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The Dragon of Datsuzoku

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"Then let us go and see what these cultists are up to." Mathias said as he began to walk into the cave. With a snap of his fingers, he summoned forth a small green ball of fire that floated around the warlock in a circle. The light it cast illuminated the cave for about fifteen feet, his footsteps leaving small traces of corruption upon the ground.

If they were ready for them, it was likely they would have some manner of traps prepared for them. Fortunately for Mathias that was exactly what minions were for, and so he sent out his Spawns of Suffering to search for any possible traps in their way. Some if not most would die, but they're expendable pawns that would arise in a day, so he held no sympathy for their pain.

"These fools have no idea what is coming for them, or if they did, they would have brought more to meet us." The sickly green light danced in front of him each time the ball of fire made its pass. Somehow it made him appear more sickly, more physically weak than he already was. No one would ever guess such power was held within such a fragile body.

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"Best to step lightly just the same," Ben cautioned, "Something don't smell right here... literally and figuratively."

Mathias' minions swept through the cave like some kind of unholy tide; and the fact that none of them were blown up or eviscerated as they did so was a good sign. But as they traveled further and further into the cave, the strange scent that Ben had caught earlier grew stronger and stronger. The scent baffled him, as it was both human and reptilian in equal measure. Soon he began to suspect what it was he was smelling, and the thought of it filled him with horror and fascination. Eventually the group came upon an intersection in the cave system where the one path split off into two; one going forward and the other going right. The spawn rushed down both paths, and a few seconds later terrible shrieks echoed from the right tunnel. Before the screaming ceased, Ben realized that the scent was strongest from that direction.

He turned to look at Mathias and said, "This way!" before taking off.

As he hurried to catch up with the spawns, the strange scent began to mix with the very familiar scents of blood and rotting flesh. Claw marks lined the walls and floors, both deep ones where powerful claws had found purchase, and more shallow ones where terrified prey had struggled to escape a horrible fate. The entire passage was covered in a black layer of semi-congealed blood. With each step he took the feeling of dread in the pit of Ben's stomach grew. When he reached the end of the tunnel, his fears were proven correct.

The antechamber where the tunnel let out was huge, a vast cavern with a few small holes in the ceiling that let in light from the outside. The floor of the chamber was filled with about two inches of standing blood and filth that even the ventilation provided by the openings in the roof could not alleviate. Corpses were strewn about the place in various states of mutilation and decomposition; with no discrimination in age or gender. But the real kicker was the centerpiece.

In the center of the cave was a mountain of corpses stacked ten feet high, on which rested numerous man/lizard hybrids. Hunched over they stood about five feet tall, but Ben had little doubt that they would gain at least another foot in height if they stood up. The beasts were currently tearing apart the corpses of the spawn that had come in before him; and as one raised a handful of viscera to its snout, Ben saw a gold ring in the shape of a dragons head on its ring finger.

"So that's what you sons of bitches are up to..." Ben muttered.

Quiet as he had spoken, the hybrids had still heard him; heads snapping to face him in a chorus of angry snarls and hissing. 

"How many?" Ben asked quietly at first, his voice raising to a shout the second time, "How many did you take!?"

More snarls and hissing was his only answer as the hybrids began to slowly move down the mountain of bodies, heads low, and tails twitching in agitation. Ben hefted his axe off his shoulder; his grin wide, and his eyes smoldering with rage.

"Now you gone and done it. Now you've gone and pissed me off."

Edited by danzilla3

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Mathias was somewhat impressed by the amount of carnage these hybrids were able to commit. In fact they seemed to be causing as much trouble as...


It was rather unfortunate for the draconian hybrids at this time as they seemed to have triggered a difficult memory for the warlock. Images of the coven he had built up, of all the work he had put into settling all of his power into the Abysmal Caves, and all for that harlot Arashi to dash it all to pieces! "I WILL CONSUME YOUR SOULS!" This was not his voice, this was the voice of the darker half of Mathias, the demon known as Mephistopheles.

In an explosion of dark fog, the diminutive, weak body of Mr. Mollins became the hulking, horned figure of inky darkness. Every step his hoofed feet made seemed to burn the very ground in small emerald embers. Folded wings jutted from his back, but it was clear this ten foot tall monster was just as deadly with his claws and magic without his ability to fly. Taking a leap forward, he would barrel into the group of draconian menaces, tearing into them with a bloodlust one can hardly believe if they saw it.

The small portion of hybrids which were not caught in the chaotic grasp of the maddened demon looked to the other for a fight. One of them seemed to wield the ring on his finger that was so desired by the duo. While the number of aggressors were significantly reduced, it was hardly going to be an easy fight. Even Mephistopheles was sustaining heavy damage from the vicious onslaught of the draconians. 

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If he hadn't seen the frail sorcerer hulk out into a rampaging shadow beast of death and destruction, Ben never would have believed that it was him. But it hardly mattered to him, as even though the demonic being had charged right into them middle of the hybrid ranks, more appeared and fixed their sights on Ben. The smell of blood in the air from the bodies and from the hybrids caught in Mathias' path was driving him into a frenzy, and he was more than happy to fight any of the bastards that appeared before him. Twirling his axe around in his right hand he bellowed out a challenge to all who could hear.


The hybrids obliged and in an instant three hybrids were charging him from the front and sides. Ben brought down his axe on the one coming from the front, cleaving it in half and splitting the stone underneath it. Taking his hands away from his weapon, Ben planted his foot and drove his elbow into the stomach of the second hybrid, sending it flying into the stone wall of the cave behind it. The third hybrid approaching from the left caught the axeman's fist in its chest; driving it into the cave floor with a chorus of broken bones and shattering stone. While he was busy with the first three, a fourth hybrid had crawled along the ceiling to position itself above him, and now dropped down onto his back, biting and clawing. 

Ben managed to stay on his feet, thrashing this way and that trying to dislodge the creature from his back. Seizing the opportunity, more hybrids charged in from every direction, hoping to bury him beneath their superior numbers. But as the creatures would get close, Ben would never fail to swat them away with a punch, a kick, or a headbutt; and soon they grew more cautious. They would dart in from multiple angles, or distract him while another of their number went in on the attack. Through this process Ben was repeatedly clawed and bitten, leaving him a bloody mess. Eventually he managed to get a grip on the hybrid riding him, and threw it to the ground before caving its head in with his boot. Unsure of their advantage, the rest of the hybrids backed off to form a circle around him. Ben stood in the center, breathing heavily until he fell to one knee. That was all the signal the beasts needed to charge in for the kill as one.

However it was a ruse, and as they closed in Ben stood, grabbing his axe as he rose and swinging around in a complete circle. The sudden move caught all the creatures off guard, with some being cut in half while the rest fell to the floor. Blood sprayed into the air, raining down on Ben; who fell to his knees in earnest now that there were no enemies to fight. Struggling to catch his breath, Ben reached into a pouch on his belt and pulled out a vial of black liquid. He looked at the bottle wearily before heading in the direction Mathias had stormed off in, keeping the vile in hand just in case.

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Ben would find bloody carnage in the wake of Mephistopheles, with the carcasses of multiple hybrids strewn about in various forms of dismemberment. Buckets of blood painted the walls around the hulking monster, his body covered in deep gashes and bite marks. None of these seemed to disturb the demon, however, as it was busy in the process of devouring one of the hybrids that it held so much hatred for.

Its maw was opened to impossible lengths, as the legs were descending down into its gullet. With each forceful movement of its body, the muscles within its jaw and neck broke the bones, eviscerated the flesh, and sent jets of blood flying. Two more movements of his powerful jaws, and the hybrid was fully devoured. After he was finished, he roared deeply into the ceiling, the sound carrying down into the depths of the caves. 

He was proclaiming his dominance.

"Have you acquired the artifact?" He asked after taking a moment to gather his wits. This battle had vexed him sorely, but he had worked through some of his aggression in a sense. It was almost therapeutic, viciously slaughtering those you associated your anger with. Of course it would never compare to being able to perform the act upon the true source of his disdain and loathing...

"If you have, then it is time for my end of the bargain." Looking around the chamber, he noticed this was clearly some kind of feeding ground. "Their lore must be stored elsewhere, deeper within the cave I believe." The shadows within him began to disperse, and Mathias returned once more. "I will not be able to call upon Mephistopheles for a while now. He needs time to regenerate from that onslaught, and I do not trust him to cede control if he has been let out for so long." He began walking once more, a small belch emitted past his lips. "Excuse me."

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By the time he had followed Mathias' trail of carnage back to its source most of the wounds he had sustained from his fight with the hybrids. Lucky for him, none of the hits he'd taken had been anything more than painful and messy flesh wounds. Unfortunately his clothing did not share the same regenerative properties; and his shirt had been pretty much ripped to shreds; prompting him to just discard the garment on the floor. He arrived just in time to watch his companions demon form swallow what was left of a hybrid before returning to his senses and proclaiming that he would now search for the cults knowledge. This confused Ben, as he hadn't remembered seeing the ring when he came in.

"Wait, if the ring was in there then-"

A furious bellow echoed down the cavern, and Ben turned to see a giant black bull charging at him, red eyes like coals in the darkness.

"Oh shi-"

Ben caught the bulls horns just as he was about to be impaled and found himself being pushed through the cavern at high speed. He tried to get his feet underneath him to try and push back, but he couldn't find purchase on the smooth stone floor. Soon he found himself pushed into another open room, much like the one that the hybrids had been in. As they came in the bulls body began to shudder and pulse; shifting shape into a gorilla at least ten feet tall, who now held him by the throat. Glancing down he saw the golden ring on the beasts finger, it having shifted sizes to fit. 

The shapeshifter roared at him; its hot, stinking breath washing over him; and in response Ben punched it in the face. The blow only enraged the beast, and it used its height and strength to slam Ben into the ceiling of the cave; sending stone raining down. From there it let go, letting him fall for a moment before hitting him with a punch that drove Ben six inches into the rock behind him. Before he had even hit, the beast was charging toward him; and it swung a gigantic right fist at its opponent; throwing up a huge cloud of dust and debris. But as the dust cleared it revealed that Ben had managed to catch the creatures fist in both hands, and was now straining against it. The ape pushed hard, trying to crush the other man, but he held firm. With a roar of effort, Ben pushed the creature back and rushed it; hitting the creature around the waist. He lifted it up, and then jumped, now pushing the creature into the stone ceiling. 

But as it was about to hit, the creatures form shifted into that of a turtle, and it took the impact with no obvious damage. It then shifted into a massive elephant that drove Ben into the floor. It raised one foot, and brought it down. Ben caught the attack, but it was all he could do to hold the giant appendage at bay. His axe was back where he had been hit, and he couldn't take away a hand to drink a potion. Things were looking grim. 

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A little ways from the cave where the warriors fought the cultists, a young woman was crouched in the dirt. Her hand gently traced the outline of two different sized feet. Both led into the cave's entrance and continued onward. Deep into the cave. 

To the draconian cult's hide out. 

Elise cursed under her breath. Nearly three months of undercover and scouting work gone. Just like that. Why was it that wherever she looked, wherever she went, whatever she did, there were always men there to stir shit up?

Abruptly she shot to her feet causing her hood to fall off her head and hair the color of fire spilled out, only stopping as the strands brushed up against her shoulder. The tight fitting black suit began to hum, double blue lines climbing up the length of her body from either side. As she took a deep breath the smell blood, sweat, steel, and gun powder filled her head. A crazed expression tugged at the edges of her remaining sanity but after a moment the expression cooled. She got it under control. It wasn't quite time to unleash the beast. Her training had taught her at least that much. 

As Elise began to make her way into the cave, the entirety of the ground began to shake. With a tempo. A slight frown completely replaced the prior crazed expression, her light green eyes becoming increasingly narrowed. The vibrations didn't come from a drill or something actually penetrating the earth. That had more of a rumbling affect and usually a much faster tempo.

There was something strong beyond her. And something just as strong fighting back, otherwise there would be little need for a continuous attack tempo. Before taking another step, Elise drew both her elementally powered handguns and took a deep breath. The ground beneath her feet rumbled as per the tempo and then swiftly became mush, turning into a pile of incredibly slick mud. The pool split into two and wrapped around Elise's feet. With a simple mental order, the mud puddles launched her forward as if she was on rocket powered roller blades. The dirt blades made easy work of the distance between herself and the cave's inner fight. 

Because of her position as a spec-ops leader, the massive amount of death and corpses that littered the cave couldn't even match up to a usual Monday for her. So she more or less ignored the corpse garden and made her way further in, only to be greeted by the sight of a massive elephant stomping down on an over sized male. The sight was so outrageous and completely not what she had expected that Elise burst into a fit of laughter. 

"What the fuck! There's a goddamn elephant in the cave!" The mud evaporated into the ground and Elise tumbled to the ground, holding her sides and laughing uncontrollably. "Holy mother of Gaia, this is too funny. Oh man, oh man, my sides." A moment passed and Elise's laughter quieted as she entered that awkward phase of laughing so hard she couldn't breath. In the end, Elise rolled on the ground, slapping her hands like a retarded seal. In the midst of her fit of laughter, Elise let loose a hail of bullets going in every which way. Three of them slammed into the elephant's side while another two headed toward the over sized male. The others were scattered but hit nothing in particularly. Each bullet was laced with trace amounts of electricity, cackling in the air as they headed toward their intended targets. 

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Ben had thought he might feel any number of emotions when faced with his imminent death; but laughter was certainly not one of them. But somewhere in his racing mind he realized that it wasn't him laughing, but someone else. Then there was the sound of gunshots and the elephant crushing him was rocked by a great impact; and Ben felt his left arm get hit by what experience told him was probably a bullet. As pain shot up his arm, a surge of rage burned from his gut; and he took advantage of the distraction to push the beasts foot up enough for him to roll out, grabbing his axe on the way. The elephant let out a defiant below, but backed up a few steps cautiously eyeing the new arrival.

 As he staggered to his feet, Ben glanced over his shoulder to see a young woman in red hair and black leather squirming on the ground as she laughed at the situation. He had no idea what was going on, where Matthias had gone, or where the girl had come from. But he was grateful for the chance to get back on his feet, and he turned his gaze toward the elephant as he pulled a vial of Atavism from his belt. He popped the lid and looked over his shoulder.

"Whoever you are, thanks for the assist," he said, "I don't know what your looking for, but if it is what I think it is, you'll have to get in line."

In one go, he downed the contents of the vial, and the effects where almost instantaneous. Ben's veins turned black, and his fingernails turned into claws. His teeth lengthened into fangs, and he let out a furious roar that shook the entire cave. The shapesshfiter took an instinctual step back before it flowed into the form of a cheetah and built up a head of steam before shifting into a rhino and charging forward, looking to impale Ben on its horn.

This time there was no contest. Ben lashed out with his left arm and caught the creature by its horn as it came in, the violent movement sweeping the creature off its feet and onto its side. He raised his axe above his head and brought it down, only to meet stone as the shifter changed into a giant turtle once more, drawing its head into its shell. Ben responded by punting the shell like a soccer ball; driving it into the wall and then slamming it into the ground as in bounced back, cratering the ground underneath it.

Ben was about to strike the finishing blow when the shifter began to expand, faster and larger than ever before. Soon it had taken the form of a bronze scaled dragon that had to hunch over to fit in the cave. A dragon shaped ring could be seen on one of its talons. It let out a deep below of rage before standing upright; demolishing the roof of the cave before fixing its sights on Ben and the newcomer.


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Elise rolled to her side and then sat up, immediately ceasing her laughter as a stern expression eased across her impeccable features. Her dual pistols still layed in the palm of her hands, automatically loaded and ready to rumble. 

If there was one thing in life that Elise was known for by those who knew her and those who knew of her, was that she didn't like being told what to do. Even by herself. Especially herself. So when Ben told her to get in line if she wanted what he wanted, there wasn't even a fraction of a second before Elise decided that she did, in fact, want it. Whatever it was. And nothing was going to get in her way of getting it. Plus, she'd die before letting a male anything give her an order. 

"Hmf!" Elise grunted, jumping to her feet. "I don't wait in lines." As she stood, her fire colored hair swept around and into her mouth. "Pffffft." She made a spitting motion in a desperate attempt to remove the strands of red hair from her mouth. "Gross."

Well, that could have gone more gracefully.

The shapeshifter took that moment to shift is feeble turtle body into a giant ass dragon. And it was big. She'd seen demons and all sorts of nightmarish creatures, but a dragon was a first. Going by her initial look, the dragon would definitely be in its own category. Not necessarily because it was more dangerous or stronger than the other beasts, but it came with a rather noble presence that put it heads above the others. Or, more aptly put, a normal dragon would be. A human in the shape of a dragon certainly did not carry that sort of authoritative aura. 

"Tell you what demon," she said, rotating her shoulders to get a bit of the stiffness out. "There's a map the lower level of this cave. You give me your word I get that map with no question or debate, and I'll help you take out this shapeshifter."

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Ben glanced over at the young woman and muttered, "Deal."

The dragon roared and worked its throat for a moment before opening its mouth and spitting a stream of greyish white liquid at Ben and the girl. He rolled to the side, trusting the girl to take care of herself. When the liquid splattered the ground where they had just been, the stone began to sizzle and bubbble; quickly eating a hole the size of a bathtub in the rock. Acid. That wasn't going to make things any easier, but it might provide the duo with an opportunity to attack. The creature could only target one of them with its breath attack at once, which would leave the other free to exploit its divided attention. Without waiting to discuss a plan, Ben charged forward at the beast, hoping the girl would be smart enough to exploit any openings he created.

As he charged forward, the dragon spat another ball of acid at Ben; who juked out of the way. The creature roared in fury and reared back to spit another orb of the deadly liquid at the charging man only to roar again as he dodged that attack as well. The creature used its breath again, but this time spat out a sustained stream of the acid, forcing Ben to veer off to the side of the cave to avoid the it. As he was about to hit the wall, he lept up and began to run on the surface; advancing toward the dragon whats more. The dragon followed Ben's path, acid eating away at the cave wall as it closed in on him. When he was almost in position, the dragon was about to overtake him. Acting quickly he threw his ax a stalagmite above the beasts head. The stone protrusion cracked and fell, hitting the dragons head with a barrage of stone and shutting its mouth.

Ben took the chance to push off the wall and leap onto the dragons head; punching and clawing at the scaled flesh beneath him. The dragon roared, and began to try to shake him off. Ben held fast, and hoped that the girl came through.

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