Having witnessed an eruption once, when the mountain began to tremble, Victor did the responsible thing.
Gorynych immediately flew away, Vainqueur wisely following right afterward. Within a minute, a resonance spread through the crater, its powerstones fracturing; within the blink of an eye, the crystal landscape shattered like glass.
Instead of an eruption or a fiery explosion, powerstone shards simply flew in all directions. A destructive rain of crystals fell upon the mountainside and the surrounding forest, although both dragons successfully navigated through them. The shards pierced the earth like arrows, becoming shining hills.
“Gorynych saved master from shiny stones!” his mount said with pride, as the stone rain quickly ended. “Gorynych is a good zmey! Oh yes!”
“Holy…” Kia pointed a finger at an enormous shape breaking through the crater.
Mag Mell’s monster had woken up and escaped.
The creature was a true titan, and a terror to behold; a gigantic, one hundred and thirty feet long dinosaur straight out of prehistoric times. The colossus had six limbs, four legs carrying it while two served as its arms. Meanwhile, the crimson beast’s horned head reminded Victor of a T-rex, albeit one with armored plates protecting most of its upper jaw. A spiky bone carapace covered its back like a turtle, and its long tail ended in a scorpion stinger.
The creature was twice as big as Vainqueur, and the dragon could already lift a horse with one hand!
Worse, it was fast. The last of the powerstones hadn’t even landed, and the creature had already climbed down the mountainside, trampling trees below its clawed feet.
“A Tarasque!” Kia immediately recognized the monster, even before Victor analyzed it with [Monster Insight].
Strong against: Debuffs, most magical attacks, Drain, Disease, Fire, Mind-affecting effects, Paralysis, Petrification, Poison, status ailments, Fairy.
Weak against: Acid, Cold, Giantslayer, Scaleslayer.
This progenitor of all lesser Tarasques is a prehistoric dinosaur which grew to gigantic size thanks to powerstones, and one of Outremonde’s superbosses. Magical attacks are reflected back at the sender by its carapace, and it can regenerate from almost anything. Programmed to destroy Murmurin by Mag Mell's [Worldshaker Ritual], it will move in a straight line towards it, trample half the world on its way there, and finally return home to sleep. Real estate crisis incoming!
Recommended party level: 75.
“It’s aiming for Murmurin, in a straight line!” Their empire was on the other side of the world, and even if it would take weeks for it to reach the capital, the creature would kill thousands on its way there. And while weaker than Akhenapep, it shouldn't be underestimated either.
“Onogoro is on its path!” Kia warned, the creature moving towards the Teikoku's imperial city at twenty-five miles per hour.
|Intelligence check successful.|
“Three hours,” Victor calculated, using both the distance between the city and the creature’s rough speed as a metric. “Three hours before it reaches it.”
“That creature will not get anywhere near my hoard!” Vainqueur declared, caring more about protecting his gold than the city. “I will take care of that animal myself. You, Friend Victor, find me that fairy! I have had enough of his constant meddling!”
The dragon immediately flew after the beast, leaving Mag Mell to his chief of staff. Victor hoped that he could handle the creature on his own. “He cannot have run far,” the Vizier said. “Gorynych, can you survey the mountain?”
“No, Victor, you don’t know Mag Mell the way I do,” Kia replied, having fought the fomor during the war with King Balaur. “He is a crafty coward, who fears anyone stronger than him; enough that he sends proxies after Vainqueur instead of risking a direct battle. He will only go after targets who can’t defend themselves against him. Now, knowing that his only goal is to kill as many mortals as possible, what is the most devastating move that he could make right now?”
“... prevent Onogoro city from evacuating, maximizing casualties when the Tarasque reaches it.” With the bonus of luring them away from Vainqueur. “Gorynych, ignore the crater and return to the city.”
“But it has a fence around it!” Gorynych said as if it was some sort of impossible obstacle.
“You can do it, Gorynych!” Victor encouraged the zmey. “I believe in you! You’re in-bred to win!”
|[Rally Minion] activated! Your positive reinforcement increased all of Gorynych’s stats!|
“[Hasten]!” Kia cast the spell on the zmey, their ride moving so fast, that it quickly out-sped both the Tarasque and Vainqueur, flying straight towards the capital city.
When the group reached Onogoro within less than an hour, they found out that Mag Mell had gotten there first.
Enormous vines had breached the outer walls, casting down pagodas and houses; everywhere, poisonous flowers released toxic pollen while animated trees, werebeasts, and giant worms fought soldiers in the streets. Victor noticed Goblina confronting a band of giant spiders and fairy hounds at the imperial palace’s gates, firing at them with her gunblade. And above, flying ships engaged giant birds in battle.
“How did he summon so many monsters so quickly?” Victor wondered. Everywhere, he could only see chaos. “It can’t all be his [Druid] levels.”
“Mag Mell can create fairy rings, and teleported entire armies to our backyards during the Century War,” Kia said, pointing a blade at the city’s port, where huge swarms of insects had gathered. “Look!”
Mag Mell had taken over the deck of a massive frigate, keeping a rift in space opened as monsters crawled through. His creatures swarmed the docks, fighting the surviving crews of nearby fishing ships or military vessels.
“Bekele!” Mag Mell’s voice echoed through his insect swarms as the zmey reached the port, his [Hasten] buff dissipating. “You ruined everything. If not for you, Balaur would have… if it hadn’t been for you…”
“You’re not running away this time?” Kia taunted the fomor while unsheathing her sword, “Did it take a soul to give you an ounce of courage?”
“For centuries, I empowered champions, and none succeeded. As you mortals say, if you want something done right, do it yourself. As for you,” the insectoid warlock glared at Victor, “it is you, human vermin, who taught the dragons how to harness this cursed System.”
“Hey, I taught one dragon, who told everyone else!” Victor protested, casting his buffs and activating [Monster Insight].
Soulcrested Fomor (Fairy/Insect)
Level: 40 (Druid 20 (Entomancer)/Fisherman 20)
Strong against: all status ailments, Poison, Disease, Fairy, Water, Earth, Wind, Insta-death, Physical attacks.
Weak against: Fairyslayer, Bugslayer, Dragon, Fire, Starmetal, and insecticides.
The progenitor of the Mell fomor clan, and one hell of a giant dic—
“[Fisherman]!” Victor shouted before he could finish reading the rest.
“[Fisherman]?” Kia asked, panicked.
“[Fisherman].” Mag Mell raised his monstrous arms, before activating one of the most broken Perks ever designed. “[Primeval Abyss]!”
The fomor unleashed a wide, blue pulse across the port.
In the blink of an eye, all the fishing vessels erupted, their cargo growing to enormous size. Monstrous, serpentine fish the length and size of trucks emerged from the waters, spilling off the docks, and eating people whole.
Within a second, the docks were overflowing with an army of screaming sea serpents.
|All fish within a mile have been transformed into [Lesser Leviathans].|
Fairies. Always trying to imitate dragons, only to come up short.
While his minions left to pursue that cursed vermin Mag Mell, Vainqueur flew after his newest pet. The creature had scales, which were a marked improvement over fairy hounds, but otherwise proved lacking.
It didn’t even have wings!
Vainqueur decided to roast it with his breath and be done with this mess. From above, he unleashed a torrent of flames upon the creature’s back, already salivating at the idea of eating a roasted turtle.
His mighty dragonbreath hit the creature’s carapace and seared its scales...
The Tarasque did not slow down.
In fact, it didn’t even notice! It kept moving towards the city, Vainqueur’s flames failing to even affect it!
“[Charged Attack]!” Vainqueur empowered his breath with the mighty power of a [Kaiser], turning his flames into a fiery beam of light.
The light that scourged Lavere and that mummy Akhenapep hit the Tarasque head-on like a rain of destruction; it vaporized trees around the creature and scoured the land itself. Even if the creature was bigger than Vainqueur himself, the empowered, supercharged beam engulfed it entirely. Hitting the carapace first, the dragon flew lower than before, aiming at the right side of the creature.
This time, the beast’s scales melted under Vainqueur’s almighty power.
As the dragon emperor regained his breath, chunks of burnt flesh had fallen off the Tarasque’s right side, while the carapace had turned black. The arm, in particular, had lost so much meat that Vainqueur could see the bones below its festering veins. The dragon smiled to himself.
Yet, the creature did not stop.
It kept moving, and to the dragon’s astonishment, its cauterized flesh began to regenerate. A new layer of meat grew below the burnt parts, expelling them onto the ashen ground; the beast shed its skin like a snake, a new arm replacing the old.
Within a minute, the beast was as good as new, with only the ashes on its carapace as a reminder of Vainqueur's failed attack.
Worse, adding insult to injury, the monster hadn’t even peeked at Vainqueur.
“Look at me!” the dragon ordered, flying right in front of the creature’s head. “Look at me, turtle! [Shining Majesty]!”
His body radiated with the grandiosity of the most beautiful hoard of all. A vision of absolute beauty, that should move even that inbred reptile to tears!
|Skill check failed!|
The beast headbutted Vainqueur out of its way and kept going.
The dragon crashed on the ashes created by his own Perk, only to instantly rise up with rage in his eyes.
This insult would not stand!
Vainqueur glanced at his surroundings, noticing the countless powerstones fragments which crashed through the land; most them big enough to form makeshift pillars, or even hills.
An idea crossed his mind. “[Geomancy]!” he commanded the earth to strike this beast down.
Field Type: Supercharged Powerstone Field.
Effect: [Greater Elemental Storm].
Dozens of stones resonated, shining brighter than the sun all at once.
Each unleashed a mighty elemental attack: some exploded into fiery tornadoes, others into icy storms; strong, searing winds swirled around the Tarasque, tearing apart whatever plants had survived Vainqueur’s own carpet-bombing attempt; the very ground opened, spewing spears of stones.
|[Ring of the Dragon Ur-Pharaoh] reflexively cast [Protection from Elements]! You are immune to [Fire], [Earth], [Wind], and [Water] for twenty minutes.|
Even Vainqueur struggled to maintain his balance, battered by the winds and the explosions. The forces he had summoned put his previous eruption and tsunami to shame: the fiery tornados reached up to the clouds, the icy shards could cleave a ship in half, and the stone fragments could easily devastate a manling’s house. Even the powerstones that summoned this effect cracked under the strain of the rampant wild magic.
The Tarasque suffered the brunt of it, flames and projectiles hammering it from all angles. Some of the spikes on its back fell off; a stone spear impaled one of its left feet; a cataclysmic explosion blew off half its face.
It kept going.
The chaos slowed it down, but it kept going.
The beast powered through the elemental storm like a proud bull through rain, weathering all attacks. When the storm of power died out and left the land in ruins, Vainqueur watched, amazed, as the creature continued its course. Its body repaired the damage done to it in mere seconds, even spewing out the stone spear embedded in its foot.
Nothing could stop this tarasque?
Only because it had never met Vainqueur before.
Running on all four, the dragon pursued that creature, refusing to give up.
|[Ring of the Dragon Ur-Pharaoh] reflexively cast [Hasten]! You will move and react twice as fast as normal!|
The world became a blur, as Vainqueur ran faster than the wind, catching up with the beast.
Extending his arms, the dragon caught the creature’s stinger tail and anchored himself to the ground with his legs. His feet buried themselves in the mud, carried forward by the Tarasque’s unrelenting momentum.
|Strength check... failed!|
Vainqueur tried to stop the creature from moving, but failed. The Tarasque lazily attempted to shake off the dragon from his tail by flailing it around, but the emperor held his prey with an iron grip.
“Stop ignoring me!” the dragon roared in defiance. “[Glitzy Theater]!”
Answering his call, his glorious arena appeared.
It was the first time Vainqueur witnessed it and had he been a soft-hearted manling, he would have been brought to tears. A massive, mile-wide dome of solid, golden light had formed around him, trapping both the dragon and his savage foe within. One could see through its walls, with beautiful pictures representing Vainqueur’s countless victories covering them.
That savage beast didn’t even look up.
Instead, it kept moving forward and hit the nearest wall with its stupid head. The whole dome shook…
The beast let out a snarl of annoyance, propelling the spikes from its back towards the wall. The bone projectiles bounced off the [Glitzy Theater], unable to pierce through it. The stupid animal hit the wall with its head, unable to figure out a better solution.
The Vainqueur let out a laugh of delight.
At least, until a screech echoed through the dome, as the walls began to move.
The Tarasque pushed the entire cage forward with its hands and head, albeit at a snail's pace.
“No, no, no!” Vainqueur anchored himself on the ground and pulled. With its momentum interrupted, the beast could no longer advance and entered a battle of strength with the dragon.
|Strength check successful!|
Vainqueur fell on his back, the creature’s stinger still in his arms. The Tarasque let out a roar of pain as the dragon severed its tail.
Congratulations! You castrated the dinosaur!
That wasn’t very nice!
This time, the beast did stop: it stopped ignoring Vainqueur. It turned around as its stinger regenerated, staring down at his newfound master. The dragon rose back on his back legs and looked up.
While standing, Vainqueur probably reached fifty feet in height. He could crush a manling beneath his feet, and grab a cow with one hand.
He only reached up to the creature’s waist.
The Tarasque towered over the [Augustus], its yellowish eyes oozing animal rage. Vainqueur wasn’t impressed. “I will rip off your head the way I cut your tail,” the dragon warned, tossing the stinger away and activating [Victory Fist].
|Charisma check successful! You infuriated the [Tarasque Emperor]!|
Emperor? “The only emperor is the one standing before you, you zmey!”
Insulted, the Tarasque raised a fist and attempted to squash the dragon like a child. While the beast had great strength, it lacked finesse or any technique whatsoever.
With pathetic ease, Vainqueur dodged the blow, jumped at the creature’s head, and poked him in both eyes!
“[Malleus Maleficarum]!” The dragon activated his new weapon, empowering it with a massive chunk of his SP reserve. A phantom, purple hammer of spiritual energy manifested above the blinded monster’s head and hit it.
The mighty blow sent the head back into its shell and caused the Tarasque to stumble. Exploiting the opening, Vainqueur landed on the ground and caught one of the beast’s forearms in a choke-hold.
For he was about to expose the turtle to its only weakness.
|Strength check successful!|
Using all of his limitless might, Vainqueur let out a fearsome roar as he turned the beast’s own weight against itself. The much smaller dragon flipped the Tarasque over him, and tossed it on its back!
The monster’s carapace hit the ground with a loud crack, blowing dirt in all directions and shaping a small crater. As the creature’s head emerged from its shell, its newly regenerated eyes marveled at its own helplessness. All it could do was thrash around, a turtle on its back.
Some would have said the impossible happened…
But impossible wasn’t dragon!
“What are you going to do now, turtle?” Vainqueur taunted the creature, preparing to take flight and roast it from above.
The Tarasque embedded its stinger into the ground and forcefully flipped itself over.
Vainqueur blinked at the surreal sight, for the dinosaur now stood back on its legs, its bestial face twisted into an expression of absolute, primal fury. The creature let out a roar that shook the very walls of the [Glitzy Theater], a crimson aura flaring around the ancient dinosaur.
|You made the [Tarasque Emperor] go [Berserk]! It gained the benefit of the [Hasten] spell!|
Vainqueur didn’t see the fist that hit him, even as it sent him flying through his [Glitzy Theater] and halfway across the countryside.