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 8: On the Border Between Humans and Monsters (1)

When all the children of the tribe were born with heaven's blessings, she alone was shunned by the stars.

On the day of her birth, the sky clouded over as if to shield its eyes, and a flock of crows cawed ominously.

The tribal members, frightened by these omens, were ultimately soothed only by the intervention of the priest.

A circle was drawn in blood. A large sigil was etched into the ground.

Astrology. The power handed down through generations by those who worship and serve heaven. 

The reason the empire sought to eradicate them.

Symbols of the stars were placed all around. Humanity gazing into the heavens to divine the principles of the world.

Into the priest’s mind flowed the knowledge of the heavens.

And then... it wasn’t long before the priest’s face turned ashen.

It was inevitable.

The Star of Heavenly Slaughter*

Born to drench the world in blood, a child with the nature of a murderer.

The girl born today was destined to kill hundreds, no, tens of thousands.

But...

The priest did not disclose this to anyone. 

He could not.

- How is it? Just as I said, right? It’s not an ominous omen. It’s my child, so I can tell.

The woman spoke with a face nearing death. Likely, she would depart this world just after giving birth.

She, too, was a member of the tribe. 

Thus, she could not be ignorant of all these ominous signs, the foretold future of her child.

- Surely, she will live a happy life.

'Even without me.'

'Even without him.'

'Firmly, more firmly than anyone else.'

'More happily than anyone else.'

Even as she spoke these words, tears streamed down her face.

Ignoring all the principles of the heavens she had devoted her life to learning, she envisioned a happy future for her child, left alone in this world.

A future for this child marked only by blood and death.

A path through a realm made of corpses.

Denying all these truths.

She spoke of her child being born into the world, experiencing various things, meeting someone, falling in love, and living an ordinary and happy life like others.

The only regret was that she wouldn’t be there to see it.

Faced with this vision, the priest found himself utterly unable to speak the truth.

That the child must be killed. 

That this child was born with a destiny that should never have been fulfilled.

In the end, all discussions related to the child’s fate were shrouded in secrecy.

And then, a girl was born.

Born from the death of her mother.

Her life began with a sin.

Yet, the priest tirelessly tried to guide her onto the right path, time and again.

He endeavored to raise her rightly in a world where she was left alone, without a mother or a father.

It was a foolish endeavor.

No one knew better than the priest how absolute a destiny bestowed by the heavens could be.

In the end, no matter how much one struggles, it’s impossible to escape one’s inherent fate.

Because it’s inescapable, that's why it's called fate.

The girl, Lien, grew more with each passing day.

Her hair was as white as snow, her eyes as black as night.

Her beauty, a spitting image of her mother’s, only grew, secretly admired by many within the tribe.

Only the priest knew of Lien’s true nature.

Lien’s hunting was not for daily sustenance.

Whenever she killed her prey, she would always watch slowly... as the life drained from the body, as if mesmerized by death itself.

As if she savored death.

‘If Lien were ever to kill a person...’

There would be no turning back then.

The girl would fulfill her destiny, staining the world with blood. 

Countless people would lose their lives.

No one would be able to control her.

And to the priest, that future didn’t seem far off.

The more Lien grew, the less she would be satisfied with merely killing animals.

That day would come soon. 

She would inevitably kill a person, fulfilling her destiny and being consumed by her true nature.

‘Then what should I do...’

The priest made his decision.

She must be killed. 

The child must be killed before it’s too late, as soon as possible.

*****

Intent to kill. 

Lien felt it in the eyes of the priest looking at her.

The situation where the man who raised her in place of her deceased parents, almost like her father, was trying to kill her.

However, Lien was not perturbed.

She already knew. That she was a peculiar being.

The villagers. Every time she saw their faces, brimming with kindness, Lien always imagined how she could efficiently kill them.

Of course, she knew such thoughts were wrong.

In reality, she had never once harmed another person, not even with a fist, throughout her life.

She liked the villagers just fine.

Yet, the thoughts inevitably intruded. That stabbing here would be lethal. That cutting there would do the trick.

Losing focus for even a moment meant such thoughts would emerge.

Such a being couldn’t be anything but a monster. And it wouldn’t be right to let such a monster live.

So, it was only natural for the priest.

For her father-figure to want to kill her.

There was no need to grieve.

“…Lien? Where are you going at this hour?”

But, feeling a bit, just a bit suffocated, Lien headed to the forest for hunting.

A man she ran into asked her. But it wasn’t really a matter of concern. It was an everyday occurrence.

“I’m just bored staying still, thought I’d go stretch my legs a bit.”

“Is that so? But why do you look... No, never mind. Maybe I’ve had too much to drink. I must be seeing things. Better head home and get some sleep.”

With those words, the man disappeared.

Lien brushed off the man’s strange reaction as insignificant.

Now, nothing stood in her way.

Her snow-white hair was soon to be drenched in red blood.

In the midst of the night, the forest echoed with the death throes of animals.

This was what she did whenever she felt something inside her unfulfilled.

Only these acts could satisfy her instincts.

Only these acts could bring her peace

Thinking about it, her father’s reaction was indeed inevitable.

She was a monster, after all. If she found satisfaction in such vile and horrific acts, it was understandable that her father would want to kill her.

So, it shouldn’t matter.

It shouldn’t affect her.

She could feel a pain in her heart.

But it didn’t matter. It was probably just from running around too much.

Something was trickling down her cheeks.

But it didn’t matter. It was probably just blood, after all.

So, she should be fine.

She had to be fine.

“You are...”

These thoughts occupied her mind as she was finishing off a deer.

Suddenly, a man’s voice came from somewhere. Through the bushes, she could see a man approaching.

Lien, startled, forcibly suppressed her murderous intent.

She must not kill a person.

This was something the priest had admonished her about time and again. But... it was hard to hold back.

She was already intoxicated with blood, her mind becoming hazy.

"Don't come any closer... I told you not to come..."

He shouldn’t come.

If he did, she wasn’t sure she could control her instincts any longer.

But ignoring her words, the man kept walking towards her, and then...

"What on earth do you think you're doing?"

He hugged her.

“Just, you seemed to be crying.”

The man said something that made no sense.

She couldn’t have been crying.

Because she was a monster.

A monster that savored death and got excited by blood.

She couldn’t have felt disgusted by her actions.

She couldn’t have felt disillusioned with herself for being drawn to such vile acts.

She couldn’t have been crying because she hated herself so much.

Because she found herself so abhorrent.

Surely, she should have been smiling.

She must be smiling even now.

“It’s okay. You’ll feel better after you calm down a bit.”

But why then.

Why are the tears flowing so freely?

She couldn’t understand why.

It was okay if her father tried to kill her.

She was not afraid of being seen as a monster by others when her true identity was revealed.

To the villagers, to those who were like family, being treated as a monster and dying doesn’t bother her in the slightest.

She had never been afraid of dying hated by everyone.

Really, it doesn’t bother her at all.

She was a monster, after all, so why should she be scared?

There’s no reason for her heart to ache.

But why then...

“Crying will make it better. If you’re struggling, you should cry. Why hold it in?”

Could those words bring comfort?

The more she sobs,

The more tears burst forth, as if to reassure her that she was not alone, did she feel the warmth more intensely, as if being held tighter in that embrace?

Warmth was transmitted from the man’s embrace, whispering something about herself to her.

That, it is okay.

That she is the same as him.

Not a monster.

So, it’s okay to cry.

It’s okay to be sad.

The world slowly regains its original colors.

The vision once stained with the color of blood now reflects the most beautiful and majestic night sky.

That was Lien’s first encounter with that strange man.

[T.N. - The Star of Heavenly Slaughter: This term '천살성' is the Korean rendition of the Chinese term '天殺星'. In Chinese astrology and cultural folklore, this refers to the celestial body or star believed to influence human lifespan, often associated with calamity, misfortune, or significant change. It is also considered a bad omen.]

Comments

Show Comments
Comments

Comments

Show Comments