Quest To Break a Mountainbreaker

Zull Du'un

Mountainbreaker
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There were no more screams. There was only smoke, ash, and the whimpering of insects.

Zull Du’un towered over a blackened landscape. Rivers of orange magma bubbled through black stone and quickly cooled, only to fracture and flow again and again as the heat churned within. The sky was dark with debris, and the winds blew hot gusts of air off of the dragon’s seething body.

The city had been prosperous, nestled in the northern edge of the Spine. They had managed profitable trade routes and their unique artisans produced goods sought after around the continent. They had a small but, until recently, effective guard force and a fair leader.

None of this had saved them. They had the misfortune of existing along Zull Du’un’s most convenient path. Nothing more or less significant than that. It was a very dangerous place to be at this time.

Zull Du’un had failed. Or rather, he had not yet succeeded. He, and his midnight-scaled ally Aivrid, had not destroyed the Dragon Keepers. Oh, they had leveled their homes and slain many of their numbers… but they persisted. Scattered to the winds like moths in the night. So tiny were they, so meaningless, that they were nearly impossible to find.

But moths would always come to a flame.

He leaned down to the cowering people beneath him, his breath bringing more scalding wind. A random selection: a guardsman, some peasants, someone who looked like a… butcher? Blacksmith? It mattered not so long as they could run.

”Flee, and be my messengers,” he commanded. ”Go from this place and tell as many as you can of what you saw here. Tell them that I, Zull Du’un, will burn a city a day until the blasphemers who call themselves ‘Dragon Keepers’ reveal themselves to face me. Until they deliver to me all dragons in their care, all eggs in their clutches, none will be safe.”

And they ran. They ran and told everyone they could find, and those people told others, and still more people told others until not a soul in Arethil would not know his name and his mission.

-Several Days Later-

Zull Du’un had made his way to the northern shores of Epressa off the Gulf of Ryt. The normally cold blue waters were black with ash and the sky was blanketed by pillowing plumes of steam as the lava flows met the waves.

Another city in rubble, another charred pit in a line extending up from the Spine. This one had no survivors, they were no longer necessary. Surely by now the Keepers had heard his message. He was beginning to bore of the destruction. Subjugation was so much more useful.

He wondered… had he misjudged his enemies? He had thought, given the desperate attempt to “rescue” as many of their own as possible during the first siege, that they would not stand for this slaughter. Perhaps he and Aivrid had weakened them more than he thought, perhaps they cowered still. Perhaps they only cared for their own.

No… they would come. They. Would. Come.
 

Ashieron

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Looking down at the devastation Ash was brought back to the elven wars hundreds of years ago for a moment, to the Battle of Ninagal, "That slimy lizard." He says gritting his teeth in anger as he rode on top of Oris, Freya Thrakin's dragon.

Why would the snake attack an innocent city, that had nothing to do with their organization. The thought infuriated him even more and his two friends could probably feel the zapping and heat of magical energy coming from the elf.

They had been on the way to beat down the dragon's ego some for some time now. Sadly they had to move where they lived after he and his friend burned down their old Keep. Now they are far away from them and the dangers of the people in the West. Ash wanted to say he had nothing to lose but he had his companions and friends with him right now he could lose easily if they misstepped once.

"Be careful guys, this may be an old lumbering giant but he can still use his magma and heat if he wants to." Looking out over the Gulf Ash smiles speaking over a message spell to all his companions near by, "Try to drive it as close to the water as possible. If Umno shows up then we could maybe dampen him."

If not? Then gods give him strength. Ash knew this was not going to be easy at all. The smell and sight of the black water were inviting and a fitting downfall to the old beast, as it was black just like its heart.
 

Freya Thrakin

The Dragon Tamer
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As Oris soared over the scarred landscape, rivers of searing magma pouring forth from mounds of ash, Freya remained quiet. A silent rage filled her, a churning mass of flame that scorched her thoughts with a volatile fury. As she saw the rubble below her, ruins of yet another village barely standing amongst a ravaged pit, the rage only grew. Corpses could hardly be discerned from the rubble, each a solid shade of gray and black.

The creature they had fought was no dragon.

Dragons had honor. They didn't raze innocent villages to the ground in cowardice. They sought out their foe themselves, they didn't send messengers to do it for them. Pride was earned, not taken from the rubble of the defenseless.

The creature they had fought was a snake.

A cowardly, writhing serpent. It bit without purpose, without reason. It thought itself intelligent and cunning as it lashed out, biting one who had never wronged it. Yet when it failed, when its prey had deemed the snake a nuisance, it was angry. It bit at every other thing it saw, desperate for a meal.

Perhaps, as a hatchling, it was innocent. Perhaps it was worthy of the pride it carried with it. Perhaps, as years passed, then decades, then centuries, it lost sight of itself. Sense lost itself to insanity, to rage and violence. It had its fangs but had lost its eyes.

Today, she planned to rip out those fangs.

The Nord listened to Ash as he spoke to the other Dragon Keepers, nodding. "With luck, it'll drown in the tide." A joke left her lips, but her tone carried no humor with it. The monumental draconic worm soon came into their vision, a crimson glow humming beneath his scales. There he was: Zull Du'un.

Still lurking within the smoke-touched clouds, Oris began to circle the beast. "Serpent!" Oris called out, a rumbling voice booming outward. "You failed once before, and yet you try again. Age yields little wisdom, it seems."
 

Zull Du'un

Mountainbreaker
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Zull Du'un was always one to marvel at the destruction he wrought. He reveled in his own power, his majesty, his absolute command of this world. There were truly none who could hope to stand against him at his prime. Why was it he had gone to sleep this last time? He could not truly remember. The world had changed much since then. His cities and followers had gone, replaced by these weak races. He pondered the changes that would be made after these pretenders were taken care of.

His message, his trail of destruction, it had not just been for the Dragon Keepers, oh no. It was for the world. It was high time he let them know of his return to power and gave them an example of what it meant to be noncompliant.

He was brought out of his trance by a flickering shape in the distance, and a familiar scent that grew on the rushing hot winds. Dragonkind. They had arrived! An excitement filled his breast, and he felt the furnace within him churn and grow. The glow between his scales grew brighter, hotter.

But what was this? A single dragon? Surely more would come. If this was the most that the Keepers could rally... perhaps they would die out on their own.

Oris' taunts reached his old ears, and a rumble built in his chest. It roiled and tumbled up and out of his throat into a tumultuous and bellowing laugh. "Paaz shul grind! Hello my young friend. I am happy that the dragonfire in you is bright enough for such courage!"

He moved as to track the flight of the dragon that circled him, amusement glowing in his eyes. "How tragic that you have chosen to neuter yourself by your allegiance with these maggots. Orin brit ro."

The dragon was smaller than Zull Du'un, but this was not unusual. He flew with strength, and the vigor of youth. He was also headstrong, outspoken... foolish. Zull Du'un could see the tiny creatures upon Oris' back. They, too, were brave to face him, puny as they were.

"Do you mean to defeat me yourself, brave warrior?" he taunted.
 

Ashieron

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Ash groans and making a mocking motion with his hand and makes a great impression of Zul’s voice, “Blah blah blah, anything that isn’t a dragon is a maggot is insignificant, blah blah blah.” He smiles, “We get it!” He raises his hands in the air, “Just shut the hell up you over grown piece of rock! You’re just repeating yourself over and over again.“ He was getting sick of this dragon’s rambling.

He’d grumble and proceed to use one of the worse, if not the worse insult to dragons in their time a few thousand years ago, used by the dragon hunters and by the people whom they ruined their villages. One that will not be written in word ever again for as long as elves had memory. “Surprise, bat.” He tells Zul when he finished the insult and when Oris’ wing gets into a shadow of a cloud and within range of a shadow on Zull’s body he disappears from the dragon’s back and reappearing on Zull’s back.

The whole goal of using that old profanity to the ancient dragon was mostly to get him more focused on him hopefully. As only those who survived from those times knew that profanity. It was a profanity that Ash would never use unless he was really really really irritated about something. Which was incredibly rare and it just so happened the ancient elf had about enough of this ancient dragon’s bullshit.

Anar anaroore anrrima anarya ankalima alka.” Ash quickly pronounces his spell in ancient elvish and as he knees down over Zull’s back, there the earth spell should start to crack from the surface and spread out causing the dragon’s stone hide to crack and crumble some. He slams the palm of his hand down onto the dragon’s hide.
 

Kaelan

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Trepidation had filled Kaelan's mind and gut for some time prior to this confrontation. Facing the largest dragon the world had likely ever seen was no small feat. Zull and Aivrid alone had managed to summarily defeat the entirety of the Dragon Keeper's forces during their last confrontation, after all. The thought of further loss, the fear of death, it was almost overwhelming.

Rightfully so. Such incredible majesty, a flying gargantuan that looked to be made of molten stone as much as scales or anything else. His incredible size alone was something that could turn back armies, his fearsome visage was just that much more imposing. Zull was a terrible sight to behold. Yet...

Something else stirred inside the elf in this moment, though. Fury. Not anger or hatred, nothing so blinding. No, it was righteous indignation he felt now. This was the monster that had wrought so much pain and suffering among Kaelan's new comrades. Now he sought to eradicate them completely? This beast couldn't be allowed to continue as he was now. He had to be cast down.

Then Ashieron initiated the attack on Zull. Perhaps others would arrive in time to aid them in this impossible battle. Perhaps not. All that mattered was that he did what he could alongside his elemental friends to aid who was here now.

Riding in the skies above with the others was not possible for Kaelan, not without a draconic mount. Even Sora, the summoner's Kirin companion, wasn't capable of staying aloft for extended periods as the dragons were. Instead, Kaelan would use his position on the ground to his advantage: he'd catch the ancient behemoth off guard by attacking from below, using a spyglass to spot his target.

To that end, Kaelan had preemptively summoned and was mounted upon Shimo, the icy, scorpion-like elemental. Poised to strike the moment Ashieron engaged, the duo lept at their chance as soon as it presented itself.
"Now, Shimo! Bring him low!"

The scorpion hissed loudly in reply. His pincers opened, a volatile sphere of elemental ice magic forming between each. The air around the pair dropped in temperature dramatically, the ground froze at their feet, and a pair of charged, blue-white beams of icy energy shot up from the ground directly towards the ancient dragon's gut.
 

Zull Du'un

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Zull Du’un had not been speaking to the fleas on Oris’ back, but as was their nature, they called back all the same. He allowed himself more brief amusement at their tenacity. Since when did the small people count ones so bold among their ranks? This boisterous creature’s energy would have made him a good follower, were he only loyal.

The insult took his by surprise. The draconic tongues had changed somewhat since his slumber, but the roots were the same. Profanity, especially, seemed to persist, and he understood the meaning quite well. It was not the insult itself that angered him so, but the nerve of the mortal to use it. His eyes narrowed, and he felt the amusement from just moments ago turn to anger. His belly swelled, and the heat grew more intense around him. A few wooden frames that were not already blackened caught fire by his proximity.

He squinted, the tiny one had seemed to vanish. Had he gone behind the other one, or moved to a different spot on the dragon? He was distracted enough by the taunt, and focused enough on the other dragon that he did not notice Ashieron landing on his back.

”Ah-!” A pinch on his back. The insect had bitten him, by what means he did not know. The fissures from Ash’s impact went only so far, but they would slowly continue over time. Zull Du’un did not yet know this, but his armor was being eroded incrementally.

All he knew in this moment, however, was indignation. He didn’t know how the man had gotten to his back so quickly, but he would not be ridden like one of their slave mounts. He pushed his internal engine hard and radiated such tremendous heat that the stone beneath his feet began to glow. The red cracks in his scales became brighter and more orange than the deep red they had been before. He would burn the infestation from his back.

No sooner had he done this than a freezing attack struck at his belly. He growled loudly at the searing cold, stumbling to the side in an effort to get away from it. The scales on his body hissed, the bright light dimming as the heat was sapped to turn the icy beams to steam. His great heat had prevented the worst of the cold from reaching him, but it had taken considerable effort to do so.

”You dare!” With a roar of frustration Zull Du’un swept his claws across the ground seeking to crush and bury those who had dared strike him. He had not noticed anyone approaching on foot, he should have expected such cowardly tactics, and he continued to stomp and pound at the ground where he had just been standing, shaking his body to attempt to dislodge the elf if he had not already been driven away by the heat.
 

Ashieron

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The heat was almost too hot to be able to bear. But he has grown accustomed to the heat of a dragon's fire or flame within his time with them. But still, he hung onto the dragon and jumps up its spine holding onto it with his legs, whispering in ancient elvish he casts an ice spell upon Zull's spine, it should cool it off to make the whole thing more bearable, even if it was the slightest amount.

Jumping back down to the beast's wing joint he cracks his fingers, "Don't forget elves are more agile than humans! Usually." He warns the dragon laughing as he summons his glaive and spins it around a few times to get it comfortable in his hand. With a downward blow, he strikes at the wing joint of Zull, hoping to cause enough pain or discomfort to have it forfeit flight for a bit.

This whole thing was almost like trying to wrestle a dragon out of the sky in a good play fight with a few of the younger dragons. Thank goodness they weren't as strong as this though, the Gods had been merciful until now at least.
 

Kaelan

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Not agile enough. The stomping tantrum that followed caught Kaelan and his summon completely off guard. Shimo was sent flying to the wayside, while the elf was hurled in the opposite direction and tumbled across the ground. Ouch. Well, no one said this was going to be easy. It was perhaps only through good fortune that he wasn't outright crushed by the onslaught.

More fortunate still was the fact that Shimo's form hadn't been dispersed by the attack. The elemental rose to his...feet? and hissed defiantly, though he was dreadfully outsized and outmatched by the elder dragon before him. The icy scorpion scuttled back in and attempted to skewer its stinger through Zull's foot.

Kaelan, meanwhile saw fit to run around Zull Du'un's backside to try and get back to his summon. Mundane arrows and druidic magic would be decidedly little to stop a gargant such as Zull, but providing support to Shimo might help shift the tide.
 
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Zull Du'un

Mountainbreaker
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Zull Du'un could not feel the elf on his back, for his scales were too thick. He did feel the chill of the ice spell, and although his anger kept his heat up, it had made the atmosphere in the immediate vicinity bearable. How long this would last was uncertain. The glaive, although beautifully crafted, would bounce off of his stony scales causing little damage. The elf's earth magic continued to spread, but it had not yet reached the wings, and instead now encompassed a good ten-foot area of his middle back, and one of his large stony scales cracked completely and fell to the ground below.

Preoccupied as he was with the chilling attack to his belly, the great dragon could not find the source on the ground. Had he crushed them? His orange eyes scanned the rubble, looking for any sign of the one responsible.

Suddenly, a terrible stinging pain shot through his back foot. Shimo's stinger had penetrated, however shallowly, into a gap in his scales. While the wound itself was inconsequential, the icy magic that pulsed through the giant arachnid hurt him so. He recoiled immediately, and swept his tail over the offending area. He bellowed in further frustration. The glow of his foot dimmed for a few seconds, and then returned to red, although it was not as fiery as before.

Turning, he caught sight of the silvery creature. "Vermin!"

The taunts of Ashieron further incensed him, and the rippling waves of heat continued to flow from him. He opened his gargantuan maw and spit fire at Kaelan.
 
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Ashieron

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Damn it. Ashieron blinked in surprise as his glaive did not do much damage to the dragon's thick hide. He'd look over at the damage still being done do Zull's back and hunks of stone were falling from his back due to the spell. Withdrawing his weapon he jumps on over to the revealed skin and puts his hands together. Extremely cold air mists up around with some ice particles floating away in the wind and he shoves his hand down on the exposed skin. The frostbite should go deeper into the skin and under the scales as time goes on as well.

"Shit!" He yells as the dragon arched its neck and was about to breathe fire down onto Kaelan, running down the dragon's nose, and between his eyes, he poofs into thin air again and reappears in front of Kaelan. Holds out his hands and a magical field appears and blocks off the fire from around them, "Continue with the spells!" He yells through the sound of the inferno. "I don't some of my bit!" Once the fire was done he'd drop his spell and looks for some weak spots on Zull and quickly poof back onto him.
 
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Kaelan

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Unfortunately, Kaelan would never be able to make it to Shimo before the next wave of Zull's onslaught swept across the battlefield. For just a moment it seemed that the icy scorpion had found his mark, skewering the dragon's leg with his stinger. Any excitement Kaelan felt at seeing the attack take effect was quelled almost immediately.

The elf's dash slowed to a bewildered jog as he watched Zull Du'un sweep the ground with his tail, smashing the crystalline creature bodily and sending him tumbling across the ground. Shimo didn't even have a chance to pick himself up before Zull's fiery breath swept over the ground, engulfing the scorpion in raging heat. The ties that bound the elemental to this plane severed and Shimo vanished in a cloud of steam, returning him from whence he came; not dead, but certainly not coming back any time soon. He would have to apologize to the icy arachnid later.

Kaelan was thankful that he himself had been outside of the range of Zull's attacks, but he was now left with a difficult choice: who to summon next. Shimo was likely the most useful of the bunch, and he had just been put out of commission. Netsu, Sora, and Taiyo would likely just add more fuel to Zull's fire; Ruto would be incinerated instantly, and Ishi's strength wouldn't do much to combat a behemoth of this magnitude. That just left--

The summoner didn't even get the chance to finish his line of thought before he felt the draw and heard a low, snarling growl at his side. An enormous wolf, wreathed in shadow, gazed at Kaelan with piercing, crimson eyes.
"Hello, Yoru. I could feel you chomping at the bit this whole time. Ready to do some damage?"
The shadow elemental's snarling lowered to a grumble, and he pushed himself against the elf impatiently. Kaelan chuckled and climbed atop the beast's back, holding tight. Digging a hand into a pouch, he produced a few seeds and crushed them in the palm of his hand. Thick vines covered in razor-sharp thorns sprung forth to form a trio of dangerous whips, which Kaelan lashed at the ground to test their efficacy. Satisfied, he held tight to Yoru with his free hand and legs.
"Then let's go!"

The summoner had hardly even finished the sentence before Yoru bolted off at a breakneck pace. The hunt was on again.
 

Zull Du'un

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The cold magic directly into his soft, magma-like flesh was searing. While Zull Du'un did not immediately notice the spells as they were cast, distracted by anger and indignance at the scorpion's attack, he felt the chilling shiver immediately afterwards.

He as was satisfied to witness the crystalline explosion at the edge of his fire. Of course they could not stand against his might. Still, though, the battle was becoming more troublesome than anticipated. The lone dragon they had brought still circled overhead, but the elves were clever and resourceful.

He was beginning to feel sluggish. He still had a great deal of power left, but the consistent burn to fight the ice magic was diverting from other sources. Still more scales fell from his body, this time from his chest and belly, exposing the glowing flesh to those below.

The radiating heat was still fierce in proximity to the giant, but he has ceased the overdrive and it had gone from stone-melting back to its regular heat shimmer. Still, wooden structures began to smoke as he stepped nearer.

The pain on his back troubled him, and he turned his great head to stare down at his own spine. To his horror, he noticed the missing scales for the first time. "What?!" Was all he managed to sputter out. Shock did not begin to describe it. His scales were stronger than any, born from his own divine draconic lineage and tempered in the fires of the underearth. His glowing eyes set themselves on the elf responsible, the one who moved so quickly and who's tenacity was becoming intolerable.

He lashed out with his maw, attempting to bite Ashieron from his back like a dog bites a flea. He folded in his wings and lifted his tail, trying to box his passenger in. He had no awareness of Kaelan or his new shadowy companion.
 
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Ashieron

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The heat from the back of the dragon made seat start to drip down Ash's face. He'd cast yet another earth-destroying spell upon his wing joint.

Hearing his roar of confusion and surprise Ash laughs, "Serves you right wyrm!" He'd chuckle and looked up seeing the great dragon's maw speeding towards him trying to bite him off his back then he started to fly everywhere. He was about to jump out of the way when, "Ilmeno fany-"

Crunch.

Ash was about to cast his last teleportation spell but the dragon's bucking in a short second had him in the dragon's maw. He felt its fang drive deep into his leg and torso. The elf tasted blood in his mouth and he saw blood streaming from his wounds.

By the Gods, I've been injured. He cannot help but think, it has been a long long long time since he had been injured in this manner. Praise save me what power is left.
 
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Kaelan

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Scales sloughed off of Zull's back, tumbling to the earth like molten meteorites, and the reddish glow of fiery magic that coursed within the mighty dragon seemed to fade subtly. It seemed that Shimo's sting had far more of an effect than Kaelan had initially thought. Good; the Dragon Keepers were going to need every advantage they could get here.

Yoru dashed onward, darting to dodge the scales as they tumbled down. One smashed into the ground next to them as they sped under the dragon's belly, and Kaelan was sudden;y stricken with inspiration.
"Yoru! Onto his back!"

The lupine shade snarled in response and changed course. If the titan's impenetrable scales were coming loose, that meant that he might be vulnerable to more mundane attacks after all. Yoru leapt forward onto one of Zull's massive legs and nimbly clawed his way up. Sure enough, Kaelan spotted areas where scales had fallen loose, revealing tender flesh beneath.

"Yah! Onward!" Kaelan shouted. Yoru complied and, intelligent as he was, began dashing for the exposed flesh. At each pass, Yoru would leap up and crash into the dragon's back, shadowy magic wreathing his claws. Kaelan, meanwhile, lashed out at every opportunity with the thorny whip he had created. Molten blood and chunks of flesh began to fly through the air as the duo wreathed their way across the Zull's backside.


The sound of Zull's jaws snapping shut, alongside pained yelling, shook Kaelan from his intense focus on causing the ancient titan damage. A pit formed in the elf's stomach as he realized what must've just happened. As quickly as he could, he redirected Yoru to run up to Zull's mighty skull. He intended to lash at the beast's eyes, to do whatever he could to make him let go of Ashieron, but Zull suddenly, violently shuddered, and Yoru lost his footing.

Kaelan tumbled from the elemental's back and nearly found himself hurtling towards the ground below, but managed to fling the thorns of his makeshift weapon into Zull's neck, catching himself. He was disoriented, reeling, unsure of what happened to Yoru or if Ash was even still alive. All he could do was hang on for dear life.
 
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Zull Du'un

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Zull had not felt pain for thousands of years. At first, he did not recognize it. He had toppled armies and demolished kingdoms on a whim, he had broken through mountaintops and bathed in the blood of Arethil itself. If the gods were real then surely he existed among them, for what power could hope to stand against him?

He had never faced the likes of Ashieron and Kaelan before. He had never fought foes who were not cowed by his stature, nor burnt by his heat. He had never met an army of so few with such strength of heart and might of magic, nor such cunning. He had thrived through strength and cruelty alone. He did not plan to change tactics now.

His teeth met flesh, and satisfaction bloomed. With fangs like tree-trunks, he was certain that the elf was done for. His pride bolstered his furnace, and a triumphant flourish of heat grew. Or at least... it should have. It seemed that some of his fires were being diverted, why was this? For the first time, Zull saw his naked flesh and the wounds that had been made. He saw the frost along his spine that melted painfully slowly, and the cracks that formed along the scales of his wing. He did not know what this was, and he did not care to find out. His eye glowed with anger and... a different feeling. An apprehension. It was alien to him.

Suddenly more pain filled him from his limbs and underbelly as Yoru climbed him, sinking shadows into the lava. His mouth opened, and Ash was released. The wolf and rider were fast, and only by whipping his head back around was he able to shake them.

What sorcery was this? What vines did not blacken and burn against his heat?

"ENOUGH!!!" His roar made fissures in the ground, and he forced his body to burn bright. Light streamed from the exposed patches of flesh, and the ice on his back finally vaporized. His wings spread and sent a fresh stream of ash and stone raining to the ground. With great effort, Zull Du'un brought them down and propelled himself into the sky.

He was as a burning star, and he heaved himself higher, lurching skywards with each heavy wingbeat. The village below dwindled, and the air began to chill. He felt the whip dig into his neck, and his back felt raw where the scales had all but disappeared. To have these insects crawling upon him was unacceptable, and he would grind them from his body with the force of titans.

"Shatter to dust!" he spat at them as he folded his wings and dove. The earth was his ally, the hard rocks and stone would melt and slide aside and he would enter them like water. His passengers would not be so lucky, for if the burrowing did not pulverize their bones the heat of the magma pools below would surely finish the job.

He fell. He could no longer feel the others next to the biting wind, and he focused entirely on the ground rushing to meet him. His head hit first, and his horns split the stone. The ripple of earth that radiated outwards made short work of whatever remained of the village, and within a few seconds, Zull Du'un was out of sight, vanished into a pit of glowing stone and smoke.
 
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Ashieron

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The dragon let him go, Ash started to fall through the air. And by the gods, all the blood. It was flying everywhere. He’d look over his shoulder and see the earth quickly approach him. That would not be good to fall in, taking a deep breath he casts one more spell to ease the crash, breaking a few more ribs but he was still alive.

And he couldn’t feel anything really. He’d loft up his good hand and see all the blood. The world was red and he couldn’t really make out what was happening as Zull disappeared. He thiught he could make out the blood as it spurted. Then it started to hurt.

“Oh gods...” Ash sputters trying to keep blood from spilling with his good hand, wheezing and coughing as blood entered his lungs with every breath. Where was Kaelan? Last he saw him he was on the ground right?

“Ka-kae..” Then the pain started and it was coming in waves. Like his insides were torn to shreds and were trying their hardest to repair themselves. He’d groan and lay his head back, which was pounding now.
 

Kaelan

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Something became immensely clear as Kaelan's ears rang from the piercing bellow the dragon let loose: all the damage they had done to Zull Du'un thus far had been for nothing. He was a monster, a demi-god, a force of nature and destruction more than a living being. It was foolhardy to try to bring him down, especially with so few. These were the thoughts that Kaelan slowly began to accept as Zull took flight, as he felt the wind rushing past his ears and through his hair, as darkness collapsed around his vision.

The vines he had used to stop himself from falling were tightly wreathed around his hand and wrist, and he hadn't the strength to wrench himself free. He felt gravity shift and watched through tired eyes as the ground rapidly approached once more. So this was how it was going to end: smashed to bits and incinerated on impact. There were worse ways to go...at least he wouldn't suffer, he hoped. As the ground continued to grow closer and Zull's heat enveloped him, Kaelan sighed, exhausted, and slipped into unconsciousness...

SPLOOSH

Kaelan's eyes snapped open in shock as his body struck water, frigid and clean. Bubbles surrounded him on every side, nowhere around him immediately appearing to be "up" in any sense of the term. As the turbulence cleared from around him, gradually the disorientation did too. If there was a surface to be seen, Kaelan could not see it. All around him was an ocean, vast and clear as could be. He was submerged, yet he his lungs did not burn, did not yearn for air. Nothing made sense...

The elf recalled the last thing he could before he lost consciousness: the heat of Zull Du'un, the sight of the dragon about to smash himself and Kaelan both into the earth. Did he die? Was this some sort of afterlife? If so, perhaps he'd been sent to the wrong one. This was far too wet for a simple Falwood elf...

Slowly his eyes adjusted to his underwater environment. It was...odd. Unlike any body of water he'd ever seen or heard described. The currents seemed visible, plantlife seemed to float in stationary positions despite not being attached to anything, and the wildlife...oh...OH.

Realization suddenly swept over Kaelan. He knew exactly where he was; he'd seen it in his dreams before, pondered over it in his imagination during lazy days. A vast and limitless sea, teeming with life unlike Arethil had ever seen. Enormous sea serpents, playful nymphs, luminous jellyfish, beings which looked to be made of crystal and jelly. This was the elemental plane, a section made for beings of water!

It felt like an eternity that Kaelan drifted through this infinite abyss he now found himself in. Before long, however, he felt himself being drawn into a current, down, down, downwards, spiraling towards...something. A giant mass of coral and kelp, he found out eventually. It was here that he suddenly started to feel a sense of familiarity, as though he'd been to this particular mass of living matter. Among the debris around him he sensed that he was being watched, but...by what? Kaelan swam forward, combing the coral for the source, trying to understand why he'd been brought here, when he accidentally crashed head first into a giant, oval shaped crystal.

It was a massive thing, teal in color and somewhat translucent. The entire thing must've been two or three times bigger than he was. He floated in awe of the thing for several seconds before he realized...there was another one several meters away to his right. He looked down to realize that each crystal was attached to a giant, chitinous, blue stalk. Realization dawned upon him: these were no crystals...they were eyes. Kaelan was overwhelmed with a sense of deja vu. He'd seen these crystalline eyes many times. He knew the creature they were attached to, a titan in his own right. Though the eyes seemed emotionless, uncaring, Kaelan knew they were gazing right at him and he felt...at home...

Nice to meet you...Umi...

...but Reality Beckons...


Kaelan awoke once more with a start, hacking up water. The heat around him was nearly unbearable...or it would've been had he not been coated in a layer of elemental water energy. So that wasn't a hallucination? Where was he? Why was it so loud? Oh gods.

The elf quickly realized he was right where he left off, stuck to the side of Zull Du'un as the monster tunneled his way into Arethil, only the vines that had allowed him to stay attached to Zull were now charred to cinder and ash. He was wedged between a pair of the behemoth's scales and alive by means that he hadn't thought possible. He really did have good friends in far places.

In spite of his current predicament, Kaelan had never felt so alive, so full of energy. It was as though mana from the elemental plane itself was coursing through his very veins. A sudden rush began to subsume him, the draw. The rapid influx and now effluence of magical energy that coursed the elf made him feel queasy, and the ever building heat and pressure around him from Zull's own magic was quickly becoming unbearable. With a draw this drastic, however, something very, very big was working its way from the elemental plane.

Loud as the rumbling and hissing of stone becoming molten around them was, a distinct, rushing roar began to overpower it. Water. An impossible amount of water coming from--underneath Zull Du'un? In an instant, Kaelan went from burning up, to refreshed, to trying not to drown as a torrential explosion of water overwhelmed dragon and elf both, forcing its way up around them. Zull would find himself being blasted out of his own tunnel by a creature that rivaled him in size, a water elemental which dwarfed castles. Umi heeded the call.

 
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Zull Du'un

Mountainbreaker
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Zull Du'un felt instant relief as his body plummeted into Arethil's crust. The shearing stone soothed him and cleansed the itch of his falling scales and battered hide. The heat began to fill him, and his fires started to regain their glow.

Deeper and deeper he went, seeking the hot rivers below. He could taste them, and once he reached their depths nothing could harm him. The magma would fill the breaks in his armor, it would revitalize fire and grant him a brief moment to collect himself and reflect. It would need to be a short rest, nothing next to the eons of his last hibernation, but it would be enough.

Something was wrong, though. A moment ago he could feel the heat of Arethil rising to meet him, but now it was fading. It dwindled from molten to a gentle glow, and then fell further to cool stone and then... horribly, to cold water.

Zull Du'un could not make sense of what happened next. He was assaulted with the sea itself, as an icy geyser hit him with such force that it not only stopped his meteoric momentum, but reversed it. He felt himself violently pushed backwards, the stones that had soothed him just minutes ago now beating against chilled and brittle scales. Up and up he went until finally he burst from the ground and fell to the ground.

He landed on his side with seismic force atop the wing that Ash's glaive had struck, the one that had been eroded and weakened severely by magic. The limb seemed to explode in a shower of stony scales and burning flesh, and the pain that shot through Zull Du'un was enough to jolt him to his feet.

The webbing of the wing appeared mostly intact, but the scales had been all but stripped from the limb. It now hung raw, red, and angry at his side. He looked around wildly for the source of this new magic, and it became clear that wide streaks had been cut across his face by the force of the water: straight lines of glowing red that slashed over dark scales.

He did not believe what he was seeing. A massive crab faced him, another titan. He snarled, sending plumes of inky black smoke from his nostrils.

"I am Zull Du'un." He began to move forwards. "I am eternal. I am fire and stone, the blood of the earth. I am power made flesh, the hand that pulls the chain of the world. I am life. I am extinction." He reared up to his full height. "I. Have. Risen! And I shall not fall!" As his forelimbs came crashing back down he belched forth a geyser of lava towards Umi. Heavy, thick, and searing. He wished to bury this creature, and all who opposed him, entomb them all in shining black glass.
 
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Alccarion

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The ancient black and purple dragon flew through the air in somewhat a blind panic and a pit of anger burning deep within her hearts. She knew not that her little one was going on such a dangerous task, but when she felt his panic, then his fear and finally acceptance. Alccarion had to take action.

The dragon was not about to let centuries of her own work go to waste on one measly male dragon. After all, she still had her plans, and Ash was a part of them, whether he was willing or not, and they shared common thoughts and goals.

Swooping down through the clouds she saw the lava dragon moving towards the giant... crab. Then he arched his neck about to rein lava down on them.

With a roar, the dragonness flaps her wings, once, twice, and dove down slamming her long talons into the other ancient dragon's back, bearing her full weight down on him from the dive, if she could she would attempt to bite into his neck,

He brought dishonor to dragons, not to mention this dragon had the lives of many all over his talons, she will show no remorse, no pity for such a being. It was a disgusting stain that must be washed from the face of the earth!
 

Kaelan

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Umi stared back at Zull Du'un blank and placid. Quiet chittering and a few errant bubbles emanating from his mandibles were the only response the elder dragon would receive. If the water elemental could understand Zull's boasts, it wasn't by any means evident. As the gout of magma erupted forth from the dragon's maw, Umi's mandibles spread wide and a titanic, swirling orb of blue energy began to form in front of them. Without so much as lifting a claw, water began rocketing out of the orb in a twin helix to meet Zull's attack. As the elements clashed mid air a deafening hiss filled the air as lava turned to cool stone and water vaporized into steam.

In the resulting, obscuring mist, Umi shuffled forward. From out of the steam a heavy claw would burst forth, aiming down at Zull Du'un's skull like the hammer of a god. The crablike elemental may have been a vacant slate in appearance, but a sharp and primal mind roiled within.

Kaelan, meanwhile, was a whirlwind of emotion. The violent ride downwards and then the sudden, watery surge upwards had left him dazed and dizzy, but he at least found himself free of Zull Du'un's scales and lying in a large puddle on the ground some distance away. Fear of the dragon still rocked him, excitement over the new summon coursed him, and...a strange, aching sensation, like a nagging, buzzing...noise was pulling at a corner of his brain. What was that? It was altogether different than the thoughts and feelings his summons communicated to him from across the aether. It felt...wrong.

The elf shook himself and stood from the cold murk of the puddle, doing his best to ignore the nagging buzz. Ash was wounded, that much he could remember. Kaelan only hoped he had enough energy left to summon Taiyo. She would be able to heal Ash, if Kaelan didn't die from the strain of summoning something alongside the titanic water elemental that had followed him back.
 
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Zull Du'un

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The lava flowed hot and angry towards the crustacean. In an instant, it was met by the geyser of water and a shroud of steam erupted. Zull Du’un pushed on, forced more anger and power out into the world, trying to push through the watery defense. At last he stopped, and listened as the instantly cooled lava fell to the ground and shattered. The hiss of steam and rumble of glass boulders deafened him to the approach of Alccarion, and it was too late by the time he heard the roar.

The impact of the ancient dragon slammed him to the earth and sent fissures splintering out from the pair. His roar of agony and shock reverberated, and searing magma began to pour from around Alccarion’s talons. A few of them had managed to strike where his scales had been eaten away, and they pierced into the roiling furnace below. His wings beat at the ground in instinct, but before he could roll himself over to dislodge the new attacker, before he could even see who had struck him, a brilliant blue hammer descended onto him.

Umi’s claw struck one of his great horns. The impact was harsh and metallic, and at first it appeared as though no damage had been done. Within seconds, however, a crack broke across the blackness, and the horn split in half. His eyes opened wide in agony, and he stared at the titans that had befallen him.

The black dragon at his back stirred vague images and remembrances of ages long past. Had he known this one, he wondered? She was old enough for sure, and he would certainly have known a being of such strength… wouldn’t he? It did not matter, she was his enemy and therefore in league with the blasphemers. As for the crab, he had no idea what or who it was, or why it had appeared, but he would not be done in by something so primal.

Pinned to the ground and in more pain than he thought possible, Zull Du’un filled with a new sensation.

Desperation.

Was this to be his end? Brought low by the hand of elves and humans and their pets? Is this how he, the blood of Arethil itself, was finally vanquished?

Unacceptable. The ground around him began to shake, and the already loosened stones of the hills rattled free. New steam rose from the puddles left by Umi’s attack, and Zull Du’un began to glow.

He turned from deep red to orange, and then orange to yellow. He grit his massive teeth and heaved with as much strength as he could manage, drawing vitality from the stones themselves. The yellow seared, and for just a moment, the glow was a brilliant white. With a nearly divine burst of strength, he shoved himself to his feet.

Lava poured from every crack and crease in his body. Hot red and flowing, it wreathed him in a moving curtain. The chinks in his scales were filled, and his stony flesh melted and joined into the every-swirling mass. There was no more iron, no more stone, only the living fire and lava that was Zull Du’un’s core.

This was his last option. He would burn through his reserves in minutes, but he was at the height of his power. Another five-thousand years of slumber may be required at the end of this, but he would not die today.

He struck forth with greater speed than before to bite at Umi’s eye stalk. While he did so, he flared his wings and swung out with his tail, hoping to catch Alccarrion. Perhaps if he could blind the crustacean long enough he could take the fight to the air.
 
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Kaelan

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If the heat was unbearable before, now it was cataclysmic. Kaelan could feel life around him combusting as Zull's inner fire raged. It was as though the sun had landed on the surface of Arethil, lighting the night to the point that onlookers for miles would likely think that sunrise had come many hours too early. Still, this was no time to rest; Kaelan had come this far, fighting tooth and nail to survive, even to slay this monster, and he wasn't about to let Ashieron die here.

He hadn't been running long before a familiar, shadowy form darted out of his line of sight and scooped him up into a mounted position. Yoru had escaped Zull Du'un's impact crater and was now once again carrying his summoner upon his back. Kaelan thanked the ebon wolf, the latter of which carried the elf right to Ash's unconscious form.

"Here goes nothing..." He muttered as Yoru deposited him next to Ash and darted off once again. Kaelan focused, pulled at the aether once again, and allowed the draw to occur. The uncomfortable static grew loud in his mind, an unfamiliar form swimming through his thoughts, but Taiyo heeded the call nonetheless. Another summon, another massive wave of nausea and fatigue. At this rate a battle of attrition was not going to be possible. Kaelan had reached and surpassed his own limit several times already, and if he fell unconscious now then his otherworldly companions would fade into nothingness.

In a burst of heavenly light, the elemental moth Taiyo appeared. The creature trilled and, understanding Kaelan's thoughts and emotions already, went to work shining her healing warmth upon Ash. The summoner himself propped himself against a nearby boulder and slumped onto his butt, panting. Whatever happened now was in the capable claws of his elemental friends...

. . .
Umi was a great many things: ancient, durable, mighty, attuned with water in ways that no being could compare...but Umi was not fast. No amount of chitinous carapace was going to save the crustacean from having its eye ripped through by the liquefying heat of Zull's current form...but an elemental did not get to become as massive and long-lived as Umi did without understanding such things. The crab didn't move to blunt the damage or block the blow, he simply allowed the eye to be ripped clean from its stalk. After all, he didn't need depth perception to know what to do next.

The decapod's claws wreathed themselves in mystical waters, forming a layer of elemental armor over the titan's already incredibly tough shell. The liquid barrier wouldn't last long against Zull's matchless heat, but it wouldn't need to: Umi needed only to clamp down for a moment. The moment that Zull's teeth tore through Umi's eye stalk, Umi shrieked in pain and rage and brought his water-clad claws up to crush down on the dragon's skull, the crab's shielding vaporizing near instantly. The floodgates barring the elemental plane of water from Arethil broke loose and a deluge of overwhelming waves spilled forth onto the dragon's head. Even so, the crab could barely withstand the withering blaze that battered down from so close. In this instant, the primordial mind of Umi understood that one of them would fall in the coming seconds.

Simultaneously from below, Yoru had caught up to the fray. Even a being of pure shadow such as the wolf could not safely approach Zull Du'un's form as it was now, a radiant star of devastation. The canid wouldn't be deterred, however. He dashed about the Mountainbreaker, raking at the air and sending waves of dark energy scything through the air to slash at Zull's body, exposed as it was without the stone and iron that once coated the behemoth. Yoru was nothing if not defiant and tenacious.
 
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Alccarion

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Alccarion felt the snap of the lava dragon’s tail against her scales and his heat of his molten rock radiated under her talons. She flaps her wings causing a great wave to form, another and then three. She hisses as she lets the little killer and murderer have his little power surge.

However she wished not to kill him, further bloodshed would not change the past. It would also mean one less of their own kin. Something which even she did not want, unless absolutely necessary. Whenever the dragon lifted his fiery arse she’d growl and slam her talons down in between his eyes.

Nearby she caught a glimpse of her little one getting mended by the other elf’s magic. Little Ash starts to look somewhat more comfortable as the warmth of the magic besets unto him. Still with this dragon’s biting him it would take much more to completely get him out of the woods. But it was a start for now.
 
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Zull Du'un

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Zull Du'un's time was running short. While he could feel the power and speed from burning through all of his reserves, it would not last. Already he could sense his essence dwindling, and nothing was coming to replace it. He would need to be careful and pay close attention. If he did not return to the ocean of magma soon, he would burn out forever.

But forethought had never been his strong suit. Brute strength had never failed him before, why should it now? He felt a savage victory as he tore through the crab's eye. The being was flesh and blood after all, and if it bled it could die. His satisfaction was short lived, though, as the freezing torrents were loosed upon him.

Alccarion's talons, obsidian and strong, drove themselves into his face. His searing flesh would be painful to her, he hoped, but the blow disoriented him and set him reeling back. Then the waves struck him from behind, and it was enough for Umi's currents to overtake him. Zull Du'un was pushed back by the typhoon, rolling over himself. As he did, Yoru's dark blades sunk into the burning dragon.

Wounds were not apparent on the fiery creature, for the lava flowed and covered any imperfection, but he was hurting. The clouds of steam rose as he struggled to his feet, and bits of cooled and hardened stone could be seen melting back into him from where the water had struck.

The entire exchange had taken seconds, but seconds mattered dearly. It was time, finally, for Zull Du'un to recognize reality. He was outmatched. In his current form he could likely kill one of his attackers, but he would burn out long before he could end the second. He had played his final hand and failed, and as bitter as that feeling was, the growing emptyness within him was worse.

He had no speeches to give now, no boasts or taunts. He simply spread his wings and took to the sky. He would need to circle dangerously close to the coast, and Alccarion was likely faster than he was. His only hope was to get high enough to dive again, to burrow deep into the planet where none could follow. If he could do so quickly, he would be safe.

I do not flee, he told himself, I regroup, I prepare. And I will return a thousand fold upon these heathens.

Unbeknownst to the great and ancient titan, Ash's magic had not been completely dispelled. A tiny thread had held on. It would fizzle and die shortly, but it had worked its way almost to his heart.
 
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