Life — Part 1
Having departed from Baachsburg via airship, Nell and I soon found ourselves in Regighihegg. Specifically, we had wound up within one of the castle’s lounges.
“Hiya Yuki, I haven’t seen you in a month,” said Phynar. “It’s nice to see you again too, little miss hero.”
“‘Sup? You seem to be in good spirits,” I said.
“It is a pleasure to see you again, Your Majesty,” said Nell.
“I heard that the two of you were on your way, but I wasn’t expecting you to take the airship. How was it? Comfortable?”
“Honestly? It was fun. Going by air always makes things faster and whatnot too. So, you know.”
“I’m terribly sorry, Your Majesty,” said Nell. “We should have asked for your permission ahead of time.”
Phynar dismissed Nell’s apology with a laugh.
“Oh, there’s no need to worry about that. I was meaning to have it used as a means of transport in the first place, so I’m glad you’ve gone ahead and tested it for me.”
“Your kindness knows no bounds, Your Majesty. Do you plan to develop the technologies here in the future?”
“That would be our long term goal, yes. The war was an excellent informer of their utility. We’ve always known the importance of aerial supremacy, courtesy of the many races capable of flight, and these ships are able to provide it even to humans and other races that can’t naturally take to the skies. These ships are technological marvels, capable of bringing about a revolution in and of themselves. I’m glad we were able to strengthen our ties during the war. Humans may not be as physically fit as demons, but they certainly do make up for it with the brilliance of their minds.”
Yup, 100% agree with that one. Humans are weak as hell, so they gotta use their brains to keep themselves alive. That’s the whole reason humans managed to conquer the world, er, my old world, at least.
His rant over, Phynar suddenly switched gears.
“Oh, right. Speaking of technology, Yuki, there’s someone I’d like you to meet.”
The king put on a dark grin as he raised his voice and told the person waiting outside to enter the room. It was a familiar face, one that I recognized almost immediately.
“Wait a fucking second. Isn’t that the goddamn emperor!?”
“It is?” said Nell, blinking in surprise.
“Why hello again, demon lord. Thanks for coming all this way.”
Yeah, no. I’m 200% sure that’s him. Draggodt Gandowell Rogarde, in the fuckin’ flesh. The actual fuck though? How?
“Dude uh… didn’t they kill you off?”
I very specifically remembered hearing that he had been executed in order to ensure that he would be unable to repeat his misdeeds. I didn’t exactly fully approve of the decision, but I couldn’t deny that he was pretty much the reason that everything turned out the way he did, so I figured that it was just something that had to happen. Apparently, I was wrong.
“Technically, yes. Emperor Draggodt is dead, by all accounts. Now, I’m nothing but a humble researcher that happens to work under King Phynar’s direct command. My new name is Dragg, and I’ve been allowed to research whatever I want, in exchange for providing him with all the knowledge I’ve accrued,” he said with a sigh. “Can you believe this man? His greed is insatiable.”
“I would say that it’s more that you were so good at marketing yourself, that I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. Though, truth be told, a simple look at your office was enough for me to know that killing you would be a waste of talent. It was so truly outrageous that I couldn’t help but think that you’d be best off working for me.”
The two men exchanged a pair of treacherous grins. Oh boy, now there are two schemers. AND they’re working together. Just what the world needed.
It seemed like a sort of secret, which was in part why he had chosen to reveal it when only Nell and I were present. The sailors had already gone off to show the demon realm’s engineers their ships and explain all its functions. Going to have to thank them later, since we’re not going to be seeing each other for a good while, once I leave.
“Well, whatever works for you guys, I guess.” I shrugged. “I won’t say shit, besides uh… congrats on keeping your head, I guess.”
“Thank you. I really do like this arrangement. I can engross myself in whatever I want without having to think about anything as bothersome as ruling a country. I should’ve done this from the start.”
He looked a lot happier than he did when he was a king. If there was a happiness scale that went from 1 to 10, he would be a 50 or 60.
“You uh… sure you should be saying that to Phynar’s face? You know, since you technically pushed your work onto him instead.”
“I don’t see why it would be a problem. It just means that we have the right people in the right places,” he said with a lively grin.
Goddamn… What’s with all these rulers and their balls of steel? Seriously, man… You can tell that he used to be some sort of king or something even without knowing it for sure.
Smiling wryly, I nodded and listened along as he continued to speak.
“I’ve actually been doing research on dungeons, and there’s something I’ve been meaning to talk to you about.”
“Really?” I cocked a brow. “I’m listening.”
His expression turned from that of a jolly old man to a solemn scientist.
“What do you think dungeons are?”
“That’s a pretty hard question… Personally, I think dungeons are living things, though they’re a different type of organism from the rest of us.”
“That, I can agree with. When I took on the demon lord’s mantle, I always felt as if I could sense the dungeon’s will, to an extent. And the way it felt to me was like it was a sort of higher-order being.”
Higher order? Interesting…
I could see his point. Dungeons had incredible powers. They were capable of literally creating life, not to mention unique realms and worlds. They were certainly not the type of “living thing” that I was familiar with.
“Through their demon lords, dungeons expand their territories, strengthen themselves, and compete for dominance. In that sense, they’re no different from us.”
“Yeah, and they buff up their demon lords too, and have a sort of symbiotic relationship of sorts.”
“That’s all correct. But there’s been a question lingering in the back of my mind for quite some time now…”
He took a deep breath.
“Have you ever stopped to think that the whole world might just be one big dungeon?”