When Entri saw the giant red beast, every cell in his body screamed to run for dear life. As he turned to run, a root caught his foot and he fell. With quick thinking, Entri twisted his body mid fall and narrowly avoided using the satchel as a cushion. Luck seemed to be on his side however, as the flames following the near deafening roar raged above him so furiously that that he later swore he could see small spheres traveling alongside the torrent of energy.
To say the spewing flames were hot would be an understatement. It would be much later when an adventuring party sent by local lords had come to scout the area that the world realized just how dangerous the beast was. Aside from the mysterious crater whose only clue is a high mana density, entire sections of the forest had vanished. What was once trees had either become nothing, or black carbon pillars of what used to be life. The ground could no longer support life, as the surface had become glass. The adventurers in their debriefing had reported that they even tried to dig through the hardened surface, but it extended beyond half a foot, and the various ministers and advisors agreed that the cost to redevelop the area greatly outweighed the potential gains. With the earth glassed and interventions too costly, their plans to reclaim the land was put on indefinite hiatus. They assumed the ground would no longer be able to support life.
The silver lining of Entri falling would have to be that he wasn’t scorched to cinders like everything else around him. His left side felt extremely tender however, a result of being exposed to the flames compared to everything else, and since he was close to the red winged beast that he was now certain was a dragon, the flames streamed right over him as it burned everything else in its path. The heat however, was not.
Luckily, he was able to move with little to no impairment. With his arms securely fastened around the large satchel of mana crystals, he picked himself up and ran whilst doing his best not to breath. The rising smoke was a toxic mess of foliage and toxic plants, but no one, especially not Entri, could last forever. He took a small shallow breath after running what seemed like hours and found himself coughing an unbelievable fit. The hot smoke combined with the unknown poisonous mixtures was eating him from the inside. As if undeterred, he kept his feet moving, resorting to hobbling from being unable to regain balance.
“Do not waste our time. What you speak of must be nothing more than a wyvern,” Alice said, mocking the village chief. “A commoner’s mistake.”
“I assume a dragon as dangerous as it seems?” Entri asked, new to the subject of dragons in this world. He easily recalled the stories surrounding dragons from his past life. They were reptilian creatures of enormous size, typically capable of miraculous feats, and in many cultures, worshiped as gods. Wyverns on the other hand, were typically seen as enormous pests, as they would only cause death and destruction with little to no explanation as for why. Compared to dragons, they were smaller, sometimes half their size or less, and in most depictions, their wings and arms were one and the same. That was Entri’s differentiation method between wyverns and dragons. At least, it should be.
“Quite dangerous, or so the tales speak, but that is all they are. Tales,” Alice said.
“And I assume it’s immune to magic?” Entri asked, as most stories included magic resistance or outright immunity to the magic of men.
“Resistant, not immune,” Alice answered.
“Their scales are regarded as treasured relics. The most famous castles are still standing today thanks to a few dragon scales scattered here and there,” Talia explained. “You can even purchase armor made from dragonling scales. Not as resistant, but it gets the job done.”
Talia further explained that dragonlings were the mixed spawns of dragons and their chosen mates. Often times, the feelings are not mutual. The results were creatures of varying anomalies, such as having scales where fur should be or being able to breath fire. Although most dragonlings now have a fraction of the original blood coursing through their veins, they are still so dangerous that they are left to experts with specialized equipment and years of practice.
“Do we have a chance if it’s a dragonling?” Entri asked.
“A small one, maybe,” Talia muttered, her hand on her chin. “But it won’t be easy.”
Entri only glanced at Alice’s face and understood Talia’s statement was an understatement. He had seen scaled armor in a bazaar before, but since he didn’t know what the armor was, he could only assume based on the amount of bidding customers and armed guards trying to keep the peace that it was expensive. Now he knows the item in question was a scale vest made of dragonling scales.
“But it will be costly,” Talia finally answered.
“We do not have much, but I swear we will pay you,” the village chief said.
“Even if it means trading the lives your people?” Talia asked.
The village chief hesitated, but answered, “yes.”