The man sat back down as another, closer still to the boy, stood up. He had a fork in his hand, which he angrily and repeatedly stabbed into the table, creating a dull thud noise. With his free hand, he reached to the lid of the next platter, licked his lips and and lifted it with vigor.
Thousands of fire ants and glowing scorpions and hairy black spiders flowed out across the table, like a terrible clattering avalanche of legs and pincers and stingers. The boy squealed in fright and backed up against the wall as they came toward him. He shook and curled up in a ball as they overcame him. The raven cawed in a manner that sounded like horrible gleeful laughter. The boy yelled and swatted at the insects and arachnids but it made no difference. They covered every inch of him and scurried in a frenzy over his body.
"Are you afraid of the creepy crawlies?" the raven screamed. From the raven's gaping beak, snakes slithered out by the dozens and joined the bugs on the boy. They coiled and slid around him, hissing their tongues and rattling their rattlers, and squeezing their bodies about him.
The dragon swooped in, and a purple flame spilled forth from his mouth, in an attempt to clear away the insects. His efforts were valiant, but futile, and they did not stop coming.
"Are you afraid?" the raven screeched.
"Don't be!" roared the dragon, as purple flame erupted from its nostrils and mouth. "You are brave! And I am here."
The boy cried out meekly and curled up tighter.
"You are afraid!" the raven said in triumph.
"No, he is brave!" the dragon boomed. "Be brave young one!"
"I'm not afraid!" the boy screamed from beneath the pile of creeping creatures. The man slammed the lid down in frustration, causing the spiders and ants and scorpions and snakes to disappear.
The boy stood up, shivering. The dragon flew over and perched itself on the boy's shoulder.
"You are very brave," he said. "You mustn't give in."
"I won't," said the boy.
"We will feed," the raven cawed. "That I assure you."