Naturally, Rodcorte and his familiar spirits, the ‘Calculation’ Machida Aran, the ‘Inspector’ Shimada Izumi and the ‘Oracle’ Endou Kouya were watching the situation unfold as Asagi and Kanako’s groups conversed with Vandalieu.
With that said, Rodcorte’s expectations were different from those of his familiar spirits.
Rodcorte had expected negotiations to break down, battle to break out and Asagi… perhaps not defeating Vandalieu, as that was unlikely, but at least being of use in gathering more information.
His familiar spirits, on the other hand, were afraid of a battle taking place. They didn’t care about what happened to Kanako’s group, but they wanted to avoid the souls of Asagi’s group being destroyed.
“Shouldn’t we tell him to not get involved with Vandalieu anymore?” said Kouya.
“Kouya, do you really think Asagi will listen to that warning?” said Aran.
“… That’d never happen.”
The existence of Asagi, a passionate man with a sense of companionship and a strong sense of self-righteousness, had been very helpful in uniting the Bravers in Origin. There were many among the reincarnated individuals, who had concealed their true identities as they lived in an environment that was different from Earth, who had been saved by the fact that Asagi had interacted with them in the same way as he had on Earth.
… Though there had been some, like Murakami, Kanako and Minuma Hitomi, who hadn’t gotten along with him.
The familiar spirits were certain that Vandalieu was the type who wouldn’t get along with Asagi as well.
They had looked at the memories of their former classmates who had been fortunate enough to survive the ferry sinking, and within them, there were memories of Asagi talking to Vandalieu.
It seemed that Asagi hadn’t realized this, but Vandalieu’s eyes had been clearly dead back then.
“It might even be better for him to be guided by Vandalieu. Not that I think that would happen,” Izumi sighed. “It definitely wouldn’t,” she muttered, denying the possibility completely.
They knew from the precedent of the ‘Perseus’ Samejima Yuri… Sarua Legston, that reincarnated individuals being guided by Vandalieu took a considerable length of time. They wouldn’t be guided just by talking to him a little.
It was very doubtful that the strong-willed Asagi would even be guided by Vandalieu in the first place. It was hard to imagine that Vandalieu would proactively attempt to guide him.
As the familiar spirits watched, their stomachs painful with nervousness despite the fact that they had no physical bodies, Asagi quietly left the scene with Shouko and Tendou following after him.
“How unexpected… I imagined that a battle would develop,” Rodcorte whispered.
The familiar spirits heard him, but they were in agreement. The Asagi of the past that they knew would have continued to stubbornly oppose Vandalieu, eventually causing Vandalieu to reach the limits of his patience.
Incidentally, neither Rodcorte nor his familiar spirits had expected Vandalieu to accept Asagi’s request.
“I hope that he rethinks his opinion on Vandalieu now, but…” Aran muttered.
Rodcorte and his familiar spirits could browse through everything Asagi had seen and heard as records.
But they could only try to predict what he would think and try to do in the future.
In any case, he would be fine for a while now that he had placed some distance between himself and the regions that were under Vandalieu’s influence.
“It might have been for the best that we didn’t tell him about Legion… about Hitomi,” said Izumi.
“Yeah. If he knew about the Eighth Guidance and Hitomi’s current state, he would definitely lose his cool,” Aran agreed.
If Asagi found out that they were no longer people but an enormous, mysterious, spherical life form made of flesh mannequins entwined around each other, he would have certainly become enraged. He would have told Vandalieu that turning humans into such a monster was something that could not be forgiven.
He would have become enraged and likely taken his anger out on Vandalieu.
“I don’t know exactly how they ended up like that, but Vandalieu probably didn’t make them like that on purpose, and from what we saw, they don’t seem to be unhappy about it,” said Kouya.
“It’s probably Rodcorte’s fault. Of course, Vandalieu does things like joining corpses together to make Undead, so I don’t think it can be helped that he’s misunderstood,” said Izumi.
The two of them were in agreement that they should continue to keep this hidden from Asagi. Their interest was shifting away from Kanako’s group, who were still with Vandalieu.
Unlike Asagi’s group that were trying to stop Vandalieu, Rodcorte also had no interest in Kanako’s group who were trying to curry favor with Vandalieu.
It was likely that they would fail, but even if they were killed and their souls were broken, they were reincarnated individuals whose next lives had not been determined, so the circle of transmigration would suffer minimal damage.
If they did succeed, Rodcorte thought that he could likely still use them to gather information for a short while, but they would likely be guided by Vandalieu eventually.
That was why he was surprised when he heard Kanako’s next words.
“I think you should turn us into members of Vida’s races, like Vampires or something!”
“What?” Rodcorte turned towards Kanako’s group in surprise. “Impossible, the knowledge regarding the circle of transmigration should have been erased when she was reincarnated in Lambda… How does she know that they are certain to be moved to Vida’s circle of transmigration system if they become members of Vida’s races? Could it be… Did she use the power I gave her?”
After the ‘Death Scythe’ Konoe Miyaji was destroyed, Rodcorte had allowed the other reincarnated individuals to use their abilities freely inside this Divine Realm.
Whether the abilities could be used effectively inside the Divine Realm depended on the ability, but he had thought that the reincarnated individuals would be in a more similar state to when they were alive if they could use their abilities, allowing them to gather their thoughts more clearly.
He had thought that Kanako’s Venus would be particularly useful, as it allowed her to manipulate memories and emotions.
Since they had no bodies, they would not be able to try and kill each other even if something went wrong, and no problems would occur if he kept watch over them. That was what Rodcorte had thought, but…
“That’s right, I was monitoring the use of their abilities. Then the only possibility is…” Rodcorte cast his gaze towards his familiar spirits, realizing that he had been too reliant on his attentiveness.
But his familiar spirits were surprised by Kanako’s words as well.
“If you think it’s because we told Kanako’s group that it would be easier to be accepted by Vandalieu if they became members of Vida’s races, you’re wrong,” said Aran.
“We’re your familiar spirits; there’s no way we’d be able to send a Divine Message without you knowing, right?” said Izumi.
“We don’t even have any reason to tell them to begin with. They betrayed us, and we haven’t forgiven them. It’s true that they’ve left Murakami, but that doesn’t mean they’re regretting what they did,” said Kouya.
Perhaps convinced particularly by Kouya’s words, Rodcorte turned his attention back to Kanako.
“Which means that it is merely a coincidence? Vandalieu leads Vida’s races, so she happened to think that it would be best for them to become members of Vida’s races as well?” Rodcorte murmured. “Or perhaps… did she somehow outwit me?”
Rodcorte focused on searching Kanako’s records for the reason she had voiced a desire for her group to become members of Vida’s races.
His familiar spirits watched him quietly, feeling shaken.
Rodcorte truly could not be trusted… After finding out that Rodcorte was a god who was willing to abandon the reincarnated individuals and the entire world out of fear for his own existence, they had been trying to think of ways to outwit him.
But before they were able to do so, Kanako had outwitted Rodcorte first. This fact caused the familiar spirits to feel both shock and a sense of defeat.
Aran’s shoulders dropped. “We were in charge of the brain work for the Bravers, but… What’s wrong, Izumi?” he asked, seeing that Izumi was looking in an odd direction.
“No, it’s just that I got the feeling that we’re being watched… It was only for a moment, but I think I saw something…?” she whispered.
“You saw something? What was it?”
“It looked like a pair of eyes. Not a person’s, but a beast’s.”
“You’re not just imagining things, huh. You should be able to figure it out with your Inspector power.”
“Yes, that’s why I’m certain I saw something that looked like a pair of eyes, but… Whatever. Let’s not think about this. Speaking of it is forbidden, of course, and we should forget about it as quickly as possible… until something happens,” Izumi said, knowing that Rodcorte could read their thoughts.
Aran and Kouya nodded.
However, the familiar spirits knew that Rodcorte was not constantly monitoring their thoughts with all of his attention.
It was as if their thoughts were being seen by a single surveillance camera, and Rodcorte was sitting in a guard office, looking at the footage from a countless number of surveillance cameras. With this, Rodcorte could indeed monitor their thoughts.
However, while Rodcorte was focused on something else, his focus on their thoughts would slip… perhaps.
In any case, the three of them decided not to let Rodcorte know about the ‘something that resembled a beast’s eyes’ that Izumi had seen for a moment until something further happened.
Around the time when Kanako’s group was living inside Vandalieu’s experimental Dungeon, Asagi’s group returned to the Sauron Duchy’s capital city from the border of the former Scylla territory.
They paid for rooms at a middle-class inn and gathered to sit inside one of them.
“Now that we’ve come this far, there won’t be anyone tailing us. Right, Tendou?” said Asagi.
“Yeah. I’m not completely certain, though,” said Tendou.
With his Clairvoyance ability, he had noticed that they were being followed. That was why they had returned to this city where people’s eyes were watching as quickly as possible.
They hadn’t dared to even think about trying to shake off or fight the ones tailing them. Through experience, they had learned that unlike in Origin, there were beings in this world that they could not compete against.
Of course, it wasn’t as if Asagi, Shouko and Tendou had been unrivaled in Origin. But their enemies had been armies equipped with modern weapons, or multi-millionaires or corrupt politicians who used such armies as their pawns. Their enemies had not been individually strong.
But in Lambda, there were individuals who could overwhelm Asagi’s group armed with what they would consider primitive weapons.
Asagi believed that the ‘head-hunting demon’ was one of them.
“It’s someone that even Tendou’s Clairvoyance couldn’t see directly; I never even noticed them. It wasn’t even detected by Shouko’s thermal sensing. This world is filled with monsters,” Asagi muttered.
“Asagi, I’m sure my thermal sensing couldn’t detect the head-hunting demon because it’s almost certainly an Undead,” Shouko pointed out.
“I’m taking that into account when I say this world is full of monsters,” said Asagi, and then he gave a sigh.
He had experienced numerous defeats since being reincarnated in this world.
The first was when he had tried to stop an argument between failed adventurers who had become petty criminals. Asagi had been far superior than them in terms of strength, but the criminals landed clean hits with Unarmed Fighting Technique martial skills.
The second defeat was in a battle against a Lich, an Undead mage. When he used ‘Mage Masher’ to seal the Lich’s elemental magic, he had been defeated by the Lich’s no-attribute spell, Mana Bullet.
He had let down his guard because although he possessed the knowledge regarding martial skills and no-attribute magic, he hadn’t experienced them before.
But because of these defeats, Asagi had become more careful than he had been in his previous life. That was the reason he hadn’t asked Vandalieu to stop breaking souls.
Asagi had begun feeling that he needed to stop Vandalieu when he saw Vandalieu destroying the soul of ‘Death Scythe.’
Though he had been concerned about the significant damage that it caused to the circle of transmigration system, he had felt a sense of repulsion towards the act of destroying souls, something that surpassed murder.
Vandalieu didn’t only kill people, but he destroyed their souls. Asagi hadn’t known what punishment that deserved, or why that should be forgiven.
So then, why had he not voiced these thoughts and instead asked Vandalieu to stop using death-attribute magic? Asagi had believed that even if Vandalieu were to agree to stop breaking souls, he would think of a loophole to capture souls instead.
Sealing souls away without breaking them, destroying only one part of souls such as the memories or personalities, splitting souls apart and imprisoning only one part of them.
Asagi didn’t have an exact understanding of a soul’s structure, whether a soul would be fine after having only one part destroyed, or whether it was possible to split them.
Rodcorte had told the reincarnated individuals that their souls would return to his Divine Realm immediately after their deaths instead of wandering about the world or turning into Undead.
But not much time had passed since Asagi received the familiar spirits’ message of “Don’t ever trust Rodcorte.”
And since Vandalieu had destroyed the ‘Gungnir’ Kaidou Kanata’s soul, that meant that he at least had enough time to destroy the soul before it returned. If he had enough time to do that, then it was possible that he would have time to do other things to the soul as well.
That was why Asagi had asked Vandalieu to stop using death-attribute magic altogether rather than asking him to stop breaking souls.
Vandalieu’s ability to destroy souls was clearly related to the death attribute. Thus, if Vandalieu became unable to use the death attribute, he would become unable to destroy souls.
Of course, he did also truly believe that desecrating the dignity of the dead and toying with them was unforgivable.
“Still… I wanted to ask if ‘Perseus’… Samejima is safe,” said Asagi.
“It can’t be helped,” said Tendou. “There’s no way we could know about Sarua Legston. If we spoke his name there, it would become clear that he’s a reincarnated individual and it could even put him in danger.”
Asagi’s group had been told by the familiar spirits that Sarua Legston was ‘Perseus,’ and he was currently living in Talosheim with his family.
But there was no telling what Vandalieu would do if he were to learn of this, so Asagi’s group had been unable to confirm whether ‘Perseus’ was safe.
“So, what are we going to do now? If you’re going to tell me that you’re going to join up with Murakami’s group to stop Vandalieu, I’m out,” said Tendou.
“Tendou, there’s no way I’d think of doing something like that. I’d always have to be watching my back if I joined up with those guys,” said Asagi.
Tendou hadn’t even needed to mention it – joining up and working with Murakami’s group, who were still after Vandalieu’s life, was out of the question. Like Kanako’s group, they couldn’t be trusted.
“I don’t even want to fight Vandalieu in the first place. I just want to stop his mistakes,” said Asagi. “In order to do that, I think we need to think of a way to make him relinquish the death attribute. A method that doesn’t need Rodcorte’s power.”
“A method that doesn’t need Rodcorte’s power, you say… You mentioned that when we were talking with Vandalieu, but is there really such a way? I don’t think there is,” said Shouko.
“There are probably Magic Items that seal magic away to be unusable in this world, just like there were in Origin, but using those is definitely impossible. His Mana is on a completely different scale,” said Tendou.
“There should be one,” Asagi said forcefully in response to these negative opinions. “Of course, there’s a reason that I believe that. Do you two remember this world’s mythology? The part where the Demon King Guduranis was sealed away. From what I’ve heard of this world’s mythology, the Demon King Guduranis’s power was strikingly similar to death-attribute magic. With that being the case, if we used the method that was used to seal the Demon King away, it might be possible to seal away the death attribute of Vandalieu and the Eighth Guidance.”
“That’s… certainly possible. At the very least, that’s true for sealing away the Demon King’s fragments,” said Tendou in surprise, nodding in agreement to Asagi’s words.
Vandalieu had actually absorbed the Demon King’s fragments and was using them as if they were a part of his own body.
If this made him equivalent to the Demon King, then it was possible that the sealing method that had worked on the Demon King would work on Vandalieu as well.
But it seemed that Shouko was still skeptical. “That’s true, but Vandalieu undid those seals, didn’t he?” she pointed out. “And you don’t intend to defeat him, right? How are you going to split him into pieces and seal him away?”
“That’s true, but I don’t intend to use the same method to seal away Vandalieu and the Eighth Guidance. I’m thinking that it might be possible to investigate the method used to seal the Demon King away, then apply it to seal away just their death attribute,” said Asagi. “And if the method used to seal the Demon King away can be applied like this, we’ll share that method with the Mages’ Guild and the other nations.”
“Wait a second, why does that lead to sharing the method with other nations?!” Tendou asked in surprise.
“To make sure that what happened in Origin isn’t repeated in this world,” Asagi replied. “Even if we’re able to seal away Vandalieu’s death attribute, if powerful figures learn of the death attribute’s existence, they’ll definitely try to acquire it for themselves. We need to spread a method that stops the death attribute in order to prevent that.”
In Origin, even after the death of Vandalieu, the sole user of death attribute magic, every nation had continued research into the death attribute in the shadows.
That was how useful the death attribute was. In fact, Vandalieu had risen to the top of an entire nation with the death attribute’s power.
That was why Asagi believed that a way to seal away the death attribute needed to be spread to every nation in order to prevent a race to research the death attribute in this world.
After that, once the religious figures of this world declared the death attribute as a forbidden power, things might not be perfect, but they would work out. Religion held far more power in this world than in Origin.
“… Now that you mention it, doing that sounds like it will be helpful for when that Rikudou bastard is reincarnated here,” said Shouko, nodding. “Not that I think he can complete his death attribute research.”
Rikudou, who should still be alive in Origin, was a man in the upper ranks of the Bravers who had secretly continued research into the death attribute and pulled the strings behind Murakami’s group.
“Yeah…” Tendou hesitated for a moment, then nodded. “I don’t know if we can really do it, but let’s try,” he said.
He feared Vandalieu, but the possibility of finding a way to stop the death attribute sounded very attractive to him.
He had not forgotten that he had the choice of leaving the continent and cutting all ties, like Mao had done. But what Tendou had seen of Vandalieu’s power was too great for him to make that choice.
Even if he left the Bahn Gaia continent, would he really be able to escape Vandalieu? As long as he lived in this world, wouldn’t he have to continue living in the fear that Vandalieu might change his mind and come to kill him?
For Tendou, who began feeling this fear and uneasiness, Asagi’s suggestion looked like a bright hope.
“Alright, now that you’ve agreed to this, let’s go with this plan,” said Asagi. “Though I say that, it’s not like we have any clues to go on… Well, I suppose we should look at some historical ruins… though we might not be able to spend too much time doing this.”
Asagi had a bad feeling about this. Vandalieu had said that he was the ruler of a nation; if he continued expanding his influence, wouldn’t there one day be a great war with the Amid Empire or Orbaume Kingdom that engulfed the entire continent?
We have to find a way to stop the death attribute to stop that from happening. And if he finds out that the other nations have a way to stop the death attribute, he might be more careful, Asagi thought. At the very least, peace can be maintained if he retreats from the Sauron Duchy and holes himself up in the mountain range.
The truth was, the forces of Alda, the god of law and fate, had already begun to move. Even if Vandalieu were to stay quiet inside the Boundary Mountain Range, it was possible that a war involving the entire world would break out, but… Asagi was oblivious to this.
Around the time Vandalieu was searching the ocean for a ship, Amemiya Hiroto was spending one of his days off inside his own home.
Over a year had passed since the battle against the Eighth Guidance and the disaster at the national department of defense. The world situation was changing in significant ways.
Relations between the nations that had sent special forces troops to the Eighth Guidance’s base and the Bravers had deteriorated, and although they seemed to be repaired on the surface, the truth was that they were still strained.
The federal state’s president had resigned, leading to a general election. Even now, the nation was still under pressure to change political administrations and rebuild the department of defense.
In the United Nations, there had been a movement to form a treaty that banned the research of death-attribute magic in all member nations. Hiroto had worked towards the signing of the treaty as well, but a certain individual’s opposition had prevented it from being signed, and the treaty had been discarded in the end.
“Mom, is Oji-san still not here yet?” said Hiroto’s eldest son, Hiroshi.
Amemiya Narumi, whose surname had changed after her marriage with Hiroto, smiled at their son. “You love your Oji-san, don’t you, Hiroshi?”
“You don’t have to worry. He’ll be here soon. He should have today off as well,” Hiroto told his son.
“But Dad, it’s been so long since we saw Oji-san. You haven’t seen him for a while either, right?” said Hiroshi.
Hiroto was shaken by these words. “That’s… right. Yeah, I haven’t met him in private for a while.”
He had quickly suppressed his discomposure so that it wouldn’t show in his facial expression, but it seemed that Narumi had noticed it.
In the next moment, the intercom notified the family of a visitor.
The oji-san who had not visited the Amemiya family in a long time… The ‘Avalon’ Rikudou Hijiri, smiled calmly. “I suppose it would be strange to say, ‘long time no see.’ We see each other at work, and both of us deal with the media pretty often,” he said.
“… Yeah,” said Hiroto.
“But I want you to understand. I put a lot of thought into opposing that treaty to ban research into the death attribute.”
The one who had opposed the treaty was none other than Rikudou himself, who was currently an important figure even among the upper ranks of the Bravers.
Now that Minami Asagi and Endou Kouya were dead, Rikudou was the one whom Hiroto had trusted the most, so his opposition of the treaty had been devastating. But now, he did understand Rikudou’s point as well.
“Banning research only in the nations that are a part of the UN is meaningless. Not only that, but in order to prepare ways to stop the other nations and large-scale criminal organizations from researching the death attribute, you had to object. That’s your reason, right?” Hiroto said.
“And we’re just people from a single organization. We’re not politicians or leaders of nations. The United Nations rejected the treaty through a vote, so the result couldn’t have been changed whether we agreed with the treaty or not,” said Narumi. “It’s nothing that you two should be blaming yourselves for.”
“I’m glad you understand,” Rikudou said, smiling.
But the truth was different. Rikudou Hijiri was researching the death attribute himself in secret, and he had simply opposed the treaty because it would hinder his own research.
He had important figures and rich people from every nation, as well as a number of the reincarnated individuals, under his command. It would have been inconvenient for research into the death attribute to be banned in the main nation that it was being carried out in.
If the treaty had been signed, the trade, import and export of experimental drugs, medicines, Magic Items and analysis machinery that could be used in death attribute research would have come under strict monitoring. If Rikudou’s plans were uncovered as a result, everything would go to waste.
It’s fortunate for me that Minami, Endou and Tendou are gone. Things are much easier thanks to that. It seems that destiny loves me, Rikudou thought.
Unaware that Asagi had been reincarnated in another world and Kouya was still glaring at him bitterly from Rodcorte’s Divine Realm, Rikudou believed that he was a special being.
“Let’s leave the difficult conversation at that. Narumi, I know it’s late, but here’s a baby gift,” said Rikudou, handing her a beautifully wrapped box.
“Thank you,” said Narumi, smiling as she took the box.
Hiroto relaxed his shoulders and began to talk to Rikudou like he did before, as a friend.
“Oji-san, where’s mine?!” Hiroshi demanded.
“Hey, Hiroshi! Don’t say such rude things!” said Narumi, scolding her son.
“Hiroshi-kun, yours is here,” said Rikudou, taking out a small pouch.
“Thanks!” Hiroshi said, taking the pouch and running off.
“Wait, thank him properly before you open it!” Narumi shouted, going off to chase after him.
“I’m sorry he’s grown to be such a rascal,” Hiroto said apologetically.
“Hah, it’s just good that he’s healthy. But it seems that he doesn’t resemble you, nor the one he got his name from,” said Rikudou.
“… Yeah, that seems to be the case. I never met him, the one whose name was similar to mine, so I don’t really know much about him,” said Hiroto, thinking of Amamiya Hiroto, whom he had never met… or rather, had been unable to meet until Amamiya turned into an Undead.
“The truth is, I don’t remember him much either,” said Rikudou.
As he said, he didn’t remember Amamiya Hiroto, but he pretended to remember him nonetheless. But what he was really thinking about was how tiring it was to keep up this act in order to deceive Hiroto and the others, maintaining their current relationship.
If I left everything to my puppet ‘Metamorph,’ I’d forget how to keep up my act as Amemiya’s “virtuous close friend,” after all.
Continuing with the act, Rikudou changed the subject. “Come to think of it, you said that your second child is a daughter. I heard that her name is Mei… Is it…?”
“Yeah, I couldn’t name her ‘Pluto,’ so I changed it to a Japanese name,” said Hiroto.
“I see… The Eighth Guidance still has a lot of fans, including Pluto and Baba Yaga. You should be wary of the people around you,” Rikudou warned him. “By the way, has she already gone through her attribute examination?”
In Origin, where both science and magic existed, it was important to learn what attributes one’s own children had an affinity for. Thus, in developed nations, it was normal for young children to have their Mana’s properties to be examined.
“No, she’s not even a year old, so she hasn’t had her examination yet. If they’re too young, the Mana is often too weak and the machines can’t tell what attribute they are,” said Hiroto.
“Now that you mention it, you’re right. In this country… if I recall, the examination is done at the age of three and over, right?”
Even if she shares a name with Pluto, there is no way that she has qualities for the death attribute. Maybe I’m overthinking things, Rikudou thought.
At that moment, inside a cot in another room, Mei’s eyelids suddenly opened.
Her eyes were entirely a pitch-black color, including the parts that were supposed to be white. But she blinked, and her eyes returned to a normal color.
And then she closed her eyelids and went back to sleep.
There was not a single being watching this small but bizarre phenomenon, not even the gods.