Editor: Ghost Ape
Hearing the festival’s uproar from a distance was somewhat dull. Still, it wasn’t a big deal if the situation would be resolved in exchange for just a little boredom.
After Lady Saintess drew an impromptu waterway encircling the silver dragon, we were just continuously observing him while yawning mindlessly.
“Peaceful, isn’t it?”
“Yes. I made sure with my fist he won’t wake up the whole day.”
Peace was built on a noble sacrifice. I offered a silent prayer, wishing for the silver dragon’s peace.
“Ahh, I’m really relieved you’re here, Lady Rēko. No matter what frightening demon comes along, it’s no biggie. How about it? If that’s alright with you, would you like to live in this town?”
“Don’t spout rubbish. We’re in the middle of a journey to defeat the Demon King. We don’t have the leisure to spend our time carefree in such a backwater village.”
“Is that so―. That’s a shame.”
The Lady Saintess’ grateful request was flatly refused by Rēko. Well, even if she didn’t reject that, I would have. When it came to a long-term stay, I felt like sooner or later Lady Saintess would have once again touched Rēko’s “reverse scale”.
When that happened, I wouldn’t be able to take responsibility for the townspeople’s inevitable suffering.
After leisurely keeping an eye on him, as soon as Ariante returns I intended to leave it all to her and depart this town.
“Lady Saintess, how are the surroundings?”
“There’s absolutely no demon presence. However, the possibility of the town’s guards coming here may be a worry. Although it looks like everyone is still busy drinking.”
“Right, if they were to find a big demon like that lying around, the festival would be ruined.”
Then, Rēko made a karate chop motion and proposed one of her wonderful ideas.
“Before it happens, should I put all of those people to sleep? Just like this dragon.”
“That’s called putting the cart before the horse.”
A grand bonfire, serving as a hurriedly constructed altar for offering the town’s harvest as a sacrifice. The whole town painted vibrantly by the brocade clothes along with a long table laid out with an astounding feast. There, amidst such brilliant scenery, all the residents faint, falling flat on the ground.
Since the gap was too large, that scene coming to pass would invoke nothing but terror. I felt that if some passing travellers were to come by, they’d mistake it for a wicked ritual that had somehow gone terribly wrong, sucking out everyone’s souls.
“It should be fine. If there will be anyone coming here, I’ll stop them. Please look.”
Brimming with confidence, Lady Saintess puffed out her chest and enveloped her body with water. What appeared shortly after the water was blown away was the same figure of a child I had met first.
“Surprised, aren’t you? I was the little girl who showed you the way all along!”
“Waaa, I’m so surprised.”
“Somehow your reaction is weaker than I expected…? Well, whatever. If the guards draw near, I’ll say I’m lost or something. This way I’ll be able to lead them back to town.”
“Okay, I’m counting on you.”
Lady Saintess, happy she could be of use, turned her face to Rēko grinning widely.
“Say, Lady Rēko. I can change my shape freely like this. After all, water doesn’t have any settled form. I can change into anything you like, so do you have any requests―?”
Didn’t expect that. For some reason, Rēko showed an interested expression. I thought she’d brush her aside with a “You’re loud, shut up” at best, but did she also possess the innocence appropriate for her age?
Then Rēko turned to me abruptly.
“Evil Dragon Lord, I’d like to discuss something.”
“If you were to forgive the act of imitating your divine appearance, could this water demon copy your genuine form?”
What’s her aim, I wondered. Doesn’t she always see my figure, whether it’s small or big?
“I don’t mind, but for what reason?”
“To tell you the truth, I thought of it just now, when I saw the festival’s play. If the likes of that water demon have a play conveying their history, it’d be strange if there wasn’t a saga propagating the Evil Dragon Lord’s grand feats.”
“Okay, I’m starting to have a bad feeling about this.”
As a dreamy, enthralled smile blossomed on her face, Rēko continued.
“Therefore―― I am thinking of drilling into this water demon the Evil Dragon Lord’s whole 5000 years-long lifetime and turning her into an actress. You can rest easy, knowing I will guide her personally.”
I shook my head in a solemn manner. That was because I saw Lady Saintess turn into an undefined, mushy-like form from the excessive unrest she felt.
“You see, my lifetime isn’t something to be played out by mere strangers.”
“… As I thought, it’s not allowed. Could you at least consider having a small part re-enacted?”
“It’s fine, it’s fine. As long as it was properly conveyed to you, I’m satisfied.”
As a matter of fact, it had gotten conveyed to Rēko the least though.
“Hey, since we’re kind of free now, how about taking another nap? Our departure just might be in the middle of the night, you see.”
After I encouraged her to sleep, Rēko scrambled to her usual place on my back and once again easily fell asleep. Lady Saintess, who returned to her original adult form relieved, fixed her gaze on her.
“It’s strange, isn’t it? For some reason, Lady Rēko is awfully attached to you, a lizard.”
“There are some complicated circumstances in play. Also, don’t call me a lizard too much in Rēko’s vicinity. If by any chance she were to wake up, you’d wind up just like that dragon.”
I didn’t know whether Lady Saintess heard my warning or not, since she was just staring at Rēko’s sleeping face.
“At any rate, she really looks like a common human child, doesn’t she?”
She doesn’t look like one… it may be hard to believe, but she is one.
After she reinforced the swift horse’s legs even further with magic power the trip was as quick as could be. Ariante, who had returned to the town faster than she anticipated, decided to first stop by the dojo. Many treasures and tools she had collected as an adventurer were stashed inside. Among them, there just might be something useful. It was also a place where many soldiers were stationed, so she just needed to ask and they’d surely help her seek out practitioners with confidence in their abilities.
However, what Ariante saw when she opened the door leading to the dojo was, sprawled upon the wooden boards, the lifeless corpse of Raiotto.
Among the many surrounding the body, there was a guy boiling questionable liquid medicine, a fellow chanting dubious magic incantation and a chap barking out encouragement, things like “If you can dream it, you can achieve it!” Generally speaking, it was a gathering of various lifesavers’ types (trash).
It was likely they were the ones who drove him to death in the first place.
A suspicious looking practitioner with a face covered by a black hood shouted.
“Shit! Ariante came back! Hurry and hide it!”
“How the fuck are we going to hide it now!”
“It’s good, it’s all go―od. He’s only sleeping, I’m telling ya. It’s fine if we just insist that.”
“Just look, everyone. The medicine is surely going to work now! That thing before was just a small error!”
Ariante ignored them and headed towards the showers on the dojo’s interior. After filling a basin with water she walked over to Raiotto, who was on the brink of death, and dumped all of its contents on his face.
The lad sprung up just like a fish thrashing around. When he finally managed to escape from the water, he tossed about coughing violently.
“Ah, she did it! He came back to life!”
“As expected of Ariante!”
“Guys, are you stupid? He pretended to be dead. Being thoroughly fooled by a child, you guys are something else. Or rather, at least check the pulse. No one checked that despite trying to save him?”
The same time Ariante pointed that out, the lad who was a corpse tried to rush outside the dojo, with such vigour that one would believe he literally just came back to life. Still, his movements were blocked by the several dirty adults cutting into his path.
“It’s not nice to lie, Raiotto. You had us all awfully worried there.”
He flashed a wicked smile.
“Stop lying! You were enjoying it, you bastards!”
Tired of the loudly arguing voices, Ariante intended to broach the real issue at hand. However, she started to have a bad feeling.
―― Pretending to be dead.
For some reason, that phrase had strangely bothered her. Ariante searched her memory, whether there was something she missed regarding the demon they recently fought.
The most suspicious was the moment one of his forms vanished after possessing Rēvendia. I could predict that if it was a demon thriving on maliciousness, he’d be considerably weakened after sticking to that harmless lizard. Still, was it really enough to annihilate him completely?
Deep in thought, Ariante shook her head, as if trying to admonish herself.
“No, there should be no doubt. Kin girl has confirmed the disappearance of his presence.”
That child’s ability is in a different league. At least with detection, she should be more precise than anybody else. There’s no way she’d make a mistake…
―― Oh, it’s just a goat.
Just when she had wanted to conclude her reasoning, what came to her suddenly was the idiotic exchange from a while ago. And the instant she realised its meaning, Ariante flew out from the dojo with enough force to tear the door down.
“Sorry everyone! Send all the practitioners proficient in demon detection or sealing to the nearby granary town! I’m going ahead!”
Jumping upon the horse, which surmised the serious atmosphere and ran parallel to her, Ariante gripped the rains with all of her might.
Only when it comes to Rēvendia, that girl’s perception can’t be trusted at all. Which is obvious, since he’s the source of her wrong impression which in turn became the origin of her abilities.
Thus to her, the survival of the spirit demon which came into contact with Rēvendia is something that――『Mustn’t be』. It doesn’t matter whether that’s a fact or not, she should have recognized it as 『Vanished』.
“If that’s true, his aim is――”
If the spirit demon is still lurking inside Rēvendia’s body, his aim can only be one person. That kin born with magic power stronger than anyone else’s.