7 Earth Wyrm

The land beyond the territory of the Lunargard Faction was dotted with horses, dragon-slayers from differing tribes mounted on each one as they scattered in search of the Dragon's lair.

The continuous clip-clop of hooves marched in separate ways as each group, each consisting of three Dragon-slayers, moved towards their assigned dispositions relative to other groups.

Kingsley, named Commander in charge of the expedition, directed a provocative smirk across the formation at Blaze's narrowed eyes, for she had been studying him for quite a while now.

"Tch," Blaze sounded under her breath, turning to focus back on the road before her with a steely gaze. "Impudent bastard…"

Beside her, Colleen hissed, "Get your ass over here." She seized a helpless Kaiser, who had not yet joined a group, to complete their three-man squad at the right-wing before Kingsley could pick their last member himself. She couldn't risk letting the Commander plant a mole in their squad, could she?

"Commander!" Kaiser fearfully yelped. Eyes fell on him as he was being dragged towards the fiery duo by the collar of his jacket. "Commander!" he tried again, desperately asking for help. "Commander Kings-"

He flinched, cold sweat breaking out across his back as Blaze flashed him a murderous glare, and he clamped his mouth shut in an instant, not daring to say another word against her will. He lowered his head, feeling himself slowly die inside as he obediently followed Colleen's lead like a dog would on its master. Oh, he would do anything to escape from the lioness's clutches.

If only the other dragon-slayers let him into their team, then this wouldn't have happened… Bunch of jerks.

"Do you need something, Kaiser?" the Commander's voice asked him, and Kaiser didn't miss the sarcasm hidden in his seemingly harmless question. He reddened, embarrassed as he realized the Commander was making fun of his situation, only making it harder for him since he called him out in front of everyone.

Since he couldn't just ignore the one in charge, Kaiser turned towards Kingsley, with a stiff smile lips. "Ah... it's nothing, Commander." He forced a light response, to which Kingsley snorted and looked away.

Kaiser's muscles twitched as he turned back to face to front, the fake smile still plastered on his face. Clearly, the commander knew what he wanted to ask, but deliberately provoked him instead of helping, and Kaiser oh so wanted to punch him through that smug look of his.

"B*tch," he cursed under his breath.

Colleen and Blaze whirled on him the moment the word left his mouth, and he paled, his heart caught in his throat. "What did you just say to me?" Colleen challenged.

"No- nothing!" he frantically tried to defend himself. "I- didn't say anything!"


After journeying hours from the Lunargard Faction, their numbers finally tracked down the entrance of the Dragon's lair and dismounted their horses, leaving them to the porters as they armed themselves. One squad at a time, they entered the utility hole-like entrance into the darkness.

Once inside the dungeon, Blaze glanced at the maze-like structure and mumbled to herself, "I have a bad feeling about this…"

She took a glance at the others beside her as they began lighting up torches to illuminate the paths before them. The groups split up and wasted no time to locate the Dragon in its supposed nest, scouring in a different direction.

Colleen and Kaiser were silent as Blaze proceeded to lead them through the path they were directed towards, weapons drawn. It was strange, Blaze thought. The scent was growing stronger and stronger as they went deeper, she was certain the Dragons were near.

But from a different direction came a faint smell, not quite of a Dragon's but distinct-

She came to a halt, and her two squad members almost ran into her back.


Without much of a thought, she turned to leave, taking Colleen and Kaiser by surprise. "Proceed without me. I'll come back after I check on the others," she hissed.

"But the squad is supposed to explore here!" Kaiser said, and at the same time, Colleen protested, "Hey! Don't leave me alone with this pervert, you feral woman!"

She tried to grab her, but Blaze was already gone, towards designated positions where the Storm Tribe siblings were located.

"What is she up to now?" Colleen wondered aloud, and Kaiser couldn't help but let out a sigh. He knew it was going to be like this; Blaze was never one to follow orders, for she trusted her guts more than anything else.

Blood-curdling screams echoed from the distance as Blaze ran deeper into the heart of the dungeon, the sound bouncing off the jagged walls as she continued to follow the scent of iron that wasn't there before.

It was such a familiar scent, one that-


With a sharp inhale for breath, Blaze turned the corner to see Kingsley suspended in the air, his legs pinned between the giant mandibles attached to each side of the face of an Earth Wyrm, a bronze, serpent-like dragon. Only a part of it, including its head, was above ground, so Blaze couldn't really tell how long the dragon's body was.

Kingsley relentlessly plunged the beast with his dragon-slaying spear as it swung him in the air, but it was not letting him go. Instead, the dragon managed to pull the Commander's lower body into its mouth, the Earth Wyrm's crystal-like face plates proving its might against weapons made to kill their kind.

Of course, a dragon's armored scales were too much even for the sharpest and most durable dragon-slaying weapons. That was why dragon-slayers hunted in bands, for their numbers were needed in order to find a soft spot in the dragon's body in a shorter amount of time.

Without wasting more time, Blaze pounced and swung her dragon-slaying javelins from her back in an arch, slicing through clean the Earth Wyrm's weak spot, its neck.

The headless body spasmed as the beast's severed head came crashing down to the ground, Kingsley still partly trapped in its mouth.

Blaze rushed over to help pull him out, his pierced legs leaving behind a trail of red. She grimaced upon seeing his legs in such a bloody wreck. "What happened here? Can you stand?" Blaze asked in a hurry, wrapping Kingsley's arm around her neck to pull him up.

"Leave without me, Blaze. There are too many of them, the frontmost squads have been attacked. Please, look for Alexandria and leave with everyone else, report this new finding to the council. I can't allow you to die here…I promised Blake." Kingsley desperately implored one he had mocked earlier in the day, his face twisted with pain.

So, he knew something after all?

"What are you talking about, Kingsley?" Blaze grunted. "That's so unlike you. You can tell me what you know about my brother's death once we're back in Lunargard. For now, shut your mouth." Blaze lifted his weight and took off without even giving him the chance to reply.

She went left and right in search of the others, expecting them to be hiding somewhere in need of help. But instead, she was horrified as she stumbled upon the shredded bodies of her colleagues, blank eyes wide open and mouths parted from cut-off screams.

She ducked to the side, eyes nearly popped out of her sockets the moment she noticed several Earth Wyrms not far away from them, busy filling their monstrous stomachs with the remnants of the bodies of those from the advance squads.

The memory of the Ember Tribe's massacre flashed before her eyes as the lifeless bodies were being consumed right in front of her, and her knees began to tremble.

Impossible! How can multiple Earth Wyrms live peacefully together in a single dungeon? Many things about the draconic race were unknown to the factions yet, but they were sure dragons were competitive apex predators that would fight and devour each other if their paths crossed, just like most insects belonging to the same species in the wilderness.

Endless questions began to form in Blaze's mind, but only a few managed to come out of her mouth.

"W-why are there so many of them? I thought dragons can't live with each other?" Frantic and confused, Blaze stared back at Kingsley for an answer, who was still bleeding all over his lower body, struggling to stand.

"T-that's... what we thought too, Blaze. Do you think I would lose to that Earth Wyrm earlier if I knew that beforehand? No place is safe, they can appear anytime from underground," Kingsley answered breathlessly. His complexion had gone pale from the loss of blood.

"Fine," Blaze said. "For now, we find the others and retreat. Get on." Blaze knelt and showed her back to the commander, and reluctantly, he climbed on.

It was only then that Blaze remembered that she had left her squad all alone, completely vulnerable.

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