Efina's Investigation < Extra I >
This isn't a lie. This... probably isn't a lie.
Papa's lies... Oh, don't tell him I called him papa. Or he'll flick my forehead!
Anyway, I really couldn't tell papa's lies. When other people lied, this monster-y thing came out, and I chowed down on it. Munch! But they didn't come out for papa. I wonder why?
I got curious and asked him once.
"Why don't your lies make monsters, papa?"
"Listen, Efi. If your lies don't get found out, they're not lies."
Hmm... complicated. But papa told me that I was a dummy, so I didn't have to understand. Wow, papa is so nice!
Oh yeah, I didn't introduce myself. I'm Efina. A dragon! I have the power to eat lies.
I love sweet candy! But sweets don't make my tummy full. But I love them, so I eat 'em!
I first met papa as soon I was born. He said I was born right out of an egg.
And then papa gave Efina her name. Come to think of it, what was papa's real name? It was always a fake name, so I didn't know.
When I was born, even I didn't know what abilities I had or anything. It seems like other dragons know for themselves, though. Must be 'cause I'm a dummy! Yeah, like papa said!
Since I didn't know what I could do, for then, I decided to stay close to papa.
At the first town we went to, the first person he met, papa introduced himself as a "merchant," I think. And his name then was... Greed? I think.
After that, the other person showed him an inn, and we stayed there.
Then he said it was time for "investigation," and we went talking to a bunch of people. Oh, since this town was small, he let me come along!
Then, when we were talking to this one person, pop! A monster appeared! And they were surprised! Papa was surprised! Efina was surprised!
Nobody knew what was what! It was a real mess!
Anyway, I poked the monster to try and figure out what it was. It squeaked and shook.
"What should I do?", I pondered. 'Cause I really had no idea at the time.
"Eat it," papa said.
Huh? Is this edible? Fearfully, I picked up the monster and bit one of the ends.
It was tasty. So this was something I could eat...
"I'm still not clear on what that thing is... but one thing's clear to me."
Papa turned to the person he was talking to.
"You just lied."
A bunch of stuff happened after that, but monsters appeared later too, and papa told me they were monsters that appeared when people lied.
So I was a dragon who could eat lies. The lie-eating dragon! Sounds kinda cool.
But it was kind of strange how I couldn't eat papa's lies. Even though he was telling so many. Did he have some secret?
...If you don't know, you gotta investigate it! So I decided I would investigate papa for a while.
I knew all about investigations, since papa always did them. ...Oh, I gotta take good notes. Or I'll forget stuff.
Earlier, papa gave me a notepad and pencil he said he got as a bonus for buying something. Okay, I'm all set!
Papa didn't have a home that stayed in one place like other people. And he didn't have a car. So he would stay at other people's places, and borrowed stuff.
When I asked if borrowing was the same as stealing, papa said he was just loaning it. But then again, when he talked to people who had cars, I saw him sneakily take the keys. And I never saw him give them back later!
When heading for the next town, if it would take more than a day to get there, sometimes we would sleep outside. When we did that, we got food from places nearby.
I went and got berries and bunnies for him sometimes. Sometimes he ate grass, too.
It was all stuff I couldn't eat, but papa ate anything. Papa was amazing. Sometimes he ruined his tummy, though.
"Can you not eat lies, papa?"
"If I could, I wouldn't be eating this junk," papa said a little sadly, since his tummy was upset.
Seemed like papa couldn't eat lies. Dragons and humans were different, I guess, but how different? I was a little curious.
A different day. This time, I tried investigating different stuff.
Papa had a mean glare. And he had a cut on his left cheek. He told me he got scratched by a cat a long time ago, but I wondered if it was true?
Also, he usually wore clothes that covered up his mouth, and gloves too. The mouth was apparently helpful if he "wasn't vigilant enough," and he said gloves were nice to not leave "fingerprints."
Are you not allowed to leave fingerprints? What are fingerprints, anyway?
He bought new clothes every time we went to a new town. Apparently wearing clothes that matched the town's style made people open their hearts. He said even though it cost money, nothing was better to have than people's trust.
Thinking about it, if a strange guy in strange clothes came up and talked to me, even I might get kinda worried.
Also, when he took his clothes off to change, there were these stitches on his tummy. What were those? A fashion statement? I never got to ask, so I didn't know.
Next time he changed, I'd have to ask. But papa always gets up earlier than me, so I never see him get dressed.
Come to think of it, he'd change his hair or even his eye color too. I asked about that some other day.
He said he dyed his hair or wore wigs. But wigs cost money, so he dyed it most of the time. He'd make it blue, or make it green. Very colorful!
He told me there was some item that let him change his eye color. "Contacts," I think? I told him, I wanna wear them too!, but he said no.
And he said I couldn't dye my hair, either. I guess hair could get damaged. Does your hair say "ouch!" or something?
What hair and what eyes did papa really have? I decided to ask him.
"What's the real papa?"
"...Talk about a philosophical question. And don't call me papa."
The first time didn't seem like it was enough.
"Your hair and your eye color's always different. What hair and eyes do you really have?"
This time I said it right. Papa went "ahh...", then answered.
"Right... My hair color's about the same as yours. And blue eyes."
The same hair color as me, and blue eyes. I hadn't ever seen papa looking like that yet. Would I see it someday?
"Hey, you actually answered that question!"
"Doesn't matter if I tell you that sort of thing. And you'd keep pestering me if I didn't."
Was I questioning him that much? Oh well. I'd gotten another piece of info on papa!
My investigation into papa went on, and there were still lots of things I didn't know.
First, papa's job. Papa said his job was "con artist."
What kind of job was it? He said it was a job people shouldn't really do. A job about lying.
That's why when he first greeted people in a new town, he'd turn into a doctor, or a lawyer, or a traveler. And so far, I'd never seen those lies get found out.
"'Cause I study the basics," papa said.
Apparently unless you have that kind of job, you're not supposed to lie. Or else you'll get found out.
And also, papa was really good at finding people's lies. I guess since he was good at telling them too?
Hm, what were papa's likes and dislikes? I had no clue. That's probably something he can safely tell me. So I tried asking.
"What do you like, papa?"
"Beer, money, and women."
That was fast.
"Is beer yummy?"
"It's not a food, it's a drink. Anyway, you shouldn't drink it. You have to get bigger before you're allowed to."
Then he brought the cup in his hand to his mouth. Was he drinking beer now?
"I'm already big!"
"You're just a runt."
"No I'm not!"
I'd gotten a little bigger than before. ...A little. Probably.
"Wonder how dragons handle alcohol...?" Papa seemed to wonder to himself.
"So you like money too?"
"Well, you can do most things if you've got a lot of it."
Money's an important thing you need to live in this world. So if you had money, you could eat a bunch of sweets, and get a lot of stuff bought for you.
"I love money too!"
"A-Ah. ...Sounds indecent coming from you," papa scowled.
My words made papa scowl even more.
"No, never mind. It's not a bad thing to love money."
Hmm. I'd have to look into "indecent" later.
"So, why do you like women?"
He looked even more troubled than before. Was the reason that complicated?
"I think most men like 'em."
Hmm. Was that how it was?
If papa said it was true, then it was true. Unless it was a lie?
"I love sweet things!"
It felt unfair only knowing papa's favorite things, so I told him mine, but he seemed to know already.
"I love them, so I want to eat a lot of them!"
"Nope," papa said in a low voice right as I finished talking.
"Why nooot?!" You should always have lots of the things you like!"
"Listen, it's not a bad thing to like anything. But you can't drown yourself in stuff you like. Be it beer, or money, or women, or sweets."
"So how much should I like them?"
"About one a day."
Huh... That seemed kinda unsatisfying.
"Well, I'll put up with it! So I don't drown!"
What papa was saying was kind of tough to process. Would I get it with a little more investigation?
For the time being, I'd finishing writing down what I'd investigated today.
"Hmm... I tried hard, but I still don't really get papa."
Looking over everything I wrote, there were still lots of blank pages. Still lots of investigation to be done.
In fact, I felt like I didn't understand myself that well either. What are dragons, anyway? And I'd never met any dragons except myself.
Would I someday? What "abilities" did other dragons have?
"What're you doing, Efi?" Papa came back from the bath.
Oh no! This investigation was a secret, so I couldn't be found out!
"Nothing at all!"
I hurried to hide my notes under the pillow. They'd never be found there.
"Oh yeah? Get to bed soon."
See? Totally secret. I'm pretty capable, huh!
Every time I learned something new about papa, I got a little happier.
Tomorrow, I think I'll keep at it with investigating. Hi-hi-ho!
"...What the heck?"
While Efi slept, I gently pulled out the thing she hid under her pillow. It was a notebook I'd given her one day.
"Gah, her writing's so sloppy."
Then again, I never recalled teaching Efi to write.
She was able to speak to some extent from the day she was born, but to think she could read and write...?
"No... Guess she was just "pretending" to write."
I went through the pages, but couldn't identify a single letter that looked correct. It was just scribbles.
"Oh well..." I closed the notebook and gently turned the pillow without waking Efi. Then I carefully put it back in place, getting the exact angle and position.
It occurred to me that I probably didn't need to go this far when it was Efi I was dealing with, but she was sharp in the strangest ways.
"I still don't get it..." I sighed.
It had been a while since Efi's birth, but there were still many mysteries about dragons to me.
I'll just stay observant, I suppose. Dragons are rare, highly-valued creatures. I need to treat her with care.
...And I mean, I never know what she'll get up to when I take my eyes off her.
After looking at Efi's face for a while, I went back to my bed. And just like that, I fell asleep.
Certain Dragons' Memorandums < Extra II >
In this world, with the exception of animals and the like, there currently exist two general races. Humans and dragons.
Evidently, humans were once divided into smaller race categories like "beastmen" and "fairies," but have now come to all refer to themselves as human.
As for dragons... When we appeared, why dragons as a whole are born, and why we appear only near people - even as a dragon myself, I do not know.
Now, a late introduction. My name is Neil Masefield. As stated, I am a dragon. And I serve as the captain of the police force.
Our force is an organization that secures peace in towns. It might be easiest to think of us as "fighting police."
The captain who preceded me was my parent. A strong, sturdy woman. Though she's no longer with us.
Ah, I rather set a gloomy mood there. Apologies. Don't take it too mournfully. After all, humans and dragons have different lifespans.
...Yes, while I'm at it, I suppose I should record what dragons are, and how we live.
Having lived for over a hundred years, this may end up being a "long story" of such length that only creatures of my age could boast. Indeed, the children did say to me before, "mister, your stories are so long." I've been trying to work on it.
Well... Ultimately, even I would like to briefly summarize this present situation. If you simply gloss over it, I won't mind.
First, a word about dragons. Dragons are born with an assortment of abilities.
For instance, I have the power of immortality. Even if dealt a blow of instant death, I can recover with time. It remains unexplained why and with what purpose dragons are born with their abilities.
However, I have a suspicion that dragons are "born from people's wishes." This theory is one that I was told by a certain woman.
Specifically, the aforementioned prior captain of the force. Her name was Emilia.
Emilia was simply powerful. More heroic than any common man, and rather skilled with a sword, she was a popular person. Most likely explaining why she served as the captain.
When I was born, Emilia was surprised, yet immediately looked as if she suspected something. Perhaps at the time, Emilia already knew why I had been born.
In addition to unique abilities, some dragons are born with additional minor powers like breathing fire and controlling wind. I had nothing in particular, but strictly speaking, perhaps I was more physically strong than other humans or even dragons. I suspected that from day one, when I bent a spoon trying to eat with it.
Afterward, I learned many things from Emilia. How to handle a sword, and the work of the police. As well as how dragons like myself were treated.
She said that she wanted to save everyone. Her eyes quietly glittering like containing the light of sunset left an impression on me that remains to this day.
A few years after beginning to live with Emilia, I asked her something: Why was I born?
I don't know why I asked such a question of her. But a slight shadow fell over her face, she opened her mouth, and began to answer as such.
"I think you were born to grant my wish. In fact, perhaps the same is true of all dragons."
Then, she began to explain what she meant. Going into treacherous places was not uncommon in this line of work. As such, the loss of life... was also not uncommon.
When companions she had just talked with, shared smiles with, suddenly disappeared... It was so heartbreaking to Emilia, who felt for her allies more than anyone, that it nearly equaled the pain of being shot in the chest herself.
Yet for years, she never once showed any sign of it. As strong as she was regarded, she had that weakness as well.
Was I born with such a power to support her just the slightest bit? Many unclear things became clear then.
"You're the only one I'd show such a face to," Emilia said, showing me a look of weakness for the first time.
Perhaps that was the first time I sensed her humanity. After that, Emilia came to occasionally show weakness before me.
...And so. Here is my thinking on that theory. As far as I know from talking with the dragons in our care, I believe it holds strong.
Ah, I mentioned earlier that I'd lived over a hundred years. Indeed, the lifespans of dragons far exceed those of humans. If a human lifespan is one hundred years, it's said a dragon's is two hundred.
I don't know why dragons can live for doubly long as humans. Furthermore, while dragons resemble humans, they have no reproductive organs, making breeding impossible. That is one reason why dragons are so valued.
However, I have heard that if all obstacles that would shorten a human's lifespan were removed, they could live to be two hundred. So maybe that is where our lifespan was determined. Though I'd never seen a human who lived that long.
Thus, it was generally the human who sooner or later had to depart before the dragon did. I already knew that before Emilia's time came, so I was prepared.
...Though I was prepared, indeed, losing a person I had a deep connection to, the one I was closest to, left me with an indescribable sense of loss.
Pain does not exist for me. Even so, at that time, I felt like I hurt somewhere for the first time. Emilia must have experienced this many times.
I believe I would have died after only a few times. To have endured this and shown not a peep of it to her subordinates, she truly was a sturdy woman.
...Come to think of it, that man who changes name and face every time we meet has had a dragon with him lately. That was a fact I learned when we reunited in Vermilion Town.
A dragon who feeds on lies. Though I only saw her at a distance, her body did seem to be feminine. As stated, dragons have no reproductive organs. Thus, that was judged based on things like voice and body shape.
A slender body type could make it difficult to determine. That dragon calling itself the bluebird was such an example. I wonder what that one recognized themselves as.
Though I've written quite a bit about it, in truth, it's not much of a concern. When living as a dragon, there's no need to trouble yourself about it.
What of not living as a dragon, though? In other words, to live among humans. I'll discuss that case a bit more later.
For now, let's return to the activities of the police force. We resolve incidents in towns, and also take dragons into our custody.
Dragons, even after the unification of various races as "human," are rare enough to be distinguished and treated separately. It seems some lands even regard them as gods.
As a result, wrongdoers also have their eyes on us. God, it seems, is even-handed, and will even send a dragon egg in response to the wishes of such sorts.
Even when that doesn't happen, it's not rare that there's robbery and extortion, even going as far to kill a dragon's master. As for what happens to the stolen dragon then, it can be used for all manner of wrong purposes - like being sold for a high price on the black market, or traded like a slave.
We make it our duty to retrieve and protect dragons from such fellows.
We educate the dragons in our care up to a certain level of maturity, and then have them make their own decision.
Will you live as a dragon, or as a human?
First, we'll talk about living as a dragon.
Generally, this means joining the force. Because wherever else a dragon goes, they're only going to be targeted again. Of course, the dragons in our care have all been treated terribly by humans, so hardly anyone would consider living as a dragon somewhere else.
Next, the choice of living as a human.
In this case, we provide support for things like altering records, and clear up as many doubts and worries as we can before sending them off.
It's difficult to determine if someone is a dragon from appearances alone. Their ears are pointed, but some human races have such features. Some get kidnapped while fumbling around, but if you don't use your powers, you generally won't be identified as a dragon.
What if you do use your powers? Our most distinguishing characteristics are the wings and horns that appear when we do.
With control over your abilities, you can extend and retract your wings and horns even without using powers. With practice, you can also fly with your wings.
While a handy ability, it's as dangerous as you'd expect for swimming through the air and loudly proclaiming "I'm a dragon." So a dragon living as a human is strictly forbidden from using their powers.
Also, you can't marry a human. Though there are cases where two dragons who know what's going on can be wedded, continuing to act as humans.
It may sound restrictive when written out like this, but in reality, many of them live leisurely lives without lacking freedom. Most dragons who choose to live as humans are introverted types opposed to conflict and aren't likely to start up trouble.
...So, that is how I feel about the destination of dragons kept in our care.
Meanwhile, there are also dragons who blend into human society without us taking custody at all.
I speak of cases like Efina, the dragon accompanying that con artist Teobaldo Leonhearts. She fits the pattern of a dragon acting alongside their master.
This happens especially often when someone is living quietly in a place distant from any big towns, allowing them to live safely out of sight.
In addition, like the child called the bluebird, it's possible to live without others being cognizant of you being a dragon. Or the master's owner can request us to take them. Regarding the latter: it's common for newly-born dragons to have trouble controlling their power and leave their horns and wings out. This puts them as risk of being targeted, perhaps even by their own master.
In the case of that swindler, he's rather powerful, so he seems capable of embarking on such a high-risk journey with a young dragon. Though his worries must be immeasurable.
"Captain, what are you doing?"
My hand stopped as I was suddenly spoken to. I looked up to see Brett standing there.
"Ah, I just thought I'd write a sort of journal. I seem to be somewhat forgetful lately."
"I suspect it may be from the number of times you've died..."
He looked at me with worry. It had taken some time for Brett to show me this kind of concern. I felt sentimental recalling how he used to be before.
"Don't you suppose you should handle less cases personally, captain? I'm worried for your health."
"That doesn't sound like something you'd say to an immortal dragon."
"Technically, your immortality is only healing external wounds. There's still aging and the like."
Yes, Brett was right. My ability quickly healed wounds, returning me to the state I was in before. People called me an immortal dragon, but I would die like anyone after long enough.
Even the way dragons aged was a little different from humans. Our actual age and our appearance essentially didn't line up.
"Er, captain. You've been writing and writing... Are journal entries meant to be that long?"
My hand stopped at Brett's remark. Indeed, I felt like this wasn't a journal. Thinking further, I felt like I hadn't set out to write a journal, either.
"True... Perhaps it's not a journal. Maybe biography would be more accurate."
That also felt inaccurate, but it was closer than "journal."
"How about you write something, Brett?"
"My life isn't worth crap, sir," Brett said humbly.
...On occasion, he used rough language I wasn't sure where he learned. I didn't recall using such language after taking him in, so surely it was the influence of his master.
"If you write down your disgraces, it should show how you vow not to walk that same path again."
After I told him that, Brett thought, and nodded about thirty seconds later.
"All right, I see what you mean. Where should I write?"
"Just use my notebook. There are plenty of pages left."
"...If I continue on from your biography, captain, it's not your biography anymore, is it?"
I supposed he was right. Well, details.
"It's not my biography. It's a biography of dragons. So perhaps it should record our various ways of life?"
"Aha... That's our captain."
I was rather making things up as I went along, but Brett nodded with awe. It was good that he'd changed from how he used to be, but maybe he trusted me too much.
"How much should I write?"
"Hm? As much as you can and want to. You can read my part and refer to it. What you're going to write will be like a snapshot of your present self."
I stood up from the chair and motioned for Brett to sit. He hesitated, likely because it was a chair I always used, but he finally sat down and faced the notebook on the desk.
He flipped through the pages. Brett was a fast reader. Did he read a great number of books? Hm... maybe it was just his youth.
Then, taking out his right hand, he took the pen.
My name is Brett. Brett Graves.
Honestly, I went along with the captain's words and took the pen, but I don't know what I should record. I've never faced a piece of paper like this outside of work documents.
I guess it's because my life is just that gloomy and stagnant.
Oh, right. First, I guess I'll explain my name. This name was given to me by Captain Neil, the current captain of our force.
I've never asked him directly where it came from, but now that I think about it, it may be because our meeting was in a graveyard. I'll write about that meeting.
It was about ten years ago now. A few years before I met the captain, I was born.
It irritates me to call him my master, but I'll refer to him as such for convenience. My master was part of a certain gang. I remember that all members of the gang had a red spider mark somewhere on their body to prove their membership.
You can guess the rest. If you read the captain's notes, it should give you the general idea. I might have been considered somewhat different from a slave; I was treated like an attraction.
I'm referred to as a "shadow dragon." To give more details, I can pass through objects like a shadow, and even freely move around any objects that I'm able to hold.
Considering this ability, my master's wish was probably for a helpful spy or a route for smuggling.
I couldn't afford to think about such things back then, but I had a gut instinct that I couldn't show my ability to these people. So from birth, I kept my mouth shut.
Luckily, I wasn't the sort of dragon who fed on a special thing, so I had no issues with hunger or thirst. I could live a long time without food or drink.
As a result, my master was displeased with things not going his way and would whip me, or shoot me somewhere non-fatal. He used every method he could to make me speak and use my ability. Some of the scars still remain.
Why did I not resist after all that? The captain already wrote about this, but... A newborn dragon is unable to control their power.
If I were to run amok with this ability, I didn't even know where I would be sent. If I ended up buried underground, say, I would surely die, not having an ability like the captain's.
So I vigilantly waited until I was fully about to control my abilities. Until I could tear through the throats of those who looked at me and laughed cockily.
A few years after I was born, I practiced using my ability while they weren't looking. And I felt convinced I could use it perfectly.
It happened in a flash, when they were all gathered together. First, I used my ability to quickly escape my shackles and cell. Then, while they were frozen from surprise, I grabbed their legs and dragged them into the earth.
However, there was a limit on how many I could drag at once. At the time, I was limited to using it on five people simultaneously.
For the rest, I used their weapons. I knew how to use them well, as they showed me how they worked at close range daily.
Though it was my first time actually using them, I think the real reason I had trouble was hesitation.
Just aim and pull the trigger. Or else, just pierce the blade through; they were extremely simple weapons. And I should have known nothing of hesitation.
It probably all happened in less than three minutes. At first, there were a few dozen humans around me. Now, not a single human was left standing.
...No humans. Instead, there was a dragon standing in front of me.
I had never seen any humans outside of the gang. But it was possible they were using other dragons for their business.
I realized he was a dragon by instinct, without having to be told anything. I think fellow dragons are able to recognize each other by instinct.
He wore stiff clothes, and looked at me with an even stiffer expression.
That was my first meeting with the captain.
Thinking back on it makes me feel resentful toward my past self, but the instant the captain stepped toward me, I was already prepared to attack.
I believe I shot a bullet near his heart, and threw knives at him in many places. But he never stopped walking toward me.
Once he got closer to me, I was surprised at his size. I was young, yes, but the captain is very tall, and rather overpowering as a result.
That might have been the first time I felt fear. I tried to throw the remaining knives I had, not even caring if they grazed or injured me. But before the knives reached him, he used his large arm as a shield to absorb them, and arrived in front of me.
"I won't die, so don't worry about it. And I'm not going to hurt you."
I had no weapons left near me. But he was in position to drag him down with my shadow.
"I don't think much of my death, either. But to see someone who isn't me die, such as you, is a painful thing."
...But I couldn't do it. Maybe because there was still something left in me.
"You shouldn't fear me so much as to injure yourself. I just came to grab your hands. That's all."
With that, he took my hands and held them gently. His hands were fairly large, almost covering up mine.
"My master taught me this. Even if you speak different languages, or are different races, or the other puts up walls... By doing this, you can connect with each other."
He had a soft expression.
His words made me tremble. Not from fear or respect. Something brimming from deep in my heart was resonating with my body. Maybe I recognized this person as a god of some sort. In fact, that didn't seem like it was entirely
"...Isn't this a bit exaggerated?"
"Is it?", I responded, stopping. I didn't have any such intention...
"I don't remember anything like that. True, I said that line, and took your hands, but I don't believe I was treated like a saint or anything..."
"This is how it felt from my perspective, sir."
The captain twisted his neck. Perhaps it indicated he was searching his memory to determine if he'd just forgotten.
"...It wasn't until a little later when you opened your heart to me. Wasn't it?"
He was right; my writings could be interpreted as, at this point, already looking up to and willingly going with him. Though if you ask me, I was already charmed by something about him at the time...
"Once I took you back, you wouldn't talk for a while, and you used your power to stay away from the others. And I feel like you were itching to outright kill humans."
"I did open my heart to you, captain."
"Right... Maybe it was just the other areas that had high hurdles. Even then, it's not as if you spoke to me easily."
"I am a tight-lipped sort."
...I felt like that wasn't the right use of those words. But it didn't change the fact that I looked at the captain in a special way from the first day I arrived here.
I was just poor at showing my emotions then, is all.
"But now that I've written that, there's not much else to write about."
"If you want me to write my opinion of that insolent con artist, I could fill a few more pages."
The captain was silent for a while. I heard birds chirping, and just as they went silent, he opened his mouth again.
"No, let's not."
"Huh? Captain Neil, and Vice-Captain Brett! What is going on here?!"
After relaxing for a little while, suddenly, a bright, bouncy voice came from behind us. We turned around and saw a dragon looking at us, with golden hair in a unique shape split in two and slightly-drooping sapphire eyes.
Her name was Iris. She was still an apprentice, but her ability made her fairly handy. There was even talk of making a new unit which was to be headed by her.
"Ah! I've got it! You're sorting through documents... No, wait, those aren't documents on the desk, and you should be nearly done with documents by this time... Ahh!"
As Iris yelped, there was a quiet rumble. I wasn't sure how she tripped when there was nothing there, but Iris was crouched on the floor.
...It seemed Iris was easily flustered, or too thoughtless, leading to a lot of situations like these. Which was quite a shame.
The captain's hesitation to officially start the new unit was likely out of worry for that fact. So I thought as I watched the books and dust kicked up into the air.
"...Are you okay, Iris?"
Stooping over slightly, the captain extended a hand to Iris. She took it with a shy and embarrassed face.
"Huh... That isn't a document, is it? What is it?"
"This is... What did you say? A dragon... biography?"
Thinking about it, was it not something different from a biography? That question began to grow larger in my mind. Isn't a biography written about one person's entire life?
Even the captain who dubbed it such had only that to say. Well, perhaps it wasn't that important.
"Ooh! I want to write in this, uh, biography too!" Iris flipped through the pages with great interest.
"Right... I have nothing left to write. What say you, captain?"
"The more pages filled, the more information recorded. I think it's fine."
With the captain's approval, I got out of the chair. Iris quickly sat down and took the pen.
My name is Iris Ashbery! Err... My master was an old man named Franz. A normal old man! Oh, he's dead now.
My ability is! The ability to analyze anything I see! My master had a desire to know in detail what many things were, so maybe that's why I have this power?
Let's see... I feel like Captain Neil and Vice-Captain Brett wrote most everything already. Umm... Ah! That's right! I'm a female-shaped dragon. The uniform I wear is also a lady's uniform!
It seems like female police are fairly rare. However, that's mostly limited to humans. Dragons, though it varies, are generally sturdier than humans, so male or female doesn't make much of a difference there.
There are humans in our ranks, but I want to say I heard there were "less than before." Perhaps the reason is that we're gaining more dragons?
The task of taking dragons into our custody seems to have been done before Captain Neil became captain. The previous captain was a human woman, I believe? I've only been alive a few years, so I never met her.
Back in the previous captain's day, it seems taking in dragons wasn't our main objective. Once Captain Neil became captain, we started to do active work in that area, and the number of dragons in our care increased dramatically. About half of those dragons had been traumatized or injured by humans.
When such dragons become members of the force, let's just say there's a strained atmosphere! The human members can get rather fed up with the clear hate they display, so a number have quit. I suppose that can't be helped.
Captain Neil tells me that the previous captain probably suspected things would be this way, and thus tended to neglect the task of taking dragons in. Since she is no longer with us, I suppose we'll never know for sure.
Oh, but I don't detest humans at all! I was never attacked by them or anything, and my master died of natural causes.
Does this kind of thing make me an irregular? Wait, is that not right?
So, I know that there are good humans too. Master Neil even said with gratitude, "I hope we get more dragons like you, Iris." Heehee! Isn't that enviable?
"Who are you bragging to?"
"Well! The people reading this biography, obviously!"
Vice-Captain Brett smiled wryly at me.
"...Would there be someone besides us reading?"
"That is... a secret! Now let me write the rest!"
Thus, I have no hate for humans. And I highly welcome Captain Neil's goal of humans and dragons coexisting! Captain Neil truly is wonderful!
Many of the dragon children we care for respect Captain Neil. He does play with them outside of work and gives them gifts, too.
And Vice-Captain Brett is also strong and cool! However, he does suddenly pop out from floors and walls, so he is regarded as kind of a horrific figure by the children.
"...You're making me sound like a mushroom," Vice-Captain Brett remarked, looking over my writing.
"Mushrooms don't scare people!"
"No, I didn't mean that part..."
While Vice-Captain Brett was trying to say something, Captain Neil also poked his head out.
"Brett, you really should refrain from using your ability in our lodging space, shouldn't you? I'm sure it tires you, it scares children... Nothing good comes of it."
Captain Neil's remarks gave Vice-Captain Brett a troubled look. He shrugged his shoulders and opened his mouth.
"It's a kind of habit. I've always done it. And slipping through obstacles is pretty convenient when I'm in a hurry."
Was he swayed by that explanation? Indeed, these two had a bond of trust where they didn't need to say a word. I aspire to that!
"Not writing any more?", Captain Neil asked.
I folded my arms and twisted my head, but there was really nothing else of note.
"I know! What if I wrote about my deep respect for Captain Neil and Vice-Captain Brett? I could fill dozens of pages!"
After my answer to Captain Neil's question, there was silence for a while.
I heard children playing outside the window, and as they grew distant, Captain Neil opened his mouth again.
"No, let's not."
...Though today was a workless day, it was as busy as any other.
When I told Brett he would serve as vice-captain, he was greatly surprised, and even humbly suggested that I should refrain. Yet now, he was serving his post wonderfully.
Iris, too, was dependable despite being an apprentice. At worst, I suspected there might be minor hardships with her personality and actions.
I flipped through the pages of the filled-up notebook. As one could tell from reading these memorandums, dragons all had different perspectives, and even emotions.
Why did God make us so similar to humans, I wonder?
Maybe by the time that answer came to light, I wouldn't be alive.
"Ah! Captain Neil, you were thinking about something solemn, weren't you!"
Iris spoke while sipping on hot cocoa. Probably because it was freshly-poured and hot, she stuck her tongue in several times, and making a grimace, went on.
"Captain Neil, if reincarnation existed, would you want to be born as a human? Or as a dragon again?"
"Are insects or animals not an option?", Brett sharply pointed out.
Indeed, if reincarnation did exist, the possibility of it being restricted to those two choices out of all lifeforms did seem low.
How would I answer that? Despite having lived for over a century, I'd had no experiences that would have given me a clear answer.
After some thought, one answer did arise.
"If it were down to those two, then such that neither answer would be the better one... That's the kind of world I'll strive to make before my life is exhausted."
It was a vague answer, and perhaps not one that suited the question, but Iris seemed moved by my words. Her eyes sparkled, and she gave me a look of envy.
"Way to go, Captain Neil! Guiding me to an answer I never would've dreamt up myself! I'm incredibly envious of your vast outlook! Long live Captain Neil!"
"The captain truly is a wonderful man," Brett appended to Iris's words of praise.
Maybe there was a need for me to reevaluate these kid's attitudes.
"Iris, you knocked over a stack of books again! I just restacked those earlier..."
Iris weakly apologized to Brett as she rubbed her bottom.
...Maybe by letting them live freely like this, the days would be more stimulating. In which case, it would be fine to leave it this way.
I picked up my cup of coffee and took a sip.
...Oh, are you watching? You're watching! Even if you're not watching, I'm going to proceed assuming you are! Hello, it's Iris!
Some time passed since then, and I've become the captain of a unit called the Special Investigative Division.
The Investigative Division mainly focuses on investigation and cases in which fighting isn't necessary! I'm able to use my ability to its full potential.
At any rate, this biography of ours...? Is this... a biography? Or maybe a memorandum?
Oh well. Writing logs has become kind of a thing among the dragons in the force. Though it's pretty much like daily journaling now!
Because of that, we've crossed the threshold of ten notebooks. When Captain Neil and Vice-Captain Brett initially filled the first-generation notebook, they had no idea it would go on for this long.
I'm feeling a bit gloomy now. You can't go back to times passed! You have to look toward the future! Oh, that's something Vice-Captain Brett said.
Soon, it'll be the tenth year since I was born. I forgot to mention, but dragons don't usually talk about their "age," but "how many years"!
This originates in the fact that a dragon's appearance and the time they've lived can't be compared. For instance, Captain Neil is a gentleman who in human terms might be said to be about thirty, but when you're told he's kept that appearance for over a hundred years, that's a little startling, isn't it?
Dragons will understand what you mean regardless, but you have to do it with humans. If you don't use this phrasing of "how many years," you'll startle people because of the differing ways of tracking years, and you don't want to do that.
Then again, is there a problem with startling people? Can people die from shock?
Oh, looks like this first page is getting filled up quick.
Things have been busy lately, so I've been unable to write, so now I'll write everything at once! The dates, times, and contents sort of blur together, so there may be mistakes, but please forgive it and consider it part of the charm.
[ ◇/△ ]
Work again today. This time, even a few members from the Special Investigative Division accompanied Captain Neil for a murder case.
Astoundingly, there were several corpses being found every week, and this had been going on for about a month. No doubt, a brutal killer!
In any event, we arrived at the scene. The room was a mess, with glasses knocked over on the table - a real disaster area.
While greeting an acquaintance of the victim, Captain Neil noticed something.
"...The liquid in this glass is suspicious."
With that, he tasted the small bit of liquid left... Huh?
"This is... poison!"
Bam! Just as he spoke, Captain Neil's giant body toppled over. I see... a fatal poison! And a very fast-acting one!
The acquaintance of the victim and various members including Vice-Captain Brett began to panic. Oh, what mayhem!
"What are you doing, sir?! This is what exactly we brought Iris along to prevent!"
Vice-Captain Brett yelled at the already-not-breathing Captain Neil. Well, but he would revive. I went ahead and explained that to the acquaintance.
Boy, Captain Neil is such a birdbrain!
[ ◇/◯ ]
Vice-Captain Brett's hair has grown long. Well, it didn't grow that suddenly, but I did ask him about it.
"Vice-Captain Brett, why is your hair so long?"
It used to be at about shoulder level, but now it was down to around his hips. It was tied together behind him.
I have to say, having such graceful facial features, it really suits him! Oops, that's just my personal opinion.
"It's like a medal of honor. My hair not being cut shows that I haven't been attacked by an enemy. Swords would be sharp enough to cut it, you see."
So was it something like "it's shameful for a swordsman to be hit from behind"? Though Vice-Captain Brett wasn't a swordsman. But, hm, I see. I could feel the style.
I accepted it at the time, but thinking about it now, a few things occur to me.
First, it's very rare that an enemy will come near Vice-Captain Brett in battle. And in fact, those that do, he can drag down with his shadow abilities.
Oh yeah, and while I have long hair too, I was born with it. Does the growth rate of hair differ between dragons, too?
But it's fun having access to a variety of hair styles when your hair is long.
...I wonder if Vice-Captain Brett will try pigtails, a ponytail, or braids in the future?
[ ◇/⬜ ]
Today was... face training? Somehow, that doesn't sound right, but it was a peaceful day without any jobs, so I did that.
I, Iris, have the ability to analyze many things. As I wrote before. Did you remember?
Well, it was written in the first-generation notebook, which is ten notebooks earlier at this point, so I suppose anyone who started with this one might not know...
No, I'm assuming whatever involved party, or person from a separate universe, is looking at this notebook already knows, so I'll proceed with that assumption!
When I use my analyzing ability, I have a face like a cat scaring off prey!
Huh? You say that doesn't make sense? Well, I don't understand it either! It makes me angry, angry! Angryyy!
A certain con artist pointed it out to me. What a terrible thing to say to a lady! Sheesh!
But when I told others, even members from the investigative unit, they said...
"Come to think of it..."
Which was an unsatisfactory result. So now I'm doing this.
I went up to the mirror and tried to make that face, but that's where things got tough.
See, when I'm using my ability, it takes considerable energy, so of course I'm putting more force in my face than I ever would normally.
And when I really did use my ability, I just analyzed the unremarkable mirror in front of me, and couldn't focus on what kind of face I had at the time, so I wasn't able to use it.
I did try putting in an approximate amount of force too, but it just wouldn't work out.
Furthermore, it seems others saw me, and rumor began to spread for a while that "Captain Iris of the investigative unit was fighting herself in the mirror or something."
From now on, I believe I'll do it in the privacy of my own room.
[ ◇/× ]
Today, I reunited with Efina while on the job! Though she was with that unpleasant con artist. Grrr.
She'd grown quite a bit taller - over a hundred centimeters now, perhaps? Can't wait to see what the future holds!
I got the impression that compared to the last time I met them, the trust between them had grown, and the distance between them had suddenly lessened.
It was Gold Town where we last met, wasn't it? That whole thing was quite an affair... Oh, it was really something! But it would get long, so I'll omit it.
The two of them seemed to be visiting town to gather various information again. When I asked the con artist if he'd given up on conning, his reply...
"Efi would starve the day I quit swindling."
I suppose there aren't many other avenues for lying than con artistry?
Just as I wondered to myself "why do con artists have to lie in the first place?"...
"Teo promised he wouldn't lie in front of me anymore. I never could see through Teo's lies. But that's good, right?"
Efina showed an innocent smile. Then the con-man coughed.
"Don't call me that in front of others, dummy..."
He seemed to be using a fake name in this town, too.
After that, there was a bit of a dispute between Efina and the con artist, but I was relieved to see they were getting along well.
"No we aren't!"
They both denied me at the same time, but I could see right through them. Heehee.
...And that should be all the major events, I suppose. Whew, I'm glad I could write that down before I forgot.
Lately, the dragons in our care have been writing here too, so one notebook fills up very quickly. Such liberty!
Oh, I've got a call. Another job? I'll do my best today!
And if anything amusing happens, I'll be sure to write it!
It's not a lie. What I'm writing here in this afterword is no lie.
And so that was the novelization of LiEat. It's such a strange feeling that I would have novels for not one, but two of the games I created. When I asked "Everything, again?", the editor replied "Everything, please!" (paraphrased), so once again I provided both the writing and the artwork.
Now, about the title LiEat. It's a made-up word combining "lie" and "eat." It's pretty much a dad joke. There are elements of such dad jokes in my works here and there. Originally I wanted to make it a mystery sort of game, with a dragon who ate not lies but mysteries. But since I wanted that title, this is what it ended up settling on. Ultimately, it wasn't even a mystery game, but I addressed that regret in the third game.
I wrote the previous book Alice mare with the objective of including things not depicted in the game and cleanly wrapping things up. But LiEat was made using my reflections on Alice mare to wrap everything up within the games, and as a result, people told me it did wrap up nicely! So when there was talk of making a novel, I held my head, wondering, what do I write...?
Since I've been given so many pages, it wouldn't do to just repeat the same story again... I feared there would be no freshness for people who played the games. It's in my personality.
That got me to recall how I'd left out the events after Efi was just born from the games, so I concluded I would write a story around that part.
With a new story that had no game base, I hit a different wall. When I make a story, I come up with the start and the end and bluff my way through the middle. So the wall I came up against was having to make everything clear in the initial plot I submitted.
By the way, this was the first time I met my editor in person, and there too I got a surprised reaction of "you bluff your way through?" Yes, exactly.
Therein also lies the reason why when asked if I'll make a LiEat IV, I have to say it's impossible. I had only thought up to that conclusion, so it's not a matter of "won't make," but "can't make." I suspect if I made one, everyone's characterization would fall apart.
That said, even in the novel, I kept getting names wrong and nearly messing up characterization a few times and going "Huh, is that not enough pages?", but with the aid of my editor (actually, the editor remembered things better), through twists and turns, I'm now able to delight in writing a lively afterword.
LiEat was a series I made recklessly deciding to do everything but sound effects myself - I handled it all from the maps to the writing, even the music. I really do think "Is the dummy me?", but I'm glad I could finish it.
To casually bring up a third topic, I've actually released another game titled 1bitHeart. This one contains some voice acting within the game with the aid of nearly fifty actors, and it's the biggest game project I've done so far. If you like, I'd be glad if you played it too.
Again, I'd like to state my gratitude to all of you. If I ever get another chance like this, it will be thanks to you all. And it would make me very happy if you played the games that continue from this story. Thank you very much.