Chapter 5: Solretta
Section 9: Water Dragon’s Tail
The following morning, we managed to buy a carriage, and with the clopping of hooves echoing through the air, we started on our way to my hometown of Solretta Litta.
It takes three days to get there while driving over the lingering snow. Along the way our horse-drawn carriage stopped by any towns or villages we passed……..well strictly speaking, it’s not a horse but a Goldmund-drawn carriage, but either way after a leisurely three day trip, our journey will soon be reaching its end.
Solretta Litta. The city where I was born and raised is just a short ways away. Peeking out through the sliver of light shining through the carriage’s top, I saw a familiar mountain, river, and hut alongside the road, so I pulled open the carriage’s awning and stuck my head outside. Taking a deep breath, I could taste the cold, rural air.
Are you doing well sister? Mom, Dad? I doubt anything will have changed with them after only six months, but as a prime example of just how much someone can change over time, I’m feeling a little anxious. Especially when it comes to my sister who is much more energetic than I am. I can already imagine her running across the snowy road to greet me only to end up hurting herself instead.
“I know you’re happy to be returning home after half a year, but don’t fall out of the carriage.”
Toslin, who was supposed to be sleeping while cuddled up underneath a warm blanket, had at some point opened her eyes which were now focused on me.
“I-I’m fine. No matter how unathletic I am, something like that isn’t going to happen.”
“No, but it is Iris after all”
Right next to Toslin was Carol who was giving me a nasty smile. Toslin and Carol would be working in Solretta for a while. So even when we arrive in town I won’t have to say goodbye. A fact that makes me grin even when I’m being teased.
At that moment, I heard some voices coming from the coachman seat. The fact that Toslin and Carol are inside the carriage with me inevitably means that Saluena and Rose-san are the ones currently driving the carriage.
With her whole body wrapped up in a blanket, Carol scooched up like a caterpillar and placed her hand on the awning that lead up to the carriage’s coachman seat.
“Oi, don’t hog the blanket. It’s cold out. Hurry up and get back here.”
“Yeah yeah, so? What are the two of you talking about? Did a monster come out?”
Toslin’s whole body was shivering from the cold when she hugged Carol from behind and wrapped herself up in the blanket as well. It looks really warm. Just like the blanket, Carol’s whole body is also pleasantly warm and feels good to snuggle up to. It’s no wonder Toslin was showing a lazy, sluggish face you wouldn’t normally see while letting out a long sigh.
“Ah, terribly sorry. Did we wake you up?”
It’s almost noon. However a carefree carriage ride is sure to invite some drowsiness, so while Rose-san and Saluena held the reins outside, the rest of us were free to sleep without restraint. That’s how it should be at least, but I was the exact opposite, feeling more ill at ease as we went.
“I’ve been awake for a while now. Toslin refuses to let go……..”
“What are you talking about? You were the one who crawled into my blanket.”
“I’m talking about right now.”
The usual exchange began, and the atmosphere inside the carriage shifted. A miraculous atmosphere that feels so warm despite it being so cold out.
“So, what were Rose and Saluena making so much noise about?”
Carol threw a question over towards Rose-san just as Toslin was pinning her arms behind her back.
“Right now, the Water Dragon’s tail is unfurled……..”
“No way, really!?”
“Where where? Where?”
The cold Toslin remained glued to Carol, and yet they were both able to simultaneously jump to their feet and popped their heads out of the canopy. They then looked up towards the sky.
“Wow, it always looks so beautiful.”
I stuck my head out near the coachman seat as well, gazing towards the bright blue sky that hung overhead. Right before my eyes was a tremendous river that stretched through the air. The Water Carpet, the Sky’s Royal Road, the Milky Way……..and the Water Dragon’s Tail. There were a countless number of names for this wonderful phenomenon that had a countless number of rainbows jettisoning off through it.
“It’s been a while since I’ve seen it. The last time I saw it was definitely…….half a year ago?”
“Yeah, that’s right. We kept staring at it while we walked, so we got lost and ended up in Rifront.”
“Hoh, the Water Dragon’s Tail is it? Aptly named.”
“Eh, Saluena, you mean you’ve never heard of it before?”
I was looking up towards the sky with my head sandwiched between Rose-san and Saluena’s bodies, so it was a little painful, and I couldn’t really move.
“Yes, something like this never existed in the past.”
Saluena was curiously staring up towards the sky. But her expression was much different from the nonchalant me, being much more similar to that of an adventurer, tickled by the prospect of a brand new mystery.
“I’ve read in a book once that it is apparently constantly flowing all across the world.”
“Ah, I’ve heard that too. And also if you jump in, the flow will carry you through and throw you out in the other end of the sky.”
“How do you jump into a river that’s running through the air? It’d be impossible to sail a boat through it. And if you pop out the other side, you’ll just end up falling, and it’ll be impossible to come back.”
“Guu…….. You don’t have to poke so many holes into it……… Toslin has no dreams. Aren’t you an adventurer?”
“I became an adventurer in order to train myself and make money. You can’t fill your belly with dreams and romance.”
“There is a rumor among us priestesses that if you make it to the end of the river’s flow, you will find yourself at the boundary of Endura.”
“Endura……the world Osnell was sealed into?”
“Yes. However who started the rumor or from when it began, I do not know………”
“But if that rumor is true…….I, would have been sealed at the end of this river. No, even now…….”
“I heard you’ll find happiness if you spot a goldfish, but is that really true?”
Right now, almost a third of the sky overhead is covered by the Water Dragon’s Tail. Nearby clouds are split apart, whirled together, and shredded by the water’s current. Because of the way it eats these clouds as it passes through, the Water Dragon is considered a bringer of clear weather, and not only is it said to be the only dragon to act as a divine messenger for the Goddess, but in some areas it is even a figure of worship.
“I’ve never seen one either. Even if there were any fish swimming in there, would you be able to see one?”
“You might be able to if you had extremely good eyesight.”
For me personally, my eyes aren’t very good at making something out if it is too far away. Maybe it’s because of all the books I’ve read since I was young?
“I might be able to see one then…….”
Carol squinted her eyes and began staring at the sky while mumbling to herself. However just a few minutes after that.
“Ah, please look everyone. Do you see a town?”
At the foot of a mountain that stands tall as if challenging the sky above. At the end of the long road we were on, I could just make out a red, brickwork roof.