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Without warning, Banda had declared that he would be taking Hiroshi and Mei into his custody. Narumi immediately began to voice her objections – as would be expected of any mother.
But Amemiya waved her down. “Is the situation that bad?” he asked Banda quietly.
“Yes,” said Banda. “I think you’ll get some idea of how bad it is if you have a look using one of the devices in this facility. Is there one available?”
“Let’s use one of Moriya and the others’ mobile devices, then,” said Iwao. “I’m sure they didn’t block off their own communications… Got it.”
He took a mobile device from one of their corpses, which had miraculously not been destroyed during the battle, and began tapping on its screen to access the internet and look at the news.
“W-what is this… Did Rikudou do something else as well?” he muttered.
On the device’s screen, they could see the part of this underground facility that was above ground. But it had changed considerably since Iwao and the other Bravers infiltrated it.
All of the land surrounding the facility had been scorched to a crisp, and amidst the smoke, an enormous white dome had been built around the facility. The surface of this dome had a countless number of eyeballs and mouths, and it was pulsating ominously.
The news article was reporting that Sergei Dallant had seized control over the Federal States government through a coup d’état and declared himself the new president, and that he was proclaiming: “This is God!”
The leaders of the various groups that worshiped the Eighth Guidance, who had been refraining from protesting against the Bravers in recent years, had come together to make a statement. They had declared: “President Sergei Dallant’s proclamation is correct. He is the God of Death, the one that is worshiped by Pluto, our Goddess. He is the ‘Undead.’”
But there were plenty of other articles about this incident with titles such as “A monstrosity created by the Nordic Federation’s magic experiments, or possibly a new weapon developed by the Chinese Republic that has gone out of control” and “Johnny Yamaoka, an alien that arrived from outer space.” It seemed that the statements of Sergei, who had just become president by carrying out a coup d’état in a democratic country, and the Eighth Guidance, which most of the world regarded as a cult, weren’t completely trusted.
But because the Federal States was the only nation that had announced its official stance, and because the mass media was putting out all kinds of articles because they were just as bewildered by these events as the public, misinformation was being spread alongside the truth.
… It was difficult to imagine that this world had any investigative agencies or journalists capable of discerning the truth on their own, so it was to be expected that misinformation would spread.
And simply looking at images or footage of Vandalieu’s soul was causing all kinds of symptoms – People were fainting, experiencing visual and auditory hallucinations, or suddenly showing crazy behavior. Chaos was quietly spreading.
The fact that there was no mass hysteria just yet was because Vandalieu’s soul was simply remaining in place, posing no threat to anyone other than the Nordic Federation and Chinese Republic soldiers that were attacking him.
There was also the fact that many governments and organizations were currently effectively paralyzed for reasons that were unrelated to Vandalieu, so things couldn’t really get much more chaotic than this.
… If the world were to discover that the corpses of the missing presidents, prominent politicians, bosses of important organizations, and directors of large media companies were inside the underground facility directly beneath Vandalieu’s soul, things would have become even more chaotic.
“What are we supposed to do about this? It’s being reported that the Chinese Republic and Nordic Federation are about to take military action,” said Iwao.
“Are we supposed to fight against this thing next?” said Derrick.
“Wait, Iwao, Derrick. I’m sure this is Banda’s main body, Vandalieu. I remember seeing him in my dreams,” said Joseph.
“Are you serious?!” Iwao and Derrick shouted simultaneously.
“He is correct,” said Banda. “I’ve spread myself out around this facility to suppress Rikudou’s shockwaves of death, so please don’t fight me. If you open up a hole, the remaining shockwaves of death will leak out.”
Iwao and Derrick hastily nodded their heads.
Meanwhile, the children were calm.
“So that thing’s you, Banda. It’s not shining like you were when I saw you, but you do look similar,” said Hiroshi.
“Banda, you’re that big round thing? You have lots of mouths. It must be hard to brush all those teeth,” said Mei.
As expected, it seemed that there was a significant difference in the reactions and mental impact depending on whether one had previously received Vandalieu’s influence or not.
“You were right. I have no idea how we’re supposed to bring this situation under control,” said Amemiya. “If the missing presidents were still alive…”
“Unfortunately, they’re all dead,” Banda informed him.
“Those guys are floating around you, you know?” said Mei.
“… I see. Unfortunately, we can’t have spirits testify on the witness stand,” said Amemiya with a bitter smile, truly at a loss.
The situation was so out of hand that bringing it under control was beyond the ability of him and the remaining Bravers.
The Bravers were a globally-known organization and had considerable popularity among people who knew them as heroes, but they were an international organization that didn’t belong to any one nation. They received requests from all over the world and accepted them as missions.
Therefore, the organization didn’t have any power.
Of course, as an international organization, they had connections to important politicians and military personnel all over the world, but… those connections had been managed by Rikudou, the culprit behind this whole fiasco. Most of the politicians and military personnel that the Bravers had connections with had been his collaborators.
Under normal circumstances, Amemiya’s voice would be quite influential, as he was the leader of the Bravers, but given that one of his own close friends had been the mastermind behind these events, bringing the situation under control would be difficult for him.
“If only we had at least one contact that I could rely on,” Amemiya lamented.
“That’s impossible now, isn’t it? I mean, just about every leader of every important nation has died,” said Iwao. “Nobody will trust us now, either…”
“I’m sure President Sergei Dallant would help you,” said Banda. “And I’m sure he’ll be able to do some of the heavy-handed work, given that he came into power through a coup d’état.”
It wasn’t only Amemiya, but Joseph and Nanamori as well, who were surprised by this suggestion. After all, none of them knew that Sergei was a secret worshiper of the Eighth Guidance, and even if they had known, they weren’t previously acquainted, so they had no idea if they would be able to trust him under these circumstances or not.
And there was no possible way that Banda, who was bound to Mei, had any connection with Sergei, a soldier of the Federal States.
But Banda was talking about Sergei as if he were an old friend.
“Could it be… You met him in your dreams, just like us?” asked Mari.
“Well, you’re not wrong about that, but…” Banda said ambiguously.
He didn’t want to admit that a part of him had become a part of the God of Origin.
Because a part of him was a part of the God of Origin, Banda knew what President Sergei Dallant was currently thinking, and knew everything he saw and heard.
Banda… or rather, Vandalieu, didn’t know anything else, but he could say that Sergei would be able to help the Bravers.
“I see… Then let’s have the new president help us,” Amemiya said. “And if we investigate this facility, I’m sure we’ll find records of the things Rikudou and his subordinates did and the data from their experiments. They probably weren’t thinking about covering up the evidence in the event they were defeated, and they shouldn’t have even had time for that.”
“In fact, it was the Nordic Federation and the Chinese Republic that intended to make the entire facility self-destruct in order to bury the evidence, but it seems that they failed. So now, they’ve deployed their armies and are trying to attack the facility as we speak,” said Banda.
“What?!” exclaimed Narumi. “Then we need to get out of –”
“Ah, don’t worry about it too much. I’ll deal with things on the outside. More importantly, let’s return to the previous topic of discussion,” said Banda.
Being told that they were under attack by the armies of two large nations, but also that there was no need to worry, Narumi blinked in confusion. But Vandalieu’s soul’s strength of presence had increased to the point where there really was no need for concern.
When it was nothing more than his ‘Embodied’ soul, making any movement at all in Origin had caused him mental fatigue.
But now, a part of him had become a part of the God of Origin. Vandalieu was a being that belonged to another world, but at the same time, he was also a being of this world. Thus, he had become able to ‘Embody’ his soul more strongly than before.
Although he still wasn’t as stable as when his body and soul were united, he could now wield his power about as freely as Banda.
“So, you’re going to take Mei and Hiroshi into your care, along with Bokor and the other experimental subjects, and the victims who were kidnapped. Where exactly do you plan to keep them?” asked Amemiya.
“Wait, why does this mean you have to take Mei and Hiroshi?!” demanded Narumi, shocked that her husband was willing to allow this to happen. “The incident is over, and it looks like we’ll be able to get the situation under control, so –”
“Narumi, even with the president’s cooperation, there’s no telling how long it will take to get the situation under control. It won’t just be a month or two. It’ll be difficult for us to keep Hiroshi and Mei safe during that time on our own,” Amemiya said calmly. “The Federal States is powerful, but not to the point that it can fend off every other nation at once. We don’t know if things will end peacefully with the Nordic Federation and the Chinese Republic, and we don’t know what stance the other countries will take, either. After all, the leaders of most developed nations were Rikudou’s accomplices, and they’re dead now.”
Even if the truth was revealed to the citizens of every nation, or even if it wasn’t, the chaos would continue for a long time. It was even possible that this incident would cause a Second World War to break out in Origin.
“And we Bravers are in a precarious position as well,” Amemiya continued. “If we were ordinary soldiers or politicians, we could accept responsibility by resigning or going to prison, but… we’re a little special after all.”
It was the Bravers who had resolved this incident, but it was also the Bravers that had been behind it – though this didn’t make the crimes of the politicians who had sided with Rikudou any less significant.
But it was possible that some countries would conduct an all-out offense on the ‘Bravers’ in the name of self-protection and carrying out justice. If the Bravers were any other international organization, Amemiya would simply need to take responsibility, but… even if he were to resign, he possessed abilities that even powerful nations would need to be wary of. In fact, it would be even more inconvenient if he was no longer a part of the organization, as he would be free to do as he pleased. And even though there were ways to seal away an individual’s ability to use magic, there was no way to seal away cheat-like abilities.
“And sooner or later, the world is going to find out that Mei possesses death-attribute Mana,” Amemiya added. “Once that happens, there’s sure to be people all over the world who will come after her – both people who want to acquire the power of the death attribute for themselves, and people who believe that the death attribute is so dangerous that anyone related to it must be erased from existence.”
Although Amemiya didn’t know of this, the Federal States was already aware of Mei. Sergei intended to create a facility to keep her safe, but… it was already impossible for her to live an ordinary life.
Thus, if Banda was able to provide a place where Mei and Hiroshi could live safely, then it was an option that needed to be considered.
“But still…” said Narumi.
She understood what Amemiya was saying, but it seemed that she still found it emotionally difficult to accept.
“Mama…” Mei murmured anxiously, sensing a change in Narumi’s behavior.
Hiroshi seemed uncertain as well.
Banda was left with no choice. “It seems that Meh-kun’s Mama is misunderstanding things – I’m not going to adopt Hiroshi and Meh-kun. I’m just going to look after them. I’ll even make sure you can visit,” he said.
“Really?” said Narumi.
“Yes, really. Meh-kun and Hiroshi being separated from their parents wouldn’t be good for them, after all. Daily visits are impossible, but… I’ll put in some effort so that you can see them once a month,” Banda decided. “And once things have settled down enough for Meh-kun to live here safely, I’ll return them to you.”
Narumi seemed to have assumed that Banda would take Mei and Hiroshi somewhere far away; the tension visibly left her shoulders when she heard his promise of monthly visits.
“Are you being serious? Is there really a place where countries and organizations all over the world can never reach them, but we can still visit once a month?” Amemiya asked in disbelief.
“There’s no way a place so convenient could possibly exist. I simply have to make the effort to allow you to see each other,” said Banda. “But rather than go into more detail, I suppose it would be better to show you… Let’s go.”
With a noise that sounded like the cracking of glass, the space in front of him broke open.
It was a meeting that took place over a single instant, but to the gods, it was several minutes’ worth of time. Banda… or rather, Vandalieu, came face to face with his new self.
“Nice to meet me, although I am rather reluctant to admit that this is me,” Banda said.
“Nice to meet me. But I think the self-denial is rather unnecessary, isn’t it? It will be a hindrance in maintaining a healthy state of mind,” said his other self.
To an ordinary person, this would look like a meeting between evil beings. In front of Banda was a dome-shaped being with countless mouths and eyes on its surface, and a beautiful girl with an ephemeral air about her was snuggled up against it.
Other than its size, the dome-shaped being looked identical to the ‘Embodied’ soul of Vandalieu that was surrounding Rikudou’s main headquarters.
“If I’m me, then I understand how I feel, don’t I?” said Banda.
“Of course I do, me. I didn’t become a god because I wanted to. But now that I have, it can’t be helped,” said his counterpart.
“… I suppose that’s true.”
“And as for me, it was my own actions that caused me to become this way. Though this is difficult to accept.”
“Yes, I know. Though I can’t accept this as reaping what I sowed.”
The reason Vandalieu had come into existence as a part of the God of Origin was because of Vandalieu’s own decisions and actions.
The God of Origin was an amalgamation of gods, and the deities that it was comprised of came and went as the world’s people’s worship and fear of them fluctuated.
Vandalieu had ‘Embodied’ his soul in this world, appearing as an enormous dome, forgetting about the existence of artificial satellites. This act alone was enough to cause a new deity to be added.
But President Sergei Dallant had also boldly announced to the people that this grotesque dome was Vandalieu… the same being as the ‘Undead’ that was worshiped by the Eighth Guidance.
If he had remained silent, a new grotesque deity that wasn’t Vandalieu would have been added to the God of Origin.
“In other words, everything is Rikudou’s fault,” said Banda.
It was Rikudou’s fault for unleashing a wide-ranged attack of indiscriminate destruction, so Banda didn’t blame President Sergei Dallant for what had happened.
“Indeed. If he is reincarnated in Lambda, please destroy him thoroughly this time,” said the dome-shaped Vandalieu.
“Please leave it to me – or so I say, but it will be my main body, not me, who will be doing that,” said Banda.
The two Vandalieus were in agreement.
“Personally, I’m delighted that Vandalieu has joined me,” said the Pluto who was also a part of the God of Origin. “And there will be things that you can only do now that you’ve become a god.”
The Vandalieus agreed with her as well.
The majority of humanity in Origin were aware of Vandalieu and either worshiped or feared him, so he was capable of wielding the majority of the power of the deities of Origin. This had allowed him to allocate more of their power to Amemiya Hiroto’s divine protection than originally intended so that he could succeed in defeating Rikudou.
He was also able to send a Divine Message to Sergei to instruct him to aid the Bravers, and he had become able to connect the worlds of Origin and Lambda… with far more ease than he had expected.
He had lost nothing and gained much by becoming a god.
“You’re right about that. It won’t cause more work for my main body and my other self, after all. Dealing with things in Origin will be my work as a part of the God of Origin,” said the dome-shaped Vandalieu. “And there’s no guarantee that this situation will continue for much longer. It’s no more than a temporary trend, after all. A century from now, perhaps the people will have forgotten about me.”
The number of deities within the God of Origin and their relative influence fluctuated with the people’s belief. Vandalieu was certainly the most influential deity within the God of Origin now, but he predicted that he would be forgotten over time, lose his power, and eventually fade from existence.
Pluto seemed to disagree, however. “I can’t imagine you’d disappear within a century or two. The fear you’ve stricken into people’s hearts in the Nordic Federation and Chinese Republic won’t be forgotten any time soon.”
“Well, we don’t have to worry about things that will happen a hundred years from now for another few decades,” the dome-shaped Vandalieu said. “By then, either the situation will be under control or so hopelessly out of control that nothing can be done about it.”
“I’ll be praying that it’s the former,” said Banda.
Amemiya and the others couldn’t hide their surprise by what became visible a moment after the sound of cracking glass echoed in the room.
“What city is this?” asked Derrick, stepping into what had been a solid wall of concrete just moments ago.
There was a park with brightly-colored flowers blooming in flowerbeds, trees with abundant green leaves, and numerous pieces of playground equipment. On the other side of the park, rows of buildings could be seen – two-story residences and housing complexes ranging from three to five stories in height.
“… Have we teleported to Japan? This says ‘Central Park’…” said an astounded Joseph, looking at a map that had been placed at the park.
There were several languages on the map, but the language at the top was Japanese.
“No, this isn’t Japan,” said Amemiya, looking around at his surroundings. “There’s not a single bird or insect, and we can’t hear any people or cars… And if you look around, there aren’t any traffic lights.”
“Wow! You’re right… Where is this, Banda?” asked Narumi.
“This is the refuge that I built for Meh-kun, Hiroshi, and everyone else. It’s located in a world that isn’t Origin… It’s an ‘Inner World’ inside my main body, which is in a different world that the reincarnated individuals will be reborn into for their next lives,” said Banda.
“What in the world do you mean by that?” asked Amemiya, who was unaware that he and the others would be reincarnated into yet another world after their deaths.
But it wasn’t Banda who answered him.
“This is what I mean,” said Vandalieu.
Amemiya immediately raised his guard at the sudden appearance of this unfamiliar boy, but Mei leapt out of Banda and ran past him towards Vandalieu.
“Banda!” she said happily.
“It’s our first time meeting like this, isn’t it, Meh-kun?” said Vandalieu, scooping her up into his arms.
Amemiya and Derrick, seemingly unable to immediately believe that Banda and Vandalieu were the same person, looked from one to the other with their eyes open wide in shock.
“Banda, nobody recognizes you because you don’t have any wriggle-wriggles, you know? Come on,” said Mei.
She thrust her hand into Vanda’s mouth, grabbed his tongue and stretched it out. Amemiya and Derrick seemed convinced by this.
“Meh-kun, I’m not impressed by you grabbing people’s tongues and pulling on them. And my mouth has fangs, so it’s dangerous. I’ll make some antennae, so please be more patient,” said Vandalieu.
“Are you Banda’s real body?” asked Hiroshi, who was no longer in his transformation equipment.
He was staring at what appeared to be an ordinary boy other than the fact that he had antennae and a very stretchy tongue.
“That’s right, Hiroshi,” said Vandalieu. “Give me a moment, I’ll make some more.”
“You don’t need to make more wriggle-wriggles for me,” said Hiroshi. “Wow, it’s really true. You’ve got the same fish-like eyes. And I’ve just noticed that your voice is the same… So, you’re just a kid about the same age as me, huh.”
“… I’m turning thirteen this year,” Vandalieu said.
“Huh? Really?! But you’re not much taller than I am!” Hiroshi exclaimed.
“Hiroshi, that’s because you’re tall for your age, and I’m short for mine,” said Vandalieu, dejected. “But I can grow bigger temporarily. And if you include the antennae, I think I’m pretty tall.”
“Yeah, yeah, you can grow more eyes, too, right? I get it, I get it already,” said Hiroshi.
As this conversation between the children (?) was taking place, Banda was telling Amemiya and the others about Lambda and their next lives.
“You did tell me about this ‘shelter,’ but I didn’t expect it to be like this,” said Joseph.
He, Youdou, and Nanamori were surprised despite having prior knowledge. But at the same time, it made sense to them.
Vandalieu was another reincarnated individual but there was an overwhelming difference in power between him and the others. And he had said that he would take Mei and the others into his care.
Indeed, even the greatest of nations would not be able to pursue Mei and the others if they were in another world.
“Lambda is a world with different laws of physics, so I have adjusted the environment in one of my ‘Inner Worlds’ accordingly. But with that said, this is an ‘Inner World’ inside my main body, so there is a risk of this world being affected if something happens to my main body,” said Banda.
“If something happens to your main body, you say… It’s difficult to imagine, but I suppose there’s a small chance if Rikudou and the others are reincarnated into your world,” said Amemiya.
“By the way, how will this world be affected? If this world is inside your body, then does that mean it will shake when you jump, fly, or leap around?” asked Derrick.
“No,” said Banda. “So far, my ‘Inner Worlds’ have been unaffected by me flying, leaping around, or even having holes made straight through my body. But we do suspect that they will be affected if I’m cut in two or have my entire body burned or crushed.”
Amemiya and the others had an expression of disbelief on their faces.
“… It seems like it would be better for them to stay inside your ‘Inner World’ rather than go out into the outside world,” said Amemiya.
“Yeah,” Derrick agreed. “No matter how safe a country is, there’s always a chance that a meteor will fall on it.”
Vandalieu possessed roughly the same physical capabilities as Banda, and when it came to magic, he possessed an even more vast quantity of Mana.
Banda was explaining the risks of the ‘Inner World,’ but Amemiya and the others couldn’t imagine that there were beings that were capable of harming him.
“Are there really enemies that can do that in Lambda?” Amemiya asked.
“Yes, there are. I’m not invincible, though I’m not sure if Rikudou will be reincarnated there or not,” replied Banda.
“… What a terrifying world. But I suppose it’s much safer than our world right now,” Amemiya said.
“Yes, I suppose so,” said Narumi. “But you said that the laws of physics are different. Is that going to be okay? Won’t the children’s bodies be affected by that?”
“I’ve thought of a way to counteract that,” said Banda.
Demon King Familiars that looked sinister due to their tentacles and jointed legs gathered around, carrying capsules and cultivation equipment that coincidentally resembled the capsule that Rikudou had used to cultivate the ‘Arch-Avalon’ body.
Banda pointed at the masses of flesh and lumps of gold inside the capsules. “I’ve prepared this equipment, and if I use these materials, I can remake one’s body into one that is adapted to Lambda,” he said. “Ah, but it won’t make them completely bald like Rikudou, and there shouldn’t be any changes to any other parts of the body, either. Even if there are, it will be things like a change in the color of their hair or their eyes.”
To go into the details of this process, a subject who entered one of these capsules would have their soul temporarily separated from their body and then returned to it after the body underwent alterations carried out using materials such as Life Gold, Soul Silver, and the Root of Life.
The process was similar to what Rikudou had done to be reincarnated into ‘Arch-Avalon.’ But the alterations to the body, carried out manually by Vandalieu (or rather, the Demon King Familiars), were far milder. It was a pseudo-reincarnation using a more primitive mechanism.
But maybe it’s coming off really badly because it’s so similar to what Rikudou did? It’s difficult to explain things to people who aren’t under my guidance… and trying to bribe them with V cream or Blood Potion will probably have the opposite effect, thought Banda. What should I –
While Banda and the Demon King Familiars were worrying about how this all appeared, Mari, who had been fervently listening to his explanation, suddenly climbed into one of the capsules.
“Huh?” Narumi uttered in surprise.
“H-hey!” said Derrick.
By the time it had occurred to either of them that they should try to stop Mari, the capsule had already closed, and the transformation equipment that she was wearing undid its transformation. The capsule was filled with a culture fluid from within, and she was surrounded by wriggling masses of gold and flesh.
“I-Is she going to be alright?” asked Amemiya.
“If she wasn’t, I wouldn’t be showing this equipment to you,” said Banda. “I’ve performed countless experiments with it… on myself.”
When Vandalieu tried to make one of his Inner Worlds into a world with an environment that closely matched Origin’s, he had run into a very large problem. Because Banda existed in Origin without any issues, Vandalieu had forgotten that because he was an organism of the world of Lambda, his body was ill-adapted for the environment of Origin.
Thus, Vandalieu had begun experiments and research, using his own body at first, to adapt it to Origin’s environment. Once he succeeded in performing the process on himself, he had tried it on plants that he had grown from his body. Once he succeeded with plants, he had used the people whose faces Braga and the other Black Goblins had torn off. After verifying all of the results, he had decided that the process was ready to be used, so he had prepared the equipment for this day.
“Mari-san, how do you feel?” asked Yukijoro.
She was calm, unlike Amemiya and the others, who were flustered.
“Hmm, it’s like my whole body is being massaged. I feel like my body’s going to melt,” Mari said in high spirits.
Amemiya and the others finally seemed to be convinced.
“… Alright. Please take good care of Mei and Hiroshi,” said Amemiya, bowing his head. “The victims and the experimental subjects, too. If you leave them with us, it might be a repeat of what happened with the Eighth Guidance.”
“Why are you making a request on our behalf?” asked Yukijoro.
“Do not worry about us,” said Bokor.
“… They’re right, but all the same, please take good care of them,” Amemiya said.
“You know, you two, at times like these, things might go better if you keep your mouth shut, even if you think differently,” said Mari.
“It’s alright. I was originally planning to take Yukijoro and the others into my care no matter what you people said,” said Banda.
Amemiya gave a wry smile. He sensed that discussing this topic any further would be pointless.
“… Is Rikudou going to be reincarnated in Lambda?” he asked, changing the subject.
“Who knows. Now that he has acquired the power of the death attribute, I’m sure Rodcorte won’t be pleased with him, so I don’t know what’s going to happen to him – Not that I know what Rodcorte’s thinking,” said Banda. “Ah, but Asagi, Tendou, and Akagi have come to my world. Not that I’ll relay any messages to them for you.”
“… So, Asagi’s been reborn, huh. But it seems like something’s already happened between you and him. I heard that you and he were friends?” said Amemiya.
Even Amemiya had been curious about the boy that Narumi had taken an interest in, whose name and appearance had been similar to his own. So he had asked his fellow reincarnated individuals about what kind of person Amamiya Hiroto had been, and the ‘Mage Masher’ Minami Asagi had been the one who gave the most detailed anecdotes about him.
But almost nobody remembered anything about Amamiya Hiroto other than Minami Asagi.
“… That statement would cause terrible damage to my reputation. I firmly deny it,” said Banda.
It seemed that Asagi’s anecdotes hadn’t been particularly accurate.
“Come to think of it, Kouya did tell me to not believe too much of what Asagi says,” said Amemiya. “Have Kouya and Mao been reincarnated as well?”
“Kouya… If you’re talking about Endou-san, if I recall, he’s become a familiar spirit of Rodcorte… something like an angel. Something about supporting the reincarnated individuals, along with Machida-san and Shimada-san,” said Banda. “I think the ‘Noah’ Mao Smith-san and the ‘Super Sense’ Gotouta-san have been reincarnated, but I haven’t met them. Also, I’ve destroyed ‘Chronos,’ ‘Odin, ‘Sylphid,’ ‘Marionette,’ ‘Gungnir,’ and ‘Death Scythe.’”
“… It sounds like there’s a lot going on in your world. If I had died with them back then, then I could have stopped Asagi… No, Asagi wouldn’t have stopped. It’s Asagi, after all,” Amemiya sighed.
Iwao, Joseph, and Nanamori were clutching their heads in regret.
“There were times when I felt his forceful personality was reliable, but… maybe that was a mistake,” said Iwao.
“When I was struggling mentally, I relied on him quite a lot…” added Joseph.
“I did warn you guys,” said Nanamori. “I told you, don’t drag out the relationships we had in our past lives. Well, not that I mean to defend what Murakami and the others did.”
Derrick suddenly looked up. “Speaking of Murakami, you didn’t mention ‘Venus’… Tsuchiya, Doug, and Saotome. There’s also Tanaka, Samejima, and Mackenzie. Haven’t you met them?” he asked.
“And do you know what happened to the ‘Gazer’ Minuma?” asked Amemiya.
“I haven’t met anyone called Mackenzie. Samejima-san has been reincarnated as the nephew of my subordinates, and Tanaka-san has been reincarnated as my master’s son,” Banda replied.
Samejima Yuuri had been reincarnated as Sarua Legston, nephew of Chezare, who served as the general and the prime minister, and his younger brother Kurt, who served as the lieutenant general. Tanaka Jin had been reincarnated as the stepson of the Pure-breed Vampire Zorcodrio, who had invented ‘Muscle Technique.’
“As for Kanako and the others… All I can say is that they have joined me and my companions. I’ve been asked to stay silent, so I can’t tell you any more than that,” said Banda.
Kanako had asked him to keep quiet about her, Doug, and Melissa if he got the chance to speak with Amemiya and the others. She had told him: “If you talk about how I’m engaged to you or about how I’m an idol, it’ll derail your conversation. And besides, I want the opportunity to tell them myself so I can see the look of surprise on their faces.”
As for Hitomi, who had become one of Legion’s personalities, she had told him: “If you tell them about my current form and what I am, they might misunderstand and distrust you, so just tell them that I’m one of your companions now.”
“I can understand Hitomi, but Tsuchiya and the others betrayed Murakami to join you?! … I don’t know if they were just doing the wise thing or if Murakami messed up so badly that they gave up on him, but are you sure you can trust them?” asked Derrick.
“I’m sure,” said Banda.
Derrick and the others regarded Kanako to be a traitor just like Murakami, so they seemed to find it questionable that she had become an ally of Vandalieu’s, but Banda’s answer was firm.
“Alright. I’ll trust your judgment,” Derrick said, sensing that asking any further questions would get him nowhere.
If it were Asagi in his place, he might have tried to question Banda further and get more answers. But Derrick was well aware that although Banda did trust him and the other Bravers to some extent, that trust wasn’t so deep.
As Derrick backed down, the Demon King Familiars rang a handbell to signal the completion of Mari’s process.
“Phew… I feel refreshed. What do you think? Do I look any different?” asked Mari as she emerged from the capsule.
Other than the fact that she had put her transformation equipment back on, she looked no different at all.
“Not even your hair or eyes have changed color,” said Banda.
“Then it looks like it was a success,” said Mari. “Now then, it’s time to decide what you’ll do. Of course, I’m going to Banda’s world… the world of Vandalieu and his companions. There’s no place for me back there, and I don’t want to go back to solitary confinement.”
Having reached her decision, she urged Amemiya and the others to make theirs. Nobody opposed her choice, nor did anyone try to stop her. As she said, there was no place left for her in Origin.
In fact, given that Mari had been Rikudou’s body double, it was possible that governments all over the world would try to kill her in order to cover up the evidence of their crimes.
She was already believed to be dead, so moving to another world was the most convenient choice for both her and for Origin.
A moment later, Gabriel and Ulrika arrived from the safe area that Banda and Hiroshi had created, accompanied by the other kidnapped victims, experimental subjects, and the Undead that Rikudou’s subordinates had created.
“Wow, we’re outside!” said one of the children.
“That girl is over there, too! Let’s go, everyone!” said another.
The children that had been confined and used as experimental subjects by Rikudou didn’t seem to have much of an understanding of what it would mean to go to another world, but they ran towards Mei with overjoyed expressions on their faces.
These children were orphans with no relatives; they had no homes to return to in Origin. And if they remained, it was possible that they would be targeted by people seeking to continue Rikudou’s research.
“Gabriel! I played a huge role in the battle!” Hiroshi said proudly.
“… Really?” Gabriel said, looking doubtful.
“I’m serious! I saved Dad and beat up a monster that was made of ice. Even Banda praised me!” Hiroshi said.
“He’s telling the truth, Gabriel,” said Bokor.
Naturally, Gabriel and the other experimental subjects would be crossing over into Lambda. The tragedy that befell the Eighth Guidance had to be avoided.
The Undead would go, too. They were under Mei’s command, so they couldn’t be separated from her.
“I heard what happened from the Ghosts. I think I will go to Lambda. I’m sorry, but… I don’t think I can live in a world without Banda, Mei-chan, and Hiroshi,” said Ulrika, making her choice.
Her mind was in a state where her sanity was only intact due to the support of Banda, Mei, and Hiroshi. Without them, it was possible that she would never recover.
“I’m sure Mei-chan and Hiroshi will feel more at ease having someone they know around. Please take care of them,” said Joseph.
“I think we’ll stay for a while longer. We have to help Mei and Hiroshi’s Papa and Mama, after all. We can’t leave it all up to Baker and the others,” said Youdou.
“If it doesn’t work out, we’ll come crying to you, so come and save us, okay?” said Nanamori.
And so, Joseph, Youdou, and Nanamori chose to stay behind.
“Ah, but could we keep this transformation equipment?” Joseph requested.
The helmets and capes of the transformation equipment given to these three had been made with far more effort than the hastily-made creations like the ones given to Derrick and Iwao that only covered the wearer in a rubber-like suit. Joseph considered their visual design to be a flaw, but their performance was so incredible that they were difficult to give up.
“I don’t mind. I’ll upgrade the function and designs of your equipment later. They’ll probably become more like suits of metal armor, though,” said Banda.
“… Could we not just receive them as they are?” Joseph asked.
“No. If you were to be harmed because I didn’t upgrade your equipment, I’d regret it so much that I’d descend upon Origin and roll around in frustration.”
Joseph imagined Vandalieu’s enormous soul descending over his enemies’ heads and bouncing around. His enemies would be flattened, but so would the mountains, hills, cities, and villages nearby.
“… Then please do,” said Joseph.
“I’m glad you understand,” said Banda.
This was the moment the Brave Warriors were born – Joseph, Youdou, and Nanamori. Ulrika felt apologetic for leaving it all to them, but at the same time, she was relieved. However, she remained unaware that she would face even harder times to come.
Banda finally turned to Amemiya and Narumi.
“It goes without saying that I’m staying behind. I don’t know how many years it will take, but I’m the one who allowed Rikudou to run rampant and do as he pleased, so it’s my responsibility to make things right,” said Amemiya, and then he turned to his wife. “But you…”
“No, I’m going to stay with you,” said Narumi.
Vandalieu and the others had thought that Amemiya would shoulder all the responsibility on his own, but Narumi seemed to have decided to stay with her husband in Origin.
“If staying would mean that I would never see my children again, I might have chosen to go with them, but… you’ll let me see them, won’t you?” Narumi said.
“Yes – though I can’t make any absolute promises that you’ll definitely be able to see them once a month,” said Banda. “I have my own circumstances to deal with, after all. But I promise that I’ll make my best effort.”
“Thank you. That promise is enough for me. I know what it’s like to live a life where you can’t plan for everything. And I know that you’re the kind of person who promises to make an effort, then goes beyond it.”
“… Just to make myself clear, I’ve always prioritized Meh-kun and Hiroshi’s happiness. So I don’t intend to exclude you from their lives.”
In truth, if Amemiya and Narumi had displayed behavior that showed that they were unworthy of being Mei’s parents… If they had rejected their daughter because she had been born with an affinity for the death attribute, or even tried to attack her, he would have ensured that they would never see her again.
Parents were important to their children, but Vandalieu knew very well from his own life in Origin that there were cases where children meant nothing to their parents – that there were parents whose children were better off without them.
But Amemiya and Narumi were not such parents to Mei and Hiroshi. With that being the case, Vandalieu’s opinion of them didn’t matter.
“Thank you,” Narumi said again. “I’m sure excluding us from their lives would make things easier for you, since you wouldn’t have to go to the trouble of connecting the worlds in order to let us see them… And I think that even if we were to go to your world, we’d cause nothing but trouble. I’m sure it’s a world where none of our common sense applies, too…”
“Well, I can’t deny that,” said Banda.
“And less than a day has passed since we found out about everything. It hasn’t really sunk in, so I’d like to take some time to calm down and think about it,” Narumi continued. “And we can’t just give up on everyone else in our world.”
Banda spun his head round and round, troubled by what Narumi was saying. Previously, he might have said that he couldn’t care less about Origin. But he couldn’t say that now.
Now, Origin had people that he had guided in his dreams – Sergei and the other worshipers of the Eighth Guidance – and Joseph and the others had said that they would stay behind. And most importantly, a part of him had become a part of the God of Origin.
“Mom! Dad! Don’t worry about me and Mei!” said Hiroshi, running over to his parents with Mei in his arms. “There have been times where we couldn’t see you guys except through the internet and TV before! This is no different from that. Just think of it as us going on a bit of an overseas homestay!”
“… That’s not the best parenting,” Banda remarked.
“Sorry about that,” Amemiya apologized.
Vandalieu decided that once this was over and the school’s entrance ceremony was done, he would go and see Bakunawa.
“In any case… I’m sorry, Hiroshi. But listen to Aunt Ulrika and the others, okay? And take good care of Mei,” said Amemiya.
“We’ll definitely come to see you again. We’re going to do our best to make sure we can live together again, okay?” said Narumi.
“Yeah… Yeah!” said Hiroshi.
“It’s alright, we’ll go and see you in our dreams!” said Mei.
“Ah… now that you mention it, we haven’t tested if we can meet each other through our dreams,” said Banda.
And so, the two connected worlds separated once more… but in reality, they were still connected.
After all, Vandalieu was now a part of the God of Origin.
“So, I’ll have to watch over Amemiya and Narumi, even though they don’t worship me… It can’t be helped. It’s for Meh-kun and Hiroshi’s sake,” he sighed.