As a result of saving Ivan’s life, having given up on not attracting attention, Vandalieu was warmly welcomed back at the village’s only store, the jack-of-all-trades store.
“You saved my life, kid,” said Ivan. “A little longer and I would’ve died a stupid death and not been able to show my second child my face. Now then, go ahead and eat, it’s my treat!”
“Don’t go acting so high and mighty like treating him a meal is a big deal!” said his wife.
“Not at all. I was just starting to feel hungry,” Vandalieu told them as he ate. He was eating rice porridge.
It was something that had been made with long-grained rice similar to the Indica rice of Earth, edible plants, possibly for removing the peculiar smell of the rice, beans to increase the volume of the meal, and a little salt.
It really wasn’t a big deal. The taste came from the ingredients… in fact, there was no taste other than the taste of the ingredients.
However, it was currently summer, the time of year just before rice would be harvested. That was probably why they could only offer this much. This Seventh Cultivation Village was blessed for even being able to make rice porridge.
If I add the dried meat and dried fish in my luggage to this porridge, it would probably increase the salty flavor and taste quite good, Vandalieu thought, but he continued eating the rice porridge without putting this idea into practice.
The concept of ‘smoked food’ apparently didn’t exist in this world, so smoked dried meat and dried fish would become products of Talosheim in the future. Thus, he had to keep them secret.
Incidentally, the jack-of-all-trades store’s bar space had no menu. The alcohol was unrefined sake that the shopkeeper had made himself (using millet as a base), while drinking snacks were roasted or cooked beans and, occasionally, vegetables.
And the only meals available were what the storekeeper’s family was eating. This was only natural, as the family made their food in large quantities and served it to their patrons.
Vandalieu had wondered whether this really worked for business, but looking at it another way, the business wouldn’t work in this village unless done this way.
Each household was capable of making its own sake, and their ability to cook wasn’t any different from the couple who ran the jack-of-all-trades store. Thus, the only guests who would pay money to eat and drink here were the soldiers, merchants and their escorts who passed through here as they took the highway to the slave-run mine, as well as Kasim’s party.
If they set up a system to be able to cook multiple different dishes, their costs would actually increase. As a result, Vandalieu was eating this rice porridge.
“It’s not very tasty, is it?” said the shopkeeper in a serious tone, seemingly aware of this.
“… That’s not true,” said Vandalieu.
“Nah, it’s fine. Since you saved Ivan’s life, I’d like to give you something that tastes better to eat, but this is the best I can do with the rice we grow here.”
“Oyaji-san, we agreed not to say that, didn’t we? Still, it’s true that the rice we grew in the Sauron Duchy tasted better. It didn’t have the smell.”
Apparently, they had grown a type of rice similar to Japonica rice* in the Sauron Duchy north of the Hartner Duchy, commonly known as Sauron rice.
But climate and soil of the land of the Hartner Duchy that they had fled to wasn’t suited to growing Sauron rice.
With no other choice, they began growing the rice commonly cultivated in the Hartner Duchy, the Indica rice… known as southern rice in the Orbaume Kingdom.
“In other words, it’s all the Empire’s fault.” Vandalieu came to the conclusion that it was the Empire’s fault that he couldn’t eat rice similar to the Japonica rice that he was used to today.
“Yeah, it’s all the goddamn Empire’s fault!”
“That’s right, that’s right! Everything was caused by the Empire!”
Since this was a cultivation village full of refugees who had been chased from their homelands by the Empire, they were unanimous in their agreement with Vandalieu’s words.
“Still, to think that you can use magic.”
“It really surprised me. I thought you’d be a Warrior or Unarmed Fighter for sure,” said Kasim.
He and his friends were eating the same rice porridge as Vandalieu.
The priest of Alda nodded. “Yes, I was quite surprised to learn that you are so loved by Vida. The fact that you have appeared on this day on which Kasim’s party and Ivan’s lives were in danger is surely the will of the gods. Though we offer prayers to Alda and Vida, the gods who parted ways in the myths, let us take each other’s hands and strive to do good deeds,” he said, smiling at Vandalieu while placing his hand on his chest.
His smile still appeared shallow to Vandalieu, but his words seemed honest. At the very least, he was much more like a clergyman than High Priest Gordan had been.
It was possible that he was an unexpectedly virtuous person.
“It makes me happy to hear you say that,” said Vandalieu. “I’m not party of any ministry, though.”
Come to think of it, what’s the Church of Vida in the Hartner Duchy like? I’ll visit it once I get to the city.
“By the way… how is it that you are speaking so clearly while eating rice porridge?” the priest asked.
“… It’s a special skill,” Vandalieu replied.
Vandalieu had used Out-of-body Experience to create a spirit-form face beneath his clothes, and he had been using its mouth to speak this whole time.
“Ah, another helping, please,” he requested.
“You’re still eating more?! I mean, it’s fine, but that’s already your third bowl,” said the shopkeeper.
“I was quite hungry. I’m sorry.”
Vandalieu was smaller and thinner than other children his age, but he ate an amount that was impossible to imagine considering his size. This was because the amount of energy he required was already more than double that of the average adult man.
“First your strength and magic, and now even your appetite is like an adventurer’s,” Kasim remarked.
Thin people with large appetites weren’t rare among adventurers, as they had combat-related Jobs and greater physical abilities than those with creation-related Jobs. Kasim and his friends, who had attended the adventurers’ school, weren’t as surprised as the shopkeeper.
“Chief!” shouted a man, rushing into the jack-of-all-trades store. “Kyne from the nearby Fifth Cultivation Village is here, looking for the Priest-sama – UWAH?!” He was suddenly thrust aside by another man who had also rushed inside, covered in scratches.
“Priest-sama!” shouted the second man. He had certainly fallen over numerous times on his way here. “Come to our village! There’s a disease, an epidemic at our village, and everyone is collapsing! Please, come quickly!”
“An epidemic?!” the shopkeeper repeated.
“How could that be! But the sun has already set,” said the priest. “Heading for the Fifth Cultivation Village from now would be…”
The road directly connected the Seventh Cultivation Village and the Fifth Cultivation Village was essentially an animal trail. It would take four hours on foot to travel this animal trail. And night was when wolves and monsters would be active. It didn’t need to be said just how dangerous an unmaintained animal trail would be.
It was possible to go to the highway to travel to the Fifth Cultivation Village, but that would take an entire day.
“Kyne, let us leave first thing in the morning. Please rest your body until then,” said the priest.
“How can you say that!” said Kyne in protest. “Then everyone in the village, my wife, my daughter!”
“Please understand, Kyne. We cannot travel a dangerous road at night. The Goblins have increased in numbers as of late, and if we are defeated before we reach the village, then it will be meaningless –”
“Ah, how… How…” Kyne’s shoulders fell as he began sobbing.
There were some who raised their hands, moved by the ordinary man who had braved the dangers in order to come here for the sake of his friends in his village, his wife and his daughter.
“Alright, we’ll be your escorts –”
“Well then, I’ll take this Kyne-san and fly there,” said Vandalieu.
There were people willing to help, but that didn’t mean that all of them could go together.
“The stars are beautiful, aren’t they?”
“The moon looks amazing tonight.”
The only ones capable of flying in the world of Lambda are a small portion of mages, wealthy people with expensive Magic Items, those who have tamed monsters capable of flying such as dragon knights, and members of Vida’s races who have wings.
Thus, to the average person, the idea of flying through the sky is nothing more than a dream or delusional thought.
Kyne was undergoing this precious experience.
Vandalieu was using Flight to head towards the Fifth Cultivation Village, holding his luggage in his hands while carrying Kyne on his back with a safety rope securely tied between them. But Kyne was clinging to Vandalieu desperately and screaming in fear of falling, so it seemed that he didn’t have the time to enjoy this precious experience.
“By the way, it’s fine if I just go straight, isn’t it?” asked Vandalieu.
“Y-yeah! There’s a small swamp along the way; I think you can use that as a landmark!” Kyne shouted back.
“We passed the swamp a little while earlier, so I think it should be fine if we keep going this way.”
Vandalieu and Kyne were flying about thirty meters above the ground. Their speed was about that of a running horse at most, but it seemed that Kyne was too terrified to even open his eyes. But then, since Kyne didn’t have the Dark Vision skill, his eyes wouldn’t have been able to see anything even if they were open.
“We’ve already passed the swamp?!” Kyne asked.
“Yes. By the way, you’re kind of strangling me,” Vandalieu told him.
The speed of Vandalieu’s Flight was fast compared to a person running, but the fact that he could ignore terrain and fly in a straight line towards his destination was a big reason for the amount of distance that they had traveled.
They would probably reach the village within the next ten minutes.
He was expending a large amount of Mana to fly like this, however.
Thanks to my Automatic Mana Recovery skill, my Mana expenditure and its recovery cancel each other out if it’s just me and my luggage, but with Kyne-san’s body weight… I guess I still need more training. No, more importantly, let’s ask him about the disease.
“So, about the epidemic… Can you tell me what kind of disease it is one more time?” Vandalieu asked.
Vandalieu was curious about the epidemic that Kyne had spoken of. He had already heard the simple details, but he had thought that there was something very abnormal about it.
“I mean, I came back from hunting and saw that everyone had collapsed,” Kyne explained. “They had fevers and nausea, they were struggling to stay conscious… and there were some guys coughing blood…”
“Are there any healthy people other than you, Kyne-san?” Vandalieu asked.
“Other than me… Ah, if I’m not mistaken, Joseph-jiisan still looked alright. Also, the babies haven’t become sick yet.”
“Who is this Joseph-san?”
“He’s an old lumberjack. He’s had a terrible cold since yesterday, and he was apparently lying in bed until I got back. Right now, he’s pushing himself to nurse everyone else in the village.”
“That person isn’t sick with the epidemic?”
“Probably not. He has a fever and running nose, but it wasn’t nausea and he wasn’t coughing blood. That’s why I asked him to look after the others. Even if he can move, I couldn’t ask an old man to run to the next village, and the babies can’t be left alone for half a day, even if they’re not sick.”
In other words, excluding Kyne-san who had left to go hunting and wasn’t in the village, everyone there collapsed in illness, showing the same symptoms, other than the old man who had been sleeping and the babies. And… Kyne-san is healthy.
From the moment Kyne had barged into the jack-of-all-trades store, Vandalieu hadn’t seen the shadow of death in him. It was difficult to imagine that he was infected with a dangerous epidemic.
Just in case, Vandalieu had used Spirit Form surreptitiously to examine Kyne’s body while he was clinging to Vandalieu in panic, but he was healthy. It seemed that he would live far longer than Ivan.
After hearing the word “epidemic,” Vandalieu had used Sterilization to kill all of the harmful bacterial and viruses in the Seventh Cultivation Village before leaving just in case, but… wasn’t this a case of poisoning rather than disease?
But this would explain things if only one or two people had fallen ill; what methods could have been used to poison the entire village? And what was the motive to do so in the first place?
“Was anything different today?” asked Vandalieu.
“No, today was normal,” replied Kyne. “The only thing was that today was the day that the traveling merchant came.”
“Traveling merchant?” Vandalieu repeated.
“Yeah, he’s a respectable fellow whose store shut down, and now he’s doing his best to make his way back up as a traveling merchant,” said Kyne. “Either way, it’s helpful that he comes to a small village like ours that’s far from the highway, but… Come to think of it, he wasn’t at the village. I hope he hasn’t collapsed after he left…”
That person is probably the culprit. Well, the motive is still unclear, though.
But saving people came before solving mysteries.
“Could that be the village?”
Vandalieu, who possessed the Dark Vision skill that let him see through the night’s darkness like it was the middle of the day, saw a number of wooden houses that had been built on open land.
“I-it probably is!” said Kyne. “Please, the sick people are –”
“Well then, I’ll cure them all at once from here,” said Vandalieu.
“The village is from here to there. Well, I guess it’ll be fine if I use three thousand or so? Detoxification, Disinfect.”
What appeared to be waves of black mist spread across the village.
“HONEEEEY! You were alive!”
“I’m so glad! You’re cured, I’m so glad!”
The sight before Vandalieu gave him a small sense of déjà vu, but this happy, emotionally-moving scene between Kyne and his family was happening all over the village.
The villagers’ pain, fevers and nausea that had come without warning vanished completely, and their hazy minds became clear.
At the same time, Kyne’s family had been cured of the disease as well. As they celebrated, they heard voices outside. People came to find Kyne, illuminated by a blue-white flame.
At first, the villagers had thought that Kyne’s ghost had created a miracle for them, but once this misunderstanding was cleared up, things turned into a whirlpool of emotions.
“… Phew, what a relief,” said Vandalieu.
Using Flight while holding (or being held by) an adult man had consumed a large amount of Mana. It was an inefficient spell to begin with, so it couldn’t be helped.
He had spent 70,000,000 Mana. And since it was late in the night, he was sleepy. As a healthy child, he wanted to go to sleep soon, but would he have to return to the Seventh Cultivation Village first?
For now, Vandalieu decided to make Lemures and have them search for the culprit, the traveling merchant, who had disappeared. He wasn’t familiar with the geography of this area, so there was a high chance that he wouldn’t be able to find the culprit if the culprit had taken a side road away from the highway, though.
Vandalieu was under the assumption that the traveling merchant was the culprit, but as the villagers had been recovered after the use of Detoxification, it was certain that their illness hadn’t been caused by a disease. And since the traveling merchant himself wasn’t here, the circumstantial evidence was perfect.
“Ah, everyone. The poison has disappeared, but your strength hasn’t recovered, so don’t get too excited. Please get some rest.”
“Honey, who is this child?” Kyne’s wife asked.
“This child cured the disease for you guys; he’s the one who saved the village! Thank you, thank you!” Kyne held Vandalieu in the air, his face drenched with tears and mucus.
Vandalieu had carelessly let the word “poison” slip, but it seemed that nobody had noticed it.
“What did you say?!”
“Oh, this is the savior of the village!”
“It’s a Familiar-Spirit-sama. Al –”
“That should be Vida,” said Vandalieu. The villager was about to say something extremely uncomfortable, so he had to at least firmly deny this one thing.
“Vida, the goddess Vida’s Familiar Spirit!”
“No, you should be resting instead of doing this –” Vandalieu returned to his senses, but the villagers were all over him. Don’t blame me if I can’t move my body tomorrow. “I suppose I’ll be staying here tonight,” he whispered to himself.
The Lemures’ search failed and the traveling merchant got away. If there had been casualties, Vandalieu might have been able to find him. But because of Kyne’s efforts and Vandalieu’s treatment, none of the villagers had died, so he had no clues.
According to the villagers, the traveling merchant apparently followed a religion of a god that they had never heard of before (that they weren’t even sure existed), and it was a national holiday for followers of that religion. He had treated everyone by giving them tea that he had prepared himself and confectionary.
The confectionary that Kyne’s wife and child had saved for him for when he got back from hunting had contained poison; this was certainly the source of the illness. It seemed that the traveling merchant had told them that the confectionary would go bad quickly and should be immediately eaten by those already present, but now, evidence had been left behind.
Well, Vandalieu had erased the poison with his spell, so he wasn’t sure if it would be accepted as evidence. It was difficult to imagine that there would be anyone who could detect the traces of the poison that Vandalieu had erased with death-attribute magic.
It was difficult to imagine that a traveling merchant who would do something like this would be formally registered at the Commerce Guild, too.
Well, there was a chance that he had assumed that all of the villagers were dead and was now foolishly heading to the nearest town.
After comforting the villagers who were shocked to learn that they had been betrayed by the traveling merchant they had trusted, Vandalieu had stayed the night and left Lemures behind to keep watch. And as for what he was doing now…
“Theeey weeere aaall~”
He was flying through the sky while singing in a flat pitch.
He was going around to see if yesterday’s traveling merchant was trying to do something in the other cultivation villages.
Of course, he could have ignored the merchant and prioritized his goal of registering at the Adventurers’ Guild, but if there were other villages where people had been poisoned like the Fifth Cultivation Village and all of the villagers were on the verge of death, he would have an uneasy conscience.
They do say that even chance meetings are due to fate, and that good you do to others is good that you do to yourself.
Vandalieu felt uncomfortable receiving money as a reward, so he had decided to have the villagers create a shrine for Vida in the village. Though it was a shrine, like the shrine for Alda, it was just a large stone with a holy symbol (a heart, in Vida’s case) carved on it and a simple roof built over it. But because it was so simple, it was something that Vandalieu could easily ask for.
He was being treated more and more like an incarnation of Vida’s Familiar Spirit as a result, but he didn’t really mind.
“Haaated~ … Oh?” Vandalieu was currently on the way to the Sixth Cultivation Village when he noticed that there were several dozen silhouettes on the ground.
When he looked closely, he saw a group of men wearing worn-out leather armor with a grimy air about them, proceeding along the animal trail that led to the Sixth Cultivation Village.
He took out and checked the map that Kyne had drawn for him on some tree bark; there was no mistake.
He called the spirits that were floating around behind them and listened to them. These men were apparently bandits. He asked numerous spirits the same question and they all gave him the same answer. It seemed that these men really were bandits.
It was time to get rid of them.
“Listen up, you bastards,” said the man who appeared to be the leader of the bandits. “Once we get to the village, kill all the men, and once you have your fun with them women, kill them as well! But the good-looking ones who look like they can sell, don’t you put one scratch on ‘em! You good with that?!”
“No, I’m not.”
“What?! You bastard, you’re going against –?! Who is this brat?!” The bandit leader turned around to see Vandalieu there. Floating silently in the air.
“B-boss, this thing is a monster!”
“Suddenly coming down from above… It’s definitely a ghost or something!”
“No,” said Vandalieu in response to the frightened bandits. “I’m just a flying seven-year-old child who happened to be passing by.”
In this world, normal seven-year-old children do not fly.
“Tch, he’s underestimating us! Kyne*, use your superhuman strength to dispose of this thing!” the leader ordered.
A skinhead with the best physique among the bandits stepped forward with a smile on his face.
“Boss, can I play with it a little before I kill it?” he asked.
“Still into kids, huh… Do what you want!” said the leader.
“Hihih, I’ve got permission!” Kyne screamed in delight, his eyes gleaming in anticipation as he swung his war-hammer in an intimidating manner.
“Boss, aren’t we supposed to be attacking the village?” another bandit asked.
“It’s not a problem,” replied the leader. “Kyne’s definitely gonna break that kid quickly.”
“I suppose you’re right.”
“Oi, kid, if you stay still, I’ll just smash your arms and legs and then play around with you a little,” said Kyne. “But if you resist, I’ll smash your arms and legs and then turn you into my toy!”
“… Wow, it’s an idiot,” Vandalieu said in exasperation.
“WHAT?!” screamed Kyne. “Being called an idiot is the thing I hate the most! Don’t you know that?!”
“There’s no way I could know that, is there?”
“Damn it! You’re making me out to be an idiot!” Turning red with anger, now resembling a boiled octopus, the bandit Kyne thrust his war-hammer towards Vandalieu. “One swing from this war-hammer is enough to deal with kids like you!”
I mean, if you were facing anyone who could withstand more than one blow, you wouldn’t be able to do anything, would you? From the looks of it, you’re just relying on pure strength as you swing it; your movements are those of a person who doesn’t have the Club Technique skill.
Instead of voicing all of these retorts, Vandalieu stuck out his tongue. “This tongue is enough to deal with small-fry like you.”
“You br –”
Before Kyne could finish screaming his words, Vandalieu’s cheeks puffed out. Now that he did this, he could be considered quite cute despite his expressionless face.
But his cheeks returned to normal as he blew something out of his mouth with a small spitting sound.
Kyne stiffened and then toppled backwards like a rotten tree. His left eyeball had turned into a red puddle of blood, no longer a bloodshot eye with a pupil.
“K-Kyne? What’s wrong?”
As the bandits stood there dumbfounded, a soft, red, snake-like thing emerged from Kyne’s left eye.
Right before the terrified bandits’ eyes, the red snake slithered out of Kyne’s eye socket with blood dripping from it, and then rose into the air, straight into Vandalieu’s mouth.
“… This is an original martial skill, Sharp Tongue,” said Vandalieu. “It seems to be quite powerful if I fire it while secreting deadly poison. I suppose its flaw is that if I don’t retract my tongue or grow another one, I can’t talk.”
It was a martial skill of the Unarmed Fighting Technique skill where he used the effects of Venom Secretion (Claws, Fangs, Tongue) skill, Spirit Form Transformation on the root of his tongue to separate his tongue from his body and the Long-distance Control skill to fire it as a projectile.
Of course, the only person capable of coming up with and using such a martial skill was Vandalieu.
“Well, I suppose I can use it if I keep it as my last resort?” he said to himself.
“W-what the hell are you?!”
“Now that the only Kyne left is the Kyne that’s a good-willed hunter, I’ll dispose of the rest normally,” Vandalieu decided.
“R-run! This kid is really a mons… w-what the, my legs won’t move…?!”
“M-my legs are shaking too… W-why, WHY WON’T THEY MOOOOVE?!”
Vandalieu glided towards the bandits as they struggled desperately. The claws at the tips of his small fingertips were more than enough to slit their throats.
“I just spread some poison,” Vandalieu told them. “Didn’t you notice that I’d called out to you from upwind? Now then, you’ll answer my questions, won’t you? Though I’ll ask you one more time after killing you anyway.”