It’s Ko-Fi’s Supporters’ chapter (53/87), enjoy~
Two days later, it was the coldest morning in recent times. It had been a little over three hours since they left town.
There were only trees and snow as far as the eye could see. Looking up at the sky, there were huge birds and the shadows of wyvern-like monsters, but on the ground, they rarely saw any monsters at all.
Even though they encountered them a few times along the way, they were scared off by the number of people in the group and ran away.
“Isn’t everything going too well?”
Ain said, and Lloyd laughed.
“The other day’s incident with the Upashikamui is probably still fresh in their minds. Even the strongest monsters in the area are hiding in fear of it.”
“Oh… but it’s been almost three days, right?”
“They’re monsters, after all. They can hide for weeks if they want to.”
It’s not that Ain is feeling inadequate. Things were simply going too well, and he was worried that something might go wrong later on.
“By the way…”
Dill opened his mouth.
“I went to Count Baltic’s mansion yesterday. I went to tell him that Ain-sama was leaving for the former Demon Lord’s territory, but he was surprised.”
“It can’t be helped. We felt the same way.”
“Right. On that occasion, I also heard the adventurers’ voices, and they said some interesting things.”
“Yes. They said that Ain-sama has the capacity to be a king, even surpassing the first king.”
“Fumu… that’s a bit disrespectful, but I understand.”
“No, no, no, you shouldn’t say that.”
Ain rebuked, but Dill and the royal knights agreed with Lloyd’s voice.
“But I can understand why adventurers admire you.”
“As I said, Lloyd-san, that’s──”
“Ain-sama, it is as my father said. In the end, the Upashikamui was dealt with by you alone, and it is human nature to want to compare the two, considering the past.”
“But that’s just it. There are some people who don’t think it’s a wise idea to compare me with the first king.”
Lloyd and Dill laughed at the rebuke again.
They are not trying to put down the first king and lift up Ain. They were simply saying that they thought that Ain’s achievement this time was worth it.
As the group walked bustling about, a tree swayed in front of their gaze. They could see an eight-eyed rabbit’s appearance beside a low tree.
It’s delicious food! Ain, whose appetite was aroused, drew his sword.
The rabbit let out an unusual cry and disappeared in the blink of an eye. Chasing it is not an option, and he has to give up.
“Ahhhh! My food!”
“A-Ain-sama… It’s not food; it’s the eight-eyed rabbit…”
Dill sighed in exhaustion.
“I’ve heard they’re delicious, and since I’ve got the chance, I thought I’d hunt them down.”
“I’ll tell my mother to have the castle stock it, so please let it go this time.”
“W-what a pity!”
“You may pursue it, but I’ll let Lady Krone know if you do.”
“All right, let’s move on.”
He didn’t want to be told that he was chasing a monster around because of his appetite. He didn’t want to get scolded for it, and more importantly, it was embarrassing.
“I’m glad you understand.”
“Hahahahaha! You seem to be enjoying yourself, Ain-Sama ── Mm?”
“Not that I’m having fun or anything, but… eh… that?”
Lloyd noticed it first, and at about the same time, Ain also noticed it. Dill was the last to notice.
“Dill, stay with Ain-sama.”
There is something out there, and although they can’t see it, it’s watching them.
“It seems to have disappeared.”
The sign disappears quickly. It was as if it had never been there in the first place, and all of a sudden, everything seemed to disappear.
The three of them exchanged glances to see if it was just their imagination.
“It could be a very cautious beast or a monster.”
“Yes. Maybe the Upashikamui incident is still lingering in their minds.”
“Or could it be the eight-eyed rabbit?”
“Stop it. You’re making me want to chase it.”
“If you want to chase it, as Dill says, I’ll have to tell Krone-dono… Now, I can see it.”
Through the gaps in the trees, there was a landscape that looked like a human village that had never existed before. But there is not a single person living there.
It had been snowing like feathers, but now it was gone.
As they approached the former Demon Lord’s territory, the clouds in the sky disappeared, and eventually, a cloudless azure sky spread out.
“It’s kind of warm.”
Ain took off the clasp of his winter gear. It’s almost like spring in this part of the area.
With another step forward, the entirety of the former Demon Lord’s territory finally came into view. It was a windless place, the trees were dead, and the air itself was so dark that it seemed gray.
“So this is the former Demon Lord’s territory.”
After passing through the forest, there was a ruined city that reminded Ain of a high level of civilization.
He was about to hold his head in confusion when Ain looked up and noticed a thing at the far end.
“Is that the White Knight?”
What Ain said was the name of the castle in the royal capital.
“Lloyd-san, that’s the Demon Lord castle… isn’t it?”
“Yes, that’s correct.”
Why, why does the Demon Lord’s castle resemble the White Knight?
It’s not just that they look alike; it’s that they almost look like mirrors. The only difference is the color. If the White Knight is called the White Knight, then the Demon Lord’s castle is the Black Knight.
Even the gates that stand in front of the castle, not to mention the appearance of the castle, seem to be a perfect copy. While Ain was unable to find an answer to his question,he was suddenly overcome with a strong sense of nostalgia.
“…..I don’t know.”
But he felt it somehow. He felt like he wanted to walk through this city, to step on the cobblestones in front of him as soon as possible. It made him sad and happy at the same time. He couldn’t put his mind in order, but he was happy to be here.
He took a breath spontaneously.
He had the impression that this place was colorless as if time had stopped. There is no sound of living things, no wind, and even inorganic matter seems to be dead.
──This doesn’t seem right.
These words came to his mind.
“Could it be that these feelings?”
It might be that Dullahan and Elder Lich are feeling nostalgic.
When he thought about it, he felt his chest shake a little. It’s not like they’re trying to take his body like before.
“Can you lend us your mouth for a word or two?”
Immediately, he felt something well up deep inside of him.
Had they been awakened? Ain’s mouth opened spontaneously as he prayed, “Don’t go wild this time.”
He wondered what they would say. But the words that were uttered were very short.
A male and female voice came out of Ain’s mouth at the same time.
Dill and Lloyd, who were nearby, heard them and guessed that the voices’ owners were Dullahan and Elder Lich.
The voice was followed by an immediate change.
“Did the wind blow?”
Dill muttered, but the change was not over yet. A few buds appeared on the dead trees, and birds began to chirp from somewhere.
And to top it all off.
“No way…! The gate that hasn’t been opened for hundreds of years!”
A sound like the ground’s rumbling echoed through the air, and the gate in front of the Demon Lord’s castle opened. It was as if the former Demon Lord’s territory itself had come to life, a strange phenomenon that could not be described in words.
From the time the group set foot in the former Demon Lord’s territory until now at night, there had been no problems that would be considered serious, and it had been quiet.
Currently, they are preparing for the camp. As expected, they couldn’t bring themselves to use the remaining ruins, much less enter the opened castle of the Demon Lord.
Therefore, the group prepared for the encampment straightforwardly.
In the tent that had been prepared, Ain lay down on the bed.
“Magic tools are amazing.”
Even though it was a simple bed, it was reasonably comfortable. The tent is more opulent than most lodgings. All of these are magic tools, and they are made with the latest technology from the magic city of Ist.
The inside of the tent was about eight tatami mats in size, so there was nothing to complain about. There was no shortage of places to relax after today’s march in preparation for tomorrow’s full-scale investigation.
Suddenly, he heard the sound of metal scraping outside the tent.
It was the footsteps of a knight in armor, a familiar sound to Ain.
“Who is it? What’s going on?”
As he walked toward the entrance, Ain heard a new sound. It was the sound of something huge falling to the ground.
Thinking there was some kind of incident, he rushed out of the tent.
“…What is this?”
What Ain’s eyes saw were two huge white lumps.
“Is this the eight-eyed rabbits…?”
The two bodies, which did not move a muscle, had a single scar around their necks when he looked closely at them. They were already cold when he touched them. There was no sign of blood coming out of them, perhaps because the blood had been drained.
“I wonder who hunted it….. No. Who brought it here?”
There was no one around, only Ain standing alone.
“…Dear everyone in the royal capital. I’ve encountered a poltergeist in the former Demon Lord’s territory.”
For now, he went to call Lloyd and the others. He had to ask them if they knew anything about it.
A little while later, in front of the tent where Ain was staying.
“What a neat kill.”
Lloyd let out an exclamation of admiration when he saw the eight-eyed rabbit in front of the tent.
They had already asked the royal knights about it, but none of them had hunted it.
“Only a flash of a cut on the neck. There are no signs of poisoning, just a single cut on the neck that shows that it’s life was taken… It’s a real work of art.”
“I see. I’m glad to see that I’m being welcomed in the former Demon Lord’s territory. Don’t you think so, Dill?”
“I’m sorry, but I don’t think so. It just seems too dangerous.”
“Well, I feel the same way as Dill, but… I just don’t know what to do.”
“Well, let’s just eat it for now.”
“Lloyd-san said it was delicious.”
As he said that, Lloyd looked at Dill and was confused.
“Father, it’s Ain-sama after all, so it can’t be helped.”
“Right. I know it’s not poisoned because I touched it, so we can all eat it.”
Is that really a good idea, or is there really no trap?
With the two of them still unable to decide, Ain put out his illusory hand and hung up the eight-eyed rabbit.
“Can you handle it, Lloyd-san?”
“It’s not that difficult, but… Sigh, very well.”
“Fa-Father! Are you sure about this?”
“The trap quality is low. Now that we know that there are no harmful poisons thanks to Ain-sama, why don’t we just eat them?”
“It’ll boost everyone’s morale.”
There is no difference between a good meal and a bad meal.
Lloyd drew his sword and put it to the fur of the eight-eyed rabbit.
“Well, Dill, go talk to the others. We need to build a fire and roast them.”
“…..Sigh. I understand.”
Dill, still not fully convinced, headed for the royal knights.
“This one will be good if you put salt on it. Please take a look.”
Whatever the case may be, Ain was now looking forward to eating this meat. He swallowed his saliva when he saw it.
“This is not good. I have to eat every last bit of it.”
It was already time for the evening meal, but everyone enjoyed the delicious meal, including the royal knights.
Everyone, without exception, returned to their tents feeling satisfied, their bellies full of food they would not normally be able to enjoy. Ain was no different, and after lying down in his tent, he left for the dream world with a happy smile on his face.