༺ The Progenitor and the Masseur ༻
Dropping the golem for the moment, I jumped in between the two vampires as naturally as can be, as if it were my responsibility.
“Oi, trespasser. The bullshitting stops here. Shut your trap and get up.”
The two turned to me at the same time. The vampire wore a calm, settled look, whereas the intruder lifted his chin slightly, glowering.
The intruder’s thoughts turned fiery at the disturbance.
｢The insolence! How dare a mere human disrupt this sacred moment with the Progenitor? Does he want to die?｣
He only kept his anger inside because he was standing in the vampire’s presence. Otherwise, he would’ve pounced on me at once.
｢If I were not standing before the Progenitor, I would have immediately ripped you apart and drained you with my bloodcraft!｣
Fierce hostility turned towards me. I must have seemed like a hindrance to this meeting he had looked forward to so much. And I was.
But it wasn’t like I barged in without any fallback. I wouldn’t have stepped in if the vampire wasn’t there in the first place. She was the one I intended to speak with, after all. Not the intruder.
I would lose in a fight against the intruder. We would bleed the same way from a cut, but while he could recollect his blood as if picking up a lost coin, I’d have to bandage the injury and recuperate for days. So, I just had to not fight.
Winning through a fight was amateur. A true expert won without fighting.
I crossed my arms and raised my head. It was for this moment that I usually acted so easygoing.
I wiped off the smile on my lips, furrowed my brows in displeasure, and leaned slightly on one foot as if I’d lunge in at any moment to give off an intimidating air. I’d come off as no more than a common delinquent to the intruder, as I was a stranger to him, but the vampire would be thrown off a little. She was used to my light and sunny attitude.
The unfamiliar would lead to fear.
It was only for a moment, but the vampire was afraid of me.
…Of course, it wasn’t a fear of my power, but the kind of unease you’d briefly feel when a close friend suddenly turned serious. These two feelings were, surprisingly, the same emotion.
“I have been extremely patient.”
The basics of magic tricks were neither sleight of hand nor mysterious magic tools. True magic involved toying with the psychology of an audience.
In that sense, I was still a magician.
“You visited someone else’s territory in the middle of the night, without notice. You ignored the territory lord, rudely sought his guest, and refused his rightful request. You have threatened my territory, my dignity, and my honor.”
I justified my behavior and tacitly expressed my anger. I had given enough clues for the vampire to infer what I was getting at. My whole being was threatened, after all.
｢Surely he is not going to kill him?｣
That one question popping into her mind was all I needed.
“It is said that enduring the third insult is not mercy but indulgence. As you know, I am quite a sincere person, and I can’t simply overlook such disrespect.”
I narrowed my eyes and twitched a finger with my arms still crossed as if I were capable of removing the intruder with that slight movement.
I put on an arrogant show while throwing a question at the vampire.
“But in consideration of our friendship, Trainee Tyrkanzyaka, I shall ask for the last time. May I kill this intruder?”
My ability to kill was non-existent, but the vampire didn’t know that. She genuinely tried to dissuade me.
“…You must desist. Please.”
In her heart, I was as strong as the regressor or even stronger. Putting aside the ridiculous misconception, if that’s what she thought, there was no reason not to take advantage of it.
Although the vampire was strong, she didn’t try to meddle in the business of others. She merely observed things from a strictly bystanding position. Even when the State discovered her while breaking down an old church, and when they tried to put her into the abyss after failing to kill her, the vampire let it all happen.
But for all her indifference to everything else, she couldn’t bear to turn a blind eye to the matter of her kindred, for she felt sorry for her accursed and condemned children. Feeling responsible for their birth, the vampire pleaded with me.
“If only for me, please.”
Good. With her being so earnest, it wouldn’t be suspicious to stop here.
“If you say as much.”
Whew. I did it. It would’ve been troublesome if she told me to kill or spare the intruder as I liked. Sparing him in this situation would be strange, and unfortunately, I had no way of killing the intruder at the moment.
Regardless, I acted as if I lacked the intention to kill, not the capability, and whirled around, speaking to the intruder.
“Consider yourself alive thanks to how pretty Trainee Tyrkanzyaka is.”
I instantly lightened the atmosphere as if pressing a switch. The vampire sounded dumbstruck behind me… but moving on.
“If she were ugly, then I would’ve personally dunked you in pickled garlic. Whatever. Be off with you now. Don’t make a fuss in this late hour.”
The intruder was half-standing, seeming unwilling to kneel in front of me. But despite my offensive remarks, all he could do was eye the situation in that awkward posture, unable to attack or flee.
｢The Progenitor went so far as to ask a favor..? Is this human, although he doesn’t look it, incredibly powerful perhaps?｣
He noticed the vampire’s expression, the way the revered Progenitor worriedly looked at him. She appeared too serious for this to be a joke or a misunderstanding.
The hierarchy of vampires was a concrete thing. Suspicion towards the upper ranks was an outrageous blasphemy, which was why an inferior couldn’t even doubt their judgment.
｢It’s possible. This is Tantalus! A den to all kinds of aberrations. This human might be one of them, a monster beyond imagination!｣
Injected with a tardy dose of politeness, the intruder smoothed his attire. He cleared his throat and proffered a hand with the thought of being cautious, late as it was.
“I owe an introduction. I am—”
“Whatever. It’s still night. I don’t know about you folks, but for humans, it’s a time of sleep and vigilance.”
I pointed at the collapsed control center.
“Your room will be that broken control center. There’ll be empty cabinets, so pick one to use as your coffin to sleep in. Don’t expect to get any more than that.”
｢Never have I been treated like this before…! But this is the residence of the Progenitor. The other inhabitants of the abyss, while not as much as her, must be strong and mysterious. Lay low for now, Finlay! Survival is the priority!｣
The intruder bowed his head to the vampire before heading to the control center without even meeting my eyes.
Whew. What a relief that he didn’t pounce on me. If you’re going to run a scam, you gotta do it right. Right?
The guy acted all haughty as a noble of night, but even he turned docile in front of me. It was worth playing risking so much to act powerful. My actions weren’t wrong.
While I was shivering in thrill for a moment there, a voice called out to me.
I saw a parasol sway in the corner of my vision. The vampire was standing by my side.
I replied to her in a tranquil tone.
“It’s nothing, considering the connection we have. You can ask this much of me.”
“From one heart-toucher to another, don’t you think? We’ve formed such a deep relationship, come on.”
“Pft. Right. Let us leave it at that.”
The vampire laughed, then with a slightly expectant face, she put a hand to her cleavage.
Oh just wait one second. Again?
The vampire’s flesh separated, her skin splitting apart to show what shouldn’t be seen. My lamplight didn’t reach the secrets inside her, so nothing was visible in her shadowed cleavage.
But I had confidence at that moment. The confidence to find the heart hidden in there using only the senses of my hand.
“Speaking of which, will you do it for me once?”
“Right now? In this situation?”
“What is the issue? It is just the right time, is it not? The surroundings are dark, the world is silent, and no one is looking at us.”
Her red eyes sparkled with anticipation. I sighed and raised my fingers.
As for what followed, I didn’t exactly want to remember.
My finger dug its way inside her (through her ribs and lung). It felt so slippery (the heart). Then came a sweet moan following a climax (of magical lightning). Hot juices(blood) gushed out like a fountain.
While I moderately “corrected” my memories after the deed was done, for sanity’s sake, the vampire fixed up her skin and clothes in satisfaction, laughing gently.
“Thank you. I shall return now.”
With that said, she got on her black coffin, which smoothly carried her toward the underground armory, silent and stealthy. The red-marked metal doors opened wide to let her in. Only after the large coffin and its owner’s shiny silver hair disappeared did the door close heavily.
Pitch-black darkness and silence fell. I went back to the lamp I had put down.
Finally, the golem started talking like a broken dam.
『What in the world did you do just now?』
“An electrifying, feel-good thing.”
“It’s hard to explain. Just think of it as a massage, basically.”
It would take a god or a mind-reader to understand what I just said alone. Since the golem was neither, she confusedly came to her own conclusion.
『In any case, it appears you and the Progenitor are not on bad terms.』
“All efforts I made to survive.”
The golem nodded.
『Then things can become much easier. The visit of another vampire is unexpected. An active response by the field personnel is required.』
I retorted with disinterest.
“Yes, go for it. Oh, and don’t forget to reward me.”
『Reward, you say?』
“You wouldn’t pretend like nothing happened, right? I intervened between two vampires with this ordinary body of mine. I should at least be rewarded for risking my only neck for the State just now.”
『It is a State citizen’s duty to serve the State.』
What a load of garbage.
I snatched the golem high up in the air. Caught by its neck, the golem flailed its limbs, shouting at me.
『Cease your threatening behavior at once. The accumulation of negative evaluations may be detrimental to your release from prison or post-evaluation.』
“Captain, forget evaluations and whatnot, I think I’ll be dead before that if your orders get excessive. Could you keep your demands reasonable? If this is how you intended on working me, you should’ve brought in a real warden instead.”
『You are still impersonating a warden to survive, are you not? Military impersonation is a felony that warrants the maximum death penalty. I think it is a meaningful enough reward that I overlook this crim—』
“Huh? Arguing alone doesn’t justify the speaker, Captain Abbey.”
I plucked off the golem’s loudspeaker. Having lost its mouth, the golem hastily reached out to get it back, thrashing its limbs.
“I’m risking my life here even though it may not look like it, Captain. From now on, let’s be considerate of the circumstances. Alright?”
The golem quickly nodded.
After enjoying the sight enough, I flicked the loudspeaker at her.
The golem hastily tried to catch it, but her metal frames were too rigid for that. She struggled like someone on fire as she barely managed to catch the crystal orb speaker in her arms. It was pitiful the way she hugged the thing, as if afraid I’d steal it.
After somehow sticking the speaker back on, the golem resumed speaking in a tired voice.
『…If it is within my authority, I shall give you a single reward. However, anything beyond my power is impossible, even if this unit is destroyed.』
I knew it. Whether it be golems or humans, a sense of threat is what gets them compliant.
I put down the golem again.
“Well, it’s nothing big. Just send me some mana herbs or the like. I’ve been running out of mana using workaday magic these days, and I’m feeling weak.”
『Mana herbs are level 3 luxury items. They are not allowed to—』
I tapped the golem’s loudspeaker and it hurriedly changed its words.
『But the item may be requested for the purpose of distribution. Since there is a good reason, we will supply it within a few days.』
“Great. Make sure to fill the package to the brim, please. Honestly speaking, those mana herbs are nothing compared to what I’m doing right now.”
After giving the golem one last threat, I turned away feeling drowsy. I needed to hurry back and sleep. Getting enough shut-eye was the shortcut to long life.
I yawned widely and tried to return to my room.
But then the golem grabbed my pants again.
『Wait a moment. I ask that you transport this unit to the cafeteria.』
『Without your cooperation, it is difficult to return to the cafeteria with this crippled unit. Transport this unit to the—』
“I can’t quite hear you. Odd. It was fine while we were coming here. Maybe it’s ’cause your words are stiff again?”
As I made a show of picking my ears, the golem stopped talking. She seemed to have realized what I was asking for.
『You are obliged to fulfill my legitimate request—』
“Let’s redo that. Come again?”
After a moment of contemplation, the golem answered in broken syllables.
『…Piggy, back. Please. Oppa.』
I returned my answer in kind.
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