“GUAAAAH! Impossible, how can you cast elemental magic while using the Demon King’s fragments?!” Gubamon shouted.
The Demon King’s carapace had been shattered by being exposed to extreme cold and extreme heat, and all of the bones and organs of his body had been broken by the Dead Spirit Magic spell, Death Ice Bullet, that contained an amount of Mana that he had only seen a handful of times in his hundred-thousand-year-long life. In the next moment, he was sent flying in a random direction, where he crashed into a pillar and stopped.
He lost consciousness for a moment, and his use of the Demon King’s carapace was interrupted. It was impossible for him to activate it again with his remaining Mana.
He felt like one of his eyes that had been in the middle of regenerating was now damaged as badly as the rest of his body. He didn’t have an accurate sense of what kind of state he was in, and though it was far too late for this, he felt a sense of danger.
N-now that things have come to this, I have no choice but to escape!
With his composure coming back with the warnings of his survival instincts, Gubamon decided to retreat and began reciting an incantation for a space-attribute spell. Fortunately, his use of the Demon King’s carapace had already been cancelled, allowing him to cast spells.
However, this did not go as planned.
Due to the nature of space-attribute magic, it was completely impossible to cast if the caster didn’t possess an accurate perception of the target space.
When teleporting in particular, the caster needed not only a precise perception of the place he wanted to teleport to, but also of the space that he currently existed in. However, with only one remaining eye that was still only partially regenerated, that was impossible for Gubamon.
I-I must somehow buy enough time for my vision to return! As long as my vision returns, I will be able to escape!
“H-how impressive, to corner me to this extent. What do you say to joining me? No, how about accepting me among your subordinates? I shall give you all the information I have on Birkyne, and I will be able to lure him out of hiding. With your abilities and my power, it will be simple to bury him,” said Gubamon, offering sweet-sounding, persuasive words to Vandalieu, who was likely preparing to deal the final blow right this moment.
It didn’t matter whether Vandalieu accepted the offer or responded with anger. Gubamon just needed to buy as much time as possible.
But no response came.
This made Gubamon’s uneasiness grow rapidly. The fear of a lethal attack that could be coming at any moment made him lose his presence of mind.
“Wait, wait! Do you not wish to bring your parents back?! I shall lend you my power; I have been bestowed the divine protection of Hihiryushukaka! There must be a way!” Gubamon shouted. Unable to remain composed, his speech grew faster and higher-pitched the more he spoke. “And I am a master of space-attribute magic; if I join the ranks of your subordinates, you will be able to go anywhere in the Bahn Gaia continent, anywhere you wish, in an instant! What do you say – HYIH!”
Suddenly noticing a silhouette flying towards him from the corner of his still-blurry vision, he reflexively cast the no-attribute spell, Mana Bullet, towards it.
The amount of Mana he had put in it was small compared to the amount in Vandalieu’s Dead Spirit Magic spell that he had been hit by moments earlier, but it still contained more than enough power, and it hit the silhouette directly. The silhouette broke and scattered with a disgusting noise that sounded as if a fluid-filled sack had been crushed.
“Ah… Have… have I done it?!”
Gubamon thought that he had possibly killed Vandalieu, but in the next instant, something invaded him, turning his spine cold.
“So, you can still use magic. I’m glad I checked just in case. But it seems that you can’t use space-attribute magic.”
The thing that had invaded Gubamon was Vandalieu, who had divided himself and used Spirit Form Transformation.
“Y-you bastard! Then, just now…!”
“That was the Demon King’s ink sac. I made the ink’s color red and mixed blood with it to make it look like a severe wound and made it gush out,” the spirit-form Vandalieu explained as he forcibly fused with Gubamon’s body.
But that was an irrelevant detail to Gubamon now.
“I normally wouldn’t be able to fuse with someone against their will, but it seems that it’s possible even with a Pure-breed Vampire as long as your body and mind have been sufficiently weakened,” said Vandalieu.
Gubamon screamed at the sensation of losing control over his body and senses with each passing second.
“Hihiryushukaka-sama! Save me, please save me! Please send me your Familiar Spirit!”
Gubamon seemed to be trying to forcibly overcome this situation with Familiar Spirit Descent; a rather thin pillar of light descended on him from overhead. But the physical Vandalieu was already prepared for this. A projectile made of the Demon King’s horns was fired from the cannon barrel made of the Demon King’s coagulated blood, shattering the pillar of light to pieces.
“I get the feeling that it was much weaker than the Familiar Spirit of Luvesfol that I shot before… Has Hihiryushukaka been investigating me?” the physical Vandalieu whispered to himself.
Gubamon didn’t have the time to pay attention to Vandalieu’s words; he panicked at the fact that the Familiar Spirit Descent had been broken and begged Hihiryushukaka for more help.
“O great Evil God of Joyful Life! Hihiryushukaka! Please send me a Familiar Spirit, a more powerful Familiar Spirit!”
But Hihiryushukaka did not answer Gubamon’s prayers a second time.
“I-impossible! You would discard me here?! The one who has served you for a hundred thousand years?!”
“It seems that you’ve been abandoned,” said the spirit-form Vandalieu. “Even though you’ve served him for a hundred thousand years.”
Gubamon let out a scream. He could understand the intent in Vandalieu’s voice now that the fusion… or rather, encroachment, was complete.
Vandalieu was delighted.
“Gubamon, it’s very enjoyable to take things from you, whether they’re physical or not,” Vandalieu continued. “You have taken my parents from me and companions from Borkus and the others, and now I will take everything from you. I accidentally let my guard down, but this is a sweet pleasure. Your subordinates, your targets, your collection, your fragment of the Demon King. There are three more things left that I will take.”
What more are you planning to take from me?! Gubamon wanted to scream, but his mouth would not move.
“And now I’ve acquired your body. There are two things left.”
Before Vandalieu even finished this sentence, the scenery changed. Vandalieu had manipulated Gubamon’s body to cast space-attribute magic, teleporting into the Sauron region.
Gubamon was surrounded by more spirit-form clones of Vandalieu that were approaching him without hesitation. Gubamon fearfully wondered what they were going to do, and in the next moment, they began attacking him mercilessly, even hitting the clone inside him.
Black Flame Spear, Death Water Slice, Dark Lightning. Vandalieu used Dead Spirit Magic spells, including the water-attribute and lightning-attribute ones that he had only recently become able to cast, to turn Gubamon into dust.
“And now there is only one thing left.”
There should already be nothing left. Now there is nothing left for me but to regret my own actions and swear loyalty to this wonderful person, thought Gubamon, who had died and turned into a spirit, and was now under the influence of the Demon Path Enticement skill. But as if firmly denying Gubamon’s desire, Vandalieu reached out with his hand, claws extended, to grasp Gubamon’s soul.
“And now there isn’t anything else left.”
Vandalieu wanted to break Gubamon’s soul right this instant, but he still wanted to learn various things from him such as information on Birkyne and what kind of treatments he had applied to the Undead, so that would have to come later.
He exhaled heavily as he returned to being a single body.
“Well done, Your Majesty,” said Princess Levia.
“It was the highest of honors to be of use to you,” said Kimberley, the former scout of the resistance extermination force.
“Danna-sama, if you are fatigued…” Bellmond loosened her tie and kneeled with her white neck exposed.
Blood Potions contained Vandalieu’s own blood, so they weren’t very effective on him. Bellmond indicated for him to suck her blood.
“I used a lot of Mana and only have about a tenth of it left, so I’ll gratefully accept, but your wrist will do, you know?” Vandalieu pointed out.
“I cannot allow you to do such a thing, Danna-sama. Ever,” Bellmond said firmly.
It seemed that drinking blood from the neck was a rule for Vampires. Perhaps it was something like table manners?
“But when Eleanora drinks my blood, she only drinks a little from my fingertip,” said Vandalieu.
For some reason, Bellmond turned her gaze away, her cheeks flushed. “How shameless,” she blurted out quietly.
Was sucking blood from the finger a shameless thing to do?
Vandalieu decided that he would ask Eleanora why she had sucked blood from his fingertip once he returned. Things might end badly if it signified something significant like an engagement and he didn’t know about it.
“Well then, just a little,” said Vandalieu.
Recovering from the battle came first. He didn’t much feel like trying to wring blood out of Gubamon’s remains, so he lightly pierced Bellmond’s skin with his fangs and licked the blood that seeped out of the wound.
“Kuh, ah, this is… teasing…” Bellmond whispered.
Vandalieu didn’t recall doing anything to tease her, however.
“Bellmond-san is making a face that cannot be shown to Pauvina-chan or Privel-san yet!” Princess Levia exclaimed.
Kimberley let out a wolf whistle. “It’s so lewd that I can tell even after I’ve died – GYOH?!”
The Thunder Ghost took a direct hit from Princess Levia’s large fist and rolled across the ground. It seemed that Ghosts could punch… or rather, touch each other.
Still, does it actually feel good to have someone drink your blood? I didn’t really feel anything.
Vandalieu was very doubtful, but even small amounts of the blood of Bellmond, who was a high-Rank Vampire and even possessed the unique skill, Offering, restored Vandalieu’s Stamina and Mana remarkably.
Vandalieu could understand why Ternecia had kept her.
“Danna-sama, more…” Bellmond had her tail wrapped around Vandalieu and was behaving like a spoiled child, even though he had already removed his mouth from her neck.
“No, I’ve had enough, and we’re outside. We still have work to do,” said Vandalieu, trying to get her to come to her senses.
He spotted Miles and the other Vampires watching him and Bellmond with fear in their eyes. It was very late for this, but perhaps he really should ask what sucking blood signified for Vampires.
Suddenly, an unfamiliar female person, whose age was somewhere between a girl and a woman, called out to Vandalieu.
“Vandalieu-dono, was it?”
Vandalieu froze for a moment as he struggled to remember who she was, and then realized that it was the one who had been captured by Gubamon.
He had captured her alive, so she was probably some heroic person from somewhere.
“My name is Iris Bearheart,” she said. “I want to thank you. Not only did you rescue me from danger, you stopped my father as well.”
“Father? Huh. I only did what I did to achieve my own goals, so please don’t worry about it. I’m just glad you’re safe,” Vandalieu said humbly.
He didn’t know anything about Iris, but he guessed that her father had been among the Undead heroes.
He felt slightly disappointed, wondering if it would have been best to leave behind the Undead that was apparently her father.
“… I am hesitant to ask these questions after you saved my life, but I want you to answer,” said Iris. “You have Vampires under your command; just who are you? And what did you do to Raymond-dono?”
Now aware that Iris and Raymond apparently knew each other, Bellmond used the tail that was still wrapped around Vandalieu to try and separate him from Iris.
“I’m a half-Vampire called Vandalieu. After I captured Raymond alive, I remodeled his body while he was still alive and used him to kill Gubamon, and then killed him. He was a necessary sacrifice,” said Vandalieu, answering Iris’s questions before he had even been separated from her properly, answering the second question with a particularly large amount of detail.
“Is that… true?” Surprised, Iris took a step backwards in response to Vandalieu’s answer that seemed inhuman towards Raymond. “Even if it was to defeat a Pure-breed Vampire, that is –”
“Mmm… MMMPH!” Rick, who had been staring into space while still tied up and gagged, suddenly got up and ran towards Vandalieu, as if to ram his body into him.
But Rick’s reckless charge was stopped before Bellmond or Princess Levia could do anything.
“What are you so angry for?” Orbia asked.
She had made herself visible, materialized herself and seized Rick with her tentacles.
Perhaps he hadn’t noticed her up until now because of the shock of having seen Raymond’s gruesome body, but his handsome face twisted in horror now as he looked at Orbia, who was now a Ghost.
“Ah, you can’t answer like this, can you?” Orbia removed Rick’s mouth gag.
For a few moments, Rick stared blankly at the smiling Orbia, whose face was a different color now. And then anger appeared on his face again as he shouted at Vandalieu in rage.
“You bastard! You bastards killed Ani-ue! Ani-ue was the hope of the Sauron Duchy! Ani-ue would have taken the Sauron Duchy back from the Empire, become the king one day and lead this country to become better and more powerful! Ani-ue did everything he could and fought for the people more than the other members of his family who fled! You’re calling him a necessary sacrifice?! How dare you say that!”
Vandalieu remained expressionless and said nothing.
And the smile on Orbia’s face slowly grew wider and wider as she watched the disgraceful behavior of the man she had once loved.
“Why did you kill Ani-ue?!” Rick continued. “Did you feel sympathy for this woman?! The Scylla have no loyalty for their own nation! Even as their motherland was endangered, even after it was invaded and taken, they made no attempt to fight! Despite being citizens of the Orbaume Kingdom, no matter how much the Sauron Duchy’s soldiers and citizens bled, they kept their eyes shut! Yet when the blood of a few members of their own race was spilled, they made an uproar! How can you sympathize with them?! Why won’t you realize that the fault lies with them for not moving before we had to dirty our hands?!”
Rick's body couldn’t move because he was trapped by the cold, liquid tentacles, but his mouth had moved instead as he spat out all of the rage and hatred in his heart. His shoulders heaved up and down with his wild breathing once he was finished.
But he trembled slightly and his breathing grew shallower as he heard Orbia laugh.
The Orbia that Rick was looking at was laughing truly happily, so happily that it could even be called cheerful laughter.
“W-what, why are you laughing…”
“It’s really you after all, Rick,” said Orbia. “You’re the Rick I know. No matter what I ask, you only ever talked about your onii-san in the end. I thought you might change after you saw your Onii-san being broken right in front of your eyes, but you haven’t changed after all.”
“What?! You –”
“No, it was Vandalieu-kun,” Orbia continued. “Even though I don’t have any blood anymore, all the blood rushed to my head and I couldn’t think of anything but killing him on the spot. So, you know, we don’t love you anymore, Rick.”
“We?!” Rick gasped as Scylla faded into appearance around him, one after another.
They, like Orbia, were victims whom Rick had tricked, killed with the poisoned ring and had their corpses put on display.
“I’ve always been watching you closely…”
“How dare you…!”
With Vandalieu giving them Mana, they had gone from being mere spirits to Ghosts.
“None of us want to see your face anymore; we don’t need you. So… bye-bye, forever,” said Orbia in farewell, but contrary to her words, she wrapped her arms around him and held him closer.
“S-stop, let me go! I will avenge Ani-ue…?!”
Rick was engulfed and trapped inside Orbia, who was a Water Ghost. With bubbles coming out of his mouth, he thrashed his arms and legs around to try and escape from inside her, but the other Scylla Ghosts used the Materialization skill and kept him trapped.
Being killed by the spirits of the women he had rejected. Of all the fates that he could have met, this was probably one of the better ones.
“W-women’s grudges are scary,” whispered Miles. He had been watching with a horrified expression on his face, far away from Rick so that he wouldn’t get involved.
Iris almost nodded in agreement before returning to her senses and hastily shouting at Orbia to stop. “Wait! Please listen to what I have to say!”
“Eh?” Vandalieu was surprised as he heard Iris’s voice; he had completely forgotten that she existed.
The Thunder Ghost who was once a scout of the resistance extermination force whispered into Vandalieu’s ear. “This woman is probably the Liberating Princess Knight of the Sauron Liberation Front.
“I see, so you’re an important member of the resistance,” said Vandalieu. “I’ll listen to anything you have to say except for sparing Rick’s life.”
As expected, Iris gave a groan, as if she was lost for words. But it seemed that she wasn’t actually lost for words; she quickly began speaking.
“It’s true that he and his men did something unforgivable to the Scylla,” she said. “But his power, the power of the Reborn Sauron Duchy Army, is necessary to take the Sauron Duchy back. Although it is frustrating to admit, we can’t do it alone. I will make him repent for his sins, so please stop them!”
“I’m really sorry, but no,” said Vandalieu. “Ah, by the way, is there anywhere you’d like us to send you?”
“Danna-sama, before that, I believe she will need something to wear,” said Bellmond.
“Now that you mention it, that’s true. It completely slipped my mind,” said Vandalieu. He turned to Iris. “I’ll knit you something now. Do you have any requests for the color or design?”
Thinking that it would be morally problematic to abandon a half-naked woman, he produced threads with his mouth and began knitting.
“No, wait! I told you, listen to what I have to say!” Iris approached Vandalieu, looking like she wanted to say more.
Vandalieu stopped his knitting and directed his hollow gaze at her. Perhaps sensing something in that emotionless gaze, or perhaps realizing that Bellmond’s Petrifying Demon Eye was pointed at her, ready to attack at any time, Iris stopped her feet.
The emotion that Vandalieu felt towards Iris was, for once, the same as those of his eyes. He was tired of this. This word was sufficient to describe how he felt.
But even if it’s tiresome, maybe it’s best that I explain things, Vandalieu thought as he started speaking.
“I don’t think it’s wrong to claim that Raymond and Rick’s actions were for the purpose of retaking the Sauron Duchy,” he said. “I know that the world doesn’t move on pretty words and wishful thinking alone, and I know that it’s necessary to accept both good and evil in order to protect your nation. The Amid Empire occupying the Sauron Duchy isn’t a situation that I would wish for, either.”
As Iris said, if Rick was used to gather the survivors of the Reborn Sauron Duchy army, they might have the power to one day overcome the Empire’s army.
Furthermore, the now-deceased Raymond could have gone on to become a fine duke, develop the Sauron Duchy and rule the people better, just as Rick said.
Vandalieu understood this.
“Then –!” Iris began.
“But this is no reason to kill Orbia and the others, or force disadvantages upon the Scylla race. That is where you people of the resistance are mistaken,” Vandalieu continued.
Vandalieu understood everything, but his response to all of that was, “So what?”
This was the uncomfortable feeling that Vandalieu felt whenever he talked with members of the resistance. They prioritized the great number of civilians in the Sauron Duchy over the Scylla race, but it was only natural for him to prioritize the Scylla like Orbia, Privel and Periveil over people he had never met, whose faces and names he didn’t know.
And it was troubling to only discuss the possibilities of the future. The problem at hand was the crimes that had been committed in the past.
“And you say that you’ll make him repent for his sins, but it seems to me that if the Sauron Duchy is retaken, you’ll use that achievement as an excuse to spare his life,” Vandalieu added. “For you people, saving everyone in the Sauron Duchy other than the Scylla will be a ‘benevolent act’ that can cancel out the crime of tricking Orbia and the others, killing them and putting their bodies on a gory display, won’t it?”
Did I say too much? Vandalieu wondered as he looked at Iris’s face, which was now pale. But it seemed that she hadn’t given up yet.
“W-we are not ignoring the Scylla race,” Iris said.
“Then if the Sauron Duchy was to be retaken, how would the Scylla be treated afterwards?” Vandalieu asked. “I would think that it’s only natural to let the Scylla move in and out of their own territory freely and set up branches of every Guild for them, if not giving the chief of each village a court rank.”
“That is… I can only say that we will do our best.” This was the only answer that Iris could give.
She was nothing more than a resistance leader, born to a family of knights. Even if her efforts were acknowledged, she could never become duchess. Whatever she said now would only be empty promises.
And Iris knew that important noblemen had a strong tendency to hate members of races like Scylla, who had superior physical ability, Mana and lifespans compared to humans, being involved in the world of political and military affairs.
That was why the Scylla had been trapped in their own territory and why it had been ensured that no Guilds established branches for them.
“And as for reasons to kill Rick… I don’t need to explain them, do I? I have the agreement of one of the chiefs, Periveil-san, on this,” said Vandalieu.
In fact, the motive behind tricking and killing Orbia and the others had been to use the entire Scylla territory as their fort and utilize the Scylla as their soldiers, so it was actually harder to find a reason to not kill Rick.
Nobody, let alone Periveil or Privel, defended Raymond and Rick.
“A chief of the Scylla race… I see. Then I won’t say anymore.” Iris seemed to have given up on pleading for Rick’s life. “But for a short while, can you make it seem as if Raymond and Rick died honorable deaths in battle?” she asked.
Raymond, an illegitimate child of Duke Sauron, and his younger brother Rick, had been pillars of the resistance movement. The truth behind their deaths would cause a huge scandal. The morale of the entire resistance was at stake, so Iris seemed to want to prevent this scandal from happening.
“We don’t really mind that,” said Orbia. She and the other Water Ghosts had thrown Rick onto the ground like a piece of trash after he stopped showing any signs of life.
It seemed that they didn’t have any interest in anything related to Rick.
Vandalieu was slightly unhappy with this, but Orbia and the other Water Ghosts were the victims. If they didn’t mind, then it was probably fine, so he gave Iris a nod.
“So, more importantly, Vandalieu-kun, I want to talk about the future of us Scylla, who think of you as someone who is reeeeeeaaaaally precious to us,” said Orbia. “I heard from Levia that you’re a real king! That’s amazing, huh? So… apparently, you have some nice marshlands?”
“I do, but about half of it is land for the Lizardmen,” said Vandalieu.
“But you still have the other half, right?” said Orbia. “So, the chiefs have been discussing things and preparing to search for a place that we can migrate to, you know?”
“K-king?” Iris said in surprise. “What are you talking about… No, you possess the fragments of the legendary Demon King, the power to kill a Pure-breed Vampire and the ability to rule Undead and Vampires… Really, who are you? Could it be, you’re the Demon –”
“Iris-dono, there is something that we must discuss as well,” said Bellmond. “Mainly things to do with confidentiality, and our relationship going forward.”
“It will be quite a long discussion, so shall I make some tea?” said Princess Levia. “Ah, but before that, you will need something to wear, won’t you?”
“It can’t be helped,” said Miles. “Just wear my cloak until Vandalieu-sama returns.”
The bizarre Scylla serial-killing case had been resolved and the mad Pure-breed Vampire Gubamon had been defeated. The only remaining problems were the future of the Scylla, Vandalieu’s future relationship with the Sauron Liberation Front, Mardock and the surviving members of the extermination force, and Chezare’s younger brother Kurt who was still in the fort near the Scylla territory.
Incidentally, Alda, who watched the records of the battle between Vandalieu and Gubamon through Iris, was astonished by the ‘monstrosity’ that was growing in a far more twisted direction than he had expected.
『You have acquired the Demon King’s carapace!』
『The levels of the Rapid Healing, Death-Attribute Magic, Status Effect Resistance, Magic Resistance, Demon Path Enticement, Guidance: Demon Path, Strengthened Attack Power while Unarmed, Mana Enlargement, No-Attribute Magic, Mana Control, Spirit Form, Multi-Cast, Parallel Thought Processing, High-speed Thought Processing, Plant Binding Technique, Insect Binding Technique, Artillery Technique, Demon King Fusion and Abyss skills have increased!』
A peculiar Job among the Guider-type Jobs that are thought to be conditions for becoming champions. It is a Job that can be acquired by one who willingly walks on a path that is neither the path of righteousness nor the path of evil.
However, as a Guider-type Job, it has a problem. Guider-type Jobs greatly increase the Attribute Values of those who possess them, but their true nature is to influence and raise up those other than the Job owner.
However, many fear and avoid the guidance to the demon path. Thus, it is difficult for those with this Job to manifest its proper power.
Because Vandalieu has already attracted many to his side with skills such as Death-Attribute Charm, he has overcome this obstacle.