Dragon Devouring Mage Chapter 203

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Dragon devouring mage

EPISODE.102

The royal palace ball, which had been going on for three nights, came to a peaceful conclusion. As time passed, the capital quickly began to regain its former self.

Whether it was due to the royal family showing its strength during the ball, or the buildings that had collapsed being restored in the blink of an eye, I couldn’t be sure…

Nevertheless, the once ominous atmosphere dissipated over the capital and the markets started bustling again, bringing warmth and life back to the faces of the people moving through them.

And then, four more months passed.

“Master.”

Russell made his presence known, and a voice responded from inside.

“Come in.”

Creak—

The door, well-oiled at its hinges, swung open with a rattle.

“You said you would come around noon, and you’re right on time.”

Daria chuckled as she looked at Russell who stepped inside.

“Yes, now what could our youngest disciple want to see his master for today, I wonder…”

She tilted her head as if curious, prompting Russell to pull out a document he had been keeping inside his pocket and hand it over to her.

“Hmm?”

Plastered conspicuously on the document was the title ‘Field Study Request Form.’

“It’s been quiet for a while, and now you’re off on another field study, huh?”

Daria, by now used to this, flipped over the first page of the document with a wry smile.

As she glanced over the contents, she asked casually,

“You’re going on a field study, sure, but have you spoken to Her Highness the Princess?”

As if it were a given, Russell nodded.

“Of course. I received permission after meeting with her beforehand.”

At the mention of permission granted, Daria raised an eyebrow meaningfully.

“Field studies shouldn’t happen so frequently; perhaps Her Highness has somewhat given up.”

Crunch—

She picked up a cookie from the plate in front of her and laughed,

“If you keep flying off like this, you might just get a scolding on your wedding night.”

Not entirely wrong, Daria flicked her finger at Russell, who grimaced at her remark.

Thump—

She pushed the bowl filled with cookies gently towards Russell’s side.

“I baked them myself. Would you like to try?”

“Thank you.”

Russell picked up a cookie, and taking a bite, the chocolate bits crunched perfectly with the baked dough, accompanied by a richness different from the chocolate and dough—’Almonds, perhaps?’

The skill behind the baking was extraordinary, almost unbelievable that they were homemade, easily on par with a professional pastry shop.

Watching Russell swiftly finish a cookie, Daria murmured almost to herself,

“I should’ve let that child try them too…”

Regret and longing lingered in her voice as it dissipated into thin air.

“Eh?”

Russell, pausing, turned back to Daria, who shook her head.

“No, it’s nothing.”

Quickly shifting the topic, she turned her attention back to the document in her hand.

“Anyway, the place you’re going this time is the Third Nation, the Akard Mercantile Nation…”

As its name suggests, Akard was a country of advanced trade and exchange.

Too small to be considered a true ‘nation’ by some standards,

‘Many of the King’s nobles possess domains that could rival the size of the Akard Mercantile Nation.’

Thinking of his own domain, which had expanded considerably since he became a duke, it could cover about sixty percent of Akard’s land.

It was more apt to call it a city-state by size rather than a traditional nation.

‘Underneath such a small nation lies the darkest underbelly of the continent.’

Recalling information about Akard, Russell smirked inwardly.

Gambling, pleasure, money laundering, drugs, and slavery—this underbelly was precisely what made Akard infamous.

What was remarkable was how this darkness allowed Akard to maintain its status as an independent nation among the surrounding powers.

‘The underbelly’s influence, woven into Akard, ensures that even the empire cannot easily meddle with it.’

Though the denizens of the shadowy depths lurked in darkness, their influence extended to the surface, where figures of importance operated.

The very culture that should be eroding the nation was ironically sustaining it.

Akard Mercantile Nation was indeed an ironic place.

Conscious of this fact, Daria spoke up as if with a hint of concern,

“I might be overstepping by saying this… but be careful.”

Lifting the seal for the document, she issued a brief warning,

“The darkness held by those who dwell in the deep shadows is always deeper than you anticipate.”

From his days as a freelancer, Russell had encountered those in the underworld several times.

Yet, relying solely on those encounters would be a hasty judgment,

‘If we’re comparing to water, my encounters with the underbelly have only ever been near the surface…”

The true depths, the abyss, what kind of darkness lurked there was something he had yet to experience.

Thus, with a resolute expression, Russell nodded firmly.

“I’ll keep it in mind.”

“Good.”

Then, thump.

Daria’s seal stamped a vivid red mark on the document.

Permission for Russell’s field study was officially granted.

.

.

“Now, what else do I need to take with me…”

In the following days, Russell busied himself with preparations for the research trip.

It wasn’t anything particularly important, but still…

It was in the midst of this hustle and bustle that Muyaho visited Russell.

“Hey, Guy. Are you going somewhere far off?”

Observing Russell packing spare clothes and a water flask, Muyaho asked this question, while Russell, stowing away a few plain robes into his spatial storage, nodded in confirmation.

“Yes. I have personal matters to attend to.”

“Personal matters? For how long?”

“Hmm…”

Russell pondered the duration, then shook his head.

“I’m not sure. A few months if it’s short, but it could take up to a year if things get prolonged.”

“Yeesh!”

Startled by Russell’s answer, Muyaho jumped up from his seat and rushed over to him.

“You made a promise that you’d be my sparring partner every time I visit the capital, and now you’re telling me you’ll be away for that long?”

“Why not spar with someone else?”

It wasn’t clear whether it was at Russell’s request or due to other reasons, but not just Gillian Pearson but Daria and Nicolau had agreed to occasionally spar with Muyaho.

With such formidable partners available, why insist on him?

At that suggestion, Muyaho flopped down right there.

Ignorant of decorum, he rolled back and forth over Russell’s desk in a display of petulance.

“I don’t know, I don’t! They’re not as fun as you are, Guy. They’re not fun—!”

Despite being barely half a year into his seventh circle compared to those who had been Transcendents for well over a decade,

Muyaho found them lacking in amusement compared to Russell. Whether that was exasperating or simply absurd, Russell wasn’t sure.

As he contemplated the response, Muyaho sat up with a sign of having a brilliant idea.

“That’s it!”

Clap!

Clapping his hooves together and wagging his tail back and forth, Muyaho beamed at his own suggestion.

“How about this, Guy?”

“……?”

“Let me come with you!”

Russell, dumbfounded, could only ask,

“Who wants to…”

“Me!”

“Go with whom?”

“Go with you, Guy!”

Certain he had come up with a brilliant solution, Muyaho crossed his arms with a smug expression.

“Of course, I’m not planning to cut in line or anything. I made a promise to the princess… Uh—big sister.”

Why he was calling Hecate ‘big sister’ when he was likely her senior in age, and what this ‘cutting-in-line’ referred to, Russell could only wonder.

Setting aside several questions that came to mind, Russell reasoned internally.

‘Being a baron, even an honorary one, traveling together shouldn’t pose a major concern…’

With that thought, he responded,

“Will the Beastfolk in the forest be alright without you?”

“You’re still misunderstanding. The Beast King is quite different from human monarchs. If I tell them I’m going on a trip for a while, they’ll probably just shrug it off.”

Remembering Muyaho’s explanation from before, Russell sighed.

Strictly speaking, it wouldn’t hurt to have her company.

She was among the most powerful Transcendents, after all.

‘With Lady Muyaho’s company, the danger in situations will likely be reduced considerably.’

Considering where they had to pass through on their way to their primary destination, Muyaho’s appearance, though distinctive, wasn’t a serious issue.

Russell shared similar distinct traits with his black hair and red eyes, but disguises with magicked artifacts would suffice.

He sighed again, resolving his thoughts, and nodded.

“Very well, but I’ll report this to my superiors first.”

There was no reason for them to object, but it was necessary to report the additional departure of a Transcendent-level individual.

“Oh, you’re saying I can come?”

Muyaho’s lips curled into a big smile, thrilled by the unexpected outcome of throwing a tantrum.

However, Russell was not finished,

“There are conditions, of course.”

“Conditions?”

“In any situation, you’ll prioritize my judgment and follow my directives.”

Considering she was still inexperienced with human society, Muyaho hurriedly nodded as if it were the most natural thing.

“Yup, yup!”

“If you agree to that, it’s fine by me.”

“Understood, Guy. I’ll remember that.”

Feeling things settle into place, Russell resumed packing. After a moment, he paused, turning to look at Muyaho with new curiosity.

“But one more thing…”

“Uh-huh?”

One question he’d set aside earlier now came to mind.

“Why do you refer to Her Highness as ‘big sister’?”

“Huh, um, well…”

Stuttering for a moment, Muyaho swiftly averted his gaze.

Avoiding eye contact, he mumbled like he was making an excuse,

“It’s… a promise among women. It’s something you, Guy, don’t need to know.”

It was obvious he didn’t want to share.

.

.

A few more days passed.

As they stepped out of the warp gate, having completed all preparations, Muyaho asked Russell,

“So where are we heading, Guy? To the Akard Mercantile Nation?”

“Our first destination is indeed Akard, but we won’t stay long.”

Akard was merely a gateway to their true destination. The real end of their journey was still to come.

“Then?”

Fading out his voice, Russell looked sharp with an intense glint in his eyes as he declared,

“After passing through Akard, we’re headed to… the Empire.”

The Dragon Devouring Mage Translator.

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