'What the hell just happened back there?' I asked myself over and over again as I ran. I ran until I reached a small select area with a group of trees, hiding behind one of them to catch my breath. I slumped against the tree and fell on my ass, incredibly greatful for my new skin's thickness yet again.

"That was dumb of you, mister." A chipper female voice said from up above. My breath hitched and my vision shot upwards to see a group of wingdrakes, mernos I believe. They were all built with slender frames, most likely adapted for their faster flight capabilities. Light green crested heads and dark green bodies with white undersides. The females had small breasts with light gray nipples and the males weren't packing too much by the wingdrake family standards, but enough to please their ladies. "Why would a thick fella like you go and stay up in the anajath's spot like that?" She asked.

"Um." I breathed. "I was told it was a safe place to rest." I answered, touching my index fingers together.

"And by who exactly? If the answer isn't a now former mate or pack mate, I'll seriously question the science of darwinism."

Ignoring the fact this wild animal somehow knew about science and darwinism, I answered yet again. "I asked a local great jagras."

"The false alpha?! And you trusted him?!" Another mernos squawked.

Huh. Now that I thought about it, listening to what was now essentially competition wasn't smart. Expecially when I think about the fact he was the local bitch and would probably pull some snake wyvern shit and bamboozle me to my death. "Fuck I'm dumb. And angry!"

"Aren't most barroths?" A mernos sniped. For some reason, that stereotyping ass annoyed me. Weird. "Anyway, if you want revenge, you should probrably head on over by the small caverns southeast of here. We think that's where they roost themselves." I shot stereotyper a questioning glance.

"Didn't you guys just comment on my naiveté earlier?" I asked rhetorically, with the cross of my arms for good measure.

All the mernos shrugged. "More insulted you than commented." One of them replied. No dung, jackass. "But yeah. Luckily for you, there's two reason you can trust us."

"One: you don't really have anything we want and we could easily share the area." The mernos gestured to our different elevations.

"Two." Another listed. "We're not fond of jagras. They like to climb up trees and pounce on us to have their way with us. Sometimes eat us if they're hungry enough."

"And on the highly subjective mark, we think you have a great ass." They all nodded, some even licking their lips.

I fidgeted at that last remark and my hands subconsciously moved to cover my posterior. "Right." I drawled. "Thanks for the tips."

"Want another tip?" One asked too huskily.

"Thank you!" I yelled with finality as I walked away with haste, ignoring the approving whistles and squawks watching me leave. This attention made me feel a lot better in the hunter academy.

Anyway, I walked through the forest, southeast like they said until I ended up by the beach area again. Wanna know how I knew that? It was the same place the handler girl ended up. The same area where she snuck pass the jagras with ease. I moved off the ledge and went into the clearing to peer into what was now a small crevice for me now, hearing sounds deep within.

It sounded like laughter and the voice was familiar. I listened more closely to hear his words. "Then that mud slinger came and I told him to sleep topside! I'll tell you what, mud slinger's gonna sleep forever now, Haha!" More rounds of laughter greeted my ear... holes. I ground my jaws in anger and clenched my fists, eager to charge into to the cave to bash some skulls, preferably, mine against theirs.

"What are you doing, mud slinger?"

"Dammit!" I yelled, jumping and bashing my against the cave entrance overpass. Second time today a flying wyvernoid snuck up on me from above, third time you count my time since coming here. "Who said that?" I barked.

"Up here, thick skull." A condescending lady voice said above me. That pukei-pukei from earlier atop a perch with her legs crossed and dangling off the edge. "I know your head is mostly rock, but you know you can't squeeze in there right? Even if you're all muddy and lubed up."

"Your pretty sassy all the way up there. Bet you wouldn't be so keen on smart mouthing me at my level." I grumbled as I got up. She chuckled at my words.

"How I feel sorry for you brute wyverns. Stuck on the ground to lumber about while I get to feel the wind against my colorful scales." She stretched out her wings with a "majestic" flare for added effect, serving to piss me off even further. "You know, mud slinger, if you want to get in that cave, you're gonna have to go to the other side of this entrance." She nodded to the side.

"There's a larger entrance?"

"Not a larger entrance per say, but the wall there is pretty weak. You can probably crash right through there and be right on top of the great jagras and his pack. Hopefully, while he has a massive concussion." She giggled after her sentence and oddly seemed to be flustering up at the thought. Yeesh.

"And you want to help me get in because?"

"Well, I'm assuming you're either trying to get in there for a place to rest which will require some clearing out or you're doing it to get at some jagras for lying to you, mernos told me by the way, and looking for payback. It's the latter isn't it?"

I nodded. "Yeah, it's the latter."

Then she shrugged with a smile. "To answer your previous question, it's cause fuck 'em. Literally too." She stood up on her perch and stretched out a bit. "Come with me, flightless mud brute. I'll show you the other way." She jumped off and flew off. With sigh, I followed the pukei-pukei, doing my best to ignore her taunts. "Try not to lose me now. A great ass like mine, I doubt even a thick skull like you could miss it." I won't when I kick it.

After a bit of flying and following, we came upon an inlined area, a lone giant tree near the small cliff. The Pukei pershed on it and gestured me to come on, neglecting to tell me it was really wet and slick, being an accomplice in my fall in the mud. I won't lie, I kinda liked it. Almost rolled around in it. "Mud slinger, you can roll in the dirt later! You've got jagras to at least maim." The hunter notes told me pukei were territorial bullies, but damn dude.

So I got up and checked out the wall. "So what? I bash my head against this rock and it falls?"

"No dung, barroth. Have you never bashed your skull against rocks before?" Oddly enough, I have. "What are you waiting for instructions? Back up, get a running start, and charge forward with your main weapon." She pointed to her cranium. "So simple, you should be able to do it."

What is this, a tutorial? Whatever. I backed up an adequate distance and made sure to aim myself straight towards the rock. With my head lowered, I rushed forth and brought down the wall like my consular. I could see the rocks, dirt, and other debris fly everywhere despite the bit of disorientation in me.

Through the sound of my crash, rather than laughing and jokes at my expense being turned into silence, it was the sounds of light battle still kinda raging on. The moment I reopened my eyes, I found two familiar faces, both welcomed at this point. It was the orange haired hunter cadet standing over the corpses of lesser jagras and Deus ex Machina rideing the back of the battered great jagras with his great sword out. Guys must of entered at some point when I wasn't at the smaller entrance.

"What the hell?!" Deus screamed before the great jagras threw him off. Like a felyne assassin, he landed right on his feet.

"A barroth of all things!" The orange guy yelled, getting into defensive position. "Of all the times for one to show up!"

"No, wait! I'm the guy from the boat! That guy you clanked cups with!" I yelled with my arms waving defensively as I looked towards orange. "It's me, Xavier!"

"Kid, get back!" Deus yelled, rushing at me with his great sword. What the hell was he doing?! Could they not understand me? He slashed at my legs, making me step to the side and back to avoid getting cut by his slashes. From my position, I could see Orange keeping back, looking on with worry aand not paying attention to the jagras coming at him from the back side.

"Did you forget the reason for coming here?" That voice again? Whatever, I kept my focus on what mattered. I couldn't let Orange get murdered by that lying bastard, no person would get hurt on my watch.

Getting way more bold than I should've been, I blocked another downward slash with my crown and pushed with an upward lift, throwing Deus back. I ran towards orange just as the great jagras went to seize the opportunity to strike. His pounce couldn't make contact as his ribcage was too busy being crushed by my shoulder, air and possibly some blood leaving through his mouth.

I backed up, leaving the bastard to slump against the wall. When I turned around, two paintballs hit me. One on my chest and one right in my left eye much to my discomfort. As I wiped the paint from my eye, my two hopes were dashing like the wind into smaller sections of the cave where I couldn't follow. "Wait! Take me with you!" I screamed, running after them which served to motivate their legs more, goddammit. My legs gave way when they went through the tight cracks, leaving alone to the wild yet again.

"Hey!" I turned to spot the pukei on a lower ledge. Her arms were crossed and she was tapping her foot impatiently. "Forget the skin stealers, your targets over there!" She pointed towards the slumped moron looking way more worse off then I had previously seen and had stars over his head, the natural medical sign for getting dazed. They quickly dispered on his awakening and he took a second or two to look around. He saw the reamains of his pack and looked on the verge of tears.

"My pack.. my pack! Those dirty skin stealers!" He kneeled beside a corpse and cradled it in his arms. I... I actually felt sorry for - "I just bullied them into submission a week ago dammit!" Nevermind, hated him. "Now I'm all alone again! Weak and vulnerable to the tirade of my predators even more so!" Fuck, I'll play the middle route and say I pity him.

"I'm afraid that isn't the end of your problems today." I growled with a flex of my muscles. I pity the great jagras, but that didn't mean I wasn't gonna hurt him. He nearly got me killed. Willd animal or not, dick move.

"What, come to get me back for bamboozling you?" He folded his arms and had the nerve to scoffed. "You can't get angry at me for that one. You actually believed me!" This didn't help his case so much as make me more eager to hurt him. Even after his throat was in my chcking grip "C-come on!" He croaked out. "Look at me! I'm on the lower food chain of big predators, b-barroth. Trickery, flattery, bitchery, and occasional chivalry are the o-only things that keep me alive in confrontations."

"It's mostly the third reason!" The pukei yelled from behind us. I chose to ignore her in favor of a more important question.

"You know what chivalry is?" I asked.

The great jagras managed to shrug weakly under my grip. "I heard another mon-nster use it. More importantly, please grant m-me mercy. I beg y-you!" I really shouldn't even be listening this great jagras, much less consider his pleas for mercy. But the thought of kicking some monster that was already down really didn't sit well in my stomach. I mean, that or the fruits I ate earlier.

"You're lucky." I sighed out, releasing my grip and allowing the the fang wyvernoid to fall on his ass again. "If I wasn't an empathetic gu-barroth," I corrected myself with a cringe. "You'd be mush right now. I'll spare you on one condition. "

"What?!/Really?" The pukei and jagras respectively voiced.

"Honestly tell me where the other barroths reside." I told him. Now I know what you're thinking. Why am I asking him another location? Considering his string of bad luck, my generosity, and how I doubt barroths live in his area, so I doubt he'll try to pull a sneak lie to try and get me killed.

"You don't know?" I nodded to his confusion. He looked like he wanted to comment on that but he choose against it. Wise decision there. "Well-"

"As if that beta knows about the Wildspire Desert far west of here! Fuck him up already!" She snarled. She also answered my question.

"Uh, yeah, what she said." The great jagras confirmed. "I've been to the edge actually!" He said loud enough not go qualify as a yell exactly but loud enough for her to hear too. "Hear you guys like swamps. So, you aren't gonna hurt me?" He asked fearfully.

I shook my head. "I think you've been through enough."

"Boo, why don't you mates just kiss already?! Seriously, you betas deserv-" I couldn't take her shit anymore, so I scraped some mud off of the back of my carapace and threw it at her. Hit her right in the eyes. "Aaaugh! My vision orbs! I'm blinded!" She jumped of the ledge and flapped frantically. "I'm defensively impair-gugh!" She hit the rock wall with a harsh crack and plummeted like a sack of ore in front of his. Her vulnerable rear facing us.

She was down and out cold. The great jagras next to me was looking between me and her, his question implicit. "Before you go and get you payback, I gotta ask. What's your name?"

He looked at me quizzically and cocked his head. "What's a name?"

"Don't worry about it." I sighed. "You have a hole to fill." He nodded eagerly before giving me a quick and awkward hug, then he shot off to drown his sorrow in pukei-bootay. He practically pounced on her dick first, burying his sausage right in her anus and pounded away at that bubble butt with a crazed grin, pinning her dazed form down to the ground.

Fwap, fwap, fwap, with every thrust and sticky fluids began to cover his crotch. "Grrr, fuck! I love payback!" He moaned happily, fucking away while the pukei pueki groaned, moaned, and cursed. I sighed, ignoring my growing stiffy to head out. After the failure with my communication with those hunters, I decided I'd try something else. You see, I can't talk to them, but I can write. I'm fairly certain I have enough function to read and write to civilization, so I'll do that.

Taking a little bit of the paint that hadn't dried out yet, I wrote on the cave wall fragment.

STILL HU

It dried up before I could finish, but the confirmation still reassured me. It reassured me so much, I decided to take the slab of rock with me. With it, I could confirm my former humanity. Now I couldn't just walk to the human settlement and be like bam, hold up this slap and suddenly be alright. No, I had to aIt and pick a good moment.

Still ignoing the sounds of a beta boy forcing his cock into a slightly less beta girl, I walked off.

New POV

Wowsers! When I came on this expedition to study endemic life and potentially catch a few "wigglers", this isn't what I had expected. "Did you see that Mr. Fisherman?" I whispered to him inside what I would now call our fun bush. Good thing I had my camo outfit on.

My western styled friend nodded. "How could I not?" He responded, putting his wiggler back into its confines. Guess the sudden chaos was more of a mood killer then I thought. "But did you catch a glimpse of that there barroth?"

"Mmhmm, was he... writing?" I asked, not really sure.

"Hell, even an intended scribble ould mean somethings up in that noggin. I know it's way out of our job descriptions, but I think we'd best tell the captain."

I couldn't help but gasp. "But that's out of our job zone! We can't do anything outright useful for the hunters!"

"I know darling, but we must." He said with a serious tip of his hat. "Put yer panties back on sweet cheeks. We've got serious work to attend do." I reluctantly did so. Damn, I was hoping to have two types of pets today. The wowsing will have to wait. "Never thought I'd see something so odd in my life."

"Truly, the New World is full of peculiar entities."

... that was not either of our voices. We both turned around to see a wyvernian man in a blue cloak with a insect glaive doubling as a walking stick, just standing there with his eyes where the barroth was. "You two should go and report this. I will keep track of this barroth."

"... who are you and how long have you been standing there?" I asked.

He didn't even look at me when he answered. Not sure if mysterious or rude. "Who I am now is unimportant. As for how long; know it was long enough to witness it all."

"Define long enough, pard." Piscine Fisherman clarified with a bit of edge in his tone.

The wyvernian didn't say anything. Instead, he just walked backwards into another bush and disappeared. Before he went, I think I heard him hold back a giggle.

See, now that just got me more curious.

Xavier POV

I decided to find another place to rest for tonight. I would bid my time until other hunters came out and I could display to them my human genius.

(thwack!)

Something smacked right against the back of my head and judging from the feel of the force and angle, it wasn't because of coincidence. Something or hopefully someone is either out to annoy me or seek my attention. I turned around, but saw nothng within the growing darkness of the jungle. Then I felt another pebble hit me, topside this time. I looked up to find a... a weird masked wyvernian, staring at me through a hive looking veil. I don't think he was affiliated with the fifth fleet.

"Speak, young barroth." He told me in this really unsettling voice that sounded like a ghost who died of smoking.

"You can understand me?" I managed to ask, still holding onto my slab.

"After living in these wilds for so long, I have become attuned to the ways of my distant relatives." How long has he been here? I couldn't really think about that as I felt him inspecting me. "Yes, an odd one. You can speak in complete and coherent sentences unlike most of your kind."

"Well of course I-it's becasue I'm human!" I screamed out, finally feeling like I've found salvation. Finally, a PERSON I could talk too. "Listen to me, I know this sounds crazy but I'm a human turned barroth."

"I know." He replied calmly.

I stopped speaking and stared at him. "How?"

"An elder wyvernian must maintain his secrets. For now." Not liking how my hope was being ominous. "As of now, your destiny is in the Wildspire Wastes far west of here."

"What? Do you know about me asking that great jagras that question?" He didn't respond so I continued. "No, I was just curious when I asked the guy. I'm not going to live as a freaking barroth."

"That slab of writing you carry will not be enough nor any of your efforts for now. They will capture you and study at best, hindering your needed progress." He told me in a nonchalant fashion.

"Needed progress? What the hell are you going on about?" My first conversation with a non monster and it was going downhill like an uragaan real fast.

"You would not be the first monster to have done something like this. While rare, such evidence of monsters writing isn't new to those of importance nor would it be enough. Not yet, it'll put you at risk. They are are far too riled up." They? The fleet? Was it because of me. Couldn't be. What's going on with the fleet? "You must leave the Ancient Forest. Go into the Wildspire Wastes and seek the fragments."

"Listen elder. One; this is clearly a jungle. Two; what does any of this vague nonsense mean?" I was starting to become on edge and this old dildo wasn't helping.

"Follow the plumage behind you for it will lead you to the wastes. I promise all will become clear and you will no longer be alone." My eye twitched from his lack of help and surplus of vague. I took a quick look behind me to see some red and orange feathers on the ground in the distance. I turned back around and that mysterious old dildo was gone. Goddammit, life is a tease for hope.

I sighed and decided to listen to his "instructions". As loathsome as I am to admit it, my initial idea of showing progress my humanity to hunters may not suffice, at least not the way I want it to. Now that I think about it, monsters of exceptional intelligence have done this before and still treated the same. Hunted or captured if need be. Imagine how they would react to a super smart barroth. And given how the settlers were on edge right now apparently... damn. Crazy old bastard had me worried.

To hell with it, I'll follow the plumage and go to the freaking desert. Potentially my new home at this point. Freaking sigh!