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66

The Guardian Deity Appeared from the Bottom of the Sea,

So I Told It What Happened and Tried to Negotiate

 

 

 

After the incident, all the unmasked Order of Divine came to their senses.

They testified that after they joined the Order of Divine, it was as if they were in a dream.

The first few were those who were bought by Eterina Hasburg and ordered to become her subordinates in exchange for releasing them from slavery, and the rest thought, “The Order of Divine are strong, so why not join them?”

After that, they were subjected to mental control by the mask, and manipulated.

The Marquis is the only one who knows how many of the Order of Divine have been abandoned and how many have died.

The Marquise, Eterina, seems to have lost her mind and is huddled in a dungeon.

“Don’t touch me, you savage.”

“I am a Hero. I came from another world.”

“When the Guildmaster comes, you’re all dead.”

“What did I do to deserve this? …”

That’s what she keeps mumbling to herself.

The fact that the “Sacred Dragon Dungeon” was devastated, the mansion of the Irgafa Lord was captured, and it was the heir of the Lord who caused this is not something that can be announced.

“We’ll have to deal with this behind the scenes” Iris said.

Eterina’s case has been referred to the Marquis for questioning. She was imprisoned in the basement.

Iris’s brother, Neuel, is left in the care of relatives, and the heir is adopted from a branch family.

And Iris is at…

“Once again, I ask you, Souma. Please join me in the rituals of the festival.”

With an exhausted look on her face, she requested me to go with her.

I knew her too well to send Iris off to the dungeon alone in such a state.

So.

“All right. I’ll go along with the ritual.”

I replied to Iris.

“I really don’t know if I can free you from your position as the Shrine Maiden though. Are you still okay with that?”

“Yes.”

Iris pursed her lips and nodded, looking like she was trying to hold back tears.

“Thank you, Souma… Thank you.”

She took my hand and started to cry, still unable to hold back her tears.

Since I was going to participate in the ritual, I needed to find out about the Legend of the Sea Dragon.

So I decided to borrow some materials from Iris.

A day and a half left until the ceremony. Let’s cram as much as I can in that time.

It’s like cramming for the tests like I used to do the previous day.

“The Legend of the Sea Dragon” had many versions.

What they all have in common is that the daughter of the Sea Dragon and the Hero fall in love, and then the Hero completes a quest to be recognized by the Sea Dragon as his son-in-law.

There were several versions of the encounter between the daughter of the Sea Dragon and the Hero.

The daughter of a Sea Dragon fell in love with a brave man and took human form.

The Hero fell in love with the dragon, and the dragon answered her feelings by taking human form. There are many variations like these.

Most of the stories are either love stories or adventure stories, and the daughter of the Sea Dragon and the Hero are supposed to be blessed by everyone.

But one thing – in the book that Iris lent me read “this is a heretical story” – the daughter of the Sea Dragon was attacked by humans.

She fell in love with a human boy and borrowed the power of a Sea Dragon to take human form, but because of the scales on her body, she was treated as a monster.

The daughter of the Sea Dragon was chased by people throwing stones at her, and when she almost died, she was finally reunited with the Hero. After that, the Hero defeated the “natural enemy of the Sea Dragon ” that was causing trouble for people, and everyone turned their hands around nicely. In the end, the Sea Dragon blessed him and he came to live here in Irgafa, and the story was over.

It was dark, to say the least.

But this is the one that feels right.

On the contrary, it’s more suspicious to hear that the people of this world accepted the daughter of a Sea Dragon as normal.

Because the humans of this world are destroying Cecil’s race – the demon race.

And the human-supremacist cult of Iturna is in full swing.

Even Iris was called a “monster” by her idiot brother.

I don’t know which ones are true.

However, from Iris’ testimony, it’s clear that if I can connect with Iris like the “Hero” and the “daughter of the Sea Dragon,” I can free her from the Shrine Maiden’s mission. This seems to be a tradition passed down by the Shrine Maiden, so there’s no doubt about it.

The only thing left to do was to see what kind of proposal the Sea Dragon would come up with.

I thought of a few modes.

(1) Easy mode

The mission is already complete since I have ‘defeated’ the Great Monster Leviathan. The Sea Dragon will accept my connection with the Shrine Maiden.

(2) Normal mode

Looking forward to the future. If I can get to know Iris a little better and connect with her psychologically, it’ll be OK.

(3) Hard mode

I need to sign a Master-Slave Contract in front of the Sea Dragon Kerukatoru and perform Soul Engagement with her.

(4) R-18 Mode

Physically connect with Iris.

(5) Another mode

Another quest is required in order to connect with Iris.

“… It is most likely (2) or (5). It would be easier if it was (1) though.”

Let’s think about (4) after it is proposed…

Just in case, I decided to consider all the possibilities and plan a countermeasure.

The day of the festival

We were in the hall of the Dungeon again.

The members were me, Cecil, Rita, and Iris.

The reason for the selection is that these four are the only ones who can withstand the ‘pressure’.

Aine and Rafilia are staying on the ground.

In the town, the residents were dancing around with music, and there were Sea Dragons parading down the main street, but it was quiet here.

“Then… open the central door.”

Iris stared at the door leading to the central hub with a nervous look on her face.

She was wearing a ceremonial robe.

It was pure white in color. The fabric was so thin that you could almost see through it, and the embroidery was done in the shape of a Sea Dragon. The concept of the dress was to look as close to a Sea Dragon as possible, and the hem of the dress was so long that it dragged on the ground. Normally, the maid who comes with her carries the hem of the dress, but this time I had to take on that role.

“Cecil, Rita, may I?

Iris put her hand on the door.

At her touch, the heavy iron door began to creak and move.

“”Yes. I’m ready.””

With that, Cecil and Rita clung to my arms.

“Well, if I stay like this, Nagi’s mysterious power will protect me.

“Yes, you’re right. We are not going to let the pressure get to us.”

Mystery power is different.

I explained to both of you that the resistance of the Sea Dragon Hero is flowing into both of you through the bond of the Soul Engagement, didn’t I?

“Let’s go then…”

Iris looked at them, smiled a little sadly, and pushed open the door.

Cecil and Rita started to shiver as a cold wind blows out.

“I’m off then.”

I waited for them to calm down, and then I let go of both of their hands.

“Yes, and be careful Nagi.”

So don’t look like such a lost puppy.

I am not going far. I’m just going to the next room.

“Then I’ll borrow him for a while.”

On their behalf, Iris took my hand.

She was shaking.

This ritual will change Iris’s fate.

To put it another way, it’s like going to an interview at a super-white company to change jobs from a black company. It’s understandable to be nervous.

“It’s okay.”

There are no guarantees, though.

In front of Iris, I’ve decided to play a local character called the “Sea Dragon Hero”.

“If the ritual fails, I’ll make you a cheat character who can rule Irgafa with fear. You’ll have freedom then.”

“That sounds like a lot of fun … big brother.”

Iris took a deep breath, grasped my hand, and started to walk.

And so we entered the heart of the Sea Dragon.

The center of the dungeon was a space surrounded by a pale blue light.

The ceiling was dome-shaped, and a pale blue light was pouring down from it. The glowing light seemed to be the scales of the Sea Dragon Kerukatoru.

When the tide comes in, this place is submerged in seawater up to the ceiling.

Some of the Sea Dragon’s scales get peeled off and get stuck on the ceiling during the ritual. After much repetition of this process, the scales have now become part of the ceiling.

And it is glowing because it is reacting to the magic power of the Sea Dragon.

When the festival is near, it glows pale blue and creates a mysterious space underground.

The ground was flat and rocky, and in the center was a lake about the size of a school field. The smell of the tide is probably because the lake is connected to the ocean.

In front of the lake, there was a small altar … with a pillar of around one meter high.

On the surface, there are letters and a coat of arms engraved. I’m not sure what it says. All I know is that the crest is in the shape of the Sea Dragon Kerukatoru.

“I will begin the ritual of summoning the Sea Dragon. Souma, please stand back for a moment.”

Saying this, Iris approached the lake.

Slowly, she walked into the water.

When she was knee-deep in the water, Iris stopped and scooped the water with both hands.

She pours it over my shoulder.

Right shoulder, Left shoulder

Chest

Back

It’s like she is trying to dissolve herself into the water.

The thin robe stuck to Iris’s body, allowing me to see her white skin.

And her slender back

And her waist

And the scales on her shoulders

“In the name of Iris Hoffimier, Shrine Maiden of this Generation, I desire a ‘Contract’ with the Sea Dragon.”

Iris’s beautiful voice began to echo in the underground space.

It was like a congratulatory gesture from my world.

{A mysterious vow for eternity

The Ancient God who is bound to this land

Please listen to the voice of a descendant of your family

The maiden who binds thee and thy people begs thee

To be here to celebrate the anniversary

It is the prayer of the people who live on the sea.}

(TN: It’s a song.}

Iris was singing and dancing.

With her body still in the water, Iris stretched out her thin arms and scooped the water.

She poured it over her head leaving a stream of water running down her white skin.

She turned around causing the water droplet to fly off her hair.

The water droplets created ripples on the surface of the lake.

At the hall of the dungeon, where nobody but me could see her, Iris continued her dance in praise of the Sea Dragon.

{Let us make a covenant for many years to come.

I am of thy blood, son of man

Thou art the dragon that I shall call my father

Let us renew our vows for another year

Hear the voice of the people who praise thee.}

“Kerukatoru, the Sea Dragon … is here.”

The dance was over.

Iris turned to me, held her chest shyly, and bowed.

It was beautiful.

I don’t know anything about art, though.

I guess this is what you get when you master the movements, the pacing, the breathing, and all those other things.

“If we can successfully regain my freedom today, then…”

Iris looked at me and said.

“Next time, Souma, I’ll dance only for you.”

“That’s too wasteful, Iris.”

“Then, for you, and all my fellow slaves?”

“Slavery confirmed?”

“Isn’t it natural to want someone who is always with Souma?”

We were just talking about that.

lo-roo

The air shook.

lo-roo

The lake began to ripple.

The seawater hit the pillar. The ground shook. The light coming from the ceiling turned brighter. The whole space turned bright blue.

Something with immense magical power was approaching this place.

But as I don’t have [Magic Detection], I don’t know the details.

I’d know if Cecil was here.

“Cecil. Can you hear me?”

I asked.

“I can, Nagi.”

A reply came back to me in my head.

Cecil was in the Hall.

We’re separated by a steel door, but it’s not that far away in a straight line.

I am secretly connected with her using [Mind Linkage LV1] right now. I wanted to confirm some things.

“ An entity with a tremendous amount of magical power is approaching from the bottom of the sea. And there is a reaction to Rita’s [Presence Detection] as well. It’s not hostile, but it’s too big and scary.”

“How big are we talking?”

“Anyway, it’s very big and long. It surrounds the entire Dungeon. If such a thing were our enemy… it would be… dangerous…”

Cecil’s voice was choppy.

Maybe the Sea Dragon’s vast magical power was causing it to jam.

I told Cecil, “I’ll see you later. I will contact you if anything happens.” and then I turned my attention to the lake. I was able to confirm that I could use my “cheat skills” here as well. That’s enough for now.

“The Sea Dragon is coming, Souma.”

Iris came out of the lake and held my hand.

With a whoosh, the wind whirled and swirled the water in the lake.

The soaring water came down with the force of a torrential downpour. It drenched Iris and me.

Iris was already drenched all over, the white robe sticking to her thin body. To be honest, it’s not much different from not having any clothes on. Iris was attached to me with her back facing me. I had my hand on Iris’ shoulder. Both of us were warm only at the places where we were touching each other.

Iris’s scales were shining pearly. It’s proof that I’m a certified “Sea Dragon Hero”.

… I heard ringing sounds.

Is it because I’m nervous? Or is it because the place is trembling?

I’ve been through a lot since I came to this world, but this is my first time facing such a huge entity.

No, no.

It’s the first time I’ve faced such a big entity without Cecil and other ‘cheat characters’.

Rorororororororororororororororororororororororo

The surface of the water rose – and broke.

Ro-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh

I saw a blue horn. The Dragon was surfacing.

Narrow eyes, buried in a face with countless wrinkles, looked at us.

Huge

The head alone was the size of a truck with a large load of cargo.

But the shape was definitely that of a Dragon’s.

“We thank you for your descent after a year’s absence. Our guardian deity, the Sea Dragon Kerukatoru.”

Iris said as she rested her back against my chest.

A Dragon with blue scales covering its entire body was right in front of us.

“Good health to you, O my bloodline.”

Kerukatoru, the Sea Dragon replied.

The voice seemed to echo through the space.

Its appearance was similar to that of the oriental dragons of my world.(TN Note: Eastern Dragons like Kaido from One Piece or Shenron from Dragon Ball)

Only the part that came out of the lake was about 20 meters by my rough estimate. Its body was like a snake, with scales and fins on the back. I don’t know how far the body goes. If Cecil’s words are right, what I see is only a fraction of its total size. The rest of the body is in the water.

Only the head, part of the torso, and the front legs were sticking out of the water. Its front legs were gripping the ground with three claws. Its head had a rugged bump and eight horns. Its eyes were narrow and I couldn’t tell if they were open or closed. It had a large gaping mouth with countless fangs peeking out.

…… So this is the guardian deity of the port town of Irgafa, the Sea Dragon Kerukatoru.

I don’t know if it is a ‘God’ in the truest sense of the word, but I do know that no ordinary monster is going to be able to compete with it. Its sheer size is too big of a threat and it’s a Dragon at that, with high magic resistivity probably.

Just the magic power swirling around it proves that we are no match against it.

From the perspective of humans and beastmen, it is truly a special existence.

“It’s festival season again.”

Iris bowed her head to the Sea Dragon. I followed suit.

“Hmm…”

When the Sea Dragon spoke, the vibration made the floor and walls shake.

Even so, we could still hear the words clearly.

“But it seems that there is someone other than the Shrine Maiden who can withstand the pressure of my authority here at present.”

“I have found a qualified candidate for the Sea Dragon Hero.”

Iris grabbed my hand and squeezed it.

I held up the “Leviathan’s Scale”.

“Oh. You have defeated my natural enemy.”

“To be precise, it was my slave who defeated it Sea Dragon, Kerukatoru.”

“Then the slave is already a part of you.”

“… What do you mean?”

“The slave has become a part of you, your hands and feet, and has wielded your power. He wants it, and you accept it. So the slave’s achievement is yours. The slave wants to blend with you and that’s why you are recognized as the “Sea Dragon Hero.”

“I don’t know, but isn’t the Master, me who ordered his slaves to defeat the Leviathan being called a ‘Hero’?”

“Yes.”

The Sea Dragon Kerukatoru, who was standing on the lake with his head held high, looked at me and nodded.

“I recognize you as the Sea Dragon Hero.

If you have defeated that annoying monster fish that comes down the river from the lake without being called, has annoying regenerative abilities, ravages the territory of other sea creatures with its tentacles, and even tries to fight with me, and even if you kill it, it regenerates in a few decades…”

As if he didn’t want to be reminded of it, the Sea Dragon was raining his head down again and again.

…You’ve been so stressed out, haven’t you?

It was indeed very annoying, that Leviathan.

Its tentacles could regenerate, and its body was huge. It even had the ability to paralyze other.

“O Sea Dragon Kerukatoru. I desire to ‘Re-enact the First Ritual’ with the Hero Souma Nagi.”

“You want me to end the festival for your generation?”

“Many people died just because I was the Shrine Maiden. This Dungeon was almost destroyed as well. Just because I am the Shrine Maiden I am being targeted, and people are dying in front of me. …And, I don’t want that.”

Iris pressed her back against my body.

The black work that Iris has been subjected to as the Shrine Maiden is too much.

The Shrine Maiden is the chosen one, but because of that, she is treated like research material and tradeable object. I’m so tired that I’m afraid that if I’m left alone, I’ll be crushed.

“I read The Legend of the Sea Dragon, too.”

…I can’t help it. I’ll try to negotiate with the Sea Dragon myself.

“It says here that you gave your blessing to this port city to bless your children and the Hero.”

“Really?”

“But the rituals that go into it are a burden on the Shrine Maiden. Some of the Shrine Maidens in the past may have been happy to perform their duties, but not Iris. Rather, the situation around her has become strange now.”

“Explain.”

In an indifferent voice, the Sea Dragon said.

You’re listening to me. That’s great.

“Iris was attacked by an enemy with a special skill who wanted to use her as research material.”

“Hmm…”

“Another enemy seduced Iris’s brother, Neuel Hoffimiera, and tried to destroy the Dungeon and the ritual. The wreckage still lies in the dungeon. You should be able to check it.”

“Then, what do you suggest?”

“I think we should release Iris from her role as a Shrine Maiden.

There are two benefits in doing this. Those of your blood will be able to live freely. It will be a blessing for Iris.

Secondly, it will stabilize public order. If Iris is eliminated, the port city will lose the protection of the Sea Dragon. That’s why the enemies target Iris. And battles break out. Dungeon and towns will be ravaged. With Iris no longer being the weak point of Irgafa, we can stop that cycle.“

“The Hero of this generation…”

The Sea Dragon Kerukatoru let out a long breath.

Is it angry or happy about it?

“It’s a logical solution.”

“It’s just my personality.”

“I will consider the ‘Re-enactment of the First Ritual’. Before that, prove the connection to the priestess.”

“I don’t want to be the Shrine Maiden. It makes me feel uncomfortable. Rather I feel ease at Souma’s arms.”

“Prove your connection.”

“Iris has already pledged her allegiance to Souma, her Soul Brother!”

Iris shouted as she looked up at the Sea Dragon Kerukatoru.

“As the daughter of a Lord, I cannot wear a slave’s collar, but my heart is already Souma’s slave!

Every night, I fantasize about Souma and how his fingers gently and awkwardly guide me. This sensation is imprinted in the deepest part of my soul. It’s almost indistinguishable from reality!

For me, all that’s left is to actually do it. I have already drawn up more than a hundred plans to attack Souma in his sleep as well!”

“Wait a minute, Iris. Let’s talk this over calmly.”

“I have passed the stage of calming down. My heart has not been calm once since we took a bath together. Only in front of you, Souma, can I be the ‘girl in love’ instead of the ‘noble lady’ that everyone else knows.

In order to balance that desire with the responsibility of protecting Irgafa, I ask for a ‘Re-enactment of the First Ritual’!”

“I have considered…”

The Sea Dragon Keukatoru nodded his head as if thinking for a moment.

“…Further information is required.”

“Iris was attacked two time in just the last few days.”

“Each time, Souma saved my life.”

“First she was attacked by a fake Demon who wanted use her as a research material. And just a few days ago, she was attacked by her own brother.”

“My heart fluttered as Souma gave precise instructions to his slaves under his command to save me.”

“Maybe being a Shrine Maiden is a blessing. But Iris can’t even walk around freely because of it.”

“The fact that Souma moved in next door saved my heart.”

“The Shrine Maiden is of your blood, is she not? Their descendants feel the mission is a burden. If there’s a way to make it a little lighter, please let me know.”

“Let’s ask Souma to connect with the Shrine Maiden in the future…”

“Iris, shut up for a second.”

I blocked Iris’s mouth, who was kneeling in front of me.

Iris, who was squirming in my arms, looked kind of happy.

“Anyway, all I have to say is this. What do we do now? Kerukatoru the Sea Dragon.”

“Re-enact the First Ritual.”

Kerukatoru the Sea Dragon said.

“We will now conduct the ritual. Make a Master-Slave Contract with the Shrine Maiden, Hero. She shall be your ‘Secret Slave’.”

“Secret Slave?”

“Iris Hoffimier. By my blood that flows in thee, I interfere with this Contract. If a Shrine Maiden were to become a slave to another, this city would be upset. It is not my intention to do so.”

Yeah. That’s a big problem for me, too.

“I will make sure that the collar is unrecognizable. I will decorate the collar befitting a Shrine Maiden.”

“Why do we need a Master-Slave Contract?”

“The ritual is too complex to be performed here and now. Therefore, the ‘Master-Slave Contract’ is used as a means of proving the connection.”

In a grave tone, the Sea Dragon said.

Either way, we don’t know of any formal rituals. So I need to enslave Iris?

The Sea Dragon Kerukatoru was listening to us. The level of existence is too different for me to understand, but it seems that he understands our situation and is trying to fulfill Iris’ wish.

If so, this would be a good compromise.

“All right. Be my slave, Iris.”

“Yes. Souma.”

Iris turned to me and kneeled down in front of me.

I take out my medallion and declare.

The terms of the contract are: “In exchange for Iris’ release from her role as the Shrine Maiden, Iris will take Souma Nagi as her master. The contract may be terminated at any time…”

“It must be worth it, Souma.”

Iris said, as if she could read my inner thoughts.

As expected of a tactician.

“‘Until Souma-Nagi’s life becomes stable and he can live without working.” I’ll take that.”

“Yes. Then ‘Contract’.

“Contract.”

With a click, we clapped the medallions on our chests.

The collar wrapped around Iris’s neck with a swoosh.

But it wasn’t made of leather, it was a collar with scales of a Sea Dragon.

It seems that the Sea Dragon interfered with the design of the collar.

“This can be explained as an ornament that we gave you.”

“Thank you. Thank you, Kerukatoru, the Sea Dragon.”

This way, no one will notice that Iris has become my slave.

We can have Iris stay at the Lord’s house as before, and only serve as a slave when she comes to my house. We can figure out the details later.

“…I finally belong to you, Souma …”

“This is no time to get excited. This is only the first stage of the ritual.”

The Sea Dragon was still staring at us.

“So tell me about this Trial. Is it an errand quest? Or is it a quest to defeat someone?”

“It’s just a ‘Re-enactment of the Ritual’.”

The Sea Dragon Kerukatoru raised his clawed arm.

“Attention all qualified “Sea Dragon Heroes”. Save the priestess. ..”

What?

Iris was puzzled, too.

What do you mean?

“Just as the first Hero did, save the Shrine Maiden from the memories and pain of the “Daughter of the Sea Dragon” who chose to live in the human world!”

The moment the Sea Dragon Kerkuatoru shouted.

Magic swirled in the space, and then.

The light disappeared from Iris’s eyes.

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