Chapter 2

Three thousand soldiers swayed and backed up together as the dust swept up a storm.

“Ughhh!”

Raven didn’t fare much better. The force pushed him back while he tried to cover his face with his robe. His eardrums rang like the high pitch of angry bees.

He looked around, frowning slightly.

The giant tent that was perched a moment ago was nowhere to be seen.

Suddenly, the figure of a man appeared through the dust.

Raven squinted, but he could barely see anything.

“L, l, l, look!!!!”

Someone screamed.

Raven turned his head to see the soldiers look up in astonishment. It was his turn to lift his head. What he saw made his eyes open wide in shock.

An armour of steel reflected the bright sunlight, adorned by a giant creature flapping its wings high in the sky.

Raven’s jaw dropped.

The powerful being, fit to be called the strongest under the skies. It was a ‘dragon’.

“…..!”

Everyone froze in shock, their mouths wide open. The dragon landed on the ground with giant yet elegant flaps of its wings.

The silver armour surrounding its massive body and the three horns resting on the top of its head was evocative of a monarch looking down on all other beings.

Its eyes shined blue and its vertical slits scanned its surroundings.

The gaze of the dragon made the soldiers feel as if their very souls were being judged, and many instinctively stepped backwards.

It was only then that the man, who seemed to be guarded by the dragon, appeared. All eyes shifted to the back of the dragon where he was standing.

This man’s armor was similar to the dragon’s, polished silver reflecting off the light and a helmet adorned with dragon wings. The man spoke, unflinchingly facing the 3000 soldiers.

“I’m Alan Pendragon. Where are thy enemies?”

***

“Keaaahkk!”

The rusty scimitar pierced the waist of a brown goblin.

Raven went forward to retrieve his blade, only to lose grip and fall on his knees.

“Hua. Hua…”

He took in a rough breath while looking around.

The monsters were dominating the fight, devouring the humans everywhere. 

It was chaos.

Raven found himself struggling as he had no strength to lift his arms. He wiped off the blood that flowed down his eyes and hopelessly raised his head.

The horizon was decorated with the blood red glare of the setting sun, while a white moon was peering up on the other side.

But Raven’s focus was not on the natural phenomenon that came every 100 years. Instead, his eyes lay on the dragon with folded wings.

The wings were stained with numerous injuries and tainted with blood. Dozens of spears stuck out from numerous places in its silver armor. The dragon was forced onto the ground. Watching the hopeless situation, Raven snickered despairingly.

“That fucking retard…”

He started laughing.

The dragon was a fuckup, as was Alan Pendragon. Of course, the worse fuckup was Raven himself, who had ignorantly trusted the two.

Cough!

The metallic taste of blood formed in his mouth, but Raven still stood up and proceeded to walk.

Plop… plop…

Raven stepped through a pool of blood that surrounded Alan Pendragon and the dragon. He walked until he reached Alan Pendragon’s backside.

“Oy, let me ask you one thing.”

He didn’t bother with formalities. Who cared if Alan Pendragon was going to be a duke? He could be the damned emperor and it wouldn’t matter.

Alan Pendragon remained silent, looking at his dragon. Raven wanted to get angry, but he couldn’t even muster up the strength to do so. He slumped on the ground and spoke vainly.

“… What happened? Why did the dragon stop attacking? You should know, it’s your contracted creature, isn’t it?”

One hour ago, the dragon was destroying the countless herds of griffons left and right, then just suddenly stopped. It remained still in the air as if it had become a stone statue and allowed giant spears, which were thrown by the ogres, to pierce its body. The rest was history as the monsters pushed with the advantage.

“Damn it, say something. Why don’t…”

Throb. Raven didn’t finish his sentence. A flaming sensation came from his heart. He slowly looked down. A blood-stained spearhead stuck out of his chest where his heart was located.

“Ughhhhh…..”

He lifted his shaking hands to reach for the spearhead when a new round of burning pain was felt, and the spearhead retracted.

“Kuagh!”

Blood sprayed out of his mouth and chest, and Raven fell forward.

“One blow really isn’t enough to end your miserable life, mister reaper Raven Valt.”

Raven lifted his head at the familiar voice. Dressed in his Ogre bone helmet and blood painted armor, Baltai stood there laughing.

“All forces, advance!”

A group of soldiers passed by Baltai’s side and swung their spears at the goblins. These soldiers were not part of the demonic army, but rather the imperial army. Their armors were adorned with the imperial mark of the lion. Raven turned his eyes to Baltai in confusion and pain. When the dragon fell, Baltai had immediately retreated to the rear.

So why was he here in this place, at this time, and with the imperial army?

“What. Are you surprised? About what? That I know your secret, or the current situation? Maybe both? Hehe.”

Baltai cracked up, all the while swinging his halberd in the air playfully.

“Let me tell you something Raven. Everything in the world, it’s already set in stone. There are beings that control everything about the world. People like you and I, we are completely oblivious. We just roll around, not knowing our place.”

Swish!

Something flew into the air accompanying a menacing sound.

Plop.

“…..!”

Raven starred in bewilderment as Alan Pendragon’s head fell straight into a pool of blood.

The commander of the demonic army had just beheaded the heir to one of the five duchies of the empire.

“Surprised again? Do not worry about it. This is something that was supposed to happen too. The ‘beings’ were unhappy with the fact that this man was still alive.”

“You…” 

Cough!

Raven tried to speak, only to hack up blood.

“Wheww. It really must be nice to be undying. You don’t die even when you are stabbed through the heart. Let us see… it should take about 6 or 7 days for the heart to regenerate? It took about four days for an arm, so that’s probably about right, hmm?”

“Kugh…”

Even in the pain Raven raised his head. So Baltai knew his secret. But surely he didn’t know about…

“But don’t you die if your head gets chopped off, hmmm?”

“….!”

“Don’t act so surprised. I knew about your arm so why wouldn’t I know about this? A neck injury took almost over a month before right? Kuhahahaha!”

“Y..you bas..” 

Cough, cough.

Perhaps due to the punctured heart, Raven couldn’t muster enough strength to stand up.

“Kuhahaha! I feigned ignorance all this time. Just for this moment.”

Raven felt the cold touch of steel at the base of his neck. A voice colder than the blade spoke in a low voice.

“I told you, didn’t I? You should always see things through. Damned brat, you underestimated me too much. You think there weren’t others before you who had a brain to think?”

Raven closed his eyes in despair. Baltai’s words were true. He had fallen for the false hope of freedom. At the thought of taking back his family’s honor and proving their innocence. 

Well it didn’t matter anymore. It was all over.

Everything was over.

“Well, since you’ll be on your way soon, why don’t I tell you a little secret?”

Baltai leaned close and spoke softly into the ears of Raven whose head was slouched in despair and futility.

“You know how I told you everything was already set in place? To be honest with you… what happened to your family ten years ago, you being placed under me, and what happened to Alan Pendragon… It’s all connected.”

“What…?”

Raven raised his head with his eyes wide open. His vision was blurred as he was losing too much blood. He saw Baltai raise his halberd into the air.

“Well the dragon was weaker than expected, but everything else went exactly as planned. I will see you in hell you bastard. Kuhahahaha!”

“…..!!”

Raven opened his eyes in shock, but this was short lived, as he felt an electrifying sensation on his neck and saw the world spinning.

“Kuhahaha! Now with this, I am finally a commander of the imperial army. Kuha! Kuhahahahaha…” 

The last image in Raven’s head was the yellowed eyes and the maniacal laughter of Baltai. With that, Raven Valt died.

***

Whooosh!

The sandstorm blew, carrying debris and blood along with it

The wind swept across the battlefield. It blew past the bodies of the humans and monsters, and soon arrived at the giant statue-like body of the dragon and remained.

In the middle of the sandstorm, the dragon’s eyes opened.

It looked to the setting sun and the silver moon, then looked down at the two headless bodies on their knees. The two bodies seemed to face each other. The dragon’s eyes lit up for a moment, and it lifted its head slowly.

[All of the conditions have been fulfilled…]

The dragon’s voice sounded like the screeching of metal. It was the voice of the dead Alan Pendragon.

[The blood of a thousand men, and the blood of a thousand monsters. The blood of a dragon and a human monarch… The day when the sun and the moon meet… Today I fulfil my pledge…]

The thick red blood covering the battlefield rose and soared as if alive, and slowly gathered. It grew, creating a red river that flowed towards the sky in between where the sun and the moon stood. 

Whoosh!

The dragon spread its wings. The light gathered on the three horns of its head. The light headed towards the decapitated head and the body of Alan Pendragon. It also reached Raven’s head, which had its eyes wide open.

In the light, Alan Pendragon’s head and body started to slowly disappear. Along with it, Raven’s eyes started twitching, and his head disappeared as well.

The dragon, seemingly unaware of the situation, only looked towards the disappearing Alan Pendragon.

[Now everything is up to you, flag bearer…]

The moment the sun fell below the horizon, the dragon spoke with a regretful voice, and bent its long neck down.

***

[Hmm?]

[What is wrong?]

[Another one has passed on as well.]

[What do you mean?]

[Another one besides the dragon's flagbearer.]

[…..]

[Well, what do we do?]

[Nothing for us to do really. Sol fulfilled the conditions, and we kept our promise. What happens now is really nothing that we can interfere with. I am sure it will work out.]

[Well… Yes, I am sure all will be fine.]

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