Editor: Ghost Ape
The ‘nearby’ was according to her standards. When I asked in detail, it turned out to be a whole five days, considering my slowpoke self.
“Should we fly?”
I firmly insisted on walking. One can only gain from journey when one treads resolutely on the ground―― at least, that was what I told her.
However, walking for five days straight was honestly hard. The food running out was also a source of unease. When I was starting to visibly slow down with my shoulders drooping low, riding on my back Rēko peered in my face.
“What would you like, Evil Dragon Lord? Ah… I see.”
“Stop forcibly discerning something when I didn’t say anything.”
“I am a failure as kin to bother the Evil Dragon Lord with earning that petty sum of money. As expected, I should be the one to go and promptly fetch the gold.”
“Aah but… there are demons in the goldmine so it can be dangerous… well… as long as it’s you, I think it’ll be fine…”
“No need for worry. I will make sure to restrain myself to not blow up the goldmine.”
“That kind of inconceivable worry was slightly outside the scope of my imagination.”
“Then off I go.”
Not giving me any time to restrain her, Rēko grew wings and flew away in the blink of an eye. I immediately became uneasy. Even these plains weren’t a completely safe zone. I had no idea when a demon would appear. If I was in the original size I might be able to bluff my way through, but I was in my mini-size after drinking the medicine.
But Rēko returned startlingly fast.
“Oh, what happened? You forgot something?”
“No, I went and had a look.”
“With the wings I received from the Evil Dragon Lord, this kind of distance doesn’t take longer than a flash. And so, about the goldmine’s demons―― seems like they’re quite a capable bunch.”
I opened my eyes wide. I never suspected demons able to make Rēko call them capable could appear so soon.
“When I arrived at the goldmine, it turned out that each and every one of them has withdrawn. A fairly competent pack they are, to have sensed my bloodthirst early on and ascertained the difference in our power.”
“Yeah, I should have expected that.”
“More importantly, Evil Dragon Lord. The demons are relatively inconsequential, because a larger problem has sprung forth. It is not something we can ignore.”
Rēko lightly sat in seiza on the ground and rectified her posture.
“What is it out of the blue?”
“Thinking it through carefully, even if we found a goldmine, it’s not like the gold ingots are just lying around. Breaking apart the ground randomly, I have found some rocks with leftover gold stuck to it, but they weren’t ready to be sold off like that at all.”
“Ah, now that you mention it, unless one properly smelts the ores, they’re nothing but rocks.”
“For the time being, to make up for the smelting furnace I have spouted flames on the goldmine, turning it into a sea of fire, but it seems thinking the gold will float up was too optimistic of me…”
“Probably the goldmine looks like hell now.”
When I composed myself and looked at the horizon, shrouded in mist far away, I saw a mountain glowing red, erupting like a volcano. That had to be the goldmine.
“Therefore, let us sell the whole mountain to the humans.”
“Even though there are no demons, I wonder whether we’ll be able to sell a mountain which is in the middle of a natural disaster. Will that flame disappear if we leave it be?”
“In about three days.”
“It’d be nice if the mountain doesn’t turn into plains during that time.”
The goldmine wasn’t our property in the first place, so whether we’d be able to sell it or not was a problem, but for now it looked like we didn’t have to continue walking towards that mountain anymore.
“Well then, let’s search for some town. Rēko, lead the way please.”
“Understood. The nearest town would be over there.”
What Rēko pointed her finger at was the direction of the burning brightly mountain.
“Hahaha, that’s a good one Rēko. There must be something closer, right?”
“No, there’s no other town unless we cross that mountain range. If we were to give it up and search for another city, we’d have to briefly retrace our steps and―― move the opposite way, towards out starting point, the town of adventurers Peryudōna.”
“Isn’t the path a bit too steep all of a sudden?”
“That’s because on the other side of that mountain range is another country. The country borders generally tend to be made of mountains or rivers, as to obstruct people from entering.”
“Umm… I don’t like that the road is so shoddy, but maybe thanks to that my infamy won’t spread too much…”
If we were to turn back, I’d no doubt be treated as an Evil Dragon again, forced to feel out of place. Besides, since I had no idea what was going to happen from now on, I still had to temper my endurance, so walking a little as exercise would clearly be a better option.
And yet, I was torn.
―― Well, I did pretty well lately, so it should be fine to take it easy today, right?
“Hey, Rēko. To tell you the truth, I’d like to take a nap.”
“So could you carry me and gently fly us over to the town at the other side of the mountain? But do not, no matter what do not drop me, okay?”
“I understand. I will make a cradle out of the gentle breeze and carry you over while you sleep soundly.”
“Make sure to carry me only after I fall asleep properly.”
I already irrationally broke the saying of “journey has to be resolutely tread on the ground” I came up with myself, but Rēko wouldn’t be perturbed by something of this level. That way we’d be in a next town after I slept well. I originally lacked sleep due to anxiety, so as soon as I laid on the ground, as if I was being sucked in, I sunk into a deep sleep――
“Evil Dragon Lord.”
I opened my eyes to Rēko’s voice. Since I was waking up my field of vision was still cloudy, but the kind of grass growing at my feet was different. It seemed the vegetation changed slightly after we crossed the mountain.
“I appreciate it Rēko. I slept well thanks to you.”
“No, I was happy to be of use. Besides, we had to stop like this before arriving at the town… Evil Dragon Lord, please look at that.”
Even though she pointed at something, with my eyesight I couldn’t make out what exactly Rēko perceived. What could be fathomed with my eyesight, were the previous mountains now towering behind us and a novel horizon stretching endlessly.
Then, at the far horizon I saw a vague human figure. It wasn’t one or two. The vanguard was composed of shields and swords, while the rear carried bows. A mass of around a hundred humans in a battle formation carrying a variety of weapons, were slowly but surely drawing near us.
“Given that there was a strange occurrence at the mountain, the garrisoned forces are most likely coming to investigate the situation. If we leave them be, they might snatch the mountain from us…. Shall we off them?”
“No offing. Absolutely not.”
I stopped Rēko by pulling the hem of her clothes. Escape whilst I’m stopping her―― despite my prayers, the garrisoned forces were shortening their distance.
However, at that time an existence wedged itself between us. To be precise, rocks. But not just common ones. A great number of rocks gathered together into the forms of humans and beasts, wriggling just like real living beings.
Demons. They scattered in the vicinity after being driven out from the mountain.
“May I clean this up?”
“Y-yeah. Make sure not to drag those people in ――”
Still, there was movement before Rēko could draw her dagger.
The rear troop sent a hail of arrows flying. Originally, there should be little effect on those made of rock hard demons, but the arrows with a howling momentum started forcibly chipping off the demons’ bodies. However, there were no fatal wounds with just that. The small built rock demons in the form of beasts slipped through the arrows and started approaching the troops. Yet the vanguard began crushing them with their swords and spears. They must’ve prepared beforehand the thick-edged weapons for them.
Despite fighting against fairly strong demons, there was almost no feeling of peril. My eyes were shining brightly with admiration, but Rēko on the other hand said,
“They’re a nuisance, battling so poorly. If I were to make a move now, I’d blow away all of them.”
Showing no emotions at all, she was indifferently making an analysis. Being so reliable made her all the more scary. I did as I always do; erase my presence and wait for the storm to pass. Sooner or later, the troops were going to win.
“Yoohoo! You over there, Evil Dragon Lord, could ya help us out? We’ll probably win, but it’s suuch a paain!”
That was when an extremely impetuous, out of place voice could be heard coming from among the troops. Rēko and I exchanged glances in wonder. It was a female voice, but I didn’t remember hearing it before. I already shed cold sweat. Even though we went so far as crossing a mountain, you’re telling me my infamy has reached so far?
Also, for some unbeknownst reason Rēko seemed a little happy, flashing an eerie smile. She was murmuring in a disquieting manner “I see… You want to gaze upon the Evil Dragon Lord’s strength that much, huh… I guess it cannot be helped, human…” I really had no clue what makes this child rejoice anymore.
“Well then, what should we do Evil Dragon Lord? My hope would be to show off our amazing strength here and make them realize the difference between us.”
“No, we can’t do that. If you go crazy you’ll drag those people into it.”
“That’s true… However, if I were to use ‘that’ Evil Dragon Lord’s skill…”
The moment Rēko said that, the rock demons floated into the air, as if pulled up by some invisible strings. And then on the plains high up in the sky a black hole appeared, gouging out the space. The demons were swallowed inside with no means to resist it at all, and before long, the black hole vanished quietly.
“After all there was nothing to use but this move right here. A special technique applying the Evil Dragon Lord’s subspace creation『Evil Dragon’s Purgatory』. Surely the humans should be trembling with fear.”
I was also trembling in fear. The humans were generally terrified too―― except one that is, who was shouting loudly with no tension present in her voice.
The one who jumped right into our lives with both feet was a young girl clad in a white mantle and armour. Her white hair was plaid into a braid. She ran up to us all excited and said with a beaming smile.
“Heya Evil Dragon Lord! I’ve got a quick question, couldn’t you make me into your kin?”