That which grinds its teeth,
pulls our carts and becomes our food,
will not break so long as its bones are uninjured.
“Wow, we’re up so hiiigh!”
“Make sure to hold on tightly, Yuuki!”
A bit concerned due to her shouting so happily from on top of my head, I flapped my wings. It had taken about three years, but I did eventually return to my original form as a dragon and took to the skies once again.
Dragon and human. The magic Ai had left me with gave me the ability to freely change between these two forms. It would be convenient if I could remain in my human form and just take out my wings of just switch to having human fingers in my dragon form, but I wasn’t able to do anything like that at all. Perhaps its due to my name as a dragon and my name as a human?
“Alright, let’s go down.”
Hearing her energetic response, I went to the landmark I was aiming for in front of the forest and descended.
Simultaneously twisting my wings backward and spreading them around me like a coat, I transformed into my human form and caught Yuuki by the legs in a piggyback.
“Aaah, that was fun! Big brother, let’s do that again!”
“When we head back. Now hold my hand and don’t let go, okay?”
Pacifying Yuuki from her delighted giggling, I held out my hand to her. Although she’s a fundamentally honest and obedient child, she’s energetic and beyond curious. There’s no telling where she’d zoom off to if I didn’t hold her still.
“Okay, big brother!”
“… I wonder if there’s anything we can do about you calling me that…”
“But big brother is big brother?”
I’m not sure why, but Yuuki has been calling me big brother for a long time now.
Even though she has a full-fledged elder brother, she just calls him Amata.
In terms of age, I’m too old to even be her grandfather, let alone her brother.
A little ways into the forest, we were stopped by a sharp voice.
“What business do you two monkeys have in our forest?”
“Hey, Ultramarine. It’s been a while.”
When I waved my hand at the elf who was gazing at us in a stinging manner, she appeared to grow all the more severe.
“How do you know my name?”
“No no no, it’s me, the red dragon. What’s with you always forgetting, really.”
Ultramarine’s expression softened.
“Oh, oooh, what, you’re that lizard Dropout keeps around! Hah, right. You’ve changed both your forms, so this one here’s Dropout? You two got pretty small!”
While saying that, she began to bang against my back with her hand and pat Yuuki’s head.
“What? This child here is Yuuki, a child from our village. Nina stayed home this time.”
“Huh? What are you doing here then?”
Her expression grew suspicious, but it wasn’t unreasonable. I’ve visited this elven forest several times now, but each time was under the guise of letting Nina visit her home. Now that I think of it, this is the first time I’ve come here without her.
“I came to see Pea Green.”
“Hmph, well alright. If you want Pea Green, he’s this way.”
She’d nodded like she was uninterested in it, but began walking anyway. It appeared as though she was going to show me the way.
“Hey big brother, who’s Pea Green?”
“He’s the person that looks after the domesticated animals in this forest.”
Still walking, I answered Yuuki’s question. Yes, the elves had supposedly already been successful in raising domesticated animals. I haven’t actually seen the farm itself, but I have heard stories about it.
I’d said that I would start us raising animals, but I don’t know how to go about that at all. Since that’s the case, I decided that we should come to the elves’ forest and borrow their wisdom as they’d already started doing it. Them telling me exactly how and what to raise would be the best case scenario, but even them only telling me what species of animals are suitable for herding would be a great help.
When I looked for them myself, I couldn’t find any animals suitable for it in this world. Even the animals that resembled cattle and pigs were both strong and ill-tempered and would easily end up wrecking whatever fence we built for them.
“Hoh, Mentor. Long time no see.”
“You too. My apologies for not contacting you for so long.”
It had been somewhere around a century since I last met with him. Even so, he managed to remember my face, unlike Ultramarine.
Pea Green lowered his head in a bow.
“I see. I don’t mind. Besides, Eldest had told me to teach you how anyway.”
Once I’d explained my situation to Pea Green, he agreed and responded with something that caused me to incline my head.
I can’t say that Eldest—Nina’s father—dislikes me, but he doesn’t like me either. I doubt he’d ever help me without us asking for it first…
What Pea Green guided us to was neither a fenced enclosure nor a pen. It was an open area overrun with grass and weeds. There were the deer-like and goat-like animals I’d often hunt grazing on the greenery, but they didn’t look like they were going to run away even after we approached them.
“You’re just in time. I was thinking it was time to harvest some meat.”
Saying that, Pea Green put his hand into some of the tall grass that was growing nearby him. Immediately after that, the grass grew even longer and he took out a thin, pea green-colored blade of grass. I suppose this is the magic that his name originates from?
The blade of grass held a long edge and had a sharp tip, much like a sword. Picking out a moderately sized goat from the group, Pea Green swung his grass blade down.
Seeing the goat have flesh cut away from its flank, I inhaled sharply.
Be it the blood overflowing from the wound or the clean cut itself, the goat didn’t appear to react at all, not even giving so much as a single bleet.
When Pea Green placed his grass blade against the goat’s wound, it stuck to the wound with a supple flexibility that betrayed the image of its solidity from a moment ago. He wrapped it around the wound like a bandage, even going so far as to add two or three more blades of grass.
“If I do it like this, I’ll be able to harvest meat again in about a month’s time.”
“By not killing it… you’re able to heal its wound and harvest meat from it over and over?”
Pea Green nodded as if it were natural.
Looking at his reaction, I finally remembered. What Eldest had told him to teach me was the thing I found back when searching for how to gain immortality. The process of manufacturing Zombie Powder.
They didn’t run, weren’t frightened, and simply continued to eat the greenery. The goats must be under the effects of that medicine. That was the original reason I’d even met Pea Green, I’d entirely forgotten about it.
“So what do you think?”
Pea Green inquired as though curious.
He wasn’t particularly cold-hearted or cruel, he was actually a rather ordinary elven youth.
—However, our sense of values were different..
To me, I could only pity the goats being unable to die despite being sliced from forever and saw it as repulsive. Then again, for the elves, that was no big deal, similar to how we think nothing of taking fruits from trees year after year.
I glanced to my side at Yuuki. She looked curious.
That’s just the sort of era we live in. She wasn’t some young lady that would be frightened by the corpse of an animal. Rather, she’d be delighted to join the hunt. It was something similar for me, I’d sometimes end up eating my prey still alive.
I think that how things live and go about their lives is more important than how they die.
An efficient method like this could save hundreds or thousands of people’s lives.
But even so, I can’t choose a method like this.
I don’t want Yuuki to become accustomed to acts like this. That’s what I believe.
“… It appears that this won’t help you much.”
He probably guessed what I was thinking from how I looked. Pea Green’s shoulders drooped, discouraged. In his own way, he wanted to be able to help.
“Yeah… we don’t have a way to cut its flesh so cleanly, nor magic to use to heal its wound.”
Even if I set aside what I like and dislike about it, it’s a fact that Scarlet would be unable to carry this out. Pea Green’s magic was simply magnificent. Even I could use magic in order to heal something on the level of a small cut, but healing a wound as big as that in a single month would be impossible.
Same with slicing its flesh so cleanly, it would be difficult even using my claws.
Nina might be able to manage it, but there’s no way I could have her handle the ranch on top of teaching the children.
“Why not have her teach him then? She’s better at cutting than Pea Green.”
“True, that might be a good idea.”
Unexpectedly, Ultramarine spoke up after being quiet until now. Pea Green nodded in response.
“You’ve met her before. Violet!”
Like that, the name of the strongest woman in the forest popped up.