༺ Uninvited Guest ༻
Night in the abyss was so dark that you couldn’t distinguish an inch of anything in front of you. In fact, this was probably its true state of being; an abandoned land with no light, not a hint of warmth, nor any space to set foot on.
I came out to the yard with a lamp to check out the fool who had willingly entered this place. To my surprise, I found a corpse that had come out before me.
“Trainee Tyrkanzyaka? What brought you out here?”
Not even the blinding dark of Tantalus could rival the vampire’s parasol. The shade covering her was less an absence of light, and more like the sable concept of darkness amassed.
The vampire turned her red, glowing eyes to me from beneath that darker than black.
“It is a wonder you woke up. You seemed to need so much sleep.”
“Oh I’ve got nothing to your name, shutting eye forever for 300 years at a time. Compared to that, I sleep like a firefly glittering overnight.”
“Eloquent as usual…”
The vampire smiled softly as she looked at me, or more exactly, the golem above my head.
“A cute toy, I see. Is it a golem?”
“She’s State Signaller Captain Abbey. I’ll have to ask you to excuse her. She’s a shy golem and doesn’t like to socialize.”
The golem retorted at that.
『Negative. It is not that I am shy but that as an overseer, direct contact with trainees is not recommended… So, as such, I hope you will understand my lack of words.』
“What? A golem, speaking by itself without a controller…?”
The vampire’s red eyes grew slightly larger as she put a hand to her mouth in surprise.
“Hem-hem. It must be a new technology. It is not so surprising now.”
Lies. The vampire only knew of golems controlled using threads. Mana communication had to be the newest thing to her.
“Oh. Yes. We’ll leave it at that. But more importantly, why did you come out? I mean really.”
The vampire evaded my question.
“There is no reason for me to explain everything to you.”
“Is it because of the person who’s about to come down?”
“…That is so.”
The vampire grumbled with a slight frown.
“So you already knew. Then again, this is State territory and you are in charge of it, yes? I suppose it is impossible for you to be unaware as the virtual lord of the land.”
“Although I’m not exactly like a lord. Anyway. Did you really come out to greet the newcomer?”
“Yes. Did you not tell us the other day? That if someone else comes next time, Shei or I should deal with them.”
“Uh, I just said it without expecting anything. You’ll really do it?”
“I shall indeed. Though I am a being detached from time, I am taking shelter in this place. So I suppose it a courtesy to listen to your legitimate request.”
With that said, the vampire leaned her parasol on her shoulder and turned her gaze upward.
Hmm. Sure I guess the vampire was sensitive to this sort of etiquette, being an old person. She would try to do her duty for guests. But was that all?
I slowly read the vampire’s thoughts, then grinned.
“That’s not all there is to it, is there?”
“… Are you suspecting my words?”
“Suspecting? Certainly, I do feel a bit of suspicion in me somewhere. That’s why I came out upon sensing an outsider. However.”
I had a talent for reading minds and discovering secrets. If my mind-reading ability became known, everyone would become wary of me. No one would welcome someone capable of exposing their dirty linen as easily as opening a curtain. People might take the initiative of killing me instead.
And that was why I developed a slightly different kind of skill.
“As you know, you are a vampire, Trainee Tyrkanzyaka. Your ability to detect blood encompasses the entirety of Tantalus. Actually, you possess such incredible power that you can outright dominate blood as long as it’s not inside a person’s body. But in other words, if it isn’t flowing outside, you can’t sense it with such perfection. Like with me or the undying Trainee Rasch, for example.”
The skill to disguise the information I gained through mind-reading as a result of deduction.
That’s why I used to do a bit of detective work. All kinds of customers would come to me. They employed me to expose the dirty laundry of others.
Incidentally, my most frequent client request was dealing with adulterers. Ahem-hem.
“So the fact that you already know about the intruder, Trainee Tyrkanzyaka, leaves two possibilities, I think. The falling intruder is bleeding, or—”
The vampire appeared composed, but she was merely turning away from the oncoming truth.
I shrugged casually and let her have the truth I got from her thoughts.
“—is a vampire moving their body by the power of the Progenitor.”
The person falling down here right now was none other than a vampire.
A vampire coming here? I doubted it was to avoid the sunlight. There were many shady places to take shelter in these days, after all. So that left only one reason for a vampire’s blood to be attracted here: the Progenitor Tyrkanzyaka. The vampire had come in search of her mighty blood, no doubt about it.
｢I tried to delay the truth from being revealed, inevitable though it was, but alas…｣
The vampire sighed slightly.
“I have a favor to ask.”
“Don’t worry. I have no prejudice against vampires. If I did, would I have treated you so unreservedly like this in the first place? As long as the vampire coming down right now doesn’t try to kill me, I won’t try to kill them.”
“… It feels like you have entered my mind.”
The vampire smiled warmly at my eloquent response.
“Thank you. For understanding.”
“Don’t mention it. There’s a vampire I know, and she’s a surprisingly good neighbor.”
“You cheeky fellow.”
She chuckled brightly before looking up again, waiting for the still-falling vampire. It was a warm ending that satisfied even the vampire’s heart.
But as with all beautiful stories, what came next was head-splitting hardship and pain.
『Who are you to make arbitrary decisions!』
Out of the vampire’s sight, the golem was pulling at the hair behind my ears. Swallowing the scream that almost burst out of me, I reached behind to pull off the golem’s arms.
“You think I get to decide? It’s the Progenitor who does.”
『She is the Progenitor. The beginning of all vampires, their ruler, the true master of the five vampiric forces including the duchy of Lord Sanguine! Are you going to let them meet?』
“I mean, what do you want me to do? Stop them? Me and what army?”
『Jump in there and persuade the Progenitor!』
『If you cannot, then relay my words down to the last letter. That alone will silence the Progenitor!』
Really now. If it’s so important, why didn’t they do it? What were they hoping for from a mere laborer?
I started walking even as I grumbled.
“Alright. I’ll at least lend a hand. But if you so much as suggest I slay the vampire or something, I swear, Military State be damned I’ll just dunk you in water.”
『Ending this matter on a good note comes first. Because unlike you, I am the actual person in charge of this place.』
With the golem hanging to my head, I furtively went near the vampire, and like her, looked at the sky waiting for the intruder who would soon fall.
But time passed on and on. The fall seemed to take time, or maybe a certain procedure was necessary because the intruder was far past their expected arrival. Like children waiting for shooting stars, the vampire and I simply stared quietly upward with outstretched necks.
As the silence grew long, I heard a sentimental voice under her parasol.
“In the distance past, it was my joy to gaze into the sky at night.”
I gave a casual reply to that.
“It’s the same now. A lot of people enjoy doing that these days too.”
“Yes. Regardless of past or present, the sky is beautiful as ever I am sure. The starry horizons of the night back then were like the galaxy itself flowing. I would keep watching, on and on, oblivious to time, for the night was the only time I could view the heavens unconstrained. But when the night ended, against my belief it would last forever, the Sun God from yonder would lift his resting head from the arm of Mother Earth, and I would hide under the earth to escape His brilliant rays.”
Where the hell did that come from?
I listened quietly, rendered speechless by her 12th-century teen sentimentality that would make even a 12-year-old girl blush. If anything, it was a relief that the vampire didn’t particularly expect a response from me. She just wanted her emotion to drift away in the wind.
“We merely desired to live, yet we had no dignity. We could not raise our heads and proudly face the light. Even if we were demanded to come out and receive rightful judgment, if that judgment was carried out in the town square of noon, we had to flee. Ultimately, we survived, but we could not stand tall.”
The beginning of vampires, the Queen of Shadows. At one time, she took pity on the dying and turned them into vampires, but now she sympathized with her kindred who were born that way. And such feelings, such guilt borne by poor parents would only chase itself in circles.
Why did I give birth to you? Was it the right thing to bring you into this world that offers nothing but pain? Is it a blessing or a curse to grant a life where you must run, be chased, and hide? Would it have been better for the both of us were you not born instead?
Good parents feel guilty to be pained by such thoughts and feel pained again by that guilt. And the more they hurt, the more their guilt swells. Like a self-consuming fire, their emotions taint their body dark. They wail in endless pain to not lose themselves in the gap between truth and reality.
That was how the Progenitor Tyrkanzyaka felt. The sin of creation tormented the small goddess of the black parasol, the sin of birthing the beings called vampires.
“… I thought I would feel better if I could not see the sky. It is why I willingly entered this place. Yet after coming here, it is the sky I miss. How ironic.”
At that moment, something flashed in the starless abyss. A blinking indicator light was getting closer and closer. The approaching light was nothing to appreciate, it was too artificial to be called a shooting star. It looked like something was falling.
And then the intruder dropped to the ground.
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