Translator: Kell | Editor: Weasalopes
As Hikaru drew the wakizashi, it felt like the Stone Golems reacted for an instant, then everything was completely still once more.
『That looks impressive as always.』
「Have you forgotten? It turned out like this back when I helped you out.」
The blade was as striking as ever, but Hikaru’s Stealth, enhanced further by his Soul Blaze, was enough to conceal the wakizashi. Its blade pierced the surface of the tower easily.
「There we go…」
From there Hikaru pulled it downward and ripped a hole open, causing white powder to scatter everywhere. He held his breath and took a step back.
「An egg shell.」
「I thought the material felt familiar. It’s an egg shell.」
The crisp texture definitely resembled a hen’s egg.
「Let’s see what’s inside…」
The hole was just big enough for Hikaru to stick his head through. The inside was empty, made like an atrium. It was bright enough despite the closed ceiling. Braces sticking to the inner walls supported the glowing object at the center, one that shone light purple. It was huge, as big as a minivan or a minibus.
「What is this?」
『A dragon stone.』
「What? You mean that whole thing is a huge dragon stone?」
『No doubt about it.』
Hikaru looked at it again. There were no other living creatures nearby. It was clear that the tower only existed to protect the dragon stone. This really is something like an egg, Hikaru thought. Or a cocoon perhaps.
Was that dragon protecting the stone? I doubt it’s the dragon’s baby or something…
Their sizes did not match at all. Hikaru sensed faint mana from the walls. He knew exactly what it was—the optical camouflage.
I see now. This egg is fragile. Bombardment from the sea would definitely destroy it. That’s why the camouflage was set up so the egg isn’t visible from there. No one would get close to this place from land anyway. Even if people noticed it somehow, the Stone Golems would guard it. That’s what “someone” thought.
It was most likely true, then, that the optical camouflage tech had been leaked and used to hide the egg, along with information to watch out for attacks from the sea.
After everything I’ve seen so far, I highly doubt this egg just appeared here naturally. This egg—this Root, was placed here by someone.
And whoever did it had one goal.
To let evil spread over the whole continent.
The invasion basically had already gotten this far.
「Are you going to eat that?」Hikaru asked.
『It’s a bit big, but I have to.』
「Not just a bit, it’s humungous.」
『I’ll try my best.』
Drake left Hikaru’s neck and entered the egg through the hole, flying in the air. Hikaru quickly looked around, but the golems didn’t react. Apparently the creatures were ordered not to interfere with anything going on inside the egg.
「You scared me.」
Drake barely used his ability to fly—rather, he couldn’t. It consumed too much holy mana. He must have some to spare as he hadn’t used the Drakon Passage for a while.
The Gray Noble Drakon I killed must’ve used a lot of mana just to stay in the air.
「I should get inside as well.」
Staying outside would be pointless, so he started chipping the shell off with his wakizashi.
For an egg, the tower was too big, and long and narrow. The light from the glowing body, however, wasn’t blinking in a regular pattern. No. It felt like the pulse of a living creature.
Slowly, Drake drew closer to the glowing object and chewed at it without hesitation. No blood came out from where the drakon’s fangs sank, and the light didn’t weaken either.
『With evil spread out this much, it might be difficult to restore this continent back to normal.』Drake muttered as he chewed.
It was unusual for Drake to not mention anything about the flavor. He just kept on chewing.
「Finally, I’m in.」
Dusting the white powder off his body, Hikaru entered the egg. Drake was in the air, biting away at the glowing object.
「He probably can’t finish the whole thing. I’ll just have to blow it up with my revolver.」
After having a simple lunch, Hikaru surveyed his surroundings. The floor was the same as the ground outside; he could walk around no problem. There was nothing else inside the tower, however, which was a little disappointing. He at least wanted to check the roof since a dragon flew from there.
Hikaru found a spiraling path that led upwards. One of the braces supporting the glowing object had transformed into a set of stairs. It didn’t seem like it was man-made. He kicked it a few times to check how sturdy it was before climbing up.
「I have the Gravity Balancer to break my fall just in case.」
Only the sound of Drake munching could be heard in the otherwise quiet room.
「Hey, Drake. How’s it going?」
『Quiet. I’m concentrating.』
Drake had already devoured about the size of his own body. His stomach was bulging.
「I sure hope you don’t sleep for weeks again.」
Hikaru left Drake to his own devices and continued climbing. It was exhausting, but soon he caught glimpse of a hole on the ceiling. He poked his head out to see the blue sky above. A strong breeze ruffled his hair. The roof was flat, and unlike the white wall, it was dirty, presumably because of the dragon coming and going.
「Hmm? What’s that?」
A strange object drew his attention. It stood there on a wooden brace, pinned down with stakes so it didn’t get blown away—a tent. It was big enough for two people, though it was empty at the moment.
「A tent where the dragon flew from. What’s going on here?」
Hikaru surveyed his surroundings to confirm no one was around before walking towards the tent. It was neither worn-out from use, nor particularly new. There were traces of someone making a fire, but there was no wood around, most likely blown away by the wind. He checked the inside of the tent.
It was cramped, with only a sleeping space. But there was one thing that caught his eye—a map of the continent printed on paper, the word Root written here and there.
It’s probably made in Dream Maker. That means someone gave it to someone or brought it here.
「A traitor from inside. That means this tent belongs to Koukimaru, or his family.」
That would mean Wakamaru was right. Hikaru took out a piece of paper, a pen, and some ink from his bag and hurriedly copied the location of the Roots.
「Hmm… something’s off…」
Dream Maker knew where the Roots were using magic items. Yet this map indicated even the location of Roots farther up north. Hikaru found it hard to believe that Koukimaru made it up there. That means someone told him about it.
「Is Koukimaru working with whatever evil is lurking here?」A chill ran down his spine.「I see. That’s why he directed the Yamamaneki to the city.」
There was only one answer.
「Koukimaru is still alive. That much is certain. And he shares the same goal as the evil being—to destroy the city.」