Other than those who were absent as they were clearing Dungeons, Vandalieu had gathered his main companions in the hall of the royal castle.
They had to discuss what to do now that the invasion of the Mirg shield-nation and Vampires had been confirmed. They also had to taste-test the mayonnaise trial product.
“Delicious! It’s ridiculously delicious!” Borkus exclaimed.
“I think it needs a little more impact. How about adding some wasabi to it?” Vigaro suggested.
“I see,” said Zadiris. “I think it is quite acceptable as it is…”
“This is…! I have never tasted a flavor like this! Vandalieu-sama, what did you use to create this?!” asked Eleanora.
Bone Chimera made a noise and Rapiéçage let out a groan.
“Eh? Wha –” There was a scream.
“Ah! Rapiéçage is getting a hold of Tarea-san to get the mayonnaise stuck around her mouth!” Saria exclaimed.
“Please stop her instead of just watching!” Tarea shouted.
“Ahah~♪ We can’t hear the words of Tarea-san who gets to try out delicious foods that we can’t eat~☆” Rita told her.
“Nooooooo! You heartless fool!”
“It cannot be helped, here, I will give you this, so stop –”
Zadiris offered Rapiéçage the mayonnaise on her finger. Rapiéçage put her finger in her mouth and began sucking.
“… Boy, this Zombie girl is sucking on my finger with all of her strength.”
“Hmm, the intelligence of the Undead really does drop if I don’t use the body’s original spirit,” Vandalieu observed. “Adding more spirits turned out to be quite pointless as well.”
Military matters had been set aside, leaving the mayonnaise tasting to be the current topic. Nobody could win against their appetites.
Well, Rapiéçage wasn’t intelligent enough to have discussions or anything like that. Other than listening to Vandalieu’s commands, she was just a normal Zombie and couldn’t speak a single word.
Vandalieu had tried adding more spirits to her like with Bone Man, but it had no effect at all. Maybe Bone Man was a special case, or perhaps a suitable amount of learning and life experience(?) was needed? Vandalieu decided to assume that it was the latter and wait for her to develop.
Zombies and Skeletons, like children, could not be raised hastily.
“Rappie, release Zadiris’s finger from your mouth,” Vandalieu ordered.
Rapiéçage groaned as she released Zadiris’s brown-gray finger from her purple lips, leaving a sticky string between it and her blue tongue. The color of Rapiéçage’s lips and tongue had changed for some reason after Vandalieu had turned her into a Zombie. He had properly stopped her decomposition with Preservation, however.
Zadiris let out a disgruntled noise. “She even went and licked my claws. It is not my fault if she is paralyzed.”
“She is an Undead, after all,” said Vandalieu.
“I am aware of that. Her stitches are clearly visible.”
Tarea let out a sigh of relief. “I almost had my lips taken by a Zombie of the same sex right before Van-sama’s eyes.”
“We must not let down our guards or show any weaknesses,” said Eleanora.
Both Tarea and Eleanora hastily wiped their mouths. Zombies in fictional works on Earth often had poor eyesight but a sharp sense of smell to make up for it, but this wasn’t the case for Zombies in Lambda.
In Rapiéçage’s case, since her head was that of a human, her senses were almost identical to those of a human other than the Dark Vision skill she had gained as an Undead. Wiping the mayonnaise away from their mouths was enough to stop Rapiéçage from noticing it.
Taking that into account, the Zombies in Earth’s fiction could actually be considered to have quite high specs.
“Now then, about the Mirg shield-nation’s army –” Vandalieu began.
“It’s obvious that we’re going to slaughter them all, isn’t it?” Borkus interrupted. “More importantly, isn’t there any more mayonnaise?”
“It was an experimental product, so there’s no more,” Vandalieu told him.
“What?! Then let’s make some more!”
“Vandalieu, how do you make it?!” Vigaro demanded.
“Wait, I am sure it is impossible because there are insufficient ingredients,” said Zadiris. “Boy, what do you need for it?”
“… I’ll make it, so just listen to what I have to say,” said Vandalieu.
It seemed that the Lambda-made mayonnaise was a success.
After that, excluding Rapiéçage and Knochen, everyone including Vandalieu exchanged information and discussed what to do against the Mirg shield-nation while making mayonnaise.
This would later come to be known as the Mayonnaise Meeting of Talosheim.
While Vandalieu was creating mayonnaise, the boulders sealing off the tunnel leading to the Mirg shield-nation were destroyed, and adventurers and Vampires emerged from within. Judging from the contents of their conversation:
· The Vampires who worship Hihiryushukaka, the Evil God of Joyful Life, were utilizing the Empire and Mirg shield-nation in order to repeat the Talosheim invasion of two hundred years ago.
· They had used Magic Items to determine Eleanora’s location and concluded that Vandalieu was in Talosheim.
· However, it seemed that they currently had no plans to conduct reconnaissance in Talosheim. Vandalieu and the Ghouls had previously escaped from the Devil’s Nest forest without fighting, so they were wary that the same thing would happen again. They were also wary of the risk that that if casualties were suffered during reconnaissance, Vandalieu would gain information from their spirits.
Eleanora looked mortified. “I do recall them taking my blood on numerous occasions, but I didn’t realize that such Magic Items existed…”
“Well, don’t worry about it,” said Vandalieu. “It’s convenient because they’re coming straight here. So now the four members of the adventurer party and one of the Vampires is guarding the tunnel’s exit. The other two Vampires have returned to their community to let them know. It seems the Mirg shield-nation has been contacted through Magic Items.”
As to be expected of a community of Vampires with Pure-breeds who had lived for hundreds of thousands of years standing at the top. It seemed that they possessed all kinds of Magic Items that Eleanora had no knowledge about. With that said, those Magic Items were tools to locate traitors, quite fitting of them considering the teachings of the Evil God of Joyful Life and Birkyne’s personality.
Did they find Valen’s… Father’s location with this item as well? Well, leaving that aside…
“So when do you think they will arrive?” asked Zadiris.
“It seems they haven’t come to a concrete decision yet.”
Judging from the adventurers’ conversation… adventurers and knights would come through the tunnel to confirm its safety and protect the exit. The adventurers would then return. At the same time, a war council led by the Amid Empire would take place to discuss the tunnel’s discovery and the upcoming invasion.
In that war council, things like budgets, the number of soldiers and knights that needed to be mobilized and where they were to be mobilized from would be decided.
There were plans to dispatch priests of the Church of Alda to scatter holy water around the tunnel, under the pretense of ‘removing ancient, evil spirits’. In reality, this was likely a measure against Vandalieu who was assumed to be a Spiritualist.
And then the Amid Empire and Mirg shield-nation would jointly make a grand announcement of the expedition. There would be extravagant ceremonies and festivals to increase the citizens’ morale.
And then a party would be held in the Amid Empire in anticipation of General Mauvid’s victory in this expedition. The Order of Prodigal Knights would depart the Empire and join up with the Vampires who would disguise themselves as mercenaries. At the same time, the soldiers and knights would be gathered from all over the Mirg shield-nation, more ceremonies would be performed, and…
“Considering the above processes, I think that they’ll be here around winter no matter how much they rush things,” said Vandalieu.
“… Would it kill humans to hurry it up? They don’t even live for a hundred years, so how come they’re so patient?” Vigaro wondered.
“Indeed, they should come as soon as possible,” Zadiris said in agreement.
For Ghouls like Vigaro and Zadiris, the ceremonies and parties happening indiscriminately would likely seem pointless.
Though Vandalieu might have seen the point in having parties, the ceremonies did indeed seem like a waste of time. Well, without them, the morale of the knights and soldiers might decrease.
“Humans like those kinds of ceremonies,” said Tarea.
“It’s easier to think of them as creatures with those in their nature and way of life,” Eleanora added.
Both of them were former humans, after all.
“A long time ago, your father told me that great people must show how great they are,” said Darcia.
Well, that was how it was. Vandalieu was aiming to become a nobleman, even if he couldn’t have any successors, so having to do those kinds of things would be a problem.
“Then I’m sure they’ll come in spring,” said Borkus. “It doesn’t snow around here, even in winter, but it’ll get cold.”
Just as he said, winter was harsh in Talosheim, a city surrounded by mountains. Despite there being no snow, it was ridiculously cold.
The snow would stop on the mountains to both the east and west, but the cold would come straight over the mountains and blow down on the city.
It would be harsh on an army to march in those conditions. At a normal walking pace, it would take five days to reach Talosheim from that tunnel. After coming out of the tunnel, though there would be no snow, the roads weren’t maintained and even with the records of Talosheim’s direction from two hundred years ago, it would almost certainly be impossible to proceed while avoiding the Devil’s Nests that had spread across everywhere.
Considering the terrain that the army needed to march across, if they did it during winter, they would be greatly weakened before even reaching Talosheim.
“Well, I’m sure those guys won’t be very familiar with the climate in this area,” Borkus added.
“But I think they’ll be cautious because they’re unfamiliar with it,” said Vandalieu. “I’m sure Vampires don’t care about the cold of winter, but they’re planning to make use of a human army this time. It’s unlikely they’ll force a movement during the winter.”
“Indeed, if they were going to push in during the winter, the Vampires would have attacked alone without joining forces with the humans,” Eleanora added.
Everyone present was discussing things with serious expressions. However, they all had a hand-mixer-Golem in one hand and a container of oil in the other. They were adding oil to a bowl and mixing the contents to create mayonnaise.
It was a very surreal sight.
“So they’ll come in spring after all,” Vandalieu concluded. “Ah, Borkus, you’re adding the oil too fast.”
They surely wouldn’t drag things on all the way up until summer, so their arrival would likely be spring.
“Hmm, this is quite troublesome,” Borkus remarked.
“Making delicious things is a troublesome process,” said Zadiris. “The boy is always doing these things.”
“We’re making them when we can’t even eat them yet, so please don’t complain,” said Saria.
“So what are we going to do about the adventurers and Vampires guarding the tunnel? Should we dispose of them first?” asked Vigaro.
“Though that is an attractive option, we’ll leave them be,” replied Vandalieu.
There were numerous reasons to leave them alone. First, there were nothing to be gained by doing so. Even if a few adventurers and Vampires were killed or captured, they would gain no information and there would be no point.
The enemy was expending its resources to gather an expedition army. Vandalieu couldn’t imagine that Riley or the Vampires would know anything about it at this stage. The same went for the Vampires’ fighting forces. It was also impossible to imagine that those who would be stationed as lookouts would be in important positions.
It would be quite troublesome to travel to the tunnel entrance where Riley and the others were in the first place. There were no roads or anything of the sort, and they would have to traverse multiple Devil’s Nests to get there as well.
Borkus and the others had gone there once last year and defeated quite a lot of monsters along the way, but since a year had passed, other monsters would have replaced them and taken their territory. Stealthily approaching the tunnel while fighting those monsters, attacking the people at the tunnel and then coming back would be quite a lot of effort. There was also a high chance of failure.
And even if they succeeded, it might only make the enemy warier.
“When you say that it’s an attractive option, did you mean there was someone notable there?” asked Darcia.
“An adventurer called the Green Wind Spear Riley,” replied Vandalieu. “I’ve heard his voice before.”
The voices of Heinz’s companions, voices that he couldn’t forget. The voices of the ones who had held a memorial for Darcia by spending the money they earned from capturing and selling her over to High Priest Gordan to buy drinks on the day she was burned alive.
As Vandalieu explained this, everyone’s expressions stiffened and Darcia looked at her son in worry.
“Vandalieu, for now…” she began.
“Yes, for now, we’re going to leave them be. I’m not going to do anything like sneak off by myself to kill them, so don’t worry, Mom,” said Vandalieu, reassuring her.
Vandalieu wanted to avenge her. If he didn’t, there was no telling when they would come again to kill him.
If possible, he wanted to kill Riley personally, but if it was impossible then it was fine.
“It seems he’s participating in the expedition, so if we meet him on the battlefield, please leave him to me,” Vandalieu requested. “But he’s an A-class adventurer, so be careful.”
“Hohoh, an A-class, eh?” Borkus seemed excited.
“I want to see how well my strength holds up against an adventurer,” said Vigaro.
“Jyuuh, this incites the fighting spirit,” Bone Man added.
“Yes,” Zadiris agreed. “There is no reason to hold back against adventurers in these circumstances.”
Everyone was fired up for battle. Their opponent was clearly an enemy, and he had even joined forces with the Vampires. He was Vandalieu’s nemesis. There was no reason to show mercy or sympathy.
“He’s apparently named himself the second coming of Mikhail,” said Vandalieu.
“Seriously? An A-class spear-user, this is getting more and more interesting.” Borkus seemed to have a particularly strong desire to kill Riley. And since Riley would be an outstanding, prominent part of the expedition army’s fighting force, the morale of the troops would decrease if he were to be defeated.
Vandalieu definitely wanted to come back to Talosheim holding Riley’s head.
“Borkus-san, everyone, thank you for doing so much for me and Vandalieu,” said Darcia. “But please don’t do anything reckless, okay?”
“Mmm, of course,” said Zadiris. “By the way, boy, is it going to be finished soon?” she asked Vandalieu.
“I think mine will be done soon, too,” said Tarea.
The mayonnaise was complete, and everyone poured it over wild vegetables and mixed it with wasabi, garlic and ginger to smear onto meat, trying various different applications of mayonnaise.
Vandalieu got the impression that the mayonnaise made with Giga eggs and Defeat flower oil had a thicker flavor than the mayonnaise of Earth.
I have a feeling it would go well with okonomiyaki and takoyaki… But the acorn powder production is…
For Vandalieu, the food-related problems were more troublesome than the problem of dealing with the expedition army, for which he had made preparations long ago.
Fortunately, the acorns of Immortal Ents had less of a harsh taste even without being rinsed in water, so they could be turned into acorn powder straight away.
However, because of the number of Immortal Ents, the amount of acorn powder that could be produced in a single day was insufficient for Talosheim’s current population.
Well, if things go well, the problem should be resolved around next year’s early summer or so.
“So, as we originally planned, we will annihilate the expedition army, and after that, we will replenish our disposable fighting forces. Following that, we will deal severe damage to the Mirg shield-nation to cut down their strength before destroying the tunnel.” This was Vandalieu’s announcement of the final plan.
Everyone cheered in unison, except for Rapiéçage whose cheer was a little late because she had been busy licking mayonnaise.
Why did the Mirg shield-nation need to be dealt heavy damage and have its strength cut down in addition to the annihilation of the expedition army? Was it because of the resentment Vandalieu harbored towards them? Was it to take revenge for the events of two hundred years ago?
Vandalieu couldn’t deny that these reasons were there, but there was an unexpectedly proper, logical reason as well.
First, it was fundamentally impossible for the current Talosheim to even have peaceful relations with the Mirg shield-nation and the Amid Empire it belonged to, let alone a mutually beneficial relationship. For the human society in the Amid Empire, Talosheim was not a nation. It was simply a pack of dangerous monsters who had settled into the ruins of a city.
There was no difference between them and a pack of Goblins other than the size of the pack and the threat they posed.
Though the Titans were a race created by Vida, they were indeed a civilization of people. Despite that, the Mirg shield-nation had slaughtered every last one of them without sending any messengers, without making any demands for the Titans to surrender, without taking any prisoners.
They would likely accept a request to stand down once they realized that their forces were inferior, but… there was a high chance that they would simply come back with an even larger, more powerful expedition army at a later time.
They would continue to make all kinds of schemes and attempts without being discouraged by their failures and setbacks. If years or decades passed, there might be hope for negotiations on even terms.
However, it was difficult to imagine that the Church of Alda would remain quiet, and considering what Ice Age had said, it was unlikely that words alone would convince the Empire that worshipped Alda.
On top of that, there were influential individuals positioned quite deep in the Amid Empire and Mirg shield-nation, working with the Vampires who worshipped Hihiryushukaka, the Evil God of Joyful Life.
Trying to have friendly relations with them would only end in those relations being taken advantage of.
Vandalieu wanted to strike a blow to the Mirg shield-nation in addition to annihilating the expedition army because he had learned from historical failures.
For the Amid Empire, it was important to maintain its position above its vassal states. Like the invasion of two hundred years ago, the important figures in the Amid Empire were using this expedition to cut down the strength as a nation that the Mirg shield-nation had gathered recently.
In other words, there was a high chance that even if this expedition army was repelled, another invasion would happen when the Mirg shield-nation’s strength increased again.
Conversely, the Mirg shield-nation’s strength was decreased, they would never consider an expedition to cross the Boundary Mountain Range. This would be true no matter how influential the individuals who were working with the Vampires were, no matter how loudly those of the Church of Alda screamed.
The Amid Empire’s enemy was the neighboring Orbaume Kingdom, after all. If they ignored this fact and continued to repeat these expeditions, eventually it would be not only the Mirg shield-nation, but the Amid Empire losing strength as well, and then they would lose the war against the Orbaume Kingdom.
Well, I can’t do anything about the Vampires, but as long as I destroy the tunnel, they’ll be held back for a while… This time, for a few years, maybe a decade.
The reason Vandalieu hadn’t destroyed the tunnel leading to the Mirg shield-nation after discovering it was to deliberately leave a route for the Vampires and Mirg shield-nation, so that he could sense when they made a move.
If the Vampires found another route across the mountain range, it would have been difficult to know about it in advance.
However, now that the tunnel’s purpose had been fulfilled, it was best to destroy it. Even if no more armies came, it would be problematic if adventurers came through individually. There would be nothing more troublesome than A-class adventurer parties to be drawn by the phrase, ‘the unexplored southern reaches of the continent,’ and loiter around.
“So, kid. It’s going to be war from here on, isn’t it?” Borkus, who was eating a bowl full of various foods flavored with mayonnaise with a satisfied expression, suddenly opened his mouth to speak.
“I suppose so,” Vandalieu replied.
It would be a monster hunt from the enemy’s point of view, but from here, it would be a battle to hold the city followed by a reverse invasion. It would certainly be a war.
“Then we’re going to need all kinds of things,” said Borkus.
“I suppose… But Tarea and Datara have made plenty of equipment, we have enough meat and fish to last us until spring, we can gather acorns, walnuts and oil from Immortal Ents and we’re alright on honey as well. There are canals running through the city for water, and there are multiple wells as well… Is there something you had in mind?”
Since there were Dungeons near Talosheim, the city’s defenses were powerful. This was true two hundred years ago, but its defenses had become even more powerful now that the Titans had become Undead and Vandalieu had come.
The stockpiled food could be preserved almost indefinitely, and over half of Talosheim’s fighting forces were Undead and Golems anyway. Ghouls had a proper need to eat, but, in the worst-case scenario, they could simply use the enemy soldiers as a source of food, so there wouldn’t be any problems.
Even if the waterways were poisoned, Vandalieu could immediately use Disinfect to remove it. He couldn’t think of anything that needed to be gathered immediately.
“It’s obvious, isn’t it?” said Borkus. “You need a general to fight a war!”
“Eh, this again?”
It seemed that Borkus hadn’t given up on putting Vandalieu on Talosheim’s throne.
Considering that the nation was bankrupt right now, Vandalieu didn’t think there would be any meaning to him becoming Talosheim’s king.
“Van-sama, I think you should accept it at this point in time,” said Tarea.
“That’s right, Bocchan, the stone statue of you in the plaza is finished too!” Saria exclaimed.
“There are a lot of things I want to say regarding that, but…” Vandalieu’s words became inarticulate as he remembered the statue of himself that had been erected in the plaza in front of the royal castle.
That stone statue had been well-made. Vandalieu did realize that the stonemasons had taken pride in their work to create it.
However… the stone statue’s face was full of expression, so it somehow didn’t resemble Vandalieu.
“But Vandalieu-sama, the humans of the Orbaume Kingdom cannot come here, can they? Then isn’t there no need to worry?” As Eleanora pointed out, the tunnel at the Orbaume Kingdom’s side of the mountain range had been destroyed in a manner that made it impossible to repair with normal methods.
Vandalieu didn’t know how advanced engineering technology was in this world, but wouldn’t it be difficult even if a hundred first-rate earth-attribute mages worked together?
Even Vandalieu, who possessed the Golem Transmutation skill and a Mana pool of over 200,000,000, would need several days to repair the tunnel.
In fact, it would be faster to dig another tunnel in a completely different location, but… there was a story of a nation that had tried to dig such a tunnel several thousand years ago, only for monsters living beneath the earth’s surface to emerge and trample over the surrounding lands, leading to the nation’s destruction.
The morale of the story was, don’t touch the mountain range.
“Well, that’s true, but…” Vandalieu was still hesitant.
“Also, from the enemy’s point of view, you are already something like the king of this place. Tell me this, boy. When war begins, who will be giving commands?” Zadiris asked.
“Umm, Borkus, Vigaro, Zadiris –”
“Those are commanders on the battlefield,” said Zadiris, interrupting Vandalieu’s reply. “Who will be in command of the entire army?”
“… Is it me?”
“Of course,” said Rita. “Everything has been done according to your commands, haven’t they, Bocchan?”
As she said, the preparations and strategies for war against the expedition force and Vampires that would come in next year’s spring had all been made by Vandalieu. Of course, he had listened to everyone’s opinions and made adjustments, added new parts to his plans and removed poorly planned parts when they pointed out his mistakes. However, the one who had suggested all of the strategies overall was Vandalieu.
“And where in Talosheim would you find someone who would answer with anything but your name if they were asked who the leader was? I would answer that it’s you, Vandalieu,” said Vigaro.
“Jyuuh. Your existence is essential to Talosheim, my lord,” Bone Man added. “Even the distribution of items at the trading post would halt if you were to disappear.”
Vandalieu was already… No, for a long time, Vandalieu had been a leader to Talosheim’s inhabitants. For the Ghouls and the new monster races he had created, he was the Ghoul King. For the Undead Titans, he was the Holy Son. And for the others like Rita, Eleanora and the Cemetery Bees, he was their master.
And as Bone Man had pointed out, Talosheim’s everyday life would vanish without Vandalieu. The Golems in his factories would continue to move until they ran out of Mana, and the smoking facilities would continue to produce katsuobushi. The mayonnaise they had made just now would take some effort, but it could be made.
However, miso and fish sauce couldn’t be made without him, and kombu would take years to make.
And though the Golems might move for several decades more, they would not continue moving forever.
Vandalieu had never nominated himself for it or made a conscious announcement of it; in fact, he had denied it. But he came to the realization that before he knew it, he had become Talosheim’s representative.
I’m not satisfied, but… Well, I’d thought that I would gain the title of ‘Prophesized Holy Son’, but I never did, so I guess it’s alright. And I suppose it’s about time I became a leader.
Vandalieu planned to be an adventurer to gain fame in the future, so he had been conscious about his Status being revealed for when he registered at a Guild, but… He finally came to a sudden realization.
Leaving aside Death-Attribute Magic, Death-Attribute Charm, Mental Corruption and Strengthen Followers, he already had the Title of Ghoul King and skills that would be considered abnormal at first glance such as Soul Break and the unique skill, God Slayer.
Well, the only person seeing that would be the receptionist at the Guild. He couldn’t imagine that a Guild Master would personally oversee the registration of a child. If he dashed out of the Guild immediately after registration and began working in other towns, it might not turn out to be such a big deal.
“Alright. I’ll become the king,” Vandalieu announced after convincing himself with these arguments.
【The levels of the Cooking, Long-distance Control and Strengthen Subordinates skill have increased!】