Rain took a huge slavering bite from the boar's side, gulping it down eagerly. He had been getting hungrier and hungrier, the dual pressure of being wounded and time passing since his last major meal making him increasingly ravenous so the relief of devouring the boar was immense.
It wasn't the first boar. Using Lyra's power they had baited and drawn out over a dozen green-furred boars, piling up each kill until Rain had a small hill of pork waiting for him. He hadn't waited on ceremony, once they'd checked the cavern was empty he had instantly leapt upon the delicious mound, indulgently gorging himself. He was hungry enough that he didn't even stop for a moment between eating, letting the intense backed up feeling of coming growth build up inside of him, edging the release by continuing to stuff more and more meat into his underfed maw.
The pile of boars rapidly disappeared, warm blood spilling across the icy grass as he fed, steam rolling off it in thick foggy waves. Lyra blinked as the mist rolled over her, it didn't stop her from looking away though, the sight of such a monstrous primal endless hunger stunning her, making her feel faint and weak at the knees. She understood Rain ate a lot, but actually seeing such an incredible amount of mass disappear inside of him so quickly was a sight to behold.
Rain gorged on the boar until there was nothing left but a slick layer of steaming blood across the frosty grass. He leaned back and belched, curling his digits as the delicious feeling of growing larger and stronger rolled through his body, he arched his back in pleasure, his claws scrabbling across the ground, leaving furrows in the dirt. Oh gods how he had missed this! He needed more! More! He let out an involuntary groan as his joints popped, adjusting to their new size, his limbs lengthening, muscle swelling. He grunted as Opal made a flying leap on top of him and hugged at his torso as his ribs creaked outward, his chest and pecs broadening, his feet shifting across the ground, kicking instinctively.
"Beeger! Yess!" whimpered the Goblin as she rolled and humped her hips against his abdomen.
At last, the final bit of growth was done and he slumped back breathing hard, a faint glowing satisfied feeling filling his body, like an after sex glow without the sex.
Lyra stared at the pair with big round eyes.
"C-could you grow f-forever? Eat forever?" She swallowed dryly. "I don't think I'm ever going to get used to this," she said queasily.
"Don't worry, it becomes the new terrifying normal after a while," said Red beside her, his tone flat, that of someone who was long jaded by the sight.
"How could this ever be normal!"
Rain checked his body over, Opal still hanging off him, and was pleased to see his remaining minor wounds and cuts were shrinking and healing. Still some ways to go but he was rapidly returning to full physical health.
He glanced up at the sheep girl. His gaze made her flinch.
"You killed these boars you know, all of them, you held the knife and stabbed them until they died while I held them down, so why do you feel that way about me eating them?"
"I- I know I did! That's not the problem!... I'm a leveler, I've always had to hunt monsters to level up, it's always been this way. When I was a low leveler desperate to find a way to make ends meet and not be stuck as a bottom feeder I managed to scrape together enough money to get cheaply power leveled. It... it was rough, only two of us made it back alive, I had to kill so many monsters just to survive. I'm used to killing monsters..."
"Then there's no problem."
"There is! You're eating them!"
"What would happen if a leveler had come across them and killed these boars? They might cook one part of one of them, or hack off some valuable part, but most of the time they'd wastefully leave the rest to rot. I'm actually making use of what's left behind. It's a good thing."
"That- that's different! You're- It's just different okay! Levelers don't eat everything!"
"Good thing I'm not a leveler then." He grinned at her, showing his bloody teeth.
The sheep girl shuddered.
"Tell me, what level are you now?" said Rain looking over her trembling body.
"I- I was level fourteen, after k-killing that first boar monster I became level fifteen, I don't know how many more I'd have to kill to reach level sixteen, it feels like a lot, levelers need to kill more monsters or more powerful monsters as they level up, we need that much more experience."
"Did you get anything for level fifteen?"
The sheep girl hesitated then nodded her head. "Leveling doesn't always give something, but I got a climbing Skill, so I can rescue people who have fallen down ravines or something..."
"How lame!" sneered Opal.
"It's not lame! Gosh!"
"Mm, no it's pretty lame."
Lyra glared at the Goblin, uncertain if she was just trying to annoy her, she was pretty sure it was the latter, but her pride still stung.
"Just watch this!"
The sheep girl turned to the nearest tree. She looked up at it. It was a fairly barren winter tree with a few branches high up. It was a bit more of a challenge than she had been anticipating. She furrowed her brow and glanced back at the Goblin. Opal was looking at her, a mocking smile pulling at the corner of her lips.
Lyra curled her hands into fists. She wasn't going to let that Goblin laugh at her, she was just a stupid little Goblin! Lyra was a leveler!
She drew in a breath, readying herself, then brought the Skill to the forefront of her mind and triggered it. Energy flooded through her body and she leapt at the tree, her hooves digging into the bark with ease, her fingers somehow finding unnoticeable crevices that gave just enough grip to let her swiftly ascend the tree. She popped up on top of one of the larger branches sticking from the trunk, wobbling from a moment before getting her balance. She looked down smugly at the Goblin who was staring up at her in disbelief. Then she noticed just how far from the ground she was. She gripped the tree trunk extra hard as blood drained from her face.
"S-s-s-see! It-It's a g-great S-Skill!"
"Interesting," said Rain looking up at her. "And you can use this often?"
"W-well until my mana runs out, and I can't use it consecutively lots of times or I'll get exhausted."
"Goddam levelers have it so good..." grumbled Opal.
Lyra turned and shakily activated the Skill again, she climbed down from the tree, this time significantly more slowly.
Her hooves touched down on the icy grass and she breathed a sigh of relief.
"Levelers get stronger as they level right?" said Rain.
"Yes! Whenever a leveler levels up it improves them physically and makes their existing skills slightly better."
"And when you get a Class or an advanced Class it comes with key skills...Too bad the secrets to acquiring good classes are hoarded by family dynasties."
Lyra blinked at him. "How did you know that?"
Opal opened her mouth to say something but Rain suddenly plugged it with a paw pad. Her teeth bit down on him harmlessly and she glared up at Rain.
"It's just something I heard somewhere," graveled Rain.
Lyra narrowed her eyes at him. She couldn't say what it was but Rain was... different from other monsters. Not just that he was scary and growing larger but the way his mind worked, it didn't quite seem... She wasn't sure how to explain it, it was like he wasn't all monster.
"We should move, sitting out in the open like this is inviting trouble."
Lyra was jerked from her pondering and looked up to see Rain standing, the Goblin girl in his arms.
"Er, right. I am looking forward to getting out of this dungeon. If that's really possible as Opal says."
"Course it is, you'll learn, Gobbo scouts know the way."
As Rain stepped toward Lyra, his heavy feet crunching the icy grass underneath, Lyra was taken aback by his significantly more bloody state after eating the boars.
"W-wait! Wait a second!"
Rain paused. "You're going to get carried whether you like it or not."
"G-gods, okay fine! Just let me... let me get on your shoulders myself!"
Rain gave her a puzzled look.
"If you think it helps, okay, we can do that."
He turned around and sat down on the ground cross-legged, his back facing Lyra, Opal in his lap.
Lyra stared at his broad back. She really hadn't thought this far ahead.
"O-ok-kay I'm g-gonna climb up."
She remained standing where she was.
Rain looked over his shoulder and raised an eyebrow.
Lyra screwed her face up and slapped her pink cheeks, drawing in big breaths as though readying herself for something impossibly hard. She was ready. She was really ready.
She took a step forward. And immediately fell over. But she caught herself! But now she was stumbling toward Rain out of control! She squeaked as she fell against his back, her hands pressed against his fur, she could feel his powerful muscles shifting beneath her palms. Her legs shook wildly, knees turned inward, barely holding her up, her breath coming in desperate gasps. She- She could still do this! Probably.
She set her jaw and activated her new climbing Skill. Her hands slid up him, her fingers curling into his fur. With a yell she launched herself upward, slamming her body into his unyielding back, her fear weakened legs kicking, her hooves pawing at him, slipping and sliding. She clambered up his back shakily, until she was awkwardly holding his head. Rain didn't make comment as she clumsily shifted her body, her large breasts pressing up against the back of his head as she lifted her leg, missed, slipped back, managed to recover, then slipped one leg over his shoulder and then the other. She leaned over his head breathing hard, her hand hanging off the bridge of his snout, her head hanging over his, her chest tight against his head.
She opened her eyes to see Rain's yellow looking up at her. She squeaked and snatched her hand away.
"I- I did it!"
"Congratulations." deadpanned Rain. "Hold my ears so you don't fall."
He shifted his legs and stood up, Lyra letting out a little whimper as the ground dropped beneath her.
To his right something rattled and Rain turned his head to see Red. Opal had decided she didn't want to carry the second rucksack anymore and had spent time while Rain was busy eating fixing her rucksack to the overburdened Kobold. The Kobold's torso was now comically sandwiched between two over stuffed packs, his arms sticking out to either side and his head resting atop the pack attached to his front. He gave Rain a confused and concerned look.
"I'm not sure about this!"
"You'll be fine," said Opal lazily from Rain's arms.
"Yes, those packs are full of metal things, It's like really good armour!"
Red gave the Goblin a 'you can't be serious' look.
"Let's go, Lyra, make us invisible."
The sheep girl twitched at his voice but gathered herself and Rain sensed shadow falling over them. The Kobold looked around, suddenly alone.
His chain shifted across the ground and he hurried to follow it, uninterested in being jerked off his feet while his body was surrounded by bags full of sharp pointy things.
He waddled furiously forward, the packs clanking around him obnoxiously. Soon they had made it to the edge of the cavern and the chain started shifting toward a nearby cave entrance. They were about to enter it when a huge paw suddenly came down on the pack on Red's back and lifted him into the air. He was whisked away behind a massive boulder to one side of the cave entrance.
Red looked at his arms to either side of him. They were unnaturally shadowed. He looked up at Rain who was holding him up.
"What's going on?"
"There are levelers coming."