◇ Revenant’s Domain, Office――――――
「 Yo, Lord Revenant. It’s been a long time. 」
As the sun was setting, Marius opened the door to his office and walked in with a huge yawn.
As the word “long time” implied, it had been a month since Lord Revenant had seen her, and another month before that, when the troublesome pair of adventurers had arrived.
「 That’s right, I’ve been here before, about a month ago. 」
「 I don’t know, but I can’t help it. I’m an undead corpse, but I’m just as sleepy as a human. The undead, who have lost all sense of reason, don’t need that, do they? I envy you. 」
「 I’m not sure if I understand. 」
Marius scratched the top of her head languidly, did a big yawn again, sat down on a chair near the round table she had brought for herself, and put a bottle of wine on the table.
「 You should come over here. I’ve got some good news for you. 」
「 ……Let’s hear it. 」
Lord Revenant took two wine glasses from the cupboard, placed them on the round table and took a seat. Marius poured wine into their glasses with a practiced hand, took a sip, and then made a mumbling sound.
「 The final weapon, the barrier, has finally been completed. Now we can attack at any time. 」
「 What! Then, are we going to start the operation right away!? 」
The moment he heard the word “attack,” Lord Revenant suddenly stood up and leaned forward to ask, but Marius gave him a small, cumbersome wave back.
「 I’ve been up all night, and I’m sleepy. At least let me do that tomorrow. 」
「 Hmm, is there anything I should be doing in the meantime? 」
Lord Revenant asked, but she stared into the void, tipped her wine glass back a touch, and scratched her head.
「 I’m sorry, I’m just a little foggy-headed from sleepiness. Speaking of which, what happened to that adventurer? 」
「 I turned them away a couple of weeks ago. I didn’t expect them to stay for over a month, but I’m sure they’re not too sure about that either. 」
「 You’re a shrewd one. The timing could’ve killed me, but I’ll take that as a yes. 」
Marius narrowed her eyes and nodded, then let out a deep breath. As she wondered if something was troubling him, she pulled out a small bottle from her pocket.
The red liquid that lay quietly on the desk was unusually intimidating and caught Lord Revenant’s attention.
「 What the heck is this…… 」
「 Immortality potion. I’ve prepared it for you, but you may or may not take it. 」
「 Were you successful? 」
Marius closed her eyes and gave a small shake of her head.
「 I’ve been making a lot of adjustments, but I’m still the only one who’s had any success, so I don’t recommend drinking it, it seems to work well only with some people. But you can’t fight as you are now, whether you follow me to the capital or wait here, it’s going to be very dangerous. That’s why I’m leaving the choice to you. 」
After a moment of silence, Lord Revenant’s gulped. His hands were clenched tightly, and cold sweat was dripping down his neck.
「 If I had failed, what would I end up be……but 」
Lord Revenant swallowed the words that were threatening to come out of his throat and held his trembling arm.
He took a deep breath, and with each deep breath, the shaking became less and less, and eventually, when the shaking stopped completely, he turned over, opened his mouth and started speaking.
「 Doctor Marius, have you ever felt 《 Trialed 》? 」
「 Trialed? Trials, or in a way, I guess you could say it’s been a series of trials, whether it’s the potion, the barrier, or the creation of the undead. 」
Marius tilted her head and said reminiscently, and Lord Revenant, who had regained his composure, gave a small laugh.
「 Instead, when you are at a crossroads in your life, for example, you can put your luck and your ability on a scale, just like a test. When you are able to bring the scales as close to your side as possible, you will be able to rise to a higher level. 」
「 Hmmm 」
Marius listened with unusual interest, nodded, and then pointed to the scar on his neck.
「 Then again, maybe this is the result of me overcoming the ordeals. 」
「 I know, and I feel that this is a true trial for me. 」
「 Aren’t you getting a little carried away? 」
Marius chuckled, throwing her hands up in the air. As a scholar, it’s hard to talk about trials and tribulations in the face of a drug that will almost certainly kill you.
「 A dream, you say. That’s been my life story. 」
(Marius-dono is right, if we start attacking the capital, there is a high possibility that our connection with the territory will be easily exposed. I’ll be in danger for some time to come, at least until the capital is destroyed……It’s a test, to be a king)
Taking another deep breath, Lord Revenant reaches for the vial.
「 I’m going to be a king. I’m going to be a king…… 」
Muttering to himself, Lord Revenant opened the lid with a slightly trembling hand and downed the liquid inside in one gulp.
Lord Revenant, who had been meditating tightly for a breath, looked at Marius with a joyful smile on his face, as if he was sure that nothing would happen.
「 No particular change……Ugh, uh, aaaaaaaahhhh! 」
After watching Lord Revenant suddenly curl up in agony, the vial falling from his hand and bouncing on the carpet, Marius muttered without seeming to care about his condition.
「 The ordeal was a failure, I guess. It didn’t matter to me, either way. Whether you drank or not. It’s more about whether you succeed or not. 」
Every time he struggles, his flesh scrapes off, his bones enlarge and break into several pieces, and he turns into a monster with many parts that wriggle like a snake.
「 Well, I guess, the immortality potion was never perfected in the end, that’s a shame. 」
With the sound of bones breaking and changing shape, a short time after Lord Revenant took the potion no trace of his human form was left, and he had become a monster.
「 The only thing is, for a guy who says he’s going to be a king, he’s not very bright. What were you planning to be? The king of a ruined and uninhabited country? 」
「 Guuuh……will be king……will be king…… 」
Perhaps in response to Marius’s voice, Lord Revenant, who had turned into a monster, spoke up, but there was no trace of thought in his voice, and he merely replied reflexively.
「 After all, maybe that drug was just a special match for me, but still, You’ve always had a certain quality about you, and I’ve never seen anyone mutate into that before, it looks strong 」
The all-white monster, which seems to be made entirely of bones, has four human-like arms and a long, thick tail like that of a giant snake, with a long, thin, sharp tail-bone at its base, perhaps because it used to be a human, it has a somewhat human-like silhouette.
「 Well, there’s no point in telling you anymore. 」
With the monster standing there waiting for Marius to tell it what to do, she poured what little wine she had left into her glass, took a sip, and then she gave a third big yawn.
「 Still, it’s a little sad to have no one to talk to. 」
The words sounded small and very lonely in the office, which was dimly lit only by candlelight after the sun had set.