Chapter 174 - Quarrel
“I wanna go!” Bord whines as he stares at the massive mountain, impatience written all over his face. “Stop touching that water already, let's punch dragons!”
“Nearly done,” Angeta replies gruffly. The beastkin is still hunched over the side of the boat, her hands trailing the water. The vessel is moored just off the coast, and its occupants are taking it easy. Everyone except for Bord and Angeta have pulled out some form of chair and are chatting while relaxing. The control panel next to the ship’s wheel is glowing against the harsh sunlight, the stealth field indicator lit up.
“No, that one is definitely hiding its allegiance,” says Selis.
“The yellow one? That’s Fin-Keeta. She’s crazy,” replies Re-Haan.
“Which one ate your tail again?” asks Ragni.
“The blue one that keeps getting beat up by both sides,” replies Angeta. “And I’m done. Can you mark them, Re?”
“Hmm, sure. I’m busy, so I won’t join unless it's needed.” Re-Haan opens her eyes and looks at the tumultuous mountain. All the cultivators on the boat sense branches shoot from her sunbathing form, invisible tendrils of qi-formed wood touching about a quarter of the brawling dragons. She then closes her eyes again and continues baking in the sun with all her might.
“Can I go now?” asks Bord, who is literally trembling.
Angeta sighs as she stands up. “Yeah, su-”
“WHEEEEEEEEeeeee!” And Bord flies off, a deep red glow hovering around his skin. The distance between the ship and the massive mountain is closed at high speed as Bord slams feet first into a large blue dragon.
“BORD YOU FAT FUCK! NOT THOSE, BEAT UP THE ONES WITHOUT THE MARK!” Roaring like a tiger, Angeta jumps after him, an intricate and complex weave of plants visible underneath her fluttering clothes. The grass stilts retract as she soars through the air while thin leaves sprout from her torso, guiding her fall.
Re-Haan glances at the developing chaos, shakes her head a single time, and closes her eyes again. Selis and Ragni share a look before they stand up in tandem. A few cubic meters of water rises and crystallises around the blue-haired girl. A frosty flap later, she's heading towards the mountain. Ragni twirls on her toes, unwrapping some of the stone laced cloth covering her. She piles the gem-crusted garments in neat piles on a small table and takes a deep breath.
“Okay then… I’m going to help them fight dragons now… No, that’s not right. I’m going there to help break up a fight between full-grown members of the Flight… Why though? Why am I going to jump between two large groups of fighting dragons?” Ragni takes a deep, deep breath, vaguely salutes towards Re-Haan and jumps. “FIFTY THOUSAND POINTS, HERE I COOOOME!”
The fight between dragons had started days ago. The All-Dragon had continued his campaign of suppressing every single dragon associated with the previous All-Dragon and Re-Haan both. This shadow war filled with fawning supplicants, stubborn old folks, and principled martyrs came to a head a few days earlier when the All-Dragon caught wind of some news.
Dragons had witnessed flying rings, small circular metal items that made their way towards the abandoned part of Flight mountain. Upon closer inspection, all the doors holding members in ‘voluntary seclusion’ were found to have ring-shaped holes in them.
Breaking down the doors proved difficult, the All-Dragon having to wake one of the lesser sleepers - an earth dragon of the previous generation - in order to get the doors open. That’s when they realised that every single one of the suppressed members had grown immensely powerful. They also all had glowing green stones stuck to their head somewhere and a black ring on their finger.
The All-Dragon commanded them to hand these items over and did not suspect that it would lead to a fight. Or rather, a chaotic escape only stopped when one of the neutrals - a reclusive blue who had locked himself in after claiming to feel sick - forced everyone to stop.
This blue was one of the members sent out on a raid weeks ago, and had triumphantly claimed that he’d managed to eat parts of their prey while the rest just got beat up. This dragon is called Han-Oord Fur-Nys, and he had then proceeded to become sick. Trying to hide his shame - dragons never get sick - he locked himself up.
Re-Haan had sent him a ring too, just in case he still was suffering from qi poisoning, along with a bit of explanation. That’s why she had marked him as an edge case. This lacklustre marking had led Bord to wail on the poor guy.
Han-Oord had tried to stop the fighting, his longer qi-exposure giving him an initial edge. This advantage quickly disappeared when he became the common enemy of both factions. This is where the students came in, in the middle of a fight between two factions who were mainly focussing on beating on the guy who jumped between them.
Then Bord crashed into him, smashing the blue dragon into the mountain and burying him in rubble. This was followed by Angeta flying in, who grew out a shitload of fibrous grass, used it to clear the rubble in record time and then dragged the dragon out into the open again.
Angeta forcefully opens the mouth of the thirty meters long dragon, manhandling him like he’s a massive stuffed toy. Bord looks around while cracking his knuckles. Selis gracefully lands, swirls of fog settling around her and Ragni bounces off the floor, her fall broken by stiff cloth.
“GIVE ME MY TAIL BACK! COME ON YOU SHITLIZARD, GIVE IT BACK. HOW DARE YOOOUUUU!” Tears in her eyes, Angeta crawls inside the dragon’s mouth. Plants grow from her hands and invade the lizard’s gizzard. Everyone flinches and looks away as the dragon gurgles, whimpers, and cries out in discomfort.
A full, nearly physically painful minute later, the beastkin cradles a slime covered length of narrow bones. She walks out of the whining dragon’s mouth, wiping her hands and skeletal tail on leaves she seemingly conjures from thin air.
“Already done?” asks Bord with a disappointed sulk in his voice.
“They stopped fighting already… I guess we’re done here. Re-Haan! Whadda ya wanna do?” Selis looks around, the crystal halo of ice tinkling around her head as she shouts towards the hidden boat.
“WHO DARES!” The entire mountain trembles as the mist far up the slope churns. Rocks start tumbling down the barren incline as the trembling intensifies. A single being walks out of the roiling mist, bulging muscles gleaming in the sun as the All-Dragon himself strolls down the slope.
A deep and feminine sigh can be heard somewhere from the sea. Some dragons look at the source of the sound, not seeing anything but empty sea. The overly muscled man is halfway down the mountain, his long strides eating up the distance, when a brown dragon head tens of meters wide emerges from the roiling clouds up the slope.
This dragon is the largest so far, and immediately steals everyones attention as it makes its way down in a rather relaxed manner. The muscular man seems irritated by the stolen spotlight but continues walking. A hidden streak of annoyance on his face, he puffs up his chest and is obviously about to speak.
“KKKRRRROROOOOOOAAAOAAAAARRRRRR” Only to be interrupted by the ear-shattering roar of the dragon behind him. The barely clad muscle man stumbles as he is nearly buried in a small rockslide. His growl is lost in the roar of falling rubble. His frustrated yell ends as he turns into a flash of light, a black dragon emerging from the rising dust seconds later.
“So these are the dissidents?” The massive brown dragon is now fully visible in all its glory. Its shape is the same as the rest, a relatively slender winged version of the European dragon. Its size is what truly sets it apart from the rest. The other dragons cap out at fifty meters, the brown behemoth is easily half a kilometre in length. Its voice is a fitting rumble, the low tones not within a mortals hearing range shaking everyone's chest.
“Yes, Ancestor. The mortals have incited dissension and rebellion. We would surely be cast out were the Maker to return now.” The black dragon’s voice is an unfitting high pitch, its comically squeaky voice even more ridiculous when compared to the thunderous rumble of the Ancestor.
“Let me take care of them then, I long for more slumber. Do not wake me after this.” Having reached the base of the mountain, the dragon starts wafting with yellow power. The stone under its large claws ripples as the wave of mana - visible even to mortal eyes - explodes from its toothed maw.
“YEEESSSSSSS! FIGHT ME!” The undulating wave stops the moment Bord lands on its snout, smashing the house-sized head into the soft ground.
What follows is a truly epic fight. Bord glows a red so deep, it looks near black at times as he tussles with a beast that weighs thousands of tonnes. The entire mountain shakes as sharp changes in gravity toss both boy and dragon back and forth, the dragon’s enraged roars mixing with Bord’s full-throated whoops.
The other dragons and students also continue fighting. The mountain keeps shaking as Selis traps members of the Flight under tonnes of ice. Cracks appear in the mountainside as Ragni snatches and swings massive rocks using her cloth wraps, bringing them up to speed by spinning them before releasing. Angeta does relatively little to add to the chaos, only keeping the marked members of the Flight out of danger.
Selis dodges the swirling gout of flame bursting from one dragon while reflecting a beam of pure white light with a large shard of ice. She doesn’t throw the sharp ice shurikens or large ice splinters she has been practising so much, instead, she's making use of large supercooled globs of water that solidify on impact.
Ragni does very little damage, instead flitting through the chaotic mass of fighting dragons while using the smaller gems embedded in her clothing to grind down sharp claw and teeth to blunt stubs. Enraged roars and fierce breath attacks only hit empty air as she swings around the rocky slopes using long ribbons.
“That’s enough. Angy, please wrap ‘m.”
“Yes! PLAAAANTS!” In response to Re-Haan’s tired voice, Angeta explodes with green power. Then the sea explodes in turn, green stretches of seaweed and slender trunks of unidentifiable plants covering the slope at high speed. The All-Dragon bites at the ice encasing his tail. He barely manages to get free and tries to run, only to be wrapped up by plant and stem.
The other dragons are transformed into wrapped bundles as Angeta sits down with her eyes closed, green light gushing from her form as a comfortable seat of greenery forms under her butt.
Selis sighs in return. “Did you have to ruin the fun already? Look at Bord. He’s having the time of his life! The poor boy can't get his rocks off with anything else besides food and fighting, and he’s already fat enough...”
Re-Haan lands elegantly on the undulating weave of plants, dragon wings extending from her back. She bops Selis on the head, wiping the playful pout from the girls face. “Look at the mountain.”
“Ah… Yeah, good thing you stopped it...” The faint blue wave of qi that Selis sent out at Re-Haan’s admonishment tells her a story of crumbling stone and total chaos inside the tunnels. Re-Haan walks on, smiling gently as she saunters past a rather elderly looking dragon who looks around bewilderedly.
“Hello, uncle. The Dungeons must truly have stopped giving for you to be involved in a fight.”
“Haha, little one. You are full of surprises as always. Again thanks for the gift.” The aged dragon nods at the thin band of metal stretching around a single claw.
“Let’s catch up in a bit,” she replies. Then, she murmurs in a softer tone “and Drew called me crazy for requesting the size change feature. Not everyone thinks of keeping items inside their body while transforming… They all would've lost a digit...”
Bord and the large dragon are still fighting. Or at least, trying to fight. The main mass of greenery avoided the small fighting dragons, speeding towards the large earth dragon. The dragoness in partial human form walks past the bundled up dragons, taking extra care to kick the encapsulated All-Dragon a few time as she passes. “Wrap it up, Bord! The mountain is falling apart!”
“Yes, miss Re-Haan!” he replies. Then Bord moves faster than before and glows brighter as he appears above the large dragon’s head. His flaps jiggle as he plants himself on the large beast's neck, pinning it to the ground. “Can I keep it?”
The earth dragon tries to flap its wings, but the plants have taken advantage of its lag in movement to wrap the dragon in multiple layers of green fibre. Its eyes start glowing yellow as its rage grows.
“Apologies, Ancestor. I had never meant for any of you revered ones to get involved. Please understand.” The growing fury in the large dragon’s eyes falters as he sees the small woman pull a head-sized chunk of greenstone from out of nowhere. She tosses it gently on top of the building-sized head and waits.
Minutes of silence later - the only sound being the furious and muffled shouting of the All-Dragon - the large being seems to wake. A blinding flash of yellow light later, Re-Haan is confronted by a stately elderly man. Empty green wraps fall to the ground as the air rushes towards the space that the dragon used to occupy.
“You are one lucky youngling...” he tells her with a piercing stare. The eyes surrounded by wrinkled skin then turn to gaze upwards. Brown hair and a wild beard streaked by grey give him a noble air, his complexion contrasting with his bright yellow robes.
“How’s that, Ancestor?” asks Re-Haan without taking her eyes off the ancient dragon.
“Unlike that Maker fanatic over there...” Here the old man sends a sneer at the trembling form of the All-Dragon, “...I’m part of the neutral faction. Had he woken another loyalist you would be but a smear of blood on the mountainside. Same for the fat one.” He turns and presents his arm to Re-Haan.
She grabs it, and they start walking up the mountain. Re-Haan covers her mouth in order to stifle her giggles. “Had I met you before foundation, I'm sure you would have been correct. Now, I somehow doubt it...”
“Are you requesting these old bones for a lesson, whelpling?”
“I would never dare to impose on one of your ancient esteem. Lest you break your hip.”
“I see that today's education has gone to absolute shit. Let me tell you, two hundred thousand years ago the younglings would never have dared question their betters!”
The two dragons in human form, one a cultivator twenty-five hundred years old and the other many, many times her age, continue walking up the mountain as they chat animatedly.
“What… They forgot about us, right? Now what do we do with these guys?” asks Selis while poking the All-Dragon.
“Hey you all, transform into humanoid shapes, please. Your dragon forms are impressive and all, but they suck in terms of communication skills.” Angeta walks through the piles of trussed up dragons like a stern teacher. Bord is sitting on the ground, wistfully staring at the climbing elder’s back. Ragni slinks off, firmly telling herself to stop getting involved in absolutely mad schemes like these.
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