Translator: Kurehashi Aiko
Volume 4 Chapter 35: Dragon-san Meets Again
The moment I passed through the water mirror I felt cool, but my clothes didn’t get wet in the slightest.
Another step and I feel a cold and hard cobblestone under my feet.
It was a good thing to actually wear shoes for that, assuming that Taisha will be located somewhere outdoors.
When I got out of the portal, a clear and blue sky greeted me.
When I turn around the water mirror was still there, its surface shaking as always.
The place where I emerged was a well-maintained garden with lots of colorful flowers.
However, even though there were traces of magic in the air, I couldn’t feel any kind of connection to the actual leylines.
In other words, this space was supposedly completely isolated from the outside world.
Even though this space felt open, at the same time it felt strangely closed off.
Being able to sense the unnatural nature of this place, both Kyle and Karura-san seemed restless and nervous.
「So this is Taisha’s headquarters…… It looks strangely similar to its branch offices, but the atmosphere is different.」
Mikado-san also looked rather restless, but he was staying vigilant all the time.
If I had to describe it in any kind of way, I would have called it a garden inside of the box.
Anyways, the magnificent and tall building which could be seen in the distance must be the main hall.
「As we agreed, Kyle-dono is going to protect this place and the portal. Although, I would like to avoid fighting as much as possible.」
Says Mikado-san while looking over the garden’s alleyways.
There, a familiar figure was approaching us.
Yes, thinking that they wouldn’t notice our arrival at their territory was a little bit too much.
「Oh my, I know I was the one who told you to ‘come’. But I never would have expected you to come so quickly.」
It was Ten herself, who appeared with her long green hair undone and wearing traditional Towa clothing, smiling wryly.
Beside here, there was also a person with white hair, with red bunches in between them.
The girl was wearing a white kimono with red roses on it. She bowed down to me and looked apologetically, probably intending to leave all the talking to Ten.
「Lava, that woman there, is she……?」
「Yeah, the chief deity of Taisha, the one responsible for abducting Aru and Mikoto.」
Kyle asked me quietly and I answered him the best I could, feeling a little bit on edge with Ten right in front of me. But before any of us could do something, Karura-san took the initiative and stepped forward.
「I hope that you’re aware of the fact that our intrusion in here does not violate our covenant in the slightest?」
To that, Ten nodded her head slightly, never stopping smiling.
「I realize that. I can also see that your magical core is still intact and that you’re treated well. It looks like your Emperor is truly a good man after all.」
It was also a good thing that Mikado-san realized with whom he was dealing with, as he lowered his head slightly in a sign of respect.
「So, you are the chief deity of Taisha. I am the one that people of this land call their Emperor. I am terribly sorry that we came here unannounced.」
「Oh, I don’t mind that. Truth to be told, I have never seen someone being able to recreate the gate to our home and bringing another dragon with them as well.」
「I was always thinking that I was blessed with luck, but this time around it proved to be truly exceptional.」
To that statement, Ten shrugged her shoulders, her eyes suddenly becoming sharper.
「However, I am quite sure that this fulfills some of the old promises, wouldn’t you agree?」
Ten’s voice seemed to be even more cheerful than before, but it wasn’t aligning with the look in her eyes at all.
「I can only hope that there will be times again when the Emperor will be allowed by the chief deity to open the gates to Taisha. Just like our ancestors were able to do.」
With those words I finally understood why Mikado-san wasn’t worried about being forced back from here.
Perhaps long ago, there was some kind of connection going on between Ten and the Emperors of this land.
「There certainly were the times like that. However, you. Do you really understand the true meaning behind the old promises?」
Her voice was as cool and cold as ice, but Mikado-san wasn’t intimidated by it.
「I know that. But what I hope for is the abolishing of the Head Shrine Maiden system.」
Ten looked surprised there for a second, and then she looked really sad for a moment.
「I see, so you came here knowing about that, huh? But, my answer is still……」
「You don’t have to tell me. We came well prepared to persuade you. So we are going to get along, whether you like it or not.」
Mikado-san laughed dryly while Ten smiled, seeing that there was someone willing to challenge her.
「This case is rather irregular, but tha doesn’t change the fact that you’ve come here of your own volition. So I must listen to you, no matter what.」
Her voice just now was like that of a caring mother, and hearing it the sense of disparity between her look and her words grew only larger.
「But, I am still Makkocchi’s partner, and I can’t leave her for too long since she’s not feeling well for the moment. Don’t you dare thinking she’s a mere substitute. She and I are one and the same.」
There were lots of things that I wanted to ask her about, but for now I decided to focus on the thing that was most important to us.
「I hope that Mikoto and Aru are both safe. It’s for your own good.」
Together with Nectar, we ran an analysis of her battle potential.
Most of them were in the realm of speculation, but I should be able to win against her.
「Of course, and they shall be brought over here soon. After all, that is the sole reason you’ve come here, right? But, are you sure you’re alright with that?」
She asked me that without changing her position, but I somehow knew that she was ready to go at any time. I also somehow understood that she was able to see right through me.
I wanted to talk back to her, but then Mikado-san spoke first to the Shrine Maiden that was standing right beside Ten.
「If the Head Shrine Maiden system stays intact, you are going to eventually run out of Shrine Maidens to support it.」
「Well then, it’s settled. For the time being, I shall welcome you to my home.」
Says Ten while spreading her arms and making a welcoming gesture.
However, at that time I felt something familiar approaching, and it was approaching fast. Listening carefully, you could hear the sound of small footsteps resonating against the cobblestone path.
What appeared in the distance, was Aru, running towards the gate at full speed with red bunches scattered throughout his hair.
At that moment, I couldn’t stop myself.
Without thinking much, I slipped right past Ten and ran towards Aru, taking him in my arms and hugging him with all my might, while he looked like the happiest person in the entire world right now.
「Ooooh. You noticed as well? That’s the dragon child for you, I guess.」
「Are you hurt somewhere? Weren’t you scared? I’m so sorry it took me so long……」
「No, I’m fine. So please don’t worry, Mother. The Shrine Maidens here were all very nice to me.」
As I brushed Aru’s hair and checked his body for any injuries, Ten’s voice was totally unimportant to me right now.
He was wearing a white kimono with red motifs, he looked uninjured in any kind of way and his complexion was as healthy-looking as ever.
But above all else, it was good to see that his expression was as bright as always.
But then suddenly, Aru’s golden eyes were filled with tears.
「I was so sad! I wanted to see you and Father so much……!」
I hugged Aru even tighter, not even realizing that my own eyes were now filled with tears.
「That’s right, my child. I was sad, too. And so, so scared……」
The last thing that Aru saw before being taken away, was the sight of us being unable to beat Ten.
So it’s hardly even surprising that he was scared about our well-being.
As soon as I realized that, I was full of regrets that we didn’t manage to get here earlier.
I wanted to apologize to him some more, but I knew that he would probably just try to diminish it all, saying that it was alright. He was a smart child, after all.
If so, it was far better to just let him cry for now, and let all of those negative emotions out.
「Ten, could you perhaps show any kind of remorse for what you did?」
「…… I am terribly sorry for my rash actions. Believe it.」
As I was busy caressing Aru’s soft hair, I heard something like that coming from behind my back.
Looking behind, after being scolded for her behavior Ten’s arms dropped as she hung her head low.
Noticing my look, Makoto got on her knees and lowered her head to the ground in a gesture of apology.
「Lava-sama. We do not have the right to ask for your forgiveness. However, I would like you to at least let us explain ourselves properly.」
Then, Makoto turned herself towards Mikado-san.
「Now then, Your Imperial Majesty, please, right this way. We shall talk about our current predicament.」
The way in which she spoke right now and her posture made her look like a solemn old lady.
It was so uncharacteristic of her that you would almost forget that she was somewhere in the middle of her twenties at best.
「Umu. I get it. Let us go, Karura.」
Said Mikado-san as if he was waiting for those exact words, and then he and Karura left via the other path, guided by Makoto.
There were only four of us left in here for the moment, and apparently Ten was at a loss of what to say, sweating buckets and fidgeting in place.
「Ahh, umm, hmmm. …… For the time being, the gate can be left open. Although the technology used in its creation uses a whole lot of energy, but we shall let that slide for now.」
「Yeah, there’s a whole mountain of questions that I want to ask you.」
When I said that, Ten seemed to relax just a little bit, her tension now nowhere to be seen.
「Of that I am sure. Let’s go somewhere where we can speak in peace.」
I agree to her words, but when I try to get up, Aru clings to my clothes with his small hands.
Seeing that my heart ached tremendously. I wanted to stay here with him, but I had to go. So I brushed Aru’s hair aside and gently kissed him to the forehead.
「Nectar is at the other side of the gate. If you’d like, you can go there to him.」
「What about you, Mother……?」
「Now that I have seen your face, all safe and sound, I feel motivated again. There are still some things that I must take care off, you see.」
I smiled at him and seeing as Aru managed to relax a bit, I stood up.
But I still knew that he would rather see me not go with Ten, and my heart was breaking apart knowing that I had to go no matter what.
Having reassured Aru, I then turn towards Kyle.
「Miko-chan is still not here, so please be careful.」
Kyle then comes to me, looking at Ten with mysterious look in his eyes.
He must have been thinking the exact same thing I was: why was this dragon so strangely cooperative right now?
Besides our questions, I wanted to hear what they had to say.
「Now then, shall we get going?」
「Of course. That’s what we’ve come here for in the first place.」
Ten invited us to come with her, and we accepted the invitation.