Those flames were jet black. I’m hot. My body, my flesh is burning. I understand what happened. I fell prey to a surprise attack.
The constant and indescribable pain and heat erodes my body and mind.
This is a duel. This is a 1-on-1 duel. Other soldiers are watching too. I didn’t expect to get ambushed even before I came face to face with my opponent. I didn’t intend to do it either.
I was naïve. I was taking Man-Eater too lightly. No… that’s not it. This is not a matter of taking them lightly.
Man-Eater turned out to be more of a… scum than I expected.
It would be one thing if we were enemies, but ambushing me before I even showed hostility towards them is just unbelievable. Even the actions of that Lizardman… Selzard, when he attacked me out of nowhere, was more understandable than this.
He had a killing intent. However, this time, Man-Eater has ambushed me for their own benefits despite recognizing me as their opponent in the duel for the spoils of war.
I hear a voice. I can’t recognize the words, but I understand that it’s ridiculing me.
Darkness spreads before my eyes. I can’t tell my left from right. My senses are delayed. Sadness, fear, anger, I’m being overwhelmed by all sorts of feelings.
However, what I strongly remembered as I lay face down, were the words Senri taught me.
It’s hard to kill the vampire that’s already dead. Neither flames, nor ice or lightning work against them. The second death is hard to come for those that are already dead.
Magic doesn’t work on vampires who possess strong mana. Fire magic, healing magic, mind control and even necromancy, they all have little to no effect on me.
And finally, curses don’t work on vampires born from the strong curses.
A curse is both similar and very different from magic. It’s a high-risk high-reward. One cannot receive several curses. The stronger one overwrites the previous curse.
The curse of the undead, which fundamentally violates this world’s rules, is the strongest curse amongst the numerous types of curses. Therefore, curses don’t work on vampires.
That’s right. The only things that can enforce death on me are ―― the blessing and the sunlight.
I won’t let ‘Man-Eater’ kill me just like this. I already used all sorts of methods to survive. Even if what happened to Lord and Albertus was their own fault, I was the reason why Roux died and why Senri’s life took a big turn.
My soul isn’t light enough to be destroyed with just this much. I still haven’t been able to repay Senri.
I have already decided that if I have to die, I’d rather die by Senri’s hands.
My eyesight, that was shrouded in darkness, slowly returned to normal. The pain that was eating into my skin, my flesh, gradually subsided.
I took a deep breath and put more strength into my numbed arm. A hoarse voice came from above me. This time I could fully understand what it was saying.
It was a human language, but the one speaking wasn’t a human.
I’m not sure why, but I can clearly declare this even just from the voice.
“Nuu… to think that… somebody, who could be exposed to my cursed flames and still move… would exist… and here I thought you were just a death-seeking fool who didn’t know his place… amuse me well, ‘Living Dead’.”
“Actually, I gathered information ‘like usual’ from Oliver and other members of the Demon King’s army. That’s why I also know the true identity of ‘Man-Eater’. I didn’t hear about him launching a surprise attack before the duel even started though…
It is a phantom with a face that looks like a human.
It possesses the body like a lion and has a long tail covered in poisonous stings. Its crimson fur doesn’t take damage from most swords and arrows and its attacks are powerful enough to crush the earth.
I staggeringly stood up and glared at the ‘Man-eater’ for the first time.
That is the true identity of this phantom beast.
“I smell the strong scent of death. Kukuku…I don’t even feel the desire to eat you.”
A wrinkled, hideous face flashed me a deep smile. Something cold ran down my spine.
The appearance of a human head on the body of a beast was eerie in all respects.
He looked way more like a monster than me with my human appearance. Death Knights really ought to hunt Manticore over me.
Man-Eater’s body is smaller than Albertus but bigger than me.
His face is human and I can sense intelligence from his voice, but there is no chance to negotiate with him.
My vampire instincts are screaming at me that the animal before me is my enemy. Kill him, they appeal to me, bestow death to the Man-Eater who dared to attack you.
I ignore them and slowly check my condition.
The newly refurbished coat is in tatters after taking a hit from those cursed flames. It barely avoided burning down, but its previous cool look is nowhere to be found.
The magic belt and the dagger are in a worse condition. The dagger completely melted away and the belt has also burnt down. Normal flames wouldn’t have this kind of effect.
Should I be happy that my body is fine?… I was even thinking of showing it off to Senri, but it has already been ruined.
I lift up the longsword that barely survived because I instinctually let it go. The audience is in uproar.
The flames of anger are smoldering deep in my mind. I’m well aware that losing my calm would be foolish.
I’ll admit that I was overconfident. Even if I was really not expecting to be attacked, it’s my mistake that I ended up caught off-guard.
But I’ll make him regret it. I’ll make this cowardly phantom beast regret that he destroyed my favorite item, that he tried to kill me.
Man-Eater narrowed his blazing crimson eyes. Even after looking at the giant sword that looked more like a lump of metal, he showed no signs of concern.
He had the dignity of the strong.
“I’m surprised… You were hit with the cursed flames, that wouldn’t go out until it burnt out, but it had no effect on you. How… abominable.
Killing was supposed to be not allowed, but Man-Eater obviously tried to kill me.
I’ll kill you. Every one of you, who’ll try to kill me, I won’t leave you alive.
I’ll eliminate all the obstacles. Everybody hates Man-Eater. It shouldn’t be a problem if I accidentally kill him.
The only abominable thing here is ―― you.
I didn’t respond. There was no reason to wait for the starting signal. The battle had already begun.
I strongly kick off the ground while holding the longsword. My aim is – his head. I’ll ‘accidentally’ stick this lump of iron in his head.
I closed in on him with a single step. My opponent is a phantom beast walking on all fours. I don’t know how strong he is, but I should be better at making tight turns.
Man-Eater’s eyes open wide. I can see sharp fangs growing from his slightly opened mouth.
And, I shield myself with the longsword against something that comes flying at me suddenly.
A short sound echoes continuously. A dull impact is transmitted to me.
It’s a needle. He threw poisonous needles from his tail at me. Man-Eater roars. I can feel strong, not-before-seen irritation from his voice.
“So you can… block this too. Hmm…”
It’s not like I blocked it with the help of my kinetic vision.
I asked around about Man-eater’s abilities beforehand.
Cursed flames, and sharp claws and fangs. A long tail that attacks like a whip and poisonous needless, that will render you unconscious with a single hit. On top of that, the fact that he’s capable of using human speech means that he can cast spells ―― He can even use the systematic magic created by humans and demons.
He’s a phantom beast that’s strong against orthodox fighters. I couldn’t imagine him doing something this cowardly.
The poisoned needles flying from the tip of his tail are pretty fast, but still not fast enough for me to have trouble avoiding them. However, his tail that bends like a whip doesn’t let me read their trajectory.
I use the longsword to block the ones he aims at my body with the force strong enough to crush the ground by holding it before me. A heavy impact is transmitted to me. I stand firm, but I’m still being pushed back.
Our weights are too different. If I lose my footing even for a bit, I’ll be blown away immediately. The tail also follows up without a moment’s delay before I take the next action. Its trajectory is complicated and from the looks of it, Man-eater is using his tail as a third hand.
It’s not just his power. He’s strong. He has no gaps to attack. A blow from his claws deeply digs into the ground and the sword that fends off the whip creaks. I’m a vampire so I can block his attacks, but the power and speed of each hit isn’t something that ordinary humans can withstand. He’s truly on another level from other members of this Demon King’s army I’ve fought ever since coming here.
A hoarse voice, reminiscent of an old man’s, lets out a loud laugh.
“What’s wrong, Vampire？Is this all the King of the Night is capable of!?”
This is bad. At this rate the situation will just worsen. I can’t win if I don’t go on offence.
He’s not as powerful and fast as Albertus. His durability isn’t as good as him either.
Man-Eater is a phantom beast, but there’s intelligence in the way he fights. You could even say that Albertus was too violent.
I’ll deal a finishing blow before he gauges out the extent of my abilities.
I know how to fight with the beasts. It would be hard to stop his front legs. My aim is ―― his tail.
The frequency at which the Man-Eater is shooting his poisonous needles at me has fallen. I suspect he can’t shoot them indefinitely.
Poison doesn’t work on me because my body is already dead. Since the poison doesn’t work, the needles he keeps throwing at me don’t do much damage.
A flowing, continuous attack. I somehow endure Man-Eater’s momentum driven attacks and look for an opportunity.
My chance came soon.
Man-Eater’s scorpion-like tail swung flexibly. My kinetic vision clearly caught its movement.
No matter how well he can manipulate it, there’s no way he can take back the tail he swung with all his might.
I’ll pull out that annoying, bald tail!
I show half my body from behind the sword that I was using to hide myself. I resolve myself and kick off the ground, then I stretch out my left hand and grab the tip of the bent tail ―― just below the poisoned needles that grow all over it. Shock runs through my palm, but since the tail has yet to build its momentum, it’s not much of a problem.
And the moment I tried to pull it out with all my might ―― something exploded before my eyes.
I react reflexively. I cover my head with my left hand. Burning pain spreads through my whole arm and then, instantaneously it disappears.
My field of vision rotates greatly and I crush into the ground with great force. I try to get on defense and get up, but I stagger.
My body feels light. The left hand I was using to shield my head has disappeared.
The surroundings were shrouded in the stench of burning flesh.
My right arm is full of holes, as if it’s been eaten by worms. It’s the needles. The places where the needles stuck ―― are melting.
I understood this a bit too late. The tip of the needletail exploded and countless needles flew at me.
An unpleasant heat covers my chin. I lift my right hand that’s about to tear off and look at its condition.
The lower half of my face is gone. I couldn’t shield it well enough with my left hand. I momentarily checked my body. Perhaps because the needles that chaotically flew at me stuck in, some parts of my body have melted down, leaving a giant hole.
The longsword is rolling on the ground. The sword that was supposed to be bigger than me is bending in a strange way. Not even half of its original size is left.
It can even melt metal ―― it’s a corrosive poison. This is obviously not the first hit I got.
The tail, that threw all that needles on me, is once again fully coated. Man-Eater himself should’ve been hit by his own needles too but there are no injuries on his body.
I realized his actual threat level a bit too late and got seized with horror. Man-Eater… is a monster. It’s a phantom beast that goes beyond common sense. It’s truly levels higher than a regular magical beast.
Perhaps my legs are also ridden with holes, as I rapidly collapse on the ground. Shit!… this is bad. I’ll lose. I’ll be killed.
I desperately scold my body, but even an immortal undead is helpless when he doesn’t have a body.
Looking at the pathetic way I fall, Man-Eater says as if exasperated.
“So, you’re still conscious, huh… Living Dead is a name truly well chosen.”