「So that’s why I’m going to be participating in a battle with my life on the line. It’s nothing out of the ordinary, so don’t worry.」
『Vandalieu, I don’t think there’s a single parent who wouldn’t worry after hearing such words from their child.』
「... So you don’t want me to fight?」
『Hmm, it’s true that you’re always risking your life, and if you try hard, you won’t die, Vandalieu... But you have to make sure you cooperate with everyone else properly, okay?』
「I know, Mom.」
The spirit of the Kobold Shaman that had been split in half vertically by Bugogan’s magic sword spent seven days traveling to this Ghoul village. It delivered precious information about the Noble Orc who had established a large village and was now attacking other Ghoul villages and kidnapping adventurers while amassing military force.
Vandalieu had been worried that the Ghouls wouldn’t believe this information, but they didn’t doubt him. He was earnestly happy that they trusted him.
「Three hundred Orcs, and a hundred each of Goblins and Kobolds. What will we do? Can we beat them?」
「Hey, does that mean that there are three hundred enemies?」
「That’s five hundred; you’re an idiot, aren’t you? You can’t even add numbers?」
「Goblins, Kobolds and Orcs, they’re all enemies of Ghouls, aren’t they?! Each of us just needs to kill five of them, then we’ll win!」
「Hey, are you including us in your numbers? We still have babies in our stomachs, you know?」
『Bilde-san is four months pregnant, so I do believe that strenuous movements such as those of battle would be impossible for her.』
「And their leader is a Noble Orc. No matter how weak he is for a Noble Orc, he’ll be stronger than Mother and Vigaro.」
「What?! Basdia, are you saying that Vigaro would lose to him?!」
「Of course! It’s obvious that I’d lose!」
「V-Vigaro, I’m sure you’d win.」
「Face the facts, you morons!」
Well, while Vandalieu was feeling happy about being trusted, the Ghouls were seriously discussing what to do about the large village of Orcs. This was only natural; their survival depended on the decisions they made here.
The Ghouls were seated in a circle around a fire in an open space, holding a large emergency meeting to decide the actions that the village would take.
「Boy, could you please confirm the enemy’s numbers one more time?」
Since the Ghouls at the meeting weren’t settling down, Zadiris asked Vandalieu to repeat the Kobold Shaman’s information. Incidentally, the Kobold Shaman informant’s spirit had collapsed soon after reporting this information to Vandalieu.
In order to gain revenge over the Noble Orc who had killed it, it had used its experience as a Spiritualist even after its own death to communicate with other spirits and make its week-long journey to this village. Nobody would know whether it was simply very determined for revenge on its killer, or affected by Vandalieu’s【Death-Attribute Charm】skill from very far away.
Either way, now that it had delivered the information, it was now floating around Vandalieu, like it was dozing off.
「The enemies are three hundred Orcs, a hundred Goblins, a hundred Kobolds and a few dozen tamed beast-type monsters. There are about six hundred enemies in total. The chief is a Noble Orc and he has three sons. There are also quite a few Orc Generals, Orc Knights and Orc Mages. The Goblins are Soldiers, Chiefs, Knights and Mages. But there are no Generals or Kings. Also, the enemy has attacked other Ghoul villages, captured the females and used them as mothers for their children, and they’ve recently started attacking parties of adventurers as well.」
The Ghouls grimaced at the news of the enemy’s forces, their extreme actions and also the fact that members of their own race had been attacked, even though they belonged to other villages.
Both the normal Orcs and the higher race of Noble Orcs were races that only had males. That was why they used the females of other races to breed. In most cases, they used the females of Goblins and Kobolds, and they also sometimes used female cattle that they stole from villages. However, possibly because they were a race created by the Demon King and his servants to harm humans, they preferred female humans the most.
Though Ghouls were treated as monsters by humans, their females were exactly like human females other than the color of their skin and eyes. Since their roots could be traced back to the goddess Vida, from the monsters’ point of view, they were just like humans.
Ghouls found it difficult to get pregnant unless Vandalieu cast his spells on them, and only one in five of their children were born safely. However, for some reason, if the father was an Orc, there were no problems.
... Though that wasn’t a good thing at all.
(Is this because Orc breeding is parthenogenesis that looks like normal reproduction? Instead of Orc sperm fertilizing the egg cell, if the Orc sperm simply absorbs and takes over the mother’s genes, then that would explain why the offspring never belongs to the mother’s race... I suppose? I’m not even sure if genes exist in this world. Well, either way, none of this helps to solve the Ghouls’ declining birth rates.)
Vandalieu was contemplating these thoughts, but the Ghouls had calmed down and began to discuss what to do once more after hearing his words.
There were four very different opinions expressed at the meeting.
「Hey, the Orcs are targeting human villages and cities, right? Then they have nothing to do with us, do they? In that case, we just have to sit here and do nothing.」
The opinion that the Ghouls should simply watch what the Orcs decide to do.
They felt sorry for the female Ghouls that had already been captured and the Ghoul villages that would be attacked in the future, but since they couldn’t defeat the Orcs in battle, fighting them was too dangerous.
Well, Zadiris’s village had no obligation to risk themselves to help the other Ghoul villages. It was cold, but it was meaningless for their village to come to ruin by trying to help others.
However, this would be a poor move. The Noble Orc leading the Orcs had been waiting for Zadiris to die. The reason for this was obvious – he was planning to attack this village once Zadiris died.
Groups of monsters were generally ruled as dictatorships, where the ruler decided everything. Since the ruler of these Orcs had been observing this village, there was no chance that they could avoid his attention.
Conflicts between humans could be resolved through peace treaties, but monsters didn’t possess such concepts.
And even if the Noble Orc somehow decided to leave this village alone, what would come next? If the Orcs failed their attack on the humans, adventurers would come to this Devil’s Nest in large numbers. They would hunt down the remnants of the Noble Orc’s forces to ensure that no large group of Orcs would ever form again.
The nation of Mirg was the country at the front of the Orgaume Kingdom. Its army was likely powerful, and it would surely have many adventurers. The chance that the Noble Orc’s plan would fail was close to 100%.
「How about running away while the Orcs are making their noise? ... I suppose not.」
There was a Ghoul suggesting this, but he rejected his own idea.
Of course, this was because it was unrealistic for a hundred Ghouls to be able to run away. The forest of this Devil’s Nest was quite spacious, but it would be difficult for a hundred Ghouls, including pregnant women, to run away unnoticed by the Orcs.
It was possible to escape to another Devil’s Nest or simply outside of this Devil’s Nest, but these Ghouls had lived in this Devil’s Nest generation after generation and were unfamiliar with the geography outside.
Darcia and Sam were quite knowledgeable about it, but they only knew that escaping to a Devil’s Nest on the Mirg-side would take over ten days, and even if they made it there, the chance of being discovered by humans was high.
And nobody knew what was around the mountain range. Just in case, Vandalieu had sent out small Undead such as insects and small birds to the mountain range today, but it would take them over a month to discover anything.
「Then are we going to surrender to the Orcs? Definitely not; we’re better off dead than doing something like that.」
As Bilde said, the option of surrendering to the Orcs and falling under their control was out of the question.
The men would be used as slaves and soldiers like the Goblins and Kobolds, used to fight against the humans until they all perished. The women would become mothers for the Orcs.
That would be the worst possible outcome.
「Let’s fight. Let’s reach out to the other Ghoul villages as well.」
In the end, Basdia’s view was the most realistic. They had to reduce the difference in numbers as much as possible, and then attack before they were attacked.
Vandalieu knew that they would be busy for the next little while.
「Well then, before that, there’s something I need to say.」
Vigaro, the next chief, spoke in a serious tone, staring at Vandalieu.
「Vandalieu, you should leave this village as soon as possible.」
「No. Anyway, I have a suggestion –」
「Wait, wait! Don’t change the subject!」
As Vandalieu immediately rejected Vigaro’s request for him to leave the village, Vigaro became flustered for some reason.
「At this rate, you’ll end up fighting the Orcs with us, you know?! Are you alright with that?!」
「That’s fine with me. Anyway, my suggestion is –」
「That’s not fine at all! Don’t be so stubborn –」
「I won’t leave.」
「Stop interrupting me!」
Vigaro had been doing nothing but interrupting people up until now, and now he was telling Vandalieu not to interrupt him. Vandalieu couldn’t understand. Was saying,「That’s fine with me」a bad idea? He supposed that it sounded self-important... to be safe, should he have replied,「I do not mind」?
Vandalieu pondered whether it was his choice of words that was the problem, but Vigaro scratched his mane and began shouting.
「This is a fight between us Ghouls and them Orcs! It has nothing to do with you!」
Vandalieu had stayed in this village for a long time, but he was not a Ghoul. And he had said that he would one day leave this village and cross the mountain range to get to the Orbaume Kingdom.
That was why he shouldn’t tie his fate to that of the Ghouls. He was only a two-year-old child. He shouldn’t get involved in a battle whose outcome was so uncertain.
「It does have something to do with me; you are all my companions and my family. By the way, could you listen to my suggestion now?」
However, this two-year-old boy did things at his own pace.
He said these emotional words in a flat tone with no signs of embarrassment, and then tried to change the subject once more.
「What can you even do in the first place?!」
Resisting the urge to smile after being told that the Ghouls were family to Vandalieu, Vigaro shouted this question at him. Indeed, if one were to divide the people of this world into the strong and the weak, Vandalieu would fall into the weak side.
His Mana pool vastly exceeded what was normal, and as a Dhampir, his physical strength exceeded that of a normal adult at the age of two. On top of that, he was able to use death-attribute magic that nobody in this world knew about.
However, that was all. He had no understanding of martial arts, and his knowledge of group battle tactics and strategy was all self-taught. There was no way that he would be a good tactician.
His vast Mana pool was nothing more than simple Mana. He couldn’t use it to directly kill monsters, and no matter how much Mana he had, he would die if his Vitality dropped to 0.
The only ways Vandalieu could use his Mana was through Death-Attribute Magic and No-Attribute Magic. Death-Attribute Magic was limited in its options for direct attacks, and he had only just recently learned No-Attribute Magic and he was still inept with it.
If the enemies were mages, then he could use the【Magic Absorption Barrier】to render them useless, but the enemies were Orcs this time. Few of them were Orc Mages, and as a race, they relied on their physical strength to charge at their enemies with their weapons.
Vandalieu himself had been aware of all of this ever since Darcia had been killed. However, he was also aware that there was any number of things that he was able to do.
「First, me being here would contribute three Rotten Beasts, a Phantom Bird and a Skeleton Soldier as well as Sam, Saria and Rita.」
Sam and the others were all Vandalieu’s servants. Of course, if Vandalieu were to participate in the battle against the Orcs, they would participate too. Since they were all at least Rank 3, the military strength that they added wasn’t small by any means.
「And I think when you reach out to the other Ghoul villages, having me around will be convenient.」
It was already known that Ghouls were affected by the【Death-Attribute Charm】skill, so Vandalieu pointed out that this would be useful. Knowing that he was right, Vigaro could only let out a groan.
「You should leave it at that, Vigaro. Everyone knows that you were thinking of what is best for the boy when you spoke.」
「Yeah. And Van is family to us as well, and the same goes for the others of our race, right?」
「Yeah, yeah! Vigaro, don’t push yourself!」
「That’s right, you can’t say that he has nothing to do with it, even if you don’t mean it!」
Vigaro was on his own.
「Y-you... Ah, I don’t care anymore! I’m going to make sure you’re so heavily involved that nobody will ever say that it has nothing to do you with you again!」
「It seems that the next chief has given his authorization, boy. So what is your suggestion?」
Finally able to talk, Vandalieu gave a sigh of relief and made his suggestion.
「It’s nothing special, but I was thinking of distributing the equipment and Magic Items that I’m not planning to use in the near future to everyone.」
But judging from everyone’s reactions, it seemed that it was something special.
In this world, Magic Items have grades.
From the bottom, they are lower-class (this is a poor way to say it, so these have also recently started to be called beginner-class*), middle-class, upper-class, special-class, legendary-class and mythical-class.
Lower-class items are things like swords that aren’t as susceptible to rust as normal swords, leather armor that doesn’t hurt the body if slept in, timers that ring an alarm after an hour, magical stoves similar to the portable gas stoves of Earth, magical street lights and the like; many of them are plain, everyday items that people from Earth wouldn’t normally think of as Magic Items.
The real Magic-Item-like items start at the middle class, and many items that adventurers use belong to this class. Upper-class items are significantly more valuable and difficult to obtain, and special-class items are few and far between, treated as national treasures.
Items called Artifacts such as sacred swords that only chosen heroes can wield belong to the legendary-class, while the cheat-like items of myths are in the mythical-class.
The classification of Magic Items is dependent not only on their functions and the strength of the magic they contain, but also the effort and materials needed to create them as well as their rarity. Apparently, magical stoves were once considered middle-class Magic Items before mass-producing them was feasible.
「Oka~ay, line up, line up.」
The Magic Items from the Dungeon that Vandalieu was now distributing among the Ghouls were of lower and middle class.
When Vandalieu had first obtained the Magic Items, he could only tell that they were Magic Items and roughly how much Mana was stored inside them. Even after he learned the No-Attribute Magic【Appraisal】spell, he had no knowledge to make sense of the information, so he had continued hoarding them without knowing what kind of items they were.
However, he thought that the Ghouls needed to be stronger for a difficult mission like invading the large Orc village, so he gave them out.
Of course, for free.
This came at a great cost to Vandalieu, but he had simply been hoarding them with no way to sell them for money anyway, and he had simply received them from the Undead of the Dungeon or found them inside treasure chests, he felt no attachment to them as he hadn’t struggled to obtain them. And so he generously gave them away.
「This has a low-level agility enchantment, and this is a low-level stamina recovery accessory. Both are little more than consolation prizes, but they are indeed Magic Items.」
「Then please give those to Guda-san and Gibli-san.」
Vandalieu had Zadiris use【Appraisal】, and then distributed the Magic Items one after another. If he was in a large human town, he would be able to sell them at a thousand Amid each, a price not insignificant but not exorbitant either. Even so, they were precious items in this village in the Devil’s Nest, so everyone accepted them.
(The happy feeling of giving presents to people is a fresh experience for me.)
On Earth, Vandalieu had no friends or decent family, and in Origin he had been a laboratory animal. Having his first opportunity to give presents to someone in Lambda, Vandalieu felt very happy.
「I’m going to give those Orcs a beating with this!」
「I’ll give you a belly full of Orc meat to repay you for this bracelet.」
Incidentally, Orc meat was apparently tasty without any special cooking methods, unlike Goblin and Kobold meat. Its taste was similar to that of wild boar meat, so the Ghouls were looking forward to it.
「Give the special battleaxe that I got from the Skeleton General to Vigaro. And the kite shield is for Basdia.」
Vandalieu handed over the items that were the most valuable among the items that he had obtained in the Dungeon other than the suits of armor that had become Saria and Rita’s bodies and the weapons that they used.
Vigaro thanked Vandalieu as he received the battleaxe, and then looked at him with a serious expression.
「Vandalieu, you should be the King.」
「... I’m sorry?」
「Us Ghouls join forces with other villages to fight against a common enemy. When that happens, the one who stands at the top and gives the orders is the King. That should be you.」
「... I’m sorry?*」
From Vigaro’s explanation, Vandalieu understood the role of the King, but he couldn’t understand why he should be the one in such an important position. Vandalieu was confused, but Basdia looked happy at his response.
「I’m glad you’ve agreed, Van.」
「No no no, I didn’t mean『yes』to agree, but『I’m sorry?*』」
「But Van, everyone else says you’re the most suitable as well.」
「Who do you mean by “everyone”?!」
「Everyone other than you, Van.」
It seemed that they had been discussing it while the Magic Items were being distributed.
『This is a great success for you~♪』
『We’ll do our best, too!』
Sam and his daughters had apparently also participated in the discussions. It seemed that not a single person had any complaints.
Sam’s faint, white Spirit Form raised his hand, giving Vandalieu a thumbs-up. Rita and Saria were also giving a rattling applause.
『Oh Vandalieu, you’ve become such a fine boy!』
Darcia had woken up without Vandalieu noticing and was now crying tears of happiness. Was she feeling like a parent whose child had been chosen as the class representative or put in the leading role in the school arts festival?
「No no no, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. You might all be fine with it, but will the other villages agree? I’m a Dhampir, you know. I’m of a different race. Will they accept such a King?」
「It will be alright; that is not a problem.」
「Yeah, if it were a human then there’d probably be some opposition, but since you’re a Dhampir, it’ll be fine.」
「... Well, even I think that it’ll probably be fine.」
The founder of Ghouls was thought to be the younger brother or sister of the founder of Vampires. A Dhampir whose blood was half-Vampire was something like a relative for Ghouls. In addition, Dhampirs were considered monsters by the Amid Empire and its nations.
And Vandalieu possessed the【Death-Attribute Charm】skill. Even Vandalieu knew that the other Ghoul villages wouldn’t be strongly opposed to him being the King.
「And you do meet the requirements to be the King, boy, in terms of your ability and achievements.」
Vandalieu had once told Zadiris that he possessed the【Strengthen Followers】skill.
「Boy, the【Strengthen Followers】skill that you mentioned to me before does exactly as its name suggests, increasing the attribute points of your followers. Your followers are your Undead, and we will be your followers as well. In other words, if you stand at the top position as King, you will strengthen all of the Ghouls that follow your command. That skill is something like a King-specific skill.」
The【Strengthen Followers】skill is something that any monster bearing the title of “King” possesses. Thanks to this skill, the group of monsters led by the King is stronger than normal and their numbers are also greater.
Though Zadiris didn’t know this, there was once a Goblin King who had obtained a level 10【Strengthen Followers】skill and his followers fought evenly against fully-armed knights, wielding only tree branches and wearing fur loincloths.
There was a reason that the Adventurers’ Guild treated the appearance of a King as a disastrous event.
「You are the one who made an effort to correct our weakness of not being able to reproduce easily, did you not? You opened up our future and helped us prosper. You have already shown success in doing so as well. If these are not the achievements of a leader, then I do not know what are.」
Vandalieu felt that Zadiris was exaggerating with her words, but difficulty with reproduction was a problem that Ghouls as a race faced, and the fact that they couldn’t increase their numbers had been a heavy restriction that prevented them from expanding.
If the other Ghouls knew that Vandalieu had a way to solve this problem, they would gladly gather to follow his command.
Having never imagined that solving the problem of the Ghouls’ declining birth rates would lead to this, Vandalieu put a hand to his forehead. Vigaro seemed happy that things had gone well. He had made Vandalieu heavily involved as he had said he would, but he was slightly immature about it.
「I understand. I will become the King.」
And so Vandalieu became the Ghoul King before even becoming an adventurer.
『Vandalieu has acquired the Title* of【Ghoul King!】』
『The level of the【Strengthen Followers】skill has increased!』
The first job for this King was armor-fitting.
「Gudan, are there any tight or hard-to-move parts?」
「It’s hard to move my elbows and neck, and my helmet is too tight.」
Ghoul men possessed the heads of lions and had arms so long that their fists would reach the ground even if they were standing upright. Since their appearance was so different from humans, they couldn’t use the human-designed armor that Vandalieu had distributed without some adjustments.
Normally, a skilled craftsman and some time would be needed to alter them for Ghoul use.
「Now then, stand up.」
However, Vandalieu had thought of a method that didn’t require either.
First, he would have the Ghouls put the armor on, and then turn them into Living Armor... to be more accurate, armor-shaped Golems.
「The shape of the armor is going to change, so try moving your arms and neck.」
With a creaking noise, the armor gradually changed shape with the use of the【Golem Transmutation】skill. It took less than ten minutes for the metal human-shaped armor to become suitable for Ghoul use.
It looked unrefined as it had no decorations, but it had plenty of function. There were some parts that the armor didn’t cover because the Ghouls’ arms were so long, but that would be fixed by using leather parts made from monster hides.
「Oh, it’s become really comfortable! Thanks, King!」
「You’re welcome. Next person~」
This work wasn’t King-like at all, but since the village’s craftsmen had only worked with monster hides, bones and horns before, they were unable to adjust the metal armor. That was why there was no option but for Vandalieu to do it himself.
The King-like work... visiting the other Ghoul villages and requesting for their cooperation would begin tomorrow. The villages had been established in a way that their hunting grounds didn’t overlap, so they were quite far apart, and they thought of each other as rivals when there wasn’t a common enemy, so even Zadiris didn’t know their exact locations or numbers.
Vandalieu’s insect Undead and spirit informants would help them estimate where they were.
This seemed like an unexpectedly slow plan, but the Noble Orc’s village wouldn’t act before spring and possibly even as late as summer, so they had time.
Of course, they wanted to save the captured female Ghouls as soon as possible, but rushing things and getting defeated would be pointless.
Incidentally, the Ghouls didn’t really think about saving the female adventurers that had been captured. Adventurers were normally enemies for Ghouls. Basdia and Bilde seemed to sympathize for them as women, but not enough to risk anything for them.
And Vandalieu had no desire to do so either. The adventurers of the nation of Mirg were enemies for him as well. He knew that it was possible that if he saved them, they would say something like,「Thanks for saving us, in return, we’ll exterminate you, okay~♪」
(Well, if I saw them being tormented with my own eyes or if it turned out that they were people I knew, then I might think to save them.)
Vandalieu was aware that if he saw women being hurt, he would associate them with Darcia and his blood would quickly rise to his head.
(I suppose we’ll do what we can quickly and efficiently, and if they’re still alive after we win, then I’ll save them.)
If he abandoned captured adventurers, he was worried about what the cheaters who would be reincarnated here in the future would say, so he did intend to save them in the end.
(Ah, now that I think about it, should I tell Zadiris and the others about my circumstances? Yes, I’ll tell them after this. Zadiris, Vigaro, Basdia... Those three, I suppose. I’ll make them heavily involved with me as well, just as they’ve done with me.)
As Vandalieu was thinking this strange revenge, the next person needing armor fitting came forward.
It was Basdia.
「Basdia? Is it tight somewhere?」
Vandalieu had been told to drop the honorifics now that he was King, so he omitted the “san” and Basdia replied with a casual「Yeah.」
He had thought that the women’s armor wouldn’t need adjustment, as Ghoul women had identical body shapes to humans.
「My chest is a little... no, very tight.」
「... Now that you mention it, most of the armor was designed for men.」
He realized that he needed to adjust everyone’s armor after all.
『The levels of the【Golem Transmutation】,【Surpass Limits】and【Status Effect Resistance】skills have increased!』
Titles are acquired when an influential individual and many other people recognize you as bearing that title. It is also known as a Written Name, Alias or Degree.
The effects of a Title depends on the reason the Title has been bestowed on the individual and the meaning of the Title, granting new related skills or increasing the levels of existing ones and strengthening their effects.
This Title increases the effects of the【Strengthen Followers】and【Death-Attribute Charm】skills on Ghouls. Also, it increases the level of the【Strengthen Followers】skill and treats the value of the number of Ghouls under its influence as double when calculating other effects.
This skill increases the attribute values of individuals belonging to a race under the skill bearer’s influence. It also has the effect of increasing fertility and the rate at which the offspring of affected individuals develop.
This skill’s level increases as the number of followers increases. The skill is level 1 below a hundred followers, level 2 at two hundred followers and level 3 at five hundred followers.
The humans, elves and dwarves that are designated as people in the Amid Empire cannot acquire this skill, but the new races created by Vida can acquire it in rare cases. However, the majority of creatures that possess this skill are monsters such as Goblin Kings.