It was during the height of the Dragon Demon war. Carlos had talked to Azell about the Dragon Slayer’s Ritual. He talked about both sides, the human and Dragon, who had to entered into the Dragon Slayer’s Ritual.
“Humans, who challenge the Dragons in their thirst for power, are like moths flying towards the flame. However… The one that is truly pitiable isn’t the humans. In my opinion, it is the Dragons.”
“What nonsense are you spouting now?”
“When the Dragon Slayer’s Ritual is initiated, the choice is always given to the humans.”
If a human requested for a Dragon Slayer’s Ritual, the Dragons always accepted it. It didn’t matter how disadvantageous the situation was. When the Dragons were born into the world, there was a thirst that tormented their souls, and they knew only one method that could quench this thirst.
This was why the Dragons always had their choices made for them.
The one who made the selection were the humans.
Wisdom and Language.
If a Dragon didn’t have those two things, the Dragon could only wait until a human makes the choice for them.
“If there is a Dragon that can refuse the challenge of a human, the Dragon had already achieved its earnest wish by gaining Wisdom. However, it isn’t too hard for me to imagine how much a Dragon would have to wait, and how much it would have to fight to gain it.”
A Dragon might live out its long life, and not be chosen.
It might be chosen when it is wounded or sick.
“On the other hand, humans could wait for the perfect situation, and they could even choose the site of the battle. In the end, they would only need two things. They need strength and resolve.”
“I think it is a bit much to trivialize those two requirements.”
“Of course, I’m not trying to do that. However, this is the difference between those who have a choice, and those who do not. I don’t need to go into a lengthy explanation for you to know which side was heaped with the more severe fate.”
It happened in the distant past, but it was merely several years ago for Azell. In his mind, it felt as if it happened only couple months ago, and his memories randomly popped up in his mind.
For a brief moment, Azell watched the Thunder Dragon approach him.
‘However, there are times when a human is also driven into a corner where one doesn’t have a choice.’
He was in that situation right now. Azell had no choice as he had to step forward for the Dragon Slayer’s ritual.
At that moment, Kairen spoke to him.
“It is as you said to me before, Azell.”
In the past, Kairen had asked Azell about swords, and he had given Kairen an answer.
Azell had said the sword was merely a tool being used to achieve his goal. If a tool was being used, there was a chance that it might break. If the tool breaks, one shouldn’t obsess over the fact that the tool was broken. Instead, one should seek for a different method to achieve one’s goal. That was what Azell had said.
“However, the Dragon Sword is my soul. It is my life.”
“When a person invests meaning into an item, it is reasonable for the item to take on life as it becomes personified.”
Azell spoke. He treated almost all weapons as if it was a disposable tool, but he had an item that held the same significance as what Kairen described.
It was the Dragon Maken.
Kairen handed Azell one of his two Dragon Swords.
“I’ll lend you my soul. You have to win and return without fail.”
Azell momentarily looked at him with surprised eyes. It was as Kairen had said. To him, the Dragon Sword wasn’t merely a tool. The Dragon Sword was the culmination of his life’s work, and it was basically like a clone of himself.
The fact that he was lending Azell the Dragon Sword was a big deal. Azell stared at him for a brief moment before he accepted the Dragon Sword, then he gave Kairen his own sword.
“I’ll use it with thanks.”
“I know you probably hadn’t expected to fulfil your promise to me at this point in time. I understand. However… However, you are the only one I can entrust this task to.”
Azell’s situation wasn’t ideal. The training period he had planned out hadn’t been completed yet. The Dragon Sword being made for him was incomplete, and his condition was a mess from pushing his body to cover this great distance.
If one considered all of this, it was extremely cruel to ask Azell to go through the Dragon Slayer’s Ritual. If we was able to do as he liked, Kairen wanted to stay behind and fight alongside Azell.
His feelings manifested itself on Kairen’s expression. Azell laughed when he saw ii.
“This will be enough.”
From Kairen’s perspective, he had to put the highest priority on rescuing Seigar. Even if this was a cruel request, Kairen had no choice, but to ask it of Azell.
Azell understood where Kairen was coming from. This was why he turned around before Kairen could speak any further.
“This isn’t anything knew for me. You should go save the Prince. It seems Seigar has switched roles with the Princess this time.”
“…do you really think Arrieta would be suitable playing the role of a damsel in distress?”
Kairen asked as he burst out laughing at the ridiculous idea. Azell didn’t turn around as he replied.
“Still, the picture that is conjured up by her in the role is better than the prince. Isn’t that so?”
“I see. Seigar that bastard. When this is all resolved, I’m going to train him mercilessly again.”
After saying those words, Kairen turned away.
Azell gripped and swung the Dragon Sword that had been loaned out to him. It was the first time he had used this sword, but it felt right in his hand. The fact that it was a well made sword contributed to this feeling, but it had more to do with the familiar energy that had been imbued within the sword.
‘Dragon Demon Magic.’
In the past, he had felt this energy every time he used his Dragon Maken. That energy was within this sword.
The Dragon Sword wasn’t something that could replace a Dragon Maken, which was forged from one’s own soul. Still, it was too exquisite to just call it a mere sword.
It could self-regulate the emission of Dragon Demon Magic, and it could transform the User’s magic into Dragon Demon Magic . However, this wasn’t like the Dragon Maken where the the sword and the owner worked in harmony to create power.
Still, the fact that he had the Dragon Sword increased Azell’s options by a lot.
Azell checked through the Dragon Sword’s sense, then he called out in a low voice towards the Thunder Dragon. However, his voice was amplified by magic, so his voice cut through the ruckus being made by the Thunder Dragon. His voice reached its ears.
“My name is Azell Zestringer.”
Azell brought up all the magical energy he had gained through his training, then he made a declaration.
“I challenge you do the Dragon Slayer’s Ritual.”
The Thunder Dragon had been making a lot of noise as it was charging towards Azell. However, it suddenly quieted down as if everything before had been a lie. The Thunder Dragon looked to Azell as if to confirm what it had just heard. Azell slowly raised his Dragon Sword, and he got into his stance.
After a moment, the Dragon broke the stillness by nodding its head. It had accepted the Dragon Slayer’s Ritual.
Every time Azell’s heart beat inside his chest the Rings of Life vibrated roughly as they emitted magical energy. There were five Rings of Life encompassing Azell’s heart. Every single one of them had gone through the Dual Banding process.
However, if one asked Azell if this was enough, Azell would had shook his head from side to side. The amount of magic, his physical constitution, and his condition wasn’t at a state where he could say it satisfied the necessary and sufficient condition for this battle.
‘However, it has always been like this.’
A live battle wasn’t a bout. It had been the norm for Azell to step onto the battlefield when his body was in no condition to fight. He stepped forward to fight his enemies despite the circumstances.
‘Yes. It has always….’
Whether it was the past or now, it was all the same. After he awoke from his deep sleep, he had been chased, and he had fought in his lessened state. Yet wasn’t he still here?
“Thunder Dragon. This was intentional, but it seems we are fighting on pretty equal grounds. You and I are both injured….”
Azell quickly assessed the Thunder Dragon’s condition.
Azell wasn’t in perfect condition, but this was also true for the Thunder Dragon. Of course, it had fought a battle with the Frost Dragon until recently. It’s injuries had been recovered by its incredible regeneration ability, but one could do nothing about the accumulated fatigue and the already consumed magical energy.
“I stand before you, because I also don’t have much of a choice available to me.”
However, there was no pity in the Dragon’s eyes. It just planned to treat this as a kill or be killed battle whether it was fair or not.
The Thunder Dragon answered Azell’s words with its action.
The Thunder Dragons were fastest in terms of attack amongst the Dragons.
Each type of Dragons handled different type of Element. Lightning was faster than every other Elements. When the thunderclap rang out, the target would have already been fried by the lightning.
In this Thunder Dragon’s lifetime, it had never met its match except other Dragons. No matter how strong the being was, it couldn’t stand up to the lightning that was emitted by its horn. It used the lightning to immediately close the distance and burn the enemy.
“…Yes. I am very well acquainted with it. I would dare to say that I understand your plight better than any other human.”
However… Azell was different from any other beings it faced before.
The Thunder Dragon was taken aback. It was sure its lightning strike had hit Azell straight on, yet it hadn’t even ruffled his hair.
It was a defensive technique Azell had already used against Niberis and Laura. It was the Insulation technique. The fact that the Thunder Dragon would use lightning attacks was too predictable. He could easily defend against it.
Azell took advantage of the flustered Thunder Dragon. He charged forward. The more distance there was between them, the advantage was on the Thunder Dragon’s side. He had to get to a distance where his sword could touch it.
Ggwah-roo-roohng! Ggwah-gwahng! Ggwah-gwah-gwah-gwahng!
The surprised Thunder Dragon let out a chain of lightning strikes. It didn’t care if its body was hit by the lightning. The Thunder Dragon started emitting a storm of lightning.
The Thunder Dragon controlled the lightning. It didn’t take any damage from the lightning that was emitted from the Thunder Dragon’s body.
Its inner constitution was even resistant against lightning created by an enemy.
‘Its preparation is faster than expected! This Dragon has some prior experience in fighting.’
The previous Earth Dragon he had fought had been a young Dragon. When its first attack was neutralized, it had been taken aback. Azell had used this opening to take down the Earth Dragon. However, the Thunder Dragon continued to attack and defend even when it ran into something it didn’t understand.
The Thunder Dragon’s horn was burning with a blue flame, and it was shooting out lightning towards every direction. The ground was scorched, and the lightning discharged into the air. The Thunder Dragon controlled the diffuse electricity to make a Lightning Barrier, which burned everything it touched.
Azell was attempting to get closer to it, but he was being pushed outside by the influence of the barrier.
He had formed Insulation using his magical energy, but it wouldn’t last much longer. If the lighting continued to encompass the whole area then there was no way he would be able to counteract it using the Insulation technique.
When Azell was pushed farther away, the Thunder Dragon immediately carpet-bombed Azell with lightning. Azell used Instantaneous Movement technique to cause confusion as to where he really was, and he approached the Thunder Dragon from its blindspot.
He repeated this process several times. From Azell’s perspective, he was lacking in power and speed. If he was just a little bit more faster and stronger, he would be able to time his attack. However, the Thunder Dragon was barely able to push him out using the barrier attack.
This was already his 6th attempt. He had been rebuffed at every try, and the Thunder Dragon continued to let out its lightning toward Azell. If one turned back the time, one would have seen the exact process be repeated multiple times. It almost created an illusion of a loop.
At that point, Azell had two choices. He could accelerate using Instantaneous Movement to escape to the side, or he could charge again after letting the lightning flow through him using Insulation.
‘This won’t do!’
Every time he was rebuffed, a huge portion of his stamina and concentration was used up. This pattern kept repeating itself, and both sides were waiting for each other to make a mistake. Since the Dragon had an enormous surplus of energy, the Dragon’s victory was almost guaranteed if this continued.
When he came to that assessment, Azell decided to use a new method.
Azell stood in place as he received the bombardment of lightning. Up to this point, the Thunder Dragon had been spreading out its continuous attacks, so the Thunder Dragon flinched when Azell stopped moving.
‘Those Who Eat Lightning!’
This was a much more difficult technique than the Insulation technique. One was able to use this technique only if one was sure the enemy would use a lightning strike. This technique used the Insulation technique to divert the lightning, and it allowed a portion of the lightning to be absorbed back as one’s energy.
The absorbed lightning was sent along the vibration of the Rings of Life, and the lightning was changed into a power with different property. Azell had accomplished this in an instant, but it was one of the most difficult high rank Spirit Order technique. If a high Rank Spirit Order practitioner saw it, it would leave him flabbergasted.
Azell endured the assault as he refused to budge. The lightning were conducted from the top to the bottom as it grounded into the floor. Afterwards, Azell’s eyes flashed as he swung his sword.
‘Earth Dragon’s Charge!’
The ground shook, and the shockwave pushed through the surface of the ground. It was akin to a shark surfacing from beneath the sea at high speeds!
When it collided with the Barrier of Lightning put up by the Thunder Dragon, the entire earth was flipped over. The power that exploded from within the earth flipped over the ground that the Thunder Dragon was standing on.
It was a really surprising turn of event. One usually attacked by causing an explosion that disturbed the surface of the ground. However, Azell had turned over a localized region of earth. This was only possible if one was able to meld overwhelming strength, and an almost miraculous amount of control over one’s senses.
The Thunder Dragon was taken aback by the unexpected attack. It had lived a long life as a Thunder Dragon, but it would have never expected such an attack was feasible. The Thunder Dragon was imposing in its size and weight. Moreover, it stood on four feet. A Dragon had a better sense of balance than a human, yet it was being flipped over on its back.
At that moment, Azell lamented deeply about his own shortcomings.
It had been the perfect opportunity. While the Thunder Dragon was in a state of panic, he should have immediately rushed in to deal the critical blow. However….
The lightning that was channeling through him was still discharging. The lightning gave Azell an electrifying pain, and it was escaping the control of his body as the power of the lightning was on a rampage.
“I… underestimated it……!”
He had his past self in mind when he tried this brash move. Currently, he couldn’t absorb the entirety of the Thunder Dragon’s strike. In the end, the power that couldn’t be absorbed and transformed was running amok inside his body. This was why he had missed the golden opportunity to attack. He had no choice, but to look at the opportunity pass by with his eyes wide open.
Azell gathered the unruly lightnings into a single location, and he discharged it towards the sky.
“Huhk, huh-uhk, huhk…….”
He tried to gather his breath while on one knee. He had done something dumb. Wouldn’t this unnecessarily deplete his reserve of power?
However, a fight was always like this. A single moment of mistake could end with the loss of one’s life. He had accepted the risk, and he had gambled. The reward from the success was large, but at the same time, failure brought an equally large backlash.
In front of him, the Thunder Dragon was barely able to struggle to its feet. It’s body was surrounded by blue lightning, and a fiendish silhouette was starting to rise out of its body.