Sorry for taking a long time finishing this! One by one the mysteries/plot holes are resolved, but more questions arise in exchange.
The day of the second evening gathering.
On this day as well, every people involved were in attendance.
When everyone had arrived and taken their seats, Actorius-sensei placed an hourglass on the central table.
“I brought an hourglass that allows the sand to fall completely in an hour.”
“Once sands have fallen completely, no matter how complicated the discussion is, it will end there. That will be the rule starting tonight.”
After Eduard-oniisama explained the purpose of the hourglass, he turned it upside down.
The sand began to fall bit by bit.
“Well, I already talked about it last night, but let us share tonight’s policy.”
On the blackboard that Eduard-oniisama had brought in, he wrote the words 「Golden Wolf, vampire, and Mad King」.
“There are roughly three things involved in the crisis we are currently facing. That much we can assume, right? Right now, we have the help of a phantom beast that can be a trump card against the monstro born from the Mad King—“
My brother looked around as if to check on everyone.
“—The enemies are extremely cunning. No matter how small it is, they will jump at the opportunity and attack us. So no matter how trivial it may be, let us scrutinize every bit of information we have right now.”
That’s why tonight we have to reconfirm everything we talked about last night.
“Now then, go ahead and ask questions! And the person who may have the answer, please feel free to answer.”
My brother called out with a very bright tone of voice.
There are many terrible topics in agenda, so that may be his way of lifting up our spirits.
“Ahem. Alright, may I start first?”
“Yes, go ahead.”
Harlan raised his hand and my brother urged him to speak.
Due to the breadth of information they have, these two are likely to be the facilitators.
“Have you already investigated the origin of the problematic necklace, stirrup, and chalice?”
“Yes, but each of the investigations hit a dead end, is that alright with you?”
“That is fine, I am used to that kind of thing.”
Finding information on the vampires is no different from trying to grab a cloud.
Because the key people are easily erased from existence.
“First of all, the necklace. The components used to craft the chain and the decorations were imbued with magic. It also contained some camouflage magic, making it difficult to tell at a glance whether it was the stone or the necklace that was the source of the curse.”
So that magic was on the surrounding precious metal parts instead of the stone pendant?
“It’s a blatant measure against mages. The aim must have been to sow discord between me and Erica, and by extension, a discord between Hafan and Aurelia. I’m sure they would have celebrated if someone died.”
Klaus clicked his tongue.
Even though it couldn’t be helped as he was a mere ten-year-old at that time, it must still be humiliating to know that he walked straight into the vampires’ trap.
It may have been enough for them to just create conflict between me and Klaus.
If any of us were dead, it would have been a surprise victory for them.
“By the way, you were absent due to some urgent business on the night of the incident in the Ruins of Visitors, right, Sir Eduard? Can I ask you about that?”
“That day… I was urgently summoned to the academy in response to an invasion by the underlings in the basement of Lindis… specifically, the Corpse City.”
“That must have been planned. The invasion in the Corpse City that seemed like an emergency at first glance must have served as a diversion.”
Eduard-oniisama nodded in agreement.
So there was a single mastermind behind those two incidents, huh.
What’s more, it was a high-ranked vampire capable of disposing underlings at will.
“The caster of the curse was Cain Grendel.”
“The Mad King himself?”
Brad’s eyebrows furrowed.
“The camouflage magic was probably cast by an underling. It was too crude for a creation of the Mad King who was a genius in sorcery… well, it will probably be quicker if you take a look at the real thing.”
As he said that, my brother put the necklace, which had its stone pendant removed, on the table.
Everyone’s eyes were focused on the necklace.
Before long, some of them rose to their feet and tried to reach out.
Ah, don’t tell me…!?
“Ed… you haven’t neutralized the curse…!?”
“Yeah, I left it as it is, naturally. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to check the composition of the curse.”
“I know what you mean, but don’t take out such a dangerous item.”
After being admonished by Brad, my brother hurriedly put away the necklace.
This kind of curse doesn’t affect us Aurelians, so I guess my brother got careless.
“Hmm, it can’t be helped. Instead, please read these materials, the results of the investigation are surmised here.”
Without faltering, my brother took out the documents in a hurry.
It seems that he was investigating not only data on the curse but also about the distribution channels and processors of the necklace.
Harlan flipped through the documents and confirmed the contents.
“The processing was done by a craftsman who owns a famous jeweler in the territory of Aurelia. What were the subsequent movements of this craftsman?”
“Seven days after delivering the necklace, he went missing. It seems that he disappeared without any warning the moment his family took their eyes off him.”
This pattern, he was probably already dead by then.
“The craftsman who created the chalice had disappeared in a similar fashion. He was a skilled craftsman who resided in Lindis for 40 years. This ended up as a cold case, partly because 15 years have already passed since then.”
“I see… but for an incident as old as 15 years, isn’t the testimony of the people involved too accurate?”
While reading the materials he received from my brother, Harlan asked.
“It appears that he disappeared on the day of his youngest daughter’s wedding … that’s why it left quite a deep impression.”
My brother replied, his eyes slightly cast down.
Certainly, that must have been the worst day possible for such an incident, a day they would never forget no matter how many years pass.
I know the vampires did that to silence him, but that does not change the sheer cruelty of it.
“Hmm … then, what about the stirrup? Did you find out anything about that?”
Harlan changed the topic, probably due to the heaviness of the current one.
My brother took out the problematic stirrup along with a glass bottle containing a small amount of soil and documents from his bag.
“As you might have guessed when it was first discovered, this was robbed from a tomb dating back to Casketia era in Hafan’s territory.”
“It is one of the tombs that have been sealed off by Hafan, which was also mentioned in the tomb vandalism case seven years ago. There is also the result of appraisal that says it was made more than 800 years ago by sorcery prevalent in Karkinos.”
“The composition of the soil on it also matches that of the tomb. All the magic tools excavated at that time have been tracked down and recovered.”
Klaus, who accompanied my brother on the investigation at the time, supplemented, and my brother nodded.
Klaus briefly explained the key points about the magic tools that were reclaimed.
The number of items that were robbed from the tomb reached dozens in total.
There was no time to read everything, so it was decided to keep the investigation materials on the magic tools in this reference room.
Harlan, who was scanning the material, frowned.
“I see. You should have asked us to track the excavated magic tools. There are so many that it spread all over the continent.”
“We weren’t that useless back then that we had to ask others for help in cleaning up our own messes.”
“No, no. It would have been much better than concealing it. If the opponent is Casketia, the North will freely cooperate as much as you want, Klaus-sama.”
Harlan smiled at Klaus.
“The stirrup’s curse hasn’t been neutralized, but it will be alright as long as you don’t touch it. If you touch it, the curse will envelop your body and you will feel like you’ve chugged down a bottle of wine.”
My brother added a quick supplementary information about the curse of Intoxication cast on the stirrup.
So it also works against humans, huh.
“Eh, Sir Eduard, so it is also effective against humans? I mean, why do you even know such details…”
“Wait, Ed. Don’t tell me, you tested this on yourself?”
When Harlan trailed off, Brad hounded my brother in his place.
Eeh, my brother tested it out on himself!?
“Yeah, that was quite an interesting experience.”
“Don’t you have any sense of self-preservation?! You should value yourself more…!”
“No, no, it’s not a lethal curse, so it’s fine. More importantly, I am perfectly fine, see?”
My brother immediately argued against Brad.
I wonder if these two people have been like this since they were students…
Chloe, who was next to me, muttered under her breath.
“Erica-san’s older brother… he is a really weird person, isn’t he?”
“Chloe-chan, you should keep that kind of thing to yourself!”
Beatrice reprimanded Chloe.
Thank you for your consideration, Beatrice.
Aurelia has many eccentric people, that much is true, but for some reason, my brother…
He is at a level that even my relatives can’t match…
I nodded silently.
Eduard-oniisama cleared his throat and returned to the main subject.
“It wasn’t just this stirrup incident that was concerning at that time, there were also incidents in various places caused by harmful ancient sorcery.”
“Were those incidents also meant to be a diversion while the real target was His Highness Auguste?”
“No. That’s unlikely to be the case. It was a complete coincidence that His Highness rode on the dragon with this cursed stirrup attached.”
That had to be a coincidence.
Only I, who had knowledge of the otome game at that time, could have predicted that Auguste could ride.
Even the person himself seems to have tried it with the expectation that he would fail.
“Then, I wonder what was the purpose of that… wait, I think I know.”
Harlan’s expression paled to an alarmed one.
“There is no purpose, the only goal is to create misery and discord. The more anxious people’s minds and circumstances are, the easier it is for vampires to operate behind the scenes.”
“Yes. In fact, even with this level of magic tool, we have been bested over and over again.”
My brother closed his eyes and nodded.
“Losing someone important in an unavoidable accident, and being targeted during that gap … There are victims like that.”
“You mean … Louis?”
Auguste asked my brother.
Although he is a royalty, he affiliated himself with an enemy country in an attempt to entrap Auguste.
“Yes, that is correct, Your Highness. He also lost his parents in an unfortunate accident. And so, someone gave him distorted information and a curse.”
My brother talked about Louis Ode-Ignitia.
Louis was made to believe that he was supposed to be the successor to the First Princess, or rather, the First Prince of the previous generation.
In the end, it led him to betraying his own country and harbor violent sentiments against it.
That person, so he got caught in such a complicated trap?
I just thought he was simply a malicious person.
“Why didn’t anyone tell me that … no, I guess it’s because you still didn’t know for sure. That’s the kind of person you are, Sir Eduard.”
“Yes, let me tell you at least what I know so far.”
In response to Auguste’s words, my brother nodded and answered about the details.
After the incident, several disappearances were confirmed among Louis’ aides, and it is possible that one of them was a vampire.
However, tracking the missing people on Karkinos was extremely difficult, and even my brother could not identify them.
In the end, the exact circumstances that led to Louis’ madness remained unknown.
In recent years, Louis’ madness has receded a bit, and it seems that his stepbrother Charles is the only one smiling with hope.
Charles is patiently waiting for Louis’ reason and humanity to recover.
…They are kind of pitiful.
Louis and his stepbrother Charles.
However, I was surprised to hear about the incidents I had no knowledge of.
This question-and-answer session was certainly not in vain.
“I would also like to explain the case Klaus and I looked into and what we found. This is likely to be related to the Nibelheim’s fraud case—“
My brother read the report of 「The Man Who Disappeared」.
Harold began to tremble in his chair as the part that can qualify for a ghost story drew near.
“He, he disappeared … it’s a g-ghost…”
“Oh my, are you scared? It’s okay, Harold-kun.”
My brother smiled gently when he saw Harold, who was obviously frightened.
“B-because … h-how is that even possible!?”
“The answer is simple. It’s not scary at all, so you can relax. Yes, the man was a vampire! Without realizing that he was already a vampire!”
“H-hi-hieee, isn’t that even more scary~?! Unknowingly becoming a vampire is the worst~!!”
Well, even if a vampire appears instead of a ghost, it’s still scary.
If anything, vampires are more aggressive and dangerous, and the craziness of the situation does not change.
“Besides, that happened during my household’s fraud case, maybe my family and I were also to be erased…”
Harold bit his lips tightly.
His face was pale as tears welled up at the corner of his eyes.
“It’s okay. I was expecting something to happen around Earl Nibelheim. In the worst case scenario, I was prepared to hide you within my military order. I was indebted to you guys after all.”
Harlan replied with ease.
I didn’t even know that he was trying to protect Harold that way.
Rather, I had assumed that he would even raise loans during the crisis of Nibelheim.
If I knew this, I wouldn’t have been so scared at that time, but it wasn’t possible.
Certainly, in-game Harold was a member of the Central Dormitory, just like Chloe.
That was probably the result of Harold being hidden by Harlan after his downfall and being raised like Chloe.
After that, my brother gave an overview of 42 vampire-related incidents.
About four of them were found to have ancient vampires pulling the strings behind the scenes.
The kidnapping of young girls by Lièvre was one of them.
“I am amazed, Sir Eduard. You investigated every case.”
“I was merely investigating until I was satisfied, so it just happened naturally, Sir Harlan.”
“By looking at it from this side, I can finally understand why you always appear on this line of investigation.”
“Hahaha. So, did you think I was a vampire pretending to be investigating and actually obliterating the evidence?”
When my brother laughed and asked, Harlan smiled and affirmed it silently.
These two people have a very complicated relationship, don’t they?
Well, it’s not really a laughing matter.
In fact, in the kidnapping case, my brother was misunderstood as the criminal and was tortured.
My brother pasted the materials of all the cases on the mobile blackboard.
He put a map in the center of the blackboard and wrote down the locations in detail.
“This will make it easier to understand.”
My brother stuck a pin at the locations related to the vampire cases and connected them with a red string.
Ah, this is a thing I often saw in overseas dramas.
Fifty percent of the cases investigated by my brother spread out between Lindis and Hafan.
Forty percent were in Aurelia and Ignitia, and the remaining ten percent were from the remote islands and the southern continent.
“I see. After all…”
Harlan muttered as if he was convinced of something.
He walked up to the map on the blackboard and picked up a pen.
“I used the Military Order of Útför to keep an eye on the northern part for many years. But from the start, I was getting this feeling that there were many older bloodsuckers the closer it gets to the borders of Hafan and Ignitia.”
“Hmph. From our point of view, we get the impression that there are many of them near Lucanrant’s border.”
Klaus sullenly interjected.
“That’s right. Therefore, this is what is actually happening.”
Harlan also stuck some pins and connected them all.
Eduard-oniisama and Harlan.
With the investigation results from the two combined, a distorted siege surrounding Lindis emerged.
Eristol: Hello everyone, due to one of the reader’s suggestions, I have decided to add a map I made of Ichthyes for the ease of understanding. As you can see below, Lindis is located at the center of the continent, bordering all four countries to the north, south, east and west. So as Harlan and Klaus said, most of the ancient vampire cases were more common around the border between Hafan and Lucanrant, very close to Lindis, there are also cases near the borders of Aurelia and Ignitia, in other words Lindis is surrounded from all sides.