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A Clockwork Ending

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Classic Demon Hunt 


Character - Vito
Summon - Floki
Background Music (If you so choose) - Link

 

The fog was heavy, giving Vito little visibility. Heavy winds had pushed the fog over from Renovatio over to southern Terrenus, an already dangerous territory now made deadly. With most transportation options ruled out, his only option was to trek it.

It'd already been hard enough to convince the guards to let him pass, now he had to prove something. Most people had been turned back by the paladins, but Vito managed to call in a long awaited favor. Airships in Yh'mi were never recommended, so he had to leave his ship hidden just beyond the walls.

He was travelling by mount, something he'd rather avoided. The open landscape was something that'd put them at a disadvantage, so they'd stuck to the mountainous terrain left of Yh'mi. Trying to stick to high ground, away from the beasts that patrol the broken plains. The eerie silence of the land always made him feel uncomfortable, but today just seemed to go above and beyond to make things harder.

"Fucking shit, where the fuck are we? We should be there, or at least nearly there." He folded the map back up and tucked it away, drawing his crossbow and draping his cloak around himself. It was rare for the raider to feel this uneasy, but this journey was different from his usual. He gave Floki a pat on the side, it appeared even he felt the same as the Drake flickered his head side to side checking for enemies.

'I know how you feel buddy, I know how ya feel.'

After what felt like hours, the tall black spires came into view. Their spikes breaking the thick clouds of fog, pointing towards the gloomy skies. Despite the sight often making adventurers want to leave and never look back, they were a beacon of hope at this very moment. But with the sun settling and absence of light threatening to turn the land into a void, Vito decided to call it there. Settling half way up the hill, he set up base. Digging a small fire pit, he placed stones around it to act as a wind protector and stop light from attracting predators. 

Floki decided lay next to the source of warmth, stealing it all to himself. "Cheeky bastard." He mumbled, throwing a blanket over him and laying across it. Pulling out his assignment, he attempted to read it in the flickering light. His assignment was simple, hunt down a specific demon and collect its blood. Easy in concept, difficult in execution. The quest and been open for a while, sent out by Scrilly of Cavecrest. However, the demon had garnered a reputation amongst many adventures.

Said to be strong enough to rip armored opponents limb from limb, smart enough to set up traps for those who enter it territory and older than wizards saints. Pushing the rumors to the back of his head, Vito let the warmth of the fire take over. It'd been a long day, he only hoped that the weather would pass sooner rather than later. Drifting off into the night, leaving the worries for tomorrow.

Edited by Rabbit

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With daybreak, Vito let out a sigh of relief. Bringing his crossbow to his side, he sat up to the sight of clearer land. The fog had mostly passed, with slight ground fog remaining. Looking over, the spires had become a lot clearer. Each spike mirroring another in the strange field, the undergrowth now barely visible. Kicking around the still smoldering ash and packing his gear, Vito continued the hunt.

‘Still rather it’d fully cleared, but what’s a hunt without some trials.’

Once they reached The Spires, he stood underneath one of the spikes. A strange tradition whenever he visited the area, each one drew his attention like an obelisk. Feeling the cold surface of the stone, curiosity towards anomalous objects was one of his greatest weaknesses. He’d always wanted to chip a chunk of to keep, but feared the paranormal aspect of them. He’d heard rumors from wall guards that doing so brought bad luck, normally resulting in painful deaths. Whilst normally not believing in such cases, the Yh’mi area was different to him.

‘One day we’ll discover your origins, then I’ll take a piece home.’

Crossbow pointed forward, armed with silver bolts, he slowly made his way through the overgrowth. Floki slowly followed behind, clearly on edge. A rare sight, normally only seen in these territories. The vegetation wasn’t too thick, allowing for relatively good visibility. An exact location of the demon was not given, only that it resides at The Spires. In the end all he knew was the demon's name and a rough location, not the greatest information to go off of.

‘Where are you? Please just make my life a little easier.’

Nearly half a day of hunting went by, but nothing. The area to track was expansive, Vito was aware of this being a multi day quest. With thousands of metres to cover and such a powerful foe, there was a reason for the high pay and low success rate. However, the longer he was here the more paranoid he got.

‘Okay, maybe hunting from above is the way to go, just gotta get Floki up one of the spikes and....’

His thoughts were interrupted by a sudden tug of his foot, dropping down into a crouching a large spiked log just narrowly missed him. Crashing into a nearby tree, smashing it in half. The loud impact letting out a shock wave, the echo travelling throughout the forest. Standing up, he examined the trap. A basic tripwire set up, armed with a spiked log. The spikes were made of jagged rocks, resembling the material of massive stone spikes.

Drag’zalxarg, don’t go playing such dangerous games now.” Eyes front and crossbow drawn, he pursued forward knowing he was in the right area. With the trap set off and loud noise, it was possible the demon was now on the move. He was now in enemy territory, the home of the beast.

Edited by Rabbit

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Each step was placed with purpose, each corner checked twice, his back watched and well armed. With the hunt underway, Vito powered his way through the spires. It was midday, and with the way things were going the hunt would go well into the night. He knew little about the demon, but it felt like the demon knew all about his movements.

‘Fuck fuck fuck, how do I always end up in the woods being hunted?’

Out the corner of his eye, he watched as a puff of black smoke appeared and reappeared in seconds. Stopping in his tracks, he span around. Watching each tree, another puff of smoke. Over and over, it circled him. Like a shark, the smoke continuously circled him. Minute passed before a boulder was hurled towards him, just narrowly missing him. It surface covered in scorch marks, resembling long clawed fingers.

‘Yep, starting to think the rumors might be true.’

Reaching into his pouch, Vito pulled out a smoke grenade. Dropping it to his feat, he flooded the surrounding area in white smoke. He held his breath, waiting for the demon to investigate. The white smoke in front of him began to disperse, being replaced by black clouds. He pulled the trigger, the silver bolt went straight through the clouds creating a sizzling sound. A great roar, followed by the formation of great demon before him. It stood before him, right leg bleeding, staring into his eyes. (Drag’zalxarg)

Leave…...now…please.” Its voice deep and slow, carrying no anger in either its voice or eyes, confusing Vito.

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There was a minutes silence, the two stared at each other. His skin scaly and grey, scars forming runic symbols, black smoke protruding from his body and skull stained with blood. Its eyes were black with beady white centers, staring into Vito’s. It was impossible to guess the demons emotions, but anger was what he felt. The silence was killing the raider, his finger unmoving from the trigger. The beast once again spoke up, asking for the same thing.

Please…..leave...now

'Am I hunting a demon or slaughtering some innocent fucker, fuck sake'

There was a moment of hesitation before Vito conversed, his head was spinning with confusion. “So, you can speak? They said you were intelligent, but I didn’t realise you were quite this…..sentient.

I feel…...I feel.” His words were quicker and less husk, seemingly trying to get Vito to understand.

There’s a bounty on your head, they want your blood and death. I don’t want the last, so how about we keep things simple and I’ll leave you alone.” An honest request, Vito enjoyed killing criminal. Not citizens and creatures simply trying to survive. A raider who only raided when needed. 

Yes…...I..understand.” Stabbing his sword into the ground, he reached up and grabbed his right antler. There was a brief crack before his horn broke off, then throwing it in front of Vito. Taking his sword once more, he sliced open his palm. Letting the blood fall to the ground. “Blood.” Vito walked over, holding two vials underneath the trailing blood and filling them to the brink. It reeked of sulfur, over powering his senses.  Capping the vial, the stowed it in his belt pouch. The raider simply nodded and returned to his mount.

Thanks, best of luck.” There was no response, just a puff of black smoke. With the mission complete, somewhat, Vito began the long haul back to Cavecrest.

Edited by Rabbit

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Three hearts


Background Music (If you so choose) - Link


Vakar metal, illegal in most areas and always carefully monitored. There is one exception to this rule, Last Chance. A fitting name for a city which Vito always saved for last, hating the essence surrounding it. Regardless, results were results. Last Chance always offered a person what they needed, regularly coming at a personal price. Thankfully, it was Vito calling the favour this time. With the possession of the newly acquired metal, he could begin his plans. Upon entry into Cavecrest, he docked his ship. The dark windy cave never changed.

‘Home sweet home, I guess.’

Strolling through the docks, towards the market area, he stopped at many stores to greet the locals. Tho his time in Cavecrest had been short, he’d grown to know and love many of the locals. He made a brief stop at the Scrilly Isles, finishing off his prior quest.

Hey, old timer. Got your stuff.” He stood in front of the empty counter, waiting for the beloved owner to kindly show his face. “OLD TIMER, YOU HOME?!” After a second call Scrilly slowly crawled out the backroom.

I was busy, you raiders should be more patient.

Do you want the blood or not?” Vito questioned, placing the vial on the counter.

There was a brief pause, as Scrilly walked to the counter an examined the blood. His face seemed saddened, his eyebrows raised.

So, you killed the demon?” Putting the vial down and replacing it with the sack of requested goods..

I never said that.” He took the bag and opened it, pulling out a long wooden box.

I’m glad, most who’ve been on the quest either never found him or just never came back. Those who did want the beast dead, I’m rather fond of the strange thing. I’d like to learn more.

I think it’s best we just leave well enough alone, thank you for completing this.” Vito opened the box to take a quick glimpse at the goods, an enchanted black ring and engraved uru metal sphere sat side by side. Closing the box, he stowed it inside his cloak. The two simply nodded at each other and went about their business, once outside he made a beeline straight for the Three Hearts Smithy.

As Vito approached the forge, the sound of metal clashing came into earshot. The large sign slowly peeking over the neighboring buildings, ‘Three Heart Smithy’ written in well iron. The forgers kept to their word about taking pride in their work and preserving it, the building a testament to those words. The old brick surface preserved as if they were only lay, each piece of metal polished to mirror standards and the light smell of burning coal swept out giving customers a taste of what’s to come.  

‘Same old same old, just the way it should be.’

Doors already open, Vito strolled and rang the bell. Quickly answered be answered by the hybrid, Slim.  “Welcome back, guessing you got watcha needed.

Of course, it’s all in the ship. You know which one’s mine, don’t cha?”

The little dingy that sits sadly in the corner? Yep, I’ll send my boys down to unload the crates.” A smirk slid across his face and quickly faded. Slim was known for struggling to keep his childish nature at bay, something that came to light the more a person got to know him.

'Cheeky hybrid fucker.'

No, battle hardened dingy contemplating its next battle is the correct term.” Slim simply rolled his eyes and placed a journal on the counter.

Okay, so...one vakar collar, one ballista and twenty vakar javelins and remaining materials are to be turned into bolts for your crossbow. Correct?” The hybrid looked up, his face confused from the strange mixture of orders.

Perfect.” Vito dropped his bag to the ground, pulling out a large sack of assorted gems and handed them to Slim.

Pleasure doing business, it’ll be ready in about three days tops. Guessing you’ll be sticking around town. I know I shouldn’t be snooping around my clients business, I ain’t like the bar owners, but you going to war or just like collected weird shit?

Nope, just hunting big prey.” Vito’s answer left the blacksmith with a dull look, clearly unsatisfied. 

Boring, I’ll call ya when it’s done.” The two parted ways, leaving the raider to continue prep with the upcoming hunt.

Edited by Rabbit

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Walking around The First Hall, Vito felt the various runic symbols. Each one hand carved by Fafnir himself, the meaning and power each one holds only known by a select few. Its cold worn surface sent shivers throughout his body, the raider made his way to the front of the building. Pushing the heavy metal doors open, he was greeted with warmth and chatter. Small groups of high ranking civilians sit at various round tables, conversing political topics. Various guards and warriors line the outer walls, hands on hilts, ready for one wrong move. Fafnir sat at the very end, watching from his grand throne. 

‘Maybe one day I’ll have a place as grand as here, maybe.’

Walking straight towards the king, several servants and bartenders weaved their way around Vito. Attempting to cater to the many guest, quenching their eternal thirst and hunger. As the raider moved around the enchanted firepit and stood in front of Fafnir, he knelt. Only rising once given permission. There was a brief moment of silence, feeling as if all eyes were gazing upon him.

Stand. You come with arranged business, raider.

Yes, I’m sure Scrilly has already informed you of my desires.” Vito stood, handing the box containing the sphere and ring to a guard who then presented it to Fafnir. He quietly observed both items, taking each in his hands and examining the engravings.

Good, Scrilly always goes beyond expectations. These meet the requirements, so consider the favor repaid.” The king stood from his throne, walking around Vito and stood in front of the fire. He dropped both items into the fire, a small sizzle could be heard as each one hit the ground. Raising his hands above them flames, he began chanting incantations of unknown meaning. Pulling out a leather pouch, he threw purple ash into the fire. Large bursts of violet flames rose, smelling like a mixture of herbs.

Once the purple flames had returned to the blue coloration, Fafnir grabbed Vito by the wrist and dragged his hand over the flames. His grip unbreakable, rendering the raider to nothing more than a puppet. The heat scorned Vito’s hand, a burning sensation made him want to cry out. But he bit his tongue, letting the enchantment continue. Grabbing a knife from his belt, he sliced Vito’s palm and let the blood drip into the pit before throwing him aside. There was a momentary puff of black smoke, before Fafnir reached down to grab the items.

Here.” Placing the items back into the box, Fafnir placed it before him. “They are now linked, the job is complete.” Once again sat upon his throne, the king simply went back to drinking.

Thank you, King Fafnir.” He stood, feeling weary and beat. One of the workers offered Vito a bandage, which he gratefully accepted. Taking his newly acquired items and wound, he left the building and returned to his ship.

'I need to stop coming here, I always end up loosing blood one way or another.'

Edited by Rabbit

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The walk back to his ship was daunting, the ritual had taken a much higher toll than previously expected. Accompanied with the blood loss and large burn, the raider was just about ready to call it a day. Climbing aboard and lowering himself into the hull, he proceeded to immediately treat his injuries. Attempting to self stitch the cut shut and applying various herbal remedies to his burns, Vito pondered how Fafnir could achieve such feats. Able to enchant such powerful items and receive no damage from the intense heat of the firepit, the rumors surrounding him seemed to all hold some truth. 

‘Okay, let’s hope these stitches don’t repeatable break. It’s going to be a painful few days, just gonna have to keep things basic and boring. I need to get everything ready for this hunt, Olfin still hasn’t got back to me with the map. Fuuuuuuuuuuuuck.’

With his wounds now semi-treated he began to organise and store his goods, making space for his newly purchased weapons. A ballista of the size he ordered easily took up a quarter of the hull, as well as the top deck. In the end, Vito decided to dedicate a large portion of the ship to weapons and armaments. With the lower deck ready, the ballista could be installed. Allowing for Vito to lower and raise it at will, via the main hatch. With most jobs done and feeling like shit, the raider called it a day. Sitting atop his bed, he rubbed the back of as it cracked with every movement. Pondering the possibilities of this hunt, he lay down and quickly let his tiredness take over.

~~~

The second day didn’t bring about much, restocking the ships supplies and basic training alongside Floki. Deshi was kind enough to allow Vito to train in The Sancrum, however her obsession with beasts meant she spent most of her time playing with his mount. The training was simple, mostly lance based fighting techniques and aerial based archery and maneuvering. He then proceeded to spend some hours relaxing in town and spending time with the locals, only to find the inevitable battle looming over him to be to much of a burden. With such an unproductive day, he opted to return to his ship and continue drug development.

~~~

The third finally brought what he’d been after. The morning was met with a swift delivery and installation of his new ballista, along with the various bolts and javelins. With the installation complete, Vito circled his new toy with glee. The large mounted turret was essential to the upcoming hunt, alongside the vakar ammunition. Even the strongest dragon would have issues defending themselves, a powerful set of equipment well earned and soon to be well used.

‘Perfection, now all I need is the fucking map and I’m all set’

Departing from his ship, Vito hurriedly made his way to the barracks and quickly finding his way to Olfin’s favorite training area. Thankfully, years of serving the Cavecrest town had given him a good reputation. Allowing him access to most areas, within reason. The raider found Olfin training what appeared to be newcomers, much younger and dwarfed in size by the alpha guard. Olfin looked at Vito, and without a word handed him a tied up map. Its contents sealed, only for the raiders eye. 

“This one won’t be easy, I’d take at least a small platoon personally. But I won’t tell you how to hunt.” With one quick word, Olfin went back to teaching. The small group of students all attempting to take on Olfin in melee combat, failing as a group. Vito walked away without a word, knowing what Olfin said to be true. But he didn’t have the resources to afford a crew, making this a solo run. With the day still young and nothing more to do, Vito set sail.  Ready to embrace the jaws of death.

Edited by Rabbit

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Vicennial


Background Music (If you so choose) - Link

 

The Badlands, a nightmarish place for Vito. Sand, heat and horrible creatures. The day was like any other in the Wasteland, overbearing. The sun sat right above him, the light embracing his burning soul. The Pathfinder hovered a few meters above the ground, surveying the surrounding area for various threats. The many ridges were home to a great number of enemies, such as trap ants and pseudoscorpions. The intense heat radiated off the sand could still be felt from so far up, even inside of his cabin. After thirty minutes, Vito brought his ship in for a landing. Nestling it between two ridges, hidden from potential threats. Regardless of the small canon fodder, the raider was here for a much bigger target. A dragon, believed to be in an elder stage.

Once secured in place, he opened up the main hatch and raised the ballista. Housting the chains, their loud clanking echoing across the land. Giving the bracchium a quick oil and polish, ensuring his new toy was ready for the hunt. He lined the various javelins on a nearby rack, ready to be grabbed and loaded at a moments notice. Floki lay on the front deck, basking in the sun. Dragging a table outside, Vito opened up the map Olfin had given him, examining the various detailed paths and boundaries marked out. 

‘Nice to know my reputation has finally helped out, even if they have sent me to fight such a big fucking beast.’

The dragon was notorious amongst Cavecrest, having a reputation for destroying scouting parties and treasure hunts that enter the desert. A large sum has been placed on its head, a growing sum that hasn’t been collected for over twenty years. Now named Vicennial, the undying monster has taken many hunters. A rule came into Cavecrest that prevented novice hunters from going after such dangerous foes, something Vito had spent over a year trying to get by.  Now finally having Olfin’ blessing, he was ready to take down the beast.                                                                                                                                               

ACE-E.png

The blue X represented Vito’s current location, the black circle is the believed territory of the dragon, the black X the estimated den location and the red lines frequent observed flight paths. Based on what Vito could tell about the flight paths, the dragon was in a comfortable position. Its territory was small for a dragon and it barely traveled outside of it. Trying to come up with plots on how to lure the beast into some sort of trap, the raider instead opted to scout out the area on Floki.  Grabbing his gear and arming himself with a vakar javelin, he dropped down and began circling around his current location.  He let out a whistle to summon his mount, which Floki begrudgingly answered.

‘Jesus, this fucking heat. Shouldn’t keep straying so far away from home, despite the big rewards that come with it.I guess this’ll be home for a while. Best get used to it, don’t wanna be caught slacking.’ He thought to himself in a sarcastic tone.’ 

Patrolling the surrounding area, things were surprisingly quiet. Other than one pseudoscorpion which was quickly dispatched of, and soon to become lunch, everything was good. Vito currently sat just a mile off the supposed den of the dragon, waiting in hopes to get a glimpse of it. However, with nightfall soon approaching and the cold creeping in he wasn't sure how much longer he had before he'd be forced to return home. His plan was simple, watch the dragon flight paths for a week in hopes of seeing a pattern. Dragon were much smarter than people gave credit for. Not to mention with age comes wisdom, which was all to true with most draconic creatures. If rumors were true, and this was an elder dragon, then Vito would have to have his wits about him.

'Come on, let's see if that green bastard is right.'

Edited by Rabbit

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He sat there till dusk, the sun just setting below the horizon. The quiet landscape slowly becoming void of light, the orange hue of the light just barely making the rocky landscape visible. He let out a deep sigh, unsuccessful in his attempt to spot the dragon. With a sluggish nature he began his journey back to the ship, not wanting to be caught out in the bitter desert night. Once back, he began locking down the ship and general night time preparations before heading to bed.

‘Welp, fuck that. Gonna have to set up a small outpost nearer the location, can’t trek there and sit in that heat all day. End up getting myself killed.’

~~~

The next day Vito took  basic camping equipment and set up a small outpost near the believed spot of the dragons den, the outpost that inside a dip proving cover from the harsh sunlight. Peeking over, Vito looked over the area with a pair of binoculars. A pack of wild dogs scavenged around the sand, picking off a small rodent. Fighting over it’s remains, before a large male took it for himself. The group quickly made their way out of sight, continuing their little crusade of food. With the coast clear, Vito took ride and made a beeline straight for the suposide lair. 

Floki, take note. Next time, make sure I park closer to the fucking location.

Floki seemed both unimpressed and unresponsive a he climbed the mountain terrain, small avalanches of sand scattered below. Vito noticed a large predatory bird circling above mountain top, potentially enclosing its prey or an already dead meal. Upon arriving at the top of the small mountain, what the bird had found became apparent. A charred skeleton lay before Vito, its armor and weapon melted to its bones. What was once gold jewelry, seemingly alloyed with the steel. The body sat inside a crevice, resembling that of a giant clawed foot. Seemingly crushed, then burned. A few steps to the right sat a sleeping bag, lantern, firepit and journal. The small set up was covered in sand, looking as if animals had been picking at the various items. 

The raider took the journal, giving the cover a quick brush, skimmed over the various pages. The journal didn’t hold much other than the rambles of a cocky adventurer, essentially the writing of a teenager bitching about anyone and everyone. Towards the end it became apparent what the foolish man had gotten himself into, a harsh undeserved death for someone who simply wanted to be a great night. 


28/06/587

The exploration group have yet to return, despite the fact it's been over a week since they were due the guards won't send out more than a small unit of five. No one seems to really give a shit, claiming that my interference will only cause more issues. At time like this it shows how little they know.

01/07/587

Father took my ship, brother hasn’t returned from his mission, mother won’t stop grieving and Olfin won’t give me the chance. Stupid fucker won’t listen and recognise my skills, I’ve been training like a god for over a year and still treats me like a child. I may not be as strong as him, but I’m smarter. Idiot doesn’t know yet, but I’ve already copied the map and will slay the beast by myself.

08/07/587

Made it took the mountain, mount died halfway through but I still did it. I’m at the mountain top, directly above it. Gonna sneak in and slay the beast whilst it sleeps, the darkness be my friend. I'll slay that giant fucking lizard and prove to the green skin that i'm the superior warrior, dad'll have to give me my stuff back then.


The journal ends there, he life clearer followed shortly. To his left lay a small wooden box, ration packets scattered about picked clean. As the wind picked up the light smell of sulfur hit him, ash of the charred bones scattered around in the breeze. Tucking the journal into his cape, Vito made his way down the mountain side, following the map to the entrance. About a quarter of the way down, he came across a large cave.The surrounding walls covered in various claw marks and black ash. Floki began to get nervous, picking up of the scents of another beast. He paced around, staring into the cave.  

‘Nope, don’t like this at all’

Edited by Rabbit

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Vito smelled the air, smoke and decaying flesh was rife. Despite this, the cave felt lifeless. There was little to no sound, every footstep echoed down into the abyss. With a deep gulp, the raider began his journey downwards. Floki steadily followed behind, repeatedly staring back to the entrance.  With each falling rock Vito cringed, worried about alerting potential threats. With each step light became lesser, the blistering heat of the desert faded into a dark cold cave. A gentle breeze blew through, a pleasant cool feeling after the long journey was exactly what he needed. 

‘Dragon or not, I’m liking it in here more than out there.’

The tunnel seemed to make it way deep underground, the lower he got the damper everything became. Lighting his lantern, the abundance of flora became noticeable. Moss climbed around the walls and ceiling, small toadstools grew were they liked. A pile of bones and armor sat in the corner, cobwebs weaving the way around the internal structure. What could’ve once been a companion or enemy of the raider, now a home for the arachnids. Their armor was similar to the one up top, melted to the remains. The way they were facing seemed to indicate they were fleeing towards the exit, something confirmed by the scattering of weapons further ahead. 

‘Hmm, died fleeing. Can’t say I blame you, but I do not plan to die running away.’

After ten more minutes of walking, the raider eventually came to a disappointing ending. The cave was long, dark and covered in bioluminescent moss. Putting out his lantern, he proceeded to examine the cave. The floor was wet sand, his boots sank a little and he way his way to the centre. There was nothing, just an empty abandoned cave. He let out a deep sigh, Floki still refused to enter the cave itself. He smelled the sand, slowly digging it up. Vito was unsure of what his mount wanted, but left him be. The raider leaned against a wall, pondering what to do. Wondering about whether or not the beast still lives, or its potential location. He suddenly noticed a strange feeling, the wall was softer than stone. There was a slight twitching from beneath his palms, before the rock began lifting. Within a split second, he raider hand was leaning against an open eye. The sand began lifting, a giant hand crashed its way down beside Vito.

‘Oh fucking hell, oh god no.’

With little hesitation and the feeling of dread coursing through his body, he jumped on Floki and fled out the cave. A deep cursed roar echoed, a sound like none other he’d ever heard. He could feel the low pitch vibration sending his body numb, paralyzing him for a brief moment. Once at the entrance, he looked back in the cave. The beast giant head turned the corner, the first glimpse he could get of his hunt. Its scales seemed to be fused, multiple horns seemed to circle around its head, it had an underbite with several protruding teeth and its skin had large glowing red patches. As it opened its mouth Vito tapped Flokis sides, signalling the retreat. As they jumped out of range, the dragon unleashed a cindering roar. The heat turning the stones red and white, the smoke gushing outwards. 

The two retreated back towards the airship, traversing the terrain at high speeds. As he looked back, the beast had emerged from its cave. Its wings opened, expanding far enough to partially block out the suns raise. As it took to the sky and climbed high, it quickly caught up shot down towards Vito. Swerving in and out of the various crevices and dunes, it was slowly looking hopeless. A second wave of fire made its way overhead, the heat setting his cloak on fire. Patting it out, it wasn’t long till he was back at the ship.

‘Thank fuck, thank fuck and thank fuck.’

Running to the ballista, he loaded up a vakar javelin and targeted the beast. Like a shark, it circled the ship. To far away to get a good enough shot, blocking any chance of escape. Vito could feel his own heartbeat in the palms of his hands, his legs shaking and face covered in sweat. Vicennial suddenly dropped, making a beeline straight towards him. Vito held his breath, waiting for the beast to open its jaws. He’d fire straight into the throat, killing it instantly. As it got closer and closer, it finally opened up. Vito pulled the trigger, the vakar projectile shot. Missing. Instead, hitting the beast in the humerus of the left wing. The beast screamed in pain, tilting mid flight and crash landing meters away from the skip. Taking more vakar javelins and arming his crossbow with vakar bolts, Vito leapt into action. Ready to finish Vicennial off. 

‘Breath moron, don’t lose focus of the target.’

Edited by Rabbit

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Once at the crash site, the reality of the dragons true size came into check. Floki wasn’t even an 8th of the tail length, just short of the dragons head. Its overgrown teeth protruding from its jaw, scorched from years of fire. Vicennial managed to regain composer, turning to face Vito. It back up a couple, giving the duo a low pitch snarl. A stare off occurred, Vito now the one circling the prey. He attempted to edge closer slowly, but met with a near death. The dragon unleashed yet another wave of fire, a nearly fatal encounter. Just barely managing to avoid the heat, his cloak lit up. He threw it to the ground, he prepared for another go until he noticed something. Its fire had dwindled, clearly running low.

‘Starting to get tired already? Hmm, clearly not used to prolonged combat. Must be used to taking out its foes quickly, so lets prolong it.’

Vito continuously circled the beast, trying to tire it out. Edging closer, only retreating back to avoid a fiery death. The dragons speed was in now way slow, but nowhere near Floki’s speed. With each blast it became weaker, eventually reducing down to nothing more than a spark. With Vicennial out of ammo, Vito went in for a frontal assault. Aiming for the eye, Vito fired a vakar bolt. It hit its target with perfection, puncturing the eye and blinding it. It clawed at its eye, failing to remove the embedded projectile. Dismounting from Floki, the drake proceeded to jump and claw at the dragon’s face. With the distraction underway, the raider took a vakar javelin and stabbed it into the beasts throat. It cried out in pain, knocking Vito to the ground as swung around. 

My fucking neck!" He yelped, bringing himself to his feet. 

Taking his final javelin, he aimed for the underbelly. He attempted to get close, but found himself be flung across the battlefield. The beasts tail swung around and smacked into Vito right arm, an enormous crack as it broke. His arm went limp, his body went numb. The world seemed to spin, a ringing drowned out all other sounds. Out of the corner of his eye, he watched as Vicennial through Floki against the ground. He took a shallow breath, trying to muster some strength. Taking the javelin in his left hand, he toward the dragons head. Vicennial lowered his head, ready to swallow Floki whole. As he did, Vito jumped onto the beasts neck then lodged his weapon under the dragon’s scale and into the spine. The beasts flailed around, trying out in pain. Destroying multiple sand mounts and rock faces, trying to claw at his neck but failing. With the last of his might, Vito pried the javelin upwards. With all the leverage and might mustered inside of him a crack finally came, followed by the sudden collapse of the draconic titan.

“‘Weaze’ Fucking-gotcha-BITCH!” As he looked down, he noticed he’d managed to pry off one the scales. Taking it as evidence, he lugged his way back to the ship. “Floki, FLOKI COME ON!” Floki got to his feet with a wobble, both appeared to be in shitty place. The ship was thankfully nearby, one in air Vito set course for Cavecrest. The journey was short but painful, his arm had turned black with bruising. He was violently shaking, wanting to vomit and losing consciousness. Once back, he brought his ship in for docking. To his surprise, Olfin was there to greet him at the docks. Strolling down plank, dragging his lifeless arm, greeted the orc warrior.

“You look like complete shit, guessing it didn’t go well.” There was emotion on his face, Vito couldn’t tell if he was concerned or being sarcastic. Regardless, he didn’t care.

No, I fucking killed the giant fucker. Roughly 2600km south of its den, it lays dead.” He through the enormous scale to Olfin’s feet, which he promptly picked up to examine.  

“Hmm, congratulations on an impressive hunt. I believe you, but naturally I’ll have to send out a team to retrieve the body. For now-” Vito’s vision suddenly faded, he felt his body drop to the ground.
~~~

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As Vito awoke, he was greeted to an all too familiar sight. The barracks medical bay, sat beside the bed was Scrilly. Sleeping, his snoring probably the culprit which woke him up. Sitting up and stretching, he spotted Floki’s sleeping by the foot of his bed snoring like the old timer. The raider suddenly noticed something, his arm had fully recovered. Feeling it, he was confused. It could feel and move, but it didn’t feel like his. With the quiet of the room, he heard ticking. Slow and faint, but it was there.

Quick to realise, aren’t we?” He turned to face Scrilly, rubbing his eyes. “They asked me to wait and watch over you, keep track of your arm.”

How long have I been asleep?” 

Nearly a week, that dragon put you in a rough state. Not to mention how many missions you’ve been doing back to back, little to no rest in between. The fact you survived is a miracle, but we had people back to back watching over you. Even Fafnir chipped in.

“I’ll make sure to thank everyone on the way out, glad to know people here have my back.” 

Oh no, they’ll be thanking you. After all, you got rid of Vicennial. A lot of folks had family consumes by the beast, whilst we’ll never find all the bodies they’ll find some comfort.” There was a brief pause as Scrilly rose to his feet. “Your arm did not make it I’m afraid, had to be replaced. Enchanted clockwork, made from the bones of the dragon you slayed. The material is all living, it’ll take a while to get used too but it’ll happen. Stuffs in the chest in the foot of your bed, once you’re ready go see Olfin.” With that Scrilly left the room, leaving him in silence.

‘My fucking head, FUUUUUuuuuck.’

He grasped his head, a splitting pain ran through his skull for a few seconds before subsiding. Taking a deep breath, he brought his feet to the ground and made his way over to the chest. Once re-geared, he gave Floki a pat on the head and health check. It was clear were scales had been damaged and re-grown, but overall no permanent damage from first glance. Making his way through the barracks and out to the courtyard, he was relieved to get some fresh air. Well, as fresh as Cavecrest gets. Olfin was in his usual training spot, turning around once he heard the door shut.

“Alive, that’s good. You dropped to the ground right in front of me, had to drag your lazy ass all the way here.”

Don’t act like I haven’t had to drag you, but god forbid we ever talk about those moments.” 

“No, we don’t. All your rewards are onboard your ship, Ye said he’d store them in your room. One from me, one from Fafnir and a good portion of high quality dragon material. It was a good specimen, hope you use them well. Your arm was made by the blacksmiths and Scrilly, make sure to thank them on your way out.”  He immediately went back to training, something Vito had learned to leave him to. He felt his, still a phantom to him.

Vito made a brief stop through town before returning to his ship, ensuring to thank as many people as possible. He found himself equally thanked back, receiving small rewards along the way. Once back at his ship, carrying many baskets on produce, he immediately went to his room to inspect his rewards. Feeling far too excited for his new toys, he opened up the heavy metal container. Stuffed into the box was hundreds of dragon scales, bones and vials of dragon blood.

 Sat on top were two packages, one small and large in a blanket of linen. Opening the larger one, a large pelt cloak. A small note read ~Chimera leather cloak, may it serve you well in battle.~ ‘Definitely Olfin’s gift.’  The raider thought to himself. Raping it round himself, the comfort and quality was without a doubt the highest he’d ever owned. Surprisingly light, though still heavier than his prior one. Opening the smaller package, he was greeted to a metal bracelet. The ends resembled dragon heads, seemingly enchanted. Attached was a note reading ~May this bond you too your beasts.~ ‘And that’s Fafnir’s.'  Taking a seat on his bed, he put the bracelet on then held his right arm. The faint ticking, almost acting as a reminder to his past.

‘Really need to step up my game, might not make it next time.'


End

Edited by Rabbit

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