The mages stood over the smoking corpse of the dragon for several moments before someone let out a happy cheer.
“WE DID IT!” A man yelled and then a round of cheers and hollers came from the others.
“Quiet, you fools!” I hissed at them and Mage Henrietta's grip on my arm tightened.
“They can't hear you.” She said, worry in her voice. “If you speak louder...”
I let out the Hag's favorite curse and moved to leave the hunting blind.
“No! You can't!” Mage Henrietta gasped and held on.
“I have to tell them to...”
“It's too late.” One of the weight mages said and pointed at another dragon coming from a different direction.
“I'll tell them.” The other weight mage said and ducked out.
“No!” I said too late as he ran out to shout and point, then he darted back in with us to hide. “You've just killed us all.” I spat at him.
“How? We're hiding!”
“A dragon can see us from a mile away when in the air.” I said with a sigh.
We all turned and looked at our approaching death, because there was nothing we could do now. The mages and construction crews did their best to adjust the Kracken Tubes for the new target and they actually managed to get off a single shot. Unfortunately, unlike the large male dragon that was a nice big target, a juvenile was much slimmer and the shot grouping wasn't nearly as close as it had been, because of the hasty repositioning.
Only three projectiles struck and it was only in non-vital areas, then the dragon swooped in and opened his mouth as the mages and construction crew scattered. It didn't roar or blow out a gout of flame breath, though. Instead, a noxious stream of green brackish smoke came out and hit one of the catapults and three of the Kracken Tubes.
“It's going to be worse than I thought.” I whispered as the cloud settled where it had been spat and everything inside of it started to rot and dissolve.
“It's acid breath.” Mage Henrietta whispered and I nodded.
“It won't be too bad, as long as the wind doesn't...” One of the weight mages whispered as the dragon, being quite a bit smarter than his father, looped around in a much tighter circle and then flapped his wings in rapid succession to make wind. It hit the acid cloud and it spread out to cover part of the second catapult and flowed towards the area that everyone else was hiding.
“Grab the Kracken Tubes and RUN!” Mage Lukas yelled at the combat mages and ran for the weapons that were undamaged.
“No, you fools!” Alex said loudly and ordered the people around him to retreat.
The young dragon let out a growl and turned towards him in the air. That was when I saw the healed damage on its side. It was the baby dragon that Alex and the others had hurt and it recognized Alex's voice giving commands.
You have a critical choice to make. This will change your standing in the army and your relationships with everyone.
A) Stay silent. B) Warn Alex. C) Do something. D) Do nothing. E) Retreat. F) Die. G) Accept fate.
No choose two? Dammit. I thought and didn't curse when I saw the timer pop up with five seconds on it. I am really going to regret this. I thought with a sigh. I choose C.
“I have to go.” I whispered to Mage Henrietta.
“You're going to save them all, aren't you?” She asked.
“No, I'm going to save my friends.” I said and she looked surprised.
“You mean me.” She whispered and turned to give me a kiss. “Do your best.”
“I have to or this will all be for nothing.” I said as the dragon let out another cloud of acid. Alex had been smart and had a nice barricade made for the catapult crews to hide under if they were attacked directly and the defense mages had cast a mage shield over it. The acid settled around it and melted and ate away everything around the barrier. It wasn't going to last, though.
“Then go with my blessing.” Mage Henrietta said and her hands glowed for a second. I felt her magic all over me and smiled as I felt a thin mage shield settle into my skin.
“Thank you.” I said and ducked out of the hunting blind. Even though she was watching me, I felt it when her eyes lost sight of me. I quickly drank a number seven potion, a number six, and a number four. By the time I had crawled twenty feet into the open towards the Kracken ammunition, I had to freeze still and let the feelings settle in.
My mind was sharper and gave me insight, my strength doubled and power flowed through my limbs, and the healing potion took away the growing headache and stiff muscles. I felt like I could take on the whole world and crawled like a spider on all fours, just like they taught me in basic training over the log obstacle. I made it to the Kracken ammunition and charged all of the weight enchantments myself in one go.
“Get out of here!” I said loudly to the mages. On purpose. I stood up with two of the projectiles in my hands.
“Stop! You'll get the dragon's attention!” Mage Lukas said as he used his sword to cut the tube out of the catapult bracket.
“I want it!” I said and readied to throw. “Now RUN! HEEEEY, DRAGON! Dragon, dragon, dragon!”
The young dragon flapped its wings and turned its head to me.
“Thanks for looking, sucker!” I said and activated the movement enchantment at its full capacity and threw the projectile as hard as I could.
The dragon flapped its wings and moved its head just enough to have the projectile miss its neck.
“Yeah, I knew single shots wouldn't work well.” I said and threw another, grabbed two more and kept driving the dragon away from where Alex was.
“Together.” Mage Lukas said and he held the tube next to me.
“Don't waste ammunition.” I said and threw another. “You saw how weak it was.”
“No, let me drive it and you throw where the dragon goes.” Mage Lukas said and shot.
The dragon dodged back and I understood. I used one hand to load his and readied to throw my own.
“Go!” I said and Mage Lukas fired. As the dragon flapped its wings to move back, I whipped mine to where it would be in a second and clipped one of its wings and a leg.
The dragon let out a roar of pain and turned to face us.
“I think its angry enough.” Mage Lukas said. “Keep firing!”
We did and it had learned our trick. Instead of dodging, it dropped to the ground and made itself a much smaller target. It also covered most of itself with its wings and we couldn't tell where its body was behind them.
“We're almost out of metal ammo.” I warned him and the dragon chose that moment to charge. Did it understand me? I asked myself and pushed Mage Lukas out of the way as I threw the projectile I had and jumped to the other side myself. I missed, since I wasn't really aiming and the dragon rumbled by and trampled the other ammunition and the Kracken Tubes that the mages were unable to dislodge.
Luckily, they had taken my advice and had run, unlike Mage Lukas, who was still there. I was too focused on staying alive to notice where the mages went.
“Now what?” Mage Lukas said.
“You need to stop moving and I need to do something really stupid.” I said and waved my hands at the dragon as it turned around, then ran over to the partially melted second catapult. I let out several of the Hag's curses as I kicked over a half-melted crate and the acid ate away part of my custom boot. I revealed the other stuffed boar that only had its hooves melted away and the small pouch with the two immolation potions was beside it, untouched.
I tucked the two potions into my bandoleer and grabbed the boar by the legs. I ignored the smell of my skin dissolving on both my foot and my hands. “Hey, stupid! Look what I have! It's dinnertime!”
“No!” A woman's voice gasped.
Thankfully, the dragon only had eyes for me. Calling it stupid made it very angry... and it didn't blow out any acid. It charged instead and I had to dodge and rolled over the broken crate.
I couldn't ignore the pain this time as the acid dissolved my shirt. “ARRRGGHHH!” I yelled and the dragon stopped dead. It slowly turned around and looked at me. I was hunched over and the skin on my back was bubbling and sliding off. Even though the Hag had spent well over a decade fortifying me and making me tough, acid was not something she could ever prepare me enough for.
It tromped over to me as if nothing else was around us and looked down at me. I looked up and shook the boar as if tempting it to eat it. It used its snout to bat the boar away and the sound of potion bottles smashing could be clearly heard.
“You knew, huh?” I asked it as it opened its mouth, almost in a smile. “This is going to hurt.”
“NOOOOOO!” A startled scream cut through the battlefield as the dragon's head darted forward and engulfed me.
Narration break initiated. Current character play suspended as external view is implemented. Please choose which character you would like to observe from.
A) Alex Smith. B) Mage Lukas. C) Mage Henrietta. D) Random mage. E) Random crewman.
Observe only? Goddammit. I thought with a sigh. Well, I think Mage Lukas has the closest view, Mage Henrietta has the widest view, and Alex has the best perspective view. I thought and considered the options. This is a tough choice, since it doesn't say if I'll experience it or just see it from their point of view.
I fell silent as I thought about it and since the narrative was on break, I took my time. A long time.
All right, I can't stay here forever while I try to choose. I thought with frustration. I'm tempted to try Mage Henrietta, just to see if she's really genuine in her feelings for me. Unfortunately, she's not a combat fighter and she won't see things close to how I'd see it, so I have to go with Alex. I choose A.
Alex looked upon the horror of the battlefield. Half melted men under his command had their bodies scattered around. Luckily, they had not suffered long as the acid quickly did its work. Combat mages not smart enough to run to the sides were squashed by the dragon as it trampled everything it could see.
The defensive mages had tried their best to keep the barrier intact for a lot longer than their combat ratings indicated and he was very grateful for that. The dragon had spewed out another acid cloud to cover them and until it settled, they couldn't move safely from their hiding spot. Not that they could, anyway.
The whole thing had become a complete mess after his friend David had been eaten. It was a stupid and reckless plan that only an idiot would even attempt. The fire suppression potions weren't going to work on an acid breather and he lamented the loss of his friend. All that was left of him was half of an acid burned boot and his foot that the dragon had, for some reason, chosen not to eat.
The combat mages, led by Mage Lukas, did their best to recover some of the ammunition from the other dragon and also used the older male's body as protection and to stay hidden. They tried to do David's amazing trick of throwing the damn things or using the broken tubes, only they were worse at throwing than David was. Or had been.
Alex took a deep breath and looked over to a half acid melted hunting blind that the non-combatants had been hiding behind. One of the weight mages was doing his best to cut off the melted arm of his brother before the acid spread any further. He couldn't even send over the healers until the acid around his position settled, since they all knew it dissolved anything that touched it, thanks to David.
He saw that Mage Henrietta wasn't doing anything to help and she just stood there, motionless. The acid had missed her by only inches and she hadn't run. She stood there and glared at the rampaging dragon with so much anger on her face that he wondered why the dragon hadn't burst into flames.
Then it did.
Alex stared as the dragon opened its mouth to roar and bright red fire shot out instead of acid. That was a surprise, until he realized the roar wasn't an angry one. It was pain!
He watched with baited breath as the dragon ignored the combat mages and started wandering around, almost at random. Its wings were damaged, so it didn't take off, either.
“I'm... spent.” One of the defensive mages managed to say and fell unconscious. The magical barrier weakened at just the wrong time, because the dragon chose that time to stumble towards them. It coughed and a gout of flame and acid came out of its mouth to partially cover them.
“ARRRRHHHH!” The other mage yelled and the barrier flickered at the magical pressure. It dropped completely a second later and the fire and acid covered the two defensive mages and three of the eight people with Alex.
“Run!” Alex ordered and the people still alive scattered. “Take off your boots when you're past the acid!” He said and looked down at why he couldn't point and discovered that his arm was gone from the elbow down. In the next instant, he teetered on his legs and fell backwards to the ground. When he looked to see what happened, he saw that acid had eaten away at his ankle. The foot was gone, too. It looks like I match you now, my friend. He thought and fell unconscious before the pain hit him.