It’s Ko-Fi’s Supporters’ chapter (69/96), enjoy~
His body shakes, and the voice calling in his ear wakes Ain up.
“Are you awake? We’ve already arrived at Baltic.”
It was Dill who called out to him. When Ain looked out the window, he saw that it was dark and the snow was falling even more harshly than before.
“Come on, Dill. It’s been a while since we’ve been to the Baltic, but you’ll have to go with me.”
“I’ll come with you, but… where are we going?”
“I already have a place in mind.”
“By the way, what place is that…?”
“A flower shop. I have to buy a large bouquet of flowers because I won’t have anything to offer. …oh, and maybe I’ll buy a few drinks or something.”
Dill had no idea what he wanted to do, but he agreed to go along with Ain for now.
The two of them left the water train and went out into the night.
First, they went to a flower shop and bought a bouquet of flowers. Next, they went to a tavern where top-notch adventurers would go and purchased some drinks.
“Then, let’s go.”
After these light words, Ain headed out of the town of Baltic.
Is there something nearby? Dill, who had been quietly offering his services for some time, finally opened his mouth and asked where they were going.
“…where are we going?”
“The guide will be here in a little while, I think.”
“Guide? When did you call for a guide?”
But if they go any further, the monsters will appear.
“Ain-sama, there’s a limit to how far you can go.”
“Don’t worry. A reliable ally will come to our aid… Speaking of which, there’s a rumor.”
What is he really going to do? This was the only question Dill had, but Ain never gave a definite answer.
But when he saw that Ain had stopped after a long while, Dill became more alert, just in case something was going to happen.
“Long time no see, Marco. You’re here, aren’t you?”
As soon as Ain said that, a bird flew away from the trees in the forest.
“…how did you know I was here?”
Marco appeared, looking and sounding exactly the same as when Ain had been taken before.
Even though he had said it himself, Ain felt a slight sense of discomfort at Marco’s presence here.
Dill, on the other hand, was so overwhelmed by his presence that he forgot to draw his sword, partly because it was the first time he had seen Marco.
“You don’t need to be alarmed, there. I have only come in response to your call, not to harm you.”
“Marco. I’m sorry it’s been so long, but I would really appreciate it if you could escort me to the castle.”
“──Well, it seems that the vessel has been set. It seems to be just before it blooms. …I know it by heart. I will be responsible for guiding you.”
“Ain-sama! Are you planning to go to the Demon Lord’s castle?”
Finally, Dill guessed it.
“That’s why I bought all those things. Keep it safe, okay?”
“The monsters won’t attack us. I’m here too, after all.”
“Please tell me! What are you planning to do in the Demon Lord’s castle?”
“I think the main purpose is to visit the tomb. …Marco, it’s on the castle grounds, right? …The cemetery where the royal family rests.”
When Ain said with certainty, Marco nodded his head.
It’s much easier to go through the forest than it was when Ain first came here.
There wasn’t even a trace of snow on the road leading to the former Demon Lord’s territory. Marco must have done something about it.
“We’ll be there in a few dozen minutes.”
“That’s pretty fast.”
“It’s not much of a walk, as long as it’s easy. And now that I’m leading the way, we’re taking the shortest route possible.”
But Marco’s tone is somewhat sluggish.
Curious, Ain saw purple smoke rising in the sky out of the corner of his eye.
“That place is a little way behind the Demon Lord’s castle. There’s a strong poisonous swamp that even Misty-sama has to avoid. There’s something glowing in the center, but no one has been able to touch it yet. It is a dangerous place that has claimed the lives of many adventurers and monsters.”
“Poison… huh? I’m excited about something shiny in the center that might hold some treasure.”
Unlike Dill, who sighed in exasperation, Marco had no particular emotional upheaval.
“I thought it would be a ten-minute walk from the castle. It’s dangerous, so please don’t go there.”
Ain had an absolute resistance to poison, but he decided not to think about it right now. More importantly, there are things waiting for him at the Demon Lord’s castle that he needs to confirm.
◇ ◇ ◇
After another short walk, the weather began to calm down.
“We should be arriving at the town soon. Would you like to head straight for the castle?”
“Yes, I think so.”
“Understood. Then let’s keep going.”
Suddenly, Ain looked up at the sky. In a few more hours, the night will completely fall.
There is no light source other than the moonlight in the castle town of the former Demon Lord’s territory. Therefore, the former Demon Lord’s castle town was only dark and lonely with the silence.
“There is one thing I must tell you.”
“What is it?”
It’s just a matter of time before they go under the gates of the Demon Lord’s castle, which is right under their noses.
“You’ll need to pass through one room on the way to the cemetery.”
As expected, Marco’s tone was slurred.
“This is a ‘special’ place, created by those wonderful people. Please be careful. Although I guess you could get through it…”
“I’ll be very careful. Definitely, something strange is going to happen… and…”
It was too natural for him to react, but there was one big change in Marco’s words.
An intense sadness pierced his heart deeply, and he was tormented by it.
Ain understood it a lot. And he could see what Ramza wanted.
(This was the true nature of the uncomfortable feeling I had in the forest.)
When he thought about it, the discomfort he felt was because Marco was away from the castle. He had said that he couldn’t leave the castle for a long time for a reason. But today, he had left and came to pick up Ain near the Baltic.
Needless to say, there was a change in his mind that Ain didn’t know about.
Unaware of Ain’s concern, Marco put his hand on the Demon Lord’s castle door.
The inside of the castle was as well built as the outside, much like the White Knight. Without saying anything to the two surprised people, Marco walked forward. They arrived in front of a door at the same place as the door that should lead to the beach behind the castle in White Knight.
A heavy, ominous air drifted from inside the black door.
“I want Dill to wait in front of the room. Marco can wait for me in the hall.”
“Understood. I will wait for you in the hall.”
Ain patted his chest at his reply.
There is no telling when the situation will turn out to be as dangerous as feared, and it would be convenient if Dill and Marco could be separated.
“Dill, no matter what happens, you can’t come into the room.”
“I know I should stop you, but… I understand. But please, don’t do anything rash.”
As they parted, Ain received the gift from Dill that he had bought in the city.
When the door opened with a dull thud, the black mist that filled the room greeted Ain.
“Then I’ll go.”
When the door was finally closed, Ain looked inside and muttered, “It’s like a prison.”
There was nothing inside but a simple structure reminiscent of a stone prison. There was not a single window, but only the door at the back of the room shone weakly with light.
As he slowly took one step after another… the effects he had feared began to take hold.
“…What’s this smell?”
Suddenly, the room was filled with a certain smell. Unfortunately, the smell was familiar to him, the scent of bodily fluids that every man has.
In his bewilderment, Ain sees a presence that has never been there before.
It was a girl in chains.
“Who are you?”
Ain drew his black sword and took precautions, but there seemed to be no use.
When he looked at the woman, he realized that she was about the same age as Ain.
Her red hair was dingy and dark, and her clothes were as thin as a rag, stained with mud everywhere. Looking at her more closely, he sees that her entire body is stained.
“What a horrible sight…”
At this moment, Ain’s perception of the Red Fox’s room had vanished from his mind.
The girl’s voice came from the other side.
“I’ll help you now!”
Perhaps she noticed Ain’s voice, and the girl raised her head in a relaxed motion. Her expression could not be seen through her long hair, but she seemed to have glanced at him.
In a blink of an eye, the girl disappears from view.
“Hey… do you love me?”
The girl who should have been right in front of him disappeared, and Ain heard her voice in his ear.
Not knowing what exactly had happened, Ain shook his head back and forth, left and right, trying to check on her.
But no matter where he looked, he could not find her.
“…is that some kind of curse now?”
He checked his palms, touched his face, and checked all over his body. Nothing changed, and he couldn’t even tell if there was a curse.
“Hah… I just saw an incredibly unpleasant sight.”
The horrible way that girl was treated stabbed him in the heart.
It was hard to believe that everything was cursed by the Red Fox, and it remained inexplicable. It was just a matter of passing through one room, but he felt exhausted.
“Let’s move on for now.”
He decided to think about it later.
There were no more obstacles in the way, and if he kept going, he would soon reach the door.
He put his hand on the door and opened it to see the sun beginning to rise over the horizon. A slightly chilly breeze blew quietly, welcoming Ain, the first visitor in a long time.
The cemetery here is built the same way as the royal cemetery in the royal capital.
“…I can’t believe this place is built the same way. His Majesty the First… is no longer an obsession, is it?”
Muttering to himself, Ain proceeded.
It is similar to the royal cemetery in the royal capital, only the number of tombstones is different.
In the case of the Demon Lord’s castle, there are only five tombstones. There were two tombstones in the front and three more in the back.
When Ain saw the tombstone in front of him, he was convinced that the answer he was looking for was here.
Ain stood in front of the two tombstones. He opened his bag and took out the items he had bought from inside.
“…please excuse me.”
He did what he had learned from Sylvird, just as he had done at the cemetery in the royal capital.
The more carefully he could perform each gesture, the more stable Ain’s mind became. It went smoothly without any problems, and he soon moved on to the final gesture.
Finally, he turned his attention to the name engraved on the tombstone.
“As I thought, that’s what it was all about.”
He raised the black sword to his chest. Unlike the time in the royal capital, the black sword glowed gently.
“What happened, why did it happen…? There’s a lot I want to know, but thanks to you, I finally understand a little more ── His Majesty the First.”
The tombstone is inscribed with the words.
“Son of Ramza and Misty. The Second King of Ishtalika, Gail von Ishtalika. Rest in peace in his beloved homeland of Ishtalika.”
──The reason why the first king, Gail, is described as the “second king” is probably because he could not compromise.
[T/n: I changed the name of the first king to Gail now, sorry for the inconvenience.]
And the first person to become king in this land was the Demon Lord Arche.
“I’m sorry, both of you, just let me check.”
After apologizing to the two people inside him, Ain walked to the tombstones in the back.
The names of Ramza, Misty, and Arche were engraved side by side. Behind the three names, there was even the name of the family, von Ishtalika.
“He was forced to kill his family. I guess that’s what it means.”
The Demon Lord’s forces would have included Ramza and Misty, meaning that only the first king, Gail, was separated.
“…But since he returned to this place and is now laying his bones here, he must not have broken up or quarreled with the others.”
After muttering, Ain walked.
He headed towards the last remaining tombstone next to Gail.
“Oh, I knew it.”
The tombstone is inscribed with the following words.
“The Second King of Ishtalika, Gail, and his wife, Raviola von Ishtalika. Rest in peace in their beloved homeland of Ishtalika.”
This must be the beginning of the Ishtalika he lives in. Before it became a unified nation, there was indeed another Ishtalika here.
“I’m still trying to figure it out. Hmm?”
There was a small inscription underneath Raviola’s name. It was so weathered that Ain had a hard time reading it. But after a few dozen seconds, he was able to decipher it.
Why, why is Chris’s family name mentioned here? Chris’s race was elves, and Raviola’s race must have been pixies. He couldn’t help but wonder about the connection.
I’ll have to see the family tree when I get home, said Ain.
He was determined to get her to show it to him, even if she was embarrassed.
“…Let’s go back for now. Dill is waiting for me.”
A few questions were answered, and new ones arose.
As a result, there were more things to think about, but the hypothesis that he had been considering was proven, and he walked down to Dill, tormented by mixed emotions that he could not put into words.