No Hero Volume 4: The Ancient Vampire Castle
Original novel in Chinese by: 御我(Yu Wo)
The Lost Files of the Ancient Castle Chapter 4: Melody, the Symphony Woven from Joy and Sorrow—translated by clrfction (proofread by Arcedemius & Lala Su; C/E edited by Amgine & lucathia)
Melody-jiě is going around telling everyone about An Xiang Ye and Charles’s special relationship.
But I don’t believe any of it, and it doesn’t look the others do either, because all An Xiang Ye does is snuggle with Briar all day. He acts like a complete pedophile!
I warned Briar to stay away from An Xiang Ye, but she just laughed and said An Xiang Ye just likes to snuggle in general. Then, she actually dragged me to his room… his bed was covered with plush toys! The bookshelves were stocked with fairy tales! There were also rubber duckies in the bathroom! Even the soap was shaped like a little turtle!
Can’t you at least play with robots and use monster-shaped soap?
An Xiang Ye. What are you, a twelve-year-old girl?
Late at night, while Dark Sun was out pursuing bank robbers, I took the time to call Sadina, mostly to tell her about the traitor, though I also mentioned meeting Gong Feng Xiang and receiving the video.
“There’s a traitor in the family?”
“Yes,” I replied, “that is what the deceased family member from the plane said.”
The other end was silent for a while. Sadina sighed faintly and said, “Cousin, don’t come home anymore. I’ll send someone to protect you.”
I paused for a second, and asked, “What about you?”
“I will stay with the family to find the traitor, or find the entire Endelis clan and take care of them once and for all!”
I will not be seeing Sadina. I sighed in relief, but then, I thought of how I might never see Sadina with her eyes open again… It stung a little in my heart. I tried to convince her, “Sadina, there is no need to start a war between the two families because of me…”
She yelled at me, “Shut up! If you want to give me orders, return and take back your role as the family head! Besides, this doesn’t count as a war between two families. The Endelis clan aren’t even worthy of being called a rival of the Elysees family!”
True, which is why I do not want to witness a massacre. I could only make another attempt to persuade her. “Either way, it is too much to annihilate an entire clan.”
The Endelis clan is not a small clan. It includes dozens of vampires and many other non-humans. If Sadina were to take care of them once and for all, that would mean one to two hundred lives lost. Considering how the Elysees family could not avoid having any casualties either… A few hundred lives would be lost, all because of me. Is it worth it?
She responded coldly, “They tied you to a cross and tried to burn you alive under the sun. Now they’ve even sent you that video. Aren’t those actions crossing the line?”
I fell silent, thinking of that video. I really could not defend the Endelis clan any longer. They forced me to recall the most unbearable memory from my past. I even lost composure because of it, and said so many rude words to the young master… Even though the young master never mentioned the incident in the following days, I still felt terribly remorseful. The young master was still young. He should not have to think about matters such as death.
“Cousin,” Sadina began in an imploring tone, “can you let me do what needs to be done? I am old, and I don’t have much time left to protect you. I cannot peacefully leave this world if I don’t annihilate the Endelis clan.”
Don’t mention leaving… I clutched the receiver tightly, and managed to squeeze out with difficulty, “I have been causing you trouble all this time.”
After an extended silence, she finally said, “Sorry, I shouldn’t have mentioned…”
“Do not worry about it.” I interrupted and continued with a smile, “Do whatever you want! Either way, you have been disobedient ever since you were a little girl. Who am I to tell you what to do?”
Sadina chuckled softly for a while before speaking again. “Has Curtis’s performance thus far been acceptable? I did not teach the child myself, so I am honestly quite worried. Even though his teachers all gave him very high scores, numbers can only tell you so much. They can’t compare to real situations, especially since that child has always been very stoic. He has barely even smiled after his parents died in a car crash.”
I rushed to reassure her, “Do not worry. He has been very good, even though he is inexperienced, and indeed does not smile… However, many employers prefer stoic butlers, so in the future, Curtis will surely become a wonderful butler, too.”
Sadina smiled as if she had a heavy load lifted off her shoulders and sighed. “Thank goodness, because I don’t really have any other candidates for the next steward.”
Hearing the term “steward” once again, I could not help but ask, “Why not give the position of official family head to Curtis? Sadina, I sincerely wanted to give the official position to you back then, not for you to become the substitute. Even now, I have no intention of reclaiming the position.”
“And I hold the same opinion as back then. Unless it’s as a substitute, I refuse to manage the family for you,” Sadina stated resolutely. She then continued in a low voice, “Curtis is my grandchild, so he isn’t a true Elysees either. How could I leave the official position of family head to him?”
To think Sadina still cared about such matters…
The Elysees were never a large family, probably because the generations all practiced being butlers, and a truly responsible butler does not have much time to also attend to his or her own family.
By my father’s generation, those in the family who truly had Elysees blood only included him and his sister, who was my aunt and also Sadina’s mother. But my aunt had poor health ever since she was young, so she could not bear children. Moreover, she was over forty years old by the time she married my uncle, so she was unsuited to have children anyway. In short, she actually was not Sadina’s biological mother. Sadina was my uncle’s child with his ex-wife.
Even so, my aunt had always treated Sadina like her own child. She would not even let anyone mention in front of her that Sadina was not her biological child.
“Speaking of that, when are you going to change your name? You are Charles Elysees, not Charles Endelis!”
I began to explain out of habit, “Father promised Madam Avexila back when….”
Sadina’s temper flared noticeably as she said, “Who cares about keeping promises for the likes of Avexila?!”
I replied wryly, “Moreover, I have become accustomed to using this name, so why must you force me to change it?”
“Cousin, you are the sole remaining member of the family who still carries the Elysees bloodline, the last of the Elysees! Yet your family name is not Elysees. How ironic is that?”
That is exactly why I do not want to change my name. If I truly wanted to leave the position of family head to Sadina, I could not be going around using the name “Elysees” to remind everyone that I still carry the bloodline.
It is pretty much settled that Sadina would not accept the official title, but Curtis is the next in line, and surely he would not be satisfied with only being a substitute forever. When everyone forgets that I am the last Elysees, and when no one else in the family carries the bloodline, then Curtis can accept the official title without contention.
Perhaps in the near future, the Elysees family will be replaced by the Christopher family. It would not be too late to change my name then.
I turned around to look, and the door was shoved open. Melody leaned on the door frame. That was not surprising, since she was the only one in this apartment who opened doors like that. However, her situation seemed a bit strange. She wore a considerably elegant purple and black gown that was extremely old fashioned. No one wore dresses like that anymore.
Even though the gown was very elegant, the owner was drunk as a skunk. Nothing that relates to the word “elegant” whatsoever.
“Sadina, I will call you back later.” I rushed through the sentence and hung up quickly.
Melody walked in, wobbling as if she would fall over at any time, but she somehow made it in front of me in one piece and asked, “Butler, who were you calling?”
“My cousin.” I looked down at Melody. She really was acting weirdly today. Aside from the old-fashioned gown, she had also put her hair up in a bun, also in a style so outdated that no woman would ever use it these days. She had only put on minimal makeup, which was a large departure from her usual appearance with bright red lips.
“Oh…the one who likes you?” Melody choked out a laugh, poked me in the chest, and then accused, “Say, why don’t you get together with her? Is she too old for you? Men are all like this…”
“I am a vampire. She is a human,” I explained simply. She should have understood that. Instead, Melody began to laugh uncontrollably. I sighed and said, “Melody, you are drunk. I will take you back to your metal cabin!”
“I don’t want to sleep!” Melody insisted stubbornly. After saying that, she even clung onto me, making sure to grab my arms, so I could not carry her back.
Being so close to her, I could clearly smell the scent of alcohol on her, so strong that she smelled like she was a bottle of vodka herself. If she were human instead of a vampire, she would probably have gotten alcohol poisoning already.
“Melody… please let go.” I looked at her helplessly. “I must go prepare the young master’s midnight snack. He might return any moment now.”
It was hard to tell whether she had heard me or not, as she did not reply. She did, however, loosen her hold slightly and place her hands on my waist instead. Then, she pressed her face into my chest. This made me even more uncomfortable, not because of the hugging, but because the Melody I knew was not someone who cuddled meekly with men.
Even if she does cuddle occasionally, should it not be with the master or First Wind? Why is she suddenly embracing me?
“Butler, let me ask you: do you believe in reincarnation?”
Reincarnation? I shook my head. “I do not have a religion.”
“Religion… hahaha! Me neither! What vampire would believe in religion? Hahaha… haha… ha!”
She laughed. She would not stop laughing, even when tears began to fall, even when the laughing turned into howling, even when she began to cry… crying with her faced buried in my chest, sobbing uncontrollably.
If I was uncomfortable moments earlier, then now I was terrified. Melody is actually crying?
In my terror, I finally remembered to offer a handkerchief. She snatched it and wiped her face roughly, then promptly tossed it to the ground. She went back to hugging me and muttered to herself, “But still, I must still believe there is such a thing, because if there is, maybe someday I can still meet him.”
Melody looked at me suddenly and asked bluntly, “Butler, you left your cousin because she’s human and will die soon, correct? Why not turn her into a vampire? Do you not have the courage to love her forever?”
Melody looked at me intently, determined to receive an answer. I did not expect her to ask this question and did not know how to answer, so I could only say, “There are many reasons…”
“Ah! Of course, there are always many reasons. When is that not the case?” She let out a humph and pushed me away, turning to look at the French windows, and began in a sweet-sounding tone. “He never had this many reasons. He just did what he wanted to, without any consideration for others’ feelings. Always the dictator!”
I sighed and said, “Melody, you really are drunk. Could you return to your metal cabin and get some sleep?”
She completely ignored what I said, turned around, and fired off another question. “Butler, if you hadn’t left your cousin back then, how long would you have had with her in total?”
I turned silent for a bit, but Melody kept glaring at me, as if she would not stop without receiving an answer, so I could only reply honestly. “Not long. Perhaps eighty to a hundred years.”
“Not long? Heh. Butler, did you know?” She advanced and continued overbearingly, “My lover was an immortal vampire. He gave me my First Kiss and turned me into a vampire so I could be with him forever… Take a guess. How long do you think I had with him?”
I smiled bitterly. “I do not know, two or three hundred years?”
“A year and a half.”
Melody announced the answer. I stared blankly. Tears fell out of her eyes, but she did not seem to notice. She simply continued expressionlessly, “Then, he died. The village where he hunted quite often asked the Church for help, and they sent in the Sin Elimination team. He was weak from giving me my First Kiss not long before, which used up too much of his blood ability, so he had no strength to defend himself. The Sin Elimination team didn’t even leave behind a speck of his dust.”
So that was it. I was not too surprised, though. Vampires being killed by the Church was nothing new. This was also the main reason vampires usually banded together in clans instead of wandering alone. No matter how strong a single vampire was, he or she was always weaker during the day. If a Sin Elimination team caught any hint of their movements, being turned into ashes and dust would be the only possible outcome.
“During that time, I hid in the closet. I couldn’t see, but I could hear. I covered my mouth desperately, because I couldn’t cry out. I listened to him die… the Church didn’t know of my existence, so they left after killing him.”
Hearing this, I could completely sympathize with how she felt at the time. When my father lay on his bed during his final days, I could only watch as his vitality slipped away, hearing the doctor say he only had a few months left… During those months, I wanted to cry every day, but I could only chat with my father with a smile on my face, because he said he was proud, that the son he raised had the best smile.
If I had the choice, I would rather be tied on the cross and die from overexposure to the sun than watch another loved one weaken day by day, and finally see them close their eyes forever, never to wake up again.
At this moment, Melody suddenly grabbed me by the collar, pulled me over, and growled at me. “Even though he and I were both immortal vampires, what does it matter? You’re such an idiot for leaving your cousin just because she can only live for a hundred years! Is a hundred years too short? I only had a year and a half to love him! In exchange for this year and a half, I’ve missed him for more than three hundred years… but I’ve never regretted meeting him, never regretted loving him!”
A year and a half… I have never regretted going home with father either, but at least I got to spend ninety years with him. Yet, Melody only had a year and a half, and she had to endure pain for more than three hundred years. If it were me, I probably would not have had the courage to choose that year and a half! I complimented her sincerely, “You are very brave.”
“Brave?” Melody laughed. “I’m not brave. When he died, I literally went insane. My only thought was revenge.”
I shook my head and said, “There is nothing to avenge. Humans just want to live. They did nothing wrong.”
“Wrong? This has nothing to do with right or wrong!” Melody gave me a look of disgust. This is not an expression she would normally make.
“Imagine a hunter in the mountains who ended up being killed by the boar he was hunting. Would the hunter’s wife or son say, ‘It’s not the boar’s fault. The boar was just trying to live’? No! They would gather the villagers, pick up all their weapons, and annihilate that boar! That’s exactly what I did. All those who killed him deserved to die!”
She let out an inhuman growl. “I slaughtered the entire village! Because to me, they were all boars who killed the man I loved! They called for the Church to come!”
“Perhaps your lover also killed someone else’s lover,” I tried to phrase it tactfully.
Upon hearing this, Melody laughed again, to the point of crying. She said as she laughed, “Charles Endelis, you really shouldn’t use the name Endelis. Go become an Elysees! You are not a vampire. Not because your father is human, or because you lived with a human family for more than fifty years. You aren’t a non-human because you’ve never slaughtered humans like pigs! Even if you go crazy, even if you turn to darkness, you still wouldn’t do it, right?”
I could not deny it. Even though I had killed humans before, and even though the number was not small, I had always had a reason. Actual reasons, more than simply to feed on humans.
In this age during which even murder among humans hardly required a reason, I really was an abnormal vampire. But father was very happy about this. Whenever someone told him his son was a dangerous vampire, he had always replied thusly, “My son is a vampire, but trust me, even a ten-year-old girl with a letter opener is more dangerous than him.”
Father said this for a reason. When ten-year-old Sadina first came to the family, other children used my being a vampire to scare her, so she ended up carrying a letter opener made of silver with her all the time.
The first time we met by chance in the hallway, she looked very scared. I tried to comfort her with a smile and squatted down to her level. Just as I went to stroke her head, she unexpectedly stabbed me right in the carotid artery with great accuracy. Silver making contact with blood combined with loss of a lot of blood caused me to faint almost immediately.
If other family members had not passed by and stopped her, she actually would have tried to stab me a few more times. Sadina admitted that to me later.
Father was very worried and angry at first, but after I recovered, he had Sadina bring a bouquet of flowers to express her apology. The card on the bouquet said, “To the vampire who nearly died at the hands of a ten–year-old girl.”
From then on out, Sadina was never scared of me again. The rest of the family seemed to also fear and avoid me less often.
“You treat humans as your own kind, so you can’t do it!”
My attention shifted back to Melody. She let go of my collar, took a few steps back, collapsed onto the sofa, and muttered. “Ever since I slaughtered people, I began to understand. The First Kiss itself did not change me into a vampire. It was the massacre that truly turned me into a non-human. You can only understand the difference between humans and non-humans after you have personally done so.”
If that is the case, I would rather never understand the difference between humans and non-humans.
“Speaking of which… When our young master flies into a rage, he can really kill humans as if they’re pigs.” She reclined on the sofa, covered her face, and laughed. “You and the young master, you two are so… hahaha!”
The laughter died down slowly, until finally, Melody fell silent and stopped moving, seemingly asleep. Suddenly, her hand slid off the sofa, and a necklace fell from the palm of her hand.
I bent down and picked up the necklace. It was a very classical-looking necklace with an oval pendant and an orchid design carved on the surface. Usually, these kinds of necklaces can be opened, since one can put pictures inside.
I opened it. Inside the locket was not a picture, but a drawing. The blond man wore a proud expression, and his face and aura were surprisingly similar to those of the master. There was also a line of text: Calanthe,1 my eternal love.
Looks like Melody is not her actual name. I closed the necklace and put it back around Melody’s neck. Then, I picked her up and walked toward her room.
As I closed the lid of the metal cabin, I remembered that I should be making the young master’s midnight snack… Then, I glanced over and saw an orchid flower on the lid of the metal cabin. Melody had always liked roses instead. Perhaps Melody is not Melody tonight, but Calanthe?
I could find no argument against what Calanthe had said. I claimed to be a vampire but have always lived with a human’s mindset and a human’s lifestyle.
She is right. I am not an Endelis… but she does not know that I am not an Elysees either.
I leaned on the metal cabin. Metal cabins isolate noise well, so Melody would not hear any outside disturbances. I whispered, “So what if I feel human? Humans treat me as a vampire, but non-humans think of me as half-human, or not a true non-human… I am affiliated with two families, but the Elysees family cannot recognize me openly, and I cannot agree with the Endelis clan.”
Humans and non-humans, separated into two sides with the use of the prefix “non,” yet I am standing right on the line, not on one side or the other, unable to go to either side.
Ring ring… ring… ring ring…
I pulled out the phone and took the call. “Charles Endelis speaking, who might this be?”
“It’s me! What took you so long to pick up?”
“Yue Gang?” I was a little surprised. Usually, I am the one who calls him, while he physically goes straight to the market to find me. “What is the matter? Are you already out of money for food, because you spent the ten thousand yuan I gave you on weapons?”
“What do you see me as? Some kind of weapons maniac?”
I replied with a faint smile, “Are you not?”
“Tsk! If I keep buying more weapons, I wouldn’t be able to pay you back even if I get my paycheck! Nope, didn’t buy anything! But… I really don’t have money for food. If you don’t save me with thirty thousand yuan, the shop owner is gonna harvest my liver to cover the debt!”
“…What did you eat?”
“Two cocktails, two side dishes, and a baguette.”
“You could take the shop owner to the police and sue him for extortion,” I suggested.
“If I could walk out of the shop, I would’ve done so already!” Yue Gang hurried to continue. “The shop owner won’t let me talk for much longer! Come save me quickly! Bring thirty thousand yuan to a bar called N/H on South Sunset Road.”
N/H? “What did you go to N/H… What did you go to a bar for?” I blurted out.
The other end hung up. I do not think Yue Gang did that voluntarily.
After thinking it through for a moment, I returned to my room and changed into my heavy traditional suit. However, I did not withdraw thirty thousand yuan. Instead, I leaped straight out of the French window in the living room and ran toward South Sunset Road along the walls of the building.
N/H is a members-only club, and Yue Gang could not possibly be a member, so he should not have even been able to get inside. But he had made it in today, and the shop owner swindled him. Add in the fact that he had called me… I suspect that this entire ordeal has nothing to do with Yue Gang. The true target is me.
But what would the owner of N/H want to do with me? Even though I had been to N/H quite a few times, I had never met its owner.
After running for about twenty minutes, I jumped from the walls to the street. There were not many people on the road, and the streets were only dimly lit. South Sunset Road was situated in the southern district of Sunset City. It was considered to be a rather unprosperous district, and the security was notoriously corrupt. Not many people lingered on the streets after sunset.
N/H was located on such a street. Its entrance was very nondescript. The front door was black, and the letters “N/H” were hung above the door. In contrast to the other shops’ neon-lighted signs, the “N/H” plaque was simply made of wood. In addition, there was no lighting around here, so at nighttime it was exceedingly difficult to notice, such that humans at least probably could not even see that there was a bar here.
I walked up to the door, which had an announcement attached that read, “Vampires’ Night, free entrance for all vampires.”
No doubt, this is targeted at me.
A card reader was on the black door. I pulled out my membership card from my wallet and swiped it. The door opened.
It is not difficult to become a member at N/H… At least, it was not difficult for me. One can become a member as long as they are a non-human.
N/H is an exclusively non-human bar.
I pushed open the door and entered. After climbing a long stretch of shaded stairs, a spacious hall appeared before my eyes. All four walls were made of glass, through which one could see outside. In the center of the hall was a round bar counter that gave off a faint white glow. The counter itself was made of very unique material. It was all transparent, with water flowing within and even fish swimming inside. It was like an aquarium.
Because the bar counter was glowing, its surroundings seemed very dim. At a glance, one could only see the outside scenery through the glass windows, except the southern district is not very affluent, so the lights were sparse, and the night scene was hardly pretty.
Even though the lighting was bad, I still knew that there were many seats, sofas, Baroque style tables and chairs, deluxe hardwood chairs, wicker chairs, the latest ergonomic chairs… such that non-humans of any generation could find their preferred seat. My personal favorite was the set of wooden chairs and table by the window.
The sound of giggling came from the darkness. “Oh my, look who’s here.”
“Why, it’s none other than the Angel’s butler!”
I blanked out for a second before realizing the Angel was referring to the young master. Looks like the young master is becoming more and more famous.
Looking around, I realized that there were actually not that many non-humans here tonight. Counting the waiters moving about, there were still fewer than twenty people. Perhaps the sign on the door about “Vampires’ Night” made other non-humans feel uneasy, so they simply chose to not come in. On the other hand, those who were here must be decently powerful, because they still chose to come in without avoiding the danger.
I walked straight toward the bar counter.
“Would you like to order a drink?” There was only one bartender at the bar, one I had never seen before. His skin gave off a dim glow, and his eyes were almost clear, with the barest hint of blue-gray. His aquamarine hair was very long, almost reaching down to his ankles.
I could not tell what species he was… Or perhaps it was a “she.” I could not even discern this non-human’s gender. I will treat him as a male for now.
He continued with a smile. “We have the freshest blood, in the form of young girls who would willingly let you feed on their bodies! Or perhaps you prefer boys? We can also provide the prettiest boys…ah! Not the prettiest, at least not as pretty as the Angel. Sincere apologies.”
The young master seems to be very famous among non-humans too, and that does not seem like a good thing. I was a little worried, but the priority at the moment was Yue Gang. I asked with honest intentions, “I am here to look for someone.”
“Oh?” He replied, smiling still. “What species?”
“You came to N/H to look for a human?” He laughed lightly and said, “You don’t really understand what ‘N/H’ means, do you, vampire?”
I kept calm. “Are you positive there are no humans here?”
He picked up a glass and poured in some bright red liquid, saying, “No, there is one. He barged in, ordered food, and can’t pay for it.”
I asked politely, “Why bother with the formalities? He should not have been able to ‘barge in.’ Besides, two cocktails and two side dishes should not cost thirty thousand yuan. Your target is me.”
He placed the glass on the counter with a grin. “Oops, I was seen through? Fine, I admit it. It was indeed to lure you out, Charles Endelis. By the way, this is freshly extracted blood. It’s still warm! Want a sip before it turns cold?”
He leaned forward a little with a grin on his face. “Perhaps the blood of a friend would be particularly tasty?”
Yue Gang… I clenched my fists, but kept my face expressionless and did not ask about Yue Gang. Instead, I inquired, “Is Madam Avexila behind this?”
“Avexila?” The bartender tilted his head and thought for a while, then spread his hands and shrugged. “Sorry, I don’t know much about vampires. Never heard the name before.”
So it is not Madam Avexila who lured me here? I was a little surprised. Aside from the grudges with the Endelis clan, I could not recall making any other enemies with non-humans. I voiced my confusion, “Might I ask, why would you seek me out?”
He withdrew his smile and asked mildly, “Rumor has it that Cornell was killed by E.X.?”
X, the next time you ask me for any more favors, I will definitely refuse on the spot.
“Yes.” I had no other answer. “X and Cornell had some personal history.”
“Oh? It was personal history?” He smiled again. “The first thing E.X. did upon arrival was killing the leader of the werewolves in Sunset City, then he just left without any explanation. His actions have utterly disrespected the non-humans of Sunset City. Even though Cornell’s closest acquaintance, White Stone, has let the matter slide, that does not mean all the other non-humans that he had looked down upon have forgiven him.”
White Stone… as in Mr. Stone?
I promptly tried to defend X. “E.X. is being hunted down by the Church, so he really cannot afford to stay in one place for long. Aside from that, he is a very conservative vampire, so he generally does not socialize very much with humans and non-humans alike. So please do not hold it against him.”
“I can’t hold it against him anyway. If even the Church can’t find him, how am I supposed to do so?” He looked at me with his pair of light-colored eyes and said with a slight smile, “But you are quite different, Charles Endelis. You have been very active recently! One can find traces of you everywhere. It’s rare to see a vampire who is merely a hundred and fifty years old be so conspicuous.”
Technically speaking, none of those matters had to do with me. I was just an innocent bystander who got dragged in unexpectedly and sometimes helped out a little.
“Your eccentricities don’t end there, either. A fifth generation vampire who works as a butler and is even protected by a human family… and comes here so easily even though he knows it’s a trap. Do you think non-humans wouldn’t dare touch you just because of your human family’s protection?”
As he said this, he began to float from the bar counter toward me and stopped, though his feet never touched the ground. He was still floating… I had never met a non-human with this ability.
He tilted his head slightly, and a trace of blue swirled in his pale eyes, like a ripple on water. Then, his blue hair and clothes both began to flutter, as if he were underwater. Even his voice sounded like he was immersed in water. “Did you think you could do whatever you please in Sunset City?”
“I have never had any such thoughts.”
“Oh really?” He said, “But that’s exactly what you did.”
I was a bystander who unexpectedly became involved and helped out occasionally, but he would never believe me even if I said that! I sighed and asked directly. “What do I need to do for you to release that human?”
“Nothing much. Just don’t try to escape, and I will release him. It’s just….” Water gathered on the floor and coiled itself around him as if it had a life of its own. He smirked. “I cannot guarantee whether you will be able to leave with him or not.”
A species who lives underwater? I had never fought water demons or any non-human of this sort before. What should I do in battle? It’s such a shame. If I had encountered this fight just a little later, I might have been able to find how to battle against various types of non-humans in the young master’s reports… After all, the citizens of Sunset City now all know well enough about the existence of non-humans.
The stream of water that surrounded the water demon separated into five smaller streams and sprayed at me from different directions. Even though they seemed to be only streams of water, I still dodged them.
After losing their targets, the streams seemingly flowed aimlessly around various obstacles, but one still accidentally brushed past the leg of a chair. The chair did not even move. Just as I was about to believe that the water really was harmless, the chair began to tilt, and a leg was missing a section. The missing section was precisely the size of the stream. What surprised me more was how the surface looked exceedingly smooth, as if it had been polished.
If one was hit by one of those streams, surely the wounds would be clean too. Even though that would be helpful with reconnecting broken limbs, I would rather not get hit in the first place if possible.
The five streams flowed all around chaotically, but the speed was still within my ability to handle. Until I could think of a way to counter them, dodging was my only choice.
“Your speed is not bad!” The water demon observed with a laugh. “But dodging all the time really isn’t the best way to fight. What would you do when you have nowhere to hide?”
Just as he finished his sentence, the sounds of several things shattering came from above. I looked up. There was no ceiling above, but just exposed plumbing instead. The pipes were clear and glowed slightly, just like the bar, except now the pipes had split entirely through the middle and let loose a torrent of water. Remembering what had just happened, if I made contact with this water, getting soaked would probably be the least of my worries.
I originally planned to block it directly with my blood ability, but a thought hit me, and two blood red rapiers immediately appeared in my hands instead. I waved them above my head furiously. The two rapiers sent the falling water flying left and right, and their destructive power was no less than that of bullets. I could only hear the sound of various things breaking all around me.
I blocked the final splash of water, and counterattacked!
The ball of water flew toward the water demon like an artillery shell. The water demon stared for a second before hurrying to avoid it. The water still hit him on the arm, then it ricocheted and smashed apart a table.
He stopped his attacks momentarily and raised a water screen in front of himself, which I assumed provided a measure of protection. Then, he inspected his injured arm and said to himself thoughtfully, “I must take back my previous words. This speed is more than not bad. It’s truly rather astonishing.”
He raised his head to look at me and asked, “Vampire, is this your special ability? But I heard you’re only a hundred and fifty something years old. You shouldn’t be an adult yet.”
Father had investigated all of the characteristics of vampires for me. When vampires fully become adults, they go through certain changes. Most vampires only get a large increase in blood ability, but a few can develop special abilities in addition to that.
However, pureborn vampires are exceptions. They nearly always develop special abilities. I say “nearly always” because pureborn vampires are rare to begin with, and even fewer survive into adulthood, so there was not enough evidence for Father to conclude definitively.
Turned vampires take between a hundred and eighty to two hundred years to fully mature. Although pureborn vampires should need less time, it was not as little as a hundred and fifty years.
For this reason, even though my speed had increased significantly and my ability to use the blood ability had improved quickly as well, I had never thought it to be the result of becoming an adult. Not until I rescued Curtis a few days ago with an unnatural speed did I realize something was off, so I emailed X.
He wrote in his reply, “Your ability for becoming an adult is x-speed? Most pureborn vampires develop combat-based abilities! What did you develop x-speed for? Don’t tell me it’s to run away? Bastard! Don’t you dare mention to anyone that I’ve taught you how to fight before!”
So I became an adult.
My ability is very fast speed. X calls it “x-speed,” and I am assuming it is an abbreviation of “extreme speed.” Although X mocked it, I was very satisfied with the ability of having extreme speed. This ability can be used to avoid unwanted battles. What could be better than this?
But ironically, even if I have the speed others do not, I cannot escape right now.
“I have become an adult,” I admitted, hoping he would give up any notions of fighting upon learning this.
“An adult fifth-generation vampire. That sounds awfully dangerous.” The water demon chanted lightly to himself and laughed suddenly. He said with a satisfied tone, “This is better, or else it might look like I’m bullying the weak.”
I sighed. Looks like this battle cannot be avoided. Fortunately, he seemed like he would let Yue Gang go no matter what the outcome.
He held out his right hand, and a stream of water rose from the ground. He grabbed the stream and the water turned into a double-pointed staff. Afterwards, more streams of water appeared around me, making the scene look like a gigantic fountain.
Seeing this, I released my blood ability too. Even though the release of blood ability took away from my speed significantly, to the point that I would not be able to use x-speed, in the situation of being surrounded by water, there was no way of dodging it all. Only by using my blood ability would I be able to defend against the lethal water all around me.
A dark red cloud of blood mist enveloped the area around me. Although the blood mist was not as dense as the water, being only a thin layer of red-tinged liquid, it held firm and blocked the flow of water.
“As expected of a pureborn vampire. I have met a few vampires before, all of whom are much older than you are, but none of their blood abilities’ hues were as saturated as yours,” the water demon told me with a slight chuckle. “How careless of me. My water screen here probably can’t block your blood ability at all. You are such a gentleman for not taking advantage and launching a sneak-attack.”
A responsible butler must always be a gentleman, but that is not necessarily true for a vampire in combat. My not sneak attacking him had nothing to do with being gentlemanly. It was simply not within my capability to do.
It was one thing for my blood ability to increase, but to actually use it in battle was a different matter. My skill at controlling the blood ability was still very unsteady. I was not entirely sure if I could defend against the water flow while concentrating on attacking, so I did not take the chance.
The water demon walked over slowly, and the water screen in front of him suddenly split into pieces and circled around him. He began with a light smile, “Controlling water and controlling blood. Our abilities really are quite similar, but our biggest difference is: I am five hundred years old, which just happens to be the prime age for our kind. But you, vampire! For your kind, you are merely an infant.”
He finished speaking as he stopped walking, halting only about ten steps away from me. Suddenly, he jumped and covered the distance of these ten steps, and as he was landing, he brought down the ice staff forcefully toward my blood ability… the blood ability blocked the blow, but the ensuing tremor was too much for me to handle, forcing me down on one knee.
He looked down at me, with only the razor thin blood ability between us. The blood ability cast a crimson sheen on his face such that even as he smiled, he gave off a cruel aura.
“I have never seen a vampire younger than two hundred years old. They are too weak, so they choose to never appear before non-humans. Nowadays, young vampires take even more care to hide, because a fully-armed human can easily kill a two hundred year old vampire. If the generation number is higher than ten, then the vampire can be killed off by a human regardless of age.”
I reabsorbed my blood ability and utilized x-speed, then materialized rapiers. These three actions were completed in almost the same second. I appeared behind the water demon, and raised the rapier to stab him in the heart as I said, “Humans call kill any species of any age, not just vampires.”
Just as I was mere centimeters from succeeding, the rapier was blocked. The water screens that had been circling the water demon dutifully did their job. I was forced to retreat to avoid a counterattack.
The water demon turned around with a stony face. “That is a lie. None of my kind in their primes have died at the hands of a human! Even vampires cannot beat those of my kind in their prime!”
He abandoned his defensive stance, and instead began to brandish attack after attack with his ice staff. Every swing was accompanied by a gust of wind, exposing the force behind each move. However, my blood ability blocked every single blow. I was not even forced to step back.
I finally understood how to defend myself correctly. The blood ability surrounding me was no longer a thin mist, but became two sturdy shields. The blood was so thick that it looked like ink. The appearance was identical to those water screens.
The water demon gave a look of surprise. “You…”
“That is because Dark Sun does not wish to kill you.” I swung my two rapiers and launched a swift attack. “Also because X does not want to kill you.”
The water demon picked up the speed of his ice staff and retorted caustically, “You aren’t Dark Sun, nor are you X!”
“So, do you take honor in killing a hundred-and-fifty year old vampire?”
He sneered. “Don’t use age as an excuse. If you do not have enough strength, then you should hide more carefully instead of wandering about the city, getting involved in a load of problems, or being acquainted with dangerous non-humans like E.X.”
Streams of water suddenly appeared from all directions. I blasted out blood ability and blocked all of the water, but this caused the shields to disappear without a trace. At this moment, the water demon’s ice staff broke through the weak layer of blood ability with enormous momentum and came straight at me.
Two blood shields might be able to block it, but I had no time to materialize anything. I could only take a step back, and another… I abruptly turned sideways and held my left hand out as I materialized a rapier. The rapier stabbed the water demon in the chest, but was immediately knocked away by a water shield. This level of injury barely counted as a scratch for a non-human.
“This world would become simple and straightforward if we had the power to decide who to meet and who to like.” The water demon’s blood tinged the rapier, which was the same as me sucking his blood. I could even taste blood. It tasted lighter than human blood and was a bit salty.
“True. But you have the power to decide to leave.”
The water demon looked at the bloody streak on his chest, and then suddenly dissolved the ice staff, leaving behind only the shields. I could not understand his intentions, so I kept my shield and rapier.
“Your initial attacks were ridiculously weak, but the later attacks were not like ones from a mere hundred and fifty year old vampire.” His face darkened, and he continued in a low voice, “Did you hide your true strength at first? You dared to hold back after I told you I’m a five hundred year old non-human?”
“No, I did not hold back. I just suddenly understood how to use my blood ability,” I confessed candidly. “You taught me.”
“Ha!” The water demon scoffed. “Your good friend E.X. is one of the strongest vampires. Don’t tell me he never taught you how to fight.”
“He has taught me, but I think his attack style does not suit me, so I did not learn well.”
X almost never goes on the defense. He releases blood ability to materialize powerful weapons, such as the blood claw that appeared last time he fought Dark Sun.
Almost all vampires use the blood claw. It is the most fundamental and most commonly used weapon, but for some reason, every time I tried to form a blood claw… quoting what X said, “They are as goddamn cute as kitten paws, but similarly have no goddamn destructive power.” Finally, he resorted to having me materialize rapiers, even though he thought of them as weapons that one “needs to stab a non-human a hundred times with to kill.”
Rapiers are definitely not X’s weapon of choice, so what he could teach me was very limited.
When I saw how the water demon attacked, I actually felt a strange sense of familiarity. He held his ice staff just like how I usually held my rapiers. His water screens were just like the blood ability I used to protect myself. I could even use my blood ability to make copies of his more advanced shields.
He used water screens to block large-scale, weak attacks, and used shields to block the strongest blows. Then, he uses weaker attacks like water streams to distract the opponent while he attacks the openings with his ice staff.
His style of attack is completely different from X’s. He does not rely heavily on offense, but on speed and strategy to obtain victory. When I saw this style of attack, the thought that “perhaps I can do this, too” immediately flashed through my mind. And I really was able to. Even though I could not distract the opponent yet, I did not think that would be difficult with some practice.
Compared to the water demon, I might actually have an advantage because I am faster and have the ability “x-speed.” In the future, if I could manipulate the blood ability to materialize more weapons and increase the speed of release and absorption, perhaps…
The water demon’s voice dropped lower. “It seems like I have created a dangerous enemy. Fifth generation pureborn vampire, you learn too quickly… I really should kill you right here, right now!”
As the words “right now” left his mouth, the water around me began to swirl chaotically inside the building. The water demon gathered it all into a gigantic whirlpool. At that moment, his imposing presence was completely different from before. The difference in strength was so great that he did not even seem to be the same non-human.
I suddenly realized that he was the one who had been holding back. He had probably just been warming up or playing around earlier.
Under this tense atmosphere, the water demon said to me coldly, “I don’t know how you keep in touch with E.X, but you go tell him that he has caused you too much trouble. You have almost died several times, so you no longer wish to stay in touch with him.”
I was stumped for a second by a combination of surprise and disbelief. “This is your revenge? For me to cut off contact with him? I thought you wanted to kill me.”
“Kill you?” The water demon chortled. “Killing you would be too much. If E.X. comes back to avenge you, the Church would come make a scene at Sunset City again. That is not something I want to see happening.”
I laughed humorlessly. “You do not really believe that X would be bothered by me cutting off contact?”
“Of course he would care,” the water demon replied firmly. “You are X’s friend. Just this reason alone would be enough for the Church to capture and torture you till you die, but a powerful human family has been protecting you, so the Church doesn’t dare to touch you. If X loses you as a friend, where else can he find another non-human protected by a human family?”
I smiled and shook my head while explaining. “I am the one who needs X, because he is the only vampire I know. X does not need friends.”
“Sure he does. No one can live alone for eternity, not even non-humans,” he said impatiently. “Stop spouting nonsense. Now, do you choose to leave your friend and live or leave him by dying? You should know that you have no chance of winning, and I will not show any mercy from now on.”
I was silent for a while, and finally responded, “You are right. No one can live alone forever. X cannot, and neither can I. X is the only immortal among my friends. If you want me to cut off contact with him, then make me.”
“You choose death?” The water demon seemed somewhat surprised. “You can meet other non-humans. You’re not the one the Church is after.”
But only X is the same as me. We straddle the line and cannot go anywhere else.
“Forget it, since you willingly seek death, don’t blame me.”
The whirlpool picked up its speed dramatically. The tables and chairs it touched were smashed to splinters, and wind caused by the whirlpool even began to pick up nearby furniture. The hall looked like it was being attacked by a tornado.
Blood shields cannot be used to block attacks from all directions, but the thin screen of blood ability probably would not be able to take such a powerful blow… The strength accumulated over three hundred years is simply too much of a difference. The most rational choice would be to run. The door was right behind me. There was not even anyone guarding it. If I used x-speed… I cannot run, or else Yue Gang might not ever leave this bar.
After letting the blood ability surround me in a last ditch effort, I looked at the colossal and magnificent whirlpool, feeling strangely calm.
1 “Calanthe”: Originally 妃蘭朵 (pinyin: fēilánduǒ), her name is made up of the characters for “princess,” “orchid,” and “flower.” Since orchids seem to be important to the Melody of the past, and her name hints at it, we translated her name as Calanthe, which is a type of orchid. The name Calanthe means “beautiful flower.”