Trusting a stranger was the gateway to danger.
While this saying wasn’t exactly right, it had some sense to it. Wasn’t that how all these girls ended up here? By trusting Duran.
Being bitten by a snake once ended up with over 10 years of fearing ropes as a result. Being cheated and thus seeing everyone as a liar…while these were over-generalizing matters, they were to be expected. A person who had been traumatized wouldn’t see thing the same way as a normal person would. The more serious cases would even involve delusions.
Duran could be said to be an extremely successful liar. Before his true identity was uncovered, no one would have ever suspect him of being so evil. If one cannot even trust a human, trusting a devil like me would probably be even harder…
Their suspicion was something that I could understand and unfortunately couldn’t do a thing about. Thanks to that, the atmosphere at the table had gotten worse, forcing me to hasten the process of releasing them.
As they say, the rabbit doesn’t feed on the grass near its nest. Duran was no exception either. He would never target those nearby his villa, but instead head to the further cities to kidnap girls. Out of the 20 odd girls, the closest city they came from was two cities away from us.
In order to dispel their distrust, concrete action was required. Right after dinner, Ancarin led the girls on a looting spree throughout the villa while I watched over Duran.
Surprisingly, she seemed to have a talent for being a bandit. In just under a day, the entire villa was scoured, its valuables looted and stacked in front of me. In total, over 10,000 gold coins were found. As for magical tools, they found 17 scrolls, nearly a hundred potions, 12 enchanted gears of which 3 were high-grade enchanted gears.
Half of the gold was given out to the girls as travel expenses and as compensation for their traumatic experience. After doing the math, each of them would get 300 gold coins.
Gold coins had a significant purchasing power within the Western Human Realms; as a comparison, one gold coin was worth 1,000 Chinese Yuan (150 USD, keep in mind the difference in living standards and costs). 300 gold coins was definitely a huge sum of money for these peasant girls, though it still wasn’t enough to make up for what they had to go through.
However, at least with this sum of money, they’ll be able to find a decent man who won’t despise them. Of course, this does not rule out any further misfortunes.
(Author Note’s: Gold coins have been set as the common currency within the Western Human Realms in order to avoid any unnecessary confusion. It can be taken that the three major empires have jointly issued this currency.)
The moment I handed them their gold and sent them on their way, I noticed a visible change in their attitudes. Some wore a look of disbelief while others broke down and weeped. Some cheered while some stood confused…either way, there was a whole gamut of emotions.
There was even a girl who rejected the money as she feared I would take her soul for doing so…this story seemed to have made its way around, even crossing the barriers between worlds…
After sending them off, I turned around to find that two of them had not left. One was Ancarin while the other was the blonde girl.
Up until now, the situation with the blonde girl could be summarized as being horrendous. Throughout our meal, she hadn’t moved a muscle. While she hadn’t given up on life as yet, she neither ate, slept or moved, causing me a great deal of headache. Thankfully, Ancarin was a different story…
“I wish to follow Master Mo Ke to Azure.”
That was the answer I was given. A short and to-the-point answer; so natural that she almost seemed happy about following a devil.
“Aren’t you afraid of me?”
“Not anymore.” Looking right into my eyes, she gave me a warm smile and said: “I’ll never forget that in my darkest hour, it was a devil that actually saved me, while a human tried to kill me.”
“…” Were you referring to the time when that ice spike almost killed me? If it hadn’t been for the grimoire flying up to take the blow, I would’ve really died back then.
While her gratitude was heartwarming, it concerned me slightly. The last thing I wanted was for her to have an unrealistic image of devils, so I had no choice but to clear up this potential misconception: “Devils are evil, there’s no doubt about that. You have not seen them before so you do not know. I’m just an exception.”
She playfully blinked her eyes and said: “Because you were raised by humans?”
“…either way just remember that devils are evil, you won’t always be so lucky to meet a kind-hearted one like me.”
“I understand, Master Mo Ke.” She solemnly nodded her head, losing the playfulness she had before. “Other than you, I won’t trust anyone else ever again.”
“…” Why did it seem like her thinking had become even more warped?
Seeing my resigned look, she flashed me a slightly complacent smile: “Plus your concern for her doesn’t seem fake.”
In order to divert attention off herself, she changed the topic back onto the blonde girl.
At that moment, I had to point out that she was remarkably optimistic…
As I sat on the dining chair, I rubbed my temples to ease the growing headache I was feeling. “I’m Mo Ke, may I know what’s your name?” I turned and asked the blonde girl.
“…” She gave me a look which said silence was golden.
“Where’s your family?”
“Your companions are gone, don’t you wish to follow them?”
“I’m a devil, aren’t you afraid that I’ll eat you if you stay here?”
I just couldn’t get through to her.
“Don’t you wish to take revenge?” Just as I was about to give up, Ancarin’s sudden interjection caught the attention of the blonde girl. The moment those words left her mouth, the girl who had been still these past few hours suddenly reacted. Her dead eyes suddenly held a violent murderous intent within them.
That’s right, violent and murderous.
As a devil, I was particularly sensitive to these sorts of negative emotions; the kind where you wanted to take revenge but was unable to do so. I had experienced those exact emotions before.
Seeing that this train of conversation worked, I immediately picked it up: “Previously, I had said that you can take your take revenge on him but if you don’t take the initiative to do so, how will you ever get your revenge?”
“…” The blonde girl stayed silent for a moment. Just as I thought she was giving me the silent treatment once more, a dry, cold voice broke through her lips: “Regine”
“Regine?” That’s a first name isn’t it? One without a surname, so she must be a peasant as well.
I had to admit Duran was pretty precise about his targets. He made sure never to kidnap noble girls due to their powerful households. If he were to do so, he would run the risk of being exposed easily. Not only that, he might end up offending a foe he couldn’t handle. Thus, he only targeted peasant girls who were as pretty as the noble ones.
(Author’s Note: Fallen nobility who had their noble status revoked are banned from using their surname under the penalty of death for pretending to be a noble.)
“I’ll leave it up to you on how to punish him as long as you don’t kill him; him dying would cause me a lot of trouble.”
In order to ensure that I didn’t get sent back for no reason, I made sure to remind her not to kill Duran. Thrice! Regine’s piercing cold gaze shifted from me onto Duran and lingered there. She begrudgingly nodded her head before standing up.
As she stood up of her own volition for the first time since we healed her limbs, she picked up a fork and knife.
“Remember not to kill him.”
She staggered towards the unconscious Duran, her body swaying from left to right as it struggled under the effects of her malnourishment. The way she cocked her head as she made her way towards him with knife in hand, it almost reminded me of the Sab*r Alt*r from the manga…or maybe the nurse from Silent H*ll…either way it gave me, a devil, the chills just from watching her.
Next came a scene that children should never witness…
She viciously drove the fork right into his shoulder. While it didn’t penetrate too far, it was enough to awaken the unconsciousness man. As for this potato’s pain tolerance…I had some experience with it already…it was worse than a goblin’s. As he screamed in pain, his pants had turned visibly moist from the fear.
“You b*tch, you actually dared to…no…my arms…it hurts…”
Duran’s daily routine of torturing the poor girl had led him to insult her instinctively, swiftly earning a stab to the back of his arms. He screamed in pain and began weeping for his mother and father, however this merely encourage the girl who derived pleasure from his suffering. With the knife in her left hand and the fork in her right, she stabbed them into both of arms.
Perhaps it was her malnourishment acting up once more but each stab was mostly a shallow one, breaking through the skin and flesh while not causing too much blood loss…
And so she continued stabbing him like she would a straw doll with needles. Roughly ten minutes later, his entire body was covered in blood. The urine in his pants had mixed with the metallic smell of blood to create a piercingly foul smell.
The waterworks had stopped by now but not because he no longer felt pain. Rather, it was because he realized that she stabbed him even harder whenever he did so.
As for Regine, she didn’t look that well either. Due to their proximity, some of his blood had splattered onto her body. The right side of her face had been caked with a layer of dried blood.
Her eyes widened and a strange smile crossed her lips…
I immediately reached out and stopped her, barely preventing her from gouging out his eyes. Seeing me stop her, she turned around and threw me a bone-chilling question: “You want to play as well?”
“…no…it’s fine, thanks haha…”
She’s clearly talking about Duran so why did I feel a chill run down my spine…
In order to prevent a repeat of that, I tried persuading her: “Look, if you kill him now, he would at most suffer for that short period of time. If you truly wish to get your revenge, you need to let him experience a pain that will make him beg for death.”
“Beg for death…makes sense.” She had a pretty voice now that I had a better chance to hear it, it’s just that it was so bone-chillingly cold. “Ancarin, do you want to play as well?”
“…no…I’ll pass…” Not only Ancarin, even I was starting to get a little frightened by her.
“Then give me some medicine.”
“…sure…sure…” She stammered, clearly shaken by her savage visage. The clever but slightly timid Ancarin immediately went and retrieved a test tube for her and in a soft voice, told her: “His wounds aren’t deep so using a little is enough.”
“Mhm.” Regine was a bandit prior to her capture and possessed the strength of a two-star. She wanted to apply the medicine on him but yet was afraid that he would use this opportunity to escape. Thus, she used the table knife and severed his tendons, turning him into a cripple. With her grisly preparation done, she untied him and began applying the potion carefully
As for why she asked for the potion and applied it so thoughtfully, it wasn’t that her conscience got the better of her, but was because she didn’t want to waste the potion. She knew extremely well how expensive these were; every bit she used meant that there was less available for us to use.
However, she had gone slightly overboard with her games, causing him to lose too much blood. In order to prevent his accidental death, she decided to ask for a potion.
Having finished the treatment, she stood up and stared at the half-empty potion with a satisfied look and a nod: “Looks like I can kill him one more time.”
“…” Kill…girl, aren’t you taking the alter route too far. (TL: FGO reference)