『Time for training.』
Vandalieu told this to his undead servants after making them line up in front of the cave.
Because of Rodcorte’s curse, Vandalieu couldn’t level up or change jobs, thus making it impossible for him to become stronger on his own. So he tried to change his way of thinking and thought:『If I can't become stronger, then I’ll just make my servants stronger.』
His reasoning was that if the undead following him were stronger, he could become capable of doing a wider range of things.
『Going to the town with them might be difficult, but Mom did say that there were some adventurers that had jobs in which monsters did their bidding, like Tamers, Lesser Mages and Summoners, so it’ll work out somehow.』
In the future, he wanted them to have enough strength to fight monsters easily, but for now, if they could carry him and run with the same speed they had when were alive, it would be enough to get out of this forest and go on a journey.
『They can’t even defeat wild wolves and bear as they are now, let alone monsters. Just the other day, my Bone Goblin was broken by a living Goblin.』
The Undead that he had recently created were all very weak. Well, that was to be expected since he had a group of level 1 Undead. Well then, why didn’t he just create stronger Undead? That reason was that he didn’t know how to make Undead above level 2.
In his previous life when he had awoken to the Death Attribute, he hadn’t experienced turning anybody into Undead except himself.
『The researchers at that facility would have never given me the chance to gather servants. When I awoke, my control over both my body and my magic had already been taken away long ago. If they hadn’t done that, I would have found out about the various things they were researching, like immortal soldiers. Well, that facility ended up failing anyway.』
He decided to change gears and check the fighting potential of his servants. Excluding the bugs that he used for gathering information, he lined up the Undead that looked like they could fight.
Bone Monkey, Bone Wolf, Bone Man, Bone Bear and Bone Bird. These were the ones that seemed suited the task. There were also Bone Boar, Bone Rabbit, Bone Goblin and so on. But the only ones who were complete, without missing or broken bones, were these five only.
『Well then, let us start the...training? Wait, what should I even make them do?』
Vandalieu, who suddenly realized that he had no idea about what to make Bone Monkey and the rest do, was at a loss for words.
Even amateurs had an idea about what do when training in order to become strong.
One would run to increase stamina and do strength training to increase muscle strength.
One would learn the moves of martial arts or hand-to-hand combat and then have sparring sessions to get practical experience, and so on.
But what would be an effective, experience-earning training for the Undead lined up in front of Vandalieu?
Running? It would be pointless. They have no heart or lungs, and in the first place, what would be the point in the untiring Undead aiming to gain more stamina?
Strength training? No, still no use. They had no muscles in the first place, having bodies solely made up of bones, so what exactly would they be trying “exercise” by doing push-ups and sit-ups?
Hand-to-hand combat and martial arts? Vandalieu didn’t know any, so there was no way to teach them.
Sparring? The mental capabilities of the Undead were too low; if he had them fight, they would keep fighting until they were in pieces. It would just become a contest for one of them to crush the other.
To begin with, Vandalieu himself never received any real training for fighting. On Earth, he did a moderate amount of exercise, but it was on the level of practising judo in physical education class in middle and high school; certainly not something that could be used in a real battle. In Origin, well, nothing more needed to be said.
『Maybe I can ask the spirits of Orbie and those hunters… No, it’s impossible.』
Those guys knew how to use bows. And the Undead didn’t yet have enough mental capacity to use bows. There’d be no point in teaching them.
『Let’s check their status for now.』
Though Darcia had failed to check Vandaleiu’s status when she tried, he was easily able to check the status of the Undead. What had been impossible for even a parent to do was probably possible because the Undead were in a subordinate relationship with Vandalieu. Darcia didn’t know much about the jobs that let one control monsters like Tamer or Lesser Mage, or the skills related to them, so there was no way to be sure why.
The status of the Undead was the following:
『They’re weak… Too weak.』
The Undead all belonged to the same race, regardless of what creature’s bones had been used to make them, and they all had the same status.
Living Bones: Corpses that moved despite having become only skeletons after death. They had no other special characteristics.
They did move, but their movements were clumsy and their strength was far below that of an average adult male. As for agility, they weren’t capable of running; their movement was slow. In addition, they couldn’t use the abilities and skills that they had while they were alive.
The bones themselves were hard, but it would be easy to defeat them by attacking their joints.
They had almost no intelligence or instincts, and at most they would make practice dummies for apprentice adventurers.
In short, they were undead that couldn’t be relied on in battle.
『So how am I supposed to make these guys stronger? I created them two months ago and they’re still level 0. I guess that means that they haven’t done anything that would gain them experience points as Living Bones. Then what would gain them experience points?』
Swordsmen would gain experience through battles and training, farmers through farming and weaponsmiths through forging weapons. So what would Undead need to do to gain experience points? How did monsters normally gain experience points?
『By killing humans, maybe?』
It occurred to him that they would need to harm humans as monsters would do, but… Even if this would work, it would be difficult to do in practice.
Vandalieu would feel no remorse no matter how many of the people of Evbejia he killed, but if he killed people and then the Adventurers’ Guild sent out a request for him to be exterminated, he would be forced back to his underground lifestyle.
He might be able to escape using the Undead as a decoy, but complete skeletons of large animals like Bone Monkey’s weren’t easy to find. They weren’t servants that he could use carelessly.
『Well, let’s try killing things like rabbits and mice.』
Because Vandalieu had needed fresh blood as a replacement for his mother’s milk, the Undead had captured animals like rabbits in traps, but kept them alive. Vandalieu would then bite them with their fangs to suck out their blood.
If the Undead killed the animals themselves, they might be able to gain experience points.
The next day, the Undead successfully captured a Goblin alive.
High Priest Gordan’s expedition had decreased their numbers, but not completely wiped them out. There was a reason the Adventurers’ Guild was always requesting the subjugation of Goblins.
There was no way to know whether the Goblin was trying to be menacing or hurling insults at them in the Goblin language, but it was shouting in an annoying voice as the Undead held it down.
『So this is a Goblin…』
Vandalieu looked at it with excitement, though his face was expressionless. It really was a fantasy world, he thought.
Goblins. They were the typical small-fry monsters found in numerous fantasy works and it seemed like Lambda was no exception.
It was lower-rank monster that not only lived in Devil’s Nests that were inhabited by monsters, but also lived in normal forest and even grasslands. Its body had dark green skin with a height reaching around the chest of a grown human and it had long ears like an elf, but its face was incomparably ugly.
Its strength was about the same of an average human, if not a little less, and it wasn’t particularly agile. Its mental age was the same as a three-year-old, and it armed itself with a tree branch while using the hide of an animal to cover its body for protection.
It was at Rank 1 and stronger than a single of the Living Bones Undead, but if alone, it was so weak it could be taken down by a farmer with a hoe. However, there was several superior types as well, so it was wise to be cautious.
But the thing Goblins were feared for the most were their reproductive capabilities and adaptability.
When breeding, Goblins birthed at between three to eight children at once. The newly born children became full adults in six months. The Goblins could keep on increasing in numbers regardless of if they were in the middle of a scorching desert or in the middle of winter.
『Oh and there’s also the setting that often occurs in fantasy works where they kidnap human women. Though apparently it’s not as common as Orcs doing that.』
He considered the knowledge Darcia had given him, but he thought it unlikely that the Goblin in front of him could do that. Simply because it didn’t have the strength to.
『For now... all of you, go ahead and deal the finishing blow together.』
His initial excitement was over; now it was time to see if the Undead could gain experience or not.
Bone Monkey and Bone Man hit and kicked the screaming Goblin on its head, Bone Bear and Bone Wolf bit and scratched it, while Bone Bird pecked at it. It was a gruesome method, but since the Living Bones couldn’t finish off the Goblin in one hit, it couldn’t be helped.
Within ten seconds, the Goblin stopped moving. Vandalieu checked the status of the Undead.
They had leveled up from level 0 to level 2.
『Oh, they leveled up! Now it's clear that Undead can gain experience from killing living things.』
Having found out that even the Undead that he created using Death-Attribute magic could gain experience, Vandalieu was both relieved and elated at the same time. With this, the prospect of living as an adventurer somewhere away from the influence of Amid Empire and the Church of Alda wasn’t impossible. He felt really good.
『Hmm? I feel a little too good… status.』
He was a little curious, so he tried checking his own status.
A surprising change had occurred.
『My level has gone from 0 to 3!? The curse is still active, so why?』
In the 8 months that he spent after being born on this planet, Lambda, his level had not increased at all no matter what he did. Even when he practised Death-Attribute magic, or killed rabbits by sucking them dry, or even killed Orbie and his partners in the same way.
He checked his status again; there was no mistake. However, the “Unable to gain experience independently” curse was still there.
Then why? As Vandalieu was thinking about this, an explanation came to him.
『Maybe, when Bone Monkey and the others gain experience, a portion of that goes to me?』
On Earth, there had been games with systems where when friendly monsters or the clones of the protagonist gained experience, the protagonist acquired a portion of that experience. Had something similar happened here?
『The effect of the curse just stops me from gaining experience on my own, but gaining experience by having the Undead under me earn it for me is effective… For curse a god cast on me, that’s too big of a loophole.』
To overlook that fact that Vandalieu could get around the effect of the curse that had been cast in order to drive the Death-Attribute-wielding Vandalieu to suicide by having the Undead gain experience for him. It was such a big loophole that he thought it was some kind of trap for moment. Rodcorte wouldn’t even have to think for a second to realize that Vandalieu could create Undead.
However, the more he thought about it, the more Rodcorte seemed like a simple fool.
『Now that I think about it, what he is doing is basically just passing all the work to us. Giving strength and opportunities to us… to everyone excluding me, and then offering no detailed instructions or following up with us afterwards. In that case, it would be natural to think that he wouldn’t be able to predict something like this.』
It was likely that Rodcorte was viewing Vandalieu and Amemiya Hiroshi from a place that was far above. It wasn't like a nobles-and-peasants relationship, it wasn’t even in the same dimension. It was like the relationship between a player playing a simulation game and the player character inside the game. That was the extent of the gap between them.
That was why even though he had put Vandalieu through such a terrible experience, he had merely thought “That was wrong of me” and nothing more. That was why, on top of that, to make Vandalieu give up on his revenge, Rodcorte thought nothing of trying to drive him to despair so that he would commit suicide.
That was why Rodcorte didn’t think too deeply about Vandalieu. To him, Vandalieu was just one character among a hundred and one characters.
『That’s why it was a curse like this. At this rate, I might be able to do something about my job too.』
Vandalieu felt delighted and invigorated, but at the same time, remembering all those thing made his wrath against Rodcorte flare up again. And then he renewed his vow to never commit suicide, a vow that he had made to himself many times before.
Incidentally, he went ahead and had the corpse of the Goblin buried. The blood of Goblins tasted bad, there were no raw materials to be gotten from it, and since he wasn’t an adventurer, he couldn’t collect a bounty on it so there was no point keeping its body parts as proof of killing it. He thought about turning the corpse into Undead, but thinking that increasing the numbers of bodies that needed training would be a hassle, he said goodbye to it.
When the sun had completely sun below the horizon, a bonfire could be seen burning in front of the cave in the forest.
Five Undead with bluish-white flames burning in their empty eye sockets were gathered around the red fire. And then there was the child that looked like a toddler with such white skin that one would shiver at the sight of him, even in the red glow of the fire.
In addition, the spirit of a beautiful, yet scarred Dark Elf appeared beside that toddler, as if cuddling him.
If a traveller happened to come across the scene, such fear would be instilled in him that he would run away as fast as he could.
The Dark Elf’s spirit slowly opened her mouth.
It was an awkward song. It was said that it was the song that the heroes had sung on their birthdays long ago, and it was still sung on birthdays in Lambda to this day.
The Undead that had nothing but bones, instead of the song began making sounds with their teeth and beaks, or their hand or feet bones in rhythm with the song.
『Happy first birthday, Vandalieu!』
Receiving the blessings of the spirit, the toddler breathed in, and whispering a few choice words, blew in the direction of the bonfire.
The bonfire which was robbed of its heat by the magic spell imbued in the breath promptly went out. The surroundings became pitch black, but the hearts of the ones present were shining like the sun.
『Happy first birthday, Vandalieu. Your Mother is really happy.』
「Thank you, Mother.」
The humidity of June in the country of Mirg was less than that of early summer in Japan. Vandalieu had turned exactly one year old today. They were gathered here to celebrate his birthday, but he couldn’t deny that it was less than glamorous compared to the birthday parties in typical households in both Earth and Origin.
There was no cake and no presents. Their feast consisted of soup, with stock made from the bones of a raccoon with its meat finely minced and cooked with some spices.
And, of course, the fresh blood of a raccoon.
Though he had forcibly made the hard, smelly meat of the racoon into something edible, it was in no way an excellent meal. For a Dhampir like Vandalieu, it could be said that the blood was the only saving grace.
『I’m really sorry. If your Mother was still alive, I’d have made you a proper feast.』
Nonetheless, Vandalieu was happy.
「There’s no need to apologize, Mother. I’m very happy.」
Vandalieu had lived on both Earth and Origin, but this was the first time he was experiencing someone celebrating his birthday. In Origin, no researcher would celebrate the birthday of a guinea pig. To them, it was probably nothing more than increasing the number in the age field of their data records by one.
On Earth, he had lived with his uncle’s family, but was told「You’re going to becoming a very responsible adult in the future, so if we start celebrating your birthday or christmas while you’re a kid you’ll become spoiled」and thus received no presents or cake. He had never even been congratulated once, even though the uncle did celebrate his own children’s birthdays.
For Vandalieu, this was his first birthday party.
「Besides, today is a very memorable day when a lot of happy things happened.」
Vandalieu said to Darcia, who had become teary eyed and reminded her about the other memorable things that had happened.
First of all, he had become able to speak properly. This was a surprisingly important thing, because by being able to speak words, he was finally able to chant the spells he was casting.
Up until now, he had been unable to chant the spells, and had been forcibly activating them by using an absurd amount of Mana. Therefore, each spell used Mana several times more Mana than it normally would and its potency was less than half of what it would normally be. If he hadn’t possessed such an abnormally huge amount of Mana, he would not have been to come as far as he did.
However, since he did come this far without reciting the spells at all, as soon as he was able to speak, he gained the【Chant Revokation】skill, which allowed him to cast spells without chanting them.
Apparently, it was such a rare skill that even Darcia was shocked, although she was a little bit depressed by the timing.
In addition, Bone Monkey and the other Undead had reached Level 100 and increased their rank to 2.
As usual, there were no skills except NIght Vision, but there were great benefits that had come with increasing their rank.
The overall attributes of Bone Monkey and the other Undead, which had now become Bone Animals, had increased to match the values they had as when they were alive. In addition, they now not only obeyed Vandalieu’s commands, but had their own intelligence of normal beasts.
Bone Man was the only one that had changed into the Skeleton race after the rank up, but that was a given since he was made of the bones of a human. He had the strength and agility of an average human, and from the viewpoint of adventurers it was still a small fry, but for Vandalieu it was a reassuring addition to his forces.
If he made him wear the leather armor that he had obtained from Orbie and the other hunters and then equip him with a dagger and wooden shield that he had made by creating a Wood Golem, he could prepare a fine skeleton warrior. Right now, it was practising using a bow.
Incidentally, Vandalieu had also reached level 100. However, since it was the level 100 of “None” job, his attributes did not increase that much. Although he had technically fulfilled the requirements for a job change, he didn’t have access to the facilities required for a job change, namely the special rooms that could be found in various guild or temples, so it was meaningless.
Finally, even though his forces had come together somewhat, Vandalieu thought that it was still too early to exact his revenge on Evbejia. His power was still far too little. Even now, starting and completing his revenge would be possible. But he wasn’t sure that after that he would be able to run away from Evbejia and reach a place far away from the Mirg country where a Dhampir could live peacefully in a town. He must get his revenge on Evbejia and feel satisfied afterwards, so for now he was amassing power and supplies.
「I’m thinking of starting to hunt bandits from tomorrow.」
Bandits. They were not monsters, but rather armed factions of criminals that worked as robbers in the outskirts of towns.
In other words, they were humans.
How was the goal of amassing power and supplies related to taking the initiative to kill humans? There was very logical answer to this.
「Recently, no matter how many hares or raccoons the Undead kill, their levels don’t go up, and there no monsters stronger than Goblins in this forest. But Evbejia is the center of the path that leads to other villages, and if we search for some bandits, I’m sure we’ll find some. If we kill the bandits, that’ll become experience points for the Undead, while the supplies they have hoarded will become ours. Two birds with one stone, I think.」
And on top of that, in this world, there was no law against killing bandits and taking their loot for yourself. On Earth and Origin, killing and taking their stolen good made you a full-fledged criminal. However, in Lambda, even if a normal citizen killed a bandit, he would not be treated as a criminal. On the contrary, you were praised as having done a good job and no one called you a「killer」or told you that you「took away their human rights.」The stolen goods were treated as the rightful property of the one who took down the bandits. If the original owner really wanted to regain his possessions, it was thought that he should independently negotiate with the one who took down the bandits.
『But, isn’t taking down bandits dangerous? Even D-class adventurers do it in a group.』
Darcia spoke to Vandalieu, worried about him. He smiled at her reassuringly.
「I’ll prepare a proper ambush, so it’s okay. Besides, I already have an idea of where I can find some bandits.」
And so, from the next day, at the age of one, Vandalieu began to do work by himself that even D-class adventurers did in a group.