The Young at Heart Lizard
There are two types of people in this world: those who you can have a relaxing cup of tea with, and everyone else.
Willem was located on the 68th Floating Island, downtown, in his usual restaurant. The beast man shop owner was so scared out of his wits that Willem felt sorry for him. An apology might be necessary afterwards, but the poor guy would need to hold out a bit longer.
“They don’t have tea here, so I can never decide what to drink… “ Naigrat said as she glanced over the menu.
“I will have medicinal water,” declared a large Reptrace man sitting in a chair entirely too small for his humongous body.
“Ah… I’ll have coffee,” Willem said.
“Then I’ll go with that too… can I order some food too?” Without waiting for either of their responses, Naigrat called over the chef, told him all of their orders, and even added an utterly unnecessary joke at the end. “If you take too long with our orders, I’ll eat you.”
The shop owner’s fur all shot up abruptly, and Willem could tell that his face had gone completely pale, despite it being physically impossible to see behind the fur.
“Hey, you don’t need to be threatening people like that.”
“I wasn’t threatening him. It was just a cute little joke of encouragement,” Naigrat protested.
“Alright, there’s a bookstore over on that corner. Today’s the day you finally buy a common language dictionary.”
“Again with that?”
“I’m just trying to help you out.”
As Willem and Naigrat were going back and forth, Limeskin opened his mouth and let out a hearty cackle. “I see you two are very close now.”
“Not really,” Willem answered.
To learn common sense, one must first recognize what is not common sense. To correct the misconceptions of this Troll lady, someone needs to be by her and point out right from wrong. It just so happened that Willem was the only one in such a position to do so, and that was what he was doing. That was it, nothing more.
“… well anyways, what’s this little meeting today for? I assume you didn’t call this big lizard all the way over here just so he could enjoy a vacation.”
“Oh? So you can tell that I’m not here for official business?”
“Anyone could tell by looking at you.”
Looking back, Willem felt like he had bumped into Limeskin quite frequently. On top of Garakuta Tower on the 28th Island. The harbor district on the 68th Island. The Winged Guard headquarters in Collinadiluche. All of those times, he had been wearing his (probably specially made) army uniform. The imposing look that his giant body created together with his army uniform had left a strong impression on Willem.
His look now, however…
“What kind of fashion sense is that?”
“My daughter chose it. I am quite pleased with it as well.”
“… I see.”
It was… casual to say the least. The lizard wore a leather jacket over a plain linen shirt. A few decorative braids that young Orcs might be into were sewn onto the shoulders. All together, when combined with the milky white color of his skin, or rather scales, his outfit produced a truly uncomfortable feeling. Sometimes Willem thought he could see how everything went well together, but other times… just no.
“She looks like her mother, with glamorous scales and a beautiful face.”
“I never asked…”
Willem didn’t even know he had a daughter before. If Limeskin was about to start bragging about his daughter, though, he had better be ready for a counter brag. Well, his daughters weren’t exactly daughters by blood and he wasn’t going to start comparing their looks with a lizard’s, but Willem would definitely win that battle. He decided to keep quiet, however, foreseeing that such a conversation could easily end up in a mess.
“Willem, your desire to brag about your own daughters in return is showing on your face,” Naigrat pointed out.
“As the commander during the defeat earlier, I have been restrained. For a short while, I will not be able to don my uniform.”
“A rather light punishment.”
The defeat Limeskin referred to was the battle in which the entire 15th Island fell. Considering the heavy responsibility that should have come with such a large scale loss and the light punishment actually received, Willem figured that the restraint must have just been for appearances. Whether it was directed towards the rest of the Winged Guard or the common people he didn’t know, but the lack of serious consequences must have been a way to hide all the classified information regarding the incident.
An organization is a living being by itself. In order to live on, many wasteful and unreasonable things need to be carried out. It appeared to Willem that those bothersome aspects hadn’t changed much in five hundred years.
“I do not need pity. The body of a warrior occasionally requires rest. I am enjoying this time off.”
That much Willem could tell. The old (or so Willem guessed) man was quite visibly excited about his rare opportunity to wear something new and relax.
Naigrat cleared her throat. “Let’s move on to the main topic.”
Ah. Even though he initially asked about that himself, Willem forgot that they had actual issues to discuss.
“First, I want to talk about what to do with Kutori from now on. Her current condition is unprecedented in the fairy warehouse.”
As Naigrat began to speak, the food they ordered was carried over to them on violently trembling plates. One extremely stinky cup of medicinal water, two cups of coffee, and one order of sandwiches with thick bacon strips in them.
“Since the fairies are considered weapons, there’s no official protocol for retirement or discharge. According to the documents, she’s still a fairy soldier, even though she’s no longer actually a fairy. I want to arrange with the company and the army for her to be withdrawn from the front lines.”
“So she is no longer a fairy — this is true?”
Limeskin’s question was very reasonable. Not many people would believe it if they heard that someone suddenly changed their entire species. Willem himself still found it difficult to come to terms with. However…
“We’ve checked it many times, but the result has never changed.”
When told by the person who made the discovery herself, who must have doubted and carefully reconfirmed it more than anyone, it became impossible to deny. Common sense needed to go out the window.
“Can we change the entire system somehow? It’s obviously not adequate enough to cover the current situation,” Willem asked.
“It’ll take a long time to get such a change to go through. It could be years. And if she gets an order to go to battle during that time, it’ll all be for nothing.”
“I can do something about the orders to a certain extent,” Limeskin remarked.
“Okay. Then I’ll ask you to please do what you can to that ‘certain extent’. I wanted to ask you in person, that’s why I had you come here today.”
“The soldier inside of me cannot respond to such an unjust request,” Limeskin said before taking a sip of his medicinal water.
He had a dignified air around him, like that of a wise old man, completely contrary to his youngster outfit. Willem wondered how old he actually was. The large variation in the body sizes of the Reptrace is due to individual differences in the ages they stop growing at. Given that Limeskin was humongous, he must have spent a pretty long time growing. He also held the high rank of First Officer and apparently had a daughter, so Willem imagined he had lived for quite a number of years.
“However, right now I am a citizen on vacation. I accept your request with full heart and soul.”
“Thank you.” Naigrat breathed a brief sigh of relief.
The Naigrat sitting before Willem seemed somewhat more mature than usual. A different aura surrounded her than when she was at the warehouse playing with the little ones. With them, she seemed like an old older sister, or a young mother.
“… so listening to you guys talk just now, I realized something…” Willem wasn’t too fond of the adult way of doing things, and he wasn’t particularly good at it either. But that was probably true for his two companions as well, so Willem figured it wasn’t the time to be caring about that sort of thing. “The Great Sage. How connected is he with the army?”
Limeskin’s shoulders shook slightly. “He is the highest advisor of the Winged Guard. He holds almost no formal authority, but his words carry great influence.”
“Perfect. Report to the army so that this highest advisor hears: ‘The Second Enchanted Weapons Technician has chosen fairy soldier Kutori Nota Seniolis as a rare experiment subject in order to shed some light on the mystery riddled nature of the Leprechauns’.”
Naigrat blinked in confusion. “Experiment? What do you mean?”
“Enchanted Weapons Technician is a research position, right? Then obviously I have the right to request materials and resources necessary for my research. I know it’s just a title and whatever, but I should still be able to at least make a request. And if it goes through, that’ll at least ensure that Kutori gets treated differently than the other fairies for the time being.”
“That’s if it goes through. Besides, the Great Sage, isn’t he the one from the legend of the birth of Regul Aire? Why are we talking about him now?”
“He’s an old friend. We’ve gotten used to making ridiculous requests at each other.”
Naigrat eyed Willem as if he were a crazy hobo. Apparently, she wasn’t convinced. Well, it’s not like Willem needed her to believe him anyways.
“What will be the content of said experiments?” Limeskin asked.
“An observation of how removal from the battlefield affects the process of recovery from personality destruction. Specialized medicine will also be administered as needed. Say that.”
“… so in other words?”
“Take her away from the battlefield and make her life her normal, everyday life. Might as well request some grocery funds for the warehouse while we’re at it.”
“If your plan is delivered to the ears of the Great Sage, the path will be opened?” Limeskin asked in his odd dialect.
Willem and the Great Sage’s differences were made clear in their conversation back on the 2nd Island. The Great Sage was the guardian of Regul Aire and therefore looked at the big picture in the long run. Because of that, he cut his emotions away and viewed the fairies solely as military power. If he wasn’t able to do that, Regul Aire would have fallen long ago. Willem could respect that, but he himself would never be able to accept such a view, and he didn’t want to be able to either.
From the Great Sage’s perspective, even though Kutori was the user of Seniolis, she’s still just one fairy and deserves no special treatment. In order to continue protecting the world, he needs a system which can maintain the necessary military power in the long run. Willem predicted that, when faced with the request, the Great Sage would judge that they shouldn’t needlessly pour so many resources into just one fairy, who might not even be able to fight ever again.
“When it comes down to it, he’s a serious guy. Even if he doesn’t want to do something, he will always find and execute the best possible solution to the situation facing him. So the best way to get him to choose a certain option is to add extra value for him onto it. If I ask him to let me take care of Kutori, he’ll probably accept. I don’t think he would so easily pass up an opportunity to make me indebted to him.”
“… eh? Were you not joking when you said you were old friends?”
Ignoring Naigrat, Willem continued. “The real problems are that Kutori has been acting a bit strange lately and also the remaining military strength without Kutori. The burden will be too big for Aiseia and Nephren to bear with just the two of them–” He hesitated before finishing. “– We need Tiat to be battle ready soon.”
“Oh, about that.” Naigrat raised her hand and darkened her expression. “We received contact from the Orlandri Trading Company this morning. The land survey expedition has been attacked by a large Beast, and the airship Saxifraga has fallen.”
“Hm…” Limeskin’s expression also grew cloudy… probably. “Did the warriors fight honorably?”
“The attack occurred in the evening, just before they took off. The two of them successfully repelled the attack and, fortunately, were exhausted but not injured. But unfortunately, they’re currently stuck on land day and night. The situation is looking pretty grim,” Naigrat explained.
“I see. So I assume we must send a pair of wings to go meet them?” Limeskin asked.
“Probably. But large ships capable of descending to the land are few and far between. It might take some time to prepare one.”
“Like stabbing a dragon’s scale with a needle, huh? I hope they remain unharmed.”
Willem had absolutely no idea why the two of them suddenly started talking about some survey mission or whatever. As far as he knew, they were just talking about the remaining military power left in the fairy warehouse. How was an expedition sent by the company to survey the land related at all to that? He was thoroughly baffled.
“Wait a second guys. I demand an explanation.”
The Troll and the Reptrace both turned to look at Willem.
“Explanation? Of what?”
“You know, of why you guys suddenly started talking about the land just now. I mean, sure finding a new Kaliyon could be nice, but that doesn’t change the fact that Aiseia and Nephren’s burden will be too large.”
“Why?” Naigrat was thoroughly baffled. She looked up and thought for a bit.
Now, it wasn’t too rare for Naigrat to suddenly start acting strangely, and Willem had grown used to it, but it was neither the time nor place for such antics.
“Aha! I see. That’s right that’s right. It’s only been a month since you’ve arrived here.” Naigrat giggled cheerfully. “I’ve become so used to seeing our desperate and awkward father around that I forgot.”
“Hey, take back the desperate and awkward part.”
“So you accept the father part?”
“Just tell me. Who have you guys been talking about?”
“Hmm, let’s see… how many fully grown fairy soldiers do you think there are in the warehouse?”
“Excluding Kutori, three. If you don’t count the swordless Tiat, then two.”
“Nope, the right answer is five. Aisea, Noft, Nephren, Lantolq, and lastly Tiat.”
Willem looked at the ceiling and thought a bit. “There are two names I don’t recognize. Where have they been hiding?”
“You should be able to tell from our conversation. That way.” Naigrat pointed her finger downwards.
Willem could see nothing on top of the table. There wasn’t anything of note on the floor either. The place Naigrat indicated with her gesture was far, far beyond. He stole one of the bacon sandwiches in front of Naigrat, shoved it in his mouth, chewed for a while, swallowed, then put into words the first thought that spilled out from the depths of his heart.
It was for real.
The Troll and Reptrace both nodded in sync.