Some dragon hunters did it for gold, for glory, for adventure. Tanner was different. All he wanted was that perfect, succulent piece of dragon sirloin.
Dragon meat was the best. Succulent to the extreme, tender even when raw or practically burnt, and with a spicy aftertaste that never quite left you for the rest of the day.
Tanner knew this. He also knew that dragons were enormous, bloodthirsty creatures, and going after one for its meat alone was not only highly questionable, but practically suicidal.
But he also knew that he was the one and only dragon butcher, so none of that really mattered.
“Come on, you bastard…MOVE!”
Travelling alone up and down volcanoes, mountains and wherever else dragons decided to touch down for a little nap wasn’t always good for the psyche, and Tanner was slowly developing a habit of talking to himself. Sometimes he decided that he was talking to the dragons; after all, behind this ridiculously oversized boulder, Delior the Bonecrusher surely lurked, sleeping away for the next thousand years next to immeasurable riches…not that any of it mattered much to Tanner.
“Theeere we go!” he exclaimed, throwing the boulder down the mountainside with a HUP. “Now comes the good part…”
Tanner was a large man, wide at the shoulders and rippling with muscle, but when one gets a hunger for dragon meat, one quickly learns how to move without waking the beasts. Unconsciously preparing himself for the heavy stench of charred rock as he went, he eased inside the opening, creeping along a precarious ledge as he looked around for his delicious draconic prize.
“…aha. Got ya, you bugger.”
Delior the Bonecrusher, suited to his name, was quite the intimidating dragon. Even curled up as he was, he rivalled a small apartment complex with his enormity, and the sharp, diamond-like spikes running across his back gave a very clear warning: ‘KEEP OFF’.
But Tanner was different. He knew that dragon spikes were worth a lot of money, and not only that, but grinding them up made for an excellent seasoning for practically anything savoury.
He licked his lips.
“Ooh, this is going to be a good haul, I can feel it.”
After a few too much time wiggling across the narrow ledge, Tanner finally found what he needed; a small rockslide that provided an awkward little staircase to the chamber proper. Mindful of his heavy dragon leather boots, he tried his best to move quietly, looking much like a hairless gorilla as he scrabbled down the rock face. In fact, everything was going quite perfectly…
That is, until right at the bottom.
Delior’s piercing red eyes popped open.
At first, Delior was quick to scramble into an aggressive stance, spreading his wings out and planting his four legs deep into the earth.
But then…something strange happened. It noticed what Tanner was wearing.
Or rather, who he was wearing.
“Yeah, yeah, come on then you-”
Delior roared, but it was high-pitched, a rising crescendo, not a rumbled warning.
Delior the Bonecrusher was afraid.
Shit shit shit shit shit!
This wasn’t the first time a dragon had tried to run away, but Tanner had never expected it from a brute like Delior. After all, dragons were proud creatures, barely fearing each other, much less a petty human. But here he was, desperately flapping his wings to gain lift, tearing his head this way and that to find the quickest way to escape.
And as it turned out, this was a mistake.
Delior may have realised what Tanner was, but that didn’t mean he understood what he did. Floating in the air like a vegetable with wings, Delior never could have expected this human in dragon leather to just JUMP up to him and, even more incredulously, punch him in the face. And, well, the worst part was…
There must have been something magic in Tanner’s fist, because Delior couldn’t stop himself from plummeting back to the earth, wings unresponsive on his back. Then, before he could entertain any other idea, Tanner was on him once more, launching uppercuts, flying kicks and other ridiculous hand-to-hand moves to pin him down.
Delior snorted. As much as the attacks were piling up, they were nothing to a dragon’s breath. But even as Delior inhaled the cave air, a sound akin to a deflating balloon full of acid, Tanner grinned, and there wasn’t a moment’s hesitation as he jumped into the dragon’s mouth…
And there he was gone.
Delior couldn’t quite believe it. Had the human really just voluntarily launched himself into a dragon’s stomach? Not only that, but right when a bout of flame was on its way. It was ridiculous, idiotic, and…and…
That sure was a strange bout of stomach ache coming on.
BOOMF, BOOMF, BOOMF.
An overwhelming, searing pain ran through Delior’s entire body, forcing him into fight-or-flight mode, but there was no room for either. His wings were still remaining completely worthless, and how exactly was he going to fight something that was inside him?
There was only one choice.
Delior summoned his hottest flame, willing it not to pour forth from his maw, but to remain inside him, extinguishing the life of that despicable dragon butcher.
This was Delior’s last mistake.
Bathed in the hot green of dragon flame, Tanner flew forth from the dragon’s stomach like an overcooked missile. Turning back, he decided to examine his handiwork.
Hole in the stomach? Check.
Heavily damaged internal organs? Check.
BOOMF. Delior slumped over on the ground.
Tanner licked his lips.
“Good fight, my friend, good fight. And now…”
“It’s chow time.”