The Cemetery Bees flew in and grabbed Vandalieu, who had joined a circle of Knochen’s Skeletons in a bonodori dance to celebrate Sam and Knochen’s increase in Rank.
“I kind of want to eat breakfast soon,” Vandalieu told them.
It seemed that there was a pressing matter; the Cemetery Bees did not stop for Vandalieu’s hunger.
Vandalieu could understand the intentions of the insects that he had tamed to some extent, but he couldn’t understand them completely. He possibly could if he used his spirit-form to fuse with them, but –
“The queen is calling.”
“Calling, the queen is.”
Vandalieu only knew that the queen bee was calling him.
These were bee monsters; the thoughts of each individual worker bee were too simple to have a conversation.
Incidentally, Sam and Knochen had simply waved their hands goodbye as Vandalieu left.
Since he was hungry, Vandalieu started eating vegetables that were growing from his arm with the Plant Binding Technique skill. And then they arrived at the Cemetery Bee nest that seemed to have grown even larger.
A Cemetery Bee Soldier, three times larger than a worker bee, flew towards Vandalieu.
Cemetery Bees lived in a similar way to normal bees and ants, but Experience Points were not shared among all of the bees in the group. Even if they hunted enemies, only the individual bee that had done the hunting would receive Experience Points.
The Cemetery Bees going from being worker bees to soldier bees from their Rank increasing would take the opportunity to separate themselves from Vandalieu and begin guarding the nest. This was an instinctual desire, so there was nothing to be done about it.
Vandalieu understood that the protection of the nest and queen was the most important thing for bees, so he only equipped worker bees in his body with the Insect Binding Technique skill.
The problem was –
“I’ve told you, not raw,” Vandalieu protested.
The soldier bees were holding caterpillar dangos in their forelegs.
Vandalieu wasn’t reluctant to eat bugs, but it seemed that he disliked eating them raw.
Feeling hesitant to use fire inside the nest, in the end, Vandalieu decided to simply accept the caterpillar dangos without eating them.
“What if I had my hair in dreadlocks?” Vandalieu said, voicing a thought that had suddenly occurred to him.
Darcia blinked. “Vandalieu, we don’t know what ‘dreadlocks’ are, so I don’t know what kind of expression I should be wearing.”
“It’s a hairstyle like this.”
Vandalieu used Thread-reeling to change the shape of his own hair into dreadlocks to show his mother Darcia, who had been tortured and burned to death at the stake and now currently resided in a small bone fragment as a spirit. He had a lot of hair to work with, suitable for having in dreadlocks.
Having his hair bundled together felt pleasant against the back of his neck and his pointed ears, too. Vandalieu thought that perhaps he should have this hairstyle until autumn came.
“Wow, it really looks like there are white caterpillars attached to your head,” Darcia remarked. “Is ‘dreadlock’ a word for ‘caterpillar’ on Earth?”
“… I don’t think so,” said Vandalieu.
Foreseeing a misunderstanding that couldn’t be considered a joke if it spread, he quickly returned his hair to normal.
Meanwhile, the queen bee, who was even larger than the soldier bees, approached, accompanied by numerous other bees.
She didn’t appear to be in such a desperate state that she needed to call Vandalieu here so desperately.
With her wings beating and her jaw and exoskeleton making noises, the queen bee turned as if dancing.
“I see. And then?” Vandalieu nodded and prompted her to continue.
Seeing this exchange repeat itself several times, Darcia shuddered as she whispered to herself. “I-I don’t understand. Umm, what is a mother supposed to do at a time like this?!”
She didn’t know what her son and his friend were talking about. What was she to do?
This wasn’t a rare concern for a parent raising a child, but what was the correct answer when that friend was an enormous insect?
She requested an answer, a translation, from her son.
“She is saying that she wants to be reborn in an egg that she is about to lay in order to evolve further,” Vandalieu explained.
“I see,” said Darcia. “But is increasing her Rank not enough? She still has time to live, doesn’t she?”
Every monster in Lambda could gain Experience Points, reach level 100 and then increase in Rank once they met certain conditions.
Thus, an increase in Rank was certainly possible for the Cemetery Bee Queen as well. What reason was there for the queen bee to abandon her current life and ask Vandalieu for a pseudo-reincarnation?
“I’ve asked that as well; she’s apparently received ‘guidance,’” said Vandalieu.
“You mean from the Guider Job?” Darcia asked, surprised.
Vandalieu nodded. “I don’t remember giving her anything like that, though.”
Sam and Knochen had received its effects immediately, so it wasn’t strange to think that the Cemetery Bees were under its effects as well.
However, it was strange that Vandalieu, the one who had supposedly guided them, had no memory of doing so.
In legends and heroic tales, the champions with the Guider Jobs had given people instructions, taught them the correct path to follow, strengthened their friendships and bonds with their followers and overcame the point of life and death together. The effects of the ‘Guidance’ skills on the followers were said to be a result of having experienced such events.
In Vandalieu’s case, he had simply had a feast with everyone on the first day that he acquired the Job.
“If everyone’s Ranks increase because of that, it would be fine to have a feast every day for a while,” said Vandalieu.
“Eh, a dream? Come to think of it, I did have one, which is rare,” said Vandalieu.
“Oh my, you always say that you don’t have dreams. What kind of dream did you have?” Darcia asked.
“It was a dream where I was walking in a dark place on my own, and just as I was feeling lonely and wondering if anyone would come, everyone gathered around me and we played together,” Vandalieu replied.
He had been taken for a ride through a starless night sky, guided to a sturdy fortress, among other things.
Now that he remembered it, it was possible that those were Sam and Knochen.
“Fufu, it’s good that you had a nice dream, isn’t it?” said Darcia, smiling at her son.
This had resulted in the birth of a Nightmare Carriage and a Bone Fort. From the perspective of the Church of Alda, which was hostile to Undead, and the Adventurers’ Guild that would send out requests to exterminate them, it was a nightmare rather than something to smile about.
“In any case, if I guided them, I can’t stop those who answered me,” said Vandalieu. “I’ll do as they ask of me.”
The queen bee gave a happy click of her jaw as she gave birth to a single egg into Vandalieu’s outstretched hands.
“Well then, let us meet again,” Vandalieu said.
He extracted the queen bee’s soul. He had thought that it would be difficult to extract a soul from a living body, but because the queen bee herself had agreed to it, or perhaps this was another effect of Guidance: Demon Path, he was able to extract it smoothly.
The semi-transparent, white egg shaped like a grain of rice that was already the size of a human baby, now contained the soul of the queen bee. The body that she had been living in up until now fell to the ground.
“By the way, Vandalieu, who’s going to take care of that egg?” Darcia asked.
“The Cemetery Bees… huh?” Vandalieu looked around to see that the other Cemetery Bees had returned to their daily work.
After using Preservation to prevent the queen bee’s body from decomposing, Vandalieu ended up holding and raising the egg.
“To think that I would be raising a second child so quickly.”
Incidentally, Pauvina was the first.
But Pauvina, Jadal, Varbie and Rapiéçage seemed unhappy with this.
“I was never treated like that,” Pauvina protested.
“I wanted to be treated like that.”
Rapiéçage groaned in agreement.
Pauvina, who would turn five years old this year, was already as tall as an adult human. Even if her size was disregarded, she looked like an eight-year-old child. Girls developed quickly… or rather, this was likely the influence of her blood originating from Noble Orcs, a race that grew to heights of three meters and developed much faster than humans.
Bilde’s daughter Varbie and Basdia’s daughter Jadal were as adorable as four and five-year-old children should be, while Rapiéçage… hadn’t changed. That was to be expected, as she was a Patchwork Zombie.
The ‘treatment’ that they were referring to was… Vandalieu extending his tongue and licking the queen bee’s egg.
“… I’m only doing this to prevent mold from growing on the egg,” he said. He was simply mimicking how insects took care of their eggs, so he was bewildered by the protests of Pauvina and the other girls.
“Well then, lick me as well so that mold doesn’t grow on me!”
“I mean, you take baths, don’t you? Mold won’t grow even if I don’t lick you.”
“Eh, lick me!”
“It’s interesting how you lick it.”
It seemed that the sight of Vandalieu’s tongue extending to around four meters in length with the Body Extension skill was interesting to the girls. Perhaps it was the same as a cat taking a liking to cat toys.
It was a cute, childish behavior, but also problematic.
“Augh?” Rapiéçage groaned.
“No, you really don’t need it,” said Vandalieu, looking up at her and thinking about the misunderstandings that could happen if he did lick her.
Rapiéçage had the wings of a pterosaur, a tail extending from her hips with a Cemetery Bee’s stinger on the end, the arms and legs of Ogres past the elbows and knees, a sensual woman’s body and the face of a beautiful young woman.
It was only natural for Vandalieu to feel hesitant to lick her.
In Talosheim, the fact that she was Undead or that there were stitches all over her body weren’t going to be accepted as excuses.
“I am sorry to interrupt your conversation, but may I have a word, Danna-sama?”
Bellmond, who had been instructed to come to Vandalieu’s personal workshop beneath the castle, seemed disturbed as she called out to her master who was, for some reason, surrounded by children while taking care of an insect’s egg.
It seemed that these circumstances were within acceptable limits for Bellmond. No, there was something else nearby that she was more curious about.
“Ah, Bellmond, thank you for your hard work,” said Vandalieu. “I was thinking of having you look over your surgery plan.”
“It’s Bellmond!” Pauvina exclaimed.
“Hi!” said Jadal.
“Hello, Ojou-samas,” said Bellmond, greeting the children. “So, Danna-sama, that surgery plan… could you be referring to that thing?”
‘That thing’ that Bellmond glanced at pointedly was an object that had been placed next to her former master Ternecia, who was now a Live-Dead inside a capsule, submerged in a mysterious fluid.
It resembled a female mannequin made of white stone. It had been elaborately made; it had no face, but it looked as if its arms and legs could move at any moment.
It was the same height as Bellmond with arms and lengths the same length as hers, while the bulge in its chest and around its hips were about the same as the Live-Dead Ternecia.
“Yes,” Vandalieu said.
Seeing that he showed no signs of guilt whatsoever, Bellmond clutched her chest.
“… Danna-sama, what are you planning to do with me after giving me a body with such excessively attractive features?” she asked.
“Well, it will be difficult to make small changes in the shape of your chest, so I was thinking of simply transplanting the chest straight onto yours,” Vandalieu explained.
“I am your servant, Danna-sama,” said Bellmond. “If you wish to tamper with my body and do as you please with it for your own amusement then I am prepared to accept my fate, but –”
“That’s a horrible thing to say about me,” said Vandalieu. “I’m quite confident in how I treat people.”
“I understand. Do as you will, Danna-sama.”
Bellmond agreed to it in the end, but Vandalieu thought that she would make all kinds of complaints once it came to attaching her tail.
Of course, she didn’t seem to be showing any real signs of resistance. In fact, she seemed happy.
“Van, are there only people like Eleanora among Vampires?” Basdia asked with quite serious-looking eyes.
“… No comment,” said Vandalieu, declining to answer. He didn’t think that there were, but it was possible that…
Thinking like this, Vandalieu couldn’t completely deny the possibility.
“Vandalieu, you’re hurting a girl’s body before she becomes a bride, so you have to take responsibility,” said Darcia.
“Umm, Darcia-sama, with that logic, wouldn’t that make His Majesty unable to perform surgery on any women?” Princess Levia pointed out.
“No, to go as far as to take responsibility…” Bellmond remonstrated them now that they had taken things too far. In fact, she was looking forward to receiving surgery from Vandalieu.
She did have her misgivings, but her happiness at receiving everything from Vandalieu overcame them.
Just like in that dream.
“But I would be happy if you could avoid making me too indecent,” she added.
Bellmond’s former master, Ternecia, was beautiful even to her eyes. However, that beauty was not an elegant one.
Though her words and the way she normally dressed were likely the main causes, she looked like a prostitute… though this impression never lasted long, as she never gave a second glance at others, let alone flirted with them.
“I’ll do my best, but I think it will be fine,” said Vandalieu.
Vandalieu had only been face-to-face with Ternecia for a few minutes; he hadn’t particularly felt the prostitute-like impression, but he thought that even if he replaced every part of Bellmond’s body below the neck with Ternecia’s, she wouldn’t look indecent.
“Bellmond, are you going to become muchi-muchi*?” asked Pauvina.
“What about the muscles that King likes?” asked Varbie.
“I do think that she will become muchi-muchi, but I have no plans on transplanting the muscles,” said Vandalieu. “She has plenty already, anyway.”
“My body becoming heavy is… as long as all of my fingers, toes and tongue can move freely, there will be no problem,” said Bellmond.
“Com… panion?” Rapiéçage groaned.
“Well, I do believe that I will become your patchwork companion, but…” Bellmond gave a bitter smile to the children who were innocently comparing her to the post-surgery mannequin and Rapiéçage who was wondering if she would gain a companion.
Suddenly, Bellmond became aware of a person who had been silent the whole time, watching something squirm with bloodshot eyes.
“By the way, what is he doing?” she asked.
“Luciliano? He is researching Lump-of-flesh-chan,” said Vandalieu.
The convulsing lumps of flesh with no bones or organs, produced as a result of trying to resurrect Darcia using the incomplete, but functioning, resurrection device.
When lumps of flesh produced by the device were put together, they had fused to form a larger lump of flesh, but no matter how much time passed or what Vandalieu did, it was still a lump of flesh.
Vandalieu had tried adding the Demon King’s blood, but nothing in particular had changed.
However, this morning, its movements had become more prominent; it seemed that changes had begun.
“He was saying that this might be the birth of a new life,” Vandalieu said.
“A new life,” Bellmond repeated. “I see.”
The two of them were looking at lump of flesh that was convulsing violently in an apparatus resembling an enormous pot in front of Luciliano.
It had formed a thick, flesh-colored soup that was bubbling and frothing as if it were boiling, and there were meat-like projections resembling people’s hands and snake heads that emerged and extended a short distance from its surface before collapsing back into the lump of meat, over and over.
“It looks to me like tormented souls being boiled in the cauldron of hell,” said Bellmond.
“What a coincidence,” said Vandalieu. “I think so too.”
“Something that looks like a human’s head comes out from time to time, but… I have the feeling that it resembles me a little,” said Darcia. “What will I do if I grow lots of heads?”
It seemed that there were no disagreements that this was not the ‘birth of a new life,’ but the sight of dead souls trying to crawl out of hell.
Vandalieu couldn’t see its Status yet, and the Appraisal spell only gave him, “A mysterious, convulsing lump of flesh,” so it was still unclear as to whether it was a living creature or not.
“How is it even staying alive, Your Majesty?” Princess Levia asked. “It doesn’t even have a single organ, let alone bones.”
“We gave it some food from time to time,” said Pauvina.
“It’s eats really happily when we give it meat!” Jadal added.
It seemed that the two of them had been feeding it.
“It really eats,” said Pauvina.
Despite not having a mouth or stomach, being made of nothing but meat until Vandalieu gave it blood, Lump-of-meat-chan apparently ate food. It was likely through the same mechanism by which unicellular organisms absorbed food.
It indiscriminately absorbed everything it came into contact with, so it was extremely dangerous. It was probably best that Vandalieu created an enclosure around it so that the children wouldn’t fall in.
“But it doesn’t eat vegetables,” said Jadal.
“Even if we feed it a live frog, it just spits it back out,” said Pauvina. “Even if we scold it and tell it that it will never become big if it’s too picky, it won’t listen.”
“I see, so it seems that it doesn’t eat living things,” said Vandalieu.
It didn’t have ears or a head to listen to scolding, but it was possible that it was relatively safe. It was possible that it simply disliked frogs, so Vandalieu decided that he would try seeing whether it would eat live mice, fish or Undead.
“It looks like I’m being fed by the children,” said Darcia. “And I’m being given frogs…”
It seemed that she was a little shocked by the fact that Lump-of-flesh-chan, who was a failed attempt to recreate her, was being fed.
“Well, Mom, frogs are delicious,” Vandalieu told her.
But despite the expectations of Luciliano, who was engrossed in his research, Lump-of-meat-chan still wouldn’t become a living creature.
“Whether it is a monster or a person, it seems that there is something missing for it to become a living creature,” Luciliano concluded as he reverted his research on Lump-of-meat-chan to plain observation.
Around the end of September, when temperatures were starting to drop, the road between Talosheim and the large marshlands to the south was completed. Since this was necessary for transporting dairy products, fish, lotus roots and other things in the future, waves of attacks had been conducted to clear the forest of enormous ferns that was in the way and Vandalieu had flattened the ground and used Golem Transmutation to lay stone tiles to create a road.
In times of emergency, the stone tiles would get up and fight the threats, and even if they were damaged in such situations, they would reabsorb the broken pieces and repair themselves; it was a truly maintenance-free highway.
There was no need to worry about bandits, but it was a highway crossing a Devil’s Nest where monsters more dangerous than bandits would appear, so these functions were necessary.
Of course, the monster numbers in the southern forest had already been reduced drastically, so it was possible for the highway to become a normal highway in a little over a decade from now.
Now that Vandalieu had dealt with the aftermath of the Cream Expedition and performed the necessary work for future development, Vandalieu was now busy with something else. That thing was…
“Now then, we’ll begin the universal conscription campaign,” Vandalieu announced.
The training of Talosheim’s non-combatants.
“As I explained previously, this campaign’s purpose is to make everyone strong enough to at least kill a normal soldier,” said Vandalieu.
“That’s different from the universal conscription that I know of,” whispered Lina, the former irregular employee of the Adventurers’ guild, current receptionist at the trading post and Fester’s lover.
Taking no notice of her, Vandalieu continued. “As you know, Talosheim is surrounded by Devil’s Nests, and we could be attacked by the Mirg shield-nation and the Amid Empire. I want everyone to do a little training to prepare for such times.”
“We’ve heard that, but… Even if we level up, we won’t become much stronger,” said Ivan, who was working hard as a stonemason once more after his family had gained an additional member.
As he said, ordinary people with creation-oriented Jobs would not see large gains in Attribute Values even after leveling up. Creation-oriented Jobs mostly provided bonuses to creation-oriented skills.
And those with creation-oriented Jobs would gain less Experience Points from exterminating monsters than those with combat-oriented Jobs such as Warrior or Mage. Just as it would be strange for a warrior to level up by performing work as a stonemason, stonemasons wouldn’t level up much from defeating monsters.
“Yes, I know that,” said Vandalieu. “That’s why I’m going to have everyone acquire skills.”
He was focused on skills rather than Attribute Values. Lambda had a convenient skill system, unlike Earth.
And once skills were acquired, they generally weren’t lost. If they weren’t used for a long time, senses could dull and the body could grow weaker, but if this kind of training was held regularly, they could stay in a reasonably useable state.
“I see. So, you’re telling us to get level 1 skills to begin with,” said Kyne, who had once flown through the sky on Vandalieu’s back. As a hunter, he possessed the Archery skill at level 3, so he would be one of the instructors rather than one of the people being instructed.
Vandalieu’s policy of having the civilians use crude spears, bows and arrows to at least have level 1 skills was one used by many other policymakers.
Civilians with level 1 combat-oriented skills would be able to fend off bandits on their own to some extent. And if they joined forces, they could defeat a single Rank 3 monster that might enter their village.
And they would be capable of making a living by venturing to hills and fields that weren’t Devil’s Nests to harvest the blessings of nature, hunt beasts for food and tan their hides for leather.
The policymakers would gain many benefits from this, such as being able to reduce the number of permanently-employed soldiers.
Of course, it would be problematic if there was a rebellion or the villagers turned to banditry due to poverty, but the policymakers would simply not enforce this training if they were not confident that they could prevent these things from happening.
Vandalieu’s objective was simply to increase the citizens’ ability to defend themselves, however.
“No, level 1 skills are not dependable, so at least level 2,” he said. “Of course, it would be helpful if you became able to use martial skills.”
“Aren’t you expecting a lot from us?!”
Incidentally, Fester’s Swordsmanship skill had been at level 2 when Vandalieu first met him.
Even though he had been an apprentice, he was a young man who had decided to make a living in that line of work, studied at an adventurer’s school for a year and spent his days gaining experience by facing monsters such as Goblins day after day. That level 2 combat-oriented skill had been a result of all of that.
“But if you don’t have skills at level 2 and can’t use martial skills, you won’t even be able to buy any time against the monsters living in the Devil’s Nests around here,” said Vandalieu.
What he said was reasonable. Kyne couldn’t imagine that any monsters could get through the excessive outer walls of Talosheim to get inside, but he couldn’t deny the possibility that something unexpected could happen.
“But won’t we have to go through hellish Spartan training to get level 2 skills?” asked Lina. She and the others had stiff expressions, thinking that it was impossible to gain level 2 skills in the space of just a few days.
“It’s alright,” said Vandalieu. “I’ve prepared capable instructors.”
He had his instructors stand up to show themselves.
The instructors that appeared with clattering sounds were suits of armor that Lina and Ivan both recognized.
Indeed, just suits of armor.
“They are Living Armors that I made out of the former Red Wolf Knights’ Order,” Vandalieu explained. “I will have everyone wear these Living Armors and learn combat skills through experience.”
The people would train by wearing these Undead suits of armor with spirits living inside them.
Lina and the others froze as Vandalieu declared this unprecedented training method.
“Now then, let us hurry and begin our training! I must quickly acquire a level 2 skill and return to my work of making something out of Van-sama’s horns,” said Tarea as she glanced back at everyone else before beginning to choose the instructor that she would wear.
【Guidance: Demon Path】
There is a path that one does not walk because they wish to, a path that is not a path. This is the skill of one who walks such a path for guiding those who walk on it with him.
Those who receive the blessings of this skill undergo drastic changes, increases in Rank and development in exchange for growing further and further away from the path of righteousness.
They are not evil; they are simply ‘different’ beings rather than being good or evil.
Ordinary people would think of the possessor of this skill and those who follow its guidance to be fearsome beings, be repulsed by them and the sight of them would appear to be total chaos.
It is a skill that transforms from Strengthen Followers after acquiring the Demon Guider Job, so the effects of the Strengthen Followers skill is included in full.
【Demon Path Enticement】
A skill that captivates those who already walk the demon path and those who have set foot upon it. A skill that beckons those who walk the path of righteousness to the demon path.
It is, so to speak, a devilish skill, and those charmed by it indulge themselves in the skill’s possessor as if they have fallen into addiction.
It is a skill that transforms from Death-Attribute Charm after acquiring the Demon Guider Job; the skill’s area of effect is increased and once under its effects, it is difficult to resist.
A unique skill that represents that the skill owner is not one who peers into an abyss, but the abyss to be peered into.
The one who possesses this skill has no need to worry about becoming a monstrosity when fighting other monstrosities. That is something that the one fighting the skill’s possessor should fear.