IS, V1, Chapter 3: The First Battle

Perhaps because of destiny or fate, important events in my lives typically happen in sevens and threes. I probably knew the reason once upon a time, but now it’s just a gut feeling. On my third birthday I showed Rae one of my more pleasant memories, it seemed to cheer her up quite a bit.

I spent most of my time waiting, while training and simply enjoying my cave dwelling days. The beautiful mermaid sisters would use an archaic form of telepathy to argue with me about seafood, but it was still fun. Below the river was an enormous and incredibly deep lake, but the other merfolk were too timid to come up and chat.

Peaceful is usually nice, but it does get repetitive and boring after a while. On my seventh birthday, I wasn’t surprised when the earth began to violently quake. Rae was as entertaining as always, mumbling to herself and holding in her tears while trying not to fall down. Such a cute kid, but I suppose that might have been a normal reaction if the ceiling was falling down around you.

The moment I began to hear screams deep within the caverns, I knew something interesting was going on. She wanted to leave the cave, but it was still the middle of the day… I didn’t want to remind her about being a blood elf and make her depressed again.

About five miles down relatively small tunnels, we finally reached the end. Rae was freaking out because of the extreme height, but I was pretty enthused. My understanding of the world was very vague, since my only sources of information were cave dwelling mermaids and a wood elf who never left her corner of the forest. However, it seemed interesting that three very different races of humanoids would gather together in one city.

Since I had no idea what their social structure was like, it was difficult to guess the reason for their conflict. If it was a disease or curse, that would be troublesome… but eventually I could probably have figured something out. If it was related to religion or politics, then it probably would have been happening much more often. The earthquake seemed to have been the trigger, but why would an earthquake start a race war?

After hugging Rae, which she didn’t seem to notice, I jumped off the cliff. Using wind magic I was able to comfortably glide down toward the center of town. I yelled back to Rae “Wait there, I’ll be back soon!” in a concerned voice, but I’m not sure if she heard me. Regardless of her magical combat potential, it was far too dangerous for her mental health to be in a war-zone.

I love flying, there’s just something so freeing and enjoyable about traveling through the air with your own power. Planes are too cramped and to be completely honest, if I can’t fly then I usually hate heights. Falling to your death is a pretty bad way to go… especially if you wind up paralyzed for 20 years first.

From above, the city seemed to be built in the shape of a triangle, with 4 smaller triangles inside of it. The entire city was illuminated by huge glowing orbs that floated up from seemingly bottomless trenches that separated the city from the cavern walls. Once they reached the ceiling, the orbs would pop like bubbles and emit a bright flash, then disappear. Only the center of the northern edge of the city was connected to the cavern wall.

Compared to how huge it all was, the population actually seemed pretty low and the inhabitants were all much smaller than me. At the time I was the same height as Raelin, only 150cm. I was very happy that I wasn’t born a goblin, dwarf or rat tribe.

It took about an hour to slowly glide down to the center of the city and land on the roof of the largest building. It’s outer appearance was that of a triangular pyramid, and it was gigantic. It was large enough to almost completely separate the other three sections of the city.

Since there were huge statues built all around the city, it was pretty easy to guess which side belonged to what race. The southern part was Rat Tribe territory, there seemed to be a large amount of goblins invading it from the northeast. Hordes of Rat Tribe were either fleeing or invading into the northwest, Dark Dwarven district.

No one seemed to be leaving the northwestern corner, so I assumed that they were playing defense. My view from the tip of the pyramid was great, but I needed to get closer to the ground to scan the battlefields more closely. Luckily, everyone seemed to be too distracted with what was happening on the ground to notice me floating around in the sky.

As far as a chaotic round robin style race war goes, it really wasn’t that bad. They weren’t breaking either of my rules, which probably meant that they couldn’t interbreed or just didn’t find the other races attractive. It was also possible that there was some sort of chivalry or honor in their actions.

There didn’t seem to be any children in the battle and the women were equally matching the men in combat. I hadn’t seen much of the world, but any place where rape and slavery wasn’t prevalent was a good one. It was an entertaining show, but I couldn’t find any halfway decent warriors among the tens of thousands of people fighting.

I couldn’t even find one mage or healer within the whole city, which seemed strange to me. Dark dwarves are a mixed race between regular dwarves and dark elves. They look like grey or black skinned dwarves with slightly less masculine features and elven ears.

Red Goblins were also known as Imps, but after many generations of breeding with goblins, their current form lacked wings, hooves, horns or the naturally large mana pool. They were basically just clever and intelligent goblins with red skin.

Rat tribe didn’t have a very high aptitude for magic, but it wasn’t like it was impossible for them to learn it. There were three armies full of novice warriors and archers, it was very strange. That’s when I finally realized, they didn’t even want to fight each other.

Many of them actually broke down in tears after killing an enemy, I witnessed several committing suicide as well. Someone was breaking my first rule and they needed to be punished. Stripping someone of their freedom is essentially slavery, a crime I take very seriously.

At the northernmost part of the city was an enormous gate that was smashed opened. There was a huge clearing filled with nearly a hundred thousand eviscerated corpses. Standing at least 15 meters tall, and 100 meters from head to tail, was an earth dragon.

It basically looked like a regular brown dragon, without the wings and with a lot more horns all over its body. The bastard was laughing as he watched the tiny little humanoids fighting and killing each other. It was hard to tell, but it almost looked like there was a grin on that gigantic lizard-like mouth.

I’m not a hero, or some self-righteous saint with a savior complex, but what’s the point in having power if you don’t actually do anything with it? Typically dragons were considered the top of the food chain and practically godlike beings. However, the truth was that dragon is just a term used to describe magical reptiles of various shapes, sizes and power.

Regardless of how powerful a creature or person is, if it’s alive then it can die. If it breathes, then it can suffocate. If it has blood, then it needs blood. My usual tactics involve quickly and efficiently using either wind or water magic to cause brain death, one way or the other.

Unfortunately, on something so gigantic the amount of mana it would take to cut off blood circulation would be immense. Even before that, I would have had to bypass the natural mana shield its scales created. Then I would have had to penetrate through the dragon’s mana pool using my own condensed mana like a giant pair of magical forceps.

With my physical strength and mana capacity at the time, there was no way that would even be remotely possible. The alternative method was one that could only be used on such a large enemy. There are actually five very obvious weak points on every dragon, not counting the eyes. Most cloacae are armored so they aren’t a viable entry point either.

Depending on the type of dragon, the mouth and nose could be the best point of entry, or the most dangerous. Even though the one I was looking down towards was an earth dragon that can’t breathe fire, it literally eats rocks and the internal structure of it’s nostrils are capable of protecting its lungs from inhaling toxic fumes… and rocks.

Basically, my target was the 170 cm in diameter hole in the left side of its head, also known as an ear. The danger in approaching an ear is obvious to anyone who’s ever swatted a fly that was hovering next to their head. Fortunately, the earth dragon was distracted and enjoying his play, so by the time it even heard the wind that was propelling me, I was already smacking against its ear drum.

Thankfully, dragons don’t have ear wax… but its still really gross to crash face first into a tympanic membrane. The dragon immediately started jerking its head around and roaring loudly, which resonated within the ear canal. Then it roared “You dare defy me!? I will obliterate your pathetic city and devour your children!” in an extremely deep and loud voice.

I was running out of time and taking a lot of damage while bouncing around uncontrollably. When he finally gave up removing me from his head, I began to dig. As neat as creating an abrasive water jet with magic and cutting my way into his brain sounds, I didn’t have the materials required to do that. Plus it would have been completely disgusting and I probably would have drowned in his blood while running out of mana first.

Electricity is the key to unlock any creature with a nervous system, even an overpowered earth dragon. Using the nerve endings within its ear drum I had a direct link to its brain, that was the beginning of our duel.

————————————————————————————————

In a barren wasteland with nothing but dried and cracked dirt until the horizon in every direction, two giant monsters were staring each other down. One was a huge earth dragon named Culdreth, which I only knew because he kept referring to himself in the third person. The other was a fearsome and vicious looking black dragon, who didn’t have a name.

The black dragon began by flapping its gigantic wings while casting wind magic to lift himself off the ground and began hovering. Culdreth had no idea where he was or how he got there, but his instincts told him that the black dragon was an enemy. He charged towards the generic black dragon and leaped into the air, latching onto it and biting into its neck.

They fell to the ground as Culdreth easily chewed through the black dragon’s thick scales, into its muscles and arteries. Hundreds of gallons of dark red liquid sprayed all over them and Culdreth gloated of his victory with a resounding roar. Suddenly a massive fireball exploded into his left side, and there was intense pain all throughout his gut.

When he turned to see who attacked him, there was a huge red dragon preparing to fire another round. Culdreth charged with all of his strength, while evading the incoming fireballs. When he finally rammed the red dragon, his horns pierced straight through its chest. After lifting it up into the air and bucking his entire body so that as much internal damage was done as possible, he threw it down onto the ground.

He yelled “The mighty Culdreth will never fall to such weak opponents! It doesn’t matter how many of you there are! Culdreth is invincible!” in an annoying roar, while trampling over the red dragons corpse.

However, when he turned around Culdreth immediately regretted his previous statement. In front of him were five small green dragons, that were snarling and roaring at him. They had no wings, but fought like a pack of wolves. With one bite he was able to crush one of them to death, but they were far too agile for such an obvious attack to work.

With their sharp beaks then tore into his ankles while spreading out and dodging all of his attacks. With every bite he would roar in pain and anger, then thrash about in an uncontrollable rage. Eventually he managed to stomp on one of them with his left, front lizard foot.

He sweeped his huge, spiky tail like a whip and managed to catch three others off guard. They were impaled and then flung hundreds of meters away. Finally, he chomped down onto the last one and literally crushed it in half.

With his victory against the third wave of unimpressive enemies, he was actually looking forward to a greater challenge. Then he felt something cold on his back, when he turned around he noticed a huge icicle sticking out of his right side, near his hind leg.

It didn’t even hurt, just felt cold and he knew that he was already dying. The frost was spreading within his body and he felt his innards freezing over. He didn’t actually know anything about dragon biology, so the exact organs that were failing were completely unknown to him.

Culdreth roared in defiance and began to charge towards the lone blue dragon, but before he could reach it, his legs were frozen in place. He roared and wailed in anger while trying to wiggle free of his frozen shackles, but it was already over.

The blue dragon slowly walked closer and with its extremely long neck, was able to look down upon him and say “There are rules that must never be broken. I’m just the judge and executioner, your true punishment is left to someone much more qualified.” in a deep roaring voice.

Before Culdreth could respond, the blue dragon breathed out a huge blizzard that flash froze his entire body. It was cold, but he was still alive, unable to even breathe while completely encased in a gigantic ice crystal. He struggled for a while, but eventually gave in and accepted his demise.

———————————————————————————————————-

Luckily he never figured out what was really happening, or I would have been completely screwed. Such a simple misdirection, yet he got completely absorbed into it without even trying to wake up. Well, it all worked out for the best so I was satisfied with the lackluster duel between me and his medulla oblongata.

Not surprisingly it takes an exorbitant amount of mana to create enough electrical power to fry a giant dragons autonomic nervous system. He struggled quite a bit, but slowly his organs shut down one by one until not even his heart and lungs worked anymore. Which eventually led to brain death and my victory.

Unfortunately, I underestimated the damage I would take from channeling so much lightning magic through my body. My hands were actually charred to the bone, if it wasn’t a world with magic they would probably have been a lost cause. Up and down my arms were burst veins and capillaries that spread out to form the distinctive markings of a lightning strike victim.

If I could have tilted my head down or look in a mirror, I’m sure there would have been all kinds of bruises and burns along my chest and down my back. However, I was stuck holding my arms up towards the ear canal ceiling while laying on the floor. It was much more spacious within that little room than the small opening I flew into would have implied.

After laughing at myself for how lame that executioner line was, I lost consciousness while struggling to breathe. My body was pretty sturdy and wouldn’t break that easily, but it definitely wasn’t a pleasant experience. The dreams I had were of Karma’s lightning hell, which is pretty self explanatory.

Seven years of training and I nearly died using a simple telepathy trick, combined with a bit of lightning magic. Well, sometimes your first real battle in life is against an overly excited puppy, that time it was a giant earth dragon.

I could feel droplets of warm water crashing against my left cheek and there was a familiar whimpering sound, echoing throughout the room. Rae would often cry like that when she was sleeping, or on her wedding anniversary, her twin daughters birthday, or the anniversary of her death, but she never cried for me before. When I opened my eyes, my arms were laying by my sides but completely numb.

Rae’s blood red tears were still pouring onto my face and I couldn’t move my arms to wipe them off. When I tried to speak, my mouth wouldn’t open and I couldn’t even muster the strength to grunt. I was paralyzed, my lungs were working on their own but I felt nothing below my neck.

Thank God for healing magic, otherwise that would have been the end to my very short adventure. I would have had to play Russian Roulette with a revolver loaded full of shitty realities and random bodies. Plus, I was really starting to enjoy that world… and Rae needed me to live.

There are many types of healing magic and each has its own pros and cons. Regeneration is the easiest and simplest, but also the slowest and it causes accelerated aging. If you’re an elf, then you usually don’t have to worry about that though.

Recovery is a little more difficult but still relatively simple, and there are no side effects. You’re basically just replacing missing tissue, blood, bone or whatever is needed with mana and the effect is immediate. The only problem is the high mana cost, but with enough training it can become more efficient.

Other types include Anti-curse, Antidote, Protection, Remedy, and Relief. All seven of which I tirelessly taught to Rae for a situation just like this one. Unfortunately, she wasn’t healing me because she thought I was dead.

After a few agonizing minutes of her dripping blood, tears and mucus all over my face, she finally noticed that I was awake. She yelled “Michael! Oh no! What do I do?! Please don’t die! Don’t worry I’m going to make you all better!” in a panicked voice, while trying to regain her senses.

In that world, healing magic was a lot more difficult than it seemed. You essentially had to inject your own mana into their bodies and then perform surgery, boost the immune system, accelerate natural regeneration, and graft new skin, muscle, bone or organ tissue with extreme precision.

Normally, on a person with a small mana pool or one that was full, healing was simple and easy. That was the main weakness of a mage or other magic user, they were usually nearly impossible to heal. Trying to bypass an empty mana pool was like attempting to swim through a tornado, that was on fire.

The moment she touched my skin, Rae’s mana pool was completely drained within seconds and mine was only 5% full. I never really had the chance to explain why using healing magic inside of a dragons ear canal would reduce effectiveness by half. It wasn’t something that happened very often, but if you were inside of a large creature, living or dead, it’s own mana pool which you were also inside of, would cause all kinds of unpredictable interference.

She was confused and started crying again, but that small bit of mana was plenty for a simple telepathic message. I said “Rae… don’t worry about healing me right now, we just need to get out of here while we still have the chance. There should probably be plenty of abandoned houses throughout the city. Even with the state my body is in, don’t forget to keep drinking my blood every day. Ah, I’m going to pass out now… sorry…” as fast as I could before abruptly losing consciousness.

There was no instant gratification like experience, titles, or epic loot from killing that dragon. I didn’t gain any levels, raise my stats, or even make a few gold. My only motive was a personal sense of justice… and I was pretty sure dragon meat would be delicious. Unfortunately, I didn’t even get one slice of lizard sashimi during my slow and painful recovery and rehabilitation.

In less than a week, the earth dragon had been completely dismantled and scavenged. Not even the bones were left, and fortunately or not, no one even knew why it just suddenly slumped over and died. They treated it like a natural disaster and the survivors managed to move on with their lives pretty quickly.

Depending on the ambient mana in the air and residual mana in the food you eat, your pool can be refilled pretty quickly. Since I was losing a pint of blood and a massive amount of mana each day to feed Rae, it took much longer than I would have preferred. I was bedridden in a small hovel while she nursed me back to health.

As soon as I regained consciousness, I used what was left of the mana she gave me to heal myself to the point where I could speak and eat properly. There were cabinets filled with preserved and jarred food, none of which were very appealing. Surprisingly the house actually had plumbing, so there was plenty of water… not sure how clean it was but at least I didn’t dehydrate.

At first we thought it was abandoned, but later that week a 125 cm tall, adolescent male red goblin entered through the window. He was clad in ragged black clothing with a mask covering his mouth and carrying a large bag of mushrooms. After nervously giving the bag to Rae, he left without even saying a word.

It was certainly strange and she was worried they might be poisonous, but I convinced her to cook them with fire magic for me. As I suspected, even unseasoned mushrooms were very tasty.

The next day, the goblin came again, but this time with fresh fish from… somewhere. Before he could leave I asked him his name and he hesitated for a few seconds but finally said “Ethir.” in a quiet voice. He left before I could introduce myself and Rae, but I had a feeling he would be back.

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