During the past handful of weeks I had gotten pretty good at recognizing wyverns… or rather, there wasn’t much way to mistake them except at very far distances when they could be a bird, potentially.
Up close, I could tell this thing was not a wyvern. My fist instinctively moved towards its jaw, and its open maw snapped closed and its head snapped back. I immediately pulled out my halberd and chopped down at the long neck. Unfortunately, the creature pulled back and my halberd slid along its scales. There was the sound of metal striking another hard surface, and while my halberd did cut, it was partly deflected away- I only left a small trail of blood down the side of this thing’s neck. “A dragon.” My brain and my mouth both recognized it at the same moment.
Compared to a wyvern, it was bigger and wider. Maybe almost twice as large in some areas including some relevant details. Like the size of its teeth… and claws. It also had front claws- instead of just having a pair of legs like a bird. Its reddish-brown scales covered all of its body- even its wings, though the scales seemed much smaller there. Not that I had much time to look at them.
The dragon reared back its head as it stood up, and then it’s mouth opened. I didn’t have my shield ready, since I’d just finished climbing… but as flames came out of its mouth I jumped in front of Kantrilla, who was still getting to a stable position to stand.
Fortunately, Alhorn and Kasner were faster than me- a wall of ice came up in front of us, and Alhorn half-crouched and held his shield out. The hastily made wall only withstood a few moments of fire, and then it enveloped Alhorn. He was just off to the side and a bit away from me, so about half of the fire from one side brushed past me- but less than would have otherwise reached me. I covered my face with my arms and I felt the scorching heat break through Kantrilla’s barrier spell. Fortunately, just as I thought I couldn’t stand it anymore, the torrent of heat stopped. Immediately, Kantrilla was casting more barriers, and Alhorn and I started moving into position.
I pulled out my shield. I was somewhat limited in how I could use a halberd in one hand, but there was no way I was fighting a dragon without a shield. The thing was huge.
“I’ll circle to the left!” Alhorn called out, “You’ll have to take care of yourselves, try to get good footing!”
I was already moving the other way, further into the rather wide cave and away from the edge. While I wanted to protect Kantrilla, drawing the dragon’s attention away from her would be better than just standing in front of her.
The dragon’s jaw snapped out at me, and I just managed to maneuver my shield to prevent it from being able to bite down on me. I did hear an unpleasant scraping sound as some of the teeth dug into the shield though. I heard a clank over by Alhorn, “Damn these scales are hard!”
I was planning to stab out with my halberd, but I saw something flying towards me out of the corner of my eye. A brief moment of Martial Trance let me see it was a tail- and I wasn’t going to let something the size of a tree hit me. Fortunately, it didn’t have a stinger. I swung my halberd out towards the tail, knocking it away but not cutting into it. The impact shook my arm, and I started to realize how much Strength a dragon had.
Alhorn attacked again, and he must have injured it because the dragon snapped its head towards him. I took the chance to thrust my halberd into the dragon’s chest… but even with all of my Strength I only got the tip a few inches into the dragon. A significant injury… but not a critical one. I had to quickly wrench my halberd back out of the dragon as its claw slapped down towards my halberd, aiming for the shaft.
Suddenly lightning arced over the dragon… and though I’d rarely seen Kasner use so much magic in a single spell, it barely seemed to have any effect, merely dancing around on its scales. Even so, the dragon didn’t seem happy about that and bit back. Its mouth could open up wide enough it could probably fit most of Kasner inside…
I held my halberd about halfway down- the best I could do with one hand- and took a swing at its extended neck. That was all I could do, but even though I sunk the blade several inches into the side of its neck, it yanked me along with it as it continued to extend.
Kantrilla stepped out in front of the dragon. She held her shield up and swung a warhammer- spike first- up towards the dragon’s head. All I saw after that was her body go flying backwards over the cliff.
I’d technically already been using rage, but there was a difference between using it as a skill and really feeling it. My halberd seemed stuck in the dragon’s neck, held there by it’s muscles… and as I twisted to try to pry it free, the shaft snapped. It was made out of ironwood, but it still broke.
With my weapon broken… I jumped up on its neck. It wasn’t so huge that I couldn’t wrap my legs around its neck… at least, enough to get a proper grip. If my halberd wasn’t good enough, the only thing left was my adamantine dagger. It wasn’t really made for stabbing, but I did it anyway. Several inches stuck into the dragon’s neck, and then I pulled it out and stabbed again and again. The dragon thrashed, hitting me against the ceiling, but I held on.
It screamed out in pain, which I later learned was from Alhorn stabbing it in the wing- near where it connected to its body. My vision was blurry, but I wasn’t going to let a concussion stop me. I stabbed the dagger in again, twisting and pulling to try to cut into the dragon’s neck. However, it was more upset at Alhorn at the current moment, and it moved to try to crush him.
As the dragon’s whole body threw itself at him, claws first, Alhorn huddled in a corner. Pillars of ice shot out of the wall behind him, though they were immediately snapped as the dragon pressed into them… but while I heard Alhorn grunt in pain, that was it. Then I heard the thunder and smelled ozone. Though it hadn’t worked at all before, I felt the dragon slow down… and I used the chance to move further up the dragon’s neck, stabbing my dagger into its eye.
Then, I felt a force shoving upward- not the dragon flinging its neck, but just a sudden bump. I continued stabbing at the dragon… but a few moments later I realized it wasn’t moving. The dragon’s head had slumped to the ground, and as I crawled off it I saw Alhorn’s sword hilt deep in its jaw. It was the same place I had punched… and Kantrilla had hit with her warhammer.
“Kantrilla!” I staggered towards the edge of the cave, but trying to walk made me realize just how little balance I had. I almost fell forward, but Alhorn grabbed me.
“It won’t do her any good if you fall down yourself. Sit here.”
I wanted to just jump down the cliff- what was a fifty foot fall to help Kantrilla? But it wouldn’t help, would it? I sank to the ground and watched as Alhorn shouted down below. I couldn’t really hear him… but just as I was about to fall asleep, I felt a sudden shock on my nose.
“Stay awake, Llyr!” Kasner shouted at me. “You took a nasty hit to the head!”
I almost nodded, but even thinking about that hurt. So, I grunted. My entire body felt like jelly… and my heart felt like a puddle. Kantrilla. Was she alright? I thought Alhorn was saying something to me, but I couldn’t keep my head up. I just felt the touch of healing magic from him and focused on not completely collapsing.