Being guided by Elmira, we arrived at a residential area that was about a ten minute walk from the cemetery.
She had rented a room at the corner of the fourth floor in a typical five-story apartment complex. Despite her only moving in recently, there was quite a range of appliances, furniture, and equipment. There was also a baby crib.
(I never would have thought that she was in the vicinity of my house…I suppose it was right under my nose the entire time.)
Afterwards, Elmira gorged on my blood and completely recovered, as if her exhaustion from before had never happened.
On the other hand, I had lost enough blood to the point where I was about to lose consciousness and saw myself in the afterlife for several seconds. I’m pretty sure I saw my grandfather Kobayashi Kihachiro waving at me.
“Your blood really is the best. It has the right balance of sugar content and acidity, coupled with a light fruity taste…your blood has gotten the best of me.”
Wiping her lips in satisfaction, the vampire girl made a sweet smile. I didn’t need to hear her impressions about my own blood. What an unpleasant food report.
“Elmira, did you prepare all the furniture here?”
I asked that question in a lifeless voice while slouching over onto the living room table. My vision was still flickering, but I could somehow manage a conversation.
“No. This is all from the previous resident. I’m not the one renting this place…this is the home of a man named Akatori Hideo.”
Akatori──that name sounds familiar. I believe that was the name of the family associated with the “Vermilion Bird” when they were still in Japan.
(Could he be Elmira’s relative? If he had prepared that baby crib, then could he be Shizuma’s father…?)
Elmira left my side and went towards the crib where the sleeping Shizuma was.
While looking at the baby’s sleeping face, she soon answered my thoughts.
“The father of this child is──a male vampire, a ‘Bloodkin of Eternal Darkness’ like me.”
“His real name is Hidio McCartney. Though, I hadn’t been acquainted with him, and it seems that he passed away in a traffic accident before Shizuma was born.”
I knew that vampires weren’t immortal, but I didn’t think a traffic accident could do it. I’m not sure how to react.
“The McCartney family has several branches. I heard that among them, there are some whose Japanese blood still remains strong, but…I never thought that there would be someone who returned to Japan, furthermore someone from a branch family that seldom has supernatural people.”
“Supernatural people? You mean Hideo could also manipulate fire?”
“Right. However, it seems that it wasn’t to the point where he could fight using it. At best, he could light a small fire at his fingertip.”
In that case, he wouldn’t have been able to fight the “Apostles of Hell”. He could only use his powers for a barbecue.
“It seems that while Hidio, or Hideo, was alive, he was a company employee in this town.”
“So he was living as a human? Hiding the fact that he was a vampire…”
“Indeed. Since he didn’t manipulate flames, he didn’t really need to suck blood…I suppose there’s some homing instinct of the Akatori descendants that caused him to coincidentally live in the city where apostles often appear.”
…There’s one thing about what Elmira said that’s bothering me.
Shizuma’s father is Akatori Hideo. However, he died before his child was born. Furthermore, Elmira said that she wasn’t acquainted with him.
So…how did Elmira know about him?
How did she know about Hideo being a company employee in Japan? About him being a supernatural person? About Shizuma? He’s already gone.
(There’s one possibility. Thinking about it, the one who told Elmira about this must have been──Hideo’s wife. Shizuma’s true mother.)
…Somehow, I was able to get the gist of the story.
Perhaps the key person in this scenario is that mother. After all, I already got a hint in the cemetery.
Elmira said something before. She said that “Shizuma is a ‘Bloodkin of Eternal Darkness’ before being an apostle.”
The child is an apostle. However, the father isn’t an apostle. So, in that case──there’s one simple conclusion to make.
“One day, Akatori Hideo came upon a woman. He fell in love and had a child with her. That child was Shizuma.”
Elmira was approaching the core of the story.
“Ironically though, that woman was an apostle.”
“A year and a half ago, a female apostle named Reida crossed into the human world through a distortion in spacetime.
So it really was like that.
Normally, an “Apostle of Hell” wouldn’t be able to make a baby. However, there’s one exception to that. If a “special human” is their partner, then they might have children.
A special human could mean someone like Kyouka or me, a vessel for an “Evil Spirit”. Or, it could mean supernatural people like Ryuuga and the heroines…and Akatori Hideo would fall under that category.
“In other words, Shizuma is half-vampire, half-apostle…”
“That’s correct. It seems that a supernatural person, a vampire even, can make a child with an apostle. That’s why this child carries a heavy burden.”
Elmira stroked the cheek of Shizuma, who was peacefully sleeping.
“So, Elmira. Where’s that female apostle, Shizuma’s mother?”
“She’s already dead.”
“D, dead? Not just Hideo, but the mother too?”
“Yes. By the hands of the apostles who were supposed to be her companions…no wait, it seems that apostles don’t die in the human world, so it would be more accurate to say that she ‘turned into a soul’, I suppose.”
While I was dumbfounded, Elmira began talking.
She talked about how she was entrusted with Shizuma──
It was…on the night that we had a battle against Getsushiyoukan.
I was walking late at night, like usual. Vampires are essentially nocturnal. I was thinking about patrolling and even renting a horror movie.
──At that moment, I sensed the ill wills of several apostles.
Of course, I rushed over in order to enact judgement upon them. As you know, my sense of duty is stronger than most people’s. Hmm? That’s the first time you’ve heard that? Stop interrupting my story.
I came to an alleyway near the downtown area.
For some reason, five apostles were attacking a female apostle.
“You’re a disgrace, throwing away your pride as an apostle!”
“Mwahaha, you should take these two hundred years to cool your head off. Get ready, Reida!”
“Though, we’ll take that brat!”
…They said those sorts of things.
I would very much welcome an internal conflict among the apostles, but…I decided to intervene.
I mean, even if they’re apostles, I can’t turn a blind eye to several others tormenting one person, furthermore a woman.
Even if the aggressors were women, I still wouldn’t allow it. This is all because of my strong sense of justice. Hmm? Don’t worry about that and let me continue talking, okay? Do you want me to suck your blood again?
“Hold it. I cannot overlook your barbarity!”
Gallantly saying so, I dealt with the five lowly apostles in the blink of an eye. Fortunately, they were small fries, so exterminating them was easy.
They said things like “Gyaah!”, “Achacha!”, or “What strength! And what beauty!” while soon disappearing. I’m not exaggerating. What, why are you looking at me so suspiciously?
However, it was already too late for the female apostle and she began to disappear as well.
The apostle introduced herself as Reida and embraced a baby near her chest. She asked something of me that I didn’t expect.
“Head of the ‘Bloodkin of Eternal Darkness’…Elmira McCartney…”
“Oh, you know about me?”
“This child, please, this child…”
“Where did that baby come from?”
“It’s mine…Akatori Hideo’s and mine…”
While I was surprised by the mention of that family name, Reida mustered the last of her strength to talk about her circumstances.
Though she came to the human world, she was thrown out in the cold by her companions.
That’s when she met Akatori Hideo.
She fell in love with him, cast aside her identity as an apostle, and decided to live as a human.
Hideo died in an accident right before she gave birth to Shizuma.
Shizuma had excellent qualities as an apostle, and Qiongqi aimed to make a subordinate out of the child.
…It seems that Shizuma has the potential to become an important general. Considering that we’re talking about an apostle from a vampire, that’s no surprise.
“However…I don’t want this child to fight…I want Shizuma to coexist with humans…and find happiness, just like we did…”
“Hideo wanted that as well…he wanted the humans and nonhumans to understand each other…”
“I see. Vampires like us can coexist…so perhaps apostles can as well.”
“Elmira McCartney…please, please protect this child…until the day I revive, or even just three…years…”
Those were Reida’s last words.
And so──I decided to protect Shizuma.