71. Enlisting An Ancient’s Help
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Xamrus Arcnight could hardly recognize the Grand Dungeon’s first floor as he flew out of the stone tunnel and was greeted by an endless meadow of lush grass with the occasional outcropping of white trees. Usually, the dragons would gather around the floor tower in the far distance, but with most of the eggs destroyed, there was little need for that now. Ever since the prison break and the subsequent hunt on the elusive necromancer that had netted the dragons a hefty loss, a grim mood was all that could be found here.

Dragon corpses that had been turned undead were piled off to the side, some burned, others chained down for research purposes. Xamrus let out a sigh of regret as he flew by. The dragons hadn’t suffered a loss in a thousand years, and when a dragon’s pride was hurt, they chose to blame others rather than themselves.

Because the Arcnight and Arcsnow family lost the most dragons to this conflict with the necromancer, they were seen as the weak link. Which was true. The loss of many family members to the necromancer’s clutches caused both families to plummet down the social hierarchy. As a result, other smaller families seized the opportunity to finally look down on those who had been above them for generations.

Locating a group of senior dragons like himself gathered in a circle, Xamrus cleared his mind and gathered his courage. Despite having a few Elders in the family, the loss of many Hatchlings and Seniors left the future of the Arcnight family looking grim.

“Xamrus.” An orange-scaled dragon a bit larger than himself sneered as he landed beside him. “Glad a member of the Arcnight family could finally join us. Still think you can show up late?” A few months ago, an Arcflame would never dare talk to an Arcnight in such a manner. The Arcflame dragon still had to be careful with his words since there was an Ancient ancestor in the Arcnight family, something the Arcflame family lacked. But the Arcnight Ancient—like most Ancient dragons—was fast asleep to preserve their lifespan.

Only a few Ancients were active, such as Hyveth Arcspace, but she mostly kept to herself and rarely interacted with the other dragons—choosing to sleep on her private island and operate the rainbow roads.

Xamrus ignored the obvious taunts and nonchalantly replied, “Glad to be here, Zekass.” As he looked around the group, he saw a beautiful dragon from the Arcsnow family, but her head was hung low out of shame. The standing of her family had already been poor, and the loss of nearly all her brothers and sisters to the necromancer on the fiftieth floor had reduced their status to the lowest of the twelve noble dragon families.

Zekass huffed and moved backward a bit, accidentally knocking over a tree as he went as if it was a mere weed. “Arcwing suckup,” he grumbled, and Xamrus ignored the bumbling fool. Of course, any family in their right mind would suck up to the royal family. The Arcwings were simply too powerful.

Vepa lumbered forward and snarled, “Quiet down, you two.” Xamrus recognized her as a dragon from the Arcsky family based on her sky-blue scales. However, her body was much more robust, which matched her overbearing demeanor. “We were asked by the Arcwing family to analyze the shift in mana while they investigated the strange red light in the sky.”

Zekass looked like he wanted to refute, but a glare from Xamrus made him grumble and stay silent.

Xamrus apologized for his tardiness, explaining that he had accompanied the prince. This earned him an eye roll from Zekass. “I’m not caught up on the situation,” Xamrus continued, his tongue flicking out to taste the air. “Mhm…the mana does indeed have a slightly different taste. It seems denser than usual.”

“This has to be because of the necromancer,” the Arcsnow beauty said through gritted teeth. “Everything is because of that lunatic.”

Xamrus had to agree to that assessment. Ever since the report of food going missing in the lowlands, the way dragons had lived for thousands of years had been shaken. Much to the fury of the Arcwings, who wanted to maintain the status quo.

Since Verpa Arcsky was a member of the most prestigious family here, she led the discussions. “A few human slaves testified that they were notified of a demon lord’s arrival right as the sky’s red light appeared. Therefore, I believe this shift in mana is also due to this supposed demon lord’s arrival.”

Xamrus’s eyes went wide. Most dragons looked down on the System, but they kept a few human slaves for this very purpose. In the past, whenever a void creature entered the world, the System would fight back by designating it as a demon lord. Since the dragons weren’t part of this System, they never bothered to intervene except for those few times the void creature came too close to their territory.

Xamrus was lost in thought when a sudden wave of dread overcame him. At first, the feeling was subtle, but soon all the Senior dragons were looking around curiously with twisted faces, as if they were uncomfortable.

Verpa asked, “Where is that coming from?” Xamrus, unfortunately, did not have an answer. As they looked down, they saw the grass start to sway oddly, and then the ground began to tremble. At first, the movements were subtle, but they quickly worsened. Recognizing the danger, all five of the Senior dragons launched themselves into the sky.

Xamrus looked to the side and saw the Arcsnow dragon. Sadly he didn’t know her name as he had deemed the Arcsnow family unworthy of his attention in the past. She turned to him with concern all over her face, which looked cute with her snow-white scales.

The Arcsnow dragon looked at the trembling ground in fear and asked, “What was that?” Before anyone could answer, the ground exploded, and something titanic surged upward. Xamrus managed to dive to the side in time, but the Arcsnow dragon was the monster’s target. She attempted to summon an ice storm to slow the beast down, but it had little effect. Xamrus watched in horror as the dragon was consumed by a column of black scales and neon-green flesh that seemed comparable in size to the floor’s tower.

All four of the remaining Senior dragons hurled spells at the monster. “How does it move so fast?!” Zekass roared as flames exploded from his mouth, taking out a large chunk of the beast’s side. However, the wound seemed insignificant compared to the monster’s overall size.

A claw of shadows materialized in front of Xamrus, and he tore out a large chunk of the monster’s flesh. Neon-green and black blood sprayed everywhere, but the wound quickly healed as the flesh knitted itself together and the plates regenerated. Xamrus wanted to get closer and attack more directly, but waves of death affinity mana were wearing on his magical defenses. This meant that he couldn’t get too close or expend too much mana on a single attack.

The monster’s head seemed to reach the top of the dome as it changed directions and began plummeting to the ground. From this angle, Xamrus got a look at its face—an abyss of razor-sharp teeth dyed in blood.

Verpa shot a jet of high-pressured water from her mouth, knocking out several hundred human-size teeth from the titanic monster’s mouth. The monster let out a scream of pain and rage and began to target Verpa.

Fortunately, the worm-like creature’s mobility was greatly reduced when half its body was out of the ground, allowing Verpa to easily dodge its pursuit. Though it chased her around for a while, the creature never displayed any ranged attacks or magical abilities. However, its speed, size, and ability to regenerate made it a formidable opponent.

Verpa shouted, “Xamrus! Get an Elder or Ancient! We can’t deal with this threat. It heals everything we do!”

As much as it hurt Xamrus’s pride, Verpa was right. They had only been Hatchlings a hundred years ago, and although the title of Senior sounded important and came with a great sense of pride, it was ultimately nothing compared to the true monsters of this world.

“All right! Hang tight!” Xamrus shouted back before flying off toward the tunnel. The monster seemed uninterested in him and continued to chase Verpa with furious determination. Xamrus wondered if the creature was even intelligent, but he didn’t have time to dwell on it. He quickly made his way through the stone tunnel and past the prison, putting as much distance between himself and the monster as possible.

When Xamrus reached the top of the stairs, he was greeted by an eerie silence that permeated the normally bustling hall. The absence of the Elders, who would typically be deep in discussion of arcane magic, confirmed his suspicions that something was amiss. The arrival of the demon lord had clearly shaken the Elders.

As Xamrus ventured out, he was greeted by the sight of a vast forest with many floating islands looming overhead, each covered in dragon-size architecture. Waterfalls cascaded down from some of the islands, filling lakes that flowed into streams. These waterways flowed through the lowlands, providing fresh water for the many monsters and human cities in the area. The beauty of the landscape took Xamrus’s breath away no matter how many times he saw it.

“Something the matter, Xamrus?”

Xamrus looked up and saw an enchanting woman lazily hovering in the air. She was around two meters tall, and her inhuman sapphire eyes, which shone like gemstones, casually watched Xamrus as if he were a lost bug.

She could have easily deceived anyone into thinking she was human. However, her long, flowing magenta hair, which writhed around her shoulders like snakes, and the golden horn on her head clearly showed that she was no human but rather an Ancient dragon in human form.

“Hyveth Arcspace…yes, there is a problem.” Xamrus clenched his teeth as he saw the woman sneer at him with contempt, her gemstone eyes filled with disdain. “A monster far too strong for us Senior dragons to deal with has appeared on the Grand Dungeon’s first floor,” he said, his voice quivering with fear.

Xamrus hung his head, avoiding Hyveth’s piercing gaze as she loomed over him. “It has already killed an Arcsnow…”

“Oh my…” Hyveth said nonchalantly, inspecting her perfectly manicured nails. “Does your little ragtag group require my assistance?” She floated down gracefully, and Xamrus kept his eyes fixed on the ground, his heart pounding with fear. Hyveth put a delicate finger under Xamrus’s chin and forced him to look her in the eye. “Then beg me.” She grinned wickedly, revealing a row of sharp, shark-like teeth that starkly contrasted her ethereal beauty. “Beg me like the weak dog you are.”

“Please…” Xamrus’s claws scraped against the stone floor as he struggled to contain his silent rage. “Please help us…”

“Okay! Since you asked so nicely.” Hyveth clapped her hands, and the world around them twisted and contorted as she used her mastery of space manipulation to transport them to their desired location. Despite the chaos of the warped space around them, Hyveth remained composed, her sapphire eyes shining with excitement as they arrived.

Purple lightning crackled between the two of them, and a sky-blue dragon corpse came tumbling toward them with a hole through its stomach. Hyveth frowned, and with a flick of her wrist, the two of them switched locations, appearing a few hundred meters away. They watched as Verpa’s lifeless body slammed into the ground in a cloud of vaporized blood.

Hyveth gazed into the distance, following the trajectory of Verpa, and locked eyes with a void creature standing next to a golden dragon she recognized. “Well, that’s interesting,” she said with a mysterious smile.