|Author: Kisasaki Suzume
|Original Source: Syosetu
|English Source: Re:Library
The sound of water roared incessantly. From the right, then the left. From nearby, then in the next moment, from afar. The clouds flowing across the night sky moved with the dynamism of a dragon’s flight, appearing and disappearing, changing their appearance with each passing moment.
It was frequently accompanied by thunderous strikes to the ground as naturally as someone walking through the snow exhaling their white breath.
…However, since the primary elemental attribute of this land was ‘water,’ the power of lightning, belonging to the wind, was subdued. Above all, water was fearsome. Torrential rain fell without warning, sweeping through the surroundings and then vanishing. The raindrops, harsh enough to tear through one’s skin, could easily crush a person.
The earth is fractured and shattered like a plate dropped on the floor, with water currents swirling through the gaps.
There was not a single tree around.
Only the half-monster-like water plants that had adapted to this environment drifted in the flowing water or managed to take root on the land with great difficulty.
People called this an inhospitable land. A place where people could and should not live. But this was the true form of the world. The world tamed by Regalia was, in fact, an abnormal state.
Tonight, on one of the islands in this watery inhospitable land, there was an out-of-place light.
“Oh… so that’s what happened.”
Kafal, the massive Red Dragon, had curled up like a cat before the fireplace. Lucella was cuddled against her giant body, using it as a shelter from rain and wind. In front of Lucella, flames continued to burn brightly, even though there was no firewood.
Dragons were creatures attuned to the composition of the world. The flames produced by Kafal could tame the raging power of water.
Lucella, warming herself by sticking both of her bare feet into the fire, was searing meat on an iron skewer. The fat sizzled, making a juicy sound. The chunks of meat from the massive fish-like monster had a peculiar taste but were quite delicious.
“The society of humans… or rather, mainly humans, can be quite challenging. I don’t necessarily think humans are inherently more foolish than other races, but when there are so many of them, the complexity of society seems to lead to deep-seated corruption.”
While savoring the wild meal, Lucella recounted the recent events in the city of Kugutfulm that had occurred while Kafal was away.
“Do you ever grow to dislike humans?” Kafal asked.
“No, not really. I was originally human myself, so I suppose I can’t easily turn my back on them. There’s also a desire not to want to give up on them…” Lucella replied, her words trailing off and vanishing.
“Originally human.” Lucella said it so naturally, but after a slight delay, she seemed to ponder the weight of those words.
“Come to think of it, what am I now?” Lucella muttered softly.
There was a sound akin to the groan of the wind – it was a gasp from Kafal.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it that way. It’s not about it being bad now or that things can’t go on like this…”
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Lucella quickly followed up on her statement. She didn’t want Kafal to feel burdened by this matter. Their meeting had been fate.
And now, Lucella was here because she herself had wished to be Kafal’s daughter, and Kafal had also desired to be her mother. For that reason, no matter the hardships she faced, Lucella wouldn’t resent Kafal, and she didn’t want to burden her with a sense of obligation.
So, it wasn’t a matter of blaming anyone; it was a problem within Lucella herself.
“…Honestly, you shouldn’t need training in hunting. You can use money to buy food from people, and that should be sufficient.”
Before Lucella and Kafal, there lay a massive fish that seemed like it could devour humans in one gulp like a snack.
It was something Kafal had caught. She had devoured it with gusto, bones and all, leaving almost nothing behind except for the head and tail. But even the meager leftovers that Lucella managed to strip from it were enough for her.
“Indeed, with this body, I don’t eat nearly as much as Mom does.”
“That’s true. You’re quite a light eater; it makes me a little worried.”
“I mean, I eat about twice as much as I did before you found me…” Lucella smiled wryly.
Perhaps due to taking on the appearance of a growing child, her hunger had increased compared to before. Skipping a meal made her feel like she might starve to death. However, compared to the amount of food required to sustain a dragon’s massive body, what Lucella ate was minuscule.
Dragons needed vast hunting grounds to survive, and they often considered even large monsters that would be difficult for humans to confront as potential prey. The reason Lucella had left the human world and visited this forbidden land was to learn one of the most crucial aspects of a dragon’s education, “hunting,” from Kafal.
Despite being an inhospitable place filled with dragon aura, Mount Kuguse, under the influence of Regalia’s power, was still considered part of the human world.
Dragon hunting grounds were typically harsh environments, but they were paradises for formidable creatures adapted to them. While the monsters inhabiting this area might not match the Variants in sheer strength if it came to a direct confrontation, hunting them was a different challenge altogether.
Dragons had to hunt to survive. But Lucella was different.
“But I still want to see how you live Mom and, if possible, learn to live alongside you,” Lucella said.
Even if she couldn’t become a real dragon, Lucella believed that by learning and getting closer to being like a dragon, she might gain insight into something.
There might not be a single absolute path to “how humans live,” but there were well-trodden paths, established by countless predecessors – patterns. The same might apply to “how dragons live.”
So, what should Lucella, who couldn’t neatly fit into the category of human or dragon but was both in some sense, do?
If she kept trying to make judgments like “this is how a human would do it” when she was no longer one, and occasionally acted in a compromising way as a dragon, she would become nothing more than a mediocre imitation of a human.
The reverse was true as well. Lucella had become an entity beyond humans, but she couldn’t live as a dragon.
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No one else could likely explain how to live from the exact same position as Lucella, and there was no guarantee that there would ever be another person who would even follow in her footsteps.
Lightning suddenly struck very close by, causing Lucella’s eardrums to tremble. Immediately after, a sudden passing rain, like a barrage of spears, poured down on Lucella.
The small island they were on seemed to sway for a moment, and Lucella clung to Kafal.
Kafal leaned in, spreading one wing to create a makeshift roof for Lucella. Flames swirled around Kafal, enveloping her and illuminating the night. The evaporating moisture turned into mist.
“Just camping alone is quite a challenge…”
“Do you want to go back to Mount Kuguse now?”
“No, it’s okay since I’m with you, Mom.”
“…Hehe,” Kafal laughed, exhaling sparks mixed with her breath.
The rain, which seemed to create the illusion of being inside a water pipe, pounded down, and after a few minutes, it subsided.
About half of the massive fish remains Kafal had caught were washed away, and the remaining half had been crushed by the water pressure. Surely, this kind of rain would fall multiple times before morning.
—Even though it’s bad here, the real inhospitable lands where dragon groups reside are even worse. There, I probably shouldn’t live… at least not now…
By receiving her name from Kafal, Lucella had been defined in this world as “the daughter of a Red Dragon and a Blue Dragon.”
Lucella, harmonizing with both fire and water, wouldn’t easily perish in this tumultuous land of water. However, that was a dimension apart from whether she could truly “survive.”
She gazed up at her mother’s colossal figure that didn’t budge even when exposed to the deadly rain. Kafal seemed able to sleep just by curling up in such a harsh environment, but if Lucella tried the same, she’d likely be swept away to the ends of the sea.
Lucella had decided to become Kafal’s daughter, but their starting points were vastly different. She wasn’t sure if she could become like her. She believed she didn’t need to be exactly like her mother. However, wanting to walk and keep pace with her mother felt like a strangely natural desire to Lucella.
Wrapped in her mother’s chest (which was more like a chestplate…) and the flames her mother had ignited, Lucella drifted into a warm sleep. In this warmth, she could forget everything. Worrying could wait for tomorrow.