I gaped up at Zix as he hovered above me. His body had deformed into a crooked, hunched figure. His arms and legs seemed to sink partway into his body, the limbs losing half of their range of motion from before. He quadrupled in size, and his wings doubled even that in length. Everything about him was larger. That included the wounds I had previously inflicted on him. The hole in his chest was now the size of my person. The small cuts covering his body were now deep gashes. But that didn’t matter. Because—
He looked like a Dragon. I have only seen the images of Dragons, but I knew that Zix was meant to look like one. He wasn’t entirely similar. For example, his face was not nearly as large— his mouth didn’t protrude nearly as far as I would’ve expected. Neither was his tail as long as the ones the Dragons in the murals had.
In fact, his tail looked quite stubby, like the broken stump of a tree sticking out of tall grass. He was supposed to be a Dragon. He was supposed to look similar to it. But his appearance was just obscene.
I took a step back as Zix spread his wings wide.
“Tremble, crumble, from my splendor. Falter fool and lose your luster.”
“Why do you keep speaking weirdly?!”
I wrapped my fire chains around a large rock and hurled it up at him. The stone was as large as me— a piece of debris that jutted out of the ground. It had an oblique shape to it. An edge that was rather sharp.
Zix’s eyes narrowed. He flapped his wings a single time, and the force of air that beat down slowed the projectile’s momentum enough that it wouldn’t reach him. I braced myself under the force of the wind. It didn’t knock me off balance, but it sent all the pebbles on the ground rolling away from my feet.
Surprisingly, the flames around the arena weren't snuffed out by the gust of air. They danced violently, whipping back and forth, but otherwise stayed burning with the same ferocity as before.
There was a slight pause as the strong winds came to a stop. Zix’s gaze bore down at me, like a hawk eyeing its prey. The stone I threw came crashing behind me as I deactivated [Ember Core]. It was pointless, really. With Zix’s current power, he’d be able to overwhelm the magical protection with a single blow. And it didn’t burn him back either. Right now, it was a drain to my mana.
“You still dare challenge me? Even knowing what I truly am?”
Out of the corner of my eyes, I saw Kobolds kneeling, bowing before the floating Kobold man. But that was just it. He wasn’t one of their Old Gods. He was—
“You’re not a Dragon— you’re just a Kobold pretending to be a Dragon. Look at you! You’re fat and ugly and crude!”
Zix blinked. Then he roared.
He swooped down after me. The wind nearly tossed me into the air— it was like a cyclone, created by nothing but his wings. A natural disaster from a man alone. But a man he was. Still Mortal. Definitely not one of these Old Gods.
I activated [Self Haste] and jumped. I didn’t go in any particular direction. I simply let the hurricane take me like it wanted to. I had a small figure— maybe if I wasn’t in my Kobold Form, I wouldn’t be carried by the whipping winds.
It sent me flying back towards the edge of the arena. Zix flapped his wings once more, propelling himself my way. He folded his body and dove at me like an arrow. He moved fast. Too fast to react when I made a sharp turn.
I used [Flame Burst] at the last second. I avoided the flames, keeping within the arena as I skirted around its perimeter. I watched as Zix’s eyes grew wide. He beat his wings in a panic, trying to slow down from hitting the flames.
Zix couldn’t stop— not without grounding himself. He veered into the earth and tore through it, leaving a large divot as he tumbled to a stop. The tips of his wings touched the fire. I saw a flicker. The dancing flames singed Zix’s scales. It burned the Kobold, more than my magic had with my greatest Skills.
So, those aren’t just regular flames then.
Not staying idle, I dashed forward and seized the only chance I had. Zix tried to take to the air once more. But I managed to reach him. He swatted at me, but missed as I flipped over his claws. I landed on his back and wrangled the chains around his neck.
Zix hissed, letting out an incoherent noise. He wheezed and coughed as he stumbled back. He let out heavy, sharp breaths, but only air came out. There were no flames. No lightning. No ice. It was just his angry panting as he squirmed on the ground.
“If fire isn’t going to hurt you, how about this?!”
I chomped down the back of his head. He let out a guttural scream. It wasn’t one of pain, but of pure rage. I tugged at the chains, trying to lead the rampaging Zix into the wall of flames. He thrashed around. He didn’t realize what I was doing. Not until he felt the heat washing over him. He growled and burst back up into the sky as I desperately clung onto him.
My chains fell loose. I could only grasp onto the flying Kobold’s scales with my claws and my mouth. He spun in the air, twisting, trying to shake me off him. I managed to hold on— until everything flipped. Zix growled as he rapidly began to descend back to the ground.
“I will crush you!”
I saw the ground quickly approaching, stone and debris protruding up, ready to skewer me through. I let go of the Kobold’s obsidian scales, pushing myself to the side and into my own free fall. The world, once slow due to the effects of [Self Haste], began to speed up. The Skill’s effect came to an end.
I landed on all fours, but wasn’t able to steady myself before Zix was snapping his jaw at me. His gaping mouth closed in on me. I would have been eaten in a single bite. Which was disgusting!
A [Flame Burst] saved me. But Zix didn’t let up. He pressed forward, swiping his claws and bearing down at me with his ravenous teeth. I focused as I saw his flurry of attacks come my way. He was too large. Too quick. I would get hit eventually.
His movements— began to decelerate. The watching crowd slowed once more. I could see the dust behind Zix shooting up into the air, a plume that billowed up almost lazily.
[Restore Skill: Self Haste]!
I swiftly avoided the rest of Zix’s frenzied strikes. I led him closer and closer to the edge of the arena. He frowned and backed away.
“Do you really think you can trick me—”
He paused. And I charged forward. I went straight for his chest, aiming for the open wound left behind by my [Radiant Slash]. I dug my claws into him, ripping, tearing, trying to burrow into him like some kind of Centinel.
Zix cried out in pain. He reached for me with his stubby arms, and I skittered out of the way, crawling around to his back once more. It was a familiar movement for me. One that was easier now that I actually had arms and legs. It’s definitely easier than crawling with just my body!
“What’s wrong, can’t reach me?”
My strength was waning. The buff from Daniel was going to come to an end within the minute. I concentrated on nothing but creating a pair of fiery chains, white and solid, one that didn’t waste mana burning, but was reinforced beyond anything I had ever made before.
We were in the sky once more. I could see the sable dome spinning above me. The stars were trailing in circles overhead. Zix was trying to crash into the ground again. He thought tht it would throw me off. But I didn’t jump this time.
I threw the chains around his back, around his body, tangling into his wings. I tightened the magical bindings as Zix struggled to spread his wings wide to no avail. He was no longer in control of where we were going. We were both plummeting wildly to the ground now.
He cursed at me as I let go of him at the very last moment. The Kobold smashed into the ground, breaking apart the rock and stone below. They pierced his scales and tore apart his wings. He picked himself back up, standing on shaky legs.
“You shall feel the wrath of God for your sins! I will make you pay!”
I crashed into his back and sent him stumbling forward. He stopped right before the edge of the arena, where the wall of flames was located. He managed to catch himself from falling into it, although he was a scale’s length away from being burned by the fire. I grabbed the white chains, still wrapped around Zix’s back, and bellowed.
“I am not a fiend!”
He swiped at me, but I leapt over the attack and pulled at the chains with the weight of my entire body. I flipped over the dancing fire, landing on the other side as I hauled Zix over to me. He was tired, angry, and most importantly, off-balance.
“I am Salvos, and I will not let you stop me from seeing my companion again!”
He couldn’t brace himself. He wasn’t prepared for the searing pain that was to come. He fell face-first into the flames. And that was it. He roared, he floundered, he flailed, he screamed, he cried, and he died as the fire burned the scales off him.
The wall of flames lowered itself like a curtain at the end of a play. It revealed the charred corpse of Zix as he lay on the ravaged arena, alone. There were gasps. A quiet susurration ran through the crowd of onlookers.
“The Divine Flames have gone out, the Trial of the Scales is over!”
“She killed the High Zealot!”
Those who had come in support of the Scale Sentinels were in disbelief. They thought that their eyes were fooling them. I ignored them as more important words resounded in my head.
The words of victory.
Defeated [Abbot of the Reckoning (High Zealot) - Lvl. 106]
Experience is awarded for defeating an enemy!
More experience is awarded for defeating an enemy with the Title High Zealot!
Experience is awarded for winning the Trial of the Scales!
That wasn’t just it. There was more.
General Skill [Advanced Mana Manipulation] Level Up!
[Advanced Mana Manipulation - Lvl. 6] -> [Advanced Mana Manipulation - Lvl. 7]
Experience is awarded for the leveling of a General Skill!
But most importantly was what came after.
Subspecies [Asura Changeling] Level Up!
[Asura Changeling – Lvl. 98] -> [Asura Changeling – Lvl. 99]
Gained 5 Stat Points and 3 Skill Points!
Subspecies [Asura Changeling] Level Up!
[Asura Changeling – Lvl. 99] -> [Asura Changeling – Lvl. 100]
Gained 5 Stat Points and 3 Skill Points!
Salvos (Death of the Destroyer)
Species: [Greater Demon of Pride]
Subspecies: [Asura Changeling] - Lvl. 100
[Advanced Mana Manipulation] - Lvl. 7
[Identification] - Lvl. 5
[Racial Skill: Universal Language Comprehension] - Lvl. 1
[Racial Skill: Mortal Form] - Lvl. 4
[Rest] - Lvl. 4
[Lesser Enhanced Wisdom] - Lvl. 2
[Title Skill: Zealous Call] - Lvl. 3
[Available Stat Points: 0]
[Vitality]: 100 (+5)
[Strength]: 80 (+5) (-4)
[Endurance]: 90 (+5) (-4)
[Wisdom]: 150 (+5) (+6) (-4)
[Agility]: 201 (+5) (-4)
[Available Skill Points: 5]
[Advanced Fire Creation] - Lvl. 30 (Maxed)
[Barrage of Cinders] - Lvl. 20 (Maxed)
[Ember Core] - Lvl. 20 (Maxed)
[Flame Burst] - Lvl. 15 (Maxed)
[Flaming Breath] - Lvl. 10 (Maxed)
[Intimidation] - Lvl. 10 (Maxed)
[Radiant Slash] - Lvl. 15 (Maxed)
[Self Haste] - Lvl. 10 (Maxed)
[Passive - A Hunter’s Sense] - Lvl. 10 (Maxed)
[Passive - Blue Flames] - Lvl. 20 (Maxed)
[Passive - Weapon Mastery] - Lvl. 20 (Maxed)