Gubamon, one of the two remaining Vampires worshipping Hihiryushukaka, the Evil God of Joyful Life, had been defeated.
Unlike Ternecia, his head and Magic Stone weren’t taken to the Adventurers’ Guild, nor did the Vampires who were his subordinates become disorderly groups that caused incidents in all regions.
However, rumors had slowly spread within criminal organizations that the Vampires of Gubamon’s faction had been ruling from the shadows, and among the merchants and noblemen who had been making deals with them.
Rumors that Gubamon had fallen, and that the Vampires who were his subordinates had been defeated by someone as well.
Those with connections to the Vampires were confused, as they no longer had anyone contacting them, nor were they given any orders. Of course, they would be beheaded if it was ever found that they had connections with the Vampires, so they didn’t voice this confusion aloud.
However, after several months of unnatural silence, their doubts were confirmed when Vampires from Birkyne’s faction appeared instead of their usual contacts, either seizing control over criminal organizations or offering a continuation of business.
Birkyne, the sole survivor, had tried to hide Gubamon’s death, but Gubamon had turned the majority of his own subordinates into Undead, so there was a shortage of hands even after gathering the few Vampires who had survived.
Thus, rumors surrounding Gubamon’s death slowly spread.
Just who had defeated such a monster who had been living since the age of the gods?
Had he been punished by some unknown hero in secret, or had Birkyne kicked him down in order to take control over the Bahn Gaia continent’s underworld for himself?
Or was there a monster that surpassed Pure-breed Vampires, lurking in the darkness?
“I’m sure some strong people like Heinz-oniichan and the rest of you exterminated the bad people,” said Selen, the Dhampir girl who had been saved and was now being protected by the Five-colored Blades, led by the S-class adventurer known as Heinz, the Blue-flamed Sword. These were her innocent thoughts.
Selen was a Dhampir born to a Vampire mother and human father. However, for some reason, the hidden house in the mountains that her family was living in was raided by thieves.
Selen didn’t know the details, but those thieves were a mercenary band hired by a nobleman with an evil desire for the beautiful, odd-colored eyes of Dhampirs.
It was likely that the Vampires had given information to that nobleman in order to dispose of the Dhampir Selen, her mother who was a traitor, and her father.
Selen’s mother had been a Noble-born Vampire, but not long had passed since she had become a Vampire, and she was inexperienced in both magic and martial skills. And Selen’s father was a simple hunter.
The mercenary band who attacked them was composed of over ten famous individuals with the skills of C-class adventurers, who would even accept dirty tasks from noblemen and wealthy merchants.
They had attacked the house with anti-Vampire preparations. Selen’s mother had fought hard to protect her daughter and husband, but she was defeated, her resistance in vain.
Selen’s father was heavily wounded as well, and the mercenaries closed in on Selen to gouge out her eyes.
That was when the Five-colored Blades, led by Heinz, came running.
It was around the time that Heinz, who had converted to Alda’s peaceful faction in the Orbaume Kingdom, had lost the Elf Spiritual Mage Martina in the wandering Dungeon, the Trial of Zakkart, and departed once more with his new party members, Diana and Jennifer.
They had happened to gain information on a mercenary band hired by a nobleman that was after a Dhampir girl, and they simply eradicated the mercenaries, treating them as simple bandits.
For Selen, they could only be described as heroes.
Unfortunately, her fatally-wounded father couldn’t be saved, but Heinz and his party were now continuing to protect her.
“I wonder what kind of people the ones who defeated the evil Vampire are?” she said, looking up at Jennifer with sparkling eyes.
“I wonder, too,” Jennifer said with a perplexed look. “As you said, Selen, there’s no doubt that they’re as strong as us or even stronger.”
“Eh? There are people that are stronger than you, Jennifer-oneechan?!” Selen exclaimed in surprise.
“Of course,” said Jennifer. “There is the Thunderclap Schneider in the Amid Empire, and I don’t know if he’s still alive, but there was another S-class adventurer called Randolf the True in this country, and they’re both definitely stronger than us. And there are plenty of other strong people.”
Jennifer herself was an A-class adventurer and had even acquired a superior skill. She had been given Alda’s divine protection, and possessed an Artifact as well. However, her words were not spoken out of modesty.
She was certain that Schneider, whose name had already spread across the continent before she was even born, and Randolf, who was the subject of heroic tales told by minstrels while she was a child, were clearly stronger than her and her companions.
At the same time, Jennifer suspected that the one who had defeated Gubamon might have been one of those two.
The Thunderclap Schneider has defeated Elder Dragons and evil gods before. He would be able to defeat Gubamon, who was just as powerful as Ternecia, whom we couldn’t defeat. The same goes for Randolf.
For Schneider, Jennifer couldn’t think of a reason why he hadn’t come forward if he was the one who had defeated Gubamon. In Randolf’s case, he had already taken a step back as an adventurer, so perhaps he simply didn’t want to cause a fuss.
However, these were only guesses. Assassins belonging to dark Guilds that accepted assassination requests and the special forces of the Amid Empire and Orbaume Kingdom. The existence of such people was half-superstition, but there were still plenty of powerful individuals that Jennifer and her companions didn’t know about.
And there was no guarantee that the one who had defeated Gubamon was on the humans’ side.
Something that was so fearsome that Ternecia made the effort of coming back to be killed by us. It might have been that.
What was the unidentified monster that had likely taken the Demon King’s horns from Ternecia doing right now?
Thinking about this question, Jennifer felt uneasy.
But she wouldn’t express this and make Selen feel anxious.
“But one day, we’ll become the strongest,” Jennifer said.
“Really? Amazing!” Selen exclaimed.
Jennifer laughed. “Heinz is still the only S-class, but me, Diana and everyone else will all become S-class as well,” she declared, puffing out her chest.
Selen’s eyes grew brighter.
But Diana, the Elf priestess of Mill, the goddess of Slumber, interrupted. “Jennifer, don’t get Selen so excited this late at night. Why would you tell her bedtime stories that would keep her awake? It’s important that Selen sleeps properly at night. To begin with, sleep is –”
“My bad, I’m sorry, so stop the lecturing. You’re making me sleepy as well, not just Selen,” said Jennifer.
Diana’s lecture regarding the goddess of slumber caused Selen to yawn immediately.
A masked man let out a muffled scream as he stumbled in a deserted alleyway at night.
“I thought it was too shallow,” sighed Heinz’s companion, the scout Edgar, who had thrust his bare fist instead of his trusty dagger into the man’s solar plexus.
There were over a dozen other people groaning as they lay on the ground nearby, wearing the same masks.
All of them were wearing lightweight leather armor that was easy to move in; they appeared to be assassins at a glance. However, the people lying on the ground were holding not daggers, but small maces, axes and some even had shields equipped on their arms.
“Both the way you used a fake request to draw us away from Selen, and your attack, were quite sloppy. Your footsteps were so noisy. I thought some kids were having a race in the middle of the night,” Edgar said.
“Sh-shut up… you traitor,” one of the masked men groaned in a strained voice. He was the leader… or rather, the one who had been put on the ground first, so he had recovered a little more than the others.
However, Edgar’s response to his words was scornful laughter. “Shut up, huh? Do you people understand that if you all shut up for all eternity, I wouldn’t have anything to complain about?”
Heinz looked down on the man with an angry gaze. He was suppressing his urge to kill them, but it was clear even through the man’s mask that he was terrified by the wrath of an S-class adventurer.
“Why… why do you people, who offer prayers to the god of law, go as far as to commit lawless, futile acts to try and lay your hands on Selen?” Heinz asked.
The masked men were not assassins or bandits, but priests who normally offered prayers at the Church and the priest-warriors who protected them.
In the Orbaume Kingdom, where Vida’s races that possessed monster ancestry were given human rights if they had favorable relationships with humans, these people were known as ‘Alda extremists.’
They were those who advocated that Vida’s races that originated from monsters, such as Scylla, Lamia and Centaurs, were not people but monsters that should be exterminated regardless of whether they were dangerous or not.
This opinion was commonplace in the Amid Empire, but it was considered to be a radical idea in the Orbaume Kingdom, and those who followed this idea normally disguised themselves as normal believers.
In order to assassinate the Dhampir girl being protected by Heinz’s party, these men had put up a fake request at the Adventurers’ Guild under the Church’s name, trying to draw Heinz and his companions away from her.
Edgar had seen through this and acted as if he had been fooled, pretending to leave Selen in the care of a trusted acquaintance. He had left the female Dwarf Delizah, as well as Jennifer and Diana, to protect Selen while he and Heinz attacked the extremists who had been lured out.
“You know what will happen if we hand you over to the guards without passing judgment on you here, don’t you?” said Heinz.
If extremists acted to carry out their beliefs, even if they were affiliated with the Church, they were punished harshly as criminals. Since they broke the law despite serving Alda, who ruled over law, it was only natural that they were punished more severely.
In cases where they armed themselves and planned to kill people, even if the murder was prevented, the criminals would not be able to escape becoming criminal slaves under the Orbaume Kingdom’s law.
The girl in question was someone under the protection of Heinz, an S-class adventurer, the great hero who slayed a Pure-breed Vampire, star of Alda’s peaceful faction, honorary nobleman. Since these men had targeted this girl, it was even possible that they would be executed.
But it seemed that the extremists were prepared for this.
“Do as you wish,” the man managed to groan, despite being unable to suppress his fear. “We intended to be caught by the guards even if we succeeded. Since we have disturbed law and order, it is only natural that we receive our punishment in a public place.”
“… Why are you so determined to try to kill Selen?” Heinz demanded. “What did she ever do? She’s just a child who has lost her real parents!”
“Because it’s the right thing to do!” the man shouted, as if his emotions were being squeezed out of him. “Alda said that Vida’s races are those who bring disorder to the world! Even if they are harmless now, even if they are friendly towards us, they will cause a great catastrophe one day! What’s wrong with obeying the words of our god?!”
The Alda extremists of the Orbaume Kingdom had felt a strong impatience at the fact that Heinz and his party had gathered fame.
He was an S-class adventurer, and even possessed the Guider Job that acted as proof that he was a champion.
And he was protecting a Dhampir girl.
There were already all kinds of movements to turn Selen into a symbol for the peaceful faction, and if Heinz and his party’s actions continued at this rate, there might even be a duke trying to make Selen an honorary noblewoman.
If that happened, the movement to acknowledge Vida’s races in the Orbaume Kingdom would grow stronger and stronger. It would be too late to change things then.
It was already quite late, but Selen had to be erased as soon as possible.
However, even if they wanted to take action, they couldn’t make use of a criminal organization… It wasn’t an issue of sentiment; the important figures among the extremists had connections to a certain criminal organization, but because Gubamon had been defeated by someone, that criminal organization had stopped working.
Thus, these masked extremists had no choice but to take the most extreme of approaches.
“The peaceful faction is a weak compromise, nothing more than heretical teachings! You people, those who spread these teachings as truth, are traitors!” the man shouted, forgetting his current situation.
A vein appeared on Edgar’s forehead as he moved to silence the man.
However, Heinz stopped him. “Indeed, you’re right,” he said. “Alda wished for the extermination of Vida’s races in the past, just as you say, and I’m sure that’s still true now. If that wasn’t the case, he wouldn’t have fought the goddess who battled the Demon King at his side. If he had changed his mind, he would have sent Divine Messages to the Pope and the clergymen of the Amid Empire, telling them to stop persecuting Vida’s races. The fact that this hasn’t happened means that what you extremists advocate and Alda’s will is one and the same.”
Not only Edgar and the masked man, but all of the other extremists stopped in surprise at Heinz’s words.
“W-what are you trying to say?” the masked man asked, bewildered at Heinz’s denial of the very foundations of the peaceful faction’s ideology.
Heinz asked him a question in turn. “I am a member of the peaceful faction and have a Dhampir girl under my protection, and yet Alda has bestowed his divine protection upon me and dispatches his Familiar Spirits to aid me. Why is that?”
If Alda’s will would not acknowledge Heinz’s actions, if he really was a heretical traitor, why could Heinz summon a Familiar Spirit with the Familiar Spirit Descent skill?
Was it not because Alda had acknowledged Heinz?
Heinz smiled bitterly at the masked man, who was lost for words, his eyes wide open. “With that said, that doesn’t mean what I advocate is right. I’m sure that Alda is wavering, too.”
“A god, waver? Is such a thing…”
“That’s what I want to find out. And if Alda says that the eradication of Vida’s races is right… I’ll ask him why, and persuade him otherwise,” said Heinz.
He would meet a god, hear what he had to say and then persuade him otherwise. Heinz’s words could even be considered arrogant. The masked man held his breath… and then exhaled loudly.
“This is our defeat,” he said, removing his mask to reveal his now-doubtless expression.
After this incident, the Alda extremists who had planned Selen’s assassination turned themselves into the guards’ station.
Of course, the death penalty was considered. Although Heinz appealed for their lives to be spared, they became criminal slaves. However, Heinz’s party purchased them and guided them on a search for the location of the Trial of Zakkart, and an adventure to investigate Alda’s true will.
This was the first record of Heinz guiding others as a Holy Guider.