So it turns out that stumbling along through the woods with a pair of swollen nuts is about as fun as it sounds, which is to say: it sucks. I'd been wandering around for about an hour now -- not all that long, normally, but in this situation it seemed like an eternity.
First of all, I was just /tired/. It'd been a while since I'd gotten any sort of restful sleep -- being knocked unconscious didn't really count -- and my whole body was definitely the worse for wear. At times I barely felt strong enough to stand up. I guess it made some sense...after all, for the last several days my leg muscles had either been chained down and unable to move, or else seizing in pain.
Secondly, I wasn't getting any less hungry, as my stomach kept reminding me. I'd happened upon a single berry bush earlier on, which provided about half a mouthful of food...enough to keep me going, but certainly not enough to satisfy. Besides, dragons want meat! I mean, I would've settled for a nice garden salad at this point, but I was still dying to sink my teeth into something a little juicier.
Of course, those were both just minor problems when compared to the two hanging between my legs. My balls continued to throb with every step I took -- and that was when I was cupping them in my claws. When I /wasn't/ cupping them in my claws, I couldn't take more than a few paces with them bouncing back and forth between my thighs before I had to stop, lean against something, and moan for a minute as I waited for the pain to dissipate.
Obviously, the going was slow.
Lemme tell you, staggering around with a pair of aching nuts really makes you think about the design for a minute. Honestly...why on earth would you ever put something that sensitive in a place that vulnerable? I mean, they're hanging outside the body, with absolutely no protection, nothing to stop a kick or a slap or a squeeze. The legs are basically a built-in targeting system -- even if the girl kicking you has horrible aim, your thighs'll guide her right to the target, and once her foot's up in your spuds it's all over. I suppose they're orbs, at least -- that makes it a little more difficult to trap one in place and really crush it -- but that's hardly a relief when a single blow can already drop you to your knees. It doesn't make any sense. I mean, you'd think that the males built like that would gets their balls bashed in -- a couple kicks or knees from an angry girlfriend -- and then pop, no more offspring, no passing the bad genes on to the next generation. It had to be some kind of evolutionary freak accident that things had ever gotten this way.
Anyway, as you can probably tell, I had a lot of time to dwell on this as I made my way slowly through the forest, hoping to come across something I could actually hunt. Not that I was sure how I'd actually be able to hunt with both hands around my ballsac, but I sort of figured I'd make do. Somehow.
Finally I stumbled across my opportunity: a traveler, alone in the woods. He was a tiger, sprawled out next to a tree, his pack set down on the ground a few feet away. My mouth watered at the sight -- he wasn't huge or anything, but he was definitely a decent meal. I wondered for a moment if he was asleep, but as I watched he picked up a twig and twirled it briefly between his fingers before setting it down again, glancing up at the clouds. Just stopping for a rest, I suppose, I thought to myself. Well then, I'd better interrupt before he starts moving again... I was already behind him, in a prime position to strike, and as far as I could tell he hadn't seen me yet. Perfect. I crept a pace or two closer -- slowly now, making sure not to alert the tiger of my presence. Once I had a clean shot I moved into a crouch, preparing for the strike. I flexed my claws, grinning, and sprang--
Of course, the prospect of a warm meal had already made me forget about the baggage between my legs. As I jumped, I was brought sharply back to earth by the sensation of my scaly pouch flopping against my thighs, its tender contents crying out at the sudden abuse. In my surprise, I couldn't help but let out a short grunt -- a grunt that made the tiger turn his head, sighting me as I leapt from the brush.
I'm not sure whether to blame myself for my own distractedness or to commend the tiger for his lightning-fast reflexes, but one way or another he managed to dodge my initial attack, my claws just brushing the fur on the back of his neck as I passed by. Dammit, I thought to myself, landing on the grass a few yards past him. The element of surprise was gone -- on top of which I was feeling a bit queasy -- but I was not about to lose my chance at lunch. I grit my teeth and tried to ignore whatever madness might be going on downstairs. The way my balls were bouncing inside my sack was less than pleasant, but I managed to shake the feeling off and focus on the task at hand.
I turned and caught sight of my target again. The tiger had fallen over when he dodged my leap, and was now scurrying backwards in a frantic sort of crab-walk, a panicked look in his eyes as he tried to put more distance between us. I couldn't help but grin -- he was obviously mine. I was faster, stronger, built for the hunt; I was the predator and he was the prey. It felt good to be back in a position of power, after everything I'd been through. I'd been victimized quite enough, thank you -- now it was time to win the fight for a change. With a sharp-toothed grin I looked down at the male, then dove forwards, claws outstretched.
Unfortunately, I hadn't quite caught on to what it was the tiger was doing. Just as I jumped I realized that he'd been scrambling away for a reason: he was trying frantically to fetch something from his traveling pack. I was in mid-air, a split-second from the kill, when he finally managed to find what it was he was looking for: a quarterstaff. At the last possible moment he wrenched it free and, without looking, stabbed blindly upwards...
...directly into the center of my left nut.
What followed, unfortunately, left as deep an indent on my brain as it did on my poor gonad. I was helpless to do anything as I felt the entire momentum of my jump focused into that one point in my groin, my left testicle crushed into my pelvis, completely skewered by his staff and my own massive weight.
The next thing I knew I was on my hands and knees, dry-heaving and clinging to the edge of consciousness. The ground swirled in front of my eyes. I couldn't feel anything from the waist down -- all feeling seemed to stop at my groin, where the sickening nausea that currently dominated my entire body was strongest of all.
I was faintly aware of the tiger coming to crouch beside me, placing a hand on my back. "Whoa." Even he himself seemed a little in awe of what had just happened. "You, uh...you alright?"
My mouth had been opening and closing silently for a few seconds now, but I finally managed to settle on some sort of high-pitched whine...which I'm pretty sure would have been a full-throated shriek, if the wind hadn't been knocked out of me. Slowly I toppled onto my side, my claws moving shakily to cover my tortured plums, or at least whatever was left of them. Through the blinding pain I couldn't even make out if there were two orbs, or one orb, or any at all, for that matter.
"My nuts," I squeaked softly. "My...my nuts!"
Understanding slowly dawned on the tiger. "Oh fuck, is that where I hit you?" He frowned. "I was wondering how I managed to take out a big guy like you."
"My /nuts/!" I repeated for a third time, in barely more than a whisper. It was almost as if my body had been frozen in place -- I couldn't find the strength to scream, or to clutch myself, or to start thrashing in agony. I was just stuck motionless as the pain continued to crawl its way through my abdomen.
"You look like you're going into shock," said the tiger concernedly, looking at my covered groin. "Here, let me take a look and make sure you're alright."
Honestly, I'm not sure I was really hearing anything he was saying. My brain was already more than occupied trying to process the flood of pain signals coming from my mangled dragonhood. I hardly noticed him nudging my legs apart with his staff -- not that I had the strength to resist him even if I'd wanted to. Instead, all I heard was a sharp intake of air.
"Oh...god. That's..." The tiger seemed momentarily at a loss for words, simply gazing at the swollen mass between my legs. "What, um...what size are your balls /usually/?"
I finally managed to summon the breath for a proper moan. "/Unnnnnngh/!" My claws scratched feebly at the earth, trying to find some outlet for the agony in my groin. "Oh, my fucking nuts..."
"Yeah, uh..." The tiger bit his lip. "Well, I mean, the good news is that they both still seem to be there. They're just...they're very swollen."
At this point I still wasn't paying much attention to the smaller male...at least, not until he used his quarterstaff to give my gonads a quick poke. I shot upright, bending double around my brutalized berries. "What the /fuck/?" I squeaked, rocking back and forth as I fought back the urge to vomit. "What was that for?"
"Sorry!" he said immediately, taking a step back and putting his paws up. "Didn't mean to hurt ya, I was just making sure you were intact."
I didn't have the energy to argue. Instead I just sat there and moaned, my entire world focused on the fragile beans between my legs. "Ohhhh fuck!" My family jewels had been kicked, punched, stomped, squeezed, slapped, crushed, and now stabbed, and all I could do was stand there and take it. (Well, not "stand", exactly. Crumple to the ground squealing, more like.) What the hell was next?
The tiger looked on with a concerned frown for a moment, watching me tremble in agony, when suddenly his eyes lit up. "Oh wait, I know!" He rummaged through his bag for a moment, pulling out a bottle filled with some kind of white paste. As I watched he walked over to a nearby tree and ripped off an oversized leaf, then coated one side with the liquid, leaving it glistening and wet. "Here we go."
"What...oh god...what are you doing?" I coughed, still mostly out of it. Oh fuck, my fucking /nuts/--
"Helping you, hopefully." He looked up. "This is an anesthetic -- if you hold this leaf against your crotch, it should numb the area after a minute or two. It might help with the pain." He held out the leaf. "Try it."
In any other circumstance, I would have been more suspicious, but honestly, at this point I was willing to try anything. I took the leaf and eagerly pressed it to my bloated ballsac -- of course, a little too eagerly, making me bend double as I bumped my badly-busted junk. In my state, even light taps were now starting to feel like full-force kicks. I shuddered to think what a full-force kick would actually do to my distorted gonads.
To my pleasant surprise, however, I felt the pain slowly start to ease away. It wasn't that it was disappearing entirely -- there was still that low ache in my gut that underlies every blow to the balls -- but it certainly took the edge off. It no longer felt like I was about to die...or rather, it no longer felt like my spuds were about to burst at any second (if they hadn't burst already). It was a welcome feeling after everything I'd been through, even if the numbness was a little disconcerting. I gave my sack a cautious poke and hardly felt anything. Well, I thought, this stuff might have been useful to have earlier...
Of course, with my body no longer feeling like my very dragonhood was threatened, my attention swung back to another pressing topic. As I opened my mouth to thank the tiger, I was interrupted by a loud growl...from my own stomach.
"Geez." The tiger's eyes were wide. "I, uh...I'm guessing you're hungry?"
"Uh." I frowned. "Yeah."
"Hmm. Well, I ain't got a lot of food, but sounds like you could use it more than I could. Here." He pulled another bag from within his knapsack, loosening the knot to reveal a modest spread of fruit.
Again, I didn't need a second invitation. I gobbled it down in several mouthfuls, savoring the taste for just a moment before letting it all slide down my throat. It wasn't a lot, but in my state, it was enough. "Mmmph. Thanks."
Now that I was no longer starving or keeled over in nutpain, though, the situation seemed a little stranger. What exactly was this guy up to? I mean, dragons weren't exactly friendly with other species. In fact, at the moment I wasn't really friends with anyone besides Opal...and that was a friendship worth having, if you know what I mean. Why would someone else want to be nice? I watched him bend over his knapsack once more, repacking the objects he'd taken out.
"Um..." I cleared my throat. "Why are you being so nice?"
"Sorry?" he asked, turning.
"Why are you helping me?" I repeated, suspicious. "I mean...you know I was trying to eat you a minute ago, right?"
"Does a guy need a reason to be helpful?" He leant on his staff. "Listen, I know what it's like to be nailed in the nuts -- I couldn't just leave you here clutching yourself. Wouldn't be right. Besides," he added, "I figure maybe if I'm nice to you now, someone else is nice to me later down the road. Karma and all that."
I growled. "Well...thanks, I guess."
"Don't sweat it," he replied. "It's basic decency, right? I mean, I'm not here to kick somebody while they're already down."
I tried to ignore the various painful images that the word 'kick' conjured in my head.
The tiger gave another look at my scaly scrotum and shivered. "Gods...from the way you hit my staff, I'd say you're lucky to have anything left down there."
I could think of plenty of words to describe my situation right now, but "lucky" was not one of them. I let out another groan, glancing down at my groin. God damnit. I recalled once having a pair of oval organs hanging between my legs -- two big, heavy dragonmakers in my scaly green sack -- but what was there now looked more like one ugly lump. The only real indication there were two separate spheres at all was that my left nut had now swollen even larger than my right one.
He was right, though. They were both there, if a little...bent out of shape. That was something, I guess, after all I'd been through.
"...Yeah," I muttered. "They've been through a lot recently, so I guess I should be thankful."
The tiger looked up. "Hmm?"
I gritted my teeth. "It's, uh...it's sort of a long story. You probably don't want to hear it."
"I'm listening," he replied. "I'm in need of a rest, and I doubt you'll be moving anytime soon, so why not?"
I thought for a moment. Eh, what the hell. "A-alright, then. See, it started with this orca chick..."
I proceeded to spend the next quarter-hour explaining what had happened to me over the past few days -- /everything/ that had happened, from the orca, to Opal, to the note I'd discovered this morning. I figured if I was gonna get my dragonhood smacked around, I oughta at least get a good story out of it. Retelling the story, it sounded almost ludicrous how much abuse my balls had taken. I almost wouldn't have believed it myself, if I hadn't been holding the proof (very gently) in my claws.
"...and that's why I'm wandering around out here," I finished, biting my lip. "Because I'm hungry and because there's a psycho who wants to see me with crushed nuts."
"Shit," murmured the tiger. His paws had involuntarily moved to cover his own crotch over the course of the conversation. "That's rough. How do you...I mean, I'm surprised you're not...Why didn't they--"
"Why didn't they pop?" I finished for him, shuddering at the thought. "I'm not totally sure. Us dragons are built to last, and I guess that includes my testicles, but I'm as confused as you are. It certainly /feels/ like they should be broken." I weighed the twin eggs in my claws for a moment, relieved for once to not feel any pain. Thank god."At the very least, I think I'll probably be shooting blanks from now on."
"Oh, don't be so sure," the tiger reassured, glancing down at his own groin self-consciously. "They're pretty resilient little guys, as long as you don't lose 'em entirely."
I raised an eyeridge. "And you would know about this how?"
"Personal experience." He gave me a sheepish look. "There was, uh...there was this pantheress girl growing up who had a thing for blasting me in the nuts...I think it was her way of flirting or something. She'd sneak up and nail me any time she had the chance -- kicks, squeezes, whatever she could get away with. She used to tie me to a chair with my nutsack hanging over the edge and use it like a punching bag." I could see him grimace at the memory. "There were a couple of times when she hit me so hard I had to stay in bed for a few days to let the swelling go down. I thought for sure she was going to ruin me some day, just pop them by accident."
I frowned -- despite the numbness, my nuts had begun throbbing anew in sympathy. "Ouch. Sorry. I, uh...I hope everything's still operational down there."
"Well that's what I'm saying -- I've got a son now, so apparently she didn't bust 'em up too bad. I can still remember the feeling of that black paw slamming up into my crotch, though..." The tiger shuddered. "Sometimes they just start aching -- I think it's because of her."
"Yeah, I know what you mean. Sorry for bringing it up."
He shook his head. "It's not a problem. I'm not complaining -- I mean, I haven't had 'em stomped flat like you have."
I cringed. "Yeah, and I hope you never do." I gave myself a cautious fondle, still not feeling any pain from the numbed area. "Thanks for the medicine stuff, by the way. This is the best I've felt since before this whole thing started." I grunted, rolling my left nut between finger and thumb -- I figured that as long as I could handle my gonads without doubling over in agony, I might as well make sure I really /was/ in one piece.
"Heh -- I had a hunch that stuff might work." He grinned. "Seemed appropriate, anyway."
Something in his tone made me curious. "Why?" I asked, as I switched to inspecting my right nut, satisfied that the left one was still in some kind of orb-shape.
"Oh, I bought it off a potion-maker a couple miles back -- it's made outta dragon spunk, apparently." He laughed. "Probably the best thing for your balls, right?"
No...it couldn't be.
"You, uh." I cleared my throat. "You...didn't happen to buy that off of a female frog, did you?"
He blinked. "Yeah, actually...damn attractive, that one. Why, you know her?"
"She's the frog I was talking about!" I exclaimed. "The healer! The one who was fuckin' bouncing on my balls!"
"Wait...you mean you were boning that?" The tiger's jaw dropped. "Gods, you lucky thing! Hell, that practically makes the nut-crushing worth it, don't you think?"
I wasn't sure I agreed with that statement...though I wasn't sure I entirely disagreed, either.
"Actually," the tiger continued, voice dropping low, "if you want the truth, the reason I stopped here was because I couldn't get her out of my head. I was planning to...well, y'know." He gestured vaguely at his crotch. "Relieve some stress."
An image of a naked Opal wrapped around my cock flashed through my head, my shaft twitching weakly at the thought. Can't blame him.
"So wait," he continued, furrowing his brow. "This is...yours, then?" He held up the medicine bottle, filled with some kind of milky-white solution.
Ooh. "Um...apparently." I blushed. "Sorry if that's awkward."
The tiger thought for a moment, then shrugged. "Eh, what you gonna do. At least I know it's fresh."
I shook my head. "Where did you see her? If you could point me in her direction, that'd be wonderful."
The male thought for a moment. "Well, I met up with her about two hours ago. I dunno exactly where she was going, but she was headed north, so that's probably your best bet to find her."
I was already climbing to my feet. "Excellent. Listen, I hate to cut things short, but I probably oughta head after her as soon as I can."
"Don't worry about it." He grinned. "Good luck, eh? Be careful with those nuts of yours -- I'm sure that frog chick would want 'em still working when you find her."
I winced, but chuckled. "Yeah. Thanks so much, for everything. Safe travels!"
And with that I was off -- northbound.