“Welcome to the Drakonid nation. It has been some time, Emperor Vandalieu-dono. So… why are you in a fighting pose?” asked the female Drakonid warrior who had come to welcome Vandalieu… the female swordsman Rowen who had been sent as a representative to the Noble Orc kingdom.
“I thought that there would be a battle to start off with,” said Vandalieu.
“… Ah, so that is how it was at the Kijin nation. I’m sorry to say that it is impossible for us to do what they do,” Rowen said with a bitter smile.
Perhaps it was a little lonely for a guest to the nation to be greeted by only one person, but in the land within the Boundary Mountain Range, everything outside the gates of the nations was a Devil’s Nest where monsters prowled.
If large numbers of people came out for a grand welcoming, there was the risk of monsters flooding in towards this abnormal event. Thus, it had become custom for only a few skilled individuals to welcome guests, like Kidoumaru who had waited alone at the Kijin nation.
“Us Drakonids are a race that thrives on battle, serving the role of managing the Dungeons that appeared on the eastern side of the mountain range as a counterpart to the Kijin nation to the west. But we teach that one should not take part in needless struggles,” said Rowen. “And one of our Elder Dragon guardians, the crystal-horned dragon god Lioen, has sent a Divine Message telling us explicitly to not fight you.”
It seemed that Lioen had become very nervous after his experience of meeting Vandalieu in Mububujenge’s Divine Realm.
To Vandalieu, it had been nothing more than a slight irritation that he had already forgotten about, however.
“Then what about a dance competition or acrobatic flying? If it’s a drinking competition, I’d have to have Borkus represent me, though,” said Vandalieu.
“No, we will not have any competitions of that sort. Drinking competitions are strictly forbidden,” Rowen said.
It seemed that many Drakonids loved alcohol, unable to stop themselves from drinking until they were in a stupor after the first sip… Even with resistance Skills, they would continue drinking until the limits of those Skills were overcome.
Thus, ways of drinking that encouraged others to drink more were forbidden in this nation.
“So, there won’t be any challenges…” Vandalieu muttered in disappointment, as he had been looking forward to it a little.
But as his voice was flat-toned as usual, Rowen took no notice of that.
“That is why the four Drakonid Elders are hoping that this time will be spent on discussions and a meal together,” she said.
The four Drakonid Elders were the spokesmen of the four Elder Dragon guardians that protected the Drakonid nation; they were the politicians that managed the nation in a parliamentary system.
Vandalieu realized that he had to respond to these politicians' wishes.
“… The four Drakonid Elders are particularly interested in discussing the importation of curry powder,” said Rowen.
“Come to think of it, I gave the remaining curry powder to this nation as a gift after the victory feast in the Noble Orc kingdom, didn’t I?” said Vandalieu.
It seemed that curry had charmed the tongues of the Drakonid nation’s politicians.
“Vandalieu, you can conduct diplomacy involving things other than muscles, too. I’m proud of you!” said Darcia.
“Gourmet diplomacy, I suppose,” said Vandalieu. “Well, I don’t think it was just the power of curry powder.”
And so, Vandalieu was given a warm, peaceful welcome into the Drakonid nation.
The nameless B-class Dungeon that Vandalieu had created as a result of his failed attempt to create an A-class Dungeon before he left to visit the other nations. Privel, Gizania and the others hoping to accompany Vandalieu in clearing the Trial of Zakkart were leveling up in here.
“… This is a B-class Dungeon, right?” asked Privel.
“It should be. At the very least, that is what he said,” said Gizania.
The two of them had just finished stripping the Magic Stone and particularly valuable materials from some enormous, one-eyed Cyclopes.
Munching noises filled the air.
The remaining meat and organs were being devoured by the Zombies Rapiéçage and Yamata, who could gain Experience Points (though in a miniscule amount) by consuming dead flesh. They were not able to finish eating all of the huge Cyclopes, however.
“… I want… jaws.”
“Kugigih… Not enough… fangs.”
The two of them were patchwork Zombies, with Rapiéçage possessing the limbs of an Ogre and Yamata possessing the torso of a Hydra, but their mouths were those of women. The amount they could consume at one time was limited, and many of Yamata’s upper bodies did not have fangs. Thus, they faced difficulties when eating raw monster corpses.
Cyclopes were Rank 8 monsters that were considered to be a race of descendants of the true Colossi that became monsters. They were over five meters tall, possessing a fearsome amount of monstrous strength and Vitality as one would expect from their appearance.
They were ferocious and preferred solitude, seeing even other members of their own race as enemies outside of breeding season. Thus, they did not form groups to attack their enemies; this was true for Cyclopes both in Devil’s Nests and inside Dungeons.
That was supposed to be the case, but the Cyclopes in this Dungeon were attacking in groups.
“The monsters appearing in this Dungeon ignore the boundaries of common sense as if it were only natural to do so,” said the Empusa Myuze with a sigh as she wiped the blood and fat from her sickles with a cloth.
It was a well-known fact that monsters that appeared in Dungeons behaved differently from normal, as their minds were controlled by something else.
Even monsters of different races would cooperate with one another to eliminate intruders from the outside. Other than when monster rampages occurred, they didn’t climb the stairs connecting different floors, nor did they pursue or ambush intruders. They didn’t move between floors of their own will.
They avoided the pitfalls and other traps, knowing their locations by instinct.
However, even monsters spawning in Dungeons did not have their minds completely controlled by the Dungeon’s will. Thus, it was impossible for them to behave in a way that was too different from their natures.
An example of this impossible behavior was these Cyclopes, a race that was supposed to prefer solitude, forming groups and using teamwork, albeit in a poor fashion.
“The monsters are hiding inside the pitfalls and chasing us into stairwells… they are free, just like natural monsters,” said Myuze, as if complaining.
“It seems likely that Vandalieu-sama’s will for this Dungeon to be an A-class Dungeon has manifested in the Dungeon’s difficulty surpassing the limits of a B-class Dungeon,” said the Vampire Zombie Isla.
Her calm analysis was something that one would expect from a Vampire who had lived for tens of thousands of years.
But in the next moment, a trance-like expression suddenly appeared on her face as she placed a hand to her chest and looked upwards.
“The monsters that spawn in Dungeons created by Vandalieu-sama have no souls. That’s why this Dungeon has complete control over the monsters’ minds. In other words, this is a part of the trial given to us by Vandalieu-sama! This difficulty shows how much Vandalieu-sama expects from us! Ah, my lord, I will overcome this trial, so please watch over me!” she declared, passionately swearing loyalty to Vandalieu once more.
“… Isla-dono, I have to question the value of shouting with an unpleasant expression on your face on a child’s education,” said Gizania.
Isla was one of the strongest, most dependable people in the party. She would not be defeated even when facing multiple Cyclopes on her own.
But she was a little troubled, often shouting words to a Vandalieu that only she could see.
“Pauvina-chan, was this person always like that?” Privel asked.
“No, she didn’t shout like that until she got that collar from Van,” said Pauvina.
“… So, she was always like that.”
Isla had always been a little insane even while she was alive, but she had managed to keep it under control to some extent. However, it seemed that she had lost all restraint after becoming an Undead… though it seemed that her former superior Eleanora hadn’t noticed, as she had half-ignored Isla.
Incidentally, when Vandalieu was nearby, Isla lost sight of everything except him, so her speech and behavior became close to normal. That was why Vandalieu was the only one who was unaware of her eccentricity.
“It’s amazing that she’s way stronger than us. When Vampires become strong, is it normal for them to turn into strange people like Eleanora and Miles-san?” Privel wondered.
“Don’t compare me to that woman,” Isla said sharply, turning her head at the mention of her rival’s name.
“It seems that you have suddenly regained your sanity,” said Myuze.
It was likely that Eleanora wouldn’t want to be compared to Isla, either. Incidentally, she was currently with Braga and the Ghoul group, leveling up on a deeper floor of the Dungeon.
They were already capable enough to accompany Vandalieu to clear A-class Dungeons and the Trial of Zakkart, but the Dungeon that was newly-created by Vandalieu seemed to have piqued their interest.
“I’m just swearing my loyalty to Vandalieu-sama. To treat that as the behavior of a mad person is… well, it’s fine,” Isla muttered. “Just to be sure, are we continuing to clear this Dungeon?”
“Hmm, it’s starting to get a bit hard for me. I’m not injured or anything, but sorry,” said Pauvina as she exhaled, having finished wiping off the Cyclops blood and fat on her mace.
“No, I’m amazed that you were able to follow us this far,” said Privel.
It was amazing that Pauvina, who had just turned six years old – about nine years old if converted to human years – was able to participate in clearing a B-class Dungeon at all.
At this age… even a noble child or the child of a first-rate adventurer receiving special education for gifted children might be fighting against a single Rank 1 monster under adult supervision at most.
Pauvina had participated in a battle against Cyclopes, contributing without being a hindrance to her companions. Even considering the fact that she was three meters tall and equipped with a Death Iron mace and Orichalcum shield, her strength was astounding.
“But I couldn’t defeat any of them,” Pauvina said. “Stopping their attacks with my shield was the most I could do.”
Still, she hadn’t been able to defeat any Cyclops on her own; it seemed that drawing their attention and acting as a diversion had been the most she could do.
“I’m telling you, the fact that you can stop them is amazing,” said Privel.
“I think even with an Orichalcum shield, ordinary people would be knocked down,” said Gizania.
Not receiving any great injuries while drawing the attention of a Rank 8 monster was no small feat. The strength of the Orichalcum shield was a large factor, but even without that, Pauvina had strength unimaginable for someone of her age.
“But the Trial of Zakkart is impossible. It’s become hard for me to level these days, too,” Pauvina said.
It would probably be impossible for her to participate in clearing the Trial of Zakkart, a Dungeon of even greater difficulty than an A-class Dungeon. There was still over a month left, but she had reached a wall in her development.
“Developmental walls really stop your Level from going up, don’t they? I defeated a ton of monsters today, but I haven’t even gained a single level,” Pauvina complained; this was her first time encountering such a wall.
Everyone other than Rapiéçage and Yamata, who were still eating, gave her bitter smiles as they agreed.
“Apparently everyone hits multiple walls. I’m on my second now, I think,” said Privel.
“This is also my second wall,” said Gizania. “Van-dono overcomes them forcefully by defeating powerful enemies, so I think it didn’t seem so troublesome when watching him, but it really does take time.”
Developmental walls where it suddenly became difficult to increase one’s Level normally took time to overcome. Several months at the shortest, up to several years. There were even some who had faced a developmental wall for more than ten years.
The time needed to overcome them depended on talent and hard work, and whether the individual was blessed with the opportunity to do so.
“It’s only natural for it to be troublesome. If they were overcome easily, there wouldn’t be any adventurers in this world burning out and retiring at D-class. But you have Vandalieu-sama with you. You can definitely overcome it. The rest of you, too,” said Isla, encouraging Pauvina, Privel and the others with teachings from the outside world as one would expect from a senior.
Indeed, as they received the effects of Vandalieu’s Guidance: Dark Demon Path, it might take time, but they would certainly be able to overcome their walls.
In fact, it was due to the effects of that Skill that Pauvina hadn’t encountered a developmental wall until now.
“But it would probably be best for you to put that effort in the shallower floors or in C-class Dungeons,” Isla added.
“So, that’s better after all? It’s true that we can’t really fight as we are now,” said Pauvina.
The amount of Experience Points gained in battle depended on how much one contributed to the battle. One could gain more Experience Points by repeatedly fighting weaker monsters that one could defeat on their own than by fighting powerful enemies that they could only contribute small efforts against.
There was a way to forcibly overcome developmental walls by using enemies that were far beyond one’s own ability, but such powerful enemies were not so common.
“Then once we leave the Dungeon, shall we use our Cards to go to a floor that only has monsters of up to Rank 7?” Myuze suggested.
“In this Dungeon, we can have surprise encounters with Rank 8 monsters, though,” said Pauvina.
“Well, surprise encounters aren’t so common, so it’s fine… I hope,” said Privel.
“Finished… eating…” Rapiéçage groaned.
“Go… up?” asked Yamata.
As Rapiéçage and Yamata had finished eating and everyone had finished resting, the party returned to the stairs of this floor to return to the outside for now.
“By the way, Gizania-dono, when did you start referring to Vandalieu-dono as Van-dono?” Myuze asked.
“No, it is just that Princess Kurnelia said that I should refer to him in a more intimate way… but I could not call him Van-dono straight away,” said Gizania.
“So you’re practicing while Van-kun isn’t here,” said Privel. “I don’t think Van-kun would mind, would he?”
“No, I don’t think so,” said Pauvina.
Meanwhile, Vigaro and the others were on a deeper floor, fighting a horde of Minotaurs, demi-human monsters with the heads of bulls.
When Ogres inhabiting Dungeons with closed-space layouts like caverns or ruins increased their Rank in a particular way, they became Minotaurs.
They possessed the heads, hooves and tails of bulls; their appearance was considerably different from Ogres and their offspring were born as Minotaurs rather than Ogres. But even in present times there were Ogres that became Minotaurs as their Ranks increased.
Their base Rank was 5, but the weakest of the enemies that Vigaro and his companions were fighting now were Rank 7 Minotaur Berserkers and Minotaur Shield Knights. Behind them were Rank 8 Minotaur Mages, and a Minotaur General was commanding the horde.
In terms of individual strength, groups of Cyclopes were stronger, but under the command and control of a Minotaur General with the Commanding Skill, the Minotaur horde was stronger overall.
And as monsters spawning in Dungeons created by Vandalieu had no souls, their coordination would not crumble out of rage or fear.
“But since their morale is fixed and doesn’t increase, it’s easy to deal with them once you get used to them,” Basdia commented.
“It is easier in a way,” Zadiris agreed. “There are no changes to their movement patterns, so it is easy to tell what they will do next.”
The two of them were defeating the Minotaurs one after another.
Basdia’s axe, whose power had been increased by an enchantment, split the shield of a Minotaur Shield Knight and deflected the halberd of a Minotaur Berserker, sending it flying into the ground.
Using the effects of the Chant Revocation Skill, Zadiris cast floods of Light Blade and Light Cannon spells one after another to finish them off.
“It’s a bit hard for me,” said the Black Goblin Braga in a bitter tone.
With his exceptional agility as his weapon, he normally faced his enemies head-on in a bold fashion, slipping into their blind spots and tearing through their vital spots. He was a Rank 7 Black Goblin Ninja Master that was capable of pulling off this counterintuitive fighting style, but he was a little perplexed as to how he was supposed to fight a horde of Minotaurs.
“These guys don’t even flinch when I slit their necks. They don’t falter even when I slash their arteries and blood gushes out of them. They don’t stop fighting until the moment they die. The monsters in King’s Dungeons are more Undead-like than King’s Undead,” he said.
Braga’s fighting style was difficult to describe as that of a scout, but he showed his true value when taking his enemies by surprise. However, these were enemies that did not falter even when taken by surprise, enemies that did not stop fighting even when they received fatal wounds and were seconds away from death.
It seemed that he was confused because these enemies were so different from ordinary enemies.
“Isn’t it fine if you destroy their heads or decapitate them with a single attack?” asked Basdia.
“Basdia, I don’t have the strength for that. I can cut their heads off, but I become more exposed,” Braga explained.
Minotaur skulls were solid, their thick necks covered in muscles even more resistant than bone. It was difficult for Braga to kill them in the space of just a few seconds with the method that Basdia had suggested.
“Then you have no choice but to attack several times rather than finishing the enemy with one attack. That Minotaur Mage is trying to do the same to me, isn’t it? Watch and learn,” said Eleanora.
The moment she finished speaking, a rock spike appeared from the ground and impaled her right foot. It was an earth-attribute spell cast by the Minotaur Mage.
“The idea is to stop my movement like this and then let the few remaining Minotaurs at the front finish me off,” Eleanora explained.
But her expression didn’t change; she made use of her Superhuman Strength Skill to smash the spike impaling her foot and continued stepping forward. Of course, a considerable amount of blood flowed from her wound, but as she was an Abyssal Vampire, the bleeding stopped in an instant due to her Rapid Regeneration Skill.
“Do you understand?” Eleanora asked Braga, engaging in a fierce battle with a Minotaur Shield Knight with her sword and shield.
“… I do, but I have a feeling it’s not of any help,” said Braga.
Eleanora was a Rank 11 Vampire Marquis and had experienced a large number of Jobs; the Minotaurs were nothing but small fry to her.
“Really? These guys make for quite good references. Especially the way they use their shields. They might be better than me,” she said.
Even though she had a high Rank as a monster, she had the weakness of the Levels of her Skills being relatively low except for Swordsmanship. She was working with Braga and the others to find enemies with skills about even with hers that she could practice against in order to overcome that weakness.
There were the training grounds where she could practice real battles against the Zombies that were heroes while they were alive, but the difference in Skill Levels between her and the Zombie heroes was too great, so she couldn’t use them as a reference.
“As expected of enemies known as Shield Knights,” Eleanora remarked.
Each time her sword collided with the Minotaur Shield Knight’s shield, it produced a deep crack in it, and then the shield finally broke.
She cut down the Minotaur Knight with her sword and then decapitated the Minotaur Mage behind it with a single slash.
A trance-like expression appeared on her face as she kicked down the Minotaur Mage’s torso, which was spraying blood like a fountain.
“As expected of a Dungeon that Vandalieu-sama created for us!” she exclaimed. “I can feel Vandalieu-sama’s expectations of us becoming stronger…”
“I think that Eleanora’s illness has become worse recently. What do you think, Mother?” Basdia asked Zadiris.
“Before, she was relatively normal except for when she was around the boy,” said Zadiris.
“The exact opposite of Isla.”
Basdia and Zadiris had the time to exchange their opinions on Eleanora’s eccentricity as the Minotaurs had been reduced to only a few, including the Minotaur General. But there was one man whose face had been constantly wearing a difficult expression during the battle.
“Muuuh…!” he groaned.
It was Vigaro. But it wasn’t because he was struggling with the battle. The three of his four arms that weren’t holding his shield were swinging axes skillfully; Minotaurs were often slaughtered by a single one of his blows.
But Vigaro didn’t feel any happiness from this, nor did he gain any confidence in his own strength. The wrinkle between his brow only continued to deepen.
“Something is wrong. My axes are missing something!” he groaned.
Indeed, Vigaro was in a slump.
His Axe Technique Skill had reached its developmental limit of Level 10. There was no other way to develop it any further except awakening a superior Skill.
But Vigaro was failing to grasp what was needed for this. He felt like he wasn’t far away from understanding something, like the tips of his claws would reach it if he extended his hand, but it was just a little too far away for him to take hold of it.
He had been in this state for a while now.
“It’s not enough!”
Swinging his axe in rage, he split the Minotaur General’s head down to his chest. The Minotaur General’s sturdy Obsidian helmet was no different from paper.
As blood rained down on Vigaro, he searched for the next enemy… only to realize that all of the Minotaurs had been defeated.
“Muh… still no good,” he muttered. “I thought that it would work this time, since the enemies were monsters that use axes as well.”
He lowered his axes in disappointment.
Zadiris stood on tiptoes to give him an encouraging pat on the shoulder. “Be patient,” she said. “The Trial of Zakkart will appear this year, but it is not like the boy’s life will end there.”
Vandalieu would resurrect Darcia and live happily ever after in Talosheim as the emperor. The end… no, that wasn’t how things would end.
It was true that the Trial of Zakkart was a critical point in Vandalieu’s life, but it wasn’t his final goal. With that being the case, Vigaro would have plenty of opportunities to fight alongside Vandalieu in the future.
Vigaro understood this.
“You’re right. But it’s just frustrating,” he said. “It’s like the feeling of having a piece of meat stuck between my teeth that I can’t get out; I can’t calm down.”
He wasn’t trying to rush himself, but it seemed that he was irritated that he could not reach new heights with his Axe Technique.
“With your skill, it might be better for you to train with the Zombie heroes rather than this Dungeon. Their skills are reliable, after all,” said Eleanora.
“Their combat skills are incredible, but they aren’t good references for me,” said Vigaro, shaking his head at Eleanora’s suggestion.
Since he had four arms, arms that were long enough to touch the ground from a standing position at that, his movement and the way he used his axes were very different from humans.
“At times like this, we should just let him keep doing as he likes. And we haven’t cleared this Dungeon yet, so let’s see how things go until we defeat the Dungeon boss,” said Basdia. “More importantly, learn from Braga’s example and go help disassemble the Minotaur bodies.”
“Ah yes, Minotaur tongues are Jadal’s favorite,” said Zadiris.
With Basdia’s words, the party decided to continue observing Vigaro’s slump for now and began disassembling the Minotaurs. Even though their objectives were to clear the Dungeon and improve themselves, they still wanted to earn their keep.
It was decided that the blacksmiths of Talosheim and the Drakonid nation would study techniques in each other’s nations, curry powder would be exported and cooks from the Drakonid nation would study in Talosheim.
These discussions went smoothly, but the other talks and bride offers of the four Drakonid Elders took a long time.
“Emperor-dono, how about you take my granddaughter once she is born?”
Of course, it was Princess Levia who turned most of these aside before Vandalieu had to deal with them.
“Ojii-san, let’s discuss that after she is born,” she said.
In fact, it might have been harder for Rowen, of whom unreasonable demands were being made.
“Rowen, you need muscle! If you put on more muscle, you can gain the emperor’s favor!”
“Jii-sama, my life depends on the speed of my sword. My movements will become slower if I put on needless muscle. Do you intend to slow down the sword of your own granddaughter?”
At night, Vandalieu was summoned to the Divine Realm of the four Elder Dragon guardians of the Drakonid nation, including Lioen, the crystal-horned dragon god. Like Garess, the god of warriors, they tried to give Vandalieu a Title – ‘Dragon Emperor’ – but unfortunately, this failed.
“Perhaps because I don’t have many Dragons among my companions?” Vandalieu suggested.
No matter how influential the beings granting him the Title were, a Title too contradictory to his nature would not be displayed in his Status. It seemed that this was true for Vandalieu and the ‘Dragon Emperor’ Title.
In fact, even including the Undead among Vandalieu’s companions and subordinates, there were few beings related to Dragons. There were the Lizardmen, Armans and Zombie dinosaurs, but they were likely considered to be in a different category from Dragons. The only Dragon Zombie was probably Leo.
“It cannot be helped. Take this as a gift instead.”
“You should take this from me as well.”
The four Elder Dragons broke off their own scales, claws and fangs and gave them to Vandalieu. They told him that they would make it possible for him to become more powerful if given to suitable beings.
“That looks really painful. Are you alright?” Vandalieu asked.
The Elder Dragons were doing the same thing as Garess, but unlike him, what they did looked visibly painful.
“It’s no different from granting divine protections. It’s not a problem,” Lioen replied.
Vandalieu showed no reservation and took them. Of course, when he woke up, there was nothing in his hands.
The next day, Vandalieu and his companions headed for the Merfolk nation, which was at the southern end of the Boundary Mountain Range, even further south than the Majin nation. It was decided that Vandalieu would stay in a residence at the seashore.
Among the races created by Vida that did not possess a monster Rank, Merfolk were the most different in appearance from humans; they had the lower bodies of fish. Of course, they spent most of their lives in water, so most of the Merfolk nation’s facilities were underwater.
However, there were races other than Merfolk in the Merfolk nation, so there was a town on land for them as well. That was where Vandalieu and his companions stayed, and where they conducted discussions with the prominent figures of the Merfolk nation.
But Vandalieu transformed his tongue with the Demon King’s proboscis and stuck it above the water’s surface, allowing him to do something similar to snorkeling, to look around the Merfolk nation on his own.
“Good day, King! Where are you going with this anglerfish Merfolk?!” one of the Merfolk exclaimed, having mistaken the quietly-swimming Vandalieu for a Merfolk with the characteristics of a deep-sea fish due to the luminescent organ of the Demon King on the end of an antenna of the Demon King protruding from his forehead.
“Hello, I’m angler-Vandalieu,” Vandalieu said.
“… Vandalieu-dono, I believe you possess the Dark Vision Skill. Is lighting really necessary for looking around inside the ocean?” the Merfolk king asked, a serious expression on his face.
“… Sorry, I was just playing around.”
“The light will attract fish and plankton and reduce visibility, so please stop that.”
Vandalieu quickly withdrew his antenna.
He looked around and saw a wondrous, beautiful nation with houses made of stone and enormous spiral shells, decorated by coral and seaweed ornaments.
But the city was concentrated in an area that was shallower and closer to the land than Vandalieu had imagined.
Among the nations within the Boundary Mountain Range, this nation was the only one that was not sandwiched by the mountains, but it was actually surrounded by cliffs, whirlpools and Devil’s Seas, which were dangerous Devil’s Nests in oceans. Thus, it seemed that they had to live in the seas along the edge of the continent, unable to venture into the outside ocean.
“And there are some among the Merfolk who are not adept at swimming,” explained Tristan, the god of the seas, who had summoned Vandalieu to his Divine Realm on the night that Vandalieu had arrived in the Merfolk nation.
He was a subordinate god of Peria, the goddess of water and knowledge, and one of the parents of the Merfolk race.
“They’re not adept at swimming despite being Merfolk?” Vandalieu asked.
“The lower bodies of Merfolk are those of fish, but some of them have the lower bodies of seahorses and monkfish.”
“… I see.”
It seemed that there were all kinds of Merfolk. Those with the lower bodies of fish were proficient at swimming, but it seemed that there was no rule that stated that all Merfolk were good at swimming. Incidentally, it seemed that there were no Merfolk with the lower bodies of crustaceans, shellfish or jellyfish.
“By the way, I wanted to ask you something regarding your guidance… Could you not change it to Demon Dark Path? I think it would be a good change, as it could then be read as maameidou.”
“Is it possible to change the name of one’s own Skills?” Vandalieu asked.
“My apologies, that was a joke to loosen my own nerves,” Tristan said. “Now then, onto the main topic… I have a request for you regarding my former brethren, Yupeon and the other gods that joined Alda’s forces.”
Yupeon, the god of ice. He had been a subordinate god of Peria like Tristan, but he had joined Alda’s forces, not Vida’s.
He had never come into direct contact with Vandalieu, but his spirit clone had resided inside Ice Age, the Artifact spear that was wielded by Mikhail, who had been a hero of the Mirg shield-nation while he was alive.
Darcia’s resurrection had been delayed because that spirit clone destroyed Vida’s legacy, the resurrection device, that had been kept beneath Talosheim. On top of that, he had insulted Vandalieu and destroyed Bone Wolf and Bone Monkey, who had later become Knochen.
In the end, Vandalieu had broken and destroyed the spirit clone, but that incident had caused Yupeon, the source of the spirit clone, to become a sworn enemy of Talosheim.
But as Yupeon was a god, Vandalieu had previously thought that he wouldn’t be able to face him… but he had recently been summoned by gods frequently, and he had defeated an evil god only last year.
A battle against Yupeon could not be ruled out as impossible.
“… There are things that can and cannot be asked,” said Vandalieu.
He had remembered his hatred and anger towards Yupeon. A countless number of horns and fangs of the Demon King emerged on the surface of Vandalieu’s grotesque soul.
He was likely intending to suppress his anger, but Tristan felt a great pressure, incomparable to the pressure Lioen had felt when he spoke to Vandalieu improperly.
It was a good idea to lower the tension with a joke, Tristan thought.
“… If it comes to a battle against Alda’s gods, like your battle against Ravovifard, and they surrender and beg for their lives, I want you to hear them out. For the sake of the world,” Tristan said.
“For the sake of the world?” Vandalieu repeated.
“That’s right. Our master Peria-sama fell into slumber and I was forced out of my position as a god of the water attribute by Alda. There should not be enough gods in the world managing the water attribute right now. The other attributes are in a similar state, with the exception of the light attribute.”
As one of the generals of the army that had been on the losing side of the battle, Tristan couldn’t even imagine how Alda and his subordinates were maintaining the world now.
But the great gods were absent and the subordinate gods on Vida’s side had been exiled or sealed away. There was no doubt that there were not enough gods now.
Believers of the gods of Alda’s faction had ascended to become new gods over the past hundred thousand years, but both their numbers and abilities were barely enough to give the gods a temporary peace of mind.
“If Vida’s forces overcome Alda’s forces, wouldn’t there be enough gods once you and the others return to your positions as gods?” Vandalieu asked.
“After the battle, even if we were to win, many of the gods on Alda’s side will be exhausted, and we will not be unharmed, either,” Tristan said. “Therefore, I want to avoid too many gods being lost… though I think that things will hold together for a few thousand years even if there are not enough gods, and we will manage if Merrebeveil, Fidirg and the others participate in maintaining the world and become accustomed to the task.”
The latter part was the plan if the gods on Vida’s side were to win the upcoming battle.
The evil gods who had once been a part of the Demon King’s army but changed sides had never been involved in the maintenance of the world. The gods on Vida’s side expected that the world could be maintained if they were to cooperate.
… As a result, there might be more Devil’s Nests forming, strange creatures and plants being born and bizarre natural phenomena occurring, but those were already happening now. They had decided that this would be better than the world being on the verge of destruction.
“I see,” Vandalieu said with a nod. “I understand. If they surrender, I will think about accepting their pleas for mercy.”
“I thank you, our champion,” said Tristan, relieved that Vandalieu had agreed quicker than expected.
Xerxes, the god of battle flags, and Garess, the god of warriors, had thought that it would be impossible to convince Vandalieu and given up on even trying.
They had thought this because they had heard that Vandalieu’s personality generally didn’t allow him to discard his hatred. However, even Vandalieu wasn’t so hell-bent on gaining revenge that he would cause the world’s destruction in the process.
But there was one point that he would not yield on.
“Even if I can win, it will likely not be an easy battle,” said Vandalieu.
“… No, I think your chances against Yupeon are quite good,” said Tristan.
Yupeon had been one of the more influential gods among Peria’s subordinate gods, but he had been close to Tristan’s equal. Even if the difference had grown somewhat in the past hundred thousand years, he knew that it was unlikely that Yupeon had gained as much power as Ravovifard.
It might be a different story if Yupeon were to completely descend into a vessel in this world, but if that wasn’t the case, Vandalieu would almost certainly be victorious.
“Even if that’s the case, I can’t imagine that Yupeon and the other gods of Alda’s forces will surrender so easily. In fact, won’t there be quite a lot that will refuse to surrender even when faced with destruction?” Vandalieu asked.
His enemies were gods, after all. They had a different sense of values to that of humans.
And even humans threw away their lives for the sake of their religion. Vandalieu couldn’t imagine that the gods that were worshipped by such humans would surrender and lower themselves to denying their own teachings so easily, even if their lives were at stake.
“In that case, I do not mind if you devour and destroy them. All I wanted to say is that if they do surrender, I want you to ‘have no choice’ but to spare them, for the sake of the world,” said Tristan.
He also felt hatred for the way that he had been treated a hundred thousand years ago, and the way that the Merfolk, his children, had been treated ever since.
He and the other gods had once been brethren, brothers-in-arms. But they were enemies now. If Yupeon and the others refused to change their ways of thinking and insisted on causing harm to his children, coming to a firm decision was the natural thing to do as a god.
“I am relieved to hear that answer,” said Vandalieu.
The moment he spoke those words, Tristan’s coral-reef-like Divine Realm faded and disappeared. It seemed that the audience was over.
However, Vandalieu didn’t lose consciousness.
Normally, he lost consciousness when he returned from a Divine Realm, and it would be morning when he woke up.
He wondered if he had been summoned to another god’s Divine Realm, but that didn’t seem to be the case, either.
He wasn’t losing his consciousness, but it was rapidly becoming less clear. He was in a state where he didn’t have any senses, and he felt like his thoughts were becoming duller as well.
“I see, so this is a dream…”
Vandalieu realized that he was having a dream for the first time in a while.
At the same time, he also realized that the protuberances and scales that he had received from Garess, Lioen and the others were in his hands.
As his mind had been dulled, Vandalieu couldn’t think about the meaning behind this. But there was something like a path in front of him, so he began crawling along it.