Chapter 5 – It’s about time I moved, let’s do that.
It’s been three months since the subjugation parties started coming, but different subjugation parties keep coming without tiring.
Since then I’ve encountered five different subjugation squads, and until now the number of members in the squads have tripled, and their strategies have all been different. Yet I’ve not had a problem handling them. It might be because of my thick scales that do not let swords through, or perhaps because I’m getting used to handling these subjugation squads.
When they see me they all look surprised, but when I attack them they come to their senses and try to attack me. Is a white dragon that unusual?
…Oh, that’s right. Rau told me that I’m really unusual. I completely forgot.
Anyway, I’ve grown completely fed up with their attacks.
When they come I have to take Saus and company to a safe place in the mountain recesses, and since they come so often I’m not even hungry so I don’t even think about eating. As a result, I’ve been leaving the corpses as they are. I eat the humans who can use magic, though. It’s about time I seriously thought about moving. Rau and Whitey are thinking about continuing their travels anyway.
[We’ve completely stayed here too long, and we were originally headed for the southern lands anyway.]
Since before I’ve said that I’d get lonely without them around, and I was expecting to part with them at some point. In addition, if they stayed at this mountain any longer it would probably be dangerous. I think it’s a wise decision. However, with them here it would be fine somehow, but when they leave it could instead become dangerous for Saus to live here.
When humans enter the mountains, they might cause harm to the other animals living here. I often encounter the corpses of deer killed for food and bears with only their claws removed.
And not only animals, there have been humans attacking lost girls, too. Since it irritated me I turned all of them into charcoal.
A rabbit is probably the best thing a human can catch for food. It seems they use the pelt to make clothes and accessories too. Even though that fluffiness only have meaning when they are alive.
That night, I thought. I thought and thought.
As long as those subjugation squads don’t defeat me, they will probably keep coming. So far they have been nothing but miscellaneous collections of mercenaries, but as their numbers increase they might be replaced with a squad of knights under the direct command of the kingdom. Even more horrible would be if they decided to burn down the mountain, which is something humans might decide to do.
Either way I feel that I can’t stay much longer in this mountain.
I must find some other safe place to live, but I who have lived my entire life in this mountain have never been out in the world. If I meet something more terrifying than myself out there, I might die.
Let think. Where is the most safe place?
If I want to fool my enemies, start with my allies.
If I want to hide a tree, within a forest.
In that case, if I want to hide a dragon, it should be with other dragons? No! Dragons are ferocious is what I heard. A dragon that you can reach through speech like me is quite rare according to Rau.
―――That’s right! I forgot the most fundamental important matter.
That is, to hide “me”―――
There is only one answer.
If one wants to hide me, then place me “among humans”.
Before I became a dragon, I was a lone human.
That night, I left my cot and went to the not very far away stream. Saus and the others are probably soundly asleep. The reason I left now was to make sure of that. I sat down in a deep pool in the stream. A white dragons face was reflected upon the waters surface. I never got tired of watching my splendid scales. I’m no narcissist, but I’m fond of them.
But if I’m to hide among humans, then I can’t keep the form of a dragon. However, I wonder if I can take the form of a human. Other animals don’t have magical power so they can’t use magic, but I live by eating magical power so maybe I can use it, is what I thought.
But I don’t know how to use it.
I don’t remember how I looked when I still was a human, so who’s shape should I take and such.
Now that I think of it, that village girl sure was cute. Was she her chestnut colored, ending in two buns? Her face was ordinary, but her skin was a healthy suntanned color, and her pupils were slightly quiet but a blue clear color about the same as this spring which gave a good impression. Wait, that’s not something I who ate her should say, huh.
―――Okay, lets try becoming her.
If I don’t try, nothing will happen. I closed my eyes and brought her physical appearance to mind.
I imagined myself wrapped in a high and slim deep crimson dress.
Chestnut hair with two buns with healthy suntanned skin, quiet blue eyes. Voice is cute but a slightly boyish soprano alto.
And lastly, a human who has received the protection of all kinds of spirits.
Even though it was a year ago, I still clearly remember her. As expected, it’s probably because she’s the first human I ate.
When I slowly opened my eyelids, the shape of a smiling girl was reflected on the water in front of me. The next moment it changed to a surprised expression, but I realized that it was my own reflection.
The hands in the pool were without questions the hands of a human. They were the hands of a still growing young woman. When I touched my face it was not covered with a single scale, and the skin was smooth. I looked once more at the shape on the water’s surface to make sure.
[Wow. I really became a human.]
The voice was also that of a human.
I was still unused to the voice so it felt itchy. Standing up and walking also seemed like it’d be difficult, but because of my memories as a human I got used to it after a few minutes.
[Ah-, ah-, yup. Which reminds me, this is how it feels to talk, huh.]
My words were as expected translated into japanese in my brain, but it proved no hurdle for speaking.
Since I became happy upon turning into a human, I began running around in the stream, and since I got a new lower viewpoint, it felt fresh.
I wonder if I can become other humans too? I attempted becoming different humans, but it seems like I can only turn into those I’ve eaten. And if I don’t clearly remember their appearance it seems it won’t work.
However, only turning into her is already a great harvest. Like this I won’t stick out when I try to blend in among humans.
Who would think that this village girl is a dragon?
Feeling slightly eccentric I began to giggle, whereupon I noticed that the sun was about to rise.
The morning sure came quickly today. I haven’t slept a wink but I’m not the least bit tired.
I thought to wake Saus and the others, but they were already up.
They had noticed that I was gone and kept calling my name. I’m thankful that I could still understand them even under my human guise.
When I called his name, he turned to face me. I hugged the rabbit who hardened in surprise upon seeing me, cowering my face with his fluffy fur.
No good, this fluffiness becoming a habit!
The smell of grass and the warmth of the sun tickled my nose. Saus was still frozen and was looking up at me.
[Saus, you’re cruel, it’s me.
I brought his soft fur to my face one more time, rubbing our cheeks together.
[Eh? Vito? Why have you turned into a huuman?]
[When I thought I wanted to become one, I became one.]
While we were talking, Rau and Whitey came rushing over. They were cautious when they saw my appearance , but when they understood it was me they both of them stared at me slack jawed, which looked hilarious.
[I thought since I live on magical power that I could use magic aswell. This is the result. What do you think, isn’t it awesome?]
[It’s awesome but…were you always female?]
Rau looked so suspicious that it was funny.
[Well, this is the shape of one of the humans I ate. But in any case, even when I was a dragon I was still a female. Huh, could it be that you didn’t know?]
[Rau didn’t know!?]
[As if I know how to determine the gender of dragons!]
[Even though you’re both female!!]
Whitey threw an earthshattering bomb. Eh? Rau is female? A woman? A girl?…I was certain she was a man though…
[I don’t want to hear that from a useless male!]
Rau also threw a bomb.
… Whitey is a male? A man? He was a boy?
In short, I’ve been thinking of them as the opposite gender. I don’t get animals.
Incidentally, I’m assured that Saus is a boy. What a relief.
Before those two start their lover’s quarrel again I should divert the conversation.
But Saus is so fluffy. I’ve never seen him at so close a distance before, but his pink nose is always twitching which is so cute.
[Let’s leave that aside, I’ve got a favor I want to ask you two.]
Their look when they tilt their head, saying “Favor?” is also too cute.
[You’ll resume your travels in the near future, right? I wish you to take Saus with you if you can.]
[And why is that?]
The most surprised is Saus. His drooping ears with a start, straightened out.
[The reason why I tried to become a human, is because I want to try blending in with the human world. I think that as it is now I’m causing problems for the animals living here and for the mountain itself. I thought about searching for a different place to live, but I think I’ll fit just fine in human society. Even with me gone the subjugation squads will probably keep coming, and Saus will be in danger. That’s why I want you to take him with you.]
[If you’re exposed it will get dangerous!]
This rabbit is more worried about me than where he’s going himself. I gently stroked my small friend. The truth is that the best for Saus would be to return to his rabbit flock. But if he did that he would stay on this mountain. I’d like to avoid that as long as it is dangerous here. I thought about taking him with me, but that would be difficult.
I thought about traveling with them, but since I eat humans, I think it’d cause problems for them. That’s why I decided that I’m not going with them.
[Will you allow my selfish request?]
Cute red eyes looked at me. My precious friend who shared my red and white colors. If he didn’t live in this mountain, I’d probably not have handled living here.
[Because I’m sure we’ll meet again, someday.]
I did not say I’d go to meet them. Because I can’t guarantee that I will be able to. But I’m sure that someday we’ll meet again. I believe that.
Saus was silent for a while, before opening his small pink mouth and in his familiar voice purring.
[That is what Vito thought, yes…If so then I am fine with that. I also do not want to become a burden to Vito… Also, also visiting many places sounds like it would be fun!]
[Saus… Thank you.]
I buried my face in his soft fur, gently hugging him. I could feel his somewhat fast heartbeat which made me happy.
[Oi, oi, aren’t you forgetting us?]
I forgot about the both of them.
[Isn’t it fine? Saus is so tiny that you wouldn’t even notice if he rode on your back!]
[It’s been decided that I’m gonna carry him, huh.]
Rau sighed, but saying [It can’t be helped, huh.] she seemed to agree. I don’t need to mention that Whitey was eager about it having Saus joining them from the start.
Yet, a raven, a wolf and a rabbit… What an unbalanced combination.
[Rau, Whitey, thank you. Thank you too Saus, for listening to my selfishness.]
I am selfish.
Even though there are lots of other animals on this mountain, I won’t save anyone but the precious life in front of me.
I’m fine with being called unfair. I’m also fine with others talking badly about me.
Because I’m a base and ferocious dragon.