Vainqueur was livid.
First of all, the bats had struck at his second-most prized possession: his one and only friend. They had trashed his house, leaving only a pile of rubble before which the dragon and his minions stood. They had caught the souls of his prized lackeys—thankfully none of whom Vainqueur knew the names of—and wounded Sweet Chocolatine.
Second, these savages didn’t appreciate the taste of dragon blood. A half-dragon, but dragon blood still! This affront to his species' honor would not go unpunished!
And finally, the bats now threatened his niece.
“Fetch me any vampire you find,” Vainqueur ordered the Kobold Rangers, who had survived the assault, albeit not without wounds. “So I may eat them myself!”
“What do we do with her?” Knight Kia asked, holding the treacherous Savoureuse while keeping her sword at her throat.
“How could you?” Vainqueur lambasted her. “How could you betray me? Why have so many minions betrayed my trust after I gave their lives purpose? After I made you more than food, namely, emergency food?”
“I care more about my life than a purpose?” Savoureuse proposed, unashamed and unrepentant.
“Sav, this doesn’t have to be,” Manling Victor said, composed and dignified as befitting Vainqueur’s chief of staff. “I asked Kia to send a magical message to her old party member Nostredame days ago, on your behalf.”
“I asked Kevin to set the authorities on the Nightblades in Noblecoeur, your home city, and to safeguard your family,” the paladin said. “If you cooperate with us, we can ensure your safety from reprisals.”
“But that would make me a snitch,” Savoureuse protested. “I would have to go back on my honor as a professional thug-for-hire and assassin.”
“The only honor in life for a mortal like you is to do as a dragon tells you!” Vainqueur responded with peerless logic. “The life of a wyrmling is on the line! Will you keep serving as the minion of creatures who will sink so low? Or will you choose to serve the best, most merciful, richest dragon in the world? Are you a Bella, or a Renfield?”
“I am a dragon,” Vainqueur cut her off. “And I am also an uncle. Anything that stands between me and my niece’s safety is not food. It is ashes. Are you ashes, Scaly Savoureuse?”
|Charisma check successful! It’s a critical!|
Scaly Savoureuse saw the light of dragon wisdom—helped by the smoke coming out of his nostrils—and turned her back on the darkness. “If my family and I are safe, I could… give away the locations of all the hidden warehouses we set up in Murmurin.”
“What about Charlene?” Manling Victor immediately pushed, once again only thinking about reproducing. “Miel?”
“Charlene is… sick.”
“Sick, as in blood sick?” Manling Victor asked, worried.
“Sick as in vampire sick,” Savoureuse admitted. “As for Miel, a doppelganger impersonated her to foster strife among Heaven and Happyland. I can testify—”
“Nobody cares!” Vainqueur snarled. “Where is the bat? Where is my niece?”
In front of the treacherous creature’s silence, the dragon decided to take matters into his own claws. “Give me the map, minion,” Vainqueur ordered, his friend obeying at once. “We will track down this overgrown bat immediately!”
“Wait, I need to equip myself first!”
“I’m coming as well,” Kia insisted.
“After you abandoned my niece? Never!” Vainqueur snarled, before turning to his minion. “No time to wait, Manling Victor! I will summon you when I catch her!” His niece’s life was on the line, and nothing else mattered.
“No, Your Majesty, you can’t—”
But Vainqueur had already extended his wings and flew away, the tiny map in his claws.
The sun had risen well above when Vainqueur located Lavere in the middle of the desert, far, far away from Murmurin.
The great dragon didn’t have to check his map; the vermin had summoned a sphere of darkness, that ‘underworld’ effect, right in the middle of the dunes. While his minions may not have seen well through these thick shadows, Vainqueur did. He could also smell the bat, Mell Lin, their servants… and most importantly, his niece.
Under other circumstances, Vainqueur would have fashionably announced his presence, or stealthily activated his blinkblink ring. But this time, he did not. This vermin would have naught but flames and destruction.
Instead, Vainqueur activated his [Charged Attack] Perk and unleashed a house-sized fireball at the dark sphere.
The resulting blast turned the very sand to molten glass, shredded the vampires and other monstrous vermin camouflaging within. The shadows fled before his flames, the effect dispelled.
|[Dark Underworld] field destroyed!|
As the shadowy orb vanished, the sun cast a bright light on the area. Jolie, his poor niece, had been bound by thick black chains and muzzled; a disgusting vampire, which he assumed to be Lucie Lavere, had survived his attack thanks to a shield of purple light; and Mell Lin stood nearby, his pipe in one hand and a strange, familiar bottle in the other. All their minions, Vainqueur had slain.
The dragon’s eyes immediately drifted to his niece, the sight enraging him. Her scales were covered in bruises, and one of her tiny horns had been cut like a twisted trophy. She looked up at her uncle with hope, straining against her bindings to join him, yet too young and weakened to do so.
Unfortunately, these… these cowards stayed close to Jolie, using her as a shield. Vainqueur knew his flames wouldn’t hurt her, but the blast might.
“To think I let you live,” Lavere growled, a wailing grimoire floating in front of her, while Mell Lin put the bottle in the sand, before playing his pipe and dancing around it. “What a mistake… [Soul Sacrifice: Unblockable Magic].”
|By sacrificing a stolen soul per spell, Lucie Lavere’s spell checks will automatically succeed against you!|
“I knew you could not resist the sweet, wonderful taste of dragon blood,” Vainqueur said with a growl. “Your thirst for this indescribable pleasure led you to your doom. You have touched my niece, and for this crime against me, you shall perish!”
“A dragon caring for another? Laughable,” Lucie taunted him while chuckling to herself. “The only thing that matters in this world, is power. [Shadow Chains].”
Black chains identical to those holding Jolie manifested around Vainqueur, trying to ensnare him. He easily broke them, his royal mantle shining as he did.
|Mobility reduction negated by your [Cloak of Golden Majesty].|
“I promise you this, batling,” Vainqueur warned, well and truly furious. “I will hold nothing back.”
“Then let’s finish this,” she replied with smug arrogance. “For I won’t let you, or anyone, interfere with my ambitions.”
Vainqueur answered by lunging towards her like a hawk diving at a mouse, claws extended. He activated [Fire Crown], his body exuding a mighty shroud of flames and burning Mot’s map in his hand; the great dragon had become a meteor falling on insects.
But as he closed the gap between his foes and himself, Mell Lin’s bottle began to open on its own; Vainqueur finally recognized it as the one keeping that fairy Mot trapped. Did these fools think the djinn could save them? It only meant more experience for the dragon to claim!
But instead of unleashing another fomor to die at his hands, the bottle began to suck air and sand.
Warning: [Bottle of Dragonbinding] activated by ???!
If you are dragged inside, you will be [Banished] to a pocket dimension!
Before Vainqueur knew what hit him, the bottle turned into a mighty vortex dragging him toward itself; the great dragon suddenly found himself forced to try and fly back not to be trapped by it. He immediately activated [Spell Purge], trusting it to defeat this witchery! It reduced the vortex’s power, yet couldn’t negate it.
“The pieces are falling into place,” Lavere gloated, skipping pages from her book while Mell Lin focused on singing. “[Doublecast].”
Lucie Lavere can now cast two spells at once!
[Bottle of Dragonbinding] negated by [Immovab—
“[Perk Binding],” the vampire said, her grimoire uttering the same sentence as she did.
|Your [Spell Purge] and [Immovable] Perks have been nullified!|
His favorite Perk stopped working, leaving him defenseless and ever closer to this prison. Vainqueur immediately attempted a last-ditch exorcism, but the vampire negated it with a [Counterspell]. Vainqueur tried to incinerate the item, only to watch his breath drawn inside.
“MINION!” Vainqueur shouted. “MINION! GET BACK HERE!”
|Victor Dalton cannot teleport for the day.|
What? How could his chief of staff go on strike at this critical moment?!
“Researching your perks, cutting away your key resources, and isolating you from them took time,” Lavere spoke with confidence. “But brains will always prevail over brawn. With your defeat, I will get a [Heroic Crest], and become closer to Valhalla.”
Vainqueur let out a furious snarl, as he fruitlessly struggled to escape the binding. His sweet niece looked up at him, her once-hopeful eyes now full of fear and despair.
This could not end like this! He was the great red dragon, the Emperor of Murmurin and the Albain Mountains, the richest in the world!
And yet, the wealthy always won, because the truly rich have friends.
|[Master’s Shield] activated! You gained the [Regen] status.|
A rift in space opened right behind Vainqueur’s enemies, a black, winged rider rushing through.
Bat Lavere and Mell Lin barely had the time to turn at the new threat, than Manling Victor was already on to them, carrying his scythe in one hand and his strange cannon in the other. He pointed his weapon at the bottle and fired a projectile.
While ridiculously weak in comparison with Vainqueur’s own fireball, the explosion shattered the bottle, threw Mell Lin backward, and blew dust in all directions.
“Minion!” Vainqueur rejoiced, as the vortex collapsed and died down, allowing him to land safely on the sand.
“Lavere, there’s a thing you don’t get,” Manling Victor taunted the bat, swinging his empowered scythe with moxie before trying to cut her down. “You can’t break a winning team!”
The vampire moved to dodge the attack, only to realize, too late, that she had been tricked. At the very last second, Manling Victor’s scythe deviated from her neck to her book and sliced it clean in half.
The grimoire immediately let out a final wail, hundreds, thousands of screaming souls escaping its strange pages, only to move back into Manling Victor’s scythe. When Bat Lavere managed to summon a shield between the chief of staff and herself, her prized weapon had already turned to dust.
|You have recovered the use of [Spell Purge]!|
“Winning team?” his chief of staff’s mount complained, as Manling Victor rushed back to his master’s side. “You horseslaver, you made me run all across the desert non-stop!”
The vampire’s eyes bulged in shock, yet managed to regain her composure. Jolie struggled against her bindings to escape, but the witch maintained her spell. “This is not over,” she promised. “I will find another way.”
“No, you will not.”
Mell Lin emerged from the dust cloud, almost as furious as Vainqueur himself. The fairy piper had stopped playing music and abandoned his disguise for his true, hideous, wooden face.
“That is your last chance,” Mell Lin warned the vampire, raising his cape to reveal a blackened crest. “Die to them, or die to us.” He tossed the item to Lavere, formed a fairy ring by rending space itself, and then fled like a coward as Vainqueur attempted to incinerate him.
“You… you traitor!” Unlike a true, dignified chief of staff, Bat Lavere had lost all composure at her master’s abandonment.
“Guess you’ve chosen the wrong crowd,” Manling Victor said. “It’s over.”
“I will just return to the dark,” Lavere replied, her ugly mammalian face twisted into a snarl, her eyes having turned crimson. “I can change my identity! Without the map, you have no way to track me down!”
“Our minions are already stamping out your hideouts in both Gardemagne and Murmurin as we speak,” Friend Victor taunted her. “You’re not going to run far, and you heard your forgiving master. Face it, either you kill us here, which you won’t, or they will finish you off for us. You’re cornered!”
The vampire glanced at the [Black Crest], clearly fearing to use it for some reason, and then turned to Vainqueur. The emperor could see the emotions in her eyes changing from anger, to fear, and then despair.
The dragon let out a furious roar and unleashed a torrent of furious flames at her. Lavere raised the Black Crest in response, the item crumbling into black dust, and unleashing its power.
A blast of purple, fairy energy surrounded her, repelling even Vainqueur’s fire. The vampire underwent a metamorphosis, her flesh turning purple and ripping her clothes apart. She grew enormous wings, sharp claws, and fangs. She increased in size until she almost matched Vainqueur himself in size, more a monstrous, primal bat than manling.
|Lucie Lavere used a [Black Crest] and gained ten Levels in the [Fairy Beast] class.|
The abomination let out a hiss, her hands suffused with dark magic. Fighting dragons was stupid, but in her eagerness to die, she would try.
In response, Vainqueur immediately activated his [Spell Purge] and launched a fireball at her. The creature transformed into a swarm of bats, dispersing to avoid the projectile, before quickly reforming on the dragon’s back. When he turned around to face her, Vainqueur found her throwing a sphere of dark energy at him.
His [Spell Reflection] activated, sending the sphere back at the witch. Her own projectile hit her in the head, making her stumble.
“Bat, you do not understand,” Vainqueur said, through playing. “You have done what only the evil Furibon and the elf grasshopper managed to do. You infuriated me.”
The dragon saw fear and dread in the bat’s eyes; as he should. Extending his own wings, his body covered in flames, Vainqueur charged at her with berserk rage, a winged incarnation of destruction.
She tried to keep him at bay with a volley of spells, of black cubes and frozen stars, only for them to reflect back at her. He punched her in the chest in response, shattering ribs and making her cough thick black blood. Except he didn’t stop and kept pummeling her.
As a last-ditch effort, she summoned a purple shield to defend herself, Vainqueur hitting it with his claws and shaking the desert with each strike.
Manling Victor, who had wisely stayed out of his master’s range, finally decided to speak up. “Your Majesty, can I borrow some of your immense lifeforce for a minute?!”
“This will come out of your pay!”
Manling Victor, ever ready to serve his master for free, sheathed back both of his weapons and raised his hands at the shield. “[Hades Blast]!”
Sorcery cackled from his fingertips, before taking the shape of a shining ray of purple light, whose might and shininess rivaled Vainqueur’s own breath. The laser smashed through Lavere’s defense, vaporizing the left side of her stomach while at it. Smoke sizzling from the wound.
|You sacrificed a quarter of your HP!|
Vainqueur punched the defenseless bat in the face, burning it. And then kept going, even as she retaliated with claws and fangs. It burned her more than it hurt him, and while she inflicted some damage, it didn’t even itch!
“Unshle, shesh drashon!” Jolie encouraged him through her muzzle. “ Unshle, shesh drashon!”
|Through [Master’s Shield], you have recovered all your HP!|
For the first time since Brandon Maure, Vainqueur fought seriously.
If she had confronted him back when Vainqueur hadn’t rediscovered the great, dragon-made system, she might have been a challenge… but for every strike she made, the dragon returned each hit tenfold. Her spells bounced back at her, and without her magic or trickery, the bat couldn’t stand against him. He didn’t leave her any opening, deflecting her punches with his mastery of brawling, and retaliated with deadly strikes of his own.
And unlike Vainqueur, she was alone.
“[Hades Blast]!” Manling Victor repeated the process again and again, overwhelming the witch with spells. He waited for Vainqueur to recover his energy, then struck again; when Lavere attempted to escape Vainqueur by transforming into a bat swarm, he shot them all, forcing her to reform. He cost the Emperor more health than the creature’s claws, yet for once, the dragon let him play.
For it wasn’t a fight.
It was an execution.
“Stop, please…” the monster rasped, her wings broken, her flesh burnt to the bone. “I yield… I yield… I will pay you… I will pay… the Apple… gold... anything…”
Vainqueur was good and merciful. He had accepted tribute for insults to his person.... but by threatening his family, she had committed a crime of lese majesté. For this, there was no forgiveness.
Instead of granting her mercy, he seized the bat by the shoulders, kept her in place, and opening his mouth.
“[Charged Attack: Dragon Breath]!”
Within seconds, his almighty flames turned the sand to glass, and her body to dust. As he had promised, by threatening his niece, Bat Lavere had become ashes.
She didn’t even drop a crest, nor loot.
Congratulations! By cornering and demolishing the Nightblades’ leader, you earned four levels in [Augustus]! You earned the [Shining Majesty] and [Golden Road] Class Perks!
Your Witch Hunter can be promoted into either [Hellsing] or [Witchfinder General].
+120 HP, +10 SP, +8 STR, +1 VIT, +4 SKI, +4 AGI, +2 INT, +8 CHA.
[Shining Majesty]: Technique, 120 SP. Your scales can unleash a mighty, searing flash of light, bombarding peons with a glorious vision of your hoard. This inflicts heavy [Light] damage, and the target suffers from the [Blind] ailment on a failed Vitality check and/or [Enthrall] ailments on a failed Charisma check.
[Golden Road]: Technique, 30 SP per 5 seconds. You can create an [Portal] as per the spell, but only to open a spatial doorway leading to your hoard.
With Lavere’s demise, the chains holding Jolie turned to shadowy dust, finally freeing her. “Uncle!” his adorable niece cried.
“It is over, Jolie,” Vainqueur promised, rushing to her side and cradling his niece in his arms. “The evil bat is gone!”
“Am I…” She looked up at him with her cute eyes. “Am I still grounded?”
“Of course not,” Vainqueur reassured her. “You are not grounded anymore.”
“Thanks, Uncle!” Jolie replied, the tears in her eyes gone, before hopping out of his arms. Vainqueur remained speechless, with the feeling he had been tricked somehow.
Yet, as a shower of gold fell from the heavens to reward his good work, the dragon abandoned himself to the blissful feeling of absolute victory.
“Is it raining gold?” Manling Victor’s mount asked, in awe of Vainqueur’s ever-growing fortune.
“It’s a golden shower,” the chief of staff replied with a sarcastic tone. “It’s a president thing.”