A long time ago―――
It happened on a rainy day.
A woman is running, gasping for breath as if her life depends on it.
She looks awful.
Her secretary-like tight outfit is torn in several places, stained with blood.
The twisted staff she holds is also smeared with blood.
Clearly, she’s been in a fight.
Her eyes, reminiscent of a friendly cat, show no signs of composure.
Yet, she doesn’t slow down.
Finally, she reaches her destination – a mansion. With all her might, she pushes the door open.
Just inside the spacious entrance hall, a young girl stands.
She’s a beautiful girl, around fifteen or sixteen years old.
Dressed in black pajama-like clothes, wearing only a white robe over them.
Her piercing red eyes seem to see right through everything. Her long silver hair, reaching down to her waist, is tied up haphazardly, causing some parts to stick out as if she’d just gotten out of bed.
She too holds a twisted staff, also covered in blood.
Upon seeing the woman, the girl turns her gaze.
『…Oh? What’s the rush, Rias?』
Wiping the blood from her cheek, the girl speaks casually, as if nothing’s amiss.
The floor around her is a pool of blood.
Scattered about are remnants of what used to be people.
In the midst of all this, the girl smiles eerily.
Seeing the girl, the woman breathes a sigh of relief.
『Are you alright, Ms Elibel?』
『Of course. Who do you think you’re talking to?』
Elibel speaks as if it’s no big deal.
Her gaze drifts to the carnage, disappointment evident in her eyes.
『I hurried over as soon as I could… but it seems it’s already over.』
“Yeah, it is,” Elibel replies nonchalantly.
『I heard they were a cult trying to use forbidden magic to fuse human souls with golems. Turns out, they’re just a bunch of intellectuals with more bark than bite. Not much of a challenge.』
『Considering your power has reached the level of a Soul King-class, this is hardly a surprise. They’re no match for you.』
『I know, right? I’m as strong as the legendary heroes and demon kings, or so they say. But why do we have to do these grassroots missions?』
『We have no choice; it’s a request from the nation. Besides, we’re at war.』
『Ugh, it’s so bothersome…』
Elibel’s voice is tinged with exhaustion.
Elibel Löwenherz despises war.
Even with her immense power, she hates the wars she can’t stop.
Above all, she loathes how her magical inventions are used as instruments of death.
She didn’t make them for that.
She didn’t conceive them for that.
The war with the demons has been raging for three years now.
There’s no end in sight.
The never-ending war and an unattainable love life are slowly wearing her down.
Unable to find love, she takes her frustration out by crushing enemy organizations. But the war still doesn’t end. Because the war continues, she can’t find love, leading her to lash out at happy-looking couples she sees in the park. Rias and her sister end up apologizing to high-ranking officials, getting them both assigned to more missions as a form of bail. This vicious cycle is taking a toll on her mental state.
One might argue that there’s no connection between love and war, and most of this feels self-inflicted. But let’s put that aside for now.
Sighing, Elibel flips through some documents.
『Ugh… I’ve looked at their research data, and it’s nothing impressive. I thought of this stuff years ago. I mean, I didn’t pursue it because I didn’t want to end up in a complicated position like they did.』
『Your restraint, not acting on every idea, shows you’re still sane, my lady. That’s a relief.』
『Was that a compliment?』
『Not at all. I’m mocking you.』
Rias grins cheekily.
『Okay, I’ll buy that argument. Come out here, Rias.』
『Let’s get this over with, my lady. We should rid the world of this forbidden magic group quickly.』
『Hey, don’t just ignore me! Listen!』
Elibel scratches her head, looking a tad annoyed.
『Ah, speaking of which, Rias, I need your help.』
『…? With what?』
『One of the subjects they experimented on is still alive. I’d like to rescue him if possible.』
『Was it… a little child?』
Rias imagines “rescue” as a euphemism for something much darker, considering the girl before her.
No, she would probably commit a crime with that hand, and do it with glee.
But Elibel shakes her head.
『No, it’s an old man from the giant tribe. It seems he’s the only one they successfully fused with a golem. I’m curious about it. If he’s willing, I might even employ him.』
Rias breathes a sigh of relief.
It seems it was an unfounded concern.
She’s truly relieved, in many ways.
『That’s kind of you, Ms Elibel. Really… towards anyone.』
『What are you talking about? I just do what I want. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not bound by ethics or morality. If I’m not interested, I’d leave someone for dead.』
『Fufufu, right. So, where’s this subject?』
『Over here. What did he say his name was? Berg, I think. He’s in this lab over here――』
And so, the two of them walk through the pools of blood.
From outside a frame, “I” watch the scene unfold.
…What kind of dream is this?
Inside the frame, there’s no doubt; it’s an image of Elibel from her past.
And another woman.
It’s Rias, the one who had the air of a secretary about her.
What’s with this footage?
The two of them continue deeper into the lab.
Their steps halt in front of a specific research room.
They’re discussing the subject inside.
Could this be a memory from Elibel’s past?
I remember Elibel mentioning that when the magical bond between a master and their subordinate strengthens, they can influence each other’s thoughts. Is this a part of that?
But why am I having this dream?
If that’s true, then the dreams I have might also seep into their consciousness.
I’ve had some crazy dreams about mackerel miso, and although those have stopped recently, I still have a lot of strange ones.
Just recently, I dreamt I was an adventurer, dominating a dungeon. It was a rare dream where I was human again.
Even though I wanted to live as an Earth Dragon, maybe I still have some lingering attachments to my human life?
Inside the frame, Elibel is in front of a massive capsule, fiddling with some terminal.
…When is this dream going to end?
I’m getting hungry; I hope I wake up soon—
「—Wake up already, you damn useless dragon!」
Suddenly, a sharp pain jolts through my head.
It seems someone just kicked it.
I bolt upright, wiping away drool, and look in the direction of the kick.
A skeleton sage, with an indescribable expression (or lack thereof), stands there.
The flames in her eye sockets flicker with annoyance.
Huh? Why is she mad?
「…Get up this instant, you damn useless dragon. If you keep sleeping, I’ll process you for materials.」
『Why are you being so mean first thing in the morning!?』
Seeing my confusion, the flames in Elibel’s eye sockets grow even more irate.
「Just wake up. We need to talk.」
Her tone is unusually grave.
『…Did something serious happen?』
When I ask, Elibel sighs deeply and scratches her skull.
「It’s more than just ‘serious.’ Let’s say… it’s an issue that even I find incredibly annoying. Does that help you grasp the gravity?」
Isn’t that a massive pain?
My sleepiness disappears instantly.
「Totally. Can you look at this? It’s faster than explaining.」
Elibel waves her hand over me.
Ah, memory transmission.
Images start to flood my mind.
Is this… Elibel’s memory from yesterday?
She’s possessing a body… and this is the Zeroth Magic Research Institute.
There’s a plain-looking woman.
The Death Dragon Ouronus.
The method to revive him.
What’s needed for it.
The events Elibel witnessed at the Zeroth Magic Research Institute yesterday play out in my mind.
…What is this?
I’m sent a complicated mess that makes me want to pretend to sleep again.
「…Did you understand?」
『I wish I didn’t…』
I feel like crying.
What even is this?
This is too much, just a day after yesterday.
I almost died yesterday, overwhelmed by the awakened power of the Celestial Dragon.
And the day before, Jibru showed up.
Why are these crazy events happening one after the other?
Ever since the Continental Congress began, it’s been one problem after another.
The first day, Jibru arrives. The second day, the Celestial Dragon. And today, the Death Dragon?
Yeah, yeah, got it.
—— DON’T MESS WITH ME!
I can’t just accept all of this.
It’s too heavy; I can’t digest it!
What’s going on with my luck?!
Is the Jibru lineage cursed…?
It’s like I’m a magnet for trouble.
I scratch my head vigorously.
A patch of skin peels off.
Oh, it’s shedding.
It seems I’m shedding again.
I feel like I’ve been shedding a lot lately, whenever I deal with problematic stuff…
Ugh, I hate this.
There’s so much I want to point out, but for now, let’s face reality. Yeah.
When I lift my head, Elibel’s gaze meets mine.
It looks like she’s been waiting for me to calm down.
『Uh, not really…』
「So, any questions?」
『Huh? Aren’t you brushing over things a bit?』
Well, I guess it’s okay… I’ve calmed down quite a bit.
Firstly, I’m curious about this method of reviving the so-called Death Dragon.
The way Elibel heard it, to resurrect the dragon―――
『…Hey, what do you mean by using a ‘dungeon’ as a ‘vessel’ for Death Dragon Ouronus to revive?』
Elibel nods in response.
「Exactly as it sounds. Apparently, Death Dragon Ouronus can be revived by using a powerful dungeon of the Eight Great Dungeons caliber as its vessel.」
Ah, the Eight Great Dungeons. That brings back memories.
When I first created a dungeon, those were the eight massive, unexplored dungeons I referenced.
Like Elibel’s “Labyrinth of the Sage” and the Fáfnir in the Hà Giang Empire.
Though now, both have merged with my dungeon.
There are others, like the “Labyrinth of the Emperor Beast”, teeming with powerful monsters, and the teleportation type “Grüneburg Maze” similar to Elibel’s dungeon.
I’ve learned a lot from them.
…Well, the jerk Wald destroyed them.
『Wait, can you really use a dungeon as a vessel?』
「Well, it’s not an impossible idea. You know about embedding souls into objects, right?」
I tilt my head, prompting a sigh of exasperation from Elibel.
「You really… Remember Berg and Senju? Both had their souls embedded into golems, right? Though in Berg’s case, it was his original body, and Senju eventually went berserk.」
Oh right, now that she mentions it.
If you think about it that way, the idea of reviving by using a dungeon as a vessel isn’t implausible.
I mean, most of the Dragon King species, like Jibru and the Celestial Dragon, seem to defy common sense anyway.
Just the awakening of the Celestial Dragon nearly killed me by overpowering my magical power.
「A powerful dungeon is a massive concentration of magical power. As a vessel for a soul, there might not be anything better.」
『Wait, but then what happens to the soul you’re trying to embed? From the story you showed me, isn’t the Death Dragon sealed away somewhere?』
「…Did you actually watch my memory?」
Elibel sighs, looking exasperated.
Sorry, I skimmed through it.
『To be precise, only the ‘body’ of the Dead Dragon is sealed. The soul is separate. According to that damned old witch, Rias apparently possesses the ‘soul’ of Death Dragon Ouronus. The story goes she was looking for a powerful dungeon that could serve as a new body for it…」
Elibel seems deep in thought, pausing midsentence.
『By the way, can we trust that… Léna-Lloyd guy? She seems a bit sketchy.』
Although it might be rude to say, she screams suspicious.
But Elibel, with a tone close to conviction, declares,
「You can trust the information itself. That damned old hag, when it comes to these matters, she never lies to me. …Though she might omit things intentionally.」
Ah, I had the same thought.
From the memories she showed me, that Léna-Lloyd woman had this unapproachable vibe, as if she knew things but deliberately chose not to share.
And that tone, that attitude… I swear I’ve seen it somewhere before…
「First off, if you want to use a dungeon as a vessel, you’d have to delve deep inside it. If it’s our dungeon, unless they’re at least in the middle layer’s final area or deeper, they shouldn’t be able to just turn it into a vessel.」
But then Elibel adds,
「Still, it’s better to be cautious and prepared. I specialize in vessel spells, so let’s input a countermeasure in Gijie. I don’t know how effective it’ll be against the Dragon King species, but it’s better than doing nothing.」
I mean, there’s no way I can just relax knowing all this.
I worked hard on that dungeon. No way I’m letting anyone else use it.
「Plus, to use the dungeon as a vessel, they’d have to reach its deepest parts. So naturally, whether it’s Rias or her collaborators, they’d reveal themselves. And when that happens, we can just unleash all our forces on them before they get too deep.」
I nod in agreement with Elibel’s plan.
We have Ann, not to mention Gijie.
The monsters of the Yuguru Great Forest, a horde of golems, and more.
Unless it’s an awakened Dragon King species like Yamu, they won’t easily reach the depths.
Suddenly, I’m struck with a question.
『Hey, can I ask something?』
『About the woman you mentioned, Léna-Lloyd, right? Why do you call her an old hag?』
The image Elibel shared showed a woman who looked in her twenties.
Calling her an old hag seems a bit harsh.
Elibel gives me a “What are you talking about?” look.
「What do you mean? Sure, she looks young, but she’s been alive since my time. Calling her an old hag is totally accurate.」
『Oh, I see.』
So she’s at least two hundred years old.
I guess that explains the old hag comment.
『Wait, Elibel, by that logic, wouldn’t you also be quite an old la―― Ow!』
Before I could finish, Elibel smacks me across the face with her twisted staff.
「If you say any more, I’ll repurpose you, you piece of junk!」
Faced with a genuinely furious Elibel, I immediately bow in apology.
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