Hidan no Aria:Volume9 Chapter1
1st Ammo: Spark Witch -Dracula Hilda-
Turbulent hot wind blew my hair into a mess, as I yelled over the sound of crackling electricity.
Feeling the searing light fade away, I rubbed my eyes to clear my vision.
Having been struck by the lightning orb from above, Watson was sprawled on the floor of the First Observation Deck.
I rushed over immediately, and saw that the black bulletproof jacket she was wearing was now spread open like a towel, the hood of her cloak covered her head, giving the appearance of a turtle which had retreated into its shell.
"Are you all right.. Watson!"
"... I.. I'm.. not. Ever since the encounter with that Demoness Hilda, I have always.. planned to strengthen the electrical protection of my gear... However, my apologies Tohyama.. I need.. to rest for a while..."
Talking up till this point, Watson stopped moving.
How did things come to this.
I had pursued Watson, who had taken Aria with him and fled to the Sky Tree -- finally engaging him in a life & death duel for 23 minutes.
Known as a superb first class fighter, his... no, her fighting skills were extraordinary. Even with my fighting capabilities 1.7 times stronger than that of HSS Normal while I was in HSS Berserker mode, I was subjected to a very tough battle.
And despite her strength, even Watson--
In a single strike, lost consciousness in just 5 seconds.
Unheard of and never seen before. A spherical lightning orb with a diameter of less than 2 meters... That was the appearance of the object that had hit her from above.
It wouldn't be wrong to assume that this was an attack from Hilda.
After all, the Bat-girl from Grenada had ambushed us half a month ago using high voltage electricity.
Only this time the attack is much more powerful--
(If there was another shot now.....!)
This is not good.
Our movements are now thoroughly exposed to higher ground--the Second Observation Deck which has been taken over by Hilda.
As the First Observation Deck we were on was still in its construction phase, other than steel beams, there was no ceiling to act as cover.
(I need to hide Watson for now....)
Carrying the unconscious Watson, I prepared to fall back from the area for now.
However, whether due to an outage in the electricity supply or other reasons... The elevator did not respond when I pressed the button.
Left with no choice, I could only take the staircase used for construction work to make my way down. Encountering a door on the way down, I kicked it open.
Behind the door was a room full of water pipes that were stored messily.
--Even though the space is very small, but it should be safe at least.
After putting Watson down, I flipped open my phone to use it as a light source.
There was something strange on the screen of the phone.
Black words on a white background displaying: "Error Code 961 Signal Interference".
Even pressing the call button resulted in a 'Please Hold' tone from the phone, there was no way to make any calls. Sending messages was out of the question as well.
"Hey, Watson, pull yourself together."
Ignoring the situation, and using the phone screen as a source of light, I shook Watson who was seated and leaning against the wall---and she slowly regained consciousness.
"..... Tohyama... Where.. Where is this place...?"
"Relax, we are below the First Observation Deck. Around us are concrete walls."
"Than... Thanks... Aria... Aria is on the Second Observation Deck, Hilda is there as well... Since I brought Aria here... I must bear the responsibility. So please, as someone who cares for Aria as well... Please...! Help her... save Aria.....!"
"--Don't worry, my intention has always been to bring Aria back with me. The opponent has simply changed from you to Hilda, that's all."
Upon hearing my words, relief showed in Watson's eyes--
Then, using both of her trembling hands, she handed me her sword.
"This, this Holy Cross Sword, I'll pass it to you... use it well. You've seen it before, Hilda... loathes this."
Looking at Watson who was straining just to speak, I furrowed my eyebrows.
This sword... It's not the first time I've seen it right?
Even though is seemed vaguely familiar, but I couldn't remember when it made an impression on me.
"Is that so? You can't remember? When Hilda... Tohyama, remember the battle on Sotobori Dori?"
"Ahhh... that time you appeared and chased Hilda away, I remember now."
"..... That's correct, however, I was actually putting on an act then--so as deceive everyone... Tohyama, just take the sword, normal weapons have no effect on Hilda."
Of course--Hilda is the daughter of Vlad, and is a monster that possesses unlimited regenerative abilities.
Even though I am not proficient in the use of weapons able to deal with the supernatural, now isn't the time to nit-pick over such matters.
I took the silver sword, and Watson took out a concealed Saxon hunting knife, passing it to me as well.
The Holy Cross Sword was very long, and the blade will slightly show under my jacket..... better to conceal it under my clothes. With the strap as a support, the sword won't drop off.
Looking on as I accepted both items, Watson again passed me a small compressed-air type injector.
"Nebula... a stimulant to the central nervous system. Under normal conditions it can increase concentration when injected into the body, and is a much stronger steroid compared to Latzo when one is losing consciousness. There's still one dose left."
"Why don't you use it? My body is quite resistant to drugs. The paralysis drug you used on my eye previously--it wasn't very effective."
"This.. having this readily available will just be somewhat reassuring,"
Watson shook her head, and looked up towards the ceiling.
"Hilda... is a 'Spark Witch'. She is able to manipulate electricity, because of the genes from the African Knifefish.... it's a type of electric fish. This has given her body cells the ability to store electricity--which is also the biological ability to use electricity generated by the body. What's worse, is that she also possesses a supernatural ability which can be used in combination....."
So in short it's a high level combination of a freak and an ability user?
This is just downright unfortunate.
"Her witchcraft---or ability, is being able to manipulate atoms using electricity. Simply put, to convert surrounding material into atoms, and attract or repel the atoms from there. Although this requires a vast amount of concentration, the effective radius is very small, and the rate of success is low, however... if combined with the ability to generate electricity, a positively charged lightning orb can be created..... Or she can dissolve the ground beneath her feet, and move herself around like a shadow."
Truth be told I don't know if the explanation is truly accurate...
Hilda may look as if she is able to move as a shadow, but in reality it was not an actual shadow, it's more like dissolving herself into a pool of muddy water. I expressed my own views to Watson.
"Hilda is a very intelligent woman, I believe she will not rely solely on these abilities. She has the Suggestive Arts--an ancient form of hypnotism. This will render others to listen to your instructions, while forgetting everything else, it's pretty useful. This may be the reason why you do not remember much of the incident at Sotobori Dori."
"Vampire, super powers and hypnotism. What a triple whammy, it's a goddamn Grand Slam."
Maybe it was to prevent myself from feeling demoralised any further, I used a term from Mahjong which Riko had taught me over the summer, flashing a bitter smile.
Perhaps sensing my mood, Watson looked me straight in the eye.
"Tohyama, indeed, Hilda is a very strong opponent, that is why I handed Aria over to Grenada. Maybe you have already noticed--I have made contact with Hilda before all this started. The incident at Sotobori Dori was simply an act between Hilda and myself in order to gain Aria's trust..... Even so, the Holy Cross Sword and Purified Silver Bullets I have given you will no doubt be a headache for her. This is why I handed them to you, as long as you are bent on declaring war against Grenada--"
"I already had my suspicions to what you have just told me..... But you should stop worrying, I have no intention to back down, if I did, I'll lose the right to call myself the team leader of Team Baskerville."
Looking at me jokingly make the remarks, Watson attempted to stand up. However, using all her strength, she could only lift her hips slightly.
"Tohyama... I, I want to fight too....!"
"There's no need. You can't even stand, plus cute girls shouldn't force themselves."
Hearing me say 'cute'--
Watson fell back where she was sitting, in a state of shock.
"Ah.. you said... cute..."
She stammered while repeating what I said, staring at me as if in a trance.
Was it that much of a shock?
Watson has always been living with a male identity, and probably has never been treated as a girl, so the shock must have been due to this.
Although I can understand her reaction, but--
Having came to the Sky Tree in HSS Berseker mode, I seemed to have activated my HSS normal mode while carrying Watson just now, so as of now I'm in a state where the 2 modes are interchanging.
..... Once I entered such a state, while I still be able to carry her so gently?
The system of HSS modes is really troublesome.
"--Do you know of anything else concerning Hilda?"
Not sure if it was due to Hysteria mode, my concern for Aria grew.
As it was more or less time to strike back, I stood up and carried the silver sword on my back.
"If you are going by yourself.. it will be one against two, Tohyama."
"Hilda never fully trusted me, so I have never seen the other person, but it appears there is definitely someone helping her, and that person is moving in the background tonight as well."
"So there is another enemy. This is getting somewhat out of hand."
Looking at me sigh, Watson said,
"Do your best Tohyama, there is still a chance to win this. We, of Liberty Mason have always been battling such enemies, and have defeated them before."
She was trying to encourage me with her words, really such an optimistic child.
".... Well, I'll just have to try my hand."
Thank you, Watson.
This will be enough.
While in Hysteria mode, being able to obtain support from females is a huge encouragement. The strength of the foes no longer matter. Nevertheless, even if not in Hysteria mode--any hot-blooded male will be motivated to fight.
I stealthily returned to the First Observation Deck....
The power outage on certain sections of the streets below were now brightly lit again.
I have already realised that the power outage was due to Hilda tapping into the power supply to create the large lightning orb.
That woman is really causing problems for everyone in her vicinity.
(However... she hasn't attacked me yet.)
I kept my guard on the Second Observation Deck 100 meters above, but it appears there isn't any light penetrating the cloud layer.
No, there is, but the blurred light appears to be for illumination only.
(That huge move...it should need some time for recovery. Or is she drawing me in closer to her trap?)
Regardless of the situation, I have to press forward.
Since power to the elevator has been restored, I might as well try my luck and use it to get up. But at this point....
The security camera at the entrance to the elevator made a slight noise as it adjusted its angle.
Numerous cameras have been installed in the Sky Tree, and I have been avoiding them while making my way here.... But this camera seems to be different from the others, it was a wide angle camera.
In Hysteria mode, I discovered that there was hardly any dust on it.
Probably installed as recently as yesterday or today.
Hilda. Have you been planning to watch my fight with Watson from the very beginning?
--Then, I shall have to charge you a very high fee for watching.
(Every level on this tower has enemies, it's starting to feel like some old game.)
Thinking of this, I resumed taking the elevator to proceed upstairs.
Red flashing beacons installed to warn airplanes from crashing into the tower shone against the metal netting, imprinting square-shaped shadows on my face.
Looking down, the view seems to be an aerial photograph taken by a man-made satellite.
Upon reaching a '435 meters' marking on a pillar, the elevator stopped. Getting off, I continued upwards on a sloping path constructed with metal bars and plates.
Looking around, it seems that I am still inside the construction building.
Steel bars were exposed from the walls, but at least there was a safety barrier formed by a metal alloy mesh and steel wires.
A strong gust of wind blew past, and it felt like the whole tower was shaking. No, actually it was really shaking. Construction materials scattered around the place gave off creaking noises.
Squeak. Squeak squeak. Suddenly, a different type of noise made me lift my head up--
Only to see the whole ceiling filled with bats.
Apparently this place becomes a nest for bats at night.
I'm guessing there are around 50 of them? Although each one is small in size, seeing such a large number hanging upside down together feels really disgusting.
My gaze swept over the the bats, and I prepared to proceed up the path marked with 'Up to 450 meters'--
A seiyuu-like voice came from above my head.
Looking up, in the shadows of a steel beam--
Her pink twin tails drifting in the wind, she was standing on a metal plate full of small holes.
Good, nothing bad has happened to you.
"Are you feeling all right? You were drugged by Watson...."
"I'm fine. Although I slept enough while I was here.... overall I'm still alright. How about you? The fact you managed to reach here... you fought?"
I quickly ran up the steps, while Aria hurriedly ran down, the sounds of our footsteps mingling together.
"I didn't know if the one coming up will be you or Watson... I guess this means Watson lost. Watson she... Umm, it can't be helped, this is because the the deal with Hilda has fallen apart. You should have heard about this already?"
Aria looked at me, seemingly knowing more about the details than I do.
".... Yeah. I understand the situation to a certain degree."
Aria blinked her eyes, and--
Grabbed my sleeves, dragging me along with some force.
"Come, let's negotiate with Hilda."
"Negotiate? You and I, we.. killed Hilda's father. We're enemies, you think we can communicate with her through dialogue?"
"We can. Hilda is much smarter than Vlad. She is wary of you, Kinji--you did manage to defeat my great grandfather Sherlock Holmes."
"....I guess I'm being overestimated."
"Kinji, only knowing how to fight does not make a real Butei. If we can reach an agreement, even if it doesn't help Deen in any way... We may still be able to work out a truce between Hilda and Baskerville."
Saying this, Aria pulled my hand and ran up the stairs.
Her guns were still visible beneath her skirt--not only both her guns, but Aria was carrying her Kodachi on her back as well.
Didn't Hilda remove her weapons when she came here drugged?
If that is truly the case--maybe we really can negotiate with Hilda.
Looking closely, Aria was...
And just on one ear, a crudely-made black earring.
It seems familiar.. where have I seen it before?
Well, there's nothing much to say if this is one of Aria's interests, not that it's a good one.
But why does the shape of that thing look like a bat?
It--reminds me of Hilda's wings. This thing has such a hateful design.
Every 100 meters above sea level, the air temperature decreases by 0.6 Degrees Celsius. In addition, it's presently night time.
While the autumn wind on the ground level might feel chilly, but 450 meters up in the sky--the Second Observation Tower was simply freezing like winter.
The Sky Tree reaches up to here, with nothing else above besides the sky.
No stars could be seen in the sky from the end of the stairs.
In place, were thick layers of clouds, moving smoothly along with the strong winds.
Surrounding buildings could no longer be seen, giving me the sensation of being among the clouds.
Aria and I appraised the Second Observation Deck, which was much smaller than the First Observation Deck.
There were numerous equipment at the sides, with a circular cement ground in the center.
Dimly lit lights were positioned everywhere, randomly illuminating the ground.
There was... no sign of Hilda.
In contrast, there was something which appears to be an altar in the northern corner.
No.. not an altar.
It was something much larger than the usual ones.... a coffin. And a bier.
The shiny black bier was decorated with bright red roses.
The huge roses--are the new species named as 'Aria' by Vlad.
And now, it has been collected in large quantities, almost burying the coffin itself.
Surrounding the coffin, perhaps used in place of Baby's Breath, appears to be some ferns which have extended all the way to where our feet are.
"Hilda... went through the trouble to prepare all these things. I fear she means to have us sleep inside once negotiations are over."
Following Aria's line of sight, I saw 2 mahogany coffins, one large and one small, beside us--
Aria Holmes Kanzaki.
Each name was engraved into a metal plate on a coffin.
Perhaps for the sake of transportation, electrical cables were snaking around the 2 coffins.
"...... To have been showered with her love, although I have never wanted it even once."
Feeling a nauseating chill down my back, I kicked out at one of the coffins.
Bats flew past my view, and...
"-- The bier, is one's final resting place, even if it is only a few square meters, it is a space that does not allow intrusions of any kind. This is a heartfelt and priceless gift to you from a highborn vampire such as I."
Sha sha... Sha sha sha....
From the luxurious shining black coffin in the northern corner, a weightless-looking umbrella appeared. Even though the coffin lid was still closed.
Her face hidden under the spinning umbrella, Hilda--
Appeared with both her legs standing on the sides of the coffin.
Her face showing under the slant illumination of the lights.
(Even though she's an enemy--she's really a beauty.)
I had already knew this during our first encounter, but the realisation deepened in Hysteria mode.
Her wax-like perfect white skin. Exotic yet alluring long red eyelashes. Full red lips. Golden ponytails completely curled at the ends. A beautifully shaped nose...
With such a beautiful person wearing black gothic clothes, it was filled with a decadent, demonic-like charm--befitting one who is in fact, an actual demon.
Layers of wrinkled frills, purely hand-made lace, black silk ribbons. Such extravagant accessories with such simple clothes, worn by Hilda with such indifference.
"Ho ho, you seem to be entranced by me."
Noticing my line of vision, she lifted her leg upwards in a provocative manner.
Under her mini skirt filled with lace, beside the long stockings, there was a white eyeball tattoo.. It was like we were making eye contact with one another.
Hugging tights with spider-web designs showed off her beautiful leg curves, and on her feet were shiny black enamel high heels--
"Well, it can't be helped, because I am simply too beautiful."
The way I was looking at Hilda, instead of being entranced, I would say--it was on the verge of swallowing her.
Even though I was standing off against her in Hysteria mode, I got a better understanding of her 'style'.
It was like the female version of a Demon King.
Even the bier underneath her, gave me the impression that it was Hilda's throne.
"If I were to say humans like you are nameless weeds--then vampires are the precious roses residing in a greenhouse. The heavens have given us vastly different markings. Look as much as you like, it's really just like a dog looking at the stars, we are the superior beings that you will never be able to reach--of course, as a member of the other sex, I too, have suffered from the aches and pangs of love. While you yearn for me, you can only see from afar, so I will at least grant you the right to look at me. Look, look, don't move your gaze away..."
As she chuckled, she moved her red nail-polish finger tips to the side of her lips.
--? ....What's the matter?
Just as she said, I found myself unable to move my gaze away.
"That's right, this is it Tohyama. Just like this, like a rooted tombstone that is almost covered completely by algae. Yes... just like this, listen to me, be a good boy, ho ho ho."
I've been hit...
This is---the Suggestive Arts. Watson mentioned it before, it's a form of hypnotism.
It was used on me the moment we met.
My body... isn't responding....! "Sorry, Kinji."
A seiyuu-like voice as if from an anime. It's Aria. She... took out a metal chain from underneath the coffin marked with her name.
The chain made 'ga, ga' sounds as it was pulled towards me from a hole in the ground.
When Aria bent her waist over, her double guns which were hidden under her skirt could be seen.
Under the influence of Hysteria mode, I noticed something odd about the angle of the holstered guns.
(The center of gravity... seems to be different from usual...?)
---It was as if, the guns were not loaded with bullets at all.
The instant I realised this. 'Clack'.
Aria swiftly wrapped my head with the chain, and proceeded to lock it in place.
Even so, I was still unable to make any form of resistance. In my current state, I could see in the field of my vision, 'Pah pah'.....!
"Ho ho ho!"
The curled ends of Hilda's twin tails began exhibiting signs of light electrical discharge.
She was holding in her hands a whip made of metal alloy with the appearance of snake scales--
And as she took in a breath.
The sound of electricity discharging--
I fell onto the ground beside the coffin with my name.
I felt the electric current. Transferring from Hilda's whip to my neck--and the floor as well--through the metal chain.
"Wo ho ho ho ho! Looks like the stuff I transported here specially for this occasion has really been put to good use."
With her fingers pressing on the edge of her mouth, Hilda made a sharp laughter comparable to ultrasound.
The incident at Sotobori Dori is repeating itself again. I gritted my teeth--
...... Why! I looked at Aria and asked with my eyes.
However, she just looked at me with indifference.
"All beautiful roses have thorns--I have heard rumors Tohyama has a weakness for beautiful women, looks like it's true."
Hilda held the whip tightly in both her hands, swinging it and hitting the ground--
She stepped onto the bier, with her high heels making a 'clack' sound.
"--I never wanted to fight with Watson in the first place. That is why, Tohyama, I laid out a plan to have you fight her instead. Even though you're a fool, you do have impressive fighting skills--and as I predicted, you easily disposed of Watson who was holding on to Purified weapons.
Although Watson lied to me as well before our battle, but--
Looks like she was tricked by Hilda as well. We are all a bunch of fools.
So this is one of the way she fights her battles... Carrying out an 'Operation' to deal with us....
"This tower is named the 'Sky Tree'. You are like an aphid crawling up along the tree. Ho ho ho ho ho.... Tohyama, crawl all you want. As for me--being able to fly--"
Bat-like wings sprouted from both sides of Hilda's back in an instant.
The inhumanely large shadow completely covered me as I laid on the ground.
Fanning both wings several times, generating a down-lifting wind beneath her feet.
The gust of wind scattered the roses beside the bier, revealing....
There was actually another Aria lying under the roses.
The Aria covered by flower petals was completely wrapped from head to toe, with a cloth stuffed into her mouth.
With a skillful flick of her hand, Hilda curled the whip around Aria's ankles.
With both her wings maintaining balance, she pulled back her hand and flung Aria out.
Being thrown across for nearly 10 meters--
Aria collided with the coffin with her name on it with a bang, dazed for the moment.
Looking closely, this Aria was wearing Butei High's uniform which has been modified with a sweet-Lolita style.
This uniform should be--
"Hilda--is really wary of Kinji, it's true."
The other Aria said softly as she looked at the Aria lying on the ground.
The Aria who was standing lifted her hand to her jaw...'rustle'...and removed a think mask.
The face under the mask...
"I was still expecting something different to happen... but in the end you're too useless, Kinji."
"Riko.... What, are you doing here...?!"
Riko, who has switched uniforms with Aria, silently removed her colored contact lens and threw them away.
"--Well done, Riko."
Placing the whip behind her back, Hilda did not refer to Riko as "Fourth" like before.
"Riko, you possess great talent in skill and abilities that even I do not have. I have high regard for this, and hence I have never treated you as a genetic container, but as a formal member of the Dracula family...an existence only second to mine."
Saying this, she walked down the coffin, with her high heels click-clacking as she walked over.
In contrast, Riko... had a complicated expression on her face.
Is she also under the influence of the 'Suggestive Arts'...?
No, that's doesn't feel right. Riko should still have control over her own actions.
Then why... why are you obeying her commands, Riko...!
"And... you're really cute. Even though you used to despise me, but at the same time you look forward to be just like me right? Your contradicting emotions has given me such heartaches."
Having walked over, Hilda caressed Riko's cheek with her pale white fingers.
Like showing affection for a beloved doll.
"I apologise Riko, my father has treated you like a dog in the past.. but that was never my true intention."
Fingers with bright red nail polish started gently caressing Riko's face.
Over and over... gently.
"I know many things have happened between you and Tohyama, but you should forget all of it. Men are simply too boring. And even if he isn't killed by me, he will ultimately die in the hands of Grenada one day. So you have no need to feel any guilt."
Hearing this, Riko seemed to be turning her head to look at me, but was immediately held in a tight embrace by Hilda.
"Don't look back anymore. As you well know, this earring--"
Hilda's pale fingertips brushed against the single bat-shaped earring Riko was wearing.
"--is the proof of becoming an official vassal for the Dracula family. If you wish to remove it, you either have to cut off the whole ear, or wait for me to do so when I feel like it, otherwise, the snake venom within will seep into your wound--10 minutes and you will be dead. This is for punishing traitors, to make them pay for their crimes."
"You are using this.. to control Riko..."
With my hands finally being able to move slightly, I tried to lift myself up.
It can't be done, even in Hysteria mode.
Freeing herself from Hilda's grip, Riko addressed me.
"Riko has been--thinking about alot of things. After wearing this."
Thinking about alot of things......?
"Riko has always been in a family of thieves. Not like Ki-kun and everybody else, I live in darkness...the same side as Vlad and Hilda. Unknowingly, I started walking towards the side where Ki-kun is. It's a wrong path that Riko has taken."
Standing in between Hilda and me, Hilda looked down at me.
"Hilda is the Darkness of Grenada, and born a witch. But... she has always been true to herself. Even after being captured and turned into a vampire by Vlad... she has fought alone, without backing from anyone. She is someone who can understand Riko better than Riko can."
"And Hilda has accepted me with her nobility spirit. The night we were making our costumes for the Cosplay Cafeteria...Riko went to meet Hilda, and made an agreement."
Come to think of it, that night...
After completing her costume, someone did call Riko out of the classroom.
So it was then--contact was made with Hilda?
"Even though we were at odds during that time--Riko was surprised. Because Hilda was very polite, and even proposed the terms for Riko to join Grenada. After the fight at Sotobori Dori, Riko talked to Hilda again. Even though I was already wearing the earring, and could only obey her.... but Riko proposed to Hilda to 'never call me Fourth if we are to work together', and Hilda--has never called Riko 'Fourth' ever since."
Standing behind Riko and listening to her speech, Hilda's eyes narrowed, pleased with what she heard.
While she was stroking Riko's head, and was about to say something--
A moan came from my side.
I forciby turned my head which was partially paralysed to look, only to see the cloth stuffed in her mouth--
Being chewed on by her cat-like fangs, and about to be bitten in half.
Taking in a deep breath, Aria seemed to have finally shaken off the effects of Watson's sedatives.
With her large eyes with finely-defined eyelashes, she lifted her head and glared at Riko.
"--Listen to me, Riko. I... don't intend to blame you, after all anyone will cherish their own life."
Behind me in the shadows, Aria spoke in simple and plain words,
"But, Riko, let me tell you something in my position as a noble. The so-called nobility spirit from Hilda is just a show she has put on for you. Although you seem pretty immersed in it, it's really just like rewarding you with candy so you'll be obedient. She looks down on you, and treats you like a child."
Hilda's eyes--as if being exposed, suddenly became razor sharp.
Aria, don't create any more unnecessary provocations.
Especially when we are unable to move at all.
"Since no one else will point it out, let me do it. Hilda is just using that murderous earring to make you her slave!"
With Aria hitting right in the center of the sore spot, Hilda,
"A human... in front of a superior vampire.. dares to make such statements in a grandiose tone...."
She's... really pissed.
"Vampires are not noble at all! Let me tell you--England has abolished slavery in 1833. You are behind by 150 years! Humans have already long moved on from slavery!"
Haven't you been treating me as a slave ever since we met?
"--And you, Riko!"
Baring fangs comparable to a vampire at Riko.
She leapt up from behind me despite being constricted.
"Since you don't believe in Kinji, and laid a trap for him--then as Kinji's partner, I have a duty to fight you! Prepare yourself!"
And as Aria was jumping up and down like a fish--
(This, this person...!)
She seems to be escaping from her chains.
Oh yes, I remember now.
Back in September, just like when we were tied up in the Shinkansen, Aria was very skilled in getting out of her bonds.
--It follows the principle of pulling a Green Foxtail which has been rolled into a ball from someone's hands.
Noticing this, I immediately used my body to block Hilda's view.
"I'm going to punish you, Riko. Because you are standing on Hilda's side now, nah!"
Escaping from her chains, Aria immediately pulled out Watson's Holy Cross Sword from my back.
Upon seeing the sword, Hilda seemed to reach for the whip on her waist.
However, there's simply no time for her to retaliate.
Wearing Riko's modified uniform, Aria leapt over me to attack Hilda, the ribbons on her chest fluttering in the wind.
Just when the Holy Cross Sword in her small hand was stabbing towards Hilda like a comet--
Using both her wings and feet to push herself, Hilda slid backwards at the very last moment.
She dodged, evading Aria's attack completely.
Able to escape the seemingly unavoidable strike in an instant, Hilda is indeed able to recover instantaneously.
"Bah, that is truly a bothersome thing you have there."
Seeing Aria pull back the sword, Hilda flicked her wrist and attacked with the whip.
Just as if looked like Aria and Hilda were locked in a stalemate--
The whip from Hilda's hand made contact with the silver sword in Aria's hand.
High tension electrical current suddenly passed among the three parties, and Aria gave out a short cry.
Even though she didn't loosen her grip, but to the current Aria--
"Lowly human--know your place!"
Hilda successfully struck at the sword, causing it to fly in mid-air--
The train of her skirt flying in the wind, Hilda leapt up and kicked out with her heels.
Backing down near to where I am, Aria seemed to be nearly paralysed by the electrocution.
Losing her strength, she fell into a cross-legged sitting position in front of the coffin, no longer able to move.
"How dare you use such filthy things against me....!"
Using the whip to curl around the silver sword, Hilda then pulled her whip hand back over her head.
Following that--like a catapult from the Middle Ages, she made a big arc with her hands, flinging the sword far away.
I could only look on as the sword flew in a straight path out of the observation deck--
Looks like it's true, Hilda really despises that sword.
But, the trump card is no longer in our hands now.
Plus Aria, the only one with experience fighting Choutei is down for the count.
Riko has joined the enemy, and will only watch from the sidelines.
As for the me in Hysteria mode, I have been in this sorry state from the very beginning.
3 minutes.. No, just give me 2 more minutes. Is there no way to buy time?
Just 2 more minutes and I can move my hands.
If I can move my hands... there's still a chance...!
"Such rats trying to go against the Night Hunter of Grenada.. it makes me sick. This joke has gone on far enough."
--chi chi, chi chi chi chi...
A strange sound of something being started made me raise my head, only to see Hilda standing a short distance away....
"--Aira, I have decided to bring forward my operation for you."
She lifted a small chainsaw hidden among the ferns.
Following which, she activated it. The chainsaw started making crunching noises as Hilda slowly closed in.
This is like a bad scene from a horror movie...!
"Hey, hey! Don't come over! What operation are you talking about!"
"Why, it's to saw Aria's chest open in order to remove her heart. The human rib-cage can be surprisingly sturdy."
Facing me as I was shouting, a frozen smile appeared on Hilda's pale face.
Hilda reached the side of Aria, and 'shaaaa'--
Ripped apart the blouse of her sailor uniform in one motion.
"All right, look closely now Aria, the Hidan in your heart, I'm going to......"
Unable to make a sound because she was paralysed from the electric shock, Aria's chest and underwear were exposed.
Having her bra with the poker pattern fully exposed, Aria--
Even though she could not speak, her face blushed red in an instant.
And using all her body strength shifted her head to the side as a sign of resistance.
But Hilda mercilessly pressed on to Aria's flat chest--
"Be at ease. I do fancy your appearance somewhat, and will not damage any other areas besides your chest, so as to leave your whole corpse for the coffin. So you should hand over your body to me without worries...."
Fu. Fu. Hilda started panting excitedly--
Then slowly, slowly, inched the electric saw nearer and nearer to Aria's chest.
Her eyes staring at the fearful expression showing on Aria's face.
That Hilda...she's enjoying herself from human fear...!
My incessant shouting were simply an entertaining sideshow for Hilda.
Ho... She bared her fangs, unable to conceal her joy.
"Fantastic.. tonight is simply fantastic. Just thinking back of the exhilaration I am experiencing now, I'm afraid even after a year from now I will still be happy beyond measure. All right, Aria--now scream, please scream out loud, it will be like cute noises from a nightingale... ho ho ho, wo ho ho ho ho!"
The blade of the saw finally made contact with Aria's underwear--
'Sssss', scattering fibres of clothing.
Aria's body jerked in response. Seeing this, 'Ahhh', Hilda gave out a coy sigh.
With her face showing her to be fully immersed in sadistic pleasure, she tightened her body.
"Excellent... that's very good Aria, that was simply incomparable.... Yes, that expression. More, show me more....!"
Probably over-indulging on her feelings, Hilda's hands started trembling from the excitement--
"Just a little, a little bit more, yes, more, show me! Ahhhhh.... Yes! Yes!"
She ran the tip of the electric saw several times over Aria's underwear.
Finally able to speak softly, Aria was still unable to resist at all.
Hearing her voice, Hilda's breathing became more intense.
"How is it? Are you terrified? You're terrified aren't you? Then say it out! Say it, quickly!"
Speaking like a sadistic maniac, Hilda continued shifting the electric saw relentlessly.
Sometimes slowly, sometimes quickly.
"How is it Aria?! You should say something! Ho ho, ho ho ho ho!"
Ravaged to no end, the underwear was now worn to a thread--once it falls off...
Hilda will most certainly harm the layer of skin below. Over. And over.
Similarly after that, the tissues, and even the bone....!
Come on hands, move...!
If I can move my hand, I can try to.... stop that... saw....!
But, it won't move. There's still 1 minute to go... it can't be done still, I can't move my hands at all.
"Hilda, is this really alright."
Suddenly at this moment, Riko--
In a manner vastly different from the usual, started speaking in the tones she used when she was the "Butei Killer".
"Aria is a rare host of the Hidan. If we kill her, progress on "The Study in Scarlet" will become exceedingly difficult."
Above my head, Riko reached out her hand and grabbed the handle of the electric saw.
Her... hand was trembling slightly.
As if in a trance, Hilda raised the corner of her eyes.
Looking like a teenage girl whose dessert was taken away.
A golden bolt of electricity flashed from Hilda's hand.
Riko fell forward. And Hilda--
Stepped onto Riko's back with the thin and sharp stiletto of her heels.
Then, a crashing sound--
With movements like a lunatic, she threw her saw onto the ground.
"Riko! Didn't you.... see and understand what was going on? I was having the time of my life! Painstakingly... working towards it painstakingly, I almost could have gotten my high--but thanks to you, everything is ruined!"
Grinding her gritted teeth, Hilda yelled out in an indignant, even tearful manner.
It appears that... having someone interrupt her while she was torturing her prey is one of the unhappiest things that can happen to Hilda.
--What the hell is she. Truly a real sadist. It's incomprehensible.
"A..Aria is still of some value! Don't kill her...!"
It seems that the voltage Hilda used was much lower than when she was dealing with me and Aria.
But, looking at Hilda's attitude now... it doesn't look like she stayed her hand on purpose.
Observing this with my own eyes in Hysteria mode, I discovered something was amiss--
At this time, my hands were able to move slightly.
Another 30 seconds....!
"You actually said 'Don't kill Aria'.....? Did you not swear loyalty to me? I see, so that's how it is, you intend to betray me again?"
Applying force on her toes, Hilda ravaged Riko's back with the stilettos of her heels.
Riko was unable to free herself.
But seeing how she was able to raise her head due to the pain, it seems that she wasn't completely immobilised.
Completely uncharacteristic of Riko, with fear showing on her face, she silently took in Hilda's rage.
When she curled up on my bed that night, simply hearing Hilda's name frightened her.
Although it looks as if she was trying to convince Hilda just now, but in actual fact... she was probably terrified. She's terrified of Hilda.
Jittery, unable to disobey. Really.
"Riko, I intended to have you tested tonight. To see if you are able to watch me kill Aria and Tohyama... but, you failed. Does this mean you wish to return to Baskerville? Huh? Huhhhh?"
Riko's voice was trembling due to pain and fear.....
"Riko, you are indeed unfit to become my servant. You can only be a pet. You shall stay in my room as a toy for the rest of your life, I'll let you wear a collar and treat you with affection. So as to say, the next time you disobey me--I'll use the earring and kill you!"
Hilda who was ravaging Riko's back with her heels,
Stepped her heels onto an empty spot near Riko's head.
"--Riko, beg for my forgiveness. Hmmmm, apologising is of no use now. You'll have to kiss my shoe while swearing your undying loyalty to me. You can only live on as my property."
Her hands, in a posture seemingly to support and hold something, touched the heels in front of her eyes.
With her face sticking on the concrete floor.
Drip. Drip. The sound of water rang out.
I can finally move my right hand, and grab the drug in my pocket.
I plunged the needle into my left hand.
Just as the trembling Riko was about to place her lips onto Hilda's shoe--
"Butei Charter No. 8."
As I spoke, I gathered the collective consciousness of every part of my body.
The beating of my heart, the circulation of my blood, all returning to normal as the effects of the drug spread.
"The mission must be resolved completely."
The deep sound of my voice made Hilda turn her head.
Her large eyes brimming with tears, Riko turned her head as well to look at me.
"Riko, when did it all start--the moment you started to place your trust in me? It was the moment you told me 'Save me'."
Even though I was aware of the way I was talking, but--
My Hysteria mode seems to be skewed towards Normal mode now.
Is it because the feeling of 'Aria is being taken away by another man' has faded?
From the blood flow in my body, I would estimate--70% Normal mode, 30% Berserker mode--or thereabout.
Even though Hilda is female, but I should be able to fight her using the momentum of Berserker mode. I'll just do it!
"Tonight, let me finish the 'hidden part' of the mission Riko has requested of me."
Looking at me still lying on the ground, Hilda laughingly mocked at me,
"Ho ho ho--what are you planning to do, Tohyama? Use your body which can only sprawl on the floor like a dying earthworm?"
For your first question, I will answer with words. As for the second question, I shall refute it with action."
"I will, rescue Riko."
Finished with my line, and still pretending to be unable to move--
I pushed myself up, and vaulted onto my feet.
And immediately rushed towards Hilda with my posture lowered.
Not believing that I was able to move, and that I would really use my actions to refute her statement, Hilda just stood there and stared.
Using the opportunity, I rescued Riko, carrying her in my arms, princess-style.
(--It'll be troublesome if I get electrocuted again.)
Thinking about this, I considered where the high tension cables were located on the ground and the safety distance I have to keep--
I pulled away a distance of 6 meters away from Hilda.
In my arms, Riko... was curled up and trembling like a child freezing in cold weather.
Her fear of Hilda had been deeply imprinted into her heart ever since she was a child, even now it was still binding Riko.
What kind of cruel treatments did she suffer as a child......
From the looks of it, it's probably much worse than I can ever imagine.
On the other hand, as I have quickly verified... Although Aria is still unable to cover herself with her underwear in pieces, and unable to speak, but--
"RIKO. PRIORITY. SAVE."
She sent me the message to using the method of eye-blinking communication.
You really are a kind-hearted child, Aria.
You should just have a good rest now.
--Leave the rest to me.
"What is with this 'rescue Riko'? Tohyama, you really are a pushover. Riko is the wicked girl who set the trap to lure you into coming here not too long ago, remember?"
Opening up her bat wings, she flapped her wings and lifted her feet up from the ground.
Flying to a height of nearly 1 meter, she landed on the coffin with my name.
"Riko betrayed me when pleaded with me to spare Aria's life. And to think not too long ago, she wore the earring and swore loyalty to me. Before that, she was a member of Team Baskerville. And again before that, she was in E.U. Even earlier than that, a dog that my father kept--she has been traversing between night and day so many times it's simply frightening, what an unsightly woman."
Hearing what Hilda said, a trembling Riko shut her eyes tightly....
"It's true, Kinji..... I am a traitor... I betrayed you because I didn't want to die...."
Riko started quivering and sobbing while in my arms.
The earring on her ear gleaming for an instant.
"Riko, you have to be re-educated, because such inconsistency and indecisiveness from you is simply hideous--"
Using the coffin as a stepping stone--
Opening her wings up even more than just now, she flew up 3 meters, above the lights of the observation deck.
Her jumping ability left me gawking.
"--The world, turns with the night as it's center--!"
Moving with the wind, Hilda's gliding form cast a shadow on our heads.
She did not flap her wings at all while up in the air.
Judging from the shape, her wings seems to maintain flight in a different manner from birds.
She could rise up 2~3 meters in the air, and cut across the sky like a snowmobile.
Her mobility far exceeds that of humans. What a tough opponent.
Hilda spread her wings like an airplane, stagnating in the air for a brief moment before starting to reduce her speed... Swish.
With her mini skirt pressed down, the train of her extravagant skirt fluttering upwards--
She landed on the large black coffin filled with flowers.
"The Dracula clan is the dark nobility of Grenada. Riko--unlike you, our hearts have never wavered, nor have we turned our backs on darkness. We, are never confused."
Saying this, Hilda covered her mouth with a fan made of black ostrich feathers.
"This is the dogma of our strength, which is why our bloodline is able to obtain the greatest power, and stand at the very top of all living things. Power, is determined by the sequence of all living things. The weak must obey the strong. This is the truth of life."
The sounds of Hilda's heels could be clearly heard as she walked back and forth on the bier.
"Humans are not spared from this reality as well. The weak can only suppress their will, and live under the bindings of the strong. Disobedience will only mean certain death. Riko, your earring is the symbol of such reality."
Like a lecturer on a stage, Hilda continued speaking,
"Vampires are realistic. We do not spout idealistic remarks like 'No bullying of the weak' like humans. That's right. It is too idealistic even for humans. Human societies do not show pity to the weak as well. They are either alienated or simply left to die slowly. Riko, that is why it is only natural for you to obey me. In this city there are millions of people obeying another person in order to survive--they are accepting the very same reality."
Hilda pointed at the commotion under her feet with her fan.
I glanced down, only to see the lights below--
Were being extinguished one by one....
"Accept reality--this will mean how you have the matured as a living thing. So Riko, there is nothing for you to cry about. If you are able to let go of your confusion and watch Tohyama and Aria die, you will have grown as an adult. Obeying the strong, accepting the truth--this is part of being an adult. So there's is no need for your tears any more."
Covering her face with both hands, Riko was still sobbing.
And looking at her from close distance--
I could no longer hold back, and chuckled at Lady Dracula who had been talking non-stop.
"....Ha.... 'Power is everything'? This is just like some villain from an old shounen manga. Hilda, you are unable to recognise the strength of people, as a noble you are simply being disrespectful. You actually treat Riko as a weak child."
"What did you say....?"
Swish--Hilda's head turned back to look at me. In a laughing tone, I said,
"I'm afraid you have only encountered weak people. As for me, be it good or bad--I have met many people who are really strong. Riko is one of them."
Riko opened a little space between her fingers, showing her teary eyes.
"Hilda, it's just like you said--humans often become lost. However, we live with this confusion, and look out for one another while we choose the correct path to take. It is because of this confusion, that we are called humans. Sometimes this confusion is worth laughing at. Honestly speaking, Riko is an idiot with directions and tone deaf... this is why I, will become her map."
Like an elder brother looking at his sister, I looked at Riko in my arms with warm and gentle eyes.
Looking directly into Riko's pupils, I asked with sincerity,
"Riko, you--have always been shackled by Vlad and Hilda. It must have been a cruel, harsh and stubborn binding, right?"
Riko's wet eyes-- looking back at me.
"Riko, is it okay to continue on like this? Is it fine to remain shackled like this?"
Facing my direct question, Riko--
"....No...no more. I, I've had enough..."
Tears started flowing from her big round eyes once again.
Uncontrollably, she cried without pause.
"....I want, I want to be free...!"
".....Good. Nicely said."
Turning 180 degrees, I placed Riko down carefully.
"Listening to your words is enough. It has already given me a reason to fight."
Following which, I went down on one knee, and gently wiped the tears off her face.
"I will defeat her, and remove this hateful earring for you--"
I stood up once again, turning my head in Hilda's direction......
"--with the best of my abilities."
Although it may be a little too late, I finally declared war against Hilda.
"Lady Hilda Dracula. You are guilty of harming, imprisoning and kidnapping a minor, I will now arrest you."
As I stared at Hilda--
Swish. She closed her fans, looking pleased as she looked at me.
"Tohyama--nice eyes. You're a completely different person from when I last attacked that vehicle, it's pretty attractive. If it's the you now, I don't mind giving you an accessory for your personal use."
"Being unable to accept a gift from a beautiful lady, I am really sorry--but, although I must decline becoming exclusively yours, but if it's the other way round, you can consider it after our fight. After all, I seemed to be known as a lady killer."
"The other way round...?"
Hilda looked as if she was considering something....
Following which, her porcelain white skin became tinged slightly red.
Maybe she was thinking of going out on a date and holding hands with me or something.
Just when she was furiously thinking of something to say, I intentionally smiled questioningly at her--momentarily causing her to be unable to speak, and blushing angrily in embarrassment.
Ha.... It seems that there isn't much difference in treating her as one would treat a normal girl.
Especially since she's a very self-centred girl.
From her reaction, it seems she has very little experience, no, she has absolutely no experience in interacting with men.
Well her father is the fearsome Vlad after all. I seriously doubt there were any chances of knowing any guys.
"Ah.... Ri, Riko!"
In a state of panic, Hilda shifted her conversation away from me to Riko--
"I am now, going to kill Tohyama immediately! Watch closely and learn!" You should not be choosing a path based on some fictional fantasy like freedom, but a path of being shackled to reality!"
Slowly recovering her initial momentum, 'pa'... 'pa'... small balls of light started appearing around her.
"'Lightning Orb'--I only used about 80% strength when I dealt with Watson. But, Tohyama, as for you, I shall show you the power of 100%. No, for the crime of making fun of me, I shall let you have a taste of 120%....!"
A golden lightning orb the size of a Ping Pong ball started forming in front of Hilda's chest.
Then its size slowly increased to that of a baseball--then a volleyball--its size was increasing with each passing second.
Making use of the city's power grid, this is her sure-kill technique.
It's the very same ball of lightning that hit Watson.
(.....The silver bullets.....)
I have no weapon on my waist now, I left my Desert Eagle on the First Obeservation Deck after Watson threw the magazine away. Just the Beretta holstered at the side of my body.
And this Beretta, will be the trump card in this fight with Hilda--
Loaded within were Purified Silver Bullets that Watson has given me.
Since Hilda seemed to really despise the silver sword, the silver bullets should have the same effect.
However, in order to shoot--the timing is of utmost importance.
Because if she notices the gun, she will certainly go for it in a heartbeat.
And if it turns into close-quarter combat, I will have to constantly guard against her electric shocks, placing me in a very disadvantageous position.
So now I can only maintain a distance, and find an opportunity to open fire at Hilda.
--Thinking like this, I hid the silver bullets.
"Now.... 100%....! Good, it's almost done...!"
Looking at the large ball of light which was now taller than Hilda, I discovered a decisive gap in Hilda's defense--
Thanks to my observation eye powers while in Hysteria mode.
The very instant she launches an attack using electricity, she becomes exhausted.
And just for that very moment, she will be defenseless.
So--it will be possible to inflict serious wounds on her if I shoot a split second before she releases the lightning orb.
Plus my shooting is blindingly fast--
Because from imitating Nii-san, I have mastered the 'Invisible Bullet'...!
Producing crackling sounds, the lightning orb is now more than 2 meters in diameter--
It is at least one times, no, two times larger than the one that hit Watson.
Although I don't really understand the physical make-up of electric particles, but the density--seems to be very high for this thing.
While my clothes may be bullet-proof, it offers no protection against electricity. If I get hit I will definitely die.
But I have no fear. Because I will take Hilda out before it hits me.
Hence, like an attempt to suppress any remaining traces of fear within me--I start to make tiny movements with my fingers.
Invisible Bullet. To draw the gun in a blinding flash like drawing a sword. This is in preparation to act.
(Ok, I'm ready for it at any time now--)
The time-span when Hilda will be fully exhausted is only 0.5 seconds.
That will be more that enough.
Invisible Bullet, just needs only 1 shot to well and truly hit the opponent.
Nothing else in this world can be compared to Hysteria mode. I will let Hilda personally experience that.
In order not to miss the moment, I stared fixatedly at Hilda's beautiful face.
"Tohyama. For a weakling who cannot choose between the darkness and the light, and a fool who mouths off fantasies, I'll have you die in your fantasy. Fantasies are but dreams, and dreams cannot turn into reality, it is a most foolish way of thinking. Humans like you whom are incapable of living in darkness--are nothing more than sinful creatures who think of darkness as a mere fantasy, and taint the beauty of the night--"
Fuuuh. Taking in a deep breath, Hilda--
Forcefully released the golden lightning orb--
What--what is happening?
Hands... I can't move my hands...!
The paralysis from the previous electric shock has most certainly been removed.
"--You really are a man who doesn't learn, Tohyama."
Posing as if she was about to release the lightning orb, Hilda--suddenly smiled--
She spun the lightning orb in her hands, and move it above her head.
"Silver bullets emanating the smell of cheap perfume, you think I haven't noticed? You kept your eyes on me while you were preparing to shoot. So--I used the Suggestive Arts on you."
Searching for a defensive gap before the opponent strikes, looks like she has turned the tables on me using the same tactic.
And with regard to trickery, this bat-girl is already a pro from the start.
......'Pah', 'Pah pah'... the crackling of electricity is getting louder...!
"Like how science is moving forward, so too is magic. If I were to solely rely on my own body, it's simply a matter of time before I run out of energy. So I developed a method of exploiting energy obtained from the outside. Just like how a witch in the desert obtain power from the stars in the sky, I--make use of the electricity produced by humans. If based on the catergorisation method being used in the recent years, I can be considered among one of those able to use a second ability. The only difference, is that I have reached a level no humans can hope to match.... Ok, it's now at 120%.... Ahhhh, it's spoilt. Looks like it's still a bit difficult to manipulate."
Saying this, Hilda began rebuilding the lightning orb. Even the skin on her body began producing short crackling sounds due to electricity.
Her golden pupils, smiling--stared at me.
Laughing and baring her fangs, Hilda--
"Tohyama, you have a very nice expression on your face now. It's simply divine....."
Finally, she's beginning to use her strength. But at this time,
Drifting along with the wind--
Reflecting the light from the lightning orb, something like a ball of glass rose up from the ground.
From my toes, it jumped to the side of the coffin Hilda was standing on.
Flying along with the wind, is that.... a soap bubble?
No, that's not it.
Last month, I saw it on the Shinkansen--the Explosive Bubble--a vapor explosive.....!
The sound from the explosion rocked the entire Second Observation Deck. The roses and ferns which decorated the bier were reduced to scattered petals dancing in the sky.
Wearing her heels, Hilda almost lost her balance.
'Pa pa', 'Pa'! This time the sound of electricity came from the side of the coffin--the thick electric cable hidden below the Japanese Creepers had been broken.
And as my eyes were registering this scene, the lightning orb above Hilda's head--
Like an electric ball with its power cut, vanished without a trace.
Managing to remain standing on the coffin after some effort, Hilda bared her fangs--
She called out the name.
Turning my head back, beside me...
Standing there, holding on tightly to a tiny perfume bottle with her trembling fingers, was Riko.
Translator's Notes and References
- Sotobori Dori (外堀大道) is a main road running through Central Tokyo
- Grand Slam (大满贯) is a winning term used in Mahjong.
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