༺ Marie Dunareff (2) ༻
The Mandrake seeds that I got from the God of the Lake were sparkling like gems.
The normal Seed of a Mandrake already had the effect of greatly increasing a person’s mana capacity, but these yellow gold and white silver seeds had very special uses for them. That was natural considering how they were precious easter eggs which could only be obtained through this method in ❰Heroic Legends of Arhan❱.
In the previous iteration, Park Sihu had the yellow gold one so I only took the white silver one for myself but that alone had already given me great benefits.
This time, the yellow gold, white silver and the normal Mandrakes were all mine. The normal Mandrake could be shared with two or three other people after being boiled with water, but the yellow gold and the white silver were best eaten raw, and that would thus make a big difference.
The only problem was that they would immediately let out a tremendously ridiculous scream when reaped but that wasn’t a big deal.
I headed to the dormitory with a bright smile on my face.
There was roughly 3 weeks left until the D-Day of Marie awakening into a vampire.
Until then, my job was to train Alicia, hire Dorron the Mercenary of Flying Swords, coax the Druid of the Avelorn Forest and befriend the Golem User, Kranel.
It was such a perfect plan that there was no reason to add anything else!
Four days after the practical lesson at the hunting grounds, I was walking down the corridor after a morning lesson and saw 2nd year students who had just finished their lesson.
– Have you seen Isabelle these days?
– No. Wasn’t she with Marie?
– Apparently she’s sick. Professor Josephine said there was an accident during the prac lesson.
– I couldn’t even visit them last time I checked.
– Both Marie and Isabelle? Did something happen to the two of them?
Their topic this time wasn’t Marie, but a 2nd year student called Isabelle. I normally would have ignored their chatter but the unexpected name that reached my ears was ‘Isabelle’ out of every name possible.
Marie’s roommate at the dormitory and the first victim of the vampire incident.
She was a side character whose name wasn’t even shared in the game but I knew her name thanks to my experience from the previous iteration.
The girl who was discovered unconscious after having her blood sucked – that same girl just happened to be at the sick bay and no visitors were allowed…
Was this just a coincidence?
That’s what my brain was telling me, but my uneasy instincts said otherwise.
There wasn’t enough proof. Breaking through the sick bay was the last method to rely on, and there was a place I had to go before everything.
In a mansion located at the north of the Academy was an accommodation reserved for special students. It was officially recorded as the personal residences of the highest-achieving students of each year but currently, it was in fact dedicated for only one person.
Heavenly Yaksha, Hua Ran.
A Unique Grade demi-human that completely devastated the Moonlight Castle of the eastern continent. After inviting her in as a student, the Chairman had prepared this place for Hua Ran to live in by herself.
It might have been an attempt to respect her style of life, but the western format of the building had also been modified to that of the east as much as possible.
『Please do not leave for the time being. As for your study, I will make the arrangements for you myself later on.』
It had already been 4 days since the strict witch said that to Hua Ran. The witch, who told her that there would be special personalized lessons everyday, was still not showing herself.
Maybe she was extremely busy doing something.
With not a single visitor coming to the house, the exaggerated noise of the turning pages of the book was the only source of sound resonating across the house inhabited by one girl.
The story inside the book had a happy ending, but the face of the girl reading it was filled with dissatisfaction as she closed the book.
Reading several books in just one day, she once again realized that she was put in a situation where she wasn’t allowed to do anything.
Her semi-imprisonment was because of her participation in the practical lesson. It was something that she whimsically asked for due to a simple desire of watching and observing the weak boy who had to survive in the midst of fighting students.
Unfortunately, she couldn’t even do that either.
Gazing outside the window of the second floor, she blankly stared at the tree in the garden as a rebellious spirit rose inside her.
Should I climb over the fence?
Even though that noisy woman asserted that she shouldn’t do so, there was no reason for Hua Ran to obey her command.
But at the same time, there was no reason to disobey that, so she was gazing at the fence hidden by the budding tree while hesitantly pondering by herself when…
“Geez, there we go. Ohh, I knew it. You are here.”
A boy that would have been mistaken as a caveman if not for his clothes landed on top of the branch.
“Hua Ran? We met already, didn’t we? I’m Korin Lork. It might be a bit sudden but I brought something because I didn’t want to come empty-handed.”
Korin Lork grinned while taking out a box of cake which was sold at the dessert store inside the Academy.
Hua Ran did not have the common sense to tell whether that was a respectful action or something that warranted him being scolded as an illegal trespasser.
“Can you open the window for me?”
She was vacantly staring at him when the boy scratched his cheeks and muttered, ‘Maybe she can’t hear me,’ before glancing at the window. He then laid his foot on the windowsill and opened the window.
The boy looked like he would immediately jump into the room but suddenly changed his mind and slowly dropped the cake before returning to his branch.
“Entering facilities without permission is going against the rules, you see.”
“…I think you’re already breaking them.”
“I’m just standing on the branch of a random tree right now.”
While telling her that the way the action is described is more important than the action itself, Korin broadened her horizons on the ways of a delinquent.
“I have a question.”
“What is it?”
Hua Ran deemed that it was fine to answer his question. Due to being bored for the past four days, she had become a bit more benevolent.
“Has Lady Josephine ever come back in the last 4 days?”
In order to ask a question like that and analyze the answer that would come back in response… How many things did Korin Lork have to know about?
Although young and instinctive, the clever brain of the girl formed an evaluation of Korin Lork from that one question. Asking about his objective, however, would be quite meaningless.
Information was something that could have all sorts of values depending on the perspective and the context so there was no reason for Hua Ran to bother thinking about what he would infer after an enquiry about Lady Josephine’s location.
“No. Not a single time.”
It seemed that he had collected all the necessary pieces of information. The boy turned around but soon, he turned back to her as if he remembered something and looked into her eyes.
The red eyes of a ghost that people of the East had labeled as scary and ominous…
In front of him was a beast that was in an absolutely incomparable realm to him, but Korin’s eyes stayed firm nonetheless.
“I’ll buy you a meal next time.”
Korin Lork left behind a ‘vow’ for the price of that piece of information before disappearing again into the world beyond the fence.
Lady Josephine was nowhere to be seen and had left Hua Ran, someone who had to be monitored the most in Merkarva Academy, to her own devices.
It was understandable for Chairman Eriu to be unable to supervise her all the time because of his unique circumstances, but one of the biggest powerhouses of the Academy, Lady Josephine, leaving Hua Ran alone was an unimaginable thing to do.
I wasn’t sure what it was, but things were going differently from the original plot.
‘That is enough to form a doubt. But I need proof.’
It was already half-certain at this point… but I continued looking for proof and got one at the sick bay.
“Sorry. You can’t visit Ms. Marie right now. And it’s the same for Ms. Isabelle. Senior Professor Josephine has made it very clear that both of them need a great deal of rest.”
At the front desk of the sick bay, I inquired if I could visit Marie and was met with a clear-cut rejection.
“Hmm… Am I not even allowed to see her face? There is something urgent that I need to tell her.”
“My apologies. There’s nothing we can do until they somewhat recover their strength. But if there is something you would like to tell them or something to give them, you can give it to us and we will make sure they get it.”
“Ah… I see. Please give her my regards. I will just see her later when she’s back to being healthy.”
The visit request was denied, which usually never happened unless they were critically injured. Besides, the two of them were in the same room, and that was very suspicious for it to be a coincidence.
“Young man. This place is out of bounds.”
Mr. Crone from Security Team 3 was guarding the door of the room. It was possible to force my way inside, but that would antagonize the entire Academy in an instant.
“Ah. You’re Mr. Crone from Security Team 3 right? Senior Professor Josephine sent me here.”
“Huh? Lady Josephine did? What for?”
He wasn’t particularly puzzled by me telling him that I was here under Lady Josephine’s command. As expected, it seemed that Lady Josephine was the one who allocated a security guard to this place.
“She told me to bring you some food and a drink that you can have in the middle of your post.”
“Hoho, did she? Lady Josephine is such a great superior to have, isn’t she?”
I gave him a meat sandwich and a strawberry milk which I prepared after being turned down at the front desk.
By the way, engraved on the sandwich was the rune
It was a rune that wished for good fertility for a pregnant lady but a normal person eating food with this rune would have diarrhea.
I’m sorry Mr. Crone. But don’t you have constipation anyway? This is your chance to let everything out and be free.
I waited around the corner and checked Mr. Crone dash to the bathroom before entering Marie’s room.
On top of the only bed of the room was someone quietly breathing in her sleep with the blanket cast over her face. While hoping that I was just over-reacting to things, I quietly walked up to lower the blanket and saw…
Marie was nowhere to be seen and there was only Isabelle lying down on the bed.
This can’t be.
There still should have been a month left.
Isn’t this way too early?
I slowly lowered the gown to see her neck.
There were two dotted marks on her neck that were gradually closing. That wound which appeared to have been made by sharp fangs had blood clots on top of them.
I quickly left the room and thought to myself for a very long time.
The wound on Isabelle’s neck was most definitely something left behind after having her blood sucked out. That was the place that vampires instinctively bit on when sucking blood out of humans.
In turn, that meant Marie Dunareff had awakened as a vampire.
I had no idea why the demonic molecules in Marie’s body were aroused, because there were all sorts of potential reasons behind that in this world. Looking straight at the full moon could be a reason, and they could also be awakened from either being possessed by a demonic spirit or being artificially woken up.
In this world, there was a large portion of people that had dormant demonic molecules in their bodies, and the detonation was very random.
There was nothing to gain by lingering on what caused the problem. The scenario had already shifted away from the original plot, which was probably due to a butterfly effect caused by my own actions.
Even though I had not a single clue on what that was!
In any case, it had already happened. Nothing had been prepared so far but I still had to do something.
- Lady Josephine was missing.
- Professors and the securities were searching everywhere.
Judging from those two facts that were still ongoing, it was safe to assume that Marie hadn’t been discovered yet. She appeared to have run away somewhere like the previous iteration.
‘Unlike the original plot, it’s probably not the lab.’
If that was the case, she would have been discovered already.
〚She even sucked the blood of her own friend. And yet she was hiding in the forest crying by herself. Do you know how hard it was? Who knew that stubborn bitch would dig a hole in the forest and stay there for a whole month?〛
I remembered the memories of the past that were still very spooky.
In the previous iteration, Park Sihu captured Marie because the blood of a high-vampire was one of the ingredients of elixir… that bastard.
He said Marie persisted in the forest for a whole month.
In Merkarva Academy, there was only one forest.
“The Hunting Grounds.”
The depths that were out of bounds for normal students – that must be where Marie was.
If she was hiding there, it would take some time for the other professors to find her. I had to reach her before them, do the raid and subjugate her.
‘It’s fine. As long as… there is enough manpower, we can progress to the 3rd phase and it’ll be fine even if we don’t defeat her.’
The final boss of the 1st Arc, Marie, had 4 phases in total.
To achieve my goal… and if my hypothesis was correct, then we wouldn’t even have to get to the end of Phase 4 in order to complete the raid.
What was necessary was to finish Phase 2 where Marie would join the fight and start Phase 3. Everything would be okay as long as we reached that point.
Although she was a powerful boss who was perceived as a Unique Grade after her awakening as a vampire, a 5-man party with enough strength was enough to suppress her.
In the first place, the method to beat the boss fight of the 1st Arc was to aim for the gap that was created whenever Marie was desperately retaliating against the instincts of a vampire. Without something like that, it would be simply impossible for the early-game player party to beat a Unique Grade demi-human who was pretty much unrivaled in terms of strength.
In other words, the key question was whether the party could hold on until reaching the last phase of the boss fight.
And according to my plan, there was no need to even reach the end of the fight.
Phase 1 – Get rid of the horde of monsters,
Phase 2 – Withstand the bombardment of magic and inflict some damage for advantage,
And in Phase 3, we had to fight against the blood familiar that would run berserk inside the Blood Realm.
After beating the familiar in Phase 3, that would go over to the final mechanic which leads to the Final Phase, and that final mechanic was the key of this fight.
Even without the player, reaching the 3rd phase was nothing difficult as long as we had… the 1st year named characters, but…????
Alicia Arden, injured. By me.
Dorron Warsky, weapons destroyed. That was also me!
Kranel Luden, golem core destroyed. By me again?
The named freshmen characters were all disarmed. What the heck?
I was doomed.
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