Though Ilya’s thoughts didn’t reach it, the qilin dashed through the air.
In order to get to that place as fast as possible, it concentrated its magical power into its legs.
As it pierced through the sea of clouds covering the yellow earth below, in the hole on the layer of clouds that seemed to extend onward forever, it saw the swirling vortex.
Descending through the center of the vortex so that it wouldn’t be caught up by the air currents, there was a lush green forest.
In addition to the forest, there was a lone summit that symbolized nobility. A waterfall formed from a spring there, producing a rainbow from its falling water that built a bridge across the forest.
A lake spread out beneath the waterfall. Enshrined in its center was a U-shaped mansion.
As soon as it went down to the mansion, the qilin changed its appearance into a human’s.
Taking out the clothes from the bag on its back, it put them on in the blink of an eye.
Stopping to greet his brethren as he passed them, the qilin headed towards the mansion’s inner parlor.
“Jean-sama! I am here to report regarding the white child!”
White child… hearing the name of his own offspring come up, he shouldn’t overlook it.
Although he was thinking that, he was surprised that the sliding doors opened immediately afterwards.
His expression was obviously exhausted.
It was to be expected, yet his chest tightened anew by seeing his lord’s appearance.
The qilin immediately fell to his knees, reporting to his lord.
“I shall report on the whereabouts of the white child.”
“Is it safe!?”
“It is indeed safe… As he is under the protection of Ilya-sama, please be at ease.”
Jean stiffened for a moment when he heard that name.
Then, as Jean recalled the appearance tied to that name, an image formed in his mind.
Not just her outer beauty, but all of her charmed him. Just remembering her smile made him unable to suppress the throbbing in his heart.
If it was under her protection, then it would definitely be safe.
“Is that so…”
Jean let out a breath in relief and reminisced about his desire.
Standing in front of a private room on the second floor of the branch, Ilya opened the door after knocking.
When Ilya entered bowing—
“I waited for it! Ilya’s love!”
Swinging his scarlet hair that reached his shoulders, a beautiful person came soaring towards her.
Quickly sidestepping, Ilya gave him a gaze of contempt.
“… Shouldn’t you say that to your child first? Dragon God-sama.”
Right, this was the dragon god.
(… I didn’t think the perpetrator himself would come.)
Amazed, Ilya cast a glance towards the youth standing next to the dragon god.
“Don’t you also think so, qilin?”
The brown-haired youth received her glance, looking away embarrassed.
Since the one to blame for this was the dragon god, Ilya didn’t understand why he was embarrassed. But speaking honestly, qilin was qilin after all.
“I was going to hug this child of course… Right. Above all, a splendid child was born.”
The dragon king patted him, but the hatchling wasn’t pleased.
Far from being pleased, it stopped his hand with a slap from its tail.
“Hey you, I don’t like that,” though it didn’t say that, it could be seen with a glance. Jean turned to Ilya and gave her a wry smile.
“Oww… children imitate their parent’s coldness. That’s why, Ilya. Obediently become my wife.”
“Don’t want to.”
Who’s a parent? Who would think of a guy like that who changes his speaking manner as a parent?
Though she had various things to say she held them back.
(This is why I hate getting involved with this idiot.)
Ilya cursed him in her thoughts. However, since Jean likely didn’t notice, or perhaps only pretended not to notice, he continued speaking without looking as though he minded.
“I know that in your heart, you want to know of this body of mine right? A person who would accept you more than me doesn’t exist.”
“No thank you.”
Ilya had memories of being a man, but nevertheless she had no intention of entertaining a hermaphrodite partner.
“Rather than spending your time talking about such inconsequential things, please hurry up and tell me your business here.”
“I often say it’s a habit of my longevity.”
“Someone other than me wouldn’t have enough composure and get caught up by you. I’ll call the branch manager. Then you will explain.”
“It can’t be helped then…”
It couldn’t be helped but the questions and answers were useless.
Called in, Frank sat across the table facing the dragon god. Ilya and the qilin stood behind.
Though the dragon god objected a bit, Ilya completely ignored him.
“Jean-sama, I shall introduce you two. This one is the guild association’s Branch Manager, Deshan. Branch Manager Deshan, this one here is the dragon god, Jean-sama.”
Frank froze at hearing Jean’s identity.
Facing him, the dragon god’s face was similar to a noh mask.
“How about this. Call me Jean, Deshan-sama. Since my wife has received your favor, please call me dragon god or Jean as you prefer.”
“T-there’s no way I would do so. Dragon God-sama. Please call me Deshan.”
“I’ll take the liberty to correct something. Dragon God-sama and I are complete strangers.”
She flatly denied Jean’s frivolous words.
She didn’t want to leave any mentions of that left alone just in case. Since it would be troublesome if he said this and that to hold a ceremony in the Heavenly Palace, she changed the topic before it could come up again.
“Dragon God-sama, would you please let us hear your true intentions as to why you entrusted us with the hatchling?”
The dragon god was brooding, opening his mouth before long.
“First of all I must correct you, I have just recently come to know of this. Aurel. Say it yourself.”
“Certainly, Jean-sama. This all originated from the time when Jean-sama’s two children were born.”
“Eh, two children?”
“To be exact, twins.”
Twins. The family’s secret maneuvering, as well as the qilin’s morals. Obtaining that information, Ilya could now read the current flow as well.
“Usually, there wouldn’t be any problems as the the first child would inherit the title of dragon god, but someone moving behind the scenes appeared to take the opportunity.”
“Succession… no, a factional dispute?”
The qilin nodded at Frank’s prediction.
“When I noted the hostility filling the Heavenly Palace, one had already been encircled. In order to protect the other egg, I reluctantly brought it to the surface. I’m not interested in the factional dispute, nor did I want to use dragon god’s honorable child… above all as Ilya-sama is a person of honor, in order to ensure you accepted it without having your permission, I gradually guided passersby to you.”
He judged that was more or less enough and didn’t say that only Ilya had the power to protect it.
“I sincerely apologize for having involved unrelated people.”
Expressing his gratitude, he bowed deeply.
Though he was kin, qilin, who was of the dragon god’s lineage, showing his sincerity caused Frank’s mind to tremble.
“Please raise your head. Fortunately no one died, and above all it’s over.”
“For your honorable mercy, I am very sorry.”
During that conversation, Ilya wanted to strike the dragon god who was nodding with a self-satisfied expression on the head.
There was a reason that producing kin with those feelings resulted in a faction being born. If he wasn’t interested in putting something together in case of a dispute, he didn’t have the qualifications for making one of his kin act as the parent.
While she was suppressing her anger and playing with the hatchling, Frank was calm.
“So, since you have both come here, is it safe to assume you’ve found a solution?”
The dragon god answered promptly.
To him so easily denying it, Ilya was so amazed she was exhausted.
“As I said earlier, I’ve just recently come to know this.”
“Me coming today was for both my thanks and my apology. At the same time, my request as well.”
The dragon god turned towards Ilya, lowering his head.
“For protecting my beloved child, from the bottom of my heart, thank you. Moreover, I sincerely apologize for my relative’s carelessness causing trouble for you.”
“Neither affected me alone. As both require formal documents, please submit them to the guild branch.”
“Understood. I will do so if that is this place’s custom.”
“Then, what was your request?”
The dragon god’s eyes felt unusually serious.
“Well, I want you to raise the child.”
What would happen in the Heavenly Palace if Ilya was pushed into taking care of the child?
The factional struggle would die down and the hatchling’s safety would be guaranteed. Though it could be called too much, since he could make a connection with Ilya, the dragon god only saw advantages to painfully part with his child.
She wondered about the intentions behind the slightly unusual adoption.
At least, that was the conclusion she came to by just thinking about the Heavenly Palace’s motives.
However, when Ilya looked at the hatchling—
Is what she answered the dragon god with.
Other than Ilya, everyone’s eyes opened in surprised.
“However, I have two conditions.”
“Please say anything. Even if it’s my love.”
“I don’t want something like that.”
What love? She looked at Jean with her eyes half-closed as though to say something more.
He could lay eggs without mating. However, with the large amount of kin the dragon god had, she could only think his words of love was an excuse for sex. Ilya couldn’t believe the dragon god.
“First of all, this child’s intentions.”
Ilya held the hatchling in her arms and moved its line of sight, gesturing to Jean.
“That person is your parent.”
Directing its sight to the dragon god, the hatchling more or less understood and let out a whine.
“You can live with everyone there you know?”
“I would stop the factional dispute. No matter the enemy.”
Turning her gaze to Jean as she said that, even the dragon god’s face stiffened. The qilin’s face had paled.
“Where do you want to live?”
Did it understand? The hatchling looked between Ilya and the dragon god alternatingly.
When she let it down onto the table since it couldn’t choose while being held, the hatchling walked nervously.
It was advancing towards the dragon god.
Ilya would suppress the factional dispute. Though it would cause a serious situation, that was still its parent. With a complicated look, the hatchling slowly headed towards the dragon god who couldn’t conceal his joy.
As the dragon god hesitantly held out his hand, the hatchling licked it.
She cast down her eyes, determining something. Seeing the parent and child’s appearances, Ilya smiled.
(I’ll also resolve myself.)
If she just scolded the people who caused the factional strife, it probably wouldn’t break her self discipline. Already thinking up excuses unintentionally, Ilya was disgusted at herself.
“Ilya, though I’m sorry… I’ll leave it to you.”
“Yeah. I understand.”
The dragon god stood up and gave a nod to Ilya. However, when he tried to hold the hatchling—
His hand was repelled by its tail.
“”” Eh? “””
Running to the girl who was blinking her eyes in surprise, the hatchling made a mad dash and jumped towards Ilya.
Licking her face as much as it felt like, the hatchling cuddled with her.
“”” … … … “””
Where did that atmosphere from a moment ago go? Embarrassment and disappointment mixing, a complex mood filled the room.
(That lick a moment ago, don’t tell me it was something like a farewell?)
Unable to find words that would clear the mood, Ilya reluctantly decided to continue the conversation.
“Oh… well, the second condition…”
“Please have the Heavenly Palace fully cooperate to defend this child.”
“Y-yeah. Of course. Whether it’s food, strength, or magic tools, anything is fine.”
Promises being exchanged in that lifeless atmosphere was strange.
Though Ilya worried if he would properly protect it for a moment, since the qilin who could be called a mass of honor was there, it was probably alright.
“T-then please accept these.”
What the qilin passed to her was a decoration with a translucent stone in its center, the Dragon God’s Piercing.
A magic tool close to having the function of a transceiver, the Dragon God’s Piercing could use the wind to contact the dragon god no matter the distance.
Though she didn’t think it would come back to her again after being politely returned in the past, Ilya decided having it would be convenient and accepted the piercing.
“Then Ilya… sorry, but I’ll leave it to you…”
Though the exchange should have been the exact same as earlier, the tension was as different as heaven and earth.
Going as originally planned, the dragon god continued to grow depressed.
(Nice one, hatchling!)
Not letting her cheers escape her thoughts, Ilya asked Jean about something that had been on her mind.
“By the way, what is this child’s name?”
Don’t give me an ‘eh’, idiot. Though she started to say that, she kept it from leaving her mouth.
In contrast, Jean had an expression on as though he were surprised.
“I thought you’d definitely named it already.”
“Though I know who the parent is, isn’t that something you shouldn’t gloss over…”
The dragon god laughed, the qilin letting out a silent sigh.
“Then Ilya, I’ll leave it to you.”
“… Are you sane?”
“Of course I’m sane. Besides, I’m serious. So that you will also bring it up with love you know?”
Was his idiocy calculated, or was it natural?
Ilya couldn’t understand the dragon god’s character that well.
With things concerning the hatchling’s movement settled, the dragon god returned to the Heavenly Palace. However, Frank, likely due to his anxiety, lied down in his bedroom.
(Maybe I should bring him some porridge later?)
Considering herself to be partly responsible, Ilya thought about such a thing from her guild.
Though other than that, there was another problem she was concerned of.
“What should I do…”
After returning to the reception desk, Ilya spent her free time absorbed in thought.
“What’s wrong, Ilya? Is something the matter?”
“Oh, Elizah. Good work today. It’s nothing much.”
Seeing the hatchling whine in worry, Elizah unintentionally smiled.
“Ilya, you’ve been bringing this child around everywhere. Is this child what’s worrying you?”
“Yeah. To tell the truth—”
Just as she started to speak, the entrance door was opened.
Although greeting guests was pretty much a conditioned reflex, Ilya lacked the motivation for it.
(I don’t want to hear bad rumors about the hospitality either.)
Though Ilya was thinking up excuses to justify herself, she didn’t know that the rumors were really being set off by her ‘listless’ and ‘fragile’ beauty.
“Good morning, Elizah-san. Ilya-san, long time no see.”
“Heya Ilya, Eliza. That child is… the rumored dragon!?”
The ones who arrived were Katia and Elivia, having returned from their expedition to gain cash.
Same as the townspeople, they didn’t seem to fear the dragon, instead holding their hands out towards the hatchling.
“Ahaha, it’s so cute~. What’s its name?”
“I haven’t decided yet.”
“No way, is that what’s causing you to be worried?”
The first candidate was ‘Chick’. However, that was rejected since it was half-baked; like naming something big ‘Child’.
The main concern for her wracking her brains? Its gender.
As it grew, whether its appearance would incline more towards a man or a woman would become clear. Since that couldn’t be determined at the moment, she was wanting to avoid a name that sounded too rugged or too cute.
“I wondered if Haku was good, but…” 
A white that doesn’t know defilement. A white that shined on everything equally. Ilya really wanted that, but although she gave an expression as though she was embarrassed by wanting it, the reactions from those in her surroundings were different.
“I think it’s good!”
“Un, it’s a beautiful white dragon, isn’t it perfect?”
“Ilya-chan is its parent after all. You get to decide it with pleasure.”
Katia and Elizah, as well as everyone in the dining room who heard the conversation, decided it was Haku before she realized it.
Having no objections at all, Katia smiled while petting Haku.
“Pleased to meet you, Haku-chan.”
“Protect Ilya-chan well, okay?”
With the dining room full of smiles, Ilya smiled wryly.
“Ooh! Reliable isn’t it!”
“Now even Ilya-chan can be relieved!”
While the hall was expressing its jubilance, Lydia, who added herself into the conversation from the kitchen, asked Ilya a question.
“Speaking of children, how are Ilya-chan’s parents doing?”
“They’re living. Probably.”
“That’s good then. You should go and see them occasionally you know?”
“Is that so…”
Ilya gave a vague answer to end the topic. Since even her family more or less excluded her and even her parents threw her away as a child, she could probably get information from York who could leave the village.
(Not coming is fine though.)
“No, it’s nothing.”
While gently petting Haku who was looking up, Ilya remembered her previous times.
Her previous life’s family was just a normal family. Though there was nothing to boast about, there was nothing bad about having a normal family.
At one time, she thought about what if she was born into a more prosperous family, what if she was born under parents with connections. However, when they were about to be fired from making a mistake in the placement of a single digit, when they were dying from being driven out by co-workers and made to voluntarily retire due to taking maternity leave, and still able to give encouragement. That was a normal family.
—She was glad to be born into that family.
She sincerely thought so.
One day, this child will also leave.
Separating will likely be painful.
Being wounded, suffering.
Rather than intimidating others and letting your heart turn rotten like Kramer and the assassins—
Rather than trying to suppress others by scaring them with strength like the thieves guild’s executives—
Rather than shutting your mind to all but your relatives like the dragon god—
It’s fine to run away.
Even if people laugh at you for fleeing shamefully, so long as you are alive in this world, you can try anything over again.
So when the time comes, be at peace and escape from it, returning with confidence to the place you can be safe at…
“Pleased to meet you, Haku.”
—For this child, I hope this can become such a place.
Ilya smiled, looking around the room while gently caressing the young dragon.
- Haku’s name, written in kana ( ハク ), appears inside of the Japanese term for White Dragon, Haku Ryuu ( 白竜 ). Return