There was no aphrodisiac like the loneliness he experienced. It was in the time of infinity, he endured it alone.
…He was a unique, beautiful and perfect creature, but he was only one.Scarlet Fangs of a Goddess
Chapter Twelve ~ The Kougazan~
Irritation within Zero was about to hit maximum for whenever he struck a fatal shot at Sara, she managed to dodge it by only a few centimeters. From the way Sara avoided face on battle, it was evident to Zero that Sara was buying time, hoping to trap him here for as long as she could.
Despite knowing so, Zero's heart had been restless the moment he noticed Hotarubi's disappearance. Not knowing her safety was driving him nuts, and what bothered him even more was the thought of Hotarubi meeting Kaname alone.
Since when had he become a man with such a small heart? Zero cursed within. Hotarubi assured him that she had made up her mind to be his wife, and she honored that by not meeting Kaname the entire time he was away. She was a good woman and Zero knew that from deep within. However, would she still remain beside him if she knew the truth? How would she react if she found out about her true relationship with Kaname?
With the awakening of the ancestor ability within, along with it, the ancestor's memories also returned to Zero. The shocking truth of what really happened at the time of the great battle between him and Kaname, and the heartbreaking past they had. Zero's heart wrenched immediately with the thought, and if the memories were true, Zero knew deep within, maybe he was the one that did not have the right to be with Hotarubi.
"You seemed troubled, hunter boy." On purpose Sara teased. "With your mind elsewhere, are you sure you could defeat me?"
"Despite the intentions, you did after all save my life once." Coldly Zero replied. "I guess it was only fair that I allow you a few extra minutes to live."
Chuckling sweetly at Zero's mocking, Sara said. "Your tongue is still as sharp as ever. Maybe Hotarubi would have been happier if she was married to Kaname instead? He would treat her with such kindness, protect and cherish her."
Sara's seemingly harmless joke hit Zero deep and hard for this was his biggest fear. Not wanting to hear any more words from Sara that could expose more of his uncertainties, Zero gripped the katana tight and with a quick swirl of his arm sent another huge attack at the Pureblood.
"Rushing to end the battle, hunter boy?" Dodging the attack once more, Sara smiled. "I could understand why you would be worried, for I too would not like the thought of my husband alone with his ex-lover."
"Say that and convince no one but yourself," Zero ridiculed. "Despite I hate that man's guts, but I know no matter what happens and for whatever reason, he would have never taken anyone other than Hotarubi as his wife let along the wife being you."
For the first time that graceful expression disappeared from the elegant Pureblood's face. "What made you so confident about that?"
"I knew you probably claimed that to upset Hotarubi, but you could never fool me." Zero replied calmly. "I knew that man had only ever loved one person and could love no other, so persistent to the extent of making his appearance too in this age."
"Are you referring to the real reason why the vampire ancestor was reborn?" With a certain discovery, Sara asked quickly in excitement. If what Zero said was true, it would mean Kaname did not come to rescue their race. And if the rest of the vampires knew about this, they would all turn away from him and follow her instead! This may be her one and only chance of ridding this powerful Pureblood.
However, before Zero replied, both he and Sara immediately sensed an enormous power forming from the room below them. Recognising what it was, Zero's heart started pumping faster in great concern. "Hotarubi…?"
"This is…?" Sara frowned too when she sensed the unpleasant attacking power, such power was enough to penetrate her skin, straight to her bones, causing extreme repulsiveness from within. "That girl is actually planning on taking down the man she loves…?"
"Looks like it's time to end the battle here. Though I had not planned to use this against anyone but him…" Knowing something bad has happened from below them, and it involved Hotarubi, extreme iciness painted Zero's face. Chanting a spell, Zero placed his hand over the mark on his neck. Immediately responding to the spell, the mark started to glow and Sara's eyes widened in surprise when she saw the glow landed on Zero's hand.
As a pureblood, Sara immediately knew the power source that formed on her enemy's hand was something that belonged to them, something so familiar and so mighty that with her thousand years of vampire life, she had not yet met anyone who inherited such power. "This is not possible!" Sara could only say as she shook her head, "Why would a hunter inherit this power?"
A most lonely and saddened gleam appeared in Zero's violet eyes upon Sara's statement. But soon hiding it, Zero threatened instead. "I guess it would be a mercy to let you know what this was so at least you know how you died."
Knowing Zero was not kidding this time, Sara's beautiful face turned pale in shock. Unfortunately before she had a chance to flee, Zero released a massive power wiping out everything in its path including the once elegant and confident Pureblood.
"This is the Kougazan, the scarlet fangs of your most powerful ancestor…"
This would be the second time Hotarubi was frightened so much by Kaname. First time was when he caught her at the ancestor's tomb, and this time, holding the Kuran Inscriptions between his fingers, Kaname looked at her with the same icy merciless expression Hotarubi once saw on his face when he took Ichiru's life.
"Ka…Kaname…?" Taking a step back, Hotarubi could sense her voice dry due to fear. "Why would you do this…?"
"Why? Because I hate that man so much." Kaname replied softly, a contrast to his words. "He had taken from me something that I treasured more than my own life, so this time, I will do to him what he had done to me."
From the way Kaname spoke, Hotarubi knew immediately the 'he' Kaname mentioned was the hunter ancestor. "Wait, but that was not Zero! Whatever happened between you and the hunter ancestor has nothing to do with him! It is not fair to take it out on him!"
"That's not entirely true, Hotarubi." Kaname replied with an enchanting smile. "The moment he was awakened inside Zero, they have become one and Zero knew this. I believe he would not have seen him and the ancestor as two different people now. And to be honest," Kaname chuckled softly. "I was kind of glad he was awakened, because this way, I could finally make him suffer the way he made me suffer…"
Hotarubi could sense the ringing at her ears from the shock she just received. Who was this man before her? Was he really the gentle and kind man that whispered his love for her and promised to not let anything harm her?
"What…what happened between you and the hunter ancestor? " Hotarubi could not help but ask for she could sense so much hatred buried within Kaname for him to make such a crude statement.
Instead of giving her an answer, a most gloomy expression flashed pass Kaname's eyes, but hiding it soon, Kaname looked up at Hotarubi again. "Too bad it turned out this way, if I had a choice, I had hoped to avoid getting you involved in this." Followed immediately after his statement, Kaname was suddenly behind Hotarubi as he locked her arms behind her with one hand and with the other, he covered her mouth.
Horrified with Kaname's action, Hotarubi struggled in vain but only to discover that her strength was nothing compared to the tall man behind her. More to her horror, she sensed a power coming through Kaname's hand as her consciousness started to fade little by little. A contrast to his unkindly action, Kaname whispered soothingly by her ear, "Don't fight against it, Hotarubi. As there will be great pains when the inscriptions are inscribed into you, this way, at least you won't feel it…"
Despite Kaname's power was supposed to relief her of the pain she was about to receive, it was not able to take away the indescribable ache Hotarubi felt in her heart. The agony of finally knowing Kaname never loved her from the beginning and proving to all that he was really using her from the start. If there was a choice, Hotarubi hoped she would end her life right there for she discovered, despite the Pureblood did not love her, she did indeed love him. The shame of being used was too much to bear. Unfortunately, it was not her that paid but Ichiru and because of her stupidity, Zero will become the next victim.
The moment that thought entered her mind, Hotarubi sensed her heart thumped hard. No, she must not allow herself be used by Kaname as a way to hurt Zero! If she was the one that caused the mess, she should be the one to clean it up! With the determination Hotarubi knew what she must do.
When Kaname sensed no more struggle from Hotarubi, he thought he had successfully subdued her until he noticed a cloud of white fog forming around them. In alert, Kaname let go of the girl in his arms as he stepped back in defense.
"This is the second time I have seen the Yagari Seal…" Kaname muttered with the realization as he watched the girl before him slowly gotten back onto her feet.
"Yes…" Biting onto her lower lip in extreme melancholy Hotarubi replied. "The first time I enacted it to save you, and this time…"
"To kill me." Unlike the emotional girl before him, Kaname completed the sentence for Hotarubi calmly.
Holding up her arm, the fog gradually gathered and turned into a white tiger above Hotarubi's palm. "Kaname, I was foolish enough to believe you genuinely had feelings for me, and to naively aim for an impossible dream of the uniting of vampires and their hunters. Many people paid for my mistake and though I know I do not deserve to live any more because of it, yet with what remained of me, I will protect the person I care for, and I will never allow you to use me against him!"
"Very well," Seeing the determined gleam in Hotarubi's eyes, Kaname gave a sigh. "In that case I will not hold back my power either because I cannot be destroyed until I have sought revenge on that man."
In response to the release of the enormous Yagari seal, the airflow around them changed abruptly created by the sudden increase of strength within the Pureblood. With the alteration, Hotarubi knew Kaname was not holding back either. Despite being a powerful Pureblood, Kaname would need to use his full power in order to defend against the powerful seal a Yagari hunter paid with their life.
But how have they come to this?
It felt like yesterday when Kaname held her in his arms whispering his love for her. At the time it felt so real, so real Hotarubi believed every word Kaname spoke. Was it really all an act when Kaname stood before her to take on the attack from Rido? He did it only to earn her trust? On the day when Hotarubi returned late to the Seiran estate after helping the little boy, the strength from Kaname's arms when he held her upon her return, was it really all fake?
"Well, I guess we better end this before 'he' comes." As if to confirm that they were nothing but only Kaname's tricks to get inside her head, Hotarubi saw from the indifferent look on Kaname's still perfect charismatic countenance as he mocked proving he really had no feelings for her. The way he looked at her was as if she was no different to any other, that she was just another pawn on his chessboard.
When Hotarubi saw Kaname swung down his arm to release an enormous attack at her, with a desperate cry of despair, Hotarubi too released the white tiger against the vampire before her.
It was then, Hotarubi thought she saw an illusion when the familiar kind-loving smile returned to Kaname as he slowly lowered his arm and calmly closed his eyes. Shocked with Kaname's reaction, in haste, Hotarubi screamed, "White Tiger! Stop!"
Despite the order of its master, the sharp claws and fangs of the holy creature still sank deep into Kaname's shoulder. Hotarubi thought her own heart stopped when she watched as if in slow motion, the beautiful Pureblood collapsed onto the ground as blood splattered all around them.
"Kaname?" Unable to comprehend the scene that just happened before her eyes. Hotarubi screamed in horror as she ran forward forgetting that just a second ago, she was determined to destroy him.
Unfortunately as the white tiger disappeared, all the strength within Hotarubi also vanished at once and forced her to collapse onto the ground. However, as much as the consciousness was gradually leaving her, Hotarubi wept while she struggled to approach the vampire on the ground.
"Kaname…why, why…?" Hotarubi could only ask as she sobbed. She could not understand his actions. He was determined to destroy her wasn't he? But why did he stop, and most of all, why did he give her such a peaceful smile as if he had finally gotten what he wanted?
Instead of giving her an answer, the beautiful Pureblood just gazed at her with the gentle loving expression Hotarubi was familiar with. With a big thump against her heart, Hotarubi finally knew the answer. Kaname never really wanted to harm her, he only put on the act so she could finally make up her mind to kill him, a promise she made to her best friend.
"Remember this, that no matter what happens, I love you Hotarubi more than anything in this world…"
The promise Kaname made on her wedding day, the last thing he spoke to her before he left. How could she forget the true assurance he made to her? How could she ever doubt his love for her?
"I am sorry, Kaname…I am so sorry…" Was all Hotarubi could say as she wept bitterly.
"Don't blame yourself, Hotarubi." Gently the vampire spoke. "If this was the only way I could make you stop hating me, I am glad it happened. When I lost you that day, I had no other desire except to help you ease that anger and hatred within."
At moments like this, Kaname's kind words were only making it more tormenting for Hotarubi. With hardly any strength left, Hotarubi struggled onto her feet. "I…I will not lose you here…no matter…what happens…I am not going to…let you die here…"
As she turned to find help, she heard Kaname called out in alert.
Before she registered what happened, someone grabbed her from behind and almost at the same time, Hotarubi sensed a dull pain against her soft neck…
Zero hastened his pace while he sensed extreme anxiety whirling and eating him up inside. What he and Sara just sensed was the power of the Yagari Seal. Knowing the consequences of releasing the seal, Zero wished he could teleport right to where Hotarubi was.
What happened between Hotarubi and Kaname? What drove her to release the seal against Kaname? Was she in extreme danger?
With the questions swamping his mind, Zero finally arrived in front of a grand door knowing both Kaname and Hotarubi were behind it. Swinging the katana against it, upon the impact, the heavy doors blew apart before Zero.
As the dust started to set, Zero indeed found the girl he was looking for, but not in the state he had hoped. Rather, her arms fell powerlessly beside her, her beautiful eyes tightly shut, and Zero thought his world entered into extreme darkness when he saw, a man's fangs sunk deep into Hotarubi's neck, and a stream of blood flowed down her pearl white neck in contrast making the scene even more gruesome.
Noticing the hunter's focus on him, the man smirked as he lifted his fangs away from the prey in his arms, and as if to provoke the hunter, the man's tongue licked off the blood trail on the girl's neck.
A wrath Zero had never experienced took over his entire being when he finally discovered what happened. "Rido!" With a cry Zero released an enormous attack at the Pureblood that should have been destroyed a year ago.
When suddenly another attack came from beside Zero and altered the path of the power causing it to struck the wall behind Rido instead. Turning to the person who interfered with his attack, Zero hissed. "Kaname…so you are in with Rido on this…"
"No," Shaking his head Kaname struggled onto his feet as he held onto his shoulder where the white tiger's sharp claws and fangs had landed. Taking a look at his own condition, the fact he could still stand was like a mocking to remind him that a Pureblood was nothing but a monster. "You cannot kill Rido…" Kaname stated firmly. "You must not kill him…"
"As if I need advice from you!" Zero cried in anger as he lifted his arm once again at Rido.
Despite the state he was in, Kaname moved forward immediately and grabbed onto Zero's arm. "No, Zero! You cannot kill him because he is now Hotarubi's master!"
Upon Kaname's reminder, Zero felt as if every drop of blood within froze. His violet eyes widened in horror with the discovery of a most horrid path ahead of them.
To rub it in, Rido's cruel laughter filled the room. "I have waited so long for this moment because I know," A most derisive smile on his face, Rido stated. "The strongest hunter and the strongest vampire, in spite of your extravagant powers, you are unable to take me down because I now hold the key."
With the urge to rip the vampire apart, both men glared at Rido knowing whatever he said were unfortunately true. Whilst the battle was going on fiercely between the two races, Rido successfully hid himself until the perfect moment to turn Hotarubi into a vampire, and not just any vampire, but his own servant, that without the constant supply of his blood, the girl who was most precious to the two powerful men on earth, would turn into a mindless beast, a level E.
"We don't need to take you down Rido," Kaname's voice was calm despite a deep dark anger showed through his eyes. "There are other ways get your blood."
Knowing what Kaname was implying, Rido sniggered as he immediately leaped back and fled through the window with Hotarubi still in his arms. Seeing this, Zero immediately chased after Rido.
Wanting to rescue the girl he loves too, Kaname attempted to follow them when suddenly numbness hit him as he fell onto his knees. Knowing it was the after effect of the damage he received from the Yagari Seal, Kaname sensed extreme frustration hit him.
Kaname was always in control, and he always knew many things. It was for the first time he realised there were things he could not do, and he was powerless. Ignoring the numbness taking over him, Kaname struggled again onto his feet when to his relief, Cain and Aidou rushed into the room.
"Kaname-sama!" Seeing the condition he was in, Aidou ran up in haste.
"Aidou, there is something I would ask of you…"
Aidou almost leaped with joy upon his master's request for despite his biggest wish of becoming helpful to Kaname, he never required his help. "Of course! Kaname-sama! Anything you ask for!"
"Offer me your blood."
"Eh?" Aidou thought his ear malfunctioned upon Kaname's request. It was an uttermost honour for any noble class vampire to offer their blood to the Pureblood. Yet, as Ichijou once mentioned, Kaname had been extremely picky with whose blood he takes from and never in the world would Aidou expect the honour to ever fall upon him.
"Yes, Kaname-sama! Take as much as you want!" Standing still in respect Aidou said immediately.
"Thank you Aidou…" Slowly leaning close Kaname said. "I will just need the amount to help me regain my strength…"
"Rido!" Zero cried in frustration when he saw Rido sneakily leaped onto another tree as the attack he sent against him missed again.
"Powerful indeed, but you might want to work on your aim." In ridicule, Rido laughed though he really scarcely dodged the attack.
"Tsk," In irritation, Zero leaped forward and was suddenly beside Rido. Just when Zero thought he caught Rido by surprise and swung his katana at the vampire, Rido smirked and on purpose held Hotarubi's body before him like a shield forcing Zero to quickly turn his weapon away. When Rido was able to buy himself that little time, with another leap, he was able to keep his distance from the hunter again.
This hide and seek game had been going on for a while now. Whenever Zero was able to catch up, Rido would use Hotarubi as a shield making it impossible for Zero to truly attack him. Though knowing so, Zero regrettably discovered, he had no choice but to continue this chase between him and Rido.
To Zero's joy, it appeared Rido and him had reached a cliff and there was no more place for Rido to run. Pointing the weapon at Rido, Zero called out. "Rido, it's time we end this meaningless chase here and now."
"End? The fun had only just started." Rido smirked and on purpose lifted Hotarubi above him.
"Rido? What are you…?"
"Oops, my hands slipped." Provoking Zero on purpose, Rido let go of his hands.
"Hotarubi!" Zero screamed in shock when at the same time he saw a shadow rushed passed him. With his ability Zero recognized it to be Kaname, and to his uttermost relief, when he saw Kaname successfully caught Hotarubi, without wasting a second, leaping forward, Zero stabbed his katana through Rido's chest pinning him to the rock behind.
"Ouch, that hurts…" Showing no sign of repentance, Rido mocked.
"I would so enjoy ripping you apart," Sensing every cell within burning with rage Zero cursed.
"But you can't," Shrugging his shoulders Rido stated. "Because you know despite what I have done to your brother and your wife, you are unable to take my life because without me…" Leaning forward, Rido hissed. "Your wife will degrade into a mindless beast, and as the leader of the hunter race, you will need to set an example by exterminating her…"
"You bastard!" Zero cursed as he grabbed onto Rido's neck wishing he could just snap it in half.
"Rido…" With Hotarubi in his arms, Kaname came forward too. "What are you hoping to achieve out of this? You know your battle has already been lost."
"Achieve?" Rido snorted. "Yes, the day when you blew me apart at the ancestor's tomb, I knew my battle was lost. Though it took a year to recover my form, I now know there is only one thing I wanted to do."
"One thing?" Kaname frowned. "So this is your plan? You knew we will need to keep you alive in order to prevent her from falling into a Level E?"
Unexpectedly Rido started laughing hysterically upon Kaname's question. "No, Kaname. I couldn't possibly have such a generous plan, since when have I ever been so kind to anyone?"
"What is it that you want?" Not wanting to waste any more time on Rido, Zero tightened his grip.
"This is what I want." Suddenly taking a dagger out from behind him, Rido held the blade and stabbed it deep into his heart.
"No!" For the first time, that calm disappeared from Kaname when he saw what Rido did. Moving forward, Kaname felt darkness overlapped him when he confirmed what Rido used was an anti-vampire weapon.
"What would be even better than to take away both your hopes forever?" Rido smiled with victory when he encountered the shaken looks on the two strongest men on earth. Yes, he may not be able to defeat them, but this way, Rido can be sure, these two men would suffer forever and this would be his victory. As his body started to turn crumbly, Rido laughed even more enjoying the very last moment of his imperishable life. "What can you do now, Zero and Kaname? Even with all your powers and wisdom, you should know, there are tragedies that you could never prevent…"
A dreadful silence followed after Rido's laughter disappeared together with the last remains of his body. Zero stared at the dust of the once powerful Pureblood, then in utter frustration, he held onto his head repeating over and over to himself. "No, it should not have been this way…her wish should have finally been fulfilled in this age, this should not have been the outcome…!"
Moving his eyes from the dust onto his archenemy, the man he had been fighting against from the beginning, Zero pointed his katana at Kaname's chest. "It's all the vampire's fault. You monsters play with people's hearts, arrogant, and ruthless! I should just push this sword through your heart and end everyone's miseries!"
Kaname kept silent to Zero's accusations as his eyes landed on the girl in his arms in absolute sorrow for he knew, Zero might have been right. Their existence was a nuisance; they were nothing but monsters beneath human skins. If it were not because of the curse of a vampire's life, maybe Hotarubi would not have ended in this tragic situation. Leaning down, Kaname placed a soft kiss on Hotarubi's forehead hoping if permitted, he could swap places with her so he would be the one to face the tragic end that was ahead.
Seeing Kaname's actions, extreme jealousy whirled up within as Zero pushed the katana forward penetrating the blade into the vampire's chest, a few centimeters away from the Pureblood's heart. "Let go of her." Zero stated in threat.
"No," Unfortunately unstirred by the situation, Kaname calmly shook his head. "I let go of her once and I will never let go again."
"One last warning…" Angered even more by the challenging attitude of his enemy, Zero pushed the blade in further. "Let go!"
"No." Was Kaname's simple answer. "You can stab that weapon right though my heart, but you can no longer part her from me."
Tightening his grip, Zero said. "Very well then, I shall kill you here so I could make sure that you are out of her life forever."
"Do you really have the right to declare that?" Kaname's eyebrow lifted in disagreement. "Need I remind you that she was my wife, and you were the one that stole her from me?"
Upon Kaname's statement, Zero's face turned dead pale for a short while before it was soon replaced by expressions of extreme anger as with a cry, Zero pushed the katana forward. When suddenly, Zero saw a hand held onto the blade preventing it from moving forward. Zero's entire body jumped when he saw the girl in Kaname's arms looking up at him, there were such pleading in her eyes as she slowly shook her head.
"Please…don't kill Kaname…please spare…him…" Droplets of tears rolled down the girl's face as she repeated that over and over to her husband. "Please Zero…"
When Zero saw the gleam in Hotarubi's eyes, the way she pleaded for the Pureblood's life, it was the exact same, identical look 'she' gave him on that day of the great battle…
As if all the strength left him, Zero dropped the katana onto the ground. "Hotarubi…" Zero whispered in pain. "I am so sorry, I promised to protect you and yet…"
"No…Zero, please don't blame yourself…" With hardly any strength left Hotarubi said softly, hoping being soft would help ease her husband's guilt. "I should be the one saying sorry…because…I broke my promise to you and Ichiru…" Looking up at the Pureblood above her, Hotarubi smiled. "Kaname…I,"
Before Hotarubi could continue further, extreme pain within her body suddenly hit her, with a cry, Hotarubi held onto her body.
"Hotarubi?" In shock Zero looked up at Kaname. "What is happening to her?"
"The metaphoric change…" Kaname's eyes widened in horror with a certain discovery. "The vampire poison within her body from Rido's bite is starting to turn her into a vampire. But her body is too weak to adjust to the change straight after releasing the Yagari Seal…!"
"If," Kaname took a deep breath in as he told Zero that horrible news, "If she doesn't regain the strength to fight against the poison to help the transition, she will die a painful mutated death…"
Letting out another cry, Hotarubi's body shook severely in pain. Seeing this, Kaname immediately bit down against his wrist and when blood flowed out, he held his arm beside Hotarubi's lips. "Hotarubi, drink my blood, it will help soothe the vampire poison in your blood at the moment."
Unfortunately, Hotarubi was in no state to take in Kaname's offer and seeing this, Zero held his hand over the mark against his neck as he chanted a spell while his other hand hovered over Hotarubi. Luckily, responding to Zero's spell, Hotarubi stopped shivering as she closed her eyes and lay still in Kaname's arms again.
"Your hunter spells can only temporarily suppress the vampire poison within her blood," Kaname said as he took a look at the mark against Zero's neck. "To be able to assist her transition into a vampire, we need to give her body the strength it needs."
"What do you propose?" Zero frowned.
"To best help with the transition, instead of the hunter force that destroys and suppresses the vampire side within her, we need to give her the vampire power instead to help strengthen it. Unfortunately due to the injury I received from the Yagari Seal, I could not give her the strength she needs," Pointing his finger at the mark on Zero's mark, Kaname explained, "That vampire strength now needs to come from you."
"In that case, let's not waste any more time." Without hesitation Zero replied. "How do I do the transfer?"
"I wish someone would tell me what the hell is going on." Yagari Touga muttered with his arms crossed as he glared at the noble class vampires sitting opposite who are also glaring back in return. Much to the vampires and their hunters' dismay, the fierce battle between the two races came to a halt because the leaders of both parties are now inside the room, working together to rescue the one person that mattered to them.
Everyone present had predicted a life and death duel between the two leaders once they have encountered, rather, while the war was going on, they witnessed Kaname and Zero returning together with Hotarubi and without any explanation, locked themselves up in the inner chamber. Not able to comprehend the direction of the grand battle now, both armies have agreed to temporarily stop fighting and wait outside the room until their leaders provide them with an answer.
Unfortunately, their leaders will not be able to grant them the answer either for both Zero and Kaname too could never imagine themselves working together without wanting to rip each other's heart out. Yet here they are, in the Kuran chamber, both men stood on each side of the bed where Hotarubi laid silently, a short step away from death.
"I need you to hold onto her hand," Kaname instructed the man before him. "While I chant the spell, I need you to release the Kougazan at the same time."
Holding Hotarubi's hand tightly in his, Zero nodded.
Biting down on his finger, Kaname drew a pattern on his palm with his blood, the same mark that resembled that of Zero's neck. The moment Kaname started chanting the spell; Zero too closed his eyes as he too held his fingers over the mark on his neck. As the mark started to glow, the blood above Kaname's palm echoed in response forming a red fog uniting with the power released by Zero.
As if the red fog has a mind of its own, it formed itself around Hotarubi when suddenly, the girl on the bed opened her eyes and her back arched as she gasped, taking in all the red fog into her body.
To both men's relief, a slight pink complexion reappeared on the girl's once pale colourless countenance. Unfortunately the relief was only temporarily when they saw, even though Hotarubi have gained enough strength to prevent the mutation from happening, they were forced to witness how the person most precious to them gradually transformed from human into a vampire, a monster.
Ironically, as the transformation completed itself, the vampire genes now within Hotarubi made her already beautiful features even more stunning. Hotarubi's soft fair skin showed a beautiful complexion that resembled the finest pearl, and her cheeks a shade of glowing pink, lips red as the scarlet rose. Emitting from her was a mystical charm, perfect for alluring her prey as all vampires do.
Both Zero and Kaname could feel their hearts in so much regret for they knew, even though it was the same face of the girl they have known for a very long time, with the elegant charismatic aura now added to her, both men knew, 'she' had returned once again to them.
"I," Zero was the first to break the silence as he softly ran his fingers through the girl's hair. "I have failed her, despite all the powers I inherited, I am unable to fulfill her one simple wish…"
Kaname did not respond immediately though he understood deep within what Zero was referring to. Instead, Kaname gave a sigh, "Yes, you have failed. No matter how much and how long it took for you to make sure your plan would work, you could not alter fate." Pausing, Kaname looked straight at Zero in challenge. "She needs to stay beside me, because that was where she belonged."
"To hell will I let her stay beside you!" Grabbing the katana from beside him, Zero suddenly sent a mighty attack at Kaname blasting him out of the chamber.
All the people waiting outside the room stood up in unison when they saw Kaname come flying through the door. Ichijou ran up immediately and helped Kaname up. "Kaname? Are you alright?"
Nodding in response, Kaname stood up calmly as he watched Zero coming out the room with Hotarubi in his arms.
Not knowing the state Kaname was in, all the hunters rejoiced mistaking the huge power differences between their leaders. They have expected a long severe duel between the two, but from the looks of it, there will be no need of a duel at all!
"What can you do for her now as a hunter?" Kaname asked coldly. "All your knowledge would only be useful in defeating a vampire, you do not know how to prevent her from degrading into a Level E."
As expected what Kaname said caused uproar from the crowd around them. Ignoring them, Zero replied. "I will find a way, she is my wife and I will be the one to help her!"
"Your hunter ways will only make it worse," Kaname insisted too. "You can try to heal the damage from the outside, but you cannot remove the poisonous root that is now within her. Though I was not the vampire that bit her, but I am the only Pureblood remaining that could provide her the strongest blood she needs to fight against the poison within."
"But you know eventually she will still fall into the same state!" Zero objected. "You do not have a solution either!"
"..There is a way," Kaname stared straight back at Zero as he stated the one and only solution possible. "If, she drank from the purest vampire of all, the ancestor's blood."
Upon what Kaname said, Zero sensed a huge thump against his heart for he knew deep within it was true yet, the one solution he could never agree on. Unlike him, Kaname's ancestor ability has not yet been awakened because, it was him that won the key. So for Kaname to also gain his ancestor abilities, it would mean…
"I will find another way." Zero glared at Kaname stating in affirmation. "No matter how difficult it would be, I will save her at all costs."
"How about her thirst?" Kaname reminded Zero of another crucial matter. "What are your ways to quench her thirst for blood without causing her pain with your hunter spells?"
"If she ever thirsts for blood," Zero's eyes landed on the girl in his arms with the deepest compassion. "Then I will be the one to provide it to her."
Ignoring the uproar he caused again from the taboo statement spoken from a hunter leader, Zero walked out of there no longer looking back, because hunters or vampires, nothing mattered to him anymore.
Everything was scarlet red.
When Hotarubi opened her eyes again, the ceiling above her was bloodshot, even when she got up and turned to the man who called her name upon her awakening, it was like a red film covered her eyes. What hit her next was the thirst in her throat, the indescribable dryness causing pain to every cell within her body yearning for a crimson liquid that only monsters desire.
"Hotarubi," Leaning over, Zero placed his hand on her cheek in concern. "How are you feeling?"
"I…" Hotarubi looked up at the man beside her when to her horror, a scene she had never seen before appeared before her when she realized she could see the vein on Zero's neck, and the pulse it made from the flow of blood within Zero's body. Upon such view, her entire being became restless and without her consent, sharp fangs appeared like a predator had found its prey as her body acted on its own and pinned Zero down beneath her.
Immediately realizing what she was about to do, Hotarubi moved away from Zero in terror and shame. To her surprise, Zero held her tightly from the back as he leaned his cheek against her own and whispered in utter gentleness. "Hotarubi, I know you wanted to do, it's okay, just do what you needed to do."
Startled by Zero's words, Hotarubi turned to look at her husband, the leader of the hunter race. "But it's.."
"It's an unforgiving act?" Zero continued for her. "For a hunter leader to offer up his blood to a vampire willingly?"
Lowering her head, Hotarubi nodded in shame.
"I am offering my blood to you not as a hunter, but as the man Zero would to Hotarubi."
"But why…?" Hotarubi sobbed upon such words from her childhood friend and husband. "I am now a vampire, a monster you hate to your core, why would you do this for me?"
Zero did not answer Hotarubi's question immediately, instead he gently ran his fingers through her long soft strands as a bitter smile came onto his face while he asked in return. "Do you still not know the answer to that question?"
When Hotarubi saw the expression on Zero's handsome manly face, the face she knew so well, Hotarubi was finally hit with the discovery. The way Zero looked at her, it was the same way he looked at her when he cut off the belt and chose her life over his on the day they both fell off the cliff.
How could she have been so dense? How come she never noticed it? Zero had been in love with her for longer than she had known, yet the entire time she raved about her love for Kaname before him, causing him intolerable pain. Most of all, Hotarubi discovered, if she had known his heart for her earlier, maybe the outcome would have been different.
"I am going to save you, Hotarubi." Zero whispered in assurance. "Meanwhile, I will be your support in every way because no matter what you are, you will always be the same girl I have known."
Hotarubi's heart was moved with great compassion upon such words from Zero. Sobbing bitterly, Hotarubi watched as Zero made a cut on his neck, taking the initiative to offer up his own blood to her.
Placing her arms around Zero's neck, Hotarubi leaned in, though she knew not what to do, her body now as a vampire responded on its own as she licked the blood that flowed down her husband's neck, causing Zero to moan in response before her fangs finally found its way deep into his skin.
The moment the warm thick liquid flowed down her throat, Hotarubi sensed a huge thump against her heart when she realized, she was most familiar with the sensation, this monstrous act felt oddly natural for her. Upon the discovery, floods of memories unzipped from within her as flashes of images ran through her mind.
Slowly moving away from Zero, Hotarubi gazed up at her husband.
"Do you remember everything now?" From Hotarubi's reaction, Zero knew immediately what happened as he gently wiped away the blood stain on the edge of her lips.
Tears rolled off Hotarubi's cheek as she finally gave a nod to Zero's question.
"Despite I was married to Kaname as the first Kuran Queen," Placing her palms against Zero's cheeks in lovingness, Hotarubi smiled beautifully.
"I have fallen in love with a hunter…"