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Spade yawned, looking out over the mountains below from the highest peak on the planet. It was a little chilly, and Joyce was taking that as an excuse to start making a cup of hot chocolate right there and then instead of confronting the dragon that had awakened from its slumber.

"Joyce," Spade called out in annoyance. She smiled at him innocently, holding her hand by her ear to show she couldn't hear him over the wind and the dragon noises. That was bullshit. She could hear him just fine with her magic. Brushing strands of white hair out of his eyes, Spade signed and resigned himself to dealing with the dragon alone.

Having grown bored of destroying nature and mountaintops, the dragon rose into the air with a magnificent flap of its wings, sending boulders flying and toppling trees as it did so. It roared into the air, asserting its might and dominance. It was the arrogance reserved for the creatures at the very top of the food chain, creatures that humans had foolishly believed to be long gone. But there it was, a goddamn dragon in the middle of the fucking Blackwood Mountain range.

Spade calmly unsheathed his sword. The sunlight glinted off of the blade, catching the attention of the dragon. It turned towards him and swooped forward, eclipsing the whole of the mountain in its shadow. Spade breathed in, and swung his sword.

A wall of blood splashed down like a tidal wave. An invisible shield (courtesy of Joyce) kept Spade and Joyce dry as the snowy peaks and rocky mountaintops around them were painted in the dark blue blood of the last dragon lord. Spade sheathed his sword again after checking to make sure it was clean and undamaged.

"Nice job!" Joyce said cheerfully. The mountains shook as the two halves of the dragon's body crashed to the ground, causing several avalanches and sending up clouds of dust and debris. Joyce blithely looked in the direction of the dragon corpse, holding a cup of freshly prepared hot chocolate out towards him.

"Want some?" she offered. Spade glared at her halfheartedly before taking the offered treat.

//////

Spade was the strongest swordsman. This was a simple fact that didn't need to be proven, just like "the sun provides light" or "rain makes things wet". At 27, Spade had reached the highest level of qi cultivation possible for a human, becoming the only sword sage alive. Most qi cultivators didn't use swords these days, with spears and folding fans being the latest trend, so it wasn't like the competition was all that fierce. But still. Spade could cleave mountains in half. Hell, he could cleave continents into pieces without breaking a sweat. With a single swing of his sword, he could create shockwaves that would reduce everything to rubble. Even when counting in qi cultivators and magic users of all types, Spade was stronger, faster, and better than all of them. Except Joyce, but she didn't count.

For most of his life, Spade thought his older brother was the strongest swordsman. In his homeworld that would be very true, because his homeworld did not have qi cultivation. Spade's innate talent for qi cultivation wasn't discovered or combined with his swordsmanship until after he became an interdimensional traveler, and even then he sometimes still thought that his brother was stronger. That was partly because of his brother complex, but that's not relevant.

Despite being the strongest, Spade still found himself saddled with worries. He had to keep a rabid 19 year old from going apeshit, keep the two of them fed, clothed, and sheltered, and all this while figuring out what was what in every world they traveled to. All of this was made excruciatingly difficult by a fact that Spade had desperately tried to keep a secret. It was embarassing, it made people look at him differently, whisper behind his back, and try to entangle him in sinister plots and webs of deception. It was a secret that Spade would gladly kill to keep, and also his greatest weakness.

That he couldn't read.

 

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