Editor: Ghost Ape
When I reunited with Rēko again, I was fed vegetables to my heart’s content. Unlike the children it was a bit vexing, since she was offering the leaves one by one, but it was tasty nonetheless.
“How is the taste, Evil Dragon Lord?”
“Delicious. Thanks for going out of your way to get them for me, Rēko.”
“It’s my natural obligation as kin.”
Rēko was also satisfied, puffing out her chest a little. There was scant difference to the time when the children had been feeding me, but maybe it was about the visual composition of Rēko holding out the vegetables by herself. Her standards of what was safe and what was out were difficult to grasp.
“Rēvendia, an offering from me too.”
When I was eating with relish, Ariante called out to me. I turned back answering with “What’s up?”, and petrified.
What she was holding in her hand was definitely meat.
It was a well roasted, fat meat chop. Was it pork or beef―― No, in these circumstances it didn’t matter what the meat was.
“I asked for a little favour and came back with this top-quality meat. If it’s the Evil Dragon Lord Rēvendia the amount might be nothing more than one bite, but this town’s people would surely be delighted if you were to taste it.”
What is she saying? Didn’t I thoroughly explain how I’m a herbivore?
Ariante nodded her head slightly as if she was reading my inner thoughts, and let out her aim with her gaze.
‘No matter how I look at it, the image of you eating vegetables can’t be seen as acting like anything else but a herbivorous goat. Even if it’s a large piece of meat, eat it and show some dignity.’
‘You know that telling me to eat meat would be like if I told you to eat a rock?’
‘I’ll eat anything, even a stone, if you’ll eat that. Hurry up and eat, just try to think that the world will be ruined if you don’t. Besides, even herbivores living in the wild eat a little meat.’
‘In my youth, it wasn’t like I couldn’t eat it at all, but recently it’s really hopeless. Especially fat, I cannot do fat. My stomach will disagree with it right away.’
Incidentally, this was only my assumption of the conversation’s contents. Whether Ariante had the same imagined dialogue was exceedingly doubtful. Or rather, I think we had failed in our mutual understanding somewhere in the middle.
That was because she brought the meat right before my eyes with a vigorous expression, as though saying “You finally prepared yourself”. If we had shared the same conversation just now, she wouldn’t have resorted to such a violent act. As expected, there was a limit to using only eyes.
It couldn’t be helped.
“Want to split it in half? You also had it rough, protecting the town while I was away. Think of it as a reward.”
“How could I―― such a trivial matter, I haven’t put in any effort.”
“Don’t hold back and eat half.”
I was fervent. If I had to eat it, I wanted to at least reduce the amount.
“That’s right. Ariante, you went to the trouble of bringing it here, just looking would be dull. You can eat half of my share.”
I felt her kindness, since she gave up and cut up the meat.
“Ah! You’re here――! Lady Rēko――!”
Then with great timing came the water demon, or rather Lady Saintess, who as a demon respected and put Rēko far above herself. She was sulking in bed for some time, but it seemed she had regained her spirits.
“Ah, Lady Saintess. We’re right in the middle of having a meal, how about you have some of this?”
“Just the townspeople’s worship is enough for my stomach though?”
“Don’t say that. Once you eat the feast prepared by the people of this town, you’ll surely feel much better.”
“Hmm… Then I’ll have some!”
I casually handed over to her all that was left.
“Aaah, it was delicious. I guess meat isn’t bad once in a while.”
Finally I gave my impression, as if I ate a lot. It was a perfect response. When I wanted to ask everyone how it tasted――
“Ah, Lady Rēko. A demon got caught in the barrier again, couldn’t you exterminate him promptly?”
In the middle of eating meat, Lady Saintess hurled an abrupt remark.
“Yes, enemy! But with Lady Rēko’s skills, there’s no need to worry!”
“Evil Dragon Lord, what do you think?”
I had a hunch she wanted to tactfully use us. Well, after all her forte was defence, but she was quite hopeless when it came to attacking. It could be guessed from the fact she couldn’t even bring down someone like me. Having said that, I felt awkward sending Rēko to battle lightly.
“No, this time I’ll take care of it. I’d feel bad doing nothing and just eating at the festival for free.”
Whether or not it was because she had discerned my thoughts, Ariante stood up along with the clanking of her armour. We discreetly moved towards the town’s outskirts, so as not to put a damper on the festival which rarely ever happened. Maybe because they trusted the Saintess’ barrier, there were almost no guards.
What turned up near the wheat field were the weeds, thriving in the mud.
“Rēko, you might cut yourself walking barefoot. Want to ride on my back?”
“It’s not possible for me to get wounded from mere grass.”
“It’s fine, it’s fine. How about taking a nap after the meal? You’re still going to grow from now on, so you have to get plenty of sleep.”
“I see. I’ve to hurry and grow up to become stronger, right? Understood.”
As soon as Rēko had clawed her way up onto my back she started breathing slowly, soundly asleep. I noticed it recently, but when I tell her to sleep, this child really falls asleep immediately.
Once Ariante saw her sleeping face, she flashed a slight smile.
“Be sure to make her eat and sleep properly. Showing such power at that age, if she doesn’t have either of these things her body won’t last.”
“Ah, that’s why you came forward to fight in her place?”
Feeling grateful, I remembered my original aim of getting Rēko to sleep… and out of earshot.
“By the way, the thing just now with trying to make me eat meat, wasn’t it cruel? If I rashly did that and threw up, it’d just lower my dignity instead.”
“It’s okay. When humans get desperate, they can eat almost anything.”
“I’m not a human though.”
“You can talk so it’s pretty close.”
What I’m saying doesn’t get through to her at all. That’s exactly why the human warriors are a troublesome bunch. They tend to think that just by using guts all things will somehow work out.
“Ah guys, I see him―. That demon sitting right next to the barrier over there.”
The demon was huge, with a pair of wings and a silver coloured body.
Is that… I wondered. Isn’t that the dragon which came to assault the town that Rēko told me about? The pitiful one that got mistaken for Doradora (me), went down with one blow from Rēko and had been educated to never again attack human villages――
“You didn’t learn your lesson and came back?”
Ariante unsheathed her sword and started drawing near him, but his state was strange. The silver dragon didn’t assume a stance, he didn’t even emit any hostility.
And then, the moment he noticed our figures, he slowly said.
“My name is―― Doradora.”
What exactly had happened to him?