Cold. It’s so cold…
My body kept on shivering.
“What a bother…”
I thought I heard a deep, sluggish voice, but I felt a warm body heat nearby, so I drew closer to it.
Hmph. Like I care! I’m freezing to death!
As I snuggled to keep myself warm, I grew sleepier and sleepier, and let go of my consciousness.
I woke up and saw it was dark, but I was relieved that I wasn’t in a swamp. On the contrary, it seemed like I was on a bed.
“Where… am I?”
It was a bit dim, but when I looked around, it seemed like I was inside some large place… like a building made of stones.
“Ugh… Cough! Cough!”
I coughed. It was so painful it felt like my throat was burning. It hurt. It hurt so much, I couldn’t stop coughing!
“Cough! Cough! Uuh…”
I coughed, spitting out red blood onto my palm. It was poison. The air here was poisoned. My limbs were numbed, and my vision was clouded. I became dazed… and after a while, I stopped coughing.
“Ugh… That was painful…”
The haze in my eyes subsided, and the sensation in my limbs returned as if my body had become accustomed to the poison.
“Oh? You’re alive. What are you?”
I turned towards the unfamiliar voice and saw a hill slowly moving.
“Eek…! I-It’s a dragon!”
A dragon of the same color as the swamp raised its head and looked at me, with purple smoke seeping from its mouth.
“To survive in this miasma, you’re not human, are you? Hey, little one.”
Purple smoke poured out every time he spoke. And that smoke brushed against my fingertips.
“Ack! It hurts!”
My fingers that came into contact with it turned purple and looked like they were on the verge of rotting. It hurt, it hurt so much! It felt like someone was chopping off my finger.
“Why, of course. It’s my poisonous breath. If exposed to it, any creature will die. So before that happens, answer me. What are you?”
“It hurts! It hurts—!”
“Answer me quickly. You’re about to die, so answer my question before you do.”
“Ow… Haah, hah… It stopped. I wonder if there’s anything I can do about this. Did that god really think it through and made me resistant to it?”
My fingers, which had been rotting to death, were back to normal. Hmm, I felt like my hands were strangely small, though?
I hurriedly turned around and saw that the voice came from the dragon’s. Then, I felt something unpleasant, as if something was crawling all over my body and looking into all my secrets.
“W-What did you do?”
“Hmm… You don’t have a name, do you? Do you want me to give you one?”
Name? I didn’t have one. Was it because this world was different? I wondered why the dragon suddenly mentioned having a name. But perhaps, it was because it was inconvenient to have none at all, and that this dragon who looked like a hill didn’t know what to call me.
“A name? I don’t mind…”
“Then, your name is Sugarion. Sugarion Veno. That’s fine, right?”
What was that…? I felt something strange about its words… Was there something in the name?
“I asked you if it’s fine! Say yes!”
My train of thought was shattered into pieces by his intimidation, and I couldn’t help but give an obedient reply. It was the reflex of a corporate slave.
“Hahaha! It’s done. I have bound you. You’ll really hate the goddess for throwing you out here without a single clue. Am I wrong, Sugar?”
“What… do you mean?”
The dragon smiled with satisfaction, forming a wicked grin on its huge face.
“You have become my follower. In other words, you’re my servant. That’s what it means to be named by someone. You never asked anything, did you? Fallen child.”
“Huh…? What’s with that?”
“If you have any complaints, tell it to your goddess. That’s what happens when you wander around without a name and not within your parents’ sight. Perhaps you’re different on the inside, but your outside appearance is that of a child, see.”
There was so much going on that I started to panic. F-First of all, regarding myself… Didn’t he just say ‘child’? Certainly, the Japanese tend to look younger than their age, but I thought being called a child was a bit over the top as a working adult.
“Huh? I’ve become smaller?”
“You’ve been like that since I found you.”
I looked once again and saw that my hands were small. So were my feet. My height was also short, and my voice high, like a child’s.
“I’m a child! I’m turning into a child!”
“Be silent, Sugar.”
“What’s this? I’m like about five years old? I’m too small!”
“I said be silent! Shut your mouth! Sugar!”
My mouth snapped shut, regardless of my will.
“?! …! …! …!!”
“Listen to me. Do you understand, Sugar?”
I nodded my head. I really couldn’t speak a word.
“I permit you.”
“Uwehh, so mean! What the hell did you do?! Uhh… Who are you again? I don’t know your name.”
The dragon seemed to be taken aback, but…
“If you don’t know about the poison dragons, the Venos… then, you can call me Master.”
“Are you dissatisfied?”
“Not reaaally? Mas-ter.”
“You… How impudent!”
However, he didn’t trample me down and even told me a lot of things. I immediately understood why. He had always been alone.
“Why aren’t you dying? My poison kills all living things, you know.”
“It’s probably the power of the goddess. It’s not that poisons are ineffective against me. I’m just resistant to it. At first, I thought I was going to die a horrible death, but once I got used to it, I was fine.”
“Got used to it?! You got used to my poison?”
“I still feel like I’m being ripped apart, but… I’m definitely not dead.”
Master said he hadn’t spoken to anyone since before he became a poison dragon. I couldn’t help but be moved by his words. I didn’t know how long he had been living, but it seemed that he had always been by himself. Whenever he would come close to a creature, it would die. That was how it had always gone.
“Can I come over to your side?”
Master asked. I answered.
“Don’t wanna. I don’t want to be crushed. You’re huge, Master.”
I noticed it immediately. Master was lonely. If I had been alone all my life, it would be… difficult. That was why Master was happy to have someone to talk to after all these years. He said that he would treasure me even if I did some things he didn’t like.
Sure enough, he mumbled something in his mouth about me being impudent, but he didn’t yell at me. He muttered another word or two, then his body steadily shrunk, and there I saw a grown man standing there.
“Do you have any more complaints?”
“Woah… Magic? Amazing!”
His hair was deep green, like the color of a poison dragon’s surface, and his eyes were golden. He was beautiful.
“If a dragon lives long enough, they all learn to use magic.”
He said he was bored, so he decided to give it a try, apparently. Hmm, I see. I walked over to his side and reached out my hands.
I said to him.
Master looked like he had mixed feelings, but… he held me up in his arms. It was definitely the same warmth that had warmed me when I was shivering from the cold.