Lightning flashed and thunder echoed across a land filled with nothing but crooked boulders and pools of magma, a place that looked like hell itself.
Luvesfol, the raging evil dragon god, had been captured by the Storm of Tyranny, the party led by the S-class adventurer Schneider, as he tried to flee to the Dark Continent after his priest, the Scaled King, was defeated by Vandalieu. Now, he was cowering as a fierce battle unfolded before him.
“H-hyih, these guys are monsters…!”
In this weakened form, his body would be broken apart by any single one of the shockwaves released by the attacks. That was how powerful the spells and martial skills being used were.
“Disintegrate into particles! Wave Burst Lightning!” shouted the pumped-up Pure-breed Vampire Zorcodrio… also known as Zod, whose entire body seemed to be a single mass of muscle, as his Muscle Technique martial skill exploded.
A violent lightning attack landed directly on a black-haired man with black eyes.
Someone whose physical strength was only a step or two into the realm of a superhuman would likely be incinerated and turned into particles in an instant by this lightning, just as Zod had shouted. The man’s face twisted in pain.
But he was not defeated. He staggered, but he quickly regained his posture.
“Ngh! An annoyingly tough guy!” Zod spat, looking truly annoyed.
“No, I don’t think he’d want to be told that by you,” said the Dwarf woman Merdin, narrowing her eyes.
Dolton, the Dark Elf with a mohawk, sighed in agreement.
“You two, the enemy is still standing! Why are you resting!” Zod shouted, suddenly opening his eyes wide.
Merdin and Dolton both shook their heads.
“Because I’ve attacked a hundred times already,” said Merdin.
“Me too. Or rather, I don’t even have any Mana left. And Zod, that was your hundredth attack just now as well,” Dolton pointed out.
“Muh, what a blunder… I appear to have miscounted. It cannot be helped,” said Zod, taking his eyes off the man and restoring his fangs and muscles.
As Zod’s back rapidly grew thinner, the man called out to him.
“Are you alright with that? You did say that was a hundred, but I don’t really care if you attack two hundred or even a thousand times,” he said.
Fatigue was slightly visible on the man’s face and audible in his voice. But despite having taken a hundred of Zod’s attacks, he still seemed quite composed.
“That is unnecessary,” said Zod. “I swore upon my ancestors that I would acknowledge you in exchange for receiving a hundred attacks.”
“I still have one left! And Schna has five!” said Lissana.
“Yeah, yeah, I’m gonna have you let me borrow some more of your chest, Great-Senpai-san!” shouted Schneider.
The two of them leapt forward, a gourd hanging from Lissana’s hand, while Schneider was bare-handed as usual.
Lissana transformed into her original appearance as Jurizanapipe, the evil god of degeneration and intoxication, raising the gourd to her lips and filling her mouth with the contents. And then she squeezed her lips to spray them over the man.
In an instant, the man was enveloped in a pale pink mist.
“Uguh! This is… harsh,” the man groaned.
His vision was distorted, the boulders beneath his feet feeling like they were swaying. His sense of smell and touch were numb as well, as if he were paralyzed. The alcohol created from Lissana’s Mana, as well as her saliva which was the saliva of an evil god, had combined to form a poisonous mist that enshrouded him and caused abnormalities in his senses.
And then the man saw the tips of a countless number of shoes in his distorted vision, but he simply stood there in a daze.
Of course, the owner of the shoe was Schneider. He had activated a Spear Technique martial skill with a kick.
The man was sent flying, unable to withstand his entire body, including his face, being battered by kicks that were as sharp as the stabs of a spear.
Schneider ran after him and activated even more martial skills. “Instant Flash – Culmination! True Mountain Breaker! Great Screw Thrust!”
He unleashed a Swordsmanship martial skill with his right hand swung like the blade of a sword, a Club Technique martial skill with his left knee and a Naginata Technique martial skill with his left hand swung from overhead.
Being slashed, struck and stabbed, blood sprayed from the man’s body.
But showing no mercy, Schneider raised the heel of his foot high above. “This is the hundredth! God Iron Sever! Eat this!”
With an advanced Axe Technique martial skill, the heel of his foot fell onto the man’s head. With a thunderous noise, the man crashed into the ground face-first, sinking deep into it.
Normally, no matter how high Level one’s combat-related Skills were, martial skills were impossible to activate without meeting the conditions needed to use them. In other words, if one was not holding a weapon, they wouldn’t be able to use martial skills of any Skill other than Unarmed Fighting Technique.
The conditions were somewhat flexible. Martial skills could be used with a wooden stick in place of a sword, spear or naginata, a stone axe in place of a club or vice-versa, an axe replacing a club… though this would result in a decrease in the power and effects of the martial skills.
But with the ‘True Warrior’ Unique Skill possessed by Schneider, he could activate martial skills using nothing but his own body.
This Unique Skill, an embodiment of the words, “Your own body is the greatest weapon,” was one of the reasons that Schneider had become known by the Title of ‘Thunderclap.’
Ordinary adventurers prepared their equipment before embarking on their adventures, based on the requests they had received and Dungeons that they would be going to, but Schneider traveled light, departing for the harshest of adventures with nothing but the clothes on his back, and he would quickly return home after succeeding in whatever he was doing.
Because Schneider didn’t need a single piece of equipment.
Perhaps because he didn’t enjoy being called something as exaggerated as a ‘true master of combat,’ he didn’t reveal this fact to anyone except those close to him, however.
Schneider exhaled as he looked at the man who was buried in boulders, even the back of his head not visible anymore. “Ah, that’s seriously tiring. So, Great Senpai, did it at least have a little effect?”
“… Not just a little, it had a lot of effect,” said the voice of the man who had received Schneider’s attack directly on his head as he dislodged himself from the broken boulders and stood up.
Considering that it had a lot of effect, the man seemed to have already recovered from the poisonous mist’s effects.
As I thought, Lissana thought, feeling disappointed.
“So, what will you do? The hundred attacks have finished, though I feel like even a thousand wouldn’t be enough,” the man said.
“We’ll leave it there,” said Lissana. “Even if we kept going, we’d just end up tiring ourselves out… It’s not like you’re asking us to forgive you with that, are you, Farmaun Gold?”
“Of course not,” replied the man… the heroic god Farmaun Gold, champion of Zantark, the war-god of fire and destruction. “Even I know that what we did can’t be forgiven by being hit a hundred times. But if you can acknowledge that I’m fighting on Zantark-oyaji’s side, then that’s enough for now.”
A hundred thousand years ago, Farmaun Gold had fought against Vida, the goddess of life and love, as a human whose lifespan had been extended by Alda.
Because back then, that was what he had believed to be right.
Former evil gods of the Demon King’s army had accepted Zakkart’s invitation and become allies, but Farmaun had been unable to trust them. After Zakkart’s death, there had been no telling when they would change sides and join the remnants of the Demon King’s army again.
He also hadn’t been able to trust in Vida, who allowed the gods who once belonged to the Demon King’s army to create new monsters to become their own followers.
And then he had been aghast when she mated with those evil gods to give birth to new races one after another. The Titans that she had created with the Sun Giant Talos, as well as the Drakonids, Beast-people and Dark Elves, were still understandable. But he could only think of the creation of races like the Scylla and Arachne as an act of insanity.
It had appeared to him as if Vida herself had become an evil god and begun creating more and more monsters.
And then she had accepted and mated with Zantark, who had fused with the evil god of dark dust and the evil god of evil darkness but lost his sanity, giving birth to the Majin and Kijin races.
Finally, even if the champion Zakkart had been on the verge of breaking down, she had turned him into an Undead and then mated with him, giving birth to the Vampires.
Once Farmaun learned of these two acts, he firmly believed that Bellwood was right in insisting that Vida had gone mad.
Farmaun had distanced himself from Zakkart ever since he had executed the plan to have the evil gods of the Demon King’s army change sides. When the Demon King was still alive, he had fought alongside the evil gods who had changed sides, like Fidirg, the dragon god of five sins and Merrebeveil, the evil god of slime and tentacles, but he had never thought of them as comrades.
He hadn’t believed that the new races born from such evil gods would be of any use in helping this world, which had been on the verge of ruin from the war against the Demon King, to recover.
In fact, he believed that they would become a future threat to the small number of humans who had managed to survive.
And under Alda and Bellwood’s command, alongside Nineroad and the other gods in Alda’s faction, he attacked the continent upon which the races created by Vida had built their cities.
During this time, Farmaun fought against Zantark. He had once revered Zantark, calling him “Oyaji,” but Zantark had become unable to even speak comprehensible words after fusing with evil gods, and the battle between them was fierce.
But before that battle reached a conclusion, the war between Alda and Vida ended. Farmaun’s side emerged victorious.
The cities of Vida’s races were destroyed without a trace remaining, the ancestor of almost every race slain. Zakkart, whose death had undergone sacrilege, fell into slumber, while many of the evil gods and those who supported Vida’s mad ideology were sealed away.
But the remnants of the Demon King’s army interfered, so the losses suffered by Alda’s faction were not small either, and they ended up allowing Vida, several of her subordinate gods and their races to escape.
After that bitter victory, Farmaun and the other champions devoted the rest of their lifespans, which had been extended by Alda, to restoring the world.
The results of these efforts were not perfect, but Farmaun was proud even now that they were satisfactory.
The humans, Dwarves and Elves, of which there had been only enough to maintain a single city if they were all gathered together, had grown into a population of tens of thousands within just a few thousand years.
And Nineroad had spread the techniques of taming monsters, founding the Tamers’ Guild, while Farmaun gathered all of the different Guilds of the cities that conducted hunting and gathering, founding the Adventurers’ Guild.
And after his death, Farmaun was entrusted with governing the fire attribute as a heroic god in Zantark’s place.
He hadn’t felt any doubts up until then.
While Farmaun was busy maintaining the world as a god in a faraway place, the humans continued to grow in number. But that stopped at a certain point.
As a result of many countries forming, the humans had begun fighting wars with one another.
That in itself perhaps couldn’t be helped. It was something that happened even in the foreign world of Earth in which Farmaun had been born, a flaw that humanity had not been able to overcome even in that world.
But the problem was that the humans were fighting one another, even though there were evil gods that were remnants of the Demon King’s army and numerous Devil’s Nests where monsters were rampant, even if they were now free from the evil gods’ control.
“If I was looking at things from the surface, it might have appeared that we were walking in place… or it might have even looked like we were progressing, slowly but surely. But the world can be seen clearly from a Divine Realm. We were taking three steps forward, then four steps back,” said Farmaun.
At the very least, this was how things had appeared to him.
The gods, including Alda, had been completely occupied with maintaining the world, and they were struggling to recover from the damage they had sustained in the war against the Demon King, as well as the war against Vida.
Meanwhile, there were remnants of the Demon King’s army moving in the shadows, evil gods like Hihiryushukaka, the evil god of joyful life, who had gained even more power than they had while the Demon King was alive.
And while Bellwood was around, Farmaun had believed in his words: “Now is a time of obscurity; we are standing at a crossroads where we can either be defeated by our hardships and put all of the effort and sacrifices made up until now to waste, or seize a shining future for ourselves!” But Bellwood and the evil god of sinful chains had struck each other at the same time, and Bellwood had fallen into slumber.
After that, Farmaun had become unable to suppress the doubts inside himself and started thinking about what he should do –
“Your brainwashing was undone,” said Lissana.
“… I am truly ashamed,” said Farmaun.
“It’s not like I don’t understand that you could get drunk on pleasant-sounding words, but don’t stay drunk for over fifty-thousand years,” said Schneider.
It was true that Bellwood had constantly stood at the front, pulling everyone forward, but when Farmaun reflected on the past and thought deeply about it, Bellwood had lacked long-term visions and had the notable characteristic of unconsciously taking the sense of values and knowledge from Earth as being absolute truths.
He had not introduced technology from Earth such as steam engines to the humanity of this world and forbidden them from developing it themselves, out of fear that it would pollute the nature before his eyes.
Immortality, Vampires, evil gods and the races of Vida who had inherited their blood were unconditionally evil.
Because of this, Bellwood’s way of handling everything had been haphazard, his choices perhaps correct in the short-term but often being great failures in the long-term.
He had been concealing this with his ability to get things done and his skill with words. Bellwood’s failures were not considered significant by those he had brainwashed, and when problems arose, he would divert everyone’s eyes away from them by blaming “enemies.”
The gods of Lambda, including Alda, as well as its people, possessed no immunity to such a malicious instigator, so they completely adored him.
“So, fifty-thousand years ago, you persuaded the other fire-attribute subordinate gods and heroic gods and left Alda’s faction?” asked Zod, his expression still filled with disappointment.
Farmaun gave a bitter smile. “Though you could put it that way, I haven’t managed to do anything important,” he said. “I went to apologize to Xerx-aniki and the others who are inside the Boundary Mountain Range, but they didn’t let me in, and now I’m going in and out of Zantark-oyaji’s land like this, but… I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been punched.”
“Fool, that’s only natural.”
“Be grateful that you weren’t killed.”
New voices joined the conversation; these were the ancestors of the Kijin and Majin races, and the subordinate gods who had served Zantark even after he fused with evil gods.
Farmaun had appeared before Zantark, who had been recovering from his wounds while protecting Vida’s children, the Kijin and Majin races, on the Dark Continent. Making no excuses, Farmaun had kneeled on the ground and said, “I’m sorry, I was wrong!”
Zantark’s subordinate gods, as well as the Kijin and Majin, had driven fatal blows into the back of his head. Unable to let this perfect opportunity to slay their sworn enemy slip away, they had shown no mercy or hesitation as they attacked him repeatedly.
Strangely enough, the one who had stopped them was Zantark.
He himself had also thought that Bellwood’s opinions were right until he fused with evil gods and left the frontlines of the battlefield, and most importantly, he was also partially responsible for failing to guide Farmaun, his own chosen champion, and being unable to correct his mistakes. So each person should only strike Farmaun a hundred times. That was what Zantark had told his subordinate gods.
As a result, Farmaun was attacked a hundred times by each of Zantark’s subordinate gods and every member of their races before finally being accepted to join their forces.
“But why did Alda leave you alone? From his point of view, you’re a full-on traitor, aren’t you? You joined Zantark and fought against an evil god,” said Dalton, looking at Farmaun with suspicious eyes.
Even if Alda didn’t have enough spare power to defeat and seal away a former champion who was now a heroic god, he should have at least sent Divine Messages to tell the humans that Farmaun was a traitor and forbid them from worshipping him.
“That’s because I’m still governing the fire attribute, even now,” Farmaun replied. “The world would be in danger if he were to eliminate me and the subordinate gods who followed me, so he can’t eliminate us even if he wants to.”
Alda’s faction already had their hands full; even though someone as important as Farmaun had turned traitor, it wouldn’t be easy for them to eliminate him.
There were some fire-attribute gods who had remained in Alda’s faction instead of following Farmaun, but those gods alone could not take Farmaun’s place.
Knowing this, Farmaun had left Alda’s faction in a bold fashion.
“I invited Nineroad to come with me as well, but she told me, ‘It’s too late to redo everything’… Leaving that aside, will you accept my request?” Farmaun asked.
Following Zantark’s example, Schneider’s party had agreed to forgive… acknowledge Farmaun after a hundred attacks, but before they even unleashed a single attack, Farmaun had requested something of them.
“Mediating things with Vandalieu, huh. Well, we have no choice but to do it.”
The Divine Message sent to Lissana by Ricklent, the genie of time and magic, the reason the party had come to the Dark Continent. The intent of that Divine Message was to make contact with Zantark, who otherwise could not be directly contacted because of the transformations his mind had undergone after fusing with two evil gods.
This task was already complete, but now they had to tell Vandalieu about Zantark, who still couldn’t move from the Dark Continent, and Farmaun, who was unable to enter the barrier surrounding the Boundary Mountain Range.
Even Schneider didn’t know what was going on inside the Boundary Mountain Range, but it was certain that Farmaun would be perceived as an enemy, just like he was fifty thousand years ago.
“So, well, I’ll give it a try,” Schneider said. “Though I haven’t met him yet, either. And I have to make all kinds of preparations after returning to the Bahn Gaia continent, so I think it’ll take a year or two.”
Schneider would cross the Boundary Mountain Range and meet Vandalieu. This would be a true nightmare for the Amid Empire and the Pure-breed Vampire Birkyne.
If hints of this movement were sensed, Schneider would meet relentless resistance. The settlements of Vida’s races that he had secretly protected would be attacked to send him warnings, and it was certain that they would at least prevent him from moving about.
“If things were going to turn out this way, we should have crushed the Fifteen Evil-breaking Swords properly,” said Dalton.
“No, they are very tenacious. Even if we were to try to crush them, we would never have caught them,” said Zod.
“They are a secret force, after all. They’re always scattered about, and even with our best efforts, we might be able to corner and defeat just one of them. If we want to defeat them, don’t we have no choice but to kill them when they come attacking us?” said Merdin.
“Anyway, I’m grateful that you’ll accept my request… also, I want to ask you to deliver one more message,” said Farmaun.
“What, that it’s alright for him to hit you a hundred times?” Lissana asked.
Farmaun shook his head. “I’m sorry, but I want him to leave hitting me a hundred times for later… since he can ‘break’ souls and familiar spirits.”
Including what the Adventurers’ Guild had done, Farmaun was aware that Vandalieu didn’t have a good impression of him, and it seemed that even he did not have the bravery to expose his body to a hundred soul-breaking attacks.
“… Umm, do I have to follow you as well?” asked Luvesfol.
Wouldn’t it be better for me to stay sealed here? he thought, having experienced such a soul-breaking attack himself.
“Yeah, it’s a pain to seal you away, so come with us,” said Schneider.
“I’m finished…” Luvesfol sighed, but there was a god who picked him up.
“No, he has not been remonstrated enough, so will you not leave him here? I shall watch over him properly,” said Tiamat, parent of the Drakonids.
She was a powerful figure among Luvesfol’s own race that he had betrayed, and like Zod and Lissana, she was someone that Luvesfol didn’t want to talk to much, but he felt grateful to her now.
“Really? Well, if we leave him with you, it’ll be fine even if he somehow manages to regain his original powers,” said Schneider.
“Yes, and if this Vandalieu comes here, we shall hand him back over,” said Tiamat.
“… I’m finished after all,” said Luvesfol.
The situation was developing rapidly, but at first, things had been going well for Miles.
It all began with the desertion of Baron Cuoco Ragdew, an important informant for the resistance organization that he had been sent to support, the Sauron Liberation Front.
For the Sauron Liberation Front, whose communication with the Orbaume Kingdom was delicate and unstable, the nobleman Cuoco and his vassals’ desertion was not something easy to take responsibility for, even though there were only a few of them in number.
However, the last time he had communicated with Vandalieu and Chezare using the death-attribute-magic-operated communication devices that used the spirits and shrunken heads of monsters such as Goblins, it had been decided to have him come to Talosheim, though only if he wanted to.
Cuoco himself hadn’t confirmed it yet, but with his personality, he would want to migrate to Talosheim where the producer of syrup was, even if he did so alone. And Iris and her companions would feel more at ease that way than sending him to the Orbaume Kingdom, where his desertion might not even be accepted.
But a miscalculation had occurred; the Mana put into the communication devices had reached its limits. Only Legion and Vandalieu, the creator of the devices himself, could provide them with Mana, so they were now nothing more than shrunken heads.
Thinking back on it, perhaps this had been an error.
Next, the resistance had taken in Cuoco’s family who had escaped in secret, then later regrouped with Cuoco, who had sneaked away with a very small number of his vassals. At this time, Cuoco had notified them that the Fifteen Evil-breaking Swords were on the move.
Cuoco had wanted to let them know earlier, but the lower organization, the Hilt, had already entered the Sauron region, so he had been unable to make any hasty moves.
Fortunately, there was still time, the resistance leader Iris Bearheart gathered the organization’s members even deeper inside their base in the former Scylla territory.
The abilities of Iris herself had improved several stages above what it had been before, and the resistance also had an elite force of Armor Tamers who wore Living Armors, led by Haj, as well as the Ghouls of the Sauron region who had begun to work together with them. And since Miles was here as well, the Sauron Liberation Front’s fighting strength was very much complete.
But this was not enough to make them feel secure against the Fifteen Evil-breaking Swords, a collection of warriors who were all as powerful as A-class adventurers.
That was why they had decided to hole themselves up in the former Scylla Territory which, with Vandalieu’s monoliths and stone circles, was now a labyrinth that was difficult to trespass into without a member of the Sauron Liberation Front to guide the way.
Iris and her companions, who had already been guided to the Demon Path, didn’t know what kinds of effects the monoliths and stone circles had. But since enemies that looked at them went mad one after another, and because the installations themselves were actually Golems, they acknowledged that they were very effective as traps for intruders.
Incidentally, it would have been troublesome for Cuoco and his family to go insane somehow while they were being protected, so they had blindfolded them.
Fortunately, they knew that Vandalieu would come soon. So, holding out until then wasn’t difficult.
And then they were supposed to explain the situation to Vandalieu once he arrived, asking him on whether they would withdraw the organization until the danger had passed or fight against the Fifteen Evil-breaking Swords.
“… Honestly, we were looking at things too naïvely,” Miles said, his lips stained crimson with his own blood and twisted in a self-deprecating laugh as he glared at the three assailants who had charged in after destroying the monoliths and stone circles.
“Hey, hey, don’t go taking the words out of our mouths, Vampire,” said a tall Elf man with slanted eyes – the ‘Five-headed Snake’ Ervine, the Fifth Sword – as he twisted the whip that had gouged out chunks of Miles’s steel-like body, as if making a display of it. “Leaving aside whether it’s the effect of a Unique Skill or Magic Item, I didn’t think that there would be a freak like a Vampire that can move about during the day… Could this be the Dhampir’s father?”
“I informed you about this, didn’t I? Bububuh… Do you not trust my insects?” said the ‘Insect Swarm’ Bebeckett, the Fifteenth Sword, sounding dissatisfied. “And he doesn’t seem to be his father. He calls him ‘Boss,’ after all,”
Bebeckett was a suspicious figure wearing a hooded robe that covered the whole body from head to toe; it was impossible to tell Bebeckett’s gender or age.
“Of course I don’t trust them,” Ervine said with a sneer. “How can I trust insects that only you can control? In fact, when I heard your report, I thought that maybe your brain had finally been eaten by your insects.”
As the atmosphere between the two grew more dangerous, the third member, a man, the only one of the three to actually appear to be a knight, stepped between them. He was the ‘Light-speed Sword’ Duke Rickert Amid, the Third Sword, and he had an Orichalcum Artifact hanging from his waist.
“Ervine-dono, Bebeckett-dono, how about we get to the matter at hand?” he said, pointing towards those around Miles with his gaze. “If we take too long, unlike that Vampire, the others will become unable to talk.”
Miles’s surroundings formed a tragic scene.
Haj and some others were just barely managing to stand, using their weapons to support their body weight, and there was no small number of people lying on the ground, not moving. Among them was Debis, the former mercenary who had been in a debt of gratitude to Iris’s father, George Bearheart.
And behind Rickert and his two companions were a large number of resistance members and Ghouls, lying face-down. Perhaps the three Swords had held back; many of their victims were still breathing, but there were also some who couldn’t be said to be alive or dead with a single glance.
“Even if they don’t want to talk, I don’t think it’s a problem, however,” said Rickert, looking towards Cuoco and the ‘Liberating Princess Knight’ Iris, who was bleeding profusely and unable to stand up.
“If that ‘matter at hand’ you speak of is to spare everyone else in exchange for me, then…” Iris coughed.
“Iris-dono, you are wasting your strength. It seems that they are determined to return with our heads,” said Cuoco.
I’ll have to give up on that syrup, he thought as he raised his sword with one hand, using the other to apply the Blood Potion that Iris had handed him during the battle onto her.
But Iris’s wounds showed almost no signs of healing.
“It’s useless; my holy sword Nemesis Bell does not allow any evil. It is an Artifact that obstructs light and life-attribute healing magic, possesses anti-Demon-King-fragment properties and anti-Vampire properties… it has the effect of nullifying the immortality of Vampires. Wounds inflicted by this holy sword cannot be healed by that Potion that is very clearly dangerous,” said Rickert.
But looking at it another way, other than these properties, it was a holy sword with nothing special other than being extremely hard and sharp. It had been bestowed upon Rickert by Marshukzarl as a symbol of authority, as legend said that it had originated from Bellwood. However, it had performed far beyond expectations during this mission.
Even now, the Blood Potion created from the Demon King’s fragments and the blood of Vandalieu, a half-Vampire, was showing almost no effects on the wounds inflicted upon Iris by Nemesis Bell.
“This is… Perhaps I should have brought some military-issue Potions when I left the occupying army,” Cuoco muttered.
“You can’t do anything about it now, Cuoco-chan. More importantly, what is this ‘matter at hand?’” Miles asked Ervine, who seemed to be the leader of the three, as he checked how loud the alarm sounds were from his Unique Skill, Warning, which alerted him of any danger.
“Ah, it’s simple,” Ervine said. “The one pulling your strings… He’s called Vandalieu, right? I’ve come to tell him to stop the games and join the empire.”
“… What did you say?” Miles looked at Ervine suspiciously. He put a hand to his ear, thinking that he had misheard.
“Did you not hear me? As that traitor over there has probably already said, we’re members of the Fifteen Evil-breaking Swords. We’ve come to tell the Dhampir Vandalieu of an offer directly from the emperor, that we’ll spare his life if he becomes a subordinate to the empire. So, where is Vandalieu? Or has he not arrived yet?”
Through Bebeckett’s insect that had infested Iris, Ervine and his companions had even known that Vandalieu was planning to come today. However, they hadn’t known what time he would be coming other than “before meal time.”
That was why they had made the first move, attacking a little early to ensure that talks would proceed with them having the advantage… to ensure that everyone could definitely be disposed of if negotiations broke down. They had been careful to check whether the Dhampir was among them, and the ‘King Slayer’ Sleygar, the Eleventh Sword, was standing by with members of the Hilt.
But there had been no signs of him appearing, nor any signs that he had escaped, so Ervine had asked this question thinking that Vandalieu had not arrived yet. But Miles, everyone else who was still conscious except for Cuoco and even Iris opened their eyes wide.
These guys were planning to negotiate like this?!
They had carried out a violent attack and asked no questions, leaving a trail of many seriously wounded people. It was possible that some had even died. And they had already declared that they would at least kill Iris and Cuoco.
It was impossible to comprehend trying to discuss things after that.
No, it’s not really that strange, is it? Miles thought. He quickly realized what Ervine and his companions, and what Emperor Marshukzarl of the Amid Empire who had sent them, were thinking, and recovered from his surprise.
“I see… you want to take the dangerous ‘brat’ playing king, brandishing his power with Ghouls and Undead, and make good use of him yourself,” Miles said.
It was nothing more than Marshukzarl and his subordinates misunderstanding Vandalieu. His personality in particular.
It was partially because they hadn’t been able to investigate Vandalieu because he had mostly been active on the other side of the Boundary Mountain Range, but from analyzing the incidents and damage that he had caused, they had decided that he was just a child wielding a special power.
That was why they were thinking of making him yield by threatening him under the pretense of negotiating.
Miles had been working in the underworld on the Orbaume Kingdom’s side of the continent, so he wasn’t particularly knowledgeable, but Marshukzarl, the current emperor of the Amid Empire, was probably one of the wisest of the rulers that had appeared in the empire’s history.
But his mindset was still prejudiced. He had lived through the complicated world of royals and nobles to reach the throne; it was impossible for him to understand and see things from the point of Vandalieu, who had been born a Dhampir.
Even I looked down on humans until just a short while ago, and no matter how smart someone is, they’d never know or believe that Boss was reincarnated here from another world with his memories intact unless they met him directly, so I can’t really laugh about it, Miles thought.
“That is right. Why a Vampire would refer to a Dhampir as ‘Boss’ is incomprehensible, but… so, when is he coming? If he is not coming, I will have you tell me how he is coming and going across the Boundary Mountain Range,” said Ervine.
It seemed that Marshukzarl, as well as Ervine and his companions, had completely misread Vandalieu’s personality.
“Let’s see, could we have you wait a little longer?” Miles said, trying to buy time, thinking it would be best to not have more casualties.
And, unexpectedly, Ervine appeared to prepare himself to wait. “I see, then we’ll wait a little,” he said. “Oi, Ricky-boy. While we wait, go and take the heads of the traitor and the Princess Knight. It would be problematic if they were to escape in the confusion or used a Magic Item that kills them and destroys their corpses. Once you’re done with that, go back without us.”
It seemed that they had no intentions of waiting quietly.
“Alright,” Rickert said despite looking fed up with being called ‘boy,’ pointing his holy sword towards Iris and Cuoco.
The extermination of the Liberating Princess Knight, which on the surface was nothing more than his mission, and the disposal of a traitor which was nothing more than a side-task. But if they could not produce visible results, the world watching them would take this as a failure.
Thus, they had already decided that Rickert, the Fifteen Evil-breaking Swords’ advertising billboard, would return with Iris and Cuoco’s heads.
“Cuoco-dono, I’ll buy us some time. So –” Iris began, trying to protect the still-healthy Cuoco while heavily wounded herself,
“Buying time is my job,” said Miles, standing in front of Rickert to stop him from going any further.
“… What is the meaning of this? Get out of the way. Your immortality is meaningless before my holy sword,” said Rickert.
“That’s right, Miles-dono. Vandalieu-dono entrusted you to me; there is no need for you to protect me!” Iris cried.
“Why are you agreeing with him?”
Being told to get out of the way by Rickert in front of him and Iris behind him, Miles grimaced at the sound of his Warning Skill growing louder and louder, and then exposed his fangs like a carnivorous beast as he laughed. “I came here because Boss told me to become your strength, you know? The thought of trying to tell Boss that I survived by abandoning you is scarier than dying!”
And even if he were to die, things wouldn’t end there. As long as he was Vandalieu's subordinate, he would have to worry about what would happen after his death up until the moment he died.
“I’m sure he wouldn’t be angry, but…”
“… After dying, we’d be worked so hard that hell would look like heaven.”
“Only after death?”
The half-alive, half-dead Haj and his companions mustered their strength and got to their feet. The cracked Living Armors they were wearing let out fierce groans as well.
Seeing this, Rickert felt an unpleasant premonition. “That woman will be dead in less than half an hour. Do you still wish to protect her?” he asked.
He pointed out the reality of the situation, but Miles and the others didn’t waver, glaring back at him as if to say, “so what?”
“It can’t be helped,” Iris murmured. “Cuoco-dono, please get away. I’ll… ask to be turned into a Living Armor. A sword father and armor daughter will go well together.”
Seeing the smile on Iris’s white, bloodless face, Rickert’s premonition became a certain belief. “Ervine, the negotiations with the Dhampir will definitely fail. I could bet my life on it.”
“Then we’ll simply dispose of him when they do. If you won’t do it, I will. I won’t harm her above the neck, so just cut it off,” Ervine told Rickert, and then he turned towards Miles and the others. “And you lot, if you think that I’ll sit here with this sweet face forever and not kill you, then –”
“Ah, it’s over,” said Miles, his blank voice cutting across Ervine’s irritated words.
“Bubuh, what? Have you given up?” asked the bewildered Bebeckett, who had intended to leave the negotiations to Ervine.
“No,” said Miles, looking refreshed now that the harsh alarm sound had stopped. “I meant that it’s over for you guys. Isn’t it, Boss?”
Before Bebeckett and the other two could understand what his words meant, an enormous shadow appeared over their heads without warning.
Bebeckett and Ervine saw Vandalieu, who had Teleported with Legion from Talosheim, looking at them.
And then black Mana poured out of his body with explosive force, engulfing Iris and the others.
A Title that can be obtained by someone who has come from another world (whether summoned, transferred by chance or reincarnated) once they are acknowledged by the gods and a large number of people (at least ten thousand).
This Title was gained by Zakkart and Bellwood who had been summoned by the gods from the foreign world of Earth, but they acquired this Title immediately as they were people summoned by the gods to begin with and praised by the people as “champions summoned by the gods” from the moment they came into the world.
This Title has effects such as improving the effects of any equipped Artifacts and possessed Unique Skills, lowering the difficulty of awakening superior Skills – effects that are meaningless unless one is a being fit to be called a champion.
Incidentally, those who were born and raised in this world such as the ‘Thunderclap’ Schneider and the ‘Blue-flamed Sword’ Heinz cannot acquire this Title no matter how much they are acknowledged by the gods and people.
In the case of Vandalieu, who was reincarnated in this world with the memories of his previous lives intact, Fidirg and Merrebeveil alone were not enough to fulfill the conditions of acquiring this Title, but he acquired it after the gods and people within the Boundary Mountain range acknowledged him.
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