Chapter 9: These Orphans Need a Director
In the heart of the Frechenkaya Central Garden, a memorial stands adorned with statues commissioned by King Ivan the Great himself.
Among these sculptures are the “Marching Hero,” the “Goddess of Victory,” and the “Unnamed Hero.”
After the demise of the Demon King and the end of the war, a statue in the Frechenkaya Central Garden vanished one day.
The “Unnamed Hero” statue disappeared, and reports surfaced that a small plaque had been discovered in its place.
[Mourning for them is my right. – Enrique.]
Prince Alexander erupted in anger, deeming it a royal insult, while Princess Elizaveta acknowledged Enrique’s rights and refrained from reclaiming the statue.
The truth, undoubtedly, remains shrouded in mystery.
There was no reason to provoke a legendary vampire and member of the Hero Party who, in one night, removed a statue from a garden in the heart of the capital, not far from the royal palace.
Elizaveta exercised caution—she didn’t wish to offend Enrique while upholding the dignity of the royal family.
“There was a saying.”
Ivan stood at a corner of the underground, contemplating the “Unnamed Hero” statue.
After merely three hours of investigation, based on information about Enrique’s ‘dungeon’ situated in the southern Frechenkaya underground:
“Even when your names are forgotten, your glory shall endure.”
“In place of those absent here, for all absent here.”
“Elizaveta Kirillovna Krasilov.”
Ivan respectfully placed his hat over his chest, paying a brief tribute.
When he first learned of the statue’s installation, he hadn’t even considered approaching it, and by the time he stumbled upon the Central Garden, Enrique had already taken the statue.
Upon concluding his tribute, a voice mixed with laughter resonated in the underground.
“Do not mourn those who departed first.” (Enrique)
“I stand alongside them.” (Ivan)
“You still remember. Good, welcome, ‘little’ Ivan.” (Enrique)
Suddenly, the ground beneath the statue twisted, metallic sounds echoed, and a passage emerged as the rock split.
The once damp and repulsive underground morphed into a splendidly decorated antechamber corridor.
Walking through the opulent corridor adorned with silk-covered walls, Ivan composed his thoughts.
Like most members of the hero party, Grandmaster Enrique was unconventional.
Certainly, at that moment, Enrique contemplated Ivan, sharing similar sentiments.
Like most members of the Cleansup Unit, ‘little’ Ivan was mad.
“It’s been seven years since we’ve seen each other face to face. How have you been, apprentice?”
Ivan sat in the antechamber, sipping his coffee slowly, rolling it around his mouth for a moment — a kind of protocol, a means of preventing assassination, much like most protocols.
“It seems it’s not poisoned.” Ivan lightly nodded and continued to savor the coffee.
“Ah, they say modern poisons can’t be detected by taste.”
“Cough…” He spat it back into the cup and placed it on the table.
“Just kidding, just kidding! Should I get a new one?”
“No need. I didn’t come here for coffee.”
“Nonetheless, you’re so rigid. You’re still a young lad.”
Enrique reclined on a lavish sofa, smiling with her eyes.
Between the slit of the silk dress, a glimpse of white legs emerged, but it wasn’t captivating enough for Ivan’s attention. The monster before him was well over a hundred years old.
How many elixirs and blood had she consumed?
Ivan couldn’t help but imagine a scenario where the vampire stared at him, tongue lolling.
This was, after all, the nest of the vampires.
The Elder Vampire, Shadowblade, Fangs of Darkness. And ‘traitor’ Enrique.
A heroine who, a century ago, betrayed the Elder Vampire who had bitten her, sucking his blood and ending the “vampire rampage” that had scattered across Frechenkaya.
For a century after, this woman took numerous lives under the guise of ‘assassination orders.’ If the Demon King hadn’t appeared, wouldn’t the heroes have dealt with her instead?
Ivan delicately caressed the axe handle under the table as he pondered.
“Well, you arrived faster than expected. Actually, seeing you active again makes me happy. Well, being ‘active’ isn’t a compliment between us, is it?”
“Ah, cut to the chase! That’s how you always are!”
Enrique chuckled and adjusted her dress, revealing an alluring figure. (Of course, Ivan is not fazed by someone 70 years older than him. His coverage is up to 10 years up and 10 years down.)
“So how is it, do you think I bit her?”
“No, you didn’t. If that were the case, you should have attacked me instead of inviting me.”
Ivan gazed at her with a cold stare as he uttered those words.
“Wasn’t the most important principle you taught me about not seeking revenge?”
“Hmph, does that slimy little kid even fall within your ‘revenge’ scope too?”
“I’ve saved her.”
Ivan remembered the day he took in Priscilla. The child was an orphan scorned even among the refugees in front of the army.
Being parentless at a young age is dreadful. It means only oneself can provide protection. Understanding this, the child was always assertive.
In a world where too many were already despondent to help a sorrowful and gloomy child, one must have the capacity to sympathize with oneself to sympathize with others. The United Kingdom lacked that capacity at the time.
Thus, Ivan remembers Priscilla and a few other children. He decided to take them in and retire to establish an orphanage; those children were no less than his own.
Naturally, when one’s child is hurt, seeking revenge becomes imperative.
“Don’t hold too much animosity. It makes you look amateurish.”
Enrique smiled and set down the teacup.
The tea, still full and untouched, lightly splashed on the table.
“Didn’t I teach you? Animosity is only for the weak. Engaging in revenge and self-defense, it’s also the pettiness of the weak.”
“She’s alive. Unharmed. Well-fed, nicely dressed. Now it’s your turn to answer.”
Enrique slowly placed her white fingers on the table.
“What are you up to?”
“What are you scheming at your ‘orphanage’ right now?”
Enrique was earnest. She had passed it off jokingly at the idea of taking in an orphan, saying it was because he was an orphan himself. It was pitiful. If he had come to her, she had enough thought to take him in as family, a cute pupil.
Two years had passed that way. And suddenly, this ‘orphanage-raised orphan’ knew astonishingly practiced ambush techniques.
Honestly, it felt like a stab in the back. Complaining about leaked skills? Well, it’s not something impressive. Since it’s not a one-on-one competition, it’s something teachable.
But, what’s the meaning of dispatching an agent as if to engage in a business battle in the mentor’s same area?
She felt aggrieved. He hadn’t visited her since he’d gotten out of the military and had his identity expunged. He’d never even asked her out for a drink, even though he was only a nose away from her!
“I’m protesting, sending an agent to do business in our front yard? This is a declaration of war?”
The truth is, she politely invited that arrogant brat, not even intending to kill him, showing intentions like, [Let’s not do that, we have a lot of memories together, do we need to fight?]
However, the response from this stone-faced guy is like, [I’ll kill you if you touch me.]
It really hurts her feelings.
And what’s with the beard? It’s driving me crazy. Why are you doing something that was popular a century ago? You didn’t tell me that was a disguise, did you? I didn’t teach you that.
With countless thoughts passing through her mind, Enrique, still a legendary vampire who lived for a century and a great member of the hero party, looked at Ivan with a ‘cheeky smile.’
‘What does she mean? What the heck is she talking about?’
Ivan couldn’t grasp the situation.
Elizaveta uses him because he’s undercover. His past is cleanly laundered, his name is common enough that he can’t be misunderstood when he uses it, and his appearance has changed a lot (by his standards).
Moreover, the ‘Lieutenant Colonel Ivan Petrovich’ of the past has been officially declared dead and laid to rest in the national cemetery.
So, according to Elizaveta, his identity and mission are classified.
Is it okay to tell Enrique this?
But wait, wasn’t there some kind of connection between Enrique and Elizaveta?
Enrique founded the Cleansup Unit, and Elizaveta was its commander, right?
Both of them struggled with insufficient information but smiled calmly, not losing their trained agent’s patience and caution.
‘What’s this lunatic thinking, seriously.’
‘What’s this crazy person thinking?’
Thinking like that.
‘Is this betrayal, how could she do this to me?’
‘Is this betrayal? Did this woman switch sides from Elizaveta to Alexander?’
Two lunatics were once again fostering strong bonds of unity with one mind and one heart today
It was a mid-January winter night.