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The Dragon of Dreams - Chapter 348

Published at 2nd of April 2024 01:30:51 PM


Chapter 348

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Late Evening - Late Summer : The Tree of Prayer, Valtivar | Siratha

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Beams of orange light pierced the thick canopy and illuminated the upper tree trunk of the Tree of Prayer as the evening sun began to set behind the ever-distant horizon.

It had been a few hours since Hera and Leif started sparring, and since then, they had gathered quite a crowd, from those who wanted to learn to those who simply wanted the entertainment of a fight at a level even the eldest ancients would struggle to contend at. It was honestly quite a sight seeing so many dragons gathered about, but as a consequence, many questions were being raised about Hera, asking who she was and what her relation to Lief and I was to be involved in a 'spar dictated by the gods'.

But with her likely only a few weeks from revealing herself to the public, I was far from worried.

*sip* *tap* Setting my empty glass down after finishing the last barrel of piotita, I finally looked over the fight and spoke firmly, "I think it's best to call things here."

*FWOOM* The moment my words met their ears, both of them stopped, with Hera's hand extended toward Lief, ready to apply even more pressure onto her, and Lief ready to defend in a lowered stance.

But it only lasted a moment. *thump* "Hah... Hah..." Falling back onto her butt, Lief let out some heavy, worn breaths before shooting a gaze at Hera, standing with hardly a blemish on her clothes. "What kind of monster are you..."

Hera was quick to shrug before looking out over the crowd and speaking without the use of silencing magic. "You will find out who I am in due time, don't worry."

To try and comfort Lief a bit, I was quick to whisper to her. "She's barely a step below a god," -At least in the traditional sense...- "Don't stress it, you did great."

And while it was true that Hera made her seem weak in comparison, no one watching doubted her strength even for an instant. Rather than viewing Lief after her transformation as weak, they viewed Hera as an absolute monster.

But it's not like that was too surprising.

As the fight progressed, Lief steadily improved her technique and constantly increased how much of her newfound strength she could bring to light, to the point that blows she dealt would cause the entire Tree of Prayer to shudder. The thing that just put it all into perspective was when she hit, she would hardly budge, partially from how sturdy she was and partially from the insane weight difference between them. -I think Hera is even heavier than me.. although I doubt it's by too much...-

"But, anyway..." *Vwoom* Glancing to my side, I watched as Hera seemed to appear out of thin air before gently caressing Krystallo's head.

"Were you able to learn anything?"

She immediately looked up at Hera with a sparkle in her eyes before giving a fervorous nod. "Of course!"

Hera showed an oddly motherly smile for a moment before noticing me handing her a full glass of piotita. "Haha, is this the last glass?"

I was quick to shrug. "I know a place where I could always get more."

"Hoh?" She gave me a sly smile as she took a sip. "You'll have to take me there at some point."

"Haha, do you want to drain my whole supply?"

"Did you think that spar was free?"

I paused for a moment before letting out a quick breath. "Well, I guess that's fair. We can stop at my secret place and pick up a few barrels before we head to Bahamut." -It's about time I check up on the Oasis anyway...- "But before that..." Looking down at Lief, I saw her laying out on one of the Tree of Prayer's roots, panting from exhaustion. "We're planning on leaving for Bahamut now. There are some matters I need to attend to there. I trust that you can handle things while I'm gone?"

"Hah... Of... Course..." Slowly sitting up, she looked straight at me. "Is Lady Krystallo going to be staying with me?"

I promptly shook my head. "No, she'll be coming with Hera and I for the time being." -I can't risk a target landing on her, especially with Baldur running about...-

"I see..." *thump* Laying back out, she continued to try and catch her breath. "In that case, there is nothing to worry about. But before you go, allow me to say thank you, My Lord for the opportunity to spar with someone so strong." An exhausted smile slowly crept onto her face as she spoke.

"I'm just glad you were able to learn something from it. Maybe next time I'll have you spar me."

"Ack- *cough-cough*" She immediately started coughing as she jolted up. "Surely you jest..."

"Haha, I'd hold back." I paused as I glanced at Hera, noticing she had already started finishing her drink. "In any case, we will get going... If you need to reach me for anything, there is a human god watching over my Father. I'll tell them to alert me if you go there and ask for me."

Slowly sitting up, she brought herself to a kneel before giving her momentary farewell. "As you wish, My Lord. I vow to use the strength you have bestowed on me for your good. You may rest easy leaving Siratha in my hands."

I felt a bit awkward hearing her say it so genuinely since I felt like I hadn't done much in terms of managing Siratha, but it was true that I trusted her more than anyone else in Siratha.

Finally seeing her shift her attention toward the ever-approaching group of religious figures that were watching the spar, I turned my back to the railing and leaned against it. "Do you have your things together, Krystallo?"

She nodded immediately. "Mhm!"

"Then let's go get it and take to the skies, shall we?"

After that, with some help from Hera, we went back to Lief's estate to grab a few of Krystallo's belongings before finally taking to the air.

Our first destination was the Eastern Oasis, and while we took our time to get there, after flying into the sun for a couple of hours, it was still dusk when we arrived.

But that only made the appearance of the Eastern Oasis blow my mind even more.

As the temple began cresting the horizon, I found myself looking over a huge field of stilted buildings lit by artifacts and laterns, with countless trails around the island leading to other, more sparsely populated areas. -Geez.. to think it came this far in just a few years...-

"So the temple was neglected to this extent, huh..." Hera seemed quite disappointed to see the state of the temple. "Even the inhabitants here have neglected themselves..."

-Ah, she's misunderstanding...- "No one was living here. There wasn't so much as a single building left standing besides the temple when this city was established."

"Huh?!" She immediately turned to me with a mix of confusion and horror. "This used to be a place deeply worshipped by humans. It was home to one of the strongest economic cities in the world."

"Well.. the after-effects of the Great War must have done quite a number on them..." -There didn't seem to be so much as ruins before Abbie settled the town here...- Even looking beneath the ground, you could, at most, find some rubble, with almost nothing resembling so much as a foundation. -I guess ten thousand years on a small tropical island sure dealt its damage...-

Looking at the temple, the last relic of the city's existence, I honestly began to question just what this place looked like back then, but before long, Krystallo interrupted my thoughts.

"Woooaaahh!" Hopping up with gleaming eyes and a smoothly wagging tail, Krystallo looked out over the town in awe. "This wasn't here when we first went to Bahamut! What happened?!"

"Haha," Seeing her gleaming excitement made me smile. "I made a deal with some pirates a while back, so they founded this place as a pirate city."

As I spoke, Krystallo's gaze eventually found its way to the port, a massive area of docked ships, from small vessels to galleons, all hoisting the same black flag.

It was actually a flag I recognized. -Is that Adrian's flag? Did he take the place from Abbie?- [1]

But as we eventually descended toward the island, and I scanned it to try and find them, I found that not to be the case.

In the main tavern not far from the port, the same I found Abbie drinking in every time I arrived, I found Adrian and her drinking to their heart's content, singing and dancing to the beat of a ragtag group of instrumentalists.

It had been well over eight years since I had seen them, but they both hadn't aged a day. -It looks like they're doing well...-

*FWOOSH* Finally coming in for a landing while cloaked with magic, I let Hera, Ilios, and Krystallo all off my back before changing to my humanoid form and fixing my clothes.

"Brother?" Krystallo seemed both curious and worried. "Are you sure we can just walk in?"

I was quick to nod. "Your brother owns this island, don't worry."

Finally walking around the bend of the beach, we hopped up onto a raised deck at the edge of the port before nonchalantly walking toward the main path leading to the town around the lake.

Almost immediately, we were spotted by several of the lookouts, but rather than sounding the alarm, they panicked a bit before each ringing a bell twice. *Ding* *Ding*

"Hm?" The next thing I knew, a young face popped over the edge of one of the largest, clearly stolen galleons before lighting up. "*Gasp* Is that Mister Vasilas?!"

-Huh?- It was a young child who could only be six or seven years old. -Who is she?-

Krystallo and Hera shared similarly confused expressions with me, both gazing at the child, wondering how not only such a young girl recognized me but was extremely excited to see me.

However, after a moment of her clamoring to get off the ship and stumbling onto the dock, she turned to run to me, only to be stopped by one of the lookouts. *vwoom* He was quite strong for a human, all things considered. "Young miss," He spoke with a very hushed tone. "You cannot just run up to strangers..."

She immediately pouted. "I would never fail to recognize Momma and Daddy's savior!"

-Huh?- I was taken aback before I could even think. "Little miss, who are your parents?"

Her face lit up as I spoke to her, but the man with her went pale. "Miss, we can't risk-"

"My Momma is Captain Abbie, and my Daddy is Captain Adrian!"

I instantly jolted. -Ah...- While I had indeed pushed them in a similar direction as one another, it didn't turn out like I expected. -It seems like they're doing even better than it looked like.- "And your name is?"

"Ann!"

"Well, Miss Ann. Would you like to walk with us back to town? We were headed to meet with your parents."

"Of course!"

Seeing the lookout try to keep her where she was, a few hundred meters away, I 'coerced' him to let her go before finally turning for the city.

"So, what's your name? To follow Mister Vasilias, you must be super strong!" Ann was quick to run up to Krystallo not long after we started walking.

But her reaction was about what I expected. "Of course I'm strong!" Although even by appearance, Krystallo was much older than the young girl, she certainly didn't mind the praise.

And like that, our entrance to the town was swift. Walking down a stone-paved road leading from the docks to the lake before walking up onto the stilted town and making our way to the tavern.

*clack* Shoving open the swinging doors, Ann ran straight into the tavern and hugged onto Abbie's leg. "Momma, Momma! Look who came!" She immediately pointed at me in the door, and almost instantly, the whole tavern went quiet, and Abbie froze in place.

Adrian though, seemed to have other plans. "Vasilias?! How are you doin'?" He was absolutely wasted, holding a bottle of rum in one hand before reaching over the bar and grabbing a smaller white bottle from beneath the counter with his other hand. "I feel sad you took so long to just visit!" *fwip*

*tap* Catching the bottle as he tossed it to me, I found it was a small white, human-portioned glass of Piotita.

When I looked back up at him, I wanted to laugh. "I hope this isn't the only Piotita you have."

"Of course not!" *clack* Setting down his mug of Viliwyr, he moved his hand up and pinched his nose before exhaling a trail of smoke smelling of alcohol and bringing clarity to his drunken eyes. "You think I would drink that nasty shit?"

A smile quickly found its way onto my face. "You never know." -It seems I underestimated how much stronger he's gotten, too.-

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[1] - Adrian was the pirate Vasilias met when first leaving the nest and heading to Siratha.

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