Talosheim’s total fighting strength was quite different now compared to the time when Vandalieu was just approaching his third birthday.
Vandalieu himself had grown strong, but more importantly, those around him had also grown stronger as a whole.
The only Ghouls remaining at Rank 3 were workers like Tarea and those of the newly-born generation. Most of the rest, including those like Bilde and Kachia, had become Rank 4 individuals with race titles such as Warriors, Grapplers, Archers and Little Mages.
Many had reached Rank 5, becoming Ghoul Barbarians, Ghoul Heavy Warriors and Ghoul Grappler Adepts.
They were developing incredibly quickly compared to regular Ghouls.
Though the Undead Titans had developed very little in the past two hundred years, they were now commuting to the Dungeons day and night, and most of them had at least increased their Ranks by 1. Braga and the others were also developing at a hectic pace.
In addition to them, the third city wall was a Stone Golem, and the Cemetery Bees had doubled in number. And though they could only be used in a defensive battle due to their limited mobility there were around a hundred Immortal Ents.
Those who could be called Vandalieu’s personal guard don’t even need to be mentioned.
There was one girl who raised her beloved mace, refusing to be overshadowed by the others.
“You can’t do that.”
“Even if you make that surprised face, you can’t,” Vandalieu said to Pauvina, who was holding a stone mace that he had made for her after she had pestered him.
“I-I’m not a kid anymore!”
“No, you’re only two years old.”
“You’re only five, Van, and you’re smaller than me!”
“… Age and body size isn’t the problem.”
Pauvina, now two years old, was far larger than Vandalieu when it came to body size. Not horizontally, but vertically.
Not only was she large, but she had high Attribute Values. Her abnormal Strength value in particular wasn’t something that an ordinary person could compete with. If someone were to have a serious arm wrestle with her, it was fairly likely that their bones would be broken or their hand would be crushed.
In regards to her strength, Vandalieu had sacrificed his own body to raise her, so it was apparent that she could do that without any problems.
“Then why can’t I?!” Pauvina demanded.
“Your skills,” replied Vandalieu. “You haven’t learned any yet, have you, Pauvina?”
Skills were more important than Attribute Values in real battles, unlike arm-wrestling. The presence or absence of skills had a great influence on one’s fighting strength.
“I’ve learned Club Technique!”
“It’s still level 1, so you can’t.”
“Rapiéçage’s is level 1 as well!”
Rapiéçage groaned and moved her eyeballs to look at Pauvina. Just recently, Rapiéçage had finally managed to acquire a level 1 skill in Unarmed Fighting Technique.
Vandalieu had used human spirits when creating her and had even torn up spirit mass that was floating about and added them into her. But though she could easily level up skills like Physical Resistance and Superhuman Strength, it seemed that it was difficult for her to gain martial-type skills.
But as her skills were leveling up, her fighting strength would certainly be increasing. She was still Rank 4, however. Also –
“If Rapiéçage gets injured, I can just replace her parts, but I can’t replace you, can I, Pauvina?”
Indeed, Rapiéçage was a patchwork Zombie that Vandalieu had created by sewing together multiple corpses. Even if her limbs were broken and her head was cut off, he could cut parts off suitable corpses and sew them back onto her, and then she would be back to normal.
For some reason, not only Pauvina, but Rapiéçage seemed depressed at Vandalieu’s words as well. Perhaps she was hurt by being told that it was fine for her to become injured.
Vandalieu realized that he could hurt others without being aware of it. He reflected on his actions and words, and decided that he would make it up to Rapiéçage with some mayonnaise later. But right now, Pauvina was the issue at hand.
Pauvina was Vandalieu’s… it wasn’t clear if she could be called his daughter, but at the very least, she was like his little sister. He was hesitant to bring her onto the battlefield and risk her life. She was only two years old, after all.
“Pauvina, I’ll bring you to fight in wars or Dungeons when your skills reach level 5 or when you become an adult. So make sure you train yourself until then.” As Vandalieu told her this, he handed her a late birthday present.
It was an iron mace to replace the stone one she had been using up until now.
“Uwah! Can I really use this?!” Pauvina’s face lit up in excitement the moment she saw it… and for some reason, Rapiéçage seemed happy as well.
“Yeah, you can,” said Vandalieu. “It’s a present, after all.”
“Thanks! My stone mace was hard to use because it was too light!” Pauvina happily started giving the iron mace a few practice swings.
Vandalieu gave a satisfied nod as he watched her.
He thought of Pauvina has his younger sister, but that was exactly why he thought it was his duty to raise her to be able to beat ten or twenty ordinary soldiers to death.
This world was harsh for those of Vida’s races like Vandalieu, and there was a high chance that those who believed in Alda would consider Pauvina to be on Vida’s side if they learned of her birth. That was why Pauvina needed to become strong.
Pauvina grunted as she swung her mace around. But why was Rapiéçage also happily swinging her empty fists in the air as well? As this question perplexed Vandalieu, he suddenly realized something.
Rapiéçage was imitating Pauvina and learning from her.
“Come to think of it, children like imitating their older siblings, don’t they?”
It seemed that there was no need to make an effort to make more mayonnaise for now.
“How to pray to the goddess? What are you saying, Holy Son? Are you not already sufficiently adhering to Vida’s teachings?”
This was Nuaza’s response when Vandalieu visited him with concerns.
Vandalieu had expected that being baptized or using a proper praying method might cause Vida to send him a Divine Message, so this response was surprising.
In all honesty, Vandalieu had no recollection of praying to her properly at all. Though he had rebuilt the Church of Vida, he never went to it other than short visits with everyone before going into a Dungeon.
“Umm, please give me a detailed explanation,” Vandalieu requested. “About Vida’s rules, or her doctrine, or something.”
“The doctrine of Vida, the goddess of life and love, is simple,” said Nuaza. Celebrate life and love others. There are various smaller details, but even so, they are not what would be called rules.”
Simple teachings like, ‘Don’t put your life to waste,’ and, ‘Treat your family, friends and lover with care,’ apparently formed the foundation of Vida’s doctrine.
There were various derivations from those fundamental principles; for the ‘life’ side of things, there were things like, ‘Don’t waste any food in your meals,’ ‘Share your food with the hungry,’ and, ‘Give short words of thanks before and after each meal.’ When Nuaza had said that Vandalieu was adhering to Vida’s teachings, he was referring to these, which Vandalieu had been following.
Japanese was spoken in this world. That was why Vandalieu had been using the Japanese habits of saying, ‘Itadakimasu,’ and ‘Gochisousama,’ without even thinking about it, and he generally ate anything without being picky. And he was sharing his food with others in the form of the new flavorings that he had created, which were being distributed to everyone.
“Ah, I am indeed following them,” said Vandalieu once he realized this.
However, the doctrine was strangely similar to Japanese culture. These tendencies were probably present to begin with, and the doctrine had might have grown even more similar to Japanese culture after Zakkart’s arrival a hundred thousand years ago.
But the ‘love’ part was not very similar to Japanese culture. It seemed that the goddess had quite an assertive nature.
“What about ceremonies?” asked Vandalieu.
“There are none in particular,” Nuaza replied. “Well, there are wedding ceremonies, divorce announcements, prayers for planting crops, prayers for harvesting them and coming of age ceremonies,” he added.
It didn’t seem that there were any complicated ceremonies.
It was told that the champions had said something along the lines of, “The methods don’t really matter. The important thing is to not forget the importance of life and love, isn’t it?”
What a frank goddess. The simplicity and lack of formality is nice, but from the believers’ point of view, isn’t there a lack of blessings…?
Didn’t religions normally have strict ceremonies and methods? Well, it likely wouldn’t have been a problem a hundred thousand years ago when Vida walked safely in this world and could speak to her believers directly.
Incidentally, the other gods were apparently mostly the same. But in Shizarion’s case, songs and art were offered to him while sword dances and the heads of prey hunted by warriors were offered as tributes to Zantark. In Ricklent’s case, year-long research results were presented before his statue. It seemed that each god had their own preferences.
“As you would expect, Holy Son, Alda and the gods who support him seem to enjoy ceremonies with confusing, complicated procedures,” said Nuaza.
There were apparently many rules such as the baptism of newborn infants, long prayers and obligations to go on pilgrimages. This was closer to Vandalieu’s image of a religion.
It was unknown as to whether this was a result of Alda’s personality, or because his clergymen had come up with these formal ceremonies to keep his believers together now that Alda, like Vida, could no longer walk on this world’s surface.
“But considering that, why does Vida not pay me any attention?” Vandalieu wondered.
Since she had given the prophecy to Nuaza almost a hundred years ago, she should have predicted Vandalieu’s existence back then.
With that being the case, Vandalieu thought that she could have at least sent him a Divine Message or something. “How to repair the resurrection device in five minutes,” or the locations of other resurrection devices, perhaps.
“Holy Son, the goddess was gravely wounded in her battle against Alda,” Nuaza told him. “She cannot send Divine Messages so frequently… At least, that is what I have been taught.”
Vida sustained great wounds during the battle of a hundred thousand years ago, and apparently Zakkart and the Pure-breed Vampires were also in a deep slumber. Vida’s subordinate gods were in a state where they were completely unable to act as well.
Vida’s new races had been growing smaller in number due to Alda’s influence, leaving her with few believers. This was just what Nuaza had heard from scholars from the Orbaume Kingdom who had visited Talosheim for research purposes, however.
And apparently talent was also needed in order to receive a Divine Message. With no talent, one would only receive a part of the Divine Message or it would not remain in the recipient’s memories at all.
For example, if a god sent a Divine Message of, “The man named A is connected to the evil gods, so he is dangerous,” if the recipient was not talented enough, the only thing he would remember would be, “A, danger.” And then the situation would be complicated as it would be unknown as to whether A was a dangerous person or whether danger was closing in on A.
“Well, it might just be that there isn’t anything she could tell me through a Divine Message,” Vandalieu concluded.
It was possible that Vida thought that even if she told Vandalieu how to repair the resurrection device or the locations of other resurrection devices through a divine message, he wouldn’t remember any of it.
“But you should be able to acquire the goddess’s divine protection one day, Holy Son,” said Nuaza.
“That would certainly make me feel a lot better,” Vandalieu whispered as he looked up at the cold winter sunlight.
Spring was close.
Soldiers, knights, adventurers. If one were to ask which would win in one-on-one fights disregarding race and sex differences, the answer would be adventurers.
It was the jobs of the soldiers to protect the public order of their nations, fight on the battlefield during times of war and risk their lives to protect the towns when large groups of monsters went on rampages.
With the guards of Evbejia who only borrowed armor and helmet for bragging rights, soldiers who were not temporary conscripts but formally employed by the army first underwent a Job-change from Apprentice Soldier to Soldier.
These Jobs were more or less inferior equivalents to the Apprentice Warrior and Warrior Jobs. The only aspects in which they were superior was their ease of leveling and the bonuses to the acquisition of the Coordination and Enhanced Attribute Values: Under Command skills. However, these skills were meaningless when used alone.
The reason that Soldier was an inferior equivalent to Warrior was because soldiers, unlike adventurers, didn’t fight frequently. Even if they did uphold the public order, they didn’t fight life-threatening battles against criminals every day, and if a town were in a situation where monster rampages occurred multiple times a year, their lives would likely come to an end anyway.
Even if one included the skirmishes between the Amid Empire and the Orbaume Kingdom that had been ongoing since their foundation, wars only happened once every few years.
They trained every day without fail, but they had much less experience in real battles compared to adventurers. That was why the Soldier Job was inferior, but easier to level up.
As knights were expected to possess greater fighting strength than soldiers, their Jobs were more powerful than the Soldier Job.
They would begin with Apprentice Knight, then proceed to Equestrian. Once they were knighted, they would become True Knights. However, not just anyone could become a True Knight. Talent was indeed required, but no matter how skilled one was, being hired would be impossible without the trust of a noble family.
Knights were also a main source of public order, but depending on the individual, they could also be lords of small regions such as villages. As such, they spent more time doing desk work than soldiers, and they were more often injured during training than in real battle.
The average regular soldier would be considered E-class by the Adventurers’ Guild, and Equestrians would be similar to them. True Knights were said to be equivalent to above-average D-class adventurers.
Thomas Palpapek smiled as he recalled the above information. Anyone witnessing this smile would certainly feel good will coming from him; it was a gentle smile that would leave a deep impression.
I’m quite good at keeping up appearances, though I do say so myself.
On the inside, he wanted to vomit and scowl fiercely, as if he had swallowed a swarm of bitter bugs.
It was still a season where sunrises and evenings were cold, but as Thomas looked upon the army that the warm spring sunlight was shining upon, he realized that his meager plan had half-succeeded and half-failed catastrophically.
This was Mirg, the Mirg shield-nation’s royal capital. A departure ceremony for the expedition army was taking place here.
The Mirg shield-nation would address the expedition army and the Amid Empire’s supreme commander, General Mauvid, would promise military success. Chezare was second-in command. He was the second son of the Legston, the current marshal. Mauvid and Chezare would receive blessings from the high priests of Alda, march around in a parade and then depart.
The proud face of General Mauvid, the fresh smile of Chezare and the face of the Green Wind Spear Riley, who was being introduced by the king as the second coming of the hero, were most unpleasant.
But there is nothing I can do now.
General Mauvid had brought several dozen imperial guards from the Amid Empire. There were thirty or so priest-warriors, led by the renowned Vampire hunter, High Priest Gordan. And the rest of the army was six thousand of the Mirg shield-nation’s prided elite.
They were elites even among soldiers, having undergone Job-changes from Soldier to Jobs such as Archer, Cavalryman and Heavy Soldier. If they were adventurers they would be D-class; they were capable of exterminating Rank 3 monsters alone and they showed even greater fighting strength when battling in groups.
The knights were all at least True Knights, and most of them had undergone Job-changes to Guard Knight, Holy Knight or Superior Knight. They would be equivalent to C-class adventurers, and they possessed enough strength to be able to defeat Rank 5 monsters on their own.
They were normally held back as reserve troops, the Mirg shield-nation’s trump card. They were the final line of defense to protect the nation when the Orbaume Kingdom conducted surprise attacks that soldiers standing by at forts couldn’t deal with, or when large groups of monsters suddenly appeared and went on a rampage.
There were six thousand men here. They were joining an expedition in order to risk their lives in battles that would yield no benefits for the Mirg shield-nation.
Even a single one of their deaths would be a great loss. They were not men who could be lost in exchange for cleaning up a worthless stain on the Mirg shield-nation’s history, nor could they be compared to the life of a single Dhampir.
Thomas Palpapek’s plan had half-succeeded. As the A-class adventurer Riley and his self-made party were participating in the expedition, as well as the Vampire hunter, High Priest Gordan, the number of men participating in the expedition had been reduced to two-thirds of what had originally been planned.
However, in high spirits due to the hero’s participation in the expedition, the king had said, “Our dignity as a military nation would be lost if we do not provide our elite forces,” and dispatched six thousand of the nation’s most elite troops.
“Oh my, what distinguished personnel we have gathered here, Earl Palpapek.”
“You are absolutely correct, Viscount Balchesse,” said Thomas in response to this comment.
Yes, you’re damn right, Viscount Balchesse.
Saying the same words in his mind as with his mouth, though with a completely different tone, Thomas maintained his composure.
Viscount Balchesse hadn’t done anything wrong. He would have been a fool to not extend his hand at the chance to make his own land prosper, and he wasn’t knowledgeable when it came to conspiracies and military affairs. Other than his skills when it came to economics, he was an ordinary nobleman. In any case, he wasn’t in a position to be directly involved in this expedition. The most he was doing was helping with the transport of goods.
“The expedition is great, but I hope that as many of the soldiers return safely as possible,” said Balchesse.
It was most helpful that he wasn’t a foolish nobleman. Helpful for Thomas’s sanity in particular.
“Yes, they are important, capable people that this nation needs, after all,” replied Thomas.
They were the nation’s elite. If they were regular soldiers, they could be replaced by training new recruits for a year. But there was no telling how many years of training it would take for new recruits to become replacements for such elite personnel, and even if they trained, many would not make it that far.
This was even more true for knights.
We will have three thousand elite soldiers left in reserve. There are no signs of monster rampages, and the Orbaume Kingdom shouldn’t have regained enough strength to go on another offensive. And there should be no way for them to be able to tell what is happening on the other side of the Boundary Mountain Range.
Things would likely work out during the expedition. That was what Thomas predicted.
The only thing I can do now is pray that the Dhampir is exterminated as quickly as possible and that as many of our soldiers as possible return before the Vampires destroy the tunnel.
“But it would have been more reassuring if the Thunderclap Schneider was participating in the expedition as well,” Balchesse commented.
“Ah, that S-class adventurer?”
Of course, Thomas was aware of this person. Unlike Riley who had been artificially raised to his current position, he was a true hero, and he had visited the Mirg shield-nation on several occasions. He hunted Dragons whose Ranks were higher than 10 as if it were nothing, and Noble-born Vampires were nothing but small-fry before him. He was a superhuman who had defeated an evil god and annihilated numerous packs of Lamias and Scylla… A truly inhuman being.
He was one of the five strongest individuals in the Amid Empire, a hero. It was even said that Alda had sent Divine Messages more than once or twice in order to warn of his life being in danger.
“If he didn’t have bad habits as well…” Balchesse muttered.
Schneider had an unrivaled lust for women.
“It is unfortunate,” Thomas agreed. “But they do say that heroes like their women.”
It doesn’t matter if the goddess loves him! Anyone who would be infatuated with womanizing in a time like this should just die!
Though the words that came out of his mouth were civil, Thomas cursed Schneider in his mind.
Parallel Thought Processing was a skill that allowed different matters to be thought about simultaneously. It was likely that it provided Vandalieu with the same ability as dividing his heads.
After trying to use it, he had found that he was able to think about different things as if he had grown an additional brain. He would be able to use thought process A to solve mathematics problems while thought process B controlled his body in a boxing match.
The number of thought processes wasn’t limited by the level of the skill; he was able to have three or four at once. But the more the number increased, the more likely the thought processes were to fail when performing complicated tasks. As the level of the skill increased, it was likely that he would be able to perform more numerous, complicated tasks at once.
Incidentally, when Vandalieu used Out-of-body Experience to multiply his heads, his extra heads could also use Parallel Thought Processing.
“High-power as usual,” Zadiris commented. “Combined with the Chant Revocation skill, can you not cast multiple spells at once?”
“I can,” said Vandalieu. “If I use Multi-Cast as well, I can cast currently six spells with one head.”
Even with the Parallel Though Processing skill to increase the number of Vandalieu’s thought processes, he only had one mouth so he would normally be able to cast only one spell. However, with the Chant Revocation spell, there was no need to recite an incantation so casting multiple spells simultaneously was possible.
The Multi-Cast skill only added to that.
And he could cast even more with the use of the Surpass Limits skill.
“Would your Mana not decrease if you do that?” asked Tarea.
“Not particularly, though it is tiring,” replied Vandalieu.
Was it not likely consuming a large amount of the glucose in his body? For Vandalieu, who possessed a vast amount of Mana, he wouldn’t be particularly happy if his body’s nutrients were the price to pay for using his skills, but if he used Out-of-body Experience and used only his soul rather than his body to use his skills, there would be no problem.
As for what Vandalieu was doing right now, he was playing shogi with Zadiris and Tarea as his opponents.
“Despite seeming simple at first, it is quite a strategically deep game,” Zadiris remarked.
“It seems like it would be quite enjoyable if one gets used to it,” said Tarea.
Reversi had already become widespread, so Vandalieu had created a board and pieces for shogi out of stone as another way for those in Talosheim to entertain themselves.
He had considered chess as well, but since Japanese was spoken in this world, shogi seemed more appropriate. Additionally, it seemed likely that everyone would soon become familiar with shogi, as currently-existing board games were far more complicated and difficult.
And most importantly, Vandalieu himself was not very familiar with chess. He did remember the shapes of the pieces, how they moved and the basic rules of the game, however.
But it was something that he had been forced to play for intelligence tests in Origin, so his knowledge of the game might have been different from the rules of the chess of Earth... there were pieces called mages in the game he knew, too.
Vandalieu was processing the board states of two games at once, and each of his hands moved a different piece on each board with clacking noises. He was spending his time leisurely after having cleared a Dungeon, but it was also training for his Parallel Thought Processing.
“Come to think of it, how was the virus you created?” asked Zadiris.
“It went well,” Vandalieu replied. “It only manifested symptoms in the dinosaurs and Goblins that everyone worked together to capture alive.”
“Then once you create a number of Magic Items imbued with Sterilization, everything will be perfect, won’t they?” said Tarea.
And then Vandalieu could see that it would be difficult for him to move and advance his pieces.
“I’ve been defeated,” he said, exhaling quietly. “Also, it’s a rule that you have to declare when you are putting your opponent in check.”
“Boy…” Zadiris looked up at him. “It is fine for you to be more frustrated when you lose, you know?”
“Zadiris, I’ve already lost ten times in a row. I don’t have any pride left.”
Like Reversi, Vandalieu had never played shogi with someone on Earth. His only experience with shogi had been in video games and playing by himself.
Therefore, like in Reversi, he had become unable to defeat the rapidly-improving Zadiris, and though he had won against Tarea three times, he had been losing continuously after that.
Tarea gave a small laugh. “Well then, please go ahead.”
“Well, it is a competition after all,” said Zadiris.
There were rules in place where the loser of matches had to give massages to the winner. And though Vandalieu wasn’t aware of this, the skill of giving others massages was not widespread in Lambda. Naturally, the concept of acupuncture points didn’t exist.
The wealthy and those who made use of high-class brothels knew of massages as anma*, but they had no concepts of using acupuncture points, seitai, needles and moxibustion.
Thus, the massage Golems that Vandalieu had placed in the bathhouses were plainly great inventions.
“Well then, I’ll get started,” said Vandalieu.
He used Spirit Form Transformation on his arms, branched them out into tentacle-like shapes and they sank into Zadiris and Tarea’s bodies. From the inside, he released their muscle tension while using Materialization to massage them from the outside.
The Materialization skill he had gained when acquiring the Soul Breaker Job, to put it simply, was a skill that allowed him to materialize parts of his body that had undergone Spirit Form Transformation.
It might seem that taking the effort to use Spirit Form Transformation only to materialize the body parts again would be meaningless, but Vandalieu had intuitively sensed that it would be an extremely useful skill… though not because he thought that he would be able to do tentacle play.
Tarea called out to Vandalieu. “Van-sama, you have become distracted.”
It seemed that concentrating on three different things with Parallel Thought Processing caused his focus to slip sometimes and produce negative effects on what he was doing.
“Boy, you are so enthusiastic when it comes to Basdia and the others, but not taking things seriously for us… how shocking,” said Zadiris.
“It seems that he does indeed prefer the younger women,” Tarea lamented.
“No, both of you are young,” Vandalieu pointed out.
Though both of their ages were three hundred years if rounded up, now that they had undergone Youth Transformation, their bodies had reverted to being very close to their physical age. When Vandalieu looked closely at them as they made their lamentations, he could see slight smiles on their faces.
It seemed that they were aware of this.
“… Come to think of it, it’s been about three years since I used Youth Transformation on Zadiris, and about a year for Tarea.”
Vandalieu increased the number of his arms.
“Wait, what are you planning to do with so many arms?!” Zadiris demanded.
“I was thinking I should do a little something to turn you into young women,” replied Vandalieu.
“Th-th-that is unnecessary!” Tarea said hastily. “We are no longer tired, so you can end the massage here!”
As Zadiris and Tarea’s faces turned pale with panic, Vandalieu refused to allow them to escape and began using Youth Transformation.
“No, no, you don’t need to be so reserved,” he insisted.
“Sto – AAAAAAH~!”
“NOOOO! There are more of them than before, HYAAAH!”
Vandalieu was bothered by the fact that he had lost the shogi matches, so he used Youth Transformation on Zadiris and Tarea until their skin was as smooth and childish as a baby’s.
『The levels of the Parallel Thought Processing and Materialization skills have increased!』
『You have acquired the High-speed Thought Processing skill!』