Sometime later the mound of Goblin bodies had been stripped and laid out in two long rows. Twenty two bodies in total, including the three Goblins who had attacked him first. He had made Opal climb down and drag them up into the camp one by one. At the end was the crown of the spread, the large muscled Goblin which Rain had found away from the rest where it had apparently fallen on a tent and bled to death, which wasn’t surprising considering its jaw had been ripped clean off.
“You can turn away if you want.”
Opal tilted her head. She was sat by the fire, a certain witch spitted over it and slowly roasting.
“No, I want to see.”
Rain shrugged. “Suit yourself.”
He snatched up the nearest body and laid into it, blood fountaining around his teeth as he took great bites. It didn't take him long, his teeth were strong enough to crush bone to fragments simplifying the matter of eating a once living thing greatly. By the end all that was left was a few bones and a skull.
Rain let out a contented sigh.
“Regretting your choice to watch Goblin girl?”
Opal stared at his stomach. “....”
Rain raised an eyebrow but moved onto the next making quick and bloody work of it. He belched as he sat back.
“Are you going to keep going? Surely you can't eat anymore?”
Rain rested a paw on his belly as it growled, then abruptly it began to shrink. Mass disappeared below his paw and he let out a grunt as the feeling of his bones elongating and thickening washed over him. He curled his toes and stretched his digits out enjoying the addictive sensation.
He turned his head to see Opal with her mouth hanging open.
“I thought I was seeing things at the great lake but you really do digest that fast.”
Rain smirked. “Well if I didn't I’d be here for weeks eating all of these Goblins.”
He rolled over and moved onto the next Goblin, quickly grinding his way through it, and then the next, then a pause to digest, then the next and so on.
It was when he was nearly halfway through the group that Opal piped up again.
“H-hey, what’s going on. Are you…. Are you bigger?”
Rain finished stuffing a limb down his throat and turned to her.
“You didn't think I was just eating for fun, did you? I eat, I get bigger. I won’t feel safe taking on levelers or bigger monsters unless I do, Goblins are one thing but they aren't exactly heavyweights.”
“You want to take on levelers?” Said Opal wide-eyed.
“That’s-! Do you even know how strong they are!? I’ve seen a leveler behead a bear in one blow!”
“I know. And that's not even close to what the top leveled can do.”
“You’re crazy. My tribe would only take on levelers if they were seen struggling with really weak monsters and even that was considered incredibly risky.”
“I guess I’ll need to get strong then.”
Opal scowled at him.
“Hey I’m not planning on just marching right up to the first leveler I see, I’m not stupid. This is a dungeon right? Obviously any levelers that come in here are going to be fighting monsters at some point. I figure there couldn't be a better time to lay an ambush than while they are distracted fighting. I just have to sneak up behind and get them in the neck or back.”
“Hmpph. Madness. You don't know this dungeon.”
“Actually you’re right I don't, so hey, there's something you can do instead of just ‘carrying stuff’.”
She grumbled but turned back to the fire and poked at the slowly cooking witch.
Rain continued making his way through the line of bodies. By the end he was pushing himself and managing nearly two Goblins before having to pause to digest.
At last, he came to the end of the line and he found himself facing the big Goblin.
He eyed the horrendous scarring that covered the Goblin, clear signs of long term abusive mutilation. “You really weren’t treated well, big guy. I suppose that lines up with Opal’s story about life in a Goblin tribe… Well, I hope I killed the one who did this to you at least. Now you’ll live on as part of me, maybe, I don't know if it works that way… probably not...”
Avoiding the lifeless gaze of the Goblin Rain started on his arms. The Goblin wasn't just taller than most Goblins but also broader, with fingers like sausages, something that Rain found he appreciated as he ate. What few sausages he had managed to get his hands on in his past life were rarely appetising, often they had a sheen of rot and he had made himself sick more than once trying to eat them. Not that he had a lot of choice, it was either risk it or starve. Those who would feed him were few and far between, most often charity came from out of towners who didn't know his story, and least often from locals. Those with a lot of levels and wealth were least giving of all, either afraid of the town ranker’s wrath or just uncaring. He held a petty grudge in his heart for that type of person. The way things worked tended to favour those who had connections and wealth and as power and wealth are wont to do it did not create particularly pleasant people.
He tore free a bicep and began devouring it.
I’m not the one to change things as much as I hate how things are. He mused while chewing. I’m just a bitter survivor who’s become a dangerous monster with a need for revenge... and to eat.
His mind drifted to fantasies of finding Brax and Myra and making them suffer for what they did. As he mentally played out his bloody revenge he tore into the Goblin all the faster, shredding it with his teeth, mincing bone with as much ease as muscle. He ripped it’s heart free and bit into it causing blood to explode out the sides of his muzzle. Skull cracked and brains scooped, organs gobbled and ears chewed.
By the end of it he was laughing, just think of what he would do to them! He forced down the last bit of Goblin meat, greedily gulping it down.
“H-hey. Are you okay?”
“What?” said Rain. “Of course I’m okay, I feel great!”
Rain blinked and realised it was true. He quickly wiped at his eyes and looked away.
“It’s nothing. Just some dust in my eye.”
Rain ignored her and settled a paw on his distended stomach as it began to digest. It didn’t take long before it efficiently began to break down what he’d eaten, growling and gurgling in the process. He groaned as waves of growth washed over him, this was a big one and he felt his joints popping as they surged. He cracked his jaw and paws in satisfaction as his now larger body settled into its new size and his stomach returned to being flat and toned.
He climbed to his feet and found Opal staring up at him. She had to look up quite a bit further than before. The top of her head used to come up to his jaw, now it was about level with his clavicle. He’d grown a good five or six inches he judged, more than when he had eaten the giant toads. Not surprising he mused considering he’d just eaten half a tribe of Goblins.
“Big.” said Opal.
Rain scratched his chin. “Yes. Still hungry though.”
“I can fish.”
“I can fish a little.”
“Well that works out because I need to wash all this blood off me anyway.”
Rain towed the Goblin girl away from the pile of bones. He paused on the way, noticing that she’d only eaten part of the witch. Not willing to let a meal go he grabbed the spit from the fire and walked and ate.
Opal disappeared inside a tent for a moment and came back out carrying a fishing rod over her shoulder.
“Fish.” she said.
The unusual pair made their way back to the small lake where he made Opal strip again. She complained loudly as he spun her around checking for weapons. Satisfied she hadn't smuggled anything from the dead Goblins, he let the blushing Goblin clothe herself.
Rain lowered himself into the water with a sigh. He found washing wet blood off was trivial compared to matted dried blood and he was soon clean and glossy furred once more.
Opal sat and set up her fishing rod on a large protruding boulder in the shallows. She deftly tied a length of twine to the fishing rod's tip and then a lure at the other end to which she attached a severed toe from the witch. With a flick of the rod the lure sailed out into the centre of the pool where it gently bobbed up and down. She settled herself cross-legged and got ready to wait.
Rain lazed in the water letting the cavern's crystal light wash over him. He sighed.
“Do you think the rest of your tribe, the part that escaped, will return to this cavern?”
“Mmm, doubtful, this is far from the only cave like this and without any top Gobbos they won't have the guts to come in case you are still here. Most Gobbos fear their own shadow if they don't have someone to boss them around.”
“Is that why you came to me?”
She snorted. “No, I wanted a better life and I think you can get me it.”
“Mhmm.” replied Rain floating in the water with his eyes half closed. “Just so you know I’m not sure I can. My goals don’t exactly coincide with ‘a better life’. Mostly they consist of revenge and killing.”
“Revenge against anything bigger than you is not worth it. Gobbo life lesson.”
“The ones who I want revenge on are certainly bigger than me. Well, that's only scratching the surface. They have levels, magic, I’m just a monster and have neither… Having second thoughts about being around me?”
The lure in the middle of the pool began to wobble and Opal took notice.
“Well, I figure it’s like you said, I just gotta make sure you’re bigger than they are.”
The lure plopped below the water and the twine zipped taught. Opal braced herself on the rock, leaning heavily back with both heels dug into a crack in the stone. She was immediately yanked off the rock with a yelp and crashed into the water with a splash. Rain blinked and then struck out toward her in alarm as she was towed away. He grabbed her ankle and heaved backwards, but he didn't make much headway as his feet slipped on the sandy lakebed.
“You’ve gotta let it go!”
“Blub blub blub.”
He managed to tow her toward himself a little and got his paws wrapped around the fishing rod. He leaned into it and drove his feet across the lakebed again and again until great sandy drifts flowed in his wake. After a minute of thrashing against the sand the shore started to near and footing became more stable as the water level dropped. He strode free one slow step at a time towing the rod behind him. Water sheeted from his fur as he made it onto dry land. Behind, a shadowy shape below the water jerked back and forth, occasionally breaking the surface and revealing a scaled form.
Rain didn't relent and began tugging and pulling until the monster was in the shallows and then up onto the shore. It was a gigantic fish, twice the size of Rain.
“Quickly! Kill it!” said Opal spitting water from where she had crawled onto the beach.
Rain moved left and right unsure how to approach the thing as it violently thrashed around out of water.
“Use a rock you dumb dog!”
Rain shot her an annoyed glare but scooped up a stone the size of his head and rushed the fish. He brought it down on its head with a fleshy crunch. The fish opened its mouth and began screaming to Rain’s distress. He brought the rock down again and again and again until the fish let out a wet gurgle and flopped down limp.
Breathing hard he eyed the fish assuring himself it was actually dead.
Opal patted the fish's side.
“Sometimes the tribe gets fish.”
“Oh. That's a bit bigger than I expected.”
Rain’s stomach growled and he licked his teeth.
Opal rolled her eyes and gestured at it. “Well get on with it.” She found a comfortable spot to watch as Rain let his instinct take over and he leapt on top of the fish and buried his maw in its side eating scale and all. He worked back and forth, stripping the fish down to the bone from the top.
He had to stop about halfway through to rest, his stretched taut stomach as big as a beach ball. He belched loudly.
“I think fish is my new favourite. Gods It tastes so fucking good. Second place is toad, third place is Goblin, well, Goblin in third as long as I don't try too hard to smell what I’m eating.”
Opal scoffed but wandered over to where he sat. She hesitated then placed a small hand on his bulging stomach. It growled and trembled and then began to gradually shrink. Opal watched hungrily as he stretched his limbs, his bones popping as he grew half an inch taller.
“You like watching me grow?”
“N-no, it’s just strange.”
She withdrew her hand from his flat stomach as Rain examined his larger body.
“Uhnf. I can never get enough of that,” said Rain.
His eyes slid back to the rest of the fish, already he was beginning to drool. He crawled into the mess he had made and continued ripping and tearing at it, hungrily gulping more and more of the fish down. He made quick work of it devouring it down to the ground until there was nothing left.
He felt a pressure on his stomach and realised Opal was leaning on him.
She only whimpered in reply as his stomach began to recede beneath her until she was resting on his toned abdomen and feeling his body shift and grow beneath her touch. She seemed to realize what she was doing all of a sudden and glanced up at him in horror. She scrambled off of him blushing furiously and breathing harder than normal.
She ran away, snatching up the fishing pole and rushing back to the rock where she turned her back to him.
He grumbled about personal space but decided to let it lie. He waded back into the water to rid himself of the awful fishy smell which to his annoyance seemed to cover him from tip to toe. Not surprising, but he was definitely considering knocking fish down the ranking for it.
A few hours went by without the lure dipping below the water again and Rain's paw pads were starting to get wrinkly, he flopped on a big flat stone on the shore to dry off.
“Hey, do you think that was the only fish?”
Opal hunched her shoulders, hesitated, and then turned to him.
“I think there were more, but… well the fish around here aren't stupid and the pool leads to other pools underground so they don't have to stay. When we fished as a tribe it was rare we caught more than one big fish before having to wait. Sometimes that took days.”
Opal sighed then threw the rod down. “Yes. Fuck fishing. I’ve got another idea.”
She leapt onto the shore from the rock and beckoned him to follow. He climbed to his feet and wandered after her.