It looked like any other ordinary, uneventful day. It was the early stages of autumn, and the sun was beginning to set into the early stages of the afternoon on a clear, lightly clouded blue sky. People were running their daily errands, or finishing up their work, or milling around, or doing whatever they normally did at that time of day. Cars were honking, children were playing, and birds were chirping. Human modern-day society was operating as usual.
Only difference is, by the end of today things will no longer be as usual. By the end of today mythology will have penetrated many lives in real, tangible forms. Monsters, only supposed to exist in fairy tales, stories, and imaginations, will enter existence in the form of trophies…trophies able to manifest themselves into their full forms. And as they enter and become part of modern-day society, they will also be able to affect that society and the people that are part of it, for good or for ill.
This is the story of one such monster.
I don’t remember where everything began. My first memories consisted of me gradually gaining consciousness in a haze. A haze which I could do nothing in. I couldn’t move. There was no sound. I couldn’t make a noise. I couldn’t feel anything. I couldn’t see anything either…there was just haze and cloudiness. What a sucky way to exist.
I couldn’t do anything. So I waited.
And then I started hearing sounds. Muffled sounds. I couldn’t make any of them out, but I was hearing something, and that was a major difference in itself.
The muffled sounds continued for a while. And then, suddenly, a voice, loud and clear, pierced through the haze. A command. And thus I began to emerge and take my form.
Images started to solidify and stabilize in front of my eyes. I breathed the air in and out. My feet touched solid ground. I expanded my wings and slowly flapped them to make sure they were working. I stretched my claws outward. Then I craned my head around, now able to take in my surroundings properly. The sky and weather were nice, displaying the beauty of a cool early autumn afternoon. There was a brick-and-mortar house only several steps away in front of me, with a concrete walking path to the front door. What stood out though was the fact that this was the only house in sight. Looking around, I didn’t find any other residence in sight. Just a large lawn, and various leafy trees, with one driveway serving as the sole path leading to and away from the house.
Next I examined myself, at my purple-yellow scaly skin and wings. I seemed to be whole, not missing any appendages. That was good.
Finally, I looked down towards the human standing right in front of me. He was a light-skinned old man, with a gray mustache, gray beard, and a gray short crew cut. His clothing consisted of a light beige jacket with a red shirt underneath, a pair of jeans, and a pair of white sneakers. He wore black sunglasses which completely covered his eyes. In his left hand he held a straight cane that went from the ground all the way to his neck. All in all, aside from the sunglasses and his awed facial expression looking up at me, nothing in particular stood out from my first look.
We stared at each other in silence for a few seconds. Then I broke it.
“Master,” I addressed him while bowing my head in respect. That action just came to me as though it were natural.
The old man seemed to become even more surprised at me in response, judging from his face. His head tilted a little as he continued examining me. Then he straightened himself up and addressed me.
“Hrm…so…who are you?” he asked. His voice was a little harrowed and a little deep, and it fit well with his image as an old man. I could tell he had more questions waiting, but was restraining himself and trying to be polite.
“I am a Nidhogg drake,” I replied. My voice was noticeably deeper than the human’s. I did not know where, when, or how I learned to communicate, or even how I knew my own identity. All the vocabulary, the linguistic rules, and the language came to me as though they were naturally a part of me.
“A…drake, eh?” spoke the old man, avoiding the word he could not repeat. “Well then…why did you say ‘master’?”
“You are the one who unleashed me from my trophy, correct?” I said. As surprising as it may sound, I was learning more about myself while I was speaking. Again, all the knowledge was flowing to me naturally.
“Ohhh, yeah, that…yes, yes I guess I did. Dunno how that got here in the first place…how did you come here anyways?”
To my surprise, this time the answer didn’t come to me.
“I don’t know.”
“Huh…” The old man seemed lost in thought. I decided to finish my previous answer.
“Because you have released me, you are my master.”
Again I couldn’t come up with an answer. Was something wrong with me?
“I don’t know. I’m sorry.”
“Ehhh, don’t apologize, son,” the elderly human spoke with a suddenly lighter tone. His awed face was now replaced with a smile. “Seems we’re both confused.”
Silence resumed for a couple more seconds. Then I broke it again.
“Where is here…by the way?” I asked, trying to tune my question so that it sounded more polite and less blunt. Specific tidbits on etiquette were flowing into my mind now.
“Here,” he replied, gesturing with his right hand behind him towards the house, “is my home. Good several miles away from any others. Oh, if you mean this area, it’s called Kindorim. Dunno why the younger ‘uns decided on such a weird name, but I don’t mind, personally. We’re just outside the big city of Corpunic. Again, weird name…but times roll I s’pose. An hour’s bus ride away from here.”
The old man paused to let me take in all the new information.
“So you are the only person here?” I asked.
“Oh no, just go for a few minutes down this road and you’ll see the other—oh, you mean right here? Yeah, yeah, nice and quiet for a senior lump like me.”
“Anyways, let’s stop bein’ stooges and start doin’ a little learnin’.” He bent down and picked up what looked to be a book of some sort, opened it, and then brought it to centimeters from his face. “’Trophy Handbook’ is what this thing’s called, I guess. It came stuffed with your…trophy in the mailbox, though I swore you looked more like one of them action figures kids enjoy playin’ with. Convenient too…came with a sticky here that got you to what you are now.”
The senior human turned the book to show me. Inside the front cover was a conspicuous large yellow sticky note. Written on it in black ink was a single command…the very one that I heard while in the haze and which allowed me to take form.
“Say, could you give me a hand? Readin’s a pain for my poor eyes,” the old man beckoned. “Was lucky enough to make out what was on that sticky.”
I was about to comply when the man seemed to recall something and spoke again.
“S’pose I shouldn’t surprise you later. Yes, I’m old, but this here cane’s not just because I’m old. Ya see, I’m legally blind.”
The man took off his sunglasses with his right hand revealing his open eyes. I could see that they were uncoordinated and unfocused, not how normal human eyes should work, and making me wonder just what exactly he saw through them. Then he put the sunglasses back on, covering the eyes completely again.
“I can see a little bit of how big you are, but mostly a big blob of purple and yellow,” the senior explained. “Mm-hmm.”
I wasn’t sure how to respond to the revelation, but I was still curious about many things regarding myself. Perhaps the handbook would have answers. So I pushed my immediate thoughts out of my mind, walked over to the old man’s side, and started reading out loud for him