I forgot about the pain as I ran through the night like a madman.
I had no destination in mind. My only thought was to put as much distance between us and the Keeper as possible.
I stopped once to patch Senri up. Her condition looked a bit more stable. She should not die as long as she was not poisoned or something else along those lines.
The aura of blessing around her never dimmed. Even as she was wrapped in a thick robe, the pain it inflicted upon me never lessened. However, I cannot stop.
I was running out of time. The brilliant moon already shone overhead. The day would break in just a few hours. Which means, I have to find a way to keep moving under the sunlight somehow.
Amongst the numerous weaknesses of vampires, sunlight is the worst.
Those dreadful vampires would never miss an opportunity to make use of it.
I ran past a peaceful meadow and was greeted by a huge, black mountain range.
I suppose it would be much easier to conceal ourselves in the mountains… we might even be able to find a cave to rest in. At this rate, if the sun happens to rise before Senri wakes up… I am done for. Not to mention, there are monsters out in the open.
However, that does not mean it would be completely safe in the mountains. There are monsters there too. Moreover, they are different from the monsters that inhabit meadows and the wilderness, in that they are intelligent. There are even ones that can comprehend human language and have established a kingdom.
Referred to as the King of Nature or King of the monsters is the being called the Demon King. They are antagonistic in nature towards humans and rule over a huge territory away from human towns with a number of monsters under their command.
Although the bad guys depicted in half the stories were necromancers and the undead, the other half depicted Demon Kings. They are dangerous beings that possess strength that man could only dream of and live by their own rules that clash with human principles.
There should not be a Demon King in the vicinity, but they do not concern themselves with the circumstances of man, so they could have expanded their territory. For all I know, there might even be a new Demon King.
I mulled over it as my legs moved forward. After a few seconds of deliberation, I changed my course towards the mountain.
If it came down to a fight, there are better chances of winning against monsters than vampire hunters. Above all, the mountains lush with trees could shield me from sunlight so I would be able to push my limits even after daybreak.
And there should also be no shortage of food. A fire in the mountains would probably attract less attention than it would in an open meadow.
I shall only think about surviving. And I shall choose the options that will increase my chances even a little. The night crystal lay safe in my pocket.
With the backdrop of the mountain at night, I dashed up the gentle slope without a clear path. The branches that snapped as I made my way up the mountain did not harm me in any way.
I followed the scent of water. I barely came across monsters. A few passed by, but they did not try to attack me.
Perhaps their animal instincts had made them realize the difference in strength. I suppose the risk of having to fight me outweighed the temptation of devouring an unconscious Senri. It is almost next to impossible for them to defeat me, whose physical abilities are almost on par with a vampire without resorting to exploiting my weaknesses like the vampire hunters.
I jumped over the bushes and simply ran across the rough path passing monsters when Senri’s eyes fluttered open.
Weak, purple eyes looked into mine.
“Thank… goodness… really!”
I would like her to take down her aura of blessing but I do not think she is capable of doing so right now. There is also the possibility that it is healing her wounds.
Well… I guess it is fine. I can still bear with it. I held onto her more securely and further picked up my pace.
In the end, I came to a stop near a brook.
The sun will rise any moment. I could not keep running forever.
I gently lowered Senri and she stood on her own two feet even as she staggered. I stopped hurting immediately, which brought me relief.
“How long… was I out?”
“It’s not daybreak yet.”
Senri touched her head and rolled up her clothes to reveal her abdomen. Her pale skin looked captivating, illuminated in the moonlight.
The wound inflicted by Albertus was barely visible. The blood had also been completely wiped off.
She checked her abdomen and uttered dumbfounded.
“…These aren’t the clothes I was wearing before.”
“I changed them. I thought I wouldn’t be able to control myself if I carried you with your clothes soaked with blood. I didn’t touch your underclothes though.”
“… Why… am I healed?”
Senri’s wounds were deep. I have no idea how she was attacked but it was not the kind of wound that could stop bleeding just because I wrapped them up tightly. Same goes for the wound on her head. I had no other choice.
I tried to sound calm as I answered her.
“… I licked them. And it wasn’t because I couldn’t control myself.”
“I mean, the bite marks I make on you heal right away after I stop drinking, don’t they? So, I thought maybe a vampire’s saliva had healing powers… moreover, I thought it was a waste of blood too… but it was more for your sake.”
If I were to be questioned if the experience was arousing, then it was, yes.
Stripping of her clothes and running my tongue along her body and wounds were very pleasurable and a bit arousing. But I ultimately did it for Senri’s sake. Also, I felt my power increasing even if not as much as when I actually feed on her. I was killing two birds with one stone.
Just as I had expected, the wound on her abdomen closed up right away. I doubt the blood she spilled was restored, so she needed complete rest, but her life did not hang by a thread now.
“Of course, I washed it off with water after. The magic I learned came to be of help so soon.”
“I didn’t sink my fangs into you. Although I did plan to… if licking didn’t work.”
The longer I explained the more I felt I was digging myself deeper into a hole.
Senri had been looking at me reproachfully for a while, after which she sighed a little and fixed her clothes. Her pale skin disappeared from view.
“Thanks, End… you saved me.”
“No no, I should be the one thanking you. Tell me anytime you need me… although, it’s best if you never do.”
The blood was delicious. I was told that my thirst cannot be satiated by drinking preserved blood or blood from corpses, but that does not seem to be the case with drinking blood as soon as it was shed.
Making use of the high mana, I forcefully wielded non-elemental magic.
Although it had only been a few days since I started learning magic, I was growing accustomed to it. I probably possess a whole lot more mana than the common man, so I can practice for a lot longer. If I keep up with this pace, it should help me greatly with day-to-day life.
The fire crackled, sending sparks flying and I made use of that to set fire to a leaf. The wind carried the smoke away.
Senri’s words came out in a whisper. Her small fist was clenched tightly.
“I was too careless. That Albertus, is a cursed being.”
“Something like a subspecies of vampires. Although they aren’t as strong, they gain power in exchange for something, which makes them dreadful.”
Well, that would explain how she was able to pick up and fling the table using one hand. She was pretty small and her arms were rather thin. It did not look like she had any muscles.
I see, her power certainly somewhat resembles mine. My body may be a little more rugged but it still did not look strong enough to lift up a table with just one hand.
I have no idea what the compensation was, but I am sure she is not a vampire considering she hunts them down along with the Keeper.
And circumstances aside, there is no changing the fact that she heavily injured Senri.
“All I could do… was run. How shameful.”
“Don’t blame yourself too much. Death Knights specialize in hunting down beings of darkness.”
I said comfortingly as Senri looked at me sullenly. She stroked her neck.
“…End, it was all because you drank too much blood. I couldn’t gather my strength.”
“?! But you gave me your permission. You told me the situation was concerning so I could drink a bit more than usual.”
“You still drank too much. I asked you to stop… but you didn’t until after a while.”
Senri looked at me reproachfully.
I was allowed to feed from her neck after a long time. I have never had alcohol, but that must be how it feels to be intoxicated.
I had no luxury to revel in the pleasure when I was body-less, but the situation was completely different this time. It was incredibly satiating and pleasurable, and although she is criticizing me now, it seemed like she was trembling with pleasure back then.
She never asked me to stop… but she did say “st…”.
I did actually stop halfway, so please forgive me. I want to do it again.
“I won’t… lose next time. As long as you don’t drink too much of my blood, I can win.”
The thought did cross my mind during our training sessions, but it seems like Senri hates to lose.
I pulled out the small night crystal from my pocket and showed it to Senri.
“That opportunity won’t come for a while… I got the ‘Night crystal’. All we need to do is hide somewhere.”
“… I see. Even so, we need to pick a suitable place to lay low. I’m sure they are using a tracking spell that doesn’t rely on tracing negative energy.”
That begs the question. How did they manage to track us down?
Of course, I did not think we had successfully hidden our identities. Me aside, Senri’s looks are too unique and if they whittle down the list to those that arrived at night, finding us should not be too impossible.
I held doubts. And fears. However, I cannot spend too much time deliberating.
Senri needs to recover as soon as possible. And we cannot afford to live in the mountains forever either.
I relayed my suggestion to Senri with a serious look on my face.
“I am thinking of reaching out to my family… from my previous life.”