Even inside the coffin, the black feelings whirling in my brain don’t seem to settle down.
I desperately take deep breaths inside the darkness, trying to calm myself down.
This Demon King’s army is the worst. It’s unjust.
The decisive match between me and Man-Eater was stopped by the intruder – Demon Lord Rainel. Just where was he watching us from?… it’s pretty far away, but there’s a chance that he was observing us from the castle.
If he came just ten seconds later, I would have beheaded Man-Eater, who stabbed me with his poisoned needles and burnt me with his cursed flames.
Still, what a terrible story. He didn’t come out when I was on the brink of death, but he immediately came to stop us when Man-Eater got a few scratches… Well, I’m not a member of his army or his ally, but it’s still too much.
Monica also didn’t tell me anything about Man-Eater. Well, she did tell me something, but that information was fatally lacking.
As I thought, Senri is the only one I can trust.
It’s fine. It’s fine that I let Man-Eater go. The match was already decided. The next time I go against him, I can definitely kill him.
There’s no way I’ll forgive him. That bastard cannot be trusted. I’ll kill him like the scum he is, in an ambush. I’ll kill him and immediately forget his existence, as if he was something insignificant.
The problem is Demon King Rainel.
I can’t beat him. In my current state, at the very least.
Rainel, who appeared at the battle arena last night, was strong enough to convince me of that, and it only took a single glance.
His thick legs that firmly trod on the ground, his giant body and his mane, all shone with a mysterious golden color in the darkness.
Demon Lord Rainel ―― is a golden lion. He is the literal and legitimate great king of beasts.
He looked like a normal beast. However, his figure far exceeded the physique of Man-Eater and Albertus, rivaling the giant black evil dragon that the Lord summoned at his end. Nevertheless, the moment he landed on the ground, his footsteps were silent.
Even I, who was looking at him from close up, couldn’t see his true form.
His voice was calm and it didn’t have the same mocking tone as Man-Eater. He didn’t have a human face, but it made one think of his higher intelligence compared to Man-Eater.
And above all―― the sharp claws on his front legs were made of silver, most likely intended for killing me.
It―― wasn’t just ordinary silver. It was holy silver, just like Senri’s sword. It was made of the expensive and rare blessed metal, that was created in order to cut through everything wicked. It was a vampire-slaying metal that would completely seal away my regeneration ability.
With that kind of physique, it would be hard to avoid his attacks. Albertus wasn’t armed. Man-Eater didn’t use a silver weapon either.
I have no chance to win, as I have only now started to learn how to use my power. If I’m alone, that is.
But, I’ll kill him.
Demon Lord Rainel turned his eyes towards me, wounded from my fight with Man-Eater, and laughed.
‘End Baron, you have done well… at defeating my subordinate ‘Man-Eater’, Hebram. Your strength is truly commendable.’
His voice made it obvious that he was aware of his overwhelming superiority. He didn’t even consider me as an enemy. And he was most likely right.
As a King, he must be able to discern the difference in strength between himself and others.
‘Hebram must also be reflecting. I want to officially welcome you into my army. I shall give you the reward you desire once Romberg is conquered.’
Zeal of beasts was contained in his eyes. Although his words were in the form of a proposal, his voice had the pressure that made one unable to refuse.
Who knows what would have become of me if I didn’t nod then.
His voice was trying to bind me. It was belittling my life. That voice was the voice one used for somebody beneath them.
That guy is my enemy. I will kill him. Conflict gives birth to more conflict and strong grudges. I’m not happy, but it can’t be helped.
Demon King Rainel, Man-Eater and this unpleasant army – I’ll kill them all flawlessly enough so that all my grudges disappear. I might be a coward, but I’m more spiteful than anybody.
I will never forget the humiliation I have tasted.
I feel a presence approaching. A quiet knock comes from the lid of the coffin. It’s Monica’s smell… I also smell Oliver nearby. It must be night again, I guess.
By this time, the feelings circling my brain had already settled down to some extent. It’s just a little better, but right now I can even greet Man-Eater with a smile if I meet him outside.
I open the coffin and get up. Monica, who’s dressed in loose-fitting clothes as usual, says with a slightly trembling voice. Oliver is shrinking into himself nearby.
“Good morning. How are you feeling today, Lord End?”
How I’m feeling? … Just the worst.
My fight with Man-Eater gave me a lot of things, but I lost some things too.
The cool equipment that I wanted Senri to compliment, and my pride. I also used blood power many times for multiple large scale regeneration, so my power is also close to exhaustion. If we’re talking in terms of losses and gains, I’ve gained more because I learned how to use my power, but I feel the worst.
But I deliberately answer with a calm voice.
“Well, not bad.”
“My deepest apologies for the happenings of last night. However, while this might sound like an excuse… Oliver and I did not doubt that you would be victorious, Lord End.”
“It’s okay, that’s a done matter. Besides, it’s not a big deal.”
Yeah, it’s okay. The wounds heal. The only thing that doesn’t heal is the wound in one’s heart.
Keeping calm is what’s most important. I wouldn’t be able to defeat the Lord if I lost my calm. I wouldn’t be able to defeat Albertus either. That’s why I will act the same this time too.
I see Monica relax her shoulders in relief.
Oliver lifts the box behind him and quietly puts it in front of me. Looking at him like this he really looks like an ordinary dog rather than a wolf.
“I have chosen a few items at my own discretion… to replace the equipment you had lost last night. It also includes congratulatory gifts for Lord End who has defeated Man-Eater and joined our army.”
There were a lot of items shining with the glimmer of magic in the box. There were also some things that I hadn’t seen when I was looking for items in the treasure storage the other day.
But, I bet they’re softer than my flesh and can’t regenerate as well as my body. I’m sure that if I turn into a dog, they’ll come off and if I turn into a giant dog, they’ll rip. The items that still remain in my possession are the Lord’s relics that are with Senri and the jet-black hatchet, ‘Blood Ruler’.
To start with, magic doesn’t work on me. The magical items that improve the wearer’s abilities don’t work on me either and I have no need for the items that block offensive magic or curses.
I don’t even need a sword. It’ll be melted by the poison anyway… After all, poison doesn’t work on my right arm. I want the kind of clothes that won’t come off or tear all the time. It’s not like I’m always fighting almost fully naked because I want to.
Although disappointed, I chose the black clothes that seemed to be the most durable and the most well tailored.
Monica, who was concerned about me, as I was excitedly choosing an equipment, confirmed in a hurry.
“A-are you sure you do not want anything else? Nobody wwill complain even if you take all of them.”
“I don’t need them. Human items are too fragile.”
Even inorganic items can’t keep up with the endurance of the vampire. But if I live long enough, I’m bound to find an item I’ll like.
Let’s think positively. My time has yet to come. I’m sure there will be both good and bad things, but all will be fine as long as good outweighs the bad.
I forcibly convince myself and check with Monica.
“Well then, now that I’ve become a member of the demon king’s army… I think that I should find out about this army as much as I can. Who’s the most knowledgeable about that kind of stuff?”
“Y-yes. If you are wondering about this army, I can probably provide the answer to most of your questions.”
“I see… that’s… very helpful.”
Monica smiles faintly for the first time. She must have a high rank in this army just as I thought. Well, even if she has a high position, it’s probably because everybody else is only slightly better than a literal animal, but this is very convenient.
Putting everything I didn’t need in the box, Monica closes its lid. I stretch my arm and lightly catch her wrist.
Monica gives a start and looks at me.
“?! Umm… it’s fine. I will not take them away. I will leave them in the room, so if you happen to change your mind, please feel free to use them at your――”
“No, I don’t need those anymore. But, there’s something that has yet to be compensated for.”
“Are you… perhaps talking about your weapon? In that case, there are several left in the treasury. “
“Wrong. The weapon is not the thing that needs compensation.”
“? Erm… that’s… “
Black flames are still smoldering in the corner of my mind. Monica’s peace-at-any-price attitude is a bit strange.
What’s essential now is―― the replenishment of blood power. I used a lot of blood power in a battle against Man-Eater. My urge to drink blood is getting stronger because of that. I can still endure it for now, but I see no reason to stop myself. I need to replenish my power as fast as possible. I’m busy.
I laugh with tenderness.
“I’m talking about blood. I used a lot of blood because of you, Monica. I have to make up for it.”
The change was dramatic. Monica had a stupefied look for a second, but soon enough her eyes opened wide and blood drained from her face.
Her wrist, that I was holding, was pulled back strongly but I didn’t let go.
She must take responsibility. It’s not because of compassion that I didn’t drink Monica’s blood until now.
I just didn’t have a justification, a legitimate excuse of sorts. But right now, I’m ready to make all of the demon king’s army into my enemy and I even got in trouble because Monica didn’t give me information about Man-Eater.
“P-please do not jest… If… if you need blood, we have the… prisoners.”
“They don’t suit my taste. I want to suck the nutritious blood of a succubus.”
“?! Lord End, I-I’m not a succubus.”
Monica says with a quivering voice and points at her loose-fitting clothes by looking down.
She has a voluptuous body and when she had her wings out, she was wearing revealing clothes so maybe I misunderstood something?
“Oh, is that so? Well, whatever. I’ve already made up my mind. I will drink your blood. Right now.”
I promised Senri that I wouldn’t drink blood from any human other than her, but now that I think about it, Monica’s not human, so it’s okay, right?
Did you think that I had forgiven you? Well, you’re wrong.
I’m still angry. I thought of Monica as an ally, but I was betrayed. I’m really irritated. This also serves as a punishment.
Monica desperately tries to move away, but a vampire’s physical strength is stronger than the physical strength of a demon. In a small pleading voice, Monica offers a slightly off-point resistance.
“Lord End, your stomach! If you drink my dirty blood, it will definitely upset your stomach! Have mercy, please have mercy!”
The sweet smell, reminiscent of an overripe fruit jolts my brain.
It’s been a long time since I last sucked blood. I’ll take my sweet time while drinking her blood.
She seems to be familiar with vampires and she’s probably sturdier than humans. Why don’t I ask her to teach me the right way to suck blood?
She could escape if she cut off her arm, but Monica didn’t look like she would do it. How pathetic, when I almost got fully melted down because of her.
I strongly pulled on her arm and dragged the struggling Monica inside the coffin. It was made to be a little wide so it had enough space for two people.
As I was pressing Monica down with only my left hand, I glared at Oliver who was trembling in the corner of the room. Voice, so cold that it even surprised me, came from my mouth.
“Oliver, I’m going to eat. Keep watch so nobody disturbs me. If anybody comes, make up an excuse and send them away. If you get in my way, I’ll kill you.”