61. His Majesty the Dragon Emperor is Enjoying his Slow Life (9)
After passing through the West gate, the first thing she noticed was a paved boulevard leading to the center of the city.
The buildings and shops were lined up side by side—they all had different heights. The bricks and walls were colorful. There were many people who came and went, and the street stalls were lined up evenly on the path by the side of the main street. The hustle and bustle didn’t stop. A child rushed to the fountain in the open space with adorable voice.
Jill, who went through the path along with Zeke, exclaimed after being dazed by the sight.
“What an enormous city!”
“It’s a walled city ruled by the Lord of Noitral, after all.”
She thought it was one of the towns around the territory of Duke Noitral, but it turned out to be the main city of Noitral, which was ruled by the main family.
“That means the Dragon Knights are also here…”
“Yes, also led by Duke Noitral.”
Aren’t they the most elite of the Dragon Knights!? Jill almost roared.
“I wonder how the other exam participants are doing…! Everyone looks enthusiastic…!”
“The ones who’re truly aiming to become Dragon Knights are gathering. Gender, age, and identity are not an issue—it means that even a suspicious fellow can pass as long as they beat the others.”
Despite so, being in the city under the rule of Duke Noitral also meant being closer to the central—the Imperial City of Raelm, in a political sense. It was akin to jumping into the middle of enemy territory.
“Moreover, Georg Theos Rave has already displayed his ‘heavenly sword’ by gathering the Three Dukes and the influential lords in the Imperial City. Then, finally, he requested each territory to search for the false emperor Hadith, including the Three Dukes’. I already foresaw this happening—now, His Majesty is definitely being hunted.”
Zeke sighed after reading the newspaper he had procured on the way, thinking about the on going development.
“The only good thing is that there are no photos as of now. His face is too good, therefore the caricature is rendered useless. ‘Black-haired, golden eyes’—along with it, a ridiculous but accurate description about him is also included, which reads ‘beautiful face that you’ll never forget once you see it’…”
“…I think the one who wrote that description is wise.”
Again, she realized that once someone saw Hadith, his true identity would be revealed immediately.
“There’s another piece of information on it. ‘Traveling with a blonde little girl.’”
Of course, that little girl was Jill.
Georg remembered Jill, whom Hadith had protected.
“Inquiries should have already been sent to Veilburg.”
“There’s only information about the two of you, and no mention about me or Camila. This could also be a trap.”
“Will Lady Sufia be alright…”
“We can only hope so. Besides, the higher-ups may have more information—what are you going to do now? Will you stop your plan?”
Asked by Zeke, Jill shook her head.
“I haven’t been noticed so far, let’s just proceed with the plan.”
“Well, regardless of how they might recognize your face, a blonde little girl isn’t an unusual sight.”
“—His Majesty also gave me a lunch box. I can’t go home until I eat it.”
Jill’s backpack contained a lunch box and a water bottle that Hadith woke up early to make.
He also went to see her off. That was why, she wanted to bring home an achievement.
“You should just devour that lunch box and return home…”
“But dinner tonight is stew?! I want to enjoy His Majesty’s rice after working hard…”
“Now I know you absolutely don’t want to go home. But, do you think you truly stand a chance when you have no magical power?”
“I grew up in a warrior clan!”
Even though he seemed doubtful, Zeke still followed her.
To reach the barracks and camp of the Dragon Knights, they should advance straight down the main street, and upon seeing the government office, they should turn left. At least that was what the castle gate soldier told her. Today was the day for selecting apprentice Dragon Knights, so she could pass the castle gate just by tying a yellow cloth around her right arm to prove she was one of the examinees.
As she thought, there was no way she could miss such an opportunity.
“What about you, Zeke? Confident you will be accepted?”
“If it’s just a knight, sure. Being a Dragon Knight, on the other hand, I dunno. There’s also the issue of whether or not you will be compatible with the dragons. Passing this kind of irregular test, Camila is more suitable than me.”
“Uhuh, Camila would be good at it. This exam would be akin to shooting an apple on someone’s head to her.”
During undercover investigations in her former life, Jill was often assisted by Camila.
Zeke turned a confused eye to Jill, who laughed before remembering that that was a story that shouldn’t have happened yet.
“…You talk as if you’ve witnessed it before…”
“Well, no, I mean, I just thought that she would be good at it.”
“Okay, I guess, more importantly, there’s a commotion in the square…”
Seemingly not really mindful to the conversation, Zeke pointed towards their destination. Jill’s line of sight also moved.
There was a crowd of people in the square where the main street overlapped. The ones gathered on the left side of the road were those wearing yellow cloths on their arms—namely those who were going for the Dragon Knight apprenticeship.
“What happened to the exam!?”
“I’ve come all the way here!! Such a great opportunity…”
“As of the moment, the responsible Dragon Knights are out, therefore, please wait patiently here.”
“As I’ve said, how long is it going to be!?”
“Please, just wait patiently.”
Perhaps the tension came from their growing anxiety because they were about to take the exam. Abusive languagewas being hurled amongst the repeated questions and answers. A few young men blocked the passage to the barracks of the Dragon Knight—all of them were wearing the same knight uniform.
“Are those people the Dragon Knights?”
“Probably—what are we going to do, now? There’s no other choice but to wait.”
“First thing’s first, what are circumstances?”
Jill looked around.
The townspeople were watching the examinees gathering in the plaza, hurling questions and what-not. They might’ve gathered after hearing the commotion. Zeke was looking in the same direction as her.
“It would be bad if we get careless and noticed. Won’t you just leave?”
“…How much time until the exam?”
“Well, it should be—”
The afternoon bell interrupted Zeke’s answer.
For a moment, as if all the questions and answers had been forgotten, the noise in the square stopped.
Immediately afterwards, the wind shook off the lingering sound of the bell.
Half of the square was covered by a large shadow. The first people to point their hands were the residents.
“I, it’s a dragon…!”
“H, how surprising, not only the Dragon Knights, this city has dragons, as well…”
“Shit! Someone, stop that thing!”
Along with the cry of the Dragon Knights, a broad dragon trampled the fountain in the square.
The dragon was unmanned—which meant, it wasn’t a kept dragon.
Towards the dragon, whose eyes were gazing at the people, someone let out a scream.
“—a rampaging dragon!”
A loud scream. Just like that, fear descended upon the square.
The screaming dragon spout flames towards the skies.
***T/N: At this point, Hadith has probably made peace with the fact that he’s the wife in their relationship.