Beneath the Dragoneye Moons



Chapter 274.2 - Major Interlude - Iona - Sigrun III


With a deafening cry that scattered the animals present, a wyvern landed with enough force to crack the mile-thick ice, partially landing on Iona.

Iona jumped out of the way at the last moment, but didn’t quite make it. The wyvern’s hindlegs slammed down on Iona’s lower left leg, utterly crushing and pulverizing it.

Her head slammed into the powdery snow, almost instantly cracking itself on the ice underneath and dazing her.

The wyvern blasted the wooly rhinos with a frost beam, hitting an arbitrary member of the herd and freezing it solid as the rest of the beasts scattered. The wyvern’s claws closed around Iona, cracking bones and cutting Iona open as it sheared through her armor like it wasn’t there. The wyvern hopped forward, grabbing the frozen beast with its other foot, then taking off once again.

Iona was only still alive thanks to her ever-present armor, reinforced by [Celestial Armaments], and her [Stellar Body]-boosted vitality. Otherwise, instead of being dazed and concussed, Iona’s head would’ve split open like a watermelon.

Iona rapidly got her bearings back, but they were already in the air, the wyvern flying back to her nest.

Iona liked her chances dropping from the absurd heights the wyvern flew at. The alternative was getting to the monster’s nest. Her arms were pinned against her side, but with a clever flick, she dislodged her axe from where it rested on her hip, the enchantments on the weapon snapping it to her hand.

She didn’t immediately attack the wyvern, no. She peeked at its levels, stats, and skills, looking for weaknesses to exploit, or conditional skills to avoid.

A weaker woman would’ve given up then.

Level 1045.

Ice. Mirror. Dark. All three elements were leaning towards magic and mage skills, the wyvern trusting in its own innate body and power to handle physical problems, and skills and magic to cover everything else.

The Ice let the ice wyvern live in the harsh climate, gave her a powerful breath attack, and let it half-merge into snowstorms. The Mirror protected her, reinforcing her scales against harm and reflecting attacks back, along with granting small empowerments. [You are what you eat] looked to be an absurd skill. Her Dark element both gave her some small measure of disguise, along with empowering her teeth and claws, and cutting through wind and air to fly faster.

The only odd skill was [Titanic Appetite], at only level 40.

Titanic Appetite: You greedy wanna-be dragon you! Devouring all that you see, from the moment you hatched until now, nothing can stop or sate you. You’ve got a bad habit of eating your prey as quickly as possible, and sometimes, they fight back! Take this skill, and turn your stomach into an inescapable cage, making any damage dealt to you appear on your still-struggling food instead. Increased activation time after eating per level.

Iona was doomed.

There was no point in struggling. The wyvern was too strong.

There was no point in not struggling. It wasn’t like the wyvern wouldn’t kill and eat Iona.

Wrapped in the monster’s claws, Iona tried to hack at the talons holding her. The angle was bad, and it was the wyvern’s claws. Innately powerful and tough, before skills and stats reinforced them.

Iona tried to use [Moon’s Descent], flickering the skill on and off to change her weight, hoping to destabilize the monster and fall out.

She liked her chances in surviving from a fall, versus single combat against the wyvern.

The wyvern didn’t even notice her attempts. It was casually carrying an entire wooly rhino next to her. Iona’s weight, even amplified, didn’t come close.

Iona was still in her armor. After looking at how she was being held, she tried to get her armor to "push" her out, leaving the armor behind as she tried to "slide" out of the wyvern’s grasp.

The wyvern noticed that, and flexed its claws a little tighter.

From her point of view.

From Iona’s? The air exploded out of her lungs as she was ruthlessly crushed, a talon casually piercing her skill-reinforced armor and digging deep into her hip.

A trail of blood trickled out of Iona, falling and freezing on its way to the ground. Bloody hail, marking her path.

Iona struggled to breathe, but got nowhere against the wyvern. Darkness encroached on her vision, the world turning to a single point.

Then Iona was falling, gasping for air, but with still enough presence of mind to activate [Snowflake Drift] and [Celestial Armaments].

She hit the ground, instinctively trying to roll to bleed the speed. Her leg, crushed by the wyvern landing then mauled by its claws, failed Iona entirely and she collapsed on the ice.

Reforming her Mallium armor to work as a brace, Iona scrambled back to her feet. As she formed a shield to go with her axe, she saw that she was in the wyvern’s nest, high upon a mountain. Frozen bones were scattered about, and a number of eggs were covered in a light layer of snow.

The wyvern landed heavily in front of Iona.

She screamed defiance at the beast, raising her axe for one last mortal battle. Determined to go down fighting. Determined to get in at least one solid blow on the wyvern.

The wyvern eyed Iona, and in one sharp snap of her toothy mouth, ate Iona whole.

For Iona, the world went from the too-bright sun reflecting unhindered off of snow, to the dark, warm mass of the wyvern’s mouth. The wyvern bit down, and all the parts of Iona that were outside of her jaws - everything from the knees down, and her left hand - got chomped off as the wyvern swallowed, compressing Iona as she went down the hatch.

She held onto her trusty axe, trying to dig it into the wyvern, trying to use it as an ice pick to stop her descent down the esophagus.

The blade bounced off the powerful muscles that were squeezing Iona, forcing her down, instead a long, bloody, vertical gash appeared on Iona’s neck.

With a splash, Iona was launched head-first in pitch darkness into a burning pool, the Valkyrie getting an intimate look at how wyvern digestion worked.

The acid burned, getting through the small cracks and chinks in Iona’s armor. Fortunately, it was "merely" concentrated, natural digestive acids, and not something deadlier.

Iona managed to hold what little breath she had left though.

Iona flipped herself around in the pool, then pushed off the bottom. Her stumps screamed in protest, and Iona found that the stomach acid formed a deeper pool than what she could "stand" in.

It was a moot point. There wasn’t any air to breathe in the stomach anyways, and suffocation would get Iona before the stomach acid dissolved her.

The wyvern’s belly was home to total darkness. There wasn’t the smallest mote of light that a skill or vitality could amplify, letting Iona see what was going on. She had to rely purely on touch, and that particular sense was currently going "AHHHH I'M BEING MELTED ALIVE!!!"

Iona was reminded of the [Titanic Appetite] skill that she’d seen. If she tried lashing out, she’d simply harm herself, instead of doing anything to the wyvern. Her throat was a reminder of that.

No, Iona needed to find another way out. She used her axe to feel along the edges of the stomach, both below the acid dissolving her flesh and above.

She was surrounded by powerful walls of flesh. A tight ring of muscles was at the bottom of the stomach, the esophagus was closed above her, and there was a deep, barely-scabbed over wound along one wall. The same injury, Iona speculated, that got the wyvern the [Titanic Appetite] skill.

Up was impossible, and Iona would die of suffocation before getting digested and pooped out, even if she could somehow get to the next part.

Iona stayed calm, even as a primal part of her was starting to panic. She came to a realization.

[Titanic Appetite] was a low-level skill. It acted on a time basis.

She must’ve been down long enough by now, right? Iona didn’t have the time to make small, careful, experimental cuts.

She took a mighty swing at the already-existing injury, blanching as a deep cut opened along her own belly, acid finding a new injury to pour into and burn her from the inside.

Iona tried to have patience, but the urgency of the situation had her swinging again.

Not quite as powerful. Iona’s efforts were rewarded with a shallow slice across her stomach.

She spent a moment sending a quick prayer off to her goddesses, finding the activity soothing and relaxing, along with taking up time.

Just what she needed.

Selene. Lunaris.

I’m dead. See you soon.

The goddesses finally spoke back, after the long silence since the solstice. Their voices were weak and far-off, like they’d run a marathon and were exhausted.

You got this.


Iona felt strength fill her. Not from the goddesses, nothing so divine. Just in the sheer belief and support from someone close to her.

Iona was missing her left hand, but she used Mallium to make a crude substitute, letting her wield her axe in a two-handed grip.

Her lungs were burning, screaming for air. Iona exhaled a hair, to relieve the pain, but didn’t dare inhale. It’d just make it worse.

She sank down to the bottom of the stomach, acid closing over her head, then once she hit the bottom she flexed her hip. Iona erupted up out of the acid, like some ambush predator.

A third time her axe came down on the barely-healed injury, this time breaking through and opening it up.

Iona went into a mad frenzy, chopping and hacking against the tough, powerful muscles, breaking open arteries and hacking through connective tissue. She pushed herself forward, letting the flesh close around her as acid trickled in behind her. It ate the wyvern’s flesh just as readily as Iona’s.

She could tell the wyvern was in discomfort and pain, and that she was making headway. The entire world flipped and spun around Iona as she continued hacking away.

In five hacks she was at the heart - not that Iona could see it. She just knew whatever she was slicing at next was moving furiously.

She hit it with her axe until it stopped moving. She kept going, pushing through flesh and hacking anything she could reach as her empty lungs screamed for something, anything.

The feedback she got from her axe changed, Iona clearly cutting through something else as black spots impossibly swam in her sightless eyes.

[*ding!* Congratulations! You’ve slain a [Frost Wyvern (Ice,1045)]//[Frost Wyvern (Dark, 893)]//[Frost Wyvern (Mirror, 832 )]

[*ding!* Congratulations! [The Dusk Valkyrie] has leveled up to level 435->520! +20 Free Stats, +100 Strength, +100 Dexterity, +100 Speed, +180 Vitality, +20 Mana, +110 Mana Regen, +10 Magic power, +10 Magic Control from your Class per level! +1 Free Stat for being Human per level! +1 Mana, +1 Mana Regen from your Element per level!]

[*ding!* Congratulations! For reaching level 512, you’ve unlocked your third class!]

[*ding!* You’ve unlocked [Adult of Pallos - Earth]!]

[*ding!* Congratulations! [Adult of Pallos] has leveled up to level 1->8!]

Iona ignored the rest of her notifications, including her Ice class level ups. Normally she’d be thrilled that she’d reached level 512, and gotten her third class. It was the great dividing line that marked her as an elite.

Iona was a bit busy staying alive.

The wyvern was dead. The fleshy cavern Iona was in was just that - pure flesh. As the wyvern died, all of its vitality passively boosting it, all of its strength vanished. Iona tore through the body like tissue paper, gasping in relief as she burst through its lungs, and got a breath of air.

Stale air, but air.

From there, Iona tried to hack her way out. It was simple enough until she reached the ribcage. The monster’s sturdy bones resisted all of Iona’s efforts to break them, and she was reminded that wyvern bones were some of the strongest materials in existence. She’d only managed to get through the scales because Iona was taking them apart from the inside. She managed to slice a hole to outside, breathing her fill of the crisp cold air.

It took some time to hack herself out. Finally, coated in blood and gore, great billows of steam from the heat meeting the cold, Iona emerged from the carcass.

Iona collapsed. Exhaustion threatened to overcome her and make her pass out and sleep. She resisted the pull, knowing that if she slept coated in liquid in the freezing environment, that she’d never wake up again.

She dragged herself to her - well, not her feet - the stubs where her legs ended, and drank the blood pouring out of the wyvern. It was pooling in a small depression. She sliced a piece off for herself, and ate it, feeling the unnatural warmth spread through her.

The frost wyvern, for all it lived in a freezing environment with Ice classes, had run hot. Its blood was near boiling, and enough of it poured out to form a proper liquid pool, briefly mimicking a hot pool.

Iona was freezing "standing up", the harsh winds on the mountain peak stealing away all her heat. She sank into the literal bloodbath, figuring the problem of "how to get out of here" and "how to dry myself" would be better handled while warm.

She was already soaked. Getting soaked again wouldn’t change a thing.

Dragons were the god’s greatest creation, bar none. The gods had experimented many, many times, trying all manner of different creatures, iterating on their designs before hitting the perfect formula for the grandest of all monsters.

Wyverns were a half-step below dragons. They were almost there. Not quite. They shared quite a few properties though.

Like, for example, their blood. Bathing in wyvern’s blood wasn’t the same as bathing in dragon’s blood, and it was a horrendous waste of precious material. [Merchants], [Traders], and [Hunters] would have conniptions if they saw how the blood was being used, let alone the rest of the body being left there.

Bathing in wyvern’s blood made the body innately tougher. It didn’t touch the System, it didn’t grant vitality or anything. It just made the body more.

It was a waste, considering what else wyvern’s blood could be used for. Crystalized, it made for weak mana storage, like Arcanite. It couldn’t hold mana in the same space to mana ratio, but it was possible to get more wyvern’s blood, as opposed to Arcanite. Used as ink, inscriptions and enchantments would take millennium to wear away, even without self-repair portions included. That was before the hundreds of potions and elixirs that called for it as an ingredient, or the weapons improved by quenching them in the precious substance during their forging.

Sadly, [Princess]-detection was reserved solely for dragon’s blood.

The other thing wyvern’s blood did when bathed in was help slightly with the recipient’s connection to the wyvern’s own elements. Luckily, the creature Iona had slain was Ice-aligned, promising her future class-ups with the element would be just a tad stronger.

A single scale flaked off of the frost wyvern’s body, landing right over Iona’s heart. Covering that spot so no more blood reached it.

Iona considered leaving it there. She didn’t know about wyvern’s blood, and she was exhausted. To her, it was simply a warm place to briefly recuperate and think.

The scale offended her sensibilities though, and she absent-mindedly picked it off.

Iona was dying. She had no legs. She had one hand. She had dozens of broken bones, countless strains and tears, her body was one gigantic bruise, and that was before the deep lacerations that criss-crossed her body, or the repeated dunking in acid she’d just undergone.

Slowly, but Black Crow was watching her, taking one hop at a time closer to her. Ready for when she inevitably succumbed to the combination of the environment and her injuries.

Iona needed every last edge she could manage. Any little bit that could help her survive. She allocated every single free stat she had.

She wasn’t at a temple, but the place would have to do. She leaned her head back on the edge of the blood pool, changing her armor around to act as additional supports for herself.

She closed her eyes, and entered into the world of her soul.


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