The female adventurer who surrendered to the Orcs without resistance was bound with vines instead of rope and taken away.
The young Noble Orc had a vulgar smile on his face, pulling on the end of the vine as if she were his pet dog. The monsters following his command were also laughing.
They were likely happy because while this woman acted as a plaything for their master, their master’s mood would be improved.
And so the female adventurer was dragged along by the Noble Orc and taken into the Orc Kingdom that his father had established.
Even though she would soon be forced to start giving birth to monsters until she died, the female adventurer had no expression on her face. However, nobody noticed this, even the Noble Orc himself.
It was impossible for monsters to read the detailed facial expressions of humans, and the Noble Orc had no interest at all in the woman’s facial expression to begin with.
An oval-faced man sat deeply in his chair with his eyes closed, looking as if he was sleeping. Suddenly, his eyelids flew open and he pressed a handkerchief to his mouth.
「Oh, how repulsive...」
The bloody-smelling breath of Orcs, the laughter of Goblins, the cunning Kobolds. To top it all off, the pigs who were under the impression that they were high-class creatures. And, of course, the women who were being treated like cattle, unable to die even if they wanted to.
The man had been prepared to see this; he had known what he was being requested to do. Even so, he struggled to contain his nausea.
「Are you alright, Luciliano-dono?」
「N-nothing to worry about. Uegh... More importantly, steward-dono, please call for the viscount. I have something to report.」
「Certainly; I will summon the master. I am terribly sorry, but please wait while I do so, Luciliano-dono.」
The butler, who apparently had happened to come by to check up on things, made a cup of fragrant black tea before leaving the room. It was likely an act of consideration, offering Luciliano some tea to ease his nausea while waiting for the master.
With the wonderful aroma of the black tea filling his nostrils, Luciliano felt the disgusting scenery that had been burned into his mind start to fade away. He was careful not to forget it, however, as it was his job to remember it.
「Your reconnaissance succeeded?!」
Shouting loudly about this top-secret request, a handlebar mustache entered the room. No, a nobleman with a handlebar mustache entered the room. Quickly putting his cup down, Luciliano gave the nobleman a bow.
「I will now report, Viscount Berno Balchesse.」
This nobleman, Viscount Berno Balchesse, was the lord of this region and the one who had hired Luciliano.
He appeared to be a smart nobleman in the prime years of his life with no outstanding characteristics other than his magnificent handlebar mustache; he was not an incompetent man. He was your typical nobleman.
「My Live-Dead has safely infiltrated the Orc village.」
Live-Dead. This is a special kind of Undead... no, a creature classified as an Undead, created using life-attribute magic.
It is created by casting a spell on a fresh corpse whose heartbeat and respiration have only just stopped, restarting its biological functions.
Though its heart and lungs move, it is classified as an Undead because it does not have a soul, but it looks no different from a living creature. It is warm to the touch and one can detect signs of life from it using magic. It does appear to be an expressionless, flat-toned person, however.
Its only drawback is that the spell is directly granting life to the body, so it still requires food and sleep. Also, unlike Undead, it is affected by poison and illness.
Viscount Balchesse had hired Luciliano to use this Live-Dead as a familiar and borrow its five senses to confirm whether the rumors were true or not.
The rumors that were drifting among the adventurers... The rumors of a powerful monster haunting the forest-like Devil’s Nest that was further away from the town.
For some time, adventurers venturing to the distant forest-like Devil’s Nest hadn’t been coming back. At first, these were dismissed as being due to the adventurers being unskilled, but a Thief acting solo had witnessed something terrifying. A Noble Orc leading Orcs, Goblins and Kobolds.
In many cases, the intelligent Noble Orcs who were a higher race of Orcs were capable of organizing groups of monsters, and there were several hundred of them around the world.
Luciliano’s job was to determine whether the monster that the Thief saw was really a Noble Orc, and if it was, he was to also find out how many monsters the Noble Orc commanded.
「The Live-Dead I am controlling has been captured by a medium-sized company led by a Noble Orc and has been taken to their village. The location is about three days’ journey from the edge of the Devil’s Nest.」
「So, how many Noble Orcs are there?! How big is their group?!」
「So far I have confirmed that there are at least two Noble Orcs, the one in command of the medium-sized company and one that is the king of the village. However, it seemed that there are one or two more. I believe the total monster count is around four hundred or five hundred.」
「Three Noble Orcs, and five hundred monsters...!」
Viscount Balchesse looked as if he was about to faint after hearing Luciliano’s report. Noble Orcs were Rank 6 monsters at minimum, and individually superior Noble Orcs were even said to be capable of slaying Dragons. There were at least two of these, possibly four or even more. With five hundred monsters under their command, even if Balchesse mobilized all of the forces in his territory... The knights, city guards and even the active adventurers in the region, defeat was the only imaginable outcome.
「However, I believe that the Noble Orcs, including the king, are not superior individuals. Ah, of course, I mean in comparison to other Noble Orcs. If you would allow me to express my personal opinion, I would think that the situation could be dealt with if you were to gather around two hundred C and D-class adventurers with a B-class adventurer in command.」
As Viscount Balchesse heard these words, blood returned to his face that had been as pale as a sheet of paper. However, a moment later, he gave a sigh.
「Even if that is the case, this is a serious matter. I must gather two hundred adventurers as well as a first-rate adventurer of B-class or higher. I am uncertain how well knights and soldiers can fight against monsters... It is beyond my capabilities to deal with this on my own. I must consult Marshal Palpapek.」
As a ruler, Balchesse had the power to request help from those in higher positions in situations that he couldn’t deal with on his own. If he allowed his pride to get in the way, tried to deal with this problem on his own and then failed, he would not only be disgraced, but his entire territory would be overrun by monsters.
In that regard, Viscount Balchesse was a nobleman living up to his handlebar mustache.
「The Noble Orcs are apparently planning to move when summer comes. It seems that there is a group of monsters in the Devil’s Nest that is not under their command, so they are acting to deal with that first. Those monsters are Ghouls, I presume.」
「So we have some time. Good work, Luciliano. I will pay the fee for your services to the Adventurers’ Guild, but I request that you still keep this situation a secret. It would cause a panic among the people.」
「Thank you very much.」
Luciliano felt relieved, having finally earned some traveling expenses. He had been saving money for a long time to escape the Amid Empire and its nations, where the Church of Alda’s influence was strong and the use of Undead was restricted.
He had decided to head to the neighboring Kingdom of Orbaume, and then find a comfortable city to live in.
「Well then, you will accept my next request, won’t you?」
However, Viscount Balchesse’s words postponed his plans.
Around the beginning of February, Vandalieu organized the surviving Ghouls of the Devil’s Nest into an army to fight against the Noble Orcs.
Normally, a King would be in a heavily-defended stronghold, but Vandalieu had personally visited the other Ghoul villages to convince them to work with him.
The reason for that was to use the effects of the【Death-Attribute Charm】to gather the Ghouls smoothly, but...
「I wonder if I’m just some kind of handyman with the Title of King.」
「That’s not true, King. By the way, our numbers have increased, so please build us some new houses, King.」
Vandalieu used the【Golem Transmutation】skill to have Wood Golems change their shape and build pit dwellings. He lacked the knowledge to build proper houses, but he had lived in pit dwellings for over a year, so he was familiar enough with them to build them.
The materials moved on their own to the places that he commanded them to and changed into the shape that he needed them to, so this method of construction using Golems was very easy. As long as he had the materials, it took him less than ten minutes to build a single pit dwelling.
「Oh, amazing! Ten more houses, please!」
「King, we’re expanding the village so please build some outer walls as well.」
He turned felled trees into Wood Golems and changed their shape to turn them into lumber. He turned the dirt on the ground’s surface into an Earth Golem and made it move back to create holes, then began building the pit dwellings. As long as they were all in his field of vision, he could build ten pit dwellings simultaneously.
Would Vandalieu be able to make a living doing this in the Orbaume Kingdom? He didn’t know whether that country actually needed pit dwellings, but he was relaxed enough to wonder about these things.
After finishing building the ten pit dwellings, he began to work on the outer walls. This was even easier than building homes for the Ghouls. All he had to do was build sturdy walls.
He just needed to give the command and the walls built themselves, so it was finished in only a few minutes.
「That’s our King!」
『King, King, King!』
The Ghouls raised their fists in the air and began chanting for their King. Ghouls were a fundamentally lazy race, so they didn’t hold back as they praised Vandalieu who was able to quickly complete all of the difficult work.
It didn’t seem like they were interested in following his example, however.
「He~ey, Van. Mother is calling for you.」
「Alright. Well then, I’m leaving the rest to you.
Vandalieu gave a short bow before leaving. As the Ghouls no longer had to do any hard labor thanks to him, they continued praising him for a while longer.
The Ghouls had absorbed four villages including Tarea’s village, and they now had over two hundred and seventy members. Half of them were women, and though they were few, there were some elderly individuals as well. However, Ghouls were a race whose members made excellent warriors up until they were nearly three hundred years old, regardless of gender.
The strongest Ghouls in these villages were Rank 4 Ghoul Warriors, and there weren’t any strong Rank 5 or higher Ghouls like Vigaro and Zadiris, but thanks to Tarea, they were all fully equipped.
Armor made of Iron Turtle shells, possessing the defensive capabilities of full plate armor while being nowhere near as heavy.
A spear with the horn of a Lance Bull as its tip, capable of piercing through iron armor.
Even D-class adventurers wouldn’t be this well-equipped. Though not all of their equipment were Magic Items, the combat capabilities of the Ghouls couldn’t be judged by their Rank.
Humans are physically weaker than monsters and don’t possess special abilities like monsters do. To defeat monsters, they rely on three major components. Those are their coordination with each other, their skills and their equipment. The Ghouls had obtained the last of these components.
However, there was also something that they were lacking.
「What do you mean, you can’t fight properly at your age? Have you really lived ten times longer than me?」
「What about it? I have used my ability to smith equipment and the weapon a woman is born with to rise to this position in the world. A little girl who has never even given birth to a child should just stay quiet.」
Basdia and Tarea glared at each other. One was a 190cm-tall female warrior in her mid-twenties, while the other was a small Ghoul who appeared to be in her late teenage years. In reality, one was a twenty-six-year-old young woman while the other was a two-hundred-and-seventy-year-old female leader who had lived an incredible life.
For some reason, these two didn’t get along.
But the reality was that Tarea and the women of her village didn’t know techniques for fighting. They could not even use the magic that they were supposed to have an aptitude for other than the spells that they used in their everyday lives, let alone combat-related skills. It was difficult to imagine that they would be useful in battle.
However, thanks to Tarea, they were a group of capable workers befitting of the Ghoul race. Though their skills weren’t at Tarea’s level, each of them were more than fully qualified as smiths and even now, they were creating more equipment for the warriors to use.
「V-Van will give me a baby!」
「Van-sama will, to this little girl?! Is that true, Van-sama?!」
「... It’s true, though not in the way that you’re imagining.」
They were referring to how Vandalieu would deal with the problem of low Ghoul fertility. But Vandalieu looked into the distance, wondering why these two were so hostile towards each other.
「You’re being over-familiar with Van.」
「You are the one who is over-familiar with him, not even adding -sama to his name.」
They glared at each other with sharp looks. The loud grinding of their fangs was particularly Ghoul-like.
The two of them had been on bad terms with each other ever since Vandalieu brought Tarea back with him.
In order to curry favor with the Ghoul King immediately, Tarea had stepped on board the carriage, saying,「I have things to discuss with you regarding the upcoming battle.」And when Vandalieu took his afternoon nap, she had held Vandalieu in her arms until they arrived back in the village.
As Basdia came out to welcome him back, she saw this and got into an argument... and now things were like this.
No, Vandalieu had a good idea of what was causing this. But he couldn’t understand why Basdia was so angry with Tarea, considering that Ghouls had no concept of marriage. Even if she felt as if her younger brother whom she was close with was being taken away, he couldn’t imagine that she would act and speak the way she was doing now. And why were the two of them competing so seriously over a two-year-old in the first place?
「How about acting your age for once?」
「Oh my, I apologize. Perhaps because I was originally a human, I act as if my age was the same as my physical age without thinking. I am jealous of you, since you have grown so old.」
「... All things considered, they’re quite saggy.」
「S-saggy?! You are mistaken! They are not sagging, they are simply large!」
「Really? Mine don’t hang downwards at all, though.」
Tarea lost her composure and began protesting angrily, and Basdia simply looked down at her calmly. Both of them were owners of plentiful busts, and in fact, Basdia’s breasts were like cannonballs that projected forwards, showing no signs of sagging.
「You don’t know? Van likes muscles.」
「Well, more than liking them, I admire them.」
Muscles were power, and those with power were strong. In other words, if Vandalieu could get muscles, he could graduate from being one of the people who were trampled over by others. Ah, how wonderful muscles were.
Whether they could hear Vandalieu whispering such thoughts to himself or not, Basdia and Tarea continued their quarreling. As Vandalieu watched Tarea shouting while Basdia dealt with her calmly, he could only imagine a future where the wisdom of her years would be defeated by the youngster. However, as Tarea refused to give up, that future was still distant.
The future where they would have a constructive discussion about how to deal with the Noble Orcs, when would that come?
「What can I do to make them stop?」
Though Vandalieu asked himself this question, Zadiris was whispering,「Try putting yourself in my position, where you have neither muscles nor breasts.」Meanwhile, Vigaro was deep in thought with his arms folded... or at least, he appeared to be. As the chiefs of the other villages were lower than Tarea in the hierarchy, they seemed to be reluctant to say anything.
『You should stop them here, Bocchan.』
Sam was unable to leave the carriage that was his body, so Saria was here in this place, saying these words to him.
『You wish to become a nobleman, do you not, Bocchan? Then you must be able to do at least this much.』
「... I think the image of a nobleman that I have in my mind is going to go through a lot of changes.」
『Noblemen struggle with relationships with women. It was no different in the noble family that we worked for.』
The conflict between a wife and a mistress was apparently a sight to behold. This topic reminded Vandalieu of the stories he had heard when he was living in Japan about the Edo Castle’s inner chambers during the Edo period*.
Neither Basdia nor Tarea were his wife or mistress, but him being the cause of their conflict was a fact. Vandalieu knew that he should be the one to stop them, so he stood up.
「Hmph! I will settle this after one of the weapons that I created takes the Noble Orc’s head off!」
「Yeah, after I use your weapon to do it.」
Why did they finish their argument just as he stood up?
「Well then, I want to build a plan to defeat the Noble Orcs now.」
Vandalieu was almost satisfied with just being able to say that without trembling.
Their current military forces were represented by around two hundred and thirty Ghouls and Vandalieu himself. Between the Magic Items that Vandalieu had distributed and the equipment that Tarea had created, they were all fully equipped.
They were at a disadvantage in terms of numbers, but their equipment was clearly superior to that of the Noble Orcs’ troops. No matter how many Orcs, Goblins and Kobolds the Noble Orcs gathered, their subordinates wouldn’t become any smarter, so their equipment would only be a little superior to other groups of monsters.
But they were unsure whether that alone could counteract the difference in numbers and strength.
In regards to numbers, Vandalieu thought to mass-produce Golems and Undead, but as this was a forest, rocks to use to create the Stone Golems and Rock Golems that would be able to fight against Orcs were scarce, and so the idea of using Golems was rejected.
Undead created from the corpses and bones of monsters would be Rank 1, hardly of any use against Orcs, so Undead were also rejected.
There was also the option of creating more Living Armors, but using suits of armor to equip the Ghouls better was a more effective way to increase their strength, so that idea was also rejected.
It was a difficult situation.
「First of all, we are going to be the ones who attack them. I believe that this has already been decided.」
Everyone agreed with Vandalieu’s words. Since they were at a large disadvantage in numbers and the enemy was a little stronger than them as well, there was no other choice but to attack first.
The Orcs that represented most of the enemy’s strength were monsters with exceptional charging abilities and superhuman strength. Only humans who build strong fortresses would be able to defend against such enemies. The wooden walls surrounding the Ghoul village would only last seconds in a defending situation.
On the other hand, Orcs were also not suited to defending.
「We have already established where the enemy is positioned, and I have already finished scouting them through the eyes of my Undead insects. The map that I produced with great effort is here.」
Vandalieu couldn’t make out fine details through the composite eyes of insects, but they had been sufficient to figure out the layout of the buildings. The Ghouls stirred as they were presented with a map drawn by using dyes on an animal hide in place of paper.
「This is a map, huh?」
「What is this square?」
「You’re amazing, Van, you can even draw a map, huh?」
「Van-sama, Ghouls do not normally use maps... I believe more explanation is needed.」
「... But my hard work...」
He had lived here for almost two years so he had forgotten just how much of a culture difference there was between humans and Ghouls.
Thinking about how much time and effort he had put into drawing the map easily made him feel depressed. Vandalieu used【Golem Transmutation】to make an Earth Golem out of the ground surface inside the pit dwelling and create a model of the Noble Orcs’ village.
It was a satisfactory piece of work.
「Boy... If you had used this method from the beginning, perhaps you would not have had to put so much effort into creating a map?」
Vandalieu was quite depressed.
「Oh, this is amazing!」
「Is this earth-attribute magic?! But I’ve never seen someone with this level of fine control!」
「This is even more amazing, Van! It’s much easier to understand than the map!」
His audience even valued this higher. Vandalieu decided in his mind that from now on, he would simply make models like this instead of going through the bothersome process of drawing a map.
「Putting that aside, the enemy village has outer walls made of logs and two entrances, one to the west and one to the east. There are four watchtowers, one each at the north, south, east and west. However, they are manned by Goblins or Kobolds.」
「Orcs have heavy bodies. It’s unlikely that they would enjoy climbing the towers.」
The average Orc was about two meters tall. Their body weight easily exceeded a hundred kilograms, and their weapons and armor would only add to that. Rather than them wanting to avoid climbing the towers, it was possible that they were unable to build towers that could support their weight in the first place.
「All of their buildings are generally made of wood. However, we should try to avoid using fire as much as we can.」
「Indeed; if a fire were to start, the captive women would burn to death as well.」
In the Orc village, there were over a hundred female Ghouls and over a dozen female adventurers held captive and being used as playthings. For the Orcs, they were precious mothers for their children, but it was difficult to imagine that the Orcs would risk their lives in battle in order to save them.
「They could even be used as hostages.」
「Yeah, that sounds likely.」
None of the people that Vandalieu had rescued so far had been used as hostages. That was because Bone Man and the other Undead were at the forefront of the fighting and the enemies had thought that hostages would be meaningless against the Undead, however.
In this battle, Vigaro and the other Ghouls would make up the main fighting force, so of course the Orcs would think of using the captive women as hostages.
「Therefore, our first objective is to secure the buildings here, here and here.」
They decided on rescuing the captive Ghoul women. Many of the Ghouls’ spirits were begging Vandalieu to do so, and even Zadiris and the other Ghouls had decided that they should rescue them during the attack, so no objections arose.
「What are you planning to do with the human women?」
「We will rescue them, too. As for what to do with them afterwards, let’s decide after we rescue them.」
Vandalieu gave this reply to Vigaro’s question. Even though they were being held captive, the female adventurers were enemies to both Vandalieu and the Ghouls. There was no guarantee that they would feel grateful for being rescued; from their point of view, they might think that the situation hadn’t changed than that their masters were now Ghouls instead of Orcs.
In fact, there was the possibility that they would run away in the confusion of battle, or in the worst case, even attack the Ghouls, but this was unlikely. There was no way that the Orcs were behaving in a gentlemanly way towards the women; they would be physically and mentally worn down and thus unlikely to be able to move very well.
Vandalieu also wanted to save them if possible because he wanted to give the cheaters reincarnating here in the future as few excuses to attack him as possible.
「Well then, on Vandalieu’s signal, we’ll charge in and then secure the women. After that, we’ll kill the enemies until they start running away. This is fine, right?」
「In the end, they’re just a group of monsters being ruled through fear. If we kill enough Orcs, the Goblins and Kobolds should start to flee.」
「The only race that Noble Orcs command absolute obedience over is the Orc race, isn’t it?」
Leaders of monster groups generally ruled through fear. If presented with a greater fear than the fear of the ruler, the group of monsters would collapse.
Orcs would obey the Noble Orcs that were their superior race, but the Ghouls needed them to stay where they were. If they quickly ran away and built another large village in a few years’ time, there would be no end to this cycle.
「And I think we should defeat the problematic Noble Orcs, with Vandalieu’s support.」
Vigaro, the most combat-capable individual present here, suspected that he could fight evenly against a Noble Orc one or two Ranks higher than himself if he had Vandalieu’s support.
「Until the Noble Orc that rules the village comes out, I will leave Vigaro and Zadiris in command. We will be conducting hit-and-run attacks.」
「I think it is questionable for a King to be conducting hit-and-run attacks, but that is indeed the most effective way to make use of your abilities, boy. However, you must prepare Undead for scouting as well as a way to communicate with the rest of us. None of us can hear the words of the Undead insects or the spirits other than you, boy.」
Vandalieu had been inaugurated as Ghoul King, but as he had said when he first accepted the Title, he didn’t have the ability to command others in a group battle. For that reason, he planned to ignore his Title of King and simply conduct hit-and-run attacks during this battle.
「Be careful, Van. Your life doesn’t belong to just you.」
「Yes, in regards to the Ghoul children, my life is more than just my own. I still have more things that I want to do as well, so I will take care.」
Vandalieu had to learn the【Alchemy】skill and solve the Ghouls’ birth rate problem. After that, he wanted to try making walnut miso and acorn miso, and he wanted to create a Magic Item that cast the【Maturation】spell, and a refrigerator that used the【Demon Light】spell before he departed for the Orbaume Kingdom as well.
There were a lot of things that he wanted to do for the Ghouls, and there were also many reasons that the Noble Orcs needed to be killed. He had to be careful and not take any risks.
On top of that, he had to revive Darcia and achieve his revenge. There was no shortage of reasons that he couldn’t die here.
「Well then, let’s leave in three days from now.」
Several insects flapped their wings loudly, flying further and further west.
There were Undead rhinoceros beetles, flies, dragonflies and ladybirds. Some of the insects among them were natural predators of the others, but they paid no attention to this as they continued flying.
These were the Undead insects that Vandalieu had released just in case.
Their mission was to find another Devil’s Nest, for the very unlikely event that the Ghouls decided that they should run away. And their other purpose was to discover what was along the way, as Vandalieu would one day make the journey to cross the western mountain range.
Day and night, the insects flew on. Some were lost to birds and others to living insects, but still they continued. Crossing cliffs with rocks as sharp as blades and hills where terrifying carnivorous plants grew freely, they flew on and on.
And then the insects stopped a little past the mountain range, at a section of an enormous stone wall. It was so large that one might have thought that it was part of the mountain range itself, but there were cracks in its surface here and there, and parts of it had crumbled away. The insects flew near the wall's surroundings, investigating it, and then finally attached themselves onto it.
They had completed their mission. Now they were to wait here for their master to contact them. They would remain here until then.