People generally dislike clichés.
Are they tired of seeing things
be repeated each time?
“… It’s ready!”
Still using my tail to stir the spring water I’d brought to a steady steam by breathing fire onto it, I raised my voice.
“You took long enough!”
Then, from behind my back, I heard the sound of water being splashed into. Following that was the sound of someone gingerly dipping into the spring. The sounds had come from Nina and Ai respectively entering the spring. Only at times like these did I find having the sharp hearing of a dragon disagreeable.
“Aah, this feels great… the temperature is just right.”
Contrasting the girls’ relaxation, I couldn’t settle down at all. The reason being that the two girls behind me had entered the spring as naked as can be.
“Hey. Why do you always look away? Turn around.”
“No, that’d be a bit…”
“Don’t want, to see my face…?”
“No, it’s not like that. Just…”
Ai usually takes my side on things, but it turns into a trial for me whenever we do something like this.
“Tell me why you don’t want to look over here!”
Nina suddenly caught a hold of my lengthy neck with her arms and yanked on it.
But I don’t think that I could explain it that well at all.
I mean, these girls don’t even have the notion of being ashamed by nudity.
Perhaps that notion isn’t something that humans have inherently, but is rather enculturated? Like something that is learned by paying attention to parents being embarrassed by nudity.
“Well, it’s because… you two aren’t wearing any clothes right now?”
“Aren’t you the one that told us to take them off?”
“I did, but…”
“Is it… because I don’t, have scales…?”
“No no no, that’s not the problem at all.”
Hearing her sound like she was about to fall into despair, I shook my head.
“I’m a man, and you two are women. A man seeing a naked woman is, well… not too good of a thing.”
“What? Isn’t a woman seeing a naked man fine though?”
“That’s also not too good of a thing, I think…”
“But aren’t you always naked?”
” !! ”
A sudden shock.
Now that I think about it, it is true. I hadn’t minded it much since I’m a dragon, but I definitely haven’t been wearing any clothing.
Which means that I’ve been nude this whole time.
“No, no, no, it’s different! Wait, please. Look, I… I’m a dragon. So I don’t need clothes.”
“So then doesn’t being a man or a woman have nothing to do with anything?”
Nina came right back at me with a sound argument.
She’s right. Me being naked because I’m a dragon makes the logic of men not exposing their bodies to women seem like a fallacy. It’s what’s called a double standard.
“… Alright. I admit defeat.”
I turned around… reluctantly. The spring water was crystal clear, so it didn’t conceal the two girls’ bodies in the least. Moreover, since they weren’t exactly trying to hide themselves, I had a full view of them from top to bottom.
“Umm, Mentor… are you okay? Am I, gross?”
“No, that’s not it at all.”
I shook my head in response to Ai’s uneasy question.
“But, then… why aren’t you, looking at me?”
Because your body’s developed way more than I thought!
I didn’t say that out loud, though.
Both of them were in their early teens. They were still children. I’d been embarrassed, but I don’t think I’ve ever looked at them with indecent thoughts.
“… Right, it’s already been a year, hasn’t it?”
“Yeah. It’s around the same temperature as it was when you came to me, isn’t it, Ai?”
This world’s year is four hundred days long, a bit longer than Earth’s. It’s been three hundred and eighty-four days since the day I met Ai if I recall correctly, so it’s been just about a year. Her appearance has undergone a great deal of change in this past year.
“Come to think of it, Ai, you got bigger than me at some point, didn’t you?”
Neither mine nor Nina’s physiques had changed much at all. Ai was the only one who’d grown.
She’d probably lacked nourishment. She was only about tall enough for me to see her as a ten year old, but now she’s steadily surpassed Nina. Even her skin-and-bones look has started to fill out to look more womanly. Now she’s looking closer to fifteen or sixteen… and her chest, how should I put it… well, it’s making its presence known.
It’s to the point that looking straight at her is a bit difficult.
“Mentor doesn’t want to see me, because I got bigger?”
Seeing Ai look down in worry as she said that almost made me spit out fire.
That’s a very dangerous topic.
“No! It’s just, umm…”
I suddenly regretted having almost no experience with women in my previous life. I’m never able to think of what I should say at times like this.
“It’s just that Ai has become so beautiful that simply seeing you makes me embarrassed.”
When I said the only thing that came to my mind, Ai went silent and blushed.
Feeling my tail be pulled on, I turned around to face Nina.
“What about me?”
In that regard, Nina was relatively easy to look at. She definitely is a refreshing beauty, but not in a lavish, fleshy way. She’s like a work of art. Or maybe I’ve simply just gotten used to seeing her since she prefers to sleep in the nude?
Honestly, her chest had indeed swelled a little, but it lacked that strong, gaze-inducing power like Ai’s. Although it’s impossible for me to stare as a gentleman, for someone as unsociable as me, it definitely holds a sense of appeal to it.
“Nina, I like you the way you are.”
“… I don’t get why, but it feels like you’re making fun of me!”
Thankfully, the mood didn’t go in a weird direction because of Nina making a fuss.
＊ ＊ ＊
“Well then, Ai. Are you ready?”
Her voice sounded stiff when she replied from the top of my head. She was probably feeling nervous.
I spread out my wings, shielding her body.
“I’ll protect you if anything happens.”
Her response sounded even more strained this time. Did I make her feel more nervous?
Well, it’s not like I can’t understand why. This is the first time she’ll be going there in a year. Moreover, for her, now that she’d gotten completely used to speaking, her family are people she can’t communicate with at all. To be honest, even I’m a bit afraid.
However, I had a plan.
My birthplace is Japan, a land proud of its culture.
A gift for each season, a gift for each festival, and a gift for the year’s end.
Summer, winter… even spring and autumn. I’d been giving Ai’s family things like deer meat, fruits, and nuts as gifts. They haven’t even been too afraid of me recently and, while it may be my own self-conceit, I believe that I’ve been able to build up good relations with them.
And then there’s Ai.
She’d cleaned herself to a sparkle in the bath, had her hair combed and tied up by Nina, and had also decorated her form-fitting outfit with leaves and flowers. She had been brought to me in a similar way as a sacrifice, but she’s since blossomed into true beauty with her current nutrition.
With her previously unkempt hair glossy smooth and her previously skinny body rounded into a more womanly figure, she’d now smiled countless times.
Just by seeing her, there should be no mistaking that I have cherished her even if they can’t understand my words. Even though it caused me some embarrassment, just having her take that bath has showed its results.
Moreover, rather than fly through the sky, I slowly walked to their cave in an attempt to not seem as intimidating. My intention of being friendly with them should be understood now that I’ve done this much.
“Come to think of it… they do have some words, don’t they?”
“Yes. More like signals, than words, though.”
“Then, could you translate—I mean… if they say something, whatever it is, could you tell me what it means?”
“Okay, leave it to me!”
I heard the sound of her thumping her chest from behind my head together with her response.
Well, rather than a thump… maybe it’d be better described as a boing?
I’ll stop there. Let’s forget about yesterday.
Around that moment, I saw three men coming out of the cave.
Ai spoke before they’d even reacted.
“Ah, just now, that was like ‘I’m home’.”
It’s a bit late, but I just realized that it would have been better to learn these signals in advance if they were going to be this simple.
I was even able to learn Elvish in such a short amount of time, so I don’t think it would’ve been too hard.
Which means that my so-called perfect preparations weren’t perfect at all.
The men placed the spears they were holding on the ground and knelt.
The situation looked safe, so I lowered my head and let Ai off.
One of the men saw Ai and gasped in wonder.
“Mentor, that is my dad.”
Ai turned around, saying as much with a tinge of shyness.
Now that I think about it, it does feel like he was among the the ones who brought her to me.
“Well, hello. It’s not much, but…”
Lowering my head in a bow, I placed the wild boar that I was carrying in front of him. Seeing that, he and the two other men cheered in joy. I call it a boar, but it’s a pretty big one at about the same height as Ai.
A few more people started popping up from inside the cave after hearing the men’s cheering.
And so the feast began.
I lit up some firewood, roasted the wild boar, and divided it up with my claws.
Even the children which I hadn’t seen before now came out and ate the meat.
Everyone surrounded the fire, the men stamping their feet and dancing as the women sang.
I also roared along with the lyric-less tune.
There were still a few people that glanced over at me in fear, but it wasn’t something that could be rushed. At the very least, they hadn’t thrown any spears at me, so it feels like I was able to bring a few people around.
I should be able to get into closer contact with them and teach them language now.
It was at that moment, as I was feeling relieved.
A reverent look to them, some brought a young girl to me.
I was assaulted by a sudden wave of déjà vu, but Ai was sitting next to me. It was a different girl.
Although they weren’t holding spears this time, this was exactly the same as the previous time they presented a decorated girl to me.
The men knelt and uttered the same word as that time.
“Ai, what are they…”
Ai shouted something before I could finish asking her.
She pulled on my foreleg and shouted two short sounds.
She then pointed at the girl who’d been brought out and shouted.
The men retreated with a surprised look to them, their heads hung low.
“Hey, Ai, what did you just say?”
“Nothing at all.”
Ai spoke with a smile. However, for some reason, her smile felt just a bit scary.
“No, you definitely just—”
“Nothing. At. All.”
Still smiling, Ai repeated herself.
No matter how many times I asked, Ai never told me what she said that day.