Take Up the Cross:
This is not Kansas, it’s Castillo country.
Is a Lycia the heroine?
(Please be warned that ☆ still means presence of sex.)
「 Time’s up! Put down your pen, and immediately bring the exam papers to me. 」
The sound of the alarming bell strikes heavily to my eardrums, drowning in Professor’s announcement of the exam’s end. It should’ve triggered me with the suddenness of the loud ring of the bell, but on this special occasion, it’s music to my ears. Because I don’t have to bore myself to death any longer with the all too easy questions.
「 With this exam, this academy semester is coming to a close. For those graduating soon, I’ll wish you all the best in the future. 」
Graduation ceremony huh… I’ve known it’s coming closer, but with the professor mentioning it, the weight of it is only realized now. Well, it’s not something to ponder around. There’s a much more important agenda to think of.
Visiting Professor Meyer.
After handing the exam to the professor, I make my way to Professor Meyer’s quarter. Passing through the campus’ distinct white building, realizing that this might be the last time I can enjoy the beautiful architecture.
It just so happens that I come across the classic bronze Bosart statue. There are other landmarks more unique and much more magnificent in terms of appearance, but I can’t help but always notice the statue.
A figure of a greatly educated man — a symbol of great hope to the future of noble society.
For me, however, it’s reduced to a figure of my pessimism and misery.
Then she appears.
She, the ideal woman in the most artistic form, everything about her is beautiful pristine white.
…That’s wrong. Sinister white fits her most. The royal bearing and pale skin appear devilishly inhumane.
I quickly walk to the side, not wanting myself to be noticed by her group. And then continue to walk to my destination. I need to get away.
『 Hoooo… Who’s That Female Human? 』
I must admit, this is the first time you show interest in another human other than me. Which one are you talking about?
『 The White One That Passes Before You 』
White one… Don’t tell, Princess Vivienne?
『 Whoever That Female Human Is, I Can’t Help But Wanting To Pummel Her To The Ground. 』
『 That Female Human Surprisingly Irks Me. Don’t You As Well? She’s The Cause Of Your Dismay, No? 』
Calm down Naga… You don’t have to worry about such an insignificant thing.
No… It should be me who needs to calm down.
The dragon’s outrage is due to my emotional outburst…
And I can do so by focusing on what’s going to happen soon. As I’m now already in front of Professor Meyer’s quarter.
「 Greetings Professor Meyer, I hope I didn’t disturb you. 」
As soon as I peek inside, I notice the stacks of papers on his table, covering almost half of it.
「 Ahh… Renald, it’s been a while. 」He says, putting the paper he’s holding down flat to the table,「 don’t let the stacks of papers here concern you. Some are just my research notes, although most are my student’s exams. 」
「 I really am not bothering you right? 」I say, feeling a bit guilty, interrupting in the middle of what seems to be his busy period.
「 I would gladly continue grading these later late at night, to spare some free time with one of my favorite students. Now don’t be shy, please come in. 」
Receiving the professor’s acknowledgment, I come inside, closing the door behind me, and immediately sit down in the available chair in front of him.
「 I’m sure you’ve come here not just to beg me to increase your already perfect grades like most students, so what is it that you need from me then? Is it still regarding the arcane decegram star magic rune surrounded by four hooded angels you’ve been researching about? 」
「 Ahh… actually no. I’ve come here to ask you about something else. 」
「 Does that mean you have found the answer?! 」He immediately leans forward, his eyes widening with sheer amazement,「 Please share it with me. I’m actually rather curious about that whole research subject. 」
「 Sorry Professor… I gave up researching it, sadly. My research and leads keep giving me deadends. 」
Can I even tell him that the magic rune leads to the summoning of an ancient dragon?
「 I see… What a shame… 」He looks down, seemingly disappointed.
「 Anyway, you’ve come here to ask about something else right? 」He quickly follows up,「 What is it that you want to ask? 」
「 Uhhh.. 」Damn, I’m being nervous… Here goes nothing… 「 Have you heard of the name, Naga? 」
「 Hmm… Interesting… 」He ponders, as he rests his chin on his hand,「 Naga was it? Never heard of it. What’s that?」
『 WHAT 』
Both Professor’s answer and the dragon’s reaction are well within my expectations. But Naga would probably be unsatisfied with just this small answer.
Should I just be straightforward and mention that Naga is an important and significant figure, being the supreme dragon that no other can fight against?
No… I need to test the water first, as I’m currently swimming in dangerous waters. Dragon history is the source of pride of all dragons. If a human starts questioning the legitimacy of this great pride, it will be an easy trigger to a dragon’s outrage.
「 This is merely my hypothesis that I want to discuss with you. 」I say, trying to subtly push the idea,「 I think the dragon statue that we’ve encountered on our past archeological expedition might be a newly undiscovered dragon that doesn’t exist in the history book. Not the Raiyuu kind that I’ve previously hypothesized. 」
「 The dragon statue from our past archeological expedition was it? It’s definitely a Raiyuu… It’s just like what you said before, back in the expedition. The humans who created the statue must have a misinformed idea about dragons, thus creating a false statue. Which is reasonable, considering they always lived under the surface or other dragonless areas. 」
「 Well, what if… What if they created the right depiction of one of the dragon kind? One that we have yet to know of? 」
「 Okay. Then why would a dragon wear a human-made crown? 」Professor quickly counters.
「 Professor… 」I call, trying to reason with what he thinks is unreasonable,「 the Anantem dragon kind ancestors have big jewelry implanted in their chest. Their descendants even to this day follow suit by having a small red gem implanted on their forehead. The now extinct Tubor dragonkind had leaf-like parts on their wings. I think it is within a reasonable scope that another dragon might possibly have a weird gimmick, such as a crown. 」
A hint of uncertainty and doubt plastered in his features.
I need to push in further.
「 The dragon wears a crown, Professor. 」I continue,「 The crown might’ve already existed since the beginning of its existence which might indicate that it is the ruler, the supreme one of the entire dragon race. 」
「 I’m sorry Renald, I know you mean well, but the concept of a supreme dragon ruling over the entire dragon race is to mildly put it — it baffles me. 」
「 Maybe it’s the supreme one that doesn’t bother the other dragon kind because it is the one and only kind of its kind? 」
「 Are you seriously doubting my knowledge regarding my esteemed ancestors? 」Professor asks, with a tinge of doubt and anger, raising his eyebrow,「 the dragons in the Verum Shihi era always fought with one another. Their respective strengths largely balanced the others out, with the Tian and Mervyn kind being slightly the more dominant dragon kind. 」
『 HOW DARE THESE LOWLY INFERIORS FORGET THEIR ONCE SUPREME DRAGON 』
Ughhh… My head… It’s just a telepathic thought, but its anger is definitely transmitted to the point of causing a headache.
「 Are you alright, Renald? 」Professor asks, clearly concerned for my well-being,「 It seems you need to take a rest. 」
「 Don’t worry, it’s just a slight headache. 」I say trying to brush it off.
「 You don’t need to be polite with me. 」He says, although I sense his mind to be somewhere else,「 I must admit, I’m not convinced with your theory of this supreme ‘Naga’. It contradicts some elements of our history. It would need a lot of evidence to back it up, and an unauthenticated dragon statue is barely enough. 」
He mentioned not be polite with him… That means he subtly cues me to be direct with him. To be truthful about my state? Is it out of concern for my well-being or out of the discomfort of questioning historical pride? Whatever it is, it seems that he wants this to be over soon.
「 Alright… I should get some rest then. 」I say, emphasizing on the rest,「 thank you for sparing the time to talk with me. 」
「 No, it was my pleasure, 」he lets out a small smile,「 you may leave. It’s a shame, you will be graduating soon. I sincerely hope this won’t be our last meeting, and that your passion for history never dies. 」
「 Of course professor, take care. 」
Accepting the fact that whatever I say won’t change his mind and most importantly having gotten Naga’s answer, I head out to the door.
「 Renald, wait! 」
「 Yess..? 」I say as I turn my back.
「 I forgot to mention since you are not going to be a student here anymore, here is my address, feel free to send me a letter. I hope we can still stay in touch once in a while 」He says, giving me a small paper.
I quickly grab it and notice his address is quite close to the academy. In an affluent neighborhood.
「 Thank you very much, professor. I’ll send a letter sometime soon. 」
I leave Professor Meyer’s room, knowing full well the storm that’s possibly happening in the sky palace. Naga must be furious.
I need to immediately check in with Naga. The dragon must be shocked with the revelation that its name is truly forgotten by the dragonkin. What’s worse is how even a Dragonkin history professor is not open to the idea of Naga.
I immediately run back to my dorm, ignoring the onlookers.
I come inside the dorm, climb up the stairs, open the door of my room, but something strange has happened.
My room is messy — too messy. This is weird. I’m sure I’ve tidied up a bit, and the maid in the morning would do the rest. How come all of my stuff is scattered everywhere? All of my clothes are now crumpled, even the cabinets of my drawers are pulled and some even went missing?!
Wait a minute…
Did my room just get robbed?!
How could this happen?!
I need to report it to the security or the housemaids.
Wait, I still need to check in with Naga first… Ah… I’ll report it later, Naga comes first…
By the time I’m in the sky palace, the dragon’s rampage has already started. The whole building trembles and shakes. The loud noise of impacts keeps blasted over and over again. The dragon must’ve made the room it’s hiding messy.
I run to the source of it all. And there I see the dragon’s chaotic expression, with what seems to be a tinge of depression forming.
『 DO YOU KNOW HOW IT FEELS TO REALIZE YOUR ENTIRE EXISTENCE IS MEANINGLESS?! TO HAVE TO COME TO TERMS THAT YOUR MISERABLE LIFE IS WORTHLESS?! 』
The dragon’s voice causes another rumbling tremble on the scale of a small earthquake.
Something inside me wants to back down, to get away from the dragon’s rampage. But no, I must face it. I can’t just runoff. It would be cowardly to do so.
「 Settle down, Naga. 」I say sternly,「 I know it’s heartbreaking that you’re forgotten. But does it become meaningless? What do you mean? 」
『 I WANT MY NAME TO BE REMEMBERED FOR POSTERITY. IN ORDER THAT MY MISERY HAS SOME SORT OF A MEANING. THAT IS MY MADE-UP PURPOSE TO CLENCH TO MY VOID LIFE. 』
「 Misery? When you’re the supreme dragon? 」
『 OF COURSE… 』
The dragon begins prowling, circling around me, its eyes filled with deep anger.
『 OF COURSE THAT IS WHAT YOU ALL THINK. I BECAME SUPREME NOT OUT OF MY MEER WISH BUT OUT OF NECESSITY. A LONE DRAGON LIKE ME IS AN EASY PICKING FOR THE OTHER CLANS. 』
The anger is still there, but now more controlled, shimmering beneath its eyes. It makes the dragon even more dangerous — on the appearance at least.
A lonely dragon huh…
『 IT’S A DRAGON EAT DRAGON WORLD. WHY BOTHER STRIVING IN A VIOLENT AND TRANSIENT WORLD 』
The dragon’s still angry yet it lets out a small chuckle as if it’s laughing at itself.
「 Well… 」I ponder some more to its question,「 life has always been meaningless. There is no such thing as a grand ‘purpose’ in life. 」
『 WHAT IS THE MEANING OF MY EXISTENCE THEN? BEFORE AND NOW 』
Purpose huh… Such a loose and abstract concept. Does the dragon want me to give it some sort of purpose?
Even I don’t have a concrete answer for it.
Nevertheless, an answer is needed, even an imperfect one.
「 Purpose is not something that you can just come up with in mere notice. Purpose is something you must uncover. Look from the inner within of your soul. Maybe you’ll find it inside. 」
The dragon stares daggers back at me, it’s dragonic eyes narrow to the point I can feel their sharpness, doubting and questioning my lecture.
Surprisingly, the dragon slightly withdraws, coming to reluctantly accept my idea, from the looks of it.
The dragon turns back and swiftly moves to a random room within the sky palace, the door shuts as soon as it goes inside. I quickly run, and knock on the door, questioning what’s on Naga’s mind.
『 Do Not Disturb Me. I Shall Contemplate 』
I keep banging the door, but Naga’s response is still to remain silent…
So is that it? In a world where magic becomes the ultimate entity — an extra hand or tool that influences all sorts of lives, it doesn’t have a single place in any logistical operation?
For the logistics to be merely classified as a simple way of distributing food, material, and resources among the army. Quite strange indeed. But it is reluctantly understandable.
Unlike tanks or other heavy weaponry in the previous modern world that need fuel, ammunition, and countless spare parts, not even including trained technicians both to operate and repair, magicians simply need decent food and several potions to operate.
And in a world where a single magic expert can annihilate a one hundred soldier army, the complex challenges of utilizing weaponry and army units become naught but a flickering afterthought. Something that simply happens. Not connected to warfighting capability.
I guess it is to no surprise that the logistical doctrine became such a simplified concept. Not the interconnected system over hundreds of varieties of other systems with intellectual and technological breadth, depth, and complexity that I am familiar with.
With that in mind, It is to no surprise that very few take the [Military Logistics] and the one who chose to do so, most likely only do so for the military graduation credits.
I’m disappointed with this class honestly. I expect rigorous systems and calculation but found case studies behind the scenes of wars, mostly about the logistical or political side of war. The professor also mentions that the [Military Logistics] class only has a brief history, unlike other military classes, merely two years.
The current logistical doctrine that should’ve fit according to this world’s unique situation and circumstances is still full of errors.
Cradsten war, Concordis great war, and many more; all have the same theme in terms of how they handle logistics; with the same common problem – mismanagement.
The de-facto ways of procuring food and supplies are always left to the soldiers in the field. Scavenging their way as they move forward, living off the land.
Although it does make sense, setting aside morals, I can’t help but feel there’s definitely can be something done to improve the current doctrine. With intricate calculations, experiments, and of course data, you can come up with ways to predict at which stage an army unit needs what supplies and could also be incorporated into army placement and transportation.
As most of the time, an army could’ve won if only they have more mana potions with them. While as on the other side of the battlefield a certain army who didn’t get much action finds out they have too many mana potions laying around to the point it halts their movement speed.
But still… How come what seems to be an obvious problem is not addressed? Is it something to do with the lack of political will? Or the problem is not too much of a big of a deal?
Or maybe it’s just an oversight on my part, as I don’t really have much practical knowledge or field information in this regard. And to get them…. I need to participate in perhaps the royal military or even warfare….
『 You Seem To Be Deep In Thought Human, Learning This Arcane ‘Logistics’. Is This Some Sort Of A New Way Of Magic That You Humans Developed? 』
For once, I thought it would be a quiet night in the sky-palace’s library. Accompanied with only a peaceful fireplace and surrounded in the comforting towering old wooden bookshelves. But here, a bored dragon unintentionally makes its way to my supposed private moment. The first time might I add.
I’ve been trying my hardest in ignoring the dragon, but how could I when its humongous serpentine-like body coils around on equally massive bookcases… I’m honestly surprised the dragon never got entangled with its own body.
「 Logistics is not magic. 」I say, disputing the dragon,「 It is a discipline in managing resources to help human armies fight to their fullest. 」
『 Hoooo… I See… Another Human Concept. But Why Bother Learning This Torturous Concept When You Can Simply Decimate Your Foes With Grand Magic Spells? 』
「 Because humans are born with various constraints. 」I lecture, 「 constraints that might be unthinkable or nonexistent for non-humans. To blow up a small mountain, a dragon can simply cast an explosive spell, for humans, however, it would require a lot of planning on the amount of mana needed due to our small mana capacity, and also where to strike the spell since our spells pale in power compared to the dragons. It is due to these constraints that we must be creative with our ways, one of them being this logistics concept. 」
『 Then Why Bother, When You Can Use This Great One’s Might And Power? 』
Another unnecessary offer, and most importantly a reluctant one.
I have to admit, there is the temptation in using the dragon’s power. But I never want to conquer the world, there’s a lot of responsibilities that lie hidden within it.
Let’s say I conquered the Veinard kingdom alone, what then? The power balance will be ruined, the citizens will question whether the new ruler brings good or not. Chaos will surge everywhere.
「 Are you even willing for me to use your powers? Can you even accept your fate that you were summoned by a human?! 」
『 What This Great One Thinks Does Not Matter. 』
Does not matter? How come it doesn’t matter?
So the dragon can just easily accept its fate?
「 And why does it not matter? 」 I desperately ask the dragon’s unfathomable thought.
『 That’s Just The Way It Is. None Of My Thoughts Have Always Mattered. That’s Why Go Ahead And Use This Great One’s Potential To The Fullest. 』
「 Then I simply won’t use your aid. I don’t even have any use for it. 」
Somehow, I can feel the tension in the air, a deep gruntle, a look of chagrin comes from the dragon.
『 I AM NAGA. 』
The dragon let loose a deafening roar, threatening to burst my eardrums. So much for a normal quiet moment in the library.
『 I AM THE VERY DEFINITION OF SUPREME AND MIGHT AMONGST DRAGONS. 』
With its enormous body, it hovers and flies around in the above space, thanks to the library or sky palace towering ceiling — demonstrating it’s swift flight. Untraceable to the eye.
The once still air becomes violent winds as numerous chandeliers shake vigorously, alarming to fall.
『 Many Have Fought For My Supreme Position And Many More Yearns To Utilize My Power For Their Own Personal Schemes. 』
The dragon stops its face directly in front of me, shooting me a hostile look. Its sharp dragonic crimson eyes narrow, threatening to kill.
『 The Tian, Raiyuu, Chaun, And Many More. All Are Jealous Of The Power That This Great One Possess. They Begrudgingly Revers To Me As The Supreme One As I Am The Wild Card That No Clans Can Hold Upon. 』
A contemptuous growl rumbles from the dragon’s throat. Its head rises up, just on the level below the library’s ceiling.
『 Many Would Gladly Destroy The World To Be In Your Place, My Creator. 』
Those last words were hissed out, making me instinctively knock me back. But still seating in the chair.
『 It Would Be Foolish To Not Use Me As An Aid. Or Even As A Mere Tool. 』
The dragon lets out a chuckle as she looks down at me. Deep in its eyes, a dark and blank hole.
…I’ve always wondered about this dragon.
Might. Power. Supremacy. Those three words are always what the dragon mentions on and on and on… And it keeps saying them as if there’s nothing else the dragon can think of or say…
「 Why are you so obsessed with your powers and supremacy? 」
『 Because That Is Solely My Identity. Nothing More — Nothing Less. 』
The sounds of the crisp crackling of the fireplace are what’s left in this room, focusing me to ponder and make sense of what the dragon is trying to say.
Then, a realization hit me.
The dragon is naught but an empty husk that can only project power…
As power solely defines the dragon.
…Should I pity the dragon? No, the dragon won’t like it.
I wanted to keep our relationship cold and proper but it might be best to at least warm it a bit. To lessen the dragon’s worry. From Naga’s explanation, she might’ve thought of me as one of those cold-hearted beings that will take advantage of anything.
「 Haaahhh… What do I do with you… Come here. 」I wave my hand, signaling the dragon to move close to me.
The dragon willingly comes close to me, although with a confused look. Its enormous head that is equal to that of my upper body is only a few inches away in front of my face.
I honestly don’t know what to do with this dragon, as its appearance and presence is only due to an accident.
But somehow it reminds me of what I usually do to Hyledd…
I reach out to the dragon, on top of its head is the gleaming golden crown, but it doesn’t deter me from stroking the dragon scales on top of its head that is not covered by the crown; giving it head-pats.
「 I appreciate your sentiment, but you do not need to force yourself. 」
Its dragonic eyes gaze to space, seemingly deep in thought. Its tense scales are now relaxed, making me enjoy the smooth surface even more as I continue head-patting Naga.
With the dragon finally remaining silent, I continue reading the book as I write down notes.
A basic magician squadron composed of six assault magicians, three aegis magicians, and one support magician, is estimated to require three to five mana potions — the standard military-grade, for medium intensity skirmish combat. So if there’s an average of a single combat every day, not considering casualties, the squadron would need to be resupplied twenty-one to thirty-five mana potions, which is around thirty percent of a standard wagon capacity…
If that’s the case the-
『 Human. 』
「 What is it? 」
Is this dragon lonely or bored or what?
『 I’ve Known Your Name. Even So, I Want To Know Your Name Directly From You. 』
Well, that’s weird…
「 My name’s Renald. Renald Alderhide. 」
『 …Reynard? 』
「 No. It’s Renald. 」
『 R-ronald…? 』
Isn’t that what I thought of my name when I first come to this world?
I place my hand on the forehead and look down to the desk as I’m sure I’m smiling stupidly right now…
How can this dragon think of my name as Ronald too…
This is ridiculously hilarious….
That’s right. I have no use of my past name. I should move on.
「 Like I said. It’s Renald. 」
『 Renald. 』
「 There you go. 」I say, ignoring the dragon’s expression,「 you got it right this time. 」
『 Hmph, Strange… Anyway, Decent Name… Thank You… 』
Its dragonic lips noticeably curl upwards slightly, expressing a rather content look…
A lot of weird things have happened to the dragon. But I honestly prefer this many times more compared to its usual state of always bothering me about all-might and usurpation.
「 I’m not sure where your gratitude is coming from, but you’re welcome I guess… 」
Noticing that the dragon remained silent, I took the opportunity to continue what I was studying.
If a squadron is expected to face a medium intensity skirmish two times per week then it will require one wagon full of supplies per month. So if that’s the case the-
『 Be That As It May. 』
…I shouldn’t have allowed Naga to come here.
『 I Cannot Fathom That You Do Not Have Something That You Desire With How Hard You Work. 』
I pause for a moment and deeply think. What I desire huh…
Now my desire is to make my mother proud. Mother doesn’t say what she wants explicitly, other than for me deserving a better chance or to be successful in life. So in a way she doesn’t tell me in detail what she thought of as success in life.
But there’s definitely something more than what my mother wants, or making my mother proud… My unfulfilled yet foolish wish.
「 I want… as weird as it may sound… I want love… 」, I say, talking to myself as much to the dragon,「 but that’s a foolish wish, for such a delusional abstract concept does not exist. 」I quickly dismay the thought.
『 Hoooo… I See… 』
The dragon surprisingly replies quite quickly. I’m not sure the dragon does so out of boredom or out of deep thinking… as a rather sense of being in a state of contemplation comes from it.
「 Well… How about you then? 」I quickly ask, trying to divert the conversation topic,「 you might be one of my summonses but that doesn’t mean I’m not willing to fulfill any request, within my abilities of course. 」
『 Ah. Now You Mention It. When Will You Learn Of The Wondrous Tales Of My Supremacy? This Great One Can’t Wait To Hear What The Dragonkin Thinks Of The Supreme Naga. 』
「 Ahhh… That’s right. Don’t worry, it will be quite soon. Tomorrow most likely. 」
After the [Military Logistics] exams, the whole academia will enter a relaxed period. And shortly afterward graduation will come. My time in the academy is over, along with the Alderhide family…
I would need to visit Professor Meyer immediately after the exam then, before his time is filled with grading the student exams. With his expertise once and for all, we will get the concrete answer to whether the legendary tales of Naga are actually written in the history book or not.
Even then, I’ve already prepared for the worst, that Naga is truly forgotten, never mentioned at all in any history book. Because if so, then I would totally know of its name before.
The question then is, what would Naga think?
Take Up the Cross:
This chapter is a bit longer than previous. The story must rapidly progress in the direction of heroine.
Is a smiling, blond-haired scholar woman a heroine?
(Minor displays of sexual content, please be warned.)