Chapter 342: Rikudou Hijiri misses an opportunity
“You wouldn’t mind a battle to the death? That’s what I like to hear,” said Edgar, unsheathing his dagger and stepping forward.
“Wait, Edgar,” said Heinz, trying to stop him. “That’s just one of Vandalieu’s familiars. There’s no point in fighting it.”
“I know that!” Edgar spat.
He seemed unable to calm down. He glared at the crab-like Demon King Familiar, looking like he was about to leap forth to attack at any moment.
Through the Demon King Familiar’s eyes, Vandalieu watched Edgar expectantly, but he eventually backed down. With no other choice, the Demon King Familiar looked up.
A skull-like face was embedded in the middle of the crab-like Demon King Familiar’s belly. It was so repulsive that the adventurers working with Heinz and Selen let out small screams and groans.
Vandalieu took no notice of them and began speaking.
“It seems that this will not turn into a battle to the death, so let us move on… Why are you people heading to the capital of Orbaume?” he asked, speaking with a fluidness that made it difficult to believe that his voice was coming from the mouth of the skull where the enormous crab’s mouth should be.
“… While we were in the Dungeon of Trials, we investigated what was going on outside through our contacts,” Heinz replied cautiously.
He knew that Vandalieu’s state of mind was the exact opposite of the calm and collected demeanor his tone of voice was showing – as was evident in the first words he had spoken after his presence was noticed.
“From the information we gathered, we learned that you left the Alcrem Duchy and that you’re in Central Orbaume now. The prime minister is gathering fragments of the Demon King, and you’ve grown close to the youngest daughter of the Sauron house and the eldest daughter of the Hartner house. I don’t think there’s anything strange about us believing that there’s something going on in Orbaume and wanting to see for ourselves,” said Heinz.
“… I suppose that’s true,” said Vandalieu.
He had always known that if he continued to remain active in Orbaume, it was possible that Heinz would make his appearance there. But when he first began his activity in Orbaume, he had expected that Heinz would need at least a year of training to master the use of Bellwood’s power, so he had believed that the probability of Heinz coming to Orbaume was low.
However, Vandalieu himself and Prime Minister Tercatanis were making significant moves, causing Heinz and his companions to cut their training short and emerge from the Dungeon early.
Edgar urging them to do so had been one reason, but immediately after Edgar’s suggestion to leave, they had also received information from a noble of Alda’s peaceful faction that the prime minister, who had been considered to be a devoted worshiper of Alda, had made an unprecedented proposal at a council meeting.
The results of their training weren’t sufficient yet, but if they were to stay holed up in the Dungeon, it was possible that the situation would become critical. It was only natural for them to think that.
“I can understand that, but why is she here?” Vandalieu asked, pointing a pincer at Selen – the Dhampir girl who was the sole non-combatant among Heinz’s group.
Perhaps wanting to have as little to do with her as possible, he was not only averting his gaze, but physically pointing his eyes away from her.
“If you believe that you can use her as a trump card against me, you’re gravely mistaken,” Vandalieu warned.
We have no intention of doing that, but it’s really effective, Jennifer and Delizah thought silently.
“I-I–” Selen stammered.
“Selen is in our company for her own safety. Even though you defeated the Pure-breed Vampires, there are still plenty who would target her simply because she’s a Dhampir,” said Heinz.
Although their knowledge was incomplete, Heinz and his companions were aware of the things that Vandalieu and his companions had accomplished, due to information provided by Alda, the Goddess of Slumber Mill, as well as Bellwood, who had told them everything the gods knew.
However, even Alda and his subordinates had no knowledge of the things Vandalieu had done in the absence of Alda’s worshipers and in places that the gods could not see… inside the Boundary Mountain Range, on the Demon Continent, in Gartland, and on the Demon King’s Continent after the Boulder Colossus Gorn and the other demigods of Alda’s forces were defeated. Thus, Heinz had no way of knowing these things, either.
They were able to observe at a distance from the skies above, so they knew that Vandalieu had purified some of the Devil’s Nests along with Bakunawa, and that an enormous statue of him had been built in Talosheim.
Like Heinz said, there were still many who wished harm upon Selen because she was a Dhampir, such as the remnants of Vampire organizations who worshiped evil gods – or rather, the criminal organizations that called themselves that – as well as Alda’s radical faction and the anti-peace faction.
Many of them could be kept at bay by Duke Farzon and their allies in Alda’s peaceful faction, but Heinz and his companions believed that there was no safer place for Selen than with them, where they could keep an eye on her.
Vandalieu could understand this, as he had kept Mei and Hiroshi inside one of his Inner Worlds for their own safety. Of course, it was possible that he would need to force Rikudou into one of his Inner Worlds to fight there, so he had let them out of his Inner World and was having them spend their time in the Demon Empire of Vidal and Silkie Zakkart Mansion.
This was a precautionary measure that Vandalieu had taken because it was possible that, if the situation called for it, he would need to annihilate some of his Inner Worlds, including the one Rikudou was trapped in – in other worlds, he would need to annihilate a part of his own body.
In any case, he could understand why Selen was accompanying them, but he still needed to warn them.
“… If you’re thinking that she will be a deterrence for us, then I’ll tell her about that,” Vandalieu said.
But Heinz and his companions were entirely unfazed, as was Selen.
“So, you’ve already told her,” Vandalieu realized.
“Yeah. We’ve told Selen everything about what we did to you and your mother in the Mirg Shield-nation. And we don’t intend to use her as a deterrence… though I think there are moves being made to use her politically,” said Heinz, looking down with an apologetic expression.
“I’m sure there are. I couldn’t care less about that,” said Vandalieu.
Selen was a Dhampir who was under the protection of Heinz, the leader of Alda’s peaceful faction. From the perspective of the clergymen of Alda’s peaceful faction and the nobles who supported the peaceful faction, she was an important symbol. Treating her as an ordinary little girl and not using her politically was out of the question.
From the perspective of Vandalieu and his companions, who advocated for Vida fundamentalism, this was not something that they could welcome, but… this wasn’t the matter that Vandalieu wished to discuss on this occasion, so he decided to move on.
“Now then, on to the main topic… Do you plan to cooperate with Rikudou Hijiri, the one who is likely behind the actions of Prime Minister Tercatanis?” Vandalieu asked.
In the unlikely event that Heinz and his companions did intend to work with Rikudou, he would need to strike the Five-colored Blades down here and now, before they could join forces.
“Rikudou Hijiri… That’s the name that we heard from Asagi, a collaborator of the research into the Demon King fragments that Duke Birgitt is carrying out. Is he manipulating the prime minister?” Heinz asked in turn.
It seemed that, as expected, the Five-colored Blades and Alda were not working with Rikudou.
“So, Asagi visited you,” Vandalieu murmured.
“Yeah. He said that you used to be friends –” Heinz began.
“For the sake of my own dignity, I must declare that this is not true,” Vandalieu interrupted. “We were just classmates… strangers who just happened to be a part of the same twenty or thirty-person group in the same place at the same time.”
“Classmates… So, like people who entered Adventurers’ School at the same time as you. Alright. Anyway, when we talked, he warned us about Rikudou Hijiri. Is he a death-attribute mage as well?” Heinz asked.
“Yes. But I wouldn’t like you to assume that I’m the same as him just because of that, of course,” said Vandalieu.
“I think Asagi said something similar when he was explaining things to us,” said Heinz. “But for some reason, he warned us about one of your companions, a reincarnated individual named Kanako Tsuchiya, even more strongly than he warned us about Rikudou…”
Vandalieu was so exasperated that his killing intent and wariness towards Heinz vanished. Rikudou had almost laid waste to the world of Origin, and this had only been prevented by Vandalieu’s intervention. He had caused chaotic events that would be recorded in history. How could anyone consider Kanako to be more dangerous than him?
Vandalieu couldn’t understand this. It was true that Kanako, Doug, and Melissa had betrayed Asagi and the others in their previous lives, so he could understand some resentment. But the same was true for Rikudou, the one who had been manipulating Kanako and the others from the shadows.
If Asagi’s insistence that Kanako was a great threat was going to be spread in various regions, it might be better to question him thoroughly and ask him what his intentions were… Vandalieu wouldn’t kill him just because of a difference in opinion, but simply letting these harmful rumors circulate would be problematic, too.
If Asagi were simply an ordinary person, this would just be a matter of opinion. But Asagi was a significantly high-ranking adventurer, and he was under Duke Birgitt’s employment, so his statements were more influential than those of the average person.
I wish Asagi would be more aware of that, Vandalieu thought.
But Kanako was an ‘Artistic Guider’ who converted people to worship Vida through her live performances and concerts, so it wasn’t wrong to warn Heinz and his companions that she was a threat, as she opposed them in terms of religion… though Asagi and his group didn’t know that Kanako was an ‘Artistic Guider’ and they weren’t particularly devout worshipers of the gods; that wasn’t what they had meant when they warned Heinz about her.
Suddenly, an archer from the adventurer party that was accompanying Heinz and his companions screamed as he fired an arrow at the Demon King Familiar… at Vandalieu.
“W-wait!” shouted Jennifer.
The archer was in a state of extreme tension. Vandalieu had stated, “I wouldn’t mind a battle to the death,” and he had been constantly radiating his killing intent which had only grown more and more intense over time. The Demon King Familiar having a repulsive form had also heightened his tension.
With Vandalieu’s killing intent vanishing, the archer had reflexively attacked, thinking that this was an opening for him to do so.
After the archer released his arrow, the others in the adventurer party drew their swords and spears, and began reciting incantations for spells. Jennifer’s shouts trying to stop them went unheard. But a moment later–
“‘Radiant Steel Wall!’” shouted Delizah, leaping in front of the archer.
There was an enormous noise – the sound of two objects colliding. Delizah’s shield had stopped the Demon King Familiar’s pincers.
“Wha–?!” the archer uttered in shock.
Vandalieu had attacked with one of the Demon King Familiar’s pincers at a speed that the archer couldn’t react to, and Delizah had blocked it.
Heinz pointed his sword at the crab’s head of the Demon King Familiar. “I apologize for the ineptitude on our part. But I would like to continue this conversation.”
The archer’s arrow lay at his feet. He had struck it down with his sword, preventing it from reaching the Demon King Familiar.
“… Your friend was aiming for my face. Should you not be pointing your sword there?” Vandalieu asked.
“If you’re talking about that skull, I find it difficult to believe that you would make such an obvious weak spot. Your real weakness is here, isn’t it?” said Heinz.
“As vexed as I am to admit this, you are right. Now then, let us get back to the conversation.”
His other pincer was being held down by Edgar. With no other choice, Vandalieu gave up on starting a battle to the death.
Vandalieu logically knew which he should prioritize killing first – the Five-colored Blades or Rikudou.
He wanted to kill the Five-colored Blades, and they were likely the stronger enemy, as they could use the power of heroic spirits and the heroic god Bellwood. But Rikudou Hijiri was the more dangerous one.
Through this Demon King Familiar, he could sense just how strong the Five-colored Blades were. But Vandalieu and the companions who could fight with him couldn’t leave Orbaume in order to kill Heinz.
If Rikudou used that opportunity to unleash a shockwave of death like he had in Origin, carrying out an indiscriminate massacre, the results would be unbearable to look at.
If the shockwaves had the same power as they had in Origin, those with the Vitality of a D-class adventurer or more would likely be able to withstand a single shockwave. They might be able to withstand any subsequent shockwaves using spells, Magic Items, or martial skills.
But even if Orbaume’s adventurers and knights were to survive, everyone who had never fought a battle before in their lives would be wiped out.
Ordinarily, Vandalieu would have no obligation to protect the capital of a nation that he hadn’t formally established diplomatic relations with, but… even though his social position in Orbaume was temporary, he was still an adventurer, a tamer, and a merchant, and he belonged to the respective Guilds for those professions.
He had been under the care of the administrator of the Alcrem House, and he had formed ties with Duke Hadros Jahan… He was past the point of having the luxury of considering whether he had an obligation or not.
Thus, he couldn’t leave Orbaume, even if it was to kill Heinz and his companions.
“Rikudou’s immediate goal is likely to kill me,” said Vandalieu, redirecting his thoughts back to his conversation with Heinz and directing his killing intent and wariness towards him once more.
Heinz sheathed his sword… though Edgar refused to back down until Heinz forced him to.
“Immediate goal, you say? So that isn’t his final goal?” asked Delizah, who had gone back to stand next to Heinz.
“If Rikudou has been reincarnated in this world, it’s unlikely that things will end with just killing me. If he manages to kill me, I suppose he would do in this world what he tried to do in Origin… the world he lived in during his previous life,” said Vandalieu.
Of course, it was possible that Rikudou had made a deal with Rodcorte like the ‘Gungnir’ Kanata, where he would kill himself after killing Vandalieu so that he could be reincarnated in another world. But Vandalieu believed that this was unlikely.
He couldn’t imagine that Rodcorte would want to have a death-attribute mage like Rikudou, who was capable of causing an explosive increase in Undead numbers, reincarnated in yet another world.
Well, I suppose it’s possible if he applied curses that restrict what he can do, like he did to me. But that’s not something that I need to be worried about, Vandalieu thought.
Rather than think about what would happen if he were to be killed, it would be better to focus on working to succeed in killing Rikudou.
“What he tried to do in another world… Do you mean to say that he’ll try to become a god of this world? But that’s certainly possible in this world…” said Heinz.
“He won’t use the peaceful and time-consuming method of receiving people’s worship and becoming a god after he dies. I can’t imagine that Alda and the others would approve of that, either,” said Vandalieu. “At most, I would say that he might destroy all existing nations and brainwash whoever’s left into worshiping him.”
Vandalieu had opposed public opinion to protest the construction of the enormous statue of him, as well as the construction of the theme park (Great Church) with attractions depicting his own life. Although he could imagine and comprehend what Rikudou Hijiri was thinking, it wasn’t something that he could truly understand and empathize with.
To begin with, having a physical body meant that he could live without receiving worship from anyone, and if he wanted to live a successful life, then he could aim for something like uniting the Bahn Gaia continent into a single nation.
“I see. No matter how I look at it, he’s an even more dangerous being than you. Can we join forces until this Rikudou person is defeated?” Heinz suggested.
“That would be impossible,” Vandalieu replied, immediately rejecting this repulsive idea.
“… Won’t you at least give it some consideration?” said Heinz with a sour expression.
But this was something that was not possible from Vandalieu’s perspective.
“If you saw a horde of Orcs and a horde of Ogres fighting each other, which horde would you side with?” Vandalieu said. “Ah, I’m not comparing you people to Orcs or Ogres. I’m just giving an example that’s easy to understand.”
In the scenario described by Vandalieu, an adventurer would either let the two hordes fight it out and then exterminate the survivors, or simply make their escape while the two hordes fought each other. A particularly battle-crazed adventurer might join in on the battle, wanting to exterminate both hordes with his own hands.
But the adventurer would not choose to ally himself with either the Orcs or the Ogres. The moment he stood next to his would-be allies, they would attack him.
“Therefore, I would like you to not interfere and stay away from Orbaume until my companions and I have defeated Rikudou. That’s the matter I wanted to discuss today,” Vandalieu said.
His business with the Five-colored Blades… his request to them, was that they don’t interfere. Given that it was impossible for them to cooperate with each other, he wanted to avoid it becoming a three-way battle.
However, it pained Vandalieu to postpone this opportunity to kill Heinz and his companions, which was why he had prefaced the conversation with, “I wouldn’t mind a battle to the death.”
He had gone to the effort of keeping this Demon King Familiar’s capabilities restricted to the point that Heinz and his companions would be able to defeat it without too much of a struggle so that even if a battle to the death were to unfold, Heinz and his companions would defeat it quickly, giving Vandalieu plenty of time to calm down.
Believing that this contradiction-filled discussion was over, Vandalieu began to scuttle away so that the Demon King Familiar could kill itself somewhere far away from Heinz and his companions, ensuring that they couldn’t harvest the materials created by fragments of the Demon King.
But as he began to leave–
“Wait!” Selen shouted. “Heinz-oniichan and everyone else are really important to me! That’s why–”
“I understand that,” said Vandalieu, deciding to interrupt her before she said any more.
He had no resentment for her, but given how close she was to the Five-colored Blades, it was difficult to avoid her getting involved. And although he didn’t imagine that they would meet again, he believed it would be better for both her and for his own mental health that he made things clear here rather than repeating the same thing over and over again.
“I have a good idea of your circumstances. You wrote about them in your letters, after all. No matter what these people did in the past, it’s only natural for you to be grateful to them for saving your life, and it’s only natural for you to think of them as family after spending long periods of time with them. I understand that,” Vandalieu said.
Selen had an expression of surprise on her face. Diana and Jennifer looked bewildered as well, not having expected that Vandalieu would show understanding.
“But that’s all,” Vandalieu continued. “They may be important to you, but that’s not a reason for me to not kill them.”
Selen was staggered by the firmness of the rejection in Vandalieu’s words. “But that’s…”
“That’s how it is. After they took you into their care, the Five-colored Blades attacked a settlement of Merfolk who possessed a sealed fragment of the Demon King, didn’t they? Those Merfolk also had people who thought of them as important. But the Five-colored Blades attacked and killed countless numbers of those Merfolk. This is no different from that.”
Heinz and his companions were taken aback as they remembered the commission they had carried out for Duke Farzon in the past.
“Don’t tell me, those Merfolk and the sealed fragment of the Demon King…” Heinz murmured.
“The Merfolk who worship Marisjafar, the Righteous Evil God of the Crimson South Sea, and the Majin who had friendly relations with them, are under my care. The fragment of the Demon King they possessed is now in my possession. This is one of the reasons I want to kill you people,” said Vandalieu, thinking of the Merfolk queen Doraneza and the Beast-Majin Dediria.
“… One of the reasons, you say. That means that it isn’t the main reason, right? Can’t you forgive Heinz and the others?” asked Jennifer in an anguished voice.
Vandalieu’s thoughts froze.
“They turned your mother in because it was a commission at the Adventurers’ Guild in the Amid Empire,” Jennifer continued. “And even though your mother died, she’s alive again now, isn’t she? We don’t know how, but she is. So–”
“Jennifer, get back!” Heinz shouted in warning.
With no thoughts running through his mind at all, Vandalieu approached Jennifer and swung his pincers down towards her in a hammer-like attack, which Heinz blocked with his sword.
The pincers on Vandalieu’s other arm moved, trying to smash through Heinz to get to Jennifer.
“‘Sonic Slash!’” shouted Edgar, cutting the pincers down.
“Edgar!” Heinz said angrily.
“He started it! I had no choice!” Edgar protested.
“Heinz, Edgar is right! And he is not finished yet!” warned Diana.
Indeed, Vandalieu wasn’t done. A countless number of tentacles grew from the limb that Edgar had severed, and were trying to attack Jennifer even now.
The skull-like face on the crab’s belly opened its mouth wide, and a black pipe extended from its mouth. And with a thunderous noise, it fired something.
“‘Strengthen All Attributes!’” shouted Diana, strengthening the Attribute Values of her companions.
“‘Radiant Steel Wall!’” shouted Delizah, using her shield to block the crystal projectile that the Demon King Familiar had fired with ‘Artillery Technique.’
“Thousand Radiant Exploding Fists!” shouted Jennifer, striking down the tentacles with high-speed punches.
“Damn it, there’s no other way,” Heinz muttered. “‘Blue Light Flame Blade!’”
Heinz unleashed a slashing attack that cut diagonally through the Demon King Familiar’s torso.
Purple blood sprayed into the air, which instantaneously evaporated to produce a poisonous mist.
“Get back! It’s poison!” warned Heinz, realizing that there was a highly volatile poison in the Demon King Familiar’s blood.
Everyone immediately leapt back to create some distance.
The Demon King Familiar made no attempts to pursue them, and despite the two halves of its crab-like head now being misaligned on a diagonal axis, it stopped moving and spoke. “Hmm? What were we talking about? … Ah, yes. You asked whether I could forgive Heinz and the other two.”
Vandalieu continued the conversation through the Demon King Familiar as if the exchange of attacks had never happened. As if he was completely unaware that he was wounded.
“It’s true that my companions and I resurrected my mother. But I don’t understand why that would be a reason to forgive Heinz. If it was the Five-colored Blades who had resurrected her, then I suppose I could understand it.”
Darcia had come back to life. But that had been accomplished by Vandalieu and his companions, and Heinz and his party hadn’t cooperated or helped in any way.
If a victim makes a recovery through their own efforts, do they have an obligation to forgive the aggressor who caused their suffering, even when the aggressor contributed nothing towards their recovery? This was a foolish idea that Vandalieu could not accept.
“And you killed my mother twice, Heinz. I will kill you so that it does not happen a third time,” Vandalieu said.
“But killing Heinz does not guarantee your mother’s safety! You have many enemies other than Heinz, don’t you? And if you did kill Heinz, what if we feel hatred for you because of it and decide to take revenge on you?!” exclaimed Diana.
“It’s as you say, but so what? If you people seek to take revenge on me, all I need to do is crush you. Over and over again, for all eternity, as long as I exist.”
What Diana said was indeed reasonable. Killing Heinz and the others responsible for her death would not guarantee Darcia’s safety.
Even on Earth, where monsters didn’t exist, there was a constant risk of being killed in a traffic accident or a natural disaster. Killing Heinz would be nothing more than eliminating one of a countless number of dangers… but to Vandalieu, Heinz was the greatest danger, and there was much significance in eliminating that danger.
And even if killing Heinz and his companions were to cause a cycle of revenge, so what? Hatred was cyclical in nature. Even if Vandalieu were to break the cycle of his hatred for Heinz and his companions, there would always be hatred between different people in different places, until the end of time.
He had already killed a countless number of people, and there were people who hated him for that. If they were to learn that Vandalieu was the one behind these deaths, they would surely seek to take revenge on him.
And Vandalieu would continue to kill people. It was likely that he would end up killing Prime Minister Tercatanis, too.
The idea that there would be an end to all conflict one day was nothing more than an illusion. Living creatures had always fought one another, and they continued to do so now. There were evil spirits who could not forget their grudges and their hatred even after their deaths.
That was why Vandalieu had no reason to forgive Heinz and his companions, and he had no obligation to do so.
“Is that everything you wanted to ask?” said Vandalieu. “You, the archer over there. Sorry about what happened earlier. I was tense as well, so I hope we can just call it a mistake caused by tension on both sides. Now then… Hmm? I can’t… move… very well…?”
The Demon King Familiar tried to turn around once more, but this movement caused the upper part of its torso to slide completely off the lower part, causing it to split in two. Seemingly having reached its limit, it began crumbling into dust, starting at its extremities.
“… You don’t even have anything to say to me?” Jennifer whispered.
“I’m sure he doesn’t even remember attacking you,” said Delizah. “All of his conscious thought was overwritten by his anger… I think that’s the kind of state he was in, which is why he continued the conversation like nothing happened.”
Hearing this, Jennifer broke out into a cold sweat. If this was true, that would mean she had punched a hole in a dragon’s tail with her foot. It was fortunate that Vandalieu had come with a split entity rather than in person.
At the same time, she realized that it might be possible to direct Vandalieu’s attacks away from Heinz and the others and towards herself if the situation called for it, by saying what she had said earlier… though she would also need a way to avoid being immediately killed after directing his attacks towards herself. It would be wise to at least use ‘Heroic Spirit Descent’ before attempting this.
“… It was not as strong as I thought it would be. Its Rank was around 11, I would guess?” said Diana.
The crab-type Demon King Familiar itself hadn’t been that powerful. The fact that Heinz and his companions had defeated it without Heinz using ‘Heroic God Descent’ or Delizah and the others using ‘Heroic Spirit Descent’ was proof of that.
But that was only because Vandalieu had limited the Demon King Familiar’s strength to that extent.
“That sounds about right. But like Heinz said, it was something like a familiar of Vandalieu’s, or a split entity. It’s a pawn that he can create any number of. Don’t go thinking that Vandalieu himself won’t be that strong,” Edgar said, warning the adventurers who were traveling with them, though it wasn’t as if he had discerned that fact himself.
The moment I saw that crab, my head was burning with rage. Why was I so angry? Is it because I was almost killed by him before? he wondered, bewildered by his own actions and emotions.
He arrived at the conclusion that it had to be because he had almost been killed by Vandalieu before, and his feelings of confusion settled down.
That’s right. I was almost killed before, so it’s only natural to get angry. It wasn’t just me; Heinz and Delizah suffered a lot as well, and it was traumatizing for Jennifer and Diana, too. It’s normal for me to get that angry, isn’t it?
That was the conclusion reached by the remainder of Edgar’s personality.
The tiny, powdered pieces of the soul of the Demon King Guduranis mixed into his soul felt anger. How dare Vandalieu use parts of his own body to create this monster-caricature familiar…
To compare it to a human’s emotions, it was as if he had been shown evidence of being degraded in terrible ways while he was unconscious.
Just a little longer. I only need to endure this for just a little longer, the soul dust told itself as it continued to lurk in the depths of Edgar’s soul.
“Onii-chan…” Selen mumbled.
“Sorry for scaring you, Selen,” said Heinz, patting her head to comfort her.
“… Are you still going to Orbaume?” Selen asked.
“Yeah. If this reincarnated individual named Rikudou Hijiri is dangerous, we can’t let him go free… and we can’t leave it all to Vandalieu,” said Heinz.
He had an even stronger intent to go to Orbaume now – the opposite of what Vandalieu had hoped for.
But now, I can’t afford to be killed by him until we put an end to Rikudou Hijiri’s ambitions, he thought.
Heinz had intended to offer up his own life to Vandalieu when they met, depending on the conditions. The conditions he intended to ask for were a guarantee on the safety of Selen and his companions, a guarantee that Vandalieu wouldn’t attack Alda’s peaceful faction so long as they remained peaceful (through directly taking lives, rather than just religious opposition), and a guarantee that he would protect humans as well, not just members of Vida’s races.
The last condition was little more than some extra reassurance. Heinz was willing to unhesitatingly give up his own life if Vandalieu was willing to keep these promises and swear on Vida and his mother’s names. Bellwood, Edgar, Delizah, and the others were all aware of this – though he hadn’t told Selen yet.
Alda would likely oppose this, but Heinz had decided that he would give up his own life, and Alda couldn’t force him to change his mind.
Instructing him not to do it through a Divine Message would have no effect, and the threat of taking away his divine protection wasn’t a punishment to someone who had decided to die. Alda was powerless to stop this.
And Heinz believed that if Alda lost a hero like him, he would lose the core of the force that he intended to use to fight against Vandalieu.
He didn’t intend to over-value himself, but a hero like him was someone that even Alda wouldn’t be able to prepare so easily. If heroes with strength equal or greater to his could be created so easily within a hundred or a thousand years, this world would have long since taken the form that Alda desired.
After all, a hundred thousand years had passed since the battle against the Demon King Guduranis, and fifty thousand years had passed since the heroic god Bellwood was sealed away by the Evil God of Sinful Chains. If Alda had the ability to restore the world, he would have done so. The fact that he hadn’t meant that he did not have the ability to do so… though this was likely at least in part due to the appearance of Vandalieu, a greater threat to Alda than the remnants of the Demon King’s army.
But if Vandalieu were to lose to Rikudou Hijiri after I gave up my life to him, there would be nobody left to protect this world. I can only make this proposal to Vandalieu after Rikudou Hijiri is defeated, Heinz thought.
Meanwhile, in Silkie Zakkart Mansion in Orbaume, Vandalieu was looking like a corpse.
“Vandalieu, you did your best. I’m proud of you,” said Darcia, scooping him up into her arms.
“Ugh…” Vandalieu groaned.
“There, there, Van. Good boy, good boy,” said Pauvina, patting his head.
But it was impossible to tell whether Vandalieu was saying ‘ah’ or ‘ugh,’ or whether these were just wordless sounds of air escaping his lungs.
“Have some juuuice,” said Eisen, offering some juice made with her own fruit.
“Van-sama! Here’s some steak decorated with gold dust, soup with gold dust in it, and an enormous pudding!” said Eleanora, having prepared various dishes decorated with gold dust.
“Hmm, should we prepare a bath of gold coins? But the last time we tried this, he was not particularly pleased, saying that it is not actually very practical… Well, it is worth a try,” said Zadiris, deciding to go ahead and prepare a bathtub filled with gold coins instead of hot water.
“Van, look! This is the relaxed pose that you like… and this is the double biceps pose!” said Yuuma, showing off her spectacularly muscular body.
But Vandalieu showed little reaction.
“Damn it, me on my own isn’t enough… Oh yeah! What about Van’s Inner Worlds? Isn’t there someone in there we can count on?!” said Yuuma.
“Ulrica-san, Mari-san and the others are in Talosheim with Mei-chan… The only one in there now is the former emperor,” said Darcia.
“What bad timing…!” Yuuma groaned. “We can’t recall Legion and the others from the castle, either… and Bone Man doesn’t even have any muscles anyway.”
Saria and Rita, who didn’t have any muscles either, stood up to send reinforcements.
“Arthur-san, Simon-san, pose!” Saria said. “You have muscles that we don’t, after all! You too, Natania-san!”
“Huh?!” Natania exclaimed. “What do you mean, pose? I don’t even have limbs…”
“You have your abdominal muscles, your latissimus dorsi, your pectoralis major, and your gluteus maximus, don’t you!” said Rita. “Arthur-san and Simon-san, please take your clothes off so that your muscles are easier to see! Or rather, take your clothes off, right now!”
“W-wait!” Arthur protested. “Saria-san, Rita-san, I can’t strip down to my underwear in the presence of underage–”
“Who told you to strip down to your underwear, Arthur-san?! Take all your clothes off!” Rita demanded.
“Th-that is unreasonable! Please spare me!” Arthur shouted.
“N-Nii-san! Run! Now’s your chance!” said Kalinia, standing between the maid sisters and Arthur.
Simon screamed in terror. “Master! Wake up, PLEEEEASE!”
“Rita-san, Saria-san, please calm down! Vandalieu-san wouldn’t demand them to become completely naked, either!” said Miriam.
But Rita and Saria had almost completely lost their minds after seeing Vandalieu in a state that they had never seen before. Miriam and Kalinia were trying to protect Arthur and the others’ not-so-delicate skin from them.
Meanwhile, Sam, Pete, and Pain, who had used their ‘Size Alteration’ and ‘Shrink’ Skills to shrink themselves to an appropriate size, formed a spectacular parade decorated with Berkert, Princess Levia, and the other Ghosts.
“Look, Bocchan, it’s a paraaade,” said Sam.
Pete hissed loudly and Pain squeaked energetically.
“Sparkle-sparkle, sparkle-spa-sparkle, I’m sparkle-sparkly!” said Berkert.
Orbia let out shocked noises, as she was being electrocuted.
“Kimberley-san! Your electricity is short-circuiting into Orbia-san!” exclaimed Princess Levia.
But Kimberley was also making electrocuted noises.
“It appears that Kimberley’s electricity leaking is causing a part of his own body to forcibly flow away, rendering him unable to move,” Sam observed.
“Hmm, even if I sing, I won’t be heard over Orbia and Kimberley’s screaming. This kind of thing isn’t a good idea without proper preparation and planning beforehand,” said Kanako, who was supposed to be singing, as she sat in the coachman’s seat of Sam’s carriage.
The parade was being done without a rehearsal, so it wasn’t going very well due to troubles such as Kimberley colliding with Orbia and causing a short-circuit.
Incidentally, Silkie had also rearranged the room to be more extravagant, but at this point in time, nothing had been successful.
“Danna-sama, please drink some of my blood. It should improve your condition at least a little. And y-you may do whatever you want with my tail,” said Bellmond, offering up her own body.
“M-my blood, too… Ah, what should I do?! I don’t have a tail!” exclaimed Amelia, shocked by this realization.
“Mother, stop that! You’ll collapse from the blood loss! And you don’t need a tail!” shouted Elizabeth.
“Then how about my blood, my lady? My body is more well-trained, so I should be sturdier than Madam,” said Mahelia.
“No, Mahelia! To begin with, is Vandalieu even capable of drinking anything right now?!” said Elizabeth.
“It seems rather difficult to have a presence in this kind of situation…” said Zona, who had kept her distance from the very beginning.
“Zona, what are you doing? You’re going to be joining the parade! I’ve already given you lessons!” said Kanako, forcing her to join the parade.
“Whaaat?! It’s been less than a month since I started the lessons!” Zona protested.
“The only audience members are your friends and family, so there’s no need to worry!” Kanako told her.
Groaning Blood Suckers and creaking Jubokko entered the living room next.
“We must… do something, toooo…” one of the Blood Suckers said.
An improvised party was held in Silkie Zakkart Mansion that day to cheer Vandalieu up.
Legion, Bone Man, Braga, and the others were at the royal castle, but if they were here, it would have been difficult to hide the commotion from the neighbors, even with Silkie’s soundproofing abilities.
If there was an opportunity for Rikudou Hijiri to catch Vandalieu off guard, it might have been this moment.
But as Vandalieu had just collapsed from extreme stress, he recovered around an hour later.