In an instant, she annihilated the eerie flock of birds above the city. But just as I started to feel relief, when I shifted my line of sight a little, from the other direction the white-faced eerie birds were almost infinitely gushing out.
When one looked at Rēko’s real strength, who slaughtered that horde of birds in one strike, they didn’t seem like a significant threat. However, the worrying factor was that Rēko would overuse her magic and deplete her stamina just like before.
“Hey Rēko, powerful moves are fine, but have you thought about pacing yourself a little bit? Once it becomes difficult, you know its fine to go down and get a short break, right?”
“However, these people in the city will eventually become the Evil Dragon Lord’s followers. I cannot let the number of victims grow by leaving the monsters idle. I will save as many as my power allows me to — so that one of these days they will die meaningfully, useful to the Evil Dragon Lord.”
“You, I’ve no idea whether you’re kind or not.”
We flew to the centre of the town enclosed by circular walls. If we glared at the eerie birds and kept them in check, the attacks on citizens would probably lessen. Although, the one who decided that and was making me fly was Rēko.
Or so I thought, but a clad in armour warrior commanding the battleground below screamed.
“A new one! A new monster appeared! It’s a dragon possessing a sinister and tremendous magic power! Ei, do not falter everyone! Let’s somehow counterattack with the greatest strike possible—”
That magic power wasn’t mine, but Rēko’s. This child was emitting aura dangerous enough for them to call it sinister. I’ve expected it though.
Warriors standing on the walls let loose their attacks simultaneously. Light magic bullets, flame vortexes, wind slashes released from swords, arrows drawing phantasmagorical trajectories, javelins tearing space apart. Just the pure sense of intimidation caused by the released certain kill strikes of brave warriors with their long military service had almost made me lose consciousness.
Well, I’ve lived for a long time, there aren’t many things I regret either — It happened just when I was saying my final prayers.
On my back, Rēko roared.
It wasn’t an agonal scream. Or rather, it was no longer a human’s voice. If I didn’t know Rēko was on my back, I’d have probably misunderstood that an unthinkably strong wicked dragon was roaring nearby.
Moreover, it wasn’t merely a terrifying voice. The dreadful roar carrying a physical impact spread in a spherical manner, just like an expanding barrier, which flawlessly nullified all the incoming attacks.
“You pathetic ruffians. You intend to harm the Evil Dragon Lord with just these trivial powers?”
Rēko’s voice was echoing loudly across the night sky. And it was hopeless already. This was clearly a villain’s entrance.
“Hey Rēko, wait a minute. You, did you forget what we talked about? I’m not an evil dragon, but a simple worthless dragon. And you’re not my kin, but a normal dragon taming sorceress. So from now on do your best to correct this.”
“… That is, right. I am, sorry. I, understand, and will, do my, best.”
It was a speaking pattern of a poor ventriloquism act. Despite her wrong impressions being intense, it seemed she was no good at acting something out with self-awareness.
“I misspoke everyone. I’m a sorceress of righteousness with a very pure heart. Here is a dragon which doesn’t have any merit, but is very meek, harmless and easy to get attached to. Since the town seemed to be burning gravely, I came to save you. I’d be pleased if you’d welcome us.”
Silence fell over the night. Only the crackling sounds of burning buildings were heard, just like a carefree bonfire.
“… What do we do?”
“Well it really stinks, but if we fight do we’ve any chances?”
“Yeah, that previous attack was scattered with one roar.”
“Even if it’s a trap, for now let’s play along.”
“Ye, I don’t really mind if they stab us in the back while playing allies.”
“Alright. For now let’s treat them as allies. Though there’s no way I trust them.”
“Then it’s decided.”
“It seems you’re whispering this and that. Do you believe you’d be able to fool our ears with hushed voices?”
By the way, I couldn’t hear anything.
“Alright! We welcome you! Come down slowly just as you’re. The wall artillery is missing, just land there.”
The one who replied was the commander. The black wings controlled by Rēko lowered the flapping rate and we descended, gliding down. When I landed on the artillery space, there was a reception of adventurers overflowing with bloodlust. I wanted to go home already.
“We all probably have our own motives. However at least here, I’ll think of you two not being our enemies as our good fortune.”
There was just one person lacking bloodlust. Or he might be good at hiding it. It was the commander-like armoured warrior. While approaching us holding a long broadsword, he put it into a sheath on his back and took off his helmet. Then, vibrant red hair gently fell all the way down to her waist.
It was a woman. For a woman to be acting as the commander of these brave warriors, I wonder how great her strength must be.
“I’m called Ariante. Please fight with us to save this city.”
She even politely took of her glove and wanted to shake Rēko’s hand. As one could expect, she didn’t come near me. In any case, we wouldn’t be able to shake hands with our different sizes.
“Please treat us well.”
In contrast to the knight Ariante who boldly sought a handshake, Rēko held out her hand while shifting her gaze. It’d probably only be regarded as suspicious behaviour, but it just made it look all the more shady.
“I’m Rēko. And here’s the one I serve, the great Evil Dragon Lord… That’s wrong, just a normal dragon.”
“Say, aren’t you doing it on purpose?”
“I would not even think to go against the Evil Dragon Lord’s order.”
“There you are calling me an evil dragon again.”
“Sir Dragon. What could be your name?”
When Ariante inquired, my eyes grew wide open. I didn’t have a name. In exchange for the longevity of our species our population was scarce, so there weren’t even two or three of us in one habitat. That was why, as a matter of course, we didn’t need names to distinguish individuals.
However, from an unexpected direction came surprising information. Namely from the adventurers behind me, who weren’t even trying to conceal their agitation.
“Hey, those black scales and azure eyes… Isn’t that the Evil Dragon Rēvendia worshipped by the southern village?”
“I’ve seen his wanted poster at the guild. There’s no doubt.”
“The way from which he flew also matches, right?”
“It’s a lie. That the one known established as the massive monster comparable with the Demon King has awoken…”
Astonishing. There was a terribly exaggerated name given to me. Even though I’ve never called myself the likes of Rēvendia. As soon as Rēko heard this conversation, she regained her spirit like a fish thrown into water.
“Hmph, for humans, you guys seem to have pretty keen noses. Since you realized, there’s no helping it. Indeed, he is the Evil Dragon Lord Rēvendia. However, think of it as your honour. The Evil Dragon Lord has no intention to harm the bunch of you. The current enemy is only the reckless and foolish Demon King, who is selfishly trampling down on this world, which should be ruled by the Evil Dragon Lord.”
“Could you not give them ideas in your high spirits? You could’ve held out more.”
“From the beginning, the Evil Dragon Lord’s illustrious power could not be hidden merely by my performance.”
“Uwa, she shifted the responsibility on me.”
Ariante’s expression hardened.
“Never would I have thought, but it really is true. Be that as it may — you’re really good at concealing your powers. For a moment, I’ve thought you’re just a really big lizard.”
“You intend to mock the Evil Dragon Lord?”
Rēko’s eyes sharpened and she set up her jewelled dagger. However, Ariante was unmoved.
“I understand. Even though you only just became his kin, you’ve already surpassed my power. I can guess that much from the strength of your body.”
Hm? I tilted my neck. As if to represent my question, Rēko asked.
“How do you know that I’ve just been made Lord’s kin?”
“I can tell by looking. In comparison to the volume of your power, you’ve got almost zero practice in handling it. It’s rather all the more terrifying.”
Saying that she wasn’t used to handling it, in other words meant there was still room for growth. From the people gathered here, the one who shivered the most was me.
“But now is not the time to have a long talk. Let’s leave the story of defeating the Demon King for later, first we’ve got to subdue this town’s fire. Fortunately, there are almost no injured people, but if this continues the town will be burnt down.”
“What? Even though there’s such a big fire, there are no victims?”
“What’s that, dragon, are you dissatisfied?”
“No, no, I think it’s a good thing. Getting injured and dying is an awful thing.”
“… You’re a pretty carefree one, aren’t you.”
As if to say I’ve gone mad, Ariante cleared her throat.
“Anyhow, please look at the city. These are the monsters laying waste to it.”
I stretched my neck and looked down at the city. The ones destroying the town’s buildings, hurling fire and pushing the limits of destruction were — skeletons. However, it wasn’t merely human skeletons. Innumerable white bones put together formed grotesque monsters, or siege-like weapons showing unrestrained movements. What was more, there wasn’t just a single one, but many of them running around the city.
“At first only those human-faced birds raided us. We intercepted them well with mid-air attacks, but when the birds’ corpses piled up, the bones separated and started moving just like that. It’s fortunate that they are weak, but not only are their numbers great, no matter how many pieces we break them into, they soon start to reconnect and move again. To neutralize them completely, we’ve to use some means of burning or dissolving the bones, till there’s nothing left of them.”
I see. It was a foul two-pronged strategy, which demons were so fond of using. Rēko fixedly gazed at the sky.
“Just like the Evil Dragon Lord and I attacked before, we’ve got to erase them without leaving even their bones.”
“That’s right. I’d like to leave the skies to you two. If the supply of bones will disappear, we can decrease their numbers on the ground.”
I was reluctant. If we took to the sky again, there was no telling when we’d be able to land. But it appeared that, if we didn’t do anything, I’d be recognized as a monster and get beaten up.
“Rēko, it’s a good opportunity for your training. Try going by yourself. You can fly, right?”
“Please leave it to me, Evil Dragon Lord.”
With a flap, black wings grew from Rēko’s back. I felt like just by asking “You can do it, right?” this child could do anything. Except acting, that is.
“Well then, I’m going to annihilate them.”
“Take proper breaks when you get tired, all right? Sleeping mid-air isn’t allowed either, okay?”
I didn’t know if she was able to hear my warnings. Rēko soared high in the air with a speed fast enough to have only her afterimages seen, after which she started drawing silver claw marks across the night sky.
And then I suddenly remembered my circumstances. I was surrounded by a great number of adventurers, without any place to escape to. With Rēko gone, there was no one to protect me.
“Rēvendia, is it fine with just the kin girl?”
Ariante examined me with a sharp, discerning gaze.
“I’d very much like to help out, but if I do, this town will be destroyed with just the remaining waves of my power. I don’t think you want that either.”
As a result of panicking, I spouted the greatest boasts of my lifetime. To tell the truth, even if I did my best, I don’t think I’d be able to destroy even one house. To somehow change the subject and make the adventurers scatter, I tried to give advice as naturally and a matter of course as possible.
“Well, since I’ll be resting here, you guys should quickly search for the「freshly severed head」and stop the bones. Though it’ll be hard to find under the cover of all those human-faced birds’ bones… ”
“「Freshly severed head」? What’s that?”
Since Ariante didn’t seem to understand, I explained.
“What do you mean what, it’s those bone monsters real body — Kurikubikōbe. Look, he takes the shape of a human head and he’s the one controlling the bones here. Since he’s moving them throughout the whole town, he has to be rolling around somewhere high.”
If I remembered correctly, the method of delivering the kurikubikōbe hidden inside the corpse of a human-faced demon and capturing cities with the army of skeletons was quite popular some time ago. Around the time when my body wasn’t as big as it was now, I could remember receiving food from humans, but the town of citizens who fed me was captured using that trick. Since I was really sad at the time, I could still recall how cowardly and vile their technique was.
“Everyone! You heard, didn’t you?! Search for the freshly severed head in an unnatural place mixed with the eerie birds corpses!”
Adventurers jumped to their feet and dispersed. Contrary to everyone’s expectations, after several tens of seconds someone’s war cry was raised, and the skeletons spread throughout the town lost their strength, collapsing along with clattering sounds.
“As expected of a former executive of the Demon King’s army, you’re well acquainted with the demons abilities. There was no such information recorded in the guild’s books.”
Whether she was praising me or speaking with sarcasm, I couldn’t read Ariante’s serious face. Deep down I was sweating profusely, wondering if I’ve made some careless remarks which she could be suspicious of. Then I composed myself and remembered.
Those events happened when I was still small, so it was more than 4000 years ago. No wonder it didn’t remain in some books.