Silver Cross and Draculea:Volume05 Chapter2
Chapter 2 - Crimson Confusion
The night was filled with silence.
The full moon's radiance fell upon the water surface, reflecting quiet moonlight, almost seeming to dye the waves with a layer of serenity.
A retro-style western mansion was standing upright by the slightly protruding seashore while the refreshing sound of waves breaking could be heard in the distance.
This type of mansion would seem slightly comical in appearance, but it was fully-equipped hospice home.
Built intentionally by the sea, this luxurious hospice home evidently belonged to someone wealthy.
Nevertheless, its owner did not have much time left to enjoy it.
Because in her near and foreseeable future, she was fated to depart for heaven.
Presumably, the old lady understood this fact well. Sitting by the window, knitting, she watched the sea outside with a tender expression on her face.
Having lived to this day and age, she was totally at peace with the world without misgivings. No one was worth hating. Neither did she harbor any complaints towards fate. While listening to the quiet waves, she silently knitted.
A sudden visitor interrupted the quiet night.
The primitive sound of waves were playing an elegant serenade.
Seeing graceful footsteps approaching, the old lady--Welfica--smiled cordially and opened the window.
"It has been a while, vampire young lady."
Her gaze rested where the queen of the night was standing silently.
The snow-white complexion appearing in the darkness was astounding.
Rushella Dahm Draculea.
"My granddaughter is worried about you. You disappeared suddenly, didn't you?"
Kirika's grandmother--and master in the arts of magic--had already heard about Rushella's disappearance.
Her granddaughter had asked her to relay any news back to her. Even so, Welfica had not expected Rushella to come visiting alone.
"I have something to ask you."
Keeping a certain distance from Welfica, Rushella spoke.
She seemed to have lost weight. The fatigue on her face was also quite deep.
"What is it?"
Welfica's hands continued with her task while she responded to Rushella.
Her leisurely attitude surprised Rushella a little.
"So you're willing to answer me. I was thinking you'd contact your granddaughter first."
"You would have left if I did that... Or even try to stop me, using force as well, wouldn't you?"
Realizing that Welfica had predicted her plan, Rushella had no choice but to conceal her right hand, holding her usual dagger behind her back.
"Fighting a vampire in the night would be a bit too much for these old bones. So, what would you like to ask?"
Rushella pointed at herself.
With the full moon behind her, the delicate-looking girl asked sorrowfully.
"Who am I?"
This question was filled with heart-wrenching pain.
This was a sense of loss originating from never possessing a personality in the first place rather than losing it.
Without any evidence to bear witness to her sense of self, Rushella's existence was so transparent, almost disappearing in the darkness of the night.
Seeing this girl who was the same age as her granddaughter, Welfica shook her head apologetically.
"I have no answer. Who you are is a question that you and the boy by your side should know, shouldn't it?"
"That woman called me an imposter."
Naturally, Rushella did not accept the cursory answer and brought up the heart-wrenching truth.
"If what she says is true, then who am I? A nameless someone pretending to be a True Ancestor? Then how does that explain emblem of fresh blood? Why don't I have memories? Why did I slumber until recently? Why--"
"Why did you encounter him. That's what you wish to ask, isn't it?"
Welfica smiled lightly
Her delightful smiling face made Rushella feel at a loss on what to do, falling silent.
But soon, she shook her head to refute Welfica's suggestion.
"Shut up... I've already forgotten him."
"Then why did you come here? If you've already cut off communications with him, then it would be best if you didn't see me."
"...Because there's no one else I can ask. I've tried searching for my origin on my own. Those whatever occult researchers and historians, I used the mystic eyes to make them talk but never got any satisfactory response. No helping it, my only choice was to come to you."
"I see. But I guess I will be disappointing you. Last time, I've already told you everything I knew."
"The True Ancestors are no longer... The final True Ancestor was Miraluka, right? In that case, who am I!?"
"Why don't you ask her directly?"
Rushella made a conflicted look.
That would surely be the fastest way.
The one she should find first was Miraluka.
"I've learned from Kirika's text that she has already returned. She is currently at Kujou-kun's home... Rather, she is currently at her own home."
Rushella's face went livid.
Clenching her fists desperately, she gritted her teeth.
"I used to think that the word 'death' was the furthest thing one would associate with her... As one would expect, she is still alive. Isn't this perfect? That also gives you a reason to go back."
"Like anyone would..."
Rushella was unable to reject the notion wholly.
Welfica continued, trying to persuade her.
"Suppose I or anyone else knew about the truth of your identity and told you--Even then, you still won't find salvation."
"How would you know?"
"Anyone would know after living for so long, even if I am just a short-lived human. You simply wish to find out about your past so as to fill the void in your heart. And no matter who you are, the present will not change."
"What difference does it make if I go back?"
She murmured indifferently.
Because she had already made her decision in her heart.
If she was going to return shamelessly now that things had gotten to this point, she would not have decided to disappear in the first place.
"It'll just end up repeating the same old same old. It's better that I'm not there, especially with that woman there. We won't see each other again."
"My, how pessimistic you are. Last time I saw you, the brightness of day was exuding from all over your body, almost like you weren't a vampire."
"Follow your own choice, but do not regret it. However, you should pay a little more attention to taking care of your body, shouldn't you?"
"What are you talking about?"
Seeing Rushella play dumb, Welfica extended her left hand towards her.
There was a tiny droplet of blood on her left index finger.
This was a small wound pricked by the knitting needle she was holding under her arm.
The droplet of blood, seeping through the skin, caused a change in Rushella's eyes.
They became crimson.
Her nostrils quivered as she bared her sharp fangs.
Driven by instinct, Rushella felt compelled to approach Welfica. With great difficulty, she stopped herself, covered her nose and mouth then backed away.
"Desiring blood from even someone as old and decrepit as I am... You must be quite thirsty, evidently. I've heard from Kirika that you did not take with you the backup supplies of Kujou-kun's blood. I can't believe you really refrained from drinking the slightest drop of blood all this time?"
Rushella did not answer. Hugging herself tightly, she clutched her arms desperately, her fingernails digging deeply into her flesh, trying her hardest to control her breathing.
"You should understand. No vampire can escape the destiny of blood. Opposing your instincts will only kill your mind. Why are you so stubborn?"
Rushella finally regained her sanity. Leaving Welfica, she stood somewhere even farther away.
"Sorry for disturbing you. If possible, please don't tell Hisui and the others about my visit."
"I can't promise you that. If her friend doesn't return, Kirika will feel sad."
Rushella did not say anything more.
Turning around, she took a leap, jumping over a building and ran down the hill.
As expected of a vampire at night, that speed was extraordinary.
There was no hope in chasing after her. Contacting Hisui's group now was pointless too.
With slight sadness, Welfica watched her leave then returned to her task at hand.
The surroundings returned to silence quickly as the black night grew even darker.
Dawn was still quite far away.
"Look at that troubled face of yours. What's the matter? Something made you unhappy?"
"Why don't you ask yourself honestly? Please don't come to school again."
At the dining table, two people were sitting face to face. Hisui grumbled with a scowl on his face.
Tonight's menu included meat and potato stew, with pickled vegetables and spinach as side dishes. It had been a while since Hisui had eaten this type of traditional Japanese cuisine.
With Miraluka as the chef, needless to say, the taste was excellent--rather, to Hisui, this counted as the nostalgic flavor of everyday home cooking. No matter how much his mouth complained, the chopsticks in his hand never stopped delivering food for an instant.
Having lived for so long, this vampire's cooking skills had reached the level of master chefs. Even Japanese cooking was a piece of cake for her.
Ever since Hisui reached middle school, she had seldom cooked personally, but today was a rare occasion when she showed off after so long.
"What's wrong with a parent going to see their child's learning? High school is not compulsory education and requires tuition to be paid. In other words, the person paying has the right to know what kind of learning attitude is shown by the one who is going to school, don't you agree?"
Unable to find counterarguments against her legitimate words, Hisui's face turned even worse.
Although he had experience living on his own, this was not total independence seeng as he was enjoying the inheritance left behind by Miraluka.
It was reasonable if she were actually dead, but now that she turned out to be alive... Hisui had no words to refute her at all.
"...It really pisses me off that your cooking is so delicious."
"What did you say?"
Hisui shut up and continued eating.
This really was a taste that brought back memories.
Only the real Miraluka was capable of making this type of taste.
Pretending to help out in the kitchen, Hisui had observed her every movement earlier. Even her experienced techniques were identical to what he had seen in the past.
Hisui was not doubting the authenticity of the person before his eyes, but he simply could not believe in her return completely.
Quite shaken, his heart felt lacking in a sense of reality.
Bit by bit, this feeling was changing the ordinary daily life the two of them were sharing together.
Something was missing in his heart.
"What's the matter? You're spacing out, staring at my face."
"...Nothing. I'm full. Let me clear up."
Avoiding Miraluka's gaze, Hisui took the utensils to be washed.
Although the queen-like Miraluka was capable of cooking, she left all the other chores to Hisui.
While washing the dishes, Hisui casually asked her.
"By the way, do you really not know where Rushella went?"
"No idea. I wanted to ask you, actually. It looks like she's quite stubborn about you. Why did she just leave?"
Hisui feigned calmness and answered emotionlessly.
Instead of asking face to face directly, he asked the question while engaged in other tasks so as to hide the agitation in his heart.
"Did she feel fear towards me...? I doubt it. But it is a little troublesome that she disappeared."
"What do you mean?"
"...You didn't know Rushella, right? Yesterday, you even asked me how I came to know her... Is it actually possible for you to have vampires you don't know?"
"Of course. To me, all vampires are strangers apart from myself. Other True Ancestors probably feel a sense of responsibility towards their servants and descendants, but I have no family apart from you. Hence, I need not care."
Having shifted their location to the living room, in front of the television, Miraluka explained nonchalantly.
Like Hisui, she was uninterested in these topics when occupied with other tasks.
"Then... What's Rushella's identity? A vampire who isn't a True Ancestor... But she possesses the characteristics of True Ancestors you told me about. Blood stains that automatically arranges themselves into emblems, mystic eyes that can control all creation. She... Who on earth is she?"
After finishing the dishes, Hisui took off his apron and returned to the living room.
But Miraluka did not look at him.
"You're really concerned about her. While I was away, did you start having feelings for her?"
"Answer my question. Why does she, an imposter as alleged by you, share the same characteristics as a True Ancestor like you?"
"Try thinking a little on your own."
Hearing that, Hisui could not help but feel anger rising in his heart, but Miraluka remained unfazed.
Perhaps because there was nothing worth watching at the moment, Miraluka switched the television off in boredom. Her eyes still glued to the dark screen, she began to speak tirelessly as though reciting a poem.
"I've always been alone, but the other True Ancestors were different. Their own bloodlines, or rather, what one would call the prosperity of the vampire race--They would regard this matter as a crucial priority. I suppose True Ancestors like these have existed. In that case, they had to consider countermeasures: how chould they maintain the rule of vampires after their destruction? Within their own blood kin, how could they nurture capable successors? They must have dedicated much thought into these issues. Otherwise, they would have sought my help then denounce me for refusing them."
"What the heck!? What did the other True Ancestors do? That vampire, Pure of the Pure, the one we fought previously, he said he wanted to ask you for a favor to revive his clan. Is this related!?"
"This is my first time hearing of it. To think you fought a Pure of the Pure and survived, as expected of my family... Rather, it was thanks to your constitution, right?"
"Either way, it's your credit, right? What now, you're starting to brag?"
Hisui retorted unhappily while Miraluka smiled faintly.
"Indeed, I'd like to brag a bit every now and then. I've raised you so well, to become such a great match for me."
Before he knew it, Miraluka was already before his eyes.
As a vampire, concealing her presence while moving was as natural as breathing. Without giving Hisui any time to react, she embraced Hisui.
"My prided son... Can I call you that? Or would it be better to call you my younger brother?"
"In terms of age, I don't even qualify as a great-grandson..."
"So noisy, shut up."
Hugging Hisui tightly, she buried his face into her excessively voluptuous bosom.
A concentrated and sweet fragrance filled his nostrils. An adult scent that other girls could not compare with at all.
Different from Rushella.
Unexpectedly, she released him readily... Then Miraluka brought her lips up close.
Hisui expected her to aim for his lips... But Miraluka kissed his forehead instead.
"I don't know what you're thinking, but I never did anything to that imposter. If you've got something to say, it'd be best if you voice your concerns and talk to me clearly."
"...It's not like what you think. Although I want to get to the bottom of things, if you don't know... Then forget about it."
"You believe me?"
"If I don't believe you, who would?"
Hisui answered gruffly, bringing a wry smile to Miraluka's face.
Seeing her calm and composed smile, Hisui suddenly felt the agitation in his heart rise dramatically, so he left the living room.
Arriving at his room on the second floor, he lay down on the bed and stared at the ceiling with nothing better to do.
Miraluka knew something.
She definitely knew something about Rushella's origins.
If he stubbornly questioned her, he would probably be able to get her to answer.
Nevertheless, Hisui could not do it.
Whether about Rushella's past or his suspicions against Miraluka, Hisui was unable to voice his doubts.
Even the cellphone beside him felt repulsive--He did not want to confide in Eruru and the other girls.
This series of self-questioning was making Hisui very agitated.
The fluorescent lighting overhead seemed to be annoying him on purpose. Hisui raised an arm to cover his eyes, plunging himself into darkness.
"Am I afraid?"
Muttering alone, no one answered him.
Despite the presence of the parent whom he had spent many years together and the room he had lived in for so many years, Hisui felt inexorably lonely.
In the dark basement, candle light flickered from the ancient candlesticks.
Scented candles burned quietly, filling the basement with the color and fragrance of fantasy, turning the place into a vampire's stronghold.
The table of ebony finally welcomed its true master who had disppeared for so long--Miraluka.
Late at night, past midnight, she came to the basement.
A large collection of books, wine, as well as the sacred cross sword, Tzara Blade, which slept here. This was virtually like her castle.
She usually spent her nights sleeping in the room where Rushella had stayed, but apart from that, she would always come to this place.
Holding in her hand a glass that was like a piece of high-class artwork, Miraluka unsealed a bottle of red wine from her prized collection.
A rich aroma began to spread in the basement, stronger than the smell of the scented candles, yet neither fragrance mixed with the other.
Sight, smell and taste--She immersed herself in the pleasures of the senses brought about by the fine wine while examining her own arm.
If one was fortunate enough to discover the lost arm of Venus de Milo, surely it would be the arm before her eyes--that perfect and blemish-free arm of hers would inspire such fantasies in the viewer.
Clear skin that was so pale that it would seem slightly pathological.
Anyone would feel the desire to touch her, yet fearing that her beauty might become damaged, deciding in the end to simply stare silently from afar, admiring that perfect skin which only existed in fantasy.
This skin, belonging to the pinnacle of all vampires, forbade all acts of encroachment.
There was a tiny crack in the palm of her hand.
Rather than the result of rough skin rupturing, this blemish seemed as natural as a crack in a mineral.
For a vampire who possessed absolute powers of regeneration, let alone Miraluka who stood as a True Ancestor, this type of wound was not supposed to exist in the first place.
Looking at her arm, Miraluka casually extended her hand into the white porcelain pot on the table.
Instantly, a new fragrance started spreading in the basement.
The fragrance of fresh blood.
The pot was filled with crimson blood.
Scattered in a mess around the pot were empty blood packs used for transfusions.
The volume was far too great if the blood's purpose was for slaking a vampire's thirst.
Rather than drinking it, Miraluka soaked her hand in the blood.
After a few brief seconds, she withdrew her hand.
Wiping the hand that had been covered in blood, she revealed the delicate hand of white.
Nevertheless, the wound remained.
Probably expecting this result, Miraluka did not show any gloom on her beautiful face.
Her philosophical voice simply resounded faintly in the basement.
"Just as I thought, old blood won't work eh?"
Miraluka licked the blood on her hand.
The tip of her crimson tongue, curled around her finger, looked very salacious.
Her eyes flashed with crimson light while the fangs protruding from the corners of her lips glinted coldly.
"What terrible flavor. I knew it, blood must be drunk directly."
Saying words that all vampires would agree with, Miraluka stood up.
Putting on the Inverness cape that was hanging on the wall, she departed with quick and lively footsteps.
Night was the time that belonged to her.
The queen's stroll began.
Late night--Reina was walking towards a convenience store.
Normally, this was not a time suitable for going out.
However, she happened to have trouble sleeping this night. Furthermore, drinks were out at home. In any case, due to various reasons, she had gone out tonight.
Since her parents were away from home because of work, Reina was free to go out at night.
The nearest convenience store to her home was only five minutes away on foot. There were still many pedestrians at night and there was little chance of running into crime.
Nevertheless, on this very night, the road was deserted.
The bone-chilling air stung her body, making Reina feel especially lonely.
Buying a drink at the convenience store, she quickly turned back to head home.
But along the way, a tall shadow passed her, brushing shoulder to shoulder.
The other person noticed her first and stopped, turning around.
Hearing someone call out to her, Reina looked back as well.
She could still remember that beautiful face.
She had seen her just earlier today during the school's open house. Hisui's--most likely Hisui's distant relative.
But encountering her at night, she gave off a completely different impression compared to the daytime. Her seductiveness was a whole level higher.
The invisible pressure given off from all over her body was making Reina back away.
Tripping slightly, Reina almost fell over.
She reached out to support herself against the concrete wall on her right, thus managing to maintain balance. But unluckily, there happened to be a small crack on the wall. The sharp concrete sliced through the skin of her palm, causing bleeding.
Even a dog would have difficulty detecting it, perhaps this could not even be called the smell of blood at all.
Nevertheless, the woman before her eyes smelled it.
Crimson light flashing in her eyes, she walked over.
"Are you okay?"
Smiling, she extended her slender arm of porcelain. But instead of looking at Reina's hand, the woman's eyes were staring at the drop of fresh blood.
Licking her crimson lips openly, clearly with ulterior motives, she approached Reina.
"I can tell from just the smell... You are a virgin. Please give a little of your blood to me."
Despite the polite language, her tone of voice was akin to a command.
Reina's entire body froze, too scared to move an inch.
Gazed at by those crimson eyes, her body felt rooted to the spot.
However, Reina had some recollection of that gaze.
Those eyes were a little similar to Rushella's... No, it was before that. Missing in her memories, the scene that happened the night before the sports festival.
No, tracing back even earlier--It was the first day of school when she saw Hisui for the first time.
At the time, she was also in this kind of dark environment, looking back because someone called her, then--
The terrifying past surfaced faintly in her mind, then disappeared like the rupturing of a soap bubble.
The chaotic memories confused her consciousness, preventing her from noticing the woman in front of her who had wiped the droplet of blood from her finger and approached her wound.
Like a gentleman, this beauty picked up the young maiden's hand reverently, bringing her lips to it.
Before such a salacious scene could be actualized, it was interrupted by yet another adorable intruder.
"This ends here."
Miraluka turned around to see Eruru standing there with a solemn expression.
Reina mumbled in daze.
Still scowling, Eruru urged her to hurry home.
"Girls should not be going out alone at this hour. Hurry home now."
Although these words applied to herself just as well, Eruru's tone of voice did not allow for any talking back.
Still hesitating, Reina remained rooted to the spot.
She was totally lost about the situation, but the dark noise originating from past memories was sounding in her heart.
Unwilling to get Eruru caught up, this thought occurred to her.
Eruru shouted forcefully, making Reina swallow the rest of her words.
The classmate and another classmate's parent--Reina looked worriedly at the two who were facing off, then bowed and quickly took her leave.
As soon as Reina was out of sight, Eruru aimed Argentum unerringly at Miraluka.
"Why have you taken out such a scary toy? Did I do something?"
"There is no mercy for vampires who are about to suck human blood."
"I was not thinking of drinking her blood."
Avoiding Eruru, Miraluka secretly brought the back of her hand which had wiped Reina's blood to where her skin was cracked.
Like parched earth absorbing moisture, the droplet of blood was rapidly sucked into the skin, seeping into the crack in her palm.
The skin instantly recovered its flawlessness, but this only lasted for a brief instant. Once the blood dried, the crack resurfaced once more.
"Even fresh blood from a virgin is not enough huh?"
"...What is the meaning of this? I knew it, you cannot go against your vampire nature and you are especially obsessed with a pure virgin's blood, is that it?"
"If you're talking about preferences, I prefer male blood. Furthermore, it is the blood of a valorous hero or one who is about to die. Free of lingering attachments, the taste is very special."
"How filthy. Ultimately, you are nothing more than a vampire."
"That's not something I want to hear from you, John's daughter."
Murderous intent instantly burned in Eruru's eyes. She increased the pressure of her finger against the trigger.
"Please do not mention that name before me ever again...!"
"One cannot change one's nature, just like me. Speaking of which, encountering you here cannot be coincidence, could it..."
"I have come to question you about the situation because you have become increasingly suspicious. You have been collecting large volumes of blood, haven't you? The amount is far too large for a vampire's thirst. Since you like fresh blood so much, it is unlikely that you would store up so much all at once. What is your goal? Also, why did you return?"
Eruru carefully judged the distance between them while firing off her questions.
Even though the opponent was a True Ancestor, a shot through the head or heart by a silver bullet would still produce a critical wound.
But it would be useless if she dodged.
The threat of a silver bullet was enough to intimidate or pin down an average vampire, but given Miraluka as an opponent, Eruru could not possibly withdraw unscathed without a one-shot kill.
"Do I need a reason to return? What's wrong with coming home? And what's so strange about a vampire desiring fresh blood?"
"I am not so naive that I would accept everything you and Kujou-san say at face value. The return of a vampire who should have perished... I see, this is not rare at all. But for you to return even when that Kujou-san firmly believed in your destruction, that is impossible. Who on earth are you?"
"My, you really trust my little one, don't you?"
Eruru went red in the face.
Miraluka smiled and continued.
"Hisui said I was destroyed and you believed him. But when I return, you suspect me. And now, you're pointing your gun at me. Why is that, little girl? Even if I'm an imposter, what do you gain by shooting me with your gun? Who are you doing this for, little girl?"
Eruru pulled the trigger.
The bullet's slightly deviating trajectory reflected her inner turmoil.
The high-speed bullet still shot towards Miraluka's brow between the eyes.
But did not hit.
Without dodging, Miraluka casually raised her right hand in front of her, effortlessly dissipating the bullet's power with a simple clench, easily catching the bullet.
"Good skills. Looks like there's some merit to the idea that dhampirs make the best vampire hunters."
"That is merely superstition. Making up plausible-sounding reasons to dump this filthy line of work naturally on those with filthy blood flowing in their veins...!"
"In that case, for whom do you fight? Even when scorned by the populace, will you stand on the side of humans? Or perhaps, right now... You are fighting for that boy?"
Eruru lifted her right hand, trying to follow up with another attack but Miraluka reached out with her left hand and grabbed her as though trying to crush Eruru's hand together with the gun's grip.
Without showing any fear, Eruru pulled the trigger at the same time.
But the result was the same. Even firing at point-blank range, the bullet was still stopped by Miraluka's right hand.
"Splendid skills indeed. This time, you aimed at the heart without hesitation. You have steeled your heart to destroy me, however--"
"'You must be dreaming if you want to pit these third-rate abilities against a True Ancestor'... Is that what you want to say? That would really resemble an evil villain's lines."
"Evil, you say? Is it a crime for vampires to desire fresh blood?"
"What are you trying to do to Sera-san this time!?"
"Nothing. I just happened to enounter a young virgin and wanted to test the effectiveness of her blood. That's all."
Miraluka answered nonchalantly.
Eruru frowned and re-appriased her behavior.
An inexplicably large volume of blood. It would be too much if used as a food source.
Then for what purpose?
Testing the effectiveness of blood?
Apart from drinking, what other purpose would a vampire have for blood?
From her standpoint as a dhampir, Eruru pondered Miraluka's purpose. Normally, she would never try to think in this manner.
But before she could reach a conclusion, it was Miraluka's turn to ask.
"Where is that vampire called Rushella?"
"Why are you asking that? I knew it, her disappearance has something to do with you!?"
"Are you worrying about a vampire?"
Miraluka fired her question, unable to suppress the mocking smile on her face.
Eruru did not expect herself to say something like that. Despite feeling awkward, she still continued her questioning.
"Hurry and answer my question. Why are you curious about her...? And what exactly are her origins!?"
"I've said it before, she's an imposter. But right now, I'd like to locate her to test something. A backup candidate does count as an option."
Eruru reflexively exerted more pressure on the trigger under her finger.
Miraluka's left hand continued to keep a deathly grip on her.
This massive strength gave Eruru no choice but to grit her teeth in a grimace. Miraluka's force was reaching deep into her bones.
Even so, Eruru desperately tried to pull the trigger. At the same time, Miraluka sprang into action.
With her four fingers together, the thrust of her sharp nails flashed coldly.
The handgun and the sharp nails, the weapons for inflicting deadly wounds crossed and passed by each other.
Nevertheless, a lazy voice stopped this melee exchange.
The two girls looked up at the sound.
Hisui was standing before them.
Dressed in pajamas, he had left the house with only a jacket thrown on top.
Exhaling white breath, Hisui was standing in the bone-chilling air under the night sky.
"I can't believe you're not embarrassed to be fighting in the streets despite your age. Stop making trouble for the neighbors."
Although his tone of voice was weak and lazy as usual, Hisui's face was serious.
Seeing his classmate in a fight against the foster parent who had raised him, he could not stand by and do nothing.
"Loitering out at night isn't something you should be doing. Watch out or you'll be arrested to be re-educated."
"Do you have any right to say that? Aren't you the one who kept taking me out on walks every day when I was young? Also, let go of her now. As a great True Ancestor, stop lowering yourself to the level of a dhampir child's, okay?"
Faced with Miraluka, Hisui did not back down at all.
Getting lectured by her was a daily occurrence for him so he could not leave Eruru alone.
Even when he had no chance of winning.
"Why did you come here? Isn't it perfectly common for me to go out at night? I can't believe you followed me on purpose. I still remember how you ran into the streets, crying, looking for me because you were too lonely at night when you were small. Ever since that, this must be the first time."
"...Don't just casually reveal my embarrassing past! Any child would get scared if they woke up to find themselves alone in the middle of the night! Come on, hurry and let go. Eruru, you too, stop pointing that scary thing at my family."
Eruru did not compromise even after hearing Hisui's advice.
"She was trying to drink Sera-san's blood. You are the one who should keep her on a tighter leash. Do not let your scary family roam outside."
"...Is what she said true?"
Hisui threw the question at Miraluka with partial skepticism.
Miraluka simply answered nonchalantly in leisure.
"I admit that I'm interested in the taste of blood, but I won't drink from the girl who sits next to you in class. I simply borrowed a bit of blood and she was already bleeding beforehand. You can check her wound if you don't believe me."
"...What she said. A bite is definitely a no-no, but there's no problem if she only sucked a bit of blood that flowed out, right? Although it looks a bit unsightly. By the way, bleeding will stop faster if the wound gets licked by a vampire. It's the same principle why bite wounds on the neck don't bleed."
"None of these facts are relevant! Whose side are you on, anyway!?"
Eruru frantically covered her mouth with her left hand after these words escaped her lips.
Such words were not meant to be said.
Choosing between her and his foster mother, she should not be forcing him to make such a decision.
Also, treating Hisui as a friend, treating Hisui as support--She had never considered any of that before.
However, Hisui ignored Eruru's accusations and lazily scratched his head, answering indifferently.
"If anything, I'm standing on the same side as you both. But it's really annoying that you're fighting in the street. As the saying goes, you can't clap with one hand. Both of you deserve to be punished."
Hisui sighed again and raised in front of him the object he had been carrying on his back.
With an absolute sense of weight, he stabbed its sharp tip into the ground.
The sacred cross sword, Tzara Blade.
To avoid attracting attention, he had wrapped it in a cloth. But Miraluka and Eruru instantly noticed the sacred sword's true identity from its cross-shaped form.
Despite the massive differences between vampires and dhampirs, this was a sure-kill weapon that could neutralize their regenerative powers, even capable of causing instant death.
"You're both afraid of this, right? I don't even need to use it as a blade. If you want to gaze on its appearance or listen to its sound, feel free to continue."
Stroking the cloth covering the Tzara Blade's surface, Hisui formed a fist with his other hand.
Exposing the cross' full form would definitely stun the two of them. At least, it would make them stop fighting.
Even if they closed their eyes to avoid the sight, he could use the cross as a tuning fork by striking it with his fist to produce resonance. Its destructive power would be equivalent to a choir singing hymns in a vampire's ear.
No matter what, he was definitely able to stop the fight.
Assuming Hisui put his threats into action.
The two of them had bodies far surpassing humans. They could close the distance effortlessly to stop Hisui.
However, doing so would expose themselves to attacks from the other opponent.
The trio restrained one another, frozen and unmoving.
In this tense stalemate, the senior Miraluka was the first to compromise.
"What a skirt-chaser. Forget about the imposter, I can't believe you even fell for a dhampir. I don't recall teaching such a child."
"Stop making misleading statements. Besides, I wouldn't have gotten involved with vampires and dhampirs if I wasn't raised by you in the first place."
Miraluka scoffed unhappily in response and withdrew from Eruru's side.
"I'm not coming home for the next few days. No need to cook for me."
Without answer, Hisui walked towards Eruru. This was for protecting her, as well as to prevent her from giving unnecessary chase.
Miraluka turned and her outline melded into the darkness of the night with a flutter of her cape.
Eruru wanted to chase her but Hisui reached out and grabbed her.
"Don't follow. You can't win."
"My bullets work. You saw how her right hand was scorched."
Hisui's face darkened.
Admittedly, before Miraluka left, he had noticed the unusual state of her palm.
Judging from the situation, Hisui instantly deduced that she had stopped a bullet with her hand.
Since she had used her hand to block a scorching bullet, suffering a certain level of burns was only natural. Furthermore, this was a silver bullet. Apart from the pure heat, it was also supposed to produce searing pain for vampires.
"...But she blocked it, right? What can you do to an opponent that can stop bullets with her bare hands? You're absolutely not winning in a fight like this."
Although a dhampir's physical abilities far surpassed that of humans, they were still a far cry from a pure vampire's.
If the vampire parent was of a much higher class than that of the enemy vampire, there might be a chance if the dhampir went all-out. But against a True Ancestor at night, hopes for victory would be far too faint.
"Then you are able to defeat her? Using that sword of yours to pierce her heart or chop off her head, perhaps there is a chance for victory. But are you capable of doing that?"
"...Why do I have to do something so bloody?"
Hisui avoided answering and pondered Miraluka's actions tonight.
"By the way, why are you here? Did someone warn you in a dream?"
"I couldn't sleep so I went downstairs, then I smelled blood. Going into the basement for a look, I discovered that she was gone, leaving a pot filled with blood. The blood was too much to drink and besides, she doesn't drink blood like that either. Finding things weird, I came out to find her. Just to be safe, I brought the Tzara Blade so things turned out this way. What the heck happened?"
"I already told you. She simply wanted some virgin blood on a whim... That does not seem right either. Also..."
Also, she had asked for Rushella's whereabouts. But for some reason, Eruru could not bring herself to mention this.
Furthermore, the fact that she was investigating Miraluka about the matter of the large volumes of blood delivered to this town--She did not want to mention this to Hisui either.
"N-Nothing. In any case, if she tries to drink human blood again, I will shoot. Please do not interfere."
"You... Come and stand on the side of humans."
While Hisui remained silent with a solemn look, Eruru added without looking at him.
Alone in some ruins, she murmured emptily.
Her face was filled with deep fatigue.
This was hardly unexpected. After all, she had not drunk blood for over a month already.
Sitting on a decrepit chair, she bowed her head.
She looked like a lost lamb, praying in contrition for God's forgiveness.
A vampire repenting would be a joke, but considering the location, it might be appropriate after all.
Rushella's current hideout used to be a church where people prayed to God.
Although she had decided to leave Seidou City, she did not want to go too far.
Lingering attachments were perhaps part of the reason. Furthermore, she felt that the key to her mysterious origins definitely lay somewhere near the place where she awakened.
Hence, she decided to station herself at a neighboring town in the outskirts of Seidou City.
She had to avoid people as much as possible to prevent Hisui and the others from discovering her. A suitable hiding spot had to shelter her from direct sunlight during the day. In the end, Rushella chose to stay here.
No one would expect a vampire to hide in a church.
Sacred grounds would repel monsters in the first place.
In the beginning, Rushella felt repelled by this place too but after actually arriving, she found it to be a quiet and peaceful place.
This place had been abandoned for a long time. Sacred symbols like crosses and Madonna statues had long been moved away. Added to the fact that people rarely frequented this place, it was an ideal hiding spot.
Dark during the day, this place even had a basement.
Hence, Rushella did not hesitate and hid her conspicuous coffin in the basement, using this place as her lair while starting to investigate her origins.
Nevertheless, she found nothing.
In fact, she had already done everything she could with Hisui.
After encountering Eruru, they had even borrowed the Supernatural Investigations Section's power.
Even then, they came up with nothing.
Furthermore, Rushella was not devoting her full effort.
She did not dare go out.
Rather than fearing sunlight, she feared meeting humans.
The irrepressible urge to drink blood was making her afraid.
A week after leaving Hisui, an intense "desire" had surged from within her body.
It was a desire that filled one with throat-tearing madness.
As a result, she almost spent the entire day hiding in her coffin, getting used to that desire. However, there also seemed to be something dark seething and turning inside her body.
Once she discovered this fact, she did not dare go outside.
Hiding all day in her coffin, she forced herself to sleep.
Actually, had she the intention, obtaining blood was nothing hard.
Just by using the mystic eyes, she could drink blood without biting personally.
But for some reason, she was unwilling.
Whenever the thought came to her, Hisui's face would always surface in her mind.
The Hisui in her mind did not show signs of reprimand in his expression, but sadness instead.
This hindered her from using the mystic eyes. Rushella had no choice but to give up on the idea.
In the end, all she managed to do was take a shower at a nearby net cafe.
Also, all she used the mystic eyes for was skipping over the registration. She still paid properly.
She did this because she could not help but recall Hisui's words--You must follow the rules and pay properly.
But this meant that the money she had brought was dwindling.
She had taken all the leftover cash from exchanging some of her gold coins, but the remainder of the coins were left at Hisui's home. She was almost penniless now.
Rushella knew what this meant in terms of survival in human society.
"...I guess I'll need to take a job."
She murmured to herself, but no one gave a witty retort.
If Hisui or Mei heard her, surely they would say: "That's not going to work for you" or "You'll end up causing more trouble than helping, don't."
"H-Hmph! Why must I do something so lowly!? I-I am the existence that humans ought to be making offerings to. This pittance of money, go earn it yourself with your blood and sweat!"
Even though there was no one making jabs at her, she spoke these words on her own.
"You"--Hisui was clearly not here.
Her view suddenly grew blurry.
In order to prevent the surging tears from falling, Rushella desperately wiped her eyes with the back of her hand.
Finally, she sighed, got up and went out, repeating her everyday aimless walk.
It was almost sundown so she need not fear sunlight.
Walking blankly in a circle, she reached a well-stocked shopping street.
This place was lively and prosperous. The Christmas decorations were exceptionally striking.
Although it was still some days away, Christmas sales had already begun.
This was a taboo day of danger for vampires. Hiding the whole day at home would be the wise choice.
But according to what Hisui had said, that only applied to European cities where devout faith was still present. In Japan, there was supposedly no danger as long as vampires stayed away from proper churches.
Hisui had said that the people walking in the streets on that day were like him, caring nothing about celebrating the birth of God's son. Christmas was nothing more than an excuse for couples to get intimate.
According to Hisui, his foster mother would receive this day solemnly, even urging Hisui to hurry and find a girlfriend to spend a passionate night together. When Hisui was bringing up this subject, Rushella had slapped him for some unknown reason.
Rushella cursed the couple from the past.
Their discussion on Christmas arrangements had made her very displeased.
Hisui... What were his plans?
This year, he was no longer alone. Was he going to spend a happy holiday as a couple?
Clenching her fist, Rushella continued to walk aimlessly in the street under the night sky.
She did not stop walking.
Searching for the place she belonged, whose location was unknown.
"Even the witch has nothing... Then there's only that person left."
Rushella pursed her lips and entrusted everything to a tiny hope.
The rare few who knew abou the truth of the True Ancestors.
The Pure of the Pure vampire whose power was only second to the True Ancestors.
That guy was probably still imprisoned at the Supernatural Investigations Section.
Pure of the Pure--Fergus von Blitz.
Clenching her fist, Rushella decided to pay him a visit.
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