16-51. Guardian Dragon
Satou here. In many of earth mythologies, dragons are said to be equal to gods, an existence that slays gods. That it's been demoted to be a mere [good farming] monster must be because the popularization of home RPGs, no?
"Cross over the mountain range and it's tropic."
This is normal in a world where climate is controlled by City Cores, but I just can't brush off the fantastical feels.
After leaving Tokiswolk Kingdom that had been partially destroyed by vampires, we got out of the long and narrow monster dominion facing north and arrived at Dragg Kingdom.
It's a curiously hot country with subtropical-like vegetation.
"This looks like a good country with lots of meat around."
"Woulda been fun if they were a wee bit stronger."
"I'd love the deck to be a bit wider too."
Liza, Rusus and Fifi who had been dealing with flying monsters that were coming to attack the airship gave their own subjective impressions each.
"Satou-sama, a Ride Beast is coming from one o'clock direction."
A voice came through the speaking tube from the cockpit.
The Ride Beast is most likely coming for us, but I don't think it'll suddenly attack without warning.
I look at one o'clock direction.
--A richly-colored parrot?
According to AR readings, it seems to be a phantasmal beast called Elder Parrot.
Seeing someone riding the parrot, I realize that it's this country's Parrot Rider.
"Looks like they're from Dragg Kingdom to meet us."
I waved at the Parrot Rider while saying that to the speaking tube.
The knight appears to be human at a glance, but he has a lizard tail like that of Liza.
Judging from the scale's color, it's probably a bluescale-kin young man.
Checking the Map, I see that half of this country's population is that of scale-kin. Lots of humans too as usual, but even then they're only 30% of the total.
Following after the Parrot Rider, we arrived at a vacant lot that had been re-purposed into a temporary airport.
"Huh? There's two ships?"
"Did someone other than Meiko come by here?"
There are two airships with Saga Empire's emblem on them moored in the airport.
A medium sized cruiser and a slightly smaller destroyer.
Looking at the raised flags, the cruiser seems to be Meiko's ship.
"--Are you here to laugh?"
Hero Meiko derided herself while pouting.
She looks pitiful with bandages all over her body as she lays on bed.
According to her attendants, it appears that she went and picked a fight with the Guardian Dragon of Dragg Kingdom, the green dragon, and had the tables turned on her instead.
Apparently, she was thrown into the air by earth magic before she could get close to the dragon, then she was shot by the dragon's diffused breath midair, resulting in her current state.
From what I can tell, her condition has gotten quite better compared to when she left Shiga Kingdom back then.
The damage on her Soul Vessel seems to have been restored too, god Parion must have mended it.
"We're not gonna laugh at you."
Rusus and Fifi shook their heads.
"Having the gal to challenge a dragon alone is amazing."
"I don't like you, but I don't hate that battle obsessed part of you."
They pet Meiko's head while smiling frankly, while the recipient herself looks unwilling.
"Good grief, and I didn't oppose you to meet the guardian dragon since you said you wouldn't fight it..."
A droopy eyed civil official moaned.
She seems to be hero Meiko's attendant.
There's other civil official-type attendants around too, but all of them are unfamiliar faces.
Since the previous members were apparently annihilated during the divine punishment, it must have been reshuffled.
A scalekin dragon priestess is also present in this room, but she appears to be a personnel of this country, not an attendant of Hero Meiko.
Her face is well-featured, but rather than beautiful, the word dignified fits her more.
"I wanna have a match too."
"Yeah, you just can't get enough of battles to the limit."
I got a slight headache to hear Rusus and Fifi's battle junkie-like remarks.
"I shall guide you if you wish to fight the guardian dragon."
The dragon priestess easily gave her permission.
"Then, I will too."
"You can't. And the person over there too, please refrain from it."
Liza was eager to take part in it, but the dragon priestess shook her head as she looked at me.
"Why can't Satou and Liza?"
The dragon priestess replied Rusus's question.
"Were these two fight, dragon-sama would likely forget to hold back."
Even without considering a huge part of the dragon continent turned into barren land because the ancient dragon was too engrossed in its fight against a demon lord, I could really understand what she was saying.
The black dragon Heiron and the lesser dragons at the eastern Siruga Kingdom also go nuts when they fight after all.
"By the way, shouldn't you treat her with magic and potions?"
"Having her raked over the coals like this once a while will be a good experience for her."
I got that reply when I whispered to one of the attendants who also happened to be a Parion temple priest.
Trivially, it seems the idiom of raking someone over the coals has been passed on to Saga Empire from one of the heroes among generations.
"Ain't that a true dragon!"
Rusus's scream echoed in the green dragon's nest the dragon priestess led us to.
Its nest is located at the peak of a sacred mountain soaring high to the north of Dragg Kingdom's royal capital.
Although I had no plan to fight it, I wanted to see the dragon thus Liza and I went with them.
"Will you secede from fighting then?"
"We ain't suicidal enough to fight a true dragon yep."
"It's a 『fight to the death』 instead of a 『fight to the limit』 when yer' up against a true dragon."
Rusus and Fifi shook their head vigorously at the dragon priestess's question.
AR readings indicate that the green dragon is a level 69 true dragon.
Perhaps, it's the parent of the infant dragon that's staying with me.
Liza stepped forward before Rusus and Fifi who flinched back.
"Then, allow me to."
"Like I said, you're not allowed to."
The dragon priestess immediately rejected Liza's proposal.
It's unusual to see Liza dejected.
...Were you really that eager to fight, Liza.
Suddenly, wind blows.
One of the green dragon's eyelids opened languorously.
That eye turned at me and stopped.
『You the human over there. And the lizardkin girl. I could smell black dragon on you.』
The green dragon muttered in dragon language.
Since the dragon priestess here also has [Dragon Language] skill, I can't speak carelessly here.
『Yes, we have just met him at his residence in the black dragon mountain.』
『I see. Is that guy still--』
Green dragon looks straight at me.
『--obsessed with battles?』
『He does love to fight. He was fighting gleefully in the desert the other day.』
『I see. That guy is still the same as always, eh.』
Green dragon squinted its eyes while smiling wryly at my reply.
The green dragon raises its head and begins to sing in an unbelievably clear voice in spite of its looks.
While listening to the wonderful song, I could hear the sounds of rubbing grass.
Flowers around the green dragon are growing rapidly, a variety of rare herbs and pretty flowers are blooming about.
A spring was born in the center of it all, dragon spring sake with sweet fragrance gushed forth.
"--Dragon Festive Song."
The dragon priestess muttered in delirium.
Once the green dragon's done singing, it grew its tongue out and drank the dragon spring sake.
『Have a drink. It's my thanks for bringing news about an old friend.』
『Then allow me to keep you company.』
I took out an especially big mug from my Storage through the Garage Bag, drew the sake, made an air toast and put it in my mouth.
--This is good stuff.
It's sweeter than black dragon Heiron's spring sake, dense fragrance oozes out of my nose from inside my mouth.
The others were also eager to have a drink, so I handed them their own glasses after getting the permission from the green dragon.
The dragon priestess who looked the most eager said, "This will be the temple's treasure!", and held it close in her bosom without having even a sip.
I asked the green dragon if it wanted snack to go along with the sake as my thanks--
『Marine products would be nice. Either fresh kraken or Shell Tuna is fine.』
『I have some kraken with me. But not Shell Tuna, would you be alright with whales?』
『Whales? Do you mean the Northern Gluttonous Fish? Those things eat even my breath, and are quick to dive deep, I'm impressed you could catch them. I've always wanted to taste one. Gimme some.』
I took some huge slices of kraken and whales out of my Garage Bag, roasted them and gave them to the green dragon.
Everyone besides Liza was exaggerating when they were surprised at the spilling plates, but when you talk about dragon spring sake, steak on iron plates naturally has to be there.
We enjoyed the feast with green dragon and went down the mountain came dusk.
After hearing the dragon priestess talking about, "A huge monster that challenged the green dragon and was driven away" while we were going down the mountain, Rusus and Fifi went off to fight with it.
They're true to their desires, or rather, those girls' people sure love to fight.
<TLN: If you're reading this novel at any other site than Sousetsuka .com you might be reading an unedited, uncorrected version of the novel.>
"There's so many unusual looking ingredients here."
"Master, found lots of weird fruits, so I report."
Lulu and Nana said so while looking around the stalls and booths.
Since Rusus and Fifi were gone, I'm currently having a tour around the town with the girls, it's been awhile since the last one.
Since they haven't been in subtropical places like this much, they look to be having fun.
"Hmm, I still don't get what's so good about green bananas."
"Pineapples are very tasty nodesuyo?"
Bananas and pineapples are apparently local specialty here, but unripe bananas are not well received among the girls.
I'll make them ripe enough using the original spell I created in the southern island back then.
I forgot that I had created such magic until Arisa pointed it out.
Many of those magic were made impromptu on the site, and lots were never used again.
"Even if it's local specialty, putting fruits in stir-fry is a bit much..."
Looks like Princess Sistina can't stand pineapples in her sweet-and-sour pork.
"Good food bear no sin."
Lady Karina and the girls who aren't picky about their food savor theirs without any prejudice.
Sera and Zena-san who saw that also went to have a taste.
"Would you like some fruit juice?"
"Thank you. Satou-san."
"I'm sorry, I should have gone to purchase it instead."
Sera accepted her cup normally, Zena-san did so while apologizing.
I'd love for her to be more unreserved in this kind of stuff, but it seems difficult for the serious Zena-san to stop caring about the gap in our positions.
Mia is looking up at me while holding a native dress in front of her body.
"That looks good on you, Mia."
Might as well purchase clothing and accessories native to Dragg Kingdom for the girls.
While we were at it, I rented a room at a random hotel and had the girls put on local fashion.
Of course I've put on tropical clothes myself too.
"Ah, it's chocolate!"
After changing, we went around the town, then Arisa ran out when she saw chocolate drink.
"Ugee, it's bitter."
Arisa frowned after having a sip.
The stall owner asked Arisa if she wanted honey with it while laughing to see that.
Seems like sugar is expensive in this country.
This is my first time drinking chocolate drink with honey, it's a novel idea.
The taste itself is good.
"Master, it's the market over there! They're selling lots of dried fruits there!"
Lulu is in high spirits.
Dried fruits that are relatively expensive in Shiga Kingdom are very cheap here in this country.
Lulu appeared to have a soft spot on [Affordable], she went around one stall after another with Arisa.
I bought a huge amount of dried fruits that Lulu took a fancy on, and shared them with the brownies at the solitary island palace, and Echigoya Firm's folks.
Of course, I shared some to Core Two, demon lord Shizuka, and the former demon lord fox girl too.
"--No suspicious activity huh."
I went to Saga Empire after enjoying our first normal sightseeing tour after a long while.
After all, the person who was acting suspiciously during the vampire incident at Tokiswolk Kingdom was from Saga Empire.
Tactician Touya and the plain-faced reincarnated person who have markers on them are happily managing an alchemy shop together at a town near their hideout.
Looking at their expressions, tactician Touya had this sour look like that of a just-married couple, but the wife, the plain-faced reincarnated person, was all smiles like she was truly happy.
Please, do live on in peace without holding some unnecessary ambitions from now on.
The mastermind behind him hasn't shown themselves like usual.
They're probably lying in wait somewhere while keeping a lookout on me.
Just in case, I'm sending a sesame seed-sized surveillance golem to tactician Touya and the plain-faced reincarnated person's alchemy store.
The new emperor seems to be pretty busy putting up a new system in the empire after his enthronement, doesn't seem like he can afford to meddle with other countries.
After we've finished checking on the administration, we walked down the imperial capital's streets.
I was thinking of gathering info about the rather mysterious Hero Fuu while we were here at the capital.
Since he's not in my Map, he's probably somewhere I don't know about after leaving the imperial capital.
Mia who had come here with me went and hugged me.
"Master, we went asking around, and although lots of people knew about the four heroes, no one had any idea about Hero Fuu."
Arisa who came back after Mia brushed Mia aside and pushed her own face on my stomach.
I peeled away Arisa as she was sniffing on me, and asked Mia.
I don't mind having a large amount of my mana sucked, but the way she does it is problematic.
"Guess I have no choice."
I reluctantly summoned Dryad, however--
"Don't ask me. I mean, I can't distinguish between humans."
--Thus, she replied.
Even though she could tell if it was me in particular, she doesn't seem to know which one is Hero Fuu.
I had residential officials and civil officials of Shiga Kingdom who stayed at Saga Empire introduce me to scholars experts about Vampires, and acquired their knowledge.
As far as they're concerned, turning someone into a vampire by way of water or insects is just impossible.
Well, the true ancestor Ban and Corpse who live in Selbira Labyrint's lower layer also said the same when I asked them while I was sending Tokiswolk Kingdom's vampires to them for protection, so asking scholars around is just a complement to it.
However, there was a curious exception.
There were records about [Vampire Demon Lord] who could produce more vampires through curses.
Though since the method required an [Artifact] that originated from the demon god along with the demon lord's Unique Skill, we probably don't have to take that into considerations in this matter.
According to them, the hero who defeated the [Vampire Demon Lord] also destroyed the artifact.
"Being told that it's impossible makes you all the more curious instead."
Arisa said so on our way back from the scholar's residence.
"They were bitten by bugs right? Maybe that was the vector that caused people to turn into vampires?"
Mia nodded at the haphazard guess that Arisa said with a serious expression on her face.
It might be possible if we were talking about normal diseases, but I don't see any suspicious insects through Miasma Sight, and it's not like the vampires here are like their earthen counterpart as they need to do rituals to create more of them in this world.
"We've been introduced to several more scholars, let's try visiting them all for now."
I told the two and went to one scholar residence after another.
Unfortunately, all the scholars agreed that insects and water can't be the source of contagion.
One of the scholars told me that there was a case where a vampire came out of Saga Empire's [Bloodsucking Labyrinth] and escaped outside the empire's territory.
The scholar postulated that maybe that vampire built numerous settlements in monster domains while stealthily increase their number before attacking Tokiswolk Kingdom.
I think this hypothesis seems more probable than Arisa's for this incident.
Checking monster domains inside and around Saga Empire on my Map, there really are several vampire settlements in them.
For the time being, there isn't a single Vampire Lord around.
I ignore the settlements that are living peacefully and report the ones that do problematic activities like pillaging to the neighboring empire's garrisons.
"Oh right! You mentioned a demon lord that records the world's secrets on slates with his Unique Skill before right. Can't we find the culprit on those slates?"
Mia's eyes are sparkling at Arisa's idea.
"It probably won't work y'know?"
In the first place, if we knew that much, I would have known about the mastermind's identity and location too by now.
"Just like news on televisions, only events that piqued the record keeper's interests are written on the slates."
Only stuff the troll demon lord found interesting are written on those slates, so the information there is quite inclined to one-side.
After finishing our business in Saga Empire, we tried checking on the slates since we might find some info.
"Yup, it's a miss."
Checking the slates, as I thought, there's no important info.
The part about Vampire Lord' atrocities and Rusus and Fifi's thrilling battles were written on around 300 slates, but important info like [Where the vampires came from] or [What was their goal attacking a country] was completely absent.
There are records about Hero Yuki beating the Land King that hard turned into undead at Sania Kingdom before the Vampire Lord part, but there is nothing written after the Vampire Lord part until Rusus and Fifi's arena battles.
Looks like Rusus and Fifi are the most recent favorites of the troll demon lord.
As it all depends on what the troll demon lord find interesting at the time, these slates are only useful for additional stuff that "we're in luck if it's recorded."
Well, from this investigation I can almost safely conclude that my fear about the vampire incident being "A plot by someone hiding in the darkness of Saga Empire" to be unfounded, so it's time to get back on clearing trials.
As for the investigation about the goal of Saga Empire's royalty found dead at Tokiswolk Kingdom, I've forwarded the written report about it to Shiga Kingdom's king and prime minister through Hikaru, I'll leave all additional investigations to them.
If I don't limit my involvements to [Catastrophes that are out of the local people's hands], I'd be gradually burdened with more things I need to do, eventually turning it into a literal death march.
Now then, next we're heading to the city-state Kariswolk where the main temple of God Karion resides, also known as, the [Sage's Tower].
I'm looking forward to touring the [Sage's Tower] more than the trial itself.
※ Next update is planned for 6/17