Chapter 13 - True Ancestor
Rose had been prepared to accept her own death. Garrard's lances of blood had perforated several of her organs, and she no longer had the strength to use Thaumaturgy to heal herself. Considering that her occupation was hunting vampires, she always knew that this might happen. That one day, one of the vampires she tried to kill might instead end her own life. Nonetheless, her task was to try and defeat as many of them as she could before that happened. That was her penance, her way that she would try to atone. But that time had finally come. She had done all that she could, and yet she had been powerless to defeat Garrard. If she just closed her eyes, she would never wake up again. Perhaps that would be the easiest and least painful option.
Her consciousness fading, her lids began to droop...but then she saw something in the corner of her field vision. It was Alphonse, desperately struggling against something he could not hope to best. To see him fighting on, he who had battled beside her every step of the way, made her heart ache.
She watched his final last-ditch attack fail, and the silver sword she had given him shatter. The upper half of its broken blade flew towards her. It pierced the damp earth by her head. The silvery sheen of the sword fragment blurred in her vision, then came back into focus. It was wet with Alphonse's blood.
The sound of her heart pounding drowned out all other noises. It was a sensation that she was determined to never feel again...or rather, one that she felt, but desperately tried to ignore. But she couldn't surrender herself to death just yet. Alphonse had sworn to her that he wouldn't allow himself to die, and he was doing everything possible to keep that promise. It was her turn to show the same kind of courage that he was.
She reached out a hand, ignoring the pain running through it, and grasped the broken blade. She bent it close to her upturned face and stretched out her tongue towards the blood dripping down its surface. Then she licked it.
The instant blood touched her lips, her vision became awash in a scarlet haze. She knew that she was taking a huge risk and yet her heart was filled with a new, different resolve. It was a risk worth taking.
'You...can't be... You can't be!'
Garrard glared at her, still clutching at his wound with his left hand. She opened her mouth again to speak, her whole body shrouded in a faint crimson radiance.
'My name is Roselia,' she said. 'I am a descendant of the loathsome race of vampires - and a True Ancestor.'
As she introduced herself anew, she gave a polite curtsey.
Alphonse watched the exchange from his low vantage point on the ground. It was not the first time he had heard the term 'True Ancestor.' He recalled Rose mentioning it once before. She had said they were the legitimate descendants of the vampire race.
In one hand, Rose held one of her pistols. In the other, the fractured end of the silver longsword she had given Alphonse. By licking the blood that it had been coated in, she had been able to return from the brink of death, just like Garrard had been able to revitalize himself by drinking Elroy's blood before. The connection was clear, and yet unlike Garrard's gruesome action, Rose's blood drinking seemed more like some kind of holy ritual.
Perhaps due to his inability to move or do anything other than lie and watch, Alphonse was able to process the situation quite sedately. Rose had been a vampire all along. He found himself somehow unalarmed by that bit of information and didn't question it. Garrard was not so calm.
'A True Ancestor?! Impossible! The True Ancestors are all...'
Rose spread her hands in acknowledgement. 'Indeed, the True Ancestors are no more. They chose to allow themselves to perish. They realized the truth: that if human blood was required for the race to continue to exist, then the right thing to do was to allow it to die. That a life such as that has no meaning. I am the very last True Ancestor in existence.'
She spoke solemnly, her expression dignified.
'I cannot forgive your kind. You Elder Vampires fled because you were unable to suppress your lust for blood. And then you brought shame on the name 'vampire' by attacking innocent humans, all because of your own inability to resist your obscene desires!'
'Spare me your lecturing!' Garrard yelled, and then quickly thrust out the right hand which Rose had damaged. From it emerged another barrage of blood lances which shot towards Rose at great speed. But the moment they were about to impale her body, she turned into red mist, generating a blast wave in the air. Instantly, she reappeared behind Garrard, both pistols in her hands, and fired bullet after bullet into his body. The bullets, emitting the same effulgent red aura as Rose, struck him all over.
Garrard was thrown forward by the impacts, which hit him with the force of shotgun shells. He twitched and groaned on the ground in agony. Satisfied that the vampire would be immobile for a time, Rose crouched down beside Alphonse.
His eyes were open, watching, but he was unable to move. Rose gently caressed his cheek with her hand.
'Thank you, Al. Thanks to you, I now know what I must do. ...I have a lot that I want to say to you, but for now it will have to wait.'
Alphonse turned his head towards her, and for a brief moment, he saw the figure of the girl he had played with when he was a child. He finally realized the truth.
Too exhausted to even open his mouth, he had to content himself with silently encouraging her in his own mind. Almost as if she could sense him doing so, Rose nodded, and then stood up again. She looked over at Garrard with the same solemn expression as before.
His wounds had begun to close, but the time that it took for them to do so said everything - the power of a True Ancestor was enough to be able to contend with him.
'Gah... Foolish girl! What's wrong with drinking blood to survive?! Humans take the lives of others so that they can continue to exist too. How is what we do any different?!'
Rose shook her head.
'It is completely different. Vampires have inhuman strength, can manipulate others to do whatever they desire, spawn ghouls as a by-product of what they do... Everything about our existence goes against the natural laws of the world. We are a violation of the will of the Goddess. And that is why we should be confined to the realm of the fairy tales!'
Rose was a vampire who hunted other vampires because of her own strong beliefs and ideals. A vampire who had resolved to deny her own race, to wipe them out, hoping that they would all be forgotten forever.
Alphonse desperately tried to stay conscious, his eyes fixed on her. He finally understood the ideal that she strived for, and the true nature of the solitude she carried - a solitude that not even those of her own race could possibly understand.
'You little... Have it your way, then!'
Grinding his teeth in anger, Garrard held out a hand before him, and from the palm formed a monstrous sword made up of jet black blood. The black coat that he wore also began to squirm and transform. Giant wings, like those of a bat, emerged from the quivering mass. With a toss of his head, they unfurled, extending to either side of him. They flapped once, twice, and Garrard rose into the air.
Suddenly, Lucca fell to the ground, unconscious. Garrard had released the Charm he had on her to concentrate all of his energy into his next attack.
'Allow me to bring an end to your bloodline for good, and return the name 'True Ancestors' to ancient history where it belongs!' he roared.
Rose drew her templar sword. Her navy coat, still bathed in scarlet light, became bat-like wings as well. She held his gaze as she ascended to his level.
'It's time you gave up the name 'Elder Vampire.' You do nothing but soil it.'
Blades drawn, they confronted one another in midair, charged energy crackling throughout the catacombs. Alphonse lay back, unable to do anything but observe. The next moment, their shadows crossed at lightning speed.
In an instant, they had exchanged places in the air. Both had swung their swords. The blade of Rose's templar sword, however, was nowhere to be seen. All that could be glimpsed here and there in the flickering torchlight was the glinting of wires stretched to their limit.
Garrard was the first to make a sound. Lines ran across his body in a crisscross of faint stripes. As he laughed, the lines spread like cracks, slowly multiplying and widening, almost as if his body hadn't quite realized that it had been cut at all. The countless parts that formed the templar sword's blade had passed through his body over and over in a single instant. Rose turned, and with a snap of the wrist caused the wires connecting the blade's parts to bend. With the metallic clicks of interlocking metal, the parts flew through the air and came together. The templar sword was once again whole.
'Farewell,' said Rose. 'I'm sure we will meet again one day in hell.'
As her templar sword returned to its complete form, the body of the Elder Vampire crumpled to the ground, feet first.
Continue Reading Red Moon Rose
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