Sekai no Owari no Encore Volume 2 Chapter 4

Record. 4 Humans and Dragons and Happiness

Gray mountains.

Made up of not soil, and yet not scorched earth either, the land of this region was blanketed with stony gray laccoliths. Here, surrounded by sparse trees and towering mountains from all directions——

The path to Re Inferiel.

Walled on left and right by steep cliffs, a group of people were traveling down this seemingly endless route.

“Even though we finally made it out of that gloomy temple……”

Ren muttered as he gazed up towards the sky which he had not seen for two days.

“Hey, Kyelse, why does it look like it’s going to rain at any moment?”

“It’s been this way for an entire year.”

The Dragon Princess explained, pointing at the thick cloud layers which blocked off sunlight.

“Due to being completely encompassed by tall mountains, there is nowhere for the clouds to go…… At least that’s what the human geographers say. Exactly what’s going on, I don’t know either.”

“You mean there could be other causes?”

“This is a fateful place with spiritual energy, for Dragons. While I can’t say if it will affect the weather, you don’t have to worry about the rain. Even with the sky being as overcast as this, days where it actually rains are surprisingly few.”

“Oh, so we shouldn’t have to worry about being drenched.”

The end of the path was nowhere to be seen; the cliffs on both sides were nearly perpendicular to the ground.

Unless they pass through here, or go back to the temple in the forest, there was no place to take shelter from rain. That was the cause of Ren’s unease.

“Hey, hey, Kyelse, how’s Valley of the Dragon these days? Does it get a lot of visits from human parties?”

Elise caught up to Kyelse from behind.

“From what Calra said, their numbers increased by a lot compared to three hundred years ago.”

The Dragon Princess did not change her pace as she answered.

“The parties from three hundred years ago were low in both number and awareness, the humans who came to the valley were mainly self-proclaimed adventurers or pioneers. Nowadays they are probably influenced by Encore. With an increase in the number of human parties, there appears to be more people barging into the valley.”

“Ah~ so that’s why after all? Just recently, I heard that there had been a spike in the number of humans wanting to explore Underworld. Heh, too bad more than ninety percent of them would collapse from just being exposed to the environment and scamper out of there in less than a day. But for this valley, humans can invade however they want, isn’t that extremely troublesome for the Dragons? Looking at it that way, Heaven doesn’t have any human presence and should be the most peaceful, right?”

Kyelse turned towards the Archangel who was at the back of the group.

“What’s the situation in Heaven, Fear?”

“You’re right. For Heaven, it’s rare enough for humans to even reach the Gate. With that said, I spent about four years on Earth studying at various academies, so I’m not all that updated on the current situation. Isn’t that right, Ren?”

“Yes, just as Fear-senpai said.”

During her days as a student of St. Fiora Journey Academy, Fear was a model student in almost every aspect.

Not only were her academic scores excellent, there wasn’t a single absence on her attendance record. While at school, she shouldn’t have the leisure to go back to Heaven.

“Fear-senpai, you didn’t go back to Heaven at all?”

“That’s right. Because I was so keen on observing you.”

“…… People will misunderstand if you put it like that.”

Facing her particularly flirtatious gaze, Ren looked elsewhere in a hurry.

Directly in front.

Once again, he looked into the distance.

“But Kyelse, aren’t there fewer of them than what you just said?”

“Fewer of what?”

“Other parties. I’m thinking, if so many people had marked Valley of the Dragon as their destination, if wouldn’t be strange if there are other parties sharing this path with us.”

A passage sandwiched by cliffs on both sides.

Despite all the twists and turns, there weren’t any forks in the path, and parties were normally large groups. If there were any other parties traveling on this path, their footsteps or other signs could be detected.

“Isn’t there none?”

“Well, unexplored regions are called unexplored for a reason. It’s not a famous tourist attraction, so why would people show up here every day? It’s not unusual if no one shows up for a month. On the other hand, sometimes there could be three parties within a day… Huh, I suppose that’s the two possible scenarios.”

Kyelse, at the front, raised her head and looked at the sky above the cliffs.

“Maybe we just happened to be the only party today, or maybe Calra knew we’re coming and already chased away other parties. It’s one of the two.”

“Eh? We haven’t reached Valley of the Dragon yet, and the Dragons already knew we’re coming?”

Ren scanned his surroundings out of reflex.

Thick, dark clouds shrouded the sky, around them were cliffs with hardly any trees on them. Dragon aside, there weren’t any signs of life at all.

…… Even though it’s called Valley of the Dragon.

…… We haven’t seen a single Dragon, have we?

Besides, there were no Trial Gates here.

They were special dimension gates, built as entrances to Heaven and Underworld. Ren had heard that similar devices exist in Sanctuary of Dragons.

In other words, Valley of the Dragon was still ahead of them.

Or so he thought. What Kyelse said next made Ren gasp in bewilderment.

“The actual dwellings are still further ahead, but we are already walking within the unexplored region of Re Inferiel.”

“I see……”

“Hmm. Which means, Kyelse, it should be time for us to take a rest.”

The blonde Archangel stopped abruptly.

She only gestured towards the former Demon King in front of her.

“Ah~ oh yes. Bye-bye, Ren, from this point on Kyelse will take on the burden of leading the way. We’ll be waiting for you two here.”

“Eh? What’s going on?”

“A treaty. Three hundred years ago, Eleline mediated the conflict between Dragons and Angels and Demons. Everyone came to an agreement that each race would not trespass into each other’s territory.”

The young girl with golden hair explained, raising a finger.

——Three high-class races once fought one another without end.

One of the territories was Sanctuary of Dragons, if the strongest Archangel in Heaven and the former Demon King were to somehow expose their identities, the Dragons might consider their visit some type of attack and be wary of them.

The treaty was made to avoid such situations and must not be violated.

“Oh, if something goes wrong, you can escape to here, and we can take the appropriate actions. Dragons are not known to act rashly.”

“Now that you mention it, there’s only one premonition on my mind, that things would develop in a troublesome direction……”

“No worries. With the Dragon Princess is here, there’s no way my kin would hurt you.”

Kyelse took out a small candy, unwrapped it, and put it in her mouth.

“Let’s go, Ren. The rest is a journey of two people.”

“Go-, got it!”

Fear and Elise waved from behind, Ren nodded towards them in return and turned to catch up to Kyelse.”

The same stony scene.

Only the hardness of solid rock can be felt under their feet. The two travelers continued their way in silence.

Neither one of them knew how for long they had been walking.

“…… Umm. Can I ask something?”

“What is it?”

The Dragon Princess only turned her head towards Ren, rather than turning her whole body.

Ren silently gazed upon her lovable appearance, and those mysterious green eyes.

“It’s something way ahead of us, even I think I’m being too impatient.”

“Something way ahead?”

“Suppose we do find Encore, you will…… You will go back to Valley of the Dragon?”

“…………”

The silver-haired girl stopped and turned around.

“Why ask that here and now?”

“I’m asking precisely because we’re here. After all, you said……”

{“I honestly find going back to Valley of the Dragon to be a pain.”}

In the subterranean temple of (GNOME)Ancestral Spirit of Earth.

When Kyelse and Ren sat together, watching the campfire, she did say that.

“Right?”

“…… I see. Indeed. Looks like I’m the first to complain.”

The Dragon girl exhaled, faintly revealing a sad smile.

There she stood, her slender yet regal figure giving off a delicate air. At the same time, in stark contrast to her personality, she also appeared dreamy and meek.

“Then let me tell you straight…… To be honest, I haven’t thought that far yet. There’s always a voice inside my head telling me to not think about it. Like I said before, today I return to Valley of the Dragon, not to come back home, but to complete a crucial step in the search for Encore.”

In order to regain her power, lost when she was sealed away three hundred years ago.

And also to find out why Sword Saint Shion’s “Melody of Spirits” came here before them.

“What do you mean?”

“After finding Encore, I still want to see the outside world for a bit.”

She hadn’t moved from where she stood.

She smiled while shaking her head. There was no way to tell if she did it out of self-deprecation.

“I’m the Dragon Princess. Protecting my kin is my mission; no matter when,it’s always necessary for me to remain in Valley of the Dragon. The same goes for the current Demon King of Underworld and Goddess of Heaven.”

“…… I understand that, more or less.”

Spending one’s entire life in Valley of the Dragon.

Supported by other Dragons and protecting them for her entire life. As the strongest Dragon, Kyelse must shoulder the responsibilities of a Dragon Princess.

“But isn’t it different now?”

“Because we met, Eleline and I”

Kyelse looked up.

“Due to his invitation, I dashed into the outside world, and proceeded to learn about the fun of traveling around the world. In the beginning of our journey, we were wary of each other; Fear and Elise were the same. I was paranoid enough to begin with, so I was always afraid of being decapitated by him in my sleep, but such tension dissipated into thin smoke after a few days. The happiness from experiencing something for the first time sure is rich.”

“Hm. I think that applies to Fear-senpai and Elise as well.”

Fear spent all her days at St. Fiora Journey Academy, waiting for Kyelse to be released from her seal.

She had hoped Kyelse to be a traveling companion. Fear probably made that decision because she saw Kyelse as an irreplaceable comrade.

“In reality, however, many of my kin believe me to be wrong. They would point out, who should protect them while the Dragon Princess is wandering around elsewhere?”

“…………”

“However, I’ve always had the idea that there was no need for me to protect Valley of the Dragon.”

Her gaze shifted from the sky to Ren.

Kyelse looked into his eyes quietly, then took a step closer to him.

Her face was stern, her eyes unblinking.

As if she wanted her gaze to convey her feelings beyond words.

“Angels of Heaven, Demons of Underworld, Dragons of Earth, the differences between the three were settled by that man alone. No longer must Valley of the Dragon be fearful of attacks from Angels or Demons. Meaning, the age where the Dragon Princess must protect her kin ended three hundred years ago.”

“…… Then, why do all the Dragons want you back?”

“Not want, only because ‘it’s a tradition passed down from the ancients’. Although the Dragons are few in number, we are long-lived, and Angels and Demons are the same in this regard. And unlike humans, our generations alternate slowly because of that.”

“It’s the so-called ‘status of the elderly’.”

Not exactly something unheard of in human societies.

Large cities more or less differed from one another, but at the level of small villages, the words of elderly humans usually carried absolute authority. And overall speaking, those whom people address as“elders” usually adhered to old customs and tendencies.

“But weren’t you chosen to be the Dragon Princess because of your strength? You’re not elderly by any means.”

“That goes without saying. But if the Dragon Princess is the first to break a tradition, it’ll be hard for her to set a good example to her kin. In fact, even now some of them still don’t approve of my actions.”

The young girl sighed lightly.

“Which is why I don’t want to think about the future. If returning to Valley of the Dragon is my only option, it’s better not to think about it.”

“————”

Kyelse stood still and whispered blankly.

Seeing Kyelse like this, Ren took a step closer to her.

Their distance.

Their eyes met. Ren not only wanted to shorten the physical distance between them, but also the distance between the feelings in their hearts.

That was all on his mind.

{“I’m happy because I have friends with whom I can talk about anything. The charm would decrease by half if I were alone, even when I go visit new places.”}

…… She said that herself.

…… It was the same three hundred years ago; she was happy because she had friends with her.

“I want to accompany you.”

“What?”

“I’m talking about after we find Encore. If you can’t think of anything other than going back to the valley, then let me do the thinking. I will travel with you until you’re satisfied.”

“…… But, isn’t your goal to find Encore as well?”

“The current goal, yes, but not the final one.”

Did Ren follow Kyelse and the other girls in order to find Encore and become a Brave Hero?

That was not the case.

It was purely his yearning. Yearning to experience the lively adventures of Eleline before he became a Brave hero, and of the Three Great Princesses who followed him.

——I want to witness the unknown realms.

——I want to stand where he stood, to overlook the places he searched.

And thus, Ren chose to follow the girls.

He believed that finding Encore is only the first step towards fulfilling his dream, not the ultimate goal.

“When you want to go out, just say your friends want to see you. How’s that for an excuse?”

“…………”

Kyelse widened her eyes slightly, perhaps surprised by what Ren said.

But only moments later, her expression regained its normal calm, as if she had discovered something amusing.

“…… You have a point. I’ll consider it.”

She gave out a chuckle, sounding slightly excited.

“I made you worry.”

“Worry? Not at all.”

“I’m really glad. My heart is starting to relax a bit.”

Kyelse went back to her usual composed demeanor, and once again started walking forwards.

“Me being glad aside, we must move on for now. We’ll be arriving at the valley soon, my kin should be there to welcome me.”

Open space. The almost vertical cliffs that had accompanied them began to spread out in opposite directions like the doors of a gate, and the path gradually became wider, liberating the scenery ahead.

Ahead of them——

“…… That’s the Trial Gate!”

A towering gate of massive proportions.

Despite being exposed to the elements for several centuries, this open gate maintained its beautiful glaze. It was so massive, Ren could no longer see the sky once he stood directly in front of it.

It outrageous size was designed specifically for Dragons to pass through.

“Amazing…… Such massive architecture, did the Dragons build it?”

“Hard to say. This thing has been around before I was born. Legends say it’s the work of and (ANCIENTS)Lost Spell. The Trial Gates of Heaven and Underworld are more or less similar in origin. But this Gate differs from the other ones in that it has no purpose, since the doors themselves can’t swing shut.”

Kyelse was staring into the center of the Gate.

Although the doors were open, the interior had been thoroughly destroyed to the point the doors could no longer be shut and anyone can pass through.

“Say, did Eleline destroy this Gate?”

“It was me. One day I was in a bad mood, I only nudged it and it broke.”

“…… So that’s what happened!”

“It’s just an antique, no big deal. More importantly, once we pass through it there’s no return. Prepare yourself.”

Kyelse proceeded to pass through the Gate while staring straight ahead.

Without saying anything, Ren followed after her.

Once past the Trial Gate——

“………… This…… This is?”

To the sight before him, Ren unconsciously uttered a few words of disbelief.

——Several dozens of huge Dragons, of different types.

Earth Dragons, with armored hide which were tough beyond imagination.

There were Wyverns, with their massive wings spread wide.

There were also Water Dragons with water still dripping down their bodies, they probably came up from the deep lakes just recently.

And countless other types Ren had no knowledge of.

Ancient Dragons, which normally never show themselves, were now in a line stretching beyond the eye can see; they were even on top of the cliffs.

…… So this is the Sanctuary of Dragons.

…… Could it be they gathered here for the sole purpose of welcoming Kyelse?

“You’ve worked hard, guarding the valley while I was gone.”

The numerous Dragons observed the two in silence.

The heavy atmosphere gave Ren goosebumps for just “being there”. But the young girl with silver hair standing beside him could look at the Dragons with a relaxed expression.

The Dragon Princess who stood above them all.

“…………”

“What are you doing? Getting stared by you in disbelief is getting on my nerves.”

“Ah, no, I was just thinking how you really are as great as I expected.”

Archangel Fear.

Former Demon King Elise.

Those two were the same in their respective realms. Including Kyelse, there was no need to question their strength. However, since they had been treating Ren so affectionately, it was beyond Ren’s ability to actually comprehend just how much prestige they hold.

…… That aside, Kyelse really is a Dragon Princess.

…… So awesome.

The Dragon Princess who ruled over Earth.

The legendary Three Great Princesses who accompanied Eleline to end the war—looking at the Dragons gathered in front of him, Ren finally realized just how preeminent were those beauties he had been traveling with.

…… This is beyond impressive.

…… It feels like, how do I put this…… It feels like there’s a part of my chest that will become vacant.

Ren didn’t know if it is correct to compare this feeling to “loneliness”.

But there were no other ways to express it.

He can only feel that Kyelse might depart like this, to a place he can never reach.

“Kyelse……”

“Be at ease. I will be back soon. I must have a talk with Calra, and also release my seal. It’ll take two or three hours at most. You wait here.”

The young girl turned her head to Ren standing by her side. She held a faint smile.

But this only lasted a brief moment. Before Ren could speak again, she turned gracefully and started heading towards the Dragons waiting in front of them.

“Everyone, this human here is my guest. Do not be rude to him.”

Valley of the Dragon.

Kyelse progressed further away, with several dozens of Dragons following behind.

Now, Ren was by himself.

No, about twenty meters away, a single Dragon remained. The ends of its limbs had evolved clear and transparent fins for swimming. This huge Water Dragon with the blue color of forget-me-not flowers did not leave with the others and only gazed down upon Ren.

Was it about to greet its guest? Was it observing Ren? Or was it keeping watch out of caution?

It made no attempts to get close, now did it show any intention of communicating.

A lonely place.

Ren and the Water Dragon stood at the entrance of Valley of the Dragon in silence.

“…… Three hours at most, huh?”

Ren almost unconsciously gripped the hilt of his sword, but he caught himself just in time and pulled his hand away in a hurry.

Sword training. Special training required by Kyelse and the follow-ups.

Ren was almost conditioned to think about training and his body moved out of reflex. But if he swung his sword here, he might provoke the Dragons at any moment.

“Looks like there’s nothing I can do but wait.”

Ren muttered to himself. As he was about to lean against a cliff wall……

“You are…… Eleline…………?”

“Eh?”

The Dragon spoke.

The Water Dragon who had been looking at Ren in silence suddenly spoke. It was only a few words, but they undoubtedly came from the Dragon’s vocal cords.

“Everyone, are surprised. Who…… Are you…………?”

“Me? No, I am not Eleline.”

When he and Kyelse first met, she too made the same mistake.

Thinking back on it, Ren lightly waved his hand:

“At the academy…… Ah, well, even in human cities I always get mistaken for him, I do realize I look a lot like him. But other than resemblance, there are no other relations. Didn’t Kyelse mention it?”

“………… I see. I was mistaken.”

“Hey, hey?”

The Water Dragon only muttered to itself. Even it began to leave.

It had lost its interest.

The feeling was expressed from its wordless departing figure.

——No.

Perhaps this was the Dragons’ nature.

Paying no heed to the other creatures inhabiting this Earth, spending eternities entirely within this sanctuary.

{“Due to his invitation, I dashed into the outside world, and proceeded to learn about the fun of traveling around the world.”}

…… Ah~ I think I understand now, Kyelse.

…… I think I understand a bit, the reason why you dislike coming here.

At the same time, it appeared that Ren also understood the reason behind Keylse’s departure.

So waiting it was.

Waiting for Kyelse to come back.

“————”

He leaned against a cliff wall.

Without words, Ren looked at the dark clouds densely gathered in the sky above.

╳╳╳

On the only passage through Valley of the Dragon.

Walled in left and right by tall cliffs, near the middle of the path——

“I wonder how’s the situation over there, do you think Ren would be welcomed?”

“Hmm~ I really can’t say. However, I can imagine the Dragons being startled.”

Archangel Fear was sitting on a boulder.

The Former Demon King stood next to her, arms crossed.

“Startled…… Yes, you’re right. They might even become alarmed.”

“I won’t be surprised if they do. After all, he and Sword emperor came out the same mold, and it happened to be none other than that Sword Emperor who came to Valley of the Dragon three hundred years ago and took on its inhabitants by himself, taking down several dozens of Dragons one after another.”

Rulers of Earth.

Three hundred years ago, numerous Dragons inhabited the valley, some occasionally attacked human villages on a whim, among other acts of tyranny.

Tyranny through force——

The reason was simple. It was to display to their overwhelming power to the humans.

The one who suppressed those tyrants was Sword Emperor Eleline.

At the time, he already took care of the chaos between Heaven and Underworld. Even among Dragons, he was a human often brought up during private chatter. He made his way to Valley of the Dragon, and single-handedly made all Dragons yield to him; even more surprisingly, afterwards he took Dragon Princess Kyelse with him on his journey.

“For the Dragons, he was a bad guy they need to be wary of, the vilest intruder in history. Not only did he make a fool out of them, he even took their most precious hime-sama from them.”

“You’re right. But Kyelse herself brought Ren in. They shouldn’t be too unreasonable towards him.”

“And also, if they know he’s not Eleline, there shouldn’t be any dramatic developments.”

The dark-skinned little girl suddenly jumped onto the boulder to sit next to Fear.

“If that’s all they know, they’ll probably lose interest. Such a shame, they won’t know just exactly how interesting of a human Ren is. I suppose only Dragon Lord Calra would notice.”

“A human who is obeyed by Spirits. The more I think about it, the more likely they’ll take caution towards him.”

Fear almost smiled out of hopelessness, but she retrained herself.

“How will the Dragon Lord react to Ren……?”

A sigh from the Archangel.

Carried away by the winds blowing into the valley, carried into the sky far away.

——After an unknown period of time.

At the entrance to Valley of the Dragon.

“What’s going on here……?”

Ren, biting his bottom lip, moved away from the cliff he was leaning against.

He was waiting for Kyelse.

Correct, he had been waiting for a long time.

Counting seconds, he stopped after he had counted three hours. Afterwards, fatigued, he tried to relax. Even though he wasn’t counting, roughly three more hours passed.

Six hours.

Two times longer than what Kyelse initially promised, not to mention there were no signs of her coming back.

If only he could hear some noise coming out from the valley, or catch a glimpse of one or two Dragons, it would at least feel like there had been some progress.

Instead, the valley was terrifyingly quiet.

Not a single Dragon to be seen.

——This can’t be natural, can it?

——Is Sanctuary of Dragons always like this?

As a human, Ren had no idea how the Dragons lived.

He was only certain of one thing: Kyelse said it won’t be long before she comes back, and so far that did not happen.

“…………”

This fact alone was enough for the resolution hidden in Ren’s heart to take shape.

Maybe something happened to Kyelse. She was nowhere to be seen, even though it was long past the time she promised. At the very least, this meant there was something unexpected.

“…… Hmm, Kyelse, this should be fine, right?”

Pushing off against the hard ground, Ren took a step forward.

He entered Sanctuary of Dragons.

“I can go look for you now, can I?!”

The unexplored region of Re Inferiel, Ren charged into this sanctuary surrounded by steep mountains.

A ramp of rocks.

He ran upon this stable slope, which was not as steep as the Great Volcano of Galia.

A huge precipice appeared.

Including Wyverns, the winged Dragons could fly over this with ease. But among the Dragons that came to welcome Kyelse were also wingless types such as the Earth and Water Dragons.

“Then, it should be one of these on the side……”

Directly in front stood a precipice blocking the path.

The path split into two branches around it.

Both branches appeared to be viable passages, but there were obvious differences between the two.

The path on the right bore the tracks of large Earth Dragons. Furthermore, there were puddles, a sign that the Water Dragon had passed here recently.

——Kyelse and the Dragons following her took the path on the right.

There was no doubt about that.

But Ren did not want to find where the Dragons lived. He only wanted to find Kyelse’s whereabouts and make sure she is okay.

“…… In that case, I’ll go this way.”

He loudly said to himself.

He turned his feet to the left.

{“In fact, even now some of them still don’t approve of my actions.”}

He was not welcomed by the Dragons.

The hours he spent in silence proved that. To the Dragons inhabiting this valley, he was only a hindrance, the one who was responsible for inviting Kyelse onto the path of searching for Encore.

“Even though this way might be longer, it’s better than the other one where I’m more likely to run into the Dragons.”

Besides, he can’t deny his curiosity.

The unexplored region of Re Inferiel.

He was interested not because it was a sanctuary for the Dragons, but rather because it was Kyelse’s birthplace where she grew up in. After all, she was the one who took him on a journey to see the world.

He wanted to gain a deeper understanding about the thoughts of Kyelse, as well as her current situation.

He wanted to see for himself, to witness the history slumbering within these lands.

It was best to do all that without any Dragons around. If some secret areas did exist within this sanctuary, there must be some Dragons guarding them. Ren did not want to wander mindlessly into those areas and anger the guardians.

On the other hand, without any Dragons keeping watch, he can walk as far as he wanted without incidents.

“…… However, what’s with this heat?”

As he walked, Ren gradually began sweating.

The valley was shrouded by chill air just a moment ago, but as Ren advanced up the ramp, the air was filled with steam which carried sweltering heat.

“Just how…… This is just like Great Volcano of Galia……”

With each breath, Ren felt as though the heat will scorch his lungs.

This wouldn’t be a problem for Dragons, Angels, and Demons. Humans are a different story, however, and they will most definitely succumb to heat stroke if they camp here overnight.

Having gone up the ramp, in front of him——

“What?”

From his shaking vocal cords came a voice of shock.

A lake of lava, red as blood.

Here was simply a valley surrounded by mountains, not an active volcano. From Ren’s knowledge, even if there were lakes, they should be filled with clear and cold spring water.

…… Oh, they should have that kind of lakes too.

…… Or else that Water Dragon won’t be able to live.

Only this lava lake appeared rather special. It felt safer to think about it that way.

“It also appears to be different from ordinary lava……”

A boiling, bubbling lava fountain.

The extraordinary heat that surrounded the area must be the result of this. But at the same time, Ren had an unusual sense of familiarity regarding the color of the lava that was gushing forth.

——Red as blood.

Although the color of lava and magma largely depended on rock composition and temperature, under normal circumstances it should never be this red, but closer to orange.

Ren knew that blood-red lava is rare.

…… If I have to give an example that reminded me of it……

…… Then it would be Achendia’s flames, the color was more or less like this.

A great Demon whose existence could be likened to a manifestation of flames.

She belonged to the Five Great Disasters, former subordinates of Elise. From his memory, Ren recalled her emitting flames which were also red as blood. Of course, he didn’t think she has any direct connections with this lava pool……

“I am very curious, but I also can’t just stay here. I’ll only be wasting my energy.”

Ren walked along the edge of the pool and got to the other side.

Once again, he was back on a mountain path sandwiched between cliffs. Unlike the previous path, this one was wide enough to easily accommodate Dragons.

“Is this really Valley of the Dragon? Feels like there are no Dragons here at all.”

Maybe this path led past the valley, reaching other places.

Should he turn back?

Ren hesitated, but his feet still carried him forward, as if with a purpose.

——A pillar of light.

There were also tiny particles of light floating around like snowflakes. Far too many to count, they slowly rose to the sky. This scenery was just off to the corner not too far away.

Something was up over there.

It might be something related to Kyelse’s awakening ceremony. For that reason, Ren decided to take a look. Having made the resolve, he gradually moved towards that rocky area.

Next.

He arrived at the pillar of light, what he saw——

“…… This scent? Ren?”

The voice came from far behind a cliff.

A lingering, reverberating voice from a distant place, but at the same time carrying a strange feeling of nostalgia.

Not made by a human.

It was very similar to the Water Dragon from earlier, but much more fluent and filled with feminine gentleness, this voice——

“Eh? Did…… Someone just call me?”

He was getting closer.

From behind the cliff in front of him.

“Did someone…… Say my name?”

On full alert, Ren fearfully made his way to the corner.

Suddenly, movement. Some massive object was moving. Then……

“Ren, Ren? Don’t, don’t come here, my transformation and seal are still…… You, you little-! Don’t come here, my current appearance…… It’s…… Em-embarrassing————”

“Huh? Apologies, the echoes are making it hard to hear, I didn’t get what you said.”

The voice was unusually flustered.

It might be due to the peculiar reverberation, or due to it being overlapped by the unbelievable resonance, Ren could not make out what the voice was telling him. Unable to understand the voice, he continued forward.

“————”

Ren stood there speechless, utterly stunned.

A great silver Dragon was there, its body bathed in a mysterious radiance.

…… So beautiful?

No, “magnificent” would be more appropriate.

That brilliant silver body glistened with just a hint of blue, its luster was fresher than the dreamiest of pearls; on its back were two feathered wings of the purest white, comparable to the wings of Angels.

The gleaming brilliance was not the result of sunlight being reflected.

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Without a doubt, that splendorous light was emitted from the Dragon’s body.

Its body was so huge, Ren must tilt his head all the way up in order to see its head.

Its colossal frame was over ten meters in height, and yet the trunk was not as bulky as those of other Dragons. Rather, its figure was lean with a slender silhouette, reminiscent of a human body.

Its eyes were the color of jade and gracefully permeating radiance, resembling gemstones of the highest grade.

——How beautiful.

——How beautiful and mysterious this Dragon is.

More beautiful than any jewels in the world, it could even be described as a divine existence.

The Dragons were a race which dominated the earth, and that fact had now been blurred by beauty. Looking at every single Dragon in the valley, none of them could compare to even a portion of this silver Dragon.

A beautiful presence.

Even more impressively, it had an indescribable, absolute spiritual nature. Its “level” was distinctively unique.

“…………”

“…………”

They greeted each other with silence.

Ren was made speechless by the majestic sight before his eyes.

The iridescent Dragon, on the other hand, was writhing strangely, quite the contrast against its beautiful appearance. It turned to its side as if to shield the front of its body, giving the impression of being embarrassed.

“Um, excuse me……”

“…… What is it?”

“About that, I, I’m looking for a girl named Kyelse…… and I’m wondering if you know her.”

Ren suddenly realized he was being particularly careful in his choice of words.

Which was understandable. From Heaven to Earth, and down to Underworld, there shouldn’t be another existence as beautiful and mysterious as this one.

He felt somewhat in awe.

Ren just met it for the first time, and yet, in front of this Dragon, he couldn’t help but feel as though his consciousness will become hazy simply from looking at it.

“You’re looking for Kyelse……?”

“Ah, well. Yes, I believe she should be the Dragon Princess of this valley……”

“……”

“…………”

“………… How dense.”

“Huh?”

For a moment, Ren could not comprehend what the Dragon just said.

“…… You really haven’t realized?”

“I haven’t realized what?”

“For-, forget it! Anyway, stop staring at me like that…… It’s, it’s really embarrassing me!”

The response sounded as though it came from a maiden who had been seen naked.

For a Dragon, this silver Dragon had a pair of stunning arms (legs?). For some reason, it crossed those arms dexterously, as if trying to cover up its body.

“Are you being shy?”

“Is, is there something wrong with that?!”

“Oh, um, if what I’m about to say displeases you, I apologize in advance. But I think you’re beautiful beyond description, and therefore you shouldn’t be so embarrassed. It’ll suit you better to open up a bit.”

“…… Beautiful…… Yes, yes, you’re right. Of course!”

A complete turnaround.

The Dragon’s tone of voice had turned lofty, it appeared to be in a very good mood. While it still emitted an absolute mysteriousness and presence, its vocabulary and demeanor were very childish.

…… Eh?

…… Why do I feel like, I know somebody just like this?

“If I may ask.”

“I, I know already! If you want to find Kyelse, go back to where you were waiting originally. I’ll tell Kyelse that you’re worried about her.”

“Eh? You would do that?”

“…… Leave it to me. Don’t worry, rousing the Dragon particles made dormant by the seal is taking more time than she had expected. That’s all. So you should hurry and go back! Hurry!”

The Dragon swung its dazzling tail and pointed at the path Ren took to get here.

It’s telling him to go back that way.

“I understand. If Kyelse will be back soon, I’m relieved.”

“Yes, yes. I’ll also go back soon.”

I?

The mysterious Dragon muttered mysteriously. Although Ren was puzzled by this, he still left as directed.

The human youth departed——

The unexplored region of Re Inferiel.

At its deepest parts, the silver Dragon stared for a moment at where the youth once stood, and then said:

“…… Beautiful, oh………… I’m so glad.”

Its muttering contained a mixture of shyness and embarrassment.

The Sanctuary of Dragons, just before its deepest parts——

The huge lava lake.

“So hot. Sure enough, the intense heat is only around this lava lake.”

Dodging splashes of lava, Ren quickly passed by along the shore of the blood-red lake.

The path was only about two hundred meters long, but due to the erupting steam, sweat poured down his face like a waterfall.

“…… That Dragon really was stunningly beautiful.”

Wiping away sweat, Ren inadvertently looked back.

The opposite shore of the lava lake. He had already gotten to the cliffs; the Dragon can’t be seen from here. He had never imagined such a beautiful and graceful Dragon would exist in this world.

Bright silver with a hint of sky’s blue.

“Oh yeah, Kyelse’s hair is that color. It also feels like that Dragon knew Kyelse well, could it be one of her relatives? It was quite gentle to me.”

Ren decided to ask Kyelse once she comes back.

He pondered upon those thoughts and went back through the left branch of the fork. Just as before, not a single Dragon can be seen on this path.

“Seems like Kyelse also took the path on the right. There are tracks of numerous Dragons passing through. The path on the left, there was only that one Dragon……”

Ren made his way back to the fork. Once again, he scanned his surroundings.

If he hadn’t found any Dragons nor clues of Kyelse’s whereabouts, now he would probably already be taking the path on the right.

The dust and water showed that numerous Dragons passed through together.

“…… However, that beautiful Dragon said Kyelse will be back soon.”

It shouldn’t be a lie. Even though it was merely Ren’s faint intuition, he knew the Dragon was telling the truth. That was how he felt.

“Then I will wait.”

Back to the place where he first waited.

Ren headed towards the vast open space surrounded by tall cliffs.

Fear and Elise were waiting on the path quite a distance back. There were neither Dragon no friends here. Ren stood alone, and by chance, he looked up——

“It’s no use, Kyelse-ane-sama will not return to you.”

Just as he looked up, the elegant voice of a young girl echoed through the valley.

“Who, who’s there?”

Ren forcefully jerked his line of sight down.

——He wasn’t scared of the voice or what it said.

——Rather, Ren felt fear due to the way the voice manifested itself.

Until the voice spoke, Ren did not sense any footsteps or movements.

Just as suddenly, she appeared.

Ren can only think about how strange the timing was.

“Did I scare you? That is not my intention.”

“You are……”

A young girl emitting a stern aura.

Her big eyes were like red gemstones, and her beauty appeared delicate but at the same time presented an intelligent look.

Her translucent silver hair swayed in the wind, taking on a glistening, multicolored gradient under the weak sunlight.

She held a scepter in her hand.

Scepter——a staff carried by rulers and those in power throughout history, it represented their unshakable dominance.

A large, deep-red gemstone was embedded at the top of her scepter, while the shaft was intertwined by exquisite decorations, each one comparable to artworks of the highest craftsmanship.

……She is so much like Kyelse?

……No, what is this, this feeling of unease in my heartbeat…… Why can’t I stop this chill down my back?

The young girl’s aura could be described as dreamlike.

However, just by facing her, Ren was under an illusion, as if she grasped his heart in her hand. What was this wave of pressure?

“I find it difficult to comprehend.”

“Eh?”

“She wished to leave the valley to travel outside. Originally, I somewhat understood her frame of mind, so in a playful mood I too took a human form…… Ultimately, I could not comprehend it. Ane-sama really was delirious. I must hurry and have her restore her dignity as a Dragon Princess.”

The young girl sighed heavily.

She combed her glistening hair with her slender fingers, the reflected light changing its various colors with each movement.

“Very well, need me to introduce myself?”

“…… You couldn’t be?”

A drop of cold sweat dripped down Ren’s cheek.

An appearance resembling Kyelse.

And calling her “ane-sama”, that could only mean one thing.

In other words——

“My name is Calra. I am the one protecting my kin here in place of Kyelse-ane-sama.”

“Ah, I see, so you are……”

Ren had a faint feeling that was the case.

Although she took the form of a human, but the pressure gave off by her presence was completely different. Previously, the confrontation with Achendia gave Ren a similar chill.

……Dragon Lord Calra, who made a vow of sisterhood with Kyelse.

……But she isn’t like Kyelse.

Kyelse and the young girl in front of Ren were almost complete opposites.

Her ruby eyes were cold, or rather, devoid of emotions. She would not smile or show shyness like Kyelse, her emotion simply will not change.

“I have heard of you. You must be the greatest Dragon in this valley, correct?”

“It is as you have said. However, that only applies to when Kyelse-ane-sama is absent.”

The young Dragon girl answered flatly.

“In that case, for someone of your status to come here…… Is there something to discuss about?”

“Not discuss. I’m here to make a declaration to you and you alone.”

She spoke in fluent human language.

The splendid Dragon Lord stared at Ren with her cold and deep-red eyes.

“Human, you are a scourge to Kyelse-ane-sama.”

“What did you say?”

“Let’s see which you’ll choose. First——leave immediately, and take the Archangel and former Demon King outside with you. Second——battle me in a duel right here, make me remove you from Valley of the Dragon by force.”

“…………”

“Do you not understand? Then I’ll take this opportunity to explain to you.”

Emotionless eyes.

A scene was unraveling, a scene where a tyrant of absolute power was looking down at a weak and insignificant human in belittlement.

“Kyelseane-sama is the kin of us Dragons. From today, your little treasure hunt for Encore has reached its conclusion.”

Immediately……

The merciless Dragon Lord swung down her scepter.

——A violent gust of wind.

The air wailed under the distortion and gathered into a whirlwind.

“Ugh?”

Ren was lifted off the ground and then slammed into the cliff behind him.

……A Spirit armament? No, that’s not it.

……She, she’s merely swinging her scepter.

Much like how Archangel Fear could stir up wind with her fists.

It was purely physics at work.

But the power to do so far surpassed human “capabilities”, it could be described as a godly power.

“I demand you to return ane-sama.”

That was her declaration.

Speaking as the guardian of Valley of the Dragon, she expressed an absolute rejection towards the human.

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4 Responses to Sekai no Owari no Encore Volume 2 Chapter 4

  1. That Clara is a bitch!

    Like

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