|Author: The Sole Survivor||Original Source: SFACG|
|Translator: CatatoPatch||English Source: Re:Library|
Before the events of the Vampire slaying…
Leeder watched with a heavy heart as Mo Ke and the others rode off into the distance. Yet he wasn’t the only one that day that had a heavy heart, the villagers watching with him did as well. In actuality, there were a lot of unusual points about the Vampire’s incursion. Perhaps the other villagers might not have noticed, but as the interim village chief, he had to be more observant than the ordinary villagers.
For example: why did the Vampire even attack them to begin with? Lyon wasn’t the only village within a fifteen kilometer radius, there were at least two others with a population of several hundreds. Logically speaking, the resistance he would face in these villages would be a lot less than what he faced in a large village like theirs. So why did the Vampire even attack them to begin with?
It was a strange choice, to be sure. Furthermore, since the two months he started attacking this village, he hadn’t targeted any of the other villages. And he only took one victim with him, no more, no less.
The Vampire’s motives clearly weren’t just about hunting prey or raising livestock. If he wanted to capture livestock for himself, there was no way he would ever allow the villagers to get wind of his activities. After all, Lyon had sent three expeditions to slay him because they had managed to get word of his activities. Rather than filling his belly with blood, it would make more sense to say that his actions were aimed at terrorizing the village.
Before Mo Ke, the previous village chief had sent out three waves of mercenaries, even losing his life in the last wave. After each wave, the Vampire would change the location of his nest, so Leeder did not know the exact location of the nest. Initially, he planned to mobilise the villagers to help track down the nest of the Vampire, in a bid to curry some favour with Mo Ke. Yet who would have thought that before he could even make the suggestion, Regine and Reyage had already brought back news of the Vampire’s exact location.
With that plan now dashed against the rocks, Leeder was more than a little concerned about his well-being. After all, Mo Ke was a monster who could easily order the slaughter of ninety people without batting an eye -ninety lives!
Even though he was a bandit, the amount of people he had killed wasn’t many. Certainly not ninety in one go; he was after their money, not their lives. Other than killing off some of their more persistent targets and harassing some beautiful women, Leeder felt his crimes weren’t that bad at all. For the most part, he saw his actions as means of survival.
Normally, when their village faced such a major problem, the lord of the land should at least dispatch some emissaries to inquire about the situation. Yet none were forthcoming. Leeder himself was sure that they had never robbed anything resembling an emissary’s entourage. The villagers never mentioned the arrival of any such personage either. Did the Vampire capture the emissary? Or was there never an emissary to begin with?
At the start, his plan was to just run away to the city and settle down after his first robbery. Unfortunately, the members of his bandit troupe still had family members they were concerned about in Lyon so that plan didn’t pan out in the end. Plus, he himself had a father to avenge. That was what led to them staying behind. None of them expected then that this fateful decision would lead them to the disaster known as Mo Ke.
However, all that wasn’t important now. Mo Ke was now off to find trouble with the Vampire. Whether he succeeded in slaying that Vampire or whether he ended up being killed by that Vampire, he was happy either way. To some degree, he was trying to comfort himself: perhaps if Mo Ke died, his parasite spiders would die along with him as well. And if they didn’t, hopefully Mo Ke would be able to slay that Vampire.
By now, Mo Ke’s entourage had disappeared into the horizon. Leeder chased away the gloomy thoughts in his head with a shake. Yet, somehow, he felt tired. Even though he had just woken up, he wanted nothing more than to go home and sleep.
But just as he was about to reach his home, an old wizened voice called out to him.
“Leeder, come here for a moment.”
“Granny Adele?” Leeder turned in the direction of the voice to find a hunchback old lady standing in front of her home, waving in his direction. She wore a relatively clean, set of black robes that obscured her hair with its hood. The only parts of her that were visible were her wrinkled face and shrivelled hands that resembled a chicken’s feet.
“Good lad. Come over here quickly, and have a seat with your granny.
Leeder was quite familiar with this old lady. She was a kind lady that often gave sweets to the children of the village. When he was young, he himself was given some of her handmade treats; till now, he still couldn’t forget how delicious they were.
Having entered her home, Leeder found himself an available seat and sat down, back faced against the wall. “Granny, you were looking for me?”
Granny Adele poured some hot water into a cup then handed it to him. “They have gone to slay the Vampire?”
“Mhm.” Leeder absentmindedly answered the question, following which he gulped down a mouthful of the liquid. It was piping hot, as you would expect. The drink itself was bitter at first but left a sweet aftertaste in the mouth. It was tea made from the Sorrel Herb. The poor weren’t able to afford coffee beans so they often used this herb to serve their guests instead.
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Upon drinking the tea, Leeder’s anxiety finally calmed down.
“Do you think they will succeed this time?” Granny Adele smiled at him from the side.
“I think so…” As he said that, Leeder couldn’t help but remember the frightening display of prowess brought to bear against his bandits. The more he thought about that almost miraculous monster summoned out of pure flames, the more he felt sure that the Vampire was doomed and that salvation had come to his village.
“They will definitely succeed.”
“That’s right, they will definitely succeed.”
Regardless of whether or not he had a parasitic spider in his belly right now, the Vampire was a problem that had to be solved sooner or later. Even if the villagers were strong of will, it was only a matter of time before they collapsed mentally from living under the thumb of that Vampire. Not to mention the fact that the villagers already had their hopes dashed thrice. If Leeder who was a Four-star was already about to give up, those ordinary villagers weren’t going to fare any better.
“What about Ludean and the others who left with you?” Perhaps Granny Adele had sensed the unease in his voice, but she suddenly changed the topic. “In the past, everyone who left with you would return together, so why do I only see the eight of you this time?”
“Ludean and the rest… are busy outside. They won’t be returning anytime soon…”
Ludean was one of the bandits slain by Mo Ke. Being reminded of him all of a sudden also brought up memories of how he was force fed a spider, bringing a bout of cold sweat to him.
Noticing this as well, Granny Adele continued asking, “Busy? Shouldn’t they return with you? And isn’t it too much of a coincidence that all ninety one of them suddenly became busy together?”
“Haha… that’s just how it is sometimes with coincidences… I can’t help it as well. We struck a really good deal this time, once they all return, we will all be rich… the village as well… we can rebuild the village and everyone will have a better life…”
Leeder didn’t dare reveal the death of Ludean yet, so he had no choice but to come up with a random story to explain their absence.
“Oh?” Granny Adele smiled knowingly at him. “They’ve gone to settle a business deal then? Here I was thinking that they were all dead.”
“…” The moment the word dead left her mouth, his already anxious expression practically collapsed. “Granny… they really are just out doing business…”
“Fine, we will leave it at that for now. But how do you explain that insect in your body right now?” Her lips cracked into a smirk at that point. “Don’t tell me you swallowed it by accident?”
“Granny… you… how did you know…” Leeder stared in shock at the granny whom he had always passed off as being kind and affable. Suddenly, a terrifying realisation dawned upon him, one that sent a shiver down his spine just thinking about it. He was afraid. Extremely afraid of the implications of his guess.
“Good children do not tell lies.” Granny Adele reached with her chicken claw-like hands and ruffled his hair. “Be good now. Tell your granny what you went through in the past two days.”
Leeder instinctively tried to back away from her hands but found, to his horror, that he couldn’t move at all. Other than speaking, there was nothing he could now, as if he had lost control of his body entirely. He could only sit there woodenly on the chair, stiff as a corpse.
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“Relax, you’re one of the children granny watched growing up, she will never hurt you.” Having said that, Granny Adele went back to her seat. However, the words she said next were anything but harmless. “O silly me, I almost forgot… That tea I served you just now had something inside it… but what was it… your granny must be getting old herself… but you shouldn’t die from it…”
As Leeder stared at this familiar yet foreign old lady before him, his heart was strangely devoid of any fear now. More accurately, it was dead. If even this kind old granny who had watched him grow up couldn’t be trusted, who else could be trusted?
Leeder really did not want to die… even though the past two days were a living hell for him… perhaps this was his retribution for being a bandit? It was at that moment that Leeder suddenly had this thought that perhaps dying to Mo Ke that day would have been more merciful.
However, that thought only lasted for a split second. He wasn’t one to give up so easily. At the very least, he wanted to struggle to the bitter end. He bit down on his teeth and asked, “Who are you exactly?”
“Who am I isn’t important right now. What’s important is whether you wish to die or not?”
“I…” He bit down on his teeth once more then answered with a firm shake of his head, “do not.”
“Then listen to your granny, she will protect you.” She broke into a grin that somehow seemed even more eerie than everything she had done before. “After all, you’re the child that granny watched growing up.”
Following that, Granny Adele began explaining what her plan was, no longer harping on the issue of what happened to Ludean. “I had initially thought that only the Demon Hunters would be coming. Umbra would have easily killed them if that was the case. Too bad that strange bunch appeared instead… Oh, right. Umbra is that Vampire who caused you all this misery -a very handsome lad. Their expedition to slay him is bound to succeed. Once they return, you need to help your granny delay them…”
The more Leeder heard about this plan, the more the dread in his heart grew. Finally, he couldn’t help but interrupt her. “But granny, my body still has that insect left by that woman. I’m afraid…”
“Don’t worry, I’ve seen that child. She might be spiteful, but she’s not coldhearted. As long as you treat them well, and then plead with her on the night of their departure, she would definitely take out the insect.”
“But… granny… they are still the saviors of the village… if we were to do this… wouldn’t that be…”
“Oh? So you’re saying you want to die then?” Granny Adele flashed him a hair-raising smile at that point.
Once more, Leeder was reminded that the old lady in front of him wasn’t the kind, old granny he thought she was. Instead, she was a vicious old hag. From her wrinkled smile alone, he could sense a firmness that wouldn’t hesitate in the slightest to kill him. In that case, he could only find some excuse to explain his words. “No, no. I was trying to say what if she doesn’t remove the insect?”
“Isn’t that what you have your granny for? If some young girl can stick an insect inside you, there’s no way your granny wouldn’t be able to remove it, is there?”
“Be good now. Just based on age alone, your granny here definitely has more experience torturing people than that young girl. You wish to try it out?”
“Good. Then fetch your other seven friends.” Granny Adele went back to being a kind grandma once more. “Granny has plenty of tea and treats waiting for them. In fact, it has been a while since you guys visited granny, hasn’t it?”
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In the end, Leeder agreed to Granny Adele’s plan. Even if he tried to refuse, those friends of his would probably still accept Granny Adele’s invitation since they were none the wiser. The difference was that if Granny Adele had to invite them herself, he would become obsolete…
Not daring to waste any time, he immediately set out to find his seven friends, all the while apologising to them in his heart in a bid to somehow lessen his guilt…
Watching Leeder’s figure disappear through the door, Granny Adele smiled to herself. “So that’s the famous ice queen, huh… Seems like we caught a big fish this time… Let’s just hope that lord can hold his own in front of Aques Lumen… 100,000 gold coins isn’t easy to come by after all…”
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