Shadow Ruler - Chapter 1
Encounter and farewell
I don’t know anything.
I don’t know how to talk.
I don’t know letters.
I can’t read, I can’t write, I can’t speak.
I don’t know any place other than the room I’m in.
I don’t know anyone other than the man I call father.
I don’t know the outside world.
And I don’t know the warmth of people.
I don’t know my mother.
My mother had a difficult birth when she gave birth to me, and she died at the time of my birth.
My father is a very nice man in the eyes of the world.
He was kind to everyone, helped people a lot, and always lived life to the fullest.
He was also a man who cared about the world to a great extent.
The people around him were only aware of the degree to which he was strict about his status and rules, but from my perspective, it was abnormal.
He would even trample and throw away the lives of people other than himself with a smile on his face for the sake of the world.
Some of you may have noticed this from the flow of the story.
I have never been loved by my father.
He lost his beloved wife at the time when I was born.
This made my father perceive me as nothing more than a mother-killing abomination.
He instantly knew that the world would think him insane if he didn’t take good care of the child she risked her life to give birth to, so he pretended to be kind to me when others were around, and usually left me to the care of a nanny who was hired for money.
As a baby, I didn’t particularly care for her, but she had large breasts and was very beautiful.
And she was the only person who was truly kind to me.
That was until I developed something that looked like magic.
It was one day after I was born, when I was over three years old.
One day, when I was three years old, I was attacked by a ferocious wolf demon that recognized me as food and pounced on me.
It was defeated by my nanny, who was good at fire magic, without a scratch.
However, for a young child, the existence of demons was terrifying to no end.
It wasn’t until much later that I learned that the wolf demon was the size of an ordinary medium-sized dog and of a very low rank, but it was scary enough for me at the time.
I was unconsciously activating something that looked like magic because of that fear.
For some reason, by nature, my shadow was always darker in color than most people.
And I had far fewer emotional ups and downs than most people.
I could hardly make any facial expressions change.
Whether I was angry, laughing, or sad, my expression hardly changed, and my heart was rarely shaken.
However, in my first encounter with this demon, my feelings of fear appeared not in my facial expressions or gestures, but in my shadow.
My shadow was fluttering like water.
In other words, ripples of moving waves kept spreading around me.
The ripples were limited to the small area where my shadow was formed.
But because of the fluttering shadows and the strange magical power that my nanny had never felt before, it seemed to be a very frightening presence.
After that, the nanny never appeared in front of me.
I was not allowed to go out into the garden, which was the only place I could go out, and I was always confined in a room that could barely accommodate three adults.
However, I was only allowed to go out to the garden for a few minutes a day, and even that one day was only once every few dozen days.
The only time the door was opened was when the food came.
There was a potty in the room, so I used it.
My nanny taught me how to use the potty, so I was able to do it, though it took some effort.
I could not speak.
My nanny told me that it was because my father had crushed my throat after a few days of crying at night, crushing it so thoroughly that no amount of recovery magic could heal it.
And since my nanny disappeared before she could teach me to write, I couldn’t read or write.
So, there were times when I desperately tried to communicate with my father through actions and gestures.
However, my father would stare at me with nothing but anger in his eyes and beat me and kick me until I could not move.
The world was told that I had done something to my nanny that would scar her for life, along with her disappearance, so she had disappeared, and I myself was locked in a room because even my own parents could not help me.
And that the only reason he didn’t kill her was because his beloved wife left her to him.
Then every single person in the town I lived in, including those who didn’t even know I had existed, hated me and called me the devil’s child.
The only friends and protectors I had been a cat with a long tail and beautiful fur that looked like a blue moon that I could sometimes see through the window coming in softly, and a pitch-black bird with three legs.
I later realized that the bird was what people call a crow.
I also learned from the bird that the cat was the size of a normal adult cat.
The relationship between me, the cat, and the bird is unknown to my father, who only comes to bring me food.
This is because they only visit me when he was not around.
The only food that comes to me is a glass of water and a piece of very hard bread called black bread.
That’s all I get in a day.
The bread is so small that it can fit in both of my small hands.
The only reason I am still able to age up to five years old is because the cat and the bird secretly gather nuts and berries for me.
Also, the bread was so hard that no matter how hard I tried, I could hardly eat it, so I barely finished it.
This led to me being beaten up again by my father.
My father would vent everything he didn’t like about the town many times a day in the form of violence against me.
The bird told me that I should be able to listen and understand even if I couldn’t speak.
The bird seems to be a rare species in this world, and it can speak human language.
The cat can’t speak properly, but it can do everything with its tail.
When I was sick, the cat would make me medicine.
It could make simple concoctions.
It entertained me by making all sorts of shapes with its tail.
Hearts, surprise marks, wave marks, and so on.
So, even though I couldn’t leave my room, couldn’t move, and couldn’t speak, only the cat and the bird were kind to me.
Then, one night under a full moon.
I often stay up late at night because I can’t move or do anything, so gazing at the moon through the window where I can see a little bit of it every day is the only thing I look forward to in a day other than spending time with the cat and the bird.
That night, the cat and the bird came in with a very panicked look on their faces.
Even though they rarely ever came on a night like this.
“Master, we’re in trouble! We have to get out of here and run away quickly!!!!”
The Bird-san called me Master.
I don’t have a name, and I don’t know what he means by Master, but I understand that he’s calling me.
Then, I nod my head as if to ask why.
The cat also pulls my hand with his tail, telling me that I need to run fast.
“The townspeople have finally hired an assassin!”
“A profession that specializes in killing… ah… adults who are good at killing.”
He taught me that killing is a painful thing.
I don’t want to be in pain.
They hired him? What does that mean?
“It means they spent money to make a request.”
It seems that without money, people can’t give you something you want or even something you want to eat, so who would they ask to kill with such a valuable thing?
“They hired an official assassin instead of an underworld assassin. They lied to the higher-ups about the Master being evil… bad… and they gave permission for the Master to be killed by the higher-ups.”
Why do they have to kill me?
Did I… do something?
I don’t know anything about the world outside of this room.
What did I do wrong when I can’t even do anything?
Is there something wrong with me?
I heard that there are people who treat people like objects, but my father said that I’m useless because I don’t do anything.
My skin is pure white, but it’s tattered with blue marks from beatings and cuts, and my hair is long, almost to my knees, but it’s shaggy and frizzy and full of split ends.
The cat said I needed to cut my bangs, so the cat trimmed them with its claws.
Then the bird arranged it for me.
Also, my hair color was pitch black, which the bird said looked like jet black or the color of wet feathers of a crow.
My father used to say it was a weird color, but the cat and the bird said it was quiet and beautiful, like the night.
…I don’t know, but I think it’s easier to see now that my bangs are shorter.
I heard that split ends are not good for the hair.
And my body is skinny, and because I don’t move much, I’m even skinnier.
My clothes are a cloth dress that can barely be called clothes.
I’m a girl.
But the size of the window through which the moon can be seen is such that a body the size of mine could pass through it, but I don’t think I could climb it, and I don’t think any bird or cat would be able to lift me up.
I don’t want to die.
I do not want to be in pain.
But I don’t want the cat and the bird to get caught up in it and do things I want to do with them.
So I push my body outward to escape, even if it’s just the two of them.
“Why?… what did Master do? Why did Master have to go through that… damn it… why would Master sacrifice herself for the sake of people like them?”
I don’t like being hurt, but I hate it even more when people do things to the two of them because they want to be with me.
I don’t want them to be in pain because of me.
I don’t want that.
The tears that have never flowed since I was born flowed down my face as I tried my best to smile and smiled at them.
My expression barely changed, so they might not be able to tell.
“It’s not right, Master… damn it… it’s so frustrating… that we can’t do anything about it… that Master would be killed without us being able to do anything… damn it!…”
A very frustrated and sad looking cat and bird.
I think that was good enough for me.
I was happy enough that they were being this nice to me.
And then, as I was trying to use what little strength I had left to push them outward again, the window disappeared without a sound.
Or to put it more correctly, the window was completely gouged gouged out.
I shrank back, confused, with my head in a messy state.
Then the cat and the bird became my shield.
Then the cat, the bird, and I were grabbed by a very bulky arm that grew out of the window and pulled us outside.
I couldn’t speak, but my mind was a mess of fear and confusion, and I mobilized all my energy to protect the cat and the bird by hugging them tightly.
Both of them are trying to protect me.
I’m going to be killed like this.
Cat and bird…I’m sorry.
It’s my fault… and I apologize, moving my lips inaudibly.
“…I guess it’s okay if we make it this far.”
The voice sounded different from what I expected.
It was a gentle voice that I had never heard from anyone other than the bird, and when I looked at the owner of the voice with tears welling up in my eyes, I saw that it was a big brother with a scary face.
I am going to be eaten!
I instantly knew what was going on and turned my back to the man while hugging the bird and cat to protect them.
I forced my trembling body to protect them.
Then, I felt a hand gently patting me on the head.
“…I knew it was just like Gramps said…Damn it, who’s the devil’s child? How can a little girl protect a cat and a crow while neglecting herself? What’s more, she’s so kind… it’s just that the lord of the house is black-hearted… damn it!”
Grandpa? It seems that this person is different from the people of this town.
He said that although I’m supposed to be the devil’s child, he thinks that’s a lie.
And this grandpa? This scary-looking brother is an acquaintance of that grandpa?
It seems that father has a black stomach.
Is there something wrong with having a black belly?
“Master, a black belly is not a person with a black belly, but a person who is kind and nice in front of others, but thinks terrible things when others are not around. …More importantly, let me go… it’s painful.”
I hurriedly let go because I was hugging them too tightly, and they looked like they were in pain.
“Keho! It’s nice to be taken care of by Master, but I’d be happier if the hug was gentle.”
The cat nodded.
“For that matter, who’s that brother over there? I appreciate you getting us out of there. It’s not like he’s trying to kill us. What do you want?”
“Huh? You can talk, that’s unusual.”
“I’m a smart guy. So?”
“Well…I heard that the lord of this place was doing something underhanded, but there was no proof, so I’ve been hiding in here gathering evidence. And today, when I finally had all the information and was about to act, I saw you guys, so I helped you. So…what’s your name?”
I shook my head.
“She doesn’t have one… that damn lord didn’t give Master any human warmth, a decent meal, or even a name! …At least, if her mother was still alive…she was a very nice person.”
“Well… sorry… I mean, do you know the Lady of the Estate?”
“It ain’t no big deal. She used to feed me and read books to me quite often when I was visiting. That’s about it.”
“And that cat?”
“The same, and then we’ve been secretly taking care of Master since then.”
“So that’s it… and since we don’t have much time, I’ll explain quickly, okay? Are you aware of the situation?”
“Then let’s get to the story. The Lord have been working in secret to get you killed through the town’s people. …I won’t let that happen to you guys. I’ve finally obtained enough evidence against him by today. It’s not polite to say that it was a coincidence that I had to deal with those things, but I felt so sorry for the poor girl, so I helped her.”
“I don’t care whether it was a coincidence or not… thank you… even that kindness couldn’t be given to Master…”
“Seriously…damn…that person is a real piece of crap…”
Who is this? Who is that?
I tilted my head.
“…Just so you know, the lord is the most important person in this town, and his daughter is Master.”
I was the child of this great man called Lord….
But he is always angry at me, and whenever he was in a bad mood he would hit me…
“・・・・・ Seriously, what a joke of a lord… Damn it… He shows the poor Master all kinds of disgusting things every time…”
I don’t really understand what the cat and the bird were talking about.
For me, who can’t speak, they are so accurate that I think they can see what’s going on in my mind.
“What do you mean?”
“That damn lord is a womanizer, but he only comes to give her bread and a cup of water, which is so small that you can’t even call it a meal, and is so hard that Master can’t eat it… that’s all in one day!”
And when I told him that I couldn’t speak as a result of my father’s crushing my throat, and that he had locked me up…
“Seriously… I’m going to bring you to justice…”
He became angry for me like he was doing it for himself.
He looked so scary, but he was so kind.
” So what are we supposed to do? …As you can see, Master has hardly been allowed out of that room in the five years since she was born, so she has almost no muscles, and her nutrition is barely enough to survive on the nuts and herbs we’ve been giving her…”
“That’s mostly what you guys raised her with.”
“Even if she can’t speak, we educated her to the point where she can listen and understand…”
“… Please continue to take care of her.”
” I intend to.”
“So, use this.”
In the brother’s hand was a blackish-purple, transparent, sparkling stone.
It was about the size of one of the big brother’s hands.
I only thought it was pretty, but to him and the bird, it seemed to be very rare.
“What kind of magic is in it?”
“It’s a single-shot disposable, but it’s transfer magic.”
“Huh? What’s the deal with that thing?”
“Gramps found it by accident when he was young. He kept it for a long time, just in case something happened to him, and handed it to me. That’s why I decided to use it this time.”
“Are you sure about this? I’d be grateful if it could help Master, but I don’t have anything to give you in exchange, you know?”
“I don’t mind. This is the first time I’ve seen her like this, but she’s like a precious sister to me now… don’t worry about it.”
He said that and hugged me gently.
It didn’t hurt at all, and I felt a strange warmth deep in my chest that made me feel very comfortable.
“I’m sorry, even though you’re a little girl, I can’t believe I’m suddenly hugging a girl.”
“It’s okay. She’s still young, so it’s safe. Besides, that kind of thing is rather too much for Master to understand, so I’d like to thank you in return… thank you.”
“I see. Gramps told me that it’s enough for you to grow up healthy.”
As he said this, that beautiful stone began to glitter even more.
“Where are we going?”
“It would be inconvenient if they could trace you, so is kind of random. “
“Okay… what happens to the Master after we leave?”
” I will just cover it up. I’ll just fake it with earth magic or something if I have to.”
“How can they be fooled by that?”
“Don’t worry, they will. These guys are so predictable. Besides, I’m a specialist in earth magic.”
“Okay, well, you take care of it.”
“Oh, I’ll leave everything to you. In fact, thanks to your existence, I now have more weapons to accuse that damned lord.”
“I’m counting on you. But…”
“Oh, I’ll just tell the higher-ups in private about the evidence I’ve gathered so far and the fact that I randomly transferred her and let her go, so don’t worry, I can manage it. Our family has the kind of power to do something like that. Good luck with your new life.”
The figure of the big brother who said this was gradually fading away.
A warm light enveloped us.
“Well, my little sister… I really wish I could have spent some time with you. Oh, and this! Here’s a parting gift from Gramps! Take it!”
I couldn’t speak, but I did my best to say thank you with my mouth full, and the big brother smiled and gave me a thumbs up.
He told me later that the bird said it was called a Thumbs Up.
Just before the light enveloped us and made us invisible, the cat caught the stick-like object with its tail.
Then we were enveloped in light and I lost consciousness.
I woke up to the sound of the bird’s voice and saw that above me was not the familiar ceiling, but a blue sky and white clouds.
I slowly woke up and found the cat curled up in my lap, and the bird at my head.
Then I slowly looked around and saw that I was in the middle of a meadow full of grass and small flowers, and when I looked farther away, I saw a bunch of trees, big magnificent plants.
I looked around and saw that I was surrounded by trees.
The place with all those trees is called a forest or woods.
The bird told me that this place was like a field surrounded by a forest.
It seems to be a very peaceful place where demons rarely come.
To a normal person, this place would be boring and empty, but to me, experiencing the outside world for the first time, it was so wonderful that I could see the world shining brightly in every direction.
“But you know what? If you don’t pay attention to your surroundings in a place like this, you’ll be eaten by demons while you sleep. Do you understand?”
He told me that there was a lot of danger out there, so I had to be careful even when I was sleeping.
It’s amazing how difficult it is for adults to be careful while sleeping.
“Most of the time, people form teams and take turns to watch their surroundings, and it’s quite rare for people to be able to pay attention while sleeping.”
There are a few people who can do it alone, but they’re few and far between.
A team was a group of several people working together, and one of them would fall asleep while the other was looking around, another would look at the timing, the one who was looking would fall asleep, and so on.
Oh, by the way, what was the last thing the scary-looking guy threw?
The cat gave it to me.
Is that a stick?
“That’s a cane.”
A cane? I tilted my head and he told me.
“It’s a tool to help you use your magic powers, or to swing and strike when you fight. In other words, it’s there to help the Master and protect her when the time comes.”
He also told me that with this stick, I can work as hard as anyone else.
Also, walking normally is not something I have the strength or muscle power to do. But with this stick, I can walk longer than usual.
The stick is as long as an adult person, and it’s extremely simple, according to the bird.
The color is made of wood, but it had a natural green color, retaining the gentle color of the beautiful wood.
The bird told me that it looks green, but they use young wood, so they call it blue even though it is green.
To me, it’s not exactly a grass-like green, but it looks kind of soft green.
Also, when I hold it, my body feels warm, and I feel a little more energetic.
Moreover, it is so light that even I can hold it with ease.
It feels so light that I don’t even feel its weight.
“It looks like it contains magic to strengthen your body and magic to increase your magical power.”
He explained that body strengthening is a magic that can make you more energetic than usual when you use it, and magic skill increase is a magic that can make you better at manipulating magic power, which is the basis for using magic.
Well, I don’t know what magic is, but I find it mysterious.
Magic itself is a mysterious power that can do many things, depending on the individual.
I wonder if I can do it too?
I hope to find out someday.
“Let’s just get out of here, okay? It’s not good for us to stay here too long… I want to go to a town for now.”
We’re going to a town, a place where people gather.
But as far as I can see, there are only trees everywhere.
Which way do we go?
When I was tilting my head, the cat pointed with its tail.
After seeing that, a bird climbed up into the sky and looked in that direction and came back.
“There was a town-like place over there. Let’s go over there for now… We’ll take frequent breaks, so hang in there.”
I hugged the bird, who said he was sorry he couldn’t carry me, and the cat, who looked apologetic, with a gentle but not painful hug, and then I walked slowly, step by step.
The bird flew at the same pace as me, and the cat walked with me at the same pace.
I’m too weak to walk normally, but with the help of the cane, I can manage to walk… I have a lot to thank the big brother and grandpa for.
However, I was tired after walking a few dozen meters, as the bird said.
I was tired, but I couldn’t stop walking as hard as I could.
I was more energetic than usual thanks to the cane, but I couldn’t go any further…
“It can’t be helped. You haven’t been able to exercise for a long time. Besides, Master is still young. Why don’t we take our time? There’s no need to panic. Master can do whatever she wishes, wherever she wishes, however she wishes. You’re free now, you know?”
“Yes, freedom. Master needs to be happy. We’re here for you. Let’s just find a place where you can be happy and have fun together, okay?”
Is it okay… is it okay for me to seek happiness?
“It’s okay. We love you, Master. You want the person you love to be happy, right? You want them to smile a lot, right?”
“It’s the same in reverse. We love you too, so we want you to smile a lot. See?”
I think I understand the feelings of the bird and the cat.
I’m really tired, but I’ll do my best.
Let’s move forward.
We still have a long way to go, but let’s move forward.
The outside world is something I’ve never been able to see or feel before.
There are so many new things to experience.
I’m sure there will be hard times, but I’m sure I’ll be all right with the help of the cat and the bird.
I’ll do my best.
Ugh… But I can still see the forest, and I can’t even get to it… Ugh…
And I heard that the forest is a lot bigger than the meadow we’re in now. Or rather, the bird told me.
Ugh… I have to move around and find something to eat.
I’m so tired, my legs are getting sluggish, I’m losing my senses, I’m getting dizzy, and I’m starting to feel light-headed, but I try my best to walk.
I have to do my best.
The cat and the bird will be bothered, so I’ll do my best to walk.
That’s all I can do for now.
“Master, come on, we should get some rest, okay? I know how you feel, but don’t overdo it.”
The bird said in a very concerned voice.
But I didn’t hear it at the time.
I was so desperate that all I could think about was walking.
When I finally got out of the meadow and into the forest, I caught my leg on a tree root, fell down, and passed out instantly.
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