Legend had it that a thousand years ago, there was a continent even further south than the Far South that boasted incredible forests, where elves and zerg originated. Blessed by Father Nature’s damp sea breezes, the land was eternally rich, eternally abundant and eternal immune to most natural calamities.
Still, nothing is truly eternal, and the deity who had once watched over these lands had left this world. Thus, a thousand years ago and in one huge unknown calamity, the land sunk into the endless sea along with the screams of countless residents.
At the end of the Distant Sea, at a corner of the submerged continent.
The summit of a mountain broke through the surface of the sea and appeared under the sun. It had been one of the highest peaks in the continent, piercing through the clouds above in the company of mountain winds, but dragons and birds never once tread upon it.
Still, now that it poked through the sea surface all by its own surface, it became a resting place for the seabirds.
Suddenly, a rush of air surged in from the distance, and the birds scampered, squawking and fleeing their perch.
Far away, a gigantic black silhouette was flapping its wings and streaking through the sea surface in supersonic speeds. Making raging waves along its wake, it finally reached the summit.
It was a dragon that was black in its entirety. Its gaze was the gray color of metallic stones, its scales smooth but sturdy and streamlined so it could minimize air and water resistance.
“Mandagar, the Elders have a message!” The dragon did not hesitate once it reached its destination, unleashing an ear-splitting roar with the bizarre dragon tongue accent rippling through the surroundings with its magic. “Open your doors, don’t pretend you can’t hear me!”
The sound waves agitated the air, pressing down on the seawater over a radius of ten meters.
Naturally, the existence named Mandagar could hear it, and its icy voice appeared from the summit overhead.
“Amory, shut up. I’ve told you beforeif you want the respect of other dragons, learn that silence is golden.”
Though its tone was sarcastic, Mandagar knew that the Elders Amory represented were existences it could not insult. With a mystical tremor, a cavern opened by the summit, and a deep passage appeared before the black dragon.
“Come in,” the cold voice called. “But consider this your final warningraise your voice and nobody will stop you from being strapped on my experiment table.”
Clearly, Amory was wary around Mandagar. It simply stayed quiet and entered the cavern after the threat.
After the black dragon entered, the mouth of the cavern slowly closed again, and the scattered seagulls returned to their perch. Even their eyes were different from that of other seagullsthese had a bizarre dark red glow underneath the white of their eyes.
Amory flew deep within the mountain while sticking by the huge passageway. It was made tidy and straight, without cracks or twists. Clearly carved out with magic, it led to a huge karst below ground.
After passing through another magical barrier, Amory knew it had reached Mandagar’s nest.
The place was scattered with bottles carrying the insides of many different living things, including some that looked utterly bizarre. If Joshua was here he would notice that there was one he was especially familiar withthere were more than ten containers that held the bowels of Marine Abyss Dragons and Marine Abyssals, all of which were filled with signs of alterations.
On the walls were gray crystalline objects. The black dragons thought that they were ordinary gray crystals and planned to mock the crudeness of the nest, but stopped, its expression shocked.
“How is it? My living crystals that stay alive with granites and earth. They also like the occasional fleshcare to feed them?”
A dispassionate greeting rang, and Amory turned to find the purpose of its visit.
Before it was an elderly but unusual dragon. It was old because the edges of its scales were graying, its muscles flaccid.
And it was strange because half of its body was dragon, while the other half had been replaced by the same type of crystals on the wall.
The crystal shards squirmed as if ants clambering around in a tight formation, their shape and make indistinct. Deep within each crystal was a diamond-shaped core overflowing with pure darkness. It was not one of that corrupted, but carried the concept of decay, aging, deathas if purgatory itself was replayed in the crystal.
“No, my former ‘teacher’.I remember the name Mandagar the Undead clearly; I would never touch any of your things.”
The powerful black dragon smirked, unafraid of the abnormal scenes before it. It has lived for years at the Abyss of the Distant Sea, and could endure the burden of Negative Energies. Having seen much of the Sea Abyssals, the spectacle here may have surprised it a little, but it would never scare itit had seen many similar things too.
Shaking its head, Amory said coldly, “Let’s cut the chatter. The humans have discovered the Anos Abyss. That’s your domain.”
The black dragon then snorted as it stared at the other’s crystalline body. “The others were saying that you’re now a lunatic. I didn’t buy that, and now that I see a fellow who made a body for itself with abyssal crystals, I knew I was right.”
“This is far beyond lunacy.”
“Amory. Don’t brag if you’ve never experienced death,” Mandagar was unusually calm despite being known for its extraordinary mood swings, and fixed Amory with a glare through its single remaining gray eye. “Hmmm. Anos Abyss? The crack to the Abyss is indeed there, but didn’t the humans already discover it? The old folks home doesn’t have to be worried, really.”
“But the humans never tried entering the Central Vortex, did they?” The Black Dragon retorted impatiently. “Listen, Mandagar. You are a savant amongst the dragons and is clearly aware that the Anos Abyss is the only path of retreat for our race.”
“If the berserkers fail to take the Sacred mountain, the plans to take the continent will be moot. Then, both humans and dragons would push us into a corner entirelyif that happens, our only way out is the Abyss. The only way there is through Anos, the safest route.”
Amory then stared a chilling gaze at the half-crystal dragon, baring its tusks slightly. “You’re not amongst the ranks of the grand armies that are surrounding the Sacred Mountain only because you’ve promised to defend Anos. But now as the human’s ark closes in on the Central Vortex, but you’re still here, in your nest, playing with your living crystals and lab subjects. The Elders won’t sit idly by as you delay!”
After the ultimatum was issued, the nest turned dead silent. What was left were the crystal’s clinking sounds as they wiggled.
Then the decrepit dragon laughed. “I’m almost there, Amory,” it said, still calm through it all.
Amory could feel that something was out of place even as Mandagar ‘grinned’ with its aged, wrinkled face. “All you see is the body I made through the crystals to extend my life You haven’t seen the changes in my core yet.”
“Almost there? What revolting experiments are you up to again?” As one who knew the old dragon, Amory’s expression changed noticeably. It raised its guard, prepared to flee the mountain at once.
It was then that it noticed a smell that all dragons were familiar yet disgusted by, wafting out of the old dragon that was on its last legs.
“The Evil God of Famine? You’ve really gone insane!”
Amory’s eyes widened, its scales standing on its ends. Then, looking at the unusual crystals, it finally understood.
“So you’ve made a deal with the Evil God behind the Elders to change yourself into its kintheYoel Mardas! Traitor!”
“Aren’t the Elders working with the Evil God of Pestilence and the Abyss too? Or did those demonic blood dragons and berserk dragons appear out of thin air? We’re simply all in it for ourselves.”
With a sonorous cackle, the dragon straightened itself, and the fidgeting crystals suddenly condensed into a single forma black body that gleamed with dull radiance.
Mandagar shifted, its eyes, instead of conveying satisfaction, showed tranquility.
“My former student. I’ve told you so fifty years ago, at the moment when you fled my lab that you’ve never experienced death and thus understood nothing. The agony from a body declining from Dark Wounds, the despair from seeing your flesh rot with age, those are things young dragons like you would never understand.”
“I never betrayed the Pentashade. The Elders kept providing me with resources to help me, who was almost over the edge, to survive until now I, Mandagar, may be of the undead, but I would never forget their kindness.”
Then, the now rather sprightly Mandagar fixed the other black dragon with a stare of pure hatred. “However, Amory, there was also the fact that you ran away and destroyed seventy-two of my precious lab subjects.
“That, I would never forgive.”
Before Mandagar could finish, however, Amory had stopped bickering and unleashed a terrific burst of enchantment and lifeforce all over its body. Spreading its wings and soaring off, it penetrated tens of meters of rock layers, and the exit of the mountain, as well as the sea, were soon in sight.
Black dragon inhabited the depths of the seas and swamps; they could naturally utilize water and negative energies around them. If Amory could just reach the sea, Mandagar would never find it.
However, a calm but disappointed voice floated towards it from its back.
“Such a failure, Amory. Your new instructor must not have taught you proper Dragon Tongue Magic. Did you really think you could flee from a Supreme-tier draconic spellcaster who is a notch above you?”
As the voice spoke, a bunch of gray crystal shards lashed out below and formed into a single tentacle that clenches on the black dragon’s rear talons. A titanic power completely suppressed the dragon’s strength despite its tough physique, pulling Amory back into the crystal-crusted cave in no time at all.
Slammed and subsequently pinned to the ground, Amory’s body, wings, every limb and even its mouth was soon covered in those living crystals. While its eyes panicked, it threw a brutal stare and seethed, “If I didn’t flee I would have died as a test subjectyou don’t deserve the title of teacher!”
Even as it faced death, the prideful dragon did not show fear, but roared with pure hatred.
“You’ve also neglected the Elders’ directiveit’s treason against all dragons!”
Mangadar kept quiet for a while as it returned its former student’s stare. “Perhaps,” it replied with a harrowing voice. “But I have to do it myself since the Elders can’t return me to my former glory, so some experiments were, quite simply, necessary. But you don’t have to worry. Anos is filled with my test subjectsthe humans will receive a huge surprise when before they reach the Central Vortex.”
At that, it smiled cruelly. “And now, I’ll claim your blood and flesh to return myself to my youth. And here I was thinking if I should go out and catch an Island WhaleI never thought that you would send yourself here on a silver platter, traitor.”
With the gesture of one claw, a gray line of spell flashed and the young black dragon started screaming. The countless living crystals were now consuming its body and reproducing, while the other half of Mandagar’s aged body slowly started to fill with dim black crystals.
As it relished in its former student’s screams, the old dragon muttered cooly.
“Be a peace. After the ‘Death of a Newborn’ completes, I’ll head to Anos and wipe out those clueless humans. A grudge may still be a grudge, but I would never forget that I’m a dragon.”
Amory was stunned. Its gaze, once filled with poison and ill-will turned into pure hatred. “Mandagar, you’ve colluded with Evil Gods, switched lives, and slain your own kind. You are fated to sink into the bottom bowels of the void”
Before it could finish, the crystals had already consumed its heart and brain. After one violent convulsion, Amory could not speak anymore.
Still, Mandagar knew what its unfinished sentence was.
‘But even if you die, do it after you’ve defended Anos.’
The nest was quiet again. It took a while for the crystals to finally finish biting through the dragon corpse and turn it into nothingness.
Meanwhile, four-fifths of Madagar’s body completely regenerated. Gazing at where Amory once laid, it said disdainfully, “That’s for certain. I am Mandagar, the Undead. The nightmare of the Far South two hundred years ago, and the enemy of all life.”
“Since I’ve regained my youth, I would fulfill my promise. Whether it’s protecting the Pentashade or killing traitors like you, it’s all the same to me!”
It then turned. As if its leer could penetrate rock and space, it stared at the towering Sacred Mountain and the Anos Abyss. A light moved through its ponderous eyes, and it muttered lowly, “Just one-fifth left, almost done.”
Then, it suddenly remembered the flash of a sword that fell it from its former glory.
“Just wait, humans!” It seethed.
At the faraway Sacred Mountain it was staring towards.
High above the sea, a gigantic aerial battleship was rushing towards the Sacred Mountain.
On the deck was a man with a giant sword and giant axe in each hand. Together with his warhorse, they stood at the front tip of the warship, smiling coldly at the obstruction ahead that filled the sky.
Those were a bunch of huge creatures which bodies should be counted in unit of ten meters. They may be covered in scales of different hues but their eyes were showing a color of madness.
Now, between the ship and the Sacred Mountain were countless dragons that blanketed the sky. All of them were flapping their wings, encircling and forming a blockade at the summit and warding away any incoming ships. Noticing the huge airship, many of them roared and charged towards it to try to bring down that weird but threatening existence.
At that moment, a translucent magical screen appeared before the warrior. On it were large, cautioning bold fonts, but the man did not mind it at all.
“Too many enemies, so a temporary retreat is needed?”
Shaking his head with contempt, Joshua gripped the divine armaments, and smiled coolly and boldly at the berserk wyrms that filled the sky. “That’s wrong.”
“Now’s the time to move.”