༺ Living Wise ༻
Once I gathered all the trainees into the classroom, I began the lesson with a clap.
“Now, it’s been a while but let’s begin class. But before that…”
As usual, the vampire was sitting on her floating coffin instead of a chair. Beside her, Finlay was standing at attention with both hands together as if it were only natural.
I pointed at him with an irritated face.
“Trainee Tyrkanzyaka. Can’t you do something about that thing standing next to you?”
Finlay burst out angrily at that.
“Why! The noble Progenitor must always be accompanied by a servant who will stand in for menial work. I will do my duty quietly, so you focus on yours! There should be no problem at all if we each tend to our duties!”
That was rich, coming from a guy who always meddled and went “Why!” every other day under the pretext of duty. I could only see it as him intending to hinder class with all his might.
As I stared coldly at Finlay, the vampire reprimanded her retainer.
Finlay immediately fell to one knee, acting as if he had never shouted. He showed a completely opposite attitude to her. Of course, there was some degree of ulterior motives behind that. The difference in treatment was to elevate the vampire’s stature so that she would become more lenient toward him.
In any case, the vampire silenced Finlay at once before turning to me.
“I ask that you understand. He also seemed curious about the contents of this class.”
“Understand? What are you saying? Is it okay to walk on in here as he pleases just out of curiosity?”
I put down my chalk stick loudly and glared at Finlay.
“Finlay. This class is exclusively prepared for my trainees, you see. Outsiders should stay out of it.”
“I am the Progenitor’s attendant and the drop of blood she bestowed! At her need, I am obligated to devote my blood and uphold her honor!”
“I am a warden of the Military State. I’m the one in charge here. If you don’t listen to me…”
“If I don’t?”
I swept away the papers on my teaching desk with my hands, clearing them in an instant. Then I leaped on the desk and lay down.
Bewildered by my wild movement, the vampire reproached me.
“What are you doing? After calling us here too.”
“There’s someone I didn’t call.”
I rested my head on my hands and whistled leisurely.
“I’m not doing class. I’ll completely stay out of your business from now on, so you vampires can go ahead and play patty-cake with each other.”
With that said, I rolled over to face the chalkboard. It was basically a boycott declaration. The vampire grew urgent at the risk of losing the lesson she’d been anticipating.
“Are you sulking? A grown-up like you?”
“But you are. What is making you act so childish?”
“Oh, fine. I am sulking. Twice as much now after what you said. Forget class or massages, I ain’t doing nothing no more.”
With her lesson and even massages held hostage, the vampire was the one getting hasty. Feeling panicky, she was halfway off her coffin as she spoke.
“What is making you so stubborn?”
“Asking someone who’s sulking only makes them sulk more. And what, do you think I “like” holding lessons? I put quite some time and effort into making them. It just kills my motivation when someone interrupts everything I say. Though well, maybe the great Progenitor needs a trumpeter who does her yelling for her.”
Anyone not a fool would get what I was saying, and while the vampire was a bit old, she was no idiot. Between a retainer who ventured into the abyss for her or a warden who provided various enjoyments, who would she pick?
The vampire’s decision came swiftly and as coldly as her unbeating heart. She gestured to Finlay, who responded with tight lips.
“Go outside. And do not come until I call.”
“… As you will.”
The retainer Finlay obeyed her command without a single hesitation. He didn’t forget to shoot a glare at me on the way out, too. Judging by his rebellious attitude, I could see he wasn’t going to simply back off obediently.
You’re going to eavesdrop, aren’t you? Haha. Fat chance.
“Since you’re going, then go out to the yard. And don’t eavesdrop.”
“Do as he says. I, too, hope you will not listen in secretly in an undignified manner. Such behavior is only for vulgar whistleblowers.”
The vampire was speaking to Finlay, yet it was the regressor, sitting over on the other side, who winced as if pricked with a needle. When I looked at her, she evaded my eyes.
So the girl did have some self-awareness. What a relief that she hadn’t lost all her conscience.
“… As you will.”
The Progenitor’s word was absolute. Finlay could go against her, but that was meaningless. She was capable of precisely sensing his blood from the opposite end of the abyss, after all.
Finlay bowed his head and left, closing the door behind him. When he had gone far enough, the vampire spoke to me in a softer tone.
“I apologized, did I not? Finlay merely thinks too much of me. Since I have sent him out, tell us the story you have prepared today.”
“It’s a lesson, not a story. Don’t just take my hard-thought-out class as some wonderful story-telling.”
“Yes. Do carry on with your lesson. I wish to study for once.”
She did her best to soothe me in case I’d sulk even more.
Of course, my electric massages and stories during classes probably mattered more to her than me, but so what? It’s normal for people to be worldly. You can’t be a mind-reader if you mind such things.
“Hoo. Fine. Turn down a late learner, get haunted by a dead ignoramus, or so they say. I’ll just overlook it then. Actually, maybe I already am being haunted?”
“Alright. I’ll begin today’s lesson.”
There was no stopping me now that Finlay was gone. I jumped up from the teaching desk and stepped forward, thumping the desk and raising my voice before the vampire could fully understand what I said.
“Throughout my observation until now, you trainees have not shown any lack of capability in language or empathy in spite of all your bizarre behaviors…”
I paused a beat before continuing.
“Which truly surprised me!”
｢What nonsense is he getting at this time?｣
The regressor was getting rude with her thoughts. The nerve of her!
“But there is something critical missing from you folks. Something very precious that any normal person has. That one aspect is why you are struggling to adjust to the world. Do you know what that is?”
The vampire tilted her parasol slightly; it was her way of putting her hand up.
Satisfied by her eager attitude to learn, I pointed at her right away.
“Yes, Trainee Tyrkanzyaka!”
“Perhaps, we lack the common sense of the present times?”
It was a reasonable guess, contrary to expectations.
Lost for words, I nodded while rubbing my chin.
“Well, that’s not completely wrong either.”
“Then, it will become all right if you teach us plenty. Classes have been held too rarely these days. Are you not being too lazy as a warden? If you truly think for us, then hold these lessons more often.”
“But common sense differs by the country, the era, and the generation. So how can I arrogantly define the absence of common sense? Unfortunately, that is not the answer I wanted!”
Whew. Good thing I reacted quickly. I would’ve ended up extending class time otherwise.
After thwarting the onset of additional labor, I resumed speaking.
“What you ladies lack, that is none other than a normal sense of danger!”
The regressor, sitting in that delinquent posture of hers as usual, frowned as she threw a question.
“A normal… sense of danger?”
“Indeed. A sense of danger. The part of you that is vigilant in determining whether a crisis is approaching. It is this little screw that is either missing from your heads or screwed on so tightly that it’s damaged your brains.”
The two didn’t become aware of it even after hearing what I said. I couldn’t tell whether they really didn’t know or just didn’t think about it.
Since I couldn’t let them learn on their own, I had no choice but to point out everything.
“For reference, the one with the screw turned too tightly is Trainee Shei, while the one who had it so loose that it flew off is Trainee Tyrkanzyaka.”
“That is absurd!”
The two protested in unison. Yes, just as I had expected. The foolish never looked back on themselves, after all. Then I had to show them evidence.
“Now then. I’ll run a simulation for you two who aren’t objectively self-aware enough.”
I took out the object I had prepared from beneath the teaching desk. It was a marionette doll I had improvised out of the golem remains I picked up at the control center.
Back when I was a magician, I used to do puppet shows to draw in kids. Once I was done with a short play and held out my hat, they’d hand me pennies they got from their parents who returned after their business.
It was time to revisit that experience. I lifted the marionette, connected by thin threads to a wooden cross, and started.
“I’ve thought on it carefully. Why do you ladies have no normal sense of danger? After brooding over it for a while, I identified the issue, and so prepared a situation to reveal it.”
I worked my fingers to control the marionette, which was roughly a third of my height. It moved according to my movements. I made it scratch its head with its left hand, and shake its legs in a dance too. After performing all kinds of motions and getting a feel for how it worked, I paused to give an explanation.
“I’ll use this puppet here, he’s an old chap, or Mr. Chap for short, to set the situation. You only need to respond appropriately to the given scenario.”
“Do you take us for children…?”
“If you don’t like it, then give me a reason not to hold lessons for kids. Now, allow me to show you a demonstration! Azzy!”
At my call, Azzy got up at once and came to me. It just so happened that she had been feeling greatly curious about my marionette. Her eyes followed Mr. Chap as I shook him this way and that.
“Now, this golem will talk to you. You just need to give a proper response that’s within social limits. Got it?”
“Yes. Even a response like that is good enough. Then start!”
Mr. Chap shook his right hand, and Azzy’s head followed its movements, shaking left to right. When Mr. Chap put out his hand, she did the same.
After catching her interest, I ventriloquized through the marionette.
“Hello there, kid.”
Azzy returned the greeting, which by itself put her in the top 50% of the Abyssal Manners Ranking.
I smiled at Azzy and went on.
“How about this old chap teaches you something fun?”
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