Vainqueur had to give it to the elves. Unlike the manlings, they kept their lairs clean.
Their flying city was a treat for the eyes, with shiny white stone and marble statues which Vainqueur thought would look great on his hoard. He promised himself to return for groceries after recovering his princesses.
Gargoyles with forks patrolled the city's ramparts, unable to see Vainqueur nor the cattle-riding knight. She too had turned transparent, although the dragon could smell her just fine. “The invisibility will trick lesser fiends, but neither Maure nor his elite guard,” Kia the knight whispered. “I wonder why the city is so lightly defended, though. It’s usually so full of demons our spies can’t even approach it.”
“I can smell many fiends nearby,” Vainqueur said, humming and looking for his meal. The flight had made him hungry, and he had gotten used to demon flesh. He flew toward the source of the scent, some kind of flying port, with a great metal bird nesting in the middle.
That was a big, big metal bird.
Many, many times bigger than Vainqueur himself, with great iron wings and iron spikes under them. Demons manned strange devices on its back, which looked like bigger versions of the musket weapon Red the Kobold carried with him. The bird had only one eye made of glass, with fiends and elves hitting it with hammers.
As usual for his puny race, his chief of staff was deeply intimidated by the animal’s size. “Holy hell, they broke the iPad’s passwords. They built a bombardier.”
“It’s not a bombardier, it’s a flying fortress,” the knight said, just as terrified. “It’s bigger than the Titanic! Do you think it’s functional? It looks rough and archaic.”
“Dunno, but we’ve got to destroy it before it takes off.”
Only manlings could worry about a bird. Vainqueur would burn and cook the fiends inside, the same way he prepared his training diet. He lazily opened his mouth to rain death on the big fat bird...
Then his [Virgin Princess Radar] activated.
Vainqueur immediately turned his head towards the source of the signal, in the middle of the city. “A princess!” His eyes widened in giddiness. “A princess maiden!”
“Your Majesty, what the—”
Vainqueur, overtaken by his dragon instincts, ignored the metal bird and flew straight towards the princess’ location, knocking both the knight’s griffon and gargoyles out of the skies. The fiends noticed him as he caused a building to fall after hitting it, immediately sounding horns and bells.
“Knightsbane?” Kia the Manling called Vainqueur from the sky port, who heard but didn’t listen. “Knightsbane, Dalton, where are you going?”
“Princess!” the dragon shouted back.
He flew over the elven city, with his wings blowing off houses and fiends off until he found what he was looking for: a massive, circular arena of red brick in the very center of the flying city. Hundreds of elves and fiends had gathered in the stands with food and drinks.
The dragon immediately recognized the princess, chained to a marble pillar in the middle of the sandy ground of the arena.
That creature was the most beautiful pet Vainqueur had ever set his eyes on, a cute animal with pretty green hair fur which would compliment his gold perfectly. Her skin was so pure it reminded Vainqueur of cow’s milk, and the fiends had dressed her like a present.
There were other two princesses bound next to her, two elves, but Vainqueur didn’t care half as much; they didn't smell like virginal maidens. The one at the center, though, that was the one he wanted, the crown jewel of his Bragging Day! The others would complement her, as he put them on display atop a mountain of gold.
“Today, fiends and elves, we gathered for the ritual of the demon corrida!” A tall, bulky red fiend shouted from atop the stands, the crowd cheering at his words, “In order to gain Hell’s favor in the destruction of Gardemagne, three, yes, three noble ladies shall be sacrificed today before the fights! The ghastly deed shall be done by our esteemed king’s guest, the beautiful, the poisonous… Melodieuse!”
The elves and fiends cheered, as a purple-haired manling materialized in front of the princesses. A pretty creature with long, deep purple hair arranged in a tress, with bloody, red-rimmed eyes; she wore a queenly black dress, made of the fur of warbeasts and fiends both. The woman's sight bothered Vainqueur, although the dragon couldn’t tell why.
“Witness the sacrifices!” the speaker continued. “Princess Merveille, niece of our hated nemesis, King Roland Gardemagne! The oracle of Appol—”
“MINE!” Vainqueur landed in the arena with a loud sound, blowing off a large cloud of dust around himself. “MINE, MINE, MINE!”
While the audience fell silent, and the purple-haired manling looked up at his face, Vainqueur turned to the captive princesses, showing them his princess bag.
“Get in the bag!” The princess maidens looked around them in fear and confusion. “I said, get in the princess bag!”
“Your Majesty, you are invisible, and they are chained!”
Vainqueur’s invisibility vanished, and he could feel the power of his other trinkets negated as well. The crowd panicked at his sight, while the princesses shuddered in fear. The dragon ignored all of them, glancing at the source of the attack.
“[Crystal Prison.]” At the strange manling’s command, barriers of purple crystal grew around the princesses, trapping them within like bugs in amber. The dragon instantly recognized the substance as cursed fairywork. “Knightsbane, you have come to delay our ambitions?”
The thing looked like a noble princess but smelled anything but. She smelled like the deadly flowers of the Dark Forest, of death, and putrid miasma.
Not a manling.
Vainqueur exchanged a glance with the fairy, and her soulless eyes confirmed his suspicions. A tense, hateful silence fell between them, neither willing to make the first move; the dragon dropped the princess bag and his chief of staff, ready to smash that abomination at the first sign of hostility. Their species may have made peace, but her mere presence infuriated the dragon.
“Your Majesty?” His chief of staff, unaware of the woman’s nature, looked back and forth between them. “Who is she? I can’t read her with any of my Perks, and she feels wrong.”
“Minion, hide behind me,” Vainqueur said, extending his claws and preparing to fight to that creature's death if needed. “Fairykind hunts manlings for their fur.”
“Ohoh, viewers, a surprise challenger stormed in! Vainqueur Knightsbane, ‘Emperor’,” the fiend commentator laughed, and so did the crowd, much to Vainqueur’s confusion, “of Murmurin and the Albain Mountains, self-proclaimed great calamity of the age!”
“Self-proclaimed nothing!” Vainqueur contested the lie.
“In the other corner, the demonic superstar, the invincible champion, the undefeated king of Ishfania… the fabulous Brandon Maure!”
An elf stepped into the arena through a door built into the stone wall itself, as thin and fragile as the rest of his kind. His skin was light purple, almost greyish, with silver eyes and short hair of the same color. He wore a gold-plated, shiny cloth that covered his whole body except for his exposed chest, and a horned, silvery diadem around his head. The dead meat walking carried a blade with one hand and a red cloth with the other.
The crowd cheered at the elf’s coming, who raised his red cloth at them. Openings in the arena’s walls unleashed streams of fire and white smoke above. “Maure, best demon!” The cattle audience chanted. “Maure, best demon! Maure, best demon!”
The elf, who smelled like brimstone, smirked at Manling Victor. “Ah, the mere sight of Brandon Maure’s perfect body has made you fall for him. Brandon Maure gets this reaction all the time.”
“Actually, I was just very surprised by the traje de luces outfit—”
“There is no need to deny your lustful feelings for Brandon Maure’s sublime body,” the demon king cut off the chief of staff with a smug look which Vainqueur immediately despised.“None can resist Brandon Maure, and he welcomes all admirers. For beauty has a lover, and it is Brandon Maure.”
Elves. Always the arrogant cattle.
That fomor however… Vainqueur kept his eyes focused on the fairy, in case she went for a sneak attack. He didn't even move to smash the arrogant cattle, unwilling to give that sworn foe of dragonkind any opening.
“You, V&V, have slighted Maure for months,” the elf said while walking to the fomor’s side. “You slew his human minions, stole his precious apple, destroyed his court magician, and ruined a century of demon summoning work. Now you want to take his hard-won sacrifices from him? Brandon Maure truly wants to know: what has he done to you to deserve this?”
“You exist in my world,” Vainqueur replied as a matter of fact, his eyes still on the witch. “I am Emperor. I do as I want.”
“You, Vainqueur, are no Emperor. Murmurin is a daughter of Ishfania, and Ishfania has only one king. The king who stands before you!”
Warning: your [Emperor] title is contested by Brandon Maure!
If you do not assert your rightful authority, your [Emperor] class perks will be nulled!
“What do you intend to do with that bombardier?” Manling Victor asked, still more preoccupied with the metal bird than the challenge to his master’s authority. “How did you even build it so fast?”
“Maure had the Iron Eagle built months ago, but his minions lacked the knowledge for the finishing touches. As for what he will do with it, earthlings have a word for it, if Brandon Maure remembers. Something with carpets.”
“Carpet bombing,” the fomor said, her voice without warmth.
“Yes, carpet bombing. Brandon Maure will carpet bomb the monkey farms of Gardemagne until only rubble and dead apes remain. He will also make a short detour to raze these stinking Haudemer and Murmurin villages."
“W-why?” Manling Victor asked. “What is the point?”
“To starve my guests by destroying the cattle,” Vainqueur explained.
“Because Brandon Maure has many qualities. Beautiful. Perfect. Generous. But forgiving, is not among them.”
Vainqueur’s chief of staff readied his scythe. “Not on my watch,” he said, prepared to defend his master’s honor and food supply.
“Maure cares nothing for monkey props.” The arrogant elf turned to look at the minion’s scythe. “And if you wish to survive with all your ears attached to your body, you shall release Maure's lich servant at once.”
Furibon? That monstrous elf wanted to break the seal keeping Furibon prisoner! “I will not let you release that evil on the world, fiend!” Vainqueur declared, preparing to blast these two with fire and flames, fomor-dragon peace or not.
“Maure's will shall be fulfilled.” The fiendish elf turned to the fomor witch. “Melodieuse, please do Brandon Maure a favor, and clear his arena of peons.”
“As you wish, princeling.”
Vainqueur immediately blasted the spot where the fomor stood with a fireball, but she teleported out of the path the same way the frustrating Furibon did.
"[Hellzone]." Before he could react, she raised a hand, and the very fabric of space collapsed around Vainqueur and Victor; a rift showcasing a world of fire and brimstones superposing over the arena. The mirage lasted only an instant, but his chief of staff vanished with it.
|Luck check successful, but your minion has been banished to Hell.|
“Only a true winner makes demands, dragon!” Brandon Maure replied while a beam of light fell straight from the heavens, hitting the area where the iron bird was nested. The elf looked in this direction with an angry snarl. “The Iron Eagle! They have brought reinforcements!”
“Not for long.” The fomor witch glanced at the source of the light, then vanished in a veil of darkness, leaving nothing behind.
“I will show you your place, grass-eater!” Vainqueur snarled, intending to eat that walking cattle, put the princesses in the bag, and then force that witch to release his chief of staff. He would find the time to rampage somewhere in the middle. “Your feeble spells will do nothing to me!”
“Only the weak rely on magic to win their fights! A true warrior just needs his muleta and his espada! You, Vainqueur, Brandon Maure challenges you! One on one, champion against dragon!”
“Vainqueur Knightsbane does not back away from a fight!”
You accepted Maure's [Demon Corrida] challenge!
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Bio: I'm a European warlock living in the distant realm known as France, spending half my time writing and the other half managing magical websites. I post Magik Online on my main website and RR both on Wednesday, and Vainqueur the Dragon twice to thrice weekly.