Jeffry’s stomach grumbled. He didn’t quite know what had recently been going on, but he did regret eating that red butterfly that had landed on his nose just a few days ago. Ever since then, nothing had seemed quite right. James had disappeared and turned into the next-door neighbor who smelled suspiciously of sheep. Normally, Jeffry would have assumed that James had simply left, but old James had done something very confusing. Before transforming, old James had pointed at new James and ordered, “He is now Master James. Follow him, okay, Jeffry?” Jeffry had taken this to mean two things: that he should follow new James’s orders and that new James was actually just old James in disguise.
Thus, Jeffry would never dare to take the tiniest of bites out of this new James. Humans could get very aggressive about losing even small amounts of flesh. Shuddering, Jeffry remembered the one- and only-time old James had truly screamed at him when he had bitten James’s thumb back when he’d been just a chick out of the egg. Thinking of sheep, Jeffry licked his lips; he was very hungry. He longingly gazed at the small white fluff balls roaming about the field new James had left him in. While they looked tasty, Jeffry treated these sheep like his pets. No matter how tasty a dog was, you just didn’t eat it.
That was something Jeffry’s new thoughts had told him: that these sheep were pets meant to be guarded rather than eaten. Somehow, he also knew that if he brought back wolf corpses, he’d be rewarded with something much better than a sheep. However, Jeffry felt a bit suspicious of these emerging thoughts because he strongly suspected that new James had something to do with them. Nevertheless, he wasn’t sure because there was that confounding effect from eating that butterfly. There were a lot of things he’d never even thought of before he’d eaten that butterfly that had foolishly landed on his nose. Actually, if he really focused on that hazy time before he had eaten that butterfly, he could only remember a few things like eating, following James’s orders, and sleeping.
Jeffry thoughtfully hummed while watching over his pets. One of the white fur balls with extra big horns came over and licked his leg. Snorting a puff of fire, he sent it scampering away. That was another thing that had changed; once, that would have resulted in little more than a few sparks. Truly, he had turned into a fearsome alpha wyvern. None of the other wyverns back at the other nest at that stone place with lots of humans had such strong fire! Now, Jeffry turned to focus again on his most pressing problem: his gurgling stomach. Recently, he’d had to eat much more, sneaking in a few pigs whenever that big man up at the castle wasn’t looking, but he felt like he had still been losing strength over the past few days. In fact, he wasn’t quite sure, but he believed that that big man who smelled a bit like a wyvern had actually been growing at an alarming rate. The other option, that he’d been shrinking in recent days, was absolutely absurd. Healthy wyverns did not shrink!
His stomach grumbled. Now, he truly appreciated the efforts old James had undertaken to provide for his food. How had old James been able to find enough food to feed himself, his harem of mates, and Jeffry? Old James must’ve been some type of apex hunter. New James was… soft. Jeffry had never seen new James bring any food to the sheep, just letting them roam around different patches of grass like useless herbivores. Real beasts ought to hunt!
Jeffry carefully observed new James warily approach with a pail of water. Jeffry rumbled in greeting.
“Here we go, big boy. Woah, there! No need to show your teeth. Just let me know if you want anything else.” Jeffry quizzically listened to this new James’s words that seemed to contain a trace of apprehension toward the wyvern. While Jeffry could now recognize that humans had a special form of communication with each other, Jeffry had yet to crack the secret to their primitive non-chemical language. Didn’t these humans know that you could tell almost anything about another just from the scent of one’s pee? Reading new James’s body language and the implied tone of his words, Jeffry guessed that new James was proving his subservience to him. Unlike old James, new James was far less confident. But, James was his Master…
Even after new James had left, Jeffry carefully pondered where new James fit in the wyvern social hierarchy. Perhaps, new James wasn’t actually James? In fact, now that Jeffry thought about it, new James didn’t radiate a similar aura to old James… Could old James have lied to him?
Suddenly, Jeffry realized something very important. Old James usually called new James Tom. Perhaps, James hadn’t simply put on a disguise and had actually abandoned him here while moving on to a new nest with his mates? Perhaps, these humans also had individual names like his own, making this new James actually be Tom? Jeffry had never guessed that humans had their own individual identifiers. It was just like wyverns, but verbal instead of based on their auras! This was so confusing. Jeffry felt a hint of discontent, which only made him reflect further on his thoughts.
Going through a list of his priorities, Jeffry tried to identify what was nagging him so. He was hungry, but not starving, so that couldn’t explain it. Besides, his hunger had existed before this feeling of discontent that had recently arrived. He wasn’t being hunted. He had just received water. He wasn’t bored: he had a whole flock of pets. He had somewhere clean-ish to sleep back at old James’s barn. Thinking of that barn seemed to further his longing, and Jeffry lowered his scaled head. Finally, he had to admit that it just wasn’t the same without old James there.
Instead, Jeffry let his mind roam while he idly watched the sheep. Then, when he was about to doze off, those annoying grey lines appeared again. It resembled the annoying patterns that James would sometimes scribble on signs around his pen. Actually, now that Jeffry thought about it, those signs around his yard were quite offensive. They read: “Warning. Warning. Jeffry the Wyvern!” Was he really something to fear? He thought he was quite the handsome scaled beast, not to mention intelligent to boot since James had taught him the words, “No,” “Warning,” “Bad,” “Food,” “Jeffry,” “Master James,” “Kira,” and “Wyvern.” Now that he thought about it, Jeffry realized almost half the words he knew were actually bad, but he figured that was just old Master James being a grouch.
While listening to a monotone voice drone, Jeffry tried to read those patterns floating in his mind. The voice said, “Warning: Wyvern has evolved to ??? due to exposure to [???]. Congratulations on gaining a Class! Please gain Levels to unlock further information.
Skill Gained: |Gluttony|.
Would you like to unlock |Ancestral Memories|?”
Jeffry didn’t know what any of those words meant besides for “Warning” and “Wyvern” since James had taught him those words long ago back when he’d been just out of the egg. Well, he suspected that “Congratulations” meant something good since he usually received a treat whenever he heard that. Jeffry puffed out his chest; he was a fearsome Wyvern that others would have to respect, and this voice was, no doubt, praising him for that, but that didn’t quite fit what he thought those words meant either. After all, why would the words stick around like that? Much like what James had written around his pens, the words suggested that being a wyvern was something worth warning against. Only now did Jeffry realize he’d made a logical leap that he’d never have been able to make before today.
He wondered whether all this knowledge had to do with those words that had popped in front of him today, announcing himself to have “evolved.” Perhaps, evolving made him smarter? That was always a good thing; maybe he should aim to do that more. As far as he knew, none of the other wyverns had ever had such thoughts. He’d had a few conversations with them before, but back then, they’d only shared basic stuff like whether the hens were in heat or not through pheromones. Jeffry couldn’t discount the possibility that all wyverns were like him, and they’d ostracized him from this “thinking” circle before, but he doubted this was the case. Some wyverns, like Phil, were just too stupid for that to be plausible.
Licking his lips, Jeffry eyed a ewe who was munching on some grass beside a smaller lamb. He casually decided that Mary would be a good name for her if she didn’t end up in his belly tonight. He instinctively knew that these sheep would fill him and would be good for him, but even they soon wouldn’t provide what he needed once he changed a bit more. Besides, they were his pets. How could he eat them? He had to exhaust his other options first. At first, Jeffry had refused to admit that he’d been shrinking. After all, bigger was always better and stronger.
However, when he finally became honest with himself, he had recognized that he had truly been shrinking every day, and he sensed that one day, he’d become either nothing… or something more. The time when that this would be determined quickly approached based on the fact that he had already lost an eighth of his mass. Jeffry burped, smelling a bit of the roasted pig he’d had for lunch on his breath. Where was his body mass even going to? Shaking his head, Jeffry focused on his hunger once more. Why were these no thoughts so distracting?
Ever since those annoying words had started interfering with his sleep, Jeffry had known that he was alive, and he did not want to become nothing or even return to his previous state of ignorance. However, old James was now gone, and Jeffry had realized that even if James had merely transformed into new James, new James was both weaker and vastly more busy with things outside James’s home, only entered old James’s home once a day to do a cursory check before walking out again. This was something Jeffry would never have previously noticed. Satisfied with his improved intelligence, Jeffry decided that this new James was too weak to be called Master. Instead, new James was actually just Tom the sheep-man from whom he’d stolen sheep so long ago. Even though Tom was too weak to defend himself, Jeffry decided he’d still generously pretend to listen to Tom since the human had gifted him a cow just the day before.
All these new ideas and more flooded his head. In fact, the storm of ideas threatened to overwhelm him as his newly expanded brain made connections he’d never previously imagined. He didn’t know what was going on, and as an apex predator, that made him very upset.
Then, something forced his decision; his nose twitched as he felt some great being lock on to him. Jeffry trembled: this was the fourth time this week that had happened. Curling into himself to escape its view, Jeffry snuck a glance around the field, knowing that an even more apex predator was stalking him. He firmly resolved to get out of here as soon as possible because this field was definitely not a very safe place. While his pets were important, he held himself at a higher priority. Moreover, his instincts screamed for him to search for greener pastures, or at least, ones with more fire essence.
With a great roar, he unconsciously activated his only Skill,|Gluttony|, and headed where his mind told him to go.