We don't implement ads that disrupt our readers' reading experiences, so if you can, please consider joining a Patreon to support the translation and read advance chapters.

Chapter 5: The Black Fang (1)

“...So, what did you say?”

I began to seriously worry if my ears had finally given up on me.

It seemed almost natural, considering the circumstances.

The girl before me was confidently spouting what could only be described as utter nonsense.

“I sacrificed half of my soul.”

My head started to spin.

Yes, I had somewhat anticipated this. After all, I had woken up to complete chaos around me, not to mention the strange black flickering I saw.

I had guessed that in a rush to save me, she must have made a pact with a demon or some dark being.

But to have given up half her soul...

“What did you make a pact with?”

“I don’t know.”

It seems she didn’t even read the contract before stamping it with her seal.

It felt like hearing a friend had taken out a loan from a third-tier financial institution.

No, this was beyond that—it was like resorting to illegal usury.

The price of half a soul is that malign.

Sacrifice even a bit more, and upon death, the soul would belong to a demon—the highest price one could possibly pay.

This is a loss no matter what you do.

Unless the other party was some king of demons, this was definitely a fool’s pact.

“What were you thinking...”

My tirade was cut short as I realized I wasn’t in a position to be angry with her.

Think about it.

What if you heard a friend had dabbled in illegal loans?

You’d start with 'Are you out of your mind?' and go on from there, berating them to come to their senses.

But what if it was for your own cancer treatment?

And what if, thanks to that, you managed to survive?

No decent human being could criticize that.

In the end, all I could do was leave her with a warning not to misuse the power she received and express my gratitude.

“Thank you, regardless.”

At my words, Siel nodded her head.

Her expression hardly changed, but having spent some time with her, I could tell she was smiling.

“...Ah.”

As always, Siel was lost in thought when she suddenly made such an odd sound.

“What’s going on?”

“Name.”

Perhaps it was because I had become somewhat proficient in Siel’s way of speaking, but I understood what she was getting at.

And I couldn’t help but be shocked.

Come to think of it... she doesn’t even know my name.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized she was someone I couldn’t leave alone.

I mean, who in the world sells half their soul to save someone whose name they don’t even know?

“Ian. I don’t have a last name.”

I made up a name on the spot and told her.

It was a nickname I had used in a previous game.

“Ian.”

“...Why?”

“Just.”

“You’re so frivolous.”

In the midst of such a trivial, yet somehow comforting conversation, we continued to search for a passage.

During this, an important realization came to mind.

Now that I think about it, what was my real name again?

When I tried to view my name or abilities last time, the status window claimed that the function was locked because the tutorial hadn’t been cleared.

But now, could it be possible?

If this mine was my first tutorial, then I had already cleared it.

With that thought, I opened the status window.

And then,

This Feature is available after completing the tutorial.


The familiar message I saw last time.

But there was an odd notification above it.

Defeat the Demon of Ash■■■■■ (■/1)


The text was strangely corrupted.

Is there a bug in the status window too? 

While I was perplexed, the odd notification disappeared shortly after.

Instead, a large red message popped up.

Inflection point detected. Fate path is being recalculated.


What the heck is that?

I was overwhelmed with the desire to send a 5700-character complaint to customer service right then. 

It seemed they were content with giving the same response, as if to say, 'Deal with it.'

It was just as useless as last time.

‘...Well, I didn’t have high expectations anyway.’

I quickly dismissed the unhelpful status window from my view.

As soon as I did, I felt a peculiar sensation on my cheek. Turning my head, I found Siel poking my cheek.

“If you have something to say, just say it.”

“I wanted to do this.”

“...Alright.”

I had given up on trying to understand this girl’s state of mind.

I had no choice but to adjust.

After all, she had given up half her soul for me. Surely, I could manage this one thing.

“Look over there.”

With those words, Siel extended her finger straight out.

There was a large door in that direction.

But what was strange was...

“Why is that locked?”

If that was the exit, it should definitely be open. While I was laid up due to the aftereffects of a sleep spell, the others must have already escaped.

It’s not like it’s a door with an automatic lock that could just lock itself...

‘Wait a minute... could it be...?’

These guys. Did they lock us in here on purpose?

What kind of bastards would do that?

And why go to the trouble of locking the door behind them?

‘Ah.’

Well, I suppose I’d be scared too if someone summoned a demon or something.

To me, this creature might just seem like a slightly dim-witted child, but to the others, it would appear as a deranged dark sorcerer.

They locked us in here, scared we might follow them.

That’s incredibly petty.

“What... should we pick the lock or something?”

“No.”

As she said that, Siel picked up a stone from the ground with a vacant look on her face and swung it full force.

-Bang!

And the stone instantly shattered against something like a barrier.

It seems getting too close without a key would result in that.

“This is driving me crazy.”

Are we really going to starve to death here because of this absurd situation? 

There must be a spare key somewhere, but it seems like someone took all of them.

There was none when I searched the storeroom earlier either.

It was at that moment, as I was pondering.

“Take this.”

A young boy’s voice suddenly came from behind.

I quickly turned around to see his face.

“It’s for that bread back then.”

It was the boy who was starving on the floor last time.

But if anything had changed, it was that this time I was on the receiving end.

He placed the key in my hand.

It was a strange feeling.

When I was betrayed by them and nearly died, I blamed myself for my foolishness.

I thought I had wasted my kindness, that I should have lived more coldly, adapting to the fantasy world I was in.

Yet, here I am, alive because of it.

Alive thanks to the little boy who didn’t forget my help and waited here to repay his debt, and the friends I made in this place.

-Creak.

The door slowly opened.

What lies ahead is a world unknown even to me.

Is it years into the future from the original story, or perhaps years in the past?

What has changed, and how?

There’s no way to know anything for sure.

But when has it ever been any different?

In the end, the conclusion is always the same.

I have no choice but to face it head-on.

I took my first step towards the unfamiliar world.

*****

In the abandoned mine, devoid of life, a visitor arrived.

“Such a tragedy.”

To the naked eye, the scene appeared ordinary, with nothing out of place. However, the man saw something different.

A dreadful aura lingered, unaffected by time, exuding a repulsiveness that could almost make one nauseous.

“It’s the same energy as the one who killed the elder.”

The man, a commander of the Empire’s knights, frowned as he spoke.

But his realization was not about the exploitation of children as disposable labor in the mines.

This was a venture tacitly approved by the Empire.

He had known about it for a long time.

And yet, he had not acted. There was no reason to.

After all, the citizens were not the true rulers of the Empire.

The real masters were a handful of high-ranking nobles and the royal family, people like the elder who ran this place.

Therefore, what needed to be protected, and to whom the Empire’s sword owed its loyalty, was not something as trivial as its citizens.

Whether the vermin of the slums died or how their offspring met their end was of no concern to him.

If these lowly lives, destined to die a lowly death doing lowly work, could contribute to the Empire’s progress in this manner...

‘It should be considered an honor and grace.’

It was a grace beyond their station.

The man truly believed this.

“The more I see, the more shocking it becomes.”

The knight commander muttered as he ventured deeper.

He had anticipated that this would be no ordinary affair.

The elder, who had been resting in his mansion, was suddenly swallowed by a dark shadow.

All the artifacts and security spells of the mansion had been rendered useless.

The culprit was someone of considerable skill.

Perhaps a high-level demon had been summoned. Following the trail of this energy, the man swallowed hard and touched the ground.

“...Is this the place?”

An area where the corruption of the dark energy seemed weaker.

Near chairs that looked like where the children might have eaten.

Here, he could read the memories imprinted on the land.

If things went well, he could uncover everything from the identity to the motives of the perpetrator.

The magic power the knight commander poured into the ground resonated with the land, taking shape and reenacting the events that had transpired there.

-This is strange.

-What’s strange?

The forms were unstable, but discernible to some extent. A boy and a girl were in conversation.

- You’re the one saying it.

- ...I mean, how many times do I have to tell you to make sense when you speak? It’s hard to understand.

- You seem like you’re from a different world.

- Huh?

- People should all be equal. Parents should love their children. You talk about these things as if they’re obvious.

- Well, I suppose it might seem that way to you.

- Do you want to change the world like that?

- Why? You want to help?

- ...I don’t know.

At that moment, upon hearing these words, the knight commander’s face contorted.

There seemed to be no connection between this past and the culprit. However, it appeared he had caught a traitor.

Such things should be nipped in the bud.

Thus, the knight commander quickly stabilized the flow of mana.

'Just a bit more... a little more... and the face would be revealed.'

'That filthy rat.'

To find and kill the child who dared to defy those of noble blood...

[ What right do you have to pry into my love? ]

A strange voice suddenly echoed in his ears.

His head spun.

The world went dark in an instant.

A scream escaped his lips, yet for some reason, he couldn’t hear anything.

Misunderstanding, irrationality, indistinguishable.

The man simply stared blankly at the wolf before him.

[ Well, I suppose I should do some work for what I’ve received. ]

In an instant, ‘it’ shed the wolf’s disguise.

The man saw it and laughed.

Laughing as he coughed up blood,

Laughing as he slit his own belly,

Laughing as he pulled out what was inside him,

Laughing as he drove a knife into his own head,

And twisted it.

With a smile happier than anyone else in the world.

Thus, the knight commander of the Empire died.

Leaving behind a mangled corpse, marked only by the shadow-like bite marks of a wolf.

It was the moment the name 'The Black Fang,' an organization set to overturn everything in the Empire, was etched into history for the first time.

Comments

Show Comments
Comments

Comments

Show Comments