The man with the conspicuous mustache keeps gossiping while devouring the food on his plate.
The blue-haired woman sitting next to him doesn’t touch the food on the table and glares at me with half-closed eyes.
Why is this woman so irritated?
Avoiding the scary eyes of the hysteric woman as much as possible, I give noncommittal answers here and there, while enjoying the delicious vegetable dish that used something like beans sprouts, with a kind of ginger taste that grew on me.
I wish he would get over with the gossip and get to the point.
Should I speak up first?
“… Hey, don’t you think that it’s fine for you to tell me the reason why you are in this city any time now?” (Shuuya)
I say while looking displeased.
“You’re right. Let me first tell you my name.”
There was that as well, huh?
I somehow remember the nicknames and aliases of these people, but I still don’t know their real names.
“I’m called Paulsen Valmask.”
I recall having heard that suspicious word somewhere.
Oh well, I guess I will remember it sooner or later…
“If Papa has introduced himself, I have to do so as well, right? I’m Angie Eagbayn. Just let me tell you, if you sully Papa’s honour like the other day, it won’t end nicely for you.”
She yaps loudly.
But her voice is very cute.
It looks like I hurt the honour of this Papa or whatever without me knowing.
Is that the reason for this woman glaring at me?
Her surname is actually Eagbayn, so it doesn’t seem that they are really father and daughter.
“… Well, I will introduce myself too. Shuuya Kagari. Please feel free to call me Shuuya.”
“Understood. Shuuya-san it shall be then. Then I will tell you the reason why we came to this city, from the start to the end. It happened soon after we met you in 【Hekatrail】. I think you know already, but we used to belong to a dark guild called 【Bell of Twilight】. But, by now… with only me and Angie… the reason why it ended up like this is the result of a dispute with 【Bloody Long Ears of the White Whale】.” (Paulsen)
Did their numbers decrease because of a guild war?
“Correct. Even the place where we lived was burned down…” (Angie)
“Angie? Right now I am the one explaining.” (Paulsen)
Being coldly admonished by Paulsen, his companion, the blue-haired woman, looks as if about to cry.
“Papa… got it.” (Angie)
This Angie-or-such-called woman addresses Paulsen with Papa, but their surnames are different. So it’s only that woman calling him Papa on her own accord?
Or, is it some kind of play?
“As Angie says, our office, well, it was a normal bar where we made a living with normal gambling, but it ended up getting destroyed by fire after we suffered a raid by 【Bloody Long Ears of the White Whale】.” (Paulsen)
Meaning, it’s hectic between fellow dark guilds, too.
“My condolences, is what I should be saying here?” (Shuuya)
“What! That attitude is—” (Angie)
Angie’s spikiness* bursts forth. (T/N: From tsun, or better known in the term tsundere)
It looks like this girl doesn’t like my blunt attitude.
“Angie, it’s fine, so be quiet.” (Paulsen)
She’s really submissive to Papa, isn’t she?
But rather than that, I guess I will ask about the dispute between the dark guilds.
“So, didn’t you try to strike back after getting attacked?” (Shuuya)
“Of course, we immediately went for a counterattack. We killed the members of 【Bloody Long Ears】, that had attacked us, together with a mysterious dwarf who was the impetus, and raided several of their bases. However, our side had small numbers and the opponent is a huge organization. Naturally, the outcome was obvious. We ended up being cornered, resulting in many of our comrades dying… parting with the dwarf, who fought alongside us on this occasion, we got in touch with an old acquaintance and decided to leave the city… and so we are right now in this inn located in 【Labyrinth City Pelneet】 and assist the dark guild 【Remains of the Moon (Moon Remnants)】 to which our acquaintance belongs.” (Paulsen)
I can agree with that.
So, they joined 【Remnants of the Moon】?
But, I’m bothered by that mysterious dwarf who was the trigger.
“… What about the dwarf said to have been the impetus?” (Shuuya)
“Umm, if I remember correctly, he introduced himself as Hankai.” (Paulsen)
W-What was that!?
“To begin with, that large-scaled conflict only started because that dwarf took refuge in our bar while being bloodstained.” (Paulsen)
“And, the pursuers of that dwarf were 【Bloody Long Ears】. Those guys fired spells into our bar with no questions asked. From then on it… developed into a flashy dispute. The bar ended up burning down completely.” (Paulsen)
No way, right…?
“Can you tell me a bit more about that dwarf’s characteristics?” (Shuuya)
“Yes, sure. It felt like rather than possessing a grudge against 【Bloody Long Ears】, his resentment was pointed at elves. He didn’t seem to be that well-informed about dark guilds. He said “I met guys who I know” while revealing a ferocious smile. He roared “A war against the elves is possible again” while smiling happily. At any rate, he was a cheerful fellow. He possessed a special magic item, a hatchet that returns to his yellow-shining tekkou straight after throwing it. His axe techniques are magnificent. He slaughtered all the skilled 【Bloody Long Ears】 members by himself…” (Paulsen)
That confirms it. It’s the dwarf Hankai who I saved.
“I see…” (Shuuya)
“Do you know that dwarf?” (Paulsen)
Paulsen asked with an air of curiosity.
That’s right. I know him. Well, let’s be honest to them here?
“Yeah. I believe him to be my acquaintance.” (Shuuya)
“Hee, you know that onion-head?” (Angie)
Angie rudely talks about his characteristic with a cold tone.
Certainly, Hankai had an onion-head.
“… If it was a dwarf with such a head shape, then it’s definitely the guy I know.” (Shuuya)
“Is that so? No wonder that he was that strong. I never expected him to be your acquaintance.” (Paulsen)
Indeed, it’s a small world.
“But, your friendship doesn’t run deep, does it? At the time when he came across our dark guild, you had already parted with that dwarf, right?” (Paulsen)
“Huuumph. How about that! Aren’t you actually connected to some guild to set us up?” (Angie)
The spiky Angie narrows her eyebrows and says that in a fit of anger.
“… I have aspirations, but I won’t waste my time with such small-minded schemes. … I belong to the group of people that likes to handle things physically, you know.” (Shuuya)
Stories about famous military thinkers and generals such as Sunzi, Kuroda Yoshitaka, Sanada Masayuki, Flavius Vegetius Renatus, Niccolo Machiavelli, etc., which I loved in my previous life, cross my mind.
I wonder whether those resourceful generals have also been enveloped by the vortex of this world.
“… Certainly, you don’t look like that type of man.” (Paulsen)
Paulsen thoroughly examines my face…
… and gave a frank reply.
I wonder if I am being praised or slandered?
“Papa, you believe this guy?” (Angie)
“Yes, I do. Angie, you are still inexperienced, so I think you don’t understand, but Shuuya-san should be more acquainted with blood than you.” (Paulsen)
Nu? Acquainted with blood, he says!?
Do they maybe know that I’m a type of vampire?
Is he pointing out the fact of me being a bloodsucker?
Or, is that a jargon for being skilled at killing?
“Eh? Papa, you are saying that he’s Papa’s kinsman?” (Angie)
Angie is speaking with an expression full of surprise.
She moves her face and line of sight to compare the faces of Paulsen and me.
Oi, oi, come again? Paulsen’s kinsman?
If I remember correctly, Paulsen’s house name was Valmask.
“… No, he’s not my kinsman. Thus, why does Shuuya-san carry the smell of blood? I wanted to know the reason.” (Paulsen)
Paulsen asks directing the question not only at Angie but to me as well.
A-Aah… I remember.
I recalled the words of that beautiful vampire hunter.
What was the name of that fellow again? Anyway, it should be the Valmask house that the vampire hunter pursued.
Umm, the name of that hunter is…
Nora. It’s Nora Eagbayn.
Just like Angie’s family name, Eagbayn.
Is the family name of this blue-haired girl the same by chance?
Still, Angie’s and Nora’s hair colors are different.
No, even so, there’s a limit to coincidences.
Nora spoke about her younger sister.
Is Angie possibly Nora’s sister?
Is that why she was nearby at that time?
… Surveying the vicinity, I activate Grasping Perception in a casual manner.
Those in the surroundings are normal.
Will that vampire hunter Nora suddenly appear here or something like that?
It doesn’t look like it will turn into such a drama-like… heated development.
There’s only guests who keep having meals and friendly chats.
Should I use <Inhalation of Odour Technique> to add fuel to the fire?
Let’s stop here. Currently I’m listening to their story.
『Your Excellency— these two are cladding their entire bodies in mana and they have plenty of mana, too. Please be careful, I think the woman has adopted a stance allowing her to start combat at any time.』 (Helme)
Helme commented while dancing in a corner of my visionary field.
『I know. Helme, thanks for always.』 (Shuuya)
『Yes. Thank you very much.』 (Helme)
Helme vanishes from my sight.
Once again I looked at Paulsen.
Even when I inserted a long break of silence, his calm manner hasn’t fallen apart.
Contrary to Angie, it appears that he doesn’t want to have a hostile relationship with me.
“… Smell of blood?” (Shuuya)
Since there had been a break, I deliberately tried to play stupid.
“Shuuya-san, I’d like you to not underestimate us too much.” (Paulsen)
Whoa, I take back what I just said.
Alongside those provoking words of Paulsen, the atmosphere of the inn also changed…
There’s a honed bloodthirst from one, two, no… even more people besides the two in front of me, huh…?
Haha, nice work…
It looks like the members of the dark guild concealed themselves in the vicinity.
Those damned fellows are blending in between the guests that are happily eating their meals while cutting bloodthirst loose here and there.
Perchance, are those guys 【Remains of the Moon】’s Moon Remnants?
Even though there’s a crowd of other normal guests in the inn…
But, if they are eager for a fight, I will take up the gauntlet.
“… I’m not particularly making light of anyone. If you still want to have a go— I don’t really mind, you know?” (Shuuya)
Alongside that remark loaded with bloodthirst, I deliberately released a large amount of mana differing from my bloodthirst and Grasping Perception.
Rollo is taking a stroll right now.
Thus, even if I pick a fight, I have to finish them off by myself, I guess.
I got ready to allow me using the chains, magic, light spears, magic hand guided by thought, the Magic Halberd, and throwing at any time.
“W-What did you say?” (Paulsen)
“— Kya, Papa, this guy is all pumped up!” (Angie)
Angie, who immediately felt the mana, says while bending her body backwards.
Paulsen was surprised as well.
It should be quite ordinary mana though?
Paulsen’s composure fell apart.
I speak while examining their state.
“Err? I’m— just sitting though?” (Shuuya)
I adopt a banzai pose by raising both my arms.
“— Kuh!” (Angie)
Upon the nonchalant act of raising my arms, Angie overreacts.
She leaps away from her seat to get some distance.
“The ones who released bloodthirst first was your side, right?” (Shuuya)
I say cooly while lowering my arms.
Paulsen’s expression becomes stiff, but he’s still sitting on his chair.
“So, is that it for the old-friends-game?” (Shuuya)
“… Sorry. It was our blunder. We don’t want to fight against you.” (Paulsen)
Paulsen’s previous attitude was apparently fake.
“The girl over there seems to have a different opinion though?” (Shuuya)
Angie has drawn the blue longsword that was affixed to her waist and took up a combat stance.
It’s something I have seen before. The unsheathed, special longsword’s blue blade is vibrating and made a pleasant-feeling, high-pitched tone of *kiiin*.
“Angie, put away the weapon.” (Paulsen)
“Papa, this guy’s dangerous! You felt the mana just now, didn’t you?” (Angie)
At that moment an enraged Helme appears in my field of vision.
『Your Excellency, will you permit me to submerge this fussy, little pest in water?』 (Helme)
『N-No, leave her alone.』 (Shuuya)
『I understand…』 (Helme)
Helme disappears while looking disappointed.
But the eyes of Helme, who showed up for just an instant, were dangerous… her bluish black eyes glared hard, and became bloodshot to the point of blood streaming.
Honestly, my spine froze.
“… I’m telling you to put it away because it’s fine.” (Paulsen)
“Ah, yes…” (Angie)
Following Paulsen’s strict words, Angie stores the weapon in its sheath.
Well then, I can imagine the answer, but let’s make him say it?
“So, I wonder, can I have you clearly state the meaning of smell of blood?” (Shuuya)
“… Yes, so, Shuuya-san, you are a vampire, right?” (Paulsen)
It’s a fairly straight punch.
Doesn’t he care about the surrounding looks?
I think vampires are a subjugation target for adventurers… I survey the vicinity, but there don’t seem to be any guest looking this way or listening in on us.
Although I believe them to be guests, but are all of them actually people of the dark guild?
However, my race is Light Demon Lucival.
To be precise, I’m not a vampire, but…
Oh well, I guess I will advance the talk by getting on with his assumption…
“… Why do you think so?” (Shuuya)
“It’s because I’m a clansman of a branch house that directly sprung forth from the Valmask House, one of the Twelve Founding Clans who joined the flow of the founder. That’s why I immediately know about the smell of blood. I knew since long ago that you are always carrying something that contains blood, Shuuya-san. Besides, you used <Inhalation of Odour Technique> several, several ten, no… several hundred times in that city, right?” (Paulsen)
Sheesh, as expected of a vampire, eh?
Does he originate from the place that seems to be the vampire’s head temple, the Valmask house?
He knows about the skill <Inhalation of Odour Technique>…
“You were aware of it up to this extent? I certainly used that skill.” (Shuuya)
“Indeed, that skill is so-to-say a marking indicating the turf of a vampire. It’s equal to displaying one’s own power to other blood-sucking races, therefore…” (Paulsen)
Ah damn, I messed up. So that’s how it was?
But, there’s no way for me to know about such a vampire rule.
“That’s why, Shuuya-san, I’d like you to tell me you real name. Currently it should be impossible in this South Mahaheim area for vampires to be born, except at the Valmask main and branch houses.” (Paulsen)
Paulsen’s eye are tinged with indifference, but he uses a serious tone that befits a well-mannered gentleman.
It would also be fine to tell him the truth, but even if I tell him the exact details, he will probably not believe me, so I will dodge the issue as fits.
“… My name has been this name since a long time ago. To be honest, I absolutely don’t know about such or such house. I simply heard the name of the Valmask house from a vampire hunter, our natural enemy, when I was attacked by her.” (Shuuya)
“A vampire hunter that knows of the Valmask house…” (Paulsen)
Paulsen mumbles while obviously letting his dread ooze out.
“… You did well to survive and come back, didn’t you?” (Angie)
Angie shows her unrest by gulping down with her throat.
Mmh? There should be more than plenty of adventuring vampire hunters.
That means a professional vampire hunter is a troublesome existence to the extent of making Paulsen scared. Normal adventurers don’t compare with them much?
Nora Eagbayn, who attacked me by mistake, might have been first class as vampire hunter.
“… I dodged her skilfully, indeed. So, about my house lineage; my father and mother died when I was still small to begin with. I don’t know about our history. Maybe, just as you say, I’m originating from a different region.” (Shuuya)
Most of it is a fabricated, imaginary story.
But, it’s true that my parents have died.
Therefore it’s not that wrong.
“… Is that so? In that case you might be from a distant branch house of the Valmask house or a house lineage besides them. Having said that… besides the main house, no other house but the founding Pylon House in the distant southern major power Sevenfolia comes to mind…” (Paulsen)
The southern major power Sevenfolia?
I hear of it for the first time. I guess it’s a quite distant country?
Rather than that, I will ask a trivial question to the spiky, blue-haired Angie.
“Who knows? Even if you lecture me with some unknown house lineages, it won’t become clear to me. Putting that aside, Angie, you are Paulsen’s <follower>, aren’t you?” (Shuuya)
“Yeah, but what’s up with you casually addressing me without honorifics!” (Angie)
Angie complains with a small voice.
“— It is as you say. Angie is the one <follower> with whom I shared my blood.” (Paulsen)
Once Paulsen calmly mentions that in in a gentleman’s manner, Angie’s attitude up until now completely changes and shows an unspeakably, overflowing smile.
She gazed at Paulsen’s refined face while revealing an entranced expression.
It’s mortifying but adorable.
“… You have only one <follower>?” (Shuuya)
“You are asking something strange, you know? That’s only natural.” (Paulsen)
Huh, for me it’s different.
As my <Suzerain of Household> can have three <followers>.
Despite being a type of vampire, it seems different.
“Sorry. There was no closely-related vampire near me…” (Shuuya)
I intended to phrase it casually, but Paulsen, who heard my words, suddenly stares at me with a compassionate look.
It’s the weird look of a mother, no, father.
“… I see, that means you haven’t received any education as a vampire… you don’t understand the true nature of the blood magic’s blood mana apart from the skill, do you?” (Paulsen)
I have learned blood mana as skill, but certainly, I still don’t grasp it fully.
“— Wait a moment, is that story really true?”
It’s not Angie’s voice.
I turn my sight towards the location from where I heard the voice.
Huh? The maid Iriel is standing there?
“Ve-, n-no, Iriel-san, shouldn’t it have been entrusted to me to get in contact here?” (Paulsen)
Paulsen looks at the maid Iriel and is unusually discomposed.
It looked like he made a mistake about her name.
“Excuse me. But, I’m reeeally interested in him…” (Iriel)
Talking like that while licking her lips, Iriel approaches me.
“Iriel, stop it. I told you that it’s not allowed at this place, didn’t I?”
The one who stopped Iriel was the landlady Mel.
Mel swiftly moves behind the girl.
She grabs the shoulder of the girl and holds her back.
Because the long, slender and well-proportioned legs of the landlady are clad in thick mana, she’s quick.
“— Shuuya-san, good evening. And, Paulsen, Angie, I’m sorry, but from here on I will handle it with the original method of 【Remains of the Moon】. Also, since this place here is inconvenient, I wonder— whether the three of you can come to the back?” (Mel)
The landlady Mel says in a calm tone.
She turns her face away and looks at a door located in the right back of the dining room with a sidelong glance.
It looks like she’s telling us to go there.
“Me too~?” (Iriel)
Iriel asks Mel with a childish expression.
“I think that’s only natural, now come, follow me.” (Mel)
“Yeees~. Ufufu.” (Iriel)
Iriel looks at me, laughs and walks towards the door.
She’s a child, but her burning gaze was slightly scary.
Does that mean that the landlady Mel and the girl Iriel are members of 【Remains of the Moon】?
Aah, that’s why Iriel said something with such profound meaning at the time when I chose this inn, I suppose…
『Your Excellency, are you going to follow them?』 (Helme)
『That’s my intention. If it turns into a battle, it’s fine for you to look for an opportunity and then jump out from my eye.』 (Shuuya)
『Yes. Please leave it to me.』 (Helme)
I follow as I’m guided by Mel while communicating with Helme through telepathy.
Once I open the door that was in the back of the dining room, I am greeted by a spiral staircase leading below.
Paulsen and Angie go downstairs first.
“We are going below?” (Shuuya)
“Correct. We don’t plan on doing anything to you. Come in.” (Mel)
The inn’s landlady Mel says so, but…
Well, I guess I will go forward? I descend the stairs.
At the end of the stairway there’s a narrow passage. Paulsen and Angie wait at a big door.
Mel and Iriel proceed to that door and start fiddling with the two-moon object that was the door’s decoration as if turning a clock with clattering sounds.
A dial lock, huh?
In the end, at the moment when something that was a large moon broke down into pieces within the two-moon object, the lock opens up while making a clanking sound.
The big door, which is similar to a bank’s safe door, causes a heavy sound and naturally opens.
An underground space spreads out beyond the door.
“Come on, enter.” (Mel)
Mel’s words echo in the open space.
While nodding, I go through the door and enter the underground space.
A dry air with no wind.
And, it’s neither wide nor narrow.
A round table and chairs that seem to be used to hold conferences are placed in a slight depression in the centre.
There’s a statue modelled after a white cat at the deep ceiling. It is a round magic light source with its figure being covered by one paw.
The unique illumination shines throughout the circular underground room.
Smithing tools are placed at the rock wall on the left side as if surrounding the depressed, central area. Big shelves, which have bulky medicinal plants and vials apparently used in alchemy stacked up, are lining up along the wall in rows.
At the wall in the back a statue of a goddess, which wore a crown of thorns like Christ on her head, had been created by carving it out from the rock wall.
She holds two moon gems in her hands and is hoisting them up towards heaven.
On the left and right of the goddess statue there are dark holes continuing further down underground.
The right outer edge has an ascending ledge stairway. Since it’s continuing towards a protruding space that looks like a lookout, there apparently are still many more passages beyond that.
But, for such hideout-like place to exist in the basement of the inn…
“… I wonder whether you could sit down?” (Mel)
Following Mel’s words, Angie and Paulsen sit down on chairs next to the table in the centre.
As I was told, I approach the table with its beautiful green tablecloth and sit down on a chair with a back that was crafted out of wood.