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Volume 11 – Alcrem Duchy Part 2
The Gehenna Bees, who were born after the Cemetery Bees’ queen bee underwent pseudo-reincarnation and became Quinn, did not differentiate between day and night. They worked every day, and each day was divided into three shifts. This was because their hobby was to work, and their goal in life was to become able to work more.
The Gehenna Bees made clicking noises as they talked to one another.
At first glance, they had the appearance of female knights wearing armor with bee motifs. But the objects extending from their foreheads were not hair, but antennae. What appeared to be their armor was an exoskeleton. Each of them also possessed a total of four arms extending from their shoulders, transparent wings on their backs and a tail-like bee stinger.
Their eyes were not those of mammals, but the compound eyes of insects. Although they were difficult to tell apart from Vida’s races that possessed bug-like features, like Empusa and Arachne, these Gehenna Bees were a race of monster.
Naturally, they were a race of monster that existed nowhere in this world other than in Talosheim, and their main place of residence was the nest that they had built attached to Talosheim’s castle. It was a bizarre structure that was over a hundred meters tall with the appearance of a number of stacked mudballs. The other races knew it as the Gehenna Bee castle.
However, its interior was surprisingly similar to something that humans would dwell in.
When the Gehenna Bees were still Cemetery Bees whose appearances were simply that of enormous bees, the nest had been an ordinary nest. However, even with extra arms, antennae and wings, Gehenna Bees were very close to humanoid, so trying to live in the same structure that they had lived in as enormous bees was inconvenient.
Thus, the Gehenna bees had rebuilt the nest through trial and error, gathered the various goods they needed in their everyday lives and endured the difficulties that were needed for them to become accustomed to their new bodies.
However, the Gehenna Bees were not sorrowful about this. They were truly happy that they had become closer in form to humans. The reason for this was that they loved their work.
Work progresses! one Gehenna Bee said excitedly.
Working with fingers is faster than when we only had jaws! said another.
It feels good to use tools! It is very easy!
The Gehenna Bees’ work productivity had improved drastically since they transformed from their original bee-like forms.
Creating building materials by mixing their saliva with wood chippings, knitting items with bee silk, hunting – All things ordered by Quinn were ‘work’ for the Gehenna Bees born from the eggs she laid.
Thus, resting was also work. Therefore, when they rested, they rested with all of their effort. They would not show any reserve in resting, no matter how profusely their senior brethren sweated as they worked. They were performing the work task known as ‘resting.’
Still, sweating as they worked was the ideal lifestyle for Gehenna Bees.
But still, I want to sweat hard and work! one of them said.
However, the only Gehenna Bees who could work for longer than eight hours a day were those whose Ranks had increased and Quinn’s attendants that nested within Vandalieu’s shadow.
These Gehenna Bees had not increased their Ranks, nor were they attendants of Quinn. In order to attain the long work hours that they dreamed of, they had no choice but to work hard, earn Experience Points, improve their Skills and increase their Ranks.
That was why the Gehenna Bees got fired up with conversations about what race they would become after their Ranks increased and what kind of work they would do.
The stars are the Gehenna Bee Workers, said one of the Gehenna Bees.
It’s hard to pass up being a Gehenna Bee Knight, though, said another.
Mages are good in their own way, piped up a third.
The ‘work’ of resting included communicating with their fellow workers, so they conversed with fervor.
The Gehenna Bees perceived every Gehenna Bee, except for the queen bee Quinn, to be equal workers. They just had different tasks – Soldiers had the task of fighting, Mages performed nonmanual labor, and Workers did things like nest-building and honey-harvesting.
Of course, the loss of Gehenna Bees that commanded and supervised others had a big impact, so it was necessary for non-commanding Gehenna Bees to be sacrificed to reduce the losses of the commanding ones. However, there was a problem with this task.
After all, each individual would always return as long as Quinn and that person were there.
Today’s day of enjoyable physical labor was about to begin.
It’s time, a Gehenna Bee thought as she set out.
Gehenna Bees had different preferences for tasks depending on their individual qualities. In order for them to discover which tasks they preferred, those who had not yet increased in Ranks after hatching from their cocoons performed a different task every day.
The task given to this one particular Gehenna Bee today was construction. However, the construction was not an expansion of the nest in which she and the others lived.
The main material she would be working with was stone, not wood and sand mixed with her saliva. And even after this object was built, nobody would live in it, nor would it provide any protection from enemies like a fortress’s walls would.
That was the strange nature of the object that was being built.
If she were to be honest, neither she nor any of the other Gehenna Bees knew why it was necessary to build this object. However, it was a task that had been ordered of them by the queen bee Quinn, and she knew that it was a task that many residents of Talosheim wanted them to carry out. She knew that there was value in building this object, even if she did not understand it.
With these thoughts running through her mind, the Gehenna Bee headed for the construction site with her fellow workers and began putting the stone parts together.
“Ah, the Gehenna Bees for the afternoon shift!” said an Undead Titan stonemason. “I’ll be asking you to put these stone parts together! As for where to take them –”
The Gehenna Bee obeyed the stonemason’s orders and worked in a group of four to lift a cube-shaped mass of stone, about two meters in length, width and height, and fly it off. They would be joining this block of stone to the enormous, halfway-built statue of Vandalieu.
The adhesive would be a mixture of Gehenna Bee saliva and sand rather than mortar.
In the sky above the Gehenna Bee were other groups of Gehenna Bees, flying around with blocks of stone. Gehenna Bees that could fly with their wings and also possessed the ‘Superhuman Strength’ Skill were valued as workers who could operate at high altitudes.
The Gehenna Bee carried some stone and attached it to the statue as she had been instructed.
She let out a quiet noise of wonderment.
She could clearly see just how huge this object was. And yet, this was only half the final height it would eventually reach – Wouldn’t this become the largest object in the city following Talosheim’s castle and the Gehenna Bee nest?
The materials and labor expended to create it were surely significant, although the Gehenna Bee could only imagine how great they were, as she was but a lowly worker.
But would this enormous statue be of such value that it warranted this cost?
It would serve no function. Perhaps it would if it were to be turned into a Golem, but as things were currently planned, it would simply be an enormous statue even once it was completed.
But it seemed that nobody from any of the other races, which were supposed to have far greater power of imagination than Gehenna Bees, thought of this to be a problem.
Races with physical strength would move the stone, and the stonemasons and sculptors would decorate it.
“Stone coming through!” said a Titan.
“Back, please,” a Leshi groaned.
“Bugobugoh!” an Orcus grunted.
Meanwhile, Black Goblins, Empusa and Arachne climbed the statue’s surface to carve the detailed features.
“It’s starting to look like King! The way its eyes are all hollow is just like him!” one of the Black Goblins said.
“I don’t think the face has been built yet…” said an Empusa.
“What exactly is he seeing?” an Arachne wondered.
There were also those who were maintaining order around the construction site and others monitoring the workers’ health.
“Safety is priority number one in construction! Helmets are strictly required to be worn! If you are injured, call the medic team right away! That goes even if you’re Undead!” an Undead supervisor shouted.
“Don’t go neglecting your water intake just because it’s winter! Make sure you keep yourself hydrated unless you want to turn into an Undead!” a safety officer told the nearby workers.
“Praise be, praise be,” a worker murmured as he carried out his tasks.
For some reason, there were people like him who worked only for a short period of time before going home. It seemed that they worked a few hours in order to show something called ‘religious devotion,’ which the Gehenna Bee didn’t understand.
Watching this scene, there was no doubt that many individuals of the races that made up this nation desired the completion of this statue.
But there were some that did not desire it. The ones standing wordlessly at the end of the road that led to the construction site… the Demon King Familiars, which were a part of Vandalieu, who was essentially the father of the Gehenna Bees.
‘Oppose the construction of the enormous statue! A small one will do, won’t it!’
‘Let’s put more thought into how we use our taxes!’
The Demon King Familiars were standing there wordlessly and silently, holding signs bearing messages like this. They were so quiet that one would forget they were there at all if they didn’t have appearances that were bizarre even from a Gehenna Bee’s perspective.
They… or rather, their main body Vandalieu, was the only person in Talosheim who opposed the enormous statue’s construction.
However, despite the protests, the Demon King Familiars were not interfering with the construction at all. They were not standing in the way of the people carrying the stone and other materials, nor were they making noise to try and distract the workers.
“Excuse me, could you please help me a little over here?!” one of the workers asked.
“I’ll be right there,” said one of the Demon King Familiars.
The Demon King Familiars didn’t hesitate to help with the construction when asked for help. Naturally, their work was done properly with no sabotage. They worked enthusiastically, sometimes even giving advice, and they would return to their protesting positions once they were finished.
From the perspective of the Gehenna Bees, it was a mysterious thing to do.
But many Gehenna Bees, despite finding it mysterious, didn’t doubt it. They simply thought that it was some complicated decision that they were unable to comprehend.
After all, they were a unit that had a role to carry out. They would carry that role out, but they had no interest in anything else, as everything else was the role of other units.
But for some reason, this particular Gehenna Bee made a clicking noise, curious as to why. She thought that there must be some important clue for understanding the meaning in building this enormous statue.
And so, she decided to talk to the Demon King Familiars, once her work was finished in eight hours’ time.
Eight hours later, with the night shift Gehenna Bees having taken over for her, the Gehenna Bee spoke to the Demon King Familiars at the end of the road and expressed her doubts.
“My behavior is strange, you say? Well, I do think it probably is strange,” one of the Demon King Familiars said as it waved its tentacles around, its own body glowing faintly to illuminate the letters on its sign.
Father, you oppose. But why don’t you command them to stop? the Gehenna Bee asked.
“Well, you see, the reason for my opposition is a tiny, insignificant thing,” the Demon King Familiar replied.
The Gehenna Bee was taken aback by this reply. The majority of the Gehenna Bees believed that the Demon King Familiars’ actions were due to deep thought processes and some kind of very complex decision.
“I see that I’ve surprised you. And it seems that I’ve betrayed your expectations. I’m sorry,” the Demon King Familiar said.
“The reason I’m opposed to building an enormous statue of me is because it’s embarrassing,” explained another. “I’ve gotten used to the life-sized statues and the palm-sized statues, but I do feel some hesitation in having a statue that’s probably going to be so large that you could see it from the mountain range.”
“I don’t have any strong desire for attention. But I suppose that’s all it comes down to,” said a third Demon King Familiar in conclusion.
As the Gehenna Bee continued to stand there in astonishment, the Demon King Familiars continued their explanation.
Almost all projects in Talosheim were public projects. The construction of residences, the publication of newspapers, the operation of public bathhouses and the Explorers’ Guild, the production and sales of weapons – Vandalieu was the one making all of these happen. The exceptions were restaurants, food carts and some clothing stores, but… it was Vandalieu’s projects that provided most of the food ingredients and cloth.
However, taxes were low. To begin with, Talosheim’s tax was not the poll tax, taken from each liable person, that many nations levied on their citizens. Talosheim’s system was an income tax system.
And most structures in the city were built using Vandalieu’s ‘Golem Creation’ Skill. That wasn’t the case for the citizens’ residences, but the defensive installations such as the city’s walls had all been created by Vandalieu.
On top of that, even though armies normally cost nations vast sums of money, Talosheim’s army required a relatively small sum considering its size. This was because the army would hunt monsters for training, and the materials gathered from the monsters would be used for their weapons and food.
Thus, Vandalieu’s claim that taxes should be spent in better ways was nothing more than an excuse.
The true reason for his opposition to the statue was his own embarrassment.
The Demon King Familiars turned their gaze towards the construction site, where work was continuing throughout the night.
“I think I should have cast that embarrassment aside the moment I became the ruler of a nation, though.”
“But one’s human nature isn’t so easily discarded. Even so, I can’t deny the will of so many citizens on the account of my personal feelings of embarrassment.”
“However, I still want to express my own will. That’s why I’m making this half-hearted effort. Well, perhaps the fact that I am refusing to use my ‘Golem Creation’ Skill in the first place can be considered to be hindering the construction.”
Just as many people were working now as there were in the afternoon. Nobody believed that they were being forced to build the statue. The people had gathered here and were building the statue of their own wills.
The Gehenna Bee looked at their faces and didn’t see a single trace of discontent towards the fact that Vandalieu wasn’t using his ‘Golem Creation’ Skill to make the task easier.
I see, so there was a meaning to it after all, the Gehenna Bee murmured, looking up at the starry night sky and the enormous, partially-constructed statue of Vandalieu.
Vandalieu did not desire this statue, and it served no practical function. But this enormous statue had a purpose – the very important purpose of defying Vandalieu’s will.
Vandalieu’s thoughts were not as deep as the Gehenna Bees had thought, nor was his decision so complex. But he was constantly watching over them. He was like the moon during the day, going unnoticed but still always there.
But for many people, this was not enough. They wanted an idol; they wanted something that reminded them of Vandalieu’s existence, something that they could gaze upon and pray to, no matter where they were.
“I am very happy that a Gehenna Bee like you, one that is capable of thinking, has come to me,” one of the Demon King Familiars said. “If possible, I’d like you to help me with my protests… Hmm?” it said, stopping mid-sentence.
That’s right, religious devotion isn’t a duty… it’s a right, just like work! the Gehenna Bee declared.
Feeling a refreshing sense of release, not unlike the sensation Gehenna Bees felt immediately after shedding their exoskeletons, she stretched out her back and her wings, and extended her hands towards the moon.
Her body glowed, and her Rank increased.
She was now a Gehenna Bee Priestess. She was the first of her kind, a Gehenna Bee that had the role of carrying out the work of expressing religious devotion. With her efforts, the construction proceeded even more smoothly.
“Talking to someone who is essentially my daughter has caused her Rank to increase and lead the construction,” one of the Demon King Familiars lamented.
“I don’t understand,” another sighed.
Incidentally, on the Demon Continent, Tiamat, Deeana, Zantark and the others had gathered a number of suitably-sized rocks, and were carving a statue like a DIY project.
Monster explanation (Written by Luciliano):
At first glance, these appear to be women wearing armor with bee motifs. Their size is roughly similar to that of human women, with their height being approximately 170 centimeters. They have four arms, a tail (?) in the shape of a bee’s abdomen on the back of their waists, and bee wings on their backs.
They are highly intelligent and understand human language, but are unable to speak. The main methods of communication amongst themselves are making clicking noises with their jaws, touching their antennae together and performing bee-like dances.
… Incidentally, Master is able to communicate with them using these methods without any problems.
The appearance of Gehenna Bees is similar to that of humans, but their thoughts and sense of values are similar to when they were still Cemetery Bees. They believe that work is supreme above all, and view even rest and consuming food as work. They also do not have a strong sense of individuality, and instead view the entire swarm as a single organism.
They are born from eggs laid by the queen bee Quinn, go through a period of growth as larvae and then become Rank 6 adults.
Higher races are Rank 7. There are Soldiers that are larger than ordinary Gehenna Bees, Mages that are no different in experience but are capable of casting magic and are left to do non-manual labor, and Workers that are in charge of everyday activities such as nest-building.
There are even higher races such as Knights that guard the queen bee Quinn, Riders that mount other monsters or other Gehenna Bees, and Worker Chiefs that work as foremen. It seems that their labor has diversified since they were Cemetery Bees.
The fact that they have become humanoid in form has improved their strength in battle even more significantly than their higher Ranks, as they are now able to acquire combat-related Skills and use martial skills.
Even more importantly, Gehenna Bees are a race with a very short history. They are certain to change and evolve in response to a variety of different factors.
One could say that the birth of a new Gehenna Bee race, the Gehenna Bee Priestess who is in charge of religious activities and festivals, is one example of this evolution.
- Name: Gikiririjigiri (Impossible to pronounce with human vocal cords)
- Rank: 7
- Race: Gehenna Bee Priestess
- Level: 0
- Passive skills:
- Dark Vision
- Superhuman Strength: Level 5
- Rapid Regeneration: Level 2
- Venom Secretion: Stinger: Level 5
- Special Saliva Secretion: Level 5
- Self-Strengthening: Work: Level 5
- Strengthened Body: Exoskeleton: Level 4
- Fatigue Resistance: Level 3
- Strengthened Attribute Values: Creator: Level 3
- Strengthened Attribute Values: Religious Devotion: Level 1
- Active skills:
- High-speed Flight: Level 2
- Surpass Limits: Level 5
- Coordination: Level 5
- Unarmed Fighting Technique: Level 3
- Spear Technique: Level 3
- Armor Technique: Level 3
- Stonemasonry: Level 2
- Housework: Level 1
- Unique skills:
- ヴァ■■■■’s Divine Protection [Va]