I feel the rugged ground with my whole body. Its coldness is being transferred to me. I turn my face down and slightly shake my body.
My brain is a mess. I desperately keep my calm despite the black emotions that swirl in my mind like a muddy stream.
“Kukuku, what’s wrong? Are you done already, Vampire?”
I don’t move. I keep down, as if I’m dead.
It’s not that―― I can’t move. I still have some power. I just lack the physical means to move.
I haven’t lost yet. I can survive.
I encourage my dispirited heart and look for a chance to win.
Normally, poison doesn’t work on the body of the Undead. Neither a paralytic poison nor a hypnotic poison. Even a deadly poison that can instantly kill living beings with a single drop does not have any effect. Whatever Man-Eater threw at me was closer to a digestive juice or an acid than poison, it’s something that can physically melt an object.
My arm that was hit with his needles was instantly numbed and disappeared. I suspect that this poison is quite toxic.
How truly terrifyingly wicked. If he has enough power to melt a lump of iron, there’s no use in protecting my head with an iron helmet. This is completely impossible to defend against for the first-timer. I wonder if Senri could deal with this.
Defeating him from a long distance away might be the best solution. It’s the means of attack I cannot use.
The pain is already beyond my consciousness.
When I close my eyes and concentrate, I can feel this strange poison progressively eat into my body.
It’s melting my meat little by little.
Until now, I have lost my body several times. The first time was when I was left as just a head, but I’m already used to the feeling of my body regenerating.
The damage caused by the poison is ―― ‘slowly’ surpassing the vampire’s regeneration ability.
The arena is quiet. ‘Man-Eater’s voice reverberates.
“How shameful of those under the command of Demon King Rainel… to be defeated by a demon of this level.”
His voice isn’t scolding anybody. It is mocking everyone who lost to me.
I ignore him and concentrate more.
Power is swirling within me. It’s the power I got from drinking Senri’s blood.
I continue thinking while feeling the power. Man-Eater is shouting something but his screams don’t reach my ears anymore.
I have always felt this faintly, but there are probably two types of vampire powers.
The negative energy that accumulates by killing living beings and the power acquired from sucking blood.
The former is the power that has become my base. It was because of that power that I was able to survive only as a head after I ran out of blood power and it has probably become the foundation of my physical and survival abilities.
Senri has previously said that vampires that are overwhelmed by their urges to drink blood would gouge out their own heart and die, but the reason why they even have enough strength to gouge out their hearts even without having to drink blood is because of this power. Also, negative energy usually doesn’t get consumed.
Then, what exactly is the latter power?
The power obtained by drinking blood ―― I call it blood power for convenience, but if I understand it right, it’s the power that helps me utilize my vampire powers.
My power is greatly strengthened by the blood power. The reason I was able to use enormous power the moment I sucked Senri’s blood was probably because the ability of blood boosted my physical abilities. In addition, every time I use ‘Sharp Claw’, ‘Sharp Fang’ and ‘Silhouette’ I feel like I’m using that power.
And, above all―― the regeneration ability probably also depends on the blood power.
When I was sentenced to the Solar Penalty, my regenerative ability didn’t work. I stayed as a head until I received blood from Senri.
That was probably because I had exhausted the blood power after being played with by Neville. No, it was probably the Solar Penalty that made me deplete blood power and exposed me to the sunlight.
What’s important here is that ―― unlike the negative energy, the blood power can probably be controlled.
“You can’t move a muscle, huh. You’re still a mere former human. I doubt you will be any use to Lord Rainel. I will… put you out of your misery.”
The ground shakes. Footsteps are coming closer. Right now, Man-Eater has his guard down.
I stayed still as a corpse to save as much time as possible.
Now that I’m missing my body, I can feel that the blood power circulating around my body is concentrated around my wounds.
The movement of the power that is hard to grasp usually because my wounds heal instantly, has become clear after my regeneration ability and the poison started to clash (with the former losing) with each other.
‘Man-Eater’ is approaching me probably because I still haven’t disappeared yet. Technically, I should have melted down after being hit with the poison, but I’m still fine.
It’s very slight, but there is a smell of fear mixed with the strong animal stench of ‘Man-Eater’. Despite boasting about his combat techniques before others, he’s afraid on the inside.
At this moment, I suddenly realized.
‘Man-Eater’ is most likely a coward like me.
That’s why he ambushed me. That’s why he bragged about his power. That’s why he’s afraid of retaliation despite overpowering me so much and is trying to kill me.
When I think about this, I feel a strong sympathy towards him. But I will not ―― forgive you.
I already knew the way to control my power. I was always using it unconsciously.
Now I just have to use it consciously. There’s no reason I would fail.
In the same way I use ‘Sharp Claw’ and ‘Silhouette’ ―― I concentrate the blood power circulating through my whole body on my wounds.
Chills ran through my body. This is probably the side effects of the power that’s usually filling my body being used up.
But, in exchange, my wounds start to heat up and tremble.
I prop myself up with my arms and get up.
This is the way vampires fight ―― something that Senri couldn’t teach me.
My melted body has already healed up. The several big holes that riddled my body just a while ago, the limbs that I had lost completely and even my jaw were back to their previous state as if the damage I took before was a lie.
The regenerative ability that was enhanced by the blood power caught up to the corrosion of the poison and overpowered it.
The surroundings that had become quiet turn noisy again. Man-Eater’s footsteps stop.
The sky is dark. Moon isn’t out. The blood power is greatly reduced because I dedicate a lot of it to regeneration, but I’m not scared.
I feel chills. But, a killing intent much stronger than that is swirling inside my brain.
Yeah, I feel like shit. I glare at Man-Eater.
I’ll kill him. I’ll calmly kill this beast that threatens my survival.
“Shit… Yeah… Lord hasn’t… come… out… ye.. t… ‘Man-Eater’.”
Yeah, those eyes―― those red eyes that burn like flames are also the same as mine.
Man-Eater moves back without saying anything. His tail warps greatly like a whip.
Yeah, you would do that.
Indeed, if the man you had supposedly killed, if the man with melted limbs and the jaw suddenly stood up, you wouldn’t go forward even if you had a high chance of killing him by following up attacks. If I was in Man-Eater’s place, I would do the same.
On the other hand, the action I take is not to attack, but to instead activate “Sharp Claw”.
“Kh… I can’t… believe in anything anymore.”
I won’t believe in anything anymore, not the iron longsword, not the magic cloak. There are some observers around who have weapons with them, but I don’t feel like borrowing those.
The only thing I can believe in is my body.
After pouring power in it, the claw grows and sharpens like a knife. After it grows around 10 cm as usual, I pour in more power.
After I mutated into a Ghoul, I researched this power.
10 centimeters was the limit to how long it could stretch. The Undead Encyclopedia also said that the ghouls had the ability to stretch their claws like knives.
But, right now I’m not a ‘Ghoul’. I’m a Vampire, even if I’m just Lesser. The power I can use is different from that time.
I feel the sensation as if I’ve crashed into a wall, but I ignore it and keep concentrating my power.
I hear the sound of something snapping.
My arm makes a creaking sound. I don’t feel pain. I only feel itchy.
The boundary between my fingers disappears as my skin turns white and hard, and grows sharp. Man-Eater’s wicked face distorts and he takes a step back.
A few seconds later, my right arm turned into a sword. No, maybe a spear is a better term for it.
It is 1 meters long. This white and hardened object looked far more vicious after its change than the original Sharp Claw. Is this… a bone?
I feel satisfied. This is a vampire’s bone. I’m sure it’s much harder than a steel longsword.
I’ve exhausted a lot of power, but this is pretty good for my first try.
Man-Eater roars. Countless poisoned needles fly at me from the tail he swings towards me. I clear away those with the sword I had just created on my right arm.
A hard sound echoes. The needles are flicked away and pierce the ground. My newly attained sword is still unblemished.
Are those the types of needles that need to pierce the target to inject poison or have I overcome the poison’s effectiveness by surpassing its corrosion? I’m a bit curious, but well, that’s not too important right now.
I’m no narcissist but my body really is the best.
“Yeah, that’s right. This is it. If it’s this long, I can chop off that ugly tail. This is a bit inconvenient though… since I lost my fingers.”
Well, it’ll grow back when I turn into a dog and I’m sure I can revert it back too. In the worst case, I’ll just have to cut off my arm.