The 5000-year-old Herbivorous Dragon Chapter 1
Translator: Luk2048 Editor: Nefarian
"Please enjoy me as your meal, Evil Dragon Lord."
"Even if you say it like that, it won't work. I'm herbivorous."
In an extensive stalactite cavern deep in the mountains, there was only one torch shedding light. The flame was hoisted above a young maiden girl who looked to be around 10 years of age, she was clothed in a thin silk garment.
"You do not find me to your liking?"
"It's not a matter of liking or disliking. I'm no good with meat. Neither fish. I like eating bamboo sprouts though."
"Although I am unworthy, I pride myself in my meat being very soft. Please savour me once."
"No, no, no. Aren't you weird? If I'll eat you, naturally you'll die."
"I have resolved myself from the start."
"Okay… Why do you've such a resolve? I don't think there's any benefit in getting eaten by me."
The kneeling maiden raised her head.
"I beg you; do not speak such words, Evil Dragon Lord. If a being of such greatness as you would greedily devour me, it can only bring me satisfaction. However, for the exchange of my life, I implore you for assistance in defeating the Devil King. You are reigning now as an executive of the Devil King's army, but you carry the reputation that your true power surpasses even him. Bearing my life, I would like to ask you to borrow your strength for humanity."
"What? I've become an executive of the Devil King's army?"
Even though I've only been eating plants for around 5000 years?
Well, I know my body is big and when meeting animals or humans I clearly cause their trepidation, but it doesn't mean I possess a terrifying power. If I had to say, I've a timid nature, so far I've lived keeping distance from the opponents I'm no match for. If anything, only my power of insight in identifying the strength of the opponent might be great.
"Please, lend us your strength. Whatever happens to this body of mine, I will not have any regrets."
"Well, I understand your feelings. But I'm not much of a monstrous being. Although a dragon, I'm no different from an oversized lizard with longevity, you know? I've heard little, but the Devil King's army is strong, right? Fighting them, I'd just quickly wind up dead. You are still young, so don't treat yourself so poorly and go home. Your parents must be worried.
"Because I do not have a single relative, there is no one to grieve me. Supposing I would return to the Yoshinba village, I know very well the future of a sacrifice that deserted her duty. At any rate, there is only death waiting for me, so I would like to become the Evil Dragon Lord's nourishment."
"I've been telling you I don't eat meat, besides I'm not evil either. I'd have been much happier if you'd have given me a pot of sweet sap."
"I understand. I will return after smearing my body with sap."
"There's really no need to smear your body with it… Or rather, even if you bring me sap I can't help you out with suppressing the Devil King."
While stirring greatly inside the cave, I stretched my neck and piled up the bamboo sprouts before the maiden.
"Look. This is my favourite meal. I've no interest in eating you."
"So you are saying you will not eat this body of mine?"
"Yeah, that's what I'm saying. If they will get mad at you returning like that, I don't mind escorting you back. Anyway, I won't do any fighting or-"
"In that case, instead of my body you would rather savour my soul, right?"
"Your train of thought is pretty mind blowing, you know that? I can't even imagine how the soul could be eaten."
At this point, I steadily watched the face of the maiden which was being illuminated by the torch. Probably because she's used as a sacrifice, from her cleansed white skin wafts a faint scent of incense. However, maybe as a result of having no relatives, her eyes are filled with vacant darkness.
I can see how strength is useless; since her presence is emitting magic power, she probably had some slight attainments. I think it's such a waste. Surely if she wasn't made a sacrifice and instead accumulated training, she could have become a sorceress. That said, most humans probably can't feel this glimpse of magic power yet.
While I was looking, the maiden pulled out from her clothes a dagger decorated with jewels, but I didn't sense any hostility. While I was relieved, thinking it looked more like an offering of some kind rather than a weapon, she suddenly pointed the dagger at her throat.
"I will now sever my life and offer you my soul. Please wait for a short while."
"Wait! Wait a minute. You really don't have to do this."
"However, if I do not sever my life, I cannot offer you my soul."
"I've said it many times already; I won't eat such a thing. You'll just trouble me with the disposal of your corpse."
"Do not worry. If it is like that, I will dig a pit and die inside."
"How's it possible for you to progress the conversation solely on the premise of dying? It's the first time I'm so baffled in my 5000-year long life."
"It is because I have to carry my duty as a sacrifice, by all means necessary. It is the role bestowed upon me by the villagers. I have to be eaten."
A great one came, I'm amazed. Naturally, I've no intention to eat her. Even so, if she kills herself here, it'll leave a bad aftertaste. After thinking it through, I said.
"Aah okay, I understand. I just ate it. When one becomes a high ranked dragon like me, one can even eat a soul of a living being. I just ate a little of your soul and I'm satisfied. You can explain it like that to those village guys, so be at ease and quickly go back."
"Really? You have eaten it?"
"Yes. You don't have to worry. I only ate about two days of your lifespan. Your soul was extremely delicious, so just that much was enough."
"You ate it… That means I have become a member of the Evil Dragon Lord's household, right?"
I tilted my long neck. I don't really get the logical structure of her thoughts.
"Y-yes, you can say it like that. In any case, let's send you back to the village. You might get hurt walking barefoot, so you can ride on my back."
"How could I? To cause such trouble for the Evil Dragon Lord… Ah, I see. Since I have become your kin, we are one of body and soul. Considering my body is already in Evil Dragon Lord's possession, there is no need for concern, right?"
"That's it, you understand it well."
While laying down my body on the floor so she could climb easier, the maiden moved her body agilely and lightly on my back, sitting seiza-style.
"Well then, let us depart Evil Dragon Lord."
"Where was the village again? Guide me appropriately."
I left the cavern along with the thudding sounds of my feet, and went down the mountain trail to the human settlement. The beasts seeing me were divided between running away and prostrating, there were also some carnivorous animals trying to make an offering or leaving their prey.
Even though I won't eat it…
I think my steps might sound like earth tremors. The moment I've seen the village entrance, I witnessed a large mass of men gathering, like a reception. Well, rather than reception, in reality it's probably more of a vigilant readiness for combat with me, the evil dragon. At least that's how they call me.
I can see they're secretly holding bows and arrows. If all of them shot at once, I probably wouldn't die, but I would receive a serious injury. It's bad to reveal frightened behaviour, so I purposely arrived at the entrance arrogantly and brimming with an aura of confidence.
"Are you the ones who've delivered this sacrifice?"
An old man with white hair, looking like a village chief bowed his head reverently.
"T-That is so. Evil Dragon Lord, since you have not yet enjoyed your meal, is there anything lacking? If that is the case, we will immediately prepare a different sacrifice…"
"No need. I've already eaten her soul. It was the most delicious thing in the world. Since I want to enjoy the lingering aftertaste, be aware that my tongue won't relish in vulgar tastes anymore."
"I-I have understood clearly. In that case, will you lend us your assistance in subjugating the Devil King, is that what-"
My expression strained. I'm covered in scales, therefore humans can't notice, but I was quite nervous.
"W-well, let's think about this matter step by step, but at the very least I can promise that I won't bring you harm."
If I'd unskillfully suggested about bringing them harm, they could've just turned the tables on me. The villagers noisily exchanged glances for a while, but when they understood that at the very least the sacrifice brought some results, as if they were connected, the expressions of relief spread out.
At that moment, out of nowhere a stone came flying and hit me in the temple with a thump sound. In reality it hurt quite a lot and I was on the verge of tears, but if I showed a weak spot here I'd noticeably become full of holes, so I endured firmly while playing a big-shot and faced a direction the stone came from.
"You monster, how could you've eaten Rēko! Eat this!"
There was a figure of a young lad, holding a wooden stick like a sword charging at me. His attire was first-class, with neatly arranged golden hair. He had to be from a good family among the village.
But more importantly, if I get hit with that stick I'll undoubtedly flinch. When that happens, I'll quickly be full of holes, just like a swiss cheese.
However, before I could make my escape, adults one after another leapt upon the lad and pushed him to the ground.
"I-I am incredibly sorry, Evil Dragon Lord! We will behead this impudent brat at once, so…"
"It's fine, really. You can stop brandishing your hatchet over his head like that. I'm not mad at all. Since being hit by such a small pebble felt like a soft breeze of wind."
Actually it hurt quite a lot though.
"Incidentally young lad, is Rēko the name of this sacrifice?
When I inquired, the lad answered while being pushed down.
"Yes! You bastard, I'll never forgive you! You ate her soul and made her into an empty shell, didn't you?!"
"Not at all, I just took a little bite, lifespan of around two days. It's not serious at all, so you don't have to worry. Hey, the one called Rēko. You can get down and show him you're fine."
The sacrificial child hopped down from my back. And the baggage is finally gone.
"Now I must say good-bye. That child also served her duty as a sacrifice, so don't be too cold towards her. After I collect my thoughts, one day let's speak again about the matter of suppressing the Devil King."
While speaking, in my head I was working out the details of moving my nest. Before the talks become substantial, I'll run and seclude myself in a separate place. To deceive them I've no other choice.
When I glanced back after moving away from the village, I saw the boy untangled himself from the adult's grasp and rushed over to Rēko.
"Are you okay? Are you fine? Didn't that monster hurt you?"
"Stop it, Raiotto."
Rēko with eyes lacking any light put a finger to her lips.
"Not a monster, its Evil Dragon Lord. If you call him in such manner one more time, I'll have no choice but to attack you."
"I'm already Lord's kin. If you ever disrespect him again, even if it's you, I won't show any mercy."
I couldn't endure it and turned back. While hurriedly returning with my resounding steps, I caused the villagers to tremble.
"Wait a minute, erm, Rēko right? You really don't have to pay so much attention to me."
"We are one of body and soul. An affront towards the lord is an affront towards me. I cannot overlook it."
I gazed at Rēko pushing my power of insight to the limit. I can ascertain not only the general strength of beings, but even their special characteristics. Facial movement, heartbeat, breathing, eye movement. Taking everything into consideration, Rēko's special characteristic is: "Her wrong assumptions are extremely severe".
I screwed up. I think so from the bottom of my heart. Because I've spoken weird things, the situation is starting to turn sour. Look, the lad is glaring at me with eyes full of hatred. I can't handle humans like that. The girl is just voluntarily getting crazy all on her own. Please let me off.
The lad showing blatant hostility was yet again restricted, and baring his teeth started screaming.
"It's not only that monster! Father and grandfather too, how could you bring such hardship to Rēko?! If you wanted a sacrifice, you should've used me!"
"Ridiculous! As if I'd use a future successor of mine as a sacrifice! What's more, didn't the Evil Dragon Lord also say he's pleased with it? That girl was an ideal sacrifice, able to be exchanged for the highest price. Find me someone who wouldn't use her."
"What "ideal sacrifice" bullshit, you think I'll tolerate such people?! A village where you need to sacrifice a single girl to protect it, it'd be better off destroyed!"
He was screaming loudly. I feel bad, but it can't be helped. Here I should tuck the tail between my legs and run. Rēko too, when she lives a while in the village her weird assumptions should go away.
After saying so, people altogether started prostrating themselves. By the way, when I showed my back to the villagers holding bows, my heart was beating nervously like never before.
That's why when the village's alarm bell resounded, without thinking I nearly jumped.
"What's happening?!" The old chief yelled.
From the watchtower where the alarm bell was, a young man faced our direction and cried.
"It's terrible! Monsters are…! A pack of Kuragari wolves is coming from the mountains! 30, 40… No, even more!"
Kuragari wolves. Always moving as a pack, these evil beasts pray on human settlements. In addition to their huge numbers, their special power makes them twice as troublesome.
Their shadows cast on the earth possess will, known as the shadow wolves, creeping around, feeding on humans and dragging them into the darkness. That is, 40 of them are accompanied by 40 shadow wolves. Essentially there are twice as many, 80 opponents.
Let's run, I thought. However, I'm slow, I'm not confident I can run all the way back to the cavern. Moreover, from the rear I can acutely feel the expectant gazes directed towards me.
"Evil Dragon Lord… No, Holy Dragon Lord! We beg you, please save us!"
Save us you say, what is it that you want me to do. I'm already quivering here.
"You fucker! You've eaten Rēko's soul, now you want to run away?! Don't fuck with me! Being scared of stupid wolves, evil dragon my ass! I'll beat you to death!"
I see. It seems I'll be beaten to death even if I run. I was peacefully eating grass till yesterday, what's with this treatment. No more please.
"Ee, chief of the village." I finally resigned myself and faced the chief.
"Ah, Evil Dragon Lord."
"I'll try speaking with them, since I might be able to talk some sense into them."
"Is that true?!"
It looks like I've got the bearing of an executive of the Devil King's army. To such extent, that my appearance alone causes the forest beasts to shiver. Perhaps they'll run merely from my dignified aura… that'd be nice… or so I wishfully think. Otherwise, today is the last day of my 5000 year long life.
I face the mountain trail. Kuragari wolves were in the middle of swarming through the sole open gate. The village chief left the gate open for negotiations, but honestly I wanted it closed. I faced the pack of wolves guessing the reason for the break-in opportunity, and took a single step forward.
"Y-You all, despite knowing who I am, you dare act like this?"
I spoke to them, but the wolves were just sending me critical gazes while spilling drool, without a sign of response.
"I'm an executive of the Devil King's army." I bluffed, since I had nothing to lose either way.
The wolves, eyes blazing, were slowly but steadily nearing the village. I'm sorry villagers. It's no good already. They aren't listening at all.
"I see. Evil Dragon Lord, in short they have come after inferring our plan of rebellion against the Devil King, is that right?"
With a thump, a weight landed on my back. I recognize the voice. It's the sacrificial maiden Rēko.
"No, I think it might be a coincidence. Wait never mind that, it's hopeless. No more, no more, no more, it's my limit already."
"I agree. I, your kin, am also at my limit."
Rēko pulled out the jeweled dagger from her clothes.
"To direct killing intent towards the Evil Dragon Lord, forgiving the foolish existence of those beasts ― it's beyond my limit."
While I was stunned, from Rēko's body surged an enormous amount of magic power.
Before, there certainly was a trace of magic power. However, what I'm feeling right now on my back is a presence rivaling those so called archmages. This hasn't happened more than a few times in my 5000 year old life. It seems like the villagers too, despite not possessing any special power of insight, felt the energy Rēko was emitting.
It was more terrifying than the wolves, so horrifying that it was hard to stand straight. Has she unleashed all of her latent power just on the basis of her wrong assumptions?
"My body and soul were offerings to the Evil Dragon Lord, thus my body is that of a human no more. Filthy bastards like you are not fit to be the Evil Dragon Lord's opponents. I will erase you instantly."
Haa, she's an amazing one, being in high spirits without any self-awareness. Rēko, who performed a somersault and landed in front of me blocking the wolves, looked over her shoulder showing me a dangerous smile. Her eyes, which should have been black, became the same pale blue colour as mine.
I honestly drew back. She was scarier than the wolves.
"Come at me, beasts. I'll finish you in an instant."
Along with Rēko's provocation, Kuragari wolves' figures disappeared. No, instead of disappearing, my eyes couldn't follow them. When I thought about it, shimmering in mid-air were the wolves' real bodies, and the ones flickering on the ground were probably the shadow wolves.
But when I noticed it, everything was already settled. Rēko sweeping sideways her jeweled dagger launched an explosive magic power, turning the beasts into ashes and dust, without leaving a single trace. After a while, the only thing left behind was a slash chiseled on the ground, which looked like a giant claw.
"Giant Claw of the Dragon King – how is that for a glimpse of the Evil Dragon Lord's strength?"
Though my claw can barely cut a tree in an hour…
While I was thoroughly spooked, Rēko crumpled down to her knees. The only one who ran over to her while panicking, was the aforementioned lad. The others (me included) couldn't move even an inch.
"Hey! Rēko! Are you okay?"
"Hey monster! What the hell did you do to Rēko?! She wasn't able to do this before!"
Although it's terrifying, she just became able to. If I could, I'd really like someone to share my thoughts with, like "Humans are scary, aren't they?".
The one who clapped his hands and calmed the situation down was the village chief.
"Evil Dragon Lord, no, Holy Dragon Lord, the seeds of enmity between you and the Devil King were sown here, isn't that right? In that case, let us grandly celebrate this beginning of the war. Everyone, prepare the feast!"
When the loudly echoing cheerful command blew away the lingering terror, men started noisily running around preparing the banquet. While I was getting a malicious stare from the lad, "I want to return to my cave…" was the only thing I could think about.