Editor: Ghost Ape
Contrary to what my claws looked like, they weren’t really sharp and neither was my grip strength substantial. I was way too pathetic to be called an Evil Dragon Lord, but instead, I was more than suitable to embrace a small child.
The moment I held her, as we had thought, Rēko’s wings vanished and the dragon scales covering her limbs started fading away.
“All right! Even if you die, don’t let go of her!”
After shouting that, Ariante faced Lady Saintess and raised her hand as the signal. Thereupon, the same pool of water, which dragged me in at the inn, had appeared at our landing place. This time its size was more akin to a pond.
“Mr. lizard! Make sure to talk her out of it! Otherwise, my puny barrier won’t be able to hold!”
“Leave it to me! This child will surely listen to―― ngyaaa!”
I hit hard the water surface with my stomach. While focused on protecting Rēko from the impact of the fall, I forgot about my own landing.
Disoriented, my field of vision was filled with sparks. Even so, I didn’t let go of Rēko. When I plunged into the water holding my breath, Lady Saintess closed the barrier’s entrance above my head. Unlike before, I didn’t start drowning. The water level had immediately receded and laid us down on the water covered bottom of the white space.
“Hey, Rēko. Do you recognize me?”
“… Yes, Evil Dragon Lord.”
When I called out to her, Rēko responded while still giving me a dumbfounded look. I was glad. It seemed she regained enough of her consciousness to communicate with me.
It was when I loosened both claws in my relief. From the loosened gap the black scaled pattern once again tried to engrave itself on Rēko’s body. Flustered, I right away fixed my grip.
“I am ashamed to have shown this disgrace in Lord’s presence. Everything is the fault of my inexperience.”
Rēko spoke with a kind of philosophic undertone in it.
“Despite this magic power being not more than a miniscule portion of the Evil Dragon Lord’s strength―― I already cannot control it. If it wasn’t suppressed by Evil Dragon Lord in this way, this vessel of mine would soon be reduced to nothing but a wicked demon.”
Even though she was saying that, in fact it was Rēko herself unconsciously holding back the erosion. I might be repeating myself here, but I never had such monstrous power.
“Look, Rēko. You can’t give up lightly. If you just keep at it, you actually might be able to suppress it easily, you know? I’ll patiently keep you company until you can control it well.”
“Your consideration of this undeserving one pierces my heart with its kindness. However, a kin’s lack of capability causing trouble for the Head is nothing but putting the cart before the horse. To say nothing of the Lord’s haste to subjugate the Demon King. Needlessly wasting time on the likes of this useless subordinate does not stand to reason.”
“What’s wrong with you? What happened to your usual pointless positivity?”
Maybe she was feeling down… But she looked too calm for that. Instead of appearing dejected, she seemed strangely detached.
“You need not worry, Evil Dragon Lord. I did not fall into despair. Rather, precisely because I became like this, I realised how I can be truly helpful to you.”
“I’ve a bad hunch about this, but let’s hear it first.”
Rēko smiled gently inside my arms.
“―― This time, please enjoy me as your mea―”
I refused before she had finished, so Rēko sulking puffed out her cheeks.
“Evil Dragon Lord, I had not yet finished speaking.”
“That much was more than enough. Listen here, Rēko. How many times did I tell you? I won’t eat you because I’m herbivorous.”
“However you should have eaten my soul. Actually the reason I was able to become kin was because the Lord has eaten my soul.”
“Ah right… Yeah… That was…”
Precisely this careless remark of mine marked the beginning of my ordeal. Although if Rēko didn’t possess some peculiar talent it’d have been simpler. When I was scowling in regards to the past few bitter days, Rēko started chattering in protest.
“I am inadequate as the Evil Dragon Lord’s kin. Still, there is something I noticed during our short journey. It appears that, although just a little, I am endowed with magic power of my own.”
“Yep, I know.”
With too much actually.
“As expected of the Evil Dragon Lord, you were aware of it. In that case it makes it simple. If the Lord would eat my soul, it would not only return you the magic power given me as kin, but would allow me, as your flesh and blood, to give you my insignificant power. If I can’t become useful as kin, I want to at least help as your nourishment.”
I let out the longest sigh in my whole lifetime. Even so, Rēko still continued.
“As inexperienced as I am, I see no other way to be more useful. Please, let me be helpful as your kin for this last time.”
“Just why do you judge everything based on being “useful” or “useless”?”
Slightly raising my tone of voice, I brought my face closer to Rēko.
“It was the same when you first came to me. Although you said it’s for help in subjugating the Demon King, what’s the point if you die and won’t be able to enjoy the following peaceful world? Everything comes first and foremost after you, so stop throwing away your own life as someone’s tool.”
“With all due respect, there is no one who would mourn me. That is why, at least as a tool――”
“I’m here, aren’t I?”
In order to scold her, I poked Rēko’s head with the tip of my nose.
“… Evil Dragon Lord?”
Rēko was flabbergasted. It was a given, since I made a remark completely unbecoming of an aloof Evil Dragon.
I couldn’t yet reveal that long ago, I was raised by humans and lived a pretty mediocre life. I still had to wear the mask of an Evil Dragon, otherwise this child would go berserk.
However, expressing just a little bit of my true feelings shouldn’t be a problem.
“I’ve lived alone a long time, and when you came along… how should I say it…”
I had called Rēko a “comrade” before. However, thinking about it, the word comrade is used for people carrying the same goal and of the same rank. I had never aimed to subjugate the Demon King, and neither was I strong enough to fight alongside her. That’s why, it probably wasn’t as a comrade…
“Right, I feel like I’ve gotten a child or a grandchild. Though you’re a child who needs an extraordinary amount of care―― isn’t it obvious I’d be sad if you were gone?”
“Evil Dragon Lord would… feel sad?”
“What are you surprised for? I can also be happy and sad as much as everyone else. I’d be sad if you were to die. That’s why I won’t eat you. So, if you understand, from now on don’t treat your life so crudely. Okay?”
While still staring in puzzlement, Rēko slowly tilted her head.
“In other words, I should become a dragon and the Evil Dragon Lord’s grandchild, is that right…?”
“You really are able to misconstrue everything each and every time into something edgy.”
“Is that wrong? If it is your wish, I will try hard and grow a horn or two.”
“Are horns really something that grows by trying hard?!”
The world seemed to be overflowing with things I didn’t know of yet. My common sense was steadily being broken. However, all of a sudden I found it to be funny and broke into a laugh.
“If you can grow a horn, can you also retract it? No, I guess nothing is impossible. After all you’re my kin whom I can trust.”
“… I understand.”
Rēko touched my claws with both of her hands. And then she exerted her strength and gently loosened my grip.
“I will try and do my best. I want to stay with the Evil Dragon Lord longer too.”
“That’s right, that’s the spirit. Rest easy, if it becomes dangerous I’ll stop it.”
The moment she separated from me, once again the magic power started gushing out from Rēko’s body. But this time the situation was different. There was no change to Rēko’s body; instead, a squid ink like black ripple was spreading out on the floor’s water. She was releasing outside the magic power she couldn’t control.
The dyed black water before long began to undulate like a living being and started to form into a shape of a giant dragon. It was fine – I wasn’t scared. This was also a monster born from Rēko’s magic power. It couldn’t hurt me, and if I were to charge at it I could easily bring it down.
Under my watchful eye, the dragon’s figure was turning more and more vicious. The claws were sharp, fangs long, thorn at the tail’s tip. Moreover he swelled up in size, looking stronger than my real appearance.
―― Is… this really okay?
Anxiety crossed my mind. More importantly, just how long would he continue to grow? He was already more than twice my size. If it went on like this, I felt that even if I charged I’d annihilate only his portion. What should I do if he goes on a rampage and breaks the barrier before I manage to beat his whole body?
Thump. When I was regretting making a rash promise, a weight jumped onto my back which was dripping with cold sweat.
“I’m feeling much better. As expected, the Evil Dragon Lord’s judgment was faultless. Where there is a will, there is a way. It seems you did not trust me in vain.”
With a self-satisfied hmph, Rēko showed an invigorated expression and stood with shoulders set back, striking a victory pose – not unlike a drunk returning from a successful vomit in the alley.
“Ah, yeah. I’m glad, but――”
When I wanted to ask what about the clean-up, the black wings expanded on my back with a flutter. Of course it wasn’t my strength, but Rēko’s doing. My face turned blank once I predicted the following development in an instant.
“Then I request your assistance. Let us quickly send this thing flying.”
Along with Rēko’s declaration the magic power connection ran out, and the completely independent black dragon began to run amok. With just one movement he caused the collapse of the barrier space, and his thunderous roar almost shook the whole world. There indeed was the unmistakable figure of an Evil Dragon, but…
Rēko mercilessly caught me unaware, and hoisting the dagger aloft she exercised the wings, soaring and charging at a rapid speed. There was no comparison to when I was thrown by Ariante. It was truly the living-cannonball treatment. Naturally, it was a direct hit at the giant dragon’s chest. Yet instead of decreasing, the speed continued to accelerate even further with zero consideration for me. There were no brakes.
And then, just like that, we dramatically tore right through the barrier’s ceiling.
On the verge of tears Rēvendia, who had grown wings, flew out of the barrier. It seemed they had rammed right into a fresh gigantic dragon, but they quickly vanished after reaching the surface. Based solely on that scene Ariante, as a skilled adventurer, could generally surmise the sequence of events.
“He’s as pitiful as always…”
Ariante murmured while smiling wide.
“Since it came to this, he probably won’t be able to escape his whole life.”