Part 64Music: play track 3
"Ah, Tohno-kun. Are you going home now?"
"No, I thought I'd talk with you a little bit. You're going to have some tea now, right? I was thinking of joining you."
"No, I'm going home now. I have something to do, and this month club funding is getting a little low."
"---Ah. I see, all those tea snacks were bought with club money."
...... But, come to think of it, a club that can buy snacks with its own funds has to be wonderful.
"So I can't keep you company...... Tohno-kun, do you have any plans after this?"
"Me? No, not anymore."
"Well then, care to walk with me to the front gate?"
"Yeah, it would be my pleasure."
Senpai grins and nods, and walks by my side.
We decide to walk together for five minutes to the school gate.
"Oh, please wait. I have something I wanted to ask you, Tohno-kun."
"? What is it?"
"Yesterday, you said there was someone that looked like me. I kind got curious, so I wanted to hear a bit more about it."
Her eyes burn with curiosity.
...... But to me, that's not something I really want to recall.
"...... Sorry, I don't want to talk about it. It was just a mistake I made, so it's okay."
I look away from Senpai as I give a vague excuse.
"Is that so?"
Senpai quickly ends her questioning.
"But you saw that person late at night, right?
Clearly, despite what Shiki may think, the questioning is not over.
...... Tohno-kun, I think walking around late at night like that is pretty dangerous. Those serial killings have been continuing, you know? If you meet that serial killer, that would be terrible, wouldn't it?"
"...... Senpai, you're worried about me walking out late at night?"
"---Yes. You're a good person, so you're the type that'll get easily tricked and put in danger."
"Look! Candy! Just what I've always want-HURK"
Senpai looks like she is seriously worried.
Yes, her concern makes me extremely happy.
"Um, yeah, that's right. It is dangerous to walk around at night, really."
Mmm, tastes like foot.
"...... Anyway, from now on, please stop walking around at night. You're a good student."
"Yeah, I know. I'm not sure about being a good student, but I won't play around at night anymore like you say."
Senpai stares at me.
---Does she not believe me? She doesn't seem convinced.
"...... I get it. Then, I promise."
I stick out a hand.
"Senpai, I owe you one for that time, so I'll do as you ask. So it's a promise."
"Um.................. you want to, shake hands?"
"Yeah. We're a bit too old for pinkie promises, so we'll shake hands."
After standing there a little perplexedly, Senpai takes my outstretched hand.
"I understand. It's a promise, Tohno-kun."
She shakes my hand up and down.
"Well then, goodbye. Let's meet again at school tomorrow."
Wrapped up in the sunset, Senpai disappears.
After watching her go, I decide to head home, too.
Music: play track 3
"Is that so? I like the second one rather than the first one. I think the taste is more refined."
"It's a difficult choice. The difference in taste is great, but everyone handles the different concentrations in varied ways. But, Kohaku, you like Japanese tea better, right? I think Hisui prefers english tea."
"NOPE, NOTHING SUSPICIOUS ABOUT THAT AT ALL, PLEASE PAY US NO MIND. TEE HEE."
"...... Why are you suddenly telling me that, Kohaku-san?"
Damn, do you know just how blatant you have to be for Shiki to catch on? Way to go, Kohaku.
"Because Hisui-chan is your servant. You surely know about her sensitiveness, right?"
I quickly look over at Hisui.
...... Hisui stands there quietly with something like an air of attack around her.
"---No, I don't think she's that sensitive. She takes care of things quickly even when I mess something up, and she doesn't get angry like someone else when I come home late."
"Nii-san, don't you know it is perfectly natural for someone who breaks curfew to be scolded?"
"...... I know, but isn't eight o'clock a bit too early? I'm not a little kid, so let's make it like ten o'clock from now on."
"I refuse. You don't have any reason to stay out that late anyway. It's not like you have a cram school or a club to attend."
"You don't have any reason to be a frigid bitch, but you don't hear me complaining."
I can't really rebut her when she brings that up.
You're just not trying hard enough.
Someone free like me coming home late means that I'm out playing around.
"Shiki-san, it is as Akiha-sama says. It's dangerous out there recently, so please don't go out at night, okay?"
This makes three people so far today. Something tells me Shiki shouldn't go out at night.
"---Dangerous, you mean those serial killings?"
"Yes," Kohaku-san nods.
...... It almost makes me laugh.
The one doing that, Nrvnqsr, is no more.
But the only ones who know that are me and Arcueid, and other people are still frightened about the shadows of the dead killer.
"Say, did you hear? Yet another person got brutally murdered." "Really? That reminds me of baseball..."
"Yeah, it's true. It was in this morning's news. It seems like it happened last night, but just like all the others, all the blood was drained completely."
Because Nrvnqsr is dead.
How can someone who died two days ago kill someone the day after?
Did he not die? ...... No, that's definitely not it. He definitely died.
So, how come---
If the vampire roaming the streets disappeared, but these incidents are still happening...
Then, the only vampire left in this city is her---
Another victim appeared.
Another victim, killed by a vampire.
"It can't be...... Arcueid, right?"
She said she doesn't suck blood, and more than that---I don't think anyone who acts that human could do that.
I only spent two days with her, but I can't believe she would do anything bad.
With her prettiness, her great smiling face, she couldn't have sucked someone's blood and discard them on the street.
I think we've already established just how easy it is to pull the wool over Shiki's eyes. Step 1: have breasts.
But, there's been another dead body found.
"...... I should just meet her once more and ask her about it."
Saying that aloud, I quickly act on it.
I take the knife I used to fight Nrvnqsr and sneak quietly out of the mansion.
Going out into the street, I start to search for Arcueid.
Nevermind that three goddamn people told you to stay inside, and you agreed.
I ran down the street and to her place, but I still couldn't find her.
"...... That Arcueid...... She's always around when you don't need her, but when you try to find her......!"
I speak those words selfishly.
It's been four hours. It's almost midnight, but I still don't see Arcueid anywhere.
...... For some reason.
For some reason, I thought optimistically that I'd find her easily once I started looking for her.
I want to see her, and when we last parted, she said "See you later."
"Shit...... Where did you go, Arcueid......!"
For some reason, I'm getting very annoyed.
I keep thinking I'll see her soon but I don't. This is killing me.
"...... I...... thought...... we'd see each other again........."
What is that?
It's like...... I'm in love with her.
Nahhh, surely Shiki wouldn't so easily fall in love with somebody just because she has breasts. Actually, I'm not sure that's even a qualifier
Music: play track 6
"Eh----What was that just now?"
I can hear something.
The clamor sounds like it's coming from a fight.
There's no basis for this, but this late at night, if there's any sort of trouble going on, I think it has to involve her.
Trying as hard as I can to be silent, I head towards the source of the sound.
Arcueid is being attacked by this black human shape.
That black human shadow is carrying something like a sword, and it isn't something like a simple fight.
Sword in hand, it jumps towards Arcueid.
Arcueid deflects the blade coming in towards her chest with her hand and lightly contacts the chest of that black shape.
In the next instant,
that sword wielding shape flies through the air like a soccer ball.
Th-thump, roll, roll, roll.
Falling down on the brick pathway in the park, it keeps rolling as if easing the fall.
No, to be more accurate,
it rolls right toward me.
It's dark and I can't tell, but in front of me the shape stops rolling and regains its feet.
A sharp, cut-off voice.
Fascinated by this display, I let out a breath of admiration.
The cutting blade of the sword rapidly arcs towards my throat.
This speed. This flying speed, this accuracy, surpasses that of Nrvnqsr's beasts.
The shadow's movement is as fast as Arcueid's when she was tearing apart Nrvnqsr's beasts.
The sword pokes lightly at my neck.
My heart accelerates to a feverish pitch.
I don't even have time to think of the danger or to evade; my thoughts are filled only with death.
The sword doesn't pierce my throat, but stops suddenly.
"Shiki, get away from her!"
Arcueid's voice calls from far away.
Arcueid dashes towards us.
Senpai glares at me with eyes that seem to belong to another person---
---Like that, she turns around and runs off.
Senpai is completely gone.
That black figure, Senpai wearing those dark clothes. ...... That person who saved me two days ago when I was nearly killed by Nrvnqsr's crows.
But---Senpai, she said that wasn't her, so why---
...... I suddenly realize Arcueid is in front of me.
"...... What is, going on? Why would, Senpai attack me?"
Why---really, why would she glare at me like that?
"Isn't it obvious? You saw us trying to kill each other. She is someone who operates in complete secrecy, so she hates for an ordinary person like you to see what was happening."
Arcueid says that unbelievable statement.
"---Kill each other...... why?
How come---why would you and Senpai do something like that?"
Lost in pure shock, I can only manage those words.
In the first place, I didn't come here to ask that. I wanted to ask her---Arcueid about something, which is why I was out here in the first place.
"...... I don't know. I only came to see you, so why---why are you and Senpai trying to kill each other?"
"Eh? Shiki, you came to see me?"
"---Yes. I had something I wanted to talk about, so I was just looking for you---so why did it end up this way?
...... I don't know. My head is just spinning. Please---could you tell me what's going on, Arcueid?"
"Well, I was just simply fighting with that person from the Church. It isn't something that concerns you, so just forget about it Shiki."
"----It does concern me. But first, what do you mean by 'the Church'? Explain it so I can understand."
Arcueid doesn't answer.
She mulls it over until she nods. "Sure, why not?"
...... My throat still hurts.
Senpai---Ciel-senpai pointed a sword at me.
All I can think about is why Ciel-senpai would do that.
"...... Fine, then I'll tell you.
The Dead Apostles are vampires that try the utmost to conceal their existence.
In order to live, they must suck the blood of humans, so victims will always appear as long as they exist. But there's not too many stories of people being killed by vampires, right?
Do you know why that is?"
"...... Arcueid. I didn't ask about vampires."
"Sheesh, I'm trying to explain it to you in order Shiki, so please answer, okay?
Look, even when the vampires kill people, they try to hide it from the surrounding--society that people like you live in. They seek to hide themselves and try as much as possible using magic and other things to camouflage their victims and make it appear natural.
Do you know why?"
"...... Well, it's because humans aren't stupid. If they find out monsters like that exist where they live, they'd attack them.
Even though humans are weak, they do have things like police. If there are such thing as vampires, an effort would be made to protect people from them. ...... Then people would stop walking around at night like what's going on right now. I think they try to hide themselves because that's inconvenient for them."
"---Well, I guess that's true, but police are only a law-enforcing group against humans. We don't consider them at all.
But, it's correct to say that vampires hide their presence for the sake of self-preservation."
"Shiki, there is a natural enemy of the vampires. A group of something like professional killers that now have the power balance in their favor.
...... It's true for other transcendent species, but especially for vampires, it is fatal for them to reveal themselves.
Even if a vampire made a secret kingdom in a village somewhere in the mountains away from all civilization, this natural enemy would definitely notice if victims keep increasing.
"...... Their...... natural enemy?"
She means someone that fights against vampires.
...... Like Senpai, who was wielding a sword against Arcueid.
"...... So, they aren't human either?"
"What are you saying? Their natural enemy is without a doubt you humans."
"-----? Natural enemies, us?"
"Yeah. Starting from a long time ago, humans used many kinds of magic, the occult, magical ceremonies to create an organization and started to eliminate primates other than humans.
The greatest of these is Christianity---the pride of the Vatican, the Exorcists. The Catholic Church always viewed "nonhumans" as impurities, but vampires are considered the most dangerous."
"There are many religious groups in the world, but the Catholic Church looks at vampires with more hostility than the rest.
You know, it's almost an obsession. They are so insane, I don't even want to mess with them."
Arcueid lets out a sigh.
"You should know what I'm getting at by now.
The one who tried to kill you was a member of an elite organization that hunts heretics.
This group, the Burial Agency, is part of the Church. They use their own strength rather than law to deal with contradictions to Christianity. These hidden exorcists are more like professional killers.
Being the ones which crush contradictions, their existence is a shadow, and so they do not come out in front of people. They are a section that should not exist within the organization called Christianity, so they kill all those that discover their existence indiscriminately."
I don't have any words to say.
Senpai---is some sort of an exorcist who's hunting vampires---I just can't believe that at all.
"---That's a lie. That's a lie, Arcueid. Because Senpai's an upperclassman at my school. So why would you say she's some member of the Church......!?"
"Hey now. Shiki, you know her?"
Arcueid draws near as if telling me she won't allow that.
"Of course! She's a third year at my school, I've known her since I was a first year--"
----Since I was, a first year?
...... Something's wrong.
Come to think of it, how long have I known her?
I don't even know which class she is in.
I try and remember---but I don't have any memories of her before that day when I found her mending those splints.
First of all, the strangest thing is that...
Senpai was called "Ciel" like it was natural to be called so, but no one calls her with a different name.
She was only called Ciel,
how come no one doubted such a name---?
"Arcueid---about Senpai...... about that person, who is she......"
"Didn't I tell you? She's a member of the Burial Agency. She is a newcomer who entered only eight years ago, but maybe she has great abilities. She's an agent already having a seat in the perfect number, the Seventh."
I don't quite get what Arcueid is saying.
But, the number seven certainly is a perfect number.
"...... That's right, the members of the Burial Agency are highly skilled, so I guess it's easy for them to use suggestion against someone who can't even resist.
That woman probably was deceiving you all in order to stay in your high school."
"...... Suggestion...... like hypnosis?"
"Yes, it can't be a very complex order. She probably used something simple like 'Don't doubt Ciel'."
...... Yeah, that's it.
I always felt something was wrong from the beginning, but as soon as I would see her again, those doubts would disappear.
Feeling it is natural for her to be there,
wasn't that one of Senpai's characteristics?
"...... Arcueid, you---"
"Hm? What, did I do something?"
Arcueid looks directly at me.
...... I can't think it.
I don't want to think that this person, would ever suck human blood.
But the truth is, the incidents are still occurring.
Furthermore, Senpai, an exorcist from the Church, is trying to kill Arcueid.
Don't tell me the killing yesterday was your doing? That's why you and Senpai were fighting---"
I grit my teeth.
I speak those heavy, painful words as if confessing love toward a girl I like.
"Shiki, are you serious?"
"Even I don't want to believe it. But then, who did it? Nrvnqsr is dead already.
So...... that leaves, um, only...... you, right?"
...... I'm filled with regret as soon as I say those words.
I still like her.
She saved my life, and those two days were still a lot of fun.
So---I don't want to separate with her like this.
But, if she is the killer vampire, I----
It's about fucking time somebody did that!
"Shiki, you're a great person."
Having her say that so suddenly makes my cheeks flush.
"And in addition, you're so honest. I like those things about you."
Arcueid smiles happily.
Seeing her like that---I can't imagine her sucking on someone's blood.
"Yes. I'm not the killer. It's the work of some other vampire and not me."
The knot in my chest disappears.
I see---I knew it, Arcueid didn't do those things.
Shiki could walk onto a murder scene, look the killer in the eyes while he's still holding the blood-drenched knife and all he'd have to say is "it wasn't me, man" and Shiki would be all "phew, that's a load off MY mind. It really looked like you might've killed somebody for a second there!"
"I see---it's the work of another vampire.
That's a relief...... Wait, that's weird.
"Hold on Arcueid. You said it's another vampire, but isn't it odd for vampires to come out one after another?"
"What are you saying? There aren't any new vampires."
"---Wha... But Nrvnqsr isn't alive anymore. There isn't anyone else that does something like that."
"...... Oh, I see. Shiki, you really made a big mistake."
Arcueid gives an amazed sigh.
"Suck blood? He ate humans and---oh."
Why didn't I notice such a simple mistake?
The victims of the serial killings are found with their bodies drained of blood.
But Nrvnqsr was different.
He didn't leave any dead bodies behind. He not only drank the blood, but also ate the meat, leaving no trace.
To prove it, the people eaten by him in the hotel were treated as missing people, not killed people.
So---that means, it is something completely different.
"Wait. Then what is the serial killing going on right now? Just who is doing it?"
"That's a different vampire than Nrvnqsr. To be more specific, that vampire is why I came here, and Nrvnqsr came here following me. It's that sort of correlation."
"---Wha... So the one you're after wasn't Nrvnqsr after all......!?"
"Yes, I didn't ever say he was my initial target. I was his target, but he was never my target; my target is the one called the 'serial killer' in this city."
I gasp in shock.
But---it really is just as she says.
She said her purpose is to kill vampires, so I just thought it was Nrvnqsr she was after----
That's a natural feeling when your own stupidity catches up with you.
"...... In other words, those vampire killings had nothing at all to do with Nrvnqsr and it was the work of another vampire......?"
"Yeah, that's right. But, that's my problem so you don't have to worry about it. But more than that, hey."
With an extremely happy smile, Arcueid looks up at me as I still stand there in surprise.
Music: play track 3
"How was last night? Who came?"
Shiki. ... Oh, you meant who appeared in his dream.
What does she mean by last night?
I don't understand what she's talking about.
After all, I'm the idiot who mistook Arcueid's words and made such a stupid mistake, so of course I don't understand what she is saying, and---huh?
Did Arcueid ask me who came last night---?
I remember the realistic dream I had and my face turns red.
"You, that was your doing---!"
Arcueid grins even more.
If I stayed quiet this conversation would have been over, but since I reacted so strongly---
"Ah, so you did get it. So, what kind of dream was it? The dream familiar was supposed to take the shape of your greatest desire, so it felt really good, right?"
"What kind of dream? That's---"
---I'd die before I'd say it.
"Arcueid, it doesn't concern you, so leave me alone."
I look away from her and refuse.
But Arcueid keeps saying "Come on, come on," over and over.
"Come on, tell me. You can at least tell me who you dreamed about."
She asks like a curious kid.
Every time I turn away she keeps jumping in front of me, saying "Come on, come on."
Deus ex 'not my fault' strikes again.
I let out a sigh of relief.
With this, my innocence has been proved but---
"Arcueid. Why did you send me such a thing? That's too much even for harassment."
"Hmph. I wouldn't harass you.
I sent you the dream familiar to thank you for defeating Nrvnqsr. I really am grateful to you, so I thought it'll be great if it made you happy."
"Thank me?---Well, I'm happy you were grateful, but..."
But no matter what, I'll pass on that sort of thanks.
"Oh come on. Are you saying you can't accept a person's goodwill?"
"...... Hey, you're not a person, you're a vampire, Arcueid."
"...... That's...... true but."
Arcueid slumps her shoulders.
...... How do I say this... Arcueid is very open in expressing her emotions.
Being happy, being angry, she changes her expressions so quickly---it's actually kind of charming.
...... I said she was a vampire, but...
she really does seem like a human; enough to even make me forget that fact.
Music: play track 1
"It seems that woman lifted her barrier. It was supposed to prevent anyone from entering the park, but it seems like you could pass right through."
"Hm? You mean that power outage was Senpai's doing?"
"Yeah, it's one of their specialties, letting people stay away. It really has nothing to do with us."
"By the way Shiki. I wanna ask, but what do you think of Ciel?"
With a cold voice, Arcueid suddenly asks that.
"...... About Senpai? ...... Why do you ask about that, Arcueid?"
"Oh nothing. I just hate that woman. We were supposed to meet and exchange information, but I got irritated during the conversation and we ended up trying to kill each other."
"K-kill each other---why did you end up doing that!? In the first place, Senpai isn't a vampire. Why did you try to kill Senpai?"
"What does that Christian hussy have that I don't, huh?!"
"---Shiki. You were fooled by her up to now, right? So why are you saying things to help her out?
You know, she was tricking you, since you didn't know anything, and pretended to be a normal person. Don't you feel a little angry at being used?"
Arcueid glares at me.
certainly I'm shocked that Senpai is different from normal people, kind of like Arcueid.
But, I don't feel like I've been tricked. On the contrary, Senpai has helped me so many times.
...... Even though I know about Senpai's identity now, I still think of her as Senpai.
Eating lunch with her, talking about stupid things with her and Arihiko, walking with her to the school gate, all of it is so much fun.
So---if I could.
"I would totally do her in a threesome with Arihiko."
It would have been better if I didn't find out about her.
"Shiki. Whose side are you on, mine or that woman's?"
I feel pressure.
Her eyes are the source.
Now she isn't like a human, but more like an animal hunting its prey.
It seems Ciel-senpai is an unforgivable enemy for Arcueid.
That's why she glares at me with such fierce, hostile eyes.
As if saying, if I am her enemy's friend, I will be Arcueid's enemy as well.
Gee, this decision isn't important at all...