Having heard what Andal just said, Riley, who was staring at Nainiae, looked like he was deep in thoughts for a moment. Riley carefully asked,
“If she gives up being human, what’s going to happen to her?”
“What do you mean what happens to her?”
“You said she will not be human anymore. That means…”
“Ah, I get what you are asking.”
Andal nodded as if he understood what Riley was asking. He explained what would happen if Nainiae gave up being human.
“If Nainiae chooses the path of giving up being human, she will become an artificial summon spirit from that point.”
“Artificial … summon spirit?”
“You don’t know much about spirits?”
Because it was going to take a very long time to explain it all from the start, Andal scratched his head as if he found this annoying. Andal chose to just show a spirit to Riley.
When Andal mumbled the name to the thin air, a small flame was ignited in front of Andal. The flame gradually changed its shape and started to take form.
<It’s a pleasure meeting you! I am Heliona!>
Soon, a tiny human with wings of flames stood in front of Riley and greeted him.
<I am the second spirit who serves Andal, the red dragon who is the flame itself.>
While striking an adorable pose, the palm-sized human introduced herself. Riley glared at Heliona as if he was going to punch a hole through her with his gaze. He then furrowed his brows as if he was asking what the hell this was. Andal explained,
“She is a summon spirit.”
“The humans and orcs aren’t all who live in this world, right? Now that I think about it, there is a basilisk there as well.”
With his chin, Andal pointed at a young boy who was sitting with Nainiae on the table in the distance and continued explaining. Riley looked at the palm sized girl again. It seemed Riley was intrigued by the girl.
“This is a summon spirit?”
<Ah… You are making me blush.>
Heliona was twisting her body and was getting embarrassed. It seemed Riley was not liking it. He crumpled his face.
<By the way! By the way! The one who Nainiae talked so much about to the point of her mouth wearing off… That person is you, right? Um… It doesn’t look like you are all that dashing looking… Nainiae sure have a strange taste. Right? Master?>
Having heard Heliona’s clear but high pitched voice, Riley was going to quickly extend his hand out and grab the bladder mouth spirit. However… His hand only grabbed air.
<Oh my… Y… You surprised me.>
Heliona looked down on the hand that just went past through her body. It seemed she got scared. She flapped the wings behind her back and hid behind Andal’s head.
“You cannot touch her. She didn’t manifest herself yet.”
“It is a special ability of the spirits. The spirit world is a place where we cannot physically touch. From that world… No. That’s enough! If I am to explain this too, it will make the explanation too long.”
Andal stopped explaining. Instead, as if he was annoyed, he just shook his head. Heliona, who was hiding behind Andal’s head, started to complain as if she was hurting.
<Aehek? Why? Why? Please do it! Please do it!>
<Please do it! Please do it!>
“I said shut up, Heliona.”
<… Uuuu. Master is such a pissy face. You are a lazy bum.>
Andal shifted his eyes into dragon form and showed his fang. Heliona screamed. She then quickly flapped her wings and flew to where Nainiae was.
“That… That lass… If she was not the heir to the Spirit King… I would just…”
Heliona hid behind Nainiae as if she was the shield. Andal made a tight fist. He continued explaining about the artificial summon spirit.
“Anyway, she is a normal spirit. The path Nainiae will take is artificial spirit. There is no need for me to explain things like the history of the spirits.”
Andal turned his eyes back to human form. He blew away his bangs and added,
“You just need to think of it as Nainiae becoming something like that lass over there.”
Although it was just a matter of adding the word ‘artificial’ to the mix, Riley felt that it was a huge difference somehow. Riley asked,
“Is that very different from her?”
“Ahah, artificial spirit will be very similar to her, but also very different.”
Andal compared the differences between the normal spirit and artificial spirit as he bent his fingers. He explained it in a way that was going to be easy for Riley to understand.
“An artificial spirit’s body is going to be based on the natural body before becoming the artificial spirit, so… The appearance won’t change much.”
“Wait, that means?”
“That’s right. Artificial spirits, whether they used to be humans, orcs, or elves, have the form of their original individual species preserved. What do humans call this?”
Andal continued as if he remembered what a few drunk people shouted out when he was running the bar.
“That’s right. It is going to be like being reborn.”
“With her native species as the basis, the best features of being spirits will be swapped in.”
Andal explained that Nainiae will have human form, wings, although he was not certain what kind of wings they would be, and become semi-transparent like spirits.
“It’s strange. There’s only advantages?”
Riley crumpled his face, thinking something felt off. He asked to go over the fine details, and Andal nodded and said,
“Of course, there are drawbacks.”
There were many drawbacks to being an artificial spirit. If the two biggest drawbacks were to be selected, they were as following.
“First. It’s the matter of the mana. Once she becomes an artificial spirit, it becomes impossible for her to move without mana like she could as a human. For example… it will be like a golem.”
Riley had seen a stone monster called golem inside Andal’s cave. Riley nodded.
“So, artificial spirits always need a pretty substantial amount of mana.”
‘Like the machines in my past life… They need something like batteries?’
“The second drawback is being subjected to curses by the spirits.”
Riley was thinking about the machines from his past life. Having heard the second drawback, Riley floated a question mark on his face.
“Curses by the spirits?”
“We dragons got permission from the bastard that wears crown among the spirits to create the new beings called the artificial spirits. However… There were spirits who were opposed to the idea.”
“So, curses from those spirits who opposed the idea?”
The Spirit King and elder spirits agreed to allow the dragons to create the artificial spirits. However… Not all of the spirits acknowledged the artificial spirits.
So, the ones who live as artificial spirits were subjected to the fury and hatred from some of the spirits, which was a little unfortunate that they had to embrace such through their entire life. That was Andal’s explanation.
“In case of Nainiae, I’ll have Heliona or other high ranking spirits to be on her side, so I think she will be all right on that regard. Still…”
With a high ranking spirit befriending the artificial spirit, other spirits of lower ranks could not dare to act out against the artificial spirit, mitigating the second drawback to some degree.
“Fortunately, Nainiae is not just talented in magic. She is also pretty high in her ability to fraternize with spirits. Look at that lass. That lass… Just look at her sticking to Nainiae. Look.”
Andal pointed at Heliona rolling around on Nainiae’s hair. Andal clicked his tongue.
Andal said that Heliona belonged to a very high ranking society.
“Well, those are about all of the most glaring drawbacks. About the mana supply issue… You won’t have to worry about that.”
Andal narrowly opened his eyes and looked at Riley. Riley also narrowed his eyes and glared at him as if he was trying to say what the hell he was glaring at.
“Likewise, you won’t have to worry about the second drawback. I think it would be best to have Heliona accompany Nainiae. She chirps and chirps. It’s not like she is a water spirit. She yapps away through out the whole day. I think it would be better to assign her for that role soon. Seriously.”
Riley carefully went over all of the advantages and drawbacks of Nainiae being an artificial spirit. It seemed he thought it was too much of a bother for him to think about it any further. He thought about the greatest advantage.
“Anyway, this is the only way for that lass to live, right?”
Andal pushed the chair back and got up as he answered.
“What is this? Where are you going?”
“Ah, I’m going to the west for a bit… Before I got to the Solia, I saw something suspicious. I’m thinking about going to check it again.”
Andal got up and looked at his wrist watch. Having noticed this, Heliona, who was playing around on top of Nainiae’s head, flapped her wings and asked,
<Uuuing? Master, are you going back already?>
“You stay here with Nainiae. It looks like the thing we talked about before are approved as well.”
Having heard the conversation between Andal and Heliona, Nainiae, who was having a conversation with the other three people, slowly turned her head with a concerned look on face. She looked at Riley.
Having heard Andal, Riley tilted his head side to side. Andal waved his palm around and explained,
“What we just talked about. That thing.”
Andal checked the time and was about to slowly walk away. Riley suddenly extended his arm and grabbed Andal’s sleeve.
“Hey. Wait… What’s this? Aren’t you going to do it?”
Riley stopped Andal because Riley thought Andal was supposed to turn Nainiae into the artificial spirit to cure her illness.
“Why should I? You should handle it from here, don’t you think?”
“You told me yourself before, didn’t you?”
Andal turned and looked at Riley. Andal had some veins popped on his forehead. He wiggled the veins and said as if he was mimicking what Riley said before.
“You said… You are her teacher, and I am her Master.”
“… As for the detailed explanation, you can hear it from Heliona.”
It seemed Andal was embarrassed. He flexed the facial muscle, shook off Riley’s hand holding on to his sleeve and left the hotel like that.
<… I don’t know what to say.>
Watching Andal leaving the scene, Heliona sighed as if she was frustrated.
* * *
The outer border of the Solia was near a desert town.
Space at a corner of the hill seemed to be distorted a little, and Andal, a red haired young man, appeared with light.
“… You are here?”
A golden skinned orc, who was watching the desert’s scenery, greeted Andal.
“What about the culprit?”
The two dragons were looking around the desert.
Instead of the scenery being desolate, it was such a mess that the word ‘disarray’ was better fitting as the description.
“I still cannot believe it… Just two humans did this?”
The scenery was as what Andal saw a few days ago. He looked at the place once again carefully. It seemed he thought this was unpleasant. He cringed and mumbled.
“I am certain.”
Golden skinned orc also mumbled.
“Although I just cannot believe it.”
In the messed up desert scene, to pick a few unusual things that could be seen, the first thing was the sand.
The sands originally must have had tan color. However, for some reason, all sands turned black, and the sands were exuding abhorrent stench, enough to make ordinary beings feint.
This was also the reason why Andal was cringing.
The stench was so bad that even dragons were crumpling their faces. In fact, this meant the smell was close to being extreme poison.
Sickening epidemic that could do way more than just leading all living things on this desert to extinction… As if it was trying to let its existence known, it turned the water on the oasis into poison. It also turned fine sands into black mud bath.
“This is ridiculous.”
Andal complained in disbelief.
The entire area’s sands tuned black.
As if that was not enough, forest in far distance, well beyond the desert, were dying in black color before having had the chance to turn their color for the autumn. An epidemic of incredible proportion had spread here.
It was hard for them to believe that this was done by a human being.
“We have to catch these people. We absolutely have to.”
In the messed up desert’s scenery, if they were to pick another thing besides the sands… It was the cracks.
As if there was an earthquake, they could see several places with large cracks on the ground.
“He probably could not attend the meeting because of something related to this.”
The golden skinned orc thought about his kin who was found as a corpse. Andal slowly pulled his chin and started to show deadly aura.
“That’s right. This time… we definitely will…”