It took me 2 weeks to reach the border of the Great Desert. I don't have much time left. To be honest, I was just riding randomly. I didn't know what I was supposed to look for in the first place. The nights were really harsh. I heard that nights get cold, but I didn't actually wanted to believe it. And sleeping on the ground is… well let's just say my back is killing me. I wish I had a tent and a modern sleeping bag. Or at least a futon.
"Why am I going deeper into this place? If everyone that comes here never returns, am I going in to die? Is there any point to going further? If everyone says it's dangerous, wouldn’t I be marching to my death?" I wondered.
I was desperate due to my condition and resorting to whatever means. I had no basis, but I had to believe in Odin. If she says Milla's father was here and survived, then there might be a way for me to live too.
Days passed one after another. At one point I lost track. I saw lots of interesting creatures. Surprisingly this place is pretty lively. I managed to avoid a pack of weird looking wolves… but at this rate I think I am walking in circles. My provisions are on the lower side and my body starts to feel weaker and weaker with each passing day. I didn’t want to waste a single moment. I didn’t know how much longer I needed. I didn’t want to die on the way. But I couldn't just march endlessly either. And then like out of nowhere, I saw something that looked like an oasis. At first I thought it's a mirage, but it was the real deal.
"Let's rest here a bit!"
I often ended up talking to my horse. It's better than talking to myself I guess. I let my horse drink it's fill and I also ate my share but… at this rate I won't have any food left. As I was getting some rest the earth started to shake. It wasn't a huge shake, but it could mess up your balance.
"Are there earthquakes around here?"
As I said those words, my horse who was just drinking a moment ago… got swallowed by a huge worm. The so called oasis was it's mouth. It was a trap. A bait to lure prey closer for it to feed. I couldn't believe it. It was as big as Fenrir, just that it was longer. Wait… was that actual water in there or was it just it's saliva. Eww… I don't even want to think about it. Anyway I got bigger problems now. The worm was aiming for me.
There was no way I could defeat this thing. I don't even think my body can last if I tried to run for it. But I gave my word so I can't give up this easy. I reached for my pouch and grabbed a magic gem. I trew it at the worm.
The gem turned into a flaming spear and hit the sand worm straight in its mouth. This wasn't my magic. These jewels were sealing gems. They could seal low level spells and just by calling the name, they could release them. I prepared them with Grace to have some sort of protection with me. But I doubt that this will stop the worm, I turned around and ran as fast as I could.
The worm got rid of the flames in it's mouth pretty fast, by shoving it's head in the sand and started to chase me. Dang. That didn't buy me much time. Maybe if I can get to that boulder over there and get away from the sand it will leave me alone. In the meantime…
Another small gem that I used to freeze a big chunk of ice behind me. It worked as the worm didn't go through it. It circled around. But it was still too fast. By the time I reached the boulder, the worm raised itself again and was aiming for me. I didn't have time to climb it. And it was too huge to dodge. Think Milla. Is there anything I can use to distract it? I can't die! This isn't how it's supposed to end…
But as the worm was lunging at me, just a few inches before it was about to eat me… it stopped. It quickly turned around, buried itself in sand and vanished. What the hell? What was that all about!? That's not a normal reaction. Why would you chase me if you didn't eat me? Why did it run away? But soon I understood why. A huge shadow covered me and the ground. When I turned around, I saw it, sitting on the boulder. Dragon.
I thought I was a goner for sure now. Anybody would consider themselves done for if they saw the huge creature before them. The ancient and majestic creature should only exist on worn out leather parchments and in exaggerated stories of poets… yet one stood before me now. The worm fled for it's life. As for me… I was petrified. Even if I can't see it's stats, I knew this was something I couldn't manage. If it wants me dead, I'm dead. Escaping isn't an option. I am at it's mercy.
The dragon raised its long neck and roared as if it was venting the fact that the sand was blowing in the air. It stared at the me below with her emerald green eyes. It leapt off the boulder with its ivory claws. The sand on the ground reacted as if it was fleeing for dear life. The ground quaked and strong gales blew toward me, sending me rolling across the ground a few feet.
I quickly got on my feet again, but I didn't try to run. Honestly, even if I had my powers… even for me… defeating this monster is impossible. How did these creatures go extinct in the first place? How could anyone kill them? Still it’s gaze took my breath right out of me. Looking at the pair of eyes felt the same as having a gun pointed at the back of my head.
It lowered its long neck and leaned in toward me in a similar fashion to a snake. Its huge wings on its back shined through the dust as if it was metal. Its ginormous body was akin to an aircraft carrier on the ground. I’d only ever seen such a ginormous beast in movies. I had a mixture of feelings running through my mind. But, there was only one fact true. I was a dead; dying from lack of mana and dying to a dragon… I wonder which one hurts less.
The dragon hung its neck down and slowly approached me. I stood in place without moving. I could feel the moist hot air it breathed out of its nose. If you ask me, I’d say the force of its breath wasn’t much gentler than the wild winds around. It opened its mouth, allowing me to see its saliva dripping down from its sharp row of teeth that also carried the scent of blood. So this was the end, huh? It's gonna eat me. I really thought… I could make. But… it did something unexpected.
The dragon licked my face. Its weight almost brought me to my knees. It licked me from head to toe with its sticky tongue and drooled all over me. What the… !? Why is it acting like Fenrir? A drool bath is the last thing I need. I thought I was gonna puke, but surprisingly it's saliva didn't smell at all. The dragon then spoke. Its tone came from a dignified, archaic style. Honestly it feels like medieval times speech. Its voice contained an imposing aura that wasn’t to be questioned as well as pride.
"Thou are the first mortal to not flee in fear in hundreds of years."
"That's because I've been through many frightening experiences in the past. Fleeing would be pointless."
The dragon didn’t seem to have any interest in my past; it was more interested in me. She scanned me with her snake-like eyes. I felt as though she wanted to play with me as a puppet for a while. Hey, I might look as cute as a doll, but I'm not gonna become a toy for you.
"Such a strange creature. Thou doesn't have mana circuits. What are thou here to seek?"
I took in a deep breath and gave a honest answer: "I want to live."
Its eyes hinted at bafflement. A moment later, it continued:
"If thou wish to live, why come here? There are only the dead here. There is nothing living here."
"Aren’t you alive, though? A long time ago my father came to this desert and managed to escape it. He might have left something behind for me. I want to live, and I also want to find what my father did here."
It froze up when it heard my response. It curled its body up as if it was in pain. It didn’t speak for a long time, and neither did I.
"Thou are… The scent thou carry… Come with me."
It grabbed me with it's mouth and placed me gently on its back.
"I can grant thy request."