Chapter 29: The Black Ghoul King and the One-Armed Sword King
While Vandalieu was in the royal castle with Nuaza to recruit the【Sword King】Borkus, the main members of the group that knew Vandalieu well, except for Sam, were gathered in a certain room in one of Talosheims buildings.
「It seems that everyone has gathered here besides Sam-dono who cannot leave his carriage.」(Zadiris)
「So, Zadiris, what were you planning after gathering us all here」(Tarea)
「If Im not mistaken, nobody called for you to be here, though.」(Basdia)
Elegantly hiding her mouth behind a folding fan that she had made herself from Ent wood, Tarea gave a small laugh in response to Basdia glaring at her through half-closed eyes.
「I cannot miss this meeting after hearing that we are gathering to form a plan to comfort Van-sama, after all.」(Tarea)
「Muuh, I do not recall saying anything of the sort, just where did you hear this Well, it is fine.」(Zadiris)
Zadiris had planned to have a discussion with only those who knew about Vandalieus circumstances… His past lives, the god, the one hundred people who would be reincarnated here. But since Vandalieu seemed to trust Tarea considerably, Zadiris decided that there would be no problem long as she was careful with her words, and started the meeting.
「Now then, the reason I have gathered everyone here today is to make you aware that the boy needs rest, and because I wish for you to cooperate with me in making the boy rest.」(Zadiris)
Zadiris brought up the topic of discussion, but this only caused confusion to stir among the people in the room.
『Rest, did you say Bocchan is sleeping well every night.』(Saria)
『Yeah, hes always sound asleep.』(Rita)
Saria and Rita, who were attending the meeting on Sams behalf, spoke their opinions. Vandalieu was in fact sleeping well as the two of them said. He didnt even turn over in his sleep, and his breathing was soft.
There had been more than a few instances where they checked his pulse to make sure he hadnt suddenly died.
「Thats right, Zadiris. Vandalieu hasnt shown any sign of being tired, and if he was tired, hed definitely say so himself that he needs to rest.」(Vigaro)
「Youre right. When he was making sauces and preserved food, he didnt seem any different from usual.」(Basdia)
As Vigaro and Basdia said, neither Vandalieus behavior nor his facial expression showed any signs of fatigue. He had never even said,「Im tired」, or,「I want to rest.」
He sighed often, but that usually because things werent going his way rather than because he was tired. Because his breaths were so quiet in the first place, there were also a lot of times where nobody could even notice him sighing.
『And everyone is treating Vandalieu with care. He really is a hard worker, but I dont think were forcing him to do anything unreasonable.』(Saria)
Darcia, who was awake at this time, was also participating in the meeting by having Saria relay her words.
In response to the trust that Darcia expressed through Saria, Zadiris gave a small groan and shook her head.
「I am sorry to betray that trust that you have in us, but we are demanding the unreasonable of the boy. Recently, I massaged the boys shoulders half-jokingly, but they were… stiff. He didnt dislike it; he called it『heaven』and almost fell asleep.」(Zadiris)
「I was wondering what you were going to say, but you just wanted to boast that you are skilled at giving shoulder massages Anyone would feel sleepy after having their shoulders massaged.」(Tarea)
「The elderly should at least take five seconds to think before opening their mouths. Remember that the boy is only just about to turn three years old.」(Zadiris)
Everyone was taken aback by Zadiriss words.
Vandalieu was an infant who felt pleasure from having his shoulders massaged, in other words, his shoulders were stiff… No normal child of that age would have stiff shoulders.
「And just think. Think about how much the boy does in a single day. Incidentally, he does not stop his lessons in Alchemy until he has completed at least four hours.」(Zadiris)
Vandalieu spent four hours a day in lessons where he would crush materials in a mortar, mix them together, knead them and pour Mana into them.
「… He also makes sauces from walnuts and herbs, and cookies with acorns and other tree fruits with everyone. We ran out of salt and he was worried about finding an ingredient to replace it. He did come up with the idea of turning the mortar and pestle into Golems so that it wouldnt take too much time or effort, but…」(Basdia)
Even the work he did while chatting with people took a considerable amount of time.
「He did take care of us during our migration. He used Lemures and Undead insects to watch our surroundings, and most importantly, he created roads for us and then returned them back to how they originally were. Currently, he is making lumber out of the trees and repairing the buildings, isnt he」(Tarea)
『Also, he is practicing no-attribute magic until late in the night. He performs small tasks with【Telekinesis】while practicing his Mana Control skill.』(Saria)
『Eh! Bocchan wakes up early in the morning to practice his death-attribute magic, doesnt he!』(Rita)
『That cant be! Then when is Vandalieu sleeping!』(Darcia)
「That is what I mean. The boy possesses the【Status Effect Resistance】skill, so he is likely enduring the effects of fatigue and sleep deprivation. He even seems to possess the【Surpass Limits】skill as well.」(Zadiris)
As Zadiris was saying, with the skills that Vandalieu possessed, even an infants body could endure the effects of fatigue. Even to the point that Vandalieu himself wouldnt really notice that he was pushing himself past his limits.
Because of his resistance skills, even if he was fatigued his body still moved normally, so he would be under the impression that he was still fine. That was why he could endure being sleepy, so even the time that he did spend sleeping so that his development wouldnt be negatively affected grew shorter, as he would always think,「This much sleep will be enough.」
But the resistance skills only allowed him to endure this. They wouldnt remove his fatigue or help him quickly recover from it. And so, in reality, his fatigue was accumulating.
「And… Ive only just realized, but Van rarely shows any emotion in his expression. Im able to tell how hes feeling to some extent from his tone, behavior and the air around him, but…」(Basdia)
And as Basdia said, Vandalieus accumulated fatigue almost never appeared in his facial expression. His face was always white, almost enough to be called too white.
It wasnt white in an attractive sense; he always looked unpleasantly pale, as if he had smeared candle wax over his cheeks. That was why it was impossible to tell how healthy he was from the color of his face.
And Darcia, Sam, Saria and Rita had all been unaware of Vandalieus overwork. That was because they were all Undead without bodies of flesh, so they didnt feel fatigue themselves.
Mental fatigue may have been another story, but even though Saria, Rita and Sam had only been Undead for less than three years, they had already become unable to recall the sensation of being physically tired.
In addition, Darcia was spending more than half of each day sleeping in her remains. Nobody could blame her for not knowing how much rest Vandalieu was getting.
「Nuh, then why doesnt Vandalieu try to get some more rest himself Its true that there might not have been any time for him to rest while we were on our journey. But its different the past few days. And even on our journey, Im sure he could have at least rested for one day.」(Vigaro)
As Vigaro was saying, Vandalieu could have rested if he had wanted to. All he would have to do is tell everyone,「Im tired today so I want to rest.」
After all, he was truly the King of the Ghouls right now, standing at the top of their community.
Of course, Vigaro, Zadiris, Tarea, Basdia - all of the important Ghouls - recognized Vandalieu as the Ghoul King.
If Vandalieu had stopped building roads during their journey across the mountain range, then they wouldnt have been able to continue traveling. But if they had chosen to stop at a spot where monster attacks would be relatively infrequent, Vandalieu could have rested for a day without a problem and nobody would have complained. After all, without Vandalieu, it would have been impossible for the Ghouls to cross the mountain range in the first place.
No, without Vandalieu, the Ghoul women would still be in Bugogans custody and many of the other Ghouls would have perished after having their villages destroyed by the Orcs. The Ghouls had no reason to complain.
However, words expressing a desire to rest had never come from Vandalieus mouth.
「Indeed. Why is that, I wonder」(Zadiris)
Zadiris and the other Ghouls couldnt understand why this was. The Ghouls were a fundamentally lazy race. Though they would often need to tell each other,「Dont rest, keep training, work harder」, they would never need to say,「You can take a rest now, catch your breath.」
Ghouls rested plenty without being told to, and if they were tired, they would say so themselves. In this regard, Ghouls were indeed part-monster.
『Hmm, ever since Father became a carriage, Bocchan has been taking afternoon naps, but…』(Saria)
『I wonder if its because of the resistance skills after all. I have a feeling someone told me that those born with resistance skills have poor awareness of the status effects that those skills grant resistance to…』(Darcia)
After careful consideration, this was the conclusion Darcia had come to.
As a Dark Elf, Darcia had been born with the【Magic Resistance】skill. This skill caused damage from offensive magic spells to be reduced and status effects caused by spells were less likely to occur and faster to recover from.
As a result, she had apparently experienced more than a few situations where she relied on her【Magic Resistance】skill too much and sustained severe burns, and situations where she was trying to taken an enemy alive in battle and cast a spell thinking,「Im sure they wont die from a direct hit by a spell like this」, only for the target to be turned into a piece of meat.
Because of this, all Dark Elves were taught about resistance skills while they were children, including how much of an effect certain things would have if one didnt possess these resistance skills.
However, Vandalieu hadnt been taught this. It was very likely that he thought he could simply endure things because of the【Status Effect Resistance】skill, thinking,「Im surprisingly not tired.」
『Thats why he doesnt think to rest. And he might be thinking of the current situation as a state of emergency. Because after I died, a lot of things happened…』(Darcia)
He had been desperate to survive since his mother had died, and he had been doing his best to gain revenge after that. As a result, he had come to work with the Ghouls, but his original goal when he first met Zadiris and the others was to learn certain skills and then leave the Devils Nest. And so he had worked hard in his lessons.
He had defeated the Noble Orcs, led the Ghouls across the mountain range and helped them find a new home. It had been a series of emergency situations.
Because much of Vandalieus work hadnt required him to physically move his body, he might not have a good sense of having「done work.」
However, everyone here knew that using ones Mana caused fatigue.
「I understand that Van-sama is tired. So cant we solve this if we simply tell him to rest」(Tarea)
They were now well aware that Vandalieu needed to rest. But then, wasnt the solution very simple Tarea suggested that it might be so, but Zadiris shook her head.
「If that were the case, I would have already told him to rest long ago. But he does not really listen.」(Zadiris)
One time Zadiris had suggested for Vandalieu to take a rest, and Vandalieu did stop his Alchemy lesson. But it was with reluctance, as if he felt that he could keep going.
But he would continue practicing death-attribute magic while lying down, and just when Zadiris thought that he was taking a relaxing walk, he was performing needless repairs on the buildings of Talosheim. He was always thinking of the next thing he should do and doing them on his own.
When it seemed like he was playing with the Black Goblin and Anubis children, he was helping them with their studies and taking care of the Live-Dead. He barely rested at all.
He was also performing strange experiments to somehow make Bone Man stronger, as Bone Man was the only one of his Undead who hadnt increased in Rank despite reaching level 100.
「Now that I think about it, Van said that he wanted me to teach him unarmed fighting when he turned three. He said something about stories where one can become a master if he begins learning from the age of three.」(Basdia)
「WHAT! Why is he asking you, Basdia, and not me!」(Vigaro)
『Isnt that because your arms are clearly too long, so he would not be able to learn your techniques Youre the one who told us that unarmed combat for Ghouls is completely different for men and women, Vigaro-san.』(Saria)
「Vigaro, be quiet for a moment. Basdia, if you are going to teach him, you must be skillful with your words and make the boy rest. So that is how it is, everyone. We must form a plan to have the boy take a break. I have spent so much time wondering how I could get the youngsters to train themselves diligently. To think that I would also have to strain my wit to have them rest themselves as well.」(Zadiris)
And so Zadiris and the others discussed how to make Vandalieu rest while he was away at the royal castle.
With Nuazas guidance, Vandalieu passed through the collapsed gate of the royal castle with some difficulty.
「… These tall stairs arent kind to infants.」(Vandalieu)
The buildings of Talosheim were very rough on Vandalieu, as they had been built for Titans whose average height was 2.7m for males and 2.5m for females.
Climbing the stairs was an athletics exercise.
「My apologies; as you can see, the stairs for the use of other races have been buried in the rubble.」(Nuaza)
As Nuaza said this, he suddenly picked up Vandalieu with his arms that were only made of skin and bones. Even after becoming a Lich - a Lesser Lich, to be more precise - he hadnt lost his【Augmented Strength】skill, a transformed version of the【Superhuman Strength】skill that he had possessed while he was alive.
「We havent used it up until now so I decided to leave it until later, but its probably best to repair the royal castle as soon as possible.」(Vandalieu)
If Darcia and the others had heard this, they would have stopped him, but Nuaza replied,「It matters not as long as it is at your convenience, Holy Son.」
「It would indeed be fortunate if you were to repair it for us, but it is a castle where no soldiers or civilians live. And it will likely not collapse for several hundred more years.」(Nuaza)
For Nuaza and the rest of the Undead of Talosheim, the royal castle was an enormous gravestone for their nation. If it were to be repaired, they would be happy, but it seemed that they didnt desire it so badly that it would delay Vandalieus plans.
Even now, two hundred years after the fierce battle, there were parts of the city that had been destroyed and collapsed, but the royal castle built of building stones originating from Dungeons still stood tall. As Nuaza said, the castle would still be here several hundred years from now. Its impressive presence was enough to make anyone feel certain of that.
「… I understand. Ill do it if there is some spare time. So, where is Borkus-san」
「He should be in front of the door of the audience chamber, which contains hidden stairs that lead beneath the castle. He has not moved a single step from that spot for two hundred years.」(Nuaza)
Before coming here to recruit the【Sword King】Borkus, Vandalieu had asked the Undead Titans, including Nuaza, what kind of person Borkus was.
According to them, he was the only one of Talosheims heroes to revive as an Undead, and the most powerful among the Undead Titans right now.
His personality was -
『A heavy believer of justice and virtue; a cheerful, kind person. He loved to buy others drinks but was weak to alcohol himself. He was someone who did not hesitate to say that a womans charm was in her chest, while a mans was in his muscles.』(Nuaza)
This is what Nuaza, who had apparently been among the intellectual group of Titans, had said.
The other Titans had replied -
『He was bald!』
『Strong! Strong! Strong!』
『His complaints about his wife and boasts about his daughter were too long. So annoying, so annoyiiiiing, but hes a gooood guuuuy!』
In summary, he was apparently a good person.
「I dont have any confidence in my muscles; is there any chance that hell say,『Come back the day before yesterday*』」(Vandalieu)
「I am sure he will not. And speaking of muscles, I am only skin and bones myself.」(Nuaza)
「I suppose thats true.」(Vandalieu)
And after proceeding through the inside of the castle with cracked walls and floors littered with broken fragments of smashed reliefs* and broken pillars, they soon arrived at the audience chamber.
The【Sword King】Borkus was there, as if taking the role of the ruined door that had probably once been heavy and yet extravagant.
His three-meter-tall body was enormous even for a Titan, with his bloodless skin covering his organs and large, piled-up muscles. Even as an Undead, a powerful presence radiated from him.
Borkus had lost his right arm in the fierce battle with the【Divine Spear of Ice】Mikhail, and his enormous two-handed sword had been broken halfway up the blade, but he hadnt lost any of his strength.
Vandalieu was sure of this, even without using【Appraisal.】His constantly-active【Danger Sense: Death】was telling him,「Do not make him angry.」
『The youngster from the Church… Who is this unusual brat』(Borkus)
The【Sword King】Borkus, whose skull was completely exposed on the right side of his head, glared at Vandalieu suspiciously. From the vigilant tone in his voice, Vandalieu knew that he was resisting the effects of the【Death-Attribute Charm】skill.
「This is the【Ghoul King】Vandalieu, the Prophesized Holy Son.」(Nuaza)
『What Ghoul King, you say So shes not a Dhampir, but a mutated Ghoul To be a Ghoul King as a little girl, even if you disregard the strange air around her, means that shes no ordinary person.』(Borkus)
「No, Im a Dhampir, not a Ghoul. Also, Im a boy.」(Vandalieu)
『Is that so』(Borkus)
Vandalieu hastily corrected Borkuss misunderstanding, but even though Borkus had said that Vandalieu was「no ordinary person」, he didnt seem very interested.
『I dont know what you were thinking when you came here, but I have no interest in what you do… If you want to settle down, or take away the bodies of those bastards from the shield-nation, go ahead.』(Borkus)
Resting his broken sword on his left shoulder, Borkus looked down at Vandalieu. He seemed relaxed, but he would certainly bring that sword swinging down in an instant if anything were to happen.
From his behavior, it was difficult to imagine that【Death-Attribute Charm】was having any effect on him. In fact, it seemed to be making him only more vigilant.
『I hadnt thought that it would be this ineffective.』(Vandalieu)
Vandalieu had never assumed that【Death-Attribute Charm】would affect every single Undead. Naturally, he had known that there was a possibility that Borkus would resist it.
He had thought about that possibility, but hadnt thought of any concrete plans on what to do if Borkus really did resist it.
If Borkus were to become an enemy and Vandalieu couldnt Charm him, he had to think of a way to defeat him.
If Vandalieu wanted to build up more forces, he had to think of another way.
But now that Borkus had declared that he wouldnt have any part in Vandalieus activities, what should Vandalieu do
(I suppose I have no choice but to negotiate normally.)
Well, that was the conclusion that Vandalieu arrived at.
「Borkus-san. There is something that I wish for you to help me with.」(Vandalieu)
『Sorry, but I refuse. I have things to do, you see.』(Borkus)
Rejection. It seemed that the recruitment negotiations had failed.
No, no, it wasnt over. It was too early to give up.
「Borkus-san, I can use death-attribute magic, a magic that has never existed in this world up until now. It might be possible for me to grant your wishes with this magic.」(Vandalieu)
In a negotiation, one has to present something that the other party desires and offer it to them in exchange for the other party fulfilling a request. Thus, Vandalieu thought to first find out what it was that Borkus desired.
Would it be revenge on the Mirg shield-nation Or the restoration of his body Or perhaps he wanted to find out what had happened to his daughter who had escaped into the Orbaume Kingdom
『… Can a brat like you really do something like that』(Borkus)
「At the very least, Ive been able to do a number of things that werent possible in this world before.」(Vandalieu)
Borkus asked his own question in return, but Vandalieu could give him a proud answer. This wasnt a matter of him having pride or not, but because he could use magic that had never existed before, he knew that it was only natural for him to be able to do things that were never possible.
Even the most basic of death-attribute spells like【Sterilization】and【Bug Killer】were apparently difficult to reproduce using other attributes of magic.
Hearing Vandalieus answer, Borkus turned his face that had only one eye down towards the ground. And then he spoke without looking up.
『But you cant do something like removing the curse of a legendary-class Magic Item, can you』(Borkus)
There were some legendary-class Magic Items that inflicted curses on their targets or their users that even first-class mages couldnt remove. Such curses could only be removed by another legendary-class Magic Item, a hero or any beings who could match the gods or the gods themselves.
Would that not be impossible, even for the Holy Son Nuaza surreptitiously turned his mummified face towards Vandalieu with a concerned expression.
「A curse, you say I can do that. I havent used any Mana today, either.」(Vandalieu)
『You can do that!』(Borkus)
「How can that be!」(Nuaza)
As Vandalieu quickly answered that he could do it, Nuaza and Borkus simultaneously expressed their disbelief.
『Its a curse, you know, one from a legendary-class Magic Item! Its so powerful that it cant be purified no matter how many gold coins you pile up at the Church!』(Borkus)
「That is right! The High Priest-sama and Bishop-sama who I cannot even be compared to, and even the【Saint】Jeena-sama, could not purify such curses! Never mind purifying it, what would we do if you were to become cursed yourself, Holy Son!」(Nuaza)
From the point of view of Nuaza and Borkus, Vandalieu was saying the impossible, so their reaction was only natural.
「Yes, I did it before… I was forced to do it, so I think I can. Its a curse after all, isnt it」(Vandalieu)
However, from Vandalieus point of view, it was only natural that curses could be broken, so he hadnt the slightest idea why the two of them were so confused.
Well, judging from their behavior, he had at least realized that in Lambda, curses were probably not something that could be so easily removed.
「Curses are basically Status Effects caused by Mana, arent they Depending on the curse, malice or hatred might be at the core of the curse, but the specific effects… Causing incurable illness, bringing misfortune or sealing certain actions - Mana is necessary to cause those kinds of Status Effects.」(Vandalieu)
Mana is fundamentally essential for curses to manifest their specific effects.
For instance, sending a doll that has been torn to shreds to a hated person is nothing more than a psychological attack. If that person has nerves of steel or doesnt fear anything, then this will have no effect at all.
Mana is necessary to turn a curse into something more than just a superstitious charm. Mana needs to be embedded into it through a ritual, chant, a sacrificial offering or something of that sort.
This was the definition of a curse in the world of Origin, in which science and magic had co-existed.
「Death-attribute magic is capable of absorbing energy, including Mana, to extinguish it. So if the Mana that makes up the curse is extinguished, the curse can be removed.」(Vandalieu)
Vandalieu repeated the exact words that the researchers had once told him.
Curses had previously been incredibly difficult to remove in Origin back then. Vandalieu remembered how loud the excited researchers had been when the experiment had succeeded.
Well, the success of the experiments hadnt improved the way Vandalieu had been treated, nor would the researchers grant him any wishes, so Vandalieu had never appreciated how amazing it actually was to be able to remove… erase curses.
『So you mean to say that you can remove a legendary-class Magic Items curse』(Borkus)
「Yes. As long as its not some incredibly unique curse.」(Vandalieu)
Even as Vandalieu gave this answer, he was silently puzzled. He couldnt feel any sign of Borkus being under the effects of a curse… other than the fact that he was an Undead.
『… Alright. If you can bring those guys back, Ill become your subordinate or minion or anything you want. I dont know if this has any meaning to it now, but I swear it by my honor as the【Sword King.】』(Borkus)
『Yeah. My companions who are still trapped by the curse of that damned spear of ice… Please release Jeena and Zandia-jouchan. I beg you.』(Borkus)
Borkuss head had been far above Vandalieus own up until now, but now he lowered it to Vandalieus feet.
「I understand」, Vandalieu replied as he looked down at Borkuss hairless head.
These are special Undead created when life-attribute magic is used on fresh corpses that have not yet undergone rigor mortis to grant artificial life from the outside, resulting in a soulless body with biological processes such as the cardiac and respiratory functions restored.
As they are corpses without souls, they do not even possess the most basic intelligence and do not attack the living like Zombies. All skills that the owner of the body originally possessed while alive are lost, other than skills that he or she was born with. (From this fact, there are scholars who insist on the theory that skills are dependent not on the body, but on the soul. But they are in the minority.)
Defeating them is simple; if they are injured in a way that would be fatal to a normal human, they will die.
Their base Rank is Rank 0; they pose even less of a threat than a Slime or a Goblin. In addition, they do not spontaneously appear in Devils Nests or Dungeons. All Live-Dead are artificially created by mages.
The reason mages create these Undead that only possess the most basic of biological functions is because their lack of souls makes them ideal for use as familiars and to act on the mages behalf.
In such cases, the Live-Deads physical abilities increase beyond its normal limits and it becomes a dangerous enemy.
There is a whispered story where the king of a nation suddenly passed away and the people had been deceived by being told that the king was not dead, but simply lying on the floor because he was feeling unwell. There is another, though its authenticity is questionable, where the head of a noble family passed away without a heir, and he was turned into a Live-Dead in order to make one.
As it is impossible to create Live-Dead who have sustained injuries that render biological functions impossible (including loss of blood), only corpses that have died spontaneously or of most illnesses can be used.
It is also impossible to create Live-Dead from the corpses of monsters or races that were created when the goddess procreated with monsters (Vampires, Dhampirs, Ghouls, etc.), as their corpses contain residual amounts of Mana following death.