“Ryujin-sama! You have come to save us!”
The large man, still kneeling, bowed his head sincerely.
“We thought that you had left for somewhere far away because no one had seen you for such a long time… However, you have made your return ahead of the abyss spawning season once more and I, Barong, bestow nothing but gratitude unto you! It is a great honor to be able to meet you again, Ryujin-sama!”
Uh, no? That’s a completely different dragon?! Look, sorry, but I really don’t know of this previous dragon you hold so high! This dragon they’re talkin’ about has totally gone somewhere else hasn’t it.
Nevermind that, what’d he say? Abyss breedin’ season? ‘Hell are they, demon spawn? I don’t want anything more to do with those damned monstrous insects.
The woman, dressed as a shrine maiden, walked forward, stood next to the large man, sliced the air with her hand, and in a low voice chanted, “Tei, Les.” After that the woman faced me, raised her large staff, and swiftly closed her eyes.
⸨Dragon God Shrine Maiden Hibi, at your service. Although it would appear that your form has changed, we are nevertheless grateful and relieved to have you by our side once more.⸩
Quickly, words began to flow directly into my head. Seems apparent she can ⟨Telepathize⟩. Before, she spoke to me normally when the tribe came bringin’ me those tributes… I wonder if this carries some kinda ceremonial connotations or somethin’? Either way, I can usually understand what everyone says, but… Well… I guess I can appreciate that I can now also communicate my intentions.
Additionally, I can also hold a conversation if I use ⟨Humanization⟩, but I suspect I probably shouldn’t do anythin’ too rash in this situation. I’m pretty sure that back when Adhoff was talking about the Litōvear Tribe, he was giving off implications that it was a dangerous tribe. It’s possible that the Litōvear Tribe will show hostility toward any outside humans, so if it’s discovered that I’m not their dragon god, they could turn against me without a second thought.
Er, then again, I am the one who saved some of them from those monstrous creatures… So if I were to go ahead and reveal who I am sometime in the future before my secret’s blown and it blows everything up, I’ll be alright, right? If I do that, then if they turn against me, things will turn really ugly, but I’ve got a feelin’ that to insist that “No, I am Ryujin-sama”… is also going to be nearly impossible to continue upholdin’. Plus, they might be more open to persuasion now while there’s only a few tribespeople.
Alright, the plan’s come together. Even in the unlikely event that this turns into a battle, I should be able to easily render them harmless given the gulf between our capabilities.
I formed an image in my mind of me just throwing what I intended to communicate at the people before me, not unlike what I did when I would start a conversation with Ball Rabbit. So, the truth is that I’m… different… from the previous dragon god—…
“Ryujin-sama! So it is not that you grew tired of us and left us as we feared?! …I’m so—… I’m so—!”
The large man, Barong, clasped his hands against his face—covering the area around his eyes—as he choked up, bursting into tears, before suddenly bowing with such momentum that it was as if he was trying to bang his head against the ground—tears of pure joy streaming down his hands from between his fingers.
Er, no, um, I’m like, saying that… —a different dragon, um…
⸨Whatever seems to be the matter, Ryujin-sama?⸩
I once again had a message thrown my way via ⟨Telepathize⟩. My sheer impatience had left me nodding my head almost involuntarily.
Barong then over-emphatically raised his head up. The tears streaming down his face were smudging up his tribal face paint, but nevertheless his face glowed with emotion.
Uh… Pal. My guy. You’re gettin’ carried away. You’re too much.
I quietly averted my gaze from Barong’s zealously glowing eyes.
“Barong! Stop acting so shamefully while in Ryujin-sama’s presence! You can see that you are even embarrassing Ryujin-sama, can you not?”
“But– But– But–!”
Hibi, the Dragon God Shrine Maiden, said as she opened her eyes and reprimanded Barong.
Hibi appeared to be short and had youthful-looking skin bearing no visible imperfections, making her probably about 15~17 years old at the oldest. Next, Barong, in comparison, appeared to be well within his own separate age range partly due to his physique, making him I’d say roughly around his mid-twenties. In contrast, I could tell that Hibi was higher up the social ladder than Barong by looking at their exchange.
Yep, bein’ a Dragon God’s Shrine Maiden probs means you’re in an elevated position, huh? Hibi looked to be rather composed for her age when compared to Barong, so she’s probably experienced her fair share of trials and tribulations.
I just… ended up noddin’ along. Not like I could do anythin’ anyway. That means it’s on to plan B. I dunno the what or the where of what the first gen dragon god was doin’, but I’ve got no choice but to become the second Ryujin-sama.
Soo… with this plan, I can put aside the risk of the tribe turnin’ against me for now… and I can also avoid throwing them for a loop. If I can manage to establish a strong, trustful relationship with the Litōvear Tribe, then I shouldn’t have any problems even when they do find out about me. Far as I can tell from how the two of them are actin’, they don’t look to be the hot-blooded bunch that the rumors I’ve been hearin’ about ‘em said they were. As such, there might be some kinda misunderstandin’.
…And besides, it ain’t so bad to be pampered.
After taking a look into Barong’s and Hibi’s eyes, I quickly pointed my head toward the sky. Not good, not good, not good. My face is subconsciously sorta lightenin’ up. I’m Ryujin-sama. Therefore, I needa make myself look more sharp and alert, right?
It’s been quite a long time since I’ve been able to see looks like this coming from multiple people. I guess it hasn’t been since I fought against that little rock dragon in the forest back when I was still a juvenile plaguewyrm. …At that time, though, well… it didn’t even last an hour…
So, has it finally come? My guardian deity route? I’ve hit the peak period of popularity in my drife! Ayyy!
…Right, it’s just that I gotta head back soon. I’m sure Wight is waiting for me. I even went and placed a bodyguard treant on Wight, but if they make contact with a high-rankin’ monster, then that treant almost certainly ain’t gonna hold out.
I turned my body around.
“Are you leaving us already, Ryujin-sama?! Since everyone is worried about you, if we could have you come to our village just once, it would be—…!”
“It is my duty to relay this matter to everyone and to keep them calm! Barong, you are to keep your mouth shut! For all such matters that cause trouble for Ryujin-sama, it is I that—…”
Er, I’m rather fine with visiting the village at least once… or, to put it better, I’d like to go to the village at least once… But, I really can’t afford to take my eyes off of Wight for an extended period of time given they’re E rank… Visiting the village will have to come after Wight once again grows a little bit more…
“Moreover, have you forgotten that we came here to collect medicinal herbs for the traveler? The traveler is still suffering as we speak!”
“B– But— No, you are right… It is as you say, Hibi-sama.”
Barong hung his head down dejectedly. …Seeing the large man shrinking in front of the young woman looks… how best to put it… looks totally pathetic.
However, hospitality for a traveler, you say? I knew it. So they’re not as dangerous and bad of a bunch as the rumors kept saying they were, are th— Wait, suffering? Traveler…? Like, someone droppin’ by for some kinda visit…?
I looked toward the forest, across to the other side, where Wight was probably waiting for me. An image crossed my mind of Wight pointing their finger toward where the Litōvear Tribe was, as if concerned about their former tribespeople. … I… guess I’ll go ahead and address this point of uncertainty… It’s not what I think it is, is it…?
I turned myself around for the second time, this time to face Hibi and Barong.
Shall we go ahead and hear a little bit more about this traveler?