Saturday, 17 August 2013

Vamp! III - Chapter 11

(Download the updated version in PDF/epub format here.)

Finally, the last chapter. There are four epilogues left after this, but I'm not sure yet if I want to group them all together or put them up separately. Anyway, enjoy!

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Chapter 11 - The Guardian Spirit Hatches from its Shell


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What has happened to me?

Why’d I go an’ protect Selim?

We understood fully that We would break in the process. So why?

What, pray tell, will happen to this one now?

No! No! I don’t wanna die yet!

My body... is going to fade...

...This character of mine is much too unstable. I... I must take physical form...


Val could not even tell where his existence lay.


<=>


The moment Selim leapt to protect Theo, Val thought that his heart would stop. Perhaps the heart composed of his illusions and telekinesis had indeed frozen.

Selim would die.

Death took physical form in Rudy and headed straight for Selim.

‘I have to stop him.’

Why had the thought so strongly resonated in his mind? Val still could not answer this question. But he never had enough time to think on an answer to begin with.

His telekinesis would not reach the guillotine, where Selim was.

But if he tossed something, he might be able to stop Rudy.

A boulder, a rock, anything. Anything he could throw.

But the cavern was filled with solid stalactites, not a single loose stone in sight. Val could already taste the despair of Selim’s death.

At that moment, something occurred to him. The word ‘death’ suddenly reminded him of a potential weapon that had been within his reach. It was not as solid as a stone, but it was still a projectile.

There was no time to waste. Val did not even have the time to think about the implications of his next course of action. Within seconds, his plan was set in motion.

His soul used telekinesis to lift up the spherical object at his feet.


And the object was chucked at Rudy’s temple as he lunged at Selim.


<=>


Crush.


It was not a very pleasant noise.


<=>


The watermelon appeared out of nowhere, interrupting Rudy’s attack. Val had thrown it with all his might, and despite the relative fragility of his weapon, the impact of the blow rattled Rudy and caused him to lose balance, falling against one of the cavern walls.

“What...?”

Red chunks were flying everywhere.

When they realized that the chunks belonged to a watermelon, those who knew Val’s true form were the first to react.

“VAL!”

“Valdred!”

Most were astonished at Theodosius and Melhilm’s sudden outcry. Selim and the jester turned to where the green-haired boy had been standing moments earlier.

But there was no one there.

The boy who had been among them until mere seconds ago disappeared from the cavern the moment the watermelon was smashed.


<=>


‘I need physical form.

‘Something. Anything. I... I need a core.

‘It doesn’t even have to be an object. I just need something to sustain me.

‘Something. Something. Anything...’


The moment his core was shattered, Val’s consciousness was scattered all over the cavern in a state of shock. He faintly recalled that Doctor had said he could live on even without a core, so long as he believed it would be all right.

But Val was in too much panic to believe. He had already been searching for a self in which he could place his trust. In this state, how could he even begin to extend that search to something new?

The moment the thought occurred to him, Val’s consciousness dispersed even more.

It was only a matter of time before he would disappear.


‘No.

‘No. No. No. I don’t want to disappear. I... I still...

‘Isn’t there anything I can cling to

‘Someone

‘Anything’


As his consciousness grew faint, Val desperately tried to take in the situation taking place in the cavern. Perhaps he could find himself a new core--even a piece of the shattered watermelon, if necessary.

But what he saw first was a horrifying scene.

Rudy stood from having been thrown against the wall, and once more charged at Theo.

It was as though Selim, standing resolutely between them, was of no concern to him.


‘Selim is going to die.

‘Why? Please, no.

‘Don’t kill her.

‘Someone stop him. Please don’t let Selim die.

‘I promised her I’d show her the outside world.

‘Then I’d listen to her story.

‘...That’s right! I bet that’s where I could find my answer.

‘So... what I have to do now...

‘Is to protect Selim.

‘I think... It’s thanks to Selim and Mihail that I could find a purpose.’


‘...?

‘Hey, what do you know.

‘I found myself a new core.

‘It was right here all this time.

‘I can’t believe I never noticed something this big...’


<=>


This time, there was truly nothing that could stop Rudy.

Relic had very nearly caught up to his speed, but Rudy lashed out to clear a path and again approached Selim as Relic staggered back.

She was standing in his way to Theo. Rudy swung his arm into the air in preparation for one fatal strike.

His hand fell towards the lovely alraune without a moment’s hesitation.


‘...What is this?

‘What... what just stopped me?

‘What did I just hit?’

Rudy’s attack had been halted just above Selim’s head.

Though there seemed to be nothing there, Rudy felt something. If he had truly hit only thin air, the alraune’s head would have already been smashed.

A moment later, an even more pressing question rose to mind.

‘Why?

‘Why... Why am I...

‘Why am I lying on the ground...?!’

The moment his confusion peaked, a gust of wind shook the cavern, forming words that pierced his ears.

“...Don’t kill her... Don’t kill Selim!”

It sounded like the voice of the green-haired vampire from earlier.

But Rudy could not even begin to guess at where this voice was coming from. As he looked around from the ground, pinned by an invisible force, he saw the jester, Ferret, and even Doctor looking around for the owner of the voice.

The undeniable truth was that something was holding him down.

The Eater who had taken hold of ultimate power had been forced to lay flat, humiliated and unable to even fight back.

‘Why... Why?!’

To his shock, he spotted Theresia and Melhilm far behind him, also forced flat on the ground.

His powers leashed, Rudy slowly began to regain his calm and his memories.

But no amount of calm could help him understand what was happening now. Had some vampire with unusual powers suddenly intervened? This was the only explanation he could think of.


His conjecture was only half-correct.


The pool of blood--the only being in the cavern who was aware of what was happening--spread himself out throughout the cavern and scrawled words of congratulation in banner-size.

[I see... you have changed the form of your own soul, Young Valdred! Nay, Valdred Ivanhoe the Magnificent, one who has destroyed one of our kind’s very limits!]

To the viscount’s senses, Val’s soul had always been in the form of a watermelon. But now, that shape was nowhere to be found in his eyes.

And yet Val’s voice and powers were clearly present.

At first, even the viscount hesitated. But the moment he realized that Val’s form had not disappeared, but become impossible to sense, he trembled in awe at the birth of this new vampire.

[You, my dear friend... You...]

When the viscount finally completed his sentence, the eyes of all those who occupied the cavern turned to dinner plates.

[You... have become one with this very island! With your second--no--first homeland, this island of Growerth! You have broken through the shell of your watermelon, and at that very moment, hatched into our island’s guardian spirit!]


Though the viscount’s claims grew more exaggerated towards the end, they nonetheless informed everyone in the cavern of the events that had just taken place.

The moment of realization was immediately followed by an embarrassed, disembodied voice.

“Um... I guess... I guess you’re right, sir. But ‘guardian spirit’ sounds kind of... embarrassing, I guess?”

Although Val’s voice was rather sheepish, the fact that he had not been erased from existence--the fact that he was alive--brought great relief to Relic and the others.

The voice continued self-consciously, addressing the entire cavern:

“So... What do you want me to do with these people?”


<=>


“...Kill me...” Rudy mumbled to no one in particular, pinned to the ground, “if I can’t have my revenge, then I’d rather die.”

The boy who had once abandoned his sister to escape the despair of death was now spurred by despair to seek death.

But the vampire who approached him spelled out the truth in large letters:

[I shall do no such thing. In fact, I shall do nothing to you in particular. And I shall make certain that you do nothing to my children.] The letters of blood wrote. Rudy glared, his face set.

“What... are you planning...? I don’t need your pity...”

[Do not misunderstand me. This is punishment. We shall do nothing, and I shall say nothing more to you. And I shall involve myself in no matter that concerns you from this point onwards. And so, I have my revenge.]

Ferret seemed to want to say something, but the firm composition of the viscount’s words lent them the weight of an emotion she had rarely seen. She stood back, knowing that the viscount’s show of forgiveness was not borne of hypocrisy or cheap pity.

Finally, the viscount finished with a sharply-written conclusion:

[After all, you are already trapped in the cycle of vengeance and repentance... for all eternity.]

Once the viscount’s words registered in his mind, Rudy’s consciousness finally slipped away.


“Such an unbelievable conclusion. It seems the fulfillment of my primary purpose has become impossible.” Sighed Sigmund’s Branch, “but... if nothing else, I shall retrieve my bait as an apology to Comrade Caldimir.”

[...What are you planning, Sigmund the Green?]

“...I insinuate the obvious. I shall retrieve the test subject you call a son. Know that no amount of resistance will prevail.”

Though the countless hostages in Sigmund’s grasp should have worried the viscount, the latter’s confidence refused to vanish.

[I cannot agree with your claim, I’m afraid.]

“What?”

[As I said to Melhilm earlier, I am here to resolve this situation. Though the traditional method would require lengthy and cautious negotiations, this island is out of time. It will be a true disaster if we cannot end this standoff before Garde arrives.]

“Garde...?”

Sigmund paused at the mention of the name.

Ignoring the Branch, the viscount moved over to Relic and floated down before his son, who was shaking Hilda’s shoulders in an attempt to break the subjugation over her.

[Ah, my son. It won’t do for a man who is soon to be in the leader’s seat to be flustered so.]

“...?”

Unable to fully understand the meaning of his father’s statement, Relic opened his eyes wide.

The viscount proudly spread his body into the air, and wrote in large letters as though making an announcement:

[Ah, my friends! Tonight, I have made the decision to hand over my title as Lord of Growerth to my son Relic!]


“Father...! You can’t be serious! Why now?”

[This is no jest, Relic! It is precisely the time for such a declaration, as I wish to make clear that the one who saves this island from peril must be the Lord of Waldstein Castle. And to rescue these many lives, you must truly make sense of the fact that you are a ruler. Understand that the people of this island are as good as a part of your very being.]

Taking note of the gravity dripping from the viscount’s advice, Relic took some time to consider his words. And once he realized just what it was that his father intended for him to do, Relic shuddered.

“Father... you can’t be serious.”

But Relic’s tremblings soon came to a stop. He chuckled wryly and took Hilda by the shoulders.

“Seriously. If I hadn’t seen Val do something that amazing just now, I’d never have thought this would be possible.”

As the others watched doubtfully, Relic locked eyes with Hilda and said in a lonely voice:

“I won’t apologize for drinking your blood, Hilda. But... once you come to, I’ll apologize properly about doing it while you weren’t yourself.”

With that, Relic sank his glinting fangs into her pale neck.

His teeth slid easily into her throat and drew blood from her body.

It was an almost erotic scene to behold, but there was no passion in the boy’s expression--it looked more like he was gently and calmly restoring warmth to the girl’s body.



From Sigmund’s point of view, Relic’s actions had come out of nowhere. But he nodded in realization.

“So you would overpower my subjugation with your own in order to free these humans?” He asked, never once losing his smile as he pointed out the flaw in Relic’s plan, “but what of the boy called Mihail? He is in the hospital, out of your reach. If I were to subjugate him and order him to cease breathing...”

As Sigmund refused to lose his advantage, Relic slowly withdrew his fangs.

“I didn’t drink Hilda’s blood to subjugate her.”

“...What?”

The boy who had now become the Lord of Growerth smiled confidently.

“It was to gain power. The absolute power that’s going to let me subjugate the entire island!”

A moment later, the people of Growerth scattered, in a very literal sense.


<=>


It was utter chaos.

In a matter of moments, all of Growerth was swallowed in confusion.

Just like the incident last year when Relic turned the island itself into fog and bats, everything was covered in a thick mist. Bats spouted upwards in pillars all over the island, as though supporting the weight of the heavens.

But this time, there was a difference. The bats this time were not elements of the island itself, but the hundreds of thousands of humans who were on Growerth.

The crowd of thousands surrounding Waldstein Castle, the hundreds of people wandering the streets, and the many people around the island going about their business--all had been transformed at once, alongside the clothes and accessories they wore.

Transformed into flocks of bats, they flew into the air and coughed out fog from their mouths before themselves turning into fog. The haze then hovered for some time before solidifying again into flocks of bats.

By the time the humans found themselves on the ground where they had been standing moments earlier, only the foreign substance--Sigmund’s blood--was left floating in the air.

Flocks of bats soared into the sky. The fog rested upon the beautiful decorations adorning the island.

It was as though the island itself was celebrating the birth of a new master of the night.


<=>


The scene in the cavern was little different from the one taking place aboveground.

Hilda, her body turned into fog and a flock of bats, circled around Relic for a moment before finally materializing again in his arms.

Sigmund’s other Leaves, who had been dragged here alongside her, also turned into flocks of bats and flew out of the cavern.

“It can’t be...?! Synchronizing with so many humans at once...?!”

Sigmund cried out in shock at the sensation of so many Leaves withering away. He glared at the new Lord of Waldstein castle, who met his gaze.

“I won’t stand for this. As the Lord who governs the island at night, I won’t stand for your interfering with the islander’s lives.”

“What...?!”

The moment Sigmund’s Branch cried out, a great mouth opened up under his feet. He fell and the hole closed over him.

Relic concentrated, slowly turning part of the earth into fog and transporting the intruder out of the castle. And once he had completed the task, he turned to Hilda.

Having regained consciousness, Hilda tilted her head and looked at Relic.

“Relic? What is this place? I thought I was at the hospital...”

There was too much to explain at once, but there was only one thing Relic wanted to say as he embraced her.

“Hilda... I’m so glad you’re okay!”

“Relic?”

Hilda seemed to be surprised by the sudden hug, but she caught sight of the sincere joy in his eyes and wrapped her arms around him. She asked no questions about the stinging pain in her neck, as though words weren’t necessary to communicate how they felt.

Melhilm, meanwhile, had been freed from Val’s restraint. He turned to his old friend.

“Gerhardt. How much about this incident did you really know from the very beginning?”

[Ah, I confess that I knew almost everything from the start. Everything about Sigmund, Rudy and Theresia, and even Caldimir’s true plans, of which Dorothy and the others knew nothing. And of course, you personally informed me of your plans earlier this evening. Things truly never change, my old friend. I expected nothing less than a proud declaration before you put your plans into action.]

“I don’t remember mentioning Rudy or Valdred in our conversation.” Melhilm pointed out.

[Aha! I merely entertained many informants today, Melhilm. And as for Caldimir’s plot, I was contacted by Garde. To go to the trouble of logging into an online game from an internet cafe in the mainland to receive my email address from a mutual party member! Most astounding, do you not agree?]

The viscount went on to reveal why he had been so pressed for time just minutes earlier.

[...I do believe it’s nearly time for Garde to arrive. It truly is a relief that everything was resolved quickly! Even I cannot say I could stop a head-on battle between Garde and Sigmund.]


“...Huh?”

“Hey! Those brats’re gone!”

The moment after the sudden burst of bats and fog, the freeloader vampires realized that Rudy and Theresia were nowhere to be found.

“Where’d they go?!” “Is Doc safe?!” “Shit... What’s going on here?”

The one who answered their questions was the only enemy left in their midst.

“...It seems Theresia has taken Rudy and fled.”

“No way! ...Actually, what are you still doing here?” One of the vampires wondered, shooting Melhilm a sharp look.

“I still have unfinished business that needs taking care of.”

The boy at the end of Melhilm’s gaze shrank back for a moment, but soon clenched his fists and looked the older man in the eye.

“...What will happen to Rudy now?”

“We have no way of knowing. He’s survived for the moment, but the next time he fights outside his armor, I cannot guarantee that he will keep his life, even if I manage to hold him back as I did today. Either his body or his mind will perish, and that will be the end of him.”

“...”

Theo said nothing.

“...Trying to think of a way to save that Eater? You think that will be enough to cleanse you of your sins? And a failure like you, even attempting such a thing? Preposterous!”

“...”

A failure.

Having also been on the receiving end of such a comment, Val looked at Doctor’s face with concern.

Doctor stood silently, hanging his head with a look of patient endurance.

But as though in his stead, Professor intervened with a haphazard swing of her arms.

<How could you say that?! If what we all heard just now was true, all of this was your fault to begin wi->

[Melhilm.]

The viscount’s words were written out in midair, interrupting Professor’s cries. They were composed, heavy words full of sentiment towards his old friend.

[The act of labeling something a success or a failure can wait until the results have been made clear, do you not agree?]

“The results have been made clear, Gerhardt. Fifteen years ago.”

[It has long been an unfortunate habit of yours, old friend, to neglect taking into account the time required for a subject’s maturation.]

Doctor, who had raised his head at some point, looked on at the viscount’s words with fearful anticipation.

“Hmph. And by your methods, how long is it that I’m supposed to wait for these results?”

[As long as it takes, so long as the will lives on. Even if the body should rot away, as long as another takes up the will of those who have lost their lives, the dead will once more have potential for growth.]

The viscount’s words had been drawn in a wall between Melhilm and Doctor, as though acting as a barrier for the latter. And despite the flipped perspective, Doctor felt as though the viscount’s speech was directed at him.

“Illogical as always, Gerhardt.” Melhilm chuckled bitterly. He looked down at Theo, who remained silent, and twisted his lips into a grin.

“...Interesting. Just try and save him if you can.”

Theo still could not give a response.


[In any event, Melhilm, I believe it will be for the best if you left this island for today.]

“...I suppose you are right. But... I will not be satisfied now unless I take care of Shizune and Watt while I still have the opportunity.”

[In your letter to him, did you not grant Watt complete absolution?]

“Not without the condition that should have been fulfilled. I have not yet reclaimed everything.” Melhilm laughed, and suggested to his old friend, “Gerhardt. Have you really no intention of cooperating with me? You know full well that Watt is after Relic’s powers because he considers you an obstacle.”

It was an honest offer, but it was as though Melhilm already knew Gerhardt’s answer.

And the viscount did not betray his expectations.

[Watt does indeed see me as his enemy, but he is also a man who, as mayor, loves his city deeply. I could never face the people of this island if I were to murder him on account of my personal fears. And as for Miss Shizune, she poses no particular threat to the people as of the moment, so I have no reason to treat her with hostility.]

“...Then I’ll just have to take that duty upon myself.” Melhilm said cooly, his tone belying the hatred swirling through his eyes. Just like Rudy, he was also a guest who had brought animosity to Growerth.

“Not to worry, Gerhardt. I am not like Sigmund or Caldimir. I do not--no. I will not allow innocent humans to become involved in my personal vendetta, unless it is for the good of the Organization.”

Remembering how he had escaped Shizune’s clutches by using the subjugated people as human shields, Melhilm hesitated slightly.

He turned around, not waiting for the viscount to respond.

But at that moment, he noticed his own shadow, casting into the depths of the cavern.

His shadow had taken on a strange tint.

But before that, he was struck by the fact that he cast such a striking shadow in the cavern, where light was coming from all directions. He instantly connected the dots and hurried to transform himself into a flock of bats.

A second later, a dark blue hand made of shadow reached upwards like a two-dimensional image reaching out to the third dimension, and tightly grabbed Melhilm’s shoulder.

“...The I-Shadow!”

His shoulder in the grip of an inhumanly long arm, Melhilm looked down at the shadow underneath.

But the attacker betrayed Melhilm’s expectations, not emerging from the shadow underneath but from behind him. Melhilm’s other shoulder was caught in a second arm.

“Checkmate, Melhilm.”

When he turned around, he found himself facing down a sharp-eyed Japanese man.

Melhilm looked around in shock, but other than Gerhardt, everyone looked just as surprised as he was. The man must have risen out of one of the other shadows cast in the cavern.

“...So you are here to take me back, Ishibashi?”

“My original mission was to stop Sigmund from wreaking havoc, but if you choose to act upon your personal grudge, I will take you back by force for the sake of the Organization.” Ishibashi said mechanically. Melhilm remained silent, perhaps still unwilling to give up and looking for a chance to transform and escape.

Noticing this, Ishibashi sighed.

“If you so much as try to transform into a flock of bats in order to flee, I will cut you down.”

At some point, he had drawn a bamboo sword and was holding it in a right hand.

The hand that was holding Melhilm’s shoulder was a right hand, but the mysterious arm that had risen from the shadows was also a right.

Then where was the left hand?

As some of those in the cavern began to ponder the question, the shadows cast not only under Melhilm, but against the ground and ceiling, and in corners the luminescent bacteria did not reach, all began to turn indigo.

And from each and every shadow rose up a two-dimensional image of a right hand holding a bamboo sword.

The two-dimensional shadow of the bamboo sword then rose up into the air, just like the right hand that was grasping Melhilm’s shoulder.

The solid shadow cut off light, creating yet more shadows, from which emerged even more right hands holding bamboo swords. They filled the cavern, propagating like rats.

But in spite of the veritable army growing to assist him, Ishibashi remained cold as ice.

“This may be only a bamboo blade. But a shadow needs no sharpness.”

Melhilm, surrounded by indigo silhouettes, smiled in defeat as he finally relaxed.

“To think you’d accompanied Dorothy to Growerth... How in the world did Caldimir present this mission to the officers?”

“What were you expecting from that third-rate actor?” Ishibashi sighed, also relaxing slightly and dismissing about half of the blades rising from the shadows. The remainder were testament to just how wary he was of Melhilm.

“My word. If I’d taken you on this mission instead of the two Eaters, retrieving Valdred would have taken no effort whatsoever.”

“I usually turn down such requests.” Ishibashi said, not a hint of reverence in his tone. He only showed such deference to the viscount.

Melhilm was unaffected by Ishibashi’s disrespectful tone. He sighed and bid farewell to Gerhardt.

“I suppose it’s time for me to be off, Gerhardt. Perhaps we will meet again one day in our unending lives.”

[I believe that time will come sooner that you might imagine, Melhilm.]

“...?”

Melhilm dwelled for a moment on the viscount’s claim, not quite understanding what he meant. But he seemed to have recalled something else, turning to his old friend with a different topic of discussion.

“Come to think of it, where is Dorothy? I believe she should have arrived sometime this evening.”

[Ah, yes. She has gone on to do business of her own. I’d have been quite content to spend some more time whispering of my love to her, but it wouldn’t do to keep her occupied.]

There was something rather lonely about the viscount’s font, but it was also firm with trust for his fiancee.

[After all, in some ways, she plays a critical role in tonight’s events.]


<=>


Neuberg City Hall. The Mayor’s Office.


The mayor sat at his desk with both elbows on the mahogany surface. He sighed loudly.

Having determined that he would gain nothing from becoming involved in the chaos, he had returned to his office.

“How’d things so? Everything get covered up all right?”

“Yes, sir. The humans’ memories of being turned into flocks of bats seem to be very vague. Most believe that the opening ceremony was merely canceled. Most of the confusion, it seems, stems from the fact that people found themselves in different places than they remembered, and at a much later time.”

“So they don’t remember a thing ‘bout being ordered around by Sigmund.”

The humans probably only perceived the singers’ concert being cut off. Or perhaps they felt as though they were just making their way out of a moment of hallucination.

But the confusion from the sudden movement of the humans seemed to be continuing. The incident on the thoroughfare with the cars probably wouldn’t be resolved so easily.

“The people who woke up in the middle of the road... If nobody’s hurt, we can just pass it off as one of those mass hallucinations. Call in a few counselors and make ‘em remember seeing orange lights, and the tourism industry might even get a revenue boost.”

It was the kind of statement that most people would reserve for a joke, but this man was capable--in more than one sense of the word--of putting this plan into action. The secretary knew he was serious from the cold look in his eye.

The secretary busied herself with thoughts of what was to come. But then,


“Looks like you got lucky, Watt.”


Shizune appeared behind him without a sound, just as she had several days earlier.

“What about?”

“Those people on the thoroughfare. If that charming gunman hadn’t stepped in, I’d have slaughtered them all. And then you’d have a bit of trouble on your hands for the next election.”

“...All I’d have to do then is accuse you of the whole goddamned thing. I could even forge records and frame you for terrorism, if you prefer.”

As they continued to make threats against one another, someone knocked on the door.

Watt was not scheduled to have any guests.

The secretary looked at the door curiously. The mayor brusquely addressed the person outside.

“C’mon in.”

The heavy office door slowly swung open.

And from behind it emerged...

“Yo. We meet again.”

“...It’s a pleasure to meet you. My name is Dorothy Nifas.”

A man with a holstered toy gun and a woman wearing a pristine white dress.

“Um... Sir, who are...?”

The secretary turned to Watt in confusion at the sight of the odd couple.

And for some reason, Watt flashed her a grin.

“I called ‘em here earlier on my cell phone. Though it’s my first time seeing the snow lady in person.”

“...Pardon?”

How would he call someone he had never met before, the secretary wondered, but her confusion was only worsened by Watt’s next statement:

“And you seriously gonna keep playing dumb? ‘Who are these people’? Gimme a fucking break.”

“Pardon?”

But before the secretary could say any more, Watt covered her mouth with his hand and smashed her against the wall behind her.

Her spine creaked. The back of her head was under immense pressure.

The secretary, grasping at consciousness, vaguely heard something coming from Watt’s mouth.

“You know exactly who these people are. Don’tcha? Fuck that Caldimir. Can’t believe he’s been planning this shit for so long.”

“...!”

‘This man... He knows who I am.’

“Who... Who told you about me?!”

“Take a guess. Anyway, good work ‘til today.” Watt said, ignoring the woman as her voice squeaked through his fingers. But he decided to pay her back for today’s humiliation, leaning in next to her ear and revealing the truth.

“Gerhardt was no good, but turns out I was the perfect man for the job. Laetitia decided I’d make things a little interesting tonight if I had her intel.”

Sigmund trembled in fury at the revelation of Laetitia’s betrayal.

‘Th-that vixen! ...After all Comrade Caldimir has done for her...!’

“Thank you. Please, leave the rest to me.” Dorothy said with a smile, placing a hand on Sigmund’s head.

The water in Sigmund’s cells began to freeze.

Watt felt a terrifying chill in the air next to him and stepped away. If he had kept his hand over Sigmund’s mouth, his arm would have been frozen solid.

The secretary’s head was covered with frost. The muscles encased in ice slowly began to lose their function.

The frost spread all over her body, and the chill froze the vampire where she stood.

“Comrade... Caldimir...... my....... my......... apologies......”

Several seconds after her voice faded, Sigmund Kiparis’s Trunk was covered in ice. The water in her body had frozen solid, preventing her from moving or even thinking.

“You might have been a little more adorable if you were more like your fellow plant vampires Val and Selim.” Dorothy said with a shake of the head, not yet realizing that Val had now become more frightening than even Sigmund.

Then, she turned to Watt for information pertaining to the most important part of her mission.


“By any chance, does this island have a refrigerated transport service?”


<=>


Several minutes passed.

Dorothy rolled up Sigmund in the rug that decorated the floor and left City Hall alongside Shizune. The latter quietly voiced her doubts, but Watt decided to ignore her.

‘So things’re finally gonna settle down. ‘Bout time.’ He thought, preparing to take a seat at his desk once more. But he realized that the blond gunman was still in the office.

“...What do you want?”

“Dunno how, but you knew about Sigmund. Mr. Gerhardt heard everything from Miss Dorothy over the phone, and he contacted me afterwards. Everyone’s snoring away now, but here’s the thing...” The gunman said plainly, ignoring Watt’s question, “Mr. Gerhardt thinks you mighta known ‘bout Rudy and Theresia, too. What do you have to say ‘bout that? Where’d that info come from?”

“Who they hell’re they?”

“I’ll just chill here ‘til you decide to remember.”

The gunman was here, not to assist in capturing Sigmund, but to keep Watt under watch. It was a measure to make sure that, if Watt knew everything about what was happening today, he would not be able to drink the blood of Rudy or Theresia. To prevent him from gaining Relic’s powers by drinking the blood of an Eater who had recently drunk Relic’s blood.

In other words, Bridgestone was under orders from the viscount to keep an eye out on Watt.

The mayor, realizing Bridgestone’s purpose, made a face and did not even try to hide it.

“Shit...” He swore without even thinking.

If Shizune, the jester, or the viscount were here to hear, they would have noticed something strange. There was something different about the way he swore this time. A different emotion contained in his tone.


And though no one had yet realized, the commotion was coming to an end.


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Epilogue


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4 comments:

  1. Whoooa, fast!
    Thanks for the quick work on this chapter.
    Must've felt like a breeze compared to last chapter. ;)

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  2. thanks for another great chapter

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  3. Thanks for the chapter. I don't know if you read past chapter's commentaries, but just today I put on last chapter's that I've found what the trouble was with Dorothy's surname.

    Basically, it's in Ancient Greek. In that language (and not modern Greek) "Nipha" means "snow" (there's a mountain in New Zealand called like that just because Greek was trendish at the time) and I know of a variety of orchid whose species name is "niphas" (so it would mean either "snowflake" or "of the snow", probably the first since it's a tropical plant). About writing it as "Nipas", that's because Ancient Greek's ph is even stronger that english ph (like in "phone") and therefore closer to the japanese ear to a p than to an f, since japanese f is very close to an h.

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  4. OWAAAHHHH i srsly loooove uuuuuu !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    thank u so much for the chapter !!!

    ReplyDelete