A hairy being with a large-built came into view, towering over our feeble statures. His cupped ear and bearded mane were covered in locks of amber coat. Upon closer inspection, the slave collar with a green stone glowed brightly in the tenebrous cell.
His glowering frame and fierce glare soon faltered upon seeing me.
Ah, fuck. He recognized me.
“What is a pipsqueak doing down here?” Realizing that a noble child of his boss was present, he immediately changed his tone to something deceptively softer, although his intimidating attitude remained.
A pipsqueak, huh.
Normally, in this country, foolishly calling the daughter of a prominent noble a pipsqueak would be enough to send him flying to the gulag. Although the supposed faux pas was nothing more to me than an insignificant bark of a dog.
Arthafas is a country where human hegemony reigned as the top dogs. A society that puts emphasis on a caste division where the lowest of the pack are anything other than the few privileged humans who have a greater power and standing from the rest of the common folk— magicless humans, beastfolks, elves, dwarves, and so on.
Thus, they are often met with abuse and discrimination.
Regardless, one might think that an evolutionary race that had both the intelligence and wit of a human and the strength of an animal would outclass humanity. But reality shows that despite the unique revolutionary genetic make-up, it was still just an animal.
An animal that follows a pecking order.
An animal that acts on its instincts, rather than logic and rationality.
An animal that still operates on the law of the jungle.
Ironically, this could be applied to the general population (and that includes humanity).
I hold no sordid views of human supremacy, in fact, people might say that I am a misanthropic individual. But if that’s what it takes to get a certain someone off my back then so be it.
Might as well use the system that conveniently benefits me.
I was trying to keep my identity hidden as much as possible, seeing that there isn’t much reaction from the child behind me. One glance at him and fear was present in his features, which was thankfully directed towards the guard. He gripped the hem of my dress tightly, his pallid fingers trembling.
It was safe to say that he didn’t realize that I was the child of that crazy couple yet.
But that brute poses a valid question: What is a pipsqueak like me doing in this piss-smelling basement?
“I was simply curious.” I replied calmly, paying no heed to the child behind me.
His eyes widened at my lacklustered answer, perhaps he was partly surprised by my mental fortitude seeing that I was completely unperturbed by the sights of strewn corpses surrounding us.
“A little girl such as yourself shouldn’t be here. What will you do if the Marquiss knows that you’re sneaking around like this?”
The grip on my dress tightened as the guard took a step closer to us with a confident stride. He must be operating on the assumption that I came here without the Marquiss’ permission.
Well, he’s right—
“Oh? What’s more interesting is seeing someone like you down here.” I countered back, despite my calm delivery, a subtle warning laced my words.
—But he doesn’t have to know that, and he will never need to.
“You see,” Taking a firm stand, I looked at him straight in the eyes. “I was sent here because I heard somebody was sneaking around like a rat. Call it my first clean-up job.”
On the basis of an investigation, he should back off. Normally you would even question why a child who is no less than 5 years old was down here. But by an insane stroke of chance, I was not born in a normal family.
“I wonder if the Marquess knows about this.”
By the mere mention of the Marquiss title, his face paled, knowing the implication in my words. Even though some slaves are favored over others, the fact that he was still part of that group still stands.
This lunkhead knows that this place was off-limits to people other than the crazy couple. He was visibly nervous, stumbling on his words, trying to create a coherent excuse.
“M-My apologies young lady, but I have a duty to—”
“From what I know, you are supposed to be in-charged of guarding the main gate, am I wrong?”
“T-That is correct, young lady. But I was recently assigned—”
“Assigned?” Narrowing my eyes in suspicion, clearly knowing he was lying. “Someone like you? Even if that were the case, this place shouldn’t be accessible or known to just anyone other than the Marquess.”
This should get him off my back.
“Should I report this incident as a dereliction of duty?”
He was at a loss for words at my clear warning. Face reddening as he vacillated from anger and nervousness. His fists clenching hard, veins sprouting from his forearms.
Seems like he wants to hurt me.
Fortunately for me, he cannot touch even a single hair on this pipsqueak’s head.
Even if I didn’t use the differences between our social standing, he would’ve still been in the worst position if he reported about this incident because that would inevitably involve him admitting that he breached his protocols.
He can lie about it which he clearly doesn’t have a talent for it, it would still be admitting that he has access to the underground.
He willingly walked into a situation where he had no real options to begin with. Either way, this incident would be quite a loss for him and his boss won’t take kindly to touching their things.
“Well, I could keep quiet about this incident,” I suggested confidently, offering a tempting solution to his blunder. “and I trust that you will not say a word about this to anyone.”
He looks confused.
“You see, I’ve had my fun.” Patting the head of the kid beside me, it was meant to be a demeaning gesture. “And you had yours as well.”
He was about to open his mouth but I immediately cut him off, whether it was denial or excuse. I was not interested in hearing it.
“Has anyone ever told you that you shouldn’t touch other people’s things without permission?”
Time to make a prudent decision.
“I…understand…” He lowered his head, his compliance earned him a pleased smile from me.
Just when I was about to tell him to leave, he unsheathed his sword from the scabbard. With a rising vigilance from the unexpected turn of events, I scowled, quickly covering the kid behind me. Sharpening my senses, staying critical at my opponent’s vulnerabilities
Regardless, I could tell by his figure and stance that he is a formidable opponent to watch out for. It would be beneficial to watch how a beastfolk fights from the sidelines since I wasn’t familiar with their fighting style and combat.
“What the hell are you do—”
“You’ve done it now, child!”
My eyebrows raised in confusion at his sudden outburst. But then I soon realized that his bloodlust was not directed at me. I followed his gaze towards the child’s hand on my dress.
Persistent bastard. What the hell is this mangy cur hoping to accomplish?
“How dare you lay your filthy hands on the heir of Wolfsbane.” He roared, my jaw clenched in annoyance.
Ah, fuck. Nothing ever goes as fucking planned.
This kid was just hiding behind my dress. Following his line of thinking, I reasoned that maybe he was looking for a scapegoat.
Perhaps he was less intelligent than the average dog.
The kid looked at me as if he was betrayed, probably realizing who I was. His hand o my dress faltered. I was even more surprised that he didn’t catch on early based on the formal speech of that bastard.
“Stand down!” I ordered quickly to the guard, but he did not heed my words. His eyes tell me that he was too engrossed in his emotions. His laser focused on the kid behind me, the glinting iron sword was rusted with dried blood.
The difference between our combat ability was earth and sky. Fighting this tenacious cur was out of the question. He was now charging at us, faster for me to even dodge.
As my brain floundered for a reasonable solution that no one ends up dead and what subjugation method a freakin child could do.
I didn’t want to dabble into poison yet lest I accidentally get blood on my hands again. If only that stupid last minute rule didn’t exist!
The clean-up would be a pain thanks to this guy.
A quiet voice cuts the thick air.
Damn it! He can’t kill them yet!
A black device fell into my hands as I lifted it with both hands, trying to get the shooting angle correctly.
But before I could pull the trigger, an outburst of wind pushed me aside, making me painfully tumble onto the grimy stoned floor. The gun slide far from reach.
The hell was that?
As I tried to recover, my eyes observed a familiar scene. Almost like I was revisiting the first time I went down here. The guard looked frozen stiff, almost like he was a statue made of stone.
After a few seconds, the guard sheathed back his sword before emotionlessly replying. “Understood.”
The tension I felt was gone, almost as if he lifelessly gave up.
What the fuck just happened?
Taking a moment to process the scene, my eyes glued to the kid. His white pupils contrasted by the dark sclerae shone ominously sending a shiver ran down my spine.
All the warning signs kicked in late, as I scrambled to create some distance between us.
Don’t tell me he can…
But before I can finish my thought, his glaring eyes turned to me. It was an emotion that I was familiar with and yet, for the longest time, it made me feel vulnerable.
Unable to look away quickly, he uttered in a somber voice. “Forget everything…”
His frail figure became hazy and unfocused, followed by a feeling of loss of both my mental and physical being.
It was like a thick fog veiled and enraptured my senses, blurring into my consciousness. Feeling frightened at the lack of control, I desperately try to cling to any semblance of self. Whenever I try to get a hold of my fading awareness, it only slipped past my grasp, like sand slipping through my fingers.