Chapter 1: A New Body

It's just another dull, and wet, day here in Stanburd...can't really say I enjoy it. I work my usual nine to five and head home to my small uncomfortable domain on the other side of town. I live alone, it's been this way for a while now since my parents died…

I'm in my twenties: the supposed peak of a person's life, but I live a life far from the dreams I imagined for myself long ago.

Look, I'm not asking for pity or anything, but it just feels like nothing ever works out for me...I could never afford college or even do what I always wanted to do: become a pilot. I was sometimes in the air with my parents before they died (inside of planes of course)...we'd go around the country to visit other places and what not. I dunno...there was always something about being in the sky that made me feel happier...it was like I was meant to be among the clouds. But, that was a dream that died long ago, and reality had set in for me. It seems like I'll never be a pilot now...especially since we're in the middle of a pandemic and great recession…

And so, I arrive at my apartment, which takes an hour to get back to since I use the bus to get there (again, can't afford much of anything, not even a car.) I walk up the steps and enter my apartment. Once I'm in my cramped bedroom I take off my work clothes and I collapse on my bed. I doze off for a few minutes...until I hear a strange noise coming from the entrance. I open my eyes and decide to investigate...strangely enough...I thought I heard the door open or something fall to the floor...but the door is locked and there's nothing on the floor…

Hello

My heart stops beating for a brief moment before I quickly turn around: I am met with a person hidden in the shadows of the short hallway to my bedroom. H-how did they get in!?

"W-who are-"

You know why I'm here...

I blink in confusion, "You're...here to rob me?"

Wh-what? N-no! I've come to-

"Look, I'm not interested in buying stocks from you! I've already tried doing all that and it just made things worse for me, now get out."

Enough!

Their voice suddenly rings out with a loud roar as I feel something wrap around me!

"W-what's going on!?" I am suddenly silenced as what appears to be rope ensnares me and is placed around my mouth. This is the point where I really panic, but I am helpless in my attempts to escape…

I am Notekiu and I am here to pass judgment on you for your horrible actions

The figure finally emerges from the darkness and I am surprised to find that they are unlike any person I've ever seen before. For one, they have gray skin all over...and their eyes are a mystic yellow. They are wearing what appears to be a red robe of some kind with a golden trim runming down both ends of the apparel.

W-what did I do!? What is going on here! Who is this person!?

I've thought long and hard about what to do with you. And now, having finally found you, I have decided...Antone

Antone!? That's not my name, my name's Darren...what the hell is going on!?

What happens next I can't believe with my own two eyes...a sort of swirling mass appears next to us and I am dragged in!

The ropes are gone, but I am now falling endlessly through a void until it quickly transitions into a sky that surrounds me. I am falling at high speeds and even with the blurriness I can make up clouds all around...and the ground...which quickly comes into view! I scream...I scream at the top of my lungs...but something isn't right…

I don't have time to think about it because as soon as I touch what appears to be grass I pass out…

Part I

Companionship

The next thing I remember is a ringing in my ears. I open my eyes but the world is a swirl of colors all blended together. My head is spinning...and it's throbbing in pain. I try standing up but I'm unable to. Once I do finally recover, I look around as my vision finally stabilizes. I'm...in a forest? It's not just that, but I seem to be in a forest very far away from where I live: these are sequoias...but they aren't found anywhere near Stanburd! Not only that...it's hilly and I appear to be by the sea...again these things are NOT anything Stanburd is around! My town is flat, featureless, and hundreds of miles inland!

Was I kidnapped? Who brought me here? It was that freak from my apartment wasn't it!? Speaking of which, where are they!? I'm...alone...in this creepy forest...

There appears to be mist in the air so I can't see too far away, but I do see a small pond not far away. I'm pretty thirsty, so my first instinct is to go and drink from the pond. Now: I'm a city boy...born and raised...so I don't know anything about surviving in the woods...and I have no idea where I am. It only makes sense to try and keep hydrated before venturing off to find a way out. There's only one problem though…

When I try to stand up like before it ends in failure again. Am I injured? Am I restrained by the magical ropes again? I had no idea what next was in store for me….

It's when I first noticed something about my hand...WAIT...WHAT!? WHAT IS THIS!?

My-my hand looks and feels different...like it's made entirely of something else...like...scales!? And...my fingers have...claws!? What is going on!?

It turns out that's only the beginning of my confused state as I look down at my body to meet with a new unfamiliar body that I now inhabit…

I also begin feeling something on my back now...like...arms? I have arms on my back now or something!?

I decide the most logical thing to do is to make it to the pond to see my reflection. Despite my attempts to stand up, I decide to just crawl to the pond. Once I make it there, however, my heart stops for a brief moment…

What I see visibly stuns me...my reflection is that of a monster! There's no denying it...my mouth gaped, my eyes widened...it's definitely me. Instead of pink human skin what is there instead is a layer of black scales that are present all over my body. What I had thought were arms on my back were actually large bat-like wings. I check my ears, which are now on top of my head and are triangular in shape. I raise my hands, now claws obviously as I saw them before I made it to the pond, to touch the top of my head where there are supposedly horn-like appendages now. I also notice how taller, and bigger, I am, I must have doubled in size! Most stunning of all, however, were my eyes...they're cat-like now and green...I'm unrecognizable...there's no recognition of my former self…

I let out a yell of shock...or rather...a roar as I fall on my back in terror! This is a dream...it has to be! There's no logical explanation for this, why am I this monster now! Actually...if I had known better it's more like I'm a DRAGON now!

Suddenly, I hear something hovering above me...it sounds like the flapping of wings! Maybe it's a bird or something, or could it possibly be-

I feel the earth shake as something lands right behind me. Though my movement is limited I manage to turn around, and I am met with an even more terrifying sight! It's another DRAGON! It has what appears to be metallic scales all over its body. It has a large, oddly shaped, head attached to a long neck and an even longer tail at its end. Its dilated eyes stare fiercely into mine as it growls. All I can do is lean backwards and try to crawl away from it.

Then, as if nothing else could surprise me today...it suddenly speaks in what appears to be...perfect English.

"Who are you, your scent is unfamiliar. Are you an outsider?"

"I-I don't-"

It, or rather...she since the voice is rather feminine, retorts, "Do you even know where you are?"

I shake my head to the dragon as it seems to continue to show hostility. I'm not sure why it hasn't eaten me yet or whatever dragons do...but this is so weird I rather her just finish me off already!

"You must be stupid or something...you're in Viking territory!"

Vikings!? Dragons!? So...two things have now crossed my mind: one, I'm in another world...or two...at I'm in another era...where somehow there are dragons...none of those things make much sense...

I give a muted look of confusion to her as she rolls her reptilian eyes to me, "you ARE stupid, you wouldn't last a second out here on your own, even if you are a Night Fury!"

"N-night-Fury" I ask her as she just stands there, visibly shocked and what not.

"Did you hit your head or something?" She asks.

I think to myself before I respond, "well, I did fall from the sky...I think..."

She continues standing there as her tail flinches behind her, "your injury must be serious if you did fall on your head…"

"What's a Night Fury?"

"It's what you are, dummy" she retorts as I cringe from her shouting. The lizard just shakes her head in embarrassment apparently, "the queen doesn't like outsiders...actually..." she thinks to herself, scratching her muzzle-chin with a claw, "...I think the queen would take pity on a dragon like yourself. We could use someone like you for our raids..."

"What are you talking about" I say, still lost as ever as to what is happening. Queen, raids...it's all overwhelming to say the least…

"If you follow me, there is a place we can rest until you feel better. Maybe if you like, you can join our hive," She turns around and prepares to take off by widening her wings, "come on"

I don't do anything and she looks back, apparently annoyed, "well!?"

"I-uh...can't really walk right now..."

She smacks her paw against her face, "Ugh!"

And so, I spent the next few minutes learning how to walk in this form, namely on all fours. Once I get the hang of it, it's easy. Now, there was another problem…

"What now" the dragoness groans impatiently and annoyed.

"I-uh...can't fly..." I mutter softly to her.

"Man...you really DID hit your head hard...if you can't fly you're a goner...alright then...I'll help you, but this will be the last thing I do for you, and then I'm leaving with or without you!"

The female dragon gives me a crash course on flying. I simply try to think of it like flying an airplane except I'd actually be flapping my newly acquired wings like a bird. I think all those books I read on flight are going to pay off today. I try again and again from small hills as I improve. Once I'm confident in my abilities we make it to a cliff where I find myself confronted by the edge leading to a sharp drop towards the bottom of the sea…

She can tell I'm scared and surprisingly enough she reassures me, "you'll be fine...just breath in and let your instincts guide you."

This seems like a sudden 180 on her part, but I ultimately listen. I gulp before realizing this probably needs to be done. I won't know how to survive on my own like this and this dragon can surely help me...at least until I can figure out everything going on and get out of this mess.

Heck, maybe if I fall again it'll wake me up! Oh well, here goes nothing!

I extend my wings and leap off the steep cliff. Immediately afterwards I flap both of my appendages and I begin to climb higher in the sky! It then suddenly dawns upon me: I'm flying...I'm flying! Once I high enough, I figure I would stop and glide for a while.

At first I'm pretty unstable but I manage to get used to the mechanics pretty fast. As a result, I get ahead of myself: allowing myself to fully give in to the unique experience I'm having. I climb and climb until I pass the layer of clouds blocking out the sun.

I roar happily at the top of my lungs, "Yea! This is amazing! Definitely beats being in a plane or flying one!"

I then sense the other dragon making its way to my side, she is quite relieved that we have left the forest behind.

"Being in a what? You know...you're kind of weird."

I turn my head toward her and ask, "not to be any weirder, but I never got your name"

"Friea," she introduces herself for the first time, "and yours?"

"It's...it's...uh" I shake my head in mid air as I try to remember and she just silently judges me.

What the hell!? How did I forget my name...something like that you should never, NEVER, forget! I mostly remember everything else from my life before all this but why not my name?

"Well this is awkward..."

"And you're still a weirdo" she retorts, laughing to herself, seemingly amused by this, "I'll just call you Sheep-Brain then."

"No, wait, it'll come to me, hold on..." I try to think harder but she flies ahead as to lead me:

"Just focus on flying for now and follow me."

I do as she says and it isn't long before we make it to a wall of clouds extended several dozen miles along the vast ocean. She leads me into it and we both disappear in a dense, and seemingly endless, fog. After a few minutes of navigating us through the area, I suddenly feel something jolt my brain. My eyes shrink: becoming as sharp as a cats as I feel something whispering to me in my mind...it's putting thoughts into my head...s-stop! What's going on! I turn to see the same thing happening to the female next to me: it's like she is being instructed where to go now and I am the same way!

We are led deeper into the mist as we come across many strange rock formations. My flight skills have also been enhanced and I traverse the obstacles with relative ease.

Finally, we reach the end of the mist and are welcomed by an unholy sight: it appears to be a tall and active volcano! From what I can see: there are dozens of other dragon species coming in and out of the volcano like a bee hive and its drones. We enter through a narrow passageway and are met with a very dense red fog and hundreds, if not thousands, of dragons of varying species consisting of all shapes and sizes. We land on a rocky platform high above the "ground" as I look around worryingly, my "free will" finally returning to me.

"What is this place" I whisper to her as Friea turns, whispering back, "this is the hive."

Suddenly, a very large, and I mean very large beast ascends from the clouds below and actually devours some dragons flying above it! I immediately yell in shock as I jump back- ultimately falling on my back. This catches the attention of the large behemoth. Even being hundreds of feet in the air it is able to remain on the "ground" without flying thanks to its enormous size. The dragoness next to me moves away but not before I hear her say, "it's been nice knowing you."

"H-hey, wait" I shout for her before I feel the gargantuan lizard, or their queen, breathing down on me. She narrows her large eyes to me as she stares me down hard. The queen doesn't speak like Friea but instead I hear that same foreign voice from before ringing throughout my mind as if she's speaking to me telepathically!

I clutch my head as it invades my thoughts.

"H-help you...keep me safe? Steal food? Okay, okay...please just stop already!"

I shout with excruciating pain before the queen stops her telepathic link.

"I'll do it...I'll...prove myself to you..." I slump toward the floor, weakened by the experience. The monster slithers back into the red fog she came from as I'm left by myself. Dragons all around me watch as I recover from my encounter. Friea walks up to me, quite concerned now as the other creatures above and below us gossip among themselves. The silver/metal dragon helps me up as she asks, "my guess is you're here to stay? What exactly did she say?"

Though weak, I say, "a mouthful."

...

Some time passes by. I wake up with a jolt, looking around, quite scared! Where am I!? Oh...I'm still here...still in this body…

I lay my head back down again and give a hefty sigh. What am I going to do? I guess sleeping isn't going to make me wake up in the real world. Suddenly, my stomach growls as I feel some pain in my belly. I groan as a result and I realize that I actually haven't eaten anything since arriving in this world. It is then I hear something landing not too far from me. I look and see that it's Friea with some food in her hand...or paw rather.

"I brought dinner" she says as she hands me a full serving of fish. I grab it with my large paws and immediately notice something: it's not cooked! The fish...it's still raw!

Now, I've had my fair share of raw fish in my life: sushi for example, but this is a fully unprepared, caught from the wild, fish! Like what if this thing has bacteria or something, or whatever...I doubt anyone has medicine around here…

I watch her devour hers whole, licking her muzzle afterwards in satisfaction. When she's done she gives a look of confusion to me, "what's wrong? Why aren't you eating? You need to keep your strength up for tomorrow morning."

"Why, what's tomorrow" I ask.

"Your first raid" she answers quite non-nonchalantly.

"Oh...ah...just give me a moment" I say softly as she rolls her draconian eyes.

I look down toward the dead fish on my paw...we'll...bottoms up! Then, with no explanation, my teeth suddenly appear and I devour the creature in a single bite. At that same moment: something miraculous happens...my taste buds accept the slimy and uncooked fish with absolute delight. As a result of this I smile contently. Dang...that wasn't half bad, I guess since I'm a dragon now I can eat and enjoy stuff like this much more.

"There you go" Friea mutters as she tiredly lays her head to rest, "so, do you remember your name yet" she asks with her eyes still closed.

"No, sadly...not yet."

"Oh man...I'll just call you SheepBrain until you remember."

"Whatever..." I growl back as she chuckles herself to sleep. I try to follow like the rest of the idle dragons all around me, but I'm unable to, so I just think quietly to myself about what exactly will go on tomorrow.

Raid? What are we raiding exactly? I guess I'll have to find out the hard way tomorrow. I'll have to just do it...I have nowhere else to go and nothing else to do...I have no leads and no knowledge of the mysterious man who brought me here...so I guess I'll just have to stay by Friea's side until then. I just hope I can get out of this world soon…

Phew, that was a lot to write for a first chapter! I hope you all enjoyed! More to come soon! Please leave a review and let me know how it is so far!