“Just what… happened to me?” Gordan was bewildered.
His eyes couldn’t see, his ears couldn’t hear, his body was cold. He didn’t know anything.
“I had… an important mission… Yes, I should have had an important mission from my god…”
“That is right, Gordan, my servant,” a voice said suddenly. From the divinity contained within the voice, Gordan knew immediately that this was the voice of a god.
“?! You are…!”
“However, you were unable to accomplish your mission.”
These next words almost caused Gordan to crumble. He had been unable to accomplish the mission that had been given to him by a great god. The frustration and regret caused pain in his heart.
“But I will grant you one more chance to fight, Gordan,” said the voice.
“What?! Is that true?!”
“Yes, of course. And if you fight as I am expecting, I will erase the sins of ‘this occasion’.”
“Certainly, my lord! I, Bormack Gordan, an agent of your divine will, shall fight until my last breath!” As Gordan made this vow, color returned to his world.
He couldn’t feel any warmth, but he felt as if his body was in even better condition than before.
“High Priest! Are you alright?!”
“He’s opened his eyes! Hurry and bring the Potion!”
At the same time, Gordan could see the enemies of his god swarming around him.
“Get away from me, you filth!” he shouted, striking a nearby enemy with his fist and springing onto his feet.
“High Priest, what are you –?!”
“What, you ask?! I am killing you bastards, of course!”
Conveniently, Gordan’s war club was lying nearby. He used his feet to kick it up into his hands and struck down another foolish enemy. The priest-warrior let out a scream sounding like a hoarse chicken as his lungs were crushed straight through his armor and he was sent flying away.
“High Priest! It is me, Arjen!” another priest-warrior pleaded.
“Oh, I see! Then die, Arjen, enemy of god!” One after another, Gordan beat down and slaughtered the priest-warriors that he had taught and guided while he was alive. “Fuhahahaha! God! Please witness this!”
At the hands of Gordan, who was now a Zombie Priest, the expedition army was finally annihilated.
He finished those who were trying to flee and those who were on the ground, leaving none alive.
『The levels of the Superhuman Strength, Bloodsucking, Spirit Form, Long-distance Control, Parallel Thought Processing, High-speed Thought Processing, Unarmed Fighting Technique, Surpass Limits, Multi-Cast, Chant Revocation, Soul Break and Death-Attribute Charm skills have increased!』
『You have acquired the Commanding skill!』
『You have reached level 100!』
Vandalieu was satisfied with the overwhelming victory.
There were no factors that could make them lose, so this was the obvious result.
Vandalieu had acted right after Eleanora turned to his side. He had gathered trump card after trump card, and made all the preparations.
He had anticipated there would be a tunnel the enemy would use and found it first to set up a surveillance network.
He had built walls with Golems, prepared crossbows and built catapults.
He had developed a disease that would only infect the expedition army. He had taken apart the Dragon Golem, created weapons and armor with the Orichalcum and distributed them to his allies. As an anti-Vampire measure, he had repaired the destroyed mercury mirrors and turned them into Golems.
And everyone had put in the effort to increase their own individual strength. The weakest of them were Rank 4, and they even had the effects of the Strengthen Followers and Strengthen Subordinates skills. Their actual fighting strength was equivalent to Rank 5.
In contrast, there were plenty of factors that caused the expedition army to lose.
The stronghold had been in a state where it would be divided if anything happened between Empire and the Mirg shield-nation, and the supreme commander had been a weak-willed traitor who had sided with the Vampires. The second-in-command hadn’t been capable enough to create a miracle, either.
Most importantly, they had neglected to gather information on the state of Talosheim.
The expedition army had been made of elite soldiers who were individually capable of defeating a Rank 3 monster, but their destination was a place where there were no enemies weaker than Rank 5.
As a result, though Vandalieu’s forces had sustained injuries, they had gained an incredible victory with no casualties.
Pauvina and the others had taken shelter in the royal castle that Vandalieu had turned entirely into Golems, and he had made sure they were safe.
“Now then, let’s deal with the aftermath of the battle,” said Vandalieu. He had recovered from his fatigue by drinking Gordan’s blood, and now he was turning the expedition army’s corpses into Zombies, one after another.
There were around five thousand of them. The reason the number of Zombies was less than the original number of soldiers was because some of the corpses had lost their original shape to the way they had been killed or their legs had been crushed, rendering them useless.
Vandalieu could repair even those corpses with Corpse Healing or make some use of them by using his Surgery skill to stitch multiple partial corpses together, but he didn’t intend to spend that much time and effort into making more disposable pawns.
Five thousand would be enough. He would use the other one thousand as experience for the Undead, food for the Cemetery Bees and manure for the Immortal Ents, and add their bones to Knochen. As for their spirits, he would turn them into Living Armors or something.
While busy with this work, Vandalieu gathered information from the spirits. The most important one was Isla, who had been the close aide of a Pure-breed Vampire. Unable to resist the Death-Attribute Charm, she told him everything she knew in order to try and please him.
“I see,” said Vandalieu. “So it really was the Pure-breed Vampires who destroyed the tunnel on the Orbaume Kingdom’s side. Well, that was after the princess and her companions made it to the Hartner Duchy, so it doesn’t matter. More importantly, can Ternecia repair the tunnel?” he asked.
“No, I heard that it is impossible even for Ternecia-sama… Ternecia,” replied Isla.
This meant that if the Mirg shield-nation’s tunnel was destroyed in the same way, the Pure-breed Vampires would be unable to use it. Vandalieu felt relieved.
Isla told him that Ternecia and the other Pure-breed Vampires had lost their ability to acquire Jobs after turning to the evil god, swearing loyalty to him and gaining his divine protection. They had become true monsters.
That explained why Zombie Maker had appeared as a new Job.
He also learned useful information such as the names of humans connected to the evil god, especially of those in the Orbaume Kingdom.
After that, he quickly turned her into a Zombie. The Pure-breed Vampires could apparently conduct a ritual that would summon the spirits of the dead Noble-born Vampires and turn them into Undead, so there was a risk that information would be leaked if Vandalieu didn’t turn them into Undead first.
“Vandalieu-sama, you can break their souls like you did with Sercrent’s instead of doing something like that.” Eleanora made a fearsome suggestion.
But Vandalieu shook his head. “I don’t really hate her that much.”
Because of his trauma, Vandalieu felt a reflexive bloodthirst whenever he saw women being hurt and tormented. However, to him, Isla was not a woman.
She was nothing but an ‘enemy’ who had tried to kill Eleanora.
However, Vandalieu had the feeling that it wouldn’t be good to destroy someone’s soul simply because they were an enemy. He would stop hating them after killing them in cruel ways.
“Ah, but I’m going to have these guys work under you, so if you don’t want that, let me know and I’ll break them,” he said.
Just because he stopped hating them didn’t mean that he would feel anything for them. His negative emotions would return to neutral; they wouldn’t become positive.
“! I… will work under this…?!”
“Certainly, Vandalieu-sama,” said Eleanora. “You understand, don’t you, Isla?”
“… Yes, Eleanora… sama…”
Without even glancing at the Vampire Zombie who was hanging her head, Vandalieu continued gathering information from the dead.
Putting up with Riley’s flattery, he learned about Heinz who had crossed over to the Orbaume Kingdom. He learned the names, faces, Jobs and skills of each member who had been in the Five-colored Blades. However, the information about one of them was useless.
An Elf woman, a Spiritual Mage by the name of Martina, had apparently died in a Dungeon.
She had entered the same special Dungeon related to the champion Zakkart that Heinz had cleared after crossing to the Orbaume Kingdom and been defeated there.
With that, there were only three enemies left to take revenge on.
“I probably can’t expect to find her spirit… though it would be interesting if she turned into an Undead in that Dungeon.” Vandalieu gave a sigh and then continued.
He learned of an S-class adventurer in the Amid Kingdom, the Thunderclap Schneider.
He was a saint so beloved by Alda that multiple Divine Messages had been sent to warn him of danger; he was apparently a great hero who had saved numerous towns and villages, and exterminated dozens of monsters over Rank 10.
But apparently, he was currently living on an island that he had received as a reward, living a life of luxury that even noblemen would be envious of and constantly surrounded by women serving him.
Having decided that it would be bad if he were to suspect that the Vampires were involved in the expedition, the Vampires had planned to make moves behind the scenes so that he wouldn’t participate in it, but he had simply rejected the request, saying, “I have no intention of going to a place without women and alcohol.”
“I wonder why,” said Vandalieu. “Well, that definitely saved us, though.”
If there had been multiple powerful adventurers in the expedition army, the victory wouldn’t have been so easy. An S-class adventurer who was even more powerful than Mikhail would have been terrible to face.
After this, since he had reached level 100, Vandalieu decided to quickly go and have his Job-change. This war had been great for Experience Points and his skills.
『Jobs that can be selected: Venom Fist User, Insect User, Archenemy, Zombie Maker, Tree Caster, Corpse Demon Commander*, Disease Demon, Spirit Warrior』
“Yay, there are more.” Vandalieu was happy to discover new Jobs, but it was happening so frequently that he wasn’t particularly excited. He had the feeling that if he reported these new Jobs to an Adventurers’ Guild, he’d be able to live off the reward money for a while.
Corpse Demon Commander was probably a Job that had appeared because he had gained the Commanding skill. It would likely be related to skills like Coordination and Commanding that could strengthen an army.
Disease Demon… Was this really a Job? Wasn’t it the name of a monster? Well, it probably was a Job after all.
This battle was clearly the cause of this Job appearing. It sounded rather exaggerated considering that Vandalieu had only created one disease that turned harmless after twelve hours.
Spirit Warrior was there maybe because of his Unarmed Fighting Technique skill and because he had now experienced the Soul Breaker Job? It was likely that this Job would provide bonuses to combat skills like Unarmed Fighting Technique.
But if he chose this Job, wouldn’t he have to wear armor bearing a star sign?
“For now, let’s try going with Venom Fist User,” Vandalieu decided.
He wanted to visit the Orbaume Kingdom next year to see its situation and learn about the adventurers’ school, so he wanted to increase his own individual fighting strength.
At first, he had thought that people would refuse handshakes if he took this Job, but he had come up with various ideas recently, so he wanted to test them out. He would take Spirit Warrior at another opportunity.
『The level of the Status Effect Resistance skill has increased!』
『You have acquired the Poison Secretion (Claws, Fangs, Tongue) skill!』
“Eh? It’s supposed to be venom fist, but for my fangs and tongue as well?”
Vandalieu had become able to secrete poison from various places. To think that he would literally have a ‘poisonous tongue’…*
“Bocchan, we have acquired all of the expedition army’s materials!” Saria reported.
“Well then, shall we depart?” said Vandalieu.
“Vandalieu-sama, may I come with you…?” asked Eleanora.
“We’ll be traveling in basic carriages, but if you’re alright with that,” Vandalieu replied.
“I want to go too!” said Pauvina.
“Pauvina… well, alright.”
“Now then, the Eclipse King’s army will now begin its march.”
The soldier on lookout duty at the makeshift fort at the tunnel was watching over the wastelands with his partner.
He had already become completely accustomed to the frequent phenomena such as fearsome howls in the distance, pillars of light rising into the sky without warning and lightning strikes.
He had been scared of them at first, but he had decided that they were a good thing, signs that monsters were fighting each other and reducing their numbers.
The C-class adventurers hired by the army had exterminated almost all of the monsters in the area near the fort. It seemed that there had been a lot of very profitable monsters. The soldier had overheard that the fur lining the stomachs of the hedgehog monsters could be used as a material for high-quality woolen goods.
However, the air around the fort was filled with a strange tension.
“Hey, rumors have it that…”
“What, I haven’t said anything yet, have I?”
“You’re going to say that something’s happened to the expedition army, right?”
“So you know already?”
Ten days had already passed since the expedition army departed this fort. According to the schedule, they should have reached Talosheim long ago, but no messengers came and no smoke signals rose up in the sky.
There were apparently other signals and communication methods that the ordinary soldiers hadn’t been told, but it seemed that no contact had come through those, either.
This was the reason for the tension at the fort.
“There’s a fully loaded supply unit on the other side of the tunnel that’s about to get here, isn’t there? Considering that, isn’t it strange that we haven’t heard anything?”
“I do think it’s strange, but… try letting the captain hear you say that, you’ll get a good scolding.”
Of course, if it was discovered that the soldiers were whispering morale-lowering things to each other, they would be reprimanded. They were curious about it, but not curious enough that they would discuss it and risk facing lectures and punishment from their terrifying boss.
They might have considered it if their boss was a young, beautiful woman, however.
“But you know… Hmm? What’s that?”
“Look, over there. Isn’t there something glowing there?”
As the soldier looked in the direction his companion was pointing in, he did indeed see something glowing. It was flickering blue and white.
“It’s probably a monster’s eyes or something,” he said. “It’s far-off, too, so just ignore it.”
Perhaps because humans were rare here, monsters frequently observed the fort from afar. At first, they had been terrified whenever they saw monster eyes gleaming in their direction, but now it was well-known that such monsters were intelligent enough to not attack as long as they stayed in the fort.
The soldier thought that the light seen by his partner was another pair of monster eyes, but –
“Hey, those lights, there are more of them,” said his partner. “And maybe it’s just my imagination, but aren’t they coming this way?”
The soldier looked again and saw that there were indeed more lights.
One light turned into two, then, three, then five, ten, dozens. More and more were appearing by the second!
And on top of that –
“There’s a sound… no, voices. I hear voices.”
“Report this to the captain! Those aren’t ordinary monsters!” the soldier said, half-screaming. He blew the horn that signaled an emergency. Hearing the horn, the captain who had sprung to his feet and the leader of the adventurer party that was on night watch came.
“What’s wrong… What’s that?!”
There was no need for the soldiers to make a report; the blue-white lights had clearly increased. There were over a hundred of them already. The sound had grown louder as well.
“If I recall, you can use light-attribute magic, can you not?!”
“I’ve got it, you just need me to make those blue-white things visible, right?” A male adventurer recited an incantation, producing a Flare spell. He threw the glowing sphere that had appeared in his hand into the sky with all his strength.
In an instant, the darkness over the wasteland was dispelled, as if a sun had appeared in the night sky.
The light revealed the expedition army that the fort had been waiting for contact from.
Groans and shrieks rose from them.
Their eyes were rolled back and their tongues were hanging out of their mouths. Gruesome wounds were visible on their bodies and their entrails were being dragged along the ground. But these were the Mirg shield-nation’s elite soldiers, whose march would not stop.
The soldier screamed, but nobody could blame him for doing so.
“Is that the expedition army’s… flag? Does that mean that the expedition army was annihilated?”
“I suppose so. There are thousands of them there; I don’t think there are any survivors,” said the adventurer.
There were several thousand Undead soldiers of the expedition army revealed by the light. The adventurer wasn’t optimistic enough to believe that there were any survivors or that any of these Undead were still alive.
And on top of that…
“The fort! Take! Kill!”
“How dare you… bring us… to this place… I’LL KILL YOOOUUU!”
The Undead were screaming with resentment, wearing furious expressions that made it difficult to believe that they had been humans to begin with.
“Captain-san, commence retreat!” the adventurer shouted, having confirmed what they were dealing with.
Even the spineless soldiers were startled by these words.
“R-retreat?! Don’t be stupid, how can we do something like that without crossing blades with the enemy!” said the captain.
“If we cross blades, we’ll be wiped out! Captain-san, including us adventurers, there aren’t even four hundred of us at the fort!”
There were three hundred soldiers in the fort. There were nine C-class adventurer parties.
Each of the C-class adventurers could defeat Rank 5 and 6 monsters individually, and an entire party could even stand up to a Rank 7 monster.
But the soldiers in the fort could hardly be called elite. One of them would have his hands full defeating a Rank 2 monster, and if they worked together, they might somehow take down a Rank 3 monster.
“But our enemies are just Zombies, right? With you C-class adventurers, things should work out!” said the captain.
“If they were Rank 2 Zombies, even with thousands of them, we’d somehow manage,” the adventurer agreed. “If all of us fought together and you didn’t mind the fort being half-destroyed, that is. But you heard their voices, didn’t you?”
“Voices? I heard them, but what about them?”
“Lower-Rank Zombies don’t speak words with meaning. They’re like beasts; they can only howl and scream. Sometimes they might have a word or two mixed in there. But these guys looked this way and recognized this fort, spoke discernable words of hatred and there were clearly some Undead that are more intelligent than Zombies.”
As the captain comprehended the meaning of the adventurer’s words, his face turned pale.
Among the thousands of Undead, there were some Zombies that were Rank 3 or above.
“If there are even a few hundred Rank 3 monsters, it’s not something we can deal with,” the adventurer continued. “Undead of Rank 3 and above can use the martial skills they used while they were alive. And since they’re Undead, there’s no limit to their stamina.”
A future where everyone would be crushed and slaughtered helplessly flashed through the captain’s mind.
“All forces, prepare to retreat!” he shouted. “Fill the tunnel with all the traps we have, pour oil on the fort and set it on fire! Archers and mages, attack the enemy and buy time until we’ve made our preparations! We’ll have you adventurers work with us as well!”
“Yeah, leave it to us!”
“All forces, prepare to retreat! All forces, prepare to retreat!”
They hastily began moving.
The soldiers protecting the small fort in front of the tunnel had succeeded in their retreat.
After having successfully decreased the number of Undead at least a little without taking any casualties, they frantically proceeded through the tunnel.
They knew that if the Undead caught them, they would meet horrific fates.
Still frantic, they came out of the tunnel. The captain of the fort on the Mirg shield-nation’s side of the tunnel had already been informed on the situation by a messenger rider sent ahead. Mages who had been hired just in case the impossible happened collapsed the tunnel with their magic.
With this, the Undead would not be able to come out.
They felt relieved, but a mage sensed that the Undead were digging their way through the collapsed tunnel and carrying on, around a hundred meters from the tunnel’s entrance.
“This is hopeless! Abandon this fort and retreat to the town!”
This fort was to prevent adventurers and criminals from trying to cross the Boundary Mountain Range illegally; it wasn’t something that had been built to deal with monsters coming out of the tunnel.
“You can’t collapse the tunnel one more time?!” the captain demanded.
“What are you expecting us to do something that’s already collapsed?! I’ll have you know that these spells won’t reach them a hundred meters away. Even if you tell us to do the same thing again, it’s impossible! All of us will take a day to recover our Mana!” shouted the mage.
The Undead moved without rest, and even now, they were digging through the tunnel at a terrifying pace. The mage could sense that they had already made their way through a third of the collapsed portion of the tunnel.
Retreat was the only option after all.
“What are we going to do about the cultivated land?!”
“Send a messenger, have them evacuate!”
“Hurry up! All forces, retreat!”
Sending a messenger back to the cultivated land, the soldiers retreated.
Fearing the monster invasion, the people living in the cultivated lands were evacuated to the town under the protection of the guards, an urgent request was posted at the town’s Adventurers’ Guild and adventurers were summoned from even other nearby villages and towns.
At the same time, Viscount Balchesse, the lord of this land, gathered all of the soldiers that he had.
It was uncertain if they would make it in time, but they somehow did in the end.
The Undead had been expected to continue day and night without rest, but for some reason, their footsteps had been a little slower than the human forces. The people were evacuated and preparations, though insufficient, were made.
Even so, the battle to defend Balcheburg, Viscount Balchesse’s town, was beyond fierce.
“Hyahahahahaha! This is the return of your herooooo!” The Green Wind Spear Riley, who had been hailed as the second coming of Mikhail, released martial skills one after another, striking down the arrows fired by the soldiers protecting the town.
“I-I am! The Amid Empire’s General Mauviiiiiiiid! Open the gates! Open the gaaaaaaaaates!” General Mauvid, who had led the expedition army in imposing, resplendent clothes, now commanded the Undead army in their invasion.
“Guhihihyaehehehehahaha! You evil flesh of filth! I, Bormack Gordan who serves god, will destroy you aaaaaall!” To top it all off, Bormack Gordan, the clergyman renowned as a Vampire hunter, was opening large holes in the wall protecting the town with his Club Technique.
“The Undead are coming in – GYAH!”
“Hihihi! Offer your flesh and entrails to your herooo!” Riley’s spear pierced the stomach of a soldier who was trying to deal the finishing blow to another Undead.
“You i-i-i-i-impure filth! Diiiiiieeeee!” Gordan crushed another soldier, straight through the shield he was holding.
“Fuhahahaha! This is our triumphant retuuurn! OUR TRIUMPHANT RETUUUURN!” Mauvid’s loud laughter and screams filled the air as he led the Zombies on.
However, the expedition army had weakened after becoming Undead and they weren’t as coordinated as they had been while alive. Though Viscount Balchesse suffered casualties, they succeeded in protecting all the civilians and other than its outer wall, the damage to the town was light.
It was also fortunate for them that Riley’s spear and Gordan’s war club had been replaced with weapons provided by the army and that Chezare and his Black Bull Knights’ Order hadn’t become Undead.
No, the most fortunate thing was that the Undead had been slow to move.
Viscount Balchesse hired a Spiritualist to investigate what had happened to the expedition army.
But the spiritualist shook her head. “The spirits of those Undead have all gone back to the mountain range; not even one of them stayed behind. It was as if they couldn’t hear me calling out to them at all.”
“Well, it was all deliberate, though,” said Vandalieu.
He and his followers were busy burning and destroying the unoccupied cultivated land on their way back.