"...... Sorry. I'm going to school, please tell Akiha I'm sorry."
Sorry she won't be able to yell at you?
"...... Please wait Shiki-sama. You do not look well. Are you sure you are feeling well......?"
"---I'm fine, just a little headache. Well, I'm off...... Sorry, I'm being selfish again."
...... I say something really selfish and open the door before she can respond.
Senpai doesn't show up.
It's past seven thirty already.
Ten more minutes pass by.
The school gate is flooded with students as they arrive.
There's only about five minutes before the gate closes.
But Senpai still does not come.
She---might not come today.
Yesterday, I saw all that happened, so she might not come today, or tomorrow, or the day after---
Thinking that, I feel a little faint.
I shake my head to clear it of terrible thoughts.
"R, really......!? But yesterday, you were---"
Before I could finish, Senpai puts her hand over my mouth.
"Tohno-kun, not here. Let's go behind the gymnasium."
Senpai gives her usual smile as she keeps her hand over my mouth and pulls my arm.
Behind the gymnasium? Kinky
I try to tell her to stop, but I can't speak.
She forcefully pulls me away.
Music: play track 3
"You want to talk about last night, right? If there's anything you want to say, please go ahead, Tohno-kun."
Senpai speaks calmly.
As if what happened last night was not a big deal.
But it was a big deal for me.
Her attitude right now makes me mad.
"So that really was you last night......!?"
"Yes. I did say your name back then too, so it's impossible to hide it any longer."
I grit my teeth.
...... I didn't expect an apology or anything, but still---
"...... But...... but, you said that wasn't you!"
"Three nights ago! I asked if you were the one that helped me that night in the park, and you said it wasn't you......!"
"...... Um...... a lie, Senpai?"
"You didn't keep the promise we made. You told me you wouldn't go out at night anymore."
She stares at me.
I start to feel like the bad guy all of a sudden, feeling guilty about what I did.
You only promised three people that you wouldn't and then went and did it anyway.
"I made the promise with you so something like this wouldn't happen. Is that how little a promise with me means to you, Tohno-kun? That makes me sad."
"Ah---no, that's not it. About last night, I thought Arcueid was the one behind the serial killings, but that couldn't be right, so I went to ask her and---"
I tell her all about last night.
Senpai listens to it all silently.
How I met her accidentally, how she explained to me about the vampire in this city, how I teamed up with her to save the city, and everything up until now.
Music: play track 3
"Nah, I'm just kidding. Who was that gal in white anyway?"
"Wha...... what are you saying Senpai? Even you, you're one of the Church's exor---"
Senpai puts a finger on my lips.
"Don't worry about me. Isn't the problem more about you, Tohno-kun?"
"Me? I don't have any problems."
"...... You have no self-awareness, it seems."
Senpai gives a troubled sigh.
"I have a question... just how much did she tell you about?"
"How much...... well, only that a vampire is in this city sucking people's blood."
"So in other words, you don't know about her or this 'enemy' she is after."
"...... Well, I haven't heard about it.
"Geez. I'm trying to be serious here, so please pay attention!"
I nod in assent.
"...... Huh? But, isn't that a secret? Arcueid, um...... she said you were all incredibly secretive."
"Yes, it really isn't something to talk about, but today is special.
There isn't anyone watching over us or anything, so as long as you don't tell anyone, then it will be okay."
"...... Um. What will happen if I tell someone else about you, Senpai?"
"Yes. I'll just do exactly what you are thinking of, Tohno-kun."
Senpai gives that frightening response with a smile.
"Huh? I was thinking about your breasts, so that didn't make much sense."
"Well then, I'll keep it very simple. Tohno-kun, how much was explained to you about vampires?"
"---Just about how there are two types, and how Dead Apostles are the vampires that suck human blood. But I think I know what kind of monsters they are."
"That's true. Tohno-kun, you did actually defeat a vampire."
"Haha, but you did help me at the very end-----S, Senpai!"
"Yes. I watched you annihilate "Chaos". When I came, "Chaos" was already dying though."
I'm surprised. Then Senpai knows about my eyes---?
"It was terrible. That woman made you do such a thing.
If she had a conceptual weapon to defeat 'Chaos', she should have used it herself.
After seeing your bloody body, I thought I should punish her then and there."
"...... Um, Senpai? What's this weapon that can kill vampires?"
"What do you mean? I'm talking about that knife you have, Tohno-kun. ...... Oh, I guess she wouldn't tell you about it. It's not good for her either."
"Let's see, vampires have the ability to recover from most injuries they receive.
With ordinary outside force...... I mean normal weapons. With such things, you cannot cause wounds greater than the speed of their recovery.
To kill a vampire, you need an outside force greater than their speed of recovery, or something that nullifies their ability to recover.
This ability of theirs, the curse of restoration---actually isn't treating the wounds. Instead, it is a reversing of time to restore the damaged body part back to its original state. An occult artifact which nullifies this effect is called a conceptual weapon."
"In short, a magical weapon.
We usually lift their curse looking into their human past, so we do not usually use them. But for those that were not originally human, we use them, kind of like a secret weapon.
Your knife, is it not an anti-vampire weapon she brought?"
"Or is it a family treasure? ...... Hmmm, but it would be strange for the Tohno family to possess an anti-demon weapon."
Senpai ponders aloud.
...... I don't know what she's thinking, but it seems she has no idea about my eyes.
"---Um, Senpai? Where did our conversation about vampires go?"
With a start, Senpai stops mumbling to herself.
She smiles as if to hide her embarrassment.
...... As usual, her personality is hard to understand.
Music: play track 1
"Let's get back to the main subject. Please listen carefully, Tohno-kun."
"Yes, please keep it short."
"It seems you already know about how there are the True Ancestors and the Dead Apostles.
So it is very simple.
The 'enemy' she is after is a Dead Apostle, nicknamed 'The Serpent'. Among the Dead Apostles, he is considered a heretic, a special vampire."
"You eliminated 'Chaos', right?
Even if they are vampires, if you destroy their body and soul, they will be vanquished. If you kill a vampire, they will die. But 'The Serpent' is a vampire who has conquered even this."
"Tohno-kun, are you familiar with the cycle of reincarnation? It is part of Buddhist doctrine, so I would think a Japanese would be quite familiar with it."
"...... Yeah. It's that thing where when someone dies, they are reborn again as another human."
"In other words,
The vampire named 'The Serpent' has made this cycle of reincarnation his own.
That's what I mean when I say he comes back to life even after he is killed."
"Reincarnation---you mean if he dies he will start over again as a baby......?"
"Yes. While 'The Serpent' is alive, he chooses his next host and when it is born, he transmits all of the information of his 'self'.
'The Serpent's' information stays deep within the baby until it matures, or until it gains sufficient intelligence.
As soon as that baby has the intelligence to succeed 'his self', the baby becomes a new vampire that is the 'Serpent'."
"---Wait a minute. What's that? Don't tell me that he does surgery on it while it's in the mother or something like that."
"I'm sorry, miss, but there's a problem with your baby... it's going to require a vampirectomy. The baby will live, but in 15 years it'll kill your whole family."
"I said all of his information earlier, but to say it simpler, think of it as his 'soul'.
It wouldn't be quite correct to say his soul propagates through the air and takes over someone's body, but it's similar to an electro-magnetic wave.
In this case, the human brain is what does the transmitting and the receiving.
His exceptional point is that he took this soul, which is incalculable and something that disperses as soon as it leaves the envelope of the body, and processed it as something that could be transmitted."
Thanks for tuning in again to S.O.U.L., serving all your needs for souls human and otherwise.
Her words don't seem quite real.
I do understand what she is saying.
This serpent guy is reborn as a baby when he dies and this baby turns into this Serpent vampire when it becomes an adult, but......
"...... If I believe your story, it means that he will never die. It's not immortality, but it's worse than that.
Being killed and reborn as someone else, that's like living forever."
It was eight hundred years ago when 'The Serpent' first became a Dead Apostle.
Since then, 'The Serpent' has been reborn seventeen times. Every time, Arcueid Brunestud has killed him."
He is killed by her, reincarnates, and killed by her again.
That cycle has repeated itself over and over.
...... If Arcueid had the power to kill not the 'body' but the 'meaning', then this probably would not be happening."
Senpai looks down a little and she seems to be gritting her teeth.
...... I don't know why.
However, it seems that Senpai also has some grudge against the "enemy" like Arcueid does.
"...... A vampire that is reborn every time it is killed......"
That's Arcueid's and Senpai's "enemy".
"...... Senpai. This Serpent guy, what kind of a guy is he."
Tall, listens to classical music, likes long walks on the beach and hanging out with friends.
"He was originally a man, but that can change depending on the body he reincarnates into.
The troublesome part of this Dead Apostle is that they are all hard to find.
"The Serpent transforms into a vampire only when he reaches the age where he can do everything at a satisfactory level.
Until then, that human shows no hint of being a vampire. But once 'The Serpent' awakens, he uses the relationships he gained until that time to blend perfectly into society.
I heard that the Church detects the 'Serpent's' presence usually after a whole town is turned into The Dead."
...... I see.
For example, if this serpent guy were reincarnated in me, he would live as Tohno Shiki even after he becomes the serpent.
Unless he makes a big mistake, he would be free to suck blood without people realizing it.
"...... Scary. Of course those around him are in danger too.
But that human whom he reincarnated into, he would just disappear after maturing, right?
One moment that person is living normally and the next moment he suddenly turns into 'The Serpent'. That's very frightening."
"...... Yes, but it isn't like two people sharing one body. The human baby is still 'The Serpent'.
Depending on its environment, it's either a good or a bad person.
...... But even that disappears the instant 'The Serpent' awakens.
To sum it up, once 'The Serpent' dies, he is reborn into the next body, and once that body gains intelligence, it gains the previous life's self and becomes a vampire."
"Reincarnation isn't the transmitting of personality, it is the transmission of a soul.
So the personality differs every time depending on their families and upbringings. But the soul itself does not change.
Once bitten by a True Ancestor, not only is the body forever soiled, but the soul as well. What changes the body is the soul.
'The Serpent' transmits all his information called his soul, so when 'The Serpent' awakens, the body becomes one of a vampire but----"
"As you said, just that is too weak.
So he selects his next host while he is alive.
The family he is born into must meet two conditions, the first being one of wealth.
Being born into a family of high social standing, property and money makes it easier to make the whole town into vampires later on.
"And there is another, this is the important one, but amongst normal people like us, there are also people that carry special powers.
Not like magic, which is a mystic power that can be learned, but rather special abilities from birth.
---Such people are normally called Demonic Children or psychics.
"These special abilities are genetic, so they are inherited---passed on by blood.
He chooses those families that have 'something not human' in their lineages.
A family with wealth and influence, and inhuman power.
Those are the requirements for his host."
"Tohno-kun? That was just a joke, but are you listening?"
"Eh---? Ah, yeah, it wasn't very funny."
Senpai goes quiet.
But---I really don't feel like laughing right now.
Why do I suddenly feel so down.........?
"...... But, I understand now. That's our enemy, right Senpai?"
Music: play track 9
"---No. Arcueid Brunestud's and my enemy. There is no need for you to worry about 'The Serpent', Tohno-kun.
So please don't go with Arcueid any longer.
Either I or that woman will destroy him. There is no need for you to face any danger."
"Tohno-kun. The Dead Apostles were once human.
There are two ways for them to become vampires.
Either they would have their blood sucked by the True Ancestors, who were originally born as vampires,
or they change their own bodies through their magical research in their quest for immortality.
'The Serpent' had his blood sucked by a True Ancestor to become a Dead Apostle. Do you understand? 'The Serpent' was a victim of the True Ancestors, a race beyond ours."
Senpai stares at me.
Those emotionless eyes tell me what she is going to say next.
"...... Don't tell me, that True Ancestor was......"
"Arcueid Brunestud. The royalty of the True Ancestors who made her only mistake eight hundred years ago.
She is the one who made 'The Serpent'."
Yeah, you learn that a lot earlier on this path. It's one major reason to do the Arcueid path first.
"...... From the very beginning, the True Ancestors were an existence far separated from ours.
The Dead Apostles certainly are vampires that wield immense ability, but that ability is only an extension of human capacity.
Because they have managed to attain a long life, they are able to develop their abilities, and manage to refine it to those 'super' abilities as a result.
In other words, anyone can develop abilities equal to the vampires if they have a long time."
Well, you get to live forever. The catch is you'll never see the sun again, you have to suck human blood, and good god is it ever boring.
"But the True Ancestors are different. From the moment they are born, they possess power beyond human comprehension.
From the beginning, these True Ancestors are an existence closer to the world than humans.
"We humans have flourished this much by isolating ourselves from nature.
While we receive blessings from nature, we steal from it, and even if nature is destroyed, we will not be destroyed.
We became the most superior race on this planet probably because of this one sin only we humans carry."
"We can no longer be a part of nature. In its place, we have gained ways to even destroy nature, this whole planet.
However, from the nature's perspective, this is evil. The world itself is a form of life, so it has the will to protect itself from us.
But it does not have senses.
So---it creates a presence, separated from nature like us, to remonstrate us."
Nature, the earth, possesses a will. That is why it still exists and tries to stay beautiful.
The problem isn't that we can't feel it.
It's that the standard of what nature thinks is beautiful and the standard of what humans believe is beautiful are the same.
"An existence which the world created to sense for it. These are what we usually call spirits. They are a transcendental species existing on another plane different from the remaining spirits of animals in the present world.
The True Ancestors are one type of these spirits.
They are born with the purpose to punish humans, so they only see humans as evil.
Much as we think vampires who prey upon humans are evil, they view humans who prey upon nature as evil."
Alright already! True Ancestors = forces of nature, got it, can we move on now?
"---Humans are only enemies to the True Ancestors.
As part of nature, no, as those whose power is linked to nature itself, their power has no limits.
...... In the long history of the Church, there are only a few records of fighting against the True Ancestors.
They get their powers from the world itself.
Therefore in order to kill them, a conceptual weapon with the power to kill the world is needed.
...... Of course, such a weapon does not exist.
So that means their 'death' cannot be caused by external factors."
She said in that hotel.
That if I had tried to kill her during nighttime, these eyes would not even have been able to see her death.
In other words.
It means she cannot die.
"Do you understand, Tohno-kun?
Arcueid Brunestud is pursuing 'The Serpent' in order to recover her power he took away from her.
It's not for the sake of any humans.
I don't know why she is weakened now, but if she regains her power---she will not need your help, Tohno-kun.
When that happens, do you think she will let you leave safely?"
"About her being weakened... it's kind of a funny story. Well, not so much funny as it is horrifying. You remember that night you found me in the park?"
"It's not like I killed her or did anything like that."
"She is a vampire. She isn't like the Dead Apostles who suck blood in order to prolong their own life.
Look, Tohno-kun. If the True Ancestors didn't suck human blood, vampires would never exist in the first place.
They---can survive without sucking human blood, but they still do suck blood because they have the urge to do so, and make humans into an existence outside of human nature.
I can't let some ordinary person like you be with her."
---Senpai's talk ends like that.
I---it might be because of my dizziness, but it seems like everything she's talking about is totally unrelated to me.
"Tohno-kun. Does that show you how dangerous she is?"
"Yeah, well, I get the gist."
"So please don't cooperate with her anymore, okay?"
I can't do that.
I can't consent to what Senpai is saying.
Because Senpai doesn't know Arcueid.
She doesn't know how good of a person she is.
Wrong path again, Shiki.
YES, YOU CAN
"...... Sorry, Senpai. I also have my reasons, so I want to help her.
It's true that I don't know what she'll do if I turn against her. But it's also true that I just can't leave her alone."
"...... Please don't say stupid things. Tohno-kun, you're just a normal boy. So---you shouldn't do such dangerous things."
"...... Yeah, I'm grateful for your concern.
But, there are some things that I want to protect if I can. Such as this city, and my peaceful time with you at school, Senpai.
...... Well, even though you ended up protecting me."
"...... But, it is just too dangerous. You were nearly dead when you fought with 'Chaos'......!"
"Isn't that alright? Besides, if Arcueid is really that strong, shouldn't defeating this serpent vampire be simple?"
"I'm telling you that she is the dangerous one! Please open your eyes already!
She isn't human. You don't know when she'll suck blood, she is more of a monster than the Dead Apostles......!"
"---Just stop Senpai. She isn't a monster. You shouldn't say those things when you haven't even talked to her."
Shiki, just... stop. Stop it. This is the Ciel path!
"...... That is true.
But she is a vampire. Please understand that......!"
"No, that's wrong......!
Look Senpai, Arcueid doesn't suck blood.
She told me herself, and I don't think she is lying.
It's okay, Shiki, just keep on believing that nobody lies to you
I don't know how these other True Ancestors are, but Arcueid is different.
Just her, she is definitely---"
Look, even if she isn't dangerous, it's dangerous enough for you to fight.
You can't recover from injuries like she can. If you get wounded, you will die......!
What I can't forgive is she knows this and still lets you fight.
It's like she's just seeing you as a tool, Tohno-kun!"
"...... Shut, up."
"---Just shut up Senpai! Arcueid doesn't see me as a tool at all......!
You don't know---you don't know anything about her, you just think she's some sort of monster, so you have no right to say any of that......!"
"Please calm down.
I know I don't know very much about her. But there is a possibility that she could be deceiving you---"
"Shut up! Weren't you the one deceiving me!?"
Why, did I?
Why did I---say that, terrible, thing?
"......... Senpai, I........."
Said too much. But I can't say it.
Her expression looks very fragile.
And it looks like it's going to break down the moment I say something.
"I apologize for taking your time.
Um, Then---I'll just disappear now."
The wind rushes by.
In that very instant,
Ciel-senpai disappears from right before my eyes.
There is a joke here involving curry bread, sausage bread, and the differing tastes between Shiki and Arihiko.
"Tohno, where are you eating today?"
"......... Wherever. I don't care if it's here or the cafeteria."
"Alrighty, then lets have some bread. If we're here, Senpai might come. I'll go buy some, any requests?"
"...... As long as it's not curry bread, then anything's fine. Oh, and some milk."
Arihiko walks out of the classroom happily.
"Hey Tohno, did Senpai come?"
I shake my head no.
"Damn. Maybe she's in the cafeteria today."
"Arihiko, she won't come anymore."
"Whaaat!? Did you get in a fight with her!?"
"That's not it, but she doesn't like me anymore. I'm sorry Arihiko. If you see her, tell her I'm sorry."
...... I really do feel it now that I mention it.
I hurt her badly.
She won't come see me ever again.
"What's this Tohno? Are you telling me sorry for asking her out without asking me?"
"---If that was the case, it'd be much better."
Yeah, if it was sorry or goodbye, there would be some hope left.
Certainly, I think that was a pretty bad thing to say.
"...... But, 'I'll just disappear'? That's too much, right Arihiko?"
I say this and put my head down on my desk.
Senpai was just worrying about me.
In the end, is it just that I chose Arcueid over Senpai?
"...... Why don't you understand your own feelings, Shiki?"
I ask my reflection in the window glass.
My light headache returns.
Recently, I've been having more headaches.
Up until now, the effects of my anemia have only been dizziness. It probably changed to these headaches because I've started taking off my glasses and seeing "death".
"...... It's time."
It's the time I promised to meet Arcueid.
No matter what Senpai said, I have to keep a promise I made.
Putting my knife in my pocket, I exit my room.
Music: play track 9
It is well into October and the wind is starting to blow colder.
Fall is nearly over as well. I walk down the empty street holding these sentimental thoughts.
Now is when you shout out in delight, apologize, and give her a hug!
You could also continue being an emo fag, I guess.
"Even after I said all that, you're still going to see her, Tohno-kun?"
"...... It can't be helped. I can't leave her alone, and I can't ignore the vampire in this city either."
"---I see, you've got a point there."
She closes her mouth.
I pass her figure on the wall.
"Sorry, Senpai...... about a lot of things..."
"Please don't worry. You weren't mistaken."
...... I hear her voice behind me.
It doesn't seem like she intends to stop me from seeing Arcueid at all.
I guess Senpai has completely given up on me.
"Well then, I'll be going."
"Yes, please do as you like, Tohno-kun."
I can still only hear her voice.
Yet, I walk away from the mansion without even turning around.
"Damn those are some cool boots. I should feel happy just hearing the sound they make as she walks in them, but I'm too busy being emo."
The footsteps cease at the same time.
This isn't any good.
If I just ignore her like this, we'll reach the park soon.
I should just go out and say it.
I turn around.
"...... Um, is your house this way?"
"No, it's in the completely opposite direction. You went there once, Tohno-kun, did you forget already?"
"No, I remember. I just didn't have that much confidence in my memory."
"You should, because my house is that way."
I suck in a deep breath.
"What's wrong, aren't you going?"
In that instant, I dash down the street.
I instinctively jump back.
Senpai stands behind me as if it was perfectly natural to do so.
"Wh, why are you following me, Senpai!?"
"Well, I feel uneasy leaving you by yourself."
She speaks very matter-of-factly.
"What does that vampire hussy have that I don't, huh?!"