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It was a wyvern. An undead wyvern. Judging by its size, it was probably a greater wyvern when it had been alive— an S-ranked threat that could fell entire cities on its own. But right now, as a reanimated corpse, it was only an A-rank.

It had been guarding the Fallen Wyvern’s Keep for many millennia, resurrected long ago for a reason unknown. Throughout history, it remained diligent in its duty, always guarding the vault of the Dungeon and waiting at the bottommost floor of the ruined castle for an unknowing intruder to enter, thinking they had finally reached their reward, only to be blindsided by the giant undead lying in wait.

Up until five hundred years ago, there hadn’t been very many challengers for the Dungeon since it was left undiscovered, practically buried in the deluge of snow in the Frozar Mountains and left to forever rot. But a weary traveler had found the ruined castle half a millennium prior, finally reporting the presence of the Fallen Wyvern’s Keep to the Adventurer’s Guild.

Unfortunately, very few adventurers dared to venture to this region back then, since this was back when the area around the Frozar Mountains was occupied by various smaller nations such as Northera or Zarfor, all of which were at war with the burgeoning Astrad Kingdom at the time.

It was only this century, when the Astrad Kingdom finally mellowed out in its expansionist tendencies, did adventurers finally dare brave the Fallen Wyvern’s Keep. And after a hundred years of being plundered every other month or so, did this Dungeon finally fall.

And it was all thanks to Noele’s sister, just over ten years ago.

Sure, there was a full expedition that had set out to finally put this Dungeon to rest— to fully loot the vault of treasures beyond those gilded doors at the bottom of the castle. But even the hundred B-ranks hadn’t been enough to defeat the guardian at the bottommost floor. The undead wyvern that laid in hiding for so long.

It had slain nearly half of the adventurers that came that day. And that was a hefty number since they had already suffered quite a few losses on their way down the Dungeon. Perhaps it was because they were already weary and tired, but the undead wyvern had been overwhelming. Noele had heard the stories of that day— she remembered how B-ranks spoke of Nora’s heroism.

They had said that if not for Nora, the expedition would’ve had to flee. She always dismissed these claims, saying that her actions were only possible thanks to the help of others, but Noele always believed what they said about her sister.

A C-rank adventurer slaying an A-rank monster… it was the kind of story heard from legend. Myth and fairy tales. It wasn’t possible. It shouldn’t be possible. But Nora had done it.

And Noele was forever proud of this achievement. She wished she was there to see it— she remembered wanting to be there when she was just a helpless little girl without a Class. For years, she’d dreamt of being in her sister’s shoes, watching the scene unfold through Nora’s eyes as the undead wyvern was brought to its demise.

But now, there was a chance for the Noble Spellsword to experience it herself. Because here it was— the very same monster that had been slain by Nora, now revived by some foul [Necromancer] to guard this Dungeon again after its second death.

The blonde girl glanced back, seeing Saros lying against the wall as he coughed and bled. He wouldn’t be able to help her. It was just her against the undead wyvern. The giant monster’s long skeletal body curled to fit into the room, taking up nearly a quarter of the entire square chamber.

It opened its mouth, unleashing a cone of frost breath her way. The Noble Spellsword vanished. A flicker of golden light carried her forward, and she sprinted straight at the undead wyvern as it craned its neck. It redirected its blast of ice, freezing everything the magical attack came into contact with as brine spiked out like icicles in all directions.

Noele felt the cool air brushing against her skin. A layer of sleet would’ve surely formed over her clothes if not for the [Nobleflame Armor] burning around her and protecting her from the residual frost. She wove around the frost breath, and slid as the serrated spine-like tail lashed out at her.

The lumbering strike barely grazed against her protective aura, nearly knocking her off course. She reached out and gripped onto one of the bony spikes on the tail and leapt onto the undead wyvern. It turned its head to her as its frost breath stopped— even though it was merely a defiled corpse, it was intelligent enough to realize it could harm itself if it attacked her while she was on its tail.

Noele took this opportunity to counterattack. She ran up the back of the monster, slashing down repeatedly as the undead wyvern recoiled in pain. It shrieked, flinging its tail up, and she leapt off it. It raised its head to face her mid-air, and she gritted her teeth.

“You should’ve stayed dead— [Unending Dauntless Fury]!” the Noble Spellsword yelled as her blade blurred.

She unleashed a flurry of strikes at the undead wyvern. It reeled back from the white crescent-like blades slashing down at it. It raised its bone-wings to shield itself, but the barrage of strikes was too overwhelming. An entire wing broke off as chunks of bone crumbled away, before it could finally whip up with its tail at an impossibly fast speed.

Noele couldn’t react in time. It was just like the same strike the monster had ambushed Saros with. A powerful offensive Skill. She went flying, protected only by her [Nobleflame Armor]. But the fiery aura cracked.

She crashed against the gilded vault doors, gasping as the golden flames shielding her dissipated. Her vision blurred for a second. The Noble Spellsword had no protection left— her [Force Barrier] had been sheared straight through earlier by that juggernaut ghoul. All she could do was fight.

The undead wyvern loomed over her, tail still burning from coming into contact with her [Nobleflame Armor]. But it was unbothered. Its blazing eyes bore into the blonde girl as its fleshless face angled her way. Her eyes flickered as she caught sight of an inscription carved into the center of its skull. For a moment, she just stared, reading those words.

It was a memorial. It had been a memorial. But before that, it was a mark of greatness. An accomplishment that should have forever been remembered where the dead wyvern lay. But it had been desecrated— defiled. Like a grave that was robbed and destroyed. This feat might be forever forgotten if this wrong wasn’t made right. So Noele gritted her teeth.

“My sister already killed you once,” the Noble Spellsword said as she rose to her feet. “Now, I will kill you again for her.”

The undead wyvern lashed out with four strikes all at once. Its claws blurred. A quick attack— one that wasn’t too powerful which she couldn’t fully parry. Noele blocked the first two strikes, but the next two struck her shoulder. She stepped back, bleeding from one arm as she tried to maintain her composure.

But her everything hurt. And she was starting to get desperate. This undead wyvern was too strong to take down with the Skills she had left in her repertoire.

“[Fireflower]!” She sent the three flaming bolts out at the monster, but the small blast splashed off its sturdy bones like the attack was nothing.

The only thing Noele had left that could actually challenge the undead wyvern was her [Grand Blaze] and her Glorious Noble Slash. But both attacks were too destructive if used at full force. She could bring down the entire Dungeon and kill both herself and Saros that way.

The Noble Spellsword heaved heavily as she gripped her sword with both her hands. Her hair was a disheveled mess, and her clothes were torn and tattered from all the fighting. Her face was covered in blood and grime. She looked up with her wild white eyes, facing the undead wyvern. It was either die to the collapsing castle or die to this monster.

The skeletal tail lashed out again, but it was slower this time. The last attack had been due to a Skill, and this was a normal swing of the spiked tail. Noele dodged it, dancing around its side as she was about to make her decision. She charged wildly at the undead wyvern as she screamed a battle cry, golden aura coalescing at the tip of her blade—

And a memory briefly flashed in her mind. Her sister’s voice echoed for a single second. like a phantom speaking into her ear.

 

“Why do I call myself the Noble Sworddancer?” Nora laughed softly, leaning back on her chair.

“Yes.” Noele nodded eagerly. “Everyone thinks you’re from some powerful [Lord]’s family, but we’re [Farmers]!”

“You don’t have to be a [Lady] or [Lord] to act nobly, Noele.” Getting to her feet, Nora drew close to the little girl and tapped her chest. “It is about how you carry yourself. Whether it is with elegance or with grace. It is about what’s inside of you above all else.”

“That’s…”

And Noele’s eyes grew wide as she returned to reality. The golden aura flaking off her sword wisped wildly. The first of the words left her mouth as she was about to swing down at the reeling undead wyvern.

“Glorious—” But she bit her lower lip, stopping herself.

It wasn’t right. It would’ve been too costly. This attack could end up killing Saros, even if she saved herself. The undead wyvern took this chance to unleash an ice breath at her, and she backed away.

“[Flash Step].” Noele leapt into the air with a burst of golden aura. She avoided the cone of ice sweeping over the chamber as she took in a deep breath.

Her eyes darted over to the small incapacitated figure at the other side of the room. The Noble Spellsword could risk her own life, but she couldn’t risk his. Especially after he helped save her earlier. It just wasn’t right.

If the Noble Spellsword was going to slay this undead wyvern, she would have to do it without endangering the gnome’s life. She closed her eyes for a moment as she began to fall. The golden aura that had coalesced around her blade earlier began to fade, losing power.

“With grace and elegance,” she told herself as she fell.

Noele reached for the golden aura, stopping it from vanishing.

“It is what’s inside me above all else.”

It was her power. It came from her very soul. And she concentrated it into her blade. Not around the weapon, but into the metal itself. Like it was an enchantment, yet something more.

And she swung down at the undead wyvern’s neck. Her sword glinted gold— no aura coalescing around the blade, but a dim glimmer that seemed to sharpen the metal. The monster roared, slashing up with its claws. But she cleaved cleanly through its thick bones.

“Elegant Noble Slash!” Noele said softly as she landed lightly on her feet.

It was like there had been no resistance whatsoever. The blade sliced straight through the ivory like a hot knife on butter. It was all the power of a Glorious Noble Slash, concentrated into a single point. No excess mana lost— nothing splashing into the surroundings.

It briefly turned her sword into an aura blade.

The undead wyvern collapsed with a heavy clamor, its bones crumbling to dust as it fell behind the Noble Spellsword. She straightened, sheathing her blade in a single motion, and glanced back. All but the wyvern skull faded away, a plume of dust filling the room.

And blue boxes filled Noele’s vision. She had won.

[You have defeated a skeleton knight!]

[You have defeated a skeleton knight!]

[You have defeated a skeleton archer!]

[You have defeated an undead wyvern!]

[You have leveled up! You are now Level 51!]

[You have leveled up! You are now Level 52!]

[You have leveled up! You are now Level 53!]

[Skill Gained: Dance with Death!]

The golden glow around the Noble Spellsword’s blade dissipated. Its ethereal aura faded away, returning the sword into its regular form once more. Groaning, Noele turned around and stumbled forward.

“Saros…” she mustered up. “Are you alright?”

The Gnome Inventor lay against the back wall, gasping and clutching at his chest. He desperately rummaged through his Bag of Holding, but couldn’t find what he wanted. His mouth bobbed open as he barely got the words out.

“H-healing— potion…”

“Right,” Noele said as she took the Bag of Holding from him.

There were a lot of trinkets, artifacts, and vials lying around inside. It took her a full minute, but she eventually found what looked like a healing elixir and passed it to Saros.

He downed it gratefully, and the deadly wound on his chest began to close. He let out a sharp sigh as he pulled the glass vial away from his lips. Noele patted him on his back reassuringly.

“Take it easy. You’re fine.” She watched as his flesh knitted back together. Most of his worst injuries were gone. But he still seemed upset.

“Gah— that was fifty gold down the drain.” Saros scowled, and the blonde girl blinked.

“But at least you’re still alive. Don’t you make like twice that in a month, anyway?”

He got to his feet, shaking his head. “Excuse me, I make more than triple that every month. But I am a [Tinkerer]. I need to spend nearly half of what I earn every month just so I can take these damn jobs.”

Noele stared at the Gnome Inventor as he went from near-death to complaining about his job. It was almost ridiculous. Perhaps it was because of how exhausted the blonde girl was, she just wanted to laugh at that.

“You’re…” she started, then she heard a crash.

Both A-rank adventurers glanced up, hearing a clamoring approaching. Their eyes grew wide as the thunderous footfalls rapidly drew closer. And mere moments later, the horde of skeletons burst down the stairway, charging straight for them.

“Oh no,” Noele whispered.

The outpouring of undead didn’t stop. There were still thousands of skeleton knights and skeleton archers even after all she’d slain. But it wasn’t just a mass of low-leveled undead now. There were liches and skeletal wraiths mixed amongst the masses. A handful of dreadnought zombies lumbered forward as well, leading the back of the charge. They were not going to stop until they tore the two adventurers apart.

And the Noble Spellsword wasn’t sure how they were going to survive this predicament.

 

—--

 

As the pair of A-ranks engaged the horde of undead, a figure burst out of an icy mountaintop. Amelia landed in the snow, far above the clouds, and swept her gaze over her surroundings. Her eyes narrowed as she spotted the ruined castle far beneath her, at the base of the mountain.

She had overshot it. It annoyed her, but her attention was drawn to the mass of undead congregating around its walls. Her brows snapped together. With Deon at her back, still unconscious, she wordlessly leapt down and returned to the Dungeon.

No quips. No dry remarks. No irritated comments.

Amelia simply unsheathed her sword as she fell upon that horde.

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