Ex Strongest, Warming Up the Friendship with Old Friend
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“In other words, did you die once and got reincarnated into this world? Well, you’ve been lacking common sense since before… but to be this bad…” (Iori)
“I don’t want to be told by you who were summoned as a hero in this world. Nevertheless, you took the position of the Demon King after defeating the previous one. So, you’re the one who lacks common sense.” (Soma)
“Is that so?” (Iori)
“Yes, I’m so sure about it.” (Soma)
While sitting under the big tree, Soma and Iori were talking about the past that led until now. They were immersing themselves in the nostalgic mood. To be honest, at first, they had some reserves, but now, they didn’t have the slightest feelings of it. It was as if they had returned to those days.
To put it simply, Soma and the man in front of him — Iori were old friends. Well, far from the old, from Soma’s point of view, it would be a friend of the previous life…
“Hmm… speaking of the old friend of the previous life, you’re just a painful guy.” (Soma)
“What? Are you talking about being reincarnated as a hero or Demon King like right now?” (Iori)
“…You’re surely right.” (Soma)
When Soma said that, he smiled. No matter which part he chose, it didn’t make much different.
When he thought about it, they had come this far in many ways.
“Nevertheless, I was quite surprised to hear your story, but wasn’t that the case? After all, it’s a matter of the difference in life experience, right?” (Iori)
“No, as I said before, life experience isn’t a big deal for me. There’s another reason.” (Soma)
“What happened to your view of life like it doesn’t matter much while you and the Dragon God was killing each other? Is that the reason? If it’s about a similar story, it’s part of life experience, isn’t it?” (Iori)
“In that case, I didn’t experience it myself, so I don’t think that’s included, but… either way, that’s certainly not the case.” (Soma)
The reason why Soma wasn’t surprised to hear Iori’s story was simple. It was because he knew the story, and he was able to predict it.
A hero was summoned from a different world. The figure of a hero was no longer seen on that day. The Demon King was defeated and the seat was taken over.
And the surname of that person was Kanzaki.
As expected, Soma was somewhat surprised that Iori became the Demon King, but once he knew that fact, all that remained was to connect those stories with a single line. It wasn’t a difficult story.
“Do I feel strange when I was told that way? I don’t think so, but… rather, if you knew the name Kanzaki, wouldn’t it be a surprise to know that I’m the Demon King?” (Iori)
“No, the surname Kanzaki isn’t that rare, but there was a possibility that it was someone other than the world I knew. Despite taking that possibility into account, I was really surprised when I realized that you were the Demon King, you know?” (Soma)
By the way, Soma had no other reason to realize that Iori was the Demon King at that moment. If the Demon King and Iori weren’t related, they would be wary.
“Aah, I see… Hmm? No, wait a sec? How do you know the name Kanzaki in the first place?” (Iori)
“Hmm? Why are you wondering about that?” (Soma)
“I’ve always been known as Iori. That’s especially when the time I was a hero. I mean, if something went wrong, it seemed easier to hide.” (Iori)
“As always, your head works only in a strange direction. You’re just trying to avoid troubles, yes?” (Soma)
“Well, of course. So, even after I became the Demon King, I have never used the name Kanzaki for the same reason except for certain people.” (Iori)
“What do you think people are going to do when the Demon King is hiding himself?” (Soma)
No, perhaps, was it necessary to think it that the reason was him being a Demon King?
However, if that was the case, it was acceptable to have doubts about it. That said…
“I just don’t think it makes sense if you don’t make it all the way through.” (Soma)
“Hmm? What do you mean?” (Iori)
“I mean what I mean? If your relative is using the name of Kanzaki, there will be no point even of you’re hiding it.” (Soma)
“Hmm? What’s that… No, that reminds me. How did you get here?” (Iori)
It was at the moment when Iori raised that question… Before Soma answered it, the most eloquent answer itself emerged.
“Aah, as I expected! If I think there is a path that I don’t know… you were hiding in this place…!?” (Aina)
“Sometimes I couldn’t find his figure no matter how much I looked for. I knew that there was something like a hidden room somewhere, but… this is the place.” (Butler)
“Geh… Dang it… Have I been discovered… Aina?” (Iori)
It seemed that Iori didn’t expect her. That was because the daughter, who hadn’t come back for two years, suddenly showed up. That would be a natural reaction.
“Why… no, I see. Is that why?” (Iori)
Along with that whisper, Iori turned his gaze to Soma, but he just shrugged his shoulders.
Well, he surely didn’t explain it, but he didn’t try to conceal it. In fact, they just finished explaining each other’s situation a little while ago and there was no time to answer that question.
However, if Soma was asked whether he would answer it or not, he wouldn’t say anything. After all, it would be interesting if someone told him.
“Dear me. It’s been a long time since we met, and yet, you haven’t changed at all! How many times have I told you to act like a Demon King!?” (Aina)
“Aah, no. That is… Aina?” (Iori)
The second reply was surely in different tone compared to the previous one. There was definitely a different kind of surprise.
Aina was unaware of it that it contained a different meaning, but… when Iori directed his eyes again to Soma, he just shrugged his shoulders. That was because he understood the meaning.
“Is this because of you?” (Iori)
“Well…? I haven’t done much, you know? It’s probably due to the efforts of the person herself.” (Soma)
“Well, if she could do it, she would have already done it long ago…” (Iori)
“Wait a sec, Tou-sama, listen… eh? Come to think of it. Why is Soma here…?” (Aina)
“No, aren’t you a bit too late to notice me?” (Soma)
After all, she had been looking hard for Iori. Since she also said that this man was often giving her a hard time, Soma understood her feelings. Moreover, it had been a long time for her since she reunited with her family.
“Well, I had a spare time while waiting for you. So, when I was exploring to spend the time, I found this place and subsequently, I found him.” (Soma)
“You’re doing as you please again…” (Aina)
“But, that did help you find this place, yes? I don’t think you know about this place.” (Soma)
“Surely, we didn’t know about this, but… for my reference, may I ask you how you found this place.” (Butler)
“I didn’t do anything special, you know? I felt something strange when I walked as usual, and when I examined it, I found this place.” (Soma)
“I see… As expected of Ojou-sama’s friend.” (Butler)
“You’re also the same. You’re still like that. I feel like you’re getting worse or there is some kind of evolution. By the way, is it difficult to deal with this guy?” (Aina)
“I think it’s reasonable? Don’t you also think the same?” (Soma)
“Eh… aah, yes?” (Aina)
Aina, who was excited a moment ago, had lost the excitement for some reason. Soma was also here, could it be that…? She tilted her head. Then, while still confused, she looked at Soma and asked a question.
“Uhm, Soma… for some reason, I feel like you are strangely close to Tou-sama…?” (Aina)
He agreed with that question. Surely, it was natural to have doubts if Soma was friendly to a person of his father’s age.
“Well, I don’t deny it, but I know him in a lot of ways.” (Soma)
“…I feel like I heard something similar before.” (Aina)
“Is it strange?” (Soma)
He couldn’t say that there were reasons to hide it, but it was a bit complicated to explain the situation. It wasn’t because of Iori, but to be honest, it was a hassle. On the other hand, there was no particular need to explain, and the easiest thing to do was not to explain it.
“As for me, I don’t care, but if Soma said so, that would be the case. It’s a hassle to explain, so I’m fine.” (Iori)
“Well, it’s not like I really want to know and I also don’t need it, but no matter how I think about it, isn’t it strange? Aah, I don’t care.” (Aina)
Although Aina was dissatisfied, she seemed to be convinced. Nevertheless, the dissatisfaction didn’t go away and as she gave him scornful eyes, he replied by shrugging his shoulders.
Well, if there was an opportunity, he would talk about it.
“Ojou-sama, I’m sorry to interrupt your talk, but since the Demon King has been found, why don’t we get back soon? Your friends are waiting for you.” (Butler)
“Aah… that’s right. Well then, shall we go back first?” (Aina)
To end the conversation, the chief butler brought out the matter of Felicia and Sheila. As a result, the situation smoothly progressed to the next development. This man was worth to be called the chief butler.
And before that…
“By the way, it’s fine if you try to run away, but if this happens, I’ll cooperate with her and catch you, alright?” (Soma)
“Tsk… you’re not worthy to be called my friend.” (Iori)
“Unfortunately, I’m Aina’s friend.” (Soma)
If he put a nail on Iori, who was trying to run away secretly, that made him really gave up. It didn’t mean that he didn’t want to entertain Soma’s group. He just didn’t want to do work probably… but as always, he was that kind of man. It seemed that the nature of the self-proclaimed NEET hadn’t changed.
Soma thought about it again when he started walking after Aina and the chief butler. Iori, who also followed later, noticed that he was watching Aina and saw her expression.
Perhaps, the present Aina was how she originally was before she left the castle. By looking at her expression, it seemed that nothing had changed.
While thinking that he could at least show his face as her parent, Soma loosened his mouth a little as he observed Iori.
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