53. A Trespasser in the Forest
With Mistral having taken her leave, we wonder about what to do. That’s when Priscilla-chan, having exhausted from playing tag, teeters over and clings to Ruiseine. The two spirits of Earth and Wind also return.
Priscilla-chan has been giving it her with playing all since morning.
Ruiseine tends to the exhausted Priscilla-chan, making me feel even more bored. But well, if I have time in the moss-covered plaza, what I should be doing has already been decided.
I sit down on the soft moss and meditate. I neglected my meditation practice on my trip to the vice capital with everyone. Ever since apprenticing myself under Old Sleigstar’s, I have meditated everyday without fail. It has already become one of my daily habits. As such, not doing it feels off.
I close my eyes as I cross my legs calm my mind. I immediately feel the great river flowing under the ground. When the dragon vein is felt from far away, it spreads over my consciousness like an ocean. However, when felt from close up, it feels like a turbulent and overflowing muddy current. Then, when felt from even closer by the edge, the dragon vein feels like a gentle, deep, clear stream. It’s a mysterious existence riddled with contradicts.
I gently draw from the dragon vein. Even though I’m used to it now, I really struggled when I first started. Drawing from the dragon vein is a very delicate work. Adjusting the proper amount is difficult. If I draw too cautiously, I won’t be able to get the amount I need. If I try to take it all at once, I will be swallowed by the stream and drowned. Then, even when I think that I did it well, it may overflow before I can take it into my body.
While it hasn’t even been half a year since I first came to the moss-covered plaza, I’ve been able to do quite a lot. Instead of becoming an adventurer at the beginning of spring, I was worried about what to do during my year of travel. But now, I’ve come to have various experience adventurers would never dream of.
Then, out of no where, I got brides. Moreover, two beautiful women. I’m sure that this is just as great as my classmate, the yuusha Ristia. That being said, it’s not official yet. I still have to make them fall in love with me first.
I draw from the dragon vein and take it into my body. As I train, I look back on what I’ve accomplished.
At first, the flow of the dragon vein and the vitality of the spirit tree were too overwhelming for me, but now they feel reassuring. It feels like the dragon vein gives me strength while the spirit tree grants me its protection. The wooden spirit tree sword on my lap in particular gives off a powerful life force, one that always watching over me.
Speaking of which, this wooden spirit tree sword. No, should I call it a spirit tree sapling? The grandma from the Long Eared Tribe said there’s a spirit dwelling inside this. Whenever I meditate, every now and then I’ll feel a rare, gentle, wind pass by around me. I wonder if that’s a sign from the spirit.
Priscilla-chan too sometimes look in my direction, but it always feels like she’s looking at something other than me. Maybe she can sense the spirit of the spirit tree better than me. Rather, she does sense it. After all, Priscilla-chan was the one who first noticed the spirit of the spirit tree.
What is Priscilla-chan doing right now? I can’t take a look since I am meditating, but I can somehow or another get an idea through the dragon vein.
Near me is the gentle presence of Ruiseine. She has a pure presence befitting of a shrine maiden. Mistral also has a clear presence, but hers are a lot more powerful.
Is Priscilla-chan sticking to Ruiseine? I’m positive, surely Ruiseine is soothing her in her arms. Priscilla-chan is full of energy. Regardless of whether she’s sleeping or getting scolded by Mistral, she is brimming with energy. Such an energetic small child sure is quite nice. Being with her makes me energetic.
Then, as always, together with Priscilla-chan is Nymia’s presence. Her body is small like a kitten, but her presence is even more powerful than Mistral’s. Although she is just a child, she is an ancient dragon after all. Investigating Nymia’s presence while I meditate lets me feel just how tremendous her strength is.
It’s all thanks to Old Sleigstar that I can feel the presence of everyone by following the dragon vein. Had Old Sleigstar not taught me about the existence of the dragon vein, how to use it, and many other things, I might still be spending my days just admiring Ristia at school.
Old Sleigstar gently watches over us from a short distance away. Nymia can’t even reach the foot of his overwhelming existence. Yet, it isn’t overpowering. He just naturally bends in, kinda like the spirit tree. They are both overwhelming, yet they feel like they are a part of the world.
Old Sleigstar is a legendary ancient dragon who protects Dragon Forest. He is a good-natured being. His occasional mischief infuriates Mistral. During those times, I find it really hard to think of him as a giant dragon that has lived for two thousand years. However, when it comes to the forest, his demeanor completely changes. His usual gentle, golden, eyes flare with a sharp spirit. The force of it still makes freeze up in fear.
I follow everyone’s presences and expand my consciousness. Doing that, I now feel the presence of the animals in the ancient forest. While there are no demon beasts in this area of the forest, the barrier doesn’t seem to have any effect to the lost animals. I can feel birds flying around and beasts running.
The dragon vein sure is amazing. Getting used to the dragon vein doesn’t mean I will benefit from it. On the contrary, I get to sense the presence of various living beings I didn’t even know about.
Once I become as strong as Mistral or Old Sleigstar, will I be able to know the situation of someone far away from me? Although I won’t be able to do such for those unfamiliar with the dragon vein, but I should be able to acquire that ability someday. But for that to happen, I’m gonna need to work hard.
I diver deeper into my meditation. I expel my worldly thoughts. I follow the dragon vein, refine the dragon spirit, and accumulate dragon power.
As I meditate, I suddenly feel a strong presence in the forest. As I wonder what it is, I direct my attention towards it.
It has a very strong presence. So strong, it could even be called immeasurable. Someone with an overwhelming presence is coming to the moss-covered plaza without getting lost in the forest.
The animals in the forest flee all at once at the intense fighting spirit.
What is it? I have a bad feeling.
I cut short my meditation and open my eyes. Entering my view is majestic scenery of the deep green moss carpet and the tightly packed old trees.
However, the animals are no longer crying from the forest. Everything is completely quiet.
I look at Old Sleigstar. Old Sleigstar’s haed stare is fixed towards a specific section of the forest.
I wonder if Priscilla-chan too notices the discomforting situation within in the forest. Ruiseine and Priscilla-chan come towards me with expressions of unease. Nymia, who is held by Priscilla-chan, gazes deep into the forest in anxiety. I wraps my arms around everyone and envelop them with dragon spirit I had refined.
Whoever this person is, there’s no doubt he or she is coming to the moss-covered plaza. I have no idea what it could be, but that’s exactly why I need to keep wary.
Judging from Old Sleigstar’s actions, I can more or less tell that he also knows that this whoever isn’t anyone ordinary.
Our bodies stiffen as we huddle together. Sleigstar and Nymia both stare at the same direction of the forest.
Then, the ground trembles as heavy footsteps gradually reach our ears.
Priscilla-chan is so terrified, she holds both of her ears and buries herself in my legs. Ruiseine too clings to the hem of my shirt with anxiousness.
Old Sleigstar raises his massive head.
Pikun, Nymia’s ears twitch. She then takes refuge in my arms from Priscilla-chan’s head.
“Nyaa, run away, nyaa!”
Nymia thrashes against my forearms. To stop her, I hold her tight.
Nymia may be a child, but she is still an ancient dragon. Furthermore, while she can’t compare to Old Sleigstar, she seems to be stronger than Mistral. That Nymia is telling us to run away.
Danger is drawing closer. I’m not the only one who feels that way. Ruiseine is the same.
Still, that’s exactly why I think not running away is better. Against someone even Nymia says we should escape from, we’d be caught instantly. My bet is that we’d be safer beside Old Sleigstar where he can protect us.
The eerie footsteps gradually increase.
Old Sleigstar growls, gururu.
It appears from the forest’s depths.
Gaaaaah, its roar shakes the ancient trees.
It has long ears. On its forehead are two entwined horns coming together to form a single majestic horn.
Its body and features are like that of a dragon’s.
The whole body is covered with long and beautiful fur.
Its wings are folded behind itself, but if they were expanded, they would be big enough to cover twice the size of the body.
The tail is awfully long. It reaches so deep into the forest, I have no idea to where the tip even is.
Appearing from the forest is without a doubt a dragon.
Nymia thrashes about within my arms.
The beautiful dragon that appears before us carries itself with composure. It gradually makes its way to the center of moss-covered plaza. Once there, it’s entire body shines.
What the? Before I can even finish my thought, it grows into a gigantic dragon.
It’s not as big as Old Sleigstar, but it’s still overwhelmingly large. It then roars once again.
Ruiseine faints from the sheer pressure.
Nymia thrashes about once more and springs out of my arms. She flaps her wings to escape and is then caught within the hand of the dragon. It was so fast, I could even see it.
The dragon that appeared before us, even though its horns are different from Nymia’s, it looks similar to her when she turns big.
The tips of its long, beautiful, fur are pink.
“I come to the forest for the first time in a long while, I finally find what I was looking for.”
The dragon holds the captured Nymia before its eyes. Nymia thrashes around, but she can’t break free from the enormous hand’s grip.
“Fumu, it’s been a while, Asher.”
“So you’re still alive, grandfather.”
The two giant dragons stare at each other.
“Uwaaaan, mother has found me, nyan!”
Nymia’s scream echoes across the moss-covered plaza.