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Chapter 101

Chapter 101: The Rumored Shadow Garden


Hearing gangangan, the sound of something being struck, Beta looks up from the book that she is reading.

Quickly panning around the spacious archive room, she notices a certain part of the wall vibrating in concert with the sounds.

Is someone pounding on the wall from the other side?

The instant she thinks that, the wall suddenly collapses, and two female figures appear from within the cloud of dust.

“OUCH!”

“aU……”

The black-haired teenage girl has planted her face into the ground, while the red-haired woman is leaning out above her.

“Owww. This wall is apparently much more brittle than it looks.”

Beta recognizes the face of the black-haired girl who is looking up while rubbing her nose. She is Claire Kagenou, the elder sister of Beta’s own master.

“That’s why I told you to do it more carefully……”

So says the red-haired woman with an expressionless face.

“If we take our sweet time then we won’t make it! Milia, would you mind getting off already?”

“Ah, sorry about that, Claire.”

The red-haired woman gets off of Claire’s back, then the two stand up and pat the dust from each other’s clothing.

“So, where are we now anyways?”

“The underground area of the Red Tower, I believe……”

“This is the underground archive of the Red Tower.”

It is Beta who offers an answer to clear the two’s confusion.

That causes the two to finally notice Beta sitting in her chair.

“…… It seems we’ve already been spotted.”

“That’s why I told you to do it more carefully……”

“Alright, I’m sorry. But from the look of things, we would have been spotted regardless.”

The two draw their swords at the same time, facing off against Beta who is still seated in her chair.

Beta heaves a sigh then closes her book.

“Even I did not imagine that someone would come in through the wall. I’m supposed to finish off any and all witnesses, but……”

Beta shoots Claire a quick glance.

“That seems impossible in this case. You lot, stay.”

So Beta covertly sends out a command. However, there seems to be only the three of them in this room.

“I have no intention of fighting. So would you kindly put your sword away, Claire-san?”

“……! You know me?”

“You are the latest champion of the Festival of the God of War, Claire Kagenou-san. Am I correct?”

“So I have become quite famous, it seems. Very well, state your affiliation and aim. Once I know you’re not an enemy, then I’ll draw back.”

“Claire!”

“We have no time to engage in meaningless fights, right? She doesn’t look like someone related to the Queen of Blood. And also…… she would make for a pretty difficult opponent.”

So says Claire with sharp eyes.

Beta is just nonchalantly sitting in a chair, but the atmosphere around her is one that does not seem easy to cut in.

“So it would seem.”

With her black bodysuit and mask, she truly does not look like someone related to the Queen of Blood. If anything, she seems much like an intruder like Claire themselves.

“My affiliation and aim, huh…… Let me just say that I’m also an intruder of the Red Tower, same as you two.”

“More details.”

“It might get a bit long.”

“Be detailed and brief.”

“What a tall order.”

Beta shrugs her shoulders.

“I am Beta of Shadow Garden. I have some business here in the Red Tower, so here I am.”

“Heeh. Why is the rumored Shadow Garden in this place?”

“Hmm…… I wonder how much can I tell you. Even I have things that I can reveal and things that I can’t. Let me see…… for a certain reason, we are conducting research into demon possession, for which we want a sample of a progenitor’s blood.”

“Demon possession……?!”

“Why would you need a progenitor’s blood for that……”

Claire reacted to ‘demon possession,’ while Milia reacted to ‘progenitor’s blood.’

“The blood of demon possession and the blood of a progenitor both have the same origin, and the inheritance of blood led to expression of differing symptoms. Or at least, that is the hypothesis that we have come upon in our research.”

“That is sacrilege towards progenitors……”

Milia’s eyes turn sharp, and her grip on her sword strengthens.

“As I said, it is but a hypothesis. We have no intention of profaning progenitors. However, for the sake of verification, we need a sample of a progenitor’s blood. May I ask why you seem insulted anyways? Ancient Vampire Hunter-san?”

“——?! So you know about me as well……”

“I’ve heard the rumors, at least.”

“I see…… well, if you don’t intend to get in our way, then do as you like.”

“I sure will.”

Milia sheathes her sword while still glaring at Beta, in response to which Beta merely shrugs her shoulders and re-opens the book that she was in the middle of reading.

“As expected of the archives of a vampire that has lived for over a thousand years. It is packed with precious documents and reference materials. So, Claire-san, are you satisfied as well?”

So asks Beta while reading her book.

Claire looks between Milia and Beta while seemingly thinking about something.

“Tell me just one thing.”

Claire turns towards Beta with a serious face.

“If I can answer you.”

Feeling that gaze, Beta also looks up.

“Is there a way to heal demon possession?”

Beta does not answer immediately.

She stares fixedly at Claire’s face, seemingly thinking about something.

“That…… I cannot answer. However, I’ll just say that it is not something that Claire-san needs to worry about.”

“What is that supposed to mean?”

“It means exactly as it sounds.”

Beta returns to her book and turns a page, as if she no longer has anything else to say.

Claire clicks her tongue softly and turns her heels.

“Let’s go.”

However, the moment the two are about to leave the archive, Beta calls out to them.

“Wait a moment. Claire-san, can you tell me the reason why you have joined hands with Ancient Vampire Hunter and stormed this Red Tower?”

“Why do you want to know?”

“Just curious, that’s all.”

Claire scowls.

“My younger brother Sid was kidnapped by the Queen of Blood. If I don’t save him soon, he’ll be offered as sacrifice to the Queen of Blood.”

“Your younger brother……”

Beta tilts her head.

“IS THAT TRUE?!”

Abruptly a fourth voice rings out in this room where it seemed only the three of them were present.

When the three direct their eyes towards where the new voice had come from, they see a woman standing there who had been unnoticed so far. She is also wearing a black bodysuit and a mask that covers her face.

“666, control yourself.”

“But…… I apologize……”

666 visibly suppresses a desire to bolt off immediately and steps back with head hanged.

“You satisfied? We’re leaving then.”

Claire places a hand on the door to the archive.

“One last thing. Is it really no longer an option for her to once again tread on a path towards a land of peace……?”

“What does that mean?”

Claire turns around.

However, Beta is not looking at Claire. Beta is staring fixedly at Milia.

“Ah, wait.”

Milia turns her face away, then wordlessly pushes the door open and exits the archive. Claire follows after her in a hurry.

Within the archive that has gone silent, only the sound of flipping pages continues for a while.

“666, that was disgraceful……”

So says Beta suddenly while reading her book.

“I am deeply sorry……”

666 lowers her head.

“Lambda has acknowledged your strength. Even Alpha-sama has expectations of you. This is a demerit. You two should have also properly kept her in check.”

“My apologies.”

“I’m very sorry.”

Two more girls have materialized beside 666.

“This is 666’s first mission out in the field. 664, as the squad leader, this is your responsibility.”

“Yes, ma’am……”

“Be more careful from here on. I will re-confirm. Our mission is a request from the Research Room to retrieve a sample of progenitor blood. However, Shadow-sama said that he would deal with the Queen of Blood personally, so we cannot arbitrarily move about on our own. So, until Shadow-sama arrives, we will be examining the materials in this archive and collecting important documents. You all may now return to your duties.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

Having received their instructions, the three quickly return to what they were doing before.

666 turns around to look at Beta just once. Within her memories, there is a certain author who bears great resemblance to Beta.