In his dream, a domineering man overlooked him. He coldly commanded his underling to mercilessly flog him with the whip.
The man was so skilled that he left no scars on him.
Within the darkness, only a single lamp had been lit. He struggled to open his eyes but could only faintly make out the man’s contours. From bottom to top, there was only the presence of cold blood.
Every time that he saw this man, he would always have to suffer a cruel beating. It hurt a lot. There existed no other sensations but pain. Still, even then, he longed for this man’s appearance. It was only when he appeared that there would be a dim glow of light in this darkness. Despite the beatings, he would nevertheless be given the rare but full meal.
The man said, “Hate me!”
He opened his mouth, wanting to say something, but all he could say at that moment was, “Father….”
Zero suddenly opened his eyes. There were still remnants of the nightmare in his mind yet he was already numb from it. There was no hint of any expression on his face whatsoever.
“Awake?” Although it was just a simple question, anger seeped out.
Dazed, Zero raised his head and a pudgy woman entered his field of vision. The pudgy woman was full of anger and impatience, as if Zero’s existence had interrupted her afternoon nap.
“Sorry.” Zero said. Just as he was about to get up, radiating pain from his wounds caused him to feel dizzy and fall back heavily on the bed. The bed was basically as hard as a rock. This fall nearly knocked Zero halfway towards death. When his head limply turned to the side, what he smelled wasn’t the stench of blood. It was the rotten stench of the bed sheets that had been stained so far beyond that one could no longer tell the original color of the sheets.
“Bastard!!! Just obediently lie down there! Don’t cause me any trouble or I’ll throw you in the sewers and let the rats devour you!” Infuriated, she loudly yelled. Her round face was contorted with ferociousness, making her seem uglier and more disgusting.
“Excuse me for inconveniencing you.” Zero quietly replied as he subserviently laid down. His trembling body showed his fragility and vulnerability. His face was like that of a slave who had suffered from long-term abuse and lack of proper nutrition. Even so, nobody would pity his pitiful state!
“This is your food! You better eat it all up for me! After you finish, lick the bowl clean! If you dare to waste anything, I’ll rip you apart!!! I know what tricks you dirty slaves have up your sleeve. If I give you an ounce of pity, you’ll only become more spoiled rotten!! You better be good, understand?!!”
The pudgy lady slammed the bowl [pah!] on the bedside table, dragged her large body, and trudged towards the stairway.
The place where Zero resided in looked like an attic. There were two skylights that were about the size of a fist. The only way out was through the trapdoor.
Zero had finally realized why the pudgy lady was this angry.
It was too difficult for her to squeeze her large body through that narrow place! — Especially when her heinie got stuck!!!
He waited for her to leave.
Zero carefully moved his arms and legs. The force of the chains beating down on him was quite strong. His whole body was covered in injuries but none of them were life-threatening.
Even though yesterday’s appearance of the two vampire nobles was a factor outside of his calculation, his plan was still considered a success.
Zero’s original plan was — He wanted to suffer a serious injury, making him look all bloodied up, pitiful, and repulsive. That way, he could safely spend the night away.
As for that girl, she would die regardless of whether he helped her or not. He was an assassin. He had killed children before and he had no feelings of sympathy for them. It was just that the girl’s name was Cynthia. It made him more or less uncomfortable.
Stunned, Zero quickly turned his head and looked at the food on the bedside table. Yellow and mushy ― ‘vomit’? There were greenish black leaves mixed in it. Zero furrowed his brows in disgust but nevertheless reached out his hand and moved it closer to his face so that he could lick everything clean.
Zero licked it very meticulously, making sure that not one bit of the gruel was left. He even cleaned up some of the liquid that had splashed out.
After he had finished eating, he obeyed the pudgy woman’s orders and didn’t do anything that would cause her more nuisance. In truth, what he needed was a good rest. Although the wounds on his body were not fatal and that he had a better recovery rate than an average person’s, he still needed five to six days of rest to heal. For a full recovery, he would need a month’s time, assuming that he would not further get injured.
Zero closed his eyes and relaxed all his muscles. His breathing also slowed. An ordinary human relied on their lungs to breathe but actually, breathing was regulated by the abdomen, also known as dantian. This would reduce the pressure on the lungs and chest, allowing one to truly relax the entire body.
Zero completely let go and peacefully slept until the sky had darkened. Faint sounds of footsteps echoed from the stairway. He swiftly regained consciousness. Even though he remained awake, he still kept his eyes closed and waited for the one downstairs to near him.
Judging from the footstep sounds, he deduced that it wasn’t the pudgy woman during the day but an eleven or twelve year old child.
Scattering rays of light were visibly closer. Something was placed on the bedside table. Then, the child neared him. Zero could feel his breath on his face. Without a warning, he opened his eyes. As expected, the child became so frightened that he sucked in a breath and fell to the floor.
The child looked at him. Moments later, he patted his chest and breathed a sigh of relief.
“Hey, you’re awake? I’m Nick, a slave in this manor here. Mrs. Fayra told me to bring food to you. Also, this….” The little boy took out a small coconut from underneath his shirt. The coconut had been hollowed out. Within it was…. Zero smelled the scent of herbal medicine.
“This is from old man Branson. When he was young, he knew a thing or two about medicine. I heard that you had saved ‘X’. You’re too brave!”
Little Nick rambled on and on. Thanks to him, Zero had understood what the whole commotion regarding the Childe was about.
A Childe was a vampire youngling who had yet to be introduced to and approved by the prince. He or she was a child who had vampires’ blood flowing within him or her but hadn’t undergone initiation. A Childe was still in the growth stage. An uninitiated Childe didn’t need to periodically drink blood but there would be fixed times where he or she would display extreme thirst.
A Childe’s diet was very strict. This was very important as it had a direct impact on the special ability that he or she would gain in the future. The two siblings that tried to escape yesterday were some Childe’s fodder.
Childes born to vampires were generally physically stronger, but vampire conception was naturally very difficult. Childes who survived and could make it to initiation were even fewer in existence. As a result, every Childe was under the protection of an adult vampire guardian.
No wonder why so many people had chased after those two kids!
From Nick’s explanation, Zero had learned that the place where he was currently at was the mystical floating island paradise that was once created by God but now occupied by the forces of darkness — the vampires’ capital city of Giffin.
Zero was shocked. Although Giffin and Saiwon City were very close, it would still take seven to eight days by road. Did that mean that he was unconscious not for one day but seven to eight days?!
Noticing Zero’s surprise, Nick hastily explained, “Giffin has a floating gate that can be accessed anywhere within Pulondela and it’s opened all the time. Only the prince and those who have his permission can use it. The one who brought you here is my master, Duke Alois Sol Retter of William-Wallace.”
Zero’s blood chilled. The one who had saved him was a vampire duke! What was his purpose?!
“Unfortunately, the duke isn’t in the city right now. The prince sent him to the border. Supposedly, there’s some minor disturbance in that area,” said Nick. His expression displayed small traces of worry.
Zero was slightly curious and pretended to timidly ask, “Why did the duke bring me here? Does he want my blood?”
“Don’t worry. The duke his lord is well-tempered. He’s not at all like the other nobles who will abuse slaves at his pleasure.”
Zero nodded his head but he still had doubts. He put on his facade of weakness and conversed with Nick some more. Afterward, he grew tired. He dismissed Nick and went back to sleep.