“—Never would I have expected to reunite with you here in the royal capital. Lunaria…”
For the umpteenth time, Villarje sighed deeply.
She had thought that the Nebulablut were annihilated save for herself. She could not help but feel that it was fate that led her to her reunion with her younger sister.
“What’s more, she was taken in by the Disciple of the Last Hexe… Lady Fortuna sure likes to play tricks on us.”
Underneath that black veil, Villarje made a laugh of self-derision. A laugh she had not shown to her sister.
At last the coach arrived in an upscale neighbourhood in the royal capital, at a mansion that was large even considering the neighbourhood. After paying for the coach, Villarje pushed open the solemn iron gates.
The premises were practically devoid of human presence. Looking at the size, it would have been normal to have employed security. The lack of a gatekeeper was also unnatural.
However, it would probably be very unlikely that a burglar would come sneaking in. An indescribable feeling of oppression in the air—something akin to killing intent permeated the grounds.
Villarje walked on, as if she knew full well of its source.
“—Finally returned, have you.”
A voice came from overhead, and Villarje stopped in her steps. She looked up, at the branches of the tree beside her.
“You look rather melancholic. Is that worry I spy?”
It was the bold-sounding voice of a woman. A presence moving about on the tree could be felt, and immediately a black shadow dropped out of the tree onto the ground.
A tall woman. Her bare arms and abdomen were well-toned and supple, exuding a particular sensuality. A feral beauty, reminiscent of a beast or a bird of prey.
Framed by her reddish-brown hair, her face had the sharpness of a wolf’s.
“…On the contrary, you look delighted, Angelika.”
Angelika Fangzahn grinned in response.
“I came across something curious. Pretty interesting, considering that the city of humans has been nothing but boring.”
“…Though you’ve been enjoying yourself a fair amount.”
Looking up at the tall Angelika, Villarje warned in an emotionless voice.
“It would not do for you to not carry out your duties with diligence.”
“Don’t worry about it, ’twill be done without fail. How hard could it be to protect this mansion and a noble on his deathbed?”
The night air grew ever so heavier.
“—You speak out of turn for a mere hound, Angelika Fangzahn.”
“…A hound, you say?”
The air seemed to make a crackling sound.
Within the moonless darkness, a light evidently not from a street lamp began to illuminate the area.
“…You dare to call me a mere hound?”
Her sharp, wolf-like eyes glowing with the light of magical excitation, Angelika snarled. Her exposed teeth creaked, and became weapons that could not be described with any word other than “fangs”.
“…A shameless minx like you dares to call one of the great Fangzahn a mere hound!?”
Before anyone had realised it, Villarje had donned a white cape of fog, and a dusk-coloured light could be seen even through her black veil.
“—the fact remains that you are all hired guns. Employed assassins… If you would not show some courtesy to my lord, then you’re nothing but a mere hound.”
The two glared at each other silently. The terrifying bloodthirst struck fear into the surrounding animals, so much so that they even forgot to flee.
A silent staredown—surprisingly, the one who broke the silence was Angelika. With a ferine snarl, she reverted her fangs and the light from her Eyes of Amber.
“…Very well. I spoke out of turn.”
“It is fortunate that you understand.”
Blowing away the fog, Villarje nodded.
“But do not forget. That our aims only coincide for now. All of this is in order to prepare a stage that will satisfy us, Villarje Nebulablut.”
Angelika spat, and without waiting for Villarje’s reply, leapt out of sight.
The lady in black continued onward to the mansion as if nothing had happened.
Opening the mansion’s doors, she found a maid holding a candlestick standing there. Her eyes were empty and hollow, much like a puppet.
Villarje waved her hand, and the maid handed over the candlestick and promptly departed.
The lady in black continued onward into the depths of the mansion, enshrouded in darkness, with naught but the candlestick to light her way. There were human presences within the grounds, but completely devoid of human warmth.
Villarje finally arrived before the bedroom of the mansion’s owner, and she took off her veiled hat. Wiping the tension from her face, she knocked on the bedroom door.
“—I have returned, Milord… Milord?” (1)
Hearing no response, Villarje grew suspicious, and soundlessly pushed the door open slowly. The upholstery in the dimly-lit bedroom was luxurious, yet simply arranged. Upon the bed in the middle of the room lay a lone man.
Villarje dashed forward in a hurry.
The person atop the bed looked in pain, his hand pressing on his chest, a pained groan escaping from his lips. Villarje, standing by the bed, grabbed his left hand and her Eyes of Amber started to glow.
A dusk-coloured light lit up the gloomy bedroom, and in response to said light, the amber ring on the man’s left hand started to glow faintly.
The radiance of magical excitation filled the room, and the man’s breathing eased, the illumination slowly fading away until all was as dim as before. The man on the bed, his sweat-drenched hair sticking to his gaunt visage, smiled feebly.
“…Good to see you’re back, Villarje.”
“I apologise for being late, Milord.”
Gripping the hand with the amber ring tightly, Villarje wore a look of regret.
The man shook his head with the strength he could muster.
“It is thanks to you that I’ve been able to live on for this long. It’s nothing to apologise for.”
“Well…today was still an extremely tiring day. Even when death is knocking on my doors, it seems like I still won’t be able to leave aside my position and title of ‘Margrave’.”
“I feel differently from them.”
Villarje asserted confidently.
“I will be content just by seeing you be yourself, Milord.”
“…Thank you. Still, calling me “Milord” is rather embarrassing…”
The man smiled weakly, and closed his eyes after a deep exhalation.
The man had fallen asleep. Listening to his calm breathing, Villarje got up abruptly. Without delay, she took off her black, mourning clothes-like dress.
In the darkness, her willowy figure stood out, like a flash of white.
Villarje raised her body over the bed, and nestled close to the sleeping man, as if to protect him. Placing the man’s head on her soft breasts unexpected given her slim body, and her slender fingers stroked his face lovingly.
“…I will protect you. I will surely save your life… Milord… My dear Levenkron Zest… No matter the price…”
The beautiful Nebulablut whispered. Her expression was fraught with sorrowful determination, a look her sister had never seen before.
1: She actually says “Mein Herr”, but somehow that felt really weird, so I reverted it back to the English “Milord”.