|Author: Kobayashi Homare||Original Source: Syosetu||Word Count: 2314 characters|
|Translator: Nomad||English Source: Re:Library||Word Count: 975 words|
“Yeah. They rounded up all the children living around here, then demanded we throw our lives away!”
Bacchus shouted angrily. Taking hostages to manipulate someone, it was the exact same situation as the king’s, so I doubted it was a mere coincidence. But there was always the small chance it was a local fight between gangs, so I could not ally myself with one side so easily. I nodded prompting him to continue telling his story.
Apparently a stranger arrived the day after the demons attacked. One of Bacchus’ underlings confronted the stranger who kept loitering suspiciously in the slums, but was beaten half to death. The people of the slums have a pretty tightly knit community, so that quickly gathered a large crowd, including Bacchus who rushed to see what happened to his underling. Bacchus had learned to maintain his ground after leading the slums for many years, but even he was overpowered by the stranger, who kept grinning eerily the entire time.
“I hate to admit it but I was literally pissing my pants. I had never seen someone like him. Some of my men also said there was some black stuff coming off him, but I didn’t notice that myself.”
Bacchus shuddered as he recalled that time. He had probably never heard of it before, but the black stuff was probably miasma, something usually only those used to magic can see clearly, but is invisible to those who never practiced magic. On top of that, miasma is only produced by monsters and demons, Bacchus would have noticed straight away if the stranger was a monster, so there was no doubt he was a demon.
“He kept kicking my fallen underling and said I would have to do exactly as he said if I wanted him to live. And if I refused, he would slaughter all the kids in the slums like ******* animals!”
The people living in the slums had their own set of unwritten rules, one of them being that anyone born and raised there would protect the children of the slums with their lives. Most of the kids living there are orphans, and with no one watching out for them, they would die on the streets. Some cities decide to leave them fending for themselves, letting only the strongest one survive, but here they were more human, choosing to protect them together.
In simple terms, the orphans of the slums were everyone’s children. Everyone shouldered the costs together, sharing what they had with them. Usually I would praise them for deciding to live that way, but in this situation that had backfired on them.
“You keep mentioning demands, exactly what did the stranger want you to do?”
Bacchus struggled to find the correct words to reply. What could be so complicated he would stutter after talking about everything else?
“…he wanted us…to stage an insurrection.”
An insurrection?! This was the capital city, so I could only imagine that meant going against the king. I do not know this country’s laws too well, but I knew that in most places treason against the king means a death penalty. Some places execute not only the perpetrators, but their families as well, it was the crime with the heaviest punishment. And the stranger wanted them to do that…
“He gave us a date, and said that when the day comes, we set fire to the city everywhere. If we don’t, he will kill all the children…”
He stood up in exasperation, annoyed at himself for not being able to do anything.
“Even a stupid musclehead like me knows what happens if I commit treason! But if I don’t then the children will die instead of me, one look at him told me he would do it. I still get scared thinking of that day. If we could, everyone in the slums would group up to take him down together, but I feel we aren’t strong enough. At this point I don’t know what else to do but ask for help from a stranger like you…”
I wonder how much Bacchus really thought about it? There was no proof the children would survive even if he set the city on fire like demanded. Even if the city fell, the demons might just slaughter them regardless, and if it failed then the slums, including all the children, could get designated as a breeding ground for rebellion and destroyed entirely. Maybe Bacchus was so worried about his current issues that he had not even thought that far into the future.
“Please! I know you have no reason to get involved with or risk your life for strangers like us, but please, you’re our only hope! You’re strong, maybe even stronger than that man!”
“We’ll do anything to repay the favor! Please help us!”
After Bacchus, his underlings and even the shopkeeper asked for my help. But that was needless, I had already decided I would help them. They had provided a lead on the demons, and there were children in danger. I would have asked to help them if they had not done it first.
“Raise your heads, I’ll help you in any way I can. Let’s rescue those children!”
“We’ll never forget this!”
“Thanks! We might have a chance with you on our side!”
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It felt nice being thanked so much, but having my hand shook many times over started feeling a bit sweaty, even though I was wearing armor. Somehow I felt more comfortable around girls in such situations.
“Anyway, can you tell me more about that man? Like where he usually hangs around, or what he eats, if he has any companions. I want to know all the details no matter how insignificant.”
“Alright, we’ll tell you everything we know.”