Vandalieu was using the no-attribute spell Flight to fly around inside a room that was luxurious but filled with the smell of blood, making a selection.
This room’s owner was the boss of the Ahrai Family, an armed mafia group that had recently established its dominance using violent methods.
And that boss was currently the source of the smell of blood.
The Black Goblin Ninjas led by Braga reported the results of their work to Vandalieu.
“King, we’ve disposed of everyone you told us to.”
“We’ve not disposed of everyone you didn’t tell us to.”
“Did we do good? Did we do good?”
“Yes, thank you, everyone,” said Vandalieu. “As for the ones that are still alive, I’ll decide later whether to kill them or erase their memories.”
The Black Goblin Ninjas had disposed of the Ahrai Family’s boss, all of the high-ranking members and all of their guards inside the building.
They had done so using methods such as stabbing them in the abdomen multiple times, splitting their heads open with axes or simply beating them to death, making it appear as if they had been killed in a dispute with another criminal organization.
Vandalieu placed Thomas’s severed hand on top of the boss’s desk. “I’ll leave the hand that’s wearing the ring with the Palpapek’s family crest on it here… Come out.”
A man that Vandalieu had equipped with Group Binding Technique emerged from inside him.
Dalton, who had accompanied Vandalieu here, let out a small groan as he saw the face of this man, who had cuts made by a bladed weapon all over his face.
“Is that the ‘Limb Tearer’ Boramo? He’s a dangerous hitman who was originally a mercenary, and he’s killed dozens of people. I’ve seen posters of him in the Adventurers’ Guild a bunch of times, saying that he’s wanted dead or alive,” Dalton said. “He was in this city?”
“Yes. He’s the most well-known among the people that I’ve killed, and he’s the kind of person who might do something like this,” said Vandalieu.
Whenever he had snuck into the Mirg shield-nation’s royal capital in order to persuade the Legston family to join him, spirits had flocked to him and told him about the criminals who had killed them.
But he hadn’t been able to create any disturbances until the Legston family’s move to Talosheim was complete, so he had only killed the assassins and criminals that had been working on their own.
And among the criminals that he had killed, he’d had Luciliano create Live-Dead from the corpses of the ones who had made killing their profession, then brought them here.
“I will kill this Boramo person here again with one of the swords that are used by the Ahrai Family’s bodyguards,” Vandalieu said.
He gave several rough swings of the sword and killed the Live-Dead Boramo. The smell of blood in the room grew even thicker.
“With this, I’ve created a scenario where the Ahrai Family who sent out a request for the assassination of Thomas Palpapek had a conflict with Boramo and the other assassins they hired, ending up in a bloodbath,” he explained. “Once I kill the other Live-Dead assassins, place them in other locations, and then take home the corpses of the high-ranking members to make it seem like they betrayed the boss, there won’t be any problems. The cover-up is complete.”
“Wait a second,” Dalton said as Vandalieu started picking which corpses he would take back. “It probably wasn’t all that much work for you, but why are you even doing this cover-up? Who is this cover-up even supposed to deceive?”
Dalton didn’t see the point in creating this cover-up.
Marshal Thomas Palpapek had vanished. All of the knights serving in the mansion had lost consciousness, and their memories had been erased by some kind of poison, leaving them with no recollection of the criminal. A large bloodstain and the marshal’s trusty sword had been left behind in his room, and his steward, the last person that he had met, had received his will.
Under these circumstances, Emperor Marshukzarl and the Pure-breed Vampire Birkyne wouldn’t suspect anyone other than Vandalieu.
There was no solid evidence that pointed at Vandalieu as the criminal, but that in itself would indicate that Vandalieu was behind it.
The only person capable of doing such a thing, the only one who would actually do it, was Vandalieu.
But from Dalton’s point of view, what Vandalieu was doing now was rough, sloppy and conspicuous for how large-scale it was.
It was true that the Ahrai Family was a newly-rising, armed violent criminal organization. But in the end, it was just a criminal organization. There was no influential nobleman, no intelligence agency of another nation or Pure-breed Vampire pulling their strings from the shadows.
Why would the Ahrai Family, who didn’t resent or stand to directly benefit from the death of the head of an important noble family in the nation, conspire to murder him?
If they failed, they would all be decapitated for treason against the nation. Even if they succeeded, they wouldn’t gain anything. And there was the chance that their crime would be exposed later and they would become traitors to the nation anyway.
And to Dalton, even the ‘Limb Tearer’ Boramo and the rest of the assassins, the ones who were supposed to have actually carried out the murder, seemed to be too weak to kill the marshal. He hadn’t met them while they were alive so he wasn’t sure exactly how strong they were, but it was doubtful that they had possessed the ability to make the dozen or so knights serving the Palpapek family lose consciousness in an instant without killing them.
The assassins were reasonably well-known, but from Dalton’s point of view, they were second-rate… their targets were limited to ordinary citizens like merchants and perhaps D-class adventurers at most.
It was unthinkable that they would do something as overambitious as killing the current marshal of the nation.
He couldn’t imagine any way that this cover-up would cause Marshukzarl and Birkyne’s suspicions to shift away from Vandalieu.
“I feel bad for saying this, but you’re not fooling the emperor or a Pure-breed Vampire with this. The only ones who’ll be fooled are the imperial guards and those associated with them at most,” Dalton said.
“That alone will make it worth doing. This is a cover-up to keep things hidden from those who don’t know anything, after all,” said Vandalieu.
“That was your goal from the start?! No, that only makes me wonder more, why?! There’s almost no chance that those who know nothing will notice you because of this incident. Even in the unlikely event that they do, it doesn’t really matter, does it?!” Dalton exclaimed, his eyes open wide due to his inability to understand.
Vandalieu’s stronghold was on the other side of the Boundary Mountain Range. Even if some exceptional palace guards, loyal knights or Thomas’s wives or children realized who the real culprit was, it wasn’t a place that they would be able to give chase.
Of course, it was possible that they would build an army to try and exterminate him, but the tunnel that would allow them safe passage across the Boundary Mountain Range was sealed. And building an army would take ten more years… with Thomas gone, it might take even longer than that.
The Black Goblins looked at him with expressions of confusion, as if struggling to see why he didn’t understand.
“It’s for Kurt and the others, the Legston family,” one of them said.
“Kurt…? The Legston family of earls? Why are you mentioning that name?” Dalton asked.
“You’re S-class but you don’t even know that?”
“… Don’t think that we’d know everything just because we’re an S-class adventurer party! And I know it’s late for me to be asking this, but how come you guys can speak human words?!”
The S-class adventurer party known as the Storm of Tyranny didn’t possess its own information network, and their interest and wariness towards the already-declining Legston family of earls was faint. Thus, it seemed that they hadn’t noticed the strange circumstances surrounding the Legston family.
“We couldn’t talk privately until we came inside this building, you see. Well, to give a simple summary, I head-hunted the Legston family… no, I didn’t literally hunt their heads; I had them abandon their nation and join my side,” Vandalieu explained briefly. “All of this is for the sake of the people connected to the Legston family who are still left in this nation.”
Those who bore the surname of Legston and those close to them that had wanted to leave the nation with the Legston family, such as the servants, knights and their families, had all fled to Talosheim. But there were still many people with connections to the Legston family that still remained in this nation.
The families of Alsard and Cecil’s wives, the families that Cecil’s sisters had married into, the families of the knights’ wives, the servants’ relatives, the noble families that had treated the Legston family well and so on. There were too many to reach out to.
“On the same night that the Legston family disappeared, Earl Thomas Palpapek also disappeared. With that being the case, those who don’t know anything would suspect the Legston family, wouldn’t they?” said Vandalieu.
“You’re right,” Dalton said with a nod. “They are the families of the former marshal and the current one, and from the perspective of an outsider, one of the families lost their position and went on the decline due to a great, national-scale failure while the other has achieved great success as a leading figure in the nation. It wouldn’t be strange to think that the Legston family would have a grudge towards the Palpapek family.”
The truth was that Thomas’s position wasn’t really one worth celebrating, but this was how things would appear to an outsider.
“And the ones who guess the truth would remain silent about it, wouldn’t they?” said Vandalieu.
“Well, the Mirg shield-nation wouldn’t do so well if the disappearance of its most important person remained a mystery, and the whole nation would fall into a state of panic if word about you were to slip out. So, considering that, I suppose that these guys are a perfect scapegoat?” said Dalton.
“No, isn’t it an exaggeration to say that the whole nation will fall into a state of panic? I think the most they might do is plan a reckless second expedition to avenge the marshal,” said Vandalieu.
“… Leaving that aside, I understand what you’re saying, but why are you linking this cover-up to the incident? Is it to make sure that the people connected to the Legston family aren’t arrested and executed over crimes they didn’t commit?” Dalton asked.
“Yes. Well, I just thought I’d do this while I was at it. I probably would have killed these guys either way.”
Vandalieu didn’t have any particular attachment to everyone with connections to the Legston family, but he thought that it would be unpleasant if they really were arrested and executed and then Kurt and his family asked him about it later.
At the same time, he had heard of the deeds committed by the Ahrai Family and the assassins including the ‘Limb Tearer’ and felt an urge to kill them.
That was why he was creating this crude cover-up while he was at it.
It was as casual as calling out to someone to let them know that they had dropped their handkerchief.
Of course, Marshukzarl and Birkyne would likely arrive at the truth like Dalton said, but they wouldn’t go out of their way to make this public. It was simply to shift the blame for the incident from those connected to the Legston family to the Ahrai Family and the assassins.
Naturally, there would be an uproar over the disappearance of the Legston family, and there would be some linking them to the incident. But those connected to the Legston family were people like noblemen, knights and merchants that supplied the government; they had strong social positions. Unreasonable things couldn’t be done to them based on suspicion alone.
Even then, some would unfairly suspect them, but that couldn’t be helped.
It was impossible to complete everything flawlessly.
“… Well, I suppose that’s how it is. I know another guy who can do unbelievable things with ease,” said Dalton.
Vandalieu’s actions reminded Dalton of Schneider. He also frequently did things with ease that wouldn’t be simple for ordinary people to do.
There had once been a nobleman who had killed a slave child on the main road, and Schneider had punched him to death. An ordinary person wouldn’t do that.
Well, according to Schneider himself, it had been a highly calculated move, but… to Dalton, who had been there, he had simply appeared to have lost control in rage.
“Hmm, is it no good?” Vandalieu asked.
“I didn’t say that. It’s all good, keep on going,” said Dalton, patting Vandalieu’s head.
It wasn’t that he thought Vandalieu’s actions were justice. He even thought that there would have been nothing better than for things to be settled without Vandalieu taking revenge.
But Dalton was one of Schneider’s companions who secretly protected the races created by Vida, and he was concealing the fact that he was a Dark Elf to work as an adventurer. He was a criminal in both the Amid Empire and the Mirg shield-nation. He was in a position to be called evil himself.
Neither he nor Schneider believed that one should hate the crime, not the criminal. They were only protecting the justice that they themselves prioritized, but they were constantly aware of it.
From his point of view, there was no particular problem in what Vandalieu had done.
As a result of Vandalieu’s light-hearted actions, a criminal organization had been crushed and several dozen people had died, but… they were the kind of people that would be turned into criminal slaves or executed if they were caught. In fact, it was best to think that there were lives that had been saved by killing these people.
“By the way, making this cover-up means concealing the fact that the marshal was a traitor to the nation, so his reputation among society will remain as it was and one of his children will succeed him. I suppose you don’t really care about that?” Dalton asked.
“No, not really. I don’t care,” Vandalieu replied.
When Thomas told Vandalieu that his family and subordinates hadn’t been involved in the incident, Vandalieu had said, “I don’t give a damn.” The true meaning behind these words was that he was indifferent towards them.
He didn’t care what they would go through after Thomas’s death. Whether Thomas’s treason was exposed and they were put to the guillotine, whether they received the sympathy of the nation as an honorary noble family, whether Thomas’s children succeeded him and called him a great father, Vandalieu wasn’t interested at all. They could do whatever they wanted.
That was why he wouldn’t do anything or get involved.
Dalton laughed. “You’re really calm for your age, aren’t you! It’s depressing to become a revenge demon after your revenge,” he said. “By the way, there are still things I want to talk to you about. Isn’t there a place we can talk quietly?”
“Then I suppose we should leave the capital,” said Vandalieu. “By the way, Dalton-san, I have one more task left. And I’m a little hungry, so do you mind if I drink a little?”
“Nah, go ahead. I’m thirsty as well, so I suppose I’ll go and have a drink myself,” said Dalton.
“You drink?!” exclaimed Braga, his eyes open wide in surprise.
Dalton didn’t know why Braga was so surprised and answered without giving it much thought. “Yeah, the Dark Elves of my village drink. I’m known to be the heaviest drinker among them!”
The Black Goblins shuddered.
“Y-you can drink that much…”
“The Dark Elves on the outside are amazing…”
Can these guys all not drink because of their race? Dalton wondered as he followed Vandalieu outside.
In a back alleyway, Vandalieu slaughtered a pair of criminals that the spirits had told him had committed their crimes very frequently. He sucked the blood from one of them and offered the other to Dalton.
“I’ll ask just in case. Do you want some?” he asked.
“My bad, I thought you meant alcohol,” he said, shaking his head. This was the only answer he could give, for the sake of the honor of the Dark Elves of his village.
On that night, the entire Legston family of earls, their servants and their knights vanished from the Mirg shield-nation, and Thomas Palpapek went missing.
The investigation of the latter found the corpses of the Ahrai Family’s boss and upper-ranking members in their base, along with a severed hand wearing the ring bearing the Palpapek family crest. The Ahrai Family and the assassins they had hired were officially declared to be the culprits behind his murder.
With this incident, the reconstruction of the Mirg shield-nation’s army would be delayed even further.
The question he had repeatedly asked himself – Where had he gone wrong? It was when he decided that he was slightly more exceptional than his older brother. For that reason, he had accepted the offer of Vampires who worshipped an evil god and murdered his brother. That was the answer to his question.
Even though he was a little more exceptional than his brother when he was younger, there was no guarantee that the same would be true ten or twenty years later. And even if he didn’t succeed the Palpapek family, he could have become his brother’s vassal to serve the family and nation or married into another noble family and put his sharp mind to use that way.
Even if Thomas hadn’t become the head of his family, the nation wouldn’t have been ruined or suffered great losses, nor would the world have ended.
Despite that, he had conceitedly believed that he must succeed his family because he was the superior individual, spoken such words to conceal these ambitions even from himself and been utilized by the Vampires at their convenience for years.
That was the greatest mistake that he had ever made, and he had never noticed this until his existence was extinguished.
Vandalieu and Dalton exchanged rough details of their situations to each other.
Dalton was surprised from beginning to end as he listened to the situation on the other side of the Boundary Mountain Range and the fact that his party’s existence was known to the gods. The thing he was most surprised about was Legion’s appearance, however.
Of course, Vandalieu was also surprised to hear that two of the members of the Storm of Tyranny were the reincarnation of an evil god and a Pure-breed Vampire, and that they were protecting more members of Vida’s races on the Amid Empire’s side of the continent than he had thought.
He was particularly astonished by the fact that the heroic god Farmaun Gold, who was the champion chosen by Zantark and had fought with Bellwood on Alda’s side in the battle that took place a hundred thousand years ago, had changed sides.
“But he doesn’t want to be punched by me a hundred times. Well, I don’t intend to do so,” said Vandalieu.
“Yeah, leave that for later,” said Dalton. “Now then, I’ve learned that you can teleport around in an instant, but we won’t be able to go over there for a while. We can’t use Teleportation to make day-trips, either.”
Emperor Marshukzarl and the Pure-breed Vampire Birkyne had already known that the members of the Storm of Tyranny were believers of Vida and members of Vida’s races themselves, even before they became an S-class adventurer party.
Thus, they were apparently under constant surveillance, with special spells and other methods that were normally unthinkable.
And it would be bad if Legion’s existence and the fact that Vandalieu could Teleport in and out of the Boundary Mountain Range was discovered.
“If it’s just guys like that swordsman called Rickert, we could handle him alone, and even if we couldn’t we could just use Teleport to escape,” said Pluto.
“… So, it’s you who defeated the ‘Light-speed Sword,’ Ojou-san. Even from a glance, you look like a bad match for him. The poor bastard,” Dalton murmured. “Leaving that aside, there’s a space-attribute spell that interferes with Teleportation. And there are all kinds of other spells that could seal your movement, like spells that petrify you or stop time. Don’t let your guard down.”
If Legion were to be removed, Vandalieu would be unable to move around with Teleportation. If the enemy learned of this, they would certainly try to eliminate Legion at all costs.
“Indeed, we need to be more careful,” said Vandalieu.
Legion possessed a completely abnormal amount of Vitality and a regenerative ability that allowed them to recover immediately even after being cut in half, and they had no internal organs or bones acting as vital points for the enemy. They also had the Counter ability of Ereshkigal, one of Legion’s personalities.
In a way, they were more difficult to kill than Vandalieu.
However, killing them wasn’t the only way of stopping them. Dalton, who had fought all kinds of enemies up until now, warned them and reminded them of this.
“I see. It’s true that we should have thought about the danger of being sealed away with spells and status effects. I can’t deny that our sense of what’s dangerous has grown weaker after we gained this body,” Pluto said. “But I want you not to call us ‘Ojou-san.’”
“Enma, Ghost and Jack are here, too,” said Jack.
“… Hey, what am I supposed to call these guys?” Dalton asked.
“I call them Legion,” said Vandalieu.
“Their body is simply and only made up of meat, but their insides are difficult to understand. Alright, I’ll be careful,” Dalton said, then his face suddenly stiffened. “The truth is, there’s something that all of us Storm of Tyranny members need to apologize to you for. I’m the only one here now, but I’ll say it first.” He faced Vandalieu, who blinked in surprise, and bowed his head. “We’re sorry for not managing to interpret Vida’s Divine Message properly and being unable to save your mother.”
Vandalieu stared at Dalton’s mohawk as he realized that he and his companions, like Nuaza of Talosheim, had received a Divine Message from Vida.
And they had tried to obey the Divine Message, but they had been unable to save Vandalieu and his mother.
“Please raise your head; it isn’t your fault,” Vandalieu said.
“No, but then I can’t feel at ease. If there’s –”
“Then give me a pose and let me touch.”
“– Anything I can do, wait, a pose and let you touch?!”
Dalton and his companions were really not at fault, so Vandalieu had no intention of blaming them. In fact, even if he had concealed his identity, Dalton was a high-class adventurer and someone who could speak casually to even the ruler of an entire nation, yet he was lowering his head to Vandalieu.
Vandalieu had a favorable impression of him.
“Why that?! What’s so fun about having me pose and touching me?!” Dalton demanded.
“It’s super-fun,” said Vandalieu.
But isn’t it fine for me to ask for a side-benefit like this? Vandalieu thought.
“Don’t you run away,” said Legion.
“Don’t worry, it won’t hurt,” said one of the Black Goblins.
“King’s only after your body,” said another.
“Hihihih, don’t you worry, it’ll be over quickly if you just do as he says,” said Kimberley.
“UOOOH!” Dalton screamed. “I never even dreamed that anyone would say such words to me! And wait a second, how many of you are there?! There’s that tree-looking woman there, and what is this queen bee and these Ghosts?!”
“There, there, calm down. Ah, your shoulders are a bit stiff. Should I give you a massage while I’m at it?” Vandalieu offered.
“L-let me goooo –” Dalton groaned.
He couldn’t resist in earnest. Eisen and Braga held him down, and he was buried among Vandalieu and the others.
Legion, Princess Levia and Orbia watched.
“Vandalieu loves muscles as usual. Even though I’m number one when it comes to meat,” said Pluto.
“The Dark Elves on the outside of the mountain range are different, aren’t they. He’s way more muscular than Gizan-san,” said Pluto.
“Even I’d heard of Dalton of the Storm of Tyranny while I was alive, but… he was a Dark Elf, huh,” said Orbia. “There was a female Dwarf as well, and a female Elf and a mysterious new adventurer who is also a bartender who joined later on. Those are an evil god and a Pure-breed Vampire?”
After that, Dalton had his entire body toyed with… or rather, his muscular stiffness loosened and received a small Golem to act as a teleportation marker for Legion. After he and Vandalieu decided on a time to meet, he left.
A month or so passed after Vandalieu killed Thomas Palpapek. The Mirg shield-nation was likely still in an uproar. Meanwhile, Marshukzarl was grimacing.
Thomas Palpapek had been a dangerous person who had plotted the Mirg shield-nation’s independence from the empire and likely possessed connections with Pure-breed Vampires. Should Marshukzarl be happy that such a person had been eliminated without him needing to dirty his own hands, or be troubled by the fact that the reconstruction of the army of the Mirg shield-nation, the shield of the empire, would be delayed even further?
As for Birkyne, the Pure-breed Vampire who worshipped Hihiryushukaka, the evil god of joyful life, he had lost an influential conspirator, but his organization was already in a half-destroyed state, so the loss of Thomas wasn’t actually that great.
Leaving these situations aside, the people within the Boundary Mountain Range were surprised at the news that the S-class adventurer party that was the Amid Empire’s pride included a Dark Elf and Pure-breed Vampire.
Cecil and Alsard Legston, who had just left from their home country, realized that they might have witnessed the moment of their own nation’s ruin if they hadn’t escaped.
As for Farmaun Gold, the gods and even the leaders of the nations decided to keep information regarding him quiet for now.
He had been known as a bitter enemy alongside Bellwood for a hundred thousand years. The gods and the nations’ leaders had decided that this information would be too shocking for the people.
… In truth, one of the largest reasons was that Xerx, the god of battle flags, and Garess, the god of warriors, couldn’t believe that Farmaun had really become an ally.
It seemed that the gulf between these two and Farmaun was vast.
On this particular day, Vandalieu, who was now ten years old, was participating in a combat tournament being held in the Dark Elf nation.
“This combat tournament has been held annually ever since Gufadgarn, the evil god of labyrinths, created the Trial of Zakkart a hundred years ago. Its history is shallow, but it is an honorable tournament,” explained Gizan, who was part of the tournament’s organization committee. He gave a sigh. “Its goal is to select heroes who are worthy of challenging the Trial of Zakkart, so even though it is a tournament, there is not only one winner. Several individuals or even over a dozen can become exceptional challengers. It seems that the Trial of Zakkart is different on the outside of the Boundary Mountain Range, but here, it generally does not kill our challengers. However, it is possible that challengers that are too weak will be killed.”
Apparently, when the Trial of Zakkart appeared inside the Boundary Mountain Range, when it became difficult for challengers to continue on for reasons such as their Vitality dropping too low, the Dungeon forcibly Teleported them outside. And so, a medical team was always on standby outside the Dungeon until all of the challengers came out.
But no challengers who entered the Dungeon when it appeared outside the Boundary Mountain Range were known to have come out alive other than three of the members of the Five-colored Blades that were led by the ‘Blue-flamed Sword’ Heinz. It was likely that the Dungeon chose which challengers it would forcibly eject and which challengers it wouldn’t.
“Come to think of it, a sign that read ‘The Trial of Zakkart’ appeared outside the Dungeon at a certain point in time. We found it strange, but… it must have been because of the false rumors spreading on the outside of the mountain range, the rumors that the one who conquered the labyrinth would become Bellwood’s successor. Well, the Dungeon contains stone monuments with depictions of legends of the champions and the gods, as well as riddles related to those, so it isn’t surprising that they are misinterpreted,” said Gizan.
“It must have been unpleasant for Gufadgarn. To think that the misunderstanding would persist even after he put the sign up,” said Vandalieu.
Contrary to the reason the Dungeon had been created, believers of Alda and his forces had entered the Dungeon one after another. This had surely been unpleasant for Gufadgarn.
“Things are difficult for Gufadgarn… but they have also been difficult for us, ever since we were suddenly left with the task of selecting challengers for the Dungeon a hundred years ago. Truly… the amount of work we had to do increased drastically in an instant,” Gizan said.
Vandalieu looked up at Gizan to see eyes that were even more lifeless than his own. It seemed that organizing this tournament was a very troublesome task for the Dark Elves.
“… Thank you for your hard work. Should I rub your shoulders?” Vandalieu said, offering his massage technique that had even been praised by a high-class adventurer.
But Gizan gave a vague smile and shook his head. “We are still at work, after all,” he said. “Incidentally, this Dungeon has a mechanism that makes it difficult for someone who has faced it to do so a second time. When those who have already faced it before descend several floors, the stairs to the next floor disappear for them.”
“Hmph, the Dungeon’s purpose is to find Zakkart’s successor, after all. It’s saying that it doesn’t have any business with those who have already faced it once and proven to not be the one. I wasted a lot of effort because of that,” said the Majin king Godwin, who was munching on a large, whole roasted lizard that was covered in ketchup that had been imported from Talosheim.
He had apparently tested the rumor that the Dungeon wouldn’t accept those who were challenging it for a second time.
“Strictly speaking, that isn’t quite true. If there is at least one person who is challenging the Dungeon for the first time, those who have faced it before can still proceed forwards. But once those who are challenging it for the first time are gone, they become unable to proceed. That was the case when I faced the Dungeon myself,” said Queen Donaneris of Zanalpadna, who had come to spectate the tournament like Godwin; it seemed that she had faced the Dungeon more than once as well.
She was holding a crepe that had been made from the eggs of Demon Ducks, ducks that had become monsters.
“And you can’t even participate in this tournament. Seriously, my blood boils and I can’t calm down, so it’s frustrating,” Godwin grumbled.
“That cannot be helped,” said the Kijin king Tenma. “It is a tournament to select challengers for the trial, so there is no point in someone like you participating, as you have already lost your right to face it.”
“In fact, it wouldn’t be fair for the people who are supposed to face the Dungeon but wouldn’t be able to because of you,” said the Centaur king Sylvari.
“Don’t be so selfish! Tenma, you’ve entered this tournament twice, and you’ve entered it five times, Sylvari! It’s not fair!” Godwin howled.
“What?! That’s only because you knocked me out the first time!” Tenma protested.
“… Emperor, just because I was defeated four times does not mean that I am weak. I was poorly matched against my opponents,” said Sylvari.
The strongest people of the southern region of the continent gathered to face the trial, so it seemed that there had been times where the kings of nations were made to fight one another.
“Leaving that aside, why am I here?” Vandalieu asked.
He had been made to sit in a seat with the word ‘prize’ written on it. He had been very willing to enter the tournament, but Gizan and the others had forced him into this seat.
“I mean, with your strength, you’ll definitely been chosen as a challenger,” said Darcia, who was spectating the tournament beside Vandalieu. “I don’t think you really need to make the effort of competing.”
She sounded like a simple doting parent, but everyone other than Vandalieu himself nodded in agreement with her words.
“Emperor, your power makes you the most distinguished person within the Boundary Mountain Range… even if you were to personally not use the Demon King’s fragments and hold back with the use of your Dark King Magic… even then, you would possess enough strength to face the trial,” said Gizan.
“I have also faced it before, but at the very least, you will not be defeated in the trial for a lack of power,” said Budarion.
“So please assist me by reducing my work at least a little,” said Gizan.
Vandalieu had no choice but to nod in response to Gizan’s earnest request.
“And Your Majesty, you are clearly the successor to Zakkart that Gufadgarn is looking for. Of course you’re going to face the trial,” said Kurt.
“Why are you here in the spectators’ seats?” Vandalieu asked him.
“… Because if I were to participate in the tournament, I might turn into an Undead,” Kurt said, giving a distant gaze towards the stage, where Eleanora was mowing down a Kijin warrior.
Kurt was even weaker than that Kijin warrior; if he were to participate in the tournament, it was possible that he would die by accident even if his opponents held back.
“In any case, the only strong contenders at this tournament are the people you brought, Your Majesty. I’m sorry to say this in front of you people, but I can’t deny everyone else’s lack of ability. The Six Horn Battle-Demons and the Drakonid Samurai Rowen aren’t here, and none of the Majin are here other than Iris-ojousan. Are you alright with this?” Kurt asked Vandalieu.
The nations’ kings gave bitter smiles.
“It is not that they have declined to participate out of consideration for you, Your Majesty. Do not misunderstand,” said one of the four Drakonid Elders of the Drakonid nation.
“It is just that… the number of capable contestants is limited,” said another.
“Limited?” Kurt repeated.
“Kurt-dono, many of us members of Vida’s races live long lives. Naturally, our generations change at a slow pace. Thus, the majority of us Drakonids, Majin and Dark Elves have already faced the trial before. The veterans of the southern region of the continent have all already faced the trial.”
“… I see.”
Due to the purpose and rules of the tournament, there was no reason for those who had already faced the trial before to participate in it again. And in many tournaments, over ten people were chosen. Thus, in the past hundred years, many veterans like Godwin had lost their rights to enter the tournament.
“There are some races with short lifespans, but… my foolish brother’s rebellion was not long ago,” said Budarion.
The tournament candidates from the High Goblin nation, High Kobold nation and Noble Orc kingdom had fallen or been defeated in the rebellion that had been started by Bugitas.
“I asked something I shouldn’t have. I apologize,” Kurt said, lowering his head.
Budarion shook his head and told him that there was nothing to apologize for.
In the end, the only ones worthy of challenging the trial from the tournament this year were Vandalieu’s companions.
“I think that Oniwaka and Sylvari’s daughter are doing their best,” said Vandalieu.
“No, I had her participate thinking that this year might be the last tournament, but she is still not worthy. I thank you for your kind words,” said Tenma, narrowing his eyes.
“Iris, Iris is doing her best as well! Don’t you think so?!” Godwin exclaimed, burning with a strange sense of competitiveness.
“Silence, you foolish, doting parent,” said Queen Donaneris. “Incidentally, have you changed your Job?” she asked Vandalieu. “Clearing the trial will likely take several months, so it would be best to change your Job first.”
“Yes, I did it about half a month ago. I’ve acquired the Labyrinth Creator Job,” said Vandalieu.
He had considered the Spiritual Warrior Job and the other Guider Job, but he was about to face a Dungeon that had within its deepest place something that would be able to resurrect Darcia. He had decided to choose the Job that would be the most useful to acquire it.
Queen Donaneris nodded. “I see; I have never heard of the Labyrinth Creator Job, but it will surely be useful to clear the trial.”
In the tournament ring was her daughter Gizania, who had just started her match against Zadiris.
“Even if you are a mage, I will not hold back!” Gizania declared.
“With this new equipment that the boy and Datara made, I shall show you that you do not need to,” said Zadiris, raising a staff that seemed over-decorated and difficult to wield as she faced Gizania. “Transf–?!”
At that moment, the ground suddenly shook and there was an echoing sound that sounded like a low groan. In contrast to Zadiris and the others, who were surprised, Gizan and the others remained calm and closed their eyes, as if praying.
“The Trial of Zakkart has appeared,” Gizan announced.
『The Levels of Increased Mana Recovery Rate and Labyrinth Construction increased with your Job change!』
A Job that represents one who guides those who will eventually die and those who have already died. It can be acquired by one who disturbs the boundary line between life and death and tries to recreate the afterlife in this life.
Naturally, the targets of the guidance are spirits and Undead, as well as those who wish to become Undead. However, as Vandalieu has already acquired the Demon Guider Job and acquired the divine protection of Earth’s dark gods, the effects of the guidance extend to those that would normally not be affected.
It provides low growth to the Vitality, Strength and Stamina Attribute Values, but provides the most growth to Mana, Intelligence and Agility in that order.