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Chapter 3 - Foreboding

The next morning, Alphonse found himself in his commanding officer's - Garrard's - office. He had come to request permission to independently investigate the Vampire Murders.

Garrard scratched his head before giving Alphonse a questioning look, his eyes filled with the kind of vitality one would expect from a much younger man.

'...You want to pursue that case all on your own?'

Alphonse cleared his throat nervously. He was well aware that what he was asking was completely unreasonable.

'Not on my own. A civilian has agreed to help me conduct my investigation. The two of us will be working together.'

It sounded pretty weak to him, but Rose had been adamant that they keep the truth of the matter to themselves.

'It wouldn't be to the benefit of society for the existence of vampires to become widely known,' she had insisted. 'As such, try and arrange for us to be able to investigate the murders by ourselves, without interruption.' Aside from a cool 'Farewell for now,' those had been her last words before disappearing into the night. 

And what she said made sense. There was simply no way that Garrard would believe that vampires existed, even if it was his surrogate son trying to persuade him. After all, despite seeing a ghoul with his very own eyes, part of Alphonse still wanted to believe that it had all been a dream.

To compound the problem further, for reasons that Alphonse wasn't privy to, Rose seemed opposed to anything other than investigating the matter covertly. As such, her joining the team formed to officially investigate the murders was off the table. Alphonse was therefore left with no choice but to propose that the two of them investigate together in secret. 

Alphonse was not surprised, then, to see Garrard's  less-than-willing expression.

'Listen, Al. As your guardian, I've got a responsibility to look after you. That's why I want to raise you to be a fine soldier, and why I don't want you putting your life in danger for no good reason.'

Alphonse flushed. He'd already been removed from the team investigating the murders, as well as taken off night patrol duty. Garrard was well aware of his fixation with the case. That was exactly why he was afraid that Alphonse might end up going too far in his attempts to solve it and get injured - or worse. 

'Garrard...sir, I understand exactly what you're trying to say, and I appreciate your concern, but...'


Seeing Alphonse's determination, Garrard hesitated. The boy standing before him was calm with clear eyes. Where previously there had been recklessness, now purpose and resolve seemed to rule. After a lengthy silence, he let out a sigh of resignation. 

'...You really do take after your father.'

He smiled fondly, but quickly switched to his official, commanding officer voice.   'I expect you to give your utmost to successfully  solving the mystery behind these murders. However,  I will approve of this mission only on the condition that you report daily on the results of your investigation.'


Alphonse almost responded in his usual, casual tone, but caught himself just in time. He coughed, cleared his throat, and stood to attention. Garrard chuckled. 

'Just be sure not to put yourself needlessly in danger, understood? And if anything happens, inform me immediately.'

'Yes, sir!'

Alphonse gave a deep bow, grateful for his guardian's kindness. 

'I see that everything went well. That is good news.'

The two of them were in the corner of the shopping district where the first victim of the Vampire Murders had been found. It was the middle of the day, but the alleyway in which they stood was gloomy and draped in shadows by the looming buildings that surrounded it. The second he had stepped into the narrow passageway, Rose had appeared out of nowhere just like the previous day.

Because the place where Alphonse had been attacked by the ghoul the previous night was currently under investigation by the Garrard Team, they thought it best to steer clear of it for the rest of the day. As such, they had decided to examine the scene of an earlier murder instead. 

Unlike the previous night, Rose had neither her coat nor her sword with her. Instead, she wore a simple dress in the local style. Anyone seeing her for the first time wouldn't be able to tell that she was anything more than a perfectly ordinary girl.

According to Rose, neither vampires nor ghouls were able to operate in daylight and thus battle- ready wear was unnecessary. Everyday clothing also had the benefit of allaying suspicion by blending in, she said. It was fine logic in theory, but with Alphonse still garbed in his military uniform they made for an unusual pairing. As such, Alphonse couldn't help but let out a sigh of relief when he realized how few people were in the surrounding area. 

The scene of the first murder still had a solemn air about it. Alphonse set about scouring the area, and as he mused over the case details involving the victim, a question came to mind.

'Thinking about it...I never heard about any of the earlier victims turning into ghouls. Is that because you've been defeating them?' 

Rose shook her head. 'No, in previous cases I was able to purify the bodies with Thaumaturgy before they turned into ghouls. I would rather not harm the bodies of the deceased if I can help it.'

Thaumaturgy, as Rose explained it, was the collective name for special techniques used by a small number of people belonging to the Septian Church. The power of Thaumaturgy was also apparently the reason why Rose's rapier and Alphonse's short sword were capable of defeating ghouls and vampires. Curious, Alphonse asked Rose if she was connected to the church, to which she responded, 'Feel free to think of it that way.' 

He itched to probe her more on the subject, but she began explaining the particulars about ghouls, so he let it drop. Since the murders had started, it seemed that the time it took for a corpse to turn into a ghoul was decreasing with every kill. Alphonse's encounter with the ghoul the previous night was the first occasion that she had been unable to purify the victim in time. As such, she had been left with no choice but to fight.

'Still, that possibility was well within my  expectations. It's not the first time it has happened, after all. That someone like yourself would appear and try to get involved certainly wasn't, however,' Rose said with a giggle, causing Alphonse's ears to turn pink at the tips. 

'A-Anyway...' he said, crouching down to inspect the ground level. 'Have you managed to gather anything about the culprit from your previous investigations?'   Rose nodded. 'Judging by the bite marks left on the victims, I believe that the vampire is likely male. Furthermore, despite victims being found all across the city, the bite marks look the same as one another. That suggests the work of a single vampire.  Beyond that, however...' 

Rose fell silent.

'Is something bothering you?' Alphonse asked without thinking.

'...Yes, actually. It may be possible that the vampire lurking in the city is...'

She stopped mid-sentence. Her gaze was focused on something behind Alphonse. Turning around, he saw a  young man in a military uniform much like himself. It was someone he knew.

'Elroy? What are you doing here...?' 

'I was about to ask you the same thing,' the other man grumbled.

Elroy was a fellow member of the Garrard Team who had joined around the same time as Alphonse did. That combined with the two being roughly the same age, one might expect them to get along well, but in reality they usually ended up arguing about everything. It had been like that for almost as long as Alphonse had known him.

'I'd heard you'd formed a separate team to check up on the murders, but I had no idea that it was just a pretext to be meeting a woman during working hours,' Elroy sneered. 

Alphonse stifled his annoyance. At least it seemed as if the other man hadn't overheard their earlier conversation.

Clearing his throat, Alphonse said evenly, 'She's a civilian who's assisting with my investigation, so knock it off. And you? What are you doing here?'

'Hmph. Nothing in particular, I just happened to be passing by. We've got to patrol a much wider area now thanks to all this 'vampire' nonsense.'

Alphonse stood and gave him a cold look.

'Watch what you're saying. People in this area have lost family and friends because of these murders.' 

Elroy snorted and cast an uncaring glance at the spot where the first victim had been found.

'Hah. I mean, seriously? 'Vampire Murders'? We're supposed to be the Imperial Army, not a bunch of country bracers. Are we seriously considering the possibility that fairy tale creatures like that exist? And besides, what kind of idiot goes out at night when there's a serial killer on the loose? They were asking for it, if you ask me. People need to stay in their damn homes and stop making more work for us.' 

'You son of a...!'

Enraged by the sheer callousness of Elroy's words, Alphonse started towards him...or tried to, rather. Strong, unyielding fingers held him by the arm.

Completely expressionless, and without so much as a glance to Elroy, Rose whispered, 'Arguing with him serves no purpose. That time would be better spent investigating.'

She spoke calmly, but her words were sharp and dismissive. What she said was right, though, and hearing it was enough for Alphonse to cool his temper. As she said, they had more important things to be doing. He had sworn that he would solve these murders and put the past behind him, and that needed to be his foremost priority. He took a deep breath to regain his composure. The reassuring weight of the silver sword hidden in his uniform  further reminded him of what he needed to do. 

Watching them, Elroy gave a bored, derisive laugh.

'Oh, and 'civilian helper' or whatever you are, don't you go wandering around at night, either. The last thing the army needs is more dead bodies to clear up.' And with a mocking wave, he left them. 

After their inspection of the first crime scene, Alphonse and Rose spent the remainder of the day scrutinizing the scenes of the second and third  murders, but in the end their search yielded no fruit. After reporting their progress to Garrard, he made his way to the Alegria where he had promised to meet Rose to discuss how they would proceed with their investigation.

The city around him was bathed in the orange glow of the setting sun when Alphonse finally stepped into the sparsely populated tavern. He found Rose sitting at a table near one of the windows. Once again she was wearing the navy coat from their first meeting. It seemed safe to assume that the rapier she used that night was inside it, too. 

'Evening,' she called out to him. 'I was expecting you to be here sooner.'

Alphonse didn't reply. He was too busy staring at the girl sitting opposite her.

'What's wrong, Lucca?'

Lucca turned at the sound of her name, eyes so wide and moist that tears threatened to fall at any moment. 

'A-Alphie! Just what is this woman to you?!'


Perplexed, he looked over in Rose's direction as if seeking an explanation. Rose favored him with a bland expression.

'All I did was walk into this tavern and state, 'I would like an out of the way table to discuss the future with Al,' and she has been pressing me with endless questions ever since.'

She sighed and shrugged her shoulders as if she understood the situation no better than Alphonse did. 

Seeing this, he let out an even greater sigh.

Before Lucca could launch into another interrogation, Alphonse set about explaining Rose's role as a civilian helper aiding an army investigation, and after several reassurances, he was eventually able to clear up the misunderstanding. Lucca's relief seemed to fill her with renewed energy. Cheerfully, she bounded up from their table and made her way into the back of the tavern again. With her departure, so too left the gazes of the other curious and amused patrons. Rose and Alphonse bent to discussing their investigation. 

Vampires, Rose elaborated, were only able to use their powers at night. During the day, they were no different from ordinary humans. Unfortunately, this meant that even if they were to encounter one, neither of them would be able to tell. If they hoped to end the murders, they would first need to find some kind of clue as to the vampire's true identity.

At one point during the conversation, Alphonse went pale at the thought that they might have to exhume the corpses of previous victims in order to reinvestigate them, but Rose assured him that would not be necessary. To his great relief, she had already checked them thoroughly for clues. Even that gruesome task had yielded little more information than the similarities between the bite marks, though. 

Their vampire foe was a cunning one. The number of bodies and lack of clues all pointed towards a careful killer who more than likely was living right there among them as an ordinary human.

After working their way through the simple meal that Lucca brought them, Rose casually glanced over to the back of the tavern.

'You seemed rather close to that girl,' she murmured. 

It took a few moments for Alphonse to realize who Rose was referring to.

'Yeah...I suppose you could say that. I've known her for ten years now, after all.'

He had first met Lucca when he was brought to Heimdallr by Garrard. Initially, he had stayed in a house near the tavern, and being brought by it often, the two of them quickly became friends. As an orphan, Lucca's support over the years meant more to him than words could express.

Telling Rose all of this, Alphonse could feel his cheeks heating. He began fidgeting awkwardly. 

'...I'm a little envious,' Rose said.

As she spoke, Alphonse noticed a change in her expression and tone. Usually, she said things sharply or with an air of cool detachment. Her face also rarely betrayed her inner thoughts. Now, though, he thought he caught a hint of loneliness. Unable to let this pass unnoticed, Alphonse opened his mouth to comment.

Suddenly, Rose jumped up out of her seat. Her chair fell to the ground with a crash. Once again the two of them became the subject of a room full of gazes, but she paid that fact no mind and stared out of the window, her eyes open wide. 

'Wh-What is it? What's wrong?' Alphonse whispered loudly.

'It's nearby. I can sense it.'

'It? What do you mean?!'

'The vampire!' she hissed.

No sooner had she said it, she raced over to the tavern's owner, who was busy at the back of the building. Alphonse chased after her. He had never seen her in such a panicked state before.

'Where is the young lady who was here earlier?!' Rose asked the puzzled tavern owner, who didn't appear to have any idea who she was referring to. It was then that Alphonse realized that he didn't see Lucca anywhere - and hadn't seen her since she brought them their food a half hour before. After telling this to the owner, he finally seemed to realize what he was being asked. 

'Now that you mention it, I would have expected her to be back by now. I asked her to run an errand  over at the grocery store opposite here.'

Alphonse and Rose exchanged a glance and instantly understood what the other was thinking. Overcome with a sense of great foreboding, the two of them rushed out of the shop without saying a word.

第3回 嫌な予感





































「そういえば…… 今までの被害者は“尸人”などにはなっていなかった。

















「エルロイ? なんでこんな所に……」

















































「いる……? 何がだ!?」