Chapter 344 - Dragon Lord (1)
Dragon lord-using the dictionary meaning, it meant the 'king' of dragons. This was unusual for dragons who rarely gathered together.
It was a habit of dragons to nest in an area that wasn't related to their parents and where there were no peers. A dragon was no longer protected after leaving their parents, but they weren't commanded by anyone and enjoyed their own life. Even an old dragon couldn't impose their will on another dragon. A dragon who reached adulthood had no obligation to follow the orders of others. They would have a thoroughly individualistic life.
However, no dragon could disobey the command of the lord. The leader of all dragons was at the peak of the species from the time they were born. In a sense, the lord was a god. Born without parents, growing up without a gender, and then dying without any offspring, the dragon lord deviated from the category of dragons and only showed its power when the material world was in a crisis.
The dragon lord had gold scales that didn't belong to any clan, and they ruled over the mana of the world, regardless of its nature. As such, the dragon lord was literally the final weapon of this material world.
"...The lord came to this swamp?"
"Yes, if it wasn't for the lord, would these people lift their heavy asses?" Aquilo placed her left arm around Theodore's shoulder as she responded to Theodore's trembling voice. Her cool and smooth skin felt good on his shoulder, but Theodore was concentrated on the dragon lord.
A dragon lord wouldn't abuse their power on personal affairs. If the records were true, they only acted when there was a crisis that threatened the whole world.
'It means they didn't come here lightly.'
Legend had it that the appearance of a dragon lord was enough to gather people from all over the continent. Even Theodore, who could compete with an old dragon, was lacking in comparison. If he had known this would happen, he would've saved all his strength.
While Theodore was thinking, Brasmati turned his gaze to Aquilo and growled, "You are still talking nonsense, daughter of Surmidon. You are too old to be a child. Why don't you have some decency?"
The situation suddenly became uncomfortable. However, rather than apologizing, Aquilo kept talking. She had no hesitation in provoking an opponent she couldn't win against.
"Since when did our species follow the rules of seniority? Has your brain become ripe from living in the lava? What is behind your dissatisfaction?"
"This damn woman...!"
"Oh, my. How scary."
Brasmati's eyebrows twitched as heat flowed from his body and started to melt the ground. The moist ground dried, and the water vapor evaporated. Theodore had seen this a few times with Veronica, but the power controlled by the red dragon was more powerful than Veronica's draconic state.
'Damn, why are they arguing like this?'
As the atmosphere between them seemed as if they would fight at any minute, Theodore felt greatly disturbed being between them. He knew Aquilo's capricious personality, but he didn't think she would do something so reckless. Theodore looked carefully at the left arm attached to him and stopped breathing as fluorescent eyes appeared right in front of his nose.
"Boy, aren't you on my side?"
"If I fight this jerk, won't you protect me?"
His nose was ticklish. The distance was so close that his nose touched hers with every word. Theodore's eyes filled with an unknown excitement, and his breathing had gotten heavy. His body naturally reacted to this, and he realized that the question was a test. Aquilo's attitude would change depending on how he answered.
However, the strange atmosphere between the two didn't continue.
"I thought it was too boisterous. Guests have come," a soft and cheerful voice was heard from the forest.
Brasmati mumbled with an expression like he was chewing a bug, "Erucus."
It was the name of the green dragon that Theodore had heard of a few days ago. Theodore remembered the information related to him. Erucus lived quietly in the mountains, saved those who were lost, and raised endangered animals. He was a saint compared to Aquilo, who played with pirates and collected treasures, and Brasmati, who was easily enraged.
"A magician on the boundary line, a sword master, and..." Erucus looked at Titania standing behind Theodore, and a liking filled his eyes. "A child of Arv, a high elf. Can I ask your name?"
"I am Erucus. It is nice to meet you." The dragons of the green clan seemed to have a relationship with the elves since long ago. Erucus looked at Titania with a gaze that was as gentle as a grandfather looking at his granddaughter.
Furthermore, thanks to Erucus' appearance, the two dragons stepped back from their fight. They weren't angry enough to fight in this atmosphere. Brasmati settled down and asked Erucus, "Erucus, where is the lord? Didn't they accompany you?"
"They are coming. They sent me back first because they have something to check."
"You can't stay for a long time on your own?"
"Of course. In order to resist it, conditions of other attributes are needed. The problem is I don't know what those conditions are."
The words were confusing, but Brasmati nodded like he understood.
'The matter won't be explained until I see the lord.'
Theodore had to wait until the lord came. Erucus spoke with Titania, while Aquilo stuck to Theodore from beginning to end. Only Randolph didn't have a companion, making him stand awkwardly. Fortunately, the dragon lord appeared quickly. There was a glittering light from the other side of the forest, and the dragons and Theodore's group looked in that direction. Before they faced the lord, Erucus gave some advice, "The lord is coming. I don't intend to force our manners on other species, but please don't act in a rude manner."
"Yes, I understand." Theodore nodded. However, the promise was unnecessary from the beginning. The brilliant light wasn't disturbed at all by the dingy swamp and vegetation.
Theodore couldn't look directly at the light as his eyes narrowed. 'Light...? No, this dazzling existence...!'
It wasn't strange. Theodore had experienced this feeling somewhere before. He soon recalled the golden coffin he had seen in the basement of Lairon. This was a divine light that felt similar to Baldur's. It was a bit stricter than Baldur's warm light, but it was proof that the power was far from evil.
Suddenly, the two dragons and Aquilo, who was attached to Theodore's left arm, bowed down to the light.
"Descendant of Bahamut, I greet the lord." It was a polite greeting.
Theodore was surprised that the dragons would show formal courtesies, even if it was to their lord. They were a species without a hierarchical relationship, yet they showed such a polite attitude to the lord? As Theodore was blinking with surprise, a childlike voice emerged from the mass of light believed to be the dragon lord, [Stand up.]
The three dragons raised their bodies, then the light scattered, and the shape within became increasingly clear. The light that couldn't be penetrated by Theodore's eyes finally revealed the concealed entity. Simultaneously, the six pupils of the three people became bigger.
It was a child who could be a boy or a girl. The child's golden hair shone like sunlight, and the light from their eyes was also brilliant. This brilliance couldn't be covered, even in a place with no light.
A gold dragon...
The gold dragon clan was one that didn't move while looking at the whole world, defending the providence and mana of the world. Nevertheless, the lord had the body of a child that was less than 10 years old. At that time, a voice resonated in the heads of Theodore and the others, [Yes, I am a child. On a human basis, I'm not even 10 years old.]
"What? This voice, don't tell me?"
[Yes, my vocal organs are still immature, so I can only speak like this. I should've said it in advance, I'm sorry.]
"No, rather, you are..."
[That's right. I'm reading your surface thoughts. If you are uncomfortable, close your eyes. I don't yet have the ability to consciously read your thoughts.]
Theodore lost his composure with just a few words. For the dragon lord to be able to ignore all barriers and reading the minds of an 8th circle magician, sword master, and high elf... This was a power that could be attributed to divine beings in ancient books.
['Ey, I'm not that strong. At a level like yours, I have to face you for at least a minute to read your thoughts in depth. Don't worry too much. I'm not grown up yet and can't fight well.]
"...I understand. But did you read our names?"
[Ah! Indeed. I haven't introduced myself yet.] The gold dragon read Theodore's intentions and spoke their name with an innocent expression. [I am the dragon lord of the present age, Clipeus. It is a pleasure!]
The dragon lord was different from what Theodore had expected, but he still didn't relax. If Clipeus' words were true, then they were still a hatchling. Rather than a proper ability of breadth, they were born with the worship of other dragons and the ability to see a master's heart. The type of experience they would grow into was unfathomable.
Theodore tried not to shrink back and opened his mouth, "If the lord has read my mind, then you know the reasons why I came here. Right?"
[Well, I guess so. I sent Brasmati to bring you to me.]
"Why? If the dragons here can't solve it, I can't imagine what I can do."
[That is the case if combat force is required. But we shouldn't fight what is in the center of this swamp. If we don't resolve it using another method, this world will be in danger.]
Before Theodore could ask, Clipeus read his question and replied, [It is simple, Theodore Miller. I'm not asking for cooperation from a 'magician' or the 'chief tower master.' I am asking you as the 'owner of Gluttony.']
"...You read that from my surface thoughts?"
[Haha, perhaps.] Clipeus laughed innocently after hearing Theodore's sharp question. Then they looked at Theodore's left hand. [It has been a long time, Gluttony. How are you?]
As everyone paid attention, a tongue emerged from the palm of Theodore's left hand. -...Damn lizard, you still can't read the mood.
The two monsters conversed.
-What did you call me for?
[Don't you know the story?]
-Damn bastard. You know I can't say it, yet you are still acting like this...?
[Hihi, think of it as revenge for the old days.]
This time, it wasn't just the three people in Theodore's party. Even the dragons didn't understand what was going on. While everyone was feeling astonished, Clipeus eventually confessed the reason for their presence in the swamp, [Please reseal 'Sloth.']