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Vainqueur Knightsbane, First of His Name, Great Calamity of the Age, Defender of the Hoard, Greatest Gladiator, Genius Wizard Presidente, and August Emperor of Murmurin, Ishfania, and the Albain Mountains, bravely fought against the invaders with claws and flames.

The great red dragon, his majestuous royal mantle swirling to the tune of the wind, shielded the pens with his very body, his crown shining under the brilliant sun. The broken bodies of the attackers laid at his feet, yet more refused to surrender their assault, spurred by greed.

His enemies glared at him with oversized black eyes, as dark as the darkest night; these mockeries of manlings, with willowy limbs and hairless grey skin, had crossed the portal in mass to try and raid his pens. Even looking at all the flesh in their bulbous, oversized head, Vainqueur could not bring himself to eat them. These critters were evil incarnate, worse than any fairy!

No matter how many he killed, more kept coming!

“[Psyshock]!” one of the Greys shouted, he and a dozen of his kindred uniting their forces to unleash a barrage of psychic energy at Vainqueur. The dragon shrugged it off, but some of the creatures tried to exploit his distraction to rush at the pens. Vainqueur let out a fearsome roar, opened his mouth, and blasted them apart before they could approach.

Critical hit! You inflicted super-effective damage to [The Greys].

As he kept breathing fireballs, Vainqueur realized that he should have known. He should have known it would come to this.

Once upon a time, the Moon Man came down from the planet Moon, followed by its eldritch children. In their vileness, the vermin tried to take the dragons’ second-most precious possession, causing Vainqueur’s kind to remind them of the food chain.

He should have known that with the portal to the moon open, the vengeful descendants of those the dragons pushed back to space would try to renew hostilities. Vainqueur had decided to take the matter in his own claws.

He had to protect them.

“Fight for the CLF!” the Greys’ chief said, renewing the assault. “Fight for the Cattle Liberation Front! We shall save the blessed mother cows from dragon depredation!”

“You shall not steal the cattle!” Vainqueur snarled. “They want to be eaten by me!”

Protected inside their pens, cows made noises in response, defending their dragon-given right to feed their emperor.

As the Greys threatened to overwhelm him, Vainqueur decided to unleash his trump card: the forbidden spell, which guaranteed victory! “[Geomancy]!”

Geomancy activated! Field Type: Desert Grassland.

 

Effect: [Gale Slash]!


The very winds bent to the Emperor’s will, turning into sharp, swirling blades. Moving as fast as sound itself, they scarred the terrain and shredded the Greys to ribbons, down to the last one.

As Vainqueur surveyed the bloody battlefield, he let out a sigh of relief. The food was safe…

But for how long?

Vainqueur allowed himself a moment of rest, only for a newcomer to deliver more bad news.

“Your Majesty, we need your guidance.” Jules the Necromancer came to him; since Manling Victor, chief among the minions had left for a diplomatic visit with Vampire Charlene, the crimson cowled corpseling assisted Vainqueur in enforcing the imperial peace. “Troublemakers keep disturbing the peace again.”

“Whom?” Vainqueur asked. With the constant influx of new minions coming in since the opening of the gate and his declaration of war against the fomors, he could no longer keep track.

“The orcs.”

The dragon grunted in frustration. “What did they do this time?”

“They caused an accident at the marketplace, throwing themselves in front of a dwarf-made automated cart,” Corpseling Jules explained. “The scene threw the merchants in disarray.”

Disturbed merchants meant less gold in Vainqueur’s hoard, and the orcs had caused no less than two dozen incidents since their tribe settled in his lands. “Enough is enough.”

“Do we Chocolatine them?” Corpseling Jules suggested.

“No,” Vainqueur decided. “I need more living minions to build my arena, and while I enjoy Sweet Chocolatine’s cakes, orcs are not proper ingredients. They taste of flies and dung.”

No, he would deal with the matter himself. Vainqueur had tamed worse minions.

“Clean this up,” the great dragon ordered Corpseling Jules, before extending his wings and flying away. The necromancer immediately raised the remnants of the Greys into flesh golems.

As he flew towards the marketplace, Vainqueur oversaw his territory with a keen eye. The portal to the planet Moon had grown wider, to allow more madmen to travel to this… this dragon hell; and help others escape it. Out of pure sympathy for the poor creatures trapped there, the dragon had welcomed all refugees from the terrible, lead cursed place.

Most of them, while squidly, tentacled, or many-legged, had proved themselves to be excellent minions, making nests in the formerly inhospitable desert, turning the desert purple by seeding it with new plants, and even built a strangely angled district called Little R’Lyeh.

Thanks to Vainqueur’s own [Geomancer] prowesses and these newcomers, the desert was being pushed back farther and farther with each day. New mines opened every day, bringing silver and gems to his hoard to complement his gold. And as he had ordered, his minions were steadily building a great arena for the Summer Solstice, where the crowds would shower the dragon with gold.

Life was good, even without quests.

Yet Vainqueur’s heart yearned for more action. With four months away from Halloween, the dragon needed to accumulate enough gold to win his bet with his rival Icefang, and show him his place; and his minions steadily trained to fight the cursed fairies who had harassed the Emperor since his awakening. The more time passed, the more impatient he grew.

Vainqueur quickly reached the marketplace, quickly finding the place of the incident.

The iron, powerstone-powered cart laid on the side in the middle of an alley, Agarthan dwarves trying to repair it. A gathering of orcs surrounded it with impatience, as if eager to throw themselves at it again; the men did at least, while their females scolded them. Merchants and customers glared at them in annoyance and sighed in relief to see Vainqueur’s shadow.

Green-skinned like vegetables, the worst kind of food, orcs looked similar to manlings; except bigger, hairier, meaner, and with tusks. Unlike goblins, they garbed themselves in strange clothes, these ‘shirts,’ ‘sweaters,’ and ‘pants,’ most of them so old and dirty Vainqueur could smell them from a mile away. The female, more tribal, preferred to wear less clothes and more tattoos.

Ever since they arrived on a ship from the western continent, they had only caused trouble. Unlike the dutiful kobolds, they didn’t work, spending all their time drinking or playing at Tasty Malfy’s casino.

Time to teach them the virtue of hard work, Vainqueur thought, as he landed in front of the crowd, intimidating them.

“Yer Majesty!” one of the orcs said, his knee wounded. The dragon guessed this was the one responsible for the incident.

“Why?” Vainqueur demanded answers. “Why did you throw yourself at a fellow minion’s cart?”

“To complete the Isekai Reincarnation rite!” the orc replied. “And I would have gotten away with it were it not for this dwarf veering off at the last second!”

“Ise… kai?” Vainqueur asked, the word sounding vaguely familiar.

“We believe in the one true religion: the Esoteric Order of the New World,” the orc explained. “Founded by our Claimed prophet Orknoob, who discovered the path to the mythical world of Earth. A world where every food is fast, and all women schoolgirls.”

Vainqueur remembered where he had heard of that strange cult. Back in that peasant village of Haudemer. One of the believers had harassed Manling Victor, who called this faith a scam. “Is it not a false religion?” the dragon pondered.

“Of course not!” the wounded knee orc replied.

“We have figured out the criteria needed to be reincarnated to another world,” another said. “First, be a student!”

One of their kindred immediately began to complete their demonstration, having learned the knowledge by heart. “Second, be unemployed!”

“Third, be amazing at games!”

“Fourth, be a virgin, or build a harem! There’s no middle ground!”

“And finally, die by being hit by a car-cart!”

“It’s not faith,” the first orc said. “It’s science. We’re still unsure if guys and girls can both reincarnate to the mythical island of Japan, however. Not enough studies and the prophet’s scriptures are unclear.”

“Japan?” a nearby duergar merchant asked his customer, an alien creature from the planet Moon.

“I heard the local manlings do offensive things to squids they capture, as part of their education,” the moon beast shuddered. “Never send your squidspawn there, carbon creature.”

Vainqueur, who had patiently listened, squinted at these creatures. “How did your species avoid extinction so far?”

“We orcs are born winners, with great health and vitality!” the wounded orc replied proudly.

“We shall reach the world of Earth!” the orc men boasted as one. This? This was why the other dragons couldn’t learn about the shameful secret of mortality. Vainqueur shuddered at the thought of weak-willed kindred listening to these idiots.

“Certainly not!” a busty orc matron scolded her kindred. “Get a job and put meat on the table!”

“See?” the accused replied. “That is why women don’t go to Japan! You do not believe in the true religion!”

“I knew I should have found a strong partner instead of following a deluded fool!” the matron complained.

Vainqueur strongly considered sending away these idiots to Sweet Chocolatine, bitter taste or not, before finding in his heart the patience to teach these creatures the proper way.

“Orcs, you are now my minions,” the dragon reminded them. “Your men will stop throwing yourself at my lackeys’ carts and pay me back for letting you live by building my arena. You will breed with smarter minions, like Manling Victor, so my new generation of lackeys does not inherit your stupidity. Or else you will be food.”

“Mmm…” The wounded-knee orc looked up at Vainqueur, suddenly realizing how small he was compared to his Emperor. “This is a very authoritative statement.”

“But a true orc only accepts one authority,” a male orc replied, searching in his pocket and bringing out a deck of cards. “That of the duel!”

“You challenge me to a card game?” Vainqueur asked. While he would never admit it out loud, the idea made him curious.

“A human children’s card game!” the orc corrected. “If you win, I shall do as you say, but if I do… then you shall throw the cart yourself!”

Vainqueur scoffed. “How laughable that you would believe a dragon capable of losing! Very well, I will teach you a lesson and destroy you at your own game.”

“DUEL!” The male orcs chanted, much to their women’s exasperation, one of them tossing a card deck at Vainqueur’s feet.

Vainqueur raised a claw, prepared to draw…

Only for him to struggle to grab the tiny deck with his great claws.

“Minion!” Vainqueur called, before remembering his trusty sidekick had left for the time being. He turned to the orc matron. “You, you are now my official card holder! Draw my cards with your small hands!”

The woman nodded and drew five cards, seemingly eager to assist the dragon in putting this overmighty minion in his place.

[King of Games] activated.

“Ore-sama no turn,” his orc ‘adversary’ declared upon drawing a card in his deck, bringing his total hand to six. “I summon Beast King—”

“I WIN!” Vainqueur cut him off, upon seeing his hand.

“Not yet!” his arrogant foe replied. “My perfect strategy has not even begun!”

“That is what the cards say,” Vainqueur pointed out, the matron revealing his hand to his enemy, “IWIN!” Each of the five cards had one part of the message printed on them.

As his foe watched the hand, so did the colors of his face leave. “The five automatic-win card combo...”

“On a first draw?” One of his kindred froze, his fellows gasping in shock. “The chances are one in millions!”

“That’s beginner’s luck,” the one with the wounded knee said, taking over for his fallen friend, “Give him another deck! I shall be his next opponent!”


“I win again!” Vainqueur boasted, the tenth orc to rise and challenge him. “I love this game! I always win!”

By now, many more citizens had gathered to watch their emperor destroy his opposition, whistling to encourage their master. The great dragon had filled his side of the field with powerful minions, which he had fused, revived, enhanced, ritual tributed, Z-powered, and cross-summoned into a formidable army.

So many ways to crush his puny rivals!

“This is cheating!” one of the orcs accused Vainqueur. “You cheat!”

Vainqueur saw red, hitting the ground with his hand and making houses shake. “You dare accuse a fair and noble dragon of cheating?” The crowd booed the orcs in support.

“He is using his Perks, but so do you!” one of the orc women pointed out, relishing in the humiliation of their arrogant mates. “Step up your game instead of whining like goblins!”

“If you did not want to lose, you should have been born dragons!” Vainqueur lambasted these cowards.

“We need to change the game!” the eleventh challenger said. “I challenge you to Blackjack!”

“Bring it, minions!”


“Royal Flush House!” Vainqueur gloated, as his assistant revealed another winning hand. The dragon grabbed the pile of money,

Not only did he show these minions their place, he had grown even richer by winning all of their money!

“He keeps topdecking instant win cards.” One of the orc gambler’s stares wandered off in the distance, his spirit crushed by Vainqueur’s invincibility. “How? How does he keep topdecking the best cards? On his first draws!”

“That dragon is grossly overpowered!” another of his kindred complained, having himself been thoroughly bested at Blackjack before.

“As it should be!” Vainqueur stated the absolute truth. His winning streak had pumped him for more. “Bring me more money!”

“You have… you have defeated the entire tribe…” the wounded knee orc said. “We… we all lost…”

“Is this Victor meaty enough?” one of the orc matrons asked. “Does he have tusks?”

“No, but he has dragon wings, which makes him superior to all non-dragon lifeforms,” Vainqueur said. “Who else would challenge me next? I thirst for the taste of victory!”

“You are the strongest player I have seen since…” the orc gasped, before uttering cursed words. “Since that lich Furibon…”

Vainqueur’s good mood instantly soured. The orc cowered, as the dragon’s burning eyes set on him. “Did you say Furibon?”

“D-Does Yer Majesty knows him?”

“Where?!” Vainqueur roared, the very ground shaking before his wrath. “Where is he? What is he plotting?”

The orc fell on his ass, scrambling to flee his rightful emperor, but prevented from doing so by the very cart he tried to die too. “To El Dorado!”

“Eldorawhat?”

“The lost city of gold, beyond the Thaoten Empire! I heard he led an expedition there!”

The very picture of dragon heaven appeared in Vainqueur’s mind.

A glorious city, where all was made of the purest, shining gold. Houses shining brighter than the sun; rivers of molten platinum, gardens of gems, growing from the earth; a mountain of coins, waiting for a dragon to claim them.

And then…

All of it turning to lead. A dream turning to nightmare, as Furibon’s laugh echoed in dark triumph.

The fairies would wait.

Vainqueur had to save paradise first.

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Void Herald

Bio: I'm Maxime Julien Durand ([email protected]), a European warlock living in the distant realm known as France, spending half my time writing and the other half managing magical websites.

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