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I saw the prophet again in the lighthouse. I told him my whole story. There was a night each month where the moon was full. This full-moon night wasn’t my most painful one. To the contrary, not only did I not feel my mana receive a boost, I actually felt empty as well as a sharp pain. The pain wasn’t as a consequence of mana damaging my body but all of my organs crying for mana due to the lack thereof. However, I truly had no mana left.

I emptied out my mana stores as soon as I reached the border of the northwest. All I had left was that miniscule amount of blood from Ling Yue.  I didn’t think I’d last more than two days. My time spent conscious continuously shortened, and I felt weaker and weaker. Other people went to the West to slay dragons, coming with their best equipment and strongest warriors. I, on the other hand, would better off be described as going there to seek death as opposed to life.

The prophet didn’t provide me with any information at the lighthouse. Instead, he learnt about me from my visit. He learnt about my story in the elven lands, the human lands, the desert and the North. When I was retelling my stories, I fell into deep thought. I felt a little lost. I questioned if the man in my story was really me. I wondered if I was the one who led the imperial guards and ran around in Hilles City? It hadn’t been long, but it still felt distant to me. Perhaps it was because too much happened and too long ago. I think those memories were so old that I felt lost, and they felt distant to me.

After reflecting on my memories, I was a great individual, in my opinion. At least, I went through a lot and resolved just as much. I might not have resolved everything perfectly, but I couldn’t return to the past to do it over again.

I think the prophet might’ve wanted to allow me to enter the desert without any qualms. After all, it was my story that belonged exclusively to me. If I died there, there’d be somebody to tell my story. I had to admit the prophet was interesting. He didn’t look into my future again; instead, he looked into my past. Of course, it might’ve been because he could no longer see into the future.

I had been to a desert before. I met Nara there; however, that desert wasn’t remotely frightening compared to this one. The desert there was just a little hot, but the blue sky and bright sun were still visible. The sand was on the ground, as well. At night, one could see the starry sky. To me, that felt as though it was my blissful honeymoon with Luna. In this desert, however, it was substantially more dangerous and frightening. You couldn’t see the sun. All that was in sight was sand dancing in the air as if there was a tornado rampaging in the centre of the desert.

The sand wildly attacked my face. Soon enough, it hurt comparably to being cut with knives. The sound of the whistling wind echoed in my ears. At other places, you would be able to see signs that a sandstorm was ending. Here, though, there was no such thing. The tornado here seemed as though it was going to rampage until the world ended. Actually, perhaps the world had ended for the desert already.

The White Deer King stopped. Worn out, I slowly sat up and looked around at the dim yellow world. I caressed the White Deer King’s neck. Bewildered, I weakly asked, “What’s wrong, White Deer King? Did something happen?”

The White Deer King shook her head. She was unwilling to continue forward. With a helpless smile, I asked, “What’s wrong? You scared? Can you sense the dragon?”

The White Deer King started to show aggravation. She stamped the ground. That was a gesture she displayed when she was annoyed. I could see anger and a sense of being misunderstood in her eyes. Her eyes were on the pouch I had hanging next to me. She hastened me with her gaze. I then understood what she meant.

The White Deer King was telling me to hurry up and drink the last bit of blood. The White Deer King probably sensed something wrong about this place. My mana was virtually completely depleted, so my senses were also impacted.

There wasn’t mana here in the zone. It was close to the elven lands, yet it lacked any trace of mana. Elves needed to rely on their own mana supplies when in places where mana was lacking. I didn’t have any mana in me, however. I could easily fall into the same perilous state Luna went through in the desert and pass out as a consequence. Unlike then, there was nobody to take care of me. The White Deer King was worried about me, but she was just a deer at the end of the day.

Indeed, I needed mana. I didn’t know how long I had to stay in the desert, and I had no idea if there really was a dragon there. I, therefore, had to drink Ling Yue’s blood. There was no other choice. I would die in the desert, otherwise. I picked up the small bottle. The blood didn’t condensate, since Mommy Vyvyan used time freeze magic on the bottle. I opened it and shook the bottle. I could survive another day or two if I drank it. I already did what I could. The rest depended on my luck. I believed in miracles.

The taste of blood dispersed in my mouth. In the past, I’d puke at the stifling smell, but it felt very soothing that time. The blood entered my body and instantly revived me, a sensation comparable to water flowing through a dry field to moisten it. In just a single instant, all of my physical problems were resolved. My strength retuned to me. If I continued drinking blood, I’d become a vampire, because the feeling was… far too soothing.

I tossed the bottle aside. Just as I was able to continue forward, though, I felt the wind pick up all of a sudden. The tornado appeared to be right next to me. Panicked, I looked left and right as I pulled the White Deer King. However, she wouldn’t budge a step. She looked overhead with terrified eyes. I had never seen the White Deer King so terrified. When she saw me appear behind her out of the blue in the past, she’d turn around and ready herself to take me head on. That was the first time she looked so horrified.

I stroked her neck to calm her down. I was about to ask her what happened, but a huge silhouette came down from the sky and landed right before me. It was as if a massive boulder dropped onto the ground right before me, instigating the wind into blowing violently, which, in turn, nearly blew me into the sand. The White Deer King cried out then spun around to take me and flee for our lives. The huge silhouette leapt over in an instant. It was so fast that we only saw an afterimage. It sent the White Deer King and me flying.

I rolled though the sand many rounds, sending me some good distance. I felt as though I was completely buried in the sand. It felt as though my back and neck had snapped. I desperately tried to wipe the sand off my face. I spat out a mouthful of sand. I then turned around and pathetically crawled to my feet. I reached for my gun behind me and fired several shots at the dark shadow in the sand.

I heard my bullets hit what sounded comparable to metal. The dark figure turned around. A huge pair of yellow eyes stared at me before I could scream. 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. Even Ling Yue was tiny in comparison. I had a mixture of feelings running through my  mind. My rational voice was screaming for me to run, but my goal in coming here was to find it.

I came to find my father. I found the dragon, which meant that I was one step closer to my father. I was a dead man; dying from lack of mana and dying to a dragon was the same thing.

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. I hoped it was already full.

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. I pondered, “Does it consider me dirty? Do you not know why I’m covered in sand?”

I didn’t puke. To my surprise, it spoke. Its tone came from a dignified, archaic style. Its voice contained an imposing aura that wasn’t to be questioned as well as pride. With a hint of a smile, it said, “Thou are the first warrior to not flee in fear in a thousand years.”

I took in a deep breath and put on a tough front: “I’ve been through many things more frightening than you.”

The dragon didn’t seem to have any interest in my past; she 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. I was no garage kit, no.

“What are thou here to seek?”

I took in a deep breath and gave a candid response: “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? Ten years ago, my father went missing here. I want to live, and I also want to find my father’s whereabouts.”

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.

“Come with me.” I don’t know how much time passed, since my sense of time basically didn’t exist in this desert. She continued, “I can grant thy wish.”

Glossary

*Garage kit – a type of anime figurine.


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