While thinking that it was most likely just as she imagined, Ichika transferred to the Northern Army Headquarters.
Seeing Ichika appear with her sudden entrance, after spacing out a bit, a Northern Army soldier flusteredly saluted to her.
The faces of the top brass of the Demon King Army were made known throughout the whole land of the Dark Continent thanks to the game pieces. Due to that, even the soldier realized that the one who appeared before them was Ichika, and things finished without clumsiness such as treating her as a suspicious person.
「Ichika-sa……Uwaah, Demon King-sama!?」
「Keep quiet. And then, tell Altejio that I will be borrowing a room. Also, make sure no one comes near for a while. We will be having an important talk.」
Ichika advanced while still holding Vermudol in her arms, entered a random room, and closed the door behind her.
Having suddenly been put into a situation where he was brought into a room, Vermudol uneasily surveyed the room, and opened his mouth.
「……I am terribly sorry but.」
While harboring the belief that Vermudol’s state was different from usual, Ichika asked her question.
「……Could you, tell me what your name is?」
「Ah, erm……It’s Ryou. Nakajima, Ryou.」
Hearing that, Ichika breathed a deep sigh.
However, it’s strange at the same time……that is how she also felt.
That was something that should no longer exist. She needed to ascertain why he appeared with this timing, and by whose will did this happen.
「Do you know, who I am?」
With that question, the Vermudol who introduced himself as Ryou sank into silence.
Rather than not knowing, it seemed that he was about to remember something.
「……Erm……I, do recognise you. It feels like you were peeling Ringils when I was sleeping……」
「Is that so. Well then, what about the world that you know?」
「Ah, yes. Erーm……mankind’s territory and the Dark Continent are separated by the Sea of Farthest Ends, and for a long time, it was believe that there was nothing beyond that……wait, huh?」
Seeing the self-proclaimed Ryou tilt his head after he said that, Ichika made a conjecture.
As she thought, the one in front of her was without a doubt Vermudol.
It wasn’t that 「Ryou」, a person from another world, had revived, but Vermudol had gathered fragments of 「Ryou」 as a 「substitute personality」 until he himself could return and was moving as such.
Ichika did not possess any techniques that could tinker with the soul, but only with the fragmentary knowledge that she learned in the time she spend with the Demon God, she concluded that that was most likely the case. Scraps of knowledge from another world remained within Vermudol, and 「Ryou」 was withdrawn from there.
The 「Ryou」 that appeared right now was neither the person who became the raw material for Vermudol himself nor a copy of him, but something like a vestige of him. It was nothing more than something weak that would be overwritten and vanish once the repairs on Vermudol’s soul were completed.
Ryou himself, who was also Vermudol himself in a certain way, had gradually come to understand that.
Ryou’s personality and Vermudol’s memories connected……And then, Ryou completely understood.
That he himself, had already died.
That he met with the Demon God.
That this place was a world called Remfilia.
That this body was of a person called Vermudol, and that even this soul was something different from his own.
……And then, that he himself that was here wasn’t Ryou himself.
The memories that he could remember were all things he could remember as Vermudol, and the memories as Ryou were nothing but vague fragments.
It was a situation where one would normally go into a derangement, but Ryou calmly accepted it.
It was composure that could surprise even himself, but that was also proof that the current Ryou was actually Vermudol.
「Well then, I shall introduce myself. I am……」
「Ichika, -san……isn’t it.」
「Yes. To think that name would come out……」
Ryou gave a nod to Ichika.
「It’s only little by little but……I’m starting, to understand.」
With a face that looked a bit lonely……but seemed to have given up, Ryou muttered that.
「I……am no longer me, am I.」
Demon King Vermudol. A new person that was made with Ryou as the raw materials.
Ryou understood that his current self was nothing but a substitute for him.
「……That is correct.」
Ichika said that and nodded.
She was able to comfort the Ryou that was in front of her, but there was no meaning to something like that.
That was something Ichika was able to understand because she had repeatedly reincarnated.
It was different from the process that Vermudol was made from Ryou, but if the current Ichika and Ria were to be compared, they were like different people. If the past Ria were to see Ichika, there was no mistake that she would say they were different people.
In Ryou’s case, since the Demon God had recomposed even his soul, that deviation was surely obvious.
However, there was no longer any other choice but to give up on it.
Just as Ria was the past to Ichika, Ryou was also Vermudol’s past.
The fact that he was here itself was irregular, but even so, as long as he was here right now, she needed to carry out her duties.
「Ryou-sama. The current you is Vermudol-sama. First, please be strongly self-aware of that.」
「Yes, I know.」
Ryou said that and smiled.
「He, left the house-sitting to me. Although I don’t know how much I’ll be able to do……I can at least manage being his substitute.」
Hearing those words, after sinking into a bit of silence, Ichika nodded.
「Yes, please do. In addition to the attack on the Zadark Kingdom, the Demon King Castle was destroyed……If Vermudol-sama, the Demon King, were to collapse on top of all of that, disorder of the country would be inevitable. I believe that he had most likely thought of that, and entrusted things to you in his absence but……」
Even if it was just the attack on the Zadark Kingdom, it was a large shock for the Mazoku that had started to accept peace.
The situation of the destruction of the Demon King Castle had been added to that. Since the Demon King Castle was at the center of the capital city of Arkverm, they were unable to hide its destruction and collapse.
In order to suppress the agitation within the country, there was a need to make the appeal that the Demon King was in good health.
「That’s, true. Although it’s not like I understand everything, according to my memories, it looks like……he’s in the middle of repair and can’t come out. It looks like he didn’t have enough time and someone like me came out though.」
「……Do you know the cause of him going into being in the middle of repairs?」
Ryou shook his head sideways at Ichika’s question.
「Sorry. I don’t know that.」
「Is that so……No, that cannot be helped.」
After saying that sounding a bit sad, Ichika focused on Ryou with a serious face.
「……Now then, I believe that you understand this but.」
「Yes, the fact that I am actually a recycled soul that was scrapped in another world is not something that should be made known……right?」
That was a line that Ichika had said when she had first met Vermudol. Ichika herself had remembered that, and quickly averted her eyes.
「Yes, exactly. Demon King-sama is unique and absolute. Factors that would raise suspicion of that should be hidden to the best of your ability.」
This also went for the Four Cardinal Generals who were his trusted retainers. They didn’t think that something of this level would turn into a main cause for treason, but the thought of something like 「because he was a former Human」 being created within them should be avoided.
The Demon King is the genuine summit of the Mazoku. Making them think that was the best thing to do.
Ichika thought that it would be for the best to eliminate any dangers that would develop unexpected situations through the loyalty of the Mazoku that was much too high as much as possible.
「……Thinking about it that way, I’m pretty unsuitable for this, aren’t I. I am the evidence of that very thing after all.」
「I believe that as well. Therefore, first, please correct your tone. Adding “-san” towards me is prohibited as well.」
Vermudol basically did not use polite language. First, there was a need to fix that part at the very least.
「Make sure you do not let your face turn red. Since there are people that will be particularly suspicious of it.」
「I, I’ll……work on it……」
Seeing Ryou’s unreliable state, Ichika breathed a sigh.
He was like Vermudol when they had first met. No, did the Vermudol of that time have a bit more solemnity?
「It is not “um”. It is “oi”.」
「I don’t want to do that since it seems like I’m a husband with a terrible attitude……」
Ichika shook her head sidways at Ryou who was scratching his head looking troubled.
「It is not that the attitude is bad, that way of dealing with people is necessary. Please think about what it means to be the sole and absolute one. There is something known as an appropriate attitude for that.」
「Ah……Un. I’ll work on it.」
Although she thought “will this really be alright……?”, Ichika knelt down in front of Ryou.
「……There is no need to think that hard about it. I will follow up with you.」
「Un……no, yeah. I’ll be in your care, Ichika. That’s right, I’m originally a Human that is dead. That kind of guy won’t butt in on all of this.」
That’s right, Ryou was nothing more than the faint fragments of the dead Nakajima Ryou that remained within Vermudol and that were gathered up and composed a vestige of him. If put in another way, his existence itself was an illusion. Or, a dream……maybe.
An ephemeral dream that would vanish once Vermudol awakened.
It was because he understood that that Ryou smiled with a lonely face.
「……That isn’t the case at all. You yourself might not be able to understand but……」
「Yeah, I know. I know……」
Ichika worryingly looked at that Ryou’s state.
That indivisible feeling that he had even if he understood it in his head, Ichika, who had continually reincarnated, understood it very well.
Originally, it was something where one would make a clear division from his previous self by taking some time to do so, but the current Ryou, he didn’t even desire that.
No, to begin with, was it impossible to make a clear division for Ryou who would immediately vanish?
Not knowing what she should say to him, Ichika was unable to do anything but sink into silence.
「Let’s go, Ichika. If we are absent for too long, everyone will worry, right?」
The moment Ichika answered, the door to the room was gently knocked on.