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Chapter 12: An Unwanted Visit

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Author: TypeAxiom Original Source: ScribbleHub

The last of the zombies staggered out of the dark cavern and silence returned to the chamber. In the deepest part of the mines, there was no outside sound or light to mark the passage of time.

Carmen laid on the floor, her hair scattered on the ground where she fell. The soft golden glow from the amulet in her hands ebbed and flowed, pulsing gently as it sealed her.

Until its stored mana ran out, Carmen would not wake up, if not for a pale hand that reached down from out of nowhere and plucked the inlaid yellow gem from Carmen’s loose grasp.

Squeaks of red bats filled the empty cavern, materializing nowhere. They all flew toward one spot, melting into a red form that looked like a sculpture of fresh blood. Slowly, the blood gained color and definition, and a beautiful girl with long silver hair appeared.

She was dressed in a long, black dress with plentiful ruffles. As she landed gracefully, her high heels clicked on the stone.

Holding the amulet by its chains with two fingers as if handling something disgusting, she sighed and shook her head before tossing it away into a random corner of the cave chamber, where it shattered and disappeared in a burst of golden light. “What horrid craftsmanship.”

She held out her hand. A red bat materialized from her shoulder and flew to hover over her palm. Its form melted into a fine handkerchief that floated down into the vampire’s waiting hands. After Victoria wiped her fingers, she tossed away the silken cloth that faded into thin air.

“Camilla, you disappoint me,” she said. “Wake up.”

She knelt down next to the sleeping girl on the ground and patted her face. Her fingers sank into the girl’s soft cheeks and she couldn’t help but squish it a few more times. Unfortunately, soft cheeks weren’t what she wanted. “Camilla.”

At her urging, the girl stirred, her eyelids quivering. A moment later, the girl’s eyes opened. Unfocused golden pupils flicked around for a moment before focusing on Victoria’s face. Then, they closed before the girl’s eyes shot open once more.

“Ah!” Carmen jumped up and scrambled away. “It’s you! Vampire!”

Before she could get far, thin fingers closed around one of her feet, clamping down like a vise. She felt herself being pulled back by an unstoppable force. She clawed at the stone floor, trying to stop herself from being pulled backwards, to no avail.

“Now, now, my daughter. Isn’t it strange to call me ‘Vampire?’ It would be like a human pointing at another human and shouting ‘Ah! Human!’ before running away,” Victoria said.

Carmen kicked her free leg at her, only for Victoria to easily catch her foot in the palm of her other hand. Although Carmen meant to withdraw her foot right after whether or not the kick landed, she was still too slow as Victoria closed her fingers.

Now both of her feet were trapped. “Let me go!”

“Is that any way to ask someone to do something?” Victoria asked.

“Shut up. Leave me alone! I’m not a vampire and I won’t become one!” Carmen shouted.

“I’m afraid it’s too late for that,” Victoria said and laughed, covering her mouth. As she took her hand off of Carmen’s feet, Carmen tried to kick out again, only to find that she couldn’t move. Instead, a red band restrained her foot. Before her very eyes, another band formed around her other ankle.

A third and fourth band encircled her wrists, pulling her upright until she was suspended in midair. Her breath caught in her throat as she remembered spending countless days in this exact same position in the dungeons and she trembled. At least in those days her feet touched the ground.

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As Victoria drew closer to her, Carmen struggled harder to break free from her bonds. Right now, her heart should be pounding, but as a zombie, her heart did not beat and her blood did not flow. She could not blush even if she wanted to, and the coolness of her face despite her emotions was strange.

Tantalizingly slow, Victoria’s face drew closer until their noses were almost touching. Carmen stopped, not daring to move. She felt cool hands on her mouth, parting her lips. A finger ran over her teeth, lingering on her canine teeth.

From up close, Carmen saw Victoria’s smile turn into a frown and the vampire drew away, looking at her fingers.

“It seems I’ve underestimated you,” the vampire said.

“What do you mean?”

As if she didn’t hear Carmen’s question, the vampire’s smile returned. “I was mistaken. You are far from a disappointment, Camilla. In fact, my gamble on you might just pay off.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about! And my name is Carmen, not Camilla.”

“Hmmm. Well, I will allow you to call yourself Carmen, as long as you answer to Camilla as well,” Victoria said. “Still, I’m rather surprised that you managed to suppress your vampire side.”

Carmen shook her head. “I’m not a vampire.”

“No? But you’re already a girl. You’re halfway there already, and that mess of a battle back there sealed the deal,” Victoria said. “You have the height too, unfortunately.”

She reached out with a hand and patted Carmen’s head.

Carmen snarled at her. She couldn’t move her arms to swipe Victoria away, so she snapped at Victoria’s hand instead, but she couldn’t reach far enough. “Don’t pat me. My body might be that of a girl’s, but I…”

She trailed off.

“You what?”

“No, no way. I’m a man. No, why does it feel so weird to say that?” Carmen muttered. “I’m a man,” she repeated, and shivered. She felt like she was lying. When did this happen? When did it become more natural for her to think of herself as a woman rather than a man?

“Like I said, you’re already a vampire, dear. The moment you woke up in that rotten body, that became an unchanging fact. There are no male vampires—no male vampire nobility, at least. There is a reason our race is sometimes called the princesses of the night.”

Carmen pulled against her restraints. “Change me back! Change me back now!” The way that vampire so casually talked about her changed body infuriated her. Even now, Victoria was staring shamelessly into her eyes, without a hint of guilt, as if Victoria hadn’t done something horrible to her against her will.

“I’m afraid becoming a vampire is irreversible. All you can do is suppress the full transformation. You’re quite effective at it too,” Victoria said. “Every time you absorb that undead mana, the vampire side of you automatically manifests to help you control it, but you manage to mostly suppress it afterward every time I’m impressed.”

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Victoria tapped her chin, looking closer at Carmen’s body. “However, repeatedly partially transforming does take its toll on you.”

“Take its toll? Wait, so when every time I absorb that undead mana, my mind has been turning into that of a vampire?” Carmen asked. It made horrible sense. No wonder she felt so strange about her mindset, yet could never find anything wrong with it.

If her mind had been altered over a longer period of time, she would have suspected nothing. It was only because she repeatedly transformed so many times in just three days that she noticed. “No way…I don’t want this!”

“Too late. I must warn you that the blood of a vampire is more powerful than every other kind of magic. Even having turned into a zombie, you remain a vampire.”

Victoria waved her hand. A swarm of bats flew out of the dark corners of the cavern, gathering behind her, becoming a cushioned seat. She fell back and crossed her legs, as if mocking Carmen’s disheveled appearance with her own comfort.

“Even if you find a way to change back into a human through some kind of transformation spell, you will eventually change back, so I suggest you give up now.”

Carmen hadn’t even considered that option yet, but Victoria still mercilessly crushed it. Her whole body relaxed until she leaned forward bonelessly, her head hanging.

“Why? Why me?” she murmured. “Why couldn’t you have just let me die with the rest of my friends?”

Victoria tilted her head, puzzled. “Who told you they were dead?”

“They’re not?”

“Well, in a certain sense, they’re not. I thought I said that whether or not you’ll see them again depended on your behavior, did I not?” Victoria tapped her lips as she tried to remember her exchange with Carmen.

“I thought you were just lying. Another one of your ways to torment me,” Carmen said.

“Torment? Now why would I do such a thing?” Victoria said, pouting. “But if you insist that they die, it can easily be remedied.” She made to stand up.

“Wait, no! I didn’t say that!” Carmen cried. “Don’t hurt them. What can I do to see them again?” She bit her lips, afraid of what Victoria might say.

Victoria once offered to trade her service for her friends’ lives, but Carmen had refused on account of her loyalty to the Church.

Things had changed since then. First, she was already a zombie. Second, she couldn’t pledge her loyalty to the Church anymore without first ascertaining the extent to which the Church had been corrupted.

Now, she was given a second chance. She still had limits, things she would not do no matter what, like exterminating humanity, but she wasn’t sure where exactly those limits lie. The lines have blurred without her noticing.

She strained her ears, waiting upon Victoria’s response.

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Victoria broke into a smile. Carmen swallowed. Was that smile the smile of an angel or a devil? Was there even a difference between the two for this vampire?

“What can you do? I wonder…” she said. “For now, nothing, really. You wanted to root out the rot of the Church, didn’t you?”

“How did you know what?” Carmen blurted, then regretted it immediately. She hadn’t planned on saying anything, for fear that she might set Victoria off or give her strange ideas.

Victoria shrugged. “Who knows? That’s not important. Aren’t you happy, Camilla, dear? All I’m asking you to do is what you already plan on doing.” She clapped. It sounded both sincere and ridiculing at the same time, the line between the two blurring so that Carmen couldn’t even tell them apart when Victoria was involved.

“…Thank you,” she muttered.

“Anything for my daughter. Although, you could start conveying your gratitude by calling me ‘Mother.’”

Carmen stared blankly at the vampire. She couldn’t tell if Victoria was being serious or not when that sincere, yet mocking smile almost never left Victoria’s face. Just in case she was being serious, Carmen decided to change the topic.

“What are you doing here anyways?” she asked.

Victoria didn’t answer. She merely maintained her smile, waiting.

Carmen licked her lips. “…Mother,” she added, reluctantly.

Only then was Victoria satisfied. “I was just passing by when I saw how pathetic you were being,” she said. “What happened to the bravado you had when you fought that little girl? I can’t seem to find a trace of it in you right now.”

She looked Carmen up and down.

Carmen wanted to dig a hole and bury herself. Victoria had seen everything!

She still remembered her arrogance when she told that acolyte, Fleur, to give up over and over again like a broken record. She had been so assured of her victory that she had been gloating while she still crawled on the ground like a worm.

In the end, she was the one who nearly lost her mind and ended up in her…current state.

Her fight against the zombie horde that piled on top of her had left her almost naked. Her dress was in tatters, more air than fabric.

If she could blush, she probably would have.

“Honestly, I feel shame for you as a vampire noble. If only you had embraced your power, you could have easily overpowered such a weak spell of control,” she said. “At the same time, your restraint is commendable. Even half out of your mind, you managed to suppress your vampire side.”

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The vampire’s words didn’t make her happy. Carmen didn’t want praise from her.

She looked away. Suddenly, the restraints around her arms and legs disappeared. With a scream, she fell to the ground, managing to catch herself on her hands and knees.

A small white stone hit the ground in front of her, bouncing once before rolling to a stop between her hands.

She picked it up, turning it around in her hands before looking up questioningly at Victoria.

“That is a moonstone. Humans like to use crystals, we use stones. Sealed within it is a wardrobe of a quality that befits your identity,” Victoria said, staring down at her from her throne with a faint smile.

With a start, Carmen realized that she was kneeling and scrambled to her feet, holding the moonstone.

She tried to ignore the giggle she heard from Victoria.

“As a mother, it’s my duty to feed and clothe you, after all. Since you don’t seem to need the food that I’m willing to provide, consider that my gift to you.”

Although the moonstone was a gift from the vampire, one Carmen didn’t really want to accept, it was still true that she was currently naked. She tore off the remaining tatters on her body, baring herself before Victoria.

Although the person before her was a woman as well, Carmen still turned around. As she triggered the seal within the moonstone with her mana, the moonstone took it and weaved it into a mental imagery spell.

After she permitted the imagery spell to enter her mind, Carmen saw before her dozens of outfits. However, almost all of them were dresses.

Ball gowns, sundresses, cocktail dresses. Those that weren’t dresses were various attire sets that she only used to see on wealthy nobility.

To her that used to only wear the Church robes when at leisure and armor in battle, all of the clothes she saw in the moonstone were something foreign and that she had no experience with.

It was like a new world opened up to her.

Out of curiosity, she focused on one of the outfits and imagined herself wearing it. As if that was a trigger to something, the moonstone drew on her mana once more. The moonstone began to bleed, blood seeping out from its flawless surface.

Before Carmen’s wide eyes, the stream circled around her body like a snake. She yelped, stumbling away, but the blood clung to her skin, spreading until it covered every inch of her body. The blood solidified, gaining color and settling on her body.

“What is this?” She gasped, looking down at herself.

The whole process took no more than a second. One minute she was fully nude, and the next the clothes that she had just been looking at covered her. It was a white shirt with frilled edges down the front where the buttons held it together. A black skirt that started high up on her waist reached down to her lower legs. Stockings clung to her legs up to her thighs, most of it covered by knee-high black boots, slim and elegant.

“That, Camilla, is bloodbonding. We can turn various things into blood and store them within our body, or other appropriate mediums, like that moonstone.”

“So that time I managed to break the sword of that vampire and she created another one…” Carmen said, thinking back to that nightmare of a battle. The vampire’s strength had been overwhelming.

“She simply tossed her weapon and called another one,” Victoria said, nodded. “Ismelda praised your strength, you know. She didn’t expect a human to actually defeat her.”

Huh? Carmen tilted her head. “Defeat her?”

“Oh my, Camilla. Is your mind so addled that you can’t remember what happened? You won that battle. You might have even killed her if it wasn’t for Mila interfering. Close your mouth; it’s unbecoming of you.”

At Victoria’s rebuke, Carmen realized that her mouth was open. She closed it. “I don’t remember…” Carmen admitted. “I didn’t want to remember.”

She had defeated a vampire? It was hard to believe.

It wasn’t unbelievable, though. She had been fighting while exhausted, at his limits. It wasn’t inconceivable that another vampire showed up and finished him.

The two vampires she’d seen so far looked quite similar. Both Victoria and…Ismelda were short and had silver hair and red eyes. They could’ve been mistaken for sisters. They were different in other areas, though.

While she searched for memories, Victoria stood up and clapped her hands. “Alright. It’s about time for me to go. Unlike you, I am a proper vampire noble and have matters of state to attend to.”

“Why did you come here then?” Carmen asked.

“I was just passing by. Well then, farewell.”

Victoria snapped her fingers and she began to fade along with her chair, turning into a swarm of tiny red bats that shrank until they disappeared into thin air. “Oh, I almost forgot this.”

Something flew out of the swarm of disappearing bats. It was so sudden Carmen almost didn’t catch it. By the time she did, no bats remained.

She looked at the item in her hand. It was a clear crystal.


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