Finally, the thing that everyone had been worrying about from a long time back happened.
The dragon Landeceliam kidnapped princess Narime.
While it was a tragic event, it was hard to say that it was a surprising one. After all, the only princess in the dragon’s territory was princess Narime. Even the princess knew that something like this was likely to happen. That’s why when the dragon came to the palace, the princess was able to maintain her calm.
“Let me go, you stupid dragon! Otherwise Sir Dusburn would come for me!”
As a dragon, Landeceliam didn’t really think that it was wrong to talk with its food. It looked at the princess, who was trapped in a giant cage that somewhat resembled a birdcage, and spoke with a voice of curiosity.
“It looks like you don’t really want Sir Dusburn to come. Why is that? I thought having someone come to rescue you was a good thing?”
“If Dusburn Calparang was coming here because he actually wanted to save me, I’d be happy. But he’s probably coming here because he wants to be honored as the man who defeated a dragon and saved the princess.”
“Maybe. But considering how the profits you’ll gain in both situations are pretty much the same, I don’t think it really matters. Oh, do we have to consider the other side’s viewpoint too, since your race has a group mentality? But even when we take that into consideration, I think the profits you’ll gain from this affair pretty much even out. After all, we’re talking about your life here.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. Anyways, once Sir Dusburn defeats you, I’d have to marry him! How in the world would I be able to live with a person who gives out human heads as a present?!”
Dusburn Calparang was an undefeatable swordsman. Of course, he had to have good equipment, and couldn’t drink heavily the day before a fight. But when all those conditions were met, he was undeniably strong.
Sir Dusburn could fight three men at once when he gets cornered. But when he isn’t, he can fight eight men at once. When the knight gets left alone in a battlefield, it isn’t because the army abandoned him. It’s because Sir Dusburn killed everyone there, allies and enemies alike. His title as the demon stopped being a metaphor about four years ago. After Sir Dusburn shamed a priestess of the Palbino Church in their holy land, the high priests labeled him a demon from the thirteenth hell (After this event, the priestesses stated that one way to ascend into heaven would be to assassinate Sir Dusburn. It would be an extremely hard feat, but at least it was a guaranteed path to heaven).
Landeceliam knew about all this, as he heard the rumors before– but he never heard anything about Sir Dusburn gifting people anything, which aroused his curiosity a little. His mood turned a little sour when he heard about the man gifting the princess of the nation the head of the traitor, Georip.
Princess Narime kept talking, all the while crying her eyes out.
“It’s either me getting eaten by you, or being married to a beast. I don’t know which is worse!”
“I don’t know how you reached that conclusion. Even if Calparang manages to defeat me by sheer luck, why would he marry you? You said that Calparang seeks fame, and not marriage. That’s the conclusion I have reached after listening to you.”
“What do you mean? Princesses always marry the person that rescued them from dragons. Why are you asking me something that even you would know about?”
“I know about this?”
“Yeah? Didn’t you kidnap me since dragons are supposed to kidnap princesses? You wouldn’t have come all the way to father’s castle otherwise.”
“I don’t know about that. I actually chose to kidnap you after coming up with a theory.”
“What do you mean?”
“I believed that since you were a young virgin who was raised in a safe, clean environment with proper food and exercise, you would be top quality meat with a satisfying texture. I’m pretty sure other dragons would…….”
Landeceliam didn’t finish his sentence. He wasn’t opposed to speaking with his food, but talking about food in front of food that just fainted seemed a bit weird to him. The dragon scratched its scaly head, checked the lock on the princess’s cage, then left.
Princess Narime, who woke up a bit later, became confused. Since when was she in a steel cage? The princess, who had been staring at the steel bars in wonder, remembered the words of Landeceliam.
She almost fainted again. But then, she heard someone’s voice.
“Excuse me, hello. Um, are you really a princess?”
The princess came back to her senses when she heard someone’s voice. She tried looking around. But she was the only one in the cage. She tried looking out of the steel cage, and her heart skipped a beat. She was 15 meters above the floor, hanging off the ceiling.
But when she looked up, she could see another cage hanging above her.
The second cage was about 6 meters away from the princess’s cage, and was also hanging 15 meters from the floor. The princess thought the person imprisoned in it was a young man. But after a minute, she began to doubt it. She had heard in the past that men had something that women didn’t have, but wasn’t having horns in the head kind of overdoing it?
“Who are you? Are you a person?”
Princess Narime wanted to pretend that she didn’t know what that meant. She could’ve just hid behind the illusion of reality, as the man’s words didn’t make sense at all. But the horned man just confirmed the princess’s greatest fears in a matter of seconds.
“I mean, Landeceliam decided to eat me as dessert after you…”
Princess Narime fainted for the second time.
After princess Narime woke up again, the horned man apologized for his discourtesy, and introduced himself. He was a lumberjack by the name of Jobin, and was also a deerman who would turn into a deer every full moon.
“Oh? Really? Like a werewolf?”
Jobin’s face turned a little hurt.
“Well, werewolves are more famous nowadays. Humans didn’t know about either of us when werewolves were hunting deermen, but when werewolves began to hunt humans because of our dwindling population, the humans got really agitated. Well, it was something obvious. After all, even if we transformed, since the only thing we did was run in the forest and eat grass, there was no need for us to clash with humans. But even if we weren’t widely known, when you look at the numbers, we were more numerous than werewolves. After all, there are always more deer than wolves by logic, right? Well, out population dropped quite a bit now, though.”
“Mm. So, why did your population drop?”
“Because the forest is disappearing. Deermen need big forests to live. Since I was a licensed lumberjack, I was able to enter the forbidden Minegol Forest. That made my life a little bearable.”
“So are you transformed right now? Is it a full moon tonight?”
“No, under the full moon, we transform even more than this. Landeceliam just gave me a big jewel just to confirm if I was a deerman or not. Do you know about it? The jewel with a moon in its name?”
“Are you talking about the moonstone?”
“Yes. Moonstone. I think that was it. Anyways, when I saw it, I transformed this much. This horn’s going to disappear when the sun comes up.”
Princess Narime was entranced by this surprising story. Right then, Jobin spoke with a curious voice.
“Are you really a princess?”
Narime gathered as much majesty a person in a cage hanging off a ceiling could muster, and spoke.
“Yes. I am the princess of this country.”
Jobin, instead of reacting to the princess’s noble air, asked a weird question.
“That means you ate a lot of good food, right?”
The princess, who became dazed for a moment, became angry when she remembered Landeceliam’s words. She wanted to shout. She wanted to ask if that was the reason why Landeceliam kidnapped her. She wanted to say that she heard that story from an expert already. But Jobin’s intention wasn’t in asking about that.
“You see, Landeceliam heard a lot of nonsensical things from these werewolves. The werewolves say that humans don’t have the same sweet taste that deer-people don’t have. Those bastards. I tried to persuade Landeceliam by saying the werewolves were just saying that because they didn’t get to eat deer-people as often as before. I told the dragon that we actually didn’t taste all that well. But Landeceliam didn’t believe me, saying that there was no way I actually ate a deerman before. But you ate some deer in the past, right?”
“Eh, uh…….I eat it since the cook makes some for me. I don’t really like it though…….”
“Let’s do it like this. When you think about it, Landeceliam just wants to eat us because we’re tasty, right? It’s not like he’s doing all this because he wants to show off or anything. Then, if we don’t taste all that well, Landeceliam wouldn’t really have any interest in us, right? I’ll say that princess doesn’t taste all that well to Landeceliam. I’ll come up with something. Something like how you don’t taste all that nice because of the amount of makeup you use every day. And in turn, you can say that deers don’t taste nice. Since you ate a lot of deer meat before, you can come up with something, right? We’d be able to persuade Landeceliam better if we did that, instead of trying to say you’re not tasty by yourself, right?”
Princess Narime thought this was an amazing plan. In all honesty, it wasn’t the best plan of all things, but to a person in fear, it sounded quite nice. And because of this plan, Jobin began to feel a bit uncomfortable. It was because the princess kept staring at Jobin, trying to think of what deer meat tasted like.
The nobles grieved over the fact that Sir Dusburn sided with the peasants, and the peasants believed that there was no person who sided with nobles more than he.
Sir Dusburn was actually partially responsible for the contradicting views that each of the classes held. When Sir Dusburn beat someone up, he didn’t consider the victim’s social standing. He cared more about the physical distance between him and the victim. And when someone asked Sir Dusburn something along the lines of if he should first consider if the victim deserved to be beat up in the first place, Sir Dusburn would carefully analyse the distance between him and the man who questioned him. When he punched some random guy in the face who grabbed his shoulder while he had been walking in the forest, he was thinking the same thing. When Dusburn tried to find out the identity of the man he punched because he got curious of what kind of a person that man was, he became surprised. Unexpectedly, the person who got downed by his punch was not male, but female.
Sir Dusburn became confused. Dear god, did his punch carry enough force to change someone’s gender?
While he was pondering upon the subject of the power of his fist, the crossdressing woman woke up. The woman covered up her chest, which the knight had uncovered while trying to figure out her identity, and screamed in fear.
“I already have someone I love!”
“Did you grab my shoulder just to tell me that? Well, I did hear that people want to say it out loud occasionally.”
“Eh? What? I, no…. I was just telling you not to touch me……”
Sir Dusburn looked at the woman with a cold face. The woman could figure out that the man was thinking something along the lines of ‘Even delusions at this degree can be considered a disease, it seems. To say something like that when people might mistake her for a man…….’ The woman, whose pride had been quite damaged, thought about telling him that she was actually crossdressing, but decided not to and just told the man what she came here for.
“I just grabbed you so that I could look like a man. Don’t men do that? They slap each other’s shoulders and swear at each other, don’t they?”
Sir Dusburn stroked his bushy beard while thinking, and soon answered her in a satisfied manner.
“If someone did that to me, he’d die.”
“…….Yup, you’re Dusburn for sure. You’re going to Esoril in order to save princess Narime, right?”
“I’m Sarandite, from the Minegol Forest. I want to go with you.”
“The person you happen to love is the princess? Aha, that explains why you were crossdressing.”
Sarandite wanted to turn around and leave right there. If there was an alternate option, or something even similar, she would’ve taken it. But there wasn’t one. So Sarandite suppressed her rage, and spoke.
“In Esoril, there’s a person other than the princess, named Jobin. He’s the one I want to rescue. I was troubled because Jobin got abducted, but then I heard that the princess also got taken by Landeceliam. I believed that Sir Knight would try to go save the princess, so I was waiting here.”
“In a man’s clothes?”
“Th, that, there’s a lot of s-strange men in the world, you know.”
“You’re going to be suspicious of just about everyone in the world at that rate. Anyways, I get why you’d want my help, but I don’t really need you.”
“Ah, I’m not trying to leech off you or anything. I can help.”
“How? Are you going to wash my armour? Or are you going to whine while I’m fighting Landeceliam in order to annoy the dragon to death?”
Sarandite, who became frustrated to no end, decided to reveal the one thing she hoped to never speak about to the man in front of her.
“I’m a werewolf! I can get stronger than the strongest man once every month, darn it!”
Sir Dusburn didn’t say anything, and instead pulled out the pickaxe on his back. He had brought the thing because he determined that a pick would be a better tool, than a sword at least, when trying to pick through the dragon’s hard scales. Sarandite immediately grabbed her head, and fell down.
“Don’t kill me!”
“Ha, that’s funny. Why shouldn’t I kill a man-eating beast?”
“I don’t even eat people because of Jobin! Do you even know how surprised I was when I tried to eat him, thinking that he was a deer?”
“Jobin’s a deerman. He turns into a deer every full moon.”
Sir Dusburn felt a little troubled when he looked at the werewolf who was trying to save her lover. He wanted to just ignore her and leave, but he honestly thought that she might actually be of help. Sir Dusburn was thinking of fighting the dragon at night, where the dragon wouldn’t be able to fly as it pleases. And a werewolf just happened to be a race that could fully display its power at night. After thinking for a while, Sir Dusburn put down the pickaxe in his hand, and spoke with a bit of a growl.
“I’m going to kill you if you try anything suspicious. Explain.”
“Alright. So it was……”
“It must’ve been one of the four seasons. I know. Get to the point!”
Sir Dusburn extruded his belly in a threatening manner. But Sarandite simply tucked her chin out in mock defiance.
“So it was a beautiful summer night, where the light of the full moon shined brightly.”
Sir Dusburn groaned.
Princess Narime spoke out in surprise.
“So that werewolf doesn’t love you?”
Jobin gave a depressing smile.
“I don’t know. Perhaps Sarandite really does love me. Or perhaps she’s just confusing hunger for love. Well, it is understandable. We were chasing each other all night. We didn’t even realise the sun had come up because of the adrenaline rush we had. When we came back to our senses, we were staring at each other’s eyes in the middle of the forest, panting, and naked.”
Princess Narime’s face turned red as a beet. Jobin, who was never really educated that much on etiquette, didn’t realize what kind of an effect his words were having to the princess.
“I can still remember that moment clearly. It must be the same for Sarandite. She probably got a deep impression from that event. She probably fell in love with me because of that. At least, that’s what I think.”
“It looks like y-you like her too, right? Then there aren’t any problems, right?”
“There is. Wouldn’t it be frightening if the woman you were hugging suddenly started to lick her lips in hunger?”
Princess Narime actually became a little frightened when she heard that.
“Did that actually happen?”
“No. I never even hugged her because I avoided her all the time. I’m just afraid something like that might happen.”
“That’s too harsh of you. Why would you accuse a woman who likes you like that?”
“Even if she actually loves me, there’s a problem. She might have to fight her natural instincts all her life just because of me. Asking that from a woman who loves you might be too much, don’t you think?”
Princess Narime couldn’t retort. Jobin swung his arms around as if to try clear the heavy air between them, and smiled.
“Well, from the start, it’s not possible for a wolf and a deer to get together. If I escape from here successfully, it’ll serve as a farewell gift for Sarandite. If I’m not here, there wouldn’t be a need for her to get here, after all.”
“She’s coming to save you?”
“No matter how you look at it, she’s still a wolf, you know.”
The princess couldn’t suppress a sigh from escaping her lips.
“We’re both troubled by the people trying to save us here, huh.”
“Don’t forget about the dragon who had too good of an impression of us.”
The princess trembled when she heard Jobin’s words.
though she had fainted a few times already from sorrow, it still felt like she could cry buckets. But she held back her tears. Dragons were beasts. Like cats. But the person over there, while he was half deer, he was also half human. How could she afford to cry in front of a person as a princess of a nation?
“We should be alright, princess. We’ll figure out a way to decrease Landeceliam’s appetite. Perhaps we can even save the whole kingdom by making Landeceliam feel like throwing up at the sight of humans. Well, that makes me kind of worried about the songs that the bards will come up about us in the future. ‘Friends, you must know of these two people also. The man and woman who were said to be so tasteless that they weren’t even able to find a lover.’ It might be a little awkward, but facts are important after all……. are you ok, princess?”
The princess, who was laughing like a maniac, began to let out her tears that she had been suppressing all this time.
Sir Dusburn clicked his tongue.
“You’re being naive. Life isn’t a song you can sing again if you missed a beat. And even if you worked hard enough to get a nosebleed, it would be hard for you to hear from others that you lived a good life. So why are you doing something so foolish? This isn’t good for both you and that man. Just go back and find a werewolf with a pretty howl or something.”
“Alright, you owe me an advice, sir knight.”
Sarandite couldn’t resist smiling. Unlike his appearance or actions, Sir Dusburn actually turned out to be a witty man.
“I’ll pay you back someday. It’s fine if you keep gloating over telling me an advice that I didn’t even need to hear. And about traveling together…….”
“I won’t be a bother.”
“Don’t say something childish like that. You should work hard to be a bother. I’ll try my best, too. There would be no reason to travel together if we both tried hard to not bother each other, is there?”
Sir Dusburn swung to pickaxe in his hand around his shoulder, and began walking. Sarandite, who wasn’t too sure if the man agreed to travel together or not, quietly followed him from the back. Dusburn didn’t restrain her from doing so. But he walked at an extremely fast pace. Sarandite was surprised at the speed that such a fat knight was capable of such speed.
And after a while, she began to get angry because of that fact. Dusburn Calparang was walking at a speed that could only be done by a running man. Sarandite opened her mouth just when she ran out of breath.
“Hey, are you trying to leave me behind by making me tired or something?”
“But that’s what you’re doing right now. Why are you so hurried?”
“Darn it, I thought it would be better to travel safely rather than traveling as fast as possible, so I left my horse. So that I could move stealthily. But you said that halfwit you’re in love with is a deerman who transforms every full moon, right?”
“Aren’t you being a little too mea……”
“That halfwit only has two days to live.”
“Landeceliam wouldn’t do something as weird as eating a deerman who didn’t transform. He’ll definitely eat your lover at full moon. It’s going to be full moon in two days.”
As they continued moving, Sarandite harshly criticized Sir Dusburn’s peculiar behavior as a knight, like leaving his horse behind. Sir Dusburn assumed that she would grow tired and stop eventually, and let her be. He was wrong. Sarandite was indeed tired, but she kept on talking. Sir Dusburn realised that she was doing this in order to keep her fear at bay. But of course, he wasn’t the type who would forgive someone’s behaviour just because he understood the reason behind it.
“I feel like my ears are going to fall off at this rate, so can you be quiet?”
As Sir Dusburn’s words carried a certain aura of persuasion within it, Sarandite complied with the knight’s request. Sir Dusburn ended up regretting his decision to keep the woman quiet, however. This was because Sarandite began to sob instead of talking. Just when Sir Dusburn became unable to bear the woman’s sobs, Sarandite spoke up as if she couldn’t take it anymore.
“Just how do you manage to cope with it?”
“Cope with that?”
“You must be worried for Princess Narime. How are you managing to cope with that?”
“Tch, are you trying to make me feel old or something? I’m just going to save my friend’s daughter. The King’s daughter, that is. And it would be just downright strange for me to stay quiet when the nation’s princess was kidnapped. Since its like that, I might be able to help you cope with annoyance, but I don’t have much to say regarding fear or worry.”
Sarandite became confused.
“You’re not going because you love the princess?”
“You see, I already happen to know where the really beautiful women are in this world.”
Sarandite, who became surprised for a moment, became even more confused.
“Those women? Then what’s the princess going to do after you kill Landeceliam?”
“Well, that’s up to the princess.”
“What about you?”
“I would take some shiny stuff from Esoril to give as a gift for those lovely women.”
Sarandite, in a daze, thought about the ending of story that went like this: ‘After defeating the dragon, the knight went to the Red Light District and played to death.’ When she took a look at Dusburn Calparang from the side, she began to think that this ending was surprisingly logical and appropriate.
Landeceliam looked at Princess Narime with eyes filled with suspicion. Princess Narime, when faced with that gaze, couldn’t tell if she should act mad or not, and became confused. After all, that gaze the dragon was producing was caused by Jobin trying to convince the dragon that the princess was not tasty at all. Landeceliam spoke with a worried tone.
“Would the princess really be tasteless?”
“Of course. Living in a palace is like living in a pot. It’s possible to grow pretty flowers in a pot, but tasty fruits would always come from trees that endured hardships in the mountains.”
Landeceliam spoke a little defensively when faced with Jobin’s confident attitude.
“It is not possible for this one to find any flaws in this theory of yours, but this one is capable of testing the theory. It seems that this one would have to taste a part of the test subject in order to test the theory.”
The princess shouted nervously.
“Y-you’re going to take away a part of my limb to have a taste?”
“No. This one was thinking of having a taste of something like fingers, toes, or ears.”
Jobin quickly intervened.
“You musn’t. Doing that would be a mistake. Mm, so, think of it like this. What happens if the princess isn’t tasty? It would be best to just return her to her kingdom, for a price. But it would be only possible to get a high price for her if you returned her completely intact, right? Even someone like you wouldn’t pay full price for a damaged object. Actually, you probably wouldn’t want to pay even half the original price.”
Landeceliam showed a face full of conflict, one that could be recognised even by people who weren’t used to seeing a dragon’s expression. After thinking for quite some time, Landeceliam hunched down and approached the princess’s cage. He then began to sniff loudly. Princess Narime began hoping that she smelled awful, and when she realised what she was doing, became depressed. When Landeceliam lifted his head to say “She doesn’t smell too bad.” she actually felt a little happy.
Jobin refuted the dragon immediately.
“Have you never heard of perfume?”
Landeceliam couldn’t respond. While the dragon fell in deep thought, Jobin sent the princess several glances. The princess realised it was now her turn, and quickly straightened her voice.
“Come to think of it, this is really annoying, isn’t it? Who are you to say that I’m not tasty? You’re just a deerman. Doesn’t that mean you’re a deer who eats meat and drinks blood?
How disgusting. Perhaps the meat you eat is from a fellow deer. After all, we can’t be sure if you used the right to go into the Mineral forest for your own pleasure. You must taste like a piece of shit. I’m sure of it.”
Landeceliam looked at princess Narime with face that was something close to a mixture of bewilderment and sadness.
“But according to the reports from the Werewolves, deermen are…”
“I don’t know much about wolves, but I know quite a bit about dogs. The king’s dog handler told me about them. Dogs apparently eat up their own vomit, and like to rub leftovers on their body. Apparently they like the rotting smell. Also, from what I’ve heard, dogs are like cousins to wolves. Can’t you imagine just what kind of foods werewolves would be attracted to?”
Honestly, this was a big gamble. Both Jobin and princess Narime didn’t know what kind of food the dragon enjoyed eating. Perhaps the dragon actually liked rotten meat. But the princess and Jobin both hypothesised that the dragon’s eating habits would be like a snake’s. After all, the dragon was still keeping them alive. That alone could be used as evidence to support their hypothesis. Princess Narime carefully observed the dragon’s reaction. When Landeceliam made a face of discomfort, she almost shouted out in joy.
“I have realised that I would have to do some more research before consuming you.”
Landeceliam dragged himself away like a depressed dog. When they became unable to hear Landeceliam’s footsteps in the distance, Jobin sighed in relief.
“So my prediction was correct. If he was someone who didn’t care about the taste of his food, he wouldn’t have even kidnapped you in the first place. The fact that he works so hard to find good food should mean that he just doesn’t like bad food.”
“You’re right, Jobin. That’s what we call a gourmet.”
“So that’s why he’s so depressed right now. If we try to persuade him a little more, he’ll give up on eating us.”
Princess Narime wanted to dance when she heard of the possibility of leaving alive. Plus, this was done without the help of Sir Dusburn, which made her even happier.
“You’re my savior, Jobin! I’ll make you into a noble when we get back. You’d definitely be able to chase out that werewolf if you become a noble!”
“Thank you, but since we’re not actually out yet, let’s not celebrate too early.”
Jobin smiled as he spoke. He didn’t think much when he said this, but after a few hours, it became a sound criticism. Princess Narime looked downwards with sorrow when she realized that they weren’t freed yet.
Sarandite wasn’t sure if she got drunk without any alchohol or not. When she came back to her senses, she was somehow inside a giant building she never saw before in her life. She was in a place with bookshelves all around her, with a few tables and chairs in the middle. Was she in a library of some sort? Why?
She could remember a few things that happened prior to coming here. She could remember seeing Sir Dusburn smash a skeleton guard’s skull to pieces by throwing a rock, Sir Dusburn forcing her into the sewers, Sir Dusburn who looked even more like a monster than the countless others within the sewers…… Sir Dusburn more or less executed the monsters instead of fighting them, proceeded to tear open a giant monster’s stomach and take out a disgusting organ. He then tore it open with his teeth, and sprayed the liquid inside the organ onto Sarandite.
“If we smell like this thing here, the small fry won’t bother us anymore.”
Sarandite was almost about to go crazy. She was pretty sure that organ was a bladder, but she couldn’t bring herself to confirm it.
“What is all this?”
“You know how there are various pests in a person’s house, like rats and roaches? This basically where they live in Esoril.”
“No, what I’m saying is, what’s going on here? I didn’t even think about something like this happening. Wouldn’t a knight who fights a dragon come to the main entrance of the dragon’s lair, and fight it head-on? This is more like, well, is this how chivalry even works?”
“No, this is a rescue mission.”
Rescue. Sarandite came back to her senses. Right, this was a rescue mission. I came here to rescue Jobin with Sir Dusburn. Then this would be Esoril’s library. Why is he annoyed, then?
“We came through the sewers partly because we could sneak into Esoril quietly this way, but also because I thought the sewers would most likely be connected to the storehouse or the kitchen. But since libraries are usually placed at the driest area in the whole house, we’re probably some ways off the kitchen or the storehouse. But then the people we’re trying to rescue should be held there.”
When Sarandite heard the words “storehouse” and “kitchen”, she paled. She grabbed onto Sir Dusburn’s wrist tightly with her hands. Sir Dusburn, who was just about to shake her hands off his arm, found a large jewel and an open book on a table. After looking through the open page for a while, he grinned.
“Moonstone……. confirm……. so that’s what he did to Jobin. Good. It’s your turn now.”
“It’s time for your animal instincts to reveal itself. You know Jobin’s smell, right?”
Sarandite herself kind of realized that her mental state wasn’t very stable at the moment. Sir Dusburn began to compare her to the likes of poultry and shellfish in order to rile her up, and then handed her a white jewel.
Sarandite felt her boiling blood go cold as soon as she felt something familiar. Well, to be truthful, the jewel actually made her blood boil violently.
Her limbs began to shake as her nose and mouth began to stretch outwards. When Sarandite realized that she was beginning to transform, she screamed and covered her eyes with her hands.
“No! I can’t show myself like this to Jobin!”
Sir Dusburn took away the jewel. Sarandite spoke up all the while covering her face.
“I’m sorry. I wasn’t lying when I said I’d help. I was honest. But I really don’t want to become a wolf. I want to be a human in front of Jobin.”
“Darn it, this isn’t the moon. It’s moonstone. You don’t transform completely with this.”
“Yeah. You’re sense of smell and hearing gets heightened, and it stops there. You’re still speaking like a human, right?”
“I’m talking like a human right now? Like a real person?”
“Of course. After all, the only thing that can be shameful of oneself is a human.”
After a long time of persuasion, Sarandite removed her hands from her face. Then she waited to see how Sir Dusburn reacted to her snout and her black nose, along with her now-furry face. Sir Dusburn spoke.
“You didn’t even change that much. Can you find your lover like that?”
Sarandite tried taking in a deep breath. The stench that filled her lungs made her feel like throwing up. It reminded her of all the things Sir Dusburn did to her so far, which made her throat fill up to the brim with insults. Right then, she smelled something familiar. Sir Dusburn, who noticed Sarandite’s complexion brightening, nodded.
“Landeceliam should have that guy’s smell on him too, so if we aren’t careful, we might walk into him. Focus on your hearing as well.”
“Right, I’ll do that.”
Sarandite focused. After a while, she stuck her tongue out and began to huff.
“I think I found him! I think we’re almost…….”
“Lead on, then.”
“But what if it’s Landeceliam, like you said…….”
Sarandite shot out like an arrow. Once she began moving, she was like a solitary wolf chasing her prey. Sir Dusburn followed behind without falling behind at all, despite his chubby appearance.
Because Sarandite was a wolf, but a human at the same time, she was unable to experience running in a wolf pack. Sarandite wanted to experience it. The feeling that Landeceliam might appear in front of them at any moment made her even more agitated. Sarandite even felt like howling.
Thankfully, the ones that appeared in front of them weren’t Landeceliam. Instead, they were greeted by two large birdcages suspended in air. From one of the cages, the princess Narime spoke out in confusion.
Sir Dusburn smiled.
“Good, you can still see me? What do I look like?”
“Stop it. I can tell your Sir Dusburn just from the smell. Looks like you haven’t changed at all.”
Sarandite felt that she had to defend Sir Dusburn about his smell. But Sir Dusburn kept talking without minding the princess’ insult.
“Right. The real Dusburn Calparang has come. You may command my services. Ah, this lady here is Sarandite.”
Princess Narime was about to say that all she could see was a man with a pointed mouth instead of a woman. But she realized that the woman was crossdressed, and the woman’s mouth was those of a wolf’s. Sarandite quickly tried to defend herself.
“Jobin, I’m here. I was worried to death for you. I’m like this because of the Moonstone. I was trying to follow you by smell…….”
Sir Dusburn poked in.
“So that guy who’d get sick just by yawning is the guy that becomes a good steak ingredient once every month?”
Sarandite looked at Sir Dusburn with a disgusted face, but Sir Dusburn just ignored her.
“We need some kind of a rope. Just tie it over there and…….”
Sir Dusburn tilted his head in confusion. Princess Narime spoke again with a pale face filled with determination.
“Go back, Sir Dusburn.”
“I heard this was an abduction. So you were actually running away from your home?”
“I have no desire to become your trophy.”
Sir Dusburn frowned. He poked out his bottom lip a little as he carefully inspected Princess Narime.
“Hm, choosing between becoming a living trophy or a dragon’s excrement… of course anyone would choose the second option.”
Princess Narime, whose face turned red from anger, spoke with a trembling voice.
“I thank you for giving me a wise commentary about my future. But you need not worry. After all, we managed to convince the dragon to let us go with that man you just insulted.”
Princess Narime explained what had happened before Sir Dusburn had arrived. Sir Dusburn listened to all this with a dumbfounded expression. The princess spoke out with pride.
“And we’re going to get out of this place with Landeceliam bidding us farewell. With Jobin. So you should just leave us be.”
Sarandite snapped at the princess.
“Jobin’s going to leave with me, princess.”
Princess Narime’s face darkened. Sarandite couldn’t understand the sympathetic face that the princess had made, but it made her angry.
“Landeceliam wouldn’t want all his work to be for naught, would he? At least you have your father who can pay for your ransom. But Jobin doesn’t have someone like that. How do you know Landeceliam isn’t going to give Jobin away to a werewolf or a wizard?”
“I understand your concerns. But since my father is going to pay ransom for the both of us, there’s no need for you to worry.”
Sarandite, who unintentionally became someone who pressured the princess to pay for Jobin’s ransom because of the princess’ answer, stopped talking. She soon became enraged.
“You’re speaking nonsense! Trying to persuade a dragon to not eat you is like trying to persuade the sun to not be warm, or trying to persuade the winter to make a flower bloom. Landeceliam is just playing you a fool! Jobin needs to go out with me!”
Jobin opened his mouth for the first time since Sir Dusburn and Sarandite arrived.
“Sarandite, my beloved. Don’t you think you’re forgetting someone here?”
Sir Dusburn watched Sarandite’s anger fade away rapidly with interest. Sarandite stared at Jobin with a frightened face for a second, then clasped her hands together. Everyone could see that she was trying to gather up courage. She spoke.
“Jobin, would you go outside with me?”
“I refuse, Sarandite. As you know, the princess and I need to save ourselves.”
“You’re a very generous man, Jobin.” Sarandite ground her teeth. “But it seems you really don’t listen to a person who did all kinds of things just for you. The master of this place brought you here, so if you exclude your impending fate, you were in no danger in any course of this event. Same goes for the princess who’s looking down on me from her cage now. How do you think I came here? If it wasn’t for the knight over here with me, I’d have died multiple times. I’m not trying to make myself look good or anything. After all, I did all this voluntarily. But isn’t it too cruel if you just stay here with the princess,who did nothing but say things that you told her to say?”
Princess Narime felt insulted by Sarandite’s speech.
“How could you……. why should he go with you, then? It’s the same as moving from a frying pan to a pot!”
Sarandite, who had thought of the princess to have quite a strange behavior from a while back, finally realized why and turned pale.
“Jobin, after we met, was there ever a time where I tried to hurt you? Don’t you remember me fighting off my own kin just for your sake?”
Jobin ground his teeth. Sir Dusburn, who had been observing all this quietly, spoke out gruffly.
“Hmm. You must’ve seen quite a sight.”
“Were you scared of me? Jobin? Did I look like a monster to you? So you think I’m more likely to eat you compared to a dragon? Does that even make sense to you?”
“I’m sorry, Sarandite.”
Sarandite buried herself in Sir Dusburn’s chest and sobbed sorrowfully.
Princess Narime felt a bit appalled. But this wasn’t caused because she saw an act of affection between Sarandite and Sir Dusburn. It was because Sarandite was acting so unreserved towards Sir Dusburn. Sir Dusburn wasn’t really responding in a way a human should to a sorrowful person, however.
“Do you have a death wish?”
Sarandite just responded by crying louder. Sir Dusburn looked at her with a face that implied that he wanted to throw her off him, but he just grabbed her arms and pushed her away from himself. Sarandite looked at Sir Dusburn with a teary face, and spoke out to him weakly.
“I just got rejected, you know?”
“So? What do you want me to do?”
“You should try to comfort me.”
“The only thing I owe you is an advice. I never owed you anything like comforting someone.”
“Then I’ll loan one from you. I’ll pay it back soon enough. Just comfort me somehow.”
Sarandite stuck out her tongue as she walked towards Sir Dusburn. It was almost as if she was trying to lick Sir Dusburn’s mouth. But Sir Dusburn quickly stuck out his hand and blocked Sarandite’s tongue. Sarandite, who managed to lick an iron gauntlet, panicked and moved away.
“You told me that we should be a bother to each other! So I can’t even be allowed to bother you this much?”
“I stopped you because we have to be a bother to each other.”
Sir Dusburn turned his head towards Sarandite, and spoke his mind.
“It’s not a bad method to bother someone. Heck, it’s actually enjoyable, but it’s a bad method.”
“Yes. Bad. Being comforted at a cheap price makes your sadness equally cheap. If you rely on something like that, you’d have nothing left in life.”
Sarandite asked how something like affection towards another person could ever be cheap. Sir Dusburn shrugged.
“It wouldn’t have mattered who you did it on. Of course it would be bad if it was something like that.”
Sir Dusburn waved her away, and spoke to the princess who had a curious look on her face.
“I understand what you are trying to do. Do you have any messages for your father?”
“What? Eh, I’m going to go tell him what I want myself!”
“I hope it turns out that way. Do you have any messages for Molip?”
“Molip. Georip’s son. That little youngster came to me before I left with a red face, and spoke to me in almost a threatening manner. I’m going to kill you, he said. Told me that since I was the only person who could save you, his savior, he was going to let me live for the time being. I really couldn’t look at him with a straight face. Well, since the only thing he knew at that age was to be full of himself, I let him off. Do you have anything to say to that arrogant child?”
Princess Narime didn’t know why Molip would think of her as his savior. But then she remembered how she ordered her servants to send off Georip’s head back to his family out of disgust after seeing it. ‘Aha, so that’s why…….’
The princess became shocked, and responded to Sir Dusburn in a daze.
“Please thank him for worrying so much about me.”
Sir Dusburn nodded, and stretched his hand over to Sarandite. Since Sarandite had been dragged around countless times by him, she automatically grabbed Sir Dusburn’s hand all the while looking at Jobin. Even the sight of her being dragged away by Sir Dusburn seemed natural.
The two soon disappeared.
Princess Narime felt that she should’ve been feeling victorious. After all, she just spoke her mind at Sir Dusburn, and made him accept her desires. But she just felt a sense of emptiness in her mind. And that started to turn into regret.
The princess felt that she would be getting a headache sooner or later because of this.
Jobin spoke to her in a curious voice.
“Georip was that traitor who got executed last year, right? I heard Sir Dusburn swept through the rebel army and killed that person himself. So how would you be the savior of a traitor’s son?”
“He gave away his trophy.”
“He gave away his trophy to me. That’ why……. that’s why I was able to do a good deed with something that wasn’t even mine. Georip’s head should’ve been left out to rot, but I gave it away to his family. I thought Sir Dusburn had just given me a disgusting and cruel gift…. No. That gift was cruel. Even insulting. But……. if he just gave it to me knowing that I’d give it to Georip’s family……. His gift wasn’t that severed head, but…….”
Jobin spoke with a voice filled with disgust.
“Severed head? Calling it a trophy seems quite discomforting.”
“You’re right, but Sir Dusburn is a warrior. You’re right, but……..”
Princess Narime didn’t want to talk anymore. She got on her knees and fell to deep thought. Jobin didn’t talk either, since the atmosphere of the place wasn’t one for much conversation. They didn’t say anything until Landeceliam came back.
“After much thought, I reached a satisfactory decision.”
The joy contained within the dragon’s voice was contagious. Princess Narime and Jobin both looked at Landeceliam with a bright face. Landeceliam spoke out with confidence.
“After thinking much about how I should deal with you, I became hungry. There is no better spice than hunger itself. As I thought, giving something deep thought always brings out satisfactory results, does it not?”
Sarandite spoke to Sir Dusburn as she was being dragged away.
“Why didn’t you tell her? That you had no intention of marrying her? That you weren’t even interested in having her?”
“Why should I? She’d have said it was a lie.”
“She might’ve believed you. Instead of doing something stupid like trying to persuade that dragon.”
“I don’t think she would, but if she did believe me, what would happen to Jobin? It seemed that the two were trying to denigrate each other to survive.”
Sarandite almost cried again when she heard the name Jobin. She quickly asked another question.
“Would it work? I never heard of anyone managing to persuade a dragon in my life.”
“I never did, either. But there’s always that thing called ‘first time’. Tch.”
“What if they fail? What are you going to tell the king? A knight has to be loyal to the king, right?”
“You don’t need to know about that.”
“I have to be a bother to you, remember?”
Sir Dusburn stopped walking. He let go of Sarandite’s hand and looked at her with an unhappy face. Sarandite’s voice was sharp, and her face seemed like it could burst into tears at any moment.
“Thank you for before.”
“Acting like you cared……. I didn’t realize it before……..”
“You were just saying that as an excuse. You didn’t like really wolves, did you? I don’t know why I crossdressed. It was dumb. It wasn’t like Dusburn Calparang would even rape me or anything.”
“You’re being quite depressing right now.”
Sir Dusburn sounded depressed. Depressed enough to make Sarandite stop talking completely. Sir Dusburn put his hands on his waist, looked down, and started talking.
“Look, it’s not like you become someone no one likes just because one guy rejected you. Actually, that wasn’t even a rejection. That cowardly idiot was just scared. Rejection is different from running away.”
Sarandite didn’t say anything other than breathe loudly. Sir Dusburn spat on the ground, and spoke some more.
“Herum better buy me some drinks when I get back, tch.”
“She’s a girl who became a ‘saint’ because of her poor father and the priestesses of Palbino who needed a saint at the time who both reached an agreement. The priestesses said that there was a falling star that marked the coming of the saint or something, but it’s just some nonsense they made up. Because of that, the girl got trapped inside a temple with a bunch of grannies for life. I wouldn’t have done anything if the girl was fine with it, but she wasn’t. She wanted to see the world, meet some men, and if she had time, meet her father who sold her away. To beat him up. She really wanted to beat up her father.”
Sarandite stuck out her tongue without realizing it.
“If I took her out the normal way, she’d get chased by the people of the temple, and even if she manages to get away, some other girl would meet her fate. So I used by head a little. I told those grannies that I raped her. If it’s me, the violent Dusburn Calparang, it was entirely possible. Don’t you think so, too? Those guys believed me, too. Thanks to that, the girl was able to leave the temple with blessings from the priestesses. And since I basically insulted the temple by ‘raping’ Herum, the priestesses of Palbino would have to take revenge on me before taking in a new saint. Something like purifying the holy status or something like that.”
Sarandite became extremely surprised. It was because she just thought of something really hard to believe. She looked over Dusburn Calparang once, and spoke with a voice filled with suspicion.
“Are you actually a ‘good guy’? The friend of all women?”
Sir Dusburn responded with a sullen voice.
“Oh my god.”
“Wait, are you deciding something about me with my consent here?”
Sarandite had a huge grin on her face.
“Oh my god. Dusburn Calparang……. That’s why he just stepped back. He doesn’t have the talent to barge into a conversation. He’s just naturally like that……”
Sarandite trembled violently. Sir Dusburn, who was watching with a distressed face, scratched his cheeks.
“Stop saying such nonsense. Anyways, don’t tell anyone about what I told you just now. If those guys at the Palbino church gets wind of this, Herum would get in a lot of trouble.”
Sarandite responded with a smile.
“So why’d you tell me, then?”
“I didn’t want to see you hate yourself just because of that little bastard. Especially someone brave enough to walk into a dragon’s lair just to save a lover.”
“Aha, so you are a good guy…….”
Sarandite didn’t stop. She kept talking with a playful expression on her face.
“You’re the one who should stop. Bad boys are the ones who win all the time.”
Sir Dusburn was about to shout at her, but then saw traces of pain hidden inside Sarandite’s bright smile. After thinking for a while, Sir Dusburn responded.
“I paid you back.”
Princess Narime was in immense fear, so much that it almost made her feel pain. It wasn’t a type of fear that concerned her life, however. Princess Narime felt the fear of death on her body, but the fear that impacted her mind was a different kind of fear. The princess took a look at Jobin, who was caged in a different cage than hers.
Jobin looked back at her. He could see resentment and regret in her eyes. A sense of responsibility that had scrunched up in his mind due to fear flared up.
I need to save the princess. She trusted me. She didn’t leave with Sir Dusburn because of me.
Food gets tasty if you’re hungry?
“Thinking deeply for a long time is good, Landeceliam. But there’s also something called unexpected luck.”
“I know. So?”
“Even if you’re hungry, you’d rather eat something tasty, right?”
“What do you mean?”
Princess Narime made a choking sound. Jobin kept talking. It felt like the inside of his head was on fire.
“There’s someone else other than us in this castle.”
Princess Narime screamed.
Landeceliam looked at Jobin, then Princess Narime. The dragon soon surprised both of them. Landeceliam smiled, and spoke soothingly.
“Alright. So who are these ‘friends’ of yours? What are their names?”
Landeceliam’s joke was exactly the same as Sir Dusburn had described. It wasn’t very significant, but it made Princess Narime shut up because of the surprising coincidence. Jobin, on the other hand, spoke as fast as he could.
“I didn’t make up imaginary friends out of fear. There really are people here.”
“The only food this one brought into Esoril is you two.”
“They snuck in. To save us.”
“Right. And you’re still in front of me.”
“We rejected them. We thought you’d just let us go. We didn’t want to make unnecessary trouble. They really were here. It hasn’t even been that long since they left. It doesn’t hurt to check for a second. Why would I lie about something like this, anyway?”
“Makes sense. But why would people who I’m not even sure if they are real be tasty?”
“Because it’s a meaty man and a woman who had plenty of exercise. They’re an exact opposite of us.”
Princess Narime shouted out.
“Jobin! Stop! Sir Dusburn and Sarandite were just here to save us!”
Jobin bit his lip and avoided the Princess’ gaze. Landeceliam scratched his chin for a bit, then looked up. The dragon closed its eyes, then took a large breath. After a while, it opened its mouth with its eyes closed.
“I can smell them.”
Princess Narime gripped the bars of her cage hard enough to make her hands bleed. Landeceliam, who still had his eyes closed, spoke up.
“Calparang…… If I consider the information I had on my report, it would make sense. I should check.”
Landeceliam opened its eyes, and walked away. It didn’t even pay attention to Princess Narime’s shouts. Princess Narime, who wore out her throat, began to cough violently while hanging onto her cage. The princess, whose face became flushed, looked at Jobin while coughing. Jobin grit his teeth.
“At least we bought some time.”
“It’s Sir Dusburn. The invincible knight. No matter how little of a chance he has in winning, if a fight doesn’t even happen, that chance would disappear.”
“C, cough! You’re…….”
“We were about to die. We shouldn’t give up. We need to do anything we can to survive.”
Princess Narime‘s coughing fit came to a halt. It felt like she would get a bigger coughing fit in a while, but at least she was able to talk for a moment. She quickly spoke to Jobin in a hoarse voice.
Jobin’s face immediately turned pale.
Sir Dusburn lifted his pickaxe, which he was just using to lift the manhole cover on the ground.
“Huh, you commendable rascal. You’re doing your job as a master of your house right, eh? Yeah. You should always see your guests off when they’re leaving.”
Sarandite, who became frozen due to the immense footfalls, came back to her senses. Sir Dusburn took out the Moonstone he had put in his clothes.
“But since we’re unwelcome thieves here, we can’t really hope to get a nice farewell.”
Sir Dusburn threw the Moonstone to Sarandite.
“Get more like a werewolf.”
Sarandite quickly stared at the Moonstone. The stone was huge, enough to be the biggest of its kind, but it didn’t affect Sarandite by much. But Sarandite could feel some degree of strength come up in her body. Sir Dusburn skipped going over any details.
“Let’s try our best. Let’s go!”
Landeceliam could now clearly feel the foreign existence inside Esoril. It felt rage similar to that of a housewife that discovered bugs in her home. It focused on its rage. Since it’s been the first time the dragon experienced any sort of invasion after taking over Esoril, it invoked quite a bit over emotion to it. Soon, Landeceliam turned from a housewife to a hunter. And a dragon was the greatest hunter of all.
The reason why Landeceliam didn’t seal off the sewers of Esoril when it found the open manhole was because of its hunter’s instinct. It could figure out that the invaders came through the manhole, but didn’t go out that way instantly. It didn’t even need to take a whiff to confirm it. The castle itself, Esoril, was telling Landeceliam itself that the invaders were running towards the front gate.
Landeceliam thought that the decision the invaders made was quite logical. It would be good to use the sewers if they weren’t discovered, but if they were discovered, it was better to run as fast as possible. But that meant that the invaders were also running straight towards Landeceliam’s minions in the castle. Landeceliam shouted as loudly as possible, enough to make the whole of Esoril tremble.
“I, Landeceliam, command you to leave the invaders alone! I wish to consume clean, untainted meat!”
It was a logical command. After all, the minions of Landeceliam turned anything they found nearly inedible. At the same time, it was a command that was made to ensure the safety of the dragon’s minions. According to the information he had on Dusburn Calparang, the knight had enough power to turn anything he came across into something that no one could even bear looking at. But it didn’t change the fact that his command ultimately would help the invaders escape the castle. Landeceliam decided to use a shortcut.
Landeceliam ran like the wind. The stones raked by the dragon’s claws produced countless sparks. Landeceliam, who reached the balcony of the third floor in an instant, jumped down. The place where it landed was the entrance of Esoril. It quickly looked back.
What came into the dragon’s eyes was a fat man, and a skinny man.
Landeceliam was a bit confused at the fact that the ones in front of him weren’t man and a woman, but decided to confirm after capturing them. It swung its front leg, but soon pulled it back in confusion. Its paw was ripped open. The fat man had ripped it apart with surprising speed with his pickaxe.
Sir Dusburn spoke to Landeceliam, who was beginning to moan in pain.
“Oho, it just rips apart easily if I just position it right.”
Landeceliam, who had been licking its forepaw, spoke with displeasure.
“Unexpectedly, the food turned out to be quite thorny.”
Sir Dusburn grinned.
“Hey, maybe it was wrong for us to sneak into your home like it, but you shouldn’t have kidnapped someone either. Since we’re about to leave, just move aside. This woman over here got rejected, too. It wouldn’t be good for you to provoke her.”
Landeceliam was about to ask where the woman was. Then, the skinny man spoke with a female voice.
“And this knight over here plays around with women as much as possible and watches other men have fun with women. There’s no way he wouldn’t be strong. You shouldn’t touch him.”
Sir Dusburn growled, “You got rejected.”
Sarandite responded, “and you’re a good guy.”
Landeceliam butted in, “Main course and a snack.”
Sir Dusburn and Sarandite glared at Landeceliam with rage. Landeceliam stared back with a face indicating “what’s wrong about telling the truth?” Sir Dusburn scrunched up his eyes, and spoke.
“You fly, right?”
“So that’s why you’re a bird brain.”
Landeceliam was about to say that Sir Dusburn’s statement had a lot of faults in it. But Sir Dusburn didn’t wait for the dragon to respond.
“Watch your stupid mouth. First it’s something about food being thorny, and now main course and a snack? You should know what’s in front of you. Well, if you knew, you wouldn’t have blocked us like this in the first place.”
Landeceliam let out a big breath. Sir Dusburn, who had put his pickaxe down with a bent waist, kept talking.
“This is a warning. Move aside. Or else we’ll make you move by force.”
“Looks like you became too confident just because you managed to come all the way over here. But you two should know. You were only able to get this far thanks to me. It would’ve made sense to get out through the front door instead of the sewers, but it’s honestly a foolish attempt.”
“I don’t think so. After all, you can’t see the sky inside the sewers.”
“Yes, you rascal. The sky.”
Landeceliam subconsciously looked towards the sky. The west sky was purplish, filled with the remnants of the sun’s light. The east part of the sky had the moon rising up. It was a giant full moon.
Landeceliam knew that there would be a full moon today, since it was the day he decided to eat Jobin. But Landeceliam still became surprised when it saw the full moon. In that instant, a long howl resounded through the area.
Landeceliam’s breath turned blue. No, there was a blue light coming out from the inside. Smoke began to flow out of its mouth. Sarandite, who was standing behind Sir Dusburn all this time, was now a full grown wolf on two legs. Sir Dusburn wrapped his hands around his pickaxe, and spoke.
“I am the son of Ledom and Smiri, Dusburn Calparang. I am the count of Kashnep, and the knight of King Ghezal. And this lady here is Sarandite, from Minegol forest. You are?”
“How useless. I already know who you are. You should, too.”
Sir Dusburn’s eyes burned brightly, and Sarandite howled once more. Ooowho! Sir Dusburn thought that the howl sounded similar to a trumpet, and smiled. He spoke once more with a louder voice.
“I am the son of Ledom and Smiri, Dusburn Calparang! I am the count of Kashnep, and the knight of King Ghezal. And this lady here is Sarandite, from Minegol forest! You are?”
Landeceliam’s face turned doubtful. Sir Dusburn simply smiled, and decided to run forward.
“I am the son of Hibakanear and Begcheres, Landeceliam. I am the master and guardian of Esoril.”
Sir Dusburn, who was about to charge at the dragon, stopped. He stood back up, and hit the head of his pickaxe with his left hand.
“Dusburn Calparang and Sarandite challenges the master and guardian of Esoril, Landeceliam! We will conquer you, and leave this castle. Do you accept the challenge?”
Landeceliam’s giant wings spread out widely. The wings that seemed to be made of pure power squirmed as Landeceliam spoke.
“I, Landeceliam, accept the challenge of the count of Kashnep and the knight of king Ghezal, Dusburn Calparang, and Sarandite, from Minegol forest! You may not leave Esoril without defeating me!”
Princess Narime lost her senses due to the sounds that she was hearing. The castle itself didn’t even tremble, but the sounds like thunder that came from the distance made it feel like the whole place was about to crumble. She had decided to never look at Jobin again, but couldn’t help but to look at him for some comfort.
It was useless. What came into her eyes was a deer that was covering its head in fear. A little while ago, when the moon came up, Jobin’s head sprouted horns and his feet turned to hooves. Jobin used those hooves to beat the floor of the cage, and used his horns to strike the bars of the cage. His actions caused numerous sounds to come from his cage. But once the sounds of battle came from the other side of Esoril, Jobin dropped down on the ground. He covered his ears and began shouting, “Mii–! Miiiiii–!” as he shook his head. Princess Narime couldn’t get a word into Jobin, who was trying to deny the world itself. The princess looked at him with a cold gaze, then turned back.
Soon, the sounds stopped completely.
Princess Narime felt goosebumps. She cleaned her ear with her fingers, then checked to see if the sound was gone once again… Esoril was quiet. It was proof that something had finally been decided, and that alone was horrifying. Princess Narime held onto the silence. She prayed that the silence would continue.
But the silence soon turned into Landeceliam.
The princess breathed quietly as she looked at the dragon approaching. The dragon was scary by itself, but its appearance with blood all over itself was just frightening. Jobin passed out when he saw the dragon approach. Landeceliam looked at Jobin with a degree of interest, then turned to Princess Narime.
Princess Narime’s mouth opened automatically.
“I’m not food.”
Landeceliam neither agreed nor denied her, and instead put its hand up towards her. Princess Narime moved back into the back of her cage. She gripped the steel bars behind her with all her strength, and shouted.
“I’m not food! I’m the daughter of King Ghezal, and the princess of this country, Narime Lylkadam Shrakim! No matter what you call me, what you will ultimately eat will be that!”
Landeceliam unhooked the cage the princess was in. Princess Narime didn’t move. Landeceliam moved back two steps, and spoke.
Princess Narime looked at the dragon with astonishment.
“Go. Your subordinates have told me to not touch you. Take anything inside this castle and leave.”
“A person who manages to get out of a dragon’s castle has the right to do so. That is the law of dragons. I wouldn’t be able to see you off because I’m so tired.”
The princess spoke with confusion.
“Why are you letting me go?”
“The one Calparang chose was you.”
“Calparang and Sarandite managed to defeat me and attained the right to leave the castle, and gained the right to take a single present with them. The one Calparang chose was you.”
Sir Dusburn won? Him and Sarandite?
Princess Narime was unable to understand what that meant, but felt joy. And thanks to that joy, she was able to understand what that meant, and was able to take it in as the truth. The invincible knight and the werewolf took down Landeceliam!
“Because of what you had told me, I asked Calparang if he was trying to take you away to take you as his wife. But he said that that was not what you had desired and asked me to just let you go. Since he didn’t personally come to take you away, I came to let you go despite being in pain. Go, take what you need as soon as possible.”
Princess Narime, who was in immense joy, almost didn’t understand what Landeceliam told her. She, who couldn’t bear to manage the happiness she was feeling at the moment, felt that she had to share the happiness with someone. That was when she realized that she was the only one who came down from the cage. She looked at Jobin’s cage, then back at Landeceliam. Landeceliam simply looked at her with a gaze that implied, “leave”. Princess Narime suddenly felt her excitement fade away. Sir Dusburn chose me. Then…….
“What did Sarandite choose?”
“That werewolf chose the biggest Moonstone I possessed.”
Princess Narime burst out laughing.
It really was a big laugh. Disregarding the time when she was an infant, it’s been the first time she laughed this much. The princess cried, kicked her legs in the air, and even managed to choke on her laughter. She only stopped laughing when Landeceliam began to tap his claw on the ground out of impatience. She spoke with a voice void of energy, but filled with determination.
“I’ll take Jobin.”
Landeceliam didn’t respond. But the dragon’s front leg lifted up and gripped Jobin’s cage. Landeceliam put down the cage, and kindly pulled out Jobin front the cage. Princess Narime, who had been giggling this whole time, asked a question that she had been holding in all this time.
“I told you that these people would be like that, didn’t I?”
Landeceliam didn’t respond. It just put down Jobin gently, and gestured with much dignity that it had run out of patience.
“Once this deerman wakes, tell him about the law of dragons and make him take……. where are you going!”
Princess Narime, who was walking away with a soft two-step, turned backwards.
“You told me to leave, right? I don’t even have a pocket big enough to fit a person. You’ll have to endure a lot of pain, but you’ll have to wait until that guy wakes up. I’ll be leaving then, bye!”
Princess Narime did a fancy spin turn, and walked away happily, leaving Landeceliam, who was in much pain.
The dragon’s castle. In its giant hallway, a small girl walked while dancing. The fancy dress she was wearing was a little burnt, and her braided hair was undone. But what she was wearing at this moment was the beautiful moonlight. The moonlight sometimes became her partner. She would lift her arms, hold hands with the moonlight, and dance……
Princess Narime, who was dancing and wearing the moonlight, arrived at the front gate. The traces of battle still remained. There were broken rocks everywhere, and the walls were stained with scratches and blood. The princess didn’t pay much attention to it, and danced her way out of Esoril.
The princess’ mouth opened a bit when she looked downwards. Two giant figures were walking down the mountain. It was Sir Dusburn, who had his pickaxe over his shoulder, and the werewolf that was supporting him. Sir Dusburn was singing a song that seemed to be quite full of swears and strange words, but since the voice singing it was hoarse, and the princess was far away from them, it was hard to recognize the lyrics. But Sarandite, who was right next to Sir Dusburn, could hear it quite well. She bluntly told Sir Dusburn how she felt about his song. Oooowho! Bark! Bark! Oowho! If anyone heard the evil dissonance coming from the two of them, anyone, even if they weren’t an artist, would cry for art that got shamed by Sarandite and Sir Dusburn.
Princess Narime, too, cried. But her tears weren’t flowing for the sake of art. Princess Narime wiped away her tears, and shouted towards the two of them. And she ran down the mountain.
The moon was exceptionally bright that night.