In his own Divine Realm, Rodcorte regretted the decision that he had made approximately three years ago.
That decision was having the ‘Perseus’ Samejima Yuuri reincarnated in the Legston family of earls.
It had been immediately after the ‘Gungnir’ Kaidou Kanata’s soul was broken by Vandalieu. It was the time when Rodcorte had become significantly more wary of Vandalieu. But three of the reincarnated individuals, including Perseus, had refused to fight Vandalieu, saying that they wanted nothing to do with him.
And so, Rodcorte had reincarnated them in environments where they would likely one day be forced to confront Vandalieu whether they wanted to or not.
“The decision should not have been an incorrect one at the time,” Rodcorte murmured to himself.
Vandalieu had already acquired the Dead Spirit Magic Skill at the time, but he hadn’t acquired the Guider Job, and while the Demon King’s blood resided in his body, he hadn’t ever activated it… or least, Rodcorte hadn’t been aware that he had.
And because Vandalieu had thought of the Mirg shield-nation and the Amid Empire that ruled it as threats at the time, he had always been vigilant against them but never made any moves into the enemy nations himself.
That was why Rodcorte had predicted that there would be time before Perseus and the others would have to face Vandalieu, at least enough to develop to some extent… at least enough for them to become adults or teenagers at the very least.
In order to protect the reincarnated individuals’ minds, Rodcorte had made it so that their memories and personalities would not return until five or six years after their reincarnation. It could be assumed that one of the reasons Vandalieu gained strength at an abnormal rate was because this safeguard had been removed for some reason, resulting in him regaining his memories and personality immediately after being born and then gaining strength on his own in order to survive.
Rodcorte guessed that this advantage was what had allowed him to defeat Gungnir and destroy his soul at the age of seven. At the same time, he had also guessed that this development would not continue for much longer.
The races of Lambda were far superior to the humans of Earth and Origin in physical ability and fighting strength, but they would always encounter walls in their development process.
Even Vandalieu, who was born as one of Vida’s races – a Dhampir – shouldn’t have been an exception to this.
“But less than three years after that, he developed so much that he was able to crush members of the Fifteen Evil-breaking Swords, who are among the strongest of Lambda’s humans. Ah, there was an Elf and a half-Elf as well, right?” said Aran.
“Elves and Dwarves count as humans in that world,” Izumi pointed out. “More importantly, what are we going to do? About Samejima… Sarua. At this rate, he’ll be taken to Talosheim soon.”
Rodcorte remained silent.
To think that Vandalieu’s development hadn’t stopped… in fact, it had accelerated, defying Rodcorte’s expectations. Now that things had come to this, having Perseus reincarnated in the Legston family of earls, with whom Vandalieu had connections to, could only be called a mistake.
If Perseus was reincarnated in the family of the marshal that had sent the Mirg shield-nation’s expedition army to Talosheim, born to a father who had lost his younger brother and his family’s reputation with the expedition’s failure, would he not feel a desire to fight against Vandalieu once he became an adult?
“That’s probably what you were thinking, but… I think you should have thought more about the circumstances that humans face,” sighed the ‘Oracle’ Endou Kouya, who had joined Aran and Izumi in becoming Rodcorte’s familiar spirits.
The hatred for Vandalieu of Cecil Legston and the rest of the Legston family of earls was far less than Rodcorte had imagined.
It wasn’t that they had no hatred at all, but most of it was directed at the commanders of the expedition army who had made the expedition happen and the filthy traitor who had connections to the Pure-breed Vampires, Earl Mauvid. And it was the Amid Empire’s government who hadn’t stopped that traitor.
At the time, information regarding Vandalieu had been even more limited than it was now, and the Legston family had only known of him as ‘something terrible that haunts the other side of the Boundary Mountain Range.’ That was one of the reasons, but their negative feelings were directed towards the Amid Empire, with whom they had already felt discontent to begin with, and Earl Mauvid, whose existence they clearly knew of.
That was the same after Vandalieu had made contact with them and met them face to face.
Chezare, who had been presumed to be dead, had become an Undead and was now in the important position of what was essentially a prime minster. And the family’s third son Kurt had survived, becoming one of Vandalieu’s important vassals. Cecil and Alsard had complicated emotions regarding these truths.
Aran had looked through and analyzed the records, and his conclusion was that their emotions towards Vandalieu were that they wanted to thank him but weren’t sure whether it was appropriate for them to do so.
It would have been normal for the Legston family… no, almost any ordinary family in the world, to raise their voices in anger at the fact that their relatives had been turned into Undead and cry over the fact that their peaceful post-death rest had been disturbed.
That was what Rodcorte had expected.
But the Undead Chezare appeared no different from when he was alive other than his pale face and dead eyes. He possessed almost all of his memories and knowledge, and he had appeared before his father and older brother looking far more content than he had when he was alive.
It seemed that this had caused the Legston family to greatly question everything that they had known about Undead that was considered common knowledge.
As a result of several discussions after that, it had been secretly confirmed that they would defect to Talosheim. Of course, they would take Sarua with them.
“‘Depending on how we interpret this, this might become a large chance to kill Vandalieu. Samejima… Sarua will successfully infiltrate Talosheim and will be a family member of an important vassal. Nobody will suspect him. Information gathering will be smooth from now on, too…’ You’re not thinking anything along these lines, are you?” Izumi asked Rodcorte through half-closed eyes. “That’s impossible,” she added, before Rodcorte could reply. “You don’t even need to ask for Aran’s Calculation and Kouya’s Oracle to know that. You know, us Bravers have no experience in long-term undercover investigations. Excluding Murakami and his friends, that is.”
In Origin, the Bravers had originally been an organization that carried out rescue missions in disasters and accidents. With the extermination of an Undead that had appeared in a secret research laboratory of a certain military nation… Vandalieu, they had started fighting against terrorists and armed groups as well, but ordinary criminal investigations were carried out by the nations’ law enforcement agencies.
Thus, Sarua didn’t have the skills needed to act as an undercover agent for years at a time. The abilities that he had been given by Rodcorte wouldn’t be of any direct use for this purpose, either.
“It seems that he has forgotten his memories and personality from his previous lives, so he’s an ordinary baby, but… once he regains them, he’ll be suspected right away,” said Izumi.
Vandalieu’s origins had been made public in Talosheim. If Sarua acted too strangely, he would certainly be questioned.
“I’ll ask you just to be sure, but can’t you do anything about it? You’re a god, aren’t you?” said Kouya.
Finally, Rodcorte spoke. “It is impossible. Not unless I use an extreme, irreversible method such as descending upon the world of Lambda with the resolve to use every ounce of the power that I have stored up, walking into the Mirg shield-nation’s city and releasing Perseus’s soul from his body to reclaim it.”
“… That’s something a space monster would do, not a god. And you said ‘release,’ but don’t you mean that you’re just going to kill him?” said Kouya.
“His soul will not be broken, so there will be a future for him. Of course, that would only be the case if I am not destroyed. The options available to me are limited because I am a god,” Rodcorte said.
Sometimes, especially in worlds like Earth and Origin where the existence of gods hadn’t been made clear, humans would deny that any gods existed, thinking that the irrational things that happened in front of their eyes would not be allowed if gods did exist.
But the opposite was true. It was because gods existed that irrational things were allowed to happen. That was just how it was.
“His memories, personality and power from his previous lives returned temporarily when he met Legion and heard Vandalieu’s name, but he has forgotten them again. His Attribute Values have returned to those of an infant, too. Therefore, I cannot offer him any help from here,” said Rodcorte. “Normally, the body would not be able to handle those until it is at least five years old, so he would be fortunate just to have returned to normal without any lasting damage.”
It seemed that he had become careless from repeating the reincarnation process. This incident had taught Rodcorte that. He would be more careful from now on.
“Vandalieu is able to guide souls away from my system, into Vida’s system. As an ordinary baby with his mind not having returned, Perseus’s soul will certainly be led to Vida’s system,” said Rodcorte.
And once his mind did return, the fact that he was a reincarnated individual would quickly be discovered.
Needless to say, it would be impossible for the other reincarnated individuals to rescue him after that.
The other two who had been reincarnated at the same time as Perseus were babies like him; Rodcorte couldn’t send Divine Messages to them.
Asagi and his companions had been reincarnated on the Orbaume Kingdom’s side of the continent, so it didn’t seem physically possible for them to reach him in time… and even if they did, it wouldn’t be feasible for them to smuggle themselves into the country and then kidnap the eldest son of a family of earls.
The Legston family were even more unknown to Asagi and his companions than Vandalieu; they were nothing more than inhabitants of an enemy nation. It was questionable as to whether they would even be able to have a conversation with the Legston family, let alone convince them.
As for the ‘Noah’ Mao, she had already made her preparations to leave the Bahn Gaia continent and was waiting for her ship to leave.
There was no use in even trying Murakami and Kanako’s groups, though each group had their own reasons for that.
“Thus, there is nothing I can do,” Rodcorte concluded, giving up on Perseus.
There was a small hope. Perseus might not be guided before regaining his memories and power, or he could die in an unfortunate incident before being guided.
In such circumstances, Rodcorte would be able to reach out a hand and save him somehow.
As long as neither of these happened, Rodcorte had no choice but to treat Perseus as a precious sample.
Unlike Minuma Hitomi, who was one of Legion’s personalities, none of Lambda’s gods had laid hands on him. Would he still be guided?
If he was, would he still be able to use the cheat-like ability given to him by Rodcorte despite belonging to Vida’s circle of reincarnation system?
Perseus was an experimental subject to investigate these questions.
Rodcorte was a god who ruled over reincarnation, in charge of maintaining and managing a smooth system. That was why he didn’t take human emotions and circumstances into account like Kouya had suggested.
To him, humans were nothing more than resources that provided souls to pass through the conveyor belt that was his circle of reincarnation system.
Rodcorte had continued to exist this way long before the first organisms were born on Earth. Without even realizing it, he had become a god for whom it was normal to ignore the emotions of nature, humans and gods other than himself.
Even now, he was aware that Aran and his other familiar spirits were discontent with his decision, but he did not reconsider his thoughts.
The only thing Aran and the others could do now was pray that their companions’ souls would not be broken.
Vandalieu flew through the night sky over the Mirg shield-nation’s royal capital with Flight, holding a map in one hand.
He had completely covered himself with a black cloth just in case, but he was using Blind Spot, the Dark King Magic spell that almost completely erased his presence, so it was unlikely that he would be noticed.
… Though the spirits inside the royal capital always flocked to Vandalieu whenever he came here, so if there was a Spiritualist in the city, they would notice something abnormal.
Well, there was no way to conceal that, so it couldn’t be helped.
I’ll run away in the unlikely event someone interferes, and I just need to accomplish my objective and then go home.
If he was surrounded by guards or stopped by adventurers, he just needed to run; he was strong enough to do that. Knowing this, he looked down at the townscape below him, getting serious.
Indeed, there was nothing that caused a reaction from Vandalieu’s Danger Sense: Death spell.
Well, being overconfident isn’t good, so I’ve done everything I can.
He had set up surveillance Golems and Undead around the houses of the Legston family and their relatives to watch for any suspicious movements. He asked the spirits whether there were any powerful enemy forces like the Fifteen Evil-breaking Swords.
And the desertion of the Legston family of earls and those related to them was already complete.
They had gotten inside Sam’s carriage, then Vandalieu had equipped Sam with Group Binding Technique, then Legion had used Teleportation to bring them to Talosheim.
After that, Vandalieu had come back here once more with Legion’s Teleportation.
None of the things that Chezare and Kurt had worried about had happened.
They were likely giving a detailed explanation of Talosheim to the Legston family right about now.
… Come to think of it, Sarua-kun froze and stared at me. Am I really that scary? Vandalieu wondered, touching his own face as he remembered Chezare and Kurt’s young nephew.
The reason for Sarua’s strange behavior was that he had regained his memories and personality once more and become unable to move as he noticed Vandalieu staring at him. But Vandalieu had not yet noticed that Sarua was a reincarnated individual. He hadn’t even expected such a thing to be possible.
That was because he assumed that even Rodcorte wouldn’t be that stupid.
Since he was unaware of the situation on Rodcorte’s side and also not particularly aware that he had gained power at an extremely abnormal speed, that was a natural assumption to make.
A reincarnated individual reborn into a noble family of the Mirg shield-nation, one involved with its army at that, could be killed before they even became old enough to be self-aware.
That was why neither Vandalieu nor Minuma Hitomi of Legion were suspicious of Sarua.
Now then, Earl Palpapek’s mansion is…
Vandalieu followed the route he was supposed to take, looking at the map drawn for him by Cecil Legston. According to the information he had received from him and Alsard, Thomas Palpapek had placed his family in a second residence under the pretense of receiving medical treatment, and there should only be a few servants and guards in the mansion now.
It’s very helpful that his family isn’t in the mansion. It’s because Mom’s reincarnation is in sight that I have to dispose of him.
Vandalieu had to reduce the chance of Earl Palpapek plotting to kill his mother a second time to zero. That was why he had to kill him now while he still could.
With these thoughts in mind, Vandalieu looked at the mansion in front of him and noticed something strange.
The spirits were clamoring, telling him that it was dangerous. And he could sense an extraordinary presence inside the mansion himself, too.
But the reaction from Danger Sense: Death was dim.
Why? Is there a really strong enemy that I know inside? Vandalieu thought doubtfully as he changed the shape of the mansion’s wall with the Golem Creation Skill and snuck inside.
As Thomas Palpapek entrusted his belongings and his life to an old man, he made an expression that was as if he was holding back a deep sadness.
“Don’t make that face, old man. It’s just in case, for a very unlikely situation,” Thomas said.
But the expression on the face of the old man, the steward who had been serving the Palpapek family since Thomas was a boy, didn’t change.
“… Bocchan, why not assemble all of the knights serving your family right now… all of the forces that can be mustered from the Adventurers’ Guild? No, should you not escape to the royal palace instead?” the steward said.
“I can’t do that, old man,” said Thomas.
But the old man didn’t stop speaking. “You are someone that is absolutely needed by the Mirg shield-nation now; no matter what the circumstances that you cannot tell this old man are, His Majesty the king should not refuse you. He should do everything in his power to help you.”
The old man’s words were mostly correct. Thomas was someone who was necessary to rebuild the shield-nation’s army, and he was the most capable among the people of the military-related families of earls.
The Mirg shield-nation’s king would do almost anything to protect him. The old man was confident that even if Thomas had stained his hands with criminal acts, the king would cover it up.
And if the circumstances that Thomas faced were enough for a king to abandon a man that was essential for his nation… if Thomas were the leader of a large-scale criminal organization, or if he had assassinated an important person in the empire that the Mirg shield-nation served, the steward would have taken notice of such circumstances, no matter how well Thomas had hidden them.
Since that wasn’t the case, Thomas should be able to get through by clinging to His Majesty the king.
“It is true that this would become a large debt to the royal family, and things may become difficult in the future as a result. But it would all be worth it if it means that you live on, Bocchan,” the steward insisted.
But Thomas’s answer didn’t change.
“Old man, I can’t do that… That would mean exposing His Majesty the king, and the entire royal palace, to danger,” he said.
The old man was astonished by this response. And then he felt a hunch. The master he had served had stepped past a line that he shouldn’t have; he had stepped on the tail of a being that he shouldn’t have disturbed.
“How… How could this be… Bocchan… this old man is filled with regret,” the steward said.
“Don’t say anything more, old man. If you can’t confirm that I’m alive tomorrow, follow what’s written in this will and take care of my wives and children,” said Thomas. “If I’m still alive tomorrow, burn the will and continue serving me as you have done until yesterday.”
“… As you wish,” said the old man as he took Thomas’s will, and then he left the room.
When the old man’s footsteps could no longer be heard, another voice spoke.
“It’s like you’re bidding goodbye to this life, Earl-sama. Is that how little you trust us?”
The voice spoke in a rough tone that was unthinkable to direct at Thomas, who was an earl. Normally, such an insolent person would be reprimanded on the spot.
But Thomas didn’t raise his voice as he responded. “I do trust you,” he said. “It’s because I trust you that I’ve paid you a great sum of money to protect me, without going through the Adventurers’ Guild, keeping your existence a secret from the old man and my wives.”
The owner of the voice undid his spiritual magic spell and revealed himself. He was one of the people who had sent Thomas a letter about ten days ago. They had offered to protect Thomas from Vandalieu in exchange for a great sum of money and keeping their existence a secret, and Thomas had seized this chance as his last hope.
“And it was you people who said that something is coming today. You even told me to send the servants and knights out of the mansion until then,” said Thomas.
“It’s not like I’ve forgotten. I’m still sober today, see,” said the other man. “It’s only considerate to send away the servants and small-fry that would only get in the way, isn’t it? Even we wouldn’t be able to win while protecting more people in addition to you. But… couldn’t you have had everyone leave?”
There wasn’t a single servant left inside the mansion. But there were still about ten knights that served the Palpapek family.
Thomas had sent several of them outside the mansion to protect the steward, but the rest of them hadn’t left the mansion, stubbornly refusing to obey even Thomas’s orders.
“That really is not because I don’t trust you people, but because they are knights, they cannot leave this place,” said Thomas.
Even if he were to explain to them that they might die, leaving their master alone because they valued their own lives would be more problematic for knights.
“I think a living dog is better than a dead lion, but I suppose the adventurer business is different from being a knight,” said the other man.
Knights were defined by their honor; their families’ meals and their social status were provided by that honor. Thus, the knights that served Thomas, the marshal that was building the nation’s army, could not leave his side.
“More importantly… is he actually going to come?” Thomas asked.
A short while ago, a man had appeared in Thomas’s office and given a warning: “I don’t know what it is. But it’s definitely coming this way. It’s probably the Dhampir that you’re afraid of, Danna.”
“Yeah, it’s not something as unreliable as a gut instinct. The spirits are withering. Nobody would notice other than spirit users that are as skilled as me, but… it seems like you’ve made an enemy of someone terrible,” the man said.
Thomas gave a bitter smile. Someone terrible indeed.
If he had known this ten years ago, he would have cut ties with the Pure-breed Vampires and tried to support Vandalieu.
If he had done that, perhaps the Mirg shield-nation’s independence would have been merely a small problem.
Now that Thomas thought about it, not having done that might have been the greatest of the mistakes that had led to the current situation.
“Oh, he’s come into the mansion. He’s skillfully putting your loyal knights to sleep and headed this way right now,” the man said.
Hearing these words, Thomas stood up from his chair and shook off the impossible delusions in his mind. A nervous, sweaty hand grasped the handle of the sword at his waist.
The sword was a high-class Magic Item, worthy of the head of a family of earls that controlled the nation’s army. It was a top-class item among magic swords below legendary-class that could currently be created by humans. But even this weapon and Thomas’s ability to fight provided no peace of mind against the enemy that was approaching now.
“Where are the other four of you?” Thomas asked the man.
“One is hidden and focused entirely on defending you. The other three are a little further away, as a part of a strategy to defeat the enemy. And I’m waiting here with you, exposing myself, to draw his attention,” said the man.
These words provided much more relief to Thomas than his weapon. The five most powerful people on the Bahn Gaia continent were with him.
“Now that you’ve calmed down, he’s here,” the man said.
Before he even finished speaking, the door opened without warning. A white Dhampir boy silently entered the room.
Thomas’s mind froze in response to the fact that Vandalieu had arrived with no introduction whatsoever other than the man’s brief words.
Meanwhile, the Dhampir boy… Vandalieu, looked from Thomas to the other man in confusion.
“I’ll ask just to be sure. Between the military-nobleman-looking person and the person with the nice body and mohawk, which of you is Earl Thomas Palpapek?” he asked.
“Wait a second, there’s no way someone like me could be a nobleman. And what do you mean, nice body?!” protested the man… the dark-skinned man with a mohawk and leather clothes with sharp, aggressive-looking decorations.
Vandalieu stared intently at him. “I thought it could be possible,” he said.
He thought that if there was an emperor like him, it was possible for a man with a nice body and the fashion sense of a 90’s punk could be a nobleman.
“No, there’s no way. I’ve never seen even the stupidest, most useless of noblemen have hairstyles like mine,” the man said.
Thomas’s mind rebooted and he interrupted the words of the man… a member of the S-class adventurer party known as the Storm of Tyranny, the spirit-user by the name of Dalton.
“Dalton-kun… keep your jokes in moderation. Though I suppose if one is as strong as you are, making small talk with the enemy is something like a greeting,” he muttered, looking at Vandalieu once more.
Vandalieu’s special features matched the description given by the adventurer from seven years ago. He was small for his age, and his size coupled with the paleness of his skin made him look frail.
But if one looked past the fact that his presence was so weak that it felt like he would vanish with a blink of the eyes and the fact that he was as expressionless as a doll, they would see that the lack of openings in his movements was abnormal.
It was clear that he possessed high-Level combat-related Skills.
“I’m the Mirg shield-nation’s marshal, Earl Thomas Palpapek,” Thomas said. “So you’re the ‘Ghoul King’ Vandalieu?”
“Yes. I’m the ‘Ghoul Emperor’ now, though,” Vandalieu said, swallowing his saliva and looking up at Thomas.
Other than being a little more well-featured than most, Thomas appeared to be an ordinary military nobleman. He was quite skilled, but it seemed that Vandalieu would be able to beat him to death quite easily without even using the Demon King’s fragments or even any magic.
The reaction from Danger Sense: Death was quite dull, too.
That was the great difference between Vandalieu and Thomas’s first impressions of each other.
“So, why are you here, Dalton-san? Are the other people of the Storm of Tyranny here as well?” Vandalieu asked.
“Of course, they are protecting me –”
“Protecting this old man,” Dalton said, cutting Thomas off. “Incidentally, I’m the only one that’s in this country right now.”
Thomas looked at Dalton, startled.
Dalton took no notice of this and continued speaking. “Ah, by the way, I’m a Dark Elf, not a dark-skinned human. Look,” he said, removing a Magic Item that disguised him and revealing his long, thin ears.
Thomas stumbled backwards in shock, but neither Dalton or Vandalieu even glanced at him.
“Oh, so you were a Dark Elf after all. By the way, is that hairstyle and that fashion for your disguise as well?” Vandalieu asked.
“Hmm? No, they’re just my own tastes, but… are they old-fashioned? The elders of my hidden village told me that this was the latest fashion of their own generation,” said Dalton.
Vandalieu imagined a hidden village that had probably been full of Dark Elves with mohawks at the time.
“… I’m glad Mom wasn’t influenced by that,” he muttered. “Leaving that aside, why were you doing something like that? Was it to make contact with me?” he asked Dalton.
Making use of Thomas Palpapek, the one responsible for the death of Vandalieu’s mother, in order to make contact with Vandalieu. Naturally, this was a plan that had been thought of by both Emperor Marshukzarl of the Amid Empire and the Pure-breed Vampire Birkyne.
But neither of them had executed this plan.
One of the reasons for that was because it was greatly questionable as to whether Thomas Palpapek would be useful as bait in his current state. But the largest reason was because the objectives of both Marshukzarl and Birkyne could be summarized as wanting to erase their hostile relationships with Vandalieu.
They feared that they would be seen as enemies just by making contact with Vandalieu when he came to kill Thomas. Laying a hand on Thomas might be considered as interference with Vandalieu’s revenge and have the opposite effect from what was intended.
And since even the Fifteen Evil-breaking Swords couldn’t be relied upon to deal with Vandalieu, Marshukzarl had chosen a more reliable method.
As for Birkyne, there was a high chance that Vandalieu would simply bury his close aides, those equivalent to Ternecia’s ‘Five Dogs,’ if he dispatched them. Thus, he had decided that this was a poor way to try to placate and make use of Vandalieu.
The only ones who had executed this plan was the Storm of Tyranny. However, the way they had executed the plan was strange if their objective was simply to meet Vandalieu.
“No, that’s not really it. The truth is we’re doing all kinds of things now so that we can cross the Boundary Mountain Range to see you, but we’re scared that if we move our assets like the funds in our Guild accounts around too much, troublesome guys will catch onto us,” said Dalton. “So, we secretly sent this request to this earl to have him supply the money, and then that’s when you showed up tonight.”
Dalton and his companions had a considerable number of connections, but they didn’t have their own intelligence network. Thus, in the current situation where they were not in contact with gods like Farmaun Gold, their ability to gather information was inferior to Marshukzarl’s.
However, they had known that Thomas had been deeply involved in the incident in which Vandalieu’s mother Darcia was killed. Though they had never found solid evidence, they had also been certain that he was involved with the Pure-breed Vampires who worshipped an evil god, too.
That was why they had conducted this fraud. By making it seem that Vandalieu’s presence was lurking around, by making it seem like they knew things.
“Well, there was the fact that the spirits around here have been moving strangely these days, and Schneider and Lissana apparently saw you in their dreams, so we thought that something was probably going to happen, but… it’s almost a complete coincidence that we could meet tonight,” Dalton continued. “By the way, has something happened in relation to the goddess lately? I’ve never been able to acquire the Familiar Spirit Descent Skill, but I suddenly acquired it without warning.”
Thomas had been listening to this conversation unfold in confusion, thinking that it was a part of the next plan, but he interrupted Dalton now. “W-wait! You bastard, what are you saying?!” he shouted.
Dalton grimaced. “To put it simply, we’re followers of Vida, and I’m a Dark Elf, a member of the same race as this guy’s mother, the one you had killed. We tricked you. This is enough of a pleasant memory for you to take into the afterlife, right? I’ve just told you top-secret stuff that very few people know, like the emperor and his close aides.”
“Wha –?! Y-you bastaaaards! You tricked me?!” Thomas shouted in rage, drawing his sword.
“Well, yeah,” Dalton said lightly, not even taking a fighting stance. “So, what will you do? I don’t intend to get in your way. Should I dispose of him for you?” he asked Vandalieu, who wasn’t showing any killing intent or anger whatsoever despite having come here for revenge.
At that moment, Thomas’s face stiffened not with anger, but fear.
He had remembered that his unsheathed magic sword and own fighting strength offered no protection against this enemy.
“I gratefully accept your kind thoughts,” Vandalieu said to Dalton, and then he gazed at Thomas with eyes that were filled with nothingness.
Thomas had a resolve to face death, but it fell to pieces at that moment.
The Storm of Tyranny, whom he had been relying upon as his most powerful allies, had turned out to be a gathering of Vida followers and members of Vida’s races, and they had been tricking him from the very beginning. The shock of learning this was too great for him.
And now that his hope had vanished, Thomas’s mind had lost the support that it needed for him to face his own end.
“W-wait. It’s true that I am one of the causes of your mother’s death. I admit it!” Thomas shouted.
There was something behind Vandalieu’s bottomless-swamp-like eyes, gazing at Thomas. The hand holding his sword trembled in fear.
“But in this nation… in the Amid Empire and all of its vassal nations, having children with Vampires is considered a crime! It has been for hundreds of years, ever since the empire’s foundation! Your mother should have known that!”
“She probably did. I’ve never confirmed it with her, but I do think that she knew,” said Vandalieu.
Meanwhile, he was making a choice from the decorations that Thomas was wearing. His belt buckle? Cufflinks? No, I’ll take that ring that has his family crest on it.
“In other words, my father and mother are criminals in this nation. From the view of this nation, my mother being burned at the stake was nothing more than the passing of judgment. Which means that my hatred is unjustified. After all, I’m taking revenge for my parents who knowingly broke a law that has been in existence since the foundation of the nation,” Vandalieu said.
Thomas’s face loosened for a moment. “Th-that’s right, so…”
“So, Earl Palpapek, as someone who has been making deals with Vampires who worship an evil god, who will you ask to stop this Dhampir from carrying out his unjustified revenge?”
Thomas’s face stiffened once more.
“In the end, what determines what is white and what is black in this world is power. The authority of kings and nobles, the will of the people, the violence that overrides these. Whether hatred is justified or not, if there is enough power to eliminate those who would oppose it and carry it out using force, then that’s enough. With that being the case, my unjustified hatred is just as valid as the way you people oppressed Dhampirs and the other races created by Vida,” said Vandalieu, approaching Thomas one step at a time, as if to torment him. “By the way, aren’t you going to summon anyone to oppose me?”
Thomas felt a deep despair. He knew that there were none who could stop Vandalieu.
His own strength didn’t even need to be mentioned, and he didn’t know whether his remaining knights were even still alive…
He gave an unconscious glance in Dalton’s direction.
Dalton gave a scornful laugh. “Did you want something from this Dark Elf, Earl-danna? You yourself are a traitor of the nation who was making deals with Vampires worshipping an evil god, aren’t you? According to your law, that’s another crime worthy of beheading, burning at the stake or hanging, you know?”
“F-for the sake of the nation, this nation, I swallowed that bitter pill and still had to remain standing!” Thomas shouted.
“… I mean, it’s not that I really care about what happens to this nation,” said Vandalieu.
Startled by Vandalieu's voice, Thomas returned his gaze in front of him just as a countless number of insects and plant branches emerged from within.
“To tell you the truth, I’m not interested in your motives and why you did those things,” Vandalieu said. “Because no matter what they are, my hatred and fear will not fade away.”
As Thomas heard the grinding of insect jaws and saw a woman with branches emerging from her back, he realized that this was the end for him, no matter what he said.
But even though he understood it, his mouth didn’t stop speaking.
“… The only one involved in the incident in which your mother was killed is me. My family, my servants and my knights are all uninvolved. They don’t know anything, so –”
“More importantly, aren’t you going to use that sword?” Vandalieu asked. “If you are, I don’t mind waiting.”
Thomas remembered that he was still holding his sword.
Overcome by an impulse that he couldn’t resist, he activated martial skills and swung his sword at Vandalieu.
“Kuh! Rapid Reaction! Instant Flash!”
His footsteps had never been so nimble; his sword had never felt as fast in his entire life as it did now.
It was a terribly slow movement compared to the charge of a Rank 12 Archdemon Lord, however.
Vandalieu effortlessly deflected Thomas’s magic sword with his claws, sending it flying away. Emptiness filled Thomas’s eyes.
“Now then, please eat everything other than his right hand,” Vandalieu commanded.
The insect monsters including Pete and Eisen’s branches flooded in towards Thomas. His dying screams were quickly drowned out by the sound of their feeding.
And as Thomas’s soul emerged, Vandalieu grasped it, broke it and devoured it.
“I don’t give a damn what happens to your family and vassals,” he muttered.
He became briefly intoxicated by the flavor that filled his mouth as he devoured Thomas’s soul and the refreshing feeling of having taken revenge against one more enemy.
Thomas Palpapek had been an earl, but still a mere human. It was something in Vandalieu’s mind that made him feel like his soul was more delicious than that of a familiar spirit. It was said that the sense of taste was affected by the current state of mind, after all.
But doesn’t that mean I’ve been wanting to kill my enemies by devouring them? Hmm, this might be a dangerous thought. I’ll be more careful next time, Vandalieu thought as he savored the aftertaste of Thomas’s soul. Ah, my Level increased, too.
Pete was holding Thomas’s right hand in his mouth, offering it to Vandalieu. “Gishaah.”
“Hmm, thank you,” said Vandalieu.
At that moment, Dalton, who had been calm until Thomas’s death but was now a little shaken by Vandalieu’s un-childlike behavior and the way he had killed Thomas, called out to him.
“Ah. Could I have a moment? I’d like to talk about what’s going to happen from now on.”
Dalton had heard some things from the raging evil dragon god Luvesfol whom he and his party had partially sealed and from the heroic god Farmaun Gold. But Luvesfol had only experienced a single battle with Vandalieu in which the marshlands had been taken from him, and Farmaun didn’t know the details of what Vandalieu was capable of either.
But there were various things that Dalton needed to talk about and decide upon with Vandalieu, which was more important than asking questions about each and every thing that he had just witnessed.
“We can’t really do it here, so I want to change locations,” he said.
“Very well. But I have two more tasks that need to be done now, so can we discuss things while I do them?” Vandalieu asked as he re-absorbed Pete and the other monsters into his body.
Dalton frowned. “It’s not that I don’t understand how you feel, but… I can’t recommend that you go to the Baby Bird’s Relaxation or Lakira.”
The former was a high-class inn with proper security, where the servants including the old steward had fled to, and the latter was the town in which the Palpapek family’s second residence was, the location of Thomas’s wife and children.
Dalton didn’t have favorable emotions towards this nation’s nobles, and he hadn’t lived a life that made him qualified to explain the meaninglessness of revenge. But the sight of women and children being devoured alive wouldn’t be a pleasant one. That would be even more true if the one carrying that murder out was someone who was loved by the goddess.
Dalton was hoping that Vandalieu would give up on that.
“No, I’m going to the base of some criminals called the Ahrai Family,” said Vandalieu.
It seemed that Dalton’s guess had been wrong.
“I-is that right? Then it’s fine. By the way, why are you mentioning a mafia group like the Ahrai Family?” he asked.
“I’ll explain on the way,” said Vandalieu. “By the way, if you’re hungry, would you like to eat something? If you don’t mind dried fish, I can give you some right now.”
“No, that’s not why I mentioned an inn!”
“My dried fish and other food has become strangely delicious lately. I’m confident in it, you know? Or would you prefer some fruit?”
As they shared this conversation, Vandalieu left the Palpapek mansion with Dalton, holding Thomas’s right hand.
The only thing he had left behind was a chipped magic sword and a large puddle of blood.
【Ushioni Samurai Master】
A race that was born when Gizania, an Arachne Samurai Master, received Vandalieu’s Guidance.
Horns resembling those of a bull have grown from her temples, and the physical strength of her entire body has increased. Also, she has gained regenerative abilities and the ability to secrete venom.
Her chest has become larger, but as this occurred without warning inside a Dungeon, Gizania was a little troubled by this – in terms of her armor’s size.
A superior Skill awakened from Hostility. It includes the effect of Hostility, and further increases damage dealt to gods and their followers such as heroic spirits and familiar spirits, as well as to those who have received the divine protections of gods.
This effect also applies against those who have activated the Familiar Spirit Descent Skill or its superior versions.