Translator: Kurehashi Aiko
CHAPTER 18: Dragon-san Gets Scolded At
「Obsidian, is something wrong?」
When I noticed, there was Ligurila standing in front of me, watching me anxiously with her purple-blue eyes.
Apparently I was unconsciously walking around the city, and ended up coming to the shop that was run by her.
Seeing the unchanging beautiful features and golden hair of this powerful spirit made me feel truly relieved.
「 Oh, it’s nothing serious. I just thought that I really wanted to see your face. That’s all.」
I felt as if that short exchange was enough to recharge my batteries, and so I smiled at her and turn around, wanting to leave.
Surprisingly enough, when I look back at her, Ligurila frowns her eyebrows, as if I said something that was truly annoying.
「 I can clearly see that it is not ‘nothing serious’. Which means it must be something related to that mage. Well, why don’t you step inside and sit down so we can talk?」
We went up the stairs that were situated at the back of the shop, and entered Ligurila’s private room on the floor.
I was brought here since it would be a bother to other costumers if we talked inside of the shop, but here we could talk as much as we wanted, without interrupting anyone.
「 By the way, you seem to really like those sweets, so why don’t you have some?」
When we went to the room Ligurila offered me a bag full of madeleines, to which I reacted with a somewhat confused expression.
「 It’s alright. They are really good, you should have some.」
「 But, weren’t those meant to be for you? You don’t have to be considerate of me, really. I can go and buy my own.」
「 …… No, that’s not it.」
I reluctantly have a bite, and almost immediately a shocking sensation penetrates my whole body, from the tip of my tail to the top of my head.
「 They are … Delicious.」
I was honestly surprised by my own words here.
「 Even though they were so tasty before, since Nectar is missing I seem to have lost my tastebud.」
Reflected on the surface of the tea that was in the cup that I held in my hands was my own face, looking rather miserable right now.
Since it was the tea that Ligurila brew, it is probably a first-class product, but I can hardly smell its fragrance or delight myself with its taste. I felt nothing at all.
Still, thanks to that pleasant warmness that was spreading all over my fingertips, I managed to somehow calm down enough so that I could at least explain my circumstances to Ligurila.
After I finished explaining, Ligurila let out an exaggerated sigh.
「 I thought that the royal palace was more noisy than usual. It precisely because of that you should never trust people like that so easily.」
「 ………… Doing so would go against the purpose of my work.」
「 No, those are two completely different things.」
Ligurila’s brows frown yet again, as she continues talking.
「 Unlike ours, people lives are quite transient ones. No matter where and no matter with whom, sooner or later there will come a time where we must say goodbye. Since you are a dragon, surely you understand that?」
「 Somehow, before I went to the wilderness, I thought that I would always be cheerful when eating sweets, but now they have hardly any taste at all. That surprised me. –––– And then, before I even noticed it, I was frightened.」
「 You? Really?」
Feeling a strange stiffness inside of my chest, I averted my gaze from hers, embarrassed.
「 I told you before that I am somewhat of an imperfect dragon, have I not?」
「 Hmm, I know it was your reason for refusing my challenges. However you said that you thought that the difference between you and other dragons laid in how rich in emotions you were, correct? Rather, judging from the speed with which you create magic circles, couldn’t you say that you are far superior of a dragon instead?」
「 Won’t you look at that, I got praised by Ligurila.」
「 I was only stating the facts. Please, don’t try to make fun of me.」
I immediately apologize, seeing how Ligurila was looking displeased.
「 However, it is true that fixing and readjusting the flow of leylines, directing the flow of magic to places that are devoid of it and getting rid of the monsters born from stray magic are all things that take hundreds or even thousands of years to get done. Only you and your race are capable of doing that. As much as it bugs me that dragons have so much influence over magic.」
Said Ligurila, while letting out a heavy sigh upon hearing my apologies.
I guess that was to be expected, since I showed her my one and only real weakness. For someone who was one of the most powerful spirits it the whole world, it surely must have been pathetic.
「 …… I’m surprised you don’t use too much of your magic while walking around town.」
Ligurila came up with another sharp retort, but this time I felt relieved to hear her acting her usual self, and responded with a bitter smile.
「 Well, part of the reason is that I simply have too much of it, and also I’m still not all that good at handling it well.」
After all, magic and magecraft are two entirely different things.
Magic in itself was a gift – a miracle – that the first Gods have used at the dawn of Age of Creation to shape the world as they saw fit.
Magecraft is an art that tried to recreate, or imitate, said miracles, able to cause phenomena that would normally be deemed as impossible, but they lack power to influence the foundation of the world itself.
Magic, on the other hand, was capable of creating new laws that would influence the very foundations of this world, and would continue to influence it without any limitations.
Even when it comes down to using magic for something as spatial transportation, there are only a handy of creatures besides dragons that would be able to travel over long distances via this technique, like Gods, magical beasts and High Spirits.
But since its composition was complicated and the spell itself difficult to pull off, only a selected few were able to use it efficiently.
But, if I was unable to memorize the exact procedure and adjust the leyline properly to use a spell like that, I wouldn’t be reincarnated as a dragon in the first place.
Even now I remember how long it took me to master the very basics, and it would probably take me another 1000 years to understand everything there was to understand about magic.
「 When a dragon is born, it immediately acquires the collective knowledge of all its brethren that came before him. As well as skill necessary to do their duty. One of such skills is magic that allows to record the memories.」
「 Memory recording magic? What’s that supposed to mean?」
「 For example, please tell me: what is the difference between a diary and the observation log?」
Ligurila was silent for a moment, thinking about my abrupt question.
「 Is it the fact that one is subjective and the other is objective?」
「 Well, simply put, it about emotions. Since it is you that we’re talking about, you surely must have met other dragons, so you’ll definitely be able to see it. Talking with them must have felt like talking to a robot…… It must have felt almost like a gimmick of some kind, no? That is because all of the emotion are being erased from our collective memory as it is stored only as a dry record. They don’t feel anything and by extension cannot think of anything. I mean, why would they? After all, feelings are not necessary to protect the flow of magic in this world.」
I smiled bitterly at seemingly breathless Ligurila.
「 Because dragons cannot really forget anything, I think it must work in such a roundabout way. –––– Personally, I think that our Creator is too cruel. Imprinting the position of supremacy onto us, only to torment us with pain and loneliness of other dragons under the excuse of gifting us with knowledge about magic. You don’t really need it, but it is necessary for you to know about magic. Not to mention that I was thinking that this whole function was one big joke, and it was bugging me to the point that my knowledge acquisition didn’t go so well. 」
It was at that moment that I became tired of having no emotions at all.
Still, I knew that our Creator didn’t probably bless us with this ability out of pure malice, but rather out of love and his desire for us to help oversee this world from the moment we were born.
That being said, I still think it was a little bit too much coming from him.
「 Food is not tasty anymore, I have trouble with getting up in the morning, and walking around town is not nearly as fun when you’re alone. I feel scared. I feel lonely. All those emotions are frightening me beyond belief.」
If I knew from the start that the feeling of separation would be this painful, I wouldn’t even try to make friends in the first place. But now this feeling has penetrated deeply into my dragon heart.
「 Even so, isn’t that you, yourself chose to lose your faith? Even though it sounds really foolish to do something like that after thinking about it.」
「 But it’s been almost three years now. I don’t even want to think that it’s been three years since Nectar has left. And if he’d be gone, if you and Gramps had left as well, I would surely go crazy. I don’t want that!」
My life is a long one.
Someday, Nectar, Kyle, Gramps and even Ligurila are all going to pass away, and I will be all alone again.
So before that happens, even though I still had my responsibilities of restoring the proper flow of magical powers throughout the world, I wanted to feel connected to them, laugh together, cry together, have fun together and get mad together.
I was so happy that I met Nectar, I was delighted to spent time together with him, and I would surely never forget those days even if I tried.
Probably the only weaknesses of us dragons are sadness and fear of solitude.
Even if I clenched my fists so hard that they started to hurt, the tears began to flow from my eyes and drip down onto the floor like crystals.
「 I am afraid, Ligurila. What if someday I will forget all the memories of the time I have spent with my friends, and become just like any other dragon?」
Feeling of loneliness would made me lose my sense of self, turning me into nothing more but a simple gear in a giant machine, forcing me to keep on supporting the world without really caring for anyone of forming relationships with others.
Once the tears started to flow they just wouldn’t stop, and so I watched in silence that continuous stream of transparent crystals.
I didn’t know what to do, so I tried to wipe it out with my hands to stop it somehow, so I couldn’t see that Ligurila moved closer to me.
「 W, what…… Ouch, it hurts!」
Hearing that I was called, I raised my face to look at her, only to be flickered to the forehead by her finger, as a result of which I fell down to the ground.
Ouch, my neck hurts like hell!
If I was just an ordinary human, that flicker would have send my whole head flying, are you even aware of that!?
「 You are just……!」
Thanks to that sudden action my tears stopped flowing, but when I got up my neck was still hurting, and to make matters worse I was met with Ligurila’s angry gaze, so strong that it was warping her usually beautiful facial features.
「 Last time you said that next time I would come to challenge you, you would go seriously against me, so I’m not going anywhere anytime soon! Right now you look and sound like some sore loser who keeps bringing your family down because of your own anxiety. If you’re worrying about the future, then you’re nothing but a huge idiot!!」
「 I, idiot, you say……」
Who’s the idiot here!?
That’s what I wanted to say, but Ligurila’s angry voice proved too much for me to overcome.
「 Also, what humble words! You kept on fighting the loneliness for almost 300 years?! You didn’t give up even though it was painful? When you fell down, you got right back up? You are different from other dragons just because you have emotions from the very beginning? Is that about it?
I don’t think so. It’s because you’ve managed to befriend such a weird magician to the point where you can basically empathize with humans, but it’s also that you can be happy to someone like me, who just came to see you to issue another challenge to you. There is no other dragon who is as friendly, beautiful, charming and strong like you. And trust me, I have seen plenty of dragons during my lifetime.」
I gazed upon Ligurila’s face, that looked like a mixture of anger and sadness.
Don’t call somebody an idiot while looking like that, it makes you look like an even bigger idiot.
However, it looks like her words managed to seep deep into me, reaching all the way down to the very bottom of my heart.
「 It feels nice to be praised by you, Ligurila.」
「 I told you, it’s not praise! Those are merely the facts!」
「 …… Yeah, yeah. Thank you, Ligurila. That really cheered be up.」
I laughed while rubbing my forehead, and at the same time Ligurila’s usually porcelain face took the color of deep crimson all the way up to the tips of her ears.
This battle-obssessed maniac who also likes fashion way too much, even though she was consoling someone she couldn’t bring herself to be honest about it.
I let out a sigh, and then I laughed so honestly and happily like I have never laughed in quite a long time now.
Let’s not get too preoccupied with the future. I’ll leave the future problems to the future me.
Since my destination is way somewhere ahead of me, it is okay to only focus on things that I can do right here, right now.
Although that didn’t really solved anything for me, somehow I felt a lot better, having let all those crystal tears out.
「 Oh my, whatever shall we do with all of this? Oh well, maybe you can use them as glass beads and decorate some clothes with them?」
「 …… Are you planning on creating some sort of ultimate battle attire? Also, with only one of those crystals you could easily afford to buy a whole country for yourself. I may be able to find some customers for them, but first I would have to tweak with their appearance for a little bit.」
「 Wait, weren’t you the one who flickered my forehead first? I know that we didn’t really made this into official duel, but since you managed to beat me this time, you deserve a prize. I know you always demanded some of my blood, but this time around, why don’t you just take all of those crystals as a prize?」
「 It’s not like I need your blood for anything any longer. It would sure be nice, but I’ll pass this time around. So how about ––––」
Although her facial expression was impossible to read for a short while, right now Ligurila looked like a little child who just happened to come up with a new idea for a prank, making it a complete turn from her dignified self from just a moment ago.
「 How about … Let me address you with your nickname?」
「 Really? That’s all you’re asking? Okay, I guess.」
「 We’ve known each other for a really long time, but I regret that we didn’t get to know each other better like you did with that magician, but don’t think that I just want to pick fights with you! If possible, I would also like for us to engage in more of the casual activities together! Well, we could also try to hang out with those friends of yours, even though they are kind of –––– Ugh, your’re fine with that, right!? Look what you’re making me say!」
It may be kind of rude of me to say this, but Ligurila’s face was really cute when she was flustered and was trying to make excuses like that.
It’s also good that we made a promise to call ourselves by our names!
「 It’s kind of lonely that only I get to call you by your name, Ligurila. Oh, by the way, feel free to use as much of those crystals as you like. I don’t really mind.」
「 T, thank you so much!」
「 Sure thing, so could you refrain from flicking me to the forehead in the future?」
「 I told you to stop with that already, umm…… Lava!!」
Seeing Ligurila acting all flustered like that made me feel somehow stupid and guilty all of a sudden.
Well, it would be a real shame to just end things here, when they were starting to get so fun.
「 Besides, wouldn’t it be nice to do something different for a change, rather than just sit in one place and be depressed? If you were up to it, we could even turn it into a game of some sorts.」
It was not because I wasn’t able to see Nectar.
Thinking back, I really needed a change of pace just so I could clear my mind off of those awful and dark thoughts and emotions.
I cleared my eyes of any doubt, wanting to properly reward my friend’s efforts.
「 …… I guess you’re right. In that case, will you come with me?」
「 Eh, eeehhh, of course, with pleasure!」
Once her eyes started to shine with her usual fighting spirit, Ligurila took hold my my stretched out hand.
After spending time walking around town aimlessly, talking and having a good time. Ligurila watched her friend’s dignified back as she left. At first, she felt kind of uneasy, knowing that she was only acting as a substitute for the irreplaceable friend. But.
When Ligurila saw her like that for the first time in a long time, it made her feel relieved deep down inside.
But that also made her remember how the dragon used to act when that magician was around, which made her smile bitterly.
『 Does she really fail to notice it, or maybe she is simply pretending to not notice … or maybe she is trying to be considerate?』
She was certainly a gentle dragon, and she should have known when to back down and when to give up.
Anyway, dragons were always the race that was holding neutral positions. And even the most quirky ones would never forgive those who would try to diverge them from that neutrality.
Take this dragon, for example: they’ve known each other for hundreds of years, and Ligurila was yet to see her fail to do her duty correctly or to abuse her power.
It’s also good to know that her relationships with humans didn’t hinder her sense of responsibility, but still it was the cause for at least some concern.
『I wonder if she understands. That this pain in her chest is not simply because of friendship.』
It took Ligurila some manner of persuasion, but she finally managed to convince Lava to tell her the first time she started to feel that strange kind of pain in her chest. Turns out, as she clumsily explained it to Ligurila, it all started on the night of New Year’s festival and a certain conversation she had with this magician friend.
This dragon here suggested to her friend that he should start a family and have a child of his own. And that she could watch over his descendants as the time went on.
In and out of itself it was a rather foolish and meaningless idea that she suggested quite carelessly, but Ligurila understood that she said that to escape the feeling of loneliness.
Even though she would protect the descendants of her friend, they would never be her actual friend.
It just goes to say how desperate she really was.
However, she must have had a good reason of telling him such a thing. Otherwise she would have never said something as insensitive as this.
Ligurila didn’t know what to think about this, but she tried to find an answer to that question nonetheless.
Needless to say, she did not succeed.
『 …… Even so, I have decided to bury the hatchet and to make an outfit for that person, and it ended up going to waste. He deserves to die. I am not going to forgive him the next time I see him. Hmph! Why do I bother saying all this!?』
Ligurila clicks her tongue at the memory of the magician who is currently not here, seeing how the memory of him rekindled some of the dragon’s determination, and at the same time the memories of distant past awakened deep inside of her.
Suddenly, Ligurila remembers the taste of the superb magical power, as well as promises of a battle rematch.
「 Someday, I am definitely going to win. Because then……」
She shakes her head as if to chase those thoughts away, and bit on her lips as if trying to make some lingering pain go away.
「 Really, you are such a heartless man …」
Ligurila shakes her long, golden hair as if to get rid of some old sentiment, and then she returned to her room to prepare for an upcoming battle with her dragon friend.