Dragon-san Becomes a Little Girl part 3
Seram Slaggart admitted that compared to other children, he was slightly different.
Most children didn’t have the ability to see spirits that emitted flary bright light. It was fun to play games with fancy lights and sounds with his father’s friend and his brother Chrome. However, Seram was more interested in playing sword fights which were not possible against spirits who did not have a physical form.
Apart from being able to see spirits, he could manipulate land using magic, make smooth yet hard rocks, and even make the soil soft and fluffy to help out with gardening which was his mother’s hobby.
However, there was nothing more useful and entertaining than playing water-splitting at the river.
「That is because the earth spirit has taken a liking to you.」
Is what his mother had told him back then, and he has believed every single one of her words. However, later on, he found out that he could perform these tricks because he possessed what is known to be a magic potential. So, he thought that all the other children who had magic potential would be able to do all the things he could.
After a while, Seram enrolled in a school where his father had insisted him to go, and that was when he found out that he wasn’t only slightly different but was “considerably” different.
Seram’s school had both children who possessed magic potential as well as those who didn’t.
At first, he was excited to have other people who he would be able to play magic related games with; not including Chrome and his father’s friend. However, he found out there were more students who didn’t have magic potential than those who did.
It wasn’t a very big school but you could count the number of students who had magic potential with your two hands.
Moreover, on the first day of the special class where only the children with high magic potential could attend, the teacher instructed the students to perform any form of magic. Seram who didn’t know what “normal” was made a cat he saw on the way to school using the sand in the garden. To this performance, the teacher was very surprised.
They said that they have never seen a child who possessed so much magic from this early on in their life.
The other students in the class could only perform simple magic like bending a metal stick or make a ball float. After using that much amount of magic, they would be too exhausted to use any magic for a while. Seram was very surprised to learn that this was normal.
He could not believe that other children attended school to learn how to control magic more efficiently.
So, they obviously couldn’t do something like manipulating magic by chanting a spell.
「Perhaps one day, you will grow up to be a mage as great as the respectable wise person! 」
The teacher complimented him with an excited tone. However, to Seram who just wanted to play pretend battles with the other children could not perceive the teacher’s statement as a compliment.
Like that, on the very first lesson of the special class, Seram was told that he is no longer required to attend the class anymore. So the next day he went to school feeling a little disappointed, not knowing that there was trouble waiting for him at school.
The story that Seram possessed enough magic to complete the special class in one lesson has spread around the school like a wildfire. Gaining some courage, he tried talking to some of his classmates but they seemed to look back at him with hate or fear and when he realised, everyone in the class was avoiding him.
However, he managed to befriend Relog who was in his special class. Yet with the other students, they only talked to him when they needed to.
Seram wondered why the other children were scared of him, then Relog told him the reason as if it wasn’t a big deal.
「That’s because they’ve never seen magic before. They just don’t know how to talk to someone who can do something that they can’t. Well, even from someone who can use magic, you’re at a whole different level Seram. Just give up on making more friends.」
According to Relog, normal children have never seen mage craft before. The children who just happened to see the performance on the first lesson of the special class were all very shocked.
From those words, Seram finally understood that mage craft is something unusual. But what hurt him the most is knowing that he had a very slim chance of getting along with the other children.
It didn’t help that Seram wasn’t the best at communicating either.
Often, he fell into silence not knowing what to say. So the adults who weren’t very close with him thought he was antisocial.
Even at school, he didn’t know how to start a conversation with his classmates so he didn’t interact with anyone at school with exception of Relog. Six months have gone by just like that.
Seram finished another day of school without talking to anyone. However, today he seemed excited as he hurriedly packed his bag up. Seeing this, Relog who was also packing his bag up asked Seram with a surprised expression.
「Seram, is something on today?」
「Today my dad’s friend is coming over and they’re staying for the night. So I want to get back home as early as I can.」
「Cool, by the way, your dad is a mage, right? Is his friend a mage as well?」
To Relog’s question, Seram stopped his hand which was about to swing his bag over his back.
The woman who had a strangely coloured hair of black with fiery red strands mixed into it have visited their place about every month for as long as Seram could remember.
Whenever she visits, she is always with Nectar who is his father’s friend and she plays with both Seram and his brother. However, he realised that he didn’t know anything about her except for her name.
「…..I don’t know, Nectar-niisan is a mage but I don’t know about Lava-neesan.」
「Come on, why didn’t you ask her?」
Seram tilted his head to Relog’s question.
「Why should I have asked her that?」
He didn’t understand why he needed to ask her something which wasn’t related to playing games with her.
Seeing that Seram looked puzzled and clueless, Relog sigh, then changed the question.
「You referred to her as an oneesan so she’s a female, right? Is she good looking?」
Hesitating at Relong’s interested yet excited tone, Seram replied after picturing the woman who he refers to as an elder sister.
「Um, she’s more cute, I think?」
「I see. Hey Seram, do you like her?」
This time, he really had no clue what his friend was talking about and asked a question back.
「What do you mean by I like her?」
「Are you kidding me!? I’m asking if you like her as in do you want to be her boyfriend!!」
「No way, I’m only ten years old! Lava-neesan doesn’t seem to have aged a lot since I’ve met her but still, I’m too young to be her boyfriend. Also, even though she’s not actually my elder sister, I still see her as my family. I’ve never even thought of liking her in that way.」
「Oh, I thought you liked older female.」
「Relog, although I don’t have the same common sense as everyone else, even I know I’m too young to fall in love. So please stop teasing me about it.」
「Seram, you don’t get it, do you? No one’s ever too young or old to fall in love! You’ll just feel it when you meet the right one. Do you have any idea how many kids are relieved to hear what you’ve just said?」
「What are you talking about?」
As Seram asked another question back, Relong placed his hand on Seram’s shoulder.
「Never mind. Welp, you better get home early to meet the lady of your dreams. I have a special class now. Even if I can’t become like the wise person, I do want to become a mage!」
「….. I see, see you tomorrow.」
As Relong walked off to another classroom, Seram looked at his friend’s back enviously as he mounted his bag on his back.
「Hey “Mage Craft Genius” you’re heading back home early as usual! 」
Seram turned around in disgust as he heard someone call out his spiteful nickname as he was heading for the school’s entrance hall.
The person who called out was his classmate, Bernie.
He was one of the many students who didn’t possess magic potential. He was very tall for his age and talked in a harsh tone. The girls tend to be scared of him but most boys around his age have taken a liking to him.
On the morning of that special class incident, Seram has talked to Bernie as they were sitting next to each other. However, Bernie just glared back at him with hatred. Since then, Bernie has continued to pick on Seram.
Every time Bernie picks on him, Seram doesn’t know what would be an appropriate response. So Seram has started to think that at least Bernie comes up to him to have a chat.
「I need to be somewhere today.」
「Ha, yeah I heard! Was it like your lady of dreams or something like that? But she’s an old lady who’s you’re dad’s friend right? Don’t you think it’s stupid to rush back home just because of that?」
He sure is a good listener, is what Seram thought as he took caution of his surroundings.
「Lava-neesan isn’t an old lady, she’s a lady.」
「Whatever, she’s over 20 years old, right? From us, she’s an old lady. There’s no need for you to entertain a boring old lady like her. Entertain me instead.」
Usually, Seram would have just ignored whatever words came out of Bernie’ mouth. However, he couldn’t stand anyone insulting his Lava-neesan.
「Lava-neesan isn’t boring. She always teaches me magic and you shouldn’t judge her like that.」
When he finished saying his sentence, he thought he might have said a little too much. Looking up, he saw that Bernie’s face was bright red and he yelled back at Seram.
「Stop acting like you’re better than all of us just because you can use magic!!」
Seram’s face turned pale.
Bernie didn’t say anything else but while Seram was frozen on the spot, Bernie’s friends appeared from behind.
「Bernie, let’s go and play. Who cares about that guy anyway.」
「Yeah, we even managed to get a ball.」
「He never speaks, freaking creep.」
Seram felt his chest tighten as the other boys glanced over at him with hatred.
It hurt him to know that the others hated him.
Holding back the feelings which rose from the pit of his stomach, Seram turned his back towards Bernie.
「Well, I’m heading back home now.」
「H, hey yo, you…..!」
Seram left the school grounds while listening to Bernie’s voice which was coming from behind him.
As Seram blankly walked back home, he realised he was already near the sword training school which his brother went to. As he was walking, he reminisced a conversation he had with Chrome.
「Chrome, you sure are something. How can you move around that fast?」
「Well, I do run every morning. ….. roof to roof.」
「Roof to roof? Are you serious? Aren’t you causing a problem around the neighbourhood!?」
「Oh, that’s not a problem. When I land, I make my feet puff down on the roof so it doesn’t make any noise. Including that, it’s my training.」
「Puff down…. as usual, I don’t understand your explanation on how you control magic.」
Seram’s brother has just finished his training and was chatting cheerfully with his friends as they were walking out of the building.
「Seram, is that you?」
Chrome called out to Seram in a laid back tone. His hair was a lighter shade of brown than Seram’s and his gentle and sensitive nature camouflaged the fact that he was obsessed with sword fights. Never in his life had he missed an opportunity for training.
Most people say he’s too laid back when he doesn’t have a sword in his hand. However, he never failed to read Seram’s expression which not many people could do.
「Oh, so this is Chrome’s little brother. I heard that he possesses enough magic to become the next “wise person”. That’s impressive.」
Seram’s expression stiffened as one of Chrome’s friend glanced down at him with a fascinated expression.
He knew they didn’t mean it in a bad way. Yet he couldn’t bear that fascinated glance from other people.
「Is everything okay?」
As expected, Chrome noticed the change in Seram’s expression but…
「Sorry, brother, I’m trying to get back home early.」
「Hey, Seram wait!!」
Seram concentrated his magic to his feet and ran off at the speed of light.
Seram slowed down when he couldn’t see his brother anymore.
Since he chose the paths which were easier to run through, he ended up in a part of the town which he didn’t recognise but that didn’t bother him.
Seram always had a feeling that maybe people around him didn’t think very well of him.
However, now that he had actually heard it, the words which the boys had said today stabbed right into his heart.
The excited feeling of getting back home was now taken over by the uncomfortable feeling which was swirling around at the pit of his stomach.
Right now, he just wanted to be away from people, a quiet place where he could calm himself down.
Then, he saw a disgusting sight.
「Hello, little girl, what’s the matter? Why don’t you tell an old man your problem?」
「I’m looking for someone. I’m pretty sure they’re somewhere around here…」
「I see, I see, I’ll help you find that person.」
「Yes, oh I also have a very tasty sweet. I’ll give it to you.」
「Wow, it’s the sweets from Madeleine’s shop! Thank you, mister.」
As the little girl saw the obviously shady middle-aged-man with overgrown beard pull out the sweets, her face lit up so brightly it was obvious even with her poke bonnet¹ covering her face.
The unshaved old man smiled back at the girl but Seram who sensed something wrong in the old man’s smile was already taking action before he could think.
「Well then, little girl, take your time eating the sweets and let’s head over that way.」
「Sure! I was thinking of going that way, too.」
As the girl nodded innocently, the middle-aged man pulled her thin arm towards a dark alleyway while keeping his smile plastered on his face. However, Seram’s voice broke in.
「Hey, old man. Where are you taking that girl?」
「Wha….. what are you talking about? She seemed to be lost so I was going to take her to where her parents are.」
「In that case, I’ll change my question. Do you know that kidnapping is a crime, you perv.」
The face of the middle-aged man whose intention was easily revealed by Seram’s bluffing turned dark red and his smile twisted into an ugly, petty expression.
However, Seram didn’t bluff the man just to expose his intentions.
Just as the man raised his fist, Seram squatted down and placed his hand on the bare soil which the man stood upon.
「Swampy Mud Trap.」
Before Seram cut in, he had gathered the earth spirits so when he chanted in the ancient language, the soil which the man was standing on turned into the mud along with the reaction light emitted from the spell.
This wasn’t any ordinary mud. It’s a type of mud which can sink a person up to their waist and it has the stickiness of super glue.
Once they’re stuck, there is no escape until the spell wears out.
「You, we’re running!」
While the man was unable to move, Seram grabbed the girl’s arm who was looking up at him with a surprised look and he started running at a full speed.
Seram and the girl managed to escape the man. However, Seram whose adrenaline was starting to run out wasn’t sure what to do next.
The things which Bernie and the other boys had said to him were stuck at the back of his mind.
「Stop acting like you’re better than all of us just because you can use magic!!」
Seram has used magic in front of that girl.
He was too scared to look behind him. He was scared that the girl might be looking up at him with the same disgusted expression that the other boys had.
「We can’t see the old man anymore!!」
The two of them were now standing at the edge of a lively field filled with people and bordered by buildings. Seram came to a stop as he heard the girl’s voice. He turned around, still keeping his grip on the girl’s arm.
Her age was probably about two or three years younger than him.
The girl with her hair tucked into a poke bonnet with an accessory on, wore an orange dress which had a gathering² just under her chest. She had adorable, lovable features of chubby cheeks and big round eyes.
Seram swallowed down his spit nervously, still thinking that the girl was scared of him. However, the girl just looked back at him awkwardly.
After staring at each other for a moment, Seram, although feeling a little scared spoke up.
「You’re fine with it?」
「Fine with what?」
「I mean, you saw me use magic. Aren’t you scared?」
「What, am I supposed to be scared!?」
The girl who was surprised to hear his question widened her eyes and thought about the question with her arms crossed over her chest.
「I think it would be more normal to be scared of that old man. He was a dangerous person after all.」
Now Seram widened his eyes with surprise after hearing what the girl has said. Then, the words which his mother and Lava-neesan have often say crossed his mind, 「always protect girls」.
「If you knew it was dangerous, why did you follow after someone who was obviously up to no good! Even kids your age would know that you shouldn’t talk to strangers!」
「….. well, since he was so obviously shady, I thought I’ll teach him a lesson.」
Because the girl mumbled her words, Seram couldn’t really hear what she said.
「Sorry, I couldn’t really hear you just then.」
「Oh, it’s nothing. Even if something happened, these guys would have saved me so it’s fine.」
The girl opened up her fist and revealed something which a normal person wouldn’t have a clue what they were.
However, Seram knew exactly what they were. He looked at the sight admirably as the vivid light from various spirits surrounded the girl.
Seram who was liked by the earth spirits has seen a couple of spirits come by when he was using magic. However, this was his first time seeing so many different types of spirits gather around in one place.
「But, thank you for saving me.」
As the girl thanked him with a sweet smile, still surrounded by the spirits, Seram thought his heart skipped a beat.
He instinctively placed his fist over his heart, then he heard the sound of wind gushing through the air from behind him.
「Hey, Seram! I finally caught up to you.」
As he turned around, he saw Chrome who was still in his training gears running towards him.
His footsteps were oddly light and Seram could feel a large amount of magic concentrated at his brother’s feet. From this, Seram realised that Chrome was using the body power up spell which Seram was using just then.
「On the way here I saw an old man stuck in a Swampy Mud. That was you’re doing right? What happened?」
「Well, he was trying to kidnap this girl and we managed to run away from him, right?」
The girl nodded in response as Seram looked for agreement.
「Ye, yeah. That old man was a stranger to me!」
「I see, good job Seram. And you, you shouldn’t follow after an adult that you don’t know, okay?」
Chrome stiffened his usually soft expression as he tried to get his point across to the girl. The girl replied after straightening her back.
For a moment, Seram felt relieved as he saw the girl’s guilty face, thinking that all the problems have been solved for now. Then, he noticed something.
「Hey, why were you walking around by yourself in a place like that?」
「I was looking for someone but it’s okay now.」
「I see, are you okay to walk back home by yourself?」
「um, about that…..」
As the girl suddenly started to dart her eyes around, it was clear that she was lost.
「What should I do?」
Seram and Chrome looked at each other and thought about the situation.
「I guess they haven’t figured it out yet…..?」
The girl murmured to herself. However, the two boys were too concentrated on resolving the matter that they did not hear the single word which the girl has just said.
- 縁なし帽 (子ボンネット is added as an explanatory gloss by the author). ‘rimless cap’ or ‘child bonnet’. Rimless, as in not having a rim all the way around such as a Bowler, Fedora, Stetson, etc. has. ‘Child bonnet’, while currently used for a variety of bonnets, has illustrations of children wearing what had been called a poke bonnet in the 1800s; it has a bill projecting forwards and curving down on both sides to produce a half cylinder, whose purpose was to protect the face from the Sun’s rays. This would leave the face in shadow. Thus, while not having an encircling rim, it does have a means of shadowing the face.
- “Gathering” is “a term used in sewing where the part of the fabric is gathered, usually to form a frill like flow”. It’s similar to pleating, except done by running threads across the width of the fabric and then pulling the fabric together along those threads, which produces a narrowed section of cloth with the body flaring out from it; consider a drawstring bag, it’s that kind of thing.