28 wounded, 15 perished, and one heavily-damaged second-hand 2001 Toyotomi coupe.
The young woman that I was after also escaped.
I read Antonio’s post-battle report again in my inbox and review how many of our men survived. My computer’s Musify plays one of my favorite classical opera songs to help me relax as I mentally calculate the repair costs of the hideout.
Out of the 48 who heeded to my call three nights ago, 15 will never get to rise from their coffin again. Some of those vampires who crumbled into dust were rather skilled fighters, but to see them get defeated so easily by the Pastor’s new weapons and emotionless hunters means that we should really bolster our defenses.
I also need to purchase a new getaway vehicle; probably a new coupe from brands like Kuruma, Jidousha, or Mittsuboshi. I’ve always favored the quality of products from Asahi even though they can be expensive.
Remembering the details of the report, I rub the part above my eyebrows with two fingers in frustration. My headaches are becoming more frequent, but I try not to show that I am in pain, for I have a role to fulfill as an Archon.
I browse the medical report again. Vampires require special medical treatment from wounds inflicted by silver weapons, so natural regeneration won’t be possible. That is why vampires who specialize in supernatural medicine like me exist.
The screams of those being treated by Antonio can be a bother sometimes. I get up from my chair and go to the little balcony that overlooks the Big Room. Many of the vampires who got wounded have already been treated and sent home, but a handful who still remained are confined to recovery coffins, especially the one whose arm got crushed by a silver pipe wrench doused with holy water. Burned the skin off of his arm and left him screaming in pain during the battle. Pitiful.
A few of my men who were awake acknowledge my presence and raise a right hand to salute in my direction, and I raise my right hand slightly to return the gesture.
“Hold still, please!” I hear Antonio from down below treating someone who was screaming in pain. Treatment for silver-inflicted wounds can be painful, but it’s extremely effective.
My young student has been performing well. However, he doesn’t stay with us in the hideout at the moment. Antonio, or “Tonio” as I call him has only been with us for eight months, but listening to his story reminded me a lot about myself before I turned. In exchange for saving his life, he now gathers information for me everywhere, like how a general in war has a spymaster. And right now, we are at war with the Pastor’s splinter faction of guildspawn.
Thankfully, we did not earn the ire of the whole Guild. Antonio reported that the Pastor violated the tenets of his own church and has since been excommunicated, establishing his own sect on the same night we were attacked. This means that the Guild’s High Pastor is also after Westfall’s head. Thinking about the ways I can defeat Westfall is already exciting. I can probably offer Westfall’s head to the High Pastor of Newcrest as a bribe to overlook our activities.
I sit on the balcony chair and watch the last rays of sunlight escape the night sky. The Association has already been alerted of the recent attack, and preparations are underway for a Gathering with the other Houses in Newcrest. I look forward to the meetings in the Association even though the current Grand Archon can be a bit of a character. Nevertheless, the free-flowing plasma, the relaxing catacombs, and the willing human volunteers who have offered their blood to us are worth the attendance.
After fantasizing about what I want to do with the Association’s flowing plasma juice fountain, I hear a knock on the door.
It must be him.
My young Koguryeon recruit has performed well over the last week, but I didn’t want him to know what we really are. My human subordinates from times past went hysterical from shock that we were forced to silence them before they spilled secrets. Only a handful of trustworthy and sane ones remain. Park has been a bit despondent after the Guild’s attack, but I am grateful that he stayed even after seeing the violence that unfolded.
“Doctor, I’m here.” the voice from the other side speaks in Koguryeon.
“Sit in the chair.” I call out as I walk towards the door, waving my right hand like a conductor as I listen to the opera’s chorus.
I close the door and only hear the muffled voice of the soprano’s solo. The Koguryeon did what he was told and was sitting in the chair. He just looks at me without emotion, waiting for whatever I was going to say.
“First off, let me ask you something. How are you feeling?” I look at my human subordinate as he listens.
“I’m doing well, Doctor.”
“Really? Your eye bags seem to have gotten darker.”
“It’s nothing, Doctor.”
“You also seem to be sweating even with the air-conditioning on.”
“I just had a hot bath, Doctor.”
“Enough lies. Just tell me how you feel.”
The Koguryeon hesitates to speak for a moment but manages to say something.
“I… still can’t believe that all of this is real.” the Koguryeon replies with a tone of sadness. “What happened on that night, what happened with the Pastor, and with Miss Seater, this is just too much. It’s like I’m in a fantasy manhwa or something.” he describes it to something like the popular comics from his country.
“It is all right to feel what you are feeling now, Mr. Park.” I reassure the young man. “You have performed adequately for the last week you’ve been working here, and even if you let that young woman escape, you still attempted to pursue her.”
“I just wanted to do a good job, Doctor.”
I acknowledge his reply and continue speaking.
“However, the fact that you already know what I am and what we do puts you in a difficult situation. Just knowing that I am a vampire might lead you to an early death.” I change my tone to something that sounds a bit threatening without realizing it. “I was concerned with how you might have felt after that night, so I am presenting you with two options.”
The young Koguryeon just nods with a nervous look on his face.
“On one hand, you can quit your job and return to Koguryeo, complete with air fare and separation pay. You’ll never get to see vampires and hunters again. On the other hand, you can stay here and work on the assignment that I will give you if you accept. You will also receive a raise, a better bed, and a kimchi allowance.” Park is one of the few subordinates I have aside from that idiotic ghost who can investigate during the day. However, if he accepts the first choice, I will need to have someone kill him and take back the money I gave.
The Koguryeon thinks for a few minutes until I grow impatient.
“You have to make the decision now, Mr. Park.”
“I… I have decided.”
He takes a deep breath before speaking.
“Going back to Koguryeo will not give me any opportunities, Doctor. It’s a prosperous country, but life there is too hard. That’s why I came to this country to seek a better life, like the Koguryeons I’ve seen around Newcrust.” the Koguryeon mispronounces the name of our city as he spoke. “No way I’m going back to a life of rote memorization and societal pressure. I’ll stick with you, Doctor. I don’t care what you guys are; I’m just glad I’m here in this country.”
Hearing his answer made me satisfied. This is the first time a human subordinate did not freak out from knowing what we are. Looks like I won’t have to dirty my hands and pay for an overpriced airline ticket as a prop. More people should be like Mr. Park.
“Very well, Mr. Park.” I speak and pause shortly. “Aside from being my forger, I’ll be appointing you as my Day Henchman. You’ll be in charge of investigating things during the day while all of us vampires are asleep in our coffins.”
I look at the Koguryeon who seems to be more confident now and continue speaking.
“Are you willing to receive your next assignment?”
“Yes, Doctor. I’m ready.” the Koguryeon replies with enthusiasm as I smile. “What am I tasked to do?”
“A simple task, since you were successful with the distraction ploy that you suggested before.” I turn about and look at the beat-up punching bag that I hit when I get too angry. Then I look back at Mr. Park.
“Find and kidnap Ms. Vivas before Sunday. Get Preston to help you.”
“Yes, Doctor. Will get Presto for mission.” The Koguryeon replies in Simlish, attempting to construct a proper sentence. His Simlish has shown slight improvement over the week.
I enter my room and see that Musify was now playing one of those infernal ads that play between songs. I try to ignore the tempting “3-Month Premium Service” being offered as I walk to one corner of the room, where the catalyst lies. The item that I am referring to is no ordinary necklace. I have kept it here all this time after a museum heist in Fartherburg. As I look at the necklace, a modern harpsichord mix plays on the computer.
“Piece by piece.” I say to myself as I hear the Koguryeon go down the stairs.
“And then, I shall regain everything.”