Chapter 14 – The Way a Certain Beast Girl was Broken Part 2
「Minaris, and Maris. Is it true that you’re both wererabbits?」
She couldn’t comprehend the words that she had just heard.
「I’ll ask again. Is it true that you, parent and child, are beastmen?」
The words spoken once again by the village elder penetrated her blank head.
(Whywhywhywhy!? Eh, why did he suddenly say that!?)
What filled her spinning mind was a storm of questions. She couldn’t process the information. She couldn’t understand what was happening.
With her thoughts in disorder, the girl instinctively turned towards her mother as though to ask for help.
Her mother had on a grim expression. Looking as if she had come to some sort of decision, she released the illusion was constantly cast on herself.
The villagers parted simultaneously, and the look in their eyes changed in an instant.
It was the same look they would give the many goblin corpses that they exterminated.
Those gazes were concentrated on them by the villagers who had, until yesterday, treated them intimately like family.
Listening to the words that changed one after another, the confusion in her head increased at an accelerated pace.
She looked up in a daze. The village chief’s eyes held a cold gaze she had never once seen before until now, and they were full of contempt.
This terror overshadowed the Ice Goblin she confronted yesterday; those eyes were scary.
「As you can see, we are wererabbits. I’m sorry for keeping quiet about it.」
Seeing the figure of her mother, who had been flung to the bare ground, saying that with her head lowered, she finally understood that the villagers were directing malicious gazes toward her.
「So what Lucia told us was true……」
「Eh, Lucia did!? That… You’re lying!!」
Lucia had promised yesterday. She had said she would keep it a secret.
She surveyed her surroundings, wanting to be told that it was a lie. Her childhood friends stood among the 15~16 villagers.
However, the one she was looking for wasn’t there.
Looking this way as though he was looking at trash was her other childhood friend, Keril. And then, trying to cuddle close to him, spreading gossip without being seen by the boy, was Lucia’s figure.
「Wh…y…? Didn’t you say you would keep it a secret!!」
When the girl spontaneously cried out, Lucia clung to Keril whilst putting on a frightened facade.
「Lucia, it’s alright so calm down.」
Saying that, Keril pat Lucia’s back gently and then glared at the girl with an even harsher look.
「Oi, don’t torment Lucia any more than this!! I couldn’t believe it when I first heard, but you really are the worst!! I misjudged you!!」
「Wha!? Just what…」
「Don’t play dumb!! I heard everything from Lucia!! You’ve always been tormenting her!! She cried, saying you threatened her into silence with that beastman power of yours.「
She realised that her words had actually ceased, that she had become speechless. Rather than her voice, her thoughts had stopped as though the very existence of words inside her mind had disappeared.
「Village chief, I don’t care what happens to me, however, please… Won’t you please spare this child? At least, at least until this child reaches her 18th birthday…」
Throughout that, Maris hugged her daughter with her head lowered.
Maris had decided to do this yesterday when she heard the story from her daughter. Her daughter would be unable to flee the village while bringing her, as she had a weak constitution. However, she clearly understood that her daughter would, no matter what she said, never leave her behind and escape. Thus, Maris frantically bowed her head for her daughter’s sake.
「Stop kidding!! This filthy beast!!」
What Maris faced in reply were abusive words and stones picked up off the ground.
「That’s right, stop joking around!!」
「You’ve been deceiving us this whole time, how disgusting!!」
「An animal shouldn’t be imitating other people!!」
Once the first person started, cutting insults and pebbles continued to rail incessantly down on the two.
「Please, just this child…!?」
A largish rock mixed in with the pebbles that came flying hit Maris on the forehead, causing her to bleed.
The girl reflexively covered her mother as though to protect her.
The illusion on the girl was also released amid the extreme chaos, and her tail and ears appeared. Even so, the girl simply continued to shield her mother.
The girl’s mother was once affected by an epidemic and managed to recover somehow, but she lost the physical tenaciousness of a beastman and became a mere shadow of her former self. She was weakened to the extent where she would be wounded by having rocks thrown at her by ordinary villagers with no training experience whatsoever.
「Stop, stop it everyone, STOP ITTTT!!」
The girl’s wailing echoed throughout the village square, but it was repressed with a wave of jeers.
「Shut up, the spawn of a monster should stay silent!!」
「Don’t speak with the words of humans, you beast.」
「Die, why are you alive, hurry up and die already!!」
Creak, crack. She understood that a dark fissure was forming in her heart.
It felt like she was being struck with the pointed stake* from before.
Why? What’s the reason? No, it hurts; her heart hurt more than her body.
When she looked around from her crouching position, she saw Keril throwing rocks in support of the villagers, not to mention still glaring at her with an intense look. She also saw Lucia clutching at Keril’s sleeve while hiding behind him so he couldn’t see the twisted, mocking smile on her face.
And then her head, body, and heart finally understood.
She had been betrayed. She had been betrayed, she had been betrayed, she had been betrayed, she had been betrayed!!
Tears welled up. The stones hailing down on her body had driven a wedge in her cracked heart. Right before her heart completely broke, the momentum of the rain of stones stopped.
「What is this commotion about!?」
The ones who appeared were the men of the village.
The men seemed to have returned from their expedition earlier than expected, and although it wasn’t much, they brought with them some hunted game.
「Fa…ther… *sniffle* Father!!」
Despite her vision being blurred with tears, she still saw her father among the people who returned.
The girl felt reassured; she would be saved with this. Her father was an influential man in the village and was expected to be its next chief.
Relief swelled inside her when she saw him discuss something with the villagers. Ah, she was sure to be saved with this…
「You’re wrong!! I have nothing to do with this, I didn’t know!!」
When she turned around, her world was turned upside-down. It warped and collapsed.
「I was deceived by this woman!! Damn this filthy beastman.」
Her ears turned deaf. Her eyes lost sight. Her nose was ineffective. She couldn’t feel a thing.
「What is this. Eh? What… is this…」
Kashan. In the end, she felt like she heard the sound of something breaking.
Then, the girl’s world completely collapsed.
When she came to, the girl was being jolted around on the wagon of a slave trader.
In her dim world, she faintly recalled being sold off for dirt-cheap by the being she thought was her “Father”.
The reason the girl regained her will despite being on the brink of becoming a cripple was because of the presence of her mother beside her.
A parent-and-child beastmen couple, they couldn’t expect decent treatment even as merchandise.
The meals they were given were clearly inferior to the other slaves’. They were whipped and abused for no reason or meaning. They were forced to use the dirty water after the others had bathed, or even kicked and called “smelly” and “dirty” without being given a chance to bathe.
Using the excuse of them being beastmen, and thus having the superior physical ability, they were chained to the moving wagon and made to run while being dragged along.
The feeling of not wanting to become a burden to her weakened mother was the only thing that sustained the crushed girl’s spirit.
However, no matter how much the girl tried to avoid burdening her mother, it was nothing more than pouring water on hot stone. The beautiful girl’s mother became worn-down as though she had been filed with a rasp.
The slave trader chose the girl’s mother as a sacrifice.
Saying, “the beastmen are being tormented,” and, “they receive worse treatment than yourselves,” he made a display of them to let the other slaves vent.
Just like the slave trader expected, the other slaves sneered when they saw them.
They watched the girl being lashed, watched the mother being lifted up by her hair, and watched the two being sent flying with a kick to the back. They sneered, as though they were watching an interesting play.
It was half a year after the girl had been bought by the slave trader; when they were halfway to the royal capital, the girl’s mother became unable to move.
The girl’s world became hollow once again, and she fell into this vacant world.
She stopped caring about mud being mixed into her food. She became numb to the lashes and abuse. She also lost the motivation to resist when they covered her in mud and called it bathing.
「Tch, so she broke. Brittle despite being a beastman, geez. There are nobles who like this kind of thing so there’s no hope for her future, really.」
The girl simply gazed at the sighing slave trader with vacant eyes.
「At any rate, your mother went and died of her own accord. Why do I have to lose the purchased money for you beastmen, damnit.」
With a jolt, the broken fragments reacted to the slave trader’s words.
The question arose, like poison gradually welling up.
(Why? What did I do wrong? Since when was I wrong? What should I do to make it better?)
The questions that started to overflow in one go as though spouting out made the wreckage that lost its light change into gooey magma.
(Who’s fault is it? Why am I here? Who am I? What am I here to do? What is this feeling?)
The fragments that remained all turned to magma.
Magma that became a warped, deformed, grotesque shape, as though wriggling, as though twisting around, as though it was churning.
And then the reformed heart had only one genuine emotion.
「Ah, I… want to break them.」
Just as she recognized the words she unconsciously let out, the frozen emotion came gushing forth.
It was hate.
Hate, hate, hate, hate, hate, hate, hate, hate, hate. Just hate.
I hate Lucia, I hate Keril, I hate the one who was her father, I hate the village chief, I hate the villagers.
I hate the slave trader who made a laughingstock of mother and me, I hate the slaves who sneered at us when we were ridiculed by the slave trader.
I’d like to torture, I’d like to injure, I won’t forgive them, I’d like to break it, I’d like to twist, I’d like to gouge, I’d like to snatch away, I’d like to pulverise, I’d like to crush, I’d like to smash, I’d like to slash, I’d like to make them choke, I’d like to burn, I’d like to skin, I would like to stab, I’d like to tear, I’d like to kill, I’d like to kill, I’d like to kill, I’d like to kill, KILL KILL KILL KILL KILL KILL!!
The inside of her heart was simply filled to the brim with just that.
After that, she stopped listening to a single thing the slave trader said.
Each time she showed a rebellious attitude, she was punished through various means, but still the fever that burned inside her wouldn’t forgive them.
Even if she was tortured and punished to the point where she could no longer move, even if she was on the brink of death, that fever was the only thing that wouldn’t disappear.
Arriving at the royal capital, her glaring hostility did not wane despite pain being transmitted through the slave crest.
Before long, the days of simply being chained to the wall without sufficient food, clothing, or bathing started. The days where she just deludes herself, fantasizing about achieving revenge with the utmost cruelty in her fantasies. She stopped being given even a single meal a day, as though they thought it was not needed if she was going to be disposed of when those days soon came to a close.
She might die like this. No, she was sure to die.
The fever that did not disappear even when she was on the brink of being able to sense death writhed inside her body.
No matter how tenacious a beastman, if they did not have the minimal amount of food at least, they wouldn’t last long. Already her consciousness grew hazy, and she could feel nothing but the heat inside her feverish body.
「Yeah, as I thought, you have beautiful eyes.」
Amid that, a voice resonated within her still-burning dim consciousness.
Before her eyes was an unfamiliar person; no ability to think rationally remained, and she could only conclude that he was the same as the several nobles who had turned up when they first arrived in the capital.
Without the strength to rage like she did back then, she could only intimidate him by glaring at him with bare hostility.
But even so, she felt a hint of something familiar in the man’s pupils that drew her in for some reason.
「Do…n’t touch… Hu…man.」
Her mouth, which was bereft of moisture, moved and forced out some words.
Then, pain ran throughout her body, causing her already hazy vision to flicker even more.
It felt like an old wound was being forcibly gouged out. A scream was squeezed out as though it was wrung out from that part of her body.
Just when she thought the waves of pain had lessened, an unknown bottle of liquid was thrust into her mouth.
The liquid she was forced to swallow without her having the strength to resist or spit out allowed her emaciated body to recover from its languid state.
Her magic always felt insufficient due to not having decent meals or rest, but now it even managed to recover to about half.
「With this, you’ll be able to talk for a little while.」
The girl couldn’t comprehend the meaning behind the man’s words. Generally speaking, with her cognitive ability restored, she understood that what she was made to drink were HP and MP potions.
Neither of them were things to give to a slave girl. In general, although it wasn’t beyond one’s grasp, they were something that could be considered to have quite a high price.
To the girl, this was enough to make her wary of some trap, thus, she received a shock when she heard the words that came next.
「Who do you want to kill?」
The shock was similar to the one from when her mother died, when she was prompted by the slave trader’s words, and realized that her heart had reconstructed itself.
「You, who do you want to take revenge on?」
That man―that young boy seemed no different from herself when she peered into his eyes; the girl understood why she felt a sense of familiarity and was drawn to those pupils.
What was there was something similar to the fever that she had seen burning inside her for a long time.
The familiarity was natural. As for why, it was because of the eyes that were the same as hers.
That was why the girl spoke spontaneously.
「The girl who was my friend and… the boy who was my childhood friend and… dad and… the village chief and… the slave trader and the slaves.」
「Do you only want to kill them?」
She realized it was a mocking tone of voice, and yet she sensed the signs of him wanting her to speak.
However, such a thing was trivial to the girl.
It was a desire she had repeated in her delusions many times and, before long, had been etched not in her reasoning, but in her instincts.
「It’s no good to just kill them, it’s no good unless I torment, torture, make them scream, slowly deprive them of sleep, then break, break, break them to exhaustion. To simply kill them, that’s too much of a waste.」
Saying that, the girl smiled for the first time since becoming a slave.
The boy before her also smiled at the words that gushed out from the depths of her heart.