Chapter 323 – [Side Story] Child of the Dragon (1)
Crow had a dream. A black dragon roared out before him, bleeding. Its cry sounded so sad and desperate that even Crow wept upon seeing it.
『I curse you. I will never forgive you who coveted my power and dared to cut out my heart.』
The dragon’s eyes were red with blood as he poured out a fury of angry words at Crow. This was the first time the five-year-old boy faced such hatred, and he was frozen on what to do.
The boy stood there, while the dragon’s wounds continued to gush fresh blood. Before long, it had stained the entire floor.
“Hey, are you hurt?”
『Keueg, of course! It’s all because of your filthy people…!』
But the dragon didn’t finish his words. It was because Crow had scurried forward on his small legs and touched the dragon’s wound with his tiny hands.
“Oh, that must hurt. How did you get hurt so badly, Mister?”
“Let’s go see my mother later. There isn’t anything she can’t do, and she’ll make all your wounds better.”
The dragon’s forehead, which was already creased, seemed to furrow deeper into a frown. Crow just wanted to release the dragon from his anger, but he was afraid he might have offended him.
“Hey, if you were hurt because of me…”
Crow stood up on his feet, then bowed down before the prostrate dragon.
Crow learned how to apologize like this from Elena.
“Mother told me that if I did something wrong, then I should ask for forgiveness, so the other person can stop feeling bad.”
The dragon stared speechlessly at Crow with its clear eyes. He muttered to himself in a low voice.
『I can’t believe this child came from that psychopath.』
“Huh? What did you say?”
『That’s enough. Boy.』
“But your wounds…!”
『I’m tired of dealing with you.』
At the end of the dragon’s words, the floor collapsed beneath Crow’s feet.
Crow fell into an endless darkness.
At some point, he opened his eyes and found himself in his room again. He looked at the familiar ceiling in confusion.
“What was that? That Mister looked hurt, and I felt like I really touched him…”
Crow naturally looked down at his palm, then started when he saw a small bead starting to emerge from his flesh.
He had been fine yesterday, but he screamed when a brilliant blue orb began to push out from his skin. The odd thing was, he didn’t even feel a bit of pain on his body.
Crow’s scream had summoned the maids outside. At the front of the group was Mary, who had served Elena since Blaise mansion.
“What’s going on, Your Highness?”
Crow looked tearfully at Mary from his bed.
When Crow raised his hand, the small orb in his palm emerged fully and dropped to his bed. Mary and the rest of the maids looked on in astonishment.
Crow became frightened at the sudden change in his body. Meanwhile, Carlisle and Elena ran to their son when they heard the news. Carlisle had a tight-lipped expression on his face, and while Elena was similarly troubled, she worked on calming Crow down.
“You must have been very surprised, Crow.”
“Mother, I was scared… Am I weird? The maids looked at me like they were surprised.”
Elena looked sorrowful as she hugged Crow tightly.
“No, you’re not weird. You’re just a little more special than others.”
“It’s like a gift that only you can get. This little thing will make your wish come true later.”
“Yes. And what did I say about what we should do with precious items?”
“You said we should cherish it.”
“Yes. This is a very precious thing to you, so don’t freely talk about it or tell anyone else, alright?”
Crow replied with a brave nod. Elena released him from her arms and looked lovingly at him, then spoke to her little Crow in a friendlier voice.
“Remember, it will grant your wish, so don’t use it recklessly and decide carefully.”
“I will, Mother. But I already have a wish.”
“Can you tell me what it is?”
“I’ll marry you when I grow up!”
Carlisle, who was listening quietly from the side, gave an amused chuckle.
“Your dream is too big, son.”
“Why? Father, is it not possible?”
“Of course not. Your mother is already mine, no matter how much you want her.”
Crow pouted his lips in disappointment, and Elena nudged Carlisle in the ribs.
“You can’t say that in front of a child.”
“It’s true. You can’t make wishes on your own blood relatives anyway, and you must be honest and not expect anything.”
“That’s how it is. Crow, when you grow up, you’ll meet a woman who is much prettier than me.”
“There is no woman in the world who is more beautiful than my wife.”
Elena laughed and shook her head. The heavy mood had lightened a bit. Crow stared at his parents as they looked at each other with affectionate eyes.
There was a tap on the bedroom door, and the nanny’s voice came from outside.
“Your Majesty, the Prince’s meal is ready.”
“Yes, please take Crow.”
With permission given, the door opened and the nanny came in. The nanny had raised Elena’s family for two generations. She was already too old to take care of Crow herself, so she only supervised the maids. Crow ran over as soon as he saw his nanny.
“Yes, Prince. Are you hungry?”
“Let’s go eat.”
The nanny took Crow’s small hand with a gentle expression, and the child toddled along on his short legs. Before leaving the room, the nanny bowed to Carlisle and Elena, then headed to the dining hall with Crow.
It was a normal day for Crow. He ate breakfast in the morning, then had his royal lessons afterwards. A strange thing revealed itself when he was taking a nap.
Crow felt feverish as if he were ill. The heat seemed to choke him.
‘No, I think I’m thirsty, too.’
At first he thought he had a fever, but as time passed, his mouth felt dry as well. However, it was a sensation that felt different from wanting to drink water. Crow felt confused.
It was then that he heard Elena’s voice through the open door.
“Even though Crow is mature compared to other children his own age, he’s still only five years old. Why did the Dragon’s Orb manifest so soon? Isn’t it supposed to appear at around ten years of age?”
Crow could tell that she was talking about him. Elena was not alone in the next room, and Carlisle’s voice answered shortly afterwards.
“I’ve contacted the chief, so don’t worry too much. I was hoping the dragon’s abilities would be suppressed by eating the Zamida fruit…but I didn’t know that my son would inherit the blood mostly strongly.”
“Considering how soon the Dragon’s Orb appeared, I think that’s the most likely explanation.”
Crow could tell how upset his mother was just by the sound of her voice. Carlisle spoke comfortingly to her.
“The good news is that it’s not the same as when I got the Dragon’s Orb. I suffered a week of agony, and our son simply obtained it overnight without any problems.”
Crow brooded over what Carlisle and Elena said.
The Dragon’s Orb. It was a phrase he only heard in fairy tales. However, with his young mind, he couldn’t understand what the Dragon’s Orb had to do with him.
“Why do Mother and Father keep talking about me and the Dragon’s Orb?”
Crow racked his head in confusion, while Carlisle continued to speak.
“Most importantly, our son came to this state without having to consume human blood. It’s a good thing he hasn’t displayed any unusual symptoms yet.”
“Of course, we can’t be too hasty in our judgment…but it keeps bothering me that Crow is only five years old. He’s still too young to handle it.”
Crow grew more anxious as he listened to their story. Just this morning, Elena had said he was special…
‘Is there something wrong with me?’
He was afraid that he was the only one who was different. The shocked faces of the maids as the orb fell out of his hand was seared in his head.
Crow was near the verge of tears, and was just about to get out of bed, when—
He saw that his feet, poking out from beneath his pajama pants, were black. He looked on in astonishment, and reflexively reached out to touch them. They were covered in scales that were as hard as steel.
Like…like he was a monster. Crow froze as he saw his changed skin.
It was at that moment.
“Wait, I think I heard something.”
Crow had murmured for his mother earlier, and the sound of Elena’s footsteps came close. Crow’s eyes filled with fear. He was terrified that Elena and Carlisle would look on at his transformation in disappointment, and goosebumps popped all over his body.
‘Th-they might hate me.’
He was still young, but he could somewhat make out the situation. Elena was worried about his condition, while Carlisle was relieved that nothing was wrong…so far. Crow instinctively knew that his parents would be upset if they saw him.
Crow quickly dove under the covers and pretended to be asleep before the door fully opened. His heart beat wildly in his chest. Not long ago, he had wet his bed and tried to hide it from the maid.
After Elena quietly checked on Crow, she went back outside again. Crow heard Carlisle’s voice before the door fully closed.
“Is he awake?”
“No. I think I heard wrong.”
“Yes, well, let’s keep a close eye on him…”
Finally, the door clicked shut. Crow lay in the dark room, trembling with fear.
His lips trembled as he tried to hold back his tears. He couldn’t tell anyone. He had already turned into a monster.
When Crow’s nap time was over, a maid came to wake him up.
“It’s time to get up, Your Highness.”
Crow, already awake, pretended to open his eyes and got out of bed. The only difference was that this time, he was wearing socks.
“Oh? Your Highness, did you sleep in your socks?”
“Uh, yes. My feet were cold.”
“Is it uncomfortable for you to sleep barefoot…?”
“I want to go to the bathroom.”
“Ah! This way, please.”
The maid hurriedly brought him to the bathroom. Fortunately, she didn’t bring up the socks again, and Crow gave a secret sigh of relief. As soon as he stepped back outside, however, his breath caught.
The maid looked in confusion at his rigid behavior.
“What is it, Your Highness?”
But Crow didn’t speak. There was a tantalizing smell pressing on him from all sides. He didn’t notice it when he was alone with the maid in the room, but when he came out to where there were more people, it hit him like an elephant.
It was the smell of people. The pulse of red blood underneath the skin of the living. Crow snarled like a small beast of prey.
The thirst, which he thought had subsided in him, rose like a tidal wave.