Chapter 25 - Close Call With A Dragon
The two forests were inhabitant by spiders and I already had an Idea of whose spiders those were. I chose this exact direction to start my journey in because it was where I expected my starting area to be.
Together with my wardens we went over the data and experiences of my travel through the mana tubes and calculated that the starting point would be somewhere around here. And low behold I have some evidence that helps me convince myself that our calculations weren’t wrong.
Before I flew down for landing I first took a cruise around the area. The scenery seemed to hold quite powerful monsters and I didn’t want to end up in the clutches of some primordial beast without a PP, Panic Plan.
Halfway through my flight, I noticed a location that seemed quite similar to what I was searching for, the starting area. Though the random and idyllic mountain range from before had developed in a hellscape of volcanos and firestorms.
Magma constantly spewed forth from the peaks of the volcanos and ashes were covering the molten ground. In the center of the apocalyptic scenery, I could see a large crater, apparently, something had, after my leave, crashed into the nice countryside.
And because of the object's high mana density, which was still tensible, the area surrounding the crash landing had evolved into a horrific paradise. While, surely, the area looked uninhabitable, millions of creatures were flocking around below me and even taking to the skies.
Especially the last part was what convinced me to quickly turn around before I intruded on someone's territory that I couldn’t take on.
And just then, as I had predicted, a roar went through the volcanic paradise. For just a second it was very quiet, even the large number of powerful creatures were silenced. From behind one of the larger volcanos, a gigantic winged beast showed itself.
It was roughly four times as large as me and reminded me of the drakelings I had once seen in the area. Apparently, those little fellas had evolved quite spectacularly. Around 100 meters (330 feet) from head to tail with a main-wingspan of 60 meters (200 feet), to the third one at 20 meters (70 feet).
That the creature was even able to fly was a mystery in itself, though maybe it used the uplift created by the boiling gases to stay afloat, similar to my hot air balloons. In its shape, the creature was quite serpentine though I was sure it had dragon blood within itself. The same blood that ran through my own veins, in my current form and allowed me to stay in the air with my own massive size.
Luckily I knew what the creature was called and of which Tier it was, thanks to a neat little trick I learned with my man sense. Apparently, every creature's base information was inscribed on its core and accessible if one only knew how. The two named information were quite easy to get to though everything further used up an enormous amount of mana to break through the natural defenses.
Once the Tier 8 weak, wuxinglóng, was in front of me, the battle started. I used my smaller size to my advantage and dove under the quick lunge of the long giant. What I didn’t take into account during my evasive maneuver was the dragon's flexibility.
As I thought I had a second to prepare my own attack I was surprised by the massive head closing in on my tail. The massive teeth were close to ripping off my steering wing though I escaped with a clever trick.
I instantly transformed into a displacer kantast and escaped the sharp teeth, to pay the best back for trying to get a piece of me I sent a cloud of shadow to disorient the creature. In the brief moment I had when the dragon was trying to escape the shadow mana obstruction I came to the conclusion the I wouldn’t be able to defeat this monster if I held anything back.
Quickly changing my form into that of a boring behir I struck the monster with a strike of metal-lightening. Once the strike hit the creature, the sound of a gong going of resounded through the crater. Closely followed by the agitated roar of a colossal beast.
The dragon had enough and with a burst of fire restored the balance of the battlefield. Surprised by the sudden explosion I didn’t see the dragon's head closing in on me and was thrown out of the air by a heavy hit.
My left-wing of the pure nargacuga form was heavily strained and I feared it would break if put under further strains. I quickly displaced higher into the air as not to crashland into the boiling lava lakes.
Meanwhile, the dragon in the air was preparing a blazing fireball, which was aim directly at me. As the ball of fire and magma was beginning its journey I tried to get out of the way of the projectile.
When I realized that a collision was inevitable I transformed into an elemental human. Manipulation the mana from the ball I tried to change its trajectory. After a lot of sweating and furrowed eyebrows, that were now even singed, I was able to knock the ball of course.
Seeing this, the dragon opted for another collision, hoping that this one too would work as well as the last.
Meanwhile, I prepared an ingenious scheme. Using the natural light manipulation of the heat shimmer of the lava together with the illusion capabilities of the displacer kantast I let the ground seem farther away than it actually was.
The dragon again increased his nosedive speed by using fire mana to increase his thrust. 5 km (3 miles) turned into 3 (1,8 miles) and then 1 (0,6 miles), at the end the long beast was just a bright streak in the sky, headed exactly for me.
Just as the beast was upon me I sacrificed the tentacles of my deep aboleth to get my main body away from the diving giant. Once the beast was past me and beginning to slow down from the dive, expecting to still have a kilometer (0,6 miles) to go it crashed into the lake below.
An explosion ran through the crater and a lava tsunami consumed the coastline. Debris and blobs of lava filled the air, only to crash down, riddling the ground. It took quite a while until everything had calmed down, and after sighting the beast's body I carefully flew down.
To my surprise, the creature was still alive and breathing, though it looked worse for wear. The wings were a wreck and I was sure it wouldn’t be able to fly for the foreseeable future.
While I inspected the creatures, or at least what was visible to me, I was yanked off my feet from behind. I thought that the dragon's tail had been severed during the landing but apparently, it used the appendage to backstab me.
I was thrown around and the tight grip around my feet made it impossible for me to transform into another creature. First to go were my wings, the bones were quickly shattered and an unlucky rock quickly severed them for me.
Next were my rib bones and tail, they shattered into dozens of splitters and riddled my intestines. Slowly I was losing my consciousness and giving in to the immense pain I felt. My eyelids were closing and I gave up, clearly having lost to a clever backstab.
At least I was able to heavily injure the dragon. As I was just about to give up on life and hope burning my cultivation would be enough to bring my soul back to my dungeon I was dropped on the ground.
I expected to be picked up in a second to be thrown against some other surface but was a disappointment. The only thing that happened next was a resounding tremor going through the ground and then everything was quiet.
After a while of total silence, I could feel numerous tiny tremors disturbing the calmness before death. My body way picked up gingerly and I could feel my wounds slowly healing up from some external source.
It was just then that I lost consciousness for good and my mind stopped working for some time.
I awoke, trying to open my eyes through a splitting headache that was making itself noticeable. Shutting my eyes closed again I went through the same process again, though slower.
Slowly I took sight of my surroundings, I found myself in some kind of hanging platform made out of a sturdy string. The net was somehow able to hold my whole weight while still feeling comfortable.
Once I had taken a look at my immediate surroundings I tried to spot the moving things farther ahead. After concentration for a while, I found out these moving bodies were some form of a many-legged creature with a hard carapace.
The shock from the realization that I was in a spider nest, surrounded by tens of thousands of them was too much for me. Together with the headache and the deep injuries I again fell into a deep slumber.
This time I stood up in a rush, some of the deeper wounds opened up again and I could smell the scent of fresh blood. I hastily took a look at my surroundings to assure myself that I was really in the center of a spider nest and somehow still alive, even well.
Just as I wanted to jump off the edge and flee this nightmare I was stopped by the caring touch of a large spider. I identified her to be a Tier 5 peak Kind Giant aranea. Calming down from the shock I tried to communicate with the arachnid race.
After getting my thoughts together I realized that the spider was able to transform into a humanoid. So to be able to communicate with her I quickly took on the form of an elemental human, which she quickly mimicked.
Now that we were both able to talk to each other I asked her out about where I was and why I was here. Apparently, I was inside the Light arachnid kingdom, ruled by the Moneral Aranea. He was also the one that ordered my rescue from the dragon, impressed by my unique vast shapeshifting and show of power.
We continued talking and she explained to me that I would be completely safe here and that I would be taken care of until my wounds were completely sealed. I wanted to explore the kingdom for myself but the aranea forbid me from straining my body too much, the deepest cuts not yet having been healed completely and my bones were still brittle.
I could of course just ignore her wishes but I didn’t want to disrespect the kindness that was shown to me and start off on the wrong foot, diplomatically. This was an opportunity I could use to further my own rise to power and I was old enough to suppress my natural curiosity.
It took one week for everything to heal and for me to be finally allowed to go around the kingdom, though first I had to meet up with the king. My caretaker took me through the central district into the royal palace.
On a throne made of golden spider silk, a large spider lay patiently waiting for my arrival. The creature was at Tier 8 peak, even more, powerful than the dragon I had to fight earlier.
Though its strength wasn’t what stunned me. No, it was the flexible carapace, the glimmering eyes, and the calculating personality behind them. They seemed eerily similar to someone I had once before met but not seen until now!!!