Translator: Kurehashi Aiko
CHAPTER 19: Dragon-san’s Friend Is …
Time continues passing, even after that, every evening I would go back into the wilderness to wait for Nectar’s return.
Of course, I never stopped monitoring for the scale’s signal through the leylines, hoping to find Nectar’s magic signature somewhere out there.
Still, I was unable to leave the wilderness and search for him myself as long as the re-adjusting procedure took place, and since it was already taking several weeks leaving even for a day or two would not be the best idea. If Nectar was to show up one day, without me fixing this area, without any kind of a landmark or leyline traces, he would surely get lost.
However, since nothing bad or suspicious was happening over time, just sitting around and waiting without doing anything was becoming unbearable.
In order to forget about my anxiety, I decided to perfectly synchronize myself with the leyline, which sped up the restoration process tremendously, so once I was done I decided to leave the wilderness.
I knew that it was pointless of me to go and look for clues just like that, but even so, even if it turned out that Nectar was in fact dead, I at least wanted to find the place where he died.
Preparing myself for the search, first of all I decided to go back to the country from which Nectar board the ship. I follow that ship to its destination and upon arriving, I started to feel traces of magical energy.
Is that Ligurila?
But I only got her to help me deal with my stress issues nearly a year ago.
And besides, she said that since it’s been so rough to deal with me, she would be taking a kind of a regeneration treatment for a while. So it must have been something else.
Or maybe it was some other demon?
While I was thinking that, suddenly the strange magical circle appeared right in front of me.
Next, there was a loud screeching sound in the air, and the air itself started to look as if there were electrical currents running through it.
And then, there was that magical wave that I’ve been feeling until just now.
「*Cough*, *cough*, I knew it, long distance travel is still tough for me…… Ah, Lava! Long time no see!」
Long, braided hair that were linen-colored at the base of his head, and transitioned into a light rouge-color the further they got.
Sky-blue eyes that seemed like they wanted to touch the clouds, still the very same like on the day we first met.
Right there stood Nectar, with a look of utmost happiness on his face, that would only be described with one word: elegant.
Driven by impulse I instantly jumped at him, tackled him to the ground and transformed into my humanoid form.
Nectar’s face instantly changed from somewhat tired to flustered, as he started to wave his hands.
「It took some time, but I finally came to see you, just like I promised!」
「Uh, about that …」
I was lonely, so very lonely, why didn’t you even tried to contact me!?
Suddenly, a whole myriad of emotions started to flow through me, all the emotions that accumulated during our separation.
Anger, joy, sadness, confusion, all of those emotions were coursing through my body, desperately looking for a way out, causing me to move my arms and legs about in unbearable frustration.
「But still, I had to try the spell’s formula in 23 different languages before it started to work, and it needed much more power than you could expect. It seems that there is still some kind of a trick to make it work properly…… Next, let’s try to develop a spell that would let control the magic power supply more easily.」
In spite of that, Nectar started to talk about the results of his research as if he was right in front of his research team and he was pouring all his passion in that speech, which made me quickly lose my temper.
「You, are going to tell me where have you been RIGHT. NOW. Nectar, you jerk––––––!!!!!!」
My uppercut send Nectar flying into the air, and even after he came crashing down, it took him a while to get up once again.
「I’m so, so sorry, Lava! I really am!」
「See if I care~!」
Before Nectar got up, I reverted back into my dragon form, and as he got back on his feet I turned my back at him, so as he was apologizing to me over and over again he could only see my tail.
Every time I would slam my tail to the ground, I could hear his panicked voice from behind of me, but serves you right! I am really angry right now!
「Do you have any idea how worried I was!? I couldn’t get in touch with you for nearly 10 years. I thought you might be dead!」
「You were worried about me?」
「You sound awfully happy, are you reflecting properly on your action? I don’t think so!」
「I’m, I’m sorry.」
「We haven’t seen each other in years, and the first thing you do after we meet again is talking about how to improve your magic circles –––––– It’s as if I was the only one who was feeling lonely during that time!」
「Certainly, for me it was only 10 years, but those years without you were so unbearably long! I didn’t feel alive during that time! I don’t want to feel that way ever again!」
I stopped my ranting for a short while, just enough to catch my breath. During that time, I heard Nectar move.
「I am really sorry, Lava.」
His apology sounded different from his previous ones, so I turned my head only to see that Nectar was still lowering his head in apology, which made me feel a little bit guilty about all of this.
「………… Why didn’t you contact me?」
「I thought it was something that I should do alone. I thought that if I contacted you even once I would lose to loneliness and my commitment would waver. For the sake of my beliefs, I refrained from contacting you. But it was my own selfishness that made you feel so lonely.」
Apologizing again, Nectar took out a small box from his pocket, one with letters in ancient language carved into it by hand. I would probably be able to measure it’s full magical power only after opening it, but even without that I knew it contained a powerful magic Artifact.
For the time being, I managed to confirm that the box was firmly sealed, with no cracks or openings in its structure. I let out a sigh.
「I don’t want to discuss your behavior any longer. Can you promise me that you won’t do something like that ever again?」
「I promise. Shall I swear a magical oath to you about that?」
「That won’t be necessary.」
「Kyle is sure to yell at you with no end later. Better prepare yourself.」
I changed into my human form, approached Nectar who happened to raise his head, and began to pat around his whole body.
Ignoring the embarrassed Nectar, I continue to pat all over his body, looking for injuries of any kind, only to find out that there were none.
However, his body seemed to be somehow different than before.
Nectar seemed a bit perplexed and embarrassed when I sat right next to him, leaning upon his shoulder and gently grasping his hand in my own.
I knew it, Nectar’s hands were so warm.
「Tell me where have you been to, and what were you doing there.」
「I spent the first year on travelling to see the Great Plant Spirit, so that he could teach me. Once I got there, I have been training and studying under the Great Plant Spirit up until now. Lately I have seem to reach a certain milestone in my training, so I wanted to see if I would be able to teleport myself to you, Lava. However, I do not have much free time, and so I will have to go back to my teacher again.」
That’s right, if Nectar was together with Gramps in his Sanctuary all this time, the magical power of that place would conceal both his presence and my scale.
It was enough to convince me, but there was something else that was still bothering me……
「How come you are able to use Transportation magic? Also, both the quality and quantity of your magic have changed. Don’t tell me……」
Not that it was bothering me, but Transportation magic was something that I have never taught Nectar.
Travelling through space was something that humans should not use. First of all, it is a magic that uses concepts way beyond human comprehension. But as I have already seen, there were some people who would totally disregard that fact.
But still, somehow, Nectar’s magical power managed to increase.
When we first met, his magical power was already on such level that it could very well be compared to that of a Lesser Spirit, but right now it was on the level of the Greater Spirit.
His magical power was already over the limits manageable to humans to attain.
Nectar confirmed my horrible worries with an answer accompanied by his usual gentle expression.
「I have seen the abyss of time, the very foundation of this world. I now respect you even more, Lava, who lives on such a plain of existence. Sometimes it was really dangerous, to the point where my body even got semi-spiritualized a few times, but I somehow managed to observe it. It’s all thanks to your teachings.」
He tried to laugh it off as if it was nothing, but it must have been quite the burden on his body.
Even I was not able to take in all of the information that was poured into me when I was reincarnated there at once, and if I did it would probably make me go mad.
I could definitely see that it influenced his body, for his magical power was slightly darker than before.
And maybe it was only my imagination, but Nectar’s body seemed to be thinner than the last time I saw him.
「That is exactly why I didn’t wanted to teach you this! Don’t you understand? It is something with no end, and once it seeps into you, it won’t let you go until you die! It’s like a horrible curse!」
There’s no way human body can handle that amount of magic.
However, death was only the best case scenario here. The process could very well permanently break the balance of one’s spirit, turn one into an empty shell devoid of soul, or even pollute the body with dark magical power and turn someone into a monster.
It was technically possible for a human to master it, but only if you were as strong of a magician as Nectar was. And even that it was not a certain matter.
Even if you managed to succeed, there may come a day when you will regret it.
I was able to use that magic even in my human form, but it was only because my original form and mind was that of a Dragon.
It would be beyond cruel to die just like that and leave a huge void in the hearts of those who cared about you.
So even if he knew all that, why would he risk it all?
「Why were you trying to cross such a dangerous bridge in the first place? Was it because you want to pursue the truth about magic this badly?」
「I wanted to see the world that you’re seeing, Lava. Then I thought I’d be able to understand you better, the way of your life and your world.」
Not being able to understand, I blinked a few times.
「As for the abyss of time, I learned that when you went to see the Great Plant Spirit. At first I was taken aback by the dangers it was posing, but it also filled me with motivation to overcome them. I may be necessary some day. But still, I was not able to do it. I was hesitating, but then I remembered that you said that you’d still be my friend even if I was a man or a demon, as long as I would remain myself. That’s when I made up my mind.」
「Isn’t that good, then? I am really glad that you are my friend.」
「No, it was not good.」
Nectar shook his head firmly. There was an unexpected strength that I could see in his eyes.
「Lava, you said that I am your important friend. It made me happy that you said that. That’s what probably being a friend is all about. Even though my feelings gradually began to change, I was still stupidly believing that this relationship would last until the day I die.
But then, during that time at the festival, when we were walking around together as man and a woman, I was shocked. Although you understood perfectly that all living creatures have to die someday, I was not trying to understand your reasons for taking interest in the living creatures or your circumstances. I noticed my own amenity on that day.」
Even though I was once a human being as well.
Nectar kept on feeling indignant at himself.
「I am a mortal creature. It is in my very nature to wither and die someday, and return to earth. But you are a dragon, a creature who’s not bound by shackles of mortality. This means that eventually you are going to outlive me. I was supposed to know the pain and sadness of parting with someone, but even so I was trying to act as if being lonely didn’t affect me in the slightest.
But being with you is something else, something that can’t be simply put to words. When I noticed that contrast, I was at a loss, and I didn’t know how should I handle these feelings of mine. It is probably better for me to take a wife of my own and have children with her, just like you said. But I was also afraid that if I moved on, it would destroy the relationship I was having with you. And so I ended up relying on the Great Plant Spirit to teach me advanced magic. My feeling for you are not going to change, no matter what. So please, let me swear an oath to you once more.」
Nectar looked at me sincerely, and politely took my hand after bowing down to me.
As soon as he did that, his hair began to dance and sway in the air, led by the currents of magical power.
「I, student of the Great Plant Spirit, Nectar Prominent. To you, my beautiful Black Flame Dragon, Lavaeneseram (born from the Lava) Nocturnus (Incarnation of the Night), I pledge my body, my soul, my magic power, and my eternal, undying love.」
I was initially surprised that Nectar managed to say my full name, and before I could even realize what was happening, a magic circle activated beneath our feet, and next thing I knew I was looking at the starry sky with my eyes open wide.
Those words were different from the ones he pledged to me on the day when we first met.
「What, are you, saying?」
「This pledge is the proof of my preparedness. Since I converted my very being into that of a half-spirit, I think that we can cross out the biggest concern for now, which is the difference in our lifespans. I also know that you like children, so I would very much like to have one with you, but regrettably, this is probably the only barrier I am unable to overcome. Still, I will not let you feel lonely.」
At first I suspected that Nectar might have gone insane, suddenly connecting his mind to mine. I was upset that he did that without asking, and I was forced to break my train of thought, the connection between us under the torrents of his passionate feelings, so very different from a simple friendship.
Still, even though it was a rather serious infringement of privacy, Nectar laughed gently and softly.
「You said that there may be Times when you’ll have to wander around the world for a long time, and that it would be great if I could accompany you in your journeys. And since I have all the time in the world now, I can ask you this and wait for your reply –––––– Lava, will you please consider the future where I can be with you?」
He pleaded while gracing my hand with kisses, and soon I was feeling hot all over my body, but it was not because of warmth on my fingertips.
I also realized that I don’t dislike it in the slightest.
What is this feeling that I feel right now?
I pretended not to notice them. Those feelings that I wanted you to stay by my side, even if you weren’t to become my lover.
I kept lying to myself. That I was fine with you being just my friend, and nothing more.
I knew it, but it hurt so much. Nectar was special to me.
It cannot be anyone else but Nectar.
However, I hesitated in accepting his feelings, and broke my hand free from his grasp while getting up.
Only after I reverted back into my dragon form and took a few steps away so that I wouldn’t have to look at the depressed Nectar, I managed to appease my shaken heart.
「…… Nectar, our relationship will never be the same as before.」
「I know. And I’m sorry. I can only do something like this.」
「If you understand, then why are you acting like that? I am a dragon known to humans as Black Flame Dragon or Chaos Dragon that does nothing but destroys and terrorizes. I am not a woman, a man, or any living thing at that.」
「Have you already forgotten? You were the first one I met, dragon Lava. At that time, you told me that I could do anything and be anyone I want. Then you can do just that as well. Lava is Lava, and nothing is ever going to change that fact.」
I brought my big face closer to his and bare my fangs, but he looked so fascinated by me that I felt sick.
…… Yeah, I totally forgot that you are someone who would sooner satisfy his own curiosity rather than care for his life, even when faced with a possibility of being eaten alive by the angry dragon!
「…… You do know that there are some words that must be spoken first before making a promise like that, right?」
Nektar’s cheeks turned bright red as I demanded him to say it clearly.
「I love you. Always have, and always will.」
Seeing his gentle smile I felt as if each and every one of my scales began to radiate heat.
………… I must admit it, I am very happy.
If I don’t handle that situation well, this whole area might turn into one, big volcanic zone.
「Me too, Nectar.」
Nectar’s expression was blank, as he did not know how to react.
The magic circle of the oath began to spread.
As he was now, Nectar would surely be able to bring out the spirit of the covenant by himself.
Then he will inscribe the pledge’s words into his own chest.
Just like before.
I wonder if it is alright to just leave it at that.
No, that’s not good at all.
I interrupted the circle, and said the following words while infusing them with my magical power:
「I, Lavaeneseram (born from the Lava) Nocturnus (Incarnation of the Night), accept the pledge of Nectar Prominent. –––––– And I swear to love him for all eternity.」
The circle blinks, and two spheres emerge from our chests.
This time our souls are clearly visible, as if to reflect the strength of our convictions.
I did not care, since it was rather pleasing sensation.
Because that means that our oath have been acknowledged by the world itself as set in stone.
As I gazed at the spherical object returning to my chest, I realize how truly stunning this view really was.
「Hey, Nectar? Do you remember that you once promised to do one thing I tell you to do?」
「Of course, it was for that one time I did some damage to the leyline, right?」
「Well then, please stay by my side. Not as my friend, but my beloved companion.」
「Thanks to you, I got to know a whole lot of people. I have become friends with your comrades and with Ligurila. But still, you are special to me. You’re the only one that cannot be replaced. You are the only one for me.」
I gently press my nose against his forehead, to which his eyes widen in surprise.
「…… It’s going to be a long, long time, but please bear with me.」
「Yes, Lava. We are going to be together for a long, long time.」
The sight of Nectar who finally understood my feelings, his joy, his happiness, I am never going to forget this sight.
The warmth of Nectar’s body as he gently embraced my head was far warmer than anything in this world.
And I was crying my eyes out over the fact that something fruitful managed to come out of the fact that I died and got reincarnated in this world.
「By the way, Lava?」
「In this case, it would be possible to say that I’m the wife, right?」
I was surprised that Nectar managed to say something like that with a straight face, and it was the first time that I got to laugh so hard as a dragon.
Author Note: the next chapter is the final episode for this Arc.