༺ Locrion (1) ༻
The five-colored dragon, Seldin.
There was a well-known tale about her that everyone on this continent had heard about.
It was none other than the story about the founding Emperor of the Empire, Verdan de Albrecht.
The great prophet who had planned Verdan’s journey.
The Guardian Dragon of the Empire who had been with him throughout as he united dozens of small kingdoms into one empire.
And lastly, the blacksmith who created the Masterpiece [Pureblood].
Such a woman was now standing before them.
Seldin’s multicolored eyes folded into crescent shapes.
“…It’s really fascinating.”
A smooth leg emerged from her tattered clothes and stepped forward.
Her multicolored hair flowed like silk as it followed behind.
Thus, Seldin, who was now right in front of Vera, continued speaking in a voice full of laughter.
“Speaking of humans. Just when you think they can be forgotten, an interesting mutant appears, doesn’t it? And no matter how much I ponder ‘How can this be possible…?’, this is something even I do not understand.”
She leaned forward.
Standing on her tiptoes, she brought her face close to Vera’s.
Vera’s body moved a step back.
Vera tilted his head and unleashed his Intention at the smiling Seldin.
He raised his guard as it was hard to distinguish if she was a friend or foe.
To that, Seldin replied with a chuckle.
“It’s embarrassing when you stare at me like that.”
A sword was drawn.
Except it wasn’t Vera’s.
It was Renee’s.
The sword was sheathed again.
“Oh my, I didn’t mean to.”
She drew it out because she was in a bad mood.
Seeing Renee coughing awkwardly at the thought, Seldin tilted her head. Her gaze shifted between Renee and Vera. Immediately afterward, she made an ‘Ah’ sound and continued.
“So there must be something between the two of you? Are you mates? I remember Verdan mentioning something like that. Humans mate with only one person. So, they guard their partners from other people.”
“Ah, well, not to that extent yet…”
“Hmm? Oh, just a promise then?”
“A promise… did we make one?”
Renee tilted her head.
Vera was nervous at the sight of Renee covering her blushed face with her hands, recalling how it felt, and continued.
“Well, um, ehem! V-Vera? Did we promise…?”
Renee belatedly regained her senses at Vera’s desperate tone, and then her shoulders trembled.
She pressed her lips tightly.
It was an act of shame.
Seldin observed their conversation with a mischievous expression and suddenly uttered something.
“This is fun.”
Vera furrowed his brows and stared at Seldin and thought.
‘…What’s going on?’
It was strange.
Not sensing her approach until she was this close, and carrying on a casual conversation. Above all else…
‘She’s not even showing interest in the corpse of her own kind.’
That was the most peculiar thing.
It wasn’t simply that there was a lack of kinship.
It was like she was just looking at a pebble rolling down the street.
That was what he could feel from Seldin.
Even so, they had been siblings who had been together for a long time and had lived together in the same place.
Now that she was focusing all her attention on him and Renee as if the dragon in front of her was insignificant, Vera only felt unease.
Amidst the stiff atmosphere, Seldin read Vera’s expression and spoke.
“Hmm? Oh, is it because of that?”
She was referring to the dragon’s corpse.
“Well, it would be an eyesore if you leave it like that. Wait a moment.”
Seldin drew in the air with a faint smile on her face.
The corpse disintegrated into smaller pieces.
“If you need anything, take it. Humans like things like this, right?”
By the time those words came out, the others in the group also felt a sense of unease towards Seldin.
“…Are you okay with this?”
“Isn’t he your kin?”
Seldin’s gaze turned towards Renee.
Reading something from Renee’s expression, Seldin then shifted her gaze to the dragon’s corpse and made a ‘hmm’ sound.
Seldin continued to think, tapping her lips with her index finger, then she soon responded with a smile.
“Right, they were kin. But now, not anymore.”
“It’s just a piece of meat now.”
She answered nonchalantly, like nothing was wrong.
Renee’s expression stiffened.
“Why? Oh, perhaps human customs have changed after all this time? Are corpses also considered kin? If that’s the case, I apologize. When I used to roam around, all the corpses were buried. If they move, they will be scorned and regarded as the undead.”
Renee realized one thing as she continued to apologize.
‘…She’s trying to conform to human common sense.’
The discomfort they felt was coming from the fact that a being who didn’t understand humans was making an effort to mimic them.
“Do you consider us as guests? Can we look at it that way?”
Renee asked a question that sought an answer for the question she had in her mind.
“Huh? Of course?”
What came back was a straightforward affirmation.
Seldin took a few steps towards Renee until she stood right in front of her and continued speaking.
“Well, since you can’t see, I have to be where you’re facing.”
Renee swallowed her dry saliva and nodded.
Then, she continued to think.
‘…She’s not bad.’
Though she couldn’t understand her behavioral pattern, it wasn’t so bad because Seldin was being friendly.
They weren’t here to fight; they were here to see Locrion.
Moreover, they needed someone to guide them.
Renee gathered her resolve and spoke.
“You came to meet my father, right?”
Renee’s body trembled.
Seldin grabbed Renee’s hand and gently stroked the back of her hand as she spoke.
“Let’s go. My father is waiting.”
“He knew you were coming. He asked me to bring you.”
Her tone was filled with laughter.
“Your hand is really soft.”
Renee nodded once more, struggling to suppress her repulsion to Seldin’s incomprehensible actions.
“…Yes, let’s go.”
Locrion knew they were coming.
That was the most important thing at the moment, so she put her feelings aside.
“Oh, by the way, clean that up before we go.”
Miller, Jenny, and Aisha, who were standing in front of the corpse, were startled by Seldin’s words, and then they quickly collected the remains.
[Hey, kid. The heart is over there.]
Annalise’s calm voice resonated for a long time.
After the remains were collected, Seldin led the group deep into the ice wall.
The corridor grew wider, the cold grew more intense, and there were ice sculptures all around. Resonating through this eerie path was Seldin’s chatter.
“…So, I named Verdan’s first child. Yeah, a child blessed by the dragon’s blessing, and yet he fell into the lake and died. After that, all sorts of rumors spread saying ’the dragon was angry’, but I didn’t do anything.”
With a chuckle, she continued her story, mostly about the founding of the Empire in which she had been active.
There were no responses, but Seldin kept talking as if she simply wanted to chatter.
“Oh, there was another incident. Verdan’s fourth child proposed to me. I agreed to marry him to appease him, but he died on the first night. From that incident, the saying ’those who lust for the dragon are cursed’ came about. Actually, he just died from illness. Humans seem to have quite the imagination.”
With his mouth closed tight, Vera stared at the back of Seldin’s head, lost in thought.
‘I don’t think I’ll lose…’
He wasn’t certain that he would win, either.
It wasn’t as though they were neck and neck with each other, but rather, he really ‘didn’t know.’
It was so bizarre.
He could see Seldin’s power, the density of her mana, and even her reverse scale, yet he couldn’t tell how it would end.
‘…It must be her power.’
It was likely the power engraved in Seldin’s blood.
Or rather, as he looked at her through Intention, wasn’t she hiding herself behind iridescent mist?
There were plenty of clues that her power may be bewitchment.
‘It would be tricky if she turns against us as an enemy.’
Among the events that would unfold in the future was the war between Locrion and Nartania.
It would be great if they could prevent that through this meeting, but without detailed knowledge of the exact cause of the incident, they needed to assess their forces for possible contingencies.
As Vera’s thoughts continued, Seldin suddenly stopped her chatter and spoke.
The group came to a halt.
Vera cleared his mind and looked ahead.
A light that must have come through an opening from the outside, bathing everything in white.
“…Is it here?”
“Yeah, this is the end of the ice wall, the edge of the continent. Come to think of it, you are the first humans to come this far.”
They moved once more.
After passing through the corridor that extended like a cave, they arrived at a place where an endless sea of ice stretched out.
It was a harsh, desolate land where nothing existed, and the freezing ground radiated light.
Standing at the edge, Vera muttered while gazing at the scenery.
It was truly a wondrous sight, but this wasn’t what they had come here to see.
“You’re looking at him.”
“My father is here.”
Seldin pointed to the sea of ice.
Vera looked at it once again.
He felt like his breath had been taken away.
It wasn’t just Vera; everyone who could see it was left breathless.
[…You have come.]
It wasn’t a sea.
What they thought was a sea was none other than ‘scales,’ constantly flowing like waves.
The glaciers rumbled.
They crashed and crumbled, then froze again, becoming one with the glacier, and repeated this infinite cycle.
The scales rippled like a wave, ascending into the sky as a water tornado. At the peak of the tornado, the glaciers and waves intertwined, sculpting the visage of a ‘dragon’s head.’
[Child of Parent.]
Monumental in size.
An overwhelming presence.
He filled their entire field of vision.
[You have finally reached me.]
Suddenly, Vera lost control of his Intention, and it began to rampage.
Like a small boat caught in a whirlpool, his half-open Intention was forcibly unraveled in the face of the existence before him. Colors became concepts, and forms became ideas.
All the information that had made up the world returned to its most essential form and swept Vera.
He felt sick. As if his mind was being torn apart by the unfamiliar currents and the immense rules within them that he had never experienced before.
His whole body trembled.
‘What the hell…’
How do I describe this?
None of the Ancient Species I met until now had triggered such a phenomenon.
Why is this happening now…?
He had simply not been able to see them.
Even though he saw Terdan, Aedrin, Orgus, and Maleus, he hadn’t really seen them.
The first life.
The first souls.
Creatures of the Gods themselves.
He had failed to grasp their true meaning.
The reason why this phenomenon had happened might be because he had finally awakened his eyes to Intention.
How do I deal with this?
How can I protect this land from these beings?
The moment his soul was about to waver as those thoughts arose.
The world of Intention faded away.
What had been ideas and concepts fused into forms and colors.
His breathing returned.
The tremors abated.
Locrion’s colossal form became a blur.
[…You should not look at me yet.]
As if trying to conceal himself, he once again began to transform into the sea of ice.