Chapter Two

The Dragon

(Part 3)

 

Ilya returned to her room on the third floor, taking down the barrier.

Dragons ate pure magic, that is, magical power.

There were two ways to send it magical power. The first way was to mix magical power with body fluids like blood (this is what dragon’s milk does), the second was to apply it with support magic.

Though she would immediately recover when wounded, Ilya didn’t like seeing blood so she chose the latter.

“—Red spirits of power, rage from the abyss. Sharpen what is hard, deepen what is soft. Give power to this person—”

Physical ability (brute strength, leg strength, and explosive strength’s overall value) were strengthened by this fire-type support magic.

“—Reinforce.”

“Pi!?”

Fed magical power from Ilya, the hatchling’s body completely filled with magical power. Then, the elements inside the hatchling’s body interfered with the magic.

(Nn? … Ah, I see.)

Ilya had completely forgotten.

The cause for the hatchling to hatch. It was—

(Probably because I used the healing magic Healing Light.)

The amount of elements collected due to Healing Light was probably enough for the hatchling to have absorbed.

Still, the Tekyrareru Desert that the Heavenly Palace drifted to was where the Crystal Pillar of Fire was. Guessing by that, the Heavenly Palace likely went there to absorb elements of fire.

“Kepu—”

The hatchling, unable to continue eating the magical power, stopped and leaned against her. Just then, there was a knock at her door.

“Ilya, are you good for a moment?”

“Ah, branch manager. By all means.”

Restoring her barrier and opening the door, she invited Frank inside.

“I roughly heard about it from Ria… It really is a dragon’s child.”

“Though it’s hard to talk about, there’s something I need to tell you.”

“I don’t mind.”

“This child is the dragon god’s offspring.”

“…”

(Ah, he’s holding his head.)

Understanding the situation the branch was in from those few words, his intelligence became his enemy.

Ilya decided to wait for him to settle down by stroking the hatchling, but it didn’t take him much time to recover.

“… You’re certain?”

“Yes. One hundred percent.”

“I see… What should we do?”

Hmm, she gave a gesture as though she were thinking.

Should she go to the dragon god’s Heavenly Palace and return it after all? There was only two ways to get there though.

The first would be to fly there with wind-type magic, another would be to borrow the strength of summoners or animal trainers.

If it were the latter she’d have no choice but to hold a ritual at the dragon king’s shrine. Since performing the ritual at the shrine was originally to beg for rain, it wouldn’t give a good impression for the dragon god. In that case—

“There’s no choice but to go and return it.”

“Put out a commission as the guild?”

“That’s right… I’d want the people who found it to bring it there since they are the ones responsible, but…”

“They’re still unconscious, huh.”

“Yes. There’s also the possibility that they brought it without knowing it was the dragon god’s egg, too. I can’t say anything without hearing their side of the story.”

While they were having a serious conversation, the hatchling snuggled up to her while playing with its tail. Attempting to set it down, she leaned forward, but it gripped her firmly and wouldn’t let go.

“… It looks like it’s a good idea to leave the problem of taking care of the child to Ilya.”

“… It seems that way. I understand.”

When she gently stroked its head, it narrowed its eyes in comfort.

Ilya stared outside the window, letting out a single sigh.

A horse was dancing in the air, with scale-like fur and a single heroic horn.


 

In order to take care of the hatchling, Ilya was temporarily exempted from reception and kitchen duties.

(… Ah, what a pure-white working environment.)

Though Ilya was impressed by the fact she was given leave for child-care, she braced herself and opened the door to the office.

In order to avoid excessive risks, she avoided falling behind on developments.

Desiree called out to her before Ilya even asked.

“Ah, Ilya-chan. I figured out where those three accepted the commission.”

“Thank you very much. As expected of Desiree-san. You work quickly.”

“I’m happy to be praised by Ilya-chan. Well, those three accepted the commission from the Shivarémis branch. The town to the southeast of Filéamis.”

“Do you know who the client was?”

“Of course. The commission was issued by someone from the trade guild in the Shivarémis branch. The contents of the commission was a Filéahound in the forest to the east of Shivarémis.”

Speaking of the forest to the east of Shivarémis, it was famous for cultivating its heat resistant special product, oranges. It was no wonder that the trade guild sent out a commission to protect their product ahead of the stingy agriculture guild.

What Ilya thought incomprehensible was why those three purposely went to Lunéville with that commission.

(… In the end, there’s no progress to be made without speaking to the people in question, huh?)

“Pi~…”

Turning her gaze to the tiny voice, the hatchling’s legs were paddling in the air.

(Sleeping?)

Holding the hatchling in her arms, Ilya bowed her head to Desiree.

“Desiree-san, thank you for helping me with your precious time.”

“No, no. I’m willing to help you whenever.”

Though Ilya’s hierarchical relationship to her in the workplace was lower, Desiree didn’t appear to care about such things as she waved her hands. Ilya let out a sigh for her workplace that was filled with such tolerant people, returning to her room on the third floor.

As she was gently brushing the hatchling laid on the bed, a knock sounded at the door. Considering the speed and strength of the knocks, she guessed it wasn’t anything urgent.

In fact, she didn’t see anything like impatience or discomfort in Elizah’s expression when she opened the door at like.

“Ilya, they’re waking up.”

“Un, I understand. I’ll be there soon.”

Standing up while holding the hatchling in her arms, she bent down to let it onto the bed. However, the hatchling still held on, absolutely refusing to separate from Ilya.

Reluctantly heading to the private room on the second floor while holding the hatchling, the otter beastkin was the only one awake.

When Ilya entered the room and bowed once, Frank immediately started the questioning.

“Do you hurt anywhere?”

“… No… where is—”

“This is Lunéville.”

“Lunéville…?”

The beastkin knit his brows in puzzlement.

“Aren’t you the one that came here?”

“Yes, I… r-right! Gaul and Ruben!?”

The otter beastkin, Teemo, raised his body in order to jump up.

“Please be at ease. Their wounds have also been healed. They’re just resting right now.”

“Is that… so… Thank you.”

His strength left him when he heard they were safe. Frank shook his head towards Teemo bowing his head deeply.

“Don’t worry about it. I want to hear something apart from that. Where did you obtain the dragon egg?”

“Dragon…? That was a dragon egg!?”

Teemo’s eyes widened in surprise.

“Did you move it without realizing?”

Teemo hesitatingly nodded towards Frank’s somewhat puzzled question.

“… Yeah… After finding it, we were going to try and return to Willville to complete the commission. Since it was an egg we hadn’t seen before, we thought it might get bought at a high price.”

“What was its surroundings like?”

“Surroundings, huh…?”

Teemo kept his mouth shut as he thought for Ilya’s question.

Since he was overthinking it, she helped him out.

“Something like where the egg fell on the ground, the weather… anything that you can remember.”

“… The area, I don’t think there was anything in particular about it… ah, no, since it fell in a place that didn’t look like a nest, we thought it was strange. As for the weather… sunny, no, maybe a little cloudy…”

“That’s enough. Thank you for the help.”

When Ilya bowed her head, Frank resumed his questioning.

“It might be painful to remember… but were you attacked after that?”

“Yeah…”

“Did you see what it looked like?”

“Yes. It was a horse that grew a horn. Its fur was distinctive… it looked like scales.”

Teemo’s words troubled Ilya, but she didn’t act on it since she was holding the hatchling.

A horse that had scales and a horn could only be a Qilin. [2]

(What is it doing in a place like this.)

She knew one was in the skies above Rondéville, but she thought it was here to look for the hatchling. However, hearing Teemo’s story, there were many contradictions.

“Did the horse do this to all of you?”

She continued to listen in.

“No. Though it chased us, we were able to escape while barely dodging its attacks. We got injured after that.”

“Were you attacked by another horse?”

“No… it was a person.”

Frank’s tension increased. If someone was aiming for the egg, that person was probably trying to anger the dragon god. Being stressed was natural.

“Did you see the person?”

“… No, it was a surprise attack, so I couldn’t see much.”

“… You did well to not lose the egg.”

“That’s because we barely understood that the enemy avoided attacking the egg…”

Taking advantage of their opponent’s intentions, they successfully lead the attacks. Making such a wise decision in a situation of life and death, Ilya sincerely admired them.

“After that, we were only able to run towards the walls we saw…”

“Is that so. You worked hard.”

Though Frank sent a glance to Ilya as he replied to him, she had nothing, returning him a nod filled with meaning.

“Sorry you had to wake up so soon. Take care of yourself.”

“Ah, yeah… Really, thank you so much.”

“No, you’re the one to thank. Defending the dragon god’s egg, I give you my heartfelt gratitude.”

Hearing that it was the dragon god’s egg, Teemo’s face paled.

Even if they didn’t want to be involved in something so awe-inspiring, it was decent consideration.

If the three people were thinking about the egg’s protection, they likely would have conveyed their intentions first.

Even so, a respectable person wouldn’t have released the egg and place themselves above all else.

(I don’t know if it’s too sudden… but with those three attacked, maybe I should think about its goal?)

Ilya sorted through the information they’d just gained.

“Take care of yourself.”

“Pi.”

The hatchling made a sound along with Ilya’s bow.

Not that the hatchling understood it had received his protection. However, thinking that the hatchling gave its thanks, even though Teemo was embarrassed he felt his mood lighten up.

Meanwhile, Frank and Ilya left the room and moved to the parlor on the third floor.

“It looks like we escaped the worst-case scenario.”

“It does, doesn’t it.”

Ilya gave Frank’s weighty murmur the affirmative. What would the worst-case scenario have been? The dragon god’s anger mercilessly befalling upon everyone.

“What are your thoughts.”

“It might take a little while. I’ll prepare some tea.”

“Ah, alright.”

Her leisurely behavior helped to ease Frank’s tension.

As for Ilya, it was neither resignation nor bravado that she was taking her time. She knew that it wouldn’t help to rush.

Pouring the tea from the teapot into a cup, she placed it on a saucer and passed it to Frank.

Seeing Frank settle down from smelling its fragrance, Ilya began explaining.

“Does branch manager know where the dragon god lives?”

“No, I don’t.”

“The dragon god lives on an island that floats in the sky, called the Heavenly Palace.”

“An island that floats…?”

“In the center of the island is a gigantic Crystal Pillar of Wind.”

That the crystal pillar fell and was stolen, with Ilya becoming a wife candidate for the dragon god when she retrieved it for her deed… she left that out, continuing to speak without adding such a superfluous thing.

“So, my first thought was that the egg fell from the Heavenly Palace.”

“Then how did the egg end up safe? … Ah, did you hear about the area?”

“Yes. Even if some power came into play, I don’t believe it would be able to land safely without exerting some influence on the surroundings.”

Even if it didn’t make a crater, something similar should have happened. Still, the possibility that the Heavenly Palace was related after hearing about the weather was low.

“When the Heavenly Palace is in the sky overhead, it just looks like a huge rain cloud from the outside and can’t be seen. It’s not weather that could be mistaken for sunny or cloudy.”

“Then there’s no possibility that it fell…”

“Correct. It’s likely that it was carried to that ground.

Thus, Ilya had an idea of who the perpetrator was.

“Why would they bring the egg to the ground?”

“Though I don’t know why, at the very least I don’t think it holds any ill intent towards the egg.”

“Why?”

“Though they mentioned a horned horse with scales, that horse is called a qilin.”

“Keerin…?”

“Yes. It’s called a mythical beast, the dragon god’s kin.”

What was a mythical beast? The kin of a god. Their existences weren’t entirely confirmed and though they were generally descendants of gods like the dragon god and Demon God, they sometimes resulted from crossbreeding between difference species.

As for the qilin, it was the child produced from breeding between the dragon god and a horse beastkin. Possessing the same horn and scales as a dragon and a lot of magical power due to its dragon element, its appearance was similar to the dragon god and beastkin.

“Due to it having a benevolent disposition, so long as it doesn’t get driven into a dangerous situation, it will not try to harm others. Rather, it would sooner hurt itself than injure an enemy.”

“Then why were they attacked by a mythical beast like that?”

“It was probably just pretending to attack.”

Frank’s expression was saying he didn’t understand. However, seeming to realize it by himself immediately after, his brows furrowed deeply.

“… Why in Lunéville…”

Not even Ilya knew if it guided it here. No, it was more correct to say that she didn’t want to know.

Surely the dragon god didn’t want an outsider like Ilya to raise his child. She didn’t want to think he was the same as that water dragon.

“However, who were those people that attacked them afterwards…?”

“I don’t know. However, I’m certain that they were acting on different intentions than the qilin.”

There was the possibility it was bringing the egg to Lunéville in order for Ilya to protect the egg from its enemies as well.

However, in that case, why was the egg taken away from the Heavenly Palace in the first place? She couldn’t understand its motives. Did something happen in the Heavenly Palace?

Considering how the dragon god doted on the qilin and his other kin, she didn’t think the dragon god would be disgusted at the hatchling. But considering that there could be enemies inside the Heavenly Palace, the dragon god wouldn’t leave something like that alone.

(… Not enough information as expected, then?)

With her current information, she couldn’t determine the truth.

“In any case, if we assume the qilin purposely brought it to the ground, we can’t just return it to the Heavenly Palace.”

“Right. It’d be easy if we could get the truth from the qilin and the people who attacked them though.”

“It won’t go so well as that huh?”

“But, maybe we will manage to before long.”

“Is that so? … Got it. Is there anything I can do to help?”

“Well…”

Ilya thought for a moment for Frank’s offer.

“This evening, is Rachelle taking the reception desk?”

“Yeah, she is.”

“Then, could you tell her to bring a meal here in the evening? I almost certainly won’t be able to go anywhere at that time since I’ll be looking after the hatchling.”

“That’s all?”

“Yes.”

Nodding while gently petting the hatchling, she was stared at by its clear blue eyes. The stifling atmosphere was swept away when the hatchling rolled about, causing Ilya to smile.

“Well then, how about going for a walk?”

“Pi!”

Still acting in an easygoing manner, Ilya bowed to Frank, still drained of energy from the situation, before walking out of the branch with the hatchling.


 

[Hunt the horse with the mentioned features in that area and seize its egg. Eliminate anyone who knows of the egg’s existence without exception.]

Those were the instructions they’d received this time.

Though finding that horse with the information from the suspicious man that called himself Catoh was going well, the wind changed when they encountered a human man on the way.

That’s because in the next moment, that man transformed into a yellow-scaled sea snake with a single horn and attacked them.

Though its powerful body and water magic made it a close fight, its enemies successfully gave it the slip. However, being unable to find Catoh, it would take them time to find the egg again.

When they finally found the egg, instead of seeing the horse in its surroundings there were instead three beastkin.

Surmising the three’s strength, they judged it wouldn’t be a hindrance to their mission.

In fact, they held the advantage of their combat potential increasing in the darkness and by decentralizing their forces. Handling it the same way they’d used for their assassinations until now, they quietly and quickly moved in to handle their targets.

However, there was one thing different from their normal orders this time.

That was the egg. They were not to harm it.

They were unaccustomed to the constraint of not being able to break it. As a result, they weren’t able to kill the three people.

Therefore, they were now in front of the guild association’s Lunéville branch.

“Bard, there.”

The youth named Bard looked to where the beastkin woman pointed.

Looking ahead, a dragon hatchling was tottering in front of a girl.

With the information they’d procured beforehand, considering its unusually white skin, there was no mistaking that it came from the egg.

However, Bard’s gaze wasn’t on the hatchling. It was glued to the girl walking.

“—…!”

It was suspicious to continue watching someone. Thinking that as he forcibly stopped looking at her, he realized that sweat was beading on his back.

“… Bard, what’s wrong?”

“… It’s nothing.”

Right. It was nothing.

Though those three from before were likely stronger than him, with his area of expertise… it wasn’t a problem to go for assassinations.

Then what did he sense just now?

Was he fascinated by her beauty?

He denied the possibility, thinking it ridiculous. A human that had such upright emotions had no place on being something like an assassin.

“What do we do?”

Bard switched his train of thought to the problem at hand at her question.

Even if they did nothing else, they had to fulfill their orders. Seize the egg, kill anyone involved, that’s all. If the intelligence about the egg hatching turned out true, they would already be unable to achieve their goals, but they would at least seize the hatchling and take it back.

“… First, we need to investigate whether or not that hatchling came from the egg.”

“Got it.”

His partner readily accepting it, Bard exhaled slightly.

“Katie, you go back to the branch and keep watch for if that elf returns with the dragon hatchling.”

“Got it. And you?”

“I’ll be gathering more information from around town.”

“Got it.”

Since becoming his partner, Katie had never second guessed Bard’s decisions.

Rather than leaving the decision-making to him, it was more like she abandoned making decisions entirely.

With a facial expression lacking any emotions, she gave up thinking. When he met her, she was already like that.

“… Tch.”

Clicking his tongue in irritation, he proceeded to walk through Lunéville.

After finishing his investigations, Bard reunited with Katie.

Though it was called an investigation, with Bard’s sociable disposition, he just listened to residents’ conversations while walking through the town.

Putting together the stories he’d heard, the hatchling had hatched from the egg as expected. Currently, that elf girl had become the hatchling’s parent.

“How’d it go?”

“The child elf returned with the hatchling.”

“Got it. Let’s head into the branch.”

Of course, their objective wasn’t to get something to eat.

It was to find out where the hatchling usually rested if things went well.

However, Bird thought that even if it didn’t go so perfectly, it would still be helpful to reference with the information he’d gained from the town.

You could only trust things you see with your own eyes, after all. That was the rule he’d learned from living this long.

“Welcome.”

The voice of girls reached their ears.

After roughly surveying the first floor, he saw neither the elf girl nor the hatchling. While wondering if he’d chosen to look in the wrong place, two beastkin girls approached them.

“Are you here for a meal?”

“Yeah.”

A black panther beastkin and a black cat beastkin.

Not changing their expressions at the curt response, the beastkin girls showed the two to open seats at the counter.

Though he didn’t want the staff to remember his face, it would have stood out to reject.

Sitting down obediently, he appropriately ordered a meal from the menu.

Bard asked for what caught his eyes, while Katie just asked for the same thing. Katie’s expression didn’t change when she looked at the menu, nor when the dishes arrived.

However, when she put the food in her mouth—

“So good…”

She smiled slightly. Bard definitely saw it happen.

His mind slowed by the surprise, he was unable to come up with anything good to say in response. Eventually—

“… Is that so?”

Just that. Holding back his irritation at such an uncontrolled situation, Bard dipped his spoon into the dish, bringing some to his mouth.

“… It’s good.”

Not even realizing he said anything, the two just continued to silently eat their food.

 

 

 

 

But he never forgot about his mission.

He continued to listen to conversations. They ended up being of little importance and followed along with what he’d heard outside, though.

Just when he began to think it was useless and give up, that man appeared.

“Rachelle.”

“Ah, Frank-san. Good morning.”

Frank Deshan.

Lunéville branch’s branch manager, a specialist in close combat. Also excelling in insight and leadership, he was added to the list of characters to be wary of by the organization. His pressuring atmosphere and stable center of gravity testified to his ability.

Probably due to his instinctive vigilance, he spontaneously became aware of Frank and focused on him.

If he was there, they needed to hurriedly secure the hatchling.

Though Bard was thinking that—

“Did you hear? Ilya is completely taken up by a hatchling~”

“… Yeah.”

“Well, that was pretty indifferent~. It’s no fun if you don’t give more of a reaction you know~”

“I’m not a toy.”

Watching him tease the receptionist who had a cramped expression, he didn’t think that was a person they needed to be vigilant of.

“Anyway, Rachelle. Ilya seems to be tied up by taking care of the hatchling, so please bring a meal to her room.”

“Eh? Me? I’m fine with it but…”

“Ilya nominated you. In the meantime, I’ll fill in.”

Rachelle sighed.

“Frank-san, I think Ilya pushed you away.”

“Uu…”

She struck a nerve. He was at a loss for words.

“Well, Ilya is strangely serious though, so she might just want to keep the pecking order clear.”

“…”

“A little lonely, isn’t it?”

Rachelle left the reception counter behind with those words.

Frank and the remaining receptionist were left wrapped in a mood difficult to speak in.

“I think she didn’t want you to do it because she didn’t trust you in her room…”

“Clarice… that’s…”

“What Rachelle said, didn’t it make some sense?”

“… I know…”

With that, the two people at the counter stopped their idle talk and handled their reception duties.

As for Bard, he wasn’t interested in the internal relationships in the branch at all. However, it became clear that the hatchling was being sheltered in the branch. Referring to a rough sketch of the inside of the branch, his target would be on the third floor.

Judging by the staffs’ conversation, Frank wouldn’t be in Ilya’s room.

“Tonight, we sneak in.”

Exiting the branch, Bard informed Katie so.

 

 

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Footnotes:
  • A Qilin, also written as Kirin, is a mythical chimera between a dragon and a horse originating from Far-East Asian mythology. Return

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