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In his Divine Realm, Alda, the God of Law and Fate, watched Heinz face the trials of his Dungeon once more with a complex mixture of emotions.
“… No matter the era, men do not do as the gods want them to,” he sighed.
“Please forgive me,” Mill, the Goddess of Slumber, apologized. “I did my best to persuade him, but he did not listen. I gave him all of the information that we possess on Vandalieu as you instructed, but… it seems that he perceives it differently from us.”
Alda had ordered Mill to disclose everything the gods knew about Vandalieu to Heinz in order to put an end to his wavering.
Of course, Alda and the gods who served him did not know everything about Vandalieu. However, Mill had told Heinz that Vandalieu was a reincarnated individual from another world with the soul fragments of four champions, including the ‘Fallen Champion’ Zakkart, and that he had been brought to this world as a result of Rodcorte’s unnecessary meddling.
Vandalieu had turned High Priest Gordan and Heinz’s former companion Riley into Undead in the battle against the Mirg shield-nation’s expedition army, took away land and resources from innocent people living in the land they were cultivating, and attacked their city.
In the Hartner Duchy, he had destroyed a mountain with a slave mine, stolen its slaves, and incited the people of a cultivation village to wipe out the Red Wolves Knights’ Order. In the Sauron Duchy, he had killed Raymond Paris despite the fact that he had been another worshipper of Vida, used his corpse, then destroyed the Pure-breed Vampire Gubamon and stolen his fragment of the Demon King.
Mill had told Heinz all of this information… All of it was from the view of Alda’s forces, but all of it was true.
Mill had believed that this would make Heinz realize that Vandalieu had to be eliminated before he became the next Guduranis, clear up his doubts, and make him find new resolve.
But the result had been the opposite; Heinz now thought more highly of Vandalieu than before.
If Heinz had been a pious believer like High Priest Gordan, he would have become outraged by Vandalieu’s evil and decided that he needed to be eliminated as soon as possible.
But Heinz had said, “He has saved not only members of Vida’s races, but so many people who aren’t, too.” He had compared his own deeds to Vandalieu and realized that he fell short.
Mill had tried to tell him that this wasn’t true, but Heinz’s thoughts on the matter did not change even after his treatment was complete.
“It matters not. We give our teachings to the people, but it is up to each individual person as to whether they will accept our teachings,” said Alda. “And as Heinz said, Vandalieu’s deeds did indeed save people.”
“That may be true, but… does that mean you are willing to accept Vandalieu’s existence?” asked Mill.
“I did not say that. My will has not changed, but there is no need for Heinz to possess the same intentions that I do. That is all.”
Long ago, Alda and the other gods had created the mortals as people that they were supposed to teach and guide. They had not created them as servants and a source of energy that simply offered their worship.
That was why humans had been given free will and the ability to think. That was why, on occasion, humans were corrupted and made mistakes. But that was nothing more than the negative aspect of the possibilities that humans offered.
“But if Heinz does not change his current way of thinking…” said Mill.
“I am aware,” said Alda.
Heinz considered the future of Vandalieu’s nation to be dangerous. The nation was united through Vandalieu’s guidance and he was its core; what would happen if he were to disappear?
Even in other nations, dangerous situations occurred when their leaders died abruptly. Even if they had already named their successors, nations could split and civil wars could take place. There were plenty of incidents in history where the nations had collapsed entirely and been absorbed by other nations.
But Vandalieu’s nation, the Demon Empire of Vidal, had dangerous elements that human nations did not have. First, there were the fanatical followers of Vandalieu that believed that he was a supreme being.
In some ordinary nations, there were leaders with followers who possessed a zealous loyalty towards them… and one could describe this as devotion and worship. But there was an abnormally large number of such followers in the Demon Empire of Vidal. Their numbers were even far greater than what Alda and Rodcorte could imagine.
But what Heinz saw as an even bigger danger than his fanatical followers was the powerful monsters that served the Demon Empire, especially the Undead.
A single one of these monsters was difficult even for A-class adventurers to defeat, and if these monsters were to rampage out of control, they were capable of destroying mountains, splitting the seas, covering the skies, and ravaging the lands. Without Vandalieu, these monsters would be let loose.
If these monsters retained their ability to reason even after Vandalieu’s death, then that would be fine. The highly intelligent races would likely do so. But expecting this of the Undead… That was impossible.
After all, among ordinary Undead, there were far more who had lost their sanity than those who had managed to retain it. They were possessed by their lingering attachment to this world, by the fear and despair that had filled them at the moment of their deaths, their hatred, and their grudges. If not, then they simply hated all living things and their minds were filled with nothing but the desire to attack them.
The Undead had been freed from such a state by Vandalieu’s guidance, and it would be fine if they were to destroy themselves to follow Vandalieu into their next lives after his death. But if they were to be driven insane from the sadness and despair of losing their master, or if they were to return to being wild Undead after the loss of his guidance, then the threat they posed was unimaginable.
When Vandalieu left this world in several thousand years’ time, the ‘Sword King’ Borkus, Knochen, the ‘Eclipse Emperor’s Hound’ Isla, the Ghosts of various attributes, and all of his other Undead companions would be far more powerful than they were now. If they were to lose their sanity and go on a rampage, spreading destruction and death in their path, countless villages and cities… and even fortresses defended by powerful armies, would be turned into mountains of rubble in the blink of an eye.
Would the humans of that future have the strength to withstand such power? Would they have a matching number of people with the strength of S-class adventurers? In the worst-case scenario, all intelligent life on the Bahn Gaia Continent would be wiped out, turning it into a second Demon King’s Continent.
If Vandalieu was to be stopped, he had to be stopped now. The gods of Alda’s forces were gathering fighting forces in order to eliminate him; if they did not do it now, they would not be able to prevent the destruction that would possibly come in the distant future.
That was why Heinz intended to ask Vandalieu whether he had made any preparations for the future where he no longer existed, and if he had, what they were. If Vandalieu did not answer, or if his answer was unsatisfactory, Heinz was prepared to stop him, even if it meant that he had to defeat him.
However, that also meant that if Vandalieu gave an answer that Heinz was satisfied with, Heinz would not defeat Vandalieu.
What did Heinz intend to do in such a scenario? He had already acknowledged that Vandalieu was a more worthy person than himself to save Vida’s races and had already saved more members of Vida’s races. And he had also acknowledged that to Vandalieu, he was the one who had killed his mother.
Considering this, it was possible that he would try to allow himself to be killed by Vandalieu.
“If the awakened Bellwood can speak to Heinz and change his mind… No, we cannot expect too much,” said Mill.
Bellwood had also lost the effects of his guidance. Of course, he had his charisma as a god, but would he be able to change the mind of the current Heinz?
Alda had been staring downwards, deep in thought, but he looked up and shook his head. “Worrying about all of the uncertainties will not make the situation any better. Bellwood, my champion, should be able to guide Heinz onto the right path.”
Hearing Alda speak with such trust in Bellwood, Mill felt some curiosity.
“Forgive my impudence, Alda, but is Bellwood such an inspiring being?” she asked. “It is not that I do not believe in the Heroic God, but I have never spoken with him directly… and most of what I have heard about him are anecdotes that testify to his strength.”
By the time Mill had become the Goddess of Slumber, Bellwood had already been sealed away after he and the Evil God of Sinful Chains struck each other down.
Bellwood possessed more strength than even Farmaun Gold and Nineroad, the other two combat-related champions. Why had defeating the Evil God of Sinful Chains, a single evil god, come at the cost of losing Bellwood? This question was a common topic of conversation even among the gods.
Either Bellwood had been careless, or the Evil God of Sinful Chains had laid an exceedingly cunning trap… But in any case, his qualities as a Heroic God – his ability to guide people in battle with heroic speeches – were the ones that people paid attention to; he did not have much of a reputation for being a god who could guide troubled followers.
“I see. By the time you became a goddess, Bellwood was already in his slumber… Bellwood’s words had the power to appeal to people’s hearts and give them strength,” said Alda. “He encouraged the people to fight against the Demon King’s army once more when they had given in to despair, and he was able to dissuade people from committing betrayal out of fear of the Demon King. He was not able to completely put an end to Zakkart’s recklessness, but… countless men drew the courage they needed to face the Demon King’s army from his words. And the gods did the same.”
“Even the gods? Not just those with physical bodies – the Colossi, Elder Dragons, and Beast-Kings?” asked Mill, surprised that even as a mortal, Bellwood’s words were able to move even the hearts of the gods.
“Yes,” Alda said, nodding. “The great gods, including myself, exchanged words with him again –”
At that moment, Alda was interrupted by another god entering his Divine Realm.
“Alda, I come bearing a report,” the god said.
“You have come personally, Sirius, God of War Horns,” said Alda.
The god named Sirius had the appearance of a barbarian. He was wearing a wolf pelt on his head, his face and chest were covered in war paint, and a stone hatchet hung at his waist.
He looked as if he would be a subordinate god of the war-god Zantark, but despite his appearance, he was one of the oldest subordinate gods of the now-deceased Shizarion, the God of Wind and Art.
“Yes. My familiar spirits and heroic spirits are busy with the task of watching over the continent in which Botin slumbers. The Demon King has been confirmed to still be playing around in Alcrem,” said Sirius. “In any case, the main thing I have come to report is… As we suspected, it seems that Bashas has betrayed us and joined Vida’s faction, as have Zelzeria and Hamul.”
The gods of Alda’s forces were united in order to maintain the world’s existence and carry out justice, and yet some of them had turned traitor to join Vida’s faction, which supported the Demon King Vandalieu.
Mill opened her mouth to express her astonishment, but Alda held up a hand to signal her to stay quiet.
“… I see. What has happened to the Divine Realms of those three gods?” Alda asked.
“It seems that they have moved their entire Divine Realms with them. I believe that it is already difficult for us to make contact with them. However, there is evidence that they are continuing their work to maintain the world’s existence,” said Sirius.
“I see… This is my fault for making Bashas and the others continue observing the region within the Boundary Mountain Range. Tell the others that none should feel responsible for this other than me, and then return to your task of protecting Botin,” said Alda.
Sirius nodded and left Alda’s Divine Realm. Mill seemed to have regained her composure, but she spoke to Alda with anxiousness in her voice.
“My lord, will gods whom we consider allies betray us again like the ones who joined the Demon King Guduranis a hundred thousand years ago?” Mill asked.
Would there be more traitors like Luvesfol and the Boar Beast-King who succumbed to their fear of the Demon King? Alda could not answer that question.
“This is a time for unity. We gods must work closely with one another and not show any weaknesses for Vandalieu and Vida to take advantage of.”
That was all Alda said. However, there were other thoughts that he was keeping to himself.
Now that we are in more hardship than I could have imagined, I truly feel it – Even though we are gods, we need a symbol that acts as a core for us and gives us strength. If Heinz can become a symbol like Bellwood was a hundred thousand years ago, we may be able to stop these events.
The day after the ceremony, a sense of festivity lingered in Alcrem, and it was livelier than usual.
Though they hadn’t made it in time for the day of the ceremony itself, there were bards who had come to compose new heroic tales, merchants looking for business opportunities, and servants of nobles from all over the nation who had come to gather information under the pretense of celebrating the capital’s safety.
And since the duke had vowed to rebuild the temple of Borgadon, laborers had begun to gather in order to find work related to its construction. For now, these laborers were just coming from nearby villages, but eventually, people would come from all over the Alcrem Duchy to find work.
It had also been decided that Mages’ Guild researchers from across the duchy would be sent to investigate the group of enormous black crystals that were believed to have been created by a fragment of the Demon King and left behind by the evil god.
The bustling activity in Alcrem was unlikely to die out anytime soon. Bandits would likely gather as well in order to prey on the people traveling to Alcrem, but that wasn’t a problem yet.
And in the plaza, the food carts were doing their business.
“Here’s your five skewers.”
“Here is your Gobu-gobu skewer.”
“One cold herb tea, sorry to keep you waiting!”
Seeing Darcia working at the food cart in an apron, the ‘Plentiful Sandwich’ Sandy, a middle-aged woman with a good physique, came over to her with furrowed brows.
“… Why are you working at the food cart?” she asked.
“Don’t mind me, Sandy-san. We’ve started doing Gobu-gobu skewers today. Would you like to try one?” Darcia offered.
“Gobu-gobu, that Goblin meat thing that the rumors say doesn’t taste disgusting? W-well, I suppose I’ll try one,” said Sandy, seemingly curious after having heard the rumors.
She took the skewer from Darcia and started eating the Gobu-gobu right away.
“Hmm… This is… quite the strange flavor. It’s purple, so it doesn’t look appealing at all, but it has a vegetable-like texture and it goes well with the salt and cheese sauce… It might be good as a sandwich filling,” she said, carefully evaluating the flavor and texture. “Wait, that’s not what I wanted to say!” she said, returning to her senses after finishing the skewer. “I wanted to ask, why are you, an honorary noble, still working at a food cart with your son!”
“I mean… I’m not an adventurer, and I’m not employed by the Church or anything, so… And I’ve always been working with everyone at my son’s food cart, so I don’t really know what to say,” replied Darcia – Honorary Countess Darcia Zakkart.
She was legally considered a noble, and no commoner was supposed to shout at her like Sandy was right now.
And yet, she was working in the food cart that she had opened with her son in the plaza at Alcrem’s main gate, selling grilled skewers at a reasonable price.
At first, the townspeople had thought that it was some kind of joke, or it was someone who just happened to look like Darcia, but… Darcia and the others had no intention of hiding their identities, so the people were forced to accept this reality.
And since Darcia and the others weren’t putting on airs, Sandy and the others decided to treat them just as they had done during the duel with the Alcrem Food Cart Pentagram… though there were many adventurers and traveling merchants who were genuinely unaware, as they had only arrived in the capital today and had thus not seen the ceremony yesterday.
Still, it seemed that they were aware that this food cart was related to Darcia because the Empusa Myuze and the Ghoul Kachia were working with her.
“Mantis lady!” a customer called out. “Five Gobu-gobu skewers and five Orc-meat skewers over here, please! And a refill on the fruit juice!”
“Right away! However, I am not a mantis but an Empusa, so please remember that!” said Myuze.
“Hey, are you guys not selling alcohol? There was alcohol yesterday, wasn’t there?” another customer complained.
“Drinking outdoors is illegal in this city except for special days. We only had it yesterday because of the ceremony with the duke’s permission,” said Kachia.
Perhaps the customers were under the impression that Darcia and Vandalieu, who had become honorary nobles, were operating the food cart with a new employee and two familiars.
“All kinds of things happened and we ended up not being able to leave the city for a few more days, right? So, we thought that we’d teach everyone about Vida’s races and Vandalieu’s familiars while we earn some money to cover the cost of our stay,” said Darcia.
“The cost of your stay?” Sandy said incredulously. “You’re an honorary noble, right? Haven’t you been given some huge mansion with its own servants?”
“No,” said Darcia, shaking her head. “Just because I’m an honorary countess now doesn’t mean I’m suddenly rich. I’ve been given a medal, and I’m legally treated as a countess while Vandalieu is now the child of a noble, but that’s all. I haven’t been given land or an important position. I receive the same annual sum that an earl would receive, but we’re a big family.”
Under the system, the title of honorary noble was granted to adventurers or commoners who had achieved great things, and this title allowed them to be treated as nobles. Thus, they would be given a medal, a high social status, and an annual sum that corresponded to their honorary court rank, but that was all.
They would not be given a position as a civil official or military officer, and naturally, they would not receive any land, either.
However, as one would quickly realize, those who became honorary nobles had their own lives that they lived before receiving their titles, and many of them were B-class or A-class adventurers, so it wasn’t rare for them to already possess more wealth than the average viscount.
Rewarding non-nobles for great deeds was important, but if real court ranks were given out too frequently and there were too many nobles, that would negatively impact the rule of the nation, so the honorary noble system was partially for preventing that as well.
Thus, honorary nobles did not receive the mansions and money that an ordinary noble of their court rank might have.
“Of course, we’ve received a monetary reward for defeating the evil god, so we’re not actually in trouble when it comes to money,” Darcia added.
“So, the other reason… You want people to feel closer to members of Vida’s races and your son’s familiars?” said Sandy.
Seeing the customers calling out to Myuze and Kachia, she felt that Darcia’s plan had been largely successful.
The other thing was…
“Wow, the legs are moving!” a child’s voice said excitedly in the distance.
“We’re not shaking!” said another.
The large-build Arachne Gizania was doing large laps around the food cart with children riding a specially-made saddle attached to her spider-like lower body.
“Make sure to not lean too far forward,” Gizania warned the children.
If Sandy knew of the theme parks on Earth, she might have been reminded of a miniature steam locomotive ride.
Meanwhile, Maroru, Urumi, and Suruga, the three rat sisters, could be heard squeaking elsewhere as well.
“Red rat!” a bystander said.
“The silver rat, this time!” said another.
“I think it’s the white rat!” said a child’s voice.
The rat sisters were lying flat and stretched out with their stomachs against the ground, and a large number of adult onlookers had gathered as well as children.
With a loud squeak, the rat sisters all stood up on their hind legs together, revealing Vandalieu, who had been lying under them.
“He was under the red rat, Maroru! Those of you who guessed correctly, hold out your hands so I can give you your raspberries!” said a small girl dressed in a cute costume… or rather, a Dwarf woman, as she went around handing raspberries from a basket to the children.
It seemed that they were betting… or rather, guessing which rat Vandalieu would be lying under.
Surprised to see that Vandalieu was not at the food cart, Sandy peered over the food cart to see that… the skewers were being grilled by Juliana, who was about the same height as him.
“Oh, so it was Juliana-chan who was doing the grilling,” Sandy laughed.
“Yes! I have to do my best!” said Juliana.
“I see. You do your best, then. I’m cheering for you…” said Sandy, getting a fluffy feeling from seeing Juliana, who was younger than her own daughter, helping with the food cart. “Wait, that’s not it,” she said, remembering what she wanted to say and turning back to Darcia. “I understand why you’re doing it, but are you sure about this? Everyone’s interested in you people, so they’d gather round even if you weren’t working at a food cart, you know? And as for the cost of your stay, you’d be able to earn enough by going to one of the Devil’s Nests or Dungeons around here, wouldn’t you?”
There was no denying the truth in Sandy’s words. In fact, Simon and Natania had gone with Arthur’s party and Fang to accept a commission from the Adventurers’ Guild and do some hunting and gathering in a Devil’s Nest.
If just one of Darcia or Vandalieu joined them, they would certainly be able to hunt enough to cover the cost of their stay.
“That’s true, but… I’m not an adventurer, and I like working like this,” Darcia said simply.
Sandy gave her an odd smile and decided to stop asking questions. “Well, if you put it that way, there’s nothing more for me to say. There’s all kinds of work in this world, so it’s best to earn your keep the way you want to.”
Darcia smiled and nodded, but… she felt guilty about the fact that she was actually lying.
“But you should be careful. There are people who’ll come to make strange false accusations about you because they don’t like the fact that an honorary noble is working at a food cart,” Sandy warned. “Those kinds of people are –”
“Strange false accusations? Now that is a false accusation in and of itself,” interrupted the haughty-sounding voice of a man from behind her.
Sandy turned around and jumped out of the way in surprise as she saw a young man who seemed to be a noble, with two guards escorting him.
“Wow, that’s amazing,” Darcia said with a sigh, both out of admiration of Sandy’s agility and out of exasperation at the fact that her warning that an unpleasant noble would come to harass her had come true right away.
It was uncertain as to how the young man had interpreted that, but he exhaled arrogantly through his nose before giving her a bow.
“It is a pleasure to meet you, Honorary Countess Darcia Zakkart-dono. I am Viscount Piscott Orlamb,” the young man said.
“Well, thank you for your polite greeting. So, what would you like to order?” Darcia said cheerfully in response, ready to take his order.
Bewildered by Darcia’s complete lack of hesitation, the two knights who were escorting Piscott froze.
“D-do not insult me! Do you think that the crude cooking that is sold at a food cart is worthy to be eaten by me, the head of the Orlamb house of viscounts?!” Piscott said, outraged.
“Oh my, that’s unfortunate. Well then, I must take the orders of other customers, so please excuse me,” said Darcia.
She gave Piscott a small bow and tried to leave with the petrified Sandy, but the two knights stood in their way.
“How dare you show such insolence to Piscott-sama!” one of them said angrily.
“Where do you think you’re going!” demanded the other.
Neither of them drew their swords, but Sandy was trembling under the intimidation of these armed knights.
As for Darcia… she sighed heavily as she looked over at the master of these two knights whom she was capable of turning into piles of flesh with minimal effort.
“Do you still have some business with me?” she asked. “Or have you decided that you want to order something?”
“Are you trying to make a fool of me?!” Piscott demanded.
“No, I am providing appropriate service as a food cart worker,” Darcia replied.
She had no intention of making a fool of Piscott. However, she was currently a waitress at a grilled skewer cart. If Piscott was not a customer who wanted to make an order, there was no need for her to attend to him any longer.
If she was at a ball or something that she was attending as a noble, then she would have responded to him differently. Either that, or Piscott simply needed to state what business he had with Darcia, but…
“Damn it, you really are trying to make a fool of me! Perhaps you have become arrogant and conceited after you received your honorary court rank and became one of us?!” Piscott said angrily.
“No, I really am doing nothing of the sort… Umm, so, what business do you have with me?” Darcia finally asked, being left with no choice as Piscott seemed to refuse to state his business otherwise.
There was nothing fun for her about making a fool of Piscott. Both he and his knights were frightening the customers with their shouting, and they were impeding her work. She honestly just wanted them to leave as quickly as possible.
“Mph, fine,” Piscott said reluctantly. “Now that you are an honorary noble, you are at the lowest position among us nobles, and I have come to warn you, because it is the duty of us true nobles to guide you so that you do not find yourself in trouble!”
“… Oh my,” said Darcia, surprised that there really was a noble who had come to harass her because they didn’t like the idea of an honorary noble working at a food cart.
But Piscott mistakenly took her response as a sign that she had understood what he was trying to say.
“Hmph. It seems that you finally understand just how much contempt you are showing for the dignity of nobles. Now that you understand, close this silly food cart at once, and have your son stop that vulgar display over there. As head of the Orlamb house of viscounts, I shall take responsibility and teach you the appropriate manner in which nobles should conduct themselves,” he said in an arrogant tone, reaching out to place a hand on Darcia’s shoulder.
At that moment, a space-attribute Ghost twisted the space behind Orlamb, and at the same time, somewhere in a deserted alleyway, Braga unsheathed his dagger. Myuze and the others began making discreet attempts to stand in front of the children so that they couldn’t see what was happening.
But before anything else took place –
“I do not think you are worthy enough to do such a thing, however,” a woman said in a chilling tone.
Viscount Orlamb stopped his hand. “What is the meaning of this? You filthy commoner, who do you think I –”
Piscott stopped mid-sentence and his eyes opened wide in shock as he turned to see a Dwarf woman dressed in an adorable costume with colorful decorations.
“Th-the ‘Knight of a Thousand Blades,’ C-countess Baldiria Redgorder?!’”
The Dwarf woman who had been working as an assistant in the guessing game was Baldiria, who had replaced her armor with a cute costume for the occasion.
Piscott hastily stood up straight, and the knights who were escorting him quickly did the same.
He was standing before Baldiria, who belonged to a family with a longer history and higher court rank than his, and was even a close subordinate of the duke. The arrogance was visibly slipping from his face with every passing second.
“W-what are you doing in a place like this?!” Piscott asked.
“As you can see, I am helping Darcia-sama, to whom I owe a large debt of gratitude,” Baldiria replied. “Knights are forbidden from working in other occupations, but as I am not receiving payment, there are no problems with this.”
“A-and the reason you are wearing clothes such as those?”
“Oh? ‘Such as those,’ huh? It seems that you have a strong obsession with the dignity of nobles… Do you believe that I am disgracing that dignity?”
In her fluffy, bright pink and light blue one-piece dress, Baldiria glared at Piscott. Overwhelmed by the chilling wrath that was emanating from her, Piscott took a step back and shook his head so furiously that the droplets of cold sweat on his forehead almost flew off.
“Excellent. Now then, let me tell you why you are not worthy of providing Darcia-sama with instruction of any kind,” said Baldiria. “First! Unless the nation is at war, paying a direct, unannounced visit to the head of a noble house that you are not even acquainted with is a grave breach of etiquette! Send a messenger to secure an appointment in advance! Second! Your knights stood in the path of the head of another noble house and intimidated them! Why did you not reprimand them? This only speaks to your poor quality of character! And finally! Attempting to touch a lady as if you are close to her is absolutely outrageous! Educate yourself before you show your face around again, you inexperienced brat!”
Piscott let out a hysterical scream. “I-I’m so terribly sorry!” he squeaked.
With that, he turned tail and ran.
“Piscott-sama!” the two knights shouted, hastily running after him.
Onlookers cheered for Baldiria after she chased away the unpleasant nobleman.
“Nicely done, Baldiria-sama!”
“Nice, tough instructor!”
The people who had kept their distance from the food cart throughout the incident came back to eat.
“Darcia-sama, I am terribly ashamed by the behavior of that man, who is a noble who serves this duchy,” said Baldiria.
“No, you saved me, Baldiria-san,” said Darcia. “By the way…”
“Yes, it seems that he approached you with unpleasant intentions. Honorary nobles are only nobles for a single generation, so there are people who look down on them as inferior in any duchy, but… it is likely that he was attempting to make use of your beauty and fame.”
What Baldiria described was something that was common in any aristocracy. No matter how high the court rank of an honorary noble was, there were nobles who believed that they were superior for having their court rank passed down to them over the generations.
Nobles served their nations for generations; it was not amusing for them to see honorary nobles come out of nowhere and receive the same treatment as them. They were not entirely mistaken; nobles contributed to the nation by ruling over their lands for generations and serving in various official posts, and they possessed more political influence and connections than honorary nobles.
But even so, Piscott had gone too far by calling himself a true noble and directly insulting Darcia despite her being an honorary noble.
“No, that’s not what I wanted to say. You could call me ‘Darcia’ instead of adding ‘-sama’ to my name, you know?” Darcia said.
“R-really?! But I cannot simply refer to you without any honorific all of a sudden…!” said Baldiria, who had flushed cheeks and was shifting around in embarrassment for some reason.
“Good grief, I was scared to death, but I’m feeling alright again after listening to you two!” Sandy laughed.
A small wobbling sound came from the creature that had taken on Vandalieu’s appearance.
“Then, let’s continue the guessing game…” it said, and then it returned to work.
Meanwhile, the real Vandalieu, who had managed to sneak away and fool the gods, looked up, put his pen down and stopped writing his reply to Selen.
From Cuatro’s deck, a distant shadow had become visible.
Vandalieu gave a satisfied nod. “I’ve found the Demon King’s Continent.”