「It’s good to be proud of your own kind. It’s even better to have respect for the original founder of your species and your creator.
But that does not mean we can look down on other species and lifeforms as inferior to us. It is outrageous to perform this kind of sacrificial hunting ceremony, and the fact that it is done in plain sight is proof that Giorr is truly vile.
Therefore, this is not just a grudge for having my subjects stolen, I truly cannot forgive you and your lord.」
「Oh, so the rumor was true. The blood of the Valkyrios has gotten warmer with each generation despite being vampires, and they are ridiculed for being similar to humans. Did you know of it?
Well, that is still fine. The Valkyrios royal family was the gentlest of the founder’s six children, and could show compassion to others besides their own brethren.
However, with the arrival of Her Majesty, Queen Dramina, it was whispered in the court that she might even love the human race. Apparently, it seems this is true.
Your Majesty, your compassion for a human being, whose blood is most delicious to us vampires, that is one point which is fatally unsuitable for one who should be vampire royalty.」
Gorcos raised a longsword in his right hand and a shield in his left hand as he spun his words. However, in the face of that imposing stance which should have been the very ideal image of a knight, what spilled out of Dramina’s mouth was a sorrow that wasn’t suited for battle.
「So that is why you destroyed our country? Because I didn’t see humans as food like others did? You killed our people, you breached the land of our nation, covered our sky with black smoke, and burned our country with fire, just because I showed mercy to races other than vampires?」
「That’s right. Because our lord thought that your heart was too fragile, he decided that you were a shame to our race, and shouldn’t be allowed to live.」
Gorcos felt as if the shield and longsword in his hands had become 100 times heavier.
After a moment, he realized that when Dramina had heard his words, she had changed from an invisible sadness to a bright anger.
But Dramina did not lose herself in her anger, and she did not spread that anger to her surroundings, including Rita, who was hiding behind her.
「There is no need to ask any more questions… As a part of Glossgrier Kingdom, I, Death Knight Gorcos, will now have you die」
「Fine. I’m not asking you anymore, I’ll ask that bastard Giorr. You’re about to turn into ash at my hand」
Gorcos’s greaves kicked the ground. He ran faster than a four-legged beast, and slightly out of range of his longsword, Gorcos covered his front with the shield on his left arm.
Gorcos’s longsword disappeared from Dramina’s field of view, making it impossible to tell where the edge of the blade was, or when the timing of the thrust would be.
Although this should hide the view of his opponent from himself, his shield had a pair of eyes engraved on it, and Gorcos had mastered the secret art of sharing his vision with this shield’s eye.
It was the best tactic for Gorcos in one-on-one combat. By blocking the opponent’s sight, and hiding the tip of his sword, he could fire a deadly blow or hit with his shield.
No other warrior could have imagined that she would be able to grab the shield with only her right hand.
His magical shield, which can’t be destroyed even by the blow of a giant more than ten times as tall as him, was caught by Dramina’s hand, and as soon as it was caught, like a spider web, it shattered quickly.
But Gorcos didn’t stick close to the shield. There was no choice other than to let it be destroyed, and he still had a magic silver longsword in his right hand.
Without missing a beat, Gorcos thrust his longsword. He aimed for Dramina’s heart. His body moved the longsword according to all the training he’s done so far, drawing the shortest trajectory at the fastest speed.
No other knights would’ve been able to make that thrust as confidently as he did, but against Dramina, he didn’t have any confidence in that thrust at all.
So it didn’t come as a surprise to Gorcos when, with a flash of her outstretched left hand, Dramina cut his mythril sword right in half.
Instead, Gorcos marveled at the cross section of the cut longsword, which shone like a smooth, polished mirror. He admired her skill and spirit as the Vampire Queen, from the bottom of his heart.
Even in the moment when Dramina beheaded him, using her hand as a sword, Gorcos’ admiration for her never faded.
The headless body collapsed on its back as it is, and Gorcos’ head, which flew into the air a little after, also fell and rolled across the ground with the sound of splashing water.
Vampires don’t die, even if they are beheaded, but that immortality doesn’t work against their own kind, especially not against an opponent so much stronger than him, and in the blink of an eye, Gorcos’ body began to crumble into ash.
As his cheeks turned to ash, and his jaw and cheekbones became exposed, Gorcos spoke. Inside his helmet, his ears fell off, his eyelids fell off, and even as his tongue began to turn into ash from the base, his mouth continued to move.
「Queen Dramina, our King and many others have agreed to the destruction of Valkyrios… not just because of your compassionate heart. The one who has that as their only reason, that would be, our King.
The real reason why they schemed to destroy Valkyrios… there are two reasons. One is… because you were too strong…
Originally, among the six families of the Founder, each of which are supposed to be of equal rank, you were the only one who was stronger, and everyone believed you were strong enough to be the second coming of the Founder, and moreover, you were too beautiful.
And then, then, the other, other reason was… 」
The lifelessness of the three knights, along with the sight of their 5000 dead brethren in the surroundings, made a dry wind blow through Dramina’s heart, but it was soon overshadowed by the fire of revenge and resentment.
Dramina let out a small sigh. It was such a heavy, exhausted sigh that it would have made anyone who heard it want to cover their ears and pretend they hadn’t.
Sadness, revenge, exhaustion, and loneliness. Will the Vampire Queen ever find salvation?
Dramina sighed, and closed her eyes for a moment, and then looked in a different direction from where Gorcos appeared.
Compared to when she looked at Gorcos and the others, her gaze this time was much calmer.
「The number of Death Knights released into this forest are about 50. More than 30 people ran with their horses to around this area, but were you the one who destroyed them all?」
From the shadow of an unarmored carriage, a boy who seemed to be in his late teens with a decent face, sunburned black hair and blue eyes, stepped out of the carriage as smoothly as flowing water — He once held enough power to be feared by the gods, and he reigned at the top of all dragon tribes that lived in every world and every dimension, and now he was reincarnated as Dran.
「Hmm, that is correct. I am Dran. Nice to meet you 」
As he said that with a small bow of his head, Dramina gave a small laugh.
It was strangely amusing to see Dran greet someone so normally, despite having just witnessed the scenery in the surroundings and the battle just now.
The signs of the battle up to that point have completely disappeared from Dramina’s mind and body, and apart from her amazing beauty, she looked like nothing more than a calm noblewoman.
「Hoo, you have a similar name to me. Is it a coincidence? I am named Dramina Peyorir Valkyrios. For certain reasons, I’m a vampire who is hostile to the Glossgrier Kingdom.」
「It’s close enough. Dran and Dramina, hmm, half of it is the same. By the way, isn’t the girl you’re protecting behind you named Rita? If she is Rita, I’ve come here to save her, so I’d like to take her back」
「Oh, right, she was called Rita earlier. In that case, it would be better to leave her in your hands. Because humans will be much more reassured to be near other humans, rather than vampires」
To Dramina, who spoke somewhat self-deprecatingly, Dran murmured to himself without saying his thoughts. If Selina was nearby, she would understand from their short but intense relationship exactly what he was thinking.
「Sorry for making you wait, Rita. A lot happened while you kept your eyes closed, but for now, I have a piece of good news for you」
Following Dramina’s gaze, who spoke with a soft voice, Rita saw Dran raising his left hand lightly.
The atmosphere was completely different from when she was surrounded by vampires, and Rita understood that it has been a long time since she has seen other humans. Although in Dran’s case, he was only human in body.
「Hello, are you Rita? I’m Dran. I’m Fatima and Nell’s friend, I came to save you」
「Oh good, so you are Fatima-sama’s friend. As Sierra-san said, there were people who wanted to help Fatima-sama, after all… Thank… goodness…」
Knowing that Sierra had been telling the truth, and knowing that there were people who wanted to save Fatima, Rita’s heart, which until just earlier had faced the unshakeable reality of death, was released from tension due to the relief of finally seeing the light of true salvation.
Rita let out that quiet sound, and then the last thing she felt was the sensation of cold, but soft, kind hands supporting her collapsing body, as she lost consciousness and everything went dark.