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The Death Mage that doesn't want a fourth time 83

by Densuke


Yoshi (Translator), Kage and Sebas Tian (Editors)


Timothy H. ($100)
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The difference between making requests and making a selection


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In the residential area for the slaves inside the walls of the slave-run mine… in the village of slaves, the most important, decision-making figures among the Titan slaves had gathered together.

Normally, there would be eyes observing the residential area and the Titans would never be allowed to gather together unless instructed, so that they couldn’t plot rebellions. But all of the soldiers that were posted as guards right now were behaving like dolls.

“Levia-sama… isn’t that Levia-sama?”

“Yes, she looks a little different from how I remember, but there is no mistake. How could I mistake Levia-sama for anyone else?”

“So, it was true that you would bring Levia-sama here…”

Seeing the Titans’ eyes open wide in blank amazement with tears streaming from them, Levia’s flames flickered in her happiness, but at the same time, her hand was placed over her chest in sadness.

“Everyone… Thank you for staying alive until this day. I failed to protect you and made you suffer,” she said.

For Titans, who had lifespans of three hundred years, two hundred years was a long time. Those who had been elderly individuals during that time had perished long ago, and most of the adults of the time were also gone. Those who had been children back then were now adults.

Until the age of fifteen, Titans age at about the same rate as humans, and after that, they age slowly, their bodies reaching their peaks at around the age of two hundred. From the age of two hundred and fifty onwards, they start growing physically old. For this reason, few Titans actually have an aged appearance.

“It’s fine; everything is Duke Hartner’s fault, the one who betrayed us. Levia-sama, you kept us in your thoughts even after you died, didn’t you? That is more than enough for us.”

“And you’re helping us like this now. That’s more than enough. Nobody, not my mother, not my grandfather, not my younger brother, would blame you, Levia-sama.”

The Titans were all extremely thin and had bad complexions. Many of them still had whip-marks and burns remaining on their arms, legs and faces.

Their treatment at the mine had been somewhat mild compared to how other criminal slaves were treated, but they were still treated cruelly; the soldiers had done whatever they wanted, thinking, “It’s fine as long as they don’t die,” and, “It doesn’t matter if one or two of them die.”

In fact, all of the elderly had died early, and quite a few of the women and children had also died because they were unable to endure this treatment.

Their spirits hadn’t been sealed away magically by anything like a champion’s barrier; many of them had already vanished from the mine long ago.

“I don’t know how you did it, but the soldiers watching over us are like dolls right now, and you’ve brought Levia-sama to us,” said Gopher, Borkus’s daughter. “Everything you said was true. I couldn’t believe the words of a midget like you at first, but… then, does that mean that it’s true that you’re going to rescue us from this mine, Van…?”

“It’s Vandalieu, Gopher-san,” said Vandalieu. “I don’t mind if you call me ‘kid’ like Borkus does, though.”

He had blended in among the slaves and used the Mental Encroachment skill to reduce all of the soldiers into vegetative states, one by one.

“But please don’t call me ‘midget,’” he added. “I’m overly conscious about that.”

Races like Titans and Beast-people had a sense of values where they believed that size was equivalent to strength and being small meant being weak. Even if this weren’t the case, Vandalieu, who was small even compared to other children of the same age, probably looked unreliable to the Titans whose women could reach heights of 2.5m.

Death-Attribute Charm wasn’t working after all; communication with living people was difficult.

I’m really glad I brought Princess Levia here, Vandalieu thought.

Gopher gave him a wry smile. “It’s just like that Oyaji to be so energetic even when he’s dead,” she laughed. “I won’t be calling you ‘kid.’ Levia-sama is calling you ‘Your Majesty,’ so isn’t it strange for me to call you that?”

“You don’t have to worry about that,” said Vandalieu. “Anyway, at this point, I’m thinking about freeing everyone from this mine.”

“But that’s not as simple as it sounds, is it?” asked Gopher. “We have slave collars on our necks.”

Slave collars, collars of servitude – they have various different names, but they are Magic Items that ensure that slaves do not disobey the wills of their masters.

If slaves try to cause harm to their masters or make an escape, the collars cause them suffering by suffocating them or releasing an electrical shock.

There are numerous ways of removing them, but the masters’ approval isn’t the only thing that is needed. In addition, normal curse-breaking spells cannot undo them; special spells are required, but they are kept secret.

“You won’t be able to remove them even if you defeat the governor of this mine,” said Gopher. “Even you couldn’t simply –”

“I can remove them,” said Vandalieu.

Before he could even hear the Titans surprised cries, he released black death-attribute mana that surrounded Gopher’s collar, which unfastened with a click.

“N-no way…”

Gopher and the other Titans were dumbfounded as the heavy collar hit the floor loudly, but Vandalieu had previously used his Mana to brute-force his way through a seal left by a champion. Something like this was simple for him.

“H-how many times can you do that in one day?” Gopher asked. “There are over five hundred of us in total.”

“It costs about a thousand Mana for each person, so I can handle three hundred thousand peoples’ worth and still have some left over,” said Vandalieu.

“You can really do it?!”

“Sorry, but time is also a problem, so it would help if you kept that number below ten thousand.”

“Alright, I understand, you can really free all of us within the day, right! With this, we can fight!” shouted another Titan.

“Everyone, His Majesty is a little shy,” said Levia. “And the soldiers standing guard are all allies, but if your voices are too loud…”

“I know, Levia-sama! So, what should we do?! When are we going to rise to action?!”

“For weapons, just pick up the pickaxes and shovels we normally use, hell, even grab a rock! I’m sure those tools and rocks will feel lighter than they’ve ever felt before!”

“Those bastards, I’ll teach them a lesson!”

The Titans were excited about being freed from their unjust imprisonment and finally having a chance to retaliate. Although Vandalieu looked expressionless, he was actually flustered, unable to find a good time to chime in.

But he managed to open his mouth now. “Umm… Tonight, in the middle of the night,” he said.

“I see, tonight… wait, hang on a second. That’s too early.”

Although it was too early to be called ‘the middle of the night,’ the sun had already set completely. There wasn’t enough time to free all the slaves and begin an uprising.

If they went on a rampage with no plan, the soldiers would cause severe casualties among the slaves, who were significantly inferior to them when it came to combat. And it wasn’t as if all of the slaves would join the uprising immediately.

“There are slaves who have already given up on everything, unlike us,” said Gopher. “We need time to convince them. Even if they don’t need to join us, we need to ask them to stay hidden… You’re not planning to use the same method on them as you did on those soldiers to turn them into dolls, are you?”

The moment Gopher raised this question, suspicion appeared on the faces of the other Titans. It couldn’t be helped; it would be stranger if they didn’t feel fear for Vandalieu, who had shown himself capable of reducing people into vegetative states in less than an hour.

This was a very healthy reaction, so Vandalieu didn’t pay any attention to it.

“No, I won’t be doing anything like that,” he told them. “But we’ll be carrying out this plan in the middle of the night. There won’t be any problems.”

“Like I said, there’s not enough time if we do that,” said Gopher.

“Not at all; there’s plenty of time,” Vandalieu reassured her. “We will have occupied this mine by the early morning tomorrow. It won’t matter if some people don’t help us; everything will be done by the people I’ve called here.”

“W-what did you say?!”

The Titans were dumbfounded. They did believe that Vandalieu had come to rescue them. But they had been under the assumption that he would require their cooperation as well.

However, Vandalieu didn’t need their cooperation at all. He had declared that no matter what the Titans thought of him, he had decided on a time and would occupy the mine with his own strength.

So then, why had the Titans gathered here beforehand?

This was what Gopher and the others were wondering now.

But Levia answered this question. “We want everyone to stay where they are tonight,” she said. “And after that, you must decide whether you wish to become citizens of the new Talosheim or not.”

 

 

 

The slave-run mine, which had been as sturdy as a fort, quietly surrendered and was occupied by the time the morning sun rose.

The soldiers’ dinner had been poisoned. The soldiers had consumed their food without noticing the odorless, tasteless poison and entered comatose states in their beds.

There had been a very small number of soldiers with resistance skills who realized that something was wrong and tried to tell this to their colleagues who were still on their feet, but those colleagues… the ones that Vandalieu had turned into dolls, took them by surprise and restrained them.

Viscount Besser, who had been sleeping, as well as his knights and servants, were all captured alive.

And the soldiers who had been positioned on the outer walls as lookouts couldn’t do anything even after realizing that something was strange about the rest of the soldiers.

“Th-there is an armed force approaching!”

“Those are Titans… Hyih! Undead Titans!”

With a terrifying roar, Borkus and the others charged in from the front of the mine at a speed surprising for their size.

The lookouts blew their horns and rang their bells to indicate a state of emergency, but none responded. No, some did respond, but this was not the response that they had desired.

“We’re going to slaughter you all anyway, so entertain us as you die! Steel Cutter!”

“ARMOR BREAKEEEER!”

“Iron Pierce!”

Borkus and the other Undead Titans unleashed martial skills, one after another, against the outer wall. The wall and gate were cut, broken and pierced through as if they were made of tofu.

They found amusement in seeing the soldiers being sent flying alongside the pieces of rubble.

 

 

 

And so, the next morning, Borkus and the others, who had reduced the outer wall and soldiers who had been watching them into ruins…

“… There’s something lacking,” Borkus murmured, scratching his exposed cheekbone as he looked down at Viscount Besser’s soldiers and a hundred or so civilians, who were bound and unconscious.

“If you enjoyed yourself to your heart’s content, this mine would have turned into a wasteland, wouldn’t it?” Vandalieu pointed out.

“I wouldn’t be that wild,” Borkus protested. “I’d at least leave some rubble behind.”

“I was planning to kill all of the soldiers right from the beginning, but it would have been problematic if you didn’t at least leave the buildings behind,” Vandalieu told him.

“Hahaha! You’re right about that!”

Vandalieu gave a nod as Borkus laughed. Hearing their conversation, half of the former slaves looked fearful.

“Your face has changed, but you’re still acting like a kid as always, Oyaji,” said Gopher, showing no signs of fear. She gave a wry smile as she looked at Borkus, who had become half-bone.

Borkus looked at her and stopped laughing. “I’m sorry for lying,” he said.

“Are you talking about your promise to repel the Mirg shield-nation and chase them back?” asked Gopher. “Nobody took that seriously.”

“But you know, we left you guys for two hundred years even after we died.”

“It’s fine. I’ve heard from Levia-sama and His Majesty over here that you protected Zandia-sama and the others, and the goddess’s legacy beneath the castle.”

“That’s what I was trying to do, but…”

The reality was that a wrist was all that remained of Zandia, and it hadn’t been Borkus who protected the goddess’s legacy, but the cursed ice that had sealed it away.

“It’s nothing to beat yourself up over,” said Gopher, giving her father a clap on his cold back. “Don’t be showing me that disheartened face, it’s not like you. I can’t introduce you to your grandchildren like this, can I?”

“G-grandchildren?” Borkus repeated. “Did you say grandchildren?! I have grandchildren?!”

“Yeah, three of them,” said Gopher. “I can only introduce you to two of them, and I can’t tell you who the father is, but…”

The female slaves had been treated as playthings by the soldiers. Contraceptives were expensive in this world; they weren’t things that slaves could use.

That was how things were.

“I see…” Borkus looked at Vandalieu. “Kid?”

Vandalieu shook his head. Almost none of the spirits of those who had died in the mine were still around. In the world of Lambda, Undead could appear. In a mine where slaves were worked to death one after another, a priest was present, and not only for treating the soldiers and regular workers. The priest would also purify the spirits of the dead.

There were none among the spirits who called themselves Gopher’s child.

“I see… No, it’s fine,” said Borkus. “I’m sure they went to where the goddess is, rather than to that good-for-nothing* god. I did pray a lot, after all…”

TLN*: “Good for nothing” is ロクデナシ/rokudenashi. Could be intentionally similar to Rodcorte’s name.

 

“You’re right…” said Vandalieu.

All around him, he could hear the voices of the Undead Titans and the slaves crying out in joy over their reunion, as well as voices of grief as they mourned over those who were no longer here.

I can’t kill Heinz, and I can’t revive or make Undead out of those who have already returned to the circle of transmigration. I’m still powerless after all, thought Vandalieu.

Of course, Vandalieu wanted to change the former, but he wanted to do something about the latter as well. As these thoughts ran through his mind, he thought it was about time and gave Levia a signal.

“Everyone,” she said, addressing the Titans. “We will return to Talosheim alongside His Majesty. Please decide whether you will come with us or go on a separate path.”

Gopher and the other refugees from Talosheim were relatives of Borkus, Zran and everyone else, so of course, the Undead Titans wanted to take them back to Talosheim. However, that would mean coming to a nation where Vandalieu ruled as king. As such, their desires had to be confirmed as well.

“Talosheim is currently a nation of Undead and Ghouls ruled by His Majesty Vandalieu, as well as the monsters that he has tamed,” Levia continued. “I believe that many things will be different from how they were in the past. I, too, am considerably different from how I was when I was alive. There are also many enemies. The Hartner Duchy would never let us be if they were to find out about us, and the Amid Empire, including the Mirg shield-nation, still desires our annihilation. There are also Pure-breed Vampires who worship an evil god, targeting His Majesty. And there will only be more enemies in the future.”

“Of course, we will fight the enemies,” Vandalieu added. “Last year, we repelled the Mirg shield-nation’s expedition army of six thousand. If you have any requests, I will listen to them. But that does not mean that I am capable of doing anything. Everything has its limits. If you can accept this, then please come to my nation.”

The current Talosheim had many enemies and its laws were borrowed. It was a nation full of problems. It wasn’t a place that Vandalieu could proudly declare to be an ideal land or paradise.

Things would probably be fine for a while. But one day, Talosheim could be attacked by those reincarnating in Lambda with full knowledge of Vandalieu’s death-attribute magic or Heinz’s party who would be far stronger than they were now. One day, gods like Alda, the god of law and fate, or Yupeon, the god of ice, might descend upon this world and lead an army of tens of thousands of mighty, superhuman individuals and march on Talosheim.

That was the kind of nation that they were being told to come to, so asking them first was only natural.

That was what Vandalieu thought.

But Gopher’s reply was, “What are you saying? Isn’t it obvious that we’re going to come with you? I’m grateful to you for saving us, and I was even able to meet Oyaji again. Also, since you had the strength to take over this mine, I’m sure things will be fine.”

“It’s not like I don’t have any misgivings when you say that it’s a nation of Undead and monsters, but Oyaji-dono and the others haven’t changed at all from when they were alive, other than their outward appearances. I believe in you.”

“And even if we went our separate paths, there’s nowhere for us to live in this duchy… no, in this kingdom.”

It seemed that all of the former refugees would come back to Talosheim.

“Thank you, everyone,” said Levia, looking delighted.

Leaving the explanation of future plans to her, Vandalieu headed towards the next group.

Other than the Titans, there were two other kinds of slaves in the mine. There was a group of criminal slaves and a group made up of the slaves who had been brought here after nobody had purchased them elsewhere, as well as those from the First Cultivation Village.

It really was a plan to simply leave these people to fend for themselves… should I have made the castle sink more and tilt at more of an angle? Vandalieu wondered as he headed towards the group of criminal slaves.

Their slave collars hadn’t been removed and they had been restrained, just like the soldiers, and Vandalieu had made the doll-like soldiers watch over them. They were formerly fiendish criminals, so Vandalieu couldn’t let down his guard.

Some of them were those who had been brought to this mine only a couple of days ago; there were many who still had their willpower and stamina.

“You heard what I said, didn’t you?” Vandalieu asked them. “Now then, I’m going to make a selection.”

“… Don’t we have any right to decide?” asked a bearded slave with scars on his face.

Vandalieu looked at those around him as he answered. “You do have a right to decide,” he said. “But I have the right to decide whether or not to accept your decision. Even if your crimes were committed in another nation, I have no intention of welcoming evil criminals.”

These criminals had been exploited by the Hartner Duchy that had done horrific things to Talosheim, but that didn’t make them good people.

Vandalieu had no intention of bringing them to Talosheim unless they had some extraordinary circumstances.

“I see,” said the bearded slave. “Then I’ll bid you farewell here. Won’t you at least let me take some of the soldiers’ equipment and the food in the dining hall as a farewell gift?”

“Very well,” said Vandalieu. “Hannah-san, he wants to bid farewell to this world.”

“What?!” shouted the slave. “Wait a second, I didn’t choose anything like –”

“Okay. I understand~♪”

The scarred man screamed as the Flame Ghost Hannah enveloped him, surrounding him in flames. Before long, he collapsed and stopped moving.

“Alright, next person –” Vandalieu began.

“W-wait a second! What are you playing at?!”

“Why did you burn him to death?! He didn’t disobey you or demand that you give him money, right?!”

The criminal slaves were shocked and frightened.

Vandalieu blinked at them a few times before answering. “I did say that I have the right to decide whether to accept your decision, didn’t I? Based on that right, I decided that I wouldn’t accept that person’s decision,” he said.

“S-so then, why did you kill him?!”

“I mean, if I gave a former bandit weapons and food and set him free and then he returned to being a bandit and harmed more people, I’d feel bad for his future victims.”

The spirits of those who had died at the mine had been purified by the priest, but the spirits haunting the criminal slaves were still there. Thus, Vandalieu was able to tell which of them were evil people by listening to the spirits behind them.

Vandalieu had given up on the Hartner Duchy, but he wouldn’t consider releasing evil people into the wild. And if he did let evil people go free here, they might cause trouble for the nearest place where people lived, the cultivation villages.

“B-but what if we reform after being saved by you –”

“I haven’t saved you criminal slaves,” said Vandalieu. “You’re just extras that happened to come along with saving the relatives of Borkus and the others. I’m simply deciding whether to take you with me or discard you here.”

Vandalieu wasn’t trying to become a protector of the weak or a liberator of slaves. His objective was only the rescue of Talosheim’s refugees.

For him, these criminal slaves were nothing more than those who happened to be involved in that process. Leaving them alive would probably cause harm, so Vandalieu would kill them and make use of them, along with the soldiers of the mine.

“A-alright! I’m going to follow you and do whatever you tell me! I’ll definitely be useful!”

“Then please burn to death,” said Vandalieu. “Aria-san, please go ahead.

“Okay, look over here~”

“GYAAAAAAH! WHYYYYYYYYYY?!”

“I mean, it would be troublesome if a serial robber, rapist and murderer were to come with me,” said Vandalieu.

The women of Talosheim would probably twist the necks of a sex offender with ease, but it would be bad for Pauvina and the other girls to see that.

“Now then, next –”

“W-wait! I’m fine with being a slave, I won’t ask you to set me free, but please spare me being burned to death!” the third man begged, skillfully managing to press his forehead against the ground despite being bound. There were no spirits behind him; it was possible that he wasn’t an evil criminal.

“Incidentally, under what charges were you turned into a slave?” Vandalieu asked him.

“S-stealing,” said the man. “I entered an inn to steal something and saw a valuable item… and it just happened to be something belonging to someone related to a nobleman…”

Vandalieu thought that sending someone to the mines for stealing was a bit of a heavy punishment for the crime, but it was certainly possible if the person being stolen from was related to a nobleman.

“Then please work hard in Talosheim for a while,” he said. “But if you try steal things in Talosheim as well, things will go horribly for you.”

Vandalieu would have him work in Talosheim for a year, and if there were no problems, he would be set free. The noblemen of the Hartner Duchy weren’t noblemen of Talosheim, so things would probably be fine like that.

“Yes… Heheh! I shall do my best to serve you in humility!”

Vandalieu gave a nod towards the man who had skillfully managed to fall prostrate while bound, delighted that he wouldn’t have to die. And then Vandalieu shifted his gaze to the next criminal slave.

“I don’t want to follow you, you creepy corpse-user. So if you’re going to kill me, do it with your own hands rather than dirtying the hands of your subordinates.”

“Eh?”

“What’s wrong, you can’t do it after all? Oi, you Titans! Even if you follow this guy, he’s just going to work you to death! So come with us and – what are you –” The man began choking.

Vandalieu used both hands to grab the head of the man who had tried to stir up the Titans, used Surpass Limits and twisted it 180 degrees, destroying his cervical vertebrae.

I didn’t want to kill with my own hands because I won’t get Experience Points that way, Vandalieu thought with a sigh as he looked down at the man’s face and back before throwing him aside.

“Now then, next –”

After that, the criminal slaves, having learned from these examples, seemed to have decided that being taken away and remaining as slaves was the best option for them.

Of course, even then, Vandalieu disposed of those who were evil people.

The former-slave Titans watched with stiff expressions as Vandalieu, having finished making a selection of the criminal slaves, headed towards the former inhabitants of the First Cultivation Village.

“J-just as he appears, he’s not normal.”

Seeing Vandalieu burn people alive and twist someone’s neck with his own hands without a single change in his facial expression, they made changes to their impressions of him.

“I didn’t really think of him as a liberator of slaves or anything like that, but…” Gopher murmured.

“Really? He was actually considerate enough to make it less frightening for us,” said Borkus.

“He was?!”

“Yeah, the reason he twisted that guy’s neck earlier was so that he wouldn’t show you guys the blood.”

“… Then I’d like him to do something about the smell, too…”

Of course, the smell of the burnt flesh of the criminal slaves was floating about. The Titans were quite far away, so it was bearable, however.

“You’re right, it’s starting to make me hungry,” said Borkus.

Gopher almost responded to her father’s remark with, “Exactly,” but managed to stop herself and stiffened. She did a double-take as she looked at Borkus’s face before looking towards Levia.

Levia looked up, as if wondering what was wrong. Gopher then realized that Borkus and Levia had changed more since they were alive than she had previously thought.

“I suppose I have no choice but to just think of Oyaji and Levia-sama having been reborn as slightly different races and get used to it,” she told herself. “But you really gave birth to a crazy son.”

“… Are you talking to me?” Eleanora blinked as she turned around after Gopher’s sudden remark, which had been directed at her.

“Yeah, you’re His Majesty’s mother, aren’t you?” said Gopher. “Vampires really do look young; I’m jealous.”

“No!” Having realized that she had been mistaken for Vandalieu’s mother because he was a Dhampir and she was a Vampire, Eleanora was indignant in her denial. “I am Vandalieu-sama’s servant; his mother is Darcia-sama!”

I want to eat some barbecued meat, Vandalieu thought as he finished talking to everyone from the First Cultivation Village, his hunger having been stimulated by the pleasant smell of burning flesh.

They were quite fearful of Vandalieu, but in the end, they had decided to come to Talosheim. Even if they stayed in the Hartner Duchy, there was nowhere for them to live.

If they were caught, they would be executed at worst or become slaves again at best. It would be a long journey if they wanted to escape to another duchy. Thus, following Vandalieu would give them the greatest chances of survival.

“I don’t mind remaining as a slave, but if you could treat us a little better than we have been treated up until now…”

“Oh no, we will welcome you as normal people… as free citizens,” Vandalieu promised. “Since you’re not criminals, I have no reason to turn you into slaves.”

The young man who called himself the village chief’s son had become completely used to serving others after living as a slave, but Vandalieu stopped him from lowering his head.

Eleanora, having cleared up the misunderstanding about the matter of Vandalieu’s mother, whispered in Vandalieu’s ear. “Are you sure you wish to bring them with us just as they are?” she asked. “They may betray you in the future, Vandalieu-sama.”

There was no way for Vandalieu to restrain the actions of those from the First Cultivation Village. Although Vandalieu had the ability to remove slave collars, he had no way to create new ones. Even if they were former inhabitants of the Sauron Duchy and followers of Vida’s religion, there was no guarantee that they would remain loyal to Vandalieu.

Death-Attribute Charm didn’t work on them, after all.

“Perhaps you should use Mental Encroachment to restrain them a little…” Eleanora suggested.

“No, I don’t have to go that far,” said Vandalieu. “Talosheim is a nation, not a secret society.”

He had no intention of demanding such loyalty from them.

“But… if they betrayed you in the future…”

“They might betray me in the future. That’s how people are,” said Vandalieu. “I am the king, and they are merely citizens. With that being the case, that’s how things are.”

Vandalieu felt that it would be abnormal to use brainwashing to restrain the wills of ordinary people who weren’t criminals. And if their families were taken hostage or they were promised great rewards, they could waver and betray him. That was how normal people were.

Leaving aside whether these people would really betray him, if they really did, Vandalieu would deal with it when the time came on a case-by-case basis.

But Eleanora didn’t seem satisfied, so he continued. “And you know, you haven’t betrayed me, have you, Eleanora? So it’s fine,” he said.

Eleanora’s face lit up, almost audibly. And then she embraced Vandalieu in her arms.

“Vandalieu-sama, I will never let you go!” she declared.

“… The speed at which you hug me is steadily increasing.” Being surrounded in softness that had a warmth unlike Rita and Saria’s, Vandalieu was surprised at the fact that Eleanora’s movements had no signs of hesitation or wasteful motions. He was already a user of the Unarmed Fighting Technique at such a level that he would be considered a master on Earth, but he hadn’t been able to see Eleanora’s movement at all.

Even now, her grip was superb, ensuring that Vandalieu couldn’t slip out of it.

It was a sight to behold. As Vandalieu couldn’t slip out, he asked her to carry him to the final group of slaves.

These were the slaves who had failed to sell or brought here immediately after the slave trader decided that they wouldn’t sell anywhere else. Many of them were girls so young that even brothels wouldn’t willingly buy them, and young boys who would take too long to grow enough to become useful for manual labor. They were slaves with large scars and damage to their bodies.

Their eyes were all dead-looking, and their faces were blank, as if their minds weren’t thinking of anything at all.

Normally, it would be good to confirm what the slaves wanted. Even if their ability to think and decide for themselves had weakened, it would be best to stimulate that ability and prompt them to make a recovery and make a decision of their own will.

However, the slaves all stared at Vandalieu as he approached. They exhaled, groaned and looked up at him as if they were longing for him.

It seemed that Death-Attribute Charm was working on them.

“If there is anything you want to do, anywhere you want to return to, anyone you want to kill, please tell me and I’ll think about how to proceed with those,” said Vandalieu. “If there aren’t, then please follow me. Accept what I give you, do what I tell you to do and do as you wish once you become stronger.”

As long as Death-Attribute Charm was working, confirming what they desired wouldn’t work properly. That was why Vandalieu had made it appear as if he were asking them, but then given them an order. Once their bodies and minds recovered and they learned to read, write and do arithmetic, they would become able to think for themselves even if they remained under the skill’s effects.

“Yes… I understand.”

“Goshujin-sama…”

The slaves, who were even more lifeless than the doll-like soldiers, nodded. Vandalieu would need to heal their wounds and make sure they ate properly before they moved from the mine.

Before that, the problem was dealing with one final person.

“… So, why are you here?” Vandalieu asked.

There was a man lying on the ground, his hands and feet bound. Vandalieu looked at this man through half-closed eyes – at Luciliano, the Degenerate.

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