For vampires with strong bodies, physical strength and 5 senses, climbing a steep cliff is no trouble.
Even if it’s mostly uneven, even if it’s slippery, they can climb smoothly by stabbing with their extended claws. Death Knights can fly, but they’re no match for vampires in terms of stealth.
Neither darkness, nor cold weather or flames can stop me. Only silver, garlic and flowing water can stop the vampire from advancing.
I carry Senri on my back and climb the cliff. The castle of the Mirage Demon King from a close distance looked ridiculously huge compared to the Lord’s mansion and even compared to Rainel’s castle that was also built on the mountain.
Both its height and width were on another level. Rainel’s castle was built on the surface of a mountain but this Demon King’s castle was built on top of a cliff.
I unintentionally opened my eyes wide. The castle walls seem to be made by stacking up stones, but I can’t imagine how much time it would take to finish such a huge structure. Some parts of it have collapsed, but that’s also quaint in a way.
There’s no light around and the surroundings look desolate. We heard from the nearest town Dessend that it was used for sightseeing, but it’s probably mostly abandoned.
The negative signs are approaching from all directions. Some of them seem to have already entered the castle, I can feel some of them inside too. I can’t tell exactly how many there are because there are too many presences, but their quantity aside, their quality is definitely not worrying. Both Senri and I can easily massacre them.
Several Skeletons appear, climbing the steep cliff. I immediately use ‘Silhouette’ while carrying Senri on my back and jump onto the stone wall surrounding the castle.
I didn’t make a sound. A pebble rolled down and fell on the ground, but Skeletons don’t seem to have noticed. Their senses aren’t dull, but they can’t be compared to those of a vampire.
I regretfully put Senri down, crouch and inspect the situation below. The Skeletons are entering the castle without discussing it among themselves, only making noisy sounds of the armors grazing against each other.
Skeletons that appear from a different direction also enter from the main gate with the same efficient movements. It almost feels like I’m watching a flowing river.
Even though, just a moment ago they were observing the situation around――
Senri answered my unspoken question.
“They have a commander. They’re probably linked.”
“Necromancers can make a connection between the undead they’ve created. They can communicate through that.”
I see… I did certainly think that their movements were remarkable. It couldn’t be a result of a single order.
I don’t remember feeling that kind of thing when I was the Lord’s undead, but I was a special undead so I can’t be used as a frame of reference.
Then I realize something important.
“Wait a minute… does this mean that my cover was blown because I defeated that thing?”
“… You should have told me that beforehand.”
“? They can’t share their vision so your face hasn’t been uncovered.”
Senri says wonderingly, her eyes open wide.
Looks like there is no word for ‘wait and see’ in the dictionary of Death Knights or it has a very low priority. As expected from the Knight Order that’s focused on offense. They would definitely rather make the first move, rush in and annihilate everybody instead of letting them roam free.
“But their behavior probably didn’t change because you defeated one of their groups… or so I think.”
… It’s hard to judge.
A while ago, Senri said that the presence inside the castle disappeared. There is a possibility that that could have been the trigger.
If we assume that everybody who was on standby started moving because the individual inside the castle disappeared ―― why did it disappear? Did it die? Or there’s also a chance that it found the ‘Night Crystal’ inside the castle. If that was used to repress the negative power that the undead release, from the perspective of Senri, who was looking for the signs of the undead, it would almost seem like the presence had disappeared.
But there is a way to look for it even when the emission of the negative power is being repressed. Night Crystal can only erase the presence. My nose can’t be deceived.
Here, I hesitate. Should I… turn into a dog?
Vampires have a keen sense of smell, but it gets much better when I turn into a dog. I should turn into a dog if I want to be absolutely sure.
But if I turn into a dog, I’ll lose clothes again. If I get bigger, my clothes will be torn. If I turn back into a human, I’ll be naked and it’s also troublesome to have to get dressed each time.
Senri was silently looking at me. She probably wanted to chase after Skeletons as soon as possible, but she always patiently waits for me to finish thinking.
Even when I’m wasting time here, Skeletons still continue invading the castle one after another. I wish I could transform into a humanoid form like Oliver…
Then, a revelation dawned upon me. It’s crazy, but still worth trying.
I fire myself up, pour in the blood power and use the dogification ability.
As usual, an eerie sound of my skeletal structure changing rings right by my ears.
However, I’m only pouring the power on top of my head. I remember how to control blood power. If I can adjust its strength, if I can improve the regeneration ability in some of my parts by concentrating, I should also be able to restrict its range.
The transformation ends as smoothly as usual.
I look below. I have legs and arms. I’m still wearing clothes. Nothing’s torn.
I check my face. The back of my head is bushy. My protruding nose is clearly perceiving the scent of the dead. My field of vision is wider than usual.
I picked up the sunglasses that had fallen on the ground. I unfortunately can’t put them back on because of the ears growing on top of my head, so I put them in my pocket.
I did it―― I really did it. Transforming only a part of my body. It needs some knacks, but since I was able to do it once, I’ll be able to do it the next time too.
This way I can chase after them with the strengths of a human form while using the strengths of a dog form. I proudly smile at Senri. Because I have a dog’s head, I end up panting and my tongue pops out.
“Thanks for waiting, Senri. Let’s chase after them.”
“End… umm… you always keep surprising me.”
The expression of Senri, who was always calm and composed, was stiff. Her lips were trembling.
I wonder what happened?
Senri took a step back and said a little apologetically.
“But it’s really scary… so please revert back.”
I unintentionally roll back my tongue from too much shock. For Senri, who has fought so many monsters so boldly to be scared ――
Senri’s apologetic face is even more shocking.
“Am I perhaps… black, right now?”
“End, can you remain calm if my head turned into a dog without any warning?”
Senri says uncharacteristically fast, in a very natural manner.
If Senri’s head suddenly turned into a dog, I would feel much sadder than if my whole body turned into a dog.
I see… the looks, huh? I overlooked it. I can’t see my face and I’m a lesser vampire so even if I look into a mirror, I’ll only appear translucent――.
But if even Senri says so, I must look really unbalanced. Just as I thought I had a good idea――
With a slight hope in my heart, I ask.
“… Will you give me blood?”
“End… don’t get carried away.”
A cold voice hits my ears. Then, I move my nose.
I look down on the main gate. It smells… It really smells. This is ――
“It’s the smell of the living… Senri, there’s a human inside!”
It’s the smell of excitement. Senri was preoccupied by the undead so she probably didn’t notice. I jumped down from the rampart. At the same time, I pour in the blood power and expand my jaw.
I know it. I know how to use the power. I could never learn magic properly no matter how much I studied, but this power is instinctual.
At the same time as I jump down, I open my jaw towards the head of Skeleton that was about to invade through the main gate.
My fangs crush its skull together with the helm. An indescribable smell of metal spreads through my mouth and I spit it out. By that time, other Skeletons had already reassembled their posture, but even then, there’s no way ordinary Skeletons could be a match for me.
There was no mutated individual here. I steal a spear and destroy all the Skeletons that had assumed a defensive posture with a single swing. That’s when Senri finally jumped down.
I throw away the spear. It’s decently sharp and has a nice reach too, but my hatchet is even more powerful, and it’s not made for swinging indoors.
I suppress the blood power and revert the size of my head.
“End, sometimes I can’t keep up with you. Revert back.”
“I can smell a human. I can’t smell blood, but we should still hurry.”
“End… revert back.”
“It might be dangerous so I’ll be going ahead. Follow me, Senri. Woof Woof.”
It’s a little lonely that I don’t have a tail to wag.
Perhaps because this is a tourist spot, my curse didn’t seem to have any effect when entering the castle.
Most traps wouldn’t have an effect on me. Neither poison nor magic will work on me and I also have my regeneration ability. To start with, I can’t imagine that there would be traps in a castle that’s used for sightseeing ―― I made up my mind and ran inside the castle.
The inside of the castle was as desolate as its outside. It looked better than the Lord’s mansion, but there were no furnishings inside, no lights and there was a giant spider web laid on the ceiling. I felt indescribably melancholy exactly because it was built so splendidly.
Some vampires have made their own castles. Maybe if I survive long enough, I could have a castle too… It might be hard legally, but I don’t think it’d be impossible if I exploited the loopholes in the law. If I had stolen all assets of the Mafia I’ve destroyed, I would’ve been able to build a small castle at least.
The air is damp and chilly, but I don’t feel cold. Senri doesn’t seem to be cold either.
I move my nose. Right now, my sense of smell can differentiate scents to an unbelievable degree. Albertus could find me more than a hundred kms away with just the smell. At this point, this sense should be called a paranormal sense instead of the sense of smell.
I can smell things in chronological order. I can smell both the dead and the living. Following it, I move ahead without stopping.
I meet a group of Skeletons here and there, but I destroy them with a single blow. Senri’s swordsmanship is precise even in darkness. Destroying only the insides of the group of the Skeletons, Senri says.
“End… revert back.”
My ears twitch. I can hear a sound. It’s the sound of a sword fight. I can hear a voice. A human voice. I can hear their breath.
Mysterious pleasure is aching in the depths of my head. My instincts are pleased to display vampire abilities. It’s a dangerous sensation.
“This smell ―― is coming from the basement, Woof.” // “This smell―― is coming from the ‘bark’sment”