Currently we’re in mid-air, thanks to the magic of ‘Fly’.
Before we go up, I need to give instructions to “them”.
「What are you doing?」
『Mm? I just sent a thought transmission to Una and Dos, asking them to keep an eye on Berg. I think they were in the middle of something, but they agreed.』
It’s smart. If left unchecked, the adventurers and knights on the ground might try to take him down.
With an S-Rank like Dos, it’d be easier to come up with an excuse if other adventurers or knights show up.
Thanks to taking down Joker’s main body, it seems Berg isn’t being drained by those black tentacles anymore. If the two of them watch over him, he’ll probably wake up eventually.
I would have liked to have been treated by Una, but I had to be patient.
If I’m not careful, they might suspect a connection between the two of us.
I guess Berg will be fine now.
I look over at Elibel, who wears a guilty expression.
Wait, what’s with that face?
「I’m sorry. I’ve made you worry.」
『…What do you mean?』
「Don’t play dumb. You asked them to help to keep me from wasting my magic, didn’t you?」
Was it that obvious?
She’s way too perceptive.
『That ‘Sanctuary Breach’… was it? It drains magic like crazy, am I right? So it’s better to conserve as much as possible.』
「True. It’s frustrating, like really. I’m really sorry, but I’m going to have to rely on you for now.」
『Just be honest about it.』
She huffily looks away.
She’s so stubborn.
Out of the corner of my eye, I catch Elibel’s appearance.
She looks as beautiful as she did when she was alive.
Not an undead.
『…But seriously, that spell is incredible. Returning your body to its living state… Why didn’t you use it before?』
「Oh, that? There are several reasons, but the main one is that it’s time-limited. Plus, it eats up an absurd amount of magic.」
Ah, I get it.
The moment Elibel used the spell, a huge amount of magic was consumed.
It took about forty percent of the total.
「I actually intended to use the reserve magic Berg had stored up. But if I did, the duration would be extremely short.」
「If I drained Berg’s magic to the absolute limit, maybe about two seconds.」
That’s too short.
「I’ve been careful with using it. Well, a big reason is that I was uncertain… And seriously, your magical power is just too ‘abnormal.’ It’s constantly increasing… Even if you take into account that you’re the son of the Divine Catastrophe Dragon King, something’s off with you.」
『That’s a pretty harsh way to put it… But really, that spell is impressive. What’s the principle behind it?』
「Hmm, I’m not sure you’d understand even if I explained the basic theory to you…」
She’s been pretty blunt since a while ago.
「Well, to put it simply, the ‘Sanctuary Breach’ can be thought of as an advanced version of the ‘Sanctuary Interference.’」
Saying this, Elibel switches to her encyclopedia mode.
I could swear she looks like she’s wearing glasses fit for a female teacher.
Glasses really suit her.
「First, a review. The ‘Sanctuary Interference’ is, as I mentioned before, a spell of “dominance” and “interference,” right?」
「Let’s say you have grapes in front of you. You could crush them into trash, or process them into jam or wine. That’s the “dominance” and “interference.” Got it?」
I nod in agreement.
「Next, the ‘Sanctuary Breach’ is a more advanced version of that. Specifically, it’s a spell that takes the ‘interference’ aspect to its limit. With ‘Sanctuary Interference’, you can only turn grapes into wine. But with the ‘Sanctuary Breach’, you can change wine back into grapes.」
That’s like interfering with causality or the event itself, isn’t it?
「However, the ‘Sanctuary Breach’ isn’t omnipotent. It can only interfere with objects on the same trajectory. For example, you can’t change grapes into apples, nor wine into apple juice or apples. Similarly, you can’t change red wine into white wine.」
『So you’re saying, it’s because you had that power when you were alive that you could interfere and revert things?』
「That’s right. You catch on quickly.」
Alright, I get it. This spell is unbelievably overpowered.
No wonder she’s called a “sage.”
There’s probably no one in the world with a brain sharper than hers.
『But isn’t there a risk?』
Magic isn’t omnipotent.
There’s always a price.
「…Of course, there’s a risk. But for now, it’s not a problem. More importantly, we’re running out of time. I’m going to speed up.」
Immediately, we ascend at a breakneck speed.
Huh…? I feel like I’ve been sidetracked or brushed off, but…
Oh, by the way, there’s something else I wanted to mention.
『Hey, Elibel. Can’t you do something about that outfit?』
「What do you mean?」
Hearing this, Elibel looks down at herself.
I didn’t mind when she was just a skeleton, but now Elibel’s body is all flesh and blood.
Meaning, she’s essentially wearing only a robe over her naked body. It’s a very… risqué appearance, to say the least.
Moreover, given her natural beauty, it stands out even more.
Her abundant curves assert their presence, almost spilling out from the robe. The tips of her assets are slightly visible through the fabric.
And there are glimpses of her thighs.
Add to that, her cheeks are tinged with a faint blush, and she’s slightly sweaty.
Frankly, it’s sexy.
Well, even though I’m a dragon, I don’t get aroused. But that outfit is kind of pushing it.
Misunderstanding something, Elibel looks at me with a smug grin.
What’s with that annoying expression?
「Mmm, what? Could it be that a shut-in, worthless dragon like you is lusting after me? Heehee, oh please! Even if you’ve reincarnated as a dragon, you’re still a man inside, after all. Well, I am a genius, special, and great, not to mention this beauty, so I can’t blame you. But I’m tolerant. I won’t mind if you just look. Well, I might even let you fantasize for a night if you———」
『No, I just thought you might be cold.』
I mean, she’s wearing only a robe.
Plus, the surrounding temperature has dropped due to her ice spell.
She’ll catch a cold.
And just to be clear, no matter how sexy or beautiful she might be, there’s no way I’d ever be attracted to her.
Because… well, she’s Elibel.
Seriously, she’s Elibel. (It’s so important I said it twice).
Elibel’s expression slowly fades.
She just kicked me hard!
And it feels like the shock goes right under the armor!
『Why did you hit me!?』
「Shut up, idiot! Die, you worthless dragon!」
Isn’t that a bit much!?
I was just trying to show concern and give her a warning…
「I said, pick up the pace! We’re running out of time!」
For the duration of the journey to the altar, Elibel sulks the whole way.
What’s her deal?
Meanwhile, deep within Earth’s dungeon―――
「Isn’t the barrier analysis done yet!?」
Elja’s frustrated voice echoes throughout the dungeon.
Only three others are present:
Rasetsu, Robun, and Othel.
「It’s proving to be quite the challenge. After all, the best results for dungeon analysis usually come when Gijie and Elibel work together. Given that Gijie is also preoccupied with defending the dungeon right now, expecting more from it is a bit much…」
The one speaking is Robun, a young Death Lord dressed similarly to Elibel, in skeletal form with a robe.
He’s beside Gijie, assisting it with a terminal.
They’re trying to fill the gap left behind by Elibel and Berg.
The reason they’re back in Earth’s dungeon is because the black mist’s invasion has temporarily halted.
It’s more convenient for them to move from Fafnir to Earth’s dungeon for a debriefing with Gijie.
Meanwhile, the slime Ljung is in charge of Fafnir’s defense.
Other floor bosses of Fafnir are also working under her command, defending the upper layers.
Pururu, always doing her best for the dungeon…
「The thing is, the fact that Ann managed to break through the barrier is the anomaly. The only other one who might stand a chance is Pururu, with her ‘Gluttony’ ability… but with Tres also missing, where could they both be?」
「I have no idea! In any case, we need to analyze this barrier as quickly as―――」
『―――Emergency alert. Intruders detected in the Great Underground Forest. I repeat, intruders detected in the Great Underground Forest.』
Gijie’s emotionless announcement fills the air, sending a wave of tension through everyone present.
「―――Intruders… now of all times…!」
A brilliantly colored sphere displays a view of the deep forest.
「Who could it be? …Wait, huh?」
Spotting the intruder on the screen, Elja’s eyes widen in shock.
Not just her, but even Robun and Othel are taken aback by the unexpected visitor.
「Why are… “You”… here?」
In response to Elja’s query, the figure on the monitor slowly begins to speak.
High above the imperial capital, atop the Black Altar―――
Earth touches down on the altar.
Crumbling pillars stand evenly spaced.
What style is this called again?
It reminds me of Greek architecture or maybe Baroque? Either way, it’s an old-looking temple.
「You’re late, Miss Elibel.」
A woman stands there.
Her short, golden hair is neatly trimmed at the neck, and she’s dressed in a revealing outfit that resembles that of a mage, looking to be in her late teens.
So she’s Rias Aurora…
「Is this your true form? You look surprisingly young. It’s as if you knew I was coming?」
「Yes, I expected as much from those useless fools. Although, bringing that dragon with you was… unexpected. And that form you’ve taken… you really are tricky, aren’t you? If you have such a trump card, please share.」
The moment she speaks, a massive magic circle appears around her.
It’s a teleportation spell.
I recognize it, thanks to the knowledge I gained from Elibel.
This is a significant teleportation spell.
Instinctively, my gaze is drawn to the twisted staff Rias raises in her right hand.
Is that staff involved?
Elibel’s knowledge contains information about a magic tool like that.
Its name, if I recall, is the Sacred Staff “Caduceus.”
Also known as… “The Staff of Teleportation.”
There’s an immense amount of magical power within that staff.
I get it now… all the magic collected from the capital and Fafnir was sent to her.
Probably for some large-scale teleportation spell she’s about to cast.
But Elibel remains calm, even as the spell activates.
「Rias, can you tell me? What is your goal? What do you want?」
Quietly, Elibel asks her.
Rias just laughs, a look on her face as if she’s looking at a clueless child.
「I doubt you’d understand, Miss Elibel.」
「I decide that, not you.」
「Very well. I’ll tell you.」
Suddenly, a third voice chimes in.
「―――Mind if I join this conversation?」
Turning around, there stands a plain-looking woman.
Her clothes are partly torn and smeared, probably from a recent battle.
But her appearance…
Black hair, black-framed glasses, and an overall average look.
…She looks almost like a Japanese.
That thought inadvertently crosses my mind.
Elibel’s face tightens upon seeing this unassuming woman.
Do they know each other?
「Damn old hag!? What did you do with ‘Thunder Slash’?」
「Oh, that? I left him to Rugios. Apparently, he happened to be nearby at just the right moment. I pushed the task onto him. And, by the way, Eli, please stop calling me that. It hurts, you know?」
「You just dumped it on him… Is that okay?」
「Don’t worry. Rugios is a knight I chose. Even if he’s up against the ‘Thunder Slash’, he can at least hold him off. But more importantly———」
Saying that, the woman, who Elibel called “Damn old hag?”, turns her gaze to me.
「…You’re Earth, right? I’ve heard about you from Eli. Nice to meet you. My name is Léna-Lloyd Reynolds. I’m, like Eli, one of the three great nobles of Borhelic. I’d prefer if you call me by my nickname, Léna. You don’t need to be formal with me.」
Placing her hand on her chest, she gracefully introduces herself, this “Damn old hag”… I mean, Léna-Lloyd.
『Uhm, nice to meet you, Léna?』
「Mm-hmm, nice to meet you too.」
She says, her lips curling into an unremarkable smile.
Yet, there’s a hint of tension in her expression.
Maybe she’s nervous because I’m an Earth Dragon?
「Léna… You really are a detestable person. Letting everyone just waltz past you… What’s the point of holding them back?」
「I’ve told you to call me Léna-Lloyd, haven’t I, Rias? Want me to beat you up again?」
「I’d prefer if you didn’t… Ms. Léna-Lloyd.」
「Good, as long as you understand. Now, I know my arrival sidetracked things a bit. So, Rias, care to explain? Why are you trying to resurrect the Death Dragon Ouronus?」
All eyes are on Rias now.
After taking a deep breath, Rias begins to speak.
「…The reason I want to resurrect the Death Dragon Ouronus is… because I want to meet him.」
「I want to see him, Ouronus, again. I want to see his form, hear his voice, and touch him. All I want… is just that.」
In a matter-of-fact tone, yet one tinged with passion, Rias speaks.
Elibel just stares, dumbfounded.
She’s got a “What’s this guy talking about?” kind of look.
「I don’t get what you’re saying?」
「..As I thought, it seems you can’t understand.」
Rias’s eyes glint with a trace of pity.
「Well, let’s dive into a bit of a flashback, shall we?」
Taking a step forward, Rias approaches.
「It’s a common tale. …Long ago, there was a dying girl. The one who saved her life was a black dragon. The tattered, broken girl had been given a hand by the black dragon. From that day, she belonged entirely to that dragon. Determined to repay the being who saved her, she made a choice.」
From her pocket, Rias retrieves something.
It’s a fist-sized black magic stone.
「To once again show the outside world to the Black Dragon— to the Death Dragon Ouronus.」
The magic stone pulsates slightly.
It seems… alive.
「That… is the ‘Magic Core’ of the Death Dragon, isn’t it? The one that was stored in the Borhelic Kingdom. It was stolen a long time ago. So, Rias, you were the thief all along.」
Facing the explanatory voice of Léna-Lloyd, Rias gives a sly smile.
「Yes, exactly. This is Ouronus’s ‘Core.’ I wanted to make the Borhelic Kingdom, which kept this as a national treasure, pay for their actions. But, I suppose it can wait until after his resurrection.」
Gracefully, the black magic stone floats up, moving to the center of a floating magic circle.
「Now, do you understand? My reason for wanting to resurrect the Death Dragon Ouronus?」
Upon hearing this, the one who steps forward is Léna-Lloyd, who stands next to Elibel.
「Wait… you mean, Rias, you want to resurrect the Death Dragon Ouronus because…」
「Yes. I love him. That’s my reason for wanting to resurrect him.」
Rias gracefully raises the staff in her hand high above.
「So— stay out of my way!!」
The magic circle above starts to glow brilliantly.
This is bad. A spell is being activated.
All of us – myself, Elibel, Léna-Lloyd – we all move to stop it.
But in that moment— the ground beneath us vanishes.
Without missing a beat, I find myself blurting out, “What the?!”
But, almost immediately, I get it.
The altar was also formed from that black mist.
That means they can erase it at will.
And, did we fall for that.
Damn, we really got played!
「I’M ON IT! ‘FLY’!」
Elibel and Léna-Lloyd activate the Fly spell in a split second.
Thankfully, since I’m touching Elibel, I’m spared from plummeting to the ground.
「…We were just a beat too late.」
We didn’t make it in time.
A teleportation spell… is activated.
It’s just a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment, but Rias gains the upper hand.
From the magic circle, something… is emerging.
This something is taking in the black magic stone.
In an instant, a torrent of overwhelming magical power engulfs the imperial capital.
The magic courses like a storm, ravaging everything in its path.
「The hell kind of magic power is this!?」
「Both of you, get behind me and set up a barrier!」
In a flash, the fog enveloping the city is blown away.
Torrents of magical power sweep through the city, laying waste to everything.
『O-Oioi! Buildings are being blown away!』
Is Ann okay?
What about Una, Dos, and Berg?
「I feel their magic, so I think they’re okay. But Earth, right now you need to worry about yourself! Even inside this barrier, if you don’t brace yourself, you’ll be blown away in no time! C’mon, old hag! Pour more magic into it!」
「Hey, Eli! I’m the one casting the barrier! Show a little gratitude, will you?」
「I get it, okay! Fine, once all this is over, I’ll call you by your name as a thank you!」
「I feel energized already!」
About ten seconds have passed.
Finally, the storm of magical power subsides.
My vision begins to clear.
So, what’s the damage?
I glance around, taking in my surroundings.
The capital is in utter chaos.
Buildings, streets, everything’s a wreck.
There he is.
Hovering high above the black altar.
A boy stands there, silhouetted against the sun.
He has innocent-looking features and raven-black hair.
Judging by his appearance, he’s around middle school age?
「Looks like he’s finally resurrected…」
The one muttering this, standing next to Elibel, is Léna-Lloyd.
Despite her casual tone, she’s not laughing.
If anything, she’s dripping with cold sweat.
Elibel’s in the same boat.
She stands rigid, staring intensely at the boy.
I, too, take another long look at him.
Sure, he radiates an immense magical power that contrasts with his youthful appearance, but…
『That guy… is he the Death Dragon Ouronus?』
I’d totally expected him to be in dragon form.
But then again, even the Holy Dragon Elja, though weakened, could transform into a human form.
So maybe this is just him suppressing his true power?
「AH, OURONUS! OURONUS!!」
Suddenly, a jubilant shout pierces my thoughts.
It’s Rias’s voice.
Her face is alight with euphoria, clearly anticipating Ouronus’s descent.
Ouronus gracefully lands on the altar.
His expression is blank, his eyes, like fragile glass, betray no emotion.
Rias eagerly approaches him.
「O-Ouronus… It’s you, right? I’m so glad… I’ve finally met you. It’s me, Rias. Do you remember? Ah, it’s been a thousand years. At last… I’ve finally found you again!」
Choked up with emotion, Rias reaches out to Ouronus.
Oh, the sensation is so fulfilling. A warmth rises in her chest.
For a millennium, she had acted solely for this moment.
To reunite with him. To once again see the face of her beloved.
She expresses her joy and blessing of this reunion with every fiber of her being.
Every hardship feels worth it in this moment.
And then, her cherished one, the Death Dragon Ouronus, turns to face Rias.
It’s as if he hadn’t noticed her until now.
「―――Who are you?」
Just those words.
That’s all he says.
The light in Rias’s eyes fades.
Ouronus doesn’t spare her a second glance, instead surveying his surroundings.
Is he… searching for someone?
Then, Ouronus murmurs,
「―――Where is my sister?」
His eyes dart around frantically.
Who is he talking about?
The answer is given almost immediately.
「I can sense her. My sister… Jibru is nearby.」
Wait… what did he just say?
Jibru… his sister?
Elibel looks as surprised as anyone.
But only Léna-Lloyd speaks up, her voice calm.
「I see… so that’s the only thing he remembers…」
A touch of pity can be seen in her eyes.
Elibel turns to Léna-Lloyd,
「What do you mean?」
Léna-Lloyd nods before replying,
「Exactly as it sounds. Death Dragon Ouronus is the younger brother of the Divine Catastrophe Dragon King, Jibru.」
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