Chapter 299: The goddess’s revival and the Great Demon King who carries the names of the champions
Botin, Mother of the Earth and Goddess of Craftsmanship, gazed upon the thing that had appeared before her.
What is this thing? With an appearance that is clearly even more sinister than evil gods… There are things that look like parts of the Demon King here and there on its surface! But for some reason…
Unable to move, she stared upon the grotesque being that possessed a countless number of eyes and limbs. Although she couldn’t see them, her subordinate gods were likely in the same state.
The grotesque being had what were clearly parts of the Demon King Guduranis, embedded and fused with its own body. The Mana emanating from it was similar to Guduranis’s as well.
Considering that, perhaps it was an underling or descendant of one of the creatures that Guduranis had created. But for some reason, she felt something resembling a sense of familiarity towards this grotesque being.
For some reason, looking at this thing calms me.
The grotesque being showed no killing intent or hostility towards Botin and her subordinate gods; it was just wriggling back and forth, and Botin felt like it was saying something.
Even now, she could remember the situation she had been in just before she was sealed away. As for what had happened after she was sealed away, there was nothing to speak of.
While she was sealed away, Botin’s thinking had been frozen. This was likely a measure that had been taken to prevent her from undoing the seal from within.
However, it seemed that the seal had not been powerful enough to actually stop time inside it. Botin had recovered all of her expended strength and all of the damage she had suffered.
It seems that a long time has passed since then. What happened after that?
The moment this question ran through her mind, Botin was suddenly flooded with a vast quantity of information.
Or to be more precise, Vandalieu’s undoing of the seal caused her thinking to become unfrozen, and she became conscious of all of the prayers of her worshippers over the past hundred thousand years.
She learned of the outcome of the war against the Demon King Guduranis, the discord and subsequent war between Vida and Alda, and all of the events that had led up to the present day.
Having understood all of that information, Botin finally became able to hear the voice of the grotesque being… Vandalieu.
“Hello? Can you hear me?”
“I’m terribly sorry, it seems that I was in a bit of a daze. You must be Vandalieu?”
“Yes. Nice to meet you. My name is Vandalieu Zakkart.”
Hearing the ‘Holy Son of Vida’ greet her with a politeness that one would never expect from his grotesque appearance, Botin let out a sigh that bore all sorts of emotion.
“Vida, Ricklent, Zuruwarn, and Zantark have chosen quite the strange one. No, I suppose that’s not right. You were like that from the very beginning,” she said.
Vida and the others had not chosen Vandalieu. Botin realized this and told herself that they had merely accepted him.
It was not by the gods’ choice that Vandalieu’s soul was made of the fragments of Zakkart, Hillwillow and the other creation-oriented champions.
Vida and the others had simply become aware of Vandalieu and acknowledged him as the successor to the champions they had chosen.
He possessed none of the abilities that the champions had received from Botin and the other gods, nor did he possess their memories. The gods had acknowledged this soul… a soul that was no different from any other currently living mortal, in that he was merely a reincarnation of other individuals who had lived in the past.
“Mortal child Vandalieu, who has been acknowledged by Vida and the others. You are the one who undid the seal, aren’t you?”
“Yes. Or to be more precise, I’m currently still undoing it.”
“Yes, my clones are. And I’m also controlling my physical body while I’m in here.”
Botin looked to one side to see a small, white-haired boy releasing Mana towards a black wall… the seal that had been created by the Demon King.
“… This place is something like a Divine Realm, so normally, when a human enters it, their souls leave their body and they become unable to move,” said Botin.
“I’m using Skills to control my body. It seems that I’m a little different from normal,” said Vandalieu.
“Good grief. It seems that you’re still the hard worker, even after being reincarnated. How are you so remarkably similar when you don’t share any memories?”
“I believe it’s probably a coincidence.”
Hearing Vandalieu say something so simple and thoughtless in such a polite tone, Botin gave a cheery laughter. “I see, I see! So, what is it you wanted me to do? Did you want me to help you in your fisticuffs with Alda? Was there something that made you so certain that I would become Vida’s ally?” she questioned, as if testing him.
If she were to be perfectly honest, Botin had no intention to complain about the events that had taken place after she was sealed away, the events leading up to the war between Vida and Alda a hundred thousand years ago. Not the fact that the champion she had chosen was destroyed, not the state the world had been in when Bellwood and the other remaining champions defeated the Demon King, and not the discord that had occurred between Vida and Alda after that.
The gods were the ones who had chosen their champions, and the loss of four of the champions was the gods’ failure.
Following that, when the remaining three champions fought at the forefront, the gods were the ones at fault for being unable to point out strategic errors.
And in the end, when the rift between Vida and Alda grew to the point of no return, Botin had been inside this seal due to her own lack of strength.
Did such powerless gods have the right to complain about anything?
To begin with, the gods were irresponsible and shameless from the very moment when, with their world on the verge of destruction, they asked mortals from another, completely unrelated world to fight for them.
If Botin and the other gods were truly worthy gods, they would never have had to choose champions in the first place. They would have repelled the Demon King Guduranis’s army on their own.
But the reality was that they had chosen to do this irresponsible and shameless thing for the sake of the continued existence of this world. That was how desperate they had been.
That was why Botin had no intention to complain. She could not claim that she was the only one in a desperate situation.
Bellwood and Alda’s blunders were also because they had been in desperate situations.
“It’s not something that made me feel certain, but… there is a girl among my companions who received a Divine Message from Peria. I followed that Divine Message to reach this place,” said Vandalieu.
“Ah, I know about that. I learned it just now, in fact. I’m grateful that you undid the seal. I really am. If you didn’t, I’d probably have stayed sealed away for another hundred thousand years or more,” said Botin.
This much was undeniable… not that Botin intended to deny it, but it was a fact. It was such a great favor that, under normal circumstances, she would grant her savior her divine protection, a Title, and dozens of weapons that she made herself, and it would still not be enough to repay her debt.
Vandalieu had resurrected a great god by undoing a seal that Alda had not been able to put a single scratch on for over a hundred thousand years. To say that it was a great deed that would leave a mark on history would be an understatement.
“But that doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m going to become an ally of Vida and fight against Alda. Nor does it mean that I will approve of every aspect of the way your nation is,” said Botin. “My great savior, would you permit me to express my opinion?”
“I am humble and listening.”
“To put it briefly… or rather, to be frank, it seems to me that you are in a state of peril… despite the fact that in that nation of yours, your continued existence is necessary for the Undead and Monsters to retain their ability to reason.”
The reason given by Botin was the same one given by the ‘Blue-flamed Sword’ Heinz.
“Mmm, that’s painful criticism,” said Vandalieu, accepting these words without opposing them this time now that they were being spoken by Botin, and not the murderer of his mother.
In truth, Vandalieu was aware that the current Demon Empire of Vidal, whose citizens included Undead and certain kinds of monsters, was entirely dependent on his existence.
That was why he grew strong so that he would not die, and why he killed enemies so that he would not be killed by them, but he was also aware that when he fought with his full strength, he often did so in a way that caused injury to himself.
That and other factors made it seem to Botin and the other gods that Vandalieu was in a state of peril in a variety of ways, but there was nothing that could be done about that.
Though Botin was concerned about whether things would be alright in the future, there was nothing he could do to fix or stop the current situation. Even if he replied that it was fine because this was the way things were, Botin would not be convinced by this, so he didn’t know what to do.
“I would at least like you to not become an ally of Alda,” Vandalieu said.
Though Vandalieu didn’t think it was likely, if Botin were to become an ally of Alda, that would mean that he had made this plan spanning over half a year just for him to gain one more enemy.
He wanted to avoid this, but –
“Hmm? Don’t be ridiculous. You’ll find me dead before you see me being a friend of Alda’s,” Botin said simply.
“What do you mean, ‘huh.’ It goes without saying, doesn’t it? It’s true that I might have been on Alda’s side a hundred thousand years ago. I might have done things like scolding Vida for what she did and trying to placate Alda to not be so hasty. But given how Alda has been from the beginning of his war against Vida up until now, there isn’t a single reason for me to be an ally of his.”
Until the war between Vida and Alda began, Botin wouldn’t have been able to say which of them was in the right. After all, everyone had lacked power and everyone had been wrong, including Botin herself.
But from the point where the war between the two gods began, it was simple. Alda was clearly at fault.
“I would never have agreed to begin a deadly war when Vida and those on her side had no intention of fighting. No matter how rash Vida’s actions were, they were not such a great problem that the world would be destroyed if we did not stop her as soon as possible,” said Botin.
From her perspective, it was Alda who was at fault for striking the first blow.
Vida had turned Zakkart into an Undead, and created a variety of new races including Vampires and Ghouls. Botin was aware that Alda was very displeased with this.
At the time, most Undead were enemies of the living, with perhaps one exception in a trillion, and Alda had also been opposed to Zakkart’s act of accepting some of the evil gods of the Demon King’s army as allies.
But that wasn’t a reason for him to begin a war. The Demon King had been sealed away, so they could have taken some more time to talk things out… perhaps even a century or two.
And Alda had committed errors as well. The champions were supposed to teach and guide the people, and yet he had allowed them to behave recklessly, and he should have given more respect to Vida’s words.
“And the fact that he’s trying to exterminate the new races doesn’t sit well with me! I don’t really approve of Vida’s way of thinking, but exterminating her races still doesn’t sit well with me!” Botin said heatedly.
“… Why is that?” Vandalieu asked.
“It’s obvious, isn’t it?! I’m a mother-goddess, you know? There’s no way I could accept exterminating entire races, no matter the good or evil of it, no matter what circumstances there may or may not be!”
Botin was a great god of the earth attribute, and a goddess who ruled over craftsmen and mothers. To her, exterminating a child that had been born was an unforgivable sin, no matter the circumstances.
This was one of her qualities as a god, something that even she herself could not change.
But even gods were far from all-knowing and all-powerful, and mortals were even more powerless than them. Botin knew that their societies were not perfect. That didn’t mean that she tolerated all conflicts between mortals unconditionally, but she would watch and not intervene as long as they had the will to atone for their sins.
But Alda was a god, not a mortal.
“I would keep my distance from mortals, but there is no reason for me to do so with Alda, as we’re both great gods. Of course, I have a word or two for that fool Zantark, and Vida, too,” said Botin.
Vandalieu was convinced by this explanation. He understood that gods ruled over different things and preached different doctrines, so they each had different standards by which they decided whether things were acceptable or not.
Not a single one of Botin’s subordinate gods had interjected in their conversation thus far. Their frozen thinking had only just been unfrozen, so they were currently focused on organizing the information that had just entered their minds, and all of them were in agreement with her, so there was no need for them to speak.
“What happened after the war doesn’t sit well with me either. It’s true that the world has made a great recovery in the past hundred thousand years. There were all kinds of oversights here and there, but I’ve only just woken from a slumber, so it isn’t like I can talk,” said Botin. “However… I do have to question the fact that people have been in continued conflict with Vida’s races for the past hundred thousand years. You’d have to be truly hopeless if even I think that you’re too stubborn. It’s unbelievable.”
Botin was stubborn and conservative, just like the Dwarves. But even from her perspective, Alda’s behavior was absurd.
But that’s probably just him being flustered and acting rashly, resulting in him becoming more close-minded and unable to see anything other than his own thoughts… Why does he trust Rodcorte so much? Even if Rodcorte does today the same as he did yesterday, there is no guarantee that he will do the same again tomorrow. Or perhaps Alda is under the assumption that he is left with no other choice? Botin contemplated.
“Well, that’s how it is,” she said in conclusion. “But I can’t approve of everything about you. So, because you’re in a state of peril, I shall be your ally.”
Vandalieu was extremely confused by this. “I don’t see the connection between the first part and the second part of that.”
“Do you not? I thought this would be the most effective way to go about things with someone like you.”
The events of the past and the current situation didn’t sit well with Botin, and there were many things that she could not approve of. But conflict was not the only available option in the world. Standing in opposition to each other and shouting at one another was one option, but there was also the option of standing alongside one another while exchanging opinions.
Botin had decided quite a while ago that this would be the most effective option to take in dealing with Vandalieu.
“Plus, since it seems that you’re in a state of peril to me, I just need to support you. Even though I’ve been sleeping for the past hundred thousand years, I’m still a god, you know. You’re a mortal, so I’ll lend you a hand or a shoulder whenever you need it,” Botin said.
Her answer to Vandalieu’s state of peril was to lend him her strength. Rather than oppose him due to his situation, she would lend him her strength because of it.
After all, Botin was a god. She was fully accustomed to mortals praying to her for help when they were in trouble.
“But keep in mind that I’m not becoming an ally of Vida or fighting against Alda. I’m just supporting you as a god should. Understood?” she said, touching Vandalieu’s soul, whose appearance could only be described as grotesque, as if patting a child’s head.
“I understand, I think. Thank you,” said Vandalieu.
But it was at this point that some of Botin’s subordinate gods began to voice their objections.
“Please wait! This decision is too hasty. The thoughts of our worshippers alone do not give us an understanding of the gods’ situation.”
“We should speak with Alda-dono and the others first!”
Indeed, the information they had learned from their worshippers’ thoughts told them nothing of what Alda and his allies were thinking or what their current situation was. Vandalieu had come to meet Botin directly, but it was entirely reasonable to suggest it would be unwise to make a decision after hearing only his side of the story.
But Botin shook her head. “I don’t want to do that. As he is now, I don’t think we’ll be able to have any kind of discussion. And seeing his face will probably make me want to punch it. I don’t think I’ll be able to agree with what he’s doing anyway, no matter what his circumstances are.”
“P-please do not say such things… Alda-dono is your brother, is he not, Honorable Mother!” one of the subordinate gods protested.
“Impossible. This is my nature as a god,” Botin said simply.
“What are you saying… Are you not just being biased to that mortal because his soul contains the remains of Hillwillow’s?!” the subordinate god shouted accusingly, denouncing this decision.
Botin nodded. “I am. What’s wrong with that?”
“Huh…?” the subordinate god uttered, taken aback.
One of the other subordinate gods, who had remained silent up until now, put a hand on his shoulder and made him step back.
“Did you think that gods are fair and impartial beings? That is a misunderstanding,” Botin said.
Gods had their biases. They granted their divine protections to a handful of individuals among those they had taken a liking to, those who were exceptionally talented, or those that were devoted to them, and they did not grant their divine protections to those not among these individuals.
To begin with, each god ruled over different things and taught different doctrines; they had different standards by which they measured and decided what was good and evil. That fact alone meant that they were not impartial or anything of the sort.
The remains of the soul of the champion Botin had chosen now resided in Vandalieu. That was more than enough of a reason for her to grant him her divine protection.
“Although you are subordinate gods, you don’t actually have to be in service to me. If you truly detest this child no matter what anyone says, then it cannot be helped,” Botin said. “But I just have one little request. Please don’t make this child… Please don’t make me your enemy.”
These words sent violent tremors through the subordinate gods who had voiced their objections. They were a declaration that her previous statement of being neither an ally of Vida nor an enemy of Alda was merely for the sake of appearances. And they were also a declaration that any ally of Alda would be seen as an enemy of hers, even if they were her own subordinate gods.
“If you still insist on taking Alda’s side, at least make sure you have the willpower to convince him or do whatever is needed to make him stop seeing Vida as an enemy,” Botin continued. “If you can do that, then I won’t stop you.”
The subordinate gods dropped their shoulders and stepped back. Vandalieu watched them, but did nothing, allowing Botin to save face.
“Now then, to thank you for removing this seal, I’d like to grant you a divine protection and Title –”
“Ah, would you mind refraining from giving me a Title?” Vandalieu interjected. “I already have quite a lot of them… Too many, honestly. There’s enough statues, wall paintings, and drawings on the ground of me as it is.”
“… It seems that you’re worshiped more than I am. But I think that’s even more of a reason for me to give you a Title. After all, you’ll probably get a new Title anyway after word gets around that you freed me from the seal. With that being the case, wouldn’t it be better to accept a Title from me now so that you can at least choose what it is?”
Ordinarily, Titles were chosen not by the owner of the Title, but by the masses that used the Title. And in many cases, not everyone used the same Title at first.
For example, if there was a swordsman who achieved something great, some might call him the ‘Strongest Swordsman,’ to praise his strength while others might call him the ‘Fastest Swordsman’ to praise his speed. Others still might praise him for his appearance, or the fortitude and valor he displayed in achieving his great feat.
It wasn’t the gods who ruled over the Status System that determined which of those Titles would be displayed on his Status. His Status would simply display the Title that had the most support.
Thus, it was impossible for anyone to know what Title would be displayed on their Status until it happened.
However, that wasn’t true when the Title in question was granted by someone who was greatly influential… such as the ruler of a nation, or a god. When a Title was granted through such authority, the masses would use the Title that had been granted.
“I see. Then yes, please give me a Title,” Vandalieu said, changing his mind after hearing this explanation.
“Then let’s make it ‘Liberator of Goddesses,’ shall we? You freed Vida as well, so it’s not too grand a Title for you. And let’s add ‘Great Demon King’ while we’re at it. Having the same ‘Demon King’ Title as Guduranis doesn’t leave a great impression.”
“I get the feeling that it doesn’t make a lot of difference… but thank you.”
“And this one is a request from me, but… will you take up the name of another champion… will you take up Hillwillow’s name, as you have taken Zakkart’s? As a middle name, you know.”
Vandalieu had been reincarnated too many times since Hillwillow’s death to really be called a reincarnation of Hillwillow. And although he was a descendant of Zakkart, who was one of the parents of the Vampire ancestor, not a drop of Hillwillow’s blood ran through his veins.
But even so, Botin could not help herself from making this request.
Sensing the emotion behind Botin’s words, Vandalieu nodded.
“If you’re sure that I am worthy of it,” he said.
He had already taken the name of one champion. Taking the name of a second didn’t bother him at all.
“I can’t thank you enough for everything. Thank you,” said Botin. “Now then, I think it’s time you went back outside. Your body and clones will work faster if the soul is working with them, won’t they?”
Vandalieu’s soul and physical body vanished silently – presumably, they had gone back outside the seal.
As if replacing him, a familiar face appeared.
“Bo –” the familiar figure began to speak.
But Botin cut him off with a spirited battle cry as she punched this familiar face. She had the feeling that he was trying to say something but gave him no chance to do so; she sank her fist into his cheek and followed through on her punch to complete the motion.
The subordinate gods began shouting in alarm.
“Zantark-sama has been sent flying!”
“H-honorable Mother! Please calm yourself, Honorable Mother! Although he seems to have combined with various things, it is likely Zantark-sama!”
“Madness! Botin-sama has gone mad!”
The subordinate gods that had remained silent while Vandalieu was here all began trying to suppress Botin. In this, they were united and acting as one.
“I’m well aware of who it is!” Botin said angrily.
Dragging the subordinate gods that were grappling with her to hold her back, she turned to face her brothers and sisters that had appeared in this space.
“Wow… Zantark came prepared, but he became a ragdoll in an instant,” said Zuruwarn, the God of Space and Creation, astounded by Botin’s strike.
“I would like you to show some restraint. We would certainly like to avoid Zantark being forced into a slumber by your hand,” said Ricklent, the Genie of Time and Magic, expressionless as ever.
“Umm… I’m sorry!” said Vida, the Goddess of Life and Love, bowing her head.
In Lambda’s mythology, Zantark was regarded as Botin’s husband, with whom she had given birth to the Dwarf race.
Botin smiled at Vida… her sister who had mated with Zantark to create the Majin and Kijin races.
And then she strongly pinched both her cheeks.
“Ow, ow, ow! Tha’ ‘urts!” Vida cried out in pain.
“There. Alright, I forgive you!” said Botin.
“Hyuh? Rea’y?” said Vida in surprise.
Botin let go of her cheeks and nodded with a laugh. “It’s fine, all’s forgiven. I know that there were all kinds of circumstances.”
“If Botin were to keep arguing with Vida and Zantark, it’s possible that it would cause problems for Vida’s races. It is not her intention to make the Majin and Kijin feel shame for that, I suppose,” said Ricklent.
“The concept of marriage was pretty vague back then, anyway. And according to myths and legends, pairing was quite different for us gods,” said Zuruwarn.
Ricklent and Zuruwarn had been in a state of slumber at the time Vida mated with Zantark; they were discussing it in a matter-of-fact manner as if it had nothing to do with them.
“You two haven’t changed, always saying unnecessary things… but, well, you’re completely right. I’ve punched Zantark and pinched Vida’s cheeks, but I’m not truly angry. And that’s that for this topic,” said Botin, shaking Vida’s hand. “It seems like you’ve had a tough time, too,” she said, looking in the direction Zantark had flown.
“… Thanks, Botin,” groaned the god of war, who was struggling to get back on his feet.
Ricklent couldn’t help but mutter “pitiful” under his breath.
“Leaving that aside, let’s talk about the fact that you’ve all come here at a time like this. Surely you didn’t come here just to say hello to an old friend?” said Botin.
“Of course not. In its intact state, this seal would be utterly untouchable from the inside or outside by anyone other than Vandalieu Ark Zakkart, but… now that a tear has been made, we are able to assist in undoing it,” said Ricklent.
The seal in which Guduranis sealed Botin and her subordinates had been so perfect that neither Alda nor Bellwood had been able to make a mark on it, and it had even shut out the effects of the dense miasma of the Demon King’s Continent. But as Ricklent said, there was now a tear in it, large enough for the great gods to enter.
Now, it was possible for them to undo the seal.
Botin gave a quizzical frown. “Vandalieu… Ark? Don’t you mean Vandalieu Hillwillow Zakkart?”
“I acknowledge that he has agreed to take the names of other champions. Thus, he will likely agree to taking Ark’s name as well, not just Hillwillow’s,” said Ricklent.
“I mean, I did ask him to do that, but… you’re just going to jump on the bandwagon, then?! Is this normal?!” Botin exclaimed, surprised at Ricklent doing this without even asking for Vandalieu’s consent.
Still expressionless, Ricklent nodded. “Now is not the time to be quibbling amongst ourselves. Vandalieu’s companions are in the midst of battle, at this very moment.”
This was his manner of speaking.
“I should have punched you along with Zantark,” Botin muttered in complaint.
But Ricklent spoke the truth, so she and her subordinate gods gathered their strength to help undo the seal as well.
“But if we do that, then poor Solder will be left out, won’t she?” said Vida as she put her strength into attacking the seal as well.
With Vandalieu’s power, the wall of Mana was melting, and a large fissure appeared in the seal that was now starting to become undone.
“I don’t think we need to be concerned about that. She’s a tough one,” said Botin.
And with a noise that sounded like a porcelain piece being broken, the seal was undone and Botin was freed.
《Your name has changed to Vandalieu Ark Hillwillow Solder Zakkart!》
《You have acquired the ‘Liberator of Goddesses’ Title!》
《The ‘Demon King’ Title has become ‘Great Demon King!’》