A Dragon’s Curiosity

Chapter 9: Living Together

When Little Flame walked into the house for the first time, the radiance of several items startled it badly. Prior to encountering Eldrin the scaled beast had only seen two types of glows. Most of the monsters the dragon had seen so far were emitting a glow proportional to their strength, and it had helped the lizard avoiding strong enemies in the past.
That kind of glow had been spreading out a strong feeling of vitality, and was usually clad around the beast’s limbs, permeating slightly into their surroundings.
That peculiar gleam of vitality didn’t have a distinct color and only gave off a feeling of vigor. If Little Flame had to match it with a hue, it would most likely answer something like a mix of light red and deep green, yet it was neither of these.
Furthermore there were small distinctions between the energy from different elements, a flame type monster would give off a ferocious flickering aura, while a water monster would exude a smooth, flowing atmosphere.
The curious dragon had long ago learned to pair these types of energy with a corresponding element, but monsters with affinities other than fire, water, wind and earth were extremely rare.

The second type of glow could be described even more easily by Little Flame, as each type had a really different color. The first time Little Flame saw that particular type of shine was on its siblings. Indeed, additionally to their elemental vitality, their inner being had began to contain a soft glow in the hue of their scales after living in the cave for some time. When the queens of the fairy and harpy tribe had visited, the dragon observed the same internal glow in each of them. The fairy queen carried a pure white tint, while the harpy queen radiated a green tint like Little Breeze.
Through sparring with other distinguished beasts in the vicinity of the Dragon’s Den, the first master of the Dragon’s Den learned to identify almost all variations of the power-wielders colors. After getting familiar with the different kinds of vitality, it had found simpler to recognize the colours of the different elements.

The room contained items of all sorts, made out of wood or stone, that glowed in different hues of vitality and power. From the brightest radiance to the dimmest shimmer, almost any furniture alone could blind Little Flame.
Trying to put aside that feeling, the overwhelmed creature managed to adjust a little bit, blocking out most of the lights. With this major inconvenience solved, the way deeper into the house was available for the proud animal as it followed behind Eldrin who had waited at the beginning of the path up into the upper layers of the nest.
Blinking a few more times to get rid of the lingering pain caused by the brightness, Little Flame finally made it to Eldrin and carefully treaded in the room, its claws ringing on the wooden steps.

In the upper floor Eldrin had quickly prepared a room next to his own for the injured dragon to rest, laying some of the blankets meant to be used for beast companions on the bed, remnants of the time when the hunting grounds were still a pastime for the late king. Drowning in a fluffy bedding comparable to the one it was possessing back in the Dragon’s Den, Little flame fell asleep.

Greeted by the rising sun in the morning, the refreshed dragon woke up. At the sight of the unfamiliar room, Little Flame was startled, right before remembering the events of the last day. Especially the impulsive decision to trust Eldrin without second thoughts, which couldn’t be explained by a simple excuse such as being tired and injured ; and the majestic dragon even went as far as to follow him inside an unknown nest and falling recklessly asleep without doubting his intentions. The embarrassed creature curled up into a ball beneath the blankets and scolded itself for having acted so foolishly.
Wiggling back and forth until it fell on the ground, the blanket landing on its head, the flustered beast finally decided to walk down to the lower floor.

Sitting on a wooden object, Eldrin was studying one of the few things that did not light up in Little Flame’s perception of its surrounding, while eating an unknown substance contained in a stone bowl. The smell reminded the dragon of the chickens the [Grey Gnomes] liked to rear as livestock back in the Dragon’s Den, enticing enough to have its stomach utter a small growl.
The old elf looked up as if he had only noticed the guest watching him. He chuckled imperceptibly and pointed towards the side of the table, where another two big stone bowls were placed on the ground, one filled with a white liquid, while the other contained chunks of meat.
Carefully eyeing its host, the hungry lizard stepped past the nest’s owner and prudently probed the meat, anxiously gnawing a bit off. The results came as ‘no trace of powers used on the meal’, and ‘satisfying taste’.
Moving onto the white liquid, Little Flame licked a small amount from the surface with its tongue, conscientiously tasting it like it had done with the meat. Surprised by the unknown flavour,the lizard stared at the delicious beverage, wondering what kind of drink could have this aroma.

As the dragon was examining the food closely, Eldrin stopped chuckling and beamed with a wicked smile at the cautious creature.
“It’s called milk and comes from the monsters outside. Is it to your liking?”
Faced with the mean smile of the elf, Little Flame proceeded to meticulously take little bites and sips from the meal offered by him, glancing up from time to time.
“I don’t know your name, but based on your manners I think I’ll call you Nibbles.”
The remark felt wrong to the dragon. Although it didn’t know the meaning of Nibbles, the malicious glint in Eldrin’s eyes and mischievous smile on his face caused it to sulk again, albeit the meal still got steadily consumed in small portions.

Having teased his guest to his heart’s content, the old elf was returning to his own breakfast, when Little Flame deeply shocked him, retorting to his comment.
“Name … not Nibbles. I’m … Little Flame.”
The astonished elf dropped the metal sticks in his hand and abruptly turned around, taking a very close look at his speaking guest.
“You’re able to talk? How is this possible?”
His astounded voice slightly scared the dragon, making it shrink back from the inspection, and wish it hadn’t spoke up.
Forcing itself to ignore the inquisitive gaze, the scared lizard resumed the meal, nibbling on the meat and taking many small sips of the milk, while Eldrin continued to look at this scene, his own meal forgotten.


The beast sitting in his house embodied a true enigma for Eldrin. When he had encountered the dragon in the [Stone Breaker Trolls]’s burrow, these mesmerizing golden eyes had given him the impression that they were containing a strong intelligence. After giving the noble’s party a piece of his mind through his status as a lord, he chased them away.
Before taking the maids the party left behind with him, and who got injured because of the [Walls of Wind] spell that had been enchanted on his favourite robe by his deceased wife, he had tested his intuition and offered the dragon to follow him, talking in the adventurers tongue, or common tongue, spoken by most monster races.

Luckily the beast had understood him, and when he returned downstairs without a sound after using [Fountain of Life], a rank 5 healing spell of the water system, on the two maids to help them recover from the wounds they incurred from the defensive spell on his robe, although it was unable to fully cure them since his understanding of healing magic wasn’t sufficient, the dragon was in front of his door, staring at his staff. He wasn’t very worried about the curious beast breaking the staff, and used this opportunity to carefully observe its appearance.
The creature was standing at around half his height, similar to one of the [Sanguine Lions] that most of the kingdom’s elite knights were raising, but it was releasing a pressure slightly stronger than the rank 4 cat-kind beasts.
Cladded in a beautiful dress of night-like black scales with vermillion tips, each of the dragon’s slender limbs seemed lithe, but Eldrin had already witnessed the strength concealed within them, rendered obvious by the remains of the [Iron Eater Troll]. Furthermore, a silvery white line ran along the backside of each arm and leg, gathering near the spine, and ending at the beginning of its nape. Pearl white claws and teeth offered strong weapons to the dangerous animal to rip apart and shred the enemy.
As a result of ranking up and desiring power, monsters and beasts often gained beauty in proportion to their strength and objectively the small dragon could be called exquisite. A mix of elegance and raw power, fusing together to create an enticing picture of the perfect predator.
Yet the golden eyes were by far more captivating than the beast’s wild beauty, gazing at the world with a profound awareness of its surroundings, a deep intelligence hardly hidden.

Deliberately making some noise, the black head shot up, looking interrogatively at him, glancing back at the staff, then him again. Eldrin grumbled to himself for a bit, before smiling at the anxious beast.
“That’s a magic staff, the gem on top of it helps me to channel mana. There is also an enchantment on the cane containing a rank 5 spell. Go ahead and look at it.”
Wagging its long tail in happiness, the dragon started playing with the weapon on the ground as soon as the elf finished talking.
To his surprise the dragon controlled its mana skillfully enough to send it into the staff, lighting up the magical gem at the top and filling the [Lightning] enchantment with the energy required to use the spell.
Seemingly fascinated by the sparkling lights, the lively beast continued to circulate mana through the staff, poking and experimenting to create more lights.

“Aren’t you more of a cat than a lizard? Not only do you act like a cat, you sound like one too!”
Eldrin addressed the playing dragon, unable to suppress his amusement anymore, and started laughing so hard he had to hold his stomach.
The beast in question had immediately begun sulking at once and looked away, causing the elf to ponder on how cute it behaved, and at the same time could as well understand much more than the common beast.
After introducing himself, he prepared a room for his guest to recover from its wounds and headed out a last time to gather and lock away the [Sapphire Cows] into the stable inside the stonewall next to the cottage.
Dyed in the red light from the sun setting on the horizon, he thought about the maids and his new mysterious guest; tomorrow should be one of the most exciting days he would experience in a long time.
With this final thought Eldrin went back to his room, took off his shoes and flung his pants into a corner. Then, he folded his robe with utmost care before placing it on the nightstand and went to sleep.

Before sunrise, on the next morning Eldrin had already headed out into the stable. He milked the [Sapphire Cows] before letting all of them but one out into the grassy field and collected the eggs from his [Ice Chickens].
Afterwards he butchered the cow that was left behind. Due to the fact that his usual diet didn’t include much meat he hadn’t enough stored in the cold room and therefore decided to prepare additional supplies.
Placing the remains of the cow in his soul space for the time being, he moved to the kitchen and cooked some food for the maids, his enigmatic tenant, and himself, taking into account the preferences of each individual.
As the sun sent its first warm rays of light through the window, the old elf started cleaning up, froze the remaining meat, and took a broth along with some tea to the room in which the injured maids were staying.

Based on their posture, the two of them hadn’t moved or woken up since Eldrin brought them back from the troll’s cave. The spell he had casted on them had healed most of their wounds, but they had been heavily injured – broken bones and heavy concussions. He wasn’t very proficient in the theory of healing magic and had no idea when or even if they would awaken. Eldrin carefully fed them with a bit of the broth and the tea, before leaving them alone again, as there wasn’t anymore he could do for either of the girls.

On his way back into the kitchen he passed by a store room and retrieved two of the stone dishes meant to be used by a familiar, as the gentle rays of the morning sun should soon awaken the sleeping dragon. Putting food and drinks in the dishes, he prepared the big table in the main room of the first floor for himself and his guest.

Waiting for his visitor to start his meal, he studied the big painting on the wall once more, looking for new sources of trouble, and discovered one of the elven knights, camping in the forest not far from his current location, keeping watch on the cottage from a dense thicket in the north.
Suddenly a loud rumbling right above his head startled Eldrin, causing him to drop his fork. Visualizing the layout of the upper floor, an amused smirk passed through his face as he realized who had fallen out from its bed.
Suppressing the cheerful expression, the old elf returned his attention to the painting, listening to the sound of claws jingling on the wooden steps.

Giving the dragon some time to consider the situation and observe him, Eldrin waited for its next move. However, as the cautious creature didn’t make any decision, he shifted his sight to the annoyingly patient lizard, gazing directly into the dazzling golden eyes.
To avoid scaring the guarded beast, the elf only pointed at the stone dish at his side. He had already been extremely puzzled when it decided to sleep at his place, but exhaustion was likely to have played a part in that. By sensibly approaching it, gaining trust through feeding it and playing the role of a mindful host, Eldrin hoped to have a chance to convince the dragon to stay a while longer, which would certainly liven up his days.
Though it glanced one more time suspiciously at him, the beast passed by him and arrived at the bowl, somewhat lowering its defenses against him.

Eldrin watched the little dragon peck at the milk and meat after having scrutinized it once more, taking one bite of each to taste it.
“It’s called milk and comes from the monsters outside. Is it to your liking?”
Seeing the beast stare at the milk, he encouraged it to continue eating. The comedic sight of a black scaled beast suspiciously savoring a new taste cheered Eldrin up, and reminded him of a peculiar scene of the past.
When he was still living in the capital with his wife, she had nursed one [Sanguine Lion]’s cub that had lost his mother.
Because the small thing had a habit to chew on everything he could get his paws on, she named the little guy Nibbles.
Recalling this scene of his past because of the little dragon, who carefully consumed the meal bit by bit, Eldrin had an impulsive idea.
“I don’t know your name, but based on your manners I think I’ll call you Nibbles.”

Satisfied with thoroughly teasing the cute little thing, he returned to his own breakfast, thinking about the matters he had to take care of that day. He would have to check on the maids one more time, maybe try to heal them again. The knight of the noble disturbance was keeping watch on the lodging, so he should set up a [Water Wall] to present the illusion of him being alone in here, hiding the dragon ; he should also check the storage rooms for more items fit for familiars, maybe the dragon could have a use for some of the leftover articles.
While being lost in his thoughts, a soft, silvery voice plunged his reflection into chaos.
“Name … not Nibbles. I’m … Little Flame.”
Forgetting everything else, he sharply turned around and stared at the improbable creature.
He already knew that the little dragon was awfully perceptive and could understand the common tongue more than it was supposed to, based on its reactions when he invited it inside the house or teased it. But never in a million years would he have imagined that it was also able to speak the language. As a matter of fact, most monster races had their own language and were able to understand at least a bit of other tongues, such as the common one. Yet there had never been a case where a beast or monster had been able to voice words, before reaching the legend rank that is.
Thrown into bewilderment by the unexpected development, the elf could only blankly stare at Little Flame, unsure how to react to the incredible revelation.

The dragon on the other hand squirmed uncomfortably at his reaction, unsure if it made him sad and tried to comfort him.
“Call me Nibbles … if you want?”
Recovering from his shock somewhat and admiring the good natured fellow, Eldrin tried to push the issue to the back of his mind.
“Certainly, if you’re fine with it”
Hiding his shock, the old elf took up the offer with a fiendish smile and giddy tone, striking the worried dragon with a realization.

It had just been tricked into being called Nibbles !

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