Silver Cross and Draculea:Volume05 Prologue
Rushella had disappeared.
Expressing this simple fact of reality did not require particular mincing of words, but it took Hisui a lot of time to accept it.
On the holiday after the sports festival, it was already midday by the time Hisui woke up.
The bloody mornings--where Rushella bit his neck to drink blood--were now a thing of the past. Replacing them was something no different from what ordinary people experienced... Continuous sleep until waking up naturally.
Despite feeling something was amiss, Hisui still went to wash his face, get a drink of water and got to work making breakfast for two as habit dictated.
"Hey, are you still sleeping?"
Rushella could not possibly have gone out on her own.
Essentially, she always went out with Hisui. Even if Hisui was sleeping, she would rouse him from bed.
Hence, if Rushella could not be found, she was most likely in her bedroom... Miraluka's former bedroom.
Hisui expected her to have the door and windows shut tightly, in full vampire style, having sweet dreams in the darkness.
No one was there.
Rushella was not in the room. The bed also had no signs of being slept in.
The bedding was neat and tidy without the slight trace of lingering body warmth.
So be it if these were the only things amiss.
However, the problem was that all of Rushella's personal belongings were completely gone.
Her usual coffin was gone.
Naturally, it was not something to carry around just to go out.
Only then did Hisui realize.
Rushella... had disappeared.
"What's with that girl..."
Anxiety in his heart was unavoidable, but Hisui carried some measure of optimism.
Surely she had simply run off somewhere again.
Coffin, well... Maybe she took it out for some kind of special reason.
"Just in case..."
Hisui decided to first text and ask Mei, Eruru, Kirika--basically every girl who might be with her or might know Rushella's whereabouts.
Luckily, Rushella's circle of friends was very small, so those girls were the only ones she could go trouble.
Hisui did not think he had done anything to anger her. Hence, the girls should be bringing good news soon--That was what Hisui expected.
"I dunno. What, did you get into another fight!? Then take this opportunity to have babies with me, how's about that❤"
"No idea. As the custodian, please keep clear tabs on her comings and goings."
"Sorry, I have no idea. By the way, next Saturday... Are you free?"
The girls replied respectively in their willful, distinctive styles.
Hisui sighed and ate breakfast helplessly.
In any case, she should be returning on her own by night.
At least at the time, Hisui was still clinging onto this naive notion.
However, when night descended... Rushella still had not returned.
Only then did Hisui seriously start looking for her.
Apart from the coffin, all of Rushella's personal belongings were gone as well. This worried Hisui even more.
Not a single note. The only thing left behind were the gold coins that used to be kept in Rushella's coffin.
In a certain sense, these coins were actually the most essential when going out. Perhaps this stood as her determination to part ways.
"Rent for all this time... Is that what she means? What a totally unfunny joke..."
Hisui placed the sack of coins on the living room dining table then ran out into the streets at night.
Everywhere Rushella had visited in the past or might visit, even with the slightest probability, Hisui searched them one by one.
But came up emptyhanded.
Along the way, Hisui asked everyone he met. Even if he failed to find her person, getting some sort of clue would be helpful.
But there was not a single clue.
Finally, he came to school.
After all, she should come here when it was time for class, there was no particular need to search this place now.
But Hisui still climbed over the tightly shut school gate and entered the deserted school.
Because the classroom block was locked and could not be entered, Hisui had no choice but to wander outside.
As expected, Rushella was not found.
In the end, all he found was the ghost roaming the school--Fuwa Touko.
Like a typical ghost, she was accompanied by ghostlights floating around her while she hovered in the air leisurely.
On a certain level, Hisui came to school also in order to question her. Since the ghost was bound to the school grounds, Hisui's only choice was to make a visit.
"Touko-san... Have you seen Rushella?"
"Nope. Why, did something happen?"
"...She's gone missing. I can't find her anywhere."
"Oh, she ran away from home!? She didn't leave a note!?"
"She didn't... That's why it's so worrying."
That's right--If she had left a cliched note like "Don't come find me", at least it wouldn't be this worrying. Because that kind of note would actually mean "Come find me."
Even if he didn't look for her, she would surely appear herself and complain "Come find me!"
Rushella had not left a note.
Leaving without a farewell, this conveyed the strength of her determination to part ways.
Judging from the circumstances... She probably was not abducted by force.
This was almost certainly her own will.
After searching the streets all night, Hisui was beginning to understand in his heart even if he was reluctant to accept reality.
"Don't go keeping all your worries to yourself, okay? Have you asked Kirika-chan and the others?"
"That's the first thing I did. Kariya also seems to be searching... But no news yet."
"Thank you for your cooperation. See you tomorrow... No, it's already tomorrow. See you in class."
Hisui's body was already not in the best of conditions. Due to running his hardest at the relay race in the sports festival and the blood loss--His current physical condition was terrible. Combined with the fatigue and anxiety from the search, Hisui left the school with stumbling steps.
If he returned home, perhaps Rushella might be back already.
Perhaps she might throw a tantrum because no one was in the house--"Why didn't you come back earlier!?"--Complaining as if she were not the one at fault.
Nevertheless, Hisui's hopes were dashed.
Lying down carelessly on the bed, Hisui slept like a log.
When early morning came, he dragged his heavy body to school but Rushella was not in the classroom.
Asking Mei and Eruru yielded nothing.
During the lunch break, he went to exchange info with Kirika but the result was equally in vain.
The second day, the third day--He repeated the above but the result did not change.
Based on what Eruru said, even some of the Supernatural Investigations Section staff were mobilized.
Despite verbal claims refusing to help, Rangetsu was apparently helping.
Still, there was no news on Rushella.
She had disappeared, leaving no trace behind.
A week, a month passed by. Autumn was over, winter was gradually approaching closer.
Before he knew it, days without Rushella had become his usual daily life.
At least, none of the people around Hisui mentioned Rushella again, possibly in consideration of Hisui's feelings.
Hence, when Hisui heard Rushella's name mentioned again, after a very long time--It was from the class rep Sera Reina.
"Draculea-san... When is she coming back?"
Hisui answered indifferently.
After school, they were going home together coincidentally and walked together for a bit... Then Reina brought up Rushella after seemingly resolving herself.
Stealing glances at Hisui, she stuttered while continuing the subject.
"Did she... return home overseas? Did something happen over on that side?"
"No idea... I didn't hear anything about it. But... She must be having a good time there. So she'll probably stay there. Isn't that for the best?"
Hisui crafted reasonable and logical lies in a dry and boring tone of voice.
The fabricated backstory, that of distant relatives living abroad, also came in handy to a certain extent while Rushella was missing. Due to Eruru's arrangements, the school also completed withdrawal procedures.
However, Reina did not seem to believe these.
Although she said nothing on the surface, neither did she ask anything until now... Reina kept gazing towards Rushella's empty seat with mournful eyes.
"During the sports festival... Did something happen?"
Reina asked, refusing to give up.
"Nothing much. Nothing happened to you too, Class Rep, right?"
Hisui deliberately emphasized the last few words.
The doppelganger did not seem to have left Reina with any lingering side effects. This neighbor in the classroom remained as virtuous and dignified as before... However, surely she could not have completely forgotten everything that happened.
To some extent, she should have inherited the memories of the self that had split from her, or even realized Rushella's true identity perhaps.
But after the sports festival, Hisui--
"You probably had a nightmare because of the fatigue from training too much."
He covered up the issue with a simple sentence.
At the time, Reina looked like she had more to say but she did not press the matter.
She also seemed to have ideas regarding Rushella's disappearance but had kept silent all this time.
Perhaps this was part of her worrying for others but unfortunately, Hisui currently did not have any spare energy to be considerate of her feelings.
"...You're not going to pick her up?"
"Pick who up?"
"No news is good news, it means she's living well. After all, it's not like we're that related."
A vampire and a human--That was all their relationship amounted to.
Then Rushella had gone to the far side of the darkness.
"I'm going this way, bye."
Hisui waved indifferently and said goodbye to Reina.
He deliberately avoided looking at her face then started his lonely journey home.
Without Rushella around, the way home from school was extremely quiet.
But preparing for Christmas, the streets were noisier than usual.
There were decorated trees on the sidewalk, the neon lights were more striking than ever, waves of pedestrian crowds--Everything contrasted with Hisui's solitude.
He had already realized faintly.
Very likely, he will continue to be alone from now on.
Hence, when Hisui opened his home's door, he didn't bother with a "I'm home" greeting.
Even after discovering a pair of female high-heels at the entrance, he did not--
Hisui frantically took off his shoes and ran into the house.
Someone was in the living room.
He could hear the television.
He pushed the door open and ran into the living room.
But the instant he entered the room, Hisui could not help but show a troubled expression.
A woman was lying on the sofa nonchalantly.
That devil-may-care attitude and reclining posture was the same as Rushella's before, but the seductive effect was miles apart.
As though in her own home, she greeted Hisui nonchalantly.
The woman sat up. Her pale skin was clad in a black camisole dress, almost akin to underwear.
This existence, even more unexpected than Rushella, had appeared before Hisui's eyes.
This unforgettable woman who had turned into ashes once, disappearing after her sudden appearance at the sports festival.
"What's the matter, why are you zoning out there? At least brew me some tea, how about that?"
"...Stop joking around. I have tons of questions for you... She's already dead... Already dead, right in my arms. Then... who the heck are you!?"
While searching for Rushella, Hisui had been thinking many times.
His final conclusion--a fake.
There should be no mistake.
Surely this was the only possibility.
Although the woman before his eyes had perfect facial features as exquisite like a finely crafted masterpiece of nature, pale white skin that seemed almost transparent, sleek black lustrous hair... Although her lips were even redder than blood and the words from her lips were sounding clearly in his ears... Nevertheless, she was already gone.
She had turned into ash, blown away by the unruly wind, disappearing without trace.
All that was left of her was a handful of remains in Hisui's hand.
And even now, those were already gone too.
For someone who knew the real Miraluka, a flawless imposter was only a sight evocative of contempt.
"...Who are you? If your playing a joke on me in poor taste, be careful or I'll--"
Hisui's eyes were flashing with dangerous light.
Normally, he would never say something like that. Hearing him, this woman possessing Miraluka's appearance simply shrugged in boredom before smiling seductively.
"Try it if you can."
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