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An invitation to a private tea party held by the earl’s family. The knight who brought this invitation to Vandalieu’s house behaved politely, unlike the time when he was approached in the back alley with an offer of protection.
Vandalieu and his companions were very perplexed by this. They were even suspicious that he might try to assassinate Juliana, as well as Natania who knew her true identity, while hosting Vandalieu and Darcia at the tea party.
But the letter said that it was a very private tea party that would be held at the earl’s secondary residence, and that the earl would be most pleased if Vandalieu and his companions could feel free to attend.
Vandalieu summoned Eleanora to consult her, and she had a look at the letter.
“The business with Juliana is probably a part of it, but won’t he be wanting to talk about Aggar and Joseph as well? I mean, the spies saw Aggar and his companions being teleported away,” said Eleanora.
Everyone present was satisfied by this explanation… except one.
“Impossible… We did not leave a single scrap of evidence. And fortunately, we disposed of them just as Vandalieu was talking to the guards. He has an alibi, so why would the earl connect him to the incident?” said Gufadgarn.
Her shock was displayed through her wide-open eyes and her slightly trembling shoulders and lips. It was perhaps her first time displaying so much emotion in front of anyone other than Vandalieu.
“Could it be that the earl has received a Divine Message with orders from the gods?!” she continued. “No, it is even possible that he is working for the Pure-breed Vampire –”
“Gufadgarn, I believe you are overthinking things. It is merely that the incident is completely impossible to explain or understand, so he has simply attributed it to Vanda… Van-sama because it is suspicious,” said Bellmond.
“What?!” Gufadgarn exclaimed in surprise, lost for words.
“Even though he’s guessed the truth, it’s rather rude, isn’t it,” remarked Vandalieu, who was being held in mid-air by Bellmond’s tail.
It was a conclusion made without a shred of reasoning other than the fact that it was suspicious.
“It is astounding… to think that he would fear anything that he is incapable of comprehending to be of Vandalieu’s will without even attempting to determine the truth with his own knowledge. I see that this Earl Isaac Morksi has begun to understand the extent of Vandalieu’s greatness,” said Gufadgarn.
It seemed that her reason for being surprised was different from Vandalieu’s; her impression of the earl was now leaning towards ‘a new disciple of Vandalieu.’
“No, I don’t think that’s the case… Ah, it’s hopeless. She’s not listening anymore,” Eleanora sighed.
“When I’m talking to Gufadgarn-san, I start to understand how difficult it is for gods to make their intentions known to humans through Divine Messages,” said Princess Levia.
“… Gufadgarn is quite easy to understand. I have received a Divine Message from Hihiryushukaka before when I was still alive, and it just sounded like the roaring of a monster that I didn’t recognize. I failed my mission as a result and Ternecia made me stand around doing nothing for a hundred years as punishment; it was terrible,” muttered Isla, looking away.
“The conversation has gotten off-topic,” said Bellmond as she prepared some tea.
“… By the way, Bellmond, I can’t brush your tail if I can’t move both my hands. Or should I groom your tail by licking it?” said Vandalieu.
“Danna-sama, it would be very problematic if I lost control over my hands while preparing tea, which is why I have wrapped your arms up while I do so. And please never use your tongue,” said Bellmond. “Here you are, Darcia-sama.”
Darcia beamed at the heartwarming conversation between master and servant. “Thank you, Bellmond-san,” she said, accepting the cup from Bellmond. “But it really is a little strange. I should be just as mysterious to the earl as Vandalieu. I was talking to Priestess Paula and some others at the Communal Church around the time those people disappeared, so even my alibi is suspicious.”
It would not have been difficult to learn through some investigation that Paula, the priestess of Vida, adored Darcia since her sermon. Assuming the worst, they might have suspected that Paula had provided a false alibi for Darcia.
“I’m new here, but… I think he’d suspect Master more. I mean, it’s hard to describe, but Master is kind of more suspicious than Darcia-san,” said Natania.
She hadn’t been fully tainted by those of Talosheim, so this was the case from her point of view.
“I see. It’s true that Mom only summoned a familiar spirit while I’ve tamed Fang and other monsters, and I’m the one who’s running the food cart. Considering my age, it might be more normal to suspect Mom, but… I’m a Dhampir, after all. How old I appear to be isn’t a good indicator of anything,” said Vandalieu.
Vandalieu looked to be of around ten years of age, and he was actually eleven, but he was developing at the same rate as a Dark Elf – the race of Darcia, his non-Vampire parent. The development of Dark Elves slowed down dramatically after puberty. It wouldn’t have been strange for the earl’s people to suspect that he was actually in his twenties.
“Then it means that the earl feels more fear than suspicion towards Bocchan, and has invited him to his house to question his motives directly under the pretense of having a tea party,” said Saria. “What will you do? I don’t think a ‘commoner’ has the ability to refuse an invitation from the earl…”
She pointed at the letter, whose list of invitees was vague: ‘Vandalieu, Darcia and your companions.’
“I wonder what he means by ‘companions?’” said Rita.
If taken literally, this invitation would include Saria, Gufadgarn and everyone else. But in reality, nobody else knew that they were in the city of Morksi.
“I don’t think he’s realized that we’re connected to Van-sama. We’ve been using Gufadgarn’s teleportation when we come and go from this house, after all,” said Eleanora.
“If the earl was capable of noticing our presence, he would have acted more quickly to deal with the criminal organization that we have taken over to begin with,” said Isla.
It was unlikely that the earl was aware of Eleanora, Isla and Bellmond’s connection to Vandalieu.
“We’re unlikely to have been noticed as well. That time when the spies opened the wooden door and came in, before Natania-san and Juliana-san came here, the Golems in the house quickly noticed them, so we were able to pretend to be suits of armor hanging on the wall,” said Saria.
“We just erased our spirit forms and stood still, though. We were planning to capture them if they tried to go to the basement, but they left right away. They were staring at us a lot, though,” said Rita.
The spies had entered the house on one occasion, but it would have been troublesome down the road if they made the earl’s spies disappear, so they had always planned to just keep watch as long as they didn’t attempt to enter the basement, which contained various things that they could not be allowed to see.
Fortunately, the spies had only entered the house once. They had been captured, and Vandalieu had successfully erased their memories despite risking turning them into vegetables in doing so, so he had not needed to brainwash them.
“Yes, that’s right…” Darcia murmured.
“Darcia-sama, what’s wrong?” asked Saria.
“No, it’s nothing. It’s really nothing,” said Darcia, covering her face and staring at the floor.
Those spies definitely thought Rita and Saria were suits of armor that I would wear…
It seemed that she had received mental damage upon realizing this fact.
Bellmond, having made the same realization, quietly offered her a second cup of black tea.
“Thank you. Let’s continue our discussion,” said Darcia, telling herself that even the earl wouldn’t mention such things at the tea party. “In other words, the ‘companions’ the letter mentions likely refers to Natania-san, Juliana-san and Simon. If it included the children of the orphanage and Priestess Paula, it wouldn’t be a ‘private tea party’ anymore.”
“Maybe he wrote ‘companions’ vaguely because he didn’t want to name Juliana directly?” said Vandalieu.
“Then perhaps he should not have sent an invitation at all,” said Bellmond.
“Didn’t he send the invitation so that we wouldn’t suspect him of attempting to do something to the limbless women of marriageable age left in the house while you’re at the tea party? It would be careless to leave just Fang and the rats on guard outside the house,” said Isla.
Indeed, if they knew that the only people at home were two young women who couldn’t move properly, there might be a thief or two who thought that they could take anything if they could get into the house unnoticed, even with a fearsome guard dog protecting it.
Of course, Rita and Saria would slaughter such robbers with ease. Natania would be able to defend herself, as she was now capable of moving about on her own, and even if they happened to come across Tarea first, it would be simple for her to twist the neck of an ordinary robber.
But it would be troublesome to have too many robbers visit and cause strange rumors about Vandalieu.
“Shall we all go, then? It would be an opportunity to show them Natania’s artificial limbs and have them speak to Simon. As for Juliana… Well, it would be dangerous to leave her behind. Even if the earl doesn’t want to do anything, the spies might come in out of a greed for achievements, and there’s no guarantee that Duke Alcrem’s subordinates aren’t in the city without the earl’s knowledge,” said Vandalieu.
“Eh, we’re taking Juliana as well? Is it really alright to bring her in this state? And I don’t know any of the etiquette of a noble’s tea party, you know?” said Natania.
“It’s alright. I only know a little as well,” Vandalieu assured her.
“… Are you sure about that, Emperor?” asked Juliana.
“I should have learned more about the Orbaume Kingdom’s manners from Iris,” said Vandalieu, looking away as he thought of Iris, the daughter of the Bearheart family of knights in the Sauron Duchy who was now the daughter of Godwin, the king of the Majin nation.
Of course, she was a member of a family of knights and a noble mostly only in name, so she did not know much about the manners of high society either.
“Well, the earl probably knows that we don’t know much about the etiquette, so it’s probably fine. That’s probably why it’s a private tea party,” said Darcia.
“Eleanora only knows of the Amid Empire’s customs, and I only know of the customs of a ruined nation that existed about a hundred thousand years ago. If the earl and his people are very perceptive, they might notice such small differences, which would cause unnecessary misunderstandings,” said Bellmond. “How about asking Chipuras instead? He infiltrated the Orbaume Kingdom’s Commerce Guild, so he would have been invited to events by influential merchants and nobles.”
“I see. Then let’s get to it and –” Vandalieu began.
“Before that, Master, there is one thing I would like to confirm. What is it that she is making?” Bellmond asked, looking at the partially-finished items that were hanging in Tarea’s workshop.
In addition to Natania and Simon’s artificial limbs, there was a sword in an overly-decorated scabbard, as well as an axe, gloves, chain and collar that were equally overly-decorated.
“Oh, these? They’re for your transformation staff, of course… or rather, your transformation equipment,” said Tarea, who had been concentrating on her work rather than taking part in the discussion.
This response erased all the questions in Bellmond’s mind.
“Danna-sama… I asked you to refrain from giving me a transformation staff…!” she whispered.
“Yes, so I tried making things in a shape other than that of a staff. It’s alright, I’ll make it so that you’ll be something other than a magical girl after you transform,” Vandalieu reassured her.
“This is the only time that I cannot feel at ease when you tell me that it will be ‘alright,’ Danna-sama… But, but…!”
“Yes! It’s a sword, and you are even able to see it being handmade –” Eleanora began.
“A new collar and chains, handmade by Vandalieu-sama…!” Isla interrupted. “I cannot imagine not accepting such gifts!”
Bellmond, Eleanora and Isla were resistant to the idea of being magical girls, especially the ‘girl’ part. But as Vandalieu’s servants, it seemed that it was harder for them to refuse items like swords and collars.
“Exactly as planned,” Vandalieu murmured.
It wasn’t as if he were trying to make all of them magical girls. He just wanted them to use superior equipment.
“But you’re so busy; you didn’t have to go out of your way to make these in the middle of your plan to lure out Birkyne and the reincarnated individuals!” Eleanora exclaimed.
“Well, you don’t need to hold back, Eleanora. You can think of it as a commemoration of the fact that you’re calling me ‘Van-sama’ instead of ‘Vandalieu-sama’ now,” Vandalieu told her.
“Commemoration? You should have already known through the Demon King Familiars!” said Eleanora.
“It sounds different when I hear it directly,” said Vandalieu. “There’s one more process needed to complete everything other than Basdia’s axe, so please help me out, everyone. I want to finish the fitting.”
“More importantly, even if as a hasty preparation, should you not learn some etiquette for the earl’s tea party?! You are also going to the orphanage tomorrow afternoon, are you not?!” Bellmond exclaimed, looking worried.
“It’s alright, Bellmond. I’ll do both at the same time. I’ll be learning etiquette from Chipuras,” said Vandalieu as he suddenly split himself into four.
“We’ll be doing the fitting over here. Bellmond, these long gloves and collar are for you,” said one of his clones.
“Eleanora, this sword and collar are for you. You can either hold the sword or hang it at your waist,” said another.
“Isla, this collar and chain is yours. Let’s replace those old ones,” said the third.
It would be best to use one’s physical body for learning etiquette, so Vandalieu left the fitting task to his spirit-form clones.
Unable to disobey, Bellmond and the others went to put on their new items… although Isla was already wearing a ‘depraved’ expression.
Natania’s face turned pale at this sight. “Umm, Darcia-san. Will I have to wear a collar at some point as well?” she asked.
For Beast-kin, collars would not symbolize a teacher-student relationship; they carried heavy significance, symbolizing the relationship between master and servant.
“You don’t have to worry,” Darcia said with a bitter smile. “Vandalieu’s unfortunately become used to people wearing the collars, and Isla-san and the others wanted them. It’s not like he’s making people wear them. And I think your artificial limbs will be enough for transforming.”
“Huh?! These artificial limbs can change shape?!” Natania exclaimed, relieved that she wouldn’t have to wear a collar, but looking at her artificial limbs in surprise.
“Those artificial limbs won’t change shape yet. But the ones I’m making now will. They are a collaboration between myself and Vandalieu-sama… Look forward to it,” said Tarea with a haughty laugh.
Natania’s cheeks stiffened. She became tired just moving her current artificial limbs that were simply made of metal; would she really be able to make full use of such advanced artificial limbs?
I thought this during training as well, but isn’t Master expecting too much of us?! Simon said he’s aiming to be a B-class adventurer, but this is impossible if we aren’t at least as strong as A-class adventurers! Natania screamed internally.
Darcia took her hand. “Now then, we need to learn etiquette from Chipuras-san. It’s not going to be perfect, but it’s better than nothing.”
Naturally, Natania was lacking in the knowledge that would be useful for nobles… In other words, she knew absolutely nothing of the etiquette. On top of that, she would have to learn them while moving her artificial limbs.
“T-this is way harder than my training!” she said.
She ended up breaking five cup handles and five plates, but… these were repaired by Vandalieu’s ‘Golem Creation’ and Darcia’s Demon Eyes of Regeneration, so Chipuras’s etiquette class continued into the evening without a problem.
The next day, a carriage with the Morksi family crest on it arrived in front of Vandalieu’s house and picked up Vandalieu, Darcia, Natania and Juliana.
Incidentally, Vandalieu had informed Simon about the invitation, but Simon had declined, saying that his name hadn’t been written on the invitation.
“No way. An unsightly person like me who’s living in the slums can’t go to a noble’s tea party! I’d probably mess something up and make the earl angry,” Simon had said, causing Natania to glare at him as if he’d betrayed her.
He was likely doing some self-training with Fang and the rats.
The inside of the carriage was extravagant, but it was a little less comfortable to ride in than Sam’s. It arrived at a building on the earl’s property that was separate from the main mansion, and a modest tea party began.
The only invitees were Vandalieu’s group, and the only people present as hosts were Earl Isaac Morksi himself and a few servants. His wives and children were nowhere to be seen, though he apparently had three wives and a number of children.
“I am very grateful that you have accepted my invitation on such short notice, Darcia Zakkart, Vandalieu Zakkart, Natania and –” the earl began.
His tone was more polite than one would expect from a noble speaking to commoners. He seemed to have assumed that Darcia’s surname was Zakkart like Vandalieu’s.
His gaze shifted to Juliana, who was sitting comfortably in her chair, and bewilderment appeared in his eyes.
“Julia…Julia-dono, is it?” he said uncertainly.
Naturally, Isaac knew Juliana, as she was a member of the Alcrem family of dukes and a renowned knight, though she hadn’t exactly been an acquaintance; she was just someone with whom he had exchanged short greetings with at evening parties about once a year.
He knew what Juliana’s face looked like. According to his memory, the person sitting in the chair was unmistakably Juliana Alcrem. If one ignored her severed limbs, swollen abdomen and loose dress, there was no reason to doubt that.
But her expression was hollow, and she didn’t even look at Isaac as he addressed her, despite the fact that she had a slightly limited ability to engage in conversation according to the report from Berard, the Guild Master at the Adventurers’ Guild.
“I’m sorry, my lord. She is in a very unstable state, and I think it may be difficult to converse with her at present,” said Vandalieu.
Isaac nodded in understanding.
He didn’t have a particularly deep knowledge of people’s minds, but considering Juliana’s state, he didn’t think that it would be strange for her to have such symptoms.
“I see. I apologize for inviting her despite her being in such a condition,” he said.
“Not at all. Thank you for your thoughtfulness,” said Vandalieu.
The truth was that Juliana’s soul had already been pseudo-reincarnated into one of the eggs that had been planted into her body.
“In any case… to what business do we owe the pleasure of having been invited here today?” Vandalieu asked.
“… Hmm. I apologize for doing this in such an informal setting, and I realize that it is too late, but I would like to apologize for the terrible actions of the guards employed in my realm and the person who is still my uncle, despite having left the family,” said Isaac, bowing his head to Vandalieu and his companions.
Normally, the act of the earl bowing his head to commoners would be shocking.
Indeed, Natania and the servants were very surprised to see this. Vandalieu was a little surprised as well.
As far as I know, nobles would never bow their heads to commoners. The fact that he’s doing so means that… I’ve put considerable pressure on him, even though I was planning on just staying quiet, Vandalieu thought. I don’t think his receding hairline is my fault, though.
Isaac explained that the guards were treating Aggar as a dangerous criminal and searching for him, and that Joseph would likely be banished from the Morksi region after a thorough investigation of his actions.
“There is no place for him even in any of the lands that neighbor mine, let alone the Commerce Guild. He will either have to live in hiding in a slum somewhere or leave the city and move to another duchy… In any case, he will not live out the rest of his years in comfort,” Isaac said.
It was largely what Vandalieu had expected; Joseph wouldn’t even be given a chance to explain himself, and he would be punished as the mastermind who instigated the crimes of Aggar and his companions… the kidnapping.
Vandalieu felt sorry for Joseph, but according to his sources, Joseph had apparently harassed aspiring young merchants in a similar way, and when he was young, he had even taken advantage of young women in vulnerable positions to make them his mistresses.
Ordinarily, the Guild would protect its members, but it hadn’t been able to do so because of these circumstances.
“To the Commerce Guild, Joseph was a troublesome individual who was forced upon them by the earl’s family. They may have believed that the problems caused by him were the earl’s problem in this case,” Chipuras said through telepathy.
Indeed, that may have been the Guild’s true opinion.
“So, I believe that the harassment that you have experienced should cease –” Isaac began.
“Yes, I will be continuing to do my best in my business with my mother, just as I have up until now,” said Vandalieu, interrupting him.
Just as he had up until now… In other words, he would continue to hunt for meat on his own without relying on wholesale stores and continue operating his food cart in the same back alley in the red-light district.
It wasn’t that Vandalieu held a grudge towards the wholesale stores. It was just that it would be inconvenient to start doing business normally now.
Even if he were told to move from the back alley and do business in the best part of the main road where all of the Guild branches were… the other food carts that had become associated with him wouldn’t be able to come with him. And having the Hellhound Fang on guard next to a food cart on the main road would cause a flood of complaints.
It might also cause new conflicts with the other food carts.
The same applied for the ingredients.
The food cart currently served Rank 3 Orc or Huge Giga bird meat, or even more expensive meat. These were being served on skewers for a cheap price. There were also three kinds of sauce available – herb-flavored, wine-based and walnut.
This was all possible because the food cart acquired and processed ingredients independently. If they were provided by a wholesaler, the skewers’ price would be at least triple.
And when Vandalieu went out hunting for meat, it was also training for Simon, Natania, Fang and the rats. It would be troublesome if it became harder for him to leave the city.
“Hmm, I see… I have heard that there are now more food carts that have become associated with you. Is this your reason?” asked Isaac.
“That is one of the reasons,” Vandalieu replied.
At first, it had just been the food carts doing business on the same back alley as Vandalieu, but now, there were food carts operating in other alleys and bars in the slums that were associated with Vandalieu as well.
These businesses had been selling similar products as the first food carts associated with Vandalieu at similar prices, but in different locations.
However, their business had plummeted after rumors spread that there was a certain alleyway that sold delicious Goblin and Kobold sandwiches at the same price.
That was to be expected. Though Morksi was a city, it wasn’t as large as the large cities of Earth. It had a population of approximately thirty thousand people, and the red-light district and slum quarters were only two small parts of it.
Even a walk of less than twenty minutes would be one of the longer possible walking distances in the city, and it was well worth the walk to be able to eat tasty food for the same price, so there were many customers who visited the food carts that were a part of Vandalieu’s group.
The owners of the food carts and stores that were affected by this had made no attempt to try to figure out the secret behind making Gobu-gobu and edible Kobold meat; they had simply chosen to bear the heart that was Vida’s holy symbol and join Vandalieu’s group as well.
Another big reason for this was because they didn’t want to upset the ‘Starving Wolf’ Michael, who was an influential man in the red-light district. He was different from the thugs before, providing men to patrol the area as long as the owners paid a small space fee. Thanks to them, there had been a heavy decrease in eat-and-running, thieves and robbers; the back alleys were remarkably safer than before.
The owners feared that if they were no longer under such protection, there would be a surge in criminals that were currently being warded off by the men.
The reputation of the men being sent on patrols wasn’t bad, either. For some reason, the manners and appearances of the ‘Starving Wolf’s subordinates were improving day by day.
This was because Michael… Miles, was disciplining his subordinates strictly so they wouldn’t do stupid things and anger Vandalieu.
As a result, the ‘Starving Wolf’s’ influence in the red-light district and slums had grown, and Vandalieu did not see any appeal in leaving the area that was under that influence.
“In other words… everything is going well as it is, so you would rather continue as you are now. Very well. I shall inform the Commerce Guild myself,” said Isaac.
“Thank you very much, my lord,” Vandalieu said sincerely, bowing his head in gratitude.
“Anyway, regarding the Gobu-gobu that some of your food carts are selling, when – no, where did you learn the method of making it from the Ghouls?” Isaac continued, before Vandalieu could even raise his head. “The Ghouls in the Devil’s Nests surrounding this city… or perhaps the Ghouls of the Hartner or Sauron Duchies?”
Vandalieu froze for a few seconds, his head still bowed.
Isaac, who was still staring at the back of Vandalieu’s head, felt so nervous that his stomach hurt.
Until just a few years ago, Ghouls were merely considered to be one of many races of humanoid monsters. But Isaac had realized that Ghouls had left nothing but traces of themselves in the aftermath of the large events that had occurred in recent years.
He had recently come to this realization through pure coincidence. While Berard gave him a report about Juliana and Minotaurs, he had also heard that it had suddenly become impossible to harvest materials and Magic Stones from Ghouls.
Berard had assumed that this was because the Minotaurs had attacked the Ghoul settlements in order to turn them into mothers for their children. But Isaac had a strange feeling, and remembered something.
After inexplicable things happened in the Hartner Duchy and Sauron Duchy, the Ghouls in those duchies had all vanished without any large-scale exterminations having been carried out.
Nobody is paying attention to the fact that the Ghouls disappeared. Their disappearances have been overshadowed by large events like the castle in the Hartner Duchy leaning at an angle and the mysterious transformation of the Scylla territory into a land that is occupied by a horde of Undead. None of the dukes are even attempting to investigate them. Materials taken from Ghouls are replaceable with materials taken from other monsters, after all. But… it is a fact that they have disappeared in an unnatural way. Is it not possible that this boy is involved in their disappearances? Isaac thought.
These thoughts were crazy, on the border of delusions. It had only been several days since this thought occurred to him, and he had not yet conducted any detailed investigations. It was just an idea that he had come up with through intuition, with no evidence supporting it whatsoever.
Despite that, he had asked Vandalieu about it with a suggestive question because he felt that he needed to. If large incidents like the ones in the Hartner and Sauron Duchies were to occur in the city of Morksi… even if the Alcrem Duchy could survive them, he didn’t know whether the city would.
That was why he was trying to draw out an answer by creating this friendly atmosphere and playing the understanding nobleman.
“No, it is not knowledge that was taught to me by the Ghouls from the regions that you mention,” said Vandalieu, straightening up again and looking at Isaac.
“I see. It seems that in recent years, large disasters have struck regions in which Ghouls have disappeared… and the Ghouls near this city have also disappeared recently. Is it a sign of something to come?” said Isaac.
“I see. I am not an adventurer, so I am rather poorly informed on the size of monster populations… but I do not believe that a disaster is guaranteed.”
“… If a large incident were to occur in the city, will you work with me to resolve it?”
“I am but a mere merchant. People have recently begun to call me ‘Food Cart King’ and ‘Genius Tamer,’ but I still lack much experience. I am far from being a great hero. But I will do what little I can for the sake of the city’s people.”
“May I hold you to those words?”
“You and the entire city of Morksi have been very kind to myself and my mother, my lord. It has only been a month since I began living here, but I have grown attached to this place.”
“I see. That is most wonderful…!” said Isaac, collapsing into his chair.
His back was drenched in cold sweat, and his throat was parched.
But the words that he had wanted to hear… the surety of Vandalieu’s promise, had changed his tension into a sense of relief.
Darcia and Natania were released from their tension as well; they both gave sighs of relief.
But Vandalieu himself didn’t think much of the situation.
I feel like the earl’s impression is very different from the actual me for some reason, he thought.
He had been surprised at the fact that the earl had asked about the Ghouls, but to him, the conversation that had followed had been ordinary everyday conversation that was neither a lie nor the whole truth, rather than a negotiation.
The Ghouls that had taught him how to make Gobu-gobu and steamed Kobold meat were Zadiris, Basdia, Vigaro and the other Ghouls who had lived in a Devil’s Nest in the Mirg shield-nation. He hadn’t learned these methods from the Ghouls of the Orbaume Kingdom.
He didn’t know much about the size of monster populations, and at the moment, he wasn’t thinking of doing anything to the city of Morksi or the entire Alcrem Duchy.
The fact that he had also grown attached to the city was also true.
He had felt a little displeasure at the fact that Isaac’s spies had attempted to arrest Aggar after they entered the orphanage rather than before the crime could take place, but even that had disappeared after a day had passed and after actually talking to Isaac directly.
This person is an understanding nobleman. I want to continue a friendly relationship with him.
He had a far simpler personality than Isaac thought.
The rest of the tea party at the earl’s house was uneventful for Vandalieu.
Natania’s artificial limbs became a topic of conversation, but Vandalieu simply told him that they were experimental, and Isaac didn’t ask about them any further.
After that, Isaac spoke more to Darcia than to Vandalieu. It seemed that he wanted to hear about her worship of Vida.
Meanwhile, Vandalieu and Natania enjoyed the tea and snacks provided, but… they were very unique compared to the ones of Earth.
The earl’s family’s milk tea was good, as it had been made with milk that had been freshly squeezed from cows on the paddocks this morning, but… it would take some time to get used to the snacks that consisted of soft bread topped with an incredibly sour fresh cheese and an extremely sweet syrup.
“The fresh cheese made with fresh milk and the syrup that contains a large amount of sugar are probably supposed to represent the earl’s wealth. I think it’s a traditional thing,” said Vandalieu after leaving the tea party as he headed towards the orphanage.
A festival would be held tomorrow to give thanks to Vida and pray for spring to come quickly, so it seemed that the orphanage wanted Vandalieu’s help. This festival hadn’t been held last year, but this was another result of Vandalieu’s donations.
“Vandalieu-sama, is it really necessary to assist them? We were invited by that Matthew and the other children, but there is still the preparation of the food cart to do,” said Chipuras.
But Vandalieu was eager to join in on the preparations. “Chipuras, you might be right, but… I love the scenario of making preparations for an event with friends of my own age.”
Such school activities had been nothing but dreadful for Vandalieu on Earth, but Lambda was different. That was why Vandalieu liked getting involved with making preparations for events.
“And it’s not that much work. It’s troublesome that I can’t use my spirit-form clones or Demon King Familiars, but we’re just decorating the orphanage’s chapel,” said Vandalieu.
There weren’t many decorations to hang up, and the children would help as well, so it wouldn’t take very long.
Vandalieu arrived at the orphanage… and felt a strange feeling, a strange presence. Spirits that he had never seen before were floating about in the surroundings. They were spirits that, up until today, weren’t around the orphanage… or in the city of Morksi at all.
They screamed wordlessly at Vandalieu, warning him of danger.
“… Where are the intruders?” Vandalieu murmured, searching through the memories of the Undead and Golem familiars that he had placed around.
But nobody had entered the orphanage from the outside.
There was no stench of blood or screams, but… despite that, the spirits were restless.
“Ah, you’re here! Hurry up and come in, Vandalieu! Everyone’s waiting for you!” Matthew called out from inside the orphanage’s door.
He looked no different from yesterday. But the spirits were desperately trying to stop Vandalieu from responding.
“… Alright. It’s fine, I’ll do exactly as I prepared,” he told the spirits as he entered the orphanage.
In the orphanage’s chapel, none of the preparations for tomorrow’s festival had been made. Instead, there was the head of the orphanage, the nuns Seris and Vestra, and about half of the orphanage’s children, standing in a line.
“Welcome, Vandalieu-san,” said Seris.
“Thank you for coming. It’s very helpful of you,” said Vestra.
“Onii-chan, my Brian learned a new trick!” said one of the girls.
All of them were smiling at Vandalieu, just as they had done yesterday. Matthew, who was standing next to Vandalieu, was smiling as well.
There were also four unfamiliar people with crimson eyes that Vandalieu did not recognize, as well as one man that he did recognize.
“Welcome, Vandalieu Zakkart, to my house of puppets,” said Birkyne with a bright smile.
“… What do you want?” said Vandalieu.
First, he needed to learn what kind of state Matthew and Sister Seris were in.
Title explanation: Holy Woman
A Title acquired by those who have performed great deeds, achieved great things and has been recognized by a Church with authority. There are related Titles, such as ‘Saint,’ ‘Holy Person,’ ‘Holy Girl’ and ‘Holy Mother.’
These Titles grant their bearers charisma towards those who worship the same god and associated gods, and can also provide beneficial bonuses for conducting religious activities such as missionary work.
They also make it easier to acquire Skills such as ‘Familiar Spirit Descent’ and ‘Enhanced Attribute Values: Belief.’
Ordinarily, those who already have Titles such as ‘Saint’ and ‘Holy Mother’ cannot acquire another such Title.
But in Darcia’s case, there is no exchange of information between the Orbaume Kingdom and regions such as the area within the Boundary Mountain Range and the Dark Continent. As a result, there are two separate groups of people, one that regards her as a ‘Holy Mother’ and one that regards her as a ‘Holy Woman.’