|Author: TypeAxiom||Original Source: Scribble Hub|
“Are you surprised? Are you in awe? Yes, I am an undead. I am also a vampire!” Carmen said, grinning. “But above all, I am…hmmm…guess!”
“Guess! Guess who I am!” Carmen said.
Arvel snapped out of his daze. “I haven’t the slightest idea…”
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Carmen sighed. Arvel really was no fun. Perhaps she acted too out of character. Certainly, after she turned into something like this, she had become a lot more emotive, whereas she admitted that she was kind of stuffy and duty oriented before…Well, it wasn’t Arvel’s fault.
It didn’t help that she kind of felt like giggling now that the moment of truth was near.
“Fine. Well then be sure to keep your wits about you, for I am none other than…” Carmen paused for effect. “Carmen!”
Her voice was swiftly absorbed into the forest, but not before scaring away a few birds that had been perched on nearby branches. Arvel was looking at her incredulously, and for a moment Carmen thought that her reveal was going to end in such a boring fashion.
However, the Gods did not forsake her. Arvel’s face changed, tiny bits at a time until his eyeballs looked about to pop out of his eye sockets.
“Are you surprised? Are you in awe? I bet you never expected that, but too bad for you, I’m back,” Carmen cackled. “So? Did I catch you off guard?”
Okay, she had been a bit too sudden. There wasn’t enough buildup, because Arvel’s reaction was nowhere as entertaining as she thought it’ll be. Instead, the priest’s eyes reddened and a few teardrops fell out the corners of his eyes, running down his nose and cheeks.
“Oh…” Okay, crying was something Carmen didn’t expect.
“Is it really you, Carmen?” Arvel said, his voice choking. But soon, he shook his head, wiping his tears and took a step back, putting up his guard once more. “No wait, who are you really? Why are you pretending to be Carmen?”
“I really am Carmen,” Carmen said, shrugging helplessly. Nothing was going to plan. She had been too optimistic. “How should I convince you? Oh, I know…”
Carmen put out her hand and, against all odds with her identity as an undead, created a ball of holy mana. “Purification.”
This was something that Arvel clearly knew to be impossible for any undead, until now with the encounter with Orlog. However, Carmen was clearly not a monster, or so she thought.
“So…you’re the same type of undead as Orlog? Just humanoid and can speak, eh…no wonder you just happened to be here.”
Urk. Okay, she really had underestimated the difficulty. Fleur and Anne were much easier to convince, but Arvel by contrast was proving to be a really tough nut to crack.
Carmen ended the spell, letting the remainder of the holy light fade. “Well, whatever. I’m Carmen, even if you say I’m not. So what should I do to prove my truthfulness?” She tossed the torch over to Arvel.
Picking up the figurative torch, Arvel seemed to drop his guard slightly. Carmen’s sincerity must have shown through. After considering his options for a bit, he nodded towards her.
“Tell me something that only Carmen would know.”
Carmen almost groaned. This was exactly the kind of test that she had been trying to avoid, since being put on the spot and forced to pick out random events from a sea of memories was not something she enjoyed. But since it’s come to that, she thought about the question seriously.
Finally, she came up with an answer. “You keep your savings in a safe behind the headboard of your bed.” That should be enough, right?
Arvel’s eyes widened, but then he shook his head. “No, not yet. Fleur knew about this as well. I don’t know how you managed to charm her, but you could’ve had her tell you. Again.”
“Really?” Carmen grumbled. “Then…ah ha. You once blew up the old man’s cross trying to extract holy mana on it, and then pinned the blame on Caesar. Is that good enough?”
Arvel shook his head. “Fleur knew that too.”
“Are you serious? You told Fleur something that’s enough to get you sent to the outpost? Urgh…fine. I chopped your pinky off and you almost failed to reconnect it.” She watched Arvel’s face intently.
However, aside from a grimace from the memory, he shook his head again.
“Is there anything you don’t tell Fleur?” Carmen sucked in a breath, trying to remember. There should be plenty of things, but when she tried to recall a random event, they continued to elude them.
Suddenly, she realized something. “Wait, you’re messing with me, aren’t you? The third one is something you’d tell Fleur because it’s funny, but the first one is kind of random unless it’s just in case you die or something. But the second one is definitely not something you tell, considering you made me swear. You b̲a̲s̲t̲a̲r̲d̲!”
Carmen gritted her teeth as she realized that she’s been played. The more she talked, the more Arvel’s serious poker face degenerated into a twisted one that tried its best to not break into laughter. And at the last insult she hurled, the dam finally broke as Arvel threw back his head, pointed at Carmen, and laughed.
“Oh, you b̲a̲s̲t̲a̲r̲d̲. That wasn’t very nice!”
“And you trying to surprise me was very nice? Pfft…hahaha!” Arvel said, laughing as he held his stomach and wheezed. “I was just…getting…you back…pfft….”
Carmen rolled her eyes. She walked up and kicked him in the stomach, sending him stumbling backwards onto the forest floor, but all it did was let him roll around laughing just as hard as before, if not even harder.
“Hahahaha! And…look at…you…what’s with that…appearance? Heeheeheehahahaha haaa…! Ow ow, my stomach. It hurts!”
Carmen kicked him again. “Die in pain.”
And that’s that. She tried to trick Arvel and got tricked instead. It was always like that. It was time to end her friendship with Arvel. He was too smart for his own good. She kicked him one last time. “Hey, get up. You’re getting your robes dirty.”
When he didn’t listen, Carmen reached down and dragged him to his feet before shaking him back and forth until the broken sounds of laughing finally disappeared. However, tears still ran down the corners of Arvel’s eyes and his chest continued to spasm.
But at least he wasn’t laughing so obnoxiously anymore. She sighed in relief.
When Arvel finally composed himself, Carmen let him go and he swayed a little on his feet, spent from his laughing fit. When he managed to steady himself, he looked up at Carmen with his face a mixture of seriousness and amusement.
“What happened? How did you come to look like that? Wasn’t your campaign against the vampires?”
There it was, the question. Playtime was over. Carmen nodded. “Yes, it was. Basically everything you heard from the survivors were true. We lost. A lot of us got captured, but I think I was the only one captured alive.”
“Wait, what do you mean captured alive? How can you capture someone who’s dead?” Arvel asked. “Unless…”
“Correct.” To be honest, Carmen had always been kind of suspicious about Victoria’s claim that her subordinates were alive…but only in some respects. She was being so vague that in hindsight, Carmen couldn’t really take her seriously.
It was only after really spending time with Kagriss that she finally accepted that Victoria had probably meant that everyone was alive, or more like not dead. They had become undead, lively “impures” by the standards of the undead at Amaranthine Point.
To Carmen, that was good enough now, since at least she’ll get to meet once again with people that she had thought were dead—well, gone, since they had been dead until Victoria got to them.
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Wasn’t that amusing? Perhaps in the future, she’ll be an undead templar leading an army of undead soldiers formerly of the Church. It was kind of funny in a grim way.
“So everyone else died and became undead, but—”
Carmen shook her head, cutting him off. “Not everyone. Probably just some of the higher ups…the captains and commanders that Victoria assumed were close to me. It wouldn’t be worth it for her to revive all those rank and file soldiers after all.”
“Ah. Is that so?” The atmosphere suddenly became sober as Arvel closed his eyes, seemingly giving prayers once more to the people they lost in that war. “So what happened to you? I assume Victoria is a vampire? You…seem close to her.”
“She’s my mother.” Carmen shrugged. It was natural that she’s close to Victoria…like hell. But then again, Victoria didn’t really wrong her proactively. “Yeah…she’s my mother now. Victoria was the one that turned me into a vampire.”
She paused, checking for Victoria’s scrying through her bloodline, but felt nothing, so she continued.
“Apparently it’s possible to temporarily resist vampirification, but the consequence is death. In the process of turning into a vampire, I resisted the transformation and died. Then I was probably sent to a random graveyard to be revived, and the one I landed in happened to be Fleur’s, and you know the rest of the story. I evolved in Amaranthine Point and now I’m here.”
Arvel didn’t say anything after that. He was probably processing everything that he had just learned. Instead of palming that defensive charm crystal, Arvel was now playing with a small pentagram, tossing it up and catching it, flipping it around his fingers.
After a while, he caught the little trinket, clenching it. “So…whose side are you on now?”
Carmen smiled, even laughed a little. It was just like Arvel to think everything through, skipping a few questions that most people would ask, since he could already anticipate the answers.
And in standard Arvel fashion, he went straight to the point. Carmen looked up at the sky, having already thought out her answer, but not really knowing how to word it.
Some things were just difficult, especially when it came to rather abstract things like feelings. There was also the part about taking sides, which Carmen didn’t really want to do. However, she also knew that if she didn’t take a side now, then in the future the choice will be made for her.
“The side I’m on…is not the humans’ side.”
Arvel showed no sign of surprise at her answer, yet he still asked the question that Carmen expected. “Are you really Carmen?”
Unlike before, Carmen knew that Arvel was dead serious this time. He was no longer playing around, pretending to not know who she was. Carmen shook her head. “No. Carmen is dead. I’m Camilla, former templar, an undead, and most of all, a vampire.”
I reject my humanity, Arvel!