Sleygar and most of the Hilt had been disposed of by Legion and the Dark Night Knights’ Order led by Isla.
But there was a single surviving Hilt member. His existence hadn’t even been known to Ervine or the other members of the Hilt to begin with. It seemed that Ervine had vaguely guessed that someone would be there in the shadows, but he hadn’t known where they would be or how many of them there were.
He had been devoting himself to gathering information from a place distant from Ervine and the others. And he had simply watched Rickert and the other Hilt members being killed, continuing to gather information without coming to Rickert’s aid.
And once the battle was over, he had focused solely on escaping. He had passed through the region, ignoring the occupying army’s headquarters where Duke Marme was, to pass on the information to other members of the Hilt who had been on standby.
“… If only it ended as a needless concern,” muttered Marshukzarl Amid, the Amid Empire’s emperor, as he passed his eyes over the report that contained this information.
He had not intended to use the four members of the Fifteen Evil-breaking Swords, his own nephew Rickert among them, as sacrificial pawns. If it were a situation of emergency… even in situations of emergency that exceeded all expectations, he would send enough members to overcome them.
The insects used by the ‘Insect Swarm’ Bebeckett should have been able to exterminate Vandalieu’s Undead, even if there were a thousand of them… Even if there were several thousand of Undead the insects should have been able to suppress them.
The ‘King Slayer’ Sleygar should have been able to assassinate Vandalieu while Bebeckett’s insects suppressed his Undead.
And the ‘Five-headed Snake’ Ervine was skilled enough to have aimed for promotion to S-class if he were an adventurer. He had been given not only Artifacts but Demon King equipment as well, so he should have been able to exterminate Vandalieu even if he did wield fragments of the Demon King.
The ‘Light-speed Sword’ Rickert was inferior to the other three in combat ability, but he was certainly strong enough when compared to other knights. With the holy sword Nemesis Bell and Light-speed Sword Technique, a superior version of the Swordsmanship Skill, he shouldn’t have been a burden to the others.
But according to the written report, none of the things that ‘should have’ happened had become reality.
Bebeckett’s insects had been stolen, and Sleygar’s assassination had failed despite successfully decapitating his target. Ervine had fought bravely, successfully drawing out the powers of Vandalieu who had been shrouded in mystery up until now, but he had ultimately been defeated.
Rickert had fallen to the mysterious power of a grotesque monster.
“To think that my expectations were thoroughly out of order… Perhaps I have grown old,” Marshukzarl said to himself as he stroked his face.
He was over a hundred years old, but as one would expect of a half-Elf, there wasn’t a single wrinkle on his skin.
Marshukzarl was sitting in a conference room that had been built alongside his office for the purpose of discussing high-confidentiality matters. The people gathered in this room had serious expressions on their faces.
“Your Majesty, it is not the time to be making such jokes,” one of them said.
Other than Marshukzarl, there was the surviving Hilt member himself, who had returned through the Teleportation spell of a space-attribute mage of the army, the ‘Zero Sword’ Carmine representing the Fifteen Evil-breaking Swords, General Hewberry who led the First Army that protected the emperor, and Chief Imperial Mage Bangain. The others in the room were Marshukzarl’s retainers that were also closely trusted.
“There has been an emergency report from the Sauron region headquarters, saying that the vassals and knights of Duke Marme were assassinated or taken captive in broad daylight. And it seems that the duke himself has been abducted by the perpetrator as well… except for the skin of his head from the neck up.”
By the time the soldiers had noticed something strange and entered the building of the headquarters, the inside of the building had already turned into a sea of blood. Because the smell had been erased by some kind of spell, nobody had noticed.
And the mask-like skin of Duke Marme’s head from the neck up had been nailed onto the wall of his office, with the separated left and right halves of Rickert’s decapitated head on the floor below it.
Several of the employees, servants and soldiers who were supposed to be in the building were safe, but their memories had somehow been erased, and none of them could recall what had happened.
“The culprit is clearly Vandalieu himself or his subordinates, but that is not all. The army headquarters is a melting pot of chaos. Not waiting for an order to arrive from the empire, one of the commanders of Duke Marme’s army led a unit into the former Scylla territory to try and rescue the Duke, but there has been no contact from them since. It is likely that…”
“It is only a matter of time before the Orbaume Kingdom learns of this emergency situation… no, they may have already caught wind of it,” said General Hewberry.
His apprehensions were correct. The news of Rickert being dispatched was well-known in the empire, and a portion of Duke Marme’s army had made moves of their own. If the Orbaume Kingdom still hadn’t noticed anything unusual after all of this, their intelligence departments could only be considered incompetent.
However, Marshukzarl directed his gaze not at General Hewberry, but at Chief Imperial Mage Bangain. “Do you have any clues regarding the peculiar spells mentioned in the report?” he asked.
“I am embarrassed to say that I can only make conjectures,” Bangain said, and then he closed his mouth again. But as Marshukzarl silently motioned for him to continue, he reluctantly began speaking again. “The peculiarities, such as the fact that the spells are different from any spells of any of the attributes in our records, and the fact that he makes use of special Ghosts, are conspicuous. But looking at the report, one might think that there are many spells that could be associated with death. From this information, we can imagine that he has either reversed the effects of the life attribute, or… is using the magic of death that was said to be wielded by the Demon King Guduranis.”
“That’s impossible,” muttered several of Marshukzarl’s vassals as they stirred and began talking among themselves at this sudden mention of a being and magic that were only spoken of in myths.
But Marshukzarl’s response was different. “I see,” he said with a nod, and then he sighed deeply. “He uses the fragments of the Demon King as if they were part of his own body, so I suppose it is no surprise that he can use the Demon King’s magic. And he is served by numerous high-Rank Undead; he is already like the Demon King himself.”
“Your Majesty! As we have mentioned, this one Dhampir is not the only problem. At this rate, the Sauron region will be stolen back by the Orbaume Kingdom!” said Hewberry, speaking with the loud voice that one would expect from a military man.
“That’s exactly right, Hewberry.” Marshukzarl suddenly opened his eyes wide and rose from his seat. “Give the Sauron region to the Orbaume Kingdom!” he said bluntly.
“As you wish! We will give the Sauron region… Your Majesty, what did you just –?!”
“I said to give it back to them. Did you not hear me? Aren’t you the one who originally suggested this?”
“I-I did not say that we should give it back to them! What in the world are you thinking?!” Hewberry asked, his face turning pale.
“Getting rid of a nuisance, of course,” Marshukzarl replied. “Carmine, that Hilt member had the Measurement Unique Skill, didn’t he?”
The Measurement Unique Skill, as its name suggested, was a Skill that allowed the user to measure objects that he saw. It didn’t allow the user to see everything on the target’s Status like Demon Eyes of Appraisal, but it was effective for gathering information.
“I give you permission to speak. Report your information on Vandalieu,” Marshukzarl said to the Hilt member.
“As you will. At the time I saw him… Age, nine. Titles, nine. Jobs previously experienced, twelve. Passive Skills, eighteen. Active Skills, twenty-six. Unique Skills, eight,” the Hilt member reported in a matter-of-fact tone.
Many, including General Hewberry, gasped.
The Titles were still understandable. There were plenty of incidents in the past where rulers who were overly fond of their children had given them Titles.
But at the age of nine, this boy had reached Level 100 with twelve Jobs, and possessed a combined total of forty-four Passive and Active Skills. And though it was rare to possess even a single Unique Skill, he possessed eight.
The Skills’ names and Levels were unknown, but considering his battle against Ervine, there was no doubting that he was a threat equivalent to an S-class adventurer.
… The truth was that Vandalieu had gone through yet another Job-change after the Hilt member had used Measurement on him, however.
“What about the other Undead and Vampires?” Marshukzarl asked. “Report only their Ranks.”
“… The lowest among them was Rank 7; the highest was Rank 12.”
The vassals’ unrest grew even greater.
“The lowest among them was Rank 7… That is exceptional even among Undead!”
“And the highest was Rank 12?! Depending on the individual monster, that’s a Rank where the monster might possess power rivaling an Elder Dragon or an evil god. We must notify every Adventurers’ Guild and Mages’ Guild right away!”
“Your Majesty! We must check the remaining Nemeses and Demon King equipment in the depths of the treasure chamber. We should give them to suitable individuals and have them begin their training at once!”
“It seems that you have managed to feel the same sense of crisis as me,” Marshukzarl said.
Hewberry and the vassals closed their mouths and directed their attention to him.
“But it is still not enough,” Marshukzarl continued. “With Teleportation, he is able to cross the Boundary Mountain Range freely. On the other hand, it is nearly impossible for us to cross it.”
The enemy could attack freely with an unmatched army of powerful Undead, while the empire was incapable of making a counterattack.
If Vandalieu wished to do so, he could spread disease to the empire’s grain-producing lands. He could recreate the tragedy of the cultivated land of Balcheburg in the Mirg shield-nation as many times as he wanted.
For Marshukzarl and his nation, that was more of a threat than his ability to destroy familiar spirits.
In this situation of unprecedented crisis, the vassals did not even have time to murmur among themselves.
“But what does this have to do with giving the Sauron region to the Orbaume Kingdom, Your Majesty? Could it be that you intend to get the Orbaume Kingdom involved in the battle against this new Demon King?” asked Chief Imperial Mage Bangain, breaking the silence.
“Exactly,” Marshukzarl said with a nod. “It is unclear what Vandalieu thinks of the kingdom, but it is certain that he will not join it. In fact, the Sauron Liberation Front, whose strings he was pulling from the shadows, was not able to coordinate their actions with the kingdom.”
“That is true… according to the reports of our spies, the nobles of the kingdom took in Duke Sauron’s orphans… the main faction took in his second son, the next largest faction his fifth son, and the last, his third daughter has… deserted, if I am not mistaken. Either way, it is likely that the Sauron Liberation Front was a nuisance for them.”
There had been abandoned noblemen among the ranks of the Sauron Liberation Front led by Iris, such as the last-born, adopted or illegitimate children of noble families. If they were to make achievements, the reputations of the main families who had fled to other duchies would become worse, the benefits of supporting other duke families and having connections to other noblemen decreasing substantially.
Iris and Vandalieu hadn’t realized this, but this was the dirty reason for coordination between the Sauron Liberation Front and the Orbaume Kingdom not going well.
The reason the now-deceased Raymond Paris had been able to coordinate activities with the kingdom was because he had succeeded in those dirty political negotiations.
And the leaders of the Amid Empire, which had been crossing swords with the Orbaume Kingdom for a long time, were aware of this. They knew how rotten the inner circles of that nation were. It wasn’t just the Hartner Duchy, which had abandoned Talosheim two hundred years ago. The corruption had spread into the deepest parts of the nation.
Considering Vandalieu’s personality, of which they had now learned through recent events, it was impossible to imagine that things would go well between him and the kingdom. Even excluding the fact that Heinz, suspected to be responsible for the death of Vandalieu’s mother, was a national hero there.
“I see… So, we will conduct a pincer attack against Vandalieu from both the east and the west?” asked Hewberry.
“It depends on the circumstances when the time comes,” Marshukzarl said, giving a simple response.
I can’t imagine that the kingdom would join forces with my empire just because a common enemy has appeared. And even if Vandalieu is a monster, he is no fool. Just as he did with Baron Ragdew, he is likely to create several allies in the kingdom as well… though his choice of ally was quite strange. At any rate, this is unlikely to turn into a full-scale war against the kingdom.
Depending on the circumstances, it might even be best to try and reconcile with Vandalieu. Marshukzarl would offer several heads including his own, an enormous sum in reparations, a vast amount of land and tens of thousands of commoners. It would be most satisfactory if this could lead to the empire’s continuation, leaving power for the next generation and a possibility for the empire to gain prosperity once more.
But I suppose I cannot convince those around me to agree to this. The position of emperor is one of suffering, Marshukzarl thought as he called an ending to this secret meeting so that he could begin discussing the abandonment of the Sauron region with the marshal, who had not been called to this room.
Iris was melting in a sea of warmth.
The pain of her wounds inflicted by the Nemesis Bell wielded by Rickert, her suffering, her body and her senses had all disappeared.
They had not been lost due to her fatal wound; she was simply melting strangely in a pleasant slumber.
Everything melted, and only her consciousness was left. But at that moment, like reverse-regeneration, her senses and the sensation of her body returned.
“Your state is like that of a chrysalis. You will be melted once, and then your entire body will be recreated once more. In other words, you are being reborn,” said a voice that Iris had never heard before but sounded very familiar at the same time. “The difference between you and a chrysalis is that this process will take less time. About seven days and seven nights. Tonight, you will be reborn. As my daughter.”
Iris could see a large silhouette on the other side of a red membrane. Instinctively, she reached out with her arms and tore at the membrane from the inside.
The moment she did, the fragile membrane broke and the blackish-red fluid that had been inside the membrane with Iris gushed out, throwing her outside.
Lying on a cold floor, Iris spat out the fluid in her lungs. “Air is so pleasant… Godwin-dono,” she said, speaking her first words after her rebirth as she looked up at Godwin, king of the Majin.
Godwin let out a hearty, satisfied laugh. “To think that you can speak as soon as you’re reborn. The emperor was right to leave this to me. Normally, you’d be falling asleep like you’re losing consciousness, not speaking words.”
Vandalieu had asked Godwin to transform Iris into a member of the Majin race.
“I am grateful to you for accepting this unreasonable request on this occasion,” Iris said.
“You’re too formal, my daughter,” said Godwin. “I don’t mind if you think of me as your second father. And it’s most satisfactory that I could take care of it with just seven days and seven nights’ work.”
The one Vandalieu had asked to turn Iris into a member of Vida’s race was Majin king Godwin.
When Vandalieu suddenly appeared and made this request, Godwin had been hesitant at first to conduct the ritual needed to transform a member of another race into a Majin. It was a ritual that Godwin himself had never performed, one that had not been performed by any Majin for thousands of years.
But the moment Vandalieu said, “I request this as the emperor,” Godwin had placed his fist on his chest and said, “Leave it to me,” taking responsibility for this task… Because with this achievement under his belt, he would most absolutely not be considered a candidate to become the next emperor.
“Let’s see… Since you call your other one ‘Chichi-ue,’ how about calling me ‘Papa-ue?’” Godwin suggested.
“… I would very much prefer another way of referring to you,” said Iris.
The Majin race could turn members of humanoid races and other races created by Vida that didn’t originate from monsters into members of their own race. There were several different variations in the ritual used to carry this out.
One of them was the blood cocoon of the Battle-Majin Diablo like Godwin.
A special magic circle was drawn, a special vessel that the Majin called the holy grail was placed at its center and the blood of the Diablo that would become the parent was poured into it. An additional sacrifice… a great amount of Mana and Vitality, in the form of another’s blood, was also offered.
With this, a cocoon-like object made of blood was created. And once the one who wanted to become a Majin was placed inside, they would be regenerated and reborn as a Majin after seven days and seven nights.
“Is that so? Well, I don’t care what you call me. What’s important is the feelings of deep affection in your words. In any case, I’ve said this many times before, but it was my first time conducting this ritual. It was bothersome, painful, I had to go through a lot for the sacrifice, and I had to sit here and talk about this and that in front of the cocoon for seven days. But it seems that it was worth the effort and the results are superb. You’ve transformed well,” said Godwin as he examined Iris, his new daughter, from the ends of her horns to the tips of her toes.
Her base appearance was the same as the previous Iris. But her skin was blue and her eyes had become a golden color. There were two twisted horns protruding from her temples, membranous wings similar to a bat’s or a dragon’s on her back and there was a tail with a triangular tip growing from her tailbone.
She was a complete Majin.
“Is it because of Legion’s meat? I get the feeling that you have a bit more meat on you now… When you went into the cocoon, you were haggard and on the verge of death, so maybe you just looked thinner than you do now. Well, you seem to have become a fine Majin, an Obscene-Majin Succubus. The emperor and I can be proud of this,” Godwin remarked.
“… Godwin-dono, are those supposed to be words of praise?” Iris asked, frowning as she covered her body with her newly-acquired wings.
But Godwin didn’t seem to take notice of this. As a side-effect of the ritual, his feelings for her felt as if she were his real daughter, so he didn’t think of her as a member of the opposite sex.
“Hmm? I did mean that as a compliment. To begin with, when humans and Elves transform into Majin, unless they’re half-Titan or Beast-person or Drakonid or some other race with large bodies, they almost always become Obscene-Majin,” he explained.
It seemed that with the Majin race’s ritual, the parent being a Battle-Majin didn’t guarantee that the child would transform into a Battle-Majin as well.
Apparently, only the race and physique of the person being reborn were relevant.
“Anyway, don’t worry about it. I don’t know what’ll be said about you in the outside world, but just because you’re a Succubus doesn’t mean you have to behave like one. It just means you can suck vitality and disguise yourself as a human or a member of another race, though it only works against the opposite sex,” Godwin told her.
But even so, Iris couldn’t shake off the image of Succubi and Incubi held by human societies, so she couldn’t think of these words as a compliment.
“Well, first of all, it’d be best if you put on some clothes and go and show your face to the emperor and his subordinates outside. The newest trend in the Majin nation has been prepared to celebrate your birth,” Godwin said, pointing at a basket.
The basket contained clothes… apparently.
“Umm… it appears to me that there is only strangely-designed underwear in here,” said Iris.
The basket contained something that Vandalieu or Legion would think was a swimsuit if they were to see it.
“Hmm? There are other things as well as the underwear, look. We thought that it’s a bit too early for you to get armor, so that’s not there yet,” said Godwin.
“No, I’m saying, I need clothes…”
“And I’m saying, those are clothes.”
Through this mismatched conversation, Iris suddenly realized. This underwear-like clothing was the latest trend in the Majin nation.
She looked at Godwin again and saw that he was only wearing knee-length pants made of fur with a netting pattern in them; the only other items on his body were his armor and various decorations. Looking at him calmly, she thought that he was exposing quite a lot of himself.
“… When I was asked which race I would like to be reborn as, perhaps it was hasty of me to answer that I wanted to become as strong as possible so that I would not be a burden to anyone again,” Iris muttered.
“You don’t have to make a face like you’re about to die again. It’s not like you can’t wear anything other than your clothes. Well, you need holes for your wings and tail, so you need to be a bit craftier than humans,” said Godwin. “Hmm, maybe the clothes that were the trend a while back would have been better?”
Godwin comforted Iris, who had been raised in a strict household of knights, as he went to fetch the clothes whose design had been popular in the distant past… clothes that weren’t revealing but were heavily over-decorated with sinister-looking things like skulls and eyeballs.
“Griiiiiill~” Vandalieu said happily.
He was cooking Bugitas’s meat on a charcoal fire outside the Majin nation’s ritual grounds. Two quivering antennae were protruding from his forehead.
“What a pleasant smell,” said Myuze.
“It is, isn’t it?” Vandalieu agreed. “My antennae are moving on their own.”
“Not your nose?! Van-kun, has it already become normal for you to have antennae growing from your head?!” exclaimed Privel.
“… Boss has really gone from being a person to more of an insect…” muttered Debis.
“Hyih! It wasn’t a complaint, Pete-Danna!”
Having abducted Duke Marme and others and then invited the ones with promise to join his side, Vandalieu and his companions had come to visit the Majin nation once more, on this day when Iris’s ritual was set to be complete.
Among them were the senior resistance members of the Sauron Liberation Front, Debis as well as those who could be quickly gathered among Haj’s group.
Having transformed into a Majin, Iris could no longer continue leading the resistance as she had done up until now. The Majin were not recognized as people in the Orbaume Kingdom, either. In fact, they were treated as monsters, targets to be exterminated.
That was why Iris would set up a new leader on the surface and give commands from the shadows. But she couldn’t tell the lower-ranking members that their leader was actually a Majin, so only those whom she trusted had been brought here through the method of having Legion temporarily absorb them.
Privel, Myuze, Gizania, Zadiris and other members had been brought along as well, except for Budarion and the others who were busy rebuilding their nations.
They had come to have a kickoff party that was also celebrating Iris’s rebirth.
Tarea called out to Vandalieu with fire in her eyes and scissors in her hand as she cooked the meat. “Van-sama, one more time, please! The next one should be as gentle as possible, but with the same strength!”
“Okay,” said Vandalieu.
His hair lengthened explosively. But Tarea cut and harvested it until it was back to its original length.
“Ufufufu, such soft hair… It is more like soft fur than hair,” Tarea said. “But at the same time, it is strong and withstands impacts and slashes, and it even has outstanding fire resistance and defense…”
Haj and his companions backed away a little from the sight of a Ghoul woman with ringlets wearing a strangely-designed dress, hugging and pressing her cheeks against Vandalieu’s hair with a twisted expression that looked as if she were going to start drooling at any moment.
It was enough to make them forget that Tarea was a beautiful woman with an attractive figure.
“Van-sama, every time you leave, you come back to me more wonderful than ever,” Tarea said. “Just how much do you have to charm me before you are satisfied?”
“You mean he provides wonderful materials, do you not? Tarea, please do not tire Danna-sama out too much,” Bellmond warned her.
A mean-looking smile appeared on Tarea’s loose, twisted lips. “Ah, you do not need to tell me that, Bellmond. All of this is for making the special brush that Van-sama asked me to make.”
“A-a brush, you say?!” Bellmond instinctively clutched her bottom… or rather, the long, fluffy tail extending from it, as she backed away.
Her tail, which could mow down warriors in Adamantite armor with a single swing, was sensitive when brushed for some reason, and this was her weakness.
What would happen if it were to be brushed by a brush made of the Demon King’s fur…? The thought was terrifying.
“Danna-sama! Please reconsider, right this moment!” Bellmond pleaded.
“Hmm? The brush is for Gizania,” said Vandalieu.
“… Eh?” said two voices simultaneously.
Bellmond stared at Vandalieu blankly, while Gizania looked surprised at the sudden mention of her own name.
“The fur on Gizania’s lower body is harder than it looks, so normal brushes would probably be quickly ruined if they were used on her fur. That’s why I thought a specially-made item would be necessary and asked Tarea to make it,” Vandalieu explained. “But it seems that you want one as well, Bellmond, so I’ll reconsider things and make one more.”
“D-DANNA-SAMAAAA!” Bellmond cried sorrowfully.
“I wasn’t lying~!” Tarea said with a loud laugh behind her.
“Vandalieu-dono, we Arachne, especially large-build Arachne, certainly have hard fur on our lower limbs, but…” said Gizania.
“Well, everything is a challenge,” said Vandalieu.
“Van-kun, pay attention to me too~!” said Privel, extending her arms and tentacles at the same time and wrapping Vandalieu in them.
As Vandalieu continued cooking the meat with his arms protruding from the gaps between the tentacles, Gizania decided to give up on trying to change his mind.
Haj, Debis and the others watched this scene with stiff smiles on their faces, keeping their distance. They would definitely never feel jealous of Vandalieu.
Because if they were to be caught up in that, they would have a bone or two easily broken. All of the women possessed the Superhuman Strength Skill, and Gizania and Privel in particular could be considered to be heavyweights if their lower bodies were taken into account.
It was surprising that Vandalieu was still unharmed.
“Should we just become Majin as well?” one of the female resistance members said jokingly.
“Hey, there won’t be any candidates to become the new Princess Knight if we do that!” said another.
“Indeed. Do not say such rash things,” Zadiris said, scolding them. “The boy and Legion offered their own Mana and Vitality as sacrifices necessary for the blood cocoon ritual. And the Majin that will become the parent must accompany the child for seven days and seven nights. It is not a ritual that can be performed so easily.”
The women looked downcast as they hastily apologized to Zadiris, who looked younger than them in appearance.
“Don’t say that, Mother. It’s not such a heavy burden on Van and Legion, so they probably didn’t feel like it was anything serious,” said Basdia.
Her words were not insincere words of comfort for the resistance women; they were true.
Vandalieu and Legion had offered their own Mana and Vitality for the ritual. Ordinarily, the amount of each required would be considered extensive.
Normally, the Mana and Vitality necessary for the sacrifice would be extracted from monsters captured alive by Majin warriors and mages, but that would need the efforts of several hundred individuals.
But for Vandalieu and Legion, the cost was not particularly heavy. In fact, Vandalieu had said, “This is much smaller than the amount needed to fire Death Cannon once.”
As for Legion –
“That’s right, you don’t have to worry about us. We’ll recover quickly, and it costs us less than the pieces of flesh we were throwing at Rickert when we fought him,” Legion said as they ate a frankfurter.
These really were not great costs to pay.
“Well, that is true, but –” Zadiris began.
Jadal, Basdia’s daughter and Zadiris’s granddaughter, called out to her. “Obaa-chan, give me some vegetables~”
“Oh, Jadal, you are such a good girl who is not picky with food,” said Zadiris, her grim expression loosening into a doting one in an instant.
The two women, having been saved from her lecture, gave sighs of relief.
“By the way, where is the rest of Legion-san?” a female resistance member asked Legion.
The resistance members had become accustomed to Legion’s presence.
Legion ate a frankfurter as they replied.
“We’re all here.”
“We’re not actually separated right now.”
“With the Size Alteration Skill and Form Alteration Skill, it just looks like we’ve separated.”
“This is practice for us so that we can all work together inside a human-sized building.”
“… What about the person-shaped Slime-san next to you?” one of the women asked, referring to the Slime Kühl who was making an effort to maintain a human-shaped form.
“… For some reason, it feels a sense of rivalry towards us.”
“… What on earth is this?” said Iris’s voice.
Reborn, she emerged from the ritual grounds. Because of her new horns and wings, the balance of her body had changed and she seemed a little unsteady, but she was walking properly.
Incidentally, it seems that she had come to a compromise in regard to her clothing. She was wearing a cloak that had been trending in the past (with the unique design feature of having a large hole in the back), along with the highly-revealing, currently-trending clothes.
The resistance members gasped as they looked upon her completely different form.
“… Everyone, I’m sorry for making you worry,” Iris said. “I’m not sure if I can say that I’m alright, but I managed to transform into a Majin. But as you can see, my appearance has changed significantly. I cannot blame you if you say that you cannot follow me any longer. Say it clearly –”
“No, I don’t think it’s all that bad, Princess,” said Debis.
“Well, I do feel like you have a strange lewdness that you didn’t have before, but that’s –” Haj began. “GUHEBUH?!”
“Partner, you speak rudely,” said Haj’s Living Armor.
“Don’t worry about it, Leader! We’re not worried about it at all!” said another resistance member.
Despite Iris’s very different appearance, Debis and the others declared that they would follow her as they had always done. Haj was being hit in the back of the head with the scabbard of a sword by his Living Armor, but there was no sign of withdrawal or rejection in his actions.
“But everyone, I’m –” Iris began.
“Compared to Boss and Legion, it’s a tiny change,” everyone said simultaneously.
“… You’re right,” said Iris, convinced by these words.
“That’s quite the way to put it. Well, we’re aware of it ourselves,” said Legion, not minding at all.
But it seemed that Vandalieu’s mind had taken some damage from this. “… Well, Majin and Legion are both people, so it’s fine,” he said, his hands that were protruding from between Privel’s tentacles stopping their movements for a moment.
“It can’t be helped, Boss. You can’t convince anyone otherwise when you have antennae hanging from your head,” Miles said, comforting him.
“… I suppose that’s true. Ah, that’s right. Privel, let me go for a moment,” said Vandalieu.
He stopped cooking Bugitas’s meat, crawled out of Privel’s tentacles and suddenly produced a spectacular longsword in a scabbard out of thin air.
Iris gasped as she saw the sword. “Nemesis Bell…?!”
It was the holy sword wielded by Rickert, the one that had inflicted fatal wounds upon her and created the reason she had to be reborn as a Majin.
It was a legendary holy sword to the rest of the world, but to Iris, it was nothing more than a repulsive, dangerous weapon. Or at least, it should have been, but for some reason, she felt a familial love towards the sword.
“That voice is Chichi-ue?!”
The reason for Iris’s feelings was because her father, George Bearheart, now inhabited Nemesis Bell.
“Why in the world is Chichi-ue in the holy sword?!”
“I devoured the familiar spirit inside Nemesis Bell, and placed George inside the newly empty vessel. Your previous sword was cracked, after all,” said Vandalieu. “Normally, it would be difficult to transfer a spirit that has been in a certain vessel for a long time to another one, but maybe because I’ve become a Dark Guider, I succeeded with it quite easily.”
Vandalieu had easily devoured the familiar spirit in Nemesis Bell, which was likely that of the heroic god Bellwood. The familiar spirit had likely been a lower-ranking one. Unfortunately, this meant that it had been dull to eat it, without any Attribute Values or Skill Levels increasing.
Perhaps familiar spirits were not enough.
The fact that a familiar spirit of that level was inhabiting the sword means that this holy sword is a low-quality or perhaps a mass-produced item. It’s shabby when compared to the Artifact Ice Age, which could create cursed ice. Well, leaving that aside…
“I suppose we’ll give it the new name of Nemesis George, the dark magic sword. Here,” said Vandalieu.
Being offered the renamed sword that contained her father George, Iris took it and hugged it tightly. “Chichi-ue! … Vandalieu-dono, no, Your Majesty! Thank you very much!” she said, her tears dripping onto Nemesis George’s handle.
Though the color of her eyes had changed, her tears were still clear and transparent, just as they had been when she was a human.
The resistance members cheered.
“The Princess Knight has made a full recovery!”
“Princess, George-sama, congratulations!”
“Gahaha! Celebrate, celebrate!” said Godwin, who had joined them with a nonchalant look on his face. “By the way, is the alcohol not here yet?”
Right on time, a wagon filled with alcohol and food arrived, being pushed by Pauvina, Rapiéçage and Yamata.
“Everyone, it’s a cake~!” said Pauvina.
“A cake…” Rapiéçage repeated.
“Happy birthday~♪” Yamata sang.
Pauvina was pushing the enormous wagon, which had a cake at the top, while Rapiéçage and nine beautiful Lamia women… or rather, Yamata, who had separated her upper bodies and was using the Long-distance Control Skill, were following behind her.
The feast to celebrate Iris’s rebirth began in earnest, and the food was distributed for everyone to enjoy. The fight to retake the Sauron region would begin again tomorrow, so this feast was also important for them to regain their strength for that.
Knowing this, everyone ate, drank and made plenty of noise… though there were some residents of the Majin nation joining in here and there, despite having nothing to do with the resistance.
It seemed that they had come to see King Godwin’s new daughter who had been born through a ritual that hadn’t been carried out in thousands of years, and then ended up being drawn in by the feast.
“Maybe it’s best to cook some more?” Vandalieu wondered.
“That might indeed be important, Your Majesty, but… what happened to Baron Ragdew and his family?” Iris asked, having noticed that Cuoco Ragdew, who had been cooperating with the resistance, and his family, were nowhere to be seen.
“Cuoco and his family… Iris, please be wary of them from now on,” Vandalieu warned her.
“H-have they done something outrageous?!” Iris asked in surprise.
“After they migrated to Talosheim, he has been following Eisen like a duckling following its mother… along with his entire family.”
In exchange for Cuoco’s cooperation, Iris had been giving him a special syrup purified from Eisen’s sap, telling him that it was Ent syrup made from an Ent, a plant-type monster. As a result, he had been charmed by this syrup that possessed a full-bodied scent and a rich sweetness.
“Ever since they somehow figured out from the smell that Eisen was the one providing the raw materials for the syrup, they have been following Eisen whenever they have spare time,” said Vandalieu.
“… The entire family?” said Iris.
“Yes, the entire family. His wife has been doing it particularly frequently.”
Cuoco and his family were likely following Eisen around in Talosheim’s Immortal Ent forest right about now.
“Ah, what a pleasant scent. Don’t you think so, Honey?”
“Yes, it really is. It would be lovely if we could just stay here forever, wouldn’t it, Darling?”
“I can’t get enough of this~”
“Drink some and then go home.”
An entire family of four following Eisen around, and Eisen having no choice but to give them some of her sap to have them leave. Iris felt dizzy as she imagined this scene.
“Well, in any case, things have calmed down recently,” Vandalieu said. “With his superior Kurt having him eat the various delicious foods of Talosheim and having his interest in food more spread out.”
Just when Kurt thought that he had gained a former nobleman who could be used as a civil official, his entire family turned out to be large eaters… gourmet fanatics. It seemed that Kurt was facing a lot of trouble because of this.
“… I don’t know what to say. I’m sorry. I will make sure to apologize to Kurt-dono,” said Iris.
The leader of an anti-Amid-Empire resistance, apologizing to a nobleman from the Mirg shield-nation, a vassal nation of that empire. In a way, perhaps this was a step towards reconciliation that ought to be celebrated.
“But one more question. What about Borkus-dono, Mikhail-dono and the others?” Iris asked.
“They’re protecting the resistance base in your absence along with Isla,” said Vandalieu.
“I see. It puts me at ease to know that they are protecting the base.”
Incidentally, the portion of Duke Marme’s army who had gone out to rescue him had already become Experience Points for the Undead guarding the base.
“Leaving that aside, Iris, have some too. It’s very delicious, this Noble Orc meat that an evil god descended upon,” said Vandalieu, offering her some cut pieces of meat.
“What an incredible history for meat… Itadakimasu.” Iris opened her eyes wide at how delicious the meat was.
The meat filled the nasal cavity with a rich scent just by being inside the mouth, and a flavorful, oily juice oozed out from the soft meat with each bite. But the meat did not melt on the tongue; the meat made its solid presence known.
It was condensed meat that still had a softness to it.
“This is… delicious. It goes well with the spicy sauce… The Noble Orc meat you provided before was delicious as well, but it cannot be compared to this. Even though it is meat of a creature of the same race, it really changes so much with an evil god descending upon it,” said Iris.
“I’m glad you like it. I need you to regain your energy as soon as possible,” said Vandalieu.
“Yes, for my training.”
Having transformed into a Majin, Iris’s Attribute Values had increased greatly. With her newly-acquired wings, she could now fly through the sky.
By becoming an Orichalcum sword, her father George had become a weapon with function rivaling that of a weapon made from the Demon King’s fragments, too.
But Iris had to learn to use her new wings and sword freely. If not, she would be beaten by enemies like the ‘Light-speed Sword’ Rickert again.
“Become strong, Iris…” said her father’s voice, echoing from her new sword.
Iris nodded, hardening her resolve. “Yes, Chichi-ue. Even if I face the Fifteen Evil-breaking Swords once more, I will not fail again.”
“No, that is not all, Iris… You must become strong immediately. If possible, before next year,” George said.
“N-next year?! Why are you imposing a time limit, Chichi-ue?!” Iris exclaimed, bewildered.
“That’s because Van-kun is going to challenge the Trial of Zakkart next year,” said Privel as she finished eating a piece of fried squid.
“Did you not know, Iris-dono?” asked Myuze.
“She was supposed to continue working in the Sauron region. It is unlikely that she has heard of this,” said Gizania.
“So, it’s apparently been decided that those who lack the skill to follow Vandalieu into the Dungeon will be training until next year. I’m already skilled enough, though,” explained Vigaro, who had been simply cooking and eating meat, completely uninvolved in the women’s conversation up until now.
“Th-the Trial of Zakkart… The Dungeon that even an A-class adventurer has never come out alive from, His Majesty is… No, it’s not that I’m not interested, but with my strength, I will only be a burden,” said Iris.
She could feel that her ability had increased drastically ever since she met Vandalieu, was given a Cursed Sword containing her father’s spirit and acquired the new Job of Cursed Spirit Swordsman.
But only days ago, she had been defeated by Rickert, someone equivalent to an A-class adventurer, and almost lost her life. It was difficult to imagine that her abilities would be of any use in a Dungeon that even claimed the lives of A-class adventurers as strong as Rickert. She could clearly see a future where rather than being a Princess Knight, she would be like a princess in old heroic tales, a woman who was simply rescued by the hero.
“Become strong, Iris…” George said.
“Chichi-ue! It is impossible for me! It would be impossible to become strong enough by next year!” Iris exclaimed.
“Well, I’m sure things will work out. I mean, you’re my daughter as well. By the way, I managed to clear it up until about two-thirds of the way through,” said Godwin.
“It’s alright, let’s work hard together!” said Privel.
“Even if our strength is insufficient, working hard towards a desired result is a noble thing,” said Gizania.
“Gizania-dono, that is quite the negative outlook,” said Myuze.
Common sense told Iris that it was impossible, but everyone encouraged her.
Iris realized that this was not only a feast to celebrate her birth, but a kickoff party for facing the Trial of Zakkart.
“By the way, the additional meat is done,” Vandalieu announced.
『The ‘Second Coming of the Demon King’ and ‘Monstrosity’ Titles have been removed!』
“Oh?” Vandalieu blinked in surprise as an announcer’s voice suddenly echoed inside his head, informing him that his bad-sounding Titles had been removed.
And then he heard the announcer’s voice again.
『You have acquired the ‘Demon King’ Title!』
“… Oh.” Vandalieu’s face fell.
So that’s what it was.
Iris Bearheart, who has become a Succubus and acquired the Skills that a Succubus naturally possesses. But as she is inexperienced, the Skills’ levels are considerably lower than other Succubi of the same age. Also, she has not yet acquired Skills that require mastery such as High-speed Flight.
Incidentally, she has acquired the Mana Enlargement and Vitality Enlargement Skills through the influence of Vandalieu and Legion, who offered their Mana and Vitality as sacrifices for the ritual.
Her Job’s Level reached 100 through the battle against Rickert and the others (Although Iris herself had been defeated one-sidedly, she gained Experience Points from Vandalieu and his companions defeating the enemies afterwards), but as she was fatally wounded and on the verge of death, she has not undergone a Job-change yet.
After reaching Rank 7 through steady effort, Legion reached Rank 8 by defeating Rickert.
They had acquired the No-Attribute Mage Job in order to learn how to control magic, but because the Experience Points from the battle against Rickert caused their Level to increase drastically in one burst, they were forced into their next Job-change before they could improve their skills.
They do not mind this as the bonuses to the Job’s Skills persist after a Job-change, but they feel like they have been rushed too much.
A Job that allows the manipulation of the flesh that makes up the user’s own body. It offers bonuses to the Form Alteration and Size Alteration Skills, and even the Long-distance Control Skill used to manipulate the user’s pieces of flesh after they are torn off and thrown.
And in Legion’s case, there are also bonuses to Isis’s surgery, Valkyrie’s commanding, the Yomotsushikome and Yomotsuikusa created from pieces of Izanami’s flesh and Berserk’s parasitic abilities.
The conditions for acquiring this Job is to have a body consisting of at least 99% flesh and to possess the Long-distance Control Skill.