My mother―――Jibru just suddenly appeared before me.
I can’t make sense of it!
What on earth is happening?
Just think it through for a moment.
This place, after all, is a dungeon.
Unless you have something like a “Dungeon Altering Ability” like Tsumugi, there’s no way to burst through distances and suddenly appear from the surface to the deeper floors.
…Yet it shouldn’t be possible.
But here she is, right in front of me.
When our eyes meet, Jibru gives a slight smile.
When a dragon smiles, it looks like a villain’s face…
Even if it’s a tiny one.
Whether she’s real or fake doesn’t matter.
She’s unmistakably the real 『Divine Catastrophe Dragon King』 Jibru.
There’s just “something” about this small dragon before me that makes me feel that way.
She’s only about ten centimeters, the size of my finger, tilting her little head.
「What’s the matter, Earth? Why are you silent… Oh, I see.」
Hearing Jibru say that, I felt a sudden lightness, as if a heavy burden had been lifted.
My limbs move freely, and breathing becomes a lot easier.
It seems the same for all the other members.
「I’m sorry. It seems you were affected by my magical power and your bodies relaxed. Is this better? I’ve just reduced my magic to about one percent.」
Reduced her magic…?
Was the difficulty in breathing because of Jibru’s magic?
『…Huff…Huff… Lord Earth, are you alright?』
I get a thought transmission from Ann.
『Yeah, I’m fine. Just a bit… overwhelmed.』
『It seems everyone here feels the same…』
While we’re in confusion, Jibru looks around.
「There are some familiar faces. Elja… Othel, Robun. And then…」
Saying this, Jibru looks at Ann.
Her tiny eyes seem slightly wider.
「Could it be… Mýrus?」
While staring at Ann, Jibru speaks.
But soon after, Jibru shakes her head.
「…No, that can’t be. Are you her descendant? No wonder your magical aura felt familiar.」
She seems to be convinced about something on her own.
Is Ann reminiscent of someone Jibru knew?
「But… why are you here, Ms. Jibru?」
It’s Elja who speaks up, leaning on a table, looking intently at Jibru.
Elja and Jibru knew each other?
Well, they’re both Dragon Kings, maybe Gwyve had something to do with it.
「It’s been a long time, Elja. You’ve changed so much! You’ve truly become a beautiful and dignified Holy Dragon.」
「Huh? Really? Ehe… ehehehe…」
Elja blushes and fidgets, visibly flustered.
Such an easy target…
「―――But that’s not the point! Why are you here, Ms. Jibru?!」
She’s back on track.
「I came to see my child.」
「What do you mean?」
Elja tilts her head in confusion.
「Haven’t you heard from Gwyve? Earth is my child.」
Elja looks at me, and I nod in confirmation.
Elja, Ann, Othel, and Robun all shout in surprise.
「…Is that a big deal?」
Come to think of it, I’ve only told Elibel and Berg about this.
Tres, Tsumugi, and Pururu probably don’t even know about Jibru’s existence.
They’re all showing question marks.
Like me, their knowledge and common sense of this world is limited.
「….I think I remember Uncle Gwyve mentioning something about it… But I had completely forgotten… But it makes sense… given that other than Ms. Jibru, the Earth Dragons were extinct… but, but…」
Smoke starts to come out of Elja’s head.
Elja collapses with a thud.
Seems like the mind of the mischievous Holy Dragon has overheated from overthinking.
Oh gosh, this girl, always…
From out of nowhere, skeletons emerge, gently placing Elja on a stretcher and carrying her away.
Our skeletons really are on top of things.
「Fo-fo-fo, so that’s what happened…」
「I had thought he was an unusually special earth dragon, but who could have guessed he’s the offspring of the 『Divine Catastrophe Dragon King』? It all makes sense now.」
Othel and Robun glance at me with a knowing expression.
『…Is she Lord Earth’s mother?』
Ann says, her face a picture of stunned surprise as she shifts her gaze between Jibru and me.
Is it just me, or does she seem to tremble slightly from head to toe?
「So? You’ve traveled all this way to meet your son―――Earth?」
Elibel, who had been silent up to now, finally speaks up.
「And you are?」
「Elibel Löwenherz. I’m one of Earth’s loyal companions.」
At Elibel’s introduction, Jibru’s tail wags just a bit.
「Elibel… Ah, the sage from the Löwenherz House.」
「It’s an honor that my name etched in the 『Divine Calamity Dragon King’s』 memories.」
「Who on this continent wouldn’t know of you? I’ve had many conversations with your sister and Rias in the past.」
Elibel’s shoulders twitch at Jibru’s words.
「Is that so…」
Elibel and Jibru exchange intense glances.
「How did you manage to get here?」
「The earth is on my side. It lends me its power, and poses no barrier to me.」
「I see. Interesting. I’ll keep that in mind.」
For a moment, the flames in Elibel’s eye sockets flicker.
Elibel scratches her bone-white head, looking at everyone else.
Her fingers tap on the table as if pondering something.
「Earth, we will be stepping out for a bit.」
「You have a long-overdue reunion with your parent, don’t you? You surely have a lot to discuss. We’d only be in the way. Come on, everyone, let’s move.」
『Wait, Elibel! I’m not done yet―――』
Ann tries to resist but Elibel and Berg firmly restrain her, dragging her along.
Following them, the rest also rise, making their way out of the surveillance room.
Wait, are they leaving me alone?
The anxiety is palpable.
Don’t leave me by myself!
But then, a thought transmission from Elibel reaches me.
『―――We’ll be at the lab. I’ve instructed everyone else as well. We’ll be prepared to teleport instantly if anything happens. Don’t worry.』
『The other party is the ‘Divine Catastrophe Dragon King.’ I can’t explain more right now. She might be able to intercept our conversation.』
『Wait, what are you―――』
And just like that, she cuts off the connection.
But before she leaves, Elibel casts one last glance at me.
『Right… Oh! Earth, if you have something you want to say, now might be a good time. It’s a golden opportunity.』
She playfully taps my tail and, with the others, exits the surveillance room.
Now, it’s just Jibru and me.
In the heavy silence, Jibru finally speaks.
「You’re blessed with good companions.」
『Uh, thank you?』
I can’t help but switch to a more formal tone.
「Yes. Not just in terms of their abilities, but the way they prioritize and act for you. It’s rare to find such dedicated companions.」
I wouldn’t know; I don’t have anyone else to compare them to except Fáfnir’s.
「So, since I’ve come all this way, why don’t you tell me about yourself?」
Jibru prompts, nibbling on the magic stone snacks on the table.
Actually, the stones are so large, she seems to be doing more of a balancing act on top of them as he munches away.
It’s an odd sight.
「Any little detail is fine. I’ve heard some stories from Gwyve, but I still want to hear it directly from you. How you grew up in the Eld Desert, what you felt here, how you met your companions. Please share it with me.」
And just like that―――Jibru started asking questions, just like any mother would.
Can this person actually understand me?
Judging from what Elibel told me about the past, I was expecting someone… more intimidating.
You know, someone who’d be all, “Hyaha! Time to wipe out humanity!” or something.
After all, I heard this monster could destroy a country overnight and crack an entire continent.
So, I guess I’m a bit… underwhelmed?
I mean, recalling that wave of magical power earlier, it’s obvious this entity is extraordinary.
But there’s a weird disconnect between what she say and her presence.
Still, what’s this odd sensation I’ve been feeling?
『Um, you want me to talk about everything since my birth… right?』
「Yes, of course.」
For some reason, it feels less like I’m talking to a mother and more like I’m dealing with a business associate. It’s oddly formal.
So, I start narrating my life to Jibru.
There’s really nothing to hide.
What I’ve eaten.
How I met Ann and the others.
How I created my dungeon.
Of course, I leave out or gloss over some details I’d rather Jibru not know.
Jibru just listens throughout my narration, occasionally nodding and saying things like, “Is that so?” or “I see.”
It feels like ages since I’ve talked this much.
While I speak, I snack on magic stones and fruits.
『―――and that’s why my dungeon was destroyed, so I had to rebuild it from scratch.』
I wonder how long I’ve been talking?
All the magic stones and fruits I had for snacking are gone.
『And after that… everyone discussed it and eventually settled on the name Ann came up with for me.』
「Ann… Ah, the one who looks like a Mýrus? So she named you?」
『Yeah. That’s why I’m called Earth.』
As I continued speaking, my guard had considerably lowered.
Perhaps that’s why I finally blurt out a question that’s been nagging me for a long time.
In hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have.
『By the way…』
I lean in closer to Jibru, mustering up the courage to ask my question.
『I’ve always wondered… why did you leave me right after I was born?』
This has always bothered me.
When I hatched from the egg, no one was there with me.
It’s not like I’m complaining.
I had the knowledge and rationality from my previous world, so I managed just fine.
Although, I’m not sure if eating dirt to create dungeons is considered a “normal” life. But it worked for me.
So, I’m not saying I have complaints or that she should take care of things properly.
It’s just a simple question.
Why was my egg left alone in such a place?
「It was for your own good.」
Jibru replies without hesitation.
「For an earth dragon, the environment in which it’s born is crucial. The Eld Desert has fertile soil and abundant magic stones. If an earth dragon cannot survive without its parent’s help, then it wouldn’t last in this world. You are aware of the treatment earth dragons have received in this world, yes?」
Yes, I’m aware.
Earth Dragons were hunted down one after the other by humans for their valuable materials and because they were considered dangerous monsters.
Over a long, long time, all earth dragons, except for Jibru and me, became extinct.
At least, that’s what I’m hearing.
「I wanted you to become strong. An earth dragon who can survive without any help.」
So, leaving me in the Eld Desert was her version of kindness?
There’s a saying that a lion pushes its cubs into a deep valley to toughen them up.
Every parent probably wishes their child to grow strong.
But still, something feels off.
What’s this lingering unease in my chest?
It becomes clear when Jibru speaks again.
「Besides―――if you’d died in such conditions, then it simply meant that was all you were worth.」
The word alone has a flat, monotone ring to it.
Not the warm voice that felt like standing in sunlight just moments ago, but a cold, emotionless tone.
While I’m still in shock, Jibru says to me with a smile.
「But, in the end, you survived. You grew up strong and healthy. As a mother, I’m truly glad about that.」
Her voice is warm again, reassuring to anyone who hears it.
It’s a common phrase of a mother proud of her child’s growth.
Hearing that, I felt a chill, goosebumps forming on my skin.
Ah, I see.
That’s what it was.
After hearing Jibru’s words, I finally realized what the discomfort I’d been feeling was about.。
「Earth, there’s something I’d like to ask you.」
I jump slightly.
Damn, did she notice I’m shaken up?
My heart’s pounding like crazy, and my tail is twitching uncontrollably.
『What… do you mean?』
Whether or not she notices my distress, Jibru poses another question.
「Earth… are you satisfied with who you are now, with the present situation?」
「As an Earth Dragon, and as a Dragon King species, don’t you desire to climb even higher, to go even further than now?」
She looks up at me as she says this.
「If you wish for that, would you come with me? To my dwelling, the 『Stellar Vein Dungeon』.」
That’s the proposal Jibru offers me.
Meanwhile, at Elibel’s lab―――
There’s a palpable tension in the room.
Amidst the heavy and tense atmosphere, Ann speaks up.
『Elibel… can you repeat what you just said?』
「Of course, I’ll say it as many times as you need.」
At the center of this tension stands a lone skeleton.
Elibel, the flames in her eye sockets flickering, speaks,
「If my suspicions are correct… in the worst-case scenario, we’ll be directly confronting that dragon, the ‘Divine Catastrophe Dragon King’ Jibru. That’s why I said you should be prepared.」
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