|Author: Sasaki Ichiro||Original Source: Syosetu||Word Count: 2202 characters|
|Translator: Tanaka||English Source: Re:Library||Word Count: 918 words|
The Yuz Grand Duchy originally began as a territory granted to the younger brother of Cent’luna’s founding king, who governed it as a Margrave. Following a typical family feud, it declared independence around 200 years ago.
Many of the historical records were lost during the family conflict, but this nation was entrusted with a crucial task. That is, ‘Guard the hidden treasure of Cent’luna, and ensure it never emerges into the light.’
This mission, passed down through the generations of the Grand Duke’s family, essentially defined the very existence of the Yuz Grand Duchy.
However, with each passing generation, this task became more of a symbolic tradition. Alongside their recent defeat, power shifted from Baldum, a direct-line descendant well-versed in this legend, to a branch family with only a cursory knowledge of it. This unforeseen development marked an end to that chapter in history.
“……Not this again.”
A man’s sigh echoed as he decapitated a lesser vampire with a pale-blue skin that had emerged from the ground. The vampire, garbed in ragged clothing and exuding an aura akin to a corpse, attempted to attack the man. The man assured its demise by striking its heart.
Immediately, the vampire’s body disintegrated into ash, causing its grotesque mouth and protruding fangs to vanish from the severed head. It was clear the vampire had once been a common villager. Its head then tumbled to the ground, eventually dissolving into ash as well.
“How many does that make now?”
The man, or more accurately, Maroudo, queried, his exhaustion evident even behind his mask. I sighed and replied,
“That’s the… 22nd one since we crossed the border.”
“…… I apologize. They were once humans, after all.”
Maroudo’s remorse was palpable, although it was understandable. It was challenging to keep track of them all. Devoid of any reason, these lesser vampires acted on their primal bloodlust alone.
Moreover, they primarily targeted me, perhaps perceiving me as a weaker opponent, which was somewhat unfair… or rather, more bothersome than their indiscriminate assault.
“—I assume he’s probably a fourth-generation descendant of the original vampire? Maybe if he were from an earlier generation, like a second-generation descendant, they’d realize I’m not their meal.”
“No, no. Princess is certainly tempting enough to feast upon. But in a more… erotic sense.”
Without a word, I whirled around and swiftly swept ‘Gilles de Rais’ in my hand towards Maroudo, who stood behind me. However, he nimbly sidestepped the attack.
—Tsk. He must have anticipated my reaction, maintaining a safe distance as he spoke, ready to evade.
“……Anyway, isn’t this the ideal time for the Cathedral’s Crusaders to launch their campaign?”
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Maroudo posed the question as he held his right hand to his brow, as though he was gazing at the impressive spectacle of 5000 Cathedral’s Crusaders from the Holy Kingdom of Aeon, the renowned most powerful knight order, beyond the horizon – a sight that even my vampiric eyes couldn’t perceive from this distance.
“It’s startling that the Holy Kingdom, known for its slow responses, has swiftly deployed their elite force. Although it’s not entirely surprising considering their gradually diminishing influence over the Empire’s affairs ever since Prime Minister Warren’s mysterious disappearance. I wonder if they intend to reclaim their dominance by spearheading this crisis…”
“Who can say? There’s no question that the Prime Minister’s faction must have pleaded with the Holy Kingdom to help them regain their footing after losing their intellectual leader. Yet, even with this in mind, the rapid mobilization of their forces is peculiar, as if they were prepared and simply awaiting an opportunity. Even Oliana found it suspicious.”
“I see. Their readiness is indeed remarkable. —Could it be that Warren’s disappearance was part of their strategy?”
As he stroked his chin thoughtfully, Maroudo proposed this theory, tilting his head in contemplation. A wry grin slipped onto my face.
“Since when did you become a proponent of conspiracy theories? It would be too risky for them to assassinate a prominent figure, devastate an entire nation, and transform all its citizens into vampires, all for the sake of demonstrating their power. Well, May Bell agreed with my view, but she suggested that it might not be completely unconnected to them, given that deploying troops usually requires approval from their supreme leader, the Great Pope… Oh, and she also added, ‘That fool surely can’t make decisions independently. Someone must be pulling the strings behind the scenes, but we don’t have enough information to piece together the puzzle, so nothing is definitive at this stage.'”
In this context, ‘that fool’ is of course the Great Pope of the Holy Kingdom. It appears she has no love lost for him.
“I see. But putting that aside, so the Imperial army is going to guard the border and provide support to the Holy Kingdom?”
“It seems that way. I’ve also sent my own forces to monitor Cres’ border, but due to this, May Bell is now grappling with the mounting costs.”
On Cres’ side, ‘Strong Arm’ Acheron, the leader of the tigerkin tribe, is commanding thousands of troops. Apart from them, Imperial Crimson has dispatched the Seven Beasts of Calamity, a raid unit, and the second of the Thirteen Demon Generals, Izumo, along with his covert unit and several dozen angels from the Imperial Guard regiment (Well, it’s physically impossible to entirely secure the border so that not even an ant can pass through, so the current members were selected with an emphasis on mobility and communication to maintain the defensive line).