Rune and the operation’s start
Three days passed since we accepted Timis’s request.
Verlaine explained the plan in detail and brought a map and some chess pieces on the table to simulate it.
“This looks like… a board game.”
“It’s more like a reproduction of the battle. I carved in my mind how the fire dragon will move, but I don’t know if we will be able to…”
McKinley had a huge responsibility on his shoulders. A B-rank adventurer’s accuracy wasn’t perfect, but he had enough points to be classified as a sniper. All he had to do was shoothing the beast after Timis triggered the right chain of actions.
“If things don’t go as planned, protecting My Lady will become my top priority. I don’t want to think that this will all be for nothing, though…”
“No, don’t treat me like that. I am already a hindrance… I realized it after the lecture on fire dragon’s strength. So far, I’ve defeated orcs and low ranked monsters, but this is a different matter. Still, comparing it to defeating ten thousand orcs…”
Killing that many orcs would be doable with a thousand men army, but that might still be insufficient to defeat a dragon. An orc lord would appear after a thousand orcs, and although Timis was a B rank adventurer, it might be a hard battle.
If Lia was with her, it would be easy, though.
“Lady Timis, might I ask you another question? Why are you so obsessed with the dragon?”
“…Because defeating one is necessary for me. Otherwise I can’t become the vice-general of the army. Since the actual general has promised to remain forever, the highest rank we can aim to is becoming his right arm.”
“Rank… is it? Why would you want to obtain that title?”
“I want… to see someone. It’s a person that I respect deeply and can’t just face boldly.”
It must be a love affair… Given her delicate age, it was probably the illogical impulse of puberty.
“I’m in charge of protecting the heir to the throne and I wield my weapon for her, who fought to refuse her marriage and won splendidly. I want to see my sister Manarina at the ceremony…”
I thought she was talking about a man, but it seemed I was wrong. I guessed it might have been Cody, but strangely enough he had nothing to do with girls.
Timis and Manarina’s mother was different, so I thought that Timis would have complex feelings regarding her sister. Instead, she respected the Princess deeply.
“I can’t hide that I and Princess Manarina aren’t siblings. My mother is a commoner who accepted His Majesty’s protection, and is envied by the other nobles’ concubines for that. But I believe that things can change if I gain enough merits.”
Her eyes were glittering with determination.
If she wanted to see her sister, I had to grant her wish. Still, the situation surrounding Timis’s mother was hard to change overnight… but not impossible.
“Lady Timis, I understand that you have more than enough resolution. Tomorrow, we will execute our plan. Rest for today, and prepare for your fight. I’ll pray for your success.”
“Yes, Teacher! I meant, Bartender!”
“M-My Lady… you acted all knight-ish so far, and now…”
“Hahaha, what’s wrong with that. It’s been a while since someone explained something to me.”
Commented McKinley in the end.
When I asked about Timis’s age, I found out that she was fourteen… she was terribly young. Being the head of a hundred people at that age was impressive, and if she succeeded, she would have become a great knight.
After the interview ended, I’d have loved to try scouting both Lia and McKinley… but the werebeast looked quite close to Timis, so I had to think about a way to bring her by my side.
In that moment, I almost forgot about it.
I tapped the table two times with my finger, and Verlaine approached me noticing the signal.
I handed her a ticket for a new order, and entrusted her with that magic.
Her cheeks reddened after touching my hand, but she pretended to act cool and went back to the others after bringing me some more snacks and booze.
“Lady Timis, before your departure, we’d like you to do something else. Might I write a rune on your body?”
“A rune…? Will it be useful to slay the dragon?”
“Yes. But it must be written close to your chest. We have a private room ready for this, so might I take you there?”
“…Is that really necessary? If it’s something strange…”
“Don’t worry, Lia. We’re both girls, there’s nothing to be ashamed of.”
Using a brush might have tickled her, but as soon as Verlaine finished explaining, she escorted Timis to the room.
“Me and Lia don’t need that?”
“W-What are you saying?! McKinley, if you dare to fantasize about My Lady’s figure as someone draws over her, I’ll cut you in half!”
“E-Excuse me? I was only curious. Don’t glare at me like that, please.”
I knew what McKinley was feeling. Imagining a voluptuous elf maid loaded with sex appeal soiling the untouched skin of a young knight was… strangely a charming scene.
The rune had to be drawn with special tools and it would have disappeared in a few days. I would have been worried if she was to write it herself, given that its only use was to keep my word with Cody.
I promised him that I’d have done everything to ensure Timis’s survival.
There was no need to use it if they executed the plan perfectly, but humans can commit mistakes.
Even when we Miracle children fought the Demon Lord, we got nearly annihilated because of a single error… reason why I’ve never trusted someone completely.
It’s not a matter of distrust, It’s simply that I’d do anything to achieve victory.
“By the way, Lia… who is that guy who offered us drinks?”
“…I thought that he could actually be Duke Solver himself… but I guess he’s just someone curious.”
“Duke…? Sorry, Miss, but I’ve never heard of him. You seem to have a lot on your plate, so later I’ll offer you something.”
“Oh, really? I won’t waste it, then.”
“…I knew it, he can’t be Duke. He’s just a drunkard.
I’m worried about My Lady… sometimes that elf didn’t smile sincerely… I hope she doesn’t have weird hobbies…”
Lia started swinging her legs… It looked like the alcohol effects were fading due to her worry. Why she was thinking about Timis so much was a mystery, but I guessed it was because she gave her a home.
Being asked my identity that directly was weird, but thanks goodness I escaped the worst-case scenario… It was fine with me being a drunkard, just like Lia said.
I was wondering how things were proceeding in the infirmary, so I listened carefully to catch their words.
“You shouldn’t move. Once this paint touches the skin, it disappears only after some time… Yes, stay still like this… Perfect…”
“…This is embarrassing, Miss Bartender… I have muscles, unlike you…”
“A knight needs to be strong. It’s hard to have such muscles for girls, and you’re still young… you must have trained quite a lot. It’s said that exercising will lower the chest’s volume, but yours has grown splendidly.”
“It gets in the way when I swing the sword, so I hope it won’t grow anymore… Does this guild accept even those kinds of requests?”
“My Master knows a way to make them bigger, but I don’t think he does for shrinking them.”
“I-I see… How can he make them grow?”
“He uses a technique called ‘God’s right hand, Demon Lord’s left hand.’ Since the chest growth makes a girl fall in a trance, my Master goes with the alias of ‘The Trancer Fifth…’”
“T-That’s impressive… This guild is truly impressive to have someone like him… and Duke also comes here often…”
Without me around, the Demon Lord kept spitting nonsense. I must make her confess frankly how that dumb idea crossed her mind, but this is another story…
The next day, I was sitting at the counter while Timis and her party were going to start their hunt.
It was 6:30am, so there was still some time before opening the bar. While Verlaine was preparing everything, she put in front of me a glass of black ale. It was more valuable than the usual black ale, so it was difficult to find it in the market. I drank it only when I had some in stock.
I brought the mug to my lips, and felt the bubbly cold liquid flow down my throat.
“Master, this time you were even more scrupulous than usual.”
I strengthened Timis’s body with Support Magic when she drank the Behemoth milk.
It’s really valuable, so I didn’t give any to the other two… but accepting the request would have brought us good money. It’s normal that a pro gains enough to cover the expenses costs.
“The strategy is important, and so are the effects of what they consumed.
Now it’s all up to their abilities.”
“Master… last night I felt that your magical power decreased. Should I think that my senses tricked me?”
I smiled and didn’t reply. Verlaine was the Demon Lord, she would notice a change in someone’s magical power in an instant.
“It’s been five years since our battle… the Miracle children really are frightening. Even with your power decreased, I…”
“…Verlaine, listen. I just drank as usual. Talk with me again in an hour.”
The blonde elf pondered on my words, and slowly grasped what I meant… then smiled.
“Don’t worry, Master. Even if your heart isn’t here, I won’t steal the talisman.”
“…Thanks. I trust you…”
“It might be a sick joke, but… we’re alone until the bar opens.”
“More or less… as long as I don’t take the shock…”
As I drank, my consciousness faded for an instant, but nothing more.
And of course, it was only a coincidence that Timis and her party started their operation at that exact moment.
The party to slay the dragon rose and shone early.
Its members entered Belfon Forest and observed the environment exactly as they were supposed to, then strengthened their resolve and headed to their real destination.
I memorized the contents of the book and each move of the board game. I will succeed for sure.
Repeated Timis in her mind as she kept walking in the forest. Both Lia and McKinley were also silent for quite some time now. Stepping in the territory of a fire dragon made even them nervous.
As they moved, they repeated Duke Solver’s words.
During the breeding season, the male dragon leaves the forest and returns to its nest in the volcanic region. That’s the right moment to strike, since the female one remains alone.
She makes the nest in a forest cave and lays her egg. As soon as it’s laid, it hatches. Dragons let their eggs grow within them and lay them just before their hatch.
The female dragon needs to feed her baby right away, so she goes hunting. In its third month, the newborn will spread its wings and learn to fly short distances, until it reaches the back of its parents. Then, the volcanic region’s shortage of food should be over, and they will return there.
Even if humans didn’t expand their territory, a conflict with the invaders was unavoidable. Fire dragons acted by sheer instinct and were quite dangerous creatures, so they must be driven away.
Fighting the dragon is already difficult enough… but we have to capture it…!
The dragon came out of its cave and started to search for food and water.
By the time the dragon reached the water, Timis and her companions were hidden behind some bushes, covered by a mantle and ready to act at any time.
That’s when Timis felt something around her chest… and a little light leaped out of her armor.
“Wha! W-What is that…?”
“…A light insect? They live in this forest, so I guess it entered your armor someway.”
“And it came out her breastplate, lucky b… I mean… Nothing.”
As he tried to voice his thought, Lia glared at him. Timis briefly looked at the shiny thing that was simply floating in the air, then ignored it.
The dragon spread its wings and stretched them, exactly like the book described.
The ground shook each time they hit it, and the beast, five times bigger than a human, stretched its neck toward the water leaking from a nearby rock and started drinking.
“That is… really huge. And we’re supposed to bring it down alone…?”
“McKinley, don’t talk too much or it will notice us.”
“First, I’ll draw its attention, then let’s proceed as planned. McKinley, I’m counting on you.”
“Sure. We carry the heaviest burden, but My Lady should also be careful.”
They nodded to each other. After Timis asked Lia for some water to wet her dried throat, she followed the plan and rushed out of the bush.
The fire dragon noticed her and turned around. Seeing her holding a lance, it opened its wide mouth to make its roar resound in the forest.
He stabilized the arbalest and sharpened his gaze. He aimed at the beast’s mouth… and pulled the trigger.
As the dart flew toward its target, the knight hopped aside its trajectory.
“Guoooh… Gah, goh!”
McKinley fired a Silence Dart, one of the ammo that Silver Mug entrusted him, and sealed the dragon’s voice.
It was now Lia’s turn, who sprang out of bushes unsheathing her sword.
She dashed toward the dragon like a tiger jumping on its prey.
The thick layer of scales on the dragon’s wings might have chipped the blade, but she aimed to its leg… and slashed.
A powerful attack split its flesh, making the dragon nearly lose its balance. Understanding that it was in danger, it flapped its mighty wings, and the frightening wind pressure stopped Lia’s assault, forcing her to take some steps back.
That was just the beginning.
But the three of them believed in their victory.
The dragon slowly rose into the sky, trying to escape.
Timis watched it turning clockwise and heading toward its destination.
Normally, that would have meant the end of the battle, since dragons were way too fast to chase by foot, but that didn’t apply if the chaser knew where it was going.
“My Lady, it turned clockwise, so it must be going to…”
“Yes, exactly where the book says… Let’s go! Hurry!”
They nodded and started their pursuit as the little light that leaped from Timis’s armor started to follow them.