The Strange Adventure of a Broke Mercenary

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Chapter 203: From A Close Encounter To Battle

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Chapter 203: From A Close Encounter To Battle

Loren’s honest impression, if he had to give one, was that it was not that big.

From the term ‘Ancient Dragon’, Loren had expected a being that could cover the sky with its wings. But when he thought about it, he realized that if such a huge creature existed in this world, its home must also be huge. The mountain they were currently on was a huge mountain, but it was not big enough to be described as covering the entire earth. Since the dragon lived here, it shouldn’t be any bigger.

But still, the creature that was slowly descending from the sky while beating its wings surely did possess the presence of an Ancient Dragon.

“Do you think we can escape?”

Looking up at the sight of a dragon slowly descending from the clouds, Loren said, but not to anyone in particular. He was hoping that either Lapis or Gula would answer, and it was Lapis who did:

“It’s impossible, isn’t it? We can’t find a place to hide, and even if we run, it’s probably faster than us.”

“Lapis, this is the first time I’ve seen a dragon, but… d.a.m.n, are you sure that really is an Ancient Dragon?”

When Loren was still a mercenary, dragons were things that existed in fairy tales only, so he had never seen one. In the first place, there was no room for an existence that only appeared in stories to intervene in a battle between humans. That was the reason why Loren had to ask.

Lapis slowly nodded:

“Judging by this sense of intimidation, I’m almost certain it is.”

There was no way Loren could tell the difference in the sense of intimidation between an ordinary dragon and an Ancient Dragon. But if Lapis said so, then it must be so. Loren thought and decided to a.s.sume that the being above them was indeed an Ancient Dragon.

“Do we fight?”

“If necessary. But Loren, we have a better chance if we ask Gula to hold it back and run.”

“You want to use me as a sacrificial p.a.w.n?!”

Gula clung to Lapis as if to stop her from doing that, and Lapis wordlessly gave her an elbow to the brow. It made a rather loud sound, and Gula reflexively covered her face with both hands and dropped to a crouch. Loren had no time to care about it though.

“ARE YOU THE ONES WHO DISTURB MY DWELLING?”

The dragon that had been hovering overhead opened its mouth.

Loren found the sight of a dragon that looked like a lizard speaking human language with its mouth extremely disturbing, but despite being taken aback, he knew that he had to give some kind of answer, and he managed to open his mouth somehow:

“We are not the one who caused the explosion with magic!”

Thinking that the disturbance was about the magic explosion, Loren raised his voice and denied it. 

Considering the distance between them and the dragon, Loren was not sure if it could hear him or not, but it seemed like it had picked up his voice.

“THAT MUST BE THE DARK ELF THAT JUST RAN AWAY. I THOUGHT I HADN’T SEEN THEM LATELY. TURNS OUT THEY’RE STILL LURKING AND SCUTTERING AROUND, AS INCORRIGIBLY ALIVE AS EVER.”

That sounded more like how one would describe something lurking in a dirty kitchen than an elf. Loren thought, and raised his voice even more:

“If you want to chase her, go that way. We have nothing to do with her!”

“THOSE EXPLOSIONS WERE UNPLEASANT, YES. BUT THAT’S NOT WHY I’M HERE.”

Loren had a.s.sumed that the dragon had come out because of the noise of the explosions, but judging from the way the dragon was talking, he was wrong. His cheeks twitched as he realized that there was only one other factor that could have upset the dragon.

“Don’t tell me…”

“WHAT ARE YOU? THERE HAS NEVER BEEN A PERSON CARRYING SUCH A THICK PRESENCE OF DEATH IN MY DWELLING, EVEN IF I DREDGE UP MY MEMORIES.”

Both Lapis’ presence and Gula’s power were suppressed to some extent. Their influence was limited, and perhaps if that was all, they would not have offended the dragon. 

However, in order to peel away the cover of the dark elf, Shayna, the King of Death inside Loren, had used her power lavishly without suppressing it. The King of Death’s extravagant energy drain was so powerful that it nullified the dark elf’s magic and turned the mountain surface into weathered dust. 

It was ridiculous to think that the dragon would not notice it.

“I CANNOT FORGIVE YOU FOR BRINGING THAT UNPLEASANT PRESENCE INTO MY HOME. YOU WILL HAVE TO PAY FOR THAT CRIME.”

“Wait a minute! That was our last resort…”

“YOU CAN MAKE YOUR EXCUSES IN THE AFTERLIFE.”

There was no point in saying any excuses. After all, it was true that Loren had the spirit of the King of Death inside him, and it was also true that Shayna had wielded her power without restraint.

However, Loren felt that he had to say something, but the dragon would not listen.

“Loren! Dodge!”

Hearing Lapis’s voice, Loren held his greatsword at the ready. 

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It was only in the next moment that he realized that it would be useless against the dragon’s attack from above, but it was natural for him to hold his sword in battle, and he had never experienced combat against a flying opponent like a dragon.

The dragon plunged its huge body into the ground where Loren’s party had been standing, its landing shook the ground and crushed the mountain surface. With a roar, a wall of flame appeared in the path of the fleeing party, stopping them in their tracks.

“By the way, the dragon’s first attack was by magic, >. Do you know why it chose a less powerful magic as its attack?”

“How am I supposed to know what a dragon is thinking?”

“If it shoots > down from the sky, it will blow away a good part of this mountain. The dragon couldn’t use > because it would have resulted in something stupid: blowing up its own home.”

As Loren’s greatsword sliced through the wall of flames, it lost its shape and disappeared as if it had been blown away. However, another wall of flames appeared behind it. It seemed that the dragon had created a multi-layered wall of flames surrounding their party to prevent them from escaping.

“But if it comes down to the same level as us, the damage done to the mountain when it uses > will be less severe.”

“And that means?!” 

“That means this time, the dragon will not hesitate to shoot us with its greatest attack, >.”

“Gula!”

“Well, I’ve never eaten an Ancient Dragon’s Breath either.”

Gura sounded unsure of herself, but she was already deploying her power in front of them, preparing for the breath of the dragon. Loren’s eyes, which were synced with Shayna, saw this, but he was rendered speechless when he saw the glow of power converging in the mouth of the Ancient Dragon as it opened its mouth.

The ma.s.s of power was glowing with a radiance Loren had never seen before in his life. Just a glimpse of such overwhelming, body-trembling power reminded Loren of how powerless he was, and he unconsciously lowered his sword.

[‘I’m sorry, onii-san. It’s because I used my power without thinking…’]

Shayna’s tone was full of guilt, and it pulled Loren back from the thought of resignation he had started to succ.u.mb himself to. He raised his greatsword again.

“It couldn’t be helped. And I guess I’m just as guilty as you for not being cautious.”

[‘Onii-san…’]

“It’s coming, Loren.”

Loren was pulled back to his senses by Lapis’s voice, which sounded just a bit tense, and saw a torrent of dragon power glowing red on the other side of the magical barrier that Lapis seemed to have created and the Evil G.o.d’s power that Gula had deployed. Fear almost froze him, but Loren put all his strength into the hands grasping the hilt of his greatsword and planted his feet firmly on the ground.

If they could defend against this blow, their opponent would be on the same ground as they were, and Loren’s attack would be able to touch it. The best thing to do now was looking for the right moment to attack, and as Loren had these thoughts, the dragon finally unleashed the power it had gathered in its mouth.

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