The thing that was crying like a baby was no normal baby.
It had blonde hair that looked as if made of pure gold, and skin as white as the rock that this royal castle of Talosheim was built from. It had pink, triangular ears and there was a short tail growing from its bottom.
Incidentally, pig-beast-people apparently didn’t exist in Lambda.
「Before we knew it, the Live-Dead had turned to ashes and this child was crying.」(Basdia)
Vandalieu came to check on the Live-Dead after returning from Doran’s Aquatic Caverns to be greeted by Basdia holding a baby in her arms.
It seemed that while Vandalieu was in Doran’s Aquatic Caverns, the fetus had developed sufficiently and the Live-Dead had run out of Mana.
「Well, I don’t really care about the Live-Dead. I was planning to bury it after it served its purpose anyway.」(Vandalieu)
Vandalieu turned the ashes into a Golem to gather them up. The Live-Dead had simply been a creature with a beating heart but no soul. It had existed only to nurture its reborn self in its uterus.
「So this child was born safely, but… I’ve been troubled because it won’t stop crying.」(Basdia)
「Can I see the baby for a bit?」(Vandalieu)
Vandalieu took her in his arms. She stopped crying and stared at Vandalieu.
Vandalieu observed her as she gazed at him.
「… Mhmm, it does resemble her.」(Vandalieu)
Its face resembled that of the Live-Dead and its spirit, and it had a human’s nose. And it was definitely a girl. It was not a Noble Orc whose race only had males.
「I’m going to have a good look at you, so bear with me for a moment.」(Vandalieu)
Using【Spirit Form Transformation】to turn a part of his body into spirit form, Vandalieu examined the inside of her body. Her organ count, the shape of her bones and the like were different from Orcs; they were close to a human’s.
It was still impossible to tell whether her body would function the same as a human’s. But she was clearly not an Orc or Noble Orc.
But it couldn’t be said that she was completely human. She had the same golden hair as the Noble Orcs, and her eyes were blue. And her ears and tail made it very clear that she wasn’t entirely human.
She was still just a baby; it was possible that she might develop more inhuman characteristics as she developed.
Was she a half-Noble Orc?
「Can you see your status?」(Vandalieu)
For now, it seemed that she wasn’t going to angrily shout,「This isn’t what you promised me!」because of her strange appearance.
「Umm, could it be that you’re hungry?」(Vandalieu)
「Van, I don’t think a baby would be able to understand what you’re saying…?」(Basdia)
As Vandalieu turned to face Basdia – or tried to, the baby put him in a headlock.
She was unbelievably strong for a child. With his head being held in place by both her arms, he couldn’t move at all.
「I had my memories from quite early after I was born. I thought that she might be able to understand.」(Vandalieu)
「I see. But I don’t think she understands. If she did, she would have listened to me and stopped crying. But she showed no signs of listening and kept crying until you arrived, Van.」(Basdia)
「Then it might take some time before she regains her memories.」(Vandalieu)
Vandalieu’s memories had returned relatively soon after being reborn in Lambda. But that was because it had been the work of Rodcorte who was a god, while Vandalieu had used a new technique for the first time to carry out this baby’s reincarnation.
It might take several months or even years for her memories to return.
Well, several months had passed after her death before Vandalieu used her spirit for the reincarnation, so it was definitely possible that her memories and consciousness might have parts missing, however.
「Well, I’ve asked Bilde and the others to provide milk in advance, so let’s head over to them. You still can’t produce any, right, Basdia?」(Vandalieu)
「Yes, you’re pregnant. Please make sure you wear the Magic Item that protects the baby.」(Vandalieu)
「Is that true, Van?!」(Basdia)
「It’s true, congratulations. Make sure you come to me regularly so I can check its progress.」(Vandalieu)
And so two auspicious events were celebrated at once.
Vandalieu dried kombu in the clear winter air and weak sunlight with the reborn girl.
「Now then, I’ll begin the experiment.」(Vandalieu)
He slowly applied【Withering】on the kombu to remove its water content while also slowly applying【Aging.】
If he made a mistake it would dry out too much and fall apart, and if he took too long, it would turn into powder, so he needed to be very careful.
He continued controlling his spells for just a minute while enduring a headache and fever. It turned out perfect, so he stopped his spells and retrieved the dried kombu.
「Now then, time to actually taste it.」(Vandalieu)
He threw the kombu into a pot on a magical stove he had found in the ruins and turned the stove on.
Dashi began to come out steadily.
He removed the kombu when enough dashi had come out before the water started to boil and scooped some out with a ladle that the blacksmith Datara had made for him. He placed it onto a small plate, cooled it and tasted it.
「Mhmm, that’s good dashi.」(Vandalieu)
Satisfied, he added ingredients like wakame and vegetables and then dissolved miso in it to make miso soup.
「It’s turned out well.」(Vandalieu)
「I think it’s a little too early for you to be drinking miso soup, Pauvina.」(Vandalieu)
Pauvina… the Live-Dead who had been reborn as a half-Noble Orc seemed dejected, so Vandalieu comforted her as he felt satisfied at having successfully made kombu dashi.
Applying the【Aging】spell that was originally intended to age living things to kill them through old age to the kombu and drying it, he was able to apply twenty-five years’ worth of drying in a single minute to produce high-quality dried kombu. It was a groundbreaking discovery.
It was a process that shortened a twenty-five-year-long process to one minute. Incidentally, the reason it was twenty-five years was because Vandalieu remembered that kombu that had been dried and fermented for that long had been treated as a much higher-quality product than normal kombu on Earth. If he recalled, it was because the process changed the umami content in the kombu.
He had no spell that could confirm whether the umami content had really increased and Vandalieu had never tried miso soup made from high-quality kombu dashi, so there was no denying the possibility that Vandalieu was just making an assumption here.
Though Vandalieu had originally thought that Pauvina hadn’t regained her memories yet, she had in fact regained them to some extent immediately after her birth.
But as Vandalieu had feared, they were very broken memories and she hadn’t even been able to remember her own name.
She only remembered that her corpse had been turned into a Live-Dead and that Vandalieu had saved her. The latter could be referred to as Vandalieu using her, but she felt thankful towards him and was emotionally attached to him.
But even after regaining some of her memories, her mental age was still that of a child. Unlike people who had been reincarnated like Vandalieu, she was simply a child who remembered a little about her previous life.
She would develop and become an adult for the second time.
… She would surely grow to be large. At three months of age, her height was almost the same as Vandalieu who was three years old. Even taking into account the fact that Vandalieu had a small build, she was growing incredibly quickly.
Was this because she had some Noble Orc blood in her?
As Pauvina lifted Vandalieu into the air, he wondered,「Am I trying to be some kind of mad scientist who creates new species?」
Nuaza and the other Titans seemed happy about it, however, saying things like,「It is just like how the goddess Vida gave birth to us; it is truly divine work!」He would soon become unable to ever get rid of the title of “Prophesized Holy Son.”
Vandalieu thought that if he wasn’t the Holy Son, it would be nice if the goddess could give another prophecy or something to say so.
「So far, everything is going well.」(Vandalieu)
「Mhmm, everything but the katsuobushi, I suppose.」(Vandalieu)
Pauvina was developing well. Vandalieu didn’t know how long it would take for her to become an adult, but it would likely be ten years at most. She didn’t seem to have any problems with her health, and they were getting along well.
Since he had used her and reincarnated her, Vandalieu had to take responsibility for her new life, so he planned to take good care of her.
Basdia’s pregnancy had been discovered at the same time as Pauvina’s birth, and that was also progressing well. She had only been pregnant for three months so Vandalieu had been carefully examining her, but the Magic Item had been exhibiting its effects with no problem.
It was even better that she liked the piercing.
Vandalieu had once again put a halt on his Dungeon-clearing so he could take care of Pauvina and Basdia, but he was still going into the Devil’s Nests that were close enough to make a day trip into with everyone to continue his training. He assisted those training to acquire the【Chant Revocation】skill, played Reversi and Jenga and made fish sauce and miso. Everything was going well.
The only thing he was struggling with was making katsuobushi. It seemed that the concept of smoking food didn’t exist in Lambda.
There was dried meat so Vandalieu had assumed that smoked foods existed, but this wasn’t the case. Not even bacon, ham, sausages or wieners existed in this world, let alone roast beef.
He had asked Kachia and the others, but dried meat in this world was meat that had been salted and dried in the sun.
Because of this, Vandalieu had been forced to build a food-smoking facility using only his own knowledge.
Darcia had finally given Vandalieu permission to use fire, but the first real cooking that he was doing himself, using smoking tools based on his limited knowledge to make katsuobushi, was difficult.
「In Origin, I learned things from the spirits of western people who were knowledgeable about Japanese food, but they weren’t experts in making katsuobushi.」(Vandalieu)
He dried the fish and charred it to make smoked fish. This process simply produced a burnt product or left the center raw; all of his attempts had failed.
To make fermented food, all Vandalieu had to do was prepare the ingredients and use【Fermentation.】
It seemed that Vandalieu would struggle to make bacon or wieners as well, even though he had ingredients for them in the form of Orc meat. No, he still lacked the spices to make them.
「First of all, put me down now.」(Vandalieu)
Pauvina refused. Vandalieu spent the fourth winter of his life being held in the air.
The search was extremely difficult.
A relatively safe route across the mountain range had been planned out, but in the end, a third of the Subordinate Vampires had been wiped out.
And the search for the Dhampir after crossing the mountain range was proving difficult as well.
「I didn’t think that it would be this troublesome.」(Eleanora)
The objective of Eleanora and her party was to murder the Dhampir, but they didn’t have any convenient Magic Items like a【Dhampir Radar】or spells like【Detect Dhampir.】
That was why they had decided to first find the village of Ghouls that he led. The Ghouls might have lost about half of their numbers while crossing the mountain range, but there would still be at least two hundred left.
A village of two hundred Ghouls would be quite large. And Ghouls weren’t particularly adapted to living at high altitudes, nor were they good at navigating steep cliffs. There was no doubt that they would choose flat ground, similar to the Devil’s Nest forest that was undergoing cultivation now.
Under those assumptions, they released familiars to search for them but… not a single Ghoul had been found.
「Jeez, just where have they gone? It’s not as if they could have disappeared like mist.」(Eleanora)
Eleanora sighed as she poured holy water that they had brought with them over the defeated Subordinate Vampire at her feet. They were truly useless. Their master was useless as well, but just why was every single one of the Subordinates gathered here so useless?
「They might have gone underground. I suppose we should search the caves as well.」(Sercrent)
Sercrent had a look of exhaustion on his face as well. He didn’t care about some of his useless subordinates dying. But he was desperate because if he couldn’t complete this mission, his life would be forfeit.
「But even then, the Ghouls would need to gather food, so it would be a cavern system with multiple entrances. Or perhaps… the Ghouls already served their purpose in helping him cross the mountain range, so he disposed of them?」(Eleanora)
Leaving aside whether that was really possible, if it was true, that would explain why the search using the familiars that had even cost a third of the Subordinate Vampires’ lives had turned up nothing. That Dhampir had stayed hidden from the search of that renowned religious fanatic Gordan when he was less than a year old.
If he was on his own, he would obviously not need much food and living underground would be simple.
「More importantly, isn’t there a possibility that the spirits of these guys who have just died have gone to give the Dhampir information about us?」(Sercrent)
Eleanora and Sercrent were conducting their search with a policy of not killing or dying any more than needed in order to deal with the Dhampir who was apparently a Spiritualist, but even so, the Devil’s Nests of the Boundary Mountain Range weren’t easy to deal with.
Unlucky encounters with Dragons and such had cost them another third of the Subordinate Vampires. They poured holy water on the dead bodies to prevent their spirits from lingering in this world, but they couldn’t actually see spirits.
Only those with the Spiritualist Job can see spirits that haven’t become Undead.
That was why they couldn’t tell whether the spirits were in the vicinity of their dead bodies. The spirits could have rushed off towards the Dhampir and they would have never known.
「Even if the Dhampir is a Spiritualist, he wouldn’t be able to summon the spirits of people whose names and faces he doesn’t know. The possibility of him being able to do that is low… I want to believe that.」(Eleanora)
「I see… But what will we do? Where do we search from here?」(Sercrent)
「Let’s see, how about we go to where the city of Talosheim once stood?」(Eleanora)
The nation of Titans that the Amid Empire used the Mirg shield-nation’s army to destroy. The Pure-breed Vampire Gubamon had used the Amid Empire to do this, and Ternecia had been partially involved as well.
It would certainly be a ruin by now, swarming with Undead Titans.
「Even though they’re ruins, there might be some usable buildings left, and it would be easier to establish a village there than to build a new one from nothing.」(Eleanora)
Though it was unlikely that the Dhampir was aware of this, there were Dungeons near Talosheim. If he used those, he would be able to gather food efficiently.
However, Sercrent looked doubtful.
「No, Talosheim should be overflowing with Undead. It would be impossible to build a village there.」(Sercrent)
Looking at Sercrent’s face, Eleanora was overcome with an urge to kill him on the spot.
The reason Sercrent didn’t want to go to Talosheim was an extremely insignificant one.
He didn’t want Eleanora to gain leadership.
For Sercrent to erase his past failures and return to his original position in Vampire society, he of course needed to successfully kill the Dhampir, but it also needed to be his own achievement rather than Eleanora’s.
Even if he completed his mission, doing so under Eleanora’s command would mean that he had stooped low enough to become her dog, and it could even be interpreted as proof that he was an incompetent fool who couldn’t even exterminate a single Dhampir without having instructions spelled out for him.
Those living in the society of the Vampires who obeyed the evil gods constantly tried to gain the favor of those who were on the rise while striking down those who were falling.
If Sercrent simply prioritized the completion of his mission, his social position wouldn’t move an inch.
However, even though he understood that, there was a reason Eleanora couldn’t allow him to have his way. Because that would mean that she, a member of Birkyne’s bodyguards, had considered obeying Sercrent, which her Pure-breed master wouldn’t accept.
She would be subjected to indescribable punishment and unhealable wounds would be inflicted upon her. She didn’t want that. That is why Eleanora had decided that she would have the pitiful Sercrent fall as far down as it was possible to fall.
「I see. Then I’ll go and scout out the ruins on my own.」(Eleanora)
Eleanora had only been working together with Sercrent up until now because she had needed the numbers. Birkyne hadn’t given her permission to create new Subordinate Vampires, so the only pawns that she could use were her familiars.
However, it wouldn’t make any difference not having such useless pawns whose numbers had even been decreased by the journey. She didn’t mind separating herself from Sercrent to work on her own.
Sercrent was greatly confused. If Eleanora disposed of the Dhampir while separated from him, that would be the same as him having failed his mission.
On the other hand, this was a chance to take the achievement all for himself, but Eleanora was superior to him in ability and the Subordinate Vampires who had been useless up until now were unlikely to suddenly become stronger.
「… Very well, let us search Talosheim.」(Sercrent)
Taking no notice of the Vampire who had lived many times the number of years she had as he meaninglessly pretended to give his permission for the search of Talosheim, Eleanora flew up into the night sky.
However, upon reaching the site where the ruins of Talosheim should have been according to the two-hundred-year-old records left by the Mirg shield-nation’s army, Eleanora opened her eyes wide, dropped her jaw and stood stock-still.
Even before she became a Vampire, she had never imagined that she would be making such a foolish-looking face.
「Isn’t this some kind of illusion?」(Sercrent)
However, she had no need to worry about Sercrent and his subordinates seeing her like this. They were standing still with the same dumbfounded expression on their faces.
They were dumbfounded by the enormous walls illuminated by the light of the moon and stars. As Vampires, they could see the majestic walls as if they were in plain daylight.
There was not a single ivy branch growing on the white stone walls and not a single crack in the stone.
「What does this mean? The Mirg shield-nation’s army and Mikhail destroyed the walls, didn’t they?」(Eleanora)
「That’s right, if I recall… Back then, the gate was broken and the wall had collapsed in two different places. Even if what we were told is a mistake, there is nobody repairing or maintaining them, so how are they so…」(Sercrent)
Sercrent continued whispering, still astonished, but he slowly regained his composure.
「I see, it was the Undead. The Undead of Talosheim repaired these walls. The Undead don’t tire, so I’m sure they could do it, given two hundred years.」(Sercrent)
However, Eleanora couldn’t imagine that the conclusion he had arrived at was correct.
「The Undead, repairing and maintaining the walls?」(Eleanora)
Undead were generally unproductive and didn’t form societies. They did organize themselves in ways where the weak simply obeyed the strong or used the hierarchical relationships established while they were still alive, but in the majority of cases, they were simply disorganized groups of Undead individuals.
Even if the Undead had two hundred years, they might be able to sweep, clean and wash dishes, but would they be able to perform such advanced, large-scale work as repairing the city’s walls?
It was difficult to imagine that this was possible. If it was, every haunted building and ghost ship in this world would be sparkling clean.
Nobody could blame Eleanora for staring at Sercrent as if he had gone mad.
「What other explanation is there?」(Sercrent)
But even Eleanora couldn’t answer that question.
These walls were clearly not the work of monsters, and they hadn’t received any information that the Orbaume Kingdom had occupied the ruins of Talosheim to build a new city.
Eleanora reminded herself that their objective wasn’t to take back or occupy Talosheim. It was to kill the Dhampir.
「… We’re going to look inside.」(Eleanora)
Fortunately, it didn’t seem like there were any guards posted on the walls. It looked like there were several Undead Titans at the gate, but for the Noble-born Vampires who could fly through the sky, it wasn’t a problem. They could simply fly over the walls and the Subordinate Vampires could climb over the walls with their claws.
However, the surprises continued even after Eleanora and Sercrent passed the walls.
The dark, silent Talosheim had a loneliness drifting from it that made it look like a ghost town. However, one glance was all it took to notice something abnormal.
「There aren’t any collapsed buildings?」(Sercrent)
The buildings of Talosheim were lined up neatly against each other. Though they were large, stone buildings built from stone, they had been abandoned for two hundred years… after a terrible war, even.
「Are you going to tell me that this is the work of the Undead as well?」(Eleanora)
「Th-then who could have… That’s it! I’m sure it’s the Dhampir; he made his Ghoul subordinates…!」(Sercrent)
「Are you trying to say that the Ghouls simply repaired all of those houses as they were originally, in Titan-size?」(Eleanora)
Sercrent fell silent at Eleanora’s words, but even she had no idea who could have repaired the city.
Two hundred years ago, several hundred Titans had actually escaped from the Mirg shield-nation. The possibility that crossed Eleanora’s mind was that those surviving Titans had returned and spent the past two hundred years restoring Talosheim with the Hartner duchy’s assistance. But even that was hard to imagine.
If that was the case, then why was the city so quiet?
「Sercrent-sama, it’s very faint, but I can see a light.」(Subordinate)
「What?! The direction of the royal castle, huh. Alright, let’s go.」(Sercrent)
The Vampires couldn’t help but to tremble as they thought about how strange all of this was, but even so, the mission took priority.
They renewed their resolve, but as they approached the plaza in front of the royal castle, they were surprised three times.
『It’s not really going well, is it?』(Saria)
『But we can’t really have Bocchan build this as well.』(Rita)
『Jyuh, Nuaza-dono and the others said that it will be finished by spring. Let us wait and look forward to when it is complete.』(Bone Man)
Strange-looking Living Armors and a Skeleton were looking at what appeared to be a half-finished stone statue.
『I’ll definitely win this time.』(Young Titan)
『No, no, I cannot lose to a youngster.』(Old Titan)
Undead Titans were playing a game on a board the Vampires had never seen before with click-clacking sounds, eating baked sweets.
「Fugoh, it’s cooked just right.」(Orcus)
「I want miso with mine.」(Black Goblin)
「Fish sauce for mine.」(Black Goblin)
Black Orcs and black-colored Goblins were cooking skewered meat on frying pans and eating it.
「This shark fillet has no flavor.」(Ghoul woman)
「But I heard it does wonders for your beauty. It tastes good when you use it to make soup, too.」(Ghoul woman)
Ghoul women were walking together with their arms linked.
「Paper, scissors, rock!」(Anubis)
「Face away, there!」(Anubis)
Monsters that appeared to be humans with the heads of dogs were playing some kind of game that the Vampires had never seen before.
「What exactly is the meaning of this? I can understand the Ghouls being here, but… Orcs and Goblins in colors I’ve never seen, and monsters with dog heads. And they’re living in such a carefree way in the same space as the Undead; it’s just as if it were a human town.」(Eleanora)
She knew that Sercrent wouldn’t give her any response worth listening to, but she simply couldn’t remain silent.
That was how much the sight before her defied everything she knew.
Monsters as well as humans built societies that included multiple races, but almost all of them were systems where the strong dominated and the weak obeyed.
For Undead, even those kinds of societies were impossible to form.
Excluding some special cases, Undead were generally either superior individuals who had maintained their personalities from when they were alive or inferior Undead that indiscriminately tried to kill and consume any living thing, whether it was a human or a monster.
Such Undead were living calm, quiet lives.
Were all of them superior Undead? That was impossible! Even if their personalities had been preserved, they should still be ferocious.
「I-I don’t know. What does this mean? Could they have been tamed by someone? Impossible; it should be impossible to tame Undead!」(Sercrent)
Like Sercrent whispered, Undead were impossible to tame. That was true whether the Tamer was a Vampire or a human.
In the past, many individuals with superior Tamer-type Jobs had attempted to tame Undead, but they weren’t even able to tame the most inferior, Rank 1 Living Bones and Living Dead, let alone superior Undead such as Elder Liches.
As a result of these unsuccessful attempts, it became known in this world that like insect-type monsters, Undead were impossible to tame.
But the Vampires knew that there was an exception.
「Could it be that there’s someone who has gained the divine protection of the evil god… No, the goddess?」(Eleanora)
It was possible that those with the divine protection of the goddess Vida who had revived Zakkart as an Undead or evil gods like Hihiryushukaka could create and command Undead.
「A Vampire from another evil god’s… No, it’s Vida. There is someone with the goddess Vida’s divine protection.」(Eleanora)
Eleanora could see the Church of Vida that had been restored. If they possessed the divine protection of an evil god, there was no way that the church of the goddess would be restored.
Sercrent trembled, his eyes open wide. If the one who possessed the goddess Vida’s divine protection was one of the Pure-breed Vampires they feared, the ones who worshipped the goddess Vida, then…
「Sercrent-sama, we should escape while we still can.」(Subordinate)
「Nobody has noticed our presence yet, let us retreat!」(Subordinate)
Still hidden, the Subordinate Vampires began to talk about retreating. It was clear what would happen if they were discovered in a place where a Pure-breed Vampire who worshipped Vida was present.
A one-sided annihilation at the hands of that Vampire’s overwhelming power.
The Noble-born Sercrent and Eleanora being here would make no difference. That was how great the difference between a Pure-breed and a Noble-born was.
If that wasn’t the case, there was no way that Pure-breed Vampires like Birkyne and Ternecia who possessed personalities that would make them enemies very easily could have ruled hundreds of Noble-born Vampires for a hundred thousand years.
Sercrent who had been tortured by Birkyne and Eleanora who had been directly appointed by him understood this better than the Subordinate Vampires.
The two of them wanted to retreat immediately, but at the same time, they discovered the reason they couldn’t do so.
「Wait, there are Ghouls among the Undead and Goblins. The Dhampir is definitely here.」(Eleanora)
They had searched everywhere other than Talosheim and hadn’t found a single Ghoul, but there were numerous Ghouls here. Considering that, there was no doubt that these were the Ghouls the Dhampir had led across the mountain range from the Mirg shield-nation.
In that case, it was only natural that the Dhampir would be here.
「You know what will happen if we run away without dealing with the Dhampir, don’t you?」(Eleanora)
The already-pale faces of the Subordinate Vampires who had been suggesting a retreat turned even whiter.
「We’ll look for the Dhampir. If I recall, his name was Vandalieu. Eleanora, capture one of the Ghouls and make them talk.」(Sercrent)
「I don’t need you to tell me what to do.」(Eleanora)
They would quickly dispose of the Dhampir and escape before they were noticed by the superior being who possessed Vida’s divine protection.
Casting aside her exasperation and disgust towards Sercrent, Eleanora began to act in order to accomplish that difficult goal.