After confirming that the black object was indeed gone, the Dragon and I finally descended back down to the solid ground, alive.
Ah, you could have let me down a little bit gentler…
I felt like my organs were about to pop out.
The nearby Margrave rushed towards me.
“Lady Rururia!! Are… Are you alright!?”
“… I’m not okay…”
I got off the Dragon, feeling like I would fall over.
I then deactivated that annoying magic chain. I won’t forget this, definitely not.
Ahhh. I thought I was going to die. I don’t need any more adventures like that.
…Don’t look at me like that, Dragon!
The young Margrave yelled impatiently.
What’s up? I feel so bad right now… It’s as if my stomach was full of… Ughhh.
Something heavy was moving behind my head.
I felt a strong gust of wind ruffle my hair.
When I turned around, I saw the Dragon’s tail swaying.
“D… Dragon! Hey! Dragon…!”
No, I’m not giving you a compliment for that!
If that tail were to hit my head, I’d be turned into a pancake!
While the Margrave calmed me down, I heard the Dragon swatting down a thin black needle-like thing. Like a bug.
It was a remaining tendril fragment from the black object.
I’m sorry for doubting you, Dragon. I thought you were just playing around like usual…
Oh, and thank you!
I am deeply grateful for all your help today… But…
Your tail’s still pretty dangerous, you know? If that were to land a hit on me, I’d definitely die.
So, please be more careful around me, Dragon-san!!!
“It wasn’t entirely killed? We may need to re-evaluate what had happened here.”
“…In theory, it should have been wiped out with the rest of it. Sorry, Rururia-chan.”
“But we did get some good readings on it. I want to get this information back to the laboratory immediately.”
“Uhm… Everyone! Aren’t you all a little too calm about all this?”
The adults had all gathered together to discuss the phenomenon we had just witnessed.
Yeah! You just go ahead and talk to them, Margrave!
Personally, I didn’t get a good look at that black thing. I was too busy worrying about my Dragon’s tail!
But apparently, it almost got me. I was in danger and didn’t even realize it.
I’m glad that somebody was able to set a magic circle in front of me just in time to stop it.
…Well, if that’s what happened, you could have told me sooner! Thanks, I guess!?
“Dragon…? What is it?”
I reached my hand out to the Dragon, who was suddenly growling, but it recoiled from my touch.
…This was the first time he had done this.
He’s usually so happy whenever I tried to pet him…
The Dragon flew away to avoid me.
What’s the matter?
…The black tendril was coiling around my Dragon as it floated in the air.
I could do nothing but watch as my Dragon groaned painfully as the black thing overtook him.
It seemed like the Chief Magician and the others were panicking, trying to do something for the situation… But the whole situation felt like a dream, something happening far away.
Ahhh, what should I do? What are you doing, Dragon?
Were you trying to protect me from that black thing?
…If my Dragon were to go away, I wouldn’t know what I’d do.
The Dragon was wholly covered in blackness.
It was only now that I’ve realized… I may have said things like ‘I wanted him to leave and go home’, but really I enjoyed having him around.
It’s been so much fun being together with this Dragon.
The Dragon who loved to lick up honey, the Dragon who seemed sad whenever he had to wait for me, the Dragon that was scared of the Knight Commander, the Dragon who loved to chase butterflies and liked having his scales stroked…
He’s become a massive part of my life.
My hands trembled and felt cold, like they were someone else’s.
At some point, without noticing… I had stepped into the sea, my wet skirt clung to my legs, making it difficult to walk.
Even so, I tried to move my legs just to get a little closer to my Dragon.
…Ahhh, I feel so bad.
I hate it.
I hate it.
I hate it.
I don’t want to lose anyone.
I held both hands out to my Dragon, wrapped in black.
God, Satan, anybody… Please listen to me.
I’ll do anything. Take me instead.
I’ll do anything.
Please, I’m begging you.
“Just give back my Dragon.”
I felt a burning sensation on my left hand, and it gave off some kind of light.
The pain throbbed through my bones, and I clenched my teeth, trying to hold myself up.
…I can handle this amount of pain.
My arm stretched out farther, long enough to reach my Dragon.
If this would let me bring him back, it’s a small price to pay.
Ahhh. I guess my arms were about to be torn off.
I wasn’t sure what was happening, but the blackness coiled around my Dragon began to diminish.
My heartfelt like it was collapsing in on itself as I fought to stay conscious.
I felt my strength leaving my body, and it grew harder to stand straight up.
If I were to fall here… It felt like I’d never see my Dragon again.
…Ah, what’s missing? Will I need to squeeze out more of my life force?
I felt a light sensation on my hands.
Did something just fall?
A small dragon sat perfectly in my hands.
He’s okay, but he became small.
His scales were light brown with black spots, and he’s so tiny. Was it really him?
I flipped him around to examine every inch of him. Then I stroked his whole body.
I still didn’t know what he was saying, but he cried out so happily, and his tail was wagging.
…It’s my Dragon, alright!
He became smaller, but it was definitely him.
It seemed like he was safe and healthy…
I’m relieved about that, but doesn’t that mean you’ve lost your physical strength…?
The Dragon grumbled something agitatedly, and in the distance, I heard a rush of water.
What’s the deal, Dragon?
The black thing was gone now—there’s no more need for worry.
…Ahhh. His mouth was all salty…
I woke up, realizing I was already in my bed.
I felt discomfort on my neck and saw that it was because my Dragon had taken my pillow and shifted my head out of the way.
Maybe he really wasn’t okay…
“Rururia! You’re awake! Chief! Rururia is awake!”
“…Ahhh. It hurts! Don’t touch me there! Michelle!”
“Tha… That’s good… Rururia-chan… I’m glad!”
“Ruru… Ruru…! Lady Ria! You’re okay!”
“…Oh, uh… Thanks, everyone. Were you all worried about me?”
“Extremely so… What?“
The four all spoke in unison. Since when had they gotten so friendly?
Michelle, holding the Chief Magician’s neck, let go as if she had just noticed something.
…Was she choking him? Was the Chief Magician alright?
“Now that we know she’s awake, I need all the men out of this room!”
“No, but the Dragon…”
“We’ll worry about that later, Chief.”
“Ah, that’s right! A gentleman shouldn’t be in a lady’s bedroom!”
“Wasn’t it a bit late to only notice that now?”
Leonardo was really too kind.
…But he was sporting a runny nose.
Leonardo noticed my gaze and wiped his nose with a handkerchief. The Chief Magician who seemed enraptured with my Dragon and the young, red-faced Margrave all left the room.
They really were so polite.
Once the three of them had rushed out of the room… Michelle grabbed my cheeks.
Was she angry about something, or…?
“…At that time, do you know about what you were able to do before fainting?”
“Uhhh. Uhm… What did I do?”
“You traded life force for magical power.”
I tried to respond, but Michelle cut me off.
Hmmm, no way. Was that really what I did?
…No, I really have no idea.
Although it’s true that at the end, I felt like my mind was wandering and…
I turned life force into magical power?
Was I really capable of such advanced magic?
I felt the strength of Michelle’s hands on my face.
My cheeks! Your fingers were about to punch a hole through my face!
“Sorry, I didn’t realize.”
Michelle looked directly at me, looking embarrassed with her reddish-brown eyes.
“…In that short amount of time, you managed to use your power to defeat the black thing.”
I believe that apologizing to someone who did something that incredible was really humbling.
But, there was only one word I could say to Michelle in turn from the bottom of my heart…
…I wanted to say ‘yes’ in a serious tone, but my cheeks were still being crushed, making my voice sound stupid!
Michelle laughed, tears forming in the corner of her eyes.
Hey! Please don’t laugh at me like that!
It’s your fault anyway, Michelle!
After laughing so much, Michelle’s eyes shone with a mischievous look.
“Well, I apologize. I’ll dissect… I mean, analyze every corner of you, Rururia, to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
“Huh? Hold on a second! What do you mean dissect!?”
I accidentally bit the inside of my cheek!
Did Michelle really just say ‘dissect‘!?
“Lady Rururia! Are you alive!?”
The door opened with a loud thud, a lump of muscle… No, the muscular Margrave came in.
Uhm… This was a lady’s bedroom…
“Father! What are you doing in a woman’s bedroom!?”
“Oy, old man! Don’t be so loud when the Dragon’s trying to sleep!”
“…Chief, you were here too? Oh wait, I knew you were.”
Huh? Those three that were supposed to leave my room were back again?
And Michelle… Still wasn’t letting me go!?
I desperately tried to block Michelle’s hand, which had finally released my cheek, that was trying to take off my clothes.
Michelle did not stop as she turned her face to look at the rest of them.
“Hey! I’m trying to examine Rururia right now, so you all need to leave!”
“Uhm… Excuse me!? How are you both rude and shameless!?”
“Hey, let me have a part of this!”
“Don’t be a pervert, Chief Magician… I’ll just give you the results afterward.”
“Oooh! I’m proud of my muscles! Examine me, too!”
So many people were chiming in that I couldn’t catch up!
Leonardo, who I thought I could trust, had betrayed me!
Young Margrave! Don’t just blush and stiffen up. Please help me!
Stop your father who was trying to see me with no clothes on!
Did I really just survive that last situation, only to be thrown into this one…?
….Leave me alone!
I just want to go home!