The instant he connected with Ichika’s Life Seed, images completely different from what was shown up until now poured out inside of Vermudol.
Those were, memories of death.
A cluster of final moments that Ichika had been deeply submerged in.
Memories of being killed by an Ogre, by an assassin.
Memories of being betrayed by friends, by companions, by family.
If there were memories of dying for the sake of justice, for the sake of friendship, there were also memories of yielding to malice and the absurd and dying.
Her countless deaths poured into Vermudol.
That lamentation, that despair──it went berserk inside of Vermudol.
With his magical power and consciousness being shaved down to the utmost limit, he desperately maintained the connection that felt like it was going to break off.
「That’s why, ……-san.」
A moon, could be seen.
What he could see beyond the images of death that were going berserk, was a beautiful moon suspended in a night sky.
「Please don’t, cry like that.」
That was, a memory of her first life.
A gentle memory, from when she didn’t know anything.
「It’s because……I am alright.」
The words that didn’t turn into words, the words that she wanted to turn into words, they poured into Vermudol.
There’s no way she was alright.
This kind of absurdity, irrationality, it shouldn’t be fine to allow.
Vermudol strengthened the connection with Ichika’s Life Seed.
When he did, the technical skill that coiled around her Life Seed like a curse……the 「Sacrifice’s Rebirth」 could be seen.
That thing that twined around like a chain and restrained Ichika’s Life Seed, Vermudol grabbed it.
Mustering his remaining magical power to the limit, Vermudol interfered with the 「Sacrifice’s Rebirth」.
Tearing it off, and destroying it……he made it crumble.
Through Vermudol’s interference, the 「Sacrifice’s Rebirth」, which was 「sealed」 by someone and had its power weakened, was completely eliminated from inside of Ichika.
Simultaneously, the technical skills that were derived from the 「Sacrifice’s Rebirth」, Memory Inheritance and Ability Inheritance, were also eliminated.
That wasn’t a problem. That was because there was no need to hand down her memories and abilities from now on.
Convinced that he had succeeded, Vermudol lifted the connection to Ichika’s Life Seed.
Simultaneously feeling fatigue that was hard to resist attacking him, Vermudol collapsed onto the bed.
Within his consciousness that was dimming from being at the limit of his stamina and magical power, Vermudol saw the figure of someone slowly lifting him up.
However, while not knowing who that person was, he parted with his consciousness.
Tucked in a warm futon, Vermudol opened his eyes.
Within his vague consciousness, Vermudol retraced his memories.
He remembered as far as connecting with Ichika’s Life Seed, and succeeding in eliminating the 「Sacrifice’s Rebirth」.
But, he had no memory of anything after that.
It was there that a familiar voice came down from above his head.
When Vermudol turned his gaze to it, what was there was the figure of Ichika sitting in a chair and looking down on Vermudol.
「How are you feeling?」
「……Nn, ahh. My body is still……heavy.」
「It cannot be helped. Vermudol-sama, you had exhausted every last bit of magical power after all.」
Right now, Vermudol was in a state where it was painful for him to move his body a bit.
Magical power would naturally recover, but even so, he probably wouldn’t be able to move for a day.
Since he had exhausted even the magical power that his body would normally safekeep unconsciously, this was only natural.
「Rather than me, Ichika. Are you alright?」
「Yes, there are no problems. Everything is thanks to you, Vermudol-sama.」
Ichika gazed at Vermudol’s look of relief.
The usual expressionless Ichika held a Ringil and a knife in her hands.
Vermudol gazed with an absent minded head at the Ringil skin that was making a refreshing crunchy sound as it was being peeled.
The Ringil, which was cut up into pieces that were at an easy to eat size, was neatly placed on a plate that was on top of Ichika’s lap.
「Yes, what is it?」
「Are you alright with not resting?」
「I am resting you know?」
When she said that, Ichika placed the plate on top of the table that was next to the bed.
「I have left today’s work to others.」
「I, see. And yet, is this alright?」
「What are you asking is alright?」
「To be looking after me in a place like this……I’m sure that even you are tired.」
Hearing those words, Ichika made a slightly offended face.
「I am not such an ungrateful woman.」
「Saying ungrateful, you……」
「Today, I decided to devote the whole day to serving you, Vermudol-sama. So please obediently be looked after by me.」
Vermudol was about to say something despite that, but he eventually gave up and breathed a sigh.
「……Got it. Ichika, please do as you like.」
「Yes, I shall do that.」
After Ichika replied like that, she sat down on the edge of the bed, and peered at Vermudol’s face as he lied there.
Maybe having used up all of his strength in that exchange just now, Vermudol had already fallen asleep.
While gazing at his face as he quietly made sleeper’s breath, Ichika expressed a small smile.
Ichika thought “I’m sure that he hasn’t noticed that I called him not as Demon King-sama……but by his name of 「Vermudol-sama」”.
However, that did not matter.
Ichika was feeling exhilarated by the fact that she was released from her cycle of rebirth.
As for if her current feeling of exhilaration would continue on until tomorrow as well, even Ichika herself was not sure about it.
At any rate, there was still something that she had to do.
Her revenge on the God of Life who had played with her fate.
That desire was still within Ichika.
However, in regards to an answer to Vermudol’s question of 「what will you do after that?」, she had yet to prepare one.
She thought that anything would do as long as she could complete her revenge.
That is why she had not thought about anything beyond it.
「……However, that sort of answer. You wouldn’t allow it, would you?」
Making a troubled-looking smile as she watched Vermudol’s sleeping face, Ichika breathed a sigh.
Although she said that she would prepare an answer by the next time he asked, even if she tried thinking of one like this, and answer wouldn’t come to her.
What she wanted to do. What she wanted to become.
The talk of a dream surely anyone would have harbored.
That person said that they wanted to become a knight someday.
Another person said that they wanted to become a Magician that anyone would recognize.
In that case, what about Ichika──what did Ichika herself want to do?
There was nothing.
She didn’t possess any aspirations for the future, and that is why she only dreamed of revenge.
As for beyond the fulfillment of that dream, what should she do?
Ichika didn’t know.
She felt that she was like that even in the lives that she had repeatedly lived out.
She lived thinking only about what she should do to be able to avoid death.
That is why Ichika noticed.
Thinking “so I was this empty……”.
Noticing a voice calling out to her, Ichika came to her senses.
When she looked over, she found that Vermudol had opened his eyes.
「Yes, is something the matter?」
「……Are you crying?」
Hearing those words, Ichika was surprised.
Thinking “I couldn’t be”, she put her hand to the corner of her eye, but not even a single tear drop had come out.
「W, was I making that sort of face?」
「No……You are expressionless as usual.」
「……Is that so.」
Saying “however”, Vermudol continued.
「I wonder, maybe this is an effect of having been deeply connected. I can understand you more than ever before, Ichika……that is how it feels. It might just be my imagination though.」
「……It is not, your imagination.」
Just as Ichika said, since Vermudol had vicariously experienced Ichika’s life, he had become able to understand better than ever before.
「Vermudol-sama, you are an unfair person.」
Ichika gently placed her hand on Vermudol’s cheek.
「Even though you were such an unreliable person when we had met……right now, things have made a complete reversal.」
「……That’s not the case at all. You are perfect.」
Hearing those words, Ichika shook her head sideways.
「Something like perfection. What use would something like that be. A dream that anyone would have, I do not have one. I am sure that once I achieve my revenge I……I who had made that my core. Once it is complete……I am sure, that I will become more fragile than anyone else. I, am so scared of that that I cannot take it.」
「In that case, it’s fine if you search for one.」
「……I wonder if it is possible for me.」
It is simple to say “it is”.
However, it seemed that the Human that became the ingredients for Vermudol was unable to.
A life where one simply lived without an objective.
A life that was judged as worthless by the Demon God.
Vermudol could only imagine why it had turned out like that……but surely discovering the thing known as a life’s objective is just that difficult.
Vermudol remembered how when he had infiltrated mankind’s territory as Adventurer Shion, he went along with Kain’s consultation for the future.
In the end, did Kain find his own path?
Going from what he heard in the reports from Rokuna and Ein, he seemed to be spending his days occupied though.
At that time, Vermudol told Kain that if he could see the 「thing he wanted most」, then that was probably the correct path for him.
For Ichika, the 「thing she wanted most」 was probably revenge.
Vermudol felt that since she had set that as her objective, she was probably lost and did not know what was 「beyond that」.
「Ichika, your first dream……what was it? Wouldn’t that be fine?」
The dream from when Ichika was Ria……the time when she didn’t know anything.
It was fine to have that fulfilled.
Ria was Ichika, and Ichika was Ria after all.
However, Ichika sunk into silence.
Vermudol thought “was it something she didn’t want to be heard……?”
Ichika had her gaze wander……then once again, she met eyes with Vermudol.
「……You won’t laugh?」
「Why would there be a need to laugh?」
After Ichika had her gaze wander once again from Vermudol’s reply, she got down from the bed, and stooped down and matched the height of Vermudol’s gaze as he lied down.[Illustration]
「Please don’t mention it, to anyone else, okay.」
「That……goes without saying.」
After Vermudol nodded, Ichika put her hands to Vermudol’s ear, and softly whispered with a low voice.
「The me from that time……wanted to become a wonderful bride.」
Certainly, he felt that telling the current Ichika to have that as an objective was a bit questionable.
However, when he saw Ichika having a rare bright red face, the feeling of “I want to try teasing her a bit……” started welling up.
「Say, Ichika. In that case, do you want to be my」
The instant he tried to say that, Vermudol’s mouth was covered up by Ichika’s hand.
「You mustn’t, Vermudol-sama.」
Ichika continued speaking while her face was still dyed red, yet with a somewhat trouble-looking face.
「……If you say that to me right now, I will act upon it in earnest, you know?」
While still covering Vermudol’s mouth with her right hand, Ichika put the index finger of her left hand to her mouth.
「That is why, you mustn’t. Okay?」
He couldn’t tell if Ichika’s words were a joke or were serious, but for the time being, Vermudol nodded.
Seeing that, Ichika took her hand away from Vermudol’s mouth.
And then, she took the plate of Ringils that was placed on top of the desk into her hand.
「Since it seems that you are feeling a bit better……would you like to eat?」
Saying that, she made a thin smile.