༺ A Horrid Puppet Show Starring the Progenitor – END ༻
Crackle. Electricity surged from the tip of my skewer. It flowed through the Primordial Essence, delved into the Progenitor’s heart, and spread throughout her body along blood vessels.
Thump. The vampire’s body reacted strongly to the familiar shock. Her mouth opened slightly, releasing a moan as she felt a sensation her body had learned, a thrilling pleasure coursing through her veins. It drew out the vampire’s consciousness from the depths of slumber.
At the same time, Finlay began screaming madly.
The blood wriggling through Finlay’s entire body looked as though thousands of worms were crawling beneath his skin. Blood oozed from his nose, and the blood vessels in his eyes burst, staining them red. All the blood in him was scattered everywhere.
While Finlay writhed in extreme agony on the ground, the vampire’s heart pulsed again. Focus returned to her hazy eyes, which filled with the crimson red of a setting sun. A little bit of life returned to her doll-like face.
Amidst the silence of trembling blood and darkness that awaited the return of the Progenitor, she began to move slowly.
“I had a dream.”
The battle came to an end. Ralion abruptly ceased combat. In her seething anger, Azzy tore Ralion into dozens of pieces. But this time, instead of regenerating, the sanguine steed chose to let its blood flow toward the vicinity of the vampire.
Upon returning to the vampire’s side, Ralion slumped down as if drained of strength.
“For a moment, I believed my dream had come true. Alas, it slipped through my fingers in no time. Still I desired it so, so much that I sought to find another way.”
“Your sleep-talking was pretty bad. That’s why one shouldn’t sleep in coffins instead of beds.”
The Primordial Essence, which had been nestled in every nook and cranny of the Regressor’s body, escaped outward. It calmly drifted through the air to the vampire.
After catching her breath, the Regressor walked through the stationary dark knights and made her way over to us.
“Was it… a delusion? Have I dared to seek what should never be desired, a life that was lost? Am I guilty of sinning against the gods by simply wishing?”
“No. You only caused trouble for me. Have you ever considered how miserable it feels to see a student do everything I told her not to do? After all the effort I went to at that. You sinned against me before even sinning against the gods.”
The vampire muttered with darkened eyes.
“Tell me. What have I done wrong? Dreaming? Hoping?”
“Well there’s quite a few, but the biggest of them?”
I raised my finger and pointed at the exposed ribcage in her chest.
“A self-claimed demure lady baring her chest. What are you thinking? It’s embarrassing. Mind your behavior, will you?”
My response completely deviated from the vampire’s expectations. I could be certain of that, having read her mind.
Taken aback, the vampire widened her eyes and soon let out a small giggle.
“After all those times you have seen it?”
“I don’t mind when it’s just in front of me. That’s a charm point.”
She laughed heartily, to the point I could almost see her eyes glisten with mirthful tears. Not that she could shed any tears. Then she covered her mouth belatedly.
“My apologies. I shall be mindful from now on.”
“You’ll have to make a lot of effort too. You’ve already lost heaps of points on my mental scoreboard. The others feel the same way too.”
The vampire took a brief look around her. She saw the small sun hovering in the air, the intermingling Blood Aura and darkness, broken dark knights, and Ralion limping with wounds. Her eyes swept across the Regressor walking slowly over, clutching her chest, Azzy with disheveled clothes, and the earthener’s arm now turned pitch black.
Having taken in everything, the Progenitor smiled faintly, murmuring.
“That is rather… regrettable.”
Then she waved her finger, and Finlay’s screams resumed. The reason he had been quiet until now was that the vampire hadn’t permitted him to scream.
As Finlay rolled on the floor in pain, the Progenitor uttered coldly to him.
“Much time has passed indeed, it seems. Even respect is judged arbitrarily now. So, how did it feel to have short control over me?”
Finlay lifted his head, gasping for breath. The man was in miserable shape. His jaw appeared sunken with missing teeth, his cheeks had turned a sickly shade, and his veins were still bulging erratically.
Finlay gazed up at the Progenitor who had returned to her senses and shouted desperately.
“I admit to committing an unforgivable sin, but O Progenitor! Please listen! You must go to the surface! We desperately need you, the deepest of blood! To bring all of us together!”
“I shall not go.”
“Why, but why?”
“I had several reasons for that. Another one has been added as of late.”
The vampire unfurled her parasol of darkness once more and looked down at Finlay with eyes that glowed red. Her gaze would flicker with warmth toward kin, but against traitors, she would show nothing but coldness.
“That wish will not come true, for the retainer who wished it deceived me.”
Finlay’s already dreadful face was tainted with even deeper despair. Denying the situation momentarily, he soon transformed the dregs of his emotions into anger.
“Why!! O Progenitor! Why do you not help us!!”
Yet the Progenitor remained unaffected by his irrational anger. The still-hearted vampire returned a cold reply, utterly unshaken.
“I am not someone who helps you children. You also did not help me.”
“Everyone awaits you! You who created us and our blood! You who are our very roots! You must lead us! To victory, to glory!”
“All I gifted was an extension of life. Victory, glory? I have no memory of promising such things.”
Finlay’s expression turned stupid.
Becoming a vampire meant gaining respite from death. In exchange for a still heart, vampires moved their blood through bloodcraft under the Progenitor’s power. It was the reason they could walk upon the earth even after experiencing the end of life. By the Progenitor’s grace, vampires multiplied and hid among humans, operating from the shadows and eventually earning the moniker, the nobles of the night.
One great vampire even became the ruler of a duchy. However, the Progenitor had never promised such a thing.
“We idolized you!! And yet, why are our feelings left unrewarded?!”
Reason doesn’t always follow logic, especially in extreme circumstances where thoughts themselves tend to reach the extremes.
Finlay blurted out words without any logical sequence as if throwing stones randomly and hoping for them to land. Of course, they held no meaning whatsoever to the Progenitor who had weathered 1200 years.
Finlay’s voice cut off suddenly. He stretched his mouth but no sound came out.
“It irks me, having to hear your breath…”
His breathing ceased.
“Having to animate your unworthy body with my power…”
His blood flow, reliant on bloodcraft, also stopped that very moment.
In a mere instant, all vital functions in Finlay’s body came to a halt. All he could do was move his eyes around. Fear registered in his mind a little late because he failed to recognize the situation.
Finally, Finlay had come face to face with his death more objectively.
｢’I, no. If I die like this. My maker, our kin, the race of vampires…’｣
“And having to bear with your presumptuous unruliness.”
Click. The vampire snapped her fingers, and blood began to whirl in Finlay’s shoulder. The fierce spinning of blood within his veins then suddenly intensified, becoming even sharper, and steadily grew in size, grinding through his flesh until, at one point, his right arm blew off.
Finlay wasn’t allowed to even scream. He could only suffer through it with popping eyes.
｢Gah, aaagh. W-why? Why does it hurt so… But I, I am a noble of the night!｣
Yet his pain didn’t end there. He still had an arm, and two legs.
Click. The blood contained in his left arm split his insides like a saw blade. Finlay screamed in his mind, trying to twist himself. However, he wasn’t permitted to even move. His body only trembled.
Click. This time it was his left leg. His blood vessels broke apart and went wild, rampaging like a whip that tore through his entire body. Drops of blood seeped from cracks in his skin.
｢It huuurts! Gah, hagh! It hurts, it hurts!｣
Click. Finally, his right leg. This time, bubbles of blood turned sharp as needles, traveling throughout his body. Finlay half lost his senses at the agony of needles roaming his blood vessels.
By the time he lost all his limbs, Finlay was halfway out of his mind as he repeated a single thought to himself.
｢I… wasn’t wrong… Someone had to do it…｣
It was his final recourse, his mental fortress. The lifeline he clung to, safeguarding his remaining shreds of dignity.
But the vampire felt no pity at the sight of Finlay writhing like a worm. None. She merely did what she had to.
“Even your continued existence… vexes me beyond measure.”
Just as the vampire was about to kill Finlay, I spoke up to stop her.
“Wait a minute, Trainee Tyrkanzyaka.”
A peculiar yearning stirred within me, reminiscent of the mischievous playfulness of childhood. It was the kind of curiosity that leads you to ponder: What would be the reaction of a lone ant suddenly severed from its marching comrades? How hard must I shake the delicate strands of a spider’s web, as it descends on its silken thread, to make it plummet? How many more tugs on the frayed rope will cause it to snap, strand by strand?
Sorry, Finlay. When it’s time to go, you gotta go out clean, right?
“I gave you a chance, too. Everyone here had a chance to choose. But you, you made the dumbest decision.”
｢…I, for my… coven…｣
“But you know, don’t you? You could have turned back in the middle, and you clearly realized this. You knew that even if you ventured to the surface with Tyrkanzyaka and returned to the Duchy of Mist… it wouldn’t alter the fact that you, a mere neonate, had committed the unforgivable offense of daring to manipulate the Progenitor.”
｢…I know. I care not… for… my lif—｣
“Doing it for your coven, oh what a nice excuse. But how about we get a little more honest?”
Even on the brink of death, he had something he desperately clung to for salvation.
But as someone who knew its true nature, I couldn’t resist poking at it.
“About when you were deceiving and manipulating the Progenitor. The maker you revere and serve so devotedly, the welfare of your coven whom you desired to elevate even at the cost of your own life… You never once considered them, did you?”
He was finally looking my way.
With a grin, I posed a question to the vampire in theatrical fashion.
“Trainee Tyrkanzyaka! Finlay has committed the grave offense of coveting the Progenitor’s power! It is an unprecedented, terrible transgression in vampire history! So, how should Finlay, the perpetrator of this crime, be punished?”
At my question, the vampire retorted with an attitude that seemed to question why I asked something so obvious.
“He shall be Purged.”
The word etched itself vividly within his hazy consciousness.
Purging. A dreadful, cruel punishment filled with malice, executed with the purpose of completely eradicating a coven from its roots. Even within the Duchy of Mist, it remained merely a concept, never practiced. Yet the Progenitor Tyrkanzyaka spoke of it so casually.
“A mere retainer presumed to control me. The crime of a retainer transgressing against higher blood must be borne by their maker.”
But Finlay was unaware of something. Forget 1200 years, it was only a few centuries ago that Purging was a commonly employed penalty.
｢No, wait. It can’t be.｣
It looked like he had finally realized what he had done.
This is why generational differences can be scary, I tell you.
To make things even clearer, I asked the vampire another question.
“Then what becomes of that person called Count Erte?”
“Is he not Finlay’s maker?”
The vampire possessed a heart that refused to beat. Born 1200 years ago during an era veiled in chaos and darkness, she had experienced life twice—first as a mortal and then as a vampire.
The Progenitor empathized with the fates of those she had brought into existence. She felt pity for the children who were denied the embrace of sunlight and condemned by humanity. However, compassion didn’t absolve transgressions, nor did it lessen the weight of punishments.
“Then, he must disappear. Vladamir will be sorry.”
It was an icy declaration. Finlay shivered, feeling the coldness in her words.
Finlay’s eyes snapped wide as he screamed. Or at least, he did in his mind. His mouth was still glued shut.
He showed denial.
｢Not even the Progenitor can kill an ancilla at her whim! He is a loyal vassal of Lord Sanguine! I, I did it completely of my own judgment! My maker…!｣
He grew furious.
｢How can the Progenitor do this, someone who did not even show herself to us! How can she do what she likes with a vassal of the Duchy!｣
And he begged for mercy.
｢Please! This was my arbitrary decision. The others of my blood did nothing wrong!｣
But all his mournful thoughts were conveyed to no one but me.
I crouched in front of him.
“Finlay. You knew the answer. When you lied, you consoled yourself that everything was for your maker and coven.”
Thinking for others, that’s a wonderful thing. But there’s one problem. The notion is often used as a reason to justify actions, and people are surprisingly prone to neglecting the ones they hold so precious.
In other words, Finlay’s claim of acting for his kin was just a psychological tool, like a saw or hammer.
“Yet why didn’t you think about what would happen to your maker and coven when your lie was exposed? Did you fail to think that far? Did you refuse to consider the idea because it was too terrible a future? If not even that, did it just not matter much?”
It didn’t matter much. Because Finlay’s true feelings…
“Because you thought yourself a bloody awesome vampire who can control the Progenitor, because you became a God for a while. Which is why you probably couldn’t spare even a thought for your bloodline.”
Finlay quivered, his eyes brimming with fear. Despite losing all his limbs, he reached for me in his mind; he had yet to accept the reality.
In his illusion, he was stretching out to grab my hand in a shaking hold as he pleaded with me.
｢No! You, you can’t! I’m telling you no!｣
“Goodbye, Finlay. Your love, your adoration, your loyalty, they were all transient sentiments. Well, it can’t be helped. People have a remarkable capacity for forgetting things that hold little significance, after all.”
“But you still made an achievement no one has achieved. A mere retainer manipulating the Progenitor. I’m sure it’ll leave a mark in history. Though your coven won’t remain.”
｢Was I simply blind?｣
“Let him go now, Tyrkanzyaka.”
And Finlay’s thoughts stopped. The vampire retrieved her power, and the extension of his life expired today.
I closed Finlay’s eyes for him. Not that it meant much. His body soon crumbled away like dust. Still, the man barely managed to become honest in the end. I offered my meager condolences for his soul.
Silence descended, accompanied by the fading light of the pseudo-sun. Night cast its veil.
With the untimely funeral concluded, I got to my feet. The vampire, who had patiently awaited my next move, began speaking to me.
“The punishment to Finlay’s coven shall be met in good time. I cannot climb to the surface immediately, after all.”
Punishment? Who cared about that? It wasn’t like I wanted to kill all of Finlay’s bloodline or anything. I just wanted him to know his true feelings. In fact…
“Er, by the way Trainee Tyrkanzyaka. Did you know?”
I was against hereditary crimes.
“The hereditary crime system was recently abolished.”
“These days it’s rare for punishments to extend to family. Though there are cases of paying debts with joint responsibility.”
The vampire was greatly surprised. She was familiar with learning about new technology, but a shift in moral perspective was a challenging aspect for the vampire to readily accept.
With newfound knowledge, the vampire asked a question with wide eyes.
“Then how does one punish a criminal and hold them accountable if they were to escape like Finlay like a lizard dropping its tail?”
Her gaze shimmered with pure curiosity. Fearing that I would be stuck explaining for days on end if I answered all her questions, I provided a half-hearted response.
“I’m not the one who abolished it.”
You can rate this series here.
Advanced chapters one genesistls.com
Illustrаtiоnѕ on our ԁiscоrԁ – discord.gg/genesistls