About fifty thousand years ago, Farmaun Gold, a heroic god, had appeared outside the barrier that protected the region enclosed by the Boundary Mountain Range.
Godwin was so astonished upon hearing this that he almost looked up. “What?! Xerx, I’ve never heard anything about that!”
“Of course you haven’t, Godwin. This is something that happened long before you were born,” said Xerx.
Seeing Farmaun for the first time since the war between Vida and Alda that had taken place a hundred thousand years ago, the gods who had secluded themselves within the Boundary Mountain Range felt disgust at seeing that he had become a god.
To the gods who served Vida, Farmaun was a comrade in arms who had fought the Demon King Guduranis by their side, but at the same time, an enemy who had started the war alongside Alda, the god of law and fate, and his champion Bellwood. And Farmaun was no ordinary enemy. It was no exaggeration to say that he was a sworn nemesis; no matter how much hatred the gods had for him, it was still not enough.
During the war suddenly started by Alda and his champions, their master Vida had been wounded deeply, the Undead Zakkart defeated and their child, the True Ancestor of the Vampires, also lost his life.
Several gods had been defeated and sealed, and numerous Pure-breed Vampires and ancestors of Vida’s other races had been killed as well.
Farmaun himself had mainly been fighting Zantark, so the number of lives that he had actually taken was less than the other champions and Alda himself. But if it weren’t for him, Zantark, a powerful fighter, would have been free to move and hold back the other champions. If Farmaun had not appeared as an enemy… If he had been an ally, it might have even been possible to turn the tables on Alda and win the war.
Even if the war couldn’t be won, the losses suffered would have been drastically less.
Thus, the gods had felt fear when Farmaun appeared outside the barrier, but at the same time, anger and hatred rose up within them as well. As he hadn’t brought any of the other heroic gods or subordinate gods with him, they had even considered deliberately letting him inside the barrier and then focusing all of their effort into defeating him and sealing him away.
But it could be assumed that this was exactly what Farmaun had been hoping for, and the moment the barrier was opened even a little, his hidden allies lying in wait would appear and flood in like an avalanche.
That was why the gods had mustered as much strength as they could and temporarily strengthened the barrier, choosing to devote themselves to defensive action.
“He is a champion who, as a mortal, more than held his own ground against Zantark-sama, the war-god of fire and destruction, in single combat – a tremendous feat, even if you consider that Zantark-sama had just fused with evil gods and could not fully wield his power. By becoming a heroic god, Farmaun’s power would possibly have increased, but there was no chance that it had decreased at all,” said Xerx, the god of battle flags.
“At the time, the population of every race had increased drastically from the time when we fought against Alda and his servants,” said Zanalpadna, the evil god of carapaces and compound eyes, continuing where Xerx had stopped. “But the recovery of us gods from our exhaustion was even more incomplete than it is now. We were in no state to fight him.”
“And we couldn’t ignore the existence of Bellwood and Nineroad, who were nowhere to be seen… Back then, if we had known that Bellwood had apparently vanished and those on Alda’s side were exhausted as well, we might have made a different decision, however,” said Rishare.
At the time, the gods within the Boundary Mountain Range had no way of gaining information about anything happening outside the barrier. As they had fought against Alda alongside Vida, they were not worshipped outside the Boundary Mountain Range.
And so, until they asked Merrebeveil, they hadn’t known that those on Alda’s side had been more exhausted than they’d imagined. If they had known that Alda’s allies were in no state to start a war, they might have taken action.
And while the gods solidified their defense, Farmaun, perhaps giving up, had left and gone somewhere else.
“He was reciting some incantation for a while, deliberately leaving himself completely exposed, perhaps trying to provoke us. As a result of the barrier being strengthened, even sound was blocked out, so fortunately, we didn’t know what incantation he was reciting,” said Xerx.
“Fortunately?” Fidirg repeated.
“… If we knew, we might not have been able to hold our anger back,” Xerx spat, the anger and hatred that he felt for Farmaun made clear.
He likely felt a sense of having been betrayed as his master Zantark had chosen Farmaun as a champion and given him power, only for Farmaun to become an enemy later.
“After that, we decided that there was no time for us to wait for the races to learn and grow on their own,” said Mububujenge. “I sent Divine Messages and gave my divine protection to several people including Buugih, who became my heroic spirit and is now praised as the wise emperor, urging the races to stop the quarreling with one another, but that is another story.”
It seemed that there was a hidden secret behind the ‘Wise Emperor’ Buugih’s birth. Budarion was silently surprised at the revelation of the truth surrounding his ancestor.
“Ever since that time fifty thousand years ago, Farmaun has not shown himself. It’s likely that he has been kept completely occupied with governing the fire attribute in Zantark’s place, but… there is no guarantee that he will not show himself again,” said Xerx. “After all, from what we’ve heard from Merrebeveil, it seems that he has taken vigilant action, such as creating the organization that later became the Adventurers’ Guild.”
“It seems to be a well-made organization. It trains young people efficiently and mass-produces candidates for becoming future familiar spirits and heroic spirits… to think that he would come up with a scheme to gather more followers,” said Zanalpadna.
“It’s a cunning plan that puts even us evil gods to shame. From how he was when he fought the Demon King with us, I would never have imagined him doing something like that.”
Xerx, Zanalpadna and the other evil gods shuddered as they realized how useful the Adventurers’ Guild founded by Farmaun was.
“Eh? Was the Adventurers’ Guild created with that kind of intention?” Vandalieu asked.
“No, I do not believe that there were such intentions,” Merrebeveil corrected them hastily, before Vandalieu began to believe it. “Though in the end, one cannot say that the organization does not function in this way,” she added.
It was true that as an end-result, the Adventurers’ Guild supported and stimulated the birth of heroes, and many such heroes became familiar spirits and heroic spirits of the gods of Alda’s faction.
But it was clear that it wasn’t an organization whose purpose was to provide new fighting forces for the gods.
A number of small organizations similar to the Adventurers’ Guild had existed even before the Adventurers’ Guild was founded. Even if Farmaun hadn’t founded it, these small organizations would likely have unified into a single, larger organization to take up the role that the Adventurers’ Guild served in today.
Merrebeveil’s own hatred for Farmaun wasn’t small by any means, and she had no intention of defending him. But it wasn’t good to see imaginary conspiracies that didn’t exist.
“I see, so that’s how it is,” said Vandalieu, convinced by Merrebeveil’s explanation of this evidence.
“So, it was a coincidence,” Xerx murmured. “Still, even if he is our enemy, he was never the type to stage such conspiracies.”
But nobody took notice, nobody could take notice, of the greatest misunderstanding regarding Farmaun.
Ravovifard, the evil god of release, of whom there was only a single fragment left now. He was originally an evil god who had amassed a large amount of power on the Dark Continent. The reason he had made his advances on the region enclosed by the Boundary Mountain Range on the Bahn Gaia continent was because he had fled from the Dark Continent after being defeated in a battle against Zantark and the heroic god Farmaun about a hundred years ago.
In other words, Zantark and Farmaun had mended their relationship enough to cooperate and fight together as recently as a hundred years ago.
Even Ravovifard himself didn’t know whether that alliance was a temporary one to fight the battle against him or whether Zantark and Farmaun had truly reconciled. For him, a remnant of the Demon King’s army, those on Alda’s side and those on Vida’s side were both enemies, so it was unlikely that he had felt any need to investigate the matter.
However, Alda, the god of law and fate, had not departed from his policy of treating the members of Vida’s races and the remnants of the Demon King’s army equally as enemies until recently.
It would have been difficult for Farmaun to cooperate with Zantark, even temporarily, while still belonging to Alda’s faction.
Considering the above facts, it was highly likely that Farmaun had left Alda’s faction to start taking action on his own at some point after the war between Alda and Vida that took place a hundred thousand years ago, though it wasn’t clear when exactly this had happened.
Thus, it was possible that when Farmaun had already left Alda’s faction when he appeared here fifty thousand years ago.
But it was impossible for Xerx and Mububujenge to come to this conclusion, and even if they did, it was even more impossible for them to believe it. Not only that, but it would be difficult for them to discard their hatred from a hundred thousand years ago and shake hands with him.
So many of the gods in Vida’s faction had been lost, after all.
“Om, nom, nom.”
Of course, Ravovifard, the only being who knew this, had now been completely annihilated.
“… Hmm,” said Vandalieu, swallowing the last of the food in his mouth. “So, you want me to absorb the Demon King’s fragments so that you can strengthen the barrier to withstand a possible attack from Farmaun and the rest of Alda’s faction?”
The gods nodded.
“We are spending no small amount of our power on the seals on the Demon King’s fragments, and we must always maintain a reserve of spare power to suppress the fragments in times of emergency. If we are freed from this burden, many other things will likely become possible for us, not just the strengthening of the barrier,” said Xerx.
“To put it frankly, they will provide you benefits with these various things that will become possible, so that is why they are asking you to do this.”
“Apparently, they want to improve the barrier and make sure that nobody like Ravovifard can ever interfere again.”
“They’re saying, ‘help us,’” said Fidirg, explaining the gods’ intentions for Vandalieu.
An Elder Dragon with crystal horns that had remained silent up until now suddenly burst out in anger. “You bastard! Even if you are a god, an Elder Dragon like us at that, how dare you speak in such a… tone. P-please stop.” His shouting faded away, his voice losing all of its spirit.
Because countless horns of the Demon King had appeared all over Vandalieu’s body. With their tips facing the Elder Dragon.
At that moment, the seal on the Demon King’s fragment held by that Elder Dragon trembled, as if stirring. The Elder Dragon had softened his tone, instinctively realizing that at this rate, he would go down the same path as Ravovifard.
And then Fidirg hastily apologized to the Elder Dragon… Lioen, the crystal-horned dragon god.
“M-my apologies, Lioen-dono.”
“It seems that I said too much.”
“I’ll be more careful from now on.”
Fidirg understood that him being shouted at had caused Vandalieu to instinctively prepare himself for battle, but even so, he felt that it was necessary to reconcile by apologizing.
“I-indeed. I was also behaving immaturely. Let us both be more careful, brother,” the crystal-horned dragon god said.
The Demon King’s horns that were sprouting from Vandalieu’s body slowly withdrew back into him.
“The Demon King’s fragments are a source of power for me, and I can make effective use of them in a variety of ways. If taking them will lead to peace in this land, then there is no need for discussion. I will take them,” said Vandalieu, accepting this proposal, still completely oblivious to the fact that he had instinctively prepared for battle against the crystal-horned dragon god. “But in exchange, I have something to request of all of you as well.”
“W-what is it?” Lioen asked Vandalieu, who was now known to devour gods, with a stiff voice. Does he want my head? No, he wants me to hand over my flesh?
“Please lend me your strength in resurrecting my mother. I’m thinking of resurrecting her by creating a new body for her either by repairing Vida’s resurrection device or creating a Homunculus, and then putting her soul in there, but…”
The crystal-horned dragon god let out a deep sigh of relief. “S-so that is your request. I’m very glad to hear that.”
“No, no, no, I simply meant that I have heard from Merrebeveil, Fidirg and Zuruwarn-sama that you desire a way to resurrect your mother!” Lioen hastily corrected himself, seeing twisted horns emerge from Vandalieu’s entire body once more.
Among these corrected words was an unexpected name.
“Zuruwarn-sama?” Vandalieu repeated.
Zuruwarn, the god of space and creation, one of the gods who had likely helped in the Eighth Guidance members who had died in the foreign world of Origin being reborn as Legion, and given his divine protection to them.
From those actions, Vandalieu thought of him as an ally… or even if he wasn’t an ally, he was at least a friendly god, like Ricklent.
But he was not among the gods within the Boundary Mountain Range. Like the other gods who had been the primary gods of this world, Zuruwarn and Ricklent had lost their power and fallen into slumber before the Demon King was defeated by Bellwood and his allies.
The reason he was not here now was likely because the barrier put up by the gods also prevented Zuruwarn and Ricklent from entering as well.
“Yes,” said Merrebeveil, perhaps wanting to avoid the crystal-horned dragon god from speaking any more unwise words. “She apparently received a Divine Message from Zuruwarn over a year ago,” she said, pointing at a goddess among the other gods with a tentacle.
This goddess had the appearance of a human woman wearing a large, simple piece of white cloth with a hole for the head, holding a brush and a scroll. Thus, like Xerx, she stood out in this place that was filled with grotesque-looking gods.
“My name is Warnliza, the goddess of maps, a subordinate god of Zuruwarn-sama,” she said, speaking with a gentle expression. “I serve as the guardian goddess of the High Goblins in place of a comrade who was sealed away by Farmaun. I wish to offer my gratitude for saving my children during these recent events. I am grateful to Budarion and the children of Zanalpadna as well.” She gave a bow, and then began to speak of the contents of the Divine Message that she had received from Zuruwarn. “The Divine Message that I received from Zuruwarn-sama was that your wish will be fulfilled by Zakkart’s legacy that lies in the deepest chamber of the Trial of Zakkart, guarded by Gufadgarn, the evil god of labyrinths. Among the things that Zakkart left behind, the only thing that could be called a weapon was a prototype model for a firearm, so there should be something there that will make it possible for you to resurrect your mother.”
The Divine Message had also told Warnliza what kind of being Vandalieu was, and that she should share this knowledge with the other gods. But it seemed that she had deemed it unnecessary to inform Vandalieu himself.
Incidentally, Zanalpadna had sent a Divine Message to Queen Donaneris because she had received a Divine Message from Ricklent and Warnliza from Zuruwarn, and both of them had been told to inform their priests that Vandalieu would one day come to this land to challenge the Trial of Zakkart.
“Something that will make resurrecting Mom possible is in the deepest part of the Trial of Zakkart…” Vandalieu murmured.
He had originally planned to venture into the Trial of Zakkart to look for the corpse of the adventurer who had been Heinz’s ally, but his objective had changed the moment he heard this information from Warnliza.
He had to clear the Trial of Zakkart before Heinz at all costs.
“So, when will the Trial of Zakkart next appear within this region enclosed by the Boundary Mountain Range?” he asked.
He had to clear it, but he also had to do something about the suspicious events that had apparently been happening recently in the Sauron region, so if possible, he wanted it to be about a month or so away.
It was Xerx who answered his question this time. “It will probably be next year,” he said.
It seemed that there was more time than Vandalieu had expected.
“It should have appeared about half a month ago, but Ravovifard was likely wary of it,” Xerx continued. “He interfered with the Teleportation of Gufadgarn, the evil god of labyrinths. The next time it will appear is next year.”
“If that is true, would the Dungeon not appear when the evil god of labyrinths learns of Ravovifard’s defeat?” Gizania asked, but it seemed that things wouldn’t go that well.
Zanalpadna made a clicking noise as she answered. “Child of my own race, Gizania. The Teleportation cast by Gufadgarn to move the Trial of Zakkart is something that was cast long in advance, so it no longer functions according to Gufadgarn’s will. Immediately after receiving instructions through a Divine Message from Ricklent a hundred years ago, he created a Dungeon that would select Zakkart’s successor and began to roam the world, but his power does not extend beyond the inside of the Dungeon. He has likely not even noticed that Ravovifard interfered with his spell.”
It seemed that the Trial of Zakkart was in a state similar to autopilot as it disappeared and reappeared all over the world.
“I wanted to make various preparations so it’s fine that there is some time, but it does make me anxious that it’s over a year away. Do you know where it might appear other than within the Boundary Mountain Range?” Vandalieu asked.
He couldn’t get rid of this feeling of anxiety while knowing that Heinz, the S-class adventurer who led the Five-colored Blades, had his sights set on clearing the Trial of Zakkart.
But the gods, including Merrebeveil, told him that there was no need to worry.
“That evil god hates the believers of the gods in Alda’s faction from the depths of his heart. There are apparently an uncountable number of traps within the labyrinth, designed to obliterate those believers. Even if that Heinz and his companions were to challenge the Dungeon for a second time, it would likely end in failure,” Merrebeveil said.
“I see. That’s a relief to hear. Now then, could I have the Demon King’s fragments so that I can prepare to clear it?”
After Vandalieu and his companions left, the gods that had gathered here began remonstrating Lioen, the crystal-horned dragon god, and Fidirg.
“We warned you not to shout so much and be especially careful because he would be angry about matters regarding his mother, Lioen-dono,” said Merrebeveil.
“M-my apologies,” Lioen said.
“Fidirg, you said too much as well.”
“I, too, apologize.”
“I’ll be careful from now on.”
For the gods, Vandalieu was their savior who had defeated Ravovifard, but at the same time, he was someone whom they were unsure how to handle.
First of all, he was a mortal, not a god, but he possessed the power to kill gods and more Mana than most gods as well.
Despite that, he generally showed respect for gods as long as they were not hostile towards him like Ravovifard had been.
But even the gods that he respected could not give him blessings such as their divine protections, as he possessed too much Mana.
Even so, they would not have minded having an ordinary relationship between gods and a mortal, but… things didn’t look good when they, as gods, had to request something from him. Because as gods, they could offer him almost nothing as a reward.
“As we are now, we can’t even give him Artifacts, never mind divine protections. Ricklent-sama and Zuruwarn-sama made efforts for him, but us not doing anything is… awkward, even if Vandalieu himself doesn’t realize it,” said Rishare.
“That is why we decided to build a friendly relationship first and then find opportunities to repay the favor later… You should not talk to him so directly,” said Warnliza.
“My apologies, Rishare-dono, Warnliza-dono,” said Lioen. “But to think that he would be enraged to that extent…”
“It is not that he was angry, Lioen-dono,” said Fidirg.
“It was simply a reflex to prepare for battle.”
“I think he was probably nothing more than a little annoyed.”
Fidirg had once almost angered Vandalieu before, or perhaps he really had angered him. Thus, he thought that what the gods had witnessed earlier could not be described as anger.
It had been an unconscious reaction, similar to putting himself on guard.
Though the way that this reaction had manifested was extreme.
“… A countless number of the Demon King’s horns emerge from his soul when he is annoyed? I would not get away lightly if those were to impale me,” said Lioen.
“That is because it is his bare, exposed soul. The fragments of the Demon King that reside in him have already fused and become one with his soul. Therefore, they surface more easily when he does not possess a physical body,” said Warnliza.
The fragments of the Demon King Guduranis that resided within Vandalieu had already transformed. They were fragments of the Demon King, but at the same time, they were not.
They were already a part of Vandalieu. Even if the Demon King Guduranis were to be resurrected, fragments such as the Demon King’s horns would not return to Guduranis.
Because they had fused with Vandalieu to such an extent, they reacted sensitively in response to his emotions.
“Then should we not have invited him somewhere other than this place, Mububujenge?” Xerx asked.
Mububujenge’s lumps of flesh squirmed in response to this question. “Are you suggesting that we should have summoned him to a Church in another nation without giving any reason, even though my Church is so close by?”
“… If we were to tell him the reason, I suppose that would give us no ground to stand on,” Xerx murmured. He felt that gods telling a human, ‘We are scared and would like to conduct this audience in another nation, so please make the effort of going there,’ would be even more pathetic than kneeling on the ground.
“Leaving that aside, let us each do what we can as gods.”
“For example, the Title. Just as we agreed to previously.”
“… For the sake of Vida-sama, who will awaken one day.”
“For the sake of victory in the battle against Alda that will eventually come.”
“For the sake of our children, who are being oppressed even now.”
“We acknowledge this being as a champion,” the gods said in unison.
『The Levels of the Superhuman Strength, Rapid Regeneration, Automatic Mana Recovery, Venom Secretion (Claws, Fangs, Tongue), Enhanced Agility, Body Extension (Tongue), Surpass Limits, Soul Devour, God Devourer and Demon King Fusion Skills have increased!』
『Your Vitality has increased by 5,000!』
『You have acquired the Demon King’s Blubber, the Demon King’s Fangs, the Demon King’s Chin, the Demon King’s Eyeballs, the Demon King’s Proboscis, the Demon King’s Fur, the Demon King’s Exoskeleton and the Demon King’s Jointed Legs!』
『The Demon King’s Fangs and the Demon King’s Chin have fused into the Demon King’s Jaws!』
『You have acquired the Title of ‘Champion!’』
Vandalieu felt dizzy as he heard the announcer in his head going on and on the moment he left the Divine Realm and returned from the Dungeon.
It seemed that the announcer’s voice was not played for those in a pure-soul state.
“A-are you alright?” asked Myuze, supporting Vandalieu as he staggered.
“I’m alright,” Vandalieu said, clutching his spinning head. “I’m a little unsteady on my feet, though… I wonder why the Levels of my Skills increased just by acquiring Fragments of the Demon King? My Vitality increased, too. And I suppose the Title is from the gods calling me by this Title?”
He questioned why his Skills had improved, though he couldn’t think of what could have caused it. He had done almost no fighting in the Dungeon, too.
Was it because of that delicious food?
In myths and legends on Earth, there were foods that granted the wisdom to become a sage, longer life or even immortality when eaten. I think they were called pan tao peaches, soma and amrita, Vandalieu recalled.
That food had to be of a similar kind.
“Come to think of it, what kind of meat could that have been?” Vandalieu wondered.
“… Wasn’t it the sealed Ravovifard?” said Godwin.
“No, no, there’s no way that’s possible… is there?”
Far too late, Vandalieu became aware that he had eaten an evil god.
A group of people concealing their faces with thick, dark-green cloths around their heads ran through the land that had formerly been the Scylla territory, now occupied by the resistance organization known as the Sauron Liberation Front.
They were fast and had no wasteful motions in their movement.
They were members of the Hilt, the lower branch of the Fifteen Evil-breaking Swords, the prided secret organization of the Amid Empire.
Their main mission was to support the movements of the Fifteen Evil-breaking Swords. Gathering information in advance as they were doing now was also a part of their job.
But gathering information regarding the resistance should have been the work of the soldiers of Duke Marme, the one who had requested for the Fifteen Evil-breaking Swords to be dispatched, not the work of the Hilt.
Even Duke Marme had likely known that he would lose too much of his reputation if he left everything to the Fifteen Evil-breaking Swords.
But his army’s investigation had completely run into a dead end.
Mages trying to scout the area from above with flying familiars had gone mad one after another, and they had learned nothing other than the existence of monoliths and stone circles that hadn’t existed before the area came under resistance occupation.
They had tried forming units made mostly of criminal slaves to scout at the ground level, but not a single one of them had returned.
Perhaps having been driven insane by this utter lack of results, there had even been military officers suggesting that they take women and children from farming villages to use as meat shields as they searched for the enemy.
There had been no expectations placed on Duke Marme’s army to begin with, but this was too terrible.
That was why the Hilt had conducted their own investigation without permission from Duke Marme’s army. But they hadn’t produced results, either.
“… Is it around here where communication with them was cut off?”
“Unlike before, there are no monoliths and stone circles nearby. There’s no sign of anyone around, or any evidence of fighting.”
Two platoons had already been lost.
The Dirk unit had approached a monolith, and when they tried to investigate it, the monolith that had been turned into a Golem… a Rock Golem painted with the Demon King’s ink, had taken them by surprise and punched them, taking half of them down. The survivors that had returned with this information had gone mad, showing signs of mental illness.
This had made it clear that some or perhaps all of the monoliths were Stone Golems that would not only have negative effects on the mind, but attack those who approached them carelessly.
And as for the Dagger unit, their regular communications had stopped and none of them had returned.
But that in itself was important information. If it was the resistance that had taken down the Dagger unit, then something connected to the resistance had to be around this area.
The leader of the Scimitar unit raised his hand to give a hand signal to search for evidence.
“Are you people allies of the guys who came here before? You’re wearing similar clothes, so that’s probably right, isn’t it?” a deep voice suddenly said from overhead without warning.
The members of the Hilt in the Scimitar unit immediately scattered and spread out. They didn’t do pointless things like look up reflexively and shout, “Who’s there?!”
Miles’s lips that were painted with a vividly-colored lipstick rose in a ferocious smile as he saw their swift movements. “Your movements are just as good as the guys who came here before. Surrender if you value your lives. If you give us information while you’re still alive, we’ll give you special treatment, you know?”
The response to this offer was having knives thrown at him.
As they were knives designed to be thrown, their blades were small, but they were coated in poison. Miles avoided them by falling towards the ground of his own accord.
“I see, so your answer is the same as the guys from last time. Then… I’ll kill you!”
The moment Miles’s feet touched the ground, he broke into a fierce sprint. The members of the Hilt responded with the cold, hard resolve that could be expected from a shadow organization.
The members of the Hilt did not possess high combat capabilities. Thus, they knew themselves that defeating Miles would be difficult for them. Thus, they had come prepared with the resolve that only one member would run and return alive with information, while the rest would become sacrificial pawns to buy time.
“… Consecutive Throw!”
Two of them deliberately made themselves conspicuous and attacked Miles. Their weapons were coated in a deadly black poison, and even an experienced warrior who could see their intentions would be unable to ignore them.
But Miles charged straight towards the throwing knives, still smiling ferociously. “Iron Rend! Overarm Swing!”
He swung his extended claws and slashed through the torso of the first Hilt member, piercing the chest of the second one who had been throwing knives with Overarm Swing.
“A-a Vampire?! During the day, how?!” shouted a third member of the Hilt in surprise as he realized what Miles was after seeing him slaughter two of his companions in the blink of an eye with his claws.
Miles’s expression was completely unfazed despite having been wounded by throwing knives coated in a poison that should have had immediate effect.
And as Miles turned to face him, the third Hilt member dropped his knives and raised his hands above his head. “W… wait. I understand, I’ll surrender. I’ll tell you everything I know. So spare my life –”
“Flying Claw Slash.” Miles’s Unarmed Fighting Technique martial skill sent the head of the third Hilt member flying into the air.
“… He said that he would surrender,” said Iris, appearing from the direction in which the fourth member of the unit had tried to escape. Her sword was hanging from her hand, its blade stained crimson.
Miles gave a cynical laugh, giving the headless corpse of the third Hilt member a light kick. “That’s just one of the methods that these guys use. If they believe that they can’t win, one will try to escape and the rest will become sacrificial pawns to buy time. Some of them will draw attention by attacking, and once they fail, the last sacrificial pawn will surrender. And once I approach, he would use an explosive Magic Item to blow himself up. They probably decided upon these roles from the beginning. Self-destructive Magic Items aren’t things that can be easily mass-produced, after all.”
“That is… enviable. Ordinary organizations would not be capable of this. Do you know these people, Miles-dono?”
Assassins and spies that committed suicide when they were caught in order to protect their secrets were not uncommon. Iris herself carried a Magic Item that would end her own life.
But this behavior was a result of the determination of the individual, different from something forced upon the members by the organization.
The Noble-born Vampire Miles had once worked secretly in the underworld as the Pure-breed Vampire Gubamon’s subordinate, so Iris wondered if he had come across these kinds of people before, but that didn’t seem to be the case.
“No. I reported it, didn’t I? I killed five people that seemed to be either spies or assassins the day before yesterday. Those guys and these guys had the same methods. I’m sure they were following the same manual,” Miles sighed, thinking about how much trouble he had gone through the day before yesterday.
He had ended up killing all of them in the end, but his clothes had been burned by getting caught up in the explosion of the one blowing himself up and he had struggled in finding the one who had run away; it had been quite the ordeal.
“I see…” said Iris.
“It’s good that I’m stronger after having become an Abyssal Vampire, but because of that, my Warning Skill doesn’t respond to small dangers. It’s quite troublesome,” said Miles.
“So, what about their spirits?” Iris asked.
“Impossible. These guys had talismans of Alda sewn onto the insides of their clothes. Unless we strip their clothes off before we kill them, their spirits ascend the moment they die. And since they’re experts at blowing themselves up, their preparations to kill themselves is thorough. Knocking them out and capturing them is impossible. Of course, nobody can question their spirits except Boss, and I can’t see ordinary spirits even after becoming an Abyssal Vampire.”
“So, these are anti-Vandalieu-dono measures. I thought we had kept things well-hidden, but…”
Iris had thought that she had kept Vandalieu’s involvement well-hidden, but it seemed that information was something that would always be leaked sooner or later.
“That’s probably right; I want him to hurry and come here, but… According to Legion’s regular reports, things will be calming down over there soon,” said Miles.
“Well then, let us return for now,” said Iris.
“What are we going to do with these bodies? It’s possible that there could be some kind of clue on them,” Miles said, glancing at the corpses lying on the ground.
But Iris shook her head. “They’re the kind of people who carry Magic Items for self-destruction and talismans. It would be pointless to examine them. And it’s possible that Magic Items telling their employers where they are have been embedded all over their bodies.”
Neither she nor Miles noticed the small winged insect, about the size of the tip of a person’s finger, that was attached to her hair.
“They’re the kind of people who carry Magic Items for self-destruction and talismans. It would be pointless to examine them. And it’s possible that Magic Items telling their employers where they are have been embedded all over their bodies.”
“Bububuh… Close,” said the ‘Insect Swarm’ Bebeckett, one of the Fifteen Evil-breaking Swords, chuckling as he heard Iris’s words through the insect that he had planted on one of the Hilt members. “My insects transmit not only your location, but sound as well… bububuh.”
The small insect planted on the Scimitar unit of the Hilt delivered information to its master.
The following is from the Adventurers’ Guild’s records. Regardless of the truth, this is how the Majin race is perceived in human societies.
They are a race born between Vida, the goddess of life and love, and an evil god whose name has been forgotten in the present era.
Their appearances have characteristics that differ between individuals; the only features they have in common are two horns and a tail with a pointed tip.
Other features, such as the color of their skin, the number of eyes they have and the presence and absence of wings, vary wildly.
The Majin are broadly separated into the following categories. Battle-Majin Vandals, who are berserkers that possess sturdy, large bodies. Obscene-Majin Succubi and Incubi, who possess a devilish beauty and suck the life out of their victims. Beast-Majin Diablo, who possess many beast-like features. And the red-skinned Kijin High Ogres, the most numerous type, who are physically sturdy but inept in the use of magic.
But these are categories defined and named by the Guild; the Majin themselves do not categorize themselves in this way.
Other than the Kijin, the Majin are at minimum Rank 6, but there are also those at Rank 7, 8 or greater, and it is speculated that the Majin race’s base Rank also varies from individual to individual.
Many Battle-Majin are Rank 7 or greater, while Obscene-Majin and Beast-Majin are Rank 6. And Kijin are Rank 4. These are thought to be their average strengths.
Other than Kijin, Majin are gifted not only physically but also when it comes to magic, and they often possess a variety of other special abilities as well.
Most Majin do not have limited lifespans; they can live forever without aging as long as there are no external factors to cause death. But in exchange, they have a poor ability to reproduce. They are capable of conducting a ritual to transform members of other races into members of their own race to make up for this, but unlike the Vampires who use this process to rapidly increase their numbers, the Majin rarely conduct this ritual.
But there have been examples reported long ago that those charmed by Obscene-Majin are transformed into Majin themselves.
Also, the Majin as a race possess an ability that allows them to use Demons, monsters formed from contaminated Mana that has coagulated and materialized, and they often make up for their small numbers by using these Demons. This fact led to a deeply-rooted theory in the past that the Majin race was a superior race of Demons. However, this has been refuted in recent times by long years of study carried out by researchers.
Kijin, on the other hand, have limited lifespans and age, but in return have a superior ability to reproduce. Because their biology differs so greatly, there is a theory that they are of a different race from the Majin altogether, but Kijin and Majin often build a system where they cooperate with one another and other types of Majin often lead large groups of Kijin, so the more widely-supported theory is that the Kijin are an inferior race, or a subordinate race, to the Majin.
But such theories are irrelevant for adventurers. The important thing is that Majin are powerful but their bodies are treasure chests of materials that can become ingredients for an enormous variety of Magic Items and medicines. Also, the ‘Majin Slayer’ Title that can be gained from exterminating Majin is not at all inferior to the ‘Dragon Slayer’ Title.
According to another theory, the male parent of the Majin race’s ancestor is Zantark, the war-god of fire and destruction who fused with evil gods, and the Majin themselves adhere to this theory, but the Church of every god denies it.