When Procyon awoke a second time, he found himself lying on a sand bank that softly ramped up from a river. After spending a moment coughing violently beneath his mask, his weak human lungs once more started filling their purpose and he was able to pull his sore body to higher, and more importantly more stable, ground. The dragon had no intention of letting some other seemingly random affliction of bad luck ruin this day any further.
Regaining his wits fully, he stood and looked around, finding his surroundings completely different than those he had, from his perspective, just unwillingly departed, not that he had wanted to be there either. The river behind him, presumably the same one from the canyon he had been whisked from so abruptly ran onward from his position, having deposited his soaked, unconscious form upon a bend as it wound its way across a sandy beach toward the ocean. A short distance away, the noise of a city, loud already due to Procyon's unnatural ears, floated to the dragon across the air. The large metropolis sat directly on the edge of a bay, and something in Procyon's mind immediately labeled it with the name of Grand Capital, though he did not know why he knew the words, for he had never before concerned himself with mortal strongholds.
With widening eyes, he suddenly recalled the voice in his head and the foreign magic ripping through him, clashing with the power of the chains sealing his true form. He scanned himself with rudimentary magic, but either due to his ineptness at the technique or for some other reason, the strange power that had raged through him seemed to have vanished, but to where, he knew not. However, he could remember clearly now with what massive force the energy had flowed through his mind, and a distant connection for a moment to some strange source, that felt to him only as a giant well of magic so bright that the sheer power of it washed away any other details. Most importantly, at least to the dragon, the power that had struck him on the airship from before had caused him pain not because it was an attack, but because it was being
attacked, by the many times accursed seal holding him back. The chains around his neck had never reacted like that, and he had no idea why they would ever do so. However, he intended to find out. The thrill of a new hunt running through him, he narrowed his single eye behind his mask in anticipation, staring at the city which, under other circumstances, he would have headed directly away from.
Procyon had a new lead.
Shipping towns, Procyon admitted, were a large improvement on the normal mortal city. Full of housing containing far too many mortal brats, and the rest of it made up with buildings for annoying mortal 'adults', who honestly were just as bad, to spend the day with their worthless and self-important 'jobs', the typical mortal city always had people wandering around all over the place, with a truly amazing ability to always show up where they were least wanted. Shipping towns, on the other hand, were quite simple to enter, as long as you came in outside of typical 'work hours' a concept which Procyon had needed to learn to reach some of the more publicly located laboratories on his hit list. The place was filled with giant sprawling building complexes filled only with crates the workers carried this way and that, buzzing about like ants. Of course, remove the workers, or more precisely relocate them to dockyard taverns and other local attractions, though Procyon sometimes wished to remove many of the louder ones permanently, and all that remained were a few guards with refreshingly easy to predict patrol paths that could be avoided without much trouble at all.
Of course, sometimes whoever planned the guard patrol routes was infuriatingly competent at their job, and Procyon was peeved to admit that whoever headed the guard of this city was, he would at least make a decent hunter. The patrolling guards seemed to be hounding him as he slipped from the shadow of one building to another, forcing him closer to populated areas without even knowing he was present. At the moment, the dragon had taken up a position behind some boxes, staring across the unfortunately wide and open street toward the tavern, already bustling even though the sun had yet to set, thanks to the aforementioned dock hands. Behind him, the patrolling soldiers left no possible retreat, and so he waited, stewing silently in his growing rage and waiting for an opportunity to arise so that he could cross the road ahead unnoticed.
That moment came when, shortly after a giant of a man with a straw hat tilted heavily askew entered the building, shouts from slurring tongues rang out, followed by a loud crash and the sounds of conflict. Sneering at the drunken brawl that was probably going on within and knowing that any humans who might otherwise have a chance to look out of the windows or exit at an inopportune time would have their attention quite effectively stolen for a short while, Procyon smoothly moved from hiding and began to cross the street.
What he expected was to quickly dart across the road and finally elude those annoyingly well trained guardsmen behind him. What he didn't expect was for the wall of the tavern to explode into flying fragments of wood as a body flew straight for his head. Dodging more on instinct than anything - the airborne man had been moving surprisingly fast - Procyon slipped to one side just in time, a flash of anger and adrenalin running through him at once as his anger called out for blood in retaliation for this attack. Whirling on the gaping hole in the wall the unusual projectile had torn and throwing aside all attempts at stealth, his flashing golden eye locked on the culprit... and then swung upward, the giant man looming high above the short, human-shaped dragon. Twin piercing red eyes examined the growling dragon, coiled to leap forward at any moment, and then looked away dismissively, ignoring him to brush the black hair back from his face and turn back to what appeared to be the entire bar full of people surrounding him, though half were already in various states of disarray, strewn about unconscious across the surroundings.
That sign of condescension was the last straw for the dragon, who had honestly been having a pretty horrible day. Flying into a fit of rage as his vision swan with red, Procyon shot forward in a blur of black, his mind already delighting in imagining the coming carnage as he tore his way through the entire drunken horde to vent his frustrations. He wouldn't try to kill them, of course. That would just invite more manhunts, which was the last thing he needed while he looked for more information about the mysterious power he had sensed. However, it wouldn't be his fault if one or more of them were too delicate and got a bit broken.
A snarl on his tongue, his fist flew up toward the giant man's head as he darted forward, covering the distance between them in an instant as his target started to turn back far too slowly to do anything about the incoming attack. Then an oblong black box flipped upward into his line of vision. Completely confused, Procyon noticed too late that the man, after kicking the airborne baggage casually slip out of the way with ease. Unable to stop his attack, his fist crashed into the box, sending it hurtling end over end and colliding with the skulls of a few unlucky bar patrons in its path, flinging them bodily out of the way while knocking them out cold in an instant. Snarling again at the man casually standing over Procyon with his hand shoved into pockets, the dragon leaped onto the offensive. Chains flickered through the air in a furious barrage of strikes, each one meant to shatter bone and ensnare the huge man, and each one dodged by a hairsbreadth at the last moment.
Bargoers fled for the door or the new hole in the wall, save for some of the more intoxicated patrons, who leaped into the fight only to be immediately flung aside by deceptively long chains and rendered incapacitated as the man continued to casually direct the raging dragon's strikes towards anyone who tried to jump him from behind. Finally, he raised up a single hand at the last moment and snatched the linked metal from the air in a blur of motion. The sounds of combat stopped abruptly as the dragon and his prey stared at each other across the wrecked bar. The man was smirking, but Procyon was releasing a low growl as he shot his enemy a one-eyed glare that would freeze anyone with half a brain in their tracks.
With a loud warcry, a completely sloshed patron haphazardly swung a broken bottle toward Procyon's head from behind. The Dragon's eye narrowed, and then he flew into action. Dropping low into a pivot, he swept the legs from beneath the drunkard in an instant and in the same motion flipped the man up and over his head as he stood again and called upon his unnatural strength for a mighty yank on the end of the chain in his hand. Procyon caught a glimpse of his enemy's surprised face as he was pulled forward into a stumble before the upside-down drunkard he had thrown eclipsed his target from view. Punching out his left hand sharply, he easily knocked the wind out of the falling man, and at the same time sent his body flying straight back at his off balance foe, the dragon purposely mimicking the initial, unintended attack upon him as he leaped forward in the wake of his projectile.
A giant hand reached out as the huge man planted his foot down to support him, and in another blur flung the flying body sideways with another casual, almost bored motion. Then, with widening eyes, he turned his head downward as the air before him split with an ear shattering crash, empty space blurring black and resolving itself into Procyon's form, which at almost the exact same time had vanished from across the room. Caught by surprise at the sudden massive increase in speed, the man didn't move before Procyon's fist, which had become visible once more even as it swung forward, crashed into his chest and the entire bar was filled with a bright flash of blue light and the roar of an explosion. Glass exploded, and the already damaged building collapsed into a pile of wooden rubble.
Breathing hard, less from exertion and more from how worked up he had been, Procyon walked through the dust clouding the pile of debris still seething that he had to resort to his full speed in a battle with a human
of all the races. He heard the ringing of alarm bells and the clatter of approaching guards, who appeared to be just as irritatingly good at mobilizing to threats as they were at planning patrol paths, and he was just about to consider leaving under cover of the dust could when it was abruptly and unnaturally dispersed around him.
A gust of wind, though the evening had been perfectly calm, rushed through the shattered boards of the decimated building, seeming to bring with it an invisible pressure that pushed downward upon the shoulders of all those present, whispering to their instincts a warning to flee while it was still possible. Procyon's black coat flapped in the breeze and he slowly turned, another beastly growl growing in his throat, and faced the source of the wind. The giant man clapped again, more softly this time. However, the sound still rang out through the street like the report of a fired gun.
"And here I was bemoaning my poor luck, and then out of nowhere a strange guy like you shows up. I thought you were just a pushover, but this might be a little fun after all. What's your name, shorty?" The man grinned as he sat casually atop a larger stack amidst the ruins, completely unaffected by the previous explosion, an expression that slowly morphed from smugness to something far
Procyon, however, didn't back down and met the red eyes reevaluating him with his own cold and gold glare. When the man spoke the demeaning nickname, his eye twitched, but he remained motionless, poised for the coming fight. "My name, mortal, is Procyon, and there will be nothing fun about what I'm about to do." The air around the dragon shifted and another breeze blew back toward the sitting figure, seeming to carry the scent of fresh blood on the wind as the air filled with killing intent, and it almost seemed as though beneath his mask, Procyon's teeth were bared in an almost gleeful snarl. "For you."
"Much better! That's a good face! Try and kill me with everything you've got, and we'll get along just fine!" With a roaring laugh the man stood and held up a black-sheathed ominous form, the holstered katana filling the air with barely restrained malice, and with a deep ringing sound he slowly drew it into view as it gleamed unnaturally bright in the evening sun. Then he struck.
Blurring forward with unimaginable speed, leaving a trail of afterimages behind him, he darted in front of Procyon, blade raised and teeth gleaming deadly in a deadly grin. The sword crashed down with an ear shattering roar, and the ground shattered beneath it for yards, sending an approaching unit of dock guards flying with screams of terror, but even as the blade struck the ground, a golden chain seemed to appear beside the swordsman, distorting the air with the speed it was hurled and crashing down upon the man's temple. A musclebound arm appeared in the chain's path as though it had moved even before the attack had begun, deflecting the strike as the chain instead wrapped around the swordsman's throat.
Laughing madly, the warrior shifted his weight backwards, and wood flew as Procyon was bodily lifted into the air by his own weapon and yanked toward the waiting blade. Twisting mid flight with a flash of blue light and a roar, Procyon's boot crashed down onto the sword's shining blade, and the dragon fell into a spinning kick toward the swordsman's skull which was deflected by a forearm.Pushing off the man's block, Procyon flipped overhead, hanging for a moment upside-down in the air behind his foe as the space surrounding him filled with blue lights.
Even as the nameless battle-fanatic turned, the blast of blue-white filled the street with its radiance as Procyon's form was flung out of the smoke and clear of melee distance, though his tumbling flight took him sailing through a street merchant's cart, sending green produce soaring in all directions. As he stood, the swordsman leaped through another row of carts in the street market, abandoned now after the tavern had exploded, shattering them with the force of his charge rather than bothering to go around. The katana crashed against equally mystical steel as Procyon raised a hasty guard, catching the blade that would have bisected him on his chain. The force of the blow sent the dragon skidding back with a grunt of surprise, but moving quickly before his enemy could close again, he flung his hands sideways, hurling thespiked end of the chains binding him outward, crashing into carts. As the swordsman flash stepped once more,bringing down a mighty blow, Procyon blurred at an even faster speed and seemed to almost fragment and reform behind the swordsman as chains and cart fragments exploded inward from every direction, the chains having wrapped around the nearby scenery in their flight in defiance of physics. Hit by a tidal wave of wood and steel that crushed inward with enough force to shatter bone, the swordsman vanished for a moment under the onslaught.
Then a giant booted foot came hurtling out of the dust cloud and contacted Procyon's head before he could even manage to turn, sending him flying back out, bouncing painfully across the street and into the shattered wood of the tavern, chains trailing behind him and freeing the swordsman, who casually walked after the battered dragon. "Hey, that was a neat trick and all, but it's not really that effective it I can see what you're doing. Come on, step it up here. Or is this all you got? Better pull out something else, or I'll just end this right here!"
Beneath the rubble, a dazed dragon groaned, his human form burning with pain, screaming at him to stop getting flung around like a ragdoll. The featureless stone mask covering his face, now riddled with cracks from the force of the previous blow creaked as he raised his head, hearing distantly through the wood surrounding him the voice of his foe. However, his addled mind was barely able to register anything but a distant sort of rage at the sound. Trying to pull himself up from the bed of rubble, Procyon's hand clamped down on some sort of cylinder, and through his glove he felt a hum of dormant magic calling to him, pulling him in. Turning his good eye to see what the object was, he saw the box the swordsman had used to parry his first attack, now lying shattered in the ruins after their first skirmish, and out of the broken end protruded a hilt paneled in deep red wood. As though his focus on the hilt had been interpreted as an answer to some silent call, power surged, and magic rushed though his mind.
Outside, the swordsman glanced around at the rubble, humming for a moment some flighty tune
that popped into his head, but running short of patience in record time, he raised his sword and swung with a sigh of disappointment. Metal crashed against metal as blade met blade with a mighty ring, and the sword
that countered his flashed silver through the dust as it slid silently back into its oaken sheath, hanging from the left hand of Procyon, who stood defiantly before the swordsman.
The man blinked, and then looked again, completely unthreatened but somewhat perplexed at the turn of events. "Oi, isn't it kinda rude to steal someone else's sword and then try to kill them with it?"
"Cry about it to the souls in Hell after I send you to join them, human!" Procyon leaped forward, sword flashing from the sheath again as he attacked.
Cackling with a wide grin, the warrior's blade flashed outward to counter the strike. "Well said! Now let's see how well you can use that blade!"
The street rang with the sounds of combat as two forms stabbed and slashed in a frenzy of blows, a small black blur dodging in and out of combat, jiang leaping to and from its scabbard between clashes and the huge, red eyed swordsman standing in the center of the tornado of metal, grinning widely as he countered the dragon's furious attacks with lightning fast parries and bombarded him with an equally ferocious assault in return. Procyon darted around the battlefield, but the warrior easily followed his quick movements and stopped the dragon's attempts to flank in their tracks without needing to relinquish his position. However, his tank-like approach to combat belied the immense skill with which he fought, and though his torso seemed to barely move, his feet glided from one stance to another effortlessly, his form never leaving an opening or putting him off balance, and it was only a matter of time before the far less experienced dragon slipped up, and in that moment, the swordsman leaped forward, taking the offensive with an overwhelming hailstorm of blows and finally an earth shattering punch crashed against the stone of Procyon's mask and the dragon's limp form, hurtling through the sky like a bullet, punctured the wall of a dock warehouse and finally came to rest against some crates.
As the dragon's golden eye fell closed and his vision blurred and faded once again that day, a shadow fell over him. The swordsman looked at the unconscious body of his opponent and the sword and sheath still gripped tightly in the dragon's hand and after a moment of thought shrugged and turned away. "Keep a hold of that blade for now. I got a feeling we will be fighting again, and when we do, I'll expect interest on this little loan of mine." Walking away from the scene of the chaos he had caused, he grinned. "Yeah, I think I'll have plenty of fun in that fight..." Chuckling, he vanished into the city, leaving the guard to try and piece together what exactly had just happened.
Normal people are the easiest to manipulate. Too smart and they have an annoying tendency to catch wind of your plans, too dumb and, in the words of a certain pirate, "You can never tell when they are about to do something incredibly...stupid."