Ch. 217 Under The Same Moon
I flew for about half a day. My surroundings became cloaked in darkness as the moon suspended itself in the sky. Soon, a city finally came into view, covered by its outer wall.
It’s the country Adofu was talking about: Ardezia.
My gut tells me that if I go any farther than this, we’ll be spotted. It’s still a little ways away, but I decided to land. I wonder what I should do from here?
With the warding stones lined up around it, there shouldn’t be any monsters around… but if possible, I’d like to escort her to the country. Should I humanize and accompany her? The problem though, is that my [[Humanization]] isn’t flawless. I managed to get into Haranae while concealing my face, but they felt quite suspicious of me along the way… There’s bound to be rumors abound in Haranae that I was a humanized dragon.
I’m not sure in what way Adofu and Hagen would explain that. What way it’ll lean will depend on how the townspeople take it and in what way the church wants it pieced together. In the future, once information that there was a humanized dragon inevitably flows from Haranae to Ardezia, it’s not out of the question that people’s impressions of Nina will worsen depending on the situation.
I’d like to think that, from what I heard, Haranae wouldn’t be one to throw their weight around and demand Nina’s custody from Ardezia, and I’d like to think that Adofu would probably more or less shoulder me there…, but even so, I’d mostly like to put those concerns to rest for good. Would it be best for me to part with her right around here and watch over her from a distance so that the worst doesn’t happen?
I stopped walking and let Nina dismount me.
“Mister Irushia, Mister Ball Bunny…, thank you, thank you, thank you so much for everything you’ve done for Nina up until now, Nya. We’re sure… we’re sure to meet again, Nina and you, Mister Dragon, won’t we?”
Ball Rabbit and I were both at a loss for answers.
Partner replied first. Again. You reeeally don’t read the room… do you? No, wait, is it possible that this is after you’ve read it?
Following Partner, I also replied. And Ball Rabbit… Ball Rabbit? What’s wrong? You’re the last one. If you want to say something to her, then…
Suddenly, I felt a presence coming up from behind me. Humans. Seems like they hid their presence and drew near me. This isn’t good. Should I have stayed a little more vigilant being this close to the country?
While I was looking back over my shoulder, I lightly swept my tail over my surroundings. Only lightly. I don’t have any intention of killing them.
A plume of sand rises. The tip of my tail was repelled as it hit the human presences. It seems like they fended it off well.
The one that repelled my tail was a man sporting navy blue hair. He fell onto his back and onto the gritty ground, throwing up sand.
“You blockhead! Withdraw! What the hell are you even doing, Cain!? A big thing like that ain’t something we can handle! We’re heading back to the country at once and reporting this!”
Even further in the back was a man, sitting astride on a horse.
“There- there’s a child and a hare being hunted down!”
The man sporting navy blue hair, Cain, got up. Seems like he had bit his lip when he crashed into the ground, as blood was running down his mouth. He wiped the blood off with the back of his hand. His chestplate was in shambles. Seems like it couldn’t bear the brunt of my tail.
However, Nina aside, did it appear to them that even Ball Rabbit was one of the ones getting attacked? Even Adofu told me that, since ball rabbits are mild-mannered, they’re known to be considered as pets.
“We discovered it! If we get torn to shreds, then Ardezia will end up being attacked by a dragon when it’s defenseless! If that happens, then countless people will die!”
“If we don’t get torn to shreds, it’ll be fine, right!? Then go on ahead of me!”
“Tch-! If you wanna die, then be my guest!”
The man who was riding the horse took it on a wide detour to avoid me and headed off towards Ardezia.
“You there! Kid! You alright!?”
Cain shouted over me to Nina.
“Pl-please wait! Nya! You’ve got it all wrong! Mister Irushi-… Mister Dragon saved Ni-…”
I slammed my tail against the ground. The surface of the earth buckled, causing a huge shockwave to jolt across it. Nina fell to the ground.
“Damnit-! I’ll save you, just hold tight!”
Cain readied his sword and threw himself upon me.
If I try to explain myself, chances are I’ll make them extra suspicious. Making a bad first impression is… not the best.
Anyway, I don’t have any need to go into Ardezia with this figure. It’s more convenient for me if they mistakenly think I’m hunting them down. It probably would’ve been difficult to explain how we got here. I could have said that we walked, or that there was someone who gave us a ride in their carriage along the way, or whatever. Probably.
I turned my attention to Partner, secretly signaling for her to not do anything more than necessary.
As I roared, I slammed my forefoot down directly in front of Cain. Cain jumped onto my forefoot and from there, slashed at my face that I had stuck out.
The flame-covered sword sliced across the side of my cheek.
I was going to take the hit on purpose anyways, but I took more damage than I thought I would. He’s good at what he does.
I stepped back as I quickly pulled my head in. Will taking just this one good blow be a good enough excuse for me to run away?
And that’s when Ball Rabbit fell off of my body. Ball Rabbit crumpled their ears like an accordion and cushioned the fall by adeptly using them as shock absorbers. That’s Ball Rabbit for you.
As I went to pick up Ball Rabbit, who was now upside down, I noticed that Ball Rabbit’s gaze was locked onto Nina, who had fallen down. Yeah… You’re worried about her, huh? Of course you are… You always seemed to get along well with her during this whole journey.
As for Ball Rabbit, at least in regards to Nina, it should be able to get into Ardezia. As long as Ball Rabbit is her bodyguard, she’ll be safe. That ball is clever and dextrous in one way or another.
Ball Rabbit looked up at me as I was picking it up.
Hey, Ball Rabbit, what do you want to do? Since I don’t have something like [[Telepathy]], I don’t know what you’re thinking about. But, I’m guessing that you’ve been thinking about that from a little while ago, haven’t you?
Ball Rabbit didn’t use [[Telepathy]] and just looked at me hopelessly. That was a far more eloquent answer than it should have been.
Cain came rushing at me, trying to give chase. I moved Ball Rabbit outside of his field of view and stepped back. From there, I kicked off the ground and flew up into the sky.
Cain kept his sword pointed towards me, keeping me in check. I did a 180° and turned my back to Cain. After putting some distance between us, I glanced over my shoulder a bit.
Cain lowered the sword that he had thrusted before me and breathed a sigh of relief. When I adjusted my gaze a little, I saw Ball Rabbit looking up at me.
Thank you, Ball Rabbit. Thanks to you, I never once felt lonely in this desert. I kinda feel that you were busy in a lot of ways because of that… but you’ve helped me countless times, too.
Life’s full of surprises, you know, but I had mostly picked you up on a whim and thought of having you dig out a dwelling for me. No, maybe at that time too, for some reason or another, I just wanted a companion to travel with.
I flew straight, directly eastward.
I know that I shouldn’t look back; that I mustn’t look back, because Cain might grow suspicious of me, or it might put a dent in my determination. However, even while thinking so, against my better judgement, I looked back again and again, until all I could see of Ball Rabbit was a tiny point in my vision.