Chapter 4 – I got a weird nickname. Please stop using it!
Deep in the Vizannu mountains, in a place that humans can’t possibly reach by themselves, is my dwelling. Well, it is a naturally made cave, but it’s drafty in a good way, so it’s got good ventilation. Not far from there, there is a stream, and around the stream there are plenty of fruit trees. If there was a unicorn here, it’d turn into a scene from a fairytale, is what I always think.
Which reminds me that I asked Rau, and Unicorns are apparently real. Apparently they are sacred to a certain kingdom, and are being looked after. I’d like to meet one once, but apparently because the image of a pure maiden is too strong, so it would be impossible for me. My memories as a human is that of a girl, but right now I’m a dragon. I might be female, but with the appearance of a dragon, meeting one would probably be impossible.
Since I thought the two of them would be hungry after I ended their lovers quarrel, I guided them to this place. Whitey stuffed herself with sparkling eyes, while Rau seemed to pick at a fruit disinterestedly, but his gaze was always at Whitey. Saus was cautious in the beginning, but after a while he relaxed and together with Whitey ran around the stream.
Since I could ask the knowledgeable Rau about this world during that time, I was satisfied. Rau really seems to know a bit of everything. That this continent is called Bartoria, the various circumstances of the different kingdoms, everything was quite detailed. The country closest to here is the Alvina kingdom which seems to be on bad terms with the Tiruzoto kingdom to the north. Because the Alvina kingdom won in a war several decades ago, outwardly it’s thought that they have a favourable relationship, but the old disputes have never really died down, and recently they have started with small skirmishes again. The last time the two countries had a large scale war was a hundred years ago, and it seems that an Earth Dragon was participating. The country that considers the Earth Dragon as a sacred beast is the Alvina kingdom, and the Tiruzoto kingdom considers the Unicorn as a sacred beast. Other countries seem to have their own sacred beasts, so it seems kind of like a difference of religion.
Originally, it seems that Earth Dragons can form a contract with a single human. However, that seems to have come to an end, and in history only four dragons are known to have obeyed humans. Compared to other dragons, Earth Dragons temperaments are violent and fierce, but maybe because of my human memories, that doesn’t apply to me. Could it be because I have sense of a human? Having the sense of a human yet eating humans, makes me want to retort, but let’s ignore that part for now. Since I’m a dragon now, in order to live I have no choice but to eat humans.
But this truly is a miraculous spectacle.
A rabbit that by all reason should get eaten is playing with a wolf, while a raven and a dragon are watching over them. I must say that this is too comical.
The two of them decided to stay at this mountain for a while. It was overflowing with Whiteys beloved fruits, and for them it was a relatively safe place.
I once took Rau and Whitey to the place where I eat humans, but they didn’t have any particular reaction. Whitey told me [That’s terrific, I respect you!]. She doesn’t seem to think of anything except animals as pitiful. Is it okay if it’s a human? Well, it’s true that for them animals are closer existences than humans to themselves. For them, are humans nothing more than giant vermin? I might have went overboard with that comparison though.
After a few months, something terrible happened. Rau who loitered near human habitation said that he had some amusing information to share.
[Vito, you are turning into a rumour.]
Rumour? Wondering what this was about, I tilted my head in confusion.
[Apparently there’s a “man eating dragon” in these Vizannu mountains. And what’s more, it’s incredibly ferocious and the size of a third of the mountain with bloodshot eyes, sharp, jagged fangs which it uses to skewer its victims before it eats them. The reason villagers and travelers keep disappearing is because they are eaten by the ferocious dragon, is the rumour.]
It’s not incorrect, however… It’s not wrong, but it’s wrong. I’m big, but no way in hell am I the size of one third of the mountain. Regarding bloodshot eyes, it’s true that my eyes are red, but are they bloodshot? Heey, are they bloodshot? When I relied upon Saus and asked him if they were, he said [You’re eyes are like beautiful gemstones-!] he said with a laugh. What a good kid! Mommy is happy!
[What’s more, because of the repeating dissapperances, the kingdom have hired a subjugation party, sending it after the dragon.]
[Eeeh!? Isn’t that dangerous!?]
[It’s better than a squad under direct supervision of the country, right? Since it’s a miscellaneous group of mercenaries. You’re not someone to die that easily.]
[Eh? No way.]
An instant answer. To think that a subjugation party was formed just to deal with me. A mismatched group? Isn’t that completely different from the defenseless humans up till now a group of men who holds weapons going [Let’s go kill us some dragons, rawr!]. I’ve got no experience dealing with that type of people, so I’m honestly worried.
[If you just breathe some fire in their general direction, they’ll melt, right?]
[I’ve never breathed fire like that, I’ll have you know.]
I’ve breathed a small flame on cold nights to get a bit of warmth, but I’ve never breathed a fire big enough to fight several people.
[And even if I did that, it would just turn the mountain into a wildfire. Who will extinguish that fire?]
[A spirit of water maybe?]
[Are you stupid, Whitey? The only ones who can use spirits are humans.]
[Eh? Is that so? Why?]
[Well, that’s because spirits are things made by humans. Was it called piety? Humans have since ancient times believed that spirits lived inside them, and somehow they turned real is what I heard. That’s why spirits answer to humans and not to us animals. In return, we animals have the protection of the Big Tree.]
Piety is really terrific, huh. Humans not only created a god, but also spirits? That’s quite some utility. Wait a moment. Then what doest that make me who eat spirits for sustenance?
…I thought to ask, but it seemed like it’d turn complicated, so decided not to.
[What is that Big Tree?]
[A fundamental existence of this world.]
[I’ve heard about it- in a forest very, veery far from here, is where it is.]
[It’s an existence that guards all life. The truth and reason of this world that interferes in order for the world to not perish.]
That sounds too difficult.
[I’ve only heard about in legends, though, so I can’t say with any certainty if it really exists. More importantly, shouldn’t you be more worried about the subjugation party?]
Ooh, I forgot!! Because he answers any questions, the discussion easily gets derailed.
[That subjugation party, when will it come?]
[Tonight, is what I heard.]
[Is that so, tonight, huh… Waaait!? Tonight?]
A night attack, huh. What human-like thinking.
Since the sun is about to set, there’s not a long time until night.
[I’ve got no choice, huh… Saus, go to your own den today. Rau and Whitey should also get as far away from me as possible.]
[Eeeh-!? Bu-ut, Vito, will be in danger!]
[I will be fine, I’ve got a plan.]
If they’re going to perform a night attack, then I will wait in a forest at the base of the mountain and surprise them. Those overly enthusiastic dragon slayers probably won’t expect to find a dragon immediately.
I don’t know how many participants the subjugation party has, but let’s pray for them to not be too many.
Finding somewhere to hide close to the forest entrance turned out to be next to impossible. I’m pure white like Saus and Whitey after all. According to Rau that is the special characteristic of the Earth Dragon, but for a surprise attack I’d have preferred to have been black. I guess I should cover myself in mud this time.
In the end I somehow managed to find a hiding place, and after waiting with bated breath for a while, I saw a torch from a distance.
―――They really came.
It’s not like I doubted Rau, but that they really appeared made me sigh. I don’t enjoy pointless killing, but this is legitimate self defense and I don’t really have an alternative.
As they got closer, I got a better look. There were five or six persons I think. Not very many, which gave me relief.
But they were humans who brought weapons with their eyes set on me. I can’t be careless.
I waited for them to walk past me, then dragged the last of them into the thicket. Before he could scream, I cleanly bit his head off.
―――He wasn’t very tasty…
[He-, hey? Where’s Gan?]
It seems they noticed that they lost one of their companions, so they became agitated.
I threw the body that I only bit the head off in front of them.
[Gaaah!] [Gan!] [Th-, this is a lie, right!!?]
Whilst screaming they each readied their weapons.
[It’s-, it’s the dragon!! It’s the man eating dragon! Be careful!!]
As I thought, but its “man eating dragon” without change, huh.
I left the thicket, inhaled air and roared loudly.
It was a roar loud enough to shake the ground, and I had heard from Saus that he could hear it when he was on the other side of the mountain. Thank god I practiced roaring.
I wonder if it’s because of my pressure, but the members of the subjugation party bore pained expression while they closed our distance.
[Get a move on!!]
Before their swords reached me, I let out a breath of fire. I don’t know if I did it well, but I did it like earlier and took a deep breath then blew as hard as I could.
However, this time I willed the fire producing organ in the back of my throat to work and the breath went surprisingly well. The two humans who rushed to attack me quickly screamed before turning into charcoal. But, since I don’t know how to hold back, the forest turned into a sea of flames. Ooops.
However, suddenly something like a rain squall descended upon the forest and suppressed the fire. A human wearing a robe and holding a staff floated above the ground surrounded by a glittering magical pattern. It seems this human used magic to extinguish the fire.
The fact that he can use magic means that he’s got magical power. In other words, he enters the “tasty human” category. I finally became motivated. I haven’t eaten any humans with good amounts of magical power for a while, so this is making me happy. The fact that he used water magic probably means he’s received the blessing of a water spirit. I’m looking forward to it.
I swiped and bit at the remaining weapon wielding human, instantly snuffing his life, making the mage the only living human left. His expression warped in fear, too afraid to stand up he fell on his backside screaming whilst trying to shrink away. I advanced quickly towards him and without mercy bit off his head. I didn’t miss that his expression changed into an expression relief at the last moment. But leaving that aside, a sweet feeling overwhelmed me.
Verdict: The best.
He was not as tasty as the village girl, but among those I’ve tasted so far, this guy was the one with the second tastiest magical power. This subjugation party wasn’t so bad, after all.
So far I’ve eaten plenty of humans who have been blessed by spirits, but depending on the type of spirit the person had been blessed with, the taste of the magical power differs. For example, the village girl was blessed by the spirits of earth, and her magical power had a warm flavor. Someone blessed by a wind spirit has a refreshing magical power. Those blessed by a spirit of fire have an energetic, yet delicate magical power. Spirits of water have a tender, damp taste.
Depending on the magical power, the taste differs, and the amount I get satiated also changes. My favorite taste is that of humans blessed by spirits of earth.
When I finished eating I surveyed the scene, discovering that it was a sea of blood. The half eaten corpse and the corpse of the man I slashed with my claw and took a bite out of where scattered around all over. This is like a splatter film.
As a human I can’t really leave it as it is, but as a dragon this can be considered a warning to leave me alone.
To think that I became a monster capable of causing this tragedy of blood, but I wasn’t particularly sad. Because I have Saus there for me, and Rau and Whitey too. I believe that I can get on good terms with other animals if I only can talk to them.
That even if humans don’t understand me, I am myself.
At the time I still didn’t really understand.
That in the future I had no choice but to forge a close relationship with that human.