Chapter 498: The Centipede in the Sea of Void
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
The Dragon Square
The Red Dragon Queen transformed into her dragon form. Before letting Link ride on her back, she turned to him and said, "Now close your eyes."
"Why?" asked Link curiously. Still, he closed his eyes shut.
"I'll need to swallow you down my dragon body. The whole body may seem a bit disturbing, and I don't really want to show you my horrible fangs You'll probably hate me for that. You know what, it's probably not enough that you close your eyes, I'll need to cast a Numbing spell on you."
As she spoke, Link felt Gretel's Dragon Power over him. She must have already cast her spell on him.
The spell instantly dulled all of Link's senses. Not only had his surroundings gone dark, but he also could not hear or feel anything around him as well. Link then felt himself being lifted up and sliding down a warm tube.
Five seconds later, the Red Dragon Queen's voice could be heard once more. "Alright, you can open your eyes now."
When Link opened his eyes, he found himself swimming in a mass of unknown liquid. Around him was a hazy blur of red light, and extraordinarily enough, he noticed that he could breathe regularly in the liquid without any risk of suffocation.
The sensation was almost like being back in his mother's womb.
With a sudden snap, the hazy blur of red light around Link had vanished, and in its place was a magic mirror providing a full view of what the Red Dragon Queen was seeing at the moment.
"Can you see it?" Gretel's voice rumbled from outside.
"Yes, I can see everything clearly, it's an amazing sight," exclaimed Link. He had never felt such comfort in the womb-like chamber. It seemed like such a great place to just lie back and take a nap for as long as he wanted.
Gretel's voice rumbled again, this time with a hint of satisfaction, "It's called a vesicle. It was originally used to accommodate passengers. After generations of evolution, though it still retains its function as a compartment for passengers, we've stopped letting outsiders use it."
"If that's the case, why bother keeping it? I think the vesicle's maintenance requires a large amount of energy input." It was one of Link's many quirks; whenever something seemed illogical to him, he would try to make sense out of it through logical reasoning.
Gretel laughed without actually giving Link an answer. "Alright, enough questions for now. I'm taking off!"
Through the magical view in the vesicle, Link could see luminescent ripples in the air before Gretel. She then took a large step forward, and her large dragon body melted through the ripples.
In the outside world, Link could see cracks radiating out in huge numbers across the green tiles in the square. This was the result of spatial vibrations continuously being sent out from the dragon's body. It was almost trivial compared to the effects of Realm Transference.
Two seconds later, Gretel's body had completely submerged into the spatial depths. Crimson Dragon Power cloaked her whole body, giving her the appearance of a gleaming crystal dragon.
They were immediately beset by a fantastic sight around them, brilliant silhouettes dancing around the spatial canvas of Firuman's inner regions. As they waded deeper through space, the light around them gradually faded. Before long, they were completely immersed in darkness.
The whole process was not unlike diving into an ocean's depths. The only difference was that a diver would eventually hit the bottom of the ocean, whereas in the farthest regions of space stood the wall between realms. Behind that wall lay the Sea of Void.
The Space Barrier in the Dragon Valley was nigh impenetrable, especially around the Dragon Temple. It acted as a deterrent against any attempts to invade from the Sea of Void.
Carrying Link inside her, Gretel swam on downwards for more than one minute. Darkness had utterly consumed them at that moment. Then, Link saw a glimmer of light before him. The Red Dragon Queen spoke, "Alright, we're in the Sea of Void."
From the magical view, Link could see that a white fog had surrounded the Red Dragon Queen's body, obscuring her vision terribly. Through the fog, sudden streaks of light flashed by at times. Link could also make out a couple of vortexes spinning in the distance.
Behind the Red Dragon Queen was a huge body of light. Due to the white fog around her, none of them could make out the exact appearance of the object, but Link knew that it was the realm of Firuman itself.
"Alright, I'm going to move forward. Visibility is low, and there may be danger lurking about, so I'll need to concentrate on my flying. If there's a meteorite heading our way, you need to tell me," Gretel said.
"Understood," said Link. He then noticed that Gretel had begun flying away from the realm of Firuman. The road ahead of them was a blur fraught with all kinds of danger. Not daring to let anything distract him for even a moment, Link kept his eyes wide open as he surveyed his surroundings throughout their journey.
The Red Dragon Queen floated slowly forward through the Sea. Around five minutes later (all measurements of time were carried out by Link at this point with the realm of Firuman as his reference point, since the concept of time itself was essentially meaningless in the Sea of Void), Link noticed that the realm of Firuman had completely vanished from sight behind them. They were now surrounded in every direction by hazy balls of light and energy.
In such a place, one could lose their bearings easily without a reference point in space, and would probably drift on through the Sea of Void with no end in sight. Link suddenly remembered the sages of old who had fled from Firuman must have floated through the Sea of Void for months before finally managing to find their way back to the realm of Firuman. Such a feat was nothing short of a miracle.
The Red Dragon Queen had slowed down considerably. She was now feeling even more nervous at this point. Link could feel her heart beating even more uncontrollably, raising the temperature in the womb as a result.
"Link, do you see something?" Gretel's voice sounded.
"No, nothing but those balls of energy around us. I don't see anything concrete." Link had been scanning the magical view attentively, but still could not find a single piece of meteorite anywhere around them.
Gretel continued flying forward.
Soon after, Link suddenly saw a black shadow flit through the white fog. He strained his eyes in its direction, but could not make anything out.
"I think I see something moving," whispered Link.
Gretel's pulse accelerated even more. She slowed down, and her body took on a more defensive posture. "I sense it, too. It's probably alive. I could feel it staring at me."
Gretel was now feeling even more nervous. She did not have much experience making trips through the Sea of Void.
"Why don't we turn back now? Once my dragon body is fully recovered, we can go back into the Sea of Void together. Besides, we only need to wait for another three months till my dragon body heals up completely, which isn't that long," proposed Link. It was too dangerous to go on at this point, especially with an unidentified object leering at them from a distance. If Link was able to transform into his dragon form, he could still be of some use to the Red Dragon Queen in the Sea of Void.
As for the Astral Meteorite, they did not need to find it straight away. They were probably bound to find some after making a few more trips into the Sea of Void.
Gretel fell silent for a moment. She then spoke, "Alright then, it's a shame we didn't find any meteorites."
Feeling the coordinates of Firuman, she began making her way back towards it. An hour later, all of a sudden, a black figure bolted through the fog and collided against Gretel's body.
Thanks to Gretel's alertness, when the black figure appeared, she immediately leaned to one side and spat out her Dragon Void Breath at it.
All this had been carried out by Gretel in one fluid motion, and the black figure received the full brunt of her attack.
The Red Dragon Queen's Dragon Void Breath had a diameter of more than five feet. Its energy was pristine white and extremely concentrated. When the blast of energy hit the black figure, its speed was drastically reduced.
However, instead of being pushed back, it persevered on bit by bit through the rush of energy from Gretel's jaws.
As it pushed on towards Gretel, Link managed to see the entity's shape clearly. Its body was a greyish color, and it resembled a giant centipede. Its long, narrow body was around 50 feet and lined with countless black slender legs on both sides.
Its legs did not seem to be made for walking, but rather served as narrow lines of oars pushing the black shape through the Sea of Void.
Link was stunned. He had seen such a creature before, back in the game, but the creature before him right now was considerably larger than its counterpart in the game.
Back in the game, players simply referred to it as a centipede, but it was a hundred times more venomous than any ordinary centipede.
"Be careful with its legs, Your Highness..." Link did not finish his sentence.
Gretel had swung her tail at the centipede, which was now 60 feet away from her.
The centipede's movements were severely restricted as it was still being bombarded by the Red Dragon Queen's Void Breath. As a result, it was unable to dodge her tail in time and took a direct hit from it.
Link saw that the centipede's body was struck by the dragon tail with such force that greyish shards broke off from one side of its body. Some of its legs had also been torn off by the impact.
On the surface, it seemed as though the Red Dragon Queen now had the upper hand. However, Link sensed that something was wrong, and shouted, "Your Highness, watch out for its stingers!"
Saying this, Link pressed a hand on the vesicle, and a rush of Dragon Power flowed through Gretel's body in an instant.
His Dragon Power had come from Gretel. Though its state had undergone some changes, it was still able to merge with Gretel's Dragon Power. His Maximum Dragon Power had now reached 14500, whereas Gretel's was more than 20,000. There was no chance the combined Dragon Power from two masters would lose to a Level-14 Legendary entity.
Though Gretel did not know why Link had issued such a warning, she did not dare let down her guard. With a hum, a Legendary-level crimson barrier had formed around her. She too began focusing her Dragon Power into the barrier.
The centipede let out a screech, and all of a sudden, ripples of violent black energy emerged around it. What was even more frightening was the fact that the black, slender legs around it shot out like missiles in all directions towards Gretel.
Link was able to see the black smoke issued out in the wake of each of its missile-like legs. He knew that the smoke contained its poison. Not only was it capable of corroding through flesh, but it could also melt through pure energy.
The creature's legs barraged against the barrier relentlessly, peeling it layer after layer. It was as thin as paper by the time the twentieth leg struck the barrier.
"Its black smoke is melting through my energy barrier!" Gretel shouted in a panic. She let out another burst of her dragon breath at the centipede.
This time, her attack was effective.
After laying siege on Gretel's barrier with its legs, the centipede had depleted most of its strength. It was blown back by the blast of Dragon Void Breath, and vanished into the depths of the Sea of Void.
Gretel did not wish to prolong their fight any longer and immediately sped off towards the realm of Firuman.
After a while, she let out a panicked shout. "Not good, my tail's been hit by one of the creature's stingers!"
Link looked back and saw that there were indeed two black stingers stuck to her tail. Even with the protection of her dragon scales, the tip of the stingers had pierced into her skin.
She must have been stung when she had swung her tail at the centipede.
The venom was indeed potent. Gretel shouted in pain, and Link saw that her vision was beginning to blur. Her flight path too was becoming even more erratic.
"Are you alright?" Link could feel that Gretel's Dragon Power was receding rapidly. He began to panic and continued to pour some of his Dragon Power into Gretel's body.
"The venom's eating up my power. No, it's also messing with my mind..."
The situation seemed to worsen by the minute. However, curiously enough, Link noticed that the venom had not entered the vesicle. He felt just fine even as he breathed in the liquid around him.
At that moment, Link saw a black shape floating in the distance. He immediately shouted, "Look, there's a meteorite to your side!"
Still able to hear him, the Red Dragon Queen looked around and noticed the meteorite as well. She managed to grab it in her claw, and like a drunkard, continued her path shakily towards Firuman.
Half an hour later, a huge expanse of light came up before them. It was the realm of Firuman.
Gretel's condition had worsened to the point where she was now unable to distinguish left and right. In the end, she clumsily burst through the spatial wall of Firuman.
After swimming through space for three minutes, both of them finally reached Firuman.
Through what was left of the vesicle's magical view, Link saw that they were now thousands of feet above ground. Below them, however, was not Dragon Valley, but rather a huge island in the middle of an ocean. A dense forest covered the island, with a few signs of civilization here and there. The architectural style around the island was unlike anything they had seen on the continent. Without warning, the vesicle's magical view disappeared before Link.
"I'm out of energy. I'm afraid I won't be able to make a safe landing. You'd better come out from there, Link."
A hole appeared in the vesicle. Without thinking too much about it, Link jumped straight into the hole.
As he climbed out of the hole, Link understood why Gretel had wanted to block off all his senses before swallowing him up. The sensation of crawling through a sticky, dark meat tunnel was not something Link would soon forget.
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