As the ‘thing’ gained consciousness, it fell into a state of panic.
It didn’t know its own state, where it was, or even what it was.
Its thoughts were a jumbled mess of different pronouns.
In this chaotic state, it tried to move, but its body wouldn’t move the way it wanted it to.
What is this? What is this? What happened? Why?”
With this chaos turning into total confusion, the ‘thing’ desperately tried to move its body around. One of its movements managed to touch something silver.
When the ‘thing’ touched this object, it felt strangely calm, content and happy.
That’s right, I, I, I, grr… don’t care.
Within that happiness, the ‘thing’ abandoned the thought of analyzing itself. It also abandoned the thought of unification and separation.
The ‘thing’ realized that its current state was normal for it.
More importantly, the ‘thing’ wanted to move quickly.
Because this was the place that the ‘thing’ had dreamed of. It was the place that it had dreamed of and desired more than any paradise.
Quickly, I must be at his side!
Driven by this maddening desire, the ‘thing’ that had been named Lump-of-flesh-chan floated into the air, and in the next instant, it vanished.
“Vandalieu, wake up. It’s still night, but there’s a visitor.”
Vandalieu awoke to the voice of his mother, Darcia, whose spirit resided in a small bone fragment.
Vandalieu could hardly be described as an ordinary boy, but even so, physically speaking, he was a nine-year-old child. Due to this fact, he slept long hours during times of peace.
Everyone knows this, so there shouldn’t be anyone visiting me in the dead of the night unless it’s an emergency, Vandalieu thought in confusion as he looked around. And then he saw the ‘visitor’ that Darcia had mentioned, and froze.
That ‘thing’ had the most bizarre appearance that Vandalieu had ever seen in any of his lives.
The ‘thing’ was floating in the middle of the air, and it had an overall spherical shape.
But it was made of countless human limbs, torsos and heads twisted around each other to form something resembling a sphere; it had an entirely abnormal appearance.
It was more flesh-colored than pink, and it didn’t appear to have skin, hair or even eyes.
Overall, there were more female-looking parts, but there were also some male-looking ones, and there were even animal-looking parts in a few places.
If it were to be given a description, something like ‘a sphere, three meters in diameter, created by a mad artist by twisting and combining flesh-colored mannequins made of clay’ might have fit.
If this royal castle hadn’t been built for the Titan race, whose males could reach heights of up to three meters, it would likely have become stuck against the ceiling.
“Nice to meet you,” Vandalieu said, addressing the ‘thing’s’ numerous, eyeless faces that consisted of only outlines. “Excuse me, but who would you be?”
He had been surprised at first, but he had quickly become accustomed to the ‘thing.’ He often grew numerous heads and limbs himself, and this ‘thing’ even resembled the Zombie Giants that had been created by combining multiple corpses. Vandalieu thought that compared to Merrebeveil, who consisted of bundles of tentacles forming the shape of a Scylla, the ‘thing’s’ appearance wasn’t all too surprising.
The ‘thing,’ still floating in the air, froze for a moment and then tear-like mouths appeared on its faces, skillfully producing expressions of grief.
And then it expressed its emotions by clutching its heads with its numerous arms, flailing its legs and twisting its torsos.
It had apparently been hurt by Vandalieu’s words.
“Vandalieu, I’m not sure if I should call it a child or children, but they seem to love you,” said Darcia. “Just now, it said, ‘we finally met him...’”
“Did it say that?”
“Mmm, it just said, ‘oooh,’ but that’s what it felt like.”
Vandalieu believed Darcia’s unreliable translation that was based on nothing more than what she felt. It was his mother’s words, after all.
And he had suspected what the origins of the ‘thing’ might be, so he thought that it wouldn’t be strange for Darcia to be able to understand its feelings.
“Its body looks like Lump-of-flesh-chan, but what’s inside?” Vandalieu wondered. “Did it grow something? Hmm, I don’t know. It does look like a soul has firmly attached itself, though.”
Lump-of-flesh-chan, the failed product that Vandalieu had created while trying to use Vida’s relic, the resurrection device, to create a body for Darcia. Something had inhabited it, and now it was the ‘thing’ before Vandalieu’s eyes.
Considering that, perhaps this ‘thing’ could be considered to be something like Darcia’s identical twin.
However, the question was, what had inhabited it?
The soul residing in the ‘thing’ that was trembling sorrowfully. Because Lump-of-flesh-chan had been a life form without a soul to begin with, it was difficult to imagine that one had been spontaneously created inside it.
With that being the case, Vandalieu considered the possibility of the spirits floating about nearby entering it on their own, but that didn’t seem to be the case, either. The number of spirits around hadn’t decreased, and if that was possible, it should have happened much sooner. Lump-of-flesh-chan had been around for over a year.
So then, what is it? Vandalieu wondered.
“Bad boy!” Darcia said, interrupting his thoughts. “You can’t just make a girl cry and then leave her alone!”
Vandalieu was being scolded for leaving Lump-of-flesh-chan alone to its sad feelings.
Vandalieu did feel some doubt as to whether Lump-of-flesh-chan could be classified as a girl. However, it was a fact that he had hurt someone who had a liking for him and then left them alone.
I suppose I can analyze it later.
Vandalieu stepped down from his bed and called out to the ‘thing.’ “I’m sorry for saying something so callous. I didn’t intend to make you sad. Would you like to be my friend?”
Vandalieu apologized earnestly and offered out his hand. The ‘thing’ froze in the air for a moment. In the next moment, several arms extended outwards, ignoring Vandalieu’s hand and wrapping around him to embrace him.
From an outside perspective, it might have appeared that it intended to prey on him.
“AAAAHH, UWAAAAHH,” it groaned.
“I’m glad you made up,” said Darcia.
The ‘thing’ clearly had no hostile intentions. Even Vandalieu, who was being embraced, didn’t have any discomfort.
Overall, it’s soft and squishy, and some places feel muscular, and its body temperature is a little low?
Rodcorte stared at his minorly-injured arm in disbelief.
His hand was supposed to be holding the soul of the ‘Gazer’ Minuma Hitomi, as well as those of the Eighth Guidance, which he had intended to use as hostages against Vandalieu.
But his acquisition of these souls had been obstructed by the god of Origin, as well as the gods of Lambda – Zuruwarn, the god of space and creation, and Ricklent, the genie of time and magic.
The injuries that Rodcorte had received from Zuruwarn were minor. They were so small that they would heal quickly before long.
However, Rodcorte had never been attacked by another god before until now. Since he ruled over reincarnation, far away from every world, he had never become involved with any humans, gods or beings that were hostile towards gods.
Because of this, Rodcorte had no resistance at all when it came to pain. That was why he had faltered and allowed the souls of the ‘Gazer’ and the others to get away, but the cause of Rodcorte’s current discomposure was not the shock of his failure.
“Why are Zuruwarn, Ricklent and the god of Origin interfering with me… no, why are they acting as Vandalieu’s allies?”
Zuruwarn and Ricklent might have reacted with, “You really don’t know why?!” if they heard Rodcorte, but Rodcorte was truly surprised.
In his mind, since ages long past, he had always just been acting within his own domain, prioritizing his work.
The exception was when he had sent reincarnated individuals from another world to the world of Origin, and Vandalieu himself had been one of those individuals. Rodcorte thought that Zuruwarn would have no reason to become Vandalieu’s ally.
“But then, what is the meaning behind Zuruwarn and Ricklent interfering with me? It is also likely that Zuruwarn was the one who had made the god of Origin act as well. The god of Origin, like the god of Earth, is a collective god that is branched out into countless divine beings. There is no way that it would move with a single purpose unless the existence of its world hung in the balance.”
In the past, it had been Zuruwarn who had negotiated with the god of the foreign world of Earth when he summoned the champions from that world. There was no mistaking it.
But even with this experience, it couldn’t have been simple for Zuruwarn to conduct negotiations when he still hadn’t recovered from the damage he had suffered during the battle against the Demon King.
With that being the case, that meant that Zuruwarn had been acting for a considerable amount of time in advance. It meant that he had been negotiating for years at least.
“Just when did Zuruwarn and the other gods of Lambda become aware of Vandalieu’s existence? No, more importantly, why are they interfering… showing hostility towards me?”
Rodcorte had thought that all of the gods of Lambda were slumbering other than Alda, the god of law and fate. It had been unexpected for these gods to be active, even if it was only two of them, and them showing hostility towards him had been even more unexpected.
After all, showing hostility towards Rodcorte would surely yield no benefits for them.
Unlike the Demon King, he had no thoughts of invading Lambda, and didn’t desire its destruction. In fact, he wanted the world to develop. In that regard, Rodcorte could even be considered an ally to the gods of Lambda, in the broadest sense of the word.
In fact, he had sent reincarnated individuals there for the purpose of stimulating the world’s development.
The only thing that could be achieved by defeating Rodcorte was a suspension of the function of the circle of transmigration system, which governed the transportation of the souls of Lambda’s people.
If that happened, Lambda would be overrun by monsters, or become a world where only the races created by Vida would live.
Could that be what the gods of Lambda were after?
“I see. Zuruwarn and the others have chosen the circle of transmigration system created by Vida over mine. That is why they are allying themselves with Vandalieu, who is guiding the souls of even humans, Elves and Dwarves to Vida’s system!”
Rodcorte hadn’t expected any of the prominent gods who had sided with Vida to ally themselves with Vandalieu except for perhaps Zantark, who had lost his sanity after fusing with an evil god. He felt surprised by his own conclusion, but at the same time, he was convinced. This was certainly plausible.
And then he felt a strong sense of danger. If the world of Lambda as a whole chose Vida’s circle of transmigration system, and his own system lost the foundation upon which it was based, Rodcorte would lose one of the sources of his power.
That wasn’t where the problems stopped. If Vida was revived and she perfected her circle of transmigration system, it was possible that Zuruwarn would tell the god of Origin how to recreate circle of transmigration systems.
Rodcorte didn’t know if this was how Zuruwarn had negotiated with the god of Origin, but considering the effort that it had put into its actions, it was certain that the god of Origin had its misgivings towards Rodcorte. If those misgivings were large enough, it would likely change its world’s circle of transmigration system.
Such movements might spread beyond the worlds of Lambda and Origin.
For Rodcorte, who had no believers and was not known to any people in any world, his circle of transmigration systems controlling fewer worlds was a matter of life and death.
If more and more worlds chose Vida’s circle of reincarnation system, he wouldn’t even be able to turn into a specter, fairy or demon like other fallen gods; he would simply vanish like mist.
One or two worlds less wouldn’t cause any problems. He would simply need to find newly-born worlds and obtain the authority to govern the circles of transmigration for those worlds. However, worlds were not born with great frequency, and there was no guarantee that he would be able to obtain authority over their circles of transmigration.
“Before that happens, I must kill Vandalieu at all costs!” Rodcorte concluded.
“… No, why is that the only conclusion you can come to? Our boss’s way of thinking is too rigid,” said a voice from below.
Rodcorte looked down to see the ‘Calculation’ Machida Aran and the ‘Inspector’ Shimada Izumi, who had become his familiar spirits, and the ‘Noah’ Mao Smith nearby as well.
“If it were me, I would apologize and ask him to not spread Vida’s circle of transmigration systems to the other worlds, then completely give up on Origin and Lambda,” said Izumi.
“If you can’t cut your losses, things will progress to a point of no return. I agree with these two,” said Mao.
There was the other dozen or so reincarnated individuals who had recently died as well. They had already been informed that there was a third life waiting for them through the ‘instant information transmission’ method.
“You… since you are my familiar spirits, my ruin will be your own ruin as well,” Rodcorte said, wishing that his servants would at least share some of the sense of danger that he felt.
Izumi and Aran simply stared back at him through half-closed eyes.
Having no other choice, Rodcorte looked around at the other reincarnated individuals, including Mao. “… Quite a lot of you have died all at once,” he remarked.
This caused the reincarnated individuals to either react with frowns like Tendou and Kouya, or avert their eyes awkwardly like Murakami’s group.
They hadn’t died because they’d wanted to, but it seemed that they didn’t want to protest and point this out to Rodcorte, the one who had granted them power and a new life.
“And it seems you are surprisingly deeply hostile towards each other. Even though your lives were but a tutorial before the real thing…” Rodcorte murmured.
It seemed that these words couldn’t be ignored by the reincarnated individuals.
“You should have told us that first!” shouted the ‘Chronos’ Murakami Junpei.
“That’s right! If we knew that something was coming afterwards, we wouldn’t have done such reckless things!” protested the ‘Venus’ Tsuchiya Kanako.
Several others looked at those two with suspicious eyes, as if doubting their words, but they didn’t appear to be fazed by this.
It seemed that they were mentally tough individuals.
“I agree,” said the ‘Mage Masher’ Minami Asagi, who had been arguing with Murakami Junpei until just moments ago.
Since they had no physical bodies, punching each other caused no effect other than a vague sense of pain, so it seemed that he had been unable to put up with Murakami.
… Despite the fact that he had been advocating for his companions to reunite as one up until Murakami and his group died.
“Life and death are important things for humans. And we aren’t optimistic enough to think that we could be reincarnated a second time just because it happened once. It was correct for us to think that we had only one life left, and desperately do our best to live it… even if what these guys were aiming for was completely wrong,” Asagi added, glancing in Murakami and Kanako’s direction.
The ‘Oracle’ Endou Kouya had more to add. “Living with the purpose of gaining experience to prepare for the next world. I can’t say that there are none who live with that purpose. But we’re not like that. We were desperate to achieve the dreams and goals we had for our second lives. With that being the case, it was only natural that our opinions would oppose each other and we would go our separate ways from time to time. This is only something I realized now that our second lives are over, though.”
In other words, it seemed that Kouya wanted to say that the reincarnated individuals had been desperate to make the most of their second chance because they had never been told that their time in Origin was a tutorial.
Hearing these words, Rodcorte realized that it might have been a mistake to keep quiet about the fact that they had a third life ahead of them.
The truth was that people being reincarnated with the memories and personalities of their previous lives intact was not common at all. At the very least, this was the only time that Rodcorte had carried it out.
There were probably cases in which individuals were reincarnated with the memories and personalities of their previous lives due to errors and bugs in some circle of transmigration systems, but this was impossible in Rodcorte’s systems, which he maintained scrupulously… Vandalieu was causing great damage to Lambda’s system, but such reincarnations had not occurred as of yet.
With that being the case, these individuals could not be blamed for living their second lives in a desperate fashion.
Still, you all came from the same background, and many of you were acquaintances who studied at the same school, Rodcorte thought, but even he would not say this out loud.
He was a god who governed circles of transmigration. He knew that humans were creatures that formed firm bonds with each other astonishingly quickly, but they were also creatures that would betray and kill each other for astonishingly stupid reasons.
And one of the reasons he had gone out of his way to reincarnate a hundred and one people at once was so that there would be no problems if ten or twenty percent of them were to be killed at each other’s hands, or if some, like Kaidou Kanata, became absorbed in their own power and disposed of other reincarnated individuals and other people living in their world.
However, it was far past the time to tell the reincarnated individuals that they had a third chance.
“Well then, do you think it would be better if I were to tell the rest of them now that they have a third life?” Rodcorte asked, already knowing the answer.
It was the ‘Chronos’ Murakami Junpei who responded. “No, it’s too late. I think things would become even worse if you were to tell them,” he said.
“What are you talking about, you shitty teacher? Everything turned out like this because nobody knew that we have a third life ahead of us,” said Asagi.
“I don’t mind being called shitty, but stop it with the ‘teacher,’ you muscle-brain Asagi,” Murakami retorted. “What you say is true; if we’d known that we had a third life ahead, we wouldn’t have betrayed you and made you our enemies for our third lives. But that only applies if we’d known from the beginning.”
“Huh? Be clearer.”
“… Sensei is saying that it’s too late,” said the ‘Marionette’ Inui Hajime, still hugging his knees. “It’s true that if the Bravers were to be told now that there is a third life, they would try to live with more dignity and justice. There wouldn’t be any more like me and Kanata. If they knew that they would be reincarnated one more time and that they would be questioned after their deaths by Inspector-sama here who’s become an angel, they wouldn’t be able to do any bad things unless they’d totally given up on themselves.”
If they did anything bad in life, rather than being sent to hell by a god, they would be killed by the waiting reincarnated individuals the moment they were reborn. No, perhaps they would be reincarnated as livestock or work-horses with the memories and personalities of their previous lives intact.
Being reincarnated as livestock with a human’s mind would be a more fearsome punishment than being sent to hell.
In fact, a certain reincarnated individual’s parent on Earth had apparently been reincarnated as a tortoise, so such a punishment was certainly possible.
“But if we told Rikudou Hijiri and those cooperating with him, do you think they’d stop now?” Hajime continued. “He pulled the strings from the shadows, brainwashed the Metamorph, disposed of me, Sensei and the others, as well as the death attribute researchers along with the entire department of defense of the federal nation, and he is continuing to betray Amemiya and the other Bravers.
“That’s… it seems impossible for him to change,” said Asagi.
All of the people that Hijiri had supposedly disposed of knew everything that he had done. Even if he knew this… Rikudou Hijiri was unlikely to change his behavior.
And people in Origin’s political and business circles were among Hijiri’s cooperators. Explaining reincarnation and such to them would not be an option.
In fact, it was highly likely that Hijiri’s actions would become even more radical if he learned that he had a third life awaiting him.
“That’s how it is. Therefore, we cannot tell the remaining individuals in Origin about their reincarnation to Lambda,” said Rodcorte. “Of course, the immortality that Rikudou Hijiri has made his goal is very inconvenient for me. I will take action against him eventually, so I wish for you to turn your attention towards your reincarnation in Lambda.”
“Alright, Kami-sama. So, what kind of punishment is waiting for us?” Murakami asked, sounding like he had already resigned to a punishment.
“… Punishment? What are you talking about?” said Rodcorte.
He didn’t understand why Murakami was asking such a thing.
“As we thought,” Izumi and Aran whispered to themselves.
Both Murakami and Asagi, who had been arguing fiercely with him earlier, showed expressions of bewilderment.
“I mean, you saw everything, right? The things we did. I’m even the one directly responsible for killing those two, who became your familiar spirits, you know?” Murakami continued.
He had played dumb when questioned by Amemiya Hiroto, but since there was no need to hide things from people who knew everything, he confessed his own deeds. The ones he had killed were even present, but he ignored them.
“Is there something wrong with that?” asked Rodcorte.
“I mean, something wrong, you say…”
Not only did Rodcorte show no signs of criticizing Murakami’s crimes, he seemed to be completely uninterested. Murakami’s confusion grew thicker.
Because he was the master of this Divine Realm, Rodcorte understood what he was thinking, and began his explanation, taking a little care in choosing his words.
“I am not responsible for delivering justice in Origin. Therefore, I do not intend to blame you for the crimes you committed in Origin. To begin with, laws are decided by humans to judge other humans. They have nothing to do with a god such as myself. If I were to punish every single human for killing others, what would I do with the great number of murderers that appear every time a war occurs on Earth or in Origin?”
Rodcorte was a god who governed the circles of transmigration… only the circles of transmigration. He would normally never reward anyone no matter how good they were, nor would he punish anyone no matter how evil they were. Indifferently, he simply welcomed the souls of the dead, immediately loaded them into his system and had them reborn.
“And if you want to speak of murderers, the others are not so different from you. Minami Asagi in particular has killed many,” said Rodcorte.
Being called out suddenly, Asagi protested in surprise. “W-wait a minute! I don’t remember killing anyone but terrorists and dangerous criminals! And it’s not like I intended to kill them!”
“Even terrorists and dangerous criminals are just humans to me,” said Rodcorte.
Asagi’s face stiffened as he fell into silence.
Aran continued explaining things to him and the others. “Everyone, for Rodcorte… this god, both good and evil people are just humans. No matter what motives and background there is for a murder, it’s still just a murder. Our killing of terrorists to protect the many, murders committed by deranged serial killers, soldiers killing enemy soldiers to protect their own nations, it’s all just murder.”
Aran believed that murder could be considered a good deed depending on the circumstances. At first, Rodcorte’s opinion of “no lives are more or less important than others, so the act of taking them is simply murder, no matter what motives are behind it” might sound like Rodcorte believed that each life was important, but the truth was that this was the absolute worst sense of values from a human’s perspective.
Rodcorte was completely indifferent to humans’ good or evil qualities; he felt no value in life itself. It was fine as long as lots of people were born, lived and died. That was what he thought.
“He does think that it would be a problem if someone planned to wipe out all life. But that’s all it is,” said Izumi, adding to Aran’s explanation. “It looks like he doesn’t intend to blame you for killing us… though personally, I can’t forgive you.”
“I see, that’s good,” Murakami sighed, realizing that Rodcorte really had no intention of punishing him.
The fact that he showed no signs of concern over Izumi and Aran’s cold gazes might have been because he felt no sense of guilt to begin with.
“Well then, the problem is what comes after we’re reborn. Asagi, Konoe, if you don’t like me, shall we try to kill each other once we’re reborn?” Murakami suggested, turning his attention towards his next life.
“If you’re still up to no good, then yeah,” said Asagi.
“Of course! If I see you in our next lives, I’m going to kill you with Death Scythe right away!” said Miyaji.
“No, that would be problematic,” said Rodcorte. He had been uninterested in events on Origin, but he stepped in to stop them now. “Unlike in Origin, my objective is to have you reborn in Lambda to stimulate the development of the world. It would be problematic if you were to reduce your own numbers by killing each other. And I have something I would like to request of you.”
“Is it killing that Vandalieu guy you were talking about earlier? We’re not hired assassins,” said Murakami.
“Considering that you don’t care about anyone as long as they can’t wipe out all life, it makes me shudder to imagine trying to kill someone you consider ‘necessary to dispose of,’” Asagi added.
“If you tell me who he is, I’ll kill him right away with my Death Scythe. So don’t interfere with me killing this shitty teacher!” said Miyaji.
The reincarnated individuals didn’t seem to be too enthusiastic about this. Izumi and Aran gave a simple explanation.
“It’s the first among us reincarnated individuals who died. He was in Murakami’s class; he was my and Minami’s classmate. It’s Amamiya Hiroto, who fell into the sea as he saved Narumi when the ferry sank,” said Izumi.
“In Origin, his name was the ‘Undead.’ It’s the one that Hiroto and the others faced, the one who saved the Eighth Guidance that you were fighting and gave them powers,” Aran added.
The reincarnated individuals froze as they heard this explanation, and their faces stiffened as they comprehended the meaning of these words.