Section 5: Provocation
“It’s dangerous there Quinn! Jump to another roof!”
The building Quinn-san was standing on happened to be the one the dragon’s tail mowed down. Quinn-san was just barely able to jump to the neighboring roof in time, thankfully meaning that nobody had gotten hurt.
“No good, it’s not working Iris!”
Ryland-san’s screams came down like rainfall.
“That…….k-keep throwing them anyway! More! Block the dragon’s vision with the spores!”
I screamed back up to her, while amazed at just how tough this dragon was.
“Wai- you! Didn’t we just say it isn’t working!? So try saying something proper! Otherwise I’m going to send you flying!”
Lapris’s shouting reached me all the way down here while she clung to Quinn-san’s neck. She’s capable of flying off and escaping whenever she wants, but I guess somehow, that fairy must have a good relationship with him.
“But this is the only way…….why won’t it fall asleep?”
The dragon continued to move its giant body, destroying houses without a care in the world. And yet each time fresh blood squirted from one of its many wounds, it raised a pained howl into the air.
“Perhaps, it’s rampaging because it’s hurt. Right now that dragon is probably so focused on the pain that he’s not minding the spores.”
“Grah! Then why is he rampaging here!? Quit bothering us you, and go die somewhere else!”
As the dragon continued to rampage, the cloud of mushroom spores hanging in the air began to mix with the dust kicked up from all the destroyed homes.
“This is bad Iris! We’re about to run out of mushrooms!”
“What are we going to do people!? These guys are all fighting instead of running away because you had an idea!”
“Shut up you noisy bug! Nothing’s stopping you from running away now! We’ll buy you the time you need to get away!”
“The orc woman should keep quiet! I’m talking to Iris!”
“Yaaaaah! Get down here! We’ll use you as bait again!”
Shaking her sword upwards, Toslin started shouting at Lapris on the roof. However for a brief moment, the dragon’s single eye focused on us on the ground, and a low growl formed in the back of its throat. Spores swimming through the air were pushed aside by the big, huge breaths from the dragon’s nostrils. What remained of the huge pile of hemp bags could be counted up using two hands at this point.
“If it doesn’t want to sleep, maybe it’ll suffocate instead. Those thick spores are clogging up its nose, and it looks like he’s having a hard time breathing.”
Carol’s fed up mutterings reached my ears. The spores floating in the air were so thick it looked like the dragon had been painted yellow. I’m really not exaggerating, the dragon’s entire figure was getting hazy through the fog of spores hanging in the air.
“Iris, that good enough. Thank you for coming to try and help us.”
“We will be fine. Now please run away with everyone.”
“But, but then……..everyone……..”
I quickly wiped away the tears that started to build up again.
“Don’t worry, we’ll escape too.”
That’s a lie. How can you escape from a dragon when your bodies are already so worn out? I shook my head.
“E-Everyone……. Once more everyone! Please give me one more chance!”
I turned my back to the three of them and ran in the opposite direction. I drew an arc, keeping myself a certain distance from the dragon.
“W-What are you doing!? Have you lost your mind!? Get back here Iris!?”
Toslin started to chase after me, but I put my hand up and shouted.
“Stay away! Once more……..it needs to breathe fire one more time!”
I’m not sure if she accepted my stubbornness or didn’t understand what I was talking about and was too stunned to move. But either way, Toslin did as I said.
“Good grief, you…….. What, you just need it to shoot fire?”
I nodded. The dragon aimed for me and swung its neck. Each time it stepped firmly with its ginormous feet, I could feel the earth shake in my gut.
“Over here you stupid dragon! You half dead failure!”
Toslin grabbed a broken off piece of wood lying at her feet and threw it at the dragon. It hit the dragon right on the head diverting his attention away from me.
“Over here! He~y, you stu – pid – id – iot! You stupid dragon that almost killed itself failing to stick a landing~!”
Carol picked up a nearby stone and fired it right into one of the dragon’s open wounds.
“Over here too! U-Um…….well………anyways look over here!”
Rose-san and Goldmund were also running one way, showing off just how unfamiliar she was with provoking somebody while throwing stones and splintered wood.
With the dragon standing in the middle of the village square, the four of us separated in different directions and started provoking the dragon. This way……..just like this we’ll keep getting the dragon angrier from a distance where he can’t reach, and surely he’ll start spitting fire. And then………
“Ryland-san! When I give the signal, throw all the leftover bags at once! Only then…….just a little longer……..please follow me”
The plea I made to Ryland-san was drowned out by the dragon’s bellows. And yet she smiled sweetly, her pearly white teeth peeking through.
“Listen up everyone! These ojou-chans’ bravery is something that should be truly admired! How can any of you say you don’t want to fight anymore when you’ve seen this!? Just as Iris said, when she gives the signal, throw everything you have, so be ready!”
Ryland-san’s voice resounded across the village from the observation platform. Although the majority of the village was made up of women at the moment, voices from men and women both young and old joined together to project a powerful battle cry.
“Show this idiotic dragon our strength!”
The unity between villagers was amazing, and under Ryland-san’s direction, the remaining hemp bags were passed around the square. Now it was just a matter of waiting for him to fire. Right, just spit it out!
“Where are you looking, over here!”
The stone I threw sailed through the air and hit the dragon’s eye. With one eye already gone, the dragon got even more irritated than before and roared at me. But it’s useless; still there were no flames bubbling in the back of its throat. The dragon was foaming at the mouth each time it roared, but it couldn’t pick out its prey with our provocation battle causing it to constantly spin itself around. We threw whatever we could get our hands on, all to try and fuel the dragon’s rage.
But, this method isn’t enough to make him want to use his flames. Once he’s decided on a prey, he moves closer seemingly intent on pouncing on them instead. And now the dragon has started to slowly close the distance, keeping me in its sight. I froze in place right as I was holding another stone aloft.
“Get out of there Iris!”
“This…….have one of these, dragon!”
Carol beaned the dragon near its eye with another stone, but it had already made its decision, and thus continued advancing on me with drool dripping down its chin.
“Hurl the bags!”
“No, don’t! Not yet! You can’t throw them yet!”
I immediately canceled Ryland-san’s instructions. Those are the last of our mushrooms. We can’t waste them on nothing.
“But Ojou-chan is! Damn, I don’t know what to do!”
Ryland-san looked away towards the heavens while the only sound ringing in my ears was me gulping down my saliva while frozen under the dragon’s icy glare.
“LAPRISSSSSSSSSS………LIGHTNINGGGGGGGGGGG! FULL POWER KICKKKKKKKK!!!”
At first, I didn’t know what had happened. It was only when the dragon’s entire body began to convulse, and it released a blood-curdling scream of agony did I realize that Lapris had flown down from the sky as fast as lightning and delivered a kick with all her might right into the dragon’s eye.
“Here’s my thanks for bowling over all those trees in our forest. Keep the change.”
Lapris left her taunts while flying back up at the speed of mud compared to when she had flown down.
“By any chance, is there any reason why you’d think it’s too heavy to jump after you?”
“Shut your mouth orc-woman! It’s going to fire! Oi Iris! Do you get it!?”
“Yeah……..Yeah! Thank you Lapris!”
It seems that the dragon’s rage had shifted to the escaping Lapris after she smacked its lost eye. It focused all its rage on Lapris’s retreating back, and opening its mouth wide, began to brew some flames in the back of its throat.
With Ryland-san’s voice echoing outwards, all the villagers threw what hemp bags they had left at the dragon at the same time. A large number of mushroom spores scattered from the bags as each one hit the dragon in the head.
“W-What do we do after this Iris!?”
I understood that everyone’s gaze had landed on me. But, I don’t have the time to explain everything to them just yet. The dense spores wrapped around the dragon’s head, forming a cloud and completely obscuring its head. I stared and waited, for that moment when the dragon would finally spit out its flames. And finally, the moment when the flames building in the dragon’s throat finally leapt from its lips.
Tongues of flame spewed forth licking past the cloud of spores. At that instant, the flames explode in the spore fog. And then in the next instant……
An explosive noise burst forward almost knocking me off my feet as a rush of hot air beat itself against us.
Toslin and the others screamed, but I kept my gaze fixed on the dragon using my arms to shield my face.
Pummeled by the intense heat, Lapris was blown away screaming. I feel really bad for her, but I can’t afford to go check how she’s doing just yet.
The most important moment is yet to come.