About thirty meters off the road, there was a small clearing. That was the best spot to defend against the forest dragon the caravan could find on short notice. A keep with five foot thick stone walls would have been the preferred spot, but of course there was none. Thus, they could only move off to the side and hope the forest dragon passed by… or was slowed down by the trees. Obviously the forest dragon was not going to be excessively hindered by trees, but it most likely roamed where the trees were more sparse, given its size. Its path along the road also indicated that it liked more spacious areas.
As the forest dragon neared where they had left the road, everyone held their breaths. Not that this did anything to hide their presence, because the horses were clearly frightened and causing a fuss. The great nostrils on the giant lizard flared, and there was no doubt that it would miss the scent of so many people and animals.
Then, it turned. William cursed inwardly. The best result would have been avoiding a conflict entirely. As the forest dragon’s form approached, everyone got a much better sense of how large and quick the creature really was. It was nearly six meters wide, and twice that tall. It moved toward them with a series of steady stomps… and the trees were barely any help. Though they did indeed slow it down, it merely pushed them to the side with its front shoulders, or occasionally a claw. It would likely still reach them within a dozen seconds.
Everyone in the caravan was behind an encirclement of the wagons. It was a good tactic to defend against approaching enemies… but that only worked up to a certain size. The guards and William braced themselves behind the wagons, ready to attack as soon as it broke through the wagons in front of them. That didn’t take long, and the giant creature merely stepped on the wagon immediately in front of it, crushing it under its weight. Those guards who had spears stabbed out into the claw that had reached out. Unfortunately, the sound that resulted was not comforting. It was the sound of metal grating on metal, or in this case scales.
There was a momentary pause in action, before everything started up again. The claw reached forward to try to crush one of the warriors underneath it, but it had already been extended out front so it merely moved forward slightly. The forest dragon then stepped on the wagon next to the first with its other front leg, proving that there had been no point to try to block it. The guards spread out to try to surround the giant lizard, hoping to find weak points to attack. William also did so. Though there were a few brave guards who stayed in front of it to keep its attention, they were merely poking at it with spears while attempting to keep a safe distance.
William found himself next to a nice, wide open section of flank. He gathered his ki and struck out with Chris, though not with the intent to do physical damage. The guards had ki themselves, and they had used some to strengthen their spears earlier, only causing minor scratches on its scales. William didn’t think he could do better than that, so he performed “Eternal Dream”… his soul attack meant to kill. However, besides a clanging sound, he had no obvious effect. This same attack had previously pierced the armor of giant scorpions, but it did not work here. William attacked again, trying to feel what was happening. As he struck the scales, his attack was dampened. That wasn’t normal, since scales shouldn’t have blocked an immaterial attack. However, anything fearsome enough to bear the name dragon was not a normal beast. Its scales could defend against everything, at least to some extent. William still felt that a good portion of his attack went through. He could even feel that the soul of the forest dragon wasn’t particularly powerful. He wouldn’t say it was weak, but he’d met a few humans with stronger souls. Still, as the attack reached the soul, it still failed to cause any real impact. Instead of disconnecting it from the body, it merely caused a tremor. Though the soul itself was not strong, it was firmly connected to the body it inhabited. William thought “Shattering the Soul” might work in this case… but even if he had a chance to survive the resulting explosion, he was certain nobody else would.
All around the forest dragon the guards used their best attacks for piercing defenses. Though they couldn’t injure it in a single strike, now that they knew how hard its scales were they concentrated on single spots, chipping away at the scales. Several guards worked together on each spot, but it wasn’t an easy process. Though it could have been accomplished quickly in ideal circumstances, the forest dragon wasn’t just sitting still letting them hit it. Though it didn’t actually avoid any attacks, it still moved around, turning and swiping at those around it with it claws and tail… as well as biting with its gigantic maw. The guards were not without training, and though the attacks were very powerful, they were relatively slow. This allowed the guards to dodge its attacks, if not easily, at least mostly successfully. Unfortunately, one of them was too slow, and got his arm removed by the jaws of the forest dragon. Though martial artists usually valued lighter armor and mobility, William doubted that a knight wearing full plate, possibly even with some magical enchantments, would have done any better. Perhaps they might have even been worse, since they might not have gotten just an arm caught.
Unlike the guards, William couldn’t concentrate his attack on the same spot. His attacks didn’t leave much in the way of a mark, but as he continued to attack he at least noticed they did something. Every time he struck, the forest dragon slowed just slightly, for a brief moment. This helped the rest of the guards with everything they were doing, whether attacking or defending. William would have been glad to continuously attack if he could, but he only had so much energy… and he had to spend some of that dodging the body of the lizard and its tail as it kept turning around. Then, there was the occasional falling tree, though most of the trees in the immediate area had already been destroyed as the battle raged on. Still, though William grew more tired… his attacks actually became marginally more effective. He hadn’t been able to practice his techniques on anything. Though he had sparred with Han Xinya some, he still couldn’t pull out the full potential of his attacks since he didn’t really want to kill him. Now, he was getting practical experience with things only tried in training, and Chris was syncing up with his attacks as well. William was confident that the fight could be won. The next moment, however, he failed to dodge the lashing tail, and was knocked flying into a tree, blacking out momentarily.