A curse is a different miracle from magic born from strong sentiment.
It’s easy to differentiate curses from magic. Magic has a rationale, curse does not.
When one has emotions so strong that it even alters their body, they gain power and turns it into a ‘curse’. Therefore, mages are afraid of curses that they cannot control.
Curses are powerful because they do not have an obvious rationale. They are chaotic because they are born from strong emotions, and they demand a heavy price from their caster.
A curse is like a prayer. The difference between the two is whether the feelings put into them are negative or positive.
I suspected that Man-Eater’s ‘Cursed Flame’ was a by-product of a curse, just as its name suggested, not long after finishing the battle and returning to Monica’s house. And after interrogating Monica, I was convinced.
The reason why I took Hebram’s flames unguarded was not only because I had underestimated his character, but also because I had never heard that the phantom beast ‘Manticore’ could spit fire.
I was wary of his poisoned needles, knew that he had claws and fangs, and knew that he could use magic, but I hadn’t heard about the flames.
It wasn’t a normal flame. Vampires have enormous amounts of mana in their body; therefore most magic has no effect on them and ordinary flames wouldn’t do much either.
I suspected that it was created by a curse, when I noticed that Hebram was armed half-assedly.
There was no way Man-Eater, who had immediately prepared flowing water in the midst of a battle, wouldn’t know that silver was the weakness of vampires. And there was also no way that Hebram, who was the Number 2 in this army, wouldn’t be able to prepare a silver weapon. In fact, Demon King Rainel was equipped with silver claws.
Manticore is a phantom beast. It was natural to think that something was wrong when a cowardly beast like him didn’t use a silver weapon despite, like Rainel, not being weak to it.
What probably happened was that the curse had transformed Hebram. Just like how a silver weapon is my weakness, it was also his weakness. That’s why Hebram couldn’t use a silver weapon.
Surely, the curses transform living beings into demonic beings. Both Oliver and I are weak to silver. And Albertus, who abhorred me and attacked me, also couldn’t use a silver weapon.
It was easy to steal ‘Cursed Flame’.
Man-Eater was wary of me, but he didn’t know that I wasn’t a pure ‘Vampire’. Vampires can’t enter houses without being invited, but I, as a lesser vampire, am different. I do get a strong aversive reaction but that’s it. I erased my presence with ‘Silhouette’, killed the unenthusiastic guards and snuck inside the cave.
I absolutely didn’t want to bite somebody of the same sex, but Hebram wasn’t a human, so he didn’t count. Well, I wouldn’t want to feed on him even if he was a female. After all, the difference between male and female beasts is negligible.
The ‘Cursed Flame’ I stole from Man-Eater is very powerful. Selzard turned into ashes before he could even scream.
The information that Monica gave me ―― the fact that in this army, only ‘Man-Eater’ was capable of dealing damage to Rainel, is understandable.
After their leader died, the Lizardmen surrounding me took a step back.
I exhaled with all my might, while still maintaining my alert state.
The ‘Cursed Flame’ mixed with my breath is much weaker than the one Hebram used. The fact that my mouth is smaller might be one of the reasons, but if this was an ordinary flame, it would be doubtful if it could even light a cigarette.
What’s more―― this ability really makes me hungry.
According to the information I got out of him before killing him, the price of the ‘Cursed Flame’ is man-eating. Who’d think that Hebram’s obsession with monopolizing humans to the point of causing everybody to be disgusted with him also had a reason?
If he did not keep consuming humans in large quantities, he would die. That was the price of this ‘Cursed Flame’. Though, I’m already dead so it probably doesn’t matter much for me.
The ability, ‘Curse Steal’ has been designed very efficiently.
The most important part of this ability is that I, its owner, am not just a living being.
The price of Albertus’ power was to gradually turn into a beast. There had not been any signs of me being corroded yet, but that’s probably because of the difference in the fundamental power between ‘humans’ and ‘vampires’.
And, the price of ‘Cursed Flame’ is death, but I’m already dead. Hebram would burn from the price of the ‘Cursed Flame’ but I won’t.
One of the lizardmen with spears shouted.
“S-surround him! Absolutely don’t let him go ahead!”
“You stink of fear, you know?”
Their movements are less lively now, compared to before. That kind of difference in a situation when they’re already inferior in power is fatal.
Underdogs need to have an unconditional determination to win. ‘Man-Eater’ was also weak during the rematch. If he had fought properly, he might have been able to buy more time, but the battle ended pitifully easily.
That might be another reason why vampires with their strong killing instincts are feared by others.
After I breathed in shallowly to suppress my rampaging killing instincts, I stepped towards the Lizardmen that were surrounding me.
The skirmish ended without much struggle. Some reinforcements came after hearing about the disorder happening, but they weren’t worth mentioning.
I reaffirmed how to use my new power by using it in an actual fight.
‘Cursed Flame’ is strong. It might not have a large range or momentum, but it’s sufficiently strong.
‘Cursed Flame’ is a flame that doesn’t go out until it burns its target to ash.
Its detailed ability is unknown, but considering the personality of Man-Eater, the creator of this curse, its target is most likely ‘life’.
Every creature that is hit by those flames, immediately burns and turns into dust regardless of how small the initial spark of the flame is.
The problem is the fact that this ability is not invincible.
This ability can most likely be resisted. If a curse is a form of demonic power, it won’t work on the Order of Death Knights, who can manipulate positive energy and it will be also less effective against Undeads like me, who are the products of stronger curses.
And ―― most likely, it will also not work well enough against Rainel.
I don’t think it won’t be effective at all. If Hebram was stronger than Rainel, he wouldn’t be content with being Number 2 in the first place. Hebram was a cowardly beast, but he also had high self-esteem.
Dragons are powerful phantom beasts and it was said that their bodies are highly resistant to all attacks. It’s not hard to imagine that Rainel would also have the same power.