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Chapter 142: Isolation

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Author: TypeAxiom Original Source: Scribble Hub

Camilla thanked Victoria from the bottom of her heart. Had she not been exposed to this kind of setting beforehand, perhaps she would’ve acted as excitable as Lucienne. Despite coming here with a party of non-humans, Lucienne’s eyes were wide open, looking this way and that.

The architecture in Dianene was quite different from Moltrost as wall, with far more ornate designs in columns. Swooping, wooden carved roofs over each of the houses on either side of the road marked quite a contrast to the thatch or simple wooden boards that was usually seen on the outskirts of Moltrost.

“So they’re wealthy enough to dedicate time and effort to making even random houses aesthetically pleasing…” Camilla tried to keep her eyes focused in front to avoid being like Lucienne, but she couldn’t help but note the differences she saw. “Is the gap really that large everywhere?”

So far, the two cities that she’d been to were the same—both more prosperous and alive than Moltrost. It was like comparing a city to a small, backwater town. Of course, she was exaggerating, but on the surface, the luxury visible everywhere pushed her thoughts in that direction in the first place.

Like Celrantis, Dianene seemed to have a rather large variety of races, though vampires still dominated. To avoid trouble, Camilla kept her status as a vampire lord as well as an undead hidden, as did Kagriss. As a result, it was the twins that received the most attention, with several pedestrians slowing down and staring, though very few approached to speak.

Those that did were deterred by Elyss’s menacing glare and the low growl that came from deep inside her chest.

“I don’t think they mean any harm,” Camilla said.

Elyss huffed. “I don’t care. I don’t want them near me.”

“Because they’re not human?”

“I don’t even want humans near me. You lot—you and the others are the exception.” She hurriedly corrected herself when Camilla laughed, but even if she hadn’t, it was still a pretty sweet thing to say. Camilla patted her side and they continued on.

Soon, Lucienne fell in step next to her, leaning in close and covering their mouths to prevent the sound of her whisper from traveling. Her eyes were focused on something and Camilla followed Lucienne’s gaze.

“Hey, what’s that? That thing over there.”

“Hmm?”

Camilla found herself staring at…a rock. Well, it wasn’t really a rock, more like a bunch of rocks clumped together in the shape of a human. But between each crack where the individual rocks met, orange-red lines ran over the surface of the golem-like creature in a messy web pattern.

The patterns disappeared beneath thick, padded clothes.

It wasn’t the first time that Camilla had seen one, but it was rare enough that throughout the whole campaign, she could count the number of times on one hand.

She lowered her voice. “That’s an elemental.”

“Elemental?” Lucienne’s shocked voice rang out next to Camilla’s ear and Camilla had to clamp her hand over Lucienne’s mouth.

“Hush!” she hissed. “It’s rude.”

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Only when Lucienne nodded her understanding did Camilla take her hand away, leaving Lucienne gasping. It didn’t seem the elemental noticed anything from Lucienne’s outburst, although a few others did. Camilla smiled at them before turning back to her little, ignorant vampire subordinate.

“That’s an elemental. Either a flame elemental or some kind of mix; I’m not sure. But they are the undisputed masters of their respective element in terms of control, and the higher rank they are, the greater their power.”

At “undisputed master,” Lucienne’s eyes grew wide again. “Is there a light elemental? Or holy, I mean.”

“I’m not sure. I’m reasonably certain that there are light elementals, but I don’t think there’s a holy elemental,” Camilla replied, thinking about Lucienne’s question. It wasn’t something she’d thought about before, considering how rare elementals were. But now, she found one standing in a random street, buying something, forking over some kind of money with one of its gloved hand while receiving his product—a stone of some kind—with the other.

If there really existed a holy elemental, then it would probably be the bane of the undeads’ existence. On the other hand, if an undead existed, it would be the greatest ally an undead could have.

Unfortunately, she had no answer.

Lavitte and the rest of his party was still ahead, so she could just ask him later.

The elf must have somehow notified a contact within the city, because halfway through the outskirts road, a large wagon with solid tires creaked out to meet them. Lavitte broke out in a grin and threw up his hand, waving in greetings.

“Ho, Jerome! Look what I caught!” he said as the wagon and its driver neared.

“We,” Eva said with a light shove on his shoulder. Lavitte laughed, nodding, before he turned his full attention back on the newcomer.

Jerome was a vampire, dressed in flamboyantly red clothes to match his red eyes. Short black hair slicked up at the front showed off his admittedly attractive face that naturally drew gazes. Here was a person with a showman’s aura and he wasn’t afraid to flair it as he grinned.

“I knew it was a good idea to hire you guys. Excellent work. How strong was it, on a scale of one to ten?” Jerome asked after he shook hands with Lavitte. His eyes scanned the unconscious badger’s body, taking in the trace mana that remained from the beast’s battle with Lavitte’s party and the humans.

He rubbed his chin in thought and his gaze drifted. When he saw Elyss, his eyes lit up. In the meantime, Lavitte was still trying to come up with a good estimate.

“Seven…six…five…? No, six. I’d say maybe six or so,” Lavitte said as he settled on a number.

Jerome nodded absentmindedly, scribbling the number down on a board, but his eyes remained on Elyss. Feeling a gaze on her, Elyss looked over, looking eyes with the vampire and giving as good as she got with her glare.

The smile on Jerome’s face widened.

“Hey Lavitte.”

“Hm?”

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“That lion…is it for sale? Who are the others?” he asked.

Before anyone could reply, a feminine voice boomed in his head as a heavy presence pressed against his mind. “Are you for sale? How about I buy your freedom for a thousand crests?” Elyss’s tone made her sarcasm quite clear.

“What?! She speaks! Who’s her master?” He looked around, eyes stopping on Lucienne who looked blankly back, devoid of expression.

By now, Camilla’s face had turned dark and her mood stormy, having started when Jerome first set eyes on Elyss. Those eyes were full of confidence. They were eyes that were used to getting his way. Eyes full of greed behind all that flourish.

She stepped up, putting herself between the vampire and Elyss, but unfortunately the effect wasn’t as good as she wanted…at a far enough distance and with Jerome so focused on Elyss, he simply peered over her head, oblivious even when she waved her hand.

“Hey!”

Only then did Jerome realize that there was someone present, just in time for Kagriss to step up behind Camilla and block his view for good.

As if seeing her for the first time, and ignoring her expression, Jerome broke out into a smile. “Oh, I didn’t see you there…”

Camilla gritted her teeth.

“…who might you be?” Jerome asked. The pitch of his voice rose slightly, almost as if he was speaking to a child.

Camilla felt movement behind her and put up a hand to stop whatever Kagriss was about to do. The smile on Jerome’s expression faded slightly and he began to look at her with new eyes. A child wouldn’t command such respect.

Perhaps it was due to her golden eyes and golden hair, but Jerome seemed to have no idea what he was dealing with. When Lavitte tapped him as if wanting to tell him something, Jerome brushed him off.

The arrogance. The rudeness of brushing off someone he was just talking to.

Camilla pressed her lips thin and stepped forward. Jerome watched her every step of the way, maintaining his smile. When she came close enough, he held out his hand, only for it to be slapped away. His smile grew strained, and by now it was easy to see that his smile might not be a true one after all.

Perhaps it was just an act from the start, along with his cheerful persona. But Camilla didn’t care.

“I’m Camilla, and you may call me as such.”

Jerome nodded. “I’m—”

“But, my full name is Camilla Tuldor.”

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Despite being interrupted, Jerome said nothing. His lips quivered and his face paled as he took a step back. Camilla stepped forward, keeping the same distance between them. A few of Jerome’s men that he brought with him tried to intimidate her, but Jerome held them back.

Behind Jerome, Lavitte sighed and shook his head. He’d tried to warn Jerome, but the latter didn’t listen. His loss.

“I heard your name is Jerome, is that correct? My, how surprising. I didn’t expect a lowlife like you to be able to speak,” Camilla said. A grinding sound came from her mouth. “Why don’t you answer Elyss’s question? For how much can we buy you?”

Jerome shook his head. “I-I’m not for sale.”

“Neither is Elyss. Begone from my sight, or else,” Camilla snapped. When Jerome turned and peeked at the large form of the badger, she snapped his fingers to grab his attention. “Do what you came here for and make it quick!”

“Ye-yes ma’am!” He pointed at the badger. “Load it up!”

As if seeking an escape, Jerome rushed back to Lavitte and turned his back so he could no longer see Camilla. With one last look at Camilla, Lavitte resumed his talk with Jerome.

It seems Jerome was the client that commissioned Lavitte’s party for a mana beast. Does that mean that Jerome is someone high up in the arena?

Well, it doesn’t really matter since it was the arena at Celrantis that Camilla planned to take Elyss to. Of course, even if the arena here opened its doors to Elyss, she wouldn’t let Elyss go. Not with someone like Jerome having power there.

Perhaps she was too harsh on him… But while the first time was excusable since he could have assumed that Elyss was like any other common animal, the second time wasn’t. He clearly heard Elyss in his mind. He even said “she speaks!” and then proceeded to ask where her master was.

While she herself was nominally Elyss’s master, in reality Elyss truly answered to no one but herself. Elyss followed her because she was strong and because of their prior relationship, not because of any special reason that bound Elyss to her will. It was Elyss’s decision in the end.

Thus, it was unforgivable for Jerome to look to buy Elyss. If he wished to buy something sapient and intelligent, he should be prepared to sell himself off to slavery.

Camilla huffed and turned away from Jerome, not even wanting to be facing the direction he was in. Compared to him, Kagriss was much easier on the eyes.

“Thanks for not interfering. He really made me mad.”

“I understand, but if you could allow me next time…” Kagriss said.

Camilla rolled her eyes. “Hopefully there won’t be a next time. Also, Elyss is perfectly able to defend herself, and Lucienne looks like she wants to be ahead of you in line, right?”

Kagriss turned in surprise to see Lucienne nodding. “I noticed it before, but you two really do have a good relationship.”

“Right? Don’t we?”

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“Lies.”

At Elyss’s reply, Lucienne’s head drooped in jest. When she raised her head once more, her dejection was nowhere to be seen.

It took a while for Lavitte’s negotiations with Jerome to finish up, but finally Jerome and his men worked together to move the unconscious badger onto their wagon, tying the huge beast down with their own rope. They returned the ones already on to Lavitte before rolling off toward the city, leaving Lavitte behind with a slip of paper in his hands.

“What’s that?” Camilla asked, pointing at the paper.

Lavitte had been looking into the distance at the rapidly shrinking transportation wagon and when Camilla came up behind him, he jumped. “Woah!” The paper in his hands went crunch.

Realizing what he had done, he quickly began to smooth it out. “…you scared me.”

“I guess. Sorry?”

“No problem. This is a note of completion. I need it to retrieve the money held in escrow at the guild,” he said. He pushed flat the last of the wrinkles as best as he could before folding and stowing it away.

“What guild?”

It was another question with an answer that should’ve probably been obvious, but Lavitte had gotten used to them to the point that he barely raised an eyebrow. “Think of it as a center of operations for us hunters.”

Camilla tried to imagine something like that, but failed. There wasn’t enough information, really.

“Once we get into the city, I can take you,” he offered.

“In that case, thank you in advance.”

“Hey, no problem. But you really angered someone you shouldn’t have. I mean, I know you’re a vampire lord and all, but…”

Camilla interrupted him before he could go on much further. “It’s fine. If all goes to plan, we won’t stay for long anyways, and besides, I didn’t do anything and there are many witnesses that can attest. Rather than us, will you be fine for associating with us?”

“Despite appearances, he’s…fair. Even if he can’t do anything to you, the farthest he’ll go is admit defeat. We won’t be affected.”

“That’s a relief.” She’d hate it if Lavitte and his party got targeted by that vampire as a result of her actions before. Life would be easier if she only had to worry about cleaning after her own mess and not having to worry about that mess affecting others.

Sadly, things in life rarely go the way she wants.

“Let’s keep going?”

Lavitte nodded. “In a way, we’re your hosts so it’s my responsibility to get you settled here for now. Also, show you around. For now, we have the teleporter and the guild, and a place to stay, is that right?”

“A money changer is there’s one, please.”

“Done,”’ he said.

And so, the plans were decided without any input from the rest of either side’s party. Camilla smiled as she imagined the reactions if she did ask. A bunch of “don’t cares,” probably. Actually, she couldn’t imagine anything else other than maybe Elyss, and that’s because Elyss was much more likely to mock her and say something like “you can’t even make such a simple decision by yourself?”

Charming, but that’s just Elyss.

Camilla’s party followed Lavitte’s the rest of the way through the outskirts, making their way to the walls. The large gate remained open with a few guards standing by. Camilla half expected to be stopped, but Lavitte showed no signs of stopping.

In the end, they passed through without much trouble, and only Elyss received a second glance from the guards. But seeing that there was a woman and two adolescents riding atop the giant lion, they said nothing.

“Security is lax here, isn’t it?”

“Is it really? If anyone makes trouble, they can deal with it,” Lavitte said. “For the average troublemakers, they’re more than enough. Anything they can’t deal with is taken care of by a mobilization of the Dianene Guards.”

“I see…” Camilla said. “But don’t you need to match criminals together? What about taxes and entrance fees?”

Lavitte laughed at that. “Catching criminals? Please, most of us can’t tell the difference between members of another race. We’re fine. Humans are fine, and so are most vampires; we look alike enough that we can still spot differences . But what about beastmen?”

At this moment, Kagriss cut in. “Could they not put a member of the most prominent races in each shift? There looks to be a decent amount of beastmen here.”

Looking around, while the vampires were the clear majority, the rest of the population seemed to be made up of mainly elves, dwarves, a few orcs, and a lot of beastmen of different types. There were other races, of course, but five dominated the population.

“You could, but like I said, it’s not really a priority. Peacekeeping is for the Dianene Guard. Those at the front are just for a show of strength and make sure there’s no trouble just outside.

“As for entrance fees, the city has enough economic flow from other sectors to make up for the lack of incoming from that sphere. You’ll see what I mean.”


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