Death Mage 207 – Those who are truly starving
In a certain Devil’s Nest in the Farzon Duchy… or rather, a place that used to be a Devil’s Nest. The people guarding the Dungeon entrance that had appeared in a wall in the valley there were standing in a complex formation.
Half of them were standing guard at the Dungeon entrance to look out for anything unusual from inside the Dungeon, and the other half were watching out for any potential intruders from the outside.
Among them were a pair of priest-warriors, standing guard with their backs facing each other.
“… It seems that nothing is happening tonight,” one of them said.
“Nothing happened last night either, right?” said another.
One of them had been dispatched from the Church of Alda, and the other from the Church of Vida. But there was no tense relationship between them; in fact, they had a good relationship with each other.
The ones standing guard here were a group of priest-warriors from the Church of the powerful peaceful faction of Alda, supported by Vida’s priest-warriors.
This might have been difficult to believe considering Lambda’s mythological history, but in the Orbaume Kingdom, the peaceful faction had built a favorable relationship with the Church of Vida, despite being followers of Alda.
There were duchies where the Church of Alda was very influential, such as the Hartner Duchy, and there were also the radical and fundamentalist factions in the shadows. It was best to have as many allies as possible to protect Vida’s believers from such factions.
That was why the Church of Vida was maintaining a cooperative relationship with Alda’s peaceful faction.
And Heinz, the peaceful faction’s leader who was protecting a Dhampir, had converted many of Alda’s believers from the radical and fundamentalist factions to the peaceful faction. The Church of Vida saw his rise to prominence as very welcome… though this was very ironic when considering the truth around Alda, the god of law and fate, and Vida, the goddess of life and love.
“So, what was all that noise about yesterday? We were having a late lunch when there was a scary echoing sound from inside the Dungeon, and a part of the statue of Alda that was built at the small shrine on the cultivated land broke,” said the priest-warrior who had been dispatched from the Church of Alda.
The events he described were the result of the battle between Vandalieu and Heinz. The destruction of the Dungeon by the World Piercing Destructive Hollow Cannon, and the destruction of Curatos, the god of records. The effects of these events had reached the area around the Dungeon entrance.
“I do not know. The Dungeon’s entrance has remained closed the whole time. Considering that, Heinz-dono and the others are safe… or at least, one of them is,” said the priest-warrior from the Church of Vida.
“Hey! How dare you say such an ill-omened thing!” shouted Alda’s priest-warrior.
“I am also hoping that Heinz-dono and the others are safe, but… it is not ordinary for enormous sounds and vibrations to reach even outside the Dungeon,” said the priest-warrior of Vida.
Indeed, the outside of a Dungeon was essentially in a different world from the inside. Unless something occurred near the entrance, no sound or vibrations would reach between the inside and outside, even if there was a large earthquake on the outside or an enormous magical attack bursting on the inside.
But it seemed that sounds and vibrations did travel all the way to the outside in the event that dozens of the Dungeon’s floors were pierced through and destroyed.
“And what of the statue breaking? Even if it is only a part of the statue that broke, we should assume that something has happened. It is similar to the uproar that happened several years ago with the statues of Yupeon, the god of ice. It is likely that it was caused by something happening in the Dungeon. As long as that is the case, it is only natural to assume that Heinz-dono and the others are involved,” said Vida’s priest-warrior. “It is only normal to be concerned for their safety, is it not?”
Since Heinz and his companions were the only ones in the Dungeon, it was certain that if something had happened inside, they were involved. Ordinarily, this reasoning would be full of flaws, but this Dungeon had appeared as if prepared solely for Heinz’s party, and its entrance had been tightly sealed shut after they entered it.
Considering this, Vida’s priest-warrior’s words could not be denied.
“That is true, but… Damn it, just what in the world is happening inside this Dungeon? Things are going well on the outside – The purification of the Devil’s Nest and the cultivation of the land are going well, and the construction of the town is proceeding smoothly too – but I don’t know whether we’re supposed to watch the inside of the Dungeon or outside it!” the priest-warrior of Alda cursed.
When the anomalous event occurred, voices of worry had naturally suggested that monsters might overflow out of the Dungeon. It was common knowledge for the inhabitants of this world that Dungeons generated monsters, and if monster numbers inside them were not controlled, the monsters would overflow into the outside world.
This was why the priest-warriors were standing with their backs facing each other, watching two opposite directions… half of them facing the Dungeon, and the other half staying on guard against any villains attempting to enter the Dungeon… mages attempting to peer into events happening inside, or assassins sent by Alda’s radical faction or worshipers of evil gods to get rid of the troublesome Heinz.
Even if it was a Dungeon created by a god, there would certainly be some kind of trial inside, and there was no guarantee that this trial would not contain monsters.
“Won’t the gods send a Divine Message or two? The goddess has apparently been resurrected recently, right?” said Alda’s priest-warrior.
“Apparently. But although there are some with Divine Protections, there are few priests who say that they have received a Divine Message… In fact, there are more priests who have chosen to hide,” said Vida’s priest-warrior.
“Hey, are you fine with that? Though I guess we’re not going to report them.”
“I don’t care. There is no need to pay attention to those who aren’t here.”
In recent years, there were some in the Church of Vida who had received divine protections and acquired the ‘Familiar Spirit Descent’ Skill. That was why there were rumors that Vida had been resurrected, but this had caused some clergymen to feel that their lives were in danger and flee in the middle of the night.
Vida had been almost completely asleep up until now, so there had been some corrupt clergymen thinking that they would never receive divine punishment and others who had made their way into the ranks of the Church of Vida with the intent to commit crimes. Investigations into the clergymen who had fled had made this clear.
But even if this hadn’t occurred, it was unlikely that Vida would inform her believers of what was happening inside the Dungeon with a Divine Message.
“And there are some who have received Divine Messages who say that it had nothing to do with this Dungeon… What do you make of them?” Vida’s priest-warrior asked.
“I have no idea what’s going on inside the Dungeon either,” said Alda’s priest-warrior.
Alda had not sent any Divine Messages with news of Heinz or what was happening inside the Dungeon.
This was because Alda was concealing information, afraid that Vandalieu would learn of it.
“But that just shows how important the events that are happening inside the Dungeon are. It would be problematic if the gods were to send a Divine Message and then it were to be found out by the Vampires, the Majin or, gods forbid, the Demon King,” Vida’s priest-warrior said.
“The Demon King, huh. The one whose existence was implied by the Divine Message sent to the Church of Alda in the Empire? To be honest, it sounds suspicious to me,” said Alda’s priest-warrior.
“Well, it is the Church of our enemy nation, after all. And it is merely a rumor… but it’s clear what’s going on, isn’t it?”
“Well, you’re right. The gods serving Alda are apparently raising heroes as if competing against each other. The gods wouldn’t do such a thing if nothing was going on.”
The gods were granting their divine protections and sending Divine Messages to those with good qualities, developing them into heroes. Many of them were in the Amid Empire, but there were also such hero candidates in the Orbaume Kingdom, so there were many rumors about them, though the priest-warriors here had never met any of them in person.
“Come to think of it, why aren’t the gods of Vida’s faction trying to nurture heroes? Vida’s been resurrected, after all,” said Alda’s priest-warrior.
“Only the gods know that,” said Vida’s priest-warrior.
“Yeah… Ah, I hope the Five-colored Blades come back soon. It’d make Selen feel at ease, too.”
And so, Alda and Vida’s priest-warriors continued to exchange conversation, their backs still facing each other. They felt frustration at their inability to do nothing but wait, but they carried out their daily task.
Meanwhile, in one of the many back alleys in Morksi’s red-light district, Miles was greedily devouring the grilled skewers that he was carrying in his arms.
“Mmm! This is it. This is what I’m talking about. This is the flavor that I’ve been craving!” he said, smacking his lips.
“… They’re just grilled skewers, though,” said Vandalieu.
“Boss, you can’t call these ‘just grilled skewers!’ Even though the meat is cheap, the preliminary work you’ve put into these is extraordinary!” Miles insisted, continuing to consume the skewers as if in a trance.
Indeed, the meat was the cheap leftover meat of Rank 1 monsters such as Giant Rats, and it would normally just have a little salt shaken over it to produce a flavor that was appropriate for its price.
But Vandalieu had matured the meat with the ‘Maturation’ spell and marinated it in a sauce containing his own herbs and fruits. On top of that, Princess Levia and the other fire-attribute Ghosts provided perfect control over the cooking heat.
Miles was enjoying a flavor worth far more than the five Baums charged for each skewer.
“Do the higher-ups in the underworld really eat so poorly?” Vandalieu asked.
He had handed a Demon King Familiar to Miles and the others for communication purposes, but in order to preserve the Mana he had stored in them, it slept except when in use and during emergencies. Thus, Vandalieu was not well-informed when it came to the lifestyle that they were living… He could not store too much Mana in the Demon King Familiar to have it constantly active, because there was a risk that Murakami’s group, who were reliant on using their radars to detect and approach him, might get confused and head in Miles’s direction instead.
“It isn’t so bad for Eleanora, since she’s in the main headquarters of the organization, but in my position… I can’t stay too long in high-class stores that normal people often go to, can I? That’s why my diet mostly consists of meat that I can buy at bars. It’s not that I hate meat, but it’s hard, has no flavoring but salt, and it only comes with pickles and dried fish… I miss eating fresh vegetables, seafood and fruit. And miso, soy sauce, mayonnaise, ketchup and Worcester sauce. Not to mention curry, ramen, hamburgers, deep-fried food and moderately sweet snacks,” said Miles.
It seemed that his palate had grown too accustomed to Talosheim’s standards. Even the skewers that he was eating now were a little lacking for his taste, but… it was far better than the food that he had been eating since infiltrating the city of Morksi.
“When Melissa went back because of Doug and the others possibly mutating, I asked her to bring back a mountain of souvenirs, but… it would be bad if my underlings saw me eating them,” Miles lamented.
“I heard that this is a city of commerce, but it seems that things are still inconvenient here compared to Talosheim. It seems that you’re suffering quite a bit… Is that why you’re a ‘Starving Wolf?’” Darcia asked, wondering whether the way he was eating and his current starved state was connected to his new Title.
Miles gave a bitter smile. “I’m a face of the underworld that became visible to normal society in something of a hurry, and people started calling me that before I knew it. There were a lot of people who came attacking me… I wonder if my predecessor was a popular fellow,” said Miles.
In the city of Morksi, there was a criminal organization that had done business with the ‘Hyena’ Gozoroff. This criminal organization had no name, and remained lurking in this area, not pulling off anything large-scale. It was an organization that was more of a secret society.
But even secret societies did not seem to welcome those other than themselves exercising their authority in their territory. It was likely that they wanted to avoid being caught up in large incidents caused by poor thugs and failed mercenaries.
They kept one of their leaders visible even to ordinary society in order to act as a leader for such rabble.
Among Eleanora’s group, who had disposed of the criminal organization’s upper ranks and taken over, Miles was the only one suited for the job of replacing this leader. He had taken this role so that he could act right away whenever something occurred in the city of Morksi.
But to the thugs and hoodlums that didn’t know that just one leader of the mysterious criminal organization had changed, it had simply appeared that Miles had suddenly appeared in the city and become its boss, and it was something that they couldn’t accept at all.
There had been several people who had attempted to become the boss themselves, unable to accept this newcomer becoming the boss.
“That must have been troublesome,” Vandalieu remarked.
“Yes, it really was… Holding back and not killing them, that is,” said Miles.
Such thugs were nothing but small fry to Miles. Among the people who challenged Miles for the position of ruling the city, there had been failed D-class adventurers, mercenaries and assassins. But all of them had been inferior to the ‘Hyena’ Gozoroff.
Meanwhile, Miles was a Rank 11 Vampire Marquis… A being worthy of being told of in legends, a foe that even an A-class adventurer party might not be able to defeat.
If he wished to, he would be able to single-handedly destroy the city of Morksi itself and go on to threaten the existence of the entirety of the Alcrem Duchy.
To him, dealing with the thugs and hoodlums was nothing but a tiring task.
“I’m sure you wouldn’t get angry at me for killing them, Boss, but disposing of their corpses would be a pain, and it would be troublesome if the guards noticed a large number of people going missing and made a move,” Miles said. “I had no choice but to carefully persuade them as if I was twisting a baby’s arm. That way, they become obedient after suffering just a few fractures.”
Miles would grab his challengers by the arm and speak intimidating words to them while putting some force into his hand. The challengers would try to kick at his knees or stab him with a knife with their free hand, but he would be completely unfazed. He wore clothes which were made of a combination of threads produced by Arachne and Vandalieu himself, offering as much protection as metal armor. His muscles were harder than steel. There was no way for the thugs to harm him.
… Some of them had apparently attempted to aim for Miles’s groin, but he had blocked such attacks with his knees to protect himself, causing tragic damage to their legs instead.
And so, most of Miles’s challengers had realized the difference in power and submitted to him.
“Considering that, you’ve got quite the amazing Title?” said Vandalieu.
“There were a lot of people challenging me because they couldn’t believe my strength. They thought that I was only great in rumors and in appearance, but my actual ability was exaggerated. Thanks to them, I was busy twisting all of their arms until a few days before you arrived, Boss,” said Miles.
Many thugs and hoodlums had ended up with marks shaped like Miles’s fingers on their arms, and those who saw these marks said that Miles was like a starving wolf who would sink his teeth into anyone. These rumors spread, and Miles became known as the ‘Starving Wolf.’
“Not that I mind, since it’s actually convenient that people fear me to the point that I acquire a Title. I’ve managed to regroup with you as well… and it was harder dealing with Eleanora and Isla than the thugs,” Miles remarked.
“Well, I’ve seen a little bit of that,” said Vandalieu.
Miles’s position required him to walk around the city, and so it was the position that had the greatest chance of meeting Vandalieu. Eleanora and Isla had naturally wanted this position themselves, but… this was impossible for them.
The concept of gender equality didn’t exist in the underworld, and they would be constantly looked down upon just because they were women. Overcoming that sentiment to take control over the thugs would have taken them over twice as long as Miles.
It had apparently been quite the difficult task for Miles to comfort Eleanora and Isla, who were depressed, withdrawn and bitter over this disappointing fact. Vandalieu had watched them through the Demon King Familiar that he had left with them, but… Bellmond’s honest admission that leading a group of hoodlums with their appearance would be impossible had caused deep wounds.
“More importantly, I want to talk about the guard named Aggar and the Deputy Guild Master Joseph. Did you not know anything about them beforehand?” Chipuras asked Miles.
“We’ve never heard of Aggar. But there are several guards that let you get away with various things if you bribe them, so he might be one of them,” Miles replied, wiping some sauce from his lips. “As for Joseph… He’s the uncle of the current Earl Morksi.”
“So, he’s actually a big-shot?” said Vandalieu.
“Well, if you’re just talking about his connections. He was born to an earl’s family, but he’s the fourth son, so he didn’t become the head of the family, and there were no talks of him marrying into another family, so he became a government official and worked in a tax-related department. After that, he became employed at the Commerce Guild and went on to become a Deputy Guild Master,” said Miles. “By the way, he’s not a noble now. He apparently gave up his right to succeed his family.”
The Commerce Guild was generally a non-governmental organization, but it also served as an intermediary organization that collected the nation’s taxes from merchants; essentially, it also functioned as a tax office. Thus, a certain number of government officials would be temporarily transferred as Guild employees, and it was standard for one of the multiple Deputy Guild Masters to be related to the government.
It seemed that in this city, that person was Joseph.
But there was at least one such Deputy Guild Master in every big city, so it seemed that Joseph was not a particularly important person.
“Then does that mean that his harassment of us is Earl Morksi’s will as well?” Vandalieu asked.
“I don’t think so,” said Miles. “Unlike his older brother that was the previous earl, it seems that he has had a bad relationship with his nephew since he became the current earl… and you only just revealed that you’re a Dhampir this afternoon, didn’t you, Boss? I heard that Earl Morksi has been running around investigating details of the incident where parts of statues of Alda broke and priests fainted. He shouldn’t have enough free time for that.”
“I suppose that’s true.”
It seemed that there was no connection between Joseph and Earl Morksi. With that being the case, that meant that the harassment of Vandalieu and Darcia was Joseph’s independent decision.
Miles’s bitter smile grew wider, and he gave a sigh. “Leaving the guard named Aggar aside, Joseph’s actions are confusing for us as well. You are quite the important person just by being a Dhampir, and even though you did refuse his offer, it doesn’t make much sense that he would harass you.”
“Quite the important person… It’s tricky, isn’t it. Well, it’s probably because Vandalieu himself is just a person of a rare race to most people, and he can be used to make connections with Alda’s peaceful faction and those people,” said Darcia.
To the Orbaume Kingdom’s society, Dhampirs were a rare, precious race. Alda’s peaceful faction, led by the S-class adventurer Heinz, and the Church of Vida, would try to protect Vandalieu if they were to learn of his existence.
But in terms of social position, Vandalieu was just a commoner. There were no Dhampir-protection laws in the Orbaume Kingdom, nor were there any laws that stated that all Dhampirs should be treated as nobles.
Thus, even if Joseph harassed Vandalieu, it wasn’t against the law, so Vandalieu could not publicly protest against it. However, that did mean that he could take non-public actions against it.
“The Alcrem Duchy doesn’t want to draw the attention of S-class adventurers. The Deputy Guild Master of a single commerce city can be erased right away if the duchy puts the screws on him,” said Miles, thinking hard. “Joseph shouldn’t be gaining anything from harassing Boss, but…”
“From what we have heard, it is unlikely that he is harassing us for his own benefit. He considers himself to have lost face when Vandalieu-sama refused his offer, and he is simply harassing us because there is no need to hold back,” said Chipuras.
“Is that how it is?” said Vandalieu.
“Yes, Vandalieu-sama. Those who are rulers of little are like that. He has always exercised his authority in this city. The fact that he comes from a noble family or that he has an education has nothing to do with it,” said Chipuras. “Sometimes, people make foolish errors and commit appalling wickedness for reasons that are difficult to understand. I myself was a prime example of that when I was still alive.”
“… We were on different sides while you were alive, but it’s kind of hard to agree on that,” said Darcia.
“There were people like that on Earth as well, so I guess that’s how it is,” said Vandalieu.
It seemed that having received higher-than-average education and being in a position of responsibility was not a guarantee that Joseph would not make any errors.
There were foolish and useless nobles in this world, as well as corrupt merchants… Even on Earth, there had been plenty of scandals and crimes committed by politicians, government officials and even religious leaders.
Vandalieu’s treatment in Origin itself was probably an error committed by an entire nation… Considering that, perhaps it was in the nature of humans for some of them to be that way.
“Well, leaving that aside… What is Joseph-san actually going to do in the end? We’re not exactly particularly troubled at the moment,” said Darcia.
“Darcia-sama, we must worry about our business’s sales, and the thugs may come again to –” Chipuras began.
“Miles-san will do something about that, won’t he?” said Darcia, giving a nod towards Miles.
Miles, who was about to put his sixth skewer in his mouth, stopped and nodded. “Of course. I’m sure that news of the ‘Starving Wolf’ having a long discussion at this food cart will spread within the day… I’ll make sure that your sales are good. I’ll tell my underlings –”
“Then how about we make it so that I’m the ‘Starving Wolf’ Michael’s woman?” said Darcia.
Miles choked and coughed, and Chipuras’s jaw dropped at Darcia’s suggestion.
“I see. If we do that, then it’s not strange for you to visit our food cart often, and Mom can go and meet you, too. If we make it so that you’re the ‘Starving Wolf’s’ woman, nobody will dare mess with you at all, never mind Miles’s underlings,” said Vandalieu calmly.
“Vandalieu’s agreed, so it’s decided, then,” said Darcia.
“Wait a second! Are you sure about this?!” Miles asked, looking shaken.
“It’s fine, Miles-san. That person… Valen, wasn’t quite as well-known as you, but he was quite the big figure in the underworld,” said Darcia, looking into the distance as if reminiscing of the past.
“… Are you okay with that, Boss?” Miles asked Vandalieu.
“It’s not like you’re actually dating, so as long as you’re okay with it, Miles,” Vandalieu replied. “I trust you, after all.”
Though Miles talked in a feminine tone and loved to wear lipstick, Vandalieu knew that he wasn’t homosexual. However, he trusted him.
“Boss…! Alright, let’s do that, then!” Miles said, his heart throbbing as he felt Vandalieu’s trust in him. “But we might need to hold hands or put our hands around each other’s shoulders or waists in order to sell the act, so forgive me for that.”
“Well, it is an act, after all. More importantly, about the mysterious divine protection, how’s yours, Miles?” Vandalieu asked, thinking that Miles’s divine protection’s hidden letters might all be revealed now that Darcia’s were.
“Mine? There are still two hidden letters, but… now that you mention it, there were three hidden letters until yesterday.”
It seemed that Miles’s divine protection still had some hidden letters. It seemed that the ‘Bestower’ Job’s effect was only enough to reveal one letter.
“Is that so? All of my divine protection’s hidden letters are revealed, and it says ‘Vandalieu’s Divine Protection,’ but maybe there are some individual differences,” said Darcia.
“Ah, I see… There might be a huge divine statue of you in the middle of construction by the time we return to Talosheim, Boss,” said Miles.
“Miles, it’s a stone statue. Not a divine statue, a stone statue,” Vandalieu said, correcting him.
TLN: In Japanese, there is a separate word for statue when it’s a statue of a god. There’s no such separate word in English, so I’ve translated that to ‘divine statue’ here. Vandalieu is insisting that it’s not a statue of a god, but an ordinary stone statue.
“But Boss, there might be people other than Darcia-sama who only had one hidden letter left and now have them all revealed. Like the girls in Talosheim,” said Miles.
“It’s still just a stone statue,” Vandalieu insisted.
“You’re so stubborn, Boss… Ah, and my race title has changed even though my Rank hasn’t increased. It was ‘Abyssal Vampire Marquis,’ and it’s changed to ‘Abyssal Noble-born Vampire Marquis,’” said Miles.
“It is just ‘Noble-born’ that was added, is it not? And the Pure-breed Vampires have already become Abyssal Pure-breed Vampires,” said Chipuras.
“A change is a change, isn’t it? You’re a Ghost, so it probably doesn’t have anything to do with you, but Bellmond and the others might experience a change next,” said Miles. “Though it does seem that nothing has changed other than my race title,” he added.
Considering the timing of the change, it was likely the effect of Vandalieu acquiring the ‘Bestower’ Job.
“I see. Let’s ask the other Vampires in Talosheim later,” said Vandalieu. “By the way, are we doing okay for time?”
“Now that you mention it, it would be problematic for us to talk for too long… I’ll take thirty more grilled skewers for takeout, then,” said Miles.
“Can I have half-and-half of Horn Rabbit meat and Giant Rat meat? The rabbit is healthier and delicious, but the rat has more fat and its richness is delicious as well. And are there any other kinds of sauces?”
“Here you are. But there aren’t any other sauces, so I’ll think of some.”
And so, Miles received dried leaves containing ten skewers each, then went around to the other food carts as the ‘Starving Wolf’ Michael to give the owners some money as a way to apologize for the commotion that he had caused. After that, he returned to the city’s night scene. He would probably divide the skewers later among his underlings and… Eleanora and the others.
Vandalieu had made a profit for today in terms of sales thanks to Miles, but later on, several other people ordered some grilled skewers and started up some conversation.
It seemed that these were information brokers who were curious as to what the ‘Starving Wolf’ had been discussing at this food cart, so Vandalieu and Darcia told them their previously-decided story that the ‘Starving Wolf’ had seduced Darcia.
Vandalieu and Darcia returned home, put the food cart in the shed and entered the house that apparently had a shady history.
The house had been cleaned thoroughly by the Tartarus Maid Armors, Saria and Rita.
“Welcome home, Bocchan, Darcia-sama,” said Saria.
“We’ve finished the cleaning!” said Rita.
The truth was that these two had been inside the knapsack that Darcia had been carrying when she entered the city of Morksi.
It would seem impossible for the two women who could only be described as beauties, one of them wearing an excessively revealing high-leg-leotard-shaped armor and the other a bikini-shaped armor with maid-like decorations, to both fit inside a knapsack.
But Rita and Saria were Living-Armor-type Undead. Their armor was their actual main body, and what filled them was merely materialized spirit form.
If they withdrew their spirit form and returned to an armor-only state, it was easy for Darcia to carry them both with the armors packed into a knapsack. Even if her belongings were inspected, the two of them would just remain silent and appear to be nothing but suits of armor.
They were armor rather than weapons, and they were not contraband goods, so it was unlikely that there would be any problems… other than Darcia being thought of as the owner of the high-leg-leotard and bikini-shaped suits of armor.
“Thanks,” said Darcia. “Has there been any changes? Like the previous tenant still being here or something.”
“No, there weren’t any Ghosts. There wasn’t even a single mouse,” said Saria.
“The mice might have just instinctively fled because we’re here, though,” said Rita.
“I see… I thought it would have been more fun if it was a haunted house,” Darcia said, sounding disappointed.
“Mom, most of this city’s spirits are already with me,” Vandalieu pointed out.
“Now that you mention it, that’s true,” said Darcia.
Though this was only known to those who could see spirits, there was a countless number… a truly countless number of spirits following Vandalieu. Many of them were nothing more than small points of light, but they were unmistakably spirits.
“Bocchan attracts all the spirits except for those that are strongly haunting certain places or people, after all,” said Saria. “Anyway… I wonder what this house’s history actually is?”
“It would be unpleasant if it was some masterful professional killer visiting every tenant and applying a poison that makes their death look like it was caused by disease,” said Darcia.
“Darcia-sama, that’s scarier than ghosts. Seriously,” said Rita.
“… There’s something beneath the floor. There’s a faint response from ‘Danger Sense: Death,’” said Vandalieu.
Further investigation revealed a gap between the floor of the first floor and the basement, and there was mold growing inside it. It seemed to be a very toxic mold, and this was apparently the reason that tenants would die of disease within a year of moving into this house.
Though this would only be revealed by later investigation… This house’s history was not exactly the truth. There had actually been some who had fled to escape their debts rather than die of disease, and others who had moved out after living here for over a year.
“Well, mold is more troublesome to us than ghosts,” said Vandalieu. “‘Disinfect,’ ‘Sterilization.’”
Vandalieu carefully removed the mold with his spells, then completely filled in the gap with his ‘Golem Creation’ Skill. The house was now a safe house with a shady history.
“Of course, everywhere is a haunted house with Bocchan around,” said Saria.
“We’re here too, and there are so many Ghosts like Princess Levia and Orbia-san,” said Rita.
“And I’m going to be doing some full-scale remodeling,” said Vandalieu. “I’ll leave the outward appearance the same, though.”
First, he turned the entire house into Golems. This was to leave the house’s exterior appearance the same while fixing its badly-fitted doors and its creaking floors, and implementing measures against intruders.
If the entire house was Golems, it would be difficult to infiltrate even for the ‘King Slayer’ Sleygar, a superhuman assassin who had awakened the ‘Silent Steps’ Skill into the superior Skill ‘Nihility,’ which erased his presence entirely.
And, as if having waited for the perfect timing, a hole in space opened inside the house, and Gufadgarn emerged from it.
“I have brought the items and materials,” she said.
She had brought things from Talosheim that were needed for remodeling the house.
“Thanks. The only materials and weapons we can get around here are made of bone, so this is very helpful,” said Vandalieu.
“You honor me,” said Gufadgarn.
“This really is so helpful! We didn’t bring our halberd and glaive here, after all,” Rita said happily.
“If we bought new ones from an ordinary weapon store, they would probably break right away. Thank you, Gufadgarn-san,” said Saria.
Rita and Saria had been unarmed up until now; they gladly received their weapons from Gufadgarn. Their strength was already beyond what ordinary iron weapons could handle.
Vandalieu used the delivered Dark Copper to reinforce the house. “With this, the house will withstand even spells and martial skills used from outside,” he said.
“Perhaps it would withstand attacks from the reincarnated individuals… but I believe that it would be possible for the Pure-breed Vampire Birkyne to destroy this house’s defenses with a single attack,” said Gufadgarn.
She knew almost nothing about Birkyne, but she was basing this assumption on her knowledge of the other Pure-breed Vampires.
“That’s true, but… Birkyne would be able to attack the house from outside the city’s walls,” said Vandalieu. “Let’s deal with that with the Dungeon that I’ll make in the basement.”
“I see. You will create a Dungeon in the basement, and use it as a shelter and as a supply of fighting forces in the event of an emergency.”
“… No, I’m going to make it as low-class a Dungeon as possible, so I don’t think it would provide us with fighting forces.”
“Depending on the circumstances, we might not have the time to recover the Dungeon, after all,” said Darcia.
If Vandalieu carelessly created a high-class Dungeon, it was possible that this would cause great trouble for the city of Morksi. It would be good if the city could adopt the Dungeon and become a labyrinth city, but… the inhabitants of the slum quarter would lose their homes in the process, which was unacceptable.
And if it ever came to a situation where Vandalieu needed the Dungeon’s monsters to fight for him, the city would either be destroyed or be in a position where its destruction was inevitable.
Vandalieu was creating a Dungeon so that things would not get to that point, so there would be no point in making it for fighting forces.
“Well, I need to make the floors large, so we’ll see if I can keep it to E-class or not,” said Vandalieu. “Well then, Mom, I’m going to create a Dungeon in the basement… but before that, I’ll go around behind the house.”
“Behind the house? Make sure you come back before the dinner that Gufadgarn-san brought gets cold,” said Darcia.
There was a starving dog, taking no notice of the house that had people living in it for the first time in a while… along with a strange, different presence.
This dog, who had been born in the slum quarter, had managed to survive until adulthood despite losing its siblings and mother. However, it had recently lost in a struggle between competing predators, and it was now starving, unable to get food. It had wandered to this place without even realizing it.
Its rival predators were other stray dogs and… the inhabitants of the slums.
To the slum quarter’s inhabitants, dogs were competitors when searching for food scraps, and they were good sources of food themselves. The dog had lost its family to the slum quarter’s inhabitants hunting them for their meat.
That was why the dog was utterly afraid of humans. It had grown up as a stray, so it had already been taught by its mother to be wary of humans, but now, humans looked like nothing but terrifying predators to it.
That was why it was here, behind this unpopular, empty house. Unable to hunt its own food or fish through garbage in the streets where people walked, it would starve to death here.
But before that, Vandalieu silently appeared where the dog was.
“A mouse would have done for an experimental subject, but I don’t mind it being a dog… Come here,” he said, beckoning to the dog with a small piece of dried meat in his hand.
Strength returned to the starving dog’s eyes, and it bared its fangs at Vandalieu and growled. Of course, it was aware of the piece of dried meat in Vandalieu’s hand, but it prioritized being cautious of Vandalieu himself, and chose to try and intimidate him.
“At times like this… are you supposed to say, ‘There’s nothing to be scared of?’” Vandalieu wondered, bringing his hand closer to the dog, unafraid of the dog’s growls.
The dog let out a bark and instinctively reached out to bite. It put all of its strength into its jaws, its teeth sinking not into the dried meat, but Vandalieu’s hand.
But to the dog’s surprise, Vandalieu didn’t respond at all. He didn’t withdraw his hand in pain and surprise; he simply continued to let his hand be bitten.
And there was something strange about the hand in the dog’s jaws… No matter how hard it bit, no blood came out. The skin would not break.
“There, there,” said Vandalieu, patting the dog’s head with his other hand. “You don’t need to give me such a playful bite… Wow, it’s actually working. I suppose it’s always worth a try to say it.”
The dog felt as if something was squirming in the depths of Vandalieu’s eyes.
The dog knew that this person was not a human.
It let go of Vandalieu’s hand, which was white as candle-wax and not red from the bite at all, and licked it instead.
“Good dog. I’m sure you’re hungry, so let’s hurry and have dinner… but before that, I suppose I’ll give you a little wash,” said Vandalieu.
The dog gave a happy bark and followed Vandalieu into the house.
Vandalieu’s Divine Protection
A divine protection granted by Vandalieu, who is not a god. Until recently, the letters of this Skill’s name were hidden, but the last of the hidden letters were revealed after he acquired the ‘Bestower’ Job.
As a divine protection, it provides ubiquitous benefits… In addition to lowering the difficulty of overcoming developmental barriers, it also provides a small bonus to acquiring Skills that are ordinarily difficult to acquire after birth, such as ‘Status Effect Resistance,’ ‘Physical Resistance,’ ‘Venom Secretion,’ ‘Night Vision’ and ‘Dark Vision.’
Of course, it does not allow the easy acquisition of these Skills; it simply increases the chance of acquiring them through hard work and unexpected events.
In short, this is a skill that is used at night. It is a Skill not for ordinary intercourse between male and female, but for the user providing pleasure for their partner, so it is not a Skill that can be acquired through ordinary lovers and married couples.
This Skill is acquired by male and female prostitutes, and women belonging to harems. Those who have this Skill at Level 5 or higher, they are considered high-class prostitutes, and they are not treated poorly even if they are slaves.
A technique that improves the user’s partner’s vigor and replenishes their energy through intercourse. It is a type of hygiene, but its effects are clear enough that it is represented as a Skill. Perhaps because of this, those who are subject to this Skill’s effects for long periods of time have a high chance of acquiring the ‘Endless Sexual Stamina’ Skill.
There was an era when it was said that powerful people would live long lives if they kept mistresses who possessed this Skill at a high Level, and that their descendants would prosper. All royals and nobles desired such mistresses.
However, there is a legend that says that this skill was granted to the people by Vida, the goddess of life and love. Because of this, the first emperor of the Amid Empire outlawed the use of the ‘Love-making’ Skill.
But the third emperor completely lifted this ban, and although it is no longer illegal, there are few users of this Skill in the western region of the Bahn Gaia continent.