Chapter 257 - The relief of the ‘Knight of Keen Insight’

Chapter 257 – The relief of the ‘Knight of Keen Insight’

At the Commerce Guild, Vandalieu was able to take care of his affairs promptly while avoiding various troublesome matters, thanks to the Guild Master’s preemptive actions.

“To think that we would be so popular. Not that I am happy about it,” said Myuze.

The ‘various troublesome matters’ were apparently so-called ‘get-rich quick’ schemes that merchants wanted to suggest to Vandalieu. A third of them were the same as the one proposed by Joseph, the former Deputy Guild Master of the Commerce Guild in Morksi. Another third of them were related to the transformation equipment that Vandalieu had invented. The last third of them were almost all related to Myuze, Maroru, Juliana and the others.

The rat sisters were new races of monsters. Empusa were also thought of as a new race of monsters even if that wasn’t quite the case, and Arachne and Scylla were also rare around these lands. Some of the offers were reasonable ones, involving the sale of materials taken from these monsters, such as shed fur, saliva and shed carapaces. Other offers were less pleasant, such as the offers to buy Juliana to keep as a beloved pet.

The former would have been fine perhaps for the rats, but it was not a pleasant offer for Myuze and the others. It would be physiologically impossible for them to provide for large crowds of men and women demanding fur, saliva and carapaces.

If the Guild Master hadn’t scolded and chased off the merchants gathered at the Guild, Vandalieu would have likely been making generous use of the Demon King’s Demon Eyes.

“As the one who manages the Commerce Guild, I offer my sincerest apologies. However, I would like you to realize that not all merchants are like them. They are people with little experience as merchants or fools that don’t learn from the experience they do have. After seeing you, they made rash and hasty moves, but the respectable merchants have not made a move. They should be readying themselves and observing you. So please forget about the one who wanted to buy that girl. I will be giving him a strict warning as soon as possible,” said the Guild Master of the Commerce Guild.

Unlike the young merchants who had made hasty moves, he knew the face of Juliana, the youngest sister of the duke.

He did not understand why she had become a mutant Minotaur child, but he seemed to believe it would not be wise for a mere merchant like him to touch on this topic.

“In any case, we’ve received permission to do business in this city and information on a farmer who grows sugar beets, so let’s leave it at that,” Vandalieu said to Myuze and Privel, sitting on a bench in the city’s central plaza. “And there were some normal merchants, too.”

After Vandalieu and his companions left the Commerce Guild, they had been approached by people wanting carapaces and fur, their requests prefaced with, “I am reluctant to ask this of such young women, but…” Other merchants had aimed for the Starving Wolf Security personnel, rather than approaching Vandalieu and his companions directly.

Vandalieu and his companions responded appropriately to these merchants as well. With that said, in regards to the former, they had simply responded with the vague promise of, “If we get the opportunity.”

“I shed my carapace once a year, and I do not carry the fur I shed around with me. I feel bad for them, but I am hesitant to offer my saliva…” said Gizania.

“It can’t be helped. Who knows what will turn up if they investigate our hair, fur and carapaces,” said Privel. “Ah, this is delicious.”

“How nostalgic… It’s just as delicious as when I had it before,” said Vandalieu.

After leaving the Commerce Guild, Vandalieu and his companions had started buying and eating food in the central plaza.

The central plaza of the Alcrem metropolis had all kinds of establishments, ranging from high-class restaurants catered to well-dressed, wealthy customers, to stores offering cheap meals to commoners.

Opting for the items sold at the food carts, Vandalieu and his companions had started at one end and gone around, buying and eating the various items available.

“You guys… Considering that the duel is tonight, it’s pretty bold of you to buy your competitors’ products,” said the ‘Plentiful Sandwich’ Sandy, the representative of the Alcrem Food Cart Pentagram who had challenged Vandalieu to the duel in the morning.

She was looking at Vandalieu and his companions with a look that was a mixture of exasperation and admiration.

The food they had bought included not only the stuffed-full-with-fillings sandwiches sold at her food cart, but the products of the other Food Cart Pentagram members as well.

“We’re buying these because the duel is tonight. We won’t be able to win unless we do preparatory research on what our competitors are selling and what will sell to the people of Alcrem,” said Vandalieu. “And you’re the one who told us to come before the duel started so that we can have a meeting before it.”

“Yes, it’s helpful that you came and showed your face early. So, how are my sandwiches?” Sandy asked.

“They’re delicious. The way you have concentrated your effort on creating your sauce is particularly good,” Vandalieu replied.

The sandwiches that had become Sandy’s Title were packed with fillings, something that could be seen at first glance. The bread was not white bread baked with wheat flour, but brown bread baked with mixed grains. But that solid, heavy, slightly sour bread went very well with the ingredients.

As Vandalieu mentioned, the sauce on the ingredients was a masterpiece. Naturally, as things like mayonnaise and ketchup did not exist in human societies, the sauce used in Sandy’s sandwiches did not contain them. However, the spices, fruit skins and finely-minced vegetables were fused into a complicated flavor that one could never get tired of.

“Oh, you have quite the taste, don’t you?” said Sandy.

“The best thing is that you use cheap ingredients, so you can profit even if you keep the price down. Delicious, low-price and substantial. I can see why these are popular with rookie adventurers who don’t earn much and assistants of merchants and craftsmen,” Vandalieu continued.

“Yes, you know quite a lot… Don’t you know a little too much for your age? Did you ladies give him some hints?”

Sandy had seemed pleased with Vandalieu’s thoughts at first, but as he continued his analysis, she shot a suspicious look at Privel and the others.

“No, it is our first time in a human city, so it is our first time buying and eating snacks between meals like this,” said Myuze.

The truth was that Myuze and the others had bought and eaten snacks between meals in the nations in the Boundary Mountain Range, but Myuze needed to lie so as not to contradict the story they had told the knights when they entered Alcrem.

“Incidentally, Sandy-dono, does your food cart not need your attention?” Myuze asked.

“No, since I don’t actually make my food at the food cart. I make the sandwiches at home and bring them to the food cart to sell, so business is finished for the day when they sell out,” said Sandy. “Normally, I’d be packing up the shop around this time of day to go back to my husband and help him prepare the sandwiches to sell for dinner. But we have our meeting today.”

Myuze’s attempt to change the subject of the conversation was successful.

Meanwhile, four people approached from behind Sandy.

“Before we begin our meeting, we need to introduce ourselves and apologize. I’m the ‘Soup on a Whim’ Sing,” said a lively-looking middle-aged man.

“I am the ‘Red-hot Rice’ Paparus,” said a Dwarf man with a wild haircut and beard.

“Nice to meet you. I am known as the ‘Chaos Rice Ball’ Michem,” said a woman who looked to be around twenty years old.

“I am the ‘Sweet, Sweet Sweets’ Tom… Please do not ask too many questions about this long-winded Title,” said a kind-looking old man, who seemed to be the leader of the group. “Us four and Sandy over there are the Alcrem Food Cart Pentagram. We apologize for causing you so much trouble,” he said, lightly bowing his head.

Sandy and the others voiced their apologies to Vandalieu as well.

“I mean, they were rumors, so don’t worry about it,” said Vandalieu.

“No, no. Sandy and the others are at fault for taking gossip so seriously, and Michem and I are also to blame for not admonishing them,” said Tom. “But if you are not going to accept an apology, then perhaps gratitude would be better. If you had ignored us, Sandy and the others would have had nothing to say for themselves.”

Sing and Paparus looked away, looking ashamed.

It seemed that Sandy, Sing and Paparus had taken the rumors seriously and demanded a duel or showdown with Vandalieu, and Tom and Michem had tried to stop them.

“We did tell them that even if the rumors were true, they weren’t anything to pay attention to. Those kinds of sales pitches are used everywhere, after all,” said Michem.

“We made false accusations against you, but you still accepted our duel. We have nothing but gratitude for you,” said Sing. “Well, we’re not going to go easy on you in the duel, though,” he added.

“I hate to repeat myself, but please don’t worry about it,” said Vandalieu. “By the way, what about the meeting?”

“Yes, about the way we will compete, I am thinking that we should decide on who is victorious by the total number of sales and customers. We shall be ranked from first to sixth, and no matter what the results are, we will all shake hands and vow to continue to do our best. How does that sound?” said Tom.

No signboards, products or business locations were on the line, and the duel would end in an amicable manner. It was certainly a vague way to end a duel, but it would be fine as an end to an event.

Indeed, Vandalieu had no intention of continuing to operate his food cart in Alcrem, so winning signboards and business locations would only cause him trouble.

“I have no objections, but one more thing. If I win, I would like you to decorate your food carts with these,” said Vandalieu, taking some cloths from the things that Gizania was carrying on her back.

These cloths bore the heart marks that were Vida’s holy symbol, the same ones worn by Starving Wolf Security personnel and the food carts in Morksi.

“This is good cloth. This is good cloth, but… didn’t the Church tell you not to do anything that draws attention?” asked Tom, having heard the rumors in town.

Vandalieu shook his head. “They told my mother that, not me. And these cloths are not for religious reasons; they’re just for business.”

It was a deceptive argument, but the Church of Vida in Alcrem didn’t have any right to stop Vandalieu and his companions from acting freely to begin with. They had merely made a request.

Of course, Vandalieu and Darcia’s reputations would worsen if they were to bluntly refuse the Church’s request and provoke the Church of Alda and its followers.

However, something like this would be fine. To the people of the city, this commotion about a duel was nothing more than an event.

“I see. Well then, I do not mind. You are not asking us to become affiliated with you or anything, are you? With that being the case, it will be helpful as it would make it clear which food cart has won the duel,” said Tom.

It seemed that the Alcrem Food Cart Pentagram had no complaints about it. Having a flag on their food carts would not affect their business at all, and it would only be for a limited period of time.

They would perhaps be opposed to this idea if they were fervent worshippers of god other than Vida, but that didn’t seem to be the case.

“I mean, you’re probably going to lose if we’re doing this around dinnertime, old man Tom. Maybe you should just take one of the cloths now?” said Sing.

“Sing, don’t go telling the truth now! The competition hasn’t started yet, you know!” said Tom.

“The truth? Elder Tom, I will of course be supporting Van, but the cake from your store was very delicious. I think you should have more confidence in your own creations,” said Gizania.

The wrinkles on Tom’s face deepened as he gave a joyful laugh. “It delights me to no end to know that you enjoyed my cake so much, Arachne lady. I suppose sweets are popular with women, no matter what race they are. However, the demand for my store’s products drops at dinnertime compared to lunchtime.”

“The demand for my sandwiches drops a little too,” said Sandy. “On the other hand, Paparus’s fried rice and Sing’s soup sell more. The clientele changes at dinnertime.”

When the sun set, less young women spent time in this area looking for something light to eat. There were more laborers, adventurers and city guards around, having finished their day of work. It seemed that the main thing they wanted for dinner was something substantial like the meals served at Paparus and Sing’s food carts.

Of course, there were some who added a sweet dessert to their dinner, but although Tom and the others were known as the Alcrem Foot Cart Pentagram, they were still just food carts in the end. Customers who did want a dessert with their meal would normally go to restaurants.

“Adventurers and city guards who are married do come to buy things to take home to their families, so it is not that we cannot sell any products at all,” Tom added. “Still, we panicked a little when Sandy rushed off, saying that she was going to challenge you to a duel.”

“I mean, at the time, I was intending to challenge him to a duel at lunchtime on the next day, so that we’d have more of an advantage. But since he wasn’t such a bad person, I kind of lost the will to do that,” said Sandy.

“Well, in any case, let us all do our best. My food cart has arrived,” said Vandalieu.

Among the bustling crowd, he had spotted his food cart being pulled by Hof and Mähne, accompanied by a waving Darcia.

As a result of his research, the dish Vandalieu had chosen for his duel… ended up being his meat skewers.

“I only have a few hours to prepare, after all. I can’t make large changes to my cooking. If that wasn’t the case, it’s quite cold around here, so I would have made steamed buns… steamed meat buns,” said Vandalieu.

Noodle dishes hadn’t been invented in this world, but steamed buns did exist. They were thought to have originated when an unsuccessful baker living in a hot spring area came up with the idea of saving on fuel costs by trying to use hot steam to bake his bread.

However, it seemed that steamed buns were known as ‘hot spring buns’ and considered to be local specialties that could only be purchased in hot spring areas, so people living in other areas were not familiar with them. Thus, even Vandalieu and his companions had never actually eaten steamed buns in human society.

“If that’s the case, wouldn’t it be better to change the time of the duel to tomorrow or the day after?” suggested Natania.

“Natania-san, Vandalieu-sama is confident that he can win with his meat skewers. Vandalieu-sama clearly has the upper hand when it comes to technique, after all,” said Juliana.

Indeed, Vandalieu’s ‘Cooking’ Skill was Level 8. It would not be strange for someone with a Level this high to be a main chef at a first-class restaurant or the head chef of a prestigious noble’s house.

In contrast, the ‘Cooking’ Skill of the members of the Alcrem Food Cart Pentagram was unlikely to be that high. They were the owners of famous food carts, and their cooking had indeed been delicious, but it still wasn’t superior to Vandalieu’s.

“But Juliana, victory isn’t decided by the Level of the ‘Cooking’ Skill alone. That’s especially true in Van-kun’s case, considering where the duel is taking place,” said Privel.

“Ah, you’re right!” said Juliana, remembering that Vandalieu would not be able to use various seasonings, ingredients and cooking methods in human society.

There were all kinds of reasons for this, including the fact that Vandalieu wanted to one day use them for local specialties and export products of the Demon Empire of Vidal.

“But I think I’ll be able to get pretty far. None of the Pentagram are a meat skewer food cart, so my product will be unique, too. I should be able to aim for third or maybe second place,” said Vandalieu.

“Are you not aiming for first place?” asked Myuze.

“I am not, Myuze,” Vandalieu replied. “If a newcomer makes such a big appearance, they’ll be hated.”

Vandalieu would win over some of the Pentagram and lose to others. He would then praise his competitors’ efforts and exchange handshakes.

That was the ideal outcome of the food cart duel.

It would not be good for Vandalieu to lose to all five of them, but it wouldn’t be good to defeat all of them and have the people declare him victorious over the Alcrem Food Cart Pentagram.

“… You say ‘newcomer,’ but I’d say you’ve achieved quite a lot in Morksi,” Natania pointed out.

“That’s because Joseph did a lot of things to make things difficult for us and because Hajime and the others came to cause trouble. If that hadn’t been the case, I would have been just an ordinary meat skewer food cart owner now,” said Vandalieu, putting the blame on Joseph and on Hajime Inui, the reincarnated individual who had attacked the city as the vessel of Fitun, the God of Thunderclouds.

“Still, there was the business with the orphanage and Birkyne, and I don’t think anyone else would have become Simon-san’s master. Maybe things wouldn’t have ended up so differently,” said Darcia.

That sunk Vandalieu’s argument, causing him to fall silent, although his hands kept working on preparing the food.

“By the way, Vandalieu, that isn’t Thunder Dragon and Mountain Giant meat. It’s ordinary Orc, Impaler Bull and Mad Boar meat. Those aren’t bad ingredients by any means, but are you fine with them?” Darcia asked.

“Huh? Really?” said Privel, who hadn’t noticed.

With a surprised look, she looked at the skewers Vandalieu was making.

There were Dungeons around Alcrem ranging from B-class to E-class, and many adventurers were based here. Thus, many food ingredients were sourced from monsters.

Therefore, meat from Rank 3 Orcs and Impaler Bulls wasn’t rare. They were commonly used even by the Alcrem Food Cart Pentagram, with the exception of Tom’s dessert store.

Indeed, these ingredients were used in the sandwiches, soup and rice balls that Vandalieu and his companions had purchased and eaten today.

Fewer stores used meat from Rank 4 Mad Boars than Orcs, but not to the point that it could be called rare.

The flavor quality and scarcity of the meat taken from Rank 8 Thunder Dragons was in another dimension.

“Yes. Using ingredients that are too high-quality would be bad for my image and reputation,” said Vandalieu.

“Now that you mention it, you’re right. You don’t want people to think that you forced a victory with the sheer quality of your ingredients rather than your cooking skill and ingenuity,” Darcia agreed. “Ah, does that mean I shouldn’t transform and work as a shop assistant?”

“I don’t think they’ll mind that. They already know that you’re going to be my shop assistant, Mom,” said Vandalieu.

“Y-you are worrying about your image and reputation? After all of this?” said Gizania, her eyes wide open in surprise.

“And if this was Morksi, wouldn’t you be playing winner-takes-all?” said Natania.

The attention of the people nearby was drawn to Vandalieu’s food cart, as Gizania – a large-build Arachne whose spider-like lower body was larger than the food cart itself – was standing next to it, alongside Privel and Myuze. Most people were looking simply out of curiosity, but there were also some negative stares filled with repulsion, fear, and anger.

Seeing as Vandalieu was taking them around with him anyway without caring about that, Gizania had thought that he didn’t care about his image and reputation.

And as Natania pointed out, one of the reasons Vandalieu’s food cart had risen to the top in the city of Morksi was because it offered delicious monster meat skewers at a cheap price… though there were other factors, including the fact that Vandalieu and his sales assistant Darcia belonged to rare races.

“I do care,” said Vandalieu. “I do care about the image and reputation I have as a worshipper of Vida, the ‘Food Cart King’ of Morksi, the ‘True Ruler of the Red-light District,’ and the ‘Patron Saint of Transformation Equipment.’ But I couldn’t care less about people who dislike me, you guys, Vida’s races and familiars; it’s a bit too late for me to care about what they think. As for Morksi, I’m just doing business there, but this is a duel, a contest. There aren’t any clear rules, but it would still feel bad to compete in a completely rule-ignoring way… I don’t need to win so desperately that I need to put all of my effort into it, anyway.”

Vandalieu and his companions currently didn’t have any plans to move their base of operations to Alcrem. They intended to return to Morksi once the audience with the duke was finished and the problems with the fake Face-tearing Demon and Arthur were resolved.

There was nothing to gain from putting every effort into seizing victory over the Pentagram.

“So, are you going to be holding back, then?” asked Juliana.

“No. I’m going to compete to the best of my ability while following the unspoken rules and the limits I choose to impose on myself… although I’m using a portion of my thinking power to look for spirits of victims and witnesses of the fake Face-tearing Demon… Before I go to bed tonight, maybe I should visit places where corpses were discovered and check if they’ve become spirits bound to the place they died,” said Vandalieu.

The other thing was that the duel would be seen by the public, so Vandalieu thought it would be a visible location marker for Arthur if he were to come to receive an answer.

“Incidentally, Vandalieu-sama, what shall we do about Ralmeya’s surveillance on us? It seems that he is looking for something,” said Chipuras, pointing at one particular corner of the plaza.

It was likely that the ‘Knight of Keen Insight’ Ralmeya, one of the Five Knights of Alcrem, had created the ‘rumors’ regarding Vandalieu to Sandy and the others this morning, and was in fact the mastermind behind the food cart duel. Chipuras had reported his involvement to Vandalieu.

“… For now, let’s just keep an eye on him. I don’t know what he’s after, after all,” said Vandalieu. “He has the ‘Demon Eyes of Appraisal,’ and if his goal is to see our Statuses, one glance should be enough.”

“Indeed. Then I shall return to monitoring him,” said Chipuras, going back to his task.

As if replacing him, Simon and Kachia returned with Fang, who was pulling a wagon.

“Master! We’ve bought as much cheese that’ll melt if you heat it, just as you asked!” said Simon.

“Are you going to use it in your sauce? Or are you going to make cheese skewers?” asked Kachia.

“Your ideas are quite interesting, Kachia, but I am thinking of pouring the cheese on top of the skewers,” said Vandalieu.

And so, preparations continued, and the duel finally began.

One part of the central plaza had simple tables and benches, where food and tea could be enjoyed outside. The ‘Knight of Keen Insight’ Ralmeya sat on one of those benches, commanding and executing his plan in the central plaza.

Just as Chipuras, Vandalieu and the others suspected, Ralmeya’s objective in riling up the Alcrem Food Cart Pentagram and creating the circumstances for a duel to be held was, of course, to use his ‘Demon Eyes of Appraisal’ to see the Skills and Attribute Values of Vandalieu and his companions.

But why a cooking showdown? If he wanted to see their abilities, wouldn’t it have been better to send thugs and hoodlums after them rather than the owners of well-known food carts?

Those who don’t understand the power of my ‘Demon Eyes of Appraisal’ would surely think so. However, if I simply look at my targets, my ‘Demon Eyes of Appraisal’ can only see the characteristics of their appearance; they cannot measure numbers accurately. If the targets themselves do not exert themselves to some extent, I cannot get an accurate measure of numbers.

Based on reports from the spies Duke Alcrem had sent to the city of Morksi and the widespread rumors, the Dark Elf mother was at least equivalent in strength to a B-class adventurer, and although the strength of Vandalieu himself was unknown, his familiars were almost certainly very powerful, and it was difficult to imagine that he was the powerless boy that his appearance and current Adventurers’ Guild class suggested.

His apprentices, the ‘Flying Sword’ Simon and ‘Iron Cat’ Natania, were C-class adventurers. It was also unlikely that his new Arachne and Scylla familiars were the Ranks that had been reported at the city gate.

Given all of this, would they really exert themselves to some extent to fend off some thugs and hoodlums? They were more likely to brush their attackers off without showing even a fraction of their strength.

To begin with, it wasn’t a simple task to prepare a disposable pawn that could force someone with a B-class adventurer’s strength to exert themselves. It would be a different story if someone connected to the Alcrem house of dukes, such as a skilled knight of the Knights’ Order serving the duke’s house or one of the Five Knights, could challenge Vandalieu to a test of strength. But this would very likely cause Vandalieu and his companions to become suspicious, and it was possible that it would make the unofficial audience that would take place later a more dangerous meeting.

Given that, it is simpler if it is cooking or dancing. I can make them ‘exert themselves to some extent’ in a peaceful manner. Of course, I can’t directly measure the Levels of their combat-related Skills, but I can accurately measure their Attribute Values. When they use their brains and move their hands quickly while they cook, I can see their Intelligence and Agility. When they use their physical endurance, I can see their Stamina. When they use the magic stoves, I can see their Mana. And people say that dancing skills transfer to combat… Well, I don’t know if they will be singing and dancing. It matters not. All that is left to do is sit here in this front-row seat and measure their strength.

Naturally, Ralmeya was sitting on a bench where he could see Vandalieu’s food cart. Fortunately, Vandalieu had an Arachne and Scylla with him, a rare sight around here, and they were drawing the stares of the people nearby. Even if Ralmeya observed Vandalieu and his companions intently, it would be assumed that he was simply one of the countless onlookers.

… The truth was that Ralmeya had already been found and was being observed by Chipuras, but he wasn’t aware of that.

In any case, I must see the numbers. First, from Vandalieu… He has familiars with him, but the effects of the ‘Animal Training’ Skill are not active? Does he not have the Skill? As for ‘Cooking’… Level 8?! Impossible! But he is indeed eleven years old, as his appearance suggests! Even that old man Tom, a member of the Pentagram, has the Skill at Level 6… The head chef of Duke Alcrem’s house has it at Level 7. They have decades of experience, but they have been surpassed by a boy who is merely eleven?!

Although the ‘Cooking’ Skill had nothing to do with Ralmeya’s original objective, he was astounded nonetheless, but he continued measuring Vandalieu’s abilities.

His Mana is unknown… and his other Attributes are in the tens of thousands?! What nonsense is this?! Never mind being equal to us Five Knights, he surpasses us! Is he truly an eleven-year-old boy? No, perhaps… his father, instead of being a Subordinate or Pure-breed… Is the boy directly descended from a Pure-breed Vampire?!

The fortunate thing for Ralmeya at this moment was that Vandalieu’s food cart cooked its food using the flames of Levia, a fire-attribute Ghost, rather than operating a magical stove. If he were to get even a rough estimate of Vandalieu’s Mana, he might have screamed in terror.

Of course, even after just measuring Vandalieu’s Attribute Values except for his Mana, Ralmeya was completely paralyzed with shock.

This was unexpected. We expected that he would be the type of tamer who is reasonably capable in combat himself, but to think that he would have the Attribute Values of an A-class adventurer… no, an S-class one. Does this mean the others are powerful as well?!

Ralmeya directed his ‘Demon Eyes of Appraisal’ at the food cart’s security and shop assistants – Simon and Natania, as well as the conspicuous Gizania and the rest. Information such as their height, body mass and age were displayed in his mind, and their Attribute Values followed.

Of course, Simon and the others weren’t exactly busy working, so the numbers were not particularly accurate.

The others are powerful as well!

Even taking into account the inaccuracy in the numbers he was seeing, the Attribute Values of Gizania and the others were high. In truth, they were around Rank 10, and their Attribute Values were easily within the range of those of A-class adventurers.

That wasn’t the case for Simon, Natania and Juliana, but… their Attribute Values were only low when compared to those of Vandalieu, Gizania and the others; they were not weak by any means. And in Simon and Natania’s case, they had artificial limbs.

The Magic Items called transformation equipment that the Ghouls and Dark Elf are using, and the artificial limbs of the ‘Flying Sword’ and ‘Iron Cat,’ none of them are normal. Defense, flexibility and, most importantly, the amount of Mana embedded in them is on another scale compared to other Magic Items! Just how many tens of thousands of mages would have been needed to… No, he has used the Magic Stones of high-Rank monsters?! What?!

At that moment, right before Ralmeya’s eyes, a drunkard got into a scuffle with Kachia – who was working as a waitress, serving customers with food placed on tree leaves rather than plates – and tried to forcibly pull her away with him. Kachia deftly knocked him onto the ground.

Having been rejected by Kachia, the drunkard – who seemed to be an adventurer or mercenary – drew his sword. Kachia produced a wooden rod that she was carrying for self-defense and easily fought him off with it. Ralmeya watched the entire spectacle with his ‘Demon Eyes of Appraisal,’ and was astounded even further.

Her ‘Swordsmanship’ Skill is Level 7! To think that a Ghoul’s Skill Level would be this high… The strength spoken of in the rumors is not a result of the transformation equipment or enchantments; the base strength they possess to begin with is far greater than what we imagined.

Up until this point, Ralmeya had thought of Ghouls to be a kind of monster that did not pose a great threat – though they could speak human languages and were intelligent, their base form was Rank 3 at most, and even superior races of Ghouls above Rank 6 had not been seen in recent years.

But it seemed that this perception of Ghouls was greatly mistaken.

Ugh, to think that even I, a man who is praised as the ‘Knight of Keen Insight,’ would be breaking into a cold sweat just by measuring Attribute Values. But I will not be able to face the duke if I don’t measure more Skills than just the boy’s ‘Cooking.’

The first thing he looked at was Darcia, who was performing a small song and dance at the request of the customers. It was calming for him to see her mundane Skills such as ‘Singing’ or ‘Dancing.’

However, more beads of cold sweat formed on Ralmeya’s back as he began seeing Skills that no ordinary Dark Elf could possibly possess.

Hmm? ‘Self-Strengthening: Vandalieu,’ ‘Strengthened Attribute Values: Creator,’ ‘Vitality Enhancement?!’ ‘Status Effect Resistance’ and ‘Monstrous Strength?!’ Is this woman really a Dark Elf?!

As he continued measuring Darcia’s Skills, he realized that there was someone with a Guider-type Job around her.

What’s this? ‘Self-Strengthening: Guidance?!’ In other words, this woman is being guided by someone… by a Guider?!

Ralmeya was aware of what Guiders were. They were those with Jobs that were so rare that no more than one Guider had ever existed at any given point in history, with the exception of the champions such as Bellwood.

They had an even greater influence on the world than S-class adventurers.

But where in the world was the Guider who was guiding Darcia? Ralmeya’s gaze slowly shifted towards the most likely possibility… as he repeatedly told himself that such a thing was utterly impossible.

But upon measuring Vandalieu’s Passive Skills, he saw that the ‘Guidance’ Skill was among them.

‘Guidance’ and ‘Strengthened Attribute Values: Worshipped?!’ This is why he does not have the ‘Animal Training’ Skill despite being a tamer! He is not training his familiars; he is guiding them and making himself a symbol of their worship! And ‘Abyss?!’ What in the world is ‘Abyss?!’ I-in any case, I must report this to His Excellency the Duke!

Vandalieu was a Guider.

Having realized this, Ralmeya immediately stood up from the bench and was about to turn around and leave – but found himself unable to do that.

His eyes had met Vandalieu’s, who was staring directly at him.

A small scream escaped Ralmeya’s lips – he could see a reflection of himself in Vandalieu’s hollow, empty eyes.

And his instincts told him that Vandalieu knew he had been peering into his Status.

A hallucination appeared before him – a hallucination of a grotesque monstrosity crawling out from the abyss beyond Vandalieu’s eyes.

I-I’m going to be killed. I’m going to die here! Ralmeya thought in despair, trembling in terror, certain of his doom.

But after staring at him for a few seconds, Vandalieu’s eyes moved away again.

And as if nothing had happened, he began taking the order of a large man with a great sword on his back.

I-I have been spared? Me?

It had been decided that Ralmeya was not a significant threat, not even worth disposing of. Fully aware of this, Ralmeya ran from the plaza as fast as his legs could carry him, ignoring the strange stares from the people nearby.

His heart was filled not with humiliation – but with the joy and relief of still being alive.

Name: Kachia

Rank: 8

Race: Ghoul Wizard Sword Adept

Level: 90

Job: Flame Space Magic Swordsman

Job level: 70

Job history: Apprentice Warrior, Warrior, Apprentice Mage, Mage, Magic Swordsman, Fire-Attribute Mage, Space-Attribute Mage, Flame Space Mage, Light Wind Technique Swordsman

Age: 27 years old (19 years old in appearance)

Passive skills:

Dark Vision (Transformed from Night Vision!)

Pain Resistance: Level 4 (LEVEL UP!)

Superhuman Strength: Level 8 (LEVEL UP!)

Paralyzing Venom Secretion (Claws): Level 4 (LEVEL UP!)

Strengthened Attack Power when equipped with a Staff: Medium (NEW!)

Strengthened Attack Power when equipped with a Sword: Very Large (NEW!)

Strengthened Defensive Power when equipped with Metal Armor: Large (NEW!)

Mana Enlargement: Level 4 (NEW!)

Self-Strengthening: Guidance: Level 7 (NEW!)

Active skills:

Swordsmanship: Level 7 (LEVEL UP!)

Armor Technique: Level 5 (LEVEL UP!)

Shield Technique: Level 6 (LEVEL UP!)

Dismantling: Level 4 (LEVEL UP!)

Surpass Limits: Magic Sword: Level 5 (NEW!)

Surpass Limits: Level 10 (NEW!)

Coordination: Level 8 (NEW!)

No-Attribute Magic: Level 8 (NEW!)

Fire-Attribute Magic: Level 7 (NEW!)

Space-Attribute Magic: Level 7 (NEW!)

Light-Attribute Magic: Level 5 (NEW!)

Wind-Attribute Magic: Level 6 (NEW!)

Mana Control: Level 9 (NEW!)

Chant Revocation: Level 5 (NEW!)

Housework: Level 2 (NEW!)

Singing: Level 1 (NEW!)

Dancing: Level 1 (NEW!)

Unique skills:

Vandalieu’s Divine Protection (NEW!)