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Chapter 2 - Vampire Hunter

As the world blurred he caught a fleeting glimpse of a geometric shape pass before his eyes. It was the sole of a boot moving at incredible speed.

With a bone-crushing thud, the woman was thrown aside, and Alphonse's field of vision filled with the night sky. Free from the woman's grasping fingers, he coughed furiously, sucking in as much fresh air as his tortured throat could manage.

'Are you all right?' asked a clear voice beside him.

The source of it was a second woman, who he was certain had not been there moments ago. She wore a navy blue overcoat paired with a matching navy blue beret. Her ash-blond hair reached as far as her neck, and her features were dignified, though they still retained clear vestiges of childlike innocence. At a guess, she seemed to be roughly the same age as Alphonse himself.

Still busy processing the recent events, Alphonse made no reply to her query. The woman watched him for some time before coolly stating, 'You appear to be mostly uninjured, at least. I'm glad to have arrived in time.'

Seemingly satisfied he would survive, she turned away and studied the crumpled form of the woman who had attacked him. 

'That,' she said with a note of distaste, 'is a ghoul - a thing a person becomes after their blood has been drained by a vampire.'

As she spoke, she kicked her left boot against the ground. The tap-tap-tap seemed to punctuate each word. It appeared to be the boot that she had used to kick the woman - 'ghoul' - away from him.

As he followed the restless drumming of her boot he suddenly thought, ...vampire?

'I have no issue with you idling about, but I would prefer it if you stood aside before doing so. You are in my way.' 

Her words were sharp, but no sooner had she said them than a creaking sound filled the area. The ghoul, which had been motionless on the ground while they were talking, was now slowly rising. Its contorted body lifted from the cobblestones using only the power of its legs. It was a grotesque spectacle and utterly unnatural, and if the ghoul was bothered by the earlier blow, it showed no sign.

Without warning, the ghoul suddenly kicked at the ground like a wild beast and propelled itself towards them. Alphonse jerked to his feet and leaped forward to shield the blond woman... 

The exact moment that the ghoul's nails reached Alphonse, the blond woman behind him calmly put her hand in her overcoat pocket. In one smooth motion she drew something out of it. It was a long, thin rapier. Its surface was a radiant silver polished to a mirror-like shine that reflected the smoldering glow of the red moon. Without a moment's hesitation, she thrust the rapier forward. Its pointed end flew past his neck, piercing the ghoul's throat effortlessly.

With an equally smooth motion she withdrew the blade. The ghoul fell to the ground and didn't move again. The menacing aura it had been radiating dissipated into nothing. 

Alphonse stood fixed to the spot, dumbfounded by what he had just witnessed. A small trickle of blood ran down his neck where the rapier had grazed it.

'I do believe that I told you to stand aside...  I suppose you must not have heard me.'

Sighing, she shook the ghoul's blood from her weapon before returning it to its scabbard.

'After all, if you had heard me and acted that way, regardless, I would be forced to conclude that you are most foolish, indeed.' 

Her blunt words and composed expression finally brought Alphonse back to his senses.

'I-I was just trying to keep you from getting hurt... But never mind that, what's going on here, anyway?! Who are you?! And why was that woman trying to--'

He had intended to finish his sentence with the words 'eat me,' but the possibility that it may have happened was too terrifying to voice. What was clear to him was that the woman before him had saved his life, and stabbed the 'ghoul' to do so. Looking at Alphonse's confused expression as he wrestled with the situation, she gave a resigned sigh. 

'You appear to be a member of the military. I presume, then, that you are familiar with the so- called Vampire Murders?'

'Y-Yeah, of course.'

'Well, then, if I were to tell you that those Vampire Murders really ARE the work of a vampire, would you believe me?'

Alphonse gaped at her. '...What?'

Without answering, she turned away from him and walked over to the ghoul. Gently, she lifted it from the ground so Alphonse could get a good look at the face. What had been a terrifying creature just moments ago was now a woman again. Her expression was completely peaceful - it was hard to believe she was the same woman who had attacked him earlier. 

'Look closely here,' the blond woman instructed.

She pointed at the corpse's neck. Specifically, at two red dots on its surface. They were completely consistent with the marks on all of the other victims of the Vampire Murders.

'It certainly looks like a vampire bite, wouldn't you say?' 

She said this as if it was the most common sense thing in the world. Alphonse still looked puzzled, but she ignored him and continued.

'Humans who die as a result of having their blood sucked by a vampire become ghouls, who then try to feast on other humans. This sword,' she said, tapping the scabbard, 'has been blessed by the church and is capable of putting them to rest.'

Her words brought the bizarre spectacle he had just witnessed back to the front of his mind. While he was interested in the 'church' part of her statement, he had more pressing questions to ask. 

'...You're seriously saying that this was the work of a vampire? You really expect me to believe something so ridiculous?'

'Whether you choose to believe it or not, it is the truth. A very unfortunate truth, but the truth, nonetheless,' she said in the same cool, disinterested tone.

Alphonse struggled with it. The 'truth' as she presented it beggared belief. And yet...everything she said added up and seemed consistent. It was equally hard to believe that everything was a lie. He subconsciously touched his throat. The ache there only bolstered her position. He found himself willing to believe her. 

'There is a vampire in this city. Of that I am certain. And I,' she continued, placing a hand on her chest, 'am here to put an end to it.'

A period of silence followed. Undeterred, the woman began to talk again.

'...Still, this is not ordinarily a matter that laymen should be involved with, so I would recommend that you forget all that you have seen and heard here.'

'And I would prefer,' she added with a meaningful glance, 'if you kept all of this to yourself, as well.' She turned to walk away.

'Wait!' Alphonse called out to her. He swallowed, stood a little straighter. 'Will you... Will you allow me to help you?'

The blond woman came to an abrupt halt. She turned her head to look at him. It was clear that his sudden question had caught her off guard. Slowly, she faced him completely.

'...Well, I certainly wasn't expecting you to propose something quite that ludicrous. What could I possibly stand to gain by allowing you to help me?' 

Her tone was as sharp as ever, but Alphonse was unfazed.

'Around ten years ago, both of my parents were killed. They died the exact same way as the victims of the Vampire Murders.'


Shock showed through the woman's normally blank expression. Alphonse continued.

'I don't remember much about that day, but there's one thing that I can't forget. One thing I'll NEVER be able to forget.'

As he spoke, the memory returned vividly to him. 

Roughly ten years ago, Alphonse and his family had lived in a village in a remote region of the Empire. His father was a member of the army, serving in a unit stationed nearby, but it was an uneventful post, and they lived a quiet life. It was as normal and peaceful an existence as one could have until that fateful day when Alphonse returned from playing outside. It was then that he saw a sight that would be burned into his memories, his dreams, forever. There in his home he found the corpses of his parents laying in a room stained with blood. Their bodies had been drained, and their necks were marked by strange bites.

The incident was so unpleasant and bizarre that even then, there were those who believed that it was the work of a vampire. The army conducted an investigation, but were unable to find any clues that would lead them to a suspect, and eventually the case was deemed unsolvable. Left with no living family, Alphonse was taken in by his father's best friend and fellow soldier in the army, Garrard, and ended up living in Heimdallr.

If what she was saying was true, and vampires really did exist, then maybe one WAS actually responsible for his parents' deaths. From the look on her face, it seemed she too thought that could be the case. 

Alphonse shook his head, though it was more for himself.

'It doesn't really matter if it was the work of a vampire or not. I feel as though by solving this case, I'll finally be able to move on from what happened that day. That's why...'

Another long silence fell between them. The blond woman seemed to be deep in thought, and Alphonse waited patiently for her reply. Eventually, she let out a short sigh. 

'...As part of the army, you have access to restricted information on the murders. Perhaps your assistance might allow me to find the vampire more quickly.'

She put her hand inside her coat and took out a short sword with the same silvery glow as the rapier she had used earlier.

'This will allow you to fight against ghouls and  vampires. If you'll be cooperating with me, I expect you to protect yourself.'

Alphonse glanced at her face. Her expression clearly said that she wouldn't brook any nonsense.  His resolve would need to be firm and unwavering, and he would need to be prepared to encounter more ghouls like the one from before. Furthermore, he would have to be ready to face the vampire that lurked in the city once and for all... 

With a resolute air he accepted the sword from her. 'My name's Alphonse, but everyone just calls me Al.'

The blond woman looked down at her now empty hand, and the corners of her lips quirked up slightly. She raised the edges of the skirt underneath her coat and gave him a respectful curtsey. 

'My name is Rose. I imagine that our time together will be brief, but I look forward to working with you, nonetheless.'

第2回 吸血鬼を狩る者














……待てよ、今彼女は何と言った? ——吸血鬼?













「もし闻こえていた上での行动でしたら、 あなたは度し难いまでの愚か者と言えますが」



 いや、それよりもこの状况は一体なんだ!? 君は一体何者だ!? どうしてあの女性は俺を——」

——喰らおうとした? その事実は恐ろしく、とても口に出すのは惮られた。