Encounter and Second Coming


Atlas Institute

"Sion Eltnam Sokaris.

Hereby decreed as candidate for Academy Director."

The grim face of the university president reading the edict.

The students and the teachers look at each other, wide-eyed.

Unhushed whispers rise and hundreds of eyes face me.

Surprise. I'm astonished, I never would have thought it.

Blame. Unforgivable.

Denial. I can't believe it.

Other words I can't make out, blending together into sounds as arcane as the syllables of a spell.

"Henceforth, Sion Eltnam will be Sion Eltnam Atlasia.

She will be accorded the privileges and respect of an instructor and have the same status as ambassador-at-large."

The words of the university president are absolute.

Not just because of the authority of his position, but because the words make it clear it is a command.

There is no protest from the audience, only more glares directed at me.


It's not as though I've suddenly changed.

Of all those gathered in the great hall, only the university president and I seem calm.

As for everyone else──the students and even the teachers are dumbfounded with surprise.

I suppose it is natural.

I am now Sion Eltnam Atlasia.

Those given the name of Atlas are chosen to represent this Academy.

No one guessed that out of all the students and faculty, it would be an Eltnam.


Of course, I was calm.

Not that I was informed beforehand I would be given the name Atlasia.

Simply that among the Atlas Association, I was the only one with the requisite power.

Instead of being surprised, it was rather natural to be bored.

...... Just what has changed in my life since then?

I do not look any different in the mirror.

Since I was an Eltnam, a once-noble house, the others treated me with contempt.

I excelled as a student to erase the sin of my ancestor.

The others wanted only to have me removed.

As long as I was the top student in the class, all they could do was ignore me.

Once I became Atlasia, I had the power to remove them.

They were afraid of my retribution.

They probably believed I would treat them in the same manner they treated me.

They did not want to receive any contempt.

I am a noble.

The blood of the sinner Eltnam runs through me, but I am not ruled by my emotions.

In the first place, I do not feel any emotions towards them anyway.

If they wished to distance me, then I will keep them distant.

That will not change from before.

I do not need anyone, so I do not need to associate with them.

I already had the needed laboratory, so I just continued to excel in my studies.

It was eight years ago.

What was correct? What was mistaken?

────Even now I don't really know for certain.

Misaki at night

Sion: "...... Not good. It's already this late."

I open my eyes.

Was it because I was so exhausted?

I saw a meaningless dream.

No, because I was dreaming, you could say I was not completely exhausted.

If my mind were truly burdened, I would not have seen anything.

Sion: "...... Probably because of overexertion during the day. There is something wrong with this much heat."

I had heard that Japanese summers were hot, but I had not thought it would be this bad.

The heat shining back from this town is too strong even for me, a child of the desert.

I thought I would sleep through the heat of the day, but it seems I could not control the time of my awakening.

Sion: "...... A cold night. I must have slept too long?"

Whatever the case, confusion is for certain.

Not sleeping properly and not ordering all this information is setting myself up for failure.

Sion: "...... But before that, I must confirm where the next incident will occur."

As long as I can move, I must finish the preparations.

Fortunately, I have data on this town I downloaded from Tohno Shiki.

I can find the source of all these incidents without needless roaming.

Sion: "Ah, come to think of it...... Tohno Shiki. Securing him is also a priority."

It is before midnight.

There are three possible routes he will take.

It should be easy enough to determine his current location.

Location changes to the Shrine

Shiki: "...... Then, all that's left is this?"

I come out to an unfamiliar clearing.

A small clearing apart from the office buildings.

Until a short while ago everything was another large city park but it now transitions into private property.

Shiki: "Wow. From down here it really looks impressive."

I look up at the building under construction.

I heard the monumental architecture would be finished next spring.

Nobody seems to be sure exactly what it's going to be, but it's something important.

I've heard everything from a big department store to the corporate office of a powerful electronics company.

Shiki: "The area around it is also being landscaped. Maybe I don't have to go this far."

The land all around the building is perfectly flat like a mirror.

The name of the building, Shrine, may be appropriate... but it's going a little too far.

Shiki: "────Well..."

I hold my breath and scan the area.

No sign of anyone else around.

Of course there are less and less people as night falls, thanks to the rumors of the vampire murders starting up again, but...

I can understand why no one would be in the park, or the back alley, but this place is empty of people for another reason.

Shiki: "...... Well, after all, this is private property. The only people around would be trespassing, so why should I expect to see anybody......?"

───And then,

I suddenly get assailed by nausea.

My fingers are numb and my throat is parched.

My pulse quickens.

A feeling like poison creeping from the back of my brain.

Without even realizing it, my right hand reaches into my pocket and soundlessly takes out my knife.

Shiki: "────This... sensation."

...... I've felt these chills so many times before.

Am I just disposed to this?

Before I meet up with something unworldly, I always get assailed by this sensation.

Shiki: "............"

...... I sense someone.

Someone standing right behind me.

Someone (a human?) on this private property where no one should be.

A faint chill.

And...... the vampire has returned────!

Shiki: "...... But, something is......"

It feels a little different.

Are my reactions weak?

It simply feels "different from usual", a discomfort that indicates the presence of an outsider.

Shiki: "──Well, show yourself......!"

Shiki: "Hello? Is someone there?"

I speak with my knife hidden behind my back.

───And then,

Sion: "Good evening. Do you have business with me?"

Even though it was all so sudden, the girl speaks so calmly.

Shiki: "────"

Seeing her, I was startled.

That distinctive dress and hat.

Definitely a foreign look, and I'm almost afraid to say it, but she looks really cute.

Sion: "What is it?"

Shiki: "Oh, ah... well, no, nothing really."

Shiki: "Um──Sorry, I mistook you for someone else. Sorry to be so rude."

Sion: "You do not have to apologize.

But that is not the way to greet someone, is it?"

Her tone is so smooth.

...... Now that she mentions it, it makes total sense.

Lately, I seem to be off-kilter.

Shiki: "...... You're right. It's a little late, but, good evening."

Sion: "Yes, nice to meet you."

Sion: "So, what are you doing here?

Are you looking for something at this hour?"

Shiki: "Eh? ...... Ah, yeah, something like that.

And what about you? You couldn't have not heard about how dangerous it is at night──"

Oh, right.

If she's a foreigner, she wouldn't have heard the rumors circulating this town.

Since she's probably just sightseeing, she wouldn't know anything about the vampire murders last year, either......

Shiki: "It's nothing...... Um, I don't know why you are here, but it's better to not hang around places where no one is around. You never know what might happen."

Sion: "────"

She just stares at me.

...... It's only natural.

There's no way she can understand me if I keep suddenly blurting out all this stuff.

Sion: "No, you cannot say I don't know what will happen. Whatever shape he takes, the vampire will appear. Even you are patrolling in order to find him, are you not, Tohno Shiki?"

Shiki: "W────what?"

Sion: "You could say we are looking for the same thing, Tohno Shiki. ...... Although our reasons are very different."

She speaks devoid of any expression.

Those chills return.

Pain in my temples like a stabbing needle...

Sion: "An irregularity like you throws the equation out of balance. Unless I move quickly to root out any problems, the results this time will also be undesirable."

Her arms swings forth and I hear an unfamiliar click.

She holds a black gun in her hand.

Sion: "────Please, resist if you wish. My name is Sion Eltnam Atlasia. Your freedom now belongs to me."

And with that, she jumps towards me.

This foreign girl I'd never met before attacks me with almost unspeakable speed.

Shiki vs Sion

Shiki wins

Sion: "Ahh......"

Shiki: "That's enough. I don't know what you're trying to do, but it's meaningless to continue."

Sion: "Yes. I admit defeat. Even though I collected all your data I could not finish reading it. ...... Even if everything was walking on a tightrope I can't believe I'm finished before even had a chance to start."

Shiki: "..............."

Sion: "What's the matter? I have no strength to resist. This may be a selfish request, but please end it as cleanly as possible."

Shiki: "...... Cleanly as possible? Look...... You seem to know something about me, but aren't you making a big mistake here? I'm no killer out for blood. Even if you asked me I wouldn't kill you."

Sion: "Not... a killer?"

Shiki: "Yeah. I'm not going to hit someone while they're down. I don't have a quarrel with you so there's no need to take it all the way. If you promise you won't attack me I'll let you go. ──You don't look like a vampire anyway."

Sion: "...... This is troubling. I may keep quiet, but I will not lie. Therefore I can't promise not to attack you again."

Shiki: "Eh? ...... You can't... then you mean... um..."

Sion: "That's right. Once my wounds heal, I will bind you."

Shiki: "────"

Sion: "If you don't like it, then you just have to kill me. For someone like you it would be very easy."

Shiki: "......... Idiot, what do you mean, easy?"

Sion: "Eh? Did you say something, Tohno Shiki?"

Shiki: "Yeah, I said something. I was complaining about being involved in something weird again! ...... For crying out loud, if it's not one thing it's another────"

Sion: "────I cannot understand. This seems to be causing you pain."

Shiki: "You're the one who isn't understandable. But you don't look like you'll go back on your word."

Sion: "Yes. As long as I am not mistaken, I will not change."

Shiki: "I see. Your expression speaks for you. (Why do I only meet these kinds of people?)"

Shiki: "Well, anyway...... Um, can you tell me about your situation? You've been telling me what to do, so maybe you can at least tell me why?"

Sion: "...... My situation ... You mean my purpose here?"

Shiki: "Yeah. For some reason, you don't seem like a bad person. If you could tell me about your situation, I'll listen... Um, I'm also kind of curious why you attacked me."

Sion: "...... I understand. I was told you were not a bad person, and this confirms it. I should have explained the circumstances from the very start, Tohno Shiki."

Shiki: "?"

Sion: "My goal is to find a cure for vampirism. I have been researching a way to return humans bitten by a vampire back to normal."

Shiki: "A cure for vampirism......?"

Sion: "Yes. As you know someone who became no longer human after being bitten by a vampire, you can understand, right? The result of someone being desecrated by a vampire is death. Of course, we know how a human could become a vampire, but we don't know if a vampire could return to being a human. Many magi have attempted to research this problem and failed, but I do not intend to. I will make the impossible possible. That is what Atlasia means."

Shiki: "..............."

Sion: "Tohno Shiki, I believe you can understand how I feel. Like me, you have seen a friend become a vampire before your eyes."

Shiki: "───────You seem to know a lot about that."

Sion: "Ah...... That was inconsiderate of me. This is upsetting you."

Shiki: "...... No, it's okay. I'm just being childish."

Shiki: "I understand what you're saying. You want to find a cure for vampirism──I can't hate you for something like that."

Shiki: "But why did you attack me? I'm not turning into a vampire, and I don't know a lot about them, either."

Sion: "Of course. I did not come here to make you a research specimen. I came to this country to ask the cooperation of the True Ancestor."

Shiki: "Eh───True Ancestor, as in Arcueid?"

Sion: "Yes. If I want to find a cure for vampirism I have to study the source of Dead Apostles, a True Ancestor. If I merely needed data on the Dead Apostles, The Church has compiled much of that. However, that is insufficient. I need to investigate an unaltered True Ancestor."

Shiki: "...... I see. But I'm not sure Arcueid would go for that. She's kind of fickle that way.

Sion: "I know that. A noble True Ancestor would not grant the request of a mere mortal. I need you to negotiate for me."

Shiki: "Me? Negotiate?"

Sion: "(Nod)"

Shiki: "Idio-That's not going to work! You think she'd listen to me? Where'd you get an idea like that!?"

Sion: "W-well, you... the True Ancestor... aren't the two of you... l-l-lovers?"

Shiki: "────"

Sion: "With you as a mediator, perhaps I could speak with her a little. That is why I wanted to secure you first...... This is all the result of my carelessness."

Shiki: "Wha...... carelessness? You mean before?"

Sion: "Yes. I drew in all your data. The numbers indicated we were evenly matched, but my thorough knowledge meant my chances of winning were high. However, my loss means my abilities were the slightest fraction lower."

Shiki: "......? Um, then that isn't being careless...... doesn't that just mean your fighting ability is───"

Sion: "Wha, what are you sayinggg! I only lost because of carelessness! Excessive carelessness! My performance was far below my standard! I admit I miscalculated your power, but under normal circumstances, I would be the victor! You see, an hour ago, I calculated every single one of your maneuvers. Doesn't this just mean my evasion rate data was off by less than 0.5%!? If not for that one small mistake, our positions would have been completely reversed! Can you not understand such a simple thing!?"

Shiki: "Eh───right. Sorry I doubted you."

Sion: "Ah...... no, I was being a little rude. I would appreciate it if we just changed the subject."

Shiki: "(......Hmm. She seems totally different from before.)

Shiki: "To get back to your problem, you really just want me to bring Arcueid to you?"

Sion: "Yes. My intent was to formally request the True Ancestor's cooperation."

Shiki: "I see. So you won't give up even now? ...... Okay...... if that's the case, oh well."

Sion: "? Oh well? What do you mean?"

Shiki: "I mean, I can act as a middle man between you and Arcueid. ...... In all likelihood she's going to say no, but you wouldn't give up unless we tried, right?"

Sion: "(Nod)"

Shiki: "C'mon, it's just asking for cooperation, right? So, I'll lend you a hand. To be honest, I'd like to cheer on someone doing your kind of research."

Sion: "Eh......... cheer... on......?"

Shiki: "Yeah. Suddenly attacking me out of nowhere was surprising, but we can call it even. ...... If your research is successful, I feel like───I could finally help her."

Sion: ".................."

Shiki: "I'll do something about Arcueid. Actually, I'm looking for her right now. I figured she would know something about these disturbances happening. I went to her place, but───"

Sion: "So she has concealed her location."

Shiki: "Yeah. And by patrolling the town, I thought I'd find the rumored vampire, or at least Her Highness the fickle princess."

Sion: "...... I understand. Then I can lend you a hand in your purpose. If you're tracking down the rumors, I can find the vampire more quickly than you can."

Shiki: "Eh? Really?"

Sion: "Yes, if the rumored vampire does exist. Data gathering is my specialty. If I have at least a backup, I can scan the minds of everyone in this town in one day."

Shiki: "───Hmm, I don't really quite understand, but you don't have to go that far, do you?" (...... She has a scary look in her eyes.)

Shiki: "But, yeah. I'd appreciate any help. I was feeling kind of hopeless by myself."

Sion: "Then I will chase down these rumors. And you?"

Shiki: "It's alright if I look for Arcueid and bring her to you isn't it? But, there's one other thing before that."

Sion: "Before that?"

Shiki: "It's Sion, right? If we're going to be partners, we should call each other by our first names, shouldn't we?"

Sion: "─────────────────────"

Sion: "You have a point. Very well. You may call me Sion. And you───"

Shiki: "Ah, Shiki's fine."

Sion: "────────"

Sion: "...... Shi-Shiki."

Shiki: "Yeah. That's much better, isn't it?"

Sion: "...... Shiki..."

Shiki: "Yeah."

Sion: "Shiki."

Shiki: "Yeah, I said that's fine."

Sion: ".........................................."

Sion: "............... Then I will go start gathering information on the vampire. Please prepare for the negotiations with the True Ancestor, Shiki."

Shiki: "Yeah. But we don't have to go right away, you know."

Sion: "That would be the best, I think. We'll both need some time. Let's meet again tomorrow night right here, in front of this building."

Shiki: "Okay. I think I can manage something by then."

Sion: "Shiki. Can you... hold on for a minute?"

Shiki: "Eh......? Did I have something on my head?"

Sion: "...... Something like that. Well then, see you tomorrow night."

Shiki: "Yeah, see you tomorrow───Hm. This seems a little familiar. It reminds me of a year ago."

Sion: "?"

Shiki: "It's nothing. See you tomorrow night, Sion!"

Sion: "...... Yes. See you tomorrow night, Shiki."

The Daughter of Atlas

Sion Eltnam Atlasia

───That night, the air was maddeningly hot.


I run, seeking any moisture I could find.

I run through the dark forest.

I run through the hell of the steep mountain pass.

Compared to walking through the familiar deserts of my youth, the mountain path flooded with trees is like walking on needles.

All the knights who had accompanied me are dead.

No one is left alive.

I go back to the village.

All the villagers are dead.

The well is dried up.

The river is filled with corpses.

Still, I crawl my way to it, hoping to find water.

"Ah... hah... ah!"

Choking, I drink and drink.

As if I'm brought back to life.

Something feels intertwined.

Like a large cloth, endlessly intertwined.

It's in my way, so I pull at it over and over.

I tear and pull but the cloth still gets in the way.

Each time I bend to drink, I get wrapped further inside.

I pull again and the rustling cloth entangles in my fingers.

Again and again.


Rustle. Rustle.

Rustle. Rustle. Rustle.

Rustle. Rustle. Rustle. Rustle.

Rustle. Rustle. Rustle. Rustle. Rustle. Rustle. Rustle.


Skin. The human corpses shaped into a large sheet. Dead bodies. Empty shells drained of everything inside. The skin of all the hundreds of people pushed in and piled up until the dark and the damp rotted away their skin and it all oozed together into one hideous sheet sheet sheet sheet sheet sheet sheet............!!!!

"Ha... ah!"

────Even seeing that, I need water, so I continue to drink.

They get in my way, but I drink anyway.

The cartoon-like faces are actually comical.

Yes, mutilated, fleshless, organ-less.

The seemingly clothed corpses were piled up here.

Everyone was drained.

That vampire drank every last drop of their blood.

───What a nightmare. As if it was a curse.

"Atlasia. Even if you're the only one, you have to survive."

The speaker was one of the Knights, the only one I knew.

A Knight of the Shield. A woman.

Just like me. That is why I survived.

Allowed to escape.

She is... definitely────

I run along the mountain path.

            I run until dawn.   
    But there is no way out.  

           The curse rebounded on itself.   
Cursing myself, I cannot escape from myself.  

               And before my eyes   
───Something appears, black as night.  

It drinks and drinks.

Filled to the brim, the blood leaks from its eyes.

It is not enough.

However much it drinks, it cannot be sated.

"H... ha... hahahahaha!"

Crying tears of blood, it begins to laugh.

The fluttering of black wings.

The black eyes draw near.

Drip, drip. The rich red blood continues to flow.

────Dawn approaches.

At my crawling ankles trying to escape,   
    Something wet and slippery.  

 The crying, laughing, blood drinking monster────  



And then I wake up.

...... It is still daytime.

Like in my dream, today is stiflingly hot.

I think I am not suited for walking around during the day.

In the first place, I spend most of my time indoors as an alchemist.

My skin isn't used to being in the burning sun.

All the same, I made a promise.

To him──to Shiki. A promise to gather information on the vampire in his place.

Misaya at day

Longitude unmeasurable. The laws of time do not apply. Yet it appears in a predesignated space. It is not born, but is very troublesome. It is somewhat random so it cannot be expected. All the pieces are assembled. Knowing what actions will take place, the future is simple.

The appearance of the town has not changed. The streets are still empty. The heat radiates off them like smoke.

All the pieces are assembled. Knowing what actions will take place, the future is simple.

Why did I volunteer? It occurred in a mountain village in Western Europe. If they needed alchemists, they should have requested the ones from Prague. All the same, The Church requested help from us, the Atlas Academy.

Even though people pass me by, if I look behind me, no one is there... only a strange emptiness.

First, limit the conditions. The place where it will occur easily, the culture, the population. Furthermore, simulate world affairs. Consider the random appearances of aces. 2000 patterns is acceptable. Begin after all variables are assigned value. Values with only some possibility are


I raised my hand. They said they needed calculations, so I thought I would calculate. Yes, we need to calculate. That is the all-encompassing fundamental of the alchemists of Atlas.

It's just so hot. Too hot for even a desert dweller.

not needed; filter for optimal candidacy. 12,500 corresponding sectors on the Earth. Only those places are where it can occur. Measuring atmospheric pressure results in predicting the time and place of a typhoon. It is the same. Then, grasping its general progression is

I hurriedly enter a large building in order to download data simultaneously from the gathered minds there.

With only poor Magic Circuits, we cannot rely upon magical means for the realization of the occult. Therefore, we use only our minds to do so. We read the stars, the wind, people, the

This is why they call me the Spiritron Hacker Sion Eltnam. This filament, Etherlite, is able to compel and coerce the human nervous system.

possible. The problem. The problem is, The problem is, yes, guessing what its prime condition is. What was the original cause of the phenomenon. What does it desire? Eternity? It cannot be. Such foolishness, why would it desire that? Is there

Because the intent is not to destroy the mind, you cannot call it cracking.

world. Collecting information to diagram the root ancestry of events. Our brains are possessed by the demon of Laplace. We interfere with limitless possibilities to set up limited formulas for "reading the future".

...... I really don't need to do that. In the first place, I...

a meaning to living forever? Perhaps there is? Wishing to make the impossible possible? Yes, in the first place, why do you cling to being human?

──Stop it. Stop it. Stop it.

──Stop. Stop. Stop. Stop.

────Utter chaos. I want silence. Cut. No I have to tell myself not to cut! I'm still being influenced from that nightmare. Calmly. Calmly. Cut. Cut. I have to block these thoughts from my mind.

──Third thought process halted.

──Seventh thought process halted.

──Second thought process halted.

──Sixth thought process halted.

"............ Ah..."

Suddenly, I'm very tired.

My throat is parched and sore, and my tired body collapses in on itself.


I expel the air from my lungs.

It's like breathing fire.

"Can't...... breathe..."

My vision blurs. If I don't rest... if I don't sleep properly, I won't be able to keep going.

I may only have two or three days left.

"But, I can still move."

If I can move, I'm still alive.

I'm still injured from last night's battle, but it won't slow me down.

Sion: "Ah... I really was careless yesterday, wasn't I?"

I knew about Shiki's abilities.

But I was never clear on his fighting experience.

Maybe he only fought on a few occasions, but those were against members of the 27 Ancestors and an agent of The Church.

If he was strong enough to stand against creatures like them, he could hardly consider me to be a real enemy.

Sion: "It is a little... regrettable."

......? What was that outburst?

Shiki has already agreed to help me.

There can't be any problem, so what is regrettable?

Sion: "My Etherlite is connected to him. If he tries to back out of our agreement, I can calculate his location easily enough."

After we agreed to cooperate, I touched his head and attached my Etherlite.

Not remote control, but direct contact with my Etherlite burrowing into his nervous system.


Sion: "But, that's just in case."

...... I start to feel less and less well.

...... I should stop thinking these extra thoughts.

Anyway, I have to fulfill the promise I made with him.

Information collection ended easily enough.

It does seem that most of the citizens have heard of the second coming of the "vampire".

But it is only thin rumor, not too different from the information that Shiki knows.

Sion: "All the same, no one denies the rumor. Even if the credibility is nonexistent, it is a rumor accepted naturally."

Everyone seems to feel something bad is going to happen.

The emptiness of the town has crept into their hearts.

The town will bake in the heat today, and probably tomorrow as well.

The stage is set, a town under attack by fierce heat of record high temperatures.

The spawning of strange paradoxes of unknown origin.

Terrible ideas, ill omens, visits to the temple portending bad luck.

Coincidence? The dark night where "uneasiness" fed by anxiety becomes reality.

Even though not one murder has occurred, everyone says it "happened", and the vampire has returned.


During the deep night in the empty town, a lurking shadow which wanders the streets.

Sion: "...... Soon the moon will form a perfect circle in the sweltering night, which seems itself to be in agony. Until then, I..."

I must guide this loose "rumor" into a definite shape.


Sion arrives according to schedule.

Sion: "Good evening. You are right on time, Shiki."

Shiki: "Same for you. A big difference from someone I know."

...... Actually, she would come extremely early and then go hide.

Sion: "Shiki. How did things turn out with the True Ancestor?"

Shiki: "Well, it can be pretty hard to get hold of her sometimes. But I left a note in her room. Maybe tomorrow will be different..."

Sion: "Is that so? So she covers her tracks well. This won't be easy."

Shiki: "Right, right. As fickle as she is, she might just have decided to go off and play around for a while without even knowing what's going on."

Sion: "Perhaps. Do you not think she left you intentionally, Shiki?"

Shiki: "───Intentionally? What do you mean, Sion?"

Sion: "I mean that the returned vampire could possibly be the True Ancestor."

Shiki:"That's impossible. Arcueid would never do the kinds of things they're talking about."

Sion: "...... Never? You really are a wonderful person, denying it so completely like that, Shiki."

Shiki: "Er, well, thanks..."

I stammer a reply.

For some reason, her words don't seem sarcastic, and almost have a ring of admiration to them.

Shiki: "A-anyway, Arcueid doesn't drink human blood. You might not know that, Sion, but she───"

Sion: "She isn't the vampire in the rumors, right? If you say so."

Sion: "However, if the vampire has returned to this town, then isn't it strange that there is no other vampire around besides the True Ancestor? There has to be something which was a model for all these rumors."

Shiki: "A model for the rumors......? Wouldn't that be the incident from a year ago?"

Sion: "That isn't the model, but the source. The rumors have been very clear about that. No one has actually seen or heard anything themselves. Putting aside what is true or false, does there not have to be some 'shadowy figure wandering the night' on which to base these rumors?"

Shiki: "......?"

Sion is a little hard to follow. No, in the first place───

Shiki: "Sion, I've been wondering. You talk about research and studying vampires... who exactly are you?"

Sion: "I am an alchemist. You know about magi, do you not? The one named Ciel belongs to The Church, but there is another organization called the Mage's Association."

Sion: "I am a member of the Mage's Association. There are three separate branches. I belong to Atlas."

Sion: "The Church views vampires as their enemy, but they have an agreement with us, the Mage's Association. ...... You could say we're a military force that isn't black, but not white either."

Shiki: "...... Mage's Association......"

...... Hmm. If that's the case then maybe Sensei is also in this Association.

Maybe Sion even knows her.

Sion: "I do not. Your Sensei is London's problem child, so it is natural for a member of Atlas like me to not have met her."

Shiki: "W-what did you say, Sion? How did you..."

Sion: "I can tell what you're thinking. You're someone whose face is easily read."

...... Hmph.

I'm used to Akiha and the others saying that, but it is a bit of a shock to hear it from Sion, whom I've just met.

Shiki: "...... Whatever. Then what do we do from here? It isn't fair if you don't tell me the results on all the information you gathered before."

Sion: "I don't mind. But what I gathered was not really any different than the rumors you heard. So I have nothing to tell you."

Shiki: "My. That's a little troubling."

Sion: "Isn't it? So now we will just have to confirm it with our own eyes after all. If we're going to find the rumored vampire and the source behind it, we have to search the city at night."

...... So we're back to that. I didn't expect anything better.

This reminds me more and more of what happened last year.

Sion: "So...... This is my plan, Shiki. Why don't we look together? I don't know this town very well. I would be wasting my time without a guide.

Shiki: "Eh? ...... Well, they say two heads are better than one but is it alright? Your purpose is to research vampires, so......"

Sion: "We cannot declare for certain the source of these rumors isn't the True Ancestor, correct? Reason stands that if we fulfill your goal, it would be easier to find the True Ancestor. It would be meaningless if only I found the True Ancestor, and you would become free much quicker. I think that goes without saying."

Shiki: "────"

I see, that's what she's thinking.

Well, we'll see, I guess.

Shiki: "Alright. Give-and-take, then."

Sion: "Yes. As much as I can, I will help you with your agenda."


Shiki: "We've walked so far and still we haven't found anything. The town is strangely quiet, but there's no odd feeling to the air."

Sion: "We haven't gone into the areas mentioned in the rumors. I hate to say this, but more victims will appear as time passes."

Shiki: "Huh? Sion, what do────"

Shiki: "Whoa!"

???: "Halt!"

Shiki: "Who────!?"

Shiki: "Se...... Sen, pai......?"

Ciel: "Tohno-kun......!? Wh-why are you with her──"

Ciel: "──Sion Eltnam. Don't tell me, you..."

Sion: "I think you misunderstand, agent. I asked for Shiki's help, so he accompanied me."

Sion: "No one forced him. As for what you're thinking about, no."

Ciel: "...... Is that so? So he has nothing to do with you, then. So you won't ask for his help when we fight."

Sion: "────"

Shiki: "Se, Senpai, hold on! This may look like something is going on, but you don't have to bring out your Black Keys like that all of a sudden."

Ciel: "Tohno-kun please be quiet! ...... Goodness, why do you always show up in these bothersome situations? Or is it that you can't resist the request of a cute girl?"

Shiki: "T-that's definitely not it!"

Ciel: "At any rate, stand aside, Tohno-kun. I will not listen any longer. If you get in my way, prepare to be punished."

Ciel: "Sion Eltnam Atlasia. An order has been issued by The Church to take you into protective custody, or failing that, to capture you by any means necessary. A similar request has been issued by the Atlas Institute. Do you have anything to say in your defense?"

Sion: "──I have nothing to say. But I will not let you capture me. If you try, you will be destroyed."

Shiki: "Yeah, saying that all of a sudden is a little── W-wait, Sion... What did you just say!?"

Ciel: "You will not comply with The Church's orders? Very well, then. As an agent of The Church, I am placing you under arrest."

Ciel: "I will make you reflect on your actions. Your partner will also have quite the painful experience."

Shiki: "Uwaaa! Senpai, why are you getting so serious!?"

Sion/Shiki vs Ciel

Sion/Shiki win

Ciel: "Tch!"

Sion: "That is enough. This battle is ours, agent."

Ciel: "...... I see. Your abilities have certainly improved. Fighting you now would be a bad idea. Furthermore, since he is helping you, it would be best to let sleeping dogs lie."

Ciel: "Sion Eltnam Atlasia, I entrust your monitoring to him now. Your involvement in this is disturbing, but it is foolish for me to be distracted from my main task."

Sion: "That's a strange thing to say. Shiki and I are partners. He doesn't mind my involvement."

Ciel: "Yes, you may be right, you may be right. He is nice to everyone, so I will not get in the way. But no matter what, you will not be able to do anything bad when you are with him. You'd best keep that in mind."

Sion: "?"

Ciel: "────Tohno−kun."

Shiki: "Y−yes! ...... What is it, Senpai?"

Ciel: "You don't have to be so apprehensive. Since you chose to associate with her, you will have to supervise her until the very end. You can't leave her alone half−way through."

Shiki: "Me, supervise Sion?"

Ciel: "Yes. Since she is investigating vampires, she will need your protection. I will not be able to help you until I have killed the Dead Apostle, so you have to protect her until then."

Shiki: "Until you kill the Dead Apostle...... wait, are you looking for the vampire from the rumors, too?"

Ciel: "Of course. I am on formal orders from The Church and a powerful Dead Apostle is hiding somewhere in town. So I ask you to not do anything foolish, Tohno−kun."

Sion: "...... If The Church is involved...... then, that──must have already begun......"

Ciel: "Just as you say, Sion Eltnam. I understand you feelings, but hunting Dead Apostles is the business of The Church. You should stay out of it."

Ciel: "...... And as for apprehending you, that is the duty of the Mage's Association. For me, everything else is secondary to the hunt for Dead Apostles."

Sion: "I am... being overlooked?"

Ciel: "Of course not. Because as soon as the Dead Apostle hiding in this town is disposed of, you will definitely be of top priority."

Sion: "You are saying I should leave Japan then, agent? ...... I'm surprised you would be so soft. I heard from the Knights that the Burial Agency was one of the most bloodthirsty groups of killers around. Was that information wrong?"

Ciel: "No, they were right. I just don't feel good tonight."

Ciel: "Even if I am part of the Burial Agency, I am still human. ...... Um, It seems there is at least one person trying to play innocent."

Ciel: "After everything is over you can tell me all about it, Tohno−kun."

Fierce Heat, With Scattered Lies

Alice's anxiety

Shiki: "............"

Sion: "Thank goodness. The fact that she found us is a big minus, but the fact that she can be pushed back is an unexpected development. I expected that if I encountered her, I would be forced either to flee or to be destroyed. It seems that an external factor tipped the scales in my favor − you, Shiki."

Shiki: ".................."

Sion: "She certainly is cautious when it comes to you. An agent of the Burial Agency saying, 'Stay out of trouble, don't get in the way of my duties.' I never would have thought it."

Shiki: ".................."

Sion: "Still, this could help remove the biggest obstacle to our plan. If this─── Shiki, are you even listening to me?"

Shiki: "Huh? I'm sorry, Sion, what is it?"

Sion: "Not, 'what is it?' Didn't we just turn back an agent of The Church? Is this not traditionally the part where the victors celebrate?"

Shiki: "Yeah, something like that, I guess......" (...... All we did was simply push back dealing with the problem until later in the future. And Sion... we really did just make Senpai really angry......)

Shiki: "Hm, let's not think about the unpleasant future right now. More importantly, what was that thing Senpai was saying earlier?"

Sion: "Thing? What do you mean, 'thing'?"

Shiki: "The thing about the order to arrest you! And then protective custody and...... well, maybe that's not so bad, but the 'capture by any means' part is a little much, isn't it? You told me you were a Mage from Atlas, but you never said you were on some wanted list."

Sion: "Of course not. I felt no need to speak of it."

Shiki: "Y−you felt no need? You don't just hide something like that!"

Sion: "Shiki, please stop yelling so much. You are drawing attention."

Sion: "But, it certainly was a mistake on my part. I did not think even The Church was searching for me. It seems the Mage's Association is really intent on returning me."

Shiki: "...... Alright, I can accept that. But what in the world did you do? For Senpai to really attack someone like that is rare──"

Shiki: "──Um, I mean it doesn't happen often. Are you sure you didn't do something to make her angry, Sion? If so, it would be troublesome if you didn't tell me, you know."

Sion: "Troublesome......? Shiki, why?"

Shiki: "If we're going to work together, we have to have an understanding between us. ...... We've got to be able to rely on each other. There can't be any more secrets."

Sion: "Is that... part of being a partner?"

Shiki: "Yeah. That's really important between partners."

Sion: "───────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────"

Shiki: "Sion?"

Sion: "...... Shiki. Atlas is hunting me because I turned my back on their doctrine. Objectively, I have not done anything wrong. You are not an accomplice, so there is no need to worry."

Shiki: "Eh? Uh, no, I wasn't asking if you did something wrong. I was just wondering why Senpai was after you?"

Sion: "Please believe me. I didn't do anything for you to despise me."

Shiki: "Yeah, I believe you."

Sion: "... Thank you. I appreciate that."

Sion: "Let me explain the rest. The Mage's Association I come from is the Atlas Academy. There is one overall Mage's Association, but different places have different academies."

Shiki: "I know. The largest Mage's Association is in London. Senpai said that earlier."

Sion: "That is the 'Clock Tower', hidden within the very famous British Museum. They are one of the most respected associations. Many magi try to imitate their stances."

Sion: "But I am from a place far away from there, an alchemist of Atlas in Egypt. Other academies encourage learning and experimentation in a wide variety of disciplines. In Atlas, there is only one path, and those who venture off it are severely punished."

Shiki: "Severely punished... Sion, don't tell me−"

Sion: "Yes. I broke their one commandment. Atlas strictly forbids the dissemination of knowledge, but I traveled to other academies and exchanged information with their researchers."

Shiki: "You mean, you traded away secrets from this place Atlas?"

Sion: "No. I would never reveal Atlas's own secrets. The information I traded was the fruits of my own personal research."

Shiki: "Well, they shouldn't have gotten angry about it if it was just your own work."

Sion: "Atlas does not see it that way. They believe that the results of one's own work should be revealed only to oneself. That is their absolute law, and consequently, they view my actions as a serious transgression."

Sion: "Perhaps it is very unbecoming for an alchemist. But getting answers to my questions was more important to me than Atlas's restrictions."

Shiki: "Answers to your questions about a cure for vampirism?"

Sion: "...... Yes, exactly. Questions about the Dead Apostles, the thought process of those humans who sought immortality, the underlying fate of those humans avoiding such a contradiction... what drives them...... why I carry such doubt within me... those are my chains."

Shiki: "? Um, sorry, but could you be a little more clear? Your explanation is a little (extremely) hard to follow."

Sion: "......! Well excuse me, your inability to comprehend things is really something! Just dumbing down my words to meet your vocabulary takes forever, now you want me to somehow match everything to your limited intelligence!? No, in the first place, my explanation was not lacking. The only thing lacking here is your ability to understand anything!"

Shiki: "─────"

Sion: "A−anyway, the point of my crimes was to find a cure for vampirism! Don't you want that, too!?"

Shiki: "Well sure, that would be great. But Sion, you..."

Sion: "What, what is it Shiki?"

Shiki: "It's not a question of your motives. Didn't Senpai say you had a connection to this vampire mess?"

Sion: "Of course, I am entrusted to gathering information for you."

Shiki: "....................."

Shiki: Stares

Sion: "I−I don't know. I don't have any connection to it! Why is it so hard to believe that I don't have any connection to this trivial, inconsequential vampire affair in such a Far East country like this!?"

Shiki: "Wow. 'Trivial' is pretty harsh, isn't it?"

Sion: "Ah, no, that isn't what I meant. I mean at its current stage it is trivial! These rumors have not been verified, nor have there been any victims, right? In other words, it will be serious once real victims turn up."

Shiki: "Hm, uh−huh. Just some rumors, it really is pretty trivial. Haha, maybe I was a little stupid to investigate it just because it seemed interesting─"

Sion: "You've got it all wrong! 'Trivial' isn't the right word. We will be lucky to end this before victims do appear. Look, Shiki, you can't just ignore the rumors that a vampire has reappeared in town──"

Shiki: "Don't ignore the rumors, Sion? I thought you came here to see Arcueid, not because of those rumors."

Sion: "......! D−didn't I say that before? I−I came to this town to meet with the True Ancestor. And then a totally unrelated Dead Apostle just started to appear here!"

Shiki: "..................................................Well, whatever."

Sion: "What do you mean by 'whatever', Shiki?"

Shiki: "You have your secrets, but I can see you're not really a bad person."

Sion: "...... You can't understand anything at all. As a matter of fact, you really get on my nerves. Shiki, I really do want to explain it all to you, but─"

Shiki: "No, it's alright. I think I understand your situation better now, so we can just end it here."

Shiki: "More importantly, it's almost sunrise. The sun will be up soon. The vampire only comes out at night, you know."

Sion: "Shiki, your family will be up soon, right? It would be meaningless to continue our search any longer."

Shiki: "...... Hey, Sion. How do you know that much about me?"

Sion: "Because your thoughts are very strong. 'I don't want Akiha to find out about my night patrols,' is your highest priority."

Sion: "Akiha is very important to you, but you're a little scared of her, aren't you? You seem to think about her a lot. If you think about her so much, I wonder what kind of person she is?"

Shiki: "Um, let's just stop here." (Please, stop)

Shiki: "At any rate, let's go our separate ways for now. We can meet again tomorrow night at the same place. We might be able to catch Arcueid next time."

Sion: "────Eh?"

Shiki: "And it would be better if you hid yourself in daytime. Despite what Senpai said, she may just come looking for you if you are alone."

Sion: "────I was, going to do that, um..."

Shiki: "See you later then! Meet you at the usual place tomorrow night!"

Sion: "──────── ...... Troubling. How can he just trust me so completely like that?"

...... I'm dreaming.

For me it is a waste of time...

Even if sleep is necessary for resting the brain, to have to see these pointless thoughts...

Probably because my body is weakening.

I can't control it.

...... Isn't this a contradiction?

If I am so exhausted, I should be too tired for dreams.

All the same, why is it that I bring up these meaningless thoughts?

The name Eltnam. Something of a scar on the face of Atlas.

Awe. Loathing. Avoidance. Criminal.

No one said that, but that's how I was viewed.

A family known for their long devotion to alchemy.

Once considered distinguished nobility, respected figures who commanded great influence.

When did that all change?

I shared information.

My father did the same. And his father, and his father before him.

That is how we increase our knowledge.

Those of Eltnam do not take their knowledge from books, but from other humans.

That is the result of a rational pursuit of knowledge.

If you want to know something, you don't necessarily have to study just that one thing.

It is more efficient to copy the knowledge of someone who has studied it and more. Then you will have the whole of his knowledge, not just one piece of it.

So thought our ancestors, who created the means by which we can read data directly from the human mind.

Using the Etherlite, the artificial nervous system constructed of ether, hacking into the soul is possible.

When the Etherlite touches another human being, it merges with their nervous system and links their mind with that of the user.

You might say it takes over that person's hardware.

Thought directs the body; and ordinarily, the brain is its only control center.

The Etherlite hacks into this process and becomes a second control center, sabotaging the original. It hacks orders to the body, which believes they came from its own brain.

The Etherlite penetrates to the deepest level.

From the brain, it takes information.

It creates a blueprint of the soul from which thought processes are derived.

Of course, to completely seize someone requires the breach of reason, instinct...... thousands of barriers.

It truly is a talent.

With this ability to invade the information of others, the House of Eltnam can overcome any obstacle with ease.

The target has no choice but to yield their knowledge.

Other powerful methods of collecting a person's knowledge; drugs, the hypnotic gaze of a vampire... those methods can damage the information so that perfect playback is impossible.

Certainly, they damage the target itself.

But our method is different.

Our way does not leave a scar in the mind. Thoughts are invaded, downloaded, and even rewritten without the person being aware.

Even morally bankrupt alchemists consider this heresy.

So Eltnam kept its great power a close secret.

...... But even close secrets inevitably become open ones.

By the time I was born, the Eltnam name was no longer a distinguished one.

Three generations ago our secret was discovered, and we were estranged from Atlas for violating its rules.

I suspect the other alchemists were also afraid of our methods.

In that way, people distanced themselves from the Eltnam.

But that is not necessarily a bad thing.

My grandfather, my father, and I did not receive the kind of persecution that might otherwise have been expected.

Our methods are rational ones, no matter how feared and disliked they may be right now.

No alchemist could deny our accomplishments or our power, nor could they surpass us.

So instead they attempted to ignore us.

We could not be penalized.

So we were treated as if we did not exist.

In the pit that was the Atlas Academy.

The House of Eltnam resided in the deepest darkness.

But even that was not a problem.

Others may view us as fallen, but the pride of Eltnam never wavered.

I worked hard as a proud daughter of Eltnam.


I was superior.

Despite my past, I would soon return and demonstrate my abilities.

...... No, not a problem at all.

All those who could not oppose me, could only ignore me.

And I, who possessed abilities worthy of the name Eltnam.

There were no doubts about my future.

None at all.

No reason for doubt anywhere.


I was a slave to my doubts.

What kind of doubts? What was I looking for?

I do not even know the answers to that myself.

The gap between me and everyone else increased moment by moment.

And I didn't notice how heavy my burden had become.

Misaya at night

...... It is time. The sun has set and the town silently turned to night.

Sion: "...... Not good...... already this late?"

I can barely speak through my painfully dry throat.

...... I knew sleeping in a proper room would have been better.

The heat of the day dried my skin so much it crackles as I move.

Sion: "Shiki... already coming. ...... But he's ten minutes early...... Right, I have to keep up so I can warn him."

My connection with Shiki through the Etherlite gives me the occasional glimpse into his thoughts.

It seems he kept busy, spending all day searching for the True Ancestor and for the rumored killer.

Sion: "Is that just part of his personality, I wonder? He really is honest...... Completely different from the genius act which I play."

...... I don't get it.

For some reason I'm not very good at making conversation with Shiki.

It is not painful or unpleasant, but I'm just not very good at it.

Sion: "But now that I think about it... Actually, I've never spoken to someone my age who was of the opposite sex."

So, this is the first time for me.

Well, back then in Atlas, it was unthinkable.

No, that isn't it, I simply did not think about it────

Sion: "Ah......!"

I feel sick.

Everything before me turns red and I feel like I might collapse.

Sion: "───Stop it. Don't think about your circumstances."

Eliminate all thoughts.

Excess thoughts are dangerous.

There is but one thing I need to do.

Negotiate with the True Ancestor and restrain her.

Then, separate her from Tatari, and this time the vampire will───


This time I arrived ahead of our agreed meeting time by ten minutes. But just as before, Sion was already there waiting.

Sion: "Good evening, Shiki."

Shiki: "Hey. Just like I thought, you're right on time, Sion."

Sion: "Of course. ...... I didn't expect you to be..."

Shiki: "Eh? What was that, Sion?"

Sion: "Nothing. I don't normally talk to myself, so let's just continue with our patrol."

...... Hmph. For some reason, her face seems pale.

Is she in a bad mood? She seems kind of run down.

Shiki: "Sion, are you okay? You look like you've overdone it..."

Sion: "No need to worry. Management of one's own body is a basic skill for alchemists. More importantly, how about the True Ancestor, Shiki?"

Shiki: "Ah, about that. I couldn't catch her today, either. I think she may be deliberately avoiding me."

Sion: "You may be right. Maybe she is trying to act like some kind of a perfect honor student, just like that agent yesterday."

Shiki: "Heh. No way, that's not Arcueid at all. She is probably just concerned about me."

Sion: "...... Indeed. The workings of the heart are truly foolish, aren't they?"

Sion: "Just as well. So no results today, either."

Shiki: "Well, I wouldn't go that far. I did leave a note in her room. 'I have something important to tell you. You know what I've been doing, so come to the park after midnight. If you don't come, I won't make breakfast for you anymore!'"

Sion: "...... Shiki. Do you really think the True Ancestor will take that seriously?"

Shiki: "Oh, she will. A while ago she and Akiha got in a big fight. However it looked, Arcueid was the one at fault and I told her to apologize."

Shiki: "Of course Arcueid said there was no reason to, but as soon as I threatened to stop cooking her breakfast, she apologized to Akiha properly. That is the best bargaining tactic with her."

I puff my chest out confidently.

Sion stares at me in amazement.

Sion: "I see. I must modify my assumptions about the True Ancestor."

She nods to herself.

Shiki: "Shall we go to the park? Maybe we'll meet her this time, Sion."


The moment we reach the park, I feel something wrong already.

The smell of blood is overpowering.

We run into the depths of the park, fighting our way through the thick night air, to find────

Shiki: "Wh..."

Sion: "────────"

Arcueid: "────"

Under the pale moon.

Above the countless corpses, above the ground dyed with blood, Arcueid stands before us.

Arcueid: "...... Hm. Despite being a failure, this could almost pass as the real thing."

Glancing at the moon overhead, Arcueid laughs amusedly.

There's something strange in the air.

Without a doubt, that is Arcueid.

But there's something slightly different, something not quite right with her.

Arcueid: "At last, you're here. Shiki, you call someone and you don't even meet them on time. Not to mention when you finally arrive, you're with some other woman. Now I'm starting to get ticked off."

She giggles.

The pressure builds in the air around us, the abnormality almost overwhelming.

I start to lose my self−control, just like Akiha does when she is drunk.

Shiki: "Wait... Are you real?"

Arcueid: "Oh? If you have to ask that, then I have to wonder about you."

Arcueid: "Well, we'll find out soon enough───you there, magus. You have some business with me?"

Sion: "Yes. My name is Sion Eltnam Atlasia. As an alchemist, I seek your cooperation for a great undertaking, Princess of the True Ancestors."

Arcueid: "Cooperate with me? How rare for someone outside The Church to say that. ...... Fine, let's hear it. I'll listen if you don't bore me."

Sion: "...... Yes. I am researching the process of vampirism. Those who had their blood drank by True Ancestors and became Dead Apostles. Against this one−way process I−"

Arcueid: "Hmm? Then, you mean..."

Sion: "Yes, nothing short of curing vampirism. There is some abnormality in your kind's blood that causes humans to change. If so, then there has to be something which could cause them to turn back. For that, I need the blood of an original True Ancestor────"

Arcueid: "Oh, that? No, no way. That's boring, so we'll just stop here."

Sion: "......! You can't just dismiss that as boring. When you get down to it, isn't it just a disease you are all spreading? You can't just ignore the Dead Apostles like that......!"

Arcueid: "Oh, I didn't say the Dead Apostles were boring. I'm saying that you're boring."

Sion: "────What... do you mean by that?"

Arcueid: "I mean, that is impossible. Once humans become vampires, they can never go back. You can't turn back time, Sion Eltnam Atlasia."

Arcueid: "And isn't your purpose different? Curing vampirism? That's a lie. You know yourself that is impossible."

Sion: "────"

Arcueid: "Isn't that right? Because you've already long since───"

Sion: "Quiet────!"

Sion: "It was foolish of me to ask for your help. Humans and True Ancestors can never work together willingly. I will force you to cooperate!"

Sion dips slightly.

In an instant, her gun is out, and she charges at Arcueid.

Shiki: "Wha───Sion, wait......!"

My voice of reason doesn't make it on time.

Sion rushes to attack the composedly lounging Arcueid.

Sion vs Arcueid

Sion loses

Arcueid: "───Heh. You two may have teamed up or something, but that doesn't mean you can beat me."

Sion: "Agh......"

Arcueid: "Goodness. The fact that you take her side really ticks me off. Right when I shouldn't be wasting even a little of my strength."

Sion: "Wha...... waste... your strength?"

Arcueid: "Yes. If that thing keeps running around loose it'll be quite an eyesore, won't it? Even if it is just like a mere insect buzzing around, it's still a bother."

Sion: "...... Unbelievable. You know what it's true form is?"

Arcueid: "Of course. I was going to clean up the mess by myself. Shiki is too easily deceived, so I couldn't just let him fight that pathological liar."

Shiki: "......?"

Arcueid: "So, Shiki. Why the heck did you call me and then show up with that woman? ...... Don't tell me you're actually the fake?"

Shiki: "Fake... Isn't that my line? What's that mountain of dead bodies then? What about you, are you really Arcueid?"

Arcueid: "That wasn't me. You did it before you came here."

Shiki: "Eh......? I, I did it......?"

Arcueid: "Yeah. Although when I watched it, you looked a little fake. ...... In any case, it seems like we all have been influenced by that thing. If you don't watch out, you just might turn into a true killer."

Shiki: "Turn into a true killer? ...... You mean, um...... what do you mean?"

Arcueid: "The realization of anxiety. You were the one who stacked this pile of dead bodies. Isn't Ciel looking for you right now? ...... Although in the first place, you can't really call this murder."

Shiki: "Stup──what are you doing, Arcueid! It's already too late, stop kicking those bodies around like that!"

Arcueid: "Oh Shiki, you're still tricked. Just take a closer look at all this, won't you?"

Shiki: "A closer look, you...... huh? What is this? ...... Just some scraps of food and trash?"

Shiki: "Huh? Huhhhhh!? What is this!? I swear there were bloody corpses right here...... !?"

Arcueid: "See? You were deceived. Shiki, you've had some very bad experiences so you are more likely to make this stuff real."

Shiki: "......... Is it okay if I ask a question, Arcueid?"

Arcueid: "Yeah, sure."

Shiki: "...... Um, what's going on?"

Arcueid: "Isn't it obvious? A pile of trash you mistook for a mountain of bodies. The work of a killer───no, a vampire."

Shiki: "A vampire? The model for all of these rumors around town? Ciel−Senpai was looking, but I should've known you would be too."

Arcueid: "What's this? You already spoke with Ciel? ...... That's strange, then even if it does appear it may not be a bad time......"

Arcueid: "Oh, I see. Because I'm here it hasn't decided on a form yet. ...... That idiot. So greedy, yet it can only end in self−destruction."

Shiki: "...... Arcueid. You're the only one understanding everything... can't you just help me out a little?"

Arcueid: "That girl over there has all the details. I can't really explain about the Dead Apostle this time, and isn't better to hear from somebody involved in all this?"

Shiki: "Involved... you mean Sion?"

Sion: ".................."

Arcueid: "Exactly. You know, I really want to kill her, but you would probably get in the way, right?"

Shiki: "Are you stupid? Of course I would. What's with this crazy merciless attitude all of a sudden?"

Arcueid: "Hey. I said I'm letting you go, Alchemist. Until I've confirmed the strength of this vampire, I won't be wasting any of my power."

Distant Farewell


Shiki: "About what Arcueid said earlier..."

Sion: "............"

Shiki: "When Arcueid said you were involved, what was she talking about?"

Sion: ".................."

Shiki: "Sion, you said you didn't know much about what was happening, but you really do, don't you? I don't know why you were hiding it, but......"

Sion: "I was not hiding it. It was the truth that I only knew as much as you did about the rumors."

Sion: "...... But, yes. I do know more than you do about the Dead Apostle hiding in this town."

Shiki: "I knew you'd be difficult. If you knew about it how come you kept quiet?"

Sion: "Because you were just looking for the rumored vampire. For example, it would be like just buying medicine whenever you were sick. You didn't buy the medicine because you wanted to find out what was in it, right? So it was meaningless to explain everything about that Dead Apostle."

Shiki: "...... Hey, there IS a meaning to it. If you don't know your opponent, you won't know how to counter him. He's just a rumor after all, so we don't know if he's really that bad. And if we can resolve this by talking it'll be much better."

Sion: "How laid back. If you think you can talk with it then you are so wrong it gives me the chills."

Sion: "...... This is against my better judgment, but consider it a reward for agreeing to help me. Right now you seem to simply want peace with that vampire. But if you die on me because of it, my ability to finish this may be in question."

Sion: "Shiki. The source of the rumors in town, the Dead Apostle that the True Ancestor and the agent of The Church are searching for is the one called 'Tatari'."

Shiki: "Tatari......? You mean, like a curse?"

Sion: "Yes, the etymology derives from this country's word for 'curse'. The Dead Apostle Tatari is a vampire lacking independent individuality. It pieces together anxiety from the bits of rumors to appear real and feeds in cycles."

Shiki: "A rumor that appears real and feeds in cycles?"

Sion: "Yes. A criminal that revels in the reactions of others to its deeds. Dead Apostles are normally not content with simply drinking blood as the years pass. They make their own rules and take pleasure not only in drinking blood, but in protecting those rules."

Sion: "To make matters worse, Tatari has the ability to gather up rumors. Similar to the True Ancestor's Marble Phantasm, Tatari is able to materialize the imagination of humans. So the more uneasy humans are and the more bad rumors spread, the more its power grows."

Shiki: "...... Hey. Then... you mean in the absence of bad rumors he can't exist?"

Sion: "Yes, a curse's strength is extreme anxiety, and operating on this principle, it can transform general rumors into reality. That which is called Tatari truly does have the ability to materialize rumors. It is one kind of what we call a Reality Marble. Strong Dead Apostles are able to create within themselves a differing reality from the outside world. This Reality Marble is a separate world created from one's imagination. Usually its form is constantly fixed, but Tatari's Reality Marble is something which 'takes form from nearby humans'. Because of that, the contents of the Reality Marble are separate from that of the world around it."

Sion: "Reality Marbles are also very short−lived. No matter how strong a Dead Apostle is, he can not maintain one for more than a single night."

Shiki: "...... A single night is the limit...... Is that why the rumors of the killer are only at night?"

Sion: "No, Tatari has not yet occurred. In order to take form, the rumors must spread through town in order to increase their probability. Right now, Tatari is only a rumor. But just rumors cannot kill anyone in reality, right?"

Sion: "Tatari is spreading roots through this town, permeating it with unpleasant rumors. As time passes, the rumors start to turn to reality and it can occur due to the bizarre circumstances. ...... That means the likelihood of a true killer or vampire serving as a model is high. In any case, thanks to all of those incidents which occurred before, I think it is only natural for the people of this town to feel uneasy about it."

Shiki: "──Oh? In other words, this Dead Apostle named Tatari hasn't drunk blood in this town yet and he has to wait until the rumors become closer to reality before he can?"

Sion: "To put it succinctly, yes. For Tatari, the town in which he appears is only one stage and the audience has just arrived. Their imaginations fuel the play, and when the seats are filled──"

Shiki: "Tatari appears. ────The curtain rises?"

Sion: "Yes, for one night. In the past, Tatari would claim victim after victim in the town in which he occurred until it was morning. At times, it would be given to preying on everyone in the whole town. At any rate, he was the "unpleasant rumor" everyone in town believed in. Humans cannot fight back against their own nightmares, their worst fears given shape. Because they cannot fight back, it truly is a nightmare. And────"

Shiki: "...... Once the curse begins, there's no stopping it?"

Sion: "Correct. And you are also part of the audience. No, you might just be the guest of honor. There is a high possibility whatever unpleasantness you think of will become Tatari."

Shiki: "Eh? Wh−why me?"

Sion: "You are the human most tied to the True Ancestor. You are the one receiving the True Ancestor's...... favor, so this town is considered quite desirable for an appearance."

Shiki: "The True Ancestor's favor......? If, if that's what you think, you're a little mistaken... but why would that make me such a desirable target?"

Sion: "You know the True Ancestor very well, right? If you think about it, it is very obvious. The absolute worst 'nightmare' in this town would be a True Ancestor gone mad."

Shiki: "Eh──Then, um...... if I get worried about Arcueid indiscriminately drinking blood, or think that Ciel−senpai and Akiha getting in a fight would be bad, then......"

Sion: "Then the chances of that becoming reality is high. Curses work more on the principle of changing things which exist rather than creating something out of nothing. Please think of Tatari as a sort of Dead Apostle who uses 'curses' as familiars. In this case, wouldn't it simply be easier for Tatari to take possession of the True Ancestor and start rampaging rather than truly becoming a rampaging True Ancestor? Consequently, your image of unpleasantness is much more clearly defined than anyone else's. Having seen so many real vampires, you provide a far more vivid image from which to construct a false one."

Shiki: "──────────────────────────────────────────────Hey, wait a minute."

Shiki: "Then, if I imagine that guy, for instance..."


Shiki: "If I get troubled thinking about that..."

Nanatsu Yoru

Sion: "────!"

Shiki: "Sion......?"

Sion: "Ah...... oh, ghh────!"

Shiki: "Sion, what's wrong!? Are you hurt from your fight with Arcueid......!?"

Sion: "No────that is not, it."

Sion: "I just suddenly became nauseous, no need for concern. More importantly, Shiki, what are you going to do now?"

Shiki: "......? Why do you ask that?"

Sion: "Our efforts to negotiate with the True Ancestor failed. But there still remains the possibility. Her top priority is dealing with Tatari, so we may still use it as a bargaining chip."

Sion: "In other words, there is no need for you to act as a mediator. You can just go back to──"

Shiki: "Hm? Ah, in that case, then let's do it together. I'm looking for the vampire anyway, and you have to do something about Tatari before you can talk with Arcueid."

Shiki: "And we are partners after all. You're a help to me too."

Sion: "───I am surprised. Shiki, you still intend to help me?"

Shiki: "?"

Sion: "Well, I...... I do not have any more information for you. And───I'm still hiding so much."

Shiki: "Haven't you answered whatever I asked? If I don't understand anything, all I have to do is ask, right?"

Sion: "────────"

Shiki: "Anyway, let's just roam around for a while. We still need to do something about this Tatari Dead Apostle before his curse becomes real."

Misaya at night

───With that, Shiki and I began to search together.

...... I wonder why.

There is no need since the True Ancestor has refused to cooperate.

And he still doesn't understand what Tatari is if he thinks he can just run into it while we walk around like this.

────It is meaningless.

If it was so easy to run across Tatari like that, it would have already been sealed by The Church long ago.

Understanding the futility, I still continue to search with Shiki.

In other words, the reason is unknown.

...... I can't believe it.

Things I do not understand discomfort me.

So why am I...?

This lack of understanding is probably getting on my nerves.

"Sion, maybe this direction is better?"

"There is nothing in that direction. Traces would be found not in the center of town but at its edges."

"...... Its edges... let's see, the park, my family's mansion, the industrial sector, the brand new construction site...... oh, the school? That's where the vampire's lair was before."

"It is of no importance if you exclude the school. During this holiday there will be no one there, correct? Tatari will not appear where no rumors will start, in other words, a place where no people gather."

"Oh. Then let's head off to the construction site."

...... My choice of words was not correct.

Tatari does not like crowded places.

Instead, places where one can view signs of life are desired.

Then, elevated places such as the school or the Tohno Mansion are desired.

...... We hurry to the construction site.

The place where Shiki had to experience a parting.

His thoughts flow into me through the Etherlite.

Despite appearing calm, his thoughts are full of his classmate that became a vampire.


Those thoughts become painful.

A deeper look at Shiki's true state shows him to be an austere monk treading across a mountain of needles.

But unconsciously,

He repeatedly tells himself to ignore the path so he can continue walking forward.

"............ sst."

Should I just cut the connection with the Etherlite?

If I do that, his thoughts will no longer flow towards me.

That is where the nausea came from earlier.

Shiki was imaging the thought of "blood" so freshly I practically became drunk on it.

"Sion, be careful. The steps are crumbling and it isn't very bright, so watch your step."

"I know. I can see that much by the moonlight."

"Yeah, it's almost a full moon. I guess it is bright tonight."

After he says that I look up to the sky.

The golden moon hangs overhead.

...... The dark, chaotic ruins remind me of that night.

The night three years ago.

That one night in the mountain village.

The village destroyed by Tatari.

I was the only one who survived.

...... No, I was allowed to escape.

I shamefully escaped from that thing, from which it is impossible to live after having your blood drank by it────

"...... Shiki. Can I ask you a question? Do you hate vampires?"

"That's a pretty tough question, Sion."

In the darkness, Shiki takes a step forward.

Right behind him.

"───I hate them. There's no doubt about it."

For a brief second, I sense an icy intent to kill.

"But my hatred isn't directed towards them. Only humans have a conception of good and evil."

"I see. I..."

There is no good or evil when it comes to vampires.

Just displeasure at drinking blood.

A monster that drinks human blood.

A usurper who steals human blood.

That monster let me alone escape.

I asked it why it let me go.

"What do you mean? I feel sorry for my own kind."

Saying that as it smiled, it disappeared.

To think that is one of my relatives makes me so angry I could go crazy.

One in whom the blood of Eltnam flows.

The same blood of Eltnam within me.

This body which can no longer turn back.

"It looks like this way is a bust. I was thinking maybe the center of town seemed suspicious..."

...... Red. I don't like the color red.

"Shall we go back for now? Next time we'll try that."

...... Blood. I don't like to remember blood.

"...... Sion."

...... To need something like that, who────

"Sion, hey. Are you okay? Sion......!"

          ...... So, I won't allow it.   
          The one who let only me escape,   
          Myself, who escaped,   
          And this weak flesh of mine.  

...... Yes.

This time, in order to lower the curtain on the midsummer night's dream────


Shiki: "...... Oof. I've managed to carry her this far."

I place Sion gently down on the bench.

Unconscious, she lies there breathing painfully.

...... Sion may have some sort of chronic disease.

She looks worse than when I met her and she did just collapse after all.

Shiki: "...... Well then, what do I do now? I don't know where she sleeps, and it would be a problem if I just left her here......"

Of course, I'll stay with her until she wakes up, but I want to take her somewhere else.


Shiki: "...... Taking her here in the dead of night wasn't a good idea. There was even that trouble with Arcueid just a little earlier......"

But there really is no other place I can take her.

My place is of course out of the question.

Just what would Akiha, Hisui and Kohaku−san think about me then?

Senpai's room and Arcueid's place are the same.

In that case, I just have to tend to her until morning......

???: "I understand your fear, human. Staying in a place like that, you must fear the memory of that night you spent here."

Shiki: "────!?"

I whirl around to face that voice.

I see────

Nrvnqsr: "The fear saturating you is impossible to erase. It is difficult to banish it into oblivion when it spawns from the darkness within you."

Shiki: "You────why are you here?"

Nrvnqsr: "There is no why; no right or wrong. I simply exist here as myself. I must be a fake, not reality. I may be an impossible existence... a decaying corpse, but if allowed to exist, I will turn myself into reality."

The vampire in the black overcoat.


The enemy I once defeated, the one who clothed himself with 666 familiars draws closer to me.

Shiki: "────You wish, to fight?"

Nrvnqsr: "Naturally. You were the one yearning for annihilation. A curse is no more than one's sin returning to them. Therefore───this curse is the fruit of your own wandering thoughts of your self−destruction."

Shiki: "kk────!"

His black coat flutters.

From that darkness flow countless beasts.

Sion: "Run away, Shiki......!"

Sion: "Ergh......!"

Nrvnqsr: "Oh? Another one? But a magus. Not many circuits, but of fine quality."

Nrvnqsr: "It has been a long time since I last fed on a magus. But be assured. I will inherit your intellect; it will not be wasted."

Sion: "Shiki, you───of all things, you had to think of THAT here......!?"

Shiki: "Uwaa! Then it's my fault he came after all!?"

Sion: "Did I not say Tatari was something which could not exist unless it received the influence of others? A monster which could not normally exist, one which gives rise from the fears of others. To you, Nrvnqsr Chaos is a curse which embodies both of those things. It is exactly the kind of form that Tatari impatiently waits for during the full moon!"

Shiki: "Wha───you mean, he......?"

Sion: "Yes, that is the Dead Apostle called Tatari. ...... Things are moving faster than planned, but it can not be helped."

Sion gets in a fighting stance.

...... The vampire which made his appearance raises his hand towards us in perfect composure, just like that time before.

Shiki: "───Excellent. I defeated you once before, and if you insist, I will defeat you as many times as it takes......!"

I ready my knife and advance toward the vampire.

My knife, and Sion's thread.

They mingle with his roar underneath the full moon────

Shiki/Sion vs Nrvnqsr

Shiki/Sion win

Shiki: "Gah......!"

Nrvnqsr: "Not bad. As to be expected from Number 10. It exceeds even my former potential."

Nrvnqsr: "But───in these circumstances, it will not be enough────"

Shiki: "What's going on? ...... He's, fading......?"

Sion: "──Too early. After all, you are the only one for whom Nrvnqsr Chaos is a strongly held fear. There is not enough strength of rumor for full conceptualization. In that state, anyone could kill Tatari───"

Shiki: "An opening............!"

Nrvnqsr: "Ah─"

Sion: "────"

Nrvnqsr: "I am to be killed by you a second time?"

Nrvnqsr: "I see. Myself or even our Ancestors are but frail beings before an exception like you. Perhaps an irregularity like you can even summon the Princess and bestow upon me that form."

Nrvnqsr: "Very well. Being one of the 27 Dead Apostle Ancestors has lost its flavor. ───Being an original would be much more appropriate for my final form."

Sion: "───I can't believe it."

Even if it is pointless, that statement escapes my lips.

The eyes of Tohno Shiki see Death.

Not the death of substance, but the death of meaning, of existence itself.

I knew that from reading his data.

But I didn't understand it.

He truly is a God of Death.

Sion: "...... Tatari's incomplete form is information. To be able to attack and eliminate it like a tangible object is──"

What a wild card.

For him───he can probably kill concepts beyond human comprehension.

Shiki: "Gone...... did I defeat it?"

Shiki says this in half−disbelief.

...... It isn't because it was simple compared to the long−gone Dead Apostle.

In the first place, if Tatari is composed only of information, he cannot be a challenge.

Shiki, being well−tuned to the life and death of an opponent he defeated before, is simply able to perceive the passing once more.

Shiki: "Sion, just now..."

Sion: "...... Yes, it is finished. You have destroyed the vampire you were looking for, Shiki."

Shiki: "──For real?"

Sion: "Yes. Well done, Shiki. You destroyed Tatari before there were any victims."

Shiki: "────────"

...... I lied.

With such an obvious lie, he might be able to tell.

But, he really has no way of denying it.

I am his only source of information regarding Tatari.

If I say "it is finished", then all he can do is nod.

Shiki: "I see. Got it."

Shiki: "Well then, what are you going to do, Sion? That Dead Apostle Tatari... he's gone now."

Sion: "As the True Ancestor will not cooperate with me, I have no need for this town, or for you. I will soon be leaving."

Shiki: "? Is it really okay? About Arcueid?"

Sion: "Yes. In the first place, I knew my chances of gaining her cooperation were low. Our negotiations failed, so there is no second time. Rather than waste time negotiating, it would be better for me to return to my research. That has always been my goal."

Shiki: "Oh. That's fine, but in that case,"

It would be better to just go back, he says in a perfectly natural tone as he stops.

Sion: "────────"

His words,

they are correct.

For me, it is meaningless to search for Tatari tonight.

I understood it was meaningless for me to try to use Tatari in the negotiations with the True Ancestor.


that is why I agreed to search for the vampire with Shiki, even though it promised only a small chance of success.

Shiki: "Sion? What's wrong? You don't look too well again."

Sion: "No, there is no need to worry."

In other words, even if it was just briefly, I worked with Shiki unselfishly.

The reason is so simple, it almost does not come to mind.

────What is this? Does this mean... I have a liking for him?

Sion: "────────"

Shiki: "Wha−what is it, Sion? Suddenly staring at my face like that..."

Sion: "────────"

Shiki is flustered.

Probably because my behavior is different than usual.

Yeah, I feel the same way.

Until now, I never really spoke with someone of the opposite gender close to my own age.

Until now, I never held a strong interest in that.

I never knew it was this easy for people to start liking one another.

It is troubling.

My chest starts to get tighter, and my face starts to get hotter.

It is a failure of the fundamental control all alchemists learn.

But, just as well.

It does not appear to be a negative sensation.

Perhaps a dog running on the ground that suddenly became able to fly would feel this same exaltation.

Thinking that, I suddenly feel a strange happiness.

Sion: "Sst............!!!!!"

───I'm suddenly overwhelmed by nausea.

Shiki: "Sion? You've been acting a little strange for a while now. Isn't it better to just rest after all?"

Sion: "...... I am feeling poorly, so I will return. Because the vampire causing disturbances in this town is now gone, our cooperative relationship is now finished."

Shiki: "Yeah, that's true."

Sion: "Then, we will part here. Farewell, Shiki."

...... I withdraw my Etherlite from Shiki.

The thread connecting us is now broken.

The contract between us also reaches its end.

I turn away from him.

My nausea vanishes, as does my feeling of exaltation.

──With that, the type of miracle occurring until now becomes elucidated.

Because I never liked anyone, I could only feel unhappy about myself.

So, I endured it.

I endured it by my dry, empty, and meaningless actions.

What moved me was emotions that I never truly felt before.

These emotions...

No, the emotion of liking something was barely a part of my life.

So these past three years, I just endured it.

But, even that is at an end.

Whether I like someone or not, this body has reached its limit.

This body has reached a level where I can no longer maintain it without drinking blood.

...... But, maybe there is a plus side.

A human before it transforms into a vampire.

Being bitten by a vampire, a human that can only become a vampire is brought down by one thing.

"Wanting someone else."

Just that simple emotion.

I know that now.

Lord of Lies


...... Hot.

My throat is parched.

How long has it been since my thirst has been quenched?

My body is harmed by the rising sun.

In exchange, these abilities far surpass my previous ones.

That is only natural.

If your momentum increases, you must increase your intake of nutrients.

Regular food will not suffice.

It will not satisfy.

This thirst will not leave me.

Red, blood, screaming from anguish.

This body which can only be healed by corruption.


For these past three years, I have always resisted the temptation.

───That night.

Ever since that summer when I was bitten by Tatari.

...... Hot. Hot. Hot.

The walls of my throat stick together, as if to block off my head from the rest of my body.

My head floats above my body, as if not even attached.

There is only one way to bring everything together.

There are no nerves connecting the limbs of a vampire.

What connects a vampire is just red, red blood.

Moreover, the blood of others.

Vampires cannot survive without stealing the blood of others.

...... I won't do it. I will never do it.

I never want to be the same as that one.

Because, an existence like mine that cannot survive without stealing from others is a mistake.

...... But at the same time, I know.

It is only natural to require a greater intake of energy in order to maintain such a desired existence, an existence where such a supreme level of life force exists.

The race of vampires is an existence far beyond that of humans.

So a human diet could not compare to that of a vampire's.

In other words... red. Blood. Anguish. Despair.

Of course, you cannot say that is normal.

But, the energy it provides is immense.

I know that. I understand.

As an alchemist, what makes sense is justified.

So, does that make the race of vampires justified?

For them, as living organisms, they are not doing anything wrong.

Drinking blood is a totally natural phenomenon, without any shame.

...... But, I continue my refusal to do it.

I don't understand.

Why do I keep clinging to my "humanity"?

...... It does not add up.

Some numerical value must be incorrect.

Otherwise, I would not still have these doubts.

I can think of this all calmly.

But just where, when, and what is mistaken?───

Sion: "...... What is mistaken?"


Mumbling that, I awaken.

Sion: "...... Night. It is finally a full moon."

That is the time limit.

All the ripening rumors will become Tatari tonight.

My true goal.

Bringing vengeance to the one who initiated me into the race of vampires.

Attacking the enemy of Eltnam.

Sion: "It will end here. No matter what, by tomorrow..."

I think I am finished.

...... These past three years.

Never returning to Atlas, continuing my flight from The Church, and my relentless pursuit.

All in these past three years.

During that time, all I have gained is just an understanding that my vampiric impulse may cause me to develop a liking for others?

Sion: "...... In the end, I didn't even discover what was wrong."

Not that I wanted an answer.

All I wanted to know was where I, Sion Eltnam, went wrong.

I didn't need an answer.

Because, that was...

Sion: "───After all, Even if I found an answer, the dullness of my existence would not change."

...... It isn't that what is wrong is right. Just, I only wanted to know what was wrong.

...... All the same, I couldn't even fulfill that simple desire.

Sion: "───Time to go. Tonight, will be the last night."

I emerge from the back alley.

There is only one place to go.

That shrine where the whole town can be seen.

Where he and I first met───


The tall, partially constructed skyscraper.

This place, by some strange twist of fate called "Shrine", will be my final stop tonight.

I knew from the very beginning where Tatari would converge.

I didn't come to this city because I could sense his presence like an agent or a hunter.

I reached my conclusions through my calculations.

They projected a location, and this city matched it.

Sion: "Almost time? This time, I will..."

Even if I am alone, I will defeat Tatari.

Sion: "────────"

My entire body freezes.

Just thinking that I am unable to combat that monster causes my thoughts to halt.

That is only natural.

Not knowing what shape it will take, I do not know if I can hold my own against it.

An enemy who has not taken form cannot be analyzed for data.

Alchemists are those who fight using information.

Yet, I do not even have that to draw on.

Sion: "────I must go. It is almost midnight."

With shaking legs, I advance forward with my mind still encased in ice.

And then,

Shiki: "Ah, you finally came."

In the entrance to the building,

Shiki: "Hey. You're an hour late, Sion."

He's there, raising his hand in easy greeting.

Sion: "...................................... Shiki?"

Shiki: "Yeah...... but what's with that expression? You look like you've seen a ghost.

Sion: "Because────you, why?"

Shiki: "Why not? Didn't we promise? Until we both met our objectives, that we would cooperate? So, it's not quite over yet. You haven't found what you were looking for, Sion."

Sion: "────"

...... I see.

In short, he saw through everything and was playing dumb.

I am a little surprised.

My Etherlite is detached, so I don't know what he is thinking.

But I truly know just how good of a person he is.

Because he knew he didn't destroy the vampire, and that I was hiding something from him.

Yet he still waited for Sion Eltnam just like before.

Sion: "...... Certainly, there still remains one of my objectives, but that is my problem. Your objective was met last night, so I do not think there is any reason for you to wait for me."

Shiki: "Oh, yeah. Sorry, but please don't worry about it. After all, I couldn't quite rest easy unless it was completely confirmed. If the vampire was still here, it would be bad."

Shiki: "I'm not finished yet so there's no reason for me to go back. ...... Well, since our goals are pretty similar, can't we just team up like before? So, let's stay together a little longer."

Sion: "I do not mind, but I cannot bear responsibility for what happens. It will get deadly, and I will look out for myself more than for you. Are you still okay with that?"

Shiki: "Sure. I do the same thing, so I won't mind one bit."

Sion: "Hm, I wonder."

Shiki: "Hm? Did you say something, Sion?"

Sion: "I cannot believe what you just said, but I do not mind."

Sion: "Because, I can believe in you, Shiki."

Shiki: "────"

And, the two of us enter the building.

My legs which were shaking so hard earlier slip into an easy gait as if my trembling from before never happened.

Probably because I am happy.

To not fool myself and say it bluntly, I am overjoyed.

...... I am less embarrassed than I thought I would be.

Moreover, I feel splendid.

───Now, time to switch off my emotions.

I have to try as hard as I can to hide my feelings from Shiki and act like the way I was before──

Elevator in the Shrine

The elevator rises.

There wasn't any electricity, but after a little fiddling by Sion, our trip to the rooftop began.

Shiki: "Hey, Sion. Yesterday, we defeated the Tatari that became Nrvnqsr. Yet he's still here. ...... Does that mean we have to defeat the true Tatari?"

Sion: "No. When it comes to Tatari, there is no such thing as 'true Tatari' or 'fake Tatari'. ...... Yes, not even you can completely kill Tatari. It is special among all the 27 Ancestors of th Dead Apostles."

Shiki: "Huh?"

Sion: "Tatari can exist forever through others. The same as Roa, the Infinite Reincarnator."

Shiki: "Wait, wait a minute, Sion......! What did you say just now......!?"

Sion: "Hm? Ah, about Roa. You were connected to him, weren't you?"

Shiki: "Yeah, I was...... wait, that's not it! What you said before! Um, what did you say exactly about Tatari!?"

Sion: "Tatari is one of the 27 Ancestors of the Dead Apostles. ...... Hm, come to think of it, I never did tell you."

Shiki: "No, you didn't!───Those 27 Ancestors of the Dead Apostles are the strongest, aren't they!? I never knew he was one of those!"

Sion: "That was an omission on my part. I will explain everything, so please do not be angry."

Sion: "Simply put, Tatari is an unprecedented vampire. The Dead Apostles are only humans who became vampires. They are second generation vampires who are their own breed of vampires apart from the True Ancestors. The highest among these are called the 27 Ancestors."

Sion: "Among these 27, there are those whose true form is unknown. Even other Dead Apostles do not know of them, and not even The Church pursues them. Because they are Ancestors, the others of the 27 do not face them either. Their existence is strange even among vampires. Enigmas which stray from the norms of the 27. That is Tatari───Number 13. The vampire called 'The Night of Wallachia'."

Shiki: "The Night of Wallachia? ...... I've heard something about that from Senpai. The Church knows where the lairs of the 27 Ancestors are, with the exception of one of them......"

Sion: "Yes. Tatari──No, 'The Night of Wallachia' does not have a lair. In the first place, it is something that does not even exist in this world."

Shiki: "...... Something that doesn't even exist in this world......? You mean, he's dead?"

Sion: "No. There are those among the Ancestors that exist even though their bodies have been destroyed. Simply, you cannot destroy the 27 Ancestors by destroying just their bodies. But that is not what I meant. 'The Night of Wallachia' truly does not exist. A Dead Apostle that cannot exist unless certain conditions are met. But as long as they are met, it is a Dead Apostle that can live forever. That is the form of the immortality possessed by 'The Night of Wallachia'."

Shiki: "Immortality? ...... Not even Dead Apostles last forever, yet they still yearn for eternity...... right?"

Sion: "Those are the words of the Infinite Reincarnator Roa. Yes, 'The Night of Wallachia' resembles him terribly. It does not independently exist eternally, only by others."

Sion: "Dead Apostles are immortal, but not eternal. An immortality which requires them to drink the blood of others means they will not age, but does not mean they will not die. Most Ancestors work to perfect that incomplete immortality, but they all fall short. Among them, there are those who seek eternity not from themselves, but from others. One was Michael Roa Valdamjong. A Dead Apostle who reincarnated into those with ability. Another is 'The Night of Wallachia', Zepia Eltnam Oberon. He took another approach from Roa, but still obtains eternity through others."

Shiki: "Zepia Eltnam Oberon...... Wait, his name is the same as......!"

Sion: "Quiet. The details of his name have nothing to do with this explanation. It would take too long to explain that."

Shiki: "────"

Sion: "He had his eye on using others to obtain eternity. No, you must say a circumstantial eternity. His life does not reach eternity, but his 'phenomenon' does."

Sion: "No matter how strong a life form is, it can only know defeat against a life form which exceeds it. If its life is destroyed... if it dies, it will disappear. But, if its origin is a 'phenomenon' that occurs after a certain set of circumstances, then it cannot truly die. Because as soon as those conditions are met, it will occur once again."

Sion: "Zepia chose his occurrence conditions to be based on human conceptions. ...... Yes, to carry this analogy to the extremes, he is like a typhoon. A typhoon stems from low pressure, and is a continual menace, occurring over and over as long as conditions are met. But even if you could destroy the phenomenon of a typhoon, it will still reoccur within this world. That is what Tatari is like. ───A societal phenomenon, a rumor relying on information, which will continue as long as the human world continues. What is born from that is Tatari, the vampire called 'The Night of Wallachia'."

Shiki: "──Sorry, Sion. Could you explain it in terms a little easier to understand?"

Sion: "There truly is no such orientation, but please think of it as a kind of energy that gives things orientation. The Dead Apostle Zepia failed in his attempts to gain the arcane secret called The Sixth. ...... But as expected from a Dead Apostle, he did not fail completely. He was unable to rewrite The System, but he was able to remain inside. After failing to gain The Sixth, Zepia's body was dispersed. But, it was dispersed according to his wishes. The diffusion of his strong spiritual elements caused them to remain in this world. Normally, the separation of these spiritual elements...... the soul's seperation from the body causes it to fall into nothing. Whether it happens quickly or slowly, it is all the same. A natural process one cannot resist. Released from the prison of the flesh, the spiritual elements with no intent of their own or salvation to orient them, perhaps fall into nothingness until they are once again transformed. ...... But before that happened to Zepia, he mastered the 'Tatari' equation. As long as the certain conditions are met, his dispersed spiritual elements converge upon 'rumors' and are born anew in this world. In the span it takes for a human to disappear, the alchemist Zepia calculated the place where Tatari would occur. All that was left was to chart his journey over a thousand year cycle and send his body along such a route. Of course, that route is an endless, one−way trip. Zepia placed himself into that cyclical route so that even after the intent called Zepia ceased to exist, his scattered parts would continue along that program. The Dead Apostle named Zepia no longer exists. So the 13th slot has no name. The Dead Apostle called Tatari isn't actually a Dead Apostle, but is nothing more than a phenomenon."

Shiki: "Nothing more than a phenomenon......? But, a phenomenon that just enters reality from unpleasant rumors is just..."

Sion: "Yes. The dispersed Dead Apostle does not have anything left of its former self. No, in the first place, there is no way for such a thing to come back. Where the Dead Apostle called 'The Night of Wallachia' went is simple. It has to do with mastering the system of authenticating rumors and realizing them in his own body. When a community of people imagines one thing at the same time, there emerges a consensus of the village, a legend. When such a legend becomes universally established, The Night of Wallachia becomes that legend, and disappears in the same manner. ...... And it appears that the first appearance was in Romania───occurring in Wallachia."

Shiki: "...... Occurring in Walachia?"

Sion: "...... Yes. The Wallachia region of Romania was once home to the feudal lord Vlad Tepes. It is said that while he was lenient to his people, Vlad was incredibly brutal towards his enemies, the invading Turks. Doing the unthinkable to other people. Not only killing the enemy, but going even farther by using their flowing blood in his strategy. Despite going so far to protect his own people, rumors began to say he was a vampire. Of course, those were just rumors. Yet in a civilization blanketed in darkness, vampires did exist. And people feared that Vlad Tepes was a vampire. It had nothing to do with reality."

Sion: "And after Vlad Tepes died, the town still circulated the rumor. ──If the lord is a vampire, then during the full moon he will return to drink our blood, won't he?── Vlad, rumored to be a vampire even while he was alive, was still feared for being a vampire after he died. The rumor of a vampire in such an isolated place was very useful to Zepia. He chose Wallachia, the place of the death of Vlad Tepes, as his best sample case to begin from. ...... On the night of the full moon. He transformed into the rumored 'Vlad the vampire' and began massacring the people. After the Knights of The Church arrived, there was not a single body with any liquid left. From street to street, human skins were spread all over the ground. Vlad, the vampire rumored to 'drink until there is nothing left' drank not only their blood, but all the water within their bodies. Every one of the Knights must have thought it was a true nightmare. That event, that massacre was so terrible, The Church could only call it one thing. ───The ultimate nightmare, the gathering of all terror, Just, 'The Night of Wallachia'."

Shiki: "The Night of Wallachia? ...... And? What happened to him after that?"

Sion: "He disappeared. With the death of all those who feared his curse, his curse could no longer spread. After The Night of Wallachia kills all those who made him, he vanishes. Well, he was only able to appear for one night, so it is possible for people to survive."

Shiki: "I don't get it. That Night of Wallachia materializes curses, right? So if he left the people alone that first spawned him, wouldn't he be able to last forever?"

Sion: "...... No. Tatari receives the form of a curse. Unless he acts according to that conceptualization, he will not be able to exist. After crystallizing into the object of the people's dreaded wishes, he kills them all an then vanishes according to those wishes. Appearing as a curse, Tatari must be above all else, a curse."

Shiki: "──I guess I understand a little. Then, it was humans who made The Night of Wallachia into a curse, so────"

Tatari could be made into something bad or something good.

Kind of like that story about the monkey's paw, where it granted your wishes in all too simple of a manner.

So───If humans thought of something good, then it wouldn't turn into a vampire, right?

Sion: "We have arrived at the rooftop, Shiki."

Shiki: "...... Then, right here is where, um..."

Sion: "Yes. At midnight, The Night of Wallachia will begin. ───You cannot die, Shiki, so please discard any useless thoughts right now."

Sion pushes the control panel.

The not−quite finished elevator groans as the door opens.

Shrine Skyscrapper - Rooftop

Shiki: "The rooftop is still being constructed......"

Sion: "It seems no one is around...... hmm...... There probably has not been anyone around these past few days."

Shiki: "? Sion, what are you doing? Spinning around like that... is that ballet?"

Sion: "No! I am using my Etherlite to draw information from the surroundings. Joking around at a time like this, you really are────"

Shiki: "────!"

Sion: "────!"


Sion: "It has begun. ...... That is, Tatari......"

Shiki: "This isn't good───I can't really see them."

Sion: "Of course. Right now, you cannot see any lines of death there. Even you cannot kill words. Inside there, it is still nothing but words. You cannot kill that which has yet to exist. At this stage, the only thing which can kill it is something like Arcueid Brunestud."

Shiki: "Arcueid......? You mean, only something that is so recklessly strong can break it?"

Sion: "───You really are quite direct. ...... I have been wondering for quite a while, but how come you are only so direct when it comes to the True Ancestor?"

Shiki: "No, that's not it. She won't understand unless you really spell it out for her."

Sion: "────(Click). ............ I see. That is how Akiha feels. It may be wishful thinking, but I may get along with her."

Shiki: "Um...... What are you saying over there, Sion?"

Sion: "Can you not tell? I am just thinking aloud to myself."

Sion: "Let us move on, Shiki. ...... It seems Tatari is taking shape."

Shiki: "────!"

???: "────────────────"

Sion: "I knew it───You chose to take the strongest form by drawing upon the thoughts of the person who knew of vampires in this town."

Arcueid(Tatari): "But of course. The Night of Wallachia's goal has nothing to do with being a curse. Zepia's goal was to become a True Ancestor. Zepia never knew things would turn out like this, but in this town the method to become a True Ancestor, the answer he was seeking, has emerged. As a backup plan, Zepia investigated places where the Princess of the True Ancestors would appear, which is why I am now here. ───There's been a lot of ups and downs, but Zepia's goal is within my grasp. Tonight, the name The Night of Wallachia will end."

Shiki: "──────"

Without even thinking, I hold my breath.

This is Tatari......

The Night of Wallachia not only took her appearance, but took Arcueid's personality and mannerisms.

Arcueid(Tatari): "Oh, you're here too, Shiki?"

Arcueid(Tatari): "Wow───I thought you would have come by yourself, so I'm pretty surprised Shiki is with you, Sion. You've gotten a little softer over these past three years. Yeah, Riesbyfe was the one to protect you back then."

Sion: "Bastard......! Don't speak so lightly about her......!"

Sion's whole body is shaking.

Arcueid────No, The Night of Walachia seems to enjoy seeing her like that.

Shiki: "Wait, Sion. Can I try and talk for a little bit?"

Sion: "Shiki......!? It's dangerous. That may look like the True Ancestor, but is totally different on the inside! Trying to hold a conversation, that's just being────"

Shiki: "I know. But there's something I want to ask. ...... The Night of Wallachia, right? If you're the vampire who truly takes the form of others, then answer me. You───have you even once not had the will to drink someone's blood?"

Arcueid(Tatari): "────"

Arcueid(Tatari): "I see now. Shiki, even though it's me, you're really concerned about that."

Shiki: "...... I'm just asking you a question. You can take the form of people's wishes, right? Then, maybe... Maybe once, you can actually become something good."

Arcueid(Tatari): "Huhu...... Ahaha, Ahahahahahaha! Oh, you're so good. To ask me something so nice like that, it's wonderful! Wonderful!"

Shiki: "Don't poke fun. If you're in that form, then I know you'll answer me. Well, then? Has that ever happened?"

Arcueid(Tatari): "Yeah, it happened. Not once, but many times. When people wish for a bumper crop, or for arguing villagers to become friends, or for the god of a sacred tree, or to have a plague lifted. Of course, I grant each and every one of those. After all, I am the vampire who appeared according to everyone's wishes, right? Then I have to at least grant their wishes, don't I?"

Shiki: "...... Then if you become something evil, it is because of people. You don't have any will of your own, so you can only do what people wish upon themselves, right?"

Arcueid(Tatari): "Yeah, that's right. Even now, I am the result of your uneasiness, Shiki. I never thought once from my own will to harm other people, you know."

Shiki: "────────"

Sion: "That is a lie. You, you have always killed people because you wanted to."

Shiki: "...... Sion?"

Arcueid(Tatari): "Oh? That's terrible, Sion. I even let you go, so that's news to me."

Sion: "Then I'll ask, Night of Wallachia. You said there was a village that wanted a bumper crop. How did you make that happen?"

Arcueid(Tatari): "Simple. Without the proper agricultural conditions, you cannot have a great harvest, right? So I provided plenty of fertilizer. The dead bodies of everyone in the village, of course."

Sion: "And for the quarrelling townspeople? How did you make them friends?"

Arcueid(Tatari): "That was also simple. Everyone had a different opinion so that is why they were quarrelling, right? So I granted their wish. In the end, they all tried to escape from me together."

Sion: "...... And the village wanting their local god?"

Arcueid(Tatari): "I became their god. And because their god demanded it, I took the heart of each and every one of them."

Sion: "And the town praying for release from the plague......!?"

Arcueid(Tatari): "I helped them from the plague, too. The quickest way to end someone's suffering from the plague is for them to die, you know."

Shiki: "────Why... you────"

Arcueid(Tatari): "What are you so surprised about, Shiki? If you're that rude, I'll just kill you. Well, I'll kill you no matter what, actually. I am a vampire, and according to you all, I will drink the blood of everyone in this entire town."

Sion: "That is how things are, Shiki. The Night of Wallachia grants nothing other than the sucking of blood. A vile demon that broadly interprets every desire of the people into 'killing everyone and sucking their blood'. The Night of Wallachia...... No, the man named Zepia who made it, will always kill everyone because he enjoyed it......!"

Arcueid(Tatari): "Of course. I wouldn't do it if it wasn't interesting. I appear according to everyone's desires, and then I leave in the manner that they wish. Huhu, the irony, the irony. Humans are so ironic! It's so wonderful that only humans are filled with this much irony, isn't it? A perfect, beautiful setting where everything goes right would be a boring play. What humans really enjoy is not a happy ending, but tragedy, right? What is beautiful is dirty, what is dirty is beautiful. If you cannot understand that, then you really can't take my place, Sion."

Shiki: "Eh───What did, he just say?"

Sion: "Don't be ridiculous. I have nothing to do with you!"

Arcueid(Tatari): "Is that so? But your body is already at its limit. I don't know why you keep resisting it, but you should just hurry up and dirty yourself. If you become the Night of Wallachia, it's alright if Tatari never occurs again. Zepia may not have gained anything, but if it is you and The Night of Wallachia, you may achieve everything. At least the rate of success will increase."

Sion: "............"

Arcueid(Tatari): "What I introduced you to and the fact that you understand me will not change. I do not have to be the one in charge. As long as the Sixth is obtained, I will be satisfied. It isn't a bad thing, is it? With the two of us together, you could wield a veto over any orders from The Night of Wallachia. After all, you would be The Night of Wallachia. After that happens, all you would need to worry about is how you intake sustenance. If attacking humans is not to your liking, there are other ways. You could find a compromise between your dignity and The Night of Wallachia."

Sion: "────I am amazed. You have created quite the useless formula, Wallachia. After all these hundreds of years, you've just managed to gain a strong host. Your intelligence is being controlled by the intelligence of Arcueid Brunestud. ...... My. For one such as you, becoming a True Ancestor is impossible."

Arcueid(Tatari): "───What!?"

Sion: "I do not even need to consider your proposal. I came here to destroy you by my own hand. It is entirely a matter of my own personal grudge. Attempting to do business with me by appealing to emotion rather than calculation is the height of folly."

Arcueid(Tatari): "────"

Sion: "Now please disappear, Wallachia. This night will not dance to the tune of your lies. Before they can permeate this town, I will destroy you now that you have taken shape."

Arcueid(Tatari): "───Oh? As one of my kind, I thought you would have sympathized with me. But, I was mistaken."

Arcueid(Tatari): "The feeling is mutual, and you have ruined all the fun, Sion. Challenging me to fight when your odds of success are so low..."

Scenery changes to the Millennium Castle Brunestud


Shiki: "This, this is Arcueid's castle......!?"

Arcueid(Tatari): "Yes. I am Arcueid Brunestud, Princess of the True Ancestors. Materializing my world here is rather simple. Sion. For you, defeating me is impossible."

Arcueid(Tatari): "Shiki, you're very unfortunate. There are no restrictions to bind me here. Even if you killed Arcueid once, you will meet nothing but despair."

Arcueid(Tatari): "Well then, this town is much bigger than usual. Time is very precious, you know. Welcome, both of you. I will destroy everything without leaving a trace───!"

Shiki/Sion vs Arcueid(Tatari)

Shiki/Sion win

Arcueid(Tatari): "No way────This, cannot"

Shiki: "────Now!"

Arcueid(Tatari): "Ah────I'm dis, a, pearing, after finally obtaining the body of a True Ancestor, for me to disappear, is────!"

Sion: "More precisely, you are falling. Your calculations included only my numbers. Arcueid knew how Shiki was a wild card, but you did not. No, you truly could not comprehend. If you knew, you would never have attacked him directly."

Arcueid(Tatari): "────────────"

Zepia: "────────────"

Zepia: "Heh────Are you, okay, with that, Sion Eltnam? If I disappear, you will────"

Sion: "All humans will die someday. That is all. But, Wallachia..."

Zepia: "I can still make it. I can still────"

Sion: "I will not accept you. As long as I live, I will not allow another Tatari."

Zepia: ",.────,,,,,────,"

Scenery reverts back to the Rooftop

Shiki: "We...... did it?"

Sion: "Yes, Tatari has been defeated this time. The Night of Wallachia will no longer occur within this town."

Shiki: "This town...... Then he is still alive?"

Sion: "...... You cannot annihilate The Night of Wallachia. The only way would be to return Zepia and kill him. However, that cycle will not occur for thousands of years."

Shiki: "───Oh. Then, you will..."

Sion: "Nothing has changed from before. I am still researching the cure for vampirism, and if The Night of Wallachia occurs again, I will defeat it."

Shiki: "You mean, alone?"

Sion: "No. The success rate of two people is higher than just one. If I will not suffice, I will team up with someone else. And I know the world has an endless supply of people willing to help."

Sion: "So, worrying is needless. Please ignore Wallachia's nonsense. I will not be defeated so easily."

Shiki: "────Sion."

Sion: "I have to thank you, Shiki. You were my first partner, my first friend."

Sion: "So for now, we must part. Now that Tatari has vanished, the agent will come here to capture me."

Shiki: "I see. I guess it can't be helped. ...... Yeah, in the end, I couldn't really do much."

Sion: "Of course, this is my story after all. You were just the audience wrapped up in my selfishness────"

───But at the same time, the one to lower the curtain.

Shiki: "Did you say something, Sion?"

Sion: "No, it's nothing. Then I will go back now. Shiki, you should go back before dawn."

Shiki: "...... Ah. Then, until next time. If anything happens, let me know. If I can help, I will."

Sion: "Yes, I will ask without holding back, so prepare yourself."

Shiki: "Haha, that sounds weird, Sion. As always, your Japanese is a little off."

Sion: "Yes, but, I do not think I am mistaken."

After the two of us smile, we part.


"Yeah, that's right. I await the results of your research. If you gave up half−way through, I'd feel a little scornful of you, so you should also prepare yourself."

In the end, Shiki said that, as if he saw how I really felt.

Then, he walked away.

In the place where we first fought, I saw him off.

"───He got me good. If he tells me that, then I cannot do anything else."

I am an overachiever, so scorn isn't something I can tolerate.

...... Well, more than anything else,

I cannot break the promise I made with my first partner.

"───Shiki, I have to thank you again."

The way I have to be from now on,

My connection to The Night of Wallachia.

He realized them both yet didn't say anything.

I have to thank him for his kindness.

"Well then, I must be going."

Will Tatari occur next in Australia or Europe?

If things happen quickly, it will be another ten years.

Until then, I have to keep this body going.

However, I can't succumb.

Ah───man, what a heavy promise to make.

"Drinking blood will accelerate the process of becoming a vampire. Even if the blood intake problem is solved, I have to find the way to resist vampirism."

In that case, what to do is simple.

It has been five minutes and ten seconds since Shiki and I parted.

Just like him, I walk away with a light gait.

Wallachia is no longer in this country.

As long as I live as myself, he will not occur here.

...... It was only once.

I was only here for a few days.

But still, I will never forget this country.

This is where I made a promise with my first friend.

Even if we never meet again, I will never stop wanting to return here.

"If I were to make a wish, it would be to continue our honeymoon here as long as we could."

The sound of footsteps.

All that remains is the hot, hot summer air, and a single, abiding memory────