༺ I Was On Your Tail ༻
A few days ago, I discovered the vampire’s secret desire and tried to fulfill her yearning, only to fail. Still, I was greatly satisfied that I could at least create a link between us. It was a big step forward in my relationship-building in Tantalus…
Or so I used to think.
“Could you give me a minute?”
Familiarity with a person didn’t necessarily make you happy to see them. In fact, it was likely to get you weary or irritated.
Recently, the vampire had been looking for me in my room or at the cafeteria, which was giving me a headache. There was only one reason behind her behavior.
I puckered my face as I retorted to the vampire.
“That’s an addiction, you know. An addiction!”
“But it is not very hard for you.”
“Even so, coming to me every time I’m taking a break after a meal is a bit…”
“You just put your finger in. I will do the rest.”
It seemed like she wasn’t going to listen to any persuasion. I nodded with a sigh. The vampire looked like she expected my response as she untied her collar and approached me.
To someone looking from afar without knowing the situation, this would’ve made for a hugely enviable sight. Imagine a head-turner of a beauty who would always glow as she dragged you to a secluded place and pulled your hand to her chest.
She opened her flesh instead of her clothes to non-metaphorically pull your hand inside her, which may give a different idea of how it feels.
I put my finger deep between the slit in her flesh. Now I could find the way to her heart without even looking. I skilfully navigated her insides while musing over this unwelcome change in me.
Lightning ran through my finger into the vampire’s heart.
No matter how weak it was, the spell was cast at point-blank range and was potent enough to stop a heart. But the target was a vampire whose vitals had long ceased. To her, this electric shock was a pleasant stimulus that invoked nostalgia.
A flush rose on the vampire’s cheeks as her electrified heart furiously pulsated with blood. So much blood that her ivory-pale complexion changed, struck with a pleasure of a different genre.
She gripped my arm with a sweet moan and clung to me with her body, yet I hardly felt any weight from her.
The vampire enjoyed the sensation in her body for a long while and fully leaned against me.
“Hrr… You are growing more and more… skillful.”
“Humans are creatures of learning. We’re getting used to each other.”
“Thank you… Please do the same next time.”
“Could you go easy on me? It’s a bother.”
“Where did all your respect for elders go? Now you do not even pretend.”
“Well I didn’t think you’d come so often. I’m pretty sure I told you not to show your heart to anyone. You don’t care about it now, do you?”
“I am already dead. I could put my heart out and suffer no harm, so why do you say that?”
The vampire tried to prove her point by doing exactly what she said, but I hastily reached out to stop her. She smirked as she took my hand off and fixed up her clothes.
“Besides, I only show it to you. Be proud.”
“Oh please. That’s not exactly welcome either, alright? I want to respect the elderly, not do labor. Everyone regardless of age or gender hates extra labor.”
“If so, what if there is a reward? I shall give you gold I have been keeping.”
“Forget it. You can’t trust gold from before the Alchemic Revolution. They’re about as valuable as pretty pebbles you find rolling about the ground.”
“A-Agh. It seems the times have moved on a little too far…”
Crestfallen, the vampire held her chin and muttered to me.
“What to do… Gold and statuettes are about all I have right now. I do not know if these can serve as rewards.”
“Excuse me? Statuettes?”
“Yes. Lie paintings or sculptures. If there was one hobby I had, it was collecting art. The inspiration lasts only a moment, but the artwork will remain as is. But… I do not know how valuable that is in this day and age either.”
“It should still be better than gold. Could you show me once?”
“Yes. I shall bring it over, so wait here.”
The vampire went off to bring her works of art. I smiled contentedly as I watched her go.
Look at her. A sheep after all. All it took was a bit of shepherding to make her voluntarily offer her fortunes.
And it was artwork at that. One of the few things that grew in value the longer they aged. We were talking about objects of art stored for more than a thousand years with a vampire in her coffin, objects that belonged to a woman of absolute power who once ruled the world.
I couldn’t even guess their worth, but this I knew: it was a treasure trove greater than most gold mines. Who knew when something was going to happen in Tantalus? It was a good idea to keep a treasure or two on me.
I turned around, mentally painting a rosy future.
｢Th-th-th-th- that guy. What’s he doing with Tyrkanzyaka?!｣
…But for now, I had to deal with that voyeuristic peeper around the corner.
I walked down the hallway, pretending to know nothing. The Regressor followed behind me in stealth.
｢Do I reveal myself? Or not? Criminals in the act should be caught and interrogated right away. But what if he thinks I stalked him?｣
What if? You did stalk me. Did you leave your conscience behind in your last life?
While I desperately tried to keep my itchy mouth shut, the Regressor made a conclusion after a long thought.
｢No! Focus on your original purpose, Shei! I came here to find out what happened in the abyss, and to stop Azzy and Tyrkanzyaka falling into corruption! To do that! I’m allowed to intervene!｣
The Regressor launched herself in my way and came striding over, staring a hole in me.
So she finally made up her mind to step out. Took her long enough.
I faced the Regressor with composure.
“Hello, Trainee Sh—”
“What did you do to Tyrkanzyaka?”
Straight to the point, eh?
I shot back at her like I didn’t know anything.
“Have you been following me all this time?”
“Of course… not I mean! I just happened to see! I coincidentally saw you going somewhere with Tyrkanzyaka, and witnessed you doing something strange!”
“Something strange, you say? But I haven’t done anything deserving of accusation, though.”
“Gonna make excuses, are we? I saw it from start to finish! And I even heard you two talk!”
What the heck? Aren’t you just a stalker?
“What the heck? Aren’t you just a stalker?”
Drat. I spoke my thoughts out loud.
“I’m not!! Technically speaking… Yeah! I’m a sort of undercover detective!”
“Trainee Shei. Are you, by any chance, a policeman?”
“Huh? Th-that’s not it.”
“Huh. Then you are just a stalker.”
The Regressor jumped up and down angrily, getting upset on her own. Then she took a deep breath and glared at me.
“Don’t turn the subject. This is an extremely grave issue!”
“But this is ridiculous. What are you suggesting I’ve done to Trainee Tyrkanzyaka? At the very least, I didn’t do anything against my conscious.”
“Oh now you’re playing innocent, yeah?”
“You denying that you shadowed me is what’s called playing innocent.”
“That’s not what matters right now!”
“Ugh, fine. Let’s hear what “matters” then. What is it?”
The Regressor thought she had me cornered just because I played along a little. Her voice became triumphant.
“You, you molested Tyrkanzyaka against her will!”
“Excuse me? Against, whose, what?”
“You, molested, Tyrkanzyaka and…”
The Regressor’s voice gradually died down as she realized her own words made no sense. I shot her the side-eye with a frown. Of course she made no sense. Threatening and molesting Tyrkanzyaka? A nature-defying monster named the Queen of Darkness and Progenitor of Vampires?
If I could do that, why would I be living like this?
Realizing the meaning behind my cold gaze, the Regressor let out a shriek.
“B-But I saw it carefully with my Jade Eyes! Y-You, you were putting your hand in Tyrkanzyaka’s chest!”
“Yes, well. I touched her heart too.”
“How absurd! What, are you suggesting that you melted her frozen heart in a poetic sense?”
What was she on about? I meant it in the literal sense. I physically touched her heart with my hand. Really.
“And on top of that, she said you were growing more and more skillful…!”
“It’s not a very pleasant experience.”
Do you know what it feels like for your hand to naturally navigate through someone’s flesh to reach their heart?
Sure the vampire could bend blood to her will and regenerate herself even if she was cut to bits, but even so, sticking a hand inside her was seriously weird.
That oddly warm and moist feeling of slippery flesh and squirming muscles… It
felt like I had entered a whale’s stomach.
Be it blood, internal organs, muscles, or bones, humans have evolved to feel nauseous about everything filling their bodies because having their innards exposed is like a death warning.
It was the same for me. My sanity meter had been draining in real-time lately.
“You, you, but you—anyway. Regarding whatever the hell you’re up to with Tyrkanzyaka, I honestly don’t really know but…”
You say that after jumping to conclusions in your head?
I tilted my head, acting clueless.
“Do you really not know?”
“I don’t know but!!”
｢At this rate, Azzy and Tyrkanzyaka will become too heavily influenced by this man! Whether this is corruption, I’m still unsure. But if it ends in corruption in the future, it could be his fault!｣
What did I do to deserve this? Corruption? Why would I corrupt those two? It’s akin to saying that I wanted to commit suicide.
Seeing how her imagination was way off, she really must not know.
Then again, who could imagine giving a point-blank electric massage to someone’s heart?
“I’m sure it’s something strange that can’t be shown to others!”
Now that was correct. I had nothing to refute it.
“Seeing you stay silent, I must be right! I’ll put your deeds to an end toda—!”
“Those deeds are to my liking. Who are you to presumptuously end them?”
The vampire came over with her huge coffin, wearing an angry expression. She passed right by the Regressor and stood to cover me.
The Regressor was stunned. Tyrkanzyaka had treated her like a disciple, yet she was taking my side.
｢Tyrkanzyaka is shielding that man? Against me?｣
Her eyes trembled in disbelief, but the vampire’s gaze was cold and chilling.
“Enough. Why do you meddle with my every matter? How can a disciple raise his voice in his master’s business?”
“That’s not it. I’m doing this for you!”
｢In my previous life, you suffered a bitter betrayal, which led to you joining a great war that set the world on fire!｣
Her inner voice was mournful and sincere. She was certain to be telling the truth. It must have happened sometime in her future. It was clear the Regressor wanted to prevent Tyrkanzyana from falling into ruin. She wished for the latter’s happiness, whether it be for the world or for herself.
But only I could tell this truth because the vampire didn’t have the ability to read thoughts.
To the Regressor’s dismay, the vampire snorted at her words.
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