Big thanks to Yogi ($150) for sponsoring this chapter!
Vandalieu’s search of Orbaume’s royal castle continued, thanks to the help of the Imp Mice – mice that had become monsters without any change in their appearance – as well as Braga and the others.
The Imp Mice spread into the space above every room’s ceiling and the space beneath every room’s floor, and they even looked for hidden passages and chambers that had been built to be used if an enemy nation invaded.
Becoming monsters had increased their intelligence, allowing them to slip past the terrifying traps (mousetraps) and deadly poison (rodent poison) around the castle, and they discovered the sealed fragments of the Demon King and the Demon King equipment that Prime Minister Tercatanis had kept hidden… or at least, their empty shells.
The Orichalcum tubes had returned to their original shape without a single scratch on them, due to Orichalcum’s self-repairing properties. However, it was clear to Vandalieu that the fragments of the Demon King were no longer inside them.
This was decisive evidence that Prime Minister Urgen Tercatanis was trying to do something with the fragments of the Demon King. It was an established fact that he had acted on his own to gather fragments of the Demon King from the Church and other organizations. If these empty seals were to be thrust before him in front of the other nobles, and he was demanded to give an explanation, he would lose his position. He would lose his social status and immediately be imprisoned – and perhaps even beheaded.
However, Vandalieu still didn’t know the location of the mastermind who was manipulating Tercatanis from the shadows.
As for who the mastermind was… Perhaps it was still feasible for someone working for Alda, the God of Law and Fate, to gather and hide the Demon King fragments. But it was difficult to believe that they would undo the seals. Thus, it was likely Rikudou Hijiri after all. But Vandalieu didn’t know where Rikudou was.
He had considered the possibility that he had already escaped the castle and searched the city of Orbaume and the regions surrounding it, but he hadn’t found any clues thus far.
Because of the utter absence of any leads, he had considered that perhaps he was hiding in a city far from Orbaume, or perhaps in another duchy, but that was unlikely as well.
At this moment in time, Tercatanis was the only human in Lambda that Rikudou was using. It would be difficult for Rikudou to keep himself concealed without leaving behind any traces of his presence – especially if he was using the fragments of the Demon King in some form.
And it was almost certain that Rikudou was the one who had provided equipment made from fragments of the Demon King to Tercatanis, so at the very least, he would have definitely been present inside the castle up to that point.
Following that, Vandalieu had searched the royal castle, and the city of Orbaume had been blanketed in a surveillance network of spirits. There was no way for Rikudou to have escaped using ordinary methods.
But time continued to pass without Vandalieu finding any clues, and it was now June, the month of Vandalieu’s birth.
“It looks like I have no choice but to postpone my birthday party,” Vandalieu said in a serious tone, inside one of Silkie Zakkart Mansion’s rooms.
“You sound somewhat happy about it, Bocchan,” Sam remarked.
“Vandalieu, just because Nuaza-san said he wanted to time the announcement of the planned theme park with your birthday doesn’t mean…” said Darcia.
“Mom, that’s not a theme park. It’s a slaughter facility disguised as a theme park, designed to praise me to death,” said Vandalieu.
The construction of a Great Church in Talosheim was being planned by Nuaza, the head of the Church of Vida, and construction planning was already underway.
Living up to the title of ‘Great Church,’ it would enshrine statues of the gods of Vida’s faction, as well as the newest additions – Povaz and the other gods of Gartland – and Borgadon, the God of Mountains who resided in the Alcrem Duchy.
It would also have a corner with information about the Orbaume Kingdom, the Demon Continent, the Demon King’s Continent, and Gartland. It was expected that this would deepen the people’s understanding of the different regions of the empire and encourage more exchanges between them.
It would also have shops, food carts, restaurants, and a food court, allowing visitors to enjoy shopping and meals as well. It would even have a stage, allowing for events like concerts and hero shows to be held.
With just the above, there wouldn’t be anything to praise Vandalieu to death, but…
“I think the Vandalieu-coaster sounds fun. Visitors can go on a ride and see a series of displays showing the history of Vandalieu and the Demon Empire, right?” said Yuuma, also known as Oniwaka.
“We will be featured as weeell,” said Eisen.
“Indeed. Well, it is a little embarrassing,” said Zadiris.
The Vandalieu-coaster (a placeholder name) was an attraction where visitors would go on a ride.
On either side of their route would be displays depicting scenes from the history of the Demon Empire of Vidal… or rather, from Vandalieu’s turmoil-filled life.
This was the slaughter facility that Vandalieu feared, the one that would praise him to death.
“Vandalieu-sama, I don’t think it will go as far as to praise you to death. It’s just going to present facts without any dramatization,” said Eleanora.
“Of course, it seems that it will be simplified to some extent, but I believe that cannot be helped. Your life has been rather eventful, after all, Danna-sama,” said Bellmond.
It seemed that Eleanora and Bellmond supported the Great Church project.
“That’s true, but… that’s still praising me to death,” said Vandalieu.
Nuaza’s written proposal had contained a detailed recollection of Vandalieu’s life. This had included well-thought-out displays and scripts for recited audio explanations.
He had interviewed Vandalieu and his companions, and he had likely had detailed discussions with the craftsmen that would create the displays.
However, he had described Vandalieu’s past deeds in such detail that from Vandalieu’s perspective, it was like he was being praised to death.
“Bocchan, it cannot be helped. It is the truth, after all,” said Rita.
“You brought this upon yourself. Give it up, Bocchan,” said Saria.
“And Bocchan, personally, I would like to praise the fact that the ride has been modeled after a carriage,” said Sam.
Arthur of the Heart Warrior Brigade – the large, fierce-looking man with the divine protection of the Goddess of Rain Clouds Bashas, who looked angry when he was silent – raised his hand.
“May I say something as well?” he said, looking at Vandalieu.
Everyone looked at him expectantly, wondering what he was going to say.
“Given that you are the only person being praised to death, wouldn’t it be a murder facility rather than a slaughter facility?” Arthur said.
Everyone was staggered in disbelief.
“I see. You’re right. Thank you, Arthur,” said Vandalieu.
Everyone was staggered even further by Vandalieu’s response.
It seemed that Arthur’s description of the theme park being a murder facility was a point of great importance to him.
“Personally, I can praise the facility for having a space for events, but… I think all of these mascot character proposals need to be scrapped. Vugbi-kun and Vancer-kun definitely need to be scrapped. Anyone who isn’t a fanatical worshiper of Van is going to cry and run away when they see these,” Kanako said with a grim expression, pointing at the suggestions for the Great Church’s mascot characters on the written proposal… Vugbi-kun, who had the form of an enormous, severed Vandalieu head with numerous bug-like legs protruding from it, and Vancer-kun, who was also a Vandalieu head with crab-like legs and pincers sticking out on either side.
Incidentally, Vugbi-kun’s name was a contraction of ‘Vandalieu’s severed head,’ combined with the word ‘bug.’ Vancer was a combination of ‘Vandalieu’ and ‘Cancer’ (crab).
TLN: “Severed head” is 生首/namakubi. So “Vugbi” is a combination of “Vandalieu,” “bug,” and “kubi”
The written proposal had suggested that these mascots could be easily created by having bug-type and crab-type monsters wear Vandalieu-head costumes.
“Really? I’ve heard that people often see me with forms like that in their dreams, so I thought it couldn’t be helped,” said Vandalieu.
“Why are you somewhat in agreement with this of all things?! Your sense as a human being has started to fade recently, you know!” Kanako exclaimed.
“That cuts really deep, so please don’t say that,” said Vandalieu, lifelessly collapsing face-down onto the floor.
With Vandalieu collapsing like this from time to time, the floors of Silkie Zakkart Mansion were always well-polished.
“Vandalieu,” said Elizabeth in a serious tone, grabbing Vandalieu by his shoulders and making him stand up again. “The plan to announce your relationship with Mother at your birthday party is still on, isn’t it?”
Vandalieu had made plans to officially announce his engagement to Elizabeth’s mother, Amelia Sauron, who was under the impression that he was her husband.
However, it was expected that this official announcement would cause Vandalieu to become engaged with more women and new candidates for engagement to appear. Elizabeth seemed to be worried that Vandalieu intended to keep things vague.
“Of course,” said Vandalieu. “I’ve already laid down the groundwork with the right people, and I’ve already prepared a script, portraits of Amelia to hang up to commemorate the event, a dress for her to wear to the ceremony. And to prepare for the unlikely scenario that she’ll get caught up in a battle one day, I’ve even finished making transformation equipment and a plan for raising her Levels.”
“… Ignoring the last two, well, that’s fine, then,” said Elizabeth. “So, are you taking enough action against Tercatanis and this Rikudou person? The fact that you’re postponing the party means you’re going to focus on them, right?”
“Yes, I’m doing various things other than information gathering, like making a Dungeon that looks like the city of Orbaume to use as a battlefield, and another Dungeon to evacuate if we need to,” said Vandalieu.
This was the strategy that Vandalieu had used when fighting the Pure-breed Vampire Birkyne and his subordinates in Morksi, a city of commerce in the Alcrem Duchy… He’d had Gufadgarn use space-attribute magic to teleport them into a Dungeon that resembled the city so that he and his companions could fight with no risk of causing casualties among the city’s residents – though Orbaume was much larger than Morksi, so his recreation of it was significantly less accurate.
The Dungeon for evacuation was for the people of Orbaume to be evacuated into, rather than the enemy. Of course, there was no way the people would flee into a Dungeon without evacuation drills or even prior warning… or rather, the very concept of evacuating into a Dungeon during an emergency did not exist in human societies.
People considered Dungeons to be dangerous, after all.
The concept didn’t exist because they didn’t use Dungeons as shelters, sources of food, or living spaces like the people who lived inside the Boundary Mountain Range.
Vandalieu wouldn’t have thought of it either, if the people in nations such as the Ghoul nation and Zanalpadna hadn’t been doing it already.
Thus, he planned to have Gufadgarn and Jane Doe use their space attribute magic, and Legion use their limited space-attribute magic, to teleport the frantically fleeing people if an emergency happened – along with the help of his collaborators, such as the Alcrem house and Jahan house.
He would have his collaborators open ‘emergency shelters’ and lead the people into them, and the entrances to those ‘emergency shelters’ would be teleportation gates connected to the inside of the Dungeon.
Of course, it was possible that Vandalieu wouldn’t have the time or capability to evacuate the people… In that case, Vandalieu would have no choice but to get Rikudou into a Dungeon or one of his Inner Worlds at all costs, or to take the battle outside the city.
“How about asking Dandolip-sensei for his help? And Principal Meorilith, too. The principal has more influence than the average noble, so she should be of some help if the time calls for it. You’re on good terms with the Guild Master of the Tamers’ Guild too, right?” said Elizabeth.
The people she mentioned would furrow their brows if they could hear her. With the situation being what it was, it would be considerably better than not knowing anything at all, but…
As for Orlock, he would firmly deny being ‘on good terms’ with Vandalieu, and state that their relationship was strictly business.
“Indeed. It might be good to have a word with them. Dandolip-sensei is particularly skilled. I’m sure he’s the strongest person in Orbaume other than us and Rikudou,” said Vandalieu.
“Yes, that man… He’s quite capable. It makes me wonder why he isn’t an A-class adventurer,” said Eleanora, who had taken part in practical training as Vandalieu’s familiar.
Even from her perspective, Dandolip was a very capable individual – to the point that it was a mystery as to why there were no records of his name at the Adventurers’ Guild.
“Well, it would be a different story if Randolf ‘the True’ were to show himself,” Eleanora added.
“… Come to think of it, I wonder where Randolf ‘the True’ is,” said Vandalieu.
Because there was no evidence that Prime Minister Tercatanis had hired him, Vandalieu had abandoned looking for Randolf ‘the True.’ It wasn’t that he wasn’t interested in Randolf, but he believed that now wasn’t the time to be looking for him.
Even if he were to find him, there was no guarantee that he would become an ally. And if he were to catch wind of Vandalieu and his companions searching for him, it might be fine if he simply relocated himself out of a sense of danger, but it would be unnecessary trouble if he were to become hostile towards them.
He had already tried contacting him through Duke Alcrem and Duke Jahan’s connections, but these attempts had failed; it seemed that he was currently on a long-term commission.
“There would be no further problems if we knew where Rikudou is, but… They’ve finally arrived. They’re coming,” said Vandalieu.
“‘They’… The Five Colored Blades?” asked Kanako.
“No, Asagi and the others.”
“Kanako, you are making noises that an idol should not make,” said Zadiris.
“This is my private life, so it’s fine,” said Kanako. “It isn’t like I’m in front of my fans right now. And showing glimpses of aspects of myself that people don’t normally see lets me get closer to them.”
“But I don’t think ‘blech’ will help you get closer to anyone,” said Saria.
“If saying ‘blech’ lets you get closer to Bocchan, it’d become a trending word in the Demon Empire of Vidal,” said Rita.
“Kanako, I’m going to keep my distance, for the sake of our nation,” said Vandalieu.
“Whaaaat?!” Kanako cried.
“Who cares about that! What are you going to do about this Asagi guy and the Five-colored Blades?!” exclaimed Elizabeth, forcing the conversation back to the original topic.
“I’ve sent a messenger to the Five-colored Blades,” said Vandalieu. “That should serve as a warning. After all, given that Rodcorte is working with Alda, it’s unlikely but still possible that Asagi and Heinz are working with Rikudou.”
“Hmm? Are you not going to send a messenger to Asagi and his friends? Well, I do think any attempts at negotiation would be pointless,” said Kanako.
“I agree,” Vandalieu said with a nod. “Asagi’s group coming to Orbaume is the will of their sponsor, Duke Birgitt. They weren’t alone when they were traveling, so I’m sending a different kind of messenger.”
An opportunity had come to test the anti-Demon-King-fragment research, and the reincarnated individuals Asagi, Tendou, and Shouko headed for the city of Orbaume as research collaborators of the Dwarf Zean, the one in charge of the research.
The ‘Clairvoyance’ Tendou and the ‘Ifrit’ Shouko were heavy-hearted as they made this journey, but they had been unable to refuse to come as they lacked a convincing reason to give their employer, Duke Birgitt.
And because it was something that affected the entirety of the Orbaume Kingdom, they couldn’t simply turn their backs on it.
Thus, the three of them were traveling to Orbaume in a carriage prepared by the Birgitt house, along with Zean. And currently, they were in an inn, gathered in a room away from Zean and the other servants to exchange their thoughts.
“So, Vandalieu is conspiring with the prime minister? Is he going to use the kingdom to confront the Amid Empire after all?” said the ‘Mage Masher’ Asagi, convinced that Vandalieu was plotting some scheme with Prime Minister Tercatanis.
The formula of ‘Fragments of the Demon King = Vandalieu’ had been engraved upon his mind.
There would be nothing strange about incidents similar to those that had occurred in the past, such as infested victims going on a rampage. But Asagi was convinced that Vandalieu had to be involved in the suggestion of providing soldiers with weapons made from fragments of the Demon King, something that was unprecedented.
“No, that’s not necessarily the case,” said Tendou.
“I think it’s possible that… an evil god that was a part of the Demon King’s army might be pulling the strings,” said Shouko.
“And it’s also possible that the prime minister actually has some dangerous ideas, and he’s plotting something on his own,” Tendou added.
Tendou and Shouko both suspected that Vandalieu was involved, but they were also considering the other possibilities.
“And it’s possible that Rikudou is plotting something, too,” said Shouko.
“… Rikudou. You may be right in saying he’s involved,” Asagi agreed.
Asagi, Tendou, and Shouko didn’t know anything. They were unaware that Rikudou Hijiri had used Prime Minister Tercatanis to gather fragments of the Demon King and that he had been reincarnated in a body created from the Demon King fragments. They didn’t know where he was now, or what he was doing.
Rodcorte had kept this information from them, as well as Mao and Kaoru, who had left the Bahn Gaia Continent. He didn’t suspect that they would leak this information to Vandalieu, but he was afraid that they would pass this information on to worshipers of the gods of Alda’s forces, such as the Five-colored Blades, whom they had met not long ago.
Despite his inability to understand the feelings of beings other than himself, even Rodcorte knew that Alda would be furious if he were to learn that he had embedded fragments of the Demon King’s soul into Rikudou Hijiri and had him reincarnated in a body created from fragments of the Demon King.
Alda would not only be furious; it was highly likely that he would order Heinz to prioritize attacking Rikudou Hijiri over Vandalieu. That would be only natural, as Vandalieu would not destroy the world of Lambda, but the Demon King Guduranis would.
It was even possible that they would be willing to form a temporary truce with Vandalieu and his companions… though it was unclear as to whether Vandalieu would be willing to accept such a truce.
Thus, Rodcorte had not told Asagi and his companions anything… but he hadn’t come up with the idea of utilizing fragments of the Demon King at the time of Rikudou’s death, so he had already told them through his familiar spirits – Aran, Izumi, and Kouya – that Rikudou had learned death-attribute magic but was killed by Vandalieu in the world of Origin.
“But even if Rikudou learned death-attribute magic, it’s difficult to imagine that he would be able to use fragments of the Demon King like Vandalieu, don’t you think? Not that I mean to defend Rikudou, of course,” said Asagi.
To Asagi, Rikudou Hijiri was a former companion who had betrayed the Bravers like Kanako. On top of that, he was an absolute evil who had tried to unleash a great disaster upon the world.
Learning of the events in Origin had renewed Asagi’s belief that the death attribute, which had driven Rikudou Hijiri to carry out inhuman experiments on countless people in his mad quest to acquire it, was something that should not exist in this world.
On the matter of whether Rikudou Hijiri would be able to use fragments of the Demon King like Vandalieu, Tendou and Shouko were in agreement.
However, they had other differences in views.
“But even if Vandalieu is involved in this matter… What’s his goal? I can understand wanting to make an ally of Prime Minister Tercatanis. I don’t know how he did it, but if he did, it would be like having an influence over the entire kingdom,” said Tendou.
“But the question is, is there really a need to have weapons made from fragments of the Demon King distributed to the army? It’s true that if that plan was implemented, the kingdom would have more military might to fight against the Amid Empire, but it would clearly take a long time… I find it difficult to believe that he needs the Orbaume Kingdom’s army so badly to fight against the Amid Empire,” said Shouko.
“Vandalieu can easily create a swarm of Stone Golems to deal with ordinary soldiers… In fact, with the forces he has now, he would even be able to mow down knights like they’re nothing, never mind ordinary soldiers. That would be quicker and take less effort than making equipment to distribute to the Orbaume Kingdom’s army,” said Tendou. “You outside the window, could you please explain this?”
Tendou had been given the codename ‘Clairvoyance’ in his previous life, and he possessed multiple cheat-like abilities related to vision. The ability to see through objects was one of them, and after being reincarnated in Lambda, he had used the benefits of the Status System to improve this ability.
He could see a man dressed in black outside the window. Ordinarily, he might have thought it was an ordinary assassin or robber and tried to apprehend him without calling out to him, but… his ability had allowed him to see an envelope in his pocket with ‘From Vandalieu’ written on it, so he had waited for the man to approach.
The man in black opened the window.
“… I cannot give an explanation,” he said. “There are more details written in this letter.”
“Are you one of Vandalieu’s friends?” Tendou asked.
“No. I am his servant… I live to atone for my sins.”
“No matter how I look at it, you look like a professional assassin to me.”
“I’m a former assassin. Of course, I can still kill if he orders me to, but… he would not bother to even speak to someone as lowly as me.”
With that, the former assassin took out the envelope with Vandalieu’s name written in large letters, then threw it into the room towards Tendou and the others.
“My mission is to hand you that letter. Read it and then make your decision,” he said, turning to leave.
“Wait! You said you’re atoning for your sins. Do you think serving Vandalieu is atonement?!” Asagi demanded.
Surprisingly, the man turned back around to answer.
“Asagi Minami… You misunderstand,” he said.
The eyes peering through the mask he was wearing were utterly empty.
“I abducted orphans from the slums, gave them drugs, and turned them into assassins for the organization… I turned them into puppets. But I am not atoning or repenting because I believe that is a sin,” he said.
“W-what?!” Asagi uttered, clenching his fists in shock and anger as the man confessed to crimes even more evil than he had expected.
But his face turned completely pale as the man removed his mask.
“I am atoning for my sins so that I can be by his side. I have committed something that he defines as sin, so I am walking the path that he has pointed me to. I am a puppet, and I know no other way to exist. Those of the organization who were not puppets no longer resemble people, so none but he can give me orders,” the man said.
His now visible face was younger and more child-like than Asagi and the others had expected.
The man turned once more and left.
Asagi stood frozen on the spot, and Shouko wordlessly picked up the letter behind him.
The letter contained information and a warning. It stated that Vandalieu was not the one manipulating Tercatanis, and that the mastermind was likely Rikudou Hijiri. It also stated that if Asagi and his companions were to get in his way despite this, he would consider them enemies and eliminate them. However, if possible, he wished for Asagi and his companions to not interfere with him, and he would not interfere with them.
Finally, the letter’s postscript stated that if they were to harm the one who had brought it to them, he would consider it an act of hostility.
In part due to Edgar’s suggestion, Heinz and the rest of the Five-colored Blades, as well as Selen and several individuals that were working with them, left Alda’s Dungeon of Trials in the Farzon Duchy and headed for Orbaume.
They were moving to deal with the unprecedented situation of the Prime Minister suggesting the official provision of weapons made from fragments of the Demon King to the army.
They were as wary of being attacked by Vandalieu and his companions as Vandalieu and the gods of Vida’s factions were of them.
Even though Heinz had acquired Bellwood’s power, it was possible that he could be killed in an instant if he was caught off-guard. The sense of danger was tremendous, and the road that was normally completely free of danger felt incredibly long.
And that was precisely why they were able to notice someone who was hiding with their presence concealed.
“… You over there, who are you?!” Heinz shouted.
“… So, I’ve been found,” said a flat-toned voice.
A certain spot in the grassy field to the side of the road suddenly moved.
“Is it a monster?!”
“It camouflaged itself in the grass!”
It was a creature that resembled an enormous crab. It had grass growing on its back, and it had camouflaged itself in the grass with its legs and pincers hidden beneath its body.
The A-class adventurers traveling with Heinz and his companions drew their swords and began reciting incantations to fight the monster.
But Heinz stopped them.
“Wait!” he shouted.
Before the astonished adventurers and his party members’ very eyes, Heinz began speaking to the crab-like creature.
“Why have you come here? It doesn’t look like you’re here for a battle to the death,” he said.
“I have come with a message… though of course, I wouldn’t mind a battle to the death, either,” replied the crab-like creature… a Demon King Familiar, making no attempt to hide the hatred in its eyes as it looked at Heinz.