Zero no Tsukaima:Side Story Volume2 ExtraChapter
Extra Chapter: A Day in the Life of Sylphid
“Chirp, chirp, chirrrrrrp,” Sylphid has awakened to the sound of birds singing.
This took place inside the forests adjacent to Tristain Academy of Magic; more specifically, this is where Sylphid constructed a special nest for her gigantic body.
She had cut down the trees using her teeth and trenchant claws, arranged them into a lean-to, and set a thick layer of soft hay on the ground. She even prepared large barrels filled with water.
“Uwaaaaaa,” Sylphid opened her mouth wide and yawned.
As she opened her mouth like that, the little birds that were singing just then flew over and landed between Sylphid’s sharp teeth. They picked off the food that remained between her teeth.
The birds flew off and disappeared into the blue sky after they had cleaned Sylphid’s mouth. After seeing them off with her sight, Sylphid yawned again.
The sunlight came dazzling through the dew-decked branches that formed the lean-to.
“Good morning, Sun,” Sylphid muttered to herself. However, she suddenly seemed to realize something and hurriedly scanned her environment.
“I spoke!” she thought in her heart.
It was a secret that Sylphid was an ancient fantastical beast, a wind rhyme dragon who had mastered human speech.
Since Tabitha said, “it would be troublesome if you got found out,” Sylphid was forbidden to speak unless she’s flying at the high altitude of three kilometers.
After confirming that only the birds heard her talk, Sylphid sighed in relief.
As she was about to leave for breakfast, she heard a rustling sound in the undergrowth nearby.
She turned to look, and saw a little girl peeking at her under the cover of the growth. It was a child of only about five years of age. She was staring at Sylphid in surprise.
The girl was holding a basket in her hand. Probably, she was from a nearby village, coming into the wood to pick strawberries or mushrooms.
Cold sweat was pouring down Sylphid’s head.
Did she hear what Sylphid just said?
As Sylphid was worrying about that, a smile appeared on the girl’s face.
“O Dragon, what are you doing?”
Sylphid cocked her head, pretending to not understand what the girl just said. The spark of curiosity in the girl’s eyes brightened, and she walked up to Sylphid.
“Miss Dragon, where are you from?”
Even though she could see the terrifyingly large form of the dragon, the girl did not appear to be afraid at all. What a weird girl. Sylphid felt a little happy, and started using signs to respond to the girl.
She pointed to the sky with her front foot, and then flapped her wings.
“Are you from the sky?”
Sylphid made huge nods in affirmation.
“Ah, so you are from the sky. You are so handsome,” the girl hugged Sylphid’s neck. Sylphid was shouting “gao, gao,” in joy.
“So, what are you going to do now?”
Sylphid opened her mouth wide, and then shut it immediately.
“You’re going to eat?”
“Gao, gao,” Sylphid nodded.
“Miss Dragon, what do you eat?”
Sylphid opened her wings and flapped them.
Sylphid shook her head side to side.
Sylphid nodded strongly.
“I, Nea, also like to eat fish.”
So the name of the girl is Nea. After the introduction, Sylphid talked with the girl for a while. Of course, only Nea spoke; Sylphid only shook or nodded her head as the question warranted.
“Can I come again?”
Nea asked as she was leaving. Sylphid made several big nods.
Some time after Nea left…, Sylphid was trying to decide if she wanted to go to the Academy or do something else instead. During this time, she noticed a small basket left by her nest.
“Whose basket is it?”
When Sylphid saw the basket was full of a type of wild strawberries called “frogberries,” she recalled the girl she saw that morning.
“Isn’t this the basket she had in her hand? Should I bring it to her? But it seems that there would be panic if Sylphid went there…”
Tabitha has said that in order to avoid causing panic, Sylphid should not approach the nearby villages. Although she could use a “change form” spell to turn into a human and take the basket to the village, Tabitha had also strictly forbidden Sylphid from showing her human form to the people living nearby.
“I won’t do anything bothersome like that. I should hurry and eat at the Academy.”
As Sylphid cast her troubled thoughts aside, various food that she enjoys appeared in her mind.
Fish, horse, cattle…
Recently, Sylphid has developed a taste for the fish caught from the ponds. When she thought of the feel of the fat carps and trouts (?) in her mouth, Sylphid was already subconsciously salivating.
“I’ve decided! I want to eat fresh fish! I’ll go and bug sis until she gives in.”
However…the image of the basket resurfaced while Sylphid was in flight. Recalling that the basket was filled to the brim with strawberries, Sylphid stopped in her tracks.
“That child, I guess she really wants to eat the strawberries.”
After muttering “gao, gao” in annoyance, Sylphid decided to take the basket to its owner after all.
“I’ll just sneak into the village and leave it in front of her doorsteps. Gao, nothing tiresome will happen.”
Sylphid cleverly picked up the basket with her front claws and flew towards the sky amid the blinding sunlight.
The village was found almost immediately after. The village was about thirty minutes walk away, but Sylphid could cover the distance in a matter of minutes.
Sylphid was searching for Nea’s home. However, she didn’t know where the child’s home was located. As she was looking for it, she was discovered by the villagers.
“Arrrggh!! It’s a dragon! A dragon!”
The bells were ringing, and the villagers fled forth from their homes. Dragons are symbols of terror to those living in the villages. Some dragons are familiars at the nearby Academy of Magic, true, but they are fear given physical form nevertheless. Fear was apparent on the face of all present.
Sylphid landed on the ground even as she thought about how much trouble she was in.
As a result, the villagers became even more scared.
“It landed! What does it want?!”
“Isn’t it only a familiar of some noble from the Academy? I don’t think it’s something to be afraid of.”
Although there were people who voiced that opinion, they were too few in number. The villagers were overwhelmed by their fear of the strongest race.
“Go away! Shoo! Go away!”
The people took up clubs and hoes to drive Sylphid away. Amongst the people massing against her, Sylphid saw Nea tightly clutching the skirt of a woman that seemed to be her mother. Sylphid was suddenly calm: Nea, at least, would not be afraid of her.
Nea’s mother’s scream pierced the eardrums of the slowly approaching Sylphid.
“Ahhhhhhhhhhh! It’s going to eat me! Someone please save me!”
Sylphid shook her head from side to side in order to reassure the mother. But that did not quiet the terrified mother.
Even so, Nea shouldn’t be afraid. After all, the girl had talked with her for quite a while just now. With this glimmer of hope, Sylphid continued to approach them.
Then, Sylphid’s last bit of hope was crushed.
Nea was looking alternately at her terrified mother and Sylphid.
“This dragon, is it so fearsome?”
“Of course. Dragons are very fearsome life forms. Although…, it looks quite gentle; it’s most likely a familiar of an aristocrat at the academy. But I wish they wouldn’t let these things loose! Ahh, things like dragons cannot be reasoned with! And who knows when they’d turn wild again. Really, those aristocrats can’t understand the distinction between their own rooms and the public forests.”
“Is that so? Is it really that scary?”
Due to what her mother said, the girl’s face contorted with fear.
“It is so. Dragons were originally the cruelest and strongest living forms in this world. However, the aristocrats who can tame dragons are even scarier.
“Dragon, scary…, how scary…Uwaaa…”
The girl started crying. Sylphid wanted to refute the mischaracterizations, excepted she wasn’t allowed to talk. Although Sylphid shook her head even more vigorously, the girl cried ever louder.
Sylphid lifted her head to the skies and screamed in sorrow.
“After I took the trouble of bringing it here…” Sylphid regretted. The villagers were becoming more agitated by the minute. When Sylphid heard someone yell, “bring out the guns,” she hurriedly put the basket on the ground and flew off.
After crying “gao, gao” a few times in the air, Sylphid turned and flew towards the Academy.
Sylphid could see the aristocratic youths sitting in class through the windows dotting the towers. Sylphid’s master Tabitha should also be sitting inside one of the windows. However, Sylphid’s destination lay elsewhere as Tabitha said that it was unnecessary to greet her in the morning.
Sylphid arrived at the back door of the dining hall located opposite the proper entrance of the main tower. She sat on her haunches and knocked the door with the tip of her nose. The door creaked open and out walked the stout Marteau.
“Ah, it’s you. Wait a sec.”
A few moments later, Marteau brought out bones and bits of meat from pigs and cattle, as well as some fish remains. Sylphid’s joy was amplified by the sorrow she felt just a moment ago. She licked Marteau’s face as she called out, “gao, gao.”
“Oh, quit it. Now my face is covered with saliva. But I guess you guys have your own share of troubles. Those careless nobles often forget that you, like them, get hungry every six hours.
Marteau, smiling, petted Sylphid’s nose as she crunched the bones.
“At least, you should pick a good master, ‘Blue’.”
After filling her stomach, Sylphid’s sorrow lessened. However, her heart was not quite calm yet.
Next, she went to the corner of the Vestri Courtyard where Saito set up a tent when he had ran away from home. After Sylphid had landed there, Kirche’s fire lizard slowly crawled out from inside the tent. Guiche’s mole was right behind it. Recently, this location had become a gathering place for the familiars. When their masters are in class, the idle familiars would come here to while away the time.
Flame the fire lizard emitted a call too low to be heard by human ears, speaking to Sylphid using the common tongue of Halkeginian natives. This is the tongue used by old races like the one Sylphid belongs to. The wild animals that have been contracted as familiars receive an intelligence boost that allows them to use language. That is because besides working like a dog, they have to be able to understand their masters’ commands. That said, they generally cannot speak human languages unless they belong to a race that has lived alongside humans for a long time, such as cats and dogs. As a result, the communication is merely one-sided.
On the other hand, things are different for animals that communicate through their calls. They can convey ideas by varying the pitch of their calls, as well as the tempo of their breathing.
“What’s wrong, Blue? You seem rather dispirited,” Flame looked worried as it gazed at Sylphid. Of course, Flame did not show a worried facial expression as humans do. There was merely a slight change in its gaze.
“Something depressing just happened to me,” Sylphid told all that had passed inside the forest and inside the village to his companions.
Verdandi twisted his nose as he made his comment. “Alas, this is really saddening. You are obviously a wind rhyme dragon, but they treated you like an idiot dragon.”
“Gao,” Sylphid nodded. His fellow companions already knew that Sylphid was a dragon from ancient times, a descendant of the rhyme dragons. However, they hid this piece of information from their masters out of camaraderie.
“Although…, it really depresses me that you were labeled ‘terrifying.’ You are obviously so gentle.”
“Maybe that was because his face is so ugly?” Flame said as he breathed fire. That was his way of laughing.
“That was uncalled for!”
“Putting that aside, does it really matter what the humans think? It’s not like we live just because they want us to.”
“That statement was problematic. Red, do you dislike being a familiar?”
Hearing Verdandi’s question, Flame shook its head.
“How could I? Here I don’t have to worry about my next meal, and my master is gentle. This is heaven compared to the dragon-dominated Fire Dragon Mountains, where I lived before. I would not go back if you begged me.” Flame hissed in a nasal tone. What Flame said represented the true feelings of the familiars. Although the contract more or less limits their freedom, being chosen as “the nobles’ familiars” is not a bad situation. Furthermore, in the demanding natural environment, that extra bit of freedom could easily cost them their lives.
“Really, it would be nice if I could relax like you guys. Because you are so small, you can live right here. I, Sylphid, can’t do that. I have to live in the forest, and be careful of my relationship with the neighbours. If they get annoyed with me, they will start to make evil plots. Furthermore, people will become afraid of me, and I’ll get hurt!”
Sylphid complained with many a ‘gao!’ Staring at his unsatisfied companion, Flame stated his opinion.
“Blue, let me repeat one more time. If you always make those discontented remarks, you'll never get anywhere. Look, do you see the guy over there?” Flame pointed with his chin. In that direction, a black-haired youth was washing clothes as though his life depended on it.
“Ah, it’s that guy. He’s the one who defeated Master Guiche. I have really complex feelings towards him. On one hand, he defeated an aristocrat even though he’s a familiar like us, that makes me feel he’s really impressive. On the other, he is an enemy who caused Master Guiche a great deal of pain.”
“That’s something that happened a long time ago. He’s an excellent familiar, one could even say that I respect him as the ideal familiar. But you can see his misfortune.”
A pink-haired girl appeared behind the dark-haired youth. She caught his arm and delivered a kick to the youth’s back. The youth who fell into the pool of water head-first was soaked to the bone. He immediately stood back up and said some words of protest. However, his master the pink-haired girl ignored the youth’s protests, kicking him in the crotch.
“That is very painful. No, it is beyond painful.”
The youth kneeled on the ground in agony, but the girl did not stop there. She stepped on the youth’s head countless times, and then firmly planted her foot on the youth’s head, rested her hands on her waist, and started hurling insults at the youth.
Flame sighed deeply. “He is clearly a familiar who committed incredible deeds for his master, but what is his reward? Besides, isn’t he a human too? On both counts, he shouldn’t receive this kind of treatment. Shouldn’t. That is the sort of abuse that shocks even us fire lizards who have a reputation for being fierce and cruel."
“Compared to him, Blue, your anxieties are too luxurious. Isn’t what the neighboring people think of you unimportant? And you say that you don’t want people to be afraid of you? That is frankly too luxurious! Too luxurious!”
Hearing the multiplying comments of his companions, Sylphid softly cried “gao” in sorrow.
After Sylphid left…, Nea was disheartened by a long lecture from her mother. Her mother was angry just because Nea went to see the dragon that morning. While Nea was depressed, she saw the basket that was left on the ground.
“That is…it is my basket.”
It was filled with frogberries. Nea liked those sweet and sour fruits the best. Popping one in her mouth, Nea’s brows knitted together from the sour flavour. That fruit wasn’t quite ripe.
“…Is it really as scary a creature as mother said it was? I don’t know.”
To the young Nea, her mothers words were absolute. However…, she could not see how Sylphid, whom she met that morning, was the least bit scary. The sorely troubled Nea went to the temple in the village.
The priest noticed Nea approaching in middle of his prayers; he spread his arms in a gesture of welcome.
“What happened, Nea?”
Nea told all that had taken place that day to the priest. The priest heard Nea out, and then smiled, saying, “dragons are terrifying life forms. That is true. However, you said that you didn’t see that dragon as scary? I think that’s also true. You are a good child. Therefore, if you, Nea, thinks that is the case, it could be true.”
“Which one is correct?”
“When we are talking about ‘a terrifying life form,’ one method of dealing with it is to avoid it. However, believing in what you feel is also a method. I do not know which one is correct. Only you, Nea, can make that decision.
Nea stood there, lost in thought. In front of her was a statue of the founder with her arms spread wide.
Decide for yourself…that is the first time Nea heard someone tell her to that. She didn’t know what to do.
Twilight…, Sylphid found a fish when he returned to his nest.
Sylphid poked the fish, and a piece of paper fell from it. Something was written on there.
“To Miss Dragon. I’m really sorry that I was afraid earlier today. Miss Dragon, you delivered the basket I had forgotten out of the goodness of your heart, but I was afraid of you. If someone did that to me too I would feel very bad. So I want to apologize to you. I’m sorry. Even though mother said that dragons are scary, but I don’t think so. This fish is a gift in gratitude for bringing back the basket. This letter was written down on my behalf by the Priest. Can I come play again? Nea.
Sylphid was surprised and happy; a light shone in her eyes. Under the beautiful moonlight, Sylphid took wings again, cheerfully crying, “gao!"
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