Volume 10: Alcrem Duchy
Thomas C. ($50), Alexander T. ($30), Jordon A. ($30), Craig W. ($25), Johari N. ($25), Sandra P. ($20), Daniel V. ($10), Mathilde K.D. ($5), and Daniel C. ($5) are the sponsors we should all be thanking this time.
Vandalieu looked happily at the him that was slowly taking shape through being reconstructed and broken down repeatedly, and the sight of everyone taking part in the process.
He had the feeling that they had increased in number without him realizing it, but he was more interested in how fun it all was rather than worrying about that.
“Van, this sticky black stuff won’t come off,” said Pauvina.
Vandalieu noticed that she and some others had discovered something mixed with the blocks… the fragments of Vandalieu.
“Some of the fragments have a black, strongly adhesive substance mixed among them… Danna-sama, what could this be?” asked Bellmond.
“We do know that it’s not a good thing; it’s somehow not Vandalieu-sama-like,” said Eleanora, looking perplexed.
Vandalieu looked at the fragments that they were pointing to through the eyeballs and compound eyes around him and saw that there were black muscle-like things between the fragments.
There was something black in between the fragments, similar to the white striations found in high-quality meat. For some reason, Vandalieu felt a sense of repulsion the moment he saw it.
Every human and conscious person had a part of them inside that they didn’t want to believe existed, but Vandalieu felt a different kind of presence from it. However, he could not remember what it was.
“Okay, time for an encore,” said Vandalieu, deciding that he couldn’t remember so he would have Kanako dance some more in the dome that was his own skull.
Every movement of her legs caused grooves to be carved into the gray flesh-mass fragments, providing moderate stimulation for Vandalieu.
“Hmph, I must not lose!” said Bone Man as he began to make cuts in the fragments in front of him. This stimulation was perhaps a little strong.
But before long, Vandalieu remembered what that black substance was. It was the three curses that Rodcorte had placed on him.
Rodcorte had placed three curses on Vandalieu – ‘Experience gained in previous life not carried over,’ ‘Cannot learn existing Jobs’ and ‘Unable to gain Experience Points independently.’
These were still in effect, but… they caused almost no hindrance to Vandalieu now.
In fact, it was possible that these curses were why his Mana pool had increased to this point.
“So, what shall we do, boy? It will be quite the task, but should we try removing all of it?” asked Zadiris.
Vandalieu wasn’t sure whether to put a pause on the rebuilding to try and remove the curses or ignore them and continue the rebuilding.
It had already been over ten years since Vandalieu was reincarnated in Lambda, so the ‘Experience gained in previous life not carried over’ curse was almost entirely meaningless now. As for ‘Cannot learn existing Jobs,’ there were many undiscovered Jobs, so it did not cause any significant inconvenience for Vandalieu.
The only curse that was still actively hindering Vandalieu was ‘Unable to gain Experience Points independently,’ but this also caused him no problems as long as he was a little careful, as he had his Dead Spirit Magic and his Demon King Familiars.
Was it worth it for Vandalieu to delay the reconstruction of his soul to remove these curses?
And even if he did choose to delay his soul’s reconstruction to remove them, would it actually be possible?
Using one of his hands that had been completely built, Vandalieu took one of the fragments nearby and opened it up to find its cross-section filled with black specks.
“… It seems impossible to remove all of this,” said Princess Levia, sounding disheartened.
In order to remove all of the black substance, every single fragment of Vandalieu’s soul would need to be opened up and checked before being used. But the fragments varied greatly in size, from small fragments that would fit in the palm of a hand to large fragments that would need all four of Vigaro’s arms to hold.
The total volume of the fragments was roughly equivalent to an entire skyscraper’s worth. There were more people working on the task than there were at the beginning, but even so, there weren’t enough.
“And there’s definitely got to be some negative effects to breaking down the fragments even smaller than they are now, even for you. You’re in a bit of trouble even now, aren’t you?” said Borkus.
As he said, there was no guarantee that Vandalieu would be completely fine after having the fragments of his soul, which was already in pieces, broken down even smaller.
On top of that, it would be problematic for Vandalieu to be unable to move his arms and legs for too long. After all, he had entered the city of Morksi in order to draw Murakami and Birkyne out.
“So, should we just take off the stuff on the surface of the fragments? That should at least do something,” said Schneider, who had joined the task without Vandalieu noticing.
Even if it was impossible to remove all of the black substance, it could be assumed that the curses’ effect would decrease if some of it was removed.
It was small consolation, but it would be unpleasant to simply leave the black substance as is.
“Alright, let’s just take the stuff off the surface of the fragments and gather it up. If you’re struggling to get it off, work with the person next to you!” said Schneider.
Everyone obeyed his instructions… and began moving with rather dull movements. It seemed that their consciousnesses were sluggish because they were dreaming.
Some time later, Knochen brought the black masses of curse that had been gathered together to Vandalieu.
Knowing that it would be terrible if it were to stick to anyone else, Vandalieu decided to use Soul Devour to break it. He didn’t devour it; he simply extinguished it from existence by breaking it down.
Vandalieu easily broke a part of his curses to pieces.
Immediately after returning to his Divine Realm, Rodcorte began devoting all of his effort into the work on the soul of the ‘Ash Blade’ Edgar, one of the members of the Five-colored Blades.
“… I wonder how much meaning there is to this task?” he wondered.
Ordinarily, Rodcorte would not repair… heal, damaged souls. This was because there was no meaning to it.
Rodcorte being in possession of a soul meant, under ordinary circumstances, that the body that the soul belonged to was already dead. In other words, its life had already ended.
With that being the case, Rodcorte could simply place the soul in his circle of transmigration system, which would take it to its next life no matter how damaged it was. The damage to the soul would be largely repaired in the process.
If such a soul was born as a human, it might perhaps behave and react to things more strangely than a baby with a healthy soul, but that would be the extent of the effects. The damage would heal completely over the next few years, and the soul would enter a new, ordinary life.
If the soul was born as something other than a human, even these small effects would not be seen.
The reason that Rodcorte was repairing Edgar’s soul despite all of this was because he had been requested to do so by Alda, the god of law and fate. If Edgar were to be lost, the Five-colored Blades would become greatly weakened, so Alda had asked Rodcorte to do anything that he could.
“Indeed, the Five-colored Blades were able to corner Vandalieu a great deal. I must admit that they performed the best in battle against him out of all of those who have faced him,” Rodcorte murmured to himself.
At the very least, they had done far better than the reincarnated individuals utilized by Rodcorte… the ‘Gungnir’ Kaidou Kanata and the ‘Death Scythe’ Konoe Miyaji.
Having seen records of the series of battles fought by Heinz and his companions, he felt that they had a chance of defeating Vandalieu… at least a one in ten-thousand chance.
Vandalieu’s powers had been greatly limited in that Dungeon. Perhaps not reduced by as much as half, but Rodcorte doubted that he had been able to exert even two-thirds of his original strength.
And there was no doubt that if weren’t for the intervention of Curatos, the god of records, not only Edgar’s, but Delizah and the all-important Heinz’s souls would have been devoured as well.
On top of that, the Dungeon was largely destroyed during the battle, so it was uncertain as to whether Heinz and his companions could become any stronger.
“To insist on occupying me with the task of restoring a man who does not even possess any cheat-like abilities… and even demand that I ‘do nothing unnecessary’ other than repair his soul. I was certain that Alda would have requested me to add cheat-like abilities like those of the reincarnated individuals,” Rodcorte muttered.
“… I’m pretty sure that this Alda god has made some good decisions. Warning you not to do anything unnecessary is absolutely on the mark, and the same goes for the other decisions he’s made,” said Aran, his eyes fixated on Edgar’s soul with an expression of pity on his face.
Aran had ascended to become a familiar spirit, a spiritual life-form. It couldn’t be pleasant for him to see a deeply-damaged soul.
What Rodcorte was doing was equivalent to transplanting an Edgar whose body surface was missing over 90% of its skin into the empty skin of Niltark’s destroyed heroic spirit Luke, then performing plastic surgery based on previous records of Edgar’s appearance.
But perhaps fascinated by the task of restoring a soul, Aran showed no sign of wanting to avert his eyes.
Rodcorte had no problem with his work being observed, so he made no attempt to stop Aran from watching.
“Other decisions, you say?” he asked Aran.
“The fact that he’s not expecting anything from us reincarnated individuals,” Aran replied. “Excluding Murakami’s group, everyone you’ve sent so far has failed, right? With that being the case, from Alda’s point of view, he just doesn’t want to lose the strongest cards in his hand, the ones that he’s been raising himself.”
Now that Aran mentioned it, this was indeed the case. ‘Gungnir’ and ‘Death Scythe’ had been pitifully defeated, while ‘Venus’ and two others had betrayed Rodcorte. ‘Noah’ had refused to take part and fled the Bahn Gaia continent, and ‘Super Sense’ was attempting to do the same.
The rest had yet to produce any results.
It wasn’t surprising that Alda had no trust in the reincarnated individuals who had accomplished nothing.
“Well, considering that, his choice of leaving one of his strong cards in your hands is incomprehensible,” Aran added. “Couldn’t the other gods have done something? They grant divine protections and have their familiar spirits descend on their followers; they probably do some work with souls.”
This seemed to be the thought process of Aran, who only had knowledge of gods other than Rodcorte and didn’t know them personally.
It was true that gods granting divine protections and responding to the activation of the Familiar Spirit Descent Skill to have familiar spirits descend upon their followers were feats related to the soul in a way.
However, the task that Rodcorte was performing now was in another dimension.
“If Alda and his servants believed they could have done this task on their own, they would not have requested that I do it,” said Rodcorte. “The fact that they have means that they do not believe it possible for them to do it.”
In any case, Edgar’s almost non-functional soul needed to be restored to a state as close as possible to his original state. It wasn’t just his personality and memories; he needed to be able to use the Skills he had acquired just as he was able to before.
To Alda’s knowledge, Rodcorte was the only god who could possibly be capable of accomplishing this.
Though it is possible that there is such a god in Vida’s faction, Rodcorte thought to himself.
It was unpleasant for him to imagine this, but the fact that she handled her own circle of reincarnation system meant that it was likely that Vida herself had expert knowledge regarding souls. It was possible that she or her subordinate gods would be capable of repairing Edgar’s soul.
Of course, it was even more impossible for Alda to request this of them than Rodcorte.
“What I find more difficult to believe is your actions, the fact that you are speaking to me. Are you curious as to what was decided in the gods’ council and the battle between Vandalieu and the Five-colored Blades?” Rodcorte asked Aran.
“… Of course I am,” Aran muttered.
“I see. That is why you are trying to gain information from me while the other two are analyzing information regarding Vandalieu from the records,” said Rodcorte. “Would ‘Inspector’ not have been more suitable for that task? You have no guarantee that I am not lying.”
“If it were Izumi here, you might not say anything at all,” Aran pointed out.
“… Hmm, that is true,” Rodcorte agreed.
It would have been a troublesome task to protect his secrets, responding to questions without lying so as not to be detected by the ‘Inspector’ ability, while treating Edgar at the same time. It would have been far easier for Rodcorte to ignore any questions and not reply with a single word.
But during the council… the discussion with Alda and his followers, nothing had been decided that Rodcorte needed to keep a secret from his familiar spirits. Aran and the others had already correctly predicted the contents of the discussion.
“Regarding the reincarnated individuals, I will erase their memories if they refuse to show any desire to fight against Vandalieu. I will then either reincarnate them in adult bodies in Churches controlled by Alda’s forces, or take their abilities back and reincarnate them as infants,” said Rodcorte.
“I expected the former, but why did you decide the latter?” Aran asked.
“Because Alda and his followers believe that each reincarnated individual has things that they are suited for and things that they are not,” Rodcorte replied. “Even if I erase their memories and they are made to be champions, it seems that those who are not suited to battle will remain that way, as they will possess their original personalities.”
If Rodcorte were to erase someone’s memories to the point that their entire personalities would disappear, they would also forget how to speak and walk, returning to an infant-like state. If the reincarnated individuals were to be used as fighting forces, Rodcorte would need to preserve their basic knowledge, such as language, when erasing their memories. But doing that would leave their personalities intact.
If the reincarnated individuals’ remaining personalities were the kind that disliked fighting or felt distrust in unfamiliar religions, they would become a hindrance.
“It seems that it would be problematic if reincarnated individuals were to feel distrust towards the people of the Churches and escaped. With that being the case, Alda believes that there is a higher chance of succeeding if I simply recover their abilities from them and grant them to others,” said Rodcorte.
“I see. That might be for the best,” said Aran, remembering his companions who were still alive in Origin.
They would have their memories erased and their abilities removed. But that was only natural for someone dying and being reborn. None of them even knew that a third life was awaiting them.
At the very least, it would be far better than being forced into a battle that they did not want to fight, risking their souls being devoured by Vandalieu… There were too many things that they were better off not knowing, and this was particularly true for the ‘Angel’ Narumi.
“Speaking of the reincarnated individuals, has something happened in Origin? I sense a curious deviation in your thoughts,” said Rodcorte.
He had quickly looked over the records of Aran and the other familiar spirits in spare moments during Edgar’s treatment, but Aran remained composed.
“What are you talking about?” he said calmly.
However, Aran had ascended to become one of Rodcorte’s familiar spirits. Rodcorte saw through Aran’s façade and knew that he was hiding his discomposure. The thought that perhaps the familiar spirits’ records were worth investigating in detail, even at the cost of delaying Edgar’s recovery, crossed Rodcorte’s mind.
However, Rodcorte stopped Edgar’s treatment for another reason. He sensed a part of his own power… a very tiny part, being destroyed.
“… Vandalieu has broken a part of the curses that I placed on him? How futile,” he mused.
The curses that he had placed on Vandalieu’s soul were now unremovable even for him, largely due to Vandalieu’s own actions.
Rodcorte had seen in the records of the Five-colored Blades that Vandalieu was capable of not only breaking others’ souls, but absorbing them by devouring them as well. Because of this, his soul had been greatly transfigured.
The only possible methods of removing the curses likely remaining now were Vandalieu destroying them along with his own soul, or Rodcorte using the same method.
But the fact that Vandalieu had attempted to remove the curses meant that… even if his soul was damaged to the extent of him devouring his own soul, he would quickly recover.
“It seems that I cannot afford to spend too much time,” Rodcorte muttered to himself.
It was likely that the ‘Avalon’ Rikudou Hijiri would make a move within the next few years, causing the deaths of even more reincarnated individuals than during the previous incident, but… it was possible that Rodcorte could not afford to wait for this to happen.
With that being the case, Edgar, who was currently in Rodcorte’s possession, was a precious part of the currently-existing anti-Vandalieu force.
“But at this rate, it will take time to return Edgar to Lambda. I have already used up all of the usable fragments of this heroic spirit… I suppose it cannot be helped,” Rodcorte said in a resigned voice.
“Huh? Hey, what the hell is that?!” Aran exclaimed.
From his pocket, Rodcorte had produced some fragments of the soul of the Demon King Guduranis… or rather, some residual pieces of his thoughts and memories, not even large enough to be categorized and given names.
Using these, he continued Edgar’s treatment.
“Hey, I can tell that powder was dangerous just by looking at its color! You just sprinkled it over Edgar, didn’t you?!” Aran shouted.
“This is something that you do not need to know about,” Rodcorte told him.
Though there was no changing the fact that these were fragments of the Demon King’s soul, the very act of repairing a soul on the verge of collapse by transplanting the soul fragments of a heroic spirit was already unprecedented. Surely it would not matter if there were some adverse effects.
It would perhaps be dangerous to join together the crucial soul fragments of Guduranis that Alda had sealed away… the Demon King’s core, which was needed to hold all of the fragments together and resurrect the soul as Guduranis, and the Demon King’s life, which was needed for Guduranis’s fragments to function as a part of him instead of parasitizing other life forms.
However, the risk of Edgar’s restored soul ending up being devoured by Vandalieu was far greater than the risk of such things occurring, so it was not even worth thinking about.
“With this, I can shorten the time required for Edgar’s treatment. You three will need to watch over the system in my stead,” said Rodcorte.
“… Alright,” Aran said, giving up on the impossible task of persuading Rodcorte to explain what the powder was and walking away.
Lost in his own thoughts, Rodcorte did not even glance at Aran’s back.
Considering their disloyalty, my three familiar spirits are quite useful. I was only able to attend Alda’s council, and I am only able to devote myself entirely to Edgar’s treatment, because they are watching over the system. This would not have been possible with familiar spirits that have no mind of their own, he thought. It is likely best to leave them be for a while. At the very least, there should be no problems as long as they are watching Earth and Origin. Vandalieu exists only in Lambda, after all.
And so, Rodcorte decided to prioritize Edgar’s treatment over looking through his familiar spirits’ records, and in doing so missed his chance to learn that while Vandalieu did not exist in Origin, Banda did.
Awakening in his inn, Vandalieu checked his Status just in case, but the curses were still there after all.
However, the numbness in his limbs had diminished greatly compared to the day before, and he gave a sigh of relief upon finding that he was able to move his body.
He left the inn with Darcia and the first thing he did was purchase a food cart.
“Vandalieu, is this really okay?” Darcia asked.
“There’s no problem, Mom,” Vandalieu replied.
Through the information network of the criminal organization that Eleanora and the others had infiltrated and taken control over, Vandalieu had learned of an old man who had retired from his food cart business last year. He purchased the food cart second-hand from the old man for three times its market value, with that sum also including hush money to keep quiet, and the old man walked away beaming happily.
“It can be used with no problems if we clean it a little,” said Vandalieu.
The old man had used the food cart with care. With some cleaning, it wouldn’t look out of place on the main street.
“That’s not what I mean. I’m talking about the numbness in your limbs and your Mana,” said Darcia.
She was worried because Vandalieu still had some numbness remaining in his limbs, and his Mana had not yet fully recovered.
“… Well, roasted skewers aren’t that difficult to make. And I’ve recovered about half my Mana,” said Vandalieu.
He had only recovered about half of his Mana because his soul was currently undergoing reconstruction.
Even with only half of it recovered, he still had approximately 3,500,000,000 Mana, so there were indeed no problems, but there was still an expression of concern on Darcia’s face.
“But it would be dangerous if you needed to fight… Don’t you think you should call Bellmond-san and drink her blood?” she suggested in a whisper.
The blood of Bellmond, who possessed the ‘Offering’ Unique Skill, had the effect of rapidly recovering the Mana of those who consumed it. In ordinary circumstances, drinking her blood would have caused Vandalieu to make a full recovery.
“But Mom, Bellmond is currently acting as the secretary and lover of the boss of the criminal organization, so getting her to come out here right now is a bit… Anyway, this is probably a problem that has to do with my soul, so drinking her blood might not be enough to cure me,” Vandalieu pointed out.
He had made the effort to take control of a criminal organization without anyone noticing; it would be far too frustrating to risk breaking Bellmond’s cover to have her come out here only to have her blood not work.
“You’re right. If it’s to do with the soul, there’s no telling what will happen… Ah, how about drinking my blood? I’m Vida’s incarnation, so it might have some effect! Veld-sensei told me to be careful not to give my blood to any remnants of the Demon King’s army plotting to resurrect evil gods!” said Darcia.
As to be expected of the incarnation of the goddess of life and love – It seemed that her blood was immensely precious in a way.
“And I’m really confident in my regenerative ability. Even if you drink my blood until your whole stomach is full, I’ll be back to normal in no time,” Darcia added.
Her ‘Super Rapid Regeneration’ Skill was Level 5; her blood would quickly be replenished.
“… Then let’s try it when we get back to our inn room,” said Vandalieu.
They were keeping their voices down now, but he had the feeling that it would be a bad idea to start drinking blood while outside. He decided to drink Darcia’s blood after cleaning the food cart and returning to the inn.
“Don’t hold back, put your fangs in deep. If you put them in shallow, the wounds will seal back up right away,” said Darcia.
“Yes, Mom,” said Vandalieu as he bit into her neck with his fangs as he was instructed.
Warm blood filled his mouth, and Vandalieu’s eyes opened wide the moment he tasted it.
It was rich, savory and yet it entered his body without resistance, soaking into him. Power welled up from within the depths of his body.
“Mmm… This reminds me of when I used to breast-feed you back in the day,” Darcia whispered.
These words would normally have caused Vandalieu to writhe in embarrassment, but his body was so filled with power that they did not even register in his mind.
The numbness that had been in his limbs since the morning faded away.
《You have acquired the ‘Enhanced Vitality’ Skill!》
《The Levels of the ‘Enhanced Vitality’ and ‘Bloodwork’ Skill have increased!》
The power filling Vandalieu’s body was not the only effect of Darcia’s blood; the mere act of drinking it granted him a new Skill and increased some Skill Levels.
If a single mouthful had such effects, Darcia’s blood could easily release a sealed evil god or two. The incarnation of Vida was incredible indeed.
“I’m alright now, Mom,” said Vandalieu. “If I drink anymore, I think I’ll go crazy from all the power filling me up,” said Vandalieu as he removed his fangs from Darcia’s neck.
Before he even finished speaking, the wounds they had left in Darcia’s skin had already healed cleanly.
“Okay. Once we take a rest, let’s take the food cart to the Commerce Guild,” said Darcia.
“… I feel like I’d be able to drag the food cart and run into the distant horizon right now. But although the numbness is gone, my Mana hasn’t recovered yet,” said Vandalieu.
“It seems that it really is to do with your soul. But my blood worked for your numbness, so it might have some effect,” said Darcia. “You should drink my blood once a day from now on.”
“… Once we’ve made a temporary registration at the Commerce Guild, let’s buy or rent a house as soon as possible.”
Though this inn was better than the first one Vandalieu had stayed at, the Starling Inn, it was hard to say that it had exceptional soundproofing and security. It would also be problematic if one of the inn workers were to come into the room for cleaning while Vandalieu was drinking Darcia’s blood.
Vandalieu decided to speed up his plans in order to protect their parent-child privacy.
Unlike the Adventurers’ Guild, which was near the entrance to the city, the Commerce Guild was at the city’s center… close to the building that served both as the center of the city’s politics and as the residence of Earl Morksi, the lord of the city.
The Commerce Guild was possibly in the perfect location, right on the border between the residential and commerce districts where the commoners lived, and the high-class residential area inhabited by the city’s lord, the nobles as well as successful merchants and adventurers.
On their way there, Darcia and the food-cart-dragging Vandalieu attracted many stares from the city’s citizens.
“I guess Dark Elves really do stand out?” said Darcia.
“Yes. I saw several Elves when I looked around, but not a single Dark Elf,” said Vandalieu.
“But I can’t use my ‘Chaos’ Skill to make my skin pale… Ah, maybe I should have made my ears round,” said Darcia.
To be precise, the one gathering people’s attention was Darcia. Dark Elves were rare, even in Morksi, which was one of the Alcrem Duchy’s hubs for commerce.
It wasn’t surprising that the townspeople’s gazes were attracted to the beautiful Dark Elf woman walking through the streets.
“… It might not be making much difference,” said Darcia.
Even with her ears made round to disguise herself as a human, a chocolate-skinned beauty stood out among the inhabitants of a city in the northern region of the Bahn Gaia continent who had skin as white as snow.
As for Vandalieu, the people assumed that he was Darcia’s servant and didn’t pay him any attention after the first glance. There were none who realized that they were mother and son.
“Maybe I should cover my face with a hood starting from tomorrow?” Darcia wondered.
“Well, it’s not a bad thing that we’re drawing attention. Murakami has a Radar that tells him my location, but Birkyne wouldn’t take any notice of us if he doesn’t get information that we’re here,” said Vandalieu.
As a part of his plan, Vandalieu and Darcia did need to attract attention to some degree, so it wasn’t entirely a bad thing.
However, Darcia drawing attention also meant that it was easier to attract trouble.
Two large men suddenly stepped in front of Darcia, blocking her way.
“Yo, Nee-chan. Wanna come with us?” one of them said with a grin.
“We’ve just finished work, so come have a drink with us and celebrate,” said the other, flashing a pouch seemingly filled with gold at her.
The men had weapons hanging from their waists; they were likely adventurers or mercenaries. Their arms were thicker than Darcia’s thighs.
“I’m sorry, we’re very busy. If you’re looking for people to celebrate with you, find someone else,” said Darcia, maintaining her gentle smile but firmly declining – standing and facing the men directly.
“Hey, don’t be so cold,” one of the men said with a smirk as he reached out to grab Darcia’s arm.
Meanwhile, the other man was ogling Darcia’s chest.
“You know, we’re pretty famous in the Mercenaries’ Guild –” Suddenly, the man reaching out to grab Darcia stopped in his tracks. “W-we’re sorry for stopping you when you’ve got things to do. We’ll excuse ourselves now!” he stuttered, hastily grabbing his partner’s arm.
“W-what’s the matter? We’re just about to get to the good part…” his friend said, looking bewildered.
“Shut up and come with me! E-excuse us!” the first man said, and with that, the two of them ran away.
If the man really had grabbed her arm, Darcia had been planning to grab his arm back and twist it enough to hurt, but not enough to break it. She blinked in surprise as she watched the men flee, then turned around and gave Vandalieu a confused look.
“Vandalieu, did you do something?” she asked.
“I haven’t done anything yet. Neither has anyone else,” Vandalieu replied.
“… Chase them, fertilizer?” Eisen asked.
“You mustn’t chase them, Eisen,” Vandalieu told her.
Neither Vandalieu, Darcia or anyone around them knew why the two men had run away. Not really caring much about it, Vandalieu and Darcia stopped thinking about it and continued on their way to the Commerce Guild, and the people nearby just assumed that the man harassing the beautiful Dark Elf woman had realized that she was a former adventurer or something, then taken his companion and fled.
The truth was that the fleeing man had a Level 5 ‘Intuition’ Skill, and he had survived on the battlefield many times due to that intuition. This Skill had warned him as he reached out to grab Darcia that he would be in danger if he laid a hand on her. Trusting that instinct, he had fled the scene.
He had made a pitiful display of fleeing from a beautiful woman in front of dozens of people, but it certainly had been a better decision than having his arm twisted by Darcia or having something done to him by Vandalieu.
At first glance, the Commerce Guild looked like some kind of government office.
“I was sure it was going to be more spectacular,” said Vandalieu.
“The Commerce Guild doesn’t actually do any direct trading, so this is good enough,” said Darcia.
Vandalieu stopped the food cart and entered the Guild to find that it was almost empty, partially because it was already almost noon.
With that being the case, making a temporary registration at the Guild would be quick. However, Vandalieu could not shake off his feeling of unease, as he was even less familiar with the Commerce Guild than he was with the Adventurers’ Guild.
That was why he had prepared an advisor that he could rely on for today.
It was the ‘Fine Dog’ Chipuras, former colleague of Bellmond and Isla, one of the Pure-breed Vampire Ternecia’s Five Dogs… or rather, his Ghost.
“The ones entering and leaving this place are not ordinary customers, but merchants, the merchants’ employees and tax officials,” Chipuras said.
He had been slain by Heinz, but he had infiltrated human society before that and served as Deputy Guild Master of the Hartner Duchy’s Commerce Guild for ten years. It was now time for his experience and knowledge to be of use.
“Do not worry. It is rare for there to be problems while making a temporary registration. You just need to respond to the receptionist’s questions confidently, as if you have nothing to hide,” Chipuras assured Vandalieu with a bright smile, looking like a good-natured old man.
His good physique gave him a dignified and dependable aura, and Vandalieu’s unease vanished.
“Well… My memories are slightly unstable because Heinz cut me in two when he killed me,” Chipuras added.
Vandalieu felt a little of his unease return at these words as he approached the counter with the receptionist.
“Excuse me, I’d like to make a temporary registration,” he said.
“Of course. But it is a rule that the business owner must fill out the form themselves…” the receptionist said.
“Yes, I am the business owner.”
“Huh? It’s you, not that Dark Elf lady over there? You’re not kidding?”
“Yes, I really am the business owner.”
“Yes, this is where you use some force!” Chipuras said encouragingly.
The Commerce Guild only registered business owners; their employees did not need to be registered. Thus, Vandalieu planned to be the only one who would be registered, and Darcia would be an employee working at the grilled skewer cart.
“… Alright. Please fill out the form,” the receptionist said.
She seemed unconvinced by Vandalieu’s claim of being the business owner, but there was no law in the Alcrem Duchy that prevented underage individuals from doing business.
Vandalieu was obeying the advice of Chipuras that the receptionist could not hear, and the receptionist handed him the form and a pen, as if she had no other choice.
“Do you need someone to write on your behalf?” she asked.
“No thank you,” Vandalieu replied as he proceeded to write his name, age, race and the details of his business.
“Please note that your registration will be erased if your business does not continue for the duration of the three-month temporary registration period,” the receptionist said.
“Do I need to open my business every day during that period?” Vandalieu asked.
“No, you are free to decide which days your business closes on. However, you will need to submit your ledger at the end of the three months, and if we decide that your business is not sustainable, your registration will be cancelled.”
The receptionist didn’t give Vandalieu any specific requirements, but… it probably meant that there would be no problems as long as the business was making enough income to live on.
“A food cart?” the receptionist said, running her eyes over the completed form. “The Guild will decide where your cart will be set up, so please wait one moment.”
“So I can’t decide that on my own,” said Vandalieu.
“No. There have been conflicts over locations between cart owners in the past, and since then, it has been decided that the Commerce Guild shall designate cart locations. And… you’re a Dhampir,” said the receptionist, looking up from the form.
“Ah, yes. As you can see, I am a Dhampir,” Vandalieu said, removing the cloth covering his eye that he had forgotten about.
He faced the receptionist, showing her his purple and crimson odd-colored eyes.
“This is… Could you please show me your fangs and claws, too?” said the surprised receptionist.
“Of course,” said Vandalieu, showing her his fangs and claws as requested.
“I-I see. You are indeed a Dhampir… It is my first time seeing one,” the receptionist said.
The only publicly known Dhampir living in the Orbaume Kingdom was Selen, the Dhampir under the protection of the Five-colored Blades. Many of the Orbaume Kingdom’s citizens had never seen a Dhampir before, and the receptionist was no exception.
“Is there a problem with me being a Dhampir?” Vandalieu asked.
“That’s the way,” Chipuras said encouragingly.
Vandalieu and Chipuras were both on guard, wary of a possible situation similar to the one that had occurred in the Hartner Duchy.
But the receptionist shook her head. “No, not at all,” she said. “Please wait one moment.”
The receptionist took Vandalieu’s form into the back of the office, presumably to determine where Vandalieu would be allowed to set up his food cart.
“It looks like things are going okay, Vandalieu,” said Darcia.
“Yes,” Vandalieu agreed.
“It is as I said it would be, is it not?” said Chipuras.
Vandalieu had made the criminal organization he had taken over investigate the rules of the Commerce Guild, but he and Darcia had still been worried. But they were relieved now that it seemed like the paperwork would be completed without any problems.
However, some time passed, and the receptionist still did not return.
“… Maybe there are more carts than expected, and there isn’t enough space to accommodate them all?” Darcia wondered.
“She might be taking care to not place us next to a stall owned by a believer of Alda,” Vandalieu suggested.
“… I have a bad feeling about this,” said Chipuras.
The receptionist finally returned, with a well-built, bearded middle-aged man behind her.
“Welcome to the Commerce Guild. I am the Deputy Guild Master, Joseph,” the man said, introducing himself. “I have some matters to discuss with you, so I request that the business owner please follow me to the office.”
There was no response from Vandalieu’s Danger Sense: Death, but he had a bad feeling about this man.
It wasn’t just anyone who possessed the ‘Intuition’ Skill, and Joseph certainly didn’t.