Lava Castle was the longest-standing castle in the Sperger clan’s territory. The clan lords of each generation had used it as the clan’s center of command for over a thousand years.
The current clan lord, Habsburg, had only returned to the clan upon reaching the duke rank, so he did not have a separate castle of his own. He simply used the clan’s command center as his residence.
At this point, the clan’s long flags were being removed one after another. The crown of raging flames was being rolled up in brocade. However, there was no smoke, fire, nor any signs of battle. The weapons here weren’t stained with blood.
The council soldiers were busy removing the Sperger clan’s flags and hanging up the council’s own. On either side of the castle, countless vampires had gathered on the streets to watch what was happening.
There was no lack of experts among these people, but even the counts and marquises were pale and had no intention of resisting. The entire takeover and changing of flags proceeded in silence. The invaders did nothing excessive, and the vampires showed no extreme reaction.
The battle here was clearly different from the rest of the Twilight Continent.
On the top floor of the castle, an elegant man in demonkin apparel was standing on the balcony with the best views.
There was no one on the balcony, or the top floor for that matter. This high position was for him alone.
Ripples began to form in the distant sky as a person walked out. Habsburg paused briefly in the air before taking a step forward, appearing near the balcony amidst similar ripples.
The sanguine armor on his body had been removed, replaced by a black shirt showing the council’s insignia. It wasn’t quite conspicuous, but the color around his rib area was a bit deeper since his wound hadn’t stopped bleeding. The Qin Emperor’s origin power wasn’t as scorching as the other daybreak experts’, but it was difficult to remove once it had invaded a wound.
Habsburg landed on the balcony. He glanced at the Demon King but did not perform the usual salutations. “It’s quite the honor for the Demon King himself to invade my small territory.”
Habsburg noticed several duke-grade airships in the sky above and the flames of war still burning in the neighboring territories. Comparatively, the Sperger clan’s lands were still in an orderly shape. This wasn’t strange because even dukes had no way to resist the Demon King’s suppressive might.
The Demon King turned around with a smile. “Dear Habsburg, you came rather quickly. I thought you would hesitate for a while.”
Habsburg replied indifferently, “This is my clan and these are my people. This land would’ve become their grave had I not returned, no?”
There was no real need for the council soldiers to take action. The Demon King’s domain was enough to cover the entire core territory, drowning all life in darkness. Should he wish, he could make it so that these souls would be forever lost in the darkness, unable to return to the River of Blood.
The Demon King did not comment on the matter. “I always thought the vampires believed the primogenitor bloodline to be above everything else. As a crown prince, you should be more important than all of the Sperger clan combined.”
“That’s the view of some vampires. As experts, what’s the point of living if we can’t even protect our clansmen and descendants?”
The Demon King laughed. “You should already know that the Queen of the Night cannot protect you at this moment. You can’t change anything by coming back here. Unless… there’s something in this castle that’s more important than your life?”
Facing the Demon King’s penetrating glare, Habsburg said, “Considering your great power, you should already know whatever is in this castle. No one can stop you from taking things away. I am only doing what I should, when I should, and where I should.”
The Demon King sighed. “I really don’t know whether I should praise you or say you’re dumb.”
Habsburg said, “If only Medanzo were just as dumb, the Twilight Continent wouldn’t be in such a state today.”
“He thinks he’s the smartest one. In fact, the great dark monarchs on my side all think the same.”
“I told you before, not everyone shares the same opinion.”
The Demon King nodded. “Then Dear Habsburg, do you know why I mobilized this war?”
Habsburg stood looking into the man’s eyes. He could not see the slightest ripple, almost as though the topic at hand was nothing out of the ordinary.
Now that he thought about it, this supreme had always worn such an indifferent expression. He had never paid attention to any form of offense, including those other superior experts would never tolerate. That gave people the illusion that he was calm and gentle.
No matter what his expression and demeanor were, every word he spoke was enough to shake the entire Evernight world.
All of a sudden, Habsburg felt that he had underestimated the Demon King all along. Or rather, the entire Evernight World had underestimated him.
The Queen of the Night had always reigned supreme. From her bloodline and power to her appearance, she was a being that embodied perfection. Her power and prestige exerted the same authority over all the races. Compared to her, the Demon King, the Spider Queen, and even the ancient supremes paled in comparison.
There would always be shadows under the bright moon. Everyone had forgotten how a young warrior of unremarkable birth had climbed his way to the peak of the world.
The Demon King was the most amiable among the three supremes. He was also the most active because he was the youngest, giving him the opportunity to set up such a deep-reaching plot.
Habsburg left the Twilight Continent for a mere three days. From the information he had obtained from Leonard, he could tell that the fight here would last two days at most. Routing the entire home base of the vampire race in such a short time meant that Medanzo’s betrayal wasn’t the only reason.
The new and old factions within the vampire race had been at loggerheads for thousands of years, and Medanzo had quite a few opponents. The holy war between races had lasted for ten thousand years, but this fight against the vampire race was no holy war. The werewolves and arachne weren’t dumb enough to side with the demonkin overnight.
This was a scheme, an intricate ploy that had been devised for countless years.
The demonkin gained the absolute advantage right from the outset of this war. At this point in the fight, the reason behind this war could be considered both important and negligible.
Habsburg didn’t understand why the Demon King would waste words on him.
The Demon King said, “In truth, Habsburg, you don’t need to be so hostile toward me. This war is not to exterminate the vampire race.”
Habsburg sneered. “Oh, is it not? Medanzo has defected, the Azure King has probably fallen by now. I bet the Dark Gospel’s fate isn’t any better. If my guess is right, the other sleeping primogenitors won’t be waking up, either. As for me, I don’t expect to leave this place alive now that I’ve returned. How can there be a vampire race without the primogenitor’s bloodline?”
The Demon King said patiently, “I’m not trying to destroy the primogenitor bloodlines but purifying them.”
“Purify?” Habsburg laughed coldly.
The Demon King said slowly, “Dear Habsburg, how do you see the River of Blood’s departure?”
Habsburg frowned. He knew that certain things could not be kept a secret in front of the Demon King, but hearing him mentioning this matter straight up made things uncomfortable. However, the departure of the river was a distressing matter to the upper echelons of the vampire race. Compared to that, even an all-out war was not as important.”
“Even the Queen of the Night doesn’t know why it’s moving away from us. Don’t tell me you’ve figured it out?”
“I didn’t figure it out, but I guessed it.” The Demon King looked up, as though he could see through the castle roof and gaze upon the River of Blood. “The departure of the river began when humans appeared in our world.”
Habsburg said with a frown, “That’s probably just a coincidence. Humans aren’t the only daybreak species, either.”
“Is it a coincidence, though? It was when humans appeared on your menu that the thirteenth clan’s seal disappeared, right?”
“I don’t see how the two are connected.”
The Demon King laughed. “The thirteenth race’s seal was supposed to be the one closest to the source of the river, no? It’s even purer than your black fire. The core of your black fire is still in the form of blood energy, but the thirteenth can change its form at will.”
Habsburg was stunned. All primogenitors had lost their memories regarding the thirteenth clan. He was the youngest among his peers, so he had even less knowledge regarding it. He felt a bit uneasy, not knowing what the Demon King was trying to get at by citing so many vampire secrets.
The Demon King didn’t leave him guessing for long. “Humans are natural daybreak lifeforms. Your bloodlines were tainted the moment they appeared in your diet. The thirteenth clan perished because of that.”
“That is… just a guess.”
The Demon King said, “Perhaps. This world is made of darkness, but the true Evernight slowly started disappearing when the humans appeared. At first, the human race’s existence was no different from the flora and fauna, so no one noticed anything. They didn’t connect the dots even when a new origin power appeared in the energy system.
“As time went by, daybreak origin power increased in our world, slowly tainting the darkness origins to the point where it had lost its original appearance. It was only a thousand years ago that this erosion reached a tipping point. As the first protectors of the human race, the vampires were punished during the Daybreak Rebellion. That is why the River of Blood grew distant.”
Habsburg turned serious. “You mean to say that daybreak origin power is the reason?”
“That’s my guess.”
Considering the Demon King’s identity, this guess was probably something he had a good grasp of. Habsburg calmed down after the initial phase of surprise. “No matter what, I am a vampire through and through. This fight is mine as well.”
The Demon King had no intention of attacking. “Habsburg, I’m not seeking death and destruction, only to restore the purity of old. I didn’t take action against all vampires, only the irreversibly tainted people were purged. The other continents were minimally affected.”
“I have no reason to believe you at this point in the war.”
“Actually, you’re the only one in whom I’ve confided my speculation. Do you know how I convinced Medanzo and the others?”
Habsburg said coldly, “Weren’t they bought?”
The Demon King laughed. “It wouldn’t have been so easy to buy them if they weren’t convinced.”
Habsburg gave an unexpected reply, “I don’t want to know.” Blood energy snaked out of his raised arm, forming a set of sanguine armor around him.
The Demon King sighed. He simply stood there without doing anything, but his suppressive might immediately covered the balcony and suppressed Habsburg’s armor. “Metatron, old friend, you’re still just as stubborn.”
Habsburg crashed into the stone wall of the balcony, his face shifting from pallor to an unnatural flush. His body froze upon hearing the name the Demon King had just uttered. He later stood up straight and said, “I’m not an awakener.”
The Demon King said, “Nighteye isn’t a true awakener, either. Can you guys not sense the problem with your River of Blood?”
Habsburg wasn’t expecting the Demon King to use that as an argument. He didn’t have a retort for the moment.
“Metatron, I don’t have any other friends left from my time as an adventurer.” The Demon King’s voice was gentle, almost as though he were chatting with an old friend in a park. It was as though the war didn’t exist.
The Demon King was just an ordinary warrior during his days as an adventurer. If there was anything special to be told about him, it was the fact that he was a traveling bard. On the other hand, the elder among the Sperger twins was known to be mediocre in strength but was celebrated for his talent in music. Kane and Metatron came to know each other in the saloon of a noble lady in the neutral lands.
Habsburg said after a while, “Do not call me that anymore.”
The Demon King accepted the request. “Very well, Habsburg, it seems you don’t want to talk about the past. Let’s talk about the results from the lab on the Fire Beacon Continent, isn’t it enough to prove what I say?”
Habsburg said, “No matter what you say, I have no intention of betraying the River of Blood.”
The Demon King said, “But are you willing to resign to your fate? You and your brother clearly have the same talent and the same bloodline, yet you are forced to make such a painful choice… and that’s not even the worst part. It’s not as if you can let Samael have the only candy between you two. To be crowned and obtain all of the seal’s inheritance, one of you would have to devour the other twin.”
Habsburg’s expression grew unsightly, and the combination of fatigue and emotional strain caused him to stagger.
The Demon King sighed. “When I heard you went into hibernation at two hundred years old, I thought you would never wake up again. But now you’ve awakened… that means Samael has given you his energy.”
Habsburg said, “Kane, you’re always able to see through people’s hearts, but…”
For the first time, the Demon King ignored his manners and cut Habsburg short, “Such a tragedy will not happen again if the River of Blood can recover to its ancient state.”
Habsburg could already guess how the Demon King had persuaded all the traitors. In truth, no one knew if these problems would be solved by restoring the River of Blood. But the river had been asleep for over a thousand years. The appearance of a few favorites did not kindle hope among the vampires… it filled them with despair instead.”
Habsburg said after a while, “Your words might be enough to persuade them, but you and I both know that this is just a guess. That’s not sufficient to make me a traitor.”Previous Chapter Next Chapter
TL: Legion ED: Moxie