Deep within the maze-like pathways of Noenth, the outskirts bleed seamlessly into the slums.
This bleak world has no semblance of a marketplace, only dilapidated remnants of buildings as if forgotten by time itself.
In this derelict cityscape, one building still stands firm, fortified by my magic to repel any unscrupulous invaders. I enter what I proudly call my home.
「Welcome back, big brother.」
As I step in, my stepsister, Asuka, warmly greets me.
Plagued by a congenital illness since birth, she has always been frail. Yet, thanks to the medications, her condition has improved, and lately, she’s been gaining more strength. She approaches me with a newfound vigor, walking confidently on her own two feet.
「Yeah, I’m back.」
I gently stroke Asuka’s head, pulling her into a comforting embrace, reaffirming my presence.
「Did everything go smoothly?」
「Yes, without a hitch.」
「That’s a relief. So, now you’re a resident of the Highend」
「Well, not exactly a resident since I don’t live there. But I’d like to find work at the academy and maybe earn enough to move into the Highend someday.」
「I wish I could help you in some way…」
「Just by being here, you’re already helping me, Asuka. You’ve been doing much better recently, even managing the household chores, I’m sure. With how busy things might get, having you handle those chores is such a relief.」
「Yes! I’ll do my best with the chores… speaking of which, can I help prepare dinner tonight?」
「I would’ve said yes, but I’ve brought something special tonight.」
「I helped this rather affluent-looking girl in Noenth. As a token of gratitude, she treated me to a meal from the Highend. How about we dine on that?」
For some inexplicable reason, Asuka’s embrace tightens. Why, I wonder?
「Oh… No, it’s nothing. Highend cuisine, you say? I’m looking forward to it.」
「The ingredients they use are incredibly premium. It’s probably going to be amazing.」
With Asuka by my side, we walk side by side to the round table at the center of the room, and I begin to retrieve the dishes I stored within my shadow.
This unique ability to conceal objects within shadows is a biological trait inherent to vampires, a lineage I proudly bear.
「Shall we dig in?」
Having laid out the array of sumptuous dishes on the table, I prompt with a smile.