Chapter 13 - South Forest Part III
"Achoo!" — Sara embraced herself and shivered — "C-Cold..."
"I told you, aunt, to take more clothes," I said, removing my winter coat, "here take this."
"W-W-W-What a-a b-bout y-you? A-Achoo!"
"I have magic to warm myself."
She quickly takes the coat and covers herself like a cocoon. "I-Isn't that c-cheating? Brrrr."
"Didn't you say magic is too hard to learn?"
"But none of your parents is also well versed in magic!" She looks at me with contemplating eyes and sneers. "Maybe you're adopted?"
I sighed. "Can't you see these blue eyes of mine?"
"...Then, does it mean God is unfair?"
"No, aren't you gifted with beauty?"
Sara's face became red. "W-What?" White smokes gush out from her ears. "Hehehe. Oh Ryu, w-we already k-know that."
People back on earth say that you should never argue with an adulting woman if you want to have a peaceful and quiet life. I guess this is what they meant. It's super effective. "Look guys, there is a cave let's camp there for today."
"Did you just change the topic—"
"Let me scout first, my Lord." Kaori who was quietly following from behind went inside the cave to check for any danger.
"H-Hey! Wait for me!"
"Afiste to xylo na kaei," I said, casting magic to burn the pile of wood.
...Sizzle. Sizzle. Sizzle.
"Kyaaa! Bonfire!" Sara said, "Oh~ this is so cozy."
"I'll put the remaining firewood here, master."
"Thank you, Kaori."
I open my backpack and take out the camping equipment. Kaori went over and helped me set up the camp.
"Zzzzzz..." Sara who lay down near the fire fell asleep.
"Kaori, can you carry aunt to the tent?"
"Gladly, my Lord." She carefully puts her arms under Sara and softly carries her. Even though she doesn't talk much, I can see how tender she treats us with actions instead.
The night was long. Both Kaori and I pondered in front of the fire. It was quiet. The only sound we can hear is the sound of woods breaking from the fire and from time to time, the howls of wild animals and monsters. But not to the point that it's disturbing.
Sizzle... Sizzle... Sizzle...
"Kaori?" I said.
"Yes, my Lord?"
On this mellow night, I chance to glance at her long beautiful crimson hair illuminated by the fire. Captivating eyes that sparkle elegantly. It was breathtaking. "You... You're tribe lives in the south right?"
"Yes, my Lord."
"Are all Ischyros have beautiful hair and eyes like you?"
"S-Sorry?" The strong and airhead crimson lady got flustered. It seems she has no awareness of her appearance.
No wonder every male would break their neck just to follow her sight. Even though she always has messy hair and somewhat male-like clothes. The fact that she is an unworldly beauty wouldn't be covered with these insignificant things.
She is truly beautiful, but it was not enough to make my heart skip a beat. Though I admire her, it is something like how I respect Sara. Cherishing someone like family.
"Do you ever think about going back?" I asked.
"Go back where my Lord?"
"To your tribe."
"...Tribe." She paused. Her sparkling eyes started to fade. A mistake that might have made her remember something.
"Sorry," I said. Even though slaves can't go against their masters, the fact is that they are still people who have feelings and memories. "If you ever want to go back to your family, I will set you free."
She looked at me straight in the eyes. I wonder what she was thinking. There was a few seconds she hesitated before answering and lowering her head. "I... I can't go back anymore... My Lord."
"Huh?" Maybe something happened to her family. Should I ask and pry to her past? She wouldn't be able to deny my request if I forcefully ask her. But should I do it? I thought for a few seconds before talking. "If... If you don't want to talk about it, then don't."
"Thank you, my Lord."
She might have been bought by us and freed from that prison-like environment. But it doesn't mean that her heart would completely open to us. "Just remember that we would be always here to listen."
"Mm..." She agreed. It might seem like a simple reply, but this is the first time she talked to me without using honorifics. It is a decent result.
"Go to sleep Kaori, I'll keep watch tonight."
"And no buts" I rebuked.
"D-Did you just... Go to sleep!" I turned around and my face felt hotter.
She walks to her tent, lay down, and covers herself with a blanket, she mumbled, "Thank you."
Slash! Slash! Slash!
"These Goblin Champions are like a joke now," Sara said, "I can even kill them with my eyes closed—"
"Don't be reckless aunt."
"I'm just kidding." Sara sticking out her tongue to taunt me.
"We are more than a hundred kilometers away from Southbourne City, yet we haven't found a trace of our target."
"Kaori, do you have any idea?"
"Hmm... How about that tallest mountain, Master." Kaori pointed out in a faraway mountain covered with a dark aura.
Sara gasped, "C-Can we even reach that?"
"Let's check the map," I said, pulling out the piece of cloth from my bag.
The three of us checked the location of that mountain, and we were amazed at what we learned, I said, "That is too far."
"It's around 200 kilometers from Southbourne City, my Lord."
"Yes," I said, folding the map to return it to the bag. "We need to gather our team and prepare before going. It might be dangerous."
Sara and Kaori nodded.
I was preparing to cast a flare to notify the other teams of our Shadow Intelligence Group to return when suddenly the sky became dark.
"Is it gonna rain," Sara said, "why is it so dark?"
Though I also thought the same at first, I realize that this is not the case when I saw Kaori who was always indifferent, trembling in fear, I said, "Kaori is there something wrong?"
She did not hear me. Her eyes were glued in the sky, but even I can tell that she doesn't want to see it anymore. Is it related to her past?
I walked over to her and grab her hand, she got startled. She shrugs me off and stumbles on the ground. "Aaaaah!"
"Kaori!" Sara ran towards her. Even I didn't realize what is happening until it was too late.
It was a monster. The thing that covers the sky, big enough for us not to notice that something dangerous like this exists in this world.
A dragon. A legendary creature that is only a tale back on earth. Is actually in front of me. A long mouth with large white teeth. An eye that looks like a cat, but much bigger. When I look directly at it, I saw an abyss, like a trap that is asking me to come and get swallowed.
"...yu!" My aunt who was hugging Kaori is trying to tell me something over and over again. But our hearing is somewhat paralyzed that I can't fathom even the gestures she was expressing.
A little bit of reality came back to me when my aunt pointed somewhere behind my back. When I look back, I saw it standing.
Around 30 meters tall, luminous black, six-winged monster. Even I who was so proud of my achievements went numb.
"D...Did it just laughed?" I'm scared. If this dragon, really is capable of mocking us, it means that it contains intelligence. Which is very disadvantageous to us.
I was still thinking of a solution to escape this situation. When this abomination suddenly opened its mouth. It was charging itself with fire. "A dragon breath!"
"Afiste to edafos na mas prostatefsei," I chanted, "earth wall!"
A meter thick wall from the ground that is tall enough to cover us three was created. When the dragon unleashed its fire breath towards us, the wall provided cover.
Our bodies sweated from the heat that was bouncing off from the wall, but at least we were prevented from being scorched directly.
At this time we thought that we are already safe. The fire breath stopped. But the walls I built suddenly cracked. It seems the dragon slammed it with its body — bang! — making it collapse after the second attack.
Kaori is still mentally weakened and unresponsive and Sara is busy tending to her. This means I am the only one capable of attacking at this moment.
The dragon saw me eye to eye, but it only laughed again before it lunged not towards me but instead to the ladies, I said, "Stop!"
This is not time to hesitate, the dragon seems to target Kaori. I took the handle of the gravity rune sword in my back while I rush to the dragon. "Heyaaa!"
I directly hit its face, but to my surprise, instead of cutting through, made it plummeted to the ground instead. The dragon scale is too tough.
The dragon went up without much damage, but I can see on its face that it was threatened. Yet, it ignores me, and again lunges quicker than before, attempting to grab Kaori.
Sara who was holding Kaori suddenly looks at me as she pushes her towards me, saving her from being captured. But instead, the dragon successfully grabbed Sara, I shouted, "Aunt!"
The dragon flew away so fast that all I can do is stare in resentment.