Vainqueur the Dragon

by

Void Herald

36: Interlude: Tales of the Kobold Rangers

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- Three days before Bragging Day...
 
 
  • My Immortal Dragon, Chapter 2: “The Dragon’s Desire”

“Your Majesty?” Victor asked, his body slippery and sultry from the gold shower.

“You know what I want, Minion,” After watching him swim in his golden hoard, he could barely restrain himself. “You are the shining jewel of my hoard…”

Victor blushed, his white skin glittering like silver in response. Truth to be told, he had never dared voice his feelings for his great, wealthy master.

“Bragging Day is tomorrow, and I need to… treat myself,” Vainqueur’s voice was heavy with desire. “Lay on the gold.”

 


“Pink, what are you writing?”

Writing in Nethermart’s cozy drink shop, Pink jumped out of her seat; she accidentally dropped her beer cup on the ground, much to the imp barista's annoyance.

The other Rangers looked at her in confusion. “Pink, you’re late for the training, and Red is getting mad,” Black said, frowning at her as she whistled. “Now you’re acting suspiciously.”

“She’s hiding the text behind her back!” Yellow said, trying to circle her.

“No!” Pink turned to face Yellow, only for Blue to use the opportunity to grab her scroll from behind. “Give it back!”

“Is this the sequel of the War of the Hoard?” Blue immediately opened the scroll. “Sweet!”

“No, don’t read it!” Pink attempted to reclaim the paper, but Yellow and Black restrained her. “It’s not meant for publication!”

Her comrade didn’t listen and suffered for it. The more the kobone read, the more he shook, the crimson light in his empty eye sockets faltering. “Oh, gods…” Blue dropped the document in horror. “I feel fear. I am undead, and I feel fear!”

“Pink, what have you done?” Black released the bard, who immediately recovered her scroll.

“I… I just had a plot lizard that wouldn’t leave,” Pink said, sheepish and ashamed. She never expected anyone but her to read it.

“What do lizards have to do with… with this?” Although usually the most aloof member of the group, Blue kept shaking in dread. “How could you write the Emperor and Lord Victor like that?”

“But they are obviously made to be together!” Pink complained. “Emperor Vainqueur, Lord Victor, and the Hoard!”

She couldn’t help it since she had started taking levels in [Bard] after writing the War of the Hoard. The signs were there! Chocolatine, Allison, Lynette, they were all false leads which the good Emperor Vainqueur had to eat to win his minion’s heart! Why couldn’t anyone else see it?

“Ugh, one of your V&V ‘fanfics’ again?” Black rolled his eyes. “How many has it been? You haven’t even finished your ‘Bad to the Bone’ Vainqueur and Furibon story.”

"I'm ChocoVic all the way," Blue said.

"And I'm a VainquHoard!" Yellow declared, fist bumping Blue over compatible fan followings, "And now I want to read Pink's story out of morbid curiosity."

“No!” Pink kept the scroll behind her back. “No reading my unfinished works! Please!”

“Guys, stop bullying Pink!” The voice of Red Ranger made the kobolds and kobones behave, their tall, powerful leader walking into sight with the musket and rapier Lord Victor provided him. “Why are you taking so long?”

“It’s nothing, Red!” Pink lied.

“Pink was getting drunk writing a fanfic again!” Yellow mercilessly betrayed her, Pink kicking him in the leg’s bone. It hurt her more than him. “Ahah! I don’t feel pain anymore!”

“Traitor!”

Red sighed. “Pink, you can write what you want, and I am proud that you can.” Few kobolds could even read or write. “But drinking beer before our rehearsal? What am I supposed to think?”

“I need to get alcohol to proceed with my writing sometimes,” Pink admitted. Some of her ideas were so dark, so deep, so artistic, that she couldn’t bring them out without help. “When Emperor Vainqueur asked me to write about the… the lead event, I had to get drunk before I could commit it to paper.”

“We all know how traumatizing the Event was,” Red said with sympathy. “That is why we must train hard. So this kind of senseless atrocity can never happen again on our watch. Remember what Lord Victor said. We are the elite of the minions!”

“Minion lieutenants!” Black pumped a fist.

“We are His Majesty’s shield!” Red reminded them, his words brimming with charisma. “The Hoard’s last line of defense! The last line to hold! We… are the Kobold Rangers!”

“Kobold Rangers!” the group shouted, the imp barista ignoring them as he served a drink to Barnabas the troll.

Pink remembered that fateful day, when they stole the Apple of Knowledge from that human. The second they had laid their eyes upon the ancient techniques of the Tokusatsu clan held within, of these brave warriors fighting paupers with style, the Kobolds had understood what they had missed in life.

On their own, Kobolds were weak, small, and unremarkable. Most died before they hit ten winters. But by learning the ancient techniques held within the Apple, and reviving the Tokusatsu clan’s traditions, Red had argued that they could become more than mere Kobolds: they could become legends whom their kind would celebrate in tales for centuries! They may die anytime, but their legacy would live on forever!

And so they became the Kobold Rangers, the elite warriors of the Murmurin Empire.

“His glorious Majesty, Emperor Vainqueur’s Bragging Day will happen soon!” Red reminded them. “For the sake of the Emperor, we cannot embarrass him. Our dancing and motto must be perfectly executed. And… and...”

“And?” Pink frowned, sensing her leader’s troubled mind. “What is stressing you out so much?”

“Rolo has a quest for us,” Red continued. “A very dangerous quest. A monster is feasting on the vegetables. If this continues, the livestock will starve, and His Majesty’s Bragging Day Feast will be ruined!”

“Who would dare launch such a treacherous attack?” Black spat on the ground. “The elves?”

“Worse,” Red replied ominously. “A rabbit.”

A rabbit. The ancestral nemesis of koboldkind; they fought those mammal vermin over burrows since the dawn of time. The brave fathers of the Rangers’ warren had managed to fend off one of their invasions before Pink was born.

Now, it was her turn to defend the burrow of Murmurin against those hungry monsters.

“And not any rabbit,” Red added, turning away with a dark look on his face. “A Black Rabbit.”

The Rangers gasped and exchanged worried looks.

A Black Rabbit. A rabbit who gained magical powers by becoming a dark prince among its filthy, verminous kind. It could summon armies of rodents, grow to enormous sizes, and cast spells from its horn.

Black Rabbits were blights upon the land, devastating all in their path. Countless kobold martyrs had fallen to them.

“If we do not kill him, entire cultures will fall to its hunger,” Red said. “Rolo is convinced he will attack by twilight.”

“Can we… can we defeat him?” Yellow joined his hands in a silent prayer. “One of them killed my father with its horn.”

“For His Majesty, I am not afraid to die again!” Blue replied with empty bravado, his voice breaking.

“If it comes to it, and we cannot defeat the Black Rabbit on our own…” Red trailed off, turning to Pink. “We will have to summon the Mimiczord with your song.”

“But she cannot control it!” Black protested. “Once called, there will be blood!”

Red slapped some sense into him. “Get a hold of yourself, you coward! There is no greater honor than dying, so that His Majesty may be fed!”

“I…” Black scratched his cheek. “I am sorry, I… I let fear control me.”

“It is okay to be afraid in the face of such evil,” Red consoled his friend. “But so long as we are together, you can rely on us. That is what being a Kobold Ranger is all about.”

Black nodded firmly, imitated by the others. “Let’s repeat the motto,” Red said, happy with the group’s resolve. “We fight for the hoard!”

“We are made of gold!” Black continued.

“We strike from the shadows!” Blue added.

“We strive for His Majesty!” Pink shouted, the drink shop’s clients glaring at their magnificent display.

“Prepare to meet your dooom!” Yellow said, going off-script with his deep, undead voice.

“Yes, that is rig—Yellow!” Red stopped in the middle of the motto, everyone else groaning, “You’ve gone off-script again!”

“I’m sorry, it’s too hard to resist!” Yellow replied. “I… I will say it right next time!”

Red sighed. “Second attempt!”


The beast arrived under the twilight sun.

Never before had Pink seen such a monstrous being. The incarnation of Hell had fur that was as black as night, with big vicious eyes; his enormous ears reminded the Bard of twin pillars of darkness. While as tall as any other rabbit, the ground shook under the immense power of its back legs. A single, golden horn shone in the middle of the monster’s forehead, surging with magical power.

The Kobold Rangers established a defensive perimeter, Rolo’s fields of carrots and lettuces behind them. Yellow and Pink carried bows, while Black and Blue had switched to spears. Red remained at the forefront, musket, and rapier in hand.

Pink knew this would be a dangerous fight. All of them had levels in [Outlaw], but only Pink and Red had delved into other, combat-oriented classes. And this… this… this was a legendary beast, far more terrifying than Gustave the Scorcher, who killed Blue and Yellow in the past.

“Food?” the black beast uttered with a guttural, dark voice.

Pink’s [Bard] mind filled out the words left unsaid, translating the monster’s black speech into true epic dialogue.

“Kobolds?” (You dare stand between me and my sweet pleasure, kobolds?)

“Yes, we Kobolds Rangers shall defend His Majesty’s pantry from you!” Red shouted back. “You shall not pass!”

“Hungry!” (Do not get in my way! All those who do will be eaten!)

“You. Shall. Not. PASS!” Red repeated.

“Rabbits!” (Then only death will remain! Come to me, my loyal soldiers! [Summon Rabbit Horde]!)

The Black Rabbit let out a vivid screech, a cloud of dust surrounding him. A swarm of white rabbits crawled out of the earth, an army summoned from the farthest reaches of Hell itself. At their master’s command, the rodents charged as one with a great rumble.

“Defend the fence!” Red commanded, firing with his musket at the incoming swarm, imitated by Yellow. A rain of bullets and arrows felled the first wave of rabbits, while Blue and Black readied their weapons to kill those who managed to break past them. “Pink, sing!”

Pink did so, singing the praise of the good Emperor Vainqueur during the War of the Hoard. “Minions, remember Furibon! Take your swords, and rise, and fight! Fight for the Hoard! The wicked will perish in the king’s flames!”

[Bardic Song] raised all of your teammates’ strength!]
Empowered by her words, the Rangers held the line, Black and Blue impaling every rabbit that threatened to get past them. More kept coming from the burrows, waves, and waves of hungry beasts; Red and Yellow ran out of projectiles and joined the melee, the kobone fighting with its bare claws.

 

The Black Rabbit oversaw the slaughter with his cold dark eyes, before raising his horn to the heavens. Electricity surged from it, as he pointed it at the Rangers while the weaker rodents distracted them. “Black!” Pink warned her ally, as the horn pointed at him, firing a thunderbolt. “Watch out!”

But even the Black Ranger couldn’t out outrun lightning. He barely had the time to look at the monster, before the bolt hit him in the chest and sent him crashing against the fence, defeated.

“You beast!” Yellow snarled, breaking the formation and rushing at the Black Rabbit.

“Wait!” Red shouted his rapier red with rabbit blood. “This is what he wants!”

The last of his dread servants defeated, the Black Rabbit’s horn shone bright, the monster’s size increasing. Within seconds, he had become as big as a cart, walking on his back legs.

The mammalian titan let out a roar and impaled Yellow Ranger with his horn, like a bull with a manling. The kobone was propelled to the side, his spine breaking in half upon crashing. The dread mammal then stepped towards the remaining rangers, his greedy, malevolent eyes set on the vegetables.

Panicking, Pink kept singing while she raised her bow, firing an arrow at the monster. The projectiles bounced off his fur.

Blue let out a maddened war shout at he charged with Red, weapons raised. The Black Rabbit easily kicked Blue aside with one of his enormous legs, but Red managed to graze his skin with his rapier. He barely dodged a lightning strike from the beast’s horn, needling the beast’s ankles with his weapon.

“Fight for the hoard!” the bard kept cheering her friend, as he managed to halt the beast’s progress. “You can win! You can do it!”

But the Black Rabbit, infuriated by their resistance, turned to Pink, his horn surging with the power of thunder.

“Pink!” Red jumped in the way, the lightning bolt hitting him instead of his teammate. He collapsed on the ground, trying to rise back up, only for the Black Rabbit to stomp on him. Crushed under the beast’s weight, the leader of the Kobold Rangers stayed down.

“Summon... it...” Yellow, struggling to put back his bones together, implored Pink. The Black Rabbit left the defeated Red behind, ignoring the last of the Rangers as he walked towards the fence. “Summon the Mimiczord!”

Here goes nothing.

“Behold! What a shiny sword!” Pink sung, as loud as she could. “What a shining blade this is, trapped in stone!”

The Black Rabbit stepped on the fence, crushing it beneath his leg. He prepared to feast on the vegetables, when a shriek interrupted him.

The dreaded Excalitrap, Vainqueur Junior, rushed into sight, its bloodthirst roused by Pink’s words. The mimic rivaled the attacker in size.

“Sword?” the mimic said, Pink’s mind translating the word into a full dialogue. (I am the only true sword treasure! Where are the challengers?)

“Him!” Pink pointed a finger at the Black Rabbit’s horn.

As she hoped, Junior mistook him for a sword, furiously leaping between the garden and the evil beast. One of the mimic’s many hands grabbed the sword lure on its back, swinging it like a true swordsman.

“Sword death!” (You will suffer the agony of a thousand deaths by my sword!)

“Rabbit!” the monster replied. (A rabbit prince fears nothing! A rabbit is fear!)

The Black Rabbit attempted to impale Junior the same way he did with the Rangers, but the mimic parried with his blade. Then, with a push, it forced the beast behind the fence.

Pink watched on, amazed, as Junior fought the monster evenly. Sword met horn in a dance of damnation. Every time the monstrous mammal attempted to cast lightning upon his foe, the mimic interrupted him with a well-placed thrust.

“Strong,” the Black Rabbit screeched. (I did not expect to fight such a powerful foe. How delightful.)

“Sword strike!” (It shall take but a single stroke of my sword to put you down!)

“Horn!” (My horn will bathe in your unworthy blood!)

With a brutal swing, Junior pushed the beast back, both enemies facing each other under the sun. The mimic proudly raised its blade, swirling flames surrounding it. “[Elemental Saber: Fire]!”

Junior’s Sword will now inflict additional Fire Damage!
One of the fabled [Fencer] Perks… Pink had never seen it in action. Would it prevail against the beast, though?

 

“[Holy Horn]!” the Black Rabbit replied, its horn growing longer, until its length matched that of Junior’s blade.

The Black Rabbit's horn will now inflict additional Holy Damage!
Both foes glared at one another, then charged with a roar.

 

In a blink, moving so fast Pink’s eyes could barely follow, both fighters exchanged a blow and kept going, having switched places. For a short, tense moment, they stood in place, two silhouettes under the sunlight.

Then, blood flew from the Black Rabbit’s head.

“Food…” the beast said while whimpering. (So this is how I die? Food we all are… and food we shall remain...)

The monster collapsed on his left side, vanquished. Junior let out a victorious roar, as the rabbit regained his original, tiny size. The mimic grabbed the corpse with one hand and immediately swallowed it whole.

Pink couldn’t believe it.

They won! Junior won!

The mimic, though, wouldn't leave without exacting a price. ‘Sheathing’ back its sword on its back, Lord Victor’s pet turned to the defeated Red, who had forced himself back on his knees. “Sword.” (Give me your sword.)

Red hesitated, for his rapier had been granted to him by Lord Victor for his deeds against the Scorchers. He knew exactly what the Mimiczord did to every sword it could get its hands on.

“Sword!” the mimic insisted, its voice turning dangerous.

As a tribute for its service, Red gave Junior his rapier, his eyes turning away. He couldn’t bear to look at what he knew would follow.

But Pink, for the sake of true historical accuracy, didn’t flinch at the execution. The mimic cruelly broke the rapier in half with its bare hands, threw the remains on the ground, and buried it under the dirt with a gleeful smirk. Junior then left without a sound, satisfied at proving its superiority.

Pink immediately rushed to Red’s side, helping him back on his feet and preventing him from collapsing. “It’s over,” she said, looking at the fence. “It’s over.”

Congratulations! For defeating a Black Rabbit, you have taken two levels in [Bard]! You earned the [Extended Song] Personal Perk.

+60 HP, +20 SP, +1 AGI, +2 INT, +2 CHA, +1 LCK!

[Extended Song]: Your songs' enhancements last twice as long.

“Yes…” Red glanced at the rest of his team. Blue had recovered, while Yellow struggled to put back his bones in place. “Are you alright, Rangers?”

 

“Can’t… move…” Black groaned, paralyzed by the lightning. He would need to be patched up by Chocolatine.

“Blue, help him,” Red commanded, the kobone rushing to his living brethren’s side. “Are the vegetables…”

“Safe and sound,” Pink nodded.

“Then… congrats everyone. We have done it. We’ve won. The Bragging Day Feast is saved.” Red chuckled. “Pink, you better write a song about it.”

She would. She already had a name for it.

‘The Night of the Black Rabbit.’

It would wait until she finished My Immortal Dragon though.


Black Rabbit

Type: Beast.

Recommanded party level: 5.

Following the golden tradition set by giant rats, bandits, and goblins, Black Rabbits are among the most popular targets of low-level quests. Every adventurer group has a story of hunting one of these pests on behalf of farmers at the start of their career. No matter how many of them are cooked with prunes and mustard, more always come.

Thankfully, they never run fast enough.

 
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A note from Void Herald

Red is a secret VictoKia, FuriVain fanatic. 

This chapter was originally released as a 100 Patrons Special on Patreon. Next one will be published next Tuesday and begin the second volume's story proper. 

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Thanks to my patrons on Patreon: antab, Sean Basa, LuminantMurphy, Aji V, Jeff Gault, James Teeple, BRUNO ASTUR, Dom Ceremonia, Max Collins, Zorathis, ElJako98, Виктор Фон Стыценкофф, Anthony Daniel Martin, RoruRedTailedDolphin, David Hansson, Thaco4, Pablo, Arnon Parenti, Mike Dixon, Mikkel Kolding Christensen, Matthew, Pixie, Sands, K, BlackFire13th, Onigalmasuka, Cade, Kyoma,Jamie McKay, Dillon Rodenbaugh, Bartosz Borkowski, Samuel Lim, Kevin Ramos, Sharrod Brathwaite, Holland Webinger, King Gonflick, Deane L. Uptegrove, Gilium, Jeremy Humphrey, Letmeinillread, Charles handgis, Pergamon, Christian Pettersen, Bob Xander, cale lechmere, damien, Elvis Malkic, Nelson Crockett, Jeb, J, Noah Williams, charter, James Short, nicholas Maa, Maxwell Margetts, Colby, Vodairo, Arvid Hedebark, Jeb, omar crooke, Aubrey Craye, Bob Johnson, Sebin Paul, Tyrell Facey, Calvin Miner, Anthony, Audrick CK, John, Andrew Kahn, DenverDrew, 白酒鬼, Aubrey Craye, SugarRoll, Oskar Nordström, Lucas Oparowski, Trevor Sales, Calvin Miner, Tycho Green, Rory, John Settler, CptJimmy, Winston May, Bob Smith, DemonKingBaka, Cody Adam Carroll, PbookR, Guy Smith, Joseph Caywood III, Glader, John Carroll, Kenneth C. King, Revive3pls, mohammedd, Logan, Nanooki12, Patrick C, Colin Ford, Tab, Alianok, David Madden, Markus Pawlak, Zool, Clarence Odunsi, Gabriel Sontag, Manu, Quentin, John, Andrew Parsadayan, Daniel Nemtok, Moonspike, Igor Mikulik, C. Wilbs, Hamed Al-Ghamdi, RepossessedSoul, Kevin, Dhalmeida, Parker Groseclose, Nick, Mackoy, zed, Daniel Mackie, James Walsh, Athra, Chris M, Seadrake, Jim of Trades, Koen Hertenberg, Enaz the Great, Alex Pruitt, Saul Kurzman, Warwick Robertson, Johnathan, Rhodri Thornber, Marc Claude Louis Durand, Drekin, Bald Guy Dennis, Floodtalon, Dax, and Daniel Zogbi.


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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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