G2A Many GEOs
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Dragon short

Magus_Anon Feb 15th, 2020 1,425 Never
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  1. Zuhlo jumped up and down while shaking her claws. Her great leathery wings beat in time with her hops as she mentally prepared herself for the confrontation ahead.
  2.  
  3. “You can do it. Nothing to it.” She whispered to herself.
  4.  
  5. Shuffling through the leaf litter to the edge of a stream, she checked herself for the fifth time. Eyes? Stunning as always. Horns? Polished to a shine. Scales? Lustrous, but not blinding. Attire? Imposing and evocative. Teeth?
  6.  
  7. Zuhlo bared her teeth and pulled back her cheek with one finger. No scraps of meat to be seen. Her breath was already taken care of, she had eaten an entire mint plant on the way over.
  8.  
  9. Yes, today was the day she finally found a husband. All the lonely years would be a thing of the past once she picked herself out a cute boy to marry. This endeavor had cost Zuhlo a fortune in reference materials. Piles of books on how to approach, talk to, and bed men now littered her hoard.
  10.  
  11. “You can do this.” She reiterated to her reflection. “Confidence is key. Bold entrance, calming yet assertive greeting, sexy stance…”
  12. She practiced a few poses. Her scaly black legs were a nice contrast to the red dress she wore. This was a great recommendation from her friend.
  13.  
  14. “…And a reassuring smile.” She gave the water a confident smirk. “Afraid? Don’t be. I’ll keep you safe~”
  15.  
  16. She giggled and fluttered her wings. This was going to be perfect! No way he wouldn’t melt into her arms after a line like that. Taking a deep breath she looked into the stream one last time.
  17.  
  18. “Anyone can find love.” She said.
  19.  
  20. The famous phrase penned by the illustrious Madam Melty, a succubus who had written dozens of texts on the art of seduction and love. Hundreds of monsters credited her as the key to finding their husband. The Madam had even published several books personally responding to letters mamono had wrote to her in desperation. She would calmly break down the situation in a way the writer could understand, and give concise and easy to follow advice on what to do. A savant, if ever there were.
  21.  
  22. Zuhlo had practically memorized the special edition book she had written just for dragons.
  23.  
  24. “When approaching a potential husband, it is important to be confident. It is your goal to convince him that you can give him a better life, and that he will benefit from and enjoy your company. DO NOT BE IMPERIOUS. Though you may FEEL as if you are above the concerns of humans, remember that this will be your equal and partner for the rest of your life. Treating him with respect will give you an image of sagacity and magnanimity.”
  25.  
  26. Zuhlo scrunched her face and sighed. It was all so complicated! Where was the line between confidence and overbearing? What if the human got uppity? Surely it would be alright to calmly inform them of their inferiority.
  27.  
  28. She looked at her claws. This would be so much easier if all she had to do was swoop down like a harpy and nab one of them. No hassle, no humiliation, just a grim reminder that humans were permitted to exist freely only because mamono allowed it. Zuhlo smiled at the thought of some innocent boy struggling against her as she carried him off to her lair.
  29.  
  30. “Sexual assault must be a last resort. Though this is a more immediate way to procure a husband, men may foster resentment for days or weeks if they are kidnapped. Such acts of wanton force also alarm other humans who witness the incident. Dragons who wish to pursue a more romantic and traditional courtship should never have to resort to rape if the instructions in this book are put into practice.”
  31.  
  32. No. No resentment. Zuhlo looked up through the canopy at the sky. It had to be perfect, just like the story books that her mother used to read to her. A dashing dragon finding her beautiful husband, and spiriting him away to a life of love and luxury. Why would she settle for anything else? After all these years, she DESERVED it. She was a dragon after all. No sane human would ever miss the chance to bask in her presence.
  33.  
  34. “Remember, humans are just as afraid of you as you are of them.”
  35.  
  36. Zuhlo’s brow furrowed as she remembered the line. The one passage that she never understood despite reading it dozens of times. Why would she be afraid of a human? The bumbling, squishy things could barely survive on their own. A dragon was the antithesis of a human: strong, proud, independent, and cunning. She chuckled to herself, imagining a dragon cowering in fear of a dirty peasant half her size.
  37. Laughable.
  38.  
  39. Giving herself one more check, Zuhlo decided she was ready. Then again, it was getting late in the day. Maybe it would be better to arrive earlier. She was kind of tired today anyways…
  40.  
  41. She pictured herself nestled under her treasure, soundly sleeping.
  42.  
  43. Wait! What was the point of going back and going to sleep when she was so close? Soon she would have a precious husband to keep her warm.
  44.  
  45. Swallowing the lump in her throat, Zuhlo took to the skies and set out for the village.
  46.  
  47. ~~~~~~
  48.  
  49. “DRAGON!!”
  50.  
  51. Villagers screamed and ran as the first call went out. Farmers threw down their tools and sprinted for the church. People tripped over themselves as they flooded out of the market square and into the only stone building in town.
  52.  
  53. Fuck.
  54.  
  55. Zuhlo contemplated leaving as she watched the ensuing panic below her. One of the books had warned her that humans get nervous when monsters fly over them. Probably some prey instinct that a dragon wouldn’t understand. Wheeling out of the sky, she landed at the far side of the town and began walking towards the church.
  56.  
  57. How could humans live like this? Most of the buildings were a single story, with thatched rooves. The inn and market administration building were the only things that broke the sea of hovels. At least it would be easier to convince a boy to come with her; the dress she was wearing was probably worth more than half the buildings in this town.
  58.  
  59. Zuhlo could hear a few suppressed whimpers and heavy breaths as she passed down the cobble street. Her refined senses could tell which ones were men and which were women, but she left the stragglers in their homes. No need to scare them any further.
  60.  
  61. “Approaching a human settlement directly will often result in panic. To the humans, it appears as if a monster has come to devour them. I recommend bringing a gift, to present to the town elder or authority figure. Though this will not dispel all doubts from the inhabitants of the town, it will give credence to your claims of peace.”
  62.  
  63. She palmed the jewel she had picked out from her hoard. A painful loss, but a husband was worth far more. By the time she stood in the plaza in front of the church, she was shivering with excitement.
  64.  
  65. “Hear me, humans! You need not be afraid, for I am not the harbinger of your demise! Who amongst you shall speak on your behalf?” shouted Zuhlo.
  66.  
  67. Silence. Zuhlo’s ears perked up as she heard the faint sound of conversation from inside the church.
  68.  
  69. “Did you hear that?”
  70.  
  71. “She’s trying to lure out the elder!”
  72.  
  73. “Can’t trust dragons. Greedy bastards will stab you in the back for a rusty copper.”
  74.  
  75. Zuhlo pursed her lips and shut her eyes tightly as the people within the church continued to berate dragon kind.
  76.  
  77. “Do we send someone out?”
  78.  
  79. “That would be suicide.”
  80.  
  81. “Well SOMEONE has to go talk to it.”
  82.  
  83. “I mean you no harm.” Said Zuhlo trying her best to ignore their remarks. “I have even brought a gift to show my good will.”
  84.  
  85. A few people peeked out from the bell tower. Zuhlo held up the gem, a ruby the size of a melon, for them to see.
  86.  
  87. “Can you see what she has?”
  88.  
  89. “It’s got a gem! A big one.”
  90.  
  91. “Does she think we’re idiots? No one would ever fall for such an obvious bait.”
  92.  
  93. “She’s a dragon idiot. If she wanted us dead we would be ash by now. We don’t have any other choice but to trust her.”
  94.  
  95. Silence. Zuhlo cocked an eyebrow.
  96.  
  97. “I think Mund should go.”
  98.  
  99. “Yeah, Mund.”
  100.  
  101. “What?! ME?!”
  102.  
  103. “Shut up old man, you were trying to hold the doors shut when people were trying to get in.”
  104.  
  105. “I was keeping her out!”
  106.  
  107. “And now you’re going out.”
  108.  
  109. There was the sound of a scuffle and a piercing shriek. Something slammed against the other side of the door. The fighting continued for a few more seconds before one of the doors burst open. A haggard old man was thrown out into the street, landing hard on his brittle wrists. Zuhlo caught a glimpse of the terrified knot of people inside the church before the door slammed shut again.
  110.  
  111. The human, Mund apparently, saw Zuhlo standing before him and screamed. He tugged on the handle to the door but the people inside held it shut.
  112.  
  113. “So, you will speak for these people?” asked Zuhlo. This was terrible. What kind of foolishness was this?! Did they think this was some sort of game? They were human certainly, but surely most humans weren’t THIS stupid.
  114.  
  115. “Please! Eat them instead! I’m too chewy!” pleaded the old man.
  116.  
  117. Zuhlo held out the ruby. “Here. Take this and go show the others. I’m not here to hurt anyone.”
  118.  
  119. Mund continued to beg and grovel in a heap at the foot of the doors. The last of her patience evaporated with his cries and she walked over to him, thrusting the gem into his arms.
  120.  
  121. “Take it! And get in there!” she snarled.
  122.  
  123. Yanking open the door, the wood around the handle splintered as she almost pulled it out of the door. The people inside the church screamed as she pitched the old man in, who was now holding onto the gem for dear life. Zuhlo slammed the door shut behind her.
  124. Damn. This was bad. Already the image of a levelheaded beauty she had worked so hard to create was being put to the test.
  125.  
  126. “What did she do to you?”
  127.  
  128. “She tried to kill me!”
  129.  
  130. “No she didn’t. You’d be dead. What’s that in your hands?”
  131.  
  132. “Holy shit!”
  133.  
  134. “That thing’s probably worth more than I make in a decade!”
  135.  
  136. “Is that a gift for Mund?”
  137.  
  138. “That gem is a gift to all denizens of this village!” called Zuhlo.
  139.  
  140. After a few moments, a man appeared in the bell tower.
  141.  
  142. “O mighty dragon, for what purpose do you visit our VERY POOR village?” he called.
  143.  
  144. “I want you all out of that church for starters.”
  145.  
  146. The man retreated back into the chapel. A few moments later the doors creaked open. People began to shuffle out, keeping as far away from Zuhlo as possible while they spilled into the circle.
  147.  
  148. “Is this everyone?” asked Zuhlo, inspecting the crowd. There were already a few good looking men in the crowd.
  149.  
  150. “Everyone that was in the church…” replied a man.
  151.  
  152. “Very good.”
  153.  
  154. “So what would you have of us, dragon?”
  155.  
  156. “I have come for…” began Zuhlo.
  157.  
  158. Oh no. Zuhlo felt her face flush. What should she say? That she was here to pick out a husband? No way! That was way to embarrassing! She couldn’t just let the humans know, what if they laughed at her? Or what if the boy she liked tried to extort her for money?
  159.  
  160. “Do you need medicine? You look a little flushed…”
  161.  
  162. Zuhlo gasped and turned away from the man. “No! I don’t need any medicine!”
  163.  
  164. “Oh, I see. Then…” The man cocked an eyebrow and waited for her to declare her intent.
  165.  
  166. “I uh… I came to see my subjects!” said Zuhlo, puffing out her chest.
  167.  
  168. The crowd murmured nervously.
  169.  
  170. “We’re her subjects now?”
  171.  
  172. “Does that mean more taxes?”
  173.  
  174. “It means she’ll protect us right?”
  175.  
  176. “Fear not, humans! Though your awe is warranted, I have not come here today to extort riches or smite your foes.” Said Zuhlo. This was more like it. This was the way things should be, with humans cowering before her.
  177.  
  178. “I have come here today to take-“ Zuhlo coughed and grimaced as her voice cracked. “To take a uh, a…”
  179.  
  180. The square was silent as they waited for her. Zuhlo gulped as she looked around at the throng.
  181.  
  182. “T-to take a good look at the p-people in this town!” she stuttered.
  183.  
  184. “Well, I think this is almost everyone.”
  185.  
  186. “Good! Good. Err, how many men in this town are married?” asked Zuhlo, tapping her claws together.
  187.  
  188. “Milady?”
  189.  
  190. That had a good ring to it. She would have to make sure all these peasants addressed her like that. Lady Zuhlo. Yeah, that’s the stuff.
  191.  
  192. “I meant what I said, peon!” boomed Zuhlo, reinvigorated by her new title.
  193.  
  194. “I think there are a great many bachelors, and husbands alike, milady.”
  195.  
  196. “Then gather all the unmarried men here, in this square!” said Zuhlo. She extended her wings for emphasis.
  197.  
  198. The townsfolk looked at each other. Slowly, young men began to snake their way through the crowd to the front of the pack.
  199.  
  200. “The rest of you can go, I have no interest in you.” Said Zuhlo with a dismissive wave of her claw.
  201.  
  202. Most of the crowd needed no further encouragement to get away from their new tyrant. A loud rumble shook the foundations of the surrounding buildings as people stampeded home to collect their loved ones and valuables. Soon, only a handful of men remained in the square, huddled together in a ball. Some of the townsfolk stayed behind; men and women that must have had some sort of relation to the men now under the scrutiny of the dragon.
  203.  
  204. Zuhlo took a step forward. The ball of men stepped back. They jostled and shoved each other, trying to keep themselves from the front of the pack.
  205.  
  206. “H-hey! Stand still you louts!” said Zuhlo.
  207.  
  208. She took another step towards them. This time they stayed put, but seemed to lean away from her as much as possible.
  209.  
  210. “Do not be intimidated. Yes, I am as beautiful as I am powerful, but you have no reason to fear me.”
  211.  
  212. Confidence. Confidence is key. Madam Melty’s words rang in her ears as she looked over the men. She could hardly think with the sound of her heart hammering in her chest.
  213.  
  214. “And spread out! I want to see you all.” Demanded Zuhlo.
  215.  
  216. The men quickly unbunched, forming a wide horseshoe shape around her.
  217.  
  218. “No! In a line! Line up, and no more hiding behind each other!”
  219.  
  220. Eventually, the bachelors were organized in a long line in front of her.
  221.  
  222. Alright. Zuhlo took a deep breath. Now, all she had to do was choose one, and woo him. Nothing to it. Just find a cute boy, and tell him how it’s going to be. He’s going to marry you, and your going to give him the best life he could ever imagine. Leaving with you is a privilege. You’re kind, smart, wealthy, and stunningly beautiful.
  223.  
  224. She opened her eyes. Everyone in the town square stared back at her.
  225.  
  226. Blushing furiously, she turned away to avoid their gaze. Why! Why was it so hard?! Just pick one and be done with it!
  227.  
  228. Keeping her eyes on the cobblestone, she walked to one end of the line. Calling forth every once of her courage, Zuhlo looked at the first man.
  229.  
  230. He met her gaze with a diffident stare. Zuhlo’s mind went blank. He was afraid! This was normal; just assure him that there was nothing to worry about!
  231.  
  232. Her mouth opened and closed, letting out a little grunt or whine each time she tried to articulate that he was in no danger. On the contrary, the poor man looked even more terrified at her alien attempt at communication.
  233.  
  234. It was all because he was looking at her! Why did he have to stare back?!
  235.  
  236. “What are you looking at?! Don’t look at me!” roared Zuhlo.
  237.  
  238. The boy’s head snapped down so fast Zuhlo thought she heard a pop as his chin connected with his chest.
  239.  
  240. “No! Stay away from him!”
  241.  
  242. Zuhlo turned away from her prey, thankful for the reprieve from social courtesies. A woman broke free from the grip of an elderly man and rushed towards the man.
  243.  
  244. “Who are you?” asked Zuhlo coldly, flicking her tail in annoyance.
  245.  
  246. “I’m his girlfriend!” declared the woman. She clung to his side, clearly wanting to protect him but understandably just as afraid of the dragon as he was.
  247.  
  248. To be expected. Madam Melty had described this phenomenon in her book for dragons.
  249.  
  250. “Many times, a human may act in defiance when a dragon confronts them. It is important that all the draconic readers know that this is a manifestation of fear. Like a cornered animal, the human you have engaged may say something hurtful or demeaning. Remember, boys are just as afraid of you as you are of them.”
  251.  
  252. Clearly Melty had a few misconceptions about dragons. The idea that a dragon would be afraid of a mortal man was laughable.
  253.  
  254. Zuhlo huffed. “Normally I would punish you for your flippancy, but I have come here today in good will.” She turned to the crowd.
  255.  
  256. “Anyone who has a man they are courting may claim him now.”
  257.  
  258. Women slunk out of the crowd to claim their significant others. One by one, the couples embraced each other and hurried off without waiting for Zuhlo’s permission to leave. No matter, thought the dragon. She wasn’t here to break up the human’s relationships. Love was a precious thing; too important to selfishly ruin.
  259.  
  260. Who says dragons weren’t generous?
  261.  
  262. Snapping out of her egotistical daydream, she reassessed the remaining candidates. Still plenty of viable husbands. Okay! Time to pick.
  263. Shuffling along the line, Zuhlo found herself more focused on not tripping over the cobblestone than inspecting her suitors. They had learned well from the first man, keeping their eyes averted as she passed. Her heart throbbed. Even thought she didn’t like it when they gawked at her, she was a bit sad that none of them seemed as enraptured by her beauty as she had hoped.
  264.  
  265. Zuhlo did a double-take as she glanced further down the line of men. One of them was leaning out and watching her. His torso was bent ever so slightly over his waist as he leaned far enough to watch her as she approached. Unlike any of the others, he dared to raise his sight to her body. Not enough to meet her eyes, but far enough to admire her shapely figure.
  266.  
  267. Zuhlo’s claw left a sizable gash in a paving stone as she almost stumbled over her own feet. Cursing herself for letting one of her opulent claws get scuffed, she gulped and hurried over to the man. This was it! A man who was more enamored with her than he was afraid of her. Spreading her wings, she flapped and let the wind billow across her dress. Time for a proper introduction…
  268.  
  269. “You thEEr-“
  270.  
  271. Zuhlo’s hands flew over her mouth as her voice cracked. A tavern sign squeaked in the wind as a painful silence descended on the square. The man looked at the people standing next to him, then slowly pointed at himself.
  272.  
  273. Zuhlo nodded and coughed. Just play it off… He’s still interested. No one will remember that, you’ll make sure of it. Just start talking to him. Get the conversation going.
  274.  
  275. Her last cough cleared her throat, but had the unintended consequence of launching a small fireball into the air. Some of the bystanders screamed as wave of heat washed over them.
  276.  
  277. “Ah! No, that was an accident!” pleaded Zuhlo.
  278.  
  279. A boy in line, probably no older than twelve, began crying. Why was he even here?!
  280.  
  281. “Stop crying! I’m not here to hurt anyone.” Said Zuhlo.
  282.  
  283. The boy clamped his eyes shut, but couldn’t stop the long deep sobs that wracked his body. The men standing next to him did their best to ignore him as he continued to cry.
  284.  
  285. Ignore him, Zuhlo. You’ve got a potential mate right here.
  286.  
  287. “You there, human, what is your name?” she said, pointing at the man she was interested in.
  288.  
  289. “B-Bazz.” He gulped.
  290.  
  291. “Hmm. I see.” Nodded Zuhlo. Introduction: complete. Excellent. Now, the wooing. What did she need? Atmosphere and conversation. Right.
  292. Zuhlo looked around the square. A profoundly unromantic atmosphere, no matter how you cut it.
  293.  
  294. “Alright, the rest of you can go. Actually, you have to. Get lost.” Said Zuhlo.
  295.  
  296. The crowd breathed a collective sigh of relief as they quickly funneled out of the square and into the maze of town buildings. Soon, only Zuhlo and Bazz remained.
  297.  
  298. Perfect. Not the perfect candle lit evening, but this quaint little square was good enough. How hard could humans be to please anyways? Now for some engaging and natural conversation.
  299.  
  300. “S-so, Bazz, do you work?” asked Zuhlo. No matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t look him in the eye without getting a goofy grin on her face.
  301.  
  302. ~~~~~
  303.  
  304. Bazz could only stare at the dragon as she sneered at him. Was this truly his fate? Singled out and sacrificed to a dragon by his fellow villagers? Wasn’t it supposed to be some blushing virgin maiden in this position?
  305.  
  306. “Hey! Are you listening?” puffed the dragon. Her scaly hands rested on her hips. The looked big enough to palm his head. She could probably snap his neck with a flick of her wrist.
  307.  
  308. “What?” blurted Bazz. He hadn’t even realized that she had been speaking to him.
  309.  
  310. “Do you work? I mean, at a job? Where you do things?”
  311.  
  312. “I’m a blacksmith’s apprentice…”
  313.  
  314. So that’s what this was about. This covetous lizard was going to force him to craft a mountain of jewelry. Keep him locked away from the world, doomed to work gold into rings until his beard turned white and his fingers fell off.
  315.  
  316. The dragon chuckled and put one of her hands over her face. In an exaggerated twist, she flapped her wings, folding one so that it hid her face while the other stuck out to the side. She stayed like that for a few seconds, obscured behind a veil of bat-like membrane. Just as abruptly, she moved her wings back into their normal resting position behind her. Bazz noticed her face was a bit more red than before. Did that mean she was hungry?
  317.  
  318. “Wow! A blacksmith huh? Yeah, great, I like metal things.” Said the dragon. She fidgeted with her skirt as she spoke.
  319. Was she mocking him?
  320.  
  321. “So, yeah. Blacksmithing. Cool. Mmhmm…”
  322.  
  323. Before Bazz could question her intent, she folded one of her wings around her again, hiding her face from him. A moment later, she pulled her wing away.
  324.  
  325. “What do you do for fun?”
  326.  
  327. “Uhh… I drink at the tavern.”
  328.  
  329. “Oh awesome! Is it around here? I love a good… uhh…” she furrowed her brow and pensively placed a hand on her chin as she pondered. “… Umm… Ale! Yeah, ale is pretty good.”
  330.  
  331. “We can get you some ale of you would like, milady.” Said Bazz. Hopefully the monster would just take a keg and leave.
  332.  
  333. “Oh Bazz, no need to be so forma- WAIT!”
  334.  
  335. Bazz stumbled back and scooted away from the dragon as her wings burst out from behind her. Her demeanor switched from kind to frenzied in an instant. A lock of hair fell down over one of her eyes.
  336.  
  337. “DID I INTRODUCE MYSELF?!” shouted the dragon, pointing a claw at Bazz.
  338.  
  339. “Yes! Oh, yes, you did, oh benevolent and mighty dragon.” Said Bazz, taking a knee in front of her and bowing his head.
  340.  
  341. “No! I mean my name! Did I tell you my name?”
  342.  
  343. “…N-no.” said Bazz.
  344.  
  345. After a moment, he hazarded a glance at the monster. She was staring into space with a vacant look on her face.
  346.  
  347. “I ruined it…” she whispered.
  348.  
  349. “Huh?”
  350.  
  351. The dragon turned away from him. She muttered something to herself. Her tail swished back and forth as she apparently contemplated something.
  352.  
  353. “…No, I can salvage this. I’m the best damnit!” she loudly declared.
  354.  
  355. Facing him again, she puffed out her chest. “My name is Zuhlo, a proud dragon of a noble lineage.”
  356.  
  357. Bazz stared at her.
  358.  
  359. Zuhlo looked at him expectantly. “Well?”
  360.  
  361. “I am humbled by your presence, Lady Zuhlo.” Said Bazz, bowing again.
  362.  
  363. “Geeze, I told you there’s no need to be so formal with me.” Said Zuhlo giving him a friendly smile.
  364.  
  365. “What shall we call you then?”
  366.  
  367. “Just call me Zuhlo!”
  368.  
  369. “As you wish, Zuhlo.” Said Bazz hesitantly.
  370.  
  371. Zuhlo shuddered when he said her name. Was this some sort of trap? Was she angry now?
  372.  
  373. Zuhlo cleared her throat. “Anyways, you said that there was a good tavern around here? Maybe you could show it too me?”
  374.  
  375. That was a good sign. If she filled up on regular food, she would be less likely to eat anyone. Or gold… What did dragons eat anyways?
  376.  
  377. “Of course. Follow me.”
  378.  
  379. Keeping his distance, Bazz circled around her and began leading her towards the tavern. Even though he wanted to put as much distance as possible between himself and the dragon, he feared that moving too fast would trigger some sort of predator instinct in the beast. He risked a quick peek back. The dragon quickly looked away from him. Oh Chief God, please just let this nightmare end…
  380.  
  381. ~~~~~~
  382.  
  383. Everything was going according to plan. She had introduced herself, discussed like interests, and now was about to go on the first date. By the end of the day, Bazz would be asleep in her arms.
  384.  
  385. Zuhlo continued to follow Bazz down the narrow street, mindful of her tail as it swished contentedly behind her. It was probably strong enough to flatten one of these huts. She smiled as she imagined Bazz’s reaction to seeing her cave; a REAL home, fit for a higher being. And her husband. Oooh he was going to be so cute once she put him in some comfy clothes.
  386.  
  387. “T-this is it.” Said Bazz. He nervously shifted as he stood in front of a rickety wooden sign. Zuhlo smiled. Madam Melty had written about this: sometimes men would get nervous when they were around someone they loved.
  388.  
  389. “Oh, how charming!” said Zuhlo. In truth, she would never set claw in such a dirty place. The idea of eating with humans, peasant humans at that, was almost unbearable. But love is all about sacrifice. Doing her best not to grimace, she gestured for Bazz to go inside.
  390.  
  391. The din of the tavern was silenced by Zuhlo’s claws scraping across the wooden floor. A floorboard’s protest was the only noise as Zuhlo surveyed the room. Commoners gawked at her, unsure of what to do. Word had quickly spread throughout town, and the bartender was reveling in the extra business as villagers clamored to get what some thought to be their last drink.
  392.  
  393. “Hello, serfs. I am the mighty dragon Zuhlo. I require dining space for myself and my companion, Bazz.” Proclaimed Zuhlo.
  394.  
  395. Chaos erupted as the barflies scurried out the door like cornered rats. The more cowardly customers pushed their way through the kitchen into the alley behind the building, too afraid to get within striking distance of the dragon.
  396.  
  397. “Ah, good to see they know their place. You there, proprietor.” Said Zuhlo, pointing to the bartender.
  398.  
  399. The man snapped to attention.
  400.  
  401. “Your finest table, please.”
  402.  
  403. The bartender nearly vaulted the bar in his haste to clear off one of the booths. After he finished wiping down the table with a dirty rag, he stepped aside and gestured for them to sit down. Zuhlo adjusted her dress and sat down, looking expectantly at Bazz. He gulped and slowly slid into the seat across from her.
  404.  
  405. “Do you have a menu? The journey here has left me a bit famished.” Said Zuhlo.
  406.  
  407. “They don’t have a menu, what’s available changes with what they can get in stock.” Blurted Bazz. He looked at the bartender apologetically. It hadn’t been his intention to embroil him in all this, but this was the first place that came to mind when she mentioned ale. How was he supposed to know she would ask him all those strange questions?!
  408.  
  409. Zuhlo used the momentary distraction to cinch the dress down a bit around her cleavage. Just because she couldn’t take him outright didn’t mean she had to be completely passive either.
  410.  
  411. “So what do you have today?” asked Bazz.
  412.  
  413. “W-we did get some lovely cuts of m-mutton in, your grace.” said the bartender.
  414.  
  415. “That sounds delightful. We’ll take two plates.” Said Zuhlo. “And two mugs of ale.”
  416.  
  417. The man dashed back into the kitchen. His wife, who had been quietly watching from the door hurried in with him to prepare the meal. A small panicked argument erupted as they debated whether or not to run or make the meal. Zuhlo ignored them and focused her attention on Bazz.
  418.  
  419. “So Bazz, have you lived here your whole life?” asked Zuhlo.
  420.  
  421. “Yes.”
  422.  
  423. “Ever thought of leaving?”
  424.  
  425. Bazz frowned. “Leaving?”
  426.  
  427. “You know, seeing more of the world.” Said Zuhlo. She leaned over the table to expose more of her cleavage.
  428.  
  429. “Uhh… No, I figured that I would live and die here. Everyone I’ve ever known is here after all.”
  430.  
  431. Time to put the moves on this cutie.
  432.  
  433. “You know me now, and I’m not from here.” Said Zuhlo.
  434.  
  435. “What are you saying?” said Bazz.
  436.  
  437. “Well, I can get a bit lonely traveling the world alone. All the riches in the world can’t compare to good company.” Said Zuhlo. Aww yeah. Madam Melty eat your heart out.
  438.  
  439. “Are…are you asking me to come with you?” asked Bazz.
  440.  
  441. Zuhlo smiled.
  442.  
  443. “Your drinks.” The bartender announced hoarsely.
  444.  
  445. With shivering hands he placed two mugs of ale in front of them.
  446.  
  447. “Thank you, I think we’re fine for now.” Said Zuhlo, waving him away. The man nodded and shuffled back into the kitchen in a fearful daze.
  448.  
  449. Zuhlo sniffed the mug. It was a foul, bitter stench. Nothing like the smooth, dry wines crafted by the finest satyros vintners she was used to. Holding her breath she took a small sip.
  450.  
  451. Awful.
  452.  
  453. Her eyes watered as she almost spat the swill back into the mug. Keeping it in her mouth, she managed to contain her disgust as a wet, choking cough.
  454.  
  455. “Mmm… That’s good.” She wheezed.
  456.  
  457. Bazz watched her. She took another sip and shuddered.
  458.  
  459. “You want me to go with you?” asked Bazz again.
  460.  
  461. “I wouldn’t mind. You seem like a charming, intelligent young man.” Said Zuhlo batting her eyelashes at him. Her charm was diminished by the traces of tears at the corners of her eyes.
  462.  
  463. “Go where?” he asked softly.
  464.  
  465. “Anywhere you want! We could go see the highest mountains, or the farthest shores. Have you ever been to Zipangu?” asked Zuhlo.
  466.  
  467. “What’s Zipangu?” asked Bazz.
  468.  
  469. “Oh it’s a lovely little island. Just wonderful. The nicest locals you’ll ever meet, and gorgeous mountain landscapes too. A bit rustic, but I think that just adds to the charm.” Said Zuhlo. Good, good. From the sound of it, Bazz hadn’t traveled very far from this village. Making herself seem interesting would be a piece of cake.
  470.  
  471. “Do I have to go?” asked Bazz.
  472.  
  473. “Huh?”
  474.  
  475. “I don’t want to go too far…” choked Bazz. His face was distorted with anxiety. He looked like he was on the verge of a panic attack.
  476.  
  477. “No! No no no! Of course not! We can stay here, close by!” said Zuhlo. Her claws gouged the table as she pressed too hard into the soft wood. Curls of shavings peeled out of the grooves. Bazz looked at the freshly carved divots and let out a small whimper.
  478.  
  479. “Shh! Shh. It’s okay, I’m your friend!” pleaded Zuhlo.
  480.  
  481. The door to the kitchen swung open and the bartender reappeared with two plates of mutton. He stopped to take stock of the situation. The dragon was now desperately trying to console a distraught Bazz, who was clearly not receptive to her consolation.
  482.  
  483. “Listen, you’re fine. I’m here. There’s no need to cry, so just settle down.” Said Zuhlo.
  484.  
  485. Bazz gripped his mug of ale with white knuckles.
  486.  
  487. Zuhlo grit her teeth and tried to think. What was going wrong? The date had started out so well, but now all of a sudden Bazz seemed inconsolable. Was it something she had said? Clearly he didn’t want to leave this back-water hamlet; that was going to have to change fast. Why won’t he stop crying? This was so frustrating!
  488.  
  489. Zuhlo noticed the bartender standing next to them, holding two steaming plates of mutton.
  490.  
  491. “Well?” growled Zuhlo.
  492.  
  493. The bartender tossed the plates down onto the table and scampered back into the kitchen. His wife began to beg him to just leave and take his chances on the run.
  494.  
  495. Maybe Bazz was just hungry. Zuhlo knew that she tended to get a bit ornery when she skipped a meal. Maybe humans just got weepy instead?
  496.  
  497. “Here, just eat and relax. You like this, right?” said Zuhlo. She cut off a piece of her mutton and offered it to Bazz on a fork. “Here, take a bite.”
  498.  
  499. This ought to help him relax. Surely the loving act of sharing food would be enough to placate him.
  500.  
  501. Bazz opened his mouth and allowed Zuhlo to feed him the morsel of meat. He never looked away from her, even as he chewed.
  502.  
  503. “It’s good, right?”
  504.  
  505. Bazz nodded weakly.
  506.  
  507. “Is something wrong? Is it not cooked to your liking?” asked Zuhlo.
  508.  
  509. The bartender’s wife began to cry in the kitchen. “I told you it wasn’t in the oven long enough!” she wailed.
  510.  
  511. Not cooked enough, eh? Zuhlo grinned. Perfect. Time to demonstrate that she could cook just as well as this simpleton.
  512.  
  513. “Is it too rare? I can fix that.” Said Zuhlo. With a small inhale, she puffed out her cheeks and spewed a small jet of fire at Bazz’s plate. He screamed and scrambled out of the booth.
  514.  
  515. “Ah! It’s okay! I just cooked it a bit more!” said Zuhlo.
  516.  
  517. Bazz didn’t bother listening to her explanation. Knocking over a chair, he dashed out the front door of the tavern.
  518.  
  519. “Hey!” shouted Zuhlo. She chased after him, knocking the door off its hinges. “Come back!”
  520.  
  521. Taking flight, she quickly reached an altitude above the buildings in town. Bazz looked behind him, and seemed relived to see that Zuhlo wasn’t chasing him. Until he saw her swooping down at him out of the sky. Too startled to scream, he ducked into an alley in a futile attempt to lose his pursuer.
  522.  
  523. “Stop!” shouted Zuhlo.
  524.  
  525. Bazz didn’t stop. As he exited the alley way, Zuhlo dived abruptly and slammed into the road. Bazz staggered once and Zuhlo was upon him. Grabbing him by the shoulders she dusted him off.
  526.  
  527. “Why are you running?” asked Zuhlo.
  528.  
  529. “Please! If you’re going to kill me then just do it already! Don’t torture me like this!” shouted Bazz.
  530.  
  531. “Kill you?! Wha- I- No!” said Zuhlo.
  532.  
  533. “You’re mocking me!”
  534.  
  535. “I’m not! I just wanted to spend some time with you!”
  536.  
  537. Damn. Damn it all! Now that the adrenaline was wearing off, Zuhlo realized that this was indeed probably a traumatic experience for poor Bazz. Madam Melty had explicitly said that chasing humans like that would frighten them. Why couldn’t they just understand that monsters didn’t eat them anymore?
  538.  
  539. Zuhlo took a deep breath. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have chased you like that. I know that it’s hard for you to imagine that I’m not here to hurt you or burn this village to a crisp, but I’m not. I’ll let you go, but I really do enjoy your company, and I hope that you’ll give me a chance and not run away.”
  540.  
  541. Bazz gulped and stared back at her. He didn’t trust her, but her sincerity was genuine.
  542.  
  543. “Why me?” asked Bazz.
  544.  
  545. “I think you’re special. You know what they say, when you love someone, you just know it.” Said Zuhlo.
  546.  
  547. “Love?”
  548.  
  549. Zuhlo’s eyes shot open.
  550.  
  551. “Ha ha, well maybe not LOVE you know. It’s such a funny thing, I just meant someone whose company you enjoy and uhh…” She offered a shrug and an uneasy grin.
  552.  
  553. “You enjoy spending time with me?” asked Bazz.
  554.  
  555. Zuhlo nodded. The amount of spectators drawn to this spectacle was becoming uncomfortable. She glared at an elderly couple watching them from a window.
  556.  
  557. “But you only just met me. An hour ago, you didn’t even know my name.” said Bazz.
  558.  
  559. “We can talk about it somewhere else.” Said Zuhlo. “Do you want to finish your meal?”
  560.  
  561. “I’m not hungry.” Said Bazz. “I only took you there because I thought you were hungry.”
  562.  
  563. What a cutie! Already doing his best to make sure his wife was happy.
  564.  
  565. “Don’t worry about me. I’m alright. Can we go somewhere else?” said Zuhlo.
  566.  
  567. Bazz was perplexed by the question. Why a dragon would ever bother to ask his approval in such a matter was beyond him. Best to agree anyways. She had already demonstrated that she was willing to chase him if he ran.
  568.  
  569. “Yes.” Said Bazz. “But, can I say goodbye to my family first?”
  570.  
  571. “Huh? I suppose.” Said Zuhlo. She paused. “You know you’re going to see them again, right? I can take you back here whenever you want.”
  572.  
  573. “Take me back from where?”
  574.  
  575. Zuhlo tapped her claws together. “That’s… what I wanted to talk to you about…”
  576.  
  577. Bazz looked around. His friends and neighbors looked on from the windows of their homes or the corners of buildings. Was he really about to trust a half-ton fire-breathing lizard? She hadn’t lied to him yet; not that he was aware of anyways. If she said that he would be free to return, perhaps he should trust her. She was different from other monsters. No other beast had ever asked a man for his consent in such matters. And she had even done her best to buy him a meal. Clearly she was doing her best to emulate human formalities, even if Bazz didn’t understand why.
  578.  
  579. “Where would we go?” asked Bazz.
  580.  
  581. “There’s a wonderful meadow in the mountains to the south of here.” Said Zuhlo.
  582.  
  583. “South? It would take an entire day to reach them.” Said Bazz.
  584.  
  585. Zuhlo did her best to contain her smug grin. “For a human. I can get there in fifteen minutes.”
  586.  
  587. “And if I wanted to come back?” probed Bazz.
  588.  
  589. Zuhlo deflated a little. “Then I would return you here. I promise that if you want come home, I’ll fly you back.”
  590.  
  591. Bazz mulled it over. This might be the stupidest thing he had ever done. Or the stupidest thing ANYONE had ever done.
  592.  
  593. “Alright.” Sighed Bazz.
  594.  
  595. “Really?!” squealed Zuhlo. Her eyes sparkled with anticipation.
  596.  
  597. “Yes. But I’m coming home a-“
  598.  
  599. Before Bazz could finish his caveat, Zuhlo had already maneuvered behind him and embraced him from behind.
  600.  
  601. “Hold on!” she said.
  602.  
  603. Bazz screamed as her powerful wings hoisted them into the air. Blood drained out of his head as she rapidly gained altitude.
  604.  
  605. “Ah!”
  606.  
  607. Zuhlo leveled herself and Bazz groaned as nausea wracked his body.
  608.  
  609. “Sorry! I’ve never done this before.” Said Zuhlo. She gave him a little squeeze and savored the warmth he provided. His hands rested on her claws, clutching them in fear. Cute! Turning gently to the south, Zuhlo carried her prize to the meadow she had scoped out a few months ago.
  610.  
  611. ~~~~~~
  612.  
  613. “There it is!” said Zuhlo. Bazz could barely hear her over the roar of the wind in his ears. His stomach lurched as Zuhlo took a sharp dive towards the meadow below.
  614.  
  615. The grass flattened as Zuhlo’s wings beat furiously to slow her decent. Gently touching down, she released Bazz onto the ground. He used her shoulder to steady himself as his quaking legs readjusted to solid ground.
  616.  
  617. Zuhlo giggled. “Did you enjoy your first time flying?”
  618.  
  619. “It was something alright…” said Bazz. He would have appreciated some sort of harness. The way his legs dangled beneath him made it feel like he was constantly falling.
  620.  
  621. Zuhlo swept her arms out and turned around to inspect the meadow. “Beautiful, isn’t it?”
  622.  
  623. No doubt about that. Wildflowers grew amidst the tall grass of the meadow, filling the hills with a sweet scent. Birds called to each other amidst the underbrush as they fed on seeds and insects. A small stream trickled its way through the meadow, meandering from one side to the other.
  624.  
  625. “Wait right here, I’ll be back in a moment.” Said Zuhlo.
  626.  
  627. She took to the air again and flew away before Bazz could inquire about her motives. A few seconds later she returned with a blanket and picnic basket. Where did she get those?
  628.  
  629. “I thought we could have a picnic here, since it’s such a nice day.” Said Zuhlo.
  630.  
  631. “Did you stash that here?” asked Bazz.
  632.  
  633. Zuhlo looked away. “I thought it might be nice to have options for our date, you know? Since the tavern didn’t really work out, I thought you might be hungry.”
  634.  
  635. She was right. His body had forgotten its needs in the initial throes of an adrenaline high, but now that he had calmed down Bazz realized that he hadn’t eaten anything in a long time. He held a hand over his stomach absentmindedly and Zuhlo smiled.
  636.  
  637. “Let’s go over there, by the stream.”
  638.  
  639. She led him through the meadow, her tail knocking aside grass as it swished behind her. The crimson dress she wore shone brilliantly against the muted yellows, purples and whites of the mountain flowers around her. Settling on a flat spot near the stream, Zuhlo shook the blanket out and patted the ground next to her.
  640.  
  641. “Come on, don’t be shy.” She said.
  642.  
  643. Bazz sat next to her. Zuhlo opened the picnic basket and began to remove its contents. A bottle of wine, some meat, a few strange looking loaves of bread that Bazz had never seen before, some cheese, and a few vegetables.
  644.  
  645. “Is something wrong?” asked Zuhlo.
  646.  
  647. “I’ve just never seen some of this food before.” Said Bazz. Seeing this alien cuisine reminded him just how far apart he was from this creature.
  648.  
  649. “Don’t worry, it’s all delicious.” Said Zuhlo. She put a claw on his leg to reassure him. Bazz flinched but allowed her hand to linger.
  650. Zuhlo carved off a thin slice of meat and a small slice of bread.
  651.  
  652. “Here, try some.” She said offering it to him.
  653.  
  654. Bazz accepted the food and did his best to look enthused. He took a bite while watching her, gauging her reaction. The dragon’s tail flicked back and forth as he chewed.
  655.  
  656. “Wow…” grunted Bazz through the mouthful of food. The meat was cooked to perfection. Smokey and sweet, with a hint of spice. He had never tasted anything like it, even at the festivals. “It’s really good. What kind of meat is this?”
  657.  
  658. “Beef.” Declared Zuhlo proudly. “It’s all in the way you prepare it.”
  659.  
  660. “Did you slow cook it?” asked Bazz.
  661.  
  662. “I cured it with my breath.” Said Zuhlo. She leaned back and spat a small fireball into the sky. Bazz instinctively leaned away from it. “I’m glad you like it.” She said with a smile.
  663.  
  664. “Do you cook often?” asked Bazz. Cooking seemed like too menial of a task for a dragon. Didn’t they just eat raw meat?
  665.  
  666. “It’s something I’ve taken up in recent years. But it’s so hard cooking for yourself! It would be so much easier if I had someone to cook for…” said Zuhlo, batting her eyelashes at Bazz.
  667.  
  668. Bazz coughed as he almost choked on some of his food. Zuhlo poured him a glass of wine and offered it to him while rubbing his back. He thanked her and leaned away from her hand as it got a little to close to his waistline. She looked frustrated as he shifted away.
  669. Both of them sat in silence for a few seconds listening to the sounds of nature around them.
  670.  
  671. “Excuse me…” muttered Zuhlo. She stood up and walked away from the blanket. Bazz gulped. Had he made her angry? What did she want from him?
  672.  
  673. Zuhlo turned her back to him and wrapped herself in one of her wings again. Was this some sort of dragon preening thing? Bazz got the impression that whatever it was Zuhlo was doing, it was a private matter. Turning his attention back to the food, he sampled a strange looking vegetable.
  674.  
  675. Zuhlo nodded to herself, and then returned to the blanket.
  676.  
  677. “Tell me Bazz, have you ever had a girlfriend?” asked Zuhlo. She avoided looking at him as she asked.
  678.  
  679. “Huh?”
  680.  
  681. “Do you have someone you ever considered marrying? Someone you already love?”
  682.  
  683. Bazz sighed. “What a strange question to ask.” He laid back on the blanket and looked up at the clouds. “No, I’ve never had anyone like that. There were a few girls who I’d considered asking out, but I never did. It just never seemed like the right time, if that makes any sense.”
  684.  
  685. Zuhlo stretched out next to him, propping her head up with one arm. “I understand. Love seems like something that will happen later. But when later comes, you realize how much time has passed and wonder if it’s too late.”
  686.  
  687. “Yeah. I figured once I finish my training and become an actual smith I would have found someone, but here I am at the end of my apprenticeship without even a potential suitor.” Said Bazz.
  688.  
  689. Zuhlo’s tail thumped as it thrashed behind her. “I think you’ll find someone to love. In fact, they’re probably closer than you think~”
  690. Bazz glanced at Zuhlo. She was giving him a full smile, showing her fangs and pointed teeth.
  691.  
  692. “Lady Zuhlo… Is this a date?” asked Bazz. He instantly regretted the question. Of course it wasn’t, she was a dragon. Why would dragons ever stoop so low as to court a human? The flavor of the meat she had cooked with her breath ran across his tongue. Would he taste that good after she burnt him?
  693.  
  694. Zuhlo blushed. “Ah, well, I umm… I think of it as a date. But it doesn’t have to be if you don’t want it to be! If you want to get to know each other better, I can wait!”
  695.  
  696. “You’re… attracted to me?” said Bazz.
  697.  
  698. Zuhlo pouted. “Hasn’t that been obvious?”
  699.  
  700. The day’s events certainly did make more sense when Bazz thought about them in that context. Not that this was anywhere near sensical.
  701.  
  702. “You are toying me!” said Bazz.
  703.  
  704. “What? No!” said Zuhlo.
  705.  
  706. “Why would a dragon be attracted to a blacksmith’s apprentice? My family’s house only has three rooms!” said Bazz.
  707.  
  708. “I can’t explain it! You just feel like the right person!”
  709.  
  710. “What does that mean? Are you saying that this is love at first sight?”
  711.  
  712. “Maybe? I don’t know! I’ve never been in love before. Just… sit there for a minute!” said Zuhlo. She stormed off and tucked herself under her wing again. Why did she keep doing that?
  713.  
  714. Bazz sat and waited for her to finish her bizarre ritual. Strange how he could be in such a beautiful location with such wonderful food and still feel so uneasy. A hawk lazily circled the meadow, looking for mice to catch.
  715.  
  716. Zuhlo sat down and adjusted her dress. Taking a deep breath, she looked at Bazz. The sun shone brightly in her amethyst eyes.
  717.  
  718. “Bazz, I know that it may seem strange, that a monster like me would be interested in a human like you, much less interested in love, but I enjoy your company and hope that you can find it in your heart to look past my body and give me a chance as a partner, not just a beast.”
  719.  
  720. She pursed her lips and looked at Bazz eagerly. The meadow’s noises were drowned out by the hammering in Bazz’s chest. Was this a proposal? From a dragon? How would that even work?
  721.  
  722. “Partner? You mean, husband and wife?” asked Bazz.
  723.  
  724. Zuhlo blushed and nodded quickly.
  725.  
  726. “Forever?”
  727.  
  728. Zuhlo giggled. “Maybe not forever, but for the rest of our lives yes.”
  729.  
  730. “You don’t want to be with one of your own species? We wouldn’t be able to have children you know.” Said Bazz. The idea of never being able to have a proper family stung Bazz more than he expected.
  731.  
  732. “We can!” beamed Zuhlo. “Contrary to what your Order teaches you, monsters can have children with humans without any complications. In fact, we need to. Since the current demon lord cast a spell that changed all the monsters into succubus hybrids, all monsters are solely female now.”
  733.  
  734. Bazz cocked his head.
  735.  
  736. “I suppose we can talk about that some other time. It’s a bit of an explanation.” Said Zuhlo with a shrug.
  737.  
  738. Bazz stood up and looked across the meadow. “Where would we live? Surely you wouldn’t live in the village.”
  739.  
  740. “You would live in my cave, with me.”
  741.  
  742. Bazz smirked. “You live in a cave?”
  743.  
  744. “It’s a big cave!” pouted Zuhlo. “And it’s full of treasure too. I could buy a castle if I wanted to.”
  745.  
  746. “I don’t doubt it.” Said Bazz. “I suppose that means that I’m not going to be the bread winner of the house.”
  747.  
  748. “I’m sure you can find work.” Said Zuhlo. Madam Melty had mentioned that some human men felt emasculated if they weren’t contributing anything to the family. And Zuhlo had also heard that smiths tended to develop a good body while working metal. She imagined a muscular Bazz, glistening with sweat as he pounded out a new sword.
  749.  
  750. “Zuhlo?”
  751.  
  752. “Mhuh?” Zuhlo grunted and wiped away a bit of drool before it could leave her mouth. “Rest assured, you will have a hand in raising and providing for out progeny. We’d be a normal family.”
  753.  
  754. “I don’t know if a man and a dragon could be considered a normal family.” Said Bazz.
  755.  
  756. Zuhlo smiled. “Would you care if people said it wasn’t normal?”
  757.  
  758. Bazz took a sip of wine. “No, I suppose not. As long as people are happy together it doesn’t really matter what others think.”
  759.  
  760. Zuhlo tapped her claws together. “So, now that you know how I feel about you, do you feel the same way?”
  761.  
  762. “I don’t know much about you honestly.” Said Bazz.
  763.  
  764. Zuhlo drooped. “I understand. Monster courtships tend to happen much faster than humans.”
  765.  
  766. “I’d like to learn though!” blurted Bazz. “About you, I mean.”
  767.  
  768. Zuhlo gasped. “Really?!”
  769.  
  770. Bazz nodded.
  771.  
  772. “You aren’t afraid of me?” asked Zuhlo.
  773.  
  774. “I am a LITTLE bit scared, but I know that you wouldn’t have done all this if you weren’t serious about a relationship.” Said Bazz.
  775. “And you want to start a family?” asked Zuhlo sternly.
  776.  
  777. “If you think you’re ready to raise children, then I’d be willing to do my part.”
  778.  
  779. Zuhlo was breathing heavily. Standing up, she stood over Bazz with a crazed look in her eyes.
  780.  
  781. “Zuhlo?” squeaked Bazz.
  782.  
  783. “Let’s go to my cave now.” Panted Zuhlo.
  784.  
  785. “Now?”
  786.  
  787. “NOW!”
  788.  
  789. Without waiting for consent, Zuhlo grabbed Bazz and lifted off into the air. She was flying much faster than she had when they had left town. All Bazz could do was bury his head in her chest to avoid the howling wind in his face as she rocketed through the sky.
  790.  
  791. “There it is!” said Zuhlo.
  792.  
  793. Bazz held on tight as she made a stomach-wrenching dive towards whatever their destination was. Zuhlo released him as she landed and he fell onto his back.
  794.  
  795. “Are you okay?” she asked offering a claw.
  796.  
  797. “Fine.” Said Bazz. She effortlessly lifted him to his feet and dusted him off with her tail. “Wow…”
  798.  
  799. Zuhlo hurried off towards a mountain face, behind a massive statue of a dragon. Carved out of the same rock it stood on, the entire shelf they stood on was an unnaturally sculpted feature. Did Zuhlo take out a chunk of a mountain just to giver herself a porch?
  800. Zuhlo pressed her claw against the bare mountain rock and a magic circle appeared. It glowed for a moment and disappeared as the wall began to sink into the ground.
  801.  
  802. “Come on!” said Zuhlo. She took his hand and quickly dragged him inside.
  803.  
  804. The cave looked just as luxurious as Bazz had imagined it. Marble floors, ornate decorations everywhere, fine art, and many things he had never seen before in his life. Zuhlo ignored all of it as she fought to keep herself from flying through her own home.
  805.  
  806. “We’re almost there!” said Zuhlo.
  807.  
  808. “Where are we going?” panted Bazz.
  809.  
  810. Zuhlo led him up a flight of stairs and practically kicked open a door at the end of a hall. Inside, a spacious bed rested under a massive window encompassing the whole wall. The sunset streamed in providing natural light. It must have been hidden with magic from the outside.
  811.  
  812. “Why are we here?” asked Bazz.
  813.  
  814. Zuhlo heaved him onto the bed and pounced on him. She grabbed his face and tried to press her serpentine tongue into his mouth.
  815. “What are you doing?!” grunted Bazz as she licked his lips.
  816.  
  817. “You said you wanted to start a family.” Said Zuhlo. A strand of hair fell down in front of her face.
  818.  
  819. “You meant NOW? As in, tonight?” said Bazz.
  820.  
  821. “Of course!”
  822.  
  823. Bazz pushed her back so that she was straddling him and sat up. “I-I don’t think we should. We haven’t even known each other for a day! Why don’t we just take things slow for a while and-“
  824.  
  825. “No!” said Zuhlo, pinning him back down. “I’ve waited too long for this! I’ve been lonely for five hundred years! I’m not spending another night in an empty bed.”
  826.  
  827. Her eyes were full of fire but her lip quivered.
  828.  
  829. “Are you not attracted to me?” she asked.
  830.  
  831. Of course he was. Anyone would be; she was more beautiful than any human Bazz had ever seen.
  832.  
  833. “I am! Believe me, I am. I’ve just never done anything like this before.”
  834.  
  835. “Me either! It’s fine, we’ll learn together!” said Zuhlo excitedly.
  836.  
  837. Bazz felt her hands knead his chest as she sat on top of him. Her claws started to pick at the buttons of his shirt, and he didn’t stop her.
  838.  
  839. “Alright. We ca-“
  840.  
  841. Consent was all Zuhlo needed to hear. Everything else was extraneous. Bazz screamed as Zuhlo eviscerated his clothes in a flurry of claws. Throwing away the scraps of cloth, she carefully slipped out of her dress and tossed it aside.
  842.  
  843. “What the hell was that?!” shouted Bazz.
  844.  
  845. “You know you don’t keep your clothes on when you do this.” Giggled Zuhlo.
  846.  
  847. “But those were my only clothes!”
  848.  
  849. “I can get you more. Now come here!”
  850.  
  851. Zuhlo jumped on him again. The shock of almost being peeled wore off and Bazz realized that her body looked just as good as she did. A perfect lithe shape befitting an apex predator. Strength beguiled by a slender form. Her stomach sandwiched his shaft between their stomachs as she tried to kiss him again. This time, Bazz relented and accepted her into his mouth.
  852.  
  853. Zuhlo moaned appreciably and slipped more of her tongue inside his mouth. Bazz tried to concentrate on reciprocating the affection but his attention was more focused on the sensation of her smooth skin and plush breasts pressed against his torso. Zuhlo pulled away abruptly, looking down at her stomach.
  854.  
  855. “Ah! Are you ready already?” she asked. Bazz groaned as she gently grinded her hips against his hardening prick.
  856.  
  857. “I’ll take that as a yes~”
  858.  
  859. Rolling onto her back, Zuhlo stretched her arms out to Bazz and spread her legs. “Come on then, take me~”
  860.  
  861. Bazz crawled over her in a stupor. Zuhlo wrapped her wings up around him as he hovered over her.
  862.  
  863. “Huh? What’s this?” said Bazz.
  864.  
  865. He looked up at Zuhlo’s wing. In the crook of the wing, where the patagium connected to the boney limb, a series of notes were scrawled out in tiny letters.
  866.  
  867. “Talk to him about his interests? Take him out to eat?” said Bazz.
  868.  
  869. “NOOOOO!” screamed Zuhlo. Her leg launched Bazz backwards as she tore the wing out of his hands.
  870.  
  871. Bazz flopped back onto the bed. “What was that for?!”
  872.  
  873. Zuhlo was desperately trying to use her spit to wipe away the ink. “Shut up! Just forget you saw anything!”
  874.  
  875. “Are those notes for how to date someone?” asked Bazz incredulously.
  876.  
  877. Zuhlo clenched her wing and began to cry.
  878.  
  879. “YEEEEESSS! Alright! They are! I had to write down what I was supposed to do because I kept getting nervous and forgetting! It’s all your fault! The books said courting humans was hard but they never made it sound like it would be THIS bad!” wailed Zuhlo.
  880.  
  881. Bazz watched as she thrashed about in the silken sheets. Was a dragon really throwing a tantrum over him? Did she say that she was NERVOUS?
  882.  
  883. “Why were you nervous?” asked Bazz.
  884.  
  885. “Because it’s so hard to talk to you! This is a serious matter, you know. I can’t take it lightly; you and I are going to be together for the rest of our lives. A bad first impression would ruin our relationship before it began.” whined Zuhlo.
  886.  
  887. “Being nervous around someone you’re attracted to is natural.” Said Bazz, trying to salvage the situation.
  888.  
  889. “I know but…” Zuhlo folded her tail up between her legs and held the tip in her claws. “It’s different when you’re a dragon. Human’s don’t have any pride, so it’s no big deal when they get humiliated. People would think less of me if they saw me behave in an undignified manner.”
  890.  
  891. This lizard really didn’t pull punches when it came to disrespecting humans…
  892.  
  893. “Do you care about the opinions of humans?” asked Bazz.
  894.  
  895. Zuhlo perked up. “No. Except yours of course!” she quickly added.
  896.  
  897. “Then you shouldn’t worry. All the humans in the town wouldn’t dare make fun of you. And I don’t think that any other monsters were around to witness all your antics.”
  898.  
  899. Zuhlo jabbed him with her tail. “What do you mean antics?! I was the picture of elegance!” she huffed.
  900.  
  901. Bazz bit back a smile and squeezed her tail. “Of course you were! That was a hypothetical.”
  902.  
  903. Zuhlo snorted and pulled her tail away. She looked out the window at the sunset as the clouds began to ignite with the setting sun.
  904. “I really did have a good day today. Even if people did mock me, I don’t think I would mind.” Said Zuhlo.
  905.  
  906. Bazz shifted uncomfortably. Even though the mood was jovial, Zuhlo’s nude form on display had made it impossible for his erection to recede.
  907.  
  908. Zuhlo looked at him and then down to his crotch. “Oh!” She smiled. “How cruel of me to forget about my dear husband already~”
  909. She used her tail to playfully stroke the underside of his chin. Bazz allowed himself to be dragged forwards as she coaxed him closer.
  910. “Come here!” said Zuhlo, wrapping her wings around him. She clasped his cheeks as she pulled him in for a kiss.
  911.  
  912. Bazz reached down to cup one of her breasts. Zuhlo purred as he ran one of his fingers over her stiff nipple. She pushed him back.
  913. “Just take me already.”
  914.  
  915. Bazz needed no further encouragement. Lining himself up with her, he gently began to press into her. Zuhlo gasped as he penetrated her and wrapped her arms around him. Bazz worried that her claws might rend his back in two as she nearly crushed his ribs.
  916.  
  917. “Are you okay?” he gasped.
  918.  
  919. “I’m fine! Keep going!” panted Zuhlo.
  920.  
  921. Bazz tried to press himself deeper into her. Zuhlo clamped down on his member as he forced himself farther in. The heat was almost unbearable. Bazz wasn’t sure if he was just losing blood in his dick because of the pressure or if dragons had an abnormally high body temperature, but it felt like his penis was about to snap off inside her.
  922.  
  923. “Don’t you dare stop!” ordered Zuhlo.
  924.  
  925. She assisted him with a thrust of her hips as he bottomed out inside her.
  926.  
  927. “Ahh… I did it.” Sighed Zuhlo. Her chest heaved as she caught her breath. “I finally did it.”
  928.  
  929. “Are you sure it doesn’t hurt? Some of the women in the village always said the first time was painful…” said Bazz.
  930.  
  931. “Hah! A human could never harm me.” Said Zuhlo.
  932.  
  933. Bazz grinded his hips against her and her smug face contorted with pleasure as she moaned. He snickered as she pouted.
  934.  
  935. “Jerk.” She said, swatting his butt with her tail. “Now keep going.”
  936.  
  937. Bazz pulled out and thrust back in. Zuhlo moved her hips erratically, eventually matching his tempo. Holding him close, she kissed him again. Her forked tongue ensnared his own to ensure that he couldn’t get away.
  938.  
  939. The sensation of touch was slowly returning to Bazz’s dick as Zuhlo’s vagina loosened its grip. Pleasure flooded through him and he relied more and more on Zuhlo to support him as he continued to pound away. Zuhlo had no trouble holding him in place.
  940.  
  941. “Come on! Finish it! We can’t start a family without your contribution~” panted Zuhlo.
  942.  
  943. She snaked her legs around Bazz and locked him inside her as she mashed her hips against his. Her scaly feet scraped against his knees but he was too lost in the throes of ecstasy to care. Zuhlo clamped down around Bazz as he released inside her. Her walls undulated around his prick, working to milk every last drop of semen into her neglected womb.
  944.  
  945. “Ahh! Good boy~” moaned Zuhlo. She let Bazz go and he collapsed onto her chest. Zuhlo shifted his head a bit so that he could relax on one of her ample breasts.
  946.  
  947. “How was that? Better than any human girl, I promise you.” Said Zuhlo proudly.
  948.  
  949. “I don’t doubt it.” Said Bazz. He listened to the frantic beat of Zuhlo’s heart in her chest. She really was warm…
  950.  
  951. “You can rest for now, but we’ll be doing this again soon.” Said Zuhlo, running a claw through his hair.
  952.  
  953. “What?”
  954.  
  955. “You didn’t think we were finished, did you? I’m a dragon after all; and I’ve got an appetite to match~”
  956.  
  957. Bazz gulped. Zuhlo chuckled and pulled her wings tighter around him.
  958.  
  959. “We can go at your pace. I know humans are fragile.” Said Zuhlo. “That being said, you’ll need to get a lot stronger if you’re going to be a father! Dragons are strong, and my daughters will be EXTRA strong. So do your best to build your stamina, okay?”
  960.  
  961. “I don’t think I have much of a choice…” said Bazz.
  962.  
  963. Zuhlo kissed the top of his head. “You don’t.”
  964.  
  965. Bazz hugged her torso. “I think I’m okay with that.”
  966.  
  967. The sun sunk below the last mountain, and the last warming rays disappeared with it. Bazz embraced his new wife as the first chills of night nipped at his bare skin.
  968.  
  969. “Are you cold?” she asked.
  970.  
  971. “A little.” Admitted Bazz.
  972.  
  973. Zuhlo got out of bed and tossed some logs into the grand fireplace. The timber erupted into a blaze as she used her breath to ignite the wood.
  974.  
  975. “There. I thought a human might get a little cold, so I installed that before I went to get you.” Said Zuhlo. She returned to the bed and flopped down beside him. Bazz lay beside her, and tucked her head underneath his chin. Zuhlo sighed and pulled his waist closer to her as she listened to his heartbeat. Her scaled ears tickled his chest.
  976.  
  977. “Hey Zuhlo?”
  978.  
  979. “Mmm?”
  980.  
  981. “If we have kids, we’re going to have to think of names, right?”
  982.  
  983. “Mmm…”
  984.  
  985. “…We’ll think of that later I suppose.”
  986.  
  987. Bazz looked outside at the stars as the fire crackled. The cosmos seemed so much more brilliant out here, away from all the lights and noise of the village. He ran his hand gently across Zuhlo’s body, weaving his way across the portions with scales. No, starting a family didn’t sound too bad at all.
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