The 3 strongest Demon Lords had come to my casino. It wasn’t just to hang around though. Their real purpose was…
“Hey, come on now. This is the true dragon squadron and the true [Dragon Emperor] we’re talking about. Be more excited.”
Of course, I knew of his true dragon squadron. During the campaign to rescue Marcho, Astaroth had used this group to attack the [Black] Demon Lord’s holy capital.
It was an elite force that was comprised of one S rank monster and 19 A rank monsters.
The absurd strength of an S rank monster didn’t need any further discussion, but the strength of the other 19 was beyond the norm too.
First off, each of the 19 were made to be able to level up. Upon leveling up to their fullest, their base capabilities were comparable to an S rank monster.
Each of them was also made using the [Dragon] medal, which meant they had the skill [Berserk]. Essentially, [Berserk] had the tremendous effect of raising a monster’s stats by one rank, but it was at the cost of the monster’s sanity, turning it into a broken being that attacked anything it saw.
However, thanks to the S rank monster in the group, Caesar the Emperor Dragon Typhon, this drawback was rendered null. His skill, the [Dragon Emperor] allowed him to subdue any dragon in the same army, even if that dragon was under the effects of [Berserk]. It also allowed him to strengthen the dragons he commanded to the utmost.
As a whole, there might not be a fighting force that could rival their might. Even if the Avalon-Ritters were assisted by the Darkness Dragons, they would most probably be annihilated pretty easily.
“Ast, I’m grateful for the offer, but I don’t think I’m qualified to receive your dragons. I mean, I’m neither your child nor part of your faction.”
Inheriting such things would surely make me powerful, but I wasn’t convinced that I should.
“Fumu, maybe I didn’t explain it well enough. I can entrust my true dragon squadron only to Stolas and you. No one else. After all, without [Dragon Emperor] to control the dragons, the squadron will just go wild and make one’s army collapse from within.”
Such was the horror of [Berserk].
A monster possessing such a skill was borderline unusable. Normally, Demon Lords would keep such a monster in their [Storage] and release it only in situations where it could attack more foes than allies. In the middle of enemy territory, for example.
In fact, Enlil was constantly kept in Stolas’s [Storage] until [Rebirth] was used on him.
“But shouldn’t inheriting the monster that has [Dragon Emperor] along with the rest solve the issue?”
“It should solve the issue, but that’s not going to happen. You see, Caesar, the one with the skill, has expressed his desire to go to the afterlife with me. According to him, he’ll use his ability to turn into a spirit and follow me after my death. At any rate, when the time comes, the other dragons will need looking after. For that reason, I turn to the two of you and your dragons. It’s still undeveloped right now, but both Duke and Enlil do have the skill [Dragon Emperor].”
Duke definitely had the skill, and according to Stolas, Enlil too.
Perhaps it’s a skill that S rank dragons have?
“Ast, what exactly is [Dragon Emperor]? As far as I can tell, it’s just a strengthening skill that works toward dragons.”
In numerous occasions, I had tried to verify what the skill [Dragon Emperor] actually does.
The degree to which it strengthened dragons was pretty insignificant, so it didn’t strike me to be an excellent leadership skill.
I had thought it to be a dud skill.
“I want to know too, Astaroth-sama. Enlil has it too, but it’s not as strong as Caesar’s. I don’t think Enlil’s can suppress the dragons under the effects of [Berserk] as much as Caesar’s either.”
Stolas shared the same sentiments. There has to be more to it. It can’t just be a dud.
“Well, that’s because [Dragon Emperor] is a skill that grows. When an ally dragon falls or when the skill-holder kills another dragon, the strength of that fallen dragon’s soul is consumed to make the skill grow stronger. Caesar has seen tens of thousands of dragons fall, making his skill far different from a fledgling’s.”
I see. So, that’s how it is, huh.
Duke has never had a chance to kill a monster from the dragon race, nor has he been in the unfortunate situation to see a Darkness Dragon fall. Due to those reasons, his [Dragon Emperor] has never grown stronger.
Enlil was in the same boat.
After all, meeting a dragon in itself was quite rare.
As for Astaroth, he was operating a proper dungeon, so he was using his monsters as bait to lure in adventurers. Throughout the many years, he doubtlessly had lost a lot of monsters. And because he was the [Dragon] Demon Lord, many of those monsters were likely to be dragons, making Caesar’s skill grow stronger.
If I were to make Duke’s skill grow stronger, I could make him purposefully kill some Darkness Dragons. I didn’t want to do it that way, though. I just couldn’t.
But then, if I was really unwilling to improve Duke’s skill by ourselves, the only alternative I could see was to steal an already fully improved [Dragon Emperor].
“Ah, I see now why you’re asking the two us… You want our dragons, Duke and Enlil, to defeat Caesar and take his [Dragon Emperor] for themselves. And then, whoever gets the true [Dragon Emperor] shall be the one entrusted to lead your elite dragon force.”
If it was impossible to consume the souls of ten thousand dragons, then one should aim to consume the soul of one that had already consumed that amount.
That sounded straightforward enough, but because none of the Demon Lords in his faction had a monster with [Dragon Emperor], Stolas and I truly were the only candidates.
“Correct. Like I said earlier, I originally wanted to entrust this to just Stolas. However, I’m afraid Enlil alone is not capable of defeating Caesar. Enlil and Duke together might be able to, though. And before you ask, yes, Caesar has to fight with all his might. Otherwise, his [Dragon Emperor] cannot be transferred. That is where Dan comes in. If you undertake the trial in his [Time] arena, even if your dragons get injured or worse, get killed, they will be just fine afterward. That sums up the gist of the Dragon’s Trial.”
I gulped down at the prospect of fighting one of three strongest Demon Lord’s trump card. Even if there was no other benefit, I might have wanted to give it try anyway.
“Then, I’d absolutely like to give it a go. How about you, Stolas?”
“Of course, me too. I want to preserve as much of Astaroth-sama’s legacy as possible… but that’s not the only reason I want to do it. I want him to know just how strong I am. As his child, I am going to give my all in doing this trial.”
Looking pleased with our answers, Astaroth nodded.
“There you have it, Dan. We’re going to be inconveniencing you.”
Astaroth said so to his close friend and then chuckled.
In response to that, Dantalian smiled wryly.
“Geez… if only you’ve accepted my offer of using my [Time] on you, you’d be living longer and you won’t be pushing this bothersome business to me. Why, Why does my friend have to be this stubborn and shameless?”
“And yet you agreed anyway. That is so you, Dan.”
“Because I owe you a favor and this seems to be the only chance I’ll ever get to repay that. Bothersome indeed.”
I was late in realizing this, but Dantalian was actually a good guy. Deep down.
Due to his [Time] ability, Dan was going to live much longer and won’t disappear anytime soon.
Considering those things, I wanted to build a better relationship with him.
“Procell, you’re quite cunning, so you might have already thought that with my [Time] powers, even if you fail the trial, you can simply try again, right? Or better yet, once either Duke or Enlil has received the true [Dragon Emperor], they can just fight Caesar again so that the other dragon can receive it too.”
“Yeah, I have thought that.”
It was the first thing that popped into my mind. It was the [Time] arena, so it was certainly plausible.
“Don’t expect that to happen because the trial can’t be done again. Once a fight between dragons that have [Dragon Emperor] has concluded, the strength of the loser’s [Dragon Emperor] shall be absorbed by the winner. Once absorbed, it is impossible for the loser to get it back. Not even Dan’s [Time] can restore it.”
It was an all-or-nothing fight. Once we lose, it was over, our dragons could never attain [Dragon Emperor] this way.
The thought of that sent shivers down my spine.
It wouldn’t have been exciting otherwise anyway.
“Stolas, let me tell you this in advance: whichever dragon receives the true [Dragon Emperor], don’t be upset.”
“I know that, Astaroth-sama. Looking for a way to get ahead will just get both our dragon killed. By themselves as they are right now, neither Enlil nor Duke stands a chance against Caesar. Cooperating—and cooperating fully at that—is our only chance.”
It was exactly that.
From the tales I had heard from Marcho, Caesar was that much of a monster. Two above average S rank monsters on our side and we only barely stood a chance.
“Ahh, how nice it is to be young. Go and dazzle us, eh?”
Astaroth said so before laughing heartily, kakaka
Like that, it was decided that we would undertake the dragon’s trial. Also, it was revealed to us that the trial would take place one month later.
Until then, strengthening Duke should take top priority. To that end, we could enlist the help of the Darkness Dragons and the Tempest Wyverns.
Getting Duke to learn how to fight with Enlil should be a priority as well.
I’m sure that these two can do it.
At any rate, it seemed like today’s agenda had been dealt with.
Ast and Dan gave off the feeling that they were readying to go back home.
“If this discussion is done, then let’s change venue, shall we? You’ve come all this way to Avalon, you deserve some more fun. There are a lot of other interesting things outside of the casino, you know. Come, let me guide you.”
However, I wouldn’t let them go home just like that.
I only had so much time left to be together with Astaroth, so I should strive to entertain him to the utmost each time we meet. That was the least I could do as someone who owed him a debt of gratitude.
“Fumu, yes, let’s go, let’s spend all this money I’ve won. As usual, my son-in-law is very thoughtful. Oh, how it gives me peace of mind to entrust Stolas to such a person.”
“…enough with the son-in-law stuff please.”
“You don’t have to be so rigid. By the way, have you and Stolas done it yet?”
Not matching his calm demeanor, Astaroth made a vulgar gesture.
Bright red, Stolas shouted so.
Seeing that, I as well as the other Demon Lords laughed.
“Astaroth, like we’ve been saying, Stolas and I are just friends. We don’t have that kind of relationship.”
……even though I told her that ridiculous thing yesterday.
“What? How boring. Stolas, as a Demon Lord, you’re top-notch, but it seems in these kinds of things, you’re a bit inept. You should be more aggressive. Why not try pushing him down sometime soon? See what happens. But, bah, whatever. The two of you are young. You have time. Perhaps taking it slow is indeed the way to go.”
Towards the end of his speech, his facial expression made me feel the weight of his experience. The weight of his years.
And so, to the best of my ability, I guided and entertained them. After that tour around Avalon and a dip in the hot spring, I saw them off.
I had received an unforeseen chance from Astaroth.
I should do whatever I could to succeed.
I must also do whatever I can to repay him for this favor and all that came before it. Perhaps the best way I can accomplish that is by protecting Stolas even after he’s gone. I should also continue to collaborate with her. And grow with her too.
TL note: thanks to joms, I have realized that Caesar’s race should be Emperor Dragon Typhon instead of Tupon.
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