The Cowardly Dragon
Just as how I can see what cannot be seen,
there are things that I cannot do.
What will he do now?
[I give up. It’s my loss!]
Standing before Darg as he let his head fall forward and placed his hands against the ground, I wasn’t sure what I should do.
I should kill him here and now if I want to sever my anxiety about being deceived again in the future.
However, can I kill a person? I don’t think I can.
If I could, I would have erased him with that attack.
I even ended up avoiding him with it despite feeling so much rage.
There’s also the fact that Ai and Nina were unharmed. It was the same with Guy and the others; although they were somewhat injured, they weren’t injured enough to threaten their lives. If something had actually happened to them or the girls, I believe I just might have ended him in my anger.
However, no one suffered any real harm and it’s already impossible for me to do something like that now that I’ve settled down.
And most importantly, I really do not want to kill someone in front of Ai.
That is not something I can do, not as her teacher. This, I firmly believe.
[… Alright. That’s enough.]
Darg looked up at me, speaking very carefully.
I don’t think he knows about the notion of prostration, but neither his current posture nor my mood are very good.
[So long as you do not do anything like this again, I will overlook what happened this time.]
When I said that, Darg stared at me in puzzlement.
[Overlook…? In what meaning?]
[If you don’t do anything else, I won’t do anything else either.]
[You won’t kill me, and you won’t take the women?]
It seemed as though it was a difficult way of thinking for Darg to understand.
He kept blinking his eyes and tilting his head back and forth.
[I don’t get it. What do you get out of it?]
[Nothing. I simply don’t want to believe that taking something from another is the natural thing to do.]
Looking both stumped and confused, Darg spoke with a strange look to his face.
[Don’t you think that I’ll attack you all again?]
[If you want to die, I am fine with granting you your wish.]
[Wait! That’s not what I meant!]
When I took a firm step forward and said that, Darg shook his hands in front of him as he backed away in a panic.
[Good. If you don’t reflect on what you’ve done and break this promise, you will not have another chance.]
True, I may be naive.
I also recognize that I am coward.
But this is because Darg hadn’t broken my last line.
[And if that time comes, I will make you regret being born in this world.]
I didn’t entirely intend for it to happen, but flames wound up coming out together with my words.
If he goes against me and attacks yet again, I’d have no reason to forgive him.
Rather, if he does, I won’t hold back in the least.
I wonder if he grasps the weight of my words?
Darg did nothing but stare at my face, his eyes opened wide.
He suddenly stood up and approached me slowly.
Just as I began to wonder if he actually intended to resume the fight, it happened.
Darg abruptly clasped my arm and said that.
[Can I call you Brother!?]
That Elvish word wasn’t one that indicated kin.
He used a word that indicated personal respect, a special title of sorts.
[Up till now, I never thought that there would be anyone stronger than me. I believed that because I was strong, it didn’t matter who I took what from. That’s why now that I’ve lost, the natural thing to do was for you, the person who’s stronger than me, to take my life.]
His eyes shining, Darg continued speaking somewhat fervently.
[But… you’re different. Someone who’s truly strong. You don’t even steal. Even without doing that, you are living. You’re so confident that you aren’t even anxious about letting your enemies free!]
[W-well… I guess so…?]
I honestly just feel like it’s something that any modern peace-loving idiot would do, but he wasn’t exactly wrong with his favorable interpretation of it.
[I want to attain a strength like yours. So, can I call you Brother?]
[Uhh, I mean, you can call me what you want…]
I said that, but I only answered like that because I couldn’t cast away the suspicion that this might be some sort of trick to get me to lower my guard against him.
[Really!? Thank you!]
Darg leapt into the air in delight, looking much like a child.
Seeing that, I suddenly recalled a certain thing.
[The one eternally by your side, yet unable to be seen by sight. With thorns yet no petals and with fangs yet no mouth, my foe shall become my ally. Do you pledge to be that person?]
[Mm? What do you mean?]
Unable to understand the meaning of the incantation I recited in Elvish, Darg cocked his head to the side.
[I asked if you could swear on never going against us again.]
[Oh, of course then. I’ll never go against Brother ever again!]
He nodded earnestly, but there weren’t any visible changes.
… Damn. I improvised the incantation and forgot to include something into it that would to allow me to check if it was successful.
[Could you please try punching me?]
[Don’t worry and just do it.]
Him being confused about me telling him to do that immediately after having him say he wouldn’t oppose me was to be expected, so he looked at me in doubt while swinging his fist.
Together with a dull impact, both of us groaned in pain.
… It hurt a lot more than I thought it would.
I thought that he wouldn’t be able to damage me through my scales without that sword of his, but that wasn’t the case at all. My cheek started throbbing, the pain coming and going like a pendulum’s swing.
[The heck!? My body hurts a ton!]
It looks like the magic was successful.
What I pictured was a painful deterrence to attacking us, something that would activate whenever he tried doing so.
[Looks like it worked. It’ll hurt like that if you ever try to attack us, so be careful.]
[That’s fine and all… but did I actually need to go and hit you? It hurt before I even swung my fist.]
He punched me despite feeling the pain? What amazing willpower.
[I was making you undergo some pain as an experiment, so I felt it was only right for me to feel some as well.]
When I gave that as my answer to him, Darg burst up laughing.
[Haha, we really aren’t enemies, ahahahaha.]
It was a pure kind of laughter, one not tainted by derision.
＊ ＊ ＊
“Ready? Make sure you hold on tight.”
I felt Ai hold on to one of the spines on my back tightly.
I knew that it was being touched, but I couldn’t feel much through it. Similar to hair.
I was both thankful and sad about that fact.
“What are you waiting for? Stop being so slow and come on!”
“Hold up, I can’t maneuver as well as you.”
I unfurled my wings as I responded to Nina who was flying over me in the sky.
Flapping them powerfully, my body propelled itself into the sky in one go and hurling past Nina in the blink of an eye.
“Eh? Ah, hey, hold up!”
“Stop being so slow and come on, then!”
Using her own words against her in a joking tone, I flapped my wings once again and opened a huge distance between us. Now that I think about it, this is the first time I’ve flown side by side with Nina.
“Ai, are you alright? It’s not too scary, right?”
—It’s also the first time I’ve flown with anyone but Nina on my back.
“… I’m sorry for scaring you.”
“Eh? But I’m not afraid?”
Hearing Ai’s confused response, I shook my head.
“Not that. You having to go through such a horrible experience was entirely my fault.”
I told her everything.
That I did as Darg told me and followed him to his village.
That I fell asleep, drunk due to the alcohol’s influence.
That he mocked me because of my weak attitude.
Each and every step of the way, it was my responsibility.
“But I wasn’t, I wasn’t afraid.”
Ai repeated herself in a gentle tone.
“Because I was sure you would come to save us, Mentor.”
“That’s just what you think after knowing the results…”
Although it ended up going well, she might have went through something terrible if I made even a single mistake.
Just then, Ai giggled.
“Sorry, it’s just funny.”
Holding back her laughter, she continued.
“Because, Mentor. Isn’t magic something that creates the result you want directly?”
Ai’s words caught me by surprise.
It definitely was as she says.
If fire’s combination with oxygen causing heat and light was science, magic was something that would simply produce that same heat and light from nothing.
I couldn’t hide my surprise at her suddenly understanding magic so deeply.
“Which is why this result was bound to happen.”
Ai continued forward, speaking with pride.
“After all, my Mentor is the number one Magus in the world!”
“… You’re overestimating me. I’m not that great.”
Ai denied me with a tone that left no room for me to talk back.
“There is no person that’s stronger, more gentle, or more wonderful than Mentor.”
This was something that concerned me.
“I’m not a person though, am I?”
Cracking a joke to hide my embarrassment, Ai put all her strength into her embrace on the spine on my back.
“Even so, Mentor, more than anyone, I—”
At that moment, the wind suddenly picked up.
The sound of the air blowing past us drowned out Ai’s voice.
“Sorry. Did you say something just now?”
I asked as such.
And Ai responded as such.
“Nothing at all.”
She just shook her head.
—I truly am a coward.