Twin piercing roars echoed throughout the blazing red mountains as the two beasts engaged one another. One, a devilfooted tiger, baring its razor sharp fangs. The other, an irontailed roc, smaller than usual but just as fierce. Between them, a half-eaten slab of goat meat. The two were both weak from exhaustion and hunger, but forced themselves into the engage, lest they lose the one potential source of food each could find.
Both puffed their chests to intimidate the other. Neither attempt worked, however, as they were too hungry to worry about fear. Seeing no available moves, they slowly continued to circle each other, making sure they conserved the little energy they had.
The roc decided to move first. It flapped its wings, shooting up into the air before spreading its wings to slow its ascent. Once it achieved sufficient height, it dived downwards towards its enemy.
The tiger didn't wait for the roc to come to it, though. It extended its claws, digging them into the ground before pulling two large slabs out of the ground. Grabbing one with its mouth, it tossed it as hard as it could towards the incoming bird.
The roc easily dodged the flying chunk of rock trying to hit it, though it had ruined his attack route. It looped once in the air as the tiger threw the second slab. The bird cawed once before grabbing it with its talons, breaking it in its hold. The sight threw the tiger off, but it recovered before it began to run away. Seeing its chance, the roc dived again, aimed straight at the goat meat.
The tiger growled as it stepped on its front legs before pivoting towards the bird. Forcing the last amount of energy it had, it jumped, breaking the uneven ground it stood on and shot straight towards the bird.
As the two beasts approached each other, betting it all on their last attack, neither could expect the arrival of a third player into the mix. From above both, a black mass jumped off a cliff before diving towards them. Just before fang met beak and talon met claw, the mass grabbed both necks before continuing its descent, dragging both with it.
Letting out a fearsome roar, the black dragon slammed both monsters into the ground. The cracking of bones and bodies couldn't be heard over the sound of the ground collapsing underneath the three. Feeling the earth cave in underneath its feet, the dragon flapped its wings into the air, carrying the two dead monsters in its claws all the way back up to the cliff it leaped from.
“Meat’s on the menu, boys!” the black dragon roared as it landed on the cliff edge. It threw the bodies of the roc and tiger in front of the green and blue dragons laying in a tiny cave. They excitedly shot up and ran towards the dragon, mouths frothing.
“Big Sis!” the dragons exclaimed. The black dragon landed on its hind legs before flexing before the two. Her black scales bulged from the muscles hidden underneath.
“That’s Big Slick to you, bastards,” Big Slick laughed. She picked up the roc with her mouth before handing it to the green dragon. “Tank, char this for me, will ya?”
“I don’t know…” Tank muttered, eyeing the tiger. “When it’s this fresh, devilfooted tigers are more delicious.”
“Fruity can handle that,” Big Slick said. She turned to the blue dragon. “Ya don’t mind, do ya?”
“Hardly,” Fruity said. He held up the tiger by its tail before opening his mouth. Blue light shone from underneath his scales as a frigid mist left his mouth. Quickly, the tiger turned blue before icicles formed along its body. “Freezing complete. It should last for a few days if we don’t eat it before then.”
“Still, a thawed tiger loses a lot of its original flavour,” Tank muttered as he took the roc from Big Slick. He started to pluck the bird of its feathers, muttering when he accidentally tore into its flesh.
“What are you doing, Tank?” Fruity asked. “Just burn the chicken and we can eat.”
“This is a delicate process, Fruity,” Tank grumbled. He laid on the ground as he plucked the roc’s underside. “Burning the feathers releases a noxious odour that completely ruins the dish. I can’t just rip the skin off as well, since that’s the most delicious part!”
“Tank, I understand where you’re coming from. I do. Tasty food is good food,” Fruity sighed. “But remember, dear Tanky. We’re in the middle of a depression! We have to take what we can get!”
Tank winced under Fruity’s verbal assault, nearly ripping into the roc’s skin once again. Even he knew that he couldn’t just pick and choose like he could before. He continued to pluck the bird while thinking about how they got into this depression in the first place.
Ever since the mysterious party of monsters nearly wiped out the ecosystem several years ago, the Eimriantag Mountains have been in disarray due to the scarcity of food. Almost no herbivores were left after the initial culling, leaving the carnivores to either leave or fight each other for food.
The dragons were perhaps affected the most. As beings far greater and smarter than regular monsters, they knew that they couldn’t move away from the Eimriantag Mountains. Their presence would create an equally chaotic disturbance in any ecosystem they moved to. Only the Mountains, made by the Great Dragon Eimriantag, could contain them. As such, while they had no problem surviving after the culling, they knew their end would some eventually.
“There! Finished!” Tank exclaimed, holding the featherless bird up. Fruity and Big Slick turned to him with glazed expressions in their eyes.
“Then cook it,” they muttered in unison. Tank winced from their gazes as he sparked a flame in his mouth. He began to spray the bird with superheated gas, making sure the skin roasted at a constant temperature. The smell spread out along the cliff, causing Fruity and Big Slick’s mouths to water.
After a few careful minutes of roasting, Tank threw the roc on the ground in triumph. “Hahah! Finished! Bon appe-tite-ee!”
Fruity and Big Slick ignored Tank’s casual mispronunciation of the word ‘appetite’ as they dug into the cooked roc, using their claws to separate the meat into pieces before stuffing it in their mouths. Tank blew smoke out of his nostrils smugly before reaching for his own piece. Big Slick slapped his claw away.
“Hey, Tank. You still haven’t finished your goat from last night,” Big Slick mumbled, mouth half-full.
“Yeah, Tank. Finish your goat and then you can have a piece of the chicken,” Fruity mumbled, mouth nearly full.
“Oh come on, guys. You know I hate goat,” Tank growled. Fruity couldn’t properly digest goat meat and Big Slick was allergic. Tank didn’t have any health problems revolving around chevon, though due to having to eat it a lot, he developed a fond hatred of it’s taste.
“We’re in a depression, Tank. We need to eat what we can get,” Big Slick argued, swallowing her first chunk of roc meat. “This is really good. You are really good at this.”
“Don’t be wasteful, Tank,” Fruity agreed, already on his third mouthful.
“You guys…” Tank sighed. Although it was a very scummy move, he understood where they were coming from. Sighing defeatedly, he skulked towards the cave where a pile of dead goats lay, frozen through Fruity’s ice breath. He pulled out one before firing a ball of molten slag at it, charring it immediately. He stuck one bit in his mouth, shuddering at the horrible taste.
There were specific parts Tank could stomach, such as the organs or the skin. Once he had scooped out as much as he could, he threw the rest down the cliff side as a way to attract some more scavengers.
As Tank shoved the handful of organs he harvested into his mouth, he gazed up at the reddish black sky above the volcanoes littering the Eimriantag Mountains, forever drooling rivers of lava. Despite being forced to eat goat occasionally, this life of casually waiting for Big Slick to get food for the three wasn’t all that bad. He still felt, though, that there was something greater he could. Some call to action he hadn’t received yet. Some otherworldly purpose he was destined-
“Gah! Bit an intestine!” Tank gagged, spitting out the tube from his mouth. He scraped his tongue before throwing the rest of the organs down into the pit. He laid his head on the ground, trying to air out his mouth.
A few minutes later, Fruity and Big Slick strutted back into the cave. Their stomachs bulged from the meal they had eaten. Tank wept silently, thinking there was no more roc. He was pleasantly surprised, however, when Big Slick dropped a leg torn off early in front of the green dragon before patting his head and following Fruity deeper into the cave.
“Big Sis!” Tank exclaimed silently. He graciously accepted the bird leg, eating it in one bite, rolling around in delight from its delicious taste.