Shadow Ruler - Chapter 2
“Haah… I understand how you feel, but please don’t push yourself… That’s really how I feel, but… Master will also be worried if we fall down due to recklessness, right? You know? We’re worried about you, too. If you’re thinking of us, please don’t strain yourself.”
I walked a lot without restraint, fell down and fainted, and when I woke up, the cat took care of me and the bird warned me.
I’d cry if they fell down because they were trying so hard for me… Mm… I’ll be careful.
“Okay, I hope you understand how we feel. For now, let’s camp out over there for a while. Fortunately, it’s almost like we can get out of the rain and wind without any trouble.”
I looked at the direction he was pointing with his beak and there was a large tree there with a strange shape.
There was a place underneath the tree called Roots that was in the dirt, and then there was a hole in the dirt, which turned out to be a kind of cave, but at the inside of the cave was a place wide enough for me to lie down and stretch my legs out a lot.
So, thankfully, I was allowed to rest here for the night.
The bird told me that it is very rare to find a tree of this shape, so it is very lucky that I found it when I was trying to rest.
I’ve never been outside before, so I don’t know how I should react.
The entrance is large enough for me as a child, but not so large for an adult to enter, so the cat and the bird take turns watching over the entrance.
I thought it would be better for me to join them and take the night watch, but they said it would be better for me to rest, so I honestly went to sleep.
The sky was orange and beautiful at the time I fell asleep, and the bird told me that it was usually very early in the day for sleeping, but I was so tired that when I woke up, the sun was nearly at the top of the sky.
It seemed I had slept a lot.
For dinner, I ate some dumplings that the cat had made from herbs and nuts that she had ground into small pieces or kneaded into one. The cat was very good at it.
The cat is very good at it, so I think it’s really tasty.
I heard that she had carefully thought out the combination of nuts and herbs so that I would find it easy to eat them, and she had also considered the nutritional balance.
I’m very happy.
Then we started walking again.
Unlike in the grasslands, it was very difficult to walk in the forest because of the roots of the trees, so it was easy to trip and fall.
…Actually, I did fall down.
That’s why the bird told me to walk slower than usual and to check my footing carefully.
I was so busy walking that I didn’t notice, but the bird and cat were always on the lookout and casually guiding the way to avoid encountering demons.
That’s why we didn’t encounter any demons at all, I realized a long time later. Rather, it was when I had the strength to walk normally and could keep an eye on my surround while walking
And so we continued on slowly, one step at a time, taking breaks as we went.
I don’t know how far I’ve gone because there are so many trees, but the bird show us the way, so we don’t get lost.
…If I were alone, I would probably get lost.
The bird told me that it was easy to get lost in the forest.
So, when my legs were getting sore, and I was about to take a break, the bird shouted to me in a very panicked tone.
What’s going on?
I nodded my head.
“… Sorry Master… I was trying to avoid the demons, but they were smart… We’re surrounded. Calm down, let’s go to the big tree there first. We’ve got to make sure they don’t take our backs.”
The bird was always right, so I listened to him and used what little energy I had to go to the big tree and lean my back against it while standing.
It’s one of the basic rules to avoid being surrounded by demons.
I guess that’s true, if you look at it that way.
Rather than being surrounded by them and having them do whatever they want, it’s less likely that they’ll come at you if they’re within sight.
The cat is threateningly wary of its surroundings, and the bird is calmly observing its surroundings while hovering above my head.
“Tsk! Traumadog, huh… So troublesome…”
Not a wolf, but a dog demon.
Medium-sized dog in terms of size.
Their speed and strength are slightly above average for a medium-sized dog, and instead of being able to attack from a distance, such as breathing fire, they act in packs.
It is said that if you find one of them, you are already surrounded by 50 of them, and even if dealing with one is no problem, dealing with a whole pack is notoriously troublesome.
Parts that can be collected: magic stones, either fangs or fur.
“Master! Don’t move from there!”
I’ll do as I’m told and remain standing with my back against the big tree and try not to move.
I can’t use magic, and I can’t fight, so it’s impossible anyway.
But when the time comes, I’m going to use what little strength I have and hit it with this staff.
That’s why I hold it in both hands and keep it ready.
The dogs didn’t attack all at once, so they came at us a few at a time, but the cat wagged her tail.
The cat would swing its tail and make a big poof sound against the dog’s neck and knock it away.
Then the cat extends its claws about 10 centimeters and tears out the next dog’s eyes.
The bird was pecking at the dog’s eyes and clawing at the eyes and face with its three claws.
After the bird attacked, the dog’s movements went weird, and then it became just a magic stone or something.
I was told later that the bird’s claws were poisonous.
The bird explained to me that it was a slow-acting type of poison.
But since he was protecting me, one of them slipped behind him and attacked me.
“Master, you’re dangerous!”
Almost at the same time as the bird shouted, one of the biggest dogs in the pack (about the size of a large dog) jumped at me.
I unconsciously extended my staff, which I was holding at the ready, so that I could poke it straight at the dog.
Fortunately, even though my strength was not that great, the dog lunged at me, so it stabbed itself on its own.
Then, it was turned into nothing but stone and fangs.
“Alright! Master nice! But sorry about that!”
I was told later that the bird’s apology was for the dog’s attack on me.
He had nothing to apologize for, right?
He’s protected me a lot, and that’s enough.
But such coincidences didn’t work twice.
I had no energy to begin with, my legs were wobbly, and I was a wreck, but I had used the last of my energy to kill one of the dogs.
In other words, there was no way I could do the same thing to the second dog.
Besides, there were only three of us, while the other side had so many.
Moreover, I was the one who was slowing them down.
I’m not sure if I can do this anymore…
I could have had so many more firsts…
But I was happy enough to have lived until today, even though I was supposed to die at that time.
I was supposed to be filled with resignation, but tears started to flow from my eyes.
Why am I crying?
The second dog that attacked me was a medium-sized dog, but it lightly dodged my wand and tried to bite me.
I’m sure he would have easily eaten a dog the size of me.
“Master! Damn it! We’re not going to make it in time!
I hear the panicked voice of a bird and the angry purr of a cat.
They were saying, “Get out of my way! That’s what he was saying to the dogs that were disturbing him.
I closed my eyes as I hugged the cane tightly, hoping that at least the last thing I did would be painless.
“Water! Cut through it!”
“Move it, move it, move it~!!!!!”
“Get out of my way!!!”
It doesn’t hurt, even after a while.
Did I really die, was that why it didn’t hurt anymore?
But I never stopped feeling tired or anything like that, like the bird told me before.
My legs were still shaking, and I was exhausted as usual.
And when I opened my eyes, I saw that my eyes were surrounded by blue.
Later, I realized that the blue was a garment called a robe.
“Are you okay? I’ll take care of you right away! But first! What are you doing with an innocent little girl, you dogs! How dare you!!!”
“Whoa! I understand what you’re going through, but calm down!”
“Yes, that’s right! Take it easy!”
“You’re gonna drag us into this! Damn it! She’s really going for it!”
“Water! Answer my call and pierce all my enemies!!!!”
“Stop it!!! You’re gonna get us dragged into that!”
I thought I heard the beautiful big sister’s voice, but then the big sister’s voice quickly became scary.
Then I heard the other big brother and the other big sister’s voices, sounding very panicked.
After that, there were a lot of dog noises here and there, and various sounds of things breaking off, falling down, and being crushed.
“Whew!!! That felt good!”
“Right? You cleared the forest in no time at all… Damn… You’ve got such a short temper…
” Indeed… Someday I’ll… I can only see a future where I’m going to be killed by this thing, not by a demon.”
“That’s… I can’t deny it, but I promise I won’t tell… We’re buddies.”
“Anne-chan, shall we have a private talk later?”
“No! I’m sorry! I’ll take one meal duty for you, please forgive me!!”
I think I was in a terrible situation.
I think Bird-san called it “chaos”… I don’t know what it means, but I didn’t think it would be that bad…
“Master, are you all right? Are you hurt?”
Bird-san came over in a panic.
I was sitting on the floor with my head down, but he and Cat-san, who were also worried about me, so I patted them down and told them that I was fine because I escaped from the dog’s attack.
“Sorry… I was so caught up in defeating the enemy that I was forced to distance myself from Master… I realized it was too late… I’m really sorry.”
I continued patting them with the feeling that they had done their best, and it wasn’t their fault.
I want to give them a hug, but I’m not strong enough for that, so I’ll give them a hug later, okay?
“Are you guys okay?”
A grown man.
He has bright red hair and looks very big and strong, but he has a kind face.
“I see… I’m glad we made it in time…”
“It was a coincidence this time, you know? I just happened to sense it.”
big sister, with blue hair down to her shoulders, told me that she had found out about the fight between Bird-san and Cat-san by accident and then rushed over to help me.
She was cheerful.
“Are you sure you’re okay? Were you so scared you couldn’t speak?”
Said the big brother, with his brown hair tousled.
“Of course, she’s so young, after all. Even a low-level adventurer would be in trouble if surrounded by that many dogs, right? It’s usually a medium level for just one party to deal with them.”
“We’re just barely managing…”
The one who worried about me the most was the big sister, with her cream-colored hair that reached to the middle of her back.
“By the way… I know it’s a little late for this, but did Crow-san over there, spoke?”
“Yes, I can talk.”
“He really did talk! It wasn’t just my imagination!”
“And… Thank you so much for your help. You saved me from killing Master.”
“Master, you mean you guys are her contracted beasts?”
“What’s a contracted beast?”
“Eh? A contracted beast is a demon beast that has made a contract with a master to obey the master.”
“Oh, so how do you make a contract with a contracted beast? We’re only there for the Master, we don’t have any kind of contract with her.”
Cat-san nodded in agreement.
“Well, yes. I mean, does this little girl look like she can make a contract or something? She’s a little girl.”
“Oh, uh… Yeah. Okay, let me introduce myself, okay? I’m Lily, and from that side, Dan, Zell, and Anne.”
Lily is the one with blue hair who beat the surrounding dogs with water.
Big brother with red hair is Mr. Dan
The big brother with brown hair is Zell.
The big sister with cream-colored hair is Anne.
“So, who are you guys?”
What do they want me to say?
I was tilting my head, and Lily-san tilted her head with me.
I was staring at her for a while, tilting my head.
“Oh my god! She’s so cute!”
She suddenly hugged me tightly.
In addition, my face was buried in her boobs, which seemed to be reasonably large, and it was hard to breathe.
I heard that men like this, but enjoying it while risking their lives? What an amazing thing for a man to do.
“Hey! Don’t hold her so tight! Master is too weak! You’ll break her bones! She will die!”
Bird-san snapped in a panic.
“Sorry, sorry… but you sure are thin… I mean, isn’t she too thin?”
“That’s what I’m saying…”
“So, what are your names?”
They all say, “Eh?”
“Me and the cat with the long tail on that side don’t have names, and Master doesn’t have a name either.”
“What? That’s weird, isn’t it?
“It’s not weird. After all, her own parent didn’t name her.”
A scary aura (I heard it’s called “murderous atmosphere”) leaked out from Bird-san.
“… I won’t tell anyone… Can you tell me what’s going on with you guys? This girl is too thin and the amount of injuries… These are abuse marks, right? And these clothes… It’s not like she’s from the slums or anything, right? You guys are way too organized for that.”
“Yeah, we’ll swear not to tell anyone else, too.”
“Of course we will.”
“What about Master?”
Bird-san asked, and I patted him on the head, leaving it to him.
Then Bird-san spoke.
I didn’t know the name of the town or my father’s name at all, but they went into great detail about my day-to-day life so far, from being the daughter of a lord, to my great escape.
Cat-San also had a lot of supplementary information on her tail.
“Hmmm, that… That’s ridiculous…”
“Ah, that’s not normal.”
“You had a difficult delivery, and you weren’t very strong, were you? Your mother…”
“How can that be the fault of the child that was born! And you can’t put a false accusation on this child, and still have it be for your own personal gain!
“I think it’s going to be okay for now, you know?”
“Does Bird-san have any idea about what’s going on?”
“The tough guy who helped us escape from that town told us that he had collected a lot of evidence of their embezzlement and other things, and after he let us escape, he was determined to expose them to the world and have them die socially.”
“We don’t even know the name of the town. We don’t even know the names of the family. And the random transfer magic that they used to move us around… And we have no evidence… The fact that we can’t do anything about it is also true… I’ll leave it to that person.”
“Master’s mother said. Words gain power when they hold strong feelings.”
“Wow, what a nice mother you have.”
“I heard that word is called the spirit of speech, though.”
“Is it some kind of special magic?”
“She was a mysterious person in many ways. While she was alive, she was kind to me and the cat, she fed us, and she read to us often.”
“… If it were possible, I would have liked to have met her and talked to her.”
“Not at all… If that person had lived, Master would have lived a happy life. Alright! I’m done talking about this! Master, let’s rest now, shall we? I think we’ve reached our limit, don’t you?”
Bird-san, you know exactly how I feel.
Actually, I am too tired and sleepy.
“But Bird-san, how can you understand this girl’s situation…? Even though she doesn’t speak and has no expression on her face.”
“The reason she is expressionless is that she has never known any happiness, so she has not been able to develop emotions and has pushed them inside. And it’s not that she doesn’t talk, she can’t talk.”
“…. What do you mean?”
“That damn lord!!! He crushed Master’s throat just because she cried too much at night. !!!”
“Isn’t that too much?”
“That’s why he’s not Master’s father! He’s a scumbag! I’d kill him myself if I could! That’s why Cat and I decided to protect Master together.”
“I see… I think I understand how close the three of you are and how much you care about each other.”
“So you guys are like her parents.”
“Well, yeah. He only brought a glass of water and a small piece of bread that was too hard for her to eat, which was almost the same as fasting, so we brought her nuts, wild vegetables, and medicinal herbs to feed Master. We were sneaking in while trying not to be seen by that guy, into the room where Master was locked up.”
“… Even if I wasn’t in your shoes, I’d feel the same way as Bird-san…”
“So, where were you headed?”
“We saw what looked like a town over there, so we were heading that way, taking frequent breaks…”
“Oh, yeah, that’s the closest town to here. We were on our way to that town, too.”
“… It’s not over yet.”
“What was Lily doing?”
“You know from the fight earlier that I can use water magic, right?”
“My water magic is a bit special and reacts very excessively to my emotions. So when I want to defeat someone, my attack power increases, and when I want to heal someone, my healing power appears. Isn’t that strange?”
“That’s unusual… Maybe you could help Master with her injury?”
” There are too many old wounds… She is lucky that she has only a few injuries on her face, but other than that, she is covered with injuries at a level where nothing could be done… The most I could probably do is make it a little faded… and when it comes to her throat… I probably won’t be able to do anything about it… I’m sorry.”
“Don’t worry about it. It is that Worthless Lord’s Fault to begin with.”
“Well… Do you want to go with us?”
” Why? Thanks, but what’s in it for you?”
“I’m here to help. Besides, in a way, you guys are the reason I have so much to cash in. Plus, there’s a Traumawolf in the mix.”
The term “Traumawolf” referred to a large-sized dog that is one size larger than the dogs.
The bigger the dog, the stronger it was.
“It’s going to be hard for you guys to carry all this with you, and you’d better have some money, right? And the medical care and clothes for the girl?”
“But we can’t take all that because there’s also your shares, right?”
“What are you talking about?”
“Eh? Is it different?”
“No, of course not. I can tell from the marks that you guys took out about 40% of those guys. Besides, it looks like the young lady took out one of the three Wolves… It’s amazing that she beat the Wolf, even if it was just by accident.”
“So, we’ll need to split the money for that, and we’d appreciate it if you went with us. Besides, it would be hard for us to feel good about it if we were to receive the portion of the money that you guys have taken down.”
“But we can’t do anything in return, you know?”
“Well, we want to take care of her until she settles down somewhat, so won’t you come with us? If you don’t, I’ll make her mine, okay?”
“I’m not giving her to you!”
“Then you’ll come with us, won’t you?”
“…Yes, we are grateful for the help.”
So, adventurers are like this? I was going to a town with a group of adventurers who were in charge of collecting money by fighting and helping others.
I tried to walk as fast as I could, thinking that I would be a nuisance if I didn’t walk by myself, but Lily-san carried me in her arms.
Then there was Cat-san on Dan-san’s head, and Anne-san was petting Bird-san on her shoulder for some reason.
Zell-san is lightly fighting Cat-san’s tail as we go along.
Why am I being carried?
I was tilting my head thinking about it.
“Neglecting such a cute little girl is just garbage, seriously… It’s impossible… She’s so cute… So cute//”
She looked so happy, holding me in her arms and petting me around.
Since she looks happy, I should just stay put for now.
Besides, everyone told me not to force myself to walk.
“Sorry… If I’d had a carriage or something, we would have gotten there faster and made it easier on you, missy…”
“We’re just grateful to be taken like this.”
“And sorry about Lily over there…”
“Oh… Don’t worry about it, Master also seems to be having a lot of fun, enjoying a lot of stuff for the first time. Let her spoil you.”
“… I agree. I’ll remind them to be reasonable and not too much of a burden.”
“Oh, I’ll leave that one up to you.”
“By the way, after you get into town, you’ll need to have your guild card made as proof, right?”
” Yeah, I remember when people needed something like that.”
” Oh, right. So, what will be your name then? You can’t just go with a random name, you know? We have lives to lead. And so does the rest of you.”
“Yeah, we’ll have to register you as contracted beasts, so you could come in and out of town and stuff…”
“So we need to have a name to be registered?”
“That’s what I mean. The race and name are the minimum requirements.”
“I see… We wanted Master to decide, so we were waiting patiently…”
“Sorry about all this…”
“And how do you decide? This girl, you guys want her to decide, don’t you? She can’t speak, can she?”
“She can read simple letters, but she can’t speak them, so if she can write them down, she’ll be fine.”
“Is it Bird-san who taught her those letters, too?”
“No, it was the cat who did that.”
“I’m more of a knowledge specialist, you know. Cat-san specializes in things like that, but she can write with her tail, and she can do most of the housework and mix things.”
“You guys are really protective of her…”
“I’m not exaggerating when I say that we raised her!”
“Indeed… That’s very convincing. Well then, there’s a cave-like place over there at the perfect time, so why don’t we camp there, even if it’s early? We can make a decision from there.”
“I guess so…”
The big sisters and big brothers were very fast at walking, so they progressed many times faster than I did.
They were able to do the same amount of walking in half a day that I could do in days.
And then, at the right time, they found a cave-like place that Bird-san said we would spend the night in.
And then, after deciding my name there, I will decide the names of Bird-san and Cat-san.
I don’t even have a name of my own, so why should I name them Bird-san and Cat-san?
Bird-san and Cat-san said it would make them the happiest, so I’ll have to think hard.
“Bon appétit, then!”
“Here! You have to eat your fill, young lady. Eat up, eat up.”
“Hey! Don’t let him eat that!
“And… Meat is the best way to build up your strength.”
“Master has been eating only a few nuts, medicinal herbs, and wild vegetables since she was born, and if she eats such a stomach-churning food, she will throw up! That’s a no-no! Master, your body will get sick if you eat something like that…! So, you need to let it slowly build up, okay?”
That meat is dangerous, and it will make me sick if I eat it.
I shouldn’t eat it for now… I remembered.
Meat is dangerous.
Lily-san was holding me and hugging me while we were moving, but now I am on Anne-san’s lap, and she was petting me.
Anne-san’s boobs were about one size bigger than Lily-san’s.
Bird-san says that she was wearing a smaller dress. Bird-san says that she was trying to make herself look skinny.
Then, Cat-san made me some dumplings, so I ate them.
As usual, it was Cat-san’s original, a combination of nuts, medicinal herbs, and wild vegetables.
I would be full after a few bites, so Cat-san would make them very small.
Bird-san told me that for my age, I didn’t even eat enough for half of it.
According to Bird-san, I am too thin and weak to eat.
He said that my goal was to be able to eat the same amount of food that a normal child my age eats.
“You’re really dexterous… What does it taste like?”
Want some? She tilted her head and made one, then grabbed the extra one by the tail and handed it to me.
“Are you sure? Then, thank you…”
“How do you like it?”
“It tastes really strange.”
“What does it taste like?”
“It’s like a nice, easy-to-drink blend of vegetable and fruit juices, but reworked into a herbal dumpling… I don’t know what else to say.”
“Ah… I think I kind of understand what you mean. That’s what she’s eating now, isn’t it?”
“She eats too little, so she needs to be nourished as much as possible. This is the original.”
That’s how the meal ended.
“Now we are going to have a meeting to decide on a name… I would say, but I wanted to ask you one question.”
Dan-san had a question he wanted to ask.
“What happened to that cane you’ve been holding?”
“It looks exactly like the one I used to hear about a long time ago…”
“Yeah, that’s what I thought.”
“The magic contained in the Wand is at a level where it is specialized in the support system, which is very important for this girl right now, so the auxiliary magic is not that strong and very modest, and it is definitely at a level where the strength of the magic will gradually be enhanced…”
“Hey… What’s with the Wand?”
“Bird-san, you don’t know?”
“No, we just got it from a guy by the name of Grandpa, who was working with a tough-looking older brother who gave it to us.”
“I see… That Wand looks a lot like the Wand of the sage.
I’m not sure.
…Who exactly was Mr. Sage?
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