“Hey, Zero, are you sure this is the right way?” Agnis asked. She was trailing behind him through the thick forest.
Zero was in his human form, pushing away the bushes and leaves to the side. Unfortunately, he could not tell if it was day or night; everything around him was dark, making it hard to traverse the thick forest. Luckily for him, his eyesight was not poor, so it made traveling easier for him.
“If he said it is, it is,” M2 spoke. Then, he quietly stepped over the fallen log with light steps.
If Zero didn’t know any better, they would make a perfect candidate in Ninjitsu. But, honestly, lately, he noticed they were becoming more ninja-like every single day.
“Zeraph, say something!” Agnis shook him by the shoulder.
Zeraph sighed and brushed her hands off his shoulder.
“He just shrugged me off.”
“Well, he does that.” Zero replied. “Now, stay quiet and follow. How long are you going to keep making a ruckus? Do you want monsters to find us?”
“I am not making a ruckus. We’ve been walking for hours. I swear we just saw that rock a moment ago.”
“For crying out loud, that’s a rock. All rocks look the same.” Zero grumbled. The way back to the Draconis Village took much longer than he expected. “Blame the damn fog; it’s been like this since we entered this part of the forest. The sky boat pass is not working correctly.” He shook the small stone in his hand, peeved. Of all times for it not to work, it messed up now.
“It is just illuminating its stupid light and not doing anything.”
“Your pass isn’t broken, is it?” M2 asked. He peered over his shoulder. “Maybe that’s why?”
“No, I just got this one made. Zeraph, try yours out.”
Zeraph nodded and pulled out a stone. It, too, just brightly illuminated, doing nothing. He shook his head.
“This makes no sense at all. How are we here underneath the Village when nothing is happening?” Zero fumed. He was ready to throw it into the ground, frustrated. “For once, I wish I had wings just to fly there.”
“That would be a great help, wouldn’t it.”
“It’s the fog,” Zeraph spoke. “Something is causing interference for the light to reach Draconis Village.”
“Like?” asked Agnis.
“Is that even possible?”
“Why not? This whole world is fantastical.”
“True…We should then find the source of the fog.”
“That’s easier said than done,” said Zero. “If only we could see without stumbling in this thick fog. We can barely see two feet ahead of us. I’m surprised that we haven’t lost each other yet.”
“Don’t jinx us,” hissed Agnis. She knocked on wood to counter the superstition.
Sheesh. She’s afraid of superstition at such a time. Zero shook his head in disapproval.
Two months and three weeks have passed since the Draconis Library left the City of Diadem. For the past months, Zero had diligently worked on leveling with the other dragons and helping in construction. They weren’t much to do but that, and so far, they had succeeded in rapidly building a solid foundation for the city walls.
The Village was still prone to aerial attacks and wasn’t considered the best defense against ground attacks. However, it would do fairly well in keeping the monsters from entering the Village without destroying what they had built.
“How is the magic barrier coming along?” Zeraph asked. “These past few days, the number of monsters coming through has been quite numerous.”
“Not so good. It’s barely holding. I don’t think it will last until the end of next week. After that, it might fall in a couple of days.”
“That’s not good.”
“You’re telling me. I’m worried that the higher-level monsters might swarm us when the city settles. What’s worse is that the time in flight has decreased by another hour.”
“I suspected as much when the Draconis village didn’t go back up yesterday.”
“It’s that bad, huh?” asked M2. “It usually had a barrier around it from the start?”
“No, it never had one.”
“Really? That’s news to me. I always thought it did.”
Zero shook his head. “I would love it if the barrier stays up for a year. I just don’t know if it’s even possible. Without the emergency survival mode, I never thought such a thing was possible. This game surprises you every minute.”
“Ah, I see. Then have you looked for the source that’s powering the barrier?”
“Well…” Zero went quiet. He did not want to completely spill out the truth of what was keeping the barrier up. In truth, his own Krustallos was powering the magic barrier, and he noticed that the Krustallos itself was slowly losing energy. Even though the Krustallos was part of him, he knew that the constant amount of energy being poured out would not continue forever.
From the amount of power left, he expected that the barrier function of the Krustallos would only hold up for another two days. After that, it needed to rest to replenish its energy. The problem was he needed some kind of extra source that would replenish energy depletion quicker.
Zero noticed that leveling up over time did stall the time of the barrier function from collapsing. His being around level 185 made the barrier last another two days. He wasn’t so sure if it was because he was just too young or not old enough to keep the barrier lasting a bit longer. This was something that he hoped to figure out one day.
Right now, the main priority was finding the source of the fog and getting back to the Draconis Library. Unfortunately, everyone already lacked space in their Zenith bag and was almost out of the necessary items to continue hunting.
“What’s that sound?” M2 twitched his ears; he turned his head towards the sound and stopped.
“What’s wrong?” Zeraph was next to him, glancing around.
“There is something out there, and it’s big,” M2 spoke with a low tone of voice.
“Isn’t there always something out there?” Agnis asked. “We have been fighting monsters non-stop, you know.”
“Yes, but something caused the ground to rumble.” M2 squatted down and touched the forest floor. “There are over a thousand small pounding feet plus one large one heading towards our direction.”
“What?” Zero exclaimed in alarm. That were way too many monsters heading toward us. For just the four of us, it would be a very difficult battle four of us, especially because we didn’t know what level or type of monster they were.
“This isn’t good. They will be here in less than fifteen minutes.” M2 got up. “We either need to find a place to hide or run for it.”
“If we do run, which way?” Agnis asked. She was searching for a possible escape route, but all she saw was the thick fog that hindered their view.
“Hiding is the best option, and we let them pass,” M2 spoke. He was climbing high into the trees.
Zeraph followed right behind M2. He began to scale the tallest tree that was next to him.
“You’re kidding me,” said Agnis as she looked upwards.
Both Agnis and Zero picked a tree and began to climb. For Zero, climbing trees was no problem at all, but on the other hand, Agnis was having a lot more trouble climbing them. She, out of the four, was the slowest to climb.
“I-I-I’m not g-good with heights,” Agnis called out.
Zero leaped towards the closest tree and made his way to Agnis. He clicked his tongue and shook his head. Then, reaching out to Agnis, he pulled her up. “This is not going to cut it, Agnis. You need to get over your fears as soon as possible.”
“It’s not easy, you know.” Her teeth were chattering in fear.
“Don’t look down. Just look at me and climb.” Zero climbed up ahead and stopped. Every time he climbed a few branches, he would extend his hands to help her. Other times, she would make leaps and bounds in climbing up the tree, and most of the time, she would shake and stop.
It took a lot of patience for Zero to help Agnis climb up the tree without both of them falling. They finally reached the highest point possible and sat down.
“Took you guys long enough.” Zeraph came over and leaned against the tree.
“Yea, Agnis was having trouble with heights again.”
“You need to get over your fear of heights, Agnis. How are you going to fly with Zero if you are scared?”
“I-I-I’m going to strap me down.” Agnis was hugging the tree, not wanting even to let go.
“That’s not going to help if you have aerial battles.”
“Until then, I’m not moving. I’ll think about it then when the time comes.”
“Let’s give her a break. She did well coming up here.” Zero gently smiles at Agnis. For someone who feared heights, she did well in choking back her fears and climbing up here.
“Shhh.” M2 came over and pointed downwards. After that, everyone became silent and watched whoever was coming in their direction.
“Damn it!” A male voice called out in anger. “How many soldiers have we lost?”
“Thirty, sirs. If we stay longer, we will lose a lot more.” A soldier with Kingdom of Terra’s crest on his chest spoke.
“What’s causing this wretched fog!” The man slashed down at the plants in front of him.
“We expect it to be a monster of the lakes. This area is known for the guardian of the lake to cause the fog.”
“At this rate, we’re going to lose the dratted Lizard and the Royal Library.”
“But, sir, until the monster goes back to sleep, we won’t be able to find it.”
“I know!” The man kicked the tree in anger. “We’re going to kill it now.”
“Sir?” The soldier shouted in shock. “You’re going to hunt down the guardian of the lake? That’s a bad idea.”
“Why not? The king gave our mission priority. Are you going to go against his wishes?”
“Then we hunt it down now.”
Zero was surprised that Russ had made it out here in the forest for them to make it all the way here to come and kill him. The thought of Russ attempting to take the Draconis Village infuriated him. It was not just his home anymore. It has become home to many species, especially the Drezo Regalias.
“Isn’t that Russ?” Agnis quietly spoke. Her eyes were staring at Zero with a surprised expression. “Why is the king after us? Did we do something wrong?”
“No. It’s just Russ that’s been causing trouble.” Zero whispered to her.
Hundreds of soldiers walked past them without even looking up once. Zero was glad that even in the game world, people did not have the knack for looking up.
“What’s that sound?” Russ called out to the soldier that was always next to him.
“I believe it’s the guardian of the lake, sir.” The soldier’s voice squeaked in worry. “Sir, I suggest that we do not disturb the guardian.”
“I’ll kill you if you say another word.” Russ’s aura dangerously erupted around him, shutting up the soldier.
Crunch! Crack! Kathump!
Trees and plants began to fall to the sides. Something was coming straight towards Russ’s groups. Whatever it was caused the trees to break and splinter apart. The heavy sound of footsteps breaking through the made everyone freeze with worry.
“What’s causing that sound?” The soldiers called out in worry. They looked around them, wondering where the sound was coming from. The loud echoes of the trees falling around them became louder and louder.
“Ahhhhhh!” The sound of screaming could be heard throughout the forest. Each was dragged into the fog as if they were being swallowed up.
Zero stared with wide eyes; he searched for the whereabouts of the unknown enemy. The soldiers were all being whisked away in rapid succession.
“Keep formation!” Russ called out. “Move together forward!”
While Zero was watching the scene before them, he did not see something sneak toward his neck.
“Zero!” Zeraph’s hands were at his waist, and he drew his sword. Then, in a flash, the tendril wrapped around Zero’s neck fell.
“What?” Zero gulped. He raised his hands, wondering what almost got him.
Out in the fog, a tendril whipped towards Zero. Zero jumped forward and grabbed onto the nearest branch. One of the tendrils grabbed Agnis’ hand and pulled her off the tree.
“Agnis!” Zero dropped to the lower branch and jumped towards her. Then, like a monkey, he swung from branch to branch.
M2 and Zeraph gave chase towards Agnis, trying their best to grab hold of her as well.
Through the thick fog, Agnis was pulled downwards. “Help!” She was continually dragged downwards until she hit the ground. Then, like a scene out of a horror movie, she was pulled into the darkness.
“What the hell?” Zeraph ran forward, jumped upwards, and came downwards with his sword. With a slash, he cut the tendril in half. Then, grabbing Agnis’ hand, he quickly pulled her onto her feet.
“Thanks.” Agnis brought her hand up to her face. She gently rubbed it, trying to get rid of the pain. “I thought I was a goner.”
Zeraph quickly pulled her in into his arms. His sword strike is upwards, cutting the black tendrils that came towards Agnis again. “No time to thank me. There is more coming.” He looked out towards the retreating tendrils.
Zero finally made it safely down, and M2 followed closely. They were slightly out of breath from the hurried step-down.
“Agnis, you okay?”
“Yea, thanks to Zeraph.”
“Get back!” Zeraph jumped backward with Agnis in his arms. His sword was quickly blocking the attack of the tendrils that were attacking them both.
Zero pulled out his sword in hand and attacked. “It keeps coming back. We need to kill the source!”
“I don’t see the body anywhere.” M2 was hopping from one tendril to the next, chopping each like sushi.
At that moment, the fog slowly cleared up. A large crystal clear lake was open up for everyone to see and in the middle of the lake was a fairy-like being the size of a human. Her lower body was a mix of a water plant that floated on top of the water.
Hundred of green vines erupted from the waters and shot toward Zero’s group. Zero dodged out of harm’s way before he could be caught up in the vines. His sword slashed outwards, cutting down any that got in his way.
M2, Agnis, and Zeraph all split ways, trying their best to dodge or cut down the vines that were trying to grab them.
Level 215. All other information was not able to be identified.
“Hellllllp!” A dozen soldiers emerged from the fog and were dragged toward the lake.
“I can’t move!”
Agnis rushed in to save the soldiers coiled around the monster’s vines. She hacked and slashed all around her saving them from death.
“Agnis! Why did you save them?” Zeraph hissed. He was giving her the death glare.
“No, they’re data, and you just saved your soon-to-be killers!” Zeraph jumped and stabbed the vine into the ground before it could trap him. “If you don’t understand what you’re doing, you will get all of us killed.”
Agnis scowled at Zeraph’s words. “You don’t understand the concept of a life.”
“I certainly do. I like mine, and I will keep it that way.” Zeraph ran forward, and instead of helping the fellow soldier being dragged in by the monster, he went in for a strike.
“That’s Zeraph for you.” Zero came up next to Agnis. “He does have a point.”
“It’s your choice. I’m not going to say anything about it.”
“So, are you going to help me?”
“That’s a matter of opinion. I’m going to kill the monster so we can get out of here. If I save someone, so be it, but my priority is not the soldiers. As Zeraph said, they are enemies.”
Agnis sighed; her sword was up to her as she slashed downwards, cutting the vines in half. “So be it.” She ran in to save a soldier’s life.
Zero was in a dilemma, he agreed with Zeraph, but at the same time, he knew that helping out the NPC could also bring in a favorable outcome. Right now, he scraped the thought out of his mind and instead focused on the Swamp Fairy.
“Holy Wrath!” Agnis yelled, her blades skidding across the vines and upwards toward the Swamp Fairy’s body. A blazing trail of holy fire followed after burning the monster in seconds.
“I suggest that we aim for the weak points. At this rate, we won’t do any damage to the Swamp Fairy.” M2 spoke. He dashed in and struck multiple times. The vines that were encroaching were shredded in seconds.
“There is a crystal in its chest!” Zeraph jumped up onto a thick vine that shot at him. He ran towards the Swamp Fairy at full speed. “Dance of the Lotus!”
A lightning-fast attack erupted from his blade, cutting in a flower pattern. Small chunks of the plants were scattered around Zeraph like a lotus petal as it drifted down onto the ground.
“Beautiful swordsmanship as always.” M2 chuckled in happiness. He jumped up onto an anchored vine and ran up its side. “I do suggest it to have more power behind it.” Then, like a storm, M2 carved a bloody magical seal over the Swamp fairy’s body.
Boom! An inferno raged around the Swamp Fairy, incinerating all her vines in seconds. She screamed an aching pain and huddled over into a fetus. M2 jumped off the Swamp Fairy and landed perfectly next to Zeraph.
“See, something like that would be considered a lot better. On the other hand, I’m positive I took a good chunk out of its health.”
“Nope.” Zeraph shook his head. “You just pissed it off. So now you’re the target.”
“Gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaak!” With a high pierced scream, the Swamp Fairy let out a painful scream that made everyone in the vicinity have a temporarily stunning effect placed on them.
“Good luck in keeping it off your back.” Zeraph slapped M2 on his back and ran the opposite way away from M2.
The Swamp Fairy’s lower half was merged with plants and burst apart, showing a horse’s body.
“How the hell is that a fairy?” M2 dodged and ran around the Swamp Fairy. “It’s like a chimera.”
Bursting out of the woods, Russ and his army came out with swords in hand. First, they stared at the strange monster in front of them. Then, while they were temporarily dazed, the Swamp Fairy ran over and bulldozed through them like a bowling pin.
“Kill her! Don’t let her survive!” Russ shouted. He pulled back his horse reign just in time before he got trampled on.
The soldiers rushed in with their swords and pikes. They slashed at the Swamp’s Fairy legs, trying to slow her down. But, with every step she took, many soldiers flew to her dangerous hooves. Then, a burst of energy formed around her hands as all the vines around her formed into a scythe-like weapon.
Spinning the scythe over her head, she let out a powerful burst of attack that pushed everyone back into the threes. Both Zero and Russ landed not too far away from the sudden attack. Russ got up and noticed Zero not too far away from him.
“I’m sorry. I don’t know you.” Zero shrugged it off, pretending he didn’t know him. “Good luck with surviving.”
“Stop! Kill that guy!” Russ shouted and pointed towards Zero.
“What? I did nothing wrong.” Then, feigning Innocent, Zero got up.
“But, sir! The monster is going to kill us if we pursue it!”
“Then kill them both, but make it your priority to kill him. He’s our mission. The sooner we kill him, the sooner we can go home rewarded!”
All eyes turned to Zero with hatred and greed in their heart.
“Damn.” Zero mumbled. He eyed them wearily. He was not liking how it was becoming a three-way battle.
“Out of the way!” M2 shouted, running between Zero and Russ like an arrow.
With thundering footsteps, the Swamp Fairy ran towards him with its deadly scythe in hand. With a swoop of her scythe, ten soldiers were cut in half. They all dropped dead onto the ground.
Without thinking, Zero bolted right behind M2. He was not going to fight head-on when the condition of his life was not good at all. Turning into a dragon was also simply out of the question; the problem was that the space to fight in the forest was cramped enough. A giant body blocking half the place made it much more challenging to fight.
“You’re not going to butt heads with him?” M2 spoke with a light heart. Both of them were jumping and dodging all the soldiers that were blocking their path.
“You’re kidding me, right? I don’t think this fight is in our favor. It’s better to live another day and come back.”
“Kuhuhuhu. A strategic retreat, huh?”
“There is nothing wrong with running away. However, I was not taught to fight to be heroic. I was taught to survive, and that’s where my specialty lies.”
“People will think you are a coward.” M2 side-stepped out of harm’s way from the soldier’s sword.
“Let them. There is more than one way to win a battle.”
“Kuhuhuhuh, you never cease to amaze me.”
What was truly strange was that both M2 and Zero were having a light-hearted conversation in the middle of the battle. Naturally, this made the soldiers uneasy, thinking that Zero and M2 were not taking them seriously.
“You blockheads, what are you conversating in the middle of a fight?” Agnis jumped in; her arrows fired one after the other. Each hit perfectly in the sweet spots that swords could not reach.
“Oh? It seems Agnis had switched sides and killed the soldiers instead of saving them.” M2 spoke with delight. “I thought you would continue with your attacks. I enjoyed watching you help out.”
“Not the time, furball. Everything changes when they are trying to kill you.”
“I see. I see.”
“I told you so.” Zeraph appeared next to Agnis like a ghost. “You should’ve listened when I warned you what would happen.”
“I will do what I want and how I want. So far, the one I have saved has not sent a single arrow to my back.” Agnis scowled.
Zero’s group continued to try to make their way through the thick groups of soldiers, blocking them at every turn, but at the same time, the Swamp Fairy continued to crash into the army. Luckily, this caused the army to be split into two. Two-thirds of the soldiers were busily fighting off the Swamp Fairy, while the other third was blocking Zero’s group.
“Don’t let him escape!” Russ angrily spat; he rushed forward but was blocked by the Swamp Fairy many times. It was like the Swamp Fairy did not want them to fight now and instead fight later on.
“Sir! We can’t focus on two simultaneously, or we will be wiped out!” One of the soldiers called out to Russ. Hundreds of soldiers were dying by the minute.
“Damn you, worthless idiots!” Russ cussed up a storm. He raised his sword, and the wind started to blow harshly toward his direction. Everyone temporarily ducked down, hoping not to be picked up by the wind. “Whirlwind of Devastation!”
A blast of strong wind shot towards the Swamp Fairy. The Swamp Fairy momentarily stopped and twirled its scythe around herself like a fan. The rotation of her spin caused the attack that Russ shot to be partially dispersed while the rest hit her body.
Small cuts appeared all over the Swamp Fairy’s body, causing her to bleed. Her temper flared again, and this time she struck downwards with her scythe causing the ground to split apart. Soldiers were caught up in her attack and fell into the hole.
“Sir! We need to kill it now, or we will all die!”
“I know!” Russ shouted, and he kicked his horse to go towards the Swamp Fairy. He jumped off his horse and onto the Swamp Fairy’s back when he got closer. Then, with his red sword, he stabbed into the Swamp Fairy’s back.
“He takes stabbing people in the back literally, doesn’t he,” M2 chuckled at his jokes.
Zeraph, Zero, and Agnis were boxed in, trying to make way for all of them to escape.
“This is no time for a joke, cat.” First, Zeraph smacked a soldier with the butt of his sword. Then, he lunged forward, taking down another in seconds.
“I know, but I just wanted to say it once.” M2 ducked downwards and rolled forward. He sprang to his feet and slashed. “Though these annoying flies keep coming one after another.”
“This way, you guys!” Agnis cleared a path for them to slip through.
At that moment, the Swamp Fairy screamed, letting out its stunning howling effect. But, unfortunately, everyone was not ready for the unexpected scream and was stunned.
Shaking his head, Zero stumbled, almost falling to his knees. Agnis and Zeraph stopped him from falling forward and helped him back to his feet.
“I hate it when it does that.” Zeraph spat in disgust. He turned around towards the Swamp Fairy and did something unexpected.
When the Swamp Fairy again opened its mouth to let out a bone-chilling scream, Zeraph threw a spear that he picked off the ground and flung it as hard as he could. The sword flew and impaled itself at the throat, silencing the Swamp Fairy in seconds.
“Nice shot.” M2 chuckled. “I don’t want to get you mad for sure.”
Even Zero gulped when he saw Zeraph throw that spear; he thought he was only doing it out of desperation. He did not expect the spear to hit its marks, especially because they were far from the Swamp Fairy.
“No time to gawk. Let’s get out of here now. The bird brain over there will probably pick it off. We don’t want to stay here when it falls-“
Zeraph’s word was cut off, and the Swamp Fairy fell face forward onto the ground.
You have leveled up.
Not good. Zero glanced over his shoulder and saw Russ pulling out his sword from the Swamp Fairy’s back. “Move!”
All four of them picked up their pace and sprinted into the forest. They did not stop nor look back anymore and instead continually ran.
“Did we lose them?” Agnis was out of breath. She slowed down and leaned against the wall.
“I don’t know.” M2 twitched his ears. “I don’t hear any movements still. It’s like the forest drowns out their steps.”
“Then we need to keep pushing forward.” Zeraph retorted. “At this rate, we might even be leading them to the village itself.”
“Then what do you suggest lose them?” Agnis asked.
“We can split up and make it back to the Village,” M2 spoke. He was chewing on sweet grass.
“It could work, but that’s cutting our small band in half. Compared to the thousand he has under his fingers, it would be lambs to the slaughter if we get caught.”
“Kuh, this is a lot more difficult than I thought.” Agnis was shaking her white hair as it trickled down when she got up.
“We should take a bet on split-“
An arrow whizzed past Zero’s face stopping him from saying anything further.
“Shit, they are here.” Zeraph let out a snarl. “I was way too hopeful that we lost them.”
Everyone bolted in the opposite direction, away from the Draconis Village.
“Catch him, you idiots! It shouldn’t take so long to catch one boy!” Russ screamed. The horse that he was riding was coming up fast toward Zero.
Zero jumped upwards towards and tree and launched himself off of it. With his hands on his side, he pulled out his sword at Russ in seconds. “Gotcha, you bastard!” He hissed. His sword was stopped short by Russ’s sword. Grabbing onto the horse’s holster, Zero yanked the horse to the side, causing Russ to lose balance. They allowed Zero to kick Russ off his horse.
“Damn you!” Russ cursed as he fell onto his back. The trampling of the other horses almost pounded him to his death. But instead, he rolled out of harm’s way just before one of the horse’s hooves slammed near his head.
“That’s more like it.” Zeraph pulled out his bow and shot an arrow at the head. The soldier fell dead, and Zeraph grabbed the fleeing horse. With a leap, he jumped onto the horse bringing it under control.
M2 was dashing around the bushes and prancing forward, knocking a soldier off a horse. This gave him a chance to spring after the horse ran away.
On the other hand, Agnis was having difficulties keeping a group of soldiers that surrounded her. As a result, she did not get a chance to knock a single soldier off their horse.
“Agnis!” Zero spurred the horse forward. He reached downward for her to grab his hands.
Zeraph shot arrow after arrow right behind Zero, keeping the soldiers off Zero and Agnis simultaneously. Agnis grabbed Zero’s hands, but something hit Zero hard in the back at that moment. He felt his soul being forced out of his body in seconds.
“Zero!” Agnis pulled herself up and sat behind him. She caught him before he fell off the horse. “Zeraph! Something is wrong with Zero!” She was frantically pulling Zero forward and trying to keep the horse under control.
“Keep moving!” Zeraph continually shot arrow after arrow behind him. There were times when he looked like he was doing acrobatic shooting from the strange position he was in. He was also trying his best to dodge as many arrows himself.
Zero felt a cold shiver as the world around him slowly turned black. He remembered this strange, cold feeling of being pushed out of his body. All he could do was fight to stay conscious, but the darkness took him in one fell swoop.
The Draconis Village was in an uproar. The villagers inside the Draconis Village could tell that something was seriously wrong. The whole Village shook and slowly descended downwards towards the ground. Voices of concern could be heard throughout the whole Village.
“What’s going on? It’s not supposed to go down yet?”
“I don’t know, but this is not good.”
“Did something happen to the village?”
“Is the flight magic over?”
“That can’t be. We only have two more days till we reach the City of Elements. We already passed the Kingdom of Leafe a month and a half ago. Is it possible the magic here is different?”
“That’s not possible. It wouldn’t make any sense at all.”
Garrett came out of the Amphitheater and walked toward the edge of the Village. Off in the far distance, he saw the City of Elements not too far away, but they still had a long way to go. His old bones told him something was up with the Draconis Village itself; the only solution he could think of was the Krustallos that Zero had put into power in the Village.
“Garrett!” A Lunar Rabbit ran forward towards him in a hurry. “Garrett, you must come quickly! There is something wrong with the Dungeons!”
“What’s wrong?” Garrett turned around in worry.
“Silver beetles are coming out of the Red Dungeon in swarms! I had never seen this before. We fear it would eat up the volcanic soils and break this Village apart!”
“What?” Garrett ran towards the Red Dungeon. “Anything else that you found something strange?”
“Yes, there is also an influx of disaster happening to the baby dragons.”
“What do you mean?”
“You need to see it for yourself.”
With worried steps, Garrett ran as fast as his old bones could take him. When he came to the entrance of the Fire Dungeon, he saw a chaotic event unfold before him. Swarms of Silver Beetles came out of the dungeon, chasing the baby dragons out.
“What the hell are you brat’s doing! You need to eat them!” Valiant roared. He was seething in fury as his black scales shimmered magically, creating a surreal atmosphere of an evil black dragon. He grabbed one of the Queen Silver Beetles in one swipe and stuffed it into a red baby dragon’s mouth. A large group of baby dragons was running around, trying not to get bugs.
“Kill it! Kill it!”
Reed, Valiant’s partner, ran up to him and tried to stop him. “Valiant, you’re being too rough! You’re scaring everyone away!”
“This is the only way; can’t you feel it? There is something seriously wrong with the Draconis Village. We need everyone strong enough to grow now!”
“But forcing them is not going to help.”
“This is how Zero did it, and I’m only partaking in his wisdom.”
“Look, everyone else is doing it the same way.” Valiant pointed out toward the seven other large dragons. They, too, all experienced the same thing that Valiant had gone through, and it now has become a tradition to force-feed the baby dragons in one fell swoop. So they had no time to think or react but to eat it when the Silver bug entered their mouth.
“What going on?” Garrett stared, confused.
The baby dragons that were forcefully fed all began to steam. Then, everyone who ate the silver bug began to run rampant. Small fires, tornadoes, earthquakes, rain, and a terrifying howl could be heard throughout the group.
“What-” Garret held onto an edge of a boulder that helped keep him grounded. It was truly a terrifying scene of clashing elements in one single area. The chaos before them made every one of their companions shudder in fear and worry.
“What did you do?”
“Someone save my friend!”
“You fool, we don’t know what’s going on!”
“Get back!” Valiant roared. His mouth was smoking with black fire. “You don’t want to be caught up after the blast.”
“Young dragon!” Garrett pulled himself next to Valiant, who seemed to be unfazed by the predicament that they were in. The other seven did the same and just waited patiently.
Valiant turned towards Garrett. “Who? Oh, you must be Garrett.”
“I am. What’s happening here, young dragon?”
“My name is Valiant. They all are going through rapid growth. Zero and all of my friends have gone through the same process.”
“Zero?” When Garrett heard Zero’s name, his ears twitched. “He went through the same process? I do not understand what you are saying.”
“Look, there is something seriously wrong with the Draconis Village. All of us dragons can feel it in our bones. We don’t know what, but it’s not good at all. The Queen Silver Beetles also had a sudden explosive growth. At the same time, we felt this strange feeling. This allows us to feed the baby dragons these bugs.”
“These silver bugs help you guys grow?” Garrett moved his monocle up from falling and picked up a Queen Silver Beetle.
“I wouldn’t touch that if I were you.”
“What do you-!” A swarm of smaller Silver Beetles came after him, and Garrett dropped the bug onto the floor.
“Only dragons that have eaten the Queen Silver Beetles can touch them without being swarmed. This is the safest way to do this without the baby dragons dying.”
“I see.” Garrett wiped his monocle that dangled on his chest. “Are the baby dragon’s going to be alright?”
“Yes, look, they are already complete with their transformation,” Valiant said, satisfied.
They were fifty dragons the size of a horse, but Valiant and his group were still a lot bigger than the rest by a good foot.
“I feel sick.” A red dragon was stumbling around; he looked ready to barf.
“Keep it in.” The bold voice gave out a dangerous growl. “This does not mean you guys are invincible. On the contrary, if you want to grow as big as Zero, you must train harder!”
“You already know we only have two days before we reach the City of Elements. But, unfortunately, something big is going to happen soon. If we don’t get ready, we will all die in the next two days, possibly losing our home.”
The words stung the newly evolved dragons and their eyes furrowed with darkness. They did not want to lose their peaceful home. In actuality, they were hoping that the blissful days would continue, but instead, the stirring of trouble awoke their primal instinct.
“Bring me more baby dragons!” Then, like a tyrant, Valiant roared.
Garrett stared at Valiant strangely at the predicament before him. Valiant was strangely persuasive. Even Garrett was ready to go and capture a couple of baby dragons himself but stopped himself from doing something that was not in his character. However, the other Lunar Rabbits listened to Valiant’s words and went to search for other baby dragons.
“You sound like a monster.” Reed quietly worded next to Valiant. “I’m starting to think you’ll gobble them up like those grim fairy tales.”
“Hardly; I’m just feeding them bugs.”
“That’s even worse.” Reed twiddled her fingers and shook her head when she glanced up toward Valiant.
“Bah, it’s just one bug.” Valiant brushed off Reed’s words.
“I’m not sure if all your dragons are right in the head anymore. You’re eating bugs like it’s some kind of treat. I wonder if you’ll start eating monkey’s brain or bull’s testicles next.”
“Hyuck.” Valiant face turned green. “I don’t think I’m that adventurous. Please don’t say that again. It just made my stomach go 360.”
“What monkey’s brain or bull’s testicles turn your stomach but a bug doesn’t? You don’t know they are considered delicacies in some countries, you know.”
“Please, stop.” Valiant moaned. He was already down on his stomach.
“Wow, you tamed the tyrant dragon, huh?” Sekka came over with a smile. Her gold scales glistened underneath the sunlight. “I expect nothing less from Reed. You seriously know how to keep him under control.”
“Though it seems that Leaf also has you wrapped around his thumb, doesn’t he?” Reed spoke.
“What are you talking about? Me? Wrapped around whose fingers?” Sekka puffed up like a puffer fish. “You need your eyes checked. I think you see things.”
“Sekka!” Leaf called out. A male elf with white hair walked towards her.
Sekka went stiff when he heard Leaf’s voice. “Yes?” She squeaked.
“What are you doing? We need to bring in more dragons here. Are you slacking off again or creating a mess with Den?” Leaf eyed her suspiciously.
“Don’t heh me. Move your lazy ass in gear!”
Like a bolt of lightning, Zekka ran towards the Village.
“Sorry about that. I hope she didn’t cause any trouble.”
“Not at all.”
“Well, then it’s time to hunt down and drag some baby dragons back here.” Leaf gave a devious smile that made everyone around him uncomfortable.
“What is with you and Valiant on kidnapping baby dragons?” Reed mumbled and sighed.
“Did you say something?”
“Well then, I’m off.”
Reed waved him goodbye.
“Miss, you must have a handful with your friends,” said Garrett.
“Yes, I do. Though Valiant here makes me want to have an extra pair of hands to keep him in place.”
“I feel like I’m the only sane one here.”
“I’m not so sure.”
“Well, you see, you handled Valiant quite….uh….how should I put it…well?”
“Why does that sound like a question instead of a compliment?”
Garrett chuckled. “Nothing. Nothing at all. Everything seems to be fine here. I shall be going now.” He quickly left behind the group of dragons and made his way toward the Draconis Library and towards where the Krustallos were located.
With quick steps, Garrett made his way towards the Krustallos situated inside the crystal flower in the attic. He could see a dim glow of black and gold, gently beating like a heartbeat inside. Straining to see the Krustallos, he noticed the faint glow. It was not like its usual bright light that brightened up the room.
“What’s going on?” Garrett tip-toed, trying to get a better look. “I don’t remember it being so weak before?”
The crystal flower crackled, and six more large crystal petals grew out from the stem, covering the Krustallos even tighter.
“Something is wrong. Something is very wrong.” Garrett worried about the future of the Draconis Village, especially Zero himself.
The drawing for this chapter did not come out the way I wanted. My drawing tablet cord broke halfway through and the connectivity is spiking….T.T. I need a new tablet. Anyways their are two more chapters before the end of the volume. The climax of this arc is about to be over~ Please share and like my story. Comment are appreciated. Also I’m looking for proofreaders if anyone is interested in any one of my three stories.