Chapter 8.22

Vitora Rutarak Daat Waziart.

She is the current head of the Waziart household, a prominent family in the Dizzard Empire.

At her side stands Rugato, who once faced Nozomu and Irisdina.

DIzzard Empire, which has been hidden away in the extreme cold of the northern regions, has never appeared on the public stage until now.

But now, such a country's leading figure has suddenly paid a visit to Arcazam.

Having finally swallowed this fact, the dignitaries of the other countries began to clamor and make a lot of noise.

Meanwhile, Nozomu and Irisdina were speechless and stiffened.

Nozomu, in particular, was greatly surprised, as he had thought that the disturbances between Waziart and Francilt had been settled already.

"My apologies for joining the party on such short notice. Well, you don't have to worry about me. I won't mind you guys either."

Speaking towards the surrounding dignitaries with a line that could be either an acknowledgment or a provocation, Vitora proceeded to step forward.

Her gaze fell on the plain swordsman who had just been dancing.

The sound of Vitora's footsteps echoing on the marble floor was unpleasantly loud to Nozomu's ears.

"Is it you, the one who defeated Rugato? I believe it was ...... Nozomu Bountis, was it?"

"… Yes."

The moment she confirmed Nozomu's existence, Vitora's expressionless mouth lifted up in amusement.

The sharp canine teeth, characteristic of vampires, peeking out of Vitora's mouth, further aroused Nozomu's wariness.

Nozomu pulled Irisdina's hand and tried to hide her behind him.

The target during that last incident of the secret agreement was a direct descendant of the Francilt household.

Then it would not be surprising if Irisdina was the next target instead of Somia.

However, Irisdina gently held Nozomu's hand, which was trying to get her to move back, and separated herself from him, then turned to face Vitora.

"Dear head of the Waziart household, how may I help you?"

"Hm? Who are you?"

Vitora's eyes, which had once again returned to a blank expression, looked at Irisdina with a sideways glance.

"I am Irisdina Francilt, the next head of the Francilt family."

"Ah, you are of that household. I see, so it was you."

A question mark popped into Nozomu's head when Vitora said that she had just noticed and still with a blank expression on her face.

If she was dissatisfied with the settlement of past secret agreements and came here to protest, or perhaps to retaliate, it was unnatural that she did not even know Irisdina's face.

(Could it be that they are not here for Iris and the other? If so, what on earth did this head of the family come to Arcazam for?)

While thinking about the questions that came to his mind, Nozomu glanced at Rugato, who was standing behind her.

The old vampire butler bowed reverently when he noticed Nozomu's gaze.

A butler who could simultaneously control ten magics and attempted to take Somia's soul with the vast experience and unusual abilities of the long-lived species.

Even the four of them, Irisdina, Mars, and Tima, were overwhelmed by him, and Nozomu was finally able to defeat him by bringing out Tiamat's power.

Considering that the head of the Waziart family, including the old butler, visited Arcazam in person, there was no way that the Francilt family was not involved.

"What... I came to this city because I had some business to attend to, and I just dropped by because I was a little curious about this party."

On the other hand, the head of the family, who was the subject behind the incident, answered Irisdina's question in a matter-of-fact manner.

Her tone of voice was completely devoid of any emotion.

Although she said she was interested in the party, it was clear that she did not mean what she said.

"Master, the other party has come to see you."

"Oh, are they here already?"

“Vitora-dono, I apologize for keeping you waiting."

It was Victor who came to intervene.

With Mena standing behind him, he faced Vitora and bowed with a calm expression on his face.

"Don't sweat it. I just arrived myself."

Irisdina, facing her father, who was facing Vitora with a calm expression on his face, called out to him, filled with doubts.

"Father, what's going on?"

"I am the one who has invited the leading figures of the Dizzard Empire to this party. I thought it would be a good opportunity for me to have a word with them."

Irisdina's eyes were tinged with shock when she learned that it was her father who had invited Vitora to the party.

Irisdina gave a questioning look to Mena, who was standing behind Victor, but Mena's expression remained unchanged.

Irisdina turned her gaze to Victor again, but he didn't seem to be concerned about it, as if this was a predetermined course of action for him.

"Well, that's the way it is. We may get along in the future. So, why don't we get to know each other's faces first?"

Vitora, who opened her mouth in the form of taking advantage of Victor's insistence, replied to Irisdina in an indifferent manner.

"Then, let me show you around. Please come this way... Irisdina, I'm going to be a little busy. Don't worry about us, enjoy the party."

"...... No, father, I'm going with you. Nozomu, I'm sorry. The dance ends here."

"I'll go with you."

"No, I don't think we can go that far."

Irisdina softly and firmly rejected Nozomu's words, and glanced at the surrounding participants of the party.

Irisdina's look made Nozomu understand what she was trying to say.

At the moment, there were many dignitaries from various countries gathered at this guest facility.

If they were to cause a commotion like the one at the Francilte mansion before, it would surely involve the other guests present here.

Even for the Waziart family, it would be unthinkable to cause such an incident at this place.

"Nozomu, please stay here. I don't know what Father and that woman are thinking, but if Nozomu, who is getting a lot of attention right now, goes with them, there might be some people who will make even stranger assumptions."

Irisdina told him not to worry, but Nozomu could not nod his head to her words.

Vitora, who now has a cold, blank expression on her face, was clearly smiling at Nozomu earlier, a smile filled with emotion, and it stuck in his mind.

More than anything, Nozomu was more worried about the fact that Irisdina was near the head of the family that had tried to take Somia's soul away.

"But you are going to go with the people who are connected to that household ..."

"It's all right. I'm just going to follow them around a bit. Besides, ..."

Irisdina again turned her gaze to a corner of the hall.

There was Jihad walking toward them, carrying the giant sword "Jaw Drop" on his back.



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"Pardon me for interrupting."

"... Hou~, you're quite good. What's your name?"

"Jihad Raundel. I am in charge of security for this venue. Pleased to make your acquaintance, Death Demon Princess."

Jihad bowed to Vitora, who looked at him again with eyes filled with joy.

"Please allow me to join you. You are the first foreign visitor to our city. As a representative of this school, it would be impolite if I did not show you around."

"Jihad-dono, that's not going to happen. However, I appreciate your concern."

Jihad offered to accompany them as their guide, whereas Victor spoke to him in a reserved manner.

However, there was a hint of mutual understanding in their words.

Had Jihad heard from Victor in advance?

But whatever their true intentions were, it was clear that Jihad's presence here was an obvious deterrent.

Jihad, carrying his beloved Mithril armor and a giant sword, was in a condition ready for battle, despite the calmness in his voice.

“Hm, you seem to be very wary of me. Rest assured, I will not be a fool to wield my power against a mere mortal.

“…………”

On the other hand, Vitora, who was being watched closely, was saying in a lighthearted tone, "There is nothing to worry about", and was stuffing her cheeks with cheese on a nearby table.

No matter how strong Jihad might be, the other party was a being that could be compared to a natural disaster.

From the point of view of the vampire princess, even Jihad was not enough of a threat.

This situation truly represented that fact, and perhaps understanding this fact, Jihad's mouth was clenched tight as well.

"Besides, it's time for our family to start looking outside of our territory. That is why, although it is sudden, I have been invited to participate in this event through an introduction by the Francilt family."

Vitora turned her back toward Jihad, who was wary of her, and seemed to look completely unperturbed and relaxed.

Her words about being introduced by the Francilt family caused all the surrounding eyes to turn to Vitor at once.

The numerous gazes contain a mixture of surprise and suspicion, but Victor smiled and did not seem to lose his composure.

While Victor continued to show his unchanged attitude toward Vitora, Irisdina's face was distorted as if she was biting a bitter bug.

It was clear from her expression that she had heard nothing from Victor.

But she could not question her father here and now. For there were numerous dignitaries around her who were similarly intrigued by the situation.

Irisdina, for the time being, spoke to Nozomu, who was standing by her side as if to protect her.

"Nozomu, you should return to the party ..."

Nozomu is at a critical turning point right now.

Irisdina herself did not fully understand what was going on, but she felt that it was not a good idea to keep Nozomu by her side at the moment.

Fortunately, the surrounding eyes were on Vitora.

Irisdina tried to tell Nozomu to leave during this time, but .......

"Oh right, since we're here, why don't we have some of the students come along too? I'd love to talk to some of the students from this academy."

Before Irisdina could even speak to him, Vitora beat her to it.

Vitora's words carried obvious curiosity, and the eyes of the surrounding people turned to Nozomu.

Nozomu, too, met Vitola's gaze head-on, as if he was not about to back down.

"... Yeah, that's okay."

"Okay, then, let's go."

At this moment, the fact that Nozomu was even being noticed by that Death Demon Princess was made known.

It would now be impossible for Nozomu to hide.

Behind Nozomu's shadow, Irisdina bit her lip as she distorted her expression.

============================

With Victor in the lead, the group went around greeting people.

However, even after Victor's introduction, Vitora only replied with a curt "Oh," or "I see", and showed no interest in paying attention to them.

The dignitaries who were introduced to Vitora also had sweat beading on their faces and just lowered their heads.

It was not surprising.

The presence of Vitora was one thing, but the presence of Jihad, who was ready to fight, and Rugato, who was waiting in the shadows to keep him in check, made the atmosphere in this group even tenser.

In such a small space, the most powerful people on the continent were gathered and vigilant. It was like a dragon, a gryphon, and a chimera were facing each other.

If there were the slightest spark of fire, there would surely be an explosion.

In the midst of such an active volcano on the verge of erupting, Vitora was the only one who seemed to be relaxed.

"Fumu~, this sure is delicious. It's much better than the ones made in my own territory."

Vitora, who seemed to like the cheese that was served as part of the dish, was again admiring it as she picked a piece of it from the plate on the table.

She rolled it around in her mouth as if savoring each bite, and then slurped it down with a glass of wine in her hand.

Meanwhile, Nozomu was amazed at the way Vitora was tasting the cheese.

"Is it strange? For me, a vampire, to taste wine and things made by human hands?"

"N-, no, umm..."

Vitora, noticing Nozomu's gaze, turned to look at him with a smile.

Her eyes were not as emotionless as they had been earlier when she had been introduced to the dignitaries by Victor, and they were clearly tinged with interest.

"Just because we're vampires doesn't mean we drink only blood all the time. Our needs remain the same, and we do need other foods to sustain our lives."

"Is that so?"

"Yeah. Nonetheless, blood is still the most delicious thing for us. We all have different tastes, but sometimes we are so addicted to blood that some of our people even commit acts of violence."

While saying so, Vitora drank the remaining wine in her glass.

The sight of the crimson liquid, reminiscent of blood, running down her thin lips and disappearing was so glamorous that one could not help but let out a gasp.

"Blood is an inseparable part of our lives. I myself am concerned about the blood I drink."

"Hou~, I am somewhat curious to know what the princess's preferences are."

Vitora's smile deepened as she answered Jihad's question from the side.

"It's simple. It's the blood of those who seek victory without wavering. It's the blood of those who struggle toward victory, even if they lose their limbs, even if they crawl on the ground, even if all hope is taken away from them."

As she answered, Vitola's eyes, which had been fixed on Nozomu, instantly squinted.

The next moment, a gust of wind blew across Nozomu's cheeks.

"Eh……"

The pain running down his cheek made Nozomu involuntarily let out a gasp.

Wondering what was going on, Nozomu put his hand on his aching cheek, and felt a sticky, slippery sensation spreading across his palm.

At the same time, an irony, rusty scent wafted into his nose.



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When he looked down at the hand that he used to wipe his cheek, he saw that there was a sticky patch of blood on it.

When Nozomu turned his gaze back to Vitora, he saw that her pure white fingernails were also covered in Nozomu's blood.

Vitora looked at Nozomu's blood on her nails with a look of ecstasy on her face.

“So this is your blood. I see, you are young, and the color is very vivid."

Nozomu's entire body broke out in a cold sweat.

As soon as Vitora showed up at this venue, Nozomu's body had entered a state of alertness.

Even if he was unaware of it, the hellish training he received from his master and the experience he gained from overcoming numerous training courses made him able to respond to even the surprise attack of a top-class assassin on an subconscious level.

Despite this, Nozomu was unable to respond to Vitora's casual swing of her arm toward him.

Before Nozomu could react and move his body, Vitora's claw, already lightly swung, sliced through Nozomu's cheek.

This was proof that there was a disparity in ability between the two, to the extent that there was no room for personal skill to intervene.

In fact, even Jihad, who was aware of this fact, was wide-eyed in astonishment.

Irisdina, who had been standing by Nozomu's side and watching what was going on, spoke up.

“Vitora-dono, doing such a thing in this place is……”

"It is all right, isn't it? I'm not even killing him."

"He's... not your blood bag."

Though quiet, Irisdina's tone of voice was filled with clear anger.

In response to Irisdina's protest, Vitora finally turned her gaze on her.

The gaze of a powerful person, equal in power to a disaster, was directed at a single girl.

Even so, Irisdina directed her expressionless indignation at Vitora, who had wounded Nozomu and was now entranced by his blood.

"What, you're angry? Hm, I thought he was into Francilt, but was it the other way around?"

"~ !?"

Perhaps amused by Irisdina's attitude, Vitora released some inciting words.

Irisdina was about to become even more agitated by those words, but it was Victor who warned her.

"Irisdina, stand down."

"Father ..."

"Stand down."

"…… Pardon me."

After being warned by her father, Irisdina bit her lip in frustration, then bowed and stepped back.

Confirming that his daughter had stepped back, Victor once again bowed toward Vitora.

"I apologize about my daughter."

"It's fine. After all, I was the one who interrupted their precious time together. I have the capacity to let this level of rudeness slide."

Having lost interest in Irisdina, who backed down after being warned, Vitora once again looked at Nozomu's blood on her fingernails and slowly took a mouthful of it.

She spread it on her tongue as if she were tasting candy and tasted it with great care.

Eventually, with a smacking lips sound, the white porcelain finger was pulled out of her mouth.

Her expression was happy but somewhat unsatisfied.

"It's not bad, but ...... you seem a bit lost, don't you?"

“…………”

"I see, now it's not the right time ... Rugato, let's go home."

"As you wish."

Vitora turned on her heel and began to walk away, as if she had no more business here.

The dignitaries in front of her opened the way as if the tide was receding.

Vitora, who had been walking along the open path, suddenly looked back as if she had just remembered something.

"Oh right, Francilt. I will send an envoy later. We shall discuss the terms of our agreement regarding our territory."

"Yes. I look forward to it."

"Agreement?"

The word "agreement" stuck in Nozomu's mind.

Hearing this word, the dignitaries were all buzzing.

With surprised expressions on their faces, the dignitaries whispered something to their attendants, and the attendants left the venue immediately after hearing what was being said.

While Nozomu was puzzled by the scene, Vitora and Rugato had disappeared from the venue.

"Jihad-dono. Thank you."

Viktor lowered his head to Jihad.

Jihad nodded and accepted Victor's sincere gratitude, but his hardened expression remained unchanged.

“Victor-dono, as the representative of Solminati, I find this matter extremely regrettable. From now on, the Academy will have nothing to do with this matter."

"I understand. Let's go, Irisdina."

"…… Yes."

Irisdina followed Victor as he turned on his heel and walked away.

She glanced back at Nozomu with a dark expression on her face, but quickly returned her gaze and walked away.

Her expression was grave, completely different from the cheerful one she had shown earlier.

Nozomu's fist clenched tightly as he looked away from Irisdina.

At that moment, Jihad suddenly said something to Nozomu.

"Nozomu-kun. Keep your distance from her for a while."

"Eh?"

"Don't you see? Vitora's attention was clearly focused only on you. You seem to be of considerable interest to her."

“…………”

Nozomu felt it too.

It was always only Nozomu, not the Francilts or Jihad that Vitora treated with genuine interest.

The fact that she was willing to lick Nozomu's blood in such a public and visible place showed that her interest in Nozomu was extraordinary in comparison to others.

Nozomu was in a state of extreme tension, but at the same time he was perplexed by the friction between Waziart household and Francilt household, which he thought was over, and by Jihad's bitter words toward Victor.

"Let's move to a different place. Come."

Jihad, who had been observing Nozomu, urged him to follow him and left the venue.

Nozomu looked for a moment in the direction Irisdina and the others had left, but then tightened his expression and followed Jihad's lead.

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