I entered a room that was guarded by a Big-Gear soldier, who greeted me as soon as he saw me and let me enter without any problems.
The interior of the place is simple. Just a bed, a table, a chair and a window with blowing white curtains.
Zig was on the bed, looking at the sunlight through the window.
"How do you feel?"
"As good as you can see."
Since that battle, he has lost the will to live. He is like a hollow body without a soul.
For his treatment, Kaede has been throwing healing vibrations at him, but I'm not sure there's any improvement. That's how deep his wound is.
"Only a few know about this place. So don't worry."
"He won't touch you again. Wherever he goes, I'll find him and kill him."
"How will you do that? If you kill him, he'll come back to life.
Zig was still looking out the window, not looking away, he simply replied.
"All I have to do is kill him five times. It's as simple as that."
"Easy to say, but Aide can now change his appearance freely. He can run and hide all he wants."
"No, you're wrong. I know because I was his best friend. He's stubborn, and he hates to lose. He can't stand the idea that someone like me, whom he always saw as baggage, is now better than him. He'll come to me."
Zig remains unfazed, simply listening to me. The huge hole in his chest, the enormous sense of loss, was freezing his emotions. His energy was pouring out of him like a container with a hole in it.
It is natural for this to happen once everything that supported you has been taken away from you.
"You shouldn't go back to your country for a while. If they find out you are alive, they will try to kill you again."
"They are trying to impersonate me. I don't think the original should be alive."
Zig looked at me with hollow eyes, just staring at them, like he was trying to absorb me with his eyes.
He's going to take refuge here in Big-Gear while he tries to get his body and soul back together. But I don't know how long he will be in this state.
"If there is anything you need, tell the men outside. They'll bring it to you right away."
"Why do you care so much about me?"
He looked out the window again.
"Because I see myself reflected in you. In the past, I was also betrayed by that guy."
I didn't like Zig back when I first met him. To be honest, at first I thought he was like Sain.
But when I saw the way he despaired when something important was taken away from him, I felt he was like me. Maybe it was just a moment of weakness from my past.
Even if it was just that, I couldn't leave him alone.
"I never knew what it was like to love someone. I never knew the pain of having something taken from you."
The words seemed to be directed not at me, but at himself.
I quietly get up and leave the room.
I walk through the soldiers and continue down the light-filled hallway.
Then I step out into the courtyard and catch my breath.
Sain's face flashes through my mind. Not only did I never imagine he could be alive, but the chances that he was also on this continent were nil.
How did he do it, was he transferred here too, or is there another way?
I don't even know how he was able to steal Zig's stats.
"Ah, damn it!"
I scratched my head.
I don't know what to think
Let's focus on what we have to do right now. I'm not smart enough to multitask.
Chupi perches on a tree branch. She seems to bring a message from Kaede.
"Master, the king has entered the palace. Come back as soon as possible."
After delivering the message, Chupi leapt off the branch and flew away.
I arrived at the King's Chamber and found that the King was reluctant to sit down on his throne.
"Please, Your Majesty, sit down. We wish to see you on the throne."
"It has been a long time... I made my people live through hard times, but now.... Now we've got it back."
The king slowly sits down on his throne. He closes his eyes, feeling the comfort of the seat. There was a long moment of silence as he recalled the journey he had made.
"My people, I have returned."
"Long live the king!"
More than a dozen of his subjects celebrated his return.
The king clenched his fists and bit his lip as if he were holding something back.
"Step forward, Toru-Dono!"
Following His Majesty's voice, I took a step forward.
"What you've done is truly amazing! You defeated the Demon Lord and reclaimed our homeland.... None of this could have been accomplished without the Manyu Brigade."
"You're exaggerating... I only helped."
"Don't be modest. Everyone in this room recognizes your power."
I scratched my cheek embarrassedly. I don't like to brag, but I don't dislike being recognized either.
"If there is anything you want, you can ask for it. I'll do my best to fulfill your wishes."
"In that case... I would like the reward that was offered to me from the beginning."
After my words, the king raised his voice.
"What do you mean? After all you've done for us, you're going to take the money and leave? I won't let you do that, Hansel wouldn't allow it either!"
"Exactly, Your Majesty. All the people of this country are very grateful to the Manyu Brigade. We can't just let something like this go! We will give you anything you ask for!"
Even if they say so, I really don't want anything.
If there is anything I had to ask for, it would be a good meal, and a day of rest. I've been through a lot and I'm mentally tired.
Well, I guess I'll make that my reward.
"I want good food and drink. Not just for us, of course, but for all the other soldiers outside in the city."
"Very well. That was my intention all along. But it's still not enough. You have to be greedier. Say what you really want. Selflessness is a problem for me."
The king and Hansel frowned and seemed to want to say, "We'll provide it, even if it's something unpleasant."
If I were a normal guy, I'd probably ask for a title, land or something like that. But in my case, I'm an adventurer who doesn't care to stand out at all, so I can't think of anything really greedy or extreme I could ask for.
"This is my offer. Toru-Dono will be made a border knight and you will have enough land to live the rest of your life on."
"Wait! I'm afraid I can't accept that."
"Why not? I think it's a good reward."
"I don't intend to stay here, and even if I did, it will be too much for me. Especially since it's too flashy, and I don't like that."
"Hmm, then how about I give you the title of hero?"
"I'll refuse that too."
The king and Hansel make a bewildered face, as if to say, "Who the heck is this guy?"
I know what they're thinking, but I can't accept it. I don't want to become a nobleman.
"Since you don't want a title and you don't want land. I'll give you time to think about it."
"That sounds good."
I gave him a perfunctory reply and left the room.
"Sorry to keep you waiting."
When I came out, Kaede, who was waiting, ran towards me. Most of the fairy army seems to have returned to the forest, but some troops led by Naomin are still in Big-Gear.
By the way, Naomin is said to be the princess of Ainowa. Even now that I know the truth, I suspect it's some kind of joke.
"Where are Marianne and the others?"
"They are checking out the building that will be the research team's base. It seems they are planning to expand their research into these lands."
Can we continue to travel around the continent and use this country as a foothold? That sounds great. It's like I finally have a place to come back to.
Suddenly, I hear the voices of Frau and the others approaching.
"I'm serious, I've seen the black version of Panda."
"I'd like to have one like that for my bed."
"In some ways it looked fluffy too, but also overwhelmingly better. Laser beams were coming out of his eye. Panda can't do that."
Panda's eyes widen and he puts his all into it.
But there is no sign of any laser beam coming out of his eye.
Completely depressed, Panda shouted and flew towards Kaede.
"Even if you can't use those kinds of powers, you're still really strong, Panda, so don't get depressed."
"That's where you're wrong Kaede, Panda does have a great ability: Being Frau's bed!"
Angered, Panda rams Frau with his body.