First off, I booked it.
Yeah, I think it’s pretty lame of me too.
But, I couldn’t help it.
I tell myself it’s not so bad. I’m not the bad guy here.
At Gijie’s request, a teleportation gate opens immediately, and I make my escape from the depths of the forest.
Of course, Tres and the others are quickly retrieved as well.
By the way, it seems Elibel already knew that Tres and I were playing in the depths, and she took swift action.
Now, I wonder how many times I’m going to get hit… if only she’ll overlook it because of scales and claws.
Shaking, I move to Elibel’s lab through the teleportation gate.
「―――Alright, I see. Well, it seems you’re alive, at least. Let’s hear what happened.」
『Huh? That’s a surprisingly calm response.』
I was sure I’d get a, “There you go again!” kind of scolding…
「What’s with that look? Did you think I was going to be angry?」
「Sigh… I’m not, okay? It’s not like you had any ill intent, and this was more of an accident than anything. Plus, if you mess up, you just have to make it right.」
…Who is this person?
This isn’t the Elibel I know.
I’ve never known such a clean-cut sage.
Could she have been purified again? Turned into that “beautiful sage” that appeared for just a moment before?
『―――The footage of your recent hide-and-seek, Miss Elibel secretly recorded it』
Berg informs me via thought transmission.
Oh, I see.
There are surveillance magic tools placed all over the Deep Forest, after all.
But is that enough to make her this happy?
As I was pondering, Berg adds more.
『By the way, during that footage, there was a little incident where Tres’s pants got caught on a tree and fell down. That… um… got Miss Elibel quite excited. She had to… comfort herself in another room. That’s why… she’s relatively calm right now.』
What the heck, that’s messed up.
I’m totally freaked out.
That’s definitely not okay.
Now that the sage has acquired a physical body, the chastity of Tres and Tsumugi is seriously in danger.
Looking over, I see Elibel humming and operating a terminal.
But upon closer inspection, she’s rubbing her thighs together repeatedly.
And there’s a trace of drool at the corner of her mouth.
『I know. I’ll delete the footage when there’s a chance. No matter the punishment I’ll face later, I’ll do it.』
『…Sorry, man. Always making you play the bad guy.』
『It’s fine. After all, she’s my master, isn’t she…』
『If only it wasn’t for that weird fetish…』
『Everyone has flaws. The question is whether they’re big or small, and if they can be tolerated…』
What a mature perspective.
That’s Berg for you. He doesn’t serve under Elibel for nothing.
With a bit of a heavy heart, my thought conversation with Berg comes to an end.
「You two, what are you up to? Look, the footage is starting.」
The image of the Deep Forest appears.
There’s a woman, thoroughly scorched.
Wow, she’s cooked to a crisp…
「Hey, isn’t this girl…」
Elibel has a realization.
She operates the terminal with incredible speed.
Her fingers move too fast to see.
「It’s her… This person, she’s one of Jibru’s follower we met before in the capital.」
「The magical patterns are the same. What was her name… Ku… Kusla… No, that’s not it, Kshathra… was it?」
I remember now.
“Intimidating Ox” Kshathra.
She’s one of Jibru’s follower who appeared after the battle had ended.
With horns like a cow and glamorous blue skin, she’s quite the beauty.
I recall her having a somewhat haughty air about her.
「Well, if she wasn’t at that level, she wouldn’t have been able to maintain her original form after getting a blast of your breath, right? Did you notice? Your breath has gotten more powerful, hasn’t it?」
Ah, I thought the same thing.
The sensation when I fired it was different.
It might not reach the power of an Earth Dragon Golem, but it felt like it was about 70% there.
Yep, I’m growing too.
「Okay, I’ll open up the communication then.」
I start the communication to reach out to Kshathra.
Actually, she’s not getting up at all.
Not so much as a twitch.
『…She’s not dead, right?』
「…She should be alive… probably.」
Elibel seems a bit taken aback by the complete lack of reaction.
A few minutes pass.
Finally, Kshathra wakes up, looking around bewildered, not understanding the situation.
『Where…? What happened to me…?』
『Ah, have you woken up?』
『I remember reaching the Eld Desert and heading for Earth’s dungeon, but after I jumped into that big hole, my memory is—ow.』
Kshathra clutches her head with her battered arms.
Yeah, that figures.
The moment she jumped in, she got hit by the breath.
…It’s not bad, I’m not the bad guy.
『Don’t worry about it, there was a powerful barrier and traps laid over that hole. You just ran into one of those.』
Let’s just leave it at that.
『Is that what happened?』
She believes it quite easily.
『Huh? But, Lord Earth, where are you? I can hear your voice but I can’t see you…』
『Ah, I’m talking to you through a communication magic stone from inside the dungeon. There’s a glowing magic stone in front of you, right? I can see you from here.』
『Oh, I see. But from the sound of it, this forest isn’t even the dungeon yet, is it?』
『Well, you could say that.』
『I can sense a wonderful magical power. You truly are Lord Jibru’s son, Lord Earth.』
Kshathra takes a deep breath, checking her physical condition.
It seems her consciousness is clearing up quite a bit.
「So, what brings you to our dungeon?」
『That voice… Ah, are you the sage, the magician we met in the imperial capital? I have been entrusted with a message to Lord Earth from Lord Jibru. And mind your language, former human. You’re being too presumptuous for someone speaking to a follower of the Stellar Vein.』
「Oh? And who was it that got caught in the former human’s barriers and traps and ended up as barbecue? I wonder.」
『…I was just caught off guard. Besides, if my power hadn’t been restricted, such traps would be…』
「That’s what’s commonly known as sour grapes, darling. Oh dear, can’t accept the reality in front of you, can you? That’s so like the follower of the Stellar Vein, so high and mighty.」
『Quiet, you former human!』
The two of them go at it over the communication line.
Why are you two so confrontational…?
『Ah, so, the message from Jibru?』
Might as well move the conversation forward.
『Oh, right. Lord Jibru is currently recuperating in the Stellar Vein Dungeon, but she wanted me to tell Lord Earthh…』
So saying, Kshathra pulls out a fist-sized magic stone from her bosom.
…I won’t mention the state of her tattered clothes or anything else that seems to be in quite a dire condition.
Ah, there was a tremble. I won’t say what trembled.
『A visual magic stone?』
The magic stone starts glowing, and a three-dimensional image is projected.
『―――My dear Earth, it’s been a while.』
The image shows Jibru lying on a stone altar, with strange tubes wrapped around her body.
『I’m sorry to show myself like this. The wounds from my battle with Ouronus haven’t healed yet.』
Hmm, that looks similar to what Elibel used for Fafnir’s treatment.
「It looks similar to the healing device I use…」
Elibel seems to have had the same thought.
『The reason I sent Kshathra today was to report to you what has happened since then.』
She must be talking about Ouronus.
『…The resealing of Ouronus is complete. That child won’t be resurrected again.』
The image changes.
An empty square room appears, and in the center, a black magic stone floats.
「…So this is what Ouronus looks like now.」
Elibel quickly grasps the situation.
That must be Ouronus’s sealed form, no doubt about it.
Even through the visual magic stone, an incredible magical power can be felt emanating from the black magic stone.
But more than that, what I feel from that magic stone is…
The image switches again.
『The sealing was performed by Gulfan. Do you remember? The girl who was with Kshathra.』
Ah, I remember… barely.
“Sea Empress” Gulfan.
Yeah, that’s right… she was like an adult version of Tsumugi, a woman, if I recall correctly.
『Of course, because of that, she can no longer leave this place… She wanted to see you, too. Heh, Earth, you’re quite popular among my follower.』
Jibru speaks with the joy of a parent bragging about their child.
It’s a bit embarrassing.
「So, we can assume that the matter with Ouronus is completely settled now?」
「So… it’s over…」
Elibel’s expression is complicated.
Well, considering Rias’s situation, it must be bittersweet for Elibel.
In a way, it was the being that changed the course of her life.
『Oh, and there’s one more thing to report. Well, this is just by the way.』
Jibru raises a single finger.
Huh? There’s more?
Well, she said it’s just by the way, so it’s probably not that big of a deal.
『I heard from Harsha that the Emperor Beast, Agil, has been revived. And soon, he and his follower will probably attack your dungeon.』
『So, good luck with the defense. Don’t worry, you can do it, Earth.』
『Among Agil’s follower are Disaster-class and Calamity-class beings, but you and your follower should manage. Agil himself is only slightly weaker than Ouronus. You’ll be fine, especially after overcoming that battle.』
『I really wish I could help you, but as you can see, I’m unable to move. So, as a substitute, I’ll lend you Kshathra. Feel free to use her as you wish.』
Caught off guard by the sudden turn of the conversation, Kshathra looks up at the image.
『Wait, what, Lord Jibru!? I wasn’t informed about this!?』
It seems this was as unexpected for her as for anyone else.
She asks desperately, but a recorded image isn’t going to respond.
『Ah, for more details, ask Harsha or one of his follower.』
『But, the teleportation magic isn’t working!? Lord Jibru, does this mean I can’t return until this is over!? Lord Jibru! Lady Jibruuuu!!?』
Kshathra is screaming for Jibru, but obviously, there’s no reply coming from a recording.
The conversation seems over, and Jibru is waving goodbye from inside the screen.
『Well then, my dear Earth, let’s meet again. I will always be waiting for you to fully awaken your powers and become the true Dragon King―――』
And with that, the image cuts off.
Elibel, Berg, and even Kshathra, through the screen, are silent.
An overwhelming stillness.
Anyway, there’s just one thing I want to say.
This is a joke, righttttttttttttttttttttttttttttt!?
What’s the deal!?
Really, what is up with this person!?
Ah, not a person, right, a dragon.
Like, I don’t even… what!?
Another problem is coming our way!?
That’s what it is, right.
Emperor Beast is like a demon king, right!?
The Evil God-class monster that Léna-Lloyd mentioned, right!?
Why on earth is something like that attacking my dungeon!?
「This is… a big deal…」
Even the usually unflappable Elibel is holding her head.
Berg and Kshathra are still in a daze.
Really, what are we going to do now?
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