Trivia: Rudy, Theresia, and Melhilm are named after German filmmakers: Wim Wenders, Leni Riefenstahl, and Werner Herzog respectively. Is there any significance to this naming scheme? It is a mystery.
Anyway, Volumes II and III of Vamp! are finally finished.
Get the mobi version here, courtesy of Andyy.
Get the mobi version here, courtesy of Andyy.
Coming up next in the way of Narita works should be Vamp! IV, which features… a larger-than-usual cast, if that means anything to Narita veterans. Unfortunately, I don't have scans for this book or the one after it, and I won't have access to a scanner until next year, so you'll either have to put up with a text-only translation without any illustrations or wait until summer 2014 at the earliest for my craptastic scans. What would you prefer? Make your voice heard in the comments section! (Or better yet, direct me to full scans of the two books.)
In related news, I'll be taking a break from translation for a few weeks. I'm preparing for my move to Korea, and it'll take me some time to settle down and get everything in order.
As for my other projects, Allison will begin mid-September at the earliest, and I'm still (slowly) working on the second volume of About Death. *sigh*
Epilogue A - All Nights are Ended by Dawn
Underground, Waldstein Castle. The Execution Area.
The vampire without a body was merely present.
It felt as though his body was there, yet not.
Even after everyone had returned to their own places, Val’s consciousness was wandering the caverns.
That was when he heard a voice calling his name.
When he turned his senses towards the source of the voice, he saw a young girl standing there.
Even now, when he was free from the bounds of physical form and everything had been scrambled together, he thought the girl was lovely.
He could put words to his emotions.
‘I knew it. That emotion I felt the moment I was born... it was real. I wasn’t just imagining things when I was moved by seeing her for the first time.’
“Val...? Are you there?”
Remembering that she was calling his name, Val materialized his image before her. His powers worked in the same way as they had in the past. The only difference was that there was no longer a body around which he had to work.
“...Should we go, Selim? Or would tomorrow be better for you?”
Selim was taken aback by the unexpected question. But Val continued:
“Remember? I promised I’d show you around outside.”
Selim finally remembered his promise from earlier that day.
“Now, I can create illusions anywhere on this island, no matter how big they have to be. I can even make you look completely human. Although they’re still just illusions, though.” Val said sheepishly, but his tone soon grew shaky.
“I found myself this new form, if you could call it that. But to be honest, I don’t know how long it’ll last. For some reason, it feels like a single breeze could scatter me completely. I know I never liked being a watermelon... but it’s actually a bit scary, not having it around.” He said, and turned to Selim with pleading eyes, “so Selim... before that happens, please stay with me. Before I disappear, I want to--”
“That’s not going to happen! Val... that’s... that’s not going to happen. I... I drank your blood earlier, Val! And look at this!”
Selim stretched out her hands towards Val’s consciousness, revealing the contents of her cupped palms.
Ripened black watermelon seeds.
When Val’s body was smashed, Selim had panicked and gathered together the fragments of the watermelon. And once she realized that Val had abandoned his body, she drank through her roots the watermelon’s juices--Val’s blood. It was nothing more than an act of gathering nutrition as far as Val thought, but it meant something completely different to Selim.
“I’ve absorbed your blood, Val. So... so if you ever feel like you’re going to disappear, please come back inside me. And... and I’ll plant these watermelon seeds all over the island. I’ll fill this island with you, so Val...”
Selim had never looked so human, Val thought. He looked into her teary eyes.
“So Val... please. Let’s live on together.”
“Why, Selim...? Why are you going so far for my sake...?”
He wanted to know more about her.
Although it wasn’t quite the kind of thought that fit the situation at hand, Val felt as though he didn’t care about disappearing as long as he learned more about Selim.
And whether she understood this or not, Selim opened her mouth to tell him her story. She wanted to hold on to his heart for even a second more.
“Please... listen to my story. How I was born, and why I decided to look like a human. I’ve always wanted to tell someone. If I didn’t... I would end up forgetting one day if this was all real, or a story I made up in my head.”
Val nodded solemnly.
Now that he thought about it, this was the reason he had tried to get closer to her in the first place. But now, even though he no longer felt it necessary, Val wanted to listen to what Selim had to say.
Even one word more. For even one second more.
This was the first powerful desire he felt since he had taken on this new form of existence.
“Thank you, Selim.”
One look at her smile was enough for Val to realize how he felt about her.
And at that moment, the guardian spirit of Growerth smiled sheepishly.
Selim responded with a smile of her own.
And captivated by her radiance, Val finally put words to his emotions.
He would convey the fact of his heart--his existence--to Selim.
He mumbled to himself,
And gave her his answer.
“Let’s live on. Together.”
Epilogue B - All Days are Ended by Dusk
An underground conference hall, somewhere in Paris.
“...is what I hear. It’s ninety-percent over.” Laetitia said quietly, holding her cell phone in one hand.
“Sigmund was captured by Dorothy. We’ll get her in the mail eventually, although I’m almost concerned about who’s going to be the lucky recipient.”
In her other hand were several pieces of splintered wood, and pinned to the wall before her was Caldimir, still partly skewered with stakes.
“First you get my hopes up with a rescue, then you deliver bad news. What’s your game, Laetitia?”
“I was feeling merciful at this point. ...And I assume you’ll be able to get yourself off the wall now.”
Caldimir sighed and came down from the wall.
His arms and legs, pinned to the wall, were now free. The wounds covering his body were being quickly healed, new skin growing over his injuries.
“Damn it... First Relic, then Valdred. Why do these maddening powerhouses all gather on that godforsaken island?!”
“Ever heard of public esteem?”
“I refuse to acknowledge it. I refuse!”
Caldimir put on a look of disgust and clenched his fists. But the word ‘maddening’ seemed to have reminded him of something as he turned to Laetitia with a composed expression.
“Speaking of which... Rudy knows the truth now, doesn’t he? Doesn’t that mean there’s a chance of him turning on us?” He wondered nervously. But Laetitia shook her head.
“Correction. We could call him an even more subservient pawn at this point.”
“Hm? Did something happen to him?”
Taking delight in the misfortune of others, she gleefully divulged the Eater’s fate.
“Rudy and Theresia--”
A beach on southern Growerth.
As he lay on the sandy beach, Rudy looked up at the sky.
The stars were covered by a thick layer of clouds.
But from the blackness emerged Theresia.
His childhood friend. The girl who killed his sister, loved Theo, and brought him here from the cavern.
“I’m surprised you’re not saying anything to me.” She said.
Rudy was well enough to speak, at the very least. But he said nothing. He didn’t know what he should say, and he knew that nothing he said would heal his wounded heart.
But thinking that he should at least respond to Theresia, he carefully chose his words.
“We’ve been living under a curse.”
But he was really talking to himself, not Theresia.
The one from whom the words came was another self within his heart.
He had been saying this for many years now. For a very long time.
Theresia took hold of Rudy’s hand and pulled him to his feet. The latter stood and began to voice his thoughts.
“We’ve passed the point of no return. Now... all I have is my revenge. There’s nothing else I have to do; nothing else I want to do. I don’t even hate you for turning my sister to ashes. Because in the end, I’m the one who hated her.”
“But you haven’t abandoned your hatred of Theo, have you?”
Theresia already knew the answer when she asked the question. Rudy answered, and added a question of his own.
“No. I haven’t. But... why did you help me all this time, even though I was trying to get revenge on Theo?”
“Because... because I love him. I told you, I’m a jealous person.” Theresia said, intending to reveal everything, “I want to murder anyone who’s by his side, right before his eyes. All of them. That’s... what you were planning, too. Right?”
Theresia already knew Rudy’s answer. It was because she knew that she had walked at his side along the path of the Eater.
Though Rudy did not reply, Theresia continued. She would spill the dark emotions that had filled her heart all these years.
“I’m going to keep loving Theo until the end. So... you can spend the next hundred years torturing him, and I’ll give all my love to Theo, who’s going to be all alone. That... makes sense, right?”
Rudy quietly called her name, but said nothing more. Unable to name the complicated emotion swelling in his heart, he fanned the flames of hatred against Theo.
Not knowing that the emotion’s name was envy.
His childhood friend--his final pillar of support. Even she had been taken away by Theo. Rudy did not realize that he was nurturing envy in his heart.
Theresia said nothing, even after Rudy called her name. But she eventually smiled at him and held out her hand.
“Let’s go back. We can start over. Our lives, your revenge, and my love.”
“Yeah. You’re right...”
Rudy let himself fall into Theresia’s arms.
Now left with no option but to place his trust in the girl who killed his sister,
Rudy burst into tears in her embrace.
Without a single sob,
Without a single cry of anguish,
He wept so very silently.
Then, he was struck by agony.
The source of the pain became clear instantly.
But Rudy did not realize why this had happened.
Theresia’s right hand had been driven deep into his chest.
He felt something cold sliding down his back. It must have been the silver tip of her whip.
‘Did you hate me after all for wanting to make Theo suffer?’
But her confession earlier did not seem to be a lie. As Rudy tried to look ahead, lost in confusion, he spotted a small figure behind Theresia.
A young girl, standing all alone on the beach. She didn’t show an ounce of fear at the sight unfolding before her eyes.
Although Rudy had no way of knowing this, the girl was the same one who had visited the viscount, bumped into Val at the opening ceremony, and offered a deal to the mayor that night.
Rudy recognized her.
He had seen her several days earlier.
The one vampire he had been unable to kill at the massacre in the mine. Theresia had run after her into the shaft to finish her, but,
‘It can’t be...’
A momentary lapse in pain gave way to a flood of fear, pulsating in time with his heartbeat.
And the moment he looked at Theresia’s eyes, his fears became a reality.
She wore an empty expression, just like the humans who had been subjugated by Sigmund. Her eyes were hazy and unfocused, not even looking in Rudy’s direction.
The moment he came to the realization, Rudy coughed up a great deal of blood. It covered Theresia’s face in red.
His legs were trembling, unable to sustain his weight any longer. The moment Theresia removed her arm, he would fall in a heap on the ground.
Theresia mechanically withdrew her hand.
Rudy was led by gravity, falling face-first into the sand as he felt the sensation of being sucked into the ground.
His senses were still perfectly functional. The cool touch of the sand, his own warm blood, and the excruciating pain in his chest... But it was the pain alone that filled his thoughts.
“Now do you know what it feels like to lose?” The little girl finally said as Rudy lay prone on the beach.
She sneered at him with hatred clear in her eyes.
“...You know, I was the real ringleader in that mine.” She said, “I’m not much of a fighter, but I have a knack for subjugation. If it’s just one measly person, I could subjugate them with a tiny scratch. I normally have my loyal servants pretend to be the leader, but I never thought they’d be massacred by someone like you.”
Rudy was no longer listening, but the girl didn’t seem to care.
“Just when this girl was about to kill me, she looked down for a moment and apologized. I didn’t let my chance slip by. That’s all.”
The girl licked the blood staining Theresia’s hand. And with a smile, she licked the blood on Theresia’s face and drank it down.
“I’m an old acquaintance of the viscount, you know. I needed his permission if I wanted to take revenge while I was on this island. So I made a deal with him. In exchange for handing over information about you to him, I would get permission to take revenge here. On the condition that I didn’t harm any of the islanders, of course.”
Rudy had no idea what the girl’s strange actions just now meant. Why was she drinking his blood, spilled onto Theresia?
But even if he knew the answer to his questions, he was powerless to do a thing.
The girl pressed her foot down on his back. And with an innocent smile, she spat out words filled with venom.
“...Let me tell you something good before you go. Everything Theresia said just now was true. Everything she said in the cavern and the beach! I only activated my subjugation now. Just one teensy second before she stabbed you in the gut. I was going to do it a little earlier, but you don’t know how lucky it was for me that it was just the two of you left here!”
The girl’s tone suddenly shifted. Drowning in her own glee, she laughed maniacally as she plunged her fingernails into Rudy’s wound.
“Ahahahahahaha! Why don’tcha cry some more and weep like a bitch?! C’mon! Whine like a dog and beg for mercy!”
But Rudy’s body had already lost the capacity to feel. Not even his reflexes were functioning.
The girl looked at his prone form and spat, annoyed.
“So you’re already dead, huh? Seriously seriously seriously soooooooooooooo boring and stupid and annoying and dumb!”
But as she went for the kill,
‘It’ made land with a thunderous roar.
A strange creature about five meters in length splashed and flailed as it slid in from the sea and halfway up the beach.
It looked almost like a gigantic shark, but there was something quite different about it.
This was not the natural form of any fish. Most nauseating of all was its eyes.
Countless eyeballs were clustered together like those of an insect’s, creating a pair of eyeballs about forty centimeters in diameter. The smell of rotting fish permeated the air. The weak of heart might have vomited or lost consciousness by this point.
The ‘thing’ finally came to a full stop. Its back split open, and from the gap emerged a dark figure.
The creature covered in black spun their head around and said to themselves:
“I’m so tired. I am.”
The bandaged figure stepped down onto the beach and looked back at the monstrous fish that had encapsulated them. They then uttered:
At that point, the mass of flesh and bones began to foam at the surface. It was as though the entire body was competing to see which part would rot first, as it quickly crumbled.
The sticky pieces of flesh melted into the sand with a sickening odor, and soon turned into a mass like a pile of putrid food and decomposed on the beach.
As the figure in black watched their vehicle crumble, they also glared at Rudy and the girl.
“...Did you see something just now? Did you see? You’re better off not remembering. You’re better off.”
The moment the girl caught a glimpse of the look in the figure’s eye, she began trembling like a leaf.
An emotion she thought she would never again feel thanks to her newfound powers--the emotion called fear--swept through her like a gust of wind.
‘This is bad.’
Through the Eater, she had just taken hold of Relic von Waldstein’s absolute power. And yet--no, because she had become so powerful, she was able to sense the danger emanating from this figure.
‘This vampire is trouble. I can feel it.’
Even if the girl were to fight from the most advantageous of positions, the bandaged vampire’s chilling aura implied that they might utilize a kind of fighting style far removed from that of Relic’s.
“...Let us go, Theresia.” The girl said elegantly, her calm restored by the chill emanating from the newcomer. She switched her tone so quickly she could probably give the mayor a run for his money.
The subjugated Eater nodded with empty eyes. She took hold of the girl’s arm and leapt from the beach, disappearing into the distance in one bound with her enhanced strength.
She left without so much as a glance--or a word of goodbye--at the childhood friend she had mutilated.
Meanwhile, Rudy’s heart had already stopped beating.
The blood supply was cut off from his brain. All he had to do now was wait in silence for his consciousness to fade.
Now certain of his own death, the boy found himself filled with a surprising sense of calm.
‘Ah... I... I’m going to disappear now. Yeah. I’m finally... finally going to disappear.’
Curiously enough, his consciousness smiled at his newfound peace. He was elated that his hatred of Theo, his resentment stemming from Elsa, and his anger at himself was finally going to fade.
‘Yeah... I think this is what I’ve wanted all this time.
‘The one I wanted to kill most... was myself.
‘So... this is enough.’
But for some reason, even though his sense of hearing had ceased to function, he heard a voice as though he was hallucinating.
“Huh? What’s this? What’s this? Aren’t you Rudy the Nidhogg? Aren’t you? Then that girl just now was Theresia? She was? I lost her? This is no good. No good at all.”
Knowing that the collapsed Eater was part of the Organization, Garde pulled up his body.
“But why are you dying now? Why are you?”
Even more blood drained from Rudy’s brain as his head was pulled upwards. His vision went dark.
“I have to save you now. I have to!”
No longer able to feel the sense of touch, Rudy had no idea what was happening to him. He felt as though something had flowed into his body from his neck, but at this point, he was unable to even sense temperature.
But there was one thing he sensed for certain. He heard Garde’s one-word command.
The moment the word registered in his mind, his every cell obeyed.
And Rudy opened his eyes.
Not knowing what had happened, he realized that the wounds that had covered his body were gone. Even the pain had disappeared.
“For now, you’re my subordinate. You are. From today on, you’re going to take orders from me. You are.”
Rudy looked up at the owner of the voice. He recognized this vampire, having seen them once or twice at the Organization. Caldimir had warned him to stay away from this particular officer.
“I don’t know what happened here. I don’t. But did you really think you’d be happy once you died? Did you think you could die?”
The bandaged figure questioned Rudy as though having read his mind.
“No, no, no. You are our dog. You are. Dogs don’t kill themselves. Nope. Understand? Super-clear? You’re a sin, you know. You Eaters are a sin to us vampires. If you ate a hundred vampires, you have to save a hundred vampires. If you ate a thousand vampires, you have to do all their work for us. Redemption. Let’s call it redemption.”
‘No... Please, no! How... how much longer do I have to suffer through this? ...No... Kill me... Please, kill me!’
As the hound attempted to talk back, the bandaged figure smiled gleefully. They cast a single spell to make a dog out of the dog.
“...Don’t run away.”
The moment the command reached Rudy’s body and soul, he remembered the viscount’s final words to him. A series of letters in red, looking for all the world like a death sentence.
[After all, you are already trapped in the cycle of vengeance and repentance... for all eternity.]
The moment he finally understood the meaning of his words, the one-man army--now a dog of the bandaged vampire--broke out into anguished sobs.
But Garde gave no ear to the Eater’s cries, happily speaking from underneath the bandages.
“All right. All right. I’m going to have you tell me. What happened on the island? How much of the problem did Mister Gerhardt manage to solve? Tell me everything! With lots of details!”
Garde’s demands reached Rudy’s ears in the midst of his sobs. They filled his very cells, not permitting insubordination of any kind.
But Garde Ritzberg had made a careless mistake.
Moments before he had approached Rudy, a single bat had latched onto Rudy and sucked his blood.
The girl had noticed the bat, and was about to destroy it immediately.
But spared by Garde’s sudden intrusion, the bat that had feasted on Rudy’s blood soared into the skies unharmed.
It returned to the body for which it beat--the place it truly belonged.
Neuberg City Hall. The mayor’s office.
“How long you planning to crash here, asshole?”
“Who knows? Probably ‘til I get word from Miss Dorothy.” Bridgestone said, not even looking at Watt as he answered.
Watt looked disgusted, but he seemed to have wanted a change of pace. He stepped over to the window and opened it.
A cool breeze blew into the office. Bridgestone finally turned to Watt.
“Hey. If you’re gonna fly off in a flock, I’ll shoot you down before you get off the ground. And if you’re just gonna jump out, I’ll still shoot you down before you hit the ground. Sorry, but I’m too good to miss.” He warned, but his eyes caught sight of something flying in from the outside.
The creature was a perfectly ordinary bat. With the exception of its eerie human eyes.
The familiar bat disappeared into Watt’s silhouette as he stood facing the window, before being sucked into his chest.
‘What was that?’ Bridgestone was about to ask, but at that moment, the entire office was gripped by a chill.
It was as though something had materialized in the room out of nothing.
Slowly, Watt turned around and repeated himself.
“How long you planning to crash here, asshole?”
Several seconds later.
One of the office windows shattered, and a man was sent flying.
The blond-haired, blue-eyed man fell head-first to the ground, already unconscious before the impact.
Watt had defeated an officer of the Organization in a matter of moments. Although this would not be enough to kill the man, Watt no longer had any room for defeat. No amount of overconfidence or disdain for others would be a weakness now.
But even as he savored his newfound powers, Watt did not lose himself to conceit. For now, all he did was laugh.
“Heh. Heh heh...”
Relishing in the sensation of crawling up from the depths, he laughed and laughed and laughed.
“Ahaha... Hahahahahahah! Ahahahahahaha!”
The shattered glass fragments from his window were transformed into a flock of countless bats before they hit the ground.
“Amazing... All this knowledge about using these powers is flooding into my head...! Ahaha! Hahahahah!”
The bats swarmed towards the window frame, and the sheet of glass was back where it was supposed to be in a matter of seconds.
Relic von Waldstein was the apex of power, the product of years of the Organization’s research.
Drunk on himself, who had taken hold of this power, Watt laughed out loud in the deserted office.
Imagining the places he would now climb to,
The petty villain, possessed of power, did nothing but laugh.
Laughter was all that filled his thoughts.
The sound of his voice echoed across the island, announcing the birth of a new power like the cries of a newborn.
Epilogue C - In the Space Between Night and Day
Neuberg Central Hospital. The surgical ward.
It had been three weeks since the incident on the island.
The first night of the Carnale Festival had been interrupted by the commotion, but the rest of the festivities had gone off without a hitch.
By the final day of the celebrations, very few were still concerned about the mysterious incidents from the first day. Those who knew of the viscount and the vampires of the castle understood implicitly that something must have happened, and began to claim that the incident that day was a planned part of the opening ceremony. The rumor circulated among the festival-goers in the exuberance of the celebrations, and the commotion was slowly brought under control.
Meanwhile, Mihail had finally been moved out of the intensive care unit, and was now allowed to have visitors.
The vampires had, of course, come to see him before regardless of hospital regulations. But in conversations, they had always been on their toes for fear of worsening his condition. Now, they could finally pay him a proper visit.
The news spread like wildfire, and one after another, guests came to visit Mihail in the hospital.
During the day and the evening, Mihail greeted his parents and a flood of classmates. He had told his friends that he was injured in a car accident, preventing the word about vampires from getting out. Of course, Mihail would personally have no qualms about such a thing.
In fact, the biggest problem seemed to be the fact that Hilda went through great pains dealing with the fallout from their parents. And as they finally made the decision to pack up and leave the island for good, Mihail managed to convince them otherwise with this argument:
“Ma. Pop. Remember how you hired those Hunters last year and they made a big mess? Now we can call it even. Actually, I guess you can’t make anything even with stuff like this. And besides, Ferret didn’t do anything wrong.”
It grew late, and even his parents returned home. There was very little time now until visiting hours ended.
That was when a different group of guests came to see him.
It was eight in the evening, and the front desk was closed. A large group of vampires was walking through the surprisingly quiet halls.
“So we’re here to see Mihail. But what exactly are we supposed to do?”
“Leave him a present and go, I guess.”
“I brought him some dirty books.”
“Perfect. You’re gonna slip ‘em behind his pillow, right?”
“That’s when Ferret finds the books.”
“Mihail gets punched.” “She punches him so hard his injuries open up again.” “He has to stay in the hospital even longer.” “Ferret comes to visit him every day.” “Their love deepens.” “And then the dirty book starts not looking so dirty after all.” “A special nighttime healing session.” “Romance time in the hospital!” “Heh heh heh... I like the sound of this.”
As the conversation degenerated, the vampires turned the corner to the door to Mihail’s room. There they ran into several others who had come even earlier. Relic, Hilda, Grandmother Job, and Mage.
“Hey! What’re you all--”
But the man stopped himself before he could finish his question.
The people gathered outside the hospital room had simultaneously glared at him and gestured for silence. It looked more like a command than a request, so the group of vampires were half-frightened into approaching slowly without a sound.
Their powerful ears caught the conversation coming from within the room.
“...I’m so happy I’m in the hospital, Ferret.”
“What a foolish thought.”
“C’mon, Ferret. Nothing makes me happier than watching you peel apples for me.”
“If you are incapable of imagining normal happiness, you must be truly lacking in imagination, Mihail.”
Ferret was in the room alone with Mihail, sullenly peeling apples as the latter lay in his bed. There was an awkward tension in the air.
Ferret was not yet used to using a fruit knife. On occasion, she worriedly looked at her clumsily-peeled apples and brought the knife to them once more.
It was a perfectly mundane series of actions, but Mihail seemed for all the world to be on cloud nine. He smiled--almost like a saint--and mumbled:
“Nothing makes me happier than being with you, Ferret.”
Mihail had said much the same thing many times in the past.
Normally, Ferret might have snapped back at him by this point. But for some reason, she remained silent.
Mihail wondered if he had done something wrong, and thought went over what he had just said in his head.
‘Did I say something weird while I was half-asleep? Or... wait. I wonder if she’s still jealous about how Val transformed into her and gave me a kiss last year? Man, that’s kind of sweet! Heheheh.’
As his thoughts gave way to fantasies, Mihail found himself quickly dragged back into reality by Ferret’s declaration.
“...I still have not yet conveyed my thanks, have I?”
“I... wish to show you my gratitude for rescuing me that day.”
‘What? I rescued her?’
He was the one who had been saved, Mihail wanted to say, but so determined was Ferret’s expression that he could not say a word.
Her stiff formality was nowhere to be found. Ferret was addressing Mihail as a girl her own age should.
“Thanks, Mihail. For everything.”
The girl shyly averted her gaze. It was a gesture she never allowed herself to use under normal circumstances. That alone was enough to make Mihail blush as red as a tomato. In fact, he was silenced for a moment.
But Mihail soon put on a smile like before and said in a serious tone:
“Then... Ferret, could I ask for just one thing?”
Ferret was taken aback, but answered.
“...If that wish is within the realm of possibility.”
“Let’s go to next year’s Carnale Festival together.”
“...You truly know no greed, Mihail.” Ferret sighed, astonished. But there was a hint of a smile on her lips. “But that’s why I’ve always...”
She trailed off, turning her attention once more to the task of peeling apples.
Then, she steeled her resolve and made to re-conjure the words she had been about to dismiss.
But at that moment, her acute sense of hearing noticed everything around her. The sound of Mihail’s heart beating, and the sound of everyone in the hall gulping in unison.
It was only then that Ferret noticed the many presences in the hallway. She took to her feet, knife in hand, and slammed open the door.
Huddled there were later arrivals like werewolves, witches, and maids in plainclothes, along with many others she knew well. In all, about thirty of the island’s residents had been listening intently to the conversation in the room.
“...What... what is the meaning of this, Honored Brother?”
Relic, who had been at the head of the group of eavesdroppers, averted his eyes from his sister (who wore a look of utter shame and indignity) and mumbled an excuse.
“Well, uh... we all happened to meet up at the lobby just now! And... um... we just got here, and I was about to open the door!”
Ferret’s usually pale face was dyed a deep pink, just like a human’s. Perhaps some sort of emotional stimulus had spurred her blood to move through telekinesis. But no one had to make such an analysis in order to see that Ferret’s mortification was giving way to outrage.
“Uh. Well. Excuse us.”
The freeloading vampires began to briskly walk away, but they bumped into the werewolves standing behind them and dropped their gift for Mihail.
Ferret found her eyes drawn to the books falling to the floor.
And so began a night of outlandish commotion at the hospital.
“It’s nice to hear all this noise.” Mihail said with a smile as Relic slipped away from the confusion and came to his bedside. The former’s grin was unchanged, in spite of his many injuries.
“I’m a little worried about them making such a racket at the hospital, though.” Relic said, but at this point the sounds were still soft enough to avoid being intrusive. Currently, Hilda and the jester were desperately trying to stop Ferret as she choked the freeloading vampires.
“Feeling better now?
“Yeah. My right hand and leg still don’t move that well, though.”
So casual was Mihail’s response that it took a moment before Relic grasped the gravity of his friend’s physical state.
How badly had Mihail been injured? How much longer would it be until he could move again? Mihail’s words provided precious little insight to any of these questions.
“They said my leg’s going to get better after I do some rehab. And my arm... We won’t know ‘til the bone heals. Heh. But you know, even if my right hand never moves again, I’m real thankful to it--now I can go to the Carnale Festival with Ferret next year!”
“Mihail... Don’t say things like that. You’re going to be fine. Otherwise... you won’t be able to illustrate that storybook about Ferret.” Relic said hoarsely. But Mihail’s reply was as cheerful as ever.
“Heh. If my right hand stops working, I’ll practice so I can draw with my left. And if I can’t do that, I’ll paint holding the brush between my teeth. My dreams aren’t gonna die just because I got beaten up by that armor guy.”
Relic knew that Mihail was neither bluffing nor trying to console him. Mihail truly had Ferret in mind as he spoke. And so, Relic dropped the topic of his health.
He took a seat by the bed and bowed his head.
“What, you too, Relic?”
“I wanted to thank you properly. As Ferret’s brother, and as Lord of Waldstein Castle. And also as your friend. Thank you so much, Mihail.”
Mihail looked away, embarrassed. He tried to change the subject and returned to Relic’s statement.
“Right... I don’t know the details, but I did hear you became the new Lord.”
“Not like anything’s really changed, though.”
“Come to think of it, what about the viscount? Is he holed up in the castle now, enjoying his retirement? Spending all his time on the internet?”
Relic stumbled as he tried to find a good way to word his response.
“Right now... he’s not on the island.”
An underground conference hall, somewhere in Paris.
“...Ahem. Let us begin proceedings.”
“So why’re you acting all high-and-mighty again, Caldimir?”
Dozens upon dozens of vampires were seated at chairs draped in all sorts of colors.
Caldimir’s practiced call to order was interrupted by Bridgestone, but the former ignored his fellow officer and began the conference.
“Dear god... The attendance rate today surpasses even that of our last conference! Of course. Of course! You finally acknowledge my power! You finally understand who is truly superior to you all! A wise decision indeed. Muahahaha...”
“Mwa ha ha my ass. I swear, you and Watt both. I’ll mess you up good one of these days.”
Caldimir’s attitude had reminded Bridgestone of his defeat at Watt’s hands a month earlier.
He had been retrieved by his brother in the aftermath of the one-sided battle, but he had lost his temper on the ferry to the mainland, demanding, “LET ME GO! I’LL MURDER THAT BASTARD, I SWEAR!”. In the end, even Ishibashi (who had held him back with his shadows) was taken to the police station once they reached the mainland.
Whether he knew this or not, Caldimir confidently surveyed the conference hall.
He took great delight at the nearly-full seats, before he realized that one of the empty chairs had been draped with a red cloth.
‘Revolting. I don’t remember ordering for a red seat.’
His good mood soured by thoughts of Gerhardt, Caldimir opened his mouth to order the removal of the chair.
But at that moment, Laetitia stood from the orange seat and called out in a commanding voice:
“Attention! Friends, I introduce you to a new addition to our ranks!”
Caldimir’s confusion went ignored as the conference hall was filled with a round of enthusiastic applause.
Never in his life had Caldimir been the subject of such a cheer. Upset by this, he angrily turned to Laetitia.
“What is the meaning of this, Laetitia. You never told me about any new officers!”
“That would be because I said nothing to you.”
“How dare you...”
As Caldimir seethed in rage, something in his line of sight flickered.
The red cloth that had been draped over the empty seat began to squirm. Caldimir quickly realized under the lights that the ‘cloth’ was of a completely different texture than he had assumed. He froze.
“It... it can’t be...!”
Though Caldimir hoped against hope that this was nothing more than a bad dream, the red pool of liquid slid into the air and wrote in large letters:
[Good day to you all, my dear friends! It has indeed been much too long! In fact, I see many new faces here today. For the sake of such officers, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Gerhardt von Waldstein! In the distant past, I was a part of the Organization. I had left my post for a time to fulfill my personal responsibilities, but now that I have returned in one piece, I shall pour heart and soul into the task of bettering the Organization!]
The viscount’s grandiose speech was met with another impassioned round of applause.
In the midst of the noise, Gerhardt separated a small part of himself, and wrote to the man sitting in the violet seat:
[Did I not say we would meet sooner than you expected, Melhilm?]
Melhilm chuckled bitterly at his old friend and said,
“...Irrational as usual, Gerhardt.”
“Why... why did I not know about this?!” Caldimir cried, his panic escalating. But no one in the conference hall would answer his question. He was without allies; Sigmund almost never attended their meetings, and Laetitia was currently at the viscount’s side.
But the viscount decided to respond, writing out in Russian to Caldimir:
[I’d just passed on my position to my son, you see. With all this time on my proverbial hands, I thought I might return to the company of my old friends and acquaintances!]
“You think I’ll just accept this, Gerhardt?!”
[Speaking of which, Caldimir...]
Ignoring Caldimir’s howls of rage, the viscount simply continued to write.
[Make no mistake; do not think that I hold no anger against you, Caldimir.]
It was quite unusual to hear such unfriendly words from the viscount. Caldimir groaned.
[But as we are now allies--fellow members of the Organization--I shall not loose my displeasure upon you.]
“Hmph... You hypocrite.”
Caldimir seemed to be put at ease by the viscount’s attitude, quickly putting on a new face.
But the viscount would not let him pass without taking vengeance.
[Ah, of course... I happened to notice, Caldimir, that you have once more made several errors during the distribution of invitations. So I took it upon myself to invite Black, Mirror, Gold, Silver, Pearl, Clear, and Sepia!]
Before Caldimir could fully process the viscount’s claim, a hand wrapped in black bandages suddenly touched his back.
“Why didn’t you get me a seat? Why didn’t you? Where are our seats? Where are they?”
Caldimir could not bring himself to turn around. The Black Gravekeeper’s voice had appeared out of nowhere.
“Lots more people are here today, you know? Lots more people! They’re all really really looking forward to talking to you. They are! Out in the hallway waiting for you!”
A glint of fury made home in Garde’s eyes. When Caldimir looked over he shoulder and at the half-ajar door, he saw the officers he had neglected to invite--those he did not wish to meet--smiling belligerently outside.
Caldimir could feel his consciousness go faint. The man in the yellow seat was saying something, but it was beginning to sound foggy.
Ishibashi, sitting in the indigo seat, decided that he would not take part this time. He watched his brother and began to quietly pray for Caldimir’s soul.
Of course, this did not mean he would go in to help Caldimir.
As the Blue Flow of Blood was dragged into the hallway, Laetitia shook in ecstasy.
In other words, there was little out of the ordinary at today’s conference.
“I see. So that is the kind of man Gerhardt is.” Tromm Ed Romans the Dark Grey said, listening to the uproar in the hallway. The trembling creature turned to the pristine white vampire next to him.
“...He is indeed a difficult man to understand.” He said. It was not clear if he was showing disdain or respect.
But Dorothy smiled brightly and nodded.
“Isn’t he just wonderful?”
Epilogue D - And as for the Sinner...
Waldstein Castle, Laboratory.
In the lab, the white coffin sighed before the large cauldron.
Even though she now knew that his true name was Theodosius,
Even though she now knew that his strange, elderly attitude would never return,
And even though she now knew everything he had to tell, to Professor, Doctor was still no one but himself.
After the incident, Doctor had locked himself in his room in the laboratory.
He spent days upon days in there, neither eating nor drinking blood.
Several concerned visitors dropped by to see him, but he refused to answer their calls.
But finally, just as Professor was contemplating breaking down his door, he emerged from his room with his eyes puffy and red.
<D-Doctor! Are you all right, Doctor?! Please be okay!>
Professor quickly reached out to support the staggering boy, and slowly sat him down in a nearby chair.
“I... I was having a dream.”
The boy laughed masochistically, looking down upon the body that would live on even after being denied food or drink--his own.
“In my dream... I saw everything I’d done since that day fifteen years ago. I murdered humans... sucked their blood... burned down entire villages... laughed while I destroyed everything... and in the end, I... I betrayed my friends. I laughed as I betrayed them.”
“I know. I know dying won’t be enough to make up for all my sins. But it’s the same for living. I can’t repent for my crimes even as I live. And if nothing I do will change that... maybe I should just suffer and disappear from the world.”
His empty chuckling had turned to tears of horror. They dripped down his face as he cried like a child of his physical age.
“But... I still want to help them.”
As he wept, he revealed his selfish desires.
“Rudy and Theresia... They were the first people to call me a friend. I stabbed them in the back and took away everything from them. But... but if it’s all right, I...”
With great difficulty, Doctor choked back his sobs. He sought salvation at the hands of the coffin, one who did not know first-hand of his crimes. Just like the barber who had seen the king’s donkey ears, he was compelled to spill his secrets to someone who knew nothing.
“I... I want them to find happiness.”
<...How could you say that...? Oh, Doctor... you’re awful...>
It seemed as though Professor was rebuffing him. But Doctor did not try to correct her.
“I know that nothing I do will ever be enough to make up for what I’ve done. But... but I’m still wandering, looking for someone to act as my judge. I... I want someone to pass judgement on me. I want someone to punish me--hand down my sentence. I... I want to repent and be forgiven...”
He was a monster in the shape of a human child.
When the monster awoke from the intoxicating influence of destruction, he brought a curse upon himself.
That curse stole something away from him.
Punishment had been removed from the boy’s world.
He would never again be allowed to find redemption.
Neither a child,
Nor an adult.
The monster stuck between the two worlds was left to suffer for eternity.
And now, the monster was professing his pain to the coffin at his side.
He was wandering a road without destination, seeking the punishment he had surely earned.
He pressed forward, showered with curses on his nigh-immortal life.
He continued on, knowing that no punishment would absolve him of his sins.
<...You’ve got something wrong, Doctor.>
Doctor’s wandering thoughts were quickly brought back to reality by the voice coming from the speakers.
<You don’t need to be worthy of anything to save people! You don’t need to get permission to save your friends!> She cried, desperately conveying her emotions to the boy who had brought her salvation, <so please... please let me help you, Doctor!>
There was firm strength in her words, but to Doctor, it almost sounded as though Professor was crying. Though she had neither tears nor a face through which she could convey her emotions, and even though her voice sounded so energetic, Doctor was certain that she was in tears.
<I don’t have anything to offer, but please... let me help you, Doctor!>
Was he just imagining things? Was his subconscious that selfish and desperate for someone who would cry for his sake?
Unable to acknowledge or deny Professor’s request, Doctor looked at her, tears streaming down his face.
No matter where he ran, he would be faced with the same conclusion. But Doctor knew that he could still reach out a hand to others--even if he was never forgiven. With this in mind, he silently made a vow.
He would save Rudy and Theresia. He would never give up on them.
And once he had completed this task, he would accept all that awaited him.
Before he knew it, his tears had run dry.
“Thank you, Professor.”
Having repeated himself,
The sinner smiled sadly.
An Extraneous Exchange. A certain mayor’s phone call.
<...So if that bandaged man is also part of Caldimir’s Organization, I need more pawns. I need more pawns if I want to destroy that disgusting gathering.>
“...And so you came crawling to me for help. You’re pretty smart, I’ll give you that, but who the hell do you think I am? I’m an Organization member.”
<But you’ve already sold me information on the Organization in exchange for information on Theresia. And besides... My superior’s a human. One that’s much more useful to you than Caldimir.>
“...Listen up, you pissy brat. One. Fucking. Deal. That was as far as I was willing to go. And about what happened--you tried to snuff out my bat back there, you bitch. If it wasn’t for that black thing, I’d actually have been hurt.”
<What? Aww, don’t be like that, Handsome! I’m not a bad girl-->
“Go to hell and pay off my crimes while you’re at it. Then you can feel free to kick the bucket like the bitch you are.”
<Wait! Don’t hang up! We’re friends, you know? Friends who gained the same power.>
“...I don’t see why I gotta share. You and Relic both are nothing but fucking nuisances to me.”
<...Same to you, mayor. I plan to use you for all your worth before killing you.>
“That’s actually a bit surprising. I was planning to kill you before I used you. ...But points for thinking along that line.”
<You know... I hate losing, too.>
-Vamp! II+III End-