Having cleared the Ogres’ Nest, Vandalieu and his companions returned to the Kijin nation to eat dinner.
That night, Vandalieu was summoned to the Divine Realm of Garess, the god of warriors, in his dream. There, he talked with the generations of Kijin kings that had become Garess’s familiar spirits and heroic spirits after their deaths.
After fusing with a god of the Demon King’s army like his master Zantark, Garess had the upper body of a fair-looking young man, but his lower half had become grotesque.
“The Dhampir who is served by Black Goblins, Anubises, Orcuses, Ghouls and Vampires, you who have absorbed fragments of the Demon King and gained the respect of the Kijin. I wish to bestow upon you the Title of ‘Oni Emperor,’” Garess said in a solemn tone.
“For what reasons?” Vandalieu asked.
“Frankly, I thought I would take this opportunity to catch up to Fidirg and Merrebeveil.”
Despite his initial stubborn-looking appearance, Garess’s actions were easy to see through, as might be expected of the guardian deity of the Kijin.
“During the age of the gods, I… gave more teachings, such as what battle means and what kind of resolve is needed to become a master of battle, but… it seemed that they were difficult to understand for the Kijin, the children of Zantark-sama and Vida-sama. If I did not explain things so that they were easy to understand, my Divine Messages were not understood at all…”
It seemed that he had taught philosophical concepts in the past, but his personality had changed to match those of the Kijin.
The Kijin kings that had become Garess’s familiar spirits and heroic spirits gave bitter smiles.
“I’m sorry about that. I had no idea what you were talking about when I was still alive.”
“Was it about three generations before Tenma that the Kijin became able to think a little?”
“The women who became kings used their heads, too. Not me, though.”
“Leaving that aside, we leave the ones that are living now with you. In fact, you should take some of them with you. Choose them using standards other than their muscles.”
“If I have to choose them based on standards other than muscle, I’ll hold off on answering for now,” said Vandalieu. “Well, please leave it to me. I made a kindred-spirit, and it seems that my mother and Princess Levia are getting along well with Yura-san, too.”
The Kijin nation was surrounded by Dungeons, so if he could introduce Explorers’ Guild Cards to make it possible to teleport between floors, it would make the Kijin’s everyday lives much easier.
Vandalieu wasn’t hesitant at all to offer his help in this way since he had become good friends with Oniwaka and his mother and Princess Levia seemed to have become friends with Yura.
But Garess had a difficult expression on his face. “Oniwaka… I am a little hesitant to offer you a candidate to become the next Kijin king… No, I do not intend to ignore Oniwaka’s own desires.”
“Hmm? No, won’t it be alright if we visit each other’s countries and stay for pre-decided lengths of time?” Vandalieu suggested, since he had no intentions of recruiting the first child of the king of another nation.
“Coming and going… then I suppose there will be no problem. Please take care of that child. Now then, I must give you the ‘Oni Emperor’ Title and your companions my divine protection… and this as a present,” said Garess, casually grasping his own grotesque lower body, breaking off several of the protuberances on it and offering them to Vandalieu. “This is a part of me, the guardian deity of the Kijin. Through this, even one without Kijin blood flowing through their veins should be able to lead the Kijin more effectively if they possess the aptitude for it.”
“Thank you for this important gift,” said Vandalieu, and then he woke up.
But the part of Garess that he had received was nowhere to be found. It was likely not a physical object.
“Well, since I’ve received it, I should be able to use it when I need to.”
『You have acquired the ‘Oni Emperor’ Title!』
Vandalieu’s party departed the Kijin nation and headed for the next nation that he was planning to visit.
“Vandalieu-sama! Please make sure to come and get me later!” said Tarea, who was remaining behind for a while to continue exchanging smithing techniques.
“Vandalieu, make sure you come and visit again!” said Oniwaka.
Partway through the journey, Darcia gave him a warning for some reason. “Vandalieu, even if you’re challenged to tests of strengths at the other nations, you can’t use your tongue anymore. You definitely must not touch people’s faces with it,” she said.
“But Mom, my tongue is quite effective as a weapon,” Vandalieu protested as he licked the Gehenna Bee eggs that Quinn was continuing to lay in Sam’s carriage to make them clean. “It’s flexible, and since it’s mostly made of muscle, I can use it to land striking blows. And it also gains bonuses from the Unarmed Fighting Technique Skill. It’s easy to catch my opponents off-guard with it, and even if it gets cut off, it’s regrown by my Rapid Regeneration Skill, much faster than an arm or a leg.”
He continued licking the eggs as he explained the advantages of his tongue. He looked just like a worker bee.
Incidentally, Quinn was next to him, continuing to lay new eggs from the bee abdomen that protruded from her waist. She was not only laying them but looking after them properly as well, but Vandalieu was doing her work for her as well as a worker bee, so she didn’t have much to do in that regard.
“Bocchan has completely become a loving parent… leaving that aside, we understand why your tongue is effective as a weapon, but you can’t use it,” said Rita.
“Please don’t hit your opponent’s face with it. It was only on Oniwaka-san’s cheek, but even so, Yura-san made a real fuss about it!” said Saria.
It seemed that Yura hadn’t simply become close to them.
She had become a friend, but at the same time, a difficult person to negotiate with.
“Danna-sama, Darcia-sama is not saying that it is cowardly or damaging to your reputation to use your tongue. It is just that perhaps you used it on the wrong person… as you did it to the face,” Bellmond said ambiguously.
Hearing her speak like this, Vandalieu started to think that there might be a problem.
It was true that it might have been a bad idea to attack the face with his tongue. If it were to hit the lips, it would be a kiss, even if Vandalieu didn’t mean for it to be one.
Oniwaka, the only son of an important family, had his cheeks licked in a public place. Yura couldn’t be blamed for using that fact to negotiate.
“I used my tongue thinking that it was the same as a punch or kick, but now that you mention it, it might have been problematic,” Vandalieu said, scratching his head.
It didn’t seem that Oniwaka himself had minded, but Vandalieu started to feel bad for what he’d done. He decided to apologize later.
“No, Your Majesty. Things might become more complicated if you apologize. Yura-san was ecstatic about offering Oniwaka-san,” said Princess Levia.
“It seems that you get along well, and she said it should definitely happen for the sake of a prosperous future for both nations. She was really enthusiastic; she said that we should decide a time to discuss things,” said Orbia.
According to these two, it seemed that Yura didn’t mind, either. That was good, but Vandalieu was confused as to why she was offering her son.
And then he suddenly realized.
“… Could it be that Oniwaka is a daughter, not a son?”
“… So, you didn’t notice,” said Darcia.
“Danna-sama, Oniwaka is apparently a historical childhood name, used by the first child of the Kijin king,” said Bellmond. “It seems that this name was in the records left behind by the champion Hillwillow, and it originates from the Kijin ancestor believing that it was the name of a famous Oni and naming his own child after him.”
“Incidentally, her real name is apparently Yuuma,” said Saria.
Vandalieu finally realized that he had mistaken things all along.
“Well, you can’t really tell, can you?” said Rita. “Her voice is high but husky, and she’s always wearing armor. We didn’t know either until Yura-san told us at the feast.”
“Her tone and behavior are like those of a boy, too. She loves muscles as well. Her face is a girl’s face, but with so many male-like factors, it’s impossible to notice,” said Orbia.
Despite Rita and Orbia defending him, Vandalieu started to feel overwhelmed.
“When I asked her what kind of women she liked at the feast, she said that she preferred someone with more muscle than herself, so I thought it was strange, but… to think it was a jou-chan, not a boy,” Borkus muttered.
“No, she is very much a tomboy of a princess,” said Sam. “So, what will you do now, Bocchan?”
“… It would be strange to start treating her as a girl now, so I will treat her as a kindred-spirit as I’ve done up until now,” said Vandalieu. “But if I have to fight at the other nations, I’ll make sure not to use my tongue anywhere above the neck.”
“Ooohn?” Knochen groaned.
“Jyuuh, the society of people is troublesome,” Bone Man remarked. “To think that problems would arise just from having a mouth and tongue.”
“Even though licking each other is so comforting, too,” said Vandalieu.
It seemed that Knochen and Bone Mans’ views were different from those of people; they seemed to find it strange that the living were saying these things.
The next nation to be visited was the Harpy nation, and Vandalieu received many challenges from the Harpies. But it wasn’t because they doubted Vandalieu like Oniwaka and the others had; everyone considered it as an event and challenged him because it was a ‘rare chance.’
But the challenges were not fights.
“On your marks… go!” Princess Levia shouted.
At her signal, Vandalieu and the land-type Harpies began their athletics race.
“I can’t fly through the air, but I won’t lose on the ground!”
The land-type Harpies were those with large bodies and short wings. They were Harpies with the features of flightless birds such as ostriches, emus and moas.
Of course, they couldn’t fly, but their legs’ running strength was not at all inferior to that of the Centaurs and Arachne.
“One loss is enough!” said Vandalieu.
As he ran on all fours, sending the dirt beneath him flying with his claws, he was just as impressive as the Harpies.
“It’s enough, but…”
However, he was losing in actual speed. It seemed that even the Ghouls’ secret four-legged running technique couldn’t match the speed of the land-type Harpies.
The land-type Harpies cheered as they ran through the goal. They receded into the distance at an incredible speed.
“Yay, the emperor is last!”
“… So, speed is about muscle, not the number of legs,” said Vandalieu.
He continued running even after receiving his second loss, feeling respect for the lean, slender legs of the land-type Harpies.
“Your Majesty, the things extending from your shoulders aren’t front legs; they’re arms. Have you forgotten?” Princess Levia asked him uncertainly, having followed him from the starting line.
“So, this is Danna-sama’s second defeat,” said Bellmond, making a written note of this fact.
“Don’t worry about it, Vandalieu. Neither of them was a competition that you’re good at. And doing your best is more important than winning!” Darcia said in encouragement.
Incidentally, his first defeat was in a dance showdown against Harpies with very brightly-colored plumes. Naturally, he had been utterly crushed.
“But I’m sure a lot of Harpies would have come to Talosheim if he won the dance showdown,” Saria whispered.
“Maybe it’s a good thing he lost,” Rita whispered back.
Darcia, who was in between them, agreed with them. “It’s not that I dislike political marriages, but I’d like him to have girls that he can get along with.”
That was the kind of interaction that Darcia wanted her son to have with members of the opposite gender.
Vandalieu was not an adventurer or a noble; he was a king, one that would formally become emperor at that. But he was liked by many, regardless of his social position.
That was because he had the Dark Demon Path Enticement Skill that had transformed from Death-Attribute Charm. It was a charm-type Skill that affected Undead, certain members of Vida’s races such as Ghouls and Vampires, insect-type and plant-type monsters, and even certain humans. And its power and effective range was greater than it had been to start off with.
And they would probably continue increasing.
Thus, it was impossible to avoid more people being around Vandalieu in the future, and half of the people around him would be female.
If Vandalieu didn’t like that, he would have no choice but to shut himself away in his own room.
Thus, Darcia and the others had consulted the men in secret and decided that they should ‘select’ those around Vandalieu rather than ‘limit’ them.
… If left alone, it was likely that Vandalieu would just have more and more people around him.
“Oniwaka-sama seemed to get along with Bocchan quite well, however,” said Sam.
Darcia and Sam’s daughters told him that they weren’t particularly opposed to it.
“Father, the details are the problem. If the parents decide things on their own but the feelings between them don’t go well, they won’t last long!” said Saria.
“That’s why we’re not opposed to it. We just think that we should see how things go for a little while first!” said Rita.
They were discussing a marriage between the emperor and the first-born child of a nation that would come under his rule, but in the area within the Boundary Mountain Range, where the sense of values of Vida’s races were widespread, political marriages where the feelings of the couple were ignored were considered to be a taboo. The goddess they worshipped was the goddess of life and love, after all.
“And I don’t think the Oniwaka kid… no, jou-chan, likes the kid in that way,” said Borkus.
“Right. They just look like rascals that are playmates; there doesn’t seem to be a single shred of attraction…” said Kimberley, who had been present during the clearing of the Ogres’ Nest.
The truth was that Oniwaka had treated Vandalieu the way they had described it.
And her taste was in people with more muscles than herself. Even if one included the muscle of his tongue, Vandalieu would not match that taste.
“It is too early for the season of love to come for her,” said Bone Man. “Regardless of what happens between her and our lord, I believe we should watch and wait.”
Bone Man and Knochen, who were animal-like in nature, brought an end to this discussion on Oniwaka.
“By the way, Darcia-sama, I understand that we’ll be ‘selecting’ those around Danna-sama, but how will we be ‘selecting’ them?” asked Bellmond, having noticed that no standards had been set other than Vandalieu getting along with them.
It was normal for parents to have requirements for the people that their children dated, so Bellmond thought that this might be true for Darcia as well.
“Let’s see…” Darcia put her hands on her cheeks and pondered this question.
She might have told Vandalieu her opinions in the past, but she had recently become completely unconcerned. And such trivial details wouldn’t remain in her memory, as she was just a weak spirit.
So, she thought about it again… to find that nothing came to mind.
“What should I do? Maybe I don’t have the right to have a say in Vandalieu’s relationships,” she said.
In fact, this is what she thought when she looked back.
Darcia had left the forests of her homeland and dated a shadowy man in a human town. She had continued to date him even after learning that the man, Valen, was a Subordinate Vampire belonging to a group of Vampires that worshipped an evil god. As a result, she had given birth to a child.
From the view of an ordinary Dark Elf, she was quite the thankless daughter to her parents.
Bellmond hastily searched for the words to comfort Darcia, who seemed shaken after having realized this… and then she realized something herself.
“Now that I think about it, I have never interacted with the opposite gender before. Though I have been assaulted one-sidedly before,” she said.
Bellmond had been exiled from her homeland because of the Lamia blood that she possessed, which expressed itself in her pupils and tongue. After that, as a young girl she had been assaulted by humans and then taken in by Vampires. She had then spent the majority of her ten-thousand-year-long life as the guard of her master’s hideout by an underground lake.
She had been hurt before, but she had never experienced companionship.
“In my case… my partner tricked me and killed me, so I can’t say anything about having good eyes for partners,” said Orbia.
“I hadn’t even decided on a fiancé,” said Princess Levia.
“… In my previous life, just once with a drone bee,” said Quinn.
“It doesn’t even need to be said for us sisters,” said Rita. “Does that mean we’re all out?”
“Someone who has had proper interactions with the opposite gender… the Ghouls won’t do, so… that’s right, let’s ask Fester-san and Lina-san when we return! We can ask Legion’s Jack and Hitomi-san, too!” said Rita.
“No, let’s calm down,” said Princess Levia. “Rita, there’s no reason to be hasty.”
“Yes, don’t be hasty. By the way, what are you talking about?” asked Vandalieu, who had come back on the back of a land-type Harpy.
“We’re here to give you back the emperor!” said the Harpy.
And so, the discussion was discontinued.
The third competition in the Harpy nation was acrobatic flight. Vandalieu could take the form of a strange bird by materializing his spirit form in the shape of wings, but they were specialized for transporting people, so it was thought that he wouldn’t be able to overcome the speed and maneuverability of the Harpies.
But Vandalieu betrayed everyone’s expectations and flew through the air skillfully with the wings of the Cemetery Bees equipped with Group Binding Technique protruding from his back.
“Triple mid-air spin~”
“He’s good, but something’s wrong here?!” one of the Harpies exclaimed.
But as the rules allowed for the use of wings or even no-attribute and wind-attribute magic, Vandalieu took his first victory without a problem.
Next were the challenges at the Centaur nation, but as they were a race with the lower bodies of horses, the first challenge was a race.
But the event was an obstacle course.
“We are a race born with the lower bodies of horses! Therefore, we cannot survive in the harsh lands within the Boundary Mountain Range if we cannot manipulate our lower bodies more skillfully than humans manipulate theirs. That is why we have this challenge. We shall challenge you like the Harpies, new emperor!” declared Sylvari, the king of the Centaur nation, a Centaur with feathers and tattoos resembling those of native Americans.
Vandalieu seemed confused as he looked at the designated obstacle course. “… I get the feeling that I’ll have more of an advantage with this compared to a regular race. Are you sure about this?” he asked.
The obstacles placed on the obstacle course were three walls that tested one’s ability to jump, a balance beam that tested one’s balance, an uphill section that tested one’s leg strength and a flaming hoop that was presumably for testing one’s agility and courage.
The obstacles other than the walls and uphill sections were all too big for humans, as they were Centaur-sized.
Ignoring the strangely circus-like obstacle at the end, most of the obstacles seemed to be disadvantageous for the Centaurs.
That was why Vandalieu wanted to make sure that the Centaurs were alright with this.
“It is fine,” Sylvari said boldly, crossing his arms and nodding. “This is the course that we normally use for competitions during festivals, so naturally, its difficulty is perfect for us. Since you are competing with two legs, it won’t even be a handicap… or it shouldn’t be, but you sometimes use four or eight legs.” His manly eyebrows frowned in doubt. “According to rumors, you can use up to twelve legs. Could it be that you would win easily even without such a handicap? The truth is that the children are watching, so I don’t want to look pathetic… I won’t ask you to give me the victory, but can you make it a close competition?” he whispered, suggesting to fix the match.
His eyes glanced towards the Centaur and Harpy children that were observing with the rest of the Centaurs, including a particularly strong-willed-looking girl with the lower half of a black horse.
Incidentally, Sylvari was in a long-distance marriage with the Harpy nation’s queen.
“Things haven’t gone well between me and my daughter recently. Please,” Sylvari said, seeming to have a complex with regards to leg count.
“I won’t use the Demon King’s fragments, so I’ll only use four legs,” Vandalieu assured him.
“I see! That’s a relief. Let us have a clean race, Emperor!” Sylvari said, regaining his dignified, manly tone once more.
He reached for Vandalieu’s shoulders, but… since the difference in height between them was too great, he patted Vandalieu’s head twice.
Talking to Sylvari reminded Vandalieu of Privel. Was she still leveling in Dungeons now?
“… I said this in the Harpy nation, but the objects protruding from Danna-sama’s shoulders are arms, not front legs,” Bellmond reminded him as his mind wandered.
Incidentally, Vandalieu did his best, but King Sylvari came out on top with sheer ability alone.
“Now then, Emperor, please perform the duty of the defeated that I explained before. It is just a formality, so you just have to touch me with the brush,” said King Sylvari.
There was a rule that the loser of this match would praise and brush the winner.
“Oh no, I will perform it politely,” said Vandalieu, producing the 100% Demon King’s fur brush that Tarea had made.
As a result, King Sylvari fell without even lasting ten minutes, as did the Centaurs wanting to be brushed after seeing that.
“Amazing. I was sure that Bellmond-san was just particularly sensitive,” said Orbia.
“So now you understand,” said Bellmond. “I am neither particularly sensitive nor unskilled at restraining myself.”
“It’s because the brush was made by Tarea, and the Demon King’s fur has power too… maybe?” Darcia wondered.
“Jyuuh… just what in the world was the Demon King?” said Bone Man.
“No, I have to wonder about that. It was the first time Tarea was made to make a brush with the Demon King’s fur, and it was definitely the first time the kid used it to brush someone,” said Borkus.
“Incidentally, I also used spirit form massaging,” said Vandalieu. “The Centaurs seem to get muscle stiffness in the area where their upper bodies are connected to their lower bodies.”
“Their hips, in other words. They might get along with Tarea-san,” said Rita.
“A discussion on lower back pain? It seems like a talk for old people,” said Saria.
“You two, it’s a problem shared by races like Scylla and Arachne that have a gap between their upper and lower bodies, so don’t poke fun at them,” said Orbia. “Well, I’m a Ghost now, so it has nothing to do with me,” she added.
And so, all of the influential warriors of the Centaur nation and Sylvari’s family were defeated, leading to Vandalieu taking a default victory in the rest of the challenges.
“Ah, we don’t need to challenge you. We accept you as emperor.”
There was no challenge from the Lamia nation.
“Why?” asked Vandalieu in surprise; he had been looking forward to it a little.
Queen Tanato and the other Lamia explained.
“We know that you are of worthy character to become the new emperor even without challenges.”
“Our nations events are magic, song and instrument performances, so the results are obvious before even trying, right?”
“And you know, your reputation is pretty good in our country, so we thought there was no need.”
Challenging the emperor was not simply to test his strength, but to test his character as well.
Whether the emperor would respond to the challenges, fight in accordance with the rules set by the nations, stay angry even when reasonable demands were made and respect the nations even if defeated. That was what the challenges tested.
“Well, I kind of guessed that at the Harpy nation,” said Vandalieu.
Generations of emperors thus far had come from the Noble Orc empire. It was difficult to imagine that they had performed well in races against the land-type Harpies and Centaurs or acrobatic flying.
The same was true for Budarion, the Noble Orc who was supposed to have taken these challenges. Vandalieu couldn’t imagine Budarion running like the wind or dancing gracefully through the air. Jumping through the ring of fire seemed particularly impossible.
Thus, he had suspected that the importance was in something other than the competitions.
“Eh?! You noticed?! Then all of this was just an act?!” one of the Lamias exclaimed.
“No, I did suspect it but they were fun, and I took the challenges in a natural way,” said Vandalieu.
“Oh, is that right? Then it’s fine.”
It seemed that the Lamias had watched Vandalieu at the Harpy and Centaur nations and decided to acknowledge him as emperor.
And as they explained, given the types of events in the Lamia nation, they knew that Vandalieu would take one victory and two losses without needing to conduct the challenges.
“You have a good reputation for being good at taking care of eggs, and you apparently have a legendary Orochi as well. Please bring it the next time you visit.”
“Orochi?” Vandalieu repeated.
The reason Vandalieu had been said to be good at taking care of eggs didn’t need to be explained. He had been joining the worker Cemetery Bees in taking care of the eggs laid by Quinn… frequently, of his own free will.
It seemed that the Lamias and Harpies, who were oviparous as well, favored an emperor who could take care of children.
But what was this mention of an Orochi? Legends of the eight-headed serpents had likely been left in the records of the champions, just like the legends of bushi and ninja. Vandalieu could imagine that various misunderstandings had been made, leading to the Lamias respecting and worshipping them.
“Ah, Yamata,” he muttered, searching his memories and remembering the Hydra Zombie Yamata, whose heads had been replaced by the upper bodies of nine beautiful women of different races.
“That’s right, that’s right! It’s a Zombie, but it’s an Orochi, isn’t it? One of our nation’s past queens increased her Rank enough to become an Echidna, but none have become a Yamata-no-Orochi before, so everyone took notice of her.”
It seemed that someone had spread news of Yamata to the Lamia nation.
And so, the day after Vandalieu finished his visits to the Harpy, Centaur and Lamia nation, he headed for the last three nations that he was planning to visit before going to Vida’s Resting Grounds – the Drakonid, Merfolk and Dark Elf nations.
A Title thought of by Garess, the god of warriors, and his familiar spirits and heroic spirits. They bestowed Vandalieu this Title to strengthen the connection between them. Naturally, there are no precedents of someone gaining this Title.
It strengthens charisma towards monsters and races whose titles contain ‘Oni.’ Also, though this is a result that was not expected by Garess and the others, it gives an overall increase to the effects of Guidance: Dark Demon Path on Undead.
【Harpies】(Records from human society)
A race created by Vida that possess the wings and talons of birds in place of arms and legs.
They are considered to be one of the races born when Vida mated with monsters, but according to one theory, they are a race created when she mated with one of the beast-kings, just like the Beast-people. But as the bird beast-king had been cursed by an evil god, Harpies were born instead of bird-type Beast-people. However, few support this theory other than believers of Vida and the Harpies themselves.
They are a unisexual race of females. They are born in eggs and mature to adulthood in approximately ten years. Their lifespans are, in general, approximately a hundred years. There are three types of Harpies – ordinary-type, hunting-type and land-type. Ordinary-type and land-type Harpies have a base Rank of 3, while hunting-types have a base Rank of 4.