“We managed to escape… or should we say, she let us get away?” said Edgar.
“I don’t know about that,” said Heinz. “That Pure-breed Vampire didn’t look like she was in a position to do that, either. But let’s just heal our wounds for now.”
“Yes. Diana, we’re counting on you,” said Delizah.
Heinz and his party were healing their injured bodies with Diana’s healing magic and Potions, inspecting their equipment and stripping the Magic Stone and other materials from the ‘Fighting Dog’ that they had defeated.
“With this, we’ve managed to cut through the Vampire organization that worships the Evil God of Joyful Life, but…” Jennifer murmured.
“Damn it, she was more evil than the Vampires in fairy tales,” said Heinz. “So that was a fragment of the Demon King.”
He and Jennifer seemed regretful.
“Don’t beat yourself up over it,” said Edgar. “It’s true that we let Ternecia escape, but we’ve destroyed several of the Vampires’ bases and defeated three of her close retainers. There’s no way that this is small damage for them, is there?”
“And apparently there is only one of the Five Dogs left,” Delizah added. “It seems that there is someone out there who defeated one of them.”
“We have no information on this whatsoever, so it is possible that this retainer was not exterminated by someone, but defeated during a secret feud with other Vampires,” said Diana.
As they conversed, the empty air in front of them began shining. Ternecia, who now had a strange appearance, appeared in that spot.
She screamed as her severed head, from which her spinal cord and organs were trailing like the body of a snake, attacked Heinz’s party with fangs bared. Heinz had happened to be closest to her; although he was surprised, he reflexively slashed at her with his magic sword.
With a deep cut in her head, she fell onto the ground and stopped moving.
“… Why did she come back?” Heinz felt the sensation of gaining a large quantity of Experience Points that told him that he had defeated Ternecia, which only added to his bewilderment.
His companions could only blink in confusion with him.
It would be a little while later when they realized why Ternecia had worn such a satisfied expression as she died.
With that said, Ternecia’s spirit ended up being seen by the Lemures monitoring Heinz and his party, so Vandalieu would use Spirit Communication on her later.
The offensive spell that had been released instantly struck the entrance of the cavern… the entrance of the Dungeon. But although there was a thunderous noise, not a single crack appeared in the cavern. Even if the entrances of Dungeons were made of wood or stone, it was impossible to physically destroy them. Not even gods, let alone Pure-breed Vampires, could cause any damage to them.
If destroying them was possible, Bellwood and the others would have gone around destroying every dangerous Dungeon that was mass-producing monsters after they had become heroic gods.
Looking at it the other way, the fact that the Vampires’ attacks couldn’t destroy it meant that this entrance-shaped structure was a Dungeon.
“Impossible,” Gubamon muttered. “Is that a Dungeon? Why is there such a thing here… No, more importantly, what is the Dhampir planning to do after having flown in there?”
“Gubamon… W-what happened?!” Birkyne shouted. “None of this was part of my plan! Why in the world are things like this! What happened?!”
“Damn it, calm yourself! Birkyne, this is not a time where we can leisurely wait for your temper to subside!” said Gubamon. He was reprimanding Birkyne, but even he wasn’t exactly calm.
The two of them had observed Ternecia’s battle from afar with their familiars and then come to her hideout in order to bring her down.
The three Pure-breed Vampires had been sworn friends who would work together in emergency situations. Thus, the location of Ternecia’s secret hideout had been known only to Birkyne and Gubamon.
But they had teleported here to find Ternecia not only weakened but on the verge of death, her mansion in ruins and the Dhampir holding one of Ternecia’s eyes in his hand, with Eleanora sticking out of his back.
Ternecia had made use of that moment when everyone stopped moving out of surprise in order to escape, while the Dhampir had somehow absorbed the human, female Ghosts and a Vampire who was supposed to have been Ternecia’s subordinate into his body and flown into this Dungeon.
Even these two Pure-breed Vampires who had lived since the age of the gods had no clue what was going on.
“What does this mean?” Gubamon asked. “Ternecia was cornered to the point that she had to use the Demon King’s horns, but even so, she would not easily be defeated by the average enemy. And that was Eleanora, wasn’t it? Then that means that the Dhampir –”
“Yes, that is Vandalieu,” Birkyne said, interrupting Gubamon. “The one born between your Subordinate Vampire and a Dark Elf, the one who stole my Eleanora from me. Damn it, he wasn’t working with Ternecia, he’d been planning to make use of those brats playing hero in order to kill her!” he shouted.
Gubamon hastily used his familiars to make sure, but it seemed that Heinz had indeed already finished Ternecia off.
“How could such a thing… What happened to the Demon King’s horns? The fragments are supposed to possess another nearby lifeform when their hosts die. Then does that mean that the Dhampir, Vandalieu, has acquired Ternecia’s fragment?!” Shocked, Gubamon stared at the Dungeon that Vandalieu had disappeared into.
The Demon King’s fragments didn’t simply grow stronger the more of them were gathered; in fact, there was the risk that the growth rate of the Demon King Encroachment Degree skill would accelerate. But these two Vampires still didn’t know what kind of fragment had been sealed beneath Nineland.
It was possible that Vandalieu possessed a fragment of the Demon King that was very compatible with the Demon King’s horns.
“Gubamon, just as you said, we cannot afford to waste any time. We must kill that brat now! He has at least two fragments of the Demon King, but you and I can kill him together!” said Birkyne, his fangs bared and his handsome face twisted in anger.
“You are right,” said Gubamon, feeling a sense of danger for the first time in tens of thousands of years. “The mysteries can be solved after we kill that monstrosity. I am sure he intends to ambush us inside the Dungeon, but we should teach him and that traitor that things will not go as they expect.”
Birkyne and Gubamon, having recognized that Vandalieu was not a thing to be toyed with but an enemy who could kill them, entered the Dungeon, but… of course, as Vandalieu had teleported out with the Labyrinth Construction skill, he was nowhere to be found inside.
Alda, the God of Law and Fate, had managed to gain a good idea of what Vandalieu had done in the Hartner Duchy through the memories of Pablo of the Red Wolf Knights’ Order.
“Alda, he must be exterminated right this moment!” said Curatos, the God of Records.
“If we sit and do nothing, the situation could become irreversible!” said Niltark, the God of Judgment.
But Alda shook his head.
“Do not be hasty,” said Alda. “That Dhampir… the ‘Monstrosity,’ has already returned to hiding in the southern region of the Bahn Gaia continent. We cannot even dispatch Familiar Spirits or Heroic Spirits there, let alone Spirit Clones.”
Because believers of Alda and his followers did not live in the southern region of the continent, and because the influence of the slumbering Vida was great, it was difficult for the gods to descend upon the world or directly send their subordinates into that region.
“Then send a Divine Message and start a holy war!” Niltark urged Alda.
“Niltark, that would also be a hasty move. The Dhampir has already become a ‘Monstrosity’ in both name and form. No matter how many weak soldiers we send, they will only be slaughtered horribly and turned into Undead,” said Alda.
He suspected that Vandalieu’s abilities were already equivalent to those of an S-class adventurer if the Adventurers’ Guild’s class system was used as a reference.
He hadn’t seen the fine details of Vandalieu’s battle against Ternecia, but since Vandalieu was the one who had manipulated Kinarp and his subordinates, Alda knew that there was a high chance that Vandalieu had been involved in Ternecia’s fate.
No matter how much of her strength she had exhausted in her battle against Heinz and his party, Vandalieu had reduced her to being on the verge of death. His power was unfathomable.
But the most troublesome thing was that Vandalieu led an army that would act as his hands and feet. If Vandalieu was on his own or had only a few subordinates, it would be possible for a dozen or so heroes to fight against him.
But Vandalieu had subordinates who could rival such heroes, and some of them had actually once been heroes.
And his numbers were endless. If attacked by weak soldiers, he was capable of creating as many Golems from nearby rocks or trees as he desired.
As long as Vandalieu remained hidden on the other side of the Boundary Mountain Range, it would be difficult to overwhelm Vandalieu’s military power in either numbers or strength.
“Everyone, we should value slow, elaborate moves over hasty ones,” said Alda. “What we need is great heroes, each of them equivalent to a thousand superhuman heroes. We need champions who would have stood equal to Bellwood in the past.”
The gods stirred as Alda mentioned the name of Bellwood, the heroic god who had defeated the Demon King and was now in a slumber after having exchanged blows with the Evil God of Sinful Chains.
In the past one hundred thousand years, numerous heroes had appeared and achieved great things. Some among the gods gathered here had once been such heroes.
But even so, the champions who had been chosen and invited from a foreign world by the gods were beings of a different level. These champions would easily defeat enemies that heroes would need to fight for their lives against. Despite their numbers being reduced to three, they had managed to defeat the Demon King in his complete form, after all.
Alda was declaring that the gods would be making an effort to make these champions return. The gods were shaken with all kinds of emotions – approval, excitement, hope.
“… I can’t imagine that this can be achieved so easily,” whispered Nineroad, who led the gods of the wind-attribute in place of the fallen Shizarion, her tone showing neither opposition or disapproval.
“Hohoh. Is the one who was once a champion-sama herself trying to say that she cannot expect anything from the appearance of kouhais who could rival her?” Fitun whispered back.
“Fitun, I do not believe that strength is a requirement to be a hero,” Nineroad replied. Fitun, the God of Thunderclouds, was one of her subordinates – in a way, her kouhai. “I simply think that it is nonsense to judge the merits of heroes based solely on their power,” she said.
“Hoh, I would never have expected such words from your former self,” said Fitun. “Well, they are much more civil than the caustic words you exchanged with the heroes Ark and Zakkart at the scene of your separation.”
“… That scene was exaggerated by those who came later,” Nineroad told him. “The reality is that I simply ignored their words. Now that I think about it, I was foolish as well. Of course, it is unlikely that I could be thought of as wise now. Just like Alda.”
“… What do you mean by this, Nineroad?” Fitun asked. “It would be a serious matter if Niltark were to hear these words.”
“I’ll happily tell you,” said Nineroad. “I don’t mean anything in particular. I simply think that us gods should not make any moves ourselves.”
The gods were spending all of their time and energy maintaining the world; they could not descend upon it. In this state, guiding the people as they had done during the age of the gods was impossible.
And the people themselves likely did not desire this guidance. At the very least, Nineroad would not have accepted it if she were one of them.
“Fitun, if you were one of the people, forced to live and die repeatedly while constantly being instructed what to do, you would become fed up with it, wouldn’t you?” said Nineroad.
That was essentially what Alda was doing. Ever since Bellwood had fallen into slumber, Alda had been sending Divine Messages to the people more frequently.
“We are gods; we are not rulers or dictators,” Nineroad continued. “We should only make a move when the people desire it and when it is necessary. Heroes are not those we create, but beings that the people wish for. At most, all we need to do is lend them a little assistance.”
When she was a student by the name of Kyuudou* Akina, who worked part-time in a pet store on Earth, she had believed that there were no gods.
But Shizarion had taught her that gods existed, even on Earth. When Nineroad learned of this, she had lamented how helpless the gods of Earth were. They had simply left Earth’s people to do many things that could only be described as foolish.
That was precisely why she had worked with Shizarion, who had made moves to save his world, and sympathized with Bellwood’s words.
But now that she had become a god and looked back on it, how had this world turned out?
“… That is true,” said Fitun. From his point of view as a god, not the people, he agreed with her.
Even if something as troublesome as giving attention to each and every believer and guiding them like a stubborn father was possible, he didn’t want to do it.
“But a fragment of the Demon King has passed into the hands of another evil individual. Is that not something that we should fear?” Fitun asked.
“That too is a problem that the people should deal with themselves… As unfortunate as it is, the family I have been managing recently has not desired the guidance of any god,” said Nineroad.
It hadn’t been her intention for the Hartner family to make use of the barrier she had left behind. But Talosheim’s betrayal conducted by the Duke Hartner of that time was only one of the tragedies that had been repeated throughout history.
It was the kind of thing that happened both on Earth and in other worlds.
Sooner or later, they would realize their mistakes, whether it was those of the duke’s family, the ones who served them or even the ones who would replace them someday. Just like the many other mistakes that had been made.
Just like the foolish actions and tragedies that had happened over and over again up until now.
Also, Nineroad and the other gods here treated the destruction of Vida’s races, including the Titans of Talosheim, as an act of justice. It would be ridiculous for them to try and prevent it.
“I suppose that was my most foolish move of all,” said Nineroad. “Fitun, you’re not hiding anything, are you?”
“Dear me. What are you suggesting that I would be hiding?” Fitun asked.
“Don’t respond to a question with another question. But as long as it does not benefit those who absorb the Demon King’s fragments, you are free to do as you like,” said Nineroad. “I shall press Alda for change. I shall tell him that the teachings admired by his new heroes should be considered to be the path of righteousness.”
“Do you mean the teachings of the peaceful faction, that Vida’s races should be acknowledged as people?”
Fitun had inadvertently asked another question, but Nineroad left to where Alda and the other gods were without answering it.
“Tch, peace, after all this time? If there is to be conflict, it should be carried out until one side dies out,” Fitun muttered. “But it is best for Alda to consider a ceasefire in order to devote efforts to fighting the Demon King’s remnants. I suppose there is a chance that he agrees to Nineroad’s words. There is no guarantee that he will continue to shake his head as he has done until now, spouting foolish things about the sacrifices that have been made so far.”
My superior has said some troublesome words, Fitun thought as he frowned.
Now that Vandalieu had absorbed the Demon King’s blood, there was little chance that Nineroad and Alda would make peace with him, but it wouldn’t be interesting for a wet blanket to be thrown on a fight to the death that he would experience for the first time in a long time.
“What happens next likely depends on Rodcorte, but… I wish he would hurry and reincarnate someone promising onto this world.”
Rodcorte experienced the memories of Luciliano, who had become Vandalieu’s apprentice, seeing what Luciliano had seen. What he saw made him forget that he was a god and hold his head in his hands.
“To think that a mortal being would go beyond resurrecting the dead, try his hand at reincarnation and end up absorbing fragments of the Demon King… I suppose the situation has deteriorated to the point that things are out of my control even if I send more of those reincarnated in Origin.
Even if the other reincarnated individuals were more proficient in battle and exceptionally resourceful compared to Kanata, Vandalieu had already grown too powerful. Rodcorte acknowledged this.
He had not given Vandalieu any cheat-like abilities, but he had shown terrifying growth both in Origin and in Lambda.
The most astounding thing was Vandalieu’s drive to not only attempt, but achieve things that any other person would refuse to do, hesitate to do or avoid doing at all costs.
Rodcorte even felt a nightmarish premonition that at this rate, it was possible that Vandalieu really would become a second Guduranis.
“Perhaps I should come up with a way to bring Vandalieu to my side, like Kanata suggested. I should make Vandalieu think that I intend to bring him to my side, and when he lets his guard down, I will have the others reincarnated from Origin aim to kill him.”
Was it wise or foolish to assume that the option of earnestly apologizing to Vandalieu didn’t exist at this point in time?
“I should make them form teams rather than attack alone, or make them build their experiences from the ground up like Vandalieu has done.”
Given a little room to grow, the others reincarnating from Origin should be able to defeat Vandalieu. They had been granted cheat-like abilities, after all. Rodcorte believed this with absolute certainty.
Suddenly, Alda’s Familiar Spirit visited to notify Rodcorte of Alda’s intentions.
Has he noticed the fact that I have reincarnated people from another world? Rodcorte wondered, but the message contained a suggestion.
“He wants me to make the souls of Vida’s races flow through my circle of transmigration system,” Rodcorte murmured. “But I already refused him once, one hundred thousand years ago.”
This was a plan that Alda had considered after listening to Nineroad pressing him to accept Vida’s races in accordance with the teachings of Alda’s peaceful faction.
However, Rodcorte had already received this suggestion from Alda once before, one hundred thousand years ago.
Back then, Rodcorte had told Alda that his suggestion was impossible.
Strictly speaking, it wasn’t impossible. Theoretically, it was possible. However, executing this suggestion was realistically impossible.
First, in order to transfer the souls to Rodcorte’s system, Vida herself would need to willingly destroy her own system.
Even if this was accomplished, the only souls that could be transferred were those of Vida’s races that had no monster ancestors. In other words, races like Vampires and Lamias would go extinct without being able to leave any descendants behind, and their souls would either wander endlessly or be forced to fall into the Demon King’s system, which would cause them to be reborn as complete monsters.
The Vida of the past would have never accepted such conditions.
And Vida was currently in a slumber; it was impossible for Alda or Rodcorte to directly destroy the system that she owned. Thus, the only way to destroy the system was the extinction of all of Vida’s races, the goal that Alda had been working towards all this time.
No matter how unknowledgeable Rodcorte was to the values of people, he didn’t imagine that anyone would agree if they were told, “Your existence will be acknowledged, so please go extinct.”
“Either that, or I would need to assemble a new system… In order to do that, I would need to stop every single one of my circle of transmigration systems, including the one that governs reincarnation in Lambda, for a period of several years to several decades. Considering the effects that doing such a thing would have, Alda should understand that this is not something that can be done.”
A period of several years to several decades where not only humans, but all plants, animals and every other creature, would not be born properly. Bodies born without souls would grow in number, and at first, wandering spirits would possess the empty bodies, but… Plants would be fine, but what would happen if spirits with broken memories and collapsed, insane personalities were to be reborn in bodies that were not exclusively made for them?
The worst-case scenario of all life becoming extinct was more than likely.
In Lambda’s case, the monsters that would grow in number due to the Demon King’s circle of reincarnation system could still be hunted for food, however.
Rodcorte had explained all of this to Alda a hundred thousand years ago, and he doubted that Alda had forgotten this explanation, but Alda’s suggestion also contained a request at the end – that Rodcorte “give it some thought.”
“… Is he intending to make me think of a new way?”
It seemed that Alda intended to leave Rodcorte’s specialty to the specialist.
“But for this suggestion to come a second time means that Bellwood is still sleeping. On top of that, Alda has been cornered… though the cause of that is likely Vandalieu.”
Rodcorte had been thinking that even if Alda noticed those reincarnated from Origin, it would be fine if he left it to their own resourcefulness, but now that Alda had been cornered to this point, Rodcorte reconsidered and thought that it might be best to make a real effort to keep them hidden.
At the same time, Rodcorte decided to accept Alda’s suggestion for now. It was difficult that he would find a good solution even if he told Alda that he would think about it. However, he did think that giving it some degree of thought before telling Alda his verdict would be better than bluntly refusing the request.
If this had all been caused by Vandalieu’s actions, then in a way, it could be said that he had made this world move, though Vandalieu himself wouldn’t be happy about this at all.
“However, I am not unoccupied, either.”
During his free time between dealing with the continuously-occurring errors caused by Vandalieu, Rodcorte sent a reply of, “I will consider it,” back to Alda.
It was spring, and Talosheim was growing warmer. The livestock were eating algae and aquatic plants in the waterway.
They were goats.
They were not ducks or geese, but unmistakably goats.
Goats with white fur, white whiskers and wide eyes. However, only the upper half of their bodies and front legs were those of goats; the bottom half of their bodies had been replaced by the scales and tails of fish.
Perhaps because Talosheim was essentially a Devil’s Nest, the goats had transformed into Rank 2 monsters called Capricorns after being brought back. Because their bodies had grown larger after they became Capricorns, the amount of milk they produced had doubled, so this wasn’t really considered a problem.
Incidentally, the goats weren’t the only ones. The rabbits, chickens and the single pig that Vandalieu had obtained had also transformed into monsters. None of them had undergone such extreme transformations like the Capricorns, however.
The horses would likely transform before long, too.
“Huh, where’s King? I heard he was here.”
“Vandalieu is with the goats.”
“Ah, he’s really with them!”
One of the men from the cultivation villages pointed at Vandalieu, who was swimming in the waterways with the Capricorns.
“Meeh?” said Vandalieu, who had produced goat-like horns on his head with the Demon King’s horns.
“Please, speak like a normal person,” said Bilde.
“What is it, Bilde?” Vandalieu asked. He had been swimming with the Capricorns while inspecting the waterways, but now he climbed onto the bank.
“Your eyes will become wide like theirs soon,” Bilde muttered. “It’s almost time for the cooking class,” she reminded him.
“Ah, that’s right,” said Vandalieu. “Today was going to be how to make ramen, wasn’t it?”
He had introduced new foods and flavors one after another, but of course, they didn’t become widespread right away. Only after he had taught everyone and made them understand what kind of cuisine was available could it be said that they were widespread.
That was why Vandalieu had begun holding regular cooking classes.
“Once I can print recipes with printing technology, I can make cookbooks, but… the results are still questionable,” said Vandalieu.
“Are they? I think it’s amazing for that thick white stuff to spread out flat and become paper,” said Bilde.
At the paper factory, paper was being produced by the fibers of the plants that were the raw material being softened, turned into Golems, and then having them spread uniformly in a thin shape to turn into paper.
It was probably of lower quality than a product made by a skilled craftsman, but Vandalieu could still create paper that was more than suitable for making books.
“No, it’s not the paper, but the printing that’s the problem,” said Vandalieu. “I’m still struggling to adjust the power of the printing press Golems. Karcan and Pablo are clumsy as well, aren’t they?”
“Hmm. Making paper and turning it into books is a lot of work, isn’t it? I think it’s fine to use stone or clay tablets, though,” said Bilde as she waited for Vandalieu to wipe the water off his body. It seemed that she still didn’t understand the value of paper. She had originally been a forest-dwelling Ghoul, after all.
Vandalieu didn’t look any different from before, but he was a little depressed at the fact that he hadn’t managed to bring Ternecia down. His chance to gain a large amount of Experience Points had been wasted, and he had seen the achievement of killing her being stolen by Heinz and his party through the eyes of his Lemures.
It was difficult to say that his plan to defeat Ternecia had been thoroughly planned. But it had gone well until the very last moment.
First, he had reduced Kinarp, who had apparently held connections to one of Ternecia’s subordinates, into a vegetative state and made him confess.
He had done this so that the knights and adventurers would hunt the Vampires who worshipped the evil god in his place, as he had been busy rescuing Princess Levia and those with her, as well as the former Titan slaves.
He had imagined that Heinz and his party would be particularly eager to make a move. If they intended to protect the Dhampir girl that they kept with them, the Vampires who worshipped an evil god were targets that they needed to exterminate as many of as possible.
And just as Vandalieu had expected, Heinz and his party had defeated the Vampires one after another, and Vandalieu had successfully summoned their spirits with Spirit Communication.
He had gained information from Ternecia’s close retainers like Chipiras and pinpointed her hideout… the last place she would escape to if cornered.
It was a secret among secrets for Ternecia; only the other Pure-breed Vampires, Birkyne and Gubamon, and Bellmond who served as a watchdog and emergency consumption material, had known of its existence, but… people are creatures who are prone to failure.
Even if the secret was thought to be kept, secrets are things that leak through careless words. None of these careless words revealed any significant information; it was difficult to even say that they were clues.
However, the Vampires who had served Ternecia for tens of thousands of years possessed many of these dust-like specks of information.
And once Vandalieu had gained the spirits of three of the Five Dogs, he had amassed a mountain of that dust. He had identified the hideout’s location and taken control over it with strength and by bringing Bellmond to his side. And then he had waited for Heinz to corner Ternecia.
What had been outside of Vandalieu’s calculations was Birkyne and Gubamon’s appearance in that place. They hadn’t appeared when Ternecia had been cornered by Heinz and his companions, so he had assumed that they would not come to assist her, and that caused him to let his guard down. Because of that, he had failed to kill Ternecia.
“Well, it’s fine. I didn’t gain Experience Points and none of Heinz’s party members died, but I did reduce the number of enemies I have by one.”
Vandalieu’s plan had been to get rid of one of his obstacles, and he had achieved that.
And he had also acquired several precious Magic Items and materials at Ternecia’s hideout.
The Undead that Ternecia had created were rather poorly-made, however.
Because she had considered Undead to be nothing more than playthings or works of art, the practicality for fighting that Vandalieu desired from them was nonexistent.
“Well, I’ve gained all the information I need, so –”
The unpleasant-sounding scream and clear sound that resembled the breaking of glass stopped at the same time. Ternecia’s soul had been broken and destroyed.
『The level of the God Slayer and Soul Break skills have increased!』
Ternecia had become a subordinate god of Hihiryushukaka, the Evil God of Joyful Life. Vandalieu had decided that it would be dangerous to keep her in his pocket. She hadn’t been as friendly towards him as Bellmond, so he had broken her soul without hesitation.
“Now then, let’s get to the issue at hand,” said Vandalieu. He was holding a meeting to decide his future plans in the chamber beneath the royal castle, which he had thoroughly transformed into something like a multipurpose workshop. “Everyone, please make your reports.”
Kasim was the first to raise his hand, slightly intimidated by the other members at the meeting. “Yeah. I’m Kasim, the representative of the new citizens. Umm, about the refrigerators you made us, no matter how many times we keep telling Fester, he keeps freezing his vegetables and meat.”
Vandalieu had created refrigerators enchanted with Demon Fire, a death-attribute spell that absorbed heat as it burned. They were extraordinary items that preserved meat and raw fish that would otherwise go bad within a day during summer, but… Kasim and the others had never used refrigerators before, so it seemed that they were still not used to them.
He had designed them so that children could never climb inside and get trapped, but he hadn’t imagined that the refrigeration and freezing compartments would get mixed up.
“I’m glad I learned this during the prototype stage,” said Vandalieu. “I can do something about this problem before commercializing it.”
“Yeah, that’s true,” said Borkus. “I accidentally froze some miso before, too.”
“The doors have written letters on them, do they not? Why do people not notice?” Zadiris asked.
“We can’t read difficult kanji,” Kasim explained. “Lina has written the furigana* on the doors for us now, though.”
The meeting continued in a slightly relaxed, quiet atmosphere.
Next was Tarea’s report.
“The development of a way to process your horns is going well, too, Van-sama,” she said.
The Demon King’s horns that Vandalieu produced were as hard as Adamantite, but they possessed the same properties as deer antlers and rhinoceros horns, so it was possible to turn them into all kinds of equipment and products.
It seemed that she was currently soaking them in Vandalieu’s blood, which also contained the Demon King’s blood, and observing the results.
“Ufufu, with my hands, Van-sama’s hard, strong horns…” Tarea’s voice trailed off.
“Do not make such a sickening face at a meeting,” said Zadiris, reprimanding her. “I am sure that it will not return anytime soon, but we must continue.”
“How is transforming Ternecia into a Live-Dead going?” Vandalieu asked.
“Without problem,” Luciliano replied. “Normally, the Live-Dead transformation process would be impossible for members of Vida’s races, including Pure-breed Vampires. But it has been made possible by circulating your blood, which contains the Demon King’s blood, through her body. It was my first time replacing the brain matter with that of another person, but thanks to the fine adjustments you have made for me, things are going well.”
“Then you have as many materials as you need for Eleanora and Bellmond’s surgeries, don’t you?” said Vandalieu.
“Indeed; the regenerative ability of Pure-breed Vampires is fearsome,” said Luciliano. “No matter how much of her skin, fat, bone or internal organs I take, there won’t be any problem as long as I make sure she does not die.”
“The fate of my former master is terrible indeed, but… Danna-sama, what do you mean by my ‘surgery?’” asked Bellmond, her cheeks twitching upon hearing the conversation unfolding before her.
Incidentally, despite Vandalieu killing Ternecia having been one of Bellmond’s conditions for joining him, he had not killed Ternecia directly. But because it was Bellmond herself who had let her escape, and because Ternecia had indeed died in the end, she seemed to have decided to serve Vandalieu.
There was also the reason of her not having anywhere else to go, however.
“Eh? Wasn’t your other condition for becoming my steward to return your body ‘to its original form?’” said Vandalieu.
“I did indeed say that,” said Bellmond. “But my body is already back to its original…”
“Slow on the uptake, aren’t you?” said Eleanora. “Vandalieu-sama is saying that he will heal our scars. The wounds that Birkyne inflicted upon me, and your wounds as well.”
Bellmond was surprised that such a thing was possible, but seeing her master nod in agreement to Eleanora’s words, she began to believe it.
“… Then I shall take you up on that offer. I am not maintaining this appearance because I want to, after all,” said Bellmond, touching her scarred cheek.
But there was nobody here who considered her to be as hideous as she thought she was. Half of Borkus’s face, for instance, was made of only bone, never mind his scars.
And Kasim was another who didn’t think that Bellmond looked unsightly. He looked at Vandalieu with a gaze that was soft and yet held resignation and sadness.
So, you’re on that side, too.
Vandalieu wasn’t being blamed, but it felt like he was, which made him feel very uncomfortable.
“W-well then, next topic of discussion,” he said.
The newly-established school, the new workplaces of the city’s new citizens, special events such as tournaments for shogi, chess, Reversi and go, the demand for new clothes including dresses, a plan to construct a new public bathhouse rather than restoring an existing one – All kinds of things were discussed, but it seemed that the largest problem was the lack of dairy products.
“Van, there isn’t enough fresh cream,” said Basdia.
The fresh cream created by Vandalieu had captivated the inhabitants of Talosheim with its soft texture and sweet taste. The amount he could make had increased when the goats turned into Capricorns, but in the end, there were still only a few dozen of them. They were not sufficient to satisfy a nation of over four thousand citizens.
There was such a gap between the supply and demand that all of the milk produced was being used to make cream.
For Vandalieu, who wanted to create butter, cheese and yogurt as well, this was a serious situation.
“Hmm, if we raise the animals with the same methods used by the farming villages, there’s no telling how many years it will take before we have enough of them…” Vandalieu murmured.
Chezare spoke up. “Your Majesty, how about increasing the number of Capricorns we have?” he suggested.
“It’s true that Capricorns are more fertile than normal goats because they’re monsters,” said Eleanora. “But because the bottom half of their bodies are those of fish, there is currently a limit to how many we can keep in Talosheim at once. Even if we breed them to reach that limit, I am sure there still won’t be enough to satisfy Vandalieu-sama’s desires.”
As Eleanora pointed out, there was an ecological problem in the fact that Capricorns needed places with water to inhabit.
But Chezare was already fully aware of this. “That is why we will cultivate new land,” he said. “Yamata-dono, please hand out those documents.”
Yamata… the Undead that Ternecia had created, a nine-headed Hydra with its heads replaced by nine upper bodies and heads of good-looking Centaurs and Merfolk, distributed some documents.
The documents contained maps of the surrounding area that were still left in Talosheim’s records.
“If we follow the waterway passing through Talosheim, it becomes a river to the south, and this river flows through this forest into a wide marshland,” said Chezare. “Let us cultivate this land.”
“But if I recall, there are several packs of Lizardmen… Two hundred years ago, a relatively amicable group ruled the area a short distance north of Talosheim,” said Princess Levia. “We had a treaty of peace with them, but I don’t know how things will be now…”
She was talking about how things had been two hundred years ago, but Lizardmen lived shorter than humans, with lifespans of only thirty to forty years. There was no telling what kind of groups would be ruling the marshland now.
“With that being the case, if that relatively amicable group is still alive, we simply need to suggest to them that they cooperate with us,” said Chezare. “If not, we can simply take control by force.”
Everyone at the meeting nodded in understanding.
“Well then, let us move south to turn the marshland into a Capricorn farm,” said Vandalieu.
Vandalieu had originally planned to one day visit the southern region of the continent where the Pure-breed Vampires who worshipped Vida, as well as the slumbering Vida herself, were said to be. It wasn’t a bad idea to go south while waiting for the commotion in the Orbaume Kingdom to settle down.
And so began the cultivation project that would later be recorded in history books as the Cream Expedition.
『The ‘Taboo Name’ Title has been removed!』
Orbaume, the capital city of the Orbaume Kingdom.
The people in the great city with a population of two million were full of excitement today. A great hero who had become a legend… no, a myth, had been born.
“Heinz! Heinz! Heinz!”
“Long live the Five-colored Blades! Long live the ‘five who tear through the darkness!’”
“I’m going to convert to the peaceful faction too!”
“Kyah, Edgar-sama is facing this way~!”
The people were cheering for Heinz and his party who were standing at the front of a dazzling parade with the Dhampir girl who was under their protection, Selen.
Edgar’s expression had loosened after hearing the shrill voices of beautiful women while waving at them from a luxuriously decorated carriage.
Suddenly, he noticed that Heinz was looking somewhat depressed and called out to him. “Hey, hey, you can at least give them a forced smile, can’t you? Smile, you have to smile,” he said.
“… I am not someone fit to stand on a stage,” said Heinz.
“What, you don’t like the new Titles we’ve acquired?” said Edgar.
It was well-known that the five members of the party had challenged the Vampires in combat during night where they were supposed to have the advantage. All of them had gained the title, ‘one who tears through the darkness.’ It was true that even Edgar thought that it was an exaggerated, embarrassing Title.
Of course, once this became well-known, the Vampires would no longer let their guards down, assuming that humans wouldn’t attack them at night.
“I don’t really care about that,” said Heinz.
“You don’t really care, huh… so does that mean you like it?” asked Edgar.
“It’s not that, it’s Ternecia. We finished her off, but the one who truly defeated her was not us. She had escaped from someone else.”
A Pure-breed Vampire who had been born in the age of the gods and gone on to rule the underworld for a hundred thousand years, threatening humanity. By defeating such a being, Heinz’s party had been praised as great heroes.
But Ternecia had clearly been on the verge of death before Heinz dealt the fatal blow, and she had lost both her Petrifying Demon Eye and the Demon King’s horns.
According to legend, the Demon King’s fragments were supposed to fly out of their hosts’ bodies when they died and try to parasitize another nearby organism. It was necessary to prevent that from happening and seal them, but… no matter how much time passed, nothing resembling a Demon King’s fragment had emerged from Ternecia’s corpse.
Ternecia had been defeated by someone else at the place that she had teleported to from the battle against Heinz and his companions. And then she had barely managed to escape with her life after having her Demon King’s fragment and her Petrifying Demon Eye stolen from her.
By the other Pure-breed Vampires, or someone else.
“Everyone knows that,” said Edgar. “We know it, the higher-ups of the Guilds and Churches know it and even the important people of the Orbaume Kingdom who are about to give us medals and words of gratitude know it.”
“The people we’re waving to don’t know it,” said Heinz.
“That is true, but… Heinz, if this truth were to spread, it would provoke the Demon King’s remnants including Pure-breed Vampires who worship evil gods other than Hihiryushukaka,” said Diana. “If a great conflict were to begin, it will not be only the underworld that suffers losses.”
“You’re right… It’s just as you say, Diana. And…” Heinz looked at Selen, whose cheeks were flushed with tension and excitement. “It will be for her sake as well.”
On this day, the Five-colored Blades received medals from the king, and their leader, Heinz, was made an honorary earl while the other members were made honorary barons and baronesses.