Loneliness, hatred, desire… the Gaia Dragon’s lair tainted by conflicting emotions, and the black fog was absorbed and taken in. She maintained her own ego, but she didn’t carry enough power to resist the dragon corpse. Even so, she looked into the emotions surrounding the dragon, and there were various things she managed to see.
As a subspecies, this dragon had been distanced from the others. While among fellow dragons, it had been isolated from the forest. It spent long years in the depths of the earth lamenting until it became a corpse.
But the dragon had a role. As an undead dragon, its role was to fight the protagonist. After graduation, the protagonist’s party would be stationed in the ‘Royal Guard’, a new organization formed by the country, and the protagonist himself would become their captain. The other members were, of course, his harem members.
Among the missions they were to carry out was a quest to slay an undead dragon. It was nothing more than one of the quests that existed to build up existence before the war arc. The one who had been prepared for that sake was the subspecies dragon.
The fearsome appearance of its corpse was there to put on a show that it was a fearsome foe.
‘This is a dragon fated to be slain. In a few years’ time, it will go out and start a rampage, but for now, here it lays…’
The black fog thought over various things with the information it had on hand. It was at that moment. The fog noticed its own mistake and called out to the boar and bird.
‘I’m not getting any closer to that thing.’
From the distance entrance of the cage, the two of them looked at the dragon corpse that had taken in the black fog. The fog began explaining the situation to them.
‘This is a dragon fated to be slain! It will be fine for now, but at this rate, it will make its way out in less than a year. There were originally a few years left, but because it took me in, it’s going to start moving ahead of schedule!’
‘… That’s your fault.’
‘Exactly, so it’s my (our) responsibility.’
She wasn’t an individual, therefore the responsibility lay with all three of them, declared the black fog. The boar and bird sighed. But if her words were true, then this was a situation they couldn’t leave be. The three beings were originally existences born to return an irregular to his base. Getting in Rudel’s way, lowering his ranking in the wilderness training, and setting Aleist up as the hero over Rudel.
It was all to return the story to its original path. The boar born from the possibility Rudel wouldn’t drop out of the training as he was supposed to in the event.
The bird that came forth when Aleist’s popularity was much lower than it was supposed to be. It was for that sake that its status down magic displayed no effect only against Aleist.
Finally, the black fog had been born to correct Rudel himself, who was dragging in and changing all his surroundings. It had taken over Cattleya and Lilim, those that Rudel admired in order to fold his heart. As a result of the setting approving of Rudel along the way, it went berserk.
On the sole reason of its own existence, the black fog had tried to kill Rudel. While they had each greeted an unfortunate fate, the three of them existed to mediate the story.
‘There’s no helping it… we’ll go tell Rudel about it.’
The boar decided so, and the bird also nodded as it slipped out of the cave. Seeing the two of them off, the black fog spoke.
‘I-If possible, could you keep quiet about my slipup!?’
“Oy, Fritz, did you hear? It seems that rumor going around is true.”
In the academy cafeteria, the second years of the fundamental curriculum were discussing the newly established royal guard. Apparently, the leader of the new unit would be given a dragon, and there were even talks that their duties and jurisdiction would rival the high knights and dragoons, so the students were sure it was a lie.
As the conversation was turned to him, Fritz recalled the letter he received a few weeks prior.
“IS that so? I heard that as long as they have knight qualifications, anyone can participate in the royal guard captain selection process. Is that one also true?”
Fritz pretended not to know, but he already knew all. The sender of his letter was the first princess Aileen, and the letter pertained to the royal guard. But it wasn’t written that he would be selected. All Fritz knew was that he would be able to participate.
“It a new organization of elites we’re talking about here! Why don’t we take a whack at it too?”
Perhaps they would be chosen. Seeing his classmates get worked up as they thought over their prospects, Fritz wasn’t so calm inside. From the events of last year, he couldn’t help but be conscious of Rudel and the others.
“High knights will be there, and active knights as well, right? I think it’ll be considerably difficult.”
Having experienced an overwhelming defeat, Fritz couldn’t understand what he was lacking. He couldn’t understand the fact that he had only ever lived in a narrow world, but even so, he sought out power and wanted to grow stronger.
“Even if I’m no good, there won’t be a problem with you, Fritz! If it’s now, you might even be able to beat Rudel. If it’s Fritz, strongest in our year, I do think you’re worthy to be royal guard captain.”
His classmates’ words they believed from the bottom of their hearts irritated him. The pseudo magic sword he had obtained through watching Rudel, and the techniques he used freely to strengthen his body, even with all of them Fritz had lost. His classmates who couldn’t understand that irritated him. To add onto that, Fritz had lost to Aleist as well.
“Well, it sounds interesting, so I guess I’ll try entering.”
(It’s Aileen’s request, after all.)
After giving that answer, Fritz returned to his meal. Fritz’ selection was a determined fact, but oblivious to that, he decided to take the challenge. He even felt thankful to Aileen for giving him the chance.
A bouquet in his hand, Aleist was practicing his confession to a wall. Around, his friends he’d been with from his fundamental curriculum years watched over with grins. They were there to make sure no one came, and until Millia- who he’s called out- arrived, they critiqued Aleist’s practice confessions.
“Aleist, you’re trying too hard… you’ll be fine as long as you learn to say the word love more naturally. You’ve got a good face, and she won’t say no, I tell you.”
“No, doesn’t that make it sound like his face is all he’s got? In truth, he’s a perfect guy with both status and fame, right?”
His friends watching him, after confirming that the time drew near, they decided to disperse. Tell us how it works out, they said as they left, and seeing them leave, Aleist began to feel hopeless.
“I-it’s fine! I’m sure it’ll work out… even if it doesn’t, I won’t give up! I’ll try however many…”
While Aleist muttered to convince himself, he heard the footsteps of someone’s approach, accelerating his heart. He had called her out to a relatively secluded space, so he concluded the one approaching was Millia. He instantly carried out his confession.
“I-I like you! Please go out with me!!!”
His eyes closed, Aleist handed over the bouquet. But even here he had failed miserably.
“E-eh!? W-well, if you’re fine with me…”
The voice wasn’t Millia, so Aleist opened his eyes to confirm it. There stood a young girl with red hair. Her tan skin and red hair standing out, the girl who looked younger than her age let one was not Millia. She was a potential lover interest called Lux.
While she boasted a small body, she was a warrior from birth who wielded a large hammer. The appearance of the first year girl sent Aleist into great confusion. Unluckily, that was where Millia made her entrance.
“Oh? I came because I was called here, but it doesn’t look like Aleist is the one who called for me… Aleist, you should give Seli and Juju some consideration as well.”
Calmly looking over Aleist and Lux, she had noticed Aleist was making a confession. While the essence was mistaken, the situation was correct. Aleist’s friend had summoned Millia there, but the fact he didn’t tell her who was waiting for her had become a problem.
If she knew, perhaps she would have noticed her mistake.
After cautioning Aleist, Millia awkwardly walked off. In the four years since she came to the academy she had grown, and now she was more of a lady than a girl. They were sisters after all, and Millia was coming to resemble her big sister Lilim. Seeing her back as she walked off, Aleist cried.
Around that time, Rudel was speaking with Millia’s older sister Lilim. From Lilim’s point of view, she was just dropping by the person who’d been on her mind lately, but she knew Rudel had looked out for her in the events of two years passed. She was worried whether there were any drawbacks from the actions Rudel had taken to save her.
“You’re going to the dragon dwellings!?”
“Yes. I got permission, so all that’s left is to actualize it.”
As the two spoke of the gossip surrounding the academy, the topic naturally shifted to the newly established royal guard. Lilim knew Rudel had become the white knight, and she had somewhat realized the royal guard was related to that. Her knowledge only served to increase her surprise at Rudel’s actions.
“There is no reason for a human like you to push yourself so. For a demi-human, unless you obtain a wild dragon, you’ll never be recognized, but you have an opportunity to obtain a gray dragon. Yet you’ll make a waste of it?”
While Lilim said harsh words in worry, Rudel answered with a bitter smile.
“I have a few reasons. But my biggest one is because I want to choose my dragon. Though that’s just my own selfishness. It’s not like I hate gray dragons or anything!”
On Rudel’s frantic denial at the end, Lilim gave a chuckle. I know, she said, and told Rudel she wasn’t misunderstanding anything.
For Rudel, he also had a promise with the three. He had no mind to obsess over it, but some part of his heart hurt when he heard he wouldn’t be able to choose his own dragon. To Rudel, Lilim made a certain proposal.
“If your feelings remain unchanged, then do you want me to take you to the dragon dwellings? It’s the homeland of my dragon, and you’re not a person I’m not supposed to take.”
“You will!? I’d definitely like to take you up on that!”
Seeing Rudel delighted that he could ride a dragon, Lilim smiled. But she also did want Rudel to give up. As gray dragons were reared by the country, they didn’t attack humans. Even if you weren’t chosen, they wouldn’t take your life. But wild dragons boasted pride much higher than the gray.
It was quite normal for them to kill humans they hated. While their abilities were high, there was a danger of losing one’s life.
“Very well, then once the time comes, and you still wish to go, let us get in touch.”
Saying that, Lilim parted with Rudel. Since she’d come to the academy anyways, she thought to go meet her little sister Millia. Though she was treated as a bit of an extra to Rudel.
The former goddess, now Sakuya, was living a life parasiting off of Rudel and Izumi. But there was only a year left of their time at the academy, so the time had come to think of her future.
In Rudel’s room, Sakuya lay on the bed as she ate sweets. When she didn’t have a name, Luecke and Aleist would call her terrible things, so she compromised and chose the name Sakuya. When Aleist called her Flan von Brains and Flan McFlan, there was once a time she wept as she clung onto Rudel.
As a resolution, Rudel thought lining up two flans was no good, so… how about Flan AlaMode? He asked. So as always, the former goddess ended up crying her way to Izumi, and Sakuya was now her name. She was never able to think up any good names for herself, but she decided anything was better than being called Flan.
Izumi thought it was quite a nice name and she couldn’t understand what the former goddess didn’t like about it. But Sakuya it was, and now Sakuya was surprised at what Rudel declared.
“Study? What are you talking about, Rudel. I’m a goddess!”
“Former, that is… and isn’t it about time you thought about going independent? I’m fine with supporting you, but the way things are going, you’re going to remain your no-good self.”
Playing around all day only to be saved by Izumi or Rudel, Sakuya had no words to return.
“Nnrrghh, fine, got it. I’ll make you regret the day you made light of a goddess’ intellect, you hear! When it comes to me, the letters that humans use are mere… what’s this?”
As Sakuya showed her motivation, Rudel handed over a few books. Those books were the picture books about dragoons Rudel had brought with him. If only it were a doujin, I would’ve happily read it… thought Sakuya as she opened one up.
But no matter what page she looked at, she could see traces it had been read over again and again.
“Do you really like dragoons so much? They’re just knights who ride dragons. I’m pretty sure the white knight title supersedes them.”
“… Let’s just say I could put white knight and dragoon on a scale. I have no doubt I would pick dragoon without any hesitation.”
As Rudel cut it clear, Sakuya uninterestedly looked at the pictures. She didn’t know the letters, so she looked at the pictures, and tried reading a story of her own imagination.
A male dragon and male knight cross over the bounds of species and… as she read that tale alone, Rudel hit her on the head relatively seriously. With teary eyes, Sakuya rubbed her head as she glared at Rudel, but he was actually quite angry so she apologized.
“Don’t just arbitrarily revise the story! There’s no helping it, so I guess I’ll have to read them to you each night.”
“You sure look happy when you say that. Men sure seem to love dragons and other strong lifeforms…”
Uninterested as she was, Rudel would read her the dragoon books each night. A few days later, Sakuya burst into Izumi’s room, preciously holding a picture book in her hands as she declared,
“Izumi, I’m going to become a dragoon!”
“I-I see… E-EeeeEh!!!?”
Sakuya’s eye’s sparkled as she adoringly held the book up high, and Izumi had no idea what to say to her.