Life — Part 2
“The whole world? Is a dungeon?”
“It’s just a hypothesis, nothing I’ve verified,” said Draggodt. Oh wait, his name is Dragg now.
“Dungeons are capable of producing realms and monsters alike,” he said. “Our definitions may differ on this, as I’ve not been made privy to your religious beliefs, but both those deeds are what I would call acts of god.”
“Honestly, I’ve thought the same thing, that the dungeon was giving me some pretty godlike powers. And I mean that literally.”
“I’m glad I’m not the only one. So back to what I was saying, if the world really is one large dungeon, then the person who created all life as it is now was likely what we refer to as a ‘demon lord.’ Though demon lords and gods don’t operate on the same scale, the things that they do are effectively identical.”
As far as definitions went, Dragg’s was perfectly accurate.
“Now that you mention it, that does make a lot of sense… And it’s pretty ironic too, since people hate demon lords and worship gods.”
“Ironic indeed,” he said with a snort. “It’s likely a function of how dungeons appear. They need an excess of magical particles, so they end up in areas that are inhabited primarily by monsters, which would be why most demon lords are of that sort. You’re an exceedingly rare exception.”
“That reminds me… how did the empire end up with an emperor for a demon lord? Did he use to live in a place with a lot of magical particles or something?”
Rogarde was nothing like the Wicked Forest and lacked all the nature that came with it. Personally, I wasn’t the most sensitive to magical particles and their density. I couldn’t actually tell if the empire was built on top of a piece of land that had enough mana in it to naturally give birth to a dungeon, nor could I see a reason for anyone to found a country atop such a hazardous piece of land.
“According to our history books, the empire was first founded with a vast forest. We slowly expanded outwards, drove away all the monsters, and turned it into a land suitable for human life. In other words, he likely used the dungeon’s power to turn it into what it is now. There aren’t as many magical particles anymore, but they were likely rather thick, back then.”
Huh… I’m not even mad. That’s amazing. It’s basically like what I would do if I suddenly decided I wanted to found a country in the middle of the Wicked Forest. I mean, I don’t exactly think that would go too well, but evidently the Rogardian emperor managed to pull it off.
“You have any idea what happens when dungeon cores appear?” I asked.
“I do. When the emperor was scouring the forest with his companions, a throne room suddenly appeared around him, and the dungeon core was already present within it. It was apparently very sudden, and happened effectively without any notable reasons.”
His words led me to cock a brow.
“Interesting… So uhh… to add your data or whatever, I actually killed another demon lord, and honestly, it kinda seemed like his dungeon core appearing seemed more planned than anything.”
His diary had stated that the core had appeared at his exact location. The Rogardian emperor had clearly had a similar thing happen to him, meanwhile, I was summoned from another world and brought back to life.
Yeah, doesn’t really sound entirely random to me. And there’s that whole title thing going on too… I ended up getting the title “Wicked Emperor” after taking over the empire.
The whole system seemed to scream that there was some sort of external observer, a higher order being watching over us.
“I’ve read a few documents about demon lords that say the same. One of the most recent ones I read said that a man became a wraith after his village was destroyed, and went on to become a demon lord not too long afterwards. He caused an incredible amount of damage, or so the records say.”
And apparently, that was only one of many similar cases.
“Right… I get that, but at the same time, wouldn’t just outright assuming that the whole world’s a dungeon make it kinda seem like we’re jumping to conclusions?”
“Of course. It was just a theory, not necessarily grounded in evidence just yet. It just stems from the observation that the world itself happens to be a lot like a dungeon, and that dungeons also happen to be higher-order beings. I have very little interest in theology, but I would think that studying dungeons would be the best way to understand it.”
It was all speculation. One could argue that it was basically all just wordplay and based off of nothing but technicalities. But I couldn’t help but feel as if he was onto something. At the very least, I felt as if there was most likely a god, somewhere out there, on the other side of the dungeon’s veil.
“All of that was very interesting,” said Phynar, “but I’d like to remind you that Yuki was supposed to be in the middle of an audience. With me.”
“Ah, right, yes, apologies. I was having too much fun and got carried away,” said Dragg. “I don’t hold any grudges over what happened. These days, I’m just another man that happens to dabble in science. If you ever feel up for it, I’d be more than willing to welcome you into my lab. I’ve a great many things you may find yourself interested in, and we can continue our discussion afterwards as well.”
“I’ll take you up on that sometime,” I said. “Don’t do anything too crazy though. Wouldn’t want you to lose your head. Again.”
“I won’t. I don’t have any plans of ever becoming a leader again. I’ll live the rest of my years as I please.”
With that, the two of us exchanged a firm handshake and bid our farewells.
We headed out into the capital’s streets after Nell finished all the work she had to do at the castle.
“The former emperor seemed like a really interesting person,” said Nell. “He’s not at all like the rumours. He seems like the kind of guy that’s hard to hate.”
“Yeah, he’s the type that pretty much puts his all into everything he does. I don’t even think he was really evil or anything. Misguided, maybe, but definitely not evil.”
He was the reason we went to war. The man had caused tens of thousands of casualties. But I didn’t think that he was a bad person. That wasn’t to say he was free from taking responsibility for what he had done, but Phynar already seemed to have that part figured out, and I didn’t really think it was my place to judge.
Anyone that lost their loved ones in the war is likely to think that he should be put to death for taking them away, but personally, I didn’t feel the need to hold a grudge.
His fate simply didn’t have anything to do with me anymore.
“I’m not really sure why, but I suddenly just remembered the time we met,” said Nell.
“Oh, you mean when you were still enough of a newbie to end up scared out of your wits?”
She giggled. “Yup. I was still just a pawn, back then. Do you think I’m any better off now?”
“These days, you’re about as hard headed as hard headed gets.”
“Wow! I can’t believe you just said that. That’s so mean!”
We shared a laugh as our hands met and our fingers intertwined. As if it were the most natural thing in the world.
I wanted to hurry back to Baachsburg, but we would have to end up traveling through the night if we left now, and there weren’t any carriages or other forms of transport we could take, so we decided to stay the night. The inn we chose was one that the demon king had personally booked for us, typically used by his staff, as well as bureaucrats and other important guests. There was no reason not to take him up on his kindness and fully enjoy the services offered. The captain seemed like he was going to be busy for the rest of the day, so I decided to see him in the morning, right before we left.
“Alrighty, it’s been a while since it’s been just the two of u—er… actually it really hasn’t, huh? Oh well, whatever. We’re the only ones here, so let’s enjoy the hell out of it, couple style.”
Nell smiled, happily.
“I feel bad for the others because it’d like I’m taking advantage of the situation, but I’ll gladly take this opportunity to hog you all to myself,” she said. “Being here… is really making me remember all sorts of different things though… mostly about you.”
“Well yeah, a lot’s happened. You being able to walk around without a disguise is really making it hit home that the times have changed.”
“Things in the demon realm were a lot more chaotic back then… I’m glad everything worked out the way they did, else we wouldn’t be walking around together, at least not like this.”
“Me too, Nell. Me too.”
Squeezing her hand, the two of us stuck side by side and vanished into the night.