It most likely appeared in the world in the last few years.
Just like how Death Knights form groups, ‘vampire hunters’ who generally move alone, also have a network. And this information network has a wider range than the Death Knights, who can directly sense the negative energy emitted by the undead.
It didn’t take much time for the rumors about the existence of a strange crystal that hid the presence of the undead to spread among ‘vampire hunters’.
The trigger was when a lower ranked undead a vampire hunter had defeated had the crystal. Its power, confirmed from analysis, was enough to overturn common sense and its origin was immediately investigated.
Lufry frowned and said with a reproaching tone.
“Why… did you not immediately reveal the information to the Order?”
“Kukuku… well, we had no… definitive proof. We can’t exactly give uncertain information to the renowned Order of Death Knights. After all ― we are weak.”
“Hmph… don’t make me laugh.”
Neville turned his eyes, which held a glaring dangerous glint in them, towards Keeper.
The Order of Death Knights and vampire hunters weren’t hostile towards each other on the surface. However, they were not allies either. To start with, the Order was skeptical towards the existence of vampire hunters. For them, the general public is meant to be protected and the vampire hunters without the talent to control blessing are no different from the layman, no matter how much resentment they have towards the undead.
And, the important part for vampire hunters, who seek their enemy solely using their knowledge, experience and information, because they can’t sense the negative energy, ‘Night Crystal’ meant nothing to them. If they get their hands on a crystal, that brings a huge advantage to the undead, it can be used as bait to attract enemies.
Taking all that into account, there was no vampire hunter who would give such information to their unmatched competitor, the Order of Death Knights..
Nearby, Alber, who had lost her curse and most of her abilities, groaned, keeping Neville in check. Perhaps because of her natural disposition or because she spent too long cursed, Alber still maintained the fighting spirit of a savage dog. Her demeanor was also just like that of a beast and it probably wouldn’t be long enough until she could resume her activities as a vampire hunter.
Keeper walked through Dessend while tapping his cane. Neville, who was following behind, frowned at the waterways and the clean streets.
“Anyway, what’s with this town? I’ve never seen a town with such blatant anti-vampire measures.”
“To think that they’d even have garlic gathered… I’ve heard that the Mirage King belonged to the Skeleton race, but… even towns that have been heavily damaged by vampires won’t end up like this.”
Lufry also seemed to be feeling an indescribable feeling of incongruence. His face reflected his doubts.
Looking at them, Keeper let out a chuckle.
“Well… you are the ones who have instructed them many times to take countermeasures…”
“There’s a limit to everything. People are shockingly dense to the invisible threats. That’s why we warned them many times. But when I’m shown a model answer like this… I can’t help feeling a strong sense of discomfort.”
Countermeasures are costly. It would cost huge amounts of money to cover the streets with waterways, to dig deep canals outside the walls and of course to decorate everywhere with silver.
Dessend isn’t a small town, but it’s not a big city either. A town of this size having countermeasures to this extent is unprecedented on the world scale. Strong passion, somehow similar to deep-rooted delusion could be felt here.
Then, Lufry asked Keeper, who kept moving with a cane, without any hesitation.
“Where are you going? To the Mayor?”
Certainly, if they wanted to hear what was happening in the town, going to the Mayor would be the best.
The Order was a well-known organization. No matter how they might hate them, it was unlikely that they would be openly dismissed.
But, Keeper raised the corners of his lips and said with a smile with his rugged boney cheeks raised.
“No. To a friend’s place. Despite my appearance, I have a lot of acquaintances.
Vampire hunting isn’t a well-liked profession.
They hunt vampires in exchange for a lot of money. They use all means, sometimes destroying buildings or letting ordinary people get injured in order to achieve their goals. Among them, there are those who went too far and got arrested as criminals.
Of course, one of the reasons why they’re not well-liked is the fact that a heroic organization like the Order of Death Knights exists, but in order to kill a monster, one must become a monster themselves. It’s a common unfortunate story.
Therefore, vampire hunters all help each other. They have a network of people who have strong grudges against vampires and the undead.
Keeper guided them to an inconspicuous underground bar.
Its location wasn’t very good, but its calm and chic interior somehow brought about the feeling of elegance and luxury. The lack of customers could possibly be attributed to the fact that it was still midday, but it was also probably because the prices of the alcohol and meals were much higher than average.
But, the biggest characteristic of this bar was the lack of the smell of garlic.
An elderly barkeeper with the calm atmosphere around him, raised his face at the sudden visitors and frowned after seeing Keeper.
“Having troubles, I see… You’ve sure made it big to have Death Knights accompany you, Keeper.”
“Kukuku… don’t scowl like that. I want information. And also, food without garlic. Garlic is enough as a weapon,
A tavern that doesn’t serve garlic, quietly standing in the town reeking of garlic.
Vampire hunters are cowards. Unlike the Death Knights, they won’t move openly.
Lufry opened his eyes wide at their exchange. It was a well-known fact that vampire hunters were moving in an organized fashion, but it was unexpected that they would be even at the town which the Order had absolutely no interest in.
“When did you arrive in this town?”
Keeper sat down and answered.
“Decades ago, Death Knight. We are everywhere.”
What a formidable information network. Lyfry reevaluated the personal network of vampire hunters after his exchange with Keeper.
Things wouldn’t go this way with the Order. It was a matter of different suitability.
The Order of Death Knights has authority, but at the same time it was also fair. The reason why vampire hunters haven’t disappeared until now, is probably because there are a certain number of people who don’t want to leave the enemy to third-party justice.
Vampire hunters take a huge sum when they hunt vampires. Their clients pay a lot of money to have vampire hunters take revenge. Unlike, when making a request to the Order, the client would not be regarded as a bystander.
As expected from having lived in this town for a long time, the barkeeper knew everything about it.
The fact that the castle of the Mirage King had collapsed because of the earthquake and that it had unveiled what lay beyond the dungeon. The fact that the Mayor had suddenly started to take countermeasures against vampires. And, the fact that undead had started to appear at the castle ruins and even the fact that the town had started to employ mercenaries to deal with them.
Neville, who heard about the situation, said as if spitting out,
“Sounds fishy… why go to such an extent and not contact the Order of Death Knights?”
“The current Mayor is a mediocre man. He has some greed and ambitions, but he has no talent to fulfill them.”
Lufry frowned at the barkeeper’s words.
Understanding what was happening needed an investigation, but this wasn’t a very good trend. These kinds of people usually had a feeling of aversion towards the Order of Death Knights. If that was all, it wouldn’t be a problem, but if the ‘Night Crystal’ was involved, it couldn’t be overlooked.
Keeper raised only his right eyebrow. There was the same unchanged darkness, reminiscent of emptiness in his eyes.
“Hmm… if we shake up the Mayor, he might spill something…”
“Wait, we should first ask him peacefully.”
There was no way of knowing what a Vampire Hunter would do. The reason why Neville didn’t look so interested was probably because he was thinking that Lufry was being lenient. Neville’s temperament was closer to that of a vampire hunter’s than that of a Death Knight.
In response to Lufry’s words, Keeper snorted and smiled.
“Lufry, looks like we are of the same opinion. Why don’t we cooperate and peacefully shake him up?”
Suddenly I heard the sound of the gears turning.
A metal door that can be seen high above. The wall in front of it is slowly moving. Looks like it was a wall with a mechanism. It’s absolutely a trap.
While enduring pain, I check on Senri, who’s as calm as usual.
Not like it matters, but Senri is overcoming a bit too many obstacles. She’s reliable but am I being selfish for thinking that I want to see her a little agitated too?
The speed at which the wall is moving isn’t that fast, but the ceiling is too high up. Even if I jump up now, I probably wouldn’t be able to pass through the gap. I shout at Mister Lazar and the others who should be above.
“Wait back at the town! We’ll be right back.”
“Okay, got i-“
The air trembles and the route to retreat is completely cut off. An almost complete darkness spreads around.
The first thing I could think about is not what’s deep in this underground palace, but rather, the route of retreat. I look up at the ceiling and calculate.
Can we get out? Usually it would be normal to look for a new exit. But I’m a monster that’s beyond human understanding.
I don’t know what will happen, but if I ignore the pain and forcefully use my power to transform into the big dog, I should be able to break the ceiling. If it’s just made from stone, I can tear it open with my claws.
No. Senri has Photon Delete inherited directly from Epeè. That terrifying force accompanied by the physical destructive power should be able to accurately shoot through just the door.
It’s fine. If it’s me, I can return Senri to the surface alive.
My eyes can see through everything even in an almost perfect darkness. I ask Senri.
“Senri, can you see?”
“Somehow… look, End.”
Looks like complete darkness isn’t a problem either. I can’t help wondering about what kind of training they used to create a knight like this.
Serni points at the Golem I killed. I don’t know what she’s pointing out, but as I drop my gaze down like I’m told, Serni says in a quiet voice,
“This Golem ―― is made from a mineral that sucks in blessing.”
“Eh?! Something like that exists?!”
Apparently, holy silver transmits blessing well. So it shouldn’t be surprising that a substance would exist that sucks it in, but it was completely unexpected.
“It’s a very rare mineral. Even what Necromancers… rarely have it. Look, this arrowhead too――”
They’re completely going in for the kill. I don’t know exactly what kind of power she has, but without blessing, Senri is just a beautiful kind girl.
But the arrow had no effect on me. My wounds have already healed too. The living and the dead. A Death Knight and a vampire. It seems impossible to take countermeasures for both of us at the same time.
Looks like… I have to properly concentrate and protect her. Senri said to me, who had just resolved myself on my own, with a serious expression.
“Also, this Golem… isn’t that old.”