Dragon Devouring Chapter 180

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EPISODE.90

* * *

The legion commander of the Titan clan, Briareos, was sealed in Tartarus during the early to mid-period of the Titanomachy, a time when the seeds of war had just begun to blanket the continent. Because of this timing, he was unaware of the divine weapon, Brahamastra. Yet to him, ‘Russell’—who inherited the power of the Dragon Emperor and otherworldly saviors—was an adversary that must be eradicated without fail.

“You filthy creatures never change, even after eons,” Briareos revealed his rage unabashedly, gazing at the figures who stood in front of him as if protecting Russell.

“Attempting tricks despite knowing it’s futile,” he muttered as his massive thighs swelled mightily, and in an instant, with a loud stomp, he leapt forward! There was no motion breaking the sound barrier; after all, aside from creating gales with his hundred arms, Briareos’s movements weren’t particularly swift. However, the sheer physical force generated by his mass was threatening enough.

The ground twisted and erupted as if an earthquake had struck, the land shook violently, and with just one leap, Briareos closed hundreds of meters, bearing down on Russell abruptly. “Kwagwagwa!”

His leaping power alone would be enough to traverse several kilometers in a few strides!

“Cugh!” Russell hastily cancelled his casting and launched himself away, rapidly retreating several kilometers to evade Briareos’s assault.

In that moment, a voice reached him, “[…Focus.]”

The voice of Amelia Merwin.

“[…No, giant. You cannot pass.]”

Quick to complete her spell, wind magic ensnared the giant’s feet and legs! Like twisting several strands of fine thread into a robust rope, the flow of the wind wove together to create whips. A total of seven whips, moving like tendrils, coiled around his ankles and entire body. The last remaining whip, like a noose for a beast, lashed around Briareos’s neck. Not ordinary wind, but chains of the storm forged from the atmosphere’s oxygen and hydrogen.

“This half-bred fairy wench!”

Briareos roared, and in the brief moment he was stalled, two mages did not miss their chance.

“Now… Strike!” Following Amelia’s signal, immense flames erupted from different directions. Meeting with hydrogen and oxygen, the flames brought about a tremendous explosion. Boom––––––!! A grand dispersion of light followed by “Kwagwagwa─” and then, half a breath later, a shockwave carried fierce winds in all directions. A deafening roar made ears ring; grand smokescreens shrouded the area like curtains. While the damage from the explosion itself was not severe, the smoke that completely obscured the vision was infuriating.

“Always so troublesome.”

But the magic entangling his feet was far from over. The dust whipped up by his charge now moved strangely, drawing eerie trajectories as it mixed with mana.

“Blow. A sandstorm that tramples everything!”

Suddenly, a massive sandstorm rose from the ground, immediately covering the smoke. One of the most magnificent mineral transport phenomena in nature!

A sandstorm in the distant desert could reportedly weigh as much as two hundred million tons, but the one conjured by Nicolao was not nearly so powerful. The terrain wasn’t like a desert, which could raise significant amounts of sand. He had thus refined the magic, focusing all the energy into a single point instead of a broad area, and the sandstorm raged with a power that did not fall short, even when compared to one from the desert. “Kwagwagwagwa!”

The crushing weight of the fierce sandstorm bore down on Briareos, and the winds that came with it battered his entire body. “Kwagwagwagwa!”

“Insolent hindrances!”

With a bellowing roar, the sandstorm surged. Inside, a violent force raged, tearing the storm apart, likely the same attack that had blown away Amelia and Russell earlier.

“Enough…,” Nicolao grimaced.

In that moment, an unexpected chill crept in under the sandstorm, turning the ground around the giant into permafrost. The cold that bubbled up from the earth instantly coated one of Briareos’s ankles. As the sandstorm holding him down dissipated, Alan shouted his cue, “Now’s the time!”

“Ha-ha-ha! A great target, so easy to hit!” The boisterous laugh of a dwarf filled the air. In the frozen stillness, as his movements came to a halt at that split second, a flurry of sharp sword energy (劍氣) flew in from all around. An onslaught by master-level aura practitioners. None were trained in flying sword techniques, but they all could project sword energy with simple skills.

“Spat-“.

Thin cuts appeared across Briareos’s skin—one after another. Mere nicks that wouldn’t even let blood seep through, they were that shallow.

“Spirits of the forest-!” “Our friend, grant me the power to bind this foe!”

Hundreds, thousands of kudzu vines that crept beneath the soil shot up at once, beginning to entwine Briareos’s entire body. They were well aware that such efforts could only restrain the giant for mere seconds. But seconds accumulated into tens of seconds, tens of seconds into minutes, and eventually, they would achieve their objective.

They felt their strength and mana rapidly depleting. This was no exception, even for the seventh-circle archmages known as ‘Masters of the Royal Tower’. Having cast numerous grand magic spells, their plentiful mana was bound to run out soon. A powerful sense of depletion gripped them as their circles emptied.

“Kugh─!” Nicolao massaged his temples, grimacing as Amelia and Arelaine were also evidently not in good shape. Amelia’s bunny plush, which she rode on, had long been torn to shreds by the shockwave. She hovered in the air, using flight magic, her face scrunched in displeasure.

“Thhpt….” Arelaine wiped her mouth, a blackish blood staining her sleeves. It was coagulated blood, a result of internal injuries caused by repeated exposure to the shockwaves.

These were the conditions of the so-called strongest among the party, which left little to say about the state of the others.

“Are you okay, Your Lordship…?” Hubert, vomiting the blood, asked Vermillion, who shook his head. His left arm wasn’t just broken, but also grotesquely swollen. “It looks like I’ll be unable to do any left arm strength training for a while… Muscle loss will hit me hard. And given my fractured ribs, I’ll need to avoid chest workouts too…”

Such calmness in this situation. Always consistent in nature. With trembling fingertips, he formed hand signs and squeezed the remaining power from his circle, while Hubert nodded reluctantly. Voices interjected between the two strained individuals.

“How long has… it been?”

It was Alan Page. Uncharacteristically disheveled hair, his shoulders heaving with elevated breathing due to the mix of blood from his nose and mouth soaking his front.

“It’s been about ten minutes, I reckon…”

“At least three more minutes are necessary, it seems.”

It was a moment where the briefest of instants felt eternal. Within that strain, the span of three minutes seemed longer than forever. The real issue was that their coordination was on the brink of collapse. Any slight deviation, and all the efforts thus far would go to waste in an instant─!

“Kugh…!”

“Krahaha! Have I not said so? All this is nothing but futile, you vermin!” Someone’s muffled groan mixed with a brief lapse, and Briareos seized it without hesitation.

He surged forward with a wild roar, the untamed momentum resonating in a cacophony of chilling bone sounds as his hundred arms twisted into massive fists that formed in an instant.

And in that fleeting moment, colossal arms and torso drew back like a bowstring!

This was the Giant Blow ── the same attack that had dispatched Amelia Merwin at the start of the battle.

“Oh, no!”

“Stop─ him!!”

“Knight Russell!”

“Priest─!”

As everyone’s cries of desperation echoed across the communication network, time seemed to slow to a crawl around them.

* * *

─────Tinnitus filled the air.

As if the world had come to a halt, time moved slowly.

And in the midst of this, the giant’s form, bearing down on Russell, appeared before his eyes.

‘My benefactor-!’ I have to stop this. The events aboard the slave ship raced through my mind like the rapid frames of a movie reel. Just as he had saved and protected me then, now I wanted to be the one to protect him.

A single resolve filled Io’s mind, the only thought occupying her head.

‘If only I had the power…’

With all her might, if only she could stop the giant’s blow!

“Forest, please grant me the power…!”

Unaware that time had slowed down, Io clenched her teeth.

Like a desperate struggle, she squeezed every ounce of energy from her body, feeling her life force drying up as if plagued by drought.

However, despite her efforts, it was ludicrously insufficient to stop Briareos’s fist.

A blow that could conjure a raging gale and tear up kilometers of terrain required more than what she could muster.

‘Please… give me strength!’

It was a cry, something akin to a fervent prayer. And there was someone—a being—that responded to this yearning desire.

‘Do you need power?’

‘Ah…’

Recognizing the presence addressing her, Io’s legs gave way.

Like seeing one’s reflection in a mirror, the figure bore an uncanny resemblance to herself. If there was a difference, it was that the person speaking had hair and eyes that were closer to silver than her own.

‘Horns…’

Sprouting from either side of that woman’s head were horns, far larger than Io’s own meager thumb-sized protrusions. In contrast, the stranger’s horns were so grand they could belong to a mountain goat.

As if speaking to Io, the woman opened her mouth.

‘You already possess the power you seek. You simply have not accepted it yet.’

‘…What do you mean?’

‘You’re aware, aren’t you? Of the power you carry within.’

‘Dragon… power.’

Having inherited a richer dragon’s bloodline through generations than even her mother Arelaine, she did possess such power.

‘However, that power…’

It began to awake, albeit slowly, and she now felt like it wasn’t growing any further. And yet, she was told the power was already hers.

‘As I said. You simply have not yet accepted it.’

As if reading Io’s confusion, the woman who looked so much like her giggled softly.

‘The dragon power residing within you is not due to lineage, but a power I left within you. To fully make this power your own, you must accept not only the strength but also the great destiny tied to it.’

‘Destiny…’

Feeling the profound weight and resonance of the word, Io repeated it several times.

‘If you accept this destiny, your life will no longer be the same. You won’t live as an ordinary elf but as an existence that is both elf and dragon. Are you ready to accept this life?’

Io could not know what this life entailed, but with a word as significant as ‘destiny,’ it couldn’t be ordinary. Normally, she would inquire more about this destiny, but even so, Io did not. Lifting her head, she asked something entirely different.

‘That power─.’

‘…?’

‘If I accept it, can I save my benefactor… can I save Russell?’

At Io’s query, the woman smiled softly, and that in itself answered the question.

‘Then…’

With a firm resolution, Io tightened her fist and responded resolutely.

‘I will accept that power.’

Along with the grave destiny it carried. Before her response even had the chance to finish—

‘Very well.’

—The woman radiated a bright silver light.

‘Although it’s a power that has just begun to bloom and would normally be too much, I’ll make an exception and help you this once.’

Tsss…

As the light flowed, the woman’s voice entered Io, and then using Io’s own lips, she spoke.

“Naturally, I too should have served Him.”

.

.

Whoosh!

As the flow of time returned to its course, “Priest─!” An anguished cry pierced the ears. Before the cry could end, “Kwawoowoowoowoow!” came a roar.

Suddenly, a majestic silver dragon appeared, its twin pairs of wings shielding Russell like a fortress.

───────────!!

The Dragon Devouring the Mage

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