Book 3: Chapter 52: Deprogrammed

Book 3: Chapter 52: Deprogrammed

"Brix! What"

Arthur was cut off as the newly released brown dragon roared in rage and took a swipe towards Brixaby. He had, Arthur noted, extremely long claws.

Also, it said something about how singularly angry the brown was that he didn't even hesitate after instantlyfrom his point of viewgoing from night to day, and facing a dragon roughly the size of a cat to one the size of a small horse.

"My card... give me my rider's card..." the brown growled, yet managed it in a lyrical cadence.

Brixaby might be larger than he had been before, but he still had amazing, almost supernatural maneuverability. A quick buzz of his wings took him into the air and kept him just out of reach of the angry brown's claws.

"What are you waiting for?" Brixaby yelled back down at Arthur. "Use your mental shield skill!"

Oh. Of course.

Chiding himself for being too stunned to react, Arthur reached for the skill. It was easyhe'd done it dozens of times that day already.

Unfortunately, it made no immediate difference to the brown. He was still very much trying to kill Brixaby, sing-screaming, "Give me back my rider's card... his card... his card..."

What was going on? Why was this dragon still under the Mind Singer's influence?

Maybe he was so angry about the card he might have been trying to kill Brixaby in any case. Dragons were protective over their riders.

"Brix! Give him back" Arthur had to quickly duck as the brown whipped around, its tail swiping over his head with the force of a whip. "Give him back the card! He might be more reasonable!"

"Or he might attack me with Earth magic," Brixaby yelled back, still effortlessly ducking swipes. "I should just consume the card, and then fight back."

That caused a bellow of rage and despair from the other dragon.

Arthur straightened. This had gone on long enough. "Don't be cruel. Do you even want an earth power?"

Brixaby gave a put-upon sigh as if he wasn't currently dodging back and forth with claws missing him by inches. "I suppose not."

"Give the card to me," Arthur said.

Brixaby glanced back over his shoulder at him dubiously, but with a loop that took him over the brown's next swipe, he doubled back and bolted over to Arthur using a Sprint skill.

Arthur extended his arm and the Uncommon card dropped from Brixaby to land neatly in his grasp.

I hope you know what you're doing, Brixaby muttered as he flew over him.

Honestly, so did Arthur. The only thing he knew for sure was that either the Mind Singer had her metaphorical claws dug in so deep that his skill couldn't break the brown out, or she had used a different technique for him and his group instead of the main battle group. The latter seemed more likely.

That meant Arthur needed another way to reach the true dragon inside.

But he wasn't going to be stupid about it.

The brown dragon let out a roar that literally shook the earth and made the pebbles dance around Arthurs feet. He charged forward, giving every indication he was about to squish Arthur and take the card back.

So Arthur grabbed a pair of scissors from his Personal Space and shoved the card between the blades, ready to snap down.

The brown skidded to a stop, horror writ large on his face.

I've never cut a card in half before, Arthur said, almost conversationally. I don't think it will be easythey are magic. But I happen to have advanced levels in a tailoring skill, including one called The Perfect Snip. I think I can manage.

And your friends? The other dragons last night? Arthur asked, taking a chance. Who were they?

Sure enough, the brown picked up on his wording. "Were?

You remember last night, Arthur repeated calmly.

New skill gained: Deprogramming (Mind Healing Class)

Due to the Master of Body Enhancements bonuses, you automatically start this skill at level 3.

Arthur blinked in surprise. Deprogramming. What an odd phrase, and yet he understood its meaning completely: To break the hold or sway of someone who had been charmed. And the class was interesting. He felt that it was a borderline skill, as close to mind magic as his mental shield skill.

The brown shuddered from the tip of his nose all the way down to the tip of his tail. Their names arewere--Blood-Dew, Vivi, and Charling. They came with me. They... We attacked you, he said, in dawning realization, blinking and looking at Arthur and Brixaby. You killed them. Then, with a flash of teeth and a bit more anger, he repeated, "You killed them.

Brixaby snorted without any pity. The little red dragon poisoned herself with a Legendary Level card, but not before killing one of my dragons. On the orders of a scourgeling. If he were human, he would have spit to the side.

Suddenly, Diggers eyes were clear. He snarled, flexing his claws. A scourgeling has my rider! Then he looked at Arthur, And you still have his card.

I was just keeping it for you, just until you felt more like yourself. Out of sheer politeness, Arthur hadn't read the card. But, as he extended his hand to return it, he just so happened to flip the face of it his way.

Stone Skin


Body Enhancement

The wielder of this card we'll have access to the stone skin body enhancement which will harden the outer layer of skin to that of the consistency of basic granite. However, this will not impact the wielder's flexibility Or agility. This card may be used for one hour per 24-hour rolling basis. There is no mana cost.

Arthur wished that there was some way he could keep the card for himself, but he didn't think Digger would appreciate that.

Digger plucked the card out of Arthur's hand with surprising dexterity considering the length of his claws. He let out a sigh as he added it back to his secondary core.

Tell me what you remember, Arthur said.

Again, the dragon shuddered.

Stefan and I were out in the fields, plowing a new field. He'd built his card deck around farming. I don't like vegetables much, but the animals that eat the vegetables are tasty. Now that he wasn't murderously angry or under the Mind Singer's spell, Digger spoke in a slow, rolling cadence. It was easy to imagine this dragon linked to a farmer. I heard the music on the wind and thought it was kind of pretty at first. We paused to listen. We thought there might be a festival soon. But then the music started to speak to me, and I had no choiceI had to listen. I had to obey. Another shudder. I don't know why she picked me for the job to attack you. Some people were able to sort of fight itI think Stefan was one. I don't know why. He didn't have a mind card.

Arthur once fought off the Mind Singer, back when I was in an egg, Brixaby added, proudly.

Digger eyed him for a moment, but then nodded.

Did she say what her plans are? Arthur asked.

No, she didn't share her thoughts with us. Only orders. He paused. But there was something funny going on with the hatching grounds. I remember she kept all the nesting mothers close. Had to keep an eye on them. Some were able to fight her. As you know, dragon mothers can be vicious. His lip curled upward to show teeth in the dragon version of an appreciative smile. Though, like Brixaby, he didn't seem too concerned about the eggs.

Her dragons went after the hatching grounds here, Arthur said. He looked at Brixaby. Do you think that could be related?

Brixaby shrugged. So did Digger.

I may be only a Common, Digger said, but my rider needs me. If you plan to go after this scourgeling, I want to join you. And if you don'tI'm going to go after her anyway.

Well, I hope you're ready to fight soon, Brixaby said, unconcerned. He had turned back to look at the hive. My second in command, Joy, has returned. And she looks angry enough to kill.