This mountain range... Apparently, its official name was the Boundary Mountain Range. It wasn’t the boundary between the Amid Empire and Orbaume Kingdom, but supposedly the boundary between the world of humans and the world of monsters. For this reason, the mountain range was mostly unexplored land and there were Devil’s Nests all over it. Passing through it with these numbers would cause monsters to assume they were prey and attack.
However, since Vandalieu and the Ghouls were avoiding the Devil’s Nests and building their own road through, the monsters that attacked them were the weakest ones living on the edges of the Devil’s Nests.
「I defeated a wolf that looked like a hedgehog!」(Vigaro)
「I have never seen that monster before, have I? I wonder if it is tasty?」(Tarea)
「Looks delicious, looks delicious!」(Basdia)
In addition to that, they were monsters so unintelligent that they didn’t understand how dangerous it was to attack a pack of hundreds of Ghouls, so they were killed immediately and offered their meat to use as food and fur to use to make more cold-weather clothing.
Their stores of Orc meat had decreased considerably recently, so this was very welcome.
However, there were still times when large monsters attacked.
「It’s a flock of Wyverns!」
Today, a flock of Wyverns was attacking them from the sky. These creatures whose front limbs were also their wings were the lowest form of Dragon-type monsters and were less intelligent than other Dragons. Scholars in this world were disputing over whether they should be classified as demi-Dragons.
They didn’t breathe fire or use magic, but they were Rank 5 monsters that were exceptionally adept at maneuvering through the air with sharp fangs and claws that were just as dangerous as they looked.
If their flight could be prevented, they would be about as strong as a Rank 4 monster, but this was a mountain range at an (estimated) altitude of over two thousand meters. No matter how one looked at it, the Wyverns had the terrain advantage.
Despite them being unintelligent compared to other Dragons, they were plenty intelligent compared to animals. They gathered together and attacked in large numbers and aimed for the back of the line of carriages and other places where the defense seemed thinnest, so they were quite problematic.
There were five Wyverns in the flock today. It was quite a troublesome number to deal with.
As a command came out in the Ghouls’ battle language, the warriors simultaneously fired their arrows while the women released various spells.
But since the Ghouls had been living in a forest and their prey had been creatures that would approach to try and eat them, their proficiency with long-ranged attacks was relatively low.
There were quite a number of Ghouls with the【Archery】skill, including Basdia, but their levels with this skill wasn’t very high.
The one they could rely on at times like this was Bone Bird, who had become a Rank 4 Specter Bird.
Since Bone Bird had reached Rank 4 and was strengthened by the【Strengthen Followers】skill, even the Wyverns couldn’t let their guard down against it. As if instinctively sensing this, two of the five Wyverns flew towards Bone Bird. They had decided to commit two Wyverns of the flock to quickly take it down, rather than simply keep it busy with one Wyvern.
Preventing Bone Bird’s movements would remove its biggest strength, its mobility, so the Wyverns had made the correct decision.
As the transparent『Lemures』vanished, they released their powerful bloodthirst.
The Wyverns were thrown into confusion by the bloodthirst that attacked their natural instincts. Three of them turned their bodies around to try and get away, while the movement of the other two faltered.
「Aim at those two!」
A flood of arrows and spells assaulted the two Wyverns. With their movements slowed, they were simply practice targets, and their scales weren’t hard enough to block the spells and the arrows fired with the Ghouls’ Superhuman Strength.
The three Wyverns had chosen to escape and defenselessly turned their backs towards Bone Bird. Bone Bird fired spirit feathers at one of them and mangled its neck with its talons.
Three Wyverns fell onto the mountain’s surface while the other two fled in a hurry. Vandalieu raised his hand towards the two that were escaping, but then lowered his hand again without doing anything.
「You have to save your Mana, Van, so helping us with your Lemures is enough.」(Basdia)
『This great journey will become difficult if you were to collapse, Bocchan. Please take care of yourself.』(Sam)
「Yeah, I know.」(Vandalieu)
Vandalieu had been thinking of testing whether he could use death-attribute Mana to erase the lift force that the Wyverns needed to fly. But since he was responsible for making the roads, if he were to collapse from running out of Mana, the Ghouls would have to stop moving while he recovered. If a landslide or something occurred in such a situation, it would be a huge problem. And so Vandalieu had to pay much more attention to his Mana pool than usual while they were crossing this mountain range.
Even Vandalieu’s Mana pool of 110,000,000 Mana wasn’t enough to face the entirety of nature.
「And I think that’s plenty of meat.」
As the young Ghoul woman who had poked her head out from a carriage said, the three Wyverns would provide enough nourishment to keep the Ghouls’ hunger and fatigue at bay for today. Though they were the lowest class of Dragons, they were still Dragons, so their meat was delicious and nourishing. Their organs could be used as materials for Alchemy, but they were nutritious to eat as well.
In addition, their scales, bones and wing membranes could be used as materials to make armor, while their fangs and claws could be turned into weapons.
「But to defeat three Wyverns out of five... If you took these to the Adventurers’ Guild, you could live in luxury for a while.」(Kachia)
「Could you defeat them, Kachia-san?」(Vandalieu)
「No way. I wouldn’t even want to fight one of them.」(Kachia)
Kachia shook her head as she spoke. She had been a female adventurer that Bubobio had captured and turned into his private property, but now she was a Ghoul. Noble Orcs were individually stronger than normal Orcs, but they weren’t as fertile, so she had been rescued by Basdia’s group of Ghouls before becoming pregnant and then undergone the Ghoul transformation ritual.
「The Guild considers us dead and I’d much rather be a Ghoul than treated as a woman that monsters used as their plaything. I don’t even have a family, anyway.」(Kachia)
Back then, she had been mentally broken, but she had recently recovered enough to say such things. But it seemed that she still feared men to some degree, so she was riding in Sam’s carriage.
Since Vandalieu was a child and Sam was an Undead, they were apparently fine for her.
They stopped to dissect the Wyverns’ bodies and Vandalieu set Bone Bird and Lemures in the sky to keep watch.
The fact that they were under such dangerous attacks at least once a day showed just how harsh crossing this mountain range was. Normal adventurers wouldn’t have lasted more than a few days.
If it weren’t for Vandalieu’s abnormal amount of Mana and the【Status Effect Resistance】skill that prevented him from being affected by altitude sickness, he wouldn’t have lasted very long either.
But monster attacks were also an opportunity to obtain fresh food.
The next problem was more complicated.
With the carriages stopped, a black Goblin child tried to take tottering steps to get down from the carriage, but instead fell onto the ground and burst into tears. Surprised by that, a black Kobold child burst into tears as well.
「Ah, hey, you can’t get out of the carriage.」
「What is it? Are you hungry? You’re such a greedy child, aren’t you?」
Two Ghoul women each picked up one of these children and began to breast-feed them. They were this Goblin and Kobold’s mothers.
Many of the Ghoul women Vandalieu had rescued from the Noble Orcs’ village had been pregnant. Well, that was the purpose that they had been held captive for, so it was only to be expected.
Vandalieu had indirectly suggested that it would be possible for him to use death-attribute magic to cause abortions for them, but the mothers had rejected his offer.
「If we care for them from the time they are born, they will grow up to obey us.」(Zadiris)
Apparently that’s how it was. If times were peaceful, they wouldn’t have gone so far as to use their own wombs to raise Goblin and Orc children, but in this time of crisis, they apparently declined abortion to increase their numbers as much as possible.
Because the villages of the Ghoul women that had been held captive had their men wiped out, they had to compensate for the loss in working force.
Incidentally, all of the Goblins, Kobolds and Orc children were born with black skin and fur. Goblins normally had green skin and Orcs had a light pink tone. Kobolds normally had black fur sometimes, but all of them being black was unusual.
Vandalieu guessed that his Mana was the cause of that.
Thinking that it would be bad if the fetuses that the Ghoul women had decided to give birth to were affected by the Ghouls’ departure from the Devil’s Nest, he used【Mana Transfer】to transfer his thick Mana to the pregnant women and their unborn children.
As a result, the fetuses developed at the same quick pace as they would have done in the Devil’s Nest and were born healthy. Though they were black, for some reason.
It wasn’t a bad thing, and nobody intended to complain that they were ominous or anything. But just in case, he examined them with【Appraisal】to find –
【Black Goblin Baby】
These were the names displayed for the Goblin, Kobold and Orc babies.
For some reason, they were new races.
「I wonder what this means? Tell me please, Darwin-sensei.」(Vandalieu)
「Who is that, Van? Was it one of the horrible researchers in that world called Origin?」(Basdia)
「No, it was a very famous person in the history of another world.」(Vandalieu)
Vandalieu, who had inadvertently created new races of monsters, looked up at the heavens with a distant gaze, but he was likely looking to the wrong person to answer his question.
「Well, it is alright, is it not? They seem cleverer than normal Goblins, stronger than normal Kobolds and more well-behaved than normal Orcs.」(Zadiris)
「Don’t worry about it, those children just need to be trained by the men. That’s how it was for me, too.」(Vigaro)
「Yeah, I’ve only been trained by Vigaro as well.」(Basdia)
Zadiris didn’t seem deeply concerned with the birth of the new races, while Vigaro and Basdia told Vandalieu about the relationship that Ghoul men had with children.
Well, even if Vandalieu were to be concerned about it now, it was too late. He had already shared his Mana with all of the pregnant women.
『That reminds me, I used to give you milk like that too. You would be reserved at first, but then you would start drinking it in a daze...』
「H-hello, anyone? He suddenly seems to be in agony!」(Kachia)
『It is fine; Darcia-sama was just reminiscing of the times when used to breast-feed him. Hearing that is what is causing Bocchan his agony.』(Saria)
『Bocchan, you’re still a child so there’s nothing to be embarrassed about. Please have some more confidence.』(Rita)
As Kachia couldn’t see Darcia, she was naturally surprised to see Vandalieu silently agonizing over something. But this was just a regular scene for Saria and Rita.
Even Zadiris and the other Ghouls who couldn’t see Darcia weren’t surprised at this point.
The problem of the rush of babies was that Darcia would reminisce of the past, causing Vandalieu to suffer in embarrassment!
But this rush of babies would soon be over. Monsters reproduced quickly; the women who had been held captive would give birth to the last of the children soon. Monster children developed quickly, so they would stop being breast-fed a month after that.
「Vandalieu, if the child in my belly is a boy, can I really name him after you? There are two pairs of dakuten* in your name, so it’d be perfect as a lucky charm.」(Bilde)
As Vandalieu could tell from looking at the large abdomen of Bilde, who had been pregnant for seven months, she and the nine other Ghouls pregnant with Ghoul children would be giving birth soon.
Incidentally, Ghouls apparently developed at the same pace as humans.
「If I solve the birth rate of Ghoul children, I’ll be dealing with this for years more to come...」(Vandalieu)
As a spirit, Darcia’s memories were a little broken so some things caused her to repeat the same words over and over again. As Vandalieu wondered if he simply had to get used to this, his eyes became distant again.
And the last problem was taking care of the Ghouls whose physical conditions had deteriorated from having left the Devil’s Nest. They were paying attention to make sure that nobody was becoming sick. Tarea had become particularly weak.
「Uu, I am terribly sorry, Van-sama.」(Tarea)
Tarea had aged to the point that Vandalieu felt the urge to answer with,「You promised not to say that, otottsuan.*」
She had been healthy while living in the Devil’s Nest. She had even been excited about the migration, but when they left the Devil’s Nest, her body and mind had both grown weaker.
「How pitiful, show a little more spirit, will you?」(Zadiris)
「Kuh, it is just unnatural for you to be so healthy when you have aged even more than me.」(Tarea)
It seemed that her old age was indeed the cause of this. However, Vandalieu had used【Youth Transformation】to revert Zadiris’s physical age to match her mid-teen physical appearance. Since Ghouls had the unique characteristic of not aging after pregnancy, nobody had noticed this, however.
「*Cough cough*, we were even able to obtain Wyvern materials, but I am in no condition to use them. When I was a human, I touched them once; they are materials that I yearned to use.」(Tarea)
「Once we arrive at the new Devil’s Nest, you’ll become healthy and be able to make equipment again.」(Vandalieu)
Vandalieu patted Tarea’s back and comforted her while checking to see if he could see the shadow of death. When her time came close, he intended to use【Youth Transformation】on her as well.
Having strange rumors float around would be a cheap price to have Tarea regain her health.
「Thank you very much, Van-sama. But instead of worrying only about me, you also have to take care of that girl.」
Tarea pointed at the Live-Dead that was lying down nearby. The Live-Dead that Luciliano had abandoned showed no signs of movement other than its heartbeat and breathing; since it was just like a living corpse, it needed someone to take care of it.
The Live-Dead was an Undead in the sense that it didn’t have a soul. But since its body was living, it would starve to death if it didn’t eat, become sick if left in unsanitary conditions and develop bedsores if left lying in the same position for too long.
Even though it didn’t have a soul, treating it like that wouldn’t be pleasant to see and might even have negative effects on the unborn child.
The Live-Dead had been made pregnant by the Noble Orc Bugogan and Vandalieu had thinned out the monster genes and had the spirit of the woman whose corpse had been used to make the Live-Dead possess that fetus. That fetus was now developing inside the Live-Dead.
It was only the second month of pregnancy, but there was already a small bulge in the Live-Dead’s abdomen, perhaps due to what was left of the Noble Orc’s genes.
「... Well, taking the Wyverns apart will probably take a while, anyway.」(Vandalieu)
Vandalieu pulled the Live-Dead next to Tarea along with the entire rug that it was lying on. Kachia silently wondered how those thin arms and legs were so strong, but he also possessed the【Superhuman Strength】skill. Since his physical strength already exceeded that of an adult man, there was no need to use magic for a task like this.
Since everyone else around were Ghouls who had been born with the【Superhuman Strength】skill and Undead, Kachia was the only one to be surprised by this, as she had been a human until two months ago.
「What shall we talk about today... Oh yeah, let’s talk about what we’re going to do at the Devil’s Nest we’re going to.」
Taking no notice of Kachia’s feelings of surprise, Vandalieu began talking to the Live-Dead, or more accurately, to its abdomen.
In a television program on Earth, he had seen that talking to unborn children was good prenatal care. If he remembered correctly, it was a documentary about how geniuses were born.
Though Vandalieu’s uncle had banned luxuries from Vandalieu to a bizarre extent, he was surprisingly open-minded about things that he didn’t consider luxuries. Thanks to this, Vandalieu was able to watch television, though not often, and even access the internet... His uncle’s standards of what was a luxury and what wasn’t varied from day to day, so Vandalieu had to be cautious and didn’t feel a shred of gratitude towards his uncle for that, however.
When they arrived at the Devil’s Nest, they would repair parts of the ruined city, find beast monsters with delicious meat. If there were remains of an old public bathhouse then Vandalieu wanted to repair that too and soak his body in the baths, and next time he would definitely succeed at fermenting walnuts and acorns to make something close to miso. Vandalieu talked to the baby about these bright future prospects without mentioning the bitterness of his past lives. He accidentally let some of his knowledge from other worlds slip, causing Kachia to tilt her head in confusion at the mention of miso, but Vandalieu took no notice of it.
「When we are doing things like this, we really seem like a family, don’t we?」(Tarea)
「... What kind of family structure is this supposed to be?」(Kachia)
Tarea smiled as she spoke while Kachia questioned her words. It was easy to tell at a glance that all of them were of different races, but if one ignored that, then perhaps the scene could be imagined as the older sister (Tarea) and younger brother with a large age-gap (Vandalieu) looking after the pregnant mother (the Live-Dead).
「Muh, that Tarea, getting ahead of me and calling Van her family.」(Basdia)
「Hah, do not worry about it. I am sure she thinks she has become his grandmother.」(Zadiris)
「I can hear you, you know! Uu, Van-sama, I am being teased by Zadiris who is thirty years older than me~」(Tarea)
「Yes, yes, everyone is my family.」(Vandalieu)
And so the Ghouls’ journey across the mountain range went smoothly, thanks to Vandalieu’s skillful management of his Mana.
【You have acquired the Engineering skill!】
Half of the month of May had passed and it was now the time of year that people on Earth would have just finished enjoying Golden Week when Vandalieu and the Ghouls finally arrived in front of the Devil’s Nest ruins.
The Devil’s Nest ruins were in a basin between two mountain ranges, wide enough to take three journeys to cross by foot. It was easy to imagine that when people had lived here, there were crop fields expanding in all directions.
「It took us about three months to get here. To get to the Orbaume Kingdom, I’d have to cross another mountain range so let’s say it takes another three months... Even if the Mirg shield-nation hadn’t sent that extermination force, it might have taken me about a year.」(Vandalieu)
「No, I think it would have been even faster if you, Sam and the Undead were to travel alone.」(Basdia)
Vandalieu, who was now almost three years old, gave a sigh as he thought about how far away the Orbaume Kingdom was.
And then he got fired up again, knowing that this was where it really began.
From here on out, he would enter the Devil’s Nest ruins and work hard with everyone to make it a place that the Ghouls could live in.
Vandalieu looked up at the Devil’s Nest ruins that had a mysterious atmosphere to it that would strike fear in the hearts of novice adventurers.
There were tall stone ramparts that had once been sturdy, but now they were crumbling in places and eroded by the plant life. What had once been a town was visible beyond them, a tragic sight of countless ruined buildings.
And the white castle that was still towering into the sky somehow resembled a fleshless skeleton.
But what was even more ominous about it was that despite it being a ruin with nobody living there, there was a thick presence floating in the air. The stirring of trees could be heard despite there being no wind, and harsh cries echoed across the ruins.
It froze the spine to think that these noises weren’t necessary made by living things.
This Devil’s Nest definitely contained monsters that even Zadiris and Darcia wouldn’t know about. And some of those monsters might be of a high Rank.
Vandalieu had confirmed that there were a lot of Undead, but that didn’t mean that all of the monsters would be Undead. It was even possible that Dragons inhabited this place, and there might be dangerous Dungeons as well.
This was the place that the Ghouls had to build a village to live in and find a source of food and materials.
Vandalieu had used the Undead insects to survey the area, but there were a lot of things that he couldn’t see properly through the shared vision of the insects’ compound eyes and many of them had been unexpectedly crushed by monsters or mysteriously stopped responding to him.
From here, Vandalieu would have to use his own eyes and ears to challenge this dangerous, unknown world.
「I’ve started to get excited.」
This unknown adventure caused Vandalieu’s heart to throb not in fear, but excitement.
Since he had always lived in a limited world on Earth and in Origin, he felt excited every time he visited an unknown land. He didn’t like that they had only come here because they were running away from the extermination force, but that didn’t make the new world that expanded into the horizon before his eyes appear any duller.
「Well then... Let’s set up camp just a little outside the ruins.」(Vandalieu)
「Everyone, make preparations to set up camp!」(Zadiris)
「Station some lookouts! We’re close to a Devil’s Nest, so don’t let your guard down!」(Vigaro)
And so the Ghouls earnestly began their preparations to set up camp.
Because a new adventure was awaiting them, they had to make sure that their physical conditions and Mana were at their maximum.
Incidentally, after the rush of babies, the population of the group was closing in on six hundred.
Orcs were generally born one at a time, but Goblins and Kobolds were typically born in groups of three, and apparently that didn’t change even if they were born from the wombs of another race.
And so there were around fifty Black Goblins, a hundred Anubises and sixty Orcuses.
Their population now exceeded what Bugogan’s village had achieved.
「King, help me with my study.」
「King, King! I picked up a strange bone! I’m giving it to you!」
「Fugoh? King, did you get smaller?」
And perhaps because of the influence of the death-attribute mana that they had received before they were born, or perhaps simply because they learned from their parents, they were very attached to Vandalieu.
Vandalieu was happy about this, but...
「I wonder if a nobleman can be a Ghoul King on the side?」
Vandalieu whispered these words to himself as he looked up at the Orcus that was already larger than him at the age of two months.
These are a new race of Goblins created by having death-attribute mana applied to them before birth. Their base Rank is Rank 2.
Their abilities are greater than those of Goblins, and all of their attribute values are also higher. As they possess the【Dark Vision】,【Status Effect Resistance】and【Enhanced Agility】skills from birth, they can move around in complete darkness as if it were in the middle of the day, they are resistant to poison and illnesses and they are very fast.
They are smarter than regular Goblins, possessing intelligence equivalent to that of Kobolds, and if taught, any individual Black Goblin can learn martial skills and use weapons.
Normal Goblins have a lifespan just short of twenty years, while Black Goblins can live about twice as long.
Only their fertility and urge to breed are weaker than those of normal Goblins, possessing lower levels in the【Breeding】and【Endless Sexual Stamina】skills, and some do not even possess these skills at all. Black Goblin children also take longer to develop to maturity.
While normal Goblins living in a Devil’s Nest require only a month to reach adulthood, Black Goblins require six months.
They are physically a little larger than normal Goblins, and as their names suggest, they have black skin. They have pointed ears and slanted eyes like normal Goblins, but they have a somewhat more human-like appearance.
As this race has only just been born, it is unknown if there are any superior races of Black Goblins.
If one were to report the existence of Black Goblins to the Adventurers’ Guild with proof, they would be rewarded handsomely for reporting the existence of a new race of monsters, but that would be difficult at present.
【Status Effect Resistance】
This is a skill that provides resistance against not only poison, illnesses and curses, but also fatigue, stress, sleep, hunger, asphyxia, pain and any other condition that causes the skill’s owner to not be in peak form. However, it does not provide resistance against the effects of having expended too much Mana or wounds caused by taking damage.
Those with a high level in this skill can always be in peak form despite any negative effects they may be under. However, it does not nullify the negative effects, so there is a limit to this skill’s effect.
Those who possess this skill are Centaurs, Titans, Drakonids, Demons and others of the races created by Vida, so most who do possess it do so from birth.
After acquiring this skill, one can increase its level by experiencing things that affect his or her status.
However, it is difficult for one who does not possess this skill from birth to acquire it. The reason for this is that one would need to endure negative status effects for a certain amount of time.
According to the Adventurers’ Guild’s records, there are two ways to do this. One method is to come under the effects of poison and illness at the same time and endure that, and the other method is to acquire separate resistances for each and integrate them together to gain the Status Effect Resistance skill.
According to those records, there has never been a person who has survived the first method, and none have acquired the skill in less than ten years using the second method.
In addition, the effects of the【Mind Corruption】skill cannot be mitigated by this skill. This is because the status of one’s mind being corrupted is considered a normal status for that individual.