~ Chapter 106: Did I just lose? ~
[Alkelios' point of view]
When the humans invaded the Albeyater Kingdom 42 years ago and destroyed all of the Draketerus Territories, they captured and enslaved countless dragons and dragonesses, most of which were sent back to the Human Continent before Brekkar was able to rescue them. By the time the invasion was pushed back, those draconians were already on a boat crossing the ocean. However, who was taken and who was killed still remained unknown even today.
I remembered reading the reports regarding this tragic event. Many of them wrote off the individuals that were declared missing as dead until proven otherwise. A few dragons and dragonesses tried to take advantage of this situation to change their names. Some succeeded, while others failed miserably when they came into contact with those who knew the deceased.
Among the dragons and dragonesses marked on the noble lists, Coshun's name was the one that popped up on the top.
His death was assumed to be a certainty as no ransom note was sent towards their Majesties. While knowing this, I had held a bit of hope in my heart that maybe we could find some of Seryanna's lost relatives, even one of them would have been enough, however, the chances were slim or close to none. Brekkar himself identified most of them when he found their bodies hanging butchered and maimed on the stone walls of the fortresses that were supposed to keep them safe.
My only hope lied in the fact that maybe in his grief and rage that ended up turning him into a cripple, the great general wasn't able to properly identify their remains and jumped to conclusions. The humans cared not at that time who was a noble and who was a peasant. They slaughtered the draconians like they would a bunch of foreign pests that knew nothing but to destroy the land and unbalance the surrounding ecosystem.
As for why I was letting my newfound friends know about this, I had two reasons. First of all, it was a fact that I was far too powerful for them to do anything against me. Second of all, I knew very well from my time among the dragonkind that honesty and trust was the key to building long-standing relationships, especially when it came to those between warring species like humans and dragons.
“The Prince of Albeyater?” Kalderan asked with big eyes as the surprise of this reveal could be read on his face.
Everyone looked at us the same way, especially Ildea, who probably wasn't expecting to meet an Albeyater Royal Family member like this.
“Well, we already knew you were a Duke, but this... this is rather unexpected.” said Ildea as she found herself at a loss of words.
Risha was just staring at us with a blank expression on her face. As for Tamara, she was sitting on the bed, rolled up into a ball of fur and yawning like a cat would from time to time. This sleepy fur ball held not even one drop of interest towards this situation.
On the other hand, Coshun's expression hadn't changed. He was looking at my friends and then at me with eyes that held neither joy nor anger. With a small step forward, he leaned down and picked up the broken leather collar that for 42 years had been keeping his will in check and his natural born strength below that of a human least his master wished otherwise.
The dragon squeezed the piece of leather in his hands and two tears formed in the corners of his eyes. His expression contorted as if to show all the pain, grief, and anger he had been holding back all of these years.
We watched Coshun in silence as he went through all of those emotions. We showed respect towards his pain even though none of us had to. Who knew how many friends he watched being killed or tortured by human hands? Who knew how many tragedies he bared witness to and how many times he cursed himself for being unable to put a stop to them? He was always there, watching, waiting, trapped by the leather collar around his neck, restrained by invisible chains that drained him of all his might. Despite all of those emotions surging through him, he still had the strength to hold back most of his tears as just a few managed to wet his cheeks.
“Thank you...” Coshun said after he was done, letting go of the leather collar.
I replied with a nod and smile.
His eyes then moved from me to my human friends behind me.
“Allow me to formally introduce myself. I am the Adopted First Prince Coshun Seyendraugher, once a Royal Guard Captain at her Majesty's, Queen Elliessara Seyendraugher, Palace in Drakaria, and a student of General Brekkar Draketerus.” he said while holding his chin up high and back straight to show the imposing stance of a royal.
“My name's Kalderan Brahmin, an adventurer.”
“I-I'm R-Risha! A c-commoner and an a-adventurer, no f-f-family name! I a cat cure... I mean it's a pleasure to greet your Highness!” she bowed at her waist with a flustered expression on her face.
In the Ten Swords Language, the sounds for the words 'a', 'cat', and 'cure' closely resembled those for the word 'pleasure'. It was like saying 'apple sure' in English or in Romanian 'crăcii mierea'.
“Please allow me to formally introduce myself as well, Prince Coshun. I am the first daughter of the House of Kor, Ildeanussi Vermida Kor, Princess of the Ten Swords Kingdom, and while in our current situation our names matter little in terms of political politeness, I do hope you'll accept this apology of mine for the tragedy that befall your Albeyater Kingdom 43 years ago.” Ildea said and then bowed her head in front of him.
This is the first time I hear her full name. So her family name was Kor, huh? Wait, what? 43 years? Wasn't 42? Hm, the God-like back then said that five years have passed more or less since we, the earthlings, were brought to this planet. Three years went by in a snap while I was in the God-like's place... so... erm... 38 plus 2 plus 3... equals 42? No, wait... huh? Which is it?! ARGH! THAT BLASTED KRONIUS! My sense of time is still messed up because of him! I thought while showing absolutely no change in my facial expression.
Although both dragons and humans had a different month measuring systems, the length of the year in days was the same. It wasn't like the Human Continent got a few extra days or something ridiculous like that, which was why I felt a bit ashamed and also confused by this.
I was quite SURE of the fact that 42 years had passed since then and not 43, but maybe using that event as a reference was a mistake in the first place. It wasn't like the God-like gave me an exact month and day of when I was pulled out of the Dragon Continent and when I was tossed over here. Seasonal changes were a bit more subtle on this world as far as I could see, and I had yet to acquire a skill or device that could properly measure time. Besides, for all I knew it could be possible that all of us were wrong and instead it was actually 44 years ago starting today or something like that.
No, seriously, what day is it again?! Sigh... Hm, maybe I should think about making a clock? Or an international calendar with cat pictures... I should talk with Kalderan about this later, maybe he has some ideas. I thought and then focused my attention back on what was happening in this room.
Ildea had yet to say another word after her introduction, while Coshun was looking at her with his stern eyes and a stone hard expression. For a moment, I feared that he would jump to attack them, but if that were to happen, I would definitely put a stop to this foolishness. It wasn't as if I was going to allow him to harm my companions just because he was a Prince.
“Your Highness... Ildeanussi...” Coshun started “From how I see things, what happened 43 years ago has nothing to do with you, your father, or the majority of the humans alive at the moment. Even so, the human hatred aimed at our kind was passed down from grandfather to father to child and even now they fight against us without fully understanding why. Meanwhile, we draconians have always been on the defense. We neither desired nor wished for war, but we were marked as the enemies of all.”
The dragon prince looked at me with a gaze filled with sadness. He was probably thinking about what my family-in-law went through back then, the suffering, the pain, the tears shed by the survivors. All of that bred a deep hatred for mankind, one which Coshun could not claim it didn't exist. It was there, still clinging in desperation on the hearts of the surviving dragons and dragonesses, letting go of salty tears that smelled like iron and cried out for revenge.
However, I also knew that the draconian species as a whole had the remarkable trait to be able to forgive and let go of that pain after a period of time had passed. My family and friends in Albeyater were a living proof of this through their acceptance of me.
“Princess Ildeanussi, what Coshun tries to say was that if we wanted to, our armies could easily crush the human resistance on this continent and take it as our own. Within the Ten Swords Kingdom, so far I have yet to see fortresses or cities capable of defending themselves against an invading draconian army. Let alone the skies, the ground can barely withhold against an attack from the monsters native to this lands... which for Albeyater, for example, are laughable weaklings children could defeat.” I explained.
“What? Is... that true?” Ildea looked at me with big worried eyes, she shifted her gaze between me, Coshun, and Kalderan, who nodded in confirmation.
After taking a deep breath and exhaling slowly, I continued “I participated in the last war of Albeyater, so I know very well how powerful the weakest of our soldiers are. If we are to put into account all the Breakthrough-ers and even the King's might, then honestly speaking, I don't see how an army short of twenty million or more soldiers could do anything against them.”
I didn't know how accurate this estimation was, but even with this I felt like I was underestimating them. What would kill the dragons in the end would probably be the fatigue gained from grinding through all of those meat shields. As the saying went: weaklings but A LOT!
Ildea looked down at the ground, the shock of my words could be read on her expression, and right now she was probably wondering why we haven't done anything to get Coshun back or worse destroy the foolish humans who planned that tragedy. Luckily for us, the prince himself came to the rescue.
“Your Highness, the dragonkind in general aren't a warmongering species. We live long lives and our power far exceeds that of regular humans, but in the end, we have no wish to exterminate other species. Unfortunately, I can't express myself for all the citizens of the Albeyater Kingdom, but after spending all of these years on the Human Continent, I know for a fact that our species aren't that different one from another. Hence why I believe that if this bad blood between us is left like this, we will ultimately become as hateful of humans as humans are of draconians.” Coshun spoke with a tone of voice filled with sadness, but within which I could feel a wisdom that far exceeded his age.
In a way, he reminded me of his adoptive father, Feryumstark.
“But don't you feel any anger or hatred for what the humans have done to you in these past four decades?” asked Kalderan as he narrowed his eyes at him.
“Hatred?” Coshun furrowed his brow as he looked for a moment at him and then lowered his eyes to look at his hands “Of course there's hatred... and anger. There were so many innocents that were killed before my eyes, so many lives that were cut short because of a human's eagerness to see blood and pain...” he closed his eyes for a moment and clenched his fist “Yes, there's hatred in my heart.” he then pierced Kalderan with his pained gaze and asked “But what good will this hatred and anger bring me when those who committed those atrocities have long since perished from the face of this world and when I know for a FACT that the father's sins will never be the child's sins to bear?!”
His calm words at the beginning turned into a thundering shout at the end.
We weren't deaf or blind to not hear and see that Coshun strongly believed in those words of his. The fury he still held in his heart, the desire for revenge was still there, but he found himself unwilling to take it out on the innocents who were walking outside on the streets. No one within this city could atone for what the humans did in Albeyater, and maybe not having a target of revenge was what pained him the most.
Trapped, unable to fight back or to shatter his own chains, Coshun was left only to watch and suffer for all these decades as a slave under human tyranny. He was nothing more than an observer in a world in which had robbed him of his freedom.
I couldn't even begin to imagine what he went through or what he saw, but the tone of his voice carried his words with the certainty of experience.
“Even so... I'm sorry...” Ildea said as she lowered her head, her hands trembling, and a pair of tears had gathered in the corners of her eyes.
“You are either too naive or too fragile, princess Ildeanussi.” Coshun told her as he took a step closer to her.
“Maybe, but... even I have seen some pretty cruel things since I was chased out of the capital. The people of my country aren't smiling... and the slaves, they are treated as items. And above all, “ she raised her head up as a pair of tears flowed down her cheeks “I'm powerless to stop it all... I'm powerless to stop others from suffering like you...”
Coshun was at a loss of words, while I sincerely couldn't figure out what this lady was thinking about.
If it was Kataryna, she would have shrugged and simply told her us that she'll figure out something, maybe even ask for our help. Seryanna would have kept her cool and solved the matter with a stern attitude. As for her Majesty, Queen Elliessara and her Highness, Princess Elleyzabelle, the chances were they would have already concocted a plan that would solve this entire mess by now.
As for me, I was like “How did we get here... HOW?! Tears? Really... And Coshun, really?!”
Well... maybe I was the fool who didn't know how things worked out. Luckily for us, there was someone here to pull us out of this heavy atmosphere.
Clapping his hands and walking between them, Kalderan told the two “Alright! That's enough. While it is amusing to see you change emotions faster than I do ammo clips, I do firmly believe that this is a complicated mess neither of you can solve right now, especially not in this inn in the middle of nowhere.” he glared at Coshun and then at Ildeanussi.
“He is right... this is a political matter that went on for centuries. Only a miracle would solve it.” pointed out Risha, who was also painfully aware of this truth.
“Or an insane amount of luck.” I added in a whisper.
“Sigh... They are right. I apologize.” Coshun said and bowed his head to us.
“Me too... I apologize for my unsightly behavior. I got a bit... too emotional.” Ildea followed as she bowed her head as well.
“Well, then I guess we all agree that the dragon Prince here won't be a problem for us. He's not filled with the insatiable desire to slaughter humans, and the Princess over there isn't afraid of him either. Although with a monster like you around, I doubt it would have mattered anyway.” Kalderan narrowed his eyes at me.
“Huh? Are you talking about me?” I pointed at myself.
“No, another idiot who happened to buy a slave that so happens to be the prince of his country. Do you even realize what sort of party this is now?” he asked as he pointed at the two royals.
“Erm, I don't see the problem.” I furrowed my brow.
“Sigh... You and your broken common sense.” Kalderan massaged his forehead with two fingers.
“Even... Even a noble would spell out trouble for us... b-but t-two royals... a-and no guards... t-that's...” Risha tried to explain, but her eyes were running in circles.
“See? Now you've broken Risha!” Kalderan accused me.
“Awawa~” the poor woman was already holding her head.
“It's not my fault she ended up like that! The moment I was dropped in this world, it was in the Seculiar Forest and the first people I got to interact with were the daughter of a Duke and a retired war hero general! Not to mention the fact that the first serious battle I went into was against someone even the King of Albeyater is careful around! You guys are literally the most NORMAL people I've been around so far!” I retorted in one breath.
“Are you done?” Kalderan asked raising an eyebrow.
I looked back into in his eyes, challenging him, and raising a finger up, but then I lowered it and replied “Yes.”
“Alright, then how about we just go grab some clothes for the new guy and maybe some food too before Tamara starts chewing on his head next?” he said and then pointed at the nekatar, who was nibbling on his tail.
“Huh?! Tamara! Spit that out! You don't know where's its been!” I shouted and quickly pulled her off.
“Nya~ Fish barrel?” she replied cutely as she cuddled up in my arms.
“Erm, it's possible... I was placed next to a barrel of fish while we traveled. I might have gotten it drenched by accident.” Coshun said and looked at his brown tail.
There were a few bite marks here and there, but no blood had been drawn.
“You didn't feel anything?” asked Ildea surprised.
“Huh? No.” he shook his head and then took off his shirt. “The injuries I sustained during the war and then as a slave left me a bit numb in some areas.”
“Kya!” Ildea's face turned completely red and she quickly turned around.
“Huh?” we all looked at her like idiots after this reaction.
Still, I had to admit, Coshun had a well-toned body, but the amount of scars and injuries on him were ridiculous. No wonder he was the only one with a shirt among the men there. With a body like that, most customers would either be scared away or lose trust that the dragon was indeed healthy.
As for why Ildea screamed... I didn't get it. Sure, Seryanna and Kataryna did show a bit of pink in the cheeks when they caught me training without my shirt on, and some dragonesses also threw me a curious gaze from time to time back at the Seyendraugher Palace, but I was in my half-beast form back then, so... it was natural, right?
Then again, maybe it was similar to how I turned dumb when I saw Seryanna wearing a transparent negligee or walked out of the bath with only a towel on. I was also staring at her when she was training and wearing a cloth binder on her chest, but that was completely natural.
Also, if this was true, why didn't Ildea react when I or Kalderan changed our clothes at the camp?
Why am I even thinking about something as stupid as this? I'm not envious... True, Coshun is a Prince, and manly... and badass... but... Yup, I'm totally envious over something that's absolutely ridiculous to begin with! I thought and then let out a sigh in defeat.
Who knew I would one day end up feeling something like this?
“Hm? Risha?” I looked at the woman.
“You are embarrassing yourself.” Kalderan said and closed her drooling mouth.
The moment he met my eyes, I knew that he too was part of the camp of men who felt like they lost against Coshun's manly pecs and awesome battle scars.
“Well...” I shrugged. “Let's go buy you some normal clothes and necessities, and I will give you an armor and a weapon forged by me. Actually, I think I'll use this opportunity to give all of you an upgrade.” I said as I looked at the group as I rubbed my chin.
In my mind I was already taking measurements and checking to see if there was anything that I had already built, and if not, I could just enchant it with a bit of size-adjustment magic.
“Upgrade fish? That means big fish? Where?!” Tamara woke up and looked around with her ears perked up and tail standing up straight in the air.
Seeing this cute display of hers, we all burst into a loud laughter.
Once we calmed down, I offered my hand and with a smile on my face, I said “Welcome to our group, Prince Coshun.”
He nodded and grabbed it like a barbarian. “It will be good to travel with you, my friend.”
I smirked, but the [Dragon Tamer] didn't activate. I was eager to show him trust for now, but it was far too soon to think of him as a friend, but give it a month or two and who knew?
Note from the author: Thank you for reading this chapter, I hope you enjoyed it! Oh, and be sure to check out my other stories too!
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