Chapter 284: Those who are nurtured between attacks
After changing Jobs and acquiring the ‘Artistic Guider’ Job, Kanako hummed to herself as she left the Dungeon and stepped out into the basement of Vandalieu’s house. She then left and headed straight for the warehouse that she was using as the venue for her lessons.
“Gosh, my body feels so light. My feet are dancing on their own,” she said happily.
The legendary champions summoned by the gods had all acquired Guider-type Jobs, and future generations had considered having a Guider-type Job to be a requirement to be a champion. Those with such a Job had such great influence that nobles and even royalty would not be able to make light of them. But Kanako did not have much of a sense that she had acquired such an influential Job.
Acquiring a Guider-type Job was a great feat in and of itself, but the important thing to Kanako was the Job’s effect and the bonuses it provided to her Skills. Her Attribute Value growth would come later, so she didn’t know how much it would provide in that regard yet, but her ‘Dancing’ and ‘Singing’ Skills had immediately improved due to the Skill bonuses of the ‘Artistic Guider’ Job. She would soon be seeing if her guidance’s effects would affect the recruited members who were taking her lessons, so she couldn’t help but be excited.
“It would be nice if I could give lessons that people can learn from in a short period of time. Unlike before, we don’t have the time to spend years working hard in obscurity,” she said to herself.
By ‘before,’ she was referring to her life on Earth and in Origin. In Lambda, the world she currently lived in, people were generally considered adults from the age of fifteen. And if a girl stayed single past age twenty, she was considered past her prime.
That wasn’t so much the case for people of long-lived races like Kanako, such as Dark Elves (though she was actually a Chaos Elf), but for humans, the length of time they could stay in the business of the performing arts was limited.
On top of that, CDs and DVDs didn’t exist yet, and published goods like photo albums weren’t commonplace. If idols wanted to earn money themselves, they would need to stand on stage.
“If we try anything thoughtless like trying to sell handshake tickets, there’d be so many people who misunderstand our intent. Swimsuit models and body pillows would be considered indecent… No, swimsuit models might be acceptable.”
Very revealing forms of armor, such as bikini armors, were quite common in this world. Most of these armors were Magic Items that either provided a significant amount of protection even to areas where the wearer’s skin was exposed, or provided other effects that made up for the lack of protection. And like their names suggested, there was no difference between them and bikini-type swimsuits other than their material and thickness.
Considering that women were not apprehended by guards in the streets for wearing such armor, perhaps swimsuit models would be acceptable?
But just as this thought occurred to Kanako, she thought of another problem with this.
“… Considering the current level of technology, I’d have no choice but to ask Van to make the items in order to get the quality that I want. Even if they’re not considered to be indecent, I can’t ask him to do that.”
Kanako did not consider swimsuit modeling and body pillows with the image of her in her stage outfit as something to be embarrassed about. However, the ones printing such images would be the Demon King Familiars… split entities of Vandalieu that shared his consciousness. With that in mind, she couldn’t help but to feel some resistance to the idea.
In her previous life, she had known another, more senior idol who had felt embarrassed when a TV program showcased a DVD product containing a slideshow of photos of her that had been made in her earlier days in the industry. Kanako had felt that embarrassment herself, around three years after her own debut… but she had never expected to experience it again in her current life.
“Come to think of it, Van has returned several times, hasn’t he? In fact, he even has a split entity of himself there…” said Kanako, frowning as she suddenly remembered that Vandalieu had visited Earth and Origin in soul form, and even had Banda, a split entity of himself created from fragments of his soul, in Origin.
It had already been more than a decade since she was an idol in Origin, and even then, she hadn’t been at the top of the idol world, so it was unlikely that footage from those days would happen to be broadcasted on TV now. However, computers and the internet existed in Origin, though they worked slightly differently from the computers and internet of Earth. Naturally, websites for uploading user-created videos had existed for more than a decade.
If Vandalieu wanted to look up what Kanako looked like back then, he could.
“Well, it isn’t like I can issue a gag order now,” Kanako told herself.
There were currently several people around her who had known her in her previous life – Melissa, Doug, and Legion. There was constantly a risk that one of them might make some off-handed comment that would get Vandalieu interested in what Kanako had been like in her previous life.
Thus, it was likely best to protect herself with a method other than a gag order… by creating a dark history for the others as well.
“Melissa and Legion have already made their debut, so they’re fine. The problem is Doug,” Kanako muttered to herself.
“What about me?”
Speak of the devil, Doug had heard Kanako talking to herself. Lost in her thoughts, Kanako had already arrived at the warehouse.
“Oh, it’s nothing. I was just thinking about the best way to make male idols popular,” she said.
“That isn’t just nothing!” said Doug. “You went to change Jobs, then came back whispering to yourself so I came to talk to you and then… Hmm? Is there something, like, different about you?” he asked, staring at her.
“What do you mean by ‘different?’ I haven’t changed anything other than my Job,” said Kanako, a little confused.
She had only just changed Jobs, so her Attribute Values hadn’t increased, and although some of her Skills like ‘Singing’ had increased, it was difficult to imagine that this was noticeable in her behavior.
But it seemed that Doug believed that something had clearly changed about her.
“No, something’s obviously changed,” he said. “How do I put it… It’s like there’s an aura or something around you. Kind of like what people called a ‘celebrity aura,’ you have it even more than you did in our previous lives.”
“A celebrity aura? I made my debut last year, so why now… Could it be that this is the guidance?” said Kanako.
“Guidance?!” exclaimed Doug, his eyes wide in shock. “You… you’ve become a Guider?” he asked more quietly.
The only ones who knew that Kanako had become a Guider were Vandalieu and the others whom Kanako had talked with before changing Jobs.
“So that’s why. What kind of Guider are you?” Doug asked.
“An ‘Artistic Guider.’ It looks like I provide guidance in the arts,” said Kanako.
“That’s the kind of Guider only a real idol would become,” Doug said, cracking a small joke to try and calm himself down.
Kanako thought a little about the aura that he was apparently perceiving… and the ends of her mouth rose in a smile. “Doug, the fact that you have felt my guidance… You must like idols quite a lot.”
“What?! No, I just watch because I’m working security at the venues…!”
Leaving Doug even more shaken than when she had told him that she had become a Guider, Kanako entered the warehouse. Inside, Zadiris, Basdia, Eleanora, Bellmond, and the locally-hired members including Rudolf were doing their own practice, resting, and tuning their instruments.
“Good morning! Good work, everyone!” she said.
She had a habit, or perhaps a fixation, from her previous life – when working in the entertainment industry, the greeting was always ‘good morning’ regardless of the time of day.
“Good morning!” everyone said in unison.
The locally-recruited members had been bewildered by this fixation of Kanako’s at first, but it seemed that they were accustomed to it now. Zadiris and Basdia were looking at them with wry smiles.
Up to this point, nothing was different compared to before Kanako’s Job change.
But one of the locally-recruited members – the blue-haired Elf bard – abruptly stopped tuning his guitar and stood up out of his seat to stare at Kanako.
“W-what’s the matter?” asked Kanako in a flustered, high-pitched voice.
She had hoped that there would be some kind of change, but there was a sharp look in Rudolf’s eyes that she had never seen before.
Meanwhile, Randolf ‘the True’ – the S-class adventurer who was using the false name ‘Rudolf’ – came back to his senses and realized that Kanako and everyone else were staring at him.
“… No, it’s… nothing. I just thought that there was a different air about you,” he muttered, sitting back down in his seat.
He knew that he hadn’t completely managed to brush the matter aside; he was particularly aware of Basdia and Eleanora’s sharp gazes being directed his way, but his mind was torn more towards thinking about the change he had seen in Kanako rather than his blunder.
The air about her has clearly changed. Has someone disguised themselves as her and taken her place? No, there is no mistake that it is her. And what I am feeling is not a sense of discomfort. Is this a sense of elation? he thought, bewildered.
But he and Doug weren’t the only ones who were feeling something from Kanako.
“Well then, let’s get started and take it from the top,” said Kanako, having gathered her thoughts, and she began guiding the dancers.
As the locally-recruited members who were in charge of singing and dancing began to perform, she gave advice, such as “Stretch your back out more!” and “Yes, just like that!”
Kanako herself perceived the lessons to be proceeding as always. However, everyone else felt a significant change.
They were able to understand how to follow Kanako’s instructions more easily than before. Things being taught were quickly becoming second nature to them, and they felt a sense of fulfillment that accompanied the improvement of their technique.
Doug, who was watching from the warehouse’s entrance, couldn’t help himself from listening intently.
“Kanako-san, I just can’t do this last step very well no matter how I try. What should I do?”
“Please help me with my singing next!”
“C-can I join the singing and dancing lessons too?!”
The trainees’ sense of fulfilment created an increase in their enthusiasm towards the lessons, and they were seeking Kanako’s advice and guidance more proactively.
Not only that, but Ediria, an adventurer who had mostly been learning instrumental performance, was voicing her desire to learn how to sing and dance as well. She felt a slight discomfort in the corner of her mind, but she was approaching Kanako without paying any heed to it.
Not only that, but even Zadiris – who had already learned the song that was currently being practiced – wanted to participate.
“Kanako, could I join in as well? I have already received a passing mark from you for that song, but my body will grow dull if I just stand and watch,” she said.
“That’s unusual of you. What bizarre turn of events do I owe this to?” asked Kanako.
“I know what you are saying, but you should not make comments that dampen people’s interests.”
Zadiris was slightly put off by Kanako’s comment, but she was usually uninterested in the lessons. Or to put it more accurately, she put effort into practicing. Kanako had already decided that Zadiris was capable enough to perform on-stage in front of audiences, but Zadiris continued practicing without slacking until she was satisfied with her own performance.
However, after that, she only took part in the bare minimum of lessons required to maintain that standard.
“I mean, if I make an error, it is me who makes a fool of myself on stage. And as I am known as the boy’s familiar, that would reflect on him as well. So, that is how it is,” said Zadiris, making up this explanation and blushing as she joined in on the lesson.
“You’re finally being honest with yourself,” said Kanako, putting a hand on Zadiris’s shoulder. “Well then, let’s get Zadiris-chan in and start over. Rudolf-san, I’m counting on you for the music!”
“‘Chan?!’ And what do you mean, I am being honest with myself?!” exclaimed Zadiris.
But nobody paid any heed to that, and the lesson resumed.
Basdia watched her mother smoothly falling to a level from which she could not return, then stared at Rudolf as he played the guitar to provide the music.
The look in his eyes a moment ago, the presence that he emanated for just a moment. He is no ordinary person. If Eleanora and Bellmond are wary of him as well, then it’s certain. It seems that he is not a bard after all, she thought.
But she slumped in exasperation as she looked at Bellmond to see that she was playing with some threads in her hands, pretending to play a stringed instrument.
It seemed that Bellmond was interested in the guitar Rudolf was playing, rather than having noticed that he was no ordinary person.
“… We should expect things from Bellmond that aren’t judging a person’s character,” Basdia whispered.
“You’re right,” Eleanora whispered back.
And with that, Basdia decided to simply endure the aching of her body for today and keep an eye on Rudolf with Eleanora.
The day after Vandalieu changed Jobs to ‘Dark King Mage,’ he decided to take some ‘days off.’
But ‘days off’ didn’t mean that he would be resting his body and indulging in simple pleasures. However, it would be strange to call what he was spending his time on ‘work,’ so he had decided that these were days off.
A grotesque-looking Ogre let out a dull roar as it manipulated the wind to scatter arrows made of air into its surroundings.
Was this an Ogre Mage casting a spell? No, that wasn’t right. There were numerous black, tube-like objects protruding from the Ogre’s limbs, abdomen, and chest, and the arrows of air were being released from them.
The ones facing the grotesque Ogre were the Vampire Zombie Isla, the Black Goblin Ninja Braga, and the ‘Starving Wolf’ Michael, who ruled the red-light district of Morksi – the ‘Kisser’ Miles.
“Damn it! It’s acquired more troublesome abilities than the one before!” said Isla.
“Don’t try to see the attacks, feel the flow of the air!” said Braga.
“But we don’t need to capture it alive this time, right?! Then this will be easy!” said Miles.
“Don’t try to see the attacks? Feel? You make it sound so easy. I’m a Zombie, you know,” said Isla.
Although she didn’t look like it, as the decomposition of her body had been halted, she was a Zombie. Thus, her senses were different from that of a living person.
“You say that, but you’re avoiding them all anyway,” said Miles; Isla was dodging the arrows of wind just as well as he was.
“Of course I am. Even if I can’t see them, their aim is sloppy and they’re so loud,” said Isla.
Each time the grotesque Ogre released an arrow of wind, there was a noise that sounded like a high-pitched whistle. The black tubes sucked in air, compressed it and then released it as an arrow of wind, and the noise was produced by that process.
Braga and Miles avoided these invisible arrows of wind by feeling the flow of air, while Isla did so by relying on the noise they made.
Perhaps realizing that there was no use in its wind arrow attacks, the grotesque Ogre roared and charged at its three approaching foes.
The black tubes expelled air that provided propulsive force, causing the Ogre to move as fast as the wind. Its superhuman strength and speed would be enough to tear apart a knight in full plate armor in an instant; under ordinary circumstances, the Ogre would be untouchable.
However, the grotesque Ogre’s foes were capable of moving even faster than the wind.
“First, I’ll cut off your head! ‘Blade Slash,’” said Braga as he charged at the Ogre head-on, performing a ‘Dagger Technique’ martial skill with a single-edged ninja blade to sever the Ogre’s neck.
The Ogre’s head screamed in pain and shock.
But even though it had lost its head, with blood spraying from the surface where its neck had been cut, the Ogre’s body did not stop. Not only that, but the dull sound of bones and flesh bending could be heard all over its body as it transformed in a repulsive manner and pointed both of its arms at Miles and Isla.
“MAIN BODY!” came what sounded like a scream from the black tubes, and in the next moment, a spiral of air erupted from both arms. By adjusting the angles of the black tubes growing from its arms, it had created a sideways-spinning whirlwind.
If one were to get caught up in this whirlwind produced by the creature’s two parallel arms, they would be blown away and turned into something resembling a dirty, worn rag.
“Transform! ‘Swift Water Rapid Reaction!’ And I’ll destroy your internal organs!” shouted Isla.
Having activated her transformation equipment and her ‘Transforming Chain Armor Technique,’ she evaded the whirlwind by a hair’s breadth and buried her sword in the creature’s torso with all of her speed and monstrous strength.
The creature roared once more. “The host cannot be maintained, separate, separaaaaa –”
The grotesque Ogre… or what had been an Ogre, with its belly torn and its spine severed, made another significant transformation. The black tubes all over its body grew longer and thicker, tearing its flesh and skin. The Demon King fragment inside its body was attempting to separate itself from its host.
“And here comes the finisher!” said Miles, taking out a palm-sized box and leaping to within arm’s reach of the Demon King fragment.
The fragment screamed. “MAIN BODYYYY!”
It tried to resist, but having lost its host, it was not particularly powerful. It continued screaming as it was sucked into the box.
An Orichalcum chain was wrapped around the box, which was also made of Orichalcum, and the sealing was complete.
Miles let out a sigh of relief. “Boss, we managed to seal it.”
He turned around to see a mysterious creature that resembled an armadillo and was bigger than an Ogre, clapping in applause with fin-shaped front limbs.
“Everyone, well done. Now then, shall we take a fifteen-minute break and try again?”
This mysterious creature was a familiar and split entity of Vandalieu, a Demon King Familiar.
“Will it be the Demon King’s spiracles again? Or will it be the other one, the Demon King’s spurs?” asked Braga.
“It’s not good to get used to the same fragment, so let’s go with the Demon King’s spurs. The host is a surprise, though,” said the Demon King Familiar.
Several days ago, Schneider and the other members of the ‘Storm of Tyranny’ had stolen two Demon King fragments… one that had been sealed and another that had been turned into a piece of Demon King equipment, from the Marme Duchy, and they had given them to Vandalieu.
However, Vandalieu had already absorbed several dozen fragments, and there was no immediate need to absorb the spiracles and spurs.
Thus, he had decided to use them for training rather than absorbing them right away.
It was possible that his companions might encounter a Demon King fragment that had infested a host and was running amok while away on a mission where Vandalieu could not immediately come to deal with it. If they had prior experience with sealing fragments, they would be able to seal the fragments away themselves in such cases.
The training was taking place in the Dungeon that Vandalieu had created in the basement of his house in Morksi, on a new floor that he had made just for this purpose. There was a trick to ascending to the prior floor – one needed to answer a riddle to open the door to the stairway. As the Demon King fragments moved on instinct alone, they would never be able to leave the Dungeon.
And even if Braga or one of the others were to be infested by the fragments, it wouldn’t be a problem, as Vandalieu would just need to carry out a surgery like when he extracted the mucus glands… and he had also stationed a Demon King Familiar here to supervise the training, which would impede the fragments if the situation required, so even that was unlikely to be necessary.
Incidentally, the hosts that Vandalieu was having the fragments infest were soulless monsters that had been generated by his Dungeon. As these were flesh mannequins with no souls, the fragments took over them and began rampaging immediately upon infestation.
“Vandalieu-sama!” said Isla – the last person to take the training – as she embraced the Demon King Familiar’s soft, fluffy belly without any worry about the next training session.
“Isla, even though we are taking a break, there are dangerous objects very close by,” said the Demon King Familiar.
“The empty sealing equipment that were in Vida’s resting grounds, the ones that Vida made herself with meticulous care a hundred thousand years ago, aren’t going to come apart,” said Isla. “More importantly, I have not seen you in so long, Vandalieu-sama. If your main body is too busy, then I must at least enjoy your clones!”
Isla had been wearing a cruel smile during the training, but her mouth was hanging open in a slovenly smile now. If she had a tail, it was almost certain that it would be wagging furiously right now.
“I suppose it can’t be helped,” said the Demon King Familiar, curling around to envelop Isla with its belly and opening the eyes and mouth on its back. “Let’s extend our break from fifteen minutes to thirty,” it said through the newly-opened mouth.
“Are you sure thirty minutes will be enough? Judging from how she looks now, I don’t think she’ll be of any use for a while,” said Miles.
“I think Eleanora will leave Kanako to come and join us. I’ll wait until then,” said Braga.
After that, Eleanora, who had learned from Kanako that Vandalieu had returned, came to join the training. However, in the break following that, she too was enveloped in the warmth of the armadillo-shaped Demon King Familiar.
Meanwhile, more training was being carried out on the floor above the Demon King fragment sealing training.
The leader of the kids of the orphanage, Matthew, and the rest of the orphanage’s children, were working hard to train their ‘Unarmed Fighting Technique.’
“Hey, Van. I want a sword more than ‘Unarmed Fighting Technique!’ I don’t have claws like you, you know,” said Matthew.
“Matthew, it’s best to be able to fight even when you’re bare-handed,” said Vandalieu. “‘Unarmed Fighting Technique’ has limited range and is lacking in power at first. But it’s effective to improve your physical abilities to provide a base for all combat-related Skills.”
‘Unarmed Fighting Technique’ used one’s own body as a weapon. Thus, Vandalieu believed that training this Skill was effective for improving one’s physical abilities and convenient for acquiring other combat-related Skills as well.
“Hmph. Fine, but once I’ve learned the ‘Unarmed Fighting Technique’ Skill, make sure you teach me how to use other weapons as well,” said Matthew reluctantly.
“Of course. I’ve already prepared weapons for you to practice with,” said Vandalieu, pointing at the weapons he had made for the children to train with.
They were not the weapons with deliberately blunted blades that were used for the training of city guards and knights, but highly-safe wooden weapons with Talosheim-produced rubber covering the parts where the blades, points, and striking surfaces would be.
After ‘Unarmed Fighting Technique,’ the children would use these weapons to train with the weapons they liked and were the most compatible with.
After that, once the children had some practice battles with Vandalieu and other teachers and learned to use martial skills, they would go into beginner-level Dungeons with the monsters that they had tamed.
If they wanted to become adventurers, they would be taken to hunt bandits before they took the exams to be promoted to D-class. There were some bandits that Vandalieu had kept as experimental subjects, destined to be recycled for parts and used to make Undead. But they had no willpower and strength left in them; it was possible that the children would sympathize with them if they were used for the training.
Freshness was important when it came to villains.
“… Van, you’re thinking something really messed up, aren’t you,” said Matthew.
“Matthew, to think that you can tell what I’m thinking just by looking at me. As expected of a good friend. I’m proud,” said Vandalieu.
“You’re not denying it?! What are you going to make us do as our training progresses?!”
“It’s alright, Matthew. You’re not the ones who are going to have messed up things done to you.”
The one talking was a spirit form version of Vandalieu that he had used ‘Embodiment’ on. His main body, the physical one, as well as Legion, were receiving training some distance away.
Zod was facing Vandalieu, who had produced a countless number of muscle-fiber tentacles.
“Do you understand? ‘Muscle Technique’ is not a matter of simply pumping up your muscles. So, can you please return to your ordinary form?” Zod said calmly, truly thankful that their training was in a separate place from that of the orphanage’s children.
“This is quite difficult, isn’t it,” said Vandalieu.
“Nobody has ever acquired it before, after all, not even Schneider. However, practice makes perfect!” said Zod. “The essence of ‘Muscle Technique’ is being aware of every muscle in your body and controlling all of them. Now then, please go ahead and try.”
Legion were making comments of their own.
“Every muscle in our bodies, huh.”
“It sounds more difficult than just building up your muscles.”
As they said, ‘Muscle Technique’ was not something that could be used just by becoming muscular. Even if one became capable of vibrating every muscle in their body to produce electricity, extremely precise control over the muscles was required to direct that electricity at an enemy.
Vandalieu was going through great trouble to try and replace all of the muscles in his body with the Demon King’s muscles to control them, and Legion was attempting to control its body that was made solely of flesh.
“However, there is no need to learn all of my ‘Muscle Technique,’” Zod told them. “In ‘Unarmed Fighting Technique,’ there are some who focus on the fists, and others who focus on kicking. You should find your own ‘Muscle Technique.’”
In other words, it seemed best to aim to acquire a ‘Muscle Technique’ that wasn’t focused on generating electricity in the muscles.
“Hmm, muscles…” said Vandalieu.
But just as he began pondering this, Rita’s voice called out to him.
“Bocchan! It’s time to spend time with your family! And I’ve brought Seris-san and the others!”
She was pushing a wagon loaded with a tea set and cakes, and Darcia was with her, along with Seris and Vestra, the nuns from the orphanage.
And so, Vandalieu took a break from the training.
《The Level of the ‘Monstrous Strength’ Skill has increased!》
《The ‘Commanding’ Skill has awakened into the ‘Group Commander’ Skill!》