Eleanora frequently thought about how right she was in her firm belief that this small Dhampir was far more fearsome than Birkyne and the other Pure-breed Vampires.
She was thinking the same tonight as well, but at the same time, as she thought about the policies of her master, the most fearsome being in this world, she asked herself, “Why?”
By selling the Goblin-head-shaped communication devices, Vandalieu could easily acquire a fortune and the position of baron, so why was he so fixated on the process of becoming an adventurer, gaining achievements and becoming a nobleman?
Even without the communication devices, he could use Golem Transmutation to change the shapes of gemstones or even Magic Stones, combine them and turn pebble-sized gemstones into large ones worthy of shining in the crown of a king. Wouldn’t he be able to easily gain the status of honorary nobleman if he demonstrated this ability?
For Magic Stones, only Magic Stones from monsters of the same race with the same Rank could be combined due to issues with Mana compatibility, but even so, Vandalieu would be able to combine Magic Stones to create larger ones when previously the only improvement possible was to polish them.
These were Eleanora’s thoughts, but Vandalieu had told her, “I can only see a future where influential people turn me into a slave or something and simply extract my Mana for their own use.” Indeed, Eleanora didn’t believe that all influential people were virtuous. In fact, she believed that over ninety percent of them were conspirators or villains.
But at the same time, she believed that unimaginably foolish influential people would make up less than ten percent.
I think that as long as they are not unimaginably foolish, they would realize that turning Vandalieu-sama into their enemy would lead to their ruin, but…
Enormous, black wings flapped gently. The wings that had grown from the back of her master.
“It feels nice to fly like this,” said Vandalieu. “Everyone, how does the ride feel?” he asked.
“Things are great here, too!” replied Zran. “The wind is strong, but it’s perfect for a hot summer’s night!”
“You’re amazing, King!” said Braga. “The humans making camp on the ground look like ants!”
Eleanora gave a vague smile as she glanced sideways at Zran, Braga and the other Black Goblins who were shouting excitedly.
“Vandalieu-sama… The ride is comfortable, but… Why have you changed… no, evolved, just for a method of transport?” Eleanora questioned.
“Hmm? I just grew some spirit-form wings; I haven’t done any changing or evolving,” replied Vandalieu.
With three pairs of wings protruding from the neck of a bird consisting of only a torso, he resembled a very ominous bird indeed.
Vandalieu had returned to the Seventh Cultivation Village, said farewell to the priest who had left for the city in a hurry, killed time doing training and such with Kasim and his friends, and spent the night at the jack-of-all-trades store. In his room, he had informed Eleanora and the others that he was heading for the city tomorrow.
Incidentally, the room in the jack-of-all-trades store was nothing but a room with eight people’s worth of crudely-made bunkbeds of straw. It didn’t rely on its income as an inn in the first place, so the bunkbeds had apparently been made by the owner himself. There was no disadvantage for him to have Vandalieu stay there in addition to Kasim and his friends.
The owner was quite shrewd; he had decided that this made them even for having mistaken Vandalieu for a ghost.
Leaving that aside, Vandalieu had regrouped with Eleanora and the others and immediately began trying to execute his idea.
Using the Spirit Form Transformation spell, the Spirit Form skill and the Materialization skill, he began trying to grow wings.
Now that he thought about it, Bone Bird, who was now a part of Knochen, had used spirit form feathers with its bone wings to fly.
Also, Vandalieu had been using Spirit Form Transformation to grow extra limbs and heads and even branched them out into tentacle shapes.
With that being the case, wouldn’t he be able to grow something like wings fairly easily? And wouldn’t he be able to use these wings to fly?
That was why Vandalieu tried it.
He used Spirit Form Transformation on part of his back, used the Spirit Form skill to change its shape the way he imagined it in his mind and stretched it out. He materialized it here and there using the Materialization skill, adjusting the skill’s intensity depending on the spot.
And so, Vandalieu acquired enormous wings.
Each of the wings was as long as a wing of a jumbo jet, and the torso was large enough for Eleanora and the others to ride on with room to spare.
Perhaps because they were made of spirit form, or because he had used an owl’s wings as a reference, or perhaps because his death-attribute magic’s Erase Presence was active, the wings made almost no noise despite their size.
He was flying at a height where arrows wouldn’t reach, at a speed equivalent to a racehorse sprinting at full speed. Though the wings’ black color was inconspicuous in the night sky, if people on the ground did notice Vandalieu, perhaps they would faint in terror.
“Vandalieu-sama, are you planning to go beyond creating legends and start creating myths?” asked Eleanora.
“It’s nothing as exaggerated as that,” said Vandalieu. “There are lots of flaws, too.”
“As a method of transport, it is indeed inferior to the Teleportation spell of the space attribute,” said Eleanora. “But even so –”
“No, even Knochen could do this much,” said Vandalieu. “At the very least, it would be able to fly while carrying everyone here.”
“Th-that’s true, but…”
“And you know, even if you consider the fact that no other people could do this, it doesn’t give me any additional options in the future other than spending my days running a delivery business.”
Indeed, since no other person was capable of this, even if one were to tell Vandalieu to do it in a way that other people could replicate it, it would be impossible.
“And there are flaws to this. To fly like this, I need multiple instances of Parallel Thought Processing and High-speed Thought Processing, and it consumes a lot of Mana,” Vandalieu explained. “And since I can’t handle tight turns, fighting in the air is impossible.”
He had only tried it out as a method of transportation in the first place, so he supposed that this was how it was.
“But it consumes much less Mana than the Flight spell, so it’s not unusable,” he added. “Ah, we’re almost at the city, so I’ll be descending now.”
And so, Vandalieu and his companions made the journey between the Seventh Cultivation Village and the city, which would normally take three days, in a single night.
Of course, they had passed by Froto, the man disguised as a priest of Alda who had left the village before them, along the way.
Incidentally, Kanata was currently using his stolen carriage to head towards a city to the north, past the duchy’s capital. The next morning, he would be surprised to see that the distance between himself and Vandalieu displayed by his Target Radar changed significantly within a single night.
『The level of the Spirit Form skill has increased!』
The city of Niarki.
Until the cultivation project began, it had been a city on the southern tip of the Hartner Duchy for over a hundred years, and currently, it had returned to being the southernmost city. It had a population of ten thousand. Its lord was Viscount Niarki; this city was the capital of his region.
There was a young, white-haired boy wearing a crude eyepatch made of cloth, walking around among the crowd in this city’s marketplace.
He looked at his surroundings with an unimpressed-looking gaze before suddenly approaching a store that his eyes had stopped on.
“An apple,” he said.
“They’re one Baum each,” said the middle-aged woman standing in the store with rows of fruit.
The boy searched the inside of his cloth bag, seemingly unaccustomed to doing so, before finding a silver coin and handing it over.
The woman stared at the silver coin without blinking, and then snorted. “This is fake, isn’t it? There is no way that a brat like you would have silver coins. I don’t know if you’re a refugee or an orphan, but get lost,” she spat. But despite her words, the woman pocketed the silver coin that the boy had handed her. It seemed that she had no intention of giving it back. “What are you looking at? Hurry up and get lost! Do you want me to call the guards?!” she shouted.
Her voice caused owners of other stores and people going back and forth around the marketplace to look towards the boy, but none of them had any compassion in their eyes. They looked at him with irritation, scorn and disgust.
The boy’s expression didn’t change at all despite receiving such gazes, and he left the store quietly. He turned his body around in a natural manner and vanished.
“Hmph, what a weird brat,” said the woman who had acquired a fifty-Baum silver coin as the corners of her lips rose in a smile. She hadn’t noticed that there was now one less apple in her store.
The boy, Vandalieu, was biting into the apple in a place away from public attention. He didn’t believe that he had stolen it, as the woman had received fifty times the correct amount in payment.
“This city is wild,” he murmured.
He had thought that his appearance wasn’t dirty, but the cloth that he was wearing over his eye to conceal the fact that he was a Dhampir apparently gave the impression that he was a refugee or an orphan with no parents.
It was possible that his long hair covering his pointed ears only further strengthened that impression. Well, even if his ears were seen, people might assume that he was a half-Elf orphan.
The thing that shocked him was that the refugees were hated in the city more than he had imagined. It seemed that the people of the city blamed the refugees for the things they were dissatisfied about.
Indeed, ever since the refugees had come from the Sauron Duchy, the economy had worsened, the taxes had become harsher and public order had deteriorated. There were more positions for day-to-day work than before, and the refugees were competing for these jobs with the people who had always lived in the city.
Vandalieu had no intention of unconditionally taking the refugees’ side; he did think that the deteriorating public order and competition over work was problematic for the people who had always lived in the Hartner Duchy.
However, the reason for the economy being worse and the taxes becoming harsher was because the Hartner Duchy was putting effort into increasing its military presence, as it was now the frontline in the war against the Amid Empire since Sauron Duchy had been captured.
If the people were dissatisfied with that, they shouldn’t be blaming the refugees but the politicians who had lost the war and the Amid Empire who had attacked.
It wasn’t logical for them to blame anything else.
“The youngsters of these days are quick to torment the weak.”
“That bitch, that woman at the fruit store, I’ll curse her to death! So give me Manaaaa!”
“Anyhow, the lord of the region has been acting strange lately; it was only yesterday that… Huh? Perhaps it was actually ten years ago?”
“The password is, ‘ale and moba bean stirfry.’ They’ll tell you that they’re out, but ignore them and repeat the same order one more time. Then you’ll be able to meet the people from the Fangs of Dark Nights.”
“Hihihi, if you want to have good dreams, I recommend the ‘Indigo Legs’ to the west; they have plenty of good prostitutes there.”
“I see,” said Vandalieu. The moment he asked to hear more about this city and the Hartner Duchy, the spirits had begun talking noisily.
As he listened to them, Vandalieu thought about the discrimination against the refugees, which was to the point that human rights organizations and the media would have a field day if it was happening on earth. Why do people feel the desire discriminate against other people of the same nation? he wondered. It was a problem that had been present on Earth and in Origin as well, but –
“Ah, I see. For the people of the city… for the people of the Hartner Duchy, the refugees from the Sauron Duchy aren’t people from the same nation.”
In this world, where making journeys was dangerous even if using highways, it was common for people to spend their entire lives in the villages or cities that they were born in. For them, their societies were those villages and cities. People coming from outside those villages and cities were essentially ‘outsiders,’ equivalent to being foreigners.
And the Orbaume Kingdom was a nation that was made up of a collection of smaller nations. Each duchy was one of the nations that had existed since the Kingdom’s foundation.
Because of this, even for those involved in politics, their fellow countrymen were only the people of their duchies, and those from other duchies were foreigners.
To the people of the Hartner Duchy, the people of the Sauron Duchy were not people from the same nation.
“At this rate, the people of the cultivation villages will have a hard future ahead of them,” said Vandalieu.
Even the apple that Vandalieu was taking his second bite of shocked him.
To summarize its flavor in one word, it was ‘disappointing.’
It did taste like an apple, but it wasn’t good enough to be put on the shelves in the supermarkets of Earth. It was neither sweet nor sour; even its texture was lacking.
It was a failure when compared to a Kobol fruit.
But it wasn’t that this apple was inferior. It was that the Kobol fruit was outstanding.
The flavor that Vandalieu remembered was the flavor of apples in Japan, on Earth. Despite nobody having given Kobol fruits any assistance, they contained flavor in their flesh that could rival the flavor of apples that farmers had spent a great deal of effort in selectively breeding.
Considering that, Vandalieu now understood why Kobol fruits sold for ten Amids each, or ten Baums in the Orbaume Kingdom.
“Leaving that aside, I’ll sneak into the Mages’ Guild tonight and look for an old spirit,” he decided. “There are apparently items with history in the Mages’ Guild, commonly known as cursed items. There should at least be one old, evil spirit or vengeful spirit.”
Ah, I’ve been talking to myself a lot. I shouldn’t be acting alone after all, Vandalieu thought as he walked off, still munching on the disappointing apple.
Somewhere along his way, he got into a fight with a hoodlum who had followed him after seeing him produce a silver coin in the marketplace, but the hoodlum didn’t know anything about Princess Levia and the other Titans, either. The hoodlum’s blood did taste better than the apple, however.
In the archives of the small Mages’ Guild branch of the city of Niarki, there was a magical tome that had been sealed away, feared to be a ‘cursed, forbidden tome.’
It was a cursed item, said to contain forbidden knowledge that granted power to those who read it, but at the cost of their sanity, changing them to have cruel personalities.
According to one theory, the tome contained not forbidden knowledge, but an evil god whose powers had been robbed from him, sealed inside the tome, entering the minds of those who read the book and brainwashing them in an attempt to remove the seal.
That theory was ninety percent true.
“Hihi, it seems that another fool has opened me.”
Buburdura, the Evil God of the Magic Tome whose power had been robbed from him, felt joy stirring in his heart. In the past, he had been defeated by Farmaun Gold and lost his power. He transformed himself into a book and now, he was seeking ‘readers’ in order to restore his power.
By possessing and manipulating the ‘readers’ that opened and read him, he absorbed their power like a leech to regain his own.
“I have finally recovered half of my power. Tonight, I shall seize the body of this fool, turn him into my possessed servant and use him as a foothold towards my full recovery,” he told himself.
With a thud, the pages fluttered open. Not letting this moment escape him, Buburdura flew into the mind of this ‘reader.’
“Now then, I shall manipulate you, just as I have done to all of the foolish prey who have come before you!”
The body of Buburdura’s will, which resembled an ugly combination between an arthropod and a mollusk, extended its tentacles into the center of the mind of the ‘reader.’
Resistance would be completely impossible; Buburdura’s mind would violate the reader’s mind in an overwhelming manner. At least, the evil god had assumed that this would happen, as this was how things had gone up until now.
“Muh? What is the meaning of this; I cannot reach it?”
No matter how much Buburdura extended his tentacles, he couldn’t reach the memories and personality that he wanted to tamper with. Flustered, he extended his tentacles as far as they could go, but even so, only a few of them barely managed to touch something at all.
And the thing that he touched caused him deep bewilderment as well.
“What is this? Why are things like this? Impossible; why does it have this structure? Is this reader really someone from this world?” he wondered.
Buburdura had invaded the minds of hundreds, thousands of people. In a way, he was an expert when it came to minds. To his knowledge and experience, there were no people with minds like this.
It was unsystematic.
Things that were supposed to be in certain places weren’t; instead, there were things with completely different shapes that weren’t supposed to be there at all.
If comparing it to a person’s body, it was as if a small intestine in the shape of a liver had been packed into the place where the brain was supposed to be; it was completely incomprehensible.
It was as bizarre as a castle forcibly built from random junk.
As Buburdura came to this conclusion, a terrifying possibility rose in his mind.
“That is right; I have heard that after the Demon King-sama broke the souls of the four champions, some god gathered their fragments together and forcibly joined them into a single soul. If something were to break that soul again… Hyih?!”
Buburdura realized something, mid-sentence. There was a deep opening above his head. And as the opening moved, he let out a scream of terror.
The opening widened a little, revealing an enormous eye.
Buburdura saw himself reflected in its dull, mud-like pupil.
A noise that sounded like fragments of metal scraping against each other echoed from behind him.
He turned around immediately to see that there was a deep crack there as well. A tongue far thicker and more terrifying than Buburdura’s tentacles extended from the crack towards him.
He screamed again.
The tongue wrapped around Buburdura, the Evil God of the Magic Tome, and crushed him.
Buburdura finally understood the meaning of the noise that he hadn’t been able to hear properly. It had said, “How itchy*.”
And so, the evil god whom Farmaun Gold had failed to defeat, who had hidden for a hundred thousand years while slurping up the minds of his victims and was finally about to make a recovery, was destroyed by a certain ‘reader’ who had made a casual attack, as if merely brushing away a winged insect that had stopped on his neck.
Having turned the ground into Golems and used Golem Transmutation to dig a tunnel in order to infiltrate the Mages’ Guild from underground, Vandalieu investigated inside, searching for spirits. He found some spirits. But unfortunately, they were old and on the brink of being extinguished, had no interest in anything other than magic even after death, or had gone mad, becoming unable to speak in coherent sentences. None of them knew about the First Princess Levia.
The spirits in the city didn’t know anything either; would it be better if I asked people who are alive? But it’s questionable as to whether the people of this city would give me honest answers.
Though he was worried about this matter, he was also searching the archives for any forbidden techniques that could be used for Darcia’s resurrection. Suddenly, a mage’s spirit informed him that there was a single forbidden tome in the archives.
It was apparently an evil tome that granted those who read it great power, in exchange for also bestowing upon them a destiny of ruin.
Intrigued, Vandalieu used death-attribute magic to remove the seal that had been placed on the tome and tried holding the tome in his hands.
“… I do feel an ominous presence, but it’s not really that big a deal?”
Though he could feel Mana, there was only a feeble reaction from Danger Sense: Death; he could only think of the book as unimportant.
It was such an unthreatening forbidden tome that Vandalieu wondered if it was the metal reinforcements on its corners that were supposed to be dangerous.
Thinking that there wouldn’t be much to expect, Vandalieu opened the forbidden tome to find that its pages were filled with figures resembling geometric shapes rather than written characters.
“Huh, I can’t read this. I don’t think that these would grant power… Hmm?”
As Vandalieu thought about this, he suddenly felt an unpleasant, itching sensation.
『Your Mana has increased by 50,000,000!』
『The Mental Corruption skill has transformed into the Grotesque Mind skill!』
『You have acquired the Body Expansion (Tongue) and Mental Encroachment skills!』
『The levels of the Superhuman Strength, Rapid Healing, Magic Resistance, Soul Break, God Slayer, Body Expansion (Tongue) and Grotesque Mind skills have increased!』
For some reason, Vandalieu gained additional Mana, new skills and his skills leveled up.
Though he was surprised, he checked his Status to find that everything was as the announcer in his head had said.
“I see, I definitely acquired power, but…?”
If simply reading the book was enough to grant 50,000,000 Mana, it certainly was great power for normal people. It was the equivalent to the Mana pools of five thousand first-rate mages; it wouldn’t be strange for them to lose themselves in it and bring ruin upon themselves.
The unique skill called ‘Grotesque Mind’ seemed dangerous.
But why had the Soul Break and God Slayer skills leveled up? The Mental Corruption skill had transformed into a unique skill for some reason as well.
“And most importantly, what is this ‘Body Expansion (Tongue)’? I can expand my tongue? Ah, it expanded.”
Vandalieu tried sticking his tongue out of his mouth to find that it could stretch outwards. There wasn’t any pain or unpleasant, stiff sensation. As naturally as bending and stretching his limbs, Vandalieu could stretch his tongue to a length of less than a meter, but longer than his arms.
He could even move it with complete freedom.
He could bend it like a snake or extend it quickly, like when a frog used its tongue to catch insects. He could probably even wrap it around a pen and use it to write. It was as if he had gained an extra hand.
“… Sharp Tongue.”
He tried using the ‘martial skill’ that used his tongue to pierce the target to find that it functioned normally. Its range was far shorter than when he had sent his tongue flying, but with this, he would be able to use it multiple times in quick succession.
Vandalieu didn’t know what the Mental Encroachment and Grotesque Mind skills were, but he had indeed gained power. He didn’t know what would become of the destiny of ruin that he was supposed to receive along with it.
“All of the people who have read this forbidden tome, did they all gain the ability to extend their tongues as well? If that caused them to be treated like freaks and made them fail in their relationships with others and their work, that really would be a destiny of ruin, I guess?”
On Earth, someone with the ability to stretch their tongues to a length of a meter would be considered freaks, and many would think they were creepy. Making a note of being careful of this happening to him, Vandalieu returned the forbidden tome to its shelf.
It would take Vandalieu a long time to realize that the soul of a foolish evil god had essentially thrown himself into his stomach, granting him the evil god’s Mana and a part of his power.
But not as long as it would take the Mages’ Guild branch of Niarki to notice that the forbidden tome had turned into an ordinary bundle of paper.
A skill that represents having a different mental structure from normal people. Spells, special abilities and drugs that affect the mind are completely ineffective against those who possess this skill.
But this skill doesn’t mean that the person possessing it is emotionless.
Among people, Vandalieu is the only one to possess this unique skill. A portion of beings that came from other worlds, such as evil gods, as well as those extraordinarily similar to them, also possess this skill.
A skill that allows the user to affect the mind and alter the personality, perceptions and memories of the target. In order to use it, some kind of communication, such as direct contact, conversation or eye contact, is required.
Using this skill through indirect methods, such as having the target read a written letter or hear a recorded voice, is also possible.
In Buburdura’s case, the condition for the skill’s activation was the target reading the pages of the forbidden tome that was his body.
Vandalieu is currently unable to use this skill against living people like Buburdura, who could directly enter the target’s mind and soul to conduct his brainwashing.
However, he is able to exert tremendous effects on the dead.
A skill that allows the user to stretch or shrink a part of the body or the entire body. The distance the body part can be stretched depends on the level.
Level 1 in the skill allows extension to twice the original body part’s length; level 2 allows four times the original length and level 3 allows eight times.
Though the body parts can stretch and shrink, they do not gain rubber-like properties.
There are no people who possess this skill.