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Translator: Kurehas.h.i.+ Aiko
Volume 4 Chapter 20: Dragon-san Meets the Unknown
After we got caught up in Ten-san's Teleportation magic, we ended up being transported somewhere in Towa. For now, we were resting and waiting for our magic to recover, since rus.h.i.+ng into the unknown wouldn't be the wisest course of action.
When I finally managed to calm down and surveilled our surrounding for a bit, I understood that it was totally different from Ballow.
One of the core differences was that the density of magic in both air and the ground was way higher.
Somehow, it was similar to the atmosphere that accompanied the magical disaster that happened around Hibernia about a hundred years ago.
But even so, the magic was flowing into the leylines without any kind of trouble, without causing the leylines to overflow or malfunction.
It felt really comfortable here.
As I was immersed in this totally different atmosphere, Senjiro put his hands into his sleeves, his expression being really difficult to read for some reason.
「I know that our opponent was the Elder Dragon, but still, I'm sorry that I wasn't of any help.」
「Please, don't be. After all, she took Aru as a hostage, so there wasn't much any of us could do.」
At least we now knew that she wasn't intending on hurting Aru, but there was no way for us to be aware of that back then.
I also didn't think that she meant no harm at that moment, but there was no excuse for my hesitation and lack of resolve.
As Nectar tried to comfort him, Senjiro only shook his head.
「At any given time, we must put the safety of the kids before our own. We fail to do that, and we lose.」
Senjiro looked deeply depressed when he said that, and both Nectar and I exchanged awkward looks.
「Now that it has come to this, maybe I should beg my Master to train me from scratch again.」
Senjiro muttered to himself, and I asked him a question to distract him for a bit.
「By Master, do you mean Ligurila?」
「Not really. The one I'm talking about is the person who taught me the basics of sword fighting, the one who made it possible for me to become a Guardian in the first place.」
Senjiro's ears continued to move slightly, as he continued to remember something.
「Master always used to say that I shouldn't mope around due to my failures, but instead focus on improving and making myself better. It is thanks to that that I managed to get so far. And now I can be useful to people because of it.」
It was one of Senjiro's most wonderful traits, that even after he fell, he would be quick to recover and carry on.
I also tried to contact Ligurila in the meantime, but I was still too tired to get a proper grasp on the leylines around here. So I guess for now contacting her would be impossible.
And since Vaas-senpai was nowhere to be seen either, I a.s.sumed that he didn't get caught in the Teleportation circle. I tried to contact him as well, but for some reason I was unable to use the Dragon Network.
It probably wasn't because something happened to Senpai. It was probably because there were some connection issues.
As if, our frequencies weren't matching at all.
That was the most probable case.
Since I couldn't really help it, I created a pseudo-spirit and asked it to carry the news to both Ligurila and Kyle.
I don't know when it will manage to reach them, but it was still better than nothing.
But it would probably take it a lot of time, since it would need to find the appropriate leyline, travel all the way to Ballow and then come back here.
So we might as well carry on from here instead of waiting for a reply.
「First of all, we need to find some civilization. Luckily, we know Aru and Mikoto's general location, but the exact location is still unknown.」
「I agree. Towa is quite different from Ballow, and the villages are much closer to one another. Once we get to one, we should be able to get a hold of our current position, so that's a start.」
「Right, then I shall revert to my dragon form.」
I thought it might be a good idea to scout the area from above, since it would be easy to spot houses from over there, but Senjiro began to think deeply when he heard that.
「I think it's a good idea, but could you please try to stay as far away from any village that you might find as possible?」
「Well, I intended to do just that, but why?」
「Because I would like to avoid any of the Shrine Maidens noticing your true form.」
Both Nectar and I looked at Senjiro in surprise.
「Every village, no matter how small or insignificant, has at least one Guardian and one Shrine Maiden. If they spot you in the sky, they are likely to presume you to be a monster or a demon. Once that happens, your presence would be reported to the Taisha's branch office, and from there it will go all the way to the main office.」
「In other words, it means that once Lava's true ident.i.ty gets exposed, the Taisha is going to know about it. There's no avoiding that, right?」
To Nectar's words, Senjiro nodded his head.
「In addition, Nectar-dono's appearance will also be quite noticeable. There are normal humans here, but mostly they have black hair.」
「Not to mention that he's also a spirit, right?」
Even though Nectar could change the color of his hair no problem, I couldn't do the same.
「First thing first, once we get into town we must procure some sort of disguise for Nectar. But as for me, Mikoto was able to see right through my human disguise……」
I felt hopeless knowing that everyone else could possibly be able to do the same, but then Senjiro rea.s.sured me with a smile.
「It will be alright. The only people capable of seeing through Lavdono and Nectar-dono's disguises would be the people directly affiliated with the Taisha. 」
However, I a.s.sume that shrine maidens hold many different and unique abilities.
「Alright, that settles it, then. Shall we get a move on?」
I then touched the dragon gem on my chest and reverted back to my original form, letting Nectar and Senjiro climb onto me before taking off the ground.
Just like that, we were flying through the sky.
But a few minutes later we were already back on the ground.
All because of the certain encounter that happened not so long ago, and which shook me to my very core.
「Why, what the h.e.l.l was that beast……!?」
「One of the creatures that are native to Towa, I'm afraid.」
Senjiro's bitter smile was simply stunning.
A few minutes ago, we were all soaring through the sky.
And what appeared right in front of us was a flying creature that had a body of the bat and a head of a pig.
I asked Senjiro what that thing was, and he simply said that it was 'Hikomori'.
After that he simply brandished his weapon at it, severing its head from its body and sending the dead, twitching body plummeting to the ground.
Starting with that, we were being attacked by flying monsters once every five minutes or so.
Eh, was it that they were being attracted to me because I am a dragon?
That being said, a whole bunch of different monsters began to pester us. Some had the body parts of tigers, some of monkeys, there were also wolves and a whole lot of other creatures which were hard for me to describe.
But when we were suddenly a.s.saulted by the flock of wild bird-monsters whose numbers reached roughly five hundred, that was the moment when I was drawing a line.
Needless to say, we didn't lose to them.
And once we could see the silhouettes of the buildings in the distance, we decided to return to the ground, in order to avoid drawing too much attention towards us thanks to the monsters.
The monsters were still onto us, but on the ground their options of attacking us were severely limited, which was working in our favor.
…… But seriously.
While I was thinking that to myself, Senjiro's ears moved quickly and in the next moment there was a short whistle cutting through the air.
When I take a look, I could see small stones and rocks being thrown at us, colliding with my defensive barriers and being cast aside.
Looking at the place from the rocks were coming from, we could see huge monkeys sitting on the trees and throwing rocks at us.
「Please, pay them no mind. Those are merely children, hardly ever a threat. They came to observe us mostly out of curiosity, so they shouldn't attack us for real.」
Said Senjiro as he began to walk again. Together with Nectar, we exchanged worried looks.
「Say, Nectar? Did you notice anything particular about those stones just now?」
「Honestly speaking, good grief. I didn't sense them until the moment they were actually flying through the air.」
「Same here. Their magic was so well hidden, and the density of magic around this forest certainly isn't helping either.」
Once again I could feel nothing else but admiration towards Senjiro, who was walking forward with no hesitation.
In fact, the magic of this land was so unique that I was having a hard time differentiating what was what here.
The fact that Nectar and I were mostly relying on magic wasn't helping us, either.
Although it wasn't that we were completely blind here, we wouldn't be able to detect any open hostility until it was directly aimed at us.
Even when we were in the air, it was still hard for me to properly navigate and I had to rely mostly on Senjiro's help to gradually move forward.
I also tried to do as he told me, and instead of using magic, I was trying to surveil my surroundings with nothing but my five senses. I was doing my best, but it was still relatively hard.
It was sad to admit, but even though my senses should be enhanced, I wasn't noticing things faster than Senjiro!
It would be a completely different matter if we had more time to get acquainted with this land's magic a little bit more, but for now, since we were pretty much out of options, we decided to hand small stuff like that to Senjiro to handle.
「We can't even use Scouting magic here, since all the trees are interfering. We-we are pretty much useless here……」
「Uhm. Even though it pains me greatly to admit that.」
We were both pretty much depressed after trying over and over again to use our magic properly, but it was all but a wasted effort. Seeing us all depressed, Senjiro was trying to lift our spirits back up.
「It's only natural that people born in Towa are better suited for combat in here. So don't worry, Lavdono, Nectar-dono.」
I'm starting to think that Senjiro's talent for reading the mood has finally reached the level of an ability.
Oh well, I guess it's all good.
That's just the way Senjiro is, after all.
「By the way, about what Lavdono said earlier. It is true that the monsters here in Towa are born from something we locals call the Dragon Veins, and that its influence has made them grow rather rapidly in recent years. Because of that, some of the monsters are even fighting amongst themselves over territory.」
So, the animals and monsters alike were adapting to new tendencies thanks to the magic's influence…… Ah, no, wait a second, maybe it was because they were growing more intelligent?
「Those Dragon Veins must be the things we call leylines in the west. No wonder the plants and animals are being influenced by it.」
Even though Nectar's voice was calm while he was saying that, his expression was that of a serious worry.
I understood that feeling well.
The leylines may have been strangely arranged here, but the concentration of magic was still denser than elsewhere in the air, which was strangely unbalanced from my point of view.
With the increased amounts of magic in the atmosphere, it's no wonder that the plants and animals would begin to grow rapidly.
But fixing a malfunction like that would be a whole lot of work, and even the slightest mistake during the process would mean the leylines going haywire and the land could be harmed as a result.
Furthermore, if the malfunctions were rooted so deeply, even fixing the leylines would change little to nothing when it comes to monster activity.
In other words, all of your time and all of your efforts could very well be wasted over nothing.
That is why dragons would always adjust the leylines with a little bit of a safety margin on their end. However, from the density of magic in this land I was getting the impression that the proper adjustment of leylines here had been neglected for years.
It would be great if the leylines were in better condition here.
But I guess they didn't call them Dragon Veins here without a proper reason.
So I could only guess that Ten-san had some sort of role in creating this sort of environment.
「Since there are so many monsters here, doesn't that mean they attack the villages and towns often?」
「Not necessarily…… We have roads and walls to protect the land and the people from the influence of the miasma, and the Guardians are always patrolling their respective regions. If so, such things tend to happen in more secluded or underdeveloped locations.」
「Is that so?」
I was kind of worried there for a moment, but Senjiro's words made my worries all but disappear.
Senjiro's ears moved again, picking some sort of noise.
「Please wait a moment.」
I wanted to ask him what was wrong, but before I could do that, Senjiro jumped into the bushes after lowering his posture.
Together with Nectar we were standing in place for a while, and after we heard some beastly roars we saw Senjiro coming out of the bushes.
「I was able to catch us a horned rabbit. It might fetch us a good price in town.」
Senjiro smiled while whistling happily and showing us the rabbit he was holding in his hand.
That Senjiro will probably never cease to amaze me. And I mean it in an absolutely positive way.
Speaking of which, we really need to procure some local clothes for ourselves if we don't want to attract any unwanted attention.
However, walking was not a problem for us, since Nectar was used to work in the field, and my physical strength was virtually limitless.
Furthermore, once we kept on walking, we could finally see some houses in the distance, and that was making us feel less tired.
I smiled faintly thinking like that, and Senjiro looked puzzled seeing my smile.
「Did something happened?」
「Oh, it's nothing. I was just thinking that I'm so glad that we've met you, Sen-san.」
Nectar agreed with me, and Senjiro's tail swayed with fascination.
「No, I don't think I've done anything that would earn me such praises.」
「You've saved us on numerous occasions.」
「And Nectar owns his life to you. Don't you think that we will ever forget about that.」
「Well, I guess you could say that.」
「Geez, it's nothing, I told you. I was just doing what any normal person would do if placed in my shoes.」
Hearing our words of praise, Senjiro's cheeks became flushed red.
However, there was also some levels of awkwardness that we could see in his eyes when we looked in them.
「At that time I was living in a small hotel. It was a comfortable place, and it had everything that I needed. But above all else, I was so lucky that I met Lava at that time.」
In that moment, Nectar's face became much more lively.
「Are you talking about the time when the two of you have met for the first time?」
「Ah, I see. We haven't really talked to you about that before, right, Sen-san?」
「Yes, that's right! And even though it was almost a hundred years ago, I can still remember it vividly! It was in the early spring, when the cold of winter could still be felt……」
Seeing that Senjiro was interested in this topic, Nectar began to talk, s.h.i.+fting from one topic to another seemingly without end.
I was just listening for a while, but after more and more minutes pa.s.sed and Nectar was still talking, I was beginning to think that it might be high time for me to step in and shut him up, preferably before he would talk about something intimate or private.
Could we please leave it at that? If we don't, I might as well die out of shame!
You see? Senjiro was making a face that seemed to be asking if it was okay for him to hear about that!
I was so embarra.s.sed that I wanted to change topics immediately. But then……
I could feel a faint trace of magic brus.h.i.+ng against my skin.
I even felt that earlier than Senjiro.
Nectar and Senjiro arrived at my side a moment later, their expressions tightening on the spot.
「It looks like a battle of some kind.」
「They are using magic. It is similar to the one Mikoto was using, so they must be fighting some kind of magic threat.」
They looked at me and I thought for a little while.
It was difficult for us to decide to intervene, since we didn't know what they were fighting against.
However, we should be safe from standing out here, since it was a seemingly secluded area…… At least that's what I think.
「For the time being let's go there and see if there's someone there who could fill us in.」
Because if there was a possibility of meeting some of the locals, we needed to jump on that chance.
So we started to rush towards the battle without a second of hesitation.
…… It's not as though I thought that it was good that Nectar's words were stopped… Not at all…