Before long, we arrive at a residence in a vast plot of land in the center of the village. Needless to say, this residence that is surrounded by a moat and stone walls is the house of the village chief.
We leave our carriage with the servant who had welcomed us and go inside the house. Everyone who comes across us, the servant included, is shocked by both Selina’s beautifully unique upper half, and her unnervingly huge serpent-like lower half. Someone even lets out a slight shriek.
The shock ended there since Nell is with us. If not for that, the current situation with the mist would have certainly caused everyone here to think that they were under attack by some sort of monster.
Selina seems rather unconcerned by the villager’s piercing eyes, and proudly shakes the familiar medal that hangs from her neck and all the way down to her chest.
Surprised by Selina’s appearance, a maid nervously opens the sparkling green door and guides us to the village chief, the owner of this mansion.
The village chief, who had already been contacted by the servants, stands up from the armchair he had been sitting on and greets us.
He has a solid body constitution and an abundant white mustache. He turns to us with a smile full of the trust he has in Nell.
「 Ah, Lady Nelneshia. I’m glad you have returned safely. 」
「 I didn’t do anything. I just went to the gates to see what was happening. This young man here is Dran. He is my classmate, and he is as powerful as I am. The lamia’s name is Selina. She is Dran’s familiar, so there’s nothing to worry about. She’s very dependable. 」
After Nell briefly introduces us, the village chief turns to us with a friendly look in his eyes and asks for a handshake. He doesn’t extend his hand over to Selina, only to me, but still it’s a better reaction than what I had expected.
「Well, well! Some unexpected friends have arrived, haven’t they? Pleased to meet you, I’m the chief of this village. My name is Bordan.」
「I’m Dran. Please, I don’t need honorifics. I might go to the same school as Nell, but I am no nobleman. I’m just a farmer from Bern Village. 」
「Is that so? Well, if you go to the same Magic Academy as Lady Nelneshia, you must be quite a promising young man. At any rate, I’ve heard good things about this Bern Village you come from. 」
「I’m sure everyone back there would be delighted to hear you say that. The truth is that I’ve come to pick up some Frozia flowers as per Professor Alpraire’s request, but it seems that this village is in quite an unusual situation. I will do my best to help you. 」
「We’ll do our best! 」
Chief Bordan seems to be surprised to hear Selina’s overly enthusiastic words, but not out of fear or anxiety. This old man, who has been dealing with countless flower thieves and half-beast merchants, knows that there is no lie in Selina’s words or facial expressions.
「Now, let us talk about the situation that has befallen this village. Please, take a moment to settle down. We’ll bring you something to drink soon. 」
Chief Bordan invites us to take a seat at a sofa especially reserved for guests, though Selina can’t sit on it, but I refuse with a gesture of my hand.
The chief frowns his brush-like eyebrows at my bold behavior, but both Selina and Nell, who knows I’m not a regular person, know that I’m only refusing his offer to sit because I’m picking up a dangerous scent in preparation for battle.
「I’ve been looking forward to your explanation about what’s happening in this village, but it seems that the perpetrator is drawing nearer. 」
「Huh? Wh… what!?」
I turned my eyes towards the west of Fraupa Village, directly across the road Selina and I used to get here.
Someone is rapidly heading this way, and will soon reach the west side of the village, and the deep white mist advances with them.
Nell, Selina, and I move quickly. We go outside and around the residence towards the backside.
The village chief, who had been frozen on the spot out of the shock produced by my words, came back to his senses after Nell issued a command as she was darting out the door.
Whether she had been educated at home or trained as a commander, Nell’s voice has a strict tone which does not allow for objections. Could this be the reason why men and women alike want to be under her command?
「Gather the Self-Defense Forces around the west gate. But under no circumstances have them cross the gate. Dran and I will meet the enemy.」
「Nell, I have a question.」
She probably just realized what I was going to ask her. That short reply just now had sounded colder than usual, almost as if it could freeze my ears.
「What about Fatima? Did anything happen to her? 」
Nell’s answer is silence. Then, a wave of anger and hatred is reflected in her eyes. Just by that, I can estimate that whatever happened to Fatima was not something one would welcome with open arms.
「Lady Nelneshia, did something happen to Fatima? 」
Selina’s question receives no reply as well. Unsure of Fatima’s wellbeing, Selina turns to me, her face filled with anxiety, and imagining things she does not want to imagine.
I look at Selina straight in the eye and give her my own reply.
「It’s okay. We still have time. 」
My words may have opened the way for a new concern since I can see there’s still a remnant of constant anxiety all over Selina’s face as she nods back.
「… Okay. 」
As I continue to run without exchanging words, I can see some of the villagers standing guard next to the west gate, their bodies and spirits trembling with fear, but still steadily holding their weapons.
Some of these villagers have hurriedly taken up their weapons against Selina, but Nell’s voice commands them to stop their attack.
「She’s on our side. Moreover, the enemy has appeared. Step aside.」
「Ah, Lady Apinea! If the enemy is here, please let us go with you!」
「There’s no need for that. We cannot afford to have you involved in this. Besides, I don’t want to have to worry about anyone hanging around here. 」
Nell’s words sounded as if she was speaking to an enemy. The villagers in front of us, who are used to living a peaceful life and not having to worry about anything besides picking magical flowers, feel the pressure of intimidation similar to having swords pointed at their necks, and promptly leave the gate as commanded.
「Your words may have come across as a little rude, Nell, but you’re right. It will be easier for us if they’re not around. 」
「Also, thanks for covering for Selina back there.」
「I was just doing what I thought would be better for us.」
I mutter an “I’m not that meek”, amazed and grateful to Nell, who looks away from me as we go.
The villagers open the gate, and soon after we cross it, they step down from their posts and wait for other members of the Self-Defense Forces to arrive. As we go outside Fraupa Village, or more precisely, outside the border that surrounds the village, everything becomes a world of pure white.
Soon after, a big black shadow appears within the mist, and it later becomes a carriage drawn by six horses that are twice as tall as a fully-grown man.
As the horses’ breath turns white, they suddenly stop about twenty steps away from us as if they hadn’t been running at full speed just a moment ago. The giant horses easily put up with the recoil caused by that sudden stop, and the carriage they’re pulling doesn’t shake an inch.
The horses have been clearly prepared by their owner with some sort of magic, and measures have been taken on the carriage itself to make it so that it can take both the inertia and its own load.
The golden handle on the carriage’s door makes a loud noise. Even the sound it makes is graceful.
「Is that the one responsible for what happened to Fatima and the village, Nell?」
As the carriage’s door opens, a wind starts to blow out from it, colder than anything you could feel atop a great snowy mountain. There is a hint of something in this wind. Some may call it a demon. Some may call it death.
「Yes, that’s the one.」
A deep thirst for blood begins to emanate from Nell’s entire body, which collides with the demonic cold wind. Anyone with spiritual vision could have seen two kinds of violent rage around Nell.
Coming down the steps under the carriage’s door, the lord of the carriage emerges to face us. At the same time, the mist around us clears away, and the light from the full moon shines brightly over us.
Is that some kind of false moon? It is not the evening yet… No, that is the actual moon. Then, the one inside this mist is…
「Oh? These are two faces I don’t know.」
If this were a social gathering of ladies and gentlemen, everyone would be mesmerized by the lord of the carriage’s voice.
The owner of the voice is a young man with elegant features, his face featuring a skin as white and transparent as the mist that surrounds us, and unusually red lips.
All of his manners as he gets down from the carriage are refined, and his elegance is something that nobles and everyone in this world would praise.
「Dran… this man is very scary. Very, very dangerous… What is he…?」
The moonlight shining brightly upon him, the young man dressed in a mantle with the same sea-like color as his carriage opens his red lips.
「Although you humble people are worth nothing more than food, would it be too inconvenient if you don’t know my name? You would do good to remember it until the moment your brittle lives are used up. I am Bran Gruden Glossgrier, the legitimate child of the illustrious Glossgrier royal family.」
Two sharp fangs peek out of the lips of the man who calls himself Bran as he speaks. Naturally, these fangs are for piercing through blood vessels and drinking the blood that flows out of the wound.
This young man is a vampire, a living dead who can only live during the night, drinking the blood of his victims to extend his own life.
「A dweller of the night, huh? And a Glossgrier, one of the six founder families. You’re quite an important person, aren’t you?. 」
Referring to him as an ancient vampire, I walk towards him while slowly pulling my long sword out of its scabbard. No matter who or what you are, there is only one fate I can deliver to anyone who would harm Fatima.
That fate is death for any living person. If it’s a living dead or an immortal, destruction. That’s all there is.