"This is our shot," I yelled. "If we don't stop it here, we might not ever stop it. Give it everything you've got."
The military didn't respond, they just watched in silence as the colossus lumbered forward, seemingly growing taller by the second as it climbed the far side of the hill.
"You know what to do," I said. "Look for weak points, and exploit them. Work together. We're more effective if we can use our magic in tandem."
I looked at the army. Many of them looked scared. I was too. I couldn't imagine us defeating such a powerful monster, but what other option did we have? Our ancestors stopped it once before, we could only hope that we could manage the same.
Was there anything else I could do to prepare—to give us some kind of advantage? I tried to think of the tricks I had learned with my magic. I thought of the plant monsters and treants—the versatility my magic had. Then I remembered Palem and Kadero, using carried dirt to help in situations where they had none. I reached down and picked up two handfuls, shoving them in my bag, and in the pockets of my skirt. I couldn't imagine needing it in a battle that took place on a grassy hill, but it couldn't hurt to have it.
"It's time to fight!" yelled Rodrigo to his army of Humans. "Let's stop this monster. For Brighton!" The Humans cheered, and Rodrigo began to charge forward. The Humans followed, creating a chain reaction as the other races joined the charge
We joined too. My heart and mind raced as we ran toward a monster big enough to crush any one of our armies with a single footfall.
"You have any good ideas?" I asked Tigala and Lolan as we ran. "Any thoughts on weak points or ways we can hurt it?"
"No," said Tigala. "I'm just hoping we can overwhelm it."
I turned back to the creature and looked for anything that would help in the coming fight. Along its chest was a swirl of shifting colors. It had to be a result of the magic that it was infused with, like Grollock. Maybe that could help? Or maybe that would count as a beacon? I looked for Kesq and couldn't find her. Maybe I would see her out there. More likely I'd have to experiment with it first.
The first of the Humans reached the colossus and began firing large blasts of magic at it. Some fired on their own, but many formed groups of five to ten Humans and collectively formed massive fireballs to launch at the drake.
It screamed in response and slammed down a foot. A bronze glow rippling out from the foot produced a series of stone pillars that shot from the ground, tearing through the thickest section of the Human formation. Several Humans were launched into the air.
The Avians were close behind. A few flew to the air, catching Humans that had been launched. Flashes of purple magic preceded several Gnomes appearing in the air, grabbing falling Humans, and then disappearing again.
Good. We were working together, so far at least. That was what we needed if we were going to make it out of this.
There were more races attacking the doom drake now. Saurians were shooting torrents of water at and under the monster's feet. The soft earth beneath it was starting to pull back. Other Saurians ran forward and froze portions of the water into ice. They weren't trying to lock the foot in place though. Instead, they were making thick icy patches beneath it, limiting the monster's traction. The foot began to slip and the Saurians continued their assault.
The monster, for its part, was focusing on storm magic. The sky darkened with black swirling clouds, and lightning jumped from cloud to cloud. Rain began to pour down without relent.
I looked to the Elves who had now reached the creature as well. They focused mainly on creating a thick fog, that they directed above the battlefield, toward the drake's face. They struggled to send it high enough to block the creature's vision due to the monster's own storm.
The drake screamed and used a claw to swipe through a portion of the army. Bodies flew through the air, and three furrows in the ground were all that was left behind. This wasn't good. We were barely hurting the thing.
I looked to Tigala and Lolan who both seemed to be figuring out where and how they could help. I gave them a nod, and they returned it. Then I ran for the monster's legs where the Saurians were.
It was chaos. There were so many types of magic firing off that it was hard to know what was magic and what wasn't. The ground was pulled up, and people yelled orders or screamed for help.
I ran through a group of Avains that held spears. They were charging the beast as well, several with white glowing eyes.
A group of Dwarves was shifting stones, altering the battlefield to make it hard for the monster to stand on level ground. I ran through the maze of earth spikes, continuing toward one foot.
The doom drake screamed again. I looked up to see it looking back down in my general direction. It breathed deep and then red flames licked from its mouth.
The flames barreled toward me. I looked around for something to take cover under. I settled for an angled earthen spike that the Dwarves had made. I felt the heat, but it was reduced, more so than I even expected from the makeshift shelter I had found. I peaked around the spike at the sky and saw the flames being redirected. They rippled outward in a dome shape well above my head. I looked around and saw Rodrigo with a group of other Humans using red magic to control the torrent.
The flames faded out and I was back to running. The monster swung its claw behind me. I only heard the screams of the warriors it struck.
I looked back wondering if there was anything I could do to help. I found a Gnome still strapped into a crippled machination. He was screaming and clawing at his legs.
I rushed to his side. "What is it?"
"It's melting! My legs!" he screamed.
"Hang on, I'm coming," I yelled. I climbed onto the machine and began prying at the straps that held him in place. Once they were free, I saw the real problem amidst his screams of pain. His leg was pinned in the metal, the section glowing red with heat.
I grew a root as fast as I could, thinking back to Riak and how he was able to dig much better with roots than vines. I snaked it into the metal and used it to pry the two pieces apart. When the Gnome had the slightest opening, he pulled himself free with his hands, leaving his legs limp behind him. He toppled onto the battlefield and panted for breath. I looked at his legs. They were black and gooey from the burning metal. I couldn't tell if I was looking at skin or fabric.
"Help!" I yelled. "We need a teleporter!"
I looked around for anyone that could fix this and as I did, I heard the word 'teleporter' echo around me. I looked down to see the Gnome creating an illusionary megaphone phone of purple magic. He was projecting my request.
In a moment, Porthos appeared in front of us in a swirl of violet energy. He looked down at the Gnome and then back at me with worry on his face. "I'll get him out of here," he said. "Stay safe."
"You too," I said, but he was already teleporting away.
I looked around at the battlefield. It was still chaos, but the groups were starting to mix more than when we had arrived. Humans seemed to be positioned throughout to protect against fire attacks. Saurians were now hitting the drake from all angles and dispersed throughout the fight. Dwarves were creating obstacles and cover all over the battlefield.
We were surviving, so far at least. We were finding ways to help each other. I looked up at the monster. It was still as big as when we first saw it. I looked for wounds or weak points. There were pockmarks of red flesh showing across its body now. They were scratches relative to the size of the creature itself, but at least it was progress.
I was close to the monster's foot now, still with Saurians trying to trip it. However, it was so large that they were having trouble affecting it. I wasn't sure that I could help, but it was worth a shot. With enough plants, maybe we could pin it. And if we could pin it, maybe we could actually topple this giant.
The foot stepped forward, breaking free of the Saurian's restraints in a spray of ice shards. But the step helped, putting me closer to it. I ran to where it was due to touch down and began growing plants on the spot. I focused again on roots, hoping that the tougher exterior would be enough to hold the monster's foot.
The foot landed with another earth-shattering impact. Bronze light spread from it in a series of cracks spiraling outward. The Dwarves yelled, preparing for the incoming attack.
The earth erupted. Stone exploded out, launching people into the air. Others were swallowed up into holes in the ground. I saw the split that was headed for me and did my best to grab onto the root I had been growing. It loosened the root from the soil, and it began to collapse into the ground. I used my magic to throw me in the direction of nearby ground that had been untouched. I landed skidding against the dirt and rock, scraping my arms. It was the least of my worries in a fight of this size.
I pulled myself to my feet and searched for my root that had sunk into the hole. It was still intact, and only part-way underground. I looked back at the drake's foot as I heard the sound of moving earth again. An aftershock was headed my way, along the same path as the crack that had already been formed. It closed the earth that had previously been opened up.
I focused on the root and slammed the top of it onto the solid ground outside of the canyon. It pulled itself out just in time for the ground to close up.
The monster's foot was now stationary. Now was my chance if I was going to have one. I wrapped the root around it, focusing all of my magic into it. It grew stronger and stretched to cover the entire clawed black foot. I dug it back into the ground on the opposite side and made more forks of root into the earth to anchor it. Then I grew more.
The second one went faster than the first. It felt different, like when I had used magic in tandem with Riak.
"Thought I'd help," said Palem. I looked and found him standing next to me with Bubba at the ready. His hands glowed green with magic.
I gave him a slight smile and doubled my efforts on the root.
Saurians arrived at the monster's foot, and they too began washing out the earth beneath it and freezing the water in its place. They created spikes of ice anchoring it to the ground.
Then more earth shot up around the foot, but this wasn't meant to harm us. Dwarves had circled around it, with Cairn being one of them. They worked in tandem, covering the foot with stone.
Palem and I had finished our third root now and it was properly anchored. This was working. We might be able to get the doom drake prone. Then we could hurt its more vulnerable parts. Now we just needed something to lure it to step forward.
I looked up at it. It was sending down another torrent of fire that was being blocked by the Humans. It looked angry as it screamed at us.
"Hit it harder!" I yelled. "Get him to take another step!"
A female Human with short hair looked at me and nodded. She yelled an order to nearby Humans that I couldn't make out. They collectively formed a massive fireball. Before they launched it at the monster, they backed up, allowing it to grow larger with each step. It was something the monster probably wouldn't want to get hit with.
The monster screamed again and tried to take another step forward to swipe at the Humans. The drake tried to pull up its foot causing rock and ice to pop around it. Most of it stayed put, holding the foot where it was. Palem and I focused on strengthening the existing roots as the foot pulled. It was strong, but our anchors were holding. The monster's weight shifted forward. He was off balance, but just as I thought we had him, our restraints broke in a spray of stone and ice.
My heart dropped, but then I realized we had done enough. The monster had already leaned too far forward and its foot was held back long enough that it wouldn't be able to catch itself. The doom drake fell forward. People screamed as they hurried to get clear of the falling colossus. Flashes of violet marked the Gnomes teleporting in and out to save people from the impact. Avians with white glowing eyes led others to locations they deemed safe from the fall.
"Get ready!" I yelled. "We need to pin it down as soon as it hits!"
The monster fell like a falling tree—no, like a falling mountain. It was slow and fast at the same time. It finally touched down. The earth shook hard enough to knock me off of my feet. Dust billowed out from the drake and for a brief moment, everything was still.
We couldn't waste any time. If we wanted to stop it, we needed to take advantage of anything we could, and that included the monster being prone. Maybe if we could pin it down we could do some real damage to it.
I sprinted into the cloud of dust and blindly formed vines and roots. I could only tell where they were by the faint green glow through the dust. I told them to search and I could feel where they met resistance and where they didn't. I could feel the basic form of the monster, though I had no sense of texture to be sure they were reaching over the heavy scales of the beast. Nonetheless, I had a pretty good idea of where it was, and sent my vines over it, winding and twisting to form a web of knots wherever possible.
I saw more spots glowing green that weren't from me, and was able to make out the faint silhouette of Palem riding Bubba not too far from me. His vines connected to mine.
"Come on!" I yelled, hoping others would join soon. "Pin it down."
Other cries rang across the battlefield. It was so much noise, between explosions, shifting rock, screams of pain, and commands from the various battlefield commanders. I continued to focus on my plants.
More people joined the effort. Rocks tore from the earth and rested on the monster's limbs. More ice formed around its edges, working its way slowly over the bulkier part of its colossal back. There was even a Beastfolk, shaping some kind of metal to extend the same way Mila had managed to stretch her limbs. The metal reached across the monster. One more anchor point. One more chance that we might actually be able to keep this thing down.
Is this really going to work?
The monster was still for the time being. Did we hurt it? Was it resting?
Then, there was a huff of breath from somewhere around the monster's head. I looked and saw the dark silhouette of the creature's head and neck, lifting from the ground. I guess no one had pinned that part yet? It raised well above our heads and stayed still for a moment. The ambient light around it seemed to get brighter. Then it screamed again.
It twitched its body, trying to break free of the restraints. Some rocks broke free and some of my vines snapped, but for the most part, it was stuck.
Then the drake decided it had had enough. Its front arm flexed with muscle, and then there was a loud series of pops and cracks as the monster pulled its top half free.
It screamed again, angry that its lower half was still pinned. Then, with a burst of violet smoke, the monster disappeared entirely. Where did it go? I thought, afraid of what the answer might be.
It seemed others were thinking the same thing. Someone yelled, "Up there!"
I looked in the general direction that a nearby Avian pointed. Up above us was a dark shadow looming over us, and it was coming down fast. I ran to escape the impact of its body once more. It slammed into the earth and this time a tidal wave formed from its feet and continued outward.
People were sucked up into the water and slammed against the ground, debris, and other people.
Why did it even let us trip it if it can just teleport out of restraints? I thought. Was it playing with us? Was it enjoying the slow destruction of a small army that had the audacity to take it on?
I ran toward the water. The water rushed forward, but I saw what I was aiming for. I scaled one of my vines that had been holding the creature down, and the water slammed into it. It swayed at first, threatening to pull free of the ground. I focused, strengthening the roots, begging it to hold. But the water was quicker and stronger. It pulled out and plunged me into the backside of the tidal wave. The water swirled and slammed me against the ground, rocks, and anything else. It hurt. When I finally gained my bearings enough to pull my head above the water, I opened my eyes.
The looming monster was no longer there. It had disappeared entirely. Was it using a different kind of magic now? Did it disappear with illusion magic?
I continued looking for it and didn't see it anywhere. Then, behind me, I heard a distant explosion of masonry. I looked over my shoulder and found that the doom drake was already in Briqor. It teleported in. The city erupted with destruction, and it was too far away for any of us to help.