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Like he did back in that flying elf farm, Brandon Maure showed Vainqueur his cursed red wing, while his flying troops swarmed the dragon. “[Faena Muleta].”

Intelligence Check successful!
Vainqueur answered the moth’s pitiful display with a stream of holy flames.

 

See? He was smart!

The demon king, while surprised by the failure of his previous tactic, successfully flew out of the way. His slower lackeys, the dragon incinerated. Their ashes fell in a gray rain.

The Iron Eagle approached while Vainqueur pursued the moth in the skies, the musket-like weapons on its back, firing harpoons at him. The dragon dodged them artfully, only for Brandon Maure to intercept him with his sword in the middle of his manoeuver, grazing his scales with the tip of his blade.

[Dragonslayer] effect bypassed your defense!
“Let see if you are strong without your enhancements!” Vainqueur prepared his secret weapon. “Lesser Demonbane!” His spell hit Brandon Maure in the face, much to the dragon’s delight.

Charisma check successful! Your exorcism weakened Brandon Maure!

“My charm is greater than yours, grasshopper!” Vainqueur boasted.

 

“But Maure remembers how you denied him the joy of single combat last time!” Maure snarled, his movements more sluggish and less confident than before. “MINION! Come defend your king! [Summon Torero Fiend]!”

A powerful devil nearly as big as Vainqueur himself, with simmering, burning ash for skin, popped up next to the demon king. The spicy monster’s dragonlike wings extended, and it flew at the dragon with its sharp claws extended. He shot a shadowy ball of energy at Vainqueur while moving to engage him in close combat.

“[Spell Purge!]” As Vainqueur activated his perk, the spell vanished upon reaching his marvelous scales. The monstrous devil reached him a second afterward, Vainqueur catching his fists with his hands.

While the creature was strong, the dragon was better and pushed him back, still holding the demon’s hands captive. He attempted to bite the tasty fiend’s face off, but it lowered its head before Vainqueur’s jaws could close in on him.

The moth, ever the cowardly elf, retreated. He landed on the Eagle’s back and activated a Perk of his own, pointing his blade at Vainqueur. “[Picador]!”

Skill check failed! Evasion drastically decreased!
While his speed didn’t diminish, Vainqueur felt his reaction time slow down, his attention reduced. It was as if he had gotten drunk on eating dwarves again.

 

Focusing on the moth’s minion first, Vainqueur breathed holy flames right in the face of the giant devil; the fiend let out a snarl of rage as he proved as weak to dragonfire as anything else. Vainqueur rotated on himself, throwing the demon towards the clouds below before chasing after the Iron Eagle.

“Harpoons!” Maure ordered to a fiend operating one of the bird’s muskets; the weapon instantly fired pointed, chained spears at the dragon. While he couldn’t evade the harpoon in time due to that cursed [Picador] Perk, Vainqueur did something better.

He caught the harpoon with both hands.

Then he pulled it towards him, tearing the musket off the Eagle’s back and its fiendish operator with it.

Empowered by the knowledge granted by the Class System, Vainqueur swung the chain like a flail and threw it at the flying fortress. The musket’s wreckage impacted on the metal bird, but Brandon Maure managed to dodge the attack.

“Coward!” Vainqueur accused the moth, targeting the eagle’s back with fireballs. His flames blasted off metal plates and destroyed the demon-operated muskets, but failed to hit his true target, who raced towards the front part of the metal bird. “Stop running and fight!”

“Maure no longer plays!” the demon king replied, before barking orders to the metal bird. “Launch the Wind Spear! Blow him off!”

The iron bird launched three projectiles at Vainqueur, the explosive needles making circles in the skies as magical circles appeared on the dragon’s scales.

Unable to dodge, Vainqueur destroyed one with his fiery breath, then a second; the explosions made the Iron Eagle flinch, and spread the smoke in all directions.

Before he could destroy the third one though, Maure’s summoned devil rose back from above the clouds, then rammed Vainqueur from behind, grabbing his throat with his strong arms. “Get off me, you cattl—”

“[Mando Bull]!” Brandon Maure said, pointing his blade at Vainqueur from a safe distance.

Skill check failed! Strength and Agility reduced by one stage each!
The fiend on the dragon’s back choked him, preventing Vainqueur from destroying the third wind spear as it approached. With a surge of skill, the dragon moved to use the fiend on his back as a shield, the projectile hitting that frustrating minion first.

 

The massive explosion that resulted killed the fiend and made Vainqueur’s entire body itch, one wing in even worse shape than the other. The sheer power of the detonation sent the dragon falling straight through the clouds, struggling to fly.

You have fallen below twenty percent HP! Critical Health!

[Bravo Bull] activated! You regained your lost strength!

Reenergized, Vainqueur managed to stabilize in the middle of a cloud, somewhat. One of his wings had gotten weaker than the other, he couldn’t fly straight, and the moth’s Perks still weakened him.

 

The dragon considered his options. Brute strength hadn’t worked, but the dragon was more than fire breath and physical force.

He was smart.

Vainqueur deactivated Spell Purge, then used his blinkblink ring to become invisible while the cloud still shrouded him. Struggling against the itching and the pain, Vainqueur managed to catch up to the Iron Eagle, flying discreetly above its back. The moth glanced overboard, looking for Vainqueur’s corpse.

“Is he dead?” Maure rejoiced, as he began to bark more orders. “Carpet the ground to be sure, and that ugly village with it!”

“SURPRISE ATTACK!” Vainqueur shouted as he blasted the moth with a fireball. The explosion destroyed a large part of the flying fortress’ back and sent the Demon King to crash on the left wing of the bird. Half his body had been burnt to a crisp.

Your sneak attack was super effective!
Vainqueur landed on the wing while dispelling his invisibility, as Brandon Maure rose back up. “You… you… how dare you attack Maure while invisible!”

 

“I am smart enough not to give you a chance to run around this time!” Vainqueur said, slightly insecure about his intelligence score and eager to showcase it. The tactic had worked on Furibon, and it proved its effectiveness again. “Not so strong when you cannot hide behind your minions, are you, moth?”

Cornered and unable to fly away with a burned wing, Brandon Maure swung his sword and prepared to stand his ground. "[Airblad-]"

But the dragon was faster, and didn’t give his foe any respite.

"[Lesser Demonbane]!" Vainqueur cast his spell, the exorcism weakening the fiend before it could finish enhancing himself.

The dragon then breathed his mighty dragonfire at Maure, and weakened by the previous attack, the moth couldn’t dodge. Vainqueur’s flames melted his flesh and the metal underneath both, causing an explosion below the wing.

The demon king stood out of the flames as an emaciated, burnt husk. “If it is any consolation,” Vainqueur taunted the furious elf. “You never stood a chance against me, grass-eater. You were doomed the moment you threatened my minions.”

A voice came out of the Iron Eagle, enhanced by a spell. “Your Highness, the dragon damaged the engine! We have to make an emergency landing!”

“Crash the Iron Eagle in the volcano’s crater!” Maure ordered, forced to use his sword to stand. “Destroy the dragon’s castle and his hoard with it!”

The voice coming from the iron bird sounded as horrified as Vainqueur himself. “My liege, with all the wind spears onboard, Mount Murmurin will erupt! The entire region will be wiped out!”

“Yes!” Brandon Maure replied. “Rochefronde, Vainqueur, Murmurin, annihilate them all!”

“But our troops—”

“I DON’T CARE!” the demon king snarled, dropping speaking in the third person for the first time. “I WANT ALL OF THEM DEAD!”

Warning! [Berserk] status applied.
“It is not over, Vainqueur!” the elf ranted, showing off his blade. “Brandon Maure still has resources, and friends in low places! He will come back—”

 

Furious, and now faster than ever, Vainqueur poked the moth mid-rant, squashing him like the bug he was.

His mighty hand made the metal bird shake as it hit.

When he raised his finger again, he could only see a bloody smear on the metal.

Congratulations! You regained your [Emperor] title with style! Your Perks have been restored!
The dragon let out a furious roar, and breathed a torrent of flames towards the skies, ready to rampage across the land in celebration.

 

Or he would have, had the Iron Eagle not been diving straight toward his volcano.

“My hoard!” Fear for the survival of his coins stripped him of his anger, his mind now fully focused on saving his gold.

Vainqueur flew under the Iron Eagle’s wing and pushed with both hands against its underside. Grabbing the flying fortress by its underside, the dragon used all his strength to push it up and redirect the bird away from his volcano. He struggled against his wounds from the Wind Spear, against the pain in his wing, against the heaviness of the metal bird.

Vainqueur was a dragon. The strongest! He could do it!

He thought of the coins in his hoard, waiting for his return, of the princesses he would expose, of all his minions cheering him up on the ground. They gave him strength.

Using all of his bottomless might, Vainqueur managed to force the fortress up, making it miss the crater by mere inches; then, he pushed it towards the badlands and arroyos away from the mountain.

The dragon, finally out of strength, finally let the bird go, struggling for breath.

The bird kept going and then crashed in a remote valley; the same one where Manling Victor stashed his hoard when Furibon sickened it.

The collision unleashed an incredibly powerful blast of wind which blew dust all over the region. A cloud of sand expanded in all directions.

“I won!” Vainqueur rejoiced, exhausted and his wounded wing starting to let him down. “I won!”

Then the cloud of dust reached him, covering him in dust and sending sand in his eyes. “Argh!” The dragon let out a snarl of frustration as he scratched his eyelids to remove it.

Flawless victory!

For defeating Brandon Maure and ending the threat of the Iron Eagle, you earned a [Crest].

A light fell from the heavens in front of Vainqueur, a golden, shield-like item descending from the skies and floating right in front of him. It was one of the most beautiful devices he had ever seen, covered with colored gemstones; something worthy of his hoard.

 

Vainqueur let out single a tear at the scene; whether because of its beauty or the sand in his eyes, he didn’t know.

Use [Crest] to break the Class ceiling?
“Yes!” No sooner did the dragon speak, the item and the light surrounding it vanished at once.

Crest used! You can now progress up to level 60!

For using a [Crest], you gained the [Crested] Personal Perk.

[Crested]: You moved up from ordinary adventurer to folktale hero. You can now access more prestigious classes.

Sweet! All was well in the world.

 

Vainqueur, exhausted, struggled to fly back to Murmurin to burn the remaining minions of the moth. Instead, he found his early guests hunting down the fleeing elves and fiends in a good old safari hunt.

The dragon was briefly worried his big day was ruined, but his kindred looked very happy with the free food. Vainqueur let out a sigh of relief, his pride safe.

Such an easy battle. Nothing like the War of the Hoard; and his Bragging Day was safe. Truly this couldn’t get better.

“Minion, where are you? I have been crested!”

But no one answered.

“MINION!”

His lackey didn’t teleport to his side.

“Minion?” Vainqueur repeated, now worryingly, but yet no one answered. “Minion?”

The seed of doubt worming itself in his mind, Vainqueur searched for his prized lackey. He watched his minions, led by the Kobold Rangers, fight off stragglers while Sweet Chocolatine captured imps in fishnets. The minions cheered Vainqueur as he flew over them, as they should. He didn’t land to ask them, for, with his damaged wing, he knew he couldn’t fly again after landing.

The dragon went north, towards the sheeps’ pens, finding his dragon guests feasting on his pantry. Corpseling Jules and Rolo the golem tended to his chief of staff, laying in the dirt and surrounded by other crying minions, from Malfy the fiend to that reptilian Savoureuse. Vainqueur graciously landed nearby, covering the minions with dust.

“Ah… ah... ah minion, here you are,” Vainqueur said while catching his breath. He immediately noticed that his lackey had grown wings and a tail, just like his master! What a faithful chief of staff. Vainqueur didn’t have the heart to chastise him for failing to win the minion war before his guests arrived.

“Your Majesty?” Jules the Necromancer looked up at him, and at his weak wing. “Is Brandon Maure—”

“The moth is dead!” Vainqueur boasted. “I smashed him, his bird, and his pride! I received a crest from it, just as you said, Manling Victor!”

His chief of staff didn’t answer. Malfy the fiend exchanged a glance with the other minions, with Victor’s pet mimic letting out a sad moan, then spoke up, “Your Majesty, I am afraid Lord Victor cannot answer.”

“Of course he can, I trained him to,” Vainqueur replied, looking down to wake his minion from his nap. “Manling Victor now is not the time to sleep! My guests have arrived…”

Then Vainqueur noticed the ice spike through his lackey’s chest and his empty white eyes.

Manling Victor was…

He was dead?

The dragon saw red. “Who dared do this?!” Vainqueur roared, his mere voice making the minions tremble in fear.

“The killer, that fairy, teleported away after I tried eating her.” A green dragon resting on his back, his belly full, let out a belch. “Vainqueur, your sheeps taste delicious, so soft...”

Vainqueur would have thanked him if he wasn’t livid.

“Minion, I ordered you to become immortal!” Vainqueur chastised his dead lackey, before turning to that pile of scrap of a golem. “You, tinman, you are my minion now. Fetch me Chocolatine, a healer, even that dryad if needed!”

“Nobody can cure death, Yer Majesty,” Rolo the Golem replied.

“You can!” Vainqueur said, turning to Corpseling Jules. “Raise him like the kobolds!”

“I would like to, but we cannot reanimate him, Your Majesty,” Jules replied. “His killer applied the [Necrophobia] status to Victor before murdering him. He cannot be reanimated, not even as an undead until it is dispelled.”

“I cannot even claim his soul and incarnate him as a fiend,” Malfy said.

“Then get away, bugling,” Vainqueur said, as he put his hand on Manling Victor’s remains and activated his favorite Perk. “[Spell Purge]!”

Charisma check failed!

You could not dispel the [Necrophobia] status.

Charisma check failed? How could it be? Vainqueur was the most charismatic dragon in the world, the destroyer of Furibon! How could he fail a check?!

 

Yet… yet he had only weakened the crystal curse that fairy placed on his princesses. Not dispelled, weakened. Her sorcery was beyond even the evil Furibon’s. Vainqueur glanced around at the thought, thankfully finding the scythe near Manling Victor. That witch didn’t have time to break the seal keeping that evil contained.

The reality of the situation slowly dawned on Vainqueur.

Manling Victor, his most prized, loyal chief of staff, class advisor, Vizier, and Doer of the Thing, was gone.

The dragon remained still, trying to process what to do next, while his minions tried to cheer him up. “Your Majesty—”

“I refuse to accept this!” Vainqueur cut him off brashly. “Find a way to raise him!”

“Why the rush, Vainqueur?” his dragon guest asked, more surprised than anything. “It’s just a manling. A dragon-shaped, well-trained manling, but a manling all the same.”

“Manling Victor is worth more than any minion,” Vainqueur replied. He could find any new minion, but he could never find a second Manling Victor. “He is the crown jewel of my hoard. My Bragging Day cannot be complete without him.”

“Your Majesty,” Jules began. “There is a… a last option to raise him, but… you will need to make a great sacrifice.”

“Anything to save my favorite minion,” Vainqueur said, glancing down at the corpse with genuine sadness. “Anything for my manling.”

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About the author

Void Herald

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.

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