༺ The Resistance – Finale ༻
I let the strength out of my body and heaved a long sigh. I’ve always felt that mind-reading was uncomfortable despite its great utility; every time I killed someone, I would over-immerse myself in their perspective.
The end of life came with an eruption of intense emotions, which gave me the illusion of being swept away by a wave whenever I dealt the final blow. It made me feel like I was something more than I was when in reality, I had just barely managed to kill off a couple of people one by one in a clumsy bid for survival.
I suppose I can’t complain though. Mind-reading did save my life.
I exhaled deeply, feeling pain all over. There wasn’t a spot on my body that didn’t ache, what with that wild chase earlier and being slammed into a wall.
Suddenly, as I was resting for a bit, I heard a voice from behind me.
“You have spilled blood.”
The vampire? Did she come smelling the blood? Look at her appearing like the devil. I mean, I guess she is one. A blood-drinking devil.
I spoke to her without turning around.
“Go on and take the blood. It’s freshly killed and hot.”
“You do not need to tell me as I already am.”
No wonder the blood was flowing back there without even touching my body. I guess I said that for nothing. The act of spilling blood in Tantalus was feeding the vampire in itself, after all.
Oh, right. Since she’s here, I may as well ask a favor for something else.
“Hey, could you clear the corpse while you’re at it as well?”
“The corpse? I do not think he would have welcomed the thought becoming part of me. Why not bury it instead?”
“I disagree. There’s no proper burial spot here, since this being the abyss. And since the ground is concrete, the best we can manage is covering the body with cement. It won’t rot and can’t return to Mother Earth’s embrace either. He’ll be stuffed forever in that state. I’d say it’s better to sleep in a vampire’s coffin instead.”
“Without even holding a funeral?”
“It’s fine. I closed his eyes myself.”
“I did not hear of you being an undertaker.”
“A funeral is an act of remembering the past traces of life, isn’t it? In that sense, they had a great enough funeral.”
Vampire waved her hand, implying that she understood, and blood gathered to devour the body. The process sounded like something melting or being crushed, like the sounds of a myriad of waves wearing down rocks compressed into seconds.
It didn’t take long. The corpse disappeared along with the wave of blood, leaving only an unworn straitjacket as if there was nothing in the first place. Silence descended upon them.
As I kept still without giving any reaction, the vampire got bored of standing still and lightly stepped through the darkness toward me.
｢He recognized me without even looking my way. It is not the situation I expected… But I suppose a man of outstanding Qi Sense should be able to distinguish the presence of others.｣
Presence? Well, I guess she’s right if you consider mind-reading a form of Qi Sense.
｢In any case, he is not moving at all. Is he being sentimental over the act of murder? I guess he cannot help being young. Perhaps I shall comfort him a little.｣
Comfort me? For what?
As I stood dumbfounded after reading her thought, the vampire came up to my face.
“Blood is fated to flow and eventually reach the sea. And all else aside, were they not your enemies? Their strength may not have compared to yours, but they too were fellow warriors. You need not be depressed as the clash involved an equal risk of life for both sides.”
“I’m not really depressed though.”
“But you were hanging your head since earlier. Hold your chin up with dignity. That is the pride you must have for the power you gained, and the respect for the warriors you defeated.”
“No, I’m telling you I’m fine.”
I was hanging my head because my neck hurt from being strangled earlier. Not to mention I was tired from all that ducking and diving through the building. With my ordinary physical abilities, I needed to rest a little after such intense exertion.
While I was thinking to myself, the blood that swallowed Kanysen’s corpse drifted over to the vampire, enveloping her wrist and spinning in a circle. She quietly stared at the blood before giving a remark.
“According to this blood, the owner of the corpse I took must have been a prominent knight in life, yet you managed to take down and restrain him without suffering any injury. You certainly are worthy of appointing yourself as the warden of this abyss.”
Without any injury? It seemed she didn’t realize because I wasn’t bleeding, but just a minute ago, I was caught in one hand and slammed into a wall. I bet there were a bunch of bruises under my shirt.
How do I solve this misunderstanding… Eh? Do I really need to solve it though?
I cleared my throat.
“It’s not like I was being sentimental. I just closed my eyes for a moment in honor of his skills.”
“That is exactly what one considers being sentimental.”
“Well, I’ll be–”
“But putting that aside. I have come to meet you, yet you do not even think to face me. How long do you intend to keep sitting?”
“I was just about to get up.”
Finally feeling a little better after that little talk, I staggered up with a groan. But then I found the vampire standing right in front of me with a sparkle in her red eyes. She was a bit too close for liking.
Meeting my eyes, the vampire nodded and smiled, dripping with a sense of superiority.
“How is it? Can you recognize me?”
Huh? What is she on about? Of course I recognize—
｢This should be the first time he is facing my true body. Not anyone gets this opportunity, but I suppose it is not bad to give him a glimpse while I am out.｣
What’s this now? Why is she being all high and mighty over getting out of her wheelchair? Did she have success in rehab or what?
｢Let us see if you can still treat me like a hag after seeing my original form.｣
I scrunched my brows and took another look at the vampire’s features.
Small face, white complexion, and red eyes. The black dress over her body was an old garment that might be seen in a museum, and behind her back, her huge coffin was following closely like it were some attendant. And perched over her shoulder, she also had a black parasol that seemed to be made of darkness.
For some reason, I could clearly see the vampire’s face beneath the parasol despite the pitch-black around us. It was as if the parasol was sucking in the nearby darkness.
I mean, she certainly looked impressive, but what about her “original form”? Did she think I’d fall over in astonishment at the sight?
Oh, wait. It can’t be… How ridiculous. Shall I play along, then?
I acted startled at the sight of the vampire’s face.
“Wha? A woman? W-who? Could you possibly be… Trainee Tyrkanzyaka?”
“Indeed. Who else but me?”
The vampire wore a slight smile on her lips as she gave her perched parasol a spin, seeming to feel better.
“What a strange fellow. You act like I am a stranger after calling my name just a little while ago.”
“I mean, you changed all of a sudden so I was a bit… confused, should I say…? When did you come down the wheelch—uh, coffin?”
“A while ago. I manifested my true form for once to greet an unseemly intruder. My original intent was to go straight back inside after dealing with the matter, but I came out at the thick smell of blood outside.”
During this small exchange, I deliberately avoided even meeting the vampire’s gaze. I sneaked furtive glances, only to duck my head when we made eye contact. Seeing my obvious tension, the vampire narrowed her eyes as she thought to herself.
｢He acts like a bachelor who has never held a woman’s hand. Tsk. And the man claimed to be so trained. How can his attitude change so lightly, just because I gave a glimpse of my face?｣
For all her inward reproach, she was enjoying my reaction. The vampire let out a thoughtful sound as she stepped closer to me.
“But why do you not meet my eyes despite getting up?”
“What is the matter? Where did the chatterbox in you disappear to? This is unlike you.”
｢He must have no experience with women due to training from a young age. I do wonder if my mischief is too much for this innocent child, but…｣
The exuberant vampire came right up to my nose and bent over to look into my eyes. Her shining, flowing silver hair and blood-red eyes came into view.
“Still, this is our first time facing each other like this. It is saddening that you continue to look away. Come, say something will you?”
｢This is entirely your fault. If you did not make fun of me, I would not have taken revenge in such a childish way.｣
As the vampire was secretly wallowing in superiority, I replied in a tiny voice.
“Uh, I… apologize.”
“Apologize? For what?”
｢Do you think an apology will get me to forgive your disrespect until now? Not a chance. I shall bother you as much as you have teased me.｣
Oh really? The boot-licking ends here, old lady.
I completely switched my expression and took a cold tone.
“What, you ask? For not being able to keep up the flattery.”
“With the way you talk and think, what’s the difference whether you’re in your coffin or not? It’s the same as always.”
I wondered why she was still sticking her face out in that pose. Mirroring her frown, I stuck my face out too. When we were almost about to touch, the vampire retreated in great shock.
I dug my ear nonchalantly as I continued.
“What the hell are you doing? There was a battle just a minute ago. If you were aware that you were showing your face for the first time, the priority should’ve been to identify yourself. What’s the idea with approaching from behind and asking if I recognize you?”
“What do you want me to do, Trainee Tyrkanzyaka? Go ‘wow’ and recite a poem, lauding your beauty or something? Or should I change my attitude after seeing your appearance and apologize for treating you so casually until now? Is that what you expected?”
｢N-not exactly… I just, I was feeling playful so…｣
But you were full of those thoughts!
Among the many tales told over a thousand years, the beauty of vampires was a well-known legend. People didn’t speculate about vampires possessing bewitching powers for no reason. The churches were bent on emphasizing their ugly sides, but anyway.
Those legends had raised her self-evaluation way too much. I wished she would act her age a little.
“Will you stop making a fool of yourself?”
“Sure I get that wanting to hear you look young is a common trait of elderly folk, but still, you should consider the time and place for that. There was a fierce battle just 10 minutes ago. Please get it together, alright?”
It looked like her age didn’t wear away her shame too, at least. The vampire clutched her parasol with both hands in immense embarrassment. She held it so tightly that what little color remained in her hands drained away.
I debated teasing her a little more, but the shame I felt from the vampire was greater than I imagined. I quit the thought, figuring she’d explode from any more agitation.
When it came to reasoning with an immature adult, what you needed most was an accepting attitude. She was older than me, unlike children. And older folk tended to think they held the upper hand right off the bat, so when embarrassed, they’d immediately get angry instead of running away. A troublesome lot, really.
What can young and weak little me do? I have to put up with it.
“Ugh. Well, you’re a relatively better case. You are pretty, looking from a blank, objective point of view. Still, please hold back on the silliness. Time and place, okay?”
｢W-what is this? His words are surely unpleasant… yet he said nothing wrong, so being angry would be narrow-minded… but to keep quiet, it feels like I am being ignored…｣
“Since there’s nothing more to be done here, I think I might as well check the supply box. There just happens to be a supply of blood there as well, so how about you come along?”
“Oh, ah. Yes. Let us go.”
I walked off, not looking back. The vampire followed behind, clutching her parasol with embarrassment and confusion on her face.
Delta’s corpse was still lying near the supply drop. The vampire consumed that corpse as well. A human sewerage indeed… ah, I should avoid saying this to her. She might really be hurt.
Whew, what delicate consideration, such care with words. Aren’t I pretty sweet? Well, time to look at the supplies.
I opened the supply box, whistling. Inside, I found a ton of compressed canned beans.
Strange. Sure the Military State was a nation of canned food maniacs, but they weren’t ignorant of the importance of nutrients. Yet there was no bread or rice at all?
My puzzlement didn’t last long, though. I discovered a dreadful mess inside the supply depot: traces of what used to be bread that appeared to have been nibbled away by evasive rats. I even found ripped cheese bags and empty milk cans.
And then it hit me. Five Resistance members were hiding in the supply box. It was obvious how they sustained themselves. Since they couldn’t open the compressed canned food which required a large amount of water and some cooking, they must’ve simply eaten bread and milk.
Haha. So that means. It’s canned food for supplies in the end?
“Graaagh! Those sons of bitches!”
I kicked the supply box in fury, only to reconfirm the durability of the State-made container. Damn it, my fricken feet!
I swerved around to face the vampire, bellowing.
“Trainee Tyrkanzyaka, take out the corpse right now! I’ll show you what a posthumous execution is about!”
“What is the matter this time?”
The vampire still looked sullen. She must have seen the bread crumbs, yet she didn’t react much because it wasn’t her food. I pointed inside the supply box, still bellowing.
“The bread! Is gone! Because these intruders stuffed themselves with it all! What are we supposed to live on!”
“Those round containers also contain food, do they not? There seems to be quite a large amount, so if there is no bread…”
“Making a suggestion to eat canned food is a trigger for revolution. Don’t even speak of it! Unlike a vampire like you who only thrives on age and human blood, people need delicious food!”
“W-what?! Thrives on age?!”
Oh dear. I let my honesty out in the heat of the moment…
But just as the vampire was about to unleash a bout of time-seasoned hysteria, someone walked out of the prison entrance. It was the Regressor. She seemed to be injured, a line of blood was dripping from her mouth, yet despite that, she looked rather satisfied.
Then again, she would be happy compared to her opponent, who was now a headless corpse being helplessly dragged along in her free hand. The large corpse equipped with the combat suit was spurting blood from its beheaded section.
｢I can at least cut through a combat suit, even with my Qi Art sealed away… which must mean I’ve grown a little stronger.｣
Why can she cut steel without even using Qi Art? For the life of me, I can’t understand.
Meanwhile, the vampire greeted the Regressor warmly.
“Shei, can you tell who I am?”
“Tyrkanzyaka, right? So you came out of your coffin. Here, I have some blood. Drink.”
The regressor handed the corpse over right away. The vampire, slightly dejected over being recognized so fast, consumed the corpse using her blood.
‘Do children in this age keep a portrait of me or something? They simply refuse to be surprised. When I made fun of visitors to my manor back in the day, I only had to show myself and they could not even look me in the face, regardless of age or gender… Boys nowadays are so like stone Buddha statues.’
Look at her, touching her face to check for wrinkles. How unseemly. Don’t you think it’s impossible for a stuffed old corpse to get wrinkles?
But rather than that, you still haven’t noticed Shei is cross-dressing when you’re taking her blood? Really, nothing is right about this vampire.
As the vampire was devouring the corpse with a wave of blood, she stared at the Regressor a moment before making a remark.
“You must have made progress. I can feel that the blood in your body is completely under your control.”
“It turned out real-life experience is the way to improve.”
The Regressor grinned as she wiped the blood from her mouth. Even though the vampire was right before her nose, her blood didn’t fly toward the former. It still clung to her skin, wetting it. The fact that her exposed blood wasn’t stolen meant the Regressor was at least capable of controlling her own blood.
Putting away her satisfied smile, the regressor looked around.
“What about the rest?”
“This child must have dealt with them all. When I went to look, only dead bodies remained.”
｢Cheh. I wondered if he might just die, but he does seem capable after all. It’s hard to trust that man’s character, but I guess I can trust his skills.｣
Excuse me, trust what?
I wished she wouldn’t believe in me and handle things on her own instead. Now I had no energy to even speak. I stood in a daze, staring at the pile of canned food.
There’s no helping it then. Azzy, those are all for you to eat.
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