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On the evening of the day that marked two weeks since Vandalieu opened his food cart, the Deputy Guild Master Joseph of the Commerce Guild was in his office, his expression so bitter that the number of wrinkles on his face had doubled.
“Grr, that damned, impertinent brat…!” he muttered.
Of course, he was referring to Vandalieu.
“It’s his fault for rejecting my offer and starting his stupid business. I made that offer for his benefit… How ungrateful.”
Joseph had made the offer of making contact with Alda’s peaceful faction to Vandalieu, the second known Dhampir in the kingdom. This was because he wanted connections to the important figures in Alda’s peaceful faction, which was steadily becoming the major faction in the Alcrem Duchy – In particular, he wanted connections with the Five-colored Blades.
Indeed, it was an effort that would benefit Vandalieu in the end as well, though the protection of Alda’s peaceful faction and the backing of the S-class adventurers would be nothing but a nuisance for him. But Joseph couldn’t be blamed for not being aware of that, as he had no way of knowing of Vandalieu’s circumstances.
But Joseph’s offer to Vandalieu hadn’t been for Vandalieu’s benefit in the slightest at the time he made it. He had simply altered his version of events in his own memory to justify the offer to himself.
Unaware of this, Joseph was so angry that he might scream out loud, so he pressed a hand against his mouth. He was from a family of earls, but as the Deputy Guild Master, his office was inferior to the Guild Master’s in size, extravagance and soundproofing.
And no matter how much I educate him, he continues to disobey rather than apologize!
The ‘education’ that Joseph referred to in his mind was his harassment of Vandalieu. However, it was no figurative expression or sarcasm; he truly thought of it as education.
He thought that he was teaching an impertinent brat how cruel the world was and how important it was to listen to one’s superiors. It was something that he had done to many ill-mannered youngsters in the past.
But Vandalieu showed no signs of regretting his actions or wanting to apologize to Joseph and accept his offer. He hadn’t even visited the Commerce Guild once since completing his temporary registration.
Though Joseph had interfered with Vandalieu’s food cart business, Vandalieu had hunted and acquired meat on his own, and even associated other food carts with himself using astounding methods of preparing Goblin and Kobold meat for consumption.
Considering that he had already tamed and increased the Ranks of a stray dog and Giant Rats, he had been noticed as a promising newcomer by the Tamers’ Guild.
And although this was unconfirmed information, the monsters had apparently become members of new races after their Rank increases yesterday. Guild Master Bachem’s visit to the capital was also rumored to be because the Tamers’ Guild headquarters was planning to work on Vandalieu to take him in.
But I don’t care about the Tamers’ Guild. The problem is the Goblin meat!
Since ancient times… Even from the time when the heroic god Bellwood was still alive, countless mages, alchemists, nobles, adventurers and city chefs had attempted to make stinking, unpleasant Goblin meat edible.
These had all resulted in countless failures. Some methods of processing or flavoring the meat had been discovered in the past, but all of them had been so expensive and resulted in tasteless dishes. Methods that spent a large amount of time, effort, flavorings and spices just to make Goblin meat not inedible couldn’t be used in times of food crisis or for feeding the poor.
But Vandalieu knew a way to use Goblin meat in food. The method is apparently Ghoul knowledge, but… how in the world did he learn it? Did he tame them? Or perhaps his Dark Elf mother’s village interacted with Ghouls… No, I don’t care about that. The products are for the filthy poor people, but that technology could be used to squeeze money from nobles that are having problems feeding their people! And yet… That damn wench and her brat! Do they even really want to do business?!
Vandalieu had not folded to Joseph’s harassment, nor had he shown any weakness for Aggar and his companions, whom Joseph had paid, to take advantage of. Instead, he was continuing to make profits. On top of that, Darcia was being treated as a saint after summoning a familiar spirit at the Communal Church.
Darcia and Vandalieu’s popularity was continuing to increase among the city’s inhabitants. It was to the point that Vandalieu was being called the ‘food cart king’ and ‘genius tamer,’ while Darcia was known as a ‘holy woman.’
In fact, Joseph was in the worse position.
He had never cared about what the poor people of the slums thought of him. But because Darcia was being treated as a saint, it wasn’t just the people of the slums; the whole city was beginning to have a bad impression of him.
And once a negative image of Joseph spread throughout the city of Morksi, which was a city of commerce, it would then spread to the surrounding cities and villages through merchants and travelers… No, considering how famous Vandalieu and Darcia were now, it could even spread to other duchies.
At this rate, things would be bad for Joseph once the Guild Master returned.
According to recent rumors, people are calling me a lecherous old man who tried to court that Dark Elf, was rejected and is now harassing her in retaliation! At this rate, things will be bad for me… and yet there is no word from Aggar, even though he told me that he has a good plan. He’s useless after all!
Joseph didn’t trust Aggar very much. He was just a crooked guard in the end; Joseph had decided that he couldn’t expect much after Aggar’s first attempts to find faults with Vandalieu’s business had failed.
Even so, Joseph had kept an eye on Aggar, thinking that perhaps he might come up with some ingenious idea, but… it seemed that it was time to give up on him.
“… Now that it’s come to this, I have no choice. I’ll apologize,” Joseph decided.
He would kneel on the ground before Vandalieu, say that he was wrong and stop his pressure on the wholesale stores, which he had left alone recently as Vandalieu hadn’t been visiting them.
“I have heard that he has been donating to the orphanage and is caring for adventurers who have lost their limbs. He is either doing it to propagate his religion, or if that isn’t the case, he is an unmistakably good person,” Joseph said to himself. “If I bow before him with many people watching, he will likely accept my apology. It might be more effective if I mention Vida’s doctrine during my apology.”
After that, he just needed to quietly continue his duties as Deputy Guild Master until something else happened. And once opportunities presented themselves, he would offer Vandalieu useful-seeming information and treat him favorably as a way of apology.
If he did this repeatedly, their hostile relationship would become hazier.
“Very well. Now that I have made my decision, I will go right now… No, the food cart is located in a back alley of the red-light district. I shall head there to apologize when more people gather in the evening,” Joseph told himself.
As he began thinking about how to word his apology to Vandalieu and Darcia, there was a knock on the door, as if timed to interrupt his thoughts.
“… Enter,” he said without looking at the door, thinking that an employee had come with documents.
But in the next moment, his eyes opened wide in surprise as he saw that it wasn’t an employee who entered, but armed guards.
“W-who are you people?! What do you want with me?!” he shouted.
“Deputy Guild Master Joseph of the Commerce Guild. You’re under arrest for inciting embezzlement and kidnapping by Aggar and three other rogue guards!” one of the guards declared.
Joseph was even more astounded by their words. “I’m under arrest?! Embezzlement and kidnapping?! What are you talking about?!”
He was panicked and confused by these charges that he had no knowledge of. It was true that he had paid Aggar and his companions to find faults with Vandalieu’s business and interfere with it if they found even the smallest excuse. But that was all.
If Aggar had embezzled the guards’ funds and confiscated goods or plotted a kidnapping, Joseph had nothing to do with it. He hadn’t asked him to do such things; he certainly hadn’t incited such activities.
“Where is your proof?! If you wish to arrest me, then show me your proof!” Joseph demanded, standing up from his chair as his panic and confusion turned into anger.
“Silence! Resisting will do you no good!” one of the guards said in response.
Having no intention of showing Joseph proof of the charges, the guards surrounded him, held him down forcibly and began to tie him up.
“You bastards! Do you know who I am?! I-I am a Deputy Guild Master, the uncle of the Earl Isaac Morksi that you serve!” Joseph shouted. “Don’t think you will get away with this –”
But the guards didn’t respond; they simply dragged Joseph from the office that, until seconds ago, had been his. The reason for that was because they had been directly ordered by Earl Isaac Morksi to secure Joseph’s safety.
Isaac had heard a strange report from his spies… He was puzzled by the fact that Aggar and his companions had entered the orphanage through the back door and then vanished without a trace. He was puzzled, but Aggar and his companions were now missing. Isaac guessed that someone had somehow taken them captive and disposed of their corpses somewhere.
He had the feeling that this ‘someone’ was Vandalieu or someone connected to him. There was no proof of this. He only had the vague idea that some advanced magic had been used, an idea that anyone could come up with that couldn’t even be called a deduction. It was an irrational line of thought that all strange events were connected to Vandalieu.
But he couldn’t think of any other reason that Aggar and his companions would vanish at that moment in time.
That was why Isaac had decided to secure Joseph’s safety, as he was likely to be Vandalieu’s next target, and punish him.
He had been driven by the need to show Vandalieu that he was not an enemy by offering his own uncle as a sacrifice, even if it meant becoming indebted to the Commerce Guild.
“Th-this is breaching the Guild’s rights! Do you think the Guild will stay silent over this?! I’m innocent; I’m definitely being framed by someone! SOMEONE BELIEVE ME!” Joseph screamed.
But not a single person responded to Joseph’s words as he was dragged out of the Commerce Guild building.
The morning after Vandalieu acquired the ‘Dream Guider’ Job, around the same time that Joseph was arrested, Simon was in visibly high spirits as he met Vandalieu for his training.
“Listen, Master! The truth is… I’ve acquired a divine protection,” he whispered to Vandalieu and Natania.
“… I see,” said Vandalieu.
“O-oh really…?” said Natania.
“Ah, neither of you believe me! It’s true! When I woke up this morning, I heard ‘You have acquired a divine protection!’ And when I looked at my Status, it was really there!” Simon said happily.
Neither Natania or Vandalieu knew how to respond.
Natania couldn’t just say, “I have it too,” nor could Vandalieu tell him, “I’m the one who gave it to you.”
“So, what kind of god’s divine protection is it?” Vandalieu asked.
Simon gave a bitter smile and scratched his head. “That’s the thing… Even when I look at my Status, the god’s name is covered. All I know is that it’s six characters, and the last character is an extended vowel,” he said.
It seemed that Simon’s Status displayed ‘■■■■■ー’s Divine Protection,’ so he didn’t know that Vandalieu was the one who had given him the divine protection.
TLN: The ー character indicates that the previous character’s vowel sound is extended, but in this case the previous character is hidden, so vowel sound is unknown (to Simon).
“It might be a subordinate god of Vida related to swords or battle. The truth is, Master, I had a strange dream last night. Someone put their warm hand on my back as I was training, and when I turned around, I had received a sword… and when I woke up, I’d received a divine protection,” said Simon, describing his dream. “You’d think that sleep is the specialty of Mill, the goddess of slumber who’s one of Alda’s subordinate gods, but I didn’t get the feeling that it was her. Can you think of any of Vida’s subordinate gods that might rule over dreams or swords?” he asked.
“… No, I can’t think of a subordinate god of Vida who rules over dreams or swords and has a six-character-long name,” said Vandalieu.
He couldn’t give any other response. He couldn’t tell Simon the truth when the truth was that he had used the tip of his hanging tongue to touch Simon’s back rather than his hand, and the thing he had given him was a horn that had fallen off his body rather than a sword.
“I see… Then I suppose I’ll try indirectly asking at the Communal Church… Ah, maybe it’s better to go and visit the library for the first time in over a decade and look it up,” said Simon.
Fang gave a sigh-like bark in disappointment at Simon not realizing the truth, and the rat sisters gave him disappointed looks as well.
“Sorry I can’t tell you which god’s divine protection it is,” said Simon.
He couldn’t tell what they were really thinking; he thought their disappointment was from not being able to hear which god had given him the divine protection.
“I wonder if this kind of thing is common? I’m sure it’s because I’m not pious enough… I can’t even think of a god whose name has six characters and ends with an extended vowel sound,” said Simon, his earlier bright attitude having turned into a depressed one.
Vandalieu wondered whether he should tell Simon, “Don’t worry about it; it can’t be helped.”
“But still, the fact that they’ve given me a divine protection means they’re expecting good things from me! If I do my best with the training, get my arm back and redo things, I’m sure I’ll learn the god’s name!” Simon said. “Now then, let’s go and train!” he said, cheering up again and heading towards the gate.
Fang and the rats followed, likely thinking about what a hopeless junior he was and that he should notice soon enough.
“… It’s surprisingly hard to realize the truth,” Vandalieu muttered.
“I think it’s something to do with the fact that he can only see the vaguest character, but I think it’s normal not to realize, Master,” Natania whispered back.
As far as the people of Lambda were aware, divine protections were granted by gods. The contents of one’s Status was normally important personal information, but divine protections were such special Unique Skills that acquiring them would be happy news to share with those close to oneself.
In addition to reducing the difficulty of overcoming barriers in one’s development and other tangible effects, they gave a sense of achievement in having been chosen by the gods.
It seemed that Simon would never even dream that he had received such a thing from his own master.
“I didn’t think that the person in my dream was you either, Master… although I saw the ‘V’ in my Status when I woke up and thought it might be, and I accepted it after you told me straight away,” said Natania.
She’d had a dream of when she was used as bait by the Flaming Blades and attacked by the Minotaurs. It was a nightmare that she’d had countless times, but in the middle of it, enormous black legs had descended from above.
The legs had crushed the Minotaurs and sent the Flaming Blades flying away with some kicks. Natania, lying on the ground, had looked up to see a grotesque giant looking down at her.
The giant had then picked her up with a bony hand and enveloped her in a warm fluid. That liquid… its crimson blood, was absorbed into Natania, becoming a part of her own blood.
When she woke up from that dream, she had received Vandalieu’s divine protection like Simon. Incidentally, Juliana had also received a divine protection in the same way, causing her to cry emotionally for some time, and it had taken some time to calm her down.
“By the way, I’m happy that I got your divine protection, but… is it related to the training, Master? It won’t have weird effects like making our tongues longer, right?” Natania asked, looking worried.
“Hmm… It’ll probably be alright, won’t it? Well, you might become able to extend your tongue when you want to,” said Vandalieu, giving a rather uncomforting reply.
But Natania and Simon gained the ‘Spirit Form’ Skill in that day’s training.
“Wow! My arm, my arm is moving! I can move this metal artificial arm exactly as I want to, Master!” Simon shouted excitedly.
“Me too, I can walk! I’m still a bit wobbly though!” said Natania.
Simon’s spirit form had inhabited his artificial arm, and it was moving at his command. Likewise, Natania was able to use her two artificial legs, and although her movements were still clumsy, she could stand and walk.
“Congratulations. You’ve cleared the first stage of the training,” said Vandalieu, clapping to congratulate them. “Natania, you have more parts that need moving, so you’ll need more practice. But at this rate, you should be able to move your artificial limbs as if they were your real ones.”
Simon and Natania were moved to tears by these words.
“Now then, we’ll begin the second stage of training right away. We’ll be alternating between combat training with me and free practice,” said Vandalieu.
“Yes, Master!” Simon and Natania replied in unison, their hearts pounding with excitement.
When they returned to the city, a little after lunch, Simon was being carried by Fang and Natania by Vandalieu.
“M-master, you’re incredibly strong…” Simon wheezed.
“I was mostly practicing stances… Am I going to be alright tomorrow?” Natania wondered.
The two of them were totally exhausted and surprised after having learned the difference in strength between themselves and Vandalieu by having practice battles against him.
Simon had been aware that Vandalieu was no ordinary person, and Natania knew from what she had been told that he had the strength of an A-class adventurer or more.
But imagining something and experiencing it were completely different.
“More importantly, how are you able to do those kinds of things? Materializing your spirit form, tearing it off and then throwing it…” Simon muttered.
“And it’s so tricky that your spirit form moves after you’ve thrown it,” Natania added. “Just what kind of spirit form do you have, Master?”
It wasn’t simply that Vandalieu was stronger than the two of them had imagined; it seemed that the way he used his spirit form was inhuman.
“Because it’s easier to improve your Skills by training against people of your own strength and those who are stronger than you. I might have been a little overenthusiastic though, since it was my first time trying to fight with this method as well,” said Vandalieu.
He had mainly trained Simon and Natania with his spirit form, not using any spells or weapons. He had thought it would be better for them to face the same Skills that they were trying to improve.
“And the two of you are the same as me, now that you’ve gained the ‘Spirit Form’ Skill and are able to use them in combat. From the perspective of ordinary people, that in itself would seem quite inhuman,” Vandalieu added.
He was half-right and half-wrong.
Forcibly changing the shape of one’s spirit form would have a corresponding effect on the mind, and in the worst-case scenario, it could cause insanity. The reason this wasn’t the case for Simon and Natania was that their spirit forms were simply returning to the form they had when they had all of their limbs, so their shapes did not deviate from the shape of a human.
On the other hand, Vandalieu had altered the form of his own spirit form so many times that he was well past the point of deviating from the shape of a human. There was no way to describe it other than that it was in a shapeless, Slime-like state.
Natania and Simon did indeed alter their spirit forms like Vandalieu, but the extent to which they did so was very different… though Vandalieu did intend to eventually pull them up (if it could be described as that) to his own level.
“In any case, once you acquire the ‘Materialization’ and ‘Long-distance Control’ Skills, increase their Levels and increase your Mana so that you can sustain your spirit form for long enough, both of you will be able to do the same thing,” said Vandalieu.
This was why he had shown Simon and Natania what their goal was, made them experience it through practice battles and made them believe that they could do the same.
Unlike the body, the spirit form was completely controlled by one’s strength of imagination and will. There were limits to it, but one could do almost anything with it as long as they could imagine it and strive towards it.
“I see… It would be great just to have a body that can fight again, but if I’m going to go for it, then I’d at least try to become a C-class… no, a B-class adventurer or better!” said Simon.
“Me too. I don’t know if I’d be able to return the favor if I only returned to the way I was before. I’d get left behind by Juli… Julia, too,” said Natania.
“Yes, yes, that’s the spirit,” said Vandalieu with a satisfied nod, looking at their sweaty faces as they reached the gate.
“Welcome back. Looks like today’s training was rough,” said Kest, who was on duty at the gate by himself.
Those who knew that Vandalieu had taken the one-armed Simon and limbless Natania outside the city yesterday and today thought that it was strange. Just what were they doing?
But since Vandalieu and Simon would reply that they were training if asked, many misunderstood that Simon and Natania were training to become Tamers and were satisfied by this explanation… because Vandalieu was famous in the city of Morksi not as a mage, but as the owner of a food cart and as a Tamer.
Many adventurers who were Tamers would rely on their tamed monsters in battle, so one could imagine that it was a possible way for the one-armed Simon and limbless Natania to live their lives.
The two of them were totally exhausted, had removed their artificial limbs and were being carried by Fang and Vandalieu, so it wouldn’t be until after the next day that this misunderstanding was cleared.
“Yes. By the way, even if it is midday when less people enter and leave the city, isn’t it a little careless to have just one person on duty?” Vandalieu asked.
“Is Aggar, that senior of yours, slacking off again?” said Simon.
“No, about that, we’re a little short on hands today,” Kest replied vaguely. “Hmm… I’ve been told not to talk about it, but I suppose you’re related, Vandalieu,” he said, seeming to decide to explain properly. “The truth is, it was discovered that Aggar-senp – Aggar, and four other guards, were crooked. I know you’re thinking that it’s a bit late for that, but they smuggled poisonous substances that we confiscated, and… it seems that they were trying to kidnap orphans from the orphanage for human trafficking.”
“No, no way,” Vandalieu said in a flat tone.
“Now that you mention it, it was quite noisy around the orphanage yesterday. To think that such a thing had happened…!” said Simon.
Kest gave a bitter smile and shook his head. “You don’t have to act surprised, Vandalieu. I know you’ve been visiting the orphanage,” he said, assuming that the nuns or the orphans would have told Vandalieu the news. “Fortunately, things ended with it just being a kidnapping attempt. There was apparently a nun who was there when Aggar and his friends leapt over the walls, and they ran away when she screamed. But even if it was just an attempt, kidnapping is a serious crime. Guards who do such things can’t set an example for everyone else in the city. They’re going to be thoroughly investigated, and we’ve been recruiting a lot of new people this morning.”
“Even so, it’s dangerous to have only one person stationed at the gate, isn’t it? From the way you’re talking, they haven’t been caught yet, have they? How would you stop them if they were to try to leave the city?” asked Simon.
“It’s alright. I’m the only one watching people enter the city, but there’s an inspection point set up on the other side of the gate to check people who leave,” said Kest.
“Wow, it’s a good thing we left early in the morning, isn’t it, Master?” Simon said.
“Yes… it is,” said Vandalieu, a little bewildered that his companions’ disposing of Aggar and his companions had had more significant consequences than he had expected.
It was likely the command of the earl or someone close to him, but it seemed that they had made the story so that the masked men that Sister Seris had witnessed were Aggar and his companions… Just how much of the truth had he figured out?
I just told Gufadgarn and the others to wait until the very last moment, then dispose of them if they ever tried to enter the orphanage, but… to think that the spies would try to capture them just seconds later. Why didn’t they capture them before they entered the orphanage? I wouldn’t have done anything to them if the earl’s people dealt with them, Vandalieu thought. Maybe they had a different opinion on how to handle the children and nuns at the orphanage? I would think it best to avoid scaring everyone, but maybe the earl’s people thought differently… I know they have all kinds of circumstances, but if that’s the case, it’s rather unpleasant.
“But since Aggar and his friends haven’t been caught yet, be careful. There’s no guarantee that he’s not plotting something bad out of resentment towards you,” said Kest, having finished explaining things. “Tell your mother to be particularly careful.”
Aggar was currently wandering Gufadgarn’s labyrinth that had no way out, but Kest didn’t know that; he seemed worried that Aggar was hiding in the city somewhere and up to no good.
“Alright. We’ll be careful,” said Vandalieu with a nod, feeling guilty because he couldn’t correct Kest.
He considered having at least Aggar’s corpse be discovered somewhere.
Incidentally, Natania knew the truth; she was pretending to sleep on Vandalieu’s back so that Kest wouldn’t suspect anything.
Upon entering the city and returning to his house, Vandalieu found that he had received a personal invitation to a tea party from the earl.
《Vandalieu has acquired the ‘Food Cart King’ and ‘Genius Tamer’ Titles!》
《You have acquired the ‘Spirit Therapy’ Skill!》
Birkyne mulled over the information that he had received from his puppets in the city of Morksi. “It seems to be the perfect time to make a move,” he said to himself.
The information was extremely fragmented. However, Birkyne considered all strange and inexplicable events in that city to be related to Vandalieu.
According to the information, it seemed that Birkyne’s puppets had slipped into Vandalieu’s pocket better than he had anticipated.
With the puppets in so deep, Vandalieu would not be able to so easily cut them off. It was plenty to use as a negotiating chip and compensation.
“Are you sure about this? At this rate, it is likely that it will reach the region inside of the Boundary Mountain Range that is ruled by him. Would that not be too late?” said one of Birkyne’s close confidants.
“No, we do not have that much time,” said Birkyne, shaking his head. “If we take too long, it is possible that Alda’s believers will make a move. Well, I’m sure they didn’t expect him to begin a peaceful food cart business in the city, so they are likely racking their brains for a way to deal with them as well, and they surely don’t have the forces to defeat him. But it’s possible that the impatient fools will gather the heroes that are their pawns and attack as soon as he leaves the city.”
Birkyne was aware that there were fools even among gods. Alda, who had been incited by Bellwood a hundred thousand years ago, and Vida, who had been unable to see it coming. More recent examples would be Ternecia, who cornered herself and had her hand bitten by her own pet dog, and Gubamon who had gone mad and isolated himself by disposing of all of his own subordinates.
Pure gods were different from dragons, true Colossi and Pure-breed Vampires like Birkyne himself, as well as evil gods that could not maintain their existence without a physical body, but there was no difference in their foolishness.
“Well, it is difficult to imagine that they would force their own heroes to act like bandits. Still, I am not so sure about the reincarnated individuals. It is highly likely that they have acquired impossible powers from the gods,” said Birkyne. “Mortor, have you learned what they are doing?”
Cold sweat appeared on the bald head of Mortor, one of Birkyne’s Four Confidants, a Noble-born Vampire who was once a Dwarf.
“Asagi Minami and his two companions are staying in the Birgit Duchy. They are researching the fragments of the Demon King that they have captured along with alchemists and mages who are connected to our organization, and they are showing no signs of moving away,” he reported. “And it seems that Kaoru Gotouta has left the Farzon Duchy from the port on a boat headed for the Laberta Archipelago. There have been no signs of her returning to the continent.”
The movements of ‘Mage Masher’ Asagi and his two companions, who were clearly reincarnated individuals from the fact that they contacted Vandalieu and their characteristic names, were being reported by individuals in contact with them. Birkyne had also received information regarding the ‘Super Sense’ Kaoru Gotouta, whose characteristic name also gave away the fact that she was a reincarnated individual. Birkyne had information on four reincarnated individuals in total.
“But… Hajime Inui, Junpei Murakami and two others have disappeared,” said Mortor.
The tension in the air of the room increased immediately.
“And?” said Birkyne, indicating for Mortor to go on.
Birkyne’s other confidants began to break out into cold sweats as well.
“Hajime Inui never came close to places where humans live, so it has always been difficult to track him, but since his presence has not been confirmed at any city, village or highway, we do not know whether he is simply inside a Devil’s Nest or Dungeon, or whether he is moving in secret while avoiding attention,” Mortor continued. “Like Hajime Inui, we are unable to confirm the whereabouts of Junpei Murakami and his two companions after they disappeared from the cities and villages that they were staying in.”
Birkyne had also correctly guessed that these two groups were reincarnated individuals from their names; they had evaded being tracked by his organization numerous times.
As the ‘Marionette’ Hajime Inui stayed away from places of human settlement, it was difficult to even have someone make contact with him, let alone maintain surveillance on him. Murakami’s group was simply very wary, so Birkyne’s organization could not make contact with them carelessly.
Though the reasons for each differed, it seemed that the organization had lost track of them.
“I see… Then they are either in hiding near the city of Morksi, or in the process of moving there and going into hiding,” said Birkyne.
Considering the timing of their disappearances, it was easy to guess their purposes. Thus, he did not rebuke Mortor… or go into hysterics.
His confidants all let out a sigh of relief.
“But how did the reincarnated individuals sense Vandalieu’s appearance? Is it the special powers they received from the gods?” one of the other confidants said.
“More importantly, if the reincarnated individuals are going to make a move on Vandalieu, would it not be best to wait and see what results from it? If they are victorious, we profit greatly. If they are defeated, it does not affect us at all.”
“We can’t do that. We don’t know when or with what purpose they will make contact with Vandalieu. It’s possible that they will become his subordinates like Kanako Tsuchiya and the others… though that’s pretty hard to imagine.”
Hajime’s actions were those of someone undergoing repeated harsh training in order to face a powerful foe, and Murakami’s group clearly saw Vandalieu as a target.
It was unlikely that things would end up like they had with Kanako, who had become Vandalieu’s subordinate, or Asagi, who had withdrawn after just speaking with him.
Considering that, it was ill-prepared of them to have their identities revealed just by their names… but perhaps not so much, if I consider that the god who sent them to this world also wanted them to dispose of me? Well, I can think about their circumstances and purposes later, Birkyne thought, turning his attention away from them.
He tapped his finger on the city of Morksi on the map of the Alcrem Duchy on the table.
“If the reincarnated individuals decide to get rid of Vandalieu with an extreme method such as blowing away the entire city, there is no telling what will happen to my puppets. It would be foolish to wait and watch, only to lose the pawns that are necessary for my plan,” said Birkyne.
He did not underestimate the power of the reincarnated individuals, or at least that of Hajime and Murakami. If they intended to kill Vandalieu, then they likely had power equal to or greater than that of A-class adventurers.
If such individuals were to act violently without considering the victims, the city of Morksi would suffer great losses. There was no guarantee that Birkyne’s puppets would remain intact if such a thing were to happen.
“And… if we take too long, there may be effects on the puppets themselves. He is likely to be a guider, after all,” said Birkyne.
A different kind of tension from before appeared on the faces of Mortor and Birkyne’s other confidants. It was not one of mere fear; it was one of dread.
“Even if he is a guider, he could not shake the control over Birkyne-sama’s puppets… or is that really possible?!” Mortor exclaimed.
“It is. After all, Vandalieu is gathering the fragments of the Demon King, although it seems that there are no effects on the puppets for now…” Birkyne stopped mid-sentence.
Perhaps the puppets had already been affected.
The puppets’ behavior towards Vandalieu… Birkyne had prepared them in a way that they would approach and feel positively about individuals that met a certain description, in a way that would not be unnatural. As a result, Vandalieu and the puppets had a good relationship with one another, but… would the guidance not affect those positive feelings?
No, even if there were effects, they will be within an extent that I can control, so it is not a problem. My fragment’s main part is within me, and the parts I cut off remain residing inside the puppets. There are no problems, Birkyne told himself repeatedly.
“Now then, let us go to make a deal. Vandalieu will obtain our puppets, and we will obtain our safety. If he refuses, battle will ensue, but… even if that happens, it will go in our favor so long as he is unable to sacrifice the puppets,” he said to his confidants.
Title explanation: Food Cart King
A Title that can be acquired by one who is associated with multiple food carts and is a leading figure in the streets and regions in which they operate. There are many other related Titles (For example: Food Cart Queen, Food Cart General).
It is often acquired by chefs who have trained multiple apprentices or influential figures who represent other food cart owners. There is at least one Food Cart King in most busy cities.
It provides a bonus to the ‘Cooking’ Skill, though it is small.
Title explanation: Genius Tamer
As the Title suggests, it is a Title that can be acquired by gifted Tamers. Having incredible achievements or displaying incredible potential as a Tamer is a requirement for acquiring it. Due to the nature of this requirement, it is easier for relatively young Tamers to acquire.
It is a rarer Title than ‘Food Cart King,’ but in the Orbaume Kingdom, there is only about one ‘Genius Tamer’ in each duchy every dozen or so years.
One would have sufficient Tamer-related Skills by the time they acquire this Title, but they receive bonuses to some extent.
But someone with this Title becomes a candidate to be one of the higher-up members of the Tamers’ Guild… the top of a branch, at the very least. This is more significant than the bonuses it provides to Skills.