Chapter 85. Five Breaths of the Red Dragon (1)
“My Lady. Where have you been?”
“Well, I just needed to take care of something.”
It was the princess Hailey, who has returned to the palace. The servant girls designated to the princess asked.
“We were surprised because you were so late!”
“Not worried, but surprised?”
“As far as worrying was concerned…. a little?”
There were times in the past, at which time the princess went out to see the city without the palace people knowing, but it was the first time that the princess has returned so late. Of course, no one was worried. The servant girls that were close to the princess are like good old friends, and they also knew that the princess was a sorcerer as well.
“Sena, Aria, Catherine.”
The servant girls appeared surprised by the sudden calling out of their names. The princess had often called them by their names, but there seemed to be an extra weight in her tone of voice, this time around.
“What- about what, my lady?”
It was accompanied by an apology out of the blue. Has something really happened? There were looks of concern in the eyes of the servant girls.
“I mean, there is no need to look at me that way. I just wanted to apologize to you all. You always got swept up into things because of me, right? And become worried about the watchful eyes of the Ivory Tower.”
The princess has never been comfortable even for a day since she had made a childish decision to hide the fact that she was a sorcerer. It wasn’t because of her own safety that she was concerned. Rather, it was for the safeties of her close acquaintances like the servant girls that are with her, right now. Her act of obliging to Ian’s request today was also for the same reason.
“I’m sorry. To you all. Sincerely.”
She had been so surprised by Ian’s sudden visit, a short time ago. On top of that, he even asked her for help. It was the same Ian, who coldheartedly told her that the palace does not need a princess, and gave her liberating advice by telling her to live by doing what she wants to do. It was that Ian, who was asking for help. From her perspective, it was a trade. Responding to a favor, being asked, was also a condition of obliging act in the future. It wasn’t very difficult to do, either.
‘She had thought about making the request, again…..’
Since an opportunity came, she thought about making a request. To have him forgive the trespasses of those countless number of people that helped hide the fact that she was a sorcerer, but, she had changed her mind. She was cautious to approach Ian as he had shown resolve and unshakable conviction during the audit of black magic. So instead, she had asked him to become her teacher.
‘It will be safer to make him a co-conspirator.’
Ian would become a teacher and teach sorcery illegally, hence becoming a co-conspirator. That was the decision the princess had made as a safety net. She also wanted to learn magic from Ian at the same time. A desire to become a stronger sorcerer, then to rise to the more powerful position, has sprung up. Of course, it wasn’t just for the fame and honor for herself.
‘For the things that I’ve done.’
After the day that she had received Ian’s advice, Hailey had even lost sleep over the thoughts of what to do. Should I really go out to the world? Or forget everything and live happily as a princess? No, what she had to do was already decided.
‘I must be accountable. No matter what.’
Even if Ian was to turn a blind eye, will she be able to hide it throughout all her life? The chances of being discovered were always there. Was that all? At the moment of being discovered, it wouldn’t be her that would be harmed. All those that had helped her keep the secret would be the target of being harmed.
‘But, if I was to rise to the high level sorcerer… or if I was to rise beyond that level by some chance…..’
Wouldn’t it be possible by my own accord? To make those that have obliged to the petulant princess’ request innocent, having only committed the sin of being unable to reject a request from a member of the royal family.
‘All that is needed was to achieve one more level. Only one more level.’
That was the reason for opting to become Ian’s apprentice. That was the reason for continuing the life of a sorcerer. It was the decision made to be accountable. For those innocent people that had helped her.
“What, what are you sorry for, my lady?”
The servant girls responded as they heard the apology. The expressions were saying it was no big deal at all.
“On the contrary, because everyone kept the shared secret, you’ve been very kind to us? You may not realize, but we’ve been very laid back. Also referred to as the princess’ faction, yes, us.”
The princess’ faction, no way. It was the first time that Hailey has heard of it. Especially, when she has never established a faction.
“Well, you probably didn’t know? Although we may look like just …..”
“We are the real power behind the princess’ palace.”
“The head servant girl cannot disregard us.”
In response to the lively responses from the three servant girls.
“Real, real power…..”
The uninformed princess murmured. In some way, the girls were being rewarded with a kind of compensation for the burden of keep the secret. Although it is not comparable to the weight of the burden, Hailey Greenriver was appreciative, just by them showing such lively expressions.
“By the way, my lady. Please take a look at this.”
Catherine, one of the servant girls, brought out an exquisite looking chest. Even from a quick look, it was covered with colorful ornaments and patterns.
The inside was even more spectacular. Multitudes of jewelry and treasures were lined up.
“This is a gift from the head of the Malone Family.”
“Malone Family? Gift?”
“He is the one with where the talk of the marriage was discussed, this time around.”
One of the real powers of the imperial city. It was Adam Malone, a handsome lad and the head of the ‘Malone Family’. He was also the royal that was strongly linked to the marriage discussions with Hailey.
“Isn’t this pretty? The lord has some good taste.”
“Well, it is probably the choice made by one of their princesses or a servant girl.”
“Ah, is that so? Well, still it is pree-ee-tty.”
As the servant girls were adding their opinions one by one.
“I, I don’t like it that much.”
Hailey said as she closed the chest shut. At least, she didn’t want to even talk or think about a marriage.
‘There is still much to do.’
True, she had a lot of work to do. But then that reasoning didn’t seem to be everything. That is, the reason for feeling uncomfortable with talking about marriage.
‘Why does it keep popping into my head?’
Ian Page, the young tower lord of the Ivory Tower. His rough face and voice came to her thoughts. He is only a tool to protect the people around, not even that handsome compared to the head of the Malone Family, and even 2 years younger than her. But then, why?
‘What, what am I thinking.’
Hailey shook her head wildly. Almost to the point of feeling dizzy.
The reason was simple for Ian to have chosen the princess as a participant in the auction. It was because she was known to be a high ‘princess’ without anything to do. Wouldn’t she be the perfect cover for being able to infiltrate the life style of the nobles, without any invitation, and without raising any suspicion?
‘There were weaknesses too.’
On top of that, Ian even had a hold on her weakness, making her the perfect front for his purpose. Moreover, she was also a 3rd class sorcerer. She should be able to protect herself should there be any trouble.
‘I thought there would be a follow up request.’
If there was one exception, it was the princess’ request. He had expected her to ask for the favor that she had mentioned during the audit for black magic. That she will confess to it, just so that the people around her would be made innocent. However, that wasn’t it. She asked to be accepted as an apprentice. Of course, the underlining scheme was obvious though.
It was more agreeable, and unexpected. The princess’ actions were much better thought out than expected.
He felt her willingness to admit her mistakes, and even sought to be accountable. It was a demonstration of proactive behavior, unlike that of a bird that had died in a cage in her previous life.
(What is it that she wants to do with me?)
It was then. A voice was heard that cut off Ian’s thoughts. It was Evantus, the red dragonian. He has been waiting for a while. The ‘main topic’ that Ian was supposed to speak of.
“Ah, I am sorry. I was just thinking.”
Ian organized his thoughts, conveying his apology first. He placed the thoughts on the princess in the back burner. Instead, he brought out the things that he had to take care of.
“First, there are some questions that I’d like to ask of. The order of the dragons.”
First, all about the order of the dragons.
“Is it true that the order was established by you sir, Evantus?”
Auburn Parker is a highly impactful aristocrat among the nobles of the imperial city. I assume the size of the order would be significant, being able to wield such a noble person as a pawn. Is that right?”
(That also is right)
The responses of Evantus, the dragonian, were brief. Although the replies were influenced by the power of the family, uncooperative attitude has persisted. Unlike the resigned Fairy Queen, and the admissive Spartoi, he did not seem resigning or admissive.
‘How can a mere human be the basis of their power?’
For the fairy queen, it was being resigned. For Spartoi, it was being admissive. And the dragonian is being unaccepting. Their individual characteristics were visible. Well, let them be. Ian didn’t pay much attention. Dragonian replies half-heartedly? All I need to do is just ask specific, detailed questions.
“Very well. I will save my questions regarding the specific organization and size of the order for later, and will ask other questions. What is the specific, ultimate purpose? The end goal of the order, I mean.”
(It is to find them.)
(….. The 90 percent of the world is claimed by you, humans, isn’t it? We just wanted to use you, since your existence is everywhere, to find the traces leading to their whereabouts, that is.)
“That may be the objective of the dragonians, but it wouldn’t be for the nobles like Auburn Parker?”
(Of course, we have sown a number of delusions within the ruling class.)
(Like a puppet emperor that can be manipulated on a dime, a national religion and absolute protection, using the powerful tools and sorcery that I have. I’ve guaranteed the aspects that they desired.)
In simple terms, to be the ‘true power’. The greed of the nobles has been stimulated. Ian had certainly anticipated it. As a result, it was all the more hard to figure out. The order with this much size. The order with a crystal clear objective. Why did they disappear in his previous life?
‘Nothing distinguishable was achieved?’
It is time to find out the truth. But he couldn’t ask outright. The only way was to compare the differences between present times against the past life.
“When did you first start the order?”
(It has been since many tens of life times over for you, but it has not been very long since operating by stimulating the petty greed of your human kind.)
“Any reason for having started the operation in earnest?”
(A purpose was found.)
Evantus, the dragonian, looked upon his children.
(My children must be granted the time from them. That’s the only way to enjoy the lifespan that they were born with. I’ve received it a long time ago, but my children weren’t able to.)
It was said that the descendants of Evantus were born after the disappearance of the dragons. It was probably impossible to receive the ‘permission of time’ even if they wanted to.
(We, the dragonians, are their bloodline, however at the same time, we are also illegitimate. It was the indication that we are the mixed offspring with a low race. If they did not want us, we are to be erased at any time. That is who my race, descendants, and I, are.)
Evantus’ response has become lengthy. It was different from up to this point. There was even an aura of tremendous grief.
(My children, not much remaining.)
The statement that not much is remaining. It probably refers to lifespan. The lifespan of two descendants.
“Exactly, how long do they have?”
(Most likely, under one hundred years.)
A short remaining lifetime is one hundred years. It was something that Ian could never sympathize with.
(Only less than one hundred years remain…..)
(That is….. Truly….. A problem…..)
The responses of the fairy queen and Spartoi were different. They were filled with empathy.
For some, living two lifetimes won’t even come to one hundred years. Ian felt both joy and grief for belonging to a race with short lifespan.
(I must find them, just for the reason of my children receiving time. The order is a tool to find them, no more, no less.)
When he heard that far Ian could assume the reason for the order having remained under ground.
“What if you were to find the dragons and achieve your goal, that is, if your children’s time gets extended by being granted the permission of time?”
He also wanted to verify. Through Evantus’ reply.
“What will happen to the order?”
(It is of no concern to me.)
It was a very clear and irresponsible reply. But that was out of true sincerity. And it appeared to be the truth.
‘The dragonian in the previous life had achieved his purpose.’
Then everything becomes natural. The order of the dragon would be disregarded, and the order would naturally collapse as its focus disappeared. It was the most likely assumption at this point.
The situation has been understood somewhat. As well as what the identity of the Order of the Dragons was. And even the purpose and what its future would hold. What remains now was disposal of…
Ian spoke after finishing his thoughts. The counterpart was Evantus, the dragonian.
Evantus asked as if it was unexpected. Isn’t Ian Page, the human sorcerer, known as the hero, as the tower lord of the Ivory Tower of the Greenriver Empire? He thought he had wanted the order to break up, or that he would dismantle it himself. It was because they were an irreverent power from the empire’s perspective. Why then advise it to continue to grow?
“That’s right. Continue.”
(Not disperse, but grow it?)
“Yes. Also continue the work to find the dragon as well.”
Ian’s calculation was quick. Ultimately, Evantus is the owner. He is the entity that the power of the family will reach. What does this imply?
‘In fact, he is now like being in the palm of my hand.’
The Order of the Dragons, the power it wields is much greater than Ian had thought. The order is what will come into the palm of Ian’s hand. Why would he disperse such a power that can be so useful?
‘The royal family, Ivory Tower, aristocrats of the imperial city.’
The three points of power that make up the capitol. That’s what he would be able to control. The crowned price as the pivot for the royal family. For the Ivory Tower, by wielding the powers as the tower lord. The order of the dragons for the aristocrats of the imperial city.
‘Every useless diversion and scheme would be contained.’
At least, Greenriverdium, the capitol can be made a completely safe area. The most perfect, safe area for Ian and his family, that is.
He had ended the conversation on the subject of the order. There will be more questions going forward, but he had decided to move on. There was still the real purpose.
(Do you have more things to discuss?)
“Not really a discussion.”
Ian took out a small bottle of herbs from a pocket. The bottle was encapsulated with multiple layers of shield magic so it was harder than many types of stones.
“This is it. The reason for searching for you, Evantus.”
(What is that?)
“This is Elixir.”
“It hasn’t been made whole yet.”
Ian set the bottle down on the forest ground. Then he continued.
“By any chance, is breath a possibility?”
(It is one of the powers that were given to me.)
“I wish you would use the breath on this bottle.”
(….. The breath?)
Evantus looked back and forth at the bottle and Ian. Then he chanted as if something had come to his mind.
“Do you know something?”
In fact, Ian had expected it somewhat. Think about it. Elixir requires the breath of the dragonian. How can he not know the identity of the Elixir.
(….. I do not know well either. However, I recall them, making such requests at times. They asked to heat up by breathing to the bowl, containing some liquid. The reason was that the liquid could not sustain the breath of the dragons.)
Does it mean that it is the Elixir that even the dragons have drunk? Ian’s heart pounded little by little. It is not likely to be an ordinary Elixir.
“Please do exactly the same as you had done before. I’ll help you if this can be made whole as requested.”
(Help with what?)
“Finding the dragon.”
(….. Are you sincere?)
“Yes, I am.”
Ian’s voice and his sparkling eyes weren’t shaking. Although it was an untrustworthy human, based on the power of the family, refusal was also impossible.
(I see. I will trust you, for now.)
At the same time, dark, crimson sparks of fire came out of Evantus’ throat, from deep down. The breath did not cause fire on the surface or on the weeds that were around the target. It only heated up the bottle that contained Elixir. The spark itself will move according to the will of Evantus, so if he ordered it to not cause fire, then it will not. If it was ordered to never die out, it will not. That is what the ‘dragon’s breath’ was all about.
(This should be sufficiently heated, by now.)
Evantus halted the sparks as he had remembered in the past, and his feeling was accurate. The bottle that had pink liquid now showed red flaming color. Not the outside surface, but from within the liquid itself.
‘The five breaths of the dragon.’
Ian picked up the Elixir that has been just made whole. Although it has been heated with the breath, it was not hot.
As the specially designed cap was opened, there came out a strong smell from inside. The smell of magical power that cannot be rejected by anyone with mana heart and mana brain, that even the family would get startled?
‘Let me drink it.’
It was impossible to control him-self. Ian’s own reasoning, instinct and knowledge, they were all saying the same. Drink this flaming liquid. There will never be regret.
Ian took the Elixir that was in the small bottle. He brought the five breaths of the dragon to his mouth. Then he immediately swallowed it down his throat. The strange liquid that was burning in fire. Then…
The flare of fire has engulfed Ian. It wasn’t a simple figure of speech. With the powerful, rising flare of fire, Ian’s body has vanished.
Re-edited by FlawFinder