Volume 7, Chapter 7: Children of Night, Part 1
Author’s note: It’s the Demons’ time to shine. Take care if you’re eating while reading this.
[Tess] as a world had a moderate difference in temperature compared to earth, but just like earth, it was still colder in the north, and more temperate in the south.
In Gamble, though, which was located in the north of the continent, they did not experience heavy snowfall even in winter since the Caudle mountain range further north blocked the winter winds.
Beyond the Caudle mountain range lived the forces of darkness.
However, they weren’t living buried under snow and ice, but lived out of underground caves.
One would imagine that they would be living in the dark hearing that they lived in caves, but the places were surprisingly bright thanks to a special moss that glowed.
Not only that, but since there was a volcano nearby, the insides of it were also quite warm, and using the light of the moss, they could grow plants and mushrooms, and with a beastmen children running about with runny noses, you could feel a rural atmosphere.
The large cave had quite the high ceiling and had more area than that of the larger human nations, big enough for a dragon to fly around.
To invade the human nations from there, they had to go through a dark and long maze-like cave, with one of the exits in the Caudle mountain range in the human nation, and while the humans didn’t know where all the caves were, the humans had already built a fort in front of the largest one which an army could pass through, to guard against it.
The humans couldn’t invade through the maze either, and, because of this, they weren’t able to settle the issue and the battle continued for thousands of years.
Large armies could not make it through, and the forces of darkness were in a position to commit attacks and maintained the advantage for hundreds of years.
A couple of years ago, four [Heroes] had planned the assassination of the drow king, but because one of the heroes was betrayed before it was all over, in a sense, the forces of darkness had been left alone.
However, there was now a true [Darkness] quietly approaching them.
“How about a delicious shimeji mushroom~ They’re also poisonous~.”
A dark elf girl was raising her voice on the street, selling full baskets of mushrooms she’d harvested.
Purplish-red eyes. Not brown, but blue-black skin. Long ears about 10cm long that erupted out of her silver hair.
Since elves had lifespans of over 500 years, her appearance didn’t quite square with her age, but she was still in her teens.
Dark elves seemed arrogant and demonic to humans, but that was only the upper classes of the dark elves, the aristocrats and their warriors. The civilians themselves weren’t evil.
The dark elves were far too pure to live in human society.
Still, it was quite like a resident of the darkness to sell food and poison in the same basket.
“Oi, you, who let you do business here!”
Although it was bright out, it was no sunlight, and could at best be compared to the brightness of an indoor lamp. Two Beastmen soldiers called out to the girl in the alley where the light didn’t reach.
“…u-, uhm… I……”
“You have to have a permit to do business here. Do you?”
“Oh. I suppose we’ll have no choice but to have you pay for it now, since you want to do business.”
The beastman soldiers grinned at the frightened girl.
“Oi, come to think of it, recently there’s been missing persons cases. Do you know anything about that?”
“I-I don’t know anything! I’ll pay the money…… but I don’t have much”
“Then come here. We’re going to need to interrogate you.”
In this country where only strength ruled, if one was strong, most things would be allowed.
As the soldiers tried to drag the girl by the arm towards the dark backstreet, the rest of the residents could not do anything but avert their eyes.
“Hey, hurry up and come over”
“First of all, you might be hiding a weapon on you, so why don’t you take off all your clothes.”
They had been committing criminal acts regularly.
Dragging the girl into the darkness with practiced hands, he looked at the frightened girl from head to toe as if licking her and licked his lips.
At that point, he could hear the barking roar of a ‘beast’ from the darkness behind him.
As the soldiers pushed the girl into the dark corner, he readied his halberd…… or at least a spear with an axe blade.
Even if he had the attitude of a small fry, he was still a soldier of the dark forces. Taking up a battle stance, he stared into the darkness with the Darkvision that was peculiar to his race.
After all, they were here to investigate an incident happening in this neighborhood, where the residents and soldiers were going missing. It wasn’t unusual for the residents of darkness to suddenly disappear. There was always fighting here, so it wasn’t strange when they died.
He wasn’t investigating seriously, but it would be convincing if he said that the criminal behind it was a ‘beast’.
Still, something was wrong……
If there were beasts, there should have been signs of one. However, he couldn’t find any signs, nor could he smell the beast, and it was instead filled with a ‘darkness’ that he could not see through with his night vision.
However, there was certainly something there.
From the darkness, several two-legged things walked out.
As the girl who was being pushed around murmured, stunned, out walked a small teddy bear, about 50cm tall.
“What’s this…… why is a toy moving by itself?”
The tense atmosphere disappeared, and the soldiers who felt completely disappointed lowered their weapons.
“……You can sell this, right?”
“Oh, are you going to take it home?”
Although it was moving, it was difficult to keep the heart of a town guard with a teddy bear soft toy. As the soldiers approached it carelessly, reaching out-
Suddenly, one of the Beastmen collapsed, leaning against the wall of the alley.
“o-Oi, what happened… Hii!?”
The beastman soldier was missing half of his body, as if it had been bitten off and eaten.
*gari… gori… gari……* (sfx: chewing noises)
As the beastman and the girl turned towards the source of the sound, they saw the teddy bear chewing on something in its mouth, its lips covered in blood.
And then, it swallowed with a gulp……
The two of them recoiled with looks of horror at the teddy bear that was inclining its head cutely.
“y-y-y-you go closer.”
As the beastman reached for the girl to use as a decoy, his arm disappeared suddenly before reaching the girl.
As the beastman screamed out in fear and pain, the teddy bear jumped forward and opened its mouth, exposing the hundreds of teeth within that shone.
And then, only the dumbfounded girl was left alone in the alley.
The teddy bear plushie seemed to have been fine with eating just the two soldiers and had disappeared elsewhere without eating the dark elf girl.
It was just that the Demon had been satisfied, but she didn’t know it, and that girl decorated a teddy bear stuffed animal that she’d made herself and worshipped it daily.
“[Are you done eating?]”
As the small teddy bear entered a small fort some distance away, a calm voice could be heard speaking to him.
Usually, there would be soldiers training or drinking alcohol, but now, there were no signs of life there.
It would have been alright if the place was abandoned or something, but the weapons and armor of over 100 people were rolling on the floor as if the people who were wielding them had disappeared suddenly.
Inside, there was an enormous [Beast] that seemed to be made out of pure condensed darkness, with only its silver eyes shining in the dark.
“[Now, that’s enough souls.]”
“[Shall we move?]”
The deep darkness disappeared like a haze and began to move. The fear that had come to this country had only just begun.
Next time, Rinne’s story, for real.
This was a fun snippet to work on, really keeps up the image of the turnaround demon.