The Death Mage Who Doesn’t Want a Fourth Time - Chapter 278
Chapter 278 – A rematch… or rather, observation
Having finished changing Jobs, Vandalieu and his party attended the welcoming event prepared by Mayor Yurak and all of the town’s residents.
There was a banquet featuring Gartland’s prided mushrooms and marine products, as well as dishes containing the meat of unusual monsters such as mammoths and enormous sloths.
“These dolphins have scales, huh?” said Privel.
“Privel, those are apparently aquatic dinosaurs called ichthyosaurs,” said Vandalieu.
“Really?!” Privel exclaimed in surprise.
Although Vandalieu wasn’t aware of this, ichthyosaurs were actually aquatic reptiles – at least, they were on Earth. Their classification was unclear in Lambda.
“The deep-fried nautiluses and the giant sloth tongues are also quite exquisite, you know,” said Doraneza.
Vandalieu and his companions smacked their lips as they enjoyed the whole, roasted ichthyosaurs and the various kinds of barbecued meat.
And they were not simply receiving food from their hosts; they generously provided food from the ingredients they had acquired as well.
“I have never tasted this before,” said Mayor Yurak.
“That’s starfish. It was my first time cooking it, but I think it turned out quite well thanks to the mushroom sauce you have here,” said Vandalieu.
“Starfish?! You cooked starfish?!” Mayor Yurak said incredulously, his eyes opening wide in his surprise at learning what he was eating. “But this amount… Was it not difficult to gather so much of it?”
There were still many dishes of the same starfish meal lined up on the banquet’s tables.
Yurak felt faint as he tried to imagine just how many thousands, how many tens of thousands of starfish would have been needed for these meals, and how much physical labor would have gone into collecting so many.
“No, Gufadgarn collected the Starfish Beast-King before he fell to pieces, so it wasn’t particularly difficult,” said Vandalieu.
The starfish in question was Repobilis, the Starfish Beast-King. Starfish generally didn’t have many edible parts, but with a body that was over a hundred meters across, Repobilis had provided a considerable amount.
His meat was considerably inferior to that of other monsters that were as powerful as he had been, but was still more delicious than ordinary food ingredients.
“Thank you for your assistance back then,” said Bone Man, thanking Gufadgarn for collecting Repobilis’s remains after he defeated him.
“Not at all. You fought magnificently,” said Gufadgarn.
On the other side, Borkus and the others were sharing drinks with the Snow Ice Titans.
As both races were originally the same race, they seemed to be getting along well.
“This meat is tough, but the more I chew it, the more the savory flavor shines,” one of the Snow Ice Titans remarked.
“Just what kind of meat is this?” asked another.
“Oh, that’s the meat of a Colossus, a guy called Radatel,” Borkus told them.
The Snow Ice Titans began choking on the meat that was in their mouths.
It seemed that they were not entirely willing to be eating the meat of a Colossus; they looked like they were ready to spit it out.
“It’s precious meat, so it should be used. Rather than let it go to waste, we should eat it with gratitude, like we do with the meat of other creatures,” said Jeena.
The Snow Ice Titans seemed to be convinced by this.
“… That’s right. If it’s edible, we should eat it, just like anything else we hunt,” one of them said.
“When we eat, we should give our thanks to the life given for our meal. That’s true even if it’s a Colossus or a Beast-King. As expected, priests of Vida speak wise words,” said another.
Vida was worshipped in Gartland, as she was the one whom the gods like Povaz and Zozaseiba considered their chief god. Thus, Jeena was viewed as a special individual, as she was capable of summoning Vida’s familiar spirits.
“Yeah. If we don’t eat it, it’ll go to waste,” Jeena said.
The Snow Ice Titans’ respect for Jeena was enough for them to suppress their reluctance to eat this meat.
Incidentally, Zvold’s meat was not being offered at the feast, as it was mainly being eaten by Pete.
And so, the feast came to an end. The next day, having rested and regained their strength, Vandalieu and his companions had a discussion, along with Doraneza, Dediria, and Mayor Yurak.
Vandalieu’s companions from the Demon Empire of Vidal and from Alcrem, which were both far from Gartland, were gathered as well, through Gufadgarn’s teleportation.
“You say that we need a plan, but don’t we just need to go and hit them again soon? You’ve been told the enemy’s numbers and organization by the spirits of that Elder Dragon and that starfish, right?” said Borkus.
Vandalieu had learned of the numbers that had been gathered on the surface by the Boulder Colossus Gorn, after questioning the spirits of the Great Vortex Dragon God Zvold and the Starfish Beast-king Repobilis.
As suspected, the enemy consisted of around thirty demigods, and the commander in charge was the Boulder Colossus Gorn. The next in command included Brateo, the Colossus of Roaring Thunder, as well as other gods including Madroza, the Great Ocean Dragon God, whom Vandalieu and his companions had not directly fought against yet… though Brateo had not seemed like much of a second-in-command.
With this information in mind, it was actually not a bad idea to return to the surface and attack them once more. In fact, that was the most obvious course of action.
“Jyuuh. The enemy’s numbers were reduced in the previous battle. On the other hand, we have gained Darcia-sama, Godwin-dono, Legion, as well as Luciliano and the others, so our fighting forces have drastically increased. My lord, I believe we should strike before the enemy replenishes their own forces,” suggested Bone Man.
“I am included in these fighting forces of yours?!” Luciliano said, sounding panicked at the fact that he was being considered as a participant in the upcoming battle. “If possible, I would much rather stay here for a while and focus on conducting research on these Homunculi and these newly-discovered races of Vida.”
Though he needed experienced front-line fighters accompanying him, he was capable enough to participate in clearing A-class Dungeons, but… it seemed that becoming more capable in battle had not changed his personality.
“Well, Luciliano, I asked you to come here so that you could do exactly that, so please focus on your research and exchanging knowledge with the mages of Gartland,” said Vandalieu.
Luciliano raised both hands up in the air in joy.
Vandalieu turned away from his rejoicing apprentice and back towards Borkus and the others. “Indeed, it is possible to prepare our forces and make a push towards where Botin is sealed away. Thanks to Povaz and the others, we know where that is.”
The gods of Gartland, with the exception of Marisjafar, had all once been a part of the Demon King’s army, and thus knew where Botin was sealed away. And unlike Gufadgarn and the others, who had left the continent after the Demon King’s defeat, they had remained in hiding here for the past hundred thousand years.
Although the critical miasma contamination that had taken place had changed the shape of the continent, distorting space and gravity, they were still aware of where the seal on Botin was.
“Even after abandoning this continent, Alda and the other gods kept an eye on the seal, after all. It was possible that they would notice our presence and Gartland’s existence if we accidentally came too close to it, so we took constant care so that this wouldn’t happen. If we had the mobility of that flying ship of yours, it wouldn’t have been a problem, though that might have been a bit overkill,” said Zozaseiba, who was a demigod and present at the discussion, representing the gods of Gartland.
“If we tried, we would probably be able to defeat Gorn and his allies, and reach the place where Botin is sealed,” said Vandalieu. “But this time, Gorn and his allies will prepare themselves and meet us in battle without the ineptitude they showed in our previous encounter with them, so it’s certain to be a difficult battle. We might suffer losses, and even if we reach the place where Botin is sealed, we don’t know how long it will take to remove the seal.”
The ambush from Gorn and his allies when Vandalieu and his companions first reached the Demon King’s Continent had been imperfect due to the hasty actions of the Colossus of Lightning Radatel and the Great Vortex Dragon God Zvold. That was why Cuatro had been able to escape before their surrounding formation was complete.
However, a battle involving all forces would be even fiercer, and it was possible that some of those who were less strong than the others, such as Cuatro, the Four Dead Sea Captains, or the Undead sailors, would be lost.
And even if they were able to defeat Gorn and his forces, there was no guarantee that they would be able to immediately remove the seal on Botin.
Vandalieu had undone numerous curses and seals in the past, except for those on his own soul. Some of those had been created by gods or the champions.
However, this was the first time he would come into contact with a seal created by the Demon King Guduranis. There was no guarantee that he would be able to remove it in just a few seconds. It was possible that it would take an hour or two, or even more than half a day.
… This might seem to be a short amount of time, but it was too long to be done during a battle.
Of course, it was possible that Vandalieu would be able to remove it immediately, but it was too dangerous to rely on that possibility.
“Then we simply need to undo the seal after wiping out Gorn and his friends. And you say there’s a chance we’ll suffer losses, but that’s always been the case up until now,” said Borkus. “Even if we gather our forces and make all the preparations we can, it will still be a battle to the death. The risk of death is always there, whether we’re hunting in a Devil’s Nest or clearing a Dungeon. It’s there, but we can’t make our livings if we’re always afraid of it.”
“What Borkus is trying to say seems to be that there’s no need to fear the methods we’ve used up until now. Well, I agree with that… If we make all of our preparations, add Sam to the battle for his flexibility in addition to Cuatro, and gather the Abyssal Pure-breed Vampires as well, we won’t suffer any losses, will we?” said Jeena.
“We’d need to have them return to the Boundary Mountain Range quickly after the battle, though. It’s possible that other demigods will attack the Boundary Mountain Range at the same time,” said Zandia.
Jeena and Zandia were in agreement with Borkus, giving suggestions for plans that would result in zero losses. The thirty enemy demigods were a threat, but there were also more than twenty Pure-breed Vampires on Vandalieu’s side.
If it weren’t for the risk in weakening the defenses of the region within the Boundary Mountain Range, it would be possible to overwhelm the demigods on the Demon King’s Continent.
“Borkus and the others seem to be in agreement. Shouldn’t we just remove the seal after we defeat Gorn and his allies?” asked Privel.
Vandalieu shook his head. “No, even if we wipe out Gorn and his allies, it’s possible that other gods or heroic spirits will appear. It seems that there are several pseudo-Divine Realms on the Demon King’s Continent. During the previous battle, we saw a god holding a war horn and war drums approaching,” said Vandalieu.
Demigods possessed physical bodies. Thus, unless they were able to transport themselves instantaneously with teleportation, they would need to swim through the ocean or fly through the skies in order to reach the Demon King’s Continent.
But since gods did not possess physical bodies, they were able to move in a matter of minutes. As long as there was a pseudo-Divine Realm on the surface, they could even descend there directly.
And Gorn and his allies had created numerous pseudo-Divine Realms on the surface. Radatel, Zvold, and Repobilis had been aware that pseudo-Divine Realms had been created, but they had not known their exact numbers or locations.
Perhaps they had been deliberately kept uninformed so that Vandalieu would not gain this information from them if they were killed, or perhaps they had never bothered learning this information, as it had not been necessary for them. Vandalieu didn’t know which was the case.
All he knew was that there would certainly be pseudo-Divine Realms closer to where Botin was sealed.
“As rude of them as it is, they seem to be under the impression that I’ve come to devour Botin’s soul. I’m sure they’ll send additional forces in order to prevent that from happening,” said Vandalieu.
Although Gorn, Sirius, and the other gods had created the pseudo-Divine Realms, they would remain even after they were defeated. If gods and heroic spirits descended on them one after another, there would be no end to the battle.
“In that case, rather than pushing through in one big effort, how about repeatedly chipping away at the enemy’s forces and retreating?” suggested Eleanora, considering the possibility that the enemy would send reinforcements. “Even if they’re gods… No, precisely because they are gods, they won’t recover from damage that they take very quickly, and it should take them time to gather additional forces that are ready to fight on the Demon King’s Continent. On the other hand, we can recover as much as we like as long as we have Van-sama.”
The Mana Vandalieu’s allies consumed during battle could be replenished via his ‘Mana Transfer.’ Vandalieu himself constantly recovered Mana, thanks to his ‘Constant Mana Recovery’ Skill and ‘Increased Mana Recovery Rate’ Skill. His Mana recovery could be sped up even further by drinking Bellmond’s blood or the blood of the demigods he and his allies defeated, due to the effects of the ‘Blood Rule’ Skill.
Even if they were injured, there were Blood Potions, as well as the magic of Darcia, Jeena, Zandia, and others.
If they wanted, they would be able to attack Gorn and his allies at least twice a day.
“We could do hit-and-run attacks over and over in short intervals, then once their numbers have been chipped away, charge in and wipe them out. Then, while Van-sama is removing the seal, we just need to protect him,” said Eleanora.
“I see. And if it turns out that the seal on Botin will take time to remove, and there are not enough fighting forces to protect Vandalieu-sama, then we just need him to create more Demon King Familiars,” said Isla, reluctantly supporting and adding to Eleanora’s plan.
She wasn’t happy that her rival had devised this plan, but she didn’t want to hinder Eleanora for no reason other than her personal emotions in front of Vandalieu.
The truth was that Eleanora’s suggested plan was the one that Gorn feared the most, and if carried out, it would undeniably see a certain amount of success.
However, Isla didn’t want to simply let Eleanora’s suggestion pass as is, so she proceeded to pick at it.
“However, you say we should carry out repeated hit-and-run attacks, but have you thought about how we will enter battle and how we will retreat? There is no guarantee that we will be able to get away to Gartland like last time, and if we use teleportation to escape, the enemy will surely come up with ways to stop us,” Isla said, causing Eleanora to frown.
Legion spoke up to agree with this danger.
“That’s true. Especially since the enemy will probably have an anti-teleportation measure ready. Considering that, it’s fortunate that we were able to escape to Gartland.”
“Dalton warned us about that, too.”
“Gufadgarn! I believe you are an evil god of the space attribute. Is it possible for Gorn and his allies to interfere with your teleportation?”
“It is, Valkyrie,” replied Gufadgarn. “According to the information acquired from the spirits of Repobilis and the other enemies defeated by the great Vandalieu, several space-attribute gods were lying in wait around our previous battlefield. They are likely capable of obstructing my teleportation and delaying its activation.”
“They can do that, huh… Then it really was a good thing that Dora-chan brought us here. If we really needed to escape with teleportation and they interfered with it, we might have been put in a vulnerable position,” said Privel.
“Indeed. Even we would lose our nerve if our planned escape route was blocked,” agreed Mikhail.
However, unbeknownst to Vandalieu and his companions, the great god Zuruwarn who managed the space attribute, as well as all of his subordinate gods who had once been humans, had aligned themselves with Vida’s faction. The gods considered to be a part of Alda’s forces were all ascended from familiar spirits who had been created out of Mana and were not self-aware. And even those gods were all gods that Zuruwarn had instructed to continue their task of maintaining the world no matter what happened.
Thus, there weren’t actually any of Zuruwarn’s subordinate gods among Alda’s forces.
Alda’s forces just happened to be near the subordinate gods of Zuruwarn who were carrying out their task of maintaining the world.
However, over a hundred thousand years had passed since the battle between Vida and Alda, and there were some among Alda’s believers who had an affinity for the space attribute and had achieved great things. Ordinarily, such people should have become subordinate gods who were capable of using space-attribute magic and served Alda, the God of Law and Fate.
But Alda, under the impression that Zuruwarn was on his side, had taken such individuals to Zuruwarn’s subordinate gods to request that they be recognized as space-attribute gods – in order to create more subordinate gods for Zuruwarn, as their numbers were too few to stably carry out the maintenance of the world.
With no self-awareness or will of their own, the subordinate gods of Zuruwarn had accepted this request, for the purpose of maintaining the world.
And so, several new space-attribute gods who were formerly believers of Alda were born. Though Alda had not intended for this to happen, by becoming space-attribute gods, the skill they had possessed in space-attribute magic as humans granted them powerful authorities as gods – to the point that they were able to resist against Gufadgarn, the Evil God of Labyrinths who specialized in the space attribute, to a certain extent.
These unexpected developments had caused Zuruwarn to fear Alda’s airheaded nature.
However, nobody had bothered visiting a Church to ask for an explanation from Zuruwarn, so the discussion amongst Vandalieu and his companions continued… In a way, perhaps this was a sign of their trust in Zuruwarn.
“If that’s the case, we’ll have to either escape normally or teleport somewhere far from the Demon King’s Continent,” said Eleanora.
“On top of that, I think it’s best to avoid teleporting directly to Gartland. I’ve heard that legendary space-attribute mages are capable of following the tracks of a teleportation and pinpointing its destination,” said Darcia.
“Then it seems that hit-and-away attacks won’t work,” said Eleanora, retracting her own suggestion with a bitter smile.
But Vandalieu interjected. “No, I think Eleanora’s plan is a good one. I have a suggestion too. We’ll fool Gorn and his allies into thinking that our plan is to conduct hit-and-run attacks to whittle away at their forces, and in the meantime –”
Two days after Vandalieu appeared on the Demon King’s Continent… the day after he and his allies conducted their strategy meeting in Gartland… he appeared near the Demon King’s Continent once more.
Vandalieu was also spotted in the Alcrem Duchy on the Bahn Gaia Continent, but this time, the God of War Horns Sirius immediately suspected that it was a fake, and remained on standby so that he could descend upon a pseudo-Divine Realm on the Demon King’s Continent at a moment’s notice.
The wounded had not yet fully recovered, and Gorn’s forces were not fully replenished, but as Radatel and the Great Vortex Dragon God Zvold were no longer present to do anything hasty, they succeeded in smoothly surrounding Cuatro this time.
“This time, we will defeat them for sure! But make sure to avoid his ‘World-piercing Destructive Hollow Cannon’ at all costs! If it hits you directly, you’ll not only die, but your soul will certainly be destroyed!” Gorn warned his allies.
“Stop going on and on about things that we already know!”
Though they were following Gorn’s orders, the Colossus of Roaring Thunder Brateo and the Great Ocean Dragon God Madroza approached Cuatro, seeking revenge for their fallen sons.
They slipped past the rain of egg projectiles fired by the cannon-type Demon King Familiars and the ‘Scream’ attacks of the sound-wave-attack-type Demon King Familiars, closing in on Vandalieu, who was firing beams of light from Cuatro’s deck. Just as Brateo was about to strike him with a lightning-imbued fist and Madroza prepared to rain a Dragon’s breath on him, they came to a realization.
“These are fakes?!”
The Borkus, Privel, and Undead sailors on Cuatro’s deck were, upon closer inspection, Stone Golems that had been shaped and colored to look exactly like the real ones. The illusion they had thought was Vandalieu was actually a Demon King Familiar specialized in shooting beams of light that was made of countless eyeballs of the Demon King, each of which was the size of an adult’s head, that were connected to a treasure orb of the Demon King.
“Damn it, this is a trap!” Brateo shouted.
“Everyone, protect yourselves!” Madroza warned.
The two of them turned around evasively, but the hollow eyes of the Demon King Familiar watching them looked as if it were ridiculing them and saying, “It’s too late.”
In the next moment, Cuatro began shining as bright as the sun, and exploded in a huge fireball.
“GAAAAAH! Something pierced through my magical shield?!”
The Elder Dragons and Colossi that were struck by the impact and burned by the flames fell into the ocean. Some had been able to quickly conjure magical barriers to stop the flames and the blast wave, but a countless number of horns, crystals, and bones of the Demon King flew out along with the blast wave, piercing through these barriers and burying themselves in the demigods.
“A self-destruction… No, a trap to kill us after we took the bait and got drawn in!” muttered Gorn.
He had been quite far from the fake Cuatro, and fortunately, he had conjured a wall out of solid rock rather than a barrier of Mana, so he had been able to protect himself and some nearby allies from the flying Demon King fragment projectiles.
However, he couldn’t help but to let out a vexed groan.
The ‘Sword King’ Borkus, the ‘Saint of Healing’ Jeena and the others had not flown out from Cuatro’s deck like they had two days ago, and yet Gorn had not suspected anything, too desperate to defeat or drive away Vandalieu and his allies, and his allies had been caught in this trap as a result.
He had been too flustered by the fact that his allies had not yet fully recovered from the damage and loss of forces that had been taken in the previous battle.
… One silver lining was that those who had been heavily wounded in the previous battle had not been brought here.
“Damn it, half of those who can still move, go and help the ones who fell into the sea! The rest of you, watch our surroundings! The real one might be lurking nearby!” Gorn ordered as he evaluated his allies’ situation.
The ones who had fallen into the sea were heavily injured, but they were not dead. Those who had kept their distance from the fake Cuatro had not taken heavy damage from the flying projectiles… The projectiles had been covered in poison, but it seemed that this poison was not deadly enough to pose a direct threat to the resilience of demigods.
The Iron Colossus Nabanga, whose prided armor had protected him from the projectiles, stared at where the fake Cuatro had been floating, and let out a groan. “Brateo and Madroza-dono… they could not be saved after all.”
The two of them had taken the impact of the explosion and countless flying projectiles at close range. It wouldn’t be strange to think that their lives were lost.
Though it wasn’t rare for them to act on their own and disobey orders, the loss of these two powerful gods was a great one for the force guarding the Demon King’s Continent.
But as the smoke gradually grew thinner, Brateo emerged from it, carrying Madroza on his back.
“Gah, that was close…” he groaned.
Gorn and the others shouted in surprise and rushed towards them.
“Brateo! You’re unharmed!” said Gorn.
“Hmph, does this look ‘unharmed’ to you? At least we’re alive, because Madroza and I had both strengthened our bodies, and cast at least some simple protective magic right away… and thanks to the space-attribute gods you had hidden around,” said Brateo.
Gorn turned around in surprise to see a space-attribute god he had ordered to stay hidden and interfere with Gufadgarn’s teleportation, Larpan, the God of Mirror Images.
“I apologize for acting without orders. However, I thought it best to act in this situation,” said Larpan.
He had instantaneously warped space to protect Brateo and Madroza. This protective measure had not been a complete one, but it was thanks to him that neither had suffered fatal damage.
“I see… I mean, I thank you for your decision. You did well. Since that boat was a fake, there’s no chance that it would attempt to escape, so you saved them in the end,” said Gorn.
Aboard the fake Cuatro had been some Demon King Familiars that used ‘Flight’ to keep the fake Cuatro in the air for the short duration it took to draw Gorn and his allies in, as well as the cannon-type and sound-wave-attack-type Demon King Familiars that had been shown in the previous battle. The remaining space had been packed with the Demon King’s fat, along with fragments such as the Demon King’s horns to act as shrapnel to increase the explosion’s lethality.
Vandalieu had sent an anti-personnel, or rather, an anti-demigod explosive device… though considering that Demon King Familiars were clones of Vandalieu, it was self-destruction in a way.
“Could it be that the real one is planning to attack now?!”
“No, considering that trap had that much power behind it, it shouldn’t have been easy for him to make. Isn’t that right?”
“In any case, we’re retreating for now!” said Gorn. “Brateo, Madroza, and the rest of us need to treat our wounds.”
Gorn and his allies retreated swiftly towards the safe zone they had secured on the Demon King’s Continent, while also being careful to avoid encounters with monsters.
… This was observed by Vandalieu through the compound eyes of a small scouting-type Demon King Familiar with a small body and insect wings.
As we thought, there was a space-attribute god. We need to be careful when retreating via teleportation, Vandalieu thought.
Artificial life-forms created through ‘Alchemy.’ Strictly speaking, Golems and Live-Dead also fall into this category, but rather than being created by breathing life into base materials such as rocks or corpses, life is made to be born through an artificial process, so they are called artificial life-forms.
Those that resemble fetuses and cannot sustain life outside of the growth apparatus they are created in are called Homunculi. In contrast, those that are able to leave their growth apparatus and look exactly like human adults (between mid-teenage years to old age) are called Humanoid Homunculi.
However, ordinary alchemists are incapable of creating Humanoid Homunculi that resemble humans exactly. This feat requires either expensive materials and exceptional technical prowess, or a contract with and the divine protection of evil gods that have been known to create Homunculi in this world.
It is said that creation of a single Homunculus in the Orbaume Kingdom would cost a million Baums in materials alone.
However, the creation of Homunculi is harshly denounced by the Church of Alda and some sections of the Church of Vida, as the creation of artificial humans is considered to be toying with life, so it is forbidden by law in many nations.
They are categorized as monsters, but this is for convenience’s sake; they do not naturally occur in Devil’s Nests or Dungeons, so there are no commissions to hunt Homunculi and harvest materials from them posted at the Adventurers’ Guild… though there are commissions to kill or capture alchemists who have broken the law.
The Ranks of Homunculi are low, and few of them have special abilities. This is because Homunculi are artificial humans and are created to mimic real humans. However, it is recorded in literature that some Humanoid Homunculi who have gathered a wealth of experience were capable of casting advanced spells.
What follows is written by Luciliano:
The Homunculi of Gartland were created by gods following a trial-and-error process, and they are exceptionally close to real people. Their appearances are divided into three types – human, Dwarf, and Elf – and their Attribute Values match their appearances as well. The one difference lies in their aptitude for magic; any individual Homunculus can possess an affinity for any attribute as humans can, regardless of the type of Homunculus they are.
Humanoid Homunculi are Rank 2, and as their Ranks increase, they become High Humanoid Homunculi, then Elder Humanoid Homunculi. However, it seems that their appearances do not change no matter how much their Rank increases.
It seems that they do not progress past Rank 4 Elder Humanoid Homunculi. Further individual progression occurs through Job changes.
The Homunculi of Gartland are mild-mannered and rational, and they possess a high degree of intelligence. They know little about the world as they live in an underground environment, but that is due to the secluded nature of their home, rather than it being due to them being less able than non-Homunculus people.
If one were to see them after seeing the hoodlums, criminals, and bandits in the world on the surface, they might begin to wonder who the real people are.