Taking a corner, I had rushed into an abandoned factory.
It had been neglected for many years, the equipment had already been removed, and the interior rattled. The windows were nearly fractured, and all four sides of the building were made of dreary concrete...I had once peeked at Ryuuga and the others during a battle here.
"*huff*...With this, we should have some additional time now."
I lower Elmira onto the ground and sit in front of her. I had been sprinting for a little under five minutes, so my breathing pace didn't really increase.
Shidora will probably arrive here soon. That's my hypothesis. Or rather, I hadn't planned to completely throw him off from the beginning.
While exhausted on the floor, Elmira faintly called out to me.
Her anemia seems to be getting much better, but her complexion still looks just as bad. The vigor that's normally in her eyes and voice is gone.
"What is it, Elmira?"
"Who in the world...are you?"
"What do you mean?"
"How are you able to have such...superhuman movements?"
"I think those were just normal."
"Go review the definition of normal."
Elmira had jumped at me, but soon fell over in exhaustion. The uniform of her skirt was flipped up, and her white thighs were visible.
"It's just my reflexes that are good. Anyways, let's get started."
"O, on what?"
I approached Elmira, and helped her sit up straight.
While supporting her on one arm, I used the hand on my other arm to remove the buttons on my collared shirt, starting from the top button.
"W, w, what are you planning to start? Stop it, not at a time like this!"
Elmira started losing her composure.
I didn't know she had this kind of side to her. Doesn't it make for quite the nice gap moe?
"I've never been seen like this! I've never even kissed before──"
"Absorb it, Elmira."
While she was in a panic, I pointed at the nape of my neck while speaking to her.
Elmira stared in confusion while saying "Huh?" Then, once she inferred my aim, she soon stopped her resistance.
"You mean...you want me to absorb your blood?"
"Yeah. It'll probably be pretty unsavory compared to Ryuuga's, but please bear with it just for today."
We don't have the leisure to dawdle about. If I supply Elmira with blood, she'll be able to fight.
"B, but, I'm not supposed to suck blood from people other than Ryuuga."
"This is an emergency right now. If Ryuuga gets angry from this, I'll lecture him."
"This is not just to help you, but to also save my own hide. Right now, there's no one other than you that can take down that apostle. You don't want the both of us to die, do you?"
After a few seconds of hesitation, Elmira nodded.
Her slender arms clung around my neck. Then, I heard her whisper something into my ear.
"In that case──thank you for the meal."
Shortly after, I felt a stinging pain course through my neck.
However, the pain was only at first. Then followed a ticklish sensation from her tongue. The blistering feeling on the wound gradually began to diminish.
So this is what a vampire's blood-sucking is like...despite the current situation, it's a bit of a strange feeling.
In an open room with a dim light, a man and woman were clinging to each other.
However, some dubious sounds of slurping and sucking could also be heard.
Then, for some reason, Elmira's absorption became intense. Gradually, my vision started flickering. These are the symptoms of anemia.
"Oh, it's tasty. Perhaps more than Ryuuga's..."
"U, um, Elmira...isn't that enough already?"
"This isn't sufficient."
Elmira sunk her teeth into the nape of my neck once more.
Now, the modest sucking sounds had changed into hearty gulping noises.
"Hey! That's enough! My consciousness is fading!"
"You still seem lively though. Ah, this mild texture, this refreshing feeling...it's light with a clean finish. How raw and first-rate!"
"This isn't beer!"
"Do you have any snacks!"
"This isn't beer!"
In contrast to me getting dizzy, Elmira was rapidly becoming energetic.
Not good. At this rate, I won't die from Shidora, but from Elmira! I didn't think she'd be this much of a heavy drinker...err, heavy blood-sucker.
──At that moment,
Ten meters ahead of us, a concrete wall suddenly burst with an explosion.
With a thunderous roar, the interior of the factory trembled. Then, emerging from the gaping-wide opening was...as expected, the wild boar peculiarity.
"So after our game of tag was a game of hide-and-seek, it seems. Though, that ends here."
With a villainous smile, Shidora quickly approached.
However, Elmira still stuck to my neck, even at this late in the game. Her back was facing the apostle.
"Elmira! He's here! Shidora's here! Shidora's behind you!"
I was frantically screaming, but Elmira didn't stop her bloodsucking. What's with this heavy drinker!
"I'll go ahead and send both of your corpses to Hinomori Ryuuga. Though, you may show up as a pulpy mess!"
After declaring so, Shidora kicked the ground. He then charged forward like a bull.
The situation was getting really dire──all the cells in my body were facing a crisis of death. And then,
Shidora suddenly slammed on the brakes. He stopped right in front of us and looked this way while seeming puzzled.
His line of sight wasn't on Elmira.
It was towards the worthless, powerless, ordinary citizen.
In an open room with a dim light, a man and woman were clinging to each other, and a wild boar apostle was just staring.
Such a surreal scene seemed to have lasted for ten seconds. Before long, Shidora grumbled "Hmm..." while faintly tilting his head.
"...Um, something happen?"
A bit perplexed, I timidly asked him a question.
However, Shidora kept staring at me with a serious look. He then dexterously stoked my chin with his pig feet-like hands.
...What the heck is going on? What's the reason for this strange happenstance?
I was hesitating on calling out to him again, but then Shidora opened his mouth at last.
"I didn't notice it earlier..."
"There's a presence that you're emitting right now."
"This might be my imagination, but perhaps you..."
"Like I said, what?"
"No, that can't be...but, hmm..."
Wait wait wait.
Don't say anything indicative! Don't trigger any unnecessary flags!
(I'm begging you, stop it! Don't make my position even more complicated! I've already got my hands full with many ordeals!)
I already feel like I've triggered a flag with Elmira.
If I get involved with the "Apostles of Hell" on top of all that, I won't be able to bring my position under control. I mean, it wouldn't be strange if I was the final boss at this point.
I was at a complete loss.
I suddenly heard Elmira whisper something.
With those words as a cue, Shidora burst into flames.
A ring of fire had suddenly sprouted, engulfing the apostle's large build.
Shidora was screaming. At the same time, Elmira stood up and finally turned towards the apostle.
Her hair rustled and waved. Then her red lips said a few more brief words.
This time, the flames spun into a whirlpool as if they had a mind of their own, and coiled around the enemy like a snake would.
"Gugaaaah! S, stop!"
Shidora raised a shriek while struggling, and I was doing the same in my mind as well.
Stop it, Elmira! Wait a bit before you defeat him! The matter about me still hasn't been resolved!
"Heh heh heh, what a nice plead you're making. There was some delay, but here's your death by fire."
However, Elmira ignored my pressing circumstance. With a sadistic smile, she operated the flames like she was a conductor.
(At this rate, Shidora's going to die...I have to stop her before that! I need to stop this sadistic vampire!)
I rushed over to Elmira at that very moment.
Her hands immediately stopped moving. In response, the flames lost their energy, and eventually vanished.
Ah, what a relief. Elmira stopped what she was doing...at least I thought, but I was merely jumping to conclusions.
"──This ends here, 'Apostle of Hell.'"
Before I knew it, a single boy stood behind Shidora.
The boy wore a uniform that was a bit too big, had androgynous-like features, and had a small build. His whole body was emitting a cold killing intent as he silently stared at the apostle that had been burnt black.
I don't need to explain who this is.
That person is the protagonist of this story, the one who hosts the "Dragon King," but is actually a girl with a bit of love on her mind──Hinomori Ryuuga.
Quite unfortunately, I was the one that brought her here.
Before fleeing while carrying Elmira, I sent Ryuuga a message. I told her to come to the abandoned factory.
That was only some insurance in the event of a crisis. I had planned on having Elmira fight after resupplying her with blood.
In no way did I expect Ryuuga to rush here so quickly.
In no way did I expect Shidora to make that significant observation.
"Ryuuga. I'll leave the rest of it to you."
Elmira held her skirt and respectfully bowed. She stopped her attack so that she could hand the finishing blow over to the protagonist.
"Apostle. How dare you lay your hands on my Ichirou...err, my companions!"
Ryuuga said that bluntly with a cold voice. Her eyes shined gold.
This is bad. She's super-furious. She's seriously angry...I'm sure that I definitely don't have the ability to restrain Ryuuga. I mean, who else would "my Ichirou" be referring to?
"You've incurred my wrath──disappear!"
Shidora's body spun around in the air as Ryuuga roared.
He had a large build of three meters, but Ryuuga's explosive punch blew him away like he was a scrap of paper.
Like a skipping stone, Shidora rolled at a tremendous speed while bouncing on the ground. And like that, he crashed into a concrete wall, creating a second hole.
While I was dumbfounded, the apostle melted and disappeared twenty meters in front of me. Even without unleashing the might of the "Dragon King," Hinomori Ryuuga's power amounting to this much...is incredible.
"Ichirou! Elle! Are you hurt?"
Ignoring Shidora, Ryuuga's expression changed and she focused back on us.
I'm grateful that she's worried about us, but I was not calm on the inside.
I'd hoped that she'd reserve a little bit of that kindness for Shidora.
(Shidora died...the strange flag has been raised. I've been given a mysterious setting...)
Seeing that I was on the verge of tears, Ryuuga came and embraced me. I'm pretty sure she's wearing a sarashi right now, but even so, there was a faint elasticity in her chest.
"Ichirou, it's okay now! It was frightening, wasn't it? You wanted to cry, didn't you?"
Ryuuga stroked my head like she was dealing with a child. Then she rubbed my cheeks together.
There's a different reason as for why I'm on the verge of tears, but I didn't correct her. I just don't have the willpower to.
"Hey, Ryuuga. Did you not make a mistake in which person to embrace?"
Seeing me like that, Elmira puffed her cheeks in dissatisfaction.
"Why is it not me, but Kobayashi Ichirou? Do you, by any chance, prefer a male-male relationship?"
"No, that's...ah ha ha."
In a panic, Ryuuga lets go of me and scratches her head while trying to avoid the question. Hey, don't blush. She's genuinely going to think that you swing that way.
"But, well, that's alright for me. To be honest, boys being lovey-dovey is my favorite thing."
Elmira just revealed a troublesome hobby of hers. You were already a pretty dark character, so I'd prefer if you restrain yourself from turning even more sinister.
"T, that's not it. Unlike you, Ichirou is an ordinary person."
"I'm having doubts on whether or not he's an ordinary person, though."
"Ah ha ha. Certainly, it's possible that Ichirou may not be your average guy."
Though Ryuuga made another smile while saying that, I wasn't smiling at all.
This dilemma I'm facing right now isn't going to end with a joke.
"Well, enough of that."
Not knowing my feelings, Elmira suddenly switched attitudes. She gazed at me for a moment before shifting her attention to Ryuuga.
"Ryuuga, I wonder if it's okay to ask for one thing."
"Starting from today, I want the privilege of being able to suck blood from Kobayashi Ichirou as well, is that okay?"
Ryuuga and I both let out a voice in response to her sudden request.
"His blood is currently the number one best so far. The taste and of course, the flame energy yield, are both excellent...please give me permission."
"N, no! Absolutely not!"
Ryuuga shook her head. She then clung onto my right arm.
"Don't absorb Ichirou's blood! There was no choice in the matter this time, but never do it again!"
"Isn't it fine? Please make Kobayashi Ichirou my exclusive donor."
"I will not! Ichirou is mine!"
"Well Ryuuga. That desire to monopolize him is...very good! Let it blossom!"
Being excited for whatever odd reason, Elmira clung onto my left arm.
Suddenly, they started a game of tug-o-war with me in the center of it.
"Come on Ryuuga! Let the jealousy develop!"
"Elle! Let go! Ichirou belongs to me!"
"I, I can't hold myself back!"
...Hey, stop. I'm not happy about this. Actually, I feel miserable."
The protagonist and a heroine shouldn't compete for a sub-character. Who would want to see such banter?
(No wait. Perhaps I'm...not a sub-character anymore?)
The female protagonist has been paying special attention to me, my relations with the heroines are deepening, and furthermore, one of the "Apostles of Hell" hesitated to attack me. In what world would this be a minor role?
It's no longer possible to correct my relationship with Ryuuga. It could be said that Kobayashi Ichirou's position in this story has completely fallen apart.
(Who in the world am I?)
One ominous thought once again crossed my mind.
...I was told that the "Apostles of Hell" are planning to revive their fallen king, the "Evil Spirit."
So what if a companion of the female protagonist turns out to be the "Evil Spirit?"
What if that person was close with the other heroines as well?
Wouldn't it be a very exciting development for the story's climax?