Vandalieu suddenly realized that he was in a place that he didn’t recognize.
“This is… ah, a dream.”
Having experienced something similar on the night that he had undergone a Job-change to Demon Guider, Vandalieu realized that he was dreaming.
But he felt more unpleasant than he had in the previous dream. A sense of discomfort, as if he had accidentally trespassed into someone’s house without realizing it.
“But it’s a dream, after all… I wonder if someone else is going to come?”
He began looking to see if there was anything around in his field of vision, which somehow allowed him to see all of his surroundings without moving his neck. And then, suddenly, a voice called out to him.
Vandalieu lowered his field of vision to see the owner of the voice, who was below him and to the side. There was a single Scylla there.
No, looking more closely, it was something grotesque that resembled a Scylla.
Green hair and two arms, the upper body of a woman, a lower body that resembled that of an octopus. All of these were just like a Scylla’s at a glance.
But when Vandalieu focused his eyes, he could see that all of these features were made of tentacles of different thicknesses, entwined around each other in bundles to form the shape of a Scylla.
It was like an elaborate straw doll, made out of fibers of flesh. It didn’t look particularly impressive as it was around half of Vandalieu’s size, but it was a little ghastly to look at up-close.
The first thing that Vandalieu did was apologize to this ominous-looking creature.
“I’m sorry about this,” he said. “I’m still at an age where I’m not growing much taller, so I was searching above me without thinking.”
Other than the children like Jadal and Varbie, Vandalieu was always surrounded by people who were taller than him. That was why he had the habit of looking up while looking around to see whether anyone was around.
“Not at all, do not concern yourself over such things… for it is I who summoned you here of my own accord. Please forgive me.” The Scylla-like creature spoke in a neutral, flowing tone that was unimaginable given its grotesque appearance.
As for how it was speaking despite not having a mouth, the tentacles that formed the mouth-like area quivered in rhythm with the words spoken by its voice. It seemed that it was rubbing the tentacles together there in order to produce sound.
For a dream, the setting was quite detailed.
“My apologies, but could I ask who you are? And what important matter have I been summoned for?” Vandalieu asked.
Judging from the appearance of the creature, he could guess that it had some relation to the Scylla, but he still didn’t know what it was so he maintained a polite tone. The Scylla-like creature’s tentacles quivered as it answered.
“I am known as Merrebeveil. I felt an aberrant… abnormal presence among those who worship me. Wanting to ask who you might be, I summoned you here.”
Merrebeveil was a name that Vandalieu remembered hearing before.
“Is that not the name of the heroic goddess worshipped by the Scylla race in their territory?”
Heroic gods were heroes who had become gods. Thus, they underwent transformations depending on later alterations to the religion or changes in history, but it was said that many of the statues and paintings depicting them resembled the appearance that they had when they were mortals.
But then, wasn’t it likely that they would at least not look like masses of tentacles bound into the shape of a Scylla?
“That is a masquerade that I have kept up since before the founding of the Sauron Kingdom that preceded the Sauron Duchy,” Merrebeveil said. “I was originally the Evil God of Slime and Tentacles of the Demon King’s army. I once made a vow with the goddess Vida and became a parent to the Scylla.”
The truth was that she had been an evil god of the Demon King’s army who ruled over tentacles.
After being defeated a hundred thousand years ago in the battle between Vida and Alda, Merrebeveil and the Scylla of that time failed to escape beyond the Boundary Mountain Range. The Scylla separated into individual families and went their separate ways, but a sizeable number of them succeeded in settling into these lands that were filled with mountains and marshes.
Merrebeveil had originally been an evil god in a higher position than Fidirg, the Dragon God of Five Sins, so she had received less damage. And since she had believers in the Scylla race, her power recovered more quickly and she helped the Scylla survive, bestowing her divine blessing upon them and occasionally dispatching her Familiar Spirit.
But the number of people obeying Alda’s will grew over time, and as they began to form nations, Merrebeveil’s very existence became a heavy burden upon the Scylla.
As the Scylla worshipped an evil god, not only the believers of Alda, but the believers of other gods whose knowledge and history had been forgotten and even believers of Vida treated the Scylla as targets to be feared and persecuted.
“The people cannot distinguish between the evil gods who are remnants of the Demon King’s army and the evil gods who are on Vida’s side,” said Merrebeveil. “Alda never intended to tell us apart to begin with, and Vida and the other prominent gods were still slumbering.”
“But I do think that at least Vida’s followers could understand,” said Vandalieu.
“There were some who did, but there can be large differences between believers of Vida. Not all of them are descendants of those who fought in the battle that occurred one hundred thousand years ago; this was true then and it is still true now.”
“… I suppose that is true.”
Not all of Vida’s followers knew the truth about the world’s history. Vandalieu knew this, but now that he was hearing Merrebeveil retell the tragedy of the Scylla race, he understood just how troublesome this fact was.
“I did consider pretending to be defeated and going into slumber temporarily, but the Scylla who was the chief at the time suggested a clever idea,” Merrebeveil continued.
As Merrebeveil was considering sacrificing herself so that the Scylla could escape persecution, the chief had suggested that they pretend that Merrebeveil was not an evil god.
As a result, Merrebeveil, the Evil God of Slime and Tentacles, falsely became Merrebeveil, the heroic goddess of the Scylla, and came to be worshipped this way.
That was apparently why her previous appearance of being a large mass of writhing tentacles had transformed into her current Scylla-like appearance.
Incidentally, falsely altering a religion might sound easy to do from a mortal’s perspective, but this was quite a dangerous act for a god like Merrebeveil.
Small alterations would be like putting small piercings in the ears, but changing from an evil god to a heroic god would need the same amount of resolve as being anesthetized and undergoing plastic surgery to the entire body while also receiving surgery to the internal organs at the same time.
It was no different from asking a human to undergo a surgery to become a creature made entirely of tentacles.
Even if it succeeded, their divinity would change so their personality and biology would also change. And even this result would be considered a good one; it was also possible that they would fall apart and be extinguished with their fragments forming an entirely new god, as if they had been reincarnated. It was even possible that they would separate into two gods and become weaker.
The Scylla chief of the past had suggested this without knowing how dangerous it would be, but Merrebeveil, after long deliberation, decided that there was a chance to succeed and accepted this suggestion.
And just as she had hoped, she successfully disguised herself as a heroic goddess with only her appearance changing a little and going from being in a bigender state to being more female.
She seemed happy that she had chosen to disguise herself as the heroic goddess of the Scylla, her own children.
“I see. So that allowed you to decrease the persecution that the Scylla suffered from outsiders,” said Vandalieu.
“Yes. So, who may you be?” Merrebeveil asked.
“Even if you ask me who I am… Is it not you who sent a Divine Message to Periveil-san that I would be coming?”
“I was merely passing on the Divine Message that Vida-sama sent to me… and now that I am meeting you directly like this, I can tell that you are indeed not normal.”
“Normal… well, it isn’t something that I should hide from a god, so I will tell you.”
When did I become so important that a god would personally come and ask who I am? Is it because of the Demon King’s fragments and my Mana pool that will reach one billion soon? Vandalieu wondered as he told Merrebeveil who he was, what he had done up until now and why he had come to the Scylla territory.
“Oh my… to think that these were the circumstances,” Merrebeveil murmured.
For a hundred thousand years, Vida had been sending Divine Messages about Vandalieu to the gods who were her allies as well as her own followers, but Merrebeveil had never received any detailed information.
Merrebeveil, who had transformed from an evil god to a heroic goddess, was partially different from the being that Vida had known.
Though this was a very rough example, it was as if she had changed her address without telling anyone.
“I understand the situation. I, Merrebeveil, shall become your strength.” Merrebeveil lowered her head so low that it looked as if she was crushing the lower half of her body.
“Please raise your head,” said Vandalieu. “I am happy to receive your support, but I am a Dhampir. I am not someone worthy of being called ‘onmi*’ by a god.”
Fidirg, who had been sealed in the Scaled King’s Nest, had met Vandalieu under unfortunate circumstances, but there should have been no reason for Merrebeveil to humble herself before Vandalieu.
Being treated like this despite that felt uncomfortable. But despite Vandalieu’s words, Merrebeveil showed no signs of accepting them.
Unlike Rodcorte, many of Vida’s allies who had once been a part of the Demon King’s army were humble gods, like Fidirg.
Despite being a goddess, Merrebeveil had taken a smaller form than Vandalieu and treated him politely. Thinking that this was the case, his impression of Merrebeveil grew even more favorable.
“More importantly, there are things that I would certainly like you to accept,” said Merrebeveil. “Because I had these, I was forced to restrict my power more than usual, but I am sure that you can make full use of them.”
Her body divided smoothly, revealing two black lumps that had been buried in the bundles of tentacles.
“Are those fragments of the Demon King?” Vandalieu asked.
“Yes,” said Merrebeveil. “These fragments are different to me in nature, so I was unable to seal both of them at once. There were originally three, but the other was caught up in the confusion during the battle of a hundred thousand years ago, and someone stole it. I would like to leave these two fragments with you.”
The Demon King’s fragments could often be used as powerful weapons, but for Merrebeveil, they were nothing but burdens.
If they were misused and went out of control, it was possible that they could cause the events leading to the Demon King’s resurrection. That was why she had been devoted in keeping them sealed.
“As a small price for doing this for me, I shall grant you the divine protection and Title that I can…” Merrebeveil let out a small noise of frustration. “It seems that a divine protection will be impossible.”
“Ah, Fidirg said it was impossible, too. I will ask you again when you make a full recovery,” said Vandalieu.
“Then a Title, at least… you shall become a king to all who possess tentacles, the Tentacle King.”
“… There is a similar Title that is read the same way but with a different meaning, you know?”
『You have acquired the ‘Tentacle King’ Title! 』
『The level of the Abyss skill has increased!』
Vandalieu was surprised that he could hear the announcer in his head even inside a dream, and also felt slightly anxious. What will I tell everyone in Talosheim if they start growing tentacles?
But why had the Abyss skill’s level increased?
“But merely giving you a Title is… Shall I have some of my children serve you?” asked Merrebeveil.
“No, you do not have to go so far,” said Vandalieu.
“But with this, what I have given you does not match the burden that I have made you bear.”
For Merrebeveil, the Demon King’s fragments weren’t even weapons; they were equivalent to dangerous chemical pollutants. Since she was having Vandalieu accept them, even if he didn’t consider them to be burdens, it was logical for her to provide a befitting reward. That was what she seemed to think.
“Then please give Orbia, Privel, Periveil-san and everyone else the divine protection that was supposed to be for me,” said Vandalieu. “Also, please tell all of the Scylla that they should become my allies.”
“I have already bestowed my divine protection upon Periveil, but as you will,” said Merrebeveil.
“Thank you very much.” The moment Vandalieu finished speaking these words, his consciousness blacked out.
Merrebeveil’s body collapsed like that of an octopus or squid that had used up all of its strength.
“… He managed to return. Though I requested something of him and I am very grateful for it… I do not wish to meet him in my Divine Realm ever again.”
The truth was, Merrebeveil had lied to Vandalieu.
She had told Vandalieu that she had ‘summoned’ him, but the reality was different. The moment she tried to interfere with Vandalieu’s consciousness, he had ‘appeared’ in her own Divine Realm.
In fact, Merrebeveil hadn’t deliberately taken a form that was smaller than the embodiment of Vandalieu’s mind. Her original body had simply been smaller than Vandalieu’s mind.
She had shuddered before the enormous, grotesque being that had suddenly appeared and was late in calling out to him.
“Leaving aside how grotesque and enormous his mind was, his trespassing into my Divine Realm was the power of the Abyss skill. I intended to look into him, but I was looked into instead.”
Merrebeveil knew of several beings with powers similar to the Abyss skill that had existed in the world that she had originally been in before she became a part of the Demon King’s army. These beings had been the first to be obliterated by the Demon King Guduranis.
These were those who possessed the only power in that world that the Demon King could not obtain.
Though Vandalieu possessed a power that even the Demon King did not, even with Merrebeveil ‘looking’ into him, it should have been impossible for him to step into her Divine Realm.
This had only happened because Merrebeveil had tried to touch Vandalieu’s mind, only to have him follow her instead.
“Now that I think about it, it makes sense that he was looking up to begin with. One who is seated in the depths would need to look up in order to see those in the shallows. O gracious Vida. You bless us with constant good fortune. I pray for prosperity for me and my children.”
He would be able to crush even the evil schemes of the traitors, Merrebeveil thought. With high expectations of Vandalieu, she gave thanks for how fortunate she had been to be able to form bonds of friendship with him.
Having woken up to find himself on the verge of being suffocated due to Pauvina turning in her sleep, Vandalieu succeeded in using Spirit Form Transformation on his entire body to escape from beneath her.
He quickly produced threads from his mouth, made clothes and changed into them. And then he decided to inspect the Demon King’s fragments that he had received from Merrebeveil.
Judging from their names, he had decided that there would be no danger in testing them inside the room.
“… Demon King’s suckers, activate.”
Suction cups like those of a frog appeared on Vandalieu’s fingertips.
When he pressed his fingertips against the wall of the hut, they attached themselves firmly to its surface.
With the suction cups sticking to the wall, he tried climbing it. The suction cups could attach and detach themselves freely, so he was able to crawl across the walls and ceilings as he wished.
With this fragment of the Demon King, it would be easier to crawl across the ceilings of Dungeons.
And then he continued to the second fragment.
“Demon King’s ink sacs, activate.”
Ink came out of Vandalieu’s fingertips. He made an improvised container made of earth and coated in mucus produced by his tongue, gathered the ink in there and then inspected it.
He could control its properties freely; he could make it thick like squid ink or silky like octopus ink. And it seemed that he could even change its color at will.
It did not have any particular smell of the sea, so it seemed that it could be used to make ink and paint. It was possible that it would even be good for dyes used to dye cloths.
“But one small touch is needed to make these useful in battle,” Vandalieu murmured.
The fragments were suction cups and ink sacs, after all. Unlike the Demon King’s horns and blood, they did not have properties that would allow them to become weapons immediately upon activation.
Should he imitate the way that frogs, octopuses and squids used them?
“Using the abilities of living things in technology… this is biomimetics, I suppose.”
“Ah, Your Majesty, you are becoming even less like a person… but I have the feeling that not much has changed,” said Princess Levia.
As she said, Vandalieu had long been able to crawl around walls and ceilings and produce all kinds of medicines, including vitamin pills, from his tongue, claws and fangs. Perhaps suction cups and ink sacs were small additions to these.
“Not much has changed, you say…” Orbia seemed shocked by Princess Levia’s reaction.
“What’s wrong~?” Pauvina asked, rubbing her eyes as she sat up in her bed.
“Vandalieu-kun is crawling around with suction cups on his fingers, and producing ink from his fingertips,” said Orbia.
“Is that all?”
“Th-that’s all, but…”
“Then I’m going to sleep for a little longer~.”
Pauvina collapsed onto her bed and went back to sleep.
After listening to her quiet breathing for a while, Orbia turned to Vandalieu, half-smiling.
“Vandalieu-kun, wouldn’t you rather become a Scylla?” she asked.
“No, that’s impossible, since I’m a male.”
Incidentally, Scylla were also capable of producing ink.
『The level of the Demon King Fusion skill has increased!』
The extermination force led by Mardock, who had begun moving at sunrise, reached their objective before long.
They had discovered the fortress that the female Majin Undead-user was likely inside.
“These are… fortress walls? There’s no way fortress walls could be built in such a high mountain…”
“Look at reality! There is actually a fortress wall built here, isn’t there!”
Just when had these fortress walls, which were as tall as the trees of the forest, been built in this mountainous region? What about the materials? And how had nobody noticed the flat ground that supported the fortress walls?
There were endless questions that could be asked, but Mardock understood the reality that enemy forces had built a fortress inside the Scylla territory.
“Retreat, retreat, quickly!” he ordered his trembling subordinates.
Mardock had thought that if the female Majin’s hideout was a small one, he would be able to exterminate everyone inside, but even though the extermination force that he led was made of elite individuals, it was not a wise idea to attack the fortress and grounds protected by walls of this size.
He wasn’t foolish enough to have convenient delusions that only the walls were sturdy and there would be no proper soldiers defending them.
He would return to the fort, report this to his superiors in the army and gather information carefully. Attacking would come after that.
However, there was something that Mardock and his companions hadn’t realized. They had already been discovered by the fortress walls and the trees standing around them.
Knochen roared and Eisen creaked as they attacked, as if refusing to let Mardock and his men get away.
The Immortal Ents that had appeared to be normal trees up until now began moving, and the fortress wall burst into pieces, the scattered bones turning into countless Skeletons.
“The fortress walls turned into Skeletons?! And there are tree monsters around us?! When did this place turn into a Devil’s Nest?!”
“They’re just Skeletons; no matter how many of them – GAH?!”
Receiving direct hits from the poison breath that Knochen released along with its roars, these supposedly elite men began coughing violently, clutching their chests. And then Bone Animals, which were Skeletons of four-legged beasts, flooded in to pin them down.
The men were being treated so roughly that it seemed the Undead didn’t care as long as they didn’t die.
“Retreat! Retreat! Get the captain free!”
The members of the unit immediately tried to help Mardock escape, but Mardock gave other orders. “You moron! Don’t worry about me! Everyone but the rear guard, spread out and run! At least deliver the information! This is an order!” He drew his sword and joined his subordinates that were fighting as part of the rear guard.
Mardock and his extermination force had already been swallowed whole by the huge flood of fast, poison-breathing Skeletons. If he didn’t make sacrifices and allow his subordinates to escape, they would be wiped out without managing to bring any information back to the army.
Having received this order, his subordinates at the back that were still alive began running. However, they came back less than five seconds later.
They had been sent flying back, their limbs and torsos twisting in directions they weren’t supposed to.
“They’d already gone around us!” Mardock groaned in regret as he turned around to see his subordinates convulsing on the ground.
“That is correct,” said a voice.
The owner of this voice was Bellmond, who had calmly flown around behind the extermination force.
“Good grief,” she sighed. “My metal threads would sever your limbs, so I tried to capture you alive using the tail that I have been given. Perhaps because Danna-sama is too skilled, or perhaps because you are all too frail, this is not going very well. And it is difficult to use the Petrifying Demon Eye on targets that are moving around restlessly.”
“W-what did you say?! You filthy Beast-person!” One of the unit’s members charged at Bellmond in rage.
“Don’t!” Mardock shouted, but it was too late.
Bellmond’s tail appeared to vanish, and in the next instant, Mardock’s subordinate made a sound that no human body should make as he was sent flying.
From the glimpse of his body that Mardock caught, he could imagine that he had been killed instantaneously from his organs rupturing and his bones crumbling to pieces.
“I am sincerely sorry,” said Bellmond. “It is all due to my shortcomings that I have failed to capture everyone alive. I apologize for causing you discomfort.” And then she gave Mardock a deep bow.
“You monster!” Mardock ignored Bellmond’s apology, struck down a Skeleton that tried to grab him and then looked around to see if there was any way of escaping the circle of Undead.
“Be careful! There’s one Skeleton that’s way stronger than the others!” one of Mardock’s subordinates shouted in warning.
“Be careful of the Skeleton with the armor and the shield!” said another.
“Jyuuh, it seems that I am hidden when I cooperate with Knochen,” said Bone Man.
Mardock’s subordinates were doing well in keeping the Skeletons back, but Bone Man was among them, cutting down Mardock’s men down one after another with martial skills.
The Undead Hydra that had been reported, Yamata, sang as she strangled Mardock’s subordinates to death with her long necks.
“Holding… back… Punch!” the female Majin groaned as she crushed the men’s skulls.
“Everyone, do you know what ‘capturing alive’ and ‘holding back’ mean?” Saria asked.
“It can’t be helped, Nee-san,” said Rita. “It’s been a long time since we’ve fought humans.”
These two, who had relatively normal appearances compared to the others, used their enormous halberd and glaive to slice straight through the shields of the men using Iron Wall and into their bodies.
“GUAAAAAAH! MY AAAAARMS!”
“HYIIIH, MY LEGS, MY LEEEEEGS!”
Mardock’s subordinates were alive, but they were on the ground screaming, having lost at least two limbs each. In a way, this was crueler than being killed instantly.
“These things… could it be that they really do intend to capture us alive?!” Mardock exclaimed.
Things hadn’t come to a conclusion yet, but even Mardock had noticed that the words “capture alive” had been spoken numerous times. However, he and his men felt no desire to surrender. Given the horrific scene before their eyes, they found it impossible to imagine that they would be treated decently at all. In fact, it seemed more likely that the monsters would change their minds after capturing them and just kill them anyway.
Perhaps it was best to commit suicide? This thought occurred to Mardock as well, but miraculously, he found a place where the Undead encirclement was thinner.
“Super Instant Response! Get out of my way!”
Using Surpass Limits and an Armor Technique martial skill, Mardock ran through the gaps between the Skeletons and slashed at the creaking Plant-type monsters in his way.
He used a Swordsmanship skill, and though his mind couldn’t fully endure this and his head began hurting, he ignored the pain as his sword buried itself deep into Eisen’s trunk.
As Eisen’s red sap sprayed into the air, Mardock’s lips twisted in a smile at having been able to strike back. Knowing that he had to keep running through, he tried to escape without stopping his feet.
With more creaking noises, Eisen’s trunk, which had been cut by Mardock’s slashing attack, split as if bursting. A sap-covered arm stretched out from within the trunk and sank into Mardock’s side.
Mardock failed to withstand this attack and rolled across the ground with several of his ribs broken. He raised his face to see a woman crawling out from within the trunk that he had split open.
A woman with green skin, branches growing from her back and, for some reason, a cow’s tail.
“W-what is this? What the hell are you things?!” Mardock screamed, still lying on the ground. It seemed that he had reached the limit of what his mind could endure.
The woman that had emerged from within Eisen plucked one of the fruits that was growing on the branches on her back.
“E… eat…” she groaned.
And then the fruit, which was harder than iron, came crashing down onto Mardock.
“It has become quiet, now, hasn’t it?” Sam remarked. “I suppose everyone will return soon.”
“Fear not, there is nothing to worry about. Even if the enemy are elite individuals, there is no chance that we will be defeated by a single unit of them. More importantly, would you like some more tea?”
“Please! Please allow us to drink it!”
“Like I said, there is nothing to worry about, is there?” Sam laughed. “Such worrisome people you are.”
While all of this was going on, Haj and his companions were sitting inside Knochen’s bone mansion, listening to the sounds of battle and screams of agony coming from outside. And they were cowering before Sam, whose eyes were completely crimson including what should have been the whites of his eyes, as he calmly offered them tea.
Haj and his companions simply would not calm themselves. It would be some time before the troubled Sam realized that his efforts were in vain.
A Title that is bestowed by an evil god of tentacles such as Merrebeveil, the Evil God of Slime and Tentacles. It can also be acquired by those with tentacles who have been acknowledged as worthy of being a king (or queen), and those who are served by many races of people or monsters that possess tentacles.
Historically, this Title has mostly been possessed by those who possessed tentacles themselves. The known exceptions are a legendary tamer who tamed a Kraken, and the first king of the Sauron Kingdom.
It has the specific effect of providing an ability to display charismatic qualities to races of monsters and people who possess tentacles. It allows such races to become followers (requires the Strengthen Followers skill). It also strengthens the Title holder’s tentacles, and enhances skill bonuses and effects when they are used.
Incidentally, the world that the Demon King Guduranis had originally come from was a world where intelligent life-forms with tentacles thrived. Because of this, there had been numerous gods of tentacles.