Vandalieu and his companions returned to Periveil’s village, explained that they had captured Raymond alive and spread this news so that the village would be wary of the Reborn Sauron Duchy Army.
And while Periveil and the others were comforting Orbia, who had become a Ghost, Vandalieu headed to the village’s Job-changing room.
“So you’re the child that Privel chose. Children are so precocious these days,” said a man who greeted Vandalieu at the boathouse where the Job-changing chamber was. This man was Privel’s uncle, the younger brother of Periveil’s most recent husband who possessed the blood of King Sauron.
He was a human with green hair and eyes that were unusual for his race, around his late middle-age years. Vandalieu had the feeling that his eyes and features resembled those of Privel and her cousin Orbia, but he was a gentle-looking man and it was difficult to imagine that he possessed the blood of a royal family.
“Rather than being chosen, I didn’t know about that ritual,” said Vandalieu.
“That is also a rather classic way to meet,” said Privel’s uncle.
It seemed that approaching and calling out to Scylla while being unaware of the Scylla courting ritual was a classic beginning to a romance. Using an example from Earth, it was a cliché equivalent to a transfer student turning a corner and colliding with a girl who was on her way to school.
“Those are just old folk tales now, though,” Privel’s uncle added. “Adventurers who come around here to complete requests and merchants who come to do business all know about it. But if you came from the other side of the Boundary Mountain Range, I suppose you couldn’t help not knowing. By the way, this is a bit late, but please take care of Orbia-nee.”
“Isn’t she your niece?” Vandalieu asked.
“Yeah. I personally thought it would be better to tell her that later, you see,” said Privel’s uncle. “Even my brother was mindful of it, because she was a daughter who came so late. But Orbia-nee doesn’t have anyone other than you now, does she?”
In fact, now that Orbia had become a Ghost, the only ones who could keep her company other than Vandalieu were other Undead. Normal Spiritualists apparently made sure not to get too involved with spirits and Undead.
By becoming a Rank 4 Water Ghost, Orbia had already become unable to return to the circle of transmigration of her own will. She could only linger in this world, or be purified… exterminated.
And most importantly, Vandalieu’s Mana was essential for her to maintain her sanity. Vandalieu had never explained this, though. Perhaps Privel’s Uncle had somehow sensed that this was the case.
“I don’t know what she was to the resistance, but to me, she was like a kind older cousin,” Privel’s uncle continued. “She played with me a lot when I was a child. I want you to support her in the years to come.”
“I think I’m the one who will be supported by her, but I will do my best for as long as I’m alive,” said Vandalieu.
“Yeah, I’m counting on you. As I thought, children these days are precocious… no, dependable.”
The two of them exchanged a handshake and then Vandalieu entered the Job-changing room.
Perhaps because the pattern stayed the same despite a difference in races or perhaps because the Scylla had made it easy to use for the men as well as the Scylla, the Job-changing room was the same as the Job-changing rooms in other places.
“Now then… will there be new ones?” Vandalieu wondered. With the Experience Points from the Rank 10 Hurricane Dragon and the Reborn Sauron Duchy Army, Vandalieu had finally leveled his Demon Guider Job to level 100.
Vandalieu reached out and touched the crystal.
『Jobs that can be selected:【Archenemy】【Zombie Maker】【Corpse Demon Commander】【Disease Demon】【Spirit Warrior】【Whip Tongue Calamity】【Vengeful Berserker】【Dead Spirit Mage】【Dark Healer】【Labyrinth Creator】【Demon King User】【Magic Cannoneer】【Golem Creator】【Dark King Mage】』
“Dark King Mage, huh. An upgraded Job for Death-Attribute Mage, maybe… From the way it’s written, I get the feeling that it seems more normal than Death-Attribute Mage. Not that I think there’s much difference. So then, what should I choose for my next Job?”
The only remaining Jobs were dangerous-sounding Jobs and upgraded Jobs like Golem Creator and Dark King Mage.
One of the upgraded Jobs would likely offer him more bonuses to everything. However, being upgraded Jobs, it seemed that they would be difficult to level. And the other Jobs were almost certainly Jobs that were related to Vandalieu’s current skills.
And Vandalieu was planning to register at the Adventurers’ Guild in a way that his Status wouldn’t be seen, by using the Commerce Guild. It probably wouldn’t be a problem to take a few dangerous-sounding Jobs.
“Change Jobs to Archenemy.”
『You have changed Jobs to Archenemy!』
『Strengthened Attack Power while Unarmed has increased to Medium!』
『You have acquired the unique skill ‘Hostility!’』
“Finally, my base mana has surpassed one billion. And I keep gaining more unique skills. Hostility… Is it a bad pun? What should I do if it’s a skill that makes lots of people hostile towards me?”
As Vandalieu hesitantly left the room, everyone was no different from usual, so this seemed to have been a needless worry.
Jobs that sound bad are bad for the heart after all, Vandalieu thought.
“You mustn’t swindle people,” said Vandalieu.
“You can’t!” said Pauvina.
The two of them were scolding Haj and the other fake resistance members, who were trembling in fear.
Vandalieu and his companions had returned to the camp. They were waiting for Rick, Orbia’s murderer, to be drawn out by Raymond, whom they had taken hostage. Meanwhile, Vandalieu had turned Mardock’s extermination force who had attacked the fort while he was away into Undead while brainwashing the survivors.
The other reason they had returned was so that Vandalieu could use the small Dungeon to return to Talosheim and bring Luciliano here, who would be doing some work on the captive Raymond.
After quickly turning the dead into Undead and brainwashing the survivors, including Mardock himself, Vandalieu had gone to hear the stories of Haj and his companions… and finally discovered that they were fakes.
“It’s true that you people are different from bandits; you didn’t forcibly take money and goods from the villagers and supporters, nor did you kill them. You just accepted what was offered to you,” said Vandalieu. “But what those villagers offered you were certainly not excess things that they had in reserve. Am I wrong?”
He was lecturing Haj and his companions in an indifferent tone. He hated swindlers in general. It was true that those who were fooled had left themselves open, but it didn’t change the fact that the ones who were doing the fooling were the most at fault.
Before he learned to use death-attribute magic, Vandalieu had simply been someone with a large amount of Mana. Haj and his companions reminded him of the researchers in Origin who had whispered sweet-sounding words to him, saying that they would set him free if he put in more effort.
But do I have the right to speak badly of swindlers now?
Vandalieu wasn’t without his doubts. And these people being petty swindlers was better than them being bandits. However, they had fooled Yamata and Rapiéçage, so Vandalieu didn’t feel like settling things for free.
But Haj didn’t have the eyes to see through the inner thoughts behind Vandalieu’s expressionless face and flat tone of voice.
“You brat, getting so full of yourself just because I stayed quiet! We didn’t become fake members of the resistance because we wanted to!” Haj shouted as he got to his feet without thinking, enraged by the morality speech that was being delivered to him indifferently. “A brat like you wouldn’t –”
“What~?” Pauvina stood up, towering over Haj and giving him a gaze that pierced right through him.
Despite her height of two and a half meters, she was just a girl, less than ten years of age, if one ignored her size. She wasn’t very intimidating. However, her hand was gripping the handle of a steel mace that would likely crush Haj’s head like an eggshell.
“What were you going to say~?” Pauvina asked, giving her mace a few practice swings while eyeing Haj’s head.
“I-it’s nothing!” Haj squealed.
“Then sit down, okay? Or do you want me to make you sit down?” Pauvina was still continuing her practice swings.
“I’ll sit! I’ll sit down!” With his words being misarticulated because he was trembling so much, Haj sank down onto the ground.
But Pauvina didn’t stop her practice swings.
The reason Haj and the other fake resistance members were trembling violently was because they were scared of everyone, including Pauvina, but excluding Vandalieu.
Vandalieu wasn’t impressive; in fact, his presence was hollow. The eyes of Haj and his allies couldn’t measure him. However, everyone else’s anger was very easy to see.
“Van~ let’s just clobber them~!” said Pauvina, angry that her close friend Rapiéçage had been tricked by these people, swinging her mace that would clearly make a splatting sound rather than a clobbering one.
“Imposters, no… no…”
Yamata and Rapiéçage were burning with a sense of guilt over their failure.
Yamata was groaning and slithering around Haj and his companions while Rapiéçage produced physical sparks loudly with her Ogre hands and feet.
“Hahaha, there, there, everyone. Let us be amicable about this. Bocchan, may I hold their hands and take them for a run?” asked Sam, his shining crimson eyes glaring at Haj and his companions.
“You are the one being the least amicable, Father,” said Saria. “If they held your hands and went for a run, they would be smashed and scraped all over the place, wouldn’t they?”
“Well, I get the feeling that he wouldn’t really care about that, though,” said Rita.
Though Sam’s daughters were stopping Sam with their words, they didn’t really seem to have any desire to defend Haj and his companions.
Haj and his companions realized that Vandalieu, who had been scolding them indifferently, was the calmest of them all, and the only reason they were alive was because he was the one in charge.
Incidentally, Bellmond seemed to think that apologizing to Vandalieu was more important than giving Haj and his companions a harsh glare; she wasn’t even looking at them.
“My apologies, Danna-sama,” she said. “It is all my fault for not being able to see that they were imposters. I am willing to accept any punishment.”
“Then as punishment, I’m going to brush your tail,” said Vandalieu.
“Th-that sort of thing is not something that you should be doing, Danna-sama. Punishments are –”
“Then change Jobs to be a maid.”
“Danna-sama! Anything, anything but that! I cannot dress myself in such a way!”
“… It would definitely suit you, Bellmond-san,” said Rita.
“Rita, that’s not the problem here,” said Saria.
In the end, Bellmond received her punishment of having her tail brushed while in tears. As Vandalieu performed this task skillfully, Darcia, who was visible through the Visualization skill, began persuading everyone regarding Haj and his companions.
“Calm down, everyone,” she said. “There are a lot of things that we’ve learned by saving Haj-san and his friends. And I think that these people had their own circumstances, too.”
It seemed that Darcia felt sympathy for Haj and his companions and wanted to bring things to a peaceful conclusion. At the very least, she wanted to avoid an extreme ending like simply disposing of them.
As a matter of fact, Vandalieu felt the same way. He hated swindlers, but not enough to kill them without reason.
Even in Lambda’s societies, swindlers would not be sentenced to death unless they were swindling nobles or royalty. Though it depended on whether they could pay the required fines to their victims, they would normally become criminal slaves for a set period of time.
It didn’t seem as if Haj and his companions had been making money in a vicious manner, and apparently, their punishment would normally be becoming slaves for one to three years.
The Amid Empire’s army that currently ruled the Sauron Duchy had treated them as resistance members before swindlers, so they might execute them to set an example, however.
“Well, we’ve learned that Chezare’s younger brother is actually at the nearby fort… and since you went through hard times because you had no jobs, it’s not like I don’t feel any pity for you,” said Vandalieu as he continued brushing Bellmond’s tail with a brush made of his own threads.
He looked over her trembling shoulder and directed his gaze at everyone who wasn’t participating in the argument.
Not at the unconscious Raymond, but at Privel, Orbia and the others who were a little further away. They were discussing something with serious expressions on their faces.
“What should I do, I’m seriously lacking in fighting strength,” said Privel. “The only one smaller than me is Pauvina-chan, you know?”
“I’m… Hmm, maybe a little smaller than Saria-chan and Rita-chan, I suppose~?” said Orbia. “Ah, but now, if there’s water, I can make them as big as…”
“It’s alright, Privel,” one of the Scylla guards reassured her. “You still have a future ahead of you, don’t you!”
“Even with a future, it’s impossible~ that person called Bellmond or something, she looks bigger than Mother!” said Privel.
“Don’t lose heart, Privel! You have the prided lower bodies of us Scylla, don’t you!”
“Oh yeah! Even if I can’t win with my upper body, I have my lower body!”
Each of the Scylla were bending their eight tentacles back and forth as they talked. Vandalieu and the others were a little concerned over the topic of their conversation.
“Vandalieu, those Scylla people? I can somewhat understand the Ghost girl, but what’s your relationship with the living ones?” Darcia asked.
“That’s Privel, whom I carelessly proposed to due to cultural differences, and her guards that protect her,” said Vandalieu.
Come to think of it, he had forgotten to ask the names of the Scylla guard onee-sans.
“I see,” said Darcia. “After your father and I met, he said he’d done bad things to girls in the past and regretted it, so make sure you don’t have regrets like that.”
“Yes, Mom,” said Vandalieu, nodding to his mother’s educational advice.
“Before that, I think you should stop getting more,” said Pauvina from behind him, offering a reasonable opinion.
However, she didn’t really seem to have much desire to stop him.
Meanwhile, Bellmond slipped away from Vandalieu’s brushing and called out to Privel. “Excuse me, it seems that Danna-sama has something that he would like to ask.”
“Ah, yes!” said Privel. “Nice to meet you, I’m Privel, please treat me well! But I won’t lose to you when it comes to the number of legs!”
“… Yes, I am completely defeated,” said Bellmond. “Leaving that aside, it seems that Danna-sama has something that he wishes to discuss.”
“Mhmm,” said Privel. “What is it, Van-kun?” She approached Vandalieu with a bright smile on her face, twisting her tentacles in circles.
“Do you have anything on this Haj and his friends?” Vandalieu asked.
“These people? Hmm, nothing in particular, I suppose,” said Privel. “Even if they were acting as fake resistance members in nearby villages and towns, they never came into our territory until now, did they?”
For the Scylla, who divided the world into the land within their territory and the land outside it, even nearby villages and towns might as well have been in another world. It seemed that they didn’t think much of the actions of Haj and his companions.
“Well, we do think that it’s troublesome that they fled into our territory, but that’s because they were being chased by those guys from the extermination force,” said Privel.
“Hmm, if it was up to the chief, wouldn’t she just let them go and pretend it never happened?” said Orbia. “Since she probably wouldn’t want to end up technically handing the resistance over to the Empire’s army.”
“I see. That’s an excellent way to not make any poison or medicine out of it*,” said Vandalieu, turning his gaze back to Haj and his companions.
For now, it didn’t seem as if they would be killed, so they looked quite relieved. Their trembling and cold sweat subsided.
“Then let’s make some medicine, shall we?” said Vandalieu.
As he spoke these words, Haj and his companions’ faces snapped upwards again.
“Medicine?!” Haj shouted. “No way, I’m begging you, our livers and hearts can’t be used as medicine!”
“No, no, it’s just a figurative expression,” said Vandalieu. “I’m going to assign you instructors and turn you into great, real resistance members.”
“I-instructors?” Haj repeated. “For people like us? I feel bad for saying this, but we don’t have combat-related Jobs, and even when it comes to fighting skills; some of us only have level 1…”
“It’s alright,” said Vandalieu. “There are a lot of exceptional instructors in our kingdom.”
If Haj and his companions wore the Living armors of the former Red Wolf Knights’ Order in Talosheim and trained diligently, they would probably be born anew within a few months.
Ordinary citizens had raised Spear Technique and Archery to level 2 within ten days; with several months of strict training, wouldn’t they become at least as strong as D-class adventurers? If not, they would just need to patiently keep at it.
“That’s like a dream come true for us, but is it really possible?” Haj asked. “Can people like us become real resistance members?”
“Unfortunately for you, you have no say in the matter,” said Vandalieu. “You won’t be able to return home for a while. I’ll prepare paper for you, so if there is someone you would like to write letters to, please do so. What do you think of this?”
As Vandalieu looked around at Rapiéçage, Yamata and everyone else who had been angry at Haj and his companions, it seemed that they didn’t have any particular complaints. They seemed satisfied; it was kind as far as punishment goes, but Haj and his companions would be forced to go through strict training forever as long as they were unable to improve, which would possibly be a harsher lifestyle than that of some slaves.
With a timing as if it had been waiting for the problem to be resolved, a red fruit was offered out to Vandalieu.
“Eat…” groaned a green-skinned woman.
“Ah, thank you. By the way, who are you?” Vandalieu asked, looking up at her in confusion. He couldn’t tell whether what the woman was wearing was clothes or textured armor.
“You don’t know?!” Privel cried incredulously. “She’s been there the whole time, so I thought she was your friend, Van-kun!”
Vandalieu thought that the green woman could do with some more muscle, but she had the kind of attractive figure that would cause men to ogle her and reach their hands towards her.
Her face was well-featured; she was a seductive, beautiful woman in between her mid-twenties and early thirties with slightly drooping eyes.
With this appearance, one might assume that she was a popular prostitute who had painted her skin and put on strange clothes to match the taste of a customer with peculiar tastes.
However, her back was covered in bark instead of skin, and branches were growing from it. Those branches were growing red, apple-like fruits, one of which was now in Vandalieu’s hand.
Vandalieu tried eating the fruit that had been handed to him by this beautiful woman who was clearly not a normal person.
“Mmm, judging from this super-hard texture and abundance of sweet juices, it’s Eisen, isn’t it?” he said.
“Oooh… Eat,” Eisen groaned.
The truth was that the spirit of Daene, a middle-aged woman who had sold apples in the city of Niarki, had gone through all kinds of changes to become Eisen. Seemingly happy that Vandalieu had known who she was, she wagged her cow-like tail from side to side, plucked another fruit and offered it to Vandalieu.
“Munch munch… By the way, why do you look like this now? Did your Rank increase?” Vandalieu asked.
“Yes, it seems that she transformed during the battle,” said Bellmond.
Incidentally, Mardock, the captain of the extermination force, had been struck by the fruit during the battle. He was currently still unconscious, with his nose and both his upper and lower front teeth horribly broken. Perhaps his jaw had been crushed as well?
“So, everyone was wondering what Eisen-san has become after her Rank increased,” said Darcia. “Since she has separated from her tree completely, she seems to be different from a Dryad.”
“She clearly does not appear to be an Ent-type monster, and even if we ask Eisen herself, she only says, ‘eat,’ so we cannot figure it out,” said Bellmond.
“Don’t you know something about it?” Rita asked.
“Hmm, even when I cast Appraisal, I can’t figure out her race title. It’s probably a new race,” said Vandalieu.
With that being the case, I need to give it a name. What should I name it? Vandalieu thought, and then he suddenly remembered a story about fairies that he had heard from a researcher’s spirit in Origin.
Looking at Eisen again, Vandalieu thought that many features of her appearance matched that of those fairies. Some parts were different, and those fairies didn’t have fruits growing from their backs, but that didn’t really matter.
“Well then, Eisen, your new race title is Skogsrå*,” said Vandalieu.
Having been given this race title, Eisen wagged her tail happily.
“Why, why isn’t there even anyone watching the base?”
A man of the resistance, the last surviving subordinate of Rick Paris, was breathing heavily as he looked around in shock at the temporary hideout, which was empty.
This was only a makeshift hideout of tents, with traps set all around in place of camouflage and alarms, but there should have been at least two people staying behind to watch it at all times.
The plan was to set up the hideout here so that Raymond could go around to persuade the chief of each Scylla village. The plan was for Rick and his men to stop their sneaky acts and hide while that was happening; there was no mistake about it.
Despite that, not a single person was here, let alone Commander Raymond Paris.
There were no signs of damage, so it didn’t seem as if the hideout had been abandoned after being attacked, but…
“This is bad!” a voice shouted.
A man rushed towards the hideout, looking badly injured. Rick’s subordinate thought it was an enemy at first, but seeing that it was an ally that he knew, he gave a sigh of relief and stopped his hand that had been reaching for his weapon.
But in the next moment, that feeling of relief stopped.
“Commander Raymond has been taken captive by a Dhampir!” said the wounded man. “They said that if we want him back, Vice-captain Rick and all of the people involved in the conspiracy against the Scylla must come to a designated location! If we don’t hurry, Commander Raymond is going to be killed!”
“W-what?! Vice-captain Rick has been abducted by Vampires! They said that Commander Raymond needs to come alone to a designated location if we want to save him!”
“… W-what are we supposed to do?!” the two men shouted simultaneously.
It was an unbelievable turn of events. Each kidnapper had requested the other hostage in return for their own.
Unbeknownst to the two surviving resistance members, the Vampire serving Gubamon, who had been tailing one of the men, and Vandalieu, who was watching through the Lemures that had been tailing the other, were both very troubled by this development.