Even when Vandalieu opened his eyes the next morning, there was no sign of Darcia.
『This is strange... I have a bad feeling about this. Maybe I should go out to find her.』
Normally, it would be reckless for a six-month-old infant to go outside by himself, but if Darcia didn’t come back by the end of the day, Vandalieu would have to venture outside either way.
There was still the one rabbit that Darcia had caught alive, but its blood would only last him until the end of today. He would have to make food suitable for an infant to eat by himself, but he was still only six months old. His stomach found it difficult to cope with food other than blood and his mother’s milk.
『Infants eat a lot more than you’d expect. I need to eat five or six times a day, since I’m doing magic practice and physical exercises, so my energy expenditure is quite high.』
Because of this, Vandalieu needed to eat considerably more than a normal infant. If he simply stayed here like the infant that he was, it was possible that he would starve to death in a few days’ time.
Because he was a Dhampir rather than a human, he wasn’t sure how long it would take for that to happen.
『Well, I guess I’ll start getting ready.』
Though he wanted to go out to find Darcia, his body was still unable to walk, let alone run, so he had to make various preparations. First, he had to secure a method of moving around.
『The first thing to do is... Get up.』
As Vandalieu gave this command in his head, the rabbit that he had killed by consuming its blood twitched and began to move.
He had not granted it life. He had used his magic to have the various spirits floating around nearby to possess the rabbit’s corpse, turning it into an Undead.
It was a death-attribute spell that created Undead.
『Looks like it worked. I wasn’t sure if I could do it or not, since my skill is still only level 2, but it seems it works fine if I use a bit more Mana to compensate. I guess it’s because my skill level is low; I can only make a moving corpse. But I can still use it to move around.』
The rabbit didn’t have any of the agility that it had when it was still alive; it simply moved. In Origin, he had planned to use this spell to escape. But he could only create these weak servants and they would be of no use against the strict security that he had been under, so he had given up.
The amount of Mana that he had needed to create this single Undead rabbit was far greater than the amount he needed for spells like Sterilization and Bug Killer. When Vandalieu checked his status, he found that his Mana had decreased by 10,000.
Using Sterilization once only cost him a single point of Mana, so the Mana cost of 10,000 was enormous in comparison.
『But one rabbit isn’t enough. More of you, get up. You, you and you, get up. You as well, hurry and get up!』
The ivy that Darcia had used instead of rope began to crawl around like a snake.
The small knife that she had used for cooking began lightly floating in the air.
The shabby bed made of wood rattled as it began to shake.
Vandalieu could have spirits possess more than just corpses. He could make them possess inorganic substances such as ivy, wood and metal. The idea came from fantasy and occult works that he had seen on Earth – evil spirits that possessed weapons to move on their own without a bearer, cursed gems or vases and Poltergeists that that caused furniture to move on its own.
However, having spirits possess inorganic substances required several times more Mana than having them possess a corpse.
『I used nearly 1,000,000 Mana just now. My head hurts a little... I’ll leave after I replenish myself.』
Vandalieu sucked the blood from the last remaining rabbit to replenish his Mana, turned that into an Undead as well and then left his home, riding on the bed.
『Get up, get up, get up, get up, get up! Which way is the town? Where can I find somewhere with lots of people?』
The bones of a deer, a mummified bear, a wild boar missing its head and internal organs and a human’s corpse that for some reason only had a skeleton remaining. These servants carried Vandalieu’s bed as he continued onward.
If anyone other than an adventurer or soldier were to witness this sight, they would surely tremble with fear.
An infant with silver hair and odd-colored eyes, one deep crimson and the other a bluish-purple, leading an army of Undead. A terrifying sight indeed.
But he looked more fearsome than he actually was.
The Undead corpses and bones of animals. The tools and furniture that had been cursed to be made Undead... Any one of these could be repelled by a single farmer wielding a hoe, and any adventurer would only consider them a group of small fry.
Knowing this, Vandalieu continued increasing the number of Undead at his command as he hurried forward.
『Mom isn’t in this forest.』
He had commanded a winged insect fly around to search the forest, but there was no sign of Darcia. He asked the spirits that were floating amongst the trees, but they couldn’t give him the information he wanted.
His head felt hot, as if it was steaming, and he felt a dizziness that would not subside. He no longer knew how many millions of Mana he had spent. But he couldn’t shake off this bad feeling.
『I should have tested making Undead earlier! I should have had an Undead follow Mom around!』
If he had done that, he would know where she was. If something happened, he would be able to sense it straight away.
In fact, if Darcia had known that he was capable of doing these things, she might have decided to leave the forest on the journey for her birthplace earlier.
But he didn’t test it. He had lived in peace, thinking that he would test it the next time his skill level increased. He had been spoiled by Darcia, his mother.
『Faster, to the town!』
He had around 50,000,000 Mana remaining. By the time his group of Undead reached Evbejia, the town closest to the forest, night had already fallen.
Evbejia was a small town built in between two villages, with a population of around 2,000. It was governed by Bestero, the Baronet.
It was surrounded by a wall to ward off monsters and there was no way to enter except through the four gates to the north, south, east and west. Unless one could fly through the air.
『You guys wait here. Bone Monkey, you carry me.』
He grabbed onto the back of an Undead he had made from the skeleton of a large monkey he had found in the forest, whom he had named Bone Monkey, and quietly approached the town’s outer wall.
It was a town with a population of only 2,000, so it wasn’t at particular risk of monster or enemy nation attack. Vandalieu could see holes in their guard system. If the person in charge of the security at the military facility in Origin could see this, he might feel sorry for these people.
Even so, the gates were closed and guards stood watch after nightfall.
There would be chaos if a human-sized skeleton monster approached them. That’s why Vandalieu ignored the gates and headed for the walls.
And then he embedded some Mana and a suitable number of spirits into the stone wall.
『Make a hole, big enough for us to pass through.』
The portion of the outer wall, now an Undead wall, wouldn’t disobey its master’s command. Making small, grinding noises, it changed shape to create a hole to allow passage through.
49,000,000 Mana remained.
【The Death-Attribute Magic skill has leveled up!】
He was barely aware of this announcement inside his head; his dizziness was very severe now. His head felt as if there was a hammer continuously striking his temple.
『Bone Monkey, find an alleyway where there’s no sign of any people.』
Bone Monkey continued forward, his bones rattling as they moved against each other. His movements were unrefined and showed no sign of consideration for Vandalieu who was clinging to his back, but it wasn’t a problem. Vandalieu wasn’t able to walk on his own yet, but his arm strength already exceeded that of a grown man. Holding onto Bone Monkey with both hands, he could easily support his own body weight of less than ten kilograms.
He looked around the dark, almost lightless town. Thanks to his Dark Vision, he could see as clearly as if it were in the middle of the afternoon.
Sending out the Undead insects to gather information, he listened to information from the spirits floating around the city that are conscious.
Normal spirits that hadn’t been turned into Undead normally dissipated quickly after death unless they had an exceptional force of will. That was why Vandalieu thought there wouldn’t be very many of them.
『... She’s in the town square.』(Bugs)
Therefore, he was so surprised that his heart almost stopped when he heard this answer given to him.
『To the town square!』(Vandalieu)
Bones rattling again, Bone Monkey moved quickly.
And in the town square, Vandalieu saw Darcia.
She was there.
『Vandalieu... I’m sorry...』(Darcia)
As a spirit that looked as if it would vanish at any moment.
『I’m sorry. Mommy died. But I didn’t say anything about you, Vandalieu.』(Darcia)
Darcia’s spirit, covered in countless whip-marks, began her explanation.
She had come to here, to Evbejia, to gather information to prepare for the journey to the Dark Elf village, where the murder of even a Dhampir would not be allowed.
『After all, Vandalieu, you have one eye the same crimson color as your daddy’s, and one bluish-purple like your mommy’s. People would know that you’re a Dhampir with one look at your face.』(Darcia)
That’s why using the highway wasn’t an option. So there was a need to find a relatively safe alternate road where monsters wouldn’t appear.
But she had been betrayed. The Church of the god Alda knew her name and appearance, and one of their members reported that there was a female adventurer who sometimes came to the town, matching her description exactly.
Darcia had unsuspectingly entered the town only to be surrounded by hired adventurers and ambushed by the knights of Baronet Bestero and the monks of the Church. She had resisted, but eventually captured.
『I fought desperately, but there were adventurers that were even better with a bow and spiritual magic than me, so it was hopeless. After that, they whipped me, asking me, “where is the Dhampir that you birthed, you damn witch?”』(Darcia)
The Church had tortured Darcia severely. They had whipped her, broken her fingers and pressed hot irons into her.
The pain must have reached all the way into her soul; even after becoming a spirit, the scars of the torture remained visible on Darcia’s body.
『Even so, I kept quiet, I’m amazing, aren’t I? I did well, didn’t I? But the Church realized that torturing me was useless, so they burned me at the stake earlier this evening.』(Darcia)
In order to spread the news of their achievement, the news that they were ending the life of the woman who had succumbed to a vampire’s seduction, they had executed Darcia publicly.
『So I was burned alive. After that, I wanted to at least go to see you after becoming a ghost, but the Church’s High Priest Gordan sprinkled holy water over my ashes. Because of that, I could barely keep myself from disappearing, so I couldn’t come to see you.』(Darcia)
As Vandalieu listened to Darcia’s words, his vision blurred and he felt a sense of despair and powerlessness, as if his body were rotting away.
If he had left to look for her yesterday, he would have made it in time. If he had come here sooner, he would have made it in time.
While he had been carefree, doing nothing, they were whipping his mother’s beautiful, chocolate-colored skin. While he had been satisfying his stomach with the blood of the rabbit, hot irons were being pressed into her.
And while he had been awkwardly wandering about the forest, she was burned alive in public as a criminal.
All that remained of her now was a smile pile of ash on the stone pavement of the town square.
【You have acquired the Mental Corruption skill!】
『If I had grown up faster, if I had trained myself in using magic earlier, if I had taken the time to gather information beforehand... If I had become stronger, Mom wouldn’t have had to die!』(Vandalieu)
Maddening emotions swirled around Vandalieu’s mind. His expression didn’t change much, but his body was shaking in grief and tears of regret and anger flowed endlessly from his eyes.
【The level of the Mental Corruption skill has increased to level 2!】
Darcia watched him sadly.
In truth, she had not wanted to tell him about the horrible things she had endured before her death. But she hadn’t been able to stay silent about it.
As a weak spirit on the verge of being extinguished, it was impossible for her to go against the wishes of Vandalieu, a death-attribute mage with an enormous amount of Mana.
And in front of her eyes, Vandalieu’s Undead insects returned to him. They had brought back information about Darcia from all over Evbejia.
『My Lord, today’s public execution was exciting, was it not?』(Steward)
『Indeed. Even if we did not catch the vampire itself, catching the Dark Elf who opened her legs to him is still a satisfactory achievement. My reputation with His Majesty and the Church grows better, and the day of my appointment to a higher position draws near.』(Feudal Lord)
『The day you can receive the Characters of Correspondence* from Baronet Bestero-sama is also near.』(Steward)
A feudal lord and his steward were happily envisioning a bright future for themselves while enjoying their dinner.
【The level of the Mental Corruption skill has increased to level 3!】
『That damn witch, she didn’t say anything about the Dhampir in the end.』(Feudal Lord)
『Hmph, I suppose she was trying to show her motherly love. She should have at least pleaded for her life when we burned her at the stake. She did not show any signs of repentance, right up until the end; she was truly a witch.』(Steward)
『She is surely burning in the flames of Hell now. So from tomorrow, we will be hunting the Dhampir using the Five-colored Blades?』(Feudal Lord)
『Would it not be fine to leave the infant? It has already been three days since the baby who still requires his mother’s milk has been separated from her. I am sure it is dead by now.』(Steward)
『Do not be so complacent! Even if it is a baby, half of its blood is that of a Vampire; we do not know what kind of powers it may have inherited! If his father had been of lower breed it would be another matter, but if he was a noble... or a pure-breed, what would happen if you left him!』(Feudal Lord)
『M-my apologies, High Priest Gordan.』(Steward)
『But we do not have the funds to hire the Five-colored Blades for long, and it would be unwise to add any more to our current achievements. I am sure that they are also not planning to associate themselves with us for much longer. They are adventurers, after all, different from us apostles of the God of Law and Fate, Alda. Have Ebvejia’s hunters guide them on the hunt in the mountains and work together with the Baronet-dono’s knights.』(Gordan)
In the Church, the High Priest and holy knights were calling Darcia a witch and cursing her while discussing how to dispose of Vandalieu.
【The level of the Mental Corruption skill has increased to level 4!】
『Today’s work was quite simple, huh. That Dark Elf was decently skilled with a bow and spiritual magic, but I’d say she was a D-class at most; she didn’t stand a chance against us. Isn’t that right, Blue-flamed Sword Heinz?』
『What’s wrong, Heinz? You’re acting a bit strange.』
『... No, it’s nothing. I just have a really bad aftertaste about it.』(Heinz)
『You feel sorry for that Dark Elf? You’re the leader of us B-class adventurers, the Five-colored Blades. Don’t be going saying naïve stuff like that.』
『I don’t know whether she succumbed to the Vampire’s seduction or wanted to become immortal, but that Dark Elf was paying for her own mistakes. It’s nothing to be concerned about.』(Female adventurer)
『That’s true, but I was shown a letter of introduction from the earl. I suppose it couldn’t be helped.』(Heinz)
『Well, let’s use the gold we earned to get some drinks and food. It’s just like eating the meat of the monsters we defeated, you know? That’s how we can honor her memory.』
The adventurer group who had been hired to catch Darcia, the『Five-colored Blades』, were saying that they would use the gold they earned from killing her to treat themselves to a meal.
【The level of the Mental Corruption skill has increased to level 5!】
『Cheers! A toast to the Baronet-sama and High-Priest-sama!』
『Hahaha, a toast to Orbie’s moodiness as well!』
『Oi, who are you calling moody?!』(Orbie)
『You, of course, you right here. I’m proud to have a companion who would fall in love at first sight with a beautiful Dark Elf coming to the town and then follow her like a hunter after being rejected.』
『What, it’s because of that that that we figured out that she was the witch on the wanted poster!』(Orbie)
『It was really a waste, though, huh. Burning a beauty like that at the stake. And now we’ll be earning some extra money by going on a hunt for the Dhampir. The knights will probably be in command, but I’m sure we can get paid a bit for guiding them through.』
『What are you talking about, we’re going to be the ones to catch the Dhampir. That way we’ll be getting a big payout, not just a little bit.』
『You didn’t tell them where the Dark Elf’s hiding place was?!』
『Good job, Orbie! If we catch the Dhampir, we can sell him to the Church, the Mage Guild, slave merchants, wherever we like!』
The hunters who had betrayed Darcia were now laughing loudly as they planned to capture Vandalieu and sell him.
【The level of the Mental Corruption skill has increased to level 6!】
『If you don’t behave, you’re going to be burned at the stake like the witch.』
『We can’t find the Dhampir, huh. I’m a bit anxious, they should hurry and exterminate him.』
『Is there no chance the Vampire will come back for revenge?』
『It would be a big problem if our village’s wine became known as the wine of the village the Vampire came from. I wish this problem would be taken care of already.』
And finally, the words of the townspeople... the people who led very ordinary lives. None of them had any sympathy for Darcia.
【The level of the Mental Corruption skill has increased to level 7!】
What a turn of events.
In all of his three lifetimes, Vandalieu had not thought even once that the world revolved around him, or that it was full of good will.
But he had never thought that it would be this cruel, this vicious.
Earth, Origin and finally Lambda.
This was his third life, but he had not experienced happiness even once. Would he forever be forced to endure the torturous feeling of having things taken from him?
In every one of his lives he had done nothing wrong, but had irreplaceable things taken from him and received nothing in return.
Even the god that he had discovered really existed had made no effort to help him.
『I’m sorry, Vandalieu...』(Darcia)
And then, right before Vandalieu’s eyes, Darcia was about to be taken from him as well.
『It seems Mommy’s at her limit now.』(Darcia)
Darcia’s form, which was already faint to begin with, began to blur and her voice began to waver. Her spiritual form was reaching its limits on how long it could remain in this world.
『Wait! Mom, you can’t go!』(Vandalieu)
Darcia would be going to the afterlife, into the hands of that god of transmigration, Rodcorte. If he found out that Vandalieu had lost his mother on Lambda, he would surely be laughing. Rodcorte would laugh at Vandalieu, hoping that he would feel more despair, hoping that he would give up. Vandalieu did not want this, he couldn’t allow it to happen, he couldn’t bear it.
『I’m sorry. I wanted to talk to you like this a lot more. I wanted to see you grow big, turn into an adult. I wanted to see you find a wife, have children and become happy.』(Darcia)
【The level of the Mental Corruption skill has increased to level 8 – 9!】
『I got it, Mom.』(Vandalieu)
Vandalieu had 45,000,000 Mana remaining. He poured all of it into Darcia’s spirit.
『Eh, ah, ah, ah? Vanda – aaaah!』(Darcia)
In the same way as when he created Undead, he poured his Mana into Darcia, whose fleeting spiritual form looked as if it could disappear at any moment. It was like pouring water into a bucket with a hole in the bottom, but even with a hole, the bucket would be filled if a vast amount of water was poured into it.
『Next, I need a vessel that Mom can possess...』(Vandalieu)
He couldn’t use a random stone, tool or bone. If he used something like that, it would be difficult for it to preserve Darcia’s personality for long.
If it were possible, her original body would have been best, but her body was now a pile of ash.
『Isn’t there something I can use?』(Vandalieu)
He had Bone Monkey search the pile of ash and found one of Darcia’s scorched bones. It was a fragment small enough to fit into Vandalieu’s tiny hand.
『This will do. Mom, inside here.』(Vandalieu)
Darcia, who was having an enormous amount of Mana poured into her, tried to defy her son’s request.
This was for his sake.
It was tragic, but she was already dead. Even if she was turned into an Undead, it would be different from when she was alive. Being by her son’s side in such a form wouldn’t be of benefit to him. In fact, it would have a negative influence.
That was why, even though she wanted to be by his side longer, she tried to separate herself from him as she fought back her tears, but –
【You have acquired the Death-Attribute Charm skill!】
I want to be by his side, I want to be by his side, I want to be by his side, I want to be with him forever! I don’t want to separate myself from this child!
『I understand. I’ll be with you forever.』(Darcia)
Darcia’s mind was filled with one thought, and she willingly inhabited her own remains.
『With this, I’ve recovered Mom, even though it’s just her spirit. I’ll create a new body for her one day.』(Vandalieu)
Vandalieu had gathered the Mana needed to maintain Darcia’s spirit form and a vessel for her to inhabit. But it was just a bone fragment, after all. But she couldn’t move of her own will and could do nothing but sleep until Vandalieu decided to speak to her.
That was why he definitely had to increase his skill with Death-Attribute Magic and create a vessel for her with which she could live a normal life, just as she had when she was alive.
『But before that, I have to get revenge on these guys.』
The Baronet and his servants, the Church, the adventurers, the hunters, the townspeople – Vandalieu would take revenge on all of them.
He would never be satisfied until he did so; it made no sense that they would suffer no punishment whatsoever. It would be far too absurd.
『But right now... I’m at my limit.』
He had less than a tenth of his Mana left. His head was hurting, he was thirsty, hungry and sleepy... He had demanded too much from his six-month-old body.
『I’m sorry, Mom. I’ll avenge you later... Bone Monkey, go back the way we came.』
Bone Monkey picked up Vandalieu in his arms and left Evbejia, bones rattling as he walked. The outer wall that had opened a hole for Vandalieu and Bone Monkey to pass through returned back to normal and the group of Undead that had been waiting followed after Bone Monkey.
The people were completely unaware that they had stirred the hatred of someone they shouldn’t have.
【The level of the Rapid Healing skill has increased to level 2! The level of the Surpass Limits skill has increased to level 2! The level of the Status Effect Resistance skill has increased to level 2!】