If Senri had one shortcoming, it would be the fact that she had never fought alongside others much weaker than herself.
The Death Knights typically move in units led by a first class knight.
Until now, Senri had fought beings of darkness with people who were Death Knights much like herself and needless to say, relied on her Master Epée’s strength. She had reliable seniors like Lufry and Neville (even if they were not as strong as Senri), who are capable of wielding the power of blessing at will and are strong warriors in both body and mind.
The next one to fight alongside her had been End.
End had been an invalid originally and hence had no experience in combat nor did he possess any knowledge pertaining to the field. That said, as an undead, he possessed the finest attributes combined with a strong will.
Though Senri gets a little frustrated with his occasional carefree attitude, End’s circumstances are not something that could be overcome with a weak will.
Revived by an evil necromancer, he kept his memories even while under another’s control, never uttered a word of complaint after being subject to solar penalty by the Death Knights, not to mention, pushed his limits to endure the bloodlust of a vampire which could drive anybody insane.
His victory against Albertus is also rather commendable.
Albertus was mighty strong even by Senri’s standards and the former also had experience hunting down undead.
Even if he had been reborn as an Ancestor, Albertus was still not an opponent a mere lesser vampire could defeat.
He is still lacking on-field experience, but once he gains enough of it, End will probably go through metamorphosis. Senri might find herself way in over her head before too long.
Compared to them, the mercenaries currently under Senri’s command were simply too weak.
They probably do go through combat training. And they are also not complete amateurs. They should be able to hold their own against monsters to a certain extent. Even so, they were still not strong enough to fend off beings of darkness.
Senri came to realize that when she trusted them to take care of the herd of monsters led by the demon while she took off after said demon that pranced through the night sky.
Senri and her team had the upper hand until halfway through the fight. The female demon was rather strong but in a one-on-one fight, there was no way Senri would lose.
As demons and undead may appear alike but are quite different in nature, she could not fill up the demon’s body with the positive energy thereby bringing it to null state and purging it as a result. However, demons are still weak to the power of holy light.
Demons can fly in the air, but so can Senri. The demon must have realized that it was at an overwhelming disadvantage after Senri’s initial strike and hence fled the scene right away, but Senri gave chase.
Senri dominated the fight from the beginning till the end. She was unharmed and the demon was barely evading Senri’s consecutive attacks and yet looked completely battered.
The flow of the battle was interrupted when the demon used a certain spell in desperation.
Demons are well versed in magic. The spell used by the female demon was not of the offensive type.
It was the kind of spell that would find its way to people with weak minds. It was “Charm” magic that could put the targets in a hypnotic state and take control of them.
It was also something the Death Knights would never fall for. So, Senri had failed to realize how dangerous it could be on normal people.
It had been a miscalculation on her part. Magic that attacks the mind does so through people’s fear and unrest.
A timid mercenary fighting the monsters fell prey to the magic that descended from the sky.
He lost the light in his eyes the very next moment, became the demon’s pawn and swung his sword at his comrade he had been fighting alongside a few minutes prior.
Fear spreads like wildfire. Suddenly being attacked by one’s comrade can bring about intense dread even in an experienced mercenary with relatively strong will. The Death Knights who fight against evil take such scenarios into account when they train, but ordinary mercenaries stand no chance against it.
Senri could not just stand by and watch them kill each other. She was forced to abandon pursuit and rush to their aid instead.
Charm magic cast over a wide range was not all that powerful as far as mind control spells go. The victims could be jolted awake but in this no-holds-barred fight, they might end up dead before that could be accomplished.
Senri needed to bring the comrades back to their own selves, fend off the monsters and defend against the magic that the female demon rained down from above. What mattered was human life. The casualties must be kept at the minimum.
If the demon’s spells had been too strong for Senri to defend against, she would have reluctantly focused on only attacking the demon even if it led to a few deaths. However, though a bit hard, she could fend off the demon’s attacks fairly well.
The battle would have seen its end had there been one more comrade who had not fallen for the charm magic.
The battle dragged on. The demon did not choose to withdraw.
However, it was still Senri’s side that had the upper hand. The power of mind control spells wanes the more times it is cast. If the herd of monsters led by the demon was wiped out, Senri would be able to focus on annihilating the demon.
And it was at that moment that she heard a wolf howl in the distance.
It was no ordinary wolf. Senri had heard that call a lot in her time with the Death Knights to know that it was from something evil.
There is a peculiarity to a werewolf’s howl. Senri paled, while the demon that had not relented in its attacks despite being in pain looked really taken aback.
Whatever happened? The demon that showed no signs of retreating just a while ago, flew higher into the sky. However, Senri could not give chase.
The herd that had been fairly thinned out attacked them all at once.
By the time they somehow managed to cull the herd, the demon was nowhere to be seen.
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Upon returning to the site of the camp, Senri was greeted by a scene of disaster.
Several corpses of mercenaries were strewn about which made the place reek of blood and standing around was a pale and shivering merchant group.
Werewolves are strong.
They are born from the curse of the king of beasts and are considered part of the demon race. A werewolf is probably even stronger than the female demon from earlier in terms of pure combat ability.
If it had hid itself among the group, then surely the number of casualties could not be this low.
The enemy was not in sight. Nor was Baron… End.
Senri’s expression did not alter as she accepted the fact that the worst-case scenario must have unfolded.
That call from the werewolf was a signal to retreat. Senri left End behind at the camp not just because he had little to no combat ability in his dog form but also to protect the camp should the need arise.
There is such a thing as compatibility between beings of darkness. If the opponent were a werewolf, then a vampire would be overwhelmingly higher in rank.
As part of the demon race, werewolves are much lower in rank than vampires. The fur of a werewolf that is impervious to anything but weapons made of silver, is still vulnerable to attacks from a vampire.
That is the nature of the curse. Werewolves were beings created to serve the vampires.
There are ranks even among werewolves. However, the fact that the opponent chose to retreat… must only mean one thing.
It implied that End must have been forced to make a difficult decision.
The men who returned with Senri rushed to their people. Since she defended as much as she fought, there were no wounded or dead in the team she had led.
“Y-You did well returning in one piece. However, things have taken a dire turn. Miss Senri, your dog… is no ordinary animal. You were being deceived! Your dog was a vampire! It had snuck into our group!”
“… If a vampire had really appeared here, then the casualties would have been way higher.”
“N-No. Turns out Oliver was a werewolf. Those two faced off against each other. Shit, why did we have to go through all this…”
Vampires were infamous for hiding in human settlements, coming out to hunt every night, feasting on humans and killing them . Even if no one witnessed the vampire hurt anyone, its very existence was enough to strike fear in the heart of humans.
That is the typical perception. It was Senri’s perception that was uncommon. And she was well aware of that.
Had Baron not been there, all of these people would have perished and yet they have completely forgotten about it.
She bit down on her lip. But she could not open her mouth to protest.
She peered at Katerina. Baron was really popular, but that girl cared for him most. However, she found her trembling and weeping, with her face buried in her mother’s bosom.
There were all kinds of looks directed Senri’s way. However, the most intense were ones of a reproachful nature.
I suppose it cannot be helped as they were under the assumption that she had not realized Baron’s real identity despite being an ex-Death Knight. They had been taken over by fear and were not in their right minds. Senri was used to such treatment.
However, it did not seem like they doubted her. There seemed to be no one who suspected her of being in cahoots with the vampire.
End must have said something. That young man had grown accustomed to such dangerous situations and had also gotten used to being treated with hostility.
However accustomed he may be, alright with it he was not.
“… Did Baron leave a message for me?”
☠ ☠ ☠
Ahh, what a turn of events.
Oliver Arbor felt smaller than ever. Next to him, was the personification of darkness whose mere presence could make people tremble in fear, walking alongside nonchalantly.
This was supposed to be an easy task.
Oliver had a family. The camouflage ability of werewolves could be considered perfect as flowing water has no effect on them and they are not undead. Their combat abilities are far superior to an ordinary mercenary.
Even for a huge merchant group, the strength of the mercenaries guarding them should still not amount to much. Third rank… Oliver, who was an elite even among the werewolves could only be stopped with power and not numbers.
When he learned that an ex-Death Knight had joined them, he considered it bad luck. But to think that a vampire had also been in their midst could only be described as true misfortune.
Moreover… it was a special monster even among vampires. Few in existence and one with special abilities called Ancestor. Typically, they are beings that live in a castle in a desolate place, with countless monsters under their command and lead the life of a ruler.
The moment he realized the truth, everything disappeared.
The will to fight, the exhilaration derived from slaughtering humans, just about everything vanished, and at that moment, Oliver realized that nothing had changed from the time when he was under another’s control.
Werewolves have animal instincts. They are resistant to all kinds of injuries and even when faced with a demon of a higher rank they would not easily lose their will to fight.
However, that is only if the opponent was not a vampire.
Werewolves serve vampires. All the werewolves were created by vampires and are thus unable to go against their word.
Oliver’s master was not an ancestor but a powerful vampire as the descendant of a once well-known ancestor called ‘The King of the Beasts’, and had inherited a portion of the ancestor’s power.
Absolute obedience is not included in the ‘Werewolf Genesis’ curse. To the kings of the night, werewolves are not objects worthy of fear.
Vampires feel entitled and are more than happy to carve fear into the hearts of the werewolves that they created with their own hands. Vampires torment their subordinates that grow impudent due to their newly attained beastly strength, treat their souls with contempt and make sure they never defy their command.
This in itself could be considered a kind of a curse. The kind of curse that would never be broken even if the caster were to die in any way.
The one who turned Oliver into a werewolf was no more.
His master, who was supposed to be all powerful and had absolute control over him, fought another vampire… a rare existence, an Ancestor, was met with defeat and easily turned to dust. And thus, Oliver Arbor was set free.
However, the proof of an attendant carved into him had not disappeared even after more than a decade and despite having gained a new master in the name of Rainel.
The reason that Ancestor chose to not have Oliver under his control was because he saw him as nothing more than trash whose life was not worth taking or having under his command.
He laughed scornfully at Oliver on the ground, whose legs had given out from fear and walked past him nonchalantly.
The King of the Night walking next to me looked much younger than my previous master. However, there is nothing more unreliable than guessing the age of a vampire from its appearance.
The ability to transform into a dog that I caught a glimpse of earlier is no doubt not an ability that a vampire is born with.
It could be taken as him having inherited the ability from a different ancestor. However, if that were true, he could not possess a ghoul’s ability of ‘Sharp Claw’.
The Demon King, Rainel, is certainly a demon far more powerful than a vampire. However, for Oliver… for werewolves, their true master is the vampire.
Though Oliver was not aware of the truth behind how End gained the new ability to transform into a dog even though vampires are naturally capable of transforming into wolves, the one thing he knew was that he could not dream of defying him.
“Lord End…i-if it’s alright with you, could you please tell me why you were a part of that sort of a group of human merchants?”
“And why should I answer you, Oliver?”
The subdued anger in his voice, sent shivers down Oliver’s spine and made his tail stand on end.
He was on his knees before he knew it. In the middle of vast nothing, he was prostrated.
“… I-It was an impudent question. P-Please forgive me!”
“I had to go through so much trouble because of you. My plan was to stick with them until we got to Romberg. Moreover, you made my white fur, my pride, filthy. I was totally toying with you though.”
“I had taken great pains to disguise myself as there was nothing more adorable than that dog. But now, I would be caught at the checkpoint. I naturally didn’t intend to stay with them for long, but my plans have now been ruined. I will need you to provide compensation.”
“O-Of course, milord!”
Oliver did not know what grand, fearful schemes End was planning. Neither did he wish to know.
All he could do was get on his knees and pray for mercy.
His demon comrade, Monica. She was also Rainel’s subordinate like him and her scent was drawing near. Oliver simply waited for the storm to pass by.
Silavin: This chapter is really close to the length of two chapters.