Chapter 18 – “Test Drive”
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The next few days passed peacefully.
Kale took charge of teaching Liza language just like with me.

It's certainly going to be a harder task, since Liza doesn't have a genetic memory to cheat off of.

As for me, without having anyone always bothering me, I was feeling kind of bored.
There's nothing like TV here, so the only thing I have to pass time is playing with children.

And I can't really call that fun, it's only fun for them while they're trying to ride me.
Plus, human transformation is still immensely uncomfortable and I can't really enjoy being transformed to play actual games with them.
They would just try to make me change back to let them on me anyway.

Now that I think about it, they haven't even cared about me ever since I returned with Liza.
They are all playing with that baby lizard instead of me.

I should be happy they aren't swarming me and restricting my movement but for some reason I actually feel jealous.
It's even using its gravity magic to make them all float and fly around.

Forget it, what I should be doing is appreciating the peace I have.
Right now, they're fighting over which one of them Shade likes the most.

Some of them are even cheating and offering him food.
Obviously that little scammer is just going to go for whoever is holding the most food.

I chose to ignore them and found a nice, clear spot to finish practicing my flight.

I fall and fall, but eventually it happens!

I'm finally flying!
Once I'm confident with moving around in the air, I go up higher and enjoy the view down at the land.
Thank god I'm not scared of heights, but that might just be because I have wings.

The wind hitting my face doesn't even bother me like I thought it might, nor do I feel like I have to close my eyes when I'm moving fast.
I thought I was going to be bored forever, but flying is fun!

The wind rushes past me as I flit over trees for hours before coming down.
As I get closer to the ground, I realize... I never practiced how to land!

I hit the dirt with a loud thud but luckily I didn't break my legs or anything like that.
As I looked around, I notice I landed where this all started.
My former home cave was now abandoned and empty, but I still take some time to appreciate it.

--- Jora Village

The village was peaceful and no longer had any natural threats, but peaceful times are never permanent.
Soon after Lava left, a group of bandits invaded the village.

Kale quickly gathered all the children inside the orphanage building, including the little Abyssalix.

"Listen up, you trash! You're all gonna search desperately for anything valuable in this worthless place!" The lead of the bandits yells with a smug grin, "And don't even imagine leaving anything out!"

Suddenly, Kale jumps out and tries to stop them on his own.

"The hell is this?" One of the side bandits cackles, "Go back to bed before we turn your lights out, you damn fossil! You look like no one's dusted you off in fuckin' years!"

"Shut your traps, dastardly vermin! I still have enough left in me to send you flying!" Kale retorts before trying to cast <Shockwave> at the villains.

The leader pulls out a wide sword with runic engravings on the blade, and the magic dissipates before reaching them.
He punches Kale to the ground before following him with the sword.

"It's useless, old man! This here is a dragonslayer, none of your feeble magic can reach me! So die!"
He swings his sword down towards Kale, but Mino blocks it.

"What is a lowly bandit doing with one of those?!" He says.

"It was a very nice gift. But is that really your problem right now?" The leader laughs evilly, "Boys! Go get some of the children and show these fools what happens when they try to resist!"

"No! You stay away from them!" Kale screams as the bandits storm towards where the kids are hiding.

Before they can reach it, they are blocked by Liza.

"What is an Abyssalix doing here?" One of them stutters.

"Who cares? Just hurry up and kill it!" Another encourages.

Their weapons suddenly become too heavy to hold properly due to the Abyssalix's gravity magic and they are sent flying with a tail swipe.

"Tsk, you're all worthless if you can't even beat a lizard!" Their leader scolds angrily as he kicks Mino away.
"We don't have time for this. We'll be back for all of you once we finish what we really came to do! You'll never be able to forget The Red Blades for as long as you live!"

With that, the bandits flee towards the mountain, leaving the villagers to panic over when they will return.

"Where's Lava?!" Kale observed.

"How should I know, I haven't seen her in a few hours..." Mino answered.

"We have to go find her right now! Now!" Kale panics.

"You are too much of a fool for your age. Have you forgotten?" Mino sighed.

"Forgot what?"

"Lava is a dragon! I'm sure she's fine." Mino said, hoping for him to stop being stressed.

"They have a dragonslayer! Of course it's not fine!" He yelled.

"Don't you have any faith at all? That thing has the absolute minimum a sword needs to be called a dragonslayer." Mino replies.

"But we still-"

"We have to prepare for their return. Leaving to go find her will put everyone in danger." Mino interrupted.

"Fine." Kale conceded.

--- Lava

I was done with flight training and ready to head back, but when I turned back around I was faced with four shady looking men.

"Haha! It's smaller than we were told, this'll be an easy payday!" The biggest one laughs as he pulls out a large sword. "I'll take it down myself! The rest of you make sure it can't run away!"

Excuse me, what?

I wanted to ignore him and run away but I'm getting bad feelings when I look at that sword.
It's engraved with many runic symbols associated with absorbtion.

Unfortunately dragons didn't know anything extensive about runes, all of them probably thought something along the lines of 'Look what humans need to mimic a fraction of our power'.

They surrounded me far enough apart that I couldn't focus on all of them.
Then the biggest one charged at me with the sword.

I jumped back just in time to dodge.

I don't know what they want with me.
Was hunting dragons just common? Maybe they were mistaking me for my mother?

I'm not even getting a chance to talk, it's just slash, slash, slash!

"<Sleep Bullets>!" I cast.
It's not very creative, but it gets the job done.
I don't want to do too much damage if this is some kind of misunderstanding.

The bolts of magic disappear before they even get close.

Does that sword just nullify all magic?! How do I win without doing too much?!

I'm dodging worse every time, if only I had more combat experience!
I try to hit him away, but one of the swings slashes through me and leaves a shallow gash.

It really hurts!

Nothing happens.
I'm not used to having to think while in pain, luckily I manage <Pain Nullification> before I'm in danger of getting hit by another slash.

I don't have time to figure out why I can't heal.
I can't afford to hold back anymore.

I stop and unleash the first strong attack I can think of, which is a classic breath attack.

A bright, burning stream of fire flies towards the attacking man, but it too turns to embers and dissipates.
My breath is magic too? So unfair!

But as he charges forward he still gets small burns from a few embers in the air, which gives me an idea.

I just have to attack indirectly!
That's easier said than done, though.

"Stop running, you overgrown lizard! I'll clobber you just like that old man!" He yells at me in frustration.

Old man? Clobber? You've done this to my home too? How dare you beat up such a nice old man!

I'm trying my hardest to think, while at the same time barely dodging hits with the help of <Luck>.
I learned that from Ria's friend during the talent tournament.
Doesn't feel like it's actually manipulating fate or anything, it just seems like it's physically affecting things to appear as what I perceive as being lucky.

After a few moments of narrowly evading attacks I got an idea.

I swipe at him with my claws to get him to move back.
As expected, he charges straight in and takes a wide swing.
It's time!

"<Water Wall>! ... <Freeze>!" With three words, a wall of water appears in front of me, and just as the sword slices through it, it freezes solid, locking the sword in place.
If I got the timing wrong even a little, the water would have been dispelled and fallen before it could freeze.

After pushing him away from his sword and thawing the block of ice, I toss the sword away.

And to clean up, I use a spell to spray water over all of my attackers and then,

Suddenly, to my own surprise, glowing cords of Mana shoot out and they are seemingly electrocuted for a few seconds before falling.
I did not expect it to actually look like a tazer, but I guess spell activation is also affected heavily by mental image.
Was the water not necessary? Whatever, who cares if it might be a little more painful.

I was lucky the rest weren't attacking me at the same time, they probably overestimated my ability to multitask or were way too confident in their leader.

Now, how to carry all this trash back with me?
There's no way they're going on my back, only friends get to be there.

I settled on using <Gravity> to float them back, and soon I reenter the village.
I brought the sword with me too, since it seemed valuable.

I'm instantly hugged on my chest when Gramps sees me.

"You're safe! What's that wound? Which one of them did this to my poor little dragon!" Gramps mumbles.

"Who are you calling little? I'm bigger than you!" I protested.

"You're still a growing dragon." He pushes.

There were still the bandits to deal with.
They are laying there where I dropped them completely blacked out.
The villagers help me tie them up, and take the opportunity to kick them a few times.

I'm not sure how I'll get any information out of them, but trying to go back into transformation is a really bad idea, I just found out the hard way that the shallow cut on my normal body turns into a deep hole if I transform.

But I still had no idea why I couldn't heal it, until I saw what seemed like metallic powder in the cut.
The sword must be coated with something special to interfere with magic healing.

Eventually the bandits start waking up.

"Agh, I'm alive? The village saved us?" One of them stammers.

They must think the villagers saved them or something, but that idea fades when they see me still there.

"Aah! They're working for the dragon!" He screams and starts fighting the restraints.
I suppose it's better for me if they think that and not that I just live here...

"Now, tell us why you're here." Mino demands.

"I'll never tell you peasants anything! Fuck off and kill me!" The leader yells.

"Are you sure about that?" I lower to growl in his face. "Do you want to be zapped again? Or would you rather something worse?"

His demeanor is quite weak without something overpowered to carry him.

"Okay! Okay! Stop! Lord Saer told us to come slay the dragon that lives in the cave here! That's all we know!" He screams.

"So he thought this would help us? Why did he send bandits?" Gramps says, before Mino smacks his head.

"Have some wisdom befitting your age, old man!" Mino scolds.

"That guy really wants this village to disappear then..." I ponder. "He hoped the beasts would overrun the village once the dragon that kept them in check was gone."

I'll have to deal with that lord later, first I need to heal and get rid of these guys.

"All of you get out of here, and don't even think about coming back!" I roar at them.

I would much rather them just flee instead of giving them the chance to tell any arresting authorities about me.
At the very least no one would believe them if they just went around telling people, and I'm going to end up having to fight whoever they are working for anyway.

They ran faster than I ever thought they would be able to.

Since I can't magically heal, Gramps pretty much forces everyone to hand over whatever cloth they have to make a bandage big enough to fit me.
Then the children run out and start celebrating and trying to praise me themselves by rubbing and petting me.

I never thought I would miss this kind of attention.
I look up to see the baby Abyssalix glaring at me like it's angry.

I mean, he's always angry. It's not hard to make him mad.
You just want to scam them out of more treats anyway...