The continent of Ark Strada.
Looking down towards it from the sky;
It was shaped like a dragon spreading its wings;
On it were five forces that were kept in balance.
I The dragon’s wing ~ Holy Espada Agency.
II The dragon’s body ~ Chevron Kingdom.
III The dragon’s jaw ~ Zepharos Empire.
IV The dragon’s tail ~ Labrock Trade Union.
V The dragon’s heart ~ Lautreamont Knight Country
“You’re so slow, Lucca!”
Jumping from one branch to another branch — a young girl of the Ecbald Tribe moved with skill and agility, whilst also turning to look behind her.
“Kiira, you’re going too fast…”
Lucca replied, struggling to keep up far behind her. Although Lucca’s voice was so distant that it was as faint as the buzz of a mosquito, Kiira had particularly sensitive ears…. The crowing of wild birds, the chirping on insects, and the footsteps of small animals — even amidst the forest that was filled with an euphony of such noises, Kiira was still able to clearly distinguish Lucca’s voice.
“I guess it can’t be helped…”
Kiira used the elastic recoil of a supple branch to leap forward. The whistling of the wind entered her sharp, elf-like ears. Her native Ecbald outfit also fluttered gently with the wind. The sunlight which meandered through the foliage was soft and dimmed. The leaves all around them had begun to turn red. The scent of the moist earth could be detected in their nostrils. It was as if the entirety of their beings were submerged in the forest.
In the blink of an eye, Kiira had returned to Lucca’s side. She stood calmly on a small branch with her hands on her hips.
“Are you okay? If you don’t display your true strength, you won’t gain the favour of the Mother Dragon, you know?”
Tears welled up in Lucca’s amethyst eyes as she firmly grasped hold of Kiira’s outstretched hand. Such a scene had been repeated countless times in the forest of their hometown. The warmth that she felt when holding hands with Lucca was undeniably dear to her—.
“Alright, let’s take a short break here then.”
Kiira took pause to allow Lucca some rest out of pity. After sitting down on a branch, she beckoned for Lucca to sit down beside her.
Uttering that with a soft voice, Lucca carefully sat down. Every move she made was rather clumsy and inflexible, completely unlike what was normal for the Ecbald Tribe. However, Kiira believed this was also Lucca’s charm.
“Lucca. My adorable fairy…”
“I-If you look at me like that…I’ll feel embarrassed.”
Lucca’s cheeks turned red.
“You really are cute though.”
Kiira gazed at Lucca’s side profile with fascination as she grabbed the water bottle that was fastened to her belt. She popped the cap off and took a sip. The cool spring water reinvigorated her entire body.
“Here. Have a sip too, Lucca.”
Upon receiving the bottle with both hands, Lucca took small, graceful sips. Kiira couldn’t help but smile because she looked just like a hamster nibbling on a piece of fruit.
“By the way, Lucca. Have you decided on a name for your Pal?”
Returning the bottle, Lucca shook her head and replied,
“I can’t…. We don’t even know…whether the Mother Dragon will give us dragon larvae…”
“Huh!? What are you saying!? The Mother Dragon will definitely give them to us!”
“Uh…Kiira, you mean to say that…you’ve already decided?”
“That goes without saying.”
Kiira nodded confidently at Lucca.
“Can you tell me…the name that you thought of?”
After displaying a triumphant smile, Kirra blurted out a name that was well-known in history.
“Gawain! I’ve decided that my Pal will be called Gawain!”
Gawain — it was the name of a legendary hero that even children were familiar with in the Ecbald Village.
The Ecbald Tribe were commonly known as the ‘fairies of the forest’. Having grown up amidst an ocean of trees, it would be reasonable to assume that Lucca had become accustomed to activities in the forest, but she had always seemed slow and unreliable.
“…I’m just slowing Kiira down.”
Lucca dejectedly hung her shoulders after returning the bottle to Kiira. Perhaps it was just an illusion, but her ears also appeared to be a little droopy. Even though the people outside the forest all used the term ‘elf ears’ to collectively refer to those of the Ecbald Tribe, the shape of each individual’s ears were naturally different. Among them, Lucca’s ears were especially beautiful. Kiira cared deeply about Lucca, and so she knew this better than anyone else.
“Haha, don’t take it to heart. If you keep your head down in misery like this, you’ll ruin those beautiful ears for nothing.”
After Kiira laughed boldly, she energetically slapped Lucca’s back.
With her centre of gravity destabilised, Lucca almost fell off the branch.
Kiira quickly reached out and grabbed onto the hem of Lucca’s clothing near her neck.
“Phew, that was close…”
After a struggle, Lucca finally managed to sit down again and breathed a sigh of relief. She then looked across and glared at Kiira.
She might’ve thought that she looked rather brave like that, but she actually looked like a nervous little animal and was even cuter.
“Don’t worry, Lucca. Compared to those who live outside the forest, you’re fairly accustomed to this forest environment. You just need to have some more faith in yourself.”
Kiira closed her eyes, focused her mind, and felt the movements of the wind and nature around her. Just a while ago — roughly a hundred children had been simultaneously sent into Albion Forest, much like a flock of animals set free to roam the wild. Many of the children felt helpless amidst the denseness of the forest and lost their will to go on.
“I want to go home!”
Such cries made their way into Kiira’s ears. These cowardly and weak children basically stood no chance of entering into a contract with a dragon. With a faint sense of superiority in her heart, Kiira displayed a calm smile.
That was the name of this quintessential rite of passage. Its purpose was to obtain a larva from the Mother Dragon who resided deep within the forest. Having just celebrated their seventh birthdays in quick succession not long ago, both Kiira and Lucca had received a notice from the Knight Country’s government. In a letter delivered by the palace courier, a clear order was made for Kiira and Lucca to participate in the ceremony, and it was also stamped with the seal of Paladin Oswald for authenticity. The moment that she saw the seal on the letter, Kiira felt such elation at the thought that she would finally be able to start the journey towards her ‘dream’.
“There’s no time for you to feel depressed right now, Lucca. We still have great dreams waiting to be realised.”
After Kiira tried her best to cheer Lucca up with a buoyant voice, she placed both hands on her shoulders.
“We’re going to become Dragonars and perform the ultimate Dragon Dance — the ‘Twin-Winged Oratorio’! Have you forgotten that we swore an oath at the Shrine of Jylha?”
“Yes, we did swear.”
Lucca solemnly nodded.
“That technique requires the cooperation of two Dragonars. If either of us are missing, that dream will forevermore remain a dream. We need the Mother Dragon to give us larvae no matter what!”
“Yes…I’ll do my best.”
Although low in volume, Lucca’s voice was filled with determination.
“That’s the spirit, Lucca.”
Revealing a satisfied smile, Kiira briskly stood up.
“Alright then, let’s go and give the Mother Dragon a visit!”
At that moment, Kiira was filled with confidence. She was convinced that both of them would be able to form a contract with the dragons.
“Kiira and Lukka ~A.S.D.~1358.10~” is closed.
(All 2 of 2 parts) (14/9/20)
Continues on to Chapter 1 – Ursula’s Visit