“… I don’t know… I really… don’t know…” the bandit leader whispered with the eyes of a dead fish, saliva dripping from the corner of his mouth.
Vandalieu gave a small groan. “You really don’t know. Considering that, your timing is quite strange, isn’t it?”
The day after the traveling merchant’s attempt to poison the villagers, bandits had tried to attack another cultivation village. It was too strange to be a coincidence.
But none of the bandit leader’s subordinates had any information that could be clues, either.
The bandits had apparently been moving territories, bought the locations of the cultivation villages for cheap from the information broker in the closest town to this place, a town called Niarki. They had learned that the villages were easy to attack as there were no adventurers in any of the villages other than the Seventh Cultivation Village, so they had come out here.
The information broker that had information on the internal affairs of the cultivation villages that only a small portion of people ever traveled to, such as the traveling merchant in question, seemed suspicious. But nobody had known the bandits’ names, and their faces had been concealed by cloths below the eyes.
With this, there would be no way to chase the bandits.
“I suppose I’ll try pouring a little more, just in case,” said Vandalieu.
“S… stop… please…”
“If you’ve ever stopped killing, raping and selling innocent people, I’ll take that into consideration. So, have you ever quit?” Vandalieu asked.
“That’s what I thought.”
Vandalieu placed his claws, which had a liquid dripping from their tips, into the gaping mouth of the bandit leader. The fluid being secreted by the claws dripped out.
That fluid was what is commonly referred to as truth serum, secreted through the Venom Secretion (Claws, Fangs, Tongue) skill.
The Venom Secretion (Claws, Fangs, Tongue) skill that he had acquired with the Venom Fist User Job was a skill that allowed venom secretion, just as its name suggested, but unlike the Ghouls’ skill, the poison he could secrete wasn’t limited to paralyzing venom.
Before acquiring the Venom Fist User Job, Vandalieu had the idea that he might be able handle poisons and drugs better, so he tested this idea after acquiring the Job. He found that toxicity of the venom he created was weaker than the poison he created using death-attribute magic, but he gained the ability to secrete toxic drugs with various effects from his claws, fangs and tongue.
And so Vandalieu had become a living pharmacy who could create truth serum, antiseptic solution, anesthesia, digestive medicine, sunscreen, eye drops and even vitamin pills.
… But it did have the flaw of using the nutrients in Vandalieu’s body rather than Mana, so he couldn’t use it consecutively like magic.
One more time, Vandalieu asked the bandit leader the questions he had already asked, but before he could answer, the bandit leader began convulsing and then died.
“So, what’s the answer to the question I just asked?” Vandalieu asked the bandit leader’s spirit, as if nothing had happened.
“I don’t know… I really… don’t know…”
Not discouraged by the fact that the answer hadn’t changed, Vandalieu grabbed the corpse of the recently-deceased bandit leader’s corpse and bit into its neck.
And then he used Bloodsucking. He was also sucking up the truth serum components remaining in the bandit leader’s body, but with his Status Effect Resistance skill, these would have no effects on him at all.
“Phew, I’ve been hungry for animal protein since yesterday, so that was perfect. Now then…”
He quickly searched the bandits’ pockets, took their money and collected their weapons while he was at it. He then threw their corpses into a hole he had created with Golem Transmutation and used Decomposition to make their bodies decay into bleached skeletons before burying them.
“All done.” Vandalieu used Flight once more to head towards the Sixth Cultivation Village.
There didn’t seem to be anything unusual happening at the village. The villagers gathered in surprise to the white-haired Dhampir that had descended from the sky. Vandalieu heard what they had to say and decided to perform some medical treatment on some of them before heading towards the next village.
“Please wait, Familiar Spirit-sama! I cannot let you go without thanking you for healing my father’s eye!”
“No, it wasn’t a big deal, you know?” Vandalieu told the villager.
All he had done was perform a simple surgery with Spirit Form Transformation, secrete eyedrops and create a small bottle to contain them with Golem Transmutation.
“Thank you for healing my son’s burns! Thanks to you, my son’s fingers, his fingers!”
All he had done was perform a simple surgery with Spirit Form Transmutation and fuse with him to heal the burned fingers back to normal with Rapid Healing.
Well, in this village without a doctor (village without a healing mage), it was probably a big deal. But Vandalieu still felt awkward about receiving payment. This cultivation village seemed poorer than the Seventh Cultivation Village and even poorer than the Fifth Cultivation Village.
“Well then, please build a shrine to Vida when you’re not busy with work. Carving a stone with her holy symbol and building a simple roof over it is enough,” Vandalieu told the villagers.
And then he headed for the next cultivation village.
『The level of the Surgery skill has increased!』
Though the next village was poor, it was a good village where the villagers spent every day working as hard as they could.
Or at least, it had been until three Orcs broke down the crude wooden walls surrounding the village and made their way inside.
“R-run, it’s Orcs!”
The villagers ran for their lives. Orcs, a familiar enemy for adventurers, were great threats for poor villagers who were former refugees.
If it was only one Orc, perhaps the hunters and village’s young men would be able to surround it and somehow chase it away, but with three of them together, there was nothing to be done.
If all of the men in the village attacked them together, it might be possible for them to send them back, but including the farmlands, the village was quite large. It was impossible to swiftly gather all of the men from all over the village, arm them with farming tools for weapons and have them attack these Orcs who had appeared without warning.
The Orcs casually lumbered through the village, looking around at the fleeing villagers as if evaluating them.
Right in front of them, a young girl fell down. It seemed that it would take her another year or two to reach adulthood, but she was plenty old enough to satisfy the Orcs’ twisted lust.
The three Orcs all scrambled towards her.
“Beth! I’m coming!” A Beast-person boy of the same age as the girl, with the ears and tail of a wolf, ran towards her with a hoe in his hands.
“Morris! It’s too late, you can’t help me! You have to run!” the girl shouted.
“No way! I’m not going to hand you over to those Orcs, Beth!”
The boy had broken free of the grip of the male wolf Beast-person who appeared to be his father in order to run to his childhood friend, who was probably the girl that he loved.
“Morris, you can’t come here!” Beth was also trying to stop him.
She knew that he wouldn’t be able to defeat Orcs. Of course, Morris knew this as well.
If a child like him could defeat Orcs with a hoe, adventurers wouldn’t have trouble against them. He would certainly be beaten to death by the Orcs’ clubs, only delaying Beth’s violation by a few seconds.
But even so, Morris couldn’t stop himself from taking these actions. “You guys, your opponent is me!”
Seeing a boy raising a hoe to face them, the Orcs welcomed him with a derisive laugh. Right next to the female was a young male who looked like he had tender meat.
An Orcs raised its club, looking to quickly kill the boy and turn him into meat.
Morris’s hoe was repelled by the surface of the Orc’s body, failing to pierce its thick fat and the muscle beneath it.
Despair appeared on Morris’s face.
Suddenly, blood sprayed through the air.
Thinking that this was Morris’s blood, Beth shut her eyes. Morris himself thought that he had died.
“That’s one. Next, Heavy Fist.”
But the villagers saw what had happened. A white child had descended from the sky at an incredible speed and burst the Orc’s head with a single attack.
An Unarmed Fighting Technique martial skill that was easy to avoid, yet had the power to make up for this weakness, struck the second Orc’s head and killed it.
The third Orc regained its senses and raised its club, but in the eyes of Vandalieu, who had completed training with Braga and the other Black Goblins, this movement was far too slow.
Vandalieu’s claws pierced the Orc cleanly, administering more than a lethal dose of neurotoxin.
The Orc convulsed several times before collapsing as its knees gave out.
And then Vandalieu turned around to speak to the boy who was staring at him blankly. “That was questionably reckless, but people can be taken over by their emotions, so I can understand your actions. I have memories of doing such things, too. What I’m trying to say is, I’m glad I could save you.”
“Y-yeah, thanks.” Morris instinctively thanked the blood-soaked, smoothly-speaking boy floating in the air with his arm bent at an odd angle.
“So, please don’t be scared of me.” Vandalieu still had no confidence in his luck with interacting with people. He was anxious that even though he had saved people who were being attacked, they would scream and think he was just another monster.
“Umm, your arm…”
As Morris pointed out Vandalieu’s arm, which had broken after being unable to endure the speed of his descent and the attacks that he had beaten the Orcs to death with, Vandalieu used his other arm to casually straighten it and used Spirit Form Transformation on the parts that were concealed beneath his clothes. He rearranged his bones and blood vessels into their correct positions so that they would heal quickly.
“It’s fixed,” said Vandalieu.
“I-it is?” said Beth.
Her eyes were open wide in surprise as well.
“More importantly, won’t you take the Orcs apart? With three of them, all of the villagers would be able to eat until they’re full.” Vandalieu’s words caused both Beth and Morris to regain their senses completely.
Though Morris and Beth being nearby was one reason, Vandalieu had avoided using magic in order to kill the Orcs in a way that their meat could be used afterwards. It would have been a waste if they couldn’t be eaten.
When Vandalieu asked the Orcs’ spirits why they had attacked the village, they replied that their boss had told them to go on a rampage and do what they wanted in this village.
“So, what happened to that boss?” Vandalieu asked.
“He sent us here and then went somewhere.”
“The boss is an Orc?”
“No, a human.”
“Do you know his name and what his face looks like?”
“He called himself, ‘Boss.’ His face, his nose looked like a human’s.”
“His ears weren’t pointed. He was blacker than you.”
“He didn’t have horns or wings.”
Turning into spirits hadn’t made the Orcs any smarter, so this was all they knew.
From this information, Vandalieu figured that it was probably a human tamer who had sent these three Orcs to this cultivation village for some reason. He sent Lemures to look for signs of any suspicious people in the vicinity, but they didn’t find anything.
Isn’t there some place that sells information about the terrain? Vandalieu wondered as he dismantled an Orc’s body with his claws.
Vandalieu didn’t have the Dismantling skill, a skill that most adventurers who worked alone would possess. However, he had the Cooking and Surgery skills instead, so he could accomplish more or less the same thing as with the Dismantling skill.
Finishing the dismantling of his Orc faster than any of the villagers, he decided to start cooking with the organs that would rot the fastest.
But apparently water had been in rather short supply of late, so the villagers had told him that he couldn’t use large amounts of water to cook. That would make preparation of the organs impossible. But he didn’t want to see the villagers seeing him use death-attribute magic or the Golem Transmutation skill.
That was why Vandalieu went to the back of the house, away from the eyes of the villagers, and used Golem Transmutation to dig a well.
He searched the ground with Out-of-body Experience and found a cave with a source of underground water at a depth that would be difficult to dig by hand. He made Earth Golems and Rock Golems using the earth between the ground surface and the underground water and made the Golems move into the cave to get to the water.
And once Vandalieu had solidified the inner surface of the hole with Rock Golems, the well was complete. Of course, he hadn’t checked whether the underground water was suitable to drink yet.
“Huh, there’s a well in a place like this~”
Acting like a child playing detective, Vandalieu led the villagers to the well.
“That’s impossible, there’s no way there would be a well… it’s a well! There’s a well?!”
“What?! H-how could this…?!”
“What about the water?! How’s the water?!”
The villagers rushed in. Vandalieu took the water he had already drawn and returned to cooking.
And then he carefully prepared the organs.
“No matter how much I use Sterilization and Disinfect, it’s not like the contents of the organs physically disappear.”
People wouldn’t want to eat the organs of an Orc, even if they were harmless to the body. The same applied for Vandalieu.
“Thank you very much, Familiar Spirit-sama! Not only have you saved my sons, but you have given us such an abundant well! How could we ever thank you for this…!”
“Thanks to you, this village can prosper for many years, many decades to come! Thank you, thank you!”
Incidentally, as to be expected, the villagers had realized that the well had been created by Vandalieu.
But then, Vandalieu hadn’t expected that he would be able to fool them completely anyway. What was important was that the villagers didn’t know that he was using unknown magic and skills. Earth-attribute magic and water-attribute magic alone would be sufficient to dig a well.
“Err, I’m in the middle of cooking… Umm, creating a shrine to Vida would be more than enough repayment,” Vandalieu told them.
“Understood! We shall build a Church once the village is prospering!”
“No, a shrine is enough.”
The village’s water shortage had been more severe than Vandalieu had expected. Apparently they would have had to think about abandoning the village within the next few years if the situation hadn’t improved.
“So, Vandalieu-sama, where are you headed now?”
“The last village, the Second Cultivation Village.” Vandalieu was using Flight to travel while talking to Eleanora and the others through the communication Magic Item, the shrunken Goblin head.
“Pardon me for asking, but why are you helping the cultivation villages, Vandalieu-sama?” Eleanora asked. “Your objective is to register at the Adventurers’ Guild, isn’t it?” She seemed to be unable to understand why Vandalieu was going around helping the cultivation villages.
“Don’t say that,” said Zran. “Helping people is a good thing, isn’t it?”
“You’re doing great, King,” said Braga. “By the way, my encounter –”
“If you stand out too much, you will be noticed by the Vampires who worship Hihiryushukaka,” said Eleanora. “I think you shouldn’t do anything unnecessary.”
Zran had always thought favorably of the people in the Hartner Duchy that had done trade with Talosheim. To be more precise, the people of the cultivation villages were originally refugees from the Sauron Duchy, but he didn’t seem to be interested in making this distinction.
But Eleanora was advocating that Vandalieu should quickly register at the Adventurers’ Guild.
Vandalieu shouldn’t endanger himself to help people who weren’t even citizens of Talosheim at no benefit to himself. This was an extremely sensible viewpoint.
In fact, most people passing by would think, “Oh my, how troublesome,” and then be on their way. Of course, mages capable of using healing magic might have saved Ivan in the Seventh Cultivation Village.
But would a mere passer-by with no obligations to do anything, who wasn’t even an adventurer, have gone to the Fifth Cultivation Village afterwards? And would they have thought about going around to the other cultivation villages after that?
The reality was that Vandalieu gained nothing of use from helping the people of the cultivation villages. He gained the thanks and respect of the poor people, lodging and meals at crude inns, and verbal promises that shrines would be built in Vida’s name. None of these contributed towards the accomplishments of his goals at all.
Registration as an adventurer could be done without getting involved with the people of the cultivation villages, and his registration wouldn’t be rejected because he hadn’t helped the people before registering.
Popularity among the lowest commoners wasn’t really taken into account for people becoming noblemen, so not having such popularity wouldn’t be a problem at all.
Helping the people wouldn’t be of any help for resurrecting Darcia or getting revenge on Heinz and the others, either.
That was why Eleanora thought that rather than gaining anything in return, he was actually simply increasing the chances of being noticed by enemies, the Vampires who worshipped evil gods.
“That’s true, but if I am able to help them, it’s better to help them, isn’t it?” When Vandalieu was asked to explain it, this was what it came down to. “It’s said that the good you do to others is good that you do to yourself. If I do good deeds like this, I’m sure it will come back to me and good things will happen for me as well.”
“I-is that how it is?” For Eleanora, with her sense of values and previous experiences, Vandalieu’s reasoning could be said to be the reasoning of a foolish, softhearted person.
But Vandalieu was firm in his response. “That’s how it is.”
He believed in the unsightliness, foolishness, evil intentions and wickedness of people. He even thought that these were what made people people, and he couldn’t deny that he had these qualities as well.
However, unsightliness had a counterpart in beauty; foolishness in wisdom; evil intentions in good intentions; wickedness in virtue. These concepts came into existence because their counterparts also existed. If the entire world was unsightly, foolish, filled with evil intentions and wicked, words to describe these wouldn’t exist. All of these negative qualities could simply be described as, “Normal,” “Ordinary,” “Common,” and “Average.”
That was why people having beauty, wisdom, good intentions and virtue was a fact that could not be doubted.
Therefore, it could also be said that Vandalieu believed in the beauty, wisdom, good intentions and virtue of people as well.
“I don’t intend to say that it’s the responsibility of people with power, or anything like that. I dislike that way of thinking as well. All I want is to become happy, so I’m simply making others a little happier as well.”
“But what about the Vampires…?”
After hearing all of this, Eleanora interpreted Vandalieu’s way of thinking, the idea that “If everyone is smiling, that will make you smile as well” that a young child might be taught, was something that would only be applied to those other than enemies.
If that was the case, she would be able to understand to some extent. She would still think of Vandalieu as softhearted, but she herself had originally been an assassin sent to kill Vandalieu. She was only alive and present here because of that softhearted way of thinking.
Even so, Eleanora expressed that she would still like Vandalieu to think more about the danger of being noticed by the Vampires, but Vandalieu gave her a carefree response.
“It’s still alright. Even Gubamon and the others who worship Hihiryushukaka, the most influential Vampires in this continent, wouldn’t have the organizational capability to have informants in recently-constructed cultivation villages. It will be a while before traveling merchants start coming to these villages, and even longer before news of me reaches the towns.”
“Then I suppose that’s fine, but…”
“Then should we come close to those cultivation villages as well?” asked Zran.
“Hmm, please make sure you aren’t seen by the people of the village,” said Vandalieu.
“King, my lov–”
“Also, make sure you ask about our descendants and Levia-sama if you can,” Zran reminded Vandalieu.
“Okay. But I don’t think the people in the villages would know anything about them.”
When Vandalieu arrived in the final village, the Second Cultivation Village, there was no traveling merchant trying to poison the villagers, bandits trying to sneak inside, Orcs sent by a tamer or anything of the sort.
However, instead of a sudden crisis, a long-term crisis had apparently been ongoing for a long time.
“The first year was good, but the amount of rice we harvest has been decreasing year after year. We have been improving the land and such, but… At this rate, not only will we be unable to pay taxes in three years’ time, but we may even have people die of starvation in this year’s winter. O Familiar Spirit-sama of Alda, please save this village.”
Following the lead of the Dwarf chief of the village, the masses of villagers lowered their heads towards Vandalieu. Was it really appropriate that they had begun treating him like a Familiar Spirit right away simply because he had descended from the sky just as they were offering prayers for an abundant harvest?
“Well, I’ll do what I can, but… Also, I’m a Dhampir who believes in Vida. I’m not a Familiar Spirit of Alda,” Vandalieu told them.
Like the other cultivation villages that Vandalieu had visited, there were only shrines to Alda in the Second Cultivation Village. Had that priest of Alda in the Seventh Cultivation Village been particularly zealous with his missionary work?
Leaving that aside, with the problem simply being a poor harvest, the things that Vandalieu could do were limited. First, he went to have a look at the fields. Incidentally, the fields were unflooded, dry fields*.
Having a rough look with the knowledge and instincts from his Farming skill, the rice plants did indeed look weak to Vandalieu.
There was plenty of water, and the plants didn’t look like they were affected by disease. As Vandalieu went to lick the soil and examine the soil’s composition by taste, there was a weak reaction from his Danger Sense: Death spell.
“Could it be poison?” Vandalieu wondered. “Disinfect.”
The reaction disappeared from the soil immediately. It seemed that there were substances harmful to the body present in the dirt. The Detoxification spell worked on the rice plants, so it seemed that this really was the cause of the poor harvest.
“But why is there poison in the soil?”
This was strange. The soil of this village seemed to be the same as the soil of the other cultivation villages. If the poison had mixed into the water used to irrigate the fields, Danger Sense: Death would have reacted to the irrigation channels as well.
“Have you been using a special fertilizer?” Vandalieu asked, but everyone, including the village chief, shook their heads.
“We’re using compost made from plant and wood ash and human waste. But the other cultivation villages should be doing the same,” said the chief.
“Oyaji, there was one time where the gentlemen from the Knights’ Order came to train and brought some insecticide for us as well, wasn’t there?” said his son.
“Now that you mention it, you are right. That was the Knights’ Order led by the duke’s eldest son, Prince Lucas, was it not? But he apparently delivered the same insecticide to the other cultivation villages…”
The conversation between the Dwarf village chief and his son, who couldn’t be told apart other than by whether their hair and beards were black or white, didn’t make anything clear.
Well, the insecticide was suspicious no matter how Vandalieu thought about it, but he couldn’t think of a reason for the Knights’ Order spreading poison only on the fields of this cultivation village.
As long as there weren’t any strange familial conflicts happening, anyway.
If I recall, the cultivation project was started by the second son, Belton, and the leader of the Knights’ Order is the oldest son, Lucas. The traveling merchant, the bandits, the tamer and this village’s fields… I have a bad feeling about this.
Even if there was a familial conflict, why were there conspiracies targeting poor people like these on the edge of the region? It would be better off if they would just have bloody conflicts between family members in their own castles and mansions.
“For now, I’ve erased the poison in the soil of the fields and the rice plants,” Vandalieu told the villagers.
He might have erased the evidence as well, but the culprit would likely have the backing of an influential person, so it would probably be pointless to preserve the evidence anyway.
The villagers cheered, but Vandalieu questioned whether this was really a great achievement. Even with the poison erased, if there was a poor harvest due to cold weather, pests or disease, there would be no change to the fact that people would die of starvation in the winter.
Wasn’t there some way to improve the food situation of the village? If he spread his Mana into the fields, the beans planted in the ridges between the rice fields might turn into Monster Plants, so some other method.
As Vandalieu thought about it, he suddenly had an idea. Perhaps because there had been a Goblin King, there were more Goblins near the village than usual. And if he looked for Gobubu grass, he could quickly obtain some.
“Now then, everyone, I’ll teach you a way to make Goblins not taste terrible, so you can use them as food in emergencies,” he announced.
He would create the emergency rations of Ghouls, Gobu-gobu.