A Dragon Idol's Reincarnation Tale - Chapter 372: Stepping on a Dragon’s Toes.
Chapter 372: Stepping on a Dragon’s Toes.
The voices of two girls pierced through the raucous roars echoing inside this stone house. Despite being backstage and inside a room that rocker Rosserto lent to us to rest in, you could still hear his audience’s cries through the walls. In any case, seeing my friends’ faces as they smiled at our group’s appearance made it impossible for me to not reciprocate with a hug.
I squeezed both girls, glad they were okay. Kazumi, in her katzune form, was wiggling her ears and tail, clearly happy that we all came, while Kohaku was spouting, “Haha, I told you everything would work out!” in such an energetic tone, despite her puffy eyes. When I released her, I could also see how much she had chewed up her fingernails, all to her embarrassment.
“You actually made it out!” From behind, Haruka was slowly approaching us with Kyouya’s help. “Nishio-san told me he bought you time, but I-I didn’t think you could of been hiding here all along.”
“Haruka-chan!” The two girls ran up to her, noting her appearance and the ragged clothes she was in. The petite girl explained to the two what she had told us, about how the Luedbrumdar dwarves had thrown them into their jails, stripping them off their belongings and even forcing them to change into simple clothes.
The boys and I were outraged when we first heard this, and the two girls couldn’t believe something like this could happen. They told us the initial meeting with Grimnir and his old clan had been pretty hostile, but they thought, after they told the clan they were part of “Princess Hestia’s retinue,” that the clan’s responce would be just to shun them. However, the fact it derailed so much was beyond their imagination.
Just hearing it all again made my face heat up in anger, making me imagine what I would do to the people responsible for this. This was practically a declaration of war with me. I abhorred the word, but I was suddenly taking a liking to it now that Grimnir, Ellaine, and everybody else was in danger! They took their belongings and threw them into jail? My friends? These dwarves really wanted to know what a sunfang dragon could do to their mountain homes, huh? A [Magmakammer] should make them learn.
I was adamant to start the rescue mission immediately. “All right, I’ve heard enough, tell me—”
“If you would, your grace …” However, before I could finish my sentence, the door was opened. I turned over, eying a greased-up Inko dwarf with a well-kempt beard, carrying around a set of tools and looking like a mechanic or engineer. “May I suggest not attacking them so early?”
“… Mister Jadhund, correct?” It took me a bit for parallel minds to remind me who this person was. He was the chief manatechnician of the train station in Estralia, and, apparently, a friend of Grimnir’s cousin, Broggi—also known as Broggart.
“It is an honor you remembered me. It’s been over a month, so I wouldn’t fault you.”
We only met once and it was mostly for Grimnir’s sake, so I understood why he would think I wouldn’t remember his name. If it weren’t for my parallel minds, that would have even been true. It might be weird to say about a dwarf, but due to his long beard, it made it hard to recognize his facial features, unlike Grimnir. Thankfully, the accessories on his beard and his bronze-colored hair gave me enough clues to piece it together.
I was sure he was Grimnir’s supporter, since he agreed to help Grimnir acquire his cousin’s tools from said cousin’s workshop. Grimnir told me he could create even better stuff if he could get the equipment there. That was why he, Ellaine, and the students were all in this place. And now, Jadhund was telling me to stop?
“… Your reason?” I wanted to shout, but I kept myself composed.
“It’s not a one-sided story … and I have some loyalty to the clan as Broggi’s friend.”
“Are you crazy!” Kohaku shouted, anger contorting her brows. “Mister Jadhund, why did you rescue us then?! Daichi-san, Tama-chan, Nishio-kun, Misa-chan; they are all waiting for us! We have Hestia and the rest of the cavalry now. We can stage the rescue!”
“I agree.” I sided with her, too eager to start. “One-sided or not, they have my friends in jail. They know whose retainers they are, and even if they don’t know me personally, they could have confirm this with Loatryx. The dragonewts are situated north of here. Ask them! They can’t be this stupid!”
Jadhund took my complaint face on, stroking his beard as he contemplated how to best speak me down. “… Trust me, your highness, they know. The Hold King most likely knows and so does our Ankoran King. And, while they have changed a lot, the clan leader of the Luedbrumndar is no fool. Despite his hatred for Grimnir for helping Broggi, the clan’s most established and loved artisan, break a taboo, he kept his cool… up until now.”
Jadhund explained he had been with the group until everything fell apart, repeating pretty much exactly what the students had told me when we first reunited about half-way through our stay in Elyonda. In essence, they got into a dispute with the Grimnir’s ex-clan while he tried to stay incognito, leading Grimnir to challenge them to a smithing contest for disrespecting his honor.
Not wanting to leave anything up to luck, Grimnir suggested entering one of the many dungeons in Inkoran-Tazul, the capital of the dwarves and where they initially got off the train. While under watch, he and his party managed to mine up and train, to the point every student outside of Haruka made it to level 70. With the ore, they then headed back to his home hold — in other words, in the place where his clan was situated.
Gazahan-Orn was the city’s name, meaning “Rubblerain Hold.” Named after the fact earthquakes happened here often, to the point the houses were mostly stone buildings that could stand up to the damage from a quake. Kazumi added how the capital was like a melting pot of cultures with Japanese aesthetics, meaning there were elven, human, beastmen, and dwarven houses to accommodate all the races. It was a trading hub, while this place, as I saw, was made to adapt to the environment.
In any case, once Grimnir’s party made it here, the contest began and Grimnir won. The dwarves, although furious, were oath-bound to keep their words. They gave Grimnir his cousin’s old workshop, but he soon learned most of the tools weren’t there anymore.
“The deal was for Broggart’s studio, not what was within it. That glass-wearing boy, Nishio, tried to persuade Grimnir into changing that point when the challenge was issued, but the old fool thought his clan was still honorable. Blames God Bleidla all the time, never the damn people in front of him!” Jadhund spat out, his face turning redder with every word. “He still thinks his clan leader is still that same numbskull, but after being forced to exile Broggart, his own son, he’s gone crazy! Bleidla made the rules, but he didn’t punish Grimnir outside of stripping him of his [Blacksmith’s Eyes]. It was the dwarves who punished him for breaking a clan tradition!”
As I mentioned, Jadhund had been quite supportive when this all began, but now it seemed he was on the edge on who to support. Could Grimnir have hid something else? Grimnir did hide the finer details on how he and his cousin were exiled, but I just thought he hid it ‘cause he was ashamed. Could he have hidden even more?
However, regardless of what the truth was, I still stood by Grimnir until I heard his side of the story. And it still didn’t excuse the dwarves for what they did to my friends!
“The fool got himself into another match, this time for the tools. A proper deal, with the exact ones he needs. Nothing to finesse yourself with words with. Finally, I thought, finally he was listening to somebody else!” Jadhund banged the table, closing his eyes. Seeing how Kazumi, Kohaku, and Haruka weren’t protesting, it seemed everything was the truth. “… Broggart had a brother. Shameless little fiend. Always jealous of his brother … and once his position as clan heir freed up, his tongue hasn’t been tied up ever since. That boy, Daichi …”
“… No.” I swirled my head around, shaking it in disbelief as I began to understand what was happening. I knew Daichi’s personality and how he had begun to admire Grimnir. “Don’t tell me.”
I looked over to the girls, noting how Haruka was making the worst face amongst them. Was my suspicion actually true? Tatsuya and Kyouya both smacked their faces, probably also realizing what had probably happened. What could cause a supposedly smart clan leader to do something fatally idiotic?
And Jadhund was the one to answer it. “Always jealous of his older brother, always jealous of his gifted cousin, Grimnir. One word in the wrong place, and Grimnir’s apprentice couldn’t hold it back. I saw it. I was also the one to be brought forth as a witness to tell the clan leader how that lad burned his son’s beard and hair off. … Meaning, his crust’lock, were also removed.”
Crust’lock, the unique part of a dwarf’s appearance were the rocky hide around their ears and the petrified strands on their beard and hair. It had a cultural significance, pretty much reminding the dwarves from where they came from and how their race was created. It was a status symbol, a badge of honor, you could say, as the more you achieved, the more you were allowed to petrify your beard.
Which was why removing them was considered such a problem. A zuekluk, a dishonored dwarf, was someone who was forced to remove his or hers. In other words, Daichi probably committed a pretty big sin against the clan which warranted such a drastic measure. Jadhund didn’t need to explain it to me, as I knew how precise Daichi was with his spell casting. With his temper, he probably retialited the moment he heard his master insulted once too much.
“Pfff!” And the moment it came to me, I couldn’t help but let out a suppressed laugh.
“Gruhahahaha!” On the other hand, my bodyguard was unable to, and let out a huge crackle. [“That boy is good in my book, my lady! These dwarves place so much pride in everything, it is nauseating! Is this how this feud began? Laughable.”]
“Pff. N-no, Shay, you can’t say that. Ehehe, Daichi was an idiot who should have—pfff—kept his temper. Look what he brought onto everybody?” I couldn’t keep myself from smiling. The fact Daichi did something like that was amazing … even if the consequences were a bit dire on everybody. “We need to scold him … Ehe.”
Literally everybody but the two of us were laughing at the situation, which made me instantly apologize to Haruka and the other two, as I understood they had experienced something dreadful. I just couldn’t help myself. I knew I was being insensitive and I should condemn Daichi, but it was something I wanted to do myself. Yup, I was that angry.
“Wraaaaahaaaha!” Suddenly, with that explosive laughter, the door slammed open, causing Haruka, the boys, Shay, and I to instantly put our guard up. I noticed the signal coming, but I didn’t think they would kick down the door!
On the other hand, Kazumi, Kohaku, and Jadhund were only slightly startled. Did this happen often?
“That’s what I want to hear!” That booming voice belonged to none other than Rosserto. “Got yourself comfortable, highness? All dandy, no problem taking care of some lasses, but getting them around ain’t easy. Ya got human and beastmen miners, but this hold doesn’t get many tourists. Outside of the Luedbrumdar, the hold’s just a mining place.”
The guitarist of the Punker Paradise appeared, holding onto his manatech guitar and adjusting his pair of sunglasses like some rockstar. Now that I took another look at them, I realized that Kazumi and Kohaku weren’t wearing their normal clothes, the ones Saori made for them. They were actually wearing tank tops, leather jackets, and hot pants, making them almost look like a couple of groupies.
The tank tops had an emblem of a guitar with an axe head strapped on its end lodged itself into the skull of a shining, metal golem. The golem itself was growling,wearing a pair of sunglasses on its forehead, staring at people in a provocative manner. I didn’t understand the symbolism behind it, but it really had a strong “I don’t give a shit” vibe.
“Jadhund, the old Luedbrumdar clan is gone! No more than another piece in the wall. Just like every single guild and merchant pinning for more money, they lost their honor. They forgot their history and what they stood for. That old man values the words of that old fart Bleidla over his clan members.” Rosserto then began playing his guitar, creaking havoc inside this room with his fierce and electric performance. “Oh, this ain’t your usual corpo, beloved going bonko ♫
Nostalgia got ya thinking googoo, gaga ♫
Now’s the time to bash them ♫
Remind them who they were ♫
Or we’re all gonna twist to their call ♫
… Hmm, the middle part needs work. The ending is good enough.”
Rosserto took out a stone slab and a manapen, writing down and crossing out words as he corrected the lyrics he just spun out of thin air. That was certainly a catchy tune he just weaved, not to mention how perfect the first two lines were. The middle two didn’t fit the rhythm, and the last line could use some work with the message.
His singing, on the other, was pretty boisterous and loud, similar to metal rock. His rough, growly voice gave the song a rather crude and raw vibe, befitting the fact it was supposed to convey a message. It was different from mine; it was a matter of refinement through training over the rawness of good talent. He could sing and his voice caught onto you, but it was clear he was using his deep voice to drive his song forward, instead of techniques, like I was.
Nice. I couldn’t help but praise his little tune, from one musician to the next. Despite my criticism, I liked it.
“How about trying it out like a rap? Messages are better delivered when people can hear you better. Start it a bit quieter, then start your louder notes during the chorus,” I suggested, drawing the dwarf’s attention. “For example … Oh, this ain’t your usual corpo, beloved going bonko ♫ Put some emphasis on the corpo and bonko. The corpo going bonko, which draws into the ‘beloved’ part.”
I showed him two thumbs up, hoping I could have helped him on the song.
However, the dwarf only gave me a blank look. “… Not to sound rude, but I don’t really need your help, lass.”
Kuek! I felt a dagger stab my heart, feeling pain from that rejection. I guess I really should act so holier-than-thou just ‘cause music was my life.
“However … I had the same idea, wahaha!”
“Right, right, I don’t know what you meant by ‘rap’ but I getcha ya point! The rhyme in the first two lines will catch your attention. Do it low, but keep the catchiness!” Rosserto played the tune again on his guitar, repeating the verse twice to vibe with his voice. “Yeah, yeah, I got some ideas for the rest of the lyrics … Lass.”
Watching him so excited about music made me feel a bit giddy, but the moment he reigned in his excitement, he stared at me with a small silence. I tilted my head. I was wondering what was with all his mood changes. From creative, to offended, then to excitement, and then lastly to this awkwardness.
“You’re ‘Hestia Atsuko Kargryxmor,’ yeah?” I nodded, but asked him why he was asking it now since I had introduced myself when he let us in his auditorium. “‘Cause, I didn’t really care. Grimnir asked me to help, but I’m helping the lasses there for Broggi. Not for Grimnir, that greedy bastard.”
Once again, another mood change. Now he was badmouthing Grimnir? What was wrong with this guy?
“But, you? I’m starting to take interest in ya, lass. Not cuz you’re royalty—down with the caste system, I say—but you as a person. That tip from yours came from the heart. A bit too much, but you know music.” His thick, greasy beard curved up, revealing the fat grin he was hiding behind it. “This rap also comes from your world, huh?”
“…” My eyes widened a bit when he said that, but then I remembered he probably either knew it from Grimnir or from my name, like Uzerra did. The “Atsuko” was very Japanese, not to mention he knew Kohaku and Kazumi. “… I’m not a rapper, but yes, rap comes from Earth.”
He nodded his head at that information, pulling a string to let out a note, before swinging it over his shoulders. “Good, good. Knew it; Chihiro ain’t gonna be the last otherworlder. ‘Course not, when we have the Origin Gods. The music notes she wrote down only mentioned ‘rock’ and how she loved the music culture from her home, but never really talked about rap. You a musician?”
“I am.” I pulled out my geigler, the Peolyncian violin Ellaine gave me. The bad mood I was in disappeared as I was speaking to him as entertainers. “On Earth, I knew how to play violin and piano. I am also a singer and dancer, but I’m not a ‘rocker’ like you. I’m an idol.”
“Yeah, my music is there to uplift people. Shine in the spotlight, dance to the tunes, and give my audience music to elevate their souls. To help some find hope and drag them out of the sadness of life for a moment,” I described my career the way I first learned about it, not mentioning how I had formed a new definition of the word “idol” in this world. As the only idol, I was the one to decide the idol culture.
Rosserto nodded his head, showing clear interest in what I was. “Oooh, I see. Understood. Goes a bit contrary to mine, then. No matter what, I won’t cover the truth in sugar. The world deserves the facts, even if it brings the world a bit closer to ruination. No lying about things; bring the battle to the davibags … But I catch your drift, Hestia.”
“So do I. Music is all about expression; it’s an art. Every entertainer has the right to perform how they want, as everybody’s taste is different.”
He reached his arm out, offering me a handshake while I took. The both of us hardened our grip and smiled as we seemingly just hit it off. I kinda wanted to play my geigler right now! A jam session, let’s goooo!
“Oi!” However, before I could express myself, Jadhund interrupted me. “Nice seeing the two of you bond, but what did you come in here for, Rosserto? And what do you mean you support what she said? Are you crazy?”
What exactly were we talking about just a moment ago? I honestly had forgotten after I started talking about music with Rosserto. I was fully drawn in.
However, it seemed the dwarf before me still did. While replying, he also pointed at Kazumi and Kohaku. “I said, she’s right. Bring the damn battle to Luedbrumdar and free ya friends and get that fool Grimnir and his apprentice out. No sugarcoating it. In fact, ain’t this a reason to complain?! What in Crustacia’s twin tails is the hold king doing, huh? I know everybody in the city owes the Luedbrumdar for all the jobs and keeping this hold from dying, but that doesn’t give the damn guard the right to help those bastards!”
“Not all of them are on that brat Darlion’s side!” Jadhund rebuked him forcefully. When I raised an eyebrow on who that person was, Kohaku explained that it was the name of Grimnir’s younger cousin, the jealous younger brother of Broggi.
Rosserto clicked his tongue in response, pulling out his guitar to play as he spoke, “And it doesn’t matter! The king might not be personally involved, but he’s shielding his friend. Maagneil fucked up by fucking over Grimnir, and then he lets his emotions run and possibly just caused a dispute between our home and the dragonewts and Kargryx! What an idiot! And the king is trying to hide it all?”
Maagneil was probably the name of the Luedbrumdar clan’s leader, from context, anyways.
“He’s right,” Haruka agreed. “We aren’t even treated properly. In fact, the people who pursued me weren’t from the clan, but a local gang! We were literally prisoners, and those criminals just walked into the jail and even tried to pry information from us because they knew we were otherworlders! They are like the Yakuza, but worse!”
“You heard it, Mister Jadhund,” Kazumi supported Haruka. “You can’t expect us to stand still now, do you?”
“Agreed.” Kyouya bashed his shadow shield, still stuck in his shadow armor due to his unique skill. “We’re rescuing them, one way or another. We don’t know the full context of the situation, but they are treating and interrogating our friends, right? That makes them our enemy.”
“All right!” Kohaku pumped her hand up, unsheathing her runic sword. “Let’s go then! Don’t steal too much of the fun, Hesti-chan. I leveled up a lot since we last met, and I want to beat those bastards down for what they did to Nishio-kun! Not to mention what they are doing with Misa-chan and Tama-chan!”
“Wa-wait!” Jadhund jumped in our way, holding his hands in front of him. “Please, we can solve this! Let us talk to the hold king. This doesn’t need to end in another fight!”
“They started the fight!” Tatsuya shouted. “Daichi is a bastard, but he’s a bootlicker. He’s an ass kisser. He knows exactly when to bow his head and act submissive. I’ve known that asshole for long enough to know he doesn’t start a fight unless he knows he won’t lose anything. In other words, he’s probably feeling regretful right now for what he did to everybody, but it also means that bastard Darlion really insulted Grimnir to the point he lost his head.”
Tatsuya had a point. Daichi was book smart and a good people person since he knew when to put on a mask to butter people up. Of course, I did think he might have gotten a shorter fuse after he became Grimnir’s apprentice. Would he have started a fight from a small comment? Maybe. I didn’t know him well enough, so I was following Tatsuya’s opinion on the matter.
“Wraaahaaaaaha!” Rosserto brought his guitar to shine blue after playing its string. “The hold king better answer! If he won’t talk, then music will make him!”
Rosserto then turned around, roaring out as he walked away from the room. I looked at Jadhund for a moment and shook my head, a bit annoyed he wasn’t trying to help. Even if I was only looking at it from one side, it didn’t matter. Those guys hurt my friends and placed them in the hands of criminals! Were they trying to fuck with me here?!
Enough wasting time.
“Haruka-chan, I’ll send you into the subspace, but we need directions.”
Haruka, already exhausted from all the running, quickly nodded to my request. Even if she wanted to stay for the main event, she just wasn’t a combatant. On the other hand, we had a whole group ready to wreck some dwarves. You don’t just mess with some Japanese, without expecting more to come to punt you away!
With the roars of the crowd rocking away as I could hear Rosserto’s thunderous voice boom through this entire building, our group left Jadhund behind as we entered the streets. Haruka gave us the directions we needed, which prompted Kohaku and Kazumi to point out how it would take a while, even by running across the roofs.
“We would be more inconspicuous if we hid inside the crowd.”
“Kyouya-kun can’t take his armor off, right? Then he has to take the rooftops. Shadow us. The rest should probably fit in.”
The two guys then pointed at their clothing and how Shay and I both stood out as dragonewts. I had [Humanize (Major)] to turn into a complete human, although it would mean I couldn’t use my dragon abilities. Shay, on the other hand, had enough SP to level up the skill as he had leveled up a bit during the fight in Port Annencia.
However, my wyvern guard was apprehensive about it. He told me he very much liked his scaly form and thought weakening himself for appearance-sake was the wrong move. However, we had to sneak past the guards and rescue the others. And we had to do it quickly, before they relocated the prisoners. If the guards stopped us, it would just be a bother.
“… As you wish, my lady.” With his tail laid flat on the floor, the snow wyvern bought the remaining levels for [Elvenize Lv. 10], helping him transform into a tall elven man with white-blue hair and skin as pale as snow.
Handsome and with his light skin tone, it made him look almost fragile like a beautiful sheltered princess from a fairy tale. In fact, while the other elven men I had met up until now were all attractive, they all looked like men. Shay, on the other hand, looked androgynous, now that I took a closer look.
“Oh my gosh …” Kazumi and Kohaku gasped, while Haruka couldn’t help but stare at him. Kyouya, as he had a crush on Haruka, was obviously uncomfortable with this fact.
“… Please, stop staring.” And there it was. His lighter tones stood out like a thumb, making him seem more feminine, but the moment his face reddened slightly, it accentuated the fact even more. I could hear the three girls shriek behind their closed mouths.
“Wow, Shay, you really have the face of a lady killer. Did you take inspiration from Mom?” However, since I was only a year old, I was immune to his charms.
“Y-yes,” he answered. His elven voice resembled his mental one exactly, meaning it was slightly deep but still youthful without any hints of growling. “Of course, I didn’t make myself exactly like Her Majesty. I wouldn’t dare. But, I took the basis of her appearance and added other features from elven men I’ve met in my life. Princess Fargryneill also helped me with it, as she wanted to see it one day …”
Nice going, Sis. You just created an absolute lady killer face. Now I can’t wait for what Beth would look like. Would these twins share their elven forms?
Once everybody stopped fawning over Shay, Kazumi handed me something like a walnut. Looking at her wiggling her cat tail like crazy, I had a bad feeling when I asked her what this what.
“It’s one of the hair coloring dyes Yorshka gave us! Instead of how we did it back on Earth, the dyes are inside the nut. You open them and spray the powder-like content on your head. You then inject some mana into it and then think of a color, and from there, it will change. If you want your crimson back, you just need to wash it off while concentrating your mana in your hair.”
In Peolynca, people had all sorts of colored hair due to the mana governing this world. As such, it wasn’t exactly weird for a blue and red haired pair to have a child with purple hair. Of course, if the mana in your blood was strong enough, you could have your children inherit your bloodline’s natural hair color.
As such, having weird colored hair wasn’t unnatural, in fact, a group of people having the same hair color was more suspicious. These [Ocran Powder Nut]s, was something the Folschreck Empire’s high society cultivated. Yorshka told the students when she gave them that nobles there apparently love changing their hair colors for every event.
In any case, once I transformed into a human and changed my hair color to mix into the crowd, we departed, ready to annihilate some scum.