Fran and a few others, Mordred included, gathered to discuss the plan going forward immediately after we confirmed that we were going up against a Water Dragon Warship.
「So, just to double check, you said you could wipe out all the ships escorting their flagship?」
「Nn. Leave to me.」
「I guess that means the only thing we’ll have to worry about will be the Water Dragon Warship…」
It turned out that not even Mordred had any experience fighting water dragons.
「So you remember how you won against Fermus…? I think you’d be able to take the water dragon down if you used that again. Do you think that’s something you can pull off, or does it need some sort of condition you can’t fulfill right now?」
「Great. In that case, all we’ll have to do is come up with a contingency in the case that it manages to survive it.」
The ship was sure to get totally wrecked if we launched both Kanna Kamui and Black Lightning Advent at the dragon. It would undoubtedly be set free if we failed to take it down. To prevent that exact situation from unfolding, we needed a more reliable way to damage the dragon, a method of attack that was both precise and extremely high in terms of power.
『You were thinking that too?』
(Nn. Only option.)
Taking down the water dragon attached to the ship didn’t seem like it’d be too difficult. In fact, it was probably way easier than taking down a wild water dragon. The chains that held the creature to the seaborn chariot it pulled greatly limited its range of movement.
Hitting was going to be fairly simple. All we had to worry about was doing enough damage to kill it through all its defenses—which I figured wouldn’t be too hard so long as we hit one of its vitals.
「What if only attacked dragon?」
「That is probably the most ideal solution… but do you know of any ways to realize it?」
「Then I guess we’ll have to leave that to you too. God, I feel pathetic.」
Mordred’s inability to act vexed him. He’d basically no choice but to have Fran, an adventurer way younger than he was, resolve everything all on her own. Worse yet, he wasn’t being limited because he was weak, but rather, because he lacked the precise skill set needed to make a difference. His speciality, lava magic, was short ranged, but it could provide the ship with excellent defenses, but a focus on defense wasn’t exactly what we needed at the moment.
A completely different thought crossed my mind as I contemplated Mordred’s capabilities. The ship we were about to attack was one that did technically have a member of a royal family on board. Was killing their dragon and sinking flagship potentially going to lead to some sort of international outcry?
「Okay to sink enemy?」
「What do you mean?」
「Will country retaliate if prince dies?」
「Hahaha, no worries there. The vessel’s flying a pirate flag, so sinking it is only the most natural course of action even if it does belong to Sheedran’s navy. If anything, we’d be under more scrutiny if we didn’t.」
「A pirate flag’s basically a threat in and of itself, basically means “hand over your shit or die,” y’know? As far as we seafarers go, attackin’ anyone with a pirate’s flag is just common sense.」
His argument made sense to me, so we moved on to the next problem: figuring out the order in which we’d sink the ships. We had to choose between focusing on either the flagship or its escorts. Though the options seemed quite different, they resulted in the creation of a similar set of disadvantages. The water dragon warship was likely going to chase the Algieba down if we took down the escorts first. Likewise, targeting the flagship could lead to the rest of its fleet hunting the Algieba down. Making a decision would’ve been a much simpler task if we were capable of providing time estimates and whatnot, but we honestly had no idea how long we would need to actually beat the dragon.
Jerome ended up solving that problem for us by pointing out that the other ships would likely run the hell away if we took their flagship down, meaning we’d save on the number of things we had to fight if we got our priorities straight.
「They’d probably find it totally suicidal to go up against something that managed to take a Water Dragon Warship down, y’see.」
We found ourselves launching off the ship’s deck once the meeting adjourned.
『Urushi, focus on dodging.』
『Fran, try to aggro the dragon. Make it raise its head out of the water if you can.』
It would be much more difficult for us to finish the dragon off if it stayed underwater. The dragon itself didn’t gain any bonuses from being submerged, but it would still naturally be protected by the seawater around it. Water was much denser than air, and we lacked anything specialized for subaqueous combat. The vast majority of our attacks would simply end up losing force below the ocean’s surface.
To that end, I asked Fran to barrage the dragon with weaker spells in an attempt to annoy it enough to lure it out where we could hit it harder.
Arrows, cannonballs, and even spells would periodically fire from the ship. But Urushi, swift as he was, avoided them all with ease. The ratio of spells to other projectiles was surprisingly high, and indicated that there were multiple mages on board the ship. That same statistic further served to indicate that the people on board really weren’t just your typical pirates.
As they posed no threat, Fran ignored the incoming attacks and just continued to single mindedly throw spells at the water dragon. She didn’t actually seem to be hurting it, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t getting annoyed.
All it took was five short minutes worth of pestering for the lizard-like beast to emerge from the water, its face adorned with an expression of rage.
To me, the term water dragon suggested something along the lines of a plesiosaurus, a big, underwater creature with flippers on its sides and smooth, slippery skin.
Clearly, I was wrong, or least mostly wrong. The only accurate part of my guess had been the general plesiosaurus-like shape. Unlike a plesiosaurus, however, it was covered in from head to toe with rugged scales, and even had a sharp horn growing out of its forehead. Its rear was decorated by an abnormally long tail, and its back a pair of fins resembling degenerated wings. Likewise, its arms and legs were also part fin, and bore a strong resemblance to a sea lion’s front two limbs. The way they were shaped led me to suspect that the water dragons would probably still be capable of moving around even on land.
The whole creature’s body was covered in a layer of what appeared to be seawater. It’d appeared to have wrapped itself up in moisture in order to prevent its skin from dehydrating.
There was no point in thinking about what the dragon was doing or why it looked the way it did. All that could be saved for after we defeated it.
『Yeah, let’s do it!』
Fran brandished me and pulled me into position. I’d finished all my preparations ahead of time; I was already ready.
I boosted myself with Telekinesis and charged towards the dragon’s head the moment Fran threw me. Despite being a B ranked threat, it was incapable of reacting given the combination of my speed and the lack of distance between us. Both my aim and our setup had been perfect. I smashed into into the water dragon’s unprotected face.
A deafening sound echoed throughout my surroundings, but it was neither the sound of the water dragon’s head exploding, nor the sound of a new hole opening up in its skull.
It’d instead been the sound of me popping the membrane surrounding the dragon’s body. And that was it. There’d been a sort of magical barrier underneath the layer of seawater. The combination of the two defensive walls had killed all my momentum and minimized the amount of damage I’d actually been able to inflict.
My telekinetic catapult had only managed a scratch. We’d thought that just one hit would be enough to take our foe down, but at this rate, it almost looked as if the dragon would be totally fine even after a couple hundred.
『Well, then how about trying this on for size? Lightning Blast!』
I cast the spell I’d gotten from leveling Lightning Magic up to level 5, Lightning Blast. Though it was rather short ranged, it more than made up for it with its high damage output. I’d assumed that using it would be a good idea because water-aligned life forms seemed like they’d probably be weak to electricity.
『Your defenses won’t block shit if I attack you from point blank!』
Electrical energy zapped through the water dragon’s head; there was so much of it that it even ended up illuminating our surroundings. But despite that, the water dragon took no damage whatsoever.
I didn’t understand what’d happened.
It didn’t have any skills that let it resist lightning.
It seemed that the water dragon was about to try and bite me, so I quickly teleported back into Fran’s hands.
『I only just made it out, but yeah, I’m fine. But shit, that thing’s defenses are rock solid. It’s got a magical barrier, a layer of seawater, and its scales all working in tandem to protect it. It basically didn’t take damage from Telekinetic Catapult. It didn’t seem to take any damage from my lightning magic either.』
I knew we were going up against a B ranked magic beast, but I honestly hadn’t expected it to remain perfectly unscathed even after taking several attacks head on.
「Understood something by watching from afar.」
「Ship supplying magic to water dragon.」
『Oh…? Yeah, I didn’t notice.』
「Biggest mana flow when Master used magic.」
『Wait, so that means the ship has something that it can use to boost the dragon’s defense!?』
The moment I considered the existence of such a device was the moment I realized I should’ve been expecting it, or something like it, from the very start. Skilled mages and adventurers were difficult to come by, but there were still quite a decent number of them out there. Some sort of dragon-protecting countermeasure should’ve been par for the course.
Their ship was big, big enough for it to be carrying a whole boatload’s worth of magical apparatuses. Moreover, it was a flagship that used to belong to a country that basically dominated every single major power out there in terms of its ability to do naval combat. Magical items with ridiculously powerful, unimaginable effects should’ve been one of the things we’d expected from them from the very start.
『Well, this is a huge pain in the ass if I’ve ever seen one. We can’t kill the water dragon unless we blow the ship up, but that stupid oversized lizard’s probably going to go on rampage the moment we let it loose..』
「Destroy ship first, hunt dragon after?」
『I dunno, that sounds like it could be pretty risky.』
We’d be forced into a pretty tough spot if the dragon decided to dive the moment it was freed. I highly doubted we’d be able to chase it and defeat it if it did. It wouldn’t pose too much of a problem if it decided to flee, but, it’d be a huge pain in the ass to deal with if it decided it wanted revenge, and started attacking from the depths. We’d have literally no way of dealing with it if it did.
「Will dragon want revenge?」
『Dunno. It’s a B ranked magic beast, so chances are, it’s probably at least as smart as Urushi.』
And anything that smart was more than capable of wanting revenge.
『Yeah, it looks like we’ve pretty much got no choice but to board them.』
I had no idea how they were actually retaining control over the water dragon, but I suspected it was likely either through a tamer or some sort of magic item. Either way, we’d probably be able to figure it out and deal with whatever it was if we managed to bring the fight to the enemy flagship.
『We’re pretty much out of options, so let’s head back to the Algieba for now.』
We wouldn’t be able to comb through the entire ship on our own. It was way too big. We were going to need more hands on deck if we actually wanted to get much of anywhere at all.