After being betrayed by her stepfather and sold to a slave trader, Marie was stricken by despair.
Marie’s real father had died while she was young and her mother had remarried before dying of disease. Deciding that he couldn’t raise a daughter that he wasn’t related to, he ignored Marie’s mother’s final wish and sold Marie.
Betrayed by someone she had loved like her real father, Marie gave up hope in living.
A girl in her early teenage years like her wouldn’t be purchased by a brothel unless she had been blessed with exceptional looks. It was common for such girls to be bought at cheap prices and worked to death performing harsh manual labor in a mine.
Nobody could blame Marie for falling into despair.
“Fufu, what a beautiful bride. Please tell me your name…”
That was why she actually felt relieved to learn that she had been given to a Vampire as payment, thinking that it would all be over soon.
Even if by some miracle she was blessed enough to be purchased by a good buyer and set free one day, she no longer had a family that cared about her.
Living out her remaining decades in such sadness would bring her nothing but pain.
“So, you are unable to speak… It matters not. I will soon be able to taste everything with these fangs and this tongue.”
As the Vampire’s fangs were revealed, his well-featured face twisted into a beast-like expression.
As those fangs closed in on Marie’s neck –
The window, which contained glass unlike most other windows in the city of Niarki other than the windows of the lord’s house, shattered and glass scattered across the floor.
Black shadows flashed past his back and his sides, each of them causing a spray of blood to erupt from his body.
Marie simply stared blankly at this unbelievable sight. The being in front of her was a Vampire, an embodiment of evil that was supposed to be defeated by champions or heroes. Someone was tearing such a being into pieces in a one-sided fashion.
“Damn you, you coward!” the Vampire cursed. “Wounds like this will soon…!”
“They won’t heal,” said a voice. “These are kunai that apply the Holy Son’s Healing Negation.”
“There’s also deadly poison on them that works on Vampires,” said another.
“W-what?! That can’t… be… Gobuh!”
With blood spraying from his mouth as if he were a fountain, the Vampire stopped moving.
The Vampire that was supposed to grant Marie an end to her life had perished.
His corpse had even been carried away by a masked Titan.
Vaguely wondering what would happen to her now, Marie was overwhelmed with fear. Instinctively, she picked up a sharp fragment of glass.
Before Marie could bring the piece of glass to her throat, the smaller assassin had grabbed her arm.
“Why are you stopping me?!” she demanded. “I’m begging you, please let me die!”
“No!” said the assassin. “It would be problematic if you were to die!”
“Why?” she asked. “You can find people who can replace me if you look just about anywhere!”
“There’s nobody who could replace you!” said the assassin, with a forceful tone to his voice.
“– Eh?” Marie instinctively let the strength flow out of her arm.
Braga used this opportunity to seize the piece of glass and throw it aside.
And then he began to treat Marie’s hand that had been cut by the glass.
“Everyone cares about you,” he told her. “Don’t go and die so easily.”
Braga and the others had been asked by Vandalieu, their king, to protect as many of the Vampires’ victims and captives as possible.
That was why they had been careful to protect victims like Marie and keep them safe.
Braga wasn’t lying.
But in this moment, for the brokenhearted Marie, he was like a prince on a white horse.
“So that’s how it is, King. This is my lover, Marie,” Braga announced.
“Please give your blessings for our marriage.”
You really never know where you’re going to meet the one, Vandalieu thought as he looked at the proud-looking Braga and the girl standing next to him, who looked to be around twelve or thirteen years old.
“I don’t really mind giving my blessings, but… Braga is a Black Goblin. Are you alright with that?” Vandalieu asked.
Black Goblins were far more human-like in appearance than regular Goblins, and they had good personalities like Braga’s. Though Vandalieu could understand being friends, he had to wonder, wasn’t there still a barrier that would make most normal people hesitate to choose a Black Goblin as their spouse?
“Of course,” Marie replied, despite Vandalieu’s doubts. “The only one who cared about me is my mother, who passed away. I’m sure it’s destiny that Braga and the others saved me from being killed by that Vampire!”
“I-I see,” said Vandalieu. “You won’t be able to come back to this country for at least ten more years. Do you still feel that way?”
“I don’t mind!”
“Then I don’t have anything to do other than give you my blessings and say, ‘congratulations.’”
If Marie herself was satisfied, then it was probably fine. In fact, Braga, the vice-captain of the ninja unit, was the most successful of the Black Goblins and a fine individual. There was nothing to object to.
And Marie would probably be able to live a more luxurious lifestyle if she came to Talosheim.
“Ah, Holy Son, about the prostitutes that the scoundrels held captive and the women working for them…” Zran began. For some reason, his words were rather inarticulate.
As Vandalieu turned to look at him, it was clear even through his mask that he was feeling troubled.
“What is it?” Vandalieu asked. “I’m planning to use the Mental Encroachment skill to keep them quiet, give them some money and then release them.”
He only planned to use the Fangs of Dark Nights that he had taken over for a few months at most, so he had no intention of continuing the management of their businesses like their brothels. He was intending to pull out right away, so he was planning to dispose of the wicked female management pretending to be prostitutes and silence the rest before releasing them.
“About that,” said Zran. “After seeing Marie-jouchan, they seem to have misunderstood and are under the impression that they won’t be killed if they suck up to us… They’re having a mass marriage interview over there with the Black Goblins.”
“And none of them are used to women, so things have turned out quite interesting.”
“… Women are sturdy, aren’t they.”
“So, Vandalieu-sama, what will we do with those women?” Eleanora asked.
Indeed, what should Vandalieu do with them?
“First of all, let’s conduct interviews and physical examinations,” he said.
“Honey, you have to tell him about me as well,” said a woman.
“Ah, that’s right. King, I have a lover, too,” said another Black Goblin.
“… Congratulations,” said Vandalieu.
Around the same time, those who had conspired to destroy the cultivation project led by the next lord of the Hartner Duchy, the second son Belton, had gathered to report the situation.
“So, you mean to tell me that our plans have come to nothing because of this Dhampir boy?”
Karcan, a knight of the Hartner family’s eldest son, Lucas, seemed to doubt the report of Froto, the man who had been disguising himself as a priest of Alda. “That is what you say, but… No, I do not mean to say that I distrust you people. But still, it is a little…”
Nobody could blame Karcan for stroking his goatee with a suspicious look in his eyes. The contents of the report of Froto and his companions were simply too bizarre.
A Dhampir had flown through the sky towards the Fifth Cultivation Village to save all of the villagers from the poison that had been distributed there.
In addition to appearing from the sky barehanded to defeat a group of Orcs attacking the village, he created a well in the blink of an eye, providing an abundant source of water to the village that had been suffering from a water shortage.
Karcan himself had ordered the knights under his command to deliver poisoned fertilizer to the Second Cultivation Village; it was supposed to become a ghost town by next spring. But apparently the Dhampir had come and taught the villagers how to use Goblins as emergency rations.
And Froto claimed that there was no doubt that the Dhampir was involved in the fact that the bandits dispatched by the spies in the city had gone missing.
Karcan’s men were reporting that all of this was done by a single Dhampir boy.
It wasn’t unreasonable for Karcan to think that all of this was ‘suspicious.’
“At the very least, Karcan-dono, I saw the incident with the Orcs myself. With these very eyes, I saw the Orcs I sent being defeated by the Dhampir in an instant!” said the man who had tamed the Orcs.
He was a Beast Mage – a Job that allowed the creation of mental bonds with monsters through magic in order to control them.
Considering his words in addition to Froto’s, it was difficult to believe that these reports were lies.
“And to counteract the poison that I distributed… That poison takes time to kill its victims, as it is designed to look like a disease, but it cannot be counteracted by normal anti-poison spells or antidote Potions. That Dhampir’s skill is not superficial by any means,” said a young man, the spy who had used makeup to disguise himself as a middle-aged traveling merchant.
The men’s words were too unnatural to assume that they were simply making excuses for failing in their work. Thus, Karcan decided to take their reports as truth.
He was in charge of an entire order of knights. He had seen with his own eyes that there were men who could achieve unbelievable things despite their age and appearance if they served as knights for long enough.
“That child was a Dhampir, was he? As difficult as it is to believe, if he is indeed a Dhampir, it is a feasible story,” said Karcan. “But in other words, it simply means that there was a capable healing mage with the strength of a D-class adventurer in those villages,” he concluded.
The fact that the Dhampir had defeated three Orcs was impressive, but he had essentially defeated one with a surprise attack and used his momentum to defeat the other two. This would likely be possible for anyone with the strength of a D-class adventurer.
“Most importantly, he is not using the village as a base for activity like the refugee adventurers. You said that he was simply passing by towards the city to become an adventurer, didn’t you? In other words, it simply means that we must get things done while that child is not in the villages,” said Karcan.
“Will that really be alright?” Froto asked.
Karcan laughed. “You worry too much. Even that Dhampir wouldn’t do something like setting up guards to watch over the villages,” he said.
“I suppose you are right.”
In reality, Vandalieu had stationed his Familiars, Lemures, as well as dozens of Stone Golems in each cultivation village.
“If that Dhampir child is intending to become an adventurer, he should be forced to attend the adventurers’ school for at least a year,” said Karcan. “During that time, we will pretend to be bandits and destroy the cultivation villages… I will lead the men myself.”
The men stirred at Karcan’s announcement that he and his men would act as bandits.
“Is that really alright? If it were to be discovered, even if our victims are mere refugees, we will be hanged or turned into slaves!”
“We must be willing to take at least this much risk,” said Karcan. “Everything is for the sake of exterminating these shamelessly disgraceful fools from the Sauron Duchy who are eating away at our Hartner Duchy like parasites, for the sake of the people and for the sake of Lord Lucas!”
As Vandalieu had thought, Karcan didn’t acknowledge the refugees who had escaped the Sauron Duchy, including those living in the cultivation villages, as people of his own nation.
The ‘people’ that he referred to were the people of the Hartner Duchy; those from other duchies such as the Sauron Duchy were essentially foreigners.
With that said, Karcan’s true motive was that he was impatient because he hadn’t achieved anything meaningful in Lucas’s name, so even if Lucas did succeed the family, Karcan wouldn’t achieve the social status he wanted.
“My company is due to go on an expedition next month,” said Karcan. “At that time, we will start with the Seventh Cultivation Village and then go on to attack the rest of the cultivation villages. Froto-dono, I will have you join us as well.”
“To ensure that we do not leave anyone alive, we need you, Froto-dono, as you know your way around the villages from pretending to preach to them. If this succeeds, you will become a vassal of the duke’s house, too. I’m counting on you.”
Despite the ominous feeling that he got from becoming involved in a deeper conspiracy than he had counted on, Froto couldn’t turn back now.
Vandalieu, who had inadvertently put a stop to all of Karcan’s plans, was passing through the marketplace and heading towards the Adventurers’ Guild.
His objective was, of course, to register as an adventurer.
Things have changed after I learned various things, but now is the perfect opportunity to register.
Now that it was clear that the Hartner Duchy had betrayed Talosheim, Vandalieu had a new objective of rescuing the Titan slaves from the slave-run mines, where they were still being exploited.
He had already contacted Talosheim regarding this; Borkus was apparently so furious that he wanted to invade the duchy right this moment.
How reliable he was.
The reason Vandalieu was still registering as an adventurer despite this was because if he let this chance pass him by now, the next opportunity to do so might be years away.
Vandalieu had also disposed of the Vampire that had been stationed here by the Pure-breed Vampires worshipping the Evil God of Joyful Life, turning him into an ally. Even the criminal syndicate controlling the city of Niarki had become his puppet.
I’ll quickly register, leave the city right away, regroup with Eleanora and the others, wait for night to fall and then fly towards the duchy’s capital.
Either way, Vandalieu needed to wait for nightfall before flying, so there was no problem with this.
It would be problematic if he had a clichéd encounter with delinquent adventurers, though.
“Still, it’s good that I learned that there are a lot of things I need to work as an adventurer. To think that I’d at least need a house.”
Normally, adventurers wouldn’t need a house to work as an adventurer. New adventurers used cheap lodging houses, while many veteran adventurers used inns that they were familiar with as their bases.
However, Vandalieu had circumstances unlike those of other adventurers in that he had Borkus, Zadiris, Sam and Eleanora to worry about.
They wouldn’t be treated as “people.” They were “monsters” that Vandalieu had tamed. As such, Vandalieu couldn’t use an inn.
It was similar to restaurants and boarding houses on Earth that didn’t allow their customers to bring pets. And in this case, they weren’t pets, but monsters that were feared more than wild beasts.
If they were small monsters like Pixies, there probably wouldn’t be any problems, and for those like Eleanora and Zadiris who looked like normal people at first glance, things might work out at certain inns. But it would certainly be impossible for Knochen and Bone Man.
Of course, there were adventurers who were tamers, but when they used inns, they left their monsters in barns. Whether they were Goblins, Kobolds or even Ghouls, they would have to stay in barns.
Because of this, if Vandalieu wanted to use an inn, Borkus, Bone Man, and even Eleanora and the Ghouls if they weren’t allowed to use a guest room, would have to be treated like horses and kept in a barn.
Truly savage behavior.
Though after realizing this last night, Eleanora had prepared herself for this, thinking, “To humiliate myself in such a way before anyone other than Vandalieu-sama… But if it is for Vandalieu-sama’s sake.”
“In order to work as an adventurer, I need to attend the adventurers’ school, but even before that, I need to take money from bandits and criminal organizations, gather treasures from Dungeons and buy a big house,” said Vandalieu. “Huh, isn’t it normally the other way around?”
It was strange to think that in order to become an adventurer and make achievements for himself, he needed to become rich and acquire a house. But if he worked alone, he couldn’t acquire Experience Points due to his curse, and he wouldn’t be able to endure the loneliness.
On top of that, he had no confidence that he would be able to gain companions to form a party at the adventurers’ school.
A house was necessary after all.
“Even if I do use money to buy a house, I can’t walk around cities publicly with everyone unless I receive collars and necklaces that prove that I’ve tamed them. Becoming an adventurer is so troublesome,” Vandalieu thought aloud as he passed a deserted Church of Vida and arrived at the Adventurers’ Guild building.
It was a two-story building built in an area so large that the branch in the Seventh Cultivation Village, the entire jack-of-all-trades store, could fit inside it dozens of times over. Excluding the buildings of the region’s lord, it was among the five largest buildings in the city of Niarki.
The buildings for Guild branches in cities really are big. Even Vandalieu, who normally lived in the royal castle of Talosheim, was impressed.
He gave a short prayer, hoping that he wouldn’t get into a fight with some delinquent adventurer.
He gathered his resolve and opened the door to the Guild. The time of day where the Guild would be packed with adventurers looking for requests to accept had passed, so there were few adventurers present. There were receptionists sitting at the reception counter, and behind them, there were other employees doing paperwork.
Vandalieu proceeded silently and managed to reach the counter. Without getting into any fights.
It seems my prayer has been heard, Vandalieu thought, but he was mistaken. It was simply that most of the adventurers hadn’t even noticed him, and even if they did notice him, there weren’t many who would pick a fight with a child like him.
Most children who come to the Adventurers’ Guild are either newbies coming to register, G-class adventurers or students of the adventurers’ school.
And if someone were to say, “You think a brat like you can be an adventurer?!” and pick a fight with a G-class adventurer who did work like manual labor in the city and cleaning the Guild, they would receive only scornful laughter.
Things would only be more tragic for them if they were to pick a fight with a student enrolled at the adventurers’ school. Positions as instructors at the adventurers’ school are popular for adventurers who have retired from the front lines. If people pick fights for no reason and try to threaten others, they would only anger their seniors and make it harder for themselves to be reemployed in the future.
So, the cliché scenario of the “boorish senior adventurer who picks fights with newbies” only occurs when new adventurers graduate the adventurers’ school and begin their real adventures. Alternatively, it is often the child who starts the fight.
There are indeed people in all lines of work who are so hopelessly low that common sense is lost on them, but… they wouldn’t be present in every Guild branch at every hour of the day.
Perhaps in the sense that there were no such people currently in the Niarki branch of the Guild, Vandalieu’s prayer had indeed been heard.
“Excuse me,” said Vandalieu, calling out to a receptionist. “I want to register as an adventurer.”
“! A-ah, yes.” It seemed that the receptionist hadn’t noticed him; she looked surprised for a moment before quickly giving him a businesslike smile and handing him a pen and a paper form. “Please fill out your name, age, race and specialties if you have any. Do you need someone to fill it out on your behalf?” she asked.
“No, it’s not a problem,” said Vandalieu. “But what kind of things should I write under specialties?”
He had heard about the application process for the Adventurers’ Guild of two hundred years ago from Borkus and the process in the Mirg shield-nation from Kachia, but things were different in different time periods and different nations. It was best to make sure he was filling out the form correctly.
“For specialties, you should write things like any training you have received from former adventurers, affinity for attributes, your qualities and any unique skills you possess,” said the receptionist.
“Even my unique skills? Don’t you find out my skills when you issue my Guild Card?” Vandalieu asked.
“Yes, that is correct, but your skills that are revealed when you register are kept confidential, so they will only be known to the staff member in charge of your registration. When you write your unique skill in the specialties field of the form, it is a declaration of your intent to make that unique skill public and make use of it in competing requests,” the receptionist explained.
For example, if an adventurer possessed a unique skill that granted the ability to deal extra damage against certain species of monsters, such as Goblin Slayer or Dragon Slayer, the Guild would set up requests suitable for that skill and introduce appropriate clients to that adventurer.
But if the adventurer wanted to keep the skill a secret, it would basically be sealed within the mind of the staff member.
It seems like there would be exceptions, though… like they would actually tell the Guild Master, or something like that.
The Adventurers’ Guild was run by people after all, so it was probably best not to rely too much on their confidentiality policy.
In fact, though Vandalieu was unaware of this, a Guild Master of the Adventurers’ Guild in the Mirg shield-nation had fraudulently promoted the Green Wind Spear Riley at Earl Thomas Palpapek’s demand.
Of course, there were some Guild Masters who managed their branches in a wholesome manner, but there were also those who did not.
In that case, I can just leave the specialties field blank.
Vandalieu would dash out of the city after registering. He submitted the form after filling in only the fields for his name, race and age.
“This is…” For some reason, the receptionist opened her eyes wide as she took the form and then gave Vandalieu a pitiful look. “According to what you have written in this form, you are a seven-year-old Dhampir. Is that correct, Vandalieu-san?”
Even if Vandalieu tried to deceive her, his real name, age and race would be revealed once his Guild Card was issued. So, of course, he had filled in the form with complete honesty.
“Yes, that’s right,” he told the receptionist.
I suppose Dhampirs are rare after all, Vandalieu thought as he removed the cloth concealing one of his eyes, showing her that he really was a Dhampir.
“Then… I’m afraid you cannot register,” the receptionist said with a grave expression as she saw his crimson and purple odd-colored eyes.
Vandalieu blinked a few times, bewildered by this unbelievable response. But the receptionist’s expression didn’t change, nor did she correct her statement.
“Why is that?” he asked. “I thought that those under the age of ten registering to become adventurers just need to take a simple test?”
If the examination was passed… If the applicant was able to demonstrate that they possessed the intelligence and decision-making ability equivalent to that of a ten-year-old child, they would be registered as a G-class adventurer. As for whether they could become F-class or higher, just like other underage adventurers, it would be decided after they graduated from the adventurers’ school.
At least, that was how it was supposed to be, but –
“Under the joint signature of Lord Belton and the Guild Master of the Guild headquarters of the Hartner Duchy, the rules have been changed. Children under the age of ten who have mixed blood including blood of Vida’s races that originate from monsters such as Lamias and Centaurs do not have the right to sit the examination,” the receptionist told him. “Of course, this includes Dhampirs.”
The system had changed so that Vandalieu couldn’t register as an adventurer in the Hartner Duchy until he reached the age of ten where he would be able to attend the adventurers’ school – another three years or so.
Kasim and his friends hadn’t mentioned it, but they hadn’t intentionally kept it from Vandalieu. They were all humans; the only ones affected by this system change were Beast-people, Titans, Dark Elves and people of mixed blood of those races. Beings like Vampires or Lamias were considered to be monsters. Children born between humans and such beings with their human features being more prominent than their monster ones were a minority.
Kasim and his friends couldn’t be blamed for not remembering the change.
And now that he thought about it, Vandalieu realized that he had never told them that he was seven years old. Because he had decapitated a Goblin Barbarian and used advanced life-attribute magic (or at least, Kasim and the others believed this) to heal Ivan, it wouldn’t be surprising if they had assumed that Vandalieu was older than he looked.
“Yes. And rumor has it that the rules will change again this year so that such individuals will not have the right to enroll at the adventurers’ school…” the receptionist wore a regretful expression as her words trailed off.
If what she said came to pass, Vandalieu wouldn’t be able to become an adventurer for another eight years, never mind three.
“I… see…” said Vandalieu, trying to suppress his shock in order to think.
It was unpleasant that Lord Belton and the Guild Master had made a change to the system and rules that seemed to target him specifically. Including the way that Talosheim and the Titans had been betrayed, Vandalieu would never forget this.
But there would be no meaning in protesting here. It was best that Vandalieu give up and leave the city.
And once he dealt with the matters at hand, he would simply need to look for an opportunity to register as an adventurer in another duchy.
He wouldn’t wait eight years. It would be fine to register next year or the year after. Normally, it would be difficult for a child living in this world to go to another duchy (which was essentially another country), even if that child was in a trading city near a border between duchies. But Vandalieu would be able to do so easily by flying through the sky.
This wasn’t a large problem. Yes, it was unpleasant, but it wasn’t a large problem.
But someone behind Vandalieu raised his voice. “Hang on a second, will you?”
The receptionist in front of Vandalieu and even the other employees and adventurers started to stir in commotion as their attention was drawn to the voice’s owner.
Vandalieu opened his eyes wide without turning around.
He had heard this voice somewhere before.