The Strange Adventure of a Broke Mercenary - Chapter 206
After finishing their meal, Loren’s party quickly packed up their belongings and buried the cave they had spent the night in before resuming their mountain climbing.
Even though they had made some progress, the summit was still far away, and the slope of the mountain was getting steeper and steeper the closer they got to it, so there was no telling how long it would take.
“I thought it was high when I saw it from afar, but it’s even higher up close.”
Gula grumbled. Her mouth stopped emitting smoke and the burning seemed to have calmed down. Although it would take some time for her to recover, she seemed to have returned to her normal state somewhat.
“Normally, when you climb a mountain, the scenery changes, and you can watch the vegetation. It’s quite distracting, but… It’s hard to appreciate climbing a rocky mountain with such a bleak landscape like this.”
It was Lapis who complained about this point. Indeed, it was true that their surroundings were full of rocks, and there was no sign of greenery. There was no path to follow, so they had to just keep climbing up the route they thought they could take. It was a long and tedious process, but there was no other way. If they stopped, they might reach the summit when it was too late. If they wanted to finish this task in time, they had to keep climbing.
“If the Ancient Dragon carries us on her back, we would reach the peak in no time, won’t we?”
Loren had no idea how fast flying would be, but with that huge body, he was sure that a dragon flying would be faster than them on foot. The three of them could surely fit on a dragon’s back.
But Lapis sighed and shook her head.
“Dragons don’t let anyone climb on their backs.”
“Is that so?”
“Yes, even a normal dragon doesn’t. And if you ask an Ancient Dragon to do it, you’ll get a <<Breath>> to show how much of a fool you are.”
Lapis said that dragons, who were often called the strongest magical beasts, had a pride that was proportional to their greatness. There was no way that such creatures would agree to such an act as carrying something on their backs like horses or cows. In fact, if you suggested such a thing, they would get angry and attack you for insulting them.
“Please don’t propose it, okay? I don’t want to get into a fight with a dragon for that reason.”
“It’s a good thing I asked first.”
If Loren hadn’t received such an explanation from Lapis, he might have asked the Ancient Dragon about it the next time he encountered her. He breathed a sigh of relief that he had been able to prevent that from happening in advance.
“Still, this is such a depressing landscape.”
Looking up at the sky, Gula grumbled again.
The mountain they were climbing was a volcano, and there was smoke rising from the crater at the top, probably because it was still active. The thick clouds hanging in the sky above the mountain and their darkness seemed to be making Gula depressed.
“The complaining won’t get you any closer to the peak, you know?”
“Right. Climbing steadily is the only way.”
It seemed that even Evil Gods didn’t have the power to instantly reach the top of the mountain. And even if Gula had that kind of power, she probably wouldn’t be able to carry Loren and Lapis, so in the end they would still have no choice but to climb.
“Do you think that Ancient Dragon can successfully settle things?”
Loren spoke to Lapis, thinking that conversation would be the only option to distract her from the fact that she could only walk without being able to enjoy the scenery.
Lapis thought for a moment and then tilted her head lightly.
“I wonder? Well, I don’t think it will end up becoming terrible.”
“What do you mean by ‘terrible’?”
“The Great Demon King making an appearance, I mean.”
Loren’s expression turned weary at Lapis’ short and crisp words. Even if it was not intentional, it was a fact that a <<Breath>> of tremendous power had landed near the Great Demon King’s castle. If it was deemed to be an attack of some kind, it wouldn’t be strange if the Great Demon King would personally come out.
“If it goes badly, it’s going to be a battle between an Ancient Dragon and the Great Demon King. You’ve got to be kidding me.”
“I’ll flee the demon realm then.”
Gula jokingly said, but Lapis calmly interjected.
“I don’t think you can rest easily just because you fled to human territory.”
Not understanding what her quip meant, Gula and Loren unconsciously stared at her, and she indifferently continued as if stating a fact:
“A battle between the Great Demon King and an Ancient Dragon? It will be a battle of mythical proportions. The demon realm will surely be devastated, and the mountain range will be cleared in an instant.”
“So it will be totally out of control.”
“You’re absolutely right. If I am told that the world is going to end when it happens, I’ll believe it.”
If the demon realm in the center of the continent were to be destroyed and the mountain range surrounding it were to be cleared, the battle would be truly extensive. When Loren imagined such a future, he believed he would also accept that the world was ending.
At the very least, if such a battle were to spread beyond the mountain range and into the realm of humans, it was hard to believe that there would be anyone who could do anything about it.
“The world’s going to end because of a misfire? …Well, that’s an interesting reason to end it, isn’t it?”
“I hope you’re not finding it funny.”
As Gula frowned and chided Loren, a gust of wind hit the three of them. It was not strong enough to blow them away, but strong enough to make Gula’s long hair flutter and Lapis’ ponytail and priest’s robe flap. Then a large shadow covered them.
“I DON’T WANT TO CAUSE THE WORLD’S DESTRUCTION BY A MISFIRE, EITHER.”
When Loren looked up at the voice that came from above him, he saw that the red Ancient Dragon was hovering in the sky above, looking down at them. He thought that he would have noticed such a huge creature flying towards them, but the dragon had suddenly appeared as if out of nowhere.
“Where did you come from?”
“BEINGS LIKE YOU ARE USUALLY STRANGELY UNAWARE OF BEING APPROACHED FROM DIRECTLY ABOVE. I FLEW AT AN ALTITUDE SO HIGH THAT YOU COULDN’T SEE ME, THEN I SWOOPED DOWN.”
Basically, humans and other races that could only walk on the ground were very slow to react to the possibility of something coming at them through the air, especially from directly above their heads, where they couldn’t see. It seemed that the Ancient Dragon had taken advantage of this to sneak up on them.
Loren wondered why she didn’t just fly over normally.
When asked why she had taken the trouble to surprise them, the Ancient Dragon smirked with her dragon face.
“SURPRISED, AREN’T YOU?”
Loren was indeed surprised, but the fact that an Ancient Dragon had apparently done such a thing just to surprise them made him frown.
“You’ve finished with the talk?”
“I’LL EXPLAIN IT TO YOU WHEN THINGS SETTLE DOWN, BUT SHOULDN’T YOU BE A LITTLE MORE CAREFUL?”
The dragon said and looked up at the sky as it lingered above their heads. Loren looked up to see if there was anything in the direction she was looking at, but all he could see were thick black clouds. Nothing that told him to be careful.
“What’s going on?”
“HAVEN’T YOU EVER HEARD THAT THE WEATHER IN THE MOUNTAINS IS FICKLE?”
“Well, I’ve heard that as a general rule, yes.”
“WELL, WHAT ABOUT THE ONE ABOUT SMOKY BLACK CLOUDS TENDING TO TURN INTO THUNDERCLOUDS?”
Loren gazed at the dragon. He had never heard of such a thing.
Judging from his reaction, the dragon turned her dragon face down to look at him:
“THEY CONTAIN A COLLECTION OF TINY PARTICLES. WHEN THOSE PARTICLES RUB AGAINST EACH OTHER, THE FORCE OF LIGHTNING IS CREATED.”
“Is that so?”
It was the first time he had ever heard of it, but since the dragon was so confident, Loren assumed it was true. He still didn’t understand what it had to do with them needing to be careful though.
“EACH PARTICLE IS A SMALL FORCE OF LIGHTNING, BUT WHEN MANY OF THEM COME TOGETHER, THEY BECOME A POWERFUL FORCE OF LIGHTNING THAT RAINS DOWN ON THE EARTH.”
While listening to the dragon’s explanation, Loren looked up at the sky once more. The thick black cloud hanging above the mountain top was gradually expanding, and was now almost above them. According to what the dragon sait, it was a thundercloud. But what the hell would happen if there was strong lightning power stored in that cloud?
As if to answer Loren’s sudden question, a beam of light fell down to the mountain surface together with a roar of thunder in the direction of the summit, some distance away from their party. As it fell, shaking the air, it shattered some of the rocks on the mountain face, and the fragments scattered to the surrounding area.
“THE CLOSER YOU GET TO THE TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN, THE HIGHER THE FREQUENCY OF LIGHTNING STRIKES.”
“If it hits us, we’re dead.”
“YOU’RE WEAK. I ONLY GET A LITTLE NUMB IF I GET HIT.”
Loren stared with grim eyes at the Ancient Dragon, who said this with a certain amount of pride. It was only natural that there was a heaven-and-earth difference in physical strength between dragons and humans. Even though the dragon was speaking proudly about it, a human being like Loren could only think of it as a matter of course.
“Hey, Ancient Dragon.”
As Loren couldn’t help but ask about the sudden appearance of a feminine name, the Ancient Dragon stared at Loren and opened her mouth again.
“IT’S MY NAME. MY NAME IS EMERY. ‘ANCIENT DRAGON’ IS TOO LONG.”
“I see. So, Emery, I need a little help. To be specific, could you fly slowly towards the top of the mountain?”
“YOU WANT TO USE ME AS AN UMBRELLA TO WARD OFF LIGHTNING? …ALRIGHT. IT’S NOT A BAD IDEA TO FLY SLOWLY ONCE IN A WHILE.”
Since Emery said that she would be alright even being struck by lightning, then they should be able to minimize the damage caused by lightning if they could walk underneath her. Moreover, since Emery was only flying slowly, she could excuse herself by saying that he was not actively helping.
In response to Loren’s request, the Ancient Dragon, who introduced herself as Emery, did not seem to be offended at all. She immediately nodded her head.