Translator: Kell | Editor: Ryunakama
When we returned to Nordis, we learned that the princess had gone with Raul to Argentum’s lair to draw the dragon away from the city.
The princess didn’t know that her mentor was already dead. She returned to Nordis before we came across the information. She must have found Argentum’s corpse in his lair, and the shock gave Sanare the opening to steal her body.
“That is most likely what happened,” Zero concluded in a tired tone.
She was floating in the hot spring, the same one that the princess invited us to. According to Amnil, it had the special property of restoring one’s magical power.
Since the princess was now gone, Gouda said we were free to use it. Zero had been using Magic frequently ever since we drifted to Black Dragon Island, so it was a welcome offer.
As for me, I was standing there staring at the wall just like last time—or so I’d like to say, but I abandoned all reservations and joined Zero in the tub.
I was leaning wearily at the edge, while Zero was floating in the middle.
“So, is the princess dead?” I asked.
“No, she is not. She is probably just sleeping. If two souls residing in a single body fought each other, the more strong-willed one would win.”
“So, if we take care of Sanare…”
“We can save the princess. Sanare must have told Horse the same. On the other hand, killing the princess will not kill Sanare. She is no longer human. Besides, I made a promise. Argentum entrusted her to me and I accepted. I am a witch, and witches do not break contracts.”
So Zero let her go.
“If you’re curious, come after me, was it? She’s really playing you. So, what’s the plan? Keep heading to Moonsbow Forest? Or are we going to follow that woman and retrieve the copies?”
“Let me think.” Holding her breath, Zero let her body sink into the water. After an uncomfortably long time, she quickly rose back up. “Honestly, I have no idea.”
“You took your time, and that’s your answer?”
Cackling, Zero stood up. I caught a glimpse of her body from the corner of my eye. Her curves were as perfect as always—extraordinary, like something out a devil’s painting.
“But our route is still the same. I am familiar with the princess’s magical power, and I sense it at the southern port we are currently heading to—Lutra. It is as if she is inviting us.”
I leapt to my feet. “An ambush right after declaring war?! She’s really making a fool out of us, huh?”
“I suppose. If she keeps on making a fool of me, it would tarnish the name of the Murky Darkness. But first we need to get off this island. The priest should have the ship ready by now. Let us go. To the Dragon Slayer King.”
The Dragon Slayer King—that was Gouda’s new title as the head of the Magic Corps. The previous king had already passed, and the princess who was scheduled to be crowned disappeared. With no other blood relatives, Gouda, as the king of the allied kingdom, would inevitably become king. He would become ruler of a country that killed a dragon, accepted Magic, and was destined to be destroyed by the Church.
“I’m not sure if the dragon’s dead, or it was just born…” I muttered with a frown as I studied the silver-colored lizard clinging to Gouda’s shoulders.
As big as a human baby, it had wings on its back and tiny horns on its head. The fact that it emerged from the underground lake where the dragon fell suggested that it was the creature’s child.
As soon as it appeared, it found Gouda and rushed straight at him. It had stuck to the captain since then, never letting go.
I wondered if that dragon had conceived a child, but considering that we never found the dragon’s corpse, I could only assume that the black dragon had shrunk.
“I have heard of legends that dragons are immortal, and that they sometimes serve those whose strength they recognize. I never expected to see it with my own eyes, though.”
Zero poked the little dragon several times. It opened its small mouth wide and threatened her. When Gouda made it close its mouth, it quieted down, purring. It even seemed as if it thought the captain was its parent.
“It thinks he’s protecting me,” the Captain said. “I bumped my foot on a shelf earlier, and it hissed at the shelf.”
“It sounds dependable,” Zero said. “I am a little jealous. Ah, I regret not finishing the dragon myself. It would have served me instead.”
“Oh, give me a break,” I cut in, frowning. “A witch alone is trouble enough. Traveling with a baby dragon will just make it worse. We would have to disguise ourselves as traveling entertainers.”
“That sounds like fun.”
“No, it’s not!” I breathed a deep sigh.
Nothing made any sense. Even the priest had never seen anything like this before, as he seemed to be in complete loss. He was so troubled that he lost the will to judge us on the spot and went to call a ship off the coast without saying a word.
Gouda professed to be a devout believer of the Church, but killed a dragon to save the priest. Then the dragon itself turned to like Gouda. The Magic Corps also risked their lives for the people. The priest’s mind should be in a state of chaos right now, the Church’s teachings and definition of justice all a jumbled mess.
Honestly, I felt sorry for him, to the point that I thought it would be better to just kill him.
“Lord Gouda!” A young man’s voice echoed in the crowded royal castle square.
Guy, a young Mage, was running down the grand staircase leading to the castle. He immediately rushed to Gouda.
“Ship!” he said.
“Yes! I don’t know why, but there are four big ones!”
Zero and I exchanged glances. I had an idea why.
“It must be the governor of Ideaverna,” Zero said.
“Probably,” I replied.
And sure enough, three of the four ships were arranged by the governor of Ideaverna. When he learned that the ship we were on had gone missing near Black Dragon Island, he immediately organized a search.
The search party couldn’t get close to the island, but when the priest told them that there was no danger, they set course here. The other ship was the one that the priest came on.
The priest didn’t have to return, since we had the governor’s ships anyway. Then again, we needed to transport the citizens of the island, so more ships was better.
Overall things went smoothly, but not without problems. I had no idea how this would turn out, but Gouda and his men were major criminals who killed a dragon with Magic. No ship could take them on board, and even if they could, they would have nowhere to go without the support of the Church. Gouda and the Magic Corps were inevitably forced to remain on the island.
No one would want to stay at a place fated to get burned down by the Knights Templar—or so I thought, but I was completely wrong.
Aside from the sailors who washed ashore with us, and merchants who were originally from outside the island but couldn’t leave, only a few people boarded the ship—devoted believers of the Church who despised Magic and the people who killed the island’s priest. However, a few people out of a thousand was still an unusual number.
“We would’ve boarded if all of us left,” said one guy. “But we can’t leave if the king and the Magic Corps are staying behind.”
“We can’t use Magic, but we can’t imagine a life without it,” said another. “The dragon still hasn’t abandoned this place. Not to sound like the princess, but I have a feeling that staying here is the best option.”
Even one of the sailors decided to stay. For one reason—Magic. He had the aptitude for it. Apparently there was a certain fascination to the technique that they couldn’t shake off even when they knew the Church would kill them for it.
The priest tried his best to persuade the people to board the ships, but none would listen to him.
The next morning, the ships were ready to set sail. Zero and I were able to leave the island without delay.
Gouda and the Magic Corps saw us off at the port. Exposing the dragon to the public seemed unwise, so the captain locked it up in his room.
“You’re a mess,” I said.
“It wouldn’t let go, okay?!” Gouda yelled. The baby dragon’s claws had made a mess of his face and clothes. “The future looks grim. There’s no way I can raise a dragon. The princess is also gone. I’m just really worried, you know? But I can’t ask you guys to stay either.” He heaved a sigh.
Zero tapped his chest with a fist. “Be strong, Dragon Slayer King. You will make a fine ruler. You can be thoughtless, though.”
Frowning a little, Gouda shifted uncomfortably. Then as if remembering something, he dug into his pocket and produced a sheet of parchment.
“I almost forgot. Here. We finally found it yesterday.”
“It’s the Witch’s Letter!”
I had completely forgotten about it. I immediately unfolded the letter to find it filled with new contents written by Albus. She must have been waiting for a reply for a while now. Imagining Albus yelling with her ear-piercing voice made my ears and tail drop.
“We owe you a lot,” Gouda said. “I wish I could give you something.”
“I acted without expecting anything in return,” Zero said. “You and this island simply happened to be in our route.”
“We’re setting sail!” the sailors yelled from onboard the ship.
Gouda and I gave each other one last tap on the shoulder.
“I suggest you put on some perfume, Beastfallen.”
“And I suggest some ointment for your forehead, Mr. Frowny Face.”
Zero turned around, cloak flaring. “If you feel like it, you may write to me about the dragon’s growth,” she said. “If you send a letter to the governor of Ideaverna, it will reach me eventually.” She then boarded the ship without looking back.
“What the hell are you doing here?”
The priest was waiting for us on the deck, standing still, hands on the staff in front of him.
“This ain’t the ship you were on!”
“I paid the full fare, giving me permission to board this ship. You have no reason to meddle in my affairs.”
“Unfortunately, I’m a Beastfallen, and as you know, I’m escorting a witch. I think I have every reason to complain about you being here.”
“Stop it, Mercenary,” Zero said. “That is why the priest is here.” She looked at the priest. “Isn’t that right?”
The priest no longer smiled back at Zero. “I have decided that from now on, in the name of Dea Ignis, you will be under my supervision. Magic is a powerful force that could slay even a dragon, and it could no longer be overlooked. If you are willing to disclose any information about Magic and be of use to the Church, I will defer your execution to some extent.”