Chapter 4 – Dragon’s Roar

Valgrind and Zolgrind are seated inside a luxurious horse-drawn carriage. Twenty Knights riding on war horses surround said carriage. It has been two days since the twins and their Knight entourage left the premises of House Candon.

All regalia that links their group with the great House Candon is absent. Instead, dense tropical foliage surrounds the road on both sides. The Knight escorts constantly scan the surroundings for any threats from Bandits or assassins.

“Are we there yet, Senu?” Zolgrind asked the driver of the carriage.

The driver of the twin’s carriage is an old Lizardman dressed in Mage robes. The scales on his body are the color of the night sky. Sharp yellow fangs jutted out of the jaw, and several yellow spikes protruded from his scalp like a mohawk. Without turning back, Senu responds politely.

“Two more days, young Master.”

Zolgrind groans as he slumps into his seat.

“I am bored out of my mind! Why are we even going to Tarelam in the first place?”

“You will keep getting the same answer no matter how many times you ask that question, Zol.”

“Val, pretend this is the first time then. We got nothing else but time to kill.”

“Fine! The Prandaval seaport belongs to the Great House of Borlo. Since you pissed off the Head of their house. We have no choice but to use the seaport of Tarelam to get to the island where Mount Chandrika is located.”

“Tarelam is a two-day trip by horse. So why is it taking us four days?”

“Since you pissed the Head of their house. We have no choice but to assume they will set up an ambush to try and assassinate you on the highway. So the guards are taking us on old dirt roads that no one uses anymore.”

“Are all your answers going to say it is my fault?”

“Yes, now that I have answered the same question over a dozen times, will you let me focus?”

“Go ahead.”

Valgrind sat in a lotus position on his carriage seat. He focused on his internal energy to draw out the little Mana he had in his body. Initially, he wanted to wait until he met his Guru to start working on his unique ability. When Senu told him the whole trip, including getting to Tarelam, finding a ship, crossing the sea, and reaching the monastery, would take over a week. Valgrind decided he could practice a bit of Mana manipulation and spend his free time figuring out the unique ability.

From the textbooks, he brought along on the trip. Valgrind learned that all abilities, whether they be unique or legacy. Requires a large pool of Mana to activate them. Unfortunately, he had ignored all Mana training exercises till now. This resulted in him suffering a drought of Mana in his body.

The only way to get more Mana is to spend Mana. Emptying the Mana tank would stimulate mana gathering and enlarge his capacity. That was what Zolgrind said to him when Valgrind decided to begin training. Since the Knights were all focused on guarding them both. Zolgrind is the only one capable of being a teacher during the trip.

Zolgrind had a natural affinity with Mana control. He was a bit slow in many areas, but he could wield Mana as if it was an extension of himself. He had been training since the two of them were four years old.

While Valgrind read books and slept, Zolgrind accumulated Mana and built up his reserves without rest.

Many adults found it a novelty for a five to seven-year-old kid to be training so hard when he was supposed to play with other children his age.

The day, martial arts were finally taught to the two of them at the age of eight. Zolgrind was able to perform the skills with ease. The level of control and the depth of his reserves had allowed him to learn advanced martial skills reserved for teenagers and adults.

Meanwhile, Valgrind struggled with the basics of mana control. The Candon family was disappointed with Valgrind’s neglect of training. They shifted their attention to Zolgrind, whom they considered a hardworking genius.

Valgrind frowned upon everyone’s obsession with martial arts and sought the path of a scholar as his salvation.

However, his perceptions changed about martial arts when he saw the All-Father’s vision. It left a profound impact on him which made him fear his future. He is still determined to change the future and avoid what he witnessed. But when his grandmother handed him the silver robe. It showed him a way to become a formidable existence who no one could ignore. Living in his brother’s shadow and being ignored by most of the world apart from his family had caused a lot of depression, which he still had not overcome.

He could not ignore the training any longer, now was the chance to build new foundations and grow. As he resolved himself, the faint traces of Mana in his body began to circulate, slowly at first until it gradually picked up momentum and caused a reaction.

Valgrind’s long Black hair turned to dark Grey and then to light Grey. He maintained the flow of Mana for over a dozen seconds before exhaustion took over, and he broke the internal flow. Finally, his hair returned to its Black color.

Zolgrind, who was watching the show, began to chuckle.

“You have been trying to activate your unique ability since the day we left home. But, so far, all you managed is to make your hair turn Grey for a dozen seconds.”

“Really?” Valgrind looked surprised.

“About what?”

“My hair! Did it turn Grey?”

“Yes, why would I lie?” Zolgrind answered.

Valgrind had not shared the details about the change in his appearance in the vision with anyone.

“It is a sign that I am on the right track!”

“Turning your hair Grey is part of your unique ability?”

“Among other changes, I think.”

“Like what?”

Valgrind wanted to avoid sharing too many details. Then he realized it was only a change in appearance, and it did not hint at what the summoning ability could do.

“I am not sure, but I think all my hair has to turn Grey, my skin should turn dark, and my eyes should become Grey.”

“Are you serious? Is that necessary to summon a beast?”

“I noticed my future self had those changes while he battled.”

“Did he look normal before he began the fight?”

“No, he was already fighting when the vision started.”

“Hmmm… come to think of it, you never mentioned who you were fighting against.”

Valgrind was struck by flashbacks that he wished to bury and forget. How could he answer this without making it look like he is trying to hide it?

“Would you believe me if I said it was against elite warriors of all the races on Roduna?”

Zolgrind blinked and stared at Valgrind in silence for several seconds.

“You… against all the ten races? HAHAhahahaha…ha…I didn’t realize you could make a good joke. Fine! Keep your secrets.”

“You think the races can’t unite into one army?”

“Sounds like a fantasy, but there are more chances of it happening than you battling them all alone. Fortunately, you will always have me to protect you.”
Valgrind froze.

“What did you say?”

“I said I will always be there to protect you, so I can’t imagine you fighting alone.”

“Like… even ten years from now as well?”

“Ten years? Val, you are my twin! A weak scholar-obsessed twin who is blessed with a unique ability that turns his hair grey. I will always be at your side in a battle.”

Valgrind wondered if something happened to Zolgrind in the future to make him absent in the battle against the horde. It also seems strange for no one from house Candon to be at his side on the battlefield.

Unless something happened to Candon…

Valgrind shook the thoughts out of his mind. He was taking the vision too seriously and almost lost himself in dark thoughts.

“What if you get a wife and have kids of your own to protect?”

“If she is a looker, then I will consider abandoning you to the wolves.”

“That is the Zol I know and love.”

Zolgrind chuckled as he grabbed an apple from a travel sack.

“I wish we brought more jerky.”

“We brought enough, but you ate it all on the first day of travel.”

“I was stress eating, Val! I had to say goodbye to all the house cooks who fed me for years. It was a very emotional day to be separated from them.”

“Did the jerky they prepared cure your stress?”

“A little bit, but now that it is all gone, I miss the cooks even more.”

“If you are so hungry, then why don’t we ask the guard to make camp and hunt some wild game?”

“Are you sure you do not want to continue some more Mana control training?”

“No! I did not realize it would make me hungry. I get it now why you are always thinking about food.”

“Took you long enough to realize that!”

Zolgrind said as he chucked an apple toward Valgrind.

Before Valgrind could take a bite out of the apple, a monstrous roar penetrated his ears. Valgrind dropped the apple and used his hands to cover his ears. The ungodly roar refused to be deafened by his actions.

He looked toward Zolgrind and found his brother mimicking the same actions as himself.

They looked out of their carriage to find all the Knights and even the horses panicking. Senu the Lizardman was struggling to calm the horses pulling the twin’s carriage.

“Why are you all grabbing your ears? What the… the horses too?”

Senu yelled as he pressed on the brakes to prevent the carriage horses from bolting. Valgrind noticed that he did not seem to be affected by the mysterious roar.

Most of the knights failed to calm their steeds. Instead, half of the horses stood on their hind legs to shake off their rider and then just bolted into the jungle.

“Get those horses back!”

“Come back here, you fools! Stand your ground!”

“Is this an attack?”

“Protect the young masters at all costs!”

“I can’t even think straight!”

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“Ignore the pain and do your duty!”

The Knights yelled at each other as the roar intensified.

“What is going on with you lot! There is no enemy here… Hold on! Are you all hearing a Dragon’s roar?”

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“What did you say?” One of the knights nearest to him asked.

“I said, DOES IT SOUND LIKE A DRAGON?”

“YES!”

Senu’s eyes grew in surprise, but he quickly got up from his driver’s seat. He drew a golden symbol in the air in front of him. A mage staff appeared out of thin air that Senu quickly grabbed and began chanting a spell.

“Draconic Arts! Dispel Illusions!” Senu roared.

A flash of white light emerged from the tip of the staff. The light enveloped all the knights, horses, and twins. Suddenly the ungodly roar immediately ceased. There was no sound apart from heavy breathing by the horses and the fast thumping of their hearts.

“You can all calm down now. Someone used a powerful illusion to trick your minds.”

“How come you did not hear it?” Valgrind asked.

“One moment, young master Valgrind. I am searching for the mage who used this illusion on us.”

Senu waved his staff which glowed when he pointed towards the west.”

“The Mage is somewhere in this direction.”

“Should we launch a counterattack?”

“There is something strange going on here. Why did the ambushers not attack us when you were all paralyzed.”

“It does seem like a lost opportunity. Do you think it had nothing to do with us?”

“That may be the case. So I think we should cautiously investigate the source before we move on.”

“Why not rush ahead and leave the would-be ambusher behind us?”

“I will not be able to rest easy knowing there is a powerful mage following us.”

“Hmmm… if the young masters agree.”

Both Valgrind and Zolgrind nodded their heads to permit the knights.

Ten Knights who were on foot entered the dense jungle in the direction Senu had previously pointed.

While the investigation party departed, the senior Knight wanted to conduct a separate investigation.

“How did this Mage escape your senses before?” A senior Knight asked.

“I did not expect an ambush by a Mage who could use an Ancient Draconic Art.”

“Dumb it down for me! The Knight requested.

“A Mage like me can detect the Mana within others. This is because mages have enormous pools of Mana to draw upon. So it is not easy to evade detection by hiding behind a wall. But this one used an Ancient Draconic Art that does not draw Mana from the wielder. Instead, it uses Mana that exists in the environment to power a spell. Which made it almost impossible to detect there was a mage threat nearby before the attack.”

“So this Ancient Draconic art is a sound attack?”

“It could take shape into many forms that are not conventional to the elements like fire, water, wind, earth, and lightning. But, instead, what you heard was the primal roar of a Dragon. The power behind such a sound can paralyze the minds of non Dragonoid races.”

“I thought Dragons were extinct. So how can you know what it sounds like?” On another matter, how come you did not hear it?” Valgrind asked.

“Lizardmen are the lesser descendants of the extinct Dragon race, which makes us immune to the roar’s effect. I am familiar with the Ancient Draconic Arts because my Guru possessed it as a legacy ability.”

“Is that a common legacy ability that the All-Father blesses the Lizardmen with?”

“It is rare enough that one who possesses it will be seen as royalty by most Lizardmen. But do not worry, my young masters! The Candon family has my eternal loyalty.”

At that moment, one of the Knights who formed the investigation party returned to them from the jungle.

“We found a bandit hideout in that direction.”

“Did you deal with them and find their mage?”

The Knight was struggling to find the right words to explain what he saw.

“Spill it out already.”

“The thing is… all of them were dead already when we found them.”

“What killed them?”

“It looks like a beast attacked them all. However, we did find a girl who is covered in blood.”

“Why did you not bring her here to receive medical attention?” The senior Knight asked.

“Ummm… she refuses to leave the corpses of what we assume is her family. It looks like they were all captured by the bandits to be sold as slaves. I was tasked to bring you there to have a look at the scene yourself.”

“We will come with you!” Valgrind insisted.

“We cannot bring the young masters to the sight of a massacre. They will be traumatized!” Senu interjected.

“Senu, I think we will eventually have to see a scene like this one day, so it might as well be today.” Valgrind reasoned.

He had seen the slaughter of a thousand warriors. A few bandits and a family will not tip his mind over the edge at this point.
Zolgrind looked at Valgrind in surprise, but he did not say anything.

“Alright! Senu, the young masters, and I will go there. In the meantime, the rest of you try to find those poor horses that escaped.”

“Sir, yes sir!” The mounted Knights answered in unison.

A few minutes later…

The group followed the Knight, who had come back to get them. They soon found the bandit hideout surrounded by nine Knights. Inside the bandit hideout, a little girl was moaning and sobbing as she hugged the dead bodies of her family.

Valgrind stopped in his steps as he sensed a familiarity with the girl. From afar, he tried to make sure that he was not mistaken.

“No way… Emilia Rodes?” Valgrind whispered in shock.

“Val, you know that girl?” Zolgrind asked.

“I met her and her family outside the Ancient temple before I received my blessing. They came from Tarelam to receive their blessings too. I noticed that she and her brothers are… no, were pentuplets. So I ended up discussing the temple and the origins of the All-father with her.”

“How did they get captured by the bandits? The highway to Tarelam is far from here!” The senior Knight asked.

“Did anyone ask her?” Zolgrind asked the Knights who surrounded the bandit hideout.

“Does she look like she is in a state to talk to us?” One of the Knights pointed out.

“We cannot leave her like this!” Valgrind.

“Of course not! But out of all of us, you claim to have met and spoken to her. Maybe she will respond to you if you approach her.” The Senior Knight reasoned.

Valgrind nodded, but there was something wrong with the picture of the girl he met before and the one he is seeing right now.

Dead bodies of bandits with claws and bite marks covering their bodies littered the space around the hideout. It looked like they were attacked by a beast, but there was no sign of any paw or claw print on the ground apart from human feet.

He slowly walked through the line of Knights who were surrounding the hideout. They were making sure she could not escape if she decided to run.

“Emil…Emilia Rodes!”

The moaning and sobbing stopped. Emilia opened her eyes and looked toward Valgrind.

“Are you okay? It is me, Valgrind! We met before outside the Prandaval ancient temple.”

“Temple? The All-Father?” She struggled to recall the meeting.

“Yes! The All-Father! I invited you to visit me in my home before you left Tarelam.”

There was a look of recognition in her eyes. Her memory must have kicked in as she let go of the corpses and got up to get a better look at Valgrind.

“Val…grind? Why are you here?” She spoke in a confused tone as if thinking she was experiencing a hallucination.

As Emilia walked towards Valgrind, the sunlight from outside the hideout revealed her clothes, mouth, and hands were covered in dry blood. The figure of Senu appeared behind her, who had used a Mage teleport skill. He swung his magic staff to strike her unconscious before she realized what was happening.

“Senu! What are you doing?” Valgrind asked in a stunned voice.

“My apologies, young master! But she is too dangerous. This one is the mage who used the Ancient Draconic Art ‘Dragon’s Roar’ and viciously killed the bandits!”


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