There were several men on a mountain in the region that was formerly the Sauron Duchy, now occupied by the Amid Empire.
Tentacles were twisting and crawling around in front of them, hitting the water surface and sending muddy water into the air.
“This thing, it’s still alive?!”
The panicked archers hastily nocked arrows with their tips covered in a green fluid in their short bows and pulled back their bowstrings.
“Don’t panic, it’s already dead!” shouted a young man with characteristic bangs and a well-featured face, but several arrows fired by the archers buried themselves in the ominously-quivering creature with thudding noises.
But the tentacles wouldn’t stop writhing. The young man clicked his tongue and reprimanded the archers.
“I explained this beforehand; the lower bodies of these things don’t stop moving for a while even after they’ve died. Even if you cut their heads off or split their upper bodies in half, they keep squirming around for a bit. Octopuses…”
The young man was about to explain that octopuses were the same, but stopped himself. He had grown up in a coastal town, but he had just remembered that many of the archers were from inland regions, so even if they knew that creatures called octopuses existed, they would have only seen them as dried food products or pickled in vinegar.
“They’re like lizard’s tails,” the young man said. “They flail around for a while, don’t they?”
This was actually for a completely different reason, but what the young man needed to give the archers right now was not proper education, but composure.
“Indeed… As expected of Vice-captain Rick, you’re so knowledgeable.”
This goal was accomplished; the archers regained their composure and lowered their bows. The arrows that they used and the poison coating the arrowheads were special, so they couldn’t be fired wastefully.
“Don’t relax too much; we’ll have to put it on display once it stops moving,” said Rick.
“What will we do about the Magic Stone and materials?” asked one of his subordinates.
“Don’t touch them, of course,” said Rick. “We’re short on money, but it would be bad if by some small chance someone found out that we were the ones who have been killing these things.”
“That’s true, too.”
Seeing his subordinate return his disassembling knife to its sheath, Rick waded into the marsh towards the creature that had lost its balance and toppled over… the Scylla woman.
Her eyes were still wide open in disbelief as Rick grabbed her loosely-hanging, mud-covered hand.
“Sorry, but I’ll take this back,” Rick murmured. “I’ll be using it for the next one as well, you see.”
And then he took the ring, which he had given to her just moments before, from her thin finger.
“Dispose of her.”
The archers obeyed Rick’s order and switched from their short bows to hand axes, and set about turning the Scylla into a repulsive mess.
They severed all of her tentacles and hacked into the upper body below her neck, with their blows particularly focused around her breasts.
“Vice-captain Rick, this occurs to me every time, but why do we cut their chests up so much? And wouldn’t it be faster to use Axe Technique to cut them from the waist below in one go rather than cutting their tentacles off one by one?” another subordinate asked.
“This is more humiliating for them,” Rick replied. “I don’t understand it, but the tentacles on the lower bodies of Scylla are apparently equivalent to a woman’s hair, a part of their bodies that they are supposed to be proud of. And the chest symbolizes maternity for women who worship Vida-sama; it’s the place that contains the heart, which is Vida’s holy symbol. The same applies for these things. If we want to desecrate these bodies, this is the best way, even if it is troublesome.”
And the reason that the men didn’t damage the faces was to ensure that the other Scylla who discovered the corpses would be able to identify them easily.
“I see…” the subordinate murmured.
In other words, it wasn’t wasted effort. They were aiming for the body parts of cultural and symbolic importance.
Even if they aren’t people, how can he destroy bodies in such a rational way? the man wondered, his face turning pale.
“Don’t make that face,” said Rick, giving the subordinate a small, bitter smile. “Do I look like I’m doing this because I enjoy it?”
“Eh? But don’t you hate Scylla, Vice-captain?”
“It’s true that I hold Scylla in contempt. But even so, I respect myself. I don’t have any bizarre interests like poisoning women and toying with their corpses.” Rick’s bitter smile grew wider, and then his face straightened into a serious expression as he continued. “This plan is indeed something that we can never tell others about in pride, something disgraceful. It can’t be called justice; it’s something that only scum would carry out. But I want you to remember. We are in a vastly weaker position. We can’t achieve victory by being picky with our methods, and if we can’t achieve victory, we can’t save this nation. Our companions, and even the Scylla that we’ve killed, will have died for nothing. We mustn’t disappoint them. I want you to believe in me and my older brother, and follow my lead.”
“Yes, Vice-captain Rick Paris! We will follow you wherever you may go!” the men declared in unison, overcome with emotion from Rick’s speech.
Perhaps they saw their commander who showed no hesitation to dirty his own hands, as well as themselves, as solitary heroes. Perhaps they were intoxicated on the feeling of superiority from the knowledge that they were fighting for a noble cause.
And then Rick and his men tied the Scylla’s corpse to the trunk of a tree growing on the marsh’s edge and left after applying the finishing touches.
A gruesome corpse covered in blood and mud was abandoned there, along with the tentacles and pieces of flesh floating in the mud of the marsh.
A beautiful, red-haired woman was tied to the operating table by sturdy chains that had been wrapped around her limbs over and over again.
She was wearing only a single strange, thin cloth, leaving the pure-white skin of the area where her thighs joined into her back exposed. There were curved, stiff scars visible there.
As a beautiful, yet mysterious song echoed out, hands so white that they looked as if they had been covered in candle wax closed in on her silently.
“Scalpel… or rather, claws.”
“Part number three.”
The hands were skillfully carrying something out.
They showed no hesitation as they used claws instead of scalpels to make incisions on the woman’s skin. Their movements were accurate and there was a surprisingly small amount of bleeding.
However, the surgery was being conducted without any anesthetics, so each time an incision was made, the woman’s spine and shoulders trembled, and heavy breathing that sounded like small moans escaped her lips.
“Last of all, apply the Potion and the surgery is complete. Thank you for your hard work.”
“Mmm, this was excellent work, Master.”
“Eh?! It’s already over?!” Eleanora, who had been lying on her stomach, raised her head.
“It’s finished,” Vandalieu replied. He sheathed his claws and removed the chains that were binding Eleanora before starting the post-cosmetic-surgery tidy-up with his surgery assistant, Yamata. “I explained beforehand that your surgery wouldn’t take very long, didn’t I, Eleanora?”
The cosmetic surgery carried out by transplanting the body parts of the Live-Dead Ternecia would have been considered a large-scale surgery on Earth, despite Eleanora having scars in only a few places.
It involved not only transplanting the skin, but the flesh and blood vessels beneath it.
However, with Vandalieu as the surgeon and Eleanora as the patient, it was a simple procedure.
Vandalieu used Spirit Form Transformation on a part of his body, fused them with Eleanora’s body, suppressed her blood vessels and used the skillful judgment of his claws and the drugs secreted from them to stimulate their regrowth.
Eleanora was also a Noble-born Vampire who could grow back any body parts that she was missing. Due to her Status Effect Resistance skill, anesthesia was almost completely ineffective on her, but she was resistant to pain to begin with, so she could endure this much without any problems.
… Despite that, Eleanora herself had wanted her limbs to be bound, saying that it would be a big problem if by some small chance her body started to move.
“But… a little longer…” Eleanora mumbled.
“With medical science in its current state, it can’t be helped,” said Vandalieu.
Medical science was powerless when faced with a healthy body.
Seeking an ally, Eleanora glanced toward Yamata, but three of its heads were busy singing while the other six looked back at her with dull, lifeless eyes.
Yamata was one of Ternecia’s finest works; it was a Zombie with the body of a high-rank Dragon-race Hydra specimen as the base and the upper bodies of beautiful women of nine different races attached to the Hydra’s necks. Vandalieu had taken a liking to it as well, saying that it was incredibly convenient, so it had performed all kinds of work with the Surgery skill, but its intelligence was still on the level of an ordinary Zombie.
It did little other than obey orders, and its thinking capabilities were about the same as a small child’s.
But the one who became Eleanora’s ally instead was Luciliano.
“I do not mind being shown more,” he said.
He was standing in this place with a cool expression, but Eleanora hadn’t acknowledged him as a member of the opposite sex. His words of, “Ah, I have no interest in anything but Undead,” that he had spoken before the surgery had been too convincing.
“The process of the combination of Ternecia’s parts with your body is extremely fascinating,” Luciliano continued. “At first, they rejected each other, but the moment that the Blood Potion that Master created with his own blood was applied, they combined before my very eyes and there was not even any need to perform stitching. This is a true transformation.”
As Luciliano said, Eleanora’s body had no visible scars or stitches from the surgery. As body parts had indeed been transplanted, there was nothing to be done about the skin being of a slightly different color in places, but even these looked like they were going to assimilate properly soon.
“So that is how it is, Master. Will you not perform a little more transplanting surgery?” Luciliano requested.
“Like I said, she’s already healthy,” said Vandalieu. “Eleanora, please drink another bottle of Blood Potion afterwards, and then go and rest.”
“It cannot be helped… ah…!” As Eleanora gave up and drank the Blood Potion with small noises coming from her white throat, her eyes began to sparkle in a bewitching way.
Perhaps because blood was included in its ingredient list, Blood Potions appeared to have different effects on Vampires.
“Is this alright, Master?” asked Luciliano.
“Hmm, it doesn’t seem to be harmful, so it’s probably fine,” said Vandalieu.
“Danna-sama, I am a little anxious.” Bellmond, who had been observing the surgery from the edge of the room, had broken out in a cold sweat at the sight of the mysterious-looking Eleanora.
I will make such a face? How unthinkable. Being as unsightly as I am, if I were to make such an expression, Danna-sama will shun me and… I do not have the confidence that I will be able to suppress my desire to end my own life in self-hatred before that happens.
Bellmond was frightened, but preparations for the surgery were already complete, and the mood didn’t really allow for her to say that she wanted to back out now.
“C-can you not at least make me completely unconscious before performing the surgery…?” she asked.
“If you’re unconscious, the function of your Rapid Regeneration skill decreases, and it will be problematic to have you drink the Potion afterwards, so it would be very helpful if you could stay awake,” said Vandalieu. “It will be fine. Yamata will be singing, and although the pain will continue throughout the whole thing rather than just at the beginning, we will hold you down.”
But it wouldn’t be over so quickly that it would be finished before Bellmond could count the stains on the ceiling. Unlike Eleanora, Bellmond required many different parts to be transplanted.
“Then how about forcing me into an Out-of-body Experience with your magic, Danna-sama?” Bellmond suggested.
“It’s not like I can’t do it, but that would use up an extra process for my Parallel Thought Processing,” said Vandalieu. “In the unlikely event that something happens, I want to have room to work with.”
Since his patient was Bellmond, a Noble-born Vampire with strong Vitality, it was unlikely that a serious medical error would occur, but even so, it was probably best to prepare for the worst.
“Kuh, as to be expected of you, Danna-sama. You have no weaknesses,” Bellmond said, praising Vandalieu with a groan.
“That’s not true,” said Luciliano, slurping his fern tea that he had made himself. “His own personal feelings and interests are not involved.”
“Fufufu, rest assured. Everything will turn into pleasure soon,” said Eleanora.
“Eleanora, please hurry and leave the room, put on your clothes and rest,” said Vandalieu. “You’re making Bellmond feel anxious,” said Vandalieu.
Vandalieu’s spirit form clones carried Eleanora out along with her whole operating table, as if they were going on a little trip.
“Let’s go and rest, shall we~?”
“Ah, there are so many Vandalieu-samas~ ♪”
Vandalieu had known things would come to this and readied an extra operating table, so everything was still fully prepared.
“Still, this Blood Potion, does it really have those kinds of effects?” Vandalieu wondered.
When he drank it himself, other than its healing effects as a Potion, it just seemed sweet and easy to drink.
“Well, that is how it is,” said Luciliano. “It is made of your own blood, after all.”
It seemed that even Vampires didn’t have an appetite for their own blood.
Suddenly, they heard the slurping sound of saliva.
Yamata, who always wore an empty expression, showed the light of a primitive hunger in its eyes when it looked at Blood Potion. It seemed that Blood Potions were extremely delicious to Vampires and Zombies, just not for Vandalieu.
Even with Vandalieu’s skill, Bellmond’s surgery took over ten hours.
Eleanora had only needed her skin and the underlying flesh to be replaced, but Bellmond needed bones in certain parts and several organs transplanted as well, so perhaps Vandalieu should have been proud for having completed it in only ten hours.
“When I examined you with Spirit Form Transformation, several of your organs were damaged, so let’s take this opportunity to renew them as well,” Vandalieu had said.
Bellmond had become a Vampire, so this didn’t even affect her ability in battle, let alone her everyday life. However, Vandalieu had taken this opportunity to go as far as to perform organ transplantation.
If Vandalieu wanted to repair these in the future but the Live-Dead Ternecia somehow became unusable, it would be a pain, after all.
It is difficult to tell whether Danna-sama is an optimistic person or a pessimistic one, Bellmond thought as she sighed.
She got up from the bed she was lying on and headed towards the full-length mirror that had been prepared under the assumption that the patients would want to see the results of the surgery.
This was a mirror that had been created by Princess Levia heating up some sand and Vandalieu using Golem Transmutation to remove impurities and turn it into a glass with the appropriate shape.
“He truly is incredible,” Bellmond murmured to herself. “Even royals and nobles would be astonished by this mirror.”
Does Danna-sama not know how much a smooth mirror made of glass would be worth? She wondered as she looked at the reflection of herself in the crystal-clear mirror.
And then she hardened her resolve and dropped the robe that she was wearing.
The mirror reflected an image of someone that was Bellmond, but at the same time, wasn’t her. She was so different that she gasped and almost activated her Demon Eye on herself in surprise.
Her previously scar-covered skin had changed color where new skin had been transplanted, looking as if it was covered in strangely-shaped bruises, but it was very smooth.
Her chest that was almost non-existent, where her skin had been clinging to her ribs in places, was now large and soft. She had been surprised by its weight right after the surgery, but seeing it like this was even more astonishing. It quivered a little every time she moved, and it was heavy.
As for her abdomen, it had become a little thicker, as not only the skin, but flesh and organs had been transplanted as well.
But this didn’t make her appear fat. Bellmond had been too thin to begin with. Now she had more feminine curves, and it was likely that many would be attracted to them.
But these weren’t the parts of Bellmond’s surgery that Vandalieu had spent the longest on. The part that had taken the longest was the bewitching curve of her bottom – or rather, the long tail that had been transplanted just above it.
This was the tail of a monkey…-like monster that had been defeated in the Scaled King’s Nest, a tail around the length of Bellmond’s entire body, covered in glossy fur.
It was apparently a mutated variant of a Chimera, but nobody had known what it was called. Vandalieu had thought that it resembled a Japanese chimera, but Luvesfol, the Raging Evil Dragon God, had fled, so nobody knew its exact name.
But this long tail with its shiny, silver-colored fur was beautiful, so Bellmond had no complaints.
Simply attaching the tail would have been simple, but Vandalieu had even gone as far as to tamper with the inside of Bellmond’s brain in order to connect the muscles and nerves so that she would be able to move the tail as she wanted.
As Bellmond had once been a forest-monkey-type Beast-person, there had been a dedicated part of her brain for controlling the movement of her tail, but it had apparently disappeared because so much time had passed after she lost her tail.
Vandalieu had used death-attribute magic to regenerate that part of her brain.
“… It is fortunate that I asked Luciliano-shi to vacate the room,” she said.
Bellmond couldn’t keep up with discussions of medical knowledge that didn’t exist in this world. The only thing that she understood was how unsightly a condition she had been in during the surgery… particularly when the changes had been made to her brain.
But enduring it had paid off; Bellmond was able to move her tail exactly as she wanted to. Her memory of the past wasn’t very clear, but she even got the feeling that it moved more dexterously than the tail that she had been born with.
The same applied for the rest of her body as well. Less than a day had passed since transplantation, and yet there was no numbness. When she pinched herself, she could feel the pain. If she brushed her fingertips against her skin to tickle herself, she could feel it.
It was difficult to think that this skin and flesh had belonged to someone else.
Of course, she felt a little discomfort from her figure changing considerably. She could move her fingers and toes the same as before the surgery, but she would have to take care as she went about her everyday life.
At the very least, she would have to replace all of her clothes with new ones. Her previous clothes wouldn’t be able to contain her chest, hips and buttocks. The only clothes she wouldn’t need to replace were her shoes.
“You have put a great amount of effort into this, Danna-sama. You must take responsibility for giving me such a body… What is this?” Bellmond checked her Status, just in case.
Vandalieu, who had been sleeping in the bed next to Bellmond, called out to her. Naturally, ten hours of surgery had been very tiring work for him.
Of course, it was also a time of day where children were supposed to be asleep.
“What’s wrong?” he asked. “Ah, before that, is it really alright for me to open my eyes?”
“So you were awake. How skillful of you to wake up without opening your eyes,” Bellmond remarked.
“On Earth, if you wake up and see something, all kinds of tragic, comical things can happen,” Vandalieu explained.
There was a phenomenon commonly known as the ‘lucky sukebe.*’ Incidentally, Vandalieu had never encountered this kind of phenomenon.
“I am sure you already saw enough to grow tired of it in the surgery room,” said Bellmond. “And I was someone who was picked up through your compassion, Danna-sama… Leaving that aside, there are a few abnormalities with my Status.”
“Abnormalities? Did you gain a Status Effect? Then we must go back into surgery.”
With his eyes still closed, Vandalieu got up from his bed. He had conducted surgery on muscle, fat, organs, bone, nerves and even the brain, so he had expected that there might be some kind of side-effect.
The chance of such a side effect appearing was much higher for Bellmond than Eleanora. That was why he had chosen to sleep close by.
“No, it is likely a different kind of abnormality from the kind that you are fearing, Danna-sama,” said Bellmond.
“Bellmond, I understand that there is no danger to your life right now. But if we don’t do anything about the side-effects, the risk of it becoming worse is –”
“The race title in my Status has changed from Noble-born Vampire to Abyssal Vampire.”
“Wow, that was unexpected.”
Vandalieu hadn’t imagined that the side-effect would be a race change.
According to Bellmond, her Rank and Attribute Values hadn’t changed, nor had she gained any new skills, but… there was no way that there would be no changes to her after her race had changed.
It was best to think that the changes hadn’t shown themselves yet.
After that, it was confirmed that Eleanora’s race had also changed to Abyssal Vampire.
“Could it be because you drank too much Blood Potion?”
It seemed that it wasn’t a bad thing, so for now, Vandalieu would just need to conduct follow-up examinations.
『The levels of the Surgery, Alchemy and Guidance: Demon Path skills have increased!』
The clattering sound of a wagon’s wheels turning came from the night sky.
“Hahahaha! This is a truly exhilarating experience!”
With his piercing crimson eyes shining, the Nightmare Carriage Sam was running around in the moonlit night.
“What are your thoughts, Bocchan?!” he shouted.
“If I come out onto the coachman’s seat, I feel like my face will become distorted from the wind pressure, so I’ll pass,” replied Vandalieu, who was relaxing inside the carriage.
Sam was currently running through the sky even higher than the clouds with his Air-running skill. The atmospheric pressure was different from that of the ground surface, and the cold air was harsher than the middle of winter.
The Undead Sam and the horses that were a part of him had no problems with this, but Vandalieu would be attacked mercilessly by these conditions if he were to leave the carriage. They were rather harsh conditions to endure in exchange for a sense of exhilaration.
“But you really are convenient after all, Sam,” Vandalieu remarked.
“Jyuuh, this is so pleasant that I would never imagine that we are flying… or rather, running through the air, my lord,” said Bone Man.
“So… high…” Rapiéçage groaned.
“Hey, Van, I want to look outside!” said Pauvina.
The inside of the carriage had the same atmospheric pressure as the ground’s surface. The airtightness of Sam’s carriage should have been nonexistent, but his Comfort Maintenance skill suppressed the effects of not only the atmospheric temperature, but the atmospheric pressure and wind pressure as well.
“Pauvina, let’s look outside before we reach the ground,” said Vandalieu.
“Eh~!” Pauvina made a noise of complaint.
“Eeegh,” Rapiéçage groaned.
“Yamata, you don’t have to sing,” said Vandalieu.
“Antenshon pleeease, would anyone like a drink~?” asked Rita.
“Rita, that’s ‘attention,’ not ‘antenshon,’” Vandalieu told her.
Tonight, Vandalieu and his companions were headed towards the former Sauron Duchy, which was now under the occupation of the Amid Empire.
Their objective was, of course, to acquire the seeds for Sauron rice, which was apparently similar to Japonica rice. The other objective was to meet the Scylla, another of the races created by Vida, and to gather information.
According to Kasim and his friends, who had originally come from the Sauron Duchy, there had been a self-governing dominion of Scylla that originated in the distant past in the Sauron Duchy, though they had never actually seen it. Only certain merchants and noblemen visited it, so they didn’t know any details about it, either.
It wasn’t clear whether Death-Attribute Charm… Demon Path Enticement would have any effect on the Scylla, but Vandalieu was Vida’s Holy Son. There was a reasonable chance that they would treat him well… if they believed him, that is.
And if they were troubled in any way, he would offer a trade, set up a Dungeon so that he could go back and forth from the dominion, establish trade and sign a military treaty for times of emergency.
Our territory and fighting strength has expanded, but Talosheim is in a closed-off, remote area of land. Unless we assertively make moves on the outside rather than just staying holed up in the city, we’ll be checkmated eventually.
Of course, conducting just diplomacy on the outside wasn’t enough, but –
And if I become known as the Demon King and the world treats me as an enemy in the future, I want those who can become powerful allies.
Vandalieu had already acquired two fragments of the Demon King and more dangerous-sounding skills and Titles than he cared to count. If he were to fail in becoming an honorary nobleman in the future, it was possible that he would become a target of extermination to the whole world instead.
Thus, Vandalieu wanted the Scylla of the Sauron Duchy to be his allies to begin with. The Amid Empire, which was an enemy to Vandalieu and his companions no matter how he looked at it, was currently ruling the Sauron Duchy. It was unlikely that any disputes with the Orbaume Kingdom would arise from damaging the surrounding areas to some extent.
Also, he wanted to gain information on Heinz and the remaining two Pure-breed Vampires if possible. Vandalieu had discovered several of Gubamon and Birkyne’s hideouts from information that he had extracted from Ternecia, but they had already been vacated.
It seemed that they had already taken countermeasures to deal with Vandalieu.
He had to gather information from scratch once more. It would be simple if he could use Heinz to kill their close aides, but…
“Bocchan, we are crossing the mountain range soon!” Sam announced.
Incidentally, the reason Vandalieu was traveling through the skies rather than using the Labyrinth Creation skill to teleport was because he could only teleport the plants, ghosts, insects and those infested by the insects with him, but Sam could carry a large number of people at once.
However, the upper skies around the mountain range had become magical skies, known as Devil’s Skies, inhabited by high-Rank monsters capable of flight, including Rank 10 Hurricane Dragons.
“However, we have a guest!” said Sam.
There was a Hurricane Dragon, releasing lightning and letting out a roar at this strange intruder that was entering its territory. It was a powerful monster that even Sam, who was under the effects of Guidance: Demon Path, would be no match for.
“Sensei, you’re up,” said Vandalieu.
“Sensei?” Bellmond repeated. “Well, I shall be going.”
“Bellmond-san, at times like these, you have to say, ‘doore*!’” said Darcia.
“Doore, doore!” Pauvina squealed.
The two of them were in high spirits for some reason.
“I-I see. Doore?” After complying with their request, Bellmond leapt out onto the coachman’s seat and then into the sky.
“Now then, please back her up,” said Vandalieu.
There was a roar from the torrent of Knochen’s bones, which had been flying behind Sam, as it assaulted the Hurricane Dragon along with a poisonous breath attack. As its movements slowed down, metal threads wrapped around its wings.
Despite being Rank 10, a single Hurricane Dragon could not defeat the coordinated attacks of the Rank 10 Bellmond and the Rank 9 Knochen.