A day has passed since the commotion in the middle layer dungeon.
Yesterday was quite an eventful day.
So much happened that I can’t even count how many times I wished to escape reality.
And I have this gut feeling that today will be another one of those days.
Why? Because the first thing in the morning, I got a thought transmission from Elibel.
―――”Elja has woken up,” she informs.
Hearing that immediately sours my mood.
I even considered going back to bed.
But Elibel reassures me it’s okay. Apparently, Elja isn’t leaving the lab.
In fact, she’s actively collaborating with Elibel’s research. It seems Elibel whispered something to her.
I wonder… What did she say?
The thought scares me.
When I attempted to ask Elibel, she replied with a very serious tone, “Do you really want to know?”
Even Berg advised me, “It’s better not to know. Some things are best left unknown.”
I have a feeling Elibel fabricated some things about me.
That has to be it.
Especially since I’ve been banned from entering the lab for some time.
I’ve also been told that my reunion with Elja is a matter for the distant future.
Supposedly, they’ll introduce us at “the best possible moment.”
What does that even mean?
What on earth did she tell her?
From what I’ve gathered, Elja won’t harm the dungeon or my subordinates.
That’s Elibel’s personal opinion, but I agree.
Elja came here to meet me, after all.
She’s probably not that interested in the dungeon or its inhabitants.
I watch the lab’s surveillance feed.
There, projected on the screen, is Elja helping Elibel.
『Elibel, should I place these materials here?』
『Thanks! Next, let Berg draw some blood. Once that’s done, we’ll analyze the magic circuit.』
『Of course! Anything for Master Earth! Just let me know what you need!』
『Fufu. That’s the spirit! Now, please take off your clothes.』
『W-why do I need to undress for a blood test?』
Elibel rapidly gives instructions, and Elja obediently follows, all with a big smile.
Seriously, you don’t need to undress for a blood test!
That’s definitely Elibel’s personal desire at play.
And why is Elja so bashfully accepting it?
What did she really tell her?
On the monitor, Elja starts undressing.
With her dress-like clothing, Elibel assists from the back.
But why does Elibel seem to be drooling with heavy breaths on the monitor?
She’s a skeleton! She shouldn’t even have facial muscles or saliva.
Is her intense desire somehow affecting the feed?
Did she become a skeleton because of her excessive desires?
Soon enough, Elja stands bare, revealing a young yet developed figure.
Wait… Isn’t this basically voyeurism?
Even though I don’t get excited over human nudity as a dragon, this feels morally wrong.
I should turn it off.
It’s best not to watch any further.
I’ll send a thought transmission to Elibel, reminding her that her “research” is crossing the line.
『Hey, Elibel. I don’t mind the research, but tone down the harassment.』
『W-what? Earth, were you watching?』
Elibel raises a pretty upset voice, probably because my voice was unexpected.
『I saw enough. I don’t know what you told her, but don’t push it too far.』
『Fu, fufu…. She’s pretty easy to handle. And the medicine to turn you back will be ready soon.』
『Absolutely. So, can’t I have a little fun?』
『No. And Berg, if anything happens, you handle it.』
I’ve set Pururu’s clone to oversee, but I’ll rely on Berg as well.
“Leave it to me,” Berg says.
This should be fine.
Also, I learned that even in human form, dragons wear underwear.
Hers were white.
Or more accurately, it’s a bit unnerving how she keeps saying, “It’s all for my beloved Earth.”
To meet with that…
I don’t really feel up for it.
I have this gut-wrenching feeling about it…
Why is she so obsessed with me anyway?
Maybe by dragon standards, I’m attractive?
Haha, that’d be the day.
But if we do meet, I’ll make sure she corrects herself about my golems. She had the audacity to call them filthy and ugly.
Those golems are the fruits of my labor.
Golems are great, really great.
It’s the one thing in my Earth Dragon life I can genuinely be proud of.
Anyway, things seem to be moving smoothly.
For now, I’ll leave Elja in Elibel’s hands.
Berg and Pururu will be monitoring Elibel.
Delegating is always the answer.
Ann and Una weren’t thrilled with how we were treating Elja, but they begrudgingly accepted the compromise that “if anything happens, we’ll immediately take her to the middle layers and deal with her.”
They’re totally out for blood.
Why are my subordinates so aggressive?
Regarding my mother, whom Gwyve spoke of, I’ve decided to hold off for now.
Since there isn’t much I can do from here, all I can do is wait.
Moreover, I haven’t really felt any emotional connection to the idea of a mother.
But I plan to ask Elibel about my mother later.
From the way Gwyve talked, it seemed Elibel might know something about my mother—Jibru.
Did Gwyve know about Elibel all along?
It wouldn’t be strange, considering he’s been alive for hundreds of years.
Though, Elibel seemed to have no recognition of him.
Come to think of it, the knowledge I got from Elibel didn’t mention a “Jibru.”
Did she just forget to include it on the tablet? Or was it not worth mentioning?
Or maybe… just maybe…
Well, never mind.
I’ll find out when I ask.
That sums up the current situation.
I have nothing to do.
Well, there’s plenty to do in reality, but nothing urgent. And with my current golem body, I can’t do much.
My main body is still in recovery inside the capsule.
Sure, there’s plenty like dungeon strengthening and merging with Fáfnir, but I can’t do it in this state.
With this body, I can’t make golems, and it’s oddly difficult to find magic stones.
Expanding the dungeon is also a challenge.
I can come up with ideas, though.
So, I have nothing to do.
It’s such a shame.
I really want to work.
But it can’t be helped. I’m pretty much an invalid right now.
Patients should rest and let others pamper them.
But not being able to find magic stones is tough.
Usually, I can just dig around, and they pop right up.
Why can’t I do that in this body?
Is it because my senses are slightly off?
So, I’ve decided to relax today.
I’ll escape reality for a bit.
To clear my mind, I prepare my fishing gear and head to the Great Forest beneath the Eld Desert.
It’s always a good time to escape from reality.
Meanwhile, at Elibel’s lab―――
Elibel suddenly stops her work.
「…I have this sudden urge to smack that idiot. I wonder why?」
For some reason, she feels irrationally angry.
It’s not because her “medical examination” of Elja―――which was thinly veiled harassment―――got interrupted.
It’s more like she’s here, working earnestly, and he’s just out there, carefree, without a care in the world.
Why is that?
「Nevermind. I should focus on the task at hand.」
With that thought, Elibel resumes her work on the potion to return Earth to his original form.
Just a bit more.
We are almost done.
Once it’s done, I’ll give Earth a good smack.
She doesn’t know why, but it feels like the right thing to do.
In the Great Forest beneath the Eld Desert―――
Bait attached, and with a gentle splash…
『Ah… it’s so peaceful…』
The only sounds are the rustling of the trees and the chirping of birds.
Occasionally, there’s Taran’s shout, followed by what seems to be the cry of some creature being preyed upon.
Right, better to pretend not to hear that last part.
Given the whirlwind of events from the previous day, this calm atmosphere is truly healing.
Ah, another bite.
That’s the third one today.
They’re biting quite a lot.
The fish I caught is a peculiar one. Imagine a fish that looks like a mix of a mackerel, squid, and a turban shell, with an overall length of about forty centimeters.
Despite its grotesque appearance, this fish—or should I say creature?—is the most delicious in this lake.
Especially when grilled.
The fat gives it an incredible flavor.
However, in my current state, it’s hard to appreciate its taste.
Such a shame.
I’ll give the fish to Tres and Pururu later.
I remove the hook from the fish’s mouth and place it inside the bucket I brought.
『Now, I wonder what I’ll catch next…』
While leisurely waiting for another bite, the teleportation gate behind me shines brightly.
It must be Tres and Pururu.
They said they’d come by later.
Fufufu, I’ll brag about today’s catch to them.
『Hey, you two took your time. Today, I managed to cat―――』
My words halt.
For it wasn’t Tres and Pururu who appeared.
Standing there is a young girl.
Green hair, a pristine white dress, and a parasol that screams ‘lady of high standing’.
Her emerald eyes are slightly moist, and her dress is just a bit disheveled.
The person behind me is none other than Elja, the Holy Dragon, who should’ve been in the laboratory.
Our eyes meet.
Unexpectedly and suddenly, Elja and I come face to face.
But… why is she here?
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