ONLY SPOKEN OF IN MYTHS
Lino was currently trekking the massive, steep mountain side on his quest to move inland. While his speed definitely increased after stuffing Hannah and Seya into the pocket, there was still a limit on how fast he could walk using merely his body, all the while being impeded by knee-deep snow. And though he didn’t mind the fact, he still felt somewhat frustrated; there was little to do, so he often tried to chat with the girls who simply ignored him.
He grew so desperate that he even tried to coax Ataxia into chatting with him, but the latter, as always, remained daftly silent. It was rather lonely, Lino sighed inwardly; to appease himself, he mused that such was the fate of a hero -- to forever weave through the world in loneliness that others couldn’t possibly understand. Naturally, those thoughts never breached past his mind as he was certain Hannah would never let him live them down.
Excitement came, however. Perhaps not exactly to Lino’s taste or timing, but it certainly arrived the moment he reached the mountaintop. Walking up onto an strangely open clearing, fenced off with ice wall all around, Lino raised his eyes from the floor up and immediately came to a halt. Just a few inches in front of him, he saw something strange... he could swear it was a maw of a massive creature.
It feathered out into brisk, frozen threads which further blended into scales running up and down, surrounding two dents where a pair of cyan-colored eyes welcomed him. Indeed, Lino nodded, it was a creature.
“THE HOLY FUCK!!!” Lino cried out as he suddenly shifted on his heel and tried to run away, only to find the only exit suddenly blocked by the creature’s massive claw. Shuddering, he put on his best smile as he turned around. “Divine god of everything, creator of life and death, how do you do? I am your humble servant, here to pay my respects and immediately leave so I don’t disturb you too much!”
“...” the creature remained silent, continuing to stare at Lino who grew more and more depressed as minutes ticked by. “I’m lonely...” a rather child-like voice replied at last, resonating directly inside Lino’s mind. The latter’s brows twitched as he thought, fuck, am I going to become his toy?! There were very few things in the world that could drive Lino into terror, but meeting the fabled Dragon Race for the first time certainly was one of them.
That’s right; the massive sprawl in front of him was indeed the revered Dragon. Lino quickly calculated that it was nearly a whole mile long, covered in porcelain-white scales and a pair of scrounged wings as it lay down on the floor. Even if he was allowed to use Qi, Lino would still flee in terror. After all, he was able to briefly catch a glimpse of the Dragon’s stats.
[Ennya -- Fledgling Dragon Aspect of Frost -- Level 26,433...]
The rest were question marks, but he didn’t need to see past that. Fighting folk thousands of levels ahead of him -- that he could still rationalize and explain... fighting a creature over 25,000 levels ahead of him -- and a Dragon no less... that was something only idiots thought was possible in any realm of reality. However, seeing as the creature didn’t kill him on the spot, Lino immediately began turning gears inside his head, thinking of the plan.
“Please, o’ thee mighty Dragon, do not kill me!” he got on his knees as two figures suddenly appeared by his sides, shaking in their boots. “I am with my wife and daughter; ah, we have just reunited after Fate drove us apart for ten--khm, hundreds of years! I could not bear to see them go!”
“......” both Hannah and Seya stared at the kneeling bastard in front of them with hatred that could not be expressed in words; he could have, after all, chosen to simply keep them inside the pocket where they would have been safe. Instead, he chose to drag them into this mess as well.
“... I am lonely...” the Dragon simply repeated its last words, in the same, childlike voice.
“Lonely? Ah, who is not lonely in this world?!” Lino immediately got up. You!! You just said it!! Hannah and Seya cried out inwardly. “I understand, o’ great Dragon! I understand loneliness!! To drift in snow, to let loose all those thoughts inside your head.... aah, is there anything more painful in this world?! Speak, o’ magnificent One! What pains you the most?!”
“...” although Hannah knew Lino had glib tongue, she was wholly unaware of just how big of a kiss-ass he could become at a moment’s notice. She couldn’t determine whether she was impressed or depressed because of it, just yet.
“I am Ennya.” the Dragon said somewhat meekly.
“I am Lino, o’ wonderful Ennya,” Lino exclaimed, taking a step closer to the Dragon much to Hannah’s and Seya’s horror. “Talk to the lowly me. What pains you? Ah, I will understand!”
“... I don’t have friends. Or anyone to talk to.” the Dragon said; by now, Lino had come to realize a simple fact -- the Dragon was either the biggest actor in the world, one that could match him... or a kid. He decided to brave his heart and bank on the latter being the case.
“Ah, how can you say so?! Don’t you have us!” Lino said as he suddenly climbed the Dragon’s nose and walked up to its eyes, suddenly sitting down and smiling. “We’re here. Talk to us! Whatever you want!”
“...” as Seya cowered in horror, Hannah cowered for another reason entirely, afraid certain place might suddenly freeze over, she shuddered, a faint blush passing over her cheeks.
“He he, that tickled...” Yup, definitely a kid! Lino’s smile turned into an evil grin for a moment. However, a mere second later, he felt a pinch on his ear as he cried out, glancing back only to see Hannah glaring at him. I let her see too much of me!!
“Ennya... was it? What are you doing here?” Hannah asked, seemingly having recovered from the initial shock as she sat down next to Lino. The latter wagered she wouldn’t have as much courage if he told her what Level the Dragon was, but decided against it.
“Guarding!” the Dragon exclaimed with pride.
“... guarding?” both Lino and Hannah exclaimed softly. “Guarding... what?” Lino asked further, looking around. Snow? Ice?
“Eeh... what... what was it...” the Dragon, clearly flustered, mumbled, as both Hannah and Lino nearly toppled over and fell. “Something crystal something... aah... Mother told me to remember carefully!” M-mother? Lino’s brows twitched. If this kid was Level 25,000... aii, let’s not think about it... “What are you two doing here?” the Dragon quizzed. “Mother told me that Writ Bearers haven’t stepped foot on these lands in a long time...”
“.... y-you know?” Lino mumbled meekly.
“Uhm!” the Dragon said, blinking innocently. “You both stink. Really badly. If I wasn’t lonely, I would have frozen you just to clean you up!”
“I-is that so?” Lino stuttered, clearly having not expected to be made out so quickly. “Will you tell anyone?”
“Nope!” the Dragon said. “Ah, but if Mother asks... I...”
“... where’s your Mother?” Lino quizzed, wondering.
“She’s at the center here,” the Dragon replied happily. “She’s helping those poor people with something.”
“...” Jackpot! Both Hannah and Lino exclaimed inwardly as they glanced at each other.
“Are they far away? We would also like to help.” Hannah chimed in with a smile.
“Eeeh? What could you two do?” the Dragon looked at the two rather oddly. “If even Mother is having trouble...”
“Eh? Don’t you know?” Lino chimed in as he realized Hannah was at a loss for words. “We can cheer them on! Half the battle is in the morale! If we can increase their morale, we doub--trip--no we increase their chances of success by a hundredfold!”
“.... really?” the Dragon still seemed rather unconvinced, causing Lino to suddenly take out something from the void world.
“I’ll give you this.”
“They’re really far away but I can take you there quickly!!” the Dragon suddenly exclaimed as it eyed the item Lino held. Hannah shifted her gaze sideways to see what could suddenly entice a creature like Dragon, only to see an ordinary piece of uncooked meat. What the fuck?! she cursed inwardly.
“Ha ha ha, good, good,” Lino said as he threw the chunk of meat back; the Dragon suddenly heaved its maw open and extended the tongue, wrapping the chunk of meat and devouring it whole. “How’s it taste?”
“... aah, like heaven...” the Dragon replied, closing its eyes in satisfaction.
“He he, I’ve got a whole lot more of where that came from,” Lino chuckled, as he glanced toward the Dragon’s back, seemingly itching for something. “So, you said you could take us there?”
“Ah--b-but... M-mother told me... t-to stay here...” it was clear that the poor Dragon was terrified of its mother, but Lino couldn’t care less at the moment -- there was something monumental, legendary, only-spoken-of-in-myths in front of him... and he wasn’t about to let it slip out of his hands.
“Don’t worry! When we increase their morale, not only will I give you more meat, your Mother will certainly praise you!”
“R-really?” Hannah felt terrible as she saw old, creepy uncle taking advantage of a clearly innocent kid, yet she had no heart to reel him in; she saw that mad passion in his eyes... and she would lie if she said she wasn’t imagining exactly what he was.
“Of course! I would never lie! Ask her! I have never once in my life told a lie!”
“...” however much she hated being dragged into his lies, Hannah was helpless. Integrity really was a fickle thing, she realized... “He’s... telling the truth...” she grit her teeth and said.
“A-alright!” the Dragon said. “I’ll trust you! Get on my back and hold tight!” Lino barely held himself from screaming out in delirious joy. After all... how many souls -- living or dead -- could claim to have ever ridden a Dragon? He would be! F-fuck, I can’t use tools to record it... shit, nobody’s gonna believe me. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Despite everything, he still ached over knowing he would never be able to show off properly...