Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Vamp! V - Interlude 2

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

The next update's going to take a while because of real life. Thanks for your patience.

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Interlude 2 - The Liquid Gentleman Doth Speak!


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Southern Germany. Inside a truck.


[Ah, this quest of rescue reminds me of the day we first encountered the brothers Indigo and Yellow. I still possessed a humanoid body, and Grandmother Job was still quite lovely in form.]

The pool of blood squirming in the back of the truck—Gerhardt von Waldstein—wrote out a series of words in midair.

A man of aristocratic bearing, who sat elegantly on a black coffin, snorted.

“Fondly reminiscing about the past is a sign of old age, Gerhardt. Though our bodies never change, there’s nothing to be done for the aging of the heart.”

[Now, now, old friend. I am merely thrilled at my first large-scale conference in years.]

There were many other vampires in the back of the truck. It had been decided at the conference in the estate of Romy Mars that these vampires would head to a city in southern Germany to protect a certain girl. But because of the range of speeds the individuals were capable of—in fog and bat form—they were put into several trucks to be transported to their destination together.

Some vampires spoke amongst themselves, while others slept. Everyone was doing something different, and the expressions on their faces ranged from trepidation to excitement.

[Now, all that is left for us to do is safely rescue the girl being targeted by the Eaters. If we fail in this mission, tonight’s conference will have been for naught.]

Melhilm sighed.

“You could never pass up an opportunity to help others. What good does saving one human girl do?”

[And you could never stop yourself from discrimination—rather, differentiation. I’ve told you countless times, Melhilm, but there is little difference between humans and vampires. There are parts of either that can be respected, and they can even come to love one another.]

“The result of one such union being that piece of scum.”

[Who might you be referring to?]

Gerhardt’s body sloshed to the side, as though expressing confusion.

Melhilm sighed at Gerhardt’s sincere confusion and answered him.

“Who else? The mayor of your island.”

[There are multiple mayors on the island of Growerth, but judging from your comment about his parentage, I suppose you were referring to Watt Stalf.]

“Who else?”

Melhilm glanced out the tarpaulin covering the bed of the truck, annoyed at the thought of Watt and Shizune. Gerhardt trembled in surprise.

[I fear I must object to your label. A petty villain Watt Stalf may be, but not a ‘piece of scum’.]

“What’s the difference?”

[Melhilm. It has long been an unfortunate habit of yours to underestimate those who show you enmity. Watt did indeed pull in Miss Kijima Shizune to attack you, even while he was your subordinate. …Ah, I suppose this alone might earn him the name you called him by, but I ask you to calm yourself for now.]

“Don’t forget that you were nearly frozen to death as well.”

Gerhardt and Melhilm were the same in that they had nearly lost their lives at Watt’s hands.

But their attitudes toward the man were completely different.

[That was due entirely to my own negligence. I don’t mean to brag, but the people of Growerth have rather high standards. No trickery of a so-called piece of scum could possibly get him elected to the mayor’s seat.] Gerhardt said plainly. Melhilm thought for a moment.

“I was certain he’d used his powers or pulled something underhanded to take that seat.”

[He did no such thing… is what I would like to say, but in any case… I will say this: the large majority of his political success is due to his honest efforts. Although I personally wish that he would invest more effort into improving our tourism sector, I suppose it is quite laughable for someone like me to intrude in human politics in the first place.]

“There are quite a few vampires in smaller countries who try to control the government from the shadows. Although most fail, of course.”

[Ah, it is indeed most laughable. In any case, in the case of the mayoral elections, Watt Stalf was elected with the lawful and honest support of the people.]

Tilting his liquid body, Gerhardt returned the conversation to the topic of Watt.

[He is a petty man indeed, but also an upright one. A noble petty villain. No mere petty villain would challenge to a duel a vampire he had met for the first time.]

“A duel?” Melhilm frowned. The viscount nostalgically mused about his past.

[Ah… How many years has it been, now? When we first met, Watt attempted to kill me. He wanted to kill me and take a position of absolute power over the vampires of Growerth. I suppose this is a lawful and honest method of gaining power as well, at least in our world.]


<=>


The past. Waldstein Castle.


[Ah, so you are the dhampyr of whom Lorenz spoke.]


That was the beginning.

And the first thing Watt said to the vampire who ruled over Growerth—

“…Real fucking polite of you. Now shaddap and show me your main body, asshole. Or is the almighty Lord of Waldstein Castle a piss-weak brat who likes playing hide-and-seek? Or a retarded fuckwad who’s too chicken-shit to show his mug in front of a monster?”

It was not something anyone would have expected out of a young man surrounded by a dozen hostile vampires and werewolves.

[Hah hah hah. You would be the one hundred and thirty-fifth to ask me such a thing upon our first meeting, but never have I met someone who spoke so crudely. But I fear that none of your threats can change the truth—these words you see before you are indeed my main body.]

Watt needed three minutes to understand the fact that the Lord of Waldstein Castle was a liquid creature.

He needed a full seven minutes to accept the fact that this creature was indeed the Lord of Waldstein Castle.

And having acknowledged all this, Watt simply said:


“In other words, once I fuck up your sorry ass, I’ll be the head honcho around here.”


A line so typical for a petty villain.


<=>


Present day. In the back of the truck.


[I suppose that is when our feud began. Of course, at that time, one kick from Grandmother Job sent him crashing into a wall. Though it would be only right to respond to his challenge like a man, when I wrote to Grandmother Job asking her to desist, she did not even look in my direction.]

“Ah, Grandmother Job. How is she?”

[Her back is arched with age, but in wolf-form she is as fearsome as she ever was.]

“…If only Watt hadn’t survived her kick.” Melhilm said, sounding quite serious. Gerhardt responded.

[This is no joking matter, Melhilm. And I do hope that you were not speaking sincerely.]

“…I don’t understand. Wasn’t Watt trying to kill you?”

[Of course. Every day since then was full of excitement. After all, no humiliating defeat was enough to break his will. As soon as his injuries healed, he barged into my castle again. Although I once told him that I would accept a formal gentlemen’s challenge—]

Gerhardt’s thoughts returned to the past, recalling what Watt had said.


“A gentlemen’s challenge? Are you fucking around with me?

“Oh, so you’re going to fight fair and square? You’re looking your nose down on me.

“I said I’m going to take away everything you have, asshole. So come at me with everything you’ve got up your fucking sleeve. I’ll poison your food, set fire to your castle, and take hostages. I’ll pull every goddamn trick in the book, y’hear? But there’s one thing you’re not getting away with. Looking. Down. On. Me.”


[Ah, yes. Truly a fascinating man, though I often wondered just what kind of logic he operated by. Each time he was foiled, he would threaten, ‘Kill me now, or you’ll regret it later’. And I truly did come very close to regretting it when he set up explosives in the castle. Proof that I, also, was lacking in gentlemanly conduct at the time.]

“So why did you spare him? Setting yourself aside, what if he had hurt one of your subordinates?”

Not knowing that Relic was struggling with the same question back on Growerth at that very moment, Melhilm asked Gerhardt the obvious question.

But unlike his son, Gerhardt could easily give an answer.

[Hah hah. I am a weak man, my friend. I merely told my people, ‘I apologize terribly—but if you would be so kind as to play along in spite of the risks. If not, you are under no obligation to follow me’.]

“Have you no pride?”

[My pride is the smiles of the people of Growerth.]

“You’ve always been good at giving lip service. Don’t tell me your subordinates agreed?”

Melhilm’s questioning knew no end. But Gerhardt continued to answer him calmly.

[Ninety percent of my subordinates, in fact! The remainder, of course, spat in disgust and left the castle. Of course, I could not argue—after all, their decision was also correct.]

“The percentage that remained is quite staggering. But in any case, I don’t recall so much affability from the days when I was there. I suppose you must have changed in many ways since taking that form. And that must have been why Relic’s parents fled to you.”

[That particular discussion is finished, old friend. Arguing over the same things will get us nowhere, unless we were to approach it from a new perspective.]

“No, I don’t intend to dredge up that conversation—back to the point. It was later that Watt came to the Organization, though I suppose you must have wanted to convince him through words alone.”

Surprised that Melhilm had returned to the topic, the viscount spread out his body to retort.

[Perhaps that is what the maids at the castle believed. But perhaps I truly enjoyed those days. The young man standing between the two worlds, who would barge into the castle with no intention of surrender. Perhaps I wished to watch that young man mature. I was also quite surprised that he went to the Organization for support, but now that I think on it, he must have intended to use the Organization to rob me of my subordinates, then use my subordinates to usurp the Organization.]

“Hmph. Yet you are still adamant that he is not, in fact, a piece of scum?”

[Indeed I am!]

Melhilm furrowed his brow at the viscount’s answer.

“It seems you have a reason that backs up your belief.”

[Ah, that is a rather long story.]

After a moment’s thought, the viscount decided that there was still time before they arrived at their destination. He slowly disclosed his reasons, wanting to ease the heavy air around them.

[Where to begin, now? Ah, yes. I should start with the death of my friend Lorenz—the man who led me to meet Watt.]

There was a strange expression in Gerhardt’s form. Though the viscount had no face, Melhilm had known him long enough to read his moods from the way he wrote.

[A man so formidable as Lorenz… dead. And, unbelievably enough, murdered. But what flabbergasted me even more was—


[—the fact that Watt was named as the culprit wanted by the island’s police force.]


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Chapter 3.


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