Distant screams from panicking civilians were drowned out by deafening claps of thunder and a downpour of rain. Forte glanced down at the streets through his second floor inn window. He could make out the vague outline of something moving. Something distinctly non-human.
Raptors had infiltrated the town.
Forte’s eyes widened in disbelief. This was impossible. Since humans learned to control fire, monsters had never gotten so far into human territory. Never! What happened to the guard patrol? Were they caught sleeping or something? What about the King’s army?
Nightmare hissed at the silhouettes moving beyond the window, as Forte quickly ran to his futon and grabbed his iridescent grey sword and locked his room door, panting. His mind was racing… he needed to form a plan. S tier monsters were no joke, and it was a common occurrence for even the strongest adventurers and hunters to be killed by packs of raptors or a stray wyvern.
He would need to get out of the inn, first of all. The window was too small to squeeze through, and if he stayed here eventually he’d be trapped indoors with—
Yells emanated from downstairs. Somehow, raptors had gotten into the inn and were making an uproar. He heard human footsteps coming upstairs. There was no time to plan. He’d follow the rest of the inn guests. Safety in numbers. Forte burst out of his room, sword in hand.
Big mistake! Those weren’t human footsteps. As Forte threw his door open, two fully grown raptors jerked their heads in attention, staring directly at the shocked boy in the open door. A fat innkeeper’s body lay dead on the ground between the two raptors. The terrifying pair of jaws paced forwards, into the room, as Forte backed away.
Nightmare levitated up into the air, flapping his wings as he hissed menacingly at the two enemies. The infant black dragon flashed his murderous eyes at the two lurking raptors.
“You take the one on the right, I’ll take the left…” Forte muttered to Nightmare quietly, “LET’S GO! RAHHHHHHHHHH!”
Forte let loose a battle cry and charged forwards, and took a wild swing at the raptor. The ancient gravitite sword slammed into the side of the raptor with a dull thud, bruising but not puncturing any skin due to how the edge of the sword was intentionally dulled by a master dwarven blacksmith. Raptor skin was tough, but the sword he used to have was of decent quality, and could deal some reasonable piercing damage and draw some blood. But this gravitite sword...
Forte looked dismayed at how little damage his swing had done. What a terrible sword, he thought, I might as well be using a hammer. The raptor quickly shook off the damage and lunged snapping its jaw at Forte. Forte barely sidestepped, and used all his strength to take another wild horizontal swing at the raptor.
The flat of the blade connected with the raptor’s neck and contorted the beast’s neck at an unnatural angle. Again, the sword could not pierce through.
A couple feet to the right, Nightmare was dueling with his own adult adversary. The raptor snapped its jaws at the flying black dragon, which darted in and out of range and took small but vicious bites.
The raptor lunged up and managed to sink its teeth into the infant dragon, but its teeth could not penetrate the black dragon’s armored scales on its back side. Nightmare shook the raptor off and regained elevation.
Suddenly, as Nightmare swooped in for another bite, the raptor lashed out and caught the dragon’s wings, ripping a tear in the delicate membrane. Nightmare hissed in pain and tanked through the air, before regaining his balance in the air with magic.
Forte dropped his heavy sword without hesitation and dove in at his own enemy, the winded raptor, pummeling down at the lizard head and large left eye with his fist.
Bam. Bam. Bam.
After getting in three fist strikes to the head, the raptor managed to kick off Forte, and struggled to get on its feet. The panting boy grabbed his gravitite sword and hoisted it over his shoulder, hands positioned to swing the sword down.
The raptor charged at him, as he swung down. The sword missed the raptor’s head and hit the raptor’s leg, and the raptor sank its teeth into Forte’s left shoulder.
“Ahhhhhhhhhhhh!” Forte yelled in pain.
He curled up both fists and smashed them into the raptor’s two eyes. Raptor blood dripped down from its eyes and snout, as Forte’s shoulder began to seep as well. After a few more hits, the raptor loosened its bite and collapsed onto the ground, breathing heavily. Forte mounted the fallen raptor’s neck and pounded down furiously at its head with his right fist as blood spilled from his left shoulder and onto the raptor.
Bam. Bam. Bam. Bam. Bam. Bam.
On the other side of the room, Nightmare was struggling to maintain airborne with magic alone. Finally, the black dragon fell to the ground, as the raptor approached.
Nightmare puffed its chest and let loose a stream of black flames, singing the raptor’s head as it tried to come in, causing the raptor to reel. The black flames flicked out of existence after a few seconds. It took a moment for the raptor to recover, but it came back infuriated, biting down on the grounded dragon.
Its teeth could not go through the armored plates, but it tried again and again and began to make progress. Green dragon blood flowed down Nightmare’s hide as he struggled vainly. Small puffs of black flames came out of his mouth, but disappeared immediately as he ran out of strength.
“No!” Forte shouted, blood rolling down from his shoulder.
The boy ditched his raptor and grabbed his gravitate sword.
With a downwards sweep, the boy connected cleanly with the second raptor’s head, as it dropped Nightmare from its menacing jaws.
A second blow, sending the raptor to the ground unconscious.
A third blow. The raptor twitched its body feebly.
Motionless. Forte picked up his wounded dragon, cradling it in his hands.
“You’re okay boy. Don’t worry. Breathe, relax…” he whispered frantically. The little dragon’s chest heaved up and down with tedious breaths.
Forte looked up with his heart pounding. Impossible. A hulking raptor peeked its head into his inn room. It stood at seven feet tall, and was larger than the two they had just killed. Nightmare blinked and started hissing weakly.
The raptor paced into the room, sniffing the air. The smell of blood permeated throughout the small inn room. Globs of red and green blood stained the futon Forte had been sleeping in just an hour ago.
The hulking raptor focused its eyes on Forte and his dragon. It sauntered closer, salivating. The wooden floor creaked and groaned with every step. There was no time to react. This was the end.
A torrent of emotions and fatigue swept through Forte’s mind. Unfair. Simply unfair. He had stood at the mercy of forces beyond his control for too long. And now he was about to die to them.
He was going to die.
Going to… die?
A strange sensation tugged at Forte’s mind, beckoning him. He reached for the alien sensation, recoiling at first from its vast power, and began drawing at it.
Something deep within Forte was welling up. Unrestrained energy of immense magnitude surged and swirled through the boy’s body. A power he had never felt before. Power was churning the very air, causing the walls and floor to vibrate violently. The hulking raptor continued to approach, undaunted. Saliva dripped from its gaping jaw.
Nightmare stared at Forte, blinking his eyes intelligently. The dragon raised its head slowly and cracked open its jaw, letting out a small wisp of faint black flames.
Forte’s eyes began glowing with a faint icy blue aura. His body resonated with the tremendous flows of unrestrained mana. He shot out his palm, directing his mana to his dragon’s wisp of black flames. The flames turned into a brilliant white fire.
An explosion of white flames shot out and expanded from Nightmare’s jaws, and the room transformed into a fiery hell. A torrent of scorching white fire consumed the hulking raptor in its entirety, and illuminated the room with a white glow of the smoldering corpse. Even as the hefty raptor was completely consumed by fire, the flames continued to grow larger and larger, feeding on the walls, the ceiling, the wooden floor, and the air. Forte felt his magic sap away at his strength, and now he was having a hard time breathing. The boy’s conscience slipped precariously, as sweat and blood dripped from his body.
With a snap of his jaw, Nightmare ended the maelstrom of thick white fire. Forte collapsed forwards, breathing heavily from the toll of his magic. With his face pressed on the ground, a satisfied smirk appeared on the boy’s face. Nightmare waddled over and nuzzled against the boy’s face.
A manic, whooping laugh rang through the stormy night.