Part 4 – Chapter 2: Waiting
The number of people increased the closer they got to Crambarrow.
Tor eased the pressure on the accelerator and looked to the left and right.
While Crambarrow was on top of a gentle hill, it was surrounded by a vast, dense forest. And though there were town roads extending from it, it seemed that there were even fewer Adventurers here than he had heard.
Most of the people seemed to be merchants, carrying food products, and they were currently waiting in a line for inspection. It was so long that you would likely have to wait for hours to get in. But at least it suggested that Crambarrow was full of life…
“It seems like the inspections are becoming stricter.”
Said Mailey, as she looked ahead from over Tor’s shoulder.
It wasn’t that the inspectors were bad at their job, but that there were so many items to examine, that it took a long time.
As it was Tor’s first time, he just supposed that this was normal. But Euphie looked puzzled.
“The last time we were here, it felt like they welcomed anyone who came. Could this be because of the vampires?”
Euphie wondered, as it seemed like any container that was large enough to hide someone was lowered from the carriages or wagons and inspected.
“Documents and records from the ancient civilization’s ruins tell us that vampires carbonize when exposed to sunlight. And will turn to ash in a matter of minutes. And they cannot heal without drinking blood. Perhaps they inspect them in sunlight, just in case?”
“That is likely. If there really is a vampire lurking there, then fighting it would be too dangerous. And seventy percent of the people standing in line will likely die as well.”
“Mr. Tor. Have you fought against a vampire?”
“I haven’t. It was just something I heard in the hidden beastkin settlement.”
According to what a beastkin elder told him, the combat abilities of vampires surpassed that of most humans.
The twins were curious now, and urged Tor to continue. Euphie sat in the passenger seat, while Mailey leaned on the back of Tor’s seat.
“According to reports from the ancient civilization, vampires can create thralls by sucking their blood. And they form a strict class system. However, not a lot is known about them.”
“While the report itself is considered to be important and of great value, there are many who are doubtful that vampires really exist.”
“I’ve read that report as well. And there were some parts that fit with what I heard from the beastkin. But the part of rigid class systems is a lie. And while it is true that they can make thralls, it does not happen every time they suck blood.”
As the line had stopped moving completely, Tor slouched back into his seat.
“Vampires do not age, and have incredible healing ability. However, they are quite few in number. And they live in hiding. Apparently, they have a hidden settlement somewhere, but the beastkin do not know where it is.”
“A hidden vampire settlement. How frightening…and interesting…”
“It is not like vampires go around and drink anyone’s blood. In the first place, it doesn’t even have to be humans. They can drink from monsters. Though, apparently, magitec beasts have poison to ward them off.”
Euphie and Mailey looked surprised when they heard that monsters were prey for vampires as well.
Even during the age of the ancient civilization, vampires were seen as enemy creatures to the point that they were categorized as monsters. The reason was that not only did they need human blood to survive, but the fact that they could increase their numbers through making thralls, which might result in societal instability.
However, if they could quench their thirst with monster blood, that changed things greatly.
“In that case, they may not really be a threat to humans?”
“In terms of their survival, yes. But their combat ability is a different matter.”
The beastkin were already strong compared to humans. And the vampires surpassed even them. Humans would not be able to do anything when facing a vampire.
“Are they really that strong?”
It was hard for the twins to imagine, as they had never seen Tor struggling during a fight.
Tor thought for a moment, how to best explain it, and then he opened his mouth.
“For instance, say that you two have a mana level of 1 right now. But if you turned into a vampire, that would turn to level 20.”
“…Twenty times as much? Wouldn’t that be close to a dragon?”
“On top of that, vampires do not age. And so the amount of mana would only increase. If you lived to be a hundred, it would 40. In two hundred years, level 60. A four hundred year old vampire would probably be able to power the Crambarrow barrier for a few days.”
There was no limit to how much mana they could have, and they continued to get stronger. If they had a hundred times as much mana as the average person, even weapons with anti-magic Enchants would not be able to stand against them.
“Even I would not want to go up against a vampire. Besides, according to the beastkin, there are some vampires around now who have lived since the ancient civilization. I don’t want to think about what it would be like to go against them.”
If there really were people from that time, then they would not be someone that humans could go against.
Upon hearing this, the twins questioned Tor nervously.
“If you were to be able to fight against a vampire, how young would they have to be?”
“In a one on one fight, I suppose we might be evenly matched if it was a hundred years old. If it was two hundred years, then I would have to use my trump card, and I might still die. If it was three hundred years old, then I would say there would be no hope of winning.”
While the Adventurers Guilds had never put out requests to hunt vampires, Tor had made a report about everything he heard from the beastkin, and it was accepted for the most part.
The reason why this request had even come to Tor was because he was ranked in the hierarchy, and had proven his battle ability, on top of writing that report.
“However, I very much doubt this incident here is the work of a real vampire. Surely they would have hidden themselves better.”
After the fall of the ancient civilization, no vampires had ever been sighted. That’s how good they were at concealing themselves. They were also cautious.
And so Tor felt that this was either some kind of trick someone was playing, or a misunderstanding.
“In any case, we cannot say anything until we investigate… However, these inspections are so slow…”
He chuckled as he looked at the line ahead of them.
Mailey then took out a box of cookies from a shelf in the back.
“It was a good thing we purchased this magitec car. Just being able to sit like this is nice. And there is proper ventilation, and we can relax while eating.”
Merchants and youths, who looked like hopeful artists, watched Tor jealously, as he accepted the cookies from Mailey.
The sun was high in the sky, and it was quite hot. They were sweating and looked thirsty.
Always perceptive, the twins then began to prepare some carbonated fruit water.
“Refreshing carbonated juice! We have different types as well! Three coppers for a cup!”
Euphie started to sell them.
She really was the daughter of a great company owner.