Section 4: Awe Personified
Just as I had thought, there it was.
I will surely never forget what I have seen this day. As I ran through the woods and stood at the entrance to the village, a shadow larger than any house jumped into my eyes. As the dragon raised itself up, the sun’s light caught off its scales giving off a reddish tint making it appear as if something truly sinister had risen before us.
Toslin was trying to catch her breath while looking around for Rose-san. There were a number of people in the village square who were trying desperately to escape after being suddenly surprised by an attack from a dragon. Among those people I found a familiar woman with light, curly hair waving down her back.
“Ah! Over there, right in front of the dragon!”
Rose-san was still mounted on Goldmund, and with her large shield and spiked mace in hand, she was facing off against the dragon. While maintaining a certain distance, Goldmund’s powerful legs allowed him to keep avoiding attacks as Rose-san peppered the dragon with a few strikes from her mace.
“You’re kidding me! There’s no way she can win!”
“She’s trying to buy time. Carol, have you resolved yourself?”
Toslin slapped Carol’s shoulder while unsheathing her sword and pointing it towards the setting sun.
“We don’t have any other choice than to go get rid of this thing right?”
“You go evacuate the villagers! Grab as many of them as you can and take them away from the village!”
As soon as Toslin had given her orders, she released a powerful warcry and charged at the dragon with sword in hand.
“B-But then………..everyone will”
“Well, that’s just the way it is. Get out of here with the villagers.”
But, Carol only brushed her hand against the confused me’s cheek before running off just like that while laughing. That’s………what does this mean? I’ll run away………..but then what’s going to happen to everyone else?
“What are you doing!? If we don’t hurry up and get out of here, we’re going to be crushed!”
While I was standing there frozen, somebody grabbed onto my arm.
“You need to get out of here as quick as you can too Iris-san! The village, is already lost”
I looked behind me when I heard a loud voice, and I found Quinn-san running past while carrying a child in both his arms. There was a woman with him as well lending a shoulder to the village mayor.
“That’s right you moron! Leave and don’t bother looking back!”
The foul-mouthed fairy Lapris was shouting while still riding on Quinn-san’s shoulder.
“But, But everyone! I’ll be leaving everyone behind”
When I threw my gaze back over, I saw three people risking their lives while I just stood here.
“W-What’s with that!? It doesn’t matter that they’re adventurers………..it’s impossible, their opponent is a dragon!”
“That’s right, you all can’t beat an enemy like that!”
“I know that! That’s why everyone………to, to buy us time, to let all the villagers escape”
I was getting frustrated with myself, and I didn’t want to cry, but even though I wasn’t actually crying I felt so worn out and tears kept building and
“Then……..Then we have to run away! If we stay here, then those girls will have died for nothing!”
Ryland-san shook my shoulder. Her grip on my arms hurt, but that pain helped me to realize that all of this was real.
“Died for nothing………..D-Die? The three of them…………will die?”
My lips were quivering. Not because I was afraid of the dragon, but because the thought of those three dying terrified me so completely. Six months is such a short time, but I…….it was like I had gotten myself some brand new sisters, and it was so much fun. And now I was going to lose them?
“We have to go quickly! Those children won’t be able to hold it off for long”
Ryland-san tried forcefully pulling on my arm. But, my feet stayed exactly where they were.
“Hold on, Iris!”
I gently brushed off Ryland-san’s hand as she started to yell. And then I asked her,
“Please tell me. The mushrooms, where do you store your mushrooms!?”
Opening up a hemp bag with one hand, I used the other to jam in as many mushrooms as I could fit.
“Listen up! Empty out the entire warehouse if you have to! Just keep filling up those bags with mushrooms!”
Ryland-san’s voice echoed across a warehouse filled with people busily coming and going. We all had masks covering our faces, and we all were putting our hearts and souls into filling these hemp bags with mushrooms before carrying them outside. Spores from the drowsy shrooms kept leaking out from the huge pile of bags causing the visibility outside to plummet.
“Once you’ve packed away as much as you can, carry them up to the nearby roof! Those ojou-chans are risking their lives to buy us time, so don’t any of you dare go and waste it!”
I handed over a full bag to Quinn-san before immediately running back to the warehouse with another empty hemp bag.
“Dear me, doing work like this really reminds me of my youth.”
Even the mayor was helping out while covered in spores.
“For this, thank you very much.”
I gave my thanks without stopping my hands. When I said I wanted to save everyone, the village mayor and the others all said they would help me. Now all the adults in the village have stopped trying to escape and started packing away mushrooms.
“Hahah. Just what are you saying? We’re the ones who should be thanking you.”
“Come on, we’re almost done packing! Now it’s our turn to rescue those ojou-chans!”
The villagers all started to jump out of the warehouse, arms filled with hemp bags.
“Hey what’s the matter? Let’s go Iris. Don’t you want to rescue your friends?”
Prompted by Ryland-san, I hurriedly nodded my head. I gripped the bag of mushrooms close to my chest with both of my arms and ran off. The fun times, the sad times, and the painful times I’ve had with those three all merged together and played through my head all at once.
“Hold……….what what!? What are you doing!? I told you to get away from here!”
The dragon raised a roar that sounded an awful lot like an earthquake. I could barely here Toslin’s desperate voice over it even though I was standing almost right behind her. Seeing it up close like this, it really is big. But, under the light of the setting sun, I could see that its body which is said to be harder than any stone was covered in wounds and oozing a large amount of blood. One of its wings extending from its back was bent in a weird direction, and one of its eyes had been completely crushed.
“It’s dangerous over here! Run away!”
Rose-san started shouting once she saw us coming.
“It looks like everybody is holding something…….geh, this is bad! That guy’s going to spit fire again! Take cover everyone!”
Before Carol had even finished her sentence, the dragon had opened its mouth wide. Teeth lined a mouth open wide enough to swallow an entire cow, and beyond that……I could see a burning flame dancing at the back of its throat, and…………..and wai-………..I shouldn’t just be watching this! B-But…….my feet have frozen…….
“What are you doing idiot!? Do you want to be charred and roasted!?”
Toslin grabbed hold of me and jumped to the side.
A fierce and terrible fire passed over Toslin’s and my heads.
“Ah man………….damn, that bastard! Just drop dead already!”
The hot air burned my cheeks. So the heat for Toslin who is protecting me must be………
“T-Toslin! You’re getting burned!”
The flames had caught part of Toslin’s hair that had been still standing up as it licked past us.
“Eh, no way! Asshole! What do you think a maiden’s hair is!?”
Fortunately it was just the ends of the hair that had been singed, so it was easy for me to put out. It looks like Rose-san and Carol are both safe, so I can take a relieved breath. Meanwhile the villagers overhead who had fallen into a panic from the previous blast were all still screaming.
“Quit your screaming! Our opponent’s a dragon! Don’t be surprised just because it’s shooting a little fire! You women should be better prepared than this!”
Ryland-san’s voice carried over the area. I stood back up, tightly held on to my hemp bag, and got ready to throw it at any time. The dragon took a look all around it, threatening all of us with its one remaining eye.
“Come on everyone! Throw the bags all at once!”
Ryland-san gave a signal from the tallest observation platform, and all of the housewives shouted out while throwing their hemp bags from the roofs of whatever buildings had yet to be destroyed. There were easily well over several dozen of them, and the spores from the mushrooms inside scattered around as the bags made contact with the dragon’s huge body.
I threw my hemp bag with all my strength right at the dragon. The bag drew an arc through the air, releasing spores all the way through before landing right at the dragon’s feet. The yellow powder plumed up and hung around the dragon.
“Wh-What is this!? Iris! I told you to run away!”
Toslin turned her head around while still holding onto her sword and started angrily yelling at me.
“I’m, I’m really sorry! But right now you three really need to cover your mouths with these towels!”
After I had thrown my bag, I ran over to Toslin and the others, handing each of them a damp towel. The fatigue was clear on all of their faces, and despite the frowns, they were all already having a hard time catching their breaths. But from the corner of my eye, I could see that the dragon was writhing about from the sudden attack.
“So that’s it, those were drowsy shrooms.”
As Toslin figured it out, I noticed that her armor was adorned with several new scratches. Rose-san’s large metal shield was also showing many of the same kind of marks. Goldmund was blowing bubbles from his mouth, but as expected of a boy, his eyes still looked determined.
“R-Right. But perhaps that wasn’t necessary. He’s already covered in all these wound, and if”
“You’re wrong. They were already there. This dragon was already injured when we got here. Right, Rose?”
Carol was short on breath as well, but she alone looked like she hadn’t taken any hits.
“Yes. He was already like this when I first started fighting him as well.”
“Eh……..w-what do you mean?”
“Who knows, maybe it screwed up when it was landing? Well it’s thanks to that that we’ve been able to hold on for as long as we have.”
“Either way we’re saved. Maybe the dragon’s going to fall asleep just like this.”
“Hopefully. However, it does not seem like it will be that easy. Iris-san, please take a step back. It is dangerous here.”
Just as Rose-san said, the dragon was still rampaging even as it continued to suck up more spores. It raised another roar just as its tail tore through another home.