The fact that the dragon’s head and wings sometimes appeared over the walls of the fort spoke of how massive it was. Beyond that, Lila and the rest of the army saw very little of it.
“Headmistress, what should we do?”
“Prepare to fight if it attacks… but otherwise we do nothing.” Lila shook her head. They could probably kill the dragon, but many people would die trying. Besides, it was currently in an enemy fort wreaking havoc- they had no way to get to it nor reason to try.
Lila watched the situation, as much as possible. She found herself wondering how it managed to breach the fort. Obviously, it flew over the walls- that wasn’t the issue. The issue was the magical barrier that prevented entry. It was designed to keep hurled projectiles from siege weapons from hitting anything behind the walls of the keep. They had tested the barriers and they were strong. More importantly, it would take a long time to make them run out of energy. The only explanation, then, was that the dragon managed to break through all at once. Most magical barriers could only handle a certain amount of stress before momentarily failing, either everywhere or in a single location. Perhaps the dragon had used its magic to damage the barrier before entering…
Then the dragon placed a claw on the front wall of the keep. Each blade of the claw was almost the size of a gevai, attached to a colossal scaly frame that started to pull itself up onto the dozen yard tall wall. Stone tore off of the wall as the massive form of the dragon- over a dozen yards tall and with a wingspan at least twice that wide- climbed up on the wall. With a great roar, it jumped off the wall and into the sky.
Lila tensed herself for an attack… but the dragon flew off into the sky. As it left, she saw many of its scales were blackened and burned, and it was covered in small bleeding wounds. Though, Lila wasn’t sure if wounds that would instantly kill a normal gevai could be called ‘small’. Its injured form let Lila know how it entered the barrier, however. It hadn’t had time to get so many wounds from soldiers in the keep- most of the wounds would have been from breaking through the barrier. It likely hadn’t done anything special… just throwing itself at the barrier from above. With that, its massive weight would crash through the barrier. Of course, the force on itself and the magical defenses attacking it would completely obliterate anything less than a dragon… but dragon scales were extremely tough and resistant to all forms of magic.
“What should we do now, headmistress?” The commander asked.
“Stand down. We can’t be sure if the dragon will return or not- have some of the scouts keep an eye out for it. When the rest of the army returns, we can take the fort.”
Another loud explosion rang throughout the battlefield- though the actual danger was relatively small and contained. William watched as the already fading morale of the enemy collapsed as they realized their leaders were all dead, and they turned to run. Well, technically one of their leaders was just unconscious- but he would be dead soon.
William turned to walk across the battlefield toward Lorelei. “Great job, With this, we’re one step closer to victory.”
Lorelei tossed an unconscious lord at William’s feet. “The remaining lords won’t split up once they hear about this. Three more of the strongest lords… there are really only a half dozen or so left to worry about- if we get the one in the castle keep.” Lorelei looked down at the unconscious lord, “Well?” She raised an eyebrow, “I can’t do it myself. His soul is very… robust.”
“It’s probably better that one one of us destroys souls anyway. It’s not really… something everyone should be able to do.” William shook his head sadly, “Anyway, we should wait a few minutes. The explosion are much less… significant… with magic. I’d really rather not create another lake here. It’ll only be a few minutes for mana to flow back into the area.” Indeed, a few minutes later, William began to chant… and then a great and powerful lord was reduced to nothing. William sighed.
Lorelei moved to hug William. “I know it’s difficult… but it needs to be done, doesn’t it?”
William nodded, resting his head on Lorelei’s shoulder, “It does… but the real problem is… it’s not so difficult. I find myself thinking ‘it’s just another lord who deserves it.’ and then… they’re gone. It’s not trivial- but destroying any normal soul? I could do it like this,” William snapped a finger, amplifying the sound to enhance his meaning. “So, if I ever destroy anyone but these lords, I want you to kill me. It would be for the best.”
Lorelei shook her head, “For all your talk, you’d think you were already the sort of person who murdered at will. I trust you will make the right choices. Besides… I can’t kill you.”
“Look, I know you. You’re the kind of person who could put aside personal feelings if necessary…”
Lorelei laughed, “Aw, how sweet. But that’s not what I meant. Do you honestly think i could kill you if you didn’t let me?”
William sighed again, “Well… maybe. I’ll admit, however, that it would be rather difficult. I can see why these lords were so willing to kill their own people in the pursuit of power. It is… rather effective.” William touched his hand to his chest. “I would prefer not to know exactly how effective it is, but it seems I don’t have much choice. At least, not if I don’t want to start tearing off pieces of my own soul.”
“I would… strongly advise against that.” Lorelei shook her head, “You need that power now, even if it came through means you aren’t particularly happy with. At the very least… wait until after everything is over to decide. I don’t want you to cripple yourself… ever, really, but especially not before everything important is done.”
William nodded. “I’ll have to be careful about it anyway. If I’m honest… I’d rather have bits of various souls attached to my own than end up accidentally destroying my own soul, even if it’s rather unpleasant.”