Belnika had to see what they were discussing about. So she looked one last time to see if Romeo and Lydia weren't returning to their table yet. She didn't want them to worry if she suddenly 'disappeared'. But, no sign of them.
She decided to go over to the mysterious person. Just walking past them once and return to her table. She elbowed her way through the dancers. Her eye caught the window while she walked. She could see the sun going down. She guessed it was about nine thirty now. There was still plenty of light outside and it was June. It was warm outside. She could also see plenty of villagers, Hunters and travellers walking on the streets.
She stood almost behind the mysterious person, but the shady guy was watching her so Belnika pretended to be dancing. Then as she was dancing, she noticed that the light in the tavern suddenly dimmed. She looked once again to the window. The sun had vanished. Nobody seemed to have noticed. They were too busy dancing and drinking.
She walked to the window and at first, she thought there was a bird hovering in front of the sun, then she realized a 'bird' would be too small to block the sun. On top of being big, it was fast. And, it was coming this way. In a few moments, the creature's size multiplied several times. Belnika's eyes widened and instinctively she ran for the bards. She didn't mean to push the bards from their stage, as long as they shut up and the dancers would actually pay attention.
"Bel, what are you doing?" Lydia asked out of the crowd.
Belnika was looking for the right words, but the only word that came to mind was, "DRAGON!"
Everyone looked at her as if she just said something completely ridiculous. Some started saying, "What are you talking about" or "Here? That's crazy". The mysterious person looked up at her as if he also doubted that would happen this close to the academy, too.
The villagers had built this town here because it was the safest place from monsters. even if there were a group of Orcs passing to raid this village, the Hunters could be alarmed and send reinforcements in a couple of minutes. A beast as mighty and smart as a Dragon should know this as well.
That moment, chaos descended. A tail that ended in the form of a long spiked stick crashed into the ceiling and split the tavern into pieces. Wood flew at all directions and buried some Hunters. The Dragon landed just outside the tavern with a heavy noise as if someone dropped about 200 tons of meat on the ground.
A heavy bellow filled the street with noise. For a moment, it was completely silent. If there was anyone on the streets, they had been wise enough to start running. The shock subdued and every Hunter present started running. They grabbed their weapons and headed for the Dragon. Those who didn't carry their weapons at the moment helped the others who had been buried under the rubble or started evacuating the streets. It was standard procedure, but nobody had thought the day would come so soon and especially here.
Belnika was unharmed from the falling rubble. She searched Romeo and Lydia. Lydia was half buried beneath some timber. Romeo was already helping her from beneath the rubble. He had his guns lying next to him. He ordered Belnika to help him. He pulled a beam up and gave a signal to pull her from beneath. He said some words to Belnika, she didn't hear due to the commotion, though she believed he said, "Keep her save."
He picked up his guns and started shooting at the Dragon.
"No, come back!" Lydia yelled at Romeo, but he ignored her. "Statistically, we can't win." She told Belnika. "We would need at least ten S class Hunters working perfectly together or a D class. We don't have that many S Hunters present and sober, and Neptune is on a mission. Even if there were enough S Hunters, we can't be sure they can take him out!"
"Then what should we do?" Belnika asked. "We can't just let him rampage the streets?"
"Evacuate!" Lydia said. "We can rebuild the houses. Save lives."
"Alright," Belnika agreed. "Let's do that, while the others distract the Dragon so far."
Belnika agreed on going to the centre of the village. There was a park there and because it was still sunny and warm, Lydia and Belnika believed there might still be people left. She watched the Hunters fight the Dragon as she ran past them. She counted about twenty of them who were fighting.
It seemed as if they had no effect on the Beast. The Hunters who used swords couldn't get to close without harming themselves since the dragon was covered with spikes. If they did got to close, they would cut themselves as well.
Those who did get close enough had trouble with harming the dragon. When they slashed at it, their swords just bounced of the skin. The recoil was bigger than they expected, as their hands seemed hurt upon impact.
Romeo was the only one using guns. There were only a few Hunters who used guns because of their mobility and range of fire, but on missions, they were useless. Nobody wanted to team up with a gunner because they would attract too much monsters that weren't there at first. They created too much risk, though they were stronger in sheer firepower. However, even Romeo was grimacing because his bullets hadn't much effect as well.
The dragon swung his tail as if he wanted to get rid of the annoying flees, swarming around him and knocked several Hunters from their feet. They mostly had to look out for the end, which was spiked like a morning star. The dragon didn't care if he hit anything else besides the Hunters. He had hit the building on the opposite side of the tavern. The front of the building was damaged and collapsed.
Lydia gathered some Hunters and ran to the building to rescue anyone who was still alive. Meanwhile Belnika had caught Romeo's eye. She made a sign so he would know she needed the Dragon to stay where it was. She could see Romeo roll his eyes.
Belnika smiled as she ran towards the park. She figured Romeo knew that already. Now she just had to yell at everyone she passed and tell him or her to go to a basement or the Academy. The park was only about a quarter mile away. She passed nearly no one. Perhaps there had been a couple of other Hunters before her, but she had to make sure everyone was gone.
Behind her the Dragon roared. She was about halfway to the park and she could still feel the force that was put behind that roar. She looked back and saw pretty much everyone lying on the ground. Pushed over by the mighty Beast his Voice alone.
The Dragon spread his wings and pushed himself off. He ran down the street and head for the park all of a sudden. Some of the Hunters had enough time to jump aside and avoid the spikes, some hadn't.
Belnika started to sprint. She believed she could reach the park before the Dragon started cry havoc down there too. There would be villagers and probably defenceless kids. Belnika had to stop the Beast.
Nevertheless, the Dragon out speeded her by far. It would catch up to her in no time. Instead of warning the others, she thought of preventing the Dragon of reaching the park. She drew her weapon and stood her ground.
She watched the Dragon charge down the street with incredible speed. She felt her arms tremble, her weapon suddenly weighted tons. She felt as if she was eight again: little, weak, defenceless…
She closed her eyes in fear. All this time she had trained to fight Dragons one day, but when the time came, she had not the courage. At this moment, she wanted to jump away, but her body would not react anymore. This was her stupidest plan ever.
She counted the seconds that passed. She wasn't rammed. She heard the Dragon slow down with heavy steps. When she opened her eyes, the Dragon's head was only a few inches away from hers. It was glaring at her with those glassy eyes the size of bowling balls.
From close-by, the dragon's face looked doglike, except for the ears. He didn't have those. His skin had a bronze colour.
The Dragon opened its mouth and bellowed once again. At least, the people in the park should have noticed the Dragon by now. The stench from the Dragon's breath was unbearable. She wanted to throw up. However, the Dragon wasn't done apparently.
It kept on looking to Belnika and finally mouthed, "Queen?"
Belnika actually heard him say "Queen". She couldn't believe her ears. Her mind must have been playing tricks on her for sure. There have never been any records of dragons being able to talk! What was next? Would they dance? Or even better, they turn out to be peaceful and civilized and only wanted to make friends with the humans all these years?
By the time Belnika had reacted to the Dragon for speaking, the other Hunters were catching up on them. The group had significantly diminished. About half remained. The others had fled in panic.
Romeo was shooting bullets from afar, but those just skipped of his skin. The dragon also opened a wing in front of Belnika, as if trying to protect Belnika rather than himself. When the group swordsmen came in reach, the dragon swiped his tail at them repeatedly.
"Stay away from the Queen." Belnika heard him bellow.
A hole in the ground and two more buildings severely damaged later, only one swordsman had been able to avoid all the attacks. The other Hunters were crippling on the ground, smarting from broken bones and cuts. This Hunter dashed towards the Dragon, ignoring his bellow, his spikes, his claws and fangs.
The Dragon was surprised by the Hunter and started to back away, as he glanced over his wings. He could feel this person was some serious work. Belnika recognized him as the mysterious person. His clothes were torn and covered with dust and wooden specks.
The Dragon turned his head towards Belnika again and grabbed her with his right claw. She screamed as the Dragon flapped and slightly lifted from the ground. He grinned as if he had won. He hadn't yet.
The Hunter drew his sword and jumped as high as he could. He stabbed towards the dragon and was able to penetrate his skin at his thigh. The sword was blocked and he could pull himself up on the spikes and his sword.
The Dragon bellowed and tried to shake Sky off his back. Now, Belnika could think of a use for spikes on the bottom of his shoes! Then, she hoped he also had a plan to take them back to the ground. She was right, though it was a stupid plan. He drew the sword out of the Dragon's thigh and jumped off again, voluntarily. In his jump, he slashed at the left wing, ripping it open.
The Dragon bellowed once again in agony. He flapped harder but he was skipping to the left because he couldn't produce enough force to sustain altitude. The Hunter fell to the ground and made a roll. From the altitude they were on, Belnika couldn't believe he just stood up again and followed the Dragon as he was falling down.
Eventually, the Dragon made a crash landing in the middle of the park. The Dragon released her upon impact and sent her rolling over the grass. The first thing she looked for were people who hadn't realized a Dragon was attacking their village. There was nobody around. Then she searched for her sword, a rapier. She had dropped it when the fell but she couldn't find it.
The Hunter was the first person who came. The Dragon had set his mind completely on him. Belnika could have run away if she wanted too, but she still was looking for her rapier and perhaps she could help the Hunter.
The Dragon roared at the Hunter. Behind him, trees bent that deep they made loud CRACK noises. The Hunter didn't budge by far. He dashed towards the dragon's head in a straight line, seemingly unaffected by the Dragon's Voice, while all other Hunters had been knocked over by that roar.
The Dragon bellowed again. Belnika could have sworn she heard the Dragon beg for his live. Either the Hunter didn't hear the same, or he was just merciless as he continued his attack.
The Dragon tried to snap at him and probably swallow him whole. The Hunter was faster and anticipated the attack. He leaped out of his reach and then slipped towards the Beast its neck. He held his sword ready and at last, stabbed his throat.
Blood spew over him. A thin purple substance flowed out of its wound. The Dragon did struggle a bit, but the Hunter didn't care anymore. He went through his coat and took out a vial. He put it beneath the wound and purple blood fell into it. Meanwhile the Hunter chunked of a large piece of its skin. The bronze skin changed colours quickly while he was stripping a piece of the Dragon. Belnika realized the Dragon was disappearing slowly. It was as if it was burning away from the inside out.
Mostly, Belnika couldn't believe what she had seen. Many Hunters, from many low A class to one or two S class Hunters, had tried and failed to attack and harm the Dragon. Then this person showed up and had no trouble avoiding its attacks and his spikes and had no trouble penetrating the Dragon's hide.
How? Who? Belnika needed to know. It was definitely that mysterious person from earlier. Though Belnika could have seen his face before, she had been too busy having a stare contest, hanging in the claw of the Dragon, searching for her weapon. Even if she had looked at him in between, the Hunter had had his cap on all the time. The only thing Belnika could see at this moment was the blond, curly hair sticking out of his cap and purple blood dripping on his chin. No beard or moustache. Belnika still wasn't sure it was even a boy!
The sun was almost under now. The Hunter corked the vial blood and placed it into his coat again. The chunk of scales he carried on his shoulder. Meanwhile the other Hunters were running through the park in search of Belnika and the Dragon.
Belnika wanted to thank the Hunter and to see his full face when he stood up. For some reason, the words wouldn't leave her throat. The Hunter glanced shortly to Belnika, then to the crowd that was coming their way. As quick as he came, he dashed off again. Belnika wanted to follow him, but it was no use. Soon, he was out of sight and Belnika had no chance catching up to him.
Romeo was the first person Belnika could recognize between the crowds, followed by Lydia. Lydia practically jumped her, crushing her with a hug.
"Romeo told the dragon caught you!" Lydia cried. "I was so worried."
"Where's that other fellow?" Romeo asked. "How did you kill the dragon?"
Belnika's mind was still busy processing everything that had happened. "Did anyone else see him? Could you guys keep quiet about him, please?"
"Why? Who was that guy?" Romeo asked. Lydia looked worried as well.
"I don't know. I just have this hunch…" She said when she was interrupted.
"Belnika, come here!" It was one of the Elders, Joachim Villiers.
He was short and bold. Most bold midgets Belnika had encountered so far, thus mostly dwarves, had a beard to cover up the lack of hair. He didn't. The Elder wore a toga, as they used to during the Roman Empire. He believed he had the right to wear such a piece of clothing because he is the only retired Dragon Slayer still alive. His successor had died nine years ago and the Elder's son, Norton is the current Dragon Slayer.
Belnika followed his orders and knelt before the Elder. Elder Joachim waved his hand. "O, no, don't be silly. Rise to your feet," he said. "Would you be so kind to explain what has happened here?"
His hand wandered off to the Dragon, or rather where the Dragon used to be. The Dragon had completely burned up and even his ashes had dissipated. All what was left were some burn marks in the grass and her sword that was laying about the height of the Dragon's chest.
"Euh…" Belnika muttered.
"She killed the dragon," someone from the crowd yelled.
"Yeah," another one continued. "The dragon caught her in his claws and took her away. She must have stabbed him in the chest and finished him off."
Both were leaning on others and were bandaged already. Belnika didn't understand why they helped her out like this. It wasn't true to begin with.
More and more Hunters started to confirm what they said. The Elder raised his hand again and made clear the crowd should calm down. Then he looked at Belnika again. "Is it true? Did you slay this dragon, all by yourself?"
In every sentence he had said, he stressed some words. Belnika doubted he would believe if she said yes. Still, she couldn't explain the Hunter yet. "Yes."
Elder Joachim sighed. "Very well. Might I ask you, what Class are you currently?"
"Higher A class, Elder Villiers."
"Then that needs to be changed. If you truly did slay this dragon, we shall promote you at once," The Elder said.
The crowd cheered. The Elder looked away and returned to the Academy. The Hunters took Belnika on their shoulders and carried her all the way back to the Academy. It was ten past ten already and the sun had just set, but the night had only just begun. The dining room was filled with every Hunter in town that wasn't beaten up bad enough by Dragons or rubble. Gallons of beer and wine flowed.
Belnika should have been happy. Reports told only 3 people had died, and there were ten times as many people who did got wounded pretty bad and four buildings were destroyed. But buildings can be rebuild and wounds will heal. There were plenty of reasons everyone should celebrate.
Then why was that bad feeling nagging at Belnika?