Dealing with the stallkeeper was easier than I thought. The mental aspect of it, not the physical method.
I expected hesitation, even for me. They weren’t NPCs in a game, they were real living people. In the end, I didn’t really feel anything.
Had the past month twist me so much? Or had I fully adopt the mindset of a monster? At any rate, all life, to me, was separated into three neat boxes: allies, enemies, and the uninvolved. I could not see the world in any other way.
Well, it’s too late for contemplation now. I’d already killed bandits and merchants, after all.
[Shedy] [Race: Mistral] [Lesser Demon (Low-Rank)] ・The demon of bewitching mist that dances upon the northern seas. A canny spiritual lifeform. [Magic Points: 752/755] 5↑ [Total Combat Power: 830/830] 5↑ [Unique Skill: <Reroll> <Cyber-Manipulation> ] [Racial Skill: Fear] [Simple Identification] [Humanoid Form (Adept)] [Expert Packer]
I had Blobsy dispose of the corpse before people could discover him and raise a fuss. I exited the thicket and went back to the road, looking as innocent as an angel.
If I took him to be the standard for non-combatant citizens, I was quite sure I could massacre a hundred of them without any problems. But there was no guarantee all humans were similarly terrible. And I didn’t even have the spare time to be going around killing anyway.
Twenty-six days of borrowed time left.
I needed to find the two other magic stones and reach the World Tree by then.
So anyway, I didn’t expect my ears to be exposed so easily.
It’s true that I still hadn’t gotten used to having a human body yet, but was I really that eye-catching? Back on Earth, I used to get curious looks all the time for being albinic. However, people in this world had more than just black, blond, or brown hair – there were silver, deep-blue, scarlet, and many other colors too. I didn’t think I would stand out here.
The form I was currently taking was the image of myself that I had. Except I didn’t look emaciated and full of bruises. I was looking completely healthy for my age, so there’s even less of a reason for people to take notice.
I wondered why I was different from my memory of how I used to look like. Perhaps I had subconsciously ‘optimized’ myself?
And the results of the optimization included rabbit ears…? And I didn’t just have the ears. I only realized when changing in the second-hand clothing store that I also had a rabbit’s tail, around the size of a human fist, above my butt.
Why. Why were the ears and tail necessary???
Well, what’s done is done. I’d just have to hide the ears with my coat’s hood.
I still had around 10 silvers and a few small silvers taken from the bandits. I’d really prefer to have some more funds, though… that shopkeeper woman and the guards really put a dent to my wallet.
They’ll get what’s coming to them sooner or later.
It was getting late, but I had no intention to rent a room in a village that treated every outsiders as bags of coins. Even if the innkeeper looked like a nice person, if they saw my rabbit ears, they might still decide to barge into my room at midnight with a stick.
So I hid myself in one of the thickets dotting the village. Once night came, I stealthily moved towards the fields.
Here, unlike Earth’s polluted night sky, the stars alone were plenty bright enough to light my way. Well, it wasn’t like I actually needed the light to be able to see.
I transformed into a quasi-misty human shape to not leave behind any footsteps, and floated towards a small shack adjacent to the fields. There were around 10 people inside, judging from the magical signals.
The shack – it was closer to a storage room, really – wasn’t locked. The door looked like it would break from a single swing of a handaxe anyway. I peeked through the gap and saw only men. Demihumans, from early teens all the way until around fifty-years old.
There was no floor, only hardened dirt. I saw what looked like straw-beds in the back. Everyone looked hygienic enough, but they were only wearing some shabby work clothes. They were sitting around a small fire set in the center of the storage room, tiredly waiting for the pot of vegetables to finish cooking.
Besides the walls and roofs, this was no different from camping in the wilds.
Six canine beastmen, three felines, one elf. All of them were below 100 in power, though that still probably made them stronger than the human villagers.
I opened the door and stepped inside. Around half of them instantly noticed. They looked up.
“…who are you? What does a kid like you want with us?” A beastman sitting by the fireside asked, looking tired but cautious. He looked closer to a wolf than a dog. “We may be slaves, but we’re not toys for you kids to play with even into the night…”
“That’s not why I’m here.”
I took off my hood. The group of beastman gasped as they saw my drooping ears.
“You’re a canine-type… no. A rabbit? I’ve never heard of that beastman race before.”
The wolf beastman looked over to the elven man, who frowned and shook his head.
“Neither have I. Although… I had heard that during my grandfather’s time, there lived more than just the current canine and feline beastman races. However, these other races had all been hunted down to be pets for the humans. They were supposed to have already gone extinct a few hundred years ago.”
“There were survivors…?”
They looked at me with skeptical eyes. I shook my head.
“I don’t know what I am. All I knew was that all my fellows had died. I’d been hiding myself on my journey until now.”
“I see… You must’ve had a rough time too, girl.”
“Don’t mind me. I just have a few things I wanted to ask.”
I told them the humans stole something from me, and that I was on a journey to get it back. Then I asked them about the barrier around this village and about the bigger cities.
“I think the barrier came from the magitool to repel monsters that was in the mayor’s house… As for the cities, you better not go, young lady. With looks like that, plus how rare your race is, you’re going to get enslaved right off the bat. Those damn bastards think that anything not human were their livestock.”
“Why didn’t you run?”
A feline beastman, who’ve been quietly listening until now, scowled in self-derision. He spat out words like they were poison.
“Don’t you see these collars, girlie? As long as they were still on our necks, they would choke us once we get too far from the mayor’s magitool. The women were taken somewhere else… even my daughter caught the mayor’s eyes. I didn’t know where he took her. We’re fated to work here until our deaths…”
“Are you giving up?”
“Watch your mouth, girl! What do you know?!”
I moved to his back in a flash, before the outraged feline could stand up. My dagger touched his neck.
The feline beastman was shocked still. As the wolf beastman glared daggers at me, I threw the dagger I was holding to his feet.
“…what do you want?”
“For you. If you’re tired of living, why not kill yourself? Faster that way.”
All their breathing hitched. I could see anger simmering in their eyes.
Unconcerned, I dropped a few more daggers at their feet, then turned my back on them and walked toward the door.
“I’m going to a human city. Maybe after I break a few of the mayor’s toys. Those are for you. Whether you use them to die or to live, that’s up to you.”
Even after I left the storage room, none of them were moving. None of them so much as said a word.
I headed toward the large mansion that seemed to be the mayor’s house, where I had detected a rather strong magical signal during the morning. There were no guards. Perhaps these people had absolute trust on the monster repellant magitool. However, as I infiltrated under the cover of darkness, I did encounter a few floating ‘fireflies’. I crushed them all, just in case.
According to No. 01’s information, these firefly-looking things were the corporation’s observation drones. The drones’ design emphasized stealth, so even wild birds could break them. Me destroying them here wouldn’t be a problem. I would have liked to get some intel from the drones, but as of the moment, my power wasn’t enough to do it.
I walked directly to the front doors. I dispersed my right arm, moving the mist through the cracks, then re-solidify to unlock the bolt from the inside.
The mayor’s mansion was incredibly bright, despite the fact that this world was supposed to be similar to Earth’s medieval ages. There were magical lights all over the place. I saw a few other magitools that looked like modern electrical appliances, too.
There were no fireplaces, yet the place still felt somewhat warm. Were there air conditioners, too?
The lights were on, yet no one was around. A closer look revealed a note on a table. According to it, the mayor’s wife had gone drinking in the shopping district and wouldn’t be back until morning.
This village was being pretty extravagant in using mana, I see…
The magical signal I detected was under me. I scoured the mansion to find a path down. As I descended the stairs, I heard the whimpering of a girl, together with a man’s chuckles.
“Heheheh, come now, we’re only getting started.”
A middle-aged man was whipping a young beastman girl with what looked to be a riding crop, his other hand holding a bottle of alcohol. The girl was curling up, sobbing in pain.
Deeper into the room, I saw an altar emanating magic. As I approached, the drunken man – the mayor, most likely – realized my presence.
“What, just a little beastman girl? Come clos-urgk!”
Oh, right, my hood was still down.
I repeated my mist-hand-into-lungs trick again, making sure to drain him dry to his soul. He writhed, his face deathly pale, his hands scrabbling to tear out his throat. Finally, the mummy collapsed.
Seeing his death, the girl squeaked. I ignored her and took a nearby handaxe to smash apart all the magitools on the altar.
The room felt so much cleaner now.
The mansion’s lights were off. I wonder why? I wasn’t paying attention when they started getting shut down.
The girl hesitantly called after me. She still seemed to be seeing well enough in the dark room. I paid no attention to her, moving up the stairs to exit the mansion.
The faint magical pressure that I could feel everywhere in the village was flickering. It probably wouldn’t take more than a few days before monsters started attacking this place.
Not like I had the time to worry about those beastmen, anyway.
On a closer look, the house lights dotting the village were all gone, too. Screams sounded out here and there. Maybe there was a fuse-box analogue among the tools on the altar?
I wasn’t sure whether the altar had the magitool monitoring the slave collars or not, and I had no intention of verifying that, either. With the village in chaos, I disappeared into the darkness, seeking the neighboring town that had the stagecoach to the capital.
‘Ah, sorry, Blobsy. No snacks for you this time.’