Chapter 113: Where we do a lot of stuff I'm banned from talking about (oomph)

Middle Earth Month, 15th-16th Day, 600 AGG

'I think this might replace wine for me,' the raven-haired queen swirled the glass of switchel, more out of habit than anything. The ginger-seasoned mixture of water, apple cider vinegar, and molasses was a surprisingly invigorating beverage after a long day's work. 'I'll have Yuriko keep a stock of it in her Item Box. If the trivial amount of alcohol is cause for complaint, I can just have the cider vinegar replaced with ordinary vinegar.'

Draudillon sipped from the glass, savoring the slight tartness that awakened the senses and the spicy sweetness of ginger that warmed the body. Charming.

'Or maybe not.' Binge drinking something so sugary so late at night would eventually lead to a different sort of health concern. With that in mind, she reluctantly placed the glass atop a drawer nightstand and sank into the pillows propped against the headboard. "Fuuu…"

The past several days had given the dragon queen an abundance of issues to wrack her brain over.

To be specific, it was a reminder that the existing powers beyond were going to respond sooner or later. They had to, because ignoring the sudden appearance of someone who could shake the world wasn't a luxury anyone could afford. Even if direct contact and diplomacy felt too risky for them, foreign nations and groups had to at least begin expanding their intelligence operations around where the Draconic Kingdom was.

'Would it be a good idea to ask the Theocracy for assistance…?' She was sure there was some irony in having one of the groups spying on her kingdom to help her mitigate leaks, but again, that was a given for every country ran with a degree of competence. Any ruling party who didn't develop and maintain their intelligence network had no right being in charge of a nation. 'They ought to have a wealth of knowledge given how they were left intact after the Demon Gods.'

Not for the first time, Draudillon wondered about the calamity's unusualness. It made sense that the Slane Theocracy of all people would've had the strength to defend themselves—assuming the legends of their Nine Goddesses had any truth to them—although, for the victims to be predominantly non-human… and wasn't it odd that the Demon Gods appeared and acted so wildly from the beginning? If they were Players, then what reason did they have to rampage like senseless beasts?

Even the Greed Kings seemingly had motivations apart from a mad penchant for slaughter, otherwise they wouldn't have spared the humanoids left in their wake or established a mighty empire. Indeed, for existences who might've once been humans, choosing to spread destruction for its own sake was strange.

Perhaps it was presumptuous of her to think she understood the minds of those who no longer walked the mortal plane, their memories worn and faded until they were little more than bedtime stories. Perhaps they were charmed, or mere summons in the way Yuriko's were, or any number of other possibilities that she could only speculate on.

'Humans are the minority throughout the world at large. Of course, any sort of widespread damage would affect non-humans the most. Just because it's easy to blame someone doesn't mean I should jump to conclusions.'

Draudillon absentmindedly flipped through a compendium of spells and various other magical phenomena purchased from the Magician's Guild: one of the more expensive tomes in her possession with its silky pages and painstakingly constructed diagrams. Delving into baseless conspiracies was a poor way to pass time. "Anyhow, I can't imagine the Platinum Dragon Lord letting something like that slide."

She was certain that if the Dragon Lord great-grandfather declared as the strongest among those remaining believed the Theocracy to be responsible, he would've taken direct action rather than go around puppeting a suit of armor and throwing a few items to the Thirteen Heroes. Unless the legacy of the Six Great Gods were a match for the pinnacle of True Dragon Lords—but how likely was that when they stepped so carefully around the angel?

Who knew if the Platinum Dragon Lord and Yuriko were comparable though. Ultimately, the truth was buried beneath the rubble of a bygone era, and unearthing the topic could only lead to trouble.

'Figuring out a foreign policy for those further abroad, hm?' Her thoughts drifted back to the pair of self-proclaimed monks who'd left yesterday morning. 'We were lucky that they're straightforward people.'

In Yuriko's words, Cael reminded them of a colleague who was 'always stressed out,' while in her own unspoken words, Min-eun was someone who… stressed others out. Overall though, they seemed upright from what she could tell; neither of them resembled the sort that was skillful in weaving together malicious self-interest and convenient half-truths.

As for their Abbess, the few of their anecdotes that didn't focus on her 'eccentricities,' for lack of a better term, praised her martial skill. The angel described the Fox Spirits of Yggdrasil as a species reliant on spellcasting, illusions and trickery rather than physical prowess, so the difference here was slightly intriguing. It would be strange—and idiotic to try for misdirection if they truly had even an inkling of Yuriko's origins. On the other hand, this could very well be another occurrence of the game failing to fully reflect the real world.

Taking that into consideration, the most likely case was that they were just unusual for their kind; both inefficient 'builds' and vocations she had no knowledge of weren't uncommon, after all. Accepting the monks' stories on a surface level should be fine for the most part then.

'Not that I've ever seen such a creature. Actually, rather than speculate on people from faraway, I should worry more about problems closer to home.'

"I spoke with that village's chief," she began counting off her fingers. "Reviewed the matter of establishing a temple here with Lady Oltenia, introduced her to that gnoll merchant, reviewed and updated the aid we're dispensing throughout the kingdom, the state of eastern trade routes, continued organizing the postal system around the angels as well as other land routes, began the process of appointing a Postmaster General, continued military restructuring with Marquis Aliund, clearing up the mess with the Beastman Country's reconstruction, figuring out how to rework the tax code…"

Despite being in a state of rest, thinking of how packed the day had been evoked a fatigue that reached deep within her bones. Funnily enough, the existence of the angels and how they expedited transportation meant that work was never far from hand.

"…prepared and gave those documents to Yuriko," she listlessly listed the last item on her miraculously completed agenda. 'I wonder how she's doing with that.'

At the moment, the angel was busy persuading—well, perhaps 'persuading' was a bit of a generous description given the gap in positions—various members of nobility and authorities charged with the management of one municipality or the other to push forward with integrating demihumans into the everyday life of the Draconic Kingdom.

Draudillon had long since gotten over the sheer absurdity of the sentiment, but this was another reason she was hesitant to reach out to the Theocracy. 'I don't see us gaining goodwill if we're working on bringing demihumans into the kingdom as citizens. We might need to take Cardinal Santini up on her offer in the near future.'

In the end, Yuriko was the one bearing the true weight of everybody's future. Knowing that, even if the angel pleaded with her for their own share of additional administrative duties, wasn't acquiescing a bit too shameless? The finer details of rulership was Draudillon Oriculus's responsibility, the bare minimum she should be doing as someone who lacked both the strength and ability to cultivate the strength that could repel the beastmen…

"Since she's helping with governance, I should be doing more with defense," a foolish desire, she knew. The Queen's virtue rested in her adept rulership, not in arcane or martial expertise, nor in clever battlefield tactics and peerless craftsmanship. She was to be a roost where talent would gather, a hand that guided worthy retainers for the betterment of her people. 'Still.'

Still, it was easy to fall into daydreams where she could do more. To fight as a champion of the kingdom and to spare the masses the sacrifices war always demanded.

One would think that with the blessing that the joint combination of her Talent and bloodline conferred, such a fantasy shouldn't be out of reach. After all, those who used Wild Magic, the True Dragon Lords, were once the masters of this world in large part thanks to the might of their magic. Even in this era where their kind was borderline extinct, the few survivors Draudillon knew of were like unto gods for all the difference it made.

'Y'know, I've been meaning to ask, but are you really a Dragon Lord?'

"Stupid," Draudillon mumbled to herself. What was she doing, wasting time to feel uselessly ashamed like this? "Wild Magic isn't fundamentally meant for fighting anyway."

Because if it was, the cost wouldn't be so ruinous. She wouldn't feel such a sense of revulsion at the idea of burning away a million souls for a flash of glory. Regardless of what she thought at times, this ability she wielded was surely supposed to be of help to others.

Was that a good enough reason though? 'By holding back, was I crippling the kingdom too?'

If she had unleashed a『World Collapsing Dirge』on the beastmen without any regard for the price leveled upon her people, then would the demihuman raiders have stopped earlier?

'I don't know. I just don't know.'

And even assuming that was the case, was it fine to use her limited levels on Wild Magic when the kingdom would benefit more from her being a 'Queen?' True, she was unsure whether the two synergized, but it was rather indefensible if her primary reason was to become a better combatant. Then again—

'Wild Magic isn't fundamentally meant for fighting anyway,' right?

She ought to try and make use of this birthright in ways that would complement her role as a ruler, and to do that, improving her general proficiency couldn't possibly hurt. In any case, putting levels into being an 'extension of the World' wasn't a terrible outcome either.

"I say all of that," Draudillon mused, fashioning with her soulstuff a glowing, intangible teal-green orb whose dim light failed to reach the edges of the bed. "But it's not as if I have a clear path forward when it comes to this."

At times like these—and such times came often, though not so much now as compared to the past—she really wished great-grandfather had bothered giving her a more comprehensive education in the use of essence.

'That's ungrateful,' she chastised herself. 'He had no obligation to do even what he did, and it's my own fault for failing to take full advantage of the opportunity.' The fact she'd been a child back then was irrelevant. 'Fundamentals and a bitter gimmick. I should have—I will make do.'

And ultimately, notwithstanding the existence of 'commonplace' techniques, Draudillon's intuition told her that Wild Magic, unlike the homogeneity integral to tier magic, was something different for every user.

Everyone possessed and lived in their own 'world,' after all, so she thought it natural despite not totally understanding why. At the very least, it was a possible explanation for why great-grandfather abandoned his instruction midway.

'Because it's easier to believe in a platitude like, 'You should find your own path, otherwise it would be a waste you were born Draudillon Oriculus,' than to think you just weren't capable enough. A waste of time.'

However, just as there were a multitude of 'correct' methods, there also existed numerous 'blasphemous' paths, of that she was certain. The sense of unadulterated wrongness Draudillon had experienced when she'd been on the verge of eternally snuffing out Rajan Zrak's soul wasn't a feeling she would forget in this life.

These were the thoughts that lazily swirled within her head as she absentmindedly moved around the glorified light-source in a way that reminded her of her beloved's『World Item』. Self-directed jabs that once caused pain now felt oddly faraway. 'There's plenty I can do. So either way, nothing was a waste.'

"Still, it'd be nice to be able to have more in my repertoire than spectacular violence or mere party tricks," she briefly recalled a faint, half-remembered memory of great-grandfather scorning her use of… the specifics escaped her. 'I'll practice a bit then. Something new and undemanding that wouldn't give Yuriko any cause to worry.'

Other options like entreating the Platinum Dragon Lord existed, but considering how the dragon always declined whenever her ambassadors to the Council State asked for aid, she wasn't too optimistic. Besides, such an endeavor would take days to organize, assuming the dragon Councillor wasn't off in some distant land, as well as being a distraction from her current responsibilities.

Yes. If improvement was her goal, then self-practice seemed prudent. The most troubling problem had always been the excuses she made—though excuses might be a poor term since she couldn't, with a clear conscience, spare the stamina for uncertain gains.

'To begin with, I'll review what I do understand,' at its core, Wild Magic was simply essence manipulation performed with intentionality greater than what most people could manage. The exact reason why the privilege was the ancestral right of True Dragon Lords eluded her; great-grandfather deemed the dragons of old as keepers of the World, those who managed the lives of 'lesser' beings for the sake of long-term prosperity.

And because she didn't want to lie to herself, Draudillon admitted she could see the truth in his assertion. If they weren't meant to observe the World from such a lofty perch, then why grant them an authority so overbearing? For what other purpose would a single species be able to do as they pleased with the souls of all others not of their kind?

In fact, it was only until six hundred years ago that the greatest enemy to a True Dragon Lord was another True Dragon Lord. No, even then, Players needed a『World Item』to stand on equal—

"Ahhh… this line of thinking isn't going anywhere."

Practice. Though it strangely felt a bit like putting the cart before the horse, she could save the philosophizing for later. For the time being, she wanted to focus on expanding the meager feats of magic readily available to her.

'Adjusting the temperature of objects and areas should be doable,' the dragon queen decided. There was no reason why she settled on this in particular, but she resolved herself to give it her best effort nonetheless while staying within the twofold restriction of 'not using other souls'—Yuriko's convictions on the matter aside, the idea of using even beastmen souls was as odious a notion as ever—and 'avoid overexertion.' 'Now, a suitable mnemonic: ice, snow, the Azerlisian chill.'

The frozen cream she shared with the angel.

Brisk winds whipping into her face and through her hair as they glided amongst the birds.

Cool, panting breaths on hot, dampened skin—

Essence spread and sank into the surrounding empty space, imposing the very soul of her will upon the environment's natural state: adjusting reality to become something more convenient to her.

"Huuu," she let out a deep breath as she canceled the heretofore unnamed spell, now dubbed… 『Enforce Temperature』 because『Temperature Change』was already taken. "Nothing seems out of place. Good."

The drain was much less taxing than she'd been expecting. If it were a few months prior, then Draudillon was certain this casting wouldn't have ended with just mild fatigue. 'That should mean the capacity of my vessel has grown. In other words, the levels I've accumulated.'

"Although, wasn't I trying to lower the temperature?" A thin, wry grin crossed her face. Contrary to Draudillon's desire, the room had actually grown warmer, almost to the point where she might've started sweating in spite of the thin nightdress she wore. "This is what happens when I get distracted, hm…"

Indeed, she was feeling hot in a way that had little to do with the result of her impromptu spell. These distractions weren't a problem while she performed her usual tasks, but allowing them to persist while she used Wild Magic seemed to outright change the intended result—or maybe this was just the problem with casting the way she was.

'I miss her,' the idle thought sounded pathetic, even to Draudillon. A full day had yet to pass since her beloved had woken her up in the morning, and that little was still enough cause for impatience. 'It's quite late though. What in the world is she doing?'

Draudillon was usually confident in her ability to prioritize matters of the state above personal enjoyment, but not being able to follow up on last night's excellent mood had put her in a bit of a, well, mood. By the time they'd returned to Lady Oltenia's manor from Flinei's ongoing harvest festival, it was late, and Yuriko had insisted she go to sleep in preparation for the following day's work. Taking too much time off, even if she kept abreast of the kingdom's higher-priority projects, would have Martin nipping at their heels, after all.

And furthermore, to the dragon queen's dismay, her beloved remained unwavering on their commitment to refuse refreshing her vigor with holy magic unless there was an emergency. For now though, Draudillon contented herself with wallowing in the what-if fantasies where sleep became unnecessary and the kingdom developed at a breakneck pace thanks to the extra hours of toiling… that she conjured such fantasies was likely why they would remain as such.

A knock on the door dragged her attention away from dreams of 'overtime.'

"Come in," Draudillon called out. The door handle twisted with a click, allowing the subject of her affections to rush inside with a bundle of blue roses in their arms. "Yuriko—"

"Drau!" Yuriko beamed at her, and the day became a good one again. "Ooone second, just let me put all this stuff down…" They pushed the bouquet into the waiting arms of an ever silent Gatekeeper, freeing up their hands to fumble around inside the Item Box. Out came a glazed clay vase that was promptly placed atop a nearby dresser, and into that went the bundle of blue flowers. "There we go!"

"I wasn't aware those grew here," Draudillon remarked. There existed a number of flower farms in the kingdom, all of which were either small or a minor part of a greater whole, but none that grew blue roses in the vicinity of the Oltenia Barony. "They look beautiful."

"I'm glad you like them," Yuriko bent over and took off their footwear before unceremoniously flopping down beside her with an adorable 'oomph.' She didn't miss the glance they briefly shot at the nonalcoholic beverage on the nightstand. "Renner was nice enough to give some when I dropped by. Ro-Lente's garden is reeeally nice, by the way—ah! Ours is better though!"

"Mm… I do recall it being rather impressive," she patted Yuriko's back like one would a drum. "In the spirit of honesty, I'm unsure if I can agree that ours is better, dear."

"It's better 'cause it's ours," Yuriko stubbornly asserted. The angel opened her mouth again only to pause as she seemed to notice something. "Why's it so warm in here?"

"Wild Magic practice," Draudillon appreciated how the angel refrained from immediately voicing the concern flashing behind their eyes; considering the results of previous sessions, she lacked the right to say they wouldn't have been justified. "I'd meant for the room to cool, but as you can see…"

She lazily swept her hand across the room, masking a brief flicker of embarrassment. "Not quite according to plan."

"Well, I still think it's neat," Yuriko pushed herself up and twisted around so that she rested against the headboard, causing the bed to shake with the motion. "And if you can make stuff hot, you can make it cold too, right?"

"That's not wrong," Draudillon accepted the encouragement for what it was. "Perhaps I'll give it another attempt later." She glanced out a window; dusk had passed, and the shortening autumn days easily surrendered their light to dimmer, speckled skies. "Tomorrow, I suppose, seeing how late it already is."

"It was already late before I came in, y'know…?"

"Hush, you."

The angel rolled her eyes—though a crooked smile betrayed her amusement—and fell over onto Draudillon's lap. "So how was your day? Not counting the practicing."

"There was introducing that gnoll merchant to Lady Oltenia, but nothing particularly of note for the most part," she replied. Dhartha's 'pet'—she had an inkling that he was the pet and knew it—was there too, though omitting that was probably for the best given 'Chomper's' reaction to Yuriko. "If I had to list at least one notable thing… probably overseeing the process of selecting a Postmaster General and establishing a centralized Postal Service. Now that the Crown and your Cult are taking responsibility for the vastly increased volume in shipping, such an institution has become necessary."

Before, the people of the kingdom would rely on merchants to convey goods and messages to their destinations. Nobles had the luxury of dispatching couriers, and guilds had their own systems, but neither could quite match the speed with which the nearly tireless fliers covered distance.

"Oooo," Yuriko winced. "Isn't that gonna be really hard? We've been tagging the angels, but I don't see organizing all of them being super easy."

"Hardly as bad as you're thinking. After all, the benefits your angels bring are new to the kingdom, and so this land doesn't have a critical reliance on them either."

'Yet,' Draudillon kept that to herself, though she wouldn't be surprised if Yuriko reached that conclusion on her own. This was a development they'd need to closely observe lest the Draconic Kingdom become wholly dependent on a single linchpin. The world may be lacking in suitable challengers for the angel, but they still existed. "Aside from that, I've been holding meetings and reviewing documents; like I said, nothing too from the usual. How about you? Did you manage to sort out everything you mentioned last night?"

"Yeah, it went okay," Yuriko took her hand and placed it on their head while giving her an expectant look. The dragon queen huffed, surrendering to the unspoken demand as she provided her beloved with head scritches. "Mmm…"

"Could you expand on what you mean by 'okay?' " Draudillon verbally prodded before the angel's train of thought was completely derailed. She didn't stop scratching though.

"I met up with some friends—um, well, I guess I already said that, but that was after I finished assigning some beastmen to the places on the list you gave me!" Yuriko paused, waiting for praise that the dragon queen eventually gave with some amount of fond exasperation. "Had to coordinate with Varush since they're his citizens, and I was already there for some other stuff. Talking to the bigshots here was tough too."

"How so?"

"They do a lot of like, hm," her beloved fidgeted while struggling to voice whatever it was that troubled them. "Bootlicking? It sounds bad to say, but it was a ton of that or being really quiet. Made figuring out what would help them kinda hard."

Hearing that Yuriko had been met with this sort of reaction—Lady Oltenia was an oddity in comparison—failed to surprise her, which only increased the guilt she felt. Come to think of it, apart from acolytes and clergy members, wasn't this also the first time that the angel was directly dictating demands to the kingdom's authorities rather than simply completing 'chores.' "… They would act like that around you, wouldn't they? I apologize. Your task wouldn't have been so onerous if I'd thought to assign assistants for you to delegate to."

"No, that's something I should've thought of on my own," Yuriko shook her head, the motion causing the nightgown underneath to bunch up. "I'll remember for next time. And besides, I want to be someone who's there with the people, right? Not just watching from on high while I get minions to do all the talking for me."

"You make a fair point," Draudillon gave a slight nod. "Then, is there anything you need help with? A private audience with the queen is a rare opportunity, after all—"

"Drau's silly," the angel rolled over, facedown in her lap, and sucked in a deep breath of air that they slowly released. "Ahhh~ I'm being filled up with Draudillium again~"

'Just what in the world is 'Draudillium…' ' She released an affectionate sigh. "Yes, yes. Your 'Draudillium' isn't going anywhere."

"I know, because you're always sitting at a desk!"

"Don't insult someone when you want something from them," Draudillon scolded and lightly smacked the back of Yuriko's head.

"But we're friends though?" Yuriko peeked upwards. "And I really think you need to move around more. It's super nice outside, so staying indoors all day is a waste."

Of course, she was aware that such a sedentary lifestyle caused many a Lord and Lady to go to seed as time saw their youth diminish, but even at the overripe age of four-and-forty and her lifestyle's lack of physical exertion, Draudillon possessed a figure provocative by the standards of most men—conceited though it may sound. Another benefit of her unique lineage, perhaps.

"I would go on walks more often if I could."

"That's 'cause I make you," Yuriko grumbled. "If I never bring it up, you'd just work until you pass out."

"A shameless falsehood. I would have you know that I've been reminding myself to take breaks," Draudillon brought a hand to her breast with an expression of faux-outrage. "Like now, for instance."


"What about your visit to Ro-Lente?" She guided the conversation elsewhere. "I was under the impression that Princess Renner is currently enjoying El-Nix's hospitality."

"I think he wanted her to do some diplomacy thingy there," the angel furrowed her brows in contemplation. "Or she asked him, and—I don't really know, but it might have to do with that, ummm… warrior guy? Renner was kinda vague about it, and I didn't wanna be nosy."

"Being nosy would've helped. Counting her among your friends is one thing; acknowledging that the two of you have different priorities is another," and before the angel could apologize or say something along those lines, Draudillon pushed onwards. "Did she mention the Warrior-Captain herself, or is that your own conclusion?"

"She mentioned him. Said she was gonna talk to her dad and straighten out the details so weird rumors don't spread. Was getting involved a bad idea, Drau?"

'It complicates the situation,' the dragon queen had the Golden Princess pegged as a hapless, if admirable and ever so slightly off-putting, spare caught in the midst of turbulent waters, but why would she be dragged into the mystery circling about the Warrior-Captain's circumstances unless she personally wished to be involved? "Matters surrounding people of import always require a deft hand. But bad? That kind of judgment is hard to pass. She said nothing else pertaining to this?"

"That was pretty much it," Yuriko guiltily chewed on her bottom lip. "You're right, Drau. I should've been pushier. I'm sorry."

"It wasn't my intention to make you feel guilty," Draudillon apologetically inclined her head and resumed scratching the angel's scalp. "Thinking of friends as vaults of information to filch from isn't a pleasant mindset, and I'm sure she just wanted to vent her frustrations a little. To be honest, I believe she'll tell you soon enough anyway."

"Eh? Why's that?"

"Your goodwill is incredibly valuable," she bluntly answered. "If there's a problem to solve, you'll almost certainly be asked to help. Now, that's not to say Princess Renner values you solely for the services you could provide—I doubt she's that cold—but such considerations are a constant for everyone."

A self-deprecating note crept into her tone. "Even myself, of course."

"Doesn't mean it's the biggest thing you care about. Or her," Yuriko readily refuted. "There's a lot of times where you did stuff because you cared about me, not just what I could do for you."

"I suppose you're right," Draudillon snorted, heart warming at the sentiment. "I can't imagine any advantage worth the stress you put me through."


"That my hair has yet to go gray is a miracle in itself," she airily ignored her beloved's indignant cry and ran a hand through black tresses. "Though I also have you to thank for that, so let's call it a fair exchange."

"I'm pretty sure you were always stressed out, Drau…"

A peal of mirthful laughter escaped from her throat. "True. Did you two talk about anything else?"

"Mostly catching up, y'know? Tasty food we ate, how my lessons were going, books she's been reading, whining about work—don't worry! I didn't blab about anything secret. Honestly, nothing super special beside the Warrior-Captain thingy."

"I'm glad you had fun," Draudillon sincerely said. "You haven't had a chance to properly meet with friends recently, right?"

"Sorta, yeah," the angel solemnly nodded, or as solemn as she could while laying on her lap. "I've been replying to a whole bunch of mail though!

"Renner—I guess I answered that one in person, heh—Calca, Mira, Lydia…" Yuriko began counting her fingers in a way that elicited a sound of commiseration from the ravenette. "Now that you mention it, I guess I haven't, huh? It gets all mixed up with work mail too…"

"Maybe we should appoint you as the Postmaster General then," Draudillon joked.

"Ehhh, I'm not delivering anything. My flying speed is alright, but those places are reeeally far apart and constantly teleporting is expensive, so I use summons for that: same as everyone else. Sorta."

"The Postmaster General wouldn't be expected to deliver packages in person."

"I don't wanna do it!"

"And so the search continues," the dragon queen paused for a second, remembering one of Yuriko's self-appointed tasks that was becoming almost forgettable in its routineness. "By the way, did you already cast your two Super-Tier spells for the day?"

Her ability to sense the transcendental magic was limited in range, like placing one's ears against the ground to catch the tremors of an approaching carriage, but it was enough to barely cover the entire barony. She idly wondered if her draconic brethren could as well—no, they absolutely could, so perhaps the lack of a response was due to range? Given the incredible effects that history should've taught her draconic brethren, a confrontation wouldn't have been unrealistic; although, it wasn't impossible that they simply weren't keen on picking a fight with their numbers reduced as they were.

'You'd think they would be worried with how she's casting it multiple times a day,' Draudillon contemplated asking them to put a halt to the daily casts, but… 'It's been almost half a year. Even disregarding everything else, it's far too late to hide anything.'

"Yup. Used them up during my pit-stop at the Beastman Country for more resurrection stuff," Yuriko made an open circle with her index finger and thumb. "It's slowed down a lot; looks like the Mac'tal decided to back off after I talked with that Mirewood Dragon Lord lady. Actually, I'm thinking maybe we should have the beastmen kinda make separate provinces so they don't run into the Mac'tal as much in the future—just in case."

"That's a question for Varush," Draudillon said. "It'll be a while before I can consider myself familiar with the details of the Beastman Country's geography."

"Makes sense. Y'know, I'm getting used to this whole," Yuriko vaguely gestured to the room. "To this whole thing. Super fast too. Like, I seriously thought it'd take me longer than… four months? Five? I thought it'd take longer to get a grip on the language. Well, the writing at least."

"Are you sure you're not underestimating yourself?"

"I mean, maybe? Maybe having an angel-brain made me smarter or something, but to be honest, I'm not really noticing a difference. Agh, having this for school would've been great…"

Draudillon found herself agreeing and provided a theory of her own: "If that's true, then the improvement might be one of my skills acting upon you. A ruler encouraging the growth of their subjects is only natural, no?"

She'd have to compare with previous reports after allowing some more time to elapse. Still, there was no guarantee a distinct change could be observed, especially when the kingdom had presumably always been benefiting from her class effects. Adding on to that, she also lacked the convenience of knowing the specifics of her current abilities.

"I dunno. Wouldn't it be kinda crazy if everyone got buffs like that?"

"The strength could vary based upon a number of factors. Rank relative to the ruler, loyalty, occupation, their degree of familiarity with respect to me…" How did this work for her peers? Her situation was vastly different from theirs, so that ought to be reflected in some way. "Perhaps people knew better in the past."

'Before the Demon Gods wiped most of the slate clean,' she silently added to herself.

"Stuff that makes you a better minion," Yuriko mused aloud. Choice of words aside, the hypothesis didn't sound off the mark. "So that makes me your minion!"

"Subjects," she corrected. "I'd rather not see you as one."

Thinking of them in that way was highly discomfiting especially when viewed through the context of obedience-enforcing skills Draudillon suspected she had. That the same feeling didn't extend as far to the residents of the kingdom was hypocritical, she knew, but people were inclined to acknowledge consequences more readily when said consequences affected those near them.

The rationalization was of little comfort to her. She didn't want it to be.

"We shouldn't jump to conclusions anyway," she continued after a beat. "You've been making good progress, but you also get more hours in a day, and again, don't underestimate your own ability to adapt and learn. Spending almost every day putting your studies to practice shouldn't be discounted either."

"Hmmm… I wouldn't mind, y'know?" Despite how often they acted the part of an airhead, Yuriko could display some inconveniently sharp insight when it came to reading her. "It's not like full-on mind control, right? Like, for example, I wouldn't—don't take this the wrong way; I love you a lot—but I wouldn't jump off a cliff for no reason just 'cause you told me to."

"You would survive falling off a cliff."

"That doesn't make it any less scary, Drau!"

"Pfft," Draudillon scoffed while cracking a half-smile. "Do try to show a bit more self-concern."

"It's fine," Yuriko firmly replied, only to stutter a second later. "W-Well, I guess it's not fine fine, and I get where you're coming from. I do! I'm not trying to say it doesn't matter or anything—"

"Dear, please get to the point."

"Right! Um, I thiiink that if your skills did work like that and worked on me, I'd be okay with it as long as it's you."

' 'I'm okay with being borderline mind-controlled by you' isn't the romantic declaration you think it is,' the dragon queen clicked her tongue, unwilling to admit the pleased warmth she felt from that somewhat stupid statement. "The fact you can say that so seriously is troubling. Our closeness doesn't justify a cavalier attitude regar—"

"If I can't trust you, then what?"

This time, it was Yuriko who interjected. "You're always looking out for me when you don't have to. Everyone else, most of them… they don't always look at me like I'm a person. I won't blame them for that, but it doesn't change how to them, I'm only the 'Goddess' and not Yuriko.

"They might understand one day," Yuriko sat up from her lap. "Right now though? It's you. It's just you who knows where I came from and who I used to be. And honestly, I don't think that'll change even if other people did know."

"Someone can have the best of intentions for you and still hurt you," and who better to say that than her?

Desperation led to madness out of necessity. Kill nigh upon a million people to slay thousands more, and swallow the aftermath, bitter draught that it'd certainly be. If… if she could place that burden on someone else capable of withstanding the weight—and ignore the impossibility that they'd be recognizable at the end—then wasn't refusing a dereliction of duty to her kingdom?

'Still. Even still,' Draudillon sighed. Again and again, her savoir-faire escaped her when faced with the angel. "I'm sorry. That wasn't called for."

Contrary to her expectations, Yuriko laughed. "Don't say sorry! You didn't do anything wrong. I was just thinking that I'm really glad we can talk about this sorta stuff."

"Oh, that's just perfect. I'm confident we'll see no end to these conversations."

"We did something like this yesterday too, huh?" Her beloved scooted closer; shoulders that once brushed were now pressing together. "Drau, it's okay. Like you said, we shouldn't jump to conclusions."

"I did say that, but it feels the same as willfully shutting my eyes," she admitted. "My ignorance shouldn't be an excuse."

"Aren't you thinking super hard about it right now? I'm not worrying since I know you're caring this much," Yuriko got on all fours: knees against the mattress, hands and arms enclosing the dragon queen, and their face right in front of hers. "I promise it's fine. Because, from the start, I've always wanted to help you."

She couldn't help but to snort. "Love at first sight? In that case, you should've left a better first impression than trespassing into the castle."

"I didn't know the laws," Yuriko murmured. Draudillon dimly noted how the slightest motion from either of them would probably lead to a late morning.

"That's a terrible justification. As a human, I imagine your homeland also has laws against breaking and entering."

"Bleh~ Didn't break anything."

"Splitting hairs is unseemly, dear. If we're doing this though, you did break the law."

"I missed you," the angel pouted. "Can't you forgive me?"

'Clingy today, aren't we?' She happily ignored the hypocrisy of the thought. It was the sensation of her fatigue slipping away to be replaced by a slowly mounting tension.

"Hm… I wonder…"

"I reeeally missed you."

"We've been sitting together for a while," she rubbed their head, smiling as they buried their face into her chest. "How can you miss me?"

"Sometimes I can't believe you're actually here," Yuriko said in a muffled voice. "I lofh 'u."

"Who taught you to be this spoiled?" Draudillon huffed and wrapped her arms around the angel's back. A question that needed no answer.

"You did!" Yuriko's head shot up from her bosom. "S-So take responsibility…"

"Well then," the dragon queen gently raised the angel's chin with a lightly placed finger. Goodness, with the frequency this high, even liberal use of『Silence』was likely unable to conceal what repeated circumstances revealed. "I suppose I ought to do just that and discipline you."

Yuriko let out a small squeak, eyes drifting, mesmerized by the sight of the dragon queen clad in a diaphanous slip of gossamer silk—and nothing else. Draudillon wondered if she should be surprised that it'd taken this long for her beloved's gaze to wander.


"Could you repeat that? I didn't quite catch what you said," a lie, a playful falsehood to incite the spirit and—

"… a Goddess."


"Y-You have a penchant for stating the most embarrassing things."

In the past, she would've asked something along the lines of: 'Do you really think of me that way even after seeing my unsightly sides?'

And while she still found herself painfully unworthy despite all the angel's many assurances to the contrary, perhaps the fact such a question didn't pass her lips was proof that she too could change.

"But thank you for thinking of me so highly," Draudillon cupped the angel's face. "I'll make sure to live up to, hmm… your expectations?"

She removed the hand from Yuriko's cheek and with it, guided theirs to her chest. "This 'Goddess' will be in your care then. As always."

With that, her world became one of only overwhelming softness.

Blood roared in her ears, her heart pounded and hips tensed as Yuriko brought a knee up between her thighs. Anticipation mounted within, escalating with every taut moment of sweet awareness while the rest of the world fell away, nothing more than the backdrop to her beloved's presence.

Light-headed intoxication, sublime clarity—drowning and reveling all at once.

"Dear?" The question came out huskily: a tender rasp trailing behind the strand of saliva connecting them. "Did you remember to cast『Silence』?"

"A-Ah, gimme a sec!" Centering the spell upon the bed would've been the fastest option, but a total lack of sound made intimacy quite awkward. Thus, it was necessary to carefully space the effect's area around multiple points along the edges of the bedroom: a tricky task Yuriko thankfully had ample experience with. "『Widen Magic - Silence』,『Widen Magic - Silence』…『Widen Magic - Silence』aaaand『Silence』.『Silence』. That should be good! Rooms next door are em—mmf."

She should care, and she should be more careful to avoid troubling the Baroness, but at this instance, right now, it was hard to care as much about all those 'shoulds.' They had magical soundproofing in place; that would have to be sufficient.

Unfortunately, at least one of them needed to breathe, so with no small amount of reluctance, Draudillon pulled away and languidly drank in the sight of the flustered, smitten angel.

"Drau," her eyes flicked to the angel's tongue and hungrily watched it lick their lips. Lips that belonged to her. "I was talking!"

"Mhm," she lazily traced a swirl on Yuriko's inner thigh, not bothering to straighten out her rumpled negligee. "So you were. Aren't you going to continue?"


"I see," Draudillon's mouth—unoccupied now—took on a mischievous curve as her other hand ran slender fingers through the angel's radiant hair. "I'll oblige you then, Yuriko Hanami."

If her beloved had still been who they were before arriving in this world—before breaking into her life like the heedless dawn, then the dragon queen was certain they would've fallen asleep first.

As things stood, well, it wasn't important.

She'd already won in all the ways that mattered.