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    “Let’s go. Let’s eat something delicious and then go inside quickly.” 

    As Liev gently stroked Renard, who was nestled in his arms like a beloved puppy, Renard responded by clinging tightly with both arms, ensuring he wouldn’t let go.

    “If you hold me too tightly, I won’t be able to take out the coin.” 

    “Sniff…” 

    Eventually, Liev stood in front of the skewer shop with an embarrassed face after coaxing and comforting Renard for a while. Even after he finally let go of his hand and was able to walk, Renard continued to gaze at Liev as if watching him. 

    “If you go anywhere, tell me!” 

    “I can’t go anywhere without you.” 

    “Liar!” 

    “It really was an accident.” 

    In this situation, if Liev abandoned Renard in the market and ran away, his head would have rolled off his shoulders the moment he was discovered by Lady Priscilla and the Count. 

    I’m really not going. Afterward, because of Renard’s being so clingy that it was difficult for Liev to even return to the attic, he sighed and let out a bitter voice. 

    “So how do you plan to become an adult in the future? Are you going to live your whole life as a child?” 

    When Liev spoke in a slightly angry voice, Renard pouted and shot back. 

    “Liev will continue to be with me in the future!” 

    The sentence shouted in a light, carefree voice pierced Liev’s heart sharply. It couldn’t be helped. For Renard to escape the fate of the original and become a proper adult, he needed the help of someone else, not himself. Liev couldn’t accompany him on that journey. He was not a character with extraordinary abilities like the main characters in the novel, nor was he born with great luck or a great destiny. He was just an extra who should have been eliminated by the Count long ago. 

    In the future, Renard’s life would change, and there would be dangerous events. It would be impossible for an ordinary person without the hidden secrets of their birth or those who receive the blessing of a higher being to have any special fate with Renard. Therefore, Liev’s role as Renard’s protector was only a very temporary one until he entrusted Renard over to the Divine Dragon. 

    Someday, I’ll have to leave you. Liev swallowed the sentence that he couldn’t bear to say out loud and quietly stroked Renard’s black, curly hair. Renard’s eyes tilted and sparkled with a bright ruby-like light as he gazed at Liev. 

    So, for now, let’s treat him more kindly. Liev sighed again and hugged Renard tightly with his whole body. 

    *** 

    After returning to the Count’s secret research laboratory, time passed by with the same daily routine without much change. Liev was forced to continually inject poison into Renard’s small, soft arms, and as Renard grew, the dosage increased. Fortunately, thanks to Liev closely monitoring the dosage and Renard’s tolerance, Renard not only did not become addicted to the poison but grew healthier as time went on. 

    It’s strange… At this point, there should be some signs… 

    Every time Count Vasil glared at Liev with a suspicious look, Renard also remained silent. 

    “Grrr, growl…” 

    But a strange sound of a beast growling came from the mouth of a child who now looked about six or seven years old. However, even though it looked funny, it was still a dragon. To the Count, who knew the power of dragons, it was threatening enough.   

    “What are you doing? Shouldn’t you stop it?” 

    When the Count scolded Liev, Liev replied in a low voice, hiding his displeasure. 

    “It seems like there are times when he doesn’t follow my commands. It seems that the experiments you ordered are showing results.” 

    Although it seemed like things were going smoothly, the Count was also in a position where he couldn’t wait forever. He needed clear and visible results. His position was always unstable in the Council, where high-ranking nobles gathered to discuss state affairs. Frustrated by the unsatisfactory treatment, he always came to Liev as soon as he returned to the mansion and reprimanded him. 

    “Why is there still no sign of him going berserk? Are you doing something wrong?” 

    Perhaps because he was afraid of Renard’s warning, he summoned Liev alone and waved his cane. However, there was one thing the Count overlooked. 

    Even dogs would prick their ears when they heard their guardian being threatened. They hadn’t gone very far away, and the instincts and sensory organs of a dragon, sharper than those of a dog, would have noticed. The Count’s straight cane flew towards Liev, and Liev reflexively raised his hand. A sharp, bone-crushing blow made him groan unintentionally. 

    At that moment, the door suddenly opened, and along with it, a quite shocking scene was reflected in Renard’s red eyes. 

    “Don’t touch Liev!” 

    As Liev lay flat on the ground, covering his head, and the Count’s threatening position came into view, Renard’s eyes glowed red like flames. 

    Seeing the expression on Renard’s face, as if holding back something inside, Liev could immediately recognize it. It was a sign that the young dragon was about to breathe fire. 

    “No!” 

    No matter how much of a dragon Renard was, he still couldn’t fully control his own abilities. Even if, miraculously, he succeeded in bringing down the Count, life after that would be a problem. 

    Let alone the fact that Liev, a human, would be wanted as a person accused of murdering a noble, he did not have the travel expenses or power to bring Renard all the way to where the Divine Dragon lived. So, it couldn’t happen yet. He had to endure a little longer until Renard grew a bit more and he could go to the Divine Dragon with his own strength.   

    “Krrrk, krrrk…” 

    However, it seemed Renard had already been captured by his instincts. He seemed oblivious to Liev’s shouts. 

    “How dare he! Do you know who has been feeding and raising you until now?” 

    The Count flinched at Renard and took a step back, waving his cane to stop him from coming towards him as a massive flame erupted from Renard towards the Count. And when Renard came back to his senses again, instead of the charred Count, he saw Liev, who had shielded the Count’s path with his entire body. 

    “Liev…!” 

    Fortunately, the firepower wasn’t too strong, but not only the sleeve but also Liev’s forearms, which he used to cover his face, were completely burned, and even the flesh inside was completely charred. 

    “I, I. That’s not what I was trying to do…!”   

    “I’m okay. It’s just the clothes that burned, I’m not seriously hurt.” 

    “Hghh, Liev, I, I never… Ugh.

    Liev hugged Renard, who panicked and cried at the fact that he had hurt Liev. Liev, who was comforting Renard, looked up at the Count.   

    “As you can see, it is growing slower than expected, but if you give me a little more time,”

    It wasn’t something a child would say, but the Count was preoccupied by the fact that Renard had created a fireball in his human form just a moment ago. 

    “Right. This is it! With this, I can…!” 

    I’m not sure what thoughts are running through his mind or why he’s so excited, but it seems the situation has somehow been resolved. Feeling relieved, Liev let the tension drain from his body and sank to the ground as his legs gave out. In his arms, the young dragon was crying and whimpering. Amidst the chaos, as the Count muttered something, Liev belatedly noticed a fluid flowing down his forearms.

    “Oh…” 

    ***

    After laying Renard down on the bed and putting him to sleep first, when he washed off the charred and burned forearms, a red scar appeared. The blisters that had formed looked horrible, and even without touching them, the oozing liquid brought a sharp pain that spread throughout the entire arm. 

    “…It hurts. 

    It’s natural since he took a direct hit from the fire.

    At least he didn’t have this gruesome scar on his face. Even when everything heals, the scar will definitely remain. Infection was the most important thing to worry about.

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