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The gods of Alda’s forces were observing the inside of the Boundary Mountain Range, including Talosheim. However, the gods’ powers were blocked off by the barrier that had been put up by the gods of Vida’s faction.
Thus, the gods had created a peephole in the Divine Realm in which they existed in order to gaze at the surface of the world from above the clouds… a rather unreliable method of gathering information.
If this was for the surveying of the Bahn Gaia continent’s geography, the creation of an accurate map or the observation of weather and other natural phenomena over a wide area, it would be highly successful.
But the gods were attempting to gather information about a city-state on the world’s surface.
Of course, as superior beings, the eyes of gods could see far further than those of mortals, but… they had their limits. And they did not have the ability to see through objects. In the first place, they did not normally even need eyes.
The gods were able to learn of the world’s surface through the eyes and ears of the believers that offered them prayers.
The definition of ‘offering prayers’ was not a strict one. Believers did not have to be fervent worshippers who prayed every day at a certain time; giving short prayers before eating and putting their hands together at a Church, roadside shrine or in front of an ornament in their house every week or month was enough. Of course, the stronger the believers’ faith, the more detailed the information that could be gained from them, but there were no other differences.
… Well, this was something that all gods were able to do as a baseline, rather than being a specialized power specifically for gaining information. Though it was rare for them to answer the prayers of their believers, it would be entirely impossible if they couldn’t hear their believers’ prayers in the first place.
Of course, this ability could not be used for gathering information inside the Boundary Mountain Range with the barrier shutting them out and not a single believer inside the region.
“Ugh!” one of the gods groaned.
It was Ryaon, the god of waves. He had been observing the region with his eyes, but he was now collapsed inside the Divine Realm.
“Ryaon-dono! Ryaon-dono has collapsed!” another god shouted.
“Has he been watching Talosheim for too long?!” said another.
“I-I am fine. I will recover if I rest for a while… But it seems that it will be difficult for me to continue any longer. I will ask Yupeon-sama for another god to take my place,” said Ryaon.
“Please do. I will take over for you in the meantime,” said another god.
Alda served as the head of the gods ruling over the light and life attributes among his forces, but a hundred thousand years had passed with no great god serving as the head of the other attributes. Thus, the other six attributes had representative gods serving as heads and leading the gods of their respective attributes.
As Farmaun had left Alda’s forces around fifty thousand years ago, it had been necessary to appoint a god as the head of the fire attribute, and the surviving gods of the space and time attributes had all been those with no will of their own, so appointing new gods for those attributes had been difficult. It was difficult to say that these attributes were in a stable state.
But the water and earth attributes had gods who had served their respective great gods as heads leading the gods of those attributes, and had been relatively stable for the past hundred thousand years.
“Get some good rest, Ryaon-dono,” one of the other gods said. “To think that he can eat into the minds of us gods. The Demon King Vandalieu… what a terrible being.”
Ryaon’s mind had been eaten into by the mysterious patterns that had been painted on the roofs of Talosheim’s buildings. They resembled abstract art that seemed to have some hidden meaning in them, and yet they also resembled a child’s random scribbles. Each of the pictures on every roof felt like individual works, but at the same time, the entire city’s pictures seemed to come together to represent a single theme.
These were not merely unorthodox works of art; they were cursed images with the effects of Vandalieu’s ‘Mental Encroachment’ Skill.
They were extraordinarily evil, cursed paintings that ate into the minds of the gods that looked at them.
The gods murmured amongst themselves.
“Us gods are able to resist this effect, but I shudder to think what would happen if our believers were to see these images…”
“It seems that some men from the Amid Empire’s army and the Sauron family have already lost their minds after looking at the monoliths and ground paintings in the region that was once the Scylla territory. Even those with the ‘Mental Resistance’ Skill must not let their guard down.”
“It would be fine if they merely lost their minds. But some of them have been lured by him and vanished after walking into the former Scylla territory, as if drawn in by something. They are no longer our believers.”
“A Demon King with the power of guidance that the champions possessed, and a troublesome form of guidance at that.”
To the gods looking at them, they were cursed paintings, but those whom the gods saw as having darkness buried within their hearts would be guided by the paintings into becoming fanatical worshippers of the Demon King.
The guidance was not an attack upon the mind; those who received the guidance benefited from positive effects. Thus, resistance Skills were ineffective against it.
“Even in the city of Morksi, he and Vida’s incarnation are coaxing children with sweet words, enticing and guiding them. Ricklent-sama and Zuruwarn-sama’s unexpected betrayal of Alda-sama may also be because they have been driven insane by the Demon King.”
“… I cannot deny that possibility. Especially after seeing the form that he takes. His repulsiveness exceeds even the fearsome form of the Demon King Guduranis that I have heard from descriptions.”
“He may indeed be more fearsome than Guduranis. As we became gods after the war that took place a hundred thousand years ago, we never saw Guduranis ourselves, but… it is clear that Vandalieu is more cunning and resilient.”
“Are Rodcorte-dono’s reincarnated individuals capable of defeating this cunning, resilient Vandalieu? Even the next generation’s champion Heinz, who has received Alda’s divine protection and is accompanied by Alda’s heroic spirit, was heavily wounded and forced to retreat from battle. And yet his opponent is a monstrosity who is able to materialize his soul, is able to repair that soul from any damage within less than a month, devoured the evil god of joyful life and has become an evil god despite not possessing the blood of an Elder Dragon or Colossus.”
“An evil god… Indeed, you are correct, but he likes to pretend that he has become a benevolent god. Look. He is making his people create enormous statues of himself.”
The last god to speak pointed to a place where an enormous statue of Vandalieu was being constructed. It was so large that it would certainly become a tourist attraction for Talosheim’s future generations.
“No, they will be able to kill him,” another god interjected. “As long as he possesses a physical body, death will come for him eventually. Even those with limitless lifespans such as Vampires and Majin, and even Undead who have already experienced death once, cannot avoid their eventual destruction. That even applies for more advanced beings, such as evil gods, Colossi, Elder Dragons and Beast Kings… The Demon King Guduranis continues to live despite having his flesh torn into countless fragments and his soul separated into multiple pieces, but it was possible to seal him away. Am I wrong?”
The other gods agreed. As gods, they believed that there was no such thing as an immortal being that could never cease to exist. Indeed, even great gods and the Demon King Guduranis had been destroyed, and Guduranis was under such strict seals that he was as good as dead.
No being was an exception to this. The only difference between beings was how long it would be before they met their end.
“However… Even if we were able to kill him, what would we do then? I do not think that we would need to worry if he were an ordinary Dhampir, but he uses the Undead. It is more than possible that he will turn his own corpse into an Undead at the moment of his death.”
In history, there had been several Undead users, commonly known as Necromancers, such as the Pure-breed Vampires Gubamon and Ternecia. They did not use the death attribute like Vandalieu; they had used the divine protections of evil gods or used heretical life-attribute magic to grant false life to and manipulate corpses.
Some of these Necromancers had been able to turn their own corpses into Undead after suffering fatal wounds… though this had always been a futile struggle, as they had become mere Zombies with none of their memories or personalities remaining.
But if Vandalieu were to do the same, it was highly likely that he would remain as great a threat as he was while alive.
“Alda-sama and Rodcorte-dono have come to an agreement regarding this, have they not? After Vandalieu is killed, Rodcorte-dono will use his authority as the god of reincarnation to capture and seal away his soul.”
As the god of reincarnation, Rodcorte’s authority did not extend to living humans. It extended only to souls that had died and were destined for reincarnation.
However, he was also able to intervene on souls in states that were considered dead after losing their bodies.
He would need to extend a hand in the form of descending upon the world of Lambda and take hold of the soul that was in its powerless state. And then he would seal it away.
Just as he had done with the soul fragments of the Demon King Guduranis.
“Souls are outside of our expertise, but Rodcorte-dono, an expert in the matter, has proclaimed this strongly. If we can kill Vandalieu, then Rodcorte-dono should be able to seal him away.”
“Indeed, you are right. We can trust in the power of Rodcorte-dono, the one who sealed away Guduranis’s soul. But do you think that the reincarnated individuals will be able to kill Vandalieu?”
The other gods fell silent in response to this question.
The gods of Alda’s forces were not well-informed when it came to the other reincarnated individuals’ activities in Origin as the Bravers. But they were informed to some extent regarding their activities after they were reincarnated in this world.
From what they knew… they were developing far more quickly than any ordinary humans, but even taking into account their future potential, it was questionable as to whether they would be able to defeat Vandalieu, someone who was even capable of destroying gods.
“The other question is, how effective are the cheat-like abilities that Rodcorte-dono speaks of?”
“And how much more powerful will the reincarnated individuals grow if us gods grant them our divine protections and dispatch our heroic spirits upon them like we do for this world’s heroes? Perhaps this depends on Fitun-dono, the god of thunderclouds, who has experience when it comes to battle.”
“It seems that he has incurred Alda-sama’s wrath after leaving Nineroad-dono’s command and acting on his own, but… should we not have our heroes join Fitun-dono and have them fight together?”
“Wait. If we approach Fitun-dono carelessly without knowing what his plan is for the reincarnated individuals, it may hinder him instead. Is anyone able to contact Fitun-dono or one of his heroic spirits or familiar spirits?”
The young gods, who were feeling more and more endangered by Vandalieu, looked at each other. But none raised their hand. It seemed that there weren’t any gods who knew how to contact Fitun or his subordinates.
“As one of Nineroad-sama’s subordinate gods myself, I have attempted to contact him to tell him not to act on his own, by using his heroic spirits and familiar spirits as intermediaries,” said Bashas, the goddess of rain clouds.
She had taken over the observation of the Boundary Mountain Range in Ryaon’s place; she was speaking without taking her eyes away from Talosheim.
“But… they were not in Fitun’s Divine Realm,” she said.
“He wasn’t there? Could it be that he has already been destroyed by Vandalieu…?!”
“No, that is impossible. One of us gods would have noticed if that were the case!”
“We can assume that Fitun-dono has left his Divine Realm as a part of the plan that he has given to the reincarnated individuals… It seems that there is nothing that any of us can do. Each of us should devote ourselves to the roles that we have been given,” said the god who was in charge of the young gods here. “Incidentally, Bashas-dono, is everything alright? You have been performing the task of observation before Ryaon-dono collapsed.”
“There is no problem,” Bashas replied, still not moving her gaze away from her task. “I am simply devoting myself to my role, just as you said.”
“I see,” the other god said with a nod. “I am sure that even Nineroad-dono admires your dedication. But be sure to say something if you feel anything abnormal.”
With that, Bashas was left to her task. But perhaps the other god should have looked at Bashas’s face as she gazed upon Talosheim, even if he had to by force.
Because in contrast to her dampened tone of voice, her eyes were filled with passion.
Meanwhile, Vandalieu, one of the pair who was coaxing the people with sweet words, was right in the middle of doing so.
In this dim room with only a faintly-glowing Wisp as its only source of light, he had gathered a group of those who were inexperienced.
“Welcome, feeble souls who have now gathered before me after being tempted by the darkness,” he said to them.
Oswald, who was among the people gathered here, began trembling in response to Vandalieu’s words.
“I am one who can grant you something… power, of a kind that none who walk a white path filled with light may receive. If you receive this power, you will be able to gain everything you desire except for one thing. You can live longer lives and eat more delicious food,” Vandalieu continued. “But the price that I ask for in exchange for this is your freedom. Those who fall into darkness may never return, and it is only for those who have prepared themselves that I will lead, and – this is getting difficult, so please let me stop, Matthew,” he said, stopping suddenly.
“What?! You were just getting to the good part!” Matthew said in a dissatisfied tone from among the group of children huddled together at the end of the room where the Wisp’s light didn’t reach.
The other children voiced their displeasure as well, pleading for Vandalieu to continue his act.
“That’s right, you were so cool, Onii-chan!”
“You were really villain-like!”
“Keep going, keep going!”
The inexperienced ones lined up in front of Vandalieu… Marsha’s rat Oswald and Matthew’s young bat Nightwing, were squeaking and playing with their pet friends.
As for why such a thing was taking place inside one of the orphanage’s rooms… Vandalieu had revealed his true identity and the real reason he had come to the city of Morksi to Matthew and the others whom he had rescued from the evil influence of the Pure-breed Vampire Birkyne.
And in response to that, the children were…
“You promised to do anything to make up for keeping secrets from us, right?” Matthew said.
“I did,” said Vandalieu.
“And we asked you to make Nightwing and the rest of our pets like Fang and Maroru. You replied, ‘If you can tame them properly,’ right?”
“And everyone passed the test that you gave us, right?!”
“You all passed after your second attempt, though you needed three attempts, Matthew.”
“Who cares about that! Anyway, when we asked you to help with casting a good-luck charm to make our pets even stronger while you’re at it, you nodded your head, didn’t you?!”
“… I did, didn’t I.”
This was a roughly accurate description of the events that had led up to this.
After the promise was made, it had taken two weeks for the children to achieve the bare minimum for one to become a Tamer… to discipline their pets to an extent where it was possible to describe them as having been tamed, such as the pets coming when their names were called. Now, Matthew and the other children were asking Vandalieu to turn their pets into monsters.
“I never imagined that I’d be made to put on this kind of act for casting a good-luck charm. Isn’t it boring to watch a poor actor like me do this?” Vandalieu asked.
“That’s not true! You’re super talented! I’m sure any theater would hire you to act as a monster in an instant!”
“Thanks, Matthew. I appreciate the thought.”
Dead-looking eyes, white hair, wax-like skin and an ominous lack of presence. Indeed, with these features, Vandalieu could be well-suited to playing the part of a monster, even if he couldn’t act due to his expressionlessness and his flat-toned voice.
… He could fly on his own and use the Demon King’s ink sacs to create his own special effects makeup such as dying his eyes black, so if there were a theater that specialized in horror, he could certainly make a debut right away.
“Dear me. What was I doing?” said the Wisp, floating around with an idle expression.
He was the elderly Vampire who had been one of Birkyne’s confidants, and he was now filled with the light-attribute after having been defeated by Chipuras and the other light-attribute Ghosts.
“Ojii-chan, you were playing with us,” said one of the children.
“Oh, is that right?” the Wisp said.
“Jii-chan, you can’t go that way. Over here, over here.”
From the dialogue, this scene would sound like a grandfather playing with his grandchildren. It seemed that his maliciousness had been washed away along with his memories after being defeated by the light-attribute Ghosts.
He had been one of the perpetrators of the incident with the orphanage, but it seemed that the children did not see this pale ball of light as the old Vampire from back then.
Incidentally, Birkyne’s two other confidants other than him and Magisa had been turned into Undead by Vandalieu. As the Elf Noble-born Vampire’s body had been completely destroyed, he had been turned into a Cursed Weapon, and the Dwarf Noble-born Vampire Mortor’s body had been intact, so he had been turned into a Vampire Zombie like Magisa.
They weren’t in this city; they were in Talosheim working as apprentices for the Dark Night Knights’ Order that was made of Vampire Zombies.
Vandalieu watched the interaction between the children and the Wisp in a way that he seemed to be trying to escape from reality.
“Hey, I wonder if we would be able to tame Wisps like that grandpa?” Matthew asked him.
“You could. There are precedents of that happening,” said Vandalieu.
Undead were considered to be impossible to tame, and they were actually monsters that were dangerous to try to tame for anyone but Vandalieu. But it would be possible for people other than Vandalieu to tame monsters that were under his guidance.
Prior examples of this included Iris who had tamed the Cursed Weapon that contained her father’s soul, and the former fake resistance members including Haj, who had tamed their Living Armors.
“Well, it also depends on whether you are suited for it or not. Even if they are friendly to me, that doesn’t mean that they will be friendly to people other than me,” Vandalieu added.
“That’s true for taming living things as well, right? With that being the case, if there are any new kids coming to the orphanage with their parents’ spirits, you should let them see each other. If it’s possible for them to be together, they wouldn’t have to say painful goodbyes,” said Matthew.
“I don’t mind doing that,” said Vandalieu with a nod, seeing no problem with this request. “It would depend on whether they actually want to see their parents and what kind of condition the spirits are in, though.”
In this world, he had his mother Darcia, but his parents on Earth had died before he was old enough to be aware of it, so he knew what it was like to not be able to meet one’s parents.
He felt no burden in using ‘Visualization’ that allowed spirits to be seen by ordinary people or turning them into Undead in order to reunite children with their parents.
He had already done this for the victims of the ‘Hyena’ Gozoroff’s illegal human trafficking.
Of course, he would be hesitant if he were asked to introduce random spirits to a living person and lie to them that they were the spirits of their parents, or join together some corpses and make Zombies that resembled people’s parents.
“Really?! There’s one new kid who just came to the orphanage and sometimes cries that they want to see their parents, so that would be great,” said Matthew.
“There is no guarantee that their parents’ spirits are around them, though. If they died near this city, then they might already be around me, so I’ll have a look,” said Vandalieu.
“I wouldn’t ask for anything more than that. Man, if you refused, I’d have let you out of the Demon King act and begged you, but I’m glad you agreed so easily.”
“… Am I still allowed to refuse?”
“I thought not,” Vandalieu sighed, dropping to his knees.
“But there’s not much time, so skip to the part where you transform our pets,” said Matthew.
“Alright. Umm, let’s see… You who desire power, receive the blessings of my crimson blood and join the ranks of my followers of darkness,” said Vandalieu, resuming the act.
As he recited the script that he had memorized with the effects of ‘Perfect Record Technique,’ he cut his own palm with one of his sharp claws.
Crimson blood dripped into a soup bowl on the floor. Oswald, Nightwing and the others rushed over to the bowl and began drinking Vandalieu’s blood.
Many of the children’s pets were carnivorous or omnivorous small animals, but they were not species that normally drank blood. The sight of such animals drinking the blood in a frenzy like starved beasts was strange indeed.
And as the pets continued to drink blood, a creaking, grinding noise rose from their bodies as they began to mutate.
Oswald became a Rank 1 Giant Rat, Nightwing a Giant Bat and the rest of the pets also transformed into Rank 1 monsters.
“With this, you have become my servants. Betrayal will not be forgiven… Be sure not to forget that,” said Vandalieu. “Well then, we’ll all be going to register at the Tamers’ Guild together tomorrow, so don’t forget,” he said, putting an end to his act.
“Yeah!” the children said excitedly.
“Yeeeaaah,” the Wisp said, joining in on their excitement.
“I know, but you could have at least let me enjoy the atmosphere a bit more!” Matthew complained.
But Vandalieu had reached his limits for the acting.
Vandalieu’s mind had been immune to the attacks of evil gods, but it had been hard-pressed by Matthew’s script. It was a fearsome script after all… perhaps.
It could also just have been Vandalieu making a big deal out of it.
Just then, Seris and Vestra entered the room.
“Matthew, everyone, what are you doing? Shutting all the windows in the middle of the day and asking Vandalieu-san to do these strange things, aren’t you causing trouble for him?” said Seris.
“Something smells strange…?! B-blood?!” Vestra exclaimed.
The two of them had been aware that the children’s pets would undergo mutation today, but it seemed that they had come in after sensing that something was strange.
Seris and Vestra who had turned out to be Subordinate Vampires and the orphanage’s director who had turned out to be a Dhampir had decided to continue operating the orphanage under the guise that they were humans.
Although the Dhampir director was fine, the Vampires Seris and Vestra were legally considered to be monsters, and the Adventurers’ Guild would designate them as targets for extermination if it were discovered that they had disguised themselves as humans living in the city.
Revealing their situation might result in them merely being exiled from the city. But it was also possible that the entire orphanage would be denounced for having been a facility for raising more pawns for the Pure-breed Vampires.
Vandalieu had formed a favorable relationship with Earl Morksi and trusted him a reasonable amount. But Earl Morksi was not a ruler with absolute authority.
He likely had political opponents among nobles ruling other regions, and apart from that, there was also the influence of religion that declared that although Dhampirs could be accepted, Vampires were evil without exception.
Even if Earl Morksi were to fight these opponents on a political level, there was no telling which way Duke Alcrem, the duke that Earl Morksi served, would judge.
The duke was currently investigating Vandalieu and his companions related to the topic of Juliana, but it was just an investigation with no definite hostile intent. But if he learned of the truth behind the orphanage, there was no guarantee that he would not use it as a reason to attack Vandalieu.
In this complex situation it would be more peaceful to bury the truth and stay silent for a few months than have Earl Morksi risk his political neck and potentially even trigger Vandalieu having to invade the Alcrem Duchy.
In the future, Seris and Vestra would move to Talosheim, and the children would follow them in turn.
After that, the fact that the director was a Dhampir would be revealed, and she would tell the story that she hid her identity and face in order to avoid being discovered by the people who had killed her parents.
“Everything’s fine, Nee-chan. Right, Vandalieu?” said Matthew.
“Yes. My wound has healed already,” said Vandalieu.
He had cut himself to collect his blood in the soup bowl, but the cut had already healed due to the effects of the ‘Rapid Regeneration’ Skill. There was only a small bloodstain where blood had flowed from the cut.
“I see… I was surprised because you let out more blood than I’d imagined… and it seems that Oswald and the others have really become monsters,” Vestra murmured with a hand placed nervously on her chest.
“Everyone, they seem to be Rank 1 just like Vandalieu-san said. We should be able to handle them,” said Seris, looking around at the mutated pets.
Rank 1 monsters like Giant Rats and Giant Bats were nothing more than large rats and bats. They were about as dangerous as stray dogs or even less so. If they were held in the arms of their owners like Matthew and Marsha, they were no different from ordinary dogs and cats.
Even young children could handle them, and there were many cases of Tamers taming monsters from Rank 1 by educating them from a young age.
There were quite a few cases of Tamers beginning their careers at the age of ten or younger, taming Rank 1 monsters received from their masters.
… With that said, this would still astonish Bachem of the Tamers’ Guild tomorrow. Even though these young Tamers had only tamed a single Rank 1 monster each, the Guild’s members would increase more than twofold.
“That’s good. I was a bit worried about what we’d do if they suddenly became Rank 3 or 4,” said Matthew.
“I’ve started to get a general idea of what Rank monsters will be produced when mutating from animals,” said Vandalieu.
He had caused mutation in several species so far, and he had become able to estimate how strong an animal would become after mutating, based on the information gathered by his apprentice researcher Luciliano.
Small animals such as rats and bats would become Rank 1 monsters. Dogs, cats, capybaras, horses and birds of a certain size, such as ducks, would become Rank 2 monsters. And although he hadn’t tried other species, animals such as large birds of prey and bears were likely to become Rank 3 monsters.
In summary, it seemed that the stronger the animal used as the base, the stronger the mutated monster would be.
“It’s easier to predict the results than turning the dead into Undead. It was possible that there would be differences between individuals, but I haven’t seen that happen so far… like rats that are stronger than cats or weak-bodied foxes,” said Vandalieu.
“But it’s fine! You might be weak for now, but I’m going to boost your Rank up like Fang and the others in no time. Right, Nightwing?!” Matthew said excitedly to his companion.
… But Nightwing was still busy drinking Vandalieu’s blood.
“It’s too early for that, Matthew,” said Seris.
“W-why?!” Matthew protested.
“It’s obvious, isn’t it? Even if you and Nightwing were to work together, as you are now, who knows if you’d even be able to defeat a single Goblin. Make sure you learn how to fight first.”
“I-if we go with Vandalieu –”
“You can’t go with Vandalieu-san. If you do that, you’ll be completely reliant on him, won’t you? Nightwing’s partner is you, isn’t it, Matthew?”
Matthew fell silent and thought about it for a moment. “Alright,” he said, his shoulders dropping.
“I’m glad you understand, Matthew,” Seris said gently, putting her hand on Matthew’s shoulder as if she really were his older sister. “You don’t have to rush; things are only just getting started for you. You can take things slow.” She turned to look at Vandalieu. “Vandalieu-san, we need to clean your hand. Even if the cut has healed, it’s no good if… it’s still covered in blood… so we need to make it clean…”
The gentle look in her eyes were replaced with a fiery light, and her cheeks turned red as she took Vandalieu’s hand in both of hers.
“We need to… make it clean…”
For some reason, she swallowed loudly. It was clear exactly just how she intended to clean Vandalieu’s bloodstained hand.
“Ah! Seris-neechan has become like Nightwing!” Matthew shouted.
“Hmm, I didn’t know that she would be taken over by her urges so strongly that she would forget herself. Let’s try erasing the scent of my blood with ‘Deodorization,’” Vandalieu decided.
“Seris, calm yourself!” said Vestra, having realized what was going on from Matthew’s shout.
She hastily used her arms to pin Seris’s shoulders from behind.
“If you do that… you’ll become like Elea… like the other Vampires, and you won’t be able to return!” Vestra groaned.
“Vestra, I know. I know that. But… I’m so thirsty, my throat is so dry that I can’t help it!” said Seris.
“… It’s kind of like my blood is some strange drug,” Vandalieu remarked.
“How can you be so relaxed! Hurry up and use that ‘Deodorization’ spell or whatever!” said Matthew.
“Matthew… I’ve already cast it.”
“Are you serious?!”
It seemed that Seris’s switch had already been flipped, and there was no use in erasing the blood’s scent.
And even Vestra, who was supposed to be stopping Seris, now had a fever-like expression on her face.
“U-ugh, it-it’s no good… I’m also…”
She slowly stopped holding Seris back and joined her in staring at the blood on Vandalieu’s arm.
“Even Vestra-neechan’s lost her mind?! Vandalieu, can’t you get them off you?!” Matthew shouted.
“It wouldn’t be impossible, but… that would need me to forcibly swing them around and throw them off me, so that would be a little dangerous. For everyone else, that is,” said Vandalieu.
As Seris and Vestra were Subordinate Vampires, despite having slender bodies, they possessed more strength than ordinary people. They had enough muscular strength for Matthew to make fun of them for being like gorillas.
As Seris was gripping Vandalieu’s arm with all of that strength, it seemed that Vandalieu couldn’t escape so easily. Of course, being a little rough with her wouldn’t harm her, but… that might be dangerous for the nearby children and pets.
“And if everyone were to hate me for treating these two respected people too violently, my heart would not go unscathed,” Vandalieu added.
As Seris and Vestra attempted to get Vandalieu’s bloodstained hand closer to their own faces, Vandalieu extended his other clean hand to hold them back. He got the feeling that they were a little too old for him to be treating them this way, as if they were little girls.
“Then do something. What do you do when Eleanora-neechan and the others become like this?!” Matthew demanded.
“I let them drink my blood,” Vandalieu replied simply.
“You can’t do that!”
“Then let’s satisfy them with something other than blood,” said Vandalieu. “Though to be precise, blood makes up more than half of its contents… Matthew, there are small bottles in the inner pocket of my clothes. Could you please get them out for me?”
“O-okay,” said Matthew, attempting to take the bottles as instructed.
But the other children seemed to have mistaken this as a continuation of the ritual.
“What are you doing?”
“Onee-chan and Matthew-niichan are trying to drink the blood and receive the ‘blessings of darkness!’”
“We have to stop them! They’re going to become real gorillas! Matthew-niichan is always calling them gorillas, after all!”
Four of the children began trying to stop Seris, Vestra and Matthew.
“No, this isn’t my fault!” said Matthew.
But he was the one who had suggested the chuunibyou-like ritual and asked Vandalieu to perform it, so it was indirectly his fault.
“… It can’t be helped. I’ll feed it to them myself,” said Vandalieu.
With the Demon King’s tentacles, he took two bottles of Blood Potion from his inner pocket… the Potion made from Vandalieu’s blood. He uncorked the bottles in front of Seris and Vestra.
Their attention immediately turned from the blood on Vandalieu’s arm to the Blood Potion, and they began drinking as if possessed.
“Phew,” said Matthew, sighing with relief as he saw them regaining their ability to reason as they drank the Potion. “With that, the two of them are… Wait, is this really alright?” he wondered, realizing that there was no difference in terms of the fact that they had consumed blood.
“I think it’s better for children to see them drinking it properly rather than licking it from my arm. And it would also be less embarrassing for them once they returned to their senses,” said Vandalieu.
“I-I suppose you’re right,” Matthew agreed.
“Wow, did Vandalieu-niichan’s Rank increase?!” one of the children exclaimed.
“Then will you become gigantic like Oswald, Onii-chan?” asked Marsha.
“… I think I want to be in the future,” said Vandalieu.
With that, Seris and Vestra regained their senses after drinking the Blood Potion to satisfy their urge to drink blood, and put an end to the ritual.