Translator: Kurehashi Aiko
Volume 4 Chapter 43: Dragon-san Worries For the Future
When I finally woke up, I found myself laying in a soft futon.
The ceiling was unfamiliar, so I wonder just for how long was I asleep? Just when I thought about that and tried to get myself up, I could hear footsteps approaching fast.
The ones to enter the room were Nectar and Aru, who jumped at me with looks of relief on their faces.
Eh, eh? What does that supposed to mean?
「You were asleep for three days and nights straight! I was so worried because something like that never happened to you before!」
「It’s good that it was nothing serious!」
Finally, my head cleared up and I remembered it all: the fog dragon, Lute, Gramps and Nectar about to go to war with Lute’s group.
「What happened after I lost consciousness?」
I asked Nectar with my expression tightened.
GRUMBLE~~~~~~~~~. It was a sound similar to a roar of some otherworldly beast.
………… Guess I was really hungry after all of that.
I must have been. After all, my stomach was never growling so hard and loud ever before in my life!
Was my belly this lonely after three days!? Was it that hungry!? Is that it!?
Even though I was thinking about something serious here, its timing couldn’t possibly be worse!
As I was trying to hide my face, which was burning so hot that it could have very well start a small fire, I could feel familiar signs of magic all around me.
「Better not force yourself too much, you are still under the influence of Lute’s curse. The Shrine Maidens are currently preparing some meal, so you might get better after you eat something good.」
Gramps entered the room as well, wearing a traditional Towa clothing.
Although his physique was so different from the people of Towa, this kimono was looking surprisingly good on him.
I looked at Gramps in a way that signaled that we need to talk.
However, Gramps only shrugged his shoulders while wearing his usual gentle expression.
I tried to say something to him, but then my stomach grumbled again, rendering it impossible.
I also noticed it just now, but it looks like my magic power was almost completely exhausted……?
Nectar and Aru both stood up, as if they felt that I was going to ask them about that and they didn’t want to answer.
「Now then, it’s lunchtime. We’ll bring you some food shortly.」
「Yup, just you wait, Mother! Would you like a double portion?」
I felt disgusted at myself that my stomach was growling so much, and then both Nectar and Aru left the room in a hurry.
Once Nectar and Aru brought me some lunch, I couldn’t help myself but to wolf it all down.
The meal was made out of steaming-hot white rice, and a lot of sided dishes. There were also plenty of fish meat and vegetables to choose from.
「Looks to me like a form of gratitude from both nearby farmers and Shrine Maidens alike.」
It seems like even though the white youmas were pretty much gone, the excess magical power from the leylines resulted in creating lots of monsters that were rampaging in the vicinity.
Even though they still needed to take care of the monsters and youmas, both the normal people and Shrine Maidens wanted to thank me for getting rid of the main ‘Eclipse’ monster, which was causing all this.
I was glad that they felt that way, but…… I was afraid that my stomach would not be able to contain all that delicious food.
I shared my portions with Nectar and Aru, and once everyone had their share we proceeded do empty our rice bowls with our chopsticks.
While we were at it, I asked Nectar and Gramps to fill me in on what I missed.
It seems that we were in one of Taisha’s branch offices, the one that got attacked by Lute. It was also the closest one to the capital of Towa.
The reason why I collapsed was due to severe exhaustion of both my stamina and magic power, and so Gramps suggested that I should stay here while I was recovering, since Taisha was the perfect place to do that.
Honestly, I was surprised.
Losing consciousness for the first time since how many years? Anyways, it was a miracle that I didn’t switched into my automatic mode, because then I could have caused some serious harm to those around me, even without me noticing.
It also seemed that I was absorbing most of the magical power from my surroundings, looking just how exhausted Gramps looked right about now. I only hope that I didn’t drain it completely.
「Your family was worried sick about you. They thought you might never wake up at this rate. They never left your side and watched over you this entire time. Your husband even stroked your head all the time. It was really cute.」
After all, it turned out that I did entered the automatic mode, but I snapped out of it as soon as Nectar connected his thoughts to me and calmed me down.
Aru did the same thing and it was because of that that they were sitting beside me this whole time.
「Uwah, I’m sorry, really sorry about that……」
It was so embarrassing that I couldn’t stop my face from becoming bright red with embarrassment.
I hung my head low, feeling all depressed, but Nectar just smiled at me gently.
「It was no big deal. What’s important is that you were alright.」
「So everything’s fine.」
Nectar smiled at me again, and I just couldn’t believe how wonderful his expression was right now!
Aru also looked so much brighter, knowing that I was alright right now.
「You don’t have to worry. We were watching you all this time.」
「Goodness gracious! Just don’t let watching other people sleep become a habit!」
…… Is this disappointment that I see on your face, my dear Nectar? I hope not!
…… Anyways, it’s good to know I didn’t do anything. Now, let’s get onto business.
「Gramps, what were you doing ever since you left the Western Continent!?」
「I feel like it’s been ages since I shed my branch for this lad here in order to make a staff for him.」
He said that completely out of the blue, and I got the feeling as if he was trying to dodge the question.
「Goodness gracious, please don’t change the subject on me now!」
Gramps makes a difficult expression while shrugging his shoulders, and then fills me in on the aftermath of this whole crisis.
It seems that with the annihilation of the big fog dragon, about eighty percent of youmas disappeared from Towa for good.
All seven branch offices of Taisha managed to endure their assault somehow.
However, there seemed to be places where the barriers collapsed together with the main Taisha, and there were sightings of both white youmas and white fog there. Even it was just a rumor, there were still lots of monsters left around to be disposed of, and both demons and people had their hands full with work.
On a side not, both Ligurila and Senjiro were dispatched quite far away from the capital, but once they arrived at the scene they managed to establish probably the biggest record of white youmas killed to date, and since they still didn’t have enough, they joined the Guardians in their hunt for any remaining monsters.
「I wonder if that’s how people fell when they are hunting First Class monsters? Towa is such a wonderful place, having playthings like that.」
That was the message Ligurila sent me, and I just couldn’t stop myself from laughing. I knew it, Ligurila was something else alright, calling exterminating the white youmas ‘fun’.
After the ‘Eclipse’ outbreak, Mikado-san and Karura-san look the command and thanks to their efforts any danger was properly disposed of before it could cause any harm to the civilians.
After the fighting ended, they were apparently busy with estimating the losses and dispatching help to anyone who might have been afflicted by the ‘Eclipse’.
However once they heard that I collapsed, Karura-san came to see me as well, ditching her responsibilities for a moment.
「Karura-onee-sama said that she would bake us some sweets for the next time we meet.」
It was only for a short while, but it seems that Aru grew especially fond of Karura-san.
I also wanted to thank Mikado-san for everything he did for us, but that might wait until after the reconstruction is finally over. Getting a hold of it all must have been a tremendous effort for him.
Although Makoto was asleep for a whole day after suffering exhaustion from housing Ten inside of her, now she was travelling all over the nearby villages together with Mikoto, helping all of those who needed help.
「…… I’m right here.」
Hearing that voice I looked back, and it seems that there was a figure there, trying to hide itself in a corner.
But wait a moment? The figure’s shadow was rather small, and its voice was rather high-pitched as well?
While I was thinking that, Aru stood up and walked over to that figure.
「Ten-san, it must be really hard to talk from way over there. Please come sit with us.」
「I, I get it! Wah! Geez, I’m not all that used to this new body of mine yet!」
After being encouraged by Aru, what appeared in front off my eyes was a rather small version of the adult Ten that I knew.
Her green hair and golden eyes stayed the same, but her body was a lot smaller and she looked just like an adorable little girl.
Five, maybe six-years-old at best? In other words, she was really young and small.
However, she was no longer semi-transparent, and gave the feeling of being closer in for to a normal physical being.
「What the hell happened to you?」
「Yeah, you see, about that.」
I was wondering whether should I be surprised or shocked more, and Ten only scratched her cheek in response.
「Now that the fog dragon was slain and most of the ‘Eclipse’ was taken care off, people no longer have any need for someone like me. My part in this play is over. I even told my children that they are no longer bound to Taisha and that they can do whatever they want.」
I wonder why she decided to do something like that, but then Ten continued talking.
「It was then that Makkocchi told me not to do that. After all, my dragon gem was still the key to the ‘Eclipse’s’ seal.」
Ten was shivering and I thought it was oddly uncharacteristic of her to be afraid, but then I could see that it was a different kind of shiver. The shiver of joy. She must have been a true vortex of different emotions right now.
Well, the fact that Ten was weakened surely won’t go unnoticed. She used to hold the demons in place, but now that she was weakened, some of them are bound to try to cause some havoc. It would be foolish to think otherwise.
However, Ten must have been aware of those facts and it must have been hard for her to accept that.
It was a given. Even though her job was over, it was hard for her to say goodbye.
Therefore, the Shrine Maidens managed to recover Ten’s dragon gem, which was the key to the ‘Eclipse’s’ seal, and filled it with magical power. Thanks to that, Ten managed to settle in this childlike, pseudo-spiritual form.
Ten summarized the whole thing quickly, but I was sure that there was more to this whole situation than that.
「I may look like that for now, but once I manage to restore my magic power inside of the dragon gem, I should be able to restore my adult form. I even contacted the Emperor to establish what to do now. Hopefully we shall reach some sort of understanding.」
Ten fell silent for a while, apparently having said everything that was on her mind.
I could understand the gravity of the situation after merging my mind with hers and witnessing some of her memories. For over five thousand years she was the living symbol of Taisha, but right now Taisha was no more and she was little different from normal human girl.
But right about now, Ten’s magical capacity was probably on par with Aru’s, maybe even lower.
However, now she could directly enjoy eating and drinking, as well as interact with people and stroll around the city like anyone else, which was impossible for her in her spiritual form. Surely the Shrine Maiden must have wanted something like that for the one who did so much for them.
So it should be okay for Ten to enjoy the country that she was protecting for so long.
Although we’ve began our acquaintance on the wrong foot, now I was genuinely happy to see her like that.
…… But there was also something else to all this.
「Well anyways, that how things look right now! I am next to helpless for the moment! Here’s your chance at revenge against me! Boil me, burn me, tear me apart, I’m not going to complain! You have every right to do so!」
Even though she said that in a light tone, in reality she must have felt really tense, awaiting the verdict and her righteous punishment. Realizing that, I corrected my posture and sat on the futon.
I still wasn’t sure if it would be alright for me to forgive her for abducting Aru like that.
Also, from their short exchange I realized that Ten was somewhat connected to Lute.
I could also feel that Nectar was at edge here. Because Ten meant that completely seriously. Every single word.
I was about ready to open my mouth and speak up, but then Gramps suddenly stood up.
Gramps walked towards Ten, looked at her for a moment and then he smacked her to the head with an open palm of his hand.
She must have been a old dragon, but for now she was only but a little girl, and so she must have felt that quite strongly, and her eyes watered with tears of pain.
「Ouch! What the hell was that for!?」
「Tempertre. You know what you did and that you cannot be forgiven so easily for that. First of all, isn’t there something you wish to say to them? It was because of their cooperation that you’ve managed to protect your beloved country.」
「But, isn’t that kind of insincere, hearing something like that from the perpetrator who caused them so much suffering?」
「You’re overthinking this way too much. Even if you don’t feel like doing it, it is nothing more but polite do so nonetheless.」
Under Gramps’s stern gaze Ten looked as though she was wavering, but then she ultimately turned towards us and bowed her head deeply to us.
「Thank you very much for saving Towa. Also, I’m sorry for all the horrible things I’ve done to you!」
Her words may have been simple, but I felt that she really reflected on her actions and that those words were coming straight from her heart.
「Umm, by any chance, do you know each other?」
It seems that Nectar was thinking the very same thing I was thinking.
Their exchange just know was so intimate that it was hard for me to believe that they have met for the very first time now. It was only natural for us to think so.
Surely enough, Ten’s expression warmed up instantly.
「Oh my, Ficell, you didn’t tell them?」
「Well you see, you butted in just when I was going to tell them.」
「Uhueh, I see, I see.」
「Wait just a moment! Who’s this Ficell guy?」
While I was curios about that unfamiliar name, Ten smiled brightly.
「Why, it’s just a name. As simple as that.」
「Um, yeah, but whose name is it?」
「Why, this guy’s here.」
Ten made a face as if she was completely understanding our shock, while for me it was the first time ever seeing Gramps looking so overwhelmed like that.
「and here I was, wondering why didn’t you tell them your name!? I know that you’re old, but you’re so slow when it comes to those things! Isn’t that girl basically your forster child by this point!?」
「I felt that there was no real need for me to do so. Besides, it’s embarrassing.」
「By the way, how come you are scolding me like you are my elder or something like that when you’re clearly younger than me!? If anything, I should be the one who should be scolding your ass off right now!」
「Don’t you act like you’re that much older than me! Besides, look at you now! You look as though you wouldn’t be able to handle a normal meal on your own!」
Seeing them bicker like that, not wanting to admit to the words of the other, made it perfectly clear: those two were old acquaintances alright.
No, I wonder if Gramps knows other dragons as well?
「Gramps, so you do have a proper name?」
「Well, yeah, I do.」
While Aru was looking at their dispute in fascination, I glanced sideways towards Nectar, and I realized that the look on his face was scarily surprised. Like, really scarily surprised.
It felt as though he couldn’t believe what he was seeing.
「Hey, Nectar? Did something happen?」
「…… Ah, no. It’s nothing.」
I knew it wasn’t ‘nothing at all’, but since Nectar said so I decided to leave it at that.
「Well, anyway! Together with Ficell, we go way back. And I must say, I’ve never really thought you would come here.」
Feeling all tense, Gramps just shrugged his shoulders.
He was doing his very best to stay calm and collected, and so he turned to Ten again.
「For now, maybe I should also try to make myself look as closely to a ten-years-old as possible?」
Rather than being angry, Gramps seemed to be infatuated with the idea of getting himself to look younger. It was nothing new to us.
…… Mainly because Gramps was doing that all the time.
「Yeah. Of course. And from what I’ve heard from Hubby-kun here and Black Dragon-chan, you are the last one of your kind?」
Looking towards us, Nectar smiled vaguely, and Aru made a complicated expression.
「Because you have sworn an oath.」
「Yeah. It was to make myself free as well.」
「Those two were rather amazing.」
I wonder what they were talking about just now?
I wanted to know, but something in Nectar’s smile was telling me that he wouldn’t tell me even if I asked him about it.
Then Ten said something about not going to lose to me, which was rather surprising in its own right.
I really hope that you won’t come to regret it.
I could respect her desire to protect the people of Towa, and I think that the desire to get to know her people and the land itself better was an admirable goal to chase.
Even though I thought I was done, I still managed to wolf down some more rice (five people’s worth of portions) and I thought that my stomach was about to settle down a little.
Perhaps it was due to Lute’s curse still coursing inside of me and the fact that my magic reserves were depleted, but I could hear my stomach growling again.
But now I was rested enough. I had the strength to ask my questions and handle the answers to them.
「Ten, about that particular subject……」
My expression tightened, but then I heard several footsteps coming closer and closer.
「Lava-sama, you finally woke up!」
Then, after Makoto, Mikoto and Kyle arrived to see me, the situation changed to a more friendly chat, and I decided to postpone the talk with Ten for sometime else.