Ruri is “out” to the Nation of the Dragon King, having revealed that she is actually a human and not a small, adorable white cat beloved by the spirits, and thanks in part to her the conflict with the Land of Nadasha is also over. Ruri is thrilled to no longer have to worry about her old classmate interfering with her life again and she’s even been able to contact her family back on Earth!
But there’s always more conflict to be had and, with a shadowy organization targeting Beloveds out of religious zealotry, Ruri’s life may remain eventful for the foreseeable future.
The one big thing that I wanted to happen in this volume, Ruri’s family joining her in the Nation of the Dragon King, hasn’t happened yet but, as Ruri is preparing for their arrival, someone voices the same question I had in volume 2: if Ruri’s mother and grandfather have always been able to see spirits, does this mean that they’re also Beloveds? Since, as we see in this volume, having multiple Beloveds near each other, or even just in the same country, can easily lead to some fireworks!
After having been kept purposefully isolated from other Beloveds due to international treaties (Beloveds aren’t equal in their appeal to the spirits and everyone would rather remain in the dark about who’s more “powerful” than risk setting off power struggles), not one but two end up staying in the royal castle along with Ruri and nobody is particularly happy about this. While a Beloved can bring about a period of great prosperity to a country, simply by attracting spirits with their “good vibes” (i.e, tasty mana), they’re also potential natural disasters given mortal form; if a Beloved becomes unhappy then they might command spirits to stop lending their magical aid to ordinary citizens, or the spirits might do that of their own volition.
Not only does that set-up have the entire royal castle on edge but these two other Beloveds are also rather unsubtle in how they would like to take Ruri’s place as the Beloved of the Nation of the Dragon King! Even ordinarily this would have been a frustrating situation but now that the close advisors to the dragon king Jade have realized that he’s madly in love with Ruri, the first time he’s ever shown interested in being with someone, well, swapping Beloveds isn’t an option and they’re just hoping that they can make it through this without any (literal) explosions of hostilities.
I was a little surprised that the reason behind the gathering of Beloveds, being targeted by the Church of God’s Light group, wasn’t completely wrapped up in this volume as I had expected. It stands to reason that they’ll be an antagonistic force in volume four as well, and possibly in the fifth and final volume. I was glad to find out that this series wraps up in volume five and with what looks like a wedding on the cover! As much as I’ve enjoyed this series, the “will Ruri notice Jade is in love with her or won’t she” romantic plot is already being strained to the breaking point; other characters in the royal castle have straight up told Ruri “these are things dragonkin do when courting someone, you know, what you see Jade doing towards you” and yet Ruri is completely failing to make any connection. Clearly Jade is going to have to go about this the “human” way and profess his love to her in no uncertain terms, no more of this “making an obvious effort to hand feed Ruri” or “giving her the scales that reside directly over his heart as a gift!”
Despite the potential danger to Ruri’s life, with the Church of God’s Light running around trying to kill the Beloveds with methods that can evade even the spirits, the biggest tension in this volume is the romantic plot; Ruri remains unbelievably “powerful” in regards to just how many spirits like her and it’s tough to believe that she could ever be in a situation where she didn’t have at least some of these allies to draw upon for help. It’s even hinted that Ruri is probably the “strongest” current Beloved, possibly even the strongest in centuries, and this has given her access to so many things that it’s rather tempting to think of her life now as the “easy life!” What a change that is from the life she used to have, where being thrown into a wild forest in another world was preferable to spending another second more around her old classmate or where she was too worried to admit she was human! The title for the series doesn’t quite fit anymore but it remains a charming series nonetheless.