The Path is Clearly Visible
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――Would I be able to reciprocate their thoughts?
He was floating in a purer white space.
While it looked like the sky, it also felt like the ocean, a rather strange place.
His vision was blurred and no outlines were clear.
Even so, in the very depths of that pure white space, he could see a beautiful jade coloured light shining.
――Does the determination I have in this world have the size and depth to respond to their thoughts?
The beautiful jade coloured light, swayed like a mass of flames.
Gradually, his vision became clear.
――I don’t understand.
Inside that space, Merea replied with that answer to his own question.
On one hand, he was curious about that jade coloured light but on the other hand, his thoughts flowed smoothly without any stagnancy.
It was a strange feeling.
――I don’t understand but, I’ve decided.
He couldn’t continue to use their wishes as a shield forever.
If he were hide in the shadow of their wishes then, when the time comes, the weak him might just decide to use that as a scapegoat.
『Isn’t it fine to be weak?』
Suddenly, he could hear someone’s voice.
The jade coloured light in front of his eyes, swayed one more like flames.
『You don’t think you can do anything and everything alone right?』
He found out from his talk with them that, that would be an extremely tough road.
Their history was enough for him to know that.
『In that case, it’s fine as long as you don’t get into the same rut. It’s not a crime to be weak.
In the first place, humans aren’t that strong to begin with. Even if they’re called demon lords, they’re still humans. Heroes are the same.
The name ended up being exaggerated so people misunderstand them as some superior existence』
That might be true.
『There really isn’t that much difference in their contents. ――Not to mention, you already have comrades around you. Comrades that you got from your own actions』
That’s true, I have them around me.
『In that case, make sure to treasure the bonds you have with them, who are are alive right now. ――I’m envious of you. Before Leilas and I reached that point, we ended up passing on』
『Also, at the same time, we’re really proud of you having been able to reach the beginning of the path that we were never able to reach. The reason you were able to gather their wounded hearts into one was mainly because you seriously tried to save them』
『Be at ease. You’re properly reciprocating our wishes. In fact, you’re already growing up into an existence that is considerably above what we had even wished for. There is nothing more we can say.
It’s fine for you to be honest――with your wishes――』
His vision opened up.
The outline became clear.
The light of a number of jade coloured lights standing in front of him were the souls of the ones who had once saved him――
The pure white space had disappeared at some point.
From the last scarlet that he had seen, the sky had turned slightly darker and the clouds seemed to melt into that background.
As his vision cleared completely, he saw his hand stretched towards that sky.
An impatient voice entered his ears so he promptly lifted his head up.
He could see the figure of a beautiful maiden with such deep wrinkles on her face that, she looked like she might start crying at any moment.
When he looked closely, he could see traces of tears on her face. She might have cried once already.
At that time, Merea noticed that he was actually lying down on her lap.
He could feel a soft sensation on his back.
When he stretched his hand out, he felt a balled up cloth under his back.
He suddenly turned his gaze to the surroundings.
He immediately noticed several of his comrades without any clothes on their upper bodies. The cloth under his back was probably their clothes.
They were still in the wilderness. There were several rugged stones scattered everywhere.
They probably tried to make sure that those stones didn’t hurt him.
His body still felt rather heavy.
Although his head had started working quite a bit but moving his body was still quite tricky.
If he waited a little longer then the〈Resurrecting Body of the Life King〉would restore his body but, it would still be rather difficult to recover from the accumulated fatigue.
Merea rotated his neck while still in the same posture and looked over at the worried expressions on the faces of his comrades.
After having a good look at all of them, he noticed that he couldn’t see the figure of one of the people he knew so he slowly opened his mouth and asked.
「――What about Hasim?」
「The reinforcements of the three kingdoms came a little while back so, he went with them to pursue the fleeing Mūzeg army. He said that, if we don’t wound them as much as possible now, the time till the next revenge battle would become shorter」
Elma, who was nearby, answered Merea’s question.
Hearing that, Merea exhaled, convinced.
「Hasim sure has it difficult huh. Though, his subordinates might have it even worse」
Merea closed his eyes in a thoughtful gesture.
The demon lords in the surroundings showed a similar reaction.
「However, thanks to the azure spearmen of Zuria and the magic cannons of Kushana, they were able to gain quite the momentum. Although it doesn’t seem like they plan on chasing them too far but, there shouldn’t be any large dangers」
「That’s right. Right after Merea collapsed, a blue shot came flying from the over there. Just one of them was carried over in a rush it seems.
Apparently the main force has many more but they figured that it wouldn’t make it in time so they concentrated on getting just one of them here on time」
「And so, Lemuse’s foot soldiers that Hasim had brought along, followed the orders they had already been informed of and joined the magic cannon corps of Kushana and provided them with the needed fuel. In other words, magic stones」
「Is that the reason why the arrival of the foot soldiers was oddly late?」
「That is one shrewd man. Not only did he predict the reinforcements from Kushana but he also had the foot soldiers head in a different direction to the main battlefield. Over and above that he even had them carry magic stones so, I don’t know if I should just say that he has absolutely no oversight.
Well, since cavalry battle was the main combat in the earlier battlefield so foot soldiers may not have been of much use though――」
「He probably realised that, that way would be much more advantageous. Hasim is rather rational when it comes to such things」
Merea laughed once more.
「If he wasn’t able to do at least that much, then a battle that was disadvantageous to begin with, would be impossible to fight. As a result, everything turned out well so I’m fine with that.
Well, it’s certainly going to be rather hard to negotiate with him from now on――」
He wasn’t very adept at such negotiations to begin with.
If it were physical combat then it would be a different issue but, if it were to take on the aspects of commerce negotiation or if it were a political battle then his lack of experience would definitely lead to failure.
「At that time, I’ll leave it to you all. Since we even have Shaw who’s extremely strong in such aspects」
As soon as Merea said that, Shaw popped his head into his field of view and,
「As the president of the Sherwood Firm as well as a member of the demon lord group you’re leading, I’ll definitely get a good result for our master. ――When money is involved, I really don’t feel like I’ll lose after all, you know?」
With beautiful hand and body gestures like that of a play actor, he bowed and spoke with a face full of confidence.
「Haha, that’s reassuring. …We’ll have to decide stuff around those parts as well but, we can do that once Hasim and the rest return」
When he took a deep breath, he felt drowsiness creeping in again.
His body still seemed to be demanding rest.
Merea smiled wryly and in the end, he lightly tapped Marisa’s knee which he was still lying down on and,
「Is it fine if I borrow this for a little longer?」
「Yes, anytime, for however long」
Merea smiled wryly at the exaggerated answer and then he closed his eyes.
While praying that, the next time he wakes up, their fatigue should also be lifted, he went ahead to take rest first.
He woke up.
The sky was dyed in a translucent dark blue.
The moment he opened his eyes, Merea noticed a certain something in his vision.
On the vast dark blue canvas, with small stars twinkling in it, a certain large something could be seen passing by.
For, but a moment, he could see that shadow in the break between clouds and since it was rather dark out, he was probably the only one to have noticed it so far.
It looked like a 『dragon』 with huge wings.
A dragon that flies through the sky.
In other words a 『Sky Dragon (Teishia)』.
Seeing that shadow, Merea laughed in spite of himself.
――You say one thing or the other but you’re quite the worrywart aren’t you, Cortista? ――Thank you, I’m fine.
He thought that while looking towards the sky where the shadow of the dragon could no longer be seen.
As he returned his attention back down to the ground, he felt like his body was shaking.
It seemed like he was on something that was shaking his body.
Merea raised his body slightly so as to ensure his body was working properly.
「Oh, is the saviour awake? Show me, show me, the face of the demon lord who single handedly chased away Mūzeg’s army led by that Serius」
The first sound to enter his ears was the voice of someone he had not met yet.
He turned his neck towards the voice and looked at the face of the one talking.
「Yo, My name is Muran. Even like this, I’m the king of Kushana Kingdom」
「It really is, 『even like this』 huh」
「You’re insanely bitter at such a time aren’t you! Fasalis!」
The one to enter his vision first was a thin man with pale long hair tied at the back.
What could be considered characteristic would be that, although his eyes were thin like slits, they still dropped a little at the corners.
With such beautiful eyes that would attract even the same sex, let alone the opposite sex, a slender face and white skin which gave him really nice neutral good looks.
「Hm, Isn’t he handsome enough not to even lose or be inferior to me. Stop it, stop it, handsome guys shouldn’t come close to me! I’ll end up overshadowed then!」
「Talk in a way people can understand, Muran. Your talk just keeps jumping around making absolutely no sense」
In complete contrast to that thin man, next to him there was the figure of a boorish man. Sitting on his horse with his spine stretched straight made him actually look like a large tree.
With a figure that seemed like it would not even shake a little even in a windstorm, he had a different kind of beauty than the thin man.
Even so, that man’s face had a certain kindness in it. In just a single glance, Merea was able to see through to his sincerity.
「Sorry about that, lord of demon lords. No, saying that would be rude wouldn’t it?」
「――I’m Merea Mea」
「Is that so. Then, Merea. My name is Fasalis. The king of the Kingdom of Filarfia, one of the three kingdoms」
「There are quite a few kings huh」
「There is even a fool who’s been leading such kings around. The fool who fought together with Merea before any of us」
Finally understanding the current situation, Merea suddenly started looking for Hasim.
When he did that, he was able to find him immediately.
「Merea, Is your body fine?」
「What about you, Hasim?」
「As you can see, I’m totally exhausted」
Hasim was right behind him.
Merea had been lying down in the luggage rack of a carriage, which was being pulled by two horses equipped with armour.
On both sides were his comrades who he was used to seeing and behind him was Hasim.
In front were the two people who had just introduced themselves, Muran and Fasalis.
Seeing that exaggerated way of surrounding him, Merea felt like he was some sort of sacrifice meant for god and couldn’t help but laugh.
「It’s a terrible situation」
「Don’t complain. We’re also pretty desperate to protect the one who contributed the most to this battle」
Hasim answered back.
「Is it still a battle situation?」
「No, the battle is over. ――It’s over」
Hasim stopped speaking for a moment but then he immediately continued speaking.
「With our victory」
Although Hasim had quite the radiant smile on his face but Merea noticed that there was a certain sense of loneliness there as well.
「It’ll probably be horrible till we reach Lemuse. So, even if it gets exaggerated, just forgive them.
We still haven’t been able to fix our state of mind. War is such a pain. We can’t just change our state of mind in a moment」
「I think so too」
「Zuria’s Azure Spearmen (Calleum Lansania), led by their queen Crisca, are scouting and protecting us as we head back. You should be able to meet her by the time we reach Lemuse」
「There are quite a few kings huh」
Merea smiled wryly and said those words again.
「Don’t worry, you’re like a king yourself」
That is, of the demon lords.
「That’s――also a bit」
Merea rubbed the back of his head and lay down once more.
「Merea-sama, how is your body…?」
At that time, Marisa showed her face next to him and asked.
Next to her, Aiz, who seemed to be riding on the same horse as Marisa, popped her head into his view and looked over at him with worry etched into her face.
She looked like a small animal popping its head out of a hole in the ground.
「I’m fine, I’m much better now」
Merea waved his hand towards both of them and while laughing looked up at the sky.
「…Although I shouldn’t be saying it but, I really ended up in a rather flashy place huh」
「Do you regret it?」
Marisa suddenly laughed and asked.
「No, I don’t regret it」
「Is that so?」
In that short exchange, it felt like there were many more hidden exchanges.
However, it was definitely not a bad exchange.
As if to prove that fact, Marisa hd covered her mouth with her hand and was laughing happily.
「Oiii, Merea, they say you woke up?」
Salman’s voice sounded from a place slightly farther away.
The voices of his other comrades followed after that.
「Looks like it’s going to get boisterous」
「Please bear with it. You are our master after all. Everyone is worried about you, just as you worry about everyone」
「I get it. ――I get it」
Before Salman and the others reached him, he closed his eyelids one more time.
The path that he had chosen, he could see it when he closed his eyes.
「Yeah, I can see it properly」
「Merea-kun, your eyes are closed, though?」
As soon as Aiz retorted that accurately, Merea couldn’t help but laugh loudly.
While laughing, Merea looked over at Aiz who was tilting her head in confusion and roughly stroked her head, making her laugh as if she was tickled.
At some point, the sun had completely set and the stars had taken its place and could be seen twinkling in the sky.
That beautiful scene burned itself deeply into Merea’s eyes.
The group was proceeding towards the east.
In the wide world, one of the very few places that could give them some peace of mind, that kind of small kingdom.
That is, it was small right now.
However, the pride that they had wrapped around themselves was not something that could be easily changed.
And the country that Flander had placed his hopes on. ――〈Lemuse〉.
「――What kind of country is it, I wonder?」
Merea started thinking about the place that he could not yet see.