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Episode 67

To Save the Shrine Maiden’s Heart, I Cornered Her a

Little Against the Wall

 

 

“…Ah, ah, ah!”

Iris, who had turned pale, backed away from me as if frightened.

Tears streaming down her face, she was shaking her head like a dumb child – is she trying to escape from me?

“Iris…? Iris?”

“It’s… scary. People… are scary. I’m… I’m…”

Iris hugged herself and trembled as she backed away.

It’s like she can’t hear me.

“What did you do?”

“I gave her the memory of my daughter, who fell in love with a Hero.”

The Sea Dragon never changed its expression. I can’t tell the difference in expressions of a Dragon.

“Is this the ‘Trial of the Sea Dragon’ …?”

“Correct. My daughter, who was disguised as a human, was persecuted and frightened by humans.”

I know.

There was one such story in one of the books I borrowed from Iris.

I thought it was the most genuine one.

That’s because it was the same in my world. There was a custom to worship old generals who lost battles and old people who lost their countries as Gods. The more beautiful the love story in “The Legend of the Sea Dragon” was, the more I instinctively felt that there was a hidden truth that wasn’t being revealed.

“My daughter fell in love with a boy who tried to understand Dragons, and she chose to sacrifice her Dragon abilities, her life span, everything to take human form. But people didn’t understand that.

They attacked my daughter as an evil thing disguised as a human. My daughter endured it and sought the boy she loved.

In the end, she was reunited with the boy – the Hero – and fulfilled her wish. He saved daughter from despair.

With that, people finally understood the two of us. Therefore, I have decided to grant them a blessing. Because the Hero and my daughter wanted it…

If you want the ritual to be performed again, you must go through the same ordeal.”

The Sea Dragon is neither human nor demi-human.

Their scale of thinking is different from ours. Their lifespan is different. Their existence itself is different.

Just the fact that he is listening to me is a miracle.

“I know that men abhor that which is different from them.”

“I know.”

Successive generations of Shrine Maidens have been imprisoned as tools for rituals.

Iris was also hated by her family and called a monster by her brother.

“If you are a qualified Sea Dragon Hero, accept this girl. Save her heart and prove to me that you will always be together. This will be a re-enactment of the first ritual.”

It’s easy for you to say.

I’m not good at saving people.

“…Iris.”

“Huh! Ah, ah, … don’t come.”

Iris brushed my hand away.

“Just because I have scales …why should I be hit by stones? I like humans, and I wanted to be one of them …even though my father made me look like a human. …Why… Why do I have to be hated by everyone? I never wanted to be the Shrine Maiden”

Iris was groaning with her head in her hands.

Are the memories of the Sea Dragon’s daughter and Iris getting mixed up?

“Iris, calm down. I’m your friend. I’m…”

I said. But…

“Whoa!”

I couldn’t get through to Iris right now.

“… Oh no. I am scared. Humans… scary…”

I guess my words didn’t reach her because of the old memories raging inside of her.

Then…

“Cecil? Can you hear me?”

I called Cecil in my head.

“Is [Mind Linkage] still working?

“…Yes, Nagi. I can hear you. Are you okay?”

“The Sea Dragon showed up on time, but there’s a bit of a problem.”

Okay, I’m through.

Even in a space filled with the magical power of a Sea Dragon, [Mind Linkage] is effective.

Well, I’ll see what I can do.

“Now, I’m going to calm Iris down, so I’m going to cut my skills. I’ll see you later.”

“Oh, hey… Nagi. ────”

Release [Mind Linkage LV 1].

I turn to face Iris.

“Iris.”

“──────!”

A frightened Iris backed away. It was as if she were a child.

How do I remove the prejudice against Iris from her family and the old people of this world?

It’s just cool to have Dragon blood in your veins. If it were a game, you’d be the main character.

“────────! No … I’m sorry. I’ll go back to my father. I don’t think …… I want to be one of you humans.  Don’t call me a monster. Please, tell me your name. … Please.”

Iris tried to run further – and stopped.

She finally noticed the wall behind her and stopped. There’s no escape now.

Iris was looking at me with tears streaming down her face and her eyes wide open.

“I’m sorry I scared you. I’ll have you back on your feet in no time.”

I cornered Iris against the wall.

The wall and my torso sandwiched her small, shrunken body.

Iris’s little head touched my chest.

I put my hand against the wall… and activate my skill!

“Activate! [Heart Healing Hug LV1]”

It’s a skill I created the day before last, along with Rita’s [Binding Song LV1].

I never thought I’d use it for something like this.

[Heart Healing Hug LV1] (UR Ultra Rare)

(The skill of “moving” people’s “heart” with your “body.”)

Removes the target’s “Sleep”, “Charm”, “Stun”, and “Confusion” effects.

In addition, because of the cardiac massage effect, the person to whom the skill is used will have a faster heartbeat and increased body temperature for a certain period of time. In addition, it will force the owner of the skill to focus their consciousness on the owner of the skill.

The condition for activation is that the opponent’s head must touch your torso. The quickest way is to hug them.

Originally a reworking of the “Large Serpent” skill, the effect is quadrupled when you make your opponent’s head touch your torso without using your limbs.

In other words, this skill shows its true value in a close “Kabe-don” situation! (TN: Most of you probably know but still, Kabedon refers to Wall-slap, mostly used in confessions.)

With a thump, a vibration went through Iris’ body.

Her small body jumped. Her cheeks, which were bright blue, regained their bloodiness.

Iris, who had closed her eyes tightly, looked up. She looked at me.

“…Souma…”

“Iris, are you okay?”

“… Oh, yes …what… I can see why you had … But … ah. This, this memory is …?

Iris was still frightened.

It’s not like the memory of the Sea Dragon’s daughter is gone. She also has her own trauma to deal with.

It’s good that she’s regained consciousness, but she’s still shaking.

If I don’t do anything, she’s going to be swallowed up by memories again.

“Okay, Iris. I’m sorry, but can I kiss you?”

I said.

Iris looked up at me and opened her mouth with a pout.

Then she turned red…

“…What? Souma? Big brother? Here?  What? Why?”

“Because I have to.”

“I need … yeah, yeah.”

“I want you to answer while you’re still conscious. Can I do that? No?”

“What are you talking about? Souma—Big Brother!”

(TN: I don’t like her stubbornness to be a bro-con.)

Iris raised her eyebrows and replied in a slightly angry tone.

“Of course it’s good, isn’t it? I am already your…”

When he got the okay, he got down on his knees – and put his face close to Iris’.

And activate… [Mind Linkage LV1]!

I was invading Iris’s will, peering into the memories of the Sea Dragon’s daughter…

“Father. I’ve fallen in love with someone.”

“He is … one of the people who honor the Sea Dragons.”

“He said I was beautiful in my Dragon form.”

“I would rather take human form and live among humans than live forever as something close to God…”

This is the memory of the daughter of a Sea Dragon…

“She’s a monster disguised as a human! Kill her ────!”

“It’s the same as the Demon tribe. This magic is a threat to us all.”

“Put her in chains! Make a “Contract” and use her against the Demons!”

This is the memory of a Sea Dragon’s daughter who was attacked by humans…

“It’s creepy, even if I knew it was coming. To think that something like this could come from my own blood.”

“Iris’s mother is dead? What does it matter? The blood of the Shrine Maiden was passed on to Iris, wasn’t it?”

“I’ll take you back to your family, but I won’t allow you to go out freely.”

“Excellent? What does it matter? She only needs to be the Shrine Maiden at the festival.”

“Well, if you want to work, I’ll let you.”

“Visiting your mother’s grave? I don’t blame you. It’s a special occasion. What’s the matter, why don’t you bow to your father? I’ve made some concessions for your sake. Do you really think you’re equal to your brother and sister, …?

This is the memory of Iris, which came out in response to the memory of the Sea Dragon’s daughter.

It was not just words, but images.

Is this what goes around her head daily?

Iris had her arms around my back and was clinging desperately to me.

I can feel the thought that if I let go of her, she will break into pieces.

Words won’t be enough. They won’t stop Iris’s fear.

As I recall, the first “Sea Dragon Hero” saved the heart of the Sea Dragon’s daughter because of his feelings for her.

If that’s the case, I will do the same thing with my skills.

I pour my thoughts into Iris. I’ll turn Iris’ attention from her memories to me. That’s faster. It doesn’t matter what it is. I’ll send a massive amount of data to stop the virus called “Memory of the Sea Dragon’s Daughter” from filling Iris’ mind.

“Iris…”

What can I say? Something that will make a quick impact, something that will grab Iris’s attention. …Something that will make Iris’s heart flutter…”

“My beautiful slave, Iris Hoffimier

Your body is mine, every single strand of your hair to your fingernails.

Therefore, you don’t need to listen to anyone but me.

“…”

“Your green hair, yellow eyes, white skin, beautiful scales, smooth back, breasts that I could faintly see swelling, straight legs, thin fingertips, belly, all of it. I’ll never forget the Iris of today and the Iris that will grow in the future.”

“Iris will be mine forever.”

“────── Big brother… Master…”

Iris’s consciousness turned towards me.

“You are my slave now. You can stay by my side, I’m actually a visitor, I’m new to this world, I need help, I need Iris’s knowledge, she’s a good girl, she’s loyal, so let’s stay together. I want to save you from a black environment, and I want you to be there for me, because we’re all like a family.”

I poured images into Iris as they came to my mind.

I concentrate on reading Iris’ thoughts.

The memories of the Sea Dragon’s Daughter and Iris’s past were still there, but Iris’s consciousness was responding to the messages sent by the [Mind Linkage].

Her face, which had just regained its bloodiness, turned bright red. Her body was on fire. Her body that was clinging to me was heating up. Iris’s breath hit my chest. She was reacting.

We’re almost there.

… Oh, and by the way, Iris was avoided by her family in the first place because of her Dragon blood.

But the “Dragon bloodline” is still just cool to me.

I’ll make sure Iris knows that. That’s what I’m thinking.

For example…

‘Iris should be more confident.

If she were to appear in a game, or rather a story, Iris would play a supporting role behind the scenes. She secretly supports the protagonist and gives him important hints. She is a slightly younger neighbor with a lot of curiosity. She always supports the protagonist with her unconventional ideas and schemes.

At first, I thought she was a girl in a different position, but before I knew it, she became an important friend. She will eventually awaken to Dragon blood at a critical moment and fight side by side. She has wisdom and the courage to try to change her position. She’s got a lot of imagination, and before she knows it, she will make it a reality. She is a dreamy girl.”

She’s a little devil who uses her tiny body to play tricks on you, and her loveliness can make a tired Hero feel better… Wait a minute, Iris. You don’t have to come up with a specific fantasy! It’s being transmitted to me now! I mean, you can’t show that in the game! You’ll get caught in all kinds of code!

Before I knew it, I was sending images of the game, and Iris was sending images of her own fantasies to my head.

I knew she was smart, but Iris, but you’re too quick to figure out how to use your skills!

And the fantasy is too detailed. While mine is a vague image, Iris’s image is a 4K image with too many details. And it’s a version that can’t be displayed in the all-ages version. This is just a fantasy, right? But what the hell is Iris doing while having this kind of fantasy?

“… Big brother … my … Soul Brother…”

But before long, Iris’s thoughts was so occupied with this that she was no longer aware of the memory of the Sea Dragon’s daughter or her own trauma. The memories of the past were just spinning in Iris’ mind.

“Listen carefully, Iris. What I’m trying to say is…”

Now for the finishing touch.

I put my hand on Iris’s shoulder.

“It means that I want Iris to stay with me as one of my friends.”

“”…Yes! Big brother!””

With words and with thoughts, Iris answered clearly.

Thoughts flowed in again from Iris.

“Have you talked with Lady Cecile and the others?” “Can I stay with you?” “Can I move in with you after I finish my duties?” “Will you wait for things to be ready for me?”

The answers were “… N comment,” “Yes,” “Yes,” and “Yes” – well, the last one could mean a lot of things, so I’ll “hold off”!

“Lord Souma… my Soul Brother.”

Iris pressed her little head against my chest.

“I swear that Iris Hoffimier’s loyalty and love will not waver until the time when this body and soul are gone.”

The Central dome shone with light.

“The re-enactment has been completed.”

I heard the voice of the Sea Dragon Kerukatoru.

I take another look inside Iris. The memory of the Sea Dragon’s Daughter was completely gone.

The ‘Trial of the Sea Dragon’ is over.

“I, the Sea Dragon Kerukatoru make a ‘Contract’. As long as the Shrine Maiden and the Hero are alive, I shall serve as the Guardian Deity of Irgafa. There is no need for any more festivals for this generation…”

With that, the Sea Dragon Kerukatoru extended his long clawed arm.

With a crunch, he scratched at the door leading to the dungeon. The ground shook from the impact, and another wave of water fell from above us. When the Sea Dragon returned his arm, there was a sentence written on the door in a language we could understand.

“The Sea Dragon Kerukatoru wrote:

From now on, there will be no need to hold festivals through Shrine Maidens. The blessings are guaranteed for 100 years.

If the Shrine Maiden does not produce any offspring, the Lord shall take over the festival.”

Kerukatoru nodded in satisfaction.

“Are you sure?”

“In the first place, the festival is to make sure my bloodline is safe. There is no need for it when I know that there is someone I can trust by my side to protect my bloodline.”

So that’s what the “Sea Dragon’s Trial” was for.

“I will come to this town even if there is no festival, and you can show your face sometime then, my bloodline daughter”

“You’re a surprisingly nice guy, Sea Dragon Kerukatoru.”

“I have lived for a long time. I need this kind of fun.”

“Do you ever get involved with humans or anything?”

“If I don’t get involved, how will I know for sure who I am?”

“I guess that’s the way it is.”

“The Shrine Maiden and thou have confirmed each other’s existence because of each other, have they not?”

“I don’t know about that, but…”

“You seem to be a very contradictory being.”

“It’s not that big of a deal, I’m not.”

“…It gives me something to look forward to.”

Rororororororororororororororororororororororor

The wind began to rumble.

“This ritual was quite a pleasant surprise. Now it’s time to leave.”

The light on the central dome was fading.

The blue-scaled Dragon put its face close to Iris’ and made a gesture as if to smell her.

“You have my daughter’s blood in you. Take care. My bloodline.”

“Thank you, Sea Dragon Kerukatoru.”

Iris hesitantly touched the tip of the Sea Dragon’s nose.

The Sea Dragon narrowed its eyes and then looked at me.

“I recognize you as my kinsman. I want you to make her happy.”

“May I ask you a question?”

“Hmm…”

“Can’t you use your power to defeat the Demon Lord?

I’ve been thinking.

If the Sea Dragons are close to Gods, then they can at least fight the Demon Lord on equal terms.

With the Demon King gone, the King would have no reason to summon visitors. All sorts of problems should be solved.

“It is not … but he is from a different realm.”

I don’t know why, but the Sea Dragon Kerukatoru looked a little lost.

The Sea Dragon then shakes its head and slowly submerges into the water.

“Stay out of it. You are of my blood. Those of my blood, those who have become my kinsmen, this is a different realm.”

Another realm?

After saying that, the Sea Dragon Kerukatoru disappeared into the water.

Before I knew it, the light on the ceiling was gone, and all I could see was a vague pale glow.

“Lord Souma.”

Iris, who had been clinging to me, looked up.

“You’ll take responsibility, won’t you?”

“Responsibility?”

“You are responsible for making me happy.”

Then Iris closed her eyes happily.

“… I will do my best.”

Then she grabbed my hand.

“So please wait until Iris is ready. Master …Soul Brother.”

She stroked the scaled choker that adorned her slender neck and laughed, with an innocent look on her face that I had never seen before.

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