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Talosheim, several hours before the battle between Vandalieu and Birkyne.
The Sun Giant Talos was considered to be the most exceptional, powerful and gentle among the Colossi who had survived the war against the Demon King Guduranis.
Having been awakened from his eternal slumber, he gathered his children who carried his blood in the holy grounds of the nation that bore his name… though they were Undead. The important figures were here, including the ‘Sword King’ Borkus, the ‘Saint of Healing’ Jeena and the ‘Tiny Genius’ Zandia.
And he spoke to them.
“I was wondering if you could ask for the name of this nation to be changed to Vandalieuheim or Vandalieuland,” he said with a serious expression.
Borkus and the others had expected to be told of some important prophecy or long-forgotten truth; it took several seconds for them to understand what Talos was saying.
Zandia, the second princess, spoke on behalf of the former king of Talosheim who had never become an Undead and the first princess Levia who was accompanying Vandalieu.
“Umm… Are you serious?” she asked.
“Serious, super serious. I really think that the name of the country should be changed,” said Talos, the ancestor of the Titans whose body was larger than a castle, nodding repeatedly.
“Very well, great father,” said Nuaza, the head of Talosheim’s Church of Vida who would attempt to get permission to build an enormous statue of Vandalieu at every opportunity. “We must tell the Holy Son right away –”
“Hold up,” said Borkus, hastily stopping him.
“It’s too early for that, Nuaza,” said Jeena, who had handed over… or rather, forced, the responsibility of leading the Church onto Nuaza.
“Why would you oppose this?! Borkus-dono, and even you, Jeena-sama! You supported me in the creation of palm-sized statues of the Holy Son!” Nuaza protested loudly.
“Small statues of His-Majesty-kun are cute. But the name of the country doesn’t have much to do with cuteness,” Jeena replied.
“At least tell us your reasons,” Borkus said to Talos, managing to grimace with the half of his face that wasn’t a skull. “Could it be that you really didn’t want your name to be used for the country’s name in the first place?”
Talosheim was the city nation that had been built on the sacred land that Talos had created using the last of his power in order to protect the Titans who had been defeated by Alda and escaped with the goddess.
Thus, Borkus and the rest of the Titans hadn’t had any questions or misgivings about naming the nation after their great father. But perhaps Talos had a far more modest personality than his appearance would suggest and he felt embarrassed to have his name used for the name of the nation.
It was also possible that as one of the gods who ruled over the sun, Talos was discontent with the state of the nation, as there were citizens who were Undead or Vampires, and some other citizens had transformed into new races such as Dark Humans and Dark Dwarves.
Until recently, Talos had been slumbering in order to regain his power. Thus, he had been entirely absent from the former Talosheim’s entire history. It wouldn’t be surprising if he were discontent with how the nation was.
Or so Borkus thought, but Talos let out a sigh.
“It is not that I didn’t want it, but… I feel bad. I mean, I have been asleep until recently, haven’t I? Other than creating the holy grounds in the beginning to ward off monsters, I have not done anything. And over the past hundred thousand years, the holy grounds have shrunk to the point that I could occupy it in its entirety just by sitting in it,” Talos said. “It is… uncomfortable that the name of someone like myself is being used as the name of the nation that leads numerous nations of Vida’s races.”
The reason appeared to be closer to the former, though it didn’t seem that Talos was at all concerned about the fact that the majority of the nation’s inhabitants were beings who were unsuited to being the citizens of a nation of the sun, such as Undead and Vampires.
The Undead Titans suddenly remembered that in the age of myths, Talos had said: ‘The sun’s light shines upon all of creation. It gives only warmth, not distinguishing between good and evil.’
“I see… I understand your reasons. But I think it’ll be a pain in the ass to change the country’s name,” said Borkus.
“Yeah, it’s not just a matter of redrawing the maps,” said Jeena.
“We’ve been calling it ‘Talosheim’ this whole time, so we’re kind of attached to it,” added Zandia.
It may have been simple to rename the Talosheim of the past, as it had not had diplomatic relations with other nations and its population was about five thousand.
But now, it was the main nation in an empire of nations in the Boundary Mountain Range, and it even governed a detached region in the Dark Continent. There was a vast number of documents.
And most importantly, there were already almost a hundred thousand citizens who had grown attached to the name ‘Talosheim.’
“Can’t something be done about that? I tried talking about it with the other gods, but all I got was a lecture from my younger sister that I haven’t seen in a hundred thousand years, and that Xerxes told me that I’m only thinking about useless things because I’ve got too much time on my hands. Fidirg seems to think that I’m too free as well,” Talos muttered, insisting that he wasn’t free since he had joined in on maintaining the barriers around the Boundary Mountain Range from the day when he had regained consciousness.
He was complaining about Xerxes, the god of battle flags who was the guardian deity of the Majin nation, and the dragon god of five sins Fidirg, who protected the Lizardman territory in the marshlands.
“What has Vida-sama said?” asked Borkus.
“She comforts me when we talk about it, but… the topic always quickly changes to our beloved children. She tells hundreds or thousands of stories about our children all at once, so I can barely even nod my head in response,” said Talos.
The gods, especially the great gods, existed in a far higher dimension than mortals. They heard prayers from countless believers and watched over them all. As a Colossus, Talos was among the demigods that were extremely close to being a true god, but it seemed that it was not easy to keep up with Vida’s pace.
“Then doesn’t it mean that the other gods don’t really think that the name needs to be changed either?” said Jeena, trying to convince Talos to not worry about the issue.
“Mmm… Perhaps I am worrying about it needlessly,” said Talos.
His mind seemed to be heading in that direction, and one of the Titans who hadn’t spoken yet came up with an ingenious idea.
Zran, the only Undead Titan to hold the title of ninja, whispered into Borkus’s ear. “Hey, Borkus. Your daughter Gopher seems to have a brilliant idea.”
Borkus turned around in surprise. “What’s wrong, Gopher?! Is something wrong with your stomach?!” he asked his daughter in a whisper.
Gopher, who was normally strong-willed, had her head bowed towards Talos and made no attempt to look up at him.
“Shut up. Unlike you and your friends, I’m a normal person, old man. I’m still not used to this!” Gopher whispered back.
Indeed, she and the other ordinary Titans were being pressured by the aura that Talos was giving off; they were unable to raise their faces to look at him.
Borkus himself had already become close to the realm of godhood himself, and he had seen gods on numerous previous occasions, so he was able to look Talos in the eye and converse normally. But Gopher and the other ordinary Titans could not do this.
After being freed from the slave mine in the Hartner Duchy, Gopher had strived to become a warrior like her father while doing other work on the side such as teaching at a school. However, she had not yet reached the level of being a superhuman.
Talos was the father of the Titan race, and although he consciously suppressed the aura of pressure that he gave off… it was normal for those in his presence to become unable to even speak to him.
“Sorry about that. A hundred thousand years ago, I would teach combat techniques to your ancestors and sing songs with them to get them used to my presence, but I wasn’t able to do that for you,” said Talos. “But in exchange…”
A soft light came from Talos, enveloping Gopher. As it did, she felt the pressure emanating from Talos subsiding.
“This is… a divine protection! Is it really alright to grant divine protections so freely?” Gopher asked.
“In the past, I would grant my divine protection to children who trained in combat and children who sang well. It is nothing to be concerned about,” said Talos. “More importantly, I would like to hear your brilliant idea.”
“Ah, alright. It’s nothing outstanding or anything, but… in human nations, the capital city is often named differently from the nation itself. I just thought that it might be better for Talosheim to be like that as well,” said Gopher.
As all of the nations within the Boundary Mountain Range were city states, the name of the nation and the name of the city were one and the same, and the concept of separating the two didn’t even exist.
However, even though she had been a slave, Gopher had lived in a human nation and knew that human nations contained multiple cities.
“I see… You are suggesting that the city remains as Talosheim, and the nation’s name changes. Could I ask you to request for this to happen?” Talos asked.
“That way, Talosheim would stay as Talosheim, so I think a lot of people would agree…” Zandia said with a nod. “But I think it would depend on the nation’s name for His-Majesty-kun,” she added, knowing that Vandalieu would certainly be opposed to the nation being named something like Vandalieuheim.
“Well, that just needs to be discussed, doesn’t it? Either way, we can’t just change it by ourselves,” said Borkus. “Before we talk to the boy about it, let’s try talking to Chezare and Kurt.”
“O-old man, you’re making the preparations…?!” Gopher murmured in disbelief.
“Next thing, you’ll be telling me that it’s going to snow tomorrow,” Jeena laughed.
And so, the movement to change the name of the Talosheim Empire began.
The news of the destruction of the Pure-breed Vampire Birkyne and Hihiryushukaka, the evil god of joyful life, was instantly known to the Vampires who were a part of the faction that worshiped Hihiryushukaka in the Bahn Gaia continent.
One could describe the chaos that ensued as intense, and also as quiet.
Many Noble-born Vampires in Birkyne’s bases in the Orbaume Kingdom and spread around the regions to manipulate criminal organizations from the shadows had chosen to flee. They were doing their best to survive, abandoning their duties and the organizations they were running along with a few close aides.
The Subordinate Vampires left behind by the Noble-born Vampires had chosen to wait for Vandalieu’s arrival, intending to swear loyalty to him and convert to Vida’s faction like the ones at the tower had done. There were also some who had tried to take over their criminal organizations in the absence of the Noble-born Vampires and others who had continued carrying out their duties, unaware of anything.
Thus, the Orbaume Kingdom would soon become unstable, suffering frequent incidents caused by members of the criminal organizations whose leadership had been lost, or battles against Vampires whose hiding places had been discovered, but… the instability would be a temporary thing, and many of the organizations would be destroyed by the work of soldiers, knights and adventurers.
The fearsome thing about Vampires was that they formed organizations like humans, were highly capable in combat, possessed good equipment and, most importantly, they plotted schemes inside cities rather than Devil’s Nests.
These Vampires abandoned their organizations and began acting on their own or in small groups, and those who were not used to running the organizations had taken over, showing their faults. In other words, they had discarded their strengths and were nothing but prey to the humans.
But in the Amid Empire, there had been almost no chaos among the Vampires who had worshiped Hihiryushukaka. There were some who had planned to flee like the Noble-born Vampires in the Orbaume Kingdom, as well as some who had chosen to kill themselves rather than suffer gruesome fates at the hands of Vandalieu’s subordinates. But the majority of them remained where they were.
This was because many of them believed that Vandalieu would not send people to pursue them all the way in the Amid Empire.
Indeed, Vandalieu had no thoughts of going to the Amid Empire side of the continent. There weren’t any particularly important Vampire-run bases or organizations there, so he had decided that there was no problem with leaving them be.
There were orphanages for gathering children and brothels, but there were none who had been manipulated by the Demon King’s shadow like the children in Morksi’s orphanage.
It seemed that Birkyne had also deemed it unlikely that Vandalieu would appear on the Amid Empire side of the continent.
… Some of those organizations had been destroyed instead by the Storm of Tyranny and their allies who had been informed about the organizations by Vandalieu.
Vandalieu felt no obligation to send forces out to hunt down Vampires scattered over various regions in order to improve the stability of a nation that he did not rule… especially a nation that was his enemy.
That was the job of the lords who ruled those lands and the knights, soldiers and Adventurers’ Guild that fought under their banners.
But Vandalieu had still dealt with the Vampires and places that would be dangerous to leave alone, such as Noble-born Vampire Viscounts that were as powerful as Birkyne’s confidants and the storage facility where Birkyne had kept Subordinate Vampires that he had tortured into becoming murderous puppets for his own amusement.
In the process, Vandalieu had encountered Noble-born Vampires who had remained in the bases to beg for their lives alongside the Subordinate Vampires, so that night had been quite busy.
A Dwarf with a long, braided beard let out a dull scream and clutched his head. “It’s over, it’s hopeless… This is the end!”
The ‘Mage Masher’ Asagi Minami ran into the laboratory, alarmed by the Dwarf’s scream. “W-what’s wrong, Zean-san?” he asked.
“A-Ah, Asagi-kun! Listen to me! The experiment has proven that my hypothesis was wrong!” said the Dwarf named Zean.
The blood drained from Asagi’s face as he prepared himself for the worst.
“But don’t worry. I’ve created a new hypothesis from these results!” the Dwarf said.
“Really?!” Asagi exclaimed.
“Yes; it is still too early to give up. The research has been a series of failures. According to my new hypothesis –”
The blood returned to Asagi’s face as he listened to Zean’s hypothesis. The ‘Ifrit’ Shouko Akagi and the ‘Clairvoyance’ Tatsuya Tendou, who had entered the laboratory behind Asagi, watched with complicated expressions.
“… How many hypotheses does this make now?” Shouko muttered.
“Who knows. I stopped counting after a hundred,” said Tatsuya.
Asagi’s group saw Vandalieu as a threat, so they had been researching ways to combat the Demon King’s fragments. They wanted to discover knowledge and technology that could stand up against Vandalieu, and spread it to every nation. They believed that this would allow the nations to gain some power, deterring Vandalieu from taking future large-scale military actions such as declaring war.
But the research was difficult.
This was only to be expected. Rodcorte considered Lambda to be inferior to other worlds, but even so, Asagi and his companions were trying to develop knowledge and technology that this world’s inhabitants had not managed to do so in over a hundred thousand years.
The three of them had not completely immersed themselves in their combat training and battles against terrorists during their previous lives. All of them had graduated university, and they possessed far deeper knowledge regarding magic than the average person. Tatsuya in particular had acquired much specialist knowledge, as he had put his ‘Clairvoyance’ to use in bomb disposal and the field of medicine.
However, they were researching the Demon King’s fragments. These had not existed in Origin, and they had not even originated in Lambda; they were the transformed flesh fragments of the Demon King Guduranis, an invader from yet another world. They were clearly impossible to explain using Origin’s scientific knowledge and magic system. Asagi’s group had known from the very beginning that this research would be difficult.
That was why they had searched for someone to help with the research. Someone well-versed in this world’s myths, legends, magic and alchemy.
The person they had encountered was Zean, the one who was explaining his hypothesis to Asagi now. He was an eccentric mage who worked in a useless post at the Mages’ Guild. He would repeatedly come up with strange and novel theories, then set about disproving them.
Up until now, it was commonly accepted knowledge that Orichalcum was the only effective tool against the Demon King’s fragments. Despite that, Zean had promised to cooperate with the strange trio who wished to research other effective ways to deal with the fragments.
“… He is a brilliant person, though. He gets inspirations, doesn’t slack off in experimenting and quickly admits his mistakes. I think it’s pretty impressive that he’s managed to come up with over a hundred convincing theories and still keep going,” said Tatsuya.
Indeed, Zean was a genius in a way. Through the verification and rejection of hypotheses, considerable gains had been made.
“But I wish he’d stop screaming like the world is ending every time his hypothesis is wrong,” Shouko sighed.
The two of them felt a sense of futility every time they heard Zean’s scream, knowing that it meant that his hypothesis had been wrong.
This was likely why Zean had been placed in a useless position in the Mages’ Guild. Due to his behavior, nobody had noticed that he was a very exceptional individual.
But for some reason, it seemed that he and Asagi got along. It was likely that their overbearing stubbornness to continue on towards their goal without giving up was what they had in common.
“Come to think of it, how is the ‘sponsor’ these days?” asked Shouko.
“There’s been no real change. He’s just regularly getting reports about the state of the research,” said Tatsuya.
This research into the Demon King fragments was being carried out with the support of Duke Birgitt’s family, who ruled over this duchy… and their surveillance.
After all, the target of research was a fragment of the Demon King. If it were mishandled, a researcher could become infested by the fragment and run amok, destroying the city.
Ordinarily, adventurers like Asagi’s group would never be allowed to carry out such research, but as they had successfully sealed away a rampaging fragment of the Demon King with the advice of Aran and the other reincarnated individuals in Rodcorte’s Divine Realm, the duke had allowed it… though a large part of the reason was that the duke had mistakenly thought that Asagi’s group were among the heroes who had recently emerged all over the continent with the divine protections of the gods.
They had received a god’s divine protection (Rodcorte’s), so it was an easy mistake to make.
And so, Asagi’s group had received considerable support, but they had come under the supervision of the duke’s family in exchange. Tatsuya had examined this surveillance with his ‘Clairvoyance’ and was also keeping an eye out for anything strange, but there had been nothing particularly out of the ordinary.
“The duke is probably going to get another report because of the scream just now, so I’ll have a look, but… it’ll probably be the same as usual,” said Tatsuya, assuming that the person doing the surveillance and reporting worked for the Birgitt family.
The group’s goal hadn’t changed, so they didn’t see this as a problem.
But the Pure-breed Vampire Birkyne’s will existed among the vassals serving the duke’s family that was funding the research and the Mages’ Guild employees introduced to the group by Zean.
None of the group were aware, as Birkyne was manipulating them in such a way that the vassals and employees themselves were unaware of it.
Aran and the other familiar spirits in Rodcorte’s Divine Realm were capable of seeing information regarding the humans whose souls belonged to Rodcorte’s circle of transmigration system. However, this was the Birgitt Duchy, whose duke was a Beast-kin. There were more members of Vida’s races here than in other duchies, so the information available was limited.
“But have a look just in case. Asagi and I will probably be busy acquiring materials and things needed for experiments to test the next new hypothesis,” said Shouko.
“Alright… Let’s pray that the duke’s family doesn’t cut off their support,” said Tatsuya.
The two of them had not been involved in researching Zean’s hypotheses for a while; they were hunting as adventurers. The incidents caused by the chaos within Hihiryushukaka’s Vampires after the loss of Birkyne had occurred all over the Birgitt Duchy as well.
The duke’s family could not simply ignore Asagi’s group’s achievement of successfully sealing a Demon King fragment, and they could not refuse his requests, as he was their sponsor.
And from their successful exterminations of multiple Noble-born Vampires, Asagi and his companions went through a promotion examination for formality’s sake, and became B-class adventurers.
Incidentally, Vandalieu did not appear in their laboratory through teleportation. Their research was inconvenient for Vandalieu, but as there were Demon King fragments not absorbed by him still running loose, he had apparently decided that their research was necessary.
Several days after the destruction of Birkyne and Hihiryushukaka, the evil god of joyful life, in Itobam, a city on the opposite side of the Devil’s Nest that had been ruled by the Minotaur King from Morksi.
The members of the Flame Blades, an adventurer party that worked in the Adventurers’ Guild of this city, were busy hunting in the Devil’s Nest.
One of them, a male Titan shield-bearer, angrily kicked away a monster corpse whose materials he had finished collecting. “Shit… How the hell can we pay a hundred thousand Baums!” he cursed. “A hundred thousand! How many years is it going to take to earn that?! Are they trying to tell us to hunt Minotaurs or something?! We’re D-class!”
“We can’t pay it even if we hunt ten Minotaurs. It’s a hundred thousand Baums each,” one of his companions, a female human scout, reminded him.
“There’s five of us, so five hundred thousand in total… We wouldn’t be able to pay it off by killing a single Minotaur unless it were the Minotaur King,” said a young, male, half-Elf mage.
“Calm down. The hundred thousand Baums each isn’t final yet,” said a human male swordsman, the leader of the party.
“That’s right. A hundred thousand is the worst possible scenario, and the Guild told us that it’s likely that the punishment will be lighter than that,” said a female wolf-type Beast-kin archer.
The Flame Blades had committed the crime of using Natania, who had joined their party, as bait to escape from Minotaurs. This crime was currently being investigated by the Guild.
Having sacrificed Natania and escaped, they had returned to the city of Itobam and reported to the Guild that there was a large horde of Minotaurs in the Devil’s Nest.
Back then, they had received sympathetic looks. The Guild and the other adventurers had felt pity at the fact that one of their companions had been unable to be saved, and praised them for making it back to the Guild with this important information.
Naturally, none of the Flame Blades had told anyone that they had thrown a knife at Natania’s leg. They had reported to the Guild that they had been ambushed, and had no choice but to leave the wounded Natania behind.
That was why no nasty words had been spoken to them even when the Guild began taking steps to deal with the Minotaur horde.
As even the weakest Minotaurs were at least Rank 5, the five members of the Flame Blades together would barely be able to stand up against a single Minotaur. Thus, adventurers who were far more capable than them were to be the ones to battle the Minotaurs directly. However, they had been assigned to other important, non-combat-related duties such as guiding the other adventurers to the place where they had been attacked as well as transporting and guarding the supplies.
The Guild had done so because they had believed that the Flame Blades were dependable adventurers who had been able to maintain their composure despite the tragedy of losing one of their companions.
The Flame Blades had been enthusiastic to use this task as a step towards their promotion to C-class.
But in the end, the team built to eradicate the Minotaur horde had never moved out. Before they could, there had been a report from the city of Morksi that the Minotaur horde had already been destroyed.
The one who had written the report was Natania, the one who had been abandoned by the Flame Blades. In addition to reporting about the Minotaur horde, she had also reported her betrayal at the Flame Blades’ hands, and the Guild had begun an investigation.
Each of the Flame Blades’ members had been questioned separately regarding the situation in which Natania was left behind, and small differences in each of their testimonies had revealed holes in their story, causing them to confess to their evil deed.
People’s opinions about them reversed in an instant, and the Flame Blades had gone from being an excellent adventurer party to being looked upon with scorn as a group of fiends who would sacrifice their own companions to save themselves.
The ‘one hundred thousand Baums each’ that they had just been talking about was the amount that they were to pay to Natania.
“They said that the fact that we were being chased by Minotaurs is the truth, and that it was understandable for us to be tempted to do what we did,” said the party’s leader. “We were able to make it back with important information, and it was possible that they could take the extenuating circumstances into account –”
“It’s obvious that they only said that because they’d be screwed if we were to hang ourselves in despair!” the Titan shouted angrily.
“The amount that we have to pay will be paid to her as reparations, after all. If we don’t pay enough, the amount would have to come out of the budget of the Adventurers’ Guild’s Itobam branch,” said the half-Elf mage.
“But still, they should cut it down by some amount… though it would be tough for us even if they halved it,” the scout sighed.
The Titan clicked his tongue in frustration. “The damn Guild, dragging up things from the past…”
The truth was that the incident with Natania was not the first time that the Flame Blades had survived a Minotaur horde attack by sacrificing their companions. In the fifth year since the party formed, they had sacrificed three others.
Like Natania, all of them had been the party’s ‘sixth member.’
The five of them trusted each other, having been together since they had first become adventurers, while the sixth member had joined them later on. In situations when one member needed to be sacrificed, it was out of the question to sacrifice anyone other than that sixth member.
Despite having done that, the Flame Blades had never drawn suspicion from the Guild. However, considering this past, it was easy to guess the truth.
The Guild’s investigators had an extremely bad impression of them.
“But something is a little strange. Normally, they would take more time with the investigation… and compared to similar cases in the past, a hundred thousand Baums each is a higher amount for reparations. Why?” the half-Elf mage questioned.
The Titan sighed in frustration. “I’m sure she’s sucked up to some important person in Morksi and told him to get us to pay this much!” he spat.
The party did not know how Natania had been rescued or the circumstances she was in now.
… Naturally, they were unaware that she had been rescued along with the duke’s younger sister who was a knight, by an adventurer who appeared to be Randolf ‘the True’ who had acted on the duke’s orders. Nor did they know that she was under Vandalieu’s protection and had become acquainted with Earl Morksi.
But the Guild did know these things. Though the Flame Blades were unaware, Natania and her guardian had become very important people. The speedy investigation and heavy punishment were a result of steps taken in consideration for them.
“I was against letting that cat bitch into our party in the first place!” the Titan shouted.
“You were against it? I wonder who it was that made a move on her and got rejected?” the scout said angrily.
“There’s no point talking about all of this now! We can’t do anything about it, so we have no choice but to earn as much as we can and finish paying the reparation amount off as quickly as possible!” the leader said, stopping the argument between his companions.
But even he was aware just how difficult it would be to pay a hundred thousand Baums each for D-class adventurers like themselves.
Even if they were to cut down on their living expenses, their profession was one whose capital was paid by their bodies. They couldn’t cut down on their food too much because it would affect their stamina. They couldn’t be stingy with the arms that were the tools of their trade, either.
And respectable merchants would avoid hiring the Flame Blades, as they were now infamous for killing their companions, nor would other adventurers want to work with them.
Thus, they couldn’t get any relatively good commissions, and it was difficult to group up with other adventurers to take down big monsters or bandit groups.
How many years it would take to pay the reparations would depend on the finalized amount…
“I think the gods are our only hope…” the Titan muttered.
Suddenly, an unfamiliar voice spoke to the party.
“You are the Flame Blades, I presume?”
The party turned around to see that a man had appeared there.
It was a man with his hair standing on end, a face that could be described as both masculine and ill-looking, and worn out leather armor that looked as if it could fall apart at any moment. The Flame Blades looked closely to see that he was still of an age where he could be called a boy, but the bright, hazy light coming from his eyes canceled out his young appearance.
“You pitiful dogs who abandoned your companion and now have to pay a large sum in reparations. It seems that you admired the Five-colored Blades, but at this rate, it seems likely that you’ll push yourselves too hard and die before you can pay off your debt,” the man said in a ridiculing tone.
The Titan shield-bearer stepped forward. “You bastard! I don’t know your face. Who the hell are you! Don’t think you can get away with making fools of us!” he shouted angrily.
The man’s mouth formed a crescent-shaped smile. “My name is Hajime Inui. I am the great hero of Fitun, the god of thunderclouds. Rejoice! I’ll make you heroes like the Five-colored Blades with the power of a god, just as you hoped for!”
As Hajime made this loud declaration, a soft light came from his body.
The Flame Blades’ screams echoed across the Devil’s Nest, but nobody heard them… and they became ‘heroes.’
In a certain room in a certain house, in the high-class residential area in a certain country in Origin, a small boy was groaning in frustration.
There was a small ball made of sponge in front of him, and there was a target printed on paper attached to the wall.
It seemed that the boy was attempting to throw the sponge ball at the target with a method other than using his hands or feet.
As Origin was a world in which magic existed, it was possible to send the ball flying with wind-attribute magic, but… the method the boy wanted to use wasn’t magic.
There was a book behind the boy, and it was titled ‘Mysterious Power Handbook.’
“… ‘A hundred simply-explained methods to train your powers. Join the Bravers.’ Even in a world where magic exists, I’m surprised that there are these kinds of books,” Banda murmured to himself.
It seemed that the book was about what were known as ‘superpowers’ on Earth.
“The Bravers exist, and they’re a group of people who have special abilities that aren’t magic, so it isn’t strange for such books to be written… or is it?” Banda wondered. “It looks like a book written for children, and I don’t think young people would really think that they could actually gain some kind of power.”
The book’s contents were vague. Phrases like ‘concentrate your mind’ and ‘imagination training’ were frequently used, but there were no specifically-described training methods.
If people could gain abilities with books like these, the whole world would be able to become Bravers.
Sure enough, it seemed that the boy failed at his goal.
“Ugh… It’s impossible!” he said with a sigh of frustration. “I guess I really don’t have powers like Mom and Dad… No, I’m not done yet! I still haven’t tried the other ways of training!”
Repairing his own almost-broken will, he began looking through the book for the next thing to try.
“Huh? This isn’t the page I was looking at. Maybe the wind turned the pages?” the boy wondered in confusion.
But without putting too much thought into it, he began reading.
“The warm air from the air conditioner doesn’t reach the book over here, though,” Banda whispered, knowing that the boy… Amemiya Hiroshi, couldn’t hear him.
It seemed that Hiroshi was concerned about the fact that he did not have any special abilities like his parents. This was to be expected, as his parents, Amemiya Hiroto and Narumi, were leaders of the Bravers and world-famous heroes.
“Maybe he’s being teased at school. It could become a deeply-rooted complex in the future. And his younger sister Meh-kun has me residing in her, so she could be considered special in a way… He might end up feeling alienated because he’s the only one who isn’t special,” Banda murmured.
He passed through the wall of the children’s room, returning to Meh-kun… Amemiya Mei, who was in the living room watching a children’s television program with the female babysitter. He couldn’t be more than fifty meters away from her, but he was free to walk around the house and the neighborhood.
“Banda, frog, frog,” Mei giggled.
“Mei-chan, you like frogs, don’t you?” said the babysitter, thinking that she was referring to the frog that was extending its tongue on the television screen, which appeared to be an LCD.
But the truth was a little different.
When Mei said ‘frog,’ she meant, ‘Stick your tongue out like a frog.’
“Look, I’m a frog,” said Banda, extending his tongue out back and forth.
Very excited by this, Mei attempted to reach out and grab his tongue.
“But you’re not very good at drawing pictures, are you? It’s not unusual, since you’re not even two years old yet, but… I wonder if this is really a frog,” the babysitter said, giving a puzzled look at the drawing on the drawing paper that had been left out on the floor.
There was a ‘strange thing’ drawn on the paper.
If one were to describe it, it would be a monster with shrimp-like antennae extending from its head, four eyes and a crescent-moon-shaped smile that stretched from ear to ear, from which a tongue hung out all the way to his feet.
At first, the babysitter had thought that Mei had drawn a monster that had appeared to her in a scary dream, but it seemed that she had taken a liking to this monster. “Banda,” she had said with a smile after drawing it.
“Ah, you drew a portrait of me. Thank you, Meh-kun,” said Banda.
If the babysitter were to see Banda, she would completely change her mind about Mei’s drawing skills. For a two-year-old, she was quite the prodigy.
“Now then, I wonder what I should do about your Onii-san?” Banda wondered.
His top priority was Mei. Even if that weren’t the case, Hiroshi was the son of Amemiya Hiroto and Narumi… two of the people who had ended Vandalieu’s previous life.
Banda had felt unpleasant feelings upon learning that their son had clearly been named after his own previous name, ‘Amamiya Hiroto.’
But that wasn’t Hiroshi’s fault at all, and he bore no responsibility for his own name.
“It’s not unusual for children to act out during puberty because of a complex they feel due to their families, but I want to avoid Meh-kun’s home environment deteriorating as a result of that,” Banda murmured. “I want him to be a good older brother for Meh-kun, too.”
Banda thought that Hiroshi, who was currently in the other room, had done nothing wrong as Mei’s older brother so far. He took care of her and played with her. Banda wouldn’t have described him as the ideal brother, but he was a relatively good older brother for his age.
“But unlike my main self, I’m not able to give him special powers… This is quite troubling, Meh-kun,” Banda said.
“Trabbing?” Mei said, attempting to repeat Vandalieu’s words.
“What is it, Mei-chan? Are you talking about the sloth?” asked the babysitter.
TLN: ‘Troubling’ is 悩ましい/nayamashii and ‘sloth’ is ナマケモノ/namakemono; they sound… somewhat similar.
Unlike his main self, Banda was spending his time peacefully, but things were quite troublesome for him as well.
In fact, Banda had not yet realized that this house was under surveillance from a place that was over fifty meters away.
“There’s nobody in the house except for the brats and the babysitting woman. We can do it if we move now,” one man murmured.
“Don’t be ridiculous; it’s different from a robbery where you’re done after you take the goods. We won’t get paid if we don’t hand the kids over safe and sound after we kidnap them!” said another.
“But it’s Amemiya Hiroto’s brats!” said the first man.
“You don’t need to tell me that! I know that you have a grudge against him, but I won’t let you move on your own. If you disobey me, I’ll dispose of you before the brats,” warned the second.
“… Fine. But how long do we have to wait?”
“We’re waiting for the go signal from the client. If you understand me, shut up and get back to surveillance.”
Just like the sloth on the television screen, Banda’s time of peacefulness was limited.