[No. It can’t be...] was the words Kanna uttered. Her pupils shrank, and her eyes trembled in disbelief—all because of the events that happened before her.
The dragon, Greith, clung to the side of one of Alabaster’s mountains. He peered into a large crevice and reared his head. At the next moment, he released a breath accompanied by shrill. By the end of it, the crevice closed. The earth further piled up and buried what was inside.
The dwarfs… Lia… Kanna’s jaw quivered, her breathing became heavy, and her body lost its usual strength This is a joke, right? Right?
Birby groaned in response to Kanna’s actions. Then gradually, his flight became unstable.
Ran, realizing the situation, clutched Kanna’s hands along with the reins. [Kanna! Believe! We shouldn’t assume anything! Not unless we see what happened inside! So please! Snap out of it!]
Ran repeatedly nudge Kanna with her head. [Kanna, think of it like this. If we eliminate the dragon quickly, we can rush towards the lair and save them.]
Kanna wanted to believe they were alive, but a dragon’s breath was not something anyone could take and live. Especially in an enclosed space while receiving its full brunt. And so, the natural conclusion was that everyone inside was dead.
[I failed…] Tears began to form on Kanna’s eyes. [Lia…]
Ran clicked her tongue. She was running out of options. Since, at that point, Greith had already started to take flight. It would only take a matter of seconds before they engage in aerial combat.
[You may have failed, Kanna!] Ran shouted beside Kanna’s ears. [But is that all you have to do?! Can’t you at least avenge them for now and mourn them later?! Would you let that dragon, that fairy, run free from what they did?! You shouldn’t!]
[Kan-na!] Ran released Kanna’s hands and stood with her legs still fixed on the stirrup. [I’ll try to buy us time. So, please, decide our fate.]
Ran took the bow from her back, and with a swing, the bow’s metallic limbs locked into place with a clink. She raised the bow and knocked an arrow. Then, after exhaling a deep breath, she aimed.
I really hate gambles.
Ran exhaled. At the same time, the arrow spiraled into the air. Then, as if it was led by a string, the arrow drew a curve towards Greith.
[What?] Greith was caught by surprise. He never expected an arrow to fly at such speed. However, he did not mind it. He knew that an ordinary arrow would not pierce his scales. So, instead of avoiding, Greith focused at the source of the arrow.
Greith was not mistaken. The arrow Ran shot was a wooden arrow tipped with metal. But there was one thing he missed. Ran never aimed at Greith’s scales.
[GRAAAAHHHH!] A loud piercing cry came from Greith’s jaws. Afterward, he fell back on the mountainside, scraping rocks, bushes, and boulders until he reached the base.
Along with it was a cry from the fairy. [What did you do?!]
The arrow simply scraped Greith’s right wing. It left a shallow line on Greith’s wing, but the extent of the injury spanned from Greith’s forearm till the end of the plagiopatagium or mainsail.
It was simply skill. Other than borrowing a spirit’s strength locked inside the bow to reduce air friction, add additional rotation to the arrow, and further increase the arrow’s speed, it was all Ran. It was also the reason as to why Ran was chief in the Tribe. An insurmountable persona when it comes to handling bows.
After Greith returned to his feet, he gave out a furious roar. In response to his roar, the animals and beasts in the surrounding area started to flee. Some were unfortunate for being stunned in fright, which made them a sitting duck for the stampede Greith caused.
Obviously, Birby too was afraid. In fact, Birby halted and hovered instead of resuming his glide. It was Birby’s huge mistake.
[You dare?!] Greith roared.
Afterward, the trees shook, and the ground rumbled as dust rose. It made a beeline underneath the hovering Birby. Shortly, numerous vines burst from the ground and reached out towards Birby.
Ran, anticipating a violent response from Greith, did a back-flip after performing a jump. As soon as she saw the burst of vines while falling, she shot another arrow towards the ground. [Not a chance lizard!]
Ran continued to fall. Soon, the rope tied around her waist tugged her and prevented her from falling. At the same moment, the mithril arrows Ran shot exploded. Then the vines, losing its base, fell back into the forest.
[Like I said! Not! A! Chance!] Two arrows flew into the air. However, this time, it went straight to Greith’s head—who had been gathering energy for another breath.
Moments after the arrows reached Greith, the first arrow struck the tip of the second arrow. Then again, an explosion came.
[You cheat!] After the smoke cleared, a cracked barrier became prominent. The barrier mostly protected the fairy. Soon, the barrier crumbled into dust and the fairy began stomping on Greith’s head. [How can you do that?! But no matter! I’ll have you pay!]
Greith, now recovered from his injury restarted his flight.
[Oi! Kanna! I have a limited amount of arrows, you know?!] while climbing the rope, Ran shouted. [I can’t keep this up forever!]
Kanna rubbed her tears away with her forearm. [I know!] She sniffed and swallowed her tears. Afterward, she slapped Birby’s back as hard as she could—which gained a cry from Birby.
[You dumb bird!] Kanna gritted her teeth and held the reins tightly. [There’s no time to be afraid! We have to cut that bastard’s neck for Lia!]
Just as Kanna ordered, Birby flew higher. However, his movements were dull. His speed and maneuvers were far from his best.
[The chase! Is on!] Greith finally flew. He chased after Birby like a hawk. Then, just before Greith bit into Birby’s tail, three droplets sliced through the air.
Greith lashed his wings in response. Although he was able to dodge the White-tails’ group dive, it was not true for the second group.
One of the white-tails successfully slashed at Greith. Although the aim was different, it still landed a successful hit. It sliced off one of Greith’s horn and left a deep cut on Greith’s face.
Greith cried. However, this time, he maintained his flight.
[Just how?!] The Fairy did not notice the White-tails coming. The same was true for Greith. But that in itself was puzzling. They are, after all, inside Greith’s domain.
[Apologies for the delay!] Sylvar, clinging on an enarf while riding a large bird coated with reddish feathers, said. [But this is something. I never thought of an upfront battle with a fairy. But I guess we’re lucky that we aren’t against Titania herself.]
The fairy noticed Sylvar’s words. But she refrained from speaking anything about her queen. [What makes you think I’m the only fairy around?]
[I thought we were a goner!] Ran replied as she locked herself again on the saddle. Obviously, she ignored the fairy. [But I guess the plan’s totally disrupted huh? Oi! Kan! Show yourself!]
[Don’t worry my dear sister, I am here.] Kan was in a similar situation to Sylvar. However, rather than cling to an enarf, he was standing with both arms spread wide. [Justice has arrived!]
[Stop spouting nonsense!] Ran snapped. [I’ll snipe you with a Spiral Arrow if you don’t!]
[Agh! Greith!] The fairy was frustrated for being ignored.
[Scoundrels!] Greith shared the fairy’s resentment. And so, lifting his wings up, he dove towards the White-tails who have just finished their dive. [RAAAGGGH!]
The White-tails were vulnerable. They did not have a proper space to temporarily land. And so, they were left with strained wings after forcing themselves to hover after the dive. Fortunately, they were able to scamper away with the strength they have.
[You’re not going anywhere!] Vines burst from the ground, slamming four out of six wyverns into the forest.
[Kanna! I’ll leave the air to you!] Kan winced at the White-tails slammed on the ground. However, he believed it was not enough to kill them entirely. [Keep in touch! We’ll descend into the forest and head straight to the lair. Other than that, have Sylvar cast a blessing on Birby. It will be our way of support from the ground. It’ll help in slightly deceiving the dragon’s senses. And Ran!]
[Snipe?] Ran gripped four arrows and shot one vine after the other. Unlike mithril arrows, these arrows burned the vines for a short time. However, it was enough for the White-tail to tug itself out.
[That’s right Ran!] Kan smiled. [Sylvar, I’ll go ahead.]
Kan and his ride dove into the forest and blended with the leaves of fall. They then shuffled through the trees and handed out bottles to the injured enarfs.
[Let’s make this quick.] Sylvar and Kanna glided away from Greith—all the while Ran was sniping to buy the enarfs some time to recover. Some arrows too were shooting from the forest. It seemed the elves partnered with the enarfs started to move as well. And at the moment, it kept Greith and the fairy preoccupied as it trashed around the forest.
[Sylveus,] Sylvar called. Then suddenly, countless droplets hovered. It surrounded Birby and attached themselves to his scales like a thin membrane. [It’ll be a bit heavy, but deal with it. It would completely hide your presence from the dragon if you fly over the clouds.]
Kanna nodded. [Sylvar, please look for Lia.]
[I would. But before that, Ran, catch!] Sylvar threw a quiver, which Ran caught.
[Thanks!] Ran removed the few arrows in her quiver and placed it inside the quiver from Sylvar. She then tossed her empty quiver to Sylvar. [Sorry, we’ll have to rely on Sylveus.]
[That’s a given by now.] Sylvar smiled. [Well then.] He waved goodbye and dove into the forest like Kan.
[Now then.] Kanna sniffled. [We have to re-group. But since Sylvar and Kan came, they should be around here by now.]
Kanna roamed her eyes. And just as she expected, several figures came into view. They too were enarfs. However, they were riding on a wyvern with tarnished green scales. Their body type was more muscular compared to White-tails, but they wing span fell one-fourth short of a White-tail. They were wyverns called Nords.
Kanna made Birby fly towards the group of Nords and flew side-by-side with them. [Listen! Split into groups of two! Mow down trees where the White-tails crashed! Just enough to let them return to the sky!]
Kanna led the group of Nords. At this moment, Birby had regained his strength and confidence. He was no longer going to face the dragon all by himself.
Upon closing on Greith, Kanna maneuvered overhead while the Nords split. [Over here you lizard!]
[Ahhh! Another one! Why won’t everyone just quit already!] The fairy threw a fit and manifested a blade of icicle and hurled it towards Birby.
In response, Kanna made Birby do a barrel roll and shifted into a dive. [Take this!]
Greith, too preoccupied with catching the elves jumping from one tree to another using vines, was blindsided. Him taking a hit from Birby’s tail added another slash on his head—forming a deformed cross.
[Hit!] Ran did not miss her chance. She shot two arrows and made one pierce the center of the cross. The other, which was aimed at Greith’s eye, was deflected by a barrier.
[I’m not dumb, you know!?] the fairy declared as she pulled her hair. [Ahhhh! I don’t care anymore! Greith! Let’s just crush their home and be done with these pests!]
Fed-up in taking down pests, Greith ignored his prey and flew. He headed towards west, where the Tribe residence lies. Though painful the bow that pierced his scale, his regeneration rate made it bearable.
[Can’t even take on pests now?!] Kanna uttered. She turned Birby’s reins around after a successful recovery. [Ran.]
Ran shook her head. [It won’t work anymore. If you look closely, you’ll notice that the fairy is anticipating something like before.]
Kanna clicked her tongue. [Birby, just this one time, please, let’s not miss.]
Kanna gradually raised their altitude. It did not take long before they pierced through the clouds like a whale and made a free-fall.
Kanna covered her eyes with her forearm. As the situation was, she was not able to wear a goggle. But Kanna endured the brunt of the wind. [Stall them for a moment, Ran!]
[Got it!] Ran nocked two arrows. One was mithril and the other ordinary. [Silphy, lend me the power of the wind.] She leaned on Kanna’s back, almost parallel to the saddle. As it was, she was aiming while prone.
Not long before that, a hint of wind enveloped the arrows. And when Ran released it, they hurled at a speed comparable to a bullet.
Shortly, an explosion rang directly in front Greith—which threw off the fairy into Greith’s back and altered Greith’s flight path slightly.
[It’s ours now Birby,] Kanna whispered.
When they closed in, Greith glanced at Birby. It seemed that the Fairy, thrown into Greith’s back, caught a glimpse of Birby’s shadow—which immediately informed Greith. And so, Greith turned around and prepared to meet Birby with his breath.
Kanna immediately realized the situation. She made Birby extend his wings lightly to spiral towards Greith. Ran too knew, but their current flight situation did not allow her to focus on aiming—much less take a stable position.
[Really, I hate gambles.] Ran, gripped the handles on the side of the saddle and closed her eyes tightly.
Would Greith miss? Would Kanna, Ran, and Birby burn into ashes? The answer became apparent. It was both.
Kanna did not expect it, neither did Ran, Greith, or the fairy. They took the brunt of the breath head-on. At least, that was how it looked from the outside. While in fact, two Birbys took it. The third was able to dodge. The fourth, the real Birby, was able to dodge as well.
Or simply, two illusions vanished from the breath. The third vanished as well, for it was but another illusion.
This event made Kanna tear up and smile at the same time. Despite the joy rising inside her chest, she still maneuvered Birby to lash its tail. And before Birby’s razor tail hit, the droplets of water gathered and formed a torrential coat on his tail.
The result was obvious, Greith’s neck was rent in half. He wanted to emit a cry, but his breath left him with nothing to spare. And so, he fell into the forest with a groan.
[Lia!] Kanna glanced into the distance with tears running down her eyes.