The world is vast. The sky is high, with nothing to obstruct the view until the horizon. The scene struck a chord within me, who had led the better part of his life stuck in one place.
Since the body of a dog is small, even running around a small distance is a great adventure. If I were to enter a field with tall grass, I would disappear from the view of others and my own view would be obstructed as well.
However, my sense of smell is great. Though my senses were enhanced upon becoming a lesser vampire, it was still nothing compared to after I transformed into a dog.
According to the Keeper, Albertus had apparently run us down from hundreds of kilometers away by scent. Sad to say, my olfactory senses are not as strong, but I can track down Senri at the very least.
In my spare time, I tested my strength.
The body of a dog is much more convenient than I imagined. I felt cheated that I did not gain any combat abilities like Albertus, but it is great that people are not on guard around me. Although, it is rather sad that I am loved more as a dog than when I was human.
There are a few things I discovered about a dog’s body.
The exemplary sense of smell. Combat abilities were non-existent. Magic could not be wielded while in the dog form. Vampire’s weaknesses were passed down as well. Onion and chocolate could not be ingested.
Apparently, the dog curse and the vampire curse seem to work on different levels.
The transformation into a dog was done utilizing the power of the vampire but the transformation itself was not the ability of a vampire. You may think it meaningless, but it is in fact very important.
That is right. I… can sustain my dog form on water.
Vampires actually lose all their abilities on water. Even if they try to cross a body of water in the form of a bat or wolf, the transformation would be undone. However, that does not happen to me.
Since the dog curse is separate from the vampire curse, even approaching the surface of water does not undo my transformation.
We discovered it when Senri and I made a careless mistake.
Tucked away in the carry case, we did not think before trying to enter a town that had taken countermeasures against vampires. If my transformation had been undone, the result would have been catastrophic.
Since the weaknesses themselves do not change, it does weaken me to the point where I can’t even take a step, but there is an important difference.
In other words, as long as I am in a carry case, I could even travel on a ship. Of course that is based on the assumption that Senri would help.
Senri mentioned that it would not have been too strange for the Lord to have become a first-class necromancer much earlier.
it was likely that the lord prepared for an attack and so, postponed becoming an undead.
All in order to create an undead with the ability of Curse Steal. To be more specific, it must have been his dream to take over that undead’s body and become the greatest King of the Undead ever.
The ability Curse Steal that I possess, has long years of research behind it.
Horus Carmon is dead. Though a vestige of him remains in me, he was not able to see his dream come true.
I suppose putting that power to good use is all I can offer the Lord, who is a mage at his core.
Senri returned after ending her shift of keeping watch. Holding the big ornamental box given to me by one of the merchants, wagging my tail, I greeted my master.
The blood of children is fresh. Although the taste differs from person to person, depending on their health, sex and age, everyone generally emits a very delicious scent.
Still, there is no match for Senri.
I ran around Senri to make sure she was not hurt. Had she been hurt, her scent would give it away. Seems like she was able to end today’s shift unscathed.
Senri leaned over, took a look at my spoils of war in the box and sighed heavily.
“… Baron, you got so many gifts again… you really have what it takes to be a dog.”
The box contained coins and different kinds of jewelry.
The travelling merchants are mostly wealthy. There are even ones that deal in precious gems among them.
When I take the box to them, they all look amazed and put all sorts of things in it. If I were to spot something I like, I would put my paw on it and they mostly end up giving it to me.
Though the coins were mostly copper ones, there were a lot of silver and gold ones in the mix too. We do not really need money since the money I got from father was still left over, but they certainly made a good audience.
“They need to be returned again.”
“Didn’t I tell you not to do this? Where’s your pride?”
Even though she never succeeds, she always tries to return my spoils of war. I may be a cute dog, but Senri is a pretty girl too. She has not realized that the dog that asks for money and the master who tries to return it have become a sort of spectacle within the group.
I am only trying to make the best of my circumstances. I know no pride. They give me snacks and money. No one tries to be careful around a dog, so even gathering information is easy. The only other thing I need is blood, which I get from Senri. I felt satisfied. And if Epée had not existed in this world, my life would be perfect.
The children of the merchants were all brilliant.
Well-kempt hair and clean clothes. Their eyes shone as if they believed only good things existed in the world, and every night when we paused our journey, they would huddle around the bonfire and learn things from their parents.
Knowledge is power to a merchant. At that moment, everyone was serious, such that I was first shooed away when I approached them, but once I learned to stay quiet during their classes, I was allowed to curl up near them and listen in on their conversation.
I heard stories about travel, history, towns and even recalled maths that I had forgotten.
There were families of mercenaries in the group too. Their children were completely different, in that most of them had this sharp look in their eyes, and I had a hard time getting them to warm up to me.
However, children are just that, children. They were all putty in my hands once they grew close to me.
I observed how the mercenaries trained with weapons, went together with them on their rounds, learned how to set traps, conceal one’s aura and methods of tracking.
Senri was overwhelmingly superior in terms of pure combat skills, and ways of concealing aura or tracking come easy to a vampire, but it was very fun to gain more knowledge. Not to mention, I might have to face off against mercenaries in the future. It would be best to learn more about their methods.
Sadly enough, I was not able to see people train their magic.
There were a few mages in the group, but they were all masters of their craft, so they could mostly be found reading a book and not doing any training.
Mages were scarce and their skills were a mystery.
Grimoires only contain the basic principles, so I guess they are not foolish enough to expose their skills among strangers. They might also want to avoid exhausting their mana and becoming unable to fight should the situation arise.
The surrounding scenery changed as the group pressed forward.
From grasslands to wastelands. Monsters that appeared ranged from beasts a bit stronger than ordinary animals, magical beasts that shared more than one animal trait, goblins, orcs and even humanoid monsters. It was proof that we were nearing human settlements.
Strong monsters serve under the Demon King. Hence, in the vicinity of the domain of the Demon King, monsters that are too strong for ordinary humans to defeat appear.
The group of merchants are nothing but delicious bait in the eyes of intelligent monsters. They would be able to get their hands on abundant food supplies, weapons, armor and even all kinds of jewelry. There are humanoid monsters that even target the horses.
Since the merchants are well aware of the threats and prepare the best defense possible, they cannot get taken down easily.
Among the battles that yielded multiple casualties, Senri, who was overwhelmingly powerful with equally strong recovery, earned the nickname of Goddess of Victory at some point, meanwhile I went around providing comfort and solace for everyone.
And so, we earned the name, “Goddess of Victory and her White Dog”.
☠ ☠ ☠
Under a thick tent, I was in my human form for the first time in a while. I threw on a dark cloak for appearances sake to cover my body.
It is absolutely vital for vampires to ingest blood. Though I was growing accustomed to the body of a dog, I need to turn back into a human when it is time to feed.
I cannot use my vampiric powers in the dog form. And that includes feeding.
Usually Senri simply goes to sleep with her cloak wrapped around her. Though that is how most of the soldiers spent their nights, Senri borrowed a largish tent in exchange for some money only when it was time for me to feed.
Because I cannot have someone see me in my human form and we cannot possibly go someplace away from prying eyes.
“… End, you’re a little too relaxed.”
It had been a long time since I was in my human form. Senri looked at me reproachfully as she uttered the words that I had recently grown tired of hearing.
“I’m the type to revel in the present. Moreover, it has helped gather information too.”
“…You certainly seemed to be having a lot of fun. You can’t afford to stand out too much.”
Well, it is true that I had a lot of fun. I have forgotten how long it has been since I played hide-and-seek or raced around.
“My bad. But it’s not like I’m the only white dog around, I won’t be exposed.”
Well, they might find it weird that I stayed inside the carry case all day, but the group travels all throughout the day.
No one has the time to pay me any mind.
Since I had been in my dog form for a while, seeing Senri look smaller than me felt new. I shrugged as I replied.
“Everyone treats me well. I wag my tail to return the favor.”
Senri looked into my eyes for a minute and soon sighed heavily.
“… Haa, we have no idea what the curse could do. So be mindful of that,”
“It’d be great if I could tag along with you on your shift. Looks like we are coming across stronger monsters recently.”
“There are other mercenaries with me, so don’t worry.”
I crawled over to Senri and took hold of her wrist in my hands. The sweet smell of blood made my head spin.
Her wrist in my palm. I traced a line along the soft skin.
A slender arm so dainty that makes it hard to believe that she could exhibit power rivalling mine. Only thing that pains me is that I cannot strip off her clothes.
Senri stayed silent, but after catching my eye, she tilted her head a little defeated, exposing her pale neck.
It cannot be helped, so I convinced myself.
Epée is terrifyingly strong. In order to be able to stand my ground against him, I need to grow stronger as quickly as possible.
The spot where you feed is important. Depending on whether you feed from the finger or neck, even if the same amount of blood is ingested, there is a discernible difference in the amount of power gained.
There is a limit to how much blood Senri can produce. As it is, there are not many opportunities to feed, so no other spot than the neck is optimal.
“End… you have forgotten restraint.”
“That’s… just proof that we trust each other.”
I grabbed her limp arm and pinned her down over a thin blanket.
Her soft, warm body beneath me, she obediently waited to be fed upon. That was enough to make the heat rise to my head and my heart to throb.
She had undone her armor of blessing. I touched my lips under her ear and traced a path along her neck.
My fangs ached. Touching my nose to her neck, the sweet smell of her blood flowing under all the skin and muscle sent jolts through me.
Ahh, I have not even fed and yet, it already feels so good.
Her naked neck. As I paused, entranced by her shining pale skin and scent, Senri stirred.
“Nng… End… quick, finish.”
“Well, what’s the rush? The night is long. Doing this… makes your scent sweeter.”
Though I was yet to bite down, her pale skin grew hotter. Senri let out a stifled breath and trembled.
Sweet. Not just her blood, but her skin, her body and everything about her was of the finest quality. Senri would make an exquisite meal to not just a vampire but also a ghoul.
The positive energy residing in her, made her chaste and healthy. If I were to compare her to a fruit, it would be a waxed, shiny apple.
The sweet smell intensifies. It meant that she was overwhelmed by pleasure that even someone as logical as her cannot suppress through reason.
Her pinned down arms trembled as if to fight it. I held back, careful so as to not ruin the mood.
Senri, who always easily suppresses me, has now become a helpless prey. Seeing her like that, aroused me greatly and felt empowering.
Not yet. I will only partake a little of her blood. It felt such a shame to end this scarce opportunity too quickly.
I ran my tongue along her neck, discerning the vein underneath. I painstakingly analyzed where to pierce my fangs.
It was a very difficult choice.
“Haa… haa.. quickly, End. Finish quickly, it feels weird.”
“Hmm… what do you mean Senri, it’s always been weird.”
Ahh, her clothes are getting in the way. I feel like I am eating a fruit without peeling off its skin. It felt too discourteous and blasphemous.
A ball of sweat pops up. I lapped it up as I spoke to a feverish Senri.
Senri is always sharp but there are times she is unguarded. That part of her is what the other knights must have been concerned about.
Maybe this only felt to Senri as if she was giving me a meal, but the act was closer to a sexual union.
Vampires do not differentiate between the two.
“As far as I know, the mercenaries borrow the tent… only when they spend the night with a lover.”
Her arms that were pinned down, spring up and away. The sweet smell grew stronger for a second and her slightly flushed skin turned beet red.
Did she not realize it? The curious gaze of the merchant who lent her the tent.
“End, no, we’re done! You can feed from my finger.”
This is too much, after letting me have my way, you cannot torture me like this.
I ignored her protests and continued to explore her veins with my tongue.
“Don’t worry, if they ask you anything, just deny it. Either way, we need the tent when you give me blood. I’m looking for the best place to feed, please wait just a bit longer.”
Her scent felt incomparably sweeter than earlier. It was clear that her being flustered or angry, or just any kind of stimulation was making her scent stronger.
Be it the act of feeding not being accompanied by pain or it bringing sexual pleasure, vampires are truly well designed.
Senri struggled making the tent rock heavily. I was going to take it slow, but I suppose it is the right time. I cannot bear the ache in my fangs any longer either.
Logically speaking, it did not matter where I fed. Since, her blood is going to taste the best anywhere.
Just when I decided on a spot and was about to pierce my fangs, like you would take a knife to a steak, a sudden piercing shriek was heard from outside the tent.