After exiting through the back of the boss room, the first thing I saw was Kohaku.
She was wearing a super confident look that showed she had no worries at all.
Now that I thought about it, once you had cleared the boss room, you could just skip through it.
So did she use that shortcut and wait for me?
「So it’s done.
That was faster than I thought.」
「Since I used big moves, the end became like a time attack.」
Taking a breath, I changed my weapons from the gauntlets back to Meteor Impact.
I was convinced after that last battle.
Unarmed combat really shone during boss battles, but really, it was supposed to be a skill where the aggro wasn’t focused on me.
From the weight of its attack, Meteor Impact was better against normal monsters.
And if I were to tell the truth, I also wanted to have a one-handed mace as well.
「Tria should soon be within sight.
It’s Sukuna’s first time at Tria, right? I’m sure you will be surprised.」
When we had walked to a point where we could see the forest’s exit, Kohaku suddenly said something like that.
Since Rin-chan hadn’t really said anything about it, I was curious: what was in the 3rd town, Fias?
When we got out of the forest, I could see a town several hundred meters away from us.
I got a sense that something was a bit off.
That town’s outer wall, compared to the Town of Beginning’s and Dualis’, was just too low.
However, after looking closer, I could understand why it was like that.
A wall to prevent monsters from going through, it turned out that such a thing was completely unnecessary.
「That is the Lake Town Fortress Tria.
It’s also called the City of Water.」
Walking near the lake area, I could see that the lake was large enough to extend beyond merely creating a thin barrier of water around the town.
Spacing out as I gazed at Tria, suddenly, something came out of the lake and I was splashed with water.
「Whaa, what’s this!?」
It had jumped on me and pushed me down, and I was currently flattened on the ground by this mysterious creature that had quite some strength.
「Ain’t that a child of a water dragon? It sure is rare for them to appear near the shoal.」
「Water dragon? Oooh….don’t lick me, don’t lick me, it feels rough, you know!」
For some reason, it was bizarrely friendly or way too attached to me.
However, I was somewhat able to pry off the mysterious creature licking my face.
The creature that was called a water dragon, rather than a western dragon, it looked more serpentine and had a long and narrow body.
Just as I had finally removed it, it once again coiled around my body.
There was no display of HP or level, which meant that it was not treated as a monster.
「Water dragons are really wise, they are quite well-known creatures in Tria.
At the very least, they don’t attack people and are gentle creatures.」
「Aren’t I being attacked right now?」
「No, that one is just playing with you.
It might also be hungry, too.」
The water dragon cried out as if it were answering, which was somewhat cute.
I tried petting its head.
Its scales were really smooth.
When I pet its head, the water dragon felt really good and narrowed its eyes in happiness.
I tried bringing out the Magical Take that I had gathered in the Forest of Magic and showed it to the water dragon.
It flicked out its tongue to taste it and then devoured the entire mushroom.
The water dragon coiled around me as if asking for more, and just as I was about to run out, it seemed to become full and satisfied.
It stopped coiling around my body and dove back underwater.
Even though I had twenty of them at the beginning…
「It went away….」
Just as I was thinking that I should at least see it off, the water dragon immediately came back.
Holding something in its mouth, it threw it at me, and after energetically crying out once it suddenly disappeared back to the bottom of the lake.
Looking at the thing that I caught, I saw a big, blue, glass-like sphere.
「That is…..That’s a water dragon crystal.
And it’s also a rather big one.」
「It’s a crystal that forms inside of a dragon when they are born.
It gets bigger as they grow, and its purity also increases.
With this size…..it took around one hundred years, I’d guess.
It’s most likely that it’s from a water dragon that died and then that water dragon child gained possession of it.」
「Hmmm…..Is this something good?」
「Depending on the person, since you can use it to add attributes to your equipment, it’s convenient.
But I think that they are something important to dragons, who like shiny things and collect them as some sort of hobby.
That’s why it probably gave it to you as thanks.」
A baseball-sized crystal….Rather, a water crystal, I guess? Looking at it closely, I could see something like a liquid rippling around inside it.
Using all that Magical Take was quite a loss, but I might have gotten something good from it.
Even so, it might be my first time experiencing an animal getting playful with me.
I had a bit of a regretful feeling left inside my chest.
It was not just pets.
For my entire life, I had never gotten the chance to play with animals.
For some reason, they would all just run away.
Maybe if it was inside a game then I could play with them.
And regarding the water dragons, they weren’t even monsters, after all.
「That was cute…」
「Sukuna sure has a peculiar sense.」
Leave me alone.
「Hey, look at that….」
「Uoh, are you for real?」
「Damn, so cool….」
Before I entered Tria, while lining up for the inspection, I felt like the surrounding gazes were on us.
Being called a Fortress Town, Tria did a proper inspection.
In the first place, criminal players couldn’t get in, but it was probably the kind of thing done for show or something.
Since it was not just the players that went in and out of town, I guess you could say it was more of an inspection of the NPC’s.
Now then, their gazes were not focused on me, but towards Kohaku instead.
From what I could overhear of their whispering, it seemed like Kohaku was an existence rather popular among the NPC’s.
What was it, what was it…?
「Nn, well, I guess I’m also called like that.」
Kohaku looked a bit embarrassed and scratched her cheek.
A nickname, you could say that I guess, but…being famous amongst the NPC’s was quite a big thing, right?
When I thought of asking her what the name originated from, Kohaku started to talk about herself.
「In the past, a calamity-class Named monster attacked the capital, you see.
At that time, I was entrusted with the protection of the capital.
Its name was…..《Moving Ancient Castle -Alma-》, wasn’t it? It was literally a monster that was a moving castle, but…..maybe due to my youthful lack of discretion, I crushed that castle to pieces and so I was called that name.」
「I see, so it’s….《Castle Crusher (破城, hajou)》.」
Well, I’m sorry.
I said I got it, but I totally didn’t understand anything she just said….
The castle? To pieces? She crushed it? Because of her youthful lack of discretion?
She was smiling shyly, but I thought that that was quite a big topic, not something that you could really joke about.
And could you even call that something a human was capable of doing? ……Well, both of us were not really purely human, but…..
「If you think you can do it, you can do it, you know.」
「No, I wonder about that….」
「No, you can do it.
What I can do is something you can do for sure after all.」
From those direct and honest words she said proudly, I felt that something was strange.
It was not that something was strange, exactly, it was more a feeling that something was slightly amiss.
That was not usually something you would be able to tell about someone you just met.
That was how it should be, but even if I technically knew that, regarding the thing she said just then I thought, 「It’s not like her.」
「Hey, Kohaku, even by yourself, like….against a Named just like Aria, you could defeat them, right?」
I meant for those words to be taken lightheartedly.
However, Kohaku shook her head.
They were denied with a very serious tone.
「I can’t do that.」
「I have a wish.
That’s why, until I make sure it will come true, I can’t die.
Since there is a need to put your life in a battle against a Named, after all.」
Saying that with the smile of a young girl with a dream, Kohaku stared at me.
However, in contrast to that dazzling expression, what I felt from Koharu was a chill deep enough to freeze me to the core, and her eyes were like a deep, deep darkness.
What was inside those eyes were envy and jealousy.
It was a muddy emotion that you couldn’t ever have enough words to describe.
Ah, I see.
I finally understood.
The reason that Kohaku was clinging to me.
And the reason that she chose to help me, and the reason that she told me so much about so many things.
Following me after seeing me at the teahouse rather than immediately talking to me, and waiting to help me until I was on the verge of death.
Having really no need to call such behaviour strange, it made you wonder why she did those things.
「Let’s go somewhere else to talk.
Since it’s a bit of a long story, after all.」
This Kohaku, this person who lived in this world, just what was she carrying with her?
The beginning of her story was uncovered with an introduction from a system message.
『《Extra Quest: Onihime (Oni Princess) – Aspiration Tale of an Oni (Onihime Shoukeikitan)》』
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