Chapter 16 – Exploration

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Ruri is currently exploring the castle in her cat form, with footsteps that if were audibly loud enough, would go *tip* *tap* *tip* *tap* as her bare paw touches the floor.

The highest building, located on the summit of the rocky mountain where the dragon king lives is District 1. District 2 would be the building below it and so forth, with 12 districts in total forming the complete castle.

Just like how a gamer would attempt to complete a game 100%, Ruri is attempting to explore all 12 districts. Unfortunately, it has been days since she started this adventure of hers, she has yet to even come close to clearing the 1st district.
With her small cat steps distance, even if the time Ruri spent studying was taken off from the equation, it was just taking too long a time.

If just one district is this big, how big are the rest of them?

That said, there is only one place left that Ruri haven’t explored in this district… that is the Treasure Vault!
No adventure is complete without a treasure hunt event. And treasure vault with valuable artifacts passed down through generations of the dragon king lineage is a must explore hotspot.

However, just because Ruri was a Cherished One doesn’t mean that she was granted absolute free reign. The treasure vault was off-limits at first, but she utilized her cat charm to the max.
She used purr attacks on Jade relentlessly until he gave in to her cuteness and subsequently gave her permission to enter the treasure vault.

As letting Ruri enter the treasure vault alone would not be wise in any sense, Finn was ordered by the dragon king to accompany her.
At the same time, Jade made a face as if to say ‘I want to come with.’ which Ruri brushed away as she wasted no time rushing Finn out of the room to lead her to her destination.

As the high-spirited Ruri took her first step into the treasure room, she unconsciously cocked her head sideways curiously at the sight presented to her.

From the perspective of a normal citizen, the contents in this treasure vault would mean guaranteed wealth for generations. But on the big picture side of things, it’s not as much as what you would expect a country of this scale to have. Such was what Ruri honestly thought.
In fact, the treasures left by Lydia’s previous contractor were much more valuable and excessive in quantity.

The reason for that, it seems, could be explained by how the way the throne of the Dragon King is passed down. As Dragon Kings aren’t connected through blood and is merely a passing of the baton to the strongest individual of the Dragon Race from the previous holder, the wealth is separated as both personal wealth and wealth in the namesake of the Dragon King.

That said, the treasures Ruri is seeing in front of her are the accumulation of treasures passed down from the previous Dragon Kings.
The idea of one person to have amassed more wealth than a whole country is frankly sketchy at best.

But that very idea was being proven to be possible considering the mass amount of valuable items at Lydia’s place left over by her previous contractor. No normal person could possibly have collected that much wealth in their lifetime.

(Just who was Lydia’s former contractor, I wonder?)

The answer to her question came faster than she expected.

At the very deepest part of the treasure vault, hung 2 old portraits. One of the portraits caught Ruri’s attention.

(Lydia~?!?)

Without a shred of doubt, the person in the portrait was no other than the Lydia Ruri knew.
Ruri hushed Finn over to her location.

『Finn! Finn! Who’s the girl in that portrait?!』-Ruri

“Yes? Ah, this person? I have no idea. It was said that the first Dragon King had this portrait drawn, but there weren’t anybody who looked like this around him at the time.
The first Dragon King left this world without marrying anybody, giving the excuse of ‘because I have her’.” -Finn

『Is that the Dragon King beside her?』-Ruri

“Yes. You’re oddly excited aren’t you, Ruri?” -Finn

Ruri remembers seeing the person in the portrait that was hung beside Lydia’s. That’s because it’s the very same person that was also in a portrait that is being hung on the wall of the room that was merged between Ruri’s and Lydia’s previous contractor’s room.
Whenever Lydia was free, she would stare at the portrait in her room.

(So the mysterious previous contractor of Lydia was the First Dragon King…)

As this revelation came as a surprised to Ruri, she was both surprised and was also convinced of something else.
If this is the first Dragon King we are talking about, his magic power would be enormous enough to allow him to form a pact with Lydia. A vast quantity of valuable heritage is also not out of the possibility for a person like him to have.

It was as if a cloud was lifted inside Ruri, she left the treasure vault with a weird sense of release.
Ruri pondered on her next action. Probably sensing that Ruri had nothing planned, Finn spoke out.

“Ruri, if you have nothing to do, should we try visiting District 5?” -Finn

『Yes, let’s do that. Is there something in District 5?』-Ruri

“District 5 is where the soldiers are stationed. They should be training right now. Some of the soldiers want to meet Ruri.” -Finn

…… And so, the next destination is decided.

Unlike District 1, there are much more people in District 5. The majority of the people here are soldiers that were dressed like Finn.

As expected for a status befitting of a personal guard of the Dragon King, every soldier that were nearby Finn stopped and gave a salute to him. They too showed expression of shocked when they see Ruri underneath Finn.

Soon after, they reached the place where the soldiers train themselves to protect the peace of this country, the Training Ground.

Ruri was taken aback by the seriousness of all the clashing of swords by the soldiers. The raw emotions and actions in the Training Ground far exceeded what Ruri had imagined in her mind.

Everybody fights like it’s kill or be killed, and guard as if their life depends on it. Calling the scene in front of her ‘training’ would be an understatement.

With everybody training like that, some people who can’t hold back might seriously hurt their sparring partner. And forget about small wounds, the injury inflicted could easily be of the fatal type. It was that serious of a ‘training’.

It’s no wonder Ruri started frantically shouting upon witnessing this situation.

『Finn, what is this place?!?!』-Ruri

“What you ask, It’s the training ground.” -Finn

『And how is this training!?!』-Ruri

Ruri snapped back at Finn’s answer while having her tail standing straight up. Finn in the other hand was as cool as a cucumber.

“People of the Dragon race always trains like this. I suppose this is a little too much for Ruri?” -Finn

『This goes way more than a little!!』-Ruri

“Because those of us from the Dragon race have a really strong body, if we get dealt with a moderately light stab, it’ll heal up real quick. Even if our body were slashed open, a one week rest will heal that right up. And no scarring if I must add.” -Finn

That’s the same level of regenerative ability of a lizard…
which Ruri did not say out loud. For it’s forbidden for one to speak like that about the Dragon Race.

While Ruri and Finn were having their conversation, a certain soldier notices the both of them.

“Ah, didn’t know that you were here, captain……Wow, correct me if I’m wrong, but is that the Cherished One?!”

Just as the soldier was happily initiating a conversation, a gunshot was fired towards his back.
It was obviously not the right situation to talk about something so mundane, considering everything that was going on around them, but both Finn and the soldier, even the people around us was acting like it was a normal occurrence.

Other soldiers that overheard what the first soldier said too stopped what they were doing and gathered around Ruri. Ruri so wanted to tell them all to go get treated first.

In a blink of an eye, Ruri was surrounded by blood covered soldiers. Overwhelmed by the situation, she immediately ran and hide behind Finn.
Finn immediately took control of the situation.

“You guys! You’re scaring Ruri by coming all at once! Form a line!!” -Finn

With that one command, the soldiers wasted no time to form a line.
Maybe because of what Finn said about them scaring Ruri, the soldiers kept a certain distance away from Ruri while staring at her.

“Oh gosh, she’s darn cute, no?”

“Just look at that pure white fur. I wanna touch it so badly….”

“I wonder if she’ll allow us to touch her. Will she?”

‘Wanna touch her.’ ‘I wonder if she’ll let us touch her.’ The gaze of anticipation was coming from all the soldiers, aimed straight for Ruri. Unable to stand her ground due to the overwhelming pressure, she finally gave them permission to touch her. The soldiers were absolutely brimmed with joy, almost to the point Ruri was put off by it.

Fearing that her neck would get separated from her body if she was being held by so many ferocious looking people, Ruri was understandably afraid. However, it would seem that the soldiers themselves were also worried that they might cause harm to her, so they were super gentle with their touches. Ruri can’t help but laugh in her heart by the scene of the soldier, gently touching her, with her previous worries slowly disappearing with each touch.

Not unlike Jade, a lot of the soldiers here have the tendency to scare small animals like cats just by their aura. And a lot of them crave the need to *mofu* *mofu* it seems.

As the soldiers were showing a blissful expression while touching Ruri, that person appeared.

“Dear Brother!!”

If he had a tail, it would be wagging furiously. An unsurmisable level of happiness was being shown on his face. An oncoming storm of an individual with serious brocon.
Yes, Brother Complex.
Or in another word, the first person to fall victim under the punishment of my loyal fairy bodyguard.

This guy has the same huge emerald green eyes as Finn and yellowish brown curly hair.
His name is Ewan, Finn’s cousin. Although technically he’s Finn’s cousin, his parents died while he was very young, and was subsequently taken under the wing of Finn’s household to be raised as Finn’s brother.

Ewan looked at Ruri that was standing under Finn and gave a scornful look like she was an enemy of the family.
Without wasting any time, the fairies surrounded Ruri and took up a protective stance. Ruri can’t help but give a small sigh.

Ewan is born from the blood of Human Race and Dragon Race.
When people of different race marries, the stronger race determines the offspring’s race.
In this case, it would be the Dragon Race. Thanks to that, Ewan has a very strong magic power. However, his magic power is totally incompatible with fairies.

In other words, Ewan is unable to utilize fairy magic.

On the other hand, Finn is the acting captain of the Calvary team that is in charge of protecting the Dragon King and is said to be second to none in terms of power when compared to the Dragon King.
It is no wonder that Ewan respects and is utterly proud of his brother more than anyone else.

However recently, Finn was frequently being ordered by the Dragon King to guard Ruri.

The order to provide protection to Ruri is in large to protect Ruri herself from being harmed which in concert might cause the fairy to go berserk. For an individual that was given the status of the Dragon King purely by his strength to order his dear brother, who is the captain of the Dragon King’s Calvary team, to protect a small cat, was an unforgivable act to Ewan.

Unable to suppress his frustration, he let it all out on Ruri. Because of that, he is officially in the fairy’s shitlist.

An instant of that consequence would be the boycott of the fairies whenever he tries to use magic. However, because his magic power was from the start incompatible with fairy magic, there wasn’t any huge disability in his daily lifestyle. Moreover, because he is one of the few rarer cases of non-human who can’t see the fairies, the sight of the fairies fuming never registered in his eye.

If anything, the people around him were the ones shaking in their boots right now.

The tension between the fairies towards Ewan had been oscillating between light punishments that proved to be utterly useless against the dense Ewan and punishment that might cross a certain threshold that required Ruri to step in to stop them.

Because Ewan had angered the fairies, his special permission to enter District 1 as Finn’s second officer was taken away from him, with that very same rank stripped off him.

Finn had too given Ewan stern talks about his wrongdoing personally. But from the gaze Ewan was giving Ruri, it was obviously fallen on deaf ears.

“YOU GIVING MY BROTHER TROUBLE AGAIN?” -Ewan

“Ewan, stop it.” -Finn

“But brother, you are supposed to be the personal bodyguard of His Majesty, but instead here you are guarding a…… cat. Why is that?!
Same thing with His Majesty, ordering you to guard the Cherished One…. who is just a cat! Making my brother guard a mere cat….” -Ewan

“Ewan! Any more would be disrespectful towards His Majesty and the fairies. Control yourself!” -Finn

Against the mad voice from a serious Finn, Ewan kept his mouth shut.

Good for Ewan for not being able to see them, but the soldiers that could see the fairies were soaked in fear by the sight in front of them.
The fairies made small glances at Ruri as they take up stances that make them seems like they were ready to go to war at a moment notice. The fairies were super angry.

Then, a cheerful voice that breaks the tension in the air came booming in.

“Heyo, is some fight happening?”

A teenager that is a little bit older looking than Ewan with sun tanned skin, scarlet colored hair and light yellow eyes could be seen in the direction of the voice.

Ruri made a 【・_・?】look as Finn started talking to the person akin to close friends.

“Ah, is that you Joshua? You’re finally back.” -Finn

“That’s right, finally indeed. That old man is just too unreasonable. I might actually die from work exhaustion…
… So? Why would the kind Finn be so mad with Ewan? Did he do something bad?” -Joshua

“Shut it…” -Ewan

Depressed because he was scolded by his favorite brother, he bluntly gave a retort. But Joshua doesn’t seem to really want to know the answer to his question.

“Well, not like it’s my problem. Oh yeah, the old guy called for you Finn.” -Joshua

“Agete did?
Understood. Sorry, but could you take over my place and guide Ruri back to District 1?” -Finn

“Ruri…?” -Joshua

For the first time, Joshua made his gaze towards Ruri that was under Finn.
And again, he muttered ‘Ruri…?’ softly as if to confirm something while looking around at all the fairies that were floating about.
His eyes opened widely.

Unable to comprehend the situation, Ruri cocked her head to the side.

“I’m sorry Ruri, I’ll be heading back first. Joshua is Chelsea’s grandson so you’re in good hands.” -Finn

『Chelsea’s grandson?』-Ruri

Ruri then remembered that she had heard of that name.

“I’ll leave it to you, Joshua.” -Finn

“Y-Yeah.” -Joshua

Finn left like the wind.
On the other hand, Joshua was still in a state of confusion.
Ruri mistakenly thought that the reason for that was because she was a cat.

“Come visit us again!-”

(I’m really sorry. This training ground is so scary, I don’t think I’ll be coming here again.)

While internally monologued that, Ruri turned her back towards the waving soldiers and started walking back with Joshua following right behind.

All the while during the brisk walk back to District 1, not one word was spoken between Joshua and Ruri. The awkwardness in the air was so real.
Fully waiting for the fact that Joshua is Chelsea’s grandson to come out as an ice-breaking topic, that talk never came.

At times, Joshua would look at Ruri and mutter something under his breath.

As the image of Joshua being a weird person started to cement inside Ruri, Joshua walked up to Ruri once they’ve reached a hallway without people, and throw in the bombshell question.

“Say, why did you become a cat? Aren’t you supposed to be human?” -Joshua

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