Elibel’s lab is a sight to behold, to say the least.
Equipment and chemicals scatter haphazardly. Documents, seeming hastily scribbled, are strewn everywhere on pieces of parchment.
And in the middle of all this chaos…
There sits Elibel Löwenherz, our Sage, on a chair.
However, she exudes an aura of obvious discontent.
「This isn’t healing at all… Seriously, what’s happening? I can’t believe even I, a genius, am struggling so much…」
She grips her head in frustration as soon as she opens her mouth.
『Huh? Wait, Elibel, what are you talking about?』
「Huh? Oh… Earth… When did you get here?」
She apparently hadn’t noticed my arrival.
Wait, weren’t you the one who called me here?
Her voice, though, speaks volumes about her exhaustion.
『I just got here. Your lab’s quite a mess, are you okay?』
「I don’t know what you mean by ‘okay’, but I’m fine, personally.」
That’s hard to believe from the look of her.
But then, Elibel says,
「The problem lies with your body…」
Scratching her bare head incessantly, Elibel looks troubled.
『My body… You’re having trouble with it?』
「That’s right. I’ve tried all sorts of things this past month, but your body won’t revert to its original state. Even the improved ‘Return X Max Heart!’ had no effect. I’ve tried several newly developed techniques, but none, absolutely none, have succeeded in restoring your body…」
『Are you serious…』
It seems this isn’t the time to be idle.
Sighing heavily, Elibel’s flame in her eye sockets flickers weakly.
Being undead, she shouldn’t tire, but it seems her spirit is wearing thin.
「For now, take a look at this.」
She fiddles with a brilliantly colored sphere, summoning something.
It’s a transparent tube, about thirty centimeters in diameter, with some sort of fluid inside, and floating in it, a piece of flesh.
『Uh, is that piece of flesh…?』
Nodding, Elibel confirms my suspicions.
「As you guessed, that’s a piece of your flesh. I’ve been conducting experiments using a section of your arm.」
I thought as much.
The flesh sample has metal-like bits stuck to its surface, a telltale sign.
But, seeing a piece of my own flesh is a bit unsettling.
「Can you tell where your body begins to turn into a weapon?」
『Huh? Well, the hardened metallic bits are the skin, and the flesh-like parts are the muscles, right?』
When I say this, Elibel shakes her head.
「No, all of this flesh sample has ‘turned into a weapon.’ That includes the part that still looks like flesh.」
『Are you serious?!』
To the naked eye, it seems only the skin part has turned into armor.
But in reality, including these muscle parts, my entire body has been weaponized…
Is it like reinforced fiber or something?
「That’s why it’s difficult… The boundary between the body and the weaponized parts has become so vague. I tried peeling off the weaponized parts of your body for a test. Just like this…」
Aren’t you saying something terrifying so casually?
「And what happened was… those parts healed in their ‘armed state.’ Do you understand what that means? Your body itself has started to recognize the ‘armed state’ as its normal state.」
『Wait, isn’t that dangerous?』
「It’s extremely dangerous. If this continues, you might grow while staying in your armed state.」
At Elibel’s words, I lose my ability to respond.
Grow while staying in that state, looking like a strategic weapon?
If I walk, will the ground crack? If I sit, will an earthquake occur? Will mountains shatter if I sneeze?
Surely, she’s joking…
I wouldn’t even be able to craft my beloved golems in that state…
I wouldn’t be able to touch Pururu.
I wouldn’t be able to experience that ultimate soothing sensation of her squishy touch…
And then there’s gardening, magic stone digging, and even weapon crafting. I might not be able to do any of these.
No, I definitely don’t want that!
I can’t accept this!
『Can’t you do something, Elibel? No, Miss Elibel! Please, I’m begging you!』
If bowing can help, then I’m more than willing to bow as many times as needed.
「I am trying to figure things out. It’s not all lost, Earth. There are other options at hand. You need to calm down.」
『Is that so?』
「Yes. For now, we wait for Una and Dos to return from the Holy Kingdom. Everything depends on that.」
『I-I see. I’m counting on you, Elibel. Seriously, you’re my only hope.』
With Elibel’s hand in mine, I plead earnestly.
Please, Sage, help me reclaim my old life.
Elibel doesn’t respond.
I glance at her, only to find her staring back blankly.
Is there something wrong?
Her gaze seems to be focused lower… directed at my gripped hand.
「Sigh~ Earth, could you let go of my hand, please? I can’t work like this.」
Flustered, I quickly release her hand.
「Anyway, the reason I called you today was to update you on your current condition. I’ve put all the detailed data into that sphere over there. Go through it when you have some free time.」
『I see, understood.』
I mean, I always have time.
「Also, regarding the merging of the dungeons, we’re at about fifty percent right now. Gijie and Tsumugi are working on it, and everything is going smoothly. In about a month, this dungeon, Fafnir’s dungeon, and the one I’ve created will all function as one.」
『Ah, I see.』
That’s good to know.
「I’ve put that data into the sphere too, so take a look when you can. Also, make sure to visit the other dungeon. Simply moving between dungeons has significant magical implications.」
「Then, that’s all I wanted to say. Sorry for calling you out. You may return now.」
After saying her piece, Elibel turns back to her desk, beginning to operate her brilliantly colored sphere again.
『Okay, I’ll be leaving then.』
I head toward the teleportation gate in the corner of the room.
Glancing around, I notice Berg, white as a sheet and completely spent.
He’s rowing an imaginary boat, half-smiling and murmuring, 「Uheee, heh, heh…」
How many nights has he stayed up working?
I really am sorry, Berg. This is all my fault.
『Uh… Elibel, you might have said earlier that you’re all right, but don’t forget to rest, okay? Overworking yourself to the point of breaking down is counterproductive.』
Elibel simply waves her hand in response.
Well, she’s undead, so fatigue is not really an issue, but…
Feeling bad for interrupting any further, I hurry through the teleportation gate and leave the laboratory.
Holding the brilliantly colored sphere in my hand, I contemplate.
『I need to pump myself up too.』
I slap my cheeks, pumping myself up.
Good, motivation check.
I’ll review the data later.
For now, maybe I should go fishing.
Just a bit of leisure before getting back to work.
Just a bit. Yeah, just a bit.
After Earth departs, the lab returns to its previous silence.
The only sound is the rhythmic tapping of Elibel’s spherical keyboard.
――――I’m counting on you, Elibel. You’re my only hope.
Earth’s words echo in her mind.
She halts her work for a moment, sinking back into the chair, and lets out a deep sigh.
「Honestly, that idiot…」
She moves her fingers gently, staring at her own hands, as if confirming the warmth that was there moments ago.
「I have no choice but to work hard… you… idiot…」
Elibel mumbles to no one in particular, then plunges back into her work, harnessing all her knowledge as a sage to restore Earth’s body and reclaim their mundane, yet cherished daily life with that foolish earth dragon.
Meanwhile, in the sky high above―――
A single white wyvern flies overhead.
A girl in a white dress, shading herself with a parasol, sits on the wyvern’s back.
The wyvern suppresses its magical power and presence as much as possible, yet anyone who saw the creature would be awestruck by its vast energy.
『…Are you sure it’s safe to leave? Did you truly receive permission from the king? Your kind serves as guardian dragons in the Harshalud Holy Kingdom. There are consequences for your actions as the Dragon King species. It should be problematic to leave the kingdom at all, shouldn’t it?』
「Of course, it’s fine! My mother gave her blessing! …As for my father, my mother said she would talk to him…」
The girl mutters the last part indistinctly.
『I hope it’s alright… but if you had permission, there’s no need to take a human form, right? It seems like you’re trying to avoid being seen―――』
「Um, about that, Uncle Gwyve! How long will it take to get to this Eld Desert?」
Cutting off Gwyve’s words, the parasol-holding girl hurries to ask her question.
『…Well, at this speed, we should be there in about two days.』
「I see… Ah, I can hardly wait! I just can’t wait!」
With visible restlessness, the girl fiddles with the parasol in her hands.
Her excitement is akin to a child unable to contain their thrill on the way to an amusement park.
Gwyve, the head of White Wyvern, watches her with an amused gaze.
『But it’s surprising. Even if he is that person son, for you to take an interest in a male dragon of another species, it’s a bit shocking, even to me.』
「Eh, is it really that surprising? I am of age after all, and… I have a certain interest in the opposite sex, you know?」
『But aren’t there many excellent dragons around you? Even if they’re not Dragon Kings, there are certainly admirable ones.』
「Those dragons are not even in the running! Compared to him, whom you showed me through the image, they are all insignificant! At the very least, he must be a Dragon King like me for there to be any discussion!」
『I, I see… Well, both of you are considered attractive among dragons…』
「That’s right! So, Uncle Gwyve! Please speed up! I want to meet him―I want to meet Master Earth as soon as possible!」
『I get it, I get it. So stop hitting my back… You’re going to peel off my scales.』
Sighing, Gwyve ponders what he’ll say to Earth and Ann…
Or rather, perhaps he should first explain to his flock and Heleb.
He has been away from the Eld Desert for nearly half a year, after all.
He’ll certainly be questioned about various things.
Especially from someone as persistent as Heleb.
Shaking his head, Gwyve decides,
『Well, let’s get going quickly to the familiar Eld Desert.』
Thus, the girl and the wyvern head towards the Eld Desert.
To the lazy dragon enjoying his fishing in the deep underground.
Even if Earth doesn’t wish for it, it seems that troubles have a way of finding their way to him.
August 2023 Patron: GoatBeards