Chapter 71 – Ancient Dragon Drama
I kept the ancient dragon forced onto the ground with magic.
I used gravity magic and a magical barrier.
The barrier used a bit of energy, but the gravity was sapping up a lot.
The ancient dragon cried quietly. As it did, it tried desperately to flail away from my entrapment.
I could hold the thing for two more hours like this, at the limit.
I wasn’t under any pressure, but I didn’t want to take this easy.
I needed to speak to the ancient dragon again. I had to be calm and act like I was in command.
I had to act like I had a limitless amount of magic at my disposal.
My opponent was a dragon that had been alive for thousands or even more years. I had to be polite, even if just on the surface.
「Oh great dragon, would you listen to my request?」
「To imaging that a lowly human could hold me down like this…」
The ancient dragon began speaking in human speech.
It wasn’t spirit speech. I could feel the magic in its speech reverberate through the air.
It was a much stronger magic than spirit speech that it was using.
「If you promise me that you will not attack, I will release you.」
「Then I promise.」
The dragon also nodded as much as it could in consent.
As soon as I was about to release it, Vi-Vi grabbed onto my arm.
「It’s DANGEROUS AL!」
「It’s fine. An ancient dragon had a lot of pride. It will not break its vow.」
And even if it did attempt to attack, I could just slam it back down into the gorge again.
I slowly released my magic.
「Strong child of men. I was a bother to you. I apologize.」
Saying that, the ancient dragon bowed its head.
It said so in a praising way that I knew wouldn’t result in it attacking me.
「As I said before, I want to speak to you.」
「Please do so.」
「You’ve scared away all the beasts in this area with your magic voice.」
「Is that so? I did not notice.」
「They fled to where I currently live. It’s caused quite a lot of problems.」
「I apologize for that.」
The dragon bowed again. This was a much more respectful dragon than one would expect from an ancient dragon.
Perhaps the only reason that it attacked me is that it was upset at being awaken by me.
「Why has an ancient dragon like you come near a place where humans live?」
「Hm. This will become a long story…will you hear it?」
「It’s no problem to me.」
The dragon began its tale.
This ancient dragon was a dragon lord for the farthest reaches north.
As one of the top lords of all dragons, it was one of the seven highest.
「I had no idea that there was no royalty system in the ancient dragon society.」
「Of course, there is difference between dragon and human societies. But for the most part, simply so we are easier to understand, the position archduke is close to my position in the human language and mean quite the same thing.」
Even so, the fact that ancient dragons had a system of royalty still was new information.
Luka would be happy to hear all of this.
「However, I still don’t understand. Why is an archduke of dragon royalty here?」
The archduke began its story again.
A bit ago, there was an egg stolen from the throne of the dragons at the north pole.
This archduke had pursued the the thief all the way here in search for the egg.
The archduke seemed like he could not contain his anger at the whole incident.
As a human it seemed like someone stole his own child. Of course he was angry.
「Did you get the egg back?」
「Of course. And I was protecting it so that it would not be re-stolen.」
「I see. And that’s why you thought that we had come to ambush you, right?」
「It would be an excuse for me to say, but yes, it’s been hundreds of years since I had encountered a human.」
It’s obvious that at first the dragon had thought we were the culprit as the egg thief.
It must be hard for dragons to differentiate between different types of humans. Add to this the fact that this sleeping dragon was suddenly hearing human speech in front of it again after hundreds of years.
It must have immediately thought that the egg stealers were us.
The archduke dragon bowed once more.
「I am very sorry.」
「Well, in these instances it’s understandable.」
「Will you forgive me?」
「I understand your anger. Anyone would get angry if their child were stolen.」
「Then I am very grateful.」
It bowed once again.
「I understand what happened now…」
「Did you, human child?」
「Since you’ve gotten it back with no problems, you’ll be returning home, correct? I know that I’ve told you already, but you being here has disrupted the whole ecosystem of all the monsters. Honestly, it’s really becoming a problem.」
「I am very sorry. I would love to do so, but it is impossible. Not with these wings.」
The ancient dragon lifted its wings. It winced softly as it did. It must be in pain.
The membrane in its wings was horribly tattered and torn. The bones in its wings were broken here and there as well.
And in the battle I had with the dragon, I didn’t attack its wings.
Also, fire magic doesn’t have an effect like that.
「Where did you get those wounds from?」
「From my fight with the egg stealer.」
Whoever stole the egg had gone to the most extreme place in the world, and stolen the egg off the dragon’s throne. No way it was weak.
But even so, to leave wounds like this on an ancient dragon…
「It’s unthinkable to see wounds like this on an ancient dragon.」
「Well, you did defeat me…human.」
The dragon said, with something that sounded like a pained laugh as it snorted.
「You were injured, right? I guess if you had all your power, then who knows who would have won this battle.」
「You’re being humble, human.」
「No, it’s the truth.」
Upon hearing this, the dragon archduke fell silently into thought.
「…the egg was taken hostage. It was very hard to get it back.」
If that was so, then I understand how this ancient dragon became so injured.
「I have a friend who is a very talented healer. I’ll bring her here.」
The ancient dragon was a massive monster. You couldn’t entrust something like this to a normal healer.
It would be impossible to understand its wounds and condition, and there wouldn’t be enough magic to heal it.
However, with one of the greatest healers, like Yureena, it could be done.
The dragon shook it’s head sorrowfully.
「Again, how grateful. However, there is no need.」
「I am already dead. There is no healing that can fix me.」
「Do you mean that you’re undead?」
「Yes. Almost like a skeleton held together with muscle by magic.」
If this monster was undead and still had muscle and skin, whatever did this took a lot of magic.
Because if it had turned skeleton, everything would have fallen off but the bones.
Perhaps the dragon prevented itself from rotting because ancient dragons have unbelievable amounts of magic.
「Did you change yourself to undead so that you could stay here and protect the egg?」
「Yes. Until the baby dragon finally leaves its nest, I must remain here and protect it.」
I understood how the dragon felt. I wanted to help.
But there was a bigger problem.
For the dragon egg to hatch and then leave the nest…how long would that take? It would have to take more than a few months.
No, probably more than 10 years…even 100 wouldn’t be unthinkable.
「So…how many years does it take for the egg to hatch and leave the nest?」
「10 or possibly 20 years.」
「I see. Shorter than I imagined.」
Even so, it didn’t help my position. How could I do something about this?
While I was thinking, the dragon again spoke.
「…I will speak, as I now trust you. I’m sorry to say, but I am nearly at my limit.」
「When I fought the egg thief…I was cursed.」
「With what kind of curse?」
「A zombie curse.」
Now things looked very bleak. Having to deal with a zombified dragon was a disaster.
The whole country would be destroyed.
「Also, I was hit by an immortal killing arrow.」
An immortal-killer arrow was what cursed and injured my knee. Even now it’s very painful.
But an immortal-killer with a zombie curse?
There was no way yet to cure something like that. It’s very dangerous.
「In order to stop the zombification process, I cast skeleton on myself. But the zombie curse didn’t end there. Neither will the immortal-killer. Even now I am rotting away.」
「I’ve been hit by an immortal-killer arrow as well.」
「Is that so? Strange to have a chance meeting with an adventurer that has also been struck by one. A very odd destiny.」
The ancient dragon laughed. As it laughed, I could hear it struggle to breathe.
After the brief laugh, it quietly began speaking again.
「There is no doubt I will become a zombie soon. I am trying my hardest to resist it, but I can not stop this curse that rots my body. It progresses especially quickly at night. The pain hurts so that I am unable to sleep well.」
「So that was the sound we heard yesterday.」
「You heard me? How embarrassing. The pain is such that I long for death. However, I fight on to preserve this egg. But I am at my limit. It would not be strange if I became a zombie today or tommorow.」
If it was just a skeleton, then Cruz might have been able to change it to a sacred animal.
However, it’s got to be far more difficult than than because of the immortal-killer and zombie curse.
The dragon gazed directly at me. It’s black pupils were like round obsidian stones.
「My name is the Archduke of the North, Jilnidra, strong human. Please let me know your name.」
「My name is Viscount Alfred Lint.」
Since the dragon introduced itself with its title, I did the same in response.
「So you are a viscount. And this is your region?」
「No. I am a village guard.」
「…and why is a viscount a lowly village guard?」
「It’s a long story.」
Everyone was silent for a moment.
Finally, Jilnidra spoke,
「Alfred Lint, I have a request.」
「What is it?」
「That you would kill me.」
No one would want to become a zombie. Especially someone with pride like an ancient dragon.
「And what should I do with the egg?」
「Alfred Lint, shall I request that you care for it?」
It was a very unexpected request.
「…I’ve never cared for a dragon before.」
「There is no need to care for a dragon egg. There is no need to warm it or move it around. Just leave it and it will hatch. Also, I am not sure, but I think it will hatch soon.」
「It sounds easy.」
「It is strong against fire and ice. It also is not easily damaged.」
「So, you’re saying you want me to protect it from thieves?」
「Yes. Alfred Lint, you are strong. Strong enough to defeat me. And I think you are someone I can trust.」
「I know this is a difficult request. However, I must ask. As the final request of the one caring for this egg.」
I’ll admit, I’m weak whenever someone starts talking about familial love…even though I have none myself.
I wanted to help if I could.
So I asked Vi-Vi.
「Vi-Vi, could you burn away everything but the bone, and cast skeleton on it again?」
That way, like Moofy, we might be able to get Cruz to turn the dragon into a sacred beast.
Vi-Vi looked quite flummoxed.
「Because the zombie curse?」
「That too…but even more, the body of the dragon has already been hit with a skeleton spell. It’s impossible to cast skeleton on something that’s already had it cast.」
It was as Vi-Vi said.
I tried thinking about it a different way.
「…if we could just cure the zombification.」
「Alfred Lint, I thank you, but there is no way to reverse a zombie spell.」
「Being zombified is not an easily thing either. My wings were broken and I was very injured, but I still could fight. I guess I just rushed. The thief used the egg as a hostage. I had to do as the thief said. I allowed the curse to take effect, and stepped in the thief’s magic circle. I had to accept it or see the egg be destroyed.」
An ancient dragon becoming a zombie. Almost impossible.
But because the egg was taken hostage, the dragon had not other choice.
「You really did anything to get that egg back.」
「Yes, but when I was zombified, the thief made a mistake. I repulsed the magic, stopped its progress, attacked, and even with broken wings grabbed the egg and flew off in escape.」
If the zombie curse had totally taken hold, then the dragon would have just become a puppet of the thief. Also its wings were broken.
That’s why the thief let his guard down.
As the curse was just about to take hold, that moment. In that instant, the dragon had fought back.
Just like a protective parent.
「You said you attacked, so what happened to the thief?」
「Probably very badly injured. But I didn’t stop it. It was hard enough just getting away with the egg.」
「So what was the thief?」
「I don’t know the name, but a demon.」
Demons were very strong magic beasts in the shape of men.
A normal adventurer or dragon wouldn’t stand a chance.
「I see. Then I will take the egg.」
The dragon prostrated itself before me.
Then the dragon took out the all-important egg.
The egg was the same glimmering white as the dragon, the size of a medium dog.
I took the egg…it was quite warm.
「I will care for the egg, so please don’t worry.」
The dragon reached out and touched the egg with its finger. It said, kindly,
「Please forgive me for not caring for you until you left the next. I hope…someday you will find happiness.」
It said sorrowfully as it continued to touch the egg.
Then, while touching it, the dragon looked at me.
「Alfred Lint, please care for my child.」
「I will, son’t worry.」
「My child’s name is Sighisoara. I am sad to say that a useless parent like me can only give it one thing, a name.」
The dragon took out a small bag hidden in the scales of its neck.
「This is the only treasure I have left. With it, those of my race will help you. Use it however you wish.」
「I will take good care of it.」
The dragon then closed its eyes peacefully.
「I am already dead. But I need you to burn away my body before the zombification completely takes hold.」
The dragon let down its magic barrier.
After that, I used the strongest fire magic I could, and burned away its body in an instant.