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    “…….”

    What now? Liev sighed as he looked at the hole Renard had just created with his body a little while ago. With such a loud noise, someone around should find it strange and come running. However, there seemed to be no nearby villages, as it remained eerily quiet. Instead of the sounds of small animals like mice or raccoons passing by, there was only a quiet atmosphere. 

    Well, considering there’s a top predator like a dragon now, it’s likely that the animals around are keeping their distance. Liev first asked Renard to light a fire to spend the night.  

    “Renard, can you make a small fire at the end here?” 

    Surely, he wouldn’t accidentally burn everything with his strength. Liev asked with a nervous heart but fortunately, they managed to make a small campfire without any incidents. As his body slowly warmed up, only then did they begin to relax. Liev then let out a long sigh and asked again. 

    “Did you do that thing I asked you before the Count and Lady Priscilla left?”  

    Liev checked with Renard out of concern, and Renard answered confidently.

    “Yes! Now, he won’t even remember what Liev looks like.” 

    His words sounded confident, but since it couldn’t be confirmed, his anxiety couldn’t completely disappear. 

    About three hours from now, just before the Count left the mansion, Liev asked Renard for a favor. While he boasted that it was an easy task for him, he couldn’t help but feel anxious about leaving everything to Renard, who was new to everything. 

    But a dragon is still a dragon. I guess I’ll just have to believe it for now.

    Liev’s request to Renard was to create a slight misunderstanding in his memories. Although Liev had learned how to read and write, it was in Airenese, a language used only in the Airen Kingdom. Knowing Airenese wouldn’t be useful when he had to live outside the kingdom, especially with the Empire occupying almost half of the continent. It was practically useless. 

    In the end, even though Airen was vast, if the Count decided to release all his remaining agents and thoroughly search, it wouldn’t be so difficult to find a young child like him. Although there might be some difficulty due to his common appearance and name, if a relentless manhunt was declared, he would eventually be caught. Living completely cut off from the world forever was nearly impossible. 

    When Liev thought of a solution, he remembered that most of the dragons in the original work could use mind control using magic. Including Kevades, of course. 

    Fortunately, Renard, though still a baby dragon, agreed that it might be possible, although he hadn’t tried it. Liev asked Renard if he could erase his memories of them, but unfortunately, completely erasing Liev’s existence was impossible. After all, knowing and living with the Count for almost ten years made it inevitable. So, his next best option was to overwrite the real memories of Liev with fake memories.  

    Now, the person they remember me as is not a skinny boy with auburn hair but a cheerful girl with blonde hair.

    Having swapped everything from gender to appearance, unless Renard made a mistake, now, even if they were to see Liev right in front of their noses, they wouldn’t be able to imagine that it’s the little kid who fooled them and ran away. In many ways, things were going quite smoothly, and to the point it was almost unsettling. 

    If it all turns out to be a trap, could it really be?

    No, it wasn’t. If the two had noticed even the slightest sign of an escape, they wouldn’t have treated Liev like a fool until the end. Even if they did, they would have said something else, rather than treating him like a helpless idiot. So, instead of worrying, it was better to focus on the little time left with Renard. 

    “Renard, how was it flying to your heart’s content today?”  

    Although it was only about an hour, having flown to the desired height for the first time in his life and at the maximum speed he could achieve, he could imagine that it must have felt refreshing, as if his insides had been opened. When Liev asked with a smile, Renard blinked his eyes and grinned bashfully. 

    “It was so much fun! Can I fly like that again tomorrow?” 

    Well, since the destination was still far away and there was quite a distance to the large town they planned to stop by, they had to repeat such days for at least a few more days. When they stopped by the town, Liev needed to buy some necessities, and Renard also needed a day of rest. Liev nodded. 

    “Yeah, there’s still a long way to go, so we have to fly for a while longer.” 

    As Liev answered while gently stroking Renard’s curly hair, Renard couldn’t contain his excitement and exhaled hot breath with a happy snort. 

    “Yeah, when I grow up, can I fly even faster than this? If my forehead gets a bit bigger, my magic power will increase, so I can fly longer!”  

    I know that too. Instead of replying, Liev swallowed his laughter. Dragons don’t fly just by flapping their wings. Of course, it’s not impossible to fly using only wings, but it would be an extremely inefficient and crazy thing due to their bulky bodies. Therefore, dragons chose to control direction and speed with their wings and use flight magic as an assist. Even Renard, who hadn’t received proper training, naturally learned this as if breathing. As his magical power increased, his ability to use stronger magic also increased, allowing him to fly for longer periods at faster speeds. 

    “If my forehead gets bigger, I’ll look really cool, right?” 

    Renard, full of pride about something that hadn’t happened yet, was so adorable that no one could deny it. How could one not love this small and delicate being who fumbled with words while worrying if he had hurt Liev’s feelings so much that he even stammered on his words?

    “Yeah, I guess so.” 

    Even with Liev’s simple response, Renard happily laughed. 

    “At that time, I’ll carry you even more, so you can look forward to it! I’ll take you to even higher places!” 

    Even if they were to go higher than now, Liev would probably faint due to a lack of oxygen. Liev ended up bursting out laughing at the ridiculous promise. 

    “Why are you laughing? It’s not a lie!” 

    Even as Renard protested by hitting Liev with tiny fists, the night deepened, and it passed in silence, so quiet that not even the sounds of animals were heard.  

    *** 

    The next morning, waking up with the morning dew, Liev felt his mouth was dry and got up from his spot. He wanted water. All he had brought from the mansion was a small water bottle, some jerky, and biscuits, which he had long since run out of. He wanted to sneak more, but the water was too heavy compared to its volume, so he couldn’t bring much. It was more urgent to gather enough food to fill their stomachs. Liev moved away somewhere a bit to look for a stream or a spring. 

    “Liev…!?” 

    Renard, who had woken up, jolted upright and began looking around for Liev. 

    “Where are you!? Where did you go?” 

    Suddenly, the entire forest shook as Renard called out to Liev with all his might. Startled and worried that someone might discover them, Liev quickly returned to where Renard was.

    “What’s wrong? What happened? I just went to get some water for a moment, but…?” 

    As soon as Liev appeared, Renard threw his whole body into a hug, as if he were going to hit him with his head. 

    “Oh.” 

    “You should have told me before you left!” 

    Liev soothed Renard, who clung to him as he cried. 

    “Sorry. You were sleeping so soundly, and I thought I shouldn’t wake you up. I was planning to come back soon.” 

    “Next time, make sure to wake me up! And I’ll go with you!” 

    Seeing Renard accept his apology made him look cute. Soon, it wouldn’t be long before he stopped receiving these interactions. Even creatures that caused a fuss when separated from their guardians eventually went through a rehabilitation process, started to distance themselves from humans, and regained their wildness. Despite feeling a bit sad at the thought that the creature might change beyond recognition in a few months, Liev knew that it was for the best. This was the same for Renard. Although he behaved as if Liev were his entire world, it was clear that when he lived with a real dragon, he would soon not remember him from his memory. 

    So, let’s pamper him a little longer.

    With a short decision, Liev’s lips curled into a gentle smile. 

    “Alright. Let’s get up quickly. I’m really thirsty. We need to find water soon.” 

    “Yeah!” 

    After walking for 10 minutes with Renard, who had just woken up, a surprise much greater than expected soon appeared.

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