Leaving Pauvina and Princess Levia behind, Vandalieu rushed towards the person who had produced the scream that had reached his ears. What he found was a beautiful woman with hair of a bright green-blonde color that wouldn’t be seen on Earth, seemingly drowning in the river.
“Kyah, kyah, kyaaah~♪”
Still screaming (?), she was flailing at the water’s surface with both her arms. There was no dangerous monster or suspicious silhouette that could be a murderer anywhere nearby.
She was just drowning… perhaps?
Vandalieu stared at this beautiful woman with his face sticking out of the thicket on the riverbank, even forgetting to put his stretched-out tongue away.
The reason for this was that the sight before him was a very strange one.
Normally, someone with pride in their swimming abilities might leap into the river right away to save the drowning woman.
However, no matter how Vandalieu looked at the situation, the beautiful woman was not drowning.
First of all, the woman was unmistakably a Scylla.
The lower half of the woman’s body couldn’t be seen as it was hidden by the water. But it was almost winter, and despite that, this woman was in a river near a Scylla village, inside Scylla territory, half-naked with nothing but a cloth wrapped around her chest. Given the circumstantial evidence, this conclusion could be drawn.
They were a race of people with octopus tentacles for the lower halves of their bodies, and though they weren’t as well-adapted to being underwater as Mer-people, they were fine with being underwater for about half a day.
Of course, it was possible that there were some Scylla who were not good at swimming. It was likely even possible that they could drown if water levels increased or they were in bad shape.
But this river’s water was flowing gently. Even now, there were leaves floating slowly past the woman.
“And most importantly, there’s not the slightest reaction from my Danger Sense: Death,” Vandalieu murmured.
This meant that the woman was harmless to Vandalieu, and she herself was at absolutely no risk of dying.
“And now that I listen to her screaming carefully, it’s not screaming.”
For some reason, it had the intonations of a song.
But then this raised the question of why she was pretending to drown in a place like this.
In fantasy works on Earth, Scylla were depicted as monsters who pretended to drown and then attacked the ones who came to help them. Was this the case here?
But if this was the case, there was a conspicuous lack of killing intent.
“So, so, are you going to go to her?” asked Orbia. “Or are you going to ignore her?”
Vandalieu had wanted to ask Orbia about the woman, who was likely acquainted with Orbia, but for some reason, Orbia was looking at Vandalieu with an excited sparkling in her eyes, seemingly intending to watch what he would do next.
“Hmm, I suppose I’ll try calling out to her,” said Vandalieu.
It didn’t seem that the woman needed to be saved, but it was still possible that a dangerous murderer was in these areas. It was probably best to at least speak to her.
Vandalieu thought that it would be a pain if he were to use Flight to approach her just because he didn’t want to get wet, only to have her detect the use of magic and mistake him for an enemy. So he decided to manipulate threads extended from his fingers with Thread-reeling to move towards her as a bridge.
It would look strange to see him using invisible threads as a bridge, but from the front, it would likely appear as if he was if he was walking on the water’s surface.
“Hello, excuse me,” said Vandalieu, calling out to her. “Could I speak to you for a moment?”
“Kyah… Huh?” The beautiful woman froze and stared at him blankly. It did indeed seem that she hadn’t been drowning. “W-why is there a child in a place like this, walking on the river? M-more importantly, you just came closer to me?!”
The woman’s expression and the color of her face changed hectically. She became flustered as the former went from surprise to bewilderment, while the latter became gradually more red.
She seemed greatly disturbed; her octopus-like tentacles were squirming about around her as well.
Her expression changes so easily; I’m jealous. So, she was a Scylla after all. And it seems that there are bokukkos* in other worlds, too. With these thoughts running through his mind, Vandalieu watched the woman for a while.
“Are you alright?” Vandalieu called out to her after realizing that she wasn’t showing any signs of regaining her composure. “Please calm down, I don’t have any intention of harming you.”
The woman bent backwards, holding her head in her hands. “You’re even calling out to me?!”
Tentacles wrapped around Vandalieu’s torso before he could ask, “What did you want me to do?”
“Come here for a second!” the woman said.
And then Vandalieu was taken to the side of the river.
“Uwaaaah… What should I do, seriously, what should I do~? I was only practicing the courting rituaaal.”
According to the beautiful Scylla woman who was now clutching her head in her hands in worry, what she had been performing in the river was practice for the traditional courting ritual that was handed down among the Scylla race from generation to generation.
A Scylla who wished to get married would swim, sing and dance to make the request of, “Someone, please marry me.”
If a man wanted to marry that Scylla, they would enter the water, approach the Scylla and call out to her or embrace her.
Once the above procedure was followed, the proposal was established.
“Wow…” Vandalieu was surprised to learn that what was considered a way of trapping prey on Earth was actually a courting ritual.
Maybe Vida and others told the founder of the Scylla the stories that they heard from Zakkart and the other champions, and the stories changed over time?
The goddess Vida had given birth to many new races, including the Scylla, but she hadn’t designed their exterior appearance and inner features beforehand.
She had simply tried to give birth to strong races in order to restore the world that had been ruined by the war with the Demon King. She likely had some idea about what she was creating, but it was unlikely that she had simply decided to create black-skinned Elves and women with octopus tentacles for the lower halves of their bodies.
Thus, Vida had likely named the founders of the newly-born races based on creatures that appeared in the myths, legends and fantasy works that she had likely once heard from the champions.
Thus, the Scylla race had been named as such, and the stories told to their founders had changed into this strange courting ritual.
“We don’t really do it that often now, though, this ritual,” said Orbia, adding more details to the beautiful woman’s explanation. “In the distant past, there were numerous men who mistakenly thought that the Scylla were really drowning, and apparently there were arguments afterwards. Now, it’s only really done by couples who have already become close, and people like this girl who do it as part of a festival’s ceremony. I didn’t perform this ritual with that man.”
In Japanese terms, this ceremony was apparently equivalent to giving each other poems before getting to know each other.
“I wish you’d told me beforehand,” Vandalieu muttered. If he’d known, he would have called out to the woman from afar without approaching.
“I thought that Vida’s Holy Son would know without being told!” said Orbia.
“I didn’t notice you!” the beautiful woman protested, being unable to see Orbia’s spirit and thinking that Vandalieu’s words had been directed at her. But then she dropped her shoulders and let out a heavy sigh. “But I suppose what’s already been done can’t be helped. It’s my fault for practicing on my own because I was embarrassed, anyway. I’m Privel, a Scylla from the nearby village,” she said, finally introducing herself. “And you?”
“My name is Vandalieu.”
“Privel is the chief’s twelfth daughter,” said Orbia. “You did it! Connections get!”
Vandalieu suppressed the urge to ask her where her tragic mood from before went.
“Vandalieu, huh,” said Privel. “Well then, Van-kun, where are your mom and dad? I need to explain the courting ritual to them…”
“Eh? Isn’t it invalidated by the fact that it was an accident?” Vandalieu asked.
“It’s not; I’m a shrine maiden,” said Privel. “Well, we don’t have to go as far as to get married, but I want you to help with the festival.”
Vandalieu thought it would have been fine to pretend as if it had never happened, since there hadn’t been any witnesses, but Privel’s position apparently made that impossible.
“The shrine maiden has the role of offering the courting ritual to the gods during the winter birth festival,” Privel explained. “The shrine maiden is supposed to choose just one person to perform the courting ritual to, but… it’s a rule that she mustn’t choose more people.” She sighed. She hadn’t expected a child to be passing by in a place like that. “I... it was decided that I would become a shrine maiden on short notice because of certain circumstances, and I might be able to do something about it, but… You’re a boy, aren’t you? You have quite the rugged-sounding name, too.”
“I am a boy,” said Vandalieu.
“Then we can’t,” said Privel. “I want to explain things to your parents and have you cooperate with the festival. If I can’t, I’ll have to explain the situation to my mother, apologize to the goddess and the other gods, and then have someone else take my position as shrine maiden.”
It was apparently a religious problem. Vida’s religion apparently had few ceremonial procedures to begin with, but perhaps this one had been created to increase the sense of unity with the village.
“Wait. Was there really a white-haired child like you in one of the other villages? Where did you come from?” Privel asked as she examined Vandalieu closely, having suddenly realized that she had never seen him before.
“Privel became the shrine maiden in my place,” said Orbia. “She was a candidate, just like me, after all.”
The reason Privel had become the shrine maiden on such short notice was because Orbia, who had been named as the shrine maiden, had been killed.
“I understand,” said Vandalieu. “I’ll help you.”
Vandalieu had never been involved in religious things on Earth, but in this world, he was Vida’s Holy Son. He was a religious figure, through and through.
Since this was the case, it was probably best to cooperate with Privel and the Scylla, who also worshipped Vida. It seemed that this would make Orbia happy as well.
And he also wanted to do his best to spread the seeds of goodwill among the Scylla race.
“Eh, are you sure? Thank you! But I have to explain things to your parents first,” said Privel.
“It’s fine,” said Vandalieu. “I have an understanding mother.”
He had left the bone fragment that Darcia inhabited back at the camp, just in case. Rita and the others were protecting it now. Darcia wasn’t here right now, but it was probably fine.
Suddenly, Vandalieu heard Pauvina’s voice.
“Hmm?” Privel looked in the direction that this young voice had come from, and then froze. “She’s… a friend, isn’t she?”
A little girl with blonde hair that looked as if it was made of pure gold, eight years old in appearance. However, she was nearly two and a half meters tall. And as a precaution, she was holding a steel mace that looked as if it could kill a bear.
“You found a Scylla-san? That’s amazing, Van!” Pauvina waded across the river with an innocent smile on her face.
It seemed that Princess Levia had hidden herself.
“This is Pauvina, who is something like my little sister,” said Vandalieu.
“I-I see, quite the large little sister, isn’t she? Is she a half-Beast-person Titan?” Privel guessed, noticing the triangular ears protruding from Pauvina’s blonde hair.
But she didn’t realize that Pauvina was a half-Noble Orc… though this was to be expected, as Pauvina was probably the only member of her race to exist in history.
“Hey, I’m Privel,” Privel continued, introducing herself. “Nice to meet you.”
“Nice to meet you,” said Pauvina. “Van, did you tell her about Orbia-oneesan?”
“Orbia-oneesan?” Privel repeated. “How do you know that name? Ten days ago, Orbia-san…”
Pauvina had let Orbia’s name slip.
But Orbia herself said, “I’ll take it from here, so cast your spell on me.”
It might indeed be better for her to explain things than me, since I’m not good at talking. And since they knew each other while she was alive, it’s probably fine, Vandalieu thought as he cast Visualization.
“Privel, I’m sorry that my death caused a lot of trouble for you,” said Orbia.
As she appeared out of thin air, Privel’s eyes opened wide. With tears welling up in her eyes –
Overcome with emotion, she tried to throw herself into Orbia’s chest.
Orbia was merely in a state of being visible to normal people, thanks to the Visualization spell.
She didn’t have any physical form.
As a result, Privel went straight through Orbia and tackled Vandalieu into the river.
… Lucky sukebes* aren’t very lucky after all, Vandalieu thought earnestly as he fell into the river with Privel crushing him.
Privel was certainly not large; if anything, she had a small build. But this only applied for the upper half of her body.
There were eight thick tentacles on the lower half of her body, each of them over three meters long from their roots to their tips… her body weight was over a hundred kilograms.
Men and women of the resistance were running, gasping and wheezing pathetically.
“Damn it, I can’t do this resistance thing any longer!”
“You suggested it, didn’t you, Haj-Aniki! You said that we’d be able to eat meals if we called ourselves the resistance!”
“Shut up! You guys didn’t oppose it either!”
To be more precise, the men and women who had pretended to be a part of the resistance were running.
They were not young people with the noble intention of fighting the invaders for the sake of their homeland, but young people who had simply never found proper work and never eaten well.
Even if they wanted to be adventurers, they didn’t have the confidence or the courage, nor did they have the perseverance to patiently train themselves to reach D-class, the class of adventurers that were capable of feeding themselves.
But that didn’t mean that they were so desperate that they would stain their hands with outrageous criminal activities.
And then they had heard that villages and towns would assist them with food if they called themselves members of the resistance.
They jumped at this opportunity. They wouldn’t actually do anything reckless like fighting the armies of the Amid Empire and Mirg shield-nation that were occupying the lands. They would simply quietly go around to a number of villages and towns, tell resistance supporters that they were members of the resistance and have them provide a little assistance.
They weren’t actually participating in any resistance movements so the enemy’s army wouldn’t take notice of them, and they were not stealing from the villagers by force, so the Adventurers’ Guild wouldn’t send out an extermination request for them.
Their earnings were small, but it was an easy occupation, with the only danger they had to be careful to avoid being encountering the real members of the resistance.
That was what they had thought until just an hour earlier.
They had been too naïve in their way of thinking. They had been found by a force dispatched to exterminate the resistance, led by some nobleman of the army occupying the area.
This extermination force hadn’t done any investigation beforehand into things such as what the resistance had done and how much damage had actually been caused to the army.
They would simply need to hunt down those who called themselves members of the resistance, and investigate these things afterwards.
It would be different for the well-known groups such as the Reborn Sauron Duchy army, led by the illegitimate child of the late Duke Sauron and his younger brother, or the Sauron Liberation Front, led by the ‘Liberating Princess Knight.’ But it seemed that they had no intention of spending much time on the numerous nameless resistance organizations.
“Damn it, they got Ben and Bicks! Tarmie as well… it’s all your fault!”
“My fault?! Meecher, you were happy as well with the fact that you wouldn’t have to become a prostitute selling her body for dirt cheap!”
“Shut up, we have to run now! As far as we can!”
The extermination force had ambushed the fake resistance and taken down about a third of them with archers. They had fled without being able to fight back or help their companions, leading to the current situation.
There were no signs of the extermination force chasing behind them, but their fears that their pursuers would suddenly appear at any moment would not stop, so they couldn’t stop running.
However, they soon reached their limits. Their hearts felt as if they would snap, their breathing was wild and their legs were hot with pain. As soon as one of them stopped, unable to bear it any longer, it became a cue for the others to all stop as well and sat down on the ground.
For a while, the mountain was filled only with the sound of their breathing. Despite winter being close, the sun was warm, but they were not in a state to be calmed by its rays.
“W-where are we supposed to run?”
The man known as Haj-Aniki, who had been completely focused on running, wore a gloomy expression in response to this question from one of his companions.
“Damn it! If only we didn’t pretend to be the resistance, this would never have –”
“Resistance?” said an unfamiliar voice.
Startled, Haj raised his face to see a beautiful, half-naked woman with the upper half of her body protruding from the thicket, looking down at everyone.
Is that a Scylla?!
Seeing that the beautiful woman’s hair and eyes were green, Haj realized that she was a Scylla.
He knew that many Scylla had green hair and eyes. And the only women who would walk around a forest half-naked at this time of year where winter was close were Scylla.
Come to think of it, we were close to Scylla territory. I suppose we entered it without realizing. Which means…
“Yeah, that’s right! We’re part of the resistance! We’re being chased, please help us!” he shouted.
“That’s right, help us!”
“Please, just for a little while, even just one night!”
Haj and his companions pretended to be members in the resistance once more in an attempt to grab hold of this hopeful spider’s thread* that had appeared before them. They were planning to flee to the Scylla’s village in order to hide from the extermination force that could be chasing them.
The Scylla women stared at Haj and his companions with a vacant expression for a while before answering with a lethargic tone.
“Resis… tance… will help.”
The faces of Haj and his companions shone with hope at this response.
“Ah, thank you,” said Haj. “We owe you our lives, Goddess-sa…ma…?”
Right before his eyes, the branches of the thicket began to snap and break. The top half of the beautiful Scylla woman’s body drew closer.
But the lower half of its body was not made of the tentacles of an octopus, but the body of a serpent, thicker than a log.
“A-a Lamia? No, it’s not a Lamia or a Scylla?!”
For a moment, Haj had thought that she was a member of one of Vida’s races that possessed the lower bodies of serpents, but immediately realized that he had made an unthinkable misunderstanding.
The beautiful woman’s lower half was connected to the body of an even thicker snake. And this woman’s lower half wasn’t the only one attached to the root of this snake.
A Dark Elf with pointed ears, a Mer-person with gills in her sides, a Harpy with wings for arms, an Arachne with compound eyes on her forehead, a small Dwarf, a Drakonid with wings growing from her back, a purple-skinned Majin and a Centaur with a long mane – the upper half of these women, who were so beautiful that they would be praised if they were judged on their appearance alone, were attached to the necks of snakes.
“A-a-a mutant Hydraaaa?!”
To be more precise, it was a Hydra Zombie created by replacing all of its severed heads with the upper halves of nine beautiful women of different races, but this was of little importance to Haj and his companions.
The important thing for them was that the creature before them was unmistakably a monster.
Three of the beautiful women were singing while the other six closed in on Haj and his companions. They screamed and tried to flee as fast as their legs would allow, but they had pushed their stamina to their utmost limits just moments earlier. Most of them were struggling to walk, let alone run.
And then there was an ear-splitting scream, the sound of someone dying.
Haj and his companions stopped in surprise and looked up… to see a sensual-looking woman with abnormally large arms and legs, membranous wings extending from her back and a snake-like tail with a stinger attached to the end stretching from her waist, flying above them.
There was an unfamiliar man wearing dark green clothes, white smoke rising from his body with a hissing sound as he dangled from one of the woman’s hands.
Letting out a terrified noise, Haj sank to the ground with tears running down his face. “M-Mommy…”
Some of the other fake members of the resistance fell to their knees as well, while the others had fallen onto their backs with their limbs still flailing in an attempt to scramble away.
“Shelter, chased, being chased, shelter.”
Yamata and Rapiéçage conversed in faltering words that were impossible for Haj and his companions to make any sense of as they began capturing them.
“I don’t want to die, I don’t wait to die. Please, don’t kill me…”
“Shelter, shelt? Shell. Ter… ter…”
The two of them, who had come out to guard the surrounding area, captured Haj and his companions who were crying, screaming and begging for their lives. And then they returned to the camp.
【Patchwork Hydra Zombie】
A work of art (Zombie) created by Ternecia by severing the heads of the corpse of a nine-headed mutant Hydra and attaching the upper halves of the bodies of beautiful women of different races.
Its modeling is spectacular; it is an embodiment of grotesque beauty.
However, its ability in combat is drastically inferior to a regular Hydra. The venomous fangs that are supposed to be its weapons are absent, and most of the upper bodies that have replaced the heads are lacking in defense.
It is Rank 6, but it only possesses the strength of a Rank 4 monster.
However, this is unlikely to have caused any problems, as Ternecia originally created it as a moving form of interior decoration.
Naturally, as it is an artificially-created creature, it is a type of Undead that has not been discovered in Lambda. As long as there are no others with the same terrible tastes as Ternecia, there will be no two identical specimens.
As a result of the numerous remodeling procedures that Vandalieu carried out after retrieving it from Ternecia’s hideout, it has become able to use its numerous mouths to produce words, use its canine teeth as venomous fangs and hold objects with its arms.
In other words, it was not able to do these things before undergoing surgery.