「…Oh, is that really what my face looks like?」
「It sure is. The real reason you came here is probably because of that, right?」
「I suppose so. But it’s fine. I just had a strange dream, so I came here to distract my mind for a bit.」
「Hmm, I see.」
Vermudol nodded and looked up at the stone statue in the back garden.
And then the eyes of the statue, aka Gordy’s golem form, glowed up and looked down at Vermudol.
「Understood. I will temporarily resign from my post.」
Gordy then spread out her wings and began flying to the skies above the Demon King Castle.
「Is that really something you’d say in this kind of situation?」
「Give her a break. She’s the type of person to be really diligent when it comes to serving her role.」
Vermudol spoke while shrugging his shoulders and then returned his gaze to Ykslaas.
「Could it be that it’s something you don’t want to talk about here?」
「…No, it’s not that big a deal.」
「Is that so?」
Ykslaas spoke while letting out a sigh.
「I just saw a dream of my past for a little bit. That’s all.」
「A dream of your past, huh?」
「Right. The past. A dream of me getting erased in the past. A dream of my people getting erased after being accused of being evil beings」
After a short silence, Vermudol opened his mouth to say something, but then closed it without saying a word.
Ykslaas put her finger to her lips and smirked upon seeing that Vermudol appeared to be struggling for words.
「It looks like you’re having trouble finding the right words. Don’t worry about it, it’s not like I expected you to console me.」
「…I see. But it’s kind of frustrating knowing that I can’t think of what to say.」
「It’s no big deal. The more words you say, the less weight that comes along with them. Don’t you think it’d be fine to leave it at that?」
Vermudol murmured 「I see… That’s pretty difficult.」 and let out a sigh.
「That’s right, it is difficult. Especially for you.」
Being that Vermudol was the Demon King, he couldn’t afford to say anything rash. And there were moments where even after considering several things he could possibly say, he still couldn’t find the right words, and he would suffer greatly from it.
「Well, I’ll try my best.」
「Oh, now that’s a nice line to use when trying to escape the subject. Have you ever been told that you don’t have to try as long as you produce the results?」
「If the results can be produced without trying, that just means that the task was not on a very difficult level in the first place. There’d be no point in challenging yourself to accomplish it.」
Ykslaas responded with 「I suppose that’s true」, and then unsheathed her Black Rose Sword.
「…Hey, Vermudol. What if you couldn’t produce the results no matter how hard you tried? What would you do then?」
「Nothing. I’d either try harder or look for other options.」
「In that case, what if the results of your efforts brought you closer and closer to death? And there’d be nowhere to run?」
「Then I’d face it head-on. That’s all there is to it.」
After responding, Vermudol looked down on Ykslaas… and then began ruffling her hair.
「H-Hey, what do you think you’re doing?!」
「Rubbing your head.」
「I know that, but… Okay, stop! My hair gets tangled really easily, so it can get to be a real pain!」
「Hmm, you’re right. It’s all tangled up now.」
「Huh?! Hey! Ow! That hurts!」
Vermudol tried to get his hand out as Ykslaas continued to whine.
After finally managing to get it out, Ykslaas glared at Vermudol with her shoulders heaving.
「You totally ruined the serious mood, geez!」
「…It’s fine. Like I said earlier, it’s not that big a deal.」
As Ykslaas combed her hair with her fingers, she glared at Vermudol who had stretched out both his arms.
「Save that for another girl, not me.」
Vermudol awkwardly lowered his hands back down and let out a deep sigh, to which Ykslaas lowered her shoulders with incredulity.
「…Sigh. Seriously. Why did you even think of rubbing my head in the first place?」
「I thought that was what I should have done.」
「I guess it doesn’t really matter anymore, but it was a serious conversation, you know?」
Vermudol nodded to Ykslaas’ glare.
「I know, but there was no point in continuing it. Ykslaas… I’m well aware of your past. At the very least, in regards to the Spirit Kingdom, it wasn’t your fault.」
Ykslaas twitched in response to those words, and she stared at Vermudol.
「…That reminds me, you directly touched my Seed of Life, right?」
「Well, yeah. I saw all kinds of things from it.」
「You don’t know when to show reserve.」
「I’m well aware.」
Ykslaas made a wry smile upon hearing Vermudol’s response.
「Well, whatever. But you see, Vermudol, in regards to the Spirit Kingdom… it really was my past self’s fault.」
「What do you mean? I find that hard to believe.」
If the Spirit Kingdom Lucretio didn’t fall because of the Elements, then it couldn’t have been Ystia’s fault either. The members of humanity who turned on their fellow members of humanity due to their twisted hearts were at fault.
「You don’t understand, Vermudol. In the end, the responsibility of a kingdom all falls to the king. No matter what might happen, a country’s king must take responsibility. That is the king’s duty as a ruler.」
「You say that, but what could you have possibly done in that situation?」
「I could have ignored the blight that was spreading across humanity. That way, humanity would be forced to research methods to counteract against the blight, improve their technology, and ultimately lose the sense of inferiority they might have held towards the Elements.」
That is one way to look at it. But it very well could have turned into a situation where they would think 「The Elements didn’t save humanity. They really are the cause of everything.」 In fact, that is what most likely would have happened.
「Essentially, due to the fact that I did not consider every option I had at my disposal, I failed as a king.」
「Every option you had, huh?」
「Right. Of course, it’s not like every option I had would lead my country in the right direction. The path to glory could very well be the path to the light of destruction. It could be that there’s no way to know what the right path is from the very start, but in the end, I led my country to destruction.」
The young girl who had the role of evil pushed onto her looked up at Vermudol.
「Perhaps a clown like me never had a future laid out for me in the first place. But you’re different. I know you’re different.」
Yes, that is the feeling I’m getting.
Seeing as Vermudol has consistently been challenging the God of Life Philia’s scenario, it was very likely that he’d be able to grasp the correct answer to the future that Ykslaas could never even imagine.
「Hey, Vermudol. I want you to show me. Show me the future that you’ll make.」
「…All right. I promise.」
Vermudol nodded as he spoke.
「If the gods did not lay out a future for you, then I, the Demon King, shall do so in their place. I promise that you’ll have a place in the future I make. Well, I can’t ensure that you’ll be happy with it, though.」
「…Are you sure you can make a promise like that so easily? You do understand the weight that comes with a king’s words, right?」
But even so, Vermudol’s response would not change.
「If I can’t even keep a promise like that, then there’d be no way I’d be able to make the future I desire.」
Vermudol responded without a hint of hesitation.
Ykslaas gazed at his expression of confidence… and eventually squinted from how radiant it was.