His castle! His beautiful castle!
As he flew high in the skies with Gorynych after him, Vainqueur’s heart was filled with concern. Concern for his beautiful, hard-won lair, the elite minions staffing it, and his marvelous hoard in the vaults. Not necessarily in that order.
Thankfully, as he passed over the mountain’s summit, he found his castle unscathed, shielded by a crimson barrier. The same protection which once safeguarded the Forgotten One from the dragon’s wrath, had now saved the hoard.
He couldn’t say the same for the rest of the mountain, though.
The explosion had caused an entire pan of it to collapse, letting lava fall off the mountain and towards the sea nearby. The ground glowed with a green light and molten powerstone shards, while the air was choked with dust that itched in the eyes. The weapon had left a glaring hole in the mountain where it hit, one big enough that it could have certainly covered all of Murmurin had it hit the city.
Even if the weapon had missed, it had unleashed tons of poisoned smoke in the atmosphere. “[Control Weather: Clear Skies],” Manling Victor cast while on Gorynych’s back, dispersing them harmlessly before a venomous cloud could consume Murmurin.
As his minion handled the weather, Vainqueur dived down, to see the devastation up close.
You are entering a [Tchernobyl] field. [Fire], [Nuclear], [Earth] and [Poison] attacks will be greatly strengthened.
Non-[Undead], [Eldritch], [Alien], [Insect], [Elemental] and [Artificial] types will lose 10 max HP per minute, unless they are protected against [Nuclear].
Vitality check successful. [Irradiated] ailment negated.
He would have to use his [Geomancy] to change this field, once his magic finally stabilized. However, the sheer destructive power of the blast left him speechless. This was no Wind Spear of Brandon Maure or even Wotan’s mighty [Ragnarok]. It would have taken Vainqueur at least a minute of uninterrupted carpet bombing to cause that much damage.
This falling star had done it in the blink of an eye.
“They have nukes,” Manling Victor whispered to himself while riding Gorynych, deeply afraid even with Knight Kia at his back. “The arrows of light.”
“They have missiles,” Knight Kia added with a frown. “Any idea from where they launched it?”
“They used powerstones to propel that missile,” Manling Victor said, pointing at the fragments littering the mountainscape. “Our spellcasters tracked the magic from its origin point. Prydain.”
Of course, the cowardly fairies had cheap-shot his castle while safe from retaliation. Not for long, Vainqueur promised himself, not for long.
“Some ICBMs can hit targets more than ten thousand kilometers away,” Knight Kia said, although Vainqueur didn’t fully understand everything. “Why didn’t they simply open a portal in Murmurin and drop the bomb?”
“Well, we invested in—” Manling Victor caught himself, as Vainqueur glanced at him, “I had the Agarthans and Happyland set-up anti-hostile teleportation defenses in the V&V Empire’s cities and their larger region. They zap any attempt to open a portal from unauthorized minions or V&V members. We also set-up anti-air defenses, but clearly the missile moved too fast for them to shoot it down.”
“Wise thinking, Manling Victor,” Vainqueur congratulated his chief of staff, before trying to figure out what happened.
|Intelligence check successful.|
“They were targeting me,” Vainqueur realized, making sense out of the chain of events. “But they missed.”
“Maybe they have the nukes, but not the infrastructures that allow them to hit targets with deadly precision,” Manling Victor said. “They don’t have GPS, maps, knowledge of the terrain…”
“You think that’s why they tried to scry on us?” Knight Kia muttered. “To pinpoint our location?”
“I believe they tried to scry His Majesty first because they wanted him dead, personally,” Friend Victor explained to his fellow manling. “Then they tried to target me since I’m always at Vainqueur’s side. When they couldn’t locate me, they attempted to locate you, Kia, and when that failed, they lost patience and launched the bomb at Murmurin’s rough location.”
“Why use powerstones though? If they have a nuke, they should have the whole rocket package.”
“Well, either they have ICBMs but didn’t realize how to use them, and so switched the warhead to a copy of Maure’s Wind Spears, or…”
“Or they’re trying to make their own nukes, and this was a test run.”
The [Paladin] marked a short silence, before finally speaking up. “I’m going to Gardemagne to request an invasion fleet and pull back my old party right now. If the fomors develop a nuclear arsenal, the entire continent is at risk. No country will be safe from a bombardment.”
“The castle’s shield managed to protect it from the blast,” Manling Victor said. “Maybe he could design a city-wide version?”
“Yes, find him,” Vainqueur finally spoke up, although he loathed to say these words.
His words shocked even his truest friend. “Your Majesty, did you agree to ask Furibon for help?”
“I hate it as much as you do, Manling Victor,” Vainqueur replied with grim seriousness. “But if he can protect my subjects from these arrows, then my minions’ safety takes precedent.”
His decision hammered it home to his best minion.
These were no ordinary times.
This was war, and anything went.
Even summoning the Forgotten One.
After the disaster, Murmurin’s population was most shaken. Vainqueur decided that he would calm them with a speech, but first, he summoned all his elite minions and allies to his hoard. His war council had gathered to discuss the threat, with guests such as Grandrake invited to offer their opinion.
“I understand now why you called for a Conclave, young Vainqueur,” the elder dragon said with a frown. It was rare to see him bothered by anything. “Never before have I seen such destructive power outside of a wyrm flight, and I was awake before those manling gods walked this dragon-made world.”
“Then you will support my cause?” Vainqueur asked. Many dragons respected Grandrake as a wise elder and the forerunner of princess hunting.
“I shall.” Grandrake nodded. “You can also count on my support in the war to come, young king.”
“We cannot wait for the Conclave,” Knight Kia spoke up. “We have to attack Prydain now.”
“The sooner we land on Prydain’s shores, the better,” Marbré the Dwarf agreed. “The fairies aren’t stupid enough to bomb their own home.”
Tasty Malfy cleared his own throat, dubious. “I am torn. On one hand, our assets are completely exposed to financial ruin, but on the other hand, I expect a market crash if we attack the shores without additional support.”
“I will call a class reunion,” Isabelle Maure suggested, standing next to an armored Manling Victor. “I am certain they will share in the conquest.”
“Yes, most of my class wants to rule the world, not burn it,” Manling Victor said. “Jaja and Goblina already agreed to help.”
“How reassuring,” Knight Kia replied with a frown. “But I stand by what I said. We need Gardemagne, and I can have them mobilize. If we attack from multiple fronts, the fomors won’t be able to deploy their weapons and blow us to sky high.”
“That’s just a hypothesis,” Untasty Allison countered. “We need a surer method to counter the bombs.”
|Intelligence check successful.|
“We have two,” Vainqueur declared, bringing their attention where it belonged, on himself, “Manling Victor can alter the weather to send their arrows away, while I can shoot them down with my breath.”
“That could work, but Murmurin will remain unprotected while you are away, Your Majesty,” Corpseling Jules said.
“Minions that cannot fight or contribute to the war effort will be evacuated to the Planet Moon,” Vainqueur declared. “That is a place so dark, not even the fairies will dare attack it.”
“True, even missiles shouldn’t be able to reach it,” Untasty Allison said, “or at least I hope they can’t?”
“The [Tchernobyl] field will remain there for the fashionably early dragon guests, so they may see for themselves the fairies’ newfound threat,” Vainqueur declared, now in general mode. “Until the Conclave is done and I wipe it out with my [Geomancy], the area shall be condemned. Manling Victor will make sure the smoke does not contaminate the area.”
“It will be done.” Manling Victor nodded. “Your Majesty, how many dragons could we expect to help, if the Conclave goes well?”
“All ten tenth,” Grandrake replied, much to everyone’s confusion.
“Minion Victor, we dragons are voracious creatures,” Vainqueur explained. “We need many cows and fat to remain in top shape. Unfortunately, this world is too small to sustain all of us, so in our genius, we figured out a solution. We hibernate for centuries, often millennia.”
“I see.” Corpseling Jules nodded. “That way the prey population can return to a sustainable level. But considering Your Majesty’s appetite...”
“Only one-tenth of our race is active at a given time,” Vainqueur confirmed. “The Conclave is the moment when awake dragons gather to vote on waking up the sleeping other nine-tenth, for the purpose of war. We sing the Elder Wyrm’s song, and our entire race moves to destroy its enemies.”
"Such as the Gold-Eating Insects," Grandrake added. "May their evil never taint Outremonde again."
“But if only one-tenth of all dragons are active that means at least…” Manling Victor tried to calculate the numbers. “Dozens of thousands?”
“Enough to wipe out Prydain from the map,” Vainqueur confirmed. “Arrows of light or not.”
The rest of the discussion focused on methods to protect Murmurin, evacuating civilians in anticipation of an attack; either to the cursed Moon or to the underground realm of Agartha as Marbré proposed. Having expected an assault for months, Vainqueur’s army was prepared to deal with anything.
They wouldn’t let the fairies win the war, whether on the ground or in their hearts.
Finally, Vainqueur ordered his minion fleet to prepare for a landing in the coming days. Knight Kia would return to Gardemagne to call upon her kind’s help, while the V&V Empire would summon all its allies to join the invasion force.
“Anything else?” Vainqueur asked, as he prepared to dismiss his council before reassuring his population.
“Yes,” Manling Victor said. “King Wotan is still waiting outside. I think he has reached a decision.”
Vainqueur teleported out of the castle with his minion, finding Dragonbane on one of the castle’s towers with a Valkyrie on his shoulder. The fomor observed the devastated mountainside with contempt.
“An almighty arrow that can hit targets from afar while the user remains safe from any counterattack.” Wotan shook his head. “This is a cowardly weapon, unfit for warriors.”
“It’s used as a deterrent in my world,” Manling Victor said. “A weapon so destructive, that the threat of it enforces peace.”
“Clearly Odieuse does not deal in threats,” the fomor lord said.
“And it bothers you, Dragonbane?” Vainqueur guessed. “My proposal still stands.”
His former rival crossed his arms, thoughtful. “I will not be able to transport you to the Mell Clan’s stronghold in Prydain without bringing the full force of my kind upon your head,” he said. “But there is a place where I can fulfill my oath.”
Vainqueur remained still, like his chief of staff.
“The Mell Clan has a doorway to this world you call ‘Earth’,” King Wotan explained. “They used it to capture slaves and thralls when Mag Mell had not yet been exiled for creating the System. His daughter recovered it decades ago. I can lead you there and lure the fairy queen to a fight.”
“Where is the door?” Manling Victor asked immediately.
“In the Dark Forest, in an area between the Winter Kingdoms and this Tsaria country. I can open a fairy ring to it. Afterward...” The fomor lord shook his head. “I shall not take arms against my own kind, but if you hold true to your promise to limit your vengeance to the Mell Clan, I shall not stop you either.”
“Your Majesty, we need to condemn this gate before they can pull more weapons through,” Manling Victor told his dragon master.
“This is the gate to your homeworld, minion,” Vainqueur pointed out. “Maybe the only one. Are you truly sure that you wish to close it forever?”
“My home is at your side,” his friend replied, warming the dragon’s heart. “My family has probably moved on by now. And I will sleep more soundly knowing Odieuse won’t be able to threaten them.”
“So long as she lives, the gate can be rebuilt,” King Wotan coldly pointed out.
“You’re not helping.”
“When?” Vainqueur rasped.
“The sooner I am done with this pointless struggle, the better.”
“You will not be able to remain neutral forever,” Vainqueur replied, having gained some insight into his new mortal enemy. “The vile Odieuse only has thralls or foes. If you do not serve her, she will kill you.”
|Charisma check successful.|
In spite of the message, King Wotan remained stone-faced. “Maybe she will try,” he admitted. “But she remains my kin still.”
Species first. Vainqueur didn't know how to feel about this.
“Manling Victor, prepare yourself,” the dragon said. “We teleport to this gate as soon as I finish my speech.”
The fairies had attacked his realm for too long.
Time to give them a taste of their own medicine.