|Author: Kobayashi Homare||Original Source: Syosetu||Word Count: 2309 characters|
|Translator: Nomad||English Source: Re:Library||Word Count: 1095 words|
She’s insane. Ever since I met her, countless times Lapis had made me think that. Dragons were a unique type of monster, which got stronger as they aged, and Lapis wanted to charge into their nesting grounds to fight the Dragon King and its subordinates. The only explanation was that she had lost her mind.
Once we reached Dragon’s Nest proper, it was completely different from what I imagined. Since it was the nesting ground for many giant dragons, I had imagined the place as a rocky wasteland, but it was actually a humongous temple. Though our way there had been exactly what I imagined.
“This is the Dragon King’s temple. It’s been three hundred years since I last came here, but it hasn’t changed at all.”
Lapis said that with a slightly nostalgic look in her eyes. A group of dragons charged at us while she said that, but without breaking a sweat she literally kicked them away.
“This was the actual place I was aiming at, the temple hidden here. The Dragon King and its subordinates live inside here, and the temple has many tricks to prevent outsiders from getting in. Some rooms have thinner air, or stronger gravity, and some even make controlling magic tricky. But that also makes it the perfect place to train.”
The more she explained, the less I wanted to go inside. Before we had struggled to kill a juvenile dragon, but here was Lapis, easily taking down way bigger ones. We had been attacked countless times since we got near this place, and every time I was scared, but it happened so often that my feelings were getting dulled and it did not affect me as much anymore.
After killing many dragons that would easily tear any adventurer apart, and leaving their bodies behind us, we finally reached this place, the Dragon King’s temple. At first I thought it would be an open place at the peak, but instead we had taken a detour and went underground, following enormous immaculate stone steps that no one knew who had built them. Eventually we could no longer see the entrance behind us, but there was a dim light in front of us. At the bottom of the steps, we reached a place illuminated with magic lights, which brightened up the huge cave making it as lit as if the sun was shining there. There were huge columns lined up going further away that’s commonly found in most temples too, except they were at least ten times bigger.
Rather than a holy place, this looked more bizarre than anything, and soon after we noticed a change in our bodies.
“I-I feel heavy..!”
“I can hardly breathe too…just inhaling is hard…”
“I’m having trouble amassing magic too! I’ll have to focus a lot even to cast simple spells.”
If Lapis had not explained any of this, we probably would have panicked here. While we looked around slightly scared, Lapis still looked as calm as ever. I knew it was not her fault, but I still felt slightly annoyed.
“The Dragon King should be further ahead. The dragons here don’t like to move much, so they might be already watching us here, but let’s hurry on.”
I could not tell if Lapis knew how I was feeling, but regardless of that she simply turned around and walked ahead. We did not like the idea of being left behind here, and we were already spooked, so we hurried behind her. The further we went, the lower our voices got too.
“Is it me…or is it getting even harder to breathe?”
“Yeah…it’s almost like bloodlust…but not quite, I just feel something powerful.”
Karin was the first to mutter something. She was right, we could all feel an enormous pressure from further inside the temple. I could only assume that it was the Dragon King, but we could not see it yet. It was still far away, but it made any regular dragon feel harmless already.
After that no one spoke again, our footsteps being the only sound in the large temple. I had never imagined that simply walking forward could be this hard, but with every step I took I felt like I was getting closer to hell, and sometimes I had to stop and catch my breath. I was not the only one feeling that way, everyone except for Lapis did the same.
I had been looking down, concentrating only on walking forward, and somehow we had reached the end of the temple without realizing. I raised my head and saw a tall golden wall in front of us. I thought we were going to find the Dragon King, but there was a wall instead? Where was the king? I looked around in desperation, until I saw Ciel, Karin, and Luvias looking up with a more terrified face than I had seen on them ever before. I decided to turn my head up too, and froze in fear.
Up above, far higher than even the roof of Bordaule’s royal palace, I could see the gargantuan head of a dragon. Was that…the Dragon King? The moment the thought appeared in my head, an unknown fear assaulted my body. My body began trembling and rattling on its own, even though I tried to stay still, my teeth chattering uncontrollably. If I could simply pass out I would feel better, but I had neglected my mental training so much that I could not do that either. Both my consciousness and subconsciousness knew it, we could never win against that. All the demons we had fought so far would equal nothing but flies in comparison. I had never imagined something like that could exist!
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None of us could move, we were petrified with fear. Except Lapis, who did not seem to feel anything as she took yet another step forward. Looking at her back, she looked as reliable as ever, but was she actually feeling anything too? Was she not afraid, getting closer to the Dragon King?
“It’s been a while, Estrella.”
The dragon’s mouth was lined with countless razor sharp teeth that could make anyone faint by just looking at them, but in contrast a gentle and calm voice came out from its throat. Estrella, it said…who was that?
“I haven’t been called that in ages, Dragon King. Or should I say, Tiamat.”
While we all could not move or think properly, Lapis smiled as she replied to the Dragon King.