[One must have some shame to feel embarrassed. The way you argue with me is almost like gibberish.]
The moment Zeratul said this, Biban stopped explaining to him the meaning of a surprise attack and shut his mouth.
He recalled the experience from a while ago, when his surprise attack had easily been blocked by the golden dragon’s forearm.
The top dragon, Kubartos.
In the past, he had been considered the ‘greatest enemy’ of the Tower of Wisdom, because the tower saw no situation in which they could actually afford to face an old dragon. They were determined to avoid the old dragons because they concluded that the old dragons couldn’t be stopped. As such, the top dragons were considered a top priority threat.
‘I thought it would be worth fighting, but—’
It didn’t feel much different from Trauka in terms of hardness. His body stiffened despite chills running down his spine. The aftermath of an ominous premonition was overwhelming him.
In the words of Huroi, Grid’s closest confidant, he looked like XX hard excrement.
In the end, Biban seriously reviewed the gravity of the situation.
“This isn’t the time to argue between ourselves. The scales of a top dragon are harder than I expected.”
[He is also agile.]
Zeratul was also aware that Kubartos was a difficult enemy to face. The palm energy, which he’d fired with all his might, was blocked by Kubartos’s iron-like hand. Despite the palm attack being launched from close range, the reaction was immediate.
[He also happens to be a gold dragon... Should I say he is on a level similar to Raiders with weakened powers?]
“That would be appropriate. We have no time to waste.”
First of all, they had to break through this guy to even stand a chance of saving Grid...
After a brief discussion, the two of them raised their strength. A colorless energy emanated from their heads and shoulders, distorting the surrounding landscape.
The ice dragon Revola was barely pulling his body off the wall. The wounds inflicted by Kubartos and Zeratul were frozen over with ice, causing the bleeding to stop.
[He is pretty tough as well.] Zeratul stated.
“But he can’t be compared to a top dragon.”
[Let’s deal with him first.]
[Wait, I’m in this situation because...] There was no time for Revola to explain anything.
Zeratul used Shunpo and moved between Revola’s legs. He hit the dragon’s inner thigh, shaking it. Biban took advantage of this slight gap and dealt a joint attack.
The blow split the ice armor in half. However, it quickly repaired itself.
A chill so strong rose from Revola’s heart that it even froze Biban’s huge sword, which had been piercing through his scales.
‘Is he a top dragon we didn’t know about?’
Biban was quite surprised, but he showed no signs of agitation. He observed the dragon meticulously, taking in as much as he could of Revola’s appearance with his calm, gray eyes.
The insight of an Absolute saw through many facts in a split second: the fact that this blue dragon was stronger than expected, that he was already injured, that he didn’t fight back, etc...
[Great job, Revola. As expected of my subordinate.]
Therefore, Biban wasn’t deceived by Kubartos, who was using despicable whispers in order to induce confusion.
Biban narrowly escaped Kubartos’ claws, which had left behind a gold-colored trail like sunlight reflected on the surface of water. Then he spoke to Zeratul.
“These two seem to have a toxic relationship.”
[Do you only understand now?]
Zeratul responded as if Biban was stupid.
Biban’s forehead was covered in blood.
“I arrived a moment later than you, so it took me a while to figure out the overall atmosphere.”
[Are you bragging?]
“I will explain it to you... No, wait? You already knew they weren’t on the same side?”
“Then why did you ask me to deal with him first?”
[Such a ridiculous question. There is no law saying that an enemy’s enemy is necessarily an ally. This is even more applicable when the opponent is a dragon.]
This was true. Biban couldn’t find the words to refute Zeratul’s opinion, so he infused willpower into the sword that was stuck in Revola’s body.
A small sword was pulled out of a gap in the ice and landed into Biban’s grasp.
After that, the conversation halted for a while.
Kubartos polymorphed into human form and approached Biban like he was gliding on ice. He bent his upper body back significantly in order to avoid the sword. At the same time, he raised his foot and kicked.
Biban also twisted his upper body to avoid a counterattack. By increasing the size of his sword, the enlarged blade dug into Kubartos’ bent torso.
Then Kubartos released Polymorph on his foot.
Biban was hit by the dragon’s hind leg and crashed down the mountain range before he could even scream. He immediately used Shunpo to make his way back to the entrance of the lair, and saw that Zeratul had been captured in Kubartos’ paws.
It seemed that he was a victim to the same trick that Biban had just been subjected to.
Biban gasped as he rescued Zeratul by firing his sword energy. The gold Breath materialized in front of him in the blink of an eye. He calmly opened a sword curtain to absorb a certain amount of the damage. Then Biban bent his legs.
Kubartos’ blow cut his hair. It was just the right length to slide under the blow, but dammit.
Kubartos released Polymorph from his front paw and trampled Biban, smashing the ground and scattering debris.
But Biban didn’t fall for the same trick twice.
His crouched body was already shooting forward like a cannonball, but he wasn’t using Shunpo. He launched from the ground directly with both legs, taking advantage of the recoil from Kubartos breaking the ground in order to add weight to his sword.
The overlapped shockwaves along the trajectory of the giant sword pushed Kubartos back several steps. Kubartos’ mouth formed a straight line, and his brow was furrowed. The nonstop exchange of blows was quite unpleasant.
There was a resonant sound, like metal breaking, and it was most definitely caused by a collision between a sword and a hand or a foot.
Kubartos’ body was hardened even in his Polymorph state. He didn’t feel constrained by Polymorph, just like an old dragon would have felt. Before he knew it, he had been cut dozens of times by Biban’s dragon weapon, which swirled like a hurricane, constantly changing its size. Still, he managed to avoid being fatally injured.
“Grid is a nuisance.”
Kubartos seemed unable to continuously fire Breaths to keep Biban at bay. He suddenly grinned.
“I can see a portion of the future. I didn’t expect you to grow to this point.”
Kubartos slowly dodged the sword light that drew a diagonal line from bottom to top, and turned his body. Biban’s sword, which had returned to regular size, couldn’t cut Kubartos, and missed.
On the other hand, Biban was pierced in the abdomen by a sword protruding from Kubartos’ coccyx, a sword that had been made by the dragon by shrinking his tail.
Kubartos held the hilt of his sword upside-down, spun back and faced Biban head-on. But the blade that penetrated through the armor also tore through the body...
Biban’s body trembled as his intestines were cut to shreds. He tried to remove the sword, but it was to no avail.
The blade protruded like a jagged thorn and was so sharp that he couldn’t take it out with his hand. He tried hitting it with his sword, but it still didn’t break.
The only way to escape was to use Shunpo, but it was already dazzlingly bright everywhere.
Kubartos had magically blocked his vision. Ironically, he used the basic magic called Light. An Absolute who died because of Light? He would go down in history, but not in a good way.
Biban tried activating his mental world despite being quite overwhelmed in his current state. Just then, Zeratul spoke.
[You should’ve recovered a bit more before joining the fight.]
He clicked his tongue.
[Well, that doesn’t mean you aren’t helpful.]
Zeratul swung a long icicle that was like a sword and struck at Kubartos’ sword. To his surprise, Kubartos’ sword froze. Because of this, the pressure Biban felt was relieved. He pulled back his body.
“What is this?”
[The enemy of my enemy is my friend. It is a common saying.]
Weren’t you the one who said that wasn't the case?
Biban swallowed down the words that rose in his throat, only to suddenly become doubtful.
Was Zeratul the type who willingly accepted help from someone who was close to one of his enemies?
Without his pride, was he anything more than a corpse?
Biban sensed something was wrong and decided to take a closer look at Zeratul. His breathing was rough. He’d said he was faring better than Biban’s, but Zeratul hadn’t fully recovered, either. He was still suffering from the consequences of pushing his limits while fighting Fire Dragon Trauka.
Since Biban had experienced them as well, he was aware that the scars left by Trauka were terrible. He felt like his body and soul were burning even now. His sword energy hadn’t regained its proper circulation, either. This would be especially devastating for Zeratul, who used a wider variety of energy and divinity due to his various martial arts.
“...Do we have a chance of winning?”
[To be honest, this fight is hard.]
By saying this, Zeratul acknowledged that he and Chiyou were different. He wasn’t the type to recklessly bluff that he never knew defeat.
In the midst of this serious atmosphere—
“Why are you helping them by pulling out the essence of your heart?” Kubartos’ gloomy voice rang out.
The question was directed at Revola, who was now an obvious traitor.
No emotions were felt from him. Rather, he felt insulted.
Revola was confident. “I’m not trying to help them. I’m trying to protect Trauka. I can’t let you go into the lair.”
“That is a very good excuse.”
Revola also polymorphed into human form. However, he seemed to be very weakened. It didn’t feel like he’d intended to polymorph. In fact, he wanted to shrink his body in order to reduce wasting his power.
Biban looked at the icicle in Zeratul’s hands.
“That... Did you pluck it from the heart of that blue dragon?”
[What do you mean I plucked it? He did that himself.]
[I guess he met Grid.]
Strangely, Biban felt convinced. Then Kubartos said intently, “In any case. Revola, your thoughts and choices hold no meaning.”
Scales started sprouting over Kubartos’ skin. In mere seconds, the golden dragon enlarged and returned to his original form. Then he trampled on Revola with his front paw.
The Breath poured toward Biban, who had hurried to Revola’s aid.
He swung his sword in an incomplete motion, failing to block completely the top dragon’s Breath.
Biban was swept away by the violent explosion and was thrown back onto the opposite mountain peak, crashing there.
Stunned, Revola asked, “I said I wasn’t helping you. Why did you save me?”
“How can I turn away from the one who gave his heart to me?”
“You misunderstand. My heart is still alive. I just lost some energy for a while.”
“Why didn’t you tell me this before?”
“I’m joking. Your circumstances are none of my business. To be honest, I just followed Grid for a little bit. If Grid had been here, he would’ve protected you at a time like this. You don’t understand, do you? I wouldn’t have understood either had I not been there to witness the relationship between Grid and Bunhelier.”
The two of them barely managed to get up. Zeratul, who had been fighting Kubartos on his own, flew to their side and fell. He’d received so many blows from the Breath attack in such a short period of time, and had turned into rags.
“Are you okay?”
[Do I look okay to you? Give me your hand.]
Zeratul urged Biban.
[I have vowed to walk a different path from Chiyou.]
Biban extended his hand, and Zeratul gave the sword of ice to him, correcting the position of Biban’s shoulders and feet and even tinkering with the gripping method.
[I know you are nervous, but follow my directions quietly. I also know that you are no less skilled in swordsmanship than me.]
Every time Zeratul’s hand touched his body, Biban felt a surge of vitality.
“However, I’ve been creating and honing skills that you don’t know. I vaguely know which one of them will exert greater power when combined with your swordsmanship.”
Now Zeratul was unable to engrave his thoughts in the space. He spoke as if he were a human being.
After infusing the remaining of his divinity into Biban, he asked,
“Is anything even slightly unclear?”
The uncertainty in Zeratul’s words made Biban feel a bit uneasy. However, the urgency of their current situation didn’t allow Biban to articulate his thoughts properly.
Kubartos was getting closer. He opened his mouth wide, ready to devour the weakened intermediate dragon, the Sword God, and the Martial God.
“What are you up to...?” Revola asked.
He was overcome with belated regret, foreseeing a futile death. He shouldn’t have pulled out the essence of his heart.
Then Zeratul’s reinterpreted Matchless Sword of the Sword God was revealed.
Grid’s dragon weapon and Revola’s ice sword drew different paths, leaving a trajectory that had never been seen before.
The huge golden dragon paused in the air for a moment. Then, having lost his wings, he started to fall.
“...Doesn’t this look like Grid’s sword dance?”
“Shut up and hurry.”