༺ Dragon’s Nest (2) ༻
When describing dragons, there were always two words that came to mind:
Arrogance and brutality.
Arrogance, because they considered all living beings beneath them.
Brutality, because they were quick to use their power without much patience.
These words defined the identity of dragons while also pointing out their biggest weakness.
[…It’s public information.]
“Well, isn’t it?”
[Not exactly. Well, from their perspective, it’s not like that.]
Annalise shook her head.
[In the narrow view of humans, their actions may seem arrogant and brutal, but those actions have a different meaning. You could even call it a form of rationality.]
[Which do you think has lived the longest among all the existing creatures?]
[Yes, the nine ancient species including Maleus. And then?]
Jenny’s brow furrowed.
She made a sound as if she was deep in thought.
After a moment…
As the conversation had been about dragons until then, it was very likely that this was also related to dragons.
When Jenny responded like that, Annalise nodded with a satisfied expression.
[Yes, dragons. A living history that has been around for ages. The words ’arrogance’ and ’brutality’ are judgments made by foolish humans who fail to consider the years they have lived.]
“…I don’t quite understand.”
[Try thinking about it from a different perspective. To them, wouldn’t everything living seem insignificant? Creatures not even as old as their claws, constantly vying for attention, so they were just being blown away.]
“Yeah, they have to clean the dust really well.”
[…That’s what I meant.]
Annalise seemed to have lost all her energy, drooping her head.
Jenny tilted her head, then stroked Annalise’s head and said.
Across them, Vera, who had been quietly listening to their conversation, focused his mind entirely on Annalise’s words.
He had slain such a dragon fifty years ago, when he was around Vera’s age.
If that was the case, then…
Was it an impossible feat for him, who had now reached the realm of Intention?
Had he not yet surpassed the Vargo of fifty years ago?
Vera’s gaze turned towards the front.
The immense flow of mana he sensed undoubtedly belonged to a dragon.
What he felt was clear hostility.
Vera looked at the entrance ahead with sunken eyes before adjusting his grip on the Holy Sword.
‘…I’ll know it when I face them.’
Several hours had passed since they entered the ice wall.
Vera was preparing to confront a dragon, harboring a single question in his mind.
It was a colossal figure that made even the word ‘colossus’ feel like an understatement.
Its entire body was covered in crimson scales that resembled blazing flames, and at the top of its head was a triangular pointed shape.
The center of its head, where a human’s forehead would be, revealed yellow eyes.
[Prey has arrived.]
His eyes fixed on the group.
The group felt something strange, as if a voice was whispering into their head.
As the dragon spread its wings, a sound reminiscent of the trembling earth echoed through the vicinity.
[Unpleasant. Truly unpleasant. How can a short-lived race lack even a shred of reason?]
As if the hostility they felt when they reached here was not a lie, the dragon’s tone was thick with displeasure and hostility.
Vera stepped forward towards Renee and used his body to block out the killing intent.
“We have come to meet Locrion.”
“The First Dragon. We’ve come to meet him.”
Even as he spoke, Vera was certain.
He was certain that this dragon would never comply with their requests.
Violence was the only means of communication between them and the dragon.
Thus, Vera prepared himself.
His hand was already inching toward the hilt of his Holy Sword while divinity surrounded his entire body, ready to engage in combat at any moment.
The dragon stared at Vera.
Facing the dragon, Vera delved deeper into his thoughts that had persisted until now.
He extended his Intention and saw the dragon’s essence.
The purest fire.
It was Providence that formed that dragon.
[How long has it been since I’ve faced an ignorant human?]
The dragon spoke.
The flickering flames that illuminated the icy wall began to reflect in its eyes.
“Saint, please step back a little.”
Vera gently pushed Renee back.
He drew the Holy Sword and assessed the odds.
He evaluated the weapon he held and the dragon’s power.
At the same time, he pondered.
‘Did the Holy Emperor defeat it in one move?’
The battle with the Demonic Dragon surely ended with the dragon’s head being crushed by Vargo.
‘Should I try it…?’
In one move.
It didn’t seem entirely impossible.
“There’s probably more dragons in here.”
The Dragon’s Nest.
A towering ice wall that extended all the way to the sky, a place where the dragons dwelled.
Slaying one dragon didn’t mean that they wouldn’t have a guide.
Furthermore, there was no concern about incurring Locrion’s resentment.
If Locrion would complain about him slaying one dragon, he would have arisen when Vargo slayed the Demonic Dragon fifty years ago. There was no doubt about it.
“You should fix your attitude to make things easier later.”
The dragon burst into flames.
As Hegrion extended his White Mane, pure white feathers wrapped around the group.
“Let’s end this quickly.”
Vera stepped one foot forward.
He began to draw out all the weapons he had.
The reddened space was dyed ashen.
“From now on, all acts of magic are forbidden within this realm. In accordance with that law, magic users will be bestowed physical strength equal to their magical prowess.”
The dragon’s flames froze midair and vanished. Then, let out a roar.
Arms sprouted from its shoulders.
“Furthermore, those who are fighting with something to protect shall be bestowed with a power that surpasses their limits.”
Vera tightened his grip on the Holy Sword.
Divinity flowed through as he added weight to his vow.
The oath engraved in his soul once again solidified its weight.
“If one breaks that rule, they will pay the price with the destruction of their heart and soul.”
The preparations were complete.
“All these laws are enforced under the name Lushan.”
A golden regulation arose in the ashen space.
The dragon swung its arm.
It was a simple use of brute force, but it was more than enough.
It was the pride in being the creature that had lived the longest, and the one bestowed the most power aside from the ancient species. It contained the confidence in its strength that it gained over the years.
Because of those things, the dragon never thought about losing.
Vera watched his movement through Intention.
He observed his swinging motion, its purpose, and himself.
The Holy Sword resonated.
A golden glow enveloped the winter scenery.
He looked behind him and saw among them the one he had to protect.
Then, he swung his sword.
Overlaying the concept of purest fire, he added the concept of cutting.
The spot where its long thick neck was connected to its head.
With a barely audible slicing sound, a line appeared on the dragon’s neck.
In that instant, Vera felt something at the tip of his fingers.
At this moment, he realized that he finally reached the point Vargo had reached fifty years ago.
A tremor shook the ground as the dragon fell.
Having endured the shockwave that felt like the entire world was shaking, Hegrion looked at the scene in front of him with a surprised look on his face.
The dragon’s head was separated from its sprawled body on the ground.
The dragon’s eyes seemed to pierce through a single spot with a fierce expression, as if it hadn’t yet comprehended its own death.
“We might need to venture deeper. We might find a cooperative dragon that will guide us willingly.”
Vera spoke very casually.
Hegrion looked at him.
Hegrion couldn’t comprehend.
The previous move, and the meaning behind it.
All he could discern was the Intention behind the move that Vera made.
Vera turned around.
He approached Renee, who had been dazed until then, and took her hand.
“There was a bit of a commotion.”
Renee asked, finally snapping out of her thoughts at Vera’s words.
“Are… are you alright?”
Vera paused for a moment at Renee’s question.
Then, he replied.
“…I’m not entirely satisfied.”
“I just realized that I still have a long way to go.”
He had just barely reached the point where Vargo was fifty years ago.
This much was not enough.
He recalled the incident that would eventually lead to Vargo’s death and the impending disaster that would happen after.
He realized that he would not be able to prevent it with his current strength.
“I need to train harder.”
As Vera was uplifting his determination, Renee didn’t quite grasp the meaning of his words. She tilted her head and soon nodded along.
She was just relieved that Vera seemed unharmed.
[Are you planning to take the dragon’s body with you?]
Miller also looked at the dragon’s corpse, swallowing hard.
“Well, we can’t take everything because it’s too big, but if we take only the important parts…”
It was a natural reaction.
It was, after all, a dragon’s corpse.
It was a superior species’ body with Locrion’s power flowing through it.
Putting the monetary value aside, the magical value of the body was astronomical.
Annalise and Miller shared a rare moment of agreement.
[The heart should be about the size of a human head, so make sure to take it. Let me see… and the optic nerves…]
“The tendons! Take the tendons! Also, the molar roots and the genitals…”
“The Professor wants the dragon’s dick.”
“A dick that wants a dick.”
“Both of you, shut up.”
The twins were shocked that Miller did not curse at them harshly.
Vera frowned at Annalise, who was shaking in Jenny’s arms, and Miller, who was breathing deeply like he was about to take off before speaking.
“…I won’t be assisting you with that, so figure it out yourselves.”
[Kid! You too, come help! The heart! Never mind the rest, you need to take the heart!]
Miller rushed off.
Jenny tilted her head and then ran off as well.
Aisha followed suit, moving slowly toward the dragon’s corpse.
She mumbled something along those lines.
In the midst of the commotion, a grin escaped Vera’s lips.
“Come to think of it, it was a dragon’s body, after all. I only thought about fighting and forgot all about it.”
“…Were you planning on fighting it from the beginning?”
Renee’s eyes narrowed.
“…I felt its killing intent even before it came.”
“You’re not going to apologize?”
“You’re quick to apologize, aren’t you?”
Vera’s face was troubled.
Hegrion, who had been standing still until now, observed Vera’s expression and recalled a past incident.
— My Intention is something like that.
He remembered the answer he had given with a blush on his face, a response that didn’t quite fit him.
‘…What I truly desire.’
He etched that question in his mind.
He repeated it over and over again.
In the midst of that.
“Wow, you sliced it cleanly.”
An unfamiliar voice suddenly echoed in the space.
It was a clear and bright voice.
And, a sudden sensation.
Everyone’s movements came to a halt.
All heads turned to the source of the voice.
Vera let out an exclamation.
“So it was you? Oh my, it’s another Apostle.”
There was a woman.
Her five-colored hair reached the floor, and she wore what could barely be called a piece of cloth around her body. And her five-colored eyes fixed on Vera.
Vera met her gaze with heightened tension.
‘Is it Locrion?’
For a moment, the thought that it might be Locrion crossed his mind due to the sudden and unexpected appearance, but he soon dismissed it.
The overwhelming pressure that emanated from the ancient species he had met before was absent in this case.
Vera contemplated his thoughts about the woman in the midst of the tense atmosphere and quickly arrived at a plausible answer.
Locrion’s first daughter.
The leader of all dragons, the five-colored dragon, Seldin.
As Vera uttered that name, the woman smiled.