gone weird.”
“F-, five years is nothing.
You just have to live five more years, that’s all.”

If she lived for five years, we might just find a way to break the curse.
If she lived for five years, we could do a lot more.
We could ditch our responsibilities as anti-demon aristocrats and live somewhere faraway.

“Let’s think of countermeasures after returning home, okay?”
“If I miss this opportunity, I might never get to fight this dragon again.
Then all this would have no meaning.”
“That’s better than dying!”
“Doing nothing right now is the same as death.”

Mom looked at me with empty eyes.

“Abandoning my dreams, abandoning my goal, abandoning my will to fight, just to spend each day in fear of waning.
Just eat, shit, and sleep everyday.
How is that any different from dying?”
“I want to live till my very last moment.
Until this heart of mine, stops beating on its own.”

Nothing I could say would stop mom.

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I let go of her clothes which I was gripping on to till now.

“…What a troublesome child.”

Looking at me who was about to burst into tears, she makes an especially kind face and pats my head.

“I didn’t make such a face even when I saw my own dad off.”
“…Did you, see off your father here too?”
My dad.
It was a good death, for sure.”

Mom looks into the distance.

“This thing won’t chase after those who only run from it.
That’s why you will keep watch from here without butting in.
Once it’s all over, you run without looking back.
Got it?”

I couldn’t say “yes” immediately.
I don’t think I’ll be able to stay still, while mom fought on her own.

But the world moved on without waiting for me to speak.

“Guess it’s waking up from its nap.”

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The dragon opens its eyes, and begins moving slowly.
The sky was already deep red with the setting sun.

“Time for me to go.
Make sure you watch till the end, okay?”

Mom approaches the dragon slowly.
Her crimson hair starts to flutter in the wind.
The dragon stares at her, after recovering from its groggy state.

It had confirmed mom’s presence, but it didn’t seem like it would move any time soon.
Almost as if it had judged her insignificant.

“Oi! Giant lizard! I am going to exterminate you right here, right now.
I’m sure you want to know the name of the person who defeats you, which is why I’ll name myself.”

Mom starts naming herself.
The dragon kept staring at her.

“My name is Arteria. Arteria Wallfeed!”

Saying so, she slices into the dragon.
Thus, the battle between my mom and the dragon started.

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