The Crimson Dragon - Chapter 48
The battle of Saint Cruz Port had already begun by the time Claudius returned to take a look at his army. However, it was not a sneak attack as the news regarding the unknown combat force appearing on the island had been widely spread by the magic communication devices in the temples. The fact that they were supported by a dragon was well known as well. Three companies of elite soldiers was not something a port town with 2000 residents could defend against.
The battle progressed quickly as expected. The Udaeus 'hired' some farmers from the previous village to transport siege weapons with their bulls, then proceeded to construct the weapon right in front of the town walls. Saint Cruz Port announced that they would demilitarize after their main gate was hit by a few ballista shots, which, to be honest, was no different than surrendering immediately. What came as a surprise was that there were so-called nobles even on an island with only 3000 residents, such as the family of Earl Saint Cruz. It was understandable, given that their family name was the same as the island's name, but their status was now a matter of the past. The Earl had thirty warriors under his command, but they were nothing compared to hundreds of professional soldiers.
Contrary to the Earl's fears, their safety was guaranteed and none of their family members got executed. Not only were their lives spared, they even managed to retain their status of ruler over the island in a sense the only difference was that now they had to report to a superior. The Udaeus ordered the island to submit to their rule only in name as was their tradition to do so. They would only take taxes in the form of food supplies and labour from time to time, leaving the people alone most of the time. In this case, the Udaeus ordered the townsmen to demolish the town walls and use the materials to construct a barracks nearby.
Claudius knew how the Udaeus planned to rule the place from his mysterious power, Telepathic Bond. It was a bit weird as he could roughly sense what the Udaeus were doing, but nothing could be detected from his 'first' subordinates, the Flame Myceloids. Claudius' fully recovered long ago, and he felt that his Strength, Constitution and Dexterity had increased. As for Intelligence and Charisma, it was not something he could judge without the screen and he had no intention in doing so anyways.
’’There is no need for fancy speeches when you have the strength to back your own words,’’ was what Claudius thought. He breathed in satisfaction and two 10-metre-long streams of flames burst out of his nostrils, causing the wall in his lair to cave in while splashing molten rock all over the places. Claudius' lair was in a big mess, with the cave walls having all sorts of weird patterns which were formed as molten rock cooled down. The ground was also uneven for the same reason.
A few uneventful years went by. Claudius spent most of the time sleeping in his lair, occasionally scribbling random things on the walls. He had pretty much given up on his investigation regarding magic as it was rather unsuccessful, but he managed to awaken to a new skill, Find the Path, nonetheless. As for the Level 0 magic tricks, Claudius somehow managed to enhance their power to spell-like abilities. The number of spells he knew was quite a lot, at least for his class Dragon Disciple. Considering his age group, Claudius could be considered a prodigy even among humans, with his command of all Level 0 magic tricks and several Level 1 spells;only a select few humans had the ability to cast Level 1 spells freely as 16 or 17-year old teenagers.
For the past few years, storms still shrouded Hell Island all the time. With a record breaking rainfall of over 400 millimetres per day, there was no such need to worry about supply of fresh water. The low-lying areas were all turned into small ponds, and waterfalls could be found on the cliffs near the seashore. The constant downpour of rain diluted the seawater which surrounded the island the seawater within up to a few metres outwards and tens of metres deep were so diluted by rainwater that it could be considered as a slightly salty ’’freshwater’’ region...... (ED: Paradox but meh)
Claudius could now clearly hear the grumbling noise from deep underground. Recently, minor earthquakes were occurring frequently, indicating the changes beneath the surface. As the transformation took time, Claudius had a lot of spare time to sort through the remaining knowledge from the Inheritance Ceremony and to think about random things. ’’Now that I think about it, it's a miracle that Anbo's priests did not try to demolish Chauntea's temples. Maybe the presence of Pelor had an impact on her?’’
The long awaited change finally occurred. Just as the sun was showing its glow from beyond the horizon, blue and red flashes lit the dim sky. Claudius, awakened by the rampage of magic elements, stood on the platform in front of his lair as he admired the scene.
The ground shook intensely the next moment. Claudius had no idea of the principles of the Richter scale, but he knew it must be rather severe as it felt as if the entire island was tossed three or four metres into the air. Large fissures ran across the whole island and rocks tumbled down the slopes. The ground shook for thirty seconds before coming to a sudden rest.
At this point, the island could no longer be considered as an island. Claudius hovered in the sky as he overlooked his home which had now split into four large chunks from the centre of the island. Thankfully, he had managed to grab the magical water pump right before the place broke into pieces, but the gold coins were all lost once again;not that he cared anyway. Coincidentally, his lair also remained intact as it was located on the largest chunk and was not split into several parts during the reformation.
After a short while, an even more severe earthquake struck the remains of the island. The seawater which was greedily filling up the newly opened up spaces exploded into the air all of a sudden. Claudius was lucky enough to witness a giant Dragon Turtle helplessly sucked into the torrents and was blown to smithereens during the explosion. The sea turned into a pot of boiling water as the cross-shaped crack continued to spread due to the earthquake. Fragments of rocks broke off one after another and even Claudius' lair was not spared from the destruction. The peak of Hell Island was now merely twenty metres above sea level.
Just as the entire island was about to be crushed into nothingness, the split island began to gain height along with booming sounds which seemingly shocked the skies and ground. Waves with unprecedented height originating from the growing island ravaged the surrounding regions in circles one after another, spreading further outwards until they could no longer be seen. Claudius hummed merrily as he looked at the enlarging black dot from above. Among the thick white mist and sparkles of rock shrapnel, a volcano was emerging from the sea. The sea looked as if it was disappearing as magma immediately vaporized seawater as the two came into contact. Gigantic pillars of smoke connected the sea surface and the skies. The growing island was, obviously a volcano. A huge volcano.
The wondrous sight of fire and water intertwining continued for an entire day. When the shaking finally came to an end, a massive volcano with a peculiar shape could be seen. Occupying over forty square kilometres of space, a thousand metres tall with a 500-metre-wide volcanic crater, the volcano could roughly be divided into five parts. A seemingly normal-looking yet oversized volcano was in the middle, being surrounded by four shorter rocky mountains which were the remains of the previous island. The volcano was no longer erupting, at least for the moment, and a thick sheet of ash up to six metres deep covered the entire place. Magma continued to flow out of the crater into the sea, expanding the volcanic island slowly but surely.
The storm clouds which were briefly pushed aside by the volcanic eruption gathered once again, bringing a downpour of heavy rain as usual. This time, however, the rain brought the ash along as it reached the sea. Countless marine creatures met their demise as they suffocated due to the ash covering the sea surface. Some of the ash mixed with the rain to form mud, smudging the volcanic island in a brown, gooey paste.
’’This reformed Hell Island is worthy of its name, if I do say so myself......’’
The merry Crimson Dragon danced around in the air for a whole day as he inhaled the sulphurous air filled with fire elements with pleasure.