The races created by Vida and the races of monsters who worshipped evil gods who had left the Demon King to join Vida’s side, except for the Pure-breed Vampires who protected Vida’s Resting Grounds, had each created their own nation that worshipped their god in the southern region of the continent.
The Zanalpadna Kingdom was named after its god as it was the only nation to be ruled by two races – the Arachne and Empusa – but the other nations were all named after their races.
Only the Noble Orc empire called itself an empire. Leaving aside the rumors and legends told outside the Boundary Mountain Range, it really was an empire.
As for why only the Noble Orc nation was an empire, that was because it was the leader that united all of the other nations in the Boundary Mountain Range.
“In other words, returning to a kingdom rather than an empire means relinquishing that role of leadership,” said Vandalieu.
He was proceeding through the Great Flesh Den, a B-class Dungeon in the depths of the Church of Mububujenge, as he had these circumstances explained to him.
“Yes. As a result of my failure to stop Bugitas’s treason, the High Kobold and High Goblin nations in particular suffered great losses. And the power of our nation has decreased drastically as well. In this state, it is impossible for my nation and I to fulfill the duty that is expected of us as an empire,” said the newly-crowned Emperor, or rather King, Budarion, as he walked along with light steps.
During the battle against Ravovifard, his Rank had increased and he had become a Rank 12 Noble Orc Abyss High King, the same Rank as the ‘Wise Emperor’ Buugih of the past. He had obtained enough strength to be called one of the most powerful beings in the Boundary Mountain Range other than the Pure-breed Vampires, but it seemed that he and his vassals did not believe that the fighting ability of a single ruler was enough to solve the problems within the nation.
“I am sorry to the nations who tried to stop me from doing this, however,” Budarion continued.
Following his announcement of his nation’s new title at the feast, the nations’ representatives that were present at the feast had tried to talk him out of it. In a heartfelt, earnest, desperate way.
If these were human nations outside the Boundary Mountain Range, this would be a chance for them to make great advances. Each of them would try to wrest themselves free of these relationships of power that had remained steadfast for over fifty-thousand years and try to establish dominance over the other nations.
Even if the rulers of those nations didn’t have such thoughts, there would be some noblemen who would form factions, aiming to obtain greater rights and more land for themselves and their heirs; there was no doubt that some would try to spur the nation into action.
There would also be nations that would take action because they thought it would be bad if the position of leadership was taken by a nation that they had a bad relationship with.
However, the circumstances were different for the nations within the Boundary Mountain Range.
The ruler of each nation also acted as a priest for the god that their nation worshipped, and they would be reprimanded directly by their god if they were to take unreasonable actions. The gods worshipped by the nations considered the flourishing of their own people to be important, but since the maintenance of the barrier protecting this land from Alda and his subordinates was more important, they avoided causing harm to other nations that would weaken the gods of those nations.
And in this environment, where these city states existed inside a dangerous Devil’s Nest, the benefits of being dominant over the other nations was minimal.
Most importantly, while one would expect the second greatest nation after the Noble Orcs to begin a struggle for power, the races that lived in that nation had a sense of values that were different from those of royals and nobles in human societies.
“Queen Donaneris is troubled. It is likely that the duty of leadership will fall onto us,” said Gizania, who was proceeding through the Dungeon under Vandalieu’s protection, as B-class Dungeons were still difficult for her with her current abilities.
“Indeed,” agreed Myuze, who was also being protected by Vandalieu. “We people of Zanalpadna are flourishing plenty as it is… and we will likely flourish more from now on.”
Arrangements had already been made for Princess Kurnelia to marry Budarion, and her younger sister Gizania and Myuze who was related to the previous queen would marry Vandalieu. It was expected that Zanalpadna would get by just fine even if it did not rise to the position of being an empire.
In fact, the nation was likely full of those who thought that the duties that came with that position would be troublesome.
“By the way, may I brush this?” asked Vandalieu, who was sitting on the back of the large-build Arachne Gizania, touching her lower body half’s fur, which was stiffer than its appearance suggested.
“… I don’t mind, but I would like you to leave it for later,” Gizania replied with flushed cheeks, covering her eyes.
“Vandalieu-dono, what about me?” said Myuze.
“Myuze, you don’t have any fur… maybe I could help you look after your wings and sickles?” Vandalieu suggested.
“Oh, please do!” Myuze looked delighted.
The Majin king Godwin, who was listening to this conversation from behind, let out a sigh. “Stop flirting in a time of crisis like this…”
Godwin was a mass of muscle as large as a Titan with two twisted horns, blue skin and a tail with a triangular tip. Every nation knew that he was a powerful warrior.
But right now, his face looked very thin and haggard.
“I thought that I’d be able to toss my successor onto my throne the year after next and return to the sweet days of drowning in combat and alcohol… I’m definitely not becoming the emperor,” he muttered.
“… Godwin-dono, I do have to question your choice to speak such words while I and the others are listening,” said Budarion.
“Budarion, if you want me to be more considerate with my words, then go back to being an emperor,” Godwin said in response.
Godwin seemed to be a selfish, stubborn old man, but such people were common among the Majin race.
The Majin race was a race of strong individuals whose lifespans were unlimited, like those of Vampires. Perhaps because of this, the great majority of Majin did things at their own pace and followed their own paths… or rather, prioritized their own hobbies and interests.
The thing that they all had in common was that they considered individual strength to be important. Even when the kings of their nation were elected through a tournament or battle royale between the candidates. This was true for both the Drakonid and Majin nations, but the Majin nation had a broader definition of strength, so they sometimes elected kings through board games, drinking competitions and contests of wit as well.
Despite that, the Majin felt a firm sense of companionship with each other, with bonds between those who shared hobbies and interests being particularly strong.
That was the kind of race the Majin were, so the position of king was mainly an honorary one, its role being like that of a class representative on Earth, keeping everyone unified.
“If we’d left that fool Gerazorg alone for any longer, he would have brought dishonor to the Majin race,” said Godwin. “That fool… we sent him to study abroad in the empire, hoping that he would at least gain some shred of decency.”
“… What did this Gerazorg person do?” Vandalieu asked.
“Something that can be described as not being suitable for a child like you to hear,” Godwin replied vaguely with a deep frown. “The kinds of crime he committed were all minor, so we weren’t able to keep him locked up in prison for long periods of time up until now. His great-grandmother took good care of me in the past, so I tried to rehabilitate him, but… he was deceived by a strange one.”
Godwin’s tone was so bitter that Gizania and Myuze looked at Vandalieu with eyes that said, “Don’t ask any more.”
It seemed that Gerazorg was so despicable that news of him had even reached Zanalpadna, which was distant from the Majin nation.
Leaving aside Bugitas, the other two that Ravovifard had chosen as his priests, Gargya and Gido, had both been quite the problem children as well. Not only in their abilities, but in their personalities in particular as well.
It seemed that when Ravovifard was selecting those he wanted to give his divine protection to, the important factors were not the individuals’ talents or abilities, but rather whether they had the kinds of personalities that would easily lose their reasoning and release their desires if he were to grant them his power.
“And becoming emperor is definitely out of the question. Mediating disagreements between nations and organizing meetings… I’d be able to provide reinforcements in times of need, but even then, I wouldn’t be able to dispatch our army to multiple places. Unlike the Kijin, we Majin are few in number, after all,” Godwin continued.
The Majin race had long lifespans. Perhaps because of this, their birth rates were extremely low… their reproductive ability was not much different from Elves and Dark Elves, but it seemed that the Majin race had little interest in leaving descendants behind.
Like Vampires and Ghouls, they had a ritual to turn humans and other races into members of their own race, but apparently it was troublesome in various ways and not something that was conducted proactively.
As a result, while members of the Majin race were individually strong, there were only a thousand or so of them on the inside of the Boundary Mountain Range; they were the race with the smallest population.
However, the Majin outside the Boundary Mountain Range lived in groups of about a dozen or so, so a thousand Majin were more than enough to be called a large group.
“Godwin-dono, the gods will likely deliver their own words on this matter,” said Budarion.
“Muh… I always thought you were a promising youngster, but you’ve really settled down now that your arm and eye have turned black, haven’t you,” Godwin remarked. “It’ll be fine as long as the gods don’t say anything strange.”
Why were Budarion, Godwin and the others going through the Great Flesh Den immediately after the feast? That was because they had received Divine Messages from the gods.
“Come to the nearest holy grounds.”
And the closest holy grounds were the deepest chamber of the Great Flesh Den that existed inside the deepest part of the Church of Mububujenge.
Generation after generation, the Noble Orc empire… or rather, kingdom, had been ruled by those who possessed the strength to solo-clear this Dungeon and the acknowledgement of Mububujenge, who would come to this Dungeon’s treasure chamber for audiences with the goddess and hear her words of wisdom.
This was an arrangement that all of the nations on the inside of the Boundary Mountain Range had in common, but… normally, the gods would not summon their priests to the holy grounds of another nation.
Though Godwin had lived for several thousand years, even he could not remember such an event happening. It was possibly the first such event since the founding of the nations.
“While it is true that Queen Donaneris is not present in this nation, I wonder why it is us that have been summoned?” said Myuze.
“Princess Kurnelia is here as well, but leaving that aside… does Zanalpadna have something in mind?” Gizania wondered.
Perhaps because this was unprecedented, Myuze and Gizania had been bewildered as well. There had been cases of those other than the king challenging this Dungeon, clearing it and stepping foot into the holy grounds. But in these cases, the gods would almost never descend upon the world and show themselves, so it seemed that Myuze and Gizania couldn’t erase their doubts. Why had they been summoned? Was it really alright for them to go?
“If all of this is a misunderstanding that we have made… if we were mistaken in thinking that we have received a Divine Message… would we not be very out-of-place?” said Gizania.
“Gizania-dono, I would like you to not say such terrifying things!” said Myuze. “And I think it is quite unlikely that both of us would have made such a misunderstanding. With that being the case, there is likely no mistake that these were indeed Divine Messages.”
“But even though it was a Divine Message, I could only hear, ‘come’… What about you, Myuze-dono?”
“I… could only hear ‘holy grounds.’”
It seemed that Gizania and Myuze didn’t have much ability for receiving Divine Messages.
“Well, that’s how it is for your first time receiving Divine Messages. I was daydreaming and thought my first Divine Message was just in my imagination and ignored it. My predecessor then received a Divine Message from our god Xerx, beat the hell out of me, dragged me to the holy grounds, and then Xerx himself punched me directly,” Godwin said with a hearty laugh.
These words didn’t seem to make Gizania and Myuze feel any better, however.
“Godwin-dono, I believe that if we were to receive such a punishment, we would simply die,” said Gizania.
“Our bodies would break in an instant,” said Myuze.
“No, what I was trying to say is, even if it was a misunderstanding, the gods probably won’t be that angry…” said Godwin, his words becoming incoherent.
“I have heard that Xerx was a subordinate god of Zantark, the war-god of fire and destruction, so he has a violent personality. You are unlikely to be punched by Zanalpadna,” Budarion said, unable to let the conversation end like this, and Gizania and Myuze looked a little relieved.
“If it is a mistake, let us apologize together. I’m sure we’ll be forgiven,” said Vandalieu, taking over the conversation in a carefree manner.
The Divine Message that he had received from Merrebeveil was, “Excuse me, there is something that I would like to speak with you about, so I would like to request for you to come and meet me.”
“If a fist comes your way, I’ll object to it,” he said.
Violence wasn’t good. Violent people should be fought with violence.
“Thank you… but please be gentle,” said Gizania.
“Indeed,” said Myuze. “This only applies if it was indeed a misunderstanding. So please be calm.”
“Yes, I ask this of you as well,” said Budarion.
The three of them proceeded as they tried to pacify Vandalieu, who seemed to have been stimulated by some kind of strange trauma.
Perhaps reflecting the personality of the one who had created it, the monsters appearing in the B-class Dungeon called the Great Flesh Den didn’t proactively search for and attack those trying to clear it. Instead, the vast majority of them were races that set traps and disguised themselves using camouflage and such, looking to ambush their foes.
Thus, with Budarion leading the way, as he already knew the correct way to go to reach the end as quickly as possible, the party was able to keep the number of battles they needed to fight to a minimum.
And as for the traps and ambushes, Vandalieu could see through them with the Labyrinth Construction Skill and the Danger Sense: Death spell, so even the few battles that they did need to fight were easily won.
Of course, this Dungeon had been designed to turn away those who were below Rank 10, so there were no difficulties with Budarion present, as he had already reached Rank 12.
Even the Dungeon boss on the bottom floor was killed by Budarion in a single instant.
The party would enter the place beyond the boss chamber, the treasure chamber that also served as holy grounds for gods to descend upon, but before that, Budarion explained the rules of the holy grounds.
When a god descended upon the Great Flesh Den, the Dungeon would become a space resembling a Divine Realm. Thus, those granted an audience with the god would be in a state similar to having their bare souls exposed, allowing them to appear before the gods.
Thus, they must not look up under any circumstances. The minds of those with mortal souls would not last if they looked upon the gods. They had to kneel on the ground and look down for the entire duration of the audience.
“Muh, as expected of the former emperor. The way you approach holy grounds is special as well,” Godwin murmured.
Without any particular doubts, Vandalieu obeyed Budarion’s instructions.
He had already directly met gods such as Fidirg, Merrebeveil and Zozogante, but there was no guarantee that he would be fine after looking directly at Mububujenge.
And Vandalieu was currently in a position where he was intruding on another land. It was true that he was the one responsible for suppressing the coup d’état, but that didn’t give him an excuse to disrespect the rules of Budarion’s nation.
Thus, he kneeled on the ground and looked down, but he then noticed that Budarion, Gizania and the others who were supposed to be next to him weren’t there. Instead, on the ground that he was staring at, there were people, small enough to be placed in the palm of his hand, and there was a strange being on the edge of his vision.
The silhouettes appeared to be Gizania and the others. He couldn’t see their faces, as they were on their knees as well (with Gizania being in a posture similar to kneeling), looking at the ground. But it was likely them… though Vandalieu didn’t know why they had become smaller.
And he didn’t recognize the strange being entering his field of vision. The silhouette resembled a plump human, lying down with their chin in their hands.
But its body surface was covered in writhing masses of flesh and tumors that were repeatedly expanding and contracting, and there were enormous lips shaped like those of humans around its abdomen; this being could not be called a human.
In fact, it wasn’t even clear whether this could be called a person, but Vandalieu could see that this ‘thing’ was looking at him and trembling for some reason.
“Thank you for coming, Vandalieu,” said the familiar voice of Merrebeveil.
“Yes. It is an honor to be invited here,” said Vandalieu in greeting, still keeping his eyes pointed downwards.
“Not at all, it is we who are grateful to you for responding to our impudent summons,” said Merrebeveil.
“Welcome, and thank you for coming.”
“M-make yourself at home.”
It seemed that Fidirg was here as well. With his face still pointed down, Vandalieu looked around him, and something resembling a tree’s root entered the edge of his vision. It seemed that Zozogante, the evil god of the dark forest, the god of the Ghoul nation, was here as well.
Vandalieu could relax, knowing that many of his acquaintances were here, so that was convenient.
“Please look up. Of course, only Vandalieu may do this,” said Merrebeveil.
“The rest of you, please ensure that you do not look up.”
“Also, it would be best to not look behind you.”
“Don’t ever look. And especially directly above you, don’t look there.”
“Is it all right for me to do that?” Vandalieu asked Merrebeveil. “I’ve been told that this is the rule of these holy grounds.”
Merrebeveil tapped the ‘thing,’ which had remained completely still this whole time, with the tip of a tentacle. “We do not mind. Do we, Mububujenge?”
It seemed that the ‘thing’ was Mububujenge.
“Bujuh… Y-yes. Please make yourself comfortable,” said Mububujenge, startled. Her lips, the only attractive part of her, were trembling.
She was a goddess; her voice was similar to a woman’s.
Though this is apparently a space similar to a Divine Realm, I’m glad that gods don’t seem to be able to read what’s going through the minds of humans within it, as is often told, Vandalieu thought as he looked up to see that there was a countless number of gods in the holy grounds.
… They were not actually countless, but the evil gods had such peculiar appearances that it was impossible to tell through a single glance where one god ended and the next began.
A god with a body covered in carapace that was differently-colored on the left and right sides, looking like a combination of a crustacean and a beetle, with jewel-like compound eyes in multiple places.
A god that appeared to be a mass of various organs entwined around each other to form the shape of a large, carnivorous beast.
A god whose right side of his body was that of an attractive young man while the left side of his body had no skin, leaving his muscle fibers exposed.
A god consisting of a headless monkey riding a headless cow, holding an enormous eye in its right hand and an enormous nose in its left.
In contrast, a god who had the appearance of heads of all kinds of animals… a mountain of severed animal heads.
The sight of Elder Dragons, as well as gods with the appearances of ordinary humans, standing among these evil gods was quite shocking.
This is incredible, Vandalieu thought, but the gods were thinking the same thing. They were thinking this because they were looking directly at the shape of Vandalieu’s soul.
There were numerous eyes and mouths positioned randomly around his head, and his arms were made of multiple human arms joined together in bundles. And the Demon King’s fragments were growing from his body in a chaotic manner. Horns, carapace and coagulated masses of blood protruded from his body. His arms were covered in countless suction cups, and he was glowing ominously here and there.
He looked like an evil god himself, and despite looking directly at the gods, his only thoughts were, “this is incredible.” Something ran through the gods’ minds. The thought that this was not a human. Most of the gods, including Mububujenge, were astounded to the point of being lost for words.
In fact, Merrebeveil, who had seen Vandalieu’s soul once before, looked composed, but she was discomposed as well. He has become worse… no, changed, since that time, she thought.
Incidentally, Fidirg was nervous, but not discomposed. It was his first time seeing Vandalieu’s soul, but he had never considered Vandalieu to be a human to begin with, so despite the appearance of Vandalieu’s soul, he simply thought, “As I expected.”
“So, what is the matter that you wanted to discuss?” Vandalieu asked.
“Ah, y-yes,” said Mububujenge, her voice trembling and high-pitched. “As a result of discussion between us gods, we wished to bring up Ravovifard’s plans and his current state. And we wished to express our gratitude and make some requests…”
“Mububujenge, I shall take over from here. That is why you made the effort of contacting us despite not having had any contact with us for a hundred thousand years, is it not?” said Merrebeveil, taking the role of leading the meeting.
And then Merrebeveil gave an explanation of Ravovifard’s ambitions, supplemented by the conjectures that the gods had made here and there, and explained how everyone had been unable to make any proper movements, as Ravovifard had been holding them back.
Budarion and the others listened to this explanation quietly.
When Budarion had an audience with Mububujenge in the past, she had revealed her dignity as a goddess… if he were to describe her without holding back, he would have said that she had a self-important, lazy attitude.
He was astonished that she was so clearly nervous when speaking to Vandalieu. He felt the desire to look up multiple times, but each time he did, Fidirg would tell him, “Don’t.” And so, he had managed to endure it.
“I see, I understand the circumstances. Things were hard for both us and yourselves, weren’t they,” said Vandalieu after listening to the explanation.
Mububujenge and the other gods were relieved to hear this response. Merrebeveil, as well as Zozogante who had met Vandalieu once before, gave a sigh, muttering, “We told you that there’s no need to be so afraid.”
Even though his incarnation in Lambda had been incomplete, Ravovifard had been powerful enough to suppress the gods, and Vandalieu had defeated him. Not only that, but he possessed the ability to break souls just like the Demon King Guduranis, whom the gods still feared. Mububujenge and the others were relieved that Vandalieu was on their side, but at the same time, they feared him.
The gods had a general idea of what Vandalieu’s personality was like through how their believers perceived him, especially Mububujenge and Zanalpadna. They also knew that he was an important being to Vida, whom they revered as their master. But even so, they hadn’t been able to feel relieved until actually meeting and speaking with him.
At this point in time, Vandalieu possessed power rivaling or perhaps even surpassing those of low-ranking gods like Fidirg and Zozogante; the formation and strengthening of a favorable relationship with him were absolutely necessary.
And then the gods had contacted Fidirg, as well as Merrebeveil, who had started to become worshipped in Talosheim’s wetlands and could be contacted even from the inside of the Boundary Mountain Range. They had wanted Fidirg and Merrebeveil to mediate a meeting between them and Vandalieu.
“So then, what is it that you wish to request of me?” Vandalieu asked.
“There are several things… Mububujenge, Zanalpadna,” said Merrebeveil, motioning for the other two gods to speak.
“As a result of these events, my priest, Budarion, has stepped down from being emperor. We wish for you to become the next emperor,” said Mububujenge.
“All of the gods present here have nominated you… could we ask you to consider it?” said Zanalpadna, whose voice sounded like the creaking of a carapace.
Zozogante and the other gods nodded in agreement.
“Err, is it alright for the gods to skip over the kings of the other nations and decide on the emperor on their own?” Vandalieu asked, slightly bewildered.
He quickly looked down and saw Godwin, who happened to be one of those kings, clenching his fist in a triumphant pose.
Ah, that’s right. The emperor of this place is just an honorary position, Vandalieu remembered.
The kings other than Godwin weren't likely to oppose, either.
“Honorable gods, I beseech that you do not request any more from the Holy Son who has aided us so much –” Budarion, who had a strong sense of responsibility, began to protest.
“I would like to consult our nation’s general before making a decision, but let us continue this discussion assuming that I will accept,” said Vandalieu.
“Ah, I’m sorry.”
Vandalieu had replied with a “yes” before realizing that Budarion was speaking.
The truth was that he had been wondering whether the role of emperor would fall onto him.
The role he had played in the war and the size of his achievements. And though there were differences between the nations’ resulting states, they were all exhausted, while Talosheim was completely unaffected, of course.
In fact, the combat abilities of those who had participated in this expedition, including Vandalieu himself, had increased, so Talosheim’s power as a nation had actually increased slightly overall.
And although Zanalpadna and the Majin nation were city states as well, Talosheim included the Lizardmen and Scylla settlements, as well as multiple towns. The population was still not that large, but in the future, it would certainly exceed that of Zanalpadna and the nation would develop in a way that would rival the old Noble Orc empire.
“Though it is strange of me to say this myself, there will be almost no benefits to you,” said Budarion. “My ancestors served as emperor because of their desire to preserve the peace in this land.”
“Well, I think it’s alright. Honorary positions have their own benefits as honorary positions,” said Vandalieu, speaking in the direction of the back of Budarion’s head.
“Eh, they do?” Godwin blurted out.
“Seriously?” said Fidirg.
“Be silent, Godwin, Fidirg,” said a male god carrying a battle flag on his shoulder, reprimanding them. Vandalieu wondered if this was Xerx, the god of battle flags who was worshipped in the Majin nation.
“There are,” Vandalieu said, answering the question.
As one might expect, an honorary position would allow Vandalieu to keep a certain amount of influence and authority among the nations within the Boundary Mountain Range. Especially because he was being asked to take the position of emperor by the gods worshipped by those nations. He would certainly have more power than any emperor of the former Noble Orc empire.
As long as he didn’t say anything extremely bizarre, wouldn’t he be able to do almost anything?
It wasn't likely that Chezare would object, either.
Even outside of ulterior motives like this, Vandalieu had become on good terms with the people of the nations inside the Boundary Mountain Range during this war, so he very much wanted to maintain these friendly relationships.
Things would be hard for Budarion, the High Kobold nation and the High Goblin nation from now on. The nation of Zanalpadna was interesting, and Vandalieu was interested in the Dark Elf nation, too. The Ghoul nation’s king idolized him as well, calling him “Great Aniki.”
And these were companions who cooperate and stand up with him against the influence of Alda.
Thus, it was actually convenient to become emperor.
They’ll probably be much easier to get along with than the royals and nobles of the Orbaume Kingdom, too.
“Ah, but mediating disagreements between nations and things like that will be difficult for me to do alone,” Vandalieu said. “I have no experience in such things. I don’t have any subordinates that are proficient in negotiating, either.”
“Do not worry so much about that. Disagreements are not things that happen very frequently. This land would have continued to have peaceful relationships between nations if it were not for Ravovifard’s interference,” said Xerx.
It should be fine, then, Vandalieu thought. “So, what are the other things you wished to request?” he asked.
“First of all, we want for you to visit every nation and interact with the citizens in particular. Just as you did in the nation that I am the guardian of, the High Kobold nation,” said Rishare, the god of hunting, who was holding a bow in one hand and a balance scale in the other.
Vandalieu was perplexed by this request. “For post-war recovery?” he asked.
“No, it can be anything. Sightseeing, ceremonial meals or even preaching in the street. To be more straightforward, it is fine as long as you guide the people.”
“Huh… I understand.”
Are they alright with that? Vandalieu wondered, still perplexed, but he agreed. He understood that Rishare and the other gods were expecting things from the effects of the Guidance: Demon Path Skill, but even so, he couldn’t understand why they were prioritizing the citizens.
Even Budarion and the others were perplexed by what they heard. However, there was an important reason behind this for the gods.
The souls of the citizens, the humans, Dwarves and Elves, were managed by Rodcorte’s circle of transmigration system. Thus, the records from these people, who lived in the nations within the Boundary Mountain Range, were seen by Rodcorte.
Rishare and the other gods had heard of the dangers of this from Vida before she fell into slumber, and they had set up a barrier to prevent this. However, even that barrier could not affect the souls of those who had died and returned to the system.
Thus, in the end, Rodcorte gained information about the region enclosed by the Boundary Mountain Range, even though there was a time lag of years, decades or sometimes even centuries.
But even the gods didn’t think that Rodcorte had been examining the records of each individual person in detail. In fact, nothing devastating had happened to date.
But now, the circumstances were different. Vandalieu, who possessed the ability to break souls, was a being that Rodcorte could not ignore. It was only natural for the gods to believe that even Rodcorte, who undoubtedly thought of humans as nothing more than livestock or products running down an assembly line, would be examining records in detail now.
To prevent this, they wanted Vandalieu to guide the citizens with Guidance: Demon Path and transfer their souls to Vida’s circle of transmigration system. That was the gods’ true intent.
Of course, they had no way of confirming what was happening inside Rodcorte’s circle of transmigration system.
However, the evil god Mububujenge had confirmed that the souls of guided monsters such as the noble Orcs had been transferred from the Demon King’s circle of transmigration system to another one. Thus, the gods had determined that it should be possible for Vandalieu to do the same to the citizens.
These actions bewildered Vandalieu and his companions, as they were still mortals and could not be told the secrets regarding reincarnation, but Rishare was relieved to hear Vandalieu’s words of agreement.
“The other thing that we would like to request is –” Rishare produced a trembling, pulsating, fist-sized lump of flesh and held it out to Vandalieu.
“Ah, thank you. Itadakimasu.” Vandalieu suddenly took the lump of flesh and instinctively ate it.
His eyes opened wide as he experienced a wriggling texture and an indescribable deliciousness that spread throughout his mouth as he chewed. Was his sense of taste different because he was eating something while in a pure, soul-only form?
Rishare stared at Vandalieu in surprise, completely frozen in the same position with which he had offered Vandalieu the lump of flesh. “H-he ate it…”
“He ate it? That… even if it was sealed…”
“Seriously? Did he seriously eat it?”
“I knew that he could break them, but…”
“Come to think of it, the presence of an evil god who was close to the Boundary Mountain Range disappeared unnaturally several years ago, could that have been…?”
“No, even he… but, this child is capable of encroaching upon people’s minds just like him.”
“Huh? Could it be that I wasn’t supposed to eat it?” Vandalieu asked.
It had been so delicious, and he’d thought that he was being told, “Please eat this,” so he had eaten the lump of flesh reflexively, but perhaps it had been ill-mannered of him to do so.
But the gods all shook their heads simultaneously. “No, if you like, please eat more!” they said.
And then Rishare produced more lumps of flesh, identical to the first, one after another.
“Oh, really? Excuse me, these are so delicious. Ah, would everyone like to eat them with me?” Vandalieu asked.
“No, please do not pay any attention to us!” Myuze said hastily.
“Then I should save some to give away –”
“I believe that you should eat them here rather than take them with us!” Gizania shouted.
“I see. It’s best to eat them while they’re still fresh.”
Myuze and Gizania had guessed what Vandalieu was eating.
It was likely the sealed pieces of Ravovifard.
Half of Ravovifard had been destroyed by Vandalieu and he had lost his power, and then the gods had sealed him. The gods had then decided that it would be best to have Vandalieu destroy the remaining parts rather than continue to keep them sealed, since they had invited him here. This would remove the potential of Ravovifard becoming a threat again in the future and the running costs of continuing to keep him sealed forever.
They certainly hadn’t expected Vandalieu to start eating them like snacks, but perhaps because they thought that there was no difference between him breaking them and eating them, they simply kept offering Vandalieu all of the parts of Ravovifard they had.
Of course, it was only natural for Myuze and the others to be flustered as well. Though evil gods were far below the Demon King in status, they couldn’t handle being given fragments of one.
“This food has reminded me to ask,” said Vandalieu, suddenly remembering something. “Did the Demon King eat the people whose souls he broke? And if he did, did he absorb the memories of the souls he ate?”
The gods were perplexed by this question.
“The Demon King was also a god, so it was not necessary for him to eat meals normally… did he ever eat anything?”
“No, not really. He sometimes ate to make a display or for his own amusement, but I’ve never heard of him eating souls.”
Unexpectedly, it seemed that the Demon King Guduranis had never eaten souls.
“… I suppose I have no choice but to examine the God Devourer and Soul Devour Skills on my own later. So, what else do I need to do now?” Vandalieu asked, still heartily eating Ravovifard.
Rishare was in a half-dazed state, so Merrebeveil took over once more.
“Yes, there are two… no, there is one more request,” she said, correcting herself as one of the requests would be finished in two more mouthfuls. “We want you to absorb the fragments of the Demon King that Mububujenge, Zanalpadna and the others have sealed. If they are freed from the burden of keeping the fragments sealed, they will apparently be able to put more of their power into the barrier.”
“I understand,” said Vandalieu. “But before that, I’d like to ask, is there a pressing need to strengthen the barrier beyond its current state? If there’s a threat coming, I’d like to know in advance.”
The gods exchanged looks and nodded.
“… Alright,” said Xerx, speaking for the rest of the gods. He was wearing a sour, twisted expression. “This is something that happened fifty thousand years ago. Farmaun Gold, our master who became a heroic god, the champion chosen by Zantark-sama, once closed in on the edge of the barrier.”