Where am I? Ain thought to himself, as soon as he regained clear consciousness.
He tried to move his body, but he could not move. It was as if he was bound by something, and he did not know whether his eyes were open or closed.
In addition, he could not tell if his surroundings were warm or cold.
But he did know some things.
Fortunately, his memory was clear, and he was able to recall what had happened.
At the Heim Kingdom castle, he defeated Shannon, the chief of the red foxes, and ended a long relationship with them.
After that, the slightest gap that arose in his mind caused Ain to run amok like the Demon Lord Arche. He also remembered that before he let go of his consciousness, he asked the three for their cooperation, using the “Familiar” skill he had inherited from Marco.
Then was this the afterlife?
Ramza of Dullahan and Misty of the Elder Lich. If the three people, including Marco, had stopped Ain, who had gone out of control, it would be fitting to say that this pitch-darkness was the afterlife, but he didn’t understand the situation.
“…..Well done, me.”
He did his best. The great ambition of defeating the red fox, which even His Majesty the First could not fulfill, was fulfilled at the risk of his life.
The future of Ishtalika would also be fine. Since he had cut the connection with the red fox, he could say that at least one of the worries of a great evil attacking in the future──had been eliminated.
So, it’s a happy ending.
There is no need to try any harder.
It’s so common for heroes to die in the end, isn’t it?
Ain thought to himself, ridiculing himself.
But──he couldn’t help but feel a little disturbed.
This was the end, the whole thing; everything was over.
The story had progressed to the last page, and all that remained was to wait for the book to be closed.
Was it a coincidence that he regained consciousness in this way, or was it the price for his hard work?
His eyelids began to feel heavy. Whether they were closed or open, he did not know, but his consciousness was fading away as if he were asleep.
The end was approaching.
The end of his existence, the consciousness of Ain.
Could it end?
Immediately after asking himself this question, the scene of Ishtalika appeared in his mind. Memories, recollections. The smiling faces of his family and everyone else were vividly burned into his mind, that he could not get rid of them.
“Don’t be stupid. It shouldn’t be over──”
He was determined.
At the same time as the consciousness that had been fading away returned, the world began to change color.
──Even though it was tinted, it was better than not seeing anything at all.
The world was a dimly lit space with a warm, damp, and heavy atmosphere. When he looked closely, he could see that it looked like a stone prison, and it was familiar.
“This is──the Demon King’s castle…”
This was the cursed room on the way to the tomb of the first king, Gail.
When he took his first step, he could feel the slight gravel staining the cobblestone pavement on the soles of his shoes.
Then, from the corner of the room.
“It’s so unsightly.”
A voice was heard.
Looking at the corner, Ain approached and saw a girl squatting on her knees.
Her face was hidden from view because she was looking down, but there was no way she could have forgotten it.
Standing in front of her, Ain opened his mouth unhesitatingly.
“Why did you show up in front of me──Shannon?”
“…..I wanted to disappear, but I couldn’t because of you.”
“That doesn’t explain it.”
“I’m not explaining anything. You didn’t eat my magic stone.”
It was certainly true. Not that Ain did so consciously, but he couldn’t even recall the sound of digestion.
“…..Why did you target Ishtalika? Why did you target His Majesty Gail? And the same goes for me. For what purpose did you use Heim?”
“Of course, it was because I wanted to take everything from you.”
“You say that like it’s a matter of course. Although we have known each other before, we have only met once at that party.”
Shannon chuckled when she was told this.
“You just don’t know it.”
“What the hell is that──?”
“I’ve wanted to bring you down for a long time. No matter how many years, decades, or centuries passed, I always wanted to make you suffer the same thing I did. That’s all there is to it.”
“As I said! What are you talking about?”
“Annoying. I don’t care anymore about the dryads who didn’t help me.”
Shannon shut her mouth again.
No matter how many times Ain tried to move her knees and put his hands on her shoulders, no matter how he shook her thin body, she remained face down and would not look up.
How long did Ain keep this up? His attempts to get information out of her eventually came to an end.
A heat wave that could not be ignored reached him from the door, and he was caught off guard by it.
In the instant that he took his eyes off the door, Shannon was gone. Ain rushed out the door and headed outside to check the situation. The corridors of the Demon King’s castle continued as Ain had known it, but crimson lights were pouring in from the windows along the walls.
“What is going on?”
With a question mark in his mind, he rushed out of the Demon King’s castle.
What spread out beyond was the view of the former royal capital, which was engulfed in a raging fire.
“It won’t be long before all of you are finished.”
A man with dark hair, much like Ain’s, stood at the end of Ain’s line of sight.
Unlike Ain, he had long hair that reached down to his waist, a face about five years older than Ain’s, and was somewhat taller.
This was the first time he had seen the man, but his voice sounded familiar.
(It was the voice that echoed in my head.)
When he fought with Grint and took Shannon’s life, the same voice echoed in Ain’s mind.
“There is no other way now but to be one with me.”
“…..I finally understand. No wonder I suddenly heard a voice I didn’t recognize.”
“It is as I expected from the being who gave birth to me. Thank you for understanding so quickly.”
“It doesn’t make me happy to hear your compliments.”
“Please don’t be sad. It is because I love you.”
“I’m surprised. I thought you didn’t like me for interrupting you.”
Although they were supposed to have met for the first time, they were like friends who had been together for many years.
They shared their intentions without saying much.
“Surely you kept me away from the time when I would become one with you. You must hate me very much because you even summoned the three of them to clean up the mess. But I still love you.”
“Because I was born from you. How can I love you and hate you at the same time?”
“Because I hate you, of course.”
“──Fufu, kuku….. hahahahaha! I’m so happy! I can’t believe you think that much of me!”
The owner of the voice trembled with delight, and then.
Unlike before, he blurred his voice with a slightly depressed tone.
“I’m sorry. I think they’re here.”
The man turned his back and began to walk away.
“I’ll be back after I deal with the three of them outside. Even your stubborn refusal to become one with me will be too much for you to resist as I grow even more mature.”
“Take your time. I will be right back.”
In the end, only the voice echoed, and the figure disappeared like a mist.
Is there really nothing I can do? He asked himself and thought to himself.
Once again, only the sensation of fading consciousness rushed through his body.
But he did not give up.
He clenched his fists tightly with both hands, determined not to let go of his consciousness.
Ain remained alone in the burning landscape, searching for what he could do to help.