༺ Wash Your Hands and Feet Clean When You Come Home ༻
Most fortunately for me, the Regressor had a habit of listening for a minute before executing someone. It was normally so she could extract information before committing murder, but anyhow. It was a relief she at least gave time for one final plea.
I guess she was better than the State.
Even after listening to the full story, the Regressor still had an icy face as she menacingly spun Chun-aeng in circles, glancing back and forth between me and Azzy.
“So you’re saying, Azzy was dirty, so you tried to wash her. Is that right?”
“Isn’t that natural? Just look. I’ve set up a box for a bathtub, a hose, and also prepared soap next to a water tank. What else would this be if not a bath?”
Her suspicion must have cleared a little as the Regressor crossed her arms and had Chun-aeng float above her head again. There was still a hint of doubt in her expression, though.
“You could have been up to something funny using that as an excuse.”
“What? Oh, come on, for crying out loud.”
Everything else aside, I couldn’t stand for that sort of suspicion. I let go of Azzy and got up angrily. Azzy, who had been shutting her eyes, perked her ears and started peeking as soon as my hands left her.
“Fool! Even for a narrow-minded, silly, incoherent misunderstanding, there is a limit! I am a human, a lord of all creation! I may be stuck underground right now, but how could I be attracted to a mere beast? Preposterous! Go to school and study some more on the difference between primates and dogs!”
“Woof? No washing for me?”
“No. you’re definitely going to wash today. Just you wait. I swear to wash you even if the sky falls into the abyss.”
Azzy whimpered, ears and tail drooping. I turned away from her to continue arguing with the Regressor.
“Then what? If you can’t leave Azzy to me, will you wash her, Trainee Shei?”
The Regressor became uncomfortable in response.
“… If it’s necessary. I’ll do it instead.”
“Why are you allowed to but not me?”
“You’re a man, and Azzy’s a woman. Even if you have no intention of undressing Azzy and… Ahem, and you have no funny thoughts, it’s a no! It’s impure!”
I wondered what the hell was in that head of hers to be imagining such things. When did I have any funny thoughts? Never did I…
Uh. Mm. I might have been struck by the idea very, very briefly. Humans tend to sometimes be driven by impulse and primal desires, after all. Rumors told that shepherds in remote, uninhabited places would at times commit indescribably insane acts.
But the ability to overcome instinct with reason is what makes a human. A passing urge doesn’t define me.
I swept back my hair and exhaled deeply.
“Trainee Shei. Are you perhaps sexually conscious of Azzy?”
“What? What are you saying?”
“Are you not conscious of her? You don’t get any thoughts even if Azzy is right next to you? You don’t care if she’s half-naked?”
“So you can finish the job of washing Azzy without any distractions?”
“If that’s the case for you, why do you think I can’t do the same?”
｢That’s because you’re a man and I’m… Oh. Right. I’m cross-dressing right now!｣
Eh? Oh yeah. You are cross-dressing as a man. I was forgetting that too. But what’s with you forgetting? What the heck did you disguise yourself for then… Ugh, whatever.
Since her head was full of salacious thoughts, she must have done it in fear of having “funny” stuff done to her in prison. Tsk-tsk, so overly-conscious of herself.
Uh, hang on. Cross-dressing. I couldn’t think of it earlier, but… I might be able to use this.
I cleared my thoughts and called out to the Regressor who had fallen into self-contradiction.
“Do you realize you’re being very suspicious? Just seconds ago you condemned me, a sincere and innocent man, just for being a man. Yet you offer to wash with Azzy despite being a man yourself? Now this is impure intentions.”
“You’re wrong! I never said I’d wash with her!”
“What then? You said it’s impure for me to wash Azzy because I’m a man, and that you have no distracting thoughts. Does that make sense? Wow. Talk about double standards. It’s race-transcending romance for you, but bestiality for others? I’m getting scared at this point.”
“Bestiality?! Azzy is a girl!”
The Regressor went red in the face and made a hasty excuse, but that was a bad move. I feigned great shock and clutched my forehead, my mouth gaping.
“Heavens! So your love is real because you have the confidence to love Azzy as a woman but my dispassionate touching is merely molestation? Huh? Isn’t something strange? Isn’t being physically passionate obviously more unwholesome?”
“I never said such a thing!”
“What’s the difference?! You and I are in exactly the same situation! Yet you stop me for acting impure, but you’re allowed? Don’t you feel something off about the logic yourself?”
Phew. It was rewarding to have read that liberal arts book called “Let’s Play, Logic” in secondary school.
The Regressor, vanquished by my perfect logic, started gritting her teeth.
｢Grr…! How can he sound so hateful with every single word he says…!｣
Why? Because your logic is unintelligible compared to mine. People are bound to feel envious and jealous of the undeniably strong. Go on, drown in my stormy intellect.
“Haha! So what are you going to do? You’re caught in your own trap! Whichever way you choose, you will be eaten by your own rationale and disappear! Khahahaha, keep running your mouth if you can!”
Cornered for options, the Regressor thought of someone and yelled out as if pulling out a trump card.
“Then you can just leave it to someone unquestionably female!”
I couldn’t help going speechless upon reading her mind.
“… So. You are telling me to wash the Dog King?”
The vampire furrowed her pretty brows slightly after receiving an explanation of the situation from the Regressor. The latter’s voice grew smaller and smaller even though she was the one who summoned the vampire.
“Uh, mm. But, there’s no one else to ask…”
｢Still, maybe it was too unreasonable to ask Tyrkanzyaka to do a chore like this…?｣
The Regressor called the vampire because she didn’t want to lose to me, but we were talking about the Queen of Shadow who had lived for 1200 years and once ruled half of the world. Trying to work her like some lady-in-waiting? Was this acting spoiled or arrogant?
As for the vampire, she didn’t hide her disinclination.
“Is that all there is to why you called me up to the roof?”
Heheheh. Serves you right, Regressor. Is the world not working out as you expected? Shall I add another punch?
Finishing Move: Inciting Sister-in-law!
I stuck myself next to the vampire, whispering to her like a sycophant.
“Goodness, that’s what he said. That young whippersnapper actually dares to try and make an elder work for him. To wash a dirty dog at that! Gracious me, the outrage makes you speechless, doesn’t it? Considering Trainee Tyrkanzyaka’s generation, it wouldn’t be enough to humbly sit by your side during meals and hold the spoon for you. No! It wouldn’t be enough to chew the food and feed you, yet he gives you a job? Why the cheeky little! You should give him a smack. Gargh!”
A fist of blood appeared in the air and lightly smacked my head. As I fell to the ground, the vampire shot a glare at me.
“Such unrestrained speech. Arrogant though he may be, he is still my disciple. It is not a matter for an insignificant rascal like you to get involved in.”
“Stop making a fuss. I hit you gently.”
Gently? Was she confusing the word gentle with flay? I took the hit because I didn’t feel much hostility, but it hurt too much!
Then again, she only showed curiosity after taking a bullet. How could she understand the suffering of a normal human? Vampires were oblivious to human pain.
I decided to never again trust their thoughts of hitting “gently”.
The vampire’s gaze now turned to the Regressor, who looked completely disheartened.
｢Tsk. I see. You are acting spoiled. What is the point of arguing any further?｣
The vampire eased up a little and quietly began to reason with the Regressor.
“And Shei, setting aside your presumptuous behavior, I cannot accept your request.”
“Ah, about that. I’m sorry. I was too…”
“No. It is a matter of ability. I am not capable of washing the Dog King.”
The vampire got down from her coffin and slowly approached Azzy, daintily as ever without holding a hint of hostility. She merely walked with her head high.
“Because the Dog King will not entrust herself to me.”
And Azzy reacted. With me and the Regressor, she didn’t show any aversion even if she felt uncomfortable. She had kept still and only watched when I locked her in my arms and turned on the hose water and when the Regressor stopped me.
But Azzy twitched with discomfort at the vampire’s approach. She had stayed by my and the Regressor’s side even at the threat of putting water on her. In contrast, the closer the vampire came, the more she bared her fangs and her cheeks twitched.
The vampire nodded as if that reaction was natural and began to explain.
“I am not one of the living, which is why the Dog King cannot feel any goodwill towards me. As a friend of mankind who is willingly tamed, the King of Beasts will always favor you two, even when she is ill of humor.”
Grrr. Azzy let out a low growl, signaling her discomfort and warning the vampire not to come closer. It was a wild expression different in nature from her previous fretful antics towards me.
“But that favor will not extend to me, a corpse.”
The vampire briefly held eye contact with Azzy before whirling around. Azzy’s growling died down then. The vampire walked back with an air of cold solitude, her steps ever so light and delicate.
“Once upon a time, the kings of beasts influenced by humans were the greatest enemies of vampires. Even elders, who were capable of maintaining their form under the sun, could not hide their identity before a King. And among them, the king of dogs who was favorable only to man was our arch-nemesis… While the kings did not attack humans, they would unhesitatingly spew animosity toward vampires.”
When the vampire walked away, Azzy lost interest and sat down again. The vampire turned around once she was slightly far away. Her voice became resigned and somewhat forlorn.
“The King of this generation is no different. Now that you know, you must understand why my help is useless.”
She was detached from time. The impassivity within her resignation only made it sadder.
The Regressor hesitated, not knowing what to do.
｢It’s my fault. Because I needlessly fell for that man’s taunt and brought Tyrkanzyaka… I still have so many things I need her help on, yet I hurt her feelings.｣
She blames me? Unbelievable… Taunt? It’s her fault for getting provoked. Who told her to have such a short fuse?
The Regressor glanced at me with resentment before going over to the vampire.
“Yes, is there anything more you have to ask of your master?”
Although the vampire replied nonchalantly, that made her seem much more aloof. The Regressor held her tongue, unable to find the right words. In the end, there was only one thing she could say at a time like this, the one thing one resorted to when they ran out of options: an apology.
“Tyrkanzyaka. I’m sorry…”
But that was the wrong answer. An apology was like a band-aid of the heart, an act that erected a wall between you and the feelings of the person you hurt.
Tsk. How could she blow herself up just because I teased her a little? That just took the fun out of it. She might have learned everything else over her 13 regressions, but it looked like she didn’t manage to acquire communication skills.
Shall I lend a hand?
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