OmaeGotoki: Volume 1 002 - From The Curse, The Girl's Blessing
The slave merchant drags Flum to his room and kicks her in the gut over and over again, holding her up by her golden brown hair.
“Dammit!! Do you have any idea how much I’ve lost on this deal!? You bitch!!”
“Ugh, uu… h-haa…”
Every time the toes of his boot makes contact with her gut she lets out a pained sound, saliva leaking from the corners of her mouth. Every time even a little touches his boots his anger flares up again and he starts hitting harder.
Her expression is already filled to the brim with despair and fear, her body curled up as small as she can manage in her position. The merchant’s blood boils just looking at her.
“Don’t pretend you’re the victim here! This is all your fault, you worthless little shit!”
The dull sound of boot hitting flesh continues to echo throughout the room.
The merchant seriously regrets trusting Jean so completely just because he was one of the Chosen. By the time he had seen Flum’s Status and his face had gone white from shock, however, Jean was already long gone.
When Jean contacted him saying he had a woman to sell, the merchant had thanked Origin. Not only would he be able to form a connection with the Hero's Party, but the woman herself was one of the Chosen. She’d be worth a fortune, no doubt. Jean himself had assured him that she’d be worth all the trouble in the end.
Selling an innocent girl into slavery is obviously illegal and someone like Flum would be difficult to sell without getting caught, but Jean had convinced the merchant that he would keep everyone off their trail, and the merchant makes a living finding buyers for illegal goods. As long as they both did their job, neither of them should have any problems.
The merchant was nonetheless very cautious in cutting the deal.
Jean had given the distinct impression that he didn’t want the reasons behind the deal to be known, so the merchant was careful not to spoil the deal by saying or doing anything to pry.
---Maybe he should’ve gotten suspicious instead.
It wasn’t as though he didn’t have any misgivings about trusting someone who clearly had something to hide, but in the end his greed won the upper hand.
The first time he began to suspect something strange was afoot was the moment Jean started relentlessly criticizing her.
Useless, he had called her. Right in front of the man he was about to sell her to.
She looked to be, without a doubt, the famous Flum Apricot herself, companion of the one and only Hero --- all the merchant could do was tell himself it was all a bad joke on Jean’s part.
At the time, he still trusted Jean. He trusted him up until he took Flum back to his base of operations and looked at her Status.
Checking someone’s Status is incredibly easy. Anyone can cast the Attributeless magic Scan.
Flum Apricot Attribute : Reversal Strength : 0 Magic : 0 Stamina : 0 Agility : 0 Intuition : 0
Scan was supposedly created by a great mage in the distant past, and not only does it turn abstract combat ability into quantifiable values but it even reveals the target’s Attribute.
Normally, he would’ve used Scan before handing over the money. If it was a normal deal, the merchant wouldn’t have hesitated to.
But this wasn’t a normal deal.
If he had shown any sign of doing so, Jean probably would’ve called off the deal then and there. Jean’s intimidation tactics worked in the end.
A week had passed since the merchant traded that hefty bag of gold for Flum.
No matter how much he regrets it he can’t just ask for a return, and nobody would ever be stupid enough to buy an illegal slave with stats like hers. Her only use now is as a punching bag --- but even that's about to change.
As long as Flum lives, he’ll remember his failure every time he looks at her face.
This loss isn’t enough to bankrupt him. If he’s going to continue as a slave merchant, he’ll have to put this behind him and focus on business as usual. He should dispose of that useless, irritating piece of trash as soon as possible. He lost money, yes, but part of running a business is learning to cut losses. Even if he was deceived, he can't just play the victim forever.
Finally, he decides on his course of action.
Grabbing Flum by the collar of her battered shirt, he drags her down the rough stone corridor. The floor bites into her skin, scraping at her as they go.
She barely even reacts to such little pain. She can’t even bring herself to care where she’ll be dragged off to next.
Wherever they go, it won’t be pleasant. Maybe she’ll be sold to someone else, maybe she’ll be killed --- no matter what, her future is grim.
The moment she had the slave mark branded onto her face, her dreams of returning to her village were dashed. At first she wondered what she’d done to deserve such a fate, but she stopped even thinking after she decided to give up.
Still dragging her behind him, the merchant descends a staircase. As her butt and legs hit the hard stairs over and over, she lets out small cries of pain.
Finally, the merchant arrives in the basement. He unlocks the cell there, throws Flum in, and quickly locks it again.
Battered and beaten, she collapses onto the cold floor. Slowly sitting up, she looks around her. She finds herself in a cage, the kind used for displaying the slaves to potential buyers. Aside from Flum there are four other people there, all of whom have dead eyes, convinced like her that their lives are over. Their starved limbs have been reduced to nothing but bones.
In the back a woman is sitting in a pile of human waste, a thin smile on her lips. Her will was probably crushed long ago. Her heart still beats, but she’s already dead.
The living conditions are abysmal. The smell alone is horrible enough that even in her apathy Flum scrunches up her face in disgust.
“It looks like I finally have enough to start.”
The merchant mumbles to himself as he sits in the chair in front of the cell. He stands up and heads into the darkness of the far end of the room, but none of the living corpses in the cell could care less.
The only sound left in the room is the sound of slaves’ breathing.
Flum drags herself along the ground to the wall, then sits with her back to it.
She looks up at the weathered stone ceiling, simply breathing in then out again and again. It takes a while for her to notice the gangly slave beside her with the heavily bandaged face.
“You… How long have you been here?”
Flum starts talking to the slave on nothing more than a whim. The slave slowly turns to face her, stares at her wordlessly for a moment, then finally gives an emotionless reply.
“I’ve been here for three days.”
Until she heard her voice, Flum didn’t even notice the slave was a she.
Her body is nothing but bones, and her face is covered in bandages --- in such a state nobody would be able to tell her gender with any certainty.
Her thin hair is diluted grey and reaches down to her shoulders --- maybe if she took a proper bath it’d be a pretty silver colour. Its length is fairly feminine, but the ends are frayed and uneven, as if hacked at with a rusty knife. Maybe she’d never had a proper haircut and her hair had just grown out like this naturally.
Her clothes are filthy, her skin is blackened with dirt, and she smells unpleasant. She’s by no means pretty.
But looking straight into her eyes, however, Flum’s breath is taken away.
What beautiful eyes --- Flum is completely captivated.
Her eyes have a feminine sort of kindness within them, and her irises are incredibly clear.
Even in the darkness of that basement, her eyes give off such a radiance that Flum is convinced that if things had gone only slightly differently for her she’d be living out a blissfully happy life right now.
“If we’ve been brought here, then… we’re gonna die, aren’t we?”
“I don’t know. But Master did say that he was going to dispose of us.”
“The man who was sitting there a minute ago. Since nobody wants to buy me, that makes him my Master.”
Flum is brought to the stark realization that the girl is completely different from her.
She can probably only call that horrible man ‘Master’ without hesitation because she’s been a slave from a young age. The girl is a slave at heart.
Flum then finally notices that the skin peeking out from under the girl’s bandages is red and inflamed, maybe the result of some unspeakable abuse from her former master --- as soon as she thinks that she can’t help but shiver.
She doesn’t have any interest in continuing the conversation with the girl. The thought of a girl even younger than herself enduring such torture is simply too much.
Flum awkwardly stops talking. The girl, first looking Flum up and down, finally loses interest and slowly turns to look at the ground once more.
Just like that the two girls sit side by side, knees hugged to their chests, and stare at the grey all around them. Several nameless bugs squirm around on the floor, moving their countless legs beneath them. Normally Flum wouldn’t want to be anywhere near those unpleasant creatures, but now she does nothing but watch them.
Not long after that, the sound of footsteps approaches the cell. On the other side of the bars is none other than the slave merchant. Dragging the small chair closer to the metal bars he sits down, crosses his legs with an air of self-importance, and makes an announcement.
“Well then. I’m sure you’re all aware by now, but you're all defective since nobody'll buy you. Your very lives are worthless, in other words. I don’t have the luxury of being able to keep worthless meat here, so I’ll get rid of you all here and now.”
If he was only going to kill them, however, he wouldn’t need to make any preparations.
The corners of his mouth rise slightly.
“It cost me a pretty penny to get my hands on you, didn’t it? And up until now, how much money do you think I’ve lost feeding you? If you don’t at least make it entertaining for me in the end, doesn’t that seem unfair?”
The slaves don’t answer.
He wasn’t expecting much, but he can’t help but click his tongue in annoyance as he once again disappears from sight. He walks up to the circular valve sticking out from one of the walls, puts both his hands on it and begins turning it clockwise. As he does so, the sound of stone on stone emanates from the ceiling of the cell, and sand and pebbles start falling in.
Flum dumbly looks up at the sound, and just then --- thud, three somethings of roughly human size fall through the hole in the ceiling.
No, at one point they were humans, even if they're clearly not alive now. The corpses fall in a twisted heap in the middle of the room. Blood and an unknown clear fluid splatter everywhere, and the smell of rot soon fills the cell.
The various insects in the cell scatter at the impact, running aimlessly in circles.
Having finished with the valve, the merchant once again appears in front of the cell, a smug look on his face.
“Heh… Do you know what those things are? They’re ghouls, human corpses that move on instinct thanks to residual magic power. F-Rank monsters.”
The ghouls slowly rise to their feet with spastic movements, an unsettling squelching sound emanating from their rotting flesh. They jerkily swing their heads, searching for prey.
An unsettling cry comes from their rotting throats.
Flum knows a little about them from her time in the Hero’s party. Ghouls are only F-Rank, which makes them some of the weakest monsters. Their movements are slow and jerky, and their rotting bodies are surprisingly fragile.
“If you can kill these three, I’ll let you all out of there and sell you. You’ll have earned yourselves a slightly longer life, I suppose. But be careful, because ghouls…”
It isn’t rare to hear of novice adventurers who let down their guards and got their throats ripped out by these ‘weakest of monsters.’ Unarmed, inexperienced, ordinary people have no hope of beating them.
“Ah, I didn’t even get to finish and they’re already swarming.”
All at once, the three ghouls rush the woman sitting in human waste in the corner.
Ghouls move on the instinct of ‘hunger’. Always seeking to replace their rotten bodies with fresh flesh, they move only to devour human flesh.
Strands of saliva branching between their yellowed teeth, they open their mouths wide and bite into her flesh. The woman doesn’t even scream, only watching apathetically as the monsters tear into her. The first goes for her thighs, the second for her shoulders, the third for her face.
Crunch, munch, slurp --- the ghouls sloppily dig into their first meal.
Finally the woman’s body starts convulsing, bloody saliva escapes her lips, her head falls limply to the side, and she breathes her last. Her expression seems strangely content, finally having escaped all her suffering, and even after she dies the ghouls continue to greedily devour her.
Flum and the other two remaining slaves were ready to give up on their lives, but witnessing the woman’s death they come to a realization.
I don’t want to die yet...!
The only one of them still watching with disinterest is the bandaged girl.
The merchant smiles as despair starts to well up within the cell.
“Oh, how awful! Unless you do something, the same thing is going to happen to the rest of you, too! But you can’t beat ghouls bare-handed... Don’t you wish you had a weapon?”
Clearly enjoying himself, the merchant continues as if reading off a script.
“Oh, what’s that? There’s a giant sword on the wall over there! It looks really heavy... but wait, what if it’s Epic-tier and enchanted so that even weakling slaves could use it?”
It's obviously a trap, but they have no choice but to take the bait.
The only man in the cell runs over to the wall, gripping the hefty hilt.
Unable to even hold it up, the blade falls with a klang to the floor, sending small sparks flying. Of course there’s no way he could hold such a massive piece of metal with his thin, starved arms. The man obsessively maintains his grip on the handle, but unless he can call forth some desperate strength it’s all for nothing.
Responding to the sound, the ghouls start to expressionlessly close in on their next quarry. As much as he struggles, he can’t call up enough strength to lift the sword, let alone attack.
“Hahh, hahh, hahh…! I-I… I’m gonna live, and then… I’m gonna start my life… ov…”
The man’s voice, filled with false bravado, peters out.
The merchant cackles with glee.
“You put on a nice show. You must’ve worked hard for that --- you’re still going to suffer, though!”
“H… Hot… My body, it… AAAAAAAAARRGH!?”
The man suddenly starts screaming.
The skin on his hands peels away, exposing raw flesh and bone. His arms, shoulders, neck --- even his torso and legs concealed beneath his clothes meet the same horrific fate. His flesh starts to melt and run, and soon he's no longer recognizably human.
“Kuhahahahaha! Really, too bad! You really showed me you’ve got guts, but I forgot to mention that sword is cursed. A really nasty curse, one that melts your flesh just by holding it. Just the kind of thing you’d expect from such a creepy sword, isn’t it? Just like with that Flum girl, I was tricked into thinking it was a top-class Epic-tier weapon. Aah, I guess I don’t learn, do I? Well, it really is Epic-tier, so maybe I wasn’t scammed after all. Kuhahahaha, hyahahahahaha!”
Finding it all simply hilarious, the merchant lets out a full-bodied laugh, clapping his hands with glee.
“I guess since it’s become a valuable little prop for my little garbage-disposal show, you really can’t tell at first glance what’ll turn out to be useful, huh!”
While he talks, the ghouls close in on their next target --- not Flum or the bandaged girl but the other woman.
“Why are you coming over here…? Go away… Stay back, stay back!!”
The woman frantically tries to shoo them away as she scrambles backwards across the ground. Evidently finding the woman’s flailing to his liking, the merchant laughs loudly.
Against such an enemy and in a place where not even pleas can be used as a weapon, there’s no way to resist, no hope left in the cell.
The woman turns to her last resort.
“Please, save me! Please, I swear I’ll work hard! I’ll do everything I can to make sure I sell, so please...!”
Flinging herself at the bars, she presses her face against the gaps and begs for her life, throwing away the last of her pride and surrendering herself to the detestable man who put her in that situation in the first place. It’s better than being eaten by monsters or melting; as long as she makes it out alive.
“Please, I beg you, I beg you!!”
Hearing her pitiful plea, the merchant stands up, a kind smile on his face. He crouches down to her level and looks her straight in the eyes.
“Ah… You… You’ll save me?”
Seeing an expression on his face unlike anything she’s ever seen before, a small glimmer of hope sparks to life in her chest. In the end, even the merchant is human --- surely he still has some semblance of humanity left.
She looks at him with hopeful eyes, and he replies with one word.
He says coldly, without even changing his expression.
Pulling a long, thin knife from his belt, he drives the thin tip up through the soft part of her lower jaw.
The blade pierces the root of her tongue, passes through her nasal cavity, and reaches her brain.
“Ugh, what a smell! I can’t believe such a stench could come from a human! Well, I guess she’s not human anymore... Hah, saves me the pain of being called the same as the likes of her. Haha!”
Face still pressed against the bars, she slowly slips downwards, dragged by gravity. Propped up by the knife still sticking out of her jaw, she seems to watch him return to his chair. Noticing the expression still stuck on her face, he can’t help but laugh.
---The world is a very wide place.
She knew only a narrow slice of it, and leaving that little slice seemed to fill her with pain and suffering.
If only I’d never left... I never even wanted to be here!
Flum curses Origin for making her join the Hero’s party in the first place.
I don't care about some ‘prophecy’! Who would honestly believe I'm a ‘Chosen’!? If not for Origin I wouldn’t be in this mess!
From morning to noon she’d help with farmwork, have a warm lunch with her family, then in the afternoon she’d plan to keep on with her work but would be told by her parents to go play with her friends when they came to invite her. They’d make small-talk, go window shopping, and explore the nearby forest for pretty flowers until dark. She doesn’t have a lot of stamina so they’d have to take a lot of breaks, but everyone around her was nice enough to not blame her for things beyond her control. When she got home, it’d be time for dinner. Surrounded by smiles and warm conversation, she’d eventually fall asleep and wake up the next morning to find the start of another day just like it---
Those days were happy.
I never wanted anything more than that!
She almost never asked for anything selfish, and everyone told her that she was a good girl. Maybe she was a bit of an awkward child, and maybe she did give her parents a hard time due to her low stats. So what? All children trouble their parents every once in a while. The problems Flum caused were pretty insignificant overall, and once they’d even laughed and told her that they were glad to be able to baby her every once in a while.
She was never supposed to be eaten by ghouls. She was never supposed to die in a basement, suffering and screaming until the very end. This is all a mistake --- no matter how she looks at it, Origin made a huge mistake in choosing her.
“No… no… I don’t wanna die here… I didn’t do anything wrong!”
Anger and fear, terror and rage swirl and spin endlessly through Flum’s head as the ghouls draw closer, rotting flesh squishing and oozing with every movement, groaning terribly.
“No, you did. Did you forget lying to me? Letting that bastard run off with my money? Have you already forgotten that I can't sell you!? Lucky for you, I'll forgive you if you die.”
“That wasn’t me! I didn’t do it, that wasn’t my fault, I didn’t do anything wrong!”
She was sold, turned into a slave, and is about to be killed.
I'm the victim here! He can't just shove all the responsibility onto me, can he!?
“No, it’s ALL your fault. It’s your fault for being sold for so much and your fault for being so worthless.”
---The world shouldn’t allow this.
Why is it that in this basement, the merchant’s words are the ‘truth’? Why is the real truth being smothered into nothingness?
At this rate Flum will die and powerlessly, ingloriously, unhappily become a corpse even more twistedly grotesque than the one that used to be the woman in the corner. Nobody would mourn her death like that, nobody would feel sad. Not even her parents would ever learn her fate. Her slave-marked body would probably disappear into a trash heap somewhere, never to be seen again.
Anything but that.
“If you don’t want to be eaten, I guess your only option is to pick up a weapon and try to fight, isn’t it? Ahahaha!”
Lying there on the ground a few infinitely large steps away is the black greatsword. Beside it is the pearly skeleton of the slave man, resting in a pool of his own flesh.
Give up, get eaten, and die.
Resist, melt, and die.
In the end, she’ll die no matter what she chooses. Face twisted with suffering, screaming and protesting, in the end, she’ll die. There’s nothing she can do.
But… maybe if she dies holding the sword, dying because she tried to fight back, the truth might be a little easier to bear.
Either way, the bandaged girl will die right after her so the only person who will remember her last stand will be the merchant.
It’s certainly better than just getting laughed at and dying, though.
“Ugh… uuuuu… Uuuuuuurrgh...!”
Flum slowly stands up.
She’s not exactly athletic to begin with and she’s starving, so she barely has any strength left. On top of that, she’s been the merchant’s punching bag for the past week and her injuries are still fresh.
She finally manages to stand, trembling and bowlegged.
The merchant watches her with a bemused smirk.
Gritting her teeth, she puts all her strength into her legs.
She takes a step forward. It’s not a big step, but it's forward.
At this rate the ghouls will reach her before she can reach the sword.
“Ha… agh, ah… Aaaagh…!”
Even so --- facing such unfair odds, she repeats her old mantra from her days in the Hero’s Party in her head.
Even so, even so, even so---!
Crushing her weakness with those words, she takes another step. As she starts to slowly build momentum, she thinks she can feel her stride growing longer.
Unfortunately, no amount of courage alone is enough to break through the nightmare she's in. A ghoul reaches her side before she realizes it, latching onto her with its festering arms .
Pulled with a strength far exceeding her own, she can feel her body leaning back.
It pulls its face up to her left shoulder and opens its mouth horrifically wide, its filthy brown teeth glisten with saliva, and it bites into her.
Its teeth break through the cloth and into her skin, causing hot red blood to pour out.
“Aaaaaagh! Kh, hahh, uugh…!”
The ghoul shakes its head back and forth, digging itself in deep before tearing out a chunk of flesh.
Pain shoots through her shoulder, causing her face to twist with pain. Unable to withstand it, she hits the cold stone floor before she realizes she’s falling.
Even so, she keeps her eyes fixed on the sword.
Giving up on her numb left arm, she crawls forward on her remaining arm and legs, inching ever closer to the weapon.
“Keep it up, you’re almost there~!”
The merchant calls out mockingly.
The bandaged girl watches at Flum with disinterest, her eyes empty and disinterested.
“Uu, uuugh… uu, uuugh, g-guuuuugh…!”
Breathing roughly through her nose, fighting the pain, she slowly draws closer to the sword.
The other two ghouls soon catch up, and one of them flops onto the ground, digging its teeth into her right calf.
The first ghoul digs its teeth in, pulls out a chunk of tender flesh, and swallows. The second ghoul bites into her left thigh. The last ghoul, the one that had started on her shoulder, starts to gnaw on her heels.
There’s no way she can use her legs anymore --- only her right arm.
She’s lost so much blood that her body feels cold, but she still manages to break out in a cold sweat. Her lungs tremble as she breathes, but no matter how much oxygen they suck in her pain doesn’t lessen.
She can feel her consciousness start to leave her. She could pass out from the pain at any moment, and it's almost surprising her heart is still beating after so much abuse.
That’s why the miracle that follows is probably thanks to her determination alone.
The tip of her middle finger on her right hand grazes the hilt of the sword.
Flum extends her arm even further, gripping the handle firmly.
Finally, she can melt and die.
The ghouls continue to devour her numb legs. Her bare flesh and bones are coated in her own blood. Even if the ghouls stopped she’d doubtlessly die due to her injuries.
The important thing is that she chose the sword of her own will --- she somehow feels a sense of accomplishment.
Closing her eyes, the pain seems to fade away all at once. She even feels warmth, and her body grows oddly light.
It seems as though she’s already begun to pass on.
She can hear the merchant’s voice, but Flum will soon be far outside the merchant's reach.
“What the hell’s going on?”
…Or so she thought.
“What the hell… Why the hell are her wounds disappearing!?”
Hearing his confusion and growing curious, Flum hardens her resolve and opens her eyes.
She notices the ghouls have backed away from her and are just standing there, stock still. They seem just as confused as rest of them.
Even more surprising is that her legs, half-devoured only moments before, are now completely healed. Even her shoulder is back to normal.
Flum holds her left hand up to her face, opening and closing it just to see if it moves.
Finally she pinches her cheek and pulls.
It’s not an illusion, nor a dream, which means that this lightness she feels in her body---
She stands up and lifts the sword single-handedly.
It’s certainly not light, but she can hold it.
She’s supposed to be helplessly weak, but now she’s holding a sword four-fifths her height with one hand.
“I think I get it now…”
She understands what's happening even though she doesn’t understand why.
She didn’t give up.
Even when faced with absolute despair, even if it meant dragging herself along the ground, she did everything she could to fulfill her dying wish.
“...It’s okay for me to be alive.”
The power now flowing through her body is no doubt thanks to that resolve.
“That’s right… Yeah. That’s right. I didn’t do anything wrong, so I can’t die in a place like this… I've got to live.”
The ghouls slowly start to advance on Flum, their hesitation already gone.
Closing her eyes, she exhales deeply, sharpens her senses, puts strength into her swordarm, and by her own will she advances to meet them.
She has nothing to worry about. The sword's reach is much greater than the ghouls’.
Just like she’d learned from that former party member, if she waits carefully for the right moment to swing---
The upper halves of three ghouls’ bodies go flying through the air, enough driving force behind the blade to cut through all three ghouls as if they weren't even there --- definitely not the kind of strike that a girl with a Strength of 0 could make.
The sword itself clearly had something to do with it, but at the moment, Flum has something else on her mind.
The important thing right now is escaping the basement alive.
She approaches the locked door of the cell and swings downwards with all her strength.
The weight of the sword alone creates a tremendous amount of force as it cleaves the lock of the cell, and with a screech the door swings open.The slave merchant looks up at her in terror.
“W-Wait! You can leave, you can leave right now! J-Just spare my life…!”
Just a moment ago he was watching the slaves die and laughing, and now he’s the one begging for his life.
It’s not like she has a real reason to kill him now. She has no intention of becoming a murderer. If it turns out the merchant is anyone important, there’s a fair chance she’ll become a wanted criminal.
For a slave it’s suicide, plain and simple.
---she decides to stab his right shoulder first.
The broad blade brilliantly severs his arm, and after falling to the ground it twitches briefly before stopping moving completely.
“AAAAAARGH!? M-My aaaaarm!!”
Next, the bloody black blade pierces his left shoulder.
His screams echo throughout the underground room.
Flum is so calm she surprises herself. She’s never killed someone before, yet she feels as guilty as she would cutting up a steak. It's not surprising --- the slave merchant just went out of his way to prove that he's inhuman, after all.
Just as she drives the sword into his left leg, she remembers how just a little while ago he’d kicked her with that leg, over and over again.
It had really hurt.
Her stomach was bruised black and blue, and she hurt to the point where she hadn’t even been able to swallow the scrap of mouldy bread he gave her.
“Ugh, urk…! P-Please--- Gaaah!!”
It’s the same with his right leg --- it’s just fat, flesh, and a femur. Once cut off it’s just a bone with meat on it, but just being attached to that man makes it an instrument for spreading pain and misfortune.
It’s only natural for him to lose it if he’s going to misuse it.
“P-Please… forgive me...”
His voice is weak as rivers of blood flow freely from his four fresh wounds, his breath thin and ragged.
Flum can’t help but feel discontent at the thought of him dying of blood loss.
She swings the sword straight down from above, splitting his head clean in half. The black blade, already covered in blood and fat, cleaves him straight through to his jaw.
His cranium opens like a flower in bloom. Blood and cerebrospinal fluid flow out.
He’s far filthier than the woman whom he’d called filth minutes before. An unpleasant smell fills the air.
Flum is still surprisingly calm; not only does she not flinch away from the sight before her eyes but she still doesn’t feel any guilt.
It felt just like cutting apart those ghouls.
Yes, all she did was kill a monster that looked a lot like a human.
It made no sense to make out the merchant different from the ghouls, since he was even more rotten.
A perfectly logical conclusion.
I’m fine, I’m normal, I haven’t lost it.
I’m not mad --- I just see things a little differently after this week from hell.
The greatsword in Flum's hand never had a sheath to begin with. Even though she can carry it one-handed, she can’t just walk around town like this.
How should I store this?
At that moment, the sword turns into motes of light and disappears.
On the back of her right hand, a red crest appears.
“Oh, I guess he did say it was Epic, didn’t he… Cyrill also had the kind of sword that you could put away just by thinking.”
This is one of the unique properties of Epic-tier equipment.
Equipment is divided into the five categories of Common, Uncommon, Rare, Legend, and Epic, and the closer it is to Epic the higher its abilities tend to be. Just like a person or monster’s Status, one can check the tier and properties of equipment through Scan. With Epic equipment, the wielder can store or retrieve it from an extradimensional space simply by thinking, but since not only are the base abilities high but transporting it is extremely easy, Epic equipment is ludicrously expensive.
It’s not the sort of thing that a slave merchant would normally be able to afford --- but it was probably sold to him relatively cheaply after it absorbed the hatred of humans and became cursed.
As long as she doesn’t have to walk around in public with her sword out, the details don’t really matter, though.
Having successfully secured her new sword, she turns back to look at the cell.
The bandaged girl is sitting there wordlessly, watching her.
Flum walks back into the cage and extends her hand.
The girl cocks her head to the side, not understanding. Her dried-out bandages tremble along with her head.
“Don’t just look at me like that. Let’s escape together.”
“The merchant’s dead, so there’s no real reason to be here, is there?”
The girl simply stares at Flum’s face in silence. Her eyes really are pretty, but they have no emotion in them, and it’s impossible to tell what she’s thinking.
“Really, it’d be bad if anyone found out that I killed that guy. C’mon, let’s go!”
Unable to wait any longer, Flum grabs the girl and pulls her to her feet and starts leading her out of the cell and out of the basement.
“Will you… become my Master, then?”
Flum stops dead in her tracks.
“I wasn’t really planning on it, no.”
All Flum did was try to help her escape and somehow she arrives at that conclusion.
“But you’re taking me with you, aren’t you? You’re going to use me, too, aren’t you?”
“Am I wrong? If not, why would you take me with you? If you’re not my Master, then I have no idea what to do.”
Flum remembers what she’d felt from the girl when they first spoke.
She’s completely different from Flum, a slave at her roots. She’s likely been a slave since birth, so maybe the only relationship she's ever had before was that of master and slave.
To be honest, Flum doesn’t have any real reason for wanting to help the girl escape. If she had to say, it might be that she’d feel disheartened and lonely without anyone else around, nothing else --- but maybe she wouldn’t have even realized it if the girl hadn’t asked her.
“Fine, I’ll be your master from now on. Now will you come with me?”
The girl nods.
‘Is that really all it takes!?’ Flum retorts inwardly.
“Well then, I guess I should introduce myself. I’m Flum Apricot, sixteen years old. You?”
“My name is Milkit. I’m fourteen years old. It’s a pleasure to meet you, Master.”
Milkit bows deeply.
“Uh… yeah… Nice to meet you, Milkit.”
Not sure how to respond to her new title, she just grabs Milkit’s hand and starts running again.
They climb the staircase, leaving the gloomy basement behind, and look for the exit to the merchant's base.
Just being away from the smell of corpses is enough to raise their spirits.
It isn’t long before they find a door that looks like it leads outside.
Not wanting to walk out onto the street in their beaten rags, they ‘liberate’ some cloaks from their hooks. They get dressed and head outside.
Shortly after leaving, they come across the small square, the one where Jean had sold Flum. She stops as the memories come back to life --- but noticing Milkit watching her with doll-like eyes, she starts to move her feet again.
Remembering the route Jean had lead her down, they arrive at the main street. Suddenly finding people all around them, she lets out a deep breath… they can relax now.
Inhaling the air of a respectable place once more, Flum feels deeply relieved that she’s finally returned to the life of a normal human being.
|Back to Previous Chapter||Return to Main Page||Forward to Next Chapter|