Let’s Think of a Counter-measure
I pointed the Devil King Sword at the severed head.
There was a lot that I wanted to ask.
I especially wanted to know how he had charmed people and sent them into the palace.
But I didn’t think that he was going to tell me.
I could use illusions to fake my appearance. However, this was a Vampire Lord.
Even my magic would not be enough to fool him completely.
“You have some nerve, infiltrating the palace like that.”
“…Judging by how quickly you arrived, the attack must have failed.”
“Of course, it did. You shouldn’t have put so much faith in mere lessers.”
The 6th Officer said with a slight smile.
I would try asking him anyway.
“So, how did you do it?”
“Hmph. Do you really think you will get an answer from me?”
And the 6th Officer’s head started to turn into ash.
He had used the last remaining sparks of magic to kill himself.
He did not want to reveal anything.
His last words were said in a calm voice.
“Human. Live well and good while you can.”
“Because you won’t have long until our king kills you. You should enjoy the rest of your short life.”
He chuckled and then turned into ash completely. The only thing that remained was the medal.
The medal felt incredibly ominous. There were many curses inside of it.
Even more so than the medal from the Lord that Shia and I had killed.
Unlike the 8th Officer who had goblin servants, this one had been able to drink from many humans.
And so I broke the medal in half with the Devil King Sword. This was so that the sword could suck in the curses and purify it.
Then I picked up the magic stone and broken medal and left the room.
I took the 6th Officer’s sword with me.
Not only was it light, but it had not broken when hitting against the Devil King Sword. It was a very good weapon.
On my way back, I killed every vampire that I came across.
I would not let a single one escape.
I erased my presence and activated illusions so I would not be recognized as an enemy.
There were 15 Arch Vampires and 40 lesser vampires.
After killing them all, I went outside of the fortress. I could now see that it had been newly constructed.
That’s why it wasn’t on any map. The 6th Officer had made it recently.
But there was also a village nearby. Yet there was not a single human. Instead, I found dozens of piles of ashes.
They must have been thralls who had turned into ash after the death of the 6th Officer.
I confirmed both the name and location of the village before returning to the fortress.
Then I used the teleportation magic circle to travel back to the palace.
Goran, Eric, Shia, and Serulis were waiting for me. As was Luchila and Gerberga.
Goran ran up to me.
“Ruck, what happened?”
“I killed all of the vampires in their base.”
So saying, I dropped over 50 magic stones and the broken medal onto a desk.
“That’s our Ruck. You were always fast.”
“The Lord over there was called the 6th Officer. But I wasn’t able to question him.”
“At that rank, they are not likely to open their mouths.”
I was worried about the princesses.
“Eric, are your daughters alright?”
“Yes, I have assigned grand knights who have experience in vampire hunting to protect my wife and daughters.”
Grand knights were among the best knights.
And if they had experience hunting vampires, then there was no need to worry.
And so I gave a detailed report to Eric and the others.
The part about the new fortress and the now empty village were especially important.
“I will have Adventurers sent to this fortress and village immediately.”
“I should send some soldiers as well.”
Just then, a servant came running into the room.
Apparently, several people throughout the palace had suddenly turned into ash. 5 in all.
And about 30 people had become unconscious.
The ones who had turned into ash were likely thralls, while the ones who were unconscious were charmed.
“You can see just how far the palace has been infiltrated.”
I said, and Eric and Goran nodded.
It would be best to suspect that other Lords might have also sent their underlings into the palace.
Those who were infected could be sniffed out by the beastkin. However, there were many people in this huge palace.
I didn’t even know how long it would take.
And as for people who were charmed, even Shia and the other beastkin could not tell them apart.
The only way to know was to have an experienced Sorcerer spend an hour inspecting each person.
That would take even longer than searching for infected.
I looked at Gerberga. He was sitting in Luchila’s arms and looked restless.
“Perhaps Lord Gerberga should stay near me.”
“I understand that the palace is dangerous now, but I think that my house is still safe.”
“No, if they use the same methods that they used here, then your house will not be safe for long.”
“That may be, but…”
“I’m taking Lord Gerberga with me when I go kill the Vampire High Lord.”
The most dangerous thing was that someone might bring another teleportation magic circle into the palace.
Vampires could come here directly.
And it was difficult for anyone other than Sorcerers to find them.
There were thousands of plates in the palace. It wasn’t possible to have Sorcerers check every single one.
“It may indeed be safer to leave it to Ruck. However, I cannot allow them to take Lord Gerbera under any circumstances. And that is why I will go with you.”
“Yes. I agree with Eric. Eric and I shall go with you, Ruck. That will be the safest way.”
If it was me alone, there was always a slim chance.
However, in a party with Eric and Goran, we would be much safer. It would be easier to protect Gerberga.
“You’re right. Then it will be us three and Shia who will go and kill this Vampire High Lord.”
And so it was.