「……I am terribly sorry that things have been so busy.」
Ichika lowered her head to Ryou who was sitting on the bed.
「Ahh, no. That isn’t really……」
When he answered like that, Ryou looked around at the room he was in──at Vermudol’s room.
What was inside of the room was a set of a desk and chair, and a single shelf. With there only being a bed other than those, it was truly a monotonous room. That simpleness that seemed as if he had tried to scrape off everything that was unnecessary, it seemed to represent Vermudol’s personality.
Only the game board that was placed on top of the desk was the sole exception. Then again, it felt like that wasn’t placed there for the sake of fun.
「Is something the matter?」
「Nnー……No, it’s nothing.」
Ryou’s gaze ended up being nailed on the game board.
If he remembered correctly, it was the board game that Vermudol suggested. It was played by moving pieces that depicted various persons and races of the Demon King Army, but what was placed on the board on top of the desk were only two pieces.
Vermudol and, Rokuna.
Seeing those two pieces happily lined up, Ryou fell silent and pondered.
Ryou had no memory of how these pieces were normally. He didn’t know if it was because the memory repair was incomplete, or because Vermudol didn’t remember to begin with, but even so, the way these pieces were lined up suggested a certain something to Ryou.
「So, hey. Ichika……」
「What is it?」
When Ryou took back his gaze from the board, Ichika’s figure wasn’t there.
When he looked around, Ichika had moved in front of Vermudol’s desk at some point, and was rummaging inside a small box.
「Erm……ahh, no. What are you doing?」
「A bit of environmental improvement.」
After saying that, Ichika picked up the Rokuna piece from the board and put it in the box, and in exchange, she took out the Ichika piece and lined it up next to the Vermudol piece.
Looking at that and nodding, she made the two pieces face each other……and after a bit of silence, she made the two pieces face front again.
And then, after putting the box away somewhere, she turned back to Ryou while being expressionless.
「Pardon me. It might be an influence of today’s strife, but the interior design of the room became a bit untidy.」
「Ah, is, is that so……That can’t be helped then.」
「Yes, it cannot be helped.」
Something inside of Ryou was whispering that he shouldn’t make an untactful retort. And then, at the same time, he felt that it was great he didn’t say anything. The relationship between Vermudol and Rokuna is something that shouldn’t be asked.
This was only a guess, but Vermudol pretty much didn’t pay attention to the arrangement of the pieces. It was at the level where he would occasionally feel 「Huh, did something change?」, and didn’t notice such an easy to understand appeal at all.
Ryou thought that he might be a real thickheaded bastard, but he immediately remembered that that wasn’t the case.
It wasn’t that he didn’t notice, but that he didn’t try to notice.
What was in Vermudol’s head was the Dark Continent’s, and then the Mazoku’s peace and stability.
Due to being the king, he thought that he needed to make that his top priority, and he excluded everything else from himself.
The country’s happiness was ranked as being his own happiness.
At the beginning, it was different.
For the sake of not perishing to the Hero.
At first, that was all it was.
By creating a country, Vermudol changed. Waking his awareness as a king, he sought to behave appropriately as a king.
Maybe that was sensation similar to being a father. He felt love for the growing country that was his child, and attentively watched over it. And then, if there was anything that would harm it, he would oppose it with all of his power.
That was truly the form of a king, and at the same time, it was also a curse that was called being a king.
Having himself bound to the position, his individuality was erased. A person shouldn’t call that happiness.
No, that’s wrong. It isn’t “shouldn’t call”, it’s “mustn’t call”.
But, Ryou didn’t have the qualifications to criticize that.
For Ryou, he had locked himself up in the cage known as position when he was alive.
It wasn’t like he desired that, but he had spent his day while going along with it thinking that it couldn’t be helped.
Without seeking anything higher, he didn’t desire change. He believed that tomorrow being the same as today was happiness.
Compared to that, how was Vermudol doing.
Vermudol had his own desires, sought an even better future, and was acting towards it.
To subdue himself for the sake of that, what a noble thing to do.
Ichika was staring closely at him.
There were also matters about Ichika within Vermudol’s memories.
The fact that she had repeatedly reincarnated at the hands of God, and had continuously been made a sacrifice for the sake of a revolution of the era had weighed on Vermudol’s mind.
It was probably because he knew that she wasn’t just perfect and that she had a fragile side within her.
He knew. That she had lost her place to return to and continued to be a lost child.
Everytime she died, she would continue to lose everything precious to her.
That is why Vermudol felt that Ichika should become happy this time.
「……No, it’s nothing.」
But, just because Ryou knew that, it wasn’t like he could do anything about it.
Ryou was nothing but a substitute to the bitter end, and this body and soul were Vermudol’s.
Even the fact that Ichika was treating him kindly like this was due to Ryou being Vermudol.
Even these feelings, this reality……to Ryou, it was all an illusion.
He didn’t have the right to say anything there. The only thing for Ryou to do was vanish just like this.
Without doing anything, without desiring anything. Just like how he had done in his own life, he should do the same again this time.
The matter about the Hero, the matter about Ykslaas, and the matter about the God of Life, they were all problems that Vermudol should resolve.
And then, Ryou suddenly noticed.
The technical skill that Ykslaas had, the 『Sacrifice’s Cage』.
If that technical skill was something similar to Ichika’s 『Sacrifice’s Rebirth』, did that mean that Ykslaas would also have some kind of rebirth?
In that case, did that mean that Ykslaas’s previous life……was it really the Demon King Shuklous?
But, to begin with, just what kind of technical skill was 『Sacrifice’s Cage』?
If it was Vermudol who had directly touched it, he might be able to make an estimate, but for the current Ryou, he didn’t know that far.
「Eh, oh, uwaah!?」
Surprised by Ichika’s face that was right in front of him, Ryou tumbled down on top of the bed.
It was extremely bad for his heart when a the face of a beautiful woman suddenly appears in front of him.
When he flusteredly tried to get up, Ichika made a small *pofun* sound as she sat down next to Ryou.
「It is fine for you to remain like that. It is a fact that you have become tired after all.」
After saying that, Ichika grabbed Ryou’s arm and started massaging it.
However, no matter where he searched in Vermudol’s memories, he had no memory of Ichika doing such a thing.
「E, erm……Ichika. What are you doing?」
「Ahー, no. That’s not what I mean……」
「Do you dislike it?」
He didn’t dislike it. Rather, it felt good.
Plus, it certainly was true that Vermudol’s body was tired.
「No, erm. You, didn’t do this……normally, right?」
「That is true. Since you had way too many openings, I unconsciously ended up doing this. I had thought of trying to do this, on a regular basis, you know?」
「Is, is that so……」
「Yes, that is so. However, Vermudol-sama prefered to stay up late, and was a person that would constantly be worrying over things during the time he was awake. Since I am also extremely busy with my own duties……I do not get this chance very often.」
While thinking “you really do adore him……”, Ryou remembered the two that he met earlier.
「Come to think of it, those two……Nino and Rokuna was it.」
From what he could search from his memories, both of them also adored Vermudol.
He didn’t really know about Rokuna, but Nino definitely harbored something close to love for Vermudol. Vermudol himself seemed to interpret it as something close to familial love though.
「Wait, ouch! Owowow! That hurts, that hurts!?」
「They say that pain is proof that it is working. That is great, isn’t it.」
「No, it’s simply your strength! GuuOoU!」
Having what he was thinking about blown away by the pain, Ryou looked at Ichika’s face while breathing a sigh.
Vermudol will probably save Ichika. He will grant Ichika’s revenge, and guide her to a new path.
And then, he himself would continue being a king again.
It was because that was Vermudol’s wish.
However……would it be fine like that?
Ryou shouldn’t do anything……but, even so, if there was a meaning to why he was here, he felt that he should do one bit of meddling, for Vermudol’s sake.
「Yes, what is it.」
Ryou felt that something about himself was vanishing.
As if he were waking up from a dream, that sort of sensation.
「Please, take care of him.」
「Yes, of course.」
Seeing Ichika make an immediate reply without any worry, Ryou smiled.
He thought “ahh, what the heck……”.
Even without him doing some meddling, Ichika understood the things about Vermudol.
As he thought, there really was nothing for him to do. It would be fine if he just vanished, just like this.
Within his fading consciousness, Ryou heard Ichika’s voice.
「I will remember you. Until the moment I disappear from the world, I shall remember you.」
That is why, please do not make such a lonely looking face──Saying that, Ichika tenderly smiled.
Tears naturally came flooding out.
This was a dream that he himself that was called Ryou……that an illusion had seen.
Even so, this was surely the best way for it to end.
「Thank you. Goodbye.」
Leaving behind those words, Ryou vanished.
What remained was Vermudol making sleeper’s breath……and Ichika who was tenderly holding his hand.
And then, hearing the footstep that were approaching, Ichika properly laid Vermudol down on his bed and put the covers on him.
Putting up her index finger at Nino who had rushed into the room before long, she rebuked her so as to make her be quiet.
「He has just fallen asleep. Be quiet.」
「Muu……It’s unfair that it’s always you, Ichika.」
「That isn’t the case at all. It’s just the same as usual.」
Saying that, Ichika made her usual expressionless face.