Adofu headed towards where Haranae’s execution site was and brought me along with him. No one was there at the site as everyone had seemingly taken refuge after the hero’s death.
There were three knights under the shade of a building. Although their bodies trembled in fear when I looked at them, they gave off no signs that they were going to draw their swords. Behind the three knights was Ball Rabbit, and with Ball Rabbit was… Nina. She was safe and sound with not a single scratch on her.
The three knights had probably been protecting her for me on Adofu’s instructions.
I breathed a sigh of relief. Although Adofu’s imprisoned relatives should’ve also been there with them, it would seem that they had already taken shelter.
“…You’re Mr. Dragon…, right?”
Nina brought her eyes up to my face. Partner reached her head out and tried to get out in front of me, so I lightly headbutted her to keep her from doing that. For now, I need you to go sit in the back for me. We look too much alike. Well, actually… You might also be me too…
“Thank you, Mr. Dragon. Thank you so very much, Nya! Even though Nina is just a slave that was also abandoned by her parents… To do this for something like Nina, this is too…”
Before Nina could finish what she was saying, she broke down crying and crouched down into a ball, her head buried between her knees. I gently stroked Nina’s head with my forefoot so that I didn’t pierce her with my claws. I stroked her so gently that I couldn’t tell whether I was touching her or not.
When I evolved into an evil plague dragon, I never thought that I would involve myself like this with humans again…, but you never know how life, well, a dragon life, a drife if you will, will turn out.
…Now then, I most definitely can’t be causing Haranae any more chaos than I already have. Should I make a prompt exit here?
I called out to Adofu.
((Adofu. What gonna do?))
Ball Rabbit went ahead and translated it for me.
“…For me, I think I’ll have the church acknowledge my innocence and have them get rid of the engraved seal they put on me. I’ll get them to do the same thing with my family too. After that, I plan to leave this country.”
Wellll, that sounds about right, yeah? He also wanted to do the same thing with Nina and have her come with him, if possible, but I guess Adofu and the knights still need to deal with the church. Because if everyone involved in this up and bolted as things were, well, it feels as if things would spiral into chaos.
…And yet, the odds are stacked against him, aren’t they? If he plays his cards wrong, I can see him being thrown back into prison again or something.
“Don’t worry, with as many witnesses as there were to what happened here, a blind eye definitely cannot be turned to it. The church is bound to move toward cutting Irushia out completely. Their influence has also lost ground with this incident. They won’t be able to be as inordinate as they’ve been up until now.”
Ah… ‘Dat so? That’s nice and all, but, like, every time you mention that name, I get some… mixed feelings.
Ball Rabbit glanced at me after it sent out a message with [[Telepathy]]. It seems that Ball Rabbit somehow knew my name. Or…, rather than that, I feel that it read my thoughts every time the name Irushia was mentioned. I wonder…
Adofu stiffened up for several seconds, but managed to figure it out and frowned, sighing as if he’d gone and done it.
“Since you’re always reacting strangely, to think that it was-… I see. So it was something like that, was it? But for such a name, who would’ve… no, pardon me.”
Hey, it’s because I had a more overall charming figure back then…!
“Anyway, with the hero gone, we’ll probably have our support from other countries cut off.”
Adofu looked up at a tall building after he said that. The building seemed to be related to the church.
…So that’s how it’ll be? For some reason, this still leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth…
“Ugh, sorry. It isn’t something I should be saying in front of you. Don’t worry, aid and such was only ever distributed among the top church officials. Things probably won’t be any worse off than they already are now.”
No matter which of the two, neither sounds good. Will it really be okay here? Though, even if I worry about it, it’s not like I can really do anything else at this point…
I stooped down and placed Nina and Ball Rabbit on my back.
I roared toward Adofu.
“If you weren’t here, that heretic would’ve gone unchecked for a long time. I would’ve forever lost my opportunity to defeat that foe. I give you my deepest gratitudes, dragon. No…, Irushia.”
My parting words seemed to have been conveyed even without translation. I kicked off the ground and flew up into the sky.
As the buildings rapidly became smaller, I reversed course in the middle of my flight and took my eyes off of Adofu, who was looking up at me, and left Haranae behind.
“…Mr. Dragon, your name was really Irushia? It really suits you. Nina thinks it’s a good name, Nya. Can Nina call you that from now on too?”
Nina started talking to me during the flight. I ended up reacting to the words ‘from now on’ and was inadvertently slow to respond.
Partner cried out of her own accord. You damned… No… I have nothing more to say… I quickly glanced to the side to check on Nina and saw that she was looking at me.
It was as if she knew which one of us was the main part of the body. That or… did she guess something from the response just now?
“Um… Mr. Irushia? Will you be together with Nina… from now on?”
After hesitating a bit, I shook my head from side to side. Even if I were to lie, there’d be no way for me to make it happen.
“…That… that’s right. Nina can’t cause Mr. Irushia any more trouble than she already has… can she?”
I’m sure Nina is anxious about human settlements. From being enslaved, to being centipede bait, and to top it all off, almost being publicly executed… With all of this, it’s more of a wonder that she hasn’t been traumatized.
However, I have [[Dragon Scale Powder]]. Even if I bring you along with me, it’s obvious that you’ll exhibit the symptoms of the curse again within a few days.
And besides, I’m pretty sure that I’ll be exposed to danger many times over from now on too. The same can be said about potential new places for me to settle down in. And Voice of God is bearing down on my mind… I simply can’t bring Nina along with me.
“…Nina’s sorry… Nya.”
Nina began with a few words.
“The truth is… Nina knew all along. Mr. Irushia… you’ve been thinking about Nina and trying to leave her. You seem lonely too, Mr. Irushia. Because when Nina looks at your face… she knows… Nina’s sorry for being troublesome… for being… whatever… and for talking in a way that was taking advantage of you… Nya.”
…I see. So even a magic beast’s facial expressions can be conveyed to humans, huh?
Nina, with her status, won’t be able to go on living a decent life. Yep, what can a human do but live among other humans? I do envy you, though, since that’s something that I can’t do now. Ohh, the irony.
Ball Rabbit. Relay a message for me.
There was a country nearby that had appealed to Haranae so that they could take in beastmen for protection. Tell her I’m going to take her there.
That’s not going to happen. It can’t. You know that.
Even I want to have that happen. You’re someone who can read minds to a certain extent. Since you’re talking back this much, I can tell that Nina is probably very scared of human settlements. I can tell, but still… it has to be better than death. And it is the country that Adofu recommended to us. By some possibility, what I think is that things might even go well for Nina.
It’s not like you want to kill her either, right?
I’m concerned as well. I mean, I’m dropping Nina off at a place that I’ve never even seen with my own two eyes. All I know about what kind of place Ardezia is like is what I heard from Adofu, and that’s it. Beyond that, I don’t even know what kind of life she might end up living. Perhaps it’s irresponsible, but even so, it’s the only option that we have left.