I knew the truth, but I couldn’t tell Ellen, as such, she came to believe that it was where dragons once lived.
If that wasn’t what one would call a butterfly effect, then I don’t know what it could be called. The problem in the matter, however, was that the butterfly effect was caused by Eleris that time, not me.
As Temple had declared, the ancient castle Epiax was a safe place, even though ghosts tended to appear in it. Of course, if they were to find out who the original owners of Epiax were, they wouldn’t use it as a group mission venue anymore.
Harriet couldn’t figure anything out, and Ellen was convinced that it was the home of dragons.
Of course, Ellen didn’t tell Harriet about that because our association with Relya was a secret.
I was the only one who uncovered the real truth.
One clearly wouldn’t be able to figure it out if one didn’t know the seven vampire lord houses and Eleris.
“Nothing happened in the end.”
“…Did you want something dangerous to happen?”
“No! That’s not what I mean!”
On our way back, Harriet spoke as if she was disappointed that nothing really happened.
To be precise, it was more like she was frustrated because she couldn’t figure anything out rather than finding it a shame that nothing happened.
Of course, I had found out something, but I just couldn’t share it with them.
Nothing much happened afterwards. We just took a bath in the hot spring and had a snowball fight.
The snowballs that Ellen threw were seriously dangerous.
I really got bruises from them.
Harriet used telekinetic magic to throw hers, but they were by far not as painful, however I avoided them with all my might because I felt like I would lose if I got hit by them.
* * *
Nighttime at the hot spring.
“Urg. This sure hurts a lot.“
Not only did I get pelted by her snowballs, but I also trained with Ellen until late.
My body became such a mess that I wondered if I had broken something.
I washed up in the hot spring at midnight when no one was around. Ellen seemed to have opted for the indoor bath.
The mansion was very quiet during the night.
I could hear the sound of the snowflakes in the distance.
A blizzard was knocking against the windows.
The place was by no means as spooky as Epiax, but I couldn’t deny that it also had some eeriness to it.
I wanted to quickly go into my room to sleep, however, as I was about to enter it, I saw something.
There was someone near the window from where one could hear the snowstorm howling.
“Uh, Ah… Reinhardt?”
Charlotte turned her head towards me, slightly surprised when I called out to her.
“Why aren’t you sleeping?”
Ellen and I were weirdos, so we wouldn’t sleep until late into the night. Everyone else would usually be asleep.
“Oh, that’s… Well… I mean… It’s just… I wanted to watch the snow…?”
That was Charlotte’s answer. If she just wanted to watch the snow, there were copious amounts of it falling from the sky, so she could have just watched it from her room, right?
“Really? Aren’t you cold? You aren’t even wearing any shoes.”
Charlotte was even barefoot.
The mansion wasn’t built to be walked in barefoot, and the place didn’t even have the culture of walking around barefoot indoors. She stood there barefoot in the hallway despite all that.
“Ah, Well… It was dark…”
Charlotte rushed into her room, saying that she was tired and exhausted.
What was that about?
I stared at the door to Charlotte’s room.
I went back to my room while wondering about if she was having trouble sleeping.
* * *
I managed to quickly solve the additional doubts I had about the ancient castle Epiax after returning from the group missions.
“Ah, you must have been to the Vampire Council.”
“The Vampire Council?”
“Yes, it’s a place where we held the council of house heads.”
I went to Eleris’ semi-basement apartment and asked her a few questions after I returned, and I immediately received an answer. She didn’t even look that surprised.
Oh, so you went there?
That was what her reaction was like.
It sure was nice to have a vampire lord as an acquaintance, and a house head at that.
“Since all of its residents were evacuated when the Empire discovered it, it’s probably not particularly dangerous for humans.”
What was she talking about?
“It was built in a place that would be difficult for humans to discover, but it had existed for a very long time already, so it was only a matter of time. It just happened.”
The ancient castle Epiax had been deliberately built in the northernmost regions that were difficult for humans to traverse.
In fact, Glamos, which was located south from it, was the only inhabited area close to it, and there was still quite the stretch of uninhabited land between the castle and the small country.
But what I was focused on was the evacuation.
“No, that’s not what I meant. I’m asking why you had to evacuate just because you were found by humans. You were just living there normally.”
“If there were sightings of an unidentified ancient castle, adventurers would flock to it from everywhere, and if they went missing, they would dispatch their troops. War would have been inevitable, Your Highness. We opted to avoid all that trouble by simply emptying out the castle altogether. There weren’t actually that many real residents of that castle.”
I couldn’t believe that they’d just abandoned their castle to avoid trouble.
Were all vampire lords pacifists like Eleris?
But it was still quite fascinating. Vampire lords should have been the most powerful among the vampires, but they’d just emptied their castle because some humans saw it.
They just abandoned their home and ran away…
* * *
Translator – KonnoAren
Proofreader – ilafy
* * *
“Hmm, it’s kind of strange to hear that you just stepped down and abandoned your castle.”
Eleris tilted her head at my words.
“We still use it.”
“…Huh? What do you mean?”
“It’s not in an environment where humans can survive for a long time anyway, so it’s left empty most of the time. We still gather there when necessary if there is no overlap.”
The ancient castle Epiax had no human residents due to the extreme environment it was located in. The vampires had evacuated from it but still returned to Epiax whenever necessary.
There shouldn’t have been many cases during which it was in use like during the group mission.
“You seem to think that we simply handed over the castle without thinking, but we didn’t.”
“Humans regularly go there to clean and manage the castle as if they are dealing with a precious relic. They seem to think that it’s a palace with great archaeological value. Well, it actually is a very old palace, so they aren’t wrong. They are even taking good care of the sculptures and decorations, worried that they might get damaged.”
“They maintain the building without needing to get paid. Like that, we can make use of the well-maintained palace whenever we need to.”
I gradually became more dumbfounded the more I listened.
The vampires didn’t actually hand over the unidentified ancient castle of Epiax to the humans.
Even though it was in such a strange environment, the humans took good care of the precious treasure that was actually a vampire castle and named it Epiax. They didn’t even know what kind of building it was.
“Humans tend to cherish property they believe to be theirs.”
Eleris smiled wryly. It seemed like she thought that the behavior of the humans was just so cute that she didn’t know what to do.
They’d handed it over because they wanted to avoid annoying situations, but the humans were taking even better care of it than they themselves had. They don’t even live in it or want to do anything specific with it.
Although it was quite eerie, it was still a grand and elegant palace, so they treated it with care as if they were handling a precious treasure they had just discovered.
So the vampires just watched on as the humans managed Epiax under the illusion that it was theirs.
They were essentially free slaves.
“It seems simple yet complicated.”
The ancient castle Epiax was co-owned by vampires and humans…
The Vampire Council…
There were five vampire clans, excluding Sunday and Monday.
It seemed like Eleris was a lot more powerful than an ordinary vampire lord as the head of the House of Tuesday.
However the other four heads and vampire lords certainly would be pretty strong as well.
Could they also become my power?
“Do you want the power of the other houses as well?”
I flinched at Eleris’s gaze that seemed to see right through me.
Even though I thought that way for different reasons, Eleris wouldn’t like seeing me crave for power.
“Just… just in case. It’s not like I need them right now, but who knows? I might need them later on for some reason, right?”
“That would be difficult, Your Highness.”
Eleris expressed that the endeavor would be difficult, contrary to her feelings.
“Of the vampire houses, no, even from my house, I was the only vampire lord who participated in the Great War.”
Nearly all were absent.
I felt like gasping at Eleris’s words.
“No, you said that you didn’t like war, and yet you participated in the war while the others didn’t?”
What kind of a bizarre situation was that? Eleris closed her eyes slightly, taking a slow, deep breath.
It looked like she was about to say something really important.
“Vampire lords were outside forces that weren’t under the rule of the Demon King to begin with.”
“Although some vampires, including myself, had vowed their allegiance to the Demon King, the Vampire Council was originally located outside of the Darklands, and the headquarters of the other houses were even located at the borders of the Darklands as well as the land of humans. Strictly speaking, rather than having betrayed His Majesty the Demon King, you can’t think of them as allies to begin with.”
They had never sworn allegiance to the Demon King in the first place, which was why they didn’t have the slightest reason to participate in the war.
Some demon tribes living in the outskirts didn’t participate in the Demon World War either, but that could be seen as a betrayal of loyalty.
However, what the Vampire Council did couldn’t even be described with the word “betrayal”. They weren’t even allies.
The Vampire Council was a separate force not belonging to the demon realm or the human realm.
Besides, Eleris hated war. She had a very negative stance towards any kind of slaughter.
Only the Head of the House of Tuesday, the Vampire Lord Eleris, swore allegiance to the Demon King and participated in the Demon World War. Of course, I had no idea what she did before, but her job in the war had been being a spy, and that didn’t seem to have produced many results.
It was Sarkegaar who’d actually carried out the kidnapping of the Imperial Princess.
Just why did Eleris swear allegiance to the Demon King?
No, in the first place…
Vampires were a type of undead.
However, being undead was actually a type of state.
That meant that being a vampire was also a ‘state’ and not a ‘race’.
That would mean it was impossible to be born as a vampire.
So there had to have been a pre-vampire state as well.
“…Yes, Your Highness.”
“Before you became a vampire, were you human?”
Eleris looked at me silently.
“Yes, Your Highness.”
I had gained information about a new faction called the Vampire Council.
In addition to that, I also found out that Eleris had hidden many things.
I knew that she had some more secrets, but I decided not to pry out of respect.
“Well, fine. By the way, are you still attending the Vampire Council?”
“I have been absent for a while now, but I’m not on bad terms with them.”
“Hmm… I see. Got it.”
The Vampire Council…
I decided to keep their information in the back of my mind for the moment.
* * *
The Vampire Council…
They were a foreign force so to say. Although it was unknown what kind of relationship Eleris had with the current Vampire Council, it seemed like they were neither on friendly nor hostile terms with either humans or demons.
However, when humans discovered their palace, they chose to evacuate rather than fight them, so I thought they weren’t some group of psychos that couldn’t be communicated with.
Eleris had many secrets.
Why did she hate violence so much? Why did she swear allegiance to the Demon King?
What was she like before she became a vampire?
I had some guesses, but I wasn’t sure if what I thought was the truth. I also didn’t want to force her to spill the truth.
Eleris was on my side.
—As long as that was certain, everything else was secondary.