Chapter 256 - Today’s plans: A duel at dinnertime
Early in the morning, having woken from a rather short sleep, Vandalieu placed the two sealed fragments he had stolen from the Great Church of Ricklent the previous night in front of him.
Even with the god being worshipped at the Church giving his permission and even sending a Divine Message for the people at the Church to allow it to happen, stealing was stealing.
“Well then, I’m going to release them, so everyone please stand back,” Vandalieu said.
Ordinarily, seals secured with protections made with Orichalcum, which was harder than Adamantite and withstood both physical and magical attacks better than Mythril, could be maintained as long as they were not struck over and over with weapons that were also made of Orichalcum.
Even hosts infested by fragments of the Demon King and fragments that had taken over their hosts’ bodies could not easily break such seals.
But as Vandalieu used the ‘Golem Creation’ Skill to change the shapes of the Orichalcum protections, their sealing effects were lost. It was unlikely that the creators of the protections or their user, Randolf ‘the True,’ had expected that the protections themselves could be manipulated to change shape.
The moment the seal’s effects were lost, the Orichalcum tubes expanded and split apart, and their contents came crawling out.
“I shall find a new host - THE MAIN BODY!”
“Let me join! Let me join the main body!”
The fragments sought a new host to infest, but upon sensing Vandalieu’s presence, they immediately flew towards him.
《You have merged with the Demon King’s oviduct and the Demon King’s silk gland!》
《The Level of the ‘Demon King’ Skill has increased!》
“I’ve absorbed the fragments without a problem,” said Vandalieu. “But…”
I’ve taken another step closer to being the Demon King, he thought to himself, staring blankly into space as he heard the announcer in his head inform him of the Level increase of the ‘Demon King’ Skill.
Not paying any heed to the feelings of the main body, the fragments were celebrating.
“We have succeeded in joining the main body! We have succeeded in joining the main body!”
“We are not fragments! We are the Demon King!”
The silk gland, which had been contained in a seal created by the Minotaur King in a ritual using Natania as a sacrifice, was also very interesting. However…
“Leaving that aside… Oviduct,” said Vandalieu, activating the Demon King’s oviduct and transforming a part of his body.
He found that he was able to produce oviducts from his arms and legs, and he was able to transform his fingers, tongue or an activated Demon King’s tentacle into oviducts as well.
After testing various things out, he looked over at Juliana and Natania, who were standing next to one another. “How is it, Juliana, Natania? Do you feel any symptoms such as nausea, headaches or dizziness?”
The Demon King’s oviduct was the fragment that had been used by the Minotaur King that had taken the two of them captive. In front of their very eyes, the Minotaur King had used the oviduct to turn the female knights into tools for reproduction, and Juliana herself had been the last to have a large number of eggs implanted inside her.
The ordeal had caused Juliana such intense suffering that her mind had collapsed.
The oviduct had not been used on Natania so that she could be used as a sacrifice, and her sanity had remained intact, but it would not be surprising if it had become a source of trauma for her.
If the two of them had negative responses to the oviduct, he would refrain from using it unless he was in a desperate situation with no other choice.
However, the two of them simply stared at Vandalieu in confusion, showing no signs that they were enduring any psychological pain, and whispered something to each other.
“Umm, if you have something to say, you can just come out and say it, you know? And are you really alright? You’re not experiencing anything like your tongues shaking so badly that you can’t speak?” said Vandalieu, continuing his questioning.
Juliana reluctantly opened her mouth to speak. “Well then… Seeing it does not cause me any discomfort, nor are my legs or lips shaking. However, there is something that we are very curious about.”
“Master, can you lay eggs with that ‘oviduct’ thing?” Natania asked.
“Hmm… let’s test it out,” said Vandalieu.
Vandalieu produced a tentacle from his arm and transformed it into an oviduct, so that it was easy for Juliana and Natania to see, and tried testing whether he could produce an egg. Of course, Vandalieu had never done such a thing before, and the Dhampir race did not have such bodily functions, so he had no idea how.
However, the Demon King’s fragments were body parts with functions that no person had. Vandalieu had absorbed these fragments and fused with them, so he was able to control them at will.
“Eggs… something like this?” he said.
The tip of the tentacle laid three eggs on the dirt floor - one amphibian-looking one with red-black contents surrounded only by a thin membrane, one reptilian-looking one with a soft shell, and one bird-like one with a hard shell. All of them were about the size of a person’s fist.
Everyone, including Juliana and Natania, began making a commotion.
“The Mana consumed generally doesn’t change, but it seems that it does when I alter the elasticity and hardness of the shells and the eggs’ contents,” said Vandalieu, unable to stop himself from making observations on his new ability despite wondering why this had caused unrest in everyone else in addition to Juliana and Natania.
However, when he looked up again, he did so while telling himself that whether he would use it or not in the future would depend on them.
But when he looked up, he was greeted by Juliana’s dumbfounded face.
“He really laid eggs… Has Vandalieu-sama become a girl?!” she shouted.
The shock of these words was so great that Vandalieu froze, and even his brain’s thinking stopped.
“I guess so. I mean, roosters don’t lay eggs, hens do,” said Natania, making a comparison to chickens.
“… Master, I need to go and heat up yesterday’s soup,” said Simon, excusing himself to go and make breakfast in order to avoid the reality before him.
“C-congratulations, Bocchan? Is that the right thing to say in this situation?” said Sam uncertainly.
“Umm, Kana-chan told me that at times like these, I’m supposed to make red bean rice… Will that be alright?” said Darcia, visibly shaken.
Note: It’s a Japanese custom to make red bean rice to celebrate a daughter reaching the age of her first menstruation.
“No, I mean, he hasn’t actually become a girl, has he? He’s just able to lay eggs. Right?” said Kachia, still looking worried.
Meanwhile, Myuze and Privel, being of oviparous races, were not very shaken.
“I am sure Luciliano would be delighted to receive these as souvenirs,” said Myuze.
“Van-kun… These eggs, will something hatch from them if we keep them warm? Little Van-kuns?” asked Privel.
The two of them seemed to just think of this as Vandalieu developing in an unusual way.
… But Gizania was shaken to the point that she was wobbling on her feet. “Van lays eggs… Then what am I supposed to do?”
Fang and the rats barked and squeaked, staring at the eggs Vandalieu had laid with gleaming eyes, saliva dripping from their jaws. Even Mähne and Hof, who had originally been herbivores, were gnashing their teeth with hungry expressions as if they were looking at a bundle of carrots.
“Your Majesty, please regain your sanity - I mean, come back to reality,” said Princess Levia.
“I feel like this is a rare occurrence, but it’s probably best to come back to your senses now,” said Orbia.
Vandalieu came back to his senses and hastily shook himself out of his daze. “No, my gender has not changed. I’ve just become able to create eggs with the oviduct. I don’t know how it was for the Minotaur King, but I don’t think I can produce offspring with this, though I believe I can create other things. So, Mom, please don’t cook red bean rice.”
The Minotaur King had used the Demon King’s oviduct to spawn large numbers of Minotaurs within a short period of time to increase the power of the horde it commanded. However, it was likely that this had only been possible because the Demon King’s oviduct had been affected by the fact that Minotaur race was a unisexual race with only males, which could only reproduce by raping the females of other demi-human races or human women.
“Then there really will be little Van-kuns hatching from these eggs?!” Privel exclaimed.
“Privel, I’m sorry to betray your expectations, but nothing will hatch from these eggs. All of them are filled with my blood. Look, they’re a red-black color, aren’t they?” said Vandalieu, pointing at the amphibian-looking egg.
“Ah, you’re right,” said Privel.
“So that’s why Fang and the others look like they want to eat them,” said Kachia. But if that’s the case, what will this fragment be useful for? It looks like you could stick it into enemies, but the Demon King’s proboscis would be better for that.”
“Kachia, I could create clones of myself if I wanted to… though they won’t be little versions of me like Privel expected. Juliana seems fine with it, so I’ll test that out next,” said Vandalieu.
He produced one more egg with the oviduct, and unlike the previous three eggs, this one trembled, and after a few seconds, the shell split and the contents emerged.
“MIGYAAAH!” cried the eight-eyed octopus-like creature that crawled out.
It began growing rapidly - in less than a minute, it went from being the size of something that one would cup in both hands to a size that a grown adult would have to look up to gaze at.
The eight-eyed octopus looked around at the astonished Kachia and the others and waved one of its legs.
“Something like this,” it said in Vandalieu’s voice, although it sounded rather muffled.
“Is this octopus a Demon King Familiar?” Kachia asked.
“Yes, it’s a Demon King Familiar. It’s no different from the Demon King Familiars placed inconspicuously around Talosheim and other places,” the octopus replied.
Demon King Familiars were pseudo-organisms that Vandalieu created by combining several of his Demon King fragments that served as clones of himself. In other words, they were familiars.
Naturally, he was able to create these even without the Demon King’s oviduct, but…
“I suppose you are able to create Demon Kings faster than usual by using the eggs created by the oviduct,” said Sam.
“Van-dono would normally need to directly produce fragments, put the separate parts together and make changes to his blood to create them, after all,” said Myuze. “It seemed that it took longer the more complicated the Demon King Familiars were, too.”
Thus, having Demon King Familiars hatch and grow rapidly from an egg would save a lot of time and effort.
“By the way, Vandalieu, what was that ‘migyaah?’” asked Darcia.
“Mom, ‘migyaah’ doesn’t mean anything. I just tried howling to make a bit of a show out of it,” Vandalieu told her.
“It’s a shame that there’s no little Van-kuns coming out, but this is interesting. Is it as strong as ordinary Demon King Familiars?” asked Privel as she touched and pulled on the eight-eyed octopus’s tentacles with a keenly interested expression.
She looked like she’d suggest testing its strength out at any moment.
“I think so. But I think testing it out would be noticed by the people watching the building from outside, so let’s leave it for another time,” the new Demon King Familiar said.
Since yesterday evening, there had been multiple people who seemed to be spies watching over the building and its surroundings.
Most of them likely belonged to the intelligence network employed by the Alcrem house, though some of them had perhaps been sent from other duchies or the Amid Empire.
“Those guys have been watching this building ever since King came here. They’re still there right now,” said Braga.
“There are no signs of them trying to enter the building or use magic or Magic Items to peek inside,” reported Kimberley. “I’m sure they’re doing their best to keep their distance and not be noticed because they’re scared of Darcia-san after hearing what she did in Morksi.”
“Was I that scary…?” Darcia whispered, feeling down from hearing this.
But from the spies’ point of view, anyone with the strength of a B-class adventurer or greater would be scary, even if they were a beautiful Dark Elf woman with a child.
“Talking like this may not be noticed, but it is possible that they would hear the sounds of a practice battle. It also seems that the guards are patrolling around this building particularly frequently. Shall I dispose of them?” asked Gufadgarn.
“Gufadgarn, that’s a no,” said Vandalieu.
“In any case, this Demon King Familiar will return to me. And you can eat those eggs,” said the eight-eyed octopus as it sank into Vandalieu’s shadow.
Fang and the others devoured the blood-filled eggs, not leaving a single drop behind.
“Myuze-dono, with those eggs and that Demon King Familiar -” said Gizania.
“Oh, that’s right! Van-dono, there is something that I wish to discuss with you!” said Myuze.
“If it’s eggs of Demon King Familiars that look like enormous toads, I can make them. I can’t make them very small, though,” said Vandalieu.
“That is plenty!” said Myuze, throwing her hands into the air with delight.
Vandalieu also considered the possibility of the oviduct as a projectile weapon by focusing not on the contents on the eggs, but hardening their shells and firing them like projectiles.
As for the other fragment, the silk gland, he tested it by producing several threads, then stopped his testing.
Vandalieu knew that silk glands were organs that were possessed by things like moth larvae, allowing the production of threads. It was difficult to imagine that the Demon King Guduranis had produced threads to make cocoons… but it was also difficult to imagine him using the oviduct… so these fragments were likely the result of Guduranis’s body pieces mutating after being torn apart from one another.
The threads produced by the fragment were considerably more powerful than the threads that Vandalieu had been able to create up to this point, and he was able to alter their thickness and other properties. He could freely create threads ranging from the thin threads resembling that of silkworms to more viscous ones like the ones spiders used to build their nests.
“This has always been true, but Van puts us Arachne to shame,” said Gizania.
The usefulness of the threads was easier to understand than the oviduct, so there wasn’t any need to spend a lot of time testing the silk gland, so Vandalieu decided to end it there and begin breakfast.
The menu, prepared by Simon, was heated-up soup from last night and scrambled egg sandwiches made from the eggs of Giga birds, which were monster versions of chickens.
“So, are we avoiding the headquarters of the Tamers’ Guild now?” Simon asked.
“Yes. I don’t get along with the Guild Master here, so I’ve decided to keep my distance and not get too friendly,” said Vandalieu.
“The stable was more comfortable than a lot of inns, but… after hearing all of that…” said Kachia, trailing off with an angry look in her eyes.
Privel and the others nodded in agreement.
The Guild Master of the Guild headquarters, the ‘Hornless Demon General’ Pedro, had requested that Vandalieu lend him familiars for his familiars and the familiars of other Guild members to reproduce with.
When taming monsters to use them as familiars, one commonly-known method of reducing the difficulty of taming them was for the tamer to raise the monsters themselves from childhood.
With the exception of races like Demons and insects, this was generally effective across all monsters, and even Dragon Knights cultivated strong bonds with their Wyverns while they were still in their eggs.
Pedro was trying to actively promote this method when instructing the younger generation of tamers, but there was one problem shared by the monsters he specialized in - Ogres, Trolls and Minotaurs… The fact that they were unisexual, male-only races with no females.
Using the females of other monsters like Ogres did in the wild would be difficult, as the females had to be cared for until the young were born. It wasn’t impossible to use females of beast-type monsters, but the stress on the mothers’ bodies was great, and half of the young would be miscarried. And in some cases, the familiars and the mothers would try to kill each other rather than mate.
Thus, up until now, Pedro had periodically captured the females of monsters of around Rank 3 or so alive and had his Ogres impregnate them, overcoming these disadvantages with sheer numbers… and he had apparently even used female slaves.
The slaves used had not been illegal slaves that had been kidnapped and sold to him by bandits or those who fell into slavery through debt and would be freed upon repaying their debts; Pedro had used criminal slaves who would never be freed until they died, so there were no legal problems with this.
Criminal slaves were considered to be disposable - they were used for harsh mining labor until they died, used as live bait to draw out monsters that needed to be exterminated, and as meat shields during war.
Even if they were used for the reproduction of Ogres and Minotaurs, they were considered to be more fortunate than the ones working in mines, as they would be fed three meals a day until they gave birth.
However, there were relatively fewer female criminal slaves than male criminal slaves. This was only natural, as the majority of criminal slaves were bandits and pirates who had been captured alive.
In the past, Pedro had even borrowed Live-dead that had been created through experiments at the Mages’ Guild. However, there weren’t many people as eccentric as Luciliano even in the Mages’ Guild, so they did not create Live-dead very frequently.
And in the majority of cases, the female criminal slaves and Live-dead were unable to withstand multiple births; after a single birth, the female criminal slaves would often die, and Live-dead would return to being mere corpses.
As Pedro found himself unable to create as many young familiars as he wanted, Vandalieu had arrived with rare famliars - Ghouls and Juliana, who was apparently a mutated Minotaur - and thus, he had made the suggestion that Vandalieu lend him these familiars for reproduction.
Ghouls were known as corpse-eating demons; their bodies were more robust than those of humans and they were resistant to pain. Pedro had also thought that a mutated Minotaur would have good compatibility with his Ogres and Minotaurs.
However, Vandalieu had found Pedro’s suggestion less than satisfactory.
“I refused him very clearly, so I think he knows my position on this, and he quickly withdrew his proposal and told me to forget he ever mentioned it, so I think it should be alright,” said Vandalieu.
Unlike the inspection when he and his companions entered the capital, the suggestion had been one that he had been able to refuse, and Pedro had responded appropriately to his refusal, so he had not become overly angry.
“Vandalieu-sama, let’s castrate all of Pedro’s familiars, just in case!” said Juliana, sounding worried.
“Now, now, let’s calm down. If Pedro tries to make a move by force, there will be physical consequences for him personally,” said Vandalieu, remaining calm enough to ease her fears.
“In a few days’ time, the rumors of what Basdia and the others are doing in Morksi should reach this city. Once that happens, that Pedro geezer won’t even think of making the same suggestion twice, will he?” said Simon.
“The Ghouls and half-Minotaurs are being treated as idols, after all. Trying to use them for the reproduction of his familiars would damage his reputation beyond repair, I’m sure,” said Natania.
Indeed, Pedro would likely change his way of thinking with time. And even if he didn’t, he wouldn’t voice his thoughts aloud again.
“Why don’t we dance here in Alcrem as well? If Kachia and Darcia-san are up for it, I’ll help out. I’ve always been good at singing and dancing!” said Privel.
“Then I would like to join as well. To improve the visibility of the Empusa!” said Myuze.
“About that, unfortunately, we didn’t get a good answer from Vida’s Church,” said Darcia with a sigh.
Unlike Morksi with its Communal Church, every great god had their own dedicated Church in Alcrem with the exception of Zantark. Darcia had visited the Church of Vida and met with its leader, but… the head of the Church had considered her to be a difficult figure to associate with.
“The Church of Vida currently has good relations with Alda’s peaceful faction, so he kept telling me that we must be as amicable as possible, be amicable to begin with, be amicable for the time being… No matter what I said to him, that’s all he replied with, ‘be amicable.’ I lost count of how many times he said it,” said Darcia.
“Umm, in this case, what would that mean?” asked Myuze.
“In this case, I suspect that it would mean, ‘maintain the current status quo and do not do anything to attract attention,’” said Sam.
“Then I guess performing here is impossible… A date hasn’t been set yet for the meeting with the duke, has it? Are we just going to look for the fake Face-tearing Demon while we wait?” said Privel.
“I am thinking that I should meet with the person who gave me this letter yesterday,” said Vandalieu, holding the letter that had been given to him on his way back from the headquarters of the Tamers’ Guild by a large, mysterious man… Arthur.
Its contents were simple; it only contained a request for a chance to talk in a place with nobody else around, and was signed with the sender’s name, ‘Arthur.’
There was nothing about how Vandalieu could reply, so it was likely that Arthur intended to come and receive Vandalieu’s response directly… Vandalieu and his companions stood out, so they were not difficult to find.
“Master, that Arthur guy is really suspicious,” said Natania.
“… Isn’t that guy the fake Face-tearing Demon?” said Privel.
“The way he disappeared so quickly is suspicious,” said Kachia.
But it wasn’t that Vandalieu was under the impression that Arthur was a particularly good person, either.
“There were no spirits of murder victims around this Arthur person, and he has good muscles,” Vandalieu said. “However, it isn’t that I trust him, either. When I meet him, I’ll have Princess Levia and the others come with me, and I want everyone to be in my shadow as well. Gufadgarn will be behind me as well.”
He planned to meet Arthur seemingly alone, while actually having his entire allied fighting force present with him.
The letter only asked to ‘talk’ in a ‘place with nobody else around.’ It didn’t ask for Vandalieu to come alone, so he wasn’t exactly deceiving Arthur.
“I see. Then I guess there will be no problem,” said Darcia.
Following this discussion, Vandalieu left the rented building, deciding to visit the Adventurers’ Guild and Commerce Guild today. When he opened the door, an unfamiliar middle-aged woman dressed entirely in white was standing in front of it.
“… Is there something you need?” Vandalieu asked her.
“Yes, I was just paying you people a visit,” said the woman. “Are you Vandalieu Zakkart? The Dhampir who goes by the name of the fallen champion Zakkart?”
“Yes, I am that Vandalieu.”
“I see… You have gotten quite full of yourself, haven’t you, despite still being an inexperienced little boy? Saying that we here in Alcrem are old compared to Morksi, and that you up-and-comers are superior to us.”
“No, I have no recollection of ever saying anything like that.”
The woman, who had a good physique, stared blankly at Vandalieu with her eyes open in surprise.
“Yes, really,” said Vandalieu, as he really had no memory of saying those things.
The woman cast her gaze towards Darcia and the others behind Vandalieu as if seeking confirmation, but they all shook their heads to inform her that Vandalieu had indeed said no such thing.
“Umm, is that right? You’re different from what I’ve heard, but I guess they were just rumors, after all. I’m sorry for believing in them without thinking and causing a misunderstanding. But we’ve gone and told everyone around that we’re gonna break the spirits of the newcomers, so we’re gonna look really pathetic. I’m begging you; would you please duel us? I won’t ask you to put up a sign to announce it or anything,” the woman said, her attitude changing completely as she put her hands together in an earnest request for a duel.
“I don’t mind a duel, but when will it be?” asked Vandalieu.
“I was hoping we could do it today, but you probably have plans… Any day will do if it’s around noon or dinnertime.”
“Well then, I don’t have time at noon today, so how about around dinnertime today?”
“Really?! I’m glad we’ve come to an understanding so quickly. What about the tools and ingredients?”
“I’ve brought them with me, so I’ll be fine.”
“I should have expected that! I’m one of the Alcrem Food Cart Pentagram, the ‘Plentiful Sandwich’ Sandy! There’ll be a meeting beforehand, so come to the central plaza a little before dinnertime! We’ll get your space ready!”
With that, the middle-aged woman named Sandy skipped off down the street, telling passers-by that she would be having a showdown with the boy who was known as the ‘Food Cart King’ in Morksi.
“… Van, what is this ‘Food Cart Pentagram?’” asked Gizania.
“Apparently, it’s the five owners of Alcrem’s most popular food carts. Bachem told me that they do business in the central plaza, and their stores just happen to make a pentagram if you join lines between them, so the name stuck when they started calling themselves that,” said Vandalieu.
“… Now that you mention it, I do think he mentioned something like that,” said Darcia.
“Well then, change of plans. I’ll go to the Commerce Guild today, then have the duel with the Alcrem Food Cart Pentagram,” Vandalieu said.
“What will we do about the fake Face-tearing Demon?” asked Simon.
“While we’re setting up my food cart, I’ll try asking the spirits if there are any victims or witnesses in the capital,” said Vandalieu.
“What about replying to that Arthur guy?” asked Kachia.
“When I’ve got a food cart in the central plaza, I’m sure he’ll take notice and come to hear my response,” said Vandalieu.
“Well then, Vandalieu, while you’re at the Commerce Guild, me and the others will help you set up your store,” said Darcia.
“Thanks, Mom. Well then, let’s go,” said Vandalieu.
“I’m the one who was told to not do anything to draw attention, not you, and I haven’t been told not to work, so it’s fine for me to work as a food cart vendor!”
With a spring in her step, Darcia went back into the rented building to prepare the food cart that had been brought here in Sam’s carriage, and Vandalieu headed to the Commerce Guild.
Gizania and the others, coming back to their senses, split into two groups with one following Vandalieu and the other following Darcia.
Meanwhile, this whole exchange had been observed.
“As Ralmeya-sama planned, the Alcrem Food Cart Pentagram have made their move, and he seems to have accepted the challenge.”
“Alright, we’re splitting into three groups. You there, go and report to Ralmeya-sama, then meet with the central plaza team afterwards. Secure a location where you can observe his food cart. The other two teams will observe the boy and his mother.”
“Alright. Don’t mess up!”
The Ghost Chipuras, invisible and watching this conversation take place, had an odd expression on his face. “Ralmeya… If I recall, that is one of the Five Knights of Alcrem, but why is he doing something like this? I suppose it is impossible for a Vampire like me to understand the thoughts of humans,” he lamented to himself as he left to report to Vandalieu.
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