Pride — Part 2
Editors: Sebas Tian, Speedphoenix, Joker
“Do not get ahead of yourself, mongrel,” said the dragon. “For your petty tricks shall not defeat me!”
The strength of the explosions I had hammered him with had left him bloodied, but they hadn’t finished him off, so he assumed that my attacks were unable to prove fatal. As such, he decided to ignore my traps. He flapped his wings and dove straight at me. He was moving much faster than he was before; he shot through the air like a bullet. His newfound speed was obviously a result of his rage.
Though he was fast, speed was all he had going for him.
“Oh yeah,” I smirked. “You might want to be careful of invisible walls.” There was a splat the moment after I issued the warning. The dragon ran face first into a solid wall made up of air around us. He kept flapping his wings as he thoughtlessly rushed through it, but the shock had rattled his brain and caused him to veer off course.
Technically speaking, I hadn’t hit him with a trap. Rather, I had used a feature the dungeon called “Hardening.” Hardening was normally something that was meant to be used on walls, floors, and ceilings of boss rooms. Its intended purpose was to harden their surfaces and allow the boss to go all out without subsequently destroying the dungeon. But it could be used for much more than just that.
Hardening was capable of functioning on a wide variety of targets. It could work on both air and water so long as I specified the area it was meant to target. I had discovered this aspect of hardening while messing around in an attempt to make the girls an aquarium. I had hardened a block of water in hopes of circumventing the need for an actual glass display case. Touching it, I confirmed that the whole thing was tough as a chunk of concrete, which unfortunately also led to the conclusion that it couldn’t be used for its intended purpose. Fish weren’t exactly capable of swimming in concrete, after all. Not that they could even get inside of the damned thing to begin with.
Long story short, the skill was flexible and could be used for more than just its intended purpose. And that was exactly what I did. I used it to create an invisible wall in midair, right between Fuckface and I. The odd application of the ability made it cost much more DP than usual, so I hadn’t bothered making more than just one. It was the kind of trick I only expected the dragon to fall for once.
The dragon began screaming at me as soon as he recovered from his confusion. He then began channelling an incredible amount of magical energy with all of it centred in his mouth. It seemed like he intended on unleashing the spell that Lefi had shown me the other day, the strongest spell a dragon could use. Its roar.
I knew that his wouldn’t be nearly as powerful as Lefi’s, but I still didn’t want to let it hit me. I would probably die if it landed, even if it only grazed me. With that piece of knowledge in mind, I promptly initiated evasive action, but he kept his mouth trained on me with all the accuracy of a seasoned marksman. He continued tracing me until suddenly, the magical power contained within his mouth detonated.
There was a series of explosions—not a single one of which was orchestrated by the brainless excuse of a dragon. Heat was expelled into his surroundings in the form of fire and air. The aftermath had travelled so far that even I had been affected.
He had once again fallen into a trap, a rare magic-based mage killer that used any and all nearby mana as fuel for its blast. It worked like a grenade chucked at a gas station. The explosion triggered by the dungeon’s defensive mechanism had caused a chain reaction that led to his own magical powers being used against him. The explosion wouldn’t have been anywhere near as big had he not tried to channel his roar.
And that was why I had made him shift his aim. The goal I had in mind had been to get his mouth close enough to the trap to pop it. And the gullible idiot fell for it.
Getting smacked around by the manchild had taught me something important: he wasn’t actually well versed in the art of battle. He was able to act incredibly quickly. His attack power was through the roof and he could cast spells so quickly he made the entire process seem trivial. But that was it. He was a bundle of raw stats, but that was all he was. His attacks were simple, and he had all the spatial awareness of a headless chicken.
Long story short, he was a terrible fighter. He was so lacking in skill that he wasn’t able to put down someone that was many, many times weaker than him. He was everything Lefi wasn’t. The Supreme Dragon had accompanied me on a hunt whilst in her dragon form on just a single occasion. And yet, the way she fought had burnt itself into my mind. The acts of violence were performed with such finesse that I couldn’t help but think of them as beautiful. She carried herself with such grace that I almost couldn’t believe my eyes. She had demonstrated that she was truly deserving of her title as the strongest member of this world’s most powerful race. Never would I forget the magnificence that was the Supreme Dragon, for it had etched itself into my soul.
I knew that Lefi was an exception, a special entity that existed far outside the norm. But even so, I had expected more out of the Potatolord. He was a member of her race. He was supposed to be the king that presided over their people. And yet, compared to her, he was nothing. He may as well have been a vegetable. His title came off as exaggerated bullshit, a label slapped onto a weakling for the sake of irony. I would have been long dead had he even the slightest bit of martial skill. That was just how high his raw stats were. Only now did I truly understand why Lefi had seemed so confused when she learned of his title. He didn’t deserve to be the Dragonlord. He couldn’t have possibly earned the title of king through legitimate means. There had to have been some sort of external factor that had played into his ascension.
The smoke caused by the explosions cleared as I contemplated my opponent’s abilities. And there, I saw him with his body covered in burns. His eyes had rolled back in their sockets; he was unconscious. I knew dragon was super effective against dragon. Using his own magic against him was a great idea. Alright, here’s my chance!
I knew that I wouldn’t be able to inflict any significant damage if I just ran up and started trying to whack him, so I drained the rest of my DP in order to set a series of traps in his vicinity. But his eyes spun back around right as I started. Shitface had regained consciousness.
He roared. He roared a bestial howl that no longer contained any semblance of meaning or intelligence.
And then, he lunged at me. He turned towards me and flew in a straight line without any regard for his surroundings. My traps pelted him with attack after attack, but he didn’t stop.
I clicked my tongue and leapt to the side to avoid his charge, but a magical energy signature appeared right where I landed. The earth in front of me burst in an explosion and launched me into the air.
His claws closed in from above.
It didn’t matter how hard I flapped my wings. I couldn’t escape. I had no choice but to allow him to smack me back into the ground.
I coughed up even more blood as my body was assaulted by the impact. It hurt so bad I could see sparks. But I couldn’t afford to let my momentum carry me. I couldn’t afford to allow my pain to control me. Because, as I tumbled, I saw. I saw his fangs close in and threaten to tear me limb from limb.
A lack of action would result in death.
I manually activated a nearby trap, one that caused a giant iron pole to pop out of the ground. The impact threw him off course and allowed me to just narrowly avoid his jaws. They were so close that I could hear the gnashing of teeth as they closed literally right by my side. I rolled to get a bit further away from him so he couldn’t follow with another bite, only to sense even more magic.
I clicked my tongue and immediately dragged my unresponsive, battered body into the air by flapping my wings with all the power I could muster. A moment later, the place where I stood was pierced by dozens of pitch-black spears.
The shitlord’s actions were even faster than they had been before. It was almost like he had used his anger as a battery, like he had clocked himself up in order to operate at a higher voltage. He had shifted gears. At the battle’s onset, he had been a cat, and I a mouse. But now, he was a tiger, a tiger using all of its might to hunt its prey. Damn it. I wish I took him out while he still had his guard down. Honestly, though, I kinda figured things wouldn’t all go according to plan.
He turned towards me and once again tried to close in. This time, he spouted fire from his mouth as he gave chase. What the fuck!? Is this asshole supposed to be some sort of titan? Like Godzilla or something!?
I dodged the flames by using my wings to move myself through the air. The fireballs weren’t as deadly as a roar, but they were still dangerous in their own right. Each projectile was superheated by an incredible amount of magical energy, and the rate at which he could fire them was outlandish. He didn’t care that I was dodging them. He continued to shoot a veritable bullet hell’s worth of fireballs right at me. Shit. I gotta do something. He’s either going to burn me or catch up if I don’t figure something out.
He continued to pop trap after trap as he chased me, but the retarded dragon didn’t care. Some of them hit him hard enough to momentarily stop him in his tracks, but he would also resume charging at me the moment he regained control.
I was fast.
But even though I was slowing him down, he was faster. Though he looked like nothing but a bony winged lizard, he was still a member of the race that ruled the sky. There was no way I could match him in his own realm. He was slowly but surely closing in.
Without any further delay, I took a sudden turn in order to combat my disadvantage. I started to go straight up and ascended with all the vigour of a zealot attempting to reach the heavens. Shit for brains naturally followed without considering the consequences, only to scrunch up his face as his eyes were greeted with the sight of the sun.
Fuck yes! Dragon or not, looks like staring into the sun hurts your eyes, don’t it? Too bad you aren’t any brighter than your scales, huh?
I spun around the moment he flinched and began diving straight at him.
He desperately tried to launch a fireball at me, but I avoided the late reaction with a flap of my wings. I raised my arms, swung Zaien, and shouted as we crossed paths.
I landed a heavy blow. I could feel the impact run up my arms as I delivered a cut that ran all the way from the tip of his jaw up through one of his eyes. Blood flew everywhere as he roared in pain and agony. I kicked the bastard to give myself enough momentum to wrench Zaien out of his flesh and immediately tried to open up just enough distance to avoid a counter.
Though I knew of his inexperience, I failed to account for it. He flailed. He literally flailed around randomly in pain. And as a result, his tail slammed into my side in the middle of my retreat. I hadn’t braced myself for the unexpected attack, so I was sent flying into a tailspin. I tried my best to regain control of my body, but I couldn’t.
The pathetic excuse for a dragon noticed my dilemma and immediately dove after me. His jaw drew closer. I couldn’t correct my posture. I couldn’t dodge.
He got me.
His jaws closed on the left side of my body and took off both my left wings as well as my left arm.
I groaned in anguish as blood gushed from my wounds.
Though I needed to balance myself, I couldn’t. I was rendered incapable by the fact that I was missing half my wings, so I fell from the sky and smashed into the earth below.
And for a moment, I seemed to black out.
My mind went hazy. The scene I saw, the sky above, almost seemed blurry. Like I couldn’t quite make it out.
“Master! Master!!” But Enne called for me. Her voice was desperate, dyed in panic. And because it was so different, it allowed me to focus. I used it as an anchor to get a grip on my consciousness and keep it from fading.
“Thank goodness,” said Enne with a sigh of relief. “You’re still alive, Master.”
I craned my neck downwards and gazed upon my body. My left shoulder and everything attached to it was gone. And although my right arm was still present, it refused to move. It was almost like it wasn’t mine anymore. It wouldn’t listen to me no matter how hard I willed it to act.
Both of my left wings had vanished. The midair encounter had torn them from my body. Like my right arm, my right wings were broken. I couldn’t get them to function. And that was just the start of it. My whole body was fucked. There wasn’t a single part of me that was unharmed. I had endured so much damage that I couldn’t even feel the pain anymore. The only good news I had was that both my legs were still functional.
I was as ragged as an old dishcloth. My body was so riddled with holes that I might as well have been dead.
But I wasn’t.
I was still alive.
I could still fight.
“Don’t move, Master! You can’t! You’ll die!”
Enne desperately tried to stop me, but I laughed off her concern.
“Sorry Enne. But I can’t stop now.”
I turned my glance towards my sworn foe, only to see a sight that put a grin on my face. He was hurt. The sorry excuse of a man was rolling around on the ground, roaring over and over as the wound, which almost seemed negligible compared to my own, inflicted waves of supposedly unbearable agony upon him.
Pathetic as he was, the man that had declared himself my enemy was still alive and well.
And so was I.
The duel had yet to end.
I was a demon lord. I could take plenty of punishment. Though I had suffered many an injury, none were so debilitating that I was rendered incapable of continuing. And knowing that both my enemy and I still drew breath was all I needed to push myself to fight.
Through force of will, I wriggled over to Zaien in a manner reminiscent of a caterpillar and used my mouth to grab her by the handle, the handle that had been smothered in crimson, dirtied by my blood. I poured my remaining strength into my shivering legs and got to my knees.
And then, I stood right back up and began to advance.