Chessmaster and I are both fully expecting a counterattack from Hydreigon. After all, our foe has so far displayed a strong brutal streak. However, even as Chessmaster braces himself and I hold the command for him to dodge ready on my tongue, Hydreigon slowly begins to lower her body toward the floor. For an absurd moment, I think that she's about to faint - especially when her heads and wings begin to hang - but then I see Sabi's hand signal and understand that this is planned. As Hydregion begins to lay down, I consider ordering Chessmaster to interfere. It would certainly be devious to bring down the final blow just before our foe has a chance to recover. But before I can get the order out, a wind begins to stir, creating a swirl of ash. The debris lands on Hydreigon's body and begins to glow, creating a bright, pale-green light that covers her entire body. Before my eyes, her wounds begin to heal. The miraculous scene brings a faint smile to my face - the temptation to attack and terminate the battle prematurely has been removed. This way, the back-and-forth volley of butt-kicking can continue for even longer.
As Hydregion begins to perk up, nearly ready to resume the fight, Chessmaster shoots a glance back at me. Bisharp to D6.
I brush away the distracting chess puns from my head and point toward his foe, trusting him to do what's needed in a suitably elegant, but still masterful, fashion.
"Hit her," I say simply, and he begins to walk.
As I watch the steel soldier cross the room, there's no doubt in my mind that he's still angry. The tension in his gait speaks to the continued tenderness of his pride. Under most circumstances, he's glad to do battle with such a powerful foe, but Hydreigon's insult is still clouding his mind.
The barrier protecting Hydreigon peels away and fades into mere dust. The dragon herself rises to her previous height, leering down at Chessmaster with a toothy smile. Chessmaster returns the gaze with a thoughtful intensity. There's a tense moment as the combatants study each other in silence, each one ready for the other to make a move.
A shimmer of white light along Chessmaster's hands breaks the standoff. Hydreigon shifts, anticipating an attack, but she's too late. Chessmaster lunges, grasping the matted fur on her chest with both hands and digging in, his fingers slicing through hair and hide alike. His whole weight goes into pulling as he drags Hydreigon down the way gravity doesn't quite dare to. As he pulls, he tilts back his head and leans inward; his chest expands as he takes a great breath.
Then, he lets out the scream
He opens his mouth wide, and a wave of dark red energy flies toward Hydreigon. The horrible noise it contains ripples through the air: a rough, tinny bellow of pent-up fury underlined with the shrill, piercing wail of metal scraping against metal. Even when the sound waves have been reflected off the walls, it's an awful sound, filled with the force of Chessmaster's anger and indignity. I can only imagine how it feels to be Hydreigon, with the noise flooding my ears and my mind. Only once the screech stops echoing does Chessmaster relinquish his grip and step backwards. The anger from before is gone, having been vented; now, his head is clear and he stands at the ready to carry out his queen's orders.
Despite myself, I can't help but smirk. Now that Chessmaster's anger has been cleared, I find my own sympathetic frustration giving way to excitement. Judging from Chessmaster's looser posture, he feels the same way. Maybe now, without this irrational rage, we'll be able to properly enjoy this battle.
But the lessened anger doesn't mean that we're going to go down any more easily.