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“I suggest we run,” Manling Victor pleaded to his master.

The dragon glanced down at his minion. The two had gathered, alongside Sweet Chocolatine—why a disaster happened whenever his lackey prepared to breed, Vainqueur would never understand—in the tropical forest to make their stand, before Wotan’s arrival. The gate to his hoard, created by [Golden Road], remained open next to them; the dragon had tossed his full princess bag atop his mountains of gold.

“We will not retreat, minion,” Vainqueur replied, the overwhelming pressure of the enemy's aura growing stronger. “We shall make our stand there. Wotan cost me a crown, and I will have Troll Barnabas craft me a new one from his bones.”

“It was a miracle we survived his [Ragnarok] spell the first time,” his Grand Vizier pointed out. “While we have advance warning this time, we are fighting a lightning user in the middle of the ocean. If we laid an ambush on more favorable terrain...”

“On the contrary, minion, I believe we must face him in this place. We have the power, we have the skills, we have the will. Wotan will not relent in his hunt, and a dragon does not run.”

“You have me, Vic!” Chocolatine said with conviction. “I can summon help!”

“If the terrain does not favor us, we must change it,” Vainqueur decided. “The foe we face is strong, but V&V does not know defeat! We have bested grasshoppers, vampires, fairies, and all foes who stood in my way! The empire will prevail!”

Charisma check successful! You have reminded your servant of your own invincibility!

“Alright, in that case, no time to waste,” Manling Victor said, with the true authority of a tactical chief of staff. “I will call allies with my [Diabolism] spells, and so will Chocolatine. Meanwhile, His Majesty must burn the forest to the ground.”

“This will reveal our location, minion,” Vainqueur pointed out.

“But the smoke and flames will reduce their air maneuverability, and both of us are immune to fire. Not them.” He turned to Chocolatine. “Can you—”

“[Fire Ward],” the priestess replied, casting protection on herself.

Vainqueur moved to action. Closing his [Golden Road] to keep his SP, he unleashed his mighty breath on the trees. Within seconds, he started an inferno so powerful, even the rain could not extinguish it. His flames spread all around the group, smoke, and steam filling up the skies.

“[Summon Prayer of Isengrim]!” Chocolatine prayed, two giant golden wolves materializing at her side. The sweet girl herself soon transformed into a silver-furred werewolf, her clothes adapting to her new size, and she quickly cast fire protection spells on her allies.

Manling Victor’s own summoning sounded decidedly more impressive. “[Ars Goetia: Happyland Battle Harem]!”

In total, eight creatures materialized to answer his chief of staff, each of them female. Four manling-like females with velvet bat wings and sinuous pointy tail; two dark cousins of Miel the angel, with black feathered wings and wielding bows of fire; and finally two womanly creatures with the lower body of snakes and six arms instead of two, each carrying a different weapon.

“Oh, hi Mr. Victor,” one of the serpentlike women said, sounding like the leader of the troop. “Good to see you again. Why did you call our company for? Security service, or the group massage special?”

“Vic...” Chocolatine trailed, sound half jealous, half hungry. “What are these, a buffet? Succubi are not good at fighting!”

“We find the term ‘succubi’ old fashioned and racially demeaning,” one of the bat-winged demoness’ replied. “We prefer the term ‘horizontal angels.’”

“I swear they are very good at close combat,” Manling Victor said. “I checked. Also, battle special.”

"Oh," one of the winged creatures said, disappointed.

“The happiness of our major shareholders is the paramount goal of our VIP security company,” the second snake creature said. Vainqueur found it very pleasing to see his minion had recruited more 'scaled' creatures. “Ladies, form a perimeter.”

“I cannot cast protection spells on His Majesty since your [Spell Purge] will remove them,” Manling Victor lamented, raising his hands at the skies. “But I can take away that storm [Control Weather: Sunny Day]!”

Obeying the might of Manling Victor’s sorcery, the rainy clouds dispersed, letting the bright sun shine strong in the skies.

The weather condition changed to [Sunny Day]! [Fire], [Plant], [Light] and [Sun] effects will be strengthened, while [Water], [Darkness], and [Frost] effects are weakened!

 

“Good, now [Spirit Shield].” The minion summoned his protective barrier around himself, but no sooner did he do so, than dark clouds and lightning bolts reappeared.

King Wotan’s [Storm Caller] passive Perk changed the weather to [Heavy Thunderstorm]! [Lightning], [Wind] and [Water] attacks will be greatly strengthened, [Fire] attacks will be weakened!

 

“Argh, the storm is a passive ability,” Victor complained, as he kept casting buffing spells on himself. “I can counter it, but whenever my focus slips away, it returns… and he can strengthen [Ragnarok].”

Once, Vainqueur would have flown straight to the enemy, fearlessly engaged him in aerial combat without bothering to prepare. He would have fought Wotan the dragon way.

But Bat Lavere had taught him a very important lesson when she had almost trapped the dragon in a bottle. That some foes could hurt him, and underestimating them could be fatal. If Wotan had trained all his life to fight dragons, then Vainqueur would defeat him as a dragon tactician.

“Then minions, you shall protect my Vizier, while he clears the weather,” Vainqueur declared with his commander voice. “Do not let Wotan summon his lightning. [Fire Crown], [Spell Purge]!”

As flames surrounded his body, incinerating his captain’s hat but leaving his kingly mantle unharmed, Manling Victor once again cleared the skies of the thunderstorm… only for an arrow of light to pierce the smoke clouds, aiming straight at Manling Victor.

“[Heartseeker Spear]!”

“[Victory Fist],” Vainqueur said as he flew towards the projectile, deflecting it from its course with his hands. An electrical shroud around the weapon damaged his claws slightly, but the spear landed on cindered trees nearby, having widely missed its targets.

Here came Dragonbane.

Riding on his monstrous horse’s back, King Wotan flew through the clouds of smoke, eight valkyries following him. His spear returned to his hand without a word, while Vainqueur’s wounds closed on their own as [Master’s Shield] activated.

The fairy lord offered no word of warning, no unworthy boast. He offered Vainqueur only the swift promise of a fight to the death.

“[Call the Hunt],” Wotan thundered, two monstrous fairy beasts appearing in a puff of smoke among the flames, trapping Manling Victor’s group in a pincer attack. These elephant-sized hounds of pure darkness growled back at Chocolatine’s wolves, who howled back. Meanwhile, the fomor’s valkyries called upon a ghostly, warrior spirit each, doubling their numbers.

“Sigrun!” Wotan pointed his spear at Vainqueur. “Leave the dragon to me, and slay the rest!”

“[Master’s Aegis]!” One of the valkyries, which Vainqueur assumed to be the leader, called upon her magic. Silvery bonds of light briefly linked Wotan and his escort before vanishing.

Half of any damage King Wotan receives shall be distributed to his Valkyries!

 

Good, that way Vainqueur could kill them all at once!

“For the empire!” the great wyrm roared, as he lunged at Wotan in the skies, leaving his minions to fight in the burning forest. “For my hoard!”

[Victory Roar] activated! All enemies had their strength lowered by one stage!

Stat decrease negated by King Wotan’s [Fomor Arrogance]!

 

The dragon and the fairy lord circled one another above the burning forest, while on the ground their minions fiercely engaged one another amidst the flames. Vainqueur opened his mouth to unleash a devastating fireball, opening the hostilities.

The fairy lord called upon a shield of swirling winds, deflecting the flames around his horse and himself. He charged at the dragon, intending to pierce his hide, and Vainqueur welcomed the closer proximity. Trusting in his abilities, the Emperor attempted to grab the spear and disarm Wotan, pulling him from his horse.

But the fairy lord, sensing a trap, immediately backed down, the dragon pursuing him relentlessly.

“You fight better, Knightsbane, but not well enough.” King Wotan enhanced his spear and lightning, clearly intending to replicate the strategy that allowed him to surprise Vainqueur last time. “[Supreme Thunder: Dragonslayer], [Maximize Lightning].”

King Wotan’s [Lightning] attacks will ignore resistance, and inflict additional [Dragonslayer] damage!

[Lightning] element greatly strengthened!

 

The dragon didn’t let him. “[Shining Majesty]!”

Vainqueur’s scales brightened to gold, and then unleashed a searing, blinding flash of light. King Wotan, too certain that his windy shield would protect him, was hit head-on.

A glorious vision of Vainqueur’s boundless hoard manifested in the light, burning the fomor’s skin and blinding his last eye. While his magic protected the fomor from most of the damage, his horse let out a scream of pain, as the light cleansed his flesh from his bones.

Now a shining, burning star, Vainqueur lunged at Wotan and dragged him from his dying mount, crashing the now unhorsed fairy on the fiery ground below.

Wotan attempted to free himself, his body coating itself in electricity; lightning which bypassed both his [Mirror Scale] and [Spell Purge]. His wounds regenerating as soon as they opened, Vainqueur kept the fomor firmly in his claws, knowing his flames and light would hurt his foe more.

And harm him he did. Vainqueur kept flying while hammering the fomor against the fiery ground, leaving a trail of cinders in his wake. Finally, he opened his mouth to try and breathe directly in the hunter’s face, as he did against that golem in the north.

“[Eye of Odin],” Wotan snarled, a phantom blue eye appearing where the right one should have been. Somehow able to now withstand the vision of Vainqueur’s beautiful hoard, the fomor speared the dragon through the shoulder, his thunderous spear piercing his scales like butter.

You took heavy [Dragonslayer] damage!

 

Vainqueur let out a cry of pain, the wound forcing him to release Wotan from his grasp. He took his flight, circled around the burning battleground, and prepared to firebomb the fomor lord from above.

“[Hasten], [Skill Up].” Having risen up and recovered, the fomor began to move at incredible speeds, dodging Vainqueur's attack and retaliating by raising his spear at his flying foe. The weapon’s tip unleashed a mighty thunderbolt at the dragon, hitting him in the chest.

You took massive damage! You lost a fourth of your HP!

 

The sheer power of the blow interrupted Vainqueur’s [Shining Majesty] and propelled him backward, to crash near the bottom of the island’s mountain. His scales hit the rocky ground with a loud noise.

[Master’s Shield] negated by distance!

 

Vainqueur barely had the time to get on his back legs before Wotan charged at him, faster than ever. Having changed the field enough, the dragon immediately switched to magic. “[Geomancy]!”

The very ground shook under the might of his magic, causing Wotan to lose his footing and interrupt his charge.

Geomancy activated! Field Type: Volcanic Island.

Effect: [Eruption].

 

At the center of the island, a mountain’s tip detonated, casting rocks, ashes, and flames all across the island. The sun vanished, obscured by the natural disaster, while the entire landmass trembled.

Vainqueur let out a roar as he charged to continue the battle anew, the volcano answering with a mighty explosion.


The battle had turned into a brutal fight, long before the ground trembled.

Protected behind both his barrier and allies, Victor had spent the last few minutes struggling to prevent Wotan’s supernatural storm from reasserting itself, a task which needed almost all of his concentration. He had been reduced to watching his allies fight on their own, which frustrated him to no end.

But thankfully, Chocolatine could handle herself.

Leading her wolves like a pack, she had engaged Wotan’s shadowy hounds, breaking the pincer maneuver and allowing the fiends to engage the valkyries without interruption. Their preparations had paid dividends; with their magical fire resistance, the forest fire burned their enemies but not the V&V member or her wolves, giving them a slight advantage.

Still, the hounds fought back with fury, outmatching the wolves in size and power. Each blow of their clawed hands created small craters, and one bite would break the wolves in half… if they could touch them. While Chocolatine’s wolves circled around one of the hounds, the first serving as a lure while the second attacked from behind, the priestess had engaged the other fairy beast on her own. She kept praying to Isengrim, casting spells on herself to move faster, hit harder, and wound the beast with rays of light. The fairy beast had lost one eye and searing flames immolated it from head to toes, while the werewolf remained unscathed.

In fact, she seemed to be enjoying herself.

She can spellcast while in monster form, Victor realized. That [Mook Promotion] hadn’t been in vain! Eventually, Chocolatine jumped at the hound’s throat and tore it out, the monstrous creature collapsing among the flames. The werewolf immediately moved to help her summoned allies against the remaining beast.

Meanwhile, though, the valkyries and their undead soldiers had proved themselves a lot more difficult to fend off. Having figured out his role in weakening their master, they kept launching spears of light at Victor, healed themselves from their burns with spells, and fought together as a well-trained warband. While the smoke filling the air had forced them to the ground and on unfavorable terrain, they outnumbered his fiendish bodyguards by two to one.

Although they struggled to hold against the siege, his summoned fiends managed so far. Their tactic was deceptively simple: the succubi used spells to create protective wards and walls of ice to delay the attacks, or enthralled the warrior spirits into attacking the valkyries whenever they could wrest control. Meanwhile, his serpentine mariliths ruthlessly cut swaths of fury and steel through the enemy formation, preventing the valkyries from making any focused push. The erinyes remained behind as the last line of defense, supporting their coworkers by firing arrows of destruction.

“The more you kill, the bigger the golden parachute!” Victor shouted to encourage them. “And you get a company dwarven car, each!”

[Rally Minion] activated! All your minions’ stats increased by one stage.

 

Enhanced by his tirades, his fiends had defended him well. Often, one of the Valkyries burned without warning or found herself vaporized by searing light; Victor assumed they took on the damage which should have hit Wotan himself.

The more he observed, the more he had grown convinced some of them had levels in a variant of his own [Monster Knight]. [Master’s Aegis] effect was too close to [Master’s Shield] for it to be a coincidence.

How long could they hold? How long would it take for Vainqueur to defeat the fomor?

The mountain exploded in an orgy of smoke and flames, answering his question.

The Vizier’s concentration allowed him to maintain the weather effect, but as the skies darkened and the very ground beneath his feet trembled, he realized the island was doomed. The eruption would wipe away its entire surface, leaving nothing but ashes behind.

Meanwhile, Victor could see the flashes of his master fighting Wotan at the bottom of the mountain. Watching the duel of the titans from the distance was something to behold, but the hunter pushed Vainqueur away from his allies, and closer to the devastating eruption. Without his regeneration, the dragon might die from attrition or the island’s destruction, even without the fomor activating [Ragnarok].

In spite of the distance, Victor tried to use his [Monster Insight] perk on Wotan, to check his class fomor theory…

And much to his horror, instead of nothing, the system provided him with a screen.

Storm King Wotan

Soulcrested Fomor (Fairy/Elemental)

Level: 35 (Kaiser (Fairy Lord) 15, Dragonslayer 10, Stormbringer 9, Berserker 1)

Strong against: all status ailments, stat debuffs, Fairy, Fire, Dragon, Lightning, Water, Earth, Wind, critical hits, Insta-death, non-cold iron Physical attacks.

Weak against: Fairyslayer, Elementslayer, Poison, Beast, and Starmetal.

The mightiest dragonslayer among the fomors and Odin’s inspiration on Earth, Wotan gained a soul through Mell Odieuse’s Soulcrest, and thus the ability to level up. In return for this favor, the fairy tyrant asked him to bring her Vainqueur’s head. Bound by an alien, but ironclad, warrior king code, Wotan will not relent until he keeps his word or dies trying. Maybe both.

In short, kick his fairy ass!

 

“Your Highness!” As if sharing the Vizier’s very thoughts about their master’s well-being, one of the valkyries, the leader, abandoned the fight to rush towards the mountain.

That was it. “[Pact with the Archfiends],” Victor cast his best [Diabolism] spells, his body transforming into a paragon of demonic majesty.

You sacrificed half your HP to gain the power of an [Archfiend].

[Troll Regeneration] activated!

Best combo ever, but it cost him his focus on the weather, allowing lightning to once more crackle in the skies. No time to waste.

“Evacuate the island!” Victor ordered, dispelling his shield and cutting down a warrior spirit in his way, his scythe gorging itself on his soul. “I will go help Vainqueur!”

“But Vic—” Chocolatine began to protest as her wolves chewed the last fairy hound to death, but he didn’t give her time to complain.

“You!” Victor turned to his demonic employees. “Take my girlfriend to Happyland if you must, but go!”

Somehow, his wording was enough to silence Chocolatine - in fact, she swooned in response. As a succubus immediately started spellcasting to open a portal, Victor charged towards the volcano, cutting a swath of destruction through whoever stood between him and the mountain.

No friend left behind.

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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.

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