Dragon Devouring Chapter 171

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EPISODE.86

Even disregarding the introduction as Ioh’s mother—a declaration that was surprising given her youthful appearance—the word that caught the attention of the group was “Ménéur.”

“Goodness─.”

“Ménéur, you say……”

Scholars with abundant magical knowledge began to murmur among themselves, while Hubert and Vermillion exchanged a few words behind Russell.

“If it’s Ménéur, it could mean……”

“If the information I remember is correct, in this age without the High Elves, I understand it refers to a guided leader of the elves.”

“I seem to recall reading such a record as well.”

Russell remembered information about the elves he had once seen in a book, following the two’s casual exchange.

‘If translated into human language, Ménéur refers to a leader or a figure of guidance…’ According to legend, the number of Ménéurs among all elves did not exceed five in a century, marking their extreme rarity.

The uncommon way in which the elves treated Ioh from their very first meeting seemed now to make sense.

I had never guessed her mother would be a Ménéur.

‘Is the slightly lighter hair color due to their lineage?’

That could be the case.

Just as Ioh inherited the blood of the dragon, making her hair white, it seemed possible that one of her parents could share that same bloodline, albeit a less overt manifestation.

“Word has spread that you have been a great help to the child in the outside world, which we are well aware of.”

Eye contact was made with Russell.

“On behalf of the White Maple Tree Tribe, and personally as a mother indebted to you, I offer my thanks, Russell.”

Then, she slightly bowed her head.

“In normal times, we would offer you lavish hospitality for saving our kin, but given the current situation, I hope you will forgive our modest welcome.”

Aerin’s polite words were met with a casual dismissal from Russell.

“It’s alright. No need to worry.”

After all, expecting such treatment in the midst of battle was nonsensical, not to mention it wasn’t his wish to begin with.

“To think I’d have the honor of meeting a fabled Ménéur of the elf tribe. I am Niccolò Machiavelli, the one in overall charge of this punitive expedition.”

With that, Niccolò stepped forward and introduced himself respectfully, followed by Amelia Merwin, who was floating in the air, nodding her head.

“……Sub-commander. Amelia Merwin─yeah.”

From her tone, she seemed uncertain whether to use formal or casual speech—a dilemma, given she was part fairy, though she was raised among humans.

At her odd manner of speaking, Aerin gently smiled and responded.

“We are just as unfamiliar with human customs and laws, so you needn’t trouble yourself to speak so formally.”

“Uh-huh……yeah.”

Although she nodded, it looked like it would take a while for her to revert back to her usual speech.

With the pleasantries exchanged, Niccolò decided it was time to get to the heart of the matter.

“If you’re agreeable, I would like to discuss our plans moving forward……”

“Our future plans?”

“Yes. Prior to our arrival, we had established a few strategies within the kingdom, but to execute those, we need the permission of all the residents of the Great Forest, including the elves. And before that……”

Niccolò glanced around, sighing.

“……we should first take care of the wounded.”

On his cue, the members of the punitive force standing by opened their personal subspaces.

In addition to individual subspaces, they had also brought artifacts imbued with subspace magic, all for situations just like this.

“This is……”

“Ho?”

Aerin, a dwarf, and the representative of the Feather Tribe watched in surprise as various items poured out from the opened subspaces.

“These are healing medicines.”

“On this side, are these human bandages and herbs?”

“All of these were brought from our home country. We had to leave in haste, so we could not prepare potions in abundance, but with the skill of the elves……”

As space after space broke open, a deluge of items, herbs, and other varied goods spilled out.

.

.

Thanks to the goods provided by Endymion, the work of tending to the wounded progressed more quickly than anticipated. Meanwhile, the representatives of the fairy tribe and the people from Endymion continued their discussions standing on the spot. Under normal circumstances, they would have set up camp, but such luxury wasn’t feasible here.

‘It can’t be helped,’ Russell muttered to himself.

It was Niccolò who broke the silence.

“Before we get into our discussion, may I ask one more question?”

“…What would you like to know?”

“Are all the fairies who have escaped from the Great Forest and Underworld gathered here? The numbers seem rather small.”

Though he hadn’t counted exactly, the number of fairies present, including the injured, seemed to be around five thousand. It was significantly lower than expected, even accounting for the smaller population of fairies compared to humans.

At Niccolò’s question, the faces of the three representatives, including Aerin, tightened.

“That is indeed the case.”

A dwarf introducing himself as Eitri began with a sigh, conveying the situation.

“Not all the fairy tribe members were able to gather in one place to escape, and with repeated defeats, they scattered.”

The chieftain of the Feather Tribe, resembling a crow, chimed in.

“Our kinsmen are doing their utmost to search, but with flying monsters prowling the skies, the situation is far from favorable.”

“Then Miss Ioh as well……”

As Russell murmured, seeming to recall something, Aerin shook her head.

“Ioh was here until a few days ago.”

“……?”

“She left to rescue a group of isolated fairies found nearby. Unless something unusual occurs, she should return before long.”

“I see.”

Niccolò nodded, having grasped the situation.

“Then, let me explain the strategy we have been considering. Firstly, one of the primary goals established back in our nation is to form a siege.”

With the 5th and 7th Legions’ imminent arrival, their collective force would nearly reach sixty thousand. With that number, they could create a much tighter encirclement than the current one.

“And the second objective is to rout the monsters within the siege and drive them back to the depths of the Great Forest……yeah.”

Amelia added to the explanation, stealing glances at Aerin and the representative of the Feather Tribe.

“It means the battlefield shifts from the Red Gorge to the Great Forest.”

Aerin, too, murmured to herself as if comprehending the meaning of those words.

If battle tactics were to proceed in such a manner, inevitably, the Great Forest would suffer damage.

“Yes. It’s because of that very issue that we need the understanding of the fairy tribes.”

As is widely known, the elves loathe the destruction of nature intensely.

If their consent isn’t obtained in advance, there could be severe consequences. That’s why Niccolò added hastily,

“While we cannot guarantee the extent of damage, Endymion is prepared to aid in reconstruction if necessary. We can also provide new residences for the fairy tribes of the Great Forest if needed.”

At a glance, it seemed like a unilateral offer of assistance from Endymion, but in reality, there was a carefully calculated political motivation behind it.

‘Restoring a forest to its original state could take at least decades.’

It might take even longer for the Great Forest.

‘Perhaps fifty to a hundred years or more.’

The land within the Great Forest is said to be graced by the Mother Goddess of Earth. The vigour of its soil and the growth of its verdure were exceptionally robust.

However, due to its vastness, full recovery would inevitably take considerable time—a period rather short for long-lived fairies but multi-generational for humans.

‘If we can host the fairies of the Great Forest within our nation during that time?’

For Endymion, it could also mean an increase in national strength.

The offer wasn’t as selfless as it appeared in the long run.

While Russell reflected on these political undertones, Aerin exchanged looks with the chieftain of the Feather Tribe and let out a long sigh.

“As painful as it is to see such a beautiful place as the Great Forest damaged, it appears we have no choice.”

“The reality is, we too anticipated the likelihood of the situation evolving in this way.”

“It would be overly optimistic to think all the monsters could be eradicated from the gorge.”

Contrary to expectations that persuasion might take hours, acquiescence came surprisingly quickly.

‘Have the fairies of the Great Forest moved beyond their past obstinacy?’

Given their notorious stubbornness, persuasion should have been difficult. The tide of the times and changes in their thought processes, coupled with being pushed to the brink by monsters, seemed to have impacted the fairy tribe.

The meeting continued, covering various topics including the dispatch of a fact-finding mission to investigate any anomalies inside the frontiers.

The situation had reached a critical juncture. Subsequent planning proceeded efficiently.

By the time the detailed plans were established, evening was approaching.

“Soon, the monsters will swarm upon us.”

“We’ll need to prepare for their onslaught.”

Hubert muttered, and Vermillion, feeling his muscles stiffening, casually countered while stretching his joints.

Then, tapping Russell on the shoulder, he asked,

“By the way, what’s caught the priest’s attention since a while ago?”

“Oh, the combination method used by the elves for their medicinal herbs seemed a bit unfamiliar.”

While not his specific area of expertise, Russell did have a basic understanding of magical pharmacology.

However, the elves’ method of combining herbs appeared to differ considerably from basic knowledge.

“As it’s not well-known, besides archery and spirit magic, alchemy is also one of the elves’ strengths.”

Hubert murmured.

“An elf’s affinity with nature allows them to sense the inherent power in medicinal plants. They use that power to concoct their remedies …”

“Ha!”

Upon hearing Hubert’s explanation, Vermillion lit up, exclaiming in amazement.

“If what the priest is saying is correct, the elves might also know how to combine herbs to further enhance muscles.”

How did the subject of alchemical practice veer off in such a direction?

Had he gone completely muscle-mad?

With that thought, Russell and Hubert exchanged wry smiles, sharing the same notion in their heads.

‘If there was such a method-‘

‘Their bodies wouldn’t be so slender.’

They couldn’t share their thoughts with the muscle-enthusiast Vermillion, who was bubbling with anticipation.

Unaware of their skepticism, Vermillion excitedly continued,

“After the war with the monsters is over, I’ll have to ask the elves about it-?!”

That’s when the commotion began.

Among the shadows deepening with the setting sun, one wavered conspicuously, seeming ready to plummet at any moment.

On approach, the floundering shadow, with wings, fell downward.

Thump!

In the fallen feathers, a Feather Tribe man tremblingly lifted his head, his body quaking.

“I have fallen behind, the Sentinel with silver hair…”

He stammered, struggling to string words together.

“…In danger.”

The Mage Who Swallowed a Dragon

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