Silver Cross and Draculea:Volume02 Chapter4
Chapter 4 - Spring Training Camp
One night during a certain holiday in May, Hisui's home welcomed its first guests since Rushella moved in.
"...Thank you for your hospitality."
"Same here, thank you for your hospitality."
In stark contrast, Eruru entered expressionlessly as Mei followed cheerfully.
Their luggage were also completely different. Eruru simply carried a medium size travel bag that probably contained bare essentials while Mei lugged a massive trolley case, looking as if she were going to travel abroad.
"What is wrong with you, why do you have to bring so much luggage!? And why did you come along!?"
Rushella stood at the entryway to welcome the two girls. Greatly displeased, she pointed at Mei's large suitcase.
This was Hisui's earlier suggestion, to come to his house to research and organize their information about the "witch" -- but Rushella seemed dissatisfied for some reason, raging away very early in the morning.
"Oh my, need I remind you I am Eruru-chan's assistant? And letting a young man and woman spending time alone under one roof... What if something were to happen?"
"...In my view, being alone with you is when something might happen, it scares me so much..."
Standing firmly in Rushella's camp, Hisui retorted to express his own anxiety.
Eruru's style was direct and expedient, always relying on biting commentary or violence. On the other hand, Mei was disposed to sexual harassment that was impossible to defend against, which was the most troublesome in a certain sense.
"Don't be like that. After all, this is just one part of work, as well as a chance for me to survey my future living conditions."
"...I already know. Anyway, let's go in first."
Helplessly, Hisui let Mei and Eruru into the house.
Mei looked around the house with great interest, poking and touching things here and there.
"Hmm mmm... I see, the rooms are decorated quite tastefully, and very well cleaned too."
"Of course! This is my house after all!"
"What are you feeling proud of, it's probably all Hi-kun's work, right?"
Mei dismissed Rushella's proud declaration but the arrogant vampire remained unfazed.
"It is only natural for my servant to take care of my everyday life, right? The fruits of his labors are my accomplishments!"
"...Hmph. By the way, since all the housework is undertaken by Hi-kun, then he also does the laundry, right? Including hanging them out to dry and folding them?"
"Of course! These menial tasks are his job, naturally."
"...So you don't mind?"
Hearing Mei trying to imply something, Rushella asked with puzzlement.
Mei continued with a poker face and pointed out an outrageous fact.
"What about your underwear and the like -- so he dries and folds them too?"
A moment of silence.
Then -- Rushella's face went completely red as she rushed over and grabbed Hisui by his collar.
"You, y-y-you, to think you went that far......!!"
"Eh -- why are you talking about it after all this time!? I thought you didn't care!?"
"So annoying, shut up! You lowly servant, to think you took my u-u-underwear......!"
"Oh my, who knows what he's been doing with them in secret. Say, have you counted them for any missing ones?"
As Mei sadistically added fuel to the fire, Rushella's face went even redder as she pummeled Hisui with her fists.
"It hurts, hey, stop it! Sudou, you stop saying these unnecessary things!"
"Oh my, it must be so stimulating for boys in puberty, right? So what's the situation actually?"
"...Folding that kind of stuff for her personally would be a bit much, so I simply put them in the box in her room. That's always been the case, right?"
Hisui explained as if trying to appease Rushella, prompting her to recall how things had been done.
"...Right, the underwear were always delivered together. I fold them myself..."
"See? Look how thoughtful I am. When washing them I also put your underwear in a separate washing bag......"
As soon as he spoke, Hisui's chin was struck by another of Rushella's punches.
Dazed by the impact, he protested.
"What the heck!?"
"So annoying, shut up!"
Rushella was on the verge of tears.
Mei nodded in agreement and even Eruru, who had been watching uninvolved, spoke up.
"Hi-kun is in the wrong here."
"You are really too insensitive."
"What kind of responses is this from you two!? My life is not easy, okay?! This is simply Rushella's underwear, this is simply Rushella's underwear, this is simply Rushella's underwear... Do you know how many times I have to silently say that to myself and the effort it took to avoid looking at them in order to stay calm? Think about my plight here!"
Hisui cried out emotionally but Mei continued with her trouble-making.
"Truly, you lead a life of suffering. Since you must have washed your foster parent's underwear as well, you should have gotten used to it to a certain extent?"
"...Well, compared to that person's black or red underwear, rich in vampire style and adult flavor, Rushella's pastel-colored ones are more of the cute variety..."
...Before he could finish, Hisui was struck by Rushella's special attack as she sobbed and wept.
Hisui painfully held his face, while Mei and Eruru sighed in exasperation as they watched from the side.
"...This is completely -- entirely Hi-kun's fault."
"Agreed. I have never seen anyone so insensitive."
"......No one will marry me anymore......"
Rushella wailed in a barely audible voice, covering her face with both hands. Only then did Hisui finally understand.
".........Sorry, it's my bad."
Despite Hisui relenting and apologizing, the girl trio's penetrating gazes remained. In order to avoid their scorching glares, Hisui decided to eliminate the issue at its root.
"...By the way, if you don't want me to see your underwear, then wash it yourself! It's not like you have a lot!"
"...Indeed. It might be more troublesome, but compared to letting this guy wash......"
Rushella brushed away her tears as she started agreeing with Hisui's suggestion. But Mei poured more fuel on the dying fires of rage.
"Isn't this actually quite a dilemma? I think you need to consider carefully first?"
Rushella asked, confused. Mei answered with an impish smile.
"Then it's your turn to wash Hi-kun's underwear."
Mei pointed to Hisui's crotch as she spoke.
Rushella's gaze followed her finger -- her cheeks getting hotter and hotter, she started punching Hisui like a sandbag again.
"You, you, y-y-you lowly servant -- ! What are you asking me to do!?"
"Nothing, I didn't ask you to do anything for me! Besides, this is no big deal!! Stop getting so worked up! How innocent are you, really!?"
"So annoying, shut up!!"
Rushella held Hisui against the floor as she continually pummeled him.
"...I knew it, cohabitation isn't really working out for you two, right? How about I switch with her?"
"I'm different from this child, you know? Hi-kun, even if you put any underwear with strange sticky substances on them into the washing machine, I will diligently take them out and personally hand wash them for you."
"Give me a break, okay? Could you stop trampling the most sensitive spot in a boy's psyche!?"
"I haven't finished talking yet! You rude fellow!!"
...Then Hisui suffered yet another beating. Finally released, he was met with Eruru's gaze of derision.
"Stop wasting time with such a farce... Where is your foster parent's collection? I would like to get on with the tour, you know?"
"...What's the rush? Waiting a moment wouldn't hurt, right? It's dinner time anyway, so why don't we eat first?"
"I merely wish to get the task done and over with as quickly as possible."
"I understand how you feel, but if you mess up the meal schedule, Rushella's gonna throw another tantrum. Could you accompany us for dinner first, okay?"
Eruru compromised reluctantly and took a seat at the dinner table with Mei.
On this rare occasion with so many people for dinner, the meal was Japanese hotpot.
Using chicken broth as the soup base, the hotpot's main course consisted of chicken meatballs. Neatly arranged green vegetables floated amidst the white and tender soup.
"Okay, please enjoy the meal."
Hisui spoke as he brought the pot to the table. For Rushella, this dinner was a first experience since her awakening -- the very first time for her to share a meal at the table as part of this group of four.
"...Somehow I get the feeling that this meal is more sumptuous than usual? Could it be that you're putting in special effort just because these two came?"
"It's not like I put in special effort. Although hotpot gives a suitable sense of luxury and filled stomachs, in actual fact, it's not difficult to prepare at all and quite an efficient way of cooking. It also makes full use of leftover vegetables. By the way, you girls should really eat your vegetables."
Ignoring Rushella's pouting, he began enjoying the meal with everyone else.
Hisui busied himself with replenishing ingredients and soup in the hotpot. In order to maintain the soup's sense of freshness, he used a filter to pick up froth and excess oil in the soup. Diligently, he added new chicken, meatballs as well as various vegetables.
"Hi-kun, you're really pro at this. I'd gladly take you as my bride right now❤"
"That's not something you say to guys."
"Oh my, but I'm really serious, you know? I could eat you up right here❤"
Saying that, Mei licked her luscious moistened lips.
Hisui knew very well she was not joking and silently averted his gaze. Perhaps just as Rushella had said, letting her into the house was not a wise decision.
"Hmm... Well, the taste is not bad. You really did put in extra effort today, right?"
Although Rushella was satisfied with the taste, she was still not in a particularly good mood, with clear displeasure on her face as she spoke.
"I already said I didn't. Like always, I took lazy shortcuts. Besides, hotpot as a choice in and of itself is already laziness in a way."
"Liar! Then how could it be so tasty!?"
"I'm not lying. If you had to say something was different, it's because of the act of having hotpot itself."
"Or maybe because we have a whole group here for company."
"What does that have to do with taste?"
"That's what hotpot is like as a type of cooking."
Hisui took the plate Rushella extended and served her various foods in balanced proportions. Naturally, he also placed a fair amount of vegetables that Rushella had been avoiding.
"What are you doing! Don't give me whatever you chose randomly!"
"Like I said, eat more vegetables. And stop breaking up the silken tofu into little pieces. If you're unable to pick it up with your chopsticks, just use a strainer."
Hisui lectured as he added a fair amount of tofu to her plate.
"...Because it's very difficult...... It's all this tool's fault!"
Despite complaining verbally, Rushella continued to shove into her mouth the tofu that Hisui had served her.
Even Eruru, who had not said a single word, was working away at the food with her chopsticks nonstop. Apparently tonight's cooking was rather suited to her tastes.
"But you... Never made hotpot for me before. Why today?"
Rushella's question made Hisui's expression darken.
"...Eating hotpot with just two people, would be a bit much."
"What do you mean by that!? You have something against eating with me!?"
"Hotpot reminds me of memories I don't want to recall..."
Hisui stated indifferently and stood up.
"It's about time to round up the hotpot meal with some porridge."
Saying that, he entered the kitchen to get the ingredients.
Watching his back as he left, Rushella imagined the boy's life at the dinner table before he met her.
Probably -- it was not too different from his life nowadays together with her.
Two people -- having a meal facing each other.
With a vampire.
But later on, he became alone.
And which type of cooking would bring out this heartbreaking sense of loneliness?
Definitely, cooking that required two or more participants to enjoy.
For example... Hotpot.
Even with a new member of the household, even with Rushella joining his dinner table -- was Hisui's loneliness still unable to be dispelled?
"......What a cowardly weakling."
Rushella grumbled with displeasure, sweeping the rest of the food in the hotpot onto her plate.
Then they finished the porridge and Hisui dutifully cleared the table and began washing the dishes and tableware.
Just as he was washing in the kitchen, Eruru suddenly came near him.
"Let me help. Accepting someone's hospitality without doing anything in return does not suit my style."
"Thanks... Although I'd like to thank you sincerely for your offer, what is up with that complaining expression on your face?"
"I have no complaints about your cooking. However, I wish to start on my true purpose for coming to this place."
"I got it. Let me finish the stuff on hand first."
"That is why I am helping. Get it done quickly."
As Eruru hastened verbally, she was also very efficient in action. In short time, all the tableware was washed and she was finally able to cut to the main purpose and begin her work.
"...Then let's go. To the basement."
Hisui led her through the living room.
And ended up being caught by Rushella, observant as ever.
"Where are you two going!?"
"Oh my, it's you two together again. Aren't you teaming up quite frequently lately?"
Mei also joined in, questioning Hisui as she rested her chin on her hands. Hisui could not be bothered to answer her.
"This is work, I repeat, work. I don't know how long she'll take, but I'm coming back immediately. You two should take a bath first."
"Got it. I'll be waiting on your bed, please hurry?"
"...Sleep on the living room sofa tonight, okay?"
Hisui grumbled in response to Mei's tempting seductions, then led Eruru to the basement.
As they descended the staircase, the lighting switched from light bulbs to old fashioned candle stands. With great interest, Eruru surveyed her surroundings.
"This style and atmosphere is pretty effective. I finally get a slight sense that I am visiting a vampire's castle."
"That's all in the past. This is now the home of a human, me."
"Is there not a vampire living here currently? Has she been down here?"
"Are there any vampires in this world who would willingly go to a place where there's a giant cross stuck in the ground? She was curious originally, but once I told her, she avoided this place."
Hisui's explanation made Eruru's expression awkward. After all, she was afraid of crosses too.
"Don't worry, I moved it somewhere else today."
Hisui stopped and pointed somewhere close ahead.
Illuminated by candlelight, one could see a library filled with innumerable bookshelves.
Scattered over the floor were books that could not fit in the filled shelves, clearly displaying their massive numbers and ancient history.
The library's collection of books was quite varied and in depth, with virtually all them in foreign languages, clearly exhibiting the former owner's vast knowledge.
"I guess it counts as the inheritance left behind by my foster parent. She really loved books and would sometimes shut herself down here to read. So, what you're looking for should be over there?"
Hisui walked over to a certain corner in the library and asked Eruru as he pointed to the vast book collection.
"Probably somewhere here... Books about witches."
Eruru carefully browsed the titles on the books' spines, searching for the keyword "witch." Even given her foreign language abilities, she could only read half of them, but she soon found a book related to witches.
"A vampire collecting books on witches...? What purpose did she have?"
"In my view, purely out of interest? Besides, she experienced "witch hunts" personally herself. She mentioned that she was almost mistaken for a witch once."
"I have heard of traditions which regard vampires and witches as the same, could it be possible it stems from your foster parent?"
"This vexes me but I have no way of refuting that possibility... Well, just research as much as you want. If necessary, you can even borrow and take them away."
"Then I shall respectfully accept your offer."
Eruru sat down on the ground and began to browse through a book she casually grabbed.
This was going to be a rather arduous task, but there was no hesitation in her eyes.
"...Don't overwork yourself, okay?"
"I do not need you to worry over me."
Hearing Eruru's cold response, Hisui forced a smile and left the basement.
While Hisui went underground, Rushella went to take a bath -- Mei took this opportunity to go to the second floor.
She had no interest in Eruru's work in the first place.
Of course when her help was needed, she was still going to fulfill her duties in deference to her salary -- but the whole reason she came to Hisui's house today was purely personal business.
That's right -- everything was for her childbearing plan.
"At his house on a holiday -- this inevitable day has finally arrived......"
Mei smiled malevolently and began to explore the second floor.
She had already confirmed this floor was the location of Hisui's bedroom.
As the main battlefield where her ecstatic baby making battle will take place, it was quite necessary to ascertain the physical location beforehand.
"Hmm...... Could it be this one?"
Mei opened the first sliding door. The handle's style was rather luxurious and old fashioned. Entering the room, the sight was even more astonishing.
It rivaled the palaces where royalty and nobility resided.
An extra large canopy bed. Priceless antiques and art work were everywhere. The bed was covered with a beautiful red velvet blanket which looked extremely soft. From the wallpaper down to the smallest articles, everything was chosen carefully in aesthetics.
The room was large enough to take up most of the second floor, but no matter how you looked at it, it did not seem to be Hisui's room.
Rather, all the designs in view were quite feminine.
However, the place lacked mirrors and a dressing table, essential elements of a girl's room, giving one a very unnatural feeling. But as soon as she saw the jet black coffin placed beside the bed, Mei instantly understood.
Definitely a vampire's room.
Which was why there were no mirrors. Because mirrors would not show the reflection of the master, they were meaningless.
A vampire's characteristic -- no reflection in the mirror. Also, there was the fear of sunlight. Hence the room's curtains were made of thick fabric for blocking light.
"A wrong guess eh?"
Mei prepared to leave in disappointment but unfortunately ran into Rushella just as she was returning to her room after her bath. Naturally, she was wearing just a shirt as per her usual casual attire.
"What are you doing in my room!?"
"Nothing. But your room surely costs a fortune. Could Hi-kun's finances be quite stretched?"
"This room was originally like this! Thanks to that, I am currently very satisfied."
Clearly pleased with the room, Rushella crossed her arms as she nodded.
On the other hand, Mei looked up at the ceiling with a serious expression.
"What is it, is there a problem?"
"If that is what you say... Then Hi-kun has always kept the room in its original condition? Even after that vampire died."
Hearing that, Rushella was shocked and rooted to the spot.
Indeed... That was true.
Thinking back, all the furniture was free of dust and the room was very clean when she moved in here.
All this time, Hisui must have been -- cleaning regularly.
"This looks bad......"
"What do you mean by that......?"
"Have you heard of Hikaru Genji?"
"I learned about him in class. It's that guy who tried to pursue his stepmother in addition to various women at the same time. He even went as far as to kidnap a young girl to raise according to his preferences, that really despicable man, right!?"
"...Well, yes, even though parts of the content is undeniable... Nevertheless it is still a world-famous classic of Japanese literature. Furthermore, doesn't this tale contain a hidden truth that is applicable now?"
"What do you mean?"
"What I mean is, men are unable to free themselves from the shadow of their mother. Shouldn't you understand that better than me?"
Mei stared at Rushella as if she has discerned something.
Rushella simply turned her face away and grumbled impatiently.
"...Really? Even if Hisui-kun is uninterested in you as a Lady Fujitsubo, what about the other one? Perhaps he is planning on nurturing his own Murasaki, who knows?"
"What on earth are you trying to say...?"
"Would a vampire raise a human child for no reason at all? What would you have done if you were in her place?"
"Normally, this situation is impossible. However, for an immortal vampire with eternal youth, waiting for a decade or two is nothing, right? Perhaps -- she was simply waiting."
"Waiting for what?"
Rushella asked softly. She did not want to ask, but she had to know -- such were the emotions carried in her voice.
"Waiting for Hi-kun to be raised into a man of her liking. Then suck his blood and easily convert him into a fellow member of her race. Furthermore, Hi-kun most likely cannot be unaware of her intentions... But even after realizing it, he still stayed with her, so that means, Hi-kun also..."
Saying that, Mei glanced sideways suggestively at Rushella.
Rushella simply stood there with her fists clenched tight.
Mei did not provoke her any further and turned back to her original goal.
"Since this is your room... Could Hi-kun's room be over there!?"
"Ah, wait a minute, you...!"
Before Rushella could stop her, Mei intruded into Hisui's room.
This was a very ordinary western style bedroom. Its area was also standard for a high school student, with nothing special about it.
A desk and a steel bookcase. Manga and CDs scattered on the floor along with clothes. No matter how you looked at it, this was a very ordinary high school student's room.
"Hmm... Nothing out of ordinary at a cursory glance."
"I am asking you, what are you thinking!? Why have you come to that guy's room!?"
"Just scouting. In order for baby making to be successful, I need to get a complete grasp of his preferences. Isn't this common sense?"
"I-I don't know!"
The term "baby making" clearly made Rushella's face blush.
Mei went "hmph," threw Rushella a glance and continued exploring the room.
"I really have to reach a deeper understanding of Hi-kun... I must look here!"
Mei dived beneath the bed as if performing a baserunner's slide.
"Hey, why are you following me!?"
"Shut up, this is my freedom! Be quick with it, what have you found here?"
"Oh come on, you didn't know? When it comes to under the bed, this is a man's private space... Sexual dispositions and that sort of stuff will be completely revealed! Well, in short, this is a treasure trove of the worst kind of publications."
"What do you mean by 'wurst kind of publications'!?"
"...You really want me to explain right here?"
"You're talking about that, those whatever 'dourinshi,' very thin booklets, right?"
"You're only half right. After all, they can be targeted towards all age groups, you should stop with that strange sense of prejudice. Anyway, this is off topic, let's hurry and check out Hi-kun's tastes...!"
Mei reached out towards the depths of the dark underbed.
Perhaps driven by a sense of defiant opposition, Rushella joined into the fray.
"What are you doing, searching around as well!?"
"Shut up, understanding the servant is my duty!"
Under the bed, their skirmish reached a stalemate.
These frail-looking girls wrestled together, fighting over the treasure known as the worst kind of publications.
Nevertheless, their efforts ended fruitlessly.
More accurately, nothing was hidden beneath Hisui's bed.
"...Nothing here? Or it's hidden in a more intricate location!?"
"Hmph, that's all a person of your level can do after all! I, on the other hand, was able to find something, see?"
Rushella smiled victoriously and crawled out from under the bed, holding her spoils up in the air.
"What is that?"
Rushella's hand held neither the worst kind of publication nor one of those thin booklets -- instead, it was a bottle that could fit in one's palm. The bottle was sealed with a quaint-looking cork and the contents were rather ordinary looking -- ash.
"So, what could this be?"
"I'm the one who asked first, don't you go asking me back!"
"But even if you say that..."
The two beauties began to ponder together.
At this very moment, the master of the room stood at the door, completely astonished.
Having finished his task as Eruru's guide, he had left the basement to return to his room.
"...What are you two doing in other people's room?"
" "......" "
The two girls hung their heads in shame.
What have they done, after all?
The awkward atmosphere hanging over the trio persisted for a moment, until Hisui noticed the bottle in Rushella's hand and broke the silence.
"Give that back..."
Hisui walked over to Rushella, trying to take back the bottle.
In the face of Hisui's forceful demeanor, even Rushella obeyed quietly without resistance.
Hisui ignored the shocked vampire and simply placed the bottle into his pocket.
"Don't hang around in a room that's not yours. If you don't have any other business, then hurry and get out."
Hisui declared gruffly. In response, Rushella resumed her usual airs and objected.
"How dare you speak in such a manner!? Also, what on earth was that!?"
"Ah, perhaps it's sand from a beach they visited together in the past?"
Mei tried to calm the situation and suggested half-jokingly.
However, Hisui refuted with an icy-cold expression.
"...This counts as ashes of the dead, I suppose? Using a human term."
This statement made Rushella and Mei look at each other awkwardly.
They both knew his past. More accurately, they knew roughly what happened, because Hisui himself seldom talked about his experiences.
But they both knew that the vampire who raised Hisui was already destroyed.
As for a vampire's demise, both understood very well.
It was complete and utter destruction.
A body once blessed with eternal vigor, transformed into dust, scattered to oblivion, finally leaving nothing behind.
"I was only able to gather... This much."
In the end, all that was left in the palm of his hand, was this much.
In that moment, the merciless wind had robbed him of her remains, taking them to oblivion.
"How utterly inane."
These merciless words made Hisui's entire body shudder. Mei too, turned to face Rushella with a shocked expression.
"For someone already destroyed, what meaning is there in her remains? You... How much longer are you going to let yourself be fettered like this?"
"...Nothing like that. This simply counts as familial attachment or should I say, a ritual... Nothing more."
"My room... You've always kept it in the same condition as when that woman was alive, right? You must have been cleaning it all this time. You're utterly worthless, you know?"
Rushella continued to scold.
Mei motioned with her eyes to tell Rushella to stop, but she was completely oblivious.
"Those furniture and that bed... I'm going to throw them all out and buy new ones. Why do I have to use second hand goods from someone else!?"
Rushella continued with her arrogant rhetoric.
But her gaze towards Hisui carried pity in her eyes.
Having turned around, Hisui did not notice her gaze and simply answered indifferently.
"Do with them as you wish."
"If you want to change them, then go ahead and buy new ones. To be honest, I'm getting tired of them too."
"But you'll have to pay for them yourself. Also, you have to handle getting rid of the old furniture. Ah, why don't you simply sell them to recover part of the cost, it should save quite a bit."
Then there was heavy silence.
Without saying anything, Mei's gaze began to wander.
Finally, Rushella spoke up.
"Are you joking? If money is squandered recklessly, there's no way to survive in the human world."
Hisui said indifferently and left the room.
The two girls did not follow.
Hisui returned to the empty living room and sat on the sofa, watching television for a while. Then he took out the bottle from his pocket.
Eruru mentioned before that he was carrying two articles when he returned from abroad -- this was the second piece.
Treasuring it by his side at all times, recollecting sad memories from time to time -- was not something that he did.
Hisui simply collected the ash, poured it into a bottle, took it home, and kept it under the bed -- simply that.
Perhaps he would never have looked at it again.
Just as Rushella said, he was utterly worthless.
Clearly this was only ash rather than Miraluka herself.
Hisui dispelled his melancholy and stood up.
Agonizing over the past was not going to change anything. Hence, Hisui decided to take a bath first, wash his hair, and refresh himself. He was also a little concerned about Eruru who was still downstairs.
Hisui walked to the bathroom and took off his clothes in front of the door.
Rushella and Mei were probably still on the second floor. He could not hear anything from them.
Eruru was working hard in the basement.
Encountering someone just as he was taking off his clothes -- should not happen.
The bathroom's sliding door was open and the lights were off. Calling out, he confirmed there was no one inside.
Everything was OK -- in theory.
Up until the point when he sat down on the bathing stool, there were no problems.
But as soon as he sat down, he heard a sound from behind and something jumped down from the ceiling.
Hisui was going to turn around to check out what happened, but the soft sensation of something pressing on his back made him froze.
Then a supple arm extended forward from behind, embracing him by the waist.
Additionally -- sweet breath was blowing by his ear.
"Excuse me~~ Sudou-san?"
"Oh my, you realized it was me just from the feeling of my embrace?"
"Only you would do such a thing! Where did you pop out from...!?"
"I was pressed against the corner of the ceiling all along. Using only static friction and muscle power, I kept myself against the wall, so tiring❤"
"What is with that terrifying power and persistence of yours!? Surely you must be using your artificial strength in all the wrong places!?"
In the past, Frankenstein's creature, born in a cold and sterile laboratory, out of hatred, had charged into his creator's life with ferocity that would put modern stalkers to shame -- now in different time and place, the creatures' persistence seemed to have been redirected towards procreation instead.
Here in this bathroom, both of them were completely naked.
"I've been waiting, waiting for this very moment when Hi-kun would take your clothes off yourself...! Finally, accept your fate!!"
"This must have been your goal from the beginning... Could it be possible, the witch was by my side all along!?"
"Hi-kun is so silly... All women are witches, you know?"
Saying that, Mei pressed her body even tighter against him.
Hisui could feel those exceedingly bouncy and heavy fruit against his back.
Mobilizing all the nerves in his body to cut off the sensations from his back, he banished that devilish warmth from his mind.
It is empty.
There is nothing on his back.
Hence, there was nothing pressing against him.
"Ah, stop it, Hi-kun, stop moving....... You're rubbing against the tips, can you feel that......"
"What are you talking about, Sudou-san... I can't feel anything, you know? It must be my imagination, but I seem to be feeling a little bit of softness and warmth on my back, that must be something like meat buns, right? There seems to be something slightly hard on the tips, it must be that, the peas on the top of shumai, right? Definitely, it can't be that thing that babies suck on, right!?"
"...Well aren't you fully aware. Hey, ignoring me like this...... That's so unfair."
Mei's hand of the devil reached between Hisui's legs. With his entire body bare except for the towel covering that location, Hisui barely managed to maintain his last line of defense.
Mei's beautifully slender and pale hand was caressing Hisui's hand which desperately kept the towel in position.
"Seriously... You're desperately holding back. Hi-kun, let your blood fill up this location... And turn into your Anti-Drac mode, how's that.....?"
"Stop using my body's constitution to make dirty jokes...... This little guy here is just as shy as his master, me! Faced with such a sudden situation, he doesn't know how to react!"
With Mei's other arm firmly wrapped around his waist, Hisui could not escape even if he tried. An artificial human's arm strength was completely different from what that devilish supple skin would suggest. Were he to offer the slightest resistance, very likely, he would instantly lose two or three ribs.
"Hey... It's about time you give up on resisting, right?"
"Stop it... Don't blow in my ear! Ah, ahhh, s-stop it...... Don't bite my earlobe..."
Already holding his earlobe in her mouth, she went on to bite lightly.
Mei's lips and tongue deftly played with his earlobe, gradually exiling Hisui's consciousness.
"I've said this before, I am the blowup doll equipped with forty-eight different modes of pleasure...... Faced with my devilish light biting, your consciousness will fly away to the ends of the sky soon."
"I've said this too, that statement you just made is an insult to your artificial human ancestors......"
Hisui's voice of protest was already extremely weak.
Feeling victory was at hand, Mei began to take more intense action.
Slipping the soap through her cleavage, she generated a large amount of soap suds.
Then she used her breasts, covered with soapy bubbles, to rub against Hisui's back.
"As I thought, bathroom play has to be done like this❤ These superb skills of mine, far surpassing those of soapland massage ladies, enjoy them well❤"
This was probably another one of her forty-eight modes of pleasure. Indeed, it felt extremely nice. Unbearably pleasurable.
While soap suds and breasts were performing a symphony of ecstasy, two protrusions rubbed against him from time to time, playing a low note, feeling like flashes of lightning that streaked across Hisui's back.
No good, no good, no good, no good, no good, no good, no good, no good, extra super no good!
Using the last of his sanity, Hisui reached out towards the sink. Turning the tap to its fullest, he filled it.
Then he splashed all the water towards Mei's face behind him.
"Ah, so cold!"
Surprised by the sudden attack, Mei finally let go of Hisui.
Taking advantage of the opening, Hisui slid the bathroom door open and attempted to escape.
However, Mei hugged his waist from behind, dragging Hisui along the ground. Only his upper torso made it out the door, but there was no escape.
"Wait up, Hi-kun... Are you trying to disgrace a girl!?"
"Why don't you consider my shame first! Hey, someone, hurry and save me~~!!"
Hisui abandoned his pride and cried for help directly. To his surprise, his reinforcements ended up arriving quite quickly.
Then Hisui immediately regretted his rash decision.
"What!? Did the witch chase us to your home!?"
"What happened!? I was just coming up for a brief break, and now there is a situation!?"
Rushella and Eruru opened the door to the changing area and rushed inside.
The heroic saviors arriving in haste were frozen by the sight of naked Hisui sprawled over the the floor at the bathroom entrance.
Fortunately, his lower torso was still inside the bathroom, so they did not see everything -- but the two girls immediately realized it was Mei inside tugging Hisui.
"Ah, excuse me, my two heroes, allow me to explain......"
"Hi-kun asked me to help wash his back, that is why I......"
Mei suddenly acted rather docile and awkwardly twiddled her fingers.
Hisui instantly went pale as he listened.
"I already said I was embarrassed, but he insisted......!"
"Eh----!? What a liar! As if anyone would believe you......"
Without changing expressions, Rushella took out her favorite short sword and entered a stance. Eruru took out her anti-vampire sacred gun, "Argentum," and undid the safety.
"Hey, wait a sec, isn't this too strange!? It's my virginity that's at risk here! Can't you two understand, this kind of situation!? Hey, why aren't you talking!? Why are you so expressionless!? Calm down, stop, don't, stop now ---- !!"
Before the bathwater had cooled, Mei already left the scene alone.
After that, in the bath tub that was large enough to hold two or three people, floated the body of a boy who resembled a drowned corpse. It was Hisui, completely beaten up with his face entirely bruised.
The blood from his wounds dyed the bathwater red, highlighting the tragic ending.
Kujou Hisui, in accordance to his name, was submerged in water dyed scarlet by the bathwater additive known as fresh blood.
Late at night.
Rushella and Mei having gone to bed, Eruru continued to read alone in the basement.
Thanks to her half heritage of vampire blood, there was no exhaustion showing on her face. Using illumination from old fashioned candlelight, she perused ancient books without pause.
Having lost count of the number of books she had already read, Eruru closed another one and placed it on the floor.
Hearing footsteps approaching, clear displeasure appeared on her face.
"What business do you have, Kujou-san who not only tricks girls to enter his house, but even commands them to enter the bathroom?"
"What is with that tone of voice? Perhaps just as Rushella said, I shouldn't have brought you two to my home. I'm still hurting all over from those wounds."
Almost turned unfairly into a drowned ghost, Hisui grumbled as he exercised his shoulder.
He almost expected himself to die.
"It is already late, how about you go to sleep? Go and share Sudou-san's bed."
"Who do you think I am... Are you trying to send little Red Riding Hood to the hungry wolf's nest?"
"Then it would be best if you were eaten by a wolf. Fine, why are you here?"
"Only to see how you're doing here. Also, this is for you."
Hisui put forward a tray with a plate and a coffee cup. The plate was holding a seaweed sandwich while the coffee cup contained hot milk with sugar added.
"This is your midnight snack. Don't stay up too late, okay?"
"Just like the one who lives in your house, I am more energetic at night. But anyway... Thanks."
Eruru took the tray and returned to the books.
But since Hisui had prepared her a snack which could be eaten while she worked, Eruru held the sandwich in one hand in response to his unspoken offer of care.
"So -- any results so far?"
"...Nothing much at this point. Even though the resources here are great, ultimately most accounts of witches are written by third party researchers. Considering Europe's literacy rate at the time these were written, as well as the secretive ways of witches, this cannot be helped..."
His hopes dashed, Hisui slumped his shoulders in disappointment.
As expected, the power of witches were passed from mother to daughter, from master to disciple. Secret rituals which were never divulged to outsiders.
"However, there are many interesting records here. For example, the countering of the "mystic eyes" as part of anti-vampire strategies. Apparently, this simply summarizes the findings through repeated trials and failures. For example, one could set up a barrier to hide behind and avoid the effects. However, the spellcaster is rendered immobile, hence it lacks practicality. However, even if one wore a talisman, there would not be much use. In order to counter the "mystic eyes," a more direct method of resistance is required -- that is what this says."
"Not yet succeeded? But these records were written centuries ago, perhaps it could have been realized already by now? What about the others?"
"Other information worthy of reference include various records on the drugs and potions concocted by witches. Although the effects of these drugs vary greatly, making them odorless and tasteless seems to be impossible. Even if mixed into food or drink, much work needs to be done in regards to the taste, otherwise the target would notice instantly. If the drug's originates from a herb, then the other ingredients must match. Ideally, those whose taste would not be ruined by the herb's essential oils."
"I see. So if you want someone to eat a witch's poisoned apple, make it into an apple pie... Something like that?"
"Basically. A drug's effectiveness is inversely proportional to its concentration. If it is not a particularly powerful drug, there is no need to spend too much effort on the cooking."
"But if it's added to plain water, then all sorts of covering up must be done. However, how do 'witches' do it......"
Hisui sat on the floor and began to ponder. Eruru took out one of those plastic bags for police evidence and showed it to him.
Hisui could recognize the object inside the bag.
That was the paper bag he had found in the trash at the home economics preparation room.
"Before coming to your house, this was already analyzed."
"Hmm. So what's the result, found anything?"
"...In actual fact, you already understood what this was from the start, right? You knew what it was and what it is used for."
Eruru stared at Hisui as she asked.
Seeing her determined eyes which say "Do not dare fool me," Hisui had no choice but to speak seriously.
"Most likely... Seasoning herbs?"
Seasoning herbs -- in short, a mixture of various herbs for cooking.
Used for eliminating unpleasant odors from fish and meat, to make dishes more savory, they were often used in Europe and could be considered a type of spice.
Combinations of herbs varied from dish to dish. The required herbs were tied up with a string, placed in soup to boil together with the meat.
These were sold at the market, and one could find many simple seasoning herbs at the supermarket sealed in paper bags.
"After all, my foster parent came from Europe, so I've seen her used them in her usual cooking. Last time, the cooking practical was making thick soup, so using seasoning herbs should be perfectly reasonable, right?"
"At least my group did not use them. Probably none of the other groups as well... What about yours? Since you tried it, you should know, right?"
That's right -- the taste of the thick soup then, was still vivid in his memory.
For the level of a school cooking practical, it was too amazing.
Recalling it now, much effort must have been put into the seasoning. There had seemed to be a faint taste of herbs. In any case, the thing in Eruru's hand was definitely used by Hisui's group.
"Even if it were used... So what? You can buy it at the market, and there's no problem there. Boiling it in the soup, then throwing it out afterwards. Perfectly natural, right?"
"Then who was the one who used it? Excluding the great Rushella Dahm Draculea who did not participate seriously in cooking, was it you? Or Sudou-san?"
Eruru's acute interrogation caused Hisui to start doubting.
Naturally, he knew who used it.
He knew who was responsible for the pot and who's duties included the overall seasoning.
All were performed by Sera Reina.
"...It's the Class Rep who used it. So what? She was only trying to make the cooking tastier, and added an additional step, right?"
"According to the results of the analysis, other than ordinary herbs, mandrake 'leaves' were also detected."
Hisui stared wide in surprise.
Why would Reina have that kind of poisonous flower...!?
"What on earth is going on...?"
"I do not know. Only that, according to legend, the mandrake's 'leaves' have no medicinal properties. And in actual fact, neither you nor Sudou-san were affected at all. In the first place, this should not affect vampires--"
Regarding this point, Eruru seemed to lack a hypothesis for now. Puzzled, she shook her head.
However, the confirmed truth lay before their eyes.
"But, how could the mandrake's 'leaves' be obtained... Hey, could it be that thing from yesterday?"
"Apparently. After that, I took the flower you uprooted and found evidence of several leaves having been pulled out. Having no use for the flower, someone grafted it as an experiment in the flowerbed -- probably that was what happened? But then again, if medicinal properties were her goal, she should at least have taken the 'flower' back as well..."
As Eruru made her deductions, Hisui could not dispel the doubt in his mind.
Why would Reina...?
Not too long ago, she had been turned into a vampire's sacrifice. She should be an innocent and pure girl.
Reportedly, both her parents were devout Christians and she herself came from a Catholic school.
The quiet and gentle girl who should be the furthest possible from "witches," why would she?
"I understand your refusal to accept the truth, but this is solid fact. I have tested many things, but at the very least, she was the one who added mandrake leaves into the cooking -- this is unmistakable."
"...And so? Are you saying the class rep is the witch? Anyway, what about the herbal tea and scented candles you collected from the vice-president?"
"Of course they were analyzed. In terms of components, nothing unusual. I also brewed the herbal tea and drank it, the taste is quite good, very normal. I am also testing the scented candles right now -- apparently there is no problem."
Saying that, Eruru pointed to the candle stand on the wall.
Now that she mentioned it, Hisui did notice a faint fragrance in the air.
"...Hey, don't be so reckless. What would you do if there were a problem? Have you heard of that Sherlock Holmes short story called 'The Adventure of the Devil's Foot'? In order to test a poison, Holmes really suffered greatly."
"It was already analyzed beforehand. Besides, there is no problem with me drinking the stuff. Whether poisons targeting humans or vampires -- neither are effective against a halfbreed like me."
"Don't put it that way."
Hisui's words caused a shred of gloom to flash across Eruru's face.
The cursed blood coursing through her veins was what she hated most of all.
"...After all, it is the truth. It cannot be denied."
"After investigating, apparently the vice-president is essentially the only student who frequents the home economics preparation room. But the stuff she brought was fine. The only one left we should investigate is Horie-sensei who was supervising the cooking."
"Our group included, she was checking up on everyone's cooking process, and tried a little bit from each in the name of taste testing. Perhaps she could have done something then."
More importantly, she used to be a member of that Occult Research Club.
The name written on the back page was deeply engraved in Hisui and Eruru's memories.
"Regarding her case, investigations will take place after the holidays. In any case, checking out these resources is the first priority right now."
"Got it. So... Is there any way I can help?"
Hisui expected her to reply "No" or "Please leave and stop getting in my way" but Eruru did not refuse his assistance. Instead, she handed the emptied coffee cup over.
"...Another cup, please."
Hisui smiled in return, taking the cup and leaving the basement.
Translator's Notes and References
- Hikaru Genji(光源氏): the protagonist of the classic Japanese novel The Tale of Genji. Losing his mother in early childhood, he went on to develop romantic relations with numerous women, one of them being his stepmother, Lady Fujitsubo, who greatly resembled his mother and became his womanly ideal. Later on, Hikaru would encounter his stepmother's niece, Murasaki, whom he brought home to raise and educate to become the ideal woman of his dreams.
- As described in the previous note, Lady Fujitsubo is the stepmother while Murasaki is the stepmother's niece in the Tale of Genji.
- Kujou Hisui(紅城緋水): for the kanji in his name, both ku(紅) and hi(緋) mean the color red/scarlet, while 水 means water.
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