Let’s Drink, Hit, and Embrace
This was the Jewelry Box Teahouse operated by Aiful and Credia.
Ellis brought Duke Marsfield and the tax official Robert there to help them calm down. Their accompanying guards upkept security a short distance away around at the steamed bread shop. On a side note, the popularity for the steamed bread shop had been increasing lately, and security was a tad lax as a result.
The duke and tax official were able to calm themselves with the smell of tea, but they were both halfway through their cup before the duke opened his mouth.
“My apologies Ellis, but would you please tell us how you met these dragons. And from there explain how they became the guardians of Warren.”
The real reason the Duke and Robert came was to investigate about the guardian dragons. The Land Dragon becoming the guardian of Warren created a huge fuss, but even the Warren Council were confused about the sudden declaration of protection from the Storm Dragon.
Ellis began to explain everything to them. If by ‘everything’ you mean a large heaping pile of lies.
As far as the encounter with the Land Dragon goes, Ellis told them the same story she had given the council earlier–she met the Land Dragon while visiting the western hills not knowing he was there. So with the Land Dragon no longer under the previous Demon Lord’s control, he wanted to make a contract to protect Warren. And so ever since he arrived at the city, he has been guarding it with no worries or falling under the new Demon Lord’s control.
As Ellis told the story, Duke Marsfield shifted his eyes to a nearby table. At the table was a single cup of tea with a mini-sized Land Dragon sniffing it completely mesmerized.
“Land Dragon Ra-chin, was that story true?”
The Duke watched Ra-chin expectantly, but Ra-chin’s tail continued to sway back and forth silently. After a moment of that silence, Frau threw a lifeline to cut through the settling awkward atmosphere.
“Ra-chin won’t answer anyone until the tea starts to cool down.”
“Let me explain how we met the Storm Dragon first.”
Ellis redirected the conversation back to her fake story. With the Land Dragon in tow, they went to visit the western fishing village. While there, the Land Dragon revealed his true appearance to assure them of their safety. As a result, the Storm Dragon discovered the Land Dragon’s location and came out to meet him.
“The Storm Dragon originally came out to fight in the beginning.”
Rather than a lie, Ellis preferred to think of herself as spinning a fantasy. The Storm Dragon came down wanting to fight, but the Land Dragon argued now was not the time for conflict. The two continued to exchange words, and it was decided that a maiden should be sacrificed to the dragon. That was why Reeve devoted herself to him.
“Storm Dragon Su-chan, was that story true?”
The Duke turned his gaze to the miniature Storm Dragon hanging off of Reeve’s shoulders. Su-chan popped his head from out beneath his wing and looked right back at him.
“I don’t know what you’re trying to do here, but if you lay a hand on Reeve I’m going to kill you.” And then Su-chan hid his head back underneath his wing once again.
Although that wasn’t really an answer to their question, the threat came across loud and clear to the duke and tax official. So Duke Marsfield continued questioning Ellis putting the matter of the dragons themselves to the side.
“What specifically is required to form a contract?”
“You have to name the dragon and then dedicate a kiss.”
Ellis responded reservedly, a little annoyed when she remembered how Ra-chin tricked her into the deal. Reeve too found the whole process irritating and hung her head low. The reaction caused a misunderstanding with the Duke who started to believe the whole affair was difficult emotionally.
“I’m sorry to remind you all of such a painful thing. But please, bear with me for one last question. For what reason, or maybe conditions would be a better word, that allowed the two of you to be chosen by the dragon?”
Ellis managed to keep a straight face, but Reeve had to take a moment to contain her urge to laugh. When she finally did raise her face, the two both answered simultaneously,
“I don’t know.”
Su-chan then revealed his face once again.
“I made my decision because Reeve is my favorite you fucking idiot!”
The duke reluctantly spoke up, trying to get Su-chan to keep talking before he stuck his head back underneath his wing.
“Su-chan, what is it about Reeve that you like so much? I beg you, please teach me!”
Under Su-chan’s icy gaze, the duke prostrated himself, bowing his head low to the ground. Ellis had done her best to play coy and make them fight for their information, but she had never imagined Duke Marsfield would go so far so quickly. Before she could stop herself, she had jumped out of her seat and tried lifting the duke back up.
“Su-chan, I’d like to know too.”
Reeve was just as taken aback by the duke’s plea, but she quickly asked Su-chan to elaborate to get things rolling. The second she did Su-chan made a face like it just couldn’t be helped.
“Understood. Duke Marsfield, I chose Reeve because I like her, but when choosing a Dragon Maiden, other than them being a girl, they must meet a few other qualities.”
“What are those qualities?”
“The must have a strong mental strength in order to withstand forming a contract with me. You should understand what I mean if I were to give you a demonstration. Reeve, let’s go.”
Reeve nodded her head and left the center deck, walking out to the open undeveloped space just outside of Cross Town. The Duke followed behind them closely. After taking enough of a distance from any buildings, Su-chan leapt off of Reeve’s chest and returned to his original large figure.
“So then, let’s stylishly take a stroll the sky Reeve.”
With Reeve on his back, the Storm Dragon jumped high into the air and unfurled his wings. The Storm Dragon started off simple, but as time passed, he increased his speed, throwing in loops and rotations in the air as if he were dancing with the sky as his partner. The duke’s mouth was agape as we watched the performance until the end.
After a while, the Storm Dragon did flutter back down to the ground. And no sooner had he touched down then he reverted back to his mini dragon form and retook his place hanging off of Reeve’s shoulders.
“Do you now see how amazing Reeve is? These are the qualities necessary.”
The Duke could only silently nod while marveling at how Reeve did not appear even slightly dizzy after having undergone such a brutal ride.
And that in turn was Ellis’s plan here. Even if another city were to discover the location of a dragon, she would make it so they would have no idea what to do by spreading confusing information around so that no other individuals could form a contract. In this case, Reeve would be fine even if she didn’t have the qualities to ride Su-chan like that because she would become able to as soon as she became Su-chan’s Dragon Maiden.
“Do you understand then Duke Marsfield, Robert?”
Ellis tried confirming the men’s status, but they both replied with just a silent nod.
In the meantime, Ra-chin had still not moved from his tea.
But soon Duke Marsfield was able to squeeze out something.
“For example, would it be possible to ask one of the guardian dragons to protect the kingdom?”
But Ellis and Reeve both shook their heads. Everything was up to the dragon’s decision, so there was nothing either of them could do.
“Yes, I guess it was a foolish thing to ask. I’m sorry for making you humor me for so long.”
So Ellis grabbed the duke’s arm and tried to cheer him up.
“Then let us show you around. Lily Garden, Cross Town, and Gentleman Street–you showed us your hospitality, now it’s our turn.”
Ellis, Reeve, and Su-chan took the duke and Robert with them as they began moving through the city while Claire and Katie went home. Frau meanwhile decided to stay at the teahouse, waiting for the tea to cool down so she could drag Ra-chin out of the store.
“Well it certainly feels like a trade city.”
Duke Marsfield marveled at each facility he visited, praising each of them as they walked by. All of the facilities he saw were full of originality, and better yet, none of them directly competed with any of the other cities.
The duke could only see Lily Garden from the outside, but he was able to visit each shop in Cross Town, with Gentleman Street as his last stop. Ellis decided they would visit Master’s Hideaway first off.
When they arrived, they were greeted by Masakatsu who was acting as the gatekeeper for the night.
Masakatsu gave each of them a courteous bow before opening the entrance for them. Ellis entered the shop with the duke, the tax official, and all of their guards in tow.
“The Thieves’ Guild can guarantee your safety from this point on. If you’d like, all of your escorts can go enjoy themselves.”
With Ellis’s words, the duke and Robert took a moment to consult with their guards, and in the end, it was decided that they each keep one while the others were allowed to scatter. Maria provided the duke and Robert with a complimentary 500 thousand ril in chips for entertainment while Ellis provided each of the guards with 30 thousand so they could have some fun as well.
“Please enjoy the men’s street.”
With that farewell, Ellis and Reeve entrusted the rest of their reception to Maria before leaving the store.
By night’s end, the duke and Robert had received an extravagant reception from all of Maria’s resources. The guards on the other hand quickly lost all of the money Ellis had gifted to them, and soon lost even more after all was said and done.
The next morning, still glowing from their little trip to Dandy’s Shangri La, Duke Marsfield and the tax official Robert left the city of Warren on good terms with all of its inhabitants.
And then a few days later, a predictable notice arrived from the capitol Skycastle carrying a decree to each city from the king. It gave out two very simple orders: ‘Search for the dragons’ and ‘Find a qualified maiden’. Naturally this mission was also delivered to the Brave Party with the utmost urgency.
“Dragon…..?” the Hero Gray murmured to himself.
“Has anyone heard any rumors about a dragon?” Gise incredulously asked the idiot trio, but to his surprise, Cliff did have an answer.
“Once in a while I have heard about a crimson dragon around the Pottery City in the east.”
“It’s the best lead we’ve got. Alright, we’re aiming for the Pottery City next.”
And so the Brave Party’s journey to the east was decided.
Ellis on the other hand,
“The advanced labyrinth near Marsfield, the Ice and Snow Dragon Labyrinth looks suspicious.”
The conversation had finally turned to the rumor Katie had brought up earlier. If the last boss of the dungeon is an Ice and Snow Dragon that’s never been killed before, it might be able to speak like the executive demon when they first cleared the Demon Labyrinth. But Ellis’s group had already turned into major celebrities. If they were to suddenly show up aiming to clear the city’s most dangerous labyrinth, the duke would assuredly catch wind of it.
“So how about this as a plan?”
Everyone huddled together to hear Ellis’s plan as if the walls of their very mansion might spill their secret. And when it was all said and done, nobody had any objections to the plan Ellis had devised.
“Then let’s head towards Marsfield once again.”
And so the next morning, all of the girls and their three pets began heading north, enjoying the rhythmic sway of their carriage. They were aiming for the Ice and Snow Dragon Labyrinth in order to acquire a new Ice and Snow Dragon for their mini dragon collection.