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TLN: The ‘Dark Continent’ has been retranslated to ‘Demon Continent,’ a more accurate translation. (Previous chapters have been edited with this change.) Keep in mind that the continent that was introduced in chapter 246 is the Demon King’s continent, similarly named but a separate continent. Sorry for any confusion.
Beings that served Alda, the God of Law and Fate, as well as familiar spirits sent by other gods, visited his Divine Realm one after another to report information.
Many of these reports were related to Vandalieu.
“From my master to Alda-sama. Vandalieu, the Demon King who defeated Fitun, and his companions, are holding an extravagant and luxurious festival in his capital, boosting morale.”
“My lord Zaress, God of Soldiers, believes that the festival was funded by money extorted from his citizens and wealth that was obtained illegally from taking over the criminal organization in the city of Morksi.”
“To still not be satisfied after forcing his people to construct an enormous statue of himself. What a vain, arrogant person he is. He is an embodiment of the first Demon King, Guduranis himself.”
Familiar spirits, who performed tasks such as delivering messages, were beings who had been created by the Mana of the gods that were their masters. Thus, their words and actions were those of the gods that had created them. This meant that the gods themselves, the ones watching over the region within the Boundary Mountain Range from the skies above, held a strong hostility for Vandalieu without knowing the true circumstances of the people living in Talosheim.
Even though it was a result of the god’s own rampaging and actions that were not befitting of a god, it was a fact that Fitun, a god of Lambda, had been destroyed not long ago. Perhaps the young gods could not be blamed for seething with animosity towards Vandalieu.
But Alda thought differently from them. “Familiar spirits, tell the young gods that you serve: ‘Maintain your composure. Do not forget that the troublesome thing about the Demon King Vandalieu is that he is compassionate towards others, a trait that the first Demon King, Guduranis, did not possess.’”
All of the familiar spirits were bewildered by Alda’s words of reprimand.
“It is certainly true that Vandalieu is evil. There is no doubt that he misleads the people with twisted teachings that oppose our teachings of the correct order of the world and the way that the people ought to live. He may be arrogant, and it is likely that he is vain as well. But he does not lack a heart of mercy,” Alda continued.
“Alda-sama, do you mean to say that he is not evil?!” one of the familiar spirits uttered in shock.
“That is not what I am saying. But even wicked people who break the law and commit sins have hearts of good. That is all.”
Even the wicked had parts of them that were good, just as virtuous people also had dark sides to their minds.
Many of the things Vandalieu had done in the city of Morksi had likely been done in order to bolster his own strength and the strength of Vida’s religion. But not everything had been done in Vandalieu’s own self-interest.
The Vida that Alda knew was the Goddess of Life and Love, even if she had lost her mind. She loved the races that she had given birth to, imperiling the principles of the world, as her own children. She preached to them the same teachings that she had taught before Guduranis’s appearance in this world.
That had likely not changed, even after she was impaled by Alda’s ‘Stakes of Law’ and then freed from them by Vandalieu.
With that being the case, she would have taught the same teachings to Vandalieu, and Vandalieu would be obeying those teachings.
And that was precisely why Vandalieu was so dangerous. If he possessed the same personality as Guduranis, he would be forced to speak and conduct himself in a way that was filled with arrogance and vanity. A ruler who reigned using only power and fear had a strong control over his subjects, but even small things could create cracks in that control.
Conducting himself in a way that ensured that he would not be looked down on would require Vandalieu to continuously display himself and his companions to be greater than would otherwise be necessary.
If Vandalieu were ruling in this way, Alda’s forces would have likely been able to make Vandalieu’s subordinates betray him even more easily than the champion Zakkart had done a hundred thousand years ago. Unlike the Demon King’s army, which was composed entirely of evil gods who were born in foreign worlds, many of Vandalieu’s subordinates were people of Lambda.
But Vandalieu was ruling over his subordinates with something that was not power or fear. But to Alda, this was something that was distorted and repulsive, something that contradicted the order that had existed in this world thus far, and something that could never be accepted.
“I am not defending Vandalieu. But if we mistakenly believe that he is full of only hatred simply because he is the second Demon King, we will have our feet knocked out from under us. Tell your masters that we must be cautious,” said Alda.
“V-very well,” said the familiar spirit that had spoken up.
With that, the familiar spirits returned to their masters to relay Alda’s words to them. After them came more familiar spirits with reports from the gods watching over the Demon Continent and the Alcrem Duchy, as well as those in the seas where the Demon King’s Continent was, protecting Botin and Peria.
Many of them reported that nothing was out of order, but some reports were not of this nature.
“My lord Arkum-sama, God of the Blue Sky, requests some time away from the task of monitoring Talosheim,” one familiar spirit said.
“Arkum? What is the matter? Has he been attacked?” Alda asked.
Arkum, the God of the Blue Sky, was the light-attribute god who ruled over the weather. He was one of Alda’s younger subordinate gods, and carried out his duties with passion, but…
“No, he has not been attacked. However, there are repulsive patterns that are so blasphemous that they cannot be described with words, painted on the roofs of Talosheim’s buildings, and they are tormenting my lord Arkum’s mind,” the familiar spirit replied. “He is currently having his duty mostly carried out by another in his place, and it would cause more trouble if this were to continue, so he would like to excuse himself from this role.”
“I see. I knew that the Demon King had created monoliths and images that eat into the minds of humans, but to think that they can also eat into the minds of gods. It is likely that Arkum is simply not suited to this task. Instruct Arkum to step away from this task for a while and carry out the nurturing of his heroes,” Alda told the familiar spirit. “Incidentally, who is the god who is watching over Talosheim in Arkum’s place?” he asked, thinking that perhaps this god was relatively resistant to Vandalieu’s attacks on the mind.
“It is one of Nineroad-sama’s subordinate gods – Bashas-sama, the Goddess of Rain Clouds.”
If he were to be honest, Alda was not particularly familiar with that name. He did recall that she had been a woman who was a foreteller of the weather, and she had ascended to become a goddess after dying young.
Unlike Fitun, she was obedient and in no way wicked. Alda did not have much of an impression of her because she did not really cause or get involved in any problems.
But because of those qualities, and the fact that she was a goddess of ill omens, she was not very publicly worshipped by the people. Most statues of her were fearsome and eerie rather than portraying an image of purity.
And she was not thought of as a goddess with mental fortitude or valiance.
Perhaps it is a matter of compatibility with the task rather than mental fortitude? Alda wondered. Even the God of Sunlight and the God of Evil-Crushing, whom Bellwood left in my care, have reported dizziness and headaches from the attacks on their minds. But the Goddess of Dark Nights and the God of Shadows have been unaffected.
The Goddess of Dark Nights and the God of Shadows had ominous-sounding titles, but both were gods of the light attribute. In this world, darkness was not an attribute of its own. Rather, it represented a state or a space in which there was no light, so it was considered to be a part of the light attribute.
There was even a light-attribute spell called ‘Darkness,’ which manipulated light to create darkness –a space where light did not shine.
In the same way, nights of pitch-black darkness and shadows, which could be created as long as light were present, were ruled over by light-attribute gods.
Having thought up to this point, a thought suddenly occurred to Alda. “… Wait, is this situation alright?”
There were some among guiders who could influence not only mortals, but gods as well – Just like the champion Bellwood, who had spoken of the correct state that the world should exist in, and the ‘Fallen Champion’ Zakkart, who had convinced numerous evil gods to betray the Demon King’s army and corrupted Vida to insanity.
Was Vandalieu not one such individual? The second Demon King’s guidance had misled not only Vida and the evil gods corrupted by Zakkart, but Ricklent and Zuruwarn as well. Would this guidance not affect other gods?
Basha, the Goddess of Dark Nights and the God of Shadows looked like they were not under mental attack, but could it be that they were actually being affected by his guidance?
Am I overthinking things? In reality, they are showing no signs of making moves to betray us. And as for whether they are being affected by his guidance, I may be able to read the minds of mortals, but I am unable to peer into the hearts of gods. I would not be able to tell unless they were to show concrete signs, Alda thought to himself. But just in case, I suppose I shall investigate the state of their heroes. As they are gods, if they were to try and make contact with Vandalieu, they would use their believers rather than do so themselves.
With these thoughts in mind, Alda inquired as to whether anyone knew of the whereabouts of the heroes of Bashas as well as the other two gods in question, but there was not a single familiar spirit who knew of the heroes being nurtured by these gods.
The reason for that was, Bashas knew that she was feared as a goddess of ill omens, so she had told her potential heroes to keep the divine protection she had given them a secret for a while.
As for the Goddess of Dark Nights and the God of Shadows, it wasn’t clear if they were even nurturing heroes or not. Nobody knew, as they avoided contact with other gods even more than Bashas did.
While the heroes of other gods were performing glorious deeds under their watch, Bashas’s heroes were out there somewhere, acting in secret.
“… I must quickly choose gods to send out in order to replace them. And I suppose it would be best to hear what they have to say,” Alda muttered to himself.
Carelessly suspecting his allies would bring about the downfall of his faction, but he could not simply leave them be.
Talosheim would be renamed. Or to be precise, the name ‘Talosheim’ would continue to be used, but only to refer to the city rather than the entire nation.
The new name would be used not only for Talosheim – it would be used to refer to the nation comprising all lands ruled by Vandalieu, including the Demon Continent, the former Scylla territory and the entire area inside the Boundary Mountain Range.
This large project was taking place behind the scenes, unknown to Vandalieu, the emperor of the nation.
It was also kept a secret from Chezare, the general and prime minister, as well as his aide Kurt Legston, the military officers and civil officials that served them such as Cuoco Ragdew, the people who were once leaders in the separated territory that was the Demon Continent, and the gods and leaders of the nations within the Boundary Mountain Range.
As if it were some kind of bullying by exclusion, all possible efforts had been made to ensure that Vandalieu never learned of it.
The construction of the enormous statue of Vandalieu was, by coincidence, the perfect cover to distract Vandalieu’s attention away from the project.
“But you know, I don’t think ‘Great Vandalieu Demon Empire’ is going to work. There’s gotta be other options,” said Matthew, having heard this suggested name that was suggested by Talos.
Incidentally, Matthew and the others from the orphanage would immigrate to Talosheim in the future, so they had come to Talosheim to see it before it actually happened – and also to have them participate in the parades and festivals, and to make preliminary preparations for Seris and Vestra’s surgeries.
“I agree,” said Vandalieu in response to Matthew’s opinion, nodding more quickly and more enthusiastically than usual.
Seeing Vandalieu’s reaction, Matthew suddenly gave a forced smile. “So, how many people did you talk to before you came to me?” he asked.
“… More than ten. Half of them already knew about the changing of the nation’s name, and the other half were unaware but gave unexpected responses,” said Vandalieu.
Gufadgarn, who had been present when Talos suggested changing the nation’s name to him, could not understand what Vandalieu thought was problematic at all. This was likely because she was the Evil God of Labyrinths, and there was already a nation that was named after its guardian deity in the Boundary Mountain Region, Zanalpadna.
“Someone as lowly as myself cannot understand, but I am always the servant of the great Vandalieu,” she had said comfortingly, but Vandalieu had the feeling that something was off.
Darcia had said, “Yes, they should play around with it a little more,” recommending that the name be adjusted a little, but seeming to agree with renaming itself.
Most people other than those who had been taken to the city of Morksi were aware of the renaming. However, Luciliano, who was permanently holed up in the underground workshop other than for meals, and Kasim, Fester and Zeno, who were Vandalieu’s friends but ordinary explorers otherwise, had been unaware.
Luciliano had casually brushed the matter aside, saying: “More importantly, Master, I believe that we should move that experiment to the human experiment stage.”
Kasim, Fester and Zeno, on the other hand, had been happy for Vandalieu and congratulated him.
Vandalieu was grateful for everyone’s support, but all of them had given different reactions from the one he had been hoping for.
Thus, he had begun to wonder whether it was him that was strange for detesting the idea of having the nation named after himself, and that was why he had come to hear the opinions of Matthew and the others who had been secretly brought here from Morksi from the parade.
“You’ve come at the perfect time! Vandalieu-dono, I mean, Vandalieu-sama! Please do something about these impertinent brats!” shouted Luvesfol’s voice.
A hands-on ‘interaction with a familiar’ session was being held in the plaza for the children, using Luvesfol as the subject with Pauvina’s supervision.
But Vandalieu and Matthew ignored his pleas and continued their conversation.
“But why are you asking me? Wouldn’t it have been better to ask your disciples, old man Simon or Natania nee-chan?” Matthew asked.
“Simon and Natania are currently very tired, and are asleep. Borkus and Vigaro got a little too excited while training them,” said Vandalieu.
Wanting to train the newcomers effectively, Borkus and Vigaro had used training weapons to have fights against Simon and Natania going all-out, providing a kind of training that was quite close to a real battle.
The two of them possessed strength and vigor that was not at all inferior to physical incarnations of heroic spirits, and Vigaro had been particularly into it, as Simon and Natania were both users of ‘Spirit Form’ like him. Thus, Simon and Natania seemed to have been provided with an enriched training environment… and as a result, they were now dead tired and sleeping like logs.
“I see… But you’re this country’s first king, right? So wouldn’t it be normal to name it ‘Zakkart Empire’ rather than Vandalieu?” said Matthew.
Indeed, most nations in the human societies of this world were derived from their founders’ surnames.
This was true for the Amid Empire as well as the Mirg shield-nation, one of its vassal states. It was a little different in the case of the Orbaume Kingdom. It was named after the Free City of Orbaume, where the nation’s founder united twelve independent nations and devised the system of having an elected monarch. This city was at the center of what was now the capital realm.
However, even the Free City of Orbaume had originally been named by taking one character from each of the surnames of its five founders.
TLN: ‘Orbaume’ is five characters in Japanese: オルバウム
Considering this convention, there would be nothing strange about using Vandalieu’s surname as the name of the nation.
“But that’s a little odd, too. I got the surname ‘Zakkart’ after I became the king and emperor. And… there’s no guarantee that I won’t get more surnames in the future,” said Vandalieu.
“… You can get more surnames, huh. Well, I suppose you’re right. But it’s kind of surprising that even you get embarrassed sometimes,” said Matthew in an earnest tone.
Vandalieu blinked several times. “Of course, even I have a sense of shame. In fact, I don’t know why you’d think it’s surprising.”
He thought back, but had no idea… no, he had a feeling that there were quite a few past incidents that could have made Matthew think this.
“I’ve done completely dirty, underhanded things to survive such as using poison and microbes to kill enemies and lay traps for enemy armies. Is this how you arrived at that conclusion?!” Vandalieu muttered in shock.
“No! That’s not what I had in mind when I said I thought you were shameless!” said Matthew. “What I mean is, you were quite clingy even when you were out in the city with Darcia-san, Eleanora, Bellmond, Basdia nee-chan and Zadiris. Gufadgarn was always at your back, too.”
Darcia and the others quite often did things like patting Vandalieu’s head, lifting him into the air and embracing him. At first, Matthew hadn’t thought that there was anything strange about that, but he thought it was a little weird now that he knew that Vandalieu was older than him.
He thought that humans of that age would normally feel embarrassed and become bashful when treated like a child.
It was even more noticeable in Talosheim… Men would lift Vandalieu into the air as well. An enormous mass of flesh would swallow Vandalieu up as if it meant to squash him. There were even frequent events that would be more likely to cause fear than embarrassment, like bones that flew through the air snatching him away out of nowhere.
And although Matthew didn’t really understand this because he was an orphan, Vandalieu had given his female acquaintances transformation equipment that transformed into idol clothes, including his own mother, and cheered for them at the front of the audience, not even trying to hide the fact that his mother was one of the performers. This was another thing about Vandalieu that was perhaps abnormal.
But Vandalieu didn’t show any awareness of such abnormalities. Matthew had even been a little worried about his friend, thinking that perhaps Vandalieu didn’t have any emotions at all.
“Matthew… That’s because I’m a lonely, spoiled person who gains peace of mind from physical contact with others. To elaborate further, everyone in the nation is aware of this, but I am also a big mother-con,” he said.
“I-I see,” said Matthew.”
“It is not that I have no sense of shame. I’ve only just realized it, but the things that cause embarrassment for me are just a little different from most people. For example, the carving of an enormous statue of me is one of them.”
The thing that had recently caused the greatest embarrassment for Vandalieu was the project of creating an enormous statue of him. He had become used to there being life-sized statues of him, but he felt resistance to the construction of one that was a hundred meters tall.
“Well, that’s something I can’t understand. Or rather, nobody can. Even the Orbaume Kingdom’s king and the Amid Empire’s emperor haven’t built statues of themselves that big,” said Matthew. “But I do get that you have to do something about the country’s name soon. Not everyone knows about the problem yet, do they?”
“Yes, only the main people involved are aware of it,” said Vandalieu.
“Then you should suggest a name other than ‘Great Vandalieu Demon Empire.’ I mean, it’s you we’re talking about here, so if everyone says they want to name the country that, you’ll be left with no choice, just like with that giant statue,” Matthew pointed out. “Right?”
Vandalieu was taken aback. “N-now that you put it like that, you’re completely right.”
At first, the only one strongly pushing for the statue’s construction had been Nuaza, so Vandalieu had firmly refused. But with the entire nation’s people taking action, he had been forced to respect the people’s voices and give up on resisting it. Now, he was expressing his displeasure but was unable to do anything more than that.
There was no guarantee that the same thing would not occur with the nation’s renaming.
“Then let’s think of some possible names right away… Do you have any good suggestions?” asked Vandalieu.
“Don’t ask me that. It has nothing to do with me, does it?” said Matthew.
“Yes, it does. You’re going to live in this nation one day, so it does have something to do with you,” Vandalieu told him.
“Huh? We’re going to be allowed to live here?! I have to warn you, we’re still amateurs when it comes to taming, so we’re not gonna be earning anything! Or are you after Seris nee-chan and Vestra nee-chan’s bodies?!” Matthew said in an accusing tone.
“No, I’m not going to be expecting you to earn money right away. And I should also say that Seris, Vestra and your bodies are not the only thing I’m after. Give me your hearts, too.”
“Mine as well?!”
Hearing Matthew’s shouting, the other children gathered around to listen to the amusing conversation taking place, and one of them made a wolf whistling noise.
“Matthew nii-chan’s so popular.”
“Matthew nii-chan’s a bit incomplete*, but take good care of him, Vandalieu nii-chan.”
“Wait, isn’t ‘unstudied*’ the correct term?”
TLN: The children are trying to use a difficult, formal word here. I think they are trying to say ‘inexperienced’ or something like that, but they are using the wrong words.
“You guys too, give me your bodies and hearts, and become our citizens!” said Vandalieu, holding his hands out in front of him and pretending to chase them as if he were a monster.
Marsha squealed. “So, you were after my heart all this time!”
“Isn’t that a good thing, Marsha?” one of the other children said to her.
The children laughed as they ran away from Vandalieu.
“H-hey, are you sure about this?!” Matthew asked. “We’re definitely going to be a burden on you! We’re not strong at all yet!”
“I’m not expecting strength from children,” Vandalieu replied. “You can take your time and become strong as you grow into adults.”
Even the people of the Kijin nation, a nation that valued combat prowess, did not immediately expect the strength of an adult from children. It was enough to be as strong as an adult once one was an adult.
“Even once we’re adults, I can’t promise that we’ll be able to repay the favor!” said Matthew.
“I think that’s fine with me,” said Vandalieu. “I’ll leave the choice up to you, but it would make me happier if you would pursue your own happiness rather than try to repay the favor, Matthew.”
Vandalieu had no intention whatsoever to raise Matthew and the other children into spies that were loyal to the nation. He would turn their pets into monsters if they wanted him to, but he had done nothing more than provide good education, such as widening their possible future careers.
Vandalieu would be satisfied as long as his friends grew up to be healthy and sound.
“Van, stop interfering with everyone’s ‘interactive experience.’ Hmph,” said Pauvina, grabbing and lifting Vandalieu into the air like a kitten.
“I’m sorry, I was just having some fun,” Vandalieu apologized.
Matthew looked up at him for a while, then wiped his eyes with a sleeve. “A-alright! Then I’ll help think of a name for the country that you won’t feel embarrassed about! I’m one of this country’s citizens as well, after all!”
The other children got in on it as well.
“What? What are we doing?”
“I’ll help, too!”
“Everyone, Director Holly has prepared some tea, so –” said Seris, who had just come over.
“Seris nee-chan, Vestra nee-chan, everyone! Let’s all think together! Get Director Holly over here, too!” said Matthew.
“Think,” groaned Rapiéçage.
“Thin-thin-think,” Yamata sang.
“Then I’ll be resting in the corner over there,” Luvesfol said quietly.
One of the insects glared at him silently.
“Ngh, don’t look at me with those compound eyes!” Luvesfol said. “Fine, I shall lend my wisdom. Hmph, I suppose it would be amusing in a way for Lioen and Tiamat to become a part of a nation that was named with my input.”
And so, the discussion to think of the nation’s new name began. Later, Seris and the others would say that they hadn’t thought that they were really deciding the nation’s name; they had assumed that it was a joke.
“First, let’s take a part of Vida’s name. It’s a nation with Vida’s faction united in it, after all,” said Vandalieu.
“It’s good to take some characters from the goddess’s name, isn’t it?” said Seris.
“And I think everyone would want a part of Van’s name, too,” said Pauvina.
“Okay, so the ‘Nation of Viva!’” said one of the children.
“… That sounds like the name of a nation of thoughtlessly cheerful people,” said Luvesfol.
“How about taking some characters other than the first characters?” suggested Matthew. “Like ‘n,’ ‘da’ or ‘ru.’”
Before Vandalieu knew it, Eleanora, Isla, Bellmond and others were gathering around and joining in as well.
“And what about taking some characters from Ricklent and Zuruwarn’s names?” said Eleanora.
“They are great gods that are our allies, after all. How about adding Gufadgarn’s name as well?” suggested Isla.
“So, the ‘Nation of Virizugulieu?” said Bellmond.
“That sounds terrible,” said Isla.
“Alright! How about holding a tournament, and giving the right to name the country to the one who wins?! I’ll be satisfied with just fighting in the tournament, though!” said Godwin.
“Father?! Don’t say such silly things!” said Iris, telling him off.
“Then let’s just draw straws to decide. We can try the name out for a hundred years or so, and change it again if you don’t like it,” said Borkus.
“It’s quite difficult to decide, isn’t it. How about having a simpler name? I think we can use Ricklent and Zuruwarn’s names for Dungeons, cities and villages that will probably be built in the future,” said Kanako. “Royals and nobles apparently tend to name cities and bridges after their wives and mistresses.”
“I don’t know if you should be comparing those, but… I think it’d be easier to say the country’s name if it were simpler,” said Doug.
With the voicing of Kanako and Doug’s opinions, the more complicated and mysterious-sounding candidates were ruled out, and the brainstorm moved in the direction of a simpler name.
“How about names from our world, like ‘Guardheim’ or ‘Hellheim?’” suggested Legion.
But it was decided that a name from this world would be used.
In the end, one and a half characters were taken from Vida’s name, and two from Vandalieu’s. Through coincidence, this also contained one character from the name of the nation’s currency, the Luna.
TLN: Luna is ルナ/runa, which has the ル/ru in common with Vandalieu’s name ヴァンダルー/Vandaruu
“Well then, let us report to Chezare and Talos with the suggested name: ‘The Demon Empire of Vidal,’” said Vandalieu.
For some reason, the ‘Demon’ character remained in the nation’s name.