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Chapter 11 - Battle in the Catacomb

Watching Elroy turn, Rose knew with a sinking feeling that he had fully recovered from their previous battle. It was also obvious that he was much, much stronger. Considering how much blood he must have drunk to spawn all of the ghouls they had fought on their way to reach him, it was hardly surprising, though. Nonetheless, neither Alphonse nor Rose had any way of telling exactly how powerful the monster before them had become.

'Where's Lucca?!' Alphonse shouted.

The vampire shrugged as if bored. 'Who knows? Maybe I'll tell you if you beat me.'

He slowly raised his arms, then stretched them towards the heavens. An incredible wave of power erupted from his palms, reverberating throughout the catacomb. Alphonse and Rose tensed, but then the rush of energy suddenly stopped.

'What was that...?' Alphonse asked cautiously.

'No!' cried Rose. Though the discharge of power had no immediate visible effect, she knew what was coming. Her grip on her sword tightened.

A strange 'crumping' sound filled the air, like vast, unseen movement. Alphonse's eyes darted over the area trying to find the source of the noise. 

Near one of the crosses he had noticed earlier, something white caught his eye.

It was a skeletal human hand.

With a start, he realized that similar grasping fingers and limbs were emerging from the other graves surrounding them. The twitching bones were pushing and clawing at the dirt, and not long after, the bodies they belonged to began to heave their way out of the ground, as well. The air was full of the cracking and clicking of bones and musty soil.

These were the cadaverous remains of those who had been buried long ago. It seemed the skill to wake and manipulate the corpses of the dead was yet another ability in an Elder Vampire's repertoire. 

Their new undead foes presented another problem. Unlike the ghouls, the skeletons were equipped with varying weapons and equipment. Some had axes and others swords, while many wore helmets and several had shields. Judging from all the armament on display, it seemed safe to assume that those who were buried in this particular catacomb had all been warriors or those who had fallen in battle.

Alphonse drew his sword, his back against Rose's. They were completely surrounded. 

'Hahahaha! What incredible power!' 

Elroy's shriek of laughter cut like a knife through the shuffling of withered feet and creaking of rotten leather. His expression was suffused with ecstasy as he surveyed his handiwork.

Once free of their earthen graves, the skeletons stood completely still. Unlike the ghouls who operated entirely on the instinctive desire planted within them, the skeletons were soldiers in the truest sense of the word: they awaited the command of the vampire who had woken them from their eternal slumber. 

With a sweeping cut of his hand, Elroy gave the signal to attack. The skeletons surged forward en masse towards Alphonse and Rose like a wave cresting the shoreline.

Each of them held their weapons out at the ready, but there were simply too many of them to block them all. Just before the undead army reached them, Alphonse felt Rose tap on his shoulder from behind. Instantly understanding what she was trying to tell him, he swiftly crouched to the ground.

As Alphonse ducked, Rose jumped high into the air. She twisted the upper half of her body, her right arm stretched over the left side of her torso. With a powerful swipe, she swung that arm back to the right,  her body making almost a full rotation. The motion lent even greater power to her swing as she whipped her templar sword around in a scything arc. 

The heads of the closest skeletons exploded into a fine white powder as the segmented blades made contact. The sheer force behind the blow also blasted back the second row of skeletons, giving the pair precious breathing space. Not letting the opening go to waste, Alphonse leaped up from the ground and charged forward through the sea of bones towards the vampire. Some skeletons tried to oppose his advance, but he simply bashed them aside, slashing, kicking, punching and otherwise doing whatever he had to in order to remove them from his path. It was ugly but effective - Elroy was nearly in his reach. 

Rose, meanwhile, was doing all she could to draw the skeletons' attention, switching rapidly between using her sword and pistols. She also did her best to cover Alphonse from afar, attacking enemies bearing down on him from behind.

'Why, Elroy?! What happened to you?!' Alphonse cried over the clamor of battle. 

As he smashed his way through the legion of skeletons, he couldn't help but wonder how the two of them had come to this point to begin with. They had first met several years before when Alphonse joined the Imperial Army. Elroy had been an orphan who had lived in poverty before being scouted out for the military by Garrard for his exceptional skill with a sword. As such, the two of them shared a lot in common. While Elroy didn't even know who his parents were, they were both orphans, and they were both saved from solitude by Garrard. They soon felt an affinity towards one another, becoming good rivals and aiding each other in improving their skills. Yet at some point after that, their relationship took a turn for the worse. Even so, Alphonse still saw Elroy as a comrade, and respected his strength and skill. No matter how many times Elroy acted unpleasantly or coldly to him, that feeling never changed for him. And that was why even now, after all he had seen and done, he still couldn't bring himself to believe that Elroy was a vampire. That Elroy, someone he had practically grown up with, was someone who could heartlessly take the lives of innocent people, or toy with them as food.

After what seemed like an eternity, he finally dispatched the last skeleton standing between him and Elroy. His path was clear.

He raced towards the vampire, silver sword held high and a war cry erupting from his lips. Watching him with undisguised amusement, Elroy smoothly drew his own blade. Once again their swords locked together in opposition.

'I won't let you harm anyone else! As a friend, I can't allow you to!'

'...Don't you give me that!'

Elroy blocked Alphonse's attack with a contemptuous swipe of his own sword, held effortlessly in one hand. He then repelled Alphonse's blade with incredible force. Alphonse's arm was knocked back, but he turned it to his advantage and used the momentum from Elroy's attack to spin around and attack him with a sweeping horizontal slash. Again Elroy rebuffed him - this time employing but a single finger. The digit was burned by the blade, but though it smoked, Elroy didn't show the faintest sign of concern. Instead, he began to focus his strength into it, causing the sword to begin to crack. 

Alphonse looked up with gritted teeth, expecting to see the familiar superior sneer on Elroy's face, but instead of a glimpse of a man assured of his own victory he only saw pure hatred. The look was so intense that he almost faltered.

'Friend?! How DARE you call yourself my friend after you tried to steal what matters most to me!'

Elroy's words caught Alphonse so off guard that he wasn't able to react in time to parry the downward strike from Elroy's sword. The blade made contact, slicing through Alphonse's guard and uniform from shoulder to navel. Blood sprayed in the wake of the slash, and he howled in pain. 

Hearing his cry, Rose called out in concern. The path he had carved to Elroy, however, had long since filled with skeletons that she was diverting, and Alphonse knew he could expect no help from that quarter. Fortunately, the wound was fairly swallow. As if to demonstrate his fitness, he nimbly retreated backwards, and raised his sword again.

'What are you talking about?! I don't remember ever taking anything from you!'

'Silence! Your chance to repent has long since passed!' 

Elroy renewed his attack with relentless force. Alphonse tried valiantly to resist, but his injury impaired him from fighting to his full potential, and Elroy managed to land one slash after another. Blood began to soak through his shirt. Though all superficial, the number of wounds on his body increased steadily and he began to feel lightheaded. Nonetheless, he raised the sword yet again, but only pure willpower kept the blade from wavering.

Elroy watched this display with glee. His mouth quirked up in a smile of anticipated victory. 

'Don't worry, you won't be alone for long. That vampire hunter and the girl from the tavern will be joining you very soon.'

Alphonse trembled at the promise in those words, but they also filled him with renewed determination.

'...Elroy, I don't know what you've got against me, but no matter what it is, I'm not going to let you kill me. I'm not going to go back on my promise.'

'What are you talking about...?' Elroy asked, the smile slipping from his face.

'You think you can kill me? Go right ahead and try because I'm not going to die, and I WILL stop you!' 

'Enough...!' Enraged, Elroy finally clasped his sword in both hands. Fury and monstrous energy radiated from him in waves. Alphonse knew that this would be his strongest attack yet.

'You're finished!' Elroy cried, swinging his sword downwards with all of his might.

Death approached from above and Alphonse saw it coming, but he made no move to block it. His silver sword still raised in front of him, he took Elroy's attack head-on. Once again, the vampire's blade made contact with Alphonse's left shoulder, cleaving through body, muscle, bone, and all. Or, at least, that was what he expected to happen. 

'What?!'

What happened next defied all logic. As the sword carried downward it sheared through Alphonse's left  collarbone...then stopped. Trembling with effort, Alphonse looked Elroy straight in the eye and it was not the look of a man who had been bested.

Alphonse hadn't decided to not defend against Elroy's attack. Instead, he had resolved to receive it, and focused his concentration to its limit. The moment the blade entered his body, he had suddenly stiffened all of his muscles, thus allowing him to halt the sword's advance. 

Elroy was stunned by what had happened. The outcome was just so far removed from the victory he had envisioned that he could only gape at the other man. And it was that shock that Alphonse had been courting. It was the opening he had so desperately created.

'Haaaaaaaaaaaaaah!'

Ignoring the pain surging through his body, Alphonse prepared his strike. Elroy released his own sword's hilt, unable to free the blade embedded in Alphonse's shoulder. He took a half step back, weaponless, defenseless. 

The tip of Alphonse's silver sword flew forwards, piercing the vampire straight through the chest. As it sank deep and true, the catacomb fell silent. With a dry sound almost like a sigh, the skeletons Rose had been fighting crumbled to the ground. Finally free from the need to fight against them any longer, she stopped and turned to Alphonse. She watched in mute astonishment as Alphonse withdrew his sword from the vampire's chest. Elroy dropped to his knees and then collapsed.

His enemy defeated, Alphonse then turned his attention to himself. With clenched teeth, he pulled out the sword that had been embedded in his left shoulder. Blood spurted in a bright arc as he freed it. He tried to stop the bleeding by holding his hand over it, but the wound was just too deep. Blood continued to flow out between his fingers. 

'Maybe I overdid it...a little...' he said a bit unsteadily.

Rose sighed. 'You truly are unbelievable.' She picked her way over to him, carefully sidestepping bones and weapons in her path. Gently, she placed a hand over his and Alphonse felt a warm sensation suffuse his body. She was using her Thaumaturgy to heal his injuries. 

'You only have one life,' she chided him. 'You shouldn't treat it so carelessly. I always knew that you were foolish, but perhaps foolish idiotic imbecile is more appropriate.'

Despite the admonishing tone of her words, Alphonse could tell from her face just how relieved she was that he was all right. Feeling somewhat guilty for worrying her so much, he watched as his wound rapidly began to close. While her Thaumaturgy could only heal physical wounds and not restore his lost stamina, it was still more than sufficient as first aid. 

Suddenly, they heard a soft groaning sound from nearby. It had come from Elroy, who was looking up at the ceiling with a vacant expression. His skin had begun to crack and slowly crumble away. He seemed to be trying to say something, but his voice was so quiet that it was impossible to make out what. Rose slowly drew one of her silver pistols and pointed it at Elroy's head.

Alphonse started. 'Wh-What are you...?'

'His fate is sealed, regardless. But I can't allow him to pass like this.' 

There wasn't a moment to waste. As a vampire hunter, she had a duty to finish off her targets. To Alphonse, her decision seemed heartless, but he also knew that she had no choice. And yet it still frustrated him that it had to end like this. He still had a lot of questions that he wanted to ask Elroy. Had he been a vampire for the whole of the time that they had known each other? What had driven him to start taking the lives of innocents now? And why did he hate him so much? Nonetheless, he knew that vampires were simply too dangerous to be allowed to exist. As such, he stood by silently, allowing her to do what she thought had to be done...but Rose simply stood with her pistol pointed at Elroy's head, never pulling its trigger. 

'...This doesn't make any sense,' she murmured.

Alphonse looked at her. 'What doesn't?'

'I don't understand...'

'But what don't you understand?'

There was puzzlement and not a bit of wariness in Rose's reply. 'There's no scent. None at all.'

'Scent of what?'

'The scent of an Elder Vampire.' 

At that moment, something flew at incredible speed through the darkness. Two long, narrow objects made up of filthy black blood flashed towards them in a blur. Rose, who sensed their approach first, immediately pushed Alphonse out of the way. As he was thrust from the path of the objects, Alphonse watched in horror as the sharply pointed lances of blood mercilessly pierced Rose's chest. He fell to the ground with a whump, and a moment later Rose thudded down beside him. Blood began to pool around her inert body.

Alphonse couldn't process what was happening. Nor was he able to rise to his feet, so weak was he from his earlier battle. 

'Well, well...' said a voice. 'I certainly couldn't have seen that coming. I was hoping to finish you both off at the same time.'

Out of the darkness that the lances had emerged from stepped a figure. A figure whose outline and gait was achingly familiar; a man in a military uniform, who he knew better than anyone else...

'Looks like you managed to cheat death again, huh, Al?'

'...Ga...rrard...?' 

He didn't want to believe what he was seeing.

第11回 地下墓所の决闘

ロゼは、エルロイの振り向く一动作から冷静に分析した。先ほどの戦闘で与えたダメージは全て修复されていることを。それどころか、比べ物にならないほどにその力を増していることを。

地下道にいた数十体もの尸人を生み出す过程で取り込まれた血液の量——それを想像すれば、当然の结果だった。更に恐ろしい怪物となった彼がどれだけの力を有しているのか、今やロゼにも计りかねていた。

「エルロイ——ルッカをどこにやった!?」アルフォンスが叫ぶ。

「さて、どこだろうな……力ずくで闻き出してみるがいい」 

 エルロイはつまらなそうにそう言うと、おもむろに黒き外套から腕を伸ばす。そして、天に向けて掌を掲げる。 

エルロイの指先から、地下墓所全体を覆うような圧倒的な力の波が迸る。そして、すぐにそれは治まった。

「なんだ……?」意味不明の事态に警戒するアルフォンス。 

「いけない!」ロゼは直后の出来事を直感し、すぐさま戦闘态势をとった。

ぼごっ。何か、底が抜けたような钝い音が响く。十字架が置かれた场所の地面から、白っぽいものが生えていた。

——人间の手の骨だ。アルフォンスがそう気づいた瞬间、彼とロゼを取り囲むように立っていた他の墓からも、连続してそれが生えてきた。ひじの部分で折れ曲がったそれは地面をぐいぐい押しはじめ、続けて土の下で蠢いていたその身体が土埃を上げながら一斉に姿を现す。 

 それは、过去にここに埋葬された亡骸だった。

 死者の尸を揺り起こし、下仆として操る术——

これも“高位の吸血鬼”のみが使える高等な术だ。

骸骨たちは各々が盾や兜、斧や剣を统一性なく装着している。おそらく、この地下道にいくつか存在するであろう墓地の中でも戦で命を落としたものたちばかりが埋葬された场所だったらしい。取り囲まれ、ロゼと背中合わせになって剣を构えるアルフォンス。

「ハハハハハハ、なんと素晴らしい力だ! 

 ハハハハハハハ!」

 恍惚とした表情で高笑いを上げるエルロイ。骸骨たちは今のところ、微动だにしていない。植えつけられた本能に従う尸人とは违い、吸血鬼の意のままに动く正真正铭の人形だ。 

「やれ」合図とともに、骸骨たちが一斉にアルフォンスたちへ押し寄せた。全方位から各々の武器が振りかぶられる。どう考えても防御できる物量ではなかった。 

寸前、ロゼは背中越しにアルフォンスの肩を叩いた。彼はすぐにその意味を理解して、武器が振り下ろされようとする中、素早くしゃがんだ。 

入れ代わりに飞び上がったロゼの身体は、上半身が大きく捻られている。そのまま体の左侧に回していた右腕を、捻った上半身が戻る势いのまま振りぬく。 

 彼女が握り缔めているのは、刀身の消失した法剣《テンプルソード》の柄だ。 

一瞬あと、ロゼたちを中心として时计回りに、延びきった刀身が飞ぶ。それぞれ队列の一番前で武器を构えていた骸骨たちの头が次々と砕け、その后ろにいた骸骨まで巻き込んで吹き飞ぶ。

 生まれた一瞬の隙をついて、しゃがんでいたアルフォンスが駆け出す。一直线に、白骨の海の向こうに立つ吸血鬼、エルロイのもとへと。 

 立ちはだかる骸骨だけを白银の剣で斩りつけ、殴って蹴って、投げ飞ばす。锻えた肉体に任せた强引な进撃だったが、着実にエルロイへと近づいていく。 

残ったロゼは敌を自分に引き付けつつ、法剣と铳を器用に使い分けて戦う。时折できた一瞬の隙间を缝って、エルロイの死角にいる敌を重点的に倒していった。

「どうしてだ、エルロイ!

 なぜお前は、こんなことになってしまった!?」 

 骸骨を砕いて进みながら、アルフォンスは胸を绞めつけられる思いでいた。

数年前、帝国军に入ったばかりの顷のことが思い出される——。

——エルロイは、もともと贫しい暮らしをしていた孤児だった。そんな中、ガラードによって剣の腕を见出されて帝国军にスカウトされたのだという。 

かつて両亲を杀されたアルフォンスと、孤児であり家族を知らないエルロイは、ある意味似た境遇を抱えていたといえる。互いにガラード队长によって、そこから救われたという所も同じだった。

 2人は互いにシンパシーを感じ、军ではよき好敌手として互いを高めあう関系になった。

 それはいつしか理由も分からないまま険悪なものになってしまったが、

アルフォンスにとってガラード队随一の剣の腕を持つエルロイは、今でも尊敬すべき相手だった。さんざん嫌味を言われ、理不尽に冷たい目を向けられても、彼にとっては间违いなく友人だった。

 彼には今でも信じることができない。

 エルロイが、吸血鬼だったなどと。 

何の罪もない人の命を非情に夺い、粮とした挙句に弄んだなど。

目の前に立ちはだかった最后の骸骨を强引に退け、ついにエルロイへの道が通じる。

「おおおおおおおっ!!」

 アルフォンスは駆けながら、白银の剣を振りかぶる。 

それを见て、薄笑いを浮かべたまますらりと剣を抜くエルロイ。その夜何合目かの、剣と剣がぶつかりあう金属音が响き渡った。

「俺は、绝対にお前を止めるぞ……お前の友として!」 

「……笑わせるな!」

 アルフォンスの剣を片手で受け止めていたエルロイ。凄まじい膂力のままに剣を返し、アルフォンスの腕は后方に弾かれる。

 だが彼はその势いを利用し、一回転して更なる横剃ぎを加える。

 エルロイはそれを、素手の指先で受け止める。

 银の刀身に触れた指が焼け付いて烟を上げるが、エルロイは歯牙にもかけていない。それどころか更に力を込めると、刀身に小さくヒビが入り始める。 

その表情は、今までの胜利を确信した余裕の笑みではない——憎悪の形相だ。

「何が友だ!

 お前は俺の、大切なものを夺おうとしたくせに!」

「!?」その言叶に虚を疲れたアルフォンスは、エルロイのもう片方の腕から振り下ろされた剣への反応が遅れてしまう。 

 左の肩口から腹部にかけてを引き裂かれ、血が喷出る。

「ぐあっ……!」「——アル!!」ロゼの声が响く。

すでに、アルフォンスが作ったエルロイへの道は无数の骸骨たちに塞がれている。

彼女が骸骨を引き付けて戦う以上、とても援护にこれる余裕はなさそうだった。大丈夫だ、伤は浅い——そう示すように、アルフォンスは机敏に身をよじって、后方に间合いを取る。そうして、剣の感触を确かめるように构えなおす。

「くっ……何のことだ!? 俺が、何をした!」

「黙れ! もはやお前には赎罪の暇《いとま》すら与えん!!」

 间髪いれずに、剣の连撃を加えてくるエルロイ。 

アルフォンスも応戦するが、先ほど受けた伤もあって完全には捌ききれない。横腹に、太ももに、右腕に、全身に、确かなダメージを受けていく。

 流れる血にふらつきつつも、なおも剣を构えるアルフォンス。もはや体力もほとんど尽きている。彼を支えるのは、気力だけだ。

 猛攻を加えていたエルロイも息があがっていた。その口元に再び、胜利の笑みが浮かぶ。

「安心しろ、寂しくはない。 

 吸血鬼狩りの女も、あの酒场の娘も、すぐに同じ所に送ってやる」

ピクリと体を震わせるアルフォンス。満身创痍となりながらも、强い意志を湛えた瞳でエルロイを见据える。

「……エルロイ、お前が俺にどんな恨みを持っているかは分からない。 

 だが……杀されてやるわけにはいかない。约束したからな」

「何を言っている……?」エルロイの颜から再び笑みが消える。

「エルロイ、やれるものならやってみろ。 

 俺は覚悟をすでに决めている。死なないという覚悟を。

 そして、お前を必ず止めるという覚悟を——!」 

「訳のわからないことを……!!」

 エルロイは激昂し、両手で剣を构えた。そこに祸々しい気迫が涡巻いている。今までで最大の一撃が放たれることを、アルフォンスは悟った。 

「今度こそ终わりだ!!」

绝大なる膂力に任せて剣が振り下ろされる。向かってくる绝対的な死——アルフォンスは、それを防がなかった。银の剣を前に构えたそのままの姿势で、真正面から受けたのだ。

 さきほどと同様に、左の肩口から深く进入していく刃。それは锻えられた筋肉を骨もろとも、チーズのように切り裂いていく——はずだった。 

「なっ——!?」

エルロイが见ていたのはありえない光景だった。 

彼の浑身の力をこめた刃は、左肩の锁骨を両断したところで完全に制止していたのである。

 アルフォンスは防御を舍てたわけではなかった。攻撃をその身に受ける覚悟を决めたことで、极限まで集中力を高めたのだ。そして己の肉体に刃が侵入した瞬间に、急激に筋肉を硬直させ——刃を止めた。

およそありえない、思い浮かべていた胜利の光景とあまりに食い违うそれは、エルロイを激しく动揺させた。アルフォンスはその隙を见逃さなかった。 

「おおおおおおおおっ!」

 激痛をものともせずに刺突の构えをとる。エルロイは左肩に食い込ませた剣の柄を振りほどかれ、完全なる无防备となる。

 そして——银の剣の切っ先が、真っ直ぐに——エルロイの胸を贯いた。


——乾いた音とともに、ロゼと対峙していた骸骨たちが崩れ落ちる。縦横无尽に骸骨との戦闘を缲り広げていた彼女が动きを止めた。 

 状况を即座に理解してアルフォンスの方を振り向くロゼ。 

そこには、胸に突きたてられた剣が今まさに引き抜かれ、その场に膝から崩れ落ちていく吸血鬼の姿があった。

 アルフォンスが左肩に刺さったままの剣を引き抜くと、血が一気に喷出る。左肩を手で抑えるが、伤口は深すぎた。なおも血は止め処なく流れ続けた。 

「无理、しすぎたか……」

「本当ですよ、まったく」

呆れたような声とともに、伤口を温かい感覚が包んでいくのを感じる。駆けつけたロゼが法术によって怪我の回复を行っているのだった。

「こんなことをしていては命がいくつあっても足りません。 

 本当に愚かです。そこに莫迦と阿呆を足しても钓りがきます」

言叶とは裏腹に、ロゼの颜は安堵に満ちている。流石に心配をかけすぎたらしい。アルフォンスはそれを反省しつつ、みるみる塞がっていく伤を眺めていた。体力まで戻すことはできなかったが、ひとまずの応急処置にはなっただろう。 

「……ぅぁ……」そこに——小さく呻くような声が闻こえてくる。

 胸を贯かれて倒れたエルロイは、虚ろな目をしながら天井を见ていた。皮肤にはヒビがはいり、表面がボロボロに崩れ始めている。

 ぶつぶつと何かを呟いているが、声が小さすぎて闻き取れない。

ロゼはおもむろに银の大型拳铳を取り出すと、エルロイの头に照准を合わせた。

「お、おい……?」 

「このまま放っておいても灭びます。でも、放っておくわけにはいきません」 

刹那の刻《とき》も许さない。非情な判断だが、それが吸血鬼を狩るということだ。アルフォンスも头では理解していたが、どこか纳得の行かない颜をする。

エルロイには色々と闻きたいことがあった。彼は出会った时から吸血鬼だったのか。なぜ今になってこんな事件を起こしたのか。なぜ——自分を恨んでいたのか。

だが、吸血鬼である彼の存在は危険すぎた。もはや、この世に存在してはいけない。それは十分に分かっていた。だから、アルフォンスは口出ししなかった。

しかし、ロゼはいつまで経っても引き金を引かなかった。 


「……おかしい」

「どうした」

「おかしいんです」 

「だから何が」 

「一切感じないんです——匂いを」

「何の」

「“|高位の吸血鬼《エルダー・ヴァンパイア》”の匂いです」 

冷静な彼女が、明らかに动揺している。瞳孔を开き、身体を小刻みに震わせている。エルロイに“高位の吸血鬼”としての匂いを感じない。それがどういう意味を持つか。なら彼女は、谁の匂いを追ってここまで辿り着いたというのか〔#「谁の匂いを追ってここまで辿り着いたというのか」に傍点〕——。

「今まで私は……大きな勘违いをしていたのかもしれません」

「どういうことだ?」

「もしかすると、“高位の吸血鬼”は——」


——别に、いるのかもしれません。 


 刹那。漆黒の暗暗から、何かが途辙もない速さで放たれた。どす黒く浊った液体——血によって形成された、2本の直线。それが向かってくる。

 いち早くそれを察知したロゼは、咄嗟にアルフォンスを突き飞ばした。

そして、枪のごとき先端を持つそれは、彼女の腹部を容赦なく贯く。

 どう、と地面に尻饼をつくアルフォンス。ついさっきまで、目の前で话をしていたロゼは血の海の中に倒れていた。彼女はピクリとも动かない。微动だにしていない。……なんだこれは?

一切の状况が把握できず、彼は立ち上がることすらできなくなっていた。


「——いや、まさかだな。

 2人まとめて楽に终わらせてやるつもりだったが」


 枪が飞び出てきた暗暗。その中から现れたのは、アルフォンスにとって最も亲しく、驯染み深い、军服の男——。


「おかげで死に损ねたな、アル?」


「……おじ、さん……?」


そして、决して信じたくはない人物だった。

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