This chapter was sponsored by Jeffery M. ($10), Tan J. ($20), Sverrir G. ($100), Garcia JP ($20), Doug W. ($50) [Extra length].
The row of wagons entered a base… and this marked the end of the criminal organization that had been mainly operating in slave trading on a reasonably large scale.
They had more fighting strength than the bandit groups that inhabited the area, and were capable of repelling the average adventurer party, but the one who had entered the base was Vandalieu.
A ninja force emerged from within Vandalieu’s body, consisting mainly of Black Goblins. The ninjas were as powerful as high-ranking adventurers, and the criminal organization couldn’t even put up a resistance.
“Vandalieu, couldn’t you have just aimed straight for the base like this instead of hiding among the slaves?” asked the ‘Aegis’ Melissa, who had black skin, pointed ears and two pairs of transparent wings emerging from her back… the insect wings that had grown as a result of her Chaos Skill and being equipped alongside insects by Vandalieu’s Group Binding Technique.
Melissa was thinking that it would have been easier to simply attack the carriages and question some of the men to learn of the base’s location.
Indeed, it would have been simple to exterminate this group of criminals with this method.
“Melissa, King hiding among the slaves didn’t slow down our disposal of these guys,” said Braga, the Black Goblin to have become a ninja who was now the captain of the ninja force.
“Wait, it’s not like I’m criticizing him. I was just wondering why he chose to do things this way,” said Melissa as she folded her wings away.
“Well, Melissa, your method would have been fine, but… I wanted to practice using Mental Encroachment and making a parasitic Demon King familiar. I wanted to test it on these guys, since it wouldn’t matter if it failed,” Vandalieu explained.
He had wanted to try using Mental Encroachment in a way that the targets still appeared to have their ordinary personalities while affected and did not suffer any lasting effects once the effects were removed. The ability to do this was very important now that he was out in a human society.
Live testing for creating a parasitic Demon King Familiar by replacing a part of the target’s brain and nerves with the Demon King’s sub-brain and nerves was also important.
If it were just testing, Vandalieu could have used samples like criminals or bandits after capturing them alive, or monsters, but… captured criminals had different psychologies from free ones, and the senses of monsters were different from those of humans.
Thus, it had been important to test them in a real-life situation.
“Also, I thought that it would be less likely that we get taken by surprise and less likely for there to be unnecessary damage if we snuck into the base without being detected,” said Vandalieu.
“I see, that makes sense,” said Melissa, bringing this conversation to a sound conclusion.
But a Dwarf with a greying beard and bald head interrupted. “IT MAKES NO SENSE AT ALL! DON’T FUCK WITH ME!” he shouted in a hoarse voice.
He was the leader of this criminal group, a fairly well-known figure in the underworld, the ‘Hyena’ Gozoroff.
Clad in half-plate armor and wielding a battle-axe and a spike-covered shield, he looked like an experienced mercenary.
His blue veins were visible on his forehead as he shouted angrily.
“You’ve got some guts to be having a leisurely conversation here! It’s true that you’ve done a number on us, but me and my main guys are still alive and kicking!” he declared.
A group of five, made up of Dwarves and humans who were apparently high-ranking members of the criminal organization, had gathered to continue their resistance.
“Don’t get so full of yourselves just because you managed to win over one of our bodyguards, you brats! We’ll slaughter those black Goblins and cut off them ears!” Gozoroff said menacingly.
Indeed, he was also threatening the one bodyguard – Girabat, who was armed with a sword and shield that he had retrieved from the corpse of one of the other criminals.
However, while Melissa and Braga were staring at Gozoroff, Vandalieu didn’t even glance at him.
Gozoroff claimed that he and his main members were still unharmed, but the rest of them had all been disposed of by the ninja force, Melissa and the Gehenna Bees.
And in this spacious room that was the base that Gozoroff and his men were trapped in, there was nothing like a hidden exit. Any possibility of him turning the situation around existed only in Gozoroff’s head.
“D-don’t look down on me, you bastards! I’ll dispose of that traitor, then take that woman and brat as hostages and get away!”
“No, we’re not really looking down on you,” said Girabat… whose body had been taken over by a parasitic Demon King Familiar using the Demon King’s sub-brain and nerves. Now, his body was under the control of one of Vandalieu’s clones.
Two Dwarves who were standing at the front, wielding a mace and a flail, charged at Girabat. A human man at the back took aim at Braga to keep him back, while another human began reciting an incantation. It seemed that they were well-versed in combat for bandits.
“Boulder Smash!” shouted one of the Dwarves.
“DIE, TRAITOR! HEAVY BLOW!” roared the other.
However, their movements were very slow in the eyes of the Demon King Familiar.
They’re around the level of D-class adventurers, maybe?
Thanks to the Demon King’s sub-brain and nerves, as well as Vandalieu’s clone, the reaction speed of Girabat’s body had increased dramatically.
The powerful Dwarves’ attacks were too slow in the face of these accelerated senses. However, the only thing that had been improved was Girabat’s reaction time.
Girabat’s body won’t last if it takes these blows directly.
“… Iron Wall, Iron Form,” said Girabat, activating martial skills to increase his defense and bending his knees as he received the flail and mace with his shield and the hard portion of his armor.
The Dwarves were astonished by the fact that he had been able to withstand their martial skills, and the fact that he had used a martial skill of Shield Technique, a Skill that he should have been unable to use.
“Girabat can use Shield Technique?? You bastard, when the hell did you learn Shield Technique?!”
Meanwhile, the arrow fired by the human man was deflected easily by Aegis, the invisible barrier cast by Melissa. The archer fired a second and third arrow, thinking that there should be a hole in the barrier somewhere, but he quickly learned that there were no holes in Aegis.
“It’s not like I haven’t been working hard,” Melissa muttered.
At first, she had only been able to use her ‘Aegis’ ability to produce a barrier that glowed visibly and was centered around herself. Through diligent training, she had succeeded in suppressing the barrier’s glow to make it almost completely transparent, and she was now able to cast it some distance away from herself.
Of course, this information had been kept hidden from the Bravers and the members of the Eighth Guidance. Murakami knew of it, as she had teamed up with him in her previous life. The only others who knew were Doug, whom she had an inseparable relationship with, and Kanako.
“I died to Pluto’s out-of-control Mana before I got a chance to use this in my previous life, though,” said Melissa.
“It happens,” said Braga.
“Boss! It’s no good; there’s a barrier or something that stops us from getting to any of them except Girabat!” the archer shouted.
“Then aim for Girabat, you bloody fool!” Gozoroff bellowed.
“There’s no way my arrows would do anything against a guy using the Iron Form martial skill, is there?!” the archer yelled back.
Meanwhile, the Demon King Familiar swung his sword at the two Dwarves at the front.
“Triple Slash,” he murmured.
“S-Stone Wall!” one of the Dwarves shouted, hastily raising his shield and activating a martial skill in response.
Girabat was no high-ranking officer of the criminal organization. But he was notorious from having been exiled from the Mercenaries’ Guild, and although he had not mastered the Shield Technique Skill, he was known within the organization as a man whose swords, dual-wielded with the Swordsmanship Skill, were capable of burying numerous foes at once.
Even with the exceptional Vitality of his race, the Dwarf would be cut clean straight through his armor if he were to receive a direct blow from Girabat’s Triple Slash.
However, as an Infested Demon King Familiar, Girabat was unable to activate the Triple Slash martial skill. He had simply spoken the words “Triple Slash” with his mouth. His sword was swung with speed, but there was no weight to his blow and it was deflected easily by the Dwarf’s shield.
“Ah…” Girabat uttered in surprise.
The sword had not only been deflected; it had broken in two halfway down the length of the blade.
Girabat had been swinging the sword with a reckless amount of force in the previous battle, already putting strain on it. It seemed that swinging it against a shield hardened by a martial skill had been the final straw.
“Alright, now! Do it, you wanna-be mage!” Gozoroff ordered.
“Flash!” shouted the man who had been reciting an incantation.
At the same time, the Dwarves regained their composure and attacked. But it was not only them; the archer aimed his remaining arrows at Girabat and Gozoroff swung his battle-axe down at him as well.
Blinded, the Demon King Familiar threw his broken sword with the Throwing Skill at the position he had seen his enemy before being blinded.
“Muh… Screw Strike, Shield Bash, Air Fist, Ten Consecutive Overarm Blows,” he muttered.
Sensing his enemies’ presence, he wielded his shield as a blunt weapon, and with his other hand, released a fist-shaped shockwave and then unleashed a series of overarm blows.
Screams and the sound of flesh and bone being torn and broken filled the air. When they subsided, it was only the Demon King Familiar and the barely-standing Gozoroff remaining.
Gozoroff let out a pained, bloody cough. “W-what was that movement… I couldn’t see your fists at all… My axe broke like it was made of candy…”
Trembling, Gozoroff dropped his axe, of which only the handle remained, onto the ground.
The people he had appointed as high-ranking officers had possessed plenty of skill to lead a group of ruffians. He had known the two Dwarves, members of his own race, for a particularly long time. They had been strong enough to face even adventurers head-on.
But one of the Dwarves was showing the whites of his eyes after having his shield punched, and the other was lying in a puddle of blood after receiving the overarm blows that had not landed on Gozoroff.
The archer in the back was on the ground with the broken sword protruding from his chest, and the mage was groaning in pain, his shoulder having been shattered to pieces by the Air Fist.
The archer and the bleeding Dwarf seemed to be alive, surprisingly, but they certainly would not be able to fight any further. Gozoroff was still standing, but he was barely conscious; he felt as if he could drop dead at any moment.
But the infested Demon King Familiar that had done all of this had not escaped unharmed.
Arrows had pierced his chest, and his shield had split in two. The arm that was not holding the shield was in a particularly terrible state; the bones were broken and mangled to the point that it was impossible to tell where his elbow was, and the hand had lost all of its fingers.
But the terrifying thing was that there was no reaction to this on his face.
“Melissa, it’s alright now. Thank you,” he said, spitting out the blood that had pooled in his mouth with no expression at all.
Melissa obeyed the Demon King Familiar’s orders… Vandalieu’s orders, and undid the Aegis. But Gozoroff was not capable of doing anything now.
“I can use my own Active Skills like Shield Technique, Throwing and Unarmed Fighting Technique without a problem, but I can’t use the base body’s Skills… Girabat’s Skills. And my Passive Skills have no effect, either,” the Demon King Familiar murmured.
Gozoroff looked bewildered. “What the hell are you saying, Girabat?” he asked.
But Girabat ignored this question, and Vandalieu approached Gozoroff instead.
“Well, this is to be expected, isn’t it. I have infested the body of this Girabat with a part of myself, taking over it and controlling it. Girabat is alive, but his consciousness is separate. Also, even if the base body’s reaction speed is improved, its muscles and skeleton stay the same, so it seems that it was unable to withstand the recoil,” said Vandalieu, sighing as he looked down at Girabat’s right arm that had now become useless after using Ten Consecutive Overarm Blows.
“King, is this going to be of any use in battle?” asked Braga.
“It might not,” Vandalieu replied. “The results might be different if I use a more powerful base body, but… it’s not worth taking the effort to find one and infest them with the Demon King’s sub-brain.”
“It was originally supposed to be for infiltration, right? It’ll work fine if you take some acting lessons from Kanako, right?” said Melissa.
“I already have, actually… and as a result, it has become clear that I am hopelessly unskilled at making facial expressions,” said Vandalieu.
“… That’s rather serious,” Melissa remarked.
“Y-you bastards… What are you talking about…?” Gozoroff demanded in bewilderment, finding himself ignored by Vandalieu and his companions once more.
Perhaps he had felt a small hope that he wouldn’t be killed.
“Ah, this is the summary of the results of this live-environment testing,” Vandalieu explained. “You’re the ‘Hyena’ Gozoroff, aren’t you? I’ll have you tell me about the slave traders that you were planning to do business with.”
Gozoroff chuckled weakly. “I don’t mind telling you, but those guys are legit slave traders, with the backing of nobles and the Commerce Guild. They’re good at erasing any evidence of handling illegal slaves. No matter what I tell you, it’s not gonna be possible to catch them, I’m telling you.”
“No, we won’t catch them. We’re going to sneak in, brainwash them and take over. Just like this,” said Vandalieu.
In response to those words, a countless number of what appeared to be thin insects extended from one of Girabat’s ears.
“Girabat?!” Gozoroff shouted, staring in astonishment.
The Demon King’s sub-brain, which had elongated into a thin, long shape, crawled out of Girabat’s ear using the Demon King’s nerves as legs.
Girabat groaned. “Help… me…” he whispered hoarsely, and then he collapsed like a rotten tree and stopped moving.
“Vandalieu, he’s dead, you know?” said Melissa.
“Because I replaced a part of his cerebellum with the Demon King’s sub-brain,” said Vandalieu. “This way, in the unlikely event that he was captured, nobody would be able to save him. In fact, I’m surprised he was able to speak at all in the end.”
“Then wouldn’t it be better to just replace the entire contents of his skull with the sub-brain?” Melissa asked.
“If I do that, the biological functions of the host will stop, and the Mana that I’m infesting takes on the properties of my own Mana. There’s a chance that it will be detected as someone else.”
Hearing this conversation, the heavily-wounded Gozoroff desperately worked his brain to comprehend what was happening before his eyes.
In other words, Girabat hadn’t betrayed him; the brat here had messed with his head and controlled him. But why had he done something like that? No, more importantly, he was planning to do the same thing to the slave traders who had made a living by selling slaves?
“D-do you think that what you’re doing is going to be forgiven? You’re going to take over them? If you lay a hand on them, you’re the ones who’ll be in trouble,” said Gozoroff.
Slave traders very much hated rising powers that could turn into potential business rivals. They hated them to the point that organizations that normally were in conflict would be willing to cooperate to some extent in order to crush these potential rivals.
It was highly likely that the powerful people supporting them would send assassins. If that happened, simply being killed would be one of the better outcomes. There were some assassins who would be better called example-makers, as they murdered their victims in ways so gruesome that even Gozoroff shuddered at the thought of them.
Gozoroff himself was called the ‘Hyena,’ but in the end, he was just one extremity of the whole structure. From the point of view of the true masterminds, he was nothing more than a lizard’s tail that could be easily replaced. Crushing Gozoroff would not make the masterminds take action, but they would certainly have no mercy on anyone who tried to directly interfere with their business.
“No matter how crazy a brat you are, it’s definitely impossible… No, could it be… You could do it?” Gozoroff murmured, reconsidering his first assumption that it would be impossible.
He thought back on the bizarre phenomena that had just occurred before his very eyes, and then he realized that Vandalieu and his companions could potentially turn the power structure of the underworld upside-down.
Gozoroff’s intuition was correct. However, he had definitely misunderstood what came next.
“Alright, I’ll tell you everything I know,” he said, grinning. “Starting today, you lot… no, you people, are our bosses. I’m going to be useful. So, just help me treat my wounds, and…”
“No, the only thing I need is the information you have; I don’t actually need you,” Vandalieu interrupted, approaching Gozoroff with his palm outstretched. “I’ll cast Death Delay until my questioning is over, but no healing. Now, look at this eye.”
There was a Demon King’s eyeball on the surface of his palm, and it was flickering mysteriously due to the effect of the Demon King’s luminescent organs.
“N-no! Wait, wait!” Gozoroff screamed, trying to escape. “Why is there an eye there?! Stop, stop it! DON’T COME ANY CLOSEEEER!”
However, Gozoroff was fatally wounded. Though Vandalieu’s spell prevented him from actually dying, he wasn’t able to move properly with his body in such a state.
After being questioned using the Mental Encroachment Skill, he spat out all of the information he had and then was disposed of.
“I was sure that you would be merciful to people who have surrendered, but… And anyway, don’t you need pawns in order to take over an organization?” asked Melissa.
“It depends. I do need pawns, but not ruffians on the end of the organization. Having them fight for us is out of the question, and even though I do want a criminal organization as an intelligence network, that doesn’t mean that I want to commit crimes,” Vandalieu explained.
Vandalieu wanted to gather intelligence, and wanted a base to conduct that intelligence gathering. Managing a group of criminals who only earned money through pillaging and slave trading would be nothing but a risk for him.
As for pawns, he would brainwash the members of the organization that he was about to take over, or train them after turning them into Undead. There was no need for Gozoroff and his lackeys.
“King is always like this. Do you find it strange?” asked Braga, who would be considered prey by human society, no different from bandits or monsters.
Thinking back on what she had learned regarding this world so far, Melissa shook her head. “It isn’t strange at all, is it? I exterminated bandits when I was working as an adventurer myself, and even the Guild says that it’s dangerous to try and transport them to be handed over to the authorities, so they tell us to ignore any pleas to surrender and just kill them,” she said.
In Lambda, the concept of human rights did not exist. Thus, the idea that even the human rights of criminals should be preserved, an idea that would be considered fundamental on Earth or in Origin, did not apply in Lambda at all.
This was only to be expected, as criminal slaves existed in Lambda.
“But Asagi and… Amemiya wouldn’t be happy about it,” said Melissa. “They’d probably say something like, ‘These rules should be kept in every world. As people who have come from another world, we must hold a different perspective from the people of this world.’”
It seemed that the ‘Mage Masher’ Asagi and Amemiya Hiroto had said words like these to their companions in Origin. Vandalieu had never spoken to Amemiya before, so he didn’t know anything about him, but he did know that Asagi was likely to say such things.
He had been like that when they met over a year ago, after all.
“They’ve illegally captured and sold countless people. They’re the kind of people that there are rewards for killing, the kind that would be hanged or turned into criminal slaves if they were to be handed to the authorities. As criminal slaves, even if you exclude using them for mining labor or as disposable soldiers, they could become live subjects for spells or drugs at the Mages’ Guild, or as breeding stock for tamed monsters at the Tamers’ Guild,” said Vandalieu.
So then, why would they say that human rights would apply to these people? he wondered.
“Isn’t it because they wouldn’t stand for you, a reincarnated individual like them, doing the same?” said Melissa. “By the way, what are we going to do with the people who got turned into slaves? Even if you wanted to have them live in the Dungeon you made like you did with us, aren’t you going to be busy for a while?”
“I suppose it depends on what they want. I owe the people I shared the carriage with in particular, and I did swear I wouldn’t harm them,” said Vandalieu.
“You owe them?” Braga repeated. “You saved them, so aren’t they the ones who owe you, King?”
“I put them through a scary experience for the sake of my experiment, so I owe them. Especially those siblings.”
By drinking this red-black, poisonous-looking Potion while standing in the sunlight, they could conquer the sun and gain power.
When they heard this, the Pure-breed Vampire Erpel’s first thought was that such a ridiculous thing would be impossible. Sunlight wasn’t fatal to Pure-breed Vampires like him, but it was a weakness that could not be overcome.
No, to be precise, there were Pure-breed Vampires who had overcome it. His brethren Zorcodrio, the one known as ‘Zod’ who possessed the toughest and most robust body among them, had been active during the day even after becoming a Pure-breed Vampire.
Zorcodrio had plowed fields, cultivated hills and worked in construction while being burned by the sun. Thus, at some point, he had acquired the Sunlight Resistance Skill.
Upon learning this, Erpel and the rest of the Pure-breed Vampires had attempted to conquer the sun, but… all of them had failed. Although sunlight was not fatal to them, the pain of having their bodies burned by sunlight had been unpleasant, and they had been unable to acquire the skill even after enduring it for years.
Despite that, Erpel was being told that the Sunlight Resistance Skill could be learned within several hours to several days, that it would take ten days at most. It was unbelievable to him.
However, Zorcodrio, whom Erpel was seeing for the first time in a hundred thousand years, had given him a smile and a thumbs up.
“Have some trust in me. You may find it addictive,” Zorcodrio had said, and Vandalieu had recommended it as well.
Thus, Erpel had decided to try it.
As a result, he was now shouting at the top of his lungs, standing half-naked in broad daylight.
“IT’S OVERFLOWIIIIING!” he exclaimed.
With that, Erpel drank down the rest of the Blood Potion in his hand. Gulping noises came from his white throat. When he was done, he licked the drops that had dribbled from the corner of his mouth with his crimson tongue.
His pupils shone with a piercing light, and his white fangs grew thicker and longer. If an ordinary person were to see him now, they would likely be immobilized by this terrifying and yet bewitchingly beautiful sight.
Erpel laughed loudly. “I have done it! I have become an Abyssal Vampire… An Abyssal Pure-breed Vampire, just like Zorcodrio! I can feel power rising up endlessly within me! What do you think of my powerful, beautiful new form?!”
“Erpel-sama, my tone might be feminine, but that doesn’t mean I like guys. Anyway, you look a little too young, and if I’m honest, you look adorable rather than strong, I suppose?” said Miles Rouge, the Noble-born Vampire who had been Gubamon’s servant but had changed sides to become Vandalieu’s subordinate.
“… I see,” Erpel said dejectedly, hanging his head limply.
However, it was true that his appearance was not impactful no matter what kind of powerful pose he tried to take. He had the appearance of a thin, pretty-looking boy in his mid-teenage years, and even his voice was rather high-pitched.
“I am even treated like a child by Darcia, my niece-in-law… It is fine. It suits me to be a feeble boy,” Erpel said, shrinking as he sat on the ground, crushing a small pebble between his fingertips.
Meanwhile, Miles was watching him calmly. This was not how one would expect him to act towards a Pure-breed Vampire, which was equivalent to a god in the eyes of a Noble-born Vampire.
“… I don’t think there are any feeble boys who can crush pebbles with just their fingers,” muttered Eleanora, who had arrived with a wagon loaded with more servings of Blood Potion.
“Don’t worry about it,” said Miles. “Erpel-sama often gets full of himself, so it’s best to be stricter with him.”
“… Don’t blame me if the Noble-born Vampires in Vida’s Resting Grounds get angry at you,” said Eleanora.
Eleanora and Miles, who were Noble-born Vampires originating from a faction worshipping evil gods. But unlike them, the Noble-born Vampires had supported the Pure-breed Vampires in Vida’s Resting Grounds for a hundred thousand years, and they truly respected and admired them from the bottoms of their hearts. Treating the Pure-breed Vampires impolitely would certainly attract the Noble-born Vampires’ anger.
“I was told that by those very same Noble-born Vampires in Vida’s Resting Grounds. They told me that’s what’s best, since Erpel-sama is childish,” said Miles.
Apparently the Noble-born Vampires in Vida’s Resting Grounds had experienced trouble with Erpel as well… though that might have been a result of the affection between them due to their admiration of him.
“Really? It’s kind of… crazy to think that the Pure-breed Vampires are like ordinary people,” said Eleanora. “Not that I want them to act like Birkyne,” she added.
“I know how you feel. I’m just as surprised as you are, but… I definitely don’t want them to be acting like Gubamon,” said Miles.
Eleanora and Miles looked at the twenty or so half-naked Pure-breed Vampires in front of them, emitting smoke from their skin as they bathed in the sun. Like Erpel, they were trying to become Abyssal Pure-breed Vampires.
Approximately twenty Pure-breed Vampires, all of whom were a minimum of Rank 13. They alone represented a large enough fighting force to destroy even the Amid Empire or the Orbaume Kingdom unless there was some kind of miracle, like the descent of heroic spirits.
They looked like a group of drunkards, however.
“Hic! One more drink!” said one.
“AAAAH! Being burned hurts, and drinking Blood Potion feels so good I could get addicted to it!” another screamed.
“This blood is truly supreme! This is the blessing of the black-blooded emperor!” said a third.
“Long live the black-blooded emperor! Long live our imperial prince, long live our child!” cried a fourth.
“I understand why you’re confused. But from our point of view, it’s more shocking that the showy boy Birkyne, the bulging-eyed old man Gubamon and that tomboy with nothing developed except her body went and became something like that,” said a man called Dragan, a Pure-breed Vampire who had once been a Dwarf.
Dragan had already become an Abyssal Pure-breed Vampire, and he was slowly drinking the remaining Blood Potion in his bottle.
“In the past, even those guys were decent people. It’s not like they didn’t have bad things about them, but… they weren’t the type to kill their own kind in anger,” Dragan lamented.
Birkyne, Gubamon and Ternecia had worshipped evil gods, but to Dragan and the other Pure-breed Vampires here, they had once been comrades who had fought alongside them a hundred thousand years ago. Though they had flaws even while they still worshipped Vida, they could have been considered virtuous, and certainly not evil.
“Showy boy… Birkyne?” Eleanora muttered.
“I did know that Gubamon was a bulging-eyed old man, though,” said Miles.
Neither of them could believe that Dragan was talking about the Birkyne and Gubamon they had known.
“Eleanora, don’t get caught up in conversation. Please go and hand out the Blood Potion,” said Bellmond, arriving with a wagon filled with empty bottles along with a strange Demon King Familiar.
At a glance, it looked like a knight wearing a strange helmet and a plate armor decorated with a large orb on the breastplate. But upon closer inspection, it was very clearly bizarre.
What appeared to be plate armor was actually the Demon King’s smooth exoskeleton, and the orb on the breastplate was the Demon King’s treasure orb. The strange helmet was a transparent capsule; this was the only part that wasn’t a fragment of the Demon King. However, the mass of grey flesh floating inside it was a countless number of the Demon King’s sub-brains joined together.
There were also other fragments such as the eyeballs, blood, blubber and stomach, to ensure that it could operate for extended periods of time.
There was a limit to the range at which the Group Control Skill, a superior version of the Long-distance Control Skill, could take effect. Vandalieu was currently in the Orbaume Kingdom, beyond that maximum range, but the Demon King Familiars in Talosheim were still active thanks to this specially-made Demon King Familiar… the pseudo-main-body-type Demon King Familiar.
“They’re consuming more than I expected. I thought I had enough stockpiled, but… I wonder if the ingredients we have in storage will be enough,” said the clone of Vandalieu that was operating the Demon King Familiar, making a squishy sound as its head moved.
There were Demon King Familiars specialized for creating Blood Potion and other things with the Alchemy Skill, but they could not provide Vandalieu’s blood, which was a crucial ingredient, nor could they supply new death-attribute Mana.
The only fragment capable of creating new Mana was the Demon King’s treasure orb. In addition to assisting the use and control of Mana like Zadiris’s third eye, this organ was capable of generating new Mana.
But with the real Vandalieu so far away, the efficiency of the Mana generation was lowered; it did have flaws. However, by satisfying the conditions of having a brain and being able to create Mana, Vandalieu had succeeded in making this Demon King Familiar a pseudo-main-body.
He had not divided himself; it was merely a pseudo-main-body, so its memories and personality were those of Vandalieu. To use Earth’s communication technology as a comparison, it was as if he had installed a new base station for communication.
“Luciliano and the Demons in the workshop said that the stockpiled ingredients should be enough. Ah, but if it’s not enough, we might be able to see the real Vandalieu-sama,” said Eleanora, seemingly tempted by this thought despite her honest report.
“… I understand how you feel, but please ensure that you do not hand out more Blood Potion than necessary,” Bellmond warned her. “Now then, please go and distribute the Potion.”
“Hmph, I know. I wouldn’t waste Vandalieu-sama’s precious blood,” Eleanora said indignantly before pushing her wagon in the direction of the Pure-breed Vampires wanting a refill.
She did seem reluctant to part with the pseudo-main-body-type Demon King Familiar, however; she turned back with a longing gaze multiple times along her way.
“How does everyone see the Demon King Familiars?” the pseudo-main-body-type Demon King Familiar murmured, curious about Eleanora’s behavior.
The minds of Demon King Familiars were all Vandalieu’s mind. They were not separate personalities, avatars of a countless number of personas, or artificially-created personalities. They were all Vandalieu.
The parasite-type Demon King Familiar that had controlled Girabat’s body in the distant Orbaume Kingdom, the Demon King Familiars that were exterminating monsters on the Dark Continent with Vigaro, Borkus and the others, the pseudo-main-body-type Demon King Familiar here – without exception, all of them were Vandalieu.
“Eleanora and I do understand that all of them are you, but we feel more attraction towards the real you. You would also prefer to be touched by the real Darcia-sama and… Eleanora, do you not, Danna-sama?” said Bellmond.
The pseudo-main-body-type Demon King Familiar clumsily attempted to nod in agreement.
“And the reason you didn’t mention yourself in that question is because that’s just how your personality is, isn’t it?” said Miles, interrupting the conversation.
“Indeed. Ternecia always had a good body since she was a human, but she never had any sex appeal or charm. A pity, too; she might have had a story or two to tell before becoming a Pure-breed Vampire if she had even a single innocent, clumsy thing about her,” said Dragan.
“That is an unnecessary concern,” said Bellmond, distracted. “Dragan-sama, if you have become an Abyssal Pure-breed Vampire, then please get dressed.”
“Come to think of it, Boss, Isla and I are obviously going to be useful for gathering intelligence, but Eleanora should be of use as well. Running a criminal organization is my specialty, though,” said Miles, promoting himself while ignoring Bellmond’s icy gaze.
He had been one of the higher-ranked members among Gubamon’s subordinates, and he had gained attention from those around him more for his knowledge regarding intelligence-gathering, rather than his ability in combat… Though he was unaware of this, ‘Miles Rouge’ was one of the names that Birkyne had in mind to recruit when he was struggling to reorganize his organization.
“We’re still following the threads and pruning the roots and branches that aren’t needed, after all,” Miles said.
They were taking over a criminal organization, but there was no need to make a profit from their crimes afterwards. Vandalieu would provide all of the funds that the organization needed to maintain itself, after all.
And so, there was no way to put the knowledge of Miles and the others to use while Vandalieu was still in the process of following trails and disposing of people like the ‘Hyena’ Gozoroff.
“Also, I’d like you to keep taking care of the Pure-breed Vampires until they settle in,” said the pseudo-Demon King Familiar.
“… So that’s your real intention. Seriously, if the Noble-born Vampires working in Vida’s Resting Grounds didn’t all collapse, all we’d have had to do was explain things,” said Miles.
The Noble-born Vampires were supposed to have been taking care of Dragan and the still-dejected Erpel, but all of them were now in a groggy state.
They had tried to become Abyssal Vampires before the Pure-breed Vampires, and lost consciousness as a result of being unable to withstand the pain of being burned by the sun.
“Well, I also had subordinates who took months to find success, so it can’t be helped,” said Miles.
“Sorry about that. We’re called Pure-breed Vampires and Noble-born Vampires, but we’re far weaker than those outside the Boundary Mountain Range think we are,” said Erpel, seeming to have regained his composure.
“It’s exaggerating to say that we’re far weaker, but it’s true that we aren’t strong. After all, the war against the Demon King was already over by the time we became Pure-breed Vampires, and the only time we fought to the death against enemies as powerful as ourselves was in the battle against those bastards Alda and Bellwood,” said Dragan. “After that, we spent our time keeping the Demon King’s fragments sealed and maintaining the barrier, while keeping the population of monsters far weaker than ourselves under control occasionally… every few hundred or every few thousand years. We couldn’t help our senses being dulled and our techniques getting rusty.”
The inside of the Boundary Mountain Range had been peaceful from a hundred thousand years ago until recently. And even the most difficult Dungeon inside it was A-class, with the Dungeon Boss being Rank 12. There had been no threats that required the Pure-breed Vampires, who were all Rank 13 or above, to fight them with their full strength.
They had engaged in mock battles against each other and against strong individuals like Godwin, but it was difficult to say that they’d had enough time to become stronger.
“It’s as Dragan says. Well, we did invent new spells in Vida-sama’s Divine Realm, and the Noble-born Vampires should have trained to some extent in the Dungeons,” said Erpel. “That’s how it is, so Vandalieu, Miles, Bellmond – Don’t expect us to be stronger than our Ranks would suggest. You’ll be disappointed!”
“I mean, just by being Rank 13, you’re plenty strong,” said the pseudo-main-body-type Demon King Familiar.
“But I really want to shut Alda’s lot up, so I’ll do my best! If it becomes an all-out battle, count on me!” said Erpel.
“… So should I count on you or not?”
“While you’re at it, why don’t you have a look and pick a woman?” suggested Dragan. “Look, the one writhing in pain over there is Giselle. Even before the war against the Demon King, she was popular among the human men because she was one of the mature and beautiful Dwarves, and being a Dwarf, she has muscle as well. The one clinging onto Eleanora-jouchan is Fedilica. She was originally an Elf, and she’s a smart one who can do paperwork when she’s sober. Well, her flaw is that she’s almost never sober.”
“Dragan, why aren’t you recommending Bortuna-oba…neesan?! Don’t you feel sorry for her?!” said Erpel.
“No, I’d feel more sorry for that gorilla if I actually recommended her. She doesn’t fit the description of ‘tomboy’ or ‘strong-minded,’ either,” said Dragan.
“I can hear you, you bastards! Don’t go making fun of the Holy Son! Do you want me to rip your tongues out?!” shouted a Pure-breed Vampire so large she could have been mistaken for an Ogre.
She ran towards Dragan and Erpel with smoke rising from her skin, grasped their heads, then let go and returned to where she had been standing.
A short while later, Dragan and Erpel began writhing in agony, blood spraying from their mouths. It seemed that their tongues really had been torn out. Fedilica burst into laughter at the sight of this, and Eleanora used this opportunity to make a successful escape.
“… Even if they do grow back pretty quickly, she really has no mercy,” Miles remarked.
“More importantly, why is everyone attempting to introduce women to Danna-sama? This should not be necessary for the Pure-breed Vampires,” said Bellmond.
“I am sure that half their intent is to poke fun at me. Or it could be some kind of habit. When they woke up and left Vida’s Resting Grounds, they were apparently asked to attend ceremonies in other nations and give their blessings to weddings and engagements,” said the pseudo-main-body-type Demon King Familiar.
They were already acquainted with Darcia, and Vandalieu figured that if the Pure-breed Vampires were serious, they would have approached her about it. Since they hadn’t, he assumed that they weren’t serious.
Darcia was currently visiting the Dark Continent to perform… to raise morale, along with Legion, Kanako, Zadiris and Zandia.
“Ah,” the pseudo-main-body-type Demon King Familiar suddenly murmured.
“What is the matter?” Bellmond asked.
“No, it’s just that Luciliano dropped some Blood Potion in the underground workshop… and the small animals born in experiments flooded in to lick the spilled contents up, and it seems that they’ve all become monsters,” the pseudo-main-body-type Demon King Familiar said, explaining what another Demon King Familiar was currently witnessing.
Miles and Bellmond’s faces stiffened.
“By ‘small animals born in experiments,’ you mean the offspring born between living subjects and Undead subjects transplanted with Life Gold and Spirit Silver, don’t you? If I recall, there were over four hundred of them,” said Bellmond.
“… That’s troublesome, isn’t it. Is that man still alive?” asked Miles.
“Though they’ve transformed into monsters, they’re not that powerful, and it seems that they aren’t interested in Luciliano, so it’s alright,” the pseudo-main-body-type Demon King Familiar said. “But… they are very attached to the Demon King Familiar.”
“Attached?” Miles and Bellmond repeated simultaneously.
The pseudo-main-body-type Demon King Familiar confirmed that the Demon King Familiar inside the underground workshop was completely surrounded by Big Rats and Horned Rabbits.
“Yes, attached,” it said.
《You have acquired the ‘Black Blood Emperor’ and ‘Elder Dragon Emperor’ Titles!》
“… I understand that people here were shouting ‘Black Blood Emperor,’ but why ‘Elder Dragon Emperor? I wonder if something happened on the Dark Continent.”