Author’s Note: This is a spin-off chapter to celebrate the official publication of dragon-san.
The chapter will follow why Ten has decided to remain at Taisha in the form of a little girl.
『….. and that is the purpose of the Taisha and its Sacrificial Maiden.』
When Ten finally finished telling the tale, the girl with a pair of white beast ears slowly closed her eyes.
Her whole act looked as if she was trying to deny and accept something at the same time.
Ten thought that the girl would start crying, as she noticed her hands trembling on her lap.
She did not blame the girl. After all, it was a heavy topic even for adults. Even Sawa, the head shrine maiden, thought it was too early to speak.
However, from experience, Ten knew very well that if the girl could not handle the truth now, she would not be able to handle it later.
That’s why she decided to tell her today, on her fifteenth birthday. The age which shrine maidens are treated as an adult. Ten hoped for the girl to stay. However, she knew that if she spent any more time with the girl, it would only become harder to let go of her.
『If you can’t handle it, tell me now honestly. So I can wipe out your memories and assign you to a different shrine.』
As the girl’s shoulders flinched, Ten gave a gentle smile and spoke in a hopeless tone.
『Thank you….. For everything.』
Not even a moment later, the girl looked up and gazed into Ten’s eyes with her vivid red irises.
Although a single tear rolled out of her bright red eyes, the flame of determination in her eyes did not dim down.
『What made you think that I would deny?』
The first generation Amagi which Ten have loved was a quiet and elegant girl, but with steel-like determination.
Ten replayed an old memory in her mind and thought to herself how Makoto has always been terrifying whenever something has angered her.
Even when Ten revealed the secrets behind Taisha, Makoto have ranted on to Ten why she didn’t tell her about this sooner.
Every shrine maiden at Taisha had unique and fun characteristics to them. However, Makoto stood out amongst them. Her rare and interesting traits have captured Ten’s attention and have changed her perspective permanently.
After all, since the day they’ve met, when Makoto was still twelve years old, Ten knew that she would grow up to be a beautiful young lady. Especially from how her pure white ears and tail had an exceptionally soft texture.
Makoto, who has a gentle and quiet vibe to her possessed a strong determination which would intimidate a giant. Even when Ten spoke about the purpose of the sacrificial maiden, the light in her brilliant red eyes did not fade away. Even when the tears started to blur her vision.
Makoto was Ten’s precious other half. Although she has dragged Makoto into many of her selfish acts, Ten just wanted to see Makoto smile and find her own happiness.
So, Ten have made up her mind to face Makoto.
Makoto, who has finished her coming of age ceremony and grew up to be a beautiful and elegant young lady, got up from her bed.
However, as if to express the discomfort hidden deep in her mind, the white ears of hers were twitching.
『Um, Ten, is there something which I need to mad at you for?』
Ten knew very well that there was. For that matter, she has come to this room early and has sat down to prepare herself.
They were currently in one of the rooms in a shrine closest to Kayou.
Makoto walked into the room, as she has finally woken up from the Gluttonous Dragon’s Ritual.
Ten was relieved that it only took Makoto half a day to regain her consciousness.
Although Ten was already a ghost, to take in a dragon with the body of a human would have caused major stress on Makoto’s body.
Going by the books, it is not something which can be done multiple times.
Thanks to Makoto’s exceptional potential and talent, it would be possible to cast a light spell on her. However, that would not relieve the stress on her physical body at all.
『There’s something I need to tell you.』
『And what would that be?』
Ten knew that one of the reasons why Makoto was able to regain her consciousness so quickly was because she just accepted everything in.
However, Ten knew that there was another reason why…
『I’m not going to last much longer. Sooner or later, I will vanish from this world.』
The other reason was that she has already lost half of her powers.
At Ten’s words, Makoto, who rarely changed her expression, widened her eyes.
Ten was aware that this was a heavy topic to bring up to Makoto who has just regained her consciousness.
But she was also aware that this was something that she needed to tell Makoto urgently. Even at this moment, the spirit which is supporting her structure was becoming more and more unstable.
It was something that she has kept it a secret from the dragon of night and obedient, Lava. However, every time Ten used magic, it was becoming harder for her to maintain her identity. Ten could exist by proving to herself that she exists in one of the timelines. The more she interferes with the different timelines, the weaker her identity becomes.
She has grown weaker after the Gluttonous Dragon Ritual as she has used all of her strength for the ritual.
Ten would not be surprised if she was to vanish tomorrow.
That’s why she felt the need to tell Makoto the moment she woke up.
Makoto and Ten had the bond of the sacrificial maiden. On top of that, Ten has told all of the truth to Makoto. They were now practically the same person.
Because of Makoto, Ten was able to cause the uproar this time. Because of Makoto, she was able to move around freely.
So, Ten though, that the least she could do for her, was to disclose the last secret to Makoto first.
Makoto usually did not express her inner emotions. However, this was often covered up by her gentle impression.
But the two have known each other for five years. Ten knew very well that Makoto was very emotional inside.
From Ten’s perspective, five years was merely a second. However, it was more than enough time to understand each other on a personal level.
So, Ten thought that perhaps, if it was Makoto, she would cry and mourn for her. Or maybe, she might be angered at Ten for pushing everything on her. But no matter the consequences, she has settled on telling everything to Makoto would be the best solution.
And because Ten wanted Makoto to understand her intentions, she straightened her back and continued.
『By soon, I don’t mean in the next couple of hours. After all, some matters need to be sorted and responsibilities that I need to pass onto you.』
『If I recall correctly, the contract which you had with Ryuu and You have been disbanded at that very time and place. By matters and responsibilities, I believe you are referring to Lava-sama?』
As Makoto responded in her usual yet surprisingly calm tone, relief rushed through Ten’s body and she nodded silently.
『But I have no more power left.』
The recent incident which Ten has caused was something which should not have been possible.
After all, her responsibility as the Essential Dragon has come to an end, and she had no power left but to protect Towa.
However, when Lute appeared, she had no choice but to make a move.
Others may see it that Ten has done everything which she was wanted to do and that she have no regrets. However, that was not the case.
She failed to protect Towa 5000 years ago.
And that led to her regretting her decision of choosing a sacrificial maiden.
And she failed to protect her dearest friend.
And finally, Lute’s determined wish was the very definition of Ten’s regret.
In the end, Ten was not able to fulfil Lute’s wish. However, not being able to turn down his earnest wish, she has decided to cooperate with him.
Or perhaps, Ten has wished for the same thing as Lute.
To reach out for the slim hope that was left in this world, and finally clear off all of her regrets.
Ten thought to herself, that both Lute and Lava must think of her as a handful opponent.
Many people have said that she was a very hard person to read.
When in real life, she has always been serious and hard working.
Everything she has done was to protect Towa and to fulfil her duty as a dragon.
However, in the last incident, there was some of her ego mixed into it.
『The reason why I have assisted you through this uproar was that I respected your wish to save those who you care. Are you telling me that you are taking back those wishes?』
『If there’s still some possibility that I can save them than I want to bet on that chance. But I don’t have the rights to make the possibility happen anymore.』
『You no longer have the rights, you say?』
Ten didn’t blame for the hint of awkwardness in Makoto’s tone.
Makoto could accept the purpose of the sacrificial maiden. Even all the events which took place in the past 5000 years. But Lava was a different problem for them.
The dragon named Lava was an unexpected scenario.
Ten only took interest in Lava because Lute despised dragons. However, once she had met the dragon, everything about her was just present.
Although it was a reason for Ten to stay at the Taisha, she was glad that she has begged Makoto and the other shrine maidens for help.
After all, the birth of a new dragon would only bring happiness to the current state of the universe.
And the birth of Lava showed that there was still hope left in this world.
However, that all changed after Ten saw a short glimpse of memory during the Gluttonous Dragon Ritual.
Ten was happy that she was reincarnated as a dragon. However, she was not expecting her to be born with the memories from her past life.
It has been a couple of thousand years since she was brought to this world. And for the very first time, she wanted to curse the creator.
Ten did not have the heart, to pass down this burden to that dragon.
In this current time, the live ones fight for their survival and that was an expected lifestyle of a dragon.
Yet Ten was willing to make up for all the damages which she has caused to Lava and others. However, she hesitated to answer her fifth question.
『If Lute didn’t show up, I wouldn’t have thought of doing any of this. Even Ficel told me that it was an unwanted help. So, I’ll just leave the rest of it up to them.』
『Is Faecel the spirit which you have wished to meet?』
『Yep, that’s right. He called me an idiot. Don’t you think that’s a little cruel? I couldn’t even get in contact with him when I went to ask him for a piece of advice.』
Ten thought it was adorable how Makoto struggled to pronounce the foreign language.
Even though she knew her place very well, she was very disappointed with how her old friend has treated her after reuniting thousands of years later.
He was a friend who Ten has wished to meet if she had enough strength left to cross the ocean. And at the very last minute, he appeared right in front of her.
She has always thought that he appeared at an unusual time. Despite that, this was another surprise to her.
Not only that, he happened to know everything about Lava.
When she asked him how the two of them knew each other, she was shocked to hear that he had raised Lava. While he was telling the story, Ten was doing her best to not hit him in the head.
But Ten knew that regarding to this matter, she was practically a stranger. So, all she could do was to respect her friend’s decision of trusting Lava.
After all, his perspective as both the perpetrator and the victim would be the most trustworthy opinion in this situation.
『I just think that my time is up. There’s no need for Taisha anymore. And there’s the grudge from the magical beings after I used them as a labour force for over 5000 years. Thanks to Lava and her companions, the Gluttonous is almost gone. So, I think it’s safe to pass down this up coming era to the Lord.』
Although the Gluttonous hasn’t completely vanished from Towa, it was no longer a threat.
On top of that, the new contract policy established by Nectar has increased the military force in Towa.
Towa was no longer in danger.
And Ten was no longer needed in Towa. In fact, she would only be seen as a hazard.
『I guess all is well if it ends well. Towa doesn’t need my protection anymore. This is the situation I have always dreamed of! So I will quietly disappear as a dead dragon should.』
When Ten stated in an upbeat tone, Makoto’s expression, for the very first time sharpened.
With this, Ten felt a little uncomfortable but before she could add anything, the pale pink lips broke the silence.
『Are you sure that there’s nothing you won’t regret?』
『If I said there wasn’t, I would be lying… But come on, I died a long time ago.』
Although a dragon’s death is very complicated, Ten, who has already lost her original form would be going against the law of nature if she stayed in this world any longer.
It will only become more difficult for her to go against the core force of this universe.
Ten regrets the fact that she needs to leave everything which comes after this to the others. However, she has already made up her mind.
Makoto, who have understood Ten’s intention nodded in silence.
Seeing this, Ten has heartfully felt that she did not want to see Makoto in despair.
『Don’t worry, I don’t think that everything which comes after this is going to be bad. Makoto, you’re free now. You’ve escaped the fate of death. You can be wedded to the person you love. And find your own happiness. It’s a pity that I won’t get to see you in a wedding dress. I’m sure you would look beautiful in it!』
Ten knew very well that all those words did was provide a little comfort to Makoto.
However, Ten knew that when people were struck with hopeless situations, they hit rock bottom, and cry. But then, they always get back up. And sometimes, they rise stronger than a dragon.
So, Ten faced the girl who has accompanied her for the past five years and bowed down with every respect and gratefulness that she could gather.
『Thank you so much, for dealing with all my selfishness.』
『Not at all.』
That Makoto’s unhesitating response has truck into Ten’s mind.