Dreadfire smiled maliciously as he dived towards the settlement. He released a jet of flame, and as he came close enough to touch the houses, swiped out with a front leg. A cluster of buildings crumbled.
Arrows bounced uselessly off his hide; enraged, Dreadfire swooped towards the group of archers, raking his tail through the ground, causing chunks of earth to explode everywhere, until he struck down the archers. He lifted his tail and soared up, far out of range of any human weaponry.
Laughing manically, he conjured up storm clouds above his head. He dropped slightly in the sky from the strain, but had anticipated this and countered it quickly. He called down bolts of lighting, and they struck down people and buildings in the settlement.
The strain of the spell got greater, and Dreadfire was forced to cease the carnage. He swooped down low, snapping his jaws left and right and lashing out with his hind legs. A sword bounced off the lower part of his leg, and he kicked out, killing his assailant. More weapons were hammering against his side; though he knew they could not harm him, Dreadfire considered this too close for comfort, and flapped his great wings to gain altitude again. His assailants were bowled over by the downdraught, and Dreadfire managed to reach a sufficient height.
Dreadfire was about to dive again, when there was a shout. A human shout.
"Deathbringer is here!"
Dreadfire growled. It sounded like a name, or an honourary title. The problem was, it wasn't his name, or his honourary title. Other Rage Dragons were kind and benevolent. So were most dragons. Wyrms were pests, hardly worthy of such as title. So who was it?
His question was answered soon enough. Another Rage Dragon, even larger than Dreadfire, swooped down on the settlement. He breathed great gouts of flame and tore apart the buildings and earth alike with phenomenal strength. Soon he had flown the length of the settlement, and was wheeling round for another attack. As he did so, a small tornade suddenly materialised, tearing apart more buildings. Then it was snuffed out.
Dreadfire knew that the tornado was the product of magic. It must have been Deathbringer's magic. But he hadn't even flinched as he cast the spell. Surely it must have exacted some strain on him?
Deathbringer had assaulted the settlement for the second time when Dreadfire made his move. Roaring and snarling, he dived towards Deathbringer. Deathbringer turned and roared back. The power behind it almost convinced Dreadfire to turn and run, but he didn't.
Deathbringer rose to the same height as Dreadfire. They circled each other warily, preparing to attack.
Dreadfire made the first move.
Dreadfire bulleted towards Deathbringer, front legs outstretched. He raked his claws along Deathbringer's flank, then pushed off again with his hind legs. As he pushed off, Deathbringer moved with lightning speed, his jaws snapping shut around Dreadfire tail, and severing the last few metres.
Dreadfire roared in anguish, as blood spurted from the ragged stump. He flew further away, only for his flanks to be ravaged by Deathbringer's fire. Thankfully, his scales were fireproof.
Now, Deathbringer advanced. His claws lashed out, and three long scars appeared on Dreadfire's flank. They began to bleed profusely. In fury, Dreadfire lashed out with his tail, and then snapped at Deathbringer's neck. His teeth slid off before they could get a grip, and some of them even shattered. Then, Deathbringer's closed fist connected with Dreadfire's side, winding him. He began rapidly losing altitude, but managed to correct it before he hit the ground.
However, Deathbringer now had the advantage. He swooped down upon Dreadfire, and raked his back with his hind legs. Dreadfire screeched in pain and fury, and pursued Deathbringer as he gained height. Once, he was slapped round the head by Deathbringer's tail, but then kept a greater distance.
Taking Dreadfire by surprise, Deathbringer wheeled right round and struck him on the side of the head with a closed fist. Before he could fall from the sky, though, Dreadfire found Deathbringer's tail round his neck, and tightening slowly but surely. His claws scrabbled on Deathbringer's scales, but failed to penetrate. He couldn't bring his jaws into play either.
Desperate, Dreadfire resorted to magic. He formed thunderclouds above the two of them, oblivious to the strain it was exacting on him due to the fact he was held up by Deathbringer. Deathbringer noticed the clouds too, just as Dreadfire brought down bolts of lightning.
Two bolts struck Deathbringer's flank, and in shock, he realised Dreadfire. The following bolts struck a shield of immense power and clearly of Deathbringer's making. Each unsuccessful strike had a large toll on Dreadfire, and he ceased the spell.
Even so, he was now tired out, as well as bruised and wounded in many places. Deathbringer turned to face him for what would likely be the final attack.
Knowing this would be his last stand, Dreadfire was determined to go out fighting. However, before he could make a move upon the incoming Deathbringer, dark fire poured from Deathbringer's jaws. The force of the impact threw him back around ten metres, and the fire burned. He felt himself heating up, which should have been impossible. His scales were alight, the dark fire burning through them.
Calling upon magic again, Dreadfire used the element of water. He washed himself in it, and it eased the heat, but did not put out the fire. Deathbringer laughed, and attacked him with jets of regular fire. Through the smoke, Dreadfire did not see him coming, until the impact.
Deathbringer slammed into his underbelly, cracking the hard scales and sending him somersaulting out of control through the air. He lost height at a frightening pace, and could not bring his wings round to correct it. Panicking, he managed to manouevre his body into a relatively upright position, and he flapped his wings manically.
This succeeded in halting his fall. But Deathbringer was already diving towards him. Dreadfire waited until he was right up close, then rolled to the side, managing a glancing blow to Deathbringer's flank as he did so.
Deathbringer was already turning, but Dreadfire expected it. Upside-down and parallel to the ground, he flew underneath Deathbringer's claws, and struck at his belly with his claws. Sadly, they glanced off without damaging him, and before he could escape from underneath Deathbringer, one of his rear legs smashed into his neck.
Bleeding and badly damaged, Dreadfire managed to escape Deathbringer's deadly claws. He righted himself again, and breathed a jet of flame at Deathbringer, who merely laughed. Then, in a booming voice, he yelled,
"BRING DEATH TO THE DEATHBRINGER IF YOU DARE!"
He folded his wings and dived towards Dreadfire, head first and jaws open. Dreadfire knew the impact would probably kill him, and that, at the speed Deathbringer was going, he only had a few seconds to get out of the way.
Searching for a quick way out, Dreadfire folded his wings against his body.
He dropped like a stone.
Deathbringer zoomed past overhead, and the wind buffeted him around, as well as forcing his wings against his body for a second longer than he would have liked. Dreadfire snapped them open again, but it was too late. He was going to hit the ground. Hard.
He spread his wings, legs and tail, hoping to put minimum pressure on each body part. He slammed into the ground with tremendous force. The earth was rent asunder, and huts nearby crumbled. Dreadfire felt as though his bones were breaking as he lay on the ground.
However, slowly, shakily, he pulled himself back up. His underbelly was caked in dirt, and his feet were bleeding. Dragon scales littered the ground. Despite all this, he looked up, to see Deathbringer diving towards him. Dreadfire unleashed a jet of flame, and it was dissipated harmlessly on his fireproof scales. One of Deathbringer's clawed hands got under Dreadfire neck, and threw him a hundred metres across the ground. He was battered and bruised as he rolled to a stop, lying on his side with one wing crushed underneath his body.
In his booming voice, Deathbringer yelled, "YOUR SCREAMS WILL RESOUND AROUND HELL FOR ALL ETERNITY!"
With a thunderous boom, Deathbringer landed not ten metres from him. He bathed Dreadfire in flames, and through their cover, approached him. Suddenly, Dreadfire saw the shape of Deathbringer's open maw looming above him. He barely pushed himself away before Deathbringer's jaws snapped shut on empty air where he had just been.
A massive, clawed fist slammed into the side of his head. Red and black stars danced before Dreadfire's vision. It was all over. He had finally met his match, in a larger and stronger Rage Dragon. Despairing now, rather than desperate, Dreadfire lay down, closed his eyes, and waited for the final blow.
The blow never came. Eyes still closed, Dreadfire heard Deathbringer proclaim in his booming voice,
"I AM THE DARK LORD OF ALL! THOSE WHO OPPOSE ME SHALL BE CRUSHED LIKE THIS FEEBLE CREATURE! HAIL ME!"
Dreadfire felt a strong breeze on his face, which went after a few seconds. He realised Deathbringer had flown off. Since he had closed his eyes, Deathbringer had assumed he was already dead. Having no intentions of actually eating him, he had flown off. Dreadfire was about to breathe a sigh of relief and opened his eyes, when he realised it might be better to play dead until the villagers were asleep. They couldn't harm him, and he wanted them to think he was dead, so Deathbringer didn't hunt him down again.
When Dreadfire finally opened his eyes, it was pitch black other than the pinpricks of light in the sky that were stars. Dreadfire sniffed the air. No humans outside. Slowly, he stood up, despite his protesting muscles. After resting so long, his muscles were stiff, and in addition, the true pain of Deathbringer's attacks were finally catching up with him. His tail hurt like hell, and each breath was an effort.
His head throbbed, and his sides felt like they were being attacked by some mythical giant. Despite all this pain, he managed to stand up. One of his wings hung limply by his side; snapped in three separate places by his fall and the following strike by Deathbringer. That would take years to heal, at least, which meant he wouldn't be able to fly possibly for a whole decade. Each of his paws were bleeding and bruised, and each step sent a wave of excruciating pain over his already battered body.
Despite all this, Dreadfire was determined to prevail. He half-walked, half-crawled miles from the village, to the location of his most secret lair. He shifted the fallen tree trunk that concealed its entrance, and crawled in. Pulling the tree trunk back took an awful lot of time, pain and effort, but he managed. He crawled to the innermost chamber of his underground home, and laid down to rest.