Thanks to the generous Delsin D. ($150) for sponsoring this chapter!
Vandalieu poured Mana into one of the numerous chunks of Orichalcum that he had acquired during the battle against the forces that defended Peria, the Goddess of Water and Knowledge.
Previously, he had barely been able to change the shape of Orichalcum at all, but he was now able to freely manipulate its shape and turn it into whatever he liked.
“It’s not as simple as iron or copper, huh,” he murmured.
It seemed that it was impossible to transform Orichalcum into a new metal in the way that he had created Death Iron and Dark Copper. But that wasn’t much of a surprise, as this had also been impossible for Mythril and Adamantite, which were far easier to work with than Orichalcum.
“Considering that it is still impossible at this stage… it likely has nothing to do with your skill or the quantity of your Mana, Master,” said Luciliano as he wrote down the results of this experiment.
“Which means?” said Vandalieu, indicating for Luciliano to elaborate.
“I have explained this before, but Orichalcum, Mythril, and Adamantite are metals that are considered to be magical metals. In their raw material state, before any processing, they already contain Mana. In other words, they have already undergone transformation, and I believe that it is impossible to transform them any further.”
“I see,” said Vandalieu, accepting Luciliano’s theory. “In that case, let’s use existing metals for their transformation equipment. Death Iron, Dark Copper, Soul Silver, and Life Gold… and let’s make one for him, too. It seems that he’s supported by the god of Origin, but even so, it would be problematic if he were to lose.”
And with that, he set the Orichalcum aside to begin processing the solid, liquid, and spirit form metals that he had prepared. He had previously needed Legion’s help to see Soul Silver, but he could now see it himself using the Demon King’s Demon Eyes.
“… In other nations, you would be able to buy a fully furnished mansion with hired servants with the small amounts of metal you are currently playing around with. What is the matter with our nation’s demand for metal?” said Luciliano with a wry smile.
The demand for metal in the Demon Empire of Vidal was very different from that of other nations. The price of Mythril and Adamantite was higher than iron, about the same as that of Obsidian. And despite the fact that Obsidian was supposed to be the cheapest of human-made magical metals, no Obsidian was produced at all.
The reason for that was, Vandalieu was able to create Death Iron and Dark Copper from ordinary iron and copper, and these were functionally superior to Obsidian, so the nation’s blacksmiths didn’t have the time nor a reason to create Obsidian.
And there were also weapons made of Demon King fragments being produced, which could not be matched by anything other than Orichalcum.
Finally, there was also the fact that the citizens of the Demon Empire of Vidal were the kind of populace to erect an enormous idol of their emperor as a sign of gratitude and worship, ignoring the emperor himself strongly opposing this.
Given that Artifacts made of Orichalcum performed equally with weapons that were created by Vandalieu using fragments of the Demon King, the overwhelming majority of people chose the latter.
A large part of the reason behind the popularity of transformation equipment in the empire was the fact that it had been handmade by Vandalieu… Zadiris, wanting more magical girls to exist, had promoted this point heavily.
“The demand in other nations is irrelevant right now. It’s not like we’re going to export this Orichalcum,” said Vandalieu.
“Indeed. If it were to somehow be processed into equipment, that equipment would likely find its way into the hands of Alda’s potential heroes or supporters of the ‘Five-colored Blades,’” said Luciliano. “Incidentally, will transformation equipment work in that other world? I have heard that there is no time attribute there.”
“I do intend to test it beforehand. And I need to do an experiment to see if I can even send it there.”
“Is it not the first time you are using Soul Silver and Life Gold? Will this really be alright?”
“I’ve used them on Saria and Rita. There weren’t any visible changes to Attribute Values, the acquisition of Skills or increasing Skill Levels though.”
Saria and Rita were Living Armors and their armor parts were their main bodies. These had already undergone improvements using Soul Silver and Life Gold. However, the effects of these improvements had been things like a sharper sense of taste, becoming able to feel satiation from eating, and becoming able to sleep.
“If I recall, those you are sending transformation equipment to are all humans… Do they have problems with their sense of taste or their sleep cycles?” asked Luciliano.
It was great that Saria and Rita were now leading more fulfilling lives, but Luciliano questioned whether this was in line with Vandalieu’s objective.
“We’ve learned that Soul Silver and Life Gold can be carried over in dreams,” Vandalieu told his doubtful apprentice. “The god of Origin is stopping me from descending on the planet directly from space, so I plan to send the equipment through dreams.”
Vandalieu planned not to forcibly destroy the boundary between worlds unless it was an emergency… If he did it multiple times, it was possible that the Amemiya residence would become a spatial singularity point.
But Vandalieu was already very busy. He was training to acquire ‘Muscle Technique,’ constructing the tunnel in Gartland, taking measures to facilitate a reconciliation between the gods of Gartland and Vida’s faction, reading story books to his firstborn child along with Pauvina and the others… He was doing some of these tasks simultaneously using Demon King Familiars, but at this rate, he wouldn’t be able to devote his entire attention to creating transformation equipment.
“Ah, it’s about time for my dance lesson. Well then, I’ll use split entities to continue the work so I’ll leave the rest to you,” said Vandalieu.
Having acquired the title of Honorary Countess, Darcia had earned the right to participate in high society, and the duke had earnestly requested that she do so.
Vandalieu was receiving dance lessons so that he could accompany her. Incidentally, he wasn’t nervous. As he had a luxury complex, a luxurious and glamorous party where nobles dressed up and gathered to enjoy delicious food was like something out of his dreams.
There were balls held in the Demon Empire of Vidal as well, but… they were more like festivals than parties, and such events were overwhelmingly outnumbered by fighting tournaments.
In addition –
“Considering that my child with Tiamat will be revealed soon, as well as the ceremony to mark the completion of that huge statue of me, events like that aren’t such a big deal,” said Vandalieu.
“Master… You still refuse to admit that it is an idol built to worship you as a god?” Luciliano sighed. “In any case, I have mentioned this before, but I think you need training of the mind more than dance lessons. I can predict nothing other than that the venues will be painted bright red with the blood of the nobles who dare to look upon your mother with an inappropriate gaze.”
Luciliano seemed worried that Vandalieu accompanying Darcia to such events would result in tragedy.
But Vandalieu shook his head. “Luciliano, what do you take your master for? I won’t do anything like that.”
He understood that Darcia was beautiful and attractive from the perspective of nobles. Thus, he would not be bothered if Darcia attending social events would lead to nobles paying her a lot of attention, complimenting her, making advances on her, or asking her for a dance.
He was aware that such behavior was considered good manners in high society. In fact, it would probably make Vandalieu angry if she were to be socially ignored.
However, fools could be found anywhere in the world.
“… Then what of the ones that commit a breach of etiquette?” asked Luciliano.
“It will depend on the severity, but dealing with it on the spot should be the responsibility of the host of the event, the duke,” said Vandalieu.
“… Master, when you go to this party, do not forget to bring extra cream as gifts.”
Luciliano felt true sympathy, not for the nobles attending the event, but for Duke Alcrem and his servants.
“Luciliano, do your best with turning Dolstero into a Live-Dead. And I intend to have you participate in the next battle,” said Vandalieu.
“… This is not the time for me to be sympathizing with others,” Luciliano muttered.
《You have acquired the ‘Dancing’ Skill!》
Autumn. A season when villages held festivals to celebrate the harvest.
And it was a social season for nobles, during which numerous parties were held.
The party in the Alcrem Duchy was livelier than other years. But it was no more extravagant than the parties of other years, nor were there any special occasions such as the naming of heirs or announcements of engagements.
And yet, more nobles attended this party than in previous years because of the institutional reforms that Duke Takkard Alcrem was leading and pushing for… to the nobles who favored the Church of Alda, an outrage that would leave a scar on history, and to the nobles who worshiped Vida, a tremendous revolution.
The autonomous regions of the various races of Vida in the Alcrem Duchy would be abolished, and they would become able to migrate freely and work whatever jobs they wished to… although they would not be able to join any Guilds yet.
In addition, Ghouls, who had been treated as humanoid monsters in the past, would now be treated as a race of people protected by the law.
The nobles had been greatly shocked by these two changes.
Consequently, many of them wished to meet the duke directly to hear his true intentions, and lords of the more distant regions could not remain ignorant to the events happening in the center of the duchy, so these lords or representatives sent by them had gathered here as well.
Duke Alcrem stood before the guests to address them.
“Ladies and gentlemen, it is still too early to bid farewell to this year and welcome the new one, but there is no doubt that this year has been full of trials for the Alcrem Duchy. The death of my youngest sister Juliana; the collapse of the Temple of Borgadon, the God of Mountains, in the Sacred Wastelands; the resurrection of an evil god. This duchy almost met its doom. The fact that I am able to see you all today is thanks to the ‘Knight of the Collapsed Mountains’ Goldie, hero of our duchy, and Honorary Countess Darcia Zakkart, the ‘Holy Mother of Victory,’ a new hero. And it is thanks to the efforts of our people. May Goldie rest in peace, and may our new hero bring us even more prosperity. To our heroes!”
“To our heroes!” said the nobles in unison, raising their glasses with the duke.
But it seemed that those who shared his sentiments were in the minority.
The nobles who had originally belonged to the faction opposing the duke, as well as the nobles who had recently joined this faction due to the great reforms, were observing Duke Alcrem and the individuals around him in order to gather information.
The central figure of the faction opposing the duke was Marquis Theodore Posser. He had brought his second son and second daughter to this party under the pretext of finding marriage partners for them, and they were now roaming around the venue to gather information from the children of other nobles. Meanwhile, he was pretending to converse with the members of his own political faction while continuing to analyze the situation.
This year had indeed been a year filled with trials for the whole Alcrem Duchy. Or to be more accurate, it could have become a year of trials for the entirety of the Orbaume Kingdom.
The death of Juliana Alcrem was an insignificant problem, but there had been the Dungeon monster horde attack on Morksi, and the resurrection of an evil god that had destroyed the Sacred Wastelands (in reality, a fusion of two evil gods, but the public story was that it had been the evil god Forzajival).
If these events had not been dealt with in time, and the Dungeon monster horde or the evil god had been left unchecked, the damage would not have been limited to just Morksi or Alcrem. The nobles who were gathered here and their lands would not have been left unscathed. In the worst-case scenario, they could have been destroyed entirely. Even in the case that they were fortunate enough to not be attacked directly, the destruction of a major city of commerce and the capital of the duchy would have had catastrophic economic consequences.
And it was unlikely that the evil god would have paid any heed to the borders drawn by mortals on maps; he would have brought as much destruction as possible to the other duchies as well.
That would have truly caused a year of trials for the entire kingdom.
Even Theodore felt gratitude towards those who were responsible for preventing these disasters.
His skin looks healthier and of better color than it did when I saw him last year. And there is clearly more hair on his head. Has he hired a skilled wig maker and used some magic on his face to hide his poor health? If that is the case, he should be announcing that he will give the headship of his house to his heir at an end-of-year party or at one of the parties held in the kingdom to celebrate the new year, but… is he pushing himself? But judging from his behavior, it does not seem to be that serious, Theodore thought, analyzing his various observations.
After careful consideration, he decided that it was best not to make any aggressive political moves for the time being. Enemies of those who had achieved things recognized by everyone would be easily criticized, and this was doubly true when the people were weakened by fear.
Greed, coldheartedness, cruelty, corruption. It was important to avoid being associated with these qualities, even if it was the truth. It would cause one’s every action to be doubted and one’s every intention to be probed regardless of whether there was a good reason for doubt or not. And that would lead to more interactions with those of similarly poor reputations.
From the outside, one would appear to be the root of all evil. And this would impede any attempt to do anything.
Moderation in all things. Though my faction opposes the duke, it is not that I wish to defeat him.
Theodore was a slender man in his early forties with a cruel-looking face; he looked like the textbook example of a corrupt noble. But that was just his appearance; it did not mean that he was actually a corrupt noble.
His integrity was not spotless, and he had enriched himself considerably. However, he had not accepted bribes to allow bandits, slave traders dealing in illegal slaves, or drug dealers to do as they pleased.
Although his faction opposed the duke, that was due to their political stances. As Takkard Alcrem had devoted himself to Alda’s peaceful faction, Theodore had aimed to take the profits that could be gained by being the leader of a faction and through connections to the anti-peaceful-faction group within the Church. He did not genuinely oppose the duke’s house. Though he was a marquis, he was still a vassal of Duke Alcrem, so if he were to oppose the duke in earnest… by starting a rebellion, then the Posser house would be crushed.
In fact, Theodore wished for the duke to remain healthy. The sudden death of the head of a house, followed by a sudden succession by an heir, would greatly disturb the stability of that house’s rule. If the Alcrem Duchy were to undergo such destabilization, Theodore would have bigger problems to worry about than leading the faction that opposed the duke.
Come to think of it, there was strength in his voice when he was speaking. Perhaps the duke is actually in good health, and I am being too suspicious?
The nobles around Theodore began voicing their own opinions.
“But Marquis Posser, Duke Alcrem is becoming quite troublesome. Perhaps he has been influenced by the new hero; he has not only shown indecent spectacles in public places, but he has also disturbed the very order of his own duchy.”
“A Dark Elf becoming an honorary countess is unheard of, but abolishing the autonomous regions? I doubted my ears when I first heard the news.”
“Harpies will be flying through the skies and Centaurs will be running about on the ground before the year ends. They might have some use in replacing carrier pigeons and workhorses, but they will quickly become eyesores if they get too carried away.”
There were rocky mountains on the north side of the Alcrem Duchy that was the autonomous region of a group of harpies, and at the base of those mountains was the autonomous region of a group of Centaurs. The entire Centaur population was less than a thousand, so they were unlikely to have much influence, but there were several tens of thousands of Harpies, and there was no telling what would happen if they were set free from their autonomous region.
“Get carried away? They are still unable to join any Guilds, including the Commerce Guild, are they not?” one of the other nobles asked.
The Guilds were institutions that were independent from the government. Of course, they were not completely free from the government’s influence, but they were not merely buildings, either. Thus, Duke Alcrem could only urge them to make reforms, and decisions on such reforms would be made by the Guilds themselves.
However, the Guilds could not simply ignore the new laws in the Alcrem Duchy, so they would gradually have to make changes to their systems, as the Adventurers’ Guild had done by abolishing commissions for exterminating Ghouls.
But such things would not take place anytime soon; it would be several years before they happened.
“Do you not understand? If the Harpies and Centaurs are released from their autonomous regions and those regions come under the direct rule of Duke Alcrem, the duke’s house must rule them. And due to the nature of these regions, they will be difficult to rule by sending a representative official to govern. Thus, I suspect that the duke intends to grant court ranks to the Harpy and Centaur leaders and make them lords of the regions.”
“I-it can’t be! The idea of mixing our precious noble blood with the blood of birds and horses is unthinkable.”
“Does the duke mean to invite birds and beasts to high society?!”
Theodore’s followers were showing the whites of their eyes as they whispered furiously amongst one another.
How clever, Theodore thought.
“… The birth of Harpy and Centaur nobles. So be it,” he said.
“Marquis Posser?!” the other nobles exclaimed, turning to him with shocked expressions.
“In fact, it would be more inconvenient if the duke were to try and rule those regions directly. The duke’s house would become too powerful,” Theodore continued.
“But even if that is true for the Centaur lands, the autonomous region of the Harpies is a rocky mountain range and there should be almost no profits coming from it. I do not think it would contribute to the duke’s power, unless you have some explanation…?”
Some of the nobles opposing the duke were devoted worshippers of Alda. These nobles were too devoted to their religion and had a strong tendency to treat members of Vida’s races with contempt.
But Marquis Posser had never looked upon Vida’s races with contempt. After hearing about Duke Alcrem’s proposed reforms and investigating their significance and purpose, he had come to believe that he should be cautious of Vida’s races.
“I have heard that Centaurs possess greater mobility and stamina than high-quality riding horses, and they are proficient with spears and bows. They will likely be exceptional as cavalry. And the Harpies’ ability to fly is magnificent. Unless there is a storm, they will deliver information faster than any horse. In battle, they may not defeat a Dragon Knight in one-on-one combat, but there are thousands of them that are capable of fighting. In an all-out battle between them and the Dragon Knights, who number less than a hundred, there is no question as to who would be victorious,” said Theodore.
If the autonomous regions of the Centaurs and Harpies remained under the direct rule of the duke, their people would become a part of his realm’s people. In that case, it was possible that the duke would have sole control over the power of these races.
“That is true…”
Theodores’ followers were convinced by this explanation. But Theodore did not feel a threat in only the military use of the Centaurs and Harpies. There was a threat in their economic effects as well.
As Theodore became more and more absorbed in his thoughts –
“Well, well. If it isn’t Marquis Theodore Posser. Good day,” said a voice from nearby.
It was Earl Isaac Morksi, the first noble of the Alcrem Duchy to make contact with Darcia and Vandalieu.
“Earl Isaac Morksi,” said Theodore. “What brings you here?”
“I am going around and greeting everyone, of course. I am the lord of a city of commerce, after all,” said Isaac.
Earl Isaac Morksi was not a part of the faction opposing the duke; he was, simply put, an ordinary noble. Thus, he kept his distance from Theodore and rarely conversed with him.
And yet, he had gone out of his way to actively speak to Theodore. Theodore found this strange – especially because the duke’s speech before his toast had drawn attention to Earl Morksi. Earl Morksi actively choosing to speak to Theodore, who belonged to the faction opposing the duke, would inevitably give off the impression that he had joined the faction himself.
Still, as the city of Morksi was a part of the duchy, if it had suffered significant losses in recent events, it would not have been unusual for the earl to speak to nobles regardless of which factions they belonged to in order to ask for support to rebuild.
However, the city of Morksi had not suffered any losses. In fact, the defeat of the monsters attacking the city had caused a healthy supply of high-quality materials to find their way into its markets. On top of that, the newly-formed B-class Dungeon, ‘Garess’s Ancient Battleground,’ and the shows that one of Theodore’s followers had described as ‘indecent spectacles,’ had attracted a great number of adventurers and travelers to the city and brought about an unprecedented wave of prosperity.
Or perhaps there was some religious problem in the city of Morksi, and because Theodore had connections to the Church of Alda, Earl Morksi had come to him for help?
“Rather than pay attention to me, perhaps you should direct your attention towards those people over there, like everyone else is?” suggested the earl, pointing at the people who were surrounded by a large crowd of nobles.
It was Honorary Countess Darcia Zakkart. The moment Theodore saw her, his breath was taken away.
It wasn’t because she was beautiful. It was because the dress she was wearing was so spectacular.
W-what is that dress?! The fabric is silk… No, it is no ordinary silk! And the tailoring… I have never seen this style before. Is this another secret of the Dark Elves?!
“Well then, I must go and greet her, so if you would excuse me,” said Earl Morksi, walking off in Darcia’s direction before the speechless Theodore could say anything.
“I-it seems that the earl has also lost himself to her beauty,” said one of Theodore’s followers.
“Good grief. How unsightly for someone his age,” muttered another.
Ignoring them, Theodore stared at Earl Morksi’s back… and then he realized something.
Most of the nobles surrounding Darcia were in their forties or above, and all of them had full heads of hair and healthy-looking skin. According to Theodore’s memory from the previous year, most of them had been lacking in terms of their hair… there were even some whose heads had previously been completely bald.
Could it be… Is it her?! If those are not wigs, then… has Darcia Zakkart already taken control of the Alcrem Duchy from the shadows?!
A freezing chill ran up Theodore’s spine as he felt an unprecedented sense of danger. He didn’t care about his hair, but he had imagined his own fate, the fate of someone who was connected to the group that was against Alda’s peaceful faction, and the fate of the Posser house.
I-I must join that side at any cost! If I do not… my house will be ruined!
Watching Marquis Theodore Posser from a distance, Takkard Alcrem could see exactly what he was thinking.
Ordinarily, he would not be such an easy man to understand, but… well, I suppose it cannot be helped, he thought.
Theodore was the leader of the faction opposing the duke, but he had united the opposing political forces and kept them in check from doing anything too foolish. He was more capable and useful than many of Duke Alcrem’s own allies, so he wanted him to join him.
That was why he’d asked Earl Morksi to make a move, and things looked promising.
After all, in politics, incompetent allies were sometimes more terrifying than capable enemies.
It seems that everyone is very interested in why I have made these reforms. I am sure that most of them think that I have been seduced by Darcia-sama’s charm, or that I have military or economic objectives in mind.
Duke Alcrem believed that other than the idea of him being seduced, these were reasonable theories. In truth, he did have expectations in that regard.
In terms of positive economic effects… The Centaurs were a small population of less than a thousand, but if they joined forces with human merchants, the potential economic effects were unfathomable. Of course, this would also cause damage to horse trainers as well as the Adventurers’ Guild and Mercenaries’ Guild that would normally take on work to guard traveling merchants.
But villages and towns along highways would remodel their inns so that Centaurs could stay there as well, so carpenters would have more work and lumberjacks would experience an increase in demand for lumber.
And it was possible that Centaurs would also be hired in farming villages. After all, they were a race of people that were as intelligent as humans and stronger than the average farm horse.
And unlike domestic animals that required to be cared for year-round even if they were shared by their whole village, Centaurs could be hired just when fields needed to be plowed or new lands were being cultivated, so there would be less costs associated with these tasks.
It was possible that the Centaurs might dislike being hired as replacements for domestic animals, but… after they were released from their autonomous region, they would be compelled to change as well. It wasn’t just humans who would need to change their ways. It was likely that there would be Centaurs seeking work and payment rather than just pride.
The Harpies would have an even greater effect than Centaurs. The Harpies of the Alcrem Duchy lived in a mountainous region, so few of them were the flightless kind with developed lower bodies like those of ostriches; many of them were highly capable in flight.
That made them suited for carrying messages, but… more importantly, they were able to acquire medicinal herbs and marine products in tall, rocky mountains and the seas beyond them, regions that humans wouldn’t be able to reach without risking their lives.
And depending on the Harpies’ strength in battle, they could also deal in materials taken from monsters inhabiting the rocky mountains or the sea north of the continent.
The amount that a single Harpy could carry in one trip was small, but they could be equipped with Magic Items that lightened whatever they carried.
And as Harpies earned more, they would spend more as well. Up until now, they had only been able to purchase everyday items, luxury items, and decorations from a limited number of merchants, but they could now buy whatever they wanted.
It was impossible to estimate the profits that could be generated with the release of these two races.
A smart person may have been able to foresee these profits in the past. And yet, these actions had never been taken due to discriminatory mindsets and practices, as well as the influence of the Church of Alda, which was deep-rooted in the Orbaume Kingdom despite the fact that worshiping Vida was still allowed.
There was also the fact that the kingdom’s capital detested non-human races having political power.
Every duchy believed that it would be impossible to defy the capital and carry out such reforms.
And yet, I am carrying such reforms out. They likely suspect that I am doing so because I have acquired a shield that will shrug off any interference from the Church or the great nobles in the capital. But they will not realize that I have acquired an unimaginably reliable thorned shield! Duke Alcrem thought.
TLN: The word “shield” appears in this chapter a lot. It comes from 後ろ盾/ushiro-date which literally means a shield that one wears on their back, but it’s an expression that means “backer/sponsor.” Thus, “shield” throughout the chapter is a metaphor for backer/sponsor.
Vandalieu Zakkart stood behind him. That alone erased any fear of the Church or the nobles in the capital. They were like puppies giving him gentle bites; he even felt pity for them.
It was possible that those opposed to the reforms would try to economically blockade the Alcrem Duchy to prevent people and goods from entering.
It was possible that they would stoke discontent in the populace, encouraging them to assassinate the duke and his allies, causing a rebellion.
It was possible that the army would be turned towards the Alcrem Duchy, which would be considered to be an enemy of the entire Orbaume Kingdom.
And yet, even if these dangers became a reality, Duke Alcrem had nothing to fear with Vandalieu at his back.
The empire he ruled was large and had abundant funds. He had already promised economic support. Before any assassinations and rebellions could occur, those who plotted them would be erased from existence, leaving only the skins of their faces behind. And even if the army was sent to the Alcrem Duchy, it would be crushed immediately.
In addition to these guarantees, the V Cream that Vandalieu had provided as a ‘token of friendship’ was a big factor as well. Applying this to the top of the head caused one’s hair to regrow, and applying it to the skin caused wrinkles and sagging to disappear, turning it into the fresh and youthful skin of a teenager. Some had even made astonishing reports that it worked as a treatment for joint pain, severe skin diseases, and even burns.
There were some who did not believe how powerful Vandalieu Zakkart was or how much of a threat he posed, but they understood the effects of the V Cream once they applied it, so it was useful for gaining allies that agreed with the reforms.
… Of course, the duke used it himself as well.
“Duke Alcrem, I have returned. It seems that Marquis Posser has taken the bait,” said Earl Morksi, who had returned from his task.
“Well done. Marquis Posser will be a reliable comrade. I am glad that I was not forced to destroy him and have you become a marquis,” said Duke Alcrem.
“Oh dear. Have I wasted an opportunity to gain a higher court rank?” said the earl.
Duke Alcrem laughed. “It was a joke, ‘Duke’ Morksi-dono.”
He suspected that Earl Morksi was more well-liked by Vandalieu than he was – if he had not cooperated with Vandalieu, perhaps he would have been eliminated and Earl Morksi would have been made duke.
That was precisely why Duke Alcrem had suggested the reforms before Vandalieu had ordered him to make them.
These reforms must pass at any cost!
Vandalieu Zakkart and the Demon Empire he ruled were the ultimate shield. But this shield had thorns attached.
If the Alcrem house was too slow to make a move… or if it was decided that the Alcrem house would no longer be of any use, it would be impaled from behind.
“You took that joke a little too far. But are you sure that not inviting his companions and Lady Juliana was the right choice? Is it not possible that this will be taken as a sign of disrespect towards them?” asked Earl Morksi.
“That thought did occur to me, but… Zakkart-dono told me, ‘It is still too early for that,’” Duke Alcrem replied.
He had thought of various measures to prevent Vandalieu’s companions from drawing too much attention with their presence, such as increasing the number of members of Vida’s races at the venue by hiring Centaurs and Harpies as security and waiting staff. But Vandalieu had declined and told him that it wasn’t necessary to go so far.
This response had made Duke Alcrem feel relieved to know that Vandalieu was someone who could understand his circumstances. But at the same time, it had made him keenly aware of the thorns. Earl Morksi seemed to feel the same way; his face had turned pale.
“… It is still too early?” Earl Morksi repeated.
“That is right. We must hurry and make it a reality.”
First, the Harpy and Centaur elders needed to be made nobles, no matter what obstacles Duke Alcrem faced in doing so.
Meanwhile, the thorned shield of the duke, Vandalieu, was dancing with Darcia and enjoying the delicious food that had been prepared for the event.
The delicious food was considerably inferior to the food produced by his nation, but enjoying the atmosphere was an important part of ‘eating out’… And there was no effort needed to eat food prepared by others.
“This dress that you tailored for me is really popular. I’ve been asked so many times where I got the fabric,” said Darcia.
“It’s because you’re the one wearing it, Mom,” said Vandalieu. “Thanks to you, I’ve managed to create some good publicity for honey silk.”
With this, honey silk… the honey-colored silk created by the Gehenna Bees, would become popular, mainly among the upper class. The secret trade with the capital of the Alcrem Duchy was going smoothly.
Since he suggested the reforms without me pushing him to, I need to give him a little something back in return, after all, Vandalieu thought.
The thorns that Duke Alcrem and Earl Morksi perceived were but a figment of their imaginations, however… though it was unlikely that they would realize that anytime soon.
“May I ask for your next dance, Darcia-dono?” asked Sergio of the Five Knights of Alcrem.
“Oh my,” said Darcia. “Are you sure you would be happy to dance with me, Sergio-san?”
“Of course!” said Sergio with a bow.
“Th-then after that, I would also like a dance!” said Ralmeya.
“Ralmeya-san… Perhaps you ought to be resting a little instead?” said Darcia.
Vandalieu had asked Duke Alcrem to keep no-good individuals from approaching Darcia; Duke Alcrem had instructed Sergio and Ralmeya to carry out that task by taking turns to dance with her. This prevented unmarried nobles and their children from approaching her.
“Well then, Vandalieu-dono, would you like to dance with me? We are of similar height, too,” said Baldiria.
“Please be gentle with me,” said Vandalieu.
While Darcia was dancing with Sergio and Ralmeya, Vandalieu danced with Baldiria. This was also to prevent impudent nobles from trying to introduce their daughters or sisters to him.
Thanks to the efforts of the Five Knights of Alcrem, the party proceeded without trouble and no tragic bloodshed occurred.
Incidentally, the last of the Five Knights, Bravatiyu, was unable to eat anything for the entire party, as he was some distance away from Vandalieu and Darcia and busy watching the movements of the more foolish nobles.
《The Level of the ‘Dancing’ Skill has increased!》