The Death Mage Who Doesn't Want a Fourth Time - Chapter 258
Chapter 258 – The hard-fighting Pentagram
Death Mage 258 – The hard-fighting Pentagram
The battle was extremely fierce.
The ‘Red-hot Rice’ Paparus, whose main money-earning time was dinnertime, made fried rice. He mixed meat and vegetables with rice and fried this mixture over oil taken from monsters such as Orcs, producing an aroma that stimulated the hunger of physical laborers who had just finished a day’s work.
And as Alcrem was a northern region where snow wasn’t an uncommon sight, so demand was high for the soup made by the ‘Soup on a Whim’ Sing. He sold two kinds of soup – one was a strongly-favored soup filled with large chunks of meat and vegetables, for customers who were looking to grab their dinner at a food cart. The other was simple soup that he produced by making soup stock from fish and seasoning it with salt, for drunk customers who were heading home after a night out. These two soups did a fine job of attracting customers.
The ‘Chaos Rice Ball’ Michem’s food cart was selling rice balls at a steady pace.
Her rice balls were filled with all kinds of ingredients, but the plant leaves she used in place of wrapping paper meant that they could not be seen from the outside. They were all the same price, and the customers were buying them as if gambling, as they didn’t know what fillings they would get.
However, it wasn’t entirely gambling. There wasn’t any bad outcome, as all of them contained ingredients worth their price. It was said that around dinnertime, she used core ingredients that were more filling compared to the rice balls that she made around lunchtime.
… In the Orbaume Kingdom, it seemed that rice balls and their creators were not persecuted because they also existed in other worlds. Nobody knew how they were treated in the Amid Empire, however.
Although the ‘Sweet, Sweet Sweets’ Tom had said that foot traffic to his food cart decreased around dinner time, it hadn’t decreased enough for him to be able to relax.
Sugar beet was harvested and refined into sugar in the northern part of the Alcrem Duchy. Tom used this sugar to make caramel, and also to make jam along with fruits taken from Devils’ Nests, which he used inside or on top of his cakes.
He didn’t use cream or butter, but as his desserts were delicious, it seemed that there were customers who bought them as a luxurious after-dinner dessert.
The ‘Plentiful Sandwich’ Sandy’s sandwiches were indeed selling with less vigor compared to lunchtime, but she was no easy opponent to defeat by any means.
With Vandalieu restricted by unspoken rules and a sense of how far to go, her food cart was in a close contest with his.
“Give me a meat skewer and a vegetable one! Make sure to put plenty of cheese on them!”
“One cheese skewer, please!”
The products prepared by Vandalieu and his companions were cheese-fondue type skewers – meat and vegetable skewers with plenty of melted cheese poured over the top.
“How is the temperature of my heat, your Majesty?” said Princess Levia.
“Don’t forget that I’m manipulating the cheese,” said Orbia.
The cheese that had been purchased by Simon and Kachia was being continuously melted at a steady temperature by Princess Levia’s precise control over her fire, and Orbia was able to manipulate the melted cheese and stir it to prevent it from burning.
“It’s perfect. Please keep it up,” said Vandalieu.
“Yes, Your Majesty,” Princess Levia said happily.
“Leave it to me!” said Orbia.
The meat skewers covered in masses of cheese were a little expensive, but it was possible to order the skewers without the cheese for a cheaper price.
Among the cheese purchased by Simon and Kachia were several kinds that did not melt very well when heated, so Vandalieu had tried Kachia’s idea and made cheese skewers using these.
They were grilled until they had just a slightly charred texture, and the customers loved them.
“But to grill the cheese itself… This would never have occurred to me,” said Myuze.
“According to Kanako-san and the others, there are some dishes in other worlds where butter and cheese are deep-fried in oil,” said Princess Levia.
“… What an unimaginable food culture,” said Myuze, staring into space as she tried to picture it.
Princess Levia’s voice couldn’t be heard by the people nearby, but Myuze’s could; it seemed that she was being careful not to mention ‘other worlds.’
“No, I don’t think people eat those kinds of dishes regularly. Probably not, anyway… Hmm?” said Vandalieu, stopping mid-sentence and blinking in surprise.
The words ‘Demon Eyes of Appraisal: Level 10’ had suddenly appeared in his field of vision.
He was bewildered for a moment, but quickly realized that this was not because his eyes were tired or because he was hallucinating. The ‘Abyss’ Skill was reflecting someone’s Skill… the ‘Demon Eyes of Appraisal.’
That knight named Ralmeya is more troublesome than we anticipated, he thought, immediately realizing who the ‘Demon Eyes of Appraisal’ belonged to.
A completely ordinary-looking man, the type that could be found anywhere, was looking this way, unaware that he was being watched by the invisible Chipuras.
This man was likely the ‘Knight of Keen Insight’ Ralmeya, one of the Five Knights of Alcrem.
I can’t see his name displayed, but his age, gender, height, and weight are all there. There’s also ‘Silent Steps’ and ‘Strengthened Attribute Values: Duty’… Only certain types of Skills are displayed. I can’t see his entire Status? And the Attribute Values are constantly changing, except Intelligence. Maybe there are conditions for accurate values to be displayed, and Intelligence is the only one that meets those conditions? It seems different from the ‘Demon Eyes of Analysis.’
Vandalieu didn’t know much about the ‘Demon Eyes of Appraisal,’ but he was bewildered by the fact that they were different from the ‘Demon Eyes of Analysis,’ which he had heard of before. However, he was aware who was using the Skill.
In any case, there’s no mistake that it’s him.
One of the Five Knights of Alcrem – who were, despite being considerably inferior to the Fifteen Evil-breaking Swords of the Amid Empire, the Alcrem Duchy’s trump card. Vandalieu had wondered why such a person would secretly organize a showdown involving renowned food carts in his city, but now, he had a pretty good idea.
It likely had something to do with the conditions required by the ‘Demon Eyes of Appraisal.’ It seemed that they were much less convenient than the ‘Demon Eyes of Analysis,’ which displayed the target’s Status with a single glance.
Now then, what shall I do? Vandalieu wondered.
From an information concealment standpoint, Ralmeya needed to be disposed of quickly. It seemed that Titles, Jobs and Job Histories weren’t displayed, but even so, it wouldn’t be good for information on Vandalieu’s Status to spread.
However, Vandalieu was hesitant to kill Ralmeya right this moment.
“Boss, shall I kill him and make it look like a heart attack?” suggested Kimberley. “That bastard is wide open.
“No, let’s hold off on that for now,” Vandalieu told him telepathically.
Given the Attribute Values and Skills that Vandalieu could see from his ‘Abyss’ reflecting the effects of the ‘Demon Eyes of Appraisal,” the task of killing Ralmeya would not be difficult.
However, this was a central plaza that was full of people even at night. It might be difficult to keep the killing concealed to prevent a commotion.
And although Vandalieu couldn’t see an exact number, Ralmeya seemed to have quite a high Vitality value, so it might not be possible to kill him with a single attack.
And he is a close subordinate of the person that I am going to meet soon. Even if the duke is the one who sent him in the first place, killing him here would probably be equivalent to declaring my hostility. It might be somewhat better in the long-term to have the duke have some idea of my power through the information about my Attribute Values and Skills.
It was possible that the duke and his subordinates would make more reasonable decisions by having some knowledge regarding Vandalieu rather than working with inaccurate information.
They would certainly be more cautious if they understood that they would not come away unscathed in the event that they angered Vandalieu.
… Vandalieu was still a little uncomfortable, however, as he had no way of knowing the accuracy with which Ralmeya was seeing this information.
Suddenly there was an angry shout.
“You bitch! Getting all carried away just because some people acted nice to you! I’ll teach you how you should behave towards us humans!”
Vandalieu looked towards the noise to see a drunkard, who seemed to be a mercenary or adventurer. He had been rejected by Kachia and had now drawn his sword.
Kachia, Darcia and Natania had transformed with their transformation equipment and were working as sales assistants and waitresses. The man looked like he had made some kind of mistake, called out to Kachia, and was now enraged after having been rejected and embarrassed.
Nearby customers screamed. Nearby city guards and Simon rushed towards the scene to apprehend the man.
But Kachia was quicker.
“I know how to treat humans without you telling me, thank you very much!” she said.
She lifted the wooden rod that was hanging at her waist for self-defense, took a powerful step forward and thrust it into the man’s leather-armor-covered stomach.
The man groaned as the force of the blow went through his armor and into his internal organs.
Kachia grabbed his arm, forcibly threw him off his feet and pinned him on the ground. “This is plenty of hospitality for drunkards like you!”
Customers and passers-by applauded and praised Kachia for her skillful handling of a dangerous drunkard.
“Fine work,” a city guard said to Kachia as he and his colleagues took the man and began dragging him off to their office.
Simon gave a dry laugh, seeing that Kachia was far more capable than him. “There isn’t any point in me being a bodyguard, is there?”
“Simon, there are plenty of people who take appearance into account, so you’re a fine bodyguard,” said Vandalieu. “Still, Kachia has become so capable…”
Even taking into account the fact that the man was in a drunken stupor, he was probably about as strong as Kachia had been when she first transformed from a human to a Ghoul. Her progress since back then was stunningly visible in how she had dealt with such an opponent without suffering any major injuries.
Vandalieu was moved to see that she had made all of this progress with just a little help from him when she was struggling to learn magic eight years ago.
… She hadn’t used any magic at all, but in this case, that didn’t really matter.
“Boss, that guy is looking at Kachia as well,” said Kimberley.
Coming back to reality, Vandalieu looked towards Ralmeya to see that he was indeed watching Kachia. And it seemed that he was surprised.
“He is probably looking at Kachia’s Status and surprised by her Attribute Values and ‘Swordsmanship’ Skill,” Vandalieu replied telepathically.
And then he realized what Ralmeya looking at Kachia meant.
It meant that he was seeing not only Kachia’s Attribute Values and some of her Skills, but also her the numbers of her age, height, weight and her various body measurements.
No, it wasn’t just Kachia; Darcia, Privel and the rest of the women were also being watched.
From Ralmeya’s perspective, all of Vandalieu’s companions – people like Kachia and Simon, as well as Fang and the other familiars – needed to be investigated. Ralmeya was likely doing this because it was his job, not with some ulterior motives.
Vandalieu didn’t care about himself or Simon, and those Ralmeya couldn’t see, like the Ghosts and Gufadgarn, were likely not targeted by the Demon Eyes. But he didn’t like the idea of Ralmeya seeing this information regarding the women, and Kachia and the others would certainly find it unpleasant if they were aware of it.
All of them were attractive; Vandalieu didn’t think anything of people’s gazes being drawn to them, as that was only natural. But Ralmeya could see their body measurements and weights. This fell outside the spectrum of what was ‘only natural.’
“Shall I dispose of him?” asked Gufadgarn.
“No, I will not go that far. But let’s give him a little punishment when there’s an opportunity,” said Vandalieu. “It’s his own fault for learning Mom’s weight that she’s so self-conscious about, and the size of Gizania’s neck…”
Darcia was insecure about the fact that she weighed more than she looked due to her Orichalcum skeleton, and Gizania was self-conscious about her neck muscles, which had thickened ever since her Rank increased and she became an Ushioni with horns.
Even if it was Ralmeya’s mission to disclose that information, that couldn’t be allowed. Vandalieu directed his gaze at Ralmeya and once again saw a part of his Status.
‘Mental Corruption?’ That wasn’t there a moment ago… And this feeling… He’s being guided?
Without even realizing it, Ralmeya was being guided by Vandalieu.
“Is there something wrong with my neck?” asked Gizania, who had been performing a dance alongside Privel and Juliana, apparently having heard Vandalieu muttering under his breath.
But before Vandalieu could reply, another customer came to the food cart.
“Four meat skewers and four vegetable skewers. With cheese,” said a large, stern-looking man.
His eyes looked scary, and his face was scrunched up into a complicated expression, a deep wrinkle visible between his brows. But his most prominent features were his thick neck, large shoulders, and the bulging muscles of his arms.
It was Arthur, the man who had thrown a letter at Vandalieu in a back alley.
“Thank you for your patronage,” said Vandalieu, handing him the skewers along with a letter that he had prepared in order to inform Arthur that he and his companions were welcome to make contact with him.
By the time this exchange was over, Ralmeya was fleeing from the plaza. He was running as fast as he could, as if something were chasing him, so people were staring at him in confusion.
Arthur also vanished swiftly after taking the skewers. He moved like a leopard, and if it weren’t for Daroak following him, Vandalieu might have lost track of him as well.
Vandalieu and his companions ended up first in tonight’s duel by a narrow margin.
The taste of their cooking was one factor, but many of the customers had come out of curiosity towards the Dhampir, Arachne, Scylla, Juliana and the others of races they had never seen before and then bought skewers while they were there; others had come to see the transformed Darcia, Kachia and Natania; others still had come to see the rat sisters’ performances and been drawn to how unusual they were.
“I do think it was a little unfair to have the Scylla and Arachne lady singing and the others transforming, but… we’re the ones who challenged you to a duel knowing that they’d be a factor, so we have no choice but to accept your victory,” said Michem, who had come second in total sales and customer count.
“We might have had the chance to win if that drunkard hadn’t caused that trouble, but… turning coincidences into business is an essential skill for a merchant, too,” said Paparus, who had come third.
“No, the products were quite impressive as well. The charred texture on the cheese skewers was particularly irresistible,” said Tom, who had apparently secretly purchased skewers from Vandalieu’s food cart at some point during the duel.
It was likely that he had requested someone to buy them for him.
“Old man Tom, don’t contribute to the sales of the person we’re competing against…” Sing complained.
“Didn’t have a choice, did I? Who knows when I’ll have another chance to eat them,” said Tom.
“I have some skewer sticks left. Would you like some skewers?” asked Vandalieu.
“Really?! Yes please!” Sing said happily. “I suppose I should try making a soup with cheese sometime.”
“So you wanted to try them too after all, Sing! Well, I was interested in them as well,” said Sandy.
In the end, Sing and Sandy stayed behind to buy some skewers. Vandalieu purchased all of their food carts’ remaining products as well.
“You’re really going to take that much with you, huh. Well, it’s money for us, so we aren’t complaining,” said Sandy, looking at Vandalieu with an amazed expression.
“We eat more than we look like we can,” said Gizania, patting her stomach.
Fang and Maroru began making hungry noises as well.
“I see,” said Sandy.
Gizania and the others did indeed eat a lot, but the truth was that it was for Braga and the others who had stayed behind in the building Vandalieu had rented.
“Well then, please use these for the next week,” said Vandalieu, handing out the heart-mark-bearing cloths as proof of his victory.
The Alcrem Food Cart Pentagram had promised to display Vida’s holy symbol at their businesses for the next week.
“I think we will leave Alcrem before a week passes, so you don’t have to return them. You can use them as cloths for wiping things,” said Vandalieu.
“No, we intend to have them displayed at our food carts while your fame is spreading. It will be proof that we competed fiercely against the one who is the ‘Food Cart King’ of Morksi and the ‘Patron Saint of Transformation Equipment,’” said Tom.
“We’ll be removing them if your fame turns into infamy, so don’t worry about it. Well then, let’s all give our businesses everything we’ve got!” said Sandy.
With that, Vandalieu shook the hands of the Alcrem Food Cart Pentagram, putting a peaceful end to their duel.
Meanwhile, Duke Alcrem and his subordinates were in anything but a peaceful state of mind after seeing Ralmeya return.
“Ralmeya, what is wrong with your appearance?!” exclaimed Tackard Alcrem upon entering the meeting room.
Ralmeya was a man with an intellectual-looking face, far younger than the duke at only around thirty years of age.
But the current Ralmeya was completely haggard and his ordinarily black hair had lost some of its luster; he looked decades older.
“Your Excellency, this is a matter of great importance. We must not cause trouble with that Dhampir – no, with any of his group! Attacking them or attempting assassination is completely out of the question! As is forming a plan to force unfavorable circumstances upon them. My official recommendation is to maintain positive relations with them to the best of our ability, and in the event that is impossible, I recommend that we promise to make no aggressive moves… keep some distance between us and them, and step around them so that we do not get involved!” Ralmeya almost shouted, his voice filled with desperation.
But as soon as he finished speaking, the corners of his mouth twitched into a deranged smile, and he began laughing.
“Do not get involved? Keep some distance?” he muttered in between cackles. “Impossible! How much distance would one need to place between himself and a being with such power to not get involved?” he screamed, bursting into uncontrollable laughter. “There is no escaping those eyes! THERE IS NO ESCAPE, YOUR EXCELLENCYYYYYY!”
As Ralmeya continued laughing like a madman, the other four of the Five Knights of Alcrem looked at him with grave expressions, and Takkard simply stood and stared, dumbfounded.
“Someone, get in here!” one of the stewards shouted, calling the servants. “Ralmeya-dono is terribly exhausted! Take him to a room and let him get some rest! Have the court physician and mage examine and treat him!”
Servants carried Ralmeya from the meeting room to another chamber, and as his laughter faded into the distance, Takkard came back to his senses.
“What is the meaning of this? What has happened to Ralmeya?” he asked.
“I do not know. I thought that it was the effect of some poison that attacks the mind, but the ‘Antidote’ spell had no effect,” said Bravatiyu, the ‘Knight of Roaring Flames.’
“It is possible that a terrifying illusion spell has been cast on him,” said Serjio, the ‘Knight of Distant Thunder.’
Both of them had a bitter tone to their voice.
“Ralmeya’s subordinates all remain sane, so I asked them, but… we have no idea how he became like that. However, before you arrived, Your Excellency, he was still in a near-sane state and managed to write this down,” said Baldiria, the ‘Knight of a Thousand Blades.’
Takkard looked down at the sheet of paper she was holding. Some parts of the Statuses Ralmeya had managed to measure from Vandalieu and his companions had been written there in slightly twisted handwriting.
“This is…! Is this true? Attribute Values over ten thousand, and high-Level Skills. If these numbers are accurate, his companions are considerably powerful as well!” Takkard exclaimed.
“Yes. Up until this point, I had assumed that if all of us Five Knights of Alcrem fought him together, we would be able to defeat him. However, if these numbers are correct, even if all of us were to fight him and the entirety of the duchy’s army were sacrificed in battle, our chances of victory would be slim,” said Goldie, the ‘Knight of the Collapsed Mountain.’
Takkard had thought the same thing. He had thought that no matter what happened, even if hostilities arose and a battle immediately followed, the Five Knights would be able to stop Vandalieu and his companions, even if they did face some difficulties.
But it seemed that this assumption had been a great mistake.
“To think that he possesses strength equivalent to Randolf’s… I will need to change our plans for how to approach our discussion,” Takkard murmured.
At dawn, Vandalieu received a call through his Goblin communication device from Bone Man and the others who were aboard Cuatro and headed towards the region mentioned in the Divine Message of Peria, the Goddess of Water and Knowledge. They reported that they were seeing some unusual monsters and called him out to the ship.
“They are considerably powerful, to the point that even I cannot defeat them easily, and they have recently begun to appear in groups. Because of them, we cannot submerge ourselves underwater even during the day,” said Bone Man.
“They’re pretty strong, but leaving that aside, they’re pretty interesting, which is why we called you over,” said Borkus.
“I believe you meant to say ‘absurd,’” said Mikhail.
“Interesting, you say?” said Vandalieu, peering over the side of the boat down at the water far below.
“If Borkus-san and Mikhail-san are saying that, then the monsters must be pretty strange,” said Darcia.
“Never mind that… The ocean, as far as the eye can see! There are oceans in Dungeons as well, but this is still amazing!” Privel said excitedly.
Though it wasn’t likely in response to Privel’s excitement, unnatural waves appeared on the ocean’s surface.
In the next moment, an enormous Kraken emerged… and flew directly upwards towards the airborne Cuatro.
“A flying Kraken?!” Privel screamed.
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