༺ Dragon’s Nest (1) ༻
The day after all the preparations were completed, the group headed directly for the Dragon’s Nest located in the northwest of Oben.
There wasn’t a moment to waste or any reason to hesitate; it was the natural course of action.
After about four days of travel, the group arrived at the nest. The first thing they encountered was a bone-chilling cold that seemed to tear through their flesh.
“This is crazy…”
It was Miller who spoke, continuing to complain as he trembled in the intense cold that rendered him unable to take even a single step forward.
“What kind of damned place is this…!”
His voice trembled with the cold as well.
This chill made the weather they had experienced in Eirene and Oben feel like a spring day.
It was the type of weather that made one wonder if any form of life existed in such conditions.
No matter how many layers he wore, the cold remained relentless.
Miller turned his head to assess the condition of the rest of the group.
“Oh, it’s ice.”
His expression contorted.
Around Jenny… No, around Annalise, to be precise, the group huddled closely, moving and stretching as if they couldn’t feel the cold at all.
[Hey, kiddo. Your divinity is messed up there. Rewrite the third line.]
Annalise said something, and Jenny made swift movements in the air.
Miller wasn’t stupid enough to not understand what these actions were about.
It seemed like a spell to ward off the cold.
Annalise must have taught it to Jenny.
Miller watched the rest of the group enjoying the warmth with eyes full of resentment, then approached them.
It was an action driven by a desire to overcome this cold by any means necessary, resentment or not included.
However, that did not continue forward.
[Look at that, isn’t there a spell to drive away the cold?]
Annalise’s words, filled with ridicule, provoked Miller’s pride.
Miller’s eyes were bloodshot.
His teeth were shivering.
It was out of anger and not because of the cold.
“Wh-what are you even talking about…?”
Facing the cold head-on, Miller straightened his back and placed his hands on his waist.
Annalise snorted and responded to Miller.
[Oops, I’m sorry. I don’t know much about sorcery, so I thought there wasn’t any.]
Although it was a battle for his pride with nothing to gain, it was also the most important fight for Miller.
Deciding that he would rather face this cold head-on than compromise his pride, Miller turned his head sharply.
Annalise shook her head and smiled, then leaned her head against Jenny’s chest and spoke.
[Let’s go find something to see or do. This place is so barren that there’s nothing to see here.]
He felt like an old man coming out of his rest.
Miller felt a shiver run down his spine, and his body heated up.
‘Damn it… I’ll make one even if I have to get dirty.’
The first thing that came to his mind was to develop a spell to control the temperature as soon as he returned.
At the same time, Levin and Henry, who were having a meal in Miller’s laboratory, found themselves trembling with chills.
“It’s not a pure white place like Oben. Describing it as a land with a bluish hue is more accurate. The cold is so severe that everything you see is frozen, creating this phenomenon because of the reflection of the sky’s light on the ice.”
Renee nodded her head in understanding.
“Well, it’s definitely too cold to say that anything is alive here.”
The cold had been driven out by Jenny’s spell, but she could still feel the chill from the strong wind.
It was a ridiculous cold indeed. Furthermore, the frozen ground was too slippery to walk with a cane.
As Renee walked alongside Vera, holding onto his arm for support, she asked a question.
“Didn’t you say that the dragonians go around bare-chested…?”
She asked the question because she had heard about their appearance from Vera at some point.
She could not comprehend how they could live in such cold weather without clothes on.
It was Annalise who answered.
[They have the Dragon’s Blessing on their bodies, so they are unaffected by the cold.]
The group’s attention turned to Annalise as she spoke in a smug tone.
Annalise snorted at the attention she got and continued to speak as she leaned on Jenny.
[Dragons can perceive all the Providences of the world. It’s natural that those with dragon bloodline would be unaffected by the climate.]
The group pondered.
They all thought that Annalise was like a mysterious grandmother.
Meanwhile, Jenny tilted her head at the group’s gaze, then brushed Annalise’s head and spoke.
[You guys are just stupid.]
Renee shook her head.
“Well, if you put it that way, it does make sense.”
Renee, who couldn’t say anything in response to Annalise’s cooperative attitude, focused on steering the situation when Hegrion spoke up.
“I can see it now.”
He adjusted the White Mane he had wrapped around him and looked ahead with his sunken green eyes.
The group’s gaze followed Hegrion’s line of sight.
What they saw was…
There was a massive ice wall stretching high into the sky.
Hegrion briefly scanned the puzzled faces of the group and added an explanation.
“The half-dragons dig their dens into that ice wall. If you follow those dens further inside, you’ll come across not the half dragons but the true dragons—Locrion’s direct descendants—living in the lair.”
“Yes, we need to meet Locrion’s descendants and request their guidance. Since we’ve come to meet their father, we need them to guide us.”
Hegrion’s voice carried a suppressed anger as he spoke.
Renee called him with a worried voice.
She wondered why he was showing this demeanor.
“It’s okay. I’m not foolish enough to let personal emotions interfere with our mission, so you don’t have to worry.”
The White Mane fluttered in the wind.
Hegrion walked ahead, and the group followed behind him.
Mana surged. A raw, unrefined, killing intent pierced through their bodies.
At the entrance of the ice wall, the largest of the tunnels leading inward loomed before them. Vera faced them head-on, radiating divinity.
He was clenching his Holy Sword made from the purest winter light in his hand.
“Get out of the way.”
The dragonians were taken aback by him and cowered back.
Amidst them, an elder dragonian who was standing at the center spoke.
“…With what confidence have you come here?”
White hair flowing down like a mane.
Yellow eyes rolling restlessly, with a vertical split in the middle.
As Vera faced those, he suddenly felt irritation surge within him.
Why wouldn’t he?
They were enemies that he had faced in the past.
The malignant race who dared to go wild without knowing their place.
They had plotted to tear Renee apart and kill her.
That was what the dragonians in front of Vera represented.
“I said, move aside. We don’t have any business with you.”
He wanted to swing his sword immediately but couldn’t do so with Renee behind him.
He couldn’t endanger her.
Thus, Vera chose to unleash his divinity and spoke half-threateningly.
“We’re here to meet Locrion’s descendants.”
“Do you think we’ll let you do that?”
“Do I have to get permission from hybrids like you?”
His killing intent intensified.
The elderly dragonian, presumably their leader, grew more menacing in demeanor.
Of course, they hadn’t taken any further actions.
It was because of the overwhelming gap between Vera and them.
Being a dragonian with fragments of Providence flowing within his body, he was aware that he couldn’t recklessly charge against Vera.
Vera had anticipated this scenario.
He could easily kill them even when he hadn’t yet attained the realm of Intention.
Even if they formed into a group, they were no match for him, who had become much stronger than before.
Vera carefully observed the things that were starting to become visible.
As he stepped into the realm of Intention, the flow began to appear.
In magic, these flows were referred to as ‘Providence’.
Vera observed these flows.
He could see the power engraved in the blood of the dragonians.
‘Long life, mana control, and body enhancement.’
Three fundamental abilities flowed naturally.
In addition, each individual possessed their own unique abilities.
These were probably bestowed by their descendants before them.
Vera honed his divinity to a sharp point on the Holy Sword and fired it towards the elderly dragonian’s ear.
His horn was sliced off.
The other dragonians reacted a step late.
An intense tension and a flurry of activity permeated the air, ready to explode at any second.
Amidst that, the elderly dragonian fixed his eyes on Vera, his eyes wide open.
Vera brushed him off dismissively.
“I said, step aside.”
A dragonian resembling the elder dragonian stepped forward.
The elder dragonian held him back.
“…Let’s see how much longer you can carry on with your arrogance.”
“It’s not as if you nobodies are worth all this fuss.”
The elder dragonian clenched his jaw and waved his hand. Then, the dragonians split apart to either side.
Vera observed them for a moment before turning to Renee.
“Let’s go, Saint.”
Renee’s shoulders twitched.
Her head bobbed slightly up and down.
It was because she wasn’t used to Vera’s ferocious demeanor, which she only saw every now and then.
With Renee’s arm linked through his, Vera pierced through the killing intent that could be faintly felt, heading towards the heart of the ice wall.
Despite the absence of illuminating substances, the interior of the dazzling ice wall was brilliantly lit.
As they walked into that place, Hegrion spoke up.
“You were very impressive.”
It was a remark directed towards Vera.
Vera’s gaze turned to him as Hegrion continued speaking while meeting eyes.
“Did you subdue the half-dragons with only your aura?”
He let out a small smile, referring to the recent encounter.
Vera made an ‘Ah’ sound and soon nodded before answering.
“They had no reason to fight us. They’ve already faced me once, and given what His Holiness did, they probably didn’t want to engage in a hopeless battle.”
“That is what makes it impressive.”
Hegrion’s gaze shifted towards the depths of the ice wall.
“…Isn’t the restraint brought by overwhelming power the best way to alleviate Oben’s suffering?”
As Hegrion spoke, he clenched his fist so tightly that the tendons on his hand were visible.
His voice also carried a chilly undertone.
Vera felt a small twinge of regret at the sight.
He partly understood what Hegrion sought and why he yearned for Intention.
It was quite apparent from their conversation.
Even in that short time, Vera could feel how much Hegrion loved his country.
“…Intention cannot be fully comprehended with complex interests in mind.”
Thus, Vera offered a remark that could be regarded as meddlesome.
Hegrion eyes widened at his words, and then he smiled and replied.
“I’ll keep that in mind.”
After their conversation ended, Miller, who had kept his mouth shut until now, spoke up.
“Uh, ah… How much farther do we have to goooo….?”
He was still shivering because he could not let go of his pride.
The twins tried to say something regarding his appearance, but gave up and kept their mouths shut.
After all, telling someone freezing, ‘You look like a shriveled-up dick,’ wasn’t polite.
Their considerate behavior towards Miller was a result of this realization.