As I climbed up the stairs, Albert saw me alone, so he asked.
“The dragon fledgling?”
“His name is Blanc. I gave him that name. Prince, please call him that, too!”
“It seems like he’s scared of you, Prince. He wants to eat downstairs.”
At this, Albert burst into laughter.
“…Did you tell him not to come up here?”
“Could I have talked to him without you around?”
“No, I guess not…”
There’s nothing wrong with what he said, but why did it feel like something’s amiss?
And Albert’s good mood was also strange.
Yet my suspicions couldn’t get resolved.
* * *
I sprinkled some sugar atop my French toast. It was a luxury that I could enjoy this meal without craving dessert separately.
As the toast melted with sugar inside my mouth, I smiled happily.
But I felt Albert’s gaze on me, so I felt embarrassed.
“Prince, you should start eating, too.”
“You really show all your emotions on your face, Rosé.”
“Haha. I’ll take that as a compliment.”
If someone were to hide their emotions while eating, could they still be called a human being?
Looking at him with slight resentment, I asked Albert a question that I’d been meaning to ask.
“Prince, why do you call Blanc a dragon fledgling? Is he different from a regular dragon?”
It was about Blanc’s identity.
“You can interpret it literally. A dragon fledgling isn’t a dragon yet—a child who has yet to become an adult.”
“Then what’s the difference between a dragon and a dragon fledgling?”
Wasn’t a fledgling eventually going to become a dragon anyway?
I remembered Blanc telling me not to call him a dragon, and that made it seem like dragon fledglings were a completely different race from dragons.
“They’re not the same. Dragons are all-powerful and omnipotent. They can cause natural calamities and even cross time and space. A fledgling can’t do any of that yet.”
Albert explained further—
Truthfully, many dragon fledglings were being born. However, the young fledglings were weak and defenseless, so most of them died at an early age.
Eventually, the dragon fledglings who were born later started disguising themselves as a defense mechanism.
The transparent barrier around them was made of dragon mana, and so their real appearance could only be seen by mages or the fledglings’ contractors.
To become an adult dragon, the fledgling would have to endure 500 years first.
After that, they would undergo the ordeal of metamorphosis.
There are two options that a fledgling could choose between to get through this.
First, they could find a contractor.
A contract with a dragon was with one’s life on the line.
The person who’d enter a contract with a dragon fledgling must give their life to the dragon, then they would start sharing the same lifespan.
And not only life—but also power.
But in return, the pain each would feel would be split between them equally.
The problem here was that the process of undergoing the metamorphosis to become a full-fledged dragon was filled with excruciating pain. In most cases, the contractor would die without being able to endure that pain.
Even if they would survive this process, the contractor often became unable to use the power of the dragon.
The dragon fledgling would be able to endure the pain, but the contractor could not.
Eventually, they would both die.
In history, most of the contractors who survived were mages. They were able to endure the pain through training their mana to the limit.
After Albert explained like this, I asked a question.
“But why can’t dragons help out the dragon fledglings?”
“It’s not that they can’t. It’s just that dragons don’t usually take care of other beings.”
I realized then that dragons were individualistic creatures.
After Albert answered my question, he continued explaining.
The second way to become a dragon!
They could just endure the metamorphosis alone.
Depending on the strength and mana they accumulated over the years, it’s possible that fledglings could endure it all by themselves.
But this method wasn’t used often because the dragon fledglings, just like humans, mostly died without being able to overcome the pain.
With a devastated expression, I summarized what Albert explained so far.
“So the final ending for everyone is just… death.”
“That’s right. So if you’re not a prodigious mage, don’t even think about becoming a fledgling’s contractor. That’s why people don’t really pay much attention to them.”
That’s why throughout history, successfully metamorphosed dragons could only be counted with one or two hands.
In fact, because the metamorphosis of a dragon is so difficult, they haven’t been well documented.
“As a joke, people say that being a dragon’s contractor is the most painful torture in the world.”
Wasn’t that just like having a terminal illness?!
“So the fledgling that you brought in can’t be called a dragon, Rosé.”
“A dragon is a creature that has larger horns, a huge body and could polymorph however they want.”
“I can’t believe dragons are such incredible beings.”
Albert continued speaking as he watched the amazed expression on my face.
“Don’t get too attached because you don’t know when he’ll die. Even more so because he’s 499 years old now, so he has a little less than a year left to live.”
Blanc, who I believed was an all-powerful dragon, had a time limit on his life.
After hearing what Blanc would have to go through, I suddenly felt weak.
Wait, no. How about giving him some special training?
While imagining an intense workout schedule for Blanc as though I’ve been possessed by a PT instructor, I heard Albert’s voice once more.
“Let him go.”
When I asked back, Albert had a cold look behind his eyes.
“I can see you becoming attached to him. No, you’re already attached. Just send him out to the wild again.”
At Albert’s sudden words, I could only stare blankly in return.
No, why should I do that?
Comments for chapter "Chapter 22"
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