Having entered the uninhabited Veluun, the two people received some eggs from a guild member dispatched from the royal capital.
It was different from Haku’s that they’d seen before, it was around the size of a basketball and was gray.
“The flying dragons?”
Toward Bard’s question, the guild member nodded.
“According to the plan, they came here thanks to seeing the eggs. By the estimation, they should arrive at Veluun before dawn tomorrow.”
“Understood. Leave the rest to us.”
“Yeah, good luck you two.”
After nodding to the guild member that clapped his shoulder, Bard and Katie checked their equipment before trying to get some rest to recover their endurance.
Then, in the dark of the night, the two began to mobilize.
Katie went ahead into the forest, inciting the flying dragons around the nest. While confirming that all of the flying dragons were pursuing her with [Presence Inference], Katie took out a fire stone from her breast pocket.
It was something that was produced from the crystal pillar of fire, and by using the fire elements contained within it various phenomena could be induced.
Like a substitute lighter, or used for practical heating if it was a bit bigger.
The effect of the stone Katie held was to emit an intense light for a very short period of time. By throwing it into the air, it could be used as a signalling bullet.
Seeing the signal, Bard, who was on standby in another direction of the forest, began his movements.
Of course, so that flying dragons and other monsters wouldn’t notice him, he moved covertly through [Presence Interception].
Even monsters with keen senses wouldn’t be able to find him so long as he didn’t mess up because of his skill.
Although he was shouldering three eggs on his back, Bard continued forward without losing his footing on the multitude of tree branches and roots. Before long, he arrived at a large enshrinement made from many collected broken trees. He’d finally reached the flying dragons’ nest.
After placing the eggs into the center of the nest, he immediately withdrew.
Bard, who had retreated to a distance away from the nest where the flying dragons wouldn’t sense him even if they returned, poured his magical power into a fire stone, throwing it high into the sky and above the treetops.
Noticing the twinkling flash in the sky, Katie invoked a weak magic towards the flying dragons.
She once again guided the flying dragons, who had been lured from their nest, back to it.
If she went too far ahead, the flying dragons might stop chasing her, so she couldn’t lose focus.
Ever since storming into the forest, she had avoided areas with monsters and huge creatures with [Presence Inference], leading the flying dragons while making delicate changes to her course.
But just then, leafs fluttered down from overhead.
Those leafs each turned into two right in front of her.
At that instant, her [Presence Inference] immediately informed her of the presence of monsters nearby.
To be exact, they were moths, not butterflies. A monster named the rondlith moth. The moths’ trait was that they lay in wait for prey while mimicking leafs by using [Seclusion], a derivation skill of [Presence Interception]. After immobilizing their prey alive with their poison, they would turn them into seedbeds.
The moths started flying, the poison stuck to them scattering into the air.
Her legs, her body, wouldn’t move how she wanted.
She was light-headed. There was no one nearby to rely on. However, she thought.
What means of escape could she use to survive?
Looking around her, grasping her situation, she thought about the best route to take.
Her body felt heavy, the air stifling such that it wouldn’t enter her lungs no matter how hard she breathed.
Even so, she thought.
(She said, I can do it…)
Ilya said if it were her, she could do it. She judged so.
Ilya’s words were like a warmth that seemed to protect Katie.
And so, a resolute light shone in the eyes of this woman who wouldn’t give up hope.
Her primary weapon was a dagger specialized for throwing and close-quarters combat.
Although she didn’t have enough to fully take care of the rondlith moth, she still had many. If it was just to open up a route, there would be no problem.
With that resolute light… in order to meet up with him, she had to open up an escape route.
Katie sliced away several of them with her dagger, breaking through the encirclement by creating an opening even though she was staggering.
Immediately after that, fire arrows loosed by Bard poured down onto the mass of moths.
Katie kept moving her body side to side, invoking the low class wind magic, Aeropressure.
A wind welled up in the center of the mass, carrying the flames and burning the mass of moths, blowing them away.
Having rushed over to her, Bard chanted the detoxification magic Antidote, removing the poison that was affecting Katie.
However, thanks to being strapped for time, they dashed away.
As a side effect of being forced to stay still by the moths, the flying dragons had caught up.
The flying dragons caught up to Bard, who was inferior in speed, letting loose breaths that were compressed air.
Although he just barely dodged, the breaths slammed into the ground and exploded into multiple shock waves.
Regaining his balance, though still staggering a little, the two had tacitly understood their respective roles and took off in separate directions.
Bard gradually strengthened his [Presence Interception] while devoting himself to running. Oppositely, while steadily increasing her distance from Bard, Katie fired magic towards the flying dragons, drawing their attention.
By the time Katie’s magical power was almost entirely exhausted, virtually all of the flying dragons were concentrating on her.
Convinced that his [Presence Interception] was functioning perfectly, Bard, who had withdrawn, changed directions in a dash.
Katie also increased her speed, and while staying outside of their attack range, guided the flying dragons to their nest straight away.
Then the flying dragons, who discovered the eggs in the nest, lost sight of Katie who was running away at her top speed. Since their focus shifted fully onto the defense and safety of the eggs, she was able to successfully break away from them.
“… Haah, thank goodness.”
Finished seeing the particulars, Ilya let out a sigh of relief.
Cutting off [Clairvoyance], she patted Haku’s head.
The two were free from now on. It was uncouth to try and keep an eye on them.
To say nothing of their salaries from working at the branch, in truth she also transferred this commission’s reward into their accounts. They’d likely be astonished by the number in their accounts, but this was a justifiable reward for their final lesson.
(… I wonder if they’ll be upset that I tricked them?)
Katie aside, Bard’s angry appearance floated in her mind.
Several days later.
The lunch congestion ended and the association branch recovered a little presence of mind.
This was natural, as Katie wasn’t in the dining hall nor was Bard at the counter.
If she was honest, she wanted to raise their [Speech Skill] and other skills.
To Ilya’s thinking expression—
Haku licked her to try and comfort her.
Ilya couldn’t judge if Haku’s growth was proceeding smoothly since she didn’t know how long it took for dragons to reach maturity, but she felt the small wings that grew on its back weren’t that far away from it being able to fly.
(So that he flies properly, maybe I should also go and fly together with him?)
While she thought about such a thing, Ria, who had just arrived, made an appearance.
“Ilya, Hector-san’s calling for you. He said he wants you to come to his mansion.”
“Understood. I’ll wait for you to change into uniform.”
When Hector called for her without Frank, it was usually for something commission-related. Thinking about it, she wondered if it was because the amount of monsters didn’t decrease at all?
The registration cards she made for Bard and Katie shouldn’t be a problem since they could make proper decisions, and it shouldn’t have anything to do with her ignoring the dragon god that periodically tried to get in touch with her.
While thinking about a variety of non-commission related things, she came back to Ria who had finished changing into her uniform.
“Thanks for waiting~. What about Haku?”
“Haku, do you want to stay here?”
He clung onto her and wouldn’t let go.
“Ahaha, it looks like that’s a definite no. See you soon.”
“Un. I’m off.”
Ilya and Haku left the branch. While gazing at the townscape’s construction progressing, she headed towards the lord’s mansion.
It seems that it was completely forgotten after they got used to him, but at first many of the people who came for the construction and such feared Haku. However, nowadays they were completely used to him.
It was already winter. While walking outside, the dry wind that blew down from the Loa Mountain Range would snatch one’s body temperature.
Although that was something irrelevant to Ilya, who defended herself with a barrier, Haku was still not at the point of being able to manipulate air and didn’t have a means of defending himself.
She held Haku, who was stirring as though he was a bit cold.
The lord’s mansion looked the same as before. Although there were talks about newly rebuilding it in this redevelopment as well, Hector rejected it by saying it was unnecessary.
Although she would usually ask one of the gatekeeper soldiers if Hector was in, this time a maid was standing in front of the gate.
“We’ve been expecting you, Ilya-sama.”
“Good morning, Sibyl-san.”
Her hair was both light brown and black and her skin dark brown. She was a German shepherd-type beastkin with erect, tapered ears. Guided by Sibyl, she walked through the mansion’s hallway.
Many of the furnishings were gorgeous. As for why they didn’t seem to match Hector’s reliable impression, that’s because they were to the previous lord’s tastes. It seemed that he’d decided to keep them to sell in case of emergencies. Hearing such a story, one could easily accept it as Hector’s benevolence.
“You arrived quick, Ilya.”
“It was nothing.”
She was guided into the mansion’s parlor. The moment she entered the room, Ilya guessed the reason she was called for. There was another man waiting in the room.
“Long time no see, Ilya.”
“It’s been a while. I didn’t think that I would be meeting the country’s prime minister here. Surely you aren’t alone?”
While making the sarcastic remark with Haku still in her arms, the man gave a deeply wry smile.
“If I took my knights for a walk, surely it would just prove the height of my position right?”
This man was the Prime Minister of Rondéville Kingdom, Luciano Conti. As a half elf that had been managing the country’s government for two generations, it wasn’t an exaggeration to say that Rondéville prospered as a nation of many races thanks to him.
“Truly though, I wish the king would have been here as well. But as expected, the throne can’t be left open.”
“Ilya, why are you standing around talking? Take a seat.”
Hesitant to reject him, Ilya sat obediently and listened to what the prime minister had to say.
“First is the report. The eggs safely returned to the nest, it appears the flying dragons have successfully returned as well.”
“Thank goodness. I can finally feel relieved.”
Contradicting Ilya that appeared to be relieved, the prime minister’s expression was dull.
“Although we were also relieved, an unrelated matter immediately appeared.”
Pausing his words there, he leaned back against the backrest. This was something characteristic to him, it meant he felt helpless.
“… An ice dragon appears to be heading towards Rondéville.” 
Hector’s hand went to his mouth. As expected, it was designated as calamity-class. It was a fact that had to be accepted.
“Has Akradist not considered any countermeasures?”
“As expected of Ilya, you’re well informed. So long as there is no personal damage to them, they seem to be leaving it alone.”
Akradist’s response couldn’t be blamed since it had left for Rondéville. There was a possibility that it would turn its attention to them if it was handled poorly and, with its insufficient harvest to send out its army, would have to send out a subjugation commission through the guild if they failed. It was sometimes necessary to endure things like this.
“With that, we will also pay careful attention to this.”
“It’s good that we heard about this so soon. It’s a small mercy the harvest season has already passed. Even if it approaches settlements to some degree, people should be able to take refuge. Each of the major cities should prepare to accept evacuees.”
“Yes. That will certainly be done.”
Even though it wasn’t yet complete, Lunéville was already shaping up as an inn town. It was also a former military foothold, so that should increase its sense of security.
However, that aside, there was something off about Luciano’s story.
“In the situation where the ice dragon attacks a major city, what are you planning to have done?”
“Yes. That’s what I’m here to talk to you about, Ilya.”
The prime minister straightened his posture, turning fully towards Ilya.”
“Ilya, do you know why the ice dragon is coming to Rondéville?”
His question was certainly reasonable.
“… Before, you said that the amount of commissions would increase, was this matter included in that?”
“Is that true? Ilya.”
Toward Hector’s words, the prime minister became interested as well.
However, even though the man leaned forward in response, Ilya’s expression didn’t change.
“No, that was different. I expected that the amount of monster subjugation commissions would increase due to the construction work. Although I had heard talk of an ice dragon, I never thought that it would come here.”
Although the prime minister wasn’t convinced, he was interested in something different.
“Why did you expect there to be more monsters? Lunéville’s construction plans wouldn’t be provoking the monster-inhabited regions. Is there something like a law for that?”
His eyes were questioning, like a youth’s. With a half elf combining an elf’s wisdom with a human’s curiosity, his reaction was related to his many interests.
“The number of monsters increase along with the number of people. That’s all.”
“I-is that so? Even so, I can’t ignore that… uuumu…”
Even though the prime minister was lost in thought, Ilya wasn’t going to speak about the details.
With their roots spread throughout the world, there were three world trees.
Ejected from these world trees were three primary sources: the magic source, the spirit source, and the light source. Eventually, it was the light source that brought forth daylight to light the world.
Then, when the flora and fauna absorb the light source through respiration, the primary source would transform into shadow source inside them. This shadow source would be exhaled, bringing along night, where there was no light source. This would be breathed in by the world trees and accumulate inside them.
Living things that can gather this shadow source, along with elements and the components of plants and animals that had returned to the earth and absorbed by the world trees, these are monsters.
The cause of the light source changing into shadow source was because the light source absorbs negative emotions held by flora and fauna.
Thanks to the light source absorbing negative feelings, living creatures could be cheerful during the day. But during the night where there was no light source, negative thoughts would accumulate into masses of negativity, accumulating monsters.
It was easy for people to hold negative feelings towards others.
Eventually, since monsters would be produced by the negative feelings held by people, they would become aggressive towards people more so than to general creatures.
That’s why in places and regions where there are a lot of people gathered together, they would emit a large amount of shadow source. It would increase the amount of monsters gathered to attack people.
(… It’s impossible for me to say something like that though.)
Her eyes downcast, Ilya let out a sigh in her heart.
Even though she knew everything, the Lottévester Faith that valued the world trees knew nothing about it.
“At any rate, the only uncertainty is why the ice dragon is coming.”
“Well, don’t you think it’s because there are a lot of people here?”
“Dragons are not monsters.”
Because creatures that attacked people were generally called monsters, it was a common misunderstanding in countries that had few chances of coming into contact with them. Of course, it’s also true that they should judge whether or not it was a threat. However, if there was a method of ending it without a fight, they shouldn’t especially attempt to destroy it.
“… That so? However, if any cities are attacked we’ll have to subjugate it.”
“While paying attention to the ice dragon’s movements, please pay attention so as to not neglect the transportation of goods.”
- Recall this line from Chapter 2: [Rumors like Orbwight Kingdom’s arena being closed due to racket about fixed matches or an ice dragon seen northeast Akradist Kingdom, things like that.] Return