Chapter 1: A dragon in distress
Author Synopsis: My first time writing in the first person perspective
Editor: Agent Psyx 707
I am the lord of a small fief in the continent of Finanse.
This title was among the inheritance my father left behind after he passed away, and the rest were: ten thousand subjects barely supported by a tiny piece of land, an army of one thousand low-grade soldiers outfitted by a blacksmith’s yard in desperate need of repairs itself, and a territory that had practically zero defensive ability, with our sad excuses for a fort and watch tower.
Whenever other lords came with their troops to loot the harvested grain that we stored and the meager amount of gold we had, I completely lacked the strength to resist them.
My own solace was the fact that my territory was on the northern tip of the continent, where the sea’s bountiful resources kept us from starving to death a long time ago.
That day, Lord Morgan from the south had once again plundered my land and returned home with his wagons full. I didn’t have the courage to face my subjects, so I rode my horse alone to the seashore. I listened to the waves, and gazed out towards the far expanse of the sea, wondering what the continent of Icanomics on the other side of the sea was like.
The Ican continent was ten times larger and more abundant in natural resources than the Finanse continent, and furthermore, it was home not only to humans but to other races as well. There were dwarves, mermaids, elves, fairies, demi-gods, and all sorts of fantastic creatures. They were a very rare sight in Finanse, so rare that they were practically myths in tiny, far-flung territories such as ours.
A wandering bard was the one who told me stories about them when I was younger, but I did not believe him when he claimed that these non-human creatures were in fact real. It was only when I grew older and accompanied my father to the Conference of Northern Lords, did I meet a beautiful elf for the very first time and realized that the bard had really been telling the truth.
The Ican Continent was also the land of the legendary beasts: dragons.
I had always been enthralled by stories of them. Ansai, the most powerful lord in Finanse, won many wars and conquered many lands because he had a dragon.
If I had one too, all of my problems would be solved. I could protect my people and would never need to be afraid of Morgan and his gang raiding us ever again.
As I entertained these foolish thoughts, I suddenly noticed an enormous, black object lying on the coastline that I was so familiar with.
+ + +
Every time I went to the beach, I always had my retinue on standby from a distance away because I liked to quietly enjoy the peaceful moments by myself.
Now, however, I hesitated to go back and call for them.
I might have been weak and powerless to fight against the likes of Morgan and his ilk, but I still believed that the blood of my ancestors that flowed inside me was filled with an adventurer’s spirit. This curiosity won over my sense of self-preservation in the end.
I calmed down the horse that was restlessly moving about from under me, and then urged it onwards to get a closer look.
At the very least, this was one thing I could be proud of ― as the lord of the land, my steed Anthony was the finest horse in this small piece of territory.
+ + +
With quite some distance still remaining to the large black thing on the ground, Anthony uneasily stopped in his tracks and would not take another step no matter how much I urged him.
Animals are far more sensitive to their natural surroundings than humans are, so I started to question my decision ― my own brother who was born two decades after me was only just a three year old child. If something happened to me, our territory would receive another devastating blow just like my father’s abrupt death a year ago, after he succumbed to the flaring up of his old battle wounds.
And yet, I did not turn back. I had already gone this far, so I resolved myself to continue forward.
I gave Anthony a few calming strokes on his neck, dismounted, and walked all alone towards the large object.
By the time I was close enough to see it clearly, I couldn’t help but suck in a breath ―
It was a dragon. An honest-to-god, real, live dragon!
+ + +
It had enormous wings that looked like they could cover my territory’s fort when unfolded, scales the color of a deep, endless dark blue, a very thick and powerful tail several meters long, and sharp claws that gleamed under the sunlight with a bone-chilling shine.
Even if he was only lying there, he still had a mighty and overwhelming aura that could make anyone catch their breath.
No wonder Anthony did not want to come any closer.
However, the dragon was not moving at all. Some of his scales were wounded, and some were even falling off. His large eyelids were closed shut and if it were not for the faint opening and closing of his nose as he breathed, I would have mistaken him for a corpse.
I could not help but inch closer, kneeling on the ground to stroke his neck. Even if he was in such a sorry state, this dragon still looked magnificent and beautiful in my eyes.
He did not respond.
As such, I grew braver and continued to pet his scales.
However, his neck suddenly quivered slightly and scared me out of my wits. I immediately retracted my hand. The truth was that I was naturally timid, and the brave and fearless me was just an act I put on whenever I was in front of others.
I inched closer and spoke directly to its large head: "Wait for me a bit. I’m going to bring some medicine."
There was no response from him.
I had no way of knowing whether he heard what I said, or if he even understood.
+ + +
I went to my maid Anna’s place to ask for a large batch of medicine.
Alarmed by such a sudden request, she hurriedly tried to peel off my clothes to check for injuries but I adamantly refused ― even though she was older than me by thirty years and had watched me grow up like a mother, I still couldn’t just let myself be stripped naked like that.
I still had my pride.
Besides, I wasn’t injured.
I had my retinue secure the general area where the dragon was and prevent anyone unauthorized from entering ― a dragon’s entire body was basically a treasure trove, and I didn’t want to come back only to find a pile of bones. I felt that even my friends, who were once high-spirited but were now down and out of luck, would not be able to resist the temptation.
And most importantly, if news of a comatose dragon in our territory leaked out, we would draw the attention of many lords and it would end up in a huge disaster.
Andy, one of my personal guards who grew up together with me, curiously asked what the fuss was all about.
I thought for a moment and then told him: "...I found an unconscious and injured beauty over there, and I fell in love at first sight. I want to personally treat the injuries and hopefully get myself a wife so I don’t want you to get in the way. Please do not come any closer."
Andy seemed somewhat dubious, but I knew that he would obey my orders nonetheless. His unwavering loyalty was one of the reasons why I never replaced him for someone else all these years ― though I refused to admit that the other one was because I had too few subjects to choose from in the first place. He was already one of the best in a sea of mediocrity.
Andy contemplated for a while before replying: "...Then why don’t you bring her back to the fort to treat her injuries?"
I told him: "Too heavy. That’s why."
His eyes suddenly brightened up. "Is it a mermaid? I heard that their tails are all very heavy."
If I had a heavy tail myself, I would have slapped him with it right there and then. Too bad I didn’t have one.
+ + +
I had my bodyguards fetch some fresh water and then personally carried it to the dragon’s side. After washing the blood and filth off his body, I started applying medicine to his wounds.
Truthfully, I had no idea whether human medicine would work for a dragon, but I felt that some would be better than none.
His scales were coarse, thick, and hard, and I had to be careful not to accidentally scrape my hands against them.
He would shake slightly from time to time, but overall he steadily allowed me to continue.
While I was doing this work, it made me once again appreciate how big he really was ― treating just the wounds on half of his body left me completely tired and out of breath.
My guess was that he was from the Ican Continent, and he ended up collapsing on our coastline after he used up too much strength to fly over the Sea of Death.
On the third day, he opened his eyes, but he continued to weakly lie there.
His eyes startled me when I saw them. Black pupils as dark and haunting as the abyss within twin spheres of sparkling blue ice, his eyes were the most exquisite things I had ever seen in my entire life.
Their only downside was that they were rather large by human standards, although their size was quite proportional to his enormous skull. Combined with their shape — vertically slitted like a cat’s, his gaze fascinated and yet also paralyzed me with fear at the same time.
When I visited him once again, those beautiful and unique eyes briefly glanced at me before they promptly closed.
As usual, I crouched by his side to wash his wounds and apply medicine.
Considering how he never reacted, it seemed that he was not opposed to my actions.
So I tried striking up a conversation with him. I introduced myself and talked about my fief. I told him about Anna, Anthony, and Andy, about the powerful lord Ansai who had a dragon, and even about the tyrant Morgan who frequently oppressed our territory. Then I asked him where he came from, and what his hometown was like. I also asked him about whether his family was still around and many other similar questions.
I spoke until my mouth was dry, but he didn’t open his eyes even once.
It was slightly discouraging, but to be honest I wasn’t even sure if he could understand what I was saying. Or perhaps he was too tired, and didn’t have the energy to respond.
I recalled that Ansai’s dragon listened to his commands, so in theory weren’t men and dragons able to communicate? Or was it just that Ansai had a different method?
Closing my mouth, I bitterly gave the bucket a kick and prepared to leave. That was when I suddenly felt a gaze on my back and I automatically turned around. The dragon was staring back at me.
He said: "You can call me Fruys."
Ah, so he can speak the human language, I thought to myself.
He had a beautiful voice. I had never met any other dragons before, so I didn’t know whether it was a trait shared by everyone of his kind or if he was just special. His voice was rather deep, low, and cold, but somewhere in there was a trace of warmth. It was a lot like the iceberry wine that Anna brewed at the start of spring every year.
If he sang, it would definitely sound very nice.
But were dragons able to sing? The wandering bard never mentioned something like that.
I couldn’t stop thinking about this question for the rest of the day, even after I drifted off to sleep.
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