The Death Mage Who Doesn’t Want a Fourth Time - Chapter 198
Death Mage 198 – Winter is a season of meetings and farewells
The god of Earth was not an independent, individual god, but rather an aggregation of gods, demons, monsters, fairies, urban legends and the like from every nation.
These gods had branched off from the original concept of ‘gods,’ supported by the religious belief and fear held by humans.
As such, they could not reach a single unified opinion, and although they possessed power, they could not have direct influence on the world. This was because demons existing alongside the gods; they kept each other in check and this resulted in them ultimately being unable to do anything in many circumstances.
The only exception was the bestowal of a divine protection upon Vandalieu by approximately half of Earth’s gods as a result of Zuruwarn’s negotiations.
It was these gods of Earth that Zuruwarn wanted Vandalieu to meet.
“But why? It’s true that I’ve received their divine protection, but didn’t you say that about half of them don’t want to support me?” asked Vandalieu.
His actions and way of thought had changed drastically since he had lived on Earth. Thus, he thought that it couldn’t be helped if the gods of Earth didn’t want to accept him.
“Well, you’ll know when you see them,” said Zuruwarn as he led them to a strange place.
In this place, there were the divine beings of Earth that Vandalieu recognized, having debates and arguments amongst themselves.
Tens of thousands of gods, buddhas, demons and monsters. It was quite the spectacle… ah, there were also Kappas and Kuchisake-onnas.
TLN: Kappas are mythical water-dwelling creatures; Kuchisake-onna means ‘slit-mouth woman’ and apparently appear in Japanese ghost stories.
A few gods stopped their debate that had turned into an argument and greeted their new visitors.
“Ah, thank you for coming. I was just starting to get fed up with the opposing side of the debate,” said one.
“Damn, we couldn’t finish in time!” cursed another.
“Great timing! Thanks to you, the supporting side can quit while we’re ahead!” said a third.
The reactions of the gods to Vandalieu’s arrival were varied. Many of them appeared friendly towards him, and there were only a few that looked hostile.
Their conversation was regarding some gods who had not given Vandalieu their divine protection who wanted to give him their divine protection as well. When asked about what this was all about, they explained that Vandalieu had seemingly influenced the gods of Earth unconsciously.
They had become connected to him when the dark gods and the gods related to death and the afterlife had given Vandalieu their divine protection.
These dark gods were a part of the gods of Earth… approximately half. Thus, even those who had refused to give Vandalieu their divine protection at first had become indirectly connected to him.
Through the dark gods, they had been influenced and encroached upon.
“It is not that all of us gods have changed. Even now, I think your actions are difficult to accept,” said one of the gods.
“However, with Zuruwarn-dono’s persistent attempts to persuade us, even the stone-headed ones like this one have started to think that it doesn’t really matter, since you’re in another world,” said another, pointing at the first god.
“Apparently it’s because no matter what may happen in other worlds, it won’t affect the lost sheep on Earth,” said a third god.
“Thinking about it that way, it’s very pleasant to see your adventures in your foreign world through the connection that has formed through the divine protection. Perhaps it feels that way because we have only ever seen Earth,” said a goddess.
In other words, Vandalieu’s actions were a form of entertainment for the gods of Earth. Some of them had been born from the thoughts of humans who dreamed of worlds with swords and magic, so Vandalieu’s adventures in Lambda would have greatly stimulated their curiosity.
“That is how it is. Take our divine protection,” said a god with a pompous tone, offering Vandalieu a glowing orb.
“Thank you very much,” said Vandalieu, bowing his head as he accepted it. “By the way, could I ask you to tell me the recipe for Cola and some other pieces of knowledge about Earth?” he asked.
“… Why do you desire the recipe for a carbonated drink so?” one of the gods asked curiously. “Well, I suppose it is fine. Creating it in another world will not affect businesses on Earth, after all.”
“However, we cannot give you all of our knowledge regarding other things. Your soul has too strong a resistance to any external interference,” said another god. “I will teach you what I can, but consider it certain that you will forget more than nine tenths of it.”
“And we are only able to impart you with knowledge that applies on Earth. There is no guarantee that you will be able to do the same things in another world with different laws of physics. Be wary of that,” said a third.
And so, Vandalieu acquired the complete divine protection of the gods of Earth, the recipe for Cola and a small amount of Earth’s knowledge in other areas.
Immediately after receiving the divine protection and knowledge from the gods of Earth, Vandalieu was once again held in Zuruwarn’s mouth as they moved to another location.
“Is this Origin? It’s hard to tell them apart,” Vandalieu murmured as he looked at a planet that looked almost identical to Earth.
“Indeed. As Earth and Origin resemble one another, we can only tell them apart from here by looking for small differences in their geography,” said Zuruwarn.
Unlike Earth, magic existed in Origin, and there were some large historical differences such as that the Second World War had never happened. But from outer space, there were almost no visible differences.
“Warning Rikudou that things won’t end well for him in the next world if he does too many horrible things, or warning Amemiya that Rikudou is a traitor… would probably be a bad idea, wouldn’t it,” said Vandalieu.
“That’s a bit difficult, since Rodcorte would take notice,” said Zuruwarn. “Also, I don’t know if they’ll be in one piece after seeing you in your current form… Seriously, give up on going down there.”
In addition to his skyscraper-size, Vandalieu’s soul had countless fragments of the Demon King mixed inside it, making his current form even more indescribable than before.
It would become more difficult for Zuruwarn and Ricklent to make moves unnoticed if Rodcorte were to notice their actions here, but it was also desirable to not have Vandalieu cause a large number of Origin’s inhabitants to lose their sanity.
“In any case, even if you were to show yourself to them, it’s likely that you’ll be attacked like you were ten years ago. You look even more grotesque now than you did back then,” Ricklent pointed out, mentioning the end of Vandalieu’s second life.
Indeed, he had at least resembled a human, but the only thing about him resembling a human now was that he had limbs and walked on two feet.
It was far too much effort to risk being detected by Rodcorte to warn Rikudou and Amemiya.
“I suppose that’s true, too,” said Vandalieu.
“But to you, are these people worth giving warnings to?” Ricklent asked. “I thought you would take no notice of them.”
“No, I don’t actually care about Rikudou and Amemiya,” Vandalieu replied.
He really did not care about them. No matter how they lived their second lives in Origin, there was no changing the fact that they would go to Rodcorte, be requested to kill Vandalieu and then reincarnated in Lambda in the end.
There was no guarantee that they would accept that request. They could run away somewhere so that they would not get involved with Vandalieu, or they could even join him like Kanako had done. They might even choose a strange path like Asagi.
That would depend on their personalities and emotions, and these would not be changed by one or two brief conversations with them.
Vandalieu’s life in Origin had already come to an end – at the hands of Amemiya and the other reincarnated individuals, no less.
“But I’m just a little curious about the future of the child of Amemiya Narumi, the one that Pluto spared… the one that she saved,” said Vandalieu.
He was a little curious of the child who had been inside Narumi, the reason that Pluto had been unable to kill her.
Pluto had not known that she would have a second life, and she yet had given up on accomplishing the goals of her first in order to save that child.
Since she had gone through so much effort to save her, Vandalieu wanted her to at least be healthy as she grew up.
According to Kanako, the researchers who had used Vandalieu as an experimental animal had been gathered in the same facility that Kanako herself had died in. Thus, they should have all died at the same time as her and the rest of Murakami’s group.
Considering that, the only thing that interested Vandalieu in the world of Origin was Amemiya Narumi’s second child.
“But let’s leave that to her parents,” said Vandalieu. “Take me to the god of Origin, please.”
Just like when he had taken Vandalieu to the gods of Earth, Zuruwarn brought Vandalieu to a curious place.
The god of Origin was actually a group of countless gods, much like the gods of Earth, but there were far fewer of them. Perhaps due to the existence of magic, Origin’s humans thought of nature and spiritual mysteries differently from those of Earth.
If something mysterious were to happen on Earth, they would be attributed to the pranks of fairies, the doing of monsters or the curses of ghosts, and these fearful thoughts would give birth to new gods.
However, in Origin, they would be attributed to someone’s spell or some coincidental magical effect. If these things were attributed to magic, then perhaps gods would not be born.
“But it seems that those guys aren’t here,” Vandalieu observed.
Heroes and great figures who actually existed in the real world could also become gods. But fortunately, it seemed that the Bravers had not become gods.
Things would have been problematic if they had.
“Well, Amemiya Hiroto is actually still alive. But look, there’s a face that you know,” said Zuruwarn, pointing somewhere.
“Ah, I am finally able to meet you,” said a familiar voice, and Vandalieu realized that it belonged to someone he had recently begun to see quite often.
A girl with black hair, black eyes and sickly-white skin.
“Pluto?” Vandalieu murmured.
Among the gods was Pluto, who had the form from her previous life that Lambda’s Pluto had recently become able to take.
“Yes, I am Pluto,” she said, giving Vandalieu a polite bow. “However, I am not the real Pluto. I am a god among the gods of Origin, born from the belief and prayers of the people of Origin.”
The Eighth Guidance had conducted philanthropic work in order to gather power, gain supporters and to fight back against the Bravers. Jack had brought gravely ill people who would not be able to escape death to Pluto, and she would absorb the death from them and cure them.
For the Eighth Guidance, these were not entirely virtuous acts, as they possessed an ulterior motive for doing this, but for those who were saved and their families, she was unmistakably a goddess who had saved them.
As these miracles had been performed by an ageless, mysterious, beautiful girl with death-attribute magic that was thought to have been lost, she had gained more worshippers than the Eighth Guidance had anticipated.
And even after their deaths, Pluto’s worshippers had remained and even increased in number, as she had become more famous after her death.
“That worship is what created me as one of the gods of Origin. Thus, I am not Pluto herself, but the Pluto inside the imaginations of the people of Origin,” Pluto explained.
“I see. That’s why you’re a little different,” said Vandalieu, realizing that the behavior of the Pluto before him was different from the real one.
It seemed that these differences were a result of this Pluto being created from the imaginations of worshippers who did not know her.
“Through the connection to Legion formed by granting them our divine protection, we have summoned Zuruwarn-dono and Ricklent-dono here, as they have also granted them their divine protections, and we have summoned you as well. We have done this because we have decided that if the ‘Avalon’ Rikudou Hijiri drastically affects this world in the future, we will make use of Amemiya Hiroto in order to deal with him,” said Pluto.
Rikudou Hijiri was secretly conducting research in order to acquire the death attribute, and it was likely that he would take radical actions in the future. If these actions would cause casualties merely in the scale of thousands or tens of thousands, the gods of Origin would not have taken any action, no matter how much resentment they felt towards Rodcorte, even with Pluto being among them.
Origin was a world similar to Earth; it had experienced numerous disasters, conflicts and wars. There had been plenty of events in which thousands or tens of thousands lost their lives.
During these tragic events, not a single god had appeared shining in the sky to save the people.
For the gods of Origin, who were an assembly of a great variety of gods, the conflicts of humans were the conflicts of their own worshippers, and they were unable to act due to the differences in opinions between the gods.
But the ‘Avalon’ Rikudou Hijiri was an exception to this.
“The damage that will arise from what he is trying to accomplish may result in the destruction of this world,” said Pluto. “Though that is only if his research is correct,” she added.
“Is Rikudou Hijiri’s research really that dangerous?” Vandalieu asked.
“Yes. I do not know if he can really make this happen, and he may destroy himself during his research as a result of not being able to fully control the death attribute, but… even in this scenario, approximately a third of Origin’s population would be lost.”
It seemed that Rikudou Hijiri’s research was considerably dangerous. Perhaps Pluto had not told Zuruwarn and Ricklent this much before; they gasped audibly.
“If it is that dangerous, then Rodcorte should be stopping it as well… Since he rules over this world’s circle of transmigration, the people should be a source of power for him,” Ricklent murmured. “But he has shown no signs of doing that, has he?” he asked Zuruwarn.
Zuruwarn shook his four heads. “None. I don’t know whether it’s because he hasn’t realized how grave the situation is, or whether he’s optimistically hoping that Amemiya Hiroto will stop him, or whether he intends to intervene at the last second, but considering that he hasn’t done anything up until now –”
“In any case, we cannot trust Rodcorte any longer. We have all come to agree on that. Thus, we intend to make use of Amemiya Hiroto and the other Bravers by supporting them in order to stop Rikudou Hijiri,” said Pluto.
It seemed that she and the rest of the gods of Origin had no intention of giving Rodcorte a say in the matter. They would support Amemiya Hiroto and the other Bravers without Rodcorte’s permission, so that Rikudou Hijiri would fall before he caused too much damage.
But Pluto, whose eyes had been filled with a quiet determination up until this point, suddenly frowned. “Personally, the thought of granting them our divine protection and causing miracles to happen in order to support them is unpleasant to me, even if this support is temporary, but… we do not have equivalents to clones or heroic spirits that can act on the world’s surface on our behalf, so we must use them to make our will become reality. Please forgive us,” she said.
“I don’t really care about that… It’s only natural for gods to protect their world, after all,” said Vandalieu.
“No, that is… We intend to remove our divine protections once we have finished using them, but if reincarnated individuals with our divine protection are killed in the process of stopping Rikudou Hijiri, it is possible that they will still be carrying them when they go to Rodcorte’s Divine Realm, and we will not be able to remove them,” Pluto explained. “I thought it would be best to inform you of this.”
In other words, it was possible that reincarnated individuals who accepted Rodcorte’s request or thought similarly to Asagi would possess the divine protection of the gods of Origin.
“I see. If that happens and I devour their souls, it would cause damage to you,” said Vandalieu.
If he were to devour the souls of such reincarnated individuals, the divine protection bestowed on them by the gods of Origin – a portion of their power – would be devoured as well. This would cause them considerable damage.
Pluto seemed to want to avoid that.
“We have discussed this with Ricklent-dono and came to this idea. We are sorry to ask this of you, but we would like you, the ‘Undead’… Vandalieu, to accept our divine protection. Through this connection, we will recover our divine protections when you devour the reincarnated individuals’ souls,” said Pluto. “Will you accept our divine protection?”
“Before I answer, I’d just like to be sure, what should I do if reincarnated individuals with your divine protection disappear without trying to kill me, or if they join me?” Vandalieu asked.
“Then you may leave them be. There is no need for you to go to the trouble of recovering all of our divine protections,” Pluto replied.
Vandalieu felt a great sense of relief upon hearing that he would not have to devour the souls of those who were not his enemies.
“Then I will gratefully accept,” he said.
“Thank you very much for allowing this, the great Undead, Vandalieu-sama,” said Pluto.
“Well then, this might not seem very grateful since it looks like we’re just going with the flow, but I suppose we should have you accept our divine protections as well,” said Ricklent.
“There’s no point in hiding things from Alda now, too,” said Zuruwarn.
And so, Vandalieu received the divine protection of the gods of Origin from another Pluto, as well as the divine protections of Ricklent and Zuruwarn.
《Earth’s Dark Gods’ Divine Protection has transformed into Earth’s Gods’ Divine Protection!》
《You have acquired Origin’s Gods’ Divine Protection, Ricklent’s Divine Protection and Zuruwarn’s Divine Protection!》
Vandalieu was still in a dream.
“You’ll wake up from this dream soon, and Gufadgarn is moving your body to stay in line, so don’t worry about anything. Just wait for a while,” said Zuruwarn.
“If fate would have it, you might meet someone. As for what to do with that person, that is up to your discretion,” said Ricklent.
With that, they left. It seemed that they had picked Vandalieu up, but would not take him back.
But from Ricklent’s words, it seemed that they were not simply unwilling to take him back. But just who would Vandalieu meet?
“I mostly only meet people I know in my dreams… Was there anyone from Origin or Earth that I know?” Vandalieu wondered, walking forward at a leisurely pace.
Maybe I’ll wake up from this dream without meeting anyone after all, he thought.
But just as this thought occurred to him, he saw a small object.
Something pitch-black, about the size of a cat or a medium-sized dog, turned to stare blankly at Vandalieu, who returned a perplexed gaze.
Most of those he met in his dreams had mostly the same appearance as they did in reality. But he had never seen anyone in the real world with the appearance of ‘a black something.’
Vandalieu and this black thing exchanged perplexed stares for a while. However, it was the black thing that recovered from its confusion first.
It let out a high-pitched noise, stood up and waddled unsteadily towards Vandalieu.
The black thing then grasped at the horns and tumors growing all over Vandalieu’s body, trying to climb onto him. Vandalieu then realized what it was.
“Ah, a baby. You don’t have much self-perception, so that’s why you have that form,” said Vandalieu, but knowing what it was didn’t help him know what to do with it. “I don’t suppose your parents would appear in a dream,” he said, looking around, but there was no sign of the black thing’s… the baby’s, guardians.
He couldn’t just roughly shake it off himself, so Vandalieu decided to rock it gently as he moved forward… Incidentally, he had no idea which way he was supposed to go, or whether it was necessary to go anywhere at all.
This was a result of his thoughts having become hazy because he was dreaming.
“Eyes? Eyes?” the baby said curiously.
“Yes, those are my eyes, so please don’t poke your fingers in them,” said Vandalieu.
“Those are antennae. Please don’t pull on them too much. Maybe because this is a dream, but you’re much stronger than you are in the real world.”
The black baby seemed to be enjoying itself as it poked its fingers into the eyes in various places on Vandalieu’s body and pulling on his antennae. It was quite the aggressive baby.
“But it seems you can speak a little, so I suppose you’re about one or two years old. Can you say your name?” Vandalieu asked.
Vandalieu suspected it was a boy, since it was mischievous and showed no signs of being timid, so he decided to add -kun to his name.
“I’m Vandalieu,” he said.
“Yes, yes, Bandalieu,” said Vandalieu, ignoring the fact that a part of his face was missing as he matched Meh-kun’s imprecise pronunciation.
He was trying to think about who this child was, but… he was still dreaming, so he couldn’t gather his thoughts together.
I’ll think about it when I wake up, he thought, giving up on it for now as he continued on, rocking the Meh-kun who was still using his body as a playground.
After a while, he encountered a Noppera-bou that was whispering to itself.
TLN: A Noppera-bou, or faceless ghost, is a Japanese youkai (legendary creature).
“Ah, a Noppera-bou-san who is one of the gods of Earth,” said Vandalieu, calling out to the genderless silhouette that was wearing white tights that covered its whole body. “… Or not,” he murmured as the silhouette gave no response, continuing to whisper to itself.
Despite not being a baby that didn’t have much self-perception, it was wandering around in a mental state resulting in it even having a body that was genderless in addition to its face; it was in quite the serious state.
“White,” said Meh-kun.
“Yes. Would I be able to use my Mental Encroachment Skill even if I’m dreaming?” Vandalieu wondered.
Thinking that it was some kind of fate that this was a dream, Vandalieu extended his arms towards the white silhouette and wrapped it in his palms as gently as he could.
He then produced a countless number of eyes and mouths on the surface of his palms, which asked him this.
“Who are you?”
The silhouette gave an indiscernible whisper in response.
“Who are you?” the mouths on Vandalieu’s palms questioned once more.
They repeatedly asked, “Who are you?” “What is your name?” “What are you?”
As these questions continued, the white silhouette’s unclear whispers began to change.
“… Who… Who… am I?” it whispered through a mouth that had appeared on a face that had been completely void of features before, finally speaking words that could be understood.
Its appearance began to change as well.
However, it did not settle on a fixed form; the outline of its body changed from male to female and back to male, over and over.
Meh-kun watched the silhouette curiously, then looked up at Vandalieu as if to say, “It’s not fixed yet, you know?”
“I can’t fix you after just one try after all,” Vandalieu told the silhouette. “If I go too far, your mind might collapse, and there’s no guarantee that we’ll be able to meet again… I suppose I’ll give this to you as a replacement for medicine.”
He tore off two eyes and a mouth from one of his palms and attached them to the white silhouette.
With this, the eyes and mouth would continue to question the white silhouette.
“I… I am…” the silhouette whispered.
Vandalieu released the silhouette. With unsteady footsteps, the silhouette began walking away.
“White?” said Meh-kun.
“It seems that this is where we part ways with that person,” said Vandalieu.
Perhaps because this was a dream, he didn’t feel a desire to follow the silhouette. With Meh-kun still riding on his shoulder, he continued walking.
Vandalieu didn’t know why, but along the way, he was surrounded by crowds of people who offered him mysterious prayers. He also encountered people who seemed to be suffering, though not as badly as the white silhouette; he helped them with the Mental Encroachment Skill.
“… I thought I might not meet anyone at first, but I seem to be meeting a surprising number of people,” Vandalieu remarked.
As he continued, he came to a boundary line, and the ground beyond it was of a different color to the ground that he had been walking on up until now.
“It seems that I have to say goodbye to you here, Meh-kun,” said Vandalieu, intuitively sensing that this was the end of the dream.
“No!” said Meh-kun, clinging onto Vandalieu’s body.
“I’m happy you feel that way, but all dreams come to an end… Alright, I’ll give something to you too, Meh-kun,” said Vandalieu.
He started to tear off eyes and antennae like the ones that Meh-kun was holding, as he seemed to have taken a liking to them.
But Meh-kun made a dissatisfied noise and started smacking his hands against Vandalieu unhappily.
Vandalieu began tearing off other parts of himself. Once there was a small mountain of his own body parts assembled, he began shaping them into the shape of a person. The final result was another Vandalieu, larger than Meh-kun but still far smaller than the real Vandalieu.
“Banda!” said Meh-kun, happily running towards the newly-created Vandalieu.
“Now then, take good care of Meh-kun, me,” said the larger Vandalieu.
“I don’t think I can do anything amazing, but I’ll do my best, me,” said the smaller Vandalieu.
“I’ll attach a treasure orb onto you too,” said the larger Vandalieu, offering his smaller self a treasure orb.
“Having that will make things somewhat better. That’s very helpful,” said the smaller Vandalieu.
And with that, the smaller Vandalieu took the treasure orb and turned around to walk in the opposite direction with Meh-kun in his arms.
After seeing them off, Vandalieu woke up.
《The Level of the Dark Demon Creation Path Enticement Skill has increased!》
“Vandalieu, are you awake?” a voice asked.
Gaining consciousness, Vandalieu found himself still standing in line. He would reach the city’s gate soon, but judging from the position of the sun in the sky, it seemed that less than an hour had passed since Zuruwarn had carried his soul away.
“Yes, good morning, Gufadgarn. Thank you for moving my body for me,” said Vandalieu, thanking the invisible Gufadgarn.
It seemed that Gufadgarn had opened gaps in space to extend fingers or other body parts underneath Vandalieu’s clothes to manipulate him like a puppet.
“I am unworthy of your praise,” said Gufadgarn in a flat-toned but somewhat happy-sounding voice.
Vandalieu felt the long, thin objects touching his skin withdraw.
At the same time, one of the gate guards approached with a suspicious look on his face.
“What, are you alone? I was sure you were an apprentice of one of the merchants in front or behind you,” the guard said.
What the guard saw was a ten-year-old boy wearing a robe with a hood drawn over his face. This boy was carrying no belongings but a single bag; he certainly did not look like he was capable of traveling safely. This was indeed suspicious.
“Yes. The caravan I was an apprentice for was attacked by bandits… I was lucky enough to escape, but I couldn’t go back to my parents who live in poverty, so I journeyed here,” said Vandalieu, reciting a fake past that he had decided on with the help of Miles and Eleanora.
The expression in the guard’s eyes turned into sympathy.
“I see… So, what do you intend to do after coming to this city?” he asked.
“I want to go to the Commerce Guild and look for work there. Fortunately, I have a little money that the bandits missed,” said Vandalieu.
“Alright. I think you will face some difficult times ahead, but it’s fortunate that you survived. Do your best to stay out of trouble with us. Children under the age of fifteen are exempt from the toll, so you’re free to pass. Welcome to Morksi –”
“Hey, wait,” interrupted another, older guard. “You’re going to let him pass without even checking his face? Don’t slack off just because he’s a kid.” He turned to Vandalieu. “Hurry up and take off your hood.”
The older guard’s face was not that of a diligent man who was dedicated to his job… There was an unpleasant smile on it.
However, what he said was correct, so Vandalieu lowered his hood and showed the guards his face. He was already wearing a cloth over one eye to conceal the fact that he was a Dhampir.
“Oh, so you’ve only got one eye. I’m surprised you made it this far in one piece,” the guard sneered. “By the way… for the sake of the city’s public order, there’s a rule in place forbidding us from letting suspicious people in. Those suspicious people include parentless, jobless brats. Even brats resort to theft and pilfering to survive, you see.”
“Aggar-senpai, you’re taking it too far –” the younger guard began.
“Shut it, Kest. You’re new on the job, and you want to complain about me?” said the older guard named Aggar, glaring at the younger guard.
The young guard named Kest gave a small squeak and stepped back.
It seemed that Kest was new to his job, and was in a far lower position than his senpai Aggar.
Aggar turned back to Vandalieu. “But it’s a different story if you have enough money to live properly for a while. The kind of money to, say, pay a larger toll than adults,” he said, holding a palm out towards Vandalieu.
It seemed that he had heard Vandalieu say that he had money that the bandits had missed, and he was now here to collect a bribe from a helpless child who had not yet registered with a Guild.
I thought of this lie so that people wouldn’t become suspicious as to why I have the funds to start a stall, but it’s backfiring on me now, Vandalieu thought.
He had plenty of funds. He had money in the Baum currency that the people of the Sauron Duchy exchanged for Lunas when they immigrated to Talosheim, as well as the money that he had taken from the ‘Hyena’ Gozoroff’s base.
Handing some over as a bribe wouldn’t be a problem at all. However, it would be troublesome to keep becoming a target who was known to have money.
If I remember correctly, an adult’s toll around here is five Baums, Vandalieu recalled as he placed double that amount – ten Baums – into Aggar’s hand.
“… Very good. Welcome to our city, Morksi,” said Aggar, stepping out of Vandalieu’s way with a broad grin.
“If you’re looking for an inn, you can stay at Starling Inn for cheap. As for food, you should be able to fill yourself up at Swallow’s Nest,” Kest whispered as Vandalieu walked past him to go through the gate.
Vandalieu whispered his thanks in return, then entered the city of Morksi.
He had run into some bad luck early on, but it was a good, lively city. Just as the preliminary investigation had suggested.
Vandalieu had actually entered the city several days ago without passing through the gate, because the headquarters of the ‘Hyena’ Gozoroff’s criminal organization was located here.
The headquarters had already been completely taken over by Miles and Isla, and Vandalieu had turned all of the criminal organization’s main members into Undead after extracting information from them. Unlike Gozoroff, it was possible that he would use them for a while, so he could not simply end them.
This had been worth doing; Vandalieu now had Morksi’s underworld essentially in his grasp… though his grasp hadn’t reached the kind of low-life underlings who would take bribes.
I have a grasp on the people higher-up, and don’t have a good understanding of the members and non-members below them, Vandalieu thought.
“… Vandalieu, how do you wish to dispose of that human?” Gufadgarn asked through a gap in space.
Vandalieu’s mind went blank for a moment. “Do you mean that guard named Aggar? I’m not going to do anything,” he said.
“… Are you sure? If you give me the order, I can conceal his death for an eternity in a labyrinth. Of course, there will be no evidence left behind,” Gufadgarn said.
“No, I’m not going to do anything,” Vandalieu repeated.
“Then should I kill him?” asked Orbia, who was hovering behind him.
“My growing children are hungry for meatballs,” said Quinn, poking her face out from inside Vandalieu, underneath the hood that was covering his face again.
“Nutrients… My fruit will become tasty,” said Eisen, poking out under Vandalieu’s hood as well.
Kühl poked out to express its hunger as well.
“I just said, I’m not going to do anything. If I dispose of every insignificant villain, there’s going to be a mountain of missing people in no time,” Vandalieu told them.
The only damage that had been suffered was ten Baums, after all.
“… Is that right? Just say when,” said Eisen, perhaps convinced by Vandalieu’s words or perhaps simply seeing if he would change his mind.
Everyone withdrew inside Vandalieu again.
“… It would be good to not be taken notice of by unwanted vultures, though,” said Vandalieu.
If he wasn’t careful, he would become the person at the center of a series of missing people in the city of Morksi.
For now, Vandalieu started heading towards Starling Inn, the inn that Kest had told him about.