Loot Studios – Chronicles of Savros - Part One

Chronicles of Savros – Part One

A Legendarium of Dragons Story

Chapter 1

The skulking rogue ran her fingers through the tavern wall. That is if this place could still be called a tavern.

The place had all but perished after her business partners, the Greyguards, either absconded or were dealt with by the quick hands of bribeless law. The building was on its last breaths before falling into ruin, although the tavern hadn’t even completed its second decade. This place seemed to crumble over the weight of its own mysteries and secrets.

The rogue hadn’t been a part of the group for too long before it fell apart, but she had been told enough that she could piece together most of the Greyguard’s history. Years before, the group roamed the realms as mercenaries – or adventurers if you squint hard enough – under the rule of Debra the Cruel. After following a lucky trail of information the Greyguards were the first to find the ruins of a dungeon. This used to be the vault of a powerful magician, told to have wealth to rival that of a dragon. Unfortunately, such wealth didn’t come unprotected and there, their luck turned sour when they entered it, underprepared to face the dangerous drake within. This drake tended to “go for the eyes” as they all told her. 

Now, the group was too wounded to continue their adventuring career, but they weren’t quite ready to let go of their promised treasure. They decided to unite their funds and build a tavern on top of the dungeon’s entrance as a front to their increasingly illegal forms of profit. 

That’s when she’d come in, a new addition to the group. The rogue had impressed them when she successfully pinched and bootlegged their hooch without noticing they were dealing in illegal liquors themselves. They found it funny and, after scaring her senseless, thought her abilities would be better harnessed as a part of their enterprise. Additionally, Debra took a liking to her. Unlike the rest of the bandits, the girl had foresight and ambition.

However, Debra had distanced herself from the group in the past months, becoming more reclusive and, although her interest in the drake had never died out, now she seemed to only speak of the damn beast. This is what led them to their final bit of trouble.

Debra got greedy – the thieves’ illness – and after she started meeting with a mysterious man her mentor wanted to expedite the process of getting the dungeon’s gold. The weirdest thing is, she now wanted to capture the drake alive. Thus the story of the Greyguards ended.

Smiling Debra fell victim to the curse of the dungeon’s treasure. A curse known now only by the adventurers and by the stealthy rogue they failed to notice in the room with them. She keeps this secret well-guarded and, for a rainy day.

Eye-gouger, Guardian Drake.


The young rogue had finally managed to make the tavern hers, a proper hideout after everything went down. She had stayed in Debra’s room for a while, but she felt the thief’s leader still haunted that spot even if just in memory, so she moved to one of the more isolated guest rooms. Otherwise, not many changes were made to the Two-Faced Coin Tavern. 

She left the valuables of the tavern to the men of the town watch, who used to be on the Greyguard’s payroll and wanted all they could get now that the bandits were gone. After the guards had the first pickings, the rest of the valuables were taken by looters and scavengers who robbed the place with relative impunity.

After a month, any interest in the tavern – other than the morbid kind – had died down and the rogue felt herself in control of her domain. But she never got too comfortable and  never let her guard down, one of the lessons Debra had passed on. So she was already keeping a lookout when she heard the knocking at the door.


She noticed three things about the visitor in the night, but only one that she considered truly surprising. The first thing, she nearly instantly noticed, was the draconic ancestry of the man knocking, poorly hidden under a light gray cloak. The second thing was the symbol of glowing repute on the man, the holy symbol of the Sun God, Meri, strapped to his belt.

Not many people fit that description nearby, those of draconic descent were rare in the region, and those known to worship Meri were fewer still after the debacle with the cultists. This brought her to one clear conclusion: this was Sunathaer Caex, paladin and defender of Panshaw.

Knowing this, the third thing she noticed came as a surprise to the rogue. This paladin of justice had just knocked in a very familiar rhythm. A knock that was very well known to any frequenter of taprooms of ill repute. A knock that meant, he meant business, business of the illegal kind.

The rogue was curious, and even though she knew curiosity in her line of work didn’t just get the cat killed, it got the cat sunk alive in the docks or changing names and moving cities, she was tempted to answer. From the shadows, from a place she knew he would never spot her, she spoke.

“What do you come here for paladin?”

“Information, has anyone come here lately?“ he said, looking for the origin of the voice.

“Whoa there, straight to the point honey. I’d love to know a few things myself first. How did you learn that knock for instance?”

“A friend.”

“What is a warrior of justice doing with a friend like that?”

“An old friend.”

“You aren’t exactly much of a talker, are you?”

“Listen, lady, I won’t be long, just tell me what I need to know and I’ll be out of your way.”

“Sure… Speak.”

“Has anyone come here lately?”

“You and the whole town, darling. If you noticed the place is a fucking mess.”

“Anyone shady?”

“Says the dragon in a tunic.”

“I mean someone odd, alone, recurring? ”

Strangely she knew just who he meant. There was one person that came to mind.

“I ain’t a snitch.”

“Please, this is important. I got visions about him, he was a guest at the silent coin. I tried to talk to him a couple of times. Meri doesn’t send prophecies lightly. I need to know more, I think I’m meant to help him, I don’t know. It’s still vague.”

“That is all well and good, mister… But I don’t see what’s in it for me.”

“A purpose.”

“Are you kidding me?”

“I have gold.” He pushed the cape back and revealed a heavy bag.

She stepped out of her hiding spot, the paladin seemed relieved to see her directly now. This didn’t mean she was showing all her cards, she kept a few escape routes in mind in case she needed them. 

“Deal.” She pushed a window next to them open with her foot and said, “Make your deposit.”

The paladin released the knot holding the satchel and threw it through the window. It made a heavy sound as it landed inside.

“It’s been a week since he came back… He was better than you at hiding himself, smoker. He came after all the trouble was over.”

The rogue shifted her attention to the town as she began to tell her tale.

Glutandur, an illustration from Savros’ Legendarium of Dragons.


I was keeping the front door unlocked. Closing it at that time only meant robbers would break it down and this made it one less door to repair later. So he let himself in.

I had been keeping an eye on him, I knew him. He’d been making deals with Debra about something we couldn’t quite figure out. She started to act kinda weird after that… I figure he was offering her something good.

After I recognized him I started sneaking from the shadows, keeping an eye through a peephole in another room. This was a place I couldn’t be seen and could easily keep pace with him.

“You can come out of the shadows,” said the mysterious stranger.

I was startled by this, but still, the comment could be a shot in the dark…

“I know you are there,” said the stranger, shooting her a clear glance.

He couldn’t possibly have spotted me, even now that he was looking straight at where I was. Then, his fingers lit in pure fire and he lit his pipe once again, puffing light smoke into the air. The fire lit a few of his fine features, this was the first time I got an actual glace of his face. 

Magic. This wasn’t a common man, so normal rules didn’t apply. His vision could be boundless, not to speak of his powers of destruction. There was little I could do, except…

“Who are you?” 

He didn’t answer and kept moving through the room, towards the kitchen, or the backstage as the Greyguards would call it. Under it was the entrance to the dungeon, hidden from anyone that didn’t know the trick to it. The mysterious stranger moved the cabinet that revealed the trapdoor.

“I can’t believe she told you where the dungeon is.”

“No, she did not. It was I who told her about the Vault of Pyritedge. Follow me,” the stranger said, moving his hands around and summoning fire once again.

The rogue remained in silence and kept her distance from the stranger as they descended ever further down the halls of the dungeon lit by the light of his fire. They finally reached the edge of the vault’s door, there laid the corpse of the beast Eye-Gouger, finally laid to rest.

“Poor thing. It wasn’t meant to end up like this.”

“Dead you mean? It suits it. At least for anyone that treasures their depth of view.”

“He could not help himself, did you know? Drakes are fascinating beings, true creatures of habit. This was a very important drake.”

“Well, it’s dead now. That’s what you asked of Debra? Did you want that thing alive? What were you paying?”

“I didn’t ask her to send poor adventurers down here if you are asking. I just wanted access to him, she said she had a score to settle and I could not dissuade her from doing it herself.”

“What did she want as payment?”

“I just offered her to take the creature and told her of the vault’s curse. I said I could break it and she could have what was inside. I’m sorry for what happened, it wasn’t meant to happen that way.”

I saw as he knelt next to the Guardian Drake and closed its eyes, then he took a piece of clean embroidered cloth and cleaned its face of any coagulated blood with all the care in the world. 

“Rest in peace, my friend.”

He pocketed the cloth before getting up and turning to me, I felt compelled to say something.

“My sentiments…” As the words escaped my mouth I couldn’t help but think how stupid they were.

“Thank you, and my condolences as well, it pains me to know you lost many who were close to you.”

“Yeah, tough.”

“My actions were what led them to their fate, and to what they did to others. I believed the best way to do my job, trying to help from the shadows as a silent agent, this clearly was a mistake.”

“The underworld is no place for helping folk, stranger… Take it from someone who lives in it.”

“Thank you for your counsel. I believe you are correct, there is no way forward other than into the light. To this end, let me heed it in fact and present myself. I’m Archmage Savros, maybe you’ve heard of my Legendarium.”

Dragons as the Apex. Illustration from Savros’ Legendarium of Dragons.


“He told me he is the headmaster of some university and that he had other business to tend to. Then he got on his way and left.”

“I see, thank you.” At that, the paladin turned and started to walk away. 

“Are you just going to leave? Just like that?”

“I now understand where I have to go.”

“Really fucking smooth.”

As she saw him leave, her mind wandered. It wandered on the words of the mage and his identity, it wandered on the journey that the paladin was about to embark on and it wandered even more on the adventurer’s lifestyle. There was more gold made, gold that wasn’t cursed, and she could definitely find worse companions to pester than the sworn protector of Panshaw.

As the rogue dreamed of leaving, the tavern felt its last arguments to be considered a tavern fade. Thus, the Two-Faced Coins Tavern took its last breath and died.

Chapter 2

The meridians that cross over Loxwort University hummed expectantly. A place like this university seeps with so much sorcery throughout the years that it tends to attract these currents of magic. Today they were especially unrestful because they predicted one more bout of the powerful spellcrafting that had been recurring for the last few weeks. They were great shocks of arcane energy invisible to most, but that would invariably shake the net of magic meridians and transmit that energy around the globe.

The Loxwort Academy was a place where a lot of powerful castings took place, but this was something unprecedented. It was not like when master Merjar would teach his apprentice Sheera how to evoke scorching lines of incandescent flame, no this spell lingered. Nor was it like when Master Haraldin would divine knowledge from creatures from other planes, no this was less fickle, more sturdy.

This was old magic, an apparatus constructed over centuries of research, it had been perfected to amplify magic, to bolster incantations that were themself already very powerful. This was the Eye and it had been built in secrecy by the university’s headmaster, Savros. The Eye was locked inside a warded room of his quarters. 

Being that it was located inside of Loxwort also meant that this chamber was protected from teleportation, and beyond that many other fail safes had been set up by the archmage to protect the treasures within. Even the Eye’s arcane discharges were masked by the magical nature of the University’s grounds.

Now, however, it lay dormant, for it had no power of its own, designed only to amplify its user’s magic. This is why the meridians had stirred awake, for the user of the Eye, its architect, had arrived.

Headmaster Savros, a slim youthful man, arrived on the grounds of the University in a disheveled state. His face and hair had been covered by the soot that was inevitable in underground expeditions. His now tattered robes and stained boots had been marked by his trip to the Tenebris. The only thing that remained untouched was the large leather tome he carried with him on his belt. 

He made his way through the hallways of the university spearing towards his chambers. The trip to the Tenebris had been a difficult one since the complex of caves that sprawl the continent isn’t a welcoming environment by any stretch of the imagination.

“Headmaster!” A small gnome wearing a tall brimmed hat intercepted him on his walk. “You won’t believe it, the Wax-leaf flowers from the swamp have been doing wonders to the mandrake’s health.”

“That is wonderful news Ms. Eilily, but you caught me in a rush now.” 

“Oh, darling! What happened to you?”

“Well, I…”

“Headmaster, incredible news,” Merjar, the dragonborn professor of evocation joined this surprise assault on the arriving headmaster. “I have officially discovered a new state for alchemical fire!”

“Oh, yes! Well…” 

Glutandur, Venom Dragon.

Savros barely had time to get those words in while Shaemon, the blade binding tiefling professor, and Robert, the half-giant master transmuter, cut him in his tracks.

“No, Robert, binding yourself to one blade means binding to their state of matter as well, changing that would shatter the binding.”

“Ah! Headmaster, could you give us your thoughts on an argument?” the half-giant said, approaching. “Wow, what happened to you? Was it a salamander? Terrible creatures.”

“No, I…”

“Savros, you look awful. Where were you?” to everyone’s discomfort, Irunda, Loxwort’s odd professor of the necromantic arts, asked snidely.

“Well, you see…” Savros started but was interrupted again by the sudden appearance of a white cloud that filled the hallway.

Master Zilgrim gave Savros a knowing look as he exited the cloud of white smoke. The Headmaster mouthed a quick “thank you”. It was answered by a joyful smile from the master conjurer and another puff on his magical pipe. This made the cloud – and the discontent ramblings of all the blinded wizards – grow.

Finally, within the confines of his locked chambers, Savros relaxed, this long day had come to an end. The entry of the headmaster’s chambers was composed of a small library and antiquarian, and an office where he conducted research, but he ignored this space. The dust and mess revealed he had been disregarding it often as of late. He moved directly to the mirror opposite the door. He touched it, the reflexive surface stained with his touch, he then chanted words in a language the mirror seemed to understand and the glass answered to the speech, shaking ever so slightly at the sound of the raspy and hard words the archmage professed.

By the end of the sentence, his hand had already gone past the now malleable surface of the mirror. Savros passed through the mirror and arrived at the other side, into the secret chamber where the Eye awaited him. 

The Eye was an artifact built flawlessly, its structure was made of pure brass, perfectly smelted, it was made up of parts prepared to be aligned into the shapes of the magic geometry of the spells that would be cast from it. The core of the Eye was made up less of material and more out of pure arcane possibility, distilled for years to make it as potent as possible. 

The only other thing in the room other than the eye was a stand to which Savros made his way. Atop it floated what seemed to be a chained instrument, made of dark wood and metal strings. The strings made a sound in the presence of Savros.

“Master Savros, we await your return,” said the object as the strings played themselves sounding like speech. 

Savros placed his leather tome open on top of the stand under the floating instrument. The Hextale, as the instrument was called in the arcane script carved on its wood, glided down and touched the book, resting atop it.

“The Master might be inclined to rest, yes? To continue his research another day.” The strings rang in a deeper tone now that it was touching the stand and book. 

“Don’t try me, spirit, you have rested long enough yourself, start to record. I command it,” said Savros tiredly.

The instrument resigned silently. The spirit who enchanted it despised to work more than anything, but still were bound to their master’s bidding. So the Hextale awaited expectantly for the headmaster to start. 

“The Eye’s research has been incredibly fruitful, the second location it provided proved to be the lair of the dragon Glutandur.”

As Savros spoke, Hextale mimicked his voice with quiet vibrations, the instrument then transcribed these words into neatly written text on the pages below it. 

“The Eye was more precise this time, but since this was an isolated attempt I’ll repeat it and try to find the other dragons from the Pact.”

Savrosh’garexys, Lorewyrm, and Headmaster Savros’ true form.

Savros paced around the room, removed his sullied coat, and folded it neatly under the stand.

“Glutandur’s sample proved far more challenging to acquire than the one from the Eye Stalker’s drake analogue, but I was able to procure it. My first attempt to hire Durk to collect it was met with outrage and the adventurers that I called there had already delved too deep into the caves by the time I arrived.”

Savros removed his boots, placing them under the stand. He discovered the large tear that cut into the ankle of his left boot.

“Damned Tithonoloths, they got my boot.”

“Damned Tithono…” Hextale mimicked Savros. “Would you like me to record that, Master?” said the instrument in its own metallic voice.

“Let’s not save that for posterity.” 

Savros sighed, removing the equally thorn woolen socks. He stood up and made his way around the room barefoot.

“Moving on, by the end I met a woman that called herself Aunty Gremeth, I suspect her to be a powerful being, but she seemed open to trade. She said she knew who I was and had collected the sample, by what means she refused to say.”

Savros removed a bottle from his belt. He then rotated the arcane contraption and opened a compartment that led to the center of the Eye. The center glowed in a faint golden light. The back of the compartment had six slots recessed into a plate of brass, two of them already filled. He then poured the greenish blood from the bottle into one of the recesses.

“We’re getting close, there is still hope yet,” he said, closing the compartment.

At this point Savros had removed the last of his dirty clothes, placing them inside of the stand’s cabinet and closing it so that it wouldn’t interfere. Barely dressed, Savros paced around the room nervously. 

“It seems Aunty Gremeth was telling the truth, the blood she gave me isn’t causing instability. This means we are halfway there, but the location of the others from the Pact has been elusive even to the eye. My hope is that with this last sample I will be able to find the others. I will resume tests with the Eye shortly.” Savros stopped and turned towards the Hextale. ”For those who read this later, you must understand my intentions. I sense something terrible coming, a fate that should be avoided at all costs. To this end, we will need the full force of the dragons to stop it. This is the purpose of the Eye, this is my purpose.” Savros now moved towards the Hextale. “You can stop recording now.” 

An exhilarated twang rang from the strings of the magical instrument.

“Thank you, master. May we rest now?”

“Yes, go ahead. I will change into something more comfortable myself.” 

With that Savros touched the air around him summoning five glyphs into existence. He pushed through them with both arms, but his form didn’t stop pushing when they reached his arms’ length. His body began to grow as they passed the glyphs that hung in the air, revealing the scales that clung to his shape. He grew and grew, many times larger than his humanoid form. In fact, by the end of this transformation, he wasn’t remotely human at all, but a slim,  winged dragon.

Savrosh’garexys, the lorewyrm, stretched and surrounded the Eye, finally able to see it in its entirety, its beauty, its treasure. He began to tinker with the artifact, preparing the object to be activated.

However, in the midst of his work, he heard a high-shattering noise. He looked around, moving his body to find the origin of the sound. One of the warding seals on the wall of the chamber broke, his sanctum was being invaded.

From the other side of the mirror that hid the secret room, he now heard muted voices.

“He said it would be here somewhere,” said a low gravelly male voice.

“Are you sure this place is empty?” asked his nervous companion.

“Yes, don’t worry,” answered the man.

Through the one-way mirror, he saw two strange figures in the night and an open window.  He would have to do something, if these thieves had come for the Eye he had to protect it. Maybe they’d listen to reason however, he could call forth a version of himself, a simple simulacrum. Although there was time to make one, the lorewyrm’s magic was more powerful than these limitations. So he whispered, almost soundlessly.

“I wish…” 

The archmage’s magic filled the room in one last glow of intense purple light. Magic powerful enough that not even the enchanted mirror could contain its effects. So the meridians shook again, another burst of great magic was felt and dissipated around their magical net.

Chapter 3

“I fear something terrible will happen tonight,” said the frazzled monster hunter to his humming automaton companion.

Dr. Anderson, the monster hunter, founder of the Wardens, and master of all alchemical arts sat surrounded by his achievements. His cushioned armchair sagged, however, under the weight of his heavy burdens. 

“You say this every night, master, I’m sure everything will be fine,” replied Jeeves.

“I’m sure it will,” Anderson lied.

The old doctor got up, went to the door of the office, cane and watch in hand, ready to leave.

“Where are you going, sir? You promised you’d rest.”

“Last rounds,” the doctor smiled, letting through only a smidge of worry.

This broken expression was enough for the automaton to understand that the doctor wouldn’t rest until this task was done, so he didn’t protest. Anderson’s fate was a grim one after all, he hadn’t found a cure for his curse after years of research and his affliction would flare more often now that the doctor’s mind was weakened by fatigue.

“I’ll come with you,” the automaton said, his core lighting up with newfound motivation.

“No need, I’ll…” Anderson started.

“No discussion, I’m coming. No better way to keep your mind off of things than a good conversation.”

The doctor flinched instinctively at the mere mention of things. So he reminded himself of the key that kept it down.

Calm now, shush now,” he held his breath.

Keep it deep, deep down,” his heart pounded.

If you ignore the fear,” his muscles tensed.

Nothing will come my dear,” he let the air out, relieved.

Dr. Anderson’s letters to Savros.

Keeping the intrusive thoughts down had grown harder, but the memory was locked behind the gates of his mental palace. Behind a memory of better times, forever sacrificed for the greater good.

Tick, Tock. His clock brought him back to reality, he had set the contraption off almost instinctively. His fear of lost time during his flairs had made him keep the watch close to him always. The doctor hit the button again, stopping the clock.

Only now he noticed the tensely posed Jeeves. His friend had extended his arm blade and waited expectantly for what would happen. He was afraid.

“Apologies,” said the doctor.

“Oh… Oh dear, no, I’m sorry, I…” said the automaton.

“Don’t worry, let’s move,” Anderson let out another broken smile and exited the office.

The doctor’s office opened directly to the inside of his tower and exhibition. The compound was inhabited by all types of fantastical creatures and was a maze to anyone that wasn’t deeply familiar with its layout. The doctor had overseen the construction of all the pens and had taken care to accommodate the needs of the menagerie of beasts that the collection housed, so the path through the tower was very clear in his mind. 

They would first check on the docile beasts closer to his office, these creatures had grown accustomed to their new environment and some had even begun to see the doctor as a friend. Then they would go through the untamed creatures, either large and dangerous beasts or smarter specimens like Matinta Pereira, the hag. They’d go deeper towards the dangerous specimens, higher and higher in the tower. Finally, reaching the crown of the tower where the doctor housed his greatest achievement, an ancestor to all dragons, revived.

The doctor was thankful for the long track, he even preferred the labyrinthine design of his collection. Better the hard way that will distract me than having to sit idly and let my mind wander. Remembering was just not an option, that’s when the flairs would come. 

Just across from his door, the beautiful rainbow hawk opened its wings in a beautiful spread of color. Its pen was filled with the luscious flora, a preferred environment by the beast.

“The creatures never stop to amaze me, Jeeves.” The doctor moved to check on the creature’s food. It had already been filled.

“Sometimes I wonder if you really have them here for testing, master. You barely conduct any research anymore. You won’t find a cure this way.” The automaton didn’t even glance at the food, knowing the doctor had done two rounds that day and it would surely be filled.

“It will all fall into place in time, Jeeves,” the doctor moved on.

“That’s not how things work, doctor,” the automaton argued.

They moved to the overlook above where the kappa was kept. Anderson had constructed a river so the creature could feel at home.

“I understand Jeeves, but having the creatures well accommodated is first priority.” The doctor looked into the kappa’s pen, and the creature mused carefully at its reflection in the stream. “No proper results with stressed specimens.”

“I’m just saying, it feels like you aren’t willing to do what you must.” Jeeves got between him and the kappa. ”You’ve had no headway researching any of these creatures so far. Only a few have shown any progress, the protodragon for instance…”

“I’ll hear no more of it, Jeeves,” the doctor’s face soured at the mention of his prized specimen.

“Yes, master,” the automaton conceded, as he often did.

Dr. Anderson’s letters to Savros.

They now confronted the spiraling stairs to the next level. The disjointed steps hugged the walls of the tower and made impossible turns in order to reach the second floor. The cerberus spawn needed a lot of space so the doctor chose to give up the stairs’ mobility in order to perfect its pen.

The second floor was more densely packed than the first, the security measures had to be doubled due to the creatures it housed. Here were the brutes of his collections, the doctor thought they were marvelous beasts, but he understood how dangerous they were. These were not the most perilous things he had in his tower however, those were the denizens of the third floor.

The doctor stopped when they reached the entrance of the first pen, there she was, Matinta Pereira. The hag gazed back at him, an awful smile decorating her crooked avian features. 

“Are you coming?” the automaton looked impatient.

“I’ll stay a little longer.” The doctor looked into the hag’s pen. “You can go on.”

“I’ll feed the cerberus, take care, master.” The automaton turned and disappeared in the distance. 

The monster hunter and the hag were left alone. This was one of the few intelligent creatures in Anderson’s collections. 

The doctor kept the creature from being killed by a vengeful lord she kept awake for seven nightmare-fueled nights. The doctor knew that was her nature, however, so he brought her here, in the hopes she would teach him her magic and pass down the knowledge her kind had in the alchemical arts. Nothing she gave him helped with the curse, however. 

She now huddled on a branch, smiling mischievously at the old man.

“You look tired, Anderson,” she sounded every syllable of his name as if it was a foreign word.

“So much for being called indomitable for so long.” The hag’s reflection shone distorted on the doctor’s monocle.

“Ah! A foe never to be defeated, old age. If only you could rest.” The creature revealed in the doctor’s pain.

“I can’t stop, not until all my affairs are in order.” The doctor held on to the hags cage, she followed him with her eyes as he moved. 

“Your robotic friend tells me you know how to sort it all out, eh?” the birdlike fey said, cocking her head. “That you knew from the beginning. That all you had to do was go to your favorite pet and…” The doctor tensed as the hag cracked the branch next to hers. “Sort it out.”

“Not an option,” the doctor cut her off.

“Well, then all goes on as it is. Better to give in now than to suffer, no? Tell me Anderson,” once again she sounded out his name. ”Do you remember? Do you remember how it felt? It’s going to be a wild night,” Matinta Pereira cackled loudly, a mix of pain, joy, and madness.

The doctor tried to avert his gaze, but it was too late. He saw the large crack inside the creature’s pen as she took flight inside the cage and made it visible, her laughter still resonating around him. The crack on the floor of her cage had been done his other half when the curse last flared. The hag’s foul laughter seemed to stir something inside of him, the images of those moments growing ever clearer. He needed to keep them away, remembering his monstrous half existed meant it would resurface. So again he turned to his mantra, trying to push his other self down.

Protodragon, one of Dr. Anderson experiments.

“But if you thought you would think.” His mind started slipping.

“If only a breach I found.” His muscles burned.

“I would come in a blink.” His chest throbbed.

“You can bet I would stick around.” The pain overtook him.

“Until your toys are no more.” Darkness consumed him.

Tick, Tock. His clock was running, he had blacked out. The prone Anderson looked around, relieved to find himself in the same spot he was before, the clock showing that only a few moments had passed. He had blacked out, but nothing had happened. The doctor’s heart still raced. This had been happening more often, the creature inside had always been trying to push him out, but the doctor was tired now, his strength being sapped each day. This was close, too close. 

Still, something was off. The air consumed by a curdling smell. It couldn’t be, the only creature with this kind of smell was locked on the other side of this floor.

That’s when he saw the large shadow cast on the floor, announcing the large body of the creature huddling towards him. The doctor got up slowly, and slowly the Mapinguari turned the corner of the labyrinth of large cages and pens. 

Its hulking body turning towards the old man, it snarled while the second mouth in the center of the creature’s chest gurgled strangely, drops of its acidic saliva hissing and burning the stone floor. Silence reigned for unending seconds, occasionally cut by the sound of the doctor’s clock.

The Mapingari roared and charged toward the fallen doctor. Doctor Anderson hadn’t lost all resolve after the flare, as the creature reached him, claws outstretched and jaw open in hunger, the monster hunter rolled out of the way, cane in hand, jumping into a defensive stance.

The doctor had the help of three other Wardens to subdue this creature when it was rampaging villages in the North. I can’t fight this thing, I have to contain it.

The Mapinguari turned towards the doctor, both claws swinging through the air. The doctor dodged the first blow, but the second came down with incredible speed toward the doctor’s neck. The doctor launched himself sideways quickly, avoiding the full impact of the creature’s claw. Still, the creature’s blow cut his parry arm deeply. 

In position at the creature’s side, the doctor didn’t have any more space to dodge as the Mapinguari turned its central corrosive mouth towards the old man. The monster hunter put his left hand in pure defiance of the creature’s attack. Magic coalesced around his arm as Anderson called forth a huge wave of arcane energy, trapping the creature inside a force cage.

The Mapingari slammed into the arcane walls of the cage, mere inches from the tired doctor. It was contained for now. He needed help, quickly. 

Doctor Anderson ran across the second floor, crossing the maze of pens in search of his companion. A legion of thoughts went through his mind then. Where is Jeeves? Is he safe? How could this have happened?

Then he saw it. It can’t be, this can’t be happening. The iron doors that separated the third floor were open, and the stairs that went up barely lit. No, no. A tiny squidling waddled down the stairs, its large central eye staring at the frazzled doctor. It seemed harmless and tiny framed by the large iron doors. We need help, now

The doctor tensed and was instantly aware of the trail of blood he was leaving behind him. The wound the Mapinguari dealt him was still trickling. 

The squidling averted his large eye towards the blood trail. This was one of the most dangerous items in the doctor’s collection, if it got in contact with only one drop of blood it would multiply into a neverending swarm. Powerful containment was not an option since he wasn’t able to access the same magic he used on the Mapingari today. 

The squidling began to waddle towards the blood, the doctor had to act fast.

“Stun,” the creature instantly fell limp as the doctor conjured the powerful spell. 

Anderson then ran towards the iron doors and closed the squidling behind them. This was only a way to stall the inevitable and now the monster hunter’s most powerful spells had been spent. Where will this end? Who has done this? His mind raced once again. I have to call on the wardens, I have to seal the tower.

The doctor sprinted toward his office. Now he heard the call of the many other beasts of his collection let loose on his tower. A creeping sensation crawled through his skin. This isn’t over. As he arrived he saw that his office’s door was busted, destroyed by a powerful impact. 

“Stop! You can’t do this!” Jeeves’ voice came from inside the room. 

The monster hunter, filled with resolve once again, ran towards the voice only to find Jeeves unharmed in the center of a tarnished office. His research thorn, books flung through the room, and armchair ripped to shreds.

“Jeeves, what happened?” said Anderson, cane in hand, entering the room.

The automaton went quiet, back turned to the monster hunter.

The doctor was thrown through the room, hit by a powerful blow. His wounded arm slammed against the wall, breaking unnaturally. The doctor let out a scream of pain.

“No!” the automaton exclaimed.

Pain clouded the doctor’s mind. Only now he noticed the shadowy figure at the corner of the room, perched atop his desk.

“An appointment with doctor Anderson himself, what a treat,” the creature’s hoarse voice sounded delighted. “I honestly didn’t think this moment would ever come.”

The creature approached aberrantly, arms and legs crossing in an odd walk.

“What is happening, Jeeves?” Anderson begins to crawl away instinctively “Activate the tower’s defenses. Call the Wardens.” 

The automaton remained unresponsive.

“I’m pleased to feel your scent this close, Anderson. Your life truly is forfeit, I knew it,” the creature stepped into the light “I’ll see you suffer, nonetheless.” 

“You’ll do no such thing… That was not the deal…” The automaton moves towards the central bookshelf “You will have souls fiend, but not this one.” 

Drakelin, a dragon familiar.

A small green sphere glowed untouched surrounded by heavy tomes. The automaton touched it and whispered.

“Come quickly, we require assistance.”

The office shook with the sudden wave of energy, the magical sphere lit up, sending a  call to the wardens, sealing the tower with powerful magic. 

“He will suffer all the same,” the devil revealed. “Now, uphold your end of the bargain.”

“I’m sorry doctor, this is for your own good. You know what has to be done,” said Jeeves.

“You can’t do this, Jeeves. There is still hope,” Anderson pleaded.

“This is a small price to pay to save you. I’m sorry, master.” And so the automaton then began to sing.

Nip Nap, Tick Tock,” The betrayal stung, mixing with the pain of the transformation.

Can’t remember, can’t forget.” The devil laughed, mixing with the doctor’s tortured cries.

If the words he would speak.” The mantra continued, mixing old memories with the new. “Mr. Sprigg would come collect.” His mind shattered, mixing doctor and monster within.

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