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The news announced by the oracle regarding the demon king’s descent had spread throughout the world.
This is because most of the military forces from all the continents are mobilized for the anti-demon war.
But, the notification that was handed down alongside the oracle – the cessation of communication with the dragonoid continent – shook up the governments of all nations.
It’s not because of the demon invasion’s speed.
Among the five continents, the dragonoids were a race with low numbers, coming right after the demons, but their individual strength was said to be so high that they wouldn’t lose against demons.
The origin of the dragonoids is something even the dragonoids themselves don’t understand well.
According to oral tradition, it’s said that long ago their human ancestors inherited a part of the draconic powers in their bodies after having taken over draconic elements from each of the Four Greater Dragons, which are said to live in a mountain range called the “Dragon Den” located on the northernmost tip of the dragonoid’s continent, but seeing as the story itself took place more than a thousand years ago, there’s no positive proof since the dragonoids of that time didn’t leave any records behind.
The Four Greater Dragons refer to the four dragons called “Ruby Dragon,” “Jade Dragon,” “Azure Pearl Dragon” and “True Wind Dragon.”
Albert, the current dragonoid hero, is a descendant of a family endowed with the element of the Jade Dragon. Moreover, Emedra-kun, who served as Renya’s mount before, is one of the dragons connected to the Jade Dragon’s lineage.
It’s no more than a guess, but this Jade Dragon is considered to have likely been alive for more than a thousand years while still being in good health.
It’s said that there’s not a single person alive who has witnessed its human figure.
Others, like the beastmen aren’t even allowed close to the Dragon Den. While only a really small part of the elves was allowed to get a glimpse of the Four Greater Dragons from very far away. They are existences of which almost nothing is known about.
And yet, although the Four Greater Dragons evade public appearances to such an extent, their strength is still famous throughout the world.
According to the rumors about them, they wiped cities off the map with a flap of their wings, broke down entire mountains with a single roar or pulverized a mountain range with one breath attack. If one were to ask Renya, all of those rumors are things that would make him say that there’s a limit to shadiness.
“What kind of outrageous creatures are they supposed to be?” (Renya)
“Ah…yeah, I can understand you saying that, Renya, but it’s the truth since there’s also evidence.” (Shion)
Dragons are existences that can be turned into a huge amount of money.
If you are capable of getting your hands on one body, you will have access to a mountain of excellent, usable materials. Starting from their scales, you can take their fangs, skin, while even their meat, intestines and bones won’t be thrown away or spared.
If you turn all of those into some kind of goods, the items will exhibit an extremely superior performance, naturally making their value immeasurable.
It’s the bad habit of humans to get very greedy once they learn that something is lucrative.
There’s a never-ending supply of people scheming to somehow subjugate a dragon in order to obtain its body. As a result of them not understanding their own status, most of them are taught that only death awaits them at the end of their greed, but in really rare cases there are some people who succeed in killing a dragon.
“We don’t really know what happened since there’s nothing left at that place anymore, but…” (Shion)
The place mentioned by Shion is a huge bay called “Dragon’s Breath,” a place located on the human continent.
That bay, which is a continuous tear that draws a clean triangle from the coastline towards the inland areas over a span of several dozens kilometers, had apparently been a city on land in the past.
The people living in that city succeeded in subjugating a dragon by using some kind of plan, but it’s said their bad luck was that the subjugated dragon was a still a very young dragon situated quite high in the hierarchy of the Ruby Dragon’s lineage.
It’s completely unknown why a direct descendant of the Four Greater Dragons, who live at the northernmost tip of the northern continent, had expressly gone as far as the eastern continent.
Various theories about this point are circulating among the researchers that investigated this later on, but only the Ruby Dragon knows the truth.
Anyway, the Ruby Dragon grieved over the death of its own blood-related baby dragon, causing several of the mountains forming the Dragon Den to collapse with its roars.
Unable to calm down with only that much, the Ruby Dragon, which had gone insane due to its rage, took off from the Dragon Den, went into the vicinity of the city, which had killed the infant, and released a breath of retribution while still overwhelmed by its anger.
The super-high-temperature flame breath it shot at that time annihilated the land along with the city and moreover blew away several other cities and villages nearby, producing a trench in the process which later became a bay after being filled up with sea water.
“It’s said that thanks to the exceedingly high temperature of the dragon’s breath, the water inside the bay stayed hot for around ten years.” (Lobelia)
“As if such a stupid story is possible.” (Renya)
“As a consequence of the raging flames, ash ascended into the sky, coming down as black rain over a period of several years or something like that…” (Lobelia)
“Ah, yeah, sure. I get that it’s one of those stories, but why are you talking about it right now?” (Renya)
Renya and the others, who were made to hear a terrible story from Lobelia, were holding a meeting to determine their upcoming plans.
When Shion started to explain about the Four Greater Dragons in the middle of that meeting, Renya interjected with one thing he still couldn’t understand regarding why the fact that the dragonoids’ continent was invaded by the demons brought about such a shock to all other races.
In Renya’s eyes it’s only at the level of the dragonoids, who were attacked by the demons’ blitzkrieg in a war that even lacked a proper declaration of war, probably having lost on such a large scale that it’s even unclear as to how many losses they suffered.
He wonders whether that’s something worthy of causing such an uproar for, but in Shion’s and the others’ eyes, it’s Renya who seems to be the odd one out.
“In short, the dragonoids are a great race possessing draconic elements. You can understand that, right?”
“Somehow or other.” (Renya)
While thinking, Having Shion explain something to me in a polite way that makes it easy to understand sure is a fresh experience, Renya nods.
“Those same dragonoids likely having suffered a crushing defeat is the problem here.” (Shion)
“That’s the part I don’t get.” (Renya)
Once her conclusion was quickly denied by Renya, Shion dropped her shoulders in frustration.
“No, I mean, Renya, it’s like the dragonoids, who are so strong that they far surpass the humans and also remain unattainable for elves and beastmen, were crushed by the demons, got it?” (Shion)
Even so, Renya still tilts his head to the side in confusion upon Shion identifying that as the problem.
“Why don’t you understand that part…?” (Shion)
“Well, you know, no matter how powerful they might be; if they suffer a surprise attack while unprepared, they will lose, won’t they? If the attacking side has suddenly assailed them after putting all its preparations in order, it’s not strange for them to be defeated. What you should consider a problem is not the fact that the dragonoids’ continent was invaded by the demons, but what actually happened to the dragonoids. Right?” (Renya)
“Well, yeah…that might be true, but we wouldn’t be so troubled if we knew that…” (Shion)
In Renya’s eyes, who believes that the outcome of a battle depends on luck and opportunities and that there’s no definite method to always guarantee victory or defeat, he can only consider clamoring over who lost or won in each single battle as pointless.
Because the side that takes the opponents’ or the king’s head wins in the end, it’s nothing to fuss about or worth mentioning as long as your own side is still safe.
“Hence I believe that we should first investigate what happened to the dragonoids afterwards.” (Renya)
“I have an objection.” (Mayria)
Mayria interjects while raising her hand a bit.
Even while thinking, There’s no need to obtain permission to speak by raising your hand though, Renya urges Mayria to continue with his eyes.
“Renya-san, you are one of the nobles of our Trident Principality. You are a person who should become a shield of the principality against the Miasma Forest. The matter with the dragonoids is also worrisome, but I wonder whether we shouldn’t hurry back to our territory at this point in time to focus on solidifying our defenses.” (Mayria)
“Mmh? That’s only natural.” (Renya)
Unexpectedly, Renya readily approved of Mayria’s words.
Mayria falls over with a flop, but Renya says, using a tone that made one feel he was saying the most reasonable thing in the world,
“In such circumstances there probably won’t be any people making strange moves on my territory. Won’t there be a recall order from Her Majesty?” (Renya)
“If you know that much…” (Mayria)
“What I mentioned is a common argument. Why would I have to go out of my way to search for information, going even as far as to head over to the dragonoids’ territory?” (Renya)
Renya firmly endured having one troublesome thing after the other added, but Lepard requested permission to speak from Renya by lifting his hand timidly.
“Yes, Lepard-kun?” (Renya)
“Kun…? Oh well, whatever. I believe the situation won’t get any better like this?” (Lepard)
In response to Renya’s question, Lepard pointed at Kurz, who was beginning to nod off while sitting on his chair, and said,
“The humans’ hero is this guy, right?” (Lepard)
“No doubt. Our Kurz is the human hero, but what of it?” (Renya)
While hurriedly shaking his head at Renya, who seemingly wants to ask him whether he has some problem with it, Lepard continues,
“It ain’t like I have any complaints. However…since ancient times it has been decided that we will obey the orders of the human hero as our leader…” (Lepard)
That might as well be called a custom.
Among the heroes within the four races who appear with the summoning of the human hero as a trigger, it’s always considered the human hero’s duty to lead the others.
It’s impossible to check back with Albert, the dragonoid hero, who’s not present, but Lepard and Grün tell Renya that they have been told to follow said custom.
After hearing that, Renya wondered about something while groaning for a while, but before long he looked in Kurz’ direction.
As if being lured by that, everybody’s eyes focus on Kurz’ face who had started to calmly sleep with a happy expression without anyone noticing.
Putting aside Kurz’ contents, Kurz’ innocent expression while sleeping had a force that caused several of the beastman priestesses to faint after screaming with high-pitched voices, but no matter how you looked at it, it wasn’t a face that seemed capable of giving commands as a leader in order to pull the other races’ heroes along.
“…You mustn’t judge a person by their looks.” (Renya)
Lepard mercilessly retorted towards Renya’s considerably strained words,
“He’s capable of it then?” (Lepard)
“If it’s at the level of “Show no mercy!” or “Kill anything that moves!” I guess?” (Renya)
“Are those…strategic orders…? To begin with, what’s the difference between the two?” (Lepard)
“The former is limited to the enemy. The latter makes no difference between enemy and ally.” (Renya)
Renya declared calmly, but what he said was quite cruel.
If you only talk about Kurz’ combat abilities, he boasts of a strength that rivals or even surpasses that of Lepard and Grün.
Rather, even if they challenged him to a 2 vs. 1 battle, Kurz’ abilities should allow him to wrestle away victory.
But, Kurz’ mental and emotional age doesn’t go beyond that of a 5~6 years-old human child. Renya knows that Kurz likely won’t be able to give out anything but commands at the level of jokes, even if Renya told him to take command or to develop a strategy.
He wonders whether it wouldn’t be fine to have Grün act as the leader, but the custom of making the human hero the leader seems to be a point neither the beastmen nor the elves will yield on. When Renya tries to suggest that idea to Grün, he doesn’t nod either.
“Margrave-dono…for us, the heroes lend their help to the human hero in order for him to defeat the demon king. We can’t concede on that part.” (Grün)
“Even if you tell me something like that, you should understand that planning or anything like that is probably impossible for Kurz, right?” (Renya)
“I’m well aware of that. In that case his guardian has to do it in his stead.”
As far as the past records go back, the summoned human heroes were people with a reasonable level of education and ages between their late 10s and early 20s, but it seems there were also cases where heroes with an age of approximately 10 years had been summoned, apparently as some kind of mistake.
In that case it’s the rule for a human guardian, who is chosen from a consensus between the humans and the other races, to serve as the hero’s helper.
“In other words, in this case it becomes your role, Margrave.”
“I’m his patron.” (Renya)
“It doesn’t really matter either way. I don’t know whether you have the position of his guardian or the authority to take care of him, but in order to deny that role, it’s necessary to entrust Kurz to someone else by abdicating his guardianship.” (Lepard)
From Renya’s point of view, he wants to leave all the troublesome stuff to others.
But, if he’s asked whether he will be able to entrust Kurz to someone else in order to achieve that, there’s no other option for him but to admit that he’s incapable of such a decision.
There’s certainly a connection between them on an emotional level, but the real reason is that there’s no place where Kurz can stay except close to Renya, if one considers the possible dangers.
If he imprudently entrusts him to some noble with high pride, he can’t deny the possibility of the noble’s territory turning into an empty lot within a month.
What’s scary in this case won’t be the disappearance of the buildings or facilities, but the erasure of all the residents, soldiers and nobility.
“If you can’t abdicate from it, you don’t have any other option but to accompany the hero in his travels as Kurz’ guardian, do you?” (Lepard)
“I won’t tell you to accompany him up to the battle against the demon king, but…I have a hunch that you would manage somehow either way…” (Lepard)
Lepard felt that they definitely wouldn’t be able to win against the Margrave in front of his eyes, even if all the heroes faced him at the same time.
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