For the first time since forever, Vainqueur found himself on the defensive.
The golem brushed off his claws, fangs, spells, and dragonfire! Dragonfire! The mightiest, warmest gift of dragonkind didn’t work on a, a… a farming machine!
The golem kept fighting him at close range, and every stab of its sword stung. When Vainqueur attempted to put distance between them, the creature pointed its shield at him and fired lead spheres that hurt almost as much. The monkey’s fighters also didn’t stop hitting his ankles, especially that cursed snow creature and the hammer warrior. It didn’t hurt much, but it made it harder to dodge the much more dangerous golem’s strikes.
Another sword slash hit him in the chest, right next to the previous one.
You have taken heavy damage!
You have fallen below half your HP!
The golem, seeing it coming, pointed its shield at the dragon and fired a cannonball; although Vainqueur dodged, the adventurers used the opportunity to target him with spells. “[Aura]!” the dwarf priest said, firing a beam of light at Vainqueur’s wing and blowing a hole through it.
The great wyrm let out a grunt of pain, before landing on the ice—and crushing the dwarf priest underfoot while at it. The ice cracked beneath his and the golem’s feet, although it didn’t collapse.
The piper’s melody changed to a more oppressive tone, and the golem’s behavior changed to match it. The machine exhaled a cloud of miasma from its skull face, and although it itched to breathe it, Vainqueur resisted the attack.
|[Mustard Gas Cloud] negated by [Lesser Poison Resistance]!|
“My eyes!” The hammer warrior cried like a cow, dropping his hammer to scratch his bleeding eyes; the revived dwarf priest reappeared in the middle of the poisonous cloud and soon dropped dead. Only Ninja Weeb avoided the attack by leaping away, while the Snow Dancer ignored the attack like Vainqueur did.
“Hey!” one of the adventurers hiding at the rear turned to the fairy. “You’re hitting our own!”
The fairy responded by changing his melody from gloomy to violently aggressive, and the golem began to swing its blade with maniacal fury. Vainqueur barely had the time to leap to the side, the machine’s claymore smashing the hammer manling into a bloody puddle.
The adventurers understood the message and shut up. The Snow Dancer and Ninja Weeb put distance between the golem and them, giving breathing room to Vainqueur.
Since the fairy obviously controlled his puppet with his pipe, the dragon turned to the dreadful musician’s direction and shot a fireball at him. Once again, the Runemaster shielded him and the other annoyances with a barrier.
He knew he should have become a wizard!
That was it.
That scrap creature had been built to fight dragons… so Vainqueur shouldn’t fight it like a dragon.
He should fight like a witch hunter emperor gladiator.
The dragons had created this system to become stronger and richer. There lied the key to his victory! Energized, Vainqueur stopped walking on his four limbs and instead stood on his back legs, his claws tightened into fists.
“What the—?” Insect Cornelia was at a loss of words before Vainqueur’s fabulous fighting pose. “Is that a boxing stance?!”
“[Victory Fist],” Vainqueur said, feeling the system’s knowledge empower his body.
The golem took a step attempted to skewer the dragon.
Vainqueur, acting entirely on instinct, dodged the sword, and punched the golem in a cross-counter. His fist bypassed the titan’s defense and smashed it right in its metal face, the icy ground shaking under the power of the blow.
The scrap pile stumbled back, just in time for Vainqueur to hit it again with a jab. The blow sent bolts flying, and the emperor felt his dragon blood rising up. He should pick a name for his technique, such as the Poke…
The scrap machine attempted to retaliate, but each time, Vainqueur wasted it with counterattacks. Deflecting the blade with his palm, moving his punches in hook-like motions, using his superior agility to run circles around his punching bag…
Each blow tore off part of the machine’s armor, revealing nuts, bolts, and shining symbols beneath the armor.
“He’s beating the tar out of the golem. He’s punching the golem to death.” Insect Cornelia began to panic as Vainqueur punched the golem further back, while even the fairy began to look doubtful. “Don’t just stand there and watch! Stop him!”
“Oh, right!” the bedsheet ghost replied, sending the Snow Dancer after Vainqueur, while Wizi the Wizard began to cast another spell from behind the barrier.
“[Husbando Bushin]!” Ninja Weeb said, creating two clones of himself and trying to flank the dragon; with the golem temporarily stunned, the emperor turned towards the new challengers.
Vainqueur could smell they were only illusions and was not fooled. With casual contempt, he slapped the true rogue with the back of his hand, crushing his bones and sending him to fly across the sky and into the fiery forest.
|Ninja Weeb has left the field. Your Perk has been unsealed!|
Answering his command, space ripped in half, and his chief of staff rode through on a flaming horse’s back. He hid something beneath his robes, and while bleeding profusely grinned at seeing his master again.
|[Master’s Shield] activated! You gained the [Regen] status.|
“Hilda failed?!” Insect Cornelia cursed, the puny adventurers losing hope as Vainqueur’s wounds began to close.
“Minion! You finally came!” Vainqueur rejoiced, briefly turning around to punch back the golem in the face, before pushing back the relentless summoned creature with his tail.
“And here I thought I would save Your Majesty,” Manling Victor said. “But you’re handily winning this!”
“You will help,” Vainqueur declared. “By cheering me up!”
“Vainqueur, best dragon!” his chief of staff began to sing, drowning out the fairy’s melody. “Vainqueur, best dragon!”
“Nothing can stop me now!” the dragon boasted, turning back towards the golem. “I am unforgettable!”
“Well, well, well,” the fomor briefly interrupted his wicked song. “It was fun while it lasted.” And then he ran away into the forest, abandoning his minions while humming a playful melody.
|[Despair] spread through your enemies’ ranks! All their stats are decreased by two stages!|
“Everyone support Wizi!” Insect Cornelia ordered, her catkin dancer making moves to empower the wizard. “[Final Gambit]!”
|Wizi the Dark Magician’s offensive power drastically increased, but his defenses dropped!|
“Oh no, you don’t!” Manling Victor charged at the barrier with his horse. Vainqueur trusted him and focused on finishing off the golem instead. The bedsheet summoner moved the Snow Dancer to intercept his chief of staff; a rift in space appeared before the horse, and the rider crossed it.
Vainqueur’s minion reappeared behind the protective barrier, trapping them between their own shield and himself.
“And it is with great joy that I say this…” Manling Victor revealed a strange cannon, which he had previously hidden beneath his robes. “Say hello to my little friend!”
“[Enhanced Earthqua—]” But Wizi the Wizard wasn’t fast enough. Manling Victor fired a projectile right in the midst of the fairy’s minions.
An enormous explosion tore the group apart, the barrier collapsing almost instantly; the strings controlling the Snow Dancer were severed, the summoned creature immediately skidding away. When the dust settled, only blood and corpses remained, his minion chasing a survivor into the forest.
One-hit polykill! [Astrologer/Tactician] Cornelia has been killed!
Cornelia’s [Gambits] and [Hailstorm] have been canceled!
As the golem, the last opponent standing, put its shield up to protect himself, Vainqueur moved in to finish it off. The dragon kicked it in the leg and made its defense collapse; while his fist moved into an uppercut, a title finally came to Vainqueur’s mind.
“Feel the weight of my wealth!” the Emperor declared. “Hoard Punch!”
Uppercutting the golem with such force to throw it on its back; the ice cracked beneath it. The machine didn’t get up.
Grabbing the golem with both hands, Vainqueur forcefully lifted the machine above his head, then inhaled. Time to test his new Perk.
Vainqueur opened his mouth, and instead of unleashing flames, his breath turned into a blinding beam of golden light.
The ice shook under the sheer weight of his powerful attack, the ray hitting the golem in the chest. Vainqueur’s attack melted the fairywork metal, pierced the creature’s chest, and came out on the other end; his light splintered the heavens and dispersed the hail clouds.
The ray eventually shattered the golem in half and kept going, clearing the skies and going up into the dark depths of space. At long last, Vainqueur closed his mouth, and tossed the broken remains of the golem at his feet.
A long, crimson and golden cape appeared out of the golem’s remains, a royal mantle for Vainqueur to wear.
Congratulations, that was BEEPing awesome.
For prevailing in this epic battle, you earned eight levels in [Kaiser], and three levels in [Gladiator]! You earned the [Victory Roar], [Mirror Scale], [Fire Crown], [Immovable], [Show-off], and [Gold Shower] Class Perks!
330 HP, +60 SP, +14 STR, +8 VIT, +8 SKI, +8 AGI, +5 INT, +11 CHA, +9 LCK.
[Victory Roar]: Technique, 30 SP. You can unleash a mighty roar lowering the Strength of every enemy within earshot by one stage.
[Mirror Scale]: If a spell fails to pierce through your magical defenses, it is automatically reflected back to the sender.
[Fire Crown]: Technique, 100 SP. You can temporarily surround yourself with a mantle of burning flames for fifteen minutes, which will inflict medium Fire and Dragon Type damage to anyone caught in its range. Your weakness to Frost turns into a resistance as long as [Fire Crown] is active.
[Immovable]: You cannot be Teleported or Banished against your will.
[Show-off]: You receive +20 evasion and +20 precision when you do not wear armor.
[Gold Shower]: When you defeat an elite enemy in single combat, you have a chance of being showered with gold. The percentage of triggering this Perk is equal to your Luck stat.
By gaining enough levels in your various classes and your [Crested] Perk, you can now combine some of your classes into stronger—
Vainqueur didn’t read any longer, mesmerized by a surreal sight.
It was raining gold.
The dragon extended his arms, abandoning himself to the blissful feeling of coins raining down his scales.
Riding the Nightmare Horse, Victor pursued the last adventurer through the woods. It was easy enough, he just had to follow the bloody footsteps in the snow.
He eventually tracked the survivor to a hidden grotto under a small hillock, which must have served as a camp for the adventurers. They had mostly stocked a huge amount of weapons there, both old and modern; bows, spears, grenades...
Victor counted at least seven small dragonlings no bigger than black bears, heavily chained in steel cages. They had found the missing dragons.
“Help!” one of the small dragons, white as snow, rejoiced at the sight of Victor. “We’re saved!”
“Manlings can’t be saviors,” another wyrmling replied. “They don’t have souls!”
Victor ignored the slur, pointing his weapon at the only other human in the cave.
Wizi the Wizard was bleeding profusely, desperately searching for an item among the stockpile of weapons, turning around when he heard Victor. He carried a Crest painted black in his hands.
“You’re awfully resilient for a mage,” Victor said. His boss and compatriots died easily enough, but that guy survived the blast with his defenses down and had enough strength to keep running.
Still, he was clearly clinging to life only by a narrow margin.
“[Dark Magicians] have S in HP growth,” ‘Wizi’ replied, brandishing the blackened crest, “Now back off, or I… I will use this!”
Victor’s [Eye for Treasure] instantly identified the item.
|[Black Crest]: An artificial Crest created by the fomor Mag Mell. Allows the user to break past both class ceilings, but forcefully grant them ten levels in a sinister Monster Class.|
“I’m not bluffing!”
“Sure, go ahead. What will be quicker? Your Crest…” Victor pointed his rocket launcher at the wizard, “or my bazooka?”
“You won’t shoot in an enclosed space.”
“Are you betting your life on it?”
The mage hesitated, his eyes moving between both items, and then succeeded on his Intelligence check.
He lowered the crest and put his hands behind his head.
“Wise choice,” Victor replied, before turning to the dragonlings. “It’s okay, I’m here to help.”
“When I am grown, I will make you my chief of staff!” one of the female dragonlings said.
“I am already taken, but thank you,” Victor replied, before glaring at the wizard. “You caught and beat up children?”
“I am eighty!” a dragonling protested.
“Have you looked at the adults?” Wizi grunted back. “That coward Hamelin and that vampire just wanted blood samples from dragons with class levels. They gave us weapons in return, and promised they would take care of the dragon problem.”
“And you believed them?”
“What other choice did we have?”
“Okay, they may have tricked some adult dragons into fighting each other, but what was your plan afterward? Blackmail the parents by threatening the kids? Dispose of them? How did you think kidnapping young dragons would end in anything but a disaster?”
“We… okay, after a point, we were making stuff as we went on.” Victor narrowed his eyes. “Hey, we didn’t think we would actually catch any of them!”
Victor blinked, then sighed at the sheer stupidity.
Congratulations! For your prowess in this battle, you earned three levels in [Reaper] and two levels in [Assassin]. Thanks to your chaotic alignments, [Crested], and [Monster Student], you have also taken a level in the elite [Chaos Rider] monster class!
You earned the [Hades Blast], [Necromancy III], [Blade Stinger], and [Black Horseman] class perks!
60 HP, +20 SP, +3 STR, +2 VIT, +8 SKI, +6 AGI, +6 INT, +6 CHA, +4 LCK
[Hades Blast]: Spell effect, HP cost. You sacrifice part of your lifeforce to unleash a powerful blast of Spirit energy at your foe; the more HP you sacrifice, the stronger the blast. Alternatively, you can force an ally within twenty feet to pay the price for you on a successful Charisma check.
[Necromancy III]: You can now learn and use Necromancy spells up to tier three. This replaces Necromancy II.
[Blade Stinger]: You can apply the [Poisoned] quality to your bladed weapons. This poison will inflict weak passive damage, but the victim has a chance of curing themselves on a successful vitality check every minute.
[Black Horseman]: You gain perfect proficiency in riding, but only with monstrous mounts. At will, you can mark a willing monster as your steed, which you can then summon to you at any time. You can only have one steed marked at once.
“Do you have gold, manling?” one of the wyrmlings asked.
“Uh, yes, why?”
“G-give it to me. Give me your money.”
His amazing cape floating to the howling wind, Vainqueur glanced at the skies, his manling at his side. His kindred had been set free, the last adventurer chained for trial, and the enemy routed. Yet, he couldn’t rejoice.
“Overall, while this isn’t a perfect victory, I say Your Majesty came out of this adventure with more good than harm,” Manling Victor said, always seeing the positive even in the darkest of times. “We got a huge amount of loot. More than if we had fulfilled a quest.”
“You call this a victory, minion?” Vainqueur couldn’t shake his overwhelming sense of dread filling the air. A dark cloud, once banished, had swept back unto the land, bringing an end to his happy days. “The enemy is out there.”
“It’s true that the fomor escaped, but we have a prisoner and the golem’s remains—”
“Who cares about the fairy?!” Vainqueur turned to his manling, fire in his eyes. How could his chief of staff not understand the gravity of the situation? The sinister consequences of this day for dragonkind, no, the world at large? “I am talking about the true enemy of dragonkind, no, life itself!”
A great darkness, once barely kept at bay, had returned. The seal was broken.
“Minion, the vile Furibon has escaped!”
Manling Victor fell silent, crushed by his shame. Finally, he understood that in failing to keep the monstrous lich imprisoned, all the countless atrocities the goldslayer would commit shall be on his head.
Nothing would be the same anymore.
“There shall be a new War of the Hoard,” Vainqueur said with the grimness of an old warrior, glancing at the horizon as if he could glimpse the pitch blackness of the era ahead. “And the world will know the terror of lead, once again…”
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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.