The Crimson Dragon - Chapter 58
Hell Island, which had been dormant for several years, was now active once again. After Claudius casually triggered the large-scale eruption, the volcano would now erupt at regular intervals, shooting out lava and ash at least thrice a day. The forest down below was destroyed, transformed into a rocky surface dyed black and red. The frequent eruptions also changed the climate of the island. The heavy rain and stormy clouds no longer enshrouded the volcano, only covering up the four surrounding mountains. This caused warm and cold air to converge between the two, further intensifying the storms and rainstorms. The eco-system on the island was further worsened due to the sudden change in weather.
Some of the trees managed to survive, but most of them died as their species were not suited for heavy rain. The rotten trunks and leaves turned the island into a breeding ground for all sorts of poisonous insects, making the island into an uninhabitable place for humans. Well, perhaps gnomes or goblins could manage to survive somehow in such harsh conditions. The disappointed adventurers stopped their advance as the island did not seem to harbour any sort of treasure and there weren't any signs which indicated that the dragon they were looking for was still on the island.
Apart from the weather, the terrain also underwent changes. The layer of crust at the bottom of the sea was fragmented into multiple chunks due to the frequent earthquakes, with some protruding upwards while others sinking downwards. Warm and cold currents also converged at that region, forming complicated undercurrents and intense waves. Volcanic ash full of minerals and organic matter gushed into the seas along with the rain and cultivated an endless amount of plankton, which in turn allowed fish to reproduce explosively. The sudden appearance of large schools of fish and shellfish attracted predators from nearby regions to hunt there;all sorts of sharks, whales and even sea monsters roamed around as there was an ample supply of food. The complex seabed also served as home for the monsters. As a result, even the Sahuagin underlings of Umberlee did not dare to invade the region, but their goddess paid them no heed. In fact, she was a goddess who took pride in threatening her own subordinates and enjoyed watching them offer sacrifices as they trembled in fear.
The coastline of Hell Island mainly consisted of rocky cliffs, with several sandy beaches covered in ash in between. The cliffs were all vertically connected to the seabed while waves splashed against them to produce snowflake-like mist. Even the beaches were not a safe place as they were constantly hit by large waves, though it would probably be a popular surfing spot if it was back on Earth. To briefly conclude the situation, this was not a place for vacation where you could enjoy the sun on a beach. Anyways, it was a view which basically no one could look at as Floren was a large place with little people. Over half of the continent had yet to be explored by humans, and most people would not bother travelling to such a distant and dangerous place. If one were to stand on top of the cliffs on Hell Island, he would be able to witness all sorts of weird yet ferocious creatures, such as fish with man-sized dorsal fins, not to mention sea monsters with thighs as thick and strong as stone pillars. Just like that, the condition of the sea remained the same for all eternity, but that was for another time. The Crimson Dragon who once lived on the island disappeared without a trace, and most of the hunting party decided that the dragon was gone and was no longer within their grasp.
Nothing much happened in the next ten years or so. The large crack inside the volcano wall was now a mushroom haven, stuffed with red mushrooms which glowed in a similar fashion to the river of magma flowing nearby. The mushrooms came in different sizes, ranging from small ones with the size of one's fingertips to humongous ones which were as large as an apartment. Among the forest of mushrooms were Myceloids with different heights, with some of them plucking mushrooms ready for harvest and others humming merrily as they slammed their fists into the wall to open up the path to the underworld.
This was the grand project of the Myceloids. For the past decade, they had already extended the tunnel up to ten kilometres long. As they dug their way through the rocks, they found new underground caves and rivers as well as several magic nodes. The Myceloids also cultivated mushrooms along the tunnel, but due to the lack of magma, they were only normal mushrooms and could not turn into Myceloids.
All of a sudden, a creature which did not seem to belong to this world flew out of the gap which the Myceloids were opening up. Sparks flew everywhere as the creature collided into the metallic mushroom caps. The creature looked like a bald eagle covered in scales, and more of those rushed through the gap right after the first one.
Elsewhere, the Myceloids had accidently discovered a pitch black tunnel during their excavation. They could barely see the outline of a massive horned beast as light seeped through the gaps, and in front of the beast laid a skeleton of an unknown creature.
Claudius was on the ground as if he was dead, staying dormant inside the hollow volcano wall. Two or three metres below the entrance of his so-called cave was boiling magma with a little platform which connected to a nearby crack in the wall;it was a frequently used path built by the Flame Myceloids. Claudius now had a terrifying look most people would have mistaken him as a Lich Dragon or Undead Dragon considering his bony body. The thick skin under his scales now stuck closely to his skeleton;it looked as if he had been starving for a long while. His muscular legs had also shrunk, as if the muscles had disappeared into thin air. The most horrifying part was his head it was almost like the skull of a Black Dragon.
However, he was clearly alive. The tiny mountain of rocks under his 40-metre-body had melted and Claudius was now submerged in magma filled with potent fire element as the rocks gradually melted, courtesy of his Ring of Blaze. Despite his bony look, his scales were still in perfect condition thanks to the Flame Myceloids who frequently cleaned and wiped them. This was the reason why dragons had to construct a heavily guarded lair before they entered hibernation Claudius' breath was so slow that one would have thought he stopped breathing, and his body was in a condition which only seemed suitable for dead dragons.
Slowly but steadily, his breathing rate arose once again. The crimson torso began spewing bright flames while magma came surging from underground. The skinny body gradually regained its muscles as it was now completely covered in magma, but it was still nowhere close to the condition before his hibernation.
The breath of the Crimson Dragon slowed down again as the change in his body ended, slumping down into the magma. Even though Claudius was not releasing his dragon aura, people would still freeze out of fear due to his new look. No one would be brave enough to stand in front of him without having their hearts filled with terror no one.