The ‘Degenerate’ Luciliano, a former C-class adventurer, is currently a life-attribute mage who conducts research on Undead.
But now, he is not known for his past, but for being the personal apprentice of Vandalieu, the king of Talosheim who possesses numerous ‘king’ Titles.
This story is a reorganization of the reports, research documents, dissertations and diaries that Luciliano has left.
Of course, ‘mage’ is a Job, but mages are also creatures that study diligently through reading references, training and conducting research and experiments, and then recording and consolidating the results of their research. I, Luciliano, who was essentially excommunicated from the Mages’ Guild that I was studying at, am no exception.
There are some adventurers and mercenaries who have acquired skills at level 1 or 2 in order to use simple spells that could produce drinking water and light fires, as well as beginner-level offensive spells to fight against monsters that are resistant to physical attacks. However, these are generally not considered to be mages.
They are merely those who can use magic. They are those whom those of the Mages’ Guild would ridicule as “magic-users.”
Being a mage myself, I believe the important thing is tools for writing. I have previously struggled in this area. Paper is generally expensive. But with that said, it isn’t a precious metal, either. What I mean is that it is not affordable enough to freely use as much as I would like on a daily basis.
And relatively inexpensive paper also exists in addition to the high-grade paper that nobles and royalty use for their letters and notes and the paper that is used for documents that must be preserved over long periods of time.
I use this inexpensive paper, enduring its unpleasant texture and how difficult it is to write on. Cheap paper is truly a third-rate product. It is not pleasant to use, and it does not preserve well. And in the end, it is still not affordable enough for large quantities of it to be used.
It is also common to use dried tree bark and leaves as a replacement for paper. The copied request forms posted on the request boards of the Adventurers’ Guild and such are mostly done with these. It seems that there were some Guild branches that used real paper for this in the past, but many uncivilized adventurers tend to tear the request forms off the boards. The large costs of reprinting these forms is what led to the use of a cheaper replacement today.
And while that cheaper replacement may work for writing memos, it cannot be preserved and thus is not suited for recording the methods and results of experiments, so I do not use it very often.
As an adventurer, the cost of paper was a headache-inducing problem.
Compared to that, the nation of Talosheim that Master rules over is like heaven.
That apparently wasn’t the case before I came to the nation, but now, straw paper is mass-produced. Mass-production is a wonderful thing, is it not? Though its quality is not quite as good as high-grade paper, I am able to obtain paper that is more than good enough for writing on, for a cheap price.
Since Master has acknowledged my research as a national project, I can obtain this paper as part of my research expenses.
Last year, there was a Golem factory that created high-quality paper, and even printing press Golems. The literacy rate of the citizens is increasing. In the future, Talosheim’s production and demand will likely rival or surpass those of other large cities.
With that said, I am not a researcher of paper. I am a mage who researches the Undead.
So first, I will describe the Golems that Master has created.
All of the Golems created by my master, Vandalieu, are Undead.
Normal Golems are created by Alchemists who grant life to human-shaped materials using methods such as life-attribute magic. However, the Golems created by Master consist of inorganic materials with spirits haunting them to cause them to move.
They are similar to Cursed weapons and Living Armors, which are Undead consisting of weapons or suits of armor that are haunted by evil spirits.
This is why Master’s Golems are weak to anti-Undead light-attribute magic spells, but… there would be none who would see that they have such a weakness upon seeing them for the first time.
Nevertheless, they are a source of endless interest.
But it seems that Master does not hold much interest in them.
“Are Golems really that interesting?” he asked.
It is likely that he sees them as things that he can move like his own arms and legs rather than as things that ought to be researched.
“Of course,” I replied. “If it is possible, I would like to interview the spirits that you use to move the Golems. Would you cooperate with this?”
Recently, Master’s Golems have been evolving on their own; some of them have gained the Absorption skill to absorb external materials of the same kind that their bodies are made of in order to repair damage that causes their body volumes to decrease.
Though the fibrous Golems in the paper factory reduce their own bodies to produce paper, it seems that more materials can simply be poured onto the Golems to return them to normal.
This is extraordinarily convenient, but what the spirits responsible are thinking and what kind of states they are in are questions of immense interest.
I asked Master to cooperate with me so that I can interview them in order to answer these questions, but Master told me, “I don’t think you should have too much hope in the results.”
And unfortunately, just as Master said, there were almost no results to speak of.
It seems that the spirits that inhabit Golems are heavily influenced by the inorganic materials that make up their bodies; their personalities from while they were alive are lost or altered within a short period of time. Perhaps I should have expected this, as becoming a paper-making machine or a printing press would be unbearable if they still possessed consciousness as people.
In the end, I was able to conduct the interviews with Master acting as an interpreter, but I shall record that there weren’t any meaningful answers.
Recently, Master has acquired the Zombie Maker Job. Someone who makes Zombies… how wonderful.
I am also capable of creating Zombies with life-attribute magic, but it is likely that this Job must be acquired by creating Zombies through death-attribute magic.
In fact, the Zombies created through the methods that I have used so far cannot even compare to the Zombies created by Master in terms of performance. The Zombies are not so different when they are first created, but there is a large difference between their future potentials.
Leaving that aside, Master, after acquiring this wonderful Job, sat in the corner of the room, holding his knees.
“Have you acquired an inconvenient skill, perhaps?” I asked.
Even in the past, there are records of people who have acquired previously-undiscovered Jobs, only to acquire undesirable skills. Even though one can select their Job, they cannot select the skills that they acquire.
Dangerous Jobs often have unusual names, so if such Jobs are avoided, fatal situations do not usually arise. However, it seems that almost all of the Jobs that Master can acquire are dangerous, so there is no way to avoid them.
As I thought, it seemed that there was indeed something inconveniencing him.
Master raised his face with a more sluggish movement than usual and spoke in a grave tone. “I didn’t acquire a skill, but… if I let my guard down, I unconsciously turn corpses around me into Zombies,” he said.
“Hoh! What a wonderful yet fearsome thing that is, Master!” I exclaimed.
A mage who inadvertently turns the corpses around him into Zombies. If such a person were to be present on a battlefield… No, Master has always been capable of such things.
“In other words, you can create Zombies without casting any spells, and the Mana expended to do so is small?” I asked.
It seems that this summarized the extent of the changes; Master gave a nod.
Automatically creating Zombies without casting spells has a large effect.
But why in the world would this ever be a problem?
“I have to wonder why you are feeling sad about this, Master. It is true that you would be troubled as to what to do with the Zombies that rise if you were planning to travel across old battlefields, but are we not currently in the royal castle of our own nation? There should not be many corpses around,” I said.
There are many Undead in Talosheim, but there are no corpses that are not Undead. There is good public order and the nation has no problems with food, so there are far fewer unexpected deaths than other cities.
Even those with serious illnesses are quickly cured by Master, and Potions are provided to those who are severely wounded.
Thus, I believe there is nothing for Master to feel sad about.
“That’s true, but food ingredients and tanned hides and furs turn into Zombies as well, so I have become unable to go near the kitchen and the workshop where Tarea and the others work until I can control it,” Master said.
“… So those are considered corpses as well.”
It is true that food ingredients and hides are parts of corpses.
Even if the food ingredients become Zombies, it is not as if they begin decomposing immediately. But while that is true, it would certainly be unpleasant to have the ingredients squirming during the cooking process.
And it would be dangerous if the materials used to create weapons and armor were to thrash around while they are being processed.
“If this Job doesn’t help with making adjustments to Zandia and Jeena that I stole back from Gubamon, the point of me taking this Job was…” Master muttered.
“Well, will it not be useful in the future?” I suggested.
In situations where there is a sudden need to create a large Zombie army, for instance. I believe it is certainly possible for such situations to arise in Master’s case.
The knowledge that I am able to acquire at Master’s side is precious. Among that knowledge, the second most precious knowledge is that of foreign worlds.
“I don’t know if this knowledge is correct in this world, though,” Master said as a preface before speaking of other worlds’ knowledge of living organisms.
To me, this knowledge was far more precious than gold or jewels. It seems that this was also useful for Master; by talking to a life-attribute mage who has dissected numerous corpses, he was able to confirm the differences between the other worlds and this one.
Of course, as the advanced examining equipment that Master speaks of does not exist, there are also many things that we cannot confirm.
“In summary, it seems that the overall body compositions of humans, Elves, Dwarves, Ghouls, Titans and Beast-people are not very different from that of the humans of ‘Earth’ and ‘Origin,’” I concluded.
Things such as the ears, eyes, nerves and the presence of venom glands are different, but the skeletons, the number of organs and their locations in the body, and the arrangement of muscles is largely the same. It is likely that Dark Elves are mostly the same as well.
The body compositions of heterogeneous races such as Drakonids and Scylla have many differences, but the humans that were the first to be created in this world, as well as the Elf and Dwarf races that followed, have almost identical structures to the humans of other worlds. This fact is also very intriguing.
“The humans of worlds that have enormous differences, such as the absence of magic, are so similar to the people of this world. This cannot be a mere coincidence,” I said. “Perhaps information, such as the model used for creating humans, transcends the barrier between worlds and is shared by the gods? Or is it simply that it is easy to create humans, or that the worlds themselves have qualities in common that make the human form effective for living in them?”
“You don’t hesitate to say things that might be taken as the words of a heretic by some people, do you, Luciliano?” Master remarked. “But it’s true that the humans are mostly the same. Even the upper halves of Scylla are similar to humans. It could just be the result of Rodcorte choosing us humans from Earth because our forms and biology are similar to those of the humans of Lambda, though.”
“I see; there is that possibility as well,” I said. “It is a reincarnation conducted by the will of a god, after all. And there is also the example set by the world that the Demon King and his army originally existed in. The written legends say that only hideous, evil, cursed creatures existed there. Have you tried asking a god regarding this topic?”
My Master is acquainted with a god. Two, in fact.
If he were to ask them directly, we would be able to acquire clues to solve this mystery, but –
“If we go to the deepest part of the Dungeon, he’ll come out for us, but I’d feel bad making him come out too much,” Master said. “Merrebeveil, on the other hand, doesn’t really summon me. She might be the shy type.”
“… It seems that things don’t really go as we want them to,” I said.
I was unable to tear off the veil of sacred mysteries in one bound, but the knowledge that master has shared regarding the correct function of the skeleton, the muscles and the organs is significant to me, both as a mage and as a researcher.
The most precious knowledge that I can acquire after having become Master’s apprentice is the knowledge regarding Undead. Even the knowledge from other worlds is overshadowed by this.
I worked as an adventurer while conducting my research, so I considered myself more knowledgeable regarding live Undead than those who kept themselves holed up in the archives of the Mages’ Guild. But the knowledge that I am able to gain by observing the Undead at Master’s side is of a completely different quality.
The Undead that come into existence spontaneously in Devil’s Nests, Dungeons and old battlefields are, with almost no exceptions, natural enemies to all living creatures. It is impossible to observe them safely. In fact, most observations are dangerously made while battling them.
In fact, there is no chance of conversing or interacting with them.
The exception would be the Undead that I and similar practitioners are able to create, but they are merely corpses with false life bestowed upon them through magic. Though they bear similarities to Undead, they are different. There is almost no point in observing them at all.
But in the nation of Talosheim ruled by Master, the Undead are leading lives as citizens in society.
There are some with somewhat abnormal speech and conduct, but most of them still possess intelligence and personalities similar to those that they possessed while alive.
This is truly a utopia for me.
“Wait!” Borkus said.
“Did we not agree that there would be no waiting? Do men take back their words?” I asked.
“Grr, men don’t take back their words! Take it all!”
“Well then, I will do so without reserve.”
It is not because I defeated the Sword King Borkus in a game of shogi with money at stake that I feel that this place is a utopia. That was just part of my observations.
Incidentally, gambling is only permitted in Talosheim at publicly managed facilities.
It seems that in the world of Earth where Master spent his first lifetime, gambling was controlled by those with a firm footing in the underworld, held in shady places that no respectable individuals should approach.
It is likely that there is a considerable amount of prejudice in this view. After all, from what I have heard from Master, the country of Japan that he lived in had far better public order than this world.
That was why Master felt negatively about the idea of shogi and Reversi matches being played at gambling dens with money at stake, but it seems that he changed his mind after Eleanora suggested the establishment of regulated, publicly-managed gambling dens and casinos.
And it appears that Master does not hate gambling, either… though it seems that rather than liking gambling itself, he likes putting on an air of being a rich person.
And so, gambling dens and casinos with set limits on the maximum stakes and rates were established.
“How about one more match?” I suggested as I formed a mountain with my chips.
But Borkus let out a frustrated groan and declined. “I’ll pass. Even if I’m just using small change, Gopher will yell at me if I waste any more.”
I felt admiration for Borkus as he mentioned the name of his only daughter, and as a researcher, I made a note to remember his words and actions.
According to the Mages’ Guild’s knowledge regarding the Undead, their heads are either as empty as those of beasts or filled with hatred for the living. There is also a chance that they possess the intelligence that they had while alive, but have lost their sanity.
It is possible to converse with Undead whose memories from while they were alive still remain, such as Ghosts. However, even their memories are simply “remaining” memories that fade with time, leading them to ultimately become the natural enemy of all living creatures like other Undead.
These are the ideas that are advocated.
However, the Undead of Talosheim are different.
Their intelligence, memories and personalities are preserved in a state similar to when they were alive. None of the important people at the Mages’ Guild would have imagined this. Undead who enjoy board games, gamble and restrain themselves due to the warnings of their family members!
Before I became Master’s apprentice, I wouldn’t have believed it even if I saw it with my own eyes.
Of course, everyone knows that Undead are not particularly unintelligent compared to other monsters.
There are plenty of records of Undead knights who wielded their weapons as masterfully as they had while alive and Undead adventurer parties whose ability to act with sophisticated coordination was still preserved. One could even say that Undead capable of casting spells, such as Liches and Skull Mages, are more intelligent than some lowly hoodlums.
At the very least, they should possess higher intelligence than Goblins and Orcs who are only capable of swinging sticks of wood around.
However, the world believes that this is due to the “remains” of their previous lives.
But observing the Undead of Talosheim, including Borkus, would allow one to quickly learn that they possess high thinking capabilities.
But as a researcher and as a mage, I can declare that this perception and experience is harder to obtain than knowledge from other worlds.
“By the way, have you heard anything about that thing from the kid?” Borkus asked.
This question pulled me out of my faint emotional, delighted mood and brought me to my senses. What he was pointing at had nothing to do with Undead, but even I had my questions about it.
“Bunny girls,” I muttered.
The female employees that carry drinks and light meals around, clean up shogi boards, billiards tables and dart boards, and make all kinds of preparations while wearing sensationally bizarre clothing. Master has named them “bunny girls.”
Their shoulders and backs are exposed, and the shapes of their cleavage (if present) and hips are unconcealed. They wear tights that Master has made, so their skin isn’t exposed, but they cling tightly to their bottoms and legs. Does this not actually make them more indecent?
And most bizarre things of all are the hairbands with decorations that look exactly like rabbit ears and decorations that look like rabbit tails, attached just above the bottom.
“I do not know the details, but it seems that female employees in casinos on Earth, the world where Master once lived, dressed in this way,” I said.
“Are you serious? Earth is a world with only humans, right? It’s not like they could have been obsessed with rabbit-type Beast-people,” said Borkus.
“It seems that even Master does not know why they are rabbits, but… there are apparently some regions of Earth that consider rabbits to be a symbol of good fortune, so perhaps that has something to do with it?” I suggested. “Also, it is likely a form of service to the male customers.”
“Huh, I see. Well, they’re sexy so I don’t hate it, but… what happens if we get workers who are Beast-people other than rabbit-type?” Borkus asked.
He was concerned that it would be unsightly for Beast-people of other races who already possess their own ears and tails to dress as bunny girls.
“Who knows? Perhaps they would simply become fox girls, wolf girls and panther girls,” I suggested with a bitter smile.
I gave a rather vague answer since I was not particularly interested in this topic, but Borkus seemed to be satisfied with this explanation. A convinced expression appeared on the remaining half of his face.
“I see. It’s true that we don’t have to limit ourselves to bunnies like Earth,” he said.
Not that I think that Earth limits itself to bunnies, either.
Incidentally, I spotted Master sitting at a table with a plate reading “VIP seat” soon after this, so I tried asking him about bunny girls once more, but the answer I received was the exact answer I had expected.
“I don’t know the exact reason or how they originated, but it seems that casinos have bunny girls.”
Somehow, my master’s desires for worldly luxuries… or rather, what seem like worldly luxuries, is so strong that he has gone full circle and become unworldly.
I began questioning his sanity when I heard that he had once tried and failed to take a bath in a tub filled with gold nuggets.
Even now, he was stacking golden chips into a mountain on the table, surrounded by Zadiris, Basdia and Eleanora who were serving him in bunny girl suits.
“By the way, Master, did you win in your gambling?” I asked.
“… I was utterly beaten,” Master replied, collapsing forward onto the table.
It seems that Master is not very good at board games and gambling.
“Do not ask questions to tease him. I am sure you can tell by looking that the chips in this pile are toys made of fool’s gold,” said Zadiris.
Incidentally, fool’s gold is a metal known as false gold, and it produces sparks when two pieces are struck together, so they are sometimes used as flint sparks. That is how worthless the metal is. In other words, Master is just acting.
Furthermore, the plate that reads “VIP seat” is also something that Master created and placed on the table himself.
“Vandalieu-sama, I’ve been thinking this for a long time, but I think you should educate this insolent apprentice of yours,” said Eleanora.
“Luciliano is my advisor as well as my apprentice, so it’s perfect that he’s a little insolent,” Master said. Thankfully, it seemed that he did not intend to follow Eleanora’s fearsome suggestion.
“Spare me. I would certainly not wish to end up like those former fake resistance people,” I said.
The last time I saw them, Haj and the other fake resistance members had become berserkers who licked their weapons with maddened looks in their eyes. Their Jobs are apparently also Berserker, making them equivalent to D-class adventurers at least in attack power.
“I have to question that, too. They probably won’t live long at this rate,” said Basdia, whose spectacular chest, latissimus dorsi and feminine legs were barely concealed by her bunny girl suit.
It seemed that she thought this would be problematic as well.
Master contemplated for a short while before suddenly raising his face to speak. “Well then, let’s supply them with dependable partners so that they can live long.”
“Partners?” I repeated.
Did he intend to have them work in pairs? But then, what did he mean by “supply?”
“I will provide them with Living Armors that will act as their partners, not as their instructors,” Master said.
“I see. That would give them high-performance armor as well, so it’s killing two birds with one stone,” said Basdia. “And even if the enemy were to try to steal them, they would just run away on their own unless they were actually defeated.”
“How wonderful. As expected of you, Master,” I said.
Could Haj and his companions continue taming Undead that have been separated from Master for a long period of time?
What happens to Undead that are separated from Master for a long period of time?
Interested in the results of this experiment, I, like Basdia, agreed with Master’s suggestion.
There are certain skills that the Mages’ Guild considers Undead to have none, or very little of. These are creative, artistic and imaginative abilities, and sensitivity to emotion.
This has been concluded from the testimonies of adventurers who have fought Undead for many years and examining the remains of mages who have become Undead, and it is a believable theory to some extent.
From deciphering the records of research left behind by mages who turned themselves into Undead while they were still alive for the purpose of this research, it is very clear that their creative and imaginative abilities degrade over time.
The works said to be created by artists who have become Undead are either extensions of works they created while they were alive or mere scribbles.
I took this knowledge for granted, but intriguingly, there are Undead in Talosheim who engage in this kind of creative work.
These include Datara and Nuaza, who are Undead Titans. This does not need to be explained in the case of Datara, who swings his hammer at the forge. But as for Nuaza, in addition to being the leader of the Church of Vida, he also carves stone statues of Master and of the gods.
The two fields that they are working in are different, but both are Undead who perform creative work.
I asked them questions regarding the above-mentioned theory, but I received an unexpected answer.
“That’s probably not wrong,” said Datara.
“I think it is correct as well,” said Nuaza.
I had firmly believed that the two of them would reject the commonly-accepted theory, but surprisingly, they agreed with it.
“What in the world makes you feel this way?” I asked them. “In my eyes, it seems to me that the two of you are conducting work no differently from the living.”
“You see, that’s just because you’re watching us work from the side. I’m just managing by listening to advice from Tarea-jouchan and the other newcomers.”
According to the blacksmith Datara who creates arms using the new materials brought in by Master and the others, he is simply using techniques that he cultivated in the past; it seems that he does not need to use his brain very much.
“Unlike you, I don’t have any education so I can’t say anything for sure, but creative power is, you know, coming up with new ideas, right? I’m bad at that. When things don’t go well with the way I’ve been doing things up until now, I have to consult others,” he confessed.
Despite being a pale-faced, stubborn-looking old man, he is surprisingly flexible and listens to the suggestions of others.
Nuaza gave a large nod of agreement. “I do not use my head very much while carving statues, either. I am simply carving things as they appear to me.”
“Indeed, the stone statues of Master have not had any glorifications added to them; they resemble him so closely that one would not notice he were there if he were to stand next to them,” I said.
Master really does blend in with them from time to time. Particularly after he acquired the Demon King’s ink sacs, he has been camouflaging himself by covering himself in stone-colored ink, so it is difficult to tell unless one approaches him.
… I wonder if it is really alright to use a fragment of the Demon King for such a prank. What would the Demon King think if he knew that a part of his own body was being used in this way? I suppose I will have to set aside such idle thoughts.
“But how do you carve statues of gods that you cannot directly see?” I asked.
Nuaza has even created statues of Fidirg, the Dragon God of Five Sins, and Merrebeveil, the Evil God of Slime and Tentacles who is now the heroic goddess of the Scylla. Unlike Master, he cannot directly see these gods to create statues of them.
He has carved statues of beings that he has never actually seen before. There is no mistake that this is a creative task.
“Oh no, the Holy Son has used the Golem Transmutation skill to create large models to show me what they looked like,” Nuaza said.
“… I see.”
“It appeared that I simply needed to carve the statues using these as a reference.”
It seems that Master, who has met the gods directly, provided a model to work with.
“Well, until I died, I really was a hard-headed old man,” said Datara. “My creative power might have faded more than the youngsters back then. But now, I feel like I’m young again.”
“That is because you have many Ghouls like Tarea-san helping you in the female working team, isn’t it? Ah, Luciliano-dono, I only began carving statues after becoming an Undead, so I do not think that my answers would be of much use to you,” Nuaza added.
It seems that the commonly-accepted theory cannot be affirmed or refuted just by listening to the views of these two.
I must be diligent in gathering more testimonies.