Translator: Kurehashi Aiko
Volume 4 Chapter 9: Dragon Family Returns Home
The next day our short vacation came to an end.
I returned to my dragon form and flew over the Vishana mountains with Nectar on my back.
Aru was flying right next to me, spreading his red wings.
I think that he got a little bigger since the last time I saw him in this form.
Normally, dragons reach the state of adulthood the moment they are born.
But in Aru’s case, the circumstances must have been a little bit different, since he was born from the union of a dragon and a spirit. It looks as though his physical growth was connected to his mental growth.
It was a happy thing and a sad thing at the same time, knowing that something like that was happening over the spring break and I couldn’t witnessed it with my own eyes.
“But still, I was really surprised that Ligurila and Mikoto were arguing so much with each other. Good thing that things didn’t get too far, though……”
“Maybe that’s the effects of the hot water and a good breakfast, but they looked as though nothing really happened.”
“Is it only me, or Big Sis Lily and Miko-san seemed to get along better? I got a feeling like that.”
“Most likely. But still, they had a little fight today near the lake. Well, you can’t really call that a fight, but still……”
Remembering Ligurila and Mikoto, I couldn’t help it but to be reminded of just how we used to be with Ligurila when we just met one another.
Before returning home I decided to check on the two of them just in case, only to find them floating on the water’s surface inside of the hot spring.
Without me there, there was no one to regulate the water temperature, so it naturally went back to its usual temperature.
I put both of them inside of the lake so they could cool down a little, and once they both regained consciousness they got dressed and I brought them both home.
Mikoto I could understand, but why was Ligurila so stubborn on sitting in the hot spring? Was this some kind of competition of endurance between the two of them?
Recently, because of her work Ligurila was spending more and more time in her humanoid form, so one might think that she would learn a thing or two about her own body, like for example heat resistance threshold.
I knew that in order to show how important Senjiro was to her, she was willing to do pretty much anything, but forcing herself to stay in hot water even though she couldn’t handle it was going a bit overboard in my book……
When Mikoto regained consciousness, she wanted to show off and leave the water on her own, which resulted in her tripping and falling back into the water again.
Anyway, the relationship between Mikoto and Ligurila was indeed a strange one, based on mutual aversion and bordering on hatred.
Even today, while everyone else was enjoying the beautiful, mountainous scenery, Mikoto and Ligurila were keeping their distance from one another, glaring daggers at one another so intensely that you could almost see the sparks that were flying between them.
I really pity both Kyle and Senjiro, thinking about what they are going to be going through once we get home and everything settled down.
“Mother, I saw something! It’s the Tree Grandpa!”
Before Aru could finish that sentence, I could see it as well.
In the woods that we were currently passing, there was only one giant tree standing above all else, like a green monument, shining with magical radiance.
And since it was so big, it was absorbing most of the magic from the atmosphere, which made its leaves thick and green.
It was the world’s largest tree, currently housing the Great Plant Spirit, being which I simply called Gramps and who was Nectar’s master.
I give Aru a short answer and I begin to descend.
When I started to lower my altitude, Nectar jumped off my back and flew down on his staff.
Not wanting to be left behind, Aru changed into his human form, leaving only his wings intact, and began to gently descend towards the ground.
Suddenly, my nostrils were filled with the rich smell of leaves, grass and soil.
Aru was already at Nectar’s side, trying his best to keep his balance while staying motionless in mid-air.
「Flying it the human form is so difficult. I can’t maintain my balance without my tail.
「That’s because the bodies of humans are not suited for flying, but don’t fret over it too much. It’s not like it’s an obligatory skill to have.」
「But Mother can do that and it looks so cool! One day I will be able to do it properly, you’ll see!」
I walked through the forest with a huge smile on my face, until eventually I emerged into a huge clearing where the sun was shining brightly.
There was only one tree standing in the middle of that clearing.
In order to see the top of the tree from the ground you had to really bend back your neck, and even then the only thing you’d be able to see would be a canopy of leaves and branches. Incidentally, the branches of that tree were as thick as a human being.
The trunk supporting the whole tree was simply massive, even a few grown men wouldn’t be able to embrace it whole if they tried, and thick, long roots were spreading in all possible directions.
No, not even a dragon or two would be able to encompass it.
The leaves were gently swaying in the wind, letting only some of the sunshine to shine through their thick barrier.
The beauty and tranquility of this place was simply overwhelming.
The wind was blowing, the branches were swaying, and I could sense the newly born spirits drifting through the air and laughing happily.
I knew it, it was the perfect environment for magic and spirits alike.
Originally, plants only held the ability to suck the magic from underground leylines and expel it through their leaves into the atmosphere.
However, this Spirit Tree was quite special, for it was absorbing magic and keeping most of it for itself.
That is why lesser spirits were gathering around it, seeking its protection and nourishment, making the population quite huge.
The environment rich in magical power was a potent breeding ground for spirits, but on the same principle, it was also attracting monsters and large animals.
If the region was teeming with magical power, the likelihood of such spirit trees emerging in the center of the woods was that more probable.
There was also a folk tale being told about the great spirits sleeping inside of every spirit tree like that without exception, and those who would receive a branch of the tree from those spirits would be bound to become the heroes of legends.
Gramps that lived here used to give me lectures on the use of ancient magic, and I noticed right away that something felt off.
「Strange, Gramps is not here?」
The atmosphere around the base of the tree was calm and still, with Gramps nowhere to be seen.
If the spirit tree and the spirit dwelling inside of it are deeply connected, the spirit could absorb even more magical power from its surroundings, eventually leading to it being able to manifest a body and to move freely outside of the tree, up to some distance.
Nectar, who was not holding onto his staff, was a prime example of such a rule.
However, since the spirits were usually fond of the land in which they were born, they stayed there for eternity, the concept of moving somewhere else unknown to them.
As a Plant Spirit, Gramps was exactly the same. This was surprising, because he never left his dwelling.
「Gramps––! Where are you––!?」
Aru noticed that something was wrong as well, but still he jumped on top of the massive roots and called out to Gramps, hoping to hear a response.
Then there was a surge of light in the middle of the tree’s trunk, and a figure of an old man appeared from inside of it.
At first glance I thought it was Gramps in the flesh, but then I realized it was a kind of magical recording, since it felt kind of off.
Even though it was voice only, Gramps seemed to sound fine.
He watched us gather around him before he finally laughed in a gentle manner.
「Long time no see, Obsidian. If you’re looking at this, I hope that you brought Aru boy with you as well. My disciple is probably with you, as well.」
「I’m right here, Master. I see that you never change.」
The recording kept on going, even despite Nectar’s comment.
「Knowing you two, you do nothing but flirt all day and all night long. I know that you love one another greatly, but try not to cause Aru boy too much trouble, will you?」
「N-no, I don’t think that we do it that much……」
I could feel my face getting red, but when I thought about it calmly, he may have been right.
…… I wonder, is that really a recording magic?
Gramps took a deep breath, there was a flash of light and his usual robe turned into a set of travelling clothes.
The clothes looked sturdy and of utmost quality, tailored in the Ballow national style.
「Now then, on to the main subject. I was looking forward to this spring break, and I took the occasion since I haven’t done it in quite a while. I want to see the world and its people again. It’s been such a long time. We may not be able to get in touch, but I want you to know that I’m well.」
「To see the world……?」
I simply couldn’t imagine Gramps walking across the land like a normal human being.
Next, the recording shifted slightly, so that Gramps’ line of sight could match that of Aru.
「I’m sorry, Aru boy. I really wanted to act like a proper grandfather to you, but I’ll bring you some nice souvenirs from my travels. Please forgive me.」
「I’m looking forward to it.」
Even though I knew it was a recording, upon hearing Aru’s answer Gramps smiled brightly and his image faded away.
Then, Nectar began to examine the branch that triggered the recording, and the magic circles drawn all over it.
「This wasn’t here before the beginning of the spring break. He must have left it behind so that we could guess the date.」
「It looks like Gramps really went away.」
「What a shame. I don’t entirely get it, but I think it’s all true.」
I gently stroke Aru’s head, while the lesser spirits gathered around me.
They tried their best at comforting me, tickling and rubbing themselves all over me.
「Yeah, I’m fine. Thanks. …… That’s right! Mother, I want to greet other spirits as well!」
「Then come closer to the tree.」
After saying that, Aru began to climb the tree.
Or, to be more precise, since the branches were so thick, he was jumping from one branch to another in small jumps.
I watched Aru climb, becoming smaller and smaller, and eventually I sat on top of one of the roots.
The roots were so tall, that once you sat on top of one of them, your feet weren’t touching the ground.
As I shook my legs, I thought to myself that this tree was truly something taken straight out of a fantasy book or a fairy tale.
「What a shame. There were so many things I wanted to say to him and so many things I wanted to hear from him.」
Who knows? Since Gramps was so withdrawn, maybe it was going to be good for him to experience the world, but because of his bad timing I couldn’t really help it but to feel discouraged.
I let out a long sigh, and Nectar sat down right next to me and said.
「It’s about that “Eclipse” thing, right?」
「Yeah. Gramps is the only being who has lived longer in this world than any other dragon. And none of the dragons seem to know anything about it.」
I then recalled the events that happened during the dragon meeting just before we came here, when I reported about the “Eclipse” to the other dragons.