h. 103: Talking While Preparing
“Why did the Ancient Kingdom perish?”
“I don’t know. It was gone before I knew it. Our species don’t interact with humans at all, after all. We were considered monsters, so.”
It would take them two days to reach their destination, which meant that they needed to camp for a night.
Of course, Loren and Lapis was prepared for it, so when the sun set and the sky started turning red, they stopped travelling and started setting up camp.
Loren, who had literally been swung round and round by Dia and lost consciousness, had woken up on Lapis’ back, and was currently untying their stuff from the donkey, and was starting to pitch the tent.
Lapis, who dug a small hole and put dried gra.s.s and wood and started a fire, set up a stand using metal bars, put a pot on top of the fire, cut salted meat and vegetables and threw them in there, and let it simmer as she adjust the fire, was in the middle of asking question after question to Dia, who was sitting near the fire.
“Why are Elders treated as vampires? From what I’ve heard, cla.s.sifying them as undead itself sounds quite strange.”
“You would have to ask whoever made the cla.s.sification, but it’s most likely because of our inescapable characteristic, our blood impulse.”
Beings called Elders weren’t affected by the weaknesses of normal vampires, which set them apart from them.
So, Lapis couldn’t understand why they would be cla.s.sified as vampires.
After all, they couldn’t be stopped by running water, killed by silver, and they walked under the sun like it was nothing.
But Dia concluded that it was because of their blood impulses.
“Other than that, we are also relatively weak to Divine Arts, but the biggest reason is our blood impulse. Vampires suck blood, after all.”
Dia herself didn’t know the reason why either.
But even Elders, who didn’t need any food, couldn’t escape from the impulse of wanting to suck blood.
“We can’t do anything about it. We can’t subst.i.tute it with animal blood, and blood from cultivated humans don’t last long. Once the thirst comes, even the will of an Elder can’t resist it.”
“So that means you’ve done it quite a few times.”
Although Lapis asked it easily, her words had a heavy meaning to them.
Having blood sucked by a vampire meant that the person would either turn into a low rank undead or become a normal vampire, and either way, it would mean death for that individual.
“Well, yes. For us, one person a year is enough, so we won’t make much of a mess as other vampires.”
“That would still be five hundred people. That’s quite the number.”
According to Dia, she was over five hundred years old.
Since Dia wasn’t a vampire that was born after having her blood sucked, that meant that there was a time when she was young, so although the number of people may not equal her age, it meant that it was at least that many people.
“I’ll leave it to you to think if five hundred people in five hundred years is many or few.”
The number five hundred made it seem like a lot, but when seen as over the course of five hundred years, it seemed small.
When considering the number of lives lost in battle over five hundred years, its number would be hundreds of times more, so compared to that, it seemed like a very small number.
“If you think about the race as a whole, wouldn’t it be quite a bit?”
As Loren said as he hammered in the nail to keep the ropes down, Lapis came back to her senses.
If it were Dia alone, it would be five hundred people during five hundred years, but with number of all the Elders combined, the number would be many times higher.
“There’s a bit more than a dozen of us.”
Dia said it like it was nothing, but it meant that there were over a dozen victims each year.
It was way smaller compared to deaths in battle.
But Lapis thought that if there were more than a dozen people going missing everywhere, people would find out about it and would become a problem.
“We have villages of humans that supply us blood, after all.”
“You mean you are keeping humans?”
It was an unsettling thought.
Noticing that Lapis’ tone got harder, Dia shook her head.
“Regardless of how it looks, we don’t have such intentions. As lords of the land, we require one person to be given to us each year, and in return we give the villages many blessings. It’s a deal.”
“So, you’re keeping them, right?”
“I told you, regardless of how it looks. I believe it’s better than kidnapping people and killing them. The villages usually select the oldest person.”
“I’ve never heard of such village.”
If there were any sort of interactions with other people, through supplies or information, there was no way such villages could be hidden from the age of the G.o.ds.
The information would slip out from somewhere, and nations would gather their forces to put an end to it.
“We hide them, we protect them, and we isolate them.”
Dia explained that by making sure the village only interacted within itself and by making it so that outsiders could never find it, and on top of that, making sure that its existence was kept secret, the Elders had maintained these villages that supplied blood for many years.
“Was it okay for us to hear that? Don’t try to kill us later or something like that.”
Loren was worried since Dia was telling them things that had been kept secret until now.
Telling them about things they shouldn’t know could mean that she wasn’t going to let them go alive, but Dia denied such thoughts in a light tone.
“It’s fine. Even if you tell others about this, they would just laugh it off.”
“The fact that we heard it from an Elder herself would erase the credibility.”
Adventurers usually dealt with normal vampires.
It wasn’t something a copper rank adventurer could handle, and even for iron ranks, they would have to expect large casualties.
Trues were beings that heroes, whole nations, or large organizations would have to move to try to subdue.
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Either of them still seemed realistic.
From the flow of the conversation, Lapis guessed that it was the land that she was given to use as a base, but Dia shrugged.
“I was just told by my guardian to go there, so I don’t know if that is the land that will be given to me. It might be, or it might be where there is information of a different land.”
“So, it’s like a test to see if you’re ready to be on your own?”
“You could say that.”
“Is it alright to ask for help?”
From what Loren had heard, it was a test to see if a young Elder could be on her own, so he wondered if it was okay to ask others for a.s.sistance.
Dia nodded at his question.
“Using others to reach your goal is a type of skill, after all.”
“If it’s just reaching where your guardian told you to go, it doesn’t seem that dangerous.”
“If so, I wouldn’t be asking for help.”
At Lapis’ optimistic guess, Dia looked up at the sky and sighed.
“First, the guardian will ready some obstacles. On top of that, there should be some interference from other Elders, so it won’t be that easy.”
“Why would other Elders interfere?”
Lapis c.o.c.ked her head slightly in wonder.
Loren snorted quietly, as if he had heard something boring, and told her as he handed the bowl back.
“There are factions among Elders as well, I bet.”
“It’s as you say. Two beings with will start an argument, while three will start a power struggle, and that goes for Elders as well.”
“It seems like we’re in the middle of something very troublesome, don’t you think? Should we have gotten a better down payment?”
Being able to be on her own meant that she was being recognized as an adult, a proper Elder.
While under someone else’s protection, she wouldn’t have a say in matters, and the others wouldn’t count her when making decisions and such, but once she became an adult, she would be included in all those things.
Loren and Lapis didn’t know what kind of factions there were among slightly over a dozen Elders, but for this case, it meant that Dia would join the faction that her guardian was in, and it would be a nuisance to the other Elders, therefore they would try to interfere.
“If you manage to become an adult, would you join your guardian?”
“Most likely. I owe it to my guardian for protecting me until now, as well as sharing land and people with me. I won’t turn as soon as I become an adult.”
Dia smiled after saying that, and then said to Loren and Lapis, whose expressions were clouded with the thoughts of the troubles yet to come.
“So that is why I ask you two to help me become an adult. Don’t make such faces. If I succeed, I’ll think of extra payment, and on the way there, I’ll answer as many questions that my knowledge allows me to.”
“Then I guess we should make the most out of it.”
Scooping the finished stew into a bowl, Lapis immediately started asking Dia questions, and Loren, who wasn’t that interested, received the bowl from Lapis and started eating, while telling himself that since it was a job that he had accepted, he must see it to the end.
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