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Hourensou means spinach, but it’s also a mnemonic for,
houkoku – report
renraku – communicate
soudan – discuss
which is a sort of basic standard for working in any organisation.
Also sorry for the delay, friends. I kept putting it off because of its length, but the next one will come out a lot sooner.
Chapter 22 – Edim and the Fiend Liquidation Mission
This was a room in the Evil God Army’s Underground Empire. It was an expansive room, its interiors luxuriously decorated, and was a more splendorous place than the entire mansions of many nobles.
Compared to the rest of the rooms in the Underground Empire however, it was slightly below average.
This room belonged to the Evil God Army’s Vampire Unit. Sitting in the centre of the room was their Captain, Arhas Edim, who was currently listening to a report from Dalf, her subordinate and kin.
“Reporting. My third-order kin Daisy and three others were expelled from the guards.”
“I see. Good work. You are dismissed.”
Dalf bowed and left the room.
Edim looked at the report in her hand.
Including those last four, fourteen members my kin in core government positions had already been exiled from the country. Worse yet, others had been executed as well, which made recalling them an impossibility.
Having my kin die didn’t bother me so much as the fact that their use as pawns had gone to waste. All of this was due to the newly returned Sam Gordon.
It was a nostalgic name. I heard it a lot back when I was a human.
Known as the Fiend for the various legends that monster had created…
Heh. Monster? Now that I knew who the true monsters of this world were, the whole thing was just a huge farce.
He was nothing more than a gnat. And an annoying gnat, at that. What if I just got rid of him? I could send Dalf and a team to take his head for me.
No, I wouldn’t do something so overt for now. ‘Hoe Ren Soe’ was the key here, as Tilea-sama always emphasised to us. Nielsen-sama was often scolded because he forgot to keep ‘Hoe Ren Soe’ in mind. I wouldn’t make the same mistake. This problem could wait until the next war meeting, where I could bring it up for discussion. I would just warn Dalf and the others to keep Gordon out of our territory.
Phew~ I suppose now would be a good time to stop work for today…
Each day I performed my duties as the Captain of the Vampire Unit. As the head of a network that spanned the entire nation these duties were never-ending. Had I still been in my human body I would have long since collapsed from the toil. Yet another reason to be overjoyed at my powerful vampiric body.
After completing my regular duties for the day, it was about time to head back to the Academy dorms for the night. That was when the door opened.
I looked over to find that the visitor was none other than Tilea-sama.
Tilea-sama carefully looked here and there, checking all directions before she entered.
W-, What on earth was she doing? Clearing the room for something private? I was really the only one here. Was all this examination really necessary…?
“U-, Um, Tilea-sama――”
“Sshhhhh!” she silenced me with her index finger over her lips. Not in such a loud voice then.
“Tilea-sama, can I help you?”
“I actually have something really important to talk to you about, Edim. Can you come meet me in Meeting Room C?”
“Also this is a secret so don’t let anybody see you, okay? Especially Timu.”
Eh!? Something that even Camilla-sama couldn’t know…?
And Tilea-sama, it’s impossible for me to get to Meeting Room C without anybody seeing me.
No matter how I tried there were just too many of the officers around. It was impossible for me to avoid their detection with my level of ability.
“Tilea-sama, it is impossible for――”
“Anyhow, I’ll meet you there. I’ve got to go tell Or too.”
“Ah-! Please wai――”
Having said what she wanted to she flew out of the room.
If I tried to sneak there I wouldn’t get mistaken for an assassin and killed, would I?
Aahh, if only I had Bernandes-sama’s ability to sneak. This was impossible for me.
What if I practiced…? No, just spending a few minutes would change nothing.
Mmm. Impossible. But sitting here agonising over it would get me nowhere.
I decided to just walk normally. If anybody asked where I was going I could give them some excuse.
Half-consigned, I headed for my destination, taking each step carefully as I kept possible excuses in mind. For good or ill I came across nobody along the way.
What good luck! I was almost there n――
“Where are you going?”
The sounds from behind scared me.
W-, Why…! I let my guard down! How was I going to get out of――wai-, this was…
“Yes. I am pleased to see you well, Edim-sama. This is a splendid place. The furnishings and large rooms are befitting of your personal headquarters, Edim-sama.”
I immediately smashed Jay Jay into the wall. He moaned as his face was half buried in it.
I would be fine if he just died. My personal headquarters? It was obviously Tilea-sama’s personal headquarters!
What an dangerous thing to say. If anybody heard that they might even doubt my loyalties.
It was actually a problem I was worrying about. Apparently my kin were loyal to me instead of Tilea-sama. I would need to find some way of re-educating them.
At any rate, I was in the middle of carrying out orders. I decided to hasten along.
Not long after I reached Meeting Room C despite the trouble with Jay Jay.
Ortissio-sama had arrived as well. He seemed nervous. I noted the sweat running down his face, and the fact that he was loitering outside the room instead of entering.
I suppose I couldn’t blame him considering the way Tilea-sama suddenly called for us.
It reminded me of back when I was still a student and the Headmaster called me out. I was only new to the Academy at the time and having the head of the school suddenly calling me out was the most nervewracking experience I had ever had at the time.
Of course, looking back now it all felt like a joke. Compared to being called out by Tilea-sama it was like Heaven and Earth.
“Ortissio-sama, will you not be entering the room?”
“Edim. Do you have any idea what she’s called us here for?”
“No, I cannot say I do.”
“I see. I don’t either… No, but wait. Could it be? No, no, but it couldn’t be, could it?” he mumbled to himself.
I was given the impression that Ortissio-sama might have some clue.
The impression that the other officers had of Ortissio-sama was harsh. Even the War Councils were just another opportunity to censure him. Somehow it felt like he was always being scolded, and I think because of that he was expecting to be scolded again.
“Ortissio-sama, shall we head inside firs――”
“Edim, do you think she’s called us out here to reprimand us?”
“I, I truly cannot say. I can’t think of anything I’ve done that would deserve such a thing.”
“I see. I can think of too many things, however…”
I really wish he wouldn’t say that. I would be fine. I was doing my job properly. But now I couldn’t help but feel nervous.
Uuu, don’t tell me that I was going to get in trouble because of something Ortissio-sama did?
“Standing here thinking about it will get us nowhere, Ortissio-sama. Let us enter.”
“True. We can’t be keeping Tilea-sama waiting.”
Resolved, we entered the room.
“”Humbly reporting for duty, Tilea-sama.””
“Thank you for coming.”
Tilea-sama seemed to be thinking about something. After those few words she fell into silence. Were we really going to be scolded?
“Tilea-sama…?” I tried.
“U-Umm… the truth is…”
“Uuu, I can’t. I can’t say it after all.”
Words that even the mighty Tilea-sama hesitated to speak? If we were just going to be scolded there would be no reason for this.
In that case…
I was running the possibilities through my head when Ortissio-sama said something laced with meaning, before finally dropping a bombshell.
Tilea-sama wanted to liquidate Camilla-sama!?
N-No way. The words were so shocking that my mind froze in its tracks.
W-, What was I do to…
If Ortissio-sama was right then I had reached a crossroads of no return. Tilea-sama was the foremost commander of the Evil God Army. By all means, her word was law.
But Camilla-sama was my everything…
Both my heart and body belonged to her. Opposing her was unthinkable. I didn’t even want to consider the idea.
“I-I don’t want that. I can’t betray Camilla-sama,” I told him.
“Enough, Edim! Uuu, I-I don’t want to either…” he replied in tears.
“Enough. We must endure it for the Evil God Army! Even Tilea-sama didn’t want to do this.”
“That’s enough, Or,” Tilea-sama suddenly interrupted, “If you keep saying stupid things I’ll pull out your tongue.”
“Hiiie! M-My deepest apologies.”
Tilea-sama seemed outraged at just the idea.
Of course. It was obvious to anybody that Tilea-sama cherished Camilla-sama. Why would she order her death. Honestly, I was annoyed at Ortissio-sama now for jumping the gun. Perhaps our leaders had a point in criticising Ortissio-sama.
Tilea-sama began to explain what we were here for. Coincidentally, it was regarding the very issue that had been on my mind.
It was honestly a little anti-climactic. This was hardly an issue worthy of her attention, let alone concern. Far from going there myself, it was something I thought I would solve by sending a few of my first-order kin.
When Tilea-sama was finished speaking I left the room. Ortissio-sama was fired up beyond belief. Not that I could blame him. Tilea-sama had personally given us an order. There was no doubt that he saw this as a chance for him to turn his fortunes around and restore his honour.
“Edim, we must succeed at this mission no matter what!”
“Yes sir. Of course, sir.”
“Let’s hurry up and plan then.”
“As you wish, sir.”
The two of us headed into an empty room and began to discuss the plan…
A little while later…
Hahh, I think we’d been at it for almost a whole hour now. And this mission was supposed to be so simple too…
Our discussion just wasn’t going well. I think it was because Ortissio-sama was too enthusiastic about it. At every point in the planning he would butt in and insist that he be responsible for the infiltration instead.
To be frank I didn’t want to agree, especially given how desperate for merits he was. Although he was on another level of combat strength than I was, I couldn’t help but get the feeling that he would mess this up somehow.
And honestly, it wasn’t as though I didn’t want to do this myself either. Tilea-sama had especially called for me to do this. Why would I want to hand it over. If I succeeded, wouldn’t Tilea-sama praise me? Wouldn’t Camilla-sama praise me as well?
“Hey, are you really going to be fine on your own? If you don’t think you’re up to it I’m willing to swap places with you.”
“No, no, Ortissio-sama. I am fine. There is not a problem.”
Geez, how many times had this been already? I wish he would just get the message. Didn’t he even understand that we were just wasting precious time like this? We were on a deadline.
I was right not to leave this to him. It was unacceptable to allow a mission as simple as this end in failure.
“I see… But you know, if I went instead, we could kill even more of them.”
“Ortissio-sama, Tilea-sama’s orders specified that I would infiltrate, and that you would be supporting. Tilea-sama would not have been mistaken.”
“Yes, but by extension that support should include…”
“O-, Ortissio-sama, please. How many times must we repeat this? We have already spent an hour on this, Ortissio-sama. If we continue to waste our time here, at this rate the sun will rise and we will fail the mission.”
“Mumu, you’re right in that time is wasting. Can’t be helped. The lead role is in your hands, Edim.”
In the end I would be infiltrating the mansion and taking Gordon’s head, just as Tilea-sama ordered. Ortissio and his Second Division would be surrounding the property in the one-in-a-million chance that Gordon managed to escape me.
…Exactly the same as Tilea-sama’s orders. This meeting could have been over in five minutes. Was there really a need to talk so much?
I was losing more faith in Ortissio-sama.
It was worrying. Right now Ortissio-sama wasn’t thinking properly. I wasn’t even sure I could leave the encirclement to him.
I decided to give orders to my subordinates in clandestine. I was going to message Dalf telepathically with my orders. This telepathy was something I could only use with my direct kin.
『Dalf. A matter of great urgency has come up.』
『Why if it isn’t Edim-sama. It must be quite a big deal for you to be using telepathy.』
『Indeed. A direct order from Tilea-sama. From this moment forth we commence the liquidation of the Fiend.』
『As you wish. Then I shall send out orders to our forces to immediately assemble for a general offensive on the――』
『Wait. No need for something so exaggerated. All you lot need to do is encircle the mansion. I’ll take the Fiend’s head.』
『Edim-sama, going alone is… Please excuse me for speaking out of turn, but I recommend you take a guard detachment.』
『Unnecessary. I will hardly lose to a human.』
『I understand your might, Edim-sama. However this is still the infamous Fiend. If something goes wrong, having at least one person… Please take myself or Milio along with you.』
『Enough. Stop now before I consider it disrespect.』
『Well then, Dalf, I’ll entrust the matter to you.』
『As you will. In that case I will assign the east, west, and north to Milio, Cass, and Jin respectively. Not a single ant will get past us.』
『I’ll leave it to you.』
That was done now. I wasn’t going to tell Ortissio-sama but wasn’t that fine? The more the better for an encirclement.
All that was left was the infiltrate…
“Ortissio-sama, it’s about time――” I called out to him.
Unfortunately he was giving orders to a lot of messengers and didn’t notice me.
W-, What on earth was this man doing…?
Orders were flying left and right. He really was too excited. Was he planning on mobilising the entire Second Division just for a mere human?
He was even calling back captains in the middle of campaigns abroad, and even adding prisoners of war to the encirclement. This was overkill.
I frantically tried to stop him.
“U-Umm, Ortissio-sama, please excuse me but perhaps this mission doesn’t warrant going as far as to recall your subordinates from abroad. Just the people here right now should be enough.”
“Edim. ‘One-in-a-million’. If by some one-in-a-million chance we fail to kill him are you going to be the one to take responsibility! How do you plan on taking responsibility if Tilea-sama loses faith in me!?”
It was pointless even discussing this with him. Ah well. I wouldn’t waste my time on it then. All I had to do was fetch Gordon’s head. Everything else would follow.
Just then, Dryas-sama came out to see what the noise was about.
“There you are, Ortissio! Who told you to call your soldiers back to the Capital!?” he demanded angrily.
As the Chief of General Staff, the one who managed our soldiers and missions was Dryas-sama. It was quite likely that his plans had been ruined by Ortissio-sama’s actions.
“Chief. I have a reason for moving my soldiers.”
“And what reason would that be? Depending on what you say, it may even be grounds for execu――”
“I ordered my soldiers to return here for a top secret mission from Tilea-sama,” he replied smugly.
Dryas-sama on the other hand looked astounded. Considering that it was the ever intellectual and composed Dryas-sama, Ortissio-sama’s words must have really shocked him.
“I… I see. A top secret mission from Tilea-sama… Given to you, Ortissio…?”
“Hmph. I’m not surprised that you don’t know. The orders came from Tilea-sama herself.”
“U-, Umu. In that case fulfil your duties as best you can. Worry not and use the soldiers as you need. I will take care of the rest.”
“Of course. After all, these orders came directly from Tilea-sama. Directly from Tilea-sama. It’s important so I said it twice.”
He even stole the last line from Tilea-sama…
The glee was written all over his face. During the last war council Dryas-sama really ripped him apart, so I guess this was his way of venting.
“O-, Ortissio, is there anything at all I can do to help? I would not begrudge you the assistance.”
“Chief, do you really understand what ‘top secret’ means? It means that the details are classified to anybody who Tilea-sama has not entrusted it to. I can’t even tell you about it.”
“At any rate, I’m very busy with this, so please excuse me. I must prepare for the top secret mission. Goodness, if only we had you. I’m sure the planning would be over in an instant… Too bad that Tilea-sama hasn’t trusted you with it… Kuahahahahah!”
He was provoking him so blatantly…!
Dryas-sama? ――Uohh, s-scary… Dryas-sama was enraged.
The smile on his face was terrifying. Using Tilea-sama to provoke him like that was a sure-fire way to earn his hatred.
I couldn’t even imagine the consequences of deliberately enraging the Chief of Staff of the army.
“Edim,” Dryas-sama turned to me.
“Endeavour in your top secret mission from Tilea-sama.”
“Of course she’ll try her best,” added Ortissio-sama, “After all, both Edim and I are that trusted by Tilea-sama after all.”
Please stop that, Ortissio-sama. Don’t get me involved as well. Please stop provoking him. Eek! The veins on Dryas-sama’s forehead are popping out.
Things were looking bad for me. It was time to wrap this up.
“U-, Umm, Ortissio-sama, we don’t really have that much time, so let’s go.”
“Umu. We have a lofty goal to accomplish, after all. Ahh~ If only there was a trusted Chief of Staff somewhere that could help us with our planning…”
Loudly guffawing, Ortissio-sama left the room.
Quickly, I trotted along after him. I’m begging you, Ortissio-sama, please don’t drag me in.
I was too afraid to check what kind of expression Dryas-sama was wearing.
Still running, I waited until I thought Dryas-sama was gone before speaking.
“Um, Ortissio-sama, perhaps it might be better if you didn’t provoke Dryas-sama too much.”
You’ll be the one to regret it later, you know.
“Listen, Edim. I first served Mamira-sama. Then Camilla-sama. Now I’m serving Tilea-sama. I’ve been serving for three generations. You could call me one of the oldest members.”
“Even if that brat is Camilla-sama’s creation, do you think I could stand to be looked down on by somebody who isn’t even a year old!?” he roared indignantly.
He must have been holding it in for a long time. I could tell just how angry he was.
It was true that it hadn’t been a year since Dryas-sama was born. Part of the reason that he was so high ranked was thanks to Tilea-sama and Camilla-sama’s strong support. Did the rest of the veterans feel dissatisfied like Ortissio-sama?
After that, Ortissio-sama continued to vent about Dryas-sama. I just nodded along as I ran.
Before long we reached the front of the Fiend’s mansion. The members of his Second Division were already here, encircling the mansion together with the vampires I secretly called.
We were ready.
“Well then, Ortissio-sama, I will break into――”
Why did he stop me?
I… I was kinda getting a bad feeling about this.
Ortissio-sama gestured at his subordinates and they brought something forward in response.
A person? S-, Something smelt horrific.
Uuu, this was too much on my sharpened senses.
“W-, What is that…?”
“Some homeless person we caught while cleaning up. Edim, drink up so that you’re at your best!”
“Eh-!? U-Umm, are you telling me to drink his blood?”
“Obviously. You’re about to undergo an infiltration mission, Edim. I need you in tip-top shape. Drink his blood and power up.”
‘Power up’ he says…
I had a look at the person he prepared for me. His hair was sticky with grease, as well as dandruff and other filth. His clothes weren’t in any better shape either. Who knew when the last time he had a wash was. And he had this indescribable stink too.
Even a fourth, no, fifth-order, no, even the lowliest vampire I had in my squad wouldn’t have to suffer blood from a thing like this.
“P-Please calm down, Ortissio-sama. Just finishing off a human is a simple task. There is no need for me to…”
“Silence! What do you think this mission is? How will you take responsibility for failure? Are you intending on shaming me with you!?”
“N-No, I wouldn’t dream of it.”
“Then drink up. We need you at your peak!”
Aah, this was such a bother. Maybe it would be best just to give in. It was probably going to be disgusting, but I needed to complete the mission.
“I, I understand. Then, here I go.”
Steeling myself, I sunk my fangs into this embodiment of nausea.
T-, This was even worse than I imagined. The sensation of sinking my teeth into this was…
Ugh, ogh. I was gagging. But I decided just to clear my mind and drink without thinking.
With each gulp a queasiness I couldn’t describe spread through my body.
T-, This was definitely a power down.
With teary eyes, I forced myself to finish up.
“Ugh, haah, haah, haah. I-I’ll be leaving now――”
“Wh-, What is it this time!?”
“Here’s three more. Bottoms up.”
Three more vagrants were tossed in front of me. What did he want from me…?
“U-Umm, it’s all right, Ortissio-sama. Ughpu… I, I’ve had enough.”
“Nghn? Are you telling me you won’t drink the blood I prepared for you!? Edim, could it be that you’re making a fool of me!?”
“U-Umm, no, I really just don’t need it. Or rather, I’m so full I’m feeling ill――”
“What!? You! At such an important moment you’re feeling ill!? I guess I really will have to go instead.”
Oh no. Not this again. I had to pull myself together.
“No, no, you misunderstand. I said that thanks to the blood you provided I’m feeling really well.”
“I see, I see. Then bottoms up. Gulp it all down!”
Three more of them…
And all three of them were even smellier and dirtier than the last. There were spots here and there on the skin. Maybe they were all sick with the same disease.
Actually weren’t they already rotting? They were dead. I wasn’t a necromancer!
Ugh, this was so filthy. Where was I even supposed to bite. Wasn’t there somewhere a bit cleaner? I looked the three corpses over but it was hopeless.
Kuh, but just looking at them was just wasting time. I gathered my determination and did it.
Uu, h-horrible. T-They were definitely diseased.
Oh no. This was definitely poison. Haah, haah, I was supposed to finish this? This wasn’t a joke.
Uu, s-save me, Camilla-sama.
Unfortunately Ortissio-sama wasn’t going to let me off. So cruel!
Instead I tried to imagine that it was blood given from Camilla-sama to get through it.
Enduring the nausea, I finally finished.
I, I was finally done. I-I wanted to praise myself, honestly.
“How were the seconds, Edim?”
“Ku, guh, haa, haa, f-fine… sir. A-Anyhow, I need to be going.”
“Mu! You seem to be tottering, Edim. This won’t affect your mission, will it?”
“N-, No sir. Uup… I, I just drank a little too much.”
“Honestly, this is because you got ahead of yourself.”
Haa, haa, I wanted to tell him that I was completely ill because of the filthy blood that he prepared for me.
But in that case I would have to let him perform the infiltration. And besides, I had the feeling that I wouldn’t be able to stop complaining if I started.
If I did that he’d kill me. Whatever else you said about him, Ortissio-sama was strong.
I, I didn’t want to die for such a stupid reason.
Haah, haah, this was so unreasonable. S-, So this is what Tilea-sama meant by “ab youso powah”, and why it was so bad. Subordinates feeling like idiots because of the tyranny of their superiors. Oh wait, or was this one “alko hole ab yous”…?
O-, Oh no. I was feeling trippy now. I, I had to concentrate on the mission.
“Haa, haa, w-well then, please excuse me.”
“Umu. If you haven’t taken his head by the hour, my troops will intervene. You understand?”
Within the hour… Could I do it? My body was being assaulted by dizziness. I was having trouble walking straight, and my body was shaking from the nausea. This was my first time feeling like this since I became a vampire.
C-, Could I kill the Fiend in this condition?
My earlier confidence was all but gone now.
I was astounded by Tilea-sama’s foresight. Never would I have expected that this simple mission would become this dangerous. The enemy was internal all along, wasn’t it.
It was exactly as Tilea-sama said; a dangerous mission with a survival rate of five percent, that might even lead to my death.
Haah, haah, this was so unreasonable. S-, So this is what Tilea-sama meant by “pawahara”(power harassment), and why it was so bad. Subordinates feeling like idiots because of the tyranny of their superiors. Oh wait, or was it “aruhara”(alcohol harassment)…?
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