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The preparations and resting took a bit of time, but in the end, Dra-kun had Renya’s party get on his back, and then took off from Klinge’s plaza. Before their departure, Renya had asked Kilie if she wanted to accompany them as well. However, Kilie readily refused, volunteering to stay back to watch Renya’s home. Kilie said that she would immediately fly over if necessary, and Renya couldn’t help but feel that she would literally do so if the need arose.
Dra-kun’s take-off was quieter than his landing, but probably due to the large number of passengers on his back, he flew up with a speed that felt somewhat low. He gained altitude while circling in Klinge’s skies, and before long, he departed towards the demon country, located in the central area of this world, at a laidback speed.
“As expected…I guess we’re heavy.”
Even Dra-kun, whose body had grown considerably, had to work quite hard to fly while carrying seven people. His flight speed was a lot lower than Emedra and Rubydra’s, whom Renya had ridden before. Renya thought that it might be due to the weight of their luggage, but Liaris, sitting at the front with the reins in her hands, looked back, and denied his assumption.
“Dra-kun’s speed is always around this fast, you know?”
“He’s not slowed down? I feel that he’s slower compared to the dragons that have carried me before, though.”
“Weren’t they of a higher ranking dragon species than Dra-kun? Dra-kun’s rank among the dragons isn’t very high to begin with. Above all, I think it’s because he got slightly too big…” The rest of her words were mumbled, obviously trying to avoid spelling it out clearly.
Renya wondered what she meant with those ambiguous words, and immediately struck upon a possible answer. Support the translator by reading this novel at Infinite Novel Translations. Thanks!
“Is he slow because he got fat?”
Dra-kun skilfully managed to make only his torso tremble with a start while continuing to flap his wings with loud whooshing sounds. Liaris just gave Renya a weak smile without saying anything else.
Renya thought that Liaris’ response already counted as clear confirmation, but he decided not to deliberately probe any further as it was likely her kindness that kept her from voicing it out directly.
“In the first place, Dra-kun had been such an inferior specimen within his flock that he was chosen as a sacrifice for you, Renya, so it’s set in stone that his food situation shouldn’t have been all that great until he was caught.”
While adding the unnecessary comment that Dra-kun might have been the only individual with inferior abilities when he was still with his flock, Az followed up on what Liaris said with something that didn’t sound like a follow-up at all.
“His food worries disappeared once he became the dragoon’s dragon, so it might not be all that strange that he grew up so quickly.”
“Just be honest about it and call him fat ~no.” Frau resolutely cut down Az’s explanation, which Az might have considered as supporting Dra-kun, with a short, decisive comment.
She had balled herself up between Renya’s legs who was sitting cross-legged on a seat. With her partially leaning her back against Renya’s belly, Frau looked very comfortable, but the hurtful words leaving her mouth deeply penetrated Dra-kun’s heart. While opening his muzzle as if crying out that he had received a tremendous shock, Dra-kun’s body stiffened up, stopping even the flapping of his wings, which resulted in him starting to slowly lose altitude as he glided through the air.
“I-It’s alright, Dra-kun! You might be big, but you’re still cute!” Liaris frantically began to soothe him.
Since it wasn’t as if a dragon flew by flapping its wings, Dra-kun wouldn’t crash down right away just because his wings stopped moving. However, considering the fact that his altitude was visibly dropping, Frau calling him “fat” was apparently so devastating that it made Dra-kun forget to control his flight ability.
“Can’t you just work out if it’s so shocking to you?”
“For a dragon, you sure have a weak spirit ~nano.”
“How about leaving it at that, you two? I mean, Dra-kun might actually be in his growth period…”
If this conversation resulted in Dra-kun crashing after losing the ability to fly, it could take a very bad turn for Renya and the others on his back. Thus Shion tried to stop her lord and his silky as they started to gang up on Dra-kun, seemingly not minding that possibility at all.
No matter how rapidly her abilities might have developed recently, she wasn’t confident that she would come out unscathed if Dra-kun crashed down from his current altitude. Rona had been sitting next to Shion, but for some reason Rona maintained a vacant expression looking completely exhausted with her body wincing as a response to something every now and then.
“Drooping, gaining weight, out of shape～”
“Frau…can you stop messing with Rona? Somehow Rona’s face is starting to look funny.” Shion chided Frau with a sigh while patting Rona’s back who had started to repeatedly quiver in waves, being at her wits’ end.
In response, Frau stuck her tongue out without the tiniest sliver of guilt.
“Swinging between joy and sorrow over being a bit or very fat is foolish.” Sitting next to Renya, Croire said something oddly enlightening with understanding dyeing her voice as she enviously stared at Frau monopolizing Renya’s lap. “A woman’s worth isn’t defined by the amount of fat on her.” Croire put on a proud expression as if she had said something great.
Everyone’s eyes except for Croire’s focused on a certain part of her body, and after averting their eyes all at once as if they had timed it, everyone besides Croire retorted in perfect unison, “””””Sure, sure, from your mouth to God’s ears.””””
“Wai-!? What’s with that response!? Renya! Why are you averting your face with a faint smile? Frau, stop with that cheeky grin! Shion, can I have you stop patting my shoulder with a pitying gaze!? Rona, please stop nodding while grabbing my shoulder!”
“You guys sure are lively.” Such an impression spilled out of Liaris’ mouth after she had somehow managed to pacify Dra-kun while looking at Renya and his female companions who had started to kick up a loud fuss over trivialities.
“We’re going to be entering into the demon country soon. Is it okay to be going at it in such a mood?”
“You see, Renya might unexpectedly be in a mood to go on a picnic.”
Renya was obstinately gazing into the far distance as if to avoid looking into Croire’s eyes, no matter what. Both Croire, who was grabbing his shoulder while trying to make him turn towards her, and Frau, who was trying to somehow prevent Croire’s from achieving this, were keeping at it.
“Croire, Frau, stop acting so violently! We’re high up in the sky on top of Dra-kun’s back, do you understand this!?”
“Just ignore them, Shion. They’ll probably get tired of this sooner or later.” Rona started to hold Shion back, who had been trying to separate the three squabblers, as she thought that it would just add one more squabbler to the mix instead.
While such things were going on, Renya’s party continued their flight. Although Renya had perceived Dra-kun as being relatively slow, they still kept flying above the Miasma Forest at a reasonably high speed.
However, the Miasma Forest was extremely vast. Its scale wasn’t so small that Dra-kun would be able to cross it in one stretch, even if he flew while boosted by a dragon’s stamina. The forest’s vastness, which had been isolating the demons from the other race’s territories so as to make it impossible for either side to easily invade the other, went far beyond Renya’s expectation. Moreover, since flying after sunset would be accompanied by risks even for Dra-kun, Renya decided to have Dra-kun land and set up a camp when the sky started to grow dark.
It was only reasonable, but there was no way that a convenient landing spot for a dragon’s huge frame would exist this deep into the forest.
“No choice but to clear a place by burning it down, right?”
“Let me at least give you warning…” Shion said with a deeper voice in response to Renya’s attempt to get confirmation. “…You’re not allowed to have Dra-kun spit his fire after pouring your mana into him like you did with Rubydra the other day, okay?”
Having Renya stare back at her with a dumbfounded look, Shion furrowed her eyebrows, “We’re inside a forest, you know!? Did you already forget the disaster you caused last time? Renya, do you wish to turn this forest into a barren land of smoldering lava?”
“I thought we could burn it down neatly without the fire spreading, if we raise the heat?”
“Think about after you burn off a section! There will be after-effects, right!? In the first place, how long do you think it will take for the temperature of a place that’s been razed to the ground by a dragon’s breath to drop down to a suitable temperature for us to camp!?”
The heat of Rubidra’s breath had continued to smolder endlessly on the soil near the dragonoids’ city, and it was only recently that the vicinity around there showed slight signs of recovery. Shion tried to make Renya recall those events, but Renya’s reply widely deviated from what Shion had expected.
“If it’s freezing magic…”
If Renya used the magic art knowledge he had received from Emedra, and his own tremendous amount of mana, he would be able to quickly cool down an area that had been burned down by a dragon’s breath. And if they were looking for an instant solution, it would also be possible for Renya to flash freeze the ground after triggering the same downburst phenomenon he had used in the past right here and now.
“If you’d allow me to make a suggestion as a normal sorcerer,” Az humbly interrupted their conversation, albeit probably not fully understanding what they were talking about, “I’d like to request that you choose a peaceful method, if possible.”
“Do you have some kind of ingenious idea, Az-sensei?”
“Stop with the sensei…” Az made a very gloomy face, and then started to think for a while. “I guess I’ll handle it…,” he said while originally wanting to conserve his mana.
However, he had apparently concluded that the most peaceful solution would be for him to use his own spell while making sure to create a place that could be used to spend the night, seeing how the forest would be likely burned to ashes by Dra-kun’s breath if he were to leave this matter in Renya’s hands.
“Liaris, please have Dra-kun drop his speed and altitude.”
“Sure.” Liaris responded curtly, and passed on the instructions to Dra-kun.
After confirming that their flight speed and altitude had slowly started to drop, Az picked up the wand laying at his side, closed his eyes, and focused his mind. Renya watched the whole process now that he had decided to leave it all in Az’s hands, seemingly because Az had volunteered to do it himself.
“<Congregate mine power, oh hellfire, turn everything and anything into ash by devouring it in a maelstrom of raging flames>”
From the mana swelling up in Az, Renya knew that Az was using a fairly powerful spell. The mana put into his chant immediately transformed into reality, rolling up a section of the huge forest in a tornado of large, crimson flames.
“A flame storm spell, eh? It sure looks pretty when seen from above.”
The spell’s scale covered a fairly massive pillar of flames, even when compared to Emedra’s magic art knowledge. Because it was for the sake of creating a landing site for Dra-kun, Az had invoked the spell after pouring a lot more mana than usual into it so as to enlarge its range of effect .
The flame storm brewing brightly within the dark forest was a beautiful sight to behold from the perspective of Renya’s party since they merely watched on from above, and that was the end of the story for them. However, probably because he had abruptly expended a huge amount of mana to cast the spell, Az leaned back against his seat while looking somewhat tired and worn-out as he panted heavily.
“How much did you enlarge it?”
“I think around…64 times the normal size. I’ve turned a 4 meter circle into a 32 meter one. If we also consider that the fire should spread a bit, I think there will be enough space for Dra-kun to land. I leave the fire fighting and cooling to you.” Az answered Renya, sighing at the weak reaction to his achievement of all those present, including Renya.
Except for Liaris who didn’t know much about magic art, the other members likely didn’t think anything of Az’s words since they had been associating with Renya for a long time, allowing them to personally witness his crazy mana. However, in reality, the number of sorcerers capable of pulling off what Az did is fairly low, even across the vast human continent, and the true ability of Az, which allowed him to cast the spell without fainting on the spot, would actually make it possible for him to claim the title of strongest sorcerer on this continent. But, since Az had someone, who could only be described as outlandish, right next to him, he ended up completely vanishing in their shadow.
“Okay, for the sake of cooling it down in one go, I’ll use <Ice Storm> at full power…”
“Won’t that make it impossible for us to land, even if we ignore the need to cool down the area!?”
Shion grabbed Renya’s neck from behind and frantically obstructed him from instantly and chantlessly invoking a spell at the same level and scale as the one Az had somehow managed to cast after using a wand, which was used to support the caster’s control on the spell, and using the proper spell chant.
Az couldn’t help but clearly feel the abysmally large difference in their abilities, but he also felt as if it was inevitable, seeing how the other party was Renya. Having a dire need to take a break for now, Az averted his eyes from Renya, who was now being stopped by Rona from casting yet another spell of aberrant proportions, and let out a deep breath, allowing all the power to escape from his body as he exhaled.
The spell, which Renya used to extinguish the fire Az created in order to secure a landing spot for Dra-kun, after being thoroughly cautioned about its power in advance, covered an area that was slightly larger than the one Az had set fire to despite all the warnings. Neither Renya himself nor Az, as an expert looking at Renya’s spellcasting from the sidelines, knew whether it was an issue with the technique or Renya’s personality, but it was pretty obvious that Renya sucked at using spells which had their firepower dampened.
Even so, we’re probably very lucky that things ended with Renya just cooling the area I ignited, and freezing some of the trees around it, Az judged.
Although Az had secured a fairly large area, Dra-kun’s body filled a big part of it when he slowly touched down. Renya thought that the remaining area might be a bit too small for seven people to sleep in. He deliberated on whether he should expand the area a bit, but he gave up on the idea. Because it could take a bad turn, resulting in them losing their camping ground, if he burned the area too much, not to mention the area becoming useless if he were to freeze it completely.
While persuading himself that they’d just need to bear with it for one night anyway, Renya retrieved a tent, which had been rolled up to make it small, from his inventory.
Due to the low, subdued voice he could hear coming from behind, Renya, who had taken out their luggage, reflexively stopped working and lowered his eyes towards the object lying nearby. Its outward appearance was that of a plain, folded tent. However, for some reason a note was attached to the rope used to tie the tent up. “Exclusively for married couples” was written on it in red letters.
Renya couldn’t help but get a bad feeling about this. It actually made him feel the urge to stop unwrapping the tent any further. However, with various goods being stuffed into his inventory, it wasn’t as if Renya had gone as far as to bring a spare tent with him. If he were to give up on using one of the tents now, it would result in some of the group members not having a tent to sleep in.
While sensing Az’s intense gaze on his back, Renya regretted not having checked his luggage more strictly if he had known that things would turn out like this. Still, going along with the approach that he couldn’t help it at this point in time either way, he untied the rope, immediately setting up the tent. Once it was finished, it was no more than an ordinary tent.
Quizzically in Renya’s case, and dubiously in Az’s case, who had gotten close to Renya without him noticing, they both peered into the tent. It was definitely a tent that would feel somewhat cramped if two people used it. However, it was large enough that two people would be able to enter even without tightly clinging to each other. It gave one the impression that at most they might touch each other’s bodies if they were to stir in their sleep. Even if he felt some resistance towards saying that the tent was catered towards married couples, it wasn’t something that would justify a scolding.
As this seemed to have caught Az by surprise, he looked at Renya with a complicated expression, a mix of apology and awkwardness. Renya only shrugged at that.
Renya, who tried to open the next tent thinking that such anticlimactic things occasionally happened as well, suddenly had small letters appear in his visual field.
<Information: Appraisal Function – Confirmed effects: 「Soundproof」, 「Stamina Increase」, 「Concealment」, and 「Deodorization」. These effects will be triggered upon detecting a breach of a fixed threshold for each effect.>
Once his sight went back to normal after getting startled, he realized that the appraisal target had doubtlessly been the tent he had set up moments ago. Even when he tried using his appraisal skill of his own volition, believing that something might have gone wrong since it had triggered on its own, he was shown the same exact text.
Renya spontaneously covered his face with his left hand, baffled by the opportune timing of appraisal’s invocation, but it was too late. Next to him, Az had realized that Renya had noticed something from his expression and his re-examination of the tent.
“Renya, did you find something? Why don’t you tell me what you found?”
Renya lacked the words with which to answer Az, who was pressing him for an answer with a smile. The effects applied to the tent were way too blunt. The purpose behind all these effects was plain.
As for the offender, there was really only one person that came to mind. With Emil being absent right now, the only one capable of casting so many effects on the tent was Frau. As for the person in question, she swiftly climbed onto Dra-kun’s back as soon as her deed came to light, watching the situation progress, ready to flee at any moment.
Even while Renya thought, “That damned, ill-minded cat,” Frau wasn’t within arms-reach, and she was too skilled to be caught with magic arts. Only Liaris alone stood still, not understanding what was going on. The other party members somewhat guessed from the atmosphere that Frau had done something bad once again, and looked up at Frau from the side.
“Come on, please tell me Renya, just what’s wrong with this tent?”
Having determined that he probably wouldn’t receive any help from anyone, Renya decided to plead ignorance.
It might seem unnatural and fishy, but I don’t have another choice here. Without a doubt it’s absolutely impossible to be completely honest here, and tell him that they can fuck like rabbits since it’s a tent with tricks set up so that no one outside notices.
“Your attitude is far too shady for it to be nothing. It’s not good to keep secrets. Spit it out.”
Probably convinced by now that something was wrong, Az closed the distance between them by taking a step forward, causing Renya to retreat the same distance. It wasn’t as if Renya himself had done anything wrong. However, considering their conversation before their departure, it was pretty clear that Az would hold Renya responsible, even if he might suspect that all of it had been done by Frau.
“Hurry up, Renya. You know that resistance is futile.”
“It’s really nothing. At the very least nothing will happen if you don’t do anything.”
Renya’s remark, which indirectly hinted at something through a change in pronunciation and emphasis, caused Az to get far more flustered than Renya had expected. In the first place, the tent didn’t have any effects that would harm the people staying within. It was merely equipped with a trick that would hide what was going on inside. As to how to use said functions, it had been entrusted to the judgment of the occupants.
Once Renya had realized that aspect, it wasn’t all that difficult to escape Az’s persistent interrogation. When Az was told that everything would depend on Liaris and him, even Az couldn’t press Renya for an answer any more.
Renya smiled as he tapped Az’s shoulder who was at a loss for words with an expression that seemed somewhat vexed. In reality, it wouldn’t be a problem at all, as long as Az and Liaris were to sleep in different tents. However, since things had developed in the direction of them using the same tent going by the flow and atmosphere, Renya decided to entrust the whole situation to its natural flow without saying anything.
For starters, I think I should catch Frau and tie her up somewhere, Renya assessed.
There were no particular issues with the tent’s effects, but he was almost 100% sure that the tent could be perceived as a trap. That didn’t mean that it was furnished with some kind of contrivance. The problem with the tent weren’t the spells cast on it but the ability to detect when a certain threshold was exceeded. Furthermore, when a threshold was breached it would be passed on to the enchanter.
If something were to start inside the tent, Frau would learn of it through the activation of the spells.
In other words, this tent… Renya glared in annoyance at the tent he had just set up, …isn’t a place offered to Liaris and Az for something to happen, but a trap created by Frau designed to lure them into doing it.
As for what Frau had planned, Renya didn’t think he really wanted to know. He really didn’t want to know, but Az and Liaris were Renya’s friends. Renya believed that he had an obligation to prevent something like video recordings of what the two were doing in bed spreading through illegal channels in Klinge before it actually took place.
“It’s just for my own private entertainment ~nano!”
No matter how irregular Frau was as a silky, she had no means to escape Renya once he got serious. Renya swiftly wrapped her up in a bamboo mat without listening to any of her protests, and hung it from the branch of a tree close to the camp as if she was a bagworm.
Renya felt like she could get out of it right away if she wanted, but he believed that Frau understood the message he wanted to convey by doing this.
“Good work, Renya.” Shion greeted Renya as he was looking up at the result of his work – a sullen looking Frau swaying back and forth despite the lack of wind.
Renya wondered why he had to be so exhausted just from camping.
“No kidding. Well, whatever. I’ll prepare dinner, and once we’ve eaten, we’ll go to sleep. We’ll most likely need to get up very early tomorrow. Regardless of what you or I might say, in the end this is still the Miasma Forest.”
Since a dragon was with them, the probability of monsters approaching was low. Even if the Miasma Forest was a trove of monsters, not that many were capable of dealing with dragons, and even if they were to approach, their presence would be noticed.
While looking behind Shion, where Croire was struggling after having her hands tied behind her back by Rona for some reason, Renya continued, “We’ll have Frau keep watch for the most part. A fairy that has no problem going without sleep is quite handy at such times, isn’t she?”
Frau raised her voice in discontent about being treated as an alarm, but Renya heartlessly ignored her.
If she has a body that doesn’t need sleep, she should take a proactive approach and offer to stand watch, Renya believed.
The matter of it being a fairly savage method, if you just went by the fact that a being with the appearance of a cute fairy was being forced to stand watch while hanging down from a tree all night long, didn’t even register with Renya as something to consider.
“To be honest, I couldn’t care less about Frau’s treatment.”
“Shion-ane-sama!?” Frau screamed out in surprise and protest while swinging back and forth, but Shion completely ignored her as well.
As if having something to talk about that was far more important than this, determination dyed Shion’s eyes, and yet she let her eyes wander for a brief moment. But, before long she looked straight at Renya, and said, “Renya, tonight…I was wondering where you’re going to sleep…”
“Oh, I’ll sleep on Dra-kun’s back. Considering where we are right now, I’ll stand watch as well, just in case.”
If he slept on Dra-kun’s back with its decent height and unobstructed view, Renya would likely know if something happened. Once Renya explained so, Shion’s shoulders slumped and her expression became one of disappointment. Just muttering, “I see,” she trudged away with her head hung low.
As he was wondering whether she had prepared a tent for him, Renya noticed out of the corner of his eye how Croire, who had stopped struggling all of a sudden, and Rona, who was still pinning her down, were looking in his direction as if they wanted to tell him something.
“Master, you’re too much of a herbivore ~no.” Frau said while still swaying back and forth.
Even Renya would notice that her swaying wasn’t merely due to her struggling, but that she was actually trying to snap the rope through friction or break the tree branch, if she kept on swinging back and forth. Of course Renya had foreseen as much, and had consequently chosen a sturdy branch and some strong rope so that they would endure such attempts.
“If your behavior is too gentlemanly, you will be taken as good-for-nothing ~no.”
“Being a good-for-nothing is fine with me. At least in regards to this matter.”
“Master, do you possibly have a seminal problem? If you wish, Frau will carefully examine you and apply the necessary treatment ~no.”
Renya pondered for a while due to Frau saying weird stuff with a serious face, and then whispered, “Now then…I guess I’ll build a bonfire here to keep the area well lit.”
“Eh!? W-Wait a moment, master!? Please stop ~no! You don’t need to pile up firewood beneath Frau’s feet ~no! A roasted fairy doesn’t taste good ~no! …You’ve started to say “crack crack” ~no? Eh!? You’re serious!? Wait, it’s hot! Hooot ~no! Smoooky ~no! I’ll apologize so please let me off the hook ~nooo!!”
The firewood seemed to be moist. Once Renya started the fire with the <Ignition> spell, a weak flame and lots of smoke rose up. The sound of the wood popping, smoke, and blended into all of that, Frau’s screaming.
While wondering whether the noise and smell might lure over all the monsters left in the vicinity, Renya watched over the state of the bonfire after driving this worry from his mind.
The next day, after the big furor, Renya’s party cleaned up the campsite, and got back on Dra-kun’s back, who then kicked off the ground, slowly rising into the skies. The source of the furor, Frau, had stood watch along Renya all night long, but fortunately human eating monsters hadn’t attacked the camp, or heard Frau’s screams.
Following Renya’s instruction to go to sleep with a peace of mind, all of them were able to get a good long rest last night. Renya had noticed that Az and Liaris had entered the same tent from atop Dra-kun, but he didn’t say anything about it, pretending not to have seen anything.
However, while Renya spent the whole night on Dra-kun’s back as his chosen bedding, he also noticed that Dra-kun would stir every once in a while, or he would suddenly open his eyes, looking as if he was about to die. As he witnessed the very unusual expressions of a huge lizard being on the verge of death, Renya had been mystified, wondering exactly what might be going on that would cause Dra-kun to make such a face, but in the end he failed to come to a conclusion as to what could have caused it. He had also considered that Liaris, Dra-kun’s mistress, might possess some sort of knowledge that could help solve the riddle, but since he somehow sensed that he mustn’t touch on the topic with her, Renya decided to erase it from his memory.
In regards to Frau, Renya let her dangle above the bonfire for the whole night, believing that she occasionally needed to be strictly punished. However, this fairy was truly terrifying.
Even though she had continuously been roasted above a fire for hours on end, she didn’t have a single burn mark when morning dawned. Given that she had fussed about it being hot and smoky the whole time, Renya thought that it might be a perfect punishment since it’d somewhat hurt her. But, Renya definitely hadn’t expected her to get through the whole ordeal without even a single scratch.
But, when he considered it further, he realized that Frau was a fairy and, moreover, possessed knowledge about magic arts.
Something at the level of preventing any kind of damage to her body if it comes to something as weak as a bonfire’s flames might be a piece of cake for Frau, Renya realized his own shallow thinking.
“I guess I’ll keep hitting her with spells all night long on our next stop.”
“Master, even Frau would perish from something like that ~no.”
Even if protecting herself from flames was trivial to her, it seemed to have caused a certain level of exhaustion as she had to keep it going all night long. Frau prostrated herself in front of Renya with a worn-out expression. Seeing that, Renya judged that Frau would likely tone down her mischief for a while. But then again, this ‘while’ was a limited and vague period of time, and Renya was sure that she’d definitely revive like a phoenix from the ashes sooner or later. He gave up, judging that it might be impossible to deprive a fairy of its mischievous side, and shelved any further thoughts about the matter for the time being.
Renya’s mind couldn’t be described as overly serene and peaceful, but contrary to his circumstances, Dra-kun steadily flew through the thickly overgrown Miasma Forest at a decent speed. While watching the scenery stream past and vanishing behind him, Renya suddenly voiced out something that irked him.
“It’s fine and all that we’re moving while riding on Dra-kun’s back, but…”
“Pardon?” Croire replied.
The other members didn’t respond since they were captivated by the scenery they rarely got a chance to see, remained unmoving due to being dead tired, probably because they had used up all their energy, or didn’t hear Renyaas they were fully concentrated on Dra-kun’s flight.
“Normally, the heroes would have to cross this forest, invade the demon territory, and go all the way to the demon king’s castle located in the center of the demon’s continent, right?”
“That’s correct. The demon king himself appearing at the front lines has almost never happened, but what about it?” Croire tilted her head in confusion, wondering why he was mentioning all this.
In response, Renya tossed her a question, “The humans and the beastmen’s ordinary military forces would also take part in the battle against the demons, no? That means they’d move by foot, wouldn’t they? Just how are they supposed to worry about something like a war, if they’ll be totally exhausted just from passing through this huge, harsh forest?”
“Assuming they cross the forest in one breath, your worries would be correct, Renya.”
No matter how powerful an army, the Miasma Forest was infested by many monsters, on top of being ridiculously huge. Renya regarded walking through such a forest while constantly dealing with attacks as something extremely difficult. That’s why he also believed that the soldiers and heroes would be completely exhausted when they finally managed to exit on the other side. Moreover, it wasn’t as if they would immediately stand in front of the demon king just because they finally left the forest. The army would be forced to march towards the center of the demon country traveling through land inhabited by the demons. It was an endeavor that didn’t seem very feasible to him.
“Since they can’t get through the forest in one go, they’d take it slowly.”
According to Croire’s explanation, the four races would slowly conquer the Miasma Forest leading their respective armies once the demon king subjugation started. It’d turn into a very meticulous conquest where the races would slay the surrounding monsters, clear a path by felling the trees, and build military bases along the way.
“The longest demon king subjugation recorded in history took five years from its start to its conclusion.”
“That’s way too long, isn’t it?”
“It looks like a hero passed away due to sickness on the way, or some such.”
“Sounds like they were too much of a weakling!?”
Even though Renya gave such a response, he was sure that the hero in question had regretted passing away without being able to accomplish his goal. He had been preordained as the strongest combat asset of the anti-demon king army, and yet he had passed away after succumbing to sickness. It should have given him endless mortification and regret.
“There’s a general trend that the damage done by the demons will increase the longer the demon king subjugation drags out. Even during the time of the oldest recorded subjugation, the reconstruction took many, many years until the four races had mostly recovered to the same level as before the war.”
Just what are the residents of this world doing, Renya was baffled, but naturally didn’t voice it out. However, if the people of this world had to pay with this many casualties and lost years of development, the demon king could also be described as a being that had to be defeated by any means necessary.
“But, if they invaded for months and even years, wouldn’t it have been fine just to keep the paths and bases created within the forest for later generations?”
“The demon king subjugation was carried out many times in the past, but…the paths and bases created during those times were never used again afterwards.” Croire said while looking at the forest spreading out beneath them, “Even if the Miasma Forest is cleared away at one point in time, the trees grow back at an absurd rate once you neglect it for a short period of time, burying any traces of it ever having been cleared in the process.”
Croire explained to Renya that there had been initiatives to maintain the invasion routes for when the demon king would reappear several times in the past. However, each time it resulted in the people abandoning the invasion routes after losing to the forest’s growth speed. Not being able to frequently maintain the whole route as they were simply way too long became the reason why the people couldn’t protect the routes or the bases from the forest’s encroachment.
“If you allow me to say it from our standpoint, what we are doing right now could be called abnormal. We never even considered the idea of crossing the forest by using dragons as a means of transportation.”
“Dragoons existed in the past, didn’t they?”
Currently Liaris was the sole existing dragoon. But, even if there had been an incident leading to the dragoons’ destruction a long while ago, it still didn’t negate the fact that they had existed on the continent.
“You’re right about that, but it’s not like you can invade all the way to the demon king’s castle only with dragoons, right? Even if every dragoon were mobilized, the dragons would still run out of stamina before reaching the castle since they would be flying while carrying the heroes on their back,” explained Croire.
If the dragons ran out of stamina, the dragoons would be deprived of most of their combat strength. Then the heroes would probably get ganged up on by the demons after being stranded in the midst of the demon country. No matter how powerful the heroes might be, anyone would give a negative answer if asked whether the heroes would be able to fight their way through all the demons, and then defeat the demon king at the very end.
Ultimately the whole war was about allowing the heroes to stand before the demon king in a somewhat secure setting, and that was the very reason why all the races would mobilize their armies and march into the demon’s territory.
“We are doing something similar right now, aren’t we?”
“Considering it normally, it’s crazy.”
Croire didn’t voice any objections towards Emil’s search, but she thought that there might have been a somewhat smarter way of handling it.
Still, the saving grace is that we don’t need to fight the demon king this time. If we manage to locate Emil’s whereabouts and kidnap her, this whole endeavor will become a success, even if we have to run for our lives afterwards. Since we can have Rona search for Emil with her divine arts, I think we’ll be able to locate her without too much trouble, Croire estimated.
However, considering all these conditions, this whole trip would normally be labeled as extremely difficult to achieve. Giving others the impression that this crazy endeavor might work out one way or another is due to Klinge’s people having outlandish combat prowess, starting with Renya. But then again, I’m counted as one of them as well, Croire flashed a bitter smile. It was a story she wouldn’t have believed during her student days in the elven country.
“Well, it’s because elves grow up very slowly.”
“I’m sorry to bother you, but do you have a sec?” Liaris suddenly cut into their conversation after having concentrated on steering Dra-kun’s flight so far.
Having their conversation interrupted, Croire and Renya faced Liaris, wondering what she wanted to talk about. Sensing something from her behavior, Shion and Rona also stopped gazing at the scenery and focused on Liaris. Without them noticing, Dra-kun had stopped flying in a straight line, as he had been doing uptil now, and had now shifted to a flight path similar to circling.
“It looks like Dra-kun has sensed something like a wall.”
Everyone looked in the direction Liaris was pointing to, but from what they could see, nothing that resembled a wall was visible anywhere. Still, if a dragon with its sharp senses said that there was something, there was a very high probability that the wall Dra-kun mentioned existed. And it was very feasible that it’d be the barrier Kilie had mentioned to Renya alongside the information that news from the Trident Principality’s intelligence unit in the demon territory had stopped coming in.
“Now then, all that’s left is the matter of how we’re going to break it and get inside.”
“The best option would be to sneak in and sneak out in secret, I’d say.” Shion commented, but it didn’t take a genius to know that this would be the hardest option.
You could say, they wouldn’t be in such a bind if something like that were possible in the first place. To begin with, judging by Renya’s knowledge of dragon sorcery, a barrier like this had functions to repel invaders, and to inform the caster in case the barrier was breached. In other words, whether they do it sneakily or flashily, the caster would suspect an invasion the moment the barrier got broken.
“If that’s the case then we should go all out and put on a flashy show ~no!” Frau stood up on Dra-kun’s back and declared loudly after having revived at some point.
After everyone except Frau exchanged glances, they all nodded at almost the exact same moment.
“In the end, using force is the simplest and most promising option here.”
Also it’s the way of handling things that suits us the most, Renya assessed while staring in the direction that the wall was supposed to be in.
If we’re talking about destroying a wall with brute force, it’s definitely my turn, Renya places a hand on the katana at his waist. Just as he was rising to his feet, Rona’s voice stopped him.
“Please wait, Renya.” Once Renya looked in Rona’s direction while still half standing since he didn’t understand why she stopped him, Rona added with an expression teeming with fighting spirit, “It’s something else if it comes to battle, but the target this time is an immobile wall. Wouldn’t it be the perfect moment to leave this to us while preserving our strongest combat asset if possible?”
Renya carefully deliberated Rona’s question in his mind. He concluded that she hadn’t said anything too unreasonable, but still felt doubtful about the fact that Rona was the one making such a request out of everyone here.
If someone brought up a topic that they would usually never touch upon, it was only natural to believe that there must be something behind doing so. Renya was sure that this time was no exception, and thus frankly confronted Rona, who looked rather complacent as if she had said something quite decent.
“And what’s your real intention?”
“Not only do I want to try releasing my divine arts at full power every now and then, now that I have become a saint, my repertoire of arts has increased as well.” Rona bluntly declared something reckless and dangerous with a smile plastered all over her face, reflecting her confidence, while throwing out her chest.
Not knowing how he should answer her, Renya helplessly offered a prayer by clapping his hands twice to her magnificently protruding twin hills.
“What’s this about…?”
“I just felt like it. Anyway…”
This time it was Croire who interrupted Renya as he was about to say something, “It might be a good idea, Renya. That wall might be a good target to have you learn about our current powers before we charge into the demon country.”
You sure are a smooth talker, Renya thought, but couldn’t find any objection that could be made against Croire’s argument and the idea in general. She’s right. Seeing how we’re going to enter enemy territory soon, an opportunity to witness the abilities of those following me is necessary.
Even if it developed into a situation where Renya had to destroy the wall himself, it wouldn’t affect their circumstances in any way. Assuming they’d fail altogether, hitting the wall from the outside would draw the attention of those inside, but it was difficult to imagine that the person, who was refusing entry into the demon territory by setting up such a large barrier, wouldn’t notice a dragon flying around close to the wall to begin with. If they had planned to make some kind of move, they’d have done so by now.
All that’s left is how long it’s going to take, but if it looks like it’ll take too long, I just need to wrap it up myself, Renya judged. But then again his judgment was based on the assumption that he could destroy this wall with his own hands, and in the current situation, even Renya couldn’t say for sure whether this was true.
“If you’re fine with it, Renya, I don’t mind either, but what’s your take?” Shion asked Renya as he was absorbed in his own thoughts.
However, as her tone revealed that she wasn’t all gung-ho about going along with Rona and Croire’s suggestion, Renya said while looking confused, “How unusual. I was pretty sure that you’d immediately jump on this opportunity, Shion.”
“Renya, I’m at a disadvantage here. What I can do from atop Dra-kun is fairly limited.”
It appeared that Shion wasn’t very eager to join this because it took place under circumstances that wouldn’t allow her to make full use of her abilities, and not because she believed the idea itself to be wrong. Renya felt relieved as it was a very normal, Shion-like way of thinking.
But she’s correct. A swordsman can only exhibit their full strength by using their sword. Slashing the sword atop Dra-kun is difficult, and it’s not like the attacks would reach the wall either.
Renya had the option of relying on his huge mana pool and the dragon knowledge to launch magic art attacks. But, even if Shion had learned how to manipulate mana recently, she’d only be able to fire spells that would be considerably inferior to any of Renya’s magic arts.
Having considered things up to this point, Renya stumbled upon a single truth. Shion’s current weapon was the katana Renya had forged for her. And it goes without saying that, Renya’s weapon was a katana as well, or in other words, there was almost no difference in their combat range.
“There’s no way for a weapon that doesn’t reach the target to hit, regardless of whether Shion or I wield it.”
Renya’s reach might go a bit further. However, the difference between Shion and Renya could be labeled as a measurement error when compared to Dra-kun’s huge body. In short, Renya didn’t have any effective way to make his strongest attack reach the wall either.
As a last resort, he could get down on the ground, approach the wall by foot, and cut at it from down there, but in comparison to having flown all the way here on a dragon, it’d be a rather lackluster, plain method to choose.
“So, what’s it going to be, Renya?” Croire asked.
Renya immediately answered, “Alright, I leave it in your hands then.”
If Croire and Rona manage to somehow handle it with their methods, it would be the most stylish approach.
“I suppose I’ll serve as the opener then.” Az got up, holding Rona back as she was about to move now that she had received Renya’s permission.
While Shion was soothing Rona who was trying to object with a terribly unhappy expression, Liaris cheered on Az who had started to concentrate while holding his wand.
“I believe in you, Az!”
“Sure, I got this.”
Renya muttered, “Damn love birds,” at Az, who lifted the corners of his mouth as he gave his short reply. But that only earned Renya a slap on the back of his head from Shion and Rona who were behind him.
“<Offering mine power, what I desire is a jail of crimson flames>”
Hearing Az’ chant, Renya immediately tried to look up the corresponding spell within the draconic magic art knowledge he possessed, and was startled. He couldn’t find anything.
“<Twist, rage, ravage – Oh world, scream as you shall become a blazing field of fire>”
The red brilliance, which had converged onto a single point in the air, completely dyed everyone’s visual field crimson red an instant later. The explosion, which was kind of difficult to classify as a sound, became a shockwave that jolted Dra-kun’s big frame.
“50 points ~nano.” Frau gave a very harsh assessment as she was tightly hugged from behind by Renya while he braced himself so that they wouldn’t be knocked off Dra-kun’s violently shaking back.
Panting, with one knee on Dra-kun’s back, Az smiled bitterly after hearing Frau’s scoring while the red gleam and the shockwave kept fading away.
“That’s a fairly harsh grading system.”
“I didn’t expect that you could use the fire attribute’s Extreme spell <Roaring Fire> ~no. But, it’s a spell with the purpose of causing wide-area destruction, which means you have misused it here ~no.”
The fact that the dragons don’t know about this spell probably means that it’s been hidden from them by the people after developing it on their own, Renya assessed. Even if that in itself wasn’t anything extraordinary, it still bore the question within Renya as to why Frau knew all about it, but the question vanished in no time. Because he realized that this kind of question would quickly be repelled with the argument that it was Frau they were talking about here. By the way, it goes without saying, but Renya’s own assessment was identical to that of his party members.
“So, what’s the state of the wall?”
“It seems to be going strong ~no. But…” Frau pointed at a single point in the sky from within Renya’s arms.
Once all of them looked at the spot Frau indicated, the space which ought to have been empty seemed distorted over a fairly large area at roughly the same altitude as the one Dra-kun was flying at .
“I’d say it worked up to the point of distorting the wall’s structure ~no.”
“Dra-kun, ready your <Dragon’s Breath>!”
Immediately after Liaris’ command, a red light dwelt within Dra-kun’s muzzle. The light was condensing while flickering, and flared up as Dra-kun put even more power into it.
“Aim! Dra-kun, fire your <Dragon’s Breath>!”
A straight line of fire ripped through the sky upon Liaris’ command. Compared to Az’s spell moments ago, it was somewhat inferior, but it was still the breath unleashed by a dragon.
The flames crashed into the distortion, causing it to distort even further, but unable to destroy the invisible wall, the flames dispersed.
“Third shooter, Croire!” Croire started in no time.
Even while it wasn’t clear whether Dra-kun’s flames had completely vanished, her mouth began to spin a chant.
“<Beloved forest, pay heed to the voice of the one worshiping you, and please grant her wish>”
This spell had no equivalent within Renya’s sorcery knowledge either.
“Frau, what’s this?”
“I don’t know ~no. Frau only possesses the knowledge of humans. Frau doesn’t know the techniques characteristic of the elves ~no.”
As might be expected, even Frau hadn’t absorbed the elven knowledge. And even if she had obtained that knowledge without Renya knowing, he felt that the spell Croire was using right now wasn’t known by many elves. This was very obvious from the vast and mighty power Croire’s chant set in motion.
“<Clench thy fist and spur thy anger at the folly blocking mine path, smashing apart anything and everything without distinction>”
Compared to Az’s spell, Croire’s sorcery lacked flashiness. However, the enormous mana concentration, which had been given directionality by Croire’s chant, turned into a gigantic, physical fist, punching the distorted space created by Az, Liaris, and Dra-kun.
Without an explosion or even a sound, the sky shook from the impact, and Dra-kun screamed as he was unable to endure the turbulence.
“A correct choice of technique ~nano. But, it has resulted in a terrible aftermath ~no.” Frau said with her eyes spinning while watching the space warp drastically.
Even Renya leaked a small groan from the shockwave that seemed to pierce his entire body, albeit soundlessly. Among all the commotion, only Croire sharply clicking her tongue could be heard very clearly.
Although the mana fist had greatly extended the distorted space, it wasn’t powerful enough to penetrate the wall.
“Fourth shooter, Rona Chevalier!”
Standing up and looking towards the sky, Rona sonorously began to sing while extending her arms high into the sky.
“<I beseech thou, oh lord whom I worship, heavenly guardian of this world, thy name is Giliel>”
Startled, Shion, Liaris, and Az stared at Rona. Croire fixed her sitting posture on Dra-kun’s back with a bitter expression, and Renya didn’t understand why they reacted like this.
“The name Rona-ane-sama said just now…” Frau was gazing at Rona with a somewhat dumbfounded expression as if she had heard something unbelievable.
“What do you mean?”
“Normally it’d be considered disrespectful to call upon the name of a higher ranked being than the caster when using divine arts ~no. That’s why priests never use the name of their deity when using divine arts ~no.” Frau continued, “Well, even if they wanted to, none of them knows the name in the first place ~no.”
Rona boldly continued her chant which seemed to do away with what had been considered common sense so far, “<Exhibit thy great might to these inferior lands, and make thy grace known through this body of thy humble apostle>” Support the translator by reading this for free at infinite novel translations!
Light was cast down from the sky. And even while thinking that he might be hallucinating, Renya felt as if he saw the figure of a certain black-haired twintail girl within the light that quickly transformed into what seemed to be many wing-like shapes.
“<Bless the lands with thy light>”
Heaven and earth were connected by a pillar of light. If seen from afar, this whole spectacle might look mystical and sublime. But, it wasn’t something so simple for Renya’s party, who experienced it up close.
“Isn’t this kinda dangerous!?”
Besides the noise and impact, an unbelievable heat assailed Dra-kun and those on his back. Sensing the danger in an instant, Renya deployed a defense barrier at full power, but they were hit by a shockwave so strong that even Renya’s barrier looked like it could break at any moment. Dra-kun, who didn’t even have the power to scream, single-mindedly concentrated on flapping his wings while looking as if he had somehow resigned himself to fate.
Given that things had turned out like this just from the aftermath, it wasn’t difficult to imagine what would happen to the part directly hit by the light.
“Did it manage to pierce through!?” Rona shouted while covering her face with an arm since she would probably go blind if she looked into the light directly, but as the other party members were in a similar situation, none of them could tell her what had happened to the wall.
Only Frau alone stared at where Rona’s divine art impacted while squinting her eyes within the dazzling light.
“…It looks like it endured ~no.” Frau muttered with annoyance written all over her face while neither the light nor the shockwave had died down yet.
Renya fully grasped that the four attacks hurled at the wall had enough power that they might have been able to destroy a country in the worst case scenario. He was partially amazed and surprised at the wall’s abnormal toughness, allowing it to persist.
While at it, he also harbored the extremely rude impression that Giliel wasn’t of much use for being the goddess of this world. In response, Renya felt like he could hear a woman sobbing somewhere.
“Shion-ane-sama! It needs one more push ~nano! It’s your chance to steal the spotlight ~no!”
In front of Renya, who wondered about this ridiculous way of cheering, Shion unsheathed the katana at her hip. Frau released a spell towards Shion who held the katana in both hands as it glossily reflected Rona’s still gleaming light.
Shion brandished her sword, aiming at the surging lightning attack. Of course Frau had timed her spell so that Shion would be able to intercept it, but once Shion’s slash hit the lightning strike, the katana was clad by the lightning as it coiled itself around the blade.
“Mana Enhancement, full power!”
As soon as Shion’s mana and Frau’s restrained spell combined, the lightning gushing out of the blade increased in intensity, glittering whiteley.
Watching how the crackling electrical discharges began to violently strike against Renya’s defensive barrier from within, he hurriedly canceled the barrier, changing it to a barrier protecting his, Croire, Az, and Liaris’ bodies.
“Shion, the lightning is leaking! Hurry up and release!”
A lightning blade flashed as it tore through the atmosphere from the katana which Shion had swung down with all her might. Renya thought that it’d be his turn next if this didn’t finish the job, but at the end of his line of sight he could see how the warped space was completely ripped apart, following the cut line of Shion’s sword flash.
“Dra-kun! Charge in!”
Upon Liaris’ command, Dra-kun turned his head back for an instant, seemingly wanting to protest about plunging in there, but succumbing to the pressure exerted from the gazes of everyone on his back, he did as told, and dove towards the breach in the wall.
“Okay, good work everyone ~no. You should use this opportunity to replenish your mana from the magic stones master created ~no.”
Just as Renya fired himself up again as they would be facing the demon country from now on, Frau began to scurry around between Rona and the others after having slipped out of Renya’s embrace, distributing fist-sized magic stones to everyone.
Recovery was certainly an important job, but Renya somehow felt how his motivation, which he had just boosted, plummeted again due to a lack of tension around him.
“Now, now, it’s how we handle things, right Renya?” Shion intervened while laughing, seemingly having guessed how Renya felt.
Thinking that she was right about it on the one hand, and that it was fine like this on the other hand, Renya faced forwards, straight ahead, where Dra-kun was flying in order to remain cautious for the time being since he didn’t need to recover any mana.
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