Dragon Devouring Mage Chapter 255

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Dragon devouring mage

EPISODE 128

Age brings with it a second encounter with the ‘fever of wisdom’. The brief brilliance in Hubert’s eyes was replaced by a mixture of sheepishness and dismay as his voice echoed once again in my ears.

“Of course, this is just the first step, just a toddler’s first stride. Heheh…”

True to his words, what Hubert had achieved was not a complete enlightenment as the ‘Singular One’.

It was merely one facet, a starting point.

If the path to wisdom is compared to a journey, he was simply at the starting line with one signpost to guide him.

How far he still had to travel and how much time it would take to reach the proper destination was unknown.

Yet, most mages end their lives without even obtaining that one signpost.

Compared to them, Hubert was like one prepared to ascend to a world of dazzling stars from the firm ground.

‘It seems that Vermillion brother has grasped something as well.’

Recalling the eldest brother’s figure from afar during the past deployment ceremony, Russell smiled contently.

Thud, thud…

Exiting the medical tent, Russell didn’t head towards his barrack but rather the outskirts of the military camp.

Soldiers lined up at regular intervals around wooden palisades, keeping guard in preparation for a possible enemy attack.

“Your Grace, the Archduke?”

Startled by Russell’s sudden appearance, one of the guards bowed his head and was about to kneel when…

“Rest easy.”

Russell swiftly approached and patted the soldier’s shoulder.

“You’re not on duty now. Continue with your task.”

The bewildered soldier managed to ask as Russell passed through the palisade.

“Your Grace, would it not be wise to have an escort accompany you?”

After all, this was imperial territory, with imperial forces close by.

It was a reasonable suggestion for an Endymion soldier to make, but Russell merely shook his head.

“I’m just taking a look around. There shouldn’t be any issues.”

“But…”

The soldier, who tried to add more words out of concern, eventually fell silent.

Compared to a figure considered a war hero, even verging on a god of war, Russell faced no threat from many within the empire.

“I appreciate the sentiment.”

The soldier closed his mouth, and Russell, with a slight smile, hastened his pace.

He glanced at the sky while distancing himself from the friendly camp.

‘Excel Haste.’

With the casting of the spell, his footsteps became as light as if caught in a gale.

In a single stride, he covered dozens, hundreds of meters.

Whoosh!

The figure of Russell, who seemed as fast as lightning, came to a halt atop a small rocky hill at a considerable distance from the camp.

The flat-topped hill looked as if it had been sliced by a blade.

Even with the use of acceleration magic, it would take an ordinary person several hours to reach this place, which Russell arrived at in barely thirty minutes.

Russell took position on the hill, eyeing the towering clouds and declared,

“How about you show yourself?”

His voice was almost grim.

Eight circles had already started to preheat, and Russell’s stance was battle-ready.

Whoooosh…

As if in response, a dry wind, laden with sand, blew in.

“If you won’t come out…”

Russell aimed his fingertips at the heavens.

He would fire a maximum output magical bullet to both gain time and obscure his vision.

‘And then, prepare for a decisive battle.’

If his senses were not deceiving him, his opponent was a formidable enemy, one with whom victory was not guaranteed even with the decisive battle technique.

‘I can’t afford to spare any effort.’

In that moment…

【…You have sharp instincts.】

As if the clouds themselves twisted, a black bolt of lightning descended through them, targeting right in front of Russell with a thunderous roar.

Before the sound, the shockwave burst out, drawing multiple ripples in the air.

────────────!!!

Once the rising dust had settled, the figure revealed was a tall man, standing a whole head taller than Russell.

Black hair resembling Russell’s, and black horns, as if he were a dragon human hybrid.

However, the difference was striking: the skin of the man’s exposed body was an alarmingly pale ash color.

His eyes were, like his skin color, impassive and devoid of feeling.

An individual who seemed neither ally nor enemy presented an ambiguous atmosphere, showing a determination not to reveal any weaknesses. With care, Russell spoke up.

“It was you after all.”

He had felt this presence the moment he had left Hubert’s medical tent.

It was the same gaze that he had sensed while moving with Muyaho the day before.

“Fallen Dragon, Zilean Regist.”

Referring to him by the name he had been directly given, Russell asked coldly,

“What brings you here?”

Zilean’s following actions were completely unexpected by Russell.

“I came sensing the divinity of the Draconis Imperatoria, but perhaps even now it is insufficient…”

Instead of answering, Zilean mumbled to himself, looking intently at Russell before suddenly kneeling on one knee, bowing his head in front of him.

“In respect of the Draconis Imperatoria, I, who has not forgotten his essence though strayed from the path, honor the sovereign of all dragons.”

It was a stark contrast to his previously arrogant demeanor.

Ignoring a baffled Russell, Zilean stood up, dusting off his knees.

“Do not expect any further courtesy from me.”

“…?”

“My kneeling was only in deference to the divine aspect of the Draconis Imperatoria. You are nothing but a mere halfpenny as of yet.”

With that, he lightly massaged his neck and chest as if to himself, murmuring,

“Nonetheless… you’ve certainly improved considerably.”

“Explain clearly. Zilean Regist.”

A low, warning tone.

Russell, now displaying his draconic power, showed the dilated pupils and elongated eyes characteristic of his transformation.

Dragon Feer.

An intimidation exuded by the apex predator of a species. Any other being might find it difficult even to remain standing or keep consciousness.

But, a fallen dragon or not, Zilean Regist was still of draconic kind.

There was no reason for him to fear the incomplete fury of an embryonic dragon sovereign.

Still with indifferent eyes, Zilean slowly spoke up.

“Do you know how a Fallen Dragon, often called a Malign Dragon, comes into being? Are you aware of the method?”

Accompanied by his voice, Zilean’s memories traced back across time,

To the days, thousands of years before, and these ancient recollections spilled out along with his words.

.

.

Not all dragons may be aware from birth, but Zilean already had consciousness even before hatching from his egg.

As a result, even before being born, he was able to hear his mother’s voice and feel her warmth.

Day one, two, three, four.

Year one, two, three… and so on, hundreds of years.

Ever since he gained consciousness, his mother rarely left his side.

Even those times were usually brief.

But, even what seemed like an eternity came to an end…

【Just wait a little.】

One day, receiving another dragon’s visit,

Zilean’s mother gently caressed the still-hardened egg surface and spoke.

【I’ll definitely return before you hatch.】

At that time, he didn’t understand what that meant, but after hatching, he learned that there had been a great war.

The foes were the ferocious Giants.

From that day on,

Zilean in the egg awaited his mother’s return.

Day one, two, three, four, and again hundreds of years passed.

Despite the suitable hatching time, his mother did not return to the nest.

Nor did Zilean break free from his egg, shrouded by the deep darkness in his heart due to her absence.

Then, after hundreds more years passed, someone came seeking dry, dying Zilean…

“I found you…!”

Parched fingers touched the eggshell, and the colorless magic power that swarmed in dug into his heart’s cracks.

Whosh!

.

.

“And so, for thousands of years, I lived life as a Fallen Dragon.”

Zilean concluded in a calm voice. That a Fallen Dragon could be born under such circumstances…

‘No matter how young and feeble, a dragon is a dragon.’

If it was strong enough to turn a dragon into a Fallen Dragon, the one who sought out Zilean was surely no ordinary being.

Considering it happened thousands of years ago, perhaps a Transcendent.

‘Likely one who achieved transcendence through the ritual of the cult.’

While sorting out his thoughts, Russell asked Zilean,

“So, Zilean Regist. Why did you seek me?”

While the tale of the Malign Dragon’s birth was surprising, the questions remained.

“I came feeling the seedling of divinity within the Draconis Imperatoria.”

“…”

“Originally, I intended to borrow that power to break free from this cursed fate. But there is hardly enough strength in you yet, a mere halfpenny.”

Whoosh!

Behind him, black wings burst out.

Wings that reflected not even a speck of light, wings perfect for a Fallen Dragon, suitable for the name.

“Perhaps the silver lining is that even a halfpenny can hold the essence of the Draconis Imperatoria.”

Zilean began to rise slowly into the air.

“I’ll stay close to you using the clouds for a while.”

As he ascended several meters, he continued,

“In doing so, even the curse binding me will gradually diminish.”

After this, as if to say he had finished speaking, Zilean’s form shot upwards at great speed.

Whoosh!

This time, a black bolt of lightning surged from the ground towards the sky, much like the way he first appeared.

Once more a gap was opened in the dense clouds…!

【I’ll leave you with one warning─.】

…The last voice Zilean left behind carried on the breeze.

【─Be wary of the Empire, and of those lurking in its depths.】

Caught off guard by the sudden note of caution regarding the Empire,

“What?!”

Startled, Russell shouted out urgently, but no more replies came.

Only the dark clouds that Zilean left behind now enveloped the skies above Russell.

The Mage Who Swallowed a Dragon

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