After defeating the monsters, mages devoted themselves to extinguishing fires with water magic, so the whole process went smoothly. Everyone was trying to save at least a portion of their belongings from the burning houses, while fretting how to make ends meet from now on.
On the other hand, we were made to wait at the artillery spot on the wall. The adventurers’ perspective was that, “Until we hear your full story and goals, we can’t let you wander around”. Personally, I think it was a very reasonable claim. If we loitered around and got attacked we couldn’t even complain, so I ordered Rēko to keep still.
“It’s fine, I don’t mind… Oh, could you borrow me a blanket or something though? You might think it’s thoughtless of me saying such a thing when the town is in trouble, but this child has been going at it since morning. I want to let her settle down and sleep a bit.”
Rēko, who just finished her air battle, was drowsily shaking her head while rubbing her eyes. Although she might seem composed, the burden on her body must’ve been substantial. Instead of a nap while dozing off, I wanted to let her have a proper rest.
The watch-keeping soldiers — several dozen of adventurers exchanged glances, and in the end one of them went down to the guardroom. From the air they emitted, each and every one of them was a first-class warrior. Just by showing any sign of hostility, a herbivorous dragon like me would probably be killed in a few seconds. I’ve absolutely had no intention of going against them though.
Then, the soldier who just went down came back with a blanket.
“Here, a blanket. However, worrying about the kin girl’s physical condition is different from the stories I heard, quite compassionate of you indeed.”
“Just out of curiosity, what stories spread around?”
“Scorching towns for fun, when starved you make rivers of flesh and blood run just to satiate your hunger.”
“I’ve never done such a thing, really. My staple food is grass or trees. Bamboo shoots are my favourite.”
Everyone got nervous, with their faces saying they wouldn’t get deceived. I secretly expected somebody would believe me and give me some bamboo shoots, but it seemed unlikely.
“Rēko, town’s people have lent us a blanket. Sleep for now and let your body recover.”
“But —— leaving the Evil Dragon Lord unattended and sleeping soundly is…”
“I don’t mind. You have to be tired. Now it’s your task to rest.”
“… As you wish.”
Rēko, who properly wrapped her body in a blanket, jumped on my back with a light leap.
“Well then, pardon me for having a rest before you.”
“You dislike going to sleep first, but you absolutely don’t mind jumping on my back. Not that I mind though.”
Without any reply, I already felt a soft lump lying on my back.
“Rēvendia, are you fine like that? If it’s necessary, we’ll prepare even a hundred blankets.”
“I’m not really sleepy.”
My body and spirit couldn’t be more tired. However, I wasn’t that thick skinned to be able to fall asleep in the middle of this facing me hostility. Supposedly, even if we both were to go to sleep, we might suffer an all-out attack and die. Since I felt like I was suffocating, I raised the main issue in a small voice, so as not to wake up Rēko.
“Look, I’ve got an earnest question for you guys, could I leave this child in your care? As a matter of fact, this child isn’t my kin or anything; she’s just an ordinary human. If you guys raise her properly, I think she’ll become a helpful and splendid sorceress.”
“… What’s your aim?” An archer took a deep breath and answered.
“No, I’ve no hidden motives, it’s literally as I said.”
“That story is utterly unbelievable. The magical power that girl emits isn’t human, it’s of a demon’s nature. What’s more, it’s especially nefarious. You, who gave her that power, should understand it the best, shouldn’t you?”
“It might be unbelievable, but in fact it’s true.”
“This is troubling…”
I was at a loss.
The route of acting as a respectable tamer’s dragon has already disappeared; regaining my peaceful life didn’t seem likely. If it continued like this I’d be stuck with her forever, with a straight line for subjugating the Demon King. And then midway I’d probably get killed by a stray arrow.
“I kept you waiting.”
When I was brooding over my situation, from behind the soldiers keeping watch appeared the female knight Ariante, who not long ago was commanding them. It seemed that she was finishing off the remnants until now.
“You guys may stand down. It’ll be easier to talk with fewer people, for both of us.”
“Elder sister, are you sure you’re going to be okay?”
“Yes, I don’t mind. Anyway, if that thing starts to rampage, whether it’s me alone or all of the town’s warriors gathered together, probably everyone would be annihilated. In which case, setting up the grounds for dialogue even a little bit seems like the best plan.”
I wasn’t capable to. I didn’t know about Rēko though. Still, Ariante seemed like she might be more understanding than those guys openly releasing bloodlust. That alone brought me some relief. When soldiers went down, the one who broke the ice was Ariante.
“Evil Dragon Rēvendia, why are you rebelling against the Demon King? The existence like you, even Demon King won’t treat you discourteously. Or is it that your pride doesn’t allow you to be below someone?”
“As expected, you’ve also misunderstood…. Listen, I’m not any evil dragon. I’m just like a huge lizard that has been eating nothing but grass. To put things bluntly, if we fought I’d die in a second.”
“Yet I don’t think that a mere big lizard would be knowledgeable about demons.”
“It’s just accidentally, by chance. I’ve been living quite long and while secretly running away from various demons I picked up some things, but it’s not like my knowledge covers all information on the Demon King’s army. There’s probably far more demons I don’t know about.”
“Then, how are you going to explain that kin girl of yours?”
“Regarding that, it’s difficult to explain even for me. She’s the one who made this so complicated.”
The same way as I’ve explained to Raiotto, I told from the very start the story of how Rēko was offered as a sacrifice.
What came out was practically the same response as with Raiotto. Well that should be expected, I thought. Even I still wondered if this whole situation wasn’t just a bad dream.
“If she’s a regular sorceress this story is impossible. The same way an infant just can’t get up and start walking suddenly, there’s an order to release magic. There would be no hardship if it could be released limitlessly with just wrong assumptions.”
“Is there no possibility that this child is an amazing genius or something?”
“I can’t say there were no such instances in the past, but… those are all just legends. Among the recorded in history high-raking mages, there seemed to be one capable of wielding enormous magic from the moment he gained self-awareness, but it’s without a doubt an exaggeration.”
“Here she is though.”
“I can’t believe it.”
Ughh, I groaned. Perhaps the reason why you weren’t able to find prodigious children was because you treat them like monsters and drive them away from towns. Even if there were other children like that, they might have had a screw loose, being no different than monsters.
“Even if, for argument’s sake, I were to believe this story, there’s a bigger problem then. The magic power that child wields is already not human’s. If she handles her art crudely, there’s no telling when she breaks the balance and goes berserk. Particularly, there exists a small chance of her being swallowed by her own magic power and transforming into a real evil dragon.”
“Eee… She’ll become a dragon herself?”
“Of course, generally it’s impossible. It’s purely a hypothesis in the case your story is true.”
“For you it might be a hypothetical talk, but for me it’s a shocking reality. What to do, if that child becomes a dragon will her sense of self remain? Will it be possible to reason with her?”
“It’d be better to not expect too much.”
Once I was told that, I felt like I’ve had a terrible bomb on my back. It just might be that she was more troublesome and dreadful than the Demon King, being so close to me, just sleeping soundly and making sweet noises.
“Listen here, I’ve come up with a good idea, why won’t you let her amass a sorceress’ training? Look, as long as she learns how to handle her magic powers, she won’t become a demon, right?”
“It’s not possible. Everyone in this town bears distrust towards you, including me. If this child becomes able to control her powers, her strength would increase even further. There isn’t anyone who would want to provide Evil Dragon’s kin with more power.”
I sighed deeply. Those were some grim prospects. In the worst case scenario, I might have to consider dragging this child with me into the mountains and confining ourselves there. Although it was a shame, I couldn’t send her back to the village…
“Supposing your story is true, if I were to give you a piece of advice it’s not to say lightly the fact that you’re weak. The reason that girl is able to control her powers despite her crude skills, is that there exists a foothold called the Evil Dragon Rēvendia for her to rely on. Losing that illusion carries a high risk of her going out of control. On top of that the Guild put a prize on your head. Knowing that you’re weak, those mercenaries looking for gold will unanimously hunt you down.”
“Eh, there’s a reward for my head?”
“Second only to the Demon King.”
“What kind of standard is that… Even though I’ve only been eating plants…”
What an inconceivably false charge. From now on I couldn’t even open my mouth saying I was weak, or I’d get killed for money. As I was spilling tears of sorrow in my heart, Ariante slowly drew her sword.
“I’ve went along with your story. Come, now it’s your turn to answer my questions — Evil Dragon Rēvendia. Why are you rebelling against the Demon King?”
I couldn’t answer anything. The reason being bloodlust, which I couldn’t feel even once from Ariante, was released fiercely all at once. My skin covered with scales started shivering.
“You won’t answer? What foolishness. Even though the Demon King also acknowledged your superiority, to suddenly use his kindness because of your pride…”
The tip of the broadsword was pointed at my nose.
“My name is Ariante Sorudo Shiruvie, a devoted sword of the Demon King. Although my life will end here, be prepared to not escape unscathed, old dragon.”