Unlimited Fafnir:Volume 10 Epilogue
"Mononobe-kun, how did we end up like this?"
Inside a cramped and stuffy bathroom, I heard Ariella's voice.
"It's... Ren who forced us into here."
While trying my best not to look at Ariella's body, I replied.
The two of us were each wrapped in a bath towel, alone here. Feeling self-conscious was unavoidable.
"Since everyone had a turn in the hot spring to talk to you, so I can't be the only exception, what a contrived reason, but..."
"Ren won't be happy unless it's the same."
I smiled wryly while responding to Ariella's grumbling.
"...I wouldn't find it unfair."
Ariella smiled and pulled on the edge of her tiny bath towel.
I could not help but feel my gaze drawn to those long and beautiful legs. I shook my head to dispel the dilemma.
Outside the bathroom, the rest of us were staying in Charlotte's private room.
Midgard was still in chaos despite surviving a major crisis. We were ordered to stay on standby here for now.
However, not everyone was present.
Handling various business in Charlotte's case and taking care of the aftermath for the defense system and unmanned weapons in Tia's case, the two of them had gone outside.
After returning from doing her own thing, Kili reported about her revival of Major Loki then left with Shinomiya-sensei to another room.
Perhaps while I was desperately suppressing Code Lost, it was thanks to Kili healing Major Loki that things had not reached a dire state.
Presemably, he would continue to treat Charlotte and the Ds as enemies, causing trouble for me. However... I could not hate him for shouldering everything on humanity's behalf.
Also, putting that aside, I was honestly quite happy to know that I had not broken my promise with Iris to not kill anyone.
I must thank Kili properly later... But what might she demand then? recalling her nocturnal visit, I felt a bit disturbed.
Slightly earlier, Ren had said "Onee-chan still hasn't shared a bath with Onii-chan, it's not fair!" Had Kili been present, it would have turned into quite a mess.
If I were to hazard a guess, Ren was probably standing sternly in front of the changing area right now like a gate guardian.
Mitsuki was among those who had shared a dip in the hotspring with me, so she could not muster a stern rebuttal, but that group did not include Tia or Kili.
"Oh well... Anyway, let's have a dip first since we've sweated so much."
When I made the suggestion, Ariella nodded.
"Yeah. It was such a long day, I'm all covered in sweat—"
While speaking, Ariella suddenly made a nervous look and took a step back away from me.
"I-I must reek of sweat!? I've got to hurry and shower first!"
Going red, Ariella swiftly turned the shower faucet.
"N-Not at all—"
I wanted to reassure her she did not, but my voice was drowned out by the noise from the fierce surge of water.
Ariella kept sweating being conscious of my presence. She fled into the bathtub.
"M-Mononobe-kun, come in too. Umm, if you don't submerge yourself, I won't know where to look."
Ariella averted her gaze in embarrassment and urged me.
"O-Oh okay, got it."
Although the critical part was covered, I suppose my exposed upper torso would still be quite embarrassing for Ariella. And her reaction was also making embarrassment surge from my heart too.
I rapidly rinsed myself under the shower then dipped myself into the tub.
Surrounded by the warm bathwater, my nervousness naturally dissipated and I could not help but sigh out of comfort.
"Mononobe-kun, you've worked hard today."
Seeing me like that, Ariella praised me with a smile.
"Same to you, Ariella, you've worked hard too."
"Well... Half of it was reaping what I sowed."
Scratching her cheek, Ariella replied in a tone of self-deprecation.
"Even if that's true, in the other half, you did everything you could to protect everyone. Good work. You don't have to feel apologetic towards anyone."
Even towards yourself as well—To convey this message, I spoke in a serious tone of voice.
"Mononobe-kun... You're so kind."
She smiled shyly but after making eye contact with me, she went red and lowered her head.
"But... I hope you can stop saying such cool things. I'm too ashamed to look you in the face."
I could not help but apologize to her. With her head bowed, Ariella's shoulders shook.
"Fufu, no need to say sorry. I'm the one at fault."
Saying that, she placed her hand over her chest. Then as though committing to some kind of decision, she suddenly raised her head.
"—Mononobe-kun, I've got a favor to ask you."
"What is it?"
Slightly stunned by her gaze, I asked in response.
"In truth... When you touched me and triggered the transformation, the feeling was quite vague. Although I remember us talking through our minds... But it's different from bodily contact... That's why, since Ren gave us this chance... I'd like a do over."
Saying that, her face turned even redder. Finally, just as her ears turned burning red, she spoke the final part of her request.
"Mononobe-kun—C-Could you touch me once, at my dragon mark? If you do that, I think I'll get a real sense of becoming the same as you."
With virtually no hesitation, I nodded at Ariella who was staring at me seriously. Since she had put in so much effort to make her request, there was no way I could deny her.
However, there was a problem. Speaking of which, where was Ariella's dragon mark—
"Thank you... Mononobe-kun. Since it's underwater, it should be less embarrassing... Please proceed."
Despite her words, her face was already completely red. Ariella slowly approached me.
When she grabbed my arm in the water, my heart began to pound.
"Umm... Where do I touch—"
When I asked slightly anxiously, Ariella whispered at a barely audible volume.
"...Lower abdomen. Under the belly button... I-It'll be bad if you touch anywhere weird, so I'll guide you."
Saying that, Ariella pulled my arm hesitantly.
She guided my hand towards her lower abdomen. As a result, my face was steaming up while my entire body stiffened. My fingertips touched her supple and tender body submerged in the bathwater.
"Ah... Not, there... Higher—Don't move your fingers like that."
A struggling voice came out of Ariella's lips.
With her face bright red, she corrected my hand's position.
Still in contact with her skin, my fingertips moved upwards and stopped several centimeters higher.
"This place is... my dragon mark."
Despite looking very shy, Ariella declared with a contented expression.
"Really? So that's the spot I'm touching right now."
"Yeah... You're touching it."
Staring at me, Ariella smiled while blushing. Just as we were gazing into each other's eyes in sweet silence...
"—That's as far as you'll go."
I heard a voice overhead.
I looked up in surprise.
Since we were on the clock tower's top floor, there was no need to care about what was outside the window. However, Kili was currently hovering there, glaring at us with displeasure.
"Fufu, did I scare you? Last time, you interrupted me just as the mood was right. This is payback."
Kili laughed with delight and looked down at the stunned Ariella.
"What... When did you start—"
"Starting when you were asking Yuu to touch your dragon mark. Fufu—How does it feel to be interrupted at the most wonderful moment?"
Red in the face, Ariella stared at Kili, but at the same time, a commotion was heard in the direction of the changing area.
"Tia wants to bathe with Yuu too!"
"mE tOo! mE tOo!"
"S-Since Zwei is going, as her guardian, I must... with the Captain—"
"My friend! Young maidens! Bathe with me!!"
Tia, Shion, Jeanne and Charlotte's voices could be heard.
Jeanne had been unconscious while Shion was sleeping, but they must have woken up due to Tia and Charlotte's return.
"Mm~~! No way!"
Ren desperately resisted them but was evidently outnumbered.
At this time, Kili smiled fearlessly outside the window.
"In that case, I shall join in the bath too."
She left the window after saying that. Since the bathroom window could not be opened very far, she was probably planning to enter from the room's balcony.
"Looks like we'd better get out before the others barge in."
Smiling wryly, I suggested to Ariella, but for some reason, she lowered her eyes hesitantly. Gripping my arm, her hand applied even more force.
"I don't mind sharing a bath with everyone. So—let's stay a while longer."
Unable to refuse her blushing request—I gathered my resolve to weather the onslaught of the incoming storm.
Although Mononobe Mitsuki was quite curious about the bathroom commotion, she went to the balcony to cool her body that felt like it was on fire.
—My body has been very hot ever since Nii-san touched me.
In the beginning, Mitsuki thought she had stayed in the hotspring for too long, but the symptoms worsened over time.
"Did I catch a cold...?"
If that were the case, exposing herself to the wind outdoors would be counterproductive, but even so, Mitsuki still felt like staying in a cooler place right now.
In trepidation, Mitsuki touched the back of her neck with her hand. The skin felt very hot against her fingertips. The heat source causing her body's anomaly was precisely the dragon mark on the back of her neck.
If that was really the case, then this was no cold. What she should be considering were the effects brought by transforming into the same kind.
"But... why just me—"
None of the others looked like they had experienced a similar change.
Hence, this almost seemed like her transformation was the only failure... Was it because she was not worthy of becoming her brother's mate? Mitsuki began to feel very worried.
The heat became too much to endure for her fingertips touching the dragon mark, so Mitsuki moved her hand away. However, she was shocked when she looked at that hand.
"What is, this—"
The hand's outline was shimmering. Shimmering like a mirage. Next, her fingertips turned black one after another—
Mitsuki screamed and shook her hand. Next, the unstable outline and blackness disappeared. Mitsuki's hand went back to normal.
...Was this an illusion?
Although this was not the only possibility, Mitsuki then heard a dissenting voice next to her ear.
"I see—So this is the situation. Now 'tis finally clear to me."
Vritra had opened the window without her noticing and was now staring intently at Mitsuki.
"Previously, when I attempted to harm thee, that person expressed unusual rage. That was probably an instinctive act as Neun. As the ninth counterdragon, that person already knew what he should be doing."
"What are you talking about...? Are you speaking of Nii-san?"
Mitsuki asked in confusion. Next, Vritra looked at Mitsuki sharply.
With intense hostility, she then said:
"Indeed—That person is protecting thee in order to obey a counterdragon's instinct. 'Tis because the ninth calamity, which shall bring destruction to the world, is within you."
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