Chapter 38 An Adventure with Kagura-san - Past Arc
This is a story from more than a decade ago.
A small hut inside a forest in the middle of nowhere. There, inside a dim underground, a small child in chain looks to have fallen unconscious.
A man is standing before the chain. A big bruise on his cheek stands out as he points a knife toward the child while smirking and laughing vulgarly at a huge woman who's facing off against him. Two horns of about 20cm long are decorating the woman's forehead.
"Kukuku, never thought that I would catch such a big game using this little oni as bait. Throw away that weapon and do as I say. That's if you don't want this little oni killed."
"Kuh, you coward."
"Say what you want. The last one laughing is the just one. Worry not, I'll spare your daughter's life if you obediently become my slave. Oops, don't do anything funny. Even without this knife, taking a life is simple with my Curse."
Clank, the woman threw away her iron club, and reproachfully glared at the slave trader.
"Do whatever you want. But I will have you keep your promise."
While still smirking, the man approaches the huge female oni and carves out a slave mark on her. Lastly, he put a slave collar, a cursed tool, on her and complete the contract. If anything happens to the slave's master and the master so desire, this collar will gradually tighten until it takes the slave's life.
Onifolks have high resistance against curses, so they can't be easily bound even with slave contracts, normally speaking that is. It's a different story if the oni themselves accepts the contract. The female oni has willingly accepted the curse to save the kid.
"Kukuku, now you're mine. Now then, next..."
The man turned around to show his back and draw near the kid.
"You bastard! You said you wouldn't put your hand on the kid, my daughter!!"
"Hahn? I said that I won't take her life. Yeah, you heard right, only her life."
While laughing nastily, the man took a black Soul Stone emitting dull light from his chest pocket and pushed against the kid.
The kid glared at the man while breathing painfully. Black mist seeped out of the soul stone, coiled around the kid and eventually went inside the kid.
"By stopping her growth, this kid won't ever forget what just happened. It's easier to use people later on if you bind 'em with fear."
The enraged mother oni attempted to catch the man. However, the moment she touched the man, the collar tightened, and acute pain assaulted her whole body.
"Fool. That's what happened when a slave disobeyed their master. Like there's anyone who would miss their chance with a mountain of gold in front of 'em."
The man turned his back against the mother oni once again, and right when he was about to put slave contract on the kid, the man's chest was dyed red from the mother oni's hand that pierced it. Clank, the knife fell off the man's hand.
"Wh...at. If you kill me, you too will..."
The man collapsed. Right afterward, the slave collar trembled ominously, and quickly tightened on the mother's oni neck. The mother oni could barely even breathe. She tore off the chains binding the kid and gently spoke to her.
"Kagura, live strongly. You are one of the proud and noble Onifolk. Please find your happiness..."
After saying that the mother oni who couldn't accept getting strangled to death by the collar picked up the man's knife and stabbed it on her own heart.
<TLN: If you're reading this novel at any other site than Sousetsuka .com you might be reading an unedited, uncorrected version of the novel.>
After crying so much it felt like I had dried out all my tears, I stood up in order to protect my mother's last will. Since a child's strength couldn't possibly carry my mother body, I went back to the village alone after burying her outside.
In the next day, I went back to the place I buried my mother with other villagers in order to transfer her to the village's grave, but my mother's body was nowhere to be found.
While feeling an ominous premonition, I went back to the underground where I left the slave trader's body at, but it also had gone missing.
I do not know what happened to my mother's body. But I will take her back no matter who did it. If it isn't possible, it is my duty as her child to send her to the afterlife.
Afterward, I left the village and traveled all over the places as a mercenary. I went to the north, to the south, everywhere whenever I got a new information no matter how insignificant, for months and years. I utilized the art to transform my appearance in order to hide my identity as an onifolk, however, I learned that I will turn back to my appearance from that time if that art is cut off. From there on, I got another objective, to free me of this curse. My horns should have been hidden just like it always had been though.
The reason why I stayed long at Gramada was because it was relatively easy to get the normally hard-to-obtain Mana Water, and the city had dungeons where I could train myself. I was fully aware of my lack of power.
"And such is my past."
Kagura-san (little girl) talked about her while showing her back. Perhaps she's recalling that past as her voice is trembling and her small body looks even smaller now.
"Nobusada, you're also a general human. You must be thinking of selling me for money just like that man, are you not?"
Kagura-san (little girl) talks like she's frustrated about that. That's it, no more polite speech. Words of pretense won't probably reach her, I should strike with my true feelings.
"No! I'll never do that! Even putting aside how beautiful Kagura-san is, I'll never do such an outrageous act like selling people!!"
Kagura-san (little girl, enough already?) looks at me while looking dumbfounded. Ah, she's got a runny nose.
"Besides, frankly speaking, I knew that Kagura-san was an onifolk right from the beginning. I can use Appraisal, you see."
"Mumumu. That means you accepted this quest fully knowing that I was an Onifolk. Aren't you, afraid of me?"
"Not at all. Or rather, you're easy to talk, and your scatterbrain and pure sides are cute methink?"
"Gu-gununu. Don't make fun of your elders. ...phew, talking to you tires me out. Very well, I admit defeat."
"Anyway. It'd be bad if you keep those clothes as you are right now, so could you come here?"
Since Kagura-san's body has shrunk, parts of her body that shouldn't be seen are peeking through here and there. It's troubling even if she's small. What am I gonna do if someone called the police or something.
Bluuuush, Kagura-san turned red like a boiled octopus and began glancing at me.
"W-what are you going to do with me noja. D-don't tell me, you, to this childish body..."
"No no no, you're mistaken. Kagura-san, come back to reality."
"...Losing to his lust, Noubsada's thing... to my young... Aaaa, I'm going to..."
Kagura-san is writhing about for some reason. What kinda delusions you're having anyway.
"Oy, earth to Kagura-san. You'll have to bear with my spare, I'm just going to make your clothes with them."
"I-Is that right. Sorry. My mother taught me to be careful not to connect my body to a man...."
How her expression can change dramatically sure is interesting. Wonder if she gets easily affected by her emotion because her body turns younger.
But more importantly, what the heck did Kagura-san's mother teach to a kid!?
While thinking about that, I took out needle, thread, and a spare tunic from the rucksack, and began to roughly sew. Even though it's a tunic of someone small like me, it's still too baggy for the current Kagura-san. Cutting the superfluous parts with the iron sword, I made a kid-sized dress in a blink of an eye. Umu, quite well made.
"You're very skillful. I've never worn such fluttery clothes like this before, but it doesn't feel half-bad at all."
She twirls around to check out the feels. Looking at her breaking out smiles, it seems she finds it to her liking. By the way, for the underpants, I've cut some cloth and made thong out of it. Cuz, it'd be bad if she didn't wear one!
Since we've been here for a while, we should take a break, get something to eat and discuss what to do from here on out.