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Chapter 3: Sage Asbal
In the dim underground passage.
We followed Malacia, who led us with a lantern in hand. With her hand still holding mine, Julieta’s footsteps sounded joyful.
“You seem to be in great spirits, Julieta.”
As I smiled at her while swinging our interlocked hands lightly, Julietta replied mirthfully.
“You see, this is the first time Father has walked together with me like this.”
“…That is true.”
I gave a bitter smile. Though I had recovered my memories from my past life, it wasn’t as if I had lost the memories of my time as Anderheim.
Prime Minister Anderheim couldn’t be called a good father. Not to mention his only daughter Julieta, he did not even bother to pay attention to his eldest son Sigurd.
“The pain and despair of being abandoned still lingers in my heart… but if Father walks with me like this, I do not mind becoming the Sacrificial Priestess.”
“You’re such a…”
Nevermind, it’s pitiful.
I drew my face close to Julieta and dropped a light kiss on her silver hair. Malacia, who walked ahead, was round-eyed; but Julieta smiled bashfully.
At long last, when we reached the end of the underground passage, an enormous gate of steel towered over us.
Ahead of them with half of his body soaking in the underground lake; sealed with a part of his soul stolen was the Ancient Dragon Kharis.
Palcemith’s history dates back a thousand years.
Ruled by the Ancient Dragon Kharis it was situated at the northernmost tip of the continent of Yugena; a land where no crops grew, prey for hunting were few and far between and even the ground was frozen and barren. At the end of a fierce struggle with an army with the hero Palcemith and the Sage Asbal at its centre, a part of the dragon’s soul known as the ‘Core’ was taken away; his four limbs nailed to the ground and he was sealed in an underground lake. Just before he was sealed, Kharis placed a death curse upon the hero Palcemith who faced him. Sage Asbal protected him and received the curse himself. But utilising a secret spell that made use of the surface of the underground lake, he wrote his life of twenty-two years, into one that lasted fifty-five.
Since then, the descendants of Sage Asbal all died exactly at fifty-five, unless they met an unforeseen accident or injury. No doubt, Anderheim and Julieta were the exceptions. Incidentally, Julieta’s grandfather died at the young age of forty-two by being swallowed up by falling rocks on a visit to his domain. Whether it was an assassination or not, the truth was unclear. Anderheim’s fate was also partly due to his father imposing a heavy tax upon the citizens of his domain. With the changing of hands each generation, the taxes had kept on increasing and the accumulated profits turned into gold. The gold was stored in a treasury, hidden deep under my residence. I intended to make use of it later on.
“Let me go on ahead to Kharis’ side alone for now. You two wait here.”
“That goes unsaid…It is frightening being near a starving Lord Kharis.”
“Fufu, but leave the gates open. I want to see what’s going to happen very clearly.”
“Ah, Julieta. Thank you.”
It was the duty of the present Head Priest to open the gates that led to the underground lake where the Ancient Dragon Kharis was sealed.
Malacia’s hands gently pushed open the gates that were to originally open only when a sacrifice was offered.
A presence full of mana appeared out of thin air.
Even Malacia and Julietta held their breaths in fear, but I took the lantern from Malacia’s hands and stepped into the gates unbothered.
It was a sight I had seen countless times in the game in my past life.
The cobblestone path under my feet led straight into the jaws of the Ancient Dragon Kharis. It was the path the sacrifice took. The ceiling of the enormous cavern that encompassed the underground lake was lit up with countless magical lights. They were the fairies that were led here, attracted by the ancient dragon’s mana. In the midst of the light; body half under the water of the lake; lay slumbering the lustrous silver-scaled ancient dragon.
The sound my leather shoes made against the floor, although faint, seemed to catch the attention of the ancient dragon. He shifted his blood-red eyes to stare down at the ‘Human’ that appeared after a long time.
Walking up to the point just below the sacrifice altar, I paid my respects to the ancient dragon. I then abruptly loosened the collar of my blouse.
Ignoring the doubts raised from afar, I unfastened my jabot1 and laid my neck bare. The ancient dragon extended his next and opened his mouth filled with sharp fangs wide at me under the altar. Before Julieta could even scream, a bulky tongue slithered out from in between the fangs and gently traced my neck.
“Do you know the spell to understand my words, man with the scent of that annoying blood?”
A low voice resounded in my head.
I, who smiled at the result being just what I expected, once again paid respects to the Ancient Dragon Kharis by prostrating in front of him.
“It is quite so, Your Grace Kharis. My heart trembles from the unexpected joy from the honour of waiting upon you. I am Anderheim Yucht Asbal. A descendant of Sage Asbal.”
“A descendant of that man I see…it has been a long time. Well, that’s great. More than a thousand years have passed since I spoke to a human. It is good to chat about something to kill time.”
That sentence too was within my calculations.
In the second half of the game, the main story unfolded. There was a part in it where the heroine who fell to Head Priest Malacia’s schemes would meet the Ancient Dragon Kharis for the first time. Trapped behind the gates that led to the underground lake, the heroine would panic on seeing the enormous dragon in front of her. But because the Ancient Dragon Kharis approached her and licked her neck, the heroine; and the hero who arrived later on; were able to converse with him. Head Priest Malacia expected the heroine to be eaten by the ancient dragon and locked her in the underground lake. But in fact, due to the impact of mana circulation in his body, the ancient dragon could not consume the sacrifice till the day the ceremony was set to be held.
“A maiden possessing the sacred power I see…it is quite unusual to meet one before they become a sacrifice. Well, that’s great. More than a thousand years have passed since I spoke to a human. It is good to chat about something to kill time.”
Originally, this was supposed to be the line when the heroine first interacted with the ancient dragon.
Later on, there existed a few scenes of the capture targets overcoming the unfolding trials and tribulations with the help of the ancient dragon’s power.
Firstly, I will snatch away the friendship with this powerful ancient dragon away from the protagonists. Originally in the story, because Julieta becoming the Sacrificial Priestess was not accepted, the heroine Nasha was treated as the Sacrificial Priestess till the end with no change. However, now, Nasha no longer had the shackles of the Sacrificial Priestess binding her. Moreover, she even became the Crown Prince’s fiancée. The chances of her visiting the ancient dragon at this moment were next to none.
“I’ll take you up on the offer. I wish to introduce my daughter and the current Head Priest, would you permit me to do so?”
“Oh, those two trembling by the gates? Interesting. Quickly call for them.”
“As you will.”
I temporarily returned to the gates and hugged a teary Julieta who rushed to me, and beckoning Malacia who had an expression of disbelief on his face; I once again returned to the ancient dragon’s side.
The two had seen me seemingly exchange words with the dragon after having my neck licked and timidly exposed their necks to Kharis’ tongue.
“Your Grace Kharis, I am the Head Priest Malacia.”
“I am Anderheim’s daughter, Julieta O’Shayne Asbal.”
Although corrupt, they were still the National Church’s Head Priest and a young noble lady who had received Queen training since young.
The two; now able to freely communicate; elegantly offered their respects, prompting a low rumble of satisfaction from Kharis.
“Great. The one who paid respects to me have all been sacrifices awaiting their death. I was getting tired of their whining.”
“I am flattered to hear that.”
“Speak. I can sense from your scent that pleases me. You wish to do something preposterous to shake up this boring kingdom…am I right?”
“Certainly. I believe Your Grace Kharis will greatly enjoy it.”
Ancient Dragon Kharis ruled over a frozen land. He wasn’t an evil dragon, but he wasn’t a friendly neighbour either.
The factor that influenced his actions wasn’t the inherent good or evil of things but whether it gave him joy or not.
In the game, the existence that piqued his interest simply happened to be the heroine.
If the existence he met were of my camp, getting cooperation from him will be easy.
“Then, I shall explain now. Starting with the circumstances regarding the kingdom…”
Sage Asbal’s descendant will destroy the kingdom the hero Palcemith built.
What an irony it was for the beginning of the end to be right under the Royal castle.
Hasr: The plot thickens…Check out my new shoujo series When She Becomes a Witch if you haven’t already!
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