The Dragons Womb

An adventurer becomes host to a parasitic worm that turns her into an egg-laying dragon-insect hybrid. Explicit.

Talia walked through the ribcage of a dragon. Ten feet above her, its spine jutted from the rock ceiling. Its ribs were like curled pillars embedded in the rock walls. A tiny stream ran down the middle of the floor, fed by the trickle of water dripping over the ancient bones. With one eye on the floor and another ahead of her, she followed the slow incline of the tunnel. Up. Up to the mines, and then up out of the Dragons' Tomb.

A bag of drake scales rustled inside her pack. She'd plucked them fresh off a centipede drake's hide: her prize for braving the Tomb. Eline had said it wasn't worth the risk, but a suit of scale armor was a precious thing to have. Talia had found enough scales to make gloves for her roguish friend, too.

Her torch cast a flickering light over the damp. It lit her body: her banded steel armor, her short, dark hair, her young but stern face, and the muddy grit smeared on her cheeks. The centipede drake was still fresh in her mind; wet chittering, hundreds of scuttling claws, and a head that bulged with far too many eyes. She had only nearly bested it.

A flicker of movement caught her eye, shifting in the shadow beyond her torch. Her heart quickened. She gripped her mace. Torch low, she advanced step by step.

The light fell upon a cracked dragon bone, its marrow laid open. A cluster of pale white worms, or maybe slugs, quivered in the light. They were each the length and girth of a fat finger, with two pairs of short eyestalks near one end. The torchlight made them scatter, wriggling into the shadows. They left behind small holes bored into marrow.

Talia leaned closer, but didn't take another step. Of all the monsters of the Tomb, she had never heard of marrow-worms before. The centipede drakes and rockwyrms and blind firesnakes owed their monstrous size and features to the draconic essence in the water. The water leeched the essence out of the bones it flowed over. If these worms ate the bone itself, then how monstrous were they?

While Talia shivered at her own imagination, a single worm slid along the crest of an exposed vertebra on the ceiling. It was hidden by the flicker of her torchlight. Its eyestalks quivered. Its tail peeled away from the bone. It hung from its tip, then fell. With a soft pap, it landed on top of Talia's head.

Talia whirled back, torch raised, eyes on the ceiling. Was it water, or was it one of the marrow-worms? Her gloved hand rose, reaching for her scalp. The worm wriggled its way to the top of her forehead, pressed its head against her skin, and bit down. A rush of venom shot into Talia's bloodstream.

Her hand froze above her head. She relaxed her shoulders. Her hand dropped to the side. Torch held high, she scanned the ceiling. She saw nothing but wet bone and rock. Must have been water, she thought. She glanced back at the cracked bone, then turned and left the marrow-worms behind.

A numbness radiated out from the worm's bite. She didn't flinch, didn't even blink. Leechlike, the worm dug into her flesh, then fastened itself there. Not a wince of pain nor a drop of blood. The worm stretched and relaxed its body in a slow rhythm. It glistened, unseen in the torchlight.

A tickle ran down the front of Talia's face. Her nose twitched. She scratched at her forehead absently, her fingers not an inch from the worm's head.

Talia climbed onward through the tunnels, following the rise in the ground. The honeycomb labyrinth of tunnels had left her disoriented, but she was headed for the surface. As long as she moved upward, she made progress. Once she got to the mines, it would be easy to find her way.

On top of her head, the worm curled its tail. Its fat body squeezed against itself. A small glob of fluid oozed through its mouth and into her blood.

The tunnel spun around her. Talia's legs gave way and she fell to her knees. She heard the pounding blood in her ears and felt the ragged air in her throat. Her eyelids slid closed, then blinked back open. The hours and hours of crawling through caves and tunnels hit her all at once. Her armor bore down on her back as if it were twice as heavy. The ground had never seemed quite so inviting. She could lie down right here. She put her hands on the damp floor as she leaned lower.

But wait. These were tight quarters; she was out in the open. It was by luck alone that she hadn't found a burrowing rockwyrm yet. She didn't want to test that luck. Fighting her whole body's urge to lie down, she crawled to her feet. Her forehead was damp with sweat. Her stomach churned behind her chestplate. She took an unsteady breath, a hand against the wall. Get to the mines first, she told herself. Then she could rest.

This was easier said than done. Talia kept one hand along the wall for balance. Her armor clanked heavily with each step. Every so often, a twinge rolled through her abdomen and she paused, grunting softly and leaning forward, until the pain had passed.

The torchlight drew shadows over the shallow carvings on the wall. Talia didn't stop to read them, but the sight of them lifted her spirits. She had seen ones like these while descending into the tunnels. Dragon-cult carvings, left by those that worshipped the bones buried in the rock. If the dragon-cult had been in these tunnels, she was near the mines. She could rest soon. Just a little further upward.

The worm had grown a half-inch longer. Its wet flesh rolled and tensed, always slightly wriggling. Only its numbing venom kept Talia from feeling its presence. It squeezed its tail inward, bulging fatter in the middle. Another bead of fluid squeezed into her bloodstream.

Heat washed over Talia's body. It started in her head, spilled along her shoulders, and rolled down her back. It flowed through her blood, out to her chilled fingers and feet. After so many hours in the cold and damp, warmth was a massive relief. Her cheeks glowed red. The straps of her armor dug into her skin as she flushed with sweat.

Her eyelids drifted shut. Her head drooped. The heat was like a blanket, bundling her tight. A low groan came from inside her body, below her stomach. Her chestplate squeezed her abdomen. She felt like she could peel off her armor, lay down on the stone, and drift off. It was more inviting than the softest goose-feather bed.

No, Talia thought groggily. No, not yet. The mines weren't far now. She'd be safer there. She forced herself to move again. Her gait was slow, trying to avoid the tender tightness knotting up deep inside her core. A few drops of sweat beaded on her brow.

The air smelled different. Still damp, but not the musty silt of water filtering over bone and rock. It was like fresh spray, like free-running water. The rush of a strong current echoed down the tunnel. She was almost there.

The worm wriggled for a moment, then curled itself up tight. A few small tremors shook within it as it pumped out its thick ichor.

A sudden cramp struck Talia like a blow to the gut. She grasped at her stomach as she doubled over. Her skin seared hot against her armor. Her head throbbed in pain, centered on the parasite lodged in her forehead. The aching pulse rippled down through her body, forcing its way between her thighs. Her knees gave out and she fell to the ground, then onto her hands and knees, panting, sweating, staring at the ground.

Her hands balled into fists against the ground. She threw her head back with a sharp cry. Every muscle in her pussy was tense. There was shifting, growing, pushing deep inside of her, like something was blossoming bigger and stronger. The tight ache leaned hard against her hips. She felt like she might split open at her sides. Her lower belly throbbed against her armor, from her mound all the way up the Old One, that was her womb she was feeling.

The pulsing pain in her head was too much. She reached for her scalp, meaning to cradle her head in her hands. But as her hand neared the top of her head, the worm squirmed violently. A rough grunt left Talia's throat. Her juices soaked into her underclothes. Her eyes glazed over and her hand fell to the ground. Her thoughts creaked to a stop.

Talia blinked. The last thing she remembered was falling to her knees. She must have fallen asleep for a moment. If she didn't rest soon, she'd pass out on her feet. As she pushed herself up, she couldn't help from groaning when she bent her back forward. The tender ache in her abdomen squeezed and made her recoil. Her trousers were damp...from sweat, she assumed.

A glob of excess fluid, thick and clear, oozed from the worm's head and down her forehead. She wiped it off on her glove, then looked at the strings of sticky fluid clinging to her fingers. ...Sweat. Her suspicion couldn't overcome her baggy-eyed fatigue. She needed to lie down, now.

As Talia walked, her hips strained her cuisses and rolled from side to side. She felt the weight inside her lower abdomen shift, a tender throb with every step. Her cheeks burned. Her breaths were deep and desperate. She could see the mouth of the tunnel. She pressed forward as fast as her aching body would allow.

She had made it at last. The corridor opened into a high-ceilinged chamber. On one side, a ramp lead up to an exit, while on the other, an underground river rolled past. The floor was clear and a cluster of scaffolding and planks stood against the ramp. The spray from the flowing water left the air freshly damp, but that didn't matter. What mattered was that she was out of the tunnels. The surface was within reach. Now she could rest.

Talia tucked herself into a small alcove behind the scaffolding. The spot put her back against the wall and offered cover, in case anything came roaming into the room. As soon as she sat down, her shoulders relaxed and her head leaned back against the rock. The ache in her midsection blended into the aura of soreness that wrapped her tired body.

Her armor strangled her legs and had a death grip on her stomach. She loosened the straps on her breastplate for more breathing room, then kicked off her boots and slid the plated cuisses off her legs. Bit by bit, she stripped off her armor, laying it beside her so she'd be able to get dressed quickly. After hours upon hours, her undershirt and trousers finally had a chance to breathe.

Talia unrolled a small blanket from her pack and sat on top of it. She put her hands on her knees and breathed slowly. Her fingernails traveled down her thighs, then back up again. She closed her eyes. Leaning forward, she stroked her thighs again, down the middle and up the sides.

She paused, giving her hips a light squeeze. Her flesh was tender beneath her touch and her hips were soft and broad. She'd always been spry and tenacious. To feel herself take up that much space, to extend so far to either side, was strange. She dipped a hand into her pack for her vial of healing water. If some curse or poison had struck her, the blessed water would drive it out.

A full four-and-a-half inches long, the worm tapered toward its tail, thicker at its head. Its eyestalks had shrunken, but were still visible around its base. Its movements were thicker, less wild and wriggling. As Talia's hand slid into her pack, the worm bunched and squeezed a dose of its fluids into her.

Talia's hand fell out of her pack. She slumped onto the blanket. At first she leanedon her shoulder, but then splayed out on her back, eyes unfocused. A bit of the worm's goo trickled sideways down her forehead. One hand went to her legs, massaging her thighs and hips through her trousers. The other pushed up her shirt and rubbed over her lower abdomen. If she pushed, she could feel the twinge of her swollen, aching organs. But if she used a light touch, she could soothe the tender heat.

Talia's knees bent slowly. Her legs spread open from the steady pressure of her taut stomach between her thighs. Her hand passed along the inside of her thighs and her legs quivered. She was warm, and tired, and small tingles and twinges of muscle twisted around in her lower body.

On instinct, one of her hands slid underneath her waistband and pressed between her legs. She made a soft grunt, a noise of surprise. She tried to pull her hand back, but couldn't will herself to pull away. Her fingers traced her swollen mound, and then pushed open her folds.

A dull ache spread through her head; more fluid pumped into her blood. Now she had two fingers squeezed into her, rubbing back and forth while she squirmed for some comfortable spot to lie on her blanket. Her knees were bent, her feet pulled in close to her body. Her right leg was cocked to one side, spreading herself open for her fingers.

This place was far too dangerous to leave herself vulnerable like this, but her body screamed at her to keep going in every way it could. A tight throb arched up into her womb, like it was begging her to fill it. Her skin ached where she pressed against the cool stone.

Her hips bucked up against her hands and her bones creaked beneath her skin. Her hips pushed wider, body more bottom-heavy. Her swollen belly poked forward. Talia tried again to bring herself back to her senses, to pull her hand away. Instead, she only managed to groan out. Her own voice was the loudest noise she'd heard in hours. It startled her, made her flinch, and her resistance slipped. Her fingers sunk deeper between her legs.

Another throb rolled through her head, followed by another aching rush below her waist. Her thighs were damp. She had never been this excited before. Something was wrong. She wanted to stop but she physically couldn't pull herself free. She was on her back, staring up at the scaffolding above her, fingers sunk into her pussy up to her third knuckle.

The worm's tail rose, twitching rhythmically. A glob of fluid rolled off the side of her forehead.

Her feet hung in the air. Her toes flexed as if trying to hold onto something. Her toenails gleamed and curled in the torchlight. Tendons twisted against her skin. Talons rose from her toes: nails curled out long and milky-white. The bones of her feet elongated, stretching muscle and sinew. At the ends of her feet, her toes hung heavy with their new claws. They were still curled, her legs still trembling.

Talia had seen it all happen. She had to run, to get up, to try to stop this, but she just couldn't pull her hand away. Each press of her fingers made her curl and groan and thrash on the blanket.

In response to her rush of fear, the worm wriggled again. Talia felt as if something tightened around her clit from inside her own body. She hung in the air as she was for a few moments, curled, mouth open, fingers frozen. The orgasm hit her. It rushed through her body, making her twist on the floor and scrape at the ground with her large talons.

A pair of heavy, shuddering cracks echoed up through her bones. An invisible force grabbed her hips and forced them outward. They bent and groaned into a wider-legged, reptilian stance. Her legs were forced to the sides, knees spread wide and feet still hanging in the air. Her thighs and calves creaked with new-growing bone.

The small of her back lifted off the ground. Something broad and rounded came shuddering out from the base of her spine. It hit the seat of her trousers and tried to push them down, but her hips had pulled the fabric tight. It was caught in her pants. The soft, fleshy thing curled around the curve of her ass, slid up over her crotch, and poked out from the front of her waistband. It was like a flattened tail, pale and veined and gently pulsing against her skin.

Her new tail-like appendage dragged her attention away from her monstrous feet. She reached down in shock, grasping it, feeling it squeeze under her touch. The rounded tip split in fours and peeled open, revealing a dark orifice inside. Talia gasped and pulled her hand back. The orifice sealed itself back up, but the sight of it was seared into her mind.

Panic and adrenaline pounded at her temples. Whatever was happening, she had to stop it. She rolled onto her side and rummaged through her pack for the blessed water. Her fingers grasped the vial. She uncorked it and lifted it to her mouth just as the worm throbbed. Her hand stopped short. The healing water spilled out and rand own her shir. Her hips bucked. A small gush of fluids dripped from her swollen mound. She blinked, focused on the empty vial, and frowned. She was all out. Damn it.

Talia forced herself up. She ignored the throb of pain from her womb as she bent over and fought the fatigue as she stood. She had no idea what curse or poison this could be, but she had to find someone to cure it, and fast. She staggered onto her strange legs, as if she was trying to straddle an invisible horse. Her talons scratched and scraped the floor. Even when she found footing, her legs refused to stand straight, so instead she was forced into a feral squat, hunched forward in her attempt to balance.

She didn't want to leave her armor, but only the chestpiece and gloves would fit—and the former, only after loosening the straps to fit her swollen stomach. Her trousers were too tight on her reptilian hips and dug into her new tail, so she cut them free with a knife. The thick, orifice-tipped tail-thing flopped free and swung down to the level of her knees. She strapped her belt higher on her waist, settled her mace onto her hip, and slung her pack onto her back. She left the rest of her armor and her blanket behind. No time. She needed to move, now.

Each step swung her hips and made her tail-thing sweep through the air. They were awkward, lumbering steps, rolling her body up and down as she crawled forward like some half-lizard. She clutched the scaffolding for support as she squeezed out from under it.

The worm flopped on her head, stiffening up, then squeezing in on itself with an audible gl-glorp. Talia's ears twitched and she brought her hand to her brow. What had made that noise...?

A sudden thump-jerk hit her from deep inside her gut. Talia bared her teeth and grunted. She staggered forward and caught herself on a wooden beam. Underneath her, no, inside of her, was a slow-swelling weight. It pushed down and spread into her womb. It threatened to drag her to the floor. Her muscles clenched. Her stomach bulged around the mass. And then there were two of them.

The longer she stood there, doubled over, the more her stomach bowed out against her chestplate. With all the new forward weight, she'd fall on her face if she let go of the beam. Her chestplate was crushing her abdomen and would crush her eggs if she didn't do something, now. She groped at the leather straps and tore them open. The iron clattered to the ground. With a queasy sense of relief, her taut belly sagged free.

Hold on. Had she just thought about eggs? The weight in her womb bent her forward. She reached down to feel her swollen stomach and traced thick, oblong shapes through her taut skin.

Talia couldn't be pregnant. She didn't want to be pregnant. Especially not with eggs.

The worm had grown from feeding off her, to nearly six inches of pale glossy flesh, thick at the head, tapering to a nub at the tail. Its eyestalks were vestigial. It curled and shot a bolt of its juices into her.

Talia squinted, jaw slack. She be...pregnant? There was a vice gripping her head, trying to squeeze out the thoughts it didn't want her to think. She couldn't tell what thoughts they were, but they were just out of reach, behind the animal urge to fill her womb. A tight, rumbling feeling welled up inside of her. Unimpeded by her armor, her stomach shuddered out thicker and tighter, sagging under its weight. Feeling herself getting larger ignited primal urges in the back of her mind, dark things that squirmed and fled from the light. Dragon-thoughts.

Talia fought to stagger forward into the room. Behind her, her tail-like appendage dragged along the floor, an extra weight tied to her back hanging down in a limp curl. On its underside, thick callouses like plates were forming. A trail of fluid dribbled from its tip.

The sides of her thighs pressed against her stomach as she struggled to walk. Each push made the weight inside of her shift, jostling her eggs and pressing them against the walls of her womb. It was a little jolt of pain each time, and yet those deep thoughts sent chitters of delight through her. Womb, large, happy, purpose. Talia felt the bags under her eyes with each blink. She had to get out.

Her mouth hung open, taking gasping breaths. A long, pale, pointed tongue tumbled from her mouth. Her nose wrinkled and her lips curled back. Bone split into new ridges, stretching the muscles of her face forward. Her teeth grew into the free space; taller and sharper. Her shriek of pain had an inhuman curl to it as her tongue lashed through the air.

Patches of her skin along her hips and back were dry and cracked. The skin hardened into pale scales, the sickly white of a creature that never saw the sun. The feeling of stretching bone and sinew that had warped her feet now curled through her hands. Claws split her gloves. Her lengthening hands tore through the leather. Her thumbs shrunk, as if her hands were meant for walking on all fours.

Talia slurped her tongue back behind her fangs. She felt every creak of pain from her shifting skull--the growing ridge of her nose, her stretching jaw, her larger teeth forced up through her gums, and a weight against her forehead. Wait a second. She reached for her forehead with a clawed hand. Her fingers closed around the worm. In shock, she grabbed with both hands and tried to wrench it from her head.

A jolt of pain shot down through her body, like she was trying to pull out a weed that had taken root inside of her. A screech vibrated through her skull. Her eyes filled with flashes of color like she'd been hit in the head. Her talons slipped from under her and she landed hard on her side, legs splayed wide.

Talia's shoulder pressed against the damp ground. Her hips jerked into the air, pumping against an unseen partner. Then she froze, hanging in midair. Her juices splashed from her folds, trickling down her thighs and ass and dripping onto the floor. Her eyes rolled back in her head. Her stomach bulged against the scaly patches dotting its front. A second orgasm hit her—more colors, more aching, clawing at the floor, her tongue lolling from her mouth. Egg slid against egg inside of her, fighting for space. Then a third orgasm. Once it had passed, she laid limp on the ground, eyes crossed and breathing shallow. The dragon-thoughts rustled in the dark and wet of her mind. Breed, nest, queen, clutch.

Her eyes opened and she raised her head. From her waist down, her body was disproportionate, her human torso stuck on top of monstrous legs. Her heavy womb, bristling with eggs, made her look horribly bloated. Her belly sagged out thick between her wide-set legs. At least it still cleared the floor when she stood. Don't touch the worm, said a voice in her head. She had a feeling it wasn't her own.

Talia could either stand, or move. Between her egg-laden belly and her wide legs, she didn't have the balance for both. Her long, draconic hands met the ground with a natural ease. Her arms and spine stretched and cracked, beginning to balance out her proportions

As she walked, her spine twisted like an S. Right hand, left foot; left hand, right foot. After a few stumbling, scuffling steps, she grasped her animal gait well enough that she could walk. Her long, dragging tail swung behind her. Her ankles bumped against its scaled underside.

Drink, the dragon-thoughts hissed. Her tongue dangled from her mouth as she passed by the flowing stream. Drink, power, dragon, water. Talia's eyelids drooped. Her nose was pointed toward the exit, but she felt so thirsty. She turned, and her whole body turned lazily after her. She set her pale-scaled hands on the edge of the rocky bank. Sparing one hand to scoop up the water, she raised it to her lips and sucked it down between her parted fangs. She drained four handfuls of water before pausing.

Her reflection wavered on the surface of the water. There were the fleshy-white scales on her cheeks and chest, there her pinkish, milky eyes, her pointed dragon snout...and the worm. It no longer sat back on her head, but stood up, half-erect and perhaps eight inches long. Its pointed tip was splotched with black, while the pale shade of the rest of its body matched her colorless scales. Behind it, a crest of small, bony nubs had grown, encircling her head like a crown, then running down her spine.

Talia was seized with a sudden anger that burned through all the whispering in her mind. She reached up and grabbed the worm with both hands and pulled, claws tight, with all her strength. It felt as if she were pulling on her skull itself. Her arms trembled. The worm didn't budge. Deep within her large, pointed ears, Talia heard a wet gurgling.

Every muscle from her waist to the tip of her tail clenched. It was all she could do to drag herself back from the bank of the river, to not fall in. She tried to keep her hold on the worm, but she had to spare a hand to grasp her knee. Everything in her body screamed that she needed to push. She opened her jaw and let out a trembling, inhuman screech.

A huge mass, an egg, moved down her birth canal. Her bones bent aside like hot glass. Her hips shuddered. They shook drops of fluid from her folds. She expected her water to break, to feel it pushing past her cervix but it was pushing past something else. An entirely new piece of her anatomy split open and stretched wide.

Her egg slipped into her tail. Or, more accurately, her egg sac. A wet chill hit her. The egg thumped against the bottom of the sac, accompanied by a small rush of fluids. There was her water breaking. The orifice at the tip of her egg sac squirmed.

Only seconds after the first egg slid down, the next egg started its journey through her hips. This time, the pain was duller, but she still had to push, to dig her clawed fingers into her knee and tighten every muscle in her back. With each clench, the egg ground its way through her, until it popped free and slid into her egg sac. She took a deep, desperate breath.

The third egg was already on its way. Her muscles had learned how to push by now. Her body was looser, more willing to admit the eggs through it. The third egg popped free into her egg sac. Her thighs tensed, and a small gush of her pussy juices dripped onto the floor. Against her will, her body enjoyed the deep, numbing push.

Talia's face ran with rivulets of the worm's thick fluid. They dripped onto her scaled chest, onto her belly, onto the ground. The worm was ten inches tall now, ringed with small ridges, and stiff. Where it met the scales of her head, there was a fleshy junction, no longer a fine line between her and the worm. Jolts and shudders of bone pushed her growing horns and spiky ridges from her skull and vertebrae.

Her eggs slid steadily into her egg sac, but her stomach didn't shrink. She clutched at it with an anxious wheeze. The eggs grew as fast as her body shunted them back into her egg sac. The pale flesh between her egg sac's scales bulged and stretched to make room for more and more eggs..

Talia was incredibly, desperately thirsty. She licked at the fluids running down her face, but that wasn't enough. She needed the water. She hauled herself to her feet and dragged her heavy egg sac with her to the water's edge. The sac slid on its thick underscales, meant to protect its cargo. Her dragon-thoughts were louder and clearer now, like the rising tide of a dark sea. Heavy, fertile, mother, eggs. She tried to force the thoughts back down, but there were so many damp, dark places in her mind for them to hide.

Instead of cupping water in her hands, Talia leaned down and stuck her snout into the water. She opened her jaws and swallowed big, lapping gulps. She tasted the stone and silt, and the steeped dragon-bone, and the power of ancient beasts. But she wasn't becoming a dragon, not really. She was becoming something else, something that had feasted on the dragons' strength.

What jutted from her forehead was less a worm and more a horn. Its hide was thick and chitinous, too stiff for it to move. The other horns growing from her head matched it, in coloration and shape if not in size; arched, ridged, pale and black-tipped. Her spines were stouter and blunter, but similarly styled.

Lay. Talia's eyelids fluttered. No, she didn't want to. She wouldn't. Her egg sac was as long as the rest of her body. With each new egg, it bloated tighter. Each egg came with a jolt of delight, a little bump on the hips. Her mound was swollen, tender and aching. Lay. Talia's talons quivered and a ripple ran through her egg sac. The ovipositor at its tip stretched, slick with heavy fluids.

She could barely breathe, flushed with heat as she was. Her mouth dipped into the water, sucking down thirsty gulps, but even the cool rush down her throat couldn't stop it. The skin of her egg sac was pulled taut, tender to the touch, so sore she couldn't drag it. Her eggs had grown larger within the sac. They were mature and ready to be laid.

The need to lay eggs took up the same space that lust did in her mind. They were the same pathways, the same breeding instinct. Her body needed it in a fundamental way. She lifted a hand off the ground and pressed it underneath her swollen belly. Using the blunt side of her claws, she rubbed gracelessly at her puffy lips and engorged clit. It wasn't enough. It wasn't the same any more, not the same as laying.

Finally, Talia could no longer fight the need to lay. The thick knobs of her ovipositor opened up wide. Viscous slime spilled onto the rocks. A fleshy egg pushed up against the tight orifice and forced its way through. It was like setting off a firebomb inside someone's helmet. Her mind scattered in every direction and through the confusing pleasure, her deep, chittering dragon-thoughts told her, Lay.

Her egg sac was huge; as large as she was, and just as tall. Even now, she felt another egg slip past her hips, moving from her womb to the sac, where it would incubate. Her body refused to stop. It had found a new purpose.

The dragon-thoughts were her own, not the worm's. That scared Talia the most. It wasn't an outside force pushing on her, it was her own animal desires, strengthened until her mind was sinking under their weight. Fertile, swell, incubate, lay, they told her. She told herself.

She had to run. If she made it outside, she could send word to Eline. Through all the base, instinctive thought running through her mind, she could still remember her friend's face. There was hope.

Her sinewy, dragonic arms were sluggish to move. She had lumbered four steps before the next egg was ready to lay. She halted in her tracks. Her tongue darted over her lips as her eyes fluttered. They slid shut, then opened again--all four of them. A second pair cracked open, further back and higher up her skull than the first.

She dug her claws into the ground and pushed. She didn't need to, but the press of her ovipositor's muscles against the egg was a raw delight. Her jaw hung open and a grunt rolled out. The egg slid onto the floor with a soft splash. Her eyes rolled back. Her swollen pussy drooled onto the rock.

She didn't wait for the next egg to slide forward, ready to be laid--she pushed, making her egg sac quiver. The next egg began to crown behind the rounded bulbs of her ovipositor. She leaned forward, panting, eyes glazed. She needed the spike of pleasure, the instinctive delight of laying another egg.

Her central horn was fully grown now; tall, proud and chitinous. The only reminder of what it had been was the way her skin seemed to suck inward at its base. Her other horns formed the rest of her crown. On her limbs and back, thick outcroppings of scales had merged into broad, pointed plates. They covered her joints like armor, at once both draconic and insectoid.

Her ovipositor gaped as another egg squeezed out onto the floor. Before it had even closed again, another egg came wriggling from her egg sac, along with a splash of amniotic fluid. It felt so good. The intensity of each egg dulled the more she lay, but that only meant she needed to keep laying more. Her pale, veiny eggs glistened in the damp of the caverns.

She leaned down low to the ground and let out a chittering screech. Her deep dragon-thoughts swelled up into her mind and she told herself, Lay. Her burdens slipped away. Her pack was forgotten beside her, armor scattered where it had fallen. She didn't have to feel scared, or anxious, she just had to lay. Her back curled, stretching out the spines that ran down her chitin backplates. In her body, the build and power of a dragon had melded with the jointed exoskeleton and raw fecundity of an insect.

Eggs came steadily now, one after another. The fluid they were covered in quickly grew sticky, and fixed them to the floor. The damp and dark filled her mind, but it was peaceful. It was fertile. A clicking hiss left her throat as she raised her front claws, reaching down to stroke between her legs. Fluid splattered onto her talons after a few dozen eggs. The next time, she'd need twice as many to reach a climax. The numbing pleasure only made her more desperate to lay.

A hivedrake queen. She didn't have the words to say it, nor even to say her name, but she knew she was important, the leader of her hive. Her instincts told her so. Lay, eat, sleep, lay.


As she came to, the first thing Eline felt was the wet. It soaked her legs and back, as if she'd been lying in running water. The center of her forehead throbbed in a slow beat. There was a dark hole in her memories like a wound. She could recall everything from entering the Dragons' Tomb in search of her friend Talia to crawling through the mines. Then there was an oozing black nothing, followed by waking up here.

Where was here? Eline cracked open her eyes, looking up at the bone-studded ceiling. The sound of rushing water came from nearby. Still in the Tomb, at least. She brought her hand to her face, wiping away the rivulets of water that had fallen on her.

Eline paused. She squinted up at her glove, at the sticky streamers that connected her fingers. That wasn't water. A panic quivered in her gut. Hivedrake worm. By the treasure-hunters' accounts, they were some new horror that had crawled from the deep just days ago. Their advice: If it's on you, don't touch it. Use fire.

The weight of the worm wobbled on top of her forehead as she cast around for her torch. Nowhere to be seen, and neither was her sword. All that sat around her were eggs, clustered together, pale and quivering. If she moved carefully, maybe she wouldn't disturb them. She sat up slowly.

A deep, chittering breath came from behind her. Eline touched the ground as she turned, hearing every creak of her body like it was deafening. Resting on its side, front legs crossed under its head like some great hound, was the stretched, plated, flesh-white body of a huge draconic creature. It was perhaps only twice Eline's size from snout to hind claw, but behind it stretched a bloated sac just as long, nestled up against a pile of eggs. Eline watched the tip of the sac spread open, disgorge a thick cluster of eggs, then close again.

Eline clamped a hand over her mouth and slowly rose to her feet. Her breath was quick and agitated. Step by step she backed away. It was asleep. She could still get away. But her boot slipped off a ridge in the floor, and with a loud thud, she toppled down onto her back.

The hivedrake queen's eyes snapped open. Eline heard the sharp snort, followed by the scrape of chitin-scale against stone. She scuttled backward as fast as she could, but the queen loomed up above her, deceptively quick for the vast burden of her egg sac.

Small drops of drool dripped from the dragon-beast's maw. Her teeth spread open and her tongue unfurled, curling through the air toward her trespasser.

Eline closed her eyes and twisted away. The tongue fell against her face and dragged slowly from chin to cheek. She cracked an eye open and looked up at the queen's four pale eyes. They were so inhuman as to be unreadable. Was that a flicker of recognition, or a pang of hunger?

With one claw, the queen pinned Eline to the ground. She fought and squirmed, one way then the other, but the long talons held her tight. The queen's tongue slithered through the air as she stretched her neck, leaning closer.

Then with a snap, the pointed tongue shoved between Eline's lips. Her throat tightened, but the tongue forced itself down all the same. A thick bulge traveled up the hivedrake queen's throat. Her tongue swelled with thick ichor, sliding down toward Eline. Eline grabbed at the slime-coated tongue with tears in her eyes. Her chest seized tight.

And then Eline heard chittering in the deep, wet corners of her mind. Her fingers loosened and her arms fell to the floor. The hivedrake queen crawled up until she was hunched over Eline, tongue still buried deep in her body.

The chittering in Eline's mind grew louder. Hive, grow, protect, queen. Growing talons split through her gloves. Guard, strong, eggs, spread.