“Kukuku… how stupid. How stupid of them, Alber. That they would fall for such an obvious trap.”
“The weakness of the Order of Death Knights is their nobility. They are… strong against the enemies, but too soft on their allies.”
It’s beyond help, Keeper laughed. Alber, walking next to Keeper who was using a cane, didn’t reply.
The Sun had set and the sky was wrapped in a dim light.
The undead became active at night. Even if neither of them would turn into ashes the moment they were exposed to the sunlight like vampires, the gap between their abilities during the day and night was quite large for the most demonic beings.
The werewolf that appeared during the day. His words and the actions were clearly a trap.
To start with, he had no intentions of even hiding it when he ran away without attacking properly. It was too obvious.
Now that ‘Lycus’, the source of the curse that could create werewolves, was dead, demonic beings such as werewolves became rather rare. The fact that somebody is using him means that whoever’s backing him up is quite powerful.
But Lufry’s group didn’t chase after him. On the contrary, they even gave up on Night Crystal and switched over to dealing with the Death Knight teaming up with the vampire that the werewolf spoke about.
Everything went as the enemy wanted. Furthermore, they were acting while aware of this so they were even more ill-natured.
Next, Keeper remembered the young man he had fought once and laughed.
“Kukukukuku… being the enemy of humanity… must be truly hard, End Formet. To think that you would be treated as a nuisance even by your kin.”
“… I’ll kill him.”
There weren’t many Death Knight who would team up with vampires. Alber, who had her curse stolen, spat in a subdued voice at Kainushi which was laughing with his eyes narrowed.
Keeper didn’t know why End would be at a place like this, but he was almost sure that he had most likely followed the Night Crystal. What a strange coincidence it was.
End was strong. The common strategy up to now wouldn’t work on a vampire with a human rationale. In addition, that young man was still ―― immature. Now that some time had passed since then, he must’ve gotten even stronger.
Senri Silvis was ―― outstanding. She was already a bad matchup for Keeper from his perspective, but Keeper, who had killed all sorts of demonic beings until now, could only slow her down after using every possible means. And with regards to her spirit too, watching over a vampire, who emitted the negative aura that’s the exact opposite of the blessing, from up close would be impossible without a tough force of will.
But, no matter how much of a powerful pair they were, they were still only two. They had too many enemies.
“Looks like things are going to get busy.”
“I’ll kill him!”
The many Demon Kings are looking for powerful underlings. That werewolf is a groundwork for capturing End. It must be unbearable for a vampire with a human mind.
While Keeper couldn’t help him, he could at least sympathize with him.
Alber frowned and looked up at Keeper.
“Leno, let’s go too.”
“… I’d like to do that too, but… he’s not the target of our current job.”
“Leave the mutually destructive battles to those who want to do it. After all… we are humans.”
Alber frowned as if dissatisfied, but she didn’t say anything more, silently following Keeper.
By some providence, after having the curse stolen, the fighting power of Keeper’s group had greatly decreased.
Alber’s grudge against the vampires hadn’t diminished and she was also training anew, but an ordinary human wouldn’t be able to manifest combat abilities she had before.
In that case, all they could do was use their wits.
After leisurely walking through the town, they reached the town hall that they had visited during the day.
The Sun had already set but the number of the guards in front of the gate hadn’t decreased. Keeper sighed slightly at the scenery that looked exactly like it was investigated.
“As I thought… they are hiding something.”
Dessend wasn’t that big of a town and the Mayor hadn’t incurred as many grudges from the surroundings. He shouldn’t have a reason to keep the guards stationed day and night.
And yet, he has lookouts, as if he’s afraid of something.
Keeper’s experienced intuition was whispering to him that something was up with the Mayor.
It was a heavy blow that Lufry’s group had infiltrated the castle. It was the woe of the employees that they couldn’t stop their employer’s actions, no matter how ridiculous they were.
If that werewolf hadn’t come to lead them, Lufry’s group wouldn’t think about infiltrating the suspicious castle just with the two of them. They would’ve been waiting for the reinforcement.
How truly―― annoying.
They turned around near the town hall, careful to not get noticed.
The guards were standing, but they didn’t seem very motivated. This must’ve been a peaceful town.
The last incident that happened was the wall of the castle collapsing because of the earthquake and nothing had happened after that.
―― On the surface, at least.
Keeper tapped on the wall with his cane and laughed joyfully.
“Well then, let’s go and give a secret greeting… to the Mayor.”
They had been paying attention the whole time. The Death Knights made plans, but vampire hunters went beyond that.
Humans, who held grudges towards the undead and didn’t like the Order of Death Knights, the allies of the justice, were all the allies of Keeper’s kind.
And people like that were definitely a lot more than the Order of Death Knights thought.
Information gathering had started from the time when the Night crystal had secretly started to circulate.
Dessend was the town that once fought against the King of the Dead. It wasn’t a coincidence that they had cooperator here,
They climbed over the wall, soundlessly broke the window and carefully infiltrated the town hall.
They trespassed into the dimly illuminated corridor. There was nobody inside the town hall building.
The quiet town hall was half-heartedly clean and well-furnished, making it look very eerie.
“Alber, can you recognize the smell?”
Alber, who was crawling at Keeper’s feet and was bringing her nose close, frowned and shook her head.
“It smells like the dead… but, I can’t tell.”
Alber’s abilities had declined after losing her curse.
Her physical abilities and the sense of smell had been trained during the long period of being cursed, making them more powerful than an ordinary human, but it was incomparable to the time when she could transform into a dog.
Keeper shrugged and took out the blueprint of the mansion from his chest pocket.
There were various suspicious points in this town.
A big earthquake which is said to have collapsed a part of the old caste.
The fact that they suddenly started to take countermeasures against vampires to an abnormal degree. The fact that they started to hire mercenaries from outside in order to defeat the appearing undead.
And ―― the fact that Dessend remained silent even when those mercenaries did not return alive.
Mercenaries are generally wanderers. Even if mercenaries, who wander around in search of work, suddenly disappear, not many people will find it suspicious.
But the story changes if scrutinized.
According to the investigation of the collaborator, there have been more than 10 teams that arrived at Dessend and were hired to exterminate the undead.
Some teams might’ve not been able to complete the commission. However, they must have had something like a premonition.
Just where had the mercenaries that disappeared without a track gone to?
Keeper was careful to not make any footsteps and advanced forward.
The undead are powerful. In addition to their high immortality, there are those with far superior intelligence among the undead who have evolved continuously.
But even such undead have a hard time fully assimilating into human villages. There’s a limit to how much they can act unnoticed, without making anybody feel uneasy.
In the human town, you have to abide by the human principles. Keeper was a professional. He knew where to look.
Keeper had a copy of the diagram that was used several years ago when the town hall was renovated. The contractor that had done the renovation was already gone, but the map cooperator had obtained at that time clearly had the writing about the newly built basement.
“Why do they like lurking underground?… Is it their homing instinct toward the underworld?”
Vampires prefer coffins. Other undead don’t enter the coffins, but they often lurk in damp basements where the light doesn’t reach.
There were ordinary citizens in the town hall during the day, but there seemed to be nobody here at night.
However, the Mayor hadn’t come outside. He should’ve still been inside.
The Mayor was undoubtedly a human. That meant that there was somebody pulling his strings.
Whatever their identity was ―― it was anything but a vampire. And that person was afraid of the invasion of vampires.
Today they had infiltrated for the sake of gathering information. Now that Lufry and Neville, the Death Knights, had arrived, the Mayor should’ve taken some kind of action.
Although, it wasn’t very likely that the city hall itself had fallen in the hands of the enemy. Things were being carried out very carefully ―― quietly enough so that the Order of Death Knights wouldn’t realize anything.
There was probably no necessity to rummage each room. While wary of the surroundings, Keeper headed for the underground room that was created during the renovation.
Then, he stopped mid-way.
“It’s the smell… of blood.”
Alber drew the silver dagger at her waist and held it at the ready. Keeper frowned and said,
“… We were too late. They sure move fast… I guess the stimulation was too strong.”
Keeper didn’t have the ability to detect negative energy like the Death Knights. But he had the experience that he had accumulated until now.
He proceeded further. He unhesitatingly descended down the stairs to the basement that had appeared. Freezing cold wind stoke his cheeks but he didn’t stop.
Already ―― gone. The remains of the presence was still here. They were certainly here until just a while ago, but they had disappeared.
They were one step too late. Was this a fortune or misfortune?
Room in the basement. Lumps of flesh were scattered in a pool of blood.
A minimalistic room underground. Pieces of flesh were sticking to the wall. Did he explode from the inside? It was most likely combat magic. Such marks couldn’t be left without a considerable force.
Alber started scouring the room without even batting an eye.
A piece of cloth had sunk in the pool of blood ―― Keeper picked it up with his fingers and frowned.
He shouldn’t have brought the Death Knights, the natural enemies of the dark beings, at the time of their first discussion.
Keeper would do anything to corner the dark beings, but it was better for people to live instead of dying.
Dead men tell no tales. He would have to use forbidden magic if he wanted to make the dead man spill anything.