Nell’s Predicament — Part 2
Editor(s): Joker, Speedphoenix
In short, Tortund Ruin’s power came from the abnormal rate at which it grew. Unlike most other cursed weapons, the greatsword was insatiable. Its endless appetite allowed it to gorge itself on an infinite amount of negative energy, all of which would be used to fuel its own growth. The blade had a parasitic property to it as well. It could drown its wielder’s mind in bloodlust and insanity, force them to go on a rampage, and use the resulting massacre to, again, further its own development. And if that wasn’t bad enough, it even possessed an ability that allowed it to grow even faster upon consuming higher quality prey. The blade wasn’t considered a calamity class disaster just yet, but it was only a matter of time.
“But it isn’t all fun and games,” said Phynar. “The wielder has to pay a price. Normally, that means they go a bit loopy, but I don’t think that’s what happened to Gojim. He was too rational.” The demon realm’s king frowned. “I think he’s letting it eat his life force. And with how long he’s had it, I doubt he even has another ten years left in him.”
“Enemies willing to sacrifice themselves to achieve their goals are always the most troublesome,” said Reiyd.
“They certainly are,” agreed Phynar.
“Then… was his objective to consume Our flesh?” wondered Napholahz.
“I think he wanted to kill us if he got the chance,” said Phynar. “But you were probably his primary objective. You’re history’s strongest elven monarch. Feeding you to Ruin is sure to make it grow.”
“If he sees Us as an ingredient to fuel his growth, then he has severely underestimated Our prowess,” said the queen. “It is a shame that We were too distracted by his presence to catch onto his ploy.”
Her gaze was directed towards the dragon patrolling the skies above her homeland. A single glance was all that was required to see that it was a member of the undead. It was mostly made of bone. The bit of flesh that remained was in the process of peeling off its decaying animated carcass. The way its eyes, which were sunken into its head, moved around in search of prey was clearly unnatural.
The barrier concealing the village was the only thing preventing the dragon from finding the settlement. The alliance had already confirmed that the creature was sure to come swooping down the moment anyone stepped out from within it. Fortunately, the initial investigation had concluded without any casualties. The scouts had managed a narrow escape back inside the barrier.
But that wasn’t to say that no damage was done. Catching sight of a group of living things had caused the dragon to go on a rampage and completely and utterly demolish a part of the forest. It was clear, from that demonstration, that a great number of sacrifices would be required to take it down. Either that, or an incredibly powerful individual.
“We do not wish to doubt your claims, but it is necessary for Us to ask this of you. Can We truly rely on the aid you have requested to free Us from Our plight?”
“Of course you can,” said Phynar. “He’s at least as strong as you are. He’s even killed a dragon all by himself.”
“If he has truly slain a dragon by his lonesome, then he will be a powerful ally indeed. Slaying a dragon without assistance is beyond the scope of Our abilities.”
“The biggest problem is that we have to hold out until he gets here,” said Phynar. “I doubt this is the only trick the fiends have up their sleeves, and the longer we wait, the more likely they are to strike again.”
“Do you think… Nell’s okay?”
Enne voiced her concerns to Lefi and I telepathically. Her lack of a personified form prevented her from speaking out loud.
“She’ll be fine.” I replied confidently. “She’s been getting a lot stronger lately, both physically and mentally. It’s going to take a lot more than whatever they’re throwing at her to take her down.”
“Of the three of us who have chosen to wed Yuki, she is the one that has been swayed most by his influence,” said Lefi. “She too has grown brazen enough to tackle any challenge.”
“Brazen? What do you mean, brazen? I’m as sensitive and pure as it gets. Even the neighbours have been talking about how innocent I am.”
“If you are to be considered sensitive, then there are none in this world who are not,” said Lefi. “And I do not understand why you speak of neighbors. We have not any neighbours.”
Of course we do. The dragons that live in the Wicked Forest are totally our neighbours, even if they do live a whole mountain range away. We just have big yards, that’s all.
“Okay. If you say so. Then I’ll believe in her,” said Enne.
“Sounds like a plan. Heroes are meant to be reliable, after all.” I said. “Oh yeah, it’ll be a while before we get there, so feel free to take it easy and head to bed. I know you’re tired, seeing as how you spent the whole afternoon playing with the others.”
The sun had long set. Under any other circumstances, we probably would have stayed behind and gotten a good night’s rest before heading out the next day. But these weren’t normal circumstances. We were still in the midst of flying even though it was nearly time for bed.
Neither Lefi nor I really needed as much sleep as we got. It was nice and we enjoyed it, but we both possessed more than enough stamina to pull two or three all nighters in a row without any adverse effects—not that we needed to. Forgoing one night of sleep was enough to allow us to reach our destination in one day.
Enne, however, was not like us. She needed her rest.
“It’s okay. This is important. So I won’t.”
“Thanks, Enne. We really appreciate it, but don’t push yourself too hard, alright?”
“It is not yet time for a confrontation. You would do well to save your efforts for when they will matter most.”
I rubbed her handle, which led her to reply by sending over a series of happy vibes. Ain’t she the sweetest little thing? The answer’s yes, btw.
“We’re going to be depending on you too, Rir.”
An affirmative bark from the ground below confirmed that the wolf was up to the task. I was pretty much sure that everything would go smoothly with Lefi present, but I’d asked him to come as a bit of extra insurance. It seemed like a good idea given how much the fiends liked their schemes.
There was an argument to be made with regards to leaving him behind to ensure that the dungeon was secure, but I was confident it wouldn’t be a problem. I’d armed every single one of the countless traps I’d set throughout the forest, blocked off the door between the cave and the plains, and ordered the rest of my pets to stay in the grassy fields outside the castle, just in case. Moreover, the maids had been given very strict instructions to contact us the moment anything went wrong, alongside a significant amount of authority over the dungeon’s functions should they require them.
“So about that undead dragon,” I turned to Lefi. “I’m guessing you have a pretty good idea as to what’s going on. You started acting up the moment you heard about it.”
“I do.” She nodded grimly. “I am sure you know this well, Yuki, but it is not easy to slay a dragon. As there are so few of us, our numbers experience only one loss every two hundred years. That is, of course, under the assumption that we ignore Gyogarr and the circumstances that led to his demise at your hands.”
“So… you’re basically saying that there are barely any dragon corpses lying around in the first place?”
“Indeed. The lands inhabited by dragons at the end of their life cycles lie far away from the eyes of others. Most pass in solitude,” she explained. “Our affinity for magic leads our bones to rapidly return to the earth. It is not common for us to become undead. But these are different times.”
“The younglings…” I gasped. “So basically, you’re saying that the dragon that got killed is probably one of the younger ones that left Drakenstead?”
I recalled that the old dragon we met mentioned that Blacky Mcfuckface wasn’t the only that had departed—that his friends and followers had accompanied him.
“It is likely,” she said. “And if not, then they have defiled the grave of one who has quietly lived his life to its end.” Her eyes narrowed. “I despise dragonkind. But even so, I find such an act so distasteful it fills me with rage.”
Wow. Not everyday you see Lefi pissed.
Realizing that she was showing a lot more aggression than usual, the dragon took a deep breath to calm herself down.
“If it is truly a defeated youngling who has been raised as a tool of war, then I know that the blame lies only with Gyogarr,” she said. “This would not have happened if not for his influence.”
Sounds about right.
“Well, whatever the case, we should probably end their suffering,” I said. “Seeing as how you clearly hate necromancy just as much as I do, I say we make quick work of it and call it a day.”
“I concur. Let us put this dragon to rest. Whomever it may be.”