Cavenjaal, The Water Dragon
15 minutes before Akira’s arrival…
“Look at that. I’ve never actually tried entering the damn place but it’s bigger than I thought.”
Walking to the bottom of the steps, they could see the hilt of the sword stabbed into the altar.
“Why don’t you try taking the sword?” Connie urged, gesturing towards the top of the stairs with a nod of the head.
Nick shrugged sharply in response. “Me? You must be joking. I know my limits. Someone like me is not suited for the heroic crap.”
“Have to admit I am a bit curious,” Martell added with a brave step forward. But a long, deadly hand grabbed him by the collar.
“Go ahead, Connie. We’ll wait here. You too, Martell. Don’t try anything funny.”
“Come on. I just wanna see what it looks like!”
Connie gave a small laugh and ascended the steps.
Finally, she laid her eyes on the prize.
The Sword of the First King, the cause of strife for the Steelheart family.
It was a magnificent sword. A two-edged sword about 1 and a half meter long with the tail of a dragon carved from unknown metal forged onto the blade. The body of the sword shone blue even without a light source. The hilt and the guard were fashioned after 2 wyverns in flight. Each had a black gem in their eyes.
Sadly, the leather on the handle had long since rotted away from moisture and age.
“Grunford,” she uttered the name with mixed feeling. She did not desire the sword that much, but it was Cornelia’s dream that she be deemed worthy by the sword.
Connie slightly frowned at the decorations on the sword.
When she inspected it more closely, she found a writing carved into the altar.
“Obtain the approval of the Sword and the Dragon. Obtain the Kingdom.”
As soon as she finished reading the words, a bright light came from the altar, blinding her.
When she opened her eyes again, she was no longer in the altar chamber.
Above her was a blue sky. Beneath her feet was a floating rock, just enough for her to stand. And all around her was a lake so clear that it reflected the sky. It was as if she was standing on the clouds.
“A soul domain?” Connie wondered, looking around in fascination. It had been long since she entered one.
“Who dares seek the Sword of the First King?”
A voice came from beneath the waters.
A large webbed claw the size of a house emerged from underwater, sending a large wave that went past Connie without making her wet. The claw was followed by another and the two claws pulled the rest of the body upward, revealing two powerful, scaly arms and body, as big as a small hill. The scales on its body reflected the same color of the sky and two webbed wings covered in barnacles and seaweed spread open as it began to speak.
“I am the Water Dragon Cavenjaal!!”
The dragon’s voice reminded one of the might of a whirlpool. When it opened its mouth, it was so big that it seemed that it could eat a whole house. Its teeth were sharp and many like those of sharks’. Its cerulean blue eyes regarded the small thing in front of it with mild interest.
“As per the contract between the Goddess of Water, I shall allow you to attend the Three Trials of the Goddess. It will test your Wisdom, Strength, and Will. Manage to overcome them and I shall allow you to borrow my power.”
“How dare you…” Connie muttered, quietly at first.
The dragon frowned. He did not expect to be interrupted in the middle of announcing the trial. Especially not this weak little thing before him.
The fascinated, thoughtful expression on Connie’s face disappeared. In its place was a burning fury.
“How dare a mere dragon try to pose me a trial! You dog of the heavens! You trash-eating, self-righteous, slave of the gods!!”
As Wang Tian Gu, Connie had faced many enemies on her path to fight against the heavens. As emissaries of the heavens, dragons are destined to be her opposite. It could be said that if the Heavens were her most hated enemies, then dragons would be the second.
This thing before her was dissimilar to the scaly overgrown serpents with legs she was used to. Only the essence was the same. But that was enough to enrage her.
The hate was ingrained, rooted so deeply that even in this second life Connie could not help but desire the utter destruction of this creature. Cavenjaal felt the irrational hatred that encroached on his domain and quickly enforced his will to dominate the space.
But how could the soul of a dragon who had been sealed in a sword for measly 500 years or so contend against someone who learned the ways of Dharma and Dao from Grand Abbot Cloud Watcher and Daoist Eternally Laughing, whose soul continued to be polished in her never-ending search of the pinnacle?
Yes, if it was purely raw strength alone it would be a hard fight. However this was not a physical fight. This was a fight between souls. 2 souls pitting a war using pure willpower.
Quickly the pure, mirror-like water surface bubbled and turned into blood red. Poisonous Aconitum flowers and various deadly grass bloomed around her feet. Shadows of centipedes, scorpions, spiders, snakes and other nasty creatures crawled beneath the surface as the clouds above morphed into an unsettling formation.
Upon closer inspections, they were not cloud, but insects. Countless flight-capable insects flying in the sky with their wings flapping, brushing against each other, creating a nauseous din. The sheer amount covered the sky until all that was pure and clean were tainted by her color.
All manners of creatures, both venomous and poisonous filled the lake of blood and began crawling towards the dragon.
“W-what is this?!” the dragon’s voice suddenly broke.
“I am encroaching upon your soul domain, dragon! Have you never fought someone capable of fighting against you soul on soul?! Show me your worst!! No longer is this your domain, Cavenjaal! This is my domain!!”
“Who are you?! How dare you sully my domain! Grunford will not allow this…!”
When Cavenjall raised its head towards the sky, it saw something horrifying. It was not the countless insects that scared him. It was the colossal shadow only barely visible beyond the insect swarm.
Its presence shook him to the core. A sense of dread that it had never felt before made it lose control for a second. Yet that second was enough for the insects to crawl up its scales and drowning the dragon through sheer quantity.
The impending crisis loomed near yet there was no reaction from the sword. “H-how could this be?! Does this mean, Grunford approved of this vile human?!”
Connie stepped forward. Aconitum flowers bloomed around her as she did so. “I can’t manipulate souls, but if it’s only devouring souls, it’s easy as flipping my hand,” she raised her arm, commanding the insect to form a tower of dark, gleaming death. By now only a patch of blue beneath the dragon’s form was left of the domain. “Who knows, perhaps devouring you will awaken my loyal servants.”
“Wait! Please! I’m sorry! Don’t eat me!!”
The sudden change in his voice was so abrupt that Connie stopped mid-action. “What is this? That was very different from the voice you used before! You sounded like a boy who just grew past boyhood!”
The dragon bowed down low with an aggrieved voice. “I’m sorry. I was just trying to show off a bit. It has been so long since my soul was trapped in here and I wanted to have a cool Master and Servant relationship with my wielder. You know, like the ones in the stories? How’d I know that the one who woke me is a monster like you?!”
The prideful dragon seemed to be nothing more than a coward. He exists only in the form of a soul. However, the soul of a dragon is strong enough to raise a weapon to a legendary status. Even though without it, Grunford was already a very powerful sword.
“Gah, this ruins my mood. Just shut up and let me devour you. It will be quick!”
“No! Please! Spare me and I’ll approve of you! You can use my power anytime!”
“I would rather die by a thousand cuts than use the power of a dragon!”
“I’ll tell you where the First King hide his treasures!!” Cavenjaal shouted desperately.
“Well, now…” Connie paused, raising an eyebrow. “That is interesting. But still, I need your soul more than treasures.”
“I – I’ll give you part of my soul! And the treasures!!” the Water Dragon looked pitiful as he covered his head with both claws.
Connie rubbed her chin, smiling darkly. “Hmm hmmm…I don’t know…”
“I’ll approve of you! Please, just don’t kill me!”
“Alright…fine. That’s a deal.”
The Water Dragon quickly offered a conch shell, a representation of his soul, in fear of the monster before him changing her mind. It quickly entered her chest and Connie could feel power surging through her as her Poison Core pushed the soul towards one of the orbs surrounding her Poison Core. The one with Sui written on it.
“Soon, my friends. Soon…!”
Still fearful of her, Cavenjaal kicked her out of the domain while she was focused in absorbing her soul.
The cowardly dragon could not be any happier sending her out. The fear he felt just now was much more than the time the First King brought him to heel.
The sword shone with a bright blue light and the Hero could surmise that the sword was getting further away from his grasp.
“No!!” With desperation, Akira finally gathered enough willpower to shout.
The shout made Illumca, Nick and Martell to look towards Akira, but Connie did not. As if she deigned the Hero to be unworthy of her attention. This made Akira even angrier, not knowing that it was simply because no one knew that she was fighting Cavenjaal within the sword.
“Not another step, Sakagami…Akira,” Illumca fired a warning fireball spells at his feet. She did not straightforwardly attack as she was cautious about his abilities. Heroes are known to have unique skills given to them as Blessings by the gods.
“We have sacrificed too much for this to end as a failure!! A life has been lost! And I…cannot fail! Here!” Akira no longer had the same composure and honorable look that he had in the beginning. “Give it to me or we will fight you to the death!”
The rest of Akira’s party finally caught up with him and saw Illumca standing protectively before the steps with fiery butterflies gathering around her. Martell had hidden himself behind a wyvern statue near them as soon as he heard them coming with his sensitive ears.
Kaihaku stepped forward, bowing politely even as the others were a step away from lunging at each other. “Please…this matter involves the safety of the Kingdom. Allow the Hero to take the sword and I will make sure that the King gives you enough compensation.”
Illumca was about to launch an attack, but she was interrupted by Nick’s angry voice.
“Compensation? Kaihaku, you old monk. Have secular life stop your brain from working? This is not about money, or status, or whatever it is that Hero over there is preaching.”
The middle-aged man bit on a pill and crunched it so hard that his gum bled.
“It’s about a promise!! It’s about loyalty! And whatever difference I got with the scary lady over there, I will keep my promise. So come on, you little shits! Ready to get your fucking ass kicked all the way to Sunday?!”