Part 17While it would be cool to show all the deaths, or at least the fast ones, it would honestly leave us with a lot of duplicate text. I'm going to stick with voting for now, but perhaps later on I'll go back and show more deaths if people are still interested. I've been explicitly exploring them on my personal game and I have to say most aren't particularly interesting (some are even a bit spoilery).
Since the poll is pretty heavily slanted towards going out, I'm going to close it off here. I might not be able to update immediately, but it will be within the next couple hours. In the meantime, I leave you all with a brief snippet of what would've happened had we stayed inside.
That's some loud fucking talking if you can hear it on the floor above in a high class hotel.
"......... Doesn't look strange so far."
I walk down the hallway.
The noise from downstairs is like the sound of ocean waves.
Noisy--and yet so very solitary and inactive.
My fingers gripping the knife feel numb.
A chill runs over the back of my neck.
There's something near my temple.
Pain emerges from the back of my eyes.
Enduring it, I walk down the hallway.
It hurts. Unable to withstand it any longer, I remove my glasses.
The door opens.
The small, steel box opens.
Inside that box--
Crammed to the point of overflowing, is human flesh.
...... What is this?
Though there is no way I can see it, before my eyes is the image of dozens of beasts eating the people in the hotel alive.
A man running down the hallway, trying to escape. But the panther-like claws descending from the ceiling slice him open from his nose to the back of his head.
A girl locking herself up in a room and crying. But to the lions, a door is no stronger than paper, and within seconds, they demolish it into an unrecognizable shape.
Striving madly to be the first ones there, people dashing for the elevator. But within it, the black dogs waiting inside decapitate them the instant the doors open.
At any rate, there is no exception.
Beneath my feet, within this huge box called the hotel...
is a scene from Hell I can feel down to my very bones.
"Haah--ah. Ha. Ah. Ha."
I resume my breathing.
I grit my teeth hard.
The dogs inside the elevator notice me.
All sounds from below have ceased.
In other words,
there is no longer anyone alive.
The two black dogs begin to run.
Of course, towards me, the last prey.
The black dog is coming for me.
On their bodies, I can see an infinite number of lines, and on their foreheads, the point of death.
----But even so.
My paralyzed mind does not order my body to fight or run.
Is this Prince of Persia now?
----A hot summer's day.
It happened long ago, eight years ago.
I've seen something even more terrible----
It was done so perfectly, even for myself.
Like a machine whose sole function is to cut, I plunged the knife into the dog's forehead without any useless and wasted movement.
Because that is where the first dog's "point" was.
Normally, even if the brain is destroyed, the muscles try to execute the commands they have received from the brain.
The black dog would have probably ripped through my throat even if I had simply pierced its head.
Well--normally, that would happen.
But the black dog is "dead".
Death is a complete stoppage. At the point when I killed it, it lost every form of validity.
Now that's the badass Shiki we love to see!
The knife pierces through the dog's mouth and into the back of his head.
Naturally, the hand holding the knife still remains in the dog's mouth.
The black dog is still alive.
Its jaw shuts.
The joint between my arm and the hand holding the knife is bitten on, about to be ripped apart.
Proper thought returns with the pain.
...and that is not.
More importantly--this black dog, despite having been pierced in the head, is still filled with life.
Even though I lift it after piercing its head, it shakes and lands on top of me.
I fall onto the floor.
I still can't pull my arm out.
The black dog, still pierced in the head, applies more power to its bite.
M... My arm is surely going to be torn off--!
I can't believe this. No dog ought to be able to bite anything in that state...!
I feel something wet.
I can see blood spilling from the black dog's mouth.
Is it the black dog's blood, leaking from its knife wound to the head?
Or is the blood coming from my arm, about to be torn off?
---To be honest...
My head is too messed up to be feeling the pain,
so it isn't a big deal which one it is.
The hand it's biting off is the one holding the knife.
I'm on the ground, so even supposing I did pull my hand out, the very next instant the black dog's mouth will be free to bite through my throat----
----It's okay. Calm down, Shiki.
First, you've got to examine the situation well, and then think calmly about it.
That's the kind of thinking you've always kept.
In that case--I can do something...
For example, there's plenty of 'lines' on the back of its head.
And I can see the black 'point' on its chest.
The way to survive is awfully simple.
...... But I have my doubts about executing this plan.
No matter how savage and evil a creature it is...
To do something like kill a panting and gasping creature that's so alive, this close to me--it's something I'm hesitant to do.
The pressure on my arm increases.
My entire arm is shortly going to be ripped off at this rate.
But even so, I just can't seem to do something so cruel--
You've killed something much bigger than a mere dog.
...... Yes, that's right.
But that time was different.
I wasn't sane when it was Arcueid.
Even when I killed the other black dog, just a moment ago--that was unrelated to my will.
But right now, this is very much my own will.
...... Didn't Sensei say, Shiki?
Use this power according to your own will, and no one else's.
As myself, right now, I could never take a life for granted.
---That, too, is hypocrisy.
Because long ago, you...
...... That is a nightmare from my childhood.
---See, what are you waiting for?
...... It was a hot summer's day.
---Kill or be killed.
...... Before my eyes, the blood-soaked shadow of a boy.
...... Hot, hot, red blood on my hands.
----Haven't you killed someone once before---!
I don't pull, but rather thrust deeper into the black dog's head.
I can hear its yelping right in front of me.
I think the black dog is crying out.
With my arm in its mouth, it could not properly cry, but it's crying anyway.
I'm sure that's how much it must hurt.
I don't care.
I plunge the knife in deeper, along with my arm.
Without a sound, the blade of the knife punctures out the back of the black dog's head.
It's as if the dog has grown a horn.
Having split the skull, I easily slash through its skin.
Blood and brains spray out as the knife completely emerges from the back of the head.
Also, the hand gripping the knife travels completely through.
*gasp* *pant* *pant*
But even so, the black dog is still alive.
Then there's only one thing I have to do.
I reach around with my other hand.
Peeling the knife from my blood-drenched fingers, I grip the knife with my free hand.
And just like that, I thrust the 'point' on the black dog's chest.
Lying there on the ground, I look up at the ceiling.
My head hurts.
The world becomes a patchwork, and here and there, I can see the black points of death.
My body is freezing, but my mind is burning feverishly.
Right beside me lay the corpses of the two black dogs.
One of my arms is covered in blood, the other clutches a red knife.
...... Also, there are a quite uncountable number of dead bodies downstairs.
"----Ha, haha, hahaha."
All I can do is laugh.
Because this isn't real.
There's no way this can be real.
At what point did I, with my eyes wide open, start seeing a nightmare----?
The door opens.
Inside stands a man wearing a black coat.
The headache worsens.
Yes, I've seen him before.
I'm sure I've seen that man before.
Silently, he walks towards me.
I ready my knife as I glare at him.
But he doesn't react at all as he walks towards me.
It's as if he doesn't notice me at all.
"I thought I killed everyone, but it seems like there's still someone left."
The man turns and looks at the corpses of the two black dogs.
"--You pieces of filth. If you can't even take care of a scrap of meat, you're unworthy to be a part of my body."
The man voices his displeasure as he raises his hand.
His coat lifts like a mantle.
With a splash, the black dogs' remains liquify and disappear into the man's coat.
I can't even scream.
Below the man's coat is pure darkness, without even the traces of an outline.
All that exists there is a mud-like darkness.
This is dangerous.
This guy is just too dangerous----
My instincts sound the alarm wildly in my head, but I can't even lift a finger.
The man in the black coat approaches me.
It's not good if I just stay here.
The unstopping headache grows to an unbearable level, telling me this place is dangerous.
Whatever the means, if I don't get out of here soon, I am going to lose my life.
-----But it's too late.
The man is right before me.
Those eyes aren't looking at me at all.
"---I can't believe a vampire named Chaos would play such trivial games. It's like a poorly-scripted nightmare, Nrvnqsr Chaos."
"I feel the same way. To catch one of the surviving True Ancestors... I never dreamed I would be a part of such foolish festival. This is a nightmare for me, too."
The man called Nrvnqsr quietly lowers his arm.
The coat returns to its former position, and the crocodile's mouth disappears underneath.
The man looks only at Arcueid.
It's as if he's not concerned at all about me, standing behind her with my knife raised.
"But what is going on? I have heard that the previous executor could not even scratch you. What kind of a mistake is this?
Right now, your presence is exceedingly weak. Even weaker than a mere member of The Dead--were you attacked by the church before I arrived, Arcueid Brunestud?"
I still maintain that 'Brunestud' is not a really long last name by any stretch of the imagination.
Arcueid says nothing.
The man fixes his emotionless stare on her.
"...... I don't understand. There are only a limited number of conceptual weapons capable of harming you. The only people in possession of those are the Church's assassins, and I don't think the Burial Agency would dispatch anyone this far east."
The man narrows his eyes slightly as he turns around.
"Either way, this is most fortunate for me. I shall not ask why you have been weakened. All I am going to do is claim your head while I have a chance of winning."
I hold up my knife, preparing for his attack.
Having openly stated he was going to take her head, the man now disappears towards the elevator.
It seems despite this claim, the man in the black coat is now leaving the hallway for the elevator.
Now I've got absolutely no idea what's going on!
About that man, the two dogs who attacked me, the nightmare-like reality of the attack on this hotel--none of it!
"...... Yes. I, underestimated him slightly. I thought I could help you and then dodge him, but--you did really well, Shiki. I guess the wound I got from you wasn't so trifling after all."
Arcueid's face, twisted in pain, turns into a small, joking smile.
---I can't watch her any longer.
The wound she got was from protecting me, and the reason she got it was because of me too--there is no place for that stupid smile of hers.
Arcueid leans onto me and lightly closes her eyes.
"...... Hold on, don't close your eyes, you idiot! Get ahold of yourself! You're a vampire who can't die at night, right...!?"
"...... Well, that's true, but it seems like I'm at my limit."
"Sorry, but could you take me back to my room?"
Arcueid's weight falls on me.
"--Hold on! That's--!"
If she dies, I'll--
I call out to Arcueid, who has quietly closed her eyes.
I can hear her happily breathing in her sleep.
I shouldn't have bothered worrying. Arcueid is only sleeping.
"...... Telling me to take her back to her room like that. How selfish of her--"
It really was selfish of her, but there's no helping it in this situation.
Besides. If we stay here in this hotel any longer, I have the feeling we'll be in a lot of trouble.