Red Dragon

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The Dragon's Court

They left Lilith’s office. All three of them... Francis would have preferred it was only Johnny and him, but when did that ever matter? Of course Lilith followed them. Of course, she needed to be by her hubby, like a craw up his ass, at every single step of the way... Was she his wife or his mom? Mommy wife? Even that fell apart, though. That would depend entirely on if she acted like a mom. Instead, the way she gawked after his ass reminded him more of a lovelorn teen that is far past exhausted of their own hand and is now more than happy to settle for even the lowest of gutter skanks. Oh, but because they were married there was a hint of sincerity behind that haughty, glazed stare.

Whatever. Let her stare. As long as she didn’t talk and simply left them to walk to the third floor in peace, he could only be slightly irritated with her presence... How could she act so... lackadaisical? How could she seem so carefree! Sure, the school appeared fine, but it was because of her actions that they were so deep in the red it was crimson. In the span of a couple months, at that! It was around the end of June, into July. Francis only lived with Eve for three months, but that was enough to see the shift, to see the pain it caused Eve. Before, she would only be on her phone an hour, at most, but after the Incident, she was glued to it. That was when she started to take him down with her, and he could see the chaos it caused. The destroyed vats, the burnt laps; damages that equaled billions, setbacks that meant decades. All because that bitch couldn’t do her job- and he knew they could read his mind. They knew this was all going through his head, knew his animosity towards that bitch YET SHE STILL FOLLOWED ANYWAYS.

Both of them winced, stopping at the doorway halfway down the left hall on the third floor... but tried to play it off. Lilith eased her way into Johnny’s arms, embracing him, kissing him for far too long- then quickly broke the kiss because he thought it was too long- then gave ANOTHER kiss-

“Will you just go?” Francis exclaimed, pinching his brow. “Jesus. It’s never good enough for you mind-readers.”

“You would be surprised,” Lilith said, rubbing Johnny’s cheek. “It took him close to a year to realize I was reading his mind.”

“Yeah,” Johnny said, drawling it out as he rubbed her shoulders. “Would have made my life a lot easier if she told me, but, you know...”

She tittered, sticking out her tongue. “Where was the fun in that... I’ll let you two go to class now. Play nice with the others.”

“I make no promises,” Francis said.

“I was talking to my love.”

“Um... what he said,” Johnny said, chuckling as she gently slapped his cheek. But kissed it after, making it a-okay. She let him go -though was apprehensive- and headed back down the hall, her flat slips padding away. Johnny stared after her, which that familiar feeling crept over Francis now that it was the two of them... and a bit of regret slipped in, as well. He still didn’t know why, but what he did know was that he was happy it was only Johnny and him now. Her padding finally faded, and he shook his head, smirking at Francis. “Anyways, you ready to go meet the other fresh meat?”

“Sure. I’m up for a bit of exercise.”

Johnny barked a single laugh, then turned to the door, opening it and cutting the soft murmurs inside off at the same time. He strode in and behind the long, plain desk at the front of the class. There was enough of a walkway between him and a whiteboard, already covered in so many notes, matching the other three that lined the entirety of the class, along with a projector placed dead center of all of them, with a swinging arm to turn. There were twelve booths aside, each one housing two chairs. One chair was forgotten, though, in each of the first six, with the tables occupied by Francis’... “colleagues”.

The first, the closest to the door, was housed by a fanger. Because of course it was. Not only that, it was the ugliest, most try-hard fanger Francis ever set his eyes on. He wore a blue tank top, showing off his skeletal frame, but somehow, even then, there was enough meat and skin on that pale body for an artist to make a scroll of text down his left arm. It appeared to be written in Latin, adding to the pretentiousness of it, and ended with the yellowed scroll burning around his wrist –where, no doubt, there would be innumerable razor cuts. His right arm was spared some decency, but still had a dove, with a wash of white feathers, flowing after as it ascended to his shoulder. Because he wore such a strong, empowering bit of clothing, he could see where he was Bit, where he was Changed, right above his left shoulder. He didn’t know much about Fang procedures, but Francis couldn’t help but feel that the fanger even had that embellished. What Fang leaves a giant, swirling black hole as a bite mark?

And this was all before he gave any attention to his head. Because he didn’t want to die laughing before he even was introduced. The rest of him might have made a skeleton jealous of their weight, but his head made little gray men mortified. It was barely more than a thumb, as if somebody painted their thumb pale, pasty white, drew on round, red eyes, added a bit of hair on top to show it had been shaved, then gave pencil-thin lips. Oh, but he tried to add some “definition”; gauges in the earlobes, four rings along the top, a lower lip piercing, two “eyebrow” piercings, and sclera dying was all definition, right? Oh... Francis knew that he was going to have a fun couple of years all because of that try-hard... but what about the other meat?

In the second booth, in the center of the front row... was a bucket. A bucket of bright, blue jelly... There wasn’t much more Francis could say about that at the moment, so what was in booth three- a shade that was missing its casting call for a remake of Lord of the Rings? Why not? It wasn’t spiky enough to be the Dark Lord, but nothing a bit of make-up couldn’t fix. Maybe get a few LEDs to cover up its purple eyes for red... Which, as much as he wanted to joke off, the way they were... staring at him- Behind that was a centaur. At least, the shape of one if expanded. Like, really expanded... How did a centaur gain weight? Francis never gave it thought before, but it was a good question. How could a centaur get so morbidly fat? Well, he didn’t know, but it was right there, looking down at a deck of cards –because of course it was... With squared, unfitted glasses and all.

The fifth booth, behind the bucket, was the most normal looking person out of the entire class and it wasn’t even close to being human. Their skin was covered in soft blue scales, almost white on their exposed front. Their tail drooped on the booth behind, swirling with that white scale all the way to the tapered, spear-like tip. They looked at Francis with such coldness, studying him over as he scrutinized back, those fiery, amber eyes unblinking in that snake-like head. Their head was spade-shaped, and their teeth could be kept inside their mouth, making it seem as though they had dots of white scale around their maw... This was the first time Francis ever saw a lizan in person, and he must admit: They were freakin’ cool.

The sixth, the last of his lovely little crew, the ones who shall endure with him, that shall be by his side and will help push each other through for the next two years... was already asleep. He didn’t even stir as Francis shut the door, hard, letting it ring through the class. His face was buried in his cream-tipped tail, matching the fluff on his pointed ears and at the end of his fingers while the rest of him had a smooth chocolate coat. In fact, one could surmise he was dead until Francis stomped over and pinched his pointy nose closed. The kitsune snorted, thrice, and finally let his tail go, that fluffy length bristling as he exclaimed, shooting up. He had bright blue eyes, burning bright as he growled at Francis... before realizing who, and what, he was. His bore teeth, rows of sharp canines, were hidden behind his muzzle again as he blinked, looking around.

“Oh. Oops,” he said. His voice was soft, but had a fire behind it, as if it wanted to burn but knew it needed to remain reined in. He chuckled, scritching his head, his ears still twitching. “I guess I really should have had that fifth pot of coffee, huh? Heh... a... are you going to let go of my nose?”

“I thought about it,” Francis grumbled, but even then it took him a moment more before letting that furry’s nose go. The whiskers at the end of that muzzle twitched more than its tail, but he was forgotten as Francis went back to the front of the room, standing with Johnny. It felt like the right thing to do.

“All right, class,” Johnny said. “Welcome back for week two of Hell. I hope you are all well rested, have a nice full belly, got your life in order, because it can only get worse from here.”

“One helluva way to look at it,” Francis said. “Gives me so much confidence in your teaching ability.”

“Me, too.” The class laughed. Even Francis snorted... Johnny cleared his throat. “Anyways, this is our black sheep. He skipped an entire week-”

“Lucky!” The centaur called out, and even his voice was fat. How did air feel so thick and greasy?

“He is indeed, but now he’s back. Class, this is Francis Conner. Or you can call him Junior. Is that alright with you?”

“More than fine,” Francis said, and growled. “Just don’t ever... EVER call me Frank. EVER!”

“Junior is fine... Let’s start with the front and go right-to-left then repeat in the next few rows.”

“Obviously,” the centaur said, and looked so... proud as he ran his hands through his long, long black hair. It went all the way down to the fat on his horse’s hind, which even the tail must have given up on since it looked like a toothbrush on that fat, ebon ass. “It’s only right that I go first. I’m Ben-”

“Ben Dover?” Francis cut in. “Looks like you haven’t done that in a long time.”

“Wow, you must be psychic. That is my name.”

“You’re kidding.”

“Nope. I am Ben Archibald Dover. That’s right; I’m BAD, I’m BAD! Come on.”

As much as Francis hated himself for it... Ben did a good impression of the singer. The parody of the song fit him far better, though there wasn’t time to rest on it as the bucket in the next booth shuddered. The blue liquid rose from inside, showing to have a spot of pink... then a lot of pink as it pulsed through its form, congealing into something that looked himanoid.

“I’m Olen,” the slime said. “It’s nice to meet you.”

“Don’t you lie to me,” Francis said. “You all saw what happened last Monday. Especially pinhead there.”

“Who?”

“The next victim to have to tell me their name. Don’t even bother; I won’t ever call you by it. It’ll be a mix of Pinhead, Cletus, Skinhead, Grand Dragon, or simply Fucking Fanger.”

“That’s a lot of variety,” the Fang said, his voice... deeper than Francis anticipated. It actually quaked his feet, rumbling through that room. “I can assure you I’m not worth that much effort. My name is Carl; that’s enough of an insult.”

“Huh... can’t really argue with that. Who names their kids Carl?”

“Good question. I don’t know.”

“That’s way too much baggage, and I don’t have enough fucks to give. How about you, Lord Gothica. What’s your story?”

“I am Mordred,” the shade said.

“Of course you are. Say, do us all a favor and have less edge than the one you came from. How did the loser die, anyways? Couldn’t handle the weight of following the king’s orders and living a live of luxury so he fell on his own sword?” The shade didn’t answer. It simply kept staring at him, with those smoldering purple eyes- and Francis, again, didn’t have a fuck to give. He did have one for the lizan, though, whom was next. “What’s your name, sexy thing?”

The lizan blinked. “A... are you talking about me?”

“I could be talking to myself, but I don’t see a mirror anywhere aside in those bright, orange, gleaming, beautiful gems you call eyes.”

The lizan groaned, rubbing the top of his head.

“Not this again... I’m not gay.”

“Neither am I, but I know sexy when I see it. I should know: I have to endure it every morning in the bathroom. The pains of us beautiful people. Am I right?”

“I suppose... Deren. In your tongue, I am Deren Kidd-”

“As in William Kidd?”

“I do have some heritage from that bloodline, yes-”

“Holy shit! We have an ancestor of Blackbeard in here! You just went from a 9 to a 10, my friend, and are the most interesting person in this room.”

“I beg to differ,” Ben said, waving his deck. “I’ll have you know I topped nine of my region’s tournament brackets... With the same deck! You have any idea how hard that is? I was also valedictorian at my high school-”

“You mean home school?”

“Wow, I shouldn’t even try. You really are psychic.”

“No, you just have ‘sheltered mommy’s boy’ written all over you. By the way, beating your mommy and daddy three times each doesn’t make you a super star. $100 says I can outplay you.”

“You play too!”

Francis smacked his head. “Dammit. Why did I let that slip?”

“Uh, excuse me,” the kitsune said. “I haven’t had a chance to introduce myself.”

“The right question to ask is do I care,” Francis blurted. “Does anyone care? You do know nobody likes furries, right?”

“Yet you’re the one lusting after a cat,” Johnny mumbled, low enough for only Francis to hear.

“Shut it.” He growled... but shook his head. “Fine. Introduce yourself, Sonic bait.”

“How did you know that was my favorite platformer series?”

“I don’t even know what that is, but whenever furries are brought up it’s always that series with it.” It was a lie; his homies once upon a time had a Sega. Though he never got far, Francis remembered chilling in the crib and blasting through at fast speeds. It was always a wonderful distraction before he was sent out again with a fresh supply of the drugs.

“My name is-”

“Wait. Let me guess: Oliver.”

“No.”

“Felix.”

“No.”

“Phineas. Filo. Milo. Martin.”

“No.”

“Miles. Andrew. Ron-”

“I am Groot,” the centaur cut in.

“No one cares, Ben!”

“I am dread incarnate, despair given life,” Mordred added.

“Not you, too-”

“I am delicious,” Olen blurted.

“OH COME O- wait. Really?”

“Go ahead.”

“You know... I always wondered if slime people were edible.” Francis clomped over to the table, and stuck a single claw into the bucket, scooping out a sliver. He looked at it, watched as it jiggled and shivered on his finger... then, with one, quick motion, shoved it into his mouth- “Wow! You are delicious. You taste exactly like blueberry with a hint of raspberry.”

“Hah! Gay.”

“You offered!”

“And I didn’t expect you to do it! If I offered you to suck my dick, would you?”

“Would you!”

“Can we just get this introduction out of the way already!” Captain Kidd boomed. “I would like to begin today’s lesson.”

“You do realize where we are, don’t you? We’re in a school; this isn’t a place to learn. If you want that, go to a library.”

“That’s not very nice,” Johnny said. “I think I’m at least a mediocre professor.”

“You’re actually quite good at your job,” Carl stated.

“Thank you.”

“Ass kisser,” Francis muttered... and growled as he looked back at the furry again. “Finally settled on a name yet for your fursona!”

“Wait. Did you think I was trying to make one up on the spot?” The kitsune said... then laughed. And laughed. “You are just too much, Frank-”

All laughter was gone as Francis slammed his hands down on that furry’s desk. Flames roiled from his maw, his fans fully extended, eyes burning as he glared into that kitsune’s gaze.

“Don’t. Ever. Call me that.”

“Aww... did I get under the big dragon’s skin?” The kitsune said, and fluttered his tail against Francis’ nose. “Don’t make me have to tickle you.”

“Name. Now. Before I make you into a lovely scarf. It’ll go great with my muumuu.”

“... What?”

“Name!”

“Oh fine. I’m Lucas.”

“Lucas? I would have never guessed that.”

“It’s not a very popular name, but it fits me better than my middle name: Jordon.”

“Great!” Johnny said, clapping his hands. “Now that the introductions are out of the way, why don’t you pick a seat, Junior? As you can see, you are spoiled for choice.”

“We all know he’s going to sit in the back,” Ben said, fat chuckling. “He screams the stereotypical ‘bad boy’.”

“Jokes on you, then,” Francis said, clomping back to the front... and sitting with Carl. “I’m going to be sitting with my bestest of buddies. Aren’t we going to have a splendiforous year, new best buddy?”

He nudged Carl’s shoulder... With his fist. Hard. He chortled, watching the Fang pick himself up off the floor and take his seat again- just to be shoved down again. Indeed, it was going to be a splendid year... Though... he wondered what kinds of snacks he could bring. What could be paired well with a blueberry-raspberry spread...

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