Korf, who managed the caravan of merchants who delivered materials to the slave-run mine, felt a strange uneasiness.
There had been all kinds of things happening in the Hartner Duchy recently.
First, a Dungeon had appeared at the city of Niarki and a monster rampage had occurred, causing a great deal of panic.
The monster rampage and the Dungeon, named ‘Heinz’s Skeleton Cavern,’ had been dealt with by the A-class adventurer party, the Five-colored Blades. After the Dungeon was explored, it was declared to be a C-class dungeon with thirty floors and that monsters shouldn’t emerge from within as long as the monster population inside was periodically kept in check.
Apparently, there were many Undead, venomous insectoid monsters and poisonous plant-type monsters; most of the floors were caves, swamps or forests.
During the monster rampage, all of the monsters had been more powerful than their Ranks, but the monsters had now returned to normal strength.
But it seemed that when the Blue-flamed Sword Heinz entered the Dungeon, the monsters would flood towards him.
This was a chance for the city of Niarki, especially the Adventurers’ Guild, as only small-to-medium-sized Devil’s Nests and D-class Dungeons had existed nearby until now. The monsters that appeared in the new Dungeon were unique, so the Dungeon wouldn’t be very popular, however.
The merchants of the caravan anticipated that new, rare drugs could be created from the monsters’ venom. They didn’t care about the rumors that the remnants of the Demon King had created a Dungeon in order to kill the heroes of the Five-colored Blades, particularly targeting its leader Heinz. It was nothing more than a topic of idle conversation.
After that, the castle in Nineland, the Hartner Duchy’s capital, had sunk. Not in the metaphorical, economic sense, but physically. The merchants hadn’t seen it for themselves, so they found it difficult to believe, but it was certain that the castle had suffered large damage. An outlaw who had gone on a violent rampage in the north was apparently involved in the incident, but the smaller details hadn’t been released yet.
Either way, the merchants had thought that this event had no direct effect on them, as they operated in remote regions. They only hoped that taxes wouldn’t increase to fund the castle’s repair.
But after leaving the city of Niarki, staying a night in a cultivation village and then heading further south to the slave-run mine, they realized that this wasn’t the case.
“Boss… no matter how many times I count, there’s a mountain missing.”
“I see, so you thought so as well.”
After they left the cultivation village, they drew closer to the slave-run mountain that was their destination over the first and second day, giving them a view of the rocky mountains lined up against each other, but… the scenery that they had seen countless times was now different.
There was one less mountain than there should have been.
“What is the meaning of this? Was there a great earthquake or something?”
“If there was an earthquake large enough to collapse a mountain, even the city of Niarki wouldn’t be unharmed. The people at the cultivation villages would have known something, too. And if that really were the case, the other mountains would have crumbled as well.”
“So, are you saying that the tunnels collapsed, causing the whole mountain to collapse?”
“There’s no doubt that some fearsome monster has appeared; I’m sure it was the same demon that sank the castle!”
“We agreed that that was a false rumor, right? Calm down!”
“Stay calm! We always say that if you panic, you’ll only cause yourself harm, don’t we!” shouted the caravan leader Korf, reprimanding his subordinate merchants. But he was aware that this was a state of emergency.
With that said, that didn’t mean that they could simply turn around and return to the city.
“Everyone, keep your weapons in hand,” Korf ordered. “Escorts, please be ready to fight at any time.”
“We’re going to keep going?!”
“Of course,” said Korf. “How can we run away without knowing what happened? We’re merchants!”
It was certainly an emergency situation, but there wasn’t any threat or danger that they could see yet. They couldn’t hear any volcanoes erupting or fearsome monsters howling.
If the caravan turned back now, they would be breaching their contract. Their carriages contained the food supplies and other necessities, as well as luxury items, for the slave-run mine.
If some kind of disaster had occurred at the slave-run mountain and the survivors were waiting for rescue, they might all die if the caravan fled without even investigating the scene. Never mind being charged a fine; in the worst-case scenario, Korf’s head could be sent flying, physically. Even if that didn’t happen, cowards who would say, “Something appeared to be happening, so we got scared and turned back,” didn’t have the right to form a caravan operating in remote regions.
That was why Korf’s caravan needed to confirm what had happened at the slave-run mine.
In this world, merchants couldn’t survive just by counting revenues and expenditures. They needed to risk their lives to gain the trust of others.
On the third day, they saw that the outer wall and gate of the slave-run mine had collapsed and been destroyed. However, there wasn’t any sign of vicious monsters or armed forces occupying the mine.
With that being the case, it was unlikely that the caravan would suddenly be wiped out. Believing this, they cautiously drew closer… and the men of Korf’s caravan saw something terrifying.
“S-skeletons! The soldiers… no, the slaves have all turned into Skeletons!”
Monsters made only of white bones, their bones rattling with each movement and their jaws clattering in place of laughter.
There were Skeletons equipped with the armor and weapons of the soldiers, as well as Titan Skeletons over two meters tall wearing worn-out pieces of cloth instead of clothes with pickaxes and shovels in their hands… it looked like there were hundreds of them.
“Run, run back to the city, we have to tell the people in the city about this!”
There probably weren’t any survivors; even if there were, this was too much for Korf’s caravan to do anything about it. Having decided this, they fled back to the city of Niarki with the news that the mine had vanished and that the soldiers and slaves had turned into Skeletons.
And so, news of a third large incident spread, sending shockwaves throughout the Hartner Duchy.
One of the members of the Five-colored Blades, Edgar, noticed that the higher-ranking members of the Fangs of Dark Nights had been replaced by Undead, and through the party’s efforts, a Vampire Zombie was exterminated. After that, they headed for Nineland by joint request of the Hartner family and the Church of Alda.
Around the same time, Vandalieu and those accompanying him arrived back in Talosheim and were now resting.
“Holy Son, congratulations on the fulfilment of the prophecy! Please grant us permission to build a new statue of you!” Nuaza exclaimed, worshipping Vandalieu as if he were a god walking on this world now that he had gained the Title of ‘Holy Son of Vida.’
“Your Majesty, now that you are ruling over new citizens, there has never been a better opportunity to create our own currency!” said Chezare, insistent now that the nation had gained hundreds of new citizens.
“Vandalieu, I told you through the communication devices as well, but there’s a new Dungeon. When are we going to clear it?” asked Vigaro, excited about the upcoming new adventure.
The three of them were all talking to Vandalieu at once in the castle, but he didn’t have the ability to answer them right now.
“It’s been quite a while since I felt this smooth, cool sensation of patting him,” Basdia remarked.
“You are absolutely right,” Tarea agreed. “By the way, won’t you people hold back a little? If you don’t, it will feel like I am embracing you.”
“If you feel that way, lose some of your meat,” said Zadiris. “Not only your upper arms, but you must get rid of some of your fat as well. Right, boy?”
“Wow, King’s tongue can grow so long! Look, Mama, it’s like an earthworm!” exclaimed Varbie.
“You’re right, it’s longer than you are, Varbie,” said Bilde. “King, what’s the inside of your mouth like?”
There were clicking noises.
“Huh? This isn’t his tongue, but a centipede-san?”
“Your tongue won’t grow,” Bilde told her. “… It won’t grow, will it?”
All of the women had flooded towards Vandalieu.
For the men, the only parts of Vandalieu visible between all of the women who were engaging in physical contact with Vandalieu for the first time in a month were his limbs and his tongue.
“I did hear about it, but he really is popular with the women,” Levia remarked in a surprised tone.
“That’s right; it is Vandalieu-sama, after all,” said Eleanora.
Rita giggled. “Are you surprised?” She and Eleanora seemed to be boasting, for some reason.
“Hey, why are you boasting, Eleanora? Rita? Shouldn’t your reaction be a little different here?” asked Saria. But she couldn’t stop Basdia and the others from doing what they were doing; she had done the same thing as them.
Incidentally, Borkus was leading Gopher and the other Titans around the city, and for some reason, Sam was practicing flying through the sky. It seemed that he had been provoked by the fact that Vandalieu had become able to turn into an enormous bird and fly through the sky, but would a carriage really become able to fly through practice?
“Isn’t it about time you all calmed down?” asked Vandalieu, surrounded by warm, soft, pleasant-smelling skin. “And my tongue won’t grow any longer, so stop pulling it. Everyone wasn’t so assertive before. And there were times where you wouldn’t see me for days at a time, weren’t there?” he pointed out.
Nobody would see him for days while he was clearing Dungeons other than those in his party. But nobody had embraced him so passionately when he returned to Talosheim on those occasions.
“It is as you say, boy. But things have been difficult for the past little while,” said Zadiris. “Well, we didn’t really mind half of the Undead Titans all leaving Talosheim at once, however,” she added.
“Yeah, the walls you built are solid, Van, and normally, we would be clearing the Dungeons and hunting monsters in the nearby Devil’s Nests, so the monsters were being kept in check sufficiently,” said Basdia. “But –”
“Making preparations to accommodate the new citizens and welcome everyone coming back has been difficult,” said Tarea. “In particular, teaching the other Ghouls about the marriage system and making them understand it.”
“Yes, it’s been truly difficult,” said Kachia. “All of us former humans were lecturing them for a whole day. They didn’t object to what we were saying, it simply took a long time to make them understand.”
The biggest concern that they had about welcoming Gopher and the other new inhabitants was the way Ghouls conducted their sexual relationships. Ghouls had no culture regarding marriage, so it was possible that they would cause trouble by calling out to others who already had children and spouses.
The Magic Items that Vandalieu had distributed had improved the Ghouls’ fertility, and their everyday lives had become more stable recently, so their nights were less wild than before; they weren’t simply looking for whichever partners might be available. Ghouls had their preferences, too.
Also, Vandalieu as well as Nuaza and the other Titans had long since explained to the Ghouls how relationships between men and women worked in the societies of other races. Because of this, the Ghouls had acknowledged marriage as a situation where one worked intimately with their partner in order to bear and raise their children.
But there were still occasions where they would call out to each other and say, “I don’t have a partner right now, so do you want to?” If a child was born, they would say things like, “Alright, I’ll help you until they become adults,” so the men weren’t completely irresponsible, but… only if this happened between individuals who both had long lifespans.
If their partners had a proper view on marriage, there could be complications with jealousy and even bloodshed could occur.
That was why the Ghoul chief Zadiris and Basdia, her daughter who would one day become Vandalieu’s partner, as well as the Ghouls who had once been humans, had educated the other Ghouls regarding this matter.
Incidentally, the marriage system wasn’t as proper as that of Earth; people wouldn’t submit documents to the government. They would simply tell their parents, relatives, neighbors and coworkers that they had gotten married.
The only documents involved were the family trees of nobles and royalty.
But in the reborn Talosheim, everyone would leave behind documented records.
“Thank you, everyone,” said Vandalieu. “You’ve saved me a lot of trouble. Chezare, how is the family register coming along?”
“The documents have already been prepared,” Chezare reported. “Now we simply need to have them filled in and everything will be complete.”
According to Vandalieu’s will, a family register had been introduced to Talosheim. There was a system for distributing food, so it would be more convenient to have a family register.
Chezare and the others currently managed it… although he was a general, not a civil official. Had he forgotten this himself, perhaps?
“Well then, how is the Dungeon?” Vandalieu asked.
“We’ve kept an eye on it and the areas around it, but monsters aren’t coming out. We’re going to go and clear them now,” said Basdia.
“Thank you,” said Vandalieu. “That Dungeon was probably something I created, so it might be different from other Dungeons.”
Considering the timing of the appearance of the new Dungeon that had appeared in Talosheim’s forest of Immortal Ents, the Labyrinth Construction skill was clearly involved.
That would normally be something to be surprised about, but…
“So that’s it after all. We thought so,” said Basdia.
“Indeed,” Sam agreed.
“All of the citizens believed that this was the case,” said Nuaza.
Nobody was surprised.
“… Everyone’s reactions are so weak,” said Vandalieu.
“Everyone knows that you put a huge amount of your Mana into that forest, Van,” said Basdia. “Everyone was already saying that a Dungeon might appear there.”
“Dungeons are not things that could normally be created artificially, but your Mana is in the hundreds of millions,” Zadiris added. “Normal limits do not apply to you.”
“Yes, it is wonderful,” said Tarea. “If you simply create Dungeons in hostile nations and cause monster rampages, we can defeat them without having to fight!”
“Hey, if there are monsters other than Undead and insects, we’ll be wiped out as well!” Kachia pointed out.
“If you can choose what the terrain of the Dungeon is like, I kind of want to see an ocean. Can you do it?” asked Basdia.
It seemed that Vandalieu’s ability to create Dungeons had been accepted. Tarea’s thoughts were quite dangerous, but Kachia had reprimanded her for them.
Incidentally, Varbie, Jadal and Pauvina were playing with Vandalieu’s tongue as if they were grabbing an eel.
Vandalieu’s tongue was secreting a lotion-like substance that was gentle on the skin, so there weren’t any problems with hygiene.
“First of all, let’s sort out places for Gopher and the others to live and allocate food and other necessities so that they won’t have problems for a while,” said Vandalieu. “Then we’ll decide how the criminal slaves will be treated, and after that, let’s start clearing and inspecting the Dungeon. Regarding currency, I’ve given Datara the coins we brought from the Hartner Duchy; we’ll need to figure out their ratios of valuable metals first. But please think of possible names for the currency and hand your suggestions to Chezare. And about the statue of me… go ahead and build it whenever you want.”
Examining the Dungeon and ensuring that it was safe was the top priority. Currency came after that, and the statue… there was an additional one being built every year, so Vandalieu didn’t really mind it now.
“Let’s leave Bone Man and Knochen to watch over the Dungeon while we get our new citizens settled in,” said Vandalieu. “If we neglect to do this, it’ll become a disaster in the future.”
Vandalieu didn’t know how things were in Origin, but on Earth, there had always been conflict with existing inhabitants when new inhabitants moved in. The strain caused by immigration policies.
Just because he had brought new citizens and convinced them to live here didn’t mean that the work was over.
“So, it’s about time you let me go,” Vandalieu told the women.
“Eh, let’s play some more!” Pauvina protested.
In the end, Vandalieu went to check up on the new citizens while dragging everyone along with him.
It seemed that the new citizens would settle into Talosheim more quickly than Vandalieu had imagined.
“I was surprised about a lot of things at first. It was like we’d gone back in time two hundred years, and when we went inside, the buildings and streets looked even more fancy than they did two hundred years ago,” said Gopher as she placed a Reversi piece on a board with a clack.
Vandalieu had used Golem Transmutation to repair Talosheim’s townscape that had turned into a ruin. Thus, it didn’t look much different from before the city’s destruction.
But carvings in the shapes of faces and eyes of people and birds created by Undead Titan stonemasons now decorated the city all over. They were actually all Golems designed to detect intruders, but they looked artistic and gave the city a mystical appearance.
As a result, Talosheim’s townscape was something that wouldn’t fall short even if compared to Nineland, the capital of the Hartner Duchy.
“Also, you’re very generous,” said Gopher, pointing at the honey-colored cloth of the simple piece of clothing that she was wearing. These were the new clothes that had been distributed to her and the other former Titan slaves after only ever having worn clothes made of tattered linen.
They had all been made from the honey silk produced by the Cemetery Bees. Each person had been given several of them. They had even been given shoes, hats, essential furniture and houses.
“… It’s quite a cheap product, you know?” said Vandalieu. “The cloth isn’t dyed, and I’m sure it won’t do much against the cold in the winter. Over half of the furniture is stuff I put together really quickly, and the houses were already there and I just allocated them to you. Actually, the houses belonged to you in the first place, didn’t they?”
“That’s true, but you’re the one who repaired those houses out of the rubble, aren’t you?” Gopher pointed out. “Your Majesty, are you aware? There’s a big fuss among the ones from the cultivation village.”
In Lambda, no matter how great a cultivation project, the people of the cultivation villages wouldn’t be provided with living necessities, houses and everything else that they needed. Even those sponsored by the king of a great nation wouldn’t be provided with clothes of fine material that only noblemen would wear and fully-furnished, properly-built stone houses.
There had been quite a bit of chaos as those from the First Cultivation Village wondered if they were dreaming and bowed before the Ghouls who distributed the supplies.
Perhaps this was only natural, as they had gone from being people of the lowest class in a slave-run mine and suddenly gained a quality of life that exceeded their previous social positions.
“A little,” said Vandalieu. “But there is a reason for this. You were all slaves and didn’t have any living necessities other than the ones you stole at the mine, so you wouldn’t be able to live unless I provided them to you. Also, the houses are actually vacant, so it would be more troublesome to not have you live in them.”
The former slaves didn’t have anything that could be called assets, so there was no choice but to provide them with assets. And since Vandalieu was supplying them, he couldn’t deliberately give them poor products… in fact, there were no poor products to give them.
The honey silk was the cloth that he was producing most stably; it would have actually been more problematic to give them linen or cotton clothes. Vandalieu had created over half of the furniture, but he hadn’t used any particularly special materials. He had simply used Golem Transmutation to change the shapes of some pieces of wood.
As for the houses, he hadn’t done anything other than allocate them to people. He had shuffled people around so that they weren’t all living in once place, however.
“Wouldn’t it be horrible of me to not provide you with anything and tell you to live however you can? I don’t have a hobby of collecting empty houses,” said Vandalieu as he clacked his own piece onto the board. “Ah, but I’m happy that you feel grateful towards me,” he added.
“Yes, yes, we are very grateful,” said Gopher.
“More importantly, what about the stuff other than the practical side of living here?” Vandalieu asked. “The religion or the Undead, for example.”
“Ah, that? Everyone is calmer about it than you expected,” Gopher replied. “Nobody is rejecting anything.”
Vandalieu’s greatest fear initially was that the former slaves would reject the Undead, Ghouls and the races that he had created such as the Black Goblins. But according to Gopher, there was no need to worry about that for now.
“Everyone prepared themselves to some extent after seeing Levia-sama and Oyaji,” Gopher explained. “And the Ghouls turned out to be pretty nice after actually meeting them, didn’t they? I was a little surprised at the black Goblins, Orcs and Kobolds, and we were pretty dumbfounded to see plants moving around in the fields and forest, but… Well, I suppose it’s nothing to worry about.”
It seemed that the former slaves were more tolerant than Vandalieu had expected. Perhaps it was because they were inhabitants of a world where there were different races with different appearances and ways of living.
Also, the fact that many of them were believers of Vida was perhaps one reason they were so tolerant towards Undead.
“As for religion, it doesn’t even need to be said,” said Gopher. “It’s not like we bowed before Alda because we wanted to. We have the ‘Holy Son of Vida’ here, too.”
“Huh. I suppose that’s true,” said Vandalieu.
His new ‘Holy Son of Vida’ Title was the biggest reason for that tolerance.
The fact that Vandalieu possessed this Title was essentially equivalent to the goddess Vida’s personal authorization of his actions. The truth was that the goddess didn’t necessarily see everything, but this was how it was being interpreted.
Because of this, Gopher and the other former slaves from Talosheim, who had believed in Vida from the very beginning as well as those from the cultivation village, who were originally from the Sauron Duchy where Vida’s religion had prospered, treated Vandalieu as a saint or prophet.
From Vandalieu’s point of view, things had just turned out this way as a result of him doing whatever he could and whatever he had wanted to do. But Vida was the one god in this world who was friendly towards him, so he was happy to have been acknowledged by her.
“Actually, you’re similar to the champion Zakkart, aren’t you? I’m sure he used some crazy magic,” said Gopher.
She and the other former slaves already knew of Vandalieu’s past, which had been announced when he was crowned king of Talosheim.
“It’s a little different, though. I don’t have cheat-like abilities or anything,” said Vandalieu as he placed a black piece on the board, flipping a white piece over to turn it black.
From now on, when people came to Talosheim, they would find out about Vandalieu’s past. Leaving aside whether it would actually be believed, the entire continent would know about it once Talosheim began trading with foreign countries.
Vandalieu didn’t feel any risk in this, however.
Being found out by the others reincarnating here or being found out by the Empire or the believers of Alda were meaningless worries.
There were so many things in the city that Vandalieu had reproduced from another world, like miso, soy sauce, mayonnaise and ketchup. It would be stranger to think that he would be able to keep it hidden.
If those reincarnated here learned that there was a nation exporting miso and soy sauce, they would probably realize that someone from Earth like them was in that nation, and he would be noticed by the Empire and followers of Alda who prohibited the use of knowledge and technology from another world.
That was why it would be healthier on Vandalieu’s mind to simply announce that he had lived in another world in his previous life than to deal with the stress of keeping it a secret. That was what he thought.
“More importantly –” Gopher began.
“Ah, the criminal slaves?” said Vandalieu. “I’ve assigned them work based on what they’re suited to, and I’m planning to release them depending on how they work.”
Most of the criminal slaves he had brought back to Talosheim wouldn’t be considered evil people by a Japanese person’s values, but that didn’t mean that he could simply acquit them.
That was why he had heard their requests and had them work under stonemasons, blacksmiths, arms smiths and potters, as well as having them do manual labor and farming work. This also served as training for them to find work in the future, so they would likely be useful after they were released, too.
Incidentally, they were being treated worse than people in Japanese prisons. If they lived like Japanese prisoners, other than a lack of freedom, they would be living more luxurious lifestyles than even middle-class workers in Lambda.
Japanese prisoners had three meals a day with sufficient nutrition, worked eight hours a day with no overtime and got one day’s rest every week. In Lambda, which had no Labor Standards Act, this would be incredibly good treatment.
Thus, in Talosheim, the slaves were given two meals a day and one day’s rest every ten days.
Even then, it was difficult to call this treatment poor in comparison to Lambda’s servants and employees who were only given a few days’ rest a year, and it was heaven compared to the lifestyle they had in the slave-run mine.
“No, not them –”
“The children? I’ll have them learn reading, writing and arithmetic before listening to what they want and having them work in the supply distribution center and the Church. Some of them are wondering if I’ll make them attend me at night in the future, but I have no plans to do that,” said Vandalieu.
“I know,” said Gopher. “Anyone would know that you have no time for that with one look at thatyou. What I want to ask is, between that one and this one, which one is the real you?”
There was one spirit-form Vandalieu in front of Gopher, materializing only his fingertips to move the pieces. There were other Vandalieus all over the place, talking to the people while performing physical examinations on them and cooking things on iron plates. And a little further away, there was another Vandalieu, surrounded by beautiful Ghoul Women, Princess Levia and a young girl who was even larger than Titan children, which was the Vandalieu that Gopher was talking about.
“Both are the real me,” Vandalieu replied.
“… You’re the one I find most difficult to understand after all, Your Majesty,” said Gopher.
“Muh, communication is difficult after all,” Vandalieu murmured.
Why is it so hard when I’m such a friendly, honest king who visits the people like this? he wondered.
【Holy Son of Vida】
This is a Title that indicates that the bearer is especially loved or acknowledged by Vida, the Goddess of Life and Love. In the past, only the founders of her new races such as Vampires or Dark Elves, or those she gave Divine Messages or trials, received this Title.
Because of this, such individuals are respected as saints by Vida’s followers and members of her races.
This Title increases the ability to understand Divine Messages from Vida, as well as providing a bonus to the Clergyman skill.
Normally, Life-Attribute Magic would receive a bonus as well, but Vandalieu does not have an affinity for the life attribute so he does not gain this bonus.