Volume 4: Astilia’s Dragon
Chapter 1: The Strongest Onmyouji, Commissioned
Three months have passed since the tumultuous Teito Comprehensive Martial Arts Tournament.
Summer had arrived in this country.
The windows were open in my room in the dormitory.
I sat on my bed and ran my eyes over the letter that had arrived.
“Is it from someone from the mansion? Seika-sama.”
Yuki, who was sitting on my shoulder, looked down at the letter and asked me that.
She still couldn’t read the characters here yet.
“It’s from my father.”
“I think it’s a little strange for Seika-sama to call that young man ‘father’.”
“Don’t say that. I owe Blaze a debt of gratitude.”
Especially, getting a private room for aristocrats in the dormitory, for example.
I’m really grateful to be able to talk to Yuki and expand my conjuring arsenal.
Yuki says as if she has regained her composure.
“So, what was the content of the letter? Does he want you to show up for this vacation?”
As Yuki had said, the school had just started its summer vacation.
There was no point in going home and I didn’t want to make the long trip by horse-drawn carriage.
I’m used to the shaking now, but it is still tiring.
But the contents of this letter were not an invitation to return home.
I shook my head and replied.
“No. They want me to go and investigate dragons.”
I explain to Yuki, who looks doubtful.
“One of the empire’s member states is the kingdom of Astilia, and the former capital of Astilia is said to be a city where people and dragons live together. There’s a huge dragon nested in a nearby mountain, and the city is completely contained within its territory. In the past, the city’s residents were never attacked by the dragon. The dragon and its guards used to fight off thieves and enemy armies.”
Yuki answered with unusual interest.
“When you think about it, I’m a demon, living together with a human, so I guess that’s possible. So, what’s wrong with the dragon?”
“It’s been acting strangely lately.”
“What do you mean by strange?”
“They say it’s been attacking humans and sometimes livestock.”
Yuki makes a gesture as if twisting her head.
“….. it’s strange, though it seems normal to me. If a dragon is hungry, it’ll attack the fattest beast that’s around.”
“No, this monster is a lot like an animal, but it’s still an incarnation. As long as the magic of the land is sufficient, it should be able to survive without food, just like demons.”
From what I had read in various literatures, this seemed to be the case.
“The dragon of Astilia probably rarely attacked beasts before. It had never turned hostile toward humans. That’s probably why the city’s residents are so puzzled.”
Yuki gives a sloppy reply.
“But why is Seika-sama doing this research?”
“To put it simply, I’m checking to see if they’re keeping their beast under proper control.”
“The dragon is almost the most powerful monster in this world. If it were to fly toward us, the empire could suffer serious damage. That’s why I have to conduct a survey to check the area and determine the threat.”
“……Since when did Seika-sama become the errand boy for the bureaucrats?”
“I’m not. I’m just doing what Blaze asked me to do.”
“The investigation was not requested by the imperial bureaucracy, but by the senators of Astilia directly to my father. They must have decided that it would be better to commission the research mission themselves before they were pestered by the Imperial Diet. And they turned to my father, who is well known as a researcher.”
“Don’t they usually call politicians instead of researchers?”
“If you owe a politician a favor, he might demand a heavy quid pro quo later on in Congress. The governor stationed in Astilia wouldn’t like to have a political opponent come to his doorstep. In this respect, Father keeps his distance from politics and moreover, the report would be academically persuasive. It was convenient for him in more ways than one. He’s often in the capital for academic conferences, so it is easy for them to talk to him.”
“People’s political affairs are so bothersome, aren’t they ……?”
Yuki muttered as if exhausted.
In my previous life, I was not interested in politics and we never talked about this kind of thing.
By the way, if you read the thoughts of the Astilia side a little more.
They probably already have a solution to the dragon problem.
Otherwise, a request for an investigation would just be digging their own grave.
Then Yuki said something in a disappointed manner.
“But I still don’t understand why that young man is asking Seika-sama to do this kind of thing…. You’re just a student, right?”
“That’s …… surely because I was the only one with free time.”
“When you think about it, my father himself is very busy and Luft has his hands full learning the lord’s work. Grey is stuck in the garrison and all the relatives are busy with their own work and managing the estate. Meanwhile, I, a student, am on summer vacation. I have a month of free time and no sign of going back to my parents’ house.”
“Oh…… that’s the reason?”
“But it sounds good to hear him say ‘I entrusted it to my son, who is a very talented man. He is one of the top students in the school and has even won a martial arts competition’.”
It’s a little too good.
I think I’m going to have to tone it down a bit.
“So what are you going to do? If you want to live discreetly, I suggest you refuse this request.”
“No, I’ll go.”
Despite my thoughts on whether I should hold back or not, I immediately responded.
“I agree with you, but I wanted to see the rest of the country for myself. It’s much better than being told to go back to our territory. Also, I’m curious about the dragon.”
“Isn’t…. the last reason all that matters?”
Yuki said with half-lidded eyes.
“Seika-sama….. please moderate yourself.”
“I’m quite sure your hobby is fine, but don’t overdo it. Please refrain from spending three whole days in the basement, as you did in your previous life, immersed in experiments and then being mistaken for having disappeared and causing a fuss.”
“I know, I know.”
I replied with a wave of my hand.
It’s true that it’s kind of a hobby, but …… it’s quite a useful one.
“So I’m going to the Kingdom of Astilia for the rest of the summer.”
In the cafeteria at lunchtime.
I told Ifa, Amiyu, and Mabel, who were sitting at the same table.
“I’ve never seen a dragon either. Can I follow you?”
I replied in amazement to Amiyu, who said it in a normal way.
“What are you talking about? You were supposed to go back to your parents’ house tomorrow.”
“In my case, it’s close to Rodnea, so I can go home even in the spring.”
“Don’t say that. You should see your family when you can.”
“I don’t know if it’s heavy or light when you say it like that….. Well, I will. I’ve already asked for a carriage.”
Mabel raised a small hand.
“I don’t have any plans. I can carry heavy things, so I’ll handle the escort.”
She looks at me as if she wants to go.
It’s surprising to say the least…… but she seems to have brightened up and gotten used to school life recently, so maybe she’s feeling a little adventurous.
But I have to say.
“You have plans, don’t you?”
“Are you doing all your assignments? If you don’t keep up with your classes this semester, you’re going to have a lot of studying to do.”
“Eh! I’m working on it……”
I added to Mabel, who looked away from me with all her might.
“I wish you’d go home. Maybe your parents are waiting for you.”
“Hmmm……… I’ll do that then.”
I looked at Mabel, who nodded, and then turned my attention to Ifa, who seemed to be itching to do something.
“Ifa…… you want to come with me?”
“It’s going to be a long trip and it’s going to take you a lot of time off, so I’m not going to force you to come.”
“Eh! I’m coming! I thought you’d say no to me too.”
“I’m pretty sure they’ll let me bring at least one of my attendants.”
I felt a little sorry after I said that.
Ifa would be able to go home alone if I don’t go with her. I felt guilty for preventing her from seeing her father.
Still I wasn’t sure if she would be able to see her father when she returned home, since he was even busier than Blaze.
“So when are you leaving?”
“The day after tomorrow, according to the schedule.”
“That’s pretty fast.”
“It takes time to get around. We only have a month’s summer vacation, and we’re in a hurry.”
“Have you already arranged a carriage?”
“No. They’re going to arrange it for me.”
“The other side?”
“Yes. He’s a great man from Astilia.”
“He was just in the capital and he said he would stop by Rodnea on his way back. So we can go to Astilia with a convoy.”
Amiyu raised her eyebrows.
“They’re exaggerating a lot. If you take the highways, you shouldn’t have to worry about thieves or monsters.”
It’s true that even a caravan of merchants would only take a few guards if they are only going along the main roads as Amiyu said.
Imperial highways connecting distant cities are essentially military routes for the efficient movement of troops. Monsters are regularly eliminated for safety and wild thieves stay away.
This time, however, things were a little different.
“It can’t be helped. It’s his position.”
“The great man of Astilia is, in fact…..”
At that time, a murmur could be heard from the back of the cafeteria.
The loudest voice is heard talking.
“—-This is the place, isn’t it? Thank you for showing us around. However, it’s very simple. But if the building is so old, why not rebuild it?”
“I hope you don’t mind what I just said. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to…… Oh, he is? I appreciate it. That’s enough. Let’s just go on our own now, Rize….. hmm? What’s the matter? Why don’t you come quickly?”
A rustle and a presence approached me, and I turned around.
There was a boy in a luxurious formal dress.
He was in his late teens. His well-groomed appearance, coupled with his graceful demeanor, made it undeniable that he was of noble lineage.
She must have also served as a guard. The tall, pointy-eared subhuman woman standing by his side seemed to be a considerable user.
The cause of the commotion was obviously these two eye-catching people.
The boy opened his mouth with a smile at my dumbfounded look.
“Are you Sir Seika?”
I froze for a moment.
But then I regain my composure and stand up, smiling and speaking in the aristocratic honorifics.
“Yes I am. It’s my pleasure to meet you. You arrived earlier than expected, His Royal Highness Prince Cecilio Astilia.”
Behind me, I can hear the girls whispering.
“Did he just say prince?”
I say with a wry smile.
“I am sorry that this is a somewhat inappropriate place to receive His Highness, the first prince of the Kingdom of Astiria. Even I wouldn’t come here.”
“It’s all good. I forced the academy to show me around.”
The prince smiled pleasantly as he said this.
“It’s not urgent, but I wanted to take a look at the Imperial Academy of Magic on my way to see you. The students all seem to be excellent……. Oh, this is….!”
Prince Cecilio cut off.
His eyes were on Ifa, who was sitting next to me, looking very formal.
“What’s your …… name?”
“Eh? Uh…… I’m Ifa…..”
The prince kneeled down in front of the stiff Ifa, took the girl’s hand, and said with feverish eyes.
“How beautiful …… you are, will you come to my Hermitage Harem?”