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21.8 Banyan

# 2218 11 - 15 mins. 8

There was no time. The volcano was in full eruption now, and I was too close to it with a broken body of vine armor. The lava rocketed into the sky like a geyser, and I had only seconds before it would consume me too.

I used the veins. I couldn't see them, but I could feel them. I grew vines as fast as I could, but not to rebuild my vine armor. This time, I grew them just on my arms. I reached out with them, as soon as they had some length and grabbed onto the strongest rocks I could find within range. With something like a slingshot motion, I catapulted my crippled vine armor body down the volcano with me in it.

I tumbled down further and further, occasionally taking an impact so hard that it knocked the wind out of me, but I used the time to regrow, as much as I could manage. When I had finally stopped spinning and sliding down the mountain, I pushed myself up. The world spun around me, but I could see the red glow of lava creeping closer and closer, even still, despite my quick descent. The doom drake fought on above me, but the pink glow had disappeared from its temples.

It screamed and thrashed. Some of the warriors were beginning to look around, wondering if they should run from the volcano or keep fighting. I needed to do something. This was our chance to stop the doom drake.

I pushed myself up. nearly half of the vines that made up my vine armor hung off of me, limp and charred, but I was still a giant among all but the doom drake.

I yelled, amplifying my voice as well as I could with the creaks and rubbing of vines and bark. "Keep the doom drake pinned! We need to trap it in the lava!"

The people below looked up at me with renewed confidence and doubled down in their attacks.

"Gnomes, keep it from teleporting if you can. Use the beacons," I said.

I joined the fight, pinning its leg in place. My vines wrapped around it and coiled until they reached the ground where they took root. I squeezed, doing my best to crush the wounded leg of the monster. It wasn't enough, but it would help.

The lava came closer. Globs of lava and molten rocks fell from the sky, no doubt killing some of us instantly, but we couldn't let up. This might be our only chance to kill the doom drake.

"Hold!" I yelled.

We were more numerous now than we had been throughout the whole fight. More and more had poured in from the illusion beacon not far off, and now we were a force to be reckoned with, but so was the doom drake, unfortunately.

A stream of lava came barrelling down the mountain toward the doom drake. It was almost there. It was almost close enough to melt the monster into nothing. I continued to grow my roots and hold the creature in place. The doom drake screamed, but we were now making progress. Its arms had been frozen over several times. Each time, it broke free but had less mobility. The tail too was being pinned by mountains of stone.

The lava reached the stones holding the monster, and let out a sizzle as it flowed through the stone and began to eat at the doom drake. It let out a ferocious roar and turned its head to find the source of the pain. The doom drake breathed deep and a red glow formed in its chest. But instead of fire coming from its mouth, the lava began to pull back out of the crevice that held its tail. Globs of molten rock were raised into the air, floating for a moment.

I tried to yell a warning, but I was too slow. The doom drake's magic launched a spray of lava across the battlefield. Hundreds fell, but the lava was still coming.

The doom drake took another look over its shoulder and saw the lava continuing toward it. It glowed a purple-blue now.

"Gnomes!" I yelled as I held the drake's leg. The magic flickered and lit in full force. There was a flash and then I was in a different location, still attached to the doom drake. We were about 100 feet from the volcano now.

I looked around for the warriors that were no doubt being engulfed in the lava now that the doom drake wasn't in the way, but I couldn't find them. Where had they gone? Then I heard the war cry from behind me. Everyone involved in the battle was still behind me, further from the lava than the doom drake even though the drake should have teleported behind them. The Gnomes must have tapped into the teleportation spell and brought us all with the monster. It was something, but if the drake teleported further, we might miss our chance to kill it.

The lava was now further away, but the Humans in our ranks ran forward to pull the rivers of fire closer to the doom drake while the rest of us focused on grounding the monster again. Treants surrounded the drake's feet and legs. Saurians worked together to freeze as much of it as they could. The Elves repeatedly struck it with lightning and clouded its vision. We might be able to do this. Just a little longer.

The volcano shook harder now than before, spewing lava at an alarming rate. The Humans sped up the process even more, pulling large waves of the molten earth toward the doom drake. I could feel the heat now, and I was sure the doom drake could too. So what was the next move?

The doom drake roared. It was almost entirely immobilized, with vines and bark and thorns in every nook and cranny of each spell. They were doing damage with Grollok as our mobile beacon.

The doom drake glowed blue-purple again, and I knew this could be it. The doom drake could escape, recover, and then kill us all once and for all. It was up to the Gnomes to stop it.

The purple glowed and lit the sky. It grew brighter and brighter as the doom drake got closer to completing the spell. I didn't dare say a word this time. I had to trust that the Gnomes had this under control. I had to believe it. The purple flickered and dimmed, and then grew again. It was so bright that I was surprised we hadn't teleported yet. Then all of a sudden, like a bucket placed over a lamp, the glow disappeared.

I held my breath, and after a moment, dared a look around. We were still there, at the foot of the volcano. All of us were there.

A cheer erupted among the people. We had done it. We had kept it there. The cheer was interrupted by sizzling as the lava flows hit the tail of the doom drake again. The drake tried to redirect it, but we had too many Humans on it and a fire beacon close enough to use.

The drake tried to claw at us, but the sustained ice magic held them stuck in place. Some would break, but it was being replaced faster than the doom drake could break it.

My roots held it to the ground along with the rocks of the Dwarves.

Plant-covered giant animals tore flesh from bone.

Avains flew and attacked with spears, and found weak points in the armor of the creature.

Then, all of a sudden the ground shook harder than anytime before. The volcano growled with anger. Boulders of fire began raining from the sky and rolling down the mountain toward us. The Dwarves dissolved several of them, but there were too many to block them all. Some rolled through our ranks, erasing people in their wake.

We needed to hold. We were so close. We needed to keep the doom drake there. It was our best shot.

Then, like a gift from heaven, a boulder fell from the sky with lava dripping off of it. The boulder slammed into the doom drake's back and the smell was worse than the sound of melting flesh. In a moment, I saw the red glow in the monster's chest, but this time, it wasn't of the creature's own doing. No. The lava boulder was melting all the way through it.

"GET BACK!" I yelled along with many others. I cut off all of my rooted vines and ran, scooping people up in my vine arms as I did. The doom drake going down.

People scattered in every direction, and the doom drake stopped fighting. Its body slowly went limp and it began plummeting to the ground, where all of the warriors tried to escape.

We ran. I thought about all of the people I cared about. I thought of Tigala and Lolan. They were with Grollok last I knew, but were they safe? Would they make it out? Would the people of the colony get out in time? I grabbed people without hardly looking, holding them in my arms crossed across my chest as I ran. The shadow behind me grew darker and darker, and I used my last moment to dive.

I threw out one last flush of vines to grab as many people as I could, and the doom drake slammed into the earth, shattering it beneath him. The colossus was down and we wasted no time in keeping it there. I used my vines to wrap around it. Others did the same with their own forms of magic.

An orange glow came from the monster, and the wound slowly began to close. But before it could make any progress, the lava caught up to it, now engulfing its feet.

We continued our attack, slowly making our way toward the monster's head, which was the furthest part of it from the volcano and the lava. More lava rocks littered the battlefield, taking out some of ours, but the Dwarves were now doing their best to redirect the molten earth into the doom drake instead of us.

The doom drake screamed, but it wasn't as forceful as before. It came out in a gurgled puddle from its throat. It continued desperately trying to claw its way free, but we had the upper hand. We outnumbered it by the tens of thousands now, and our magic kept pouring into the restraints. The lava flowed further and further up its body.

As the lava progressed, and the doom drake lost more and more strength, people began fleeing the scene, putting as much distance as they could between themselves and the lava. Gnomes began opening large portals for hundreds of people to go through at a time. I held as long as I could, waiting for the lava to even start eating into my vine restraints on the monster, and then I joined the others.

I scooped up stragglers as I ran in my severely battered vine armor. Our people were gathering past the reach of the volcano, and those who had already made it stood silently watching the doom drake as it was slowly consumed. I was among the last to join them, and when I did, I set the people down that I had been carrying, and turned back to look at the monster. It was now nothing more than a pair of shoulders and a head, with the lava still creeping forward and slowly devouring it

We all watched in silence, unbelieving of what was actually happening. I half expected the doom drake to lift its head any second and stand, unscathed by the lava. Each moment that went by I hoped it wouldn't happen, but I expected it all the same.

The lava made it to the monster's head, and no one looked away. The lava crawled over the creature, returning it to the earth that it had so recently reawakened from. And the more I stared at it, the more I thought I saw more colors than just the orange-red glow of the lava. Maybe it was just my mind playing tricks on me, or maybe it was the release of all of the magic that was trapped inside of the doom drake, but a glow in all colors seemed to rise up and fade into the sky above it.

The lava crawled over the tip of the monster's face, and it was gone. There was still silence. I couldn't believe it. Was it really gone? Everyone else must have been thinking the same thing. No one moved. We were all collectively terrified it wasn't yet over. But when the lava leveled back out to show the shape of the land instead of the giant hill that marked where the doom drake had laid, it was clear we had won.

A cheer erupted all around me, and tears came to my eyes. We had done it. We had defeated the doom drake. And even bigger than that, we had done it together. We did what our ancestors couldn't, putting an end to the problems of the past to spare our children the same fate.

Tags: Kaia

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