Translator: Luk2048 Editor: Nefarian
“Please enjoy me as your meal, Evil Dragon Lord.”
“Even if you say it like that, it won’t work. I’m herbivorous.”
In an extensive stalactite cavern deep in the mountains, there was only one torch shedding light. Holding the flame above her head was a young maiden, about 10 years old, clothed in thin silk garment.
“You do not find me to your liking?”
“It’s not a matter of liking or disliking. I’m no good with meat. Neither fish. I like eating bamboo sprouts though.”
“Although I am unworthy, I pride myself in my flesh being very soft. Please savour me once.”
“No, no, no. Aren’t you weird? If I’ll eat you, naturally you’re going to die.”
“I have resolved myself from the start.”
“Okay… Why do you’ve such a resolve? I don’t think there’s any benefit in getting eaten by me.”
The kneeling maiden raised her head.
“I beg you; do not speak such words, Evil Dragon Lord. If a being of such magnificence as you would greedily devour me, it could only bring me satisfaction. However, for the exchange of my life, I implore you for assistance in defeating the Demon King. You are reigning now as an executive of the Demon King’s army, but you carry the reputation that your true power surpasses even him. Bearing my life, I would like to ask you to borrow your strength for humanity.”
“What? I’ve become an executive of the Demon King’s army?”
Even though I’ve only been eating plants for around 5000 years?
Well, I knew my body was big and when meeting animals or humans I clearly caused their trepidation, but it didn’t mean I possessed a terrifying power. If I had to say, I’ve had a timid nature and so far I’ve lived keeping distance from opponents I was no match for. If anything, only my power of insight in identifying someone’s strength might be acceptable.
“Please, lend us your strength. Whatever happens to this body of mine, I will not have any regrets.”
“Well, I understand your feelings. But I’m not much of a monstrous being. Although a dragon, I’m no different from an oversized lizard with longevity, you know? I’ve heard little, but the Demon King’s army is strong, right? Fighting them, I’d just quickly wind up dead. You are still young, so don’t treat yourself so poorly and go home. Your parents must be worried.”
“Because I do not have a single relative, there is no one to grieve me. Supposing I would return to the Yoshinba village, I know very well the future of a sacrifice that deserted her duty. At any rate, there is only death waiting for me, so I would like to become the Evil Dragon Lord’s nourishment.”
“I’ve been telling you I don’t eat meat, besides I’m not evil either. I’d have been much happier if you’d have given me a pot of sweet sap.”
“I understand. I will return after smearing my body with sap.”
“There’s really no need to smear your body with it… Or rather, even if you bring me sap I can’t help you out with suppressing the Demon King.”
While stirring greatly inside the cave, I stretched my neck and piled up the bamboo sprouts before the maiden.
“Look. This is my favourite meal. I’ve no interest in eating you.”
“So you are saying you will not eat this body of mine?”
“Yeah, that’s what I’m saying. If they will get mad at you for returning like that, I don’t mind escorting you back. Anyway, I won’t do any fighting or-”
“In that case, instead of my body you would rather savour my soul, am I right?”
“Your train of thought is pretty mind blowing, you know that? I can’t even imagine how the soul could be eaten.”
At this point, I steadily watched the illuminated by a torch face of the maiden.
Probably because she was used as a sacrifice, from her cleansed white skin wafted a faint scent of incense. However, maybe as a result of having no relatives, her eyes were filled with vacant darkness.
I could see how strength was useless; since her presence has been emitting magic power, she probably had some slight attainments. I thought it was such a waste. Surely if she wouldn’t have been made a sacrifice and instead accumulated training, she could have become a sorceress. That said, most humans probably couldn’t feel this glimpse of magic power yet.
While I was looking, the maiden pulled out from her clothes a decorated with jewels dagger, but I didn’t sense any hostility. While I was relieved, thinking it looked more like an offering of some kind rather than a weapon, she suddenly pointed the dagger at her throat.
“I will now sever my life and offer you my soul. Please wait for a short while.”
“Wait! Wait a minute. You really don’t have to do this.”
“However, if I do not sever my life, I cannot offer you my soul.”
“I’ve said it many times already; I won’t eat such a thing. You’ll just trouble me with the disposal of your corpse.”
“Do not worry. If it is like that, I will dig a pit and die inside.”
“How’s it possible for you to progress the conversation solely on the premise of dying? It’s the first time I’m so baffled in my 5000 year long life.”
“It is because I have to carry my duty as a sacrifice, by all means necessary. It is the role bestowed upon me by the villagers. I have to be eaten.”
A great one came, I’m amazed. Naturally, I had no intention to eat her. Even so, if she killed herself here, it’d leave a bad aftertaste. After thinking it through, I said.
“Aah okay, I understand. I just ate it. When one becomes a high ranked dragon like me, one can even eat a soul of a living being. I just ate a small part of your soul and I’m satisfied. You can explain it like that to those village guys, so be at ease and quickly go back.”
“Really? You have eaten it?”
“Yes. You don’t have to worry. I only ate about two days of your lifespan. Your soul was extremely delicious, so just that much was enough.”
“You ate it… That means I have become a member of the Evil Dragon Lord’s household, right?”
I tilted my long neck. I didn’t really get the logical structure of her thoughts.
“Y-yes, you can say it like that. In any case, let’s send you back to the village. You might get hurt walking barefoot, so you can ride on my back.”
“How could I? To cause such trouble for the Evil Dragon Lord… Ah, I see. Since I have become your kin, we are one of body and soul. Considering my body is already Evil Dragon Lord’s possession, there is no need for concern, right?”
“That’s it, you understand it well.”
As soon as I laid down my body on the floor so she could climb easier, the maiden moved her body agilely and lightly landed on my back, sitting seiza-style.
“Well then, let us depart Evil Dragon Lord.”
“Where was the village again? Guide me appropriately.”
I left the cavern along with the thudding sounds of my feet, and went down the mountain trail to the human settlement. The beasts seeing me were divided between running away and prostrating, there were also some carnivorous animals trying to make an offering or leaving their prey.
Even though I wouldn’t eat it…
I think my steps might’ve sounded like earth tremors. The moment I saw the village entrance, I witnessed a large mass of men gathering, like a reception. Well, rather than a reception, in reality it was probably more of a vigilant readiness for combat with me, the evil dragon. At least that was how they called me.
I could see them secretly holding bows and arrows. If all of them shot at once, I probably wouldn’t die, but I would receive a serious injury. It was a bad idea to show how frightened I was, so I purposely arrived at the entrance arrogantly and brimming with an aura of confidence.
“Are you the ones who’ve delivered this sacrifice?”
An old man with white hair, looking like a village chief bowed his head reverently.
“T-That is so. Evil Dragon Lord, since you have not yet enjoyed your meal, is there anything lacking? If that is the case, we will immediately prepare a different sacrifice…”
“No need. I’ve already eaten her soul. It was the most delicious thing in the world. Since I want to enjoy the lingering aftertaste, be aware that my tongue won’t relish in vulgar tastes anymore.”
“I-I have understood clearly. In that case, will you lend us your assistance in subjugating the Demon King, is that what-”
My expression stiffened. I’m covered in scales, therefore humans couldn’t notice, but I was quite nervous.
“W-well, let’s think about this matter step by step, but at the very least I can promise that I won’t bring you harm.”
If I’d unskilfully suggested about bringing them harm, they could’ve just turned the tables and beat my ass. The villagers noisily exchanged glances for a while, but when they understood that at the very least the sacrifice brought some results, as if they were connected, the expressions of relief spread out.
At that moment, out of nowhere a stone came flying and hit me in the temple with a dull sound. In reality, it hurt quite a lot and I was on the verge of tears, but if I showed weakness here I’d noticeably become full of holes, so I endured firmly while playing a big-shot and faced a direction the stone came from.
“You monster, how could you’ve eaten Rēko! Eat this!”
There was a figure of a young lad, holding a wooden stick like a sword charging at me. His attire was first-class, with neatly arranged golden hair. He had to be from a good family among the village.
But more importantly, if I was to get hit with that stick I’d undoubtedly flinch. When that happened, I’d quickly become just like a swiss cheese – full of holes.
However, before I could’ve made my escape, one after another adults leapt upon the lad and pushed him on the ground.
“I-I am incredibly sorry, Evil Dragon Lord! We will behead this impudent brat at once, so…”
“It’s fine, really. You can stop brandishing your hatchet over his head like that. I’m not mad at all. Since being hit by such a small pebble felt like a soft breeze of wind.”
Actually, it did hurt quite a lot though.
“Incidentally young lad, is Rēko the name of this sacrifice?
When I inquired, the boy answered while being pushed down.
“Yes! You bastard, I’ll never forgive you! You ate her soul and made her into an empty shell, didn’t you?!”
“Not at all, I just took a little bite, lifespan of around two days. It’s not serious at all, so you don’t have to worry. Hey, the one called Rēko. You can get down and show him you’re fine.”
The sacrificial child hopped down from my back. And the baggage was finally gone.
“Now I must say good-bye. That child has also served her duty as a sacrifice, so don’t be too cold towards her. After I collect my thoughts, one day let’s speak again about the matter of suppressing the Demon King.”
While I’ve been speaking, in my head I was working out the details of moving my dwelling. Before the talks became substantial, I’d run and seclude myself in a separate place. I had no other way to deceive them.
When I glanced back after moving away from the village, I saw that the boy untangled himself from the adults grasp and rushed over to Rēko.
“Are you okay? Are you fine? Didn’t that monster hurt you?”
“Stop it, Raiotto.”
Rēko with eyes lacking any light put a finger to her lips.
“Not a monster, but Evil Dragon Lord. If you call him in such manner one more time, I’ll have no choice but to attack you.”
“I’m already Lord’s kin. If you ever disrespect him again, even if it’s you, I won’t show mercy.”
I couldn’t endure it and turned back. While hurriedly returning with my resounding steps, I made the villagers tremble.
“Wait a minute, erm, Rēko right? You really don’t have to pay so much attention to me.”
“We are one of body and soul. An affront towards the lord is an affront towards me. I cannot overlook it.”
I gazed at Rēko while pushing my power of insight to the limit. I could ascertain not only the general strength of beings, but even their special characteristics. Facial movement, heartbeat, breathing, eye movement. Taking everything into consideration, Rēko’s special characteristic was: “Her wrong assumptions are extremely severe”.
I screwed up. I thought so from the bottom of my heart. Because I’ve spoken weird things, the situation was starting to turn sour. Look, the lad was glaring at me with eyes full of hatred. I couldn’t handle humans like that. The girl was just voluntarily going crazy all on her own. Please let me off.
The lad showing blatant hostility was yet again restricted, and baring his teeth started screaming.
“It’s not only that monster! Father and grandfather too, how could you’ve brought such hardship to Rēko?! If you wanted a sacrifice, you should’ve used me!”
“Ridiculous! As if I’d use a future successor of mine as a sacrifice! What’s more, didn’t the Evil Dragon Lord also say he’s pleased with it? That girl was an ideal sacrifice, able to be exchanged for the highest price. Find me someone who wouldn’t use her.”
“What “ideal sacrifice” bullshit, you think I’ll tolerate such people?! A village where you’ve to sacrifice a single girl to protect it, it’d be better off destroyed!”
He was screaming loudly.
I feel bad, but it can’t be helped. Here I should just tuck the tail between my legs and run. Rēko too, when she lives for a while in the village her weird assumptions should go away.
After I said so, everyone altogether started prostrating themselves. By the way, when I showed my back to the villagers holding bows, my heart has been beating nervously like never before.
That was why when the village’s alarm bell resounded, I nearly jumped without thinking.
“What’s happening?!” The old chief yelled.
From the watchtower, where the alarm bell was located, a young man faced our direction and cried.
“It’s terrible! Monsters are…! A pack of Kuragari wolves is coming from the mountains! 30, 40… No, even more!”
Kuragari wolves. Always moving as a pack, these evil beasts prayed on human settlements. In addition to their huge numbers, their special power made them twice as troublesome.
Their shadows cast on the earth possessed will, known as the shadow wolves, creeping around, feeding on humans and dragging them off into the darkness. That is, 40 of them were accompanied by 40 shadow wolves. Essentially, there were twice as many, 80 opponents.
Let’s run, I thought. However I was slow, I wasn’t confident I could run all the way back to the cavern. Moreover, I could acutely feel the expectant gazes directed towards me from the rear.
“Evil Dragon Lord… No, Holy Dragon Lord! We beg you, please save us!”
Save us you say, what is it that you want me to do. I’m already quivering here.
“You bastard! You’ve eaten Rēko’s soul, now you want to run away?! Don’t fuck with me! Being scared of stupid wolves, evil dragon my ass! I’ll beat you to death!”
I see. It seems I’ll be beaten to death even if I run. I was peacefully eating grass till yesterday, what’s with this situation. No more please.
“Ee, chief of the village.” I finally resigned myself and faced the chief.
“Ah, Evil Dragon Lord.”
“I’ll try speaking with them, since I might be able to talk some sense into them.”
“Is that true?!”
It looked like I’ve had the bearing of an executive of the Demon King’s army. To such extent, that my appearance alone caused the forest beasts to shiver. Perhaps they’d run from my dignified aura alone… that’d be nice… or so I wishfully thought at least. Otherwise, today would be the last day of my 5000 year long life.
I faced the mountain trail. Kuragari wolves were in the middle of swarming through the sole open gate. The village chief left the gate open for negotiations, but honestly I’d have preferred it closed. I faced the pack of wolves, that were questioning the easy break-in opportunity, and took a single step forward.
“Y-You all, despite knowing who I am, you dare to act like this?”
I spoke to them, but the wolves were just sending me critical gazes while spilling drool, without a sign of response.
“I’m an executive of the Demon King’s army.” I bluffed, since I had nothing to lose either way.
The wolves, eyes blazing, were slowly but steadily nearing the village. I’m sorry villagers. It’s no good already. They aren’t listening at all.
“I see. Evil Dragon Lord, in short they have come after inferring our plan of rebellion against the Demon King, is that right?”
With a thump, a weight landed on my back. I recognized the voice. It was the sacrificial maiden Rēko.
“No, I think it might be a coincidence. Wait never mind that, it’s hopeless. No more, no more, no more, it’s my limit already.”
“I agree. I, your kin, am also at my limit.”
Rēko pulled out the jewelled dagger from her clothes.
“To direct killing intent towards the Evil Dragon Lord, to forgive the foolish existence of those beasts ― it is beyond my limit.”
While I was stunned, from Rēko’s body surged an enormous amount of magic power.
Before, there certainly was a trace of magic power. However, what I was feeling right now on my back, was a presence rivalling those so called archmages. This hasn’t happened more than a few times in my 5000 year old life. It seemed like the villagers too, despite not possessing any special power of insight, felt the energy Rēko was emitting.
It was more terrifying than the wolves, so horrifying that it was hard to stand straight. Has she unleashed all of her latent power just on the basis of her wrong assumptions?
“My body and soul were offerings to the Evil Dragon Lord, thus my body is that of a human no more. Filthy bastards like you are not fit to be the Evil Dragon Lord’s opponents. I will erase you instantly.”
Haa, she’s an amazing one, being in high spirits without any self-awareness.
Rēko, who performed a somersault and landed in front of me blocking the wolves, looked over her shoulder showing me a dangerous smile. Her eyes, which should have been black, became the same pale blue colour as mine.
Honestly, I drew back. She was scarier than the wolves.
“Come at me, beasts. I’ll finish you in an instant.”
Along with Rēko’s provocation, Kuragari wolves’ figures disappeared. No, instead of disappearing, my eyes just couldn’t follow them. When I thought about it, shimmering in mid-air were the wolves real bodies, and the ones flickering on the ground were probably the shadow wolves.
But when I noticed it, everything was already settled. Rēko, sweeping sideways her jewelled dagger launched an explosive magic power, turning the beasts into ashes and dust, not leaving a single trace. After a while, the only thing left behind was a slash chiselled on the ground, which looked like a giant claw.
“『Giant Claw of the Dragon King』- how is that for a glimpse of the Evil Dragon Lord’s strength?”
Though my claw could barely cut a tree in an hour…
While I was thoroughly spooked, Rēko crumpled down to her knees. The only one who ran over to her while panicking, was the aforementioned lad. The others (me included) couldn’t move even an inch.
“Hey! Rēko! Are you okay?”
“Hey monster! What the hell did you do to Rēko?! She wasn’t able to do this before!”
Although it was terrifying, she just became able to. If I could, I’d really like someone to share my thoughts with, like “Humans are scary, aren’t they?”.
The one who clapped his hands and alleviated the situation was the village chief.
“Evil Dragon Lord, no, Holy Dragon Lord, the seeds of enmity between you and the Demon King were sown here, isn’t that right? In that case, let us grandly celebrate this beginning of the war. Everyone, prepare the feast!”
When the loudly echoing cheerful command blew away the lingering terror, men started noisily running around preparing the banquet. While I was getting a malicious stare from the lad, “I want to return to my cave…” was the only thing I could think about.