‘Now, Roger, synchronize!’ I urged internally, bracing for impact. … With a tight-lipped smile, I said proudly, “You’ll see.”
Anticipating her next move, I swiftly sidestepped her lunging strike. Seizing the moment, I pivoted on my heel and delivered a powerful punch straight into her abdomen, the force resonating through my arm.
A cramp of frustration coursed through me. Our synchronized strike, which I had poured so much hope and energy into, felt disappointingly ordinary.
Letitia taunted, “That’s it? With all your bravado, you land such a soft punch? How disappointing for the son of this nation’s most powerful.”
A mix of anger and disbelief welled up inside me, threatening to spill over. I forced a smirk, trying to mask my rising anxiety. “Impressive observation, Letitia.”
With a sudden, predatory sparkle in her eyes, she lunged, grasping both my arms wrapped in her fingers with a chilling, vice-like grip; a rush of fear and adrenaline surged through me. Every instinct screamed to move, to evade her impending strike aimed at my vulnerable neck. But her movement halted abruptly, just an inch from my jugular; insane pressure flooded the room. Anthony freed a vast amount of magical energy onto the open, trying to intimidate Letitia and stop her from injuring me or even worse.
“Ah, the little Duke is now furious!” Letitia mocked as she released me.
Her mocking tone felt like a dagger, each word twisting deeper. “Ah, the little Duke has a temper, right?” Letitia taunted, her fingers releasing their chilling grip but her voice leaving a sting.
A surge of anger welled up, and I turned to Anthony, my voice tinged with betrayal. “I never asked for your help. Why step in now?”
Anthony’s response was a mere murmur, but it carried a weight of disappointment and reprimand. “Do you realize she’s been holding back? You could’ve been defeated multiple times already.”
Her eerily joyous laughter reverberated through the chamber, each note designed to belittle. “Did you catch that, little Duke?”
“I am older than you, you know?” Anthony retorted.
Their words got on my nerves. Internally, Roger inquired, ‘Aren’t you irritated?’ ‘More than you know,’ I responded, feeling the weight of every word. ‘But it’s clear we’re outmatched right now. We need to harness our new power better.’ Roger’s agreement was palpable, ‘Yes, but don’t be too harsh on me when we train.’ As I tried to regain my composure, Letitia, with a smirk, mocked,” For a bastard child, you’re predictably weak. Maybe it’s in your blood to always fall short.” The insult stung, but I wouldn’t let her see that.
Letitia, trying to regain control of the situation, proposed. “If the Duke is so protective, here’s a deal: a free hit at wherever part of my body you want. If you can’t make me feel pain, accept your insignificance and leave.”
Letitia, seeing an opportunity to mock me further, proposed her challenge. The proposal chewed at my pride. I knew, deep down, I might not be ready to defeat her entirely. But this was about more than just winning; it was about proving her wrong, about showing her I wasn’t the weakling she thought I was. ‘If I can land a solid hit, even if she’s motionless, maybe I can give her a glimpse of the potential within me,’ I reasoned internally. With a surge of determination, I nodded. “Deal”.
Bracing myself, I drew upon every ounce of my energy, feeling it meld seamlessly with Roger’s. Together, we unleashed a blow of unparalleled force. The air seemed to ripple with its intensity. Letitia, caught off-guard, was propelled backward with such velocity that she became a blur. She collided with the wall, the impact resonating like a clap of thunder. Stone fragments and dust erupted from the point of contact, forming a hazy cloud around her as she slumped to the ground, momentarily stunned by the sheer force of our combined strike.
A voice echoed in my mind, accompanied by a visual meter: “Desire Synchronization Meter: 15%.”
‘Only 15%? We have a long way to go,’ I thought to myself.
An amused chuckle escaped her lips, carrying an unsettling hint of perverse delight. “Huh, huh. You are amazing, Alexander,” she observed, her eyes distant, cheeks flushed, and lips forming a weird smile.
The remnants of our battle still lingered in the room, evidenced by the scattered debris and the smoky scent in the air. Letitia’s twisted expression, a contorted mixture of pleasure and malice, starkly contrasted with the fierce combatant I had just faced. It was deeply unsettling.
“‘Did I mix your wires? What’s with that expression?'” I voiced aloud, not expecting an answer but needing to express my unease.
Anthony’s laughter, unexpected in the tension-filled room, echoed softly. “She’s been unhinged for quite some time. But her… peculiar cravings? Believe me, it’s not just your blood she yearns for.”
I frowned, trying to wrap my head around the strange turn of events. “Speaking of which, since when can vampires contort their faces so disgustingly? It’s nightmarish!”
He paused, his gaze distant, perhaps recalling a memory. “I’ve heard tales of certain vampire strains possessing such a trait. I just never imagined she’d be one of them.”
Shaking his head, he looked around the battle-worn room. “This isn’t the place for such discussions. We need to regroup and strategize,” he declared, guiding me towards the fort’s gathering room.
As we walked towards the Captain’s room, Roger’s voice wavered. ‘She’s absolutely unhinged!’
‘Well, I’d say she’s… distinct,’ I countered.
‘Distinct? She scares the hell out of me!’ Roger’s voice trembled.
‘We’ll handle it,’ I assured him, heading for the door.
We went to a grand reunion room within the main city guard fort. Large wooden beams crisscrossed the high ceiling, and banners bearing the city’s crest hung with solemnity. At the far end of the room sat two imposing figures. Clad in a pristine medieval military uniform, one had an air of strict discipline about him — the Captain of the City Guard. Beside him was the Knight’s Order Commander, his armored suit gleaming under the room’s torchlight and his helmet resting on the long wooden table before them.
As we entered, a distant, faint sound echoed faintly, eerily reminiscent of explosions. The sudden realization of its implications made my heart race.
“What on earth is that?” I demanded, my voice betraying a mix of anxiety and surprise.
The two men exchanged glances, their faces betraying little emotion, a testament to their years of experience dealing with crises.”
“Oh, you survived! I knew you had it in you.” Said the Knight’s Order commander.
I exhaled deeply, relief mixed with lingering fear. “I barely made it out. But what’s happening now?” I asked, my ears still ringing from distant explosions.
Anthony, ever the composed one, gestured towards a large map on the table. “Look at this. The pattern of killings resembles a donut.”
I leaned closer, trying to decipher the significance. “But why?”
“It’s peculiar. Despite being a higher vampire, she’s exhibiting behaviors of a lower vampire — more animalistic, more instinctive. This donut pattern? She’s likely keeping the area in the center clear of bodies to avoid attracting potential threats while she rests in her nest.”
He is talking as if that’s something everyone knows, whatever; I will ask him later
Also, a realization hit me hard. While these seasoned soldiers and Anthony seemed unfazed, I felt a chill run down my spine.
“But only became visible with the fifty killings of today,” Anthony said, bringing me back to reality.
Before anyone could respond, a faint commotion outside the door caught our attention. The murmurs grew louder, hinting at urgency. The entrance to the room I had fought in just moments ago was pushed open with force. An injured woman staggered in, her face a mask of pain. “I need a healing potion,” she gasped.
“Ah, so you’re finally here,” said Anthony, his tone neutral but his eyes betraying a hint of suspicion.
The injured woman took a deep breath and replied, “Yes, it’s me. I know you’ve been discussing recent events.”
A heavy silence settled in the room as everyone waited for her to continue.
“The monster wreaking havoc? She’s my sister,” she finally confessed, her voice laced with pain.
The Knight’s Order Commander leaned forward, “Your sister? How did this happen?”
“She’s fallen under the influence of the pro-republic revolutionaries. They’ve manipulated her, using her as a pawn for their ambitions in the capital,” she finished, her voice tinged with a mix of anger and sorrow.
The room was thick with tension, each person processing the implications of her words. After a moment, the Knight’s Order Commander, breaking the silence, leaned forward, his fingers steepled. “Your sister’s actions have been erratic. Initially, the victims were mainly low-ranking nobles and government officials. But about a week ago, the pattern changed. The killings became indiscriminate.” He paused, glancing upwards as if piecing together a puzzle, lost in thought.
“We had a lot of movement from pro-republic revolutionaries this last month here in the capital, and they finally attacked us directly today,” the commander announced, his gaze sweeping over us.
He took a deep breath, organizing his thoughts. “I have a theory. We need to capture and interrogate someone to confirm it. Consider this: The revolutionaries discovered these two sisters’ true nature as young vampires. They launched an attack, aiming to manipulate them. Initially, they succeeded, unleashing one to wreak havoc. But a week ago? They lost control, and she went berserk.”
Her eyes aflame with anger, the vampire woman responded tersely, “It’s a plausible theory.”
The Knight’s commander chimed in, his voice grave, “Their actions have led to this uprising. They cannot be allowed to continue. They must be eradicated.”
Interjecting with authority, the commander declared, “The knights and the city guard will address the uprising. As for the three of you, with your ties to the Wellesley family, your task is the beast. Decide her fate, whether she lives or dies.”
As the weight of his words settled, the door banged open. A breathless and ashen-faced guard slipped in, clearly in the grip of panic.
“Th-the princess’s palace… the princess’s palace is…” he stammered, gasping for air. Everyone in the room leaned in, faces etched with concern, awaiting some catastrophic revelation. My heart raced as I braced myself for the worst.
The guard took a deep breath, trying to steady himself. “…the princess’s palace,” the guard gasped for air, holding his side as if he’d run a marathon, “it’s… It’s safe. Absolutely nothing happened there.”
The atmosphere instantly shifted from tense anticipation to stunned disbelief, except for one person. I left my sword on the table before me, my eyebrows shooting up in sheer bewilderment, and placed my hands on my face.
‘This reminds me of a popular show back in my old world,’ Roger said internally. I do not understand what he means.
“Who the f*** ordered you to report something like that? And in that way?” I asked the guard while feeling furious.
The guard turned to the commander and stared at him; then he began laughing uproarly.
“You f****** bastard.”
Everyone in the room just stared at the commander in disbelief.
Still laughing, the commander finally decided to leave. “This was interesting, but I am taking my leave. I haven’t been called, but yet there might be someone strong out there to fight.”
Anthony, making a reverence position to the commander, asked him to give them orders.
“I would never ask a child to kill a human being; stay in your line of work, Duke; the time will come for you to kill someone. Today’s not the day.” He said as he left, the captain guard following behind.