Once the Dragon has regained its footing to returned to fighting. The main different was that ever moment was potentially lethal for everybody. The blood that has been rare before was now practically flowing from the giant monster. More and more of the battlefield became toxic pools of blood which could not be fought in.
Gardenia was trying to lure the dragon away from those pools but it was resistant to such actions, instead switching aggro if Gardenia pulled away. While they might have been able to move it with a different team composition the fact that most of their damage came from melee fighters made moving the dragon practically impossible.
The dragon made an another attempt to fly away. It flapped its wings and again tried to escape. Once more Pristallia put her special bolt into her crossbow and fired. This time the party managed to avoid the ensuing blood splatters as the dragon crashing onto the ground once more.
While time however they did not hold back their attacks against the dragon. Vanishing Doubt had been conserving his mp but that was now over. He began unloading all of his spells at the dragon attempting to kill it as quickly as possible.
That second bolt had been the last of the special bolts needed to ground the dragon. If the dragon attempted to fly another time then they would have failed. Everything came down to this last push for damage.
Drake’s spear streaked with black as he began to activate the unique arts they he gained from his great demon spear. Special magical weapons like the one he used were extremely rare and presenting a unique opportunity. They skill the weapon provided was strong but should he ever decide to change weapons the effort he had spent leveling that skill will become wasted.
The arts were very powerful but making a mistake using them caused intense backlash to the user and it was incredibly easy to make a mistake. Even Drake had failed countless times practicing the arts.
Pristallia also had some trump cards hidden up her sleeves. While she did not have an more of the bolt which grounded the dragon, she still had plenty of other powerful damaging bolts. While the cost of each of them was quite high, failing here would be even worse than wasting those bolts.
While Arthur and Steela also began to use the most powerful techniques they had they could not compare to the burst DPS that Drake, Vanishing Doubt, and Pristallia could release.
Before the dragon had even managed to right itself, Pristallia called out “10%”. It was a frightening amount of damage in that short amount of time. However the would not be able to keep up the damage for much longer, just long enough to defeat the dragon.
At least they had believed it would be before the dragon roared again. The scales of the dragon began to smoke as blood poured over them. The air began to grow event hotter and acrid. Even this proximity to the Dragon was causing their hp to drain.
While the drain might not be significant for Gardenia who was already taking and healing large amounts of damage, it put a time limit on the other members, a short time limit.
Not only that but the attacks of the dragon were even more powerful than before. Gardenia could still survive them but it was a challenge each time. The dragon’s defense rose as well so that last 10% left was taking far longer to chew though.
It was then that the dragon began to breath in. Vanishing Doubt still had enough mana to cast his disruption spell once again. It landed perfectly times but the dragon simple ignored the disruption and breathed fire. Gardenia could only withstand the attack, activating a shield art and hoping that would be enough.
When the gout of fire disappeared she was still standing there. Her shield was looking in terrible condition and her hp was only holding on by a few shreds. Her only consolation was that whatever rage boost the dragon was receiving right now did not seem to effect the fire breath damage much.
Zanth was able to begin healing her but she had no time to attempt to heal herself because the dragon did not let up. Her life continued to teeter on the edge, just a hairs breath away from defeat at any moment.
“5%” called out Pristallia. It seems so far away.
Gardenia could just hold on as hard as she could and protect herself. At this point every single block she had to make needed to be a shield art or she would be dead. Her mana was getting perilously low as she had to trigger art after art.
Then her mana ran out. The first attack knocked her back but Perfect Zanth still had enough mana to save her from the next attack which sent her flying several feet from the dragon. She needed to crawl to her feet, she needed to get up and keep fighting. However her leg ached, making it impossible to stand up.
The dragon was breathing in, preparing for another dragon breath. Gardenia could accept herself dying, she was the tank after all, but she could tell that was not what was going to happen. The Dragon was aiming at Arthur Ironheart.
Vanishing Doubt was beginning to cast another interruption spell but nobody expects that to work. Gardenia couldn’t get up and reach him and there was no way for Arthur to get out of the way. There was only one last hope for him.
Gardenia called out, trying to ask him, “Drake!”
Her eyes locked with Drake’s for a moment. His great spear techniques were strong enough that if he made an attack perfectly he could turn aside the dragon’s head and save Arthur. He began to trigger and art but it wasn’t the one Gardenia hoped.
The blaze of fire shot from the dragon’s mouth and engulfed Arthur Ironheart.
Just as the fire began to dissipate Drake finished charging his spear art and called out, “Eternal Impalement” The spear attack pierced the Dragon’s neck and in that moment the dragon died.
However it was too late for Arthur. He had already hit 0 hp and would have to revive back in the city.
The battle was over and it was their victory but Gardenia could only feel the bitter taste of failure. What should have been great relief and happiness was simply the opposite.
Drake however raised his spear above his head and shouted, “Victory!”
The others joined him in cheering but Gardenia could only feel the voice that was missing. She knew it wasn’t totally logical to feel that. Arthur wasn’t really dead after all but he was missing this moment, this special experience.
She stumbled to her feel, discarding her practically useless shield.
“Leviathan, come, it is your time to harvest the body. Steela, Zanth, you two, check out the lair and see if there is any treasure that can be found.”
They nodded and began going over to the hole. There was still pools of dragon blood all around so it was tricky to navigate.
Gardenia was still limping as she walked over toward Drake. As she got closer to him he glanced over and noticed her expression, “What is wrong? Is it just your leg still not working?”
“You could have saved Arthur. Why didn’t you?” Was all she could ask.
“Is that it? I just judged that victory was more likely if I used the opportunity to charge up a finishing blow. Sacrificing him was the optimal strategy.”
Gardenia could only ball up her fists. “We would have won either way.”
“You can’t be certain. It is important to never let up until the very end.”
Drake however just laughed it off, “Don’t worry about it. You can tell him all about my glorious victory once we return to the city.” He brushed off her remaining worried and went to check on Leviathan who was examping the dragon.
As Drake got closer he was asked, “Which drop in the most important? Was it the dragon blood? I ask because there is something I can harvest call ‘Dragon Essence”. While I believe that I can get both only the first one has a 100% chance of success since the difficulty of the dragon is so high.”
“Dragon essence, this is the item I am looking for. Everything else is valuable but that is the item that I absolutely must get.”
Leviathan nodded and began harvesting the dragon. Less than a minute later the body began dissolving into particles. Leviathan handed over a large red jewel to Drake who held it up to the light to examine it.
“Perfect” he said before placing it into his inventory. “Now we just need to make sure the lair is barren and fill our inventories before heading back.”
Steela and Zanth returned to report there were a lot of jewels in the lair. They had taken what they could but a lot of the jewels had been damaged beyond value, probably due to the dragon’s corrosive blood.
With that dealt with the party began heading back through the jungle. They fought several monsters along the way making sure to collect what resources they could. By the time they returned to the camp at the beginning of the zone they had filled all their inventory with resources.
Gardenia was quiet throughout the last travel time back. Steela questioned her about it but she brushed off the question by saying that she had broken another shield and that this one had been expensive.
“At least you didn’t get melted to the ground this time.” Was Steela’s joking response.
Her mood did not improve until they finally arrived back in the city and met back up with Arthur Ironheart. Perfect Zanth then described the final moments of the battle to him and excruciating detail.
Pristallia went off to reserve a location for them to party at. This lead to a lot of the other members breaking off to go get preparations for the party. During that time Gardenia got a spare moment alone with Arthur where she managed to say,
“Sorry for messing up. Had I done better then I could have protected you.”
He laughed it off, “Don’t worry about it. You did the best that you could. The only thing that can be done is getting stronger.” He winked and said, “Besides, it is good to fail ever once and a while. Then you can figure out what is important to improve.”
Gardenia could only mutter thanks and nod but it did feel like a weight had been lifted from her back. She just needed to accept her failure and move past it, not that it was much of a failure in anybodies eyes but her own.
They gathering in the upper balcony of an expensive restaurant. This entire area was reserved for them, Pristallia certainly spared no expense for the party. After food was brought out Drake revealed the special item he had created which would grant him access to the dragon’s legacy.
He potion sparked red and in front of them all he opened it up and drunk the entire bottle. In only a few moments his body began to crack. Two red horns began to sprout from his head and he was forced to shed his chest piece as wings began to grow from his back.
A couple of minutes later the transformation was complete and the party applauded his transformation. He spent the better part of the new half an hour showing off his horns and wings. He had also gained access to the rare dragon legacy skill.
After the party wrapped up Gardenia could feel the fatigue getting to her. Despite the sleep functionality she was feeling like she needed a good rest. She bid the others farewell and logged off.