Thanks to this chapter’s sponsors: Alan D. ($40) Austen P. ($20) Devilsunfish808 ($5) Blank Knight ($10) anteopta ($75)
“It went up… My Level went up!” shouted Eisam.
Over this past month, after receiving harsh training from his teacher for a month, his Level had finally increased by 1.
One might think that he was over-celebrating, given that his Level had only increased by 1. But for him, an instructor at the Hero Preparatory School… it was great progress.
Eisam had encountered walls in his development numerous times in the past. But he had overcome them every time. With diligent training and repeatedly defeating monsters that he couldn’t defeat without pushing himself too hard, he had steadily clawed his way over those walls.
But this last wall had simply been too high. Even with consistent efforts for over a year, and then a second year, he couldn’t overcome it at all.
At the time he encountered this wall, Eisam had been a C-class adventurer. C-class adventurers were the kind that would be seen as local heroes, and many of them acquired Titles such as ‘Strong Arm’ or ‘Sword of Ice,’ though Eisam hadn’t acquired a Title himself.
C-class adventurers also received favorable treatment at the Guild compared to those of D-class and below.
Eisam had reached C-class, which was nothing to scoff at, given that the majority of adventurers only ever reached D-class despite their greatest efforts. In fact, he deserved praise for this achievement.
Satisfied with this, Eisam had retired. The Adventurers’ Guild had recognized his good character and his admirable career, and written him a letter of recommendation, which had allowed him to find employment at the Hero Preparatory School.
And so, Eisam had taught passionately, wanting to pass on the skills that he had cultivated to his students. He did feel satisfaction as his students grew stronger and then graduated from the school, but he also felt a little sad.
And then he had come to a realization – He didn’t want to give up yet.
But this was a thorny path for Eisam. It was true that if he were to continue defeating the monsters that he was able to defeat, without giving up, then it might be possible that he would be able to overcome this wall in his development one day. But there was no telling when that day would come. Almost ten years had already passed since he encountered this wall.
He would need to go into a Devil’s Nest or Dungeon every morning. He would have to fight against monsters that he had more than a ninety percent chance of defeating, but he would still be risking his life. He would be returning home covered in sweat, the blood of the monsters he killed, and his own blood as well.
He already had enough savings. Rather than living his life that way, perhaps it would be better for him to continue his stable job as an instructor, maybe even have a family, and live a comfortable life.
As he struggled with this decision, he encountered his teacher, who beat him handily. His ‘Spear Technique,’ which had plenty of diligent training and experience behind it, was rendered completely useless, and he was defeated easily, as if he were a child.
Although Eisam had gone all-out, his teacher had held back so that he wouldn’t be injured, and even complimented his technique. His pride was broken… no, it was ground to dust.
But the difference in strength between Eisam and his teacher was so great that his teacher had no choice but to treat him that way.
Beginning from the next day, he had earnestly requested the teacher for training. The training imposed on him by the teacher consisted only of repeated practice battles with advice on things to improve. Eisam had spent every day fighting practice battles against his teacher, the students, and his colleagues who had also asked the teacher for training.
The training had helped them improve their flaws. The teacher had watched over Eisam and the others as if he had more than one pair of eyes, pointing out their problems and what they were lacking.
After a month of this training, Eisam had finally overcome the wall in his development.
“Sensei! I’m going to graduate this semester and return to being an adventurer! Thank you for your instruction!” he said, tears flowing from his eyes.
Vandalieu took his hands and nodded. “Good work on keeping up with the training. Everything is the result of your hard work, Eisam-sensei. I’m very proud of you… But I’ve said this multiple times, and I’ve almost given up on reminding you – I’m the student, and you’re the teacher.”
Eisam had indeed trained hard, and given that there were no obvious signs in his speech or behavior, he probably hadn’t received Vandalieu’s divine protection. But it was likely that he had been guided. But why was a teacher telling him about his graduation (change of occupation) and thanking him?
Vandalieu was living a fulfilling school life, but he couldn’t shake off the feeling that something was a little off.
Meorilith sighed as she spread three documents across her desk.
“I don’t know whether to be relieved that it wasn’t worse, or whether to be afraid that this is just the beginning… I mean, well, I personally think he did very well, and I do intend to celebrate and support Eisam and the others as they depart our school and move on,” she said, feeling conflicted.
“It could have been worse, couldn’t it?” said Dandolip, otherwise known as Randolf ‘the True,’ with a complicated expression that could be interpreted as both a smile and a grimace. “It’s only the end of April. Eisam and the others will be leaving at the end of the semester… There are still five months between now and the end of September. You just need to find new instructors before then. The situation is far less severe than I imagined.”
Among the five instructors that had been receiving Vandalieu’s training along with the other students, three of them, including Eisam, had voiced a desire to resign. However, this was not terrible news, as the reason for their resignation was because they wanted to give adventuring another try… and it seemed that all three of them had overcome the walls in their development.
Incidentally, the worst-case scenario imagined by Randolf was all of Vandalieu’s instructors and classmates having their spirits broken and leaving the school.
“Honestly, it’s difficult for me to believe that he helped instructors who are former C-class adventurers overcome walls in their development with nothing but practice battles,” said Randolf. “If it were just one of them, I might have considered it a coincidence that they overcame the wall in their development at the same time Vandalieu enrolled at the school, but… there are three of them. It’s safe to assume that Vandalieu has a Skill that promotes development in people.”
“I see… But it seems to be of a different kind to the senior student named Alex. Alex has found dormant talent in people and helped those talents bloom. But Vandalieu can promote development in veteran instructors who surely have no further talents to bring out,” said Meorilith. “Could it be that he is a ‘Guider?’”
Meorilith was a former A-class adventurer, and she was an Elf who had lived for over a hundred years, over which she had gained a wealth of experience. She had some knowledge about ‘Guider’ Jobs.
She had never actually met a Guider before, but from the literature that had been written about Guiders and their companions, she knew that they could grant their companions something similar to the divine protections of gods, despite being mortal.
Randolf didn’t deny this possibility. “It’s possible… In fact, I’d be surprised if he wasn’t.”
He had met Heinz on just one occasion, so he had already met a Guider other than Vandalieu before… though he had received instruction from and performed on stage with Kanako for much longer.
“Everyone around him is far too powerful, including his mother. If he really is serving the Alcrem Duchy, Takkard could probably turn the Orbaume Kingdom into the Alcrem Kingdom if he wanted to,” Randolf continued. “I don’t have any doubt that the boy is a Guider. He has the agreeable ideologies and thoughts of a Guider, too.”
“The reforms that everyone is talking about… I can agree with them too, but I find it hard to believe that Eisam became friendly with Vandalieu because he agrees with the reforms,” said Meorilith.
“I agree with you on that point,” said Randolf.
Guider’s powers extended only to their companions. They targeted far more people than just their party members, but even so, the range of their power had their limits. It was difficult to imagine that the instructors had entered the range of Vandalieu’s guidance just by receiving training in combat from him.
If the literature was correct, it wasn’t just respect and trust for Vandalieu that Eisam needed; it would be strange for him to become guided unless he supported the reforms being pushed by Duke Alcrem as well.
And if he had been guided, Eisam’s reason for leaving his job would be because he wanted to serve Vandalieu rather than because he wanted to become an adventurer again – though perhaps it wasn’t actually as straightforward as that.
“Well, whether he’s a Guider or not doesn’t matter to me,” said Meorilith. “It’s problematic for us when our teaching staff leave, but we’ll manage. It’s impossible to do anything about a Guider, after all.”
A Guider’s guidance was their ideals. Thus, if one didn’t want to become guided by Vandalieu, all they had to do was not communicate with him. They needed to not exchange words with him, make eye contact with him, or read things that he had written. If one did that, they wouldn’t be guided, as far as Meorilith knew.
… In truth, Vandalieu was able to guide people in his dreams, so even doing all of the above wouldn’t guarantee that one wouldn’t be guided, but such measures would still have some effect.
However, taking those measures would be impossible, as this place was a school, and Vandalieu was a student… though recently, more and more of the staff had stopped treating him as one.
If Meorilith and Randolf were going to take such measures, it would have been better to forcibly give him a failing result at the entrance examination to begin with.
“It’s gotten to the point where some of the teaching staff are so frank with him that he’s recently started attending staff meetings – though Eisam and the others apparently dragged him there, causing him much confusion,” said Meorilith.
“Yeah, and Eisam apparently doesn’t find it unnatural at all for Vandalieu to be there… Maybe it’s a good thing that he quit?” said Randolf.
“You might be right about that. His behavior is problematic for an educational staff member. It was so unnatural that I was too late to deal with it, though,” said Meorilith.
Though it was a little late at this point, she would implement heavy-handed measures now, such as banning Vandalieu from staff facilities and strictly telling the staff to treat him as a student. She didn’t think he would be bothered by that.
“Now then, it’s been a month since he enrolled. I’m sure Vandalieu will formally join Elizabeth’s party, just as he said he would, but… do you think everything will be alright?” Meorilith asked.
The Hero Preparatory School had a rule that forced new students to only form parties with other students from the same class until a month after their enrollment.
Thus, Vandalieu would submit the paperwork and officially join Elizabeth’s party tomorrow.
Incidentally, up until this point, he had been a free solo student who hadn’t submitted any paperwork to the school or joined any party, despite his declaration that he would join Elizabeth’s party.
Thus, neither Vandalieu nor Elizabeth had broken any of the school regulations… Ordinarily, the instructors would have warned Vandalieu that he wouldn’t last in the practical training, and Elizabeth would have been criticized for clearly recruiting him before the one month had passed.
But the instructors were the ones receiving instruction from Vandalieu, so there was no way they could tell him that he would not last in the practical training, and people were impressed with Elizabeth for managing to recruit the son of Honorary Countess Zakkart, rather than criticizing her.
“I’m sure there will be no trouble. Given Vandalieu’s behavior thus far, he is generally a composed person. Even if an upperclassman were to pick a fight with him, he would let it slide without incident… Even if some fool were to insult the lunch boxes his mother makes or try to mess with his sister Pauvina or his familiars, he will surely use some cunning trick to make sure that no trouble arises,” said Randolf.
“I feel like the latter would be a problem. But if that’s the extent of it, I’m sure we’ll manage. Our school has few events, and… from now on, it’ll be the duty of Elizabeth, his party’s leader, to keep him in check,” said Meorilith.
The Hero Preparatory School didn’t have school events like the school camps, cultural festivals, and sports days of schools on Earth. There was practical training that involved spending the night in a Devil’s Nest or Dungeon, or assignments where students would actually accompany an adult adventurer to guard a merchant caravan for a week, but it was still just practical training. It wasn’t mandatory; students were free to opt in or out of them.
“If possible, I would like them to achieve their stunning grades and hurry up and graduate,” Meorilith said.
Meanwhile, Alex was writing something in his room at the school’s dormitory. His room was so large that one would never imagine that it was a student’s dorm room, and its furnishings were of high quality as well. It wasn’t quite large enough to fit the entire house he had lived in back in his home village, but to him, it felt too luxurious for two people to live in.
But students from noble families in other duchies sometimes lived in this dormitory, so it would cause trouble if the rooms were the same as those in the dormitories of ordinary Adventurers’ Schools… which were often only slightly better than the cheapest lodging houses, with two creaky bunk beds squeezed in.
Thus, this dorm’s rooms were completely furnished with high-quality beds, as well as individual writing desks, storage spaces, and Magic Items for lighting.
The school didn’t charge rent for these rooms, so Alex was very grateful.
“I’m in the black this month, too,” he murmured.
What he was writing was his financial records. The school recommended that students keep such records.
Adventuring was a dangerous profession, and each day could be an adventurer’s last. Perhaps because of this, many of them spent all the money they earned, enjoying their time as much as they could.
But if they did that, they wouldn’t be able to support themselves when the time came for them to retire. There were also some who couldn’t buy new equipment due to spending all their money on drinking and gambling, which ended up being the reason they were killed.
To change this situation, each Adventurers’ School recommended that students keep a record of their finances. Like the students who had come before him, Alex was recording his finances.
“But… I’m deep in the red when it comes to dealing with Pauvina and Vandalieu,” he whispered to himself, checking that his roommate was sound asleep before letting out a heavy sigh.
Ever since that incident, it seemed that Vandalieu and Pauvina were treating Alex like some kind of pervert. Every time he even came close to them, Vandalieu’s familiars, as well as the students and instructors that were friendly with him, would suddenly raise their guard.
There was no way he could see their Statuses… He had been able to see the Status of Vandalieu’s familiars, but as expected, he hadn’t been able to learn anything about them because they had been censored. Given the number of censored items on their Statuses, he did know that they possessed a great number of Skills.
Of course, he couldn’t invite them to join him, either. For the past month, they had been doing training similar to real battles somewhere outside the city, so Alex had little contact with them.
At this rate, perhaps it would be better to give up on having them become his companions.
He was also now interested in Elizabeth Sauron and the rest of her party, whom he’d had no interest in until this semester.
Interested in the special training that Vandalieu and the others were doing, he had checked Elizabeth and her party’s Statuses again with his ‘Demon Eyes of Great Appraisal.’
In doing so, he had learned that Elizabeth had overcome the wall in her growth that she had been struggling with, and Mahelia, Zona, and the rest had seen increases in their Levels and Attribute Values.
Of course, Alex had improved over the past month as well, but… the pace of their development was clearly abnormal.
Rumors said that their special training consisted of fighting against monsters that had been dragged out of their natural habitats by adventurers. Could they be true?
Even adventurers, who essentially do that every day, don’t have their Levels increase at that pace. The possibility of the adventurers not just capturing the monsters, but weakening them as well for Elizabeth and the others to finish off… is out of the question, since their Skill Levels are increasing as well, Alex thought. What’s the secret behind their strength? I’ve heard that it’s become more common to be granted divine protections from gods since a few years back, but they don’t have any…
Alex’s only knowledge of Guiders was what legends said of them, so he was completely bewildered as to how Elizabeth and her companions had grown so strong in such a short period of time. He had been particularly surprised when he used his ‘Demon Eyes of Appraisal’ to check Elizabeth’s Status and saw that she had overcome the wall in her development… which had been considerably high, the last time he had checked it.
But Elizabeth and her companions hadn’t received ‘Vandalieu’s Divine Protection’ yet. As they had only been guided, there was nothing for Alex to see with the ‘Demon Eyes of Great Appraisal.’
Is it Vandalieu after all? Does he have a Unique Skill or something that promotes the development of others? If so… I’ll have to check his Status during the practical training. If it’s during training, his familiars might still get in my way, but the instructors won’t. But… if his Status is going to be censored as well, then it’ll be pointless, won’t it?
In Orbaume’s castle, Prime Minister Urgen Tercatanis was reporting on the progress of the tasks that he had been assigned.
“I have already gathered ten fragments of the Demon King in the sanctuary in the royal castle, including the fragment that has been safeguarded by the Tercatanis house,” he said.
He was leaning over a piece of paper bearing something resembling an unusual holy symbol. Apparently, this was serving as an improvised altar.
“Fake seals have already been prepared to take their place… Do you require five more? I will need a little more time for that.”
Some time ago, Tercatanis had received a Divine Message from a god who called himself ‘Rikudou Hijiri,’ and at his request, he had been gathering fragments of the Demon King.
He’d heard from the head of the Church of Alda that Divine Messages had originally instructed the Churches to keep a strict guard over the Demon King fragments, so it had been a simple matter of issuing official notices to each Church, informing them that the fragments needed to be sealed and managed in the sacred grounds of the royal castle.
In reality, however, sacred grounds were just spaces that were consecrated through rituals carried out by priests and clerics, casting spells that made it difficult for outsiders to trespass. The sacred grounds in the royal castle weren’t much different from those in the Churches.
The royal castle was superior in the sense that it was more heavily guarded, as it had the protection of the ‘Six Phalanxes of Orbaume’ that were the Orbaume Kingdom’s prided fighting force, but even so, given the risk that came with moving the Demon King fragments, there wasn’t much point in moving them.
“Yes. Please leave it to me,” said Tercatanis, who seemed to have received the time extension that he had requested from the god he was talking to.
He stood up and put the piece of paper with the holy symbol on it, which had turned his desk into an improvised altar, into his breast pocket.
“It will take some time to gather the fragments that are being kept in the other duchies. There is also a high risk of information being leaked. Do I have no choice but to move the Demon King fragment that is sealed in the depths of the royal castle’s treasury? But in order to do that, I would need the royal crown, which is one of its keys. What shall I do?” he murmured to himself.
He didn’t doubt that Rikudou Hijiri was a god. He had investigated the possibility that his Divine Message was some form of magical communication pretending to be a Divine Message, and whether he had somehow been brainwashed through drugs, but Rikudou Hijiri’s words were not the creation of a spell or drugs… And nobody was hiding nearby and whispering in his ear, of course.
Rikudou Hijiri had also given Tercatanis information that only a god could know. Vandalieu’s true history and nature. The nation of Vida’s races and Undead beyond the Boundary Mountain Range, which had its fangs bared at the rest of the continent. The defeat of the ‘Blue-flamed Sword’ Heinz.
Tercatanis had believed that as long as the Orbaume Kingdom didn’t make a mistake in dealing with Vandalieu, it could overcome the reforms being pushed by Duke Alcrem and Vandalieu’s existence while maintaining its order. Vida’s races would have to be given more rights than what was accepted by Alda’s peaceful faction, including the acknowledgement of Ghouls as one of Vida’s races, but no further damage would be caused.
But in reality, this wasn’t the case. Duke Alcrem had already become a tool of the nation ruled by Vandalieu, and he was trying to sell out the Orbaume Kingdom.
Perhaps this would bring more happiness to the members of Vida’s races and the worshipers of Vida living in the kingdom. Perhaps a portion of the poor would gain the chance to change their lives.
But Urgen Tercatanis and his family, which had strong connections to the Church of Alda, would lose their social status and their power. It was possible that they could even lose their assets and their lives.
Tercatanis wouldn’t stand for this. It was he and his house that had supported the Orbaume Kingdom and protected its order. After all that his house had done for the kingdom, he could not accept that it would meet such a pitiful end.
“It is absolutely absurd to sacrifice us, the ones who rule and lead the people, as well as a great number of citizens, in order to save a small number of the poor. I must prevent it at all costs,” he muttered to himself.
He couldn’t leave this matter in the hands of a youngster who had already been defeated once. He had been chosen by a god, and it was he that would wield his power to save the nation.
Rikudou, who remained in Rodcorte’s Divine Realm, looked down upon Urgen Tercatanis with a satisfied expression.
“Da, thanks to your ‘Sahadeva,’ I’ve managed to manipulate him very nicely,” he said.
“It was my honor,” said the ‘Sahadeva’ Da, one of the reincarnated individuals who served Rikudou, with a bow.
It wasn’t magic or drugs that had made Prime Minister Tercatanis believe that he had received a Divine Message. It was a cheat-like ability.
Da’s ‘Sahadeva’ was an ability that could possess a target to make him constantly aware of their state, and it also allowed reciprocal communication in the form of telepathy.
He had used this ability with Tercatanis as the target and communicated Rikudou’s will to him, making it possible for Tercatanis to hear Rikudou’s voice at any time, just like an ordinary conversation.
But it would be too harsh to expect Tercatanis to realize that on his own. After all, he didn’t know about the existence of cheat-like abilities that were not spells, drugs, or Skills.
And like the majority of Lambda’s population, he had no prior experience of receiving a Divine Message. Thus, he couldn’t tell the difference between ordinary Divine Messages and the conversations he’d been having with Rikudou.
Of course, he’d quickly realize the difference if he were to read past records of Divine Messages or asked the head of the Church of Alda, with which he had deep connections, but because Rikudou had given him information that ‘only a god could know,’ Tercatanis’s doubts had vanished… though the source of this information was Rodcorte.
As for his name, Rikudou had told him that he was a god from another world, and that he needed the fragments of the Demon King in order to descend upon Lambda.
Da’s ability normally required him to be within about a meter of the target to activate it, but –
“I am the one who strengthened his ability so that it can be used without needing to meet the target, and even use it from my Divine Realm,” said Rodcorte. “Well, I am not seeking your gratitude; I am just ensuring that you do not grow impudent.”
Da had been able to use his cheat-like ability with the support of Rodcorte, the one who had given it to him.
“I know. I haven’t forgotten that your assistance is vital here,” said Da.
Seemingly satisfied with this, Rodcorte looked away. Meanwhile, Rikudou was paying him no attention; he was simply waiting impatiently for the Demon King fragments to be gathered.
“I have become a demigod, and I need a god’s body that is worthy… the fragments of the body of Guduranis. Once I have gathered enough of them, I shall be resurrected and defeat the repulsive ‘Undead,’ and become a true god,” Rikudou murmured.
Inside his chest were crystal-like objects… fragments of Guduranis’s soul.