no longer looked like sweet innocent foxes. Instead, they were the same size when Zero fought Lilith. They even had small horns starting to grow out of their skulls.
“Are you trying to kill us!” Kai’s prowled over like a panther heated with anger. “You could have told us what it does, then forcefully fed us!”
Zero shrugged his shoulders and did not reply.
“Calm down. I don’t think you want to go head-to-head with Zero right now.” Leona gently patted Kai’s emerald green skin. “Plus, you look so handsome now.” She gazed at him with sparkling eyes.
“I- wait, um-” Kai stuttered. He blushed scarlet red and bowed his head.
“Sit down so that I can climb on your back.”
“Wh-ha?” Exclaimed Kai, his legs shook, and his leg gave out.
“Thanks!” Leona climbed onto his back like he was a horse. “Come on, gooooooo~” She pointed towards the exit.
“I-I don’t think this is a good time to go right now.”
Leona puffed up her cheeks and frowned.
“Let’s go.” Zero didn’t explain a single thing and instead whistled with glee. His job was done, and the strange problem was found. He needed to remember to come back another day to farm the Queen Silver Beetles and sell them.
“B-but you haven’t explained anything!” Kai chased after Zero.
“You already know the answer. Just accept it. Let’s get out of here and go to the sauna.”
“Sauna? I’m in!” Bee trotted next to Kai.
Kai gave up and followed the rest of the crowd. Every single one of their partners rode on the young dragon’s back as they returned back to the top. The trip back was easily bypassed as the Lunar Rabbits killed off any enemies quickly. The dragons and their companions could also dispatch any monsters without needing the Lunar Rabbits’ help anymore.
“They’ve come a long way.” M2 was walking next to Zero.
Both Zero and M2 did not take a single part in the extermination of the monsters. Instead, they leisurely walked, conversing with one another till they reached the exit. They then walked back to the Draconis Village and went towards the Bathhouse.
The baby dragons and even residents were looking at Zero with awe. Eight large dragons with their companions riding on their backs were following him closely. Even the Lunar Rabbits walked behind him like soldiers. Only M2 was walking next to him with his hands against his head as if nothing was wrong. They were like personal bodyguards. Their intimidating aura made others move back with unease.
“They are larger dragons in town?”
The whispers of townsfolk curiously stared and talked among themselves. They were a lot more new baby dragons appearing every day. The streets were filled with brimming with life and happiness. Bronze baby dragons sang their new songs as people sat down to hear them sing.
“Are they the elites?”
“How were they able to grow so fast? I wonder what level they are?”
“Isn’t the average level for a dragon right now only in the fifties?”
“I don’t know, but it seems those eight have possibly hit higher than that.”
“Wow, they must be the first dragons of their color to hit a growth spurt.”
“Did Zero personally train them?”
“I don’t know, but I am reaching their level soon.”
Zero reached the bathhouse and went in. A young female Lunar Rabbit was stationed at the front desk taking in customers.
“Chief Librarian.” The Lunar Rabbit smiled. “You came to take a bath today?”
“Yes. How much do I owe?” Zero rummaged through his Zenith Pouch for coins.
“Please, you do not have to pay. You may go in for free.”
“Really?” Zero asked, enthralled at the prospect that he did not have to pay.
“Yes. Even your partner has gone in ahead.”
“Partner?” Zero tilted his head confused. “Oh! You mean Agnis.”
The Lunar Rabbit shook her head. “We have two different types of bath, one for Drezo Regalia in their Dragon form, while the other is for a human form.”
“A dragon bath?”
“Yes, since you have shifted into your dragon form, you have a larger pool. There, we will have a couple of people available to clean your body. Did you not think that your dragon form needed to be washed?”
“I thought my human body would wash my dragon form as well.”
“Yes, it will, but we also offer a dragon bath. Many of our customers have reported it to be an entirely different feeling. So would you like to try?”
Zero thought it over. Was there a difference in taking a shower between the human or dragon form?
“Your partner may go in with you, though they will be wearing a swimming suit instead. It will be one gold coin to use.”
“Come on, Zero. I’m going to try it.” Valiant nudged Zero from the back. “Reed, sign me up!”
Reed sighed and fished out money to pay for both Valiant and Reed.
“Once you are done taking a shower, please shift forms to a designated area. You must take off all your clothes before entering the pool.” The Lunar Rabbit pointed towards the third door.
Zero followed. Everyone else went in as well, curious about what they would see. The third door was divided into male and female, and all went their separate ways. A male Lunar Rabbit handed him a towel and blue shorts. The rabbit motions him to a changing room.
Quickly taking off his clothes, he put on the shorts he was given. Then he went through a different door, where a sign stated to change. Zero followed the directions and shifted forms.
Stepping out, he was at a gigantic pool with smaller pools surrounding it. Hot steam erupted around them, making the bathhouse misty. To him, it reminded him of a regular pool with girls and guys in their swimming suits. The only difference was that dragons of different sizes and color occupied the smaller pool. Their companion and a human attendant attended each being.
Zero was the only one who towered in size, while the eight dragons were the second biggest in the entire Bathhouse. The rest were filled with small baby dragons ranging from a wolf to a small fox cub.
They all stopped and stared at Zero and the eight dragons that trailed behind him. Even their companions beside them started as everyone made their way to their respective open pool.
“Zero?” Agnis called out. She was sitting on the edge of the hot pool wearing a bikini. A group of small baby dragons was sitting around her, being petted.
“Agnis? What are you doing here?”
“Playing with the baby dragons.”
“In a bathhouse?” Zero stares, appalled at Agnis’ mentality.
“Yea, why not? They even have small kiddy pools for the baby dragons to play in. It’s so cute that I couldn’t help myself.”
“Are you a dragon pervert?”
There was dead silence. Agnis got up and walked towards Zero. She patted him on his shoulder, and suddenly a flying fist came at his face.
Zero faces hit the concrete, leaving behind a large crack in the ground. He could feel a sharp sting on his face. Blood dripped from his mouth and he slowly got up.
“Agnis!” Zero roared. His claws extended, and he slashed downwards at her.
Agnis jumped out of harm’s way and jumped into the pool. Zero followed behind her and jumped in. A huge wave was created from the splash, causing anyone in the pool to become swallowed up in the water.
“Agnis! Get your ass back here!”
Zero splashed and snapped at her. Agnis swam and used her water magic to steer quickly. Then, like a slippery eel, she dodged and swam in between his legs and arms.
She carefully swam towards his tail, popping out of the water behind Zero. Zero frantically looked around and turned his neck. He saw her attached to his tail. With a quick flick of his tail, he threw her up into the air.
“Gotcha!” Zero opened his mouth like a crocodile, ready to snap her up in one bite.
Inhaling her breath, she let out a large gust of wind that temporarily kept her afloat. Unfortunately, zero snapped too early, and Agnis tumbled down onto his face. She slid down his back and onto a solid floor.
“Well, that was a good workout.” Agnis patted her hands. She squeezed her white hair, letting water drip away.
Zero’s claw hands came crashing down from above and pinned her onto the wet floor. “You think you can escape?” He closed his fingers around her and picked her up.
“Well, yes,” Agnis stated and stared without flinching.
This damn woman. Zero eyed her evilly. “Was that necessary?”
“Yes. Though I believe your whole tantrum wasn’t.”
“My tantrum she says.” Dangerous black smoke was escaping his mouth. He was ready to blow Black Fire at her beautiful face.
“Could you put me down, please? You just undid my bikini, and I can’t tie it back with my hands pinned against my side.”
“Wh-ha–at?” Zero stuttered. His eyes glanced down and noticed that the bikini straps were untied. The only thing keeping it from falling was his dragon’s hand. His face flushed completely scarlet, and he panicked.
Looking around, he saw that everyone had their eyes on him. If he were not careful, the whole thing would fall off for everyone to see. “W-w-wait a moment.” All his fumes quickly disappeared in seconds.
He pulled himself out of the water and got on land. He gently placed her down on the floor without letting her go. Quickly he wrapped his large body around her creating a wall that no one could see. Then, turning his head away, he let go and stood guard.
“Well, aren’t you, gentleman.” Agnis grabbed hold of her strings and pulled them up so they would not fall.
“Just hurry up.” Zero tried his best not to let anyone else take a peek. Why the hell was he going this far? He just didn’t know.
“What’s going on?” Den zipped onto his back. Her white scales glistened like snow.
“Get off, Den.” Zero growled. He snapped at Den, but she disappeared and reappeared right next to Agnis. He looked around, wondering where she was.
“Oh, I can help you with that,” Den replied chirpily.
“Who?” Agnis turned around to see Den beside her.
Den held up her claws, motioning her to turn around. “I’m not a guy, so don’t worry. We girls need to ensure they don’t take advantage of us.”
“Ah, I see.” Agnis turned around for Den to help her.
Valiant and Baku climbed onto Zero’s back, wondering what Zero was hiding.
“Hey, you boys are peeking!” Den snapped. She spits out pieces of small flint that knock both of them off Zero’s back.
Zero turned and snapped at the two dragons. He grabbed both of their tails and threw them toward the pool. With a loud splash, they disappeared into the water. Lucky for Zero, he saw a momentary glimpse of Agnis’ chest.
Den sat on her haunches and reached over. Her delicate fingers carefully tied it for her. “There.
“Thanks.” Agnis pulled her hair back.
“No problem.” Den winked. “My name is Den.”
“Hi, my name is Agnis. I’m Zero’s partner.”
“Oh! So you’re the elf that everybody is talking about. So that makes sense how you were able to
go head-to-head with Zero.”
“Well, I just got lucky and got a quick swipe in,” Agnis smirked. “Calling me a pervert.”
“You can let me out now.” Agnis patted Zero’s legs.
Zero had a drizzle of red blood dripping out of his nose. The sudden flash of memory of Agnis was brought into his mind. His body heated up, turning the area around him hot.
“Zero, what’s wrong with you? Do you have a fever or something?” Agnis started to fan herself from the extensive body heat.
“No,” He squeaked. Pulling his body away from the Agnis, he let her out. He made his way towards a smaller pool in a daze and sank in. The pool started to bubble and turn even hotter, making it impossible for anyone to step in without getting burned.
“Chief Librarian. That water is too hot to wash you,” A female in a bikini was having a hard time getting in the pool. She was trying to scrub his down with a metal scrubber. “I need some cool water!” She called out to the other workers.
“Is everything alright?” Agnis came over.
Zero’s head rested on the edge of the pool, and his eyes widened when he noticed Agnis in front of him. The water he was in soon became boiling, so if anyone tried to get in, they would get a third-degree burn.
“What’s going on?” The lady stared with a complicated expression. “Did the heater break?”
“Is there anything I could help you with?” Agnis crossed her arms.
Zero stood frozen, unable to move. Between his scales, red and orange light emitted from him, and the water continued to rise in temperature. It got to the point where the water vapor was forming.
“We need cold water. At this rate, he’s going to burn!”
“I can help you with that.” Agnis raised her hands. “Ice Spear!”
Large icicles appeared around Zero and fell into open areas around Zero. Then, a flash of steam erupted around him, making it impossible to see till the clouds cleared.
Zero could feel the sudden drop in temperature. His mind finally cooled down, and he snuggled into the water. “This feels good.” His face was half submerged in water, and bubbles escaped his mouth.
“There. All done.” Agnis wiped her hands on her legs. “Give me one of those metal scrubbers. I’ll help out.”
The lady gave her one, and Agnis jumped into the pool. The water didn’t burn her. Instead, it was the right temperature. She climbed onto his broad back and rubbed between his spine. Zero couldn’t help but moan in pleasure; he didn’t realize how his back was itching till Agnis had scrubbed it.
The scrubbing on his back felt like a massage. He could feel the tight muscles on his back being released from the scrub. Other female workers climbed onto his back and started to help out in the cleaning process. Almost every inch of his body was being spotlessly cleaned.
He didn’t know how refreshing the feeling was to have his toes and fingernails from being scrubbed. Then, black scales fell off the scrub and started floating on the water. The workers scooped the scales and placed them on the side.
“Show me your teeth,” Agnis ordered. She held a giant toothbrush in her hands.
Zero opened his mouth, allowing Agnis to clean his teeth. Never in his life had he ever been pampered to such a point. It was a whole new experience, and he enjoyed every minute.
“Zero, you need to brush your teeth more. There is plaque building up. I got quite a bit off.” Agnis was busily scrubbing his front fangs. She quickly finished off the rest and pushed her hair back. Even washing his body, she still looked dazzling in her swimming suit.
“I’ll remember that.”
“Good, because it’s not a nice smell.”
“It’s fine. This is my apology for punching you.”
“You’re forgiven.” Zero turned his head towards her. “Can you scrub behind my horn? It has been bothering me a bit. The feathers on the side are not helping.”
“Sure,” Agnis reached over and started to scrub his horns. “What have you been doing recently? Unfortunately, I haven’t had a chance to hang out with you or Zeraph.”
“Well, this and that.”
“I heard from Zeraph that you are at the academy.”
“We’re not supposed to talk about that.” Zero hissed. He lowered his voice so that others could not hear.
“I know. I’m just confirming to see if you were there. I couldn’t find you anywhere I looked. I think our schedules are different.”
“Yea. I have also been hanging out with a couple of new friends.”
“Really? You made more friends?” Agnis’s voice was filled with a bit of jealousy. “I wish I could make friends like you. They draw to you like a lamp.”
“I’m not trying to make more.”
“Well, you just do.” Agnis brushed harder behind his ears.
“Ow, Ow. That area is sensitive. Please be more gentle.”
“Sorry.” She scrubbed it lightly. “I met Will. He’s in the same class as me.”
“Really? I was wondering why I was having trouble meeting him. I saw him but couldn’t talk to him at all.”
“You know there are three different groups. You’re in group C; I’m in group A. We won’t meet each other as easily as you think.”
“That could be a bit of a problem.”
“How did you even end up at the Academy?”
“My twin brothers.” Agnis stopped, and her scrubbing stopped.
“What’s wrong? Is everything okay?” He turned towards her. Zero noticed that her whole demeanor had changed and instead looked worried.
“Yea. I think so.”
Zero could sense something was wrong. How do I use that telepathy skill again? He thought it over. He opened his mind to listen to what Agnis had to say.
Should I tell him? No. It’s not a good idea. They took them away. How could they do this to my siblings? What are they even planning on? I’m no psychic, but for them to be snatched away first. This doesn’t seem right. I cannot tell Kiyro, or my chance to save them will elude me.
Zero thought it over and he fell silent. He did not want to tell her that he had read her thoughts. He closed himself away from her mind. So these people are even kidnapping children. I didn’t know her brothers were at the Academy as well.
This was becoming more of a problem day by day. So far, he wasn’t able to have time to explore the building at all. The only three places he was allowed to go were the classroom, cafeteria, and Game Room. Besides that, everything was tightly monitored, making it almost impossible to sneak around.
Not only that, he noticed cameras hanging up on the corner of hallways and other important rooms. There were a couple of sweet spots that he had noticed where he could avoid the lens eyes, though it was only for a split moment. He still needed more information, and right now was still not the time to go running around and causing problems. The best solution was to blend with the group and keep his head down quietly.
“Everything is going to be alright.” Zero spoke, catching Agnis off guard.
“What? What makes you say that?”
“I-” Agnis stuttered and pulled in the scrubber close to her chest. She breathed in and let out all her pent-up stress in one breath. “Thanks.”
Zero couldn’t help but feel a warm tingle in his heart. It was a pleasant feeling to know that someone believed in him. Even though his agenda had increased by a couple of folds, he felt at peace with himself.
“Well then, I feel clean now.” Zero stood up from the water and stepped out. He shook off the water like a dog.
“Hey!” Agnis was covering herself from the splash.
“My bad.” Zero whistled and began to walk out. He shifted into his human form and changed back into his clothes. Agnis and M2 were waiting for him outside when he left the Bathhouse. They were conversing with one another happily.
“I see you finished with your bath.” M2 whole fur looks puffy like a Persian cat.
Zero couldn’t help but stifle a chuckle from seeing M2.
“I look handsome, don’t I?” M2 chuckled. He pruned his hair with a comb. “This always happens when I take a shower, but it will eventually go down.”
“I like it,” Agnis replied. “You remind me of Tempest.”
“My cat that Zero is taking care of.”
“I see. You must know each other in real life.”
“Yes, I’ve known him since the convention.”
“Nice. I’m glad the game has created new boundaries between fellow people from across cities.”
“By the way, Zero, you have grown up a lot.” Agnis was circling him. Now Zero was the same height as Agnis; he still had a couple more inches to go before he was his average height.
“Dragon Growth spurt.”
“Nice. I’m surprised you grew so fast. It is almost like it was yesterday since you were a young pup. I do miss those days.”
“I don’t.” Zero flatly stated. Those were the times of hardship and horror. Being a pup was not something he ever thoroughly enjoyed.
“It’s alright. They are other small dragons running around. I’ll go play with a few of them.”
“I suggest you leave them alone. Their partners might not like it.”
“You think so?”
“Possibly, you’re taking away their bonding time.” Was it a hint of jealousy in his voice? No, that couldn’t be it.
“Hmm, your right. I’ll consider that.”
M2 chuckled as he watched both Zero and Agnis. “Is that a hint of jealously I’m hearing from you?” He eyed Zero with a mischievous grin.
“What are you talking about? I’m just saving a person’s life from evil clutches.”
“I highly doubt that.”
“I’m telling you the truth. All pups must stay away from her.” Zero could not stress enough how serious he was with what he had stated. Even still, he felt as if M2 did not believe him at all.
“What shall we do next?” M2 asked. His tail wagged side-to-side in happiness.
“Hunting, of course. We got two months left before we reach the city. I think leaving the city to level up should be useful, don’t you think?”
“True. Then let’s go.”
“I’m coming with you guys.”
“Sure, more the merrier, I guess.”
“Hey, isn’t that Zeraph?” Agnis pointed out in front of them.
Zeraph was moving back and forth, helping construction with the Lunar Rabbit.
“We should invite him too.”
“He seems a bit busy, though.”
“Zeraph? Who’s he?”
“A close friend of ours. He likes to disappear on us quite a bit. He’s really strong, especially his sword skill.”
“Oh? That’s interesting to know.”
“Zeraph!” Agnis waves toward him.
Zeraph stopped and turned towards them. His frown turned into a smile, and he waved. “Hey, guys, how has it been?”
“Nothing much; you been busy yourself?” Zero taps his hands against Zeraph.
“Yea, I have been helping with constructing the private home I paid to build.”
“Wait, this is your home?” I stopped and stared in awe. The building in front of me was almost like a mansion. “Where did you get the money to build something so big? It looks like it cost a fortune.”
“It sure did.” Zeraph handed the clipboard that he was holding to a Lunar Rabbit. “At the rate, it’s going; it should be finished in a week or two.”
“You got to let us come by when it’s complete,” Agnis replied.
“I’ll have a welcome party ready when it’s finished. Though there probably won’t be any furniture in it. I didn’t have enough for that.”
“I thought you would,” said Zero.
“Nah, I need to gather some more funds for that. But, at least I will have a bed to sleep on. By
the way, Zero, you’ve grown.”
“Dragon growth spurt.”
“Not bad. I’m guessing you grew in your dragon form as well?”
“Not bad. Not bad at all.” Zeraph patted my shoulders.
“Aren’t you supposed to be, you know, taking care of students? I thought you wouldn’t be on today.”
“Nah, I have to play this game too, you know. It’s a requirement.”
“Yea, that was part of the contract.”
“Are you guys talking about the Yami Hikari contract for players?” M2 asked. He jumped in on the conversation.
“Something like that.”
“That’s pretty cool,” M2 spoke elatedly. “How is it, like, do you get any benefits?”
Zero stared, wondering what Zeraph would say. He knew that Zeraph was also under strict observation, and he could not spill out anything about the Academy they were in. He was worried that one wrong word could cause possible death to Zeraph, even though he felt like Zeraph was not the type to spill easily.
“Nope. Not at all. Just a regular player that needs to give a daily report. Nothing more, nothing less.”
“That sucks. I thought they would be something more.” M2 sighed. “Well, I wasn’t fast enough to hit 150 to get the spot.”
Now that he thought about it, both Agnis and Zeraph were selected by the Yami Hikari company. He was unlucky enough not to make it through. “Wait, Agnis, weren’t you also selected as a play
tester for the Yami Hikari company?”
“Yea, though there isn’t much to it. As Zeraph said, I need to send in reports to the company. The money gets dropped weekly, so it isn’t much of a big deal.”
“Lucky,” Zero grumbled. He wished he was also selected, but his time was over. All he could do now was to find a different path in making money, getting out of the crazy Psychic Academy with his friends, and finding his elusive brother.
“We should go and hunt now,” M2 spoke.
“Come with us, Zeraph. It’s a lot more fun having more people.” Agnis replied cheerfully.
“Sure, why not. The Lunar Rabbits will finish the project without my help anyways.”
“It’s decided. Where shall we go?”
“Wander around for a while, I guess. There isn’t anything that I could think of that near here.”
“Lead the way, Zero.”
Zero nodded. They all went towards the boat that led back down into the forest.
How many days has it been trekking through this wretched forest? Russ wiped the sweat off his face. He was riding on a brown war horse that the king had given him. Five thousand soldiers followed behind him drudgingly.
Every single one of them was sweating from the hot, humid air. They had fought countless monsters through the forest. The soldiers had grown considerably in their level, but their movement was slow. It was not easy fighting the monster and advancing forwards, especially with the large group he led.
“Sir, It’s been over two and half months. So far, we have not seen a single sighting of the flying library. Are you sure we are going the correct way?” A Captain of the Royal guards came up next to him, riding on a black horse.
“We are. The Intel suggested that there have been reports of the city appearing and heading towards the City of Elements.”
“But, sir, that was a month ago. We have no other signs that they are going the same way. They could have changed directions.”
Russ glared at him, shutting the Captain up. An evil aura emitted out of Russ’s body, making the Captain and the horse uncomfortable.
“Captain!” A young scout approaches them in a hurry. The horse stopped in front of them, panting.
“We have a small village on site. There have been reports that a large black and gold dragon appeared around the surrounding area.”
“Not only that, but they were also other smaller dragons with companions walking beside the larger lizard.”
“What they are more?” The Captain was stunned by the report.
“I expected they would be more,” Russ spoke with indifference.
“Yes. What else did you learn?”
“From the villager’s report, the gold and the black dragon is supposedly as tall as a two-story building. Not only that the smaller dragons are as big as a horse.”
“T-t-two-story building?” Exclaimed the Captain, distraught. “He’s even bigger than before. How is this possible? How are we supposed to slay a dragon? No one has ever killed a dragon for two thousand years.”
Russ ignored the Captain. “How many of the smaller ones?”
“Um, they said that they were eight.”
“Eight? There is more?” The Captain was shocked.
“Eight…I see.” Russ patted his horse’s neck. “Calm down; it’s not something to worry about. We have five thousand troops behind us. What can nine dragons do to us?”
The Captain slowly returned to his regular persona when he realized what Russ had said. “I’m sorry, sir. It just astounded me how quickly they are multiplying.”
“It’s fine. What are the colors that you have seen?”
“Red, Gold, Black, White, Silver, Blue, Bronze, and Green.”
“Did you get any information on their abilities?”
“No sir, nothing.” The messenger shook his head. “Though I did hear that the Bronze dragon supposedly had a beautiful voice. One could say that it could even rival an angel’s voice.”
“Preposterous.” The Captain shook his head in denial. “Dragon’s singing? What next? Leprechauns appearing and humanoid cats?”
“I believe that there are Leprechauns, sir.”
“Believe what you want,” The Captain shook his head in disdain. “They are all just myths.”
“When was the last time the dragons were sighted?”
“Three days ago.”
“Three days!” Captain turned towards Russ, excited. “Sir, that means we’re are definitely on their trail. I wouldn’t be surprised if we ended up finding them soon.”
“That would be something worth looking forward to.” Russ’s lips curled into a sinister curl. His revenge was near; it was only a matter of time before he would crush the so-called pest that lived in the Royal Library. He could feel his reward calling when he returned with the head of the black and gold dragon.
Delighted, he spurred his horse forward. “Move out. We need to pick up our pace or be left behind. Then, ifThen, if they are only three days ahead, we can close our distance between them.”
“Yes, sir!” Captain yelled in excitement.
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