Unlimited Fafnir:Volume 8 Epilogue
A low and heavy sound... The noise of propeller blades. feeling minor vibrations from under my body, I opened my eyes to see a ceiling of metal. I seemed to be lying on a spacious seat.
Next to my pillow was a black-haired woman in a suit. She was Shinomiya Haruka, Midgard's commander as well as the homeroom teacher of Brynhildr Class.
She smiled gently when she saw me wake up.
"—So you have woken, Mononobe Yuu?"
I looked up blankly at Shinomiya-sensei's face, unable to comprehend the situation, because she was no longer supposed to be in this world.
"Is this a dream... No, is this heaven?"
Half-seriously, I thought I had died just like that, so I asked her this question.
"Haha, indeed, we are currently in the sky—But that's a bit different from heaven."
Finding it funny, she laughed then motioned to the window with her gaze. What I saw on the other side was endless blue.
I sat up and peered out the window, only to see a carpet of velvety clouds below. We seemed to be flying at quite a high altitude right now.
"This is the interior of a large helicopter. We are on our way back to Midgard."
On our way back to Midgard? Hearing such down-to-earth words, I was slightly taken aback.
"What's the matter? Do your injuries hurt? Although necessary treatment has been applied, if the pain is severe, you could take some painkillers—"
Saying that, Shinomiya-sensei took out the medical kit from under her seat. I shook my head frantically.
"N-No, my wounds—although they hurt a bit, it's not impossible to bear. Rather... Shinomiya-sensei, are you really Shinomiya-sensei?"
"...? What are you talking about? Just as you can see, I am myself. Did you hit your head somewhere?"
Shinomiya-sensei examined my face in worry and reached out to feel my forehead. That warm and soft palm made my heart race—The warmth of life from her hand made me gasp.
"Why... Shinomiya-sensei, back then, you definitely—"
Skewered in the torso by Kraken Zwei, Shinomiya-sensei had definitely stopped breathing. It was a fatal wound, impossible to cure.
"Ahhh. I see now—No wonder you look like you've seen a ghost. Don't worry, I am assuredly alive."
Shinomiya-sensei figured out my question and smiled gently at me.
I looked at her abdomen, which did not seem to be bandaged. So this was a dream after all?
"Well, to be honest—I originally didn't think I'd survive a large hole in my body either. However, the principal's blood turned out to be more potent than I imagined."
"The principal's... blood?"
I frowned, unsure what was going on.
"She—Charlotte B. Lord—is no ordinary human. You know this already, right?"
Immediately, Shinomiya-sensei looked at me with a solemn expression.
"Y-Yes, she is the gray dragon—'Gray' Vampire..."
Given Shinomiya-sensei's position, it would be only natural for her to know, but I still answered nervously.
"Indeed. Through her bodily fluids as a medium, she can invoke many powers, such as healing wounds or exerting control... She should have looked after you previously too."
Indeed, I had received the principal's aid to heal the injuries caused by Yggdrasil's clone and to prevent me from coming under Yggdrasil's control.
"And in my case, I am a special follower whose body has taken in her blood directly. Upon becoming Midgard's commander, she and I entered a blood pact."
"Taken in her blood... In other words, that's—"
I finally understood why Shinomiya-sensei had survived.
"Yes. Although not to the point of the principal's eternal youth and longevity, my ability to heal greatly surpasses normal people. I survived this time thanks to that."
Hearing her say that, I was finally able to accept the current situation as reality.
It was neither my wishful dream nor heaven. Instead, we were definitely alive, talking to each other.
Wanting to confirm that Shinomiya-sensei definitely existed, I clasped her hand tightly with both hands.
Soft and warm, it was a beautiful woman's palm, slightly smaller than mine.
"H-Hey, Mononobe Yuu, a man should not hold a woman's hand so lightly—"
Blushing, Shinomiya-sensei was flustered in a rare display. Her voice heightened a bit in pitch.
She was definitely alive, showing an expression I had never known, and definitely not an inhabitant of my dreams.
"Thank goodness... I'm so glad..."
Holding her hand tightly, I lowered my head with tears spilling out, sobbing uncontrollably.
"You really are—too kind."
Shinomiya-sensei smiled wryly as she spoke, using her other hand to gently stroke my hair.
"However, you do not need to worry about me. Show those girls, who've been worrying about you the whole time, how healthy you are."
Saying that, Shinomiya-sensei gently struggled free of my grasp and stood up.
She approached the room's partition and slid a metal window sideways. Behind it was a glass window but I could see what lay behind it.
The girls were sitting in opposite facing seats. The members of Brynhildr Class, Kili, Vritra, Jeanne, and a young girl who resembled Shinomiya-sensei—
"Everyone, Mononobe Yuu has awoke."
Shinomiya-sensei called to the other side of the window, immediately causing a clamor to spread.
"Really!? Mononobe woke up!?"
Iris and the girls all rushed to the side of the window. I was relieved to see Lisa and the others, who had lost contact during the battle, were there. Meanwhile, I also noticed something strange about my situation.
Taking a closer look, I saw that there many small round holes in the window to allow conversation.
A narrow room, a sturdy looking steel door, a window to allow talking without going out—This was virtually a jail cell.
However, my doubts instantly dispersed upon hearing my younger sister's voice.
"Mitsuki, you woke up!?"
I approached the window too to confirm the sight of Mitsuki, safe and sound. Having slept continuously for several days, her face looked healthy in color.
"Yes... Not too long ago. Nii-san, you are always so reckless... I was honestly so worried. Also—"
After wiping tears from the corners of her eyes, Mitsuki pressed her hand against the back of neck, which was the location of her dragon mark. Upon closer examination, I noticed that the others were also holding parts of their body with mixed expressions.
Blushing faintly, Firill had her hand on her left shoulder. Ariella was holding her lower abdomen with slight displeasure. Ren had her hand on her chest area solemnly. Tia was holding her thigh with a smile all over her face. Lisa had her hand on bottom, her face gone bright red.
Everyone was covering the respective location of their dragon mark.
"What's wrong? Did something unusual happen to the dragon marks?"
I asked, only to see Iris standing up, pouting.
"How can you ask what's wrong when this is all your fault, Mononobe? I thought you were just two-timing between me and Zwei-chan, but it turns out you didn't stop there and went for everyone—Mononobe, you're so unfaithful..."
She glared at me coldly, but I did not know what had happened.
"Captain... This is something that not even I can't defend you."
Holding the young girl's hand, Jeanne approached, sighing as she spoke.
"Even you too, Jeanne—By the way, that child is Kraken Zwei... Right? Is this okay—for her to be with everyone?"
"Yes, she listens to me obediently now. Come, Zwei, say hello."
Urged by Jeanne, the purple-haired girl took a step forward and bowed as a greeting.
Although a bit stiffly, Kraken Zwei greeted me in Japanese. Watching her do that, Jeanne looked proud as though something good had happened. Shinomiya-sensei was also by my side, smiled gently at Kraken Zwei.
Lots of things had probably happened while I was asleep, but it looked like there was nothing to worry about.
"Look, she has learned how to greet others. This child will be going to Midgard as a D, rather than as a dragon. With nowhere for me to go, I will come along as well. That's basically it."
Jeanne scratched her head, then as though she suddenly remembered, pointed at Kili and Vritra behind her.
"Oh, those two are coming along too."
"Putting aside the restrained Vritra... I'm surprised Kili is willing to come with us."
I looked at her in surprise. Last time when she had sought Midgard's aid, Kili had vanished in the end. But this time, why—
Seeing my expression, Kili smiled with joy and approached the window. Quietly, she whispered:
"It's only natural that I follow you, Yuu. Because right now—I am your mate."
I was perplexed, only to see Kili raise her right hand, presenting it before me. The dragon mark appearing on the back of her hand—had turned blue.
I gasped in surprise.
"Not just Kili! Tia too!"
Tia lifted her skirt slightly to show me the dragon mark on her thigh. Likewise, its color was—bright blue.
"Don't tell me—it's the same for everyone?"
I frantically looked at the others in turn.
"Yes, me too."
With her hand on her shoulder, Firill nodded.
"Yeah, same here."
Ariella and Ren nodded in confirmation with their hands on their respective dragon marks.
"—The same goes for me. Umm, although I cannot show you here... My dragon mark has turned blue too."
With her hand on her bottom, Lisa glared at me, blushing to her ears. Then Mitsuki lifted her hair and showed me her neck.
"My dragon mark too... has been dyed with your color, Nii-san."
Unable to understand the situation immediately, I stood stunned on the spot.
Then Shinomiya-sensei patted me on the shoulder.
"—I have already heard Iris Freyja's account of how Kraken Zwei turned back to human. She said that by marking her—turning her into your mate—you had turned her into a human like yourself."
"Y-Yes... But that's purely speculation."
Unable to control the faltering in my heart, I confirmed what Shinomiya-sensei had brought up.
"Simultaneous to when you marked Iris Freyja and Kraken Zwei, the sniping team headed by Lisa Highwalker also had their dragon marks turned blue, apparently. Even Ariella Lu and the others, who were farther away in position, also had their dragon marks turn from purple to blue."
"What... The area of effect was so wide..."
Iris was the only one I had marked by my own volition. I originally thought that Kraken Zwei's dragon mark had changed color simply from being caught in the wake next to Iris—But never did I expect even Lisa and the rest of the girls to be affected.
"After you made contact with Iris Freyja and Kraken Zwei, the colors of their dragon marks had vanished. Their bodies also show no anomalous symptoms. However, since your effect on those whose dragon marks had changed color is as yet uncertain, you will be placed in isolation for now."
Shinomiya-sensei calmly explained the situation to me.
"Oh... So that's why I was sleeping in what looks like a jail cell."
I commented after figuring out the situation. Shinomiya-sensei made an apologetic expression.
"Sorry, I do not wish to subject you to imprisonment... when clearly you are—my niece's savior."
"No, please don't feel bothered. I believe your judgment is correct, Shinomiya-sensei, because I also don't understand what happened—or what I've done."
I laughed wryly and turned my gaze to the dragon mark on my left hand.
Perhaps reacting to the girls' dragon marks, mine was showing a slight color of blue.
By turning Iris and Kraken Zwei into "my kind," that did not necessarily mean they had become human. It was impossible to predict what effects there might be from now on.
"Personally, I'd like to touch Yuu as soon as possible—to let him turn me into his real mate. I'll simply break this window."
However, Kili shrugged nonchalantly and stared at the window half-seriously.
"Kili-san, please do not act on impulse and cause destruction. I am the one... who wants to confirm Nii-san's safety directly."
While warning Kili, Mitsuki also showed impatience. Seeing this situation, Iris huddled herself apologetically.
"Y-You're right. Sorry... Mitsuki-chan."
"Why is it you, instead of Kili-san, who is apologizing to me, Iris-san?
"B-Because... I touched Mononobe first... Actually you should be first, Mitsuki-chan—No, you should be the only one..."
Iris looked down and placed her hand over her dragon mark on her flank.
"Iris-san, here you go with such words again... I have repeated myself many times already, Nii-san and Iris-san will—
"N-No! Mononobe and Mitsuki will—"
Iris and Mitsuki started to repeat a dispute as before.
"H-Hey, you two—"
I frantically tried to stop them, but with the window and wall in the way, I could only shout at them.
Firill quickly approached the window and called to me quietly.
"By marking me... It means that you have resolved yourself properly to become a prince, right?"
I was rendered speechless by her serious gaze. Even though it was unintentional, the fact I marked her was the truth, so I could not deny it.
"Wait, Firill, I feel sorry for Mononobe-kun if you force him like that."
However, overhearing the conversation, Ariella came over and defended me.
"Mm... Onii-chan feels troubled."
Ren also joined in the rescue from behind Ariella.
"Oh... Then you two don't need Mononobe-kun to take responsibility for you?"
Nevertheless, Firill grinned malevolently and asked, causing the two girls to act awkwardly.
"No, umm... I'd also... hope he'd take a bit of responsibility."
"No problem... Onii-chan is a responsible man."
Ariella scratched her face in embarrassment whereas Ren looked me with eyes filled with trust.
"That's right! Yuu will take Tia as wife! Right, husband?"
Even Tia joined in at this time. Everyone's gaze gathered on me.
The pressure from everyone was making me break out in cold sweat. At this moment, Lisa pointed at me through the window and declared as though pouring fuel on the fire.
"Mononobe Yuu! I will have you know that I intend for you to take responsibility for marking me! With this... blue bottom, how do you expect me to get married!?"
"I-I understand. Responsibility aside, I'll definitely find a solution for the bottom problem no matter what!"
I frantically nodded and agreed. For some reason, Lisa's face remained red.
"D-Do not use such a weird description!"
"But Lisa, you're the one who brought it up, right!?"
While we were talking noisily like this, Iris and Mitsuki, who were arguing in the background, looked over to us in surprise.
"Hey... Mitsuki-chan, this doesn't feel like the time for us to be yielding to each other..."
"My sentiments precisely... Iris-san. At this rate, things might develop into a bad direction."
After such an exchange, the two girls laughed at the same time.
"Ahaha... What are we doing?"
"Fufu—Indeed. To think that we were trying to decide on our own... like fools."
A murky situation with an unknown future ahead of us.
However, for some reason, after seeing Iris and Mitsuki laughing like that, I could not help but smile, feeling that things were not so bad right now.
That night—inside the large transport helicopter heading to Midgard—the task that Tia Lightning had been carrying out cautiously so far, synchronization with Yggdrasil, was finally complete.
Sitting in their seats, everyone else was asleep, leaning on one another's shoulder. Despite resting her head against Lisa next to her, Tia opened her eyes slightly and started to search for information.
"Black" Vritra had come to seek negotiations, even at the cost of taking on human form. Tia searched, wanting to know why.
With the sound of sparks, lightning flashed around Tia's horns.
Throwing herself into an overwhelming flood of information, she searched for necessary information—Disconcerting information.
—Dragon... Gaia—infinite prison of realms... Counterdragons—
Eight past calamities—crises of destruction—
The flood of information, flowing in the form of electronic signals, projected images of calamities in Tia's mind.
Images of destruction were gradually built.
First was the infernal realm bringing lives to an end. The First Dragon—"Hell" Gehenna.
Next was the visitor transcending infinity. The Second Dragon—"Ultimate Wisdom" Atlantis.
Third was the twilight devouring the gods. The Third Dragon—"True Obliteration" Ragnarok.
Fourth was the unstoppable quaking. The Fourth Dragon—"Heavy Tremor" Nova.
Fifth was absolute life of singular completion. The Fifth Dragon—"Eternal Longevity" Bahamut.
Sixth was chaos of indeterminacy. The Sixth Dragon—"Anomalous Dawn" Nyarlathotep.
Seventh was a surging swell of violence. The Seventh Dragon—"Disasterification" Apocalypse.
Eighth was wisdom that had returned. The Eighth Dragon—"Transcendent Soul" Humanoid.
Then, future destruction... A promised conclusion—
The Ninth Dragon—!
After comprehending everything, Tia opened her eyes.
Then she noticed the presence of the girl sitting opposite her, staring at her the entire time.
The black-haired girl whose body was imprisoned by a plant's vine—Vritra—spoke to her in a solemn tone of voice.
"'Tis apparent... Thou hast finally grasped the situation."
Tia nodded silently. She could not speak because the truth was too shocking.
As though reading Tia's mind, Vritra continued:
"Yes—Time is in short supply."
Residing in the girl's eyes was despair towards the inescapable future.
"Very soon, all life on Gaia shall face extinction—Destroyed by a true dragon."
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