“Isn’t it fun?” Kanna grinned.
On the other hand, I kept my silence and walked towards the bank. While ignoring Kanna’s mutters, I began wringing my dress.
I have no spare…
As I thought that, Kanna approached while accompanied by sloshes.
“Hee hee. It could have been better if we dived at a higher altitude with a help of wind spirit. It’d be a great experience to suddenly halt before hitting the surface of the water!” Perhaps she noticed I was ignoring her that her joyful tone died down. “Hmm… I guess I went too far? But I’m pretty sure most people would be thrilled to try it out even once.”
“Maybe if I have a spare.”
“Oh… I forgot about that.” Kanna chuckled. “But we can always dry your clothes in the sun. Oh, I’ll dry mine too. But that Fire Ball trick of the Dwarfs might be good.”
“Fire Ball huh?” I snickered. “Right, a Fire Ball. A Fire Ball to dry our clothes. Aha Ahahaha.” It felt like something inside me snapped.
I turned around with a smile and lifted my hand as if to present an object to my side. “Here, dry yourself with this.”
“Eh? Lia?” Kanna backed away. “Are you really that mad?”
“There’s no reason for me to be mad, right?” I kept my unwavering smile. Then, in a moment, a white ball manifested at about half a meter over my palm. It was at about the size of a large pebble.
“Eh? Ehhhh?” Kanna froze. “H-hey isn’t that? Is it really?”
“Here, I’ll dry you in a moment.” I made the white ball move towards Kanna.
Kanna broke into a run. “Sure my clothes would get dry with that, but I’ll get dried too!”
“Won’t that be better?” I walked towards the fleeing Kanna while increasing the ball’s speed. “Come one, it won’t take that long!”
“No!” Kanna dived back to the river. The ball was waiting over the place she dove at. Then in mere seconds, a faint mist began to form underneath the ball.
Kanna resurfaced at a short distance farther. “Since when did you learn that?!”
“Hmm?” I tilted my head to the side. “I wasn’t trying to decipher that book for nothing?”
Although I found it hard to decipher the book regarding Mana Forging, it was not a case without results. True, I still have more to learn about the dwarf’s language—the same was true for the language they use for chants. However, just like any other magic, a magic circle exist. It did not exempt the dwarfs and the elves. And so, having skimmed over and over the book about Mana Forging, I found one particular magic—Sun’s Seer.
“Come on, Kanna. Drying you will be quick. I’ll even add another one to make sure both of your front and back would dry at the same time.”
A short moment afterward.
“I’m sorry.” Kanna laid on the ground. “I’m really, really sorry.” Her face was somewhat pallid. It was the result of holding her breath numerous times just to escape the Seers. “Ahaha. I guess I’ll have to note that Lia is quite a brute when pushed too hard.” She was laughing weakly in-between her mutters.
I heaved a sigh. “Well, it’s fine now.” I found a compromise and stopped chasing after Kanna. But rather than a compromise with Kanna, it was a compromise with myself.
“But I never knew I’d be using this again.” At the side were my clothes folded as neatly as I could. Practically, I was naked. Well, naked without the dress that could I could manifest indefinitely whenever my horn is out. Simply, it was the dress Celes incorporated into my necklace.
“Well, whatever. It’s not like I could hide it to Kanna anyway.” I crouched beside Kanna and formed Cure within my hand. “Kanna, it’s time to go.”
“Lia… I-I’m… Sorry...” Then her head fell to the side.
“If you’re going to play dead, might as well make it real.”
It did not take long before we restarted our journey.
“So it didn’t recover at all.”
I roamed my eyes around the area near a small crevice. Surrounding it used to be brown, thick roots and healthy shrubs. However, right now, it was nothing but dried roots and sediments. The place no longer bore the life it used to have.
After the short recall, Kanna and I headed deeper into the crevice. The result was a dead end, but the goal itself was right in front of us.
“The broken crystals still remained.” Kanna picked up a shard gleaming in black and white. “But maybe we could call these things as your shell?”
It was the same crystal I hid myself to accelerate my growth. The crystal itself formed with Celes’s aid. However, after I entered, everything was on my own. And because I was forcing my horn to grow, I had Kanna leave and return now and then. The reason was simple, the growth acceleration was not all but advantages.
“It really did suck out the life of the surroundings,” I muttered. After Kanna and I left the place—with no idea how to restore it—I hoped it would revitalize on its own. However, not a single speck of life was present. At that time, I thought, What if I stayed until my horn grew to its limits? Would I end up sucking Alabaster to the last drop?
“So, why did we come back here?” was Kanna’s question.
“I want to confirm a few things.” I stepped over the piles of crystals and stood at the center. “How did it felt again?”
I tried to gather my mana on the surface of my skin. However, immediately after I have completely covered myself with a layer of mana, a voice echoed.
“Hmm?” I recalled the voice. “Amalthea?” I roamed my eyes, searching for any clue about the Golden Goat.
“Was that the Great Amalthea?” Kanna asked. Similarly, she searched the area.
[It won’t work, Amelia. That one is no longer functional.]
“Figured.” I had a premonition that it would not work anymore. But I hoped it did. “Say, Amalthea, could you tell me why?”
“Err… I guess I’ll listen for now.” Kanna sat down.
[That one was made using coagulated souls.]
“Souls huh.” For some reason, I did not feel any remorse. But still, I was curious. Curious about the source of those souls Celestia gathered. “From where did those souls come from? Was it from a Hero?”
Kanna cocked her head in response. Still, she remained silent.
[No, it was not from a Hero. A Hero’s soul has a specific use. In any case, to answer your question, the souls used to create that crystal came from the Fairies.]
“Fairies...” Kanna muttered.
“… From… those three?” I could remember it as clear as day. There were three Fairies that Celes tortured. The fourth was still within my grasp.
[No, it came from a population of Fairies. You may even consider them endangered in this age—at least in this continent.]
“… So I need at least that much to create one of my own? Would souls of beasts suffice?” It did not matter what method I should use. What I need is an insurance for the incoming battle.
[It’s not easy as you think, Amelia. But true, it’s possible for you. You are, after all, Celestia’s child.]
“Then could you explain how it works? I’ll try to find a way on my own since I’m sure Celes would only give me hints. So, as much as possible, I need to gather information.”
Amalthea explained how the Crystalline Egg worked. It did not have a name but that was what I called it. In any case, the Crystalline Egg worked like a normal being. That is, it gathers mana and tries to process it for sustenance. However, since the souls were modified, and the souls did not have a body to support, the mana it gathered was passed to me. And then to my horn.
That specific mana was unlike the mana ordinary beings processed. After all, the souls were modified to process it similarly to a divine being. In addition, since I was no ordinary Divine, the process takes another step. That step incorporates life. And with life, comes death and rebirth—the same process that my and Celes’s horn symbolized.
As a drawback, the nearby area is drained of life. And the larger the area which was devoid of life, the harder it gets to procure mana imbued with life. Overall, it was not efficient to prolong one’s stay in the Crystalline Egg.
[Now that I have explained what you sought after, I have a request.]
“A request?” I tilted my head.
“A request from the great Amalthea huh.” Kanna grinned. “This one shall surely deliver!”
[I would like you to request the Tribe to refrain from slaying the dragon.]
““Eh?”” Kanna and I were surprised.
[You see, the issue dates back even before Elena was born. It was a time when Celestia eliminated the threats surrounding Alabaster.]
Wouldn’t that be beneficial?
[As a result, I am left with a few competition around Alabaster. Sure, there are a few ancients far underneath Alabaster, but their number does not even cross the number of my hooves.]
“Are you saying that you want the dragon to grow stronger?”
[Yes. It may not be understandable in your viewpoint, but this is my way of passing time as an immortal. And I believe you do understand my frustrations, no?]
“Then why not vent out on Celes? Wouldn’t that solve your problem?”
[There is no joy in knowing you would only lose, Amelia. I too have a pride.]
“Right. Understandable. It’s Celes after all.”
[Indeed. It is Celestia.]
“Uhm...” Kanna muttered. “I don’t quite get who this Celes or Celestia is?”
True enough, Kanna has yet to meet Celes.
[Celestia aside, I have another request.]
“Does this one concern the Goblins?” Kanna stood and patted the dirt from her rear.
[Indeed. In return, I’ll explain the situation.]
A disc suddenly formed before Kanna and I. It was like a transparent mirror, but the image it portrayed on the other side was completely different.
“This is… the dragon?”
It had green scales with a touch of brown. On its head were horns similar to a tree branch. But unlike a branch, the ends were round.
[I’m bored.] The disc also allowed sound to reach us. [Bored. Bored, bored, bored, bored! Booooooriiing!]
The high-pitched voice came from a little creature—a blue-haired Fairy.
The Fairy stood up and then sat. Again and again, she repeated her actions and begun to ruffle her hair in frustration. She did all those while staying on the dragon’s head. Even so, the dragon seemed unmindful of the Fairy.
[Hey, hey! When would they return?! It’s has been more than a month and I haven’t heard anyyyythiiiiing!] She pointed to a cage made out of thick brown vines.
[… I have no idea of what you meant.] The one who responded was a female with a pale-green skin. Her rough black hair was cast around the cage. [But if you would release my kin, I might have an idea.]
[Hah, as if a Goblin like you would know.] The Fairy crossed her arms. [It would be better to use your slaves to gather information.]
[They aren’t my slaves.] The female goblin glared.
[Then try to talk some sense into those block-head goblins of yours. If they aren’t your slaves, they wouldn’t be so willing to offer me their service just for your safety, right?]
[You wretched.] The goblin spat. [I swear—]
[Swear what?] The fairy cocked her head and looked down on the goblin. [Swear that you’ll start producing more of those goblins like a breeding house? And then what? Take me down? Hah, as if you goblins can take down a dragon.]
The Fairy tapped on the dragon’s horn. [You know it, right? This one follows my orders. I might as well exterminate you when I get really bored.] Then she chuckled. [Oh! Now that I think about it, the beast collars that we’ve been spreading, I wonder how the races would react if they knew we Fairies could override their control?]
I wonder how she’ll react if she knew that she was one of the few Fairies left, was what I thought.
[I’m sure that is enough information regarding the situation.] The discs vanished as Amalthea’s voice reverberated.
“Actually, not quite.” I did understand that a Fairy was in control of the dragon, and the dragon was being used to imprison a female goblin.
A female goblin huh. Maybe a Princess? A Queen? I have heard of rumors regarding the highest ranks of goblins, but I have yet to meet one of those kinds.
“But I think that Fairy has a relation to the recent event?”
[Yes, it has a relation. That Fairy was supposed to lie in wait if ever their plan to devour you failed. However, since Celestia intervened, she was left without any orders.]
Kanna knitted her brows. “I think I’m missing a lot here.”
“Don’t mind it Kanna. I’ll try to explain later.”
[And so, I want you to release the dragon from the Fairy.]
I was puzzled. “But wouldn’t you taking care of it be the easiest way out?”
[If I don’t mind my prey fleeing from Alabaster, I would have made my way to that dragon’s lair.]
[This is a suggestion. Take the tunnels that the Devourer left behind. It will lead you the heart of the lair.]
Kanna frowned. “This is… difficult.”
“What do you mean Mia has dropped out?” A girl in a dark-green robe asked. Her reddish-brown hair was long enough to slide behind her shoulders.
“It’s just as you heard,” Mola replied. She wore a similar robe like the girl. “She dropped out.”
The girl sighed. “Mola, of course, I’m asking for the obvious. Why did she drop out?”
Mola scratched the side of her head. “Well… stuff happened is all I could say.” Her brown eyes wandered to the girl and then to Meiko on her side. “Anyway, this is my new assistant, Mei.”
Meiko wore a brown robe unlike the two. She timidly waved her hand to the girl. “Hello.”
The girl squinted her eyes in silence. “We’re not finished yet, Mola. I’m sure Halbert would ask the same thing if he heard about Mia’s circumstances.”
“Please stop him before it happens.” Mola sighed. “And you know, you’ve been ignoring my assistant who just greeted you.”
The girl’s emerald eyes shifted towards Meiko’s direction. “Ah, right. I’m sorry for being rude, but my name is Liscia, Liscia Stalwart.”
Meiko shook her head. “It’s fine. My name is Mei. And currently, I was assigned as Mola’s assistant.”
“But an assistant huh.” Liscia looked to the ceiling. “Considering Mola, it’s a rather rare occurrence.”
“You don’t seem surprised though,” Mola commented.
“I did consider it at one point but discarded it. But knowing you’re under the command of Laurel’s First Princess, I thought that it might be possible one these days. After all, the Duchy is growing day by day, right? You’ll have to manage a lot of people soon.”
“Believe me, it’s a hustle.”
Liscia and Mola’s chat went on. It was mainly a talk about her late attendance in Primeria, an academy in the Kingdom of Academia.
While Liscia and Mola were having a chat, Meiko roamed around the nearby vicinity.
This place is amazing.
Unlike Issenheim, Academia looked more of a kingdom abundant in minerals. Everywhere Meiko looked, there were bound to be a spire made of metal. However, unlike steel, iron, or lead, the structures gave a reddish-brown hue. They were like aged copper, but they did not smell of rust. In fact, there were little to no red rust to be found in Academia.
That aside, Meiko kept on glancing at the walls that surrounded Academia. She could not help but admire its natural beauty.
It was the first that Meiko asked of Mola before they reached Academia.
“Is that Academia?” Meiko peeked from the carriage’s window. “And is that… a dome wall?”
Meiko has seen walls and ramparts, but Academia’s walls were far different. They were not built for humans to tread on. Also, they had uneven heights. In all similarities, it was more of an eggshell cracked open on the top.
“Yeah, that’s Academia.” Mola took Meiko’s side and pointed to the blackish walls. “Those walls are natural. They are made of molten lava.”
“Lava?” Meiko’s eyes widened. “So Academia was submerged in lava once?”
“I’m not sure if it’s just once, but I’m sure it was submerged—not completely submerged though. If it were, the dome wall would entirely cover Academia.”
“It’s a true fantasy...” Meiko muttered.
“Yeah, it looks like something that’ll come out of fairy tales.”
“But how? How come it had a smooth interior? Was it a barrier?”
“It is.” Mola nodded. “After all, the top-most level—the surface of Academia—is a large city mimicking a huge magic circle.” Then she smiled. “But that’s only one of Academia’s wonders, Meiko. I’m sure you’ll find Academia very interesting.”