William’s group advanced toward the lair of the dragon. They entered a small valley where the entrance to its cave was said to be. Generally, upon discovering the existence of a dragon, efforts would be made to find their lair, if only to make sure that people avoided the area. However, it was also useful if, or usually when the dragons decided to attack people.
As they moved along their way, William’s group encountered more agitated magical beasts. Fortunately, there weren’t too many, so they advanced safely, though not without injury. As they approached the cave, magical beasts showed up less and less. This wasn’t unexpected, since they would generally avoid the territory of a dragon. However, there were other signs in the area that made William think something strange was going on.
William wasn’t an accomplished tracker. In fact, if you asked him to track anything smaller than a bear, he would find it impossible, and could probably only track a bear that was exceptionally heavy. However, he noticed the signs in this area, because he wasn’t blind. They started coming across magical beast corpses. This wasn’t completely unheard of, because they often fought each other. However, these were clearly slain by magic. Fire, specifically. Dragon’s breath was, in fact, magic.
It was only as the group advanced further that William thought the cause might be something else. He started seeing more burned areas and small craters. He’d seen such marks, and they were caused by fireball spells. As they moved along, he saw traces of other magic being used. Lightning bolts, earth walls, tornadoes… It was becoming less and less likely that a dragon caused all this.
Finally, they came upon a great battlefield where some of the previous traces appeared again. William wasn’t the type who could say which marks happened first. Unlike great movie detectives, he couldn’t play out the entire scene- someone stood here, then dodged to the right, firing off a lightning bolt. Then they cast an earth wall to block a claw- the left claw of the dragon! They blinked while standing here.
Frankly, it was ridiculous to even imagine that kind of detail. However, he could find a few traces. He couldn’t say when in the battle things occurred, but he recognized some things. There were scorch marks around a parabola pattern, indicating a fire breath had been blocked by something, likely a water shield. At least, that’s what William would have tried. An earth wall would have worked, but would have left traces behind that William didn’t see. There were also traces of boulders having crashed into the ground, and places that they had been moved from. However, besides scorch marks, there were relatively few signs of magic on the ground. In addition, there were no tracks indicating a dragon had been nearby.
That didn’t mean there wasn’t a dragon involved in the battle. Instead, William assumed that the dragon was flying. That was much more advantageous. Presumably, all the magical attacks from its opponent had been launched toward the sky, thus not leaving any marks. Except for the boulders, of course, which had to inevitably come back down. Though he wasn’t a great detective, William knew the battle had happened recently. He couldn’t say whether it was minutes or hours, but at most a day or two. That was because the area was still warm, though presumably it had been scorching hot and burning at some point.
The group split up to search for traces of the dragon, or possibly its opponent. However, they remained within shouting distance, because nobody was sure whether the dragon had won or lost. William hoped it had lost, or at least been injured, because even though it would be nice to brag about having fought a dragon, that could only be said if he were still alive. Even if he was more likely to live than others, he also didn’t want the others to die for the sake of something stupid like glory. William was here because the dragon was attacking humans, and if that could be stopped, he would be content.
It was only about ten minutes before someone found the dragon. Though, they had first found the trail it left as it crashed to the ground. Everyone gathered together (though ready to split up to avoid a breath attack) before approaching the body to make sure it was dead. Upon getting closer, nobody doubted it. There was blood soaked into the ground, partly dried. That put the time estimate up a bit. Upon further investigation, the reason for the blood was obvious. Although there were several wounds on the dragon, it had an astonishingly large one on its chest. There was a hole that went in, near to the heart. The hole seemed to rather cleanly pierce through the scales and flesh beneath, as if it were cut with… well, a magic sword, maybe. William couldn’t think of what else would make that kind of cut.
However, that wound didn’t seem to be what killed the dragon. Instead, it was probably made to remove the “Dragon Heart”. It wasn’t the actual heart of the dragon, which was obviously still there. Instead, a Dragon Heart was a magical crystal that grew inside dragons. This was what allowed them to use magic, and thus their breath weapons. Presumably, this one would have had a fire-type Dragon Heart.
Although some of the knights were disappointed that they didn’t get to fight the dragon, they were also relieved, since they saw the destruction in the area. Plus, they would likely still be able to claim the bounty on the dragon. They searched the dragon’s cave, but as expected there was nothing interesting. Unlike the stories told to children, dragons didn’t gather large piles of gold coins. After all, how would they even pick them up? All the cave had were various skeletons of creatures that had presumably been dragged there and eaten.
However, the dragon’s body itself was actually valuable. Scales, teeth, even bones were worth something. The scales were very tough, so they could be made into armor. Though, they were obviously not impenetrable. William looked at the smooth edges on the hole in its chest. Those must have been made after it was dead, or at least immobile. It was so smooth that William thought it would have needed to be cut by a laser, if he were in his world. Or… a water jet. William looked closely, then nodded. Well, at least he knew where Lila had been.