Chapter 3 : Appearance of the Older Brother
‘Baolilong, do you have any method to drive them away?’
Liola had no choice but to ask. He had originally planned on dealing with all the Lesser-Dragons, so they wouldn’t pose a problem once he was gone. However, judging from the current situation, it might be a problem to deal with all of them at once. Therefore, it might be better for Baolilong to demonstrate its might as the Sacred White Dragon and try to drive away these Lesser-Dragons.
‘No, papa, Baolilong did tell them before not to fight me, but they still attacked. They’re so strange.’ Baolilong complained while pouting.
Liola’s heart sank. It looked like the only way out of this was to fight. He had to tell Baolilong to not worry about how cooked they were, but to quickly get rid of the Lesser-Dragons because he couldn’t hold on for too long.
Baolilong noticed the urgency in Liola’s mind via telepathy. It didn’t dare to play anymore. It immediately circled around, shooting lightning balls continuously out of its mouth.
Other than the places protected by the Red Aura, everywhere else looked like the end of the world: bolts of lightning flying every which way. Not only did the bolts destroy Lesser-Dragons, they had often landed on structures. Many of the houses had now been leveled.
“Mama, our house…”
The boy had been hiding in his mother’s arms, but as soon as he saw where they had lived being hit by lightning, he let out a cry, but his mother held him even tighter in her arms, trying to make him look away from the terrifying scenes outside.
Liola didn’t notice until now, they were actually destroying the homes of these civilians… but he had no other choice. If he didn’t let Baolilong use large-scale attacks, and kill them one by one instead, then his Aura might not even hold up long enough to kill a fifth of all the Lesser-Dragons. So even if he was heartbroken for destroying their homes, he knew he couldn’t let Baolilong stop.
“Sorry, I can’t stop.” Liola apologized unhappily.
The civilians froze. They had never thought Silver Mask would apologize to them. Though it was hard for them to see their homes destroyed, but at least they could keep their lives. How could they want anything else in the situation? As for Silver Mask’s apology, they didn’t seem to accept it, but instead they were touched he would actually say something like that.
However, Bour seemed to be furious; he said angrily, “What are you talking about! Do you really think we would blame you? We aren’t ungrateful people. If you hadn’t helped, we would’ve either died from hunger, or be eaten as food by the Lesser-Dragons. By then, even if the houses are standing still, who the hell are going to be living in them?”
As Bour spoke, everyone nodded their heads desperately, because they noticed Silver Mask’s furrowed eyebrows and tightened lips, as though he was feeling guilty, and not just simply expressing his apology. This scared everyone, and they began to agree with Bour; some of them even stood up and yelled, “We will never blame Sir Silver Mask!”, “Right, if it weren’t Sir Silver Mask giving us meat yesterday, we might not even have the strength to stand up and run away today, not to mention Sir Silver Mask is actually helping us stop the Lesser-Dragons!”
Liola smiled slightly. Not being the most articulate person, he didn’t know what to reply, so he habitually nodded, then concentrated on maintaining the shield. His duty was now to protect these people, to payback the warmth he felt in his heart as a result of their actions.
A dozen Lesser-Dragons rammed into the shield from all directions. With Liola’s support, the shield still tightly protected the civilians. And then, those who dared to hit the shield were pulverized by Baolilong, who was eager to defend its papa and master, with its super-large-lightning ball.
This happened repeatedly; Liola was concentrating on maintaining the Aura shield on the inside, and Baolilong desperately using lightning to take care of Lesser-Dragons. The problem seemed to be contained, and the situation stable, as long as nothing unexpected happened…
Unfortunately, the unexpected was already well underway. When Baolilong saw the Lesser-Dragons reaching this little city, they had already rushed in like the tide. Even if the city walls weren’t destroyed by then, they were able to brute force them down with their strength and numbers.
‘Why? Why would the Lesser-Dragons enter such a meaningless little city without the slightest of hesitation?’ Liola felt uneasy in his heart; could it be because of him? Were these sent by the Dragon Emperor? If that was the case, then didn’t he just become the reason why the civilians were in danger? After thinking about this, his face darkened.
The people misunderstood his expression; they thought Silver Mask’s change of expression was because there were too many Lesser-Dragons and he could no longer maintain the shield.
“Silver Mask…” Bour suggested kindly, “If you really can’t hold on, then fly away with the women and children. At least you can save some of us, we will already be thankful, truly!”
Truthfully, this had crossed Liola’s mind before. He could take the people he cared about, such as the mother, the child, and Bour, etcetera. As for everyone else… he turned around to look, and everyone was looking at him anxiously; some people have already accepted their fate, and warmly trying to persuade their wives and children, whom remained firm about staying and not leaving.
Perhaps some people thought about their fates, and couldn’t help but cry, but they still suppressed their voice, so it wouldn’t affect others. Some children didn’t seem to care, and cried instead, not wanting to leave their mothers.
“Go, Silver Mask, you’ve done everything you can for us.” Bour kept suggesting; he didn’t want to see a kind Knight like him to lose his life here.
‘No! I can’t abandon these people.’ Liola made up his mind. These people had made him feel warm inside again and again, and it reminded him of his brother Mocha’s smile. Just for that reason alone, he wouldn’t abandon these.
“I don’t want to leave. If I can’t hold on, I will ask Baolilong take some people with it.” Liola said calmly. After that, he didn’t waste any more of his focus on anything other than holding the shield, so Baolilong could take care of the enemies.
“Silver Mask!” Bour yelled in shock, but Liola completely ignored him. Bour wouldn’t dare to go shake Silver Mask, because he didn’t know if it would affect this red shield of his.
In that instant, he was completely helpless; other people also shouted Silver Mask’s name, trying to say things like “don’t be stubborn” and “value your own life”, but Liola didn’t have any reaction at all. He was now completely focused on maintaining the shield.
Despite Baolilong’s eagerness to protect its papa and master, with its continuous lightning balls, but there were simply far too many Lesser-Dragons. For every one Lesser-Dragon falling from the lightning, two charged up to take its place. For every row of Lesser-Dragons falling, another row of them came up. For Baolilong, who hadn’t completely matured, it was very taxing to its body. Slowly, the lightning coming out of Baolilong’s mouth became slower and weaker.
Liola knew Baolilong was already tired, and it was simply trying to keep going without telling him, but he knew Baolilong couldn’t hold out for much longer just by looking at it.
Liola was very worried how long Baolilong could keep going, especially when the number of Lesser-Dragons he could see had not decreased at all. He knew, it might be impossible to depend on Baolilong to clear all of the Lesser-Dragons.
However, there was no other way in the present situation. He was now completely helpless… Liola had rarely felt pain of this helplessness, because whenever it happened before, there was always someone who could help him resolve it… someone?
‘Kaiser! If they’re close by, they could come to rescue them.’ Liola immediately told Baolilong via telepathy to look for Kaiser and others.
‘Do you really want to look for them, papa?’ Baolilong seemed to hesitate.
‘What are you saying? Of course I do, we had already been looking for Kaiser before…’ Liola asked Baolilong back strangely.
‘But before, papa didn’t really want to look for Kaiser, but instead you were just saying, but you didn’t think about finding them, so Baolilong didn’t ask Flames.’ Baolilong pouted, confused as to why papa words were different than his thoughts.
Liola was shocked. He didn’t really want to find Kaiser? Was that really how it was?
The shock he received affected his Aura; his previously stable Aura had now become a bit precarious. With the ramming of the Lesser-Dragons, the Aura began to shake, causing the people inside to scream out loud. This sound seemed to have made Liola recover his thoughts. He took another few deep breaths, to try to temporarily suppress the shock from what Baolilong said.
‘It’s fine. Ask Flames, how far away are they?’ Liola calmed down his thoughts, and the Aura resumed its previously secure form.
“Silver Mask, listen to me, don’t throw your life away here. Quickly carry some people and leave here.”
Bour attempted to persuade desperately. The shaking of the Aura before made him believe Silver Mask couldn’t hold on anymore. It’s hard to blame him, because a person stopping thousands of Lesser-Dragons was completely unprecedented. It wasn’t just Bour; all the other civilians began to persuade Silver Mask to leave.
Liola frowned, and used Ki to make his voice echo in everyone’s ears, “Quiet!”
His voice did indeed quiet down everyone. His deep voice and his stable footing suddenly made everyone feel more secure, and they all suddenly felt like there might be a way out of this. Even Bour stopped talking, but he felt the person in front of him seemed to be unpersuadable yet he couldn’t stop to trust him.
‘Papa, Flames said it’s at the Commerce Alliance, and Kaiser and others are the secret base. They’re both very far away.’
Hearing Baolilong, Liola’s heart sank. It seemed that hope was gone, so what could he do next?
For now, other than forcefully holding on, Liola didn’t have any other choice. Minutes passed by, and the lightning out of Baolilong’s mouth was far and few in between. It didn’t complain, and it began to attack with its claws instead. Diving out of the sky, Baolilong clawed out a bloodied path; every Lesser-Dragon in the path had their skins ripped apart, but it seldom killed them. It often took Baolilong two to three tries, unless it happen to land on a vital spot, before it could take the Lesser-Dragons’ lives.
The Lesser-Dragons’ numbers should be decreasing, but when the Lesser-Dragons formed an endless sea, no one could tell if their numbers were decreasing. Especially now that Baolilong’s threat of lightning was gone, the Lesser-Dragons’ attacks intensified, and the pressure on Liola to maintain the Aura had increased. He knew, if this continued, he couldn’t hold for long.
However, he can’t just give up! He had no choice but to let the Aura drain more and more of his strength. With his estimates, he could only hold up at most another half hour before he would die from exhaustion.
Time waits for no one. As time passed by, Baolilong began to panic. It can sense the anxiety in Liola, and his ever-decreasing stamina. It desperately dived again and again, tearing deep, red wounds into the Lesser-Dragons’ flash, but even more Lesser-Dragons charged at the shield. Even the bloodied wounds on their heads weren’t enough to stop them.
Gradually, the wall of Aura became thinner, and Liola was at the limit of his stamina. Now, he had planned for the worst; he told Baolilong, as soon as he falls, it must take every civilian it could to fly away.
‘What about papa?’ Baolilong yelled loudly, as if it felt Liola didn’t seem to want to leave.
Sure enough, Liola remained silent and didn’t respond to Baolilong. He had already planned, when he exhausted all his Ki, he would use his life force to hold it up. So when he could no longer hold the shield, would be the time when his life ended, so whether they take him away… it would make no difference.
Since Baolilong was anxious, it didn’t know what to do. The only choice it had was to attack the Lesser-Dragons; it thought that if it could kill off all the Lesser-Dragons, then it would be great. Baolilong’s thoughts were quite simple.
Liola’s Ki was now mostly gone, and the Aura wall was now paper thin. It was time to use his life force.
“Silver Mask, are you okay? You don’t look so well.” Bour asked worriedly. From what he saw, Silver Mask was already pale before, but now he was white as paper, and even his lips are gray.
Liola didn’t hear Bour’s question.
“Something’s wrong with sir Silver Mask. Bour, quick, think of something!” The mother yelled anxiously.
Bour rubbed his hands together, and frowned, “B-but what could I do, he’s not willing to leave. He’s stubborn! Too stubborn!” Though the words sounded like he was blaming Liola, but tears rolled out of Bour’s eyes. After he wiped them off, he stared, without blinking, at Silver Mask, trying to forever remember the figure of the one who saved them.
“Woo…” The mother covered her face, and quietly wept. No matter how much she didn’t want to see Silver Mask sacrifice himself, there was little she could do.
Ki… was now gone. Liola pulled himself together, and put in his life force.
‘Papa, stop!’ Baolilong now finally realized what Liola was about to do. It roared anxiously, and circled endlessly above Liola.
“What’s older brother doing?” The boy peeked his head out of his mother’s arms, and curiously pointed the white Dragon circling above the shield.
Bour and the mother raised their heads, and saw the white Dragon circling, with the low roar coming from its mouth sounding like weeping. Everyone now understood, the White Dragon was worried for its master. This clearly showed, Silver Mask definitely couldn’t hold out much longer.
“Please just leave us!” The mother continued to weep.
Bour finally could no longer stand by. He pounced towards the only person standing, Silver Mask, hoping to catch his attention. He didn’t expect that this action would’ve made the man who held down thousands of Lesser-Dragons fall. Bour immediately climbed up, and held up Silver Mask. He didn’t realize until now, Silver Mask had already passed out.
Because Silver Mask fainted, the shield had now immediately disappeared. There was now nothing stopping the Lesser-Dragons from the civilians. The civilians had now froze; facing the giant, drooling, and stinking mouth of the Lesser-Dragons, many seemed to already be prepared to be eaten as food. Suddenly, a giant lightning ball exploded above the civilians, and the electricity expanded in all directions. Even if it didn’t electrocute the Lesser-Dragons, it did paralyze their bodies for a long while.
Bour carried up Silver Mask, and yelled loudly into the sky, “White Dragon, hurry and come get your master!”
Baolilong’s attention, however, was drawn towards something not far away. It was now ecstatic, because it had already seen the arrival of help. It roared loudly towards the skin, to attract the attention of the help.
Bour saw Baolilong’s actions, and he was confused. After looking towards the direction Baolilong faced, he realized a flock of small black dots in the sky. What could that be… could those be flying Dragons? Or something else? Bour narrowed his eyes, trying to see them clearly…
“Knights!” Bour yelled loudly, and he couldn’t hold back the elation. That’s right, he saw a whole team of Knights flying towards them.
Before long, the Knights arrived. At least seventy percent of them had Dragons as a mount, and they were all at least Blue Ranked. They were all wearing a Dragon-shaped insignia, signifying they were Knights from the Dragon Empire.
As soon as the Knights reached the small city, they began to attack the Lesser-Dragons. The Fire Dragons spit out fire enough to melt steel, the Ice Dragons pinned the Lesser-Dragons to the ground with ice bolts, the Wind Dragons called forth tornados that made the Lesser-Dragons collide into one another, and the Earth Dragons summoned walls from the earth, making the charging Lesser-Dragons smash head-first into the walls and breaking their bones.
A Knight with a deep coffee colored Dragon circled above the civilians, and yelled, “Is everyone okay? Is anyone hurt?”
Remembering Silver Mask on his arms, Bour immediately yelled, “Yes! Yes! There’s a passed out Knight here.”
The Knight on top of the Dragon was clearly surprised. After telling his Dragon to support the others, and he jumped off from the Dragon. Now, the crowd finally could clearly see this Knight was wearing silver-lined white Knight’s uniform. Everyone knew, the Knights with white uniform excel in healing Magic.
All the civilians voluntarily backed up to make a path for this Knight. The Knight was stupefied. Ever since the Dragon Empire exiled the Aklan civilians, he had never received such treatment. Whenever he went, even if he was there to save them, the civilians had never treated him well.
The mother rushed up, and grabbed this Knight’s hands, then pleaded, “Please, hurry and heal Silver Mask.”
“Silver Mask?” The Knight was now in shock. He obviously knew about Silver Mask, the apprentice of the legendary Paladin. However, he even knew the more shocking true identity of this person.
‘Could it really be him?’ The Knight’s face sank, and walked up to Bour. He lightly brushed away Silver Mask’s black hair, and saw his elegant and handsome face.
He took a deep breath, and courteously performed a Knight’s salute, “Successor, Your Highness.”
Everyone who heard froze, especially Bour; he was still carrying the ‘successor’ in his hands.
“Please, put the successor on the ground, so I can examine him.” The Knight seemed to have noticed his actions shocking everyone around. He tried to smile warmly towards Bour.
Bour obediently laid Silver Mask down, his head was still completely blank.
“Hmm… he passed out because his Aura had been exhausted.” The Knight examined and diagnosed the successor’s condition. He was helpless to such a matter; the only thing they could do was to let the successor rest, so he could regain his strength.
“Feir! Can you heal them yourself? Do you need any help?” Another man wearing a White Knight’s uniform yelled in the air.
“He’s not hurt, just exhausted all his Aura.” Feir replied loudly.
“Understood, then hurry and come fight.”
Feir blinked. If he went to fight, and left the fainted successor without anyone to look after, he probably would get blamed into the ground. However, if he yelled to explain “the successor is here”, perhaps a bunch of Knights would trip from the shock, and then the sky might start “raining Knights”. After thinking about that, Feir sighed, and smiled bitterly, “Nah, I better stay here and look after him.”
The other Knight shrugged, then rejoined the fight.
Feir lowered his head, and looked at the black-haired man with closed eyes. Silver Mask, Liola, and successor… all of this man’s identities were equally shocking.
“He’s the successor? That’s impossible!” Bour yelled loudly, “How can Silver Mask be that bastard of a successor who drove us out of our homes?!”
The mother was clearly clueless. How could the kind Silver Mask be the successor who gave the orders so the civilians couldn’t go home, the one who abandoned all the civilians, and even sent Knights to interrogate the civilians in order to find spies and therefore was commonly cursed among the civilians?
Bour’s roars and yells were also heard by others. Everyone’s reactions were near identical: first it was shock, then they were filled with rage, to the point where they almost forgot who was protecting them just moments ago. They began to curse the evil actions of the successor again.
“Please calm down.” Feir noticed something wrong, and immediately began to speak, “Please let me explain.”
Bour roared, “Fine”, and suppressed the discussions of the civilians. With a darkened face, he didn’t seem to care the person in front of him was a silver Knight, he said without any courtesy, “Speak.”
Seeing everyone calming down, Feir fixed his thoughts, then began to explain, “Truthfully, I only knew some of facts. I had already known him for a long time; Liola… or ‘Silver Mask’ as you’ve called him, was not the successor back then. As far as I knew, at the time, even he himself didn’t know he was a Prince.”
Bour frowned, because he now suddenly knew Silver Mask had another name.
“Then, he disappeared for quite some time… when he appeared again, the Dragon Empire had declared him as the successor.” Feir smiled bitterly, remembering back then, even he was deep in shock.
“Even if so, what does that have to do with what the bastard successor had done?” Bour roared.
“Please, just listen to me,” Feir showed a serious face, “I promise you on my Knight’s honor, I would absolutely never believe the Liola I knew would do those things, the things you called the evil acts from the bastard successor. There must be some reason we don’t know.”
Bour and everyone were quiet, and they didn’t know how to react. After all, they were all recipients of Silver Mask’s kindness. They don’t want to treat Silver Mask as the bad guy, but what the successor had done now made them feel angry and scared. If the successor really was a bad person, why would he have helped them for the past few days?
“Let me tell you why, Feir.” A calm yet sorrow-threaded voice could be heard, and the silver-eyed man continued. He wanted to clarify what had happened with everyone. It wasn’t that he wanted to defend himself, but he simply wanted to them the truth. The burden of carrying the truth himself alone was far too painful for him.
“Wait.” Feir suddenly interrupted, “Can you wait until the Knights finish their battles and they can also hear the story?”
Liola glanced at Feir, then nodded.
When the Lesser-Dragons were all either killed by the Knights or ran, Feir gathered all the Knights, then simply told them their successor was there… Sure enough, a dozen or so Knights jumped off their Dragons. Then, the Knights and the civilians, gathered around Liola in a circle, and quietly awaited for him to talk.
Liola looked at Baolilong, and reached out his hand to touch its head, then lightly began to tell his story, “At first, I thought I was an alien from another world; it wasn’t until later that I found out this was actually my world…”