༺ Beating For You ༻
“… I will have you know beforehand, whatever immoral deed you have in mind must come after my heart is restored. Should you rashly lay a hand on me…”
“What are you saying? I’m telling you open your chest, cut your flesh I mean, since I need to do an electric massage on your heart. It’s far more comfortable for you to do it yourself instead of me stabbing you with a skewer. Right, Trainee Tyrkanzyaka? You’re a vampire after all.”
When I retorted with a plain stare, the vampire belatedly understood my intention and held her chest with embarrassment.
“Chest… Ah. I… see.”
People these days are so prone to far-fetched delusions. What a bother. Sure, I’d take a look right away if she revealed it, but then she’d kill me.
Sorry to say, but I value my life twice more than anything else.
“… R-Right. Since he exposed his heart, I suppose I must do the same. Yes…”
Nodding, the vampire drew her index finger along her chest. A line of blood appeared in the middle of her pitch-black dress and her white chest opened to both sides, revealing the flesh within.
The white wrapping of her body was so clean and smooth-looking that it was hard to look away. But just a single layer under it, there was a sight that would make even the strongest-stomached grimace. Blood foamed and fascia twitched as stark white bones glared in my face.
“… There. Can you see well?”
It’s embarrassing for a person to show their bare body, but when the stripping is taken a step further, it’s the onlooker who gets disturbed.
It seemed people weren’t mistaken in saying that relationships taken to the extreme are reversed. It was the vampire was looked reluctant before, fidgeting with her chest. But now that she was showing the insides of her skin, I wanted to turn away.
Why is it that she is shy about showing her chest, yet she has no aversion to exposing her insides? What irony… Or actually, is it normal?
But if I were given the choice of taking off my skin and showing my heart or taking off my clothes and showing my bare body, I would pick the latter. The vampire lay down on the operating table with her chest cut open only because she didn’t die.
“Now then. I am ready.”
The vampire held her chest as she called out to me. I saw scarlet muscles and throbbing blood through the cut she had made.
Forget speaking of shame, it seemed we had lost something that makes us human. I realized anew what a non-human being the girl in front of me was.
“Didn’t I tell you not to show your heart today?”
“You, you made me, did you not? I did not wish to end up like this either.”
“I’ll emphasize it again. You really shouldn’t show it to anyone other than me. Though honestly, I’d like you to leave me out of it too. Eugh. Gross.”
“Enough with the chatter! So? Can you do it?”
“I’ll have to take a look first. Let’s see.”
It was hard to make out anything in the dark. I inserted my index finger into the narrow slit in her chest and cast a spell.
A powerful light flashed from my finger, which I stuck further inside the vampire. I illuminated the deepest parts of her red darkness.
The vampire stared at my work as she fell into thought.
｢It is not so embarrassing despite the state I am in. How strange…｣
You’d have to be mental to be shy about this. Still, don’t you worry? Your embarrassment has been exchanged for my nausea. Guegh.
“Er, um. Could you clear the blood inside a bit? It’s hard to see.”
“Oh, I see.”
At my request, her red blood scattered away from the light like a swarm of insects. The vampire cut herself open and even moved her blood so I could see better. Should I call her the perfect patient or should I be scared of her?
Urp. Now that I can see the shape of her insides better… Gotta hold it in.
In any case, thanks to my patient’s active and conscious help, I managed to quickly find her heart. I could see the unmoving organ behind her deflated lungs.
I reached out and lightly made contact with my finger.
The vampire had experienced all manners of things in life, but not even she had her heart touched before. She gave a large reaction at the strange, indescribable sensation.
But I didn’t care about that. Honestly speaking, as the one having to touch her heart, I didn’t want to feel anything. I continued to trickle mana into her heart and measured the possibility of the operation succeeding.
After a long while of poking at the heart and thinking, I furrowed my brows. Then, in the end, I shook my head.
“It won’t work.”
The vampire’s red eyes rapidly dilated at my flat declaration.
“No… you mean? It will not work?”
“Is there truly, no possibility?”
The vampire despaired. Of course, that didn’t make her heart move. Not even such great disappointment could bring out life from it. That was why, even with her deepest desire come to naught, the vampire could accept my words rationally.
I continued to speak with my finger against her heart.
“In the first place, the situation between you and Trainee Rasch is different. His heart had stopped due to being in a state of suspended animation. Although he is an undying and the structure of his body differs from humans, his body itself works in the same way. In contrast.”
I slightly pinched the vampire’s heart with two fingers. She flinched, startled, yet her heart didn’t react in the least. Normally it should move without needing any contact, but having lost its role already, her heart only remained as a symbol.
“In your case, Trainee Tyrkanzyaka, you circulate your blood using bloodcraft. Even at this moment when your chest is exposed.”
An ordinary person couldn’t open their chest like this. They couldn’t hold on to every single drop of blood while showing the insides of their flesh. Though she wished for a heart that thumped on its own, I wondered what meaning that would have when all her blood moved according to her will. She didn’t even need to breathe.
The Progenitor Tyrkanzyaka could spray out the blood in her body and collect it again.
“Earlier you asked me to relight the brazier in you, right? You were wrong. To make an analogy, What you have isn’t a fire pit but a water mill, Trainee Tyrkanzyaka. Putting in firewood, setting it alight, and living like a blaze is how it is for humans. But vampires, they move their bodies like working a water mill using river water drawn through bloodcraft.”
I deactivated the spell on my finger. The light illuminating the vampire’s heart disappeared, and darkness returned to her body. With a face as dark as the insides of her chest, she murmured to me.
“So it is impossible.”
“Yes. The electric shock I can use is no more than a spark. If you set fire to firewood, it’ll light up, but against water, it’ll only give a brief sting.”
The intelligent vampire understood my words and was dismayed. She had gotten her hopes up for the first time in centuries, only for it to fall. It was extremely hard on her, no doubt.
But even that emotion blinked out in a moment. That was how feelings were to a vampire. She impassively accepted the failure and shook off the last of her lingering regret.
“If so, could you try it once, just once? Even if it is useless, I want to make sure of it.”
“Well, I suppose why not. Dead people get their wishes heard. May as well do the same for someone moving even after death.”
“Haha. Just the right saying for this moment.”
The vampire smiled faintly. I smiled in return as I drew mana from my elbow and cast the State standard magic of channeling lightning.
The brief electric shock continuously stimulated the vampire’s heart. I could feel it convulse at the tip of my finger, twitching and twitching. Blood overflowed from the pressure for a moment.
It was, so to say, more like a mechanical reaction than cardiac resuscitation. Human muscle spasmed when in contact with electricity, and in the vampire’s case, it just happened to be her heart.
I tried to take my finger away without any thought.
At that moment, though, the vampire hastily gripped my hand and pulled it. I couldn’t react as my hand slipped into her chest. I felt the pulpy sensation of living flesh.
Just as I was about to freak out…
The vampire looked astonished yet at the same time delighted as she cried out to me.
“I felt something. I am certain of it. It was just a second, but my heart thumped.”
“Well that’s because of the electric shock…”
“Yes. It was merely a moment, but it bounced on its own! This… My heart…”
She clutched my hand, not letting go as if it were hope. It seemed like she was trying to outright keep it inside her, so worried that I might run.
“Will it truly, truly not work? The heart, my heart…”
But her being a vampire made no difference. Reality was cruel. As my remnant mana disappeared and her excited heart slowly settled, regaining stability, the vampire’s hope also dropped back down. Her heart gradually stopped moving between the blood flowing in her, and her grip on my hand weakened.
As I quietly pulled my arm out, her slack fingers caught on my wrist. I held her hand gently.
“It can’t be helped.”
“… So it appears.”
The vampire touched her chest as she got up. Hiding regret, sorrow, and deep-seated resignation beneath her flesh, she lightly pushed the cut in her chest shut with her fingers. The wound healed in an instant, and her skin became as immaculate as it was before.
｢I thought it would happen this time, but it seems hope still vanishes from my fingers as ever. Has my hand grown so ridiculously large, or is hope such a small, fine thing? Is it not for me to have… not even now?｣
Even her feelings didn’t persist. That glitter of emotion was washed away along with her cold blood.
The vampire cleared her thoughts neatly and spoke as if to comfort me instead.
“Do not mind. I am accustomed to failure. What cannot be helped, cannot be helped.”
“What? Mind, me? What regret would I have? I only tried to help in good faith and then gave up at the impossibility of the task. I’m not an idiot who thinks service is a duty. It’s a shame for you, Trainee Tyrkanzyaka, but me, I don’t think anything of it, alright?”
“As usual… you have such a way with words. A detestable way.”
Smiling bitterly, the vampire got down from my bed. She pulled up her loose clothes and tidied herself before slowly heading outside.
“I apologize for the late intrusion. The night is a time for your kind to sleep, unlike us, after all.”
“We’re in the abyss anyway, so don’t mind. It’s okay. Tell me whenever you need something.”
She was the progenitor of vampires who had reigned for more than a thousand years. I might’ve obtained an incredible reward if I made her heart beat again, but that was beyond my ability.
Even if I could read minds, even if I were the best gambler of the back-alleys, it wasn’t possible to create a winning hand out of nothing to win the pot. It was a natural thing which I didn’t need to be sorry about.
What mattered was, what I was going to get from this point onward. That was all.
“I’ll even give you a heart massage. Occasionally.”
I raised my finger slightly, trying to remember what it touched along with the hope I felt minutes ago.
“But only occasionally.”
The outcome was a bit of a letdown, but it was worth the bonding opportunity.
I gazed at the vampire leaving my room with a content smile.
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