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──There were those who were overjoyed with Ain’s return.
Of course, it was Olivia.
She was so happy that she burst into tears, and she didn’t stop at just hugging Ain; she even took out her roots and wrapped them around him.
In the end, she did not want to let go of Ain even after nightfall, and the three of them, with Krone in tow, stayed up late chatting with each other.
Then, in the evening of the next day.
Olivia, who was in a hurry, came to Ain’s place where he was resting.
It was not clear what she was going to do, but she started to dress up Ain.
Of course, there was a reason. Perhaps she subconsciously sensed Ain’s return, or perhaps it was because a certain woman was beginning to show signs of awakening.
“M-Mother… is it really necessary to get ready like this…?”
“Fufu. Of course. You are my precious Ain, so let’s go to her in the coolest way possible!”
“If you put it that way, I can’t argue with that…”
Olivia looked very happy as she happily brushed Ain’s hair after getting him dressed.
Ain was slightly embarrassed about it, perhaps because it was Ain, and futilely played with his collar to distract himself.
While doing this, the status card he had in his pocket slipped out.
“Speaking of which, is Ain still the world tree?”
“Since we’re at this point, let’s check.”
Ain picked up the slipped status card and brought it in front of his face. Olivia peeked out from behind Ain’s back.
The status card shows the following information.
Ain von Ishtalika
[Job] Gluttonous World Tree
[Physical Strength] 9999+α
[Magic Power] 9999+α
[Attack Power] ──＋α
[Skills] Gluttonous World Tree / Enchanting Poison / Curse of Solitude
“Yeah, yeah. Ain is still the world tree, isn’t it?”
Is it okay even though it has a “gluttonous” attached at the front? Ain smiled bitterly.
(I’ve got nothing but problems…)
In fact, it may not be a problem since he had awakened and regained his power, but even Ain had his own thoughts when he thought that the power that wreaked such havoc still resided in his own body.
“Fufufu. You’re becoming more and more attractive.”
Who could water her down when she stroked Ain’s head with a look of heartfelt happiness?
Ain didn’t know why Olivia─a dryad woman─found it attractive, but the word “world tree” must have that much influence. That’s what he assumed.
“But how is it that my skill set is also the Gluttonous World Tree? Did I lose the skills I’ve acquired so far?”
“Since it is a skill used by the entity called the Gluttonous World Tree, it may have been lumped together. But the other two are──”
“I think it’s probably a skill I got from Shannon.”
Sensing that Ain was tormented by mixed emotions, Olivia gently held him from behind.
The mood had taken a dive, but thanks to Olivia, Ain quickly regained his composure.
“I shouldn’t look like this when I’m going to visit her.”
“…Sorry. It was because I said to look at your status card, wasn’t it?”
“It’s not your fault, Mother. It’s something I did.”
Ain muttered, “All right,” and, steeling himself, he tried to put the status card away in his pocket. But Olivia’s eyes were still on the skills section as if she hadn’t seen enough.
“──I thought there was something like a hero.”
Her mumbling little voice did not reach Ain’s ears.
“Mother? Did you say something?”
Then she smiled, just like a saint.
“Your hair will be done soon, so please wait just a little longer.”
She reached out her hand and went back to the task of adjusting Ain’s hair.
──The sky outside the window was covered in a sunset glow and an azure light.
In Chris’s room in the castle, next to her bed, Ain sat down in the chair he had brought and opened a pensive eyebrow at the sight of her sleeping face.
“──Chris. I’m home.”
Chris still did not wake from her sleep.
She heard Ain’s voice instead, and her ears twitched.
“What a dexterous reaction!”
But Ain laughed happily, perhaps because he was amused by her movements.
“Good grief… even during the ceremony at the audience chamber, Chris is pretty rash too. And me, too, though.”
“Since both the lord and the retainer are rushing around, we’re always getting into trouble with my grandfather.”
Her body turned over and turned toward where Ain was sitting.
The heavy eyelids slowly opened over the course of many seconds.
“…H…huh? …Where… is… this…”
It had been many days since they had heard each other’s voices.
It had not been more than a few weeks since he had left Ishtalika. And yet, he felt as if he hadn’t heard her voice for several years.
“This is in your room, Chris.”
“…My… My… Room…?”
“Yes. It’s in your room at the castle.”
A cold wind still blew in through the open window. It was opened temporarily for ventilation, but it helped to wake her up.
──The wind must have reached her face.
Chris raised her upper body annoyingly and held her breath when she saw him. Maybe she was still dreaming, maybe Oz had taken her life, and she was in the afterlife.
With these doubts, she reached out as if betting on a glimmer of hope without forgetting her hope.
She prayed and clung to the hope that it would be the only reality she had hoped for.
When she stretched out her hand, it met the tip of Ain’s hand. From the tips of her fingers, she was enveloped by his warmth.
“Yes. It’s me. Chris.”
Chris looked at him without saying a word, without moving her body, as she spread her golden threads of hair on the pure white bed.
Her eyelids seemed to be filled with drops, but they quickly broke down and ran down her cheeks.
“I tried my best.”
She muttered in a trembling voice.
“Ain-sama is waiting for me. With that in mind, I worked harder than I have ever worked in my entire life.”
Her lips trembled slightly, and she pressed her forehead against Ain’s hand in repentance.
“But I couldn’t win… and I was carried back to the royal capital in order to escape…! So I thought… I’ll do what I can…!”
What she went to Ist and did with both Krone and Katima, Ain also heard after returning to the castle.
He was so happy that she had fought for him even though her wounds had not healed after the fight for her life against Edward.
“I’m sorry… I couldn’t make it to Ain-sama’s place… I’m sorry…!”
Ain put his other hand behind her back and held her close, and kept his eyes down.
“I’m the one who should apologize”, he told her, prefacing his apology with this.
“I’m the one who wasn’t strong enough. I’m sorry I made you suffer so much. I’m sorry I caused you so much pain.”
“N… that’s not it…! It was because I was weak…!”
He gently stroked and rubbed Chris’s back as she cried and interrupted her by saying, “No, no.”
“I’m back because of you, Chris. Thank you very much. …And I know it’s late, but──I’m home.”
Chris also reached out her hand to Ain’s back and hugged him so tightly that it actually caused him pain. She was more than happy to feel his body warmth and hear his voice in reality, which was not a dream or anything.
Chris kept sobbing for a while after that.
She wiped away the tears from her eyes, and finally, her cheeks filled with joy.
“──Welcome back, Ain-sama!”
◇ ◇ ◇
Later that same evening.
Warren, who had been in a coma for some time, also woke up.
When he woke up, there was no one by his side.
The moonlight shining in from outside the window and the glow of the castle town, which for some reason was bustling with activity, illuminated the room.
“Why am I in bed… I see; I’m with that man…!”
Warren moved his body, but it was somehow dull all over.
This made him realize that he had spent a long time in a coma.
…..I have to check the situation as soon as possible, that’s what he thought.
Just as he was about to force himself to stand up with his heavy and weakened body, a man’s voice reached him.
“You finally woke up.”
He was on a sofa placed in the corner of this room.
Warren was too distracted to notice.
By the way, it was too dark around the sofa to see his face, but his voice sounded familiar.
“I know two loyal retainers.”
He said as he got up from the sofa and approached the bed.
“The first one is Marco. He was an irreplaceable man for me, and no knight has ever been more loyal to me than him.”
“Marco-dono… C-could it be that you──.”
The moonlight shone on his face as he got closer.
He had a familiar, fearless, neat face and lustrous silver hair that reached down to his waist.
Warren’s memories of the past were already faded and vague. But even so, he had never forgotten his face, not even for a moment.
“You are Ramza-sama, aren’t you? H-how can you be here…?”
He asked, but Ramza did not answer and continued his story.
“The second loyal retainer is you. You followed my son Gail, and even after he died, you continued to devote your life to Ishtalika. You changed your name, changed your appearance, and even killed yourself to serve. You are a hero, even if history has hidden the truth from you.”
“That is….. B-but if anyone traces my origins, that is not a compliment.”
Warren was in love with the first queen, Raviola. That is why he remained in Ishtalika and has served the country to this day.
“I understand the feeling of being so despicable, but was there no attachment to Gail or to Ishtalika, or not?”
“You don’t have to say it. If there were no attachments, you would have never thought of traveling all over the continent with Gail or even staying close to Ishtalika all your life.”
Ramza gave a final laugh and returned to the sofa with a satisfied look on his face.
He grabbed the girl who was lying secretly by the neck and lifted her up, placing her on his shoulder as if he were carrying a package.
“Yes, my stupid sister is here. You can ask the current king for more information. I know you think it’s a pipe dream that I’m here in the first place, but it’s real.”
“U… ua… Onii-chan… I am strong…”
“What’s wrong with being ………… strong?”
She must have been displeased with his rough treatment. Arche let out a sleepy voice to Ramza.
“The fact that the dreamer Arche sleeps soundly at night is also quite laughable.”
The gesture of Arche bending her body languidly and riding on his shoulder resembled a cat.
The way she looked didn’t seem like a demon king in any way, and even if she were said to be a demon king who had waged a great rampage in the past, it would take a long time to believe it.
Warren watched Ramza’s back as he walked away and muttered to himself.
“What in the world has happened…?”
He didn’t know about everything that’s going on.
Ramza is here. Arche is also here.
This was impossible, and it was understandable that even Warren could not keep up with the understanding.
◇ ◇ ◇
The next morning.
Sylvird invited Ain, Lloyd, and the others to a small room in the back of the audience chamber to discuss matters.
“We will hold a large parade in the near future to announce our victory to everyone.”
“Let us divide it into several days, including the eve of the parade. ──Oh! To think, it’s almost graduation day at the Royal Kingsland Academy! How about we adjust the date to accommodate this!”
“Mm! That would be good!”
“…What a very tiring festival that would be!”
Ain, who had been listening to their opinions, smiled bitterly at the festival, which sounded exhausting just to imagine it.
He knew what these festivals were all about.
It was also a way to mourn the deceased knights, reaffirm the victory, and dispel the heaviness that had been hanging over the people.
“Then, the problem is about Ain. What should we do about the demon king?”
“As I thought, we must tell everyone about it.”
“I don’t think you need to worry about it. It will not cause a big commotion if he is called the demon king.”
“I agree with Lloyd.”
“No, no, no! You two are indeed too optimistic──”
Ain put his hands on the table vigorously and was about to object.
This was interrupted by the sudden appearance of a person.
“──I agree with Ain-sama.”
He was──the strongest civil official in Ishtalika.
He appeared with a walking cane in each hand and a long beard that swung as aloof as his character.
“First of all, instead of conveying the term demon king, we must emphasize the fact that he has become the World Tree, a race equal to that of a god.”
“W-wait! You… since when?”
“The world tree is a symbol of the world’s greatness, and it is important to make the trees grow and give their fruit to the people as you did in the port city of Magna. And since our nemesis used the power of monsterization, let’s summarize that as a result of purifying and absorbing that evil power, Ain-sama, who had evolved into a world tree──obtained the power of a demon king.”
He finished speaking, intentionally ignoring Sylvird’s voice.
He laughed like a good-natured old man, as usual, and added at the end, “How about it?”
“What are you doing here so suddenly? When did you wake up?”
“Haha… hahaha! Warren-dono! You are finally awake! It’s been a long time since I’ve seen your elusive nature!”
It seems that Lloyd is the only one who accepts Warren’s appearance, leaving Ain speechless and with a complicated expression on his face.
Warren saw this, realized his inner feelings, and smiled gently.
“It was last night. But it’s been a while, and I had my hands full confirming the facts. So I spent the night checking the situation, and here I am today.”
“…Then why didn’t you call on me?”
“I heard that Ain-sama had returned, so I simply refrained. I thought it would be more convenient for me to wait until the night was over.”
“Good gracious, you are a truly unfettered Prime Minister, as always…”
Despite Lloyd’s dismay, Warren walked up to Ain’s seat and knelt down next to him.
He looked up with narrowed eyes at the crown prince, who was still at a loss for words, took his hand, and apologized.
“Ain-sama. Beria told me what happened.”
“Everything I have kept from you is a sin. I am guilty of everything I have concealed from you. No matter how much I have done for my homeland, Ishtalika, the blood of the red fox will never go away. I am sorry that I have caused you so much trouble and made you suspicious of me.”
“──N-no! I found it out afterward! Warren-san didn’t betray me! So it’s my fault for being angry in the first place…!”
“That is not something the crown prince, Ain-sama, should have said. Please reprimand me.”
Warren was responsible for keeping it a secret, but he and Beria were loyal to them in their own way. No one else could understand the pain of killing and serving themselves for hundreds of years.
“You might say that’s convenient… But I think I’ll be happy if Warren-san continues to be the Prime Minister. …Sorry, I really do think it’s selfish.”
“Fufu… how kind of you to say that.”
Warren burst into tears and revealed his honest joy at Ain’s words.
Sylvird opened his mouth.
“It is just as well that the man has come. I would like to ask for your wisdom regarding future matters.”
“Very well. If this old man can be of any help to Ishtalika, please do not hesitate to ask me.”
He held his staff in both hands and supported his body.
But even so, the figure of the loyal retainer who had served for several hundred years was nevertheless charming.
(This is the end of the circle… no.)
Ain had one thing left to do.
He wanted to fulfill the promise he had made to her before.
“…Now it’s just a matter of me having the courage to do it.”
2 thoughts on “Maseki Gurume – Vol 9 Chapter 11 Part 2”
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