49. The Moon Rabbit Siblings (6)
Karina looked toward the ceiling then the floor in a panic. The ground slowly crumbled and distorted. Gradually, a scroll covered in runes became visible and the Moon Rabbit siblings, Lulu and Luli, appeared out of thin air.
Karina froze, her eyes wide in disbelief at the siblings’ presence. She quickly focused on the runes below the Moon Rabbit siblings more closely; these were runes which hid one’s scent. Using a combination of illusion magic and the runes, the siblings were able to get this close to her. Even using magic specialized in detection, it would have been difficult to find the pair. So, for someone like Karina—who relied solely on her own instincts—there was no chance of her catching on until the siblings chose to reveal themselves. She simply hadn’t expected a trap like this.
‘Why are these rabbits here?!’
The Werewolves had reported them killed. Through their curse, the Werevolves’s orders were absolute! They couldn’t have lied, so why were the pair that were reported to be dead still alive?
‘The curse… was undone? The mutts’ curses…?!’
Karina lurched forward as the shame of being deceived dawned on her. The chains restraining her tightened, causing her flesh to burn. She projected menacing magic, but even the power coursing in her body began to vanish due to the chains, their Holy Power overwhelming her. She couldn’t escape this alone.
In agony, she reverted to human form, her clothes now little more than rags clinging to her. She had ivory pale skin and a statuesque figure, but the parts of her flesh restrained by the chains were charred black. Karina turned to Tom. She clenched her teeth murderously; then she trembled, and finally she laughed.
“Hahahah! Yes, it will only be worth domesticating you after overcoming this! Yes, that’s the way. Ah~ so exciting!” Karina spoke to Tom haughtily . “How did you do it? Was it the Werewolves? Did they sell us out? Well, it’s only to be expected that Holy magic would be able to do something about our curse, but how could I have expected such a turn of events?”
A smile curled onto her face.
“I was aiming for you, but as we speak, my subordinates should be targeting the Demon Lord! Those curs; they’re quite excited. I ordered them to exercise restraint, but you never know with them. They might eat a finger or two, or they might use her as a hostage to ask for my…!”
“Don’t you think we prepared for at least that much?”
Karina froze. Tom beamed, looking at her expression.
“You all… are so stupid.”
The Vampires split apart, circling the camp in the night. For a mere puppet of a Demon Lord, seven or eight powerful upper-class Vampires were surely enough. Those that remained behind would deal with the Orcs. As they moved toward the camp. they spotted the guards.
An Armored Ogre stood on patrol, carrying a fearsome-looking mace. They were a troublesome opponent for bloodsuckers. Their tough hides were difficult to bite through and tt was difficult to drain their blood without completely butchering their body.
‘… But, it’s strange how lax their guard is.’
The camp was eerily quiet. There was a noticeable lack of guards, and the Orc scent around the camp was sparse. Some Orc soldiers might have fled as Karina said, but it was strange for there to be so few. Could it be that the Demon Lord was not here?
‘No, it can’t be that the Demon Lord isn’t here with elite troops such as the Ogre’s Armored Division stationed here.’
They would have to capture the Demon Lord first, but then they would hold their own festival of blood with the Orcs and Ogres stationed here! It would be very interesting to force the vampire’s curse into their bodies and have them fight their own kin. They would cry tears of regret as they were forced to slaughter their own kind…!
As the Vampires thought of these things, they could wait no longer.
“We are starting the infiltration now!”
They shape-shifted into bat clouds and summoned fog, which slowly drifted into the camp. As the fog settled, the torches wavered for a moment, before faltering and sending their surroundings into darkness. As the Ogre looked around in confusion, the Vampires entered the tent.
“Hah! Easy! It’s not even a challenge to trick a stupid Ogre!”
“But what do we do now? She said to capture the Demon Lord, but…”
They were brimming with anticipation and boiling with bloodlust; their desire to suck on the high-class blood of the Demon Lord had them near hysteria. Because of this, their hesitation was short-lived.
“It can’t be helped if she resists! We have to take some of her blood to calm her down!”
They all smiled wickedly as they approached the bed.
But as they reached the bedside, they noticed something strange. The Vampires looked at each other in confusion. The Demon Lord’s curvy body was definitely sensational. She always looked graceful wearing her classy dresses, and most felt that her body would have been more sensual than their own master’s. However… rather than the slim figure of a woman, whoever was under the sheets looked large and heavy.
The Vampires sniffed the air. What should have been the delectable scent of the Demon Lord, like that of honey, instead smelt of damp earth.
“… This isn’t the scent of the Demon Lord?!”
Frowning, one of them roughly ripped the sheet from the bed, revealing Karakul. The Orc commander immediately sprung up, lifting his axe into the air
“… What is this! This muscle-bound bastard-!!”
As the Vampired screamed, the veins on Karakul’s forehead popped in annoyance.
“I’m sorry… That my muscles aren’t your type! You blood sucking bastards!”
He swung his axe with all his might. One of the Vampires was split clean in half, from his head to his groin. The others hesitated, seeing how easily and pathetically he had been slain.
Karakul snorted haughtily as he leapt off of the bed. He glared at the Vampires while stretching his stiff shoulder, still holding a massive, dark-red battle axe in his hand.
“Where do you think you are? You dare to bare your pathetic fangs here! I’ll tear your limbs apart and send what’s left to Vladiferr!”
The screams of Vampires rang out from the tent, signalling to Tom that it was time to move to the next stage of their plan. Following behind Tom was a troop of armored Orcs, brandishing their newly-made weapons. Behind them was Ellin, whose job was to lead the Orc troops in this battle. To her right stood Kuman, with the Demon Lord Lily sitting atop his shoulder, giving her an excellent view of the area.
“The 12th Apostle of the Demon Kingdom, Ellin, commands! Execute the atrocious rebel forces!”
The Orcs ran forward with a roar.
“Mere Orcs are nothing! Stand against them! Drain their blood and increase our stock!”
“Buy some time!”
“Miss Karina! Where is Miss Karina?!”
The Vampires rushed toward the Orcs. They were high-class Vampires, and their strength was top-class. More than anything, each of them were capable of ruling over dozens of cattle, and there was no way their curse could be undone without the aid of Holy Power. They were planning on infecting the Orcs with the curse and having them fight each other to buy time. However…
“… Where did they get that armor?”
The eyes of the Vampires grew wide. Each of the Orc soldiers were covered in plate armor, which appeared to be harder than ordinary steel. They moved in a tight formation, a mobile wall steadily advancing toward the Vampires.
Their sharp spears shot out between gaps in the line and pierced the Vampires. As their foes fell, the Orc line continued pushing forward. For those Vampires that survived the spears, Orcs carrying massive axes surrounded and hacked them to pieces.
The Vampires fought back with all their might. They swung their claws, but created nothing sparks as their attacks bounced off the Orcs’ tough shields. At most they were able to make the Orcs waver momentarily, but nothing more.
One Vampire retreated and looked at his claws in despair. Ordinary wooden shields would have shattered, but now their claws were being damaged instead. His hand trembled as the numbness of his hand creeped up his arm. It felt like he’d struck a castle wall.
When a proper frontal assault failed, the Vampires chose to flee instead. Their bodies turned into bats and they quickly rose into the sky. They also tried to impede the Orcs’ vision by summoning even more fog. Watching them run, the Orcs mocked the flustered Vampires.
“Don’t let those bat bastards run!”
A group of Ogres lifted their ballistas. Aiming into the sky, they pulled the trigger launch wooden stakes at the flying bats. Some Vampires dropped lower to dodge the ballista bolts, but they were made short work of by the Ogres’ large maces.
“Capture the bastards!”
They cast out steel nets to capture the remaining flying Vampires. Other than the Vampires Karakul had dealt with in the tent, they managed to kill or capture the rest of the 50 Vampires. The Orcs surrounded the trapped Vampires, glaring at them with blood-shot eyes.
“These bastards…! They dared to kill the Orcs in the capital?!”
“We’ll make sure to keep you just barely alive-!”
“Revenge for our brothers!”
The Vampires squealed, covering their heads as the fists, maces, and other assorted weapons of the Orcs rained down upon them. Following the blunt sound of their blows, blood flew in every direction. The Vampires, restrained by the nets, were powerless. The members of the noble race of bloodsuckers were being beaten and humiliated in a way they never had before. As Demon King Lily looked at them squeamishly, she turned back to Ellin. Ellin looked back at her knowingly and spoke another order.
“It is the order of Her Highness! Restrain them and force them to their knees! We’ll make an example by sending them back to Vladiferr!”
The Orcs shackled their arms and legs. In case they tried to shape-shift into bats, they left the nets wrapped around their bodies.
Karina froze, hearing the screams echoing from beyond the tent. She could tell these were the screams of Vampires, and she could smell their blood. They were screaming frantically to retreat, having forgotten Karina’s existence entirely. Her kin, her fellow Vampires, had been defeated.
She turned to look at Tom. He was smiling warmly, but beneath that she sensed a dangerous hostility.
‘… I made a mistake provoking them! This guy was as dangerous as brother said!’
Vladiferr had warned her not to come to this place. It was just in case something like this happened. However, she had ignored him.
Karina gritted her teeth. The humiliation of having been captured by them and being deceived by the Werewolves soured her pride.
“You did well.”
Tom spoke, looking at the Moon Rabbit siblings. Lulu and Luli blushed, having watched Tom and Karina from start to finish. Tom laughed emptily seeing the pair’s innocence.
“My, I’m sorry. Maybe I should have captured her a bit faster.”
“Ah, we are aware of the things we should know. It’s just the first time seeing it first hand…”
“… Are you adults?”
They appeared like teenagers no matter how he looked at them. It didn’t matter as Ajins developed at different rates, but the unique trait of the Moon Rabbits included their rather small stature.
Karina looked crestfallen. How would her brother react knowing she had been captured?
‘… H-he’s going to be mad!’
Karina trembled thinking of her brother’s wraith. He thought of her fondly, but he was not forgiving. Should he know that she was captured, he would agree to any arrangements for her release, but she would most surely be incarcerated and tortured. As Vampires had enduring vitality and exceptional regenerative powers, Vladiferr’s torture methods would be that much more horrendous. He would not show mercy for shared blood.
‘I-I have to escape in any way possible! If not, I’ll be hated by my brother!’
“I-If you release me, I’ll reward you! Release me right now!” Karina shouted at Tom. “I’ll do anything in my power. If I become free… that’s right! If you want my flesh, I’ll grant it! Do you want the blood of other Vampires? The blood of other Apostles, perhaps? What do you want?! Ah! I can release the Apostles as well!”
Karina bargained based on the standard of Vampires. Though he looked down on her, Tom understood this and began to think about it seriously.
Then he clapped.
“Ah, I just have to free you?”
Karina’s face lit up.
“Y-yes! What do you want?!”
Karina internally mocked the human before her.
‘Hah! You gullible monster! You’re still a slave to pleasure! Yes, I’ll grant you what you want, but there will be endless torment ahead! I’ll tear off your limbs and hang you on a hook. You’ll be my blood bag for the rest of eternity!’
Karina began to think of all manner of torture methods as she cursed Tom in her mind. Meanwhile, Tom looked at Karina as he spoke.
“What do I want?”
Tom’s eyes curved like a crescent moon, but his hostile, golden eyes remained locked on her face.
“How about your head?”
Karina trembled in fear; she and the other Vampires were in an alarming situation. They were strapped to pires made of wood, restrained by chains of Holy Power to keep them from using magic or shape-shifting. It was a complete restraint, one which even Karina could not escape from! The Holy Power burned their flesh, but this pain was negligible compared to what was coming; the thing they were truly afraid of had yet to arrive. Their eyes stared up at the sky. On the horizon, the morning sun was about to rise. Seeing this, Karina’s face turned even more pale.
Karina shouted, pleaded. There were various demons surrounding her and the other Vampires. They all glared at the Vampires in anger. They must have been enraged by the fact that their kin had been slaughtered by them in the capital.
Lily looked away from the pires. Karakul, who was standing beside her, spoke up.
“You must not avert your gaze.”
Lily flinched in surprise and looked toward Karakul.
“They are your subjects. Even if they are people that walked down the wrong path. It is also the role of a king to see their crimes through to the end.”
Lily turned back, heeding Karakul’s words, and looked at the Vampires. Her face was stiff with determination, but her hands were trembling. Ellin held one of those hands delicately. The Moon Rabbit siblings, Lulu and Luli, held each other’s hands as they poked their heads out from behind Tom’s back to watch the Vampires.
Kuman looked toward the sky wordlessly. When the sun began peeking out from over the mountain range, their surroundings gradually became brighter. Just as the sun was about to crest the mountains, Kuman began to blow a horn.
It was a grand sound signifying the coming morning. It also signified that this was not a simple ‘execution’, but a burning at the stake. Following the sound of the horn, the light of the sun shined down upon the Vampires.
— Ω —