Episode 17 (2)

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Duchess Rose tilted her head. “Khrx? Is something wrong?” The dragon-turned-beastkin was crouching over the ground, but his body was completely stiff and his ears were swiveling back and forth. Just a few seconds ago, he was searching the room where Fufu was held captive for some furs.

“I thought I heard a familiar roar,” Khrx said. He shook his head. “But that’s not possible because she’s already dead.” A sigh escaped from Khrx’s mouth as he resumed his search. Poor Sneksnek. She died an unjust death to the hero. Khrx picked up a single strand of pure-white fur. “Found one.” He offered it Duchess Rose. “Does this work?”

Duchess Rose accepted the strand and held it in front of her nose. She closed her eyes and inhaled, her chest steadily expanding. She exhaled, releasing all the air in her body, before inhaling again. She repeated the process several times before relaxing. Her eyes opened and she flashed Khrx a smile. “It took a while, but yes,” she said. “I found her general direction.”

“To the metal egg!” Khrx said, raising both arms into the air. He could finally reunite with Fufu! He wasn’t sure how he survived the last dozens of days without Fufu. His quality of sleep had definitely been affected. The longest he slept uninterrupted without her was only a little more than two weeks. Khrx hummed to himself as he left the room and slipped on a puddle of blood. Duchess Rose barely managed to catch him before he fell face first.

“That’s an awful lot of blood,” Duchess Rose said, her eyes glinting. She licked her lips and swallowed as her gaze traversed up the hallway. At the end, there was a closed door with blood flowing out from the crack between the bottom and the floor. Like little snakes, the rivulets of blood continued down the hall and down the stairs like tiny red waterfalls. “Wouldn’t a normal person have been exsanguinated by now?”

“Khrx! Khrx! Help me, damn you! I know you’re out there!”

Khrx coughed and pretended not to hear the pained cries coming out of the door. Tsorfy was killed in a single hit. Sneksnek was killed in a single hit. He wouldn’t be surprised if more of his friends had been killed in a single hit by the hero too. There was no way he was going to provoke that person’s descendant. Khrx turned towards Duchess Rose. “Let’s sit down and wait for those two to finish their spat.”

Duchess Rose brought Khrx to the living room and placed him down onto the couch. She frowned as she looked around. How did Luke summon that robotic servant to bring in some tea? She stood up and fidgeted with a fancy-looking panel on the wall with lots of glowing buttons and lights along with a giant red button in the center.

“Try the big red button,” Khrx said.

“I’m not sure that’s a good idea,” Duchess Rose said, furrowing her brow.

“Nonsense. It’s red. Red’s the superior color—nothing bad can come from red. Press it.”

“Alright,” Duchess Rose said with a shrug. “I can’t disobey my father.” She shattered the glass covering the red button and hesitated before pushing down with her finger. Nothing happened.

“Try again?” Khrx asked, tilting his head. What was the point of having a button that did nothing?

Duchess Rose slammed her fist against the button. The panel cracked, but nothing else happened. “Nope,” she said and scratched her head.

A robotic servant waltzed into the room. “Is something wrong?”

“Your master is being tortured by a madwoman!” Luke’s voice called out from the ominous room.

The robotic servant continued to stare at Duchess Rose. The vampire scratched her nose. “Ah, yeah. Do you have any tea?”

“Of course,” the servant said, retreating back into the kitchen. Duchess Rose sat next to Khrx and waited. A few moments later, the servant returned and placed a platter in front of the duo.

“So, uh, how’s life?” Khrx asked as he sipped on the hot beverage. How long was Anaheim going to take? Luke should just admit whatever it was to remove the curse. It wasn’t like it’d cost him anything. Probably.

“Not bad, not bad at all,” Duchess Rose said with a nod. “I can go outside during the day. It seems like random people don’t want to kill me just for existing. And I’m guaranteed a hundred servants from someone like the descendant of the hero. Her promise should be kept, right? I didn’t act for a contract. I hope she doesn’t cheat me. There isn’t much more I want than this. Well, for sure, I’m going to create a mimic mansion somewhere, but I haven’t decided on a location yet. Do you think I can transport my current one to this world?”

“I’m not sure,” Khrx said with a shrug. Could he become companions with a whole mansion? He continued to chat with Duchess Rose, letting the time pass by. Ten minutes turned to thirty. Thirty minutes turned to an hour. Hours turned into a day. Two days later, Khrx tossed his tea cup against the wall. “Why is this taking so long!?” If he had grabbed Duchess Rose and flew with his own ability, he’d have found Fufu by now! But what dragon would want to exercise when there was a vehicle available to transport him just waiting to be used? It’s not that he didn’t want to see Fufu, he just wanted to show her the magical flying egg. It wasn’t because he was lazy or anything. Fufu would love seeing the magical flying egg.

“Hmm?” Duchess Rose stopped chattering and looked around. “What’s wrong, Khrx? It’s only been two days. As I was saying, don’t you think—”

“Enough! How can you talk nonstop for two whole days?” Khrx asked, his bloodshot eyes widening to comical proportions. He hopped off the couch and stomped towards the door at the end of the hall. Blood was still pouring out from the crack, and the blood along the hall still hadn’t congealed due to the constant stream.

“I haven’t talked to anyone in years,” Duchess Rose said. “Mimics aren’t great conversationalists. They just copy my sentences most of the time. Do you know how frustrating that can be?”

Khrx ignored the vampire as he lifted his foot and kicked the door. It flew open with a bang. Anaheim flinched as she turned around, holding onto a bloody … something. Khrx wasn’t sure what it was. A quivering blob of … something was hung up on the wall by meat hooks. Khrx wasn’t sure what that was either. “Where’s Luke?”

Anaheim blinked and pointed at the blob on the wall. “He’s very stubborn. But I feel like I can get it out of him soon.”

“That’s Luke?” Khrx asked, his face paling.

“Yeah,” Anaheim said with a nod. “I’ve blessed him with temporary infinite regeneration. No matter what I do to him, he can’t die and his nerves will always regrow.”

“Dude. Luke,” Khrx said. “Why don’t you just tell her?”

“Why don’t I just tell her? Why don’t I just tell her!?” the quivering pink blob that was Luke shouted. “I’ll tell you why! To break the curse, I have to fall in love with her! Do you think I can fall in love with someone like her!? She’s fucking insane! Look at what’s she done to me!”

“Well, I mean, you don’t look too far off from your true form,” Khrx said, scratching his head. When Khrx first met Luke millions of years ago, the demon lord looked like more like an octopus than a human. “You’re just missing your tentacles. And eyes. And, uh, teeth. Wow, she pulled out your teeth….”

“Wait. That’s really how I’m supposed to break the curse?” Anaheim asked. “My eyes of truth can’t be wrong, right? I am tired though….”

“Mm, well, uh, good luck,” Khrx said. “I found some of Fufu’s fur. Can you drive the metal egg to her?”

“Yeah, sure,” Anaheim said as she unhooked Luke from the way. White light poured out of her palm, restoring Luke to his original form. She beamed at him. “Hi, honey. I really didn’t mean to torture you like that. If you would’ve just told me how to break the curse, you wouldn’t’ve had to suffer like that. You’ll forgive me, right?”

Luke’s head rolled backwards as he fainted. His soul attempted to leave through his mouth, but Anaheim pressed it back inside of him and forced his unconscious body to swallow.

Anaheim pouted. “Don’t be like that, dear.”

Shivers ran down Khrx’s spine as his tail stiffened. For the first time in his life, he considered exerting effort even when there was a lazier alternative available. But he suppressed that feeling and waited for Anaheim to take out the flying egg.

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