Book 2: Chapter 164
For the first time since their fight began, the Ancient Dragon had an expression of surprise. This was because Bargan had caught its tail with his bare hands.
With a loud cry, it pulled its tail back.
The tail of the Ancient Dragon was like a whip with shards of metal embedded into it. When someone tried to hold it with their bare hands, their hands would naturally be shredded.
Bargan’s hands were filled with hard calluses that had formed over decades of hard work, but when compared to the Ancient Dragon’s scales, they were no better than paper.
Nevertheless, Bargan refused to let go. Instead, he increased the strength of his grip even though his hands felt like they were on fire.
Blood freely flowed from his palms, covering the tail and dripping to the ground.
“Good job, Bargan!”
It was at that moment that Ashstar appeared, her cleaver held high.
With all the strength she could muster focused on her arms, she swung down on the tail that was held defenselessly.
And felt it immediately.
The Ancient Dragon’s tail had been cut off. By then, Bargan’s palms were ragged and bloody, but his next actions were still as quick as lightning.
Grabbing the tail, he twisted it around before stabbing it into the monster’s chest like a spear.
The sharp tail easily penetrated the Ancient Dragon’s scales.
However, instead of excitement, an expression of shock slowly spread across Bargan’s face.
He had a lot of real world experience, and he had killed many people in his life.
So he knew.
He knew exactly what it felt like to pierce someone’s heart.
“This guy… its heart isn’t-…!”
Bargan was unable to finish his sentence before he was sent flying. The same was true for Ashstar, who had released a cry in anticipation of their victory.
The Ancient Dragon roared and spread its wings. It was then revealed that its wings were twice as large as its body.
Then, it flew into the sky. Ashstar, who was laying on the ground, coughed up a mouthful of blood and said.
“What the hell… happened?”
“… its heart wasn’t there.”
He stabbed the tail through its chest and didn’t feel anything.
Was its heart on the right side? Or was it a species whose heart wasn’t in their chest? Did it even have a heart in the first place? Could there be a living being who didn’t have a heart?
All these questions disappeared in an instant as the Ancient Dragon looked down from the sky and opened its mouth.
This time, Bargan was certain of his death.
Deep in his bones, he understood that Dragonmen would never be able to deal with Ancient Dragons on their own.
In general, Dragonmen didn’t have the means to reach the same level as Ancient Dragons.
For one, Dragonmen didn’t have wings. Of course, they couldn’t use flying dragons, either. After all, in the end, flying dragons were Dragonlings, and for Dragonlings, Ancient Dragons were at the very top of the food chain and couldn’t be contested.
No matter how fearless a flying dragon might be, the moment it heard the roar of an Ancient Dragon, its entire body would freeze instinctively.
It didn’t matter how amazing its trainer was. It was impossible to train a flying dragon to confront an Ancient Dragon. This has been proven by tests and experiments carried out over the past few hundreds of years.
Of course, if they were to use the power of sorcery, it was possible for them to remain in the sky, but, at best, that could only be called floating in place.
Flying freely in the sky and floating in place were so different that they didn’t even need to be explained.
It was like a person who had lost both of their legs going against a professional runner.
[Ka, ka, ka.]
The Ancient Dragon let out another laugh. It had already realised its absolute superiority.
It always enjoyed slaughters like this one.
It could never get this kind of pleasure while killing Dragonlings. There was no point in killing weak things that only ran or froze without doing anything.
It wasn’t fun at all.
Devouring a trembling Dragonling was no different from eating food that had been set out on a table.
But Dragonmen, on the other hand, was different.
They were also terrified whenever they encountered it, but they never gave up and always did their best to survive. Some of them even tried to fight it.
It liked that.
What the Ancient Dragon wanted to do was hunt, not butcher, and Dragonmen were the perfect actors for its play.
The Ancient Dragon opened its mouth wide and black flames appeared in it.
But what shot out was more like a bullet than a breath attack.
The instant the ball of black flames hit the ground, half of the clearing was destroyed.
The force of the attack sent Bargan and Ashstar rolling across the ground like ragdolls.
It had missed them on purpose.
It knew they couldn’t avoid it. The black ball of flames was far too fast for them to even hope to dodge.
The Ancient Dragon opened its mouth again.
It was about to spit out another bullet.
Originally, it had intended to play with them until dawn, but it had changed its mind. These Dragonmen had dared to attack it and had even cut off its tail.
The intelligence was still there, but the patience had run out.
This was probably the most decisive difference between Dragonmen and Dragonlings.
Ashstar snorted as she finally let go of her saber.
She never thought she would die in such a ridiculous way.
…It wasn’t so bad to die to this kind of opponent.
Unlike Ashstar, who had already resigned herself to her fate, Bargan continued to glare at the Ancient Dragon.
There wasn’t any big reason for this.
It was simply because he had sworn to never turn his head away if the day of his death finally arrived.
However, this allowed him to witness a very strange sight.
From somewhere in the forest, a whitish blur suddenly shot towards the Ancient Dragon.
It was almost like a group of pure white bats were flying.
It took the Ancient Dragon a while to notice their presence, but when it did, it immediately shot its ball of black flame towards them.
But these objects which suddenly appeared flew through the black flames as though it wasn’t there before tearing the Ancient Dragon’s body to shreds.
[…ka, guh, uk…?]
The Ancient Dragon’s body shook as it looked down at itself in disbelief.
This was because it realised that the things that had pierced the scales it was so proud of and made its body a ragged mess were only pieces of ice.
It was Ashstar who called out in disbelief.
It was a bit chilly as there was still some time before dawn, but it wasn’t cold enough for ice to form. And even if it was, there was no way the ice would be strong enough to withstand those powerful black flames, or sharp enough to pierce the scales that even her prized saber could do nothing about.
Bargan, on the other hand, immediately knew the source of this incredible phenomenon.
At that moment, the Ancient Dragon’s body fell to the ground.
Its mouth was wide open, and doubt, shock, fear, and resentment were clear in its dark eyes.
A death that was still unbelievable even after they witnessed it with their own eyes.
How could this monster, who even Bargan and Ashstar had to risk their lives to just cut off its tail, die so easily?
It was at that time that a man appeared from the forest. There was a cold, hazy mist drifting off of his body.
Ashstar’s eyes narrowed slightly.
It was the outsider that Bargan had been strangely polite to.
Lukas looked over to them and spoke.
“It seems I wasn’t too late. Are you okay, Bargan?”
Bargan responded while suppressing the pain from his ribs and palms. Instead, he smiled slightly.
“…to defeat an Ancient Dragon on your own. I knew you were an amazing person, My Lord.”
But Lukas’ expression became strange when he heard those words. He shook his head as he looked down at the monster’s corpse.
“You’re wrong about something.”
“What do you mean?”
“This isn’t an Ancient Dragon.”
“What did you say?”
It was Ashstar who asked this question.
Lukas looked into the forest and said.
“Don’t you remember the huge vibration that shook the forest earlier? It caused most of the birds in the Great Forest to fly away simultaneously. This guy isn’t strong enough to cause that kind of vibration. In other words…”
Lukas looked down at the Ancient Dragon again.
“This is nothing more than a mutated Dragonling.”
As he ended his words, he pushed the ‘mutated Dragonling’ slightly with his foot.
Bargan’s expression stiffened.
Although he didn’t really want to accept it, it certainly did clear up some of the doubts he’d been feeling from the start.
For example, the monster was even smaller than normal Dragonlings, and its physical structure was so ‘deformed’ that it could hardly be called a Dragonling. Finally, its pride, fighting style, and burgeoning intelligence were different from normal Dragonlings.
Ashstar spoke in a trembling voice.
“So the thing that beat us so badly wasn’t an Ancient Dragon… It was just a mutated Dragonling bastard…”
Suddenly, another vibration shook the entire forest. Something was moving on the other side of the forest.
Whatever it was, it was big. So big in fact that they couldn’t even see all of it at once. Its size was so overwhelming that they didn’t even have any thought of fighting back.
Even though it was night, a feeling of immense darkness seemed to cover the entire forest. It was almost as if a mountain had suddenly appeared and its majesty pressed upon the shoulders of everyone in its shadow.
The real Ancient Dragon Spread its wings.
This movement alone sent a tremendous gale rippling through the forest. It was so powerful that the ancient trees that were deeply rooted in the ground were sent flying like small weeds.
Bargan and Ashstar, who had only just returned to their feet, suddenly lost all sensation in their knees, causing them to collapse to the ground once again.
Lukas, on the other hand, remained standing, gazing at the Ancient Dragon.
Indeed, if it was a being on this level, it wasn’t a surprise that the voice would think he was unable to deal with it.
“You did well, Bargan. Now go join back up with the main group.”
As he said that, Lukas turned around.
For a moment, Bargan didn’t understand what Lukas was doing. Then, when it clicked in his mind, he hurriedly tried to get back to his feet, his feet trembling all the way.
“M-, my lord. What are you planning to do?”
“Hunt the Ancient Dragon.”
It was crazy. Absolutely Insane.
Even Bargan was unable to keep his cool when he heard this response. He cried out to Lukas in an anxious voice.
“I’ve heard that many times before.”
Once again, Bargan was made speechless by Lukas’ remark, but Lukas simply smiled at him and added.
“That just means that no one has ever done it before.”