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Chapter 140: Lack of Money

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Author: TypeAxiom Original Source: Scribble Hub

“Thank you for your assistance. Things could’ve gone pretty nasty, and bloody, had you not been here,” the tall elf said after a while. He put forward his hand, smiling.

Camilla shook it firmly with a smile of her own. “It’s really nothing. I’m sure you could’ve handled it,” she said, deflecting the praise.

“Don’t say that. It’s really a big help.”

If the elf insisted on being grateful, then there’s no helping it, although Camilla couldn’t tell if he was thanking her person or her status.

“Does this sort of thing happen often?”

The elf hesitated for some reason Camilla didn’t understand. Why is he reluctant to say anything? Finally, he looked toward the two vampires beside him as if looking for help.

Camilla narrowed her eyes. Perhaps what he wished to say was something offensive and would best be delivered by a vampire, because she was a vampire lord. But she wasn’t a normal vampire lord; to her, an elf and a vampire was the exact same.

Even if they weren’t, it wasn’t like she was going to do anything. She sighed to herself. What do they think I am, a bloodthirsty monster? Well, bloodthirsty wouldn’t be wrong…

They chose the female vampire who had been speaking the whole time to be their spokesperson, or perhaps sacrifice. She swallowed. “Yes…it does.”

“Oh?”

The vampire flinched. “But it’s not all our fault. We rarely cause trouble ourselves. It’s those humans that keep coming way too deep into the forest. If we restrict ourselves to such a small area that we never see any humans, we might as well just stop coming to the forest altogether!”

Despite Camilla not understanding what was happening and had been playing it by ear, she got the gist of the situation. It seems that someone high up in the food chain—a vampire lord, judging by the demon group’s directions—banned interactions between demons and humans. That was something new to her.

Being from Moltrost and the Cloud Order far up north, she had no real idea what the border situation was like outside of war.

She caught Kagriss’s eyes and the lich came over by her side. Camilla reached up to whisper in her ear. After hearing about her guess, Kagriss nodded in agreement.

Seeing how even Kagriss agreed, Camilla felt a lot better about her guess and she filed the information away in case it became useful. It was something to ask her mother, at least, though she didn’t need to know now.

When she didn’t answer, the vampire began fidgeting. Camilla really wasn’t used to something like this.

“Don’t be so stiff,” she said, walking up and putting a hand on the vampire’s shoulder, even if she had to strain a bit to reach. The vampire froze and Camilla sighed again. “No, really.”

“But I can’t! I have to be respectful…”

“No, no, you really don’t. I don’t mind,” she insisted, but the vampire shook her head again. Helpless, she left the vampire and returned to Kagriss who wore a faint smile on her face. And for Kagriss, a faint smile was practically laughing, like it probably was now. Camilla’s face turned red.

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Why the heck are those vampires so uptight anyway? The ones in Victoria’s city weren’t like that. At least, as far as Camilla could tell, they weren’t.

She looked at Kagriss pleadingly. Don’t stand there helpless, help!

It seemed the Gods above were listening to her, or maybe Kagriss got better at interpreting their bond. If that was the case, then why did Camilla not feel any differences? Regardless of whether or not Kagriss’s bond interpretation improved, Kagriss sent her one last smug little smile that seemed to say “watch me.”

Although Camilla resented that smugness, she had to admit defeat. Kagriss really was more approachable.

Even though I’m the former human…

While Camilla sulked, Kagriss took up her reins, greeting the group of demons with another one of her friendly smiles that always dispersed any stress that Camilla may have. It wasn’t just Camilla either; it even worked on the other vampires.

The frozen vampire thawed and relaxed visibly when faced with Kagriss.

An anti-vampire smile? Camilla thought.

Kagriss must have made the vampire too relaxed, because the first thing she said when she regained her composure was, “Ah, you’re an undead?”

Kagriss’s smile never faltered despite the rather brainless question she was just asked. “Yes.”

“I’ve never seen one that didn’t try to eat me.”

“Most undeads don’t eat. It’s simply trying to kill you and biting is just one of their ways of doing it.”

“Oh…” the vampire said. “Do you ever bite?”

Camilla had to hold in her laughter and almost failed as her stomach convulsed with her hand over her mouth, though she made sure to turn her back first. The way this vampire acted in front of her compared to how she acted in front of Kagriss was really night and day.

“I do not.”

It’s impressive how Kagriss could keep her expression so stoic, especially given the irony.

“I’m Kagriss and this is Camilla,” Kagriss said, motioning toward Camilla. Camilla gave a little wave, trying to make the vampire loosen up a little. The poor thing stiffened up again when she saw her. What Kagriss said made Camilla’s face cramped up and the blood pool in her face. “…and she’s my lover.”

“Kagriss! Be serious!”

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“What do you mean? I am serious.”

“W—who are you fooling?!” Even if Kagriss managed to keep her expression deadpan, she still can’t hide the amusement through their bond.

The vampires looked shocked. More accurately, everyone who didn’t know beforehand or managed to guess looked shocked, which included the twins who couldn’t hold back gasps of surprise.

Their shock made Camilla want to dig herself a hole even more.

“What’s wrong? Are you ashamed of our relationship?” Kagriss asked, her voice low and soft, sounding so hurt that if Camilla didn’t have partial access to her feelings, she might’ve been fooled, but not a chance this time.

She couldn’t exactly bury herself, not in front of all these people, so all Camilla could do was complain to Kagriss. “You’re such a bully…” she hissed while leaning up, low enough that no one else could hear. Kagriss just smiled.

The awkward silence that followed the “revelation” lasted only a few seconds, but to Camilla, those seconds may as well be a lifetime. It dragged on a little longer as no one seemed to know what to say.

The vampire’s mouth opened and closed several times before she managed to squeeze out a little “oh” and shot a look at Camilla. Her gaze seemed to pierce into Camilla’s soul and Camilla felt the shame of having her private relationship with Kagriss exposed for all to know all over again.

If there was a tiny glimmer of light in that darkness, it would be that the vampire no longer seemed as wary of her as before, though at the same time she looked at Kagriss with less caution and more respect than before.

The vampire bowed again.

Unlike Camilla, she was almost as tall as Kagriss herself so she didn’t have to look up. Not for the first time, envy prickled Camilla’s heart. They were both vampires; why should she be so much shorter?

“Lady Kagriss…well met. My name is Evangeline, but everyone calls me Eva. He is Marion,” she said, pointing at the tall male vampire standing a step behind her, and then gestured at the rest of her party. “Our leader Lavitte.”

The elf at the head of the party raised his bow slightly in greetings.

“Alayna.”

Of the two elves remaining, one carried a wooden shield and slender sword while the other was armed with a crossbow. The warrior nodded toward Kagriss and Camilla, which meant the last one was…

“Celaen. And last but not least, our pride, Duura.”

The huge orc that towered over almost everyone one grinned, showing off her perfect white teeth and her two large, jutting fangs that stuck out from her lower lip. The flames on her hand flared up. “Hello!”

Unlike the others from her party, Duura seemed to have no reservation about meeting a vampire lord and her lover. She seemed strong as well, stronger than the others. No wonder the vampire Eva referred to her as their party’s pride.

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Camilla found herself liking her seemingly brazen and fearless attitude a lot more than the elves and vampire. In a way, Duura reminded her of Elyss.

Kagriss took in all the introductions, greeting each one before quickly naming Lucienne, Elyss, Sariel, and Ariel. Although the twins were a bit on guard, the two pretty female elves that constantly talked to and smiled at them chased away their nervousness.

Lucienne could only watch as her students were seduced away from her in the span of just minutes. However, she quickly built up a martial-based rapport with Marion as they went off elsewhere to show off their skill with the blade, distracted from her sorrows.

Finally, with Elyss going off to sniff around the unconscious badger mana beast, Duura accompanied her.

As the two parties mingled, that left just Kagriss and Camilla facing a noticeably less nervous Eva and Lavitte, but still kind of tense.

Was her existence a mistake…? Camilla sighed to herself, a little depressed. If only Duura was speaking for the other party.

“Good thing everyone is getting along.”

“…yeah. Haha.”

And silence returned. With her attempt at small talk falling flat on its face and killed in its cradle, Camilla decided to simply skip over that part and go on to what mattered, namely her own mission. She took a deep breath to recover and collect herself. “Do you by any chance know the way to Celrantis?”

The mention of her mother’s city for some reason made the mood even colder as the elf and vampire looked at each other, all while Camilla looked in in confusion. Did she say something wrong, or maybe get the name wrong?

That can’t be right. She double checked.

“Celrantis…?” Eva asked as if she was doubting her ears. “Why do you want to go there? Actually, I’m a little more shocked you don’t already know.”

Well I’m sorry for not knowing, is what Camilla wanted to say, but she bit back her sarcasm. If she knew, she wouldn’t be asking.

Lavitte piped up. “I hope you’re not planning anything. Forgive my rudeness, but the ruler there is quite difficult to deal with.”

“Huh? What do you mean difficult to deal with? I just want to know how to get there,” Camilla said, even more confused than before. Of course she knew that Victoria was difficult to deal with. She was Victoria’s daughter—not that the elf and vampire before her knew.

“You don’t know? There’s a rumor going around that another lord led an army against the ruler of Celrantis to take her city and after that lord was defeated, she was never heard from again.” Eva shivered. “They say that she did unspeakable things to that lord…”

Before she could say more, the elf nudged her. “Hush, we shouldn’t say anymore. The world is filled with eyes and ears.”

Eva quickly nodded and clamped her mouth shut, leaving Camilla rather speechless about what she just heard. Even Kagriss seemed a little startled.

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Victoria went to war? When? Camilla heard nothing about that from Victoria when she did talk with her mother through their bloodline.

More importantly, Victoria had said that vampires rarely warred amongst themselves, so what was this all about?

It was as if Camilla had suddenly heard a juicy piece of gossip but before she heard everything, the speaker left off at the climax. The worst part was, the speaker in this case didn’t seem to know any more, considering all they heard was rumors.

“Anyways, I really don’t think your group is going to cut it…” Lavitte said.

With that, Camilla finally understood what Eva and Lavitte were talking about when they mentioned “planning.” Not that she could blame them for the conclusion they came to when taking into consideration the rumors, but it was a bit far fetched.

“…I think you’re misunderstanding something. I’m not going to make trouble there. You could say I’m just visiting. I do agree with you that she’s scary though.”

“Just visiting? Oh. Oh!” The two sighed in relief. “That’s fine, then, though you should really stop badmouthing her. You never know what tricks she has that might allow her to know when someone is talking about her.”

I know one. She’s not using it…I think.

Not even Camilla knew. All she knew was that Victoria wasn’t peeking through their bloodline, but when it comes to other types of scrying, Camilla had no idea.

Luckily, the pair seemed as eager as Camilla to shift the topic away from Victoria, going back to the route to Celrantis. “Strictly speaking, it’s not that far from here, but distance-wise, it’s a good month-long journey with a good horse,” Lavitte said.

“That far? How is that considered ‘not that far’ when it’s a month with a horse?” Camilla asked, gaping a bit in shock. Granted, it’s really not that far when taking flying into consideration, but most people in her party couldn’t fly.

Only she and Kagriss could.

In terms of absolute distance, the distance the campaign covered was only around a third that distance into vampire territory, stretched out over two years thanks to the unreal amount of resistance that the demons could muster—especially the seemingly infinite amount of undead that rose to attack them every night, grinding down the army’s strength.

If Celrantis was that far away, then what in the world was Victoria doing at the fortress…

No use mulling over the past, because once again the elf and vampire made their eyes nice and wide to show their shock. Once again, Camilla went over her words to see if she said anything stupid, but as far as she could tell, she said nothing wrong.

So what was the problem?

“It’s really not that far. Dianene is just outside this forest.”

“I’m not following. What does Dianene have to do with a month by horse?” she asked. “I’ve never been to Dianene. For various reasons, I spent…a rather long time in human territory,” Camilla said.

That piqued their curiosity, though they didn’t pry. They didn’t answer her question either.

“So about Dianene?”

“You really don’t know?” Eva asked, sounding a bit suspicious. “Is this a test of some kind?”

A wave of exhaustion washed over her. Camilla was willing to bet the rest of her crests that this talk would be over if Duura replaced Eva. That was just the kind of feeling the orc gave off. “No…why would it be?”

“Just asking…um, Dianene has a teleporter.”

Suddenly, a new term came up and Camilla found herself feeling more ignorant by the second. The only good part was that she clearly felt Kagriss’s confusion as well. Holding her solidarity with Kagriss close as reassurance, she squeezed out another question. “What’s a tele-port-er?”

The demons exchanged glances, but at least this time they didn’t seem as surprised as before at her question. They’d gotten used to them at this point.

“A teleporter is a device that basically allows instant traveling over a long distance. If you use it, you can get to another, connected teleporter instantly. Dianene’s teleporter is connected to Celrantis’s teleporter.”

For a moment, Camilla thought she heard wrong. The idea of instantaneous traveling was mind boggling, as were its applications. That Eva was telling her that this tele-port-er made it possible with a completely straight face, combined with all the other context included, told Camilla that her ears worked fine.

Her mind worked fine too.

Still, she checked just to be sure. “Did you hear what I heard?” she asked, turning beside her toward a frozen Kagriss. Her words thaws out her lover, who quickly recovered and nodded.

“It doesn’t seem real…”

“Wow, you really haven’t been back for a long time, huh?” Eva said, nodding with her face full of understanding. “It’s a fairly new innovation, so it’s very expensive and takes a lot of mana to power the teleportation itself. But for those that can afford it, it’s very convenient.”

“Expensive…”

“Yeah, you can afford it, right? You’re a vampire lord after all—ah!” Eva said, breaking off when Lavitte elbowed her. “What was that for?”

The elf bowed slightly in apology. “Sorry for her rudeness.”

“No…it’s fine.” Despite her intentions, Camilla found her voice a bit stiff. The words “expensive” echoed again and again in her mind, with nothing able to stop it. She had some crests left, of course, but it wasn’t that much in the grand scheme of things. Besides, they weren’t in Moltrost anymore, but in a place way further.

She opened her coin pouch and took out a hundred-crest, showing the coin to the demons. “Do you recognize this?”

“Is that human money? Never seen it before.”

“Ah…as I thought…” Camilla groaned. Perhaps she should’ve exchanged the crests at a human city first to a currency used at the border. There will be some trade across borders no matter how hostile the situation was, so the border currency might have some use.

But this far south, no one in vampire territory knew what a crest was. Her pouch full of money was suddenly a worthless sack of metal, no better than a paperweight.

Knowing full well the implications, even Kagriss paled. They were penniless.


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