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≪18≫ – Human-Dragon Conference

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Author: Kisasaki Suzume Original Source: Syosetu
Translator: Mui English Source: Re:Library
Editor(s): Deximus-Maximus

That day, the courtyard of the royal palace had taken on the appearance of the headquarters of a battlefield.

The enclosures, erected to cover the surrounding buildings, were made of white fabric with blue lines. They were magic items to fend off arrows and spells, but in this case, they served more like ornaments.

The distinguished lineup of nobles (though Lucella only knew their titles) were dressed up flashily, sitting in the outer circumference of the place.

And in the very back, sat the king of Setulev himself, even his outdoor chair looking too extravagant.

He was in his late forties. His hair, which was a dark shade of brown, was quite curly, while his beard was neatly cut short. The first impression that would come to mind would perhaps be ‘serious’. Though it did feel like he lacked some dignity that the term ‘king’ brought into one’s mind.

But his crown, royal staff in hand, and dignified sitting posture made him look the part. He had received the teachings of the previous king since birth and had been ruling for fifteen years already, so his experience was sufficient to give him a dignified presence.

He was wearing a luxurious jacket with loose sleeves, and his mantle, draped around him, featured vivid depictions of flowing water-like patterns.

It was not by intent, but the sky was cloudy that day.

“What is that…?”

One of the nobles looked at the sky. The clouds were burning. There was a hole in them far above where humans could not reach. The flames devoured the clouds and fell down like a meteor. People raised voices of fear.

It seemed like the flames would crash into the ground and explode, but as they descended to the height of the royal palace’s roof, the flames gently dissipated and took on a human shape.

The voices of fear changed into ones of admiration. Her hair was blazing red, and her dress reminiscent of the swaying flames. Being an artificial product, her sublime pure skin had not a single defect.

She was tall by the standard of human females, and possessed an artistically balanced figure.

Her features exuded a wild and majestic air, as if completely untouched by the impurities of the mundane world. She was both elegant and dignified.

As she observed from the ground, Lucella couldn’t help but inwardly exclaim, “Who is this person?” The stark contrast between the way she looked and behaved now compared to her demeanor when showing affection towards her was so striking that it left Lucella utterly bewildered.

As she descended in a swirling blaze of flames to the center of the “meeting grounds,” Kafal raised her hands, causing the ground to tremble and rise.

What emerged from the ground was a throne with a design resembling frozen, solidified lava. It had been created by manipulating the earth through magic.

As Kafal seated herself on the rocky throne, Setulev’s king, facing her from a distance, put on the ring entrusted by Lucella.

“King of humans. There is something I should *** before we begin. Our language is not suited for deceit and concealment. Especially for someone like you who is not accustomed to it.”
“I see. It is wonderful that we will get to converse XXXXXXX without any cover-ups.”

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The king answered pleasantly to Kafal’s warning.

And then, he spoke clearly and loudly.

“I am Lazarus Karliste Liet Setulev, the king of Setulev. Today is a joyous day for me.”
“I am Kafal. The daughter of Shurei, the chief and XXXX of Volcanic Group of Belmar, and Kuria, who is acquainted with XXXX. I presently live on Mount Kuguse.”

Lazarus stood up from his throne and walked midway to the second throne. Kafal remained seated.

“…Excuse me. In situations like this, humans ask for a XXXXXXXXX. Is this different from the XXXXXXX of dragons? In that case…”

Kafal also stood up.

“You are a human, while my current self is using a human form. I should act according to human XXXXXX here. I was simply perplexed due to the lack of experience.”

She then walked forward and exchanged a handshake.

Meanwhile, Lucella was focused not on the two, but on the spectators around. Most of them held their breath as they watched over the king and dragon’s handshake. But not everyone was like that.

Among the assembled nobles and high-ranking officials stood one individual. He did not react to the “actions”, nor did he seem as tense as the others.

…For those who do not understand the language of dragons, they can only observe the actions and later deduce the nature of the conversation. However, if one understood the flow of the conversation, they wouldn’t be surprised by the events.

—Is he making out their conversation…?

No, since he’s not interpreting, perhaps he can only hear it. Dragonian is easier to listen to rather than speak, after all. Maybe they brought someone who could understand it from somewhere.

It was indeed a prudent measure for the palace to prepare someone who could understand the language, but it was quite audacious to hide them.

“Have you heard that someone laid waste to my garden?”
“I am aware of it.”
“Which side is in the right and which is in the wrong—that is something humans decide arbitrarily. It is of no concern to me. However, what I do desire is that foolish hunters will not be allowed onto the mountain.”

They did not forget their manners towards each other, but did not abase themselves either.

Dragonian language conveyed nuances heavily, but neither Lazarus nor Kafal arrogantly looked down on the other, and were simply acting self-confident and collected.

“What I and your kingdom seek appears to align. What do you say?”
“Yes, Indeed. There is a XXXXX that Maltgartz plans to take over Mount Kuguse and invade Setulev. However, this is a pure XXXXXXXXX. After all, Setulev and Maltgartz have never crossed swords.”
“…Those are XXXXXX words. Should I take it as the official stance of you humans?”

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It was a deception.

Setulev was backing up the Gufare Union which was engaged in a war with Maltgartz. And in opposition to that, Maltgartz attempted to cross the mountain. The two kingdoms were not on friendly terms by any means.

But even then, they had to shake their hands with a smile until something decisive occurred. That’s just how politics were. That was simply in the national interests.

Behind the scenes, however, they were getting ready for the potential enemy.

“Setulev is small while Maltgartz is mighty and big. We must act prudently. If Mount Kuguse is taken from us, we will be pinned to the ground, leaving us in a state no different from having fangs at our XXXXXX. Could one feel safe in such a state even if they were reassured that they would not be killed?”
“I understand your point. Every beast on Mount Kuguse flees in fear at the mere sight of me. It should be similar to that.”
“We wish to XXXXX the risk of invasion. In other words, make it so that the Maltgartz army does not enter Mount Kuguse. That should serve to our mutual benefit.”

Lazarus who sat imposingly leaned forward a bit.

“If so… I am considering having our army enter Mount Kuguse before Maltgartz.”

He finally breached the main topic.

If Julian’s visit could help ease tensions, then until the situation escalates again, it should be impossible to deploy a large-scale military force.

Sustaining a continuous deployment of troops would pose both human and financial burdens, and Setulev did not seek to unnecessarily heighten tensions either.

However, it should be possible to establish a de facto defensive stronghold, with valid excuses, and station guards along the borders.

Furthermore, by establishing a cooperative relationship with Kafal, they can gain accomplishments in the form of time.

This way, when the time comes, Setulev will be fully prepared to defend Mount Kuguse with all its might. Cooperation and building a defense structure… Both Setulev and Kafal desired that outcome itself. However, the issue lay in the approach.

The alliance must be kept within reasonable bounds. The ultimate desire of Kafal (and Lucella) was a peaceful life in Mount Kuguse. It was essential to avoid being excessively controlled or used by Setulev. Lazarus was well aware of this, which was why he cautiously broached the subject after a roundabout preamble.

“Queen of Mount Kuguse. There are monsters that serve as your soldiers on the mountain. Should they fight alongside our soldiers and knights, we would be able to repel any XXXXX.”
“Alright then… If your words are sincere, then I shall allow humans to enter the mountain.”
“And there is one more matter. I have to once again declare to the human world that Mount Kuguse belongs to Setulev. This has been our claim from before you have settled there, so I ask that you understand.”

As Lucella was positioned behind Kafal she couldn’t see her expression, but she realized that she was frowning based on her following words.

“XXXXX. It should be clear to human eyes that the mountain in question belongs to me, is it not? And I have no plans to relinquish it.”
“***, that is indeed the case. However, we would need a reason in case of a battle. If we claim Mount Kuguse as ours, then we would have a reason to fight the invaders of it. It is nothing more than that. I am not attempting to change anything. Naturally, I would not even dream of attempting to steal it from you.”

Lazarus’s words felt somewhat disturbing.

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—Just now… You would suspect some scheme even if it was told using human language, but in Dragonian you can see his intentions clearly…!

He… most likely didn’t plan to steal it. That much should be true.

Stealing it would mean no other option but to eliminate Kafal, but that way they could no longer use Mount Kuguse as a breakwater, so it wasn’t realistic.

However, if they were allowed on the mountain, they could use the mountain to a degree regardless. But what if they can establish vested interests based on that fact, making it their own? Even without stealing Mount Kuguse, they would still be able to suck its sweet nectar.

Lucella could see such ulterior motives.

—Did he let that slip just now? Or was it intentional?

As the head of a nation, one also represents the national interest. To be able to respond with that so casually, even under the gaze of a dragon, Lazarus was not to be underestimated, after all.

Was this what it meant to be a king who leads a nation?

Kafal did not respond for some time. It felt like the heat was whirling up around her like coiling snakes.

“…So be it. However, I will not XXXXXX if your soldiers ruin my garden. Make sure to discipline them well. Their behavior shall be taken as your own.”
“Additionally, human laws have nothing to do with my mountain. All who enter the mountain should obey my orders. If I tell them to withdraw, they shall withdraw… and die if I tell them to.”
“That is…”

Lazarus’s expression sharpened in tension.

Kafal was stating that if humans resorted to petty schemes and cunning behavior, she was prepared to respond with untamed violence. Whether one interpreted it as a deterrent or a threat would depend on the circumstances.

—She added ‘though I do not wish to kill them’ nuance to that, but I wonder if it was conveyed?

It might ultimately be Setulev that gained merits from the mountain… but it would be the mountain that would flourish initially.

It was to keep things within limits. And to be able to bring judgment without problems if something happened.

She warned the leader of the other party here.

However, Lazarus couldn’t just nod to that.

“I ask that you XXXXXXXXX about controlling their life and death. Even if there was a just reason for that, soldiers would grow restless if someone was killed.”
“I am not trying to find faults in XXXX actions of small beings and bring judgment on them. Should anything happen, I shall first relay it to your general using words.”

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She showed her fangs. That was enough.

Kafal was an outlaw in the human world’s standards.

In a civilized world, you weren’t allowed to kill people so lightly. Setting aside whether that rule was always adhered to, it was still a fundamental premise. A society where humans kill each other could not thrive and progress.

Cruel rulers face condemnation, and murderers are sent to the gallows.

However, as Kafal herself has conveyed, she was not bound by such restraints. She didn’t need to fear being apprehended for murder, so they had to be very careful and sincere with her.

“However, even I cannot fully control the Variants. I shall arrange it so that your soldiers are as safe as possible, but there are no absolutes. I will not be able to fully protect them, especially those that ignore my orders and act arbitrarily.”
“Understood. Then let us talk about XXXXX agreement for a bit…”

When Lazarus signaled with his gaze, an official handed over a piece of parchment with something written on it.

Magical contracts were considered more suitable for parchment than regular paper, and by extension, the use of parchment had become common for important agreements, even when there were no magical bindings involved.

Lazarus began reading out the specific requirements, which seemed to have already been prepared by the administrative staff, and Kafal listened to them analytically.

—…So there was no need for me to intervene, in the end.

Lucella had already switched into spectator mode. Her determination had lost its target and ran idle.

She was playful and a little absentminded at times, and lost her reason whenever Lucella was involved, but she was a dragon.

Her wisdom and experience from her long life were not to be underestimated. Lucella was made aware of it.


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