Thanks to Alan D. ($150) for sponsoring this chapter!
Before Vandalieu and Pauvina returned to the Cursed Mansion – Silkie Zakkart Mansion – a carriage bearing the coat of arms of the house of Duke Alcrem stopped in front of it.
Several servants stepped out of the carriage. They and the coachmen were scared and perplexed by the presence they could sense beyond the open gate and trees, something that was observing them, even though there was nobody there.
But the carriage’s passenger pressed them on. They reluctantly pushed a woman on a wheelchair inside, leaving her in the mansion’s care, and then left.
Everyone was reacting with surprise after hearing Vandalieu and Pauvina’s stories after they got back from the Adventurers’ School… but the news that Vandalieu had made a friend was what surprised them the most.
“You’ve already made a friend? That’s amazing! Let’s have a celebration today!” said Darcia, tears of joy brimming in her eyes.
“Bocchan said so many times about how worried he was about school life… I am overjoyed! So overjoyed that my face is collapsing!” said Sam, whose spirit form had become blurry at the edges.
“Let us contact our nation,” said Bellmond, wagging her tail happily. “Incidentally, is that friend of yours a girl? Kanako and Zadiris have asked me to let them know immediately if you were to make any female friends.”
“Hey, I get that it’s a great thing, but it’s not something to make that much of a fuss about, is it?” said Natania, the mountain-cat-type Beast-kin who had been able to return to the Adventurers’ Guild after receiving artificial limbs from Vandalieu.
“That’s not true, Natania-san. We found a true, lifelong friend in Miriam-san while living in solitude in our home village, and the joy we felt then still has not faded,” said Arthur, the enormous, fierce-looking swordsman.
“Indeed, our lives were changed greatly that day,” agreed Kalinia, his younger sister who was beautiful but had terrifying eyes.
“A school is a small, closed-off society. I have heard that it is a frightening place, where those who are cast out of the light are scorned just for being alone. Making friends in such a place can only be described as truly auspicious,” said Borzofoy, the Dwarf with a slim build and thinning hair.
These three knew the importance of making friends.
“Wait! Our meeting wasn’t that dramatic!” protested Miriam, unconvinced. “I was just a rookie adventurer who got lost, and Arthur-san just protected me when an Ogre was about to kill me, and… Huh? Now that I think about it, it was pretty dramatic, wasn’t it? But leaving that aside… ‘True, lifelong friend?’ Your description of our relationship has become even more grand, hasn’t it?!”
“I-I see. I was betrayed by my companions and lost my limbs, but I was really happy when I gained true companions in Juliana-san, Master, and everyone else. It’s the same as that happiness, huh,” said Natania, tears welling up in her eyes and her tail swaying gently as she remembered how important it was to have trustworthy companions and how happy she was to have them.
“You could invite your friend for tea parties, study sessions, strategy meetings… Ah, which room should we use? That room can only be entered by pressing three different wall carvings, and that other one’s walls come closing in if something heavy isn’t placed on one of the floor’s tiles… And more importantly, I wonder if the good tea utensils are still unbroken?” said Silkie, restlessly thinking about inviting the first proper guests in about a century.
“I think a garden party is a good idea too, you knooow?” suggested Eisen, not wanting to be outdone.
Pete and Pain, who had made themselves smaller, were making hissing and squeaking noises as they jumped and flew around her feet.
“Anyway, what shall we do for tonight’s dinner?” asked Sam.
“I shall help with meal preparations!” said Silkie.
“Thanks, everyone,” said Vandalieu. “Let’s all make a big feast together.”
It seemed that he wasn’t at all hesitant or questioning about such a grand celebration being held just because he had managed to make a friend, even though he would be turning thirteen later this year.
If Nuaza, the head of the Demon Empire of Vidal’s Church of Vida, were to suggest that today be made a national festival, Vandalieu might have even agreed to it. That was how happy he was that he had made a friend at school.
But it wasn’t as if there had been no problems at school at all.
“The truth is, my friend’s name is Elizabeth Sauron; she’s the youngest sister of Duke Sauron,” Vandalieu said.
“Oh my. What a small world,” said Darcia.
“That would make her a true princess. I really do need to let Kanako and the others know…” said Bellmond.
Despite the shocking news, nobody showed any signs of great surprise. Arthur and the others were surprised to hear Duke Sauron mentioned, but that was all.
“There’s also a boy named Alex who just stared at Pauvina but didn’t do anything else,” Vandalieu added.
“Really?! Pauvina-chan, were you scared? Are you alright?” asked Darcia, her expression immediately turning into one of serious concern.
“I’m fine. I wasn’t scared, but it was a little creepy,” said Pauvina.
It seemed that a suspicious student harassing Pauvina was a more serious matter than Vandalieu’s friend having blood ties to the Sauron house.
“Are you really okay? You can tell me if you’re having a hard time, and I’ll go and make a complaint to the school! Vandalieu told me that ‘monster parent’ refers to people who are allowed to frequently do that sort of thing,” said Darcia.
TLN: This is a reference to Darcia’s ‘Monster’s Parent’ Title – both ‘Monster’s Parent’ and ‘monster parent’ are the same in Japanese.
“Mom, are you sure you aren’t misremembering what I said?” said Vandalieu.
“It’s alright! I’m going to go and talk to him directly tomorrow!” said Pauvina. “I’ll bring Van with me, though.”
“I see. If we leave Master alone, he might do something to this Alex boy. Having him somewhere you can see him is a good idea. As expected of you, Miss Pauvina,” said Simon.
“Simon, I won’t make any excuses since I’m aware of my past behavior, but I’m not going to do anything to this student named Alex,” said Vandalieu. “For now, anyway.”
“Hmm? Is there some reason you’re going so far as to say that?” Simon asked.
“Yes,” said Vandalieu. “But let’s continue this in the living room, not here in the entrance hallway.”
“Ah, yes,” said Darcia. “Baldiria-san arrived just a little while ago. Could you adjust her ‘artificial arms?’”
“Yes, I should do that. And I wanted to ask her a few things, anyway.”
Still chatting merrily, the group moved to the mansion’s living room. In there was the ‘Knight of a Thousand Blades’ Baldiria, one of the Five Knights of Alcrem.
She had lost both her arms in the battle to retake the former Scylla territory in the Sauron Duchy, and she had come to Vandalieu, who was known to be an exceptional maker of artificial limbs, in order to receive focused treatment.
However, although Baldiria was supposed to be missing both arms, her arms were perfectly fine. And nobody, including Vandalieu, was surprised to see this. Baldiria losing both her arms had all been a farce, after all.
“Should I be saying ‘long time no see?’” said Baldiria.
“You met me through my Demon King Familiars,” said Vandalieu.
Baldiria’s arms had, in fact, been severed. But she was carried to the rear immediately afterwards, where a special Blood Potion was administered and her arms were reattached. However, the public story was that she had lost her arms, and she had traveled to Orbaume by carriage so that this story could be maintained.
Incidentally, Vandalieu’s first apprentice, Luciliano, had created fake arms that looked exactly like Baldiria’s. With these secretly placed on the ground on the battlefield, the deception was perfect.
With this, the Sauron house that had planned the operation to retake the former Scylla territory was in a great deal of debt to Duke Alcrem, and if he were to suggest a similar operation in the future, Duke Alcrem would have a reason to refuse.
“I overheard you talking. Elizabeth Sauron, huh. It’s possible that she hates the nobles of the Alcrem Duchy,” said Baldiria.
“Was Duke Alcrem involved in the struggle for succession of the Sauron house, too?” asked Darcia.
“No, rather than being involved in it… At the time, we did not have the luxury of choice, Darcia-onee-sama,” said Baldiria.
A little over ten years ago, before Vandalieu was two years old, the Sauron Duchy failed to fend off the attack from the Amid Empire, and its territory was occupied. The previous Duke Sauron, Elizabeth’s father, and his eldest son who was his successor, lost their lives in the process.
Takkard Alcrem, who was already the duke of the Alcrem Duchy at this point in time, was greatly flustered by this situation. With the Sauron Duchy occupied by the Amid Empire, his own duchy shared a border with an enemy nation.
Of course, there were military positions, such as towers, along the duchy’s border. But the Alcrem Duchy had been focused on its economy, even before Takkard became duke, and military strength had always come second.
Takkard had always told the public, “We’re prepared for any emergency.” But he wasn’t confident that he could hold out for a long period of time in a defensive battle against the Amid Empire.
The nobles in Orbaume Central and the other duchies were aware of this as well, so they supported the Alcrem and Hartner Duchies, deploying their own armies and taking measures to prevent the Amid Empire from advancing any further. But even so, Takkard couldn’t be at ease until the Sauron Duchy was freed from the Amid Empire’s hands.
Thus, Takkard was hoping for the quick appointment of the person who would lead the retaking of the Sauron Duchy and be the one responsible for the duchy’s recovery afterwards.
That was why Rudel Sauron, who was the current duke, had never given up on winning the struggle to succeed the Sauron house. He was already an adult at that point, and he came from a good lineage. He already had a fair amount of knowledge regarding politics and military matters. There were no objections to him becoming the duke.
And at the time, the alternatives were Rudel’s younger brother, who wasn’t yet an adult, his youngest sibling Elizabeth, who was still very young and wasn’t well-known, and the leader of the resistance organization who claimed that he was a secret child of Duke Sauron. Everyone believed that Rudel would bring more stability than any of these other choices.
“With that said, however, we didn’t proactively support Duke Rudel Sauron, nor did we hinder the other potential successors. We simply let events run their course,” said Baldiria, concluding her explanation.
“Let events run their course? Wasn’t it a huge problem?” asked Darcia.
“That’s precisely why, Onee-sama,” Baldiria said. “Because each candidate already had nobles supporting them, we decided that interfering would only make the situation more chaotic and increase the length of time required for a successor to be decided.”
“I see… But I must say, I’m not really used to being called ‘Onee-sama.’ I wonder if it’s because you’re older than I am, Baldiria-san,” said Darcia.
“Do not worry about that, Darcia-onee-sama! I truly respect you from the bottom of my heart!” said Baldiria, looking up at Darcia with a look of shining admiration in her eyes.
One of the reasons she had agreed to let her arms be severed was because it had been promised that she would become able to live under the same roof as Darcia afterwards.
“Does that mean you know nothing about Elizabeth herself?” asked Vandalieu, who was making minor adjustments to the size of the ‘artificial arms’ that would be attached on Baldiria.
These ‘artificial arms’ would only be the same as Simon’s and Natania’s in appearance. Baldiria would use these fake artificial arms – gauntlets that covered her forearms and hands – for a while.
The explanation to the public was that she had lost both her arms, but had no problems with daily life due to the exceptional artificial arms that she was provided with, and she would be doing rehabilitation with Darcia and Vandalieu so that she could return to duty as soon as possible.
By leaving Baldiria in the care of Vandalieu and his allies, Duke Alcrem was likely aiming to strengthen their bonds while having them keep an eye out for any possible interference from other nobles… though Baldiria’s request for this arrangement, due to her admiration for Darcia, was likely the biggest reason.
“It would be accurate to say that I know nothing about her,” said Baldiria, answering Vandalieu’s question. “Like Rudel, Elizabeth Sauron and her mother were safeguarded in Orbaume Central, so I had no chance to become acquainted with her, and –”
“You decided that she wasn’t important enough to send intelligence operatives and spies to observe her,” said Vandalieu, finishing her sentence.
“That’s right. Others from the Sauron Duchy may know more about her, but… given her age, I would not expect much.”
It seemed that Duke Alcrem had not considered Elizabeth to be of much importance.
And those from the Sauron Duchy also didn’t know much about Elizabeth. When the Sauron Duchy was occupied by the Amid Empire, she had been closer to an infant’s age than a toddler’s. She didn’t even have any close friends at that point, let alone attend parties and events.
She had only been formally recognized by her father, the previous duke, three days before the Amid Empire’s invasion. There were likely many commoners in the Sauron Duchy who didn’t even know she existed.
George Bearheart, a former hero of the Sauron Duchy, and his daughter Iris who was now a Succubus, weren’t present here, but it was doubtful if even they could remember her name.
Elizabeth’s mother’s father – her maternal grandfather – was apparently a knight, so it was possible that George remembered him, but even if he did, it was unclear as to whether he knew any meaningful information about Elizabeth.
But from what Baldiria had said, it was difficult to imagine that she would feel animosity towards Duke Alcrem’s house.
However, this was based on information provided from the perspective of Duke Alcrem and those serving him. It was possible that Elizabeth had her own opinions or held a grudge for something that they hadn’t thought about. There was even the possibility that the noble supporting her had indoctrinated her with disagreeable thoughts.
“Next time I get a chance, I’ll ask her what she thinks of the Alcrem house,” said Vandalieu. “I think it’ll be fine, though.”
“I would certainly like to ask you to do that. It seems that you have taken a liking to her,” said Baldiria.
“Yes. There is the fact that she invited me to join her and her companions when I was eating lunch by myself in the corner of the classroom, but she was also saying a lot of very good things. Zona is also a good, considerate person – since I’m a newcomer, she sometimes makes sure to include me in the conversation so I don’t feel alone,” said Vandalieu.
Elizabeth had made a good impression on him when the boys in her group suggested methods that would break school regulations and she replied to them, “We must be very particular with which methods we choose!” She had then called him a ‘companion,’ so he had simply accepted it and become one of her companions.
… The truth was that Vandalieu had made a great misunderstanding, however. As for Zona, she had only spoken to Vandalieu to address her own surprise and confusion, and to satisfy her own curiosity. It was difficult to call this a considerate act.
“So Master says, but what do you think, Miss Gufadgarn?” asked Simon, who had previously heard that Vandalieu didn’t have much of an eye for people.
Gufadgarn tore open a hole in space and showed her face through it. “As the great Vandalieu says, she seems to be a human who takes pride in herself. I also feel much empathy for Mahelia, the girl who serves her, as she seems to be a capable individual. I do not know much about the Dwarf girl named Zona. I have little hope in the three boys, however.”
Unfortunately, Gufadgarn didn’t have much of an eye for people, either. She was an evil god with completely different values from people. And to her, the center of the world was Vandalieu. Anything that he defined as white was white to her, and anything that he defined as black was black.
… It was incredible – in a bad way – that she had little hope in Elizabeth’s three male followers despite that.
As if to elaborate on Gufadgarn’s statements, Chipuras, who had done some information-gathering, made his own report. “Lady Elizabeth has exceptional grades, but it seems that she has no close friends at the school other than her five followers, excluding Vandalieu-sama. At a glance, she appears to be famous within the school, but in reality, people are keeping their eye on her from a distance. Her human follower Mahelia is the daughter of an attendant who served Lady Elizabeth’s mother’s family. The Dwarf girl Zona seems to be someone who joined them after they enrolled at the school. As for the other three, they are apparently the sons of nobles who are connected to the noble that is Lady Elizabeth’s patron.”
Everyone nodded as they listened to this information.
“But that makes me more curious about the three boys. The fact that they were able to enter the school means that they are no mere fools,” said Baldiria.
“Chipuras-san, do you know anything about the one named Alex?” asked Pauvina.
Baldiria seemed to be suspicious of the three boys among Elizabeth’s followers, but Vandalieu had no interest in them. And because she hadn’t actually asked any direct questions about their behavior, and Pauvina had changed the subject, he stopped thinking about them.
“Yes, Pauvina-sama,” replied Chipuras. “That brat is the student who currently has the best grades at the school. It seems that he is able to see talents that are dormant in people.”
“See talents… Considering that he was staring at Pauvina, it’s possible that he has a Demon-Eye-type Unique Skill,” said Vandalieu.
“I could take those eyes from him, if you wish,” said Daroak.
“Thank you for your consideration, Daroak. But please make sure that you never do that,” Vandalieu told him.
He didn’t think much of Alex; he recognized him as Elizabeth’s rival, not an actual enemy. It would be a different story if he were to try and harm Pauvina, but as long as he didn’t, he wasn’t someone that needed to be fought to the death.
In fact, the greater concern was Elizabeth’s three male followers, whose behavior had been shown to be dangerous. It would be bad if they were to break school regulations and get Elizabeth, Mahelia, Zona, and even Vandalieu punished.
“Well, everything that happens at school is up to you, Vandalieu… But I’m glad that both of you seem to be having fun,” Darcia said happily.
After all, the fact that they were thinking seriously about the problems at the Adventurers’ School meant that they were taking their attendance at the school seriously. She could only imagine what it would be like to spend day after day in solitude, like Vandalieu had feared that he might. But now, both Vandalieu and Pauvina seemed to be enjoying themselves, so there was no need to worry.
Their original goal for enrolling at the Adventurers’ School was to guide useful individuals to Vida’s faction, but… only Vandalieu himself knew whether it would be possible to do that or not. There were even worshipers of Vida that he couldn’t guide, so there was no choice but to see how things went.
“Come to think of it, did you learn anything about the reincarnated individuals? We tried asking at the Adventurers’ Guild, but we found nothing notable,” said Arthur.
He and the other members of the ‘Heart Warrior Brigade’ had begun working with the Adventurers’ Guild in Orbaume, and they had been keeping an eye out for information regarding outsiders who had suddenly appeared out of nowhere or newcomers with unusual names, but it seemed that they hadn’t gained any useful information today.
“There doesn’t seem to be any signs of them,” said Vandalieu. “At the very least, there are no signs of Rikudou and the others having been reincarnated in the regions where there are Demon King Familiars. I asked the gods to let me know if they find out anything about them, but they haven’t contacted me yet,” said Vandalieu.
He had prayed to the gods and made offerings to them while telling them of how dangerous Rikudou was and asking them to let him know if he was reincarnated.
The offerings he made were cola, potato chips, curry, and pizza. This might have looked like some kind of joke to someone from Origin, but these were the divine meals directly requested by Lambda’s gods (especially Zuruwarn).
Vandalieu was sure that these offerings would be highly effective.
“Shall we conclude our debriefing session, then? What shall we do for dinner?” asked Sam.
“Let’s see. Hiroshi said he wanted to try eating dinosaur meat, so I’ll let everyone out into the dining hall for dinner. Let’s have dinosaur steak and sashimi made with ammonite and nautilus,” said Vandalieu.
“Dinosaurs are extinct in their world, aren’t they. I’m sure the children will be delighted!” said Silkie.
The next day, training was being held for the newcomers at the Adventurers’ School to prepare them before they entered the practical training Dungeons and Devil’s Nests outside Orbaume.
Naturally, stamina was something that all adventurers needed, even mages.
Adventurers needed to perform strenuous exercise while wearing their equipment and carrying portable food supplies, water, and the parts of the monsters they had collected as proof of extermination.
Thus, the first kind of training that was carried out at regular Adventurers’ School was aimed to improve the students’ stamina. Students were not allowed to learn how to handle weapons unless they were deemed to have enough stamina.
But this was the Hero Preparatory School. Its students were not those who wanted to be regular adventurers; they were students who had enrolled because they wanted to go beyond becoming an adventurer – because they were aiming to be heroes. Those without sufficient stamina had already been filtered out by the entrance examination.
Thus, the stamina training at this school took the form of practice battles that were carried out over long periods of time.
Those aiming to become mages and archers had to go through an unusual obstacle course, where they had to climb over various obstacles while shooting spells or arrows at the targets set up around the course.
For mages and archers, the ideal situation was one where they could provide long-ranged attacks and support from a safe distance while their frontline allies protected them, but this ideal situation was often not possible to maintain in real battles.
Those who were rendered helpless in the worst-case scenarios would never become heroes.
Dandolip, also known as Randolf ‘the True,’ was the instructor for the students who wished to become long-ranged fighters.
“Run, run, run! Shoot your targets! Keep control over your breathing!” he shouted. “There’s no need to hit the center of the targets! Even grazing the edges is fine! What you’re doing right now isn’t battle; it’s escape! Pretend that you’re running around while attacking just to fend the enemy off! If you don’t want to be caught and turned into a monster’s food or plaything, run like your life depends on it! Recite your incantations! Draw your bowstrings!”
Randolf was using spiritual magic to turn parts of the ground into a pond and make trees grow here and there, ensuring that the students couldn’t learn the course and get used to it, forcing them to use their brains as they ran.
Even the other instructors were giving him looks of admiration, as no ordinary instructor would be capable of using spiritual magic in such a skilled way.
But Randolf glanced at the training that was being done by the students who wished to be frontline fighters and sighed.
What the hell is he doing?
Vandalieu was among the students who wished to be frontline fighters… He was capable of using no-attribute magic, but it seemed that running about while taking care not to destroy the targets would be too troublesome a task for him.
The training for the frontline students was simple – they were just having practice battles against each other, over and over. They put on protective equipment and fought against the instructors or against each other with training weapons. Regardless of who won or lost, they would begin another practice battle immediately afterwards.
It was training designed to help them build the endurance required in real battles by repeating this process over and over.
Vandalieu was no exception to this.
He’s worse at it than I thought he would be, Randolf thought.
He was watching Vandalieu fight practice battles against other students and instructors using a practice spear… a wooden stick with a rounded end.
“UOOOOOH! SEII! DARYAAH! FUNGYUUUH!” his opponent shouted in exertion.
Vandalieu had incredible physical capabilities. Ordinarily, the attacks of the other students and instructors wouldn’t land on him, and he would be able to defeat them with a single blow. But that would be immature, and it would show too much of his true skill.
Thus, he was holding back.
He was deliberately pretending that the battle was even, not dodging attacks that he could have dodged and slowing down his own attacks so that his opponent could dodge them.
Vandalieu was good at holding back like this. He had done practice battles in the past, such as with the children of Talosheim. Holding back in practice battles like this wasn’t a problem for him.
The weapon he was using was a spear, and he didn’t have the ‘Spear Technique’ Skill for using it, but it was a practice spear that even had a wooden tip. He handled it perfectly fine using ‘Staff Technique.’
“UOOOOH! Why! Why won’t my sword land?!” his opponent shouted in frustration.
“I’m obviously going to dodge if you aim for my head. Even with a training sword, you could cause an injury, after all,” said Vandalieu.
It seemed that he was worse than a useless actor when it came to making sure that his opponent didn’t know he was holding back.
Despite the strenuous exercise, Vandalieu didn’t sweat or run out of breath; he just continued the practice battles disinterestedly with no expression on his face whatsoever. Naturally, both the instructors and the students could tell that he was holding back.
This injured their pride, prompting them to try reckless attacks on Vandalieu, but that didn’t change anything.
The students and teachers who had become unable to move after spending all their strength and stamina fighting Vandalieu were lying on the ground.
Vandalieu’s current opponent was the last instructor left.
“Ugh.. I-I’ve been defeated…” he said, tossing his weapon aside and collapsing onto the floor.
With that, Vandalieu had wiped out all of them.
Vandalieu placed a hand gently on his shoulder. “Your skill was impressive. However, when your opponent raises their weapon for a big swing, you have the habit of trying to take them down before they can finish their attack. You should be more wary of that.”
“Yes…” sniffled the instructor, whose face was covered in tears and mucus.
“Also, I have to mention your use of the ‘Surpass Limits’ Skill,” Vandalieu added. “I think saving it or using it repeatedly in short bursts would be more effective.
“Yes… Thank you!” the instructor said, and then he passed out.
Vandalieu carried him off the training grounds and laid him down.
“Now then, I don’t have any more opponents for practice battles… What should I do?” he murmured to himself.
With no students or instructors left to have practice battles against, Vandalieu looked around as if he were lost.
I don’t care, Randolf thought as he returned his gaze to his own students.
- Name: Elizabeth Sauron
- Race: Human
- Age: 13 years old (turns 14 years old later this year)
- Title: Princess, Illegitimate Child
- Job: Magic Swordsman
- Level: 49
- Job history: Apprentice Mage, Warrior, Mage
- Passive skills:
- Fatigue Resistance: Level 1
- Mental Fortitude: Level 1
- Poison Resistance: Level 1
- Active skills:
- Housework: Level 2
- Etiquette: Level 1
- Horseback Riding: Level 1
- Spear Technique: Level 1
- Surpass Limits: level 3
- No-Attribute Magic: Level 1
- Mana Control: Level 3
- Earth-Attribute Magic: Level 2
- Fire-Attribute Magic: Level 2
- Life-Attribute Magic: Level 2
- Swordsmanship: Level 2
- Shield Technique: Level 1
- Dismantling: Level 1
- Surpass Limits: Magic Sword: Level 1