It was a familiar location.
A familiar scene.
Smaller than even myself, perhaps around the size of a doll.
I held a sense of unease towards that small adorable existence. I began concentrating on collecting together what little magic power I had left in my worn-out body.
My words were nothing but a bluff, and my magic would prove to be nothing but futile resistance.
That sword shone with a brilliance that will cut all of that into pieces.
Ah, yes, I knew.
That brilliance was the brilliance of the world. It existed for the very purpose of erasing me.
It represented the wishes and prayers of many. It was built through people’s sadness, anger… and kindness as it made its way through its journey of many encounters.
All solely for the sake of killing me on this very day.
I reached out my arm and released magic of the ultimate darkness against the Hero who was charging straight for me.
But the sword cut through even that.
The shining sword drove right into me.
It was over.
It was burning.
My country and my towns were burning.
Raising the flag of justice, those people were killing my beloved citizens.
They were claiming today would be the day we would be released from the evil curse.
They set fire to my country and my citizens.
Why? What have we done to deserve this?
You did not wish to affiliate with us and rejected us. That is why we kept our distance and avoided making ourselves public.
But even so, we hoped for the day we would come to an understanding.
That is why I cured the illness that was spreading amongst those of you who were limited to bodies of flesh.
So, why? What evil deeds have us Elements done to deserve this?
We did not understand those people with hate-filled eyes shouting out cries of justice.
Ahh, humans, Metalios, Sylphids. We were all born of the same humanity.
You must be making some kind of misunderstanding.
「I found you! Spirit King Ystia!」
「Evil Spirit King! We will destroy you!」
They aren’t reaching them. My words aren’t reaching them.
I’m speaking the same language as they are, so why?
The flames of hatred enveloped me as I asked myself that question.
It was over.
It was over.
It was over.
And then, Ykslaas awoke.
She simply silently opened her eyes and understood that she was in a personal room somewhere in the Demon King Castle that was assigned to her.
「…That was the worst thing I could ever wake up from.」
She slowly got out of bed. With her head still a bit foggy, she opened up the windows. She was greeted with a pitch-black sky along with the illumination magic scattered about the town of Arkverm.
「Geez, it’s still the middle of the night.」
Ykslaas let out a sigh as she absentmindedly gazed at the scenery outside.
She was essentially reaffirming that this place was where she was right now.
Ykslaas closed her eyes as the slightly cold wind blew against her.
「…That was the first time I’ve ever seen a dream of the past.」
It was from before Ykslaas became Ykslaas.
Demon King Shukulous.
Spirit King Ystia.
And various bits from before that.
The past that consisted of her being accused of evil.
The current Ykslaas had a portion of those memories.
And she understood that those were memories from before she became her current self.
But they still felt as if they were far-off memories of hers. It was as if someone showed her a portrait from an extremely long time ago and told her 「This is you.」
That was why she saw these memories as nothing more than simply memories.
That was why she didn’t dream about them.
「…Maybe they meant more to me than I thought.」
She lowered her gaze to below the window as she tried to understand herself.
In the Demon King Castle’s back garden was Gordy in her golem form like always.
She was looking a little more mossy than usual, perhaps because it might have been a while.
It was likely that Ichika would be polishing her up tomorrow.
Moving her eyes away from Gordy a little, she laid eyes on a beautiful vineyard.
The Beastia Aulokk was here taking care of it yesterday as punishment, but he didn’t appear to be here tonight.
「…Oh, it looks like he’s doing it tonight as well.」
After shifting her gaze even more, she saw the master of the castle, Vermudol, swinging his sword.
Seeing a magic-user trying to learn swordsmanship would normally be something that anyone would laugh at.
But for some reason, there were many who were well versed in the sword in this country.
If they were to actually study and learn the fundamentals, there would be no doubt they’d be leagues better than the average swordsman.
Considering the abilities of Vermudol’s sword, he might be able to go a little further. In that case, it would be more than enough to serve as close-range protection.
After all, there was only one situation where he would ever have to resort to using his sword.
And that would be when an opponent capable of breaking his powerful unrivaled Attack Guard appears.
He was most likely training with his sword right now so that he wouldn’t be powerless if he were ever to run into a situation like that.
The fact that he was choosing to use Gordy’s defensive swordsmanship style was all the more proof of that.
Ykslaas turned her eyes to the sword that was laying in the corner of her room.
The Black Rose Sword. Ykslaas’ beloved sword.
It was nothing compared to the Lufir Sword that the blacksmith freak Margaret had, but it was a perfect sword for a Magic Swordsman. Ykslaas picked up the sword and left the room.
Heading down the stairs that descended down to the hallway, she opened the door that led to the back garden. Vermudol, having just finished his sword practice swings, turned around noticing her.
「Ykslaas. What is it? It’s the middle of the night.」
「I don’t want to hear that from you. You’re seriously a workaholic. When do you even sleep?」
「I need to move my body or else it’ll get rusty. I’m in no position to allow that to happen.」
Ykslaas shrugged in hearing his response.
「Besides, I can’t sleep unless I move my body a bit. I believe it’s necessary for my body.」
「I will stop you if you begin to overexert yourself, however.」
Ichika appeared out of nowhere and handed Vermudol some cloth to wipe off his sweat, to which Vermudol accepted and immediately began wiping his face.
After taking back the cloth, Ichika seemingly instantly disappeared. Vermudol nodded with a 「Like she said.」
「…I have a lot of things I want to say, but whatever. I already knew that your private life was filled with all kinds of problems, anyway.」
「That’s not a very nice thing to say… Well, not like I can really argue against you.」
Ykslaas let out a deep sigh as Vermudol quickly averted his gaze.
「Anyway, seeing as you were swinging your sword, this is perfect timing. How about you help out with my practice for a bit?」
「Oh, are you not comfortable with me being your practice partner?」
「It’s not that I’m not comfortable, but…」
Vermudol glanced towards the door as he murmured.
Ykslaas followed his gaze, and then nodded with understanding.
「It’s because Nino’s watching, huh?」
「Yes, she’s watching. I told her to stay put because I was going to be practicing on my own… but she always comes straight to me when she hears the sound of swords in hopes of joining in. By that point, any need to slightly move my body around for a bit completely goes out the door.」
「Don’t you think that’s probably because you ignore her too much? You need to communicate more.」
「That wasn’t my intention, but…」
Upon Vermudol murmuring 「I feel like I’ve been communicating more than enough…」, Ykslaas lightly poked at his arm.
「Geez, that’s exactly why she’s always showing up. Just count the number of times you’ve ever been the one to approach her.」
「…Is that how it is?」
「Yep. You better remember that.」
Vermudol nodded with a 「Hmm」 and returned his sword into its scabbard.
「All right, I understand. I’ll work on it.」
「…I’m telling you this just in case, but I’m serious about that.」
After confirming Vermudol’s answer, Ykslaas turned around.
While her back was turned, Vermudol called out to her.
「…As per your advice, I’ll go ahead and ask you something right now.」
「Oh, what is it?」
Upon turning around, she saw that Vermudol was looking at her with a serious gaze.
「Did something happen to you? I can see it on your face.」