Thank you all so much for supporting me during my quarantine! I will squeeze out two more chapters, one Friday (tomorrow) and one Saturday. I will probably go outside my house for the first time in 2 weeks on Sunday, but I might get some translation done then too lol
This chapter’s sponsors: Shaun B. ($20) Kevin S. ($30) Tristan R. ($100)
Volume 12: The Demon King’s Continent
Each and every fragment of him experienced an intense brightness that felt like it was searing his vision.
None of them had forgotten the agony of his entire body being cut into pieces, nor the humiliation of being locked away.
At first, they were possessed by violent emotions that drove them mad. Both those emotions and their reasoning sought for an opportunity to turn the tables on his enemies, and as they hectically searched through his memories for any experience that could be of use, his Mana, his spirit, and his ambitions welled up and seethed inside of him.
But over time, every fragment of him became calm. They stopped all activity and waited for the time to come, as if they had become inanimate objects.
Curiously, although they were divided and isolated, each fragment of him reached the same answer.
“Bellwood, the other champions, Alda, Vida, and even Rodcorte who pretends to be an expert, none of them are capable of doing more than splitting a soul into multiple parts. None of them are able to destroy one. Because only I, the Demon King Guduranis, am capable of that!”
Thus, the fragments of Guduranis’s soul continued to wait for an opportunity. An opportunity to become whole once more and exact revenge upon Bellwood and his allies.
Although they understood that the chance of such an opportunity coming by was close to zero, they continued to wait, vindictive and persistent.
It was not that Guduranis did not admit his defeat.
He had perceived Zakkart and the others as a great threat, as they had turned Guduranis’s own subordinates against him and strengthened the inferior organisms using strange tools. As a result, he had underestimated Bellwood and the other combat-related champions who had no talents other than their ability in combat… in other words, the enemies that were easy to understand and mundane to him. He had no excuse for that.
Even Guduranis had not been able to predict that they would abandon the things they needed to protect and risk extinction in order to carry out a desperate attack. He had been unaware that they were cornered into a position where they had only two choices – victory or ruin – and he had let his guard down.
As a result, Guduranis had been defeated by Farmaun Gold, Nineroad, and Bellwood.
Guduranis was from a world where the moral and ethical views of humans did not apply. The only rule he acknowledged was survival of the fittest.
Powerful beings had the right to devour, steal from, and trample over the weak. Because Guduranis was powerful, he had ruled over his subordinates as the Demon King and tried to steal the world of Lambda from its weak gods and humans. But he had been defeated by Bellwood because he had been weak. That was all.
Yes, Guduranis had been defeated. There was no way to deny that. But if there was an opportunity for vengeance, he would reach out for it without hesitation. If he could take revenge, he would. There was no reason to be ashamed of doing so. It was Bellwood and the others’ fault for not having the power to destroy him completely, after all.
And then, one day, after countless long years of waiting, the fragments of Guduranis’s soul that were sealed away in the Divine Realms of Rodcorte and Alda, the God of Law and Fate, realized something.
Someone, a being other than him, was taking possession of his body.
“This is absurd! Even the champions who defeated me were forced to seal my body away, unable to destroy it completely… and yet, someone is taking possession of it instead of being possessed by my fragments?!”
It was difficult to believe, but the fragments of Guduranis’s soul were unaware of what had been happening in Lambda for the past hundred thousand years. Thus, not a single one of the soul fragments could deny the sensation that he was feeling as ‘impossible.’
“Someone is stealing my body from me and is taking it in rather than being taken over by it… Does he plan to replace me?! Curse you… Curse you! I will not allow this! I will never allow this!”
The fragments of Guduranis’s soul felt an intense fear and hatred towards the being that was trying to replace him as Demon King, and he felt an agonizing sense of humiliation that drove him mad.
If that being had the same ability to destroy souls, then that would mean that they were capable of truly destroying the Demon King Guduranis. They were a being that he needed to be even more wary of than the detestable Bellwood.
The soul fragments of the Demon King Guduranis had become aware of Vandalieu’s existence due to Vandalieu acquiring the ‘Great Demon King’ Job, and they were filled with a maddening rage like the rage he felt a hundred thousand years ago, but before long, they calmed down again as if nothing had happened at all.
The seals on the fragments of Guduranis’s soul were far more powerful than the ones on the fragments of his body, and they were watched over by Rodcorte and Alda themselves. No matter how much rage Guduranis felt, he could not break them.
Thus, he decided to wait until the opportunity to destroy the new Demon King came.
In his Divine Realm, Rodcorte noticed that there was something strange about the seal on the fragments of Guduranis’s soul.
“The fragments of the Demon King’s soul are trembling? … Is this because of Vandalieu?”
Rodcorte knew of only one being that could possibly have an effect on faraway fragments of the Demon King.
However, so far, Vandalieu had only affected the seals on the fragments of the Demon King’s body. And even then, he had only caused fragments whose seals were coming apart or those who were already taking over an infested host to rampage out of control. Fragments that were firmly sealed and under appropriate management had been unaffected.
And yet, Vandalieu was having an effect even on the fragments of the Demon King’s soul…
Rodcorte briefly thought of Edgar, whose soul had been treated using powdered fragments of the Demon King’s soul, but he quickly dismissed the thought.
“It must be because Vandalieu has absorbed a large number of fragments,” he told himself.
He had only just returned Edgar to Lambda, and he probably hadn’t done anything yet, so the possibility that this was what had affected the fragments of the Demon King’s soul was out of the question.
But Vandalieu had absorbed even more fragments of the Demon King after devouring Zerzoregin, the Evil God of Cannibalism and Pillaging. Perhaps the Demon King’s soul was resonating or something because Vandalieu had grown even closer to being the Demon King.
“The soul is not beginning to recognize Vandalieu as its main body like the body fragments do, is it? If it is, it would not be good, but… No, that is not possible.”
The fragments of the Demon King’s body did not possess Guduranis’s consciousness or intelligence, so they had simply mistaken Vandalieu for their main body. In contrast, the fragments of the Demon King’s soul were Guduranis himself, and they would not mistake Vandalieu for their main body.
Upon reaching this conclusion, Rodcorte turned his attention away from the fragments and towards Origin and Lambda.
Meanwhile, in the suburbs outside the ‘town’ in Alda’s ‘Trial Dungeon,’ three members of the Five-colored Blades were sparring with the newly-returned Edgar.
“Damn! The three of you have gotten pretty strong, haven’t you?!” said Edgar.
“Of course we have!” said Jennifer as she parried Edgar’s dagger. “Did you think we were slacking off while you and Heinz were away?”
“Losing to that guy made us think about a lot of things… but if we just sat around thinking, our bodies would have gotten weaker and our brains wouldn’t be working as well!” said Delizah.
“Training was also good stress relief,” added Diana.
The majority of this Dungeon had suffered catastrophic damage from Vandalieu’s World Piercing Destructive Hollow Cannon, a spell that seemed to be capable of piercing a hole in the world itself, and the god who had managed the Dungeon, the God of Records Curatos, had been destroyed.
This ‘town’ was a recreation of a town from the Age of the Gods, and although it was possible to stock up on food and purchase arms here, the people populating it had disappeared.
However, the Dungeon’s trials were still functioning, although they were limited to only the trials that the party had already cleared once before and the trials that they were supposed to face much later.
Jennifer and Diana, whose souls had not been damaged by Vandalieu, and Delizah, whose soul had been damaged but only lightly, had been challenging themselves by facing these trials once more.
“It was pretty tough, being two people short… Alright, let’s call it a day!” said Delizah, putting the sparring session to an end as Jennifer stopped her fist a moment before it landed on Edgar’s body.
Edgar sheathed his dagger and wiped the sweat from his forehead. “You guys have surpassed me by so much. I’m no match for how fast young people learn.”
“What are you saying? You’re sounding like a middle-aged man,” laughed Jennifer.
“I’m already in my thirties, after all. But don’t call me middle-aged, I’m not that old yet,” said Edgar.
As he raised his arm to wipe his sweat away with his sleeve once more, Diana offered him a small towel.
“I’m so relieved. Not only do you have no lasting damage, but your ability in battle hasn’t suffered either, Edgar-san. The sharpness of your movements and techniques is exactly as we remember them,” Diana said with a smile.
Damage to the soul would normally cause significant permanent damage, such as memory loss, personality changes, numbness in parts of the body, and hallucinations. Jennifer, Delizah, and Diana had been told of this by the gods. They had been told that Heinz’s treatment would take between several months to a year, but such after-effects could be prevented.
However, they had also been told that Edgar’s soul had suffered deep wounds, and even if he was treated, it was unclear as to whether he would be able to return to being an adventurer.
And yet, Edgar had shown in his sparring session with Jennifer that his movements were just as sharp as before, so this was a big relief to the others.
“I haven’t noticed anything strange since you came back, and there doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with whatever’s inside your head, either… There’s nothing wrong with you, right?” said Jennifer.
“Hmm, come to think of it… For the life of me, I can’t remember the face and name of the childhood friend I promised to marry!” Edgar shouted, clutching his head.
“What?! Really?!” Jennifer said in panic.
“You don’t have a childhood friend like that. We grew up in the Mirg shield-nation, remember?” said Delizah, revealing Edgar’s lie.
“You were lying?!” Jennifer said with an annoyed look.
“That’s not very funny,” said Diana.
“Sorry, I couldn’t help myself,” Edgar apologized. “I don’t have any memories of when I was being treated. My head was cut off by Curatos who had Martina’s appearance, I blacked out, and then the next thing I knew, I was back in this ‘town.’ It’s been three… no, four months since then? I can’t believe I was out for so long that the season’s changed.”
Unlike Heinz, who was able to converse with the Goddess of Slumber Mill, Edgar had been unconscious during the time he was undergoing Rodcorte’s treatment. That was how critical a state his soul had been in.
But despite that, Edgar didn’t feel anything out of the ordinary, though perhaps this was only normal – One would immediately realize when their body was wounded, but it was normally impossible for them to perceive damage to the soul while they were still alive.
In the living state – in other words, a state where the soul resided in the body – the body would die long before the soul could be wounded heavily enough to cause lasting damage.
Edgar’s soul becoming so heavily wounded was a rare occurrence that had occurred for two reasons: Firstly, in this Dungeon, his soul inhabited an exact copy of his body that had been created through Curatos’s divine authority, and secondly, his enemy had been Vandalieu, a being who could devour and destroy souls.
“So you don’t know what kind of god treated you?” asked Jennifer.
“No. I hope it was a kind goddess, but… it might have been Niltark,” said Edgar.
Edgar had received his divine protection from Niltark, the God of Judgment. After being treated and returning to this ‘town,’ he had received a Divine Message telling him that he had been treated using fragments of the destroyed soul of the heroic spirit Luke.
However, neither he nor the gods were aware that Luke’s soul fragments had not been enough, and Rodcorte had also used powdered fragments of the Demon King Guduranis’s soul.
“Well, as you can see, I’ve been fixed up pretty well. I’ve gotta be grate–”
Just as Edgar was about to say ‘grateful,’ he suddenly stopped mid-sentence. He froze in place, and his gaze wandered into the distance.
“Hey, what’s the matter?” asked Delizah, bringing him back to his senses.
“No, it’s nothing. I was just thinking about something,” Edgar replied immediately, but that wasn’t true.
A number of strange images had suddenly appeared in his vision.
A bizarre creature that looked like a cross between a rhinoceros beetle and an octopus running away, a sky with a shimmering, distorting sun and clouds with as many colors as the rainbow, unfamiliar people screaming as they scrambled about trying to flee.
And finally, a young man whose entire body was shining, swinging his blade down towards Edgar.
What was that creature and that sky? Even if that thing was a monster, I would definitely remember seeing a monster that disgusting. And that sky didn’t look like anything in this world. But I recognize the people running for their lives. Or rather, the clothes they were wearing, Edgar thought.
Before Curatos’s destruction, the ‘town’ had been populated with recreations of the people who lived during the Age of the Gods. The clothes worn by the people in Edgar’s vision were similar to the ones worn by them.
Seeing that there were people from the Age of the Gods, does that mean it was one of Luke’s memories? No, Luke didn’t exist a hundred thousand years ago. Then what was it…? And that last scene. Why was I being cut down by Bellwood? Edgar wondered.
The young man in his vision looked exactly like the Heroic God Bellwood, whose statues stood in Churches of Alda, the God of Law and Fate.
Was that just a coincidence? To begin with, was there any meaning to these memories at all?
“Edgar, what’s the matter? You’re tired after all, aren’t you?” said Jennifer, before Edgar could think about it too deeply.
“He must be. It is possible that he has accumulated fatigue in his body without realizing it. Shall we rest for the remainder of the day?” said Diana.
Edgar turned his attention away from the memories and back to his companions. “No, I was just thinking about things. A lot has happened, after all.”
“Yes. While you and Heinz were absent, we thought about the things that boy… the things that Vandalieu said. And we discussed them,” said Diana.
Edgar was referring to the strange memories in his mind, but Diana seemed to have thought he was talking about the things said by Vandalieu, the one who had damaged his soul.
But still, Vandalieu’s words were also something that Edgar could not ignore.
“… Yeah. I’ve always wondered about Ghouls,” said Edgar.
There were some who thought that Ghouls, who could speak the human language and acquire Jobs, were actually people – a race created by Vida, not monsters. Edgar wasn’t the only one; Heinz and Delizah thought so as well.
But even Heinz and his companions, the leaders of Alda’s peaceful faction, could not advocate for them. The reason for that was –
Suddenly, the artificial sun that had been recreated in the sky above the ‘town’ suddenly grew brighter.
It was so bright that Edgar and his companions couldn’t keep their eyes open; they clamped their eyes shut and prepared themselves for danger.
Was this half-destroyed Dungeon finally reaching its limit?
But rather than the disastrous noise of the Dungeon collapsing, they heard the voice of their companion instead.
“… Everyone, I’m back.”
The brightness faded abruptly, and when they opened their eyes, there was Heinz, who had finished being treated by the Goddess of Slumber Mill.
“Heinz, you’re back!” cried Diana, rushing over.
“Are you alright?!” asked Jennifer.
“Yes, I’m fine, thanks to Mill who treated me, and… Joshua, who protected me,” Heinz replied before turning to look at Edgar. “Edgar, I’m glad you’ve managed to return to normal as well. Mill told me that there might be some lasting damage to your memories and your body, so I was worried about you.”
“I’m glad you care about me so much, but you were in a similar position, weren’t you? And you’re one to talk. You did spend longer than me in treatment, even if it was only by a day,” Edgar said in a lightly joking tone.
“Well, unlike you, I was conscious during my treatment,” said Heinz, smiling.
“I’m glad you both made it back safely, but now that the five of us are together, we have to make a decision, don’t we? About what the Five-colored Blades will do next,” said Delizah.
Heinz nodded, his smile fading and being replaced by a serious expression.
The Five-colored Blades had been reunited, but they were standing at a crossroads.
Their defeat at Vandalieu’s hands, the suspension of their trials due to the Dungeon’s collapse, the destruction of Curatos, Joshua, and Luke. And most importantly, the fact that the forces of Vida’s faction were being gathered in the region within the Boundary Mountain Range by Vandalieu, whom Alda called the Demon King.
Would the party stay together, or would they disband? Would they continue being a part of Alda’s peaceful faction, which advocated for harmony with Vida’s races, or would they change their stance? Would they fight against Vandalieu once more, or would they flee far, far away?
They didn’t know if they would be able to accomplish any of these things, but they had to choose.
“… While I was being treated by Mill, I was thinking the whole time, while listening to the information that the gods know about Vandalieu,” said Heinz. “First, he is different from the Demon King that we know, the one that is taught about by the Church of Alda. If we judge him by the teachings of Alda, the God of Law and Fate, he is an atrocious fiend. An absolutely evil being. But…”
Vandalieu had absorbed a large number of Demon King fragments, which were considered taboo, and was in full control of them. On top of that, he had created countless Undead and destroyed gods by devouring their souls.
“But on the other hand, he has saved so many members of Vida’s races… and so many people, including believers of Alda as well. While we were stuck here, he protected a city while defeating an evil god who was hiding in the Alcrem Duchy,” Heinz continued. “Honestly, at this point, he’s saved and protected more people than we have… all kinds of people, not just members of Vida’s races.”
The gods of Alda’s forces viewed Vandalieu’s actions as being self-serving. Unlike Guduranis, Vandalieu lived in this world, and they believed that he was only protecting the world so that he could survive in it.
But Heinz was not a god, and viewed Vandalieu’s actions as another inhabitant of this world.
“An evil god?!” Edgar exclaimed. “So, he’s grown even stronger…”
“Yeah. He also apparently destroyed Fitun, the God of Thunderclouds,” said Heinz. “Fitun descended upon Lambda and took over a young boy who was apparently one of his worshippers, but…”
“He’s gone that far, huh. He probably won’t struggle against us at all now, will he?” said Edgar.
“Probably not,” Heinz replied.
Delizah and Diana turned pale.
“The other thing is our position in Alda’s peaceful faction,” Heinz continued.
“If it’s about the Ghouls, we’ve been discussing the matter as well, but we haven’t reached a conclusion,” said Delizah.
Heinz nodded, showing no sign of discouragement. “Yeah. That’s fine for us. We can’t do what Vandalieu has done.”
Ghouls might be a race that Vida had created. Heinz and his companions had been unable to voice this opinion in the Amid Empire, where the worship of the God of Law and Fate Alda was the nation’s official religion, but they had also failed to voice it in the Orbaume Kingdom.
The reason for that was that there was no meaning in simply claiming that they were a race created by Vida.
The worship of Vida was allowed in the Orbaume Kingdom. There were even dukes who were of races created by Vida – one Beast-kin, and one who had been born a Titan despite having two human parents due to atavism.
However, the Orbaume Kingdom was not a nation that treated Vida’s races favorably.
As proof of that, Vampires and Majin were considered to be a threat to humanity, so there were commissions posted at the Adventurers’ Guild to exterminate them. There were also races who were confined to their own autonomous territories, like Scylla.
Heinz and his companions had gained their titles as honorary nobles as a reward for having defeated a member of one of Vida’s races – Ternecia, a Pure-breed Vampire who worshipped an evil god.
Claiming that Ghouls were a race created by Vida would simply result in them being grouped with Vampires and Majin – the races that were considered dangerous. There would be no meaning in that.
The other thing was that the majority of Ghouls were unaware that their race was one that Vida had created. Like monsters, they attacked humans, ate their flesh if they were men, and transformed them to members of their own race if they were women.
Heinz did not have the ability to take leadership over such a race. He might be able to tell them that they were a race created by Vida and they should stop attacking humans, but whether the Ghouls believed him was another story.
Heinz had considered the possibility of acting as a guardian for Ghoul children, but others would view it as an attempt to tame monsters, so he would not be able to protect many of them that way.
And even if he did become a guardian for them, they would still be treated as tamed monsters. Once they became adults, he wouldn’t be able to release them; he would have to take them with him wherever he went or hand them over to a tamer.
That was why Heinz and his companions had kept quiet about Ghouls – making excuses that they were only delaying their action to save them, and that they could not afford to put all of their effort into helping only Ghouls.
Vandalieu had a guidance that made Ghouls obey him and a nation in which to keep them safe. On top of that, in the Alcrem Duchy, he had not only made the nobles there feel grateful for his deeds, but also struck a fear into them that they would be killed if they were to become his enemies. This had allowed him to quickly improve his social position and further secure a safe environment for Ghouls.
Heinz did not have any of these factors. His guidance was not of a kind that would exert a great effect on Ghouls that he had only just met, and he had no place where he could guarantee their safety.
“But I don’t intend to justify the fact that we haven’t been able to do anything. Vandalieu is a more worthy figure to advocate for harmony between humans and Vida’s races, and I believe he has the ability to do so as well. But it doesn’t change the fact that we aren’t able to do what he can do,” said Heinz.
“So, are we going to leave this Dungeon without fighting Vandalieu? But you, Edgar, and Delizah are mortal enemies to him. Won’t he go after you again?” said Jennifer in response to Heinz’s words, which seemed to defend Vandalieu.
“I heard from Delizah that his mother has returned to life, but… even so, it doesn’t seem like he is willing to forgive you,” said Diana, seeming to have the same concern.
“Well, I suppose that’s true. If a thief steals money from you, even if you earn that money back, that doesn’t make the thief innocent,” said Edgar.
“And we killed Vandalieu’s mother again, right in front of him,” added Delizah. “Even if it was a recreated fake, it doesn’t seem like that matters to him…”
Edgar and Delizah didn’t seem to think that Vandalieu would forgive them, either.
Thus, even if they went against Alda’s wishes and stopped targeting Vandalieu, it was difficult to imagine that Vandalieu would stop going after them.
“I know that. But before that, I want to confirm something with you, Jennifer, Diana,” said Heinz. “Vandalieu isn’t after your lives. But if you stay with us –”
“Don’t ask something you already know the answer to,” said Jennifer, interrupting him.
“I feel the same way as Jennifer,” said Diana.
If you two wanted to leave, I was planning to have you take care of Selen, who’s still waiting for us to return, Heinz thought with a bitter smile.
“Alright,” he said. “In that case, I will state my intention… I will fight Vandalieu and stop him, even if it means defeating him. Currently, he is not the Demon King, but… he may become the Demon King in several thousand years’ time, and even if he doesn’t, what he leaves behind will be more dangerous than the Demon King.’
Heinz had learned the information the gods knew about Vandalieu, and was aware that he had created a nation of Vida’s races, certain races of monsters, and Undead in the Boundary Mountain Range.
In that nation, under Vandalieu’s rule, the people enjoyed freedom and equality that was greater than in the Orbaume Kingdom, and even greater than what Alda’s peaceful faction was aiming for.
Heinz could not help being vexed at the difference that existed between himself and Vandalieu despite them both being Guiders.
However, at the same time, he had also come to realize the danger of that nation.
Vandalieu’s nation only existed in union because of the existence of its ruler. Unlike the rulers of other nations, Vandalieu was irreplaceable.
Vandalieu’s existence made Vida’s races cooperate with one another, made monsters intelligent and gentle, and allowed Undead to act and live in rational ways as if their personalities from when they were alive were still intact.
But what if Vandalieu were to disappear? The power of a guider could not be inherited, no matter how strong the blood ties were.
And even if he didn’t disappear, what if Vandalieu began oppressing the people, having become too proud after ruling over the nation for so long?
If such a time were to come, the world would be in danger.
“I intend to stand before him once more to ask him these questions and, depending on his answers, to stop him. Of course, if I were to do that right now, I’d be killed before even having a chance to ask these questions, so it will have to be after we finish the remaining trials in this Dungeon and become stronger,” said Heinz.
“Get stronger, you say… The only trials that are still intact other than the ones we’ve already cleared are the last ten floors. Even though we don’t die in these trials, there’s no telling how long it will take us to clear them,” said Edgar.
“And during that time, Vandalieu will grow even stronger. At this rate, the difference will never shrink,” said Delizah.
“It’s alright,” said Heinz with a nod. “The Heroic God Bellwood slumbers in the deepest part of this Dungeon. The purpose of this Dungeon is to awaken him and grant us a Skill that allows us to summon him upon our bodies. Bellwood once summoned Alda, the God of Law and Fate, upon his body and defeated the Demon King Guduranis. We need to become as powerful as him.”