The B-ranked monster Murder Tiger, the creature said to be an incarnation of the legendary Sacred Beast Haiko…
Once, when Hornel had gone on a mission to eliminate a Murder Tiger pack, he had found that one cub was still alive.
Turning a deaf ear against the warnings of Idéa and Midors, Hornel had established a Familiar Contract with the cub. He had named it Maïga, and due to the contract being formed relatively long after the creature’s birth, the tiger had grown up to be a rebellious spirit. Regardless, Hornel had spent his time with his Familiar as both of them worked to improve each other.
“The right head is my shitty Master’s unfinished business. I’ll take it.”
Maïga, in a showing that could be considered a bluff, said so to Tarawo as he silently vented his rage.
But even with his bad mouth and an equally bad attitude, Maïga had instantly stood in front of Hornel, shielding him after the latter’s defeat to the Black Double Dragon.
Though still far removed from a ‘trusting’ relationship, Maïga was there, whether he intended to or not, as a Familiar and as a friend.
“Now… Don’t oversell yourself just to look cool, little guy.”
The A-ranked monster Garm, also called the King Wolf, the creature under consideration for the Rank S classification because of its strength and danger metrics…
Tricked, with distracting food, into a Familiar Contract with a random bespectacled man – one with the appearance of an off-brand Hornel look-alike – he had lost his original powers, and had eventually been abandoned by that ‘Master’ of his.
He had survived thanks to an encounter with Tifa, but then, because of Tifa’s menace included with his new Familiar Contract to her, he had been cursed… and turned into a Chihuahua.
He had been given the name Tarawo on that occasion, and since then, Tifa’s absurd instructions and orders had caused much friction between them.
However, ever since Tifa had met Asley again, and as Tarawo had gotten to mingle with more humans, their emotional conflict had gradually subsided.
Today, Tarawo putting his life on the line, running like hell, was for the sake of none other than Tifa.
Just like Maïga, Tarawo had acted without deliberation.
And even with his original form back, his vision never wavered.
All that occupied his mind was the enemy in front of him, the rage in his eyes fueling his drive to dig his fangs into the monster, the rush of emotions empowering his legs.
Tarawo leaped all the way to beneath one of the Black Double Dragon’s necks in a single bound. The Dragon swung its neck at him in retaliation.
At the same time, Maïga ripped the bone spikes on the monster’s right neck with his claws, cutting through to the flesh underneath.
Maïga, while Tifa and Hornel had been on the defensive and buying time for him, had been the one keeping the situation under control.
The experience he had gained was not much, but it was valuable, for it had granted him the ability to see through the Black Double Dragon’s counter-attack revealing an opening on its opposite neck.
“Hah! See what I did there?!”
“You mean the hit you managed to land thanks to me?”
“Shaddup! Doesn’t matter as long as we win!”
Maïga objected, spit scattering as he spoke. Tarawo let out a subdued sigh.
“Gah… and this is why I hate cats.”
“I’m a tiger!”
While Tarawo took on the Black Double Dragon’s heads head-on, Maïga made good use of his newfound knowledge and the slight changes in the situation, to add to the monster’s injuries.
The Dragon swung its long necks again and again, but Tarawo dodged them without difficulty.
And with each swing of its necks, the Black Double Dragon’s movements grew slower.
By that time, what Maïga was focusing on was Tarawo’s movements.
Just as Tarawo was about to be hit by one of the Dragon’s heads, he vanished like the wind, reappearing on the opposite side of where the head was aiming for.
It was then when Maïga noticed – Each time Tarawo moved, there was a change in the arc of the Black Double Dragon’s swings: it was getting lower and lower.
[The more that little shit moves, the slower the lizard gets… What the hell did he do?]
Then, when the Dragon swung again, a drop of liquid splattered on Maïga’s forehead.
Being a carnivorous monster, it took no time at all for him to realize what that liquid really was.
It was the Black Double Dragon’s blood – from the damage that he did not recall ever inflicting.
The drop of blood had been shed and scattered from a deep wound on the neck on Tarawo’s side.
With the Black Double Dragon growing slow, Maïga had more time to mind his surroundings… and what he saw then were Tarawo’s attacks at an almost blinding speed.
Due to the blackness of the monster’s body, one would need to focus their eyes to see the holes all over its neck.
And what had put those holes there were none other than Tarawo’s fangs.
Tarawo flickered like a shadow and zipped away like the wind.
Silently and precisely, he dug his fangs into the weakened Black Double Dragon.
[…That’s some ridiculous speed. Maybe his kind actually was assigned the wrong rank…]
Eventually, both of them were able to land countless attacks without the need for manipulation or deliberation. It was then when the Black Double Dragon was down to its knees, and with a painful breath – not even a cry – it collapsed.
The two Familiars looked down at the monster’s body.
Their eyes saw off one life’s inevitable departure from this world.
And once the light flames around them were extinguished, the two let out a short sigh of relief.
“T-that’s awesome! Tarawo, Maïga – you really took down this big monster by yourselves?!”
Itsuki celebrated, Tarawo gave her a piercing glare.
“Whuh-? Did I say something I shouldn’t have?”
“Itsuki, I would have been able to take it myself.”
“Hah, right! I would’ve been fine with one or two more – send ’em flying real good!”
Maïga made a proud, bold claim, to which Tarawo gave a threatening look.
“Bastard! The glory was mine to take!”
“I could’ve done it without you – and easily!”
“Oh?! Why don’t we put that claim to the test here and now, huh?!”
“Bring it on, damn it!”
Tarawo bore his fangs and put his fighting spirit on full display.
Maïga, too, showed his energy… as if whipping his exhausted body into shape.
But then, just as Itsuki was about to intervene in a panic-
“Nwoh?! KAH!! …Gah?!”
Suddenly, Tarawo started moaning in pain.
“…? H-hey… what the…! What now, you little shit?!”
His face only twisted in anguish. It was as if Maïga’s voice was not reaching him at all. Itsuki fell down on her rear again.
“M-M-M-Maïga! …What’s going on with Tarawo?!”
“H-hell if I know! Maybe he ate some rocks when he was under the rubble or something?!”
While the exchange was going on, a change occurred in Tarawo’s body.
His gigantic, dark red body turned white and shrank.
Tarawo shook his head, struggling to hold in the pain. In front of him, Itsuki seemed to have recalled something.
“Oh, now I remember…”
Maïga turned to her, Itsuki held up her index finger.
“So Sir Asley said… ‘When Tarawo is in trouble, have him drink this. It’s only good for five minutes, so be very careful about when to use it.’ …I think.”
“Ah?! THAT’S IT?!”
With Tarawo let out another pained scream, Maïga realized…
His voice had turned back to what it used to be.
A sound similar to breaking glass, only lower and muffled, resounded through the vicinity, and Tarawo’s body was wrapped in a blue blanket of light.
And when the light dissolved – and when the afterglow faded from the eyes of the two – what appeared was… a Chihuahua.
Itsuki and Maïga looked on, eyes agape.
Tarawo looked at his own paws, he felt disoriented by what he had only recently started to get used to: the size of the world.
Itsuki and Maïga burst into a unified laughter.
Both of them pointed at Tarawo with one hand and slammed the ground the other… which naturally got a stern look back from the latter.
“Hahahaha! So, you still wanna fight, huh?! You’re gonna lose, though! Hahahahaha!”
Itsuki held her mouth and belly, while Maïga raised an uproar with his laughter.
And because of all the ruckus, Hornel, Tifa, and Natsu finally woke up.
“…How did… the Black Double Dragon just…?”
“What happened here?”
Regardless of how the three were quite uncomfortable, what with them not being able to keep up with what had happened, Maïga did not stop laughing.
“…I don’t understand.”
As Tarawo looked down, Tifa stood up and approached him.
Her gaze was as harsh as ever, but her expression was tinged with a slight bit of doubt.
“What happened, Tarawo?”
Hearing his Master’s voice, Tarawo looked up.
Wounded face, worn-out clothes, but still standing – seeing that Tifa was fine, what with how she was towering over him, Tarawo heaved a deep sigh.
“Nothing, Tifa. Nothing at all.”