A Red Dragon’s Blood
Cutting your finger when you’re cooking happens often enough,
but I’d prefer not having to cut my finger in order to cook, if possible.
Darg held his crag blade aloft as he slowly sidled up to me.
Raising my left foreleg up as a shield, I breathed out.
Just as I did a quick exhalation, he swung his sword down.
I felt no pain from it at all.
“A-are you alright, Brother!?”
“Yeah. That was splendid.”
Ripping off one of my scales from where he struck me, I could see blood start to flow out and was glad.
Honestly, it looked like Darg was the one in pain, given his expression as he rushed over to me.
Be it the west’s time-honored legends or the east’s, they all point to a dragon’s blood being a panacea, an all-purpose medicine.
In the German epic poem [The Song of Nibelungens], a hero named Siegfried acquired an immortal body after bathing in the blood of a dragon that went by the name Fafnir. In China, it’s said that a clot of dragon or qilin blood is a traditional medicine so often that one may think they take it for the truth.
Which is why I suspected that my blood might also have its uses.
“Uhh, well then, I’ll just…”
“No, wait a moment. Nina, a rabbit, if you would.”
Stopping Ai from starting to lick from my wound with her tongue, I spoke to Nina. Following her nod, the forest suddenly began rustling and a rabbit popped out from it.
It’s like the forest is one large vending machine to her.
“We can’t have you just suddenly try it, Ai.”
Placing the rabbit’s mouth against my leg, I forced it to drink the blood.
The effect was both instant and immense.
Letting out a cry, smoke blew out from various parts of the rabbit’s body.
Meanwhile, the rabbit started struggling wildly and managed to escape my grasp. Two or three leaps later, its white pelt caught on fire, causing it to writhe on the ground. Before long, it stopped moving at all.
Despite that entirely unexpected event leading to an awkward silence, Nina suddenly lifted the rabbit by one of its legs and bit into it.
“!! … Delicious…!”
Her eyes opened wide.
“It was cooked all at once from the inside, so its juices are completely sealed in…! And it’s still just hot enough. Even its skin is crunchy, there’s no need to deal with it at all!”
We managed to accidentally find a great way to cook rabbits, but there’s no way that would be good for Ai. So this didn’t work either, huh…?
“I’ll use today’s magic on you then.”
Motioning for Ai to come over, I put my paw on her head.
“That which crawls through the dark, which walks the world’s abyss, which exterminates breath and seeks to hide all radiance, which swoops from the skies, the world’s edge, life’s final destination. The owner of many names, the flow of time, death itself. Remove yourself from this person, vanish!”
It was the incantation for life prolonging magic I’d been using while groping around for a solution.
We’d confirmed that it was safe to use, but unfortunately, we aren’t sure on its true effectiveness either. I’d tested it out on insects and other small animals with a very short lifespan, but I didn’t see much of a result. If there was one effect, it would be that it eased their passing.
—I want to extend her longevity and be together forever.
Ai didn’t seem worried about accepting my unilateral selfishness, though.
Panicking somewhat, I explained the disadvantages and other concerns of having a long lifespan.
Getting tired of living, seeing your loved ones die off one by one, as well as being unable to die even if you wanted to if the method used wouldn’t allow it.
[So Mentor, that means you’ll have to go through all those terrible things, too?]
Out of all my prepared responses, that one line ended the discussion.
But even though I’ve gotten her permission to do these things, I haven’t had any breakthroughs in the least.
Setting aside the standard ways to live a longer life, I’ve also tried various other methods, but they’ve all lead to having no effect. Even this dragon blood method wound up being unusable, despite me putting so many expectations into it.
“That didn’t go very well, did it.”
It was Nina, she was still gobbling up the rabbit and licking the meat juices that had streamed down her fingers.
She eats a disproportionately large amount compared to her slender figure. I wonder what’s going on with her metabolism?
“Come to think of it, Nina, how old are you?”
Her appearance basically hadn’t changed at all since the time we met.
She still looked to be in her mid-teens.
It’s not much of a problem since her beauty was already completely there, but is she growing?
“Hm? Let’s see… I can’t remember exactly, but around a hundred thirty I guess?”
No way, she’s my senior?
I died at the age of eighty-nine, so she’s my senior even after including those years.
“Nina-san, you’re that old?”
“Longears live a looong time, seriously.”
Having not known her age either, Ai and Darg’s eyes were both opened wide.
“… Just to be sure, is there a secret for longevity or anything?”
“Maybe, I don’t know though.”
Even if it’s just a sliver of a chance, I can’t let this go.
“I’d like to ask another elf about it. Nina, do you know where any are?”
As soon as I asked that, a shadow was cast over Nina’s face.
“… I don’t know. It’s been a really long time since I, umm, left the forest, so…”
She always spoke straightforwardly, but right then, she was strangely inarticulate.
“Brother, if it’s about where longears live, I know a place.”
Just then, Darg raised his hand.
Oh right, he was able to speak in Elvish.
Which means he’d naturally had to have met an elf.
“Could you lead me there?”
“Yeah, sure. It’s not too far. Around half a day’s walk.”
“We should be able to make it there and back today if you get on my back, then.”
Darg was even heavier than he looked. I had to put up with it though, things like this require sacrifices.
Nina stopped us as we were about to head off.
“… I’m going too.”
She looked like she was worried about something as she said that.
＊ ＊ ＊
“Right over there. I met the longears in that forest.”
We were further out than the village Darg and the others used to all live in.
The slow flight took around an hour in all.
“… Brother, are you alright?”
Breathing heavily, I answered Darg’s question.
“Sorry, maybe I should have stayed behind after all?”
“No… it’s okay. It’s not your fault, Ai.”
In the end, Nina insisted on coming along with Darg, so then Ai decided she wanted to come as well. Leaving the village’s management to Ken and my other pupils during our time away, the four of us set off for the elven village.
However, it would’ve been a decently long distance to walk.
So then I wondered if we could all fly there by using magic.
Thinking that was definitely a mistake.
Darg on my back and Ai held with my arms, Nina was holding on to the tip of my tail.
I was thinking along the lines of: couldn’t Ai and Nina fly even in those weird postures since they can use flight magic? In a sense, I was right. In another, I was wrong.
Honestly, I feel lighter than usual thanks to Ai’s cooperation.
The problem was our positioning.
Feeling Ai’s soft body wrapped in my arms, I wondered about whether she was really the same kind of living thing as Darg.
Even more important than those wicked thoughts, I was afraid that I might exert too much force and accidentally crush her, so I haven’t been able to feel at ease this entire past hour.
“Nina, were you alright like that?”
Nina nodded, only responding in a bare minimum when I turned around to ask her after landing.
I was worried since I couldn’t keep an eye on her on the way here, but it seems like she was alright.
She looked a little pale, but it’s probably not due to the flight.
“Nina. You can wait here if you don’t want to go in.”
When I said as such, she shook her head in silence.
“Sis says she’s good so she’s good. Let’s go, Brother.”
Feeling a little uneasy about her lack of a response, I consented and headed to the forest’s entrance with Darg.
The moment I took a single step, I felt the sensation of the hairs on my neck raise on end.
I don’t exactly have hair though, so maybe I should say I felt my scales raise on end…?
“… We’re being watched.”
Ai leaned close to me and whispered in a low voice.
She probably felt the same thing as me.
[Hey, Longears! Get out here!]
Meanwhile, either Darg hadn’t noticed them or all or did notice and didn’t care. He just gave a nearby tree a kick and shouted out in Elvish.
[As noisy as ever, Bearmonkey.]
The one who had appeared without making a sound was an incredible beauty.
From the looks of it, she was around a hundred and seventy centimeters tall.
With her tall stature, her limbs were slender. Her visage held frighteningly well-ordered features.
Not face, visage. I want my impression of her to be understood, so I’m saying it like that.
Although Nina’s also a considerable beauty, her beauty is still childlike in a way.
Though given her lack of a chest, I can’t even be sure of her sex in the first place. But either way, this elf here… she’s beyond beautiful.
[What a strange assembly you have there. Bearmonkey, a Lizard, and a Kidmonkey. As well as… aah. Dropout, huh?]
The elf raised her eyebrow exaggerately.
I responded with a question, parroting her word in spite of myself.
Bearmonkey has to be Darg. He’s simply too fitting for it, there’s no sense of incompatibility between that term and him at all.
Lizard is naturally referring to me. I’d never think otherwise, seeing as how I’ve been called that so many times up till now.
As for Kidmonkey, that would be Ai. That honestly irritated me, but I endured it.
In that case, I know who dropout was meant for through process of elimination.
[… Long time no see, Ultramarine.]
Our genius is, unexpectedly… a Dropout?