Chapter 19 – “Confrontation”
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Everyone treated me like a child that just got hurt.
Especially Gramps, who wouldn't just leave me alone.

He more or less considers himself my parent now, any outsider would probably think this village keeps adopting strange things...
It feels strange to see everyone trying to comfort me like some kind of giant child, I'm mentally mature. I think I can handle a little cut.

Maybe it was cheating to be nullifying the pain, but it wasn't like I was crying on the ground or anything.
Healing spells are starting to have an effect as time passes, so the effect from that overpowered sword must be temporary.

Thankfully Ria wasn't around, or she would have definitely turned those bandits into ashes if she saw me bleeding.
It's better I don't let her see me like this at all, she'd probably waste every last drop of Mana spamming healing spells on me.

I was so thankful I made the choice to have Liza stay and protect everyone.
What would have happened if no one was able to stop them?
Everyone got lucky they were after me.

They seemed to be talking about what they can do now, and leaving me out of the discussion.
Somehow I'm being treated the same as a kid.

"We need to figure out why that lord has a problem with us. He might send more attackers to finish the job if we leave things like this." Mino tells the group.

"What are we supposed to do? We can't touch the lord of a city!" The rest complained.

I listened carefully, hoping to overhear something I could do.
Maybe I could go threaten that worthless lord or something until he resigns.

I try to get closer and hear more but Gramps sees me trying to listen in and starts trying to pull me away by my wing.

"No, no, this isn't a problem for a little one to worry about. Go play!" Gramps commands.
How could you tell me to 'go play'?!

"I want to help! Let me go get rid of him or something!" I demand.

"You're such a good dragon, everything is fine. You don't need to worry about anything." He lies terribly.
I'm getting so annoyed by these bad lies trying to keep me blissful and ignorant.

Maybe there isn't anything I can do right now, but there isn't much that lord can do either.
He would have sent his best if he could afford his name being linked to the attack.

As they were stuck deliberating, I came up with my own plan.
All I have to do is sneak out of this protective atmosphere first.

I don't even know where this lord resides and they aren't going to tell me.
Since I was desperate, I went and asked the children for a map thinking Gramps had to be teaching them basic world knowledge at least.

Getting their attention is not difficult because they always flock to me whenever it looks like I'm going to focus on them.

"Do any of you know what a map is?" I asked, slightly regretting this decision.

A bunch of them raise their hands and jump up at me like they are trying to impress me.
The adults here treat me like a baby and the other children act like I'm much older than them, which just happens to be mentally true.

"Do you have one I can borrow?" I request.

"You have to play with us first!" They demand.

Avoiding them just doesn't work, so I have to let them have their fun until they get tired from trying to climb me.
I got the map I wanted soon after.

I knew this Lord Saer was in the neighboring city, I just didn't know where it was.
There were plenty of distractions while trying to read the map.
Some of them were patting my lowered snout and younger ones were pulling on my tail like they wanted it to come off.

I got the direction I needed to go and then I just took the map with me.
The only thing I needed to do was escape from them.

Especially these insufferable teeny ones on my tail.
Trying to shake them off by wiggling it only makes them happier, and to even get them off I have to catch them in my claws and pull them away.

They've gotten stupid in the last year since they don't even cry when they realize they can easily be squeezed to death.
They actually look like little toys when I can just pick them up at any time.

I thought it was funny until they started poking my nose, then I huffed at them and put them away from my tail so they can't rush to grab it when I turn around to leave.

But finally, after so long, I was finally able to sneak out in the direction of the other city.
It would have been a few days to get there at top speed normally, but now that I can fly, it went by in an instant.

Once it was in sight, I landed nearby and jumped on top of the buildings while being invisible.
Generally, it didn't look too different from Yeste, however, the divide between rich and poor was extremely sharp.

All I could see on the main streets were people that looked like they had plentiful money, while those with little were hiding in alleys out of sight.
This looked like a terrible place to live if you pay attention to details, but it looks like a paradise to merchants.

Of course, the lord's manor was incredibly obvious. It was the most expensive looking building, after all.
Hopping over to it, I have to transform to move freely inside.

This place was not short staffed at all, but I was invisible.
Most of these maids and servants have no chance of seeing me, but since I'm incompetent at hiding my Mana, I tried to blend it with the environment by layering another spell over it.

It's very difficult to focus on maintaining two different spells, and I don't think it would be practical to try it with unrelated spells.

It took ten minutes of going room by room searching before I found a decorated office of sorts on a higher floor.
I only opened the door a crack so it wasn't noticed.

There were voices inside as well.

"I can understand the outrageous taxes, but you sent a bunch of lowlife thugs to go after a small village?! Do you care at all about your reputation?" A complaining voice sounded.

"Reputation this, reputation that. You should know by now I only follow the money!" A more elegant sounding voice responded.

"And if you let your reputation go up in flames there won't be any money for you to follow! How am I supposed to run the place after you get thrown in prison for something that doesn't benefit you at all?!"

"You're such a bother. Why do you think I used bandits? No one will take their word over mine. That blasted city has a Magisteel mine all to itself and they don't even have to spend any effort on it!" The voice explained arrogantly, "If that mine goes away they'll have nothing, and that's when we'd jump in and sell our supply to them at extreme prices. That's how it should have gone if those 3rd rate barbarians didn't make a mess."

"What about the dragon?"

"If they're being controlled by the dragon, that's even better for us. We can get money and fame at the same time." The voice chuckles ambitiously. "Luckily we only gave them the cheapest dragonslayer to lose."

As I continued listening through the partially opened door, I could hear the other person coming towards the door and I slipped in when it opened.
Then I finally got a good look at this greed-infested villain donning a gold lined coat.

What could I even do to keep this guy from doing that again? A dragon coming to threaten him must be a reason to back off, right?
Realizing I was now alone with him, I materialized visibly in my draconic form.

"W-what?" The lord stuttered, visibly shocked.

This was the first time I've tried to threaten someone in two lifetimes, hopefully I'm good at it.
"I've come to warn you, despicable lord. If you send any more of your minions to harm my friends, I'll pull you apart myself!"

I've come all this way, but it feels like I came just to deliver an empty threat.
The lord looks terrified until I reach the word 'friends'.

In an instant he turns completely calm and chuckles deeply.
I tried my hardest to act arrogant and proud like I imagined as intimidating, but it doesn't seem to be working.

"I've already submitted a request for the subjugation of a dragon controlling a certain outskirt village. So, think about what would happen if said dragon were to, say, attack the lord of a nearby city. Or perhaps the inhabitants of said village commanded the dragon to do so! Think carefully, now." He laughs smugly.

I've done more than botched it, everything is backfiring on me!
How do I even salvage this? Did I just make things worse?
Gramps will certainly try to protect me if anyone comes looking for me, and then they will be in trouble...

"You'll be my ticket to gaining noble status, whether you last, or not! Now get out of my sight, for you have much more important matters to deal with right now!"

With a few final words, he places his hand on a metal plate built into the wall.
A faint flash precedes sharp spikes of ice shooting out from the walls.

I barely dodge out of the room with a small nick on my scales.
I better heal that right now or Gramps isn't going to let me outside ever again.

There really was nothing I could do. I can't just murder a city lord and there's nothing I can do to him without endangering everyone.
All I could do is return defeated and prepare for what's next.

Gramps wasn't happy at all, I was like a giant child that snuck out.
How do you plan on trying to punish me, old man? Bite me. Actually no, maybe I'll bite you instead!

"It's vegetables for you today, young dragon!" He said sternly.