A dragon born in the core of a dying star. A being of great power, and great wisdom. Trained in most forms of magic, he has sworn loyalty to the Keepers, recognizing them as a higher power. Alkazar possesses the power to destroy worlds, and the wisdom to save them.
I was surprised when I saw the price on this fixer. I had imagined that the World Host would be a fairly expensive entity, given that it was a ‘get out of jail free’ card for Keepers. Yet, to this dragon, that was apparently nothing. Once again, I sent a message to Ryone, informing her of my intent to buy this entity, before spending the hundred points to get it.
As a safety precaution, when I spawned Alkazar on the planet, I put him on one of the uninhabited continents. If his description was to be believed, then his starting point wouldn’t matter, but it would give me more time to act if he went out of control. It was only when he spawned that I saw his appearance.
Standing over a hundred meters tall, with two pairs of crimson wings, it was truly the form of a giant dragon. And when I measured its power, I found that its raw power alone was over fifty times stronger than my Keeper stats the last time I went down. Of course, from the description, I could assume that its greatest power was with its skill, rather than its raw power.
EarthForceOne: Is this the standard for fighters in the Games..?
Alkahest: Huh? No, Alkazar is a monster, even among advanced worlds. Only the really old Keepers would be able to easily produce people like him. He was found as a stroke of dumb luck from an advanced Keeper, who decided to shelter him and train him.
I see, so that’s why he was loyal to Keepers… When I looked back at the screen, I saw the dragon looking with a strangely expectant gaze towards the sky. After focusing on him, I managed to hear his thoughts. Have I been summoned, Keeper? His thoughts were asking in a calm tone, as if entirely used to this situation.
Yes. I sent a reply back to him, speaking into his mind. His large figure shook slightly at that, but he quickly regained his composure.
Very well. What is it you ask of me? His thoughts were calm, and I could feel that he was prepared to sacrifice whatever was asked to repay some debt he felt towards Keepers.
I want you to help me end a war. This world is still too young, so it will need to be handled carefully….
The language sharing was going smoothly, and there were several key figures of both the centaurs and the halflings that could roughly understand the language of the other race. Still, they could only see the other side as the enemy, their weapons ready to defend themselves at a moment’s notice.
They could only scoff when they learned that the other races worshipped a god like they did. For the halflings, they could see nothing of fellowship from the beasts that mercilessly struck down their kind. And for the centaurs, they could not find love from the beings that stalked them through the night. Still, with the urging of those in power, they allowed the process to continue.
It was almost a year later, when nearly the entirety of both languages had been shared, that a fresh disaster struck. This one came not from either party who were beginning to set about a grudging peace, but from the skies. As if the heavens themselves wished to wipe them out from existence, fire spilled down upon the forest.
A massive shadow loomed overhead, a winged creature the size of which nobody had ever seen before. The time it had chosen to strike was just when Dayul and Terrak were meeting face to face for the first time in their endeavors to stop the war. The halfling and pink centaur stood alone at the border of the forest, staring in shock as the massive beast dove out of the sky, its front limbs outstretched.
With practiced ease, it grasped Dayul in one of its talons, eliciting a terrified scream from the halfling next to him. She pulled out her bow, and began firing arrow after arrow at the rapidly ascending creature. Yet, each arrow bounced harmlessly off of its scales. She could only watch on, horrified as the centaur who she was starting to empathise with was tossed up from the creature’s claw.
A single burst of yellow flame surged from its mouth, enveloping the frightened centaur, moments before he was devoured in a single bite. Whether it was the halflings in the forest, or the centaurs in the cities, they were all clearly able to see what had happened. Everyone felt their chests tighten as they watched this beast circling the skies.
After spreading a bit further away, it began breathing its terrible flame down upon the ground again, regardless of who was in its path. It drew a wide circle, the flames stretching out beyond the horizon in every direction. Roughly half of the circle included the forest, while the other half included the plains, coincidentally including one city from each side before the edge of the circle.
Following that, the beast landed far away from either city, lying down and hungrily eyeing the halflings and centaurs that entered its view. To those who watched, it seemed to treat their screams as music, a wide grin forming on its face.
I couldn’t help but shudder as I watched the scene unfold, before letting out a long sigh of relief. Not because everything went to plan, but because the Host was finally dead. It felt like a great shame had at last been erased from the world. Still, though, I couldn’t help but look at Terra. “Okay, explain.” I said in a calm tone, catching the groggy catgirl off guard.
“Explain what…? He did what you said, right?” She asked in a confused tone, tilting her head to the side.
“Not that…” I shook my head, turning back to the screen and pointing. “That!” What I was pointing at was the trees that Alkazar had released his flame on. Naturally, there should be a forest fire starting up from something like that. However, not only was the fire not spreading, but the trees weren’t even burning! I knew that this was not because of any kind of illusion, because the grass beneath the trees had been charred black.
“Huh..” Terra said with some surprise as she realised what I was talking about. “I didn’t think they were that tough.” She admitted, her eyes widening slightly.
“Oh?” I asked, looking over at her, and she nodded her head.
“It’s not uncommon for worlds with supernatural energies to evolve fire-proof trees. Even your own world had some that were highly resistant to fire, even completely without any magical energies. But, for these trees to even resist dragon fire, it probably means that their resistance is bordering on immunity.” She explained, her eyes drooping slightly as she yawned.
“But… then how do halflings make campfires without any firewood?” With the halflings not having any real advancement in magic, it was obvious that they didn’t just use a flame spell or something, so they had to use this fireproof wood.
“Hmm..” Terra thought about that for a long moment, almost looking like she was about to nod off before she spoke again. “The wood probably loses that special property when it dies. Let me check… Huh, it contains just a little bit of spiritual energy.” She spoke, seemingly surprised by that revelation. “It must have absorbed some of the spirits from the many years before you created Irena, eventually evolving into this species of tree.”
I nodded my head slightly, before returning my focus to the screen. I had given Alkazar just a few simple instructions. He was to kill my Host, and then trap a city of each race together with him. Every now and then, he would go in and snack on one or two of each race, while they were unable to escape the circle of fire that he set up. According to him, he could keep those fires burning for as long as he wished, so there was no need to worry about them escaping. As for the pegasus variants flying above the flames, that was also not an issue, as he could easily snatch them from the skies.
This was to last until the races realised that they had no choice but to work together to defeat this common enemy that had appeared. Of course, Terra’s incarnation would be heavily pushing that from the halfling side, so I wasn’t too worried there. This would leave to a ‘brutal and bitter struggle’ that brings the two races together, with bonds literally forged under fire. Only when they began to truly work together and cooperate would Alkazar pretend to be mortally wounded, flying off to retreat to some distant land.
While this sounds like a cheesy story on paper, it is actually the most effective method I could think of for such an archaic pair of races to overcome their differences. With a Romeo and Juliet romance, the pair would only be scorned. Not to mention, the size differences made that wholly unpractical. However, giving them a common enemy, and forcing them to work together made them truly begin to understand one another.
In truth, the halflings and centaurs are not all that different. They just needed a catalyst to understand that. Now that they can speak with one another, Alkazar is just the catalyst they need.
Rather than watching the entire event unfold like a dramatic novel, I decided to fast forward the world once again. Months passed before the two races even began to consider cooperation. It was years before they actually put it to good use. Finally, twenty years after Alkazar appeared, they began getting along enough that he was ready to carry out the final stage of the act. This part, I was actually interested in watching.
Cinder Ashfoot stood alongside his men, gazing out at the towering wall of fire that he had witnessed there for all his life. As the last son of the previous king, he was born shortly after the great beast descended. Now, he had worked his way into being the Knight of Leadership, next in line to the throne. And atop his back sat the strongest halfling warrior this generation had produced.
The two were among the first to consider the idea of friendship between the races, unburdened by the old hatreds. They grew up in a time where the enemy was not the one that spilled blood in the past, but the one who watches over the world as if seeing insignificant ants. However, that did not mean that he was alone. Standing before him were twenty other centaurs, and twenty other halflings atop their backs.
This was the formation that they had come up with in their training. Using the centaurs as steeds, the halflings would hide behind their upper bodies, jumping out to attack as they passed the enemy. This required an absolute trust on both sides, as either one could easily endanger the other. It was this very reason why the total number of troops for this operation numbered only forty-two.
Originally, there had been over a hundred of them, but they had already fought many battles with the great beast, and had lost many of their comrades. “Fellows, let this be our final battle.” Cinder spoke softly, a spear held firmly in his hand. “We have lost friends, brothers, families to the great beast. This can go on no longer.”
“We shall not allow this great beast to continue devouring our people, our homes. Today, it stops.” As he said that, he slammed the butt of the spear into the ground. “Each of you have been provided weapons enchanted by our finest mages. Their powers are well beyond that of normal wood and stone. With this, we can finally slay the beast. For our families, and our people!”
“For love and fellowship!” The others called out. When people finally began to accept one another, they began to consider the similarities between not only their races, but their gods as well. With the help of their priests, they actually soon discovered that their gods were now friends, able to stand alongside one another.
After saying that, the twenty one centaurs turned and charged towards the form of the seemingly sleeping dragon. At the same time, the glistening red head of the beast rose up, looking arrogantly at the centaurs charging towards them. A small snort sent a plume of yellow flame gushing out, bathing the grass before it in fire.
Yet, the charge continued. Even as the centaurs knew that the flames before them had consumed so many others, they threw themselves into the fire. Even as their bodies burned, they charged forward those extra steps. At the front, Cinder yelled out the moment he passed through the flames, his voice hoarse from the pain. “Now!”
This was the reason he took the name Ashfoot, as had the rest of those that joined him on this mission. This was why this was their last battle. As he heard the call, the halfling on his back jumped off, eyes watering as his stone daggers were gripped firmly in his hands. His body had been protected from the flames thanks to Cinder, and now it was his turn.
While Cinder struggled to charge forward as far as it could, making room for the rest of the Ashfoot soldiers, the halflings began jumping off one by one. They landed on the large body of the beast, scaling it with practiced ease faster than it could react. Each one sorrowfully scratched at the scales of the beast as they climbed, scattering around its body to try to bring it down.
Blood began spraying out from under the scales of the beast as it roared in pain, shaking its head to try to shake off the halflings. Yet they held firm. It wasn’t only the Ashfoots that were prepared to die in this mission. As members of the Bloodied Hand, these soldiers were also prepared to die for their cause.
Even as the great beast took flight, they continued stabbing their daggers into its hide, growing progressively closer to its head with each passing moment. In indignation, the beast flew above the clouds, trying to force the halflings off as it flew into the horizon. A long while later, they felt a loud crash in the distance, and for the first time in twenty years, the wall of flames surrounding their cities finally vanished.
Finally. Can I focus on other races now?