Editor: Ghost Ape
Of course I refused. In the first place, the choice to agree didn’t exist for me. It wasn’t like Sheina would power-up if I let her become kin, and if she did, it’d be even worse.
“And that’s how it is. This time it turned out regrettably, but you’re definitely promising. I wish you luck in the future.”
With a condescending attitude Rēko informed Sheina of her disqualification, while patting her back unreservedly. Meanwhile Sheina sitting cross-legged let out a disappointed cry from the bottom of her heart.
On the other hand it looks like Haizen was anxious about his daughter turning into the Evil Dragon’s kin, because he let out a long sigh of relief.
“No helping it! Since it’s come to this, Rēko, can I become your kin? This time I’ll settle with being kin’s kin!”
“This strength is borrowed from the Evil Dragon Lord. Lending it to someone else without permission would be unforgivable.”
“Don’t say it like you could lend it if you wanted. It’s scary.”
“Tsk… Ah! Hey, Evil Dragon Lord! I want to play a little with Rēko, can I take her with me?”
Hmm? I tilted my head due to the sudden request. Honestly, at the beginning I felt it smelled fishy. I had a hunch she’d somehow butter Rēko up to let her become kin. However, it was a chance for Rēko to play like other kids; that is, a chance for rehabilitation. I’ve turned her down anyhow, Rēko wouldn’t arbitrarily overrule my decision. I was a little worried, so I decided to ask.
“… Are you really only going to play?”
“Really really! There’s this awesome place! In this town―― or rather, camp site? Only military and staff are here, so there’s completely nowhere to play, but I know one amazing spot! I’m sure Rēko will also have lots of fun!”
“I see. In that case I’ll have to trouble you to take care of her. I think Rēko isn’t really used to playing――”
“Yay! Let’s go, Rēko!”
Sheina lifted up the standing upright Rēko like a stick and ran off far away with a tremendous speed.
“In that direction is… Damn you, Sheina. It’s too boisterous to entertain our guests…”
“Hm? You’ve some idea where they might’ve gone?”
“Yes, most likely it’s the tavern. In a frontier like this drinking loudly is the best distraction, so it certainly is the most amusing place here, but still…”
My eyes popped wide open and I flailed my forelimbs around.
“Y-You! That’s terrible! Rēko is still a child! She obviously can’t drink alcohol?!”
“Is that how it was? Good gracious, since she’s Sir Evil Dragon’s kin, I was sure that despite her appearance she’s a few hundred years old.”
“Don’t you usually guess by appearance?! Wait, isn’t your child also a minor?!”
“Ah it’s fine, my daughter is a non-drinker. She just wants to have fun.”
I left the relatively carefree Haizen aside and started chasing after the abducted Rēko with all my strength. Naturally drinking alcohol at her age was ill-advised, but more importantly I was worried whether she wouldn’t get drunk and lose her senses. After all the other day she almost turned into an Evil Dragon like it was something trivial. There was even the possibility of an Evil Dragon descending in the tavern on the off-chance she gets drunk and out of control.
Luckily the encampment wasn’t that big. My eyes landed on the destination Sheina head to. It was a huge tent patched with waterproof cloth, able to contain well more than a hundred people. A cheerful voice of drunken laughter could be heard coming from inside.
“Heey! Rēko! You cannot drink!”
I passed through the tent’s curtain and barged inside the tavern. Instantly, people’s eyes focused on me.
“A real Evil Dragon…!”
“Eh? Is he really real? Isn’t he really small with completely no punch?”
“Idiot, you’ll get yourself killed. I heard he hides his true shape for the sake of journey.”
“It’s the same Evil Dragon that thoroughly drove away the mountain’s demons. I saw him fighting the remnants, it was amazing. He bent the space and wiped them off the earth…”
Not being able to withstand the gazes I escaped from the tent.
“What the hell am I doing, I can’t run. If it goes on like this Rēko will do something terrible.”
I steeled myself and attacked once again. Enduring the piercing gazes, I went deeper into the tent in search of Rēko.
“Here you go! Evil Dragon Lord, is beer alright for now?”
With a bang, a bucket of alcohol was placed in front of me. The one who put it was Sheina, dressed in a coarse waitress uniform, full of patches like the tent.
“Ah, I don’t―― Wait, never mind that, where’s Rēko? That child can’t drink alcohol, okay?
“It’s fine, it’s okay. Even I wouldn’t make such a little kid drink alcohol. There was the mountain grape juice which wasn’t fermented yet, so I gave her that.”
Once my eyes followed Sheina’s pointing finger, I saw Rēko chugging grape juice from an identical to mine bucket, garnering all the attention from her surroundings.
“Evil Dragon Lord too, go ahead, don’t hold back.”
“Well… To tell you the truth, I’ve practically never drank alcohol. Besides I’ve no money to pay for it.”
“What are you saying? Just defeating those demons before is more than enough for some alcohol.”
Sheina lightly waved her hand, saying she didn’t want any money. When I was bewildered, a person put his arm on my back. It was a middle aged man I had no recollection of seeing before.
“That’s right. Think of it as our offering Evil Dragon Lord. After all, we―― don’t wanna fight, like at all. It’s dangerous, not to mention annoying.”
“Aren’t you guys military? Is fighting dangerous and bothersome even for you?”
“Aah, even if they’re skilled, the ones who become military are mostly realists and down-to-earth guys. And realists don’t want to fight as much as possible. No matter what advantage there might be, risk always exists. Only guys like the ridiculously free adventurer’s bunch can proactively attack and fight with no consideration for their life, aiming solely for the status and prestige…”
Now that he mentioned it, the military present in this tavern did seem to have less toxic air than Peryudōna’s adventurers. If I were to borrow Ariante’s words, character wise there were a lot of trash-like people.
“It’s a mess―. These guys, they only think of safely spending time till their next transfer. They also had completely no guts to take back the gold vein from the demons. ‘For now let’s just prevent the demons from coming down the mountain’ is the extent of their ambitions.”
Those were reasonable complaints, but I couldn’t believe my ears who said that. Standing with a bucket of beer at her feet and a troubled look was Sheina, who before seemed the most likely to outright deny things like “guts” and “ambitions”. When our eyes met, Sheina panicked and clammed her mouth.
“Well, it’s not like I mind. Look, thanks to them leaving it alone Evil Dragon Lord easily got the gold vein for us. Good things come to those who wait, yep. More importantly Evil Dragon Lord, I think soldiers of a borderland like this shouldn’t think so badly of you, who have one way or another brought peace to a whole area.”
“Aah, that’s good to hear.”
It looked like there was something on her mind, but for the time being I was relieved hearing I wouldn’t be a target. People were fearful but still gathered around me, and although short, they were even starting conversations with me.
“Is it true you’ve risen in revolt against the Demon King?”
“Will you support humans?”
“Why did you break the silence now after all this time?”
… The contents were far from surprising.
To make up for not being able to answer most of them, I poured down my throat the recommended to me sake against my better judgement.
―― And then…
“Uwaaa… I can’t anymore… When will I be able to live in peace… I don’t want anything dangerous anymore… Someone, please someone help me…”
Before I knew it, my tears and sobbing couldn’t be stopped.
The surrounding me soldiers were all sympathising and crying with me, voicing through tears “That’s right, peace is the best.” They were wrong in all sorts of ways, but there was no problem. I was sure same thing was at the bottom of their hearts.
And now Rēko was patting my back, saying,
“It’s okay. When Evil Dragon Lord is in trouble I will be sure to aid you.”
She also added while pouring me another beer,
“Incidentally, I think this sort of Evil Dragon Lord is also fresh and very nice.”
Nursing me, Rēko showed an awfully pleased face.