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Chapter 10 - Into the Darkness

Ordinarily, the late hour was the peak of business for the Alegria tavern. On any other day the chairs would all be filled with familiar faces, chattering away and enjoying food and drink. But tonight, not a single seat was taken, for so great was the terror of the Vampire Murders that none dared leave their homes.

Left with nothing else to do, Lucca had set about  cleaning the tavern, but the task was quickly finished. She slouched at the spotless counter, thoroughly bored.

There hadn't been any sign of her friend Alphonse that day. Still, considering the rumors she had heard of the Garrard Team's night time patrols, it wasn't all that surprising.

'He must be really busy,' she thought to herself.

Still, she couldn't pretend that she wasn't disappointed by the fact. Thoughts of Alphonse weighing on her mind, she let out a gloomy sigh.

The tavern's owner stopped washing cutlery on the other side of the counter and gave her a warm smile.

'Go along home for today. It's dangerous around these parts lately, so you're best getting back,' he called. 

Just as she went to do so, however, the bell over the door chimed. A customer had entered the tavern. Lucca jumped out of her chair in a panic. What she saw made her gasp. Standing in the doorway of the tavern was a young man in a bloodstained soldier's uniform. Letting out a short shriek of horror, she rushed over to the man. The uniform he had on was the same as the one worn by Alphonse, leading her to immediately think it might be him. As she drew closer, though, she realized it wasn't. Relief washed over her.

Getting a closer look at his face, Lucca was startled to find that she actually recognized him. A long time ago, when Alphonse had first joined the army, he had brought the man before her with him to visit the tavern. She remembered hearing that the two of them weren't on very good terms anymore, however. 

His name was...Elroy?

The tavern's owner hurried over with a first aid kit, clearly concerned, but Elroy showed no interest in him. His eyes were focused unwaveringly on Lucca.

'Hello, friend of Alphonse. I'm going to have to ask you to come with me,' he muttered. His following smile was anything but inviting. 

By the time Alphonse and Rose arrived, the tavern was in a terrible state. Chairs were strewn everywhere. Tables lay in pieces all about the space, and the floor was covered in smashed glass and broken crockery. On the other side of the counter they found the owner, blood trickling from his temple.

Calmly, Rose used the church's Thaumaturgy to heal him. Its mysterious power closed his wound, and soon after, he regained consciousness. The second he did, Alphonse began to bombard him with questions. 

'What happened here? Where's Lucca?!'

He couldn't see any sign of her, and that worried him intensely.

'...A boy in a military uniform came...no, that was no human. It was a monster... I tried to fight him off but he...he took Lucca...'

The moment he uttered Lucca's name, he fell unconscious once again. Not long after, the soldiers who had been patrolling the surrounding area heard what had happened and hurried to the scene. The area soon filled with the sounds of people's voices and soldiers running up and down the streets. Even a number of the local residents had woken up and begun to gather to see what was going on. Eventually, Garrard himself arrived, and set about questioning the tavern's owner and investigating the scene with a number of his subordinates. Alphonse and Rose, meanwhile, stood in the shadow of a building not far away. 

'Damn you, Elroy...!' Alphonse cried as he punched one of the brick walls with all his might. Nearby, Rose stood with her arms folded, deep in thought.

'...Stay calm. We have every reason to believe that Lucca is still alive.' 

Elroy had fled to search for new blood to heal his injuries and increase his power. If he was intending to use Lucca for that purpose, there was no reason to take her away - it would have been far quicker and easier to just drink her blood in the tavern. Thus, it was safe to assume that he had a different purpose in mind for her, and the most likely reason seemed to be to use her to lure them somewhere.

'I suspect that I know where he has headed,' said Rose. She pointed down at the ground below their feet.

During the previous day's encounter with Elroy, he had summoned a large number of ghouls out of seemingly nowhere, each of them victims without families or friends to note their absence. Elroy had been abducting them in secret and storing them somewhere for when he wanted them, and there was every reason to believe there were more. To stash them, he would need quite a sizable area, but it also had to be one where the chance of them being found would be quite low - in other words, a place that no one really went. A perfect match for both of those conditions was the network of underground passages beneath the city. The tunnels had been built during the Dark Ages several hundred years prior, and were not normally used by people. Somewhere in there, Rose theorized, Elroy was probably waiting for them. 

Alphonse proposed that they depart immediately. After all, every second they waited increased the danger that Lucca was in. Rose, however, stood silently, her eyes cast downwards.

'...Is something bothering you?' Alphonse asked.

Her mouth tightened. 'Two things, in fact. Firstly, I suspect that Elroy is what is known as an Elder Vampire.' 

There were, Rose explained, several kinds of vampires. Those who were legitimate descendants of the race were known as True Ancestors. The True Ancestors were said to have all perished, but those who were closely related to them were known as Elder Vampires, and unlike True Ancestors, some Elder Vampires still remained. Elder Vampires were filled with a lust for blood every ten or so years, and in surrendering themselves to that lust, they had been responsible for countless deaths throughout history. As a vampire hunter, therefore, they were Rose's most important targets.

Furthermore, they were apparently among the most powerful of all vampires, with exceptional growth potential. As an example of this, Rose explained that when Lucca was first attacked, she had been guided to a deserted area by a high-level ability called Charm, which allowed the user to control the thoughts of their victim to a certain degree. It was finding out that Lucca had lost her memories of what happened when she was attacked that had first alerted Rose to the possibility that Elroy might be an Elder Vampire, and that was what had first led her to try to distance Alphonse from her investigation.

The fact that they might be dealing with an Elder Vampire was only one of her concerns, however, though the other was closely related to it.

'The astonishing power Elder Vampires possess is amplified even further at night. Because of that, it should be impossible for them to be able to disguise their presence completely.'

And yet, in the battle against Elroy earlier, he had been able to do just that, allowing him to make his escape. It had so surprised Rose that she had missed her chance to finish him off.

'It's possible that he's no ordinary Elder Vampire. Or perhaps he is something even more terrifying...' she mused aloud. 

They had no way of telling what Elroy was truly capable of, or even what he truly was. As such, it was impossible to gauge how much danger they would be putting themselves in by following him, especially knowing that they would be walking right into a trap. While she had no choice but to follow, she found herself questioning whether bringing Alphonse along would really be a good idea. The reservation must have been plain on her face, because Alphonse cut off her thoughts with a determined shake of the head. 

'Rose, I've told you already that I'm not going to die. I won't let you be alone ever again. I don't care how strong our opponent is, I'm not going to go back on my word.' 

The resolve was clear and unwavering in his eyes. With or without her blessing he would see it through to the end. He could not, would not, abandon someone living a life of solitude like he once did.

The pure innocence of that emotion and empathy was enough to recall her own bleak loneliness. The dark feelings passed over her features like a cloud obscuring the stars. There was, after all, one other secret she had yet to part with. And that, more than anything, was the cause of her solitude. The warmth of his words almost coaxed it from her lips, so moved was she, but now wasn't the time. For the moment, his heartfelt declaration was enough for her. Their priority needed to be saving his friend. Everything else could wait. 

'I'm sorry,' she said. 'I thought I had overcome my hesitations, but it seems that wasn't the case.'

With a mental shake of the head, she pushed her doubts deep within and slowly moved her hand downwards towards her waist. Her fingers sought out her spare blade, an elegant longsword. Unclipping it from her belt, she handed it to Alphonse. 

'This should serve as a replacement for that broken saber. I imagine you'll be able to fight more comfortably with this.'

Alphonse hefted it in his hand, admiring the balance. He slipped it a hand's width out of the scabbard for a closer look. Like Rose's other purified weapons, it had a silvery glow that seemed to suck in the light of the red moon. A blow from a blade like this would surely stop a vampire in its tracks. 

Rose had always known that the short sword she had given Alphonse was hardly the ideal weapon for him. She had done this deliberately, hoping that having an unsuitable weapon would dissuade him from trying to get actively involved in battle. And yet, not once had he balked at entering the fray. With whatever resources he had at his disposal, Alphonse was always ready to jump right in. Giving him the longsword, therefore, was a sign that she now regarded him as someone worthy of trust, and an apology for underestimating him previously.

Alphonse acknowledged the gift, and perhaps apology, with a nod of the head and attached the blade to his sturdy leather baldric. They regarded one another for a moment then, and swore to do what needed to be done. Their mutual resolve reaffirmed, they took off into the deep darkness where Lucca... and the vampire...waited. 

Next to Heimdallr, there flowed a great river known as the Anor. Facing out onto it was Heimdallr Port, and in one corner of that port was a door that led down into an underground passage. The entrance was usually locked for safety reasons, but they forced it open without much trouble and stepped inside.

The air within was a mixture of mold, rusting metal, and a pervasive smell of damp. Cautiously, they moved along the slick stone path, ears and eyes strained for any movement.

The tunnel was connected to the river itself, and the torpid water flowed all the way into the deep darkness further along the passage. It had been constructed during the Dark Ages, and the network of passages under the city was so vast that no one knew just how far it stretched, or exactly what lay within it. The entire area had long been abandoned. No maintenance or modernization had ever been done. To Alphonse's eye, it looked as though they were setting foot in some ancient labyrinth untouched by time or man for hundreds of years. 

They proceeded deeper inside, following Elroy's trail along the waterway with only the faintest of light from the red moon trickling through the periodic grates to illuminate their path. The scent coming from him had returned in full force, filling the air with tension as they drew closer and closer to their quarry. 

They proceeded cautiously, and more slowly now, as even the light from the moon eventually abandoned them during their descent. The pitch darkness did not last for long, however. As they advanced, they soon started to come across torches here and there, attached at intervals along the wall. The glow from the flickering light was both inviting and sinister.

'It looks like he really has been using this place as a hideout for quite a while,' Alphonse commented.

He and 'others', Rose thought with distaste. It seemed very likely that the people Elroy had abducted were somewhere around too. No sooner had the thought crossed her mind then she sensed movement. She sighed. 

'It looks as though we're too late.'

The meaning of Rose's words soon became clear. Slowly but surely, a number of figures drew closer to them from ahead. They shuffled and jerked with unnatural cadence.

Ghouls.

While Elroy had abducted Lucca without drinking her blood, it seemed as though he had used the other people he had been keeping here in her place. Alphonse couldn't help but feel a slight sense of  relief when he realized that Lucca wasn't among them, but that didn't prove for certain that she was still unharmed. After all, all Elroy needed to do to get them to chase after him was have them believe that there was a chance that she was still alive. 

As the creatures approached, it was clear that they had no time to waste. Alphonse quickly drew the longsword, while Rose already had her templar sword and pistol in hand, ready for battle.

'We need to deal with these first!' 

'Right!'

Their course of action decided, they both charged  into the horde of advancing ghouls. It was the first time that Alphonse had been forced to engage in actual combat with ghouls, and he found it emotionally draining. After all, the ghouls were nothing more than victims of the vampire. They hadn't chosen to have their lives taken, or to be compelled to seek to devour their fellows - it had all been forced upon them. As such, he was not fighting to kill them, but to free them. Thinking of it logically didn't do much to reduce the pain of taking up arms against a another human being, though. His heart ached every time he cut one down. Rose, meanwhile, was mowing down ghouls like a scythe through the summer harvest. They were nothing more than obstacles in her way, and their shambling attacks were no match for her peerless work with the blade. No matter the speed and skill with which she dispatched them, though, more ghouls emerged from the darkness to block her path. 

Watching her, Alphonse couldn't help but wonder how long she had been enduring the same pain that he was feeling now. It didn't show on her face, but he remembered the tenderness with which she had handled the ghoul after defeating it on their first meeting. She was as disgusted as he with their plight. He wanted to know what had driven her to continue subjecting herself to that pain over and over again - what had driven her to the depths of solitude. But most of all, he wanted to find some way that he  could be of help to her. Right now, however, all that he could do for her was to continue to fight. 

Shoving down the sorrow he felt with every swing of the sword that met flesh, he kept advancing forward through the mass of bodies before him. 

Using the torches on the walls as their beacons, Alphonse and Rose hurried as best they could through the maze of passages. Tens upon tens of ghouls tried to obstruct their path, but they continued to carve their way forward. They advanced, but slowly, each battle taking a toll on their stamina and energy. Eventually, the path ahead of them opened, and they found themselves in a wide, spacious area. The ground here was gray and soft beneath their feet. It was earth, not stone. A number of crosses were lined up in tidy rows in the sweeping space, probably erected during the Dark Ages. Their bindings looked so weathered that they could have crumbled to the ground at any moment. The area was lit only by a few sputtering torches, but it was enough to see that they must be in a catacomb of some sort.

The atmosphere in the subterranean tomb was even gloomier than it had been in the passages they had passed through to reach it. At its center stood a single, silent man wearing a black coat over his tattered army uniform.

Alphonse had been leaning exhaustedly against Rose after their seemingly endless battles with the ghouls, but when he spied the familiar figure he let out a mighty yell. 

'Elroy!'

His voice boomed throughout the chamber, but the other man didn't flinch in the slightest. Instead, he calmly turned to face them. The air grew heavy with malevolence.

'I've been expecting you,' he said. Smiling, he regarded them with amusement. As his lips crept farther and farther up, his needle-sharp fangs were slowly revealed. They were stained a deep, wet red. 

第10回 暗への追走

宿酒场〈アレグリア〉。普段なら、颜なじみばかりで席が埋まっているはずの深夜の时间帯。しかし今夜は吸血鬼事件に関系する伝达がされた影响か、ただの一人も客はいなかった。 

ここで従业员として働くルッカは手持ち无沙汰に店内の扫除をしていたが、それも一通り终えてしまい、カウンター席に退屈そうに座っていた。

 彼女の幼驯染、アルフォンスも今日は来なかった。今夜はガラード队の队员たちが総出で帝都を巡回しているという噂だから、きっと彼も忙しくしているのだろう。 

少し残念な気持ちになってしまい、忧郁にため息をつくルッカ。


 カウンターの向こう侧で食器を拭いていたマスターは、そんな彼女を见て穏やかに笑うと、

「今日はもう帰っていいよ、最近何かと物騒だから」と声をかける。ルッカもそうしようかと考えていた矢先——静まりかえった店内に軽快な音が鸣った。正面玄関に备え付けられた、客が访れたことを知らせる合図だ。

ルッカは慌てて椅子から立ち上がり——息を呑んだ。店の入り口に立っていたのは、血涂れの军服姿を着た青年だったのだ。

「きゃあっ!」短い悲鸣を上げて駆け寄るルッカ。 

见惯れた服装に、ルッカは一瞬幼驯染のことを思い浮かべたが、明らかに别人であることを确认して思わずホッとしてしまう。

 その颜には见覚えがあった。ずいぶん前、アルフォンスが军に入ってすぐの顷に、彼の诱いで店を访れたこともある青年。今ではどうしてか険悪な仲だと闻いていた。

 确か、名前は……エルロイ。

 マスターが慌てて救急箱を取り出し、駆けつけて気遣うが、彼は反応を一切示さない。その瞳はまっすぐにルッカを睨みつけていた。 

「アルフォンスの幼驯染——俺と共に来てもらうぞ」

ぼそりとそう呟くと、エルロイは途辙もなく邪悪な笑みを浮かべた。



  アルフォンスとロゼが駆けつけた顷には、店内は酷いありさまになっていた。

 倒れ転がる椅子。砕かれ木片と化したテーブル。粉々になった食器やグラスがばら撒かれ、カウンターの阴にこめかみから血を流したマスターが倒れていた。

ロゼは落ち着いて、教会に伝わる法术でマスターの治疗を试みる。不可思议な力によって怪我が塞がり、目を覚ました彼に、それまで呆然と立ち尽くしていたアルフォンスが问い诘める。

「しっかり、一体何があった!?」

——ルッカの姿がどこにもない。それが彼の心をざわめかせた。

「……军服の若者が来て……いや、あれは、化け物だった。 

 抵抗、したんだが……そいつが、ルッカちゃんをさらっ、て……」 

マスターはかろうじてそう言うと、再び気を失ってしまった。


近くを巡回していた队员がようやく现场に駆けつけ、辺りは騒然としていた。寝静まっていた近隣の住民たちまでもが徐々に集まり始める。间もなくガラード队长も到着し、少人数でマスターへの事情聴取と现场の捜査が行われていた。 

 アルフォンスとロゼは、そこから少しだけ离れた建物の阴にいた。

「——エルロイッ……!!」 

声を荒げ、思い切りレンガの壁を殴りつけるアルフォンス。そのまま怒りに打ち震える彼を见つつ、ロゼは、腕を组んで何かを考え込んでいた。

「……落ち着いて下さい。まだルッカさんは无事のはずです」

エルロイは、怪我の回复と自身の力を増すために新たな血を求めていた。ルッカの血を吸えば目的は果たされたはずなのに、彼はそうせずに、ただ连れ去った。おそらく、アルフォンスたちを何処かへおびき寄せるために。

「彼が向かったのは、おそらく——」 

 确信をもってロゼは指差す——自分たちの足元を〔#「自分たちの足元を」に傍点〕。

前回のエルロイとの戦闘で、彼は无数の尸人《グール》を呼び出した。それらは、捜索届けの出されない身寄りのない者たちだった。エルロイは彼らを密かに连れ去り、どこかに“备蓄”していたのだ。おそらく、未だに何人もの人々が。 

 それだけの人数を闭じ込めておける広大なスペースでありながら、普段は人が足を踏み入れず、见つかる可能性の低い场所。

条件を満たすのは、数百年前の〈暗黒时代〉の遗构——帝都の下に広がる地下道。そのどこかにエルロイがいるはずだ——そう语るロゼに、すぐに向かうことを提案するアルフォンス。一刻も早く见つけなければ、ルッカの身が危険だ。しかしロゼは目を伏せて黙ってしまう。

「……何か、気がかりでもあるのか?」

「ええ、2つほど……まず、あのエルロイというお方は“|高位の吸血鬼《エルダーヴァンパイア》”である可能性が高いでしょう」 

 吸血鬼と呼ばれる一族の、正统な血统——それは“真祖”と称されている。“真祖”の一族は、长いゼムリア大陆の歴史ですでに失われたらしいが、より近い血を持つ者たちは“高位の吸血鬼”と呼ばれ、今もどこかに潜んでいるという。

彼らは十数年に一度访れるという血への渇望に従うまま、歴史の裏で数多の犠牲者を出しているのだ。

それは吸血鬼狩りのロゼにとって、最大のターゲットと言って过言でない相手だ。

彼らは、吸血鬼の中でも特别に飞びぬけた力と成长性を持つ。例えば最初にルッカが袭われた时、彼女は“魅了”と呼ばれる高等な术を使われて人気のない所へと连れ出されたらしい。人の思考をある程度操るという恐ろしい术——ロゼは、袭われる前后の记忆を失っていたルッカを见て“高位の吸血鬼”の存在に気づき、アルフォンスを远ざけたのであった。

 敌がそんな强大な力を持っていることが、気がかりの一つ。

そして、もう一つの気がかりも、それに関系することである。

「“高位の吸血鬼”の强大な力は、夜になればさらに増幅されます。

 それゆえに、その気配を完全に绝つことはできないはずなのです」 

 ついさっきの出来事だ。エルロイの放っていた强烈な気配が、目くらましと共に完全に绝たれた。その予想外の事态に、ロゼは止めを刺す机会を逸してしまったのである。 

「彼はただの“高位の吸血鬼”ではないのかもしれません。 

あるいはもっと强大で、凶悪な何か——」エルロイはその全貌をまだ现していない。そんな状态で、罠と知りながらみすみす追迹してもいいものかを、ロゼは计りかねていた。

 やはり、アルフォンスを连れて行くべきではないのかも——そんな考えに至った彼女を见透かすかのようにアルフォンスはすぐさま口を开いた。

「ロゼ、何度も言わせるな。俺は死なない。

 君に孤独をもたらさない。 

 相手がどんなに强大であろうとその誓いは决して违えない」

 揺るぎない一本の芯が通った言叶。孤独な者を决して见舍てないという、彼の信念から纺ぎだされた真っ直ぐな言叶に、ロゼは一瞬だけ寂しい目をする。

——彼女には、もう一つだけ言っていない秘密があった。 

 それこそが、彼女の抱える“孤独”の大部分を成す要因——アルフォンスに再び温かい言叶をかけられ、思わずこの场でそれを吐露しそうになる。……しかし今はその时ではない。今の自分には、彼のこの言叶だけで十分なのだ。彼の大切な幼驯染を何としても救う。そのことに集中しなければ。

「——私としたことが、まだ迷っていたようです」 

 そう言って気持ちを抑え込んだロゼは、おもむろに腰に手をやる。

 法剣と反対侧に携えられていた长剣——に手を伸ばしたのだ。ベルトに固定していた留め金を外すと、それをアルフォンスに手渡した。 

「折れた剣の代わりです。

 あなたにはそちらの方が使いやすいでしょう」

アルフォンスはその重みを确かめながら、少しだけ刀身を引き出す。赤い月の光を反射する白银——まごうことなき、吸血鬼を灭ぼすための辉きだ。

 もともとアルフォンスには扱いづらいであろう短剣を渡したのも、彼が积极的に戦闘に介入できないようにするためだった。

 だがアルフォンスは一度として退かなかった。彼の心意気を侮っていたことへの谢罪と、再び协力を结ぶという证。2つの意味を込めて、その剣は渡されたのだった。

 アルフォンスは力强くうなずき、その白银の剣を自分の腰に携える。

 2人は再び颜を见合わせる。

地下道——そこにルッカはいる。必ず救い出してみせる。若き军人と“吸血鬼狩り”は深い暗の中へ走り出した。

 帝都の脇には、アノール河と呼ばれる広大な河川が存在する。そこに面する形で建设されたヘイムダル港——その一角に、地下道への扉はあった。

 普段は安全のため封锁されている扉を强引にこじ开け、アルフォンスとロゼは意を决して进入する。内部にはアノール河に繋がる水路が引き込まれており、その水の流れが静寂な暗暗の奥深くへと続いているのが分かる。

かつて〈暗黒时代〉に建设された地下都市の遗迹はあまりに広大で、その全容は计り知れない。一切の整备がなされていないまま打ち舍てられた仄暗い空间は、まさに暗暗の迷宫ともいうべき様相を呈していた。

 アルフォンスとロゼは、わずかに差し込む赤い月の光だけを頼りに水路沿いを进み、吸血鬼エルロイの気配を辿っていく。

あの时一度途切れた“匂い”は、今また凄まじい紧张を深奥から漂わせている。

 注意深く进んでいくと、ついに差し込んでいた月の光も途切れてしまい、辺りは完全な暗に包まれる。だがそれは短い间のことで、少し进むと壁に小さな松明が次々と立てかけられ、道を淡く照らしていた。

「やはり、以前からここを隠れ処にしていたんだな」

とすれば、エルロイにさらわれていた身寄りのない者たちも、このどこかにいるはずだ。そう考えたアルフォンスだったが、ロゼは目を伏せて静かに首を振る。

「どうやら……手遅れだったようです」

前方の暗の中に何かを见つけたのだ。こちらにゆっくりと迫ってくる、いくつもの影。尸人と化した人间——だ。ルッカの血を吸わずに连れ去ったエルロイだったが、その补填は彼がこの场所に“备蓄”していた人々によって果たされてしまったらしい。 

 この尸人たちの中にルッカがいなかった事に少しだけ安堵したアルフォンスだが、もちろん彼女の安全は保证されているわけではない。エルロイがアルフォンスたちをおびき寄せるためには、彼女が生きている可能性だけを提示すればよいのだから。

 もはや一刻の犹予も许されない。白银の长剣を引き抜くアルフォンス。ロゼはすでに法剣と铳を构えた戦闘态势だ。 

「行きますよ!」

「応!」

挂け声とともに、2人は尸人の群れに雪崩れ込んだ。 

——初めてまともに対峙する尸人たちとの戦いは、アルフォンスの心を著しく消耗させた。彼らはあくまで吸血鬼の被害者でしかない。その生命を夺われたばかりか、人を喰らうなどというおぞましい禁忌を、无理矢理に破らされているのだ。

受け取った剣は、そんな彼らに安息を与えるためのものだ……理解していても、斩りつけただけの伤を心に负うのを感じていた。

 ロゼは舞うように武器を操り、次々と彼らを倒して道を开いていく。少しだけ进むとまた新たな尸人が现れ、彼女の舞いの相手となる。

 彼女は今まで、こんな痛みをたった一人で背负い込んできたのだろうか。绝望的なまでの孤独だ。何が彼女をそんな场所に追い込んだのか、アルフォンスは知りたかった。その上で、何か力になれることを探してやりたいと思った。だが、今はその时ではない。

アルフォンスは心の痛みに耐えながら、がむしゃらに剣を振るい、前へと进む。



 壁の松明を道标に、复雑な地下道を駆け抜けるアルフォンスとロゼ。数十体の尸人をなぎ倒し、体力と精神を削りながら进撃を続け——

やがて2人は、开けた场所にたどり着いた。 

 水路が傍にあるためか湿り気のある灰色の土に、规则的に并べられた十字架。かつての暗黒时代のものだろうか、风化しかけたそれらは今にも崩れ落ちそうなほど古びている。数本の松明だけで照らされたそこは——古の地下墓所《カタコンベ》というべき场所だった。

暗き地下道の中にあってより一层阴気な気配に包まれるその场所——その中央に、军服の上に黒き外套を着込んだ男がひっそりと立っていた。 

 ここまででかなり疲弊していたアルフォンスはロゼにその半身を预けつつも、その姿を捉えると大声でその名を呼んだ。


「エルロイ!!」


 地下の全てに反响して响いたかのようなそれにも动じず、男は黒き外套を翻して振り向いた。祸々しい紧张が辺りを包む。


「よく来たな——」 


薄い笑みを浮かべた口元には、数多の生命を吸った血涂れの牙が覗いていた。

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