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While he was alive, he was a man who never even imagined that he had a talent for combat or magic. Born to the servants of a nobleman, he was raised as a servant as well. As a child, he had admired stories of adventurers risking their lives on adventures and knights doing brave deeds, but he thought that such people were living in a different world from himself, someone who had no worth other than his ability to handle horses and carriages.
He became an adult without knowing how to read any runes used in magic, got married and had two daughters, but… after becoming an Undead and acquiring a certain Skill, he realized that he had what might not be a talent, but an aptitude.
That Skill was ‘Space Expansion.’ It was a Skill that kept the external appearance of the carriage the same while expanding the inside so that a lot of people and luggage could be carried inside.
As the name of the Skill suggested, it was clearly related to space. Thus, it was possible that he had an affinity for the space attribute. That was what he thought.
As a part of his own self-improvement, he succeeded in learning space-attribute magic and time-attribute magic as well.
“I have come this far, so I should be able to achieve this difficult goal as well!” Sam told himself.
He had already made offerings of curry to Zuruwarn and Ricklent’s statues at the Church of Vida, and he was now running across the land at full speed.
“I will definitely become a carriage that crosses both space and time, reclaiming my position as Bocchan’s airborne vehicle!”
It seemed that he was not satisfied with merely being able to fly through the sky; he was aiming to become a carriage that crossed spacetime… in order to surpass Gufadgarn and Legion.
Sam felt as if his position had been stolen from him, though the truth was that Vandalieu had thought that he would draw too much attention if he arrived at the city of Morksi with a carriage.
Once he withdrew from the city of Morksi, he intended to use Sam as his transport for Dungeons and traveling as he had done previously.
But Sam, unaware of this, was riding at great speed today as well, in order to accomplish his goal that his companions who were knowledgeable regarding magic had told him was close to impossible.
There were none around him who had tried to stop him… In fact, some were copying him – the Ghost Ship Cuatro, which Vandalieu had built by combining parts from four wrecked ships, and its four Undead captains.
“We can’t lose either! Follow Master Sam!”
“But trying to cross spacetime is impossible. Let’s aim to fly through the sky for now!”
“Wouldn’t it be most realistic to do underwater voyages?”
“If it’s just sinking under the surface, we can do it at any time! We are the Four Dead Sea Captains of the Ghost Ship Cuatro. If we are aiming for a goal, we should aim for the sea that is the sky!”
Cuatro let out what sounded like a groan of resentment as it traveled along the river.
Watching them from afar, the ‘Divine Spear of Ice’ Mikhail wondered if every vehicle-type Undead of Talosheim would become able to cross spacetime in the near future. Not that he could imagine what crossing spacetime would actually mean.
“Mikhail-dono, I would like to request one more match,” said Bone Man, who was training with Mikhail with practice battles.
“… I am sorry, Bone Man. But could you please wait until I finish reattaching my arm that you cut off?” said Mikhail.
The training had become quite heated and extreme.
“Juoh, my apologies. It is just that the thought of my brethren who are strengthening themselves in the presence of our lord makes me impatient,” said Bone Man.
Incidentally, the ‘brethren’ that he was referring to were Maroru, Urumi and Suruga, the three rat sisters. He felt a sense of fellowship towards them, as he had been a rat himself when he was alive. At the same time, as their senior, he felt that he must not lose to them.
“And I wish to no longer be an ‘emperor,’” Bone Man said.
His goal was to increase his Rank to remove the word ‘emperor’ from his race title of ‘Skeleton Blade Emperor’ so that it was no longer disrespectful to Vandalieu.
But as he was already Rank 12, a high Rank, he was finding this goal difficult to accomplish.
“… Are there only ambitious monsters in this country?” Mikhail murmured in exasperation, wishing that Bone Man could consider his feelings, as he continued carefully reattaching his severed arm.
The plaza at the main gate of Morksi, the trading city of thirty thousand people, was bustling with activity.
Many merchants, travelers and adventurers passed in and out of the city’s gates, and shopkeepers were calling out to them. But as the women passed through the plaza, everyone’s gazes turned towards them.
One part of their group entered the Adventurers’ Guild, and the two women remained outside, drawing more and more attention.
The space outside the Adventurers’ Guild was just a clear area marked by a painted line; there was nothing blocking the stares of the people in the building’s surroundings. The two women, mother and daughter, began talking in lowered voices.
“Couldn’t you have gone inside with them, Mother?”
“Don’t be foolish. We may be able to fool them initially, but it would certainly become a problem later. We must obey the rules.”
“According to the rules, familiars small enough to sit on the Tamer’s head or be carried in their arms are allowed to be taken inside. I think you could have gone in if you had Van carry you on his back or in his arms.”
“D-don’t be foolish! Basdia, do you wish shame upon your mother?!” a red-faced Zadiris shouted quietly at her daughter Basdia.
Her body had stopped physically aging in her mid-teenage years, so her dignity as an elder was lost when she lost her composure like this, as she simply appeared to be an adorable girl.
On the other hand, Basdia… Zadiris’s daughter, was a Ghoul Amazoness Night Queen. She had a composed expression and stood with her plentiful chest out.
“If it were me, I would have Van hold me in his arms. You worry too much about outward appearances, Mother,” Basdia said.
Basdia, who had both firm muscles and feminine curves, had the appearance of being in her mid-to-late twenties. At a glance, many would assume that she was the mother and Zadiris was the daughter.
“Youngsters these days…” Zadiris muttered.
The truth was that Basdia was around thirty years old, and Zadiris was around three hundred. There was no way to tell, as they were of a race that did not physically age.
Ghouls were one of the races created by Vida, but in human societies, they were considered and treated as advanced forms of Zombies – in other words, monsters. If they were seen in places inhabited by humans, they would be exterminated on sight.
And yet, these two Ghouls were standing openly in a human society, in front of the Adventurers’ Guild that was their race’s natural enemy. This was part of Vandalieu’s plan to spread the truth about Ghouls in human societies.
Though the events leading to their sale at food carts were a coincidence, Gobu-gobu and baked Kobold meat were dishes made using Ghoul knowledge. Within less than a month, knowledge of this fact had spread not only within the city of Morksi, but to nearby cities and villages as well.
Thus, the idea that Ghouls were a race with intelligence and civilization rather than beast-like Undead was spreading. There had even been people wanting to interview Vandalieu about the Ghouls from which he had been taught how to make Gobu-gobu.
But this wasn’t enough for there to be voices claiming that Ghouls were not monsters. Vandalieu and his companions believed that this was because the people did not personally know any Ghouls.
People were taught that Ghouls were monsters, but the majority of them spent their whole lives without ever seeing one. That was because Ghouls lived in settlements in Devil’s Nests, and the only ones that encountered them were adventurers, knights or soldiers sent out on monster hunts.
Thus, it was possible that the situation could be changed, even if only by a little, if people knew what Ghouls were really like… although there was no problem if this took some time, as all of the Ghouls around the city of Morksi had already migrated to Talosheim.
And after discussions, Vandalieu had decided to bring Zadiris and Basdia into the city under the pretense that he had tamed them.
… As for the concerts, it seemed that there wouldn’t be any for a while as Kanako was devoting her time into Legion’s lessons.
Incidentally, Vandalieu had brought Zadiris and Basdia rather than Tarea who was currently in the basement of the house. This was because if it became known that Tarea was an exceptional smith who supported the production of Talosheim’s arms, it was possible that she would become persistently targeted.
If she was killed and her body was taken away or destroyed, the military strength of the whole of Talosheim would be impacted.
Of course, it was possible that Basdia and Zadiris would also be targeted, and appropriate preparations had been made. Vandalieu could be contacted at any time through ‘Familiar Spirit Demonfall.’ The city was being watched by Gufadgarn as well as the Ghosts who had been stationed around the city. And there was also Miles who was lurking in the shadows.
At first glance, they appeared to be defenseless, but in a way, they were under a stronger defensive network than Vandalieu himself.
“Still, what a strange rule, using whether you can carry the familiar on your head or in your arms as the criteria for being able to bring it inside rather than the familiar’s size. The size of the familiars that can be brought in would be different depending on the Tamer’s race and build. Isn’t it unfair?” Basdia wondered.
The size of familiars meeting these requirements for Tamers of races such as Dwarves, who were only about as tall as the chest of a human, would be different from Tamers that were Titans, the tallest of whom could reach heights of three meters.
Large-build Arachne like Gizania would be able to carry monsters that were around three meters tall on her back.
“I do not think that this rule was thought out that far. Small familiars are mainly used for scouting, and many of them are weak. If they are left tied up outside, they could be stolen or killed. Perhaps the rule allowing familiars inside if their Tamers could carry them was made because of concerns voiced by a worried adventurer who was a Tamer.” Zadiris paused, fiddling with her staff. “And… the largest Tamers would be Titans, so the largest familiars allowed inside would be no bigger than a wolf or a goat.”
Even in the Orbaume Kingdom, which was relatively tolerant of Vida’s races, adventurers of races such as Arachne, who originated from monsters, were not accepted as adventurers. Thus, the Adventurers’ Guild’s rules had been made based on the fact that there were no adventurers of such races. This was what Zadiris was implying.
“I see. I suppose that makes sense… Leaving that aside, things are going surprisingly well, Mother,” Basdia remarked.
“Indeed,” Zadiris said in agreement.
The two of them had been discussing the Guild’s rules, but they were not seriously doubting the Guild’s integrity. They were simply exchanging idle talk in order to gauge the reactions of the people around them.
There were all kinds of reactions. Many people just gave them a curious glance, but there were adventurer-type people and mages looking at them with interest, and even what seemed to be a Dwarf craftsman who was looking more at their equipment than at them.
There were also some who were casting lecherous gazes at their grey-brown skin as if trying to lick it with their eyes, but… there were none expressing open disgust or hostility.
“… We’re apparently considered to be advanced forms of Undead, so I was quite worried, but… things seem fine,” said Basdia, looking relieved.
“Yes. I thought that there would be some trying to attack us without even questioning it, but things seem to be largely as the boy and the others said they would be,” said Zadiris with a nod.
Although it was common knowledge that Undead could not be tamed, and Ghouls were considered to be advanced forms of Undead, they could be put in slave collars and used as slaves. Basdia and Zadiris felt an urge to thoroughly question a Tamer or slave trader to understand how they could believe this.
“Even if there was someone who attacked you, you ladies could handle them bare-handed,” muttered the Schwartz Blitz Ghost Kimberley.
“No, our equipment is significantly worse than what we normally use, so I’m a little worried,” said Basdia.
Indeed, their current equipment was considerably inferior to their usual equipment. Basdia was wearing leather armor made from a monster’s hide, while Zadiris was wearing a robe. And although they were well-made, Basdia’s weapon was a simple iron axe and Zadiris’s was a plain wooden staff.
As people would be looking at them, they had not brought their usual equipment… though of course, their transformation equipment was stored inside an Item Box that let them carry it unseen, ready to be taken out at a moment’s notice.
“I am a mage, so it is not so bad for me, but your armor is just leather, so it cannot be relied on. Even though it weighs the same as the armor that you usually wear, the difference between the two is like the difference between steel and paper. It makes you feel as if you are naked, does it not?” Zadiris said quietly.
“You seem quite uncomfortable with your staff, too, Mother. It isn’t your beloved staff, so you feel like you’re unarmed, don’t you?” Basdia whispered back.
“Sorry to interrupt your argument, but don’t the stares of the people bother you two?” Kimberley asked.
“Not at all,” Zadiris and Basdia replied simultaneously.
The stares of the people around them didn’t make them feel nervous or shy. Though Zadiris had been doing it for longer, both of them had performed songs and dances in front of audiences on the stage created by Knochen. They had plenty of immunity against people’s stares.
“And today is our second day, after all,” said Basdia.
“There were more people staring when we went to the Tamers’ Guild with the boy yesterday to get these collars,” Zadiris agreed. “… Hmm?”
Zadiris suddenly realized that there was a heated stare being directed at them and looked in that direction. The owner of that gaze was a young woman who looked to be around twenty years old.
She was unarmed, wearing fabric clothes that were modestly decorated but sturdy. For some reason, she was watching Zadiris and Basdia with a brooding expression.
“I don’t feel any killing intent from her, but be alert,” Kimberley whispered.
At that moment, the woman began walking towards the two, now with a determined look on her face.
“I have a request! Please spit some venom for me!” she said.
TLN: In Japanese, ‘to spit venom’ is an expression for bad-mouthing someone. In this scene, the woman sounds like she is requesting to be verbally degraded.
“… A pervert?” Basdia muttered, bewildered by what seemed to be a request to be verbally degraded.
“She’s still so young, too…” Zadiris murmured with a pitiful expression.
“Ah! I phrased that badly, I’m so sorry!” the woman said hastily, shaking her head. “It’s not that I want you to degrade me, I want you to give me some venom! I’m an alchemist. My name is Jessie. I’ve recently begun some research on specialized antivenoms for paralyzing venoms, and I have recently become unable to acquire Ghoul venom…”
Ghoul materials were not in particularly high demand compared to materials taken from other monsters, so the Mages’ Guild had only stockpiled a tiny amount. Jessie’s research had used all of it up and still needed more, so she had been searching for a way to acquire some.
But recently, there had been a shortage of Ghoul materials in the area, including the paralyzing venom that was secreted from their claws.
With that being the case, she would need to order some from distant suppliers or put up a commission at the Adventurers’ Guild, but that would take money and time. The Mages’ Guild’s budget was not enormous, so she had been thinking about whether she should pay for it out of her own pocket or ask for her father’s help when she came across Basdia and Zadiris.
“That’s why… I’m sorry for being so rude earlier,” Jessie said.
“I see, so that’s the reason. I’m sorry for misunderstanding,” said Basdia.
“No, that’s because I said it in an easily-misunderstood way. I’m sorry,” Jessie apologized again.
“Our venom? What shall we do?” Zadiris murmured, paying little attention to the exchange of apologies as she thought to herself.
The reason for the Ghoul material shortage that Jessie mentioned was the fact that Vandalieu had invited all of the Ghouls living around the surrounding Devil’s Nests to live in Talosheim. Zadiris felt no guilt regarding that whatsoever. Though Jessie had been deliberately vague in her explanation, the acquisition of Ghoul materials meant that Ghouls needed to be hunted.
But at the same time, Zadiris did not feel any resentment towards Jessie for needing Ghoul materials. The Ghouls were not without fault either; they would use the corpses of defeated adventurers as food and capture human women to transform them into members of their own race.
At the very least, this was not a reason to indiscriminately hate all humans.
And the paralyzing venom that was secreted from the claws was not that precious to Zadiris. It was similar to sweat or saliva for her, and although it would be problematic if she was asked to provide large amounts of it, she wouldn’t mind providing some.
“But we cannot give it to you now,” Zadiris said.
“Can’t you please make an exception? I only need a little. Of course, I’ll give you something in return!” Jessie pleaded.
“No, it is not that we are refusing. It is just that this is not a decision that we can make on our own. We are familiars, after all,” Zadiris explained, pointing at the collar on her neck.
“I-I see!” Jessie murmured. “I’m sorry for my behavior… You need the permission of your master, don’t’ you?”
Like slaves, familiars belonged to their masters. Thus, doing things to someone else’s familiars without permission was a crime. Naturally, the provision of a familiar’s venom needed the permission of the familiar’s master as well.
There was no exception to his, no matter how intelligent the familiar was.
“Jessie, don’t you often get told that you’re careless?” Basdia asked.
“Yes, though it is embarrassing to admit… But talking to you two is no different from talking to people, so… I couldn’t help myself,” Jessie said with red cheeks.
Basdia and Zadiris’s stern expressions loosened.
At this rate, the improvement of the public perception of Ghouls could go better than expected. But at the same time, they gave bitter smiles as they noticed that trouble was approaching.
“Then would you mind if I wait with you two for your master to come back –” Jessie began.
“Hey, Missy. Are you the owner of these Ghouls?” said a voice from behind Jessie.
Jessie, not having heard the footsteps, turned around. “Huh, no –”
She let out a small scream of shock as she saw that it was a large, villainous-looking man.
There were numerous scars on his forehead and cheeks, and he was wearing a cloak made of monster fur on top of his metal armor. He wasn’t angry at Jessie’s reaction; in fact, the ends of his mouth curled upwards in a pleased smile.
It was clearly the behavior of someone who used violence and intimidation for his own gains. In other words, he was not a respectable person.
“Then this will be quick. I’ll have you hand these Ghouls over to me… They’re so pretty that it’s a waste for them to be used as personal guards for a rookie mage like you. Doesn’t sound too bad, right?” the large man said threateningly, pressuring Jessie with his words.
Some other unpleasant-looking men, who seemed to be the large man’s followers, sneered as they surrounded Jessie as well.
“It’ll be in your own interests to just shut up and nod while Gordon-aniki is still smiling! The name of the ‘Strong Arm’ Gordon is pretty well-known around here, isn’t it?!” one of the men, a man with his hair standing straight up, jeered.
“Why don’t you come with us as well? We’ll keep you company until the morning!” another man, wearing a helmet made from the skull of a monster, said with an unpleasant laugh.
Some of the people nearby, hearing the name of the ‘Strong Arm’ Gordon, stopped and turned around to see what was going on.
According to the information that they were murmuring to one another, it seemed that Gordon was an adventurer known in another trading city for his ability and, more importantly, his terrible behavior. It seemed that he had come here to the city of Morksi for the first time today.
He was C-class, and according to rumors, he was capable enough to have been promoted to B-class long ago if his behavior wasn’t so bad. Incidentally, he had gained the Title of ‘Strong Arm’ during a monster rampage when adventurers and soldiers had been deployed to deal with it together, and he had exterminated several dozen large monsters on his own.
“I have heard that some adventurers are no different from thugs, but it seems that this Gordon is one of the troublesome types, a thug that is useful when needed,” Zadiris murmured.
“I suppose that even though his behavior is terrible, he barely manages to avoid crossing any lines, and he can’t be dealt with too harshly because he’ll be a useful addition to fighting forces during emergencies. He doesn’t look too useful to me, though,” Basdia remarked.
“Hmm? … From your point of view, how capable does he appear?” Zadiris asked.
“He is definitely weaker than Kasim and Fester. I’m not knowledgeable when it comes to Adventurers’ Guild classes, but… he does look like he would be able to defeat monsters that are Rank 5 or 6. But I think it would be impossible for him to defeat any members of Vida’s races unless they were Rank 4 or below.”
From Basdia’s perspective, he seemed to be in the middle or upper area of C-class, judging from the atmosphere around him, his presence and movements.
The rumors that he could have been promoted to B-class seemed to be nothing more than rumors.
In addition to being members of a race created by Vida, Basdia and Zadiris were Rank 11. To them, he was nothing but a small-fry. They would be able to defeat him with ease, even without their usual equipment.
“Hmm, so what are we going to do, Mother?” Basdia asked.
“If possible, it would be best to resolve this peacefully,” said Zadiris.
This was a difficult situation for the two of them to beat Gordon down directly without killing him.
“The two of you are being treated like tamed familiars, after all. If he doesn’t act first… If he doesn’t come with his fists or weapon raised, and you end up hurting him, everything will become Boss’s responsibility since he’s your master,” said Kimberley.
Indeed, familiars were treated more like pets or livestock rather than people in human societies.
Thus, Basdia and Zadiris couldn’t knock Gordon down over an exchange of words alone… even if it would be easier than taking candy from a baby.
“Well, Boss would probably be able to pay any fine, but…” Kimberley muttered.
“It’s best to see how things turn out until they start getting dangerous. If possible, it’s best to rely on Jessie to sort it out,” said Basdia.
The three of them were hoping for Jessie to be able to resolve things peacefully, but this seemed quite difficult.
“I-I’m not a Tamer… My father is the Guild Master! I’ll call someone over if you don’t back off!” Jessie stammered.
Though she was an alchemist, she seemed to be an ordinary person with little tolerance to violence, the type who mainly focused on research and the compounding of medicines. She was standing between Gordon and the Ghouls in order to protect Basdia and Zadiris, but her voice and her knees were shaking.
“You’re a bit old to be going crying to daddy, Missy. This is a conversation between adults. There’s going to be a problem if you don’t make proper decisions on your own, you know?” Gordon said, approaching Jessie threateningly.
It seemed that he was a rebellious person who didn’t back down even from a Guild Master’s relative… though it seemed that he had been unable to hear Jessie’s stuttered claim that she wasn’t a Tamer.
“But you’ve convinced me. If you’re the Guild Master’s daughter, then it wouldn’t be strange for you to have tamed a Ghoul Warrior and a Ghoul Mage. I’m sure you pestered your daddy to have a capable adventurer capture them alive so that you could control them with slave collars, right?” he sneered, his misunderstanding of the situation deepening even further.
He had mistaken Basdia for a Rank 4 Ghoul Warrior and Zadiris for a Rank 5 Ghoul mage, and was under the impression that Jessie was controlling them with slave collars.
But Gordon wasn’t the only one who had mistakenly assumed Basdia and Zadiris’s Ranks. The city’s people and even Bachem, the Guild Master of the Tamers’ Guild, had made the same mistake.
In this world, people discerned the Ranks of monsters based on their own knowledge and the monsters’ characteristics such as appearance, behavior and special abilities.
The ‘Appraisal’ spell existed, but its effect was merely efficiently evaluating the target based on the knowledge in the user’s own mind. It did not grant any new knowledge that the user did not already know.
There was apparently a Magic Item that displayed a monster’s Rank when held in the air, but… this was a legendary Artifact given to humans by Ricklent in the age of the gods, when humans did not possess much knowledge regarding monsters. There was no way that an adventurer like Gordon would possess such an item.
That was why there were cases of ordinary people, inexperienced soldiers and rookie adventurers meeting their ends because they were unable to tell that a Goblin was in fact a Goblin Soldier or a Goblin Barbarian.
The same was the case for Basdia and Zadiris. The existence of Ghoul Amazonesses and Ghoul Wizards was documented in texts, but… since they were not seen on the Bahn Gaia continent, these records existed only in the rarest texts within the Mages’ Guild’s archives.
The patterns on Basdia’s body simply looked like tattoos or paintings. The gemstone-like third eye on Zadiris’s forehead had likely been mistaken for a decorative accessory.
Thus, seeing Basdia and Zadiris for what they really were would be impossible without the knowledge of a Ghoul specialist who had researched Ghouls extensively.
If Vigaro had come to this city, people would immediately have known that he was no ordinary Ghoul because he was a Ghoul-Tyrant-type with four arms.
The Tamers’ Guild didn’t conduct thorough examinations on familiars such as touching their bodies or sampling their fur or bodily fluids. Even Bachem had groaned that something was suspicious about Zadiris and Basdia, but there was no evidence that they were not a Ghoul Warrior and a Ghoul Mage.
That was why there was no way for Gordon to know what Basdia and Zadiris truly were.
But their movements might give away that they were masters of combat, so the two of them had been standing completely still. However –
Even with our own circumstances, putting Jessie through any more of this would be bad. We’ll just have to apologize to Van later, Basdia thought.
But as she went to make a move, another man who had been waiting for Jessie to handle things stepped forward.
“Excuse me, could I have a word with you?” said the man – Miles… the ‘Starving Wolf’ Michael.
“What the hell do you want, you bastard?” Gordon spat, raising his fists as he turned towards him.
Jessie’s face turned completely pale.
“Those two are related to my master. So… could you please get lost, unless you want your clavicle broken?” said Miles.
He was nearly two meters tall, with sturdy muscles and a wild-looking and yet well-featured face. And, for some reason, crimson lips. Gordon and his followers were almost overwhelmed by his bizarre appearance and the pressure he gave off. Jessie was completely engulfed in it and on the verge of fainting.
“I see… So, you’re this missy’s caretaker. I don’t know who you are or where you’re from, but you’ve got balls, trying to threaten me,” Gordon smirked.
Naturally, Gordon didn’t know who the ‘Starving Wolf’ Michael was, as he had come to the city of Morksi for the first time today… and even if he had known, it was highly likely that he would have looked down on Miles as a ringleader of a group of thugs.
“Wait a second. Aren’t you misunderstanding something?” said Miles.
“Let’s make things nice and simple. I challenge you to a duel! Let’s have a man-to-man fistfight with these Ghouls on the line, you homo bastard!” Gordon declared with pride in his voice.
From the very beginning, his goal had been to acquire Basdia and Zadiris without paying anything for them, so the appearance of the ‘Starving Wolf’ Michael was a convenient development for him.
“… Well, that doesn’t bother me, so it’s fine,” said Miles.
This was convenient for him as well. Simply beating Gordon down would have been an incident of violence, but the guards wouldn’t interfere if it was a duel.
There were no laws in the Alcrem Duchy stating anything regarding duels; it was nothing more than a custom. There were many cases in which one would be charged as a thief or murderer even after having challenged their opponent to a duel.
But duels between adventurers or mercenaries would often be overlooked as long as they didn’t result in deaths and the terms of the duels were not extremely malicious. With a duel between Gordon, an adventurer who was extremely close to being a thug, and the ‘Starving Wolf’ who had recently become more respectable, it was likely that many guards would internally side with the ‘Starving Wolf.’
“Duel! It’s a duel!” one of Gordon’s followers shouted, keeping the curious onlookers back so that they wouldn’t interfere.
“The ‘Starving Wolf’ Michael of Morksi’s slums and red-light district versus the C-class adventurer, the ‘Strong Arm’ Gordon! Bets, make your bets here!” someone shouted, acting as a bookmaker for people making bets.
There were also store owners trying to sell goods to the people who had gathered around. The guards were wearing bitter expressions, but made no attempt to stop the commotion.
“Do your best, ‘Michael.’ Go and fight for our sake,” Basdia said with a smile.
“That’s my job, so it’s fine!” said Miles.
“I-I can’t let y-you two be taken by those beasts…!” Jessie said in panic, her legs shaking.
“You do not have to fight for us, Jessie! Calm down and get a hold of yourself!” said Zadiris, reaching out to steady her.
“That’s right, Jessie. He’s called the ‘Starving Wolf,’ but he’s the good kind of beast!” Basdia said reassuringly.
“Is Miss Jessie already stepping down from the three-way duel?!” the bookmaker shouted to the crowd.
Miles glared at him, but an even more fearsome development was waiting.
Vandalieu pushed his way forward through the crowd and put Juliana down.
“Then I suppose I will take her place,” he said, joining the duel.
“Do your best!” Juliana said.
“What?!” Miles shouted in shock.
“Who the hell is this brat? So creepy… I see, so you’re the rumored Dhampir of this city! The Goblin-eater. Why are you interfering?!” Gordon demanded.
“I have a feeling that the rumors about me are a bit mistaken. But leaving that aside, I’m interfering because I’m the Tamer who tamed those two,” Vandalieu said.
“What did you say?!” Gordon clicked his tongue. “But even if you are, I don’t care. To hell with Alda’s peaceful faction! A half-blooded monster being served by Ghoul women doesn’t sit well with me!” he said, spitting on the ground.
Vandalieu took no notice of him and began punching the air to warm up.
“Do your best, Van!” Basdia cheered.
“You should go and bet what you have on the boy, Natania,” Zadiris said to Natania, who had come out from the Guild after Vandalieu.
“Wait a second!” Miles screamed, his face pale.
For some reason, this duel had become a three-way one. At this rate, he would be forced to fight Vandalieu.
There was no real reason to play along with the bookkeeper, but… it was possible that Vandalieu would turn to Miles after dealing with Gordon and say that they might as well take the opportunity to have a practice battle.
If that happened, the public would see a scene of a child who was around ten years old fight evenly against the ‘Starving Wolf.’ This would be a terrible blow to the reputation of Miles, who was not quite fully respectable yet and had only just recently started his security service business.
Miles looked around and spotted Simon. “Simon! You owe me a debt, don’t you! You take my place!”
“Huh?! Me?! Master Michael, I couldn’t take on a C-class adventurer who has a Title with my bare fists… or I guess I could,” Simon said indecisively. “I don’t have to take my artificial arm off, do I?” he asked, as his artificial arm was made of iron.
“Hmph, a washed-up bastard with one arm. While you’re at it, why don’t you get that Beast-kin girl behind you as well? Two half-people can be counted as one person!” Gordon sneered provocatively.
His followers snickered.
Accustomed to such ridicule, Simon showed no signs of discomposure. “I won’t hold back,” he said, stepping forward with his artificial arm attached.
Natania gave a sarcastic, angry laugh. “He’s so funny! I couldn’t help laughing when he called us ‘half-people’… I’m going to fight, too!”
“What?!” Simon shouted in shock.
“Natania-san, fighting for your pride is most respectable!” Juliana said encouragingly.
“Juliana-ojousan, you should be stopping her!” Simon groaned.
But Natania forced her way in, and a four-way duel began.
There was someone watching the duel from the sky.
It was something that Vandalieu, Miles, the spirits, the Golems and even Gufadgarn could not detect… the air itself.
What are those guys doing? Are they trying to put on an act to draw us out? wondered the ‘Sylphid’ Misa Anderson, who had turned her body into a colorless, odorless vapor as she simply observed… making sure not to look at Vandalieu directly.
TLN: ‘Read the air’ is a commonly-used Japanese expression that means ‘read the mood’ (of a room/situation). The chapter’s title should make some more sense with this context.