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The news of the incident in the capital of the Alcrem Duchy, where the evil god Forzajibal was resurrected, spread quickly to every duchy in the Orbaume Kingdom, as well as to its enemy nation, the Amid Empire.
The shock of the resurrection and subsequent defeat of an evil god was so great that it even overshadowed the ‘Face-tearing Demon’ incidents that had been occurring in the Alcrem Duchy. It was so great that even though there were some that doubted whether an evil god really had been resurrected, people were unable to even question that there might be a hidden truth behind the incident.
Thus, none knew of the truth but Duke Alcrem and his close retainers, and most people believed the fabricated show that Vandalieu and the others had created.
That was true even for the Marquis Urgen Tercatanis, who served as the prime minister of the Orbaume Kingdom and was considered to be a sharp individual, and Marquis Fatherick Dolmad, the marshal.
In the royal castle in the capital of the Orbaume Kingdom’s royal realm, the leaders of the kingdom, including Tercatanis and Dolmad, were having an unofficial meeting, although it was in the absence of Duke Corbitt, the current king.
Urgen Tercatanis, a moody-looking old man, was reading and comparing the report of the incident that had been sent by the Alcrem House and the report provided by spies that he had sent in secret.
“An evil god that was over a hundred meters tall, and a god’s incarnation that was even larger than that… It is incredible that Alcrem survived,” he murmured. “The city of Alcrem is surrounded by walls to protect it from rampaging monsters, but they would be like paper before an evil god. And their army cannot be described as powerful, with the exception of the Five Knights of Alcrem and the other knights under their direct command. And yet, they defeated an evil god with no casualties suffered by the people… How magnificent.”
“No, no. It is true that there was no damage or casualties inside the city, but there was significant damage outside the city,” pointed out a plump, late-middle-aged man with a mustache that resembled the whiskers of a catfish.
This man was Fatherick Dolmad.
“The temple of Borgadon in the ‘Sacred Wastelands’ was destroyed, and everyone in the temple died. The ruins of the temple were swallowed up by an enormous hole in the earth, and the bodies of the deceased couldn’t be recovered, apparently,” Dolmad continued. “And the ‘Knight of Collapsed Mountains’ Goldie was killed as well. His successor, his son, was also killed, so who knows when the empty position in the Five Knights will be filled.”
Dolmad didn’t look like a military man, but despite his friendly-looking face, he was calmly calculating the losses suffered by the Alcrem house.
Although he calculated the losses this way… in truth, the temple of Borgadon in the ‘Sacred Wasteland’ had been a temple of Zerzoregin in disguise, and the people there, Goldie, and Goldie’s son had all been Mimic Humans that disguised themselves as humans. Thus, the duke had been able to exterminate these traitors, and the ‘losses’ were actually gains.
On top of that, the dignity of the duke’s house would have certainly plummeted into the ground if the incident with the Mimic Humans had become publicly known. The other nobles serving it would lose their trust in Duke Alcrem’s rule, and it was possible that another duke would use that to instigate a coup d’état.
The duke had managed to prevent that and dealt with that risk by creating the story that Goldie had died an honorable death in battle, so this incident could be considered one of the greatest gains in the history of the Alcrem house.
“I’m sure those matters will resolve themselves. Alcrem was a duchy with thriving commerce to begin with. If they open their treasury and use the large piles of coin that are sitting in there, they should be able to rebuild the temple. As for the empty position left by the ‘Knight of Collapsed Mountains,’ it can be filled easily by hiring some A-class adventurer or a mercenary with equivalent skill,” said Prime Minister Tercatanis.
A slim, middle-aged nobleman who served as finance minister nodded in agreement. “It would be fortunate if that were the case, as we would not need to send any aid. Of course, we will still need to provide some funds and adjust our taxes accordingly for a while. After all, it would be problematic if they were to build a cheap temple and the evil god were to be resurrected again.”
“Indeed. Given that the evil god would likely not have stopped at destroying Alcrem, we should consider it a threat to the whole of the Orbaume Kingdom,” agreed another noble.
“In that case, the next thing we will need to worry about is providing a reward sum,” said a third. “However… that is troublesome.”
The elite nobles at the meeting, all of whom had a court rank of marquis or greater, looked down at the written report that had been sent by Duke Alcrem’s house.
The rewards given to those who had performed distinguished services would be decided at the discretion of the duke’s house. It was customary for other dukes and important nobles to not raise any objections to promotions, salary raises, land, and decorations being given to knights and soldiers, so long as such rewards were not extremely excessive.
Thus, approval for such rewards was usually sought after the rewards had already been given, and prior notice of such rewards was almost unheard of.
And yet, in the duke’s report, there was such a notice: “The title and honorary court rank of countess shall be granted to the Dark Elf Darcia, who accomplished the great deed of defeating and re-sealing the evil god.”
TLN: The court rank of countess is equivalent to the court rank of earl, it’s just that there is no feminine form of earl and countess is used instead for women.
“As there is a rule that we must approve the bestowing of a court rank and the honorary court rank of countess, it is possible to reject his request, but… still, bestowing the honorary title of countess is a bold move,” one of the nobles murmured.
An honorary court rank was a title bestowed upon a non-noble commoner who accomplished a meritorious deed. This title could not be inherited by future generations, and once the one who held it died, the title would be returned to the kingdom.
However, an honorary noble would have the same authority as a nobleman with the same court rank, and would receive an annual sum in payment. There were also numerous historical examples of honorary nobles who went on to achieve even more great things and were rewarded with a true court rank.
That was precisely why having a Dark Elf woman as an honorary countess would be troublesome.
“Dark Elves live for a thousand years… Even when our grandchildren retire, she will still be holding her title.”
“And even though we cannot object to the duke bestowing her the honorary court rank of countess, once she has that title, she will be able to make as many objections to our actions as she pleases. How bothersome.”
“Yes, as she would be no different from the other earls who serve Duke Alcrem. Her influence will be limited, but we will not be able to bluntly refuse to listen to her objections.”
If Darcia became an honorary countess, Prime Minister Tercatanis and every other person in this meeting would also need to treat her as a noble.
It wasn’t such a high title that they would need to obey her unconditionally, but they would need to answer any officially-worded questions from her, and if she were to create a formal appointment, they would need to meet with her.
They would become unable to brush her off with force just because she was a commoner.
“Gentlemen, that is not where the problem lies. The problem is that she is a member of one of the races created by Vida, and she is a holy woman who is able to summon Vida’s familiar spirits,” said Prime Minister Tercatanis.
The issue he saw was that Darcia would become a symbol for Vida’s worshippers and members of the races that Vida had created.
Many of the nobles in this meeting were conservatives who wished for the Orbaume Kingdom to stay as it was now without any large changes. They would not welcome a development like the rise of Vida’s races.
But the foreign affairs minister questioned this view. “But Duke Alcrem has always been strongly influenced by Alda’s peaceful faction, even if it is not to the same degree as the Farzon Duchy. Is he not simply bestowing the title of honorary countess to the Dark Elf to please the peaceful faction?”
The other nobles nodded, agreeing that this may be the case.
The influence of Alda’s peaceful faction had rapidly gained strength in recent years due to the actions of the party of the ‘Blue-flamed Sword’ Heinz, and this was another change that Prime Minister Tercatanis did not welcome.
This was not because the people gathered in this room opposed the peaceful faction’s views of good and evil or their religious beliefs, but because they were human, and because they were nobles… and they enjoyed all of the privileges that came with that.
Still, Alda’s peaceful faction becoming more mainstream was a change that they were willing to tolerate. After all, the peaceful faction’s ideology was to maintain the current system while gradually improving the treatment of Vida’s races.
“According to the information from the spies, this Dark Elf named Darcia and her Dhampir son advocate for Vida fundamentalism, not the peaceful faction,” said Prime Minister Tercatanis.
These words were enough for the other nobles in the room to imagine a situation that they were not willing to tolerate.
“F-fundamentalism?! I have never heard of that. Just what ideologies does that encompass?!” another noble exclaimed in alarm, as the others began to murmur amongst one another.
“I have not heard of it either, but I think I can guess what it is,” said a comparatively calm Marshal Dolmad as he stroked his mustache. “It is likely a principle of wanting to treat Vida’s races as humans. Naturally, this would include Dark Elves, Beast-kin, Titans, Drakonids, and Dhampirs, but also races such as Centaurs, Harpies, Arachne, and Scylla… and Vampires. I believe they would free Vida’s races from the territories where they are contained, and demand that we give court ranks to their chiefs and freedom to the members of these races to conduct business and go wherever they wish.”
The nobles fell silent in response to Marshal Dolmad’s shocking words. Vida’s races possessed longer lifespans than humans; there were also Vampires, who were blessed with great physical abilities, prowess in magic, and immortality. If such races were to become nobles and influence politics, there was no doubt that they would form a large force that would take over the Orbaume Kingdom from within and attempt to turn it into a nation centered around Vida’s races.
The result would be a nation of Vida’s races that was even more authoritarian than the nation founded by the legendary ‘Mercenary King’ Veld.
“If possible, I would like to stop Duke Alcrem, but there is no pretext for us to interfere with his choice. And the duke must reward the deeds of the hero who defeated the evil god. It seems that the Dark Elf in question has already saved a city before this incident, too,” Marshal Dolmad continued.
Duke Takkard Alcrem’s intentions were unclear, but he presumably didn’t have the option of refusing to reward Darcia, whose achievements were of a scale that could not be ignored.
“With the loss of Goldie, the people will want a new hero as well… It would be best if the duke appointed her as one of the Five Knights of Alcrem. Then, her influence would be limited to the Alcrem Duchy,” Marshal Dolmad said, but shook his head a moment later, as if thinking better of this.
It seemed that the finance minister, who was still reading the reports, agreed with the sentiment that this would be a bad idea. “In addition to that Dark Elf and the knights, great deeds were performed by… an Arachne, a Scylla, a Ghoul… and a demi-human monster called an Empusa, who were staying in the capital as the Dhampir’s familiars. Awards and honorary court ranks cannot be bestowed to familiars. And there also seems to have been a Guild Master of the Tamers’ Guild and an E-class adventurer party led by a man named Arthur, but their actions were not great enough for them to become heroes.”
If possible, it would have been a favorable option to balance out the honorary court rank Darcia received by presenting an award to someone from Alda’s peaceful faction in the name of the king and make that person a hero, but the finance minister sighed as he realized that this wouldn’t be possible.
“Good grief. Where in the world were those young, promising individuals that have grown in number in recent years? Those… potential heroes. There should have been at least ten of them in Alcrem.”
“No, more importantly, where was Randolf ‘the True’ and what was he doing? The resurrection of an evil god is precisely the kind of incident that an S-class adventurer should be taking care of, isn’t it?”
Having realized that they would be unable to avoid the emergence of a new troublesome person in the Alcrem Duchy, the nobles began venting their anger on Randolf.
Indeed, the praise that had been given to the ones known as potential heroes was now being directed at Darcia and the others. The potential heroes had simply happened to leave Alcrem before the evil god’s resurrection; it wasn’t that they had escaped from the city because they were scared of the evil god. But it was only natural that the people would praise and respect the people who had defeated the evil god rather than the heroes who had been absent.
“If those so-called potential heroes have received the divine protections of the gods, then one would think they would have noticed some omens of the evil god’s resurrection and gathered in Alcrem,” one of the nobles said bitterly, but he was unaware that the potential heroes had left Alcrem because they had been obeying Divine Messages from the gods.
“Gentlemen, there is no use in lamenting over things that have already occurred. Let us at least be thankful that it is not her son who is receiving the honorary court rank,” said Prime Minister Tercatanis, trying to bring a conclusion to this topic.
Indeed, the current situation was better than a Dhampir, a race with a longer lifespan than Dark Elves and whose presence would agitate Alda fundamentalists even more, becoming an honorary noble.
But many of the nobles laughed rather than agree with him.
“Prime Minister Tercatanis, that would never happen. Considering the fact that he has tamed many monsters of new races, never mind the Arachne and Scylla, and the fact that he has invented Magic Items known as transformation equipment, he is likely as talented and gifted as his mother. But he is still underage.”
“I think that is suspicious as well. Even if he is a Dhampir, the boy is simply too young. I cannot believe that he has accomplished the things that the rumors say he has on his own.”
“I see. Which means that there is someone behind him… a tamer or alchemist who is a Dark Elf or a member of another of Vida’s races, disguising their own achievements as the boy’s.”
“If the Dhampir is an exceptional alchemist, then he should also be an exceptional mage. I always thought it strange that he has achieved nothing as a mage, but it all makes sense now.”
“It seems that his individual strength in battle is considerable, however. He apparently killed a group of thugs who seemed to be members of Alda’s extremist faction when they attacked him outside the city of Morksi. Of course, I’m sure the way he fought during that battle was exaggerated, so this isn’t very reliable evidence.”
The nobles doubted the achievements and abilities of the Dhampir boy, Vandalieu. They had not seen Vandalieu and his companions with their own eyes, so they were reliant on information they received through reports. Thus, it seemed that they were settling on answers that fit their ‘common sense,’ the knowledge that they had learned over the course of their lives.
Indeed, there were no reports saying that Vandalieu had participated in the battle against the evil god, but…
“No, I think the prime minister makes a fair point. If the Dhampir boy were to acquire an honorary court rank, it is possible that he would have become a puppet of not only his mother, but influential members of Vida’s races, and joined forces with Alda’s peaceful faction. Then, the movement to improve the societal standing of Vida’s races may have gained even more momentum,” said the finance minister in jest.
Prime Minister Tercatanis showed no sign of displeasure. “It is fortunate that my unamusing joke has broken the tension.”
The nobles chuckled quietly.
Marshal Dolmad laughed with them, but he was thinking about the intention behind what Prime Minister Tercatanis had said.
I suppose the prime minister’s words were to test just how much those present here know about the Dhampir boy… Vandalieu.
Due to his post, Marshal Dolmad had powerful connections to all of the armies serving the dukes’ houses. Through these connections, he was able to gather information about as well as the average intelligence organization.
He had used this to investigate the evil god’s resurrection, but he had noticed that something was strange. The incarnation of Borgadon had supposedly appeared in order to re-seal the evil god. But before its appearance, the evil god had apparently been fighting someone else.
At first, he had thought that Randolf ‘the True’ had rushed to the scene before the appearance of the incarnation of Borgadon, but there were too many things wrong with this theory.
If he had rushed to the scene, he would have spoken to Duke Alcrem to prevent unnecessary investigations and examinations of the scene afterwards. And yet, his name was nowhere to be found in the report sent by the duke, which meant that the one who had fought the evil god was not Randolf.
Marshal Dolmad had investigated to try and learn the identity of that person, and his eyes had come to a rest on Vandalieu’s name.
Marshal Dolmad had once heard information regarding Vandalieu in the past, but at the time, he had dismissed it as disinformation that was fabricated by the Amid Empire… but perhaps he had been too quick to do so.
If that information was in fact true, and the Vandalieu who had appeared in the Amid Empire and the Vandalieu who had appeared in the Alcrem Duchy were the same person, then he had been seen in a certain city in the Hartner Duchy about four… no, five years ago? Why had he appeared in the Alcrem Duchy now, after all that time?
It seems that the prime minister has more detailed information about the Dhampir named Vandalieu. I shall try to find out more about him as well, Marshal Dolmad decided. After all, it’s too dangerous to stay unaware as to whether he will be an unexpected trump card for us or an enemy that must be exterminated at once.
Meanwhile, Rudel Sauron, who had become the current duke of the Sauron Duchy, was reading through the report that he had received.
“Cancel our plans!” he shouted immediately. “Cancel our plans to invite the Dark Elf Darcia and her son from the Alcrem Duchy!”
“U-understood! I will send word to the head of the Church of Vida right away!” said the pale-faced housekeeper who served the duke’s house.
“Tell all of the leaders of the knights’ orders in the capital and all of the head mages of the court that we will be having an important meeting!” Rudel continued. “And send messengers to the houses of Duke Alcrem and Duke Hartner –”
“One moment,” said the person who had delivered the report, the head of Rudel’s intelligence network, interrupting him. “Perhaps sending a messenger to the Hartner house can wait until after the meeting.”
“That is… I suppose you are right,” said Rudel, seeming to calm down. “Tell the leaders of the knights’ orders and the head mages of the court that we will be having an important meaning. I am counting on you,” he said, repeating his orders to the housekeeper in a quieter tone, then let out a heavy sigh.
Once the housekeeper had left the room, Rudel put his head in his hands.
“… The Dark Elf clergywoman who can summon a familiar spirit of Vida… To think that her son would be connected to the chief of the Scylla of the Scylla territory,” he whispered hoarsely.
“Yes, I was also surprised to see this familiar name in a place that I didn’t expect to see it,” said the intelligence head.
The report was a combination of the information spies had gathered in Alcrem with the intelligence head’s own notes.
That report had included the name and sketch of the face of the Scylla girl who was with Vandalieu. It was the name and face of Privel, one of the daughters of the most influential chief of the Scylla territory, Periveil.
“I considered the possibility that it was an accidental resemblance, but… I believe it is too much to be called a coincidence,” the intelligence head said.
“Indeed. But if this report is correct, we might still be standing on the tiger’s tail,” said Rudel.
If Vandalieu had connections to Privel’s mother Periveil, then his mother Darcia was surely connected to the Scylla as well.
And that would mean connections to the resistance who still occupied the former Scylla territory. Rudel had refused to acknowledge their achievements; in fact, he had decided that they were connected to the Amid Empire and told the public that they had died, along with the ‘Princess of Liberation’ who was their leader, in order to bury the truth.
On top of that, he had sent mercenaries and adventurers into the former Scylla territory in an attempt to take control of it on multiple occasions. Of course, all of these attempts had failed, so he was currently investigating and observing the area while gathering forces and forming a plan to take the land back.
The truth was that Rudel had been hoping that Darcia would fight alongside his men and assist them with this task.
“I was on the verge of asking the tiger to help me take its own territory… But does Vida tolerate armies of Undead? It is true that there is a precedent in the ‘Fallen Champion,’ but his circumstances are different from ours,” Rudel muttered.
“I can’t say anything on that matter. Not a single one of the spies we sent deep into the former Scylla territory has returned, after all,” said the intelligence head. “However, the Church of Alda tells us that among the gods who look up to Vida as their leader, there are also evil gods who were persuaded by Zakkart to join them.”
“I see… After the meeting, I shall make a request to Duke Hartner’s house and ask them to share any information they have regarding Vandalieu… and I will need to probe and find out how much Duke Alcrem’s house knows, and what their intentions are,” said Rudel.
Duke Alcrem intended to grant Darcia the title of honorary countess. How much did he know about Vandalieu and the Scylla… about Vida’s races?
In the worst-case scenario, Duke Alcrem knew everything and yet still chose to join the side of Vida’s races.
That would mean that the Sauron Duchy would be attacked on two fronts – from the former Scylla territory to the southeast and the Alcrem Duchy to the east. There were rocky mountains to the north, an enemy nation to the west, and the only hope was the Hartner Duchy to the south, but Rudel didn’t know how much he could expect from Duke Hartner.
“I also need to contact Marshal Dolmad… No, it’s because I listened to that catfish-mustached fool that I am in this difficult situation! Is it dangerous to carelessly pass on information to him? But if I can’t rely on the Hartner Duchy… Damn it all. The current king, Duke Corbitt, is of no use either! What am I supposed to do?!” Rudel shouted.
The intelligence head decided to wait in silence until he calmed down.
I’m Katie Hartner. A girl who is about to turn five years old. In the future, I’m going to become an excellent tool to be used in a marriage for political reasons.
“The fact that you are hearing this message means that your personality and memories from your previous life have returned.”
Father is the current duke of the Hartner Duchy, Lucas Hartner. Mother is his lawful wife, and I am his eldest daughter, so in the future, my husband will probably be a successor of one of the other dukes’ houses, or at the very least, a noble with a court rank of marquis or higher.
“This message will be played automatically when you regain your personality and memories from your previous life.”
I’m only four years old, but I’m learning how to read and write, and basic etiquette. But it seems that I preferred to play and pretend that I’m a knight or an adventurer. And today, I’m going to… Yeah, yeah, I give up.
“I just need to be quiet and listen, right?” Katie Hartner, known in her previous life as the ‘Urðr’ Kei Mackenzie, said out loud in an annoyed tone.
She rested her chin on her hands as she listened to the message from Rodcorte that was playing inside her head.
The message informed her of things such as the fact that he had adjusted her Status, that she could gain five Levels in Active Skills of her choice, and that the Hartner Duchy had a history with Vandalieu, so she should make preparations for an attack from him.
“Finally, if you pray to me intently, it may be possible for you to send a message to me. It is possible for us to exchange information and messages for one another if you use the ‘Familiar Spirit Descent’ Skill. Once you have finished listening to this message, I would like you to try one of these two methods. ‘Familiar Spirit Descent’ is a Skill that draws attention, so I recommend the former,” the message said in conclusion.
Once she could no longer hear Rodcorte’s voice, Katie did neither of those things, and stared at the ceiling of her room as she considered her situation.
“… What a pain in the ass. I’ve had enough of being a hero of justice in my previous life… and what this guy is trying to make me do isn’t justice anyway,” she muttered dully.
With her ‘Urðr’ ability, which allowed her to see the past, she created an image of herself from five minutes prior.
The image was one of a beautiful little girl who looked like a doll. She was the daughter of a duke… what might be called a princess in this country, and her appearance was fitting for that title.
It was possible that she would have gotten far in a child beauty pageant on Earth.
“He gave me a new life as what’s essentially a princess of a small country, and in the first place, everything would have been over for me after I died in that terrorist attack on Earth. So it’s not like I don’t feel any gratitude at all. But I don’t want to fight Vandalieu to the death for the sake of avenging the ‘Gungnir’ Kaidou Kanata,” she said to herself.
Katie had been informed by Rodcorte of the events leading up to the destruction of Kaidou Kanata’s soul at Vandalieu’s hands.
That was precisely why she felt no desire whatsoever to avenge Kanata.
The relationship between Vandalieu and her family was what bothered her more.
“Still, Vandalieu, huh… His history with this family is just the fact that my ancestors betrayed the princess of Talosheim and those that were with her, right? I just hope Father hasn’t done anything else…” Katie murmured.
She had learned of the Hartner house’s betrayal of Talosheim when Rodcorte explained the circumstances surrounding the destruction of Kanata’s soul.
If that was all, it was possible that the relationship could be mended if Lucas, the current head of the house, acknowledged his ancestors’ mistakes and apologized, restoring the honor of Princess Levia and the others who were betrayed. Lucas might be forced to step down as duke as a result, but even so, that was preferable to being killed like Kanata.
The fact that Katie had regained her personality and memories of her previous life didn’t mean that she had lost the memories of the time that had passed since she was born in this world. She thought of Lucas as her father, and felt love for him.
“Even if I ask Father, he won’t explain things to his daughter who isn’t even five years old. And he’s weirdly on edge these days, too. If I want to investigate with ‘Urðr,’ I’d need to visit the place where it happened. Depending on how I frame it, he might be accommodating, but… maybe I’ll be able to find out if I go to Father’s office,” Katie said to herself. “Come to think of it, I wonder what everyone else is doing? Tanaka and Samejima should have been reincarnated at the same time as me, but… I’d have to pray to Rodcorte and ask him,” she sighed.
She wanted to return to the days when she only needed to think of her studies and snacks, caused trouble for her grandpa, and dreamed of becoming an admirable soldier like her father instead of a wife like her mother.
But even Katie, whose ability was named after the goddess Urðr who ruled over the past, was unable to rewind time.