Saturday, June 4, 2022 @

Chapter 100 Prologue

 "What's... going to happen to me...?"
 A young girl murmurs in a dark stone room, her voice filled with tears.
 How did this happen? She repeated the question over and over again, but never got an answer.
 The entrance to the room was guarded by hard iron bars, which deprived the girl of her freedom.
 On the cold floor, which deprived the girl of her body heat, there crouched about ten people, including the girl.
 All of them are young girls. Some are weeping, some aresadly calling for their parents, and some had their eyes lighted up and their faces frozen in despair.
 The reason why the girl is locked up in that room is a result of a whim.
 The girl lived in a rural village.
 Her parents grew medicinal herbs in a corner of the village, and once a month, they came to a big town located a little far from the village to sell them.
 There was a great demand for herbs to make potions. The girl's family earned their living by selling the herbs to the pharmacy guild in bulk.
 That day, the girl came to the town with her father. She wanted to help her father's work in order to take over the herb-growing business in the future.
 She came to the town in the same carriage as her father, met a familiar employee at the pharmacy guild, and helped her father carry medicinal herbs from the carriage.
 So far, it was business as usual. She has done this many times before.
 But... from there on, things were different.
 "I'm going to stop by the Adventurers' Guild. I'll be back in an hour or so."
 With these words, the father left the carriage and the girl on the road.
 The father's purpose was probably to ask the guild to help him defeat the monsters that had recently appeared in the area around the village.
 A month ago, a being calling himself the Demon King suddenly declared war on mankind.
 Since then, monsters have been active all over the continent, and the wave has reached the village where the girl lives.
 Originally, only wolves and stray goblins appeared around the village, but now orcs and other strong monsters have started to appear.
 In order to ask the Adventurers' Guild to take care of the situation, the father leaves his daughter and disappears into the main street of the town.
 "I'm bored... What should I do?"
 The girl murmured and looked at the town where many people were passing by.
 The main street is lined with many stalls. Delicious smells from the stalls attract the girl's nose.
 Since she has received an allowance for helping out, she decides to go shopping for a while, and on such a whim, she goes to the main street of the town by herself.
 The town is actually not bad.
 Children playing around on the main street, and guards hired by the lords who rule the town patrolling the streets.
 The girl's action was not exactly rash... but still, she should have been a little more careful.
 She went around the stalls, lost track of time, and became engrossed in her shopping.
 The next thing she knew, it was almost time for her father to come back from his errands.
 "No, I have to go back soon or my father will scold me!"
 The girl walks quickly back to the street.
 Her father would not have been angry if she had gone out for a while.
 But... it is a different story if she has been playing outside the appointed time. The girl's father was a strict time-keeper, and he always taught his children to be faithful to their promises.
 As the girl runs down the street, she can't run as fast as she wants in the crowded city.
 In her impatience, she saw a side street leading to a back street.
 It was a road that the girl had taken many times with her father. This would be a much shorter way to get back to the home.
 For a few seconds she was confused. But soon the girl turned into a back street.
 From there on, she did not remember much.
 She just stepped into the back street and continued down the deserted path. But just as she was about to reach her destination... suddenly her vision was blocked by a cloth-like object and it became completely dark in front of her eyes.
 The next thing she knew, she found herself squeezed into a room with stone walls and floor, surrounded by iron barred doors, and surrounded by children just like herself.
 The girl struggled to hold back the tears that were welling up in her eyes.
 If she let her tears fall here, something would collapse.
 If she did, she was afraid that the 'worst possible scenario' that had been nagging at the back of her mind would come true.
 While the girl was holding her knees and curling up to endure the cold... suddenly, the iron bars of the door rang with a clang.
 "No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no!
 "I'm scared! Mommyyyy!"
 A metallic clang caused screams among the children. The girl also gasps and stares at the door as it is opened.
 What opens the barred door and enters is a big man. And a well-dressed man with a bulging belly.
 "Ho-ho! You've caught a lot of fish. I admire you!"
 "Thank you so much. Danna."
 The big man smiles and bows his head.
 "I'm sure this will satisfy His Eminence. My reputation will rise as well. Ho-ho-ho, we're celebrating tonight. Let's serve you some good wine, too."
 "Thank you, Count... but may I ship this 'lamb' to its usual place?"
 "Umu, no problem. But I'm a little hungry."
 The man called "the Count" is sizing up the children one by one.
 The girl's small body stiffens under his licking, ugly gaze.
 "Ho-ho, there's a tasty looking 'meat' here! This is a good one!"
 It was that girl who caught the Count's eye.
 The girl lets out a short scream and tries to run away, stretching out on the stone floor... but a thick arm catches her by the ankle.
 "His Eminence will forgive a few nibbles. Tonight we'll enjoy this 'lamb'."
 "No, stop! No, no, don't do that!"
 "Ho-ho-ho! A lively lamb! Now we can look forward to dinner!"
 "Hyahhh, noooo!!"
 The Count grabs the girl by the ankles and lifts her up. The girl's body is upside down and her skirt is rolled up.
 The girl tries to run away with flailing her arms and legs, but the Count gives her a twisted smile as if he enjoys her poor resistance.
 The Count further lifted one of the girl's legs and ran his tongue along her slender thigh.
 "Nooooo! It's disgusting...!"
 The girl's whole body breaks out in goosebumps at the feeling of slugs crawling on her.
 The girl's feet kicked off her ugly face... but the Count rocked his flabby belly up and down as if he enjoyed even the pain.
 "Good, very good! After all, lamb must be fresh! Should we roast it whole or cook it in a stew... no, no, taking advantage of its freshness, sashimi is not a bad idea!" 
 A terrible premonition runs through the girl's mind.
 It is hard to believe that the fat man in front of her is a decent human being.
 "What will happen to me now?" The girls thought.
 "Somebody... help me... please..."
 The girl cries weakly, and the Count licks his lips and smiles broadly.
 "Huhuhuhuhuhu! The moment when the lamb's face is dyed with despair, it's unbearable. Simply processing and eating it is no longer enough for me! It's not a bad idea to suckle it alive and make it dance and eat it..."
 The Count lets out a dumbfounded cry.
 Suddenly, the big man behind him, falls forward.
 "Eek!? What the hell!?"
 Jack's head was cut off as if it had been devoured by a beast.
 A stream of black blood poured out from the gaping wound, spreading over the cobblestone floor. At the death of his subordinate with whom he had just been conversing, the Count opens his eyes wide and lets go of the hand holding the girl.
 The Count looked outside the bars. Meanwhile, the girl, who had rolled on the cobblestones, also looked at him.
 "You're the Man-eater Count, Belonga Jack Salt (ベロンガ・ジャクソルト), aren't you?"
 "W-Who are you...!?"
 A young man's voice came from outside the door.
 His voice was flat, but it was filled with a coldness that sent a chill down the spine.
 "This is my property! You think you can get away for free!?"
 "You said I couldn't get away for free, huh...? You've got a funny way of saying that. I'm laughing so hard. I'd like to know what you're going to do if I don't get away for free."
 A man appears from behind the door. He is a young man, no older than 20.
 He wears a black robe and a cloak, and his jet-black hair is carefully trimmed and arranged like a raven's tail.
 Although he was dressed in black from top to bottom as if he were a condensation of the darkness of the night... what caught more attention is the cold look in his eyes.
 If it's a metaphor... he is like a reaper who reaps lives and eats souls.
 His ominous eyes that show no emotion at all make people feel as if their life will be sucked out of them just by staring into him.
 "Ah... Ggh..."
 The reason why the girl was able to keep her sanity while looking into those terrifying eyes is that the eyes of the Grim Reaper were staring only at the Count. If she had caught even a glimpse of those eyes, she would have fainted, wetting her crotch.
 On the contrary... the Count's reaction to being stared directly into the eyes of the Grim Reaper is remarkable.
 His face, which had been contorted in amusement earlier, was now contorted in intense fear.
 "W-Who... d-do you think... you're t-talking?"
 "I haven't done anything but make eye contact with you. It's funny how a glare can make you look like this. And to think that you're an evil man who's taken the lives of countless children and literally preyed on them... I can't help but feel sorry for the victims of your murder."
 "U... ggh... He... Help..."
 Step by step, the Grim Reaper closes the distance.
 The Count can no longer stand the extreme fear and tension, and falls to his knees, having difficulty breathing.
 He looks as if he would die if left alone, but then the Grim Reaper pulls out the sword from his waist and holds it up to the ceiling.
 "Keep your face down and cover your ears. You don't need to see or hear anything else."
 The girl realizes that the Grim Reaper's mumbled words are not directed at the Count, but at her, and does as she is told, with her face down and her hands covering her ears.
 Immediately afterwards, a desperate scream echoes through the small room.
 It is a scream like the cries of livestock in a slaughterhouse. The girl fainted at the end of the scream, which still rushed into her eardrums even though she had covered her ears.
 After that, the girl was protected by someone and handed over to the town guards, and she was safely reunited with her father.
 In the end, the girl never knew until the very end.
 What was the purpose of her abduction? Who her abductor was?
 And... she never knew that the man who rescued her was named 'Zenon Baskerville' until the very end.

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