The dragon tore through the walls with its claws, piercing into the stone like it was dirt, and diggings its way in. Chunks of stone were flung behind it toward the soldiers but the real danger to them came from its massive swinging tail. After a dozen or more seriously injured soldiers, they started to hang back. They only managed to do a small amount of damage to its scales, since it was moving so violently they had trouble connecting their attacks- unless they were close enough to get crushed.
The soldiers continued to pelt it with arrows, but the dragon mostly ignored them. Instead it tore through the walls with claws and teeth, crushing parts of it to powder. The dragon even managed to break through the outer wall, but not in a way that looked intentional. Instead, it was purely destroying.
“It’s eating…” Lorelei said as the dragon’s jaws closed around another portion of the wall, crushing it to bits. However, instead of letting the rubble flow out of the side of its mouth, it tilted its head back and the pieces disappeared into its throat.
“Surely there are better places to find similar quality stone…” William increased his focus to keep his magic going as he thought about the possibilities, “So it must be eating… the magical materials?”
William ran out of breath and let the spell lapse, instead looking directly at the castle. He could see some of the collapsed wall, but more importantly he could see that the magical barrier on the castle was only tenuously holding on.
Lorelei took up the task of creating a view from above, just in time for them to see the dragon crashing through the troops on its way to the other side of the keep, where it started to tear out more chunks of the walls- especially focusing on those parts that had the magical materials that formed the essential parts of the barrier.
“Send a message to Commander Jordan,” William said to the messenger that had come out with the group, “Prepare to attack the keep after the dragon leaves.”
At this point the defenses of the castle were completely gone. While the vast majority of the walls and even the magical materials that formed the defenses remained, magical formations wouldn’t work unless they were a completed whole. While there were redundancies in the more important parts of the formations, the dragon had eaten or destroyed all of the energy storage components, as well as some other parts.
Just as William thought it would be done, it started clawing its way into the main building of the keep. It stuck its head and upper body in to cause more destruction, then shortly after came out with a large metal box. It was a safe large enough to store a person standing up. The chunks of stone still attached indicated it had been embedded in the walls. The dragon’s jaws easily fit around half of it… and clamped down.
Mana couldn’t be seen through the manipulation of light, but William could see the torrents of fire and electricity that poured out from the metal box. It would also be highly enchanted… though as it was torn apart and half of it fell to the ground, William could see it had been emptied. With a bit more chewing the dragon swallowed the first half, then started on the second.
It finished the second part then casually grabbed a soldier prodding it with a spear into its mouth, swallowing him whole- or mostly whole. Then the dragon’s legs pushed off of the ground, leaving a small crater as it shot up into the sky and flew off with a roar.
The dragon flew perpendicular to William’s army, but he turned to watch it in the sky, remaining on alert until it disappeared from view.
With holes in their walls and no functional magical defenses, the soldiers in the keep surrendered to superior numbers. The keep itself was barely useful in its current state, but it could be repaired at some point. Either way, William would deal with that later.
“So, Lorelei… any idea why this is happening.. And why now?”
“Oh, I have many ideas. As you saw, it wished to eat the magical materials making up the wards. Dragons have been known to eat such things, even as ores… but they wouldn’t generally attack a castle for them. There are some records of dragons attacking castles, of course… but many of them are simply stories. If I had my library here I might find some useful information from some places…”
William continued to walk around the inside perimeter of the wall with Lorelei, looking at the destruction, “It seems like it was only interested in some of the more powerful pieces. More expensive- more rare.” On Earth, dragons were said to like shiny things and collected gold- but how they would manage to pick it up unless it was in chests was never discussed. This dragon had broken into the castle eat a safe… but was clearly after the safe itself. “So, clearly it wanted those things, but this has happened more than once now with different dragons. This castle has been here for… a very long time. Why now?”
“Sir!” Jordan came walking up, “There are reports from some of the other lords about dragons as well. I couldn’t learn much but… they always attacked the castles and not the armies. From what I could figure out, it was also only the castles of the old lords.”
“Some kind of grudge, maybe?” William shook his head, “No, that makes no sense. They could have shown up sooner.”
“What if they showed up because we were sieging the castles?” Jordan speculated.
“But why?” William pondered, “Clearly, they showed up during sieges of sorts, but if they were waiting for a weak point that wasn’t it. The soldiers were on high alert, the barriers on at full power…”
Lorelei snapped her fingers, “That’s it. The barriers being on is what drew them.”
“Okay, but why hasn’t this happened before, or anywhere else?”
“Well, look at this,” Lorelei waved to the wall and the remaining pieces of magical formation in general, “This was once a very expensive magical formation. Most of the other castles can’t compare.”
“What about the- my castle?”
Lorelei shrugged, “No mountains nearby, not with dragons of any particular strength anyway. Besides, the defenses weren’t on that long. These have had defenses ready and active for days.”
“But still… it’s not happened before, has it?”
Lorelei shook her head, “There’s never been so much troop movement and so many castles under serious siege here. Most of these castles haven’t been seriously threatened since the Demon King first came around, and otherwise had only minor scuffles. Meanwhile, they continued to improve their defenses, not realizing this could happen.”
“That’s… concerning. It makes me reconsider some ideas I had that involved large amounts of magical energy. Magical planes might be a problem…” William shook his head, “What about Eclea? They have a barrier that covers their whole country. Ustil also had one around Jeim.”
“Those barriers don’t directly stop siege weapons or anything. Eclea’s mostly serves as a warning system… and Ustil’s was a confounding formation. They were relatively low power per area. Also, no dragons have lived in Ustil since it turned into a desert.”
“Good point.” William nodded, “Well, this brings up some concerns about the future. We should be careful about this. Do you think the enemy knows?”
“They might… but they might not. After all, we’ve taken over everywhere the dragons have attacked. They’ve likely heard about dragon attacks, but they haven’t had time to stick around and learn anything.”
“Well,” William shrugged, “I’m all for dragons attacking castles right now. This is good for us… as long as we don’t have to defend any of these places. It does give us less secure places to fall back to… but at least we probably don’t have to worry about any dragons returning to cause more trouble.”