Chapter 19: Of a Boy and His Sister, the Evil Dragon’s Aim Realised

 

“Alive…? Actually, come to think of it, the book said that there was one little girl who made it out alive…”

“That’ll be her, I assume. I don’t know for certain whether she’s still in the royal capital, but if she is… Well, the capital’s going to be attacked, Mister.”

“Attacked? What makes you so sure?”

While what I’d seen of the Evil Dragon back in the Grim Forest lent all the more credence to his statement, I was still curious to know the specific reason.

“It’s the scent… so I was told, at least.”

“Scent?”

“From what I understand, whenever the dragon goes to destroy some village or town, it always makes sure to leave behind on survivor. Once it’s done that, it goes to sleep. It can sleep for anything between a few decades or a few centuries before waking up. It then follows the trail of their scent to where there might be plenty of people around, and lays waste to them until it’s satisfied. Then it repeats the cycle.”

“Whoa, hold on! Does your sister know about this?!”

“Of course she doesn’t. It’s only recently that this was even found out, after all. It came here, see. Not too long ago, either.”

“For real?!”

“Usually, its nap would last a few more centuries. Now, though, it awoke after barely a decade. ‘How lucky. Normally, I would hunt for where her descendants live, far and wide, but now I may very well see her visage, twisted in fear… Now then, time to hunt for my own scent. It still clings to her.’ That’s what it said.”

“…I guess the Evil Dragon really loves running its mouth. It didn’t say a word when I got in its way… Huh? Wait, how’d you even hear what it said?”

The boy pointed at the earth beneath him in response.

“I suppose it never quite realised that there was a ghost, right there. I could listen in without much trouble.”

“Right…”

In any case, if what he had said was true, wasn’t the royal capital in a bit of a jam? It was just the day before yesterday that I’d run into the thing… if you told me that it was still wandering about, lost in the Grim Forest, then I couldn’t be happier.

“You’ve heard my piece; my sister’s the one it’s aiming for, and the royal capital’s in just as much danger. That’s why I need you to do something about it, Mister.”

I was well aware of that, but still…

“Who’s this older sister of yours, anyway? I can’t exactly guarantee her safety if I don’t even know her name, you know.”

“Oh, pardon. I forgot to say.”

The boy scratched his head before he turned to look at me again.

“Helen Reen. That’s my sister’s name.”

That was Helen’s full name, wasn’t it? The receptionist? Wait, what? Was Helen the one who survived?!

“Judging by your reaction, I’d wager that you already know her. I’m leaving her and the capital in your hands, Mister.”

That said and done, the boy’s body began to grow more and more translucent.

“What? Hey! Wait a minute!”

“Oh, and one more thing. I’m pretty sure that she feels responsible for my death, so please, tell her that she doesn’t have herself to blame for anything.”

“Wait! I’ve still got questions… and…”

I reached my hand out to the boy, the movement fuelled by my subconscious, only for him to vanish before I could finish what I had to say. For crying out loud… doesn’t he know how much of a burden that puts on me if he just up and disappears like that…?

Regardless, he’d relayed a responsibility to me. I had better find my resolve. It was better if I went straight to Helen and told her about this.

I patrolled about the village one more time, just to be sure that there was no more information that was eluding my grasp, then ran for the royal capital.

Somewhat further away, at the gates to the royal capital…

The two guards that always stood vigilantly at the gate were going about their usual business, scrutinising anyone who would request entry to the land, when…

“Hey. What’s that over there?”

One of them raised a finger to the skies that unfolded in front of him, taking notice of a black something that was rapidly growing in size, sure proof that it was drawing closer.

“Is that… is that a black dragon?”

“Might be… No, it’s not. That’s no black dragon…”

The sentence came to an abrupt halt as the black creature descended in its flight and swept over the gate, letting loose a staggering tumult of wind.

“Finally, I have found the city wherein you make your home… I have decided that you will be the first to fall to me. Come now, where might you be?”

The hitherto unknown dragon, pitch-black in its hue, flew into the city and left, in its wake, a royal capital writhing in panicked throes.

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