Good christ, make up your mind already.
Even tonight, I was simply looking for her, but I was getting so frustrated when I couldn't find her.
It was, something like feeling worried about a loved one.
...... No, there's no way that's true!
Certainly she is beautiful, but I---
"Look, just give it a rest! Why do you ask me about that anyway!?"
"How can I know!"
Being screamed at irrationally, she screams back at me irrationally.
"Fine! Then I don't know you at all, Shiki!"
"What does that Christian hussy have that I don't, huh?!"
"Hey, hold on. Where are you going?"
"It has nothing to do with you. Don't follow me!"
Is she really that angry? Arcueid walks away without even turning around.
Her figure quickly fades into the distance.
Just where does she plan on going?
"...... What is this, taking it out on me like that?"
Yeah. She's the one who sent me that dream familiar, so I'm the one who should be angry."
My logic tells me where I should go, but my heart doesn't listen.
I guess hitting him once wasn't enough.
---It's been said a million times, but.
The feelings of love and hate, they have nothing to do with logic.
Damn it. Why is it that I just can't leave Arcueid alone......!?
"Arcueid! I said wait!"
Raising my voice, I chase after Arcueid who keeps on walking.
Arcueid continues to walk without turning around.
"I want to talk to you. You can at least tell me what you're going to do."
Of course, Arcueid just continues walking without turning around.
...... It'd be miserable if I left it like this.
I decide to follow her silently for now.
I really wish it would stop bouncing back and forth between new stuff and repeat stuff.
The footsteps echo through the night air.
Arcueid suddenly stops and turns around.
"Don't follow me. Don't you understand it's troubling for a normal person like you to follow me around?"
"---So tell me what you're going to do and I'll go back."
"...... It doesn't concern you, so leave me alone."
Arcueid strides off once more.
It seems like our wordless wandering is going to continue.
Music: play track 4
"Arcueid---What, are you--"
I can't even finish.
It's clear what she intends to do without saying anything.
Without a doubt, there is nothing but the pure, unadulterated intent to kill.
"Hey---what are you, thinking......!?"
Arcueid doesn't answer.
Her eyes are fixed solely on a man in a business suit walking by.
"Shiki. Take off your glasses and look at that person."
"That person---you mean that business man?"
"Hurry. If you want to know what I'm doing, then leave the questions for later."
"----Alright. I don't like to look while in town, but---"
"Another question, Shiki. You only see "points" on living things, right?"
"Eh---? Yeah, that seems to be true. Things like buildings only have lines."
...... I saw them back during the time in that hotel, but at the cost of a headache that almost caused me to pass out.
"Right, since you are a living being, you can't comprehend the death of inanimate objects.
So in order to "see" the death of inanimate objects, you must first connect to a circuit of the same orientation as them. To "see", you have to "comprehend" them first.
This doesn't make any more sense the second time you read it. Or the fourth.
"Then another question. Shiki, how does that person look to you?"
...... What is that?
Certainly, all humans have "lines" on them.
But they only have countable amounts and they also look like geometric patterns.
But---what is that?
There are "lines" running all through him. Those "lines" are all over him like blood vessels... so much that I can't even make out his appearance.
I want to puke.
Those, black "lines"----scribbles making a human shape... everywhere throughout it, I can see "black points" that look like they are flowing blood---
"Shiki, how does it look? I was hoping it would look normal to you."
I can't answer.
Right now---it takes all my strength just not to vomit.
"---I see. How unfortunate that you can even see death on that thing."
"Yeah...... it's not, normal, but...... I can, still see, the lines......"
"I knew it---you can even kill The Dead. The fact that they don't have any life has no meaning for you. Something that moves, something that breaks, you can stop it completely without exception---You're more of a monster, Shiki."
Nuh-uh, you are.
"Stay there Shiki!"
Did that young man realize Arcueid was there? He starts running towards a back alley.
Arcueid strides silently.
Underneath the moonlight, she disappears into that alley.
My glasses---I have to put on my glasses.
If I don't do that, I'll see terrible things.
I'll see something so terrible that everything I've seen so far would be nothing in comparison to it.
---Th, u, mp.
But my body won't move.
My eyes that can see this patchwork world look towards that alley in fascination.
Suddenly, sounds vanish.
And the presence of other people,
the sound of the wind,
and the smell of the dirt.
All of it freezes.
No way I can see it,
I can't hear anything.
------A sickening sound
But I can see it.
My eyes definitely see the sound of death and death crashing.
Sound and light return.
Now that I'm calm, I glance around and see nothing out of the ordinary in the shopping district.
The bustling of many people passing by.
The brightness of a store's decorated show window and the sound of rushing car engines.
I'm panting excessively.
I can hardly breathe.
Even though I put my glasses back on, I can still feel a lingering remnant of that "death" and it makes me sick.
"Huh, what's wrong, Shiki? You don't look very lively."
"---Don't worry about it, it's just my anemia.
More importantly Arcueid, what was that all about?"
I look at Arcueid as I grab her arms.
"Wh---Shiki, what are you doing all of a sudden? If you're hurt, I can take you to your house."
"No thanks, I'm fine, so tell me what was that person? You've shown me this much, so if you say this has nothing to do with me, I'll punch you, Arcueid......!"
Something tells me she wouldn't much care... if you could even hit her.
I approach her, ignoring the fact I can barely breathe.
Arcueid's expression instantly turns serious.
But, I have no intention of backing down.
After a brief stare-off, she gives a sigh.
"Fine, you're awfully persistent, Shiki."
"..................... Well forgive me for being so persistent."
"Idiot, that was a compliment.
--Then, shall we go somewhere else to talk?"
"Somewhere else? Why?"
"You want me to tell you about it, right? So not here, let's go back to the park. Shiki, can you walk?"
"Oh...... D, don't make fun of me. This anemia is just an everyday thing."
"Awwww," Arcueid says regretfully as she smiles and starts to walk.
I walk behind her and resist the urge to pass out.
Music: play track 2
"...... Arcueid. Um, could you explain it so I can understand? I don't even know if that guy was even human or not."
"Oh. I guess I never really did explain to you in detail about vampires. Nrvnqsr was sort of an aberration amongst the vampire race, so I didn't really need to explain it at that time."
"......? What is a normal vampire then?"
"What I mean is what you all think of vampires. Immortal, never aging, sucking human blood, turning that human into a vampire, being destroyed by sunlight, all of that.
My 'enemy' is that old type of vampire."
"...... Um, so you mean this 'enemy' of yours is the one behind all the recent serial killings?"
"...... I suppose. But the killing of all those people by sucking their blood might be the work of "The Dead" like the one you saw earlier.
Shiki, you remember how Nrvnqsr's body was made of all those familiars, right?"
"---Yeah, that's not exactly something I can easily forget."
"The Dead are like that. When humans have their blood sucked by a vampire, they can also receive some of the vampire's blood.
They die, but remain in this world as a servant of the vampire. They are called The Dead and they are like the vampire's familiars.
Ah, maybe it's easier to understand if I use the word zombie. It's closer to the voodoo belief in Haiti where the white serpent-god Damballah is invoked to control a dead body, but let's just say a dead body that moves is a zombie, okay?"
---Yeah, I can visualize it better that way.
"You're right, those vampires do have bad taste. But that's something only the Dead Apostles do. Those that were always vampires from the very beginning do not do such things."
Always vampires from the very beginning ......?
"---I remember. You said there's two types of vampires, those who were vampires originally, and those who were humans.
...... When I heard that before, it kind of stuck in my head, I thought it was a little odd. So what exactly do you mean by those who weren't originally vampires?"
"Simple, I'm just saying that Dead Apostles used to be humans. They either gained immortality through magic or became servants of the True Ancestors that sucked their blood.
...... Shiki, you said it was bad taste to use killed humans, but that's just the least of it. There are other vampires who think up of worse games."
"---A game---what is that? You guys kill for fun, and use their dead bodies as toys......!?"
"...... I won't deny that.
For vampires, "amusement" is the same as breathing. For those who were once human but gain imperfect immortality, their greatest enemy is boredom.
They didn't have a reason to become immortal to start with, so once they gained immortality, they lost all kinds of greed.
Their goal was immortality itself, so I guess that's just the way things are."
"That's what I said, they got everything they wanted. After that, there is no meaning to existence.
As soon as someone realizes they have no value---that their life is stopped, then their meaning of existence disappears too.
Immortality is also another word for death."
"So they started to wear down and they started to create their own amusement, as if to tell themselves they could have fun as long as they lived. ---That's their beginning.
"They copy humans and see themselves in a game as lords of a castle expanding their territory.
I guess you could call it a country of The Dead. It seems they got more enjoyment out of that than they expected."
...... She speaks as if she was talking of other people.
Arcueid should be one of those, but she certainly doesn't seem like she has that sort of hobby.
"Well, we'll change the topic, but the Dead Apostles were originally human.
There are a few cases where they became vampires through their own magical research, but the majority of them were humans who had their blood sucked.
They are immortal, but they can't last forever. They can only be immortal if they drink the blood of others.
Didn't I say their immortality was imperfect? If they can't feed on humans then their immortality is gone."
Oh hey, she mentions Ciel by name. Is that why this entire block of text is separate from the one on the Arc path?
"Yes, if they break their agreement with the Church and move about freely, they would be immediately discovered and annihilated.
So the majority of the Dead Apostles make subordinates that can bring them blood as they sleep.
Sucking blood and giving the dead body some blood of their own, they create their minions who do their work for them. We simply call those "The Dead."
"...... Hmm...... So what you killed before was kind of like a soldier for the Dead Apostles?"
"Not so much a soldier as a puppet. The Dead Apostles control the dead bodies by skipping the process of becoming a vampire. The Dead are completely connected to their parent vampire.
In order for them to survive, they attack others to eat their flesh, but more than half of that energy goes to their master.
Like a queen bee nourished by the worker bees, the Dead Apostles can use The Dead to increase their power while they sleep."
"...... My 'enemy' can't be found easily because he's using a lot of The Dead.
He only dirties his hands once. After that, he simply controls The Dead while he sleeps and expands his territory.
---They say many bodies are found in the recent supposed serial killings, but those are actually just failures.
To tell the truth, there are over a hundred victims in this city.
But only a small amount, the ones discovered, are the victims in the news."
"......... That's ridiculous."
Three days ago.
I remember how all those people in the hotel were killed for no reason.
I was there but I didn't see it, so I can only visualize and can't really tell what kind of violence it was.
It's still the same.
I can't fathom the existence of vampires that suck human blood, just to increase their own territory.
without reason, without even recognition, if someone close to me died liked that, how would I act?
I don't want to imagine it, but just a bit.
I imagine Akiha being drained of blood and discarded like trash.
Just when I've forgotten about your inappropriate lust, you have to go and fucking remind me.
What makes me mad---is that this worst case scenario could happen at any minute in this town and I didn't even have a clue about it before.
"I knew you would be angry, Shiki.
...... I didn't want to talk about it, because for the prey---for you guys, this is an inexcusable evil.
This is not something you want to hear, is it?"
"...... That's right. After hearing this, I don't know what to do now."
...... That's right.
There's no way I can live in peace like I did until now, knowing that someone I know may become a victim tomorrow.
Since I found out about it,
I have to fight this vampire just like I did Nrvnqsr.
Music: play track 9
"Oh, Shiki, you're making that face again.
You can relax. Even though the avowed enemies of the vampires do not have a presence in this country, I'm still here.
Except for, y'know, that 'Ciel' gal you were mentioning not five minutes ago.
Didn't I say earlier my purpose was to execute vampires?"
I don't know where that heavy atmosphere went because Arcueid instantly becomes cheerful.
"Yeah, I remember. ...... But, you're a vampire too, right? Why do you side with us humans?"
"I'm not really siding with you humans, but I'm doing it because I don't have anything else to do."
She doesn't have anything else to do? I still don't understand her.
"Well, doing that does bring the Dead Apostles after me, but you beat Nrvnqsr who was pursuing me, didn't you Shiki?"
"Shiki? Why are you making that troubled face again?"
"Because I'm troubled. This is something that involves the city I live in."
"I said you shouldn't worry. In two or three days it'll all be over, so there won't be any more victims."
Yeah, honestly, I don't want to be involved.
---But, saying that line...
Shouldn't I, the one actually living in this city, say that line instead of Arcueid?
"...... Arcueid. Um, can I ask a question? This 'enemy' you speak of, is he strong?"
"Well, he should be many times superior than The Dead earlier. I haven't met him this time, but he has been latent for eight years so maybe he's a Class Five by now."
"...... Class Five? I don't get it, but does that mean he's stronger than Nrvnqsr?"
"Not a chance. Nrvnqsr was special. He was a pure, supreme vampire that would be difficult to defeat even with my full power. Compared to him, this enemy is pretty weak."
"----Oh. Then---there's no way you'll be defeated."
I breathe out in relief.
"Hm, who knows? A few days earlier and he wouldn't be a problem, but now I'm just recovering. The possibility that he has more power is actually high."
"...... Recovering? Are you sick or something, Arcueid?"
"Yeah, I still have the effects from when you killed me and I don't think I'll be fine for at least a few more days."
Two minutes, Turkish
That's right--the reason why Arcueid is weak... it isn't anyone's fault but mine.
...... Well, of course I'm worried.
I was relieved to hear that this enemy was weaker than Nrvnqsr, because I thought there would be no chance of Arcueid being defeated.
I don't even want to imagine Arcueid getting hurt.
Dude, this is the Ciel path. Fucking act like it.
It really is weird.
Why---why can I not leave her alone?
Certainly I have the responsibility to bear for killing her. I also feel guilty that she is weak right now because of that.
But, even if that wasn't the case, I still couldn't leave her alone.
---I thought about it before too, but......
as expected, this might have nothing to do with logic.
...... More than the fear that I may even die...
The emotion that I want to help Arcueid is much stronger.
"About what we talked about before, Arcueid."
"You know, about whether I was Senpai's or your ally."
"Wait, please hear me out.
You know, um---you certainly don't have any common sense, you're selfish, and you're hard to handle."
Boy are you ever setting yourself up for a lethal kick to the groin.
Arcueid looks at me with a sour expression.
Ignoring it, I let my true feelings out.
I give up. Thread over.
"...... Well, yeah. Even I think there's something wrong with me, but I'm already a part of this. And, I can't just overlook the problems going on in the city I live in."
"So, you mean---"
"Yeah. If you're still weak, and if you say you need my power, I'll work with you.
...... Um, I might be just a burden, but..."
"Yeah---! If you help me, there's nothing we can't do---!"
...... Her face beams brilliantly and she seems extremely happy.
"But, is it okay? Shiki, you may have to face death again."
"I'm ready. And, I think that's why I have these eyes to begin with.----When I was a child, someone told me this.
That if I have the power others do not, I should do things that others cannot. I think this is that kind of thing."
"Oh? ...... I don't really know your circumstances."
"But, that sounds good."
...... Arcueid is in an incredibly good mood.
And being with her puts me in a good mood as well.
"But, what do we do now? Do you want to search for more of The Dead like before?"
"Yeah, I think that's all we can do for now. The one before was the twelfth, so I don't think there's much more. The parent vampire will have to come out once they all are destroyed, so we have to hunt the remaining ones for now.
Is that still okay?", she asks.
I thought there were hundreds.
"Anything is fine, I'm just with you. If you lead, then I'll follow. --Well, shall we start again?"
"Ah, no, that's good for tonight. They usually follow a fixed route, and the other Dead will probably not be out tonight.
Since they are fewer in number, I don't think he'll let them all come out at once."
"---Oh really? But, doesn't that mean this 'enemy' will try to hide The Dead from you, Arcueid?"
"So, searching further tonight will be useless, I think."
"...... Well, I don't mind. It is tedious though."
"Yeah, hunting vampires is tedious work. We have to find the coffin of this 'enemy' somewhere in this city, so it won't be easy."
Arcueid lets go of my hand and jumps back softly.
"Let's say goodbye for tonight. We'll meet tomorrow.
With her dance-like steps, she watches me as she gets farther away.
"Tomorrow---wait, where should we meet......!?"
"Here's fine. The time---yeah, around ten o'clock should be fine."
With a smile, she makes that promise.
"Good night, Shiki. I'll see you here tomorrow!"
waving her hand, Arcueid disappears.
...... I'm exhausted.
After sneaking over the wall like a thief, I quietly make my way to the doorway.
The gate was locked, but the door isn't.
"...... It must have been Hisui."
I give a sigh of thanks.
So as not to wake Akiha, Kohaku-san or Hisui, I sneak my way through the mansion.
At any rate, it looks like I'll be helping Arcueid once again starting tomorrow.
So for now, I shouldn't think of anything else but getting a good night's sleep----
---I can't sleep.
If I close my eyes, so many things come to mind.
About this vampire lurking the streets.
...... About the black-clothed Senpai.
...... I can't sleep.
At times like this, reading is good.
I know there was a book I was reading before----
Not anger, not despair.
Just, I thought everything before my eyes was pitiful. (Of course, the most pitiful thing is myself.)
Life which breaks down without limit.
Daily life which fades without limit.
Time which is forgotten without limit.
Everyone only falls.
And yet everyone still struggles desperately to continue existing, and when they judge that it is not possible, they continue to reproduce.
Continuing to reproduce.
In the end, even that dies, but there is no recompensation.
Of course, it is not those who die who are not recompensated.
We had no hope to begin with.
What is not recompensated are the attempts.
The noble wish, the yearning for eternity which everyone longs for yet can not achieve.
I have no interest whatsoever in the things that break down.
If I could see death and understand it, maybe I'll take a bit of an interest.
A repetition nearly impossible to measure, yet this wish repeats itself.
I thought to replace this almost-comical cycle of wishes with one pure thing.
There is no need to state the method.
A wish becomes a result after it is granted.
I lived solely for that reason.
It could not be termed "conviction".
Just, the first word I learned happened to be "eternity".
Of course not. They are only a species that age slower and die harder. I am becoming one of them only because this body has reached its limit. If I am to go farther on, it will take time in this body.
It's ironic that you, the one that goes after eternity, hurries with things.
So you plan on leaving here tomorrow?
I'll leave the Burial Agency to you. In the first place, there is only one empty seat for the priesthood. I used up all my father's inheritance getting this far, so it is about time I quit.
Oh? What will you tell it, Narbarek?
Let's see. I'll tell it something like--After around a hundred years, another newcomer Dead Apostle will appear. It is pointless to take notice of him, so ignore him.
No, you wouldn't need to wait a hundred years. Just like here, I will rise quickly to the top. This body will become the most superior vampire, so ten years will be enough.
How foolish. Even if it is you, you would need at least a hundred years if you start over from The Dead. Their world's intensity is nowhere as nice as ours.
...... What do you mean by that?
It is simple.
As a priest of the Church, you certainly know that Dead Apostles' powers are affected by the True Ancestor that sucked their blood.
Therefore---the solution is very simple.
If I wish to become the strongest Dead Apostle,
this blood of mine,
it must be sucked by the strongest of the True Ancestors---
I'm watching a dream.
A vague dream without any particular significance.
Do I like her?
I don't know my true feelings, but I can't deny the reality that I'm always concerned about her.
Do I like her?
...... I don't know. It's just that when I was completely lost within myself, she helped me.
If she wasn't there,
I may have just died under the pouring rain.
----I don't know.
That's why I have to ask.
Why she is doing this.
Why her eyes are so devoid of any emotion----
Because you can't make up your fucking mind, lover boy.
...... I can hear Hisui's voice mingling with the morning light.
"---Shiki-sama, it is time. Please wake up."
Her inflectionless voice awakens me.
Music: play track 2
"Shiki-sama......? Are you not feeling well?"
"...... No, that's not it. It's just my anemia acting up."
Lightly shaking my head, I clear my head of what I was seeing.
"More than that, good morning Hisui. Thanks for waking me up."
Sitting up in bed, I do my best to smile naturally.
"No, this is my duty. There is no need for you to thank me, Shiki-sama."
"Maybe, but I am grateful. You are infinitely better than an alarm clock."
Shiki has a lot to learn about compliments.
I stand up.
It's not yet seven o'clock---about ten minutes earlier than I usually get up.
"...... Hmm, breakfast? I'll be there soon, so please go ahead of me."
"Shiki-sama, about that, um---Akiha-sama is waiting for you in the sitting room. It seems she has some questions for you."
Hisui says this with some difficulty.
"...... Some things she needs to ask? ...... Is she in a bad mood......?"
"...... Yes. Akiha-sama seems to have realized that you left late last night, Shiki-sama."
I blurt that out without thinking.
Last night, I went to look for Arcueid and came home late.
"I see, you knew. No wonder the mansion's entrance was open."
Hisui answers reluctantly.
"Thanks, it was a big help. And, thanks for going out of your way to do that."
"But Nee-san realized too because of that. Nee-san and I have two-hour shifts watching the mansion.
And she found out about me unlocking the entrance---"
...... I see now.
Kohaku-san is Akiha's servant, so she would have leaked it to Akiha about last night.
"Hisui, there is no need to apologize. It was my fault that I was walking around at night, so I should take the blame.
I'm still very happy that you left the door unlocked."
Hisui just looks at me.
"...... It is nothing. As soon as you change, please go to the sitting room."
Still looking like she wants to say something, Hisui exits into the hallway.
"...... Dang, I'm going to get scolded by Akiha again."
I mutter to myself as I change.
If I have time for that---there's still something important I have to do instead.
"...... That's right, I have to talk to Senpai---"
I get the headache again.
It faded when I was talking to Hisui, but as soon as she left, it started hurting again.
"Gh...... crap, this--doesn't look, like it will end, soon......"
I bear the pain as I collapse on the bed.
The doctor said it was a miracle just surviving it.
Just being able to live is a miracle, so putting up with various pains is perhaps necessary.
...... These broken eyes. Sensei, who was able to alleviate these eyes, told me to treat that miracle very importantly.
...... Those words.
Did she mean that human life is not so much precious as it is not returnable, so I should treat it carefully?
These past few days, I've seen the deaths of many people.
Too easily. Lives ending so easily, it's almost comical.
If it is something that ends so easily, doesn't it mean that it was only worth that much from the beginning?
If that's the case, it is meaningless to view life as precious.
The headache finally stops.
"...... Maybe I saw too much blood. What a horrible thought."
I take a deep breath.
Filling my lungs with fresh air, I clear away the unpleasantness.
"---I should hurry up and go to school."
I should go and see Ciel-senpai.
Enduring the slight pain lingering in my head, I leave my room.