The man awakens to the voice of the Saint, who seems to be in good spirits today.
The curtains had already been opened, so the harsh sound of metal rings sliding along rails wasn’t heard.
What’s more, she seems to have brought something again.
What kind of strategy did she have for rehabilitating him today…
The man was looking forward to finding out, although he was still a little worried about it, so he sat up.
Shifting onto the edge of the bed, he clicked his fingers.
At that time, a figure that looked like a young girl wearing maid clothes with one eye hidden by her black hair emerged from a dark corner of the room.
It was his familiar.
However, the Saint didn’t believe they were ‘Vampire and Familiar’, and instead saw them as ‘Grandfather and Granddaughter’.
It truly seems like supernatural creatures have disappeared from the world entirely.
Now when he claims to be a vampire, he is treated like a delusional middle-aged man.
Ever since the Saint started regularly coming by to try and rehabilitate him, the physical and mental distance between himself and his familiar seems to have closed, although right now the man is a little perplexed about the current order of events.
He wants to confirm with his familiar just who opened the curtains.
The man looked at the Saint.
Her arms were full, she couldn’t have opened the curtains.
However, it wasn’t a wooden box or something along those lines.
“It’s a puppy! A little pup!”
So she says.
What kind of work does she expect him to do today, using an animal?
“…Is that really a dog?”
Whatever it was the Saint held, it was red.
What’s more, the ‘dog’ had no fur, its entire body was covered with scales.
Also, it had horns on its head.
In fact, if you look closely, are those not wings?
“But, it’s a dog? It has four legs and a tail!”
“…That tail, isn’t it a touch thick?”
“But, you know, he barks with a ‘woof woof’. Right~?”
The Saint smiled at the dog (?) in her hands.
Then the creature, that shared very little common features with a dog, barked “woof woof” as if on command.
“…Even if it barks, I’m not sure that’s enough to declare it a dog.”
“No, but, there’s no other living creature it could be.”
“…No, no matter how you look at it, that’s a dragon.”
He said it clearly.
The saint tilts her neck, and…
“Hahahaha! Really, mister! Dragons only exist in fairy tales!”
Apparently to her, if it has even some base similarities to a dog it can be declared a ‘dog’, thinking of it as a dragon didn’t even come to mind.
There were dragons in the old days as well.
It is said that the ruler of earth were the vampires, and the dragons ruled the skies above.
But, even they seem to have gone extinct.
At the very least, according to the Saint.
“Today, I came to heal mister’s heart!”
“Somehow, this uncle is already feeling a little tired…”
“That’s because you’re always asleep! Therefore, you should keep a dog!”
“If you keep a dog, you’ll have to walk it, feed it and give it water, it will make you more active. A healthy body is key to a healthy mind, after all. That’s the latest psychological theory, and in fact, there are reports that show people who exercise more often are happier than those who don’t!”
“You keep talking about ‘reports and data’ but you never mention where you get it from, or exactly how it’s gathered… it’s a little suspect…”
“Anyways! If you don’t want it, I’ll take it home! But, at least until I come back tomorrow, why not get to know the doggy?”
“…Um…That’s, uh… Not a…”
The man looked at the ‘dog’.
It watched the man with its reptilian eyes, and that vertical pupil seemed to be trying to communicate something.
“…I want to have a quick conversation, could you leave the dra… The dog, and step out of the room for a while?”
“Conversation? …Ah, I understand. With Familiar, right!?”
“…Just out of curiosity, how did you happen upon this dog?”
“I picked it up on the way here!”
“I see. …Well, anyways, please leave for now.”
“Understood! Then, I expect a positive response!”
The Saint was very energetic as she left the room.
Left on the floor of the room was a red dog covered in scales, with wings, horns, reptilian eyes, barking ‘woof woof’ again.
It continued to bark for a little while, then it extended it’s neck (far too long for a dog’s) to look at the door the Saint had left through.
It kept watching.
“…You saved me, old foe.”
It was a melancholy voice.
Sounding like a male with a low and heavy echo, the voice was both intimidating and profound.
The only one in this room who should be able to talk in such a voice is the vampire, but…
That wasn’t his voice.
It was the dog who had spoken.
“I heard that there may have been another non-human survivor from the old times here… When I heard about it, I thought it might have been you, so I rushed here.”
The dog continued with a quiet voice.
The man was slightly surprised.
“You are… The Dragon King?”
“The very same. The same one you fought with many times, never truly being defeated or emerging victorious, that same Dragon King.”
“What a nostalgic face. No, ‘nostalgic’ isn’t quite the right word. But, saying that, you’ve become rather small… If I remember right, weren’t you once the size of a mountain?”
“I quit fine liquor, lost my desire to hoard gold, I withdrew from the world and before I knew it I ended up like this.”
“So you’re a shut-in as well!”
The man shouted in delight.
It was from the joy of finding a comrade.
“We may have fought mortal battles many times, but I truly am glad you survived. What do you think about all this? Apart from us, it seems like the creatures of yore have all gone extinct, resigned to the pages of fairy tales…”
“It seems to be so. I too am the sole survivor of the race of dragons.”
“It’s the same for vampires. It seems like only the ones who stayed indoors survived?”
“Quite. We dragons were avaricious and drunken, thinking we were invincible because of our strong bodies… When I heard stories of my fellows being killed and beheaded in their deep stupours and having their hoards stolen, all I could think was ‘what fools.'”
“So, that’s why you gave up drinking and hoarding?”
“Yes. Sitting upon a treasure hoard makes you a target. Drinking makes you vulnerable to attack. So, I thought that if I simply abstained from both, as a dragon I would be invincible.”
“In truth, you did survive. Really, I should congratulate you. So, what say you? I know that you’ve sworn off drinking, but surely you wouldn’t mind a toast at a time like this?”
“I cannot. Right now, I’m surviving off whatever fruit and vegetable waste I can find. I’ve taken quite a liking to sweet things as well… This body also can’t eat quite as much as it used to.”
“I see, so we’ve both become old fogeys, is that it?”
The man laughed.
Then, he remembered something.
“That said, why are you imitating a dog?”
“That was actually the reason I came to you…”
“I tired of living as a shut-in, and descended the mountain for the first time in many years.”
“Oh, that’s good. Personally, I doubt I will ever feel the need to leave this castle…”
“That’s because vampires are naturally sheltered creatures. On the other hand, the race of dragons rule the skies. But having been away from it for so long, I wished to soar once more. To flap my wings with all my might.”
“Indeed. A creature with wings would certainly feel that way.”
“However… I couldn’t fly very well.”
“I truly had declined since my heyday… My body and wings had shrunk, and my strength had severely diminished as well.”
“That’s… A very sad thing to hear.”
“Isn’t it just? The effects of sleeping for over a hundred years, it seems… But, I thought that I would still be fine. However, this world is truly dangerous.”
“If a strange creature like me struggled to flap around, I would be captured very quickly. Children threw stones at me, it was awful. What’s worse, if I had tried to defend myself from those children and injured them, then the adults would soon come running and capture me. If I somehow got away from an adult, it would soon be a soldier with a weapon chasing me.”
“Why would children throw stones at me? I didn’t do anything wrong.”
Listening to the story, the man agreed.
Throwing rocks at a dragon is bad enough, but even worse, throwing rocks at the dragon simply because it looks a little strange to them.
“From then on, I imitated a dog whenever I was around people. They’ll be nice to you if you bark like a dog for them. I also tried to be a cat, but even when I was acting like a cat people still treated me like a dog, so it was in vain.”
“…Humans sure have changed.”
To think this is a dog…
Those people’s eyes must be painted on.
“Even so, whilst I was going through such struggles, it seems like you have no problems being open with people about your vampirism.”
“Is that so?”
“I heard it from the Saint earlier. You quite proudly declare yourself a vampire, do you not?”
“Moreover, it doesn’t seem like you’ve lost your powers either. So, I’m utterly ashamed to beg, but please take me under your protection.”
“For a long time, I have sought the protection of a powerful being. However, I could not find any. I didn’t even know if such a being existed. So in desperation, I came to this place that you once used as a lair, and was very pleased to find you. I ask that you watch over me until such time that I can regain my power.”
“I don’t mind, but…”
“I am most grateful. I wager that it will be perhaps three hundred years until my power returns to me.”
So, the story finished.
The man snapped his fingers-
And, the familiar standing at the room’s edge approached.
He made a mistake- He meant to call the other person in with that snap of his fingers.
But, this can work as well, so he gave instructions to his familiar.
“Call little miss Saint in.”
The familiar bowed and left the room.
They returned with the saint.
“Mister, what did you decide?”
“I’ve decided to keep him here.”
“Oh! Really!? Please take loving care of him!”
“I will bring a book about how to raise a dog next time! I picked it the puppy on the way here, so I wasn’t really prepared…”
“No need, I’m well used to taking care of an opponent like this.”
“Is that so? Mister, you had a dog before?”
Typically, vampires will make familiars out of bats and wolves.
Although he once had wolf familiars a long time ago, with the exception of the bat familiar currently in the room, he had long since let the others go free.
Anyways, this is a dragon.
Whether or not he can take care of a dog is irrelevant.
“…At any rate, it’s fine. You don’t have to worry about it.”
“Oh, okay. Thank goodness… Mister is taking another step toward returning to society. Why don’t we take it for a walk right now since it’s such a beautiful day?”
“No, I won’t be going outside. I’m a vampire, after all.”
The Saint laughed.
Even if she doesn’t believe him, the Vampire won’t throw away his pride and pretend to be something he’s not.