CHAPTER 26 - Power Creep (2)
A floating window that only he could see popped into existence. On this translucent screen, dozens of empty squares could be seen, along with two in the top-left corner that bore simple pictures.
Zach reached up and pressed one of the squares, and a waterskin fell into his free hand, seemingly materialized from thin air. The other icon, a sword, shifted to the left, taking up the newly emptied slot.
“Very good, Hero. You seem to be adapting to your powers rather quickly.”
Morgana offered her warm smile and approving nod as Zach swiped the air, removing the window she couldn’t see from existence.
He uncorked the waterskin and took a swig of the clear liquid. He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand.
Another window popped into existence, this one filled with text. HP, MP, level, EXP… It was just like a character menu in the MMO that had earned him his promotion. He focused on the skills section, drinking in the words he found there.
It struck him once more that he wasn’t in a dream. Or, if he was, not a dream he wished to wake up from any longer.
He swiped once more, and the status window disappeared like the inventory screen had. He directed his attention to his savior and smiled.
“Seems like it, right? It feels so natural, like this is what I was always meant to do. I’m still not sure what you want me to do, but I feel like I anything is possible.”
His gaze slowly drifted to the other people, mounted up and ready to set out. Perhaps it was part of the ‘Hero’s Sensibility’ skill, but he wasn’t nervous anymore. He began walking towards the only unmounted panther, offering his hand to Morgana as he did so. His wounds were gone, but he didn’t even question his rapid recovery at this point.
“Let’s get going, Morgana. I need to repay my debt to you.”
“Y’all might wanna wake up. We’ve got company!”
Alex shouted as loud as he could, and it wasn’t long before the others emerged from their tents in various forms of hasty preparations. Quinn was the first to reach Alex’s side, still buttoning his shirt. The large shield made it awkward, strapped to his arm as it was.
“What do you see, Ser?”
“That’s the thing… Like, I’m sure of what it is, but I’m still not totally believing it. Tell me…”
He continued to look at the sky with ALICE’s scope.
“Are dragons a real thing, here?”
Treya and Celia joined the men as Alex asked the question. Celia immediately moved to start packing the tents back up as Treya answered.
“We need to leave. Now.”
She placed her hand on Alex’s shoulder, trying to pull him from his kneeling stance. When he didn’t budge, she tried to tug him again, but his rugged frame held firm.
“Alex! We can’t fight that thing without some serious firepower, so we need to run away!”
“Will you shut up for a second and let me concentrate?!”
All three of his companions were taken aback by the sudden burst of anger evident in his voice. It was the first time he sounded genuinely furious, rather than just annoyed. Before they could reply, his hand began to glow as it passed over the glass above the chambered round.
“How much firepower do we need?”
Treya stammered, replying as if on instinct. “Th-the wolves were like one scale of even a young dragon.”
“Draining reserves. Dark element detected. Rerouting Mana Reactor to Glyph distribution.”
Alex’s body remained steady as the blue light on the side of his trusted friend slowly disappeared. A new light, or absence thereof, surged forward from the glass Alex had passed his hand over, seeming to suck in the surrounding moonlight.
“Say when, girlfriend~”
Despite the tense atmosphere, Alex’s voice sounded joyful now, and a crooked grin shifted the cheek pressed against ALICE’s stock. The others looked on with a mixture of confusion and awe as the darkness grew.
“Cartridge capacity reached in 6.. 5… 4…”
He placed his finger on the trigger and began to pull slowly.
“3… 2… 1…”
The roar of the rifle left the camp’s ears ringing, and the horses thrashed about from the unexpected sound as they tried to break their leads and run away.
As the party attempted to regain their senses, a long cry could be heard in the distance.
Alex watched as the dragon began to tumble from the sky.