Death Knights have transcended humanity.
Purification with blessing is a deadly weakness for the undead, who surpass humans in all areas. However, even without that, Death Knights, who contain an extraordinary amount of blessing, which is life energy itself, are much more powerful than ordinary humans,
Then, what about vampire hunters?
Unlike Death Knights, vampire hunters don’t have any unusual powers.
They would undoubtedly have become Death Knights if they had the talent to control blessing. Thus, most vampire hunters are ordinary humans compared to Death Knights.
However, that doesn’t mean they cannot fight against humans as well.
The driving force of vampire hunters is fanaticism. They need madness to hunt a monster as a human and they need diligent training as well as good luck to survive.
For the Order of Death Knights, humans are meant to be protected. But for vampire hunters, humans are simply opponents that are easier to deal with than monsters they usually fight.
“We, vampire hunters, are avengers sent on behalf of the poor powerless victims. Of course, I cannot deny that there are some who take it as a hobby and business, though.”
A room in the town hall. Keeper said, straddling the unconscious guards. In contrast to his joyful tune, his eyes were clouded.
Being stared at by his eyes reminiscent of the abyss, the Mayor of Dessend, who was sitting on the floor, slid back.
He was an old man with a good physique. One’s appearance and their abilities aren’t necessarily connected, but just like the collaborator from the bar had said, the Mayor didn’t look like the sharpest tool in the shed.
There was nothing special about the skills of the guards that were protecting the Mayor either.
If the information given by their collaborator was true, there was no doubt that the Mayor knew something. But, he was way too poorly guarded.
Neville, who was carefully observing him with narrowed eyes until now, admonished Keeper.
“Keeper, I’m sure we said to go in peacefully.”
“That is exactly right, Sir Death Knight. I hold no grudge against this person.”
The eyebrows of the Mayor, who couldn’t even stand out of fear, twitched. Keeper leaned over to his side and met his gaze.
Keeper was tall and lean. Even when he bent over, he still ended up looking down on the small statured Mayor.
Mayor looked up at the quiet eyes that were directed at him and shouted while trembling.
“W-what is it!?”
“That’s why, this isn’t due to my feelings. It’s just my clients, who hold strong grudges against vampires that it scorches their souls. They are the ones who want this. So, don’t resent me.”
The cane Keeper held in his right hand fell to the ground. Boney fingers wrapped in leather gloves grabbed the Mayor’s neck.
Keeper stood up while holding his neck. He squeezed his trachea and the Mayor let out a crushed voice like that of a frog.
Keeper had terrific power. A lean man lifting a large adult with a single hand was beyond the power of a human being.
Lufry gasped and the beast-like girl stared at him attentively.
“Kukuku… you see, what my clients desire is not to uphold justice. They want me to take as much time as possible and inflict as much suffering as possible! To kill vampires and those who side with them! I’m getting paid for that!”
Lufry grabbed his arm. Keeper slightly lowered his voice. But there was no change in the light shining in his eyes.
“But I’m never able to sufficiently fulfill that request. After all, unlike Death Knights, if a human like me gives them leeway even for a second, I’ll end up killed. That’s why, Mayor, when I’m against humans… I’m balancing the accounts.”
The Mayor scratched the hand that was holding his neck, but the hand with the vice-like grip did not even budge. Keeper’s whispering voice entered the ears of the Mayor, who opened his eyes wide.
“Spit it out. As slowly as possible if you like. I wouldn’t mind if you want to die suffering. It pains my heart, a lot in fact, but… that’s right. My dear clients will surely be very satisfied.”
“You overdid it, Keeper.”
“Kukuku… I wonder? I thought you all were my seniors in… cornering the undead by any means.”
The expert vampire hunter laughed at Lufry, who was rebuking him. However, dwelling behind his seemingly calm was true madness.
Keeper was serious through and through. They had come to hear the Mayor out but Keeper was fine with killing him. Although he knew the possibility of the Mayor just being the victim, he didn’t loosen his hand at all.
Madness that turns vampire hunters into what they are. That was a human that had become a monster in order to hunt other monsters.
If necessary, the man in front of them would attack without hesitation even if it was against Death Knights.
Neville scowled and said as if spitting out.
“Don’t lump us together with you! We only use all our means when the opponent is not human.”
The Order of Death Knights would never abandon humans without a good reason.
Among cunning vampires and high-ranking undead, there were those who would hide their identities and use humans as pawns.
Death Knights would kill those who stood in their ways without hesitation, but they would save those who they could save. Death Knights would never kill humans for the sake of killing them.
Keeper frowned at Neville’s words and nodded seriously.
“That’s… to be expected. If the Order ended up like us, we’d go bankrupt.”
“We’ve achieved our goal. The Mayor is alive. What’s the problem?”
Alber, who had been silent until now, raised a frosty voice at Neville, who clicked his tongue.
Her adult-like tone, unsuited for her age, harbored dark emotions just like Keeper.
Lufry looked at the town hall they had just exited.
Perhaps because he was frightened by Keeper’s words or because he was smart enough to feel the seriousness in Keeper’s voice, the Mayor easily gave up the information before undergoing any proper torture.
Lufry sighed while ruminating about the scene of the interrogation.
“The basement of the castle, huh… it was the mistake of the old Order.”
It had always been a known fact that the King of the Dead had an ace up his sleeve.
The reason why they didn’t destroy the castle was probably partly because they wanted to effectively use the building, but also because the Order of Death Knights from that time couldn’t afford to spare that much resources.
It was still fine in the present age, but Lufry had heard that in the past, there were a lot of Necromancers. That the Order’s side wasn’t as dominant as it is now.
During the interrogation, Lufry and the rest were only watching from behind, but the Mayor’s expression didn’t look like somebody who was lying.
However, they couldn’t get all the information out of him.
They found out that there was a Night Crystal in the basement. But the flow of the conversation was accompanied by an indescribable sense of incongruity.
For example, they didn’t get a completely satisfying answer to the question about why they didn’t call for the Order. Not all humans think logically, but hiring mercenaries as a stopgap measure was a foolish decision, no matter how one thought about it.
And, Keeper, who took extremely drastic measures, did not strongly pursue the matter.
Keeper was looking at the air with hazy eyes, but he suddenly turned towards Lufry and asked.
“Well then, what are we going to do now?”
Keeper was on the hired side this time. Vampire hunters generally don’t move unless they take a request.
It must be some kind of stopper for them, who use their hatred for vampires and their madness as weapons.
“Call for reinforcement.”
Keeper furrowed his eyebrows at the young knight’s swift decision.
“Kukuku… not a bad move. So you’re scared.”
“Either praise me or insult me, choose one! I don’t intend to die but if I die before sending information to headquarters, everything will be over.”
He would destroy them at any cost. Neville’s eyes were blazing with fighting spirit, but his words were very calm.
The Order of Death Knights had gradually refined its tactics over the course of the long battle against the undead. Its members were all weathered warriors, but that wasn’t enough to beat undead who had no set life span.
It was the castle of the former King of the Dead. Its basement was undoubtedly a death trap. In that case, they should challenge it to a battle with the same determination of turning it into an empty plot of land, like when they killed the Demon King in the past.
“Or what? Do you have a better idea as a vampire hunter?”
“Kuku… I obey… my clients. As long as I can get paid.”
Keeper slightly shrugged at Lufry’s straightforward question.
“Besides… I went out of my way to give the Mayor some time. I must have him dance or…”
There, Alber vigorously raised her face.
She looked in one direction with a beastly gaze.
Under the strong sunlight, on the other side of her gaze was a man that looked like a merchant.
He was wearing a turban made for a long journey and a cloak. However, if one observed him for a little bit, they would be able to see that his eyes were too sharp to belong to a merchant.
Lufry narrowed his eyes. The man exhaled violently, letting out a trembling voice.
“How easygoing. It’s because, of your f-f-friends, that I’m having, so much trouble.”
“… What… do you mean?”
The man didn’t answer Rufry’s question.
Instead of answering, the man’s body trembled.
His body that swelled up from the inside, tore the traveling clothes made from the durable cloth. His bone structure changed, bristles grew on his body in an instant and his mouth tore to his cheeks.
His limbs swelled, ears appeared on him and his fiery tongue licked his fangs.
By that time, Lufry’s group had already assumed a fighting position and Keeper had moved to the back.
“A werewolf… in the middle of town like this?”
Werewolves. They are the underlings of the vampires and demonic beings, who are sometimes even more troublesome to deal with than vampires themselves.
They aren’t undead, therefore it’s hard to detect them, they don’t have any deadly weaknesses and can also move freely even during mornings. However, ever since Ancestor Lycus, who possessed the ability to create them, perished, their numbers had gradually decreased.
The passersby who noticed the appearance of the monster screamed.
The Werewolf told Lufry’s group, who faced him with swords and maces in their hands, without attacking.
“S-s-since when, have Death Knights started to team up with v-vampires?”
The Werewolf kicked the ground with all his might. Not to attack Lufry’s group. But to run away.
His physical abilities were enhanced after transforming. It surpassed that of even beasts. They hurriedly chased after the werewolf, who had turned his back, but even the second-class knights would have trouble killing a werewolf intent on running away without any prior preparation.
The werewolf disappeared in the blink of an eye, not even paying attention to the many prey around him. Glaring at his direction, Neville said with a trembling voice.
“A Death Knight with a vampire, you say!?”