Putting the greataxe away, Joshua watched the corpse of the fallen dragon, and was silent for a moment. Then he turned on his heel and soared upwards.
Back on the second layer of the dragon lair, he slashed his sword through the air, a flurry of wind as sharp as blades eviscerating the throat of the other dragon he'd cut down earlier. Its leg severed, near-death from grievous loss of blood, this latest attack upon it caused even more blue blood to come splurting out from beneath its scales. The excruciating pain jolted the dragon back to consciousness for just a moment, but after a few brief seconds, it slipped back into eternal slumber, never to awaken.
Now, all of the northern dragons in the lair at White Dragon Peak had been exterminated by Joshua. Including the ones that the warrior had killed outside the lair, he had slain a total of thirteen mature dragons.
As for dragonlings and ancient dragons, he hadn't encountered a single one.
Generally speaking, where dragon lairs were concerned, thirteen dragons should be a substantial amountbut for the dragon lairs of this time period, it was scant little.
"Brought back to Dragon Island, eh"
Standing before the bodies of the dragons he'd slain, recalling the words of the spellcasting dragon, Joshua seemed to have something on his mind. "In that case, the situation's not that urgentthere's still some time before the Dragon Calamity begins."
There was reason for him to think so.
Before the Dragon Calamity began, a civil war would first break out between the Pentashade Dragons and the Metallic Dragons on Dragon Island. In his previous life, this had been fact, and in this life there was no way it could be any different.
The Million Steel Dragon and the Five-Headed Dragon had never seen eye-to-eye. One advocated peaceful progress and a nurturing outlook, avoiding involvement in the wars of the continent andif the chance aroseto once again pursue space travel, venturing to new worlds untouched by civilization, with no need to squabble with mankind.
Meanwhile, the other one had always been plotting in the shadows, scheming to undermine the position of every other race on the Mycroft continent, so that all dragonkind could reclaim the glory they had known during the early days of the world.
Using the draconic beasts to start a calamity also doubled as pitting the natural might of the Mycroft continent against its own native racesif the plan had succeeded, both mankind and draconic beasts would be greatly reduced in number. Doubtlessly, the Five-Headed Dragon would then be hailed as the one who had restored dragonkind to their rightful place in the worldthat might even grant a decisive advantage over the Million Steel Dragon, allowing the rise of a sole god over astral dragonkind.
However, the Million Steel Dragon had always maintained close relations with mankind and their various gods. It clearly understood that no matter how much the humans declined, as long as the Church of the Seven Gods across the Distant Sea did not fall, then there would always be the possibility that the Seven Gods of mankind might return to the vestiges left upon the Sacred Mountain. If they should manifest in physical form upon the Material Planean advent of the true Seven Godsnot even all of dragonkind combined could withstand such power.
The Five-Headed Dragon God was well aware of this, and as such it instead amassed power far in the south, in preparation to launch a sudden assault upon the Sacred Mountainthis too was how it had played out, in Joshua's previous life.
The elite of the Pentashade Dragons had been assembled to subjugate the Holy Mountain of the Distant Sea, yet the attempt had been unsuccessful, and even the god of the Pentashade Dragons had been overwhelmed by the Seven Gods. It was cast down beyond the Infinite Horizon, forced by the true aspect of the saints to descend to the mortal worldyet this too became the prelude to the Dragon Calamity, and for reasons unknown, the Seven Gods did not join the battle, instead allowing the Calamity to ravage the various nations.
Back then, Joshua had been unable to comprehend this decisionbut then again, the person he had been at that time wasn't the sort to spare much attention for such details of a setting, as long as there were enough enemies to let him have his fill of combat. However, thinking back on it now, Joshua wondered if it had been in order to hold back even more terrible things lurking in the void.
For example, the ones that the Steel Python had mentioned: Pestilence, Famine, and one more as-yet unnamed Chaos Daemon.
Just as Joshua was thinking about the future, Ying and Ling reverted from their Divine Armament forms and took up position at either side of him, while Black arrived from nearby, looking very pleased by his surroundingswhether it was the smell of the blood of astral dragons, or the brisk chill which off-set the heat of its body, it seemed to be in good cheer.
"Is it over now, Master?" Surveying the scene with wide viridian-green eyes, taking in the fallen dragons, Ying said with some regret, "It seemed to have ended a bit too quickly. We're supposed to be slaying dragonsour exploits could become legend some day to have killed them all so suddenly, how is a wandering minstrel supposed to make a story out of this?"
"That's right." Ling nodded in agreement, appearing similarly unsated. The youthful Divine Armament breathed a sigh. "It's a pity these dragons aren't creatures of Chao
if that had been the case, it would be another fat bundle of power in the bank."
He appeared to be engrossed with calculation.
Hearing this exchange between his weapons, Joshua was reminded of something.
Ling was right: this was the lair of Pentashade Dragonsit stood to reason that there ought to be some traces of Chaos.
Closing both eyes, the warrior calmed his thoughts. A dense wave of Orderly willpower burst out and swept over the surroundings, looking for a presence it might react with.
Not a moment later, Joshua opened his eyes once more.
Saying thus, he promptly headed towards a cave mouth not far awaythe thing he had detected was located in the third layer of the dragon lair.
Right next to the hatchery.
They arrived at the third layer, and after a short walk down the corridor running alongside the dragon-egg hatchery, Joshua had no trouble finding an enormous cavern. Going in for a look, he found several odd implements, a massive work-table, and various strange and curious research apparatus. It appeared to be a draconic magic workshop.
The source of the reaction was coming from atop that humongous work-table.
The work-table was about twelve meters tallJoshua had to fly up to get a look at what was on top. At the far corner of the table, he caught sight of a bottle containing some sort of black material.
It was a mass of dense fluid, and he couldn't be sure whether it was more gas or liquid. It was suspended in a tiny bottle of blue crystal, bound with runes and magical wardsof course, by that he meant what a dragon might consider a tiny bottlebut to Joshua, the bottle was basically his equal in size.
Joshua could clearly detect that within this bottle there was a very heavy presence, reminiscent of Chaosthinking back to the Daemon hordes of the Corrupted Black Dragon, and comparing it with the haze of Chaos which had brought about the Dark Tide, this presence now was even darker than that.
His brow slightly furrowed, Joshua approached the bottle. Examining it closely, he had a feeling that when the dragons brought about the Dragon Calamity, this was the essence which enabled them to influence the instincts of the more primitive draconic beasts.
"Goodness, the way these dragons do things is completely different from mankind," he muttered to himself. After a long look, the warrior had to admit that he had completely no idea what the runes inscribed upon the bottle meant, or what they did.
Dragons used runes to scribe magic spells, but it was a completely different concept from the way humans did it when it came to magic spells used by humans, although Joshua couldn't make use of them himself, he could at least interpret their function but now he could only shake his head. "No choice but to wait for Nostradamuslet a Supreme-tier mage like him have a guess at what this thing is. With this object as physical evidence, the emperor will surely believe what I have to say there's no way he can refute me, with the truth in plain sight hereit's only that everyone clings to their comfortable beliefs, afraid to burst that bubble."
Suddenly, originating from beneath the lair, there came a monumental seismic shock.
Joshua felt this tremor, and looked up at the ceiling: the cracks in the ice were rapidly growing, chips and chunks of it falling out, and the air was already clouded up with too much snow-dust to see through.
"Look up." Ying pointed, her delicate white wrist turning as she caught some snow in her hand. She whispered, "It's about to collapse."
"Yes, it is." Ling shook his head, flinging away the snowflakes scattered through his hair, and then added, "This dragon lair is so fragilehow easily it crumbles."
Nearby, Black gave an excited whinny.
Not a one of them appeared to be in any distress. It went without saying that their master Joshua was a Perfect Gold-Tier warrior; as for themselves, each of them was at the Silver Tier of power, and possessed special abilitieseven if the entire dragon lair collapsed on top of their heads, it'd only mean that they'd have to spend some time digging themselves out of the snow.
Ignoring the idle conversation between his weapons and his mount, Joshua had just come to a realization: Never mind if the lair collapsed; but what about those dragon eggs, and this bottle the size of a manhow was he going to get them out of here?
The warrior pondered for a bit, then turned to look at the siblings Ying and Ling, nodding thoughtfully.
He'd come up with an idea.
And a shiver passed through both Divine Armaments.