The Binding Cycle of Life and Death — Part 1
“Last warning, assholes! If you don’t want to die, then get the fuck outta my way!”
I was on Rir’s back, swinging Enne around as I mowed through the enemy lines like a bowling ball through a set of pins. I could tell that the lessons the sword saint had taught me had sunk in, even if I had only spent a day under his tutelage. My attacks were more effective than they had been just a few weeks prior. It was like my body had suddenly developed the ability to discern when and where I needed to strike.
My other pets were in the area as well, rampaging about to their hearts’ desire. Orochi was using his massive serpentine frame to destroy the empire’s troops, garrisons and all. Their buildings literally meant nothing to him. Riding his back was Wsprit, who was healing him whenever necessary. Yata was attacking with wind magic while also providing intelligence and informing us of all the enemies’ whereabouts as he scouted on ahead and led the charge. Byakku was using her illusion magic to mindfuck everyone that got too close, all but ensuring that we were uncontestable.
It wasn’t as if our enemies were simply sitting around and doing nothing, of course. They were sending their own monsters at us and using their bows to snipe at us from various tactical positions, but the resistance they offered was moot. We were far too used to fighting the Wicked Forest’s monsters, and compared to them, the Rogardian monsters were fragile, weak, and negligible. Their levels were so low that I could easily dive into a mob of a hundred and walk out unscathed. Likewise, the snipers were useless too. Their arrows basically couldn’t hit us because Byakku’s magic was making it so they never knew where we really were.
Another issue that hindered them was communication. It almost seemed like their human and demon corps were moving separately. They were engaged in separate battles as opposed to working together to resolve the larger issue at hand. Meh, whatever. Sucks for them, but works for me.
“Don’t falter! It doesn’t matter if we can’t take them down or hurt them! Just charge! Stall for as long as you can!”
“This battle is the battle that decides the empire’s future, men! Stand and fight!”
But they continued to push back, regardless of how little it mattered. Come on, guys, just turn tail and fuck off already…
I wasn’t exactly interested in wholesale slaughter and I wanted to minimize the amount of blood Enne spilled. But our foes were far too invested in the war to flee. They stood their ground and fought to the last man.
Because we had already leapt over their outermost walls. The conflict between the alliance and the coalition would come to an immediate and decisive end if they allowed us to advance any further.
They still had lots of men standing by, but nowhere to deploy them. Oh, by the way, funny story. The alliance’s plan was originally supposed to involve sneaking in and getting the front gate open, but Orochi was kinda like, “Naw b, I gotchu,” and plowed his ass through the whole goddamn thing. Soooo yeah. We kinda ended up skipping that step. ‘Cause yeah, dude’s so fucking massive he’s pretty much a mass-based weapon.
“I can see why Phynar declared you as this army’s greatest force,” said the king of the beastkin, with a wry smile on his lips.
Apparently, his name was Valderoy Gallad, and he counted as a Lionkin. Seeing Rir had evidently impacted him on an emotional level, though he wasn’t as moved as any of the warwolves. Lyuu’s people went totally batshit the moment they saw him. But yeah, either way, dude’s pretty much looking at Rir like he’s an actual fucking god or something. Goddamn though, Rir’s always popular as shit. I mean, I get it, he’s a total fucking badass, but still. Anyway, here’s to hoping all my other pets eventually end up reaching deity status as well.
“Thing is, we’re pretty much limited to shit like this, where we can just destroy whatever. We’ve got shit for brains when it comes to tactics and staying under the radar and whatnot,” I said. “Oh yeah, that reminds me. Aren’t you a general or something? The hell are you doing out here, on the front lines?”
“We are similar, in a way. My tribe is one of warriors, warriors that know of nothing but battle and bloodshed. Speaking of, I believe we’ll be able to gain full control of the capital in another three days, at this rate. The gate’s destruction means that we’ll be able to bring in our main forc—”
Rir reacted with a sudden growl, cutting the beastkin king off midscentence. It was followed by a loud bark, one of warning.
“Rir? What’s the matter, boy?”
A growl prompted me to direct my gaze down at the earth below.
I took a peek at my map, which my evil eyes had filled in for me, and confirmed that the layout was suggestive of some sort of underground facility. Whatever the empire had just unleashed was likely it’s secret weapon. There was no other reason why Rir would be so on guard.
“Is there something wrong?” asked Valderoy.
“Rir’s saying he’s sensing a huge surge of mana. Something strong’s coming. Be careful and stay on your guar—”
An earsplitting, screeching howl cut off my words, followed by the rumbling of the earth; the entire capital seemed to suddenly start shaking.
“It’s… finally happening! The next phase of the operation begins now! All men, retreat! Retreat to the designated point!”
“Get the hell out of here! Stat!”
The coalition’s human commanders began yelling at the top of their lungs, screaming for an evacuation even though they had been unwilling to yield just moments prior.
“What’s going on!?”
The only ones left behind were the alliance’s men. And the coalition’s demons. Wow, yeah, so about that suspicion I had? Looks like shit’s even worse than I thought. The demons don’t even know what the plan was supposed to be to begin with.
“This isn’t looking good,” I said. “You guys should get ready to get the fuck out ASAP.”
“We will. What will you do?” asked the lion king.
“I’ll do a bit of scouting and see what the fuck we’re up against! Don’t bother worrying about me, I got this!” I shouted. “Yata, which direction did that roar come from? Lead us there!”
Ditching the monarch and his men, we dashed towards the source of all the commotion.
The roaring, which almost sounded like one of sorrow and heartbreak, didn’t stop. And along with it was a sound akin to that of a building being toppled. Is something trying to get out from underground? If it is, it sounds like it’s literally destroying its way up…
Yata soon confirmed my suspicions with a caw, informing us that something was emerging from the earth.
Leaping off Rir’s back, I formed my wings and flew up to where Yata was so I could get a better look at whatever it was.
And see it I did.
It was something that could have never occured in nature.
Its boney body was cobbled together with parts from various other creatures. Dark red veins ran along its skeletal frame pulsing, as if it was being fueled by the beating of a heart it didn’t have. Dark balls were in its eyesockets, replacements for the rotten organs. And stuck in its skull, right below its two dragonlike horns, was a sword.
Race: Undead Dragon
Class: Forbidden Idol
Lord of Death
“You’ve got to be fucking kidding me…”
My brow was drenched in cold sweat.
The Hadean Helldrake? Wasn’t that the legendary thingamajig the spirit king said he killed? I remember Lefi mentioning something about it fucking up some necromancy and turning itself into a crazy zombie that wanted to eat people or some shit like that.
I was, for a moment, tempted to claim that it was in the same class as Lefi, given its aura, but then I realized that while it was impressive, it didn’t seem nearly as oppressive. It didn’t have the sort of pure power that I expected from a living calamity, and it was likely something in the catastrophe class instead.
But that didn’t change the fact that it was still leagues above me. That part shouldn’t have come as a surprise. The creature was once a dragon, and its titles made it seem far more impressive than the dragon that had assaulted the elven village. I had no doubt that it was the enemy’s secret weapon.
I couldn’t help but start to wonder if the war was fought so that the Rogardians could conduct some sort of crazy revival experiment.
From what I could tell, it didn’t look like they had very good control over the beast.
It was focusing too much on destroying the buildings in its vicinity to bother attacking the alliance’s army. In fact, it seemed like the only thing left in its head was the urge to destroy. I was fairly certain that its mind was literally non-existent.
Well, if I’m going to run, this is probably my chance.
It was the type of monster that I’d normally ask someone else to handle. It was just as powerful as the monsters that lived in the Wicked Forest’s western subregion. The right choice to make, if I wanted to follow through on the promise I made to Nell, would be to retreat. I had no intention or obligation to put my life at risk for the allies’ sake.
But I also knew that the alliance would find it nearly impossible to defeat the monster. Sacrificing every man they had would only give them a fighting chance, and a tiny one at that. Even a retreat was unlikely to succeed. They were sure to lose many in the process. Not to toot my own horn, but Phynar said it first. We’re the strongest guys the alliance has got. If we dip, they’re pretty much fucked.
I guess I’ll just have to do it…
Wait a second.
A certain thought came to mind as I considered the situation.
Though already dead, the foe I was up against was a legendary dragon. The dragons were the undisputed rulers of the skies. Matching them was impossible.
Unless you happened to have a divine spear.
Following the line of thought to its end, I reached into my inventory and retrieved a shoddy-looking bone-based weapon.
One I’d gotten from a certain old dragon.
“Really would’ve preferred to keep this goddamned thing locked up forever, but… here goes, I guess.”