Groargh! Tschaa! Zzzasch!
If I had to describe the sound, that would be it. I was drenched by a deluge of cold water pouring right onto my head.
It was a mass of water that dwarfed the usual drizzle that always accompanied the ship. It was like sitting under a waterfall.
Of course, that much sea water wasn’t enough to affect my bioroid abilities, but as a being made up of plants it did hurt.
A large wave rose up out of Gyze End Bay and shook the ship.
I saw barrels, bones, and those translucent humanoid figures roll about on the deck as I clung on to the railing.
Even a flying ship like the Ghost Ship Regrain would struggle with an impact that big.
“Hey! What was that? A test!?”
I, the Inheritance Maiden Hendrina, looked back at the captain and shouted.
“It’s fine. Now, let me introduce you to the newest member of the crew,” the captain, the Mysterious Rain Spiritualist Zorga, replied lazily, pointing behind him with his staff.
Where he was pointing, I saw a water dragon as big as a small mountain looking down on us with its glowing eyes.
We were by the western edge of the Magallanica-Zoo Bay; Gyze End Bay was located at the southern tip of the Dragon Empire.
Long ago, the divinity Gyze disappeared. In its wake it left a hole in the land, forming an almost circular inland sea bounded by the Gyze End Bay and the surrounding islands.
The terrain on that border between land and sea looked exactly as though a meteor had hit.
“…At least, that’s what the stories tell us,” I explained as I stocked up on supplies at the market in the village of Cape Morte at the edge of the bay.
“However, the complex topography of the region has attracted an enormous variety of marine life, and it is now famous as one of the richest fishing grounds in the world.”
Bioroids do not generally eat seafood, but the bright colors of the fish on sale in the market were as much a feast for the eyes as for the tongue. After all, most of the time all I got to see was the gloomy rain and the spirits and ghouls that made up my crewmates…
I’d always enjoyed shopping. It had been a long time since I was on land, and the weather was nice, so I was in high spirits. I was demonstrating my knowledge.
“And yet all you find around here are small fishing villages,” retorted Zorga.
It was my idea to cover myself from head to toe in heavy cloth so as to avoid scaring the locals.
I still ended up looking creepy, though.
The captain seemed annoyed that he couldn’t find what he wanted. I couldn’t see his face, but I imagined that he did not look happy.
“You mean why is this area not more prosperous? That’s surely because of pirates like you.”
The complex terrain of the bay and islands made it a perfect place for pirates to hide. In fact, there were countless pirate hideouts in the inland sea.
Gyze End was synonymous with piracy. According to the Shipping Guild’s statistics, there was nowhere else in the world with as many pirate attacks.
The raids had made it far enough inland that merchants started avoiding the area entirely.
That’s why the only people you found in the region were fishermen and small-time traders. Less stock means less to carry when you run from the pirates.
“I must correct you on one thing. We are not pirates,” Zorga said. I suppose he was right.
I had been on the ship a while, and this is what I knew:
1. The ship was crewed by the dead, ghosts, and other freakish creatures.
2. There was an “experiment” that Zorga devoted himself to every day.
No one knew what he did when he was holed up in his cabin.
3. The very existence of the Ghost Ship Regrain in an area was enough to cause fear in people.
As far as I could tell, it was a common fairytale in the communities that lived by the sea
that children who don’t listen to their parents would be taken by the Flying Ghost Ship.
Other than that, we hadn’t caused trouble for anyone else. In this regard, it seemed the guild made the right decision in sending me here… But then, perhaps that’s trouble enough…
“So, if we’re not pirates, what are we doing out here?”
The enemy of a pirate is more often than not another pirate.
The Regrain was a flying ship, so it had a natural advantage over most other vessels, but I still didn’t rate its chances against a heavily armed pirate ship.
Anything smaller than a battleship would have no chance.
“If it’s a battleship you want, I’ve got one.”
I made a dumb sound as he read my mind again. A battleship? When? Where?
Zorga’s confident voice came out from under the thick cloth he was wearing.
“I’ll show you. But first, the test shot.”
Hydrolic Ram Dragon.
They say he got his name from the fact that the water pressure he could unleash from his mouth was powerful enough to punch through the hull of a ship even at a distance, almost as if the ship was hit by a ram.
Tear Dragon—An enormous and unbelievably powerful water dragon that the legendary navy of old Magallanica would say was “as sturdy as any battleship.”
I was still a little dazed as I continued to stare at the enormous dragon that had appeared at the stern of the ship.
I had never seen a dragon this close up before.
It was even larger and more beautiful than my books had led me to believe, and despite its obvious destructive power I could sense a great intelligence behind its eyes.
“Did you see its power? A simple pirate ship is no match against this.”
I had never seen Zorga looking so pleased with himself as he did at that moment.
I felt sorry for the people of Cape Morte.
The ghost ship was followed by a dragon, which smashed the rocks on the cape in front of us with a tremendous blast of water.
And that incident must have spread as a rumor throughout the region.
Even the pirates of Gyze End Bay seemed scared.
Maybe that’s precisely what Zorga was aiming for. He had somehow managed to find a way to train, show his power, and advertise his services all in one fell swoop.
“You signed a contract. We will use the power of the dragons as our trump card against the pirates.”
Zorga, who seemed to be in a very good mood, answered my question before I could even ask it.
“But how do you control the Aqua Force’s Tear Dragon so easily…?” I asked.
“It’s a special provision. The Aqua Force seems to be wary of the Granblue pirates spreading any further west. And this time, they’ve added a clause to the contract.”
Hmm. I had a bad feeling about this.
“Hydrolic Ram Dragon. They’re looking for a dragon that disappeared to the west of here.”
So, the captain of this ghost ship offered to help them in their hour of need. Zorga may have been an evil man, but his love for exploration could not be denied. That much I knew. No, wait. But…
“Tear Dragon rarely speaks, but he can actually communicate in the ancient language of the dragons. We’ll need an interpreter on our dragon hunt.”
Now it made sense.
“You’re an expert on ancient languages as well as marine life, are you not? ‘Provide knowledge’ is the first clause in your contract.”
I held my head in my hands.
Providing knowledge of ancient languages is one thing but interpreting for an ancient dragon is on another level entirely.
But then… the chance to talk with an Aqua Force dragon every day, to converse with a native speaker of an ancient language… I couldn’t let an opportunity like this pass me by. Hmm…
“I will join you. So long as it’s just the two of us.”
As I sat there pondering in silence, Zorga waved his staff and pulled himself up to the cabin.
Just as I was about to timidly start speaking…
I was struck by a blast of water that nearly knocked me off my feet, but it had to have been little more than a splash for the water dragon as he greeted me in the ancient language.
“The rest is up to you.”
I told you that plants don’t do well in salt water…
With a soaked face and my eyes welling up with tears, I took the first steps to communicating with the ancient dragon.
<<Notes about Terminology>>
A legendary naval force that upheld absolute justice and security in the waters of Stoicheia.
Now that the order of Holy Knights, who had at one time been charged with defending the peace throughout the world, had retreated into the Sanctuary, only the Aqua Force kept the world from descending into chaos.
In the godless era, when magic was lost, the immortal Granblue pirates went into hiding.
In the Chakrabarthi Divine Era the Granblue pirates started making waves again. The Aqua Force seemed almost glad that their ancient foes had resurfaced.
Supervising Editor: 中村聡