<“I see, I see, so this is how their ‘tragic dungeon accident’ will go into play, huh?”>
“Yes. With what information you have given me about this ‘Jinma Kotori,’ while I cannot believe some of the details myself, it would be difficult to neglect how the Immortals rate us under our Innate Status Rankings. With his ‘harem’ also taken into account, we must take necessary measures to bring him, his party, and Noire to their downfall. Being able to use Devil Eyes is also a concerning matter that needs to be taken into consideration.”
<“Yes, though I have not seen him use it myself, we all know how dangerous one can be when using that skill, and that is just from one of the Devils. I can’t imagine what would happen if that kind of power is in a human’s hands. So, when will our ‘helpers’ be going to the dungeon?”>
“I will be transporting them to the city tonight and they will go about preparing themselves for the plan. Their fates will be sealed the moment they step inside the dungeon the day after tomorrow. You will inform me as soon as you receive word of it, Konjiro.”
<“Of course, Milord. Shall I give you any further details on them as we go over the quest tomorrow?”>
“Yes. Tell me about them as soon as you can afterward.”
<“Got it. Also, if I may ask, what will you do with Tyvera and Gabriella?”>
“I had kept my expectations of them low from the start and yet they still utterly failed their duties. The duke has no need for weak demons and I have been given permission to do with them as I please. It is also safer to have fewer people in the know of what is going on, anyway. They will be disposed of along with the others in that ‘accident.’”
<“Fair enough, Milord. You have a good evening.”>
“… I assume you all have paid attention to that as well, yes?”
“Hehehe. A human with Devil Eyes, huh~? I can’t wait to see how much he bruises when I beat him to a pulp. Skill or not, humans are common playthings for us no matter how high their defenses may be. Oh, and it’s about time I paddle around with my little bro since he’s in the area, too. Maybe he can help me out on this if I ‘persuade’ him enough.”
“Not if I cross him first. It’s about time I get my filling of a good meal from a virile human. He’ll literally die for the sake of sating my hunger once he gets a taste of what I can give that none of his mates ever could.”
“I’m more interested in his so-called ‘wife.’ I don’t know what she sees in him but it’s about time she gets the attention she deserves from one of her own kin. May I keep her if I convince her enough, Milord?”
“… If you can keep her from seeing the light of day again to not let out a peep of what will happen, I do not care if you break her mind to do it; otherwise, eliminate her if she resists.”
“I will see to it that it won’t happen. She will receive as much care and respect as my other mates do. My comrades will settle for whatever that comes their way, Lizardman or not.”
“You will be given the necessary items, including a Transportation Crystal to get you all to Palocaesy in an instant and reconvene with Cyec before filling her in on the plan. Make sure you’re all fully prepared before your departure. I expect whatever happens in the dungeon will stay in there, and failure is not an option.”
After I calmed down a little bit, we did a few quick experiments involving more fliers of the Demon King’s decree. Whether it was Ume or some other demon passersby she asked to apply magic into the fliers (I asked a few myself first but they were a little put off and didn’t bother with me), they didn’t respond, yet they did with the same message, ‘I have finally found you,’ in Japanese when I applied my own. I have yet to find any more humans to ask to do the same in Palocaesy other than Kisaki and Julius, who I will ask to do the next time I see them.
What I had come across so far brought about a very scary theory. The Demon King wouldn’t suddenly make a grand announcement of closing the Champion Search after at least 4 years from its opening without some good reason other than she suddenly felt like it was not worth continuing any further. What if the Champion Search was made not just to find Champions, but only 1 in particular? Who that particular Champion is, I’m not sure if she knows, but clearly, they would have to be Japanese or be fluent in our language while being able to get the same reaction of applying their magic in the flier like I did.
In the case of if she does know who I am, why didn’t she make the order of ‘find the Champion, Jinma Kotori’? Well, if a member of royalty was making an order to search a particular person, how would that person react? I could of think of a few responses like these:
- “Someone in the royal family is looking for me?! Hot dang, I gotta get to the kingdom right now!”
- “Someone in the royal family is looking for me? Crap, what did I do? I’m innocent, but I should keep low and wait until it all passes over.”
- “Someone in the royal family is looking for me? No, could it be another person with the same name? Maybe I should look into this.”
If the Demon King somehow knows my name, she thought of this enough to avoid the second scenario happening. If there isn’t even a description of my profile or some pictures for reference, then the third scenario would be more likely for the targeted person to fall into. Then there are the strange cases of humans, Champions or not, who may approach her with my name and bullshit their way through for various reasons. Even if they did attempt to try it and are able to pull off reading Japanese, the Demon King might have a method similar to how the decree reacted from my magic to prove that person is the one she’s looking for. Going through the fakes like that would probably be a bigger hassle than it’s worth though, and it could raise even more questions to the general public if they caught word on her methods.
That’s why the Demon King made the vague order of ‘bring me Champions’ while promising a reward, getting many of her subjects involved with the search, upping the chances of having me be brought to her, but that can’t be enough if she was willing for this to go on for 4 years. Maybe she enlisted a secret service to survey the main cities of the Demon-Kin’s Territory for any news and signs of activity involving Champions, even potentials if they stand out enough.
And what have I been doing in the last few days? I made the biggest influence of stopping the raid the White Rapture caused on Dondegarm, showed myself fighting monsters on Eeriegreen Forest in a way that Tyvera and Lady Krauss noticed, and I defeated Eugus, the guild master for Dondegarm’s adventurer’s guild, in a duel that attracted many bystanders that could fly over that stadium’s wall and see the action themselves.
Even if it’s so far away from the kingdom that’s nestled in Korangar, there had to be at least some word that spread far enough to catch at least one of the secret service’s attention. It might have even reached the Demon King’s own ears.
However the Demon King came to the conclusion so quickly, she found the Champion she had been looking for; she had no further need for the Champion Search, and so that decree today not only served as a notice to everyone in the Demon-Kin’s Territory of its closing, it was a way to send a message directly to me.
The Demon King knows I’m in her territory and however she’s doing it, she’s watching my every move through the eyes of her secret service or some other force. Why she was looking for me, how much she knows of me, why she hasn’t sent anyone to pick me up, and what she wants from me are only a handful of questions that leave me in the unknown.
Normally, I’d investigate something like this myself almost immediately, but now I have my party, my new family, that I have to make sure to keep safe. I’m not trying to doubt their strength and skills (especially Ume’s, being a Dragon), but the fact that the Demon King, the strongest person of the Demon-Kin, could issue an order of apprehending them, maybe even eliminate them, at any time if I offend her in any way or don’t comply with her demands is what’s terrifying me the most.
After our quick experiments were done, we stuck around in that alleyway as I explained my thoughts and concerns to Ume and Nyra, frequently checking my Insightful Mapping and Detection skills to make sure there was no one else listening in on this. Both of them were silent, taking in my every word without interruption.
“I see … even if the evidence we have right now is circumstantial, that would make the Demon King’s actions so far seem sound,” Ume says after I finished my explanation. She then furrowed her brow in slight annoyance while crossing her arms. “Though I have to admit, Jin, I’m a little hurt in you thinking I’m weak enough to get taken down without a fight. The same goes for the others. Do you have that little faith in us? Are you saying you’re not strong enough to fight for us, either?”
“No, and at this point, I will remove anyone who would try to harm you guys. I wouldn’t stop fighting enough to make sure all of us would come out alive, it’s just …” I trail off as I look down with trembling fists. “All of this is just happening so fast and I lost so much before I came here. Lost them because I wasn’t there or I didn’t try hard enough to hold them close. I’m afraid of losing all of you and I just … I just don’t want to experience all of that again.”
“… Come here, Jin.”
Ume takes my head in her reptilian claws and pulls me into generous bosom while we sit down on the alleyway’s stone path. I instinctively wrap my arms around her while she holds me in place, stroking one of her claws down my back in comfort. I’m hit with the calming, soothing security of the feminine scent wafting from her soft and warm breasts. With the [Soundproof] spell still active around us, it’s as if we became the last people that remained in this world.
“You know, I had kind of put this off when the topic of our ages was brought up over our talk with your mother and after that dinner with Lady Tephalia, but I don’t think I can ignore it now after hearing about your losses. Compared to us Dragons, an average human’s lifespan is very sadly short. For us, a human’s time in this world from birth to death lasts for about an instant in our perception. What’s more, even if it’s possible for us to have children of our own, since half of their blood will be of a human’s, I wonder if their lifespans are also affected in that regard. I would lose you first before our children would follow. I would be left alone likely looking the same as I do right now and it would still be a long time before I pass on as well.”
My eyes widen and my body tenses up. I honestly didn’t even think that far ahead. How could I? I had already lost some of the most important people in my life from Earth but I can’t even imagine what it would be like living for hundreds, for thousands of years still alone when everyone else I knew and made connections with would leave and pass on without me. My aunts and their kids (if they have them) would be gone and I would have nothing left. My chest feels heavy just thinking about it.
“I think … a part of me put it off because I was scared, too,” Ume continued. “Scared of what I would do when all of you are gone. My first love, our children, and everyone in our new family, all of you would be gone. Even if I go back to my homeland and reconnect with my friends and family there, those who I can continue to grow old with, I would still be left with a hole in my heart that you all left me with.
“I don’t think I would regret it, though, meeting you all. You and everyone have shown and taught me things I would never experience if I stuck with staying in my homeland. Most of what I had learned from Padimon and other continents in this world to the point of my exile was only from hearsay and some books. None of those things or the new memories I would make from that point in our lives would ever replace them. What about you, Jin? You may have experienced those losses far sooner than I have, but do you ever regret meeting those people if they brought you that much pain?”
“Of course, not. I loved all of them, I still do. I would definitely worry about leaving you and our kids behind, worry of how bad I may look from wrinkles of age, and feeling very guilty of causing you all such great sadness, but I know I would rather go out in peace from growing old than from a seriously mortal wound or illness.”
“And that’s why I think it’s important that we spend every waking moment together until that point. Whether it’s good times or bad, I don’t want anything to tear us apart by force. I want to love you in every way imaginable, as well as our children and the rest of our family. I had read once that there are some cultures who believe in reincarnation, the process of being reborn. If that’s possible, I will throw away my pride as a Dragon to submit myself to the Immortals and scour every measure of this world if it means I can see you again.
“By that point, when I see you again in a possibly new appearance, whether as a human or some other race, even if you become a female, I will call out to you, hold your hands in mine, look deeply in your eyes, and proudly say, ‘Become my mate!’”
“Ume.” I peek up from the comforts of her bosom and see her smiling down on me. “… If I do manage to keep some of my former self, I will try to give you a straight answer at a shorter time. I will warn you though, I may age quickly under your perception of time, whether in this life or the next. I might not look as attractive or be as strong and energetic by then as I do now.”
“Well, I pretty much promised I would support you through your whole life for helping me make children when I approached you. That, as well as my love, won’t change no matter how old you may get. Besides, I kind of find you humans adorable when you age. They remind me of raisins with all of those wrinkles.”
“… How do I even respond to that?”
“Just say you won’t let whatever plans the Demon King may have to keep you from living with me and the others and drop this concern for now. If she was really desperate in seeking you out, we would likely be surrounded by her guards by now.”
“… Right, let’s do that.”
<“*Hic*. That was so beautiful … Jinma, know that I will always love you and your sweet ass, too, no matter how wrinkly it may get,”> Nyra finally cuts in between sniffles.
“Aaaand just like that, the moment’s ruined. Can we please stop talking about me getting wrinkly, please? I’m only in my early 20’s and I still have plenty of time before I reach that point.”
“Of course. Shall we kiss and move on?”
“You had me at ‘kiss.’”
With that, we stand back up to our feet, share a comforting smooch, and embrace each other for successfully talking through another of one of our growing concerns as newly wedded husband and wife.
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Hello and welcome. You may call me Orange Rain, and I looooove orange soda.
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