Treius was used to be scolded by his uncle, but the old man did it because he cared for his nephew.
His words were always filled with worry and affection.
The Black Star, instead, was dissecting his life and commenting on it like it was a failed magic experiment.
There was only scorn in its thoughts.
Treius swallowed down its pride and obeyed.
His body grew in size and weight until his head scraped against the ceiling.
The Black Star absorbed all of his equipment to replenish its strength before the transformation scattered everything around the room.
His newfound tail was as thick as an SUV but much better armored.
It was covered in flaming red scales the size of a buckler shield.
Treius instinctively tried to swat his enemy like a fly, but Lith had no problem blocking the massive extremity with one hand.
\'What the heck is he thinking\' Lith raised his eyebrows while looking at the over twelve meters (40\') tall red dragon in front of himself.
\'What the heck are you thinking\' Treius echoed Lith\'s thoughts.
\'My uncle fooled me into learning how to shapeshift.
It only served to teach me light magic and the art of controlling my own life force.
It\'s a useless trick.
No matter my form, my strength and mana do not change.\'
\'You whining idiot!\' The Black Star was so annoyed it was running out of insults.
\'That was before you merged with me.
I have the life force of a whole city.
I amassed mana for centuries.
I can\'t bestow you the intelligence or the wisdom of a true dragon, but together we have the body of one!\'
Treius finally understood his partner\'s intent and called upon the life force stored inside it to fill his limbs with strength.
Lith felt the tail getting so heavy he couldn\'t hold it anymore, forcing him to retreat.
\'Solus, what\'s happening\' Lith asked as the dragon\'s scales turned into shining rubies.
Treius was getting accustomed to his new form and he spread the crystal armor all over his body, making it impervious to the Gatekeeper\'s edge.
\'The Black Star is still under the Freeze spell, but it seems their bond is similar to our own.
By pooling up their resources they can achieve the physical prowess of a real Evolved Monster.
Fight or flight\' Solus would have loved to destroy the Black Star.
If before she wanted to do it to relieve the Kadurians from the living hell they were trapped in, now it was personal.
The bond between Treius and the cursed object was a mockery of everything she held dear, a perversion of her very existence.
Yet it was Lith\'s life being at stake.
Solus would never ask him to put everything on the line just on principle.
\'I\'m not going to run.\' Lith replied clenching the Gatekeeper tight.
\'It\'s going to take time before the Black Star can act on its own.
Until that moment, this guy is just a man with a weapon.
No matter how powerful they are, all weapons share the same weak point.
Lith infused himself with all the elements but darkness, which was imbued inside his blade.
He darted behind the ruby dragon\'s foot, aiming for the Achille\'s heel.
The scales were thick and sturdy, but once crystalized they were stuck in position, leaving the tender meat underneath exposed.
Treius turned around to follow his movements, their speed almost matched.
Sadly, the main temple begged to differ.
The tail struck one of the columns and the wings got stuck into another.
Dust fell from the ceiling while Treius swayed around trying not to fall.
\'This guy is an idiot.
He may have the body of a dragon, but he\'s not used to it.
Size matters only if you know how to exploit the advantage.\' The Gatekeeper found its way between the scales, ripping through the flesh and bone like a scalpel.
Treius screamed in pain, but he didn\'t fall.
He kicked backward, trying to squash Lith like a bug.
Lith managed to dodge the heel\'s claw by a hair\'s breadth and watched the enormous foot leave a deep mark on the wall.
\'I stand corrected.\' Lith thought while getting some distance from the enemy.
\'He is an idiot that can one shot me.
I didn\'t take into account that the Black Star gives him an almost endless supply of energy.
I can\'t win this by wearing him out like usual.
I must kill him in one go.
If they are like us, once the host is dead, the artifact will be a sitting duck.\'
The dragon roared in outrage and unleashed a lightning the size of a house.
Lith took out the Faraday cage again, hoping the enemy wouldn\'t attack physically while he was unable to move.
Treius didn\'t have the opportunity to do it.
His draconic hands emitted a popping sound, exploding like a balloon.
He screamed in pain until light magic restored his limbs.
\'What did you do to me\' Treius was so shocked that he didn\'t even notice the cage.
\'Quit whining!\' The Black Star said with a disgusted tone.
\'Your mana core is too weak to handle so much mana at once, so the excess energy flown directly through your flesh making it burst.
Would have you preferred to lose your core instead\'
Lith had barely the time to put the cage back inside his pocket dimension when the dragon unleashed a barrage of punches boosted by air and fire fusion.
Even with Solus\'s help, Lith was running out of places where to hide.
The dragon\'s fists were the size of a truck and moved so fast they generated a gale strong enough to stumble Lith after he dodged each hit.
Treius spun around himself, using the tail to sweep the whole room.
The columns crumbled one after the other, adding the falling debris to the already extensive list of things Lith had to watch out for.
\'If only I could Blink.
There isn\'t much I can do from down here.
Because of the scales I can\'t reach his heart and because of the constant regeneration attacking the main arteries is useless.
My only shot is the brain, but I think even that idiot has realized it by now.\'
Lith kept running around the room while racking his brain for a solution.
\'The guy seems to have a very low pain tolerance.\' Solus pondered.
\'I have an idea, but I don\'t think you\'re going to like it.\'
\'Hit me.\' She was right, Lith didn\'t like it.
Treius was sick and tired of playing tag, so he produced a barrage of fireballs throwing them in random directions, literally bringing down the house.
Lith was forced to use his flight spell to escape from the blazing inferno.
While flying, he was forced to focus looking forward, limiting his peripheral vision to a dangerous degree.
A fireball exploded close to his feet and the resulting shockwave made him faster than he could control.
He crashed against a falling piece of the ceiling.
Because of the impact, his movement came to a halt for a split second.
It was all Treius needed.
His fist struck Lith with the strength of a freight train.
Even if Lith had managed to conjure an air barrier to take the brunt of the damage, even with the protection from the Skinwalker armor and earth fusion, Lith would have died when his body crashed against the wall.
Solus saved his life by the skin of his teeth, using an earth spell that made his landing spot elastic.
The impact was still violent enough to blur his vision and squeeze the air out of his lungs.
Lith bit his lips, using the pain to remain conscious.
Another punch followed a split second later, when he was too groggy to dodge it.