Translator: Kell | Editor: Ryunakama
“I just don’t know how to talk to you, okay?” I frowned, spitting the words out. “I basically just swear at people.”
I’d get dumbstruck whenever people talked to me nicely.
“I see,” Zero said. “Then you may practice with me. I will keep on talking about a lot of things in the future.”
Ugh, why do I even bother? I can’t win against her. I guess I just have to get used to it.
“You better not get mad if I ignore you.”
“I will, of course, be angry. I wish to converse. Talking alone is dull.”
“You can get mad all you want, then.”
“You are one cold-hearted man. It would not hurt for you to be nicer to your employer.”
“Mercenaries only do what they’re hired to do. Nothing more, nothing less.”
Groaning, Zero traced her fingers across my back. It felt like she was writing something rather than washing. I tried focusing on it, but I couldn’t quite figure out what she wrote. Zero giggled.
“What’s so funny?”
“I am not telling.”
“You will find out one day. Then you will thank me and be forever in my debt. A curse, if you will. Terrifying, isn’t it?”
“Fuck that shit! Undo it, right now!”
“I will not. Come now, turn around. I cannot wash your back otherwise.”
With my threats ineffective, my only choice was to obey. I quietly turned my back to her. After rinsing my whole body off to get rid of the suds, I felt completely refreshed.
Zero regarded me with a frown. “You look nice and clean. Hmm… I hardly recognized you.”
“Just say it. I look like a wet cat. I know.”
Beastfallen often look quite as pitiful as wet animals, if not more. As I wiped myself with a dry cloth, Zero looked around restlessly.
“What are you do—”
“Do not tell anyone.”
Smiling, Zero flicked her finger. A second later, my fur was completely dry.
“Wh-Whoa! What the hell?!” I exclaimed despite myself. “How’d you do that?! It usually takes half a day to dry myself! Man, I’m so soft and fluffy! I can be a rug at a castle or something!”
Being a rug is too self-deprecating, but I think it’s the greatest compliment a fur can receive.
“Wait… you idiot! We’re in the middle of town!”
I snapped back to my senses. Zero faced me with an extremely annoyed look.
“Are you praising me or admonishing me? Make up your mind, or your words will not be as effective. Worry not. I made sure no one was watching.”
“In that case… I guess it’s fine.”
“By the way…”
“Should you not cover yourself down there? You reprimanded me harshly back at the clothes store, but you sure are carefree.”
Zero’s gaze flitted towards my lower abdomen. Letting out a scream, I quickly put on my pants, covering my face from Zero’s laughter.
Then all of a sudden, an appalling vibe filled the backyard. Three women and a man appeared from around the corner. My fur stood on end as I saw the man’s dog face. I thought I smelled something nasty, and as it turned out, it happened to be a fellow Beastfallen.
“Oh, what’s this?” the man said. “A kin?”
Kin, my ass. Stupid mutt.
“Let’s go.” Urging Zero, I gathered all the buckets and started walking.
Beastfallen typically don’t make friends with each other, partly because they find each other’s stench unbearable. That, and they feel this strange sensation to stay away from fellow Beastfallen. A feral cat would not stay quiet if shoved in a cage. That sort of thing.
“Ignored, huh? You’re a cold guy. It’s not too often I meet fellow freaks.”
“Sorry, but unlike you dogs, I don’t like being in packs.”
“I’m a wolf, damn it!”
Same difference, if you ask me. Wolf Beastfallen always reacted like this when treated like a dog.
“Either way, two Beastfallen together is one too many,” I said. “Don’t think I can handle another’s smell.”
“Can’t argue with that,” the man replied. “Which is why I’m gonna have my ladies clean me up from top to bottom today. Check ’em out. Quite the lookers, aren’t they?”
As we were about to leave, he put his arm around my shoulders and pointed at the three women frozen in fear. I found him utterly annoying, but Beastfallen have this unspoken agreement to not be hostile with one another.
I directed my gaze to the three women he bragged about. They were indeed pretty like he claimed; they looked young, and perhaps it was his preference, but all three had blonde hair. How much did he even pay for them? Hell, they don’t even look like prosti—
And then it hit me. I held my breath.
“Did you hunt them?”
He grinned broadly, his face almost splitting in half. “That’s right. Apparently they’re witches. I thought about bringing them to the capital to face trial, but you know what they say about those trials. They can be really harsh. The poor little things! They’re so young and adorable. So I decided to protect them.”
I felt all the fur on my body bristle. He probably just accused a village of having witches and forced them to hand over young women. All he had to do was threaten to destroy the village if they didn’t surrender the witches, and they would have no other choice but to give in to his demands.
Beastfallen are monsters, and monsters always prey on powerless humans.
“Mercenary,” Zero called.
Oh, shit. I quickly tried to hide her, but my positioning was poor. The moment the wolfman realized the voice belonged to a woman, he reached for Zero’s hood and roughly pulled it back.
“What do you think you’re doing?! Get your filthy hands off of her!”
I pulled Zero back from him, put her hood back on, and hid her behind me.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa. Where’d you get that? How? Did you hunt her? Buy her? I haven’t seen one as good as that! I want one too!”
The stupid mutt sniffed her repeatedly, then raised his face as though realizing something.
“Wait a sec. Don’t tell me…”
Does he know she’s a witch? Fuck. I started walking, hiding Zero from his view. We can’t stay here any longer.
“She’s my employer, and you’re not allowed to touch her. Time to go.”
“Mercenary,” Zero said. “They are not witches.”
Her voice sounded strangely loud in my ears. She pointed at the frightened women and gave me a puzzled look, as if saying “One look is enough to tell they are not witches.” I knew, of course. I was painfully aware of that.
“It’s fine. Let’s go.”
“Just listen to me!”
“I cannot stand this.”
I shrank back. Zero’s eyes and voice were cold and hard. It was hard to believe they belonged to the same woman smiling brightly just moments ago.
“Neither can I,” I replied in a low voice.
Light returned to Zero’s eyes. As much as I hated the current situation, we had to ignore it. Raising a ruckus here would only cause trouble. Even if we said those girls weren’t witches, the village would likely claim they were. Suspicion would then fall on us.
“Whoa there. That’s a false accusation, you know,” the Beastfallen said. “Hey girls, you can use Sorcery, right? In fact, I’m under their spell right now and can’t kill them. Otherwise, I’d have fucked them till they went crazy and sold them afterwards!”
“Keep this a secret, okay?”
Flashing a smile, Zero waved her finger. In an instant, Muttface’s fur, every last strand of it, fell off. Wet Beastfallens might look pitiful, but there was nothing as miserable as a hairless one.
Resisting the urge to laugh, I bolted away with Zero in my arms. A moment later, Dogface’s scream reverberated for miles. Unable to hold it in any longer, I burst into laughter. Zero laughed too, with her arms wrapped around my neck. It wouldn’t have been the least bit funny if it happened to me, but nothing was more hilarious when it happened to someone else.
As expected, Dogface didn’t come out of his room that night, and the next morning, the girls he so bragged about had disappeared. For the record, I had nothing to do with it.
I did, however, go out for a late night stroll. I seem to recall prying open some room while half-asleep, but that was probably just a dream.
That aside, there were more pressing matters at hand. When I woke up the next morning, I found Zero, who was supposed to have her own room, sleeping in my arms. For some reason, Albus started attacking me, calling me an animal and a degenerate. My head still hurt from the chair he threw at me. Despite their wild imaginations, kids these days sure try hard to act pure.
“I told you, you got the wrong idea! Why the hell would you be mad anyway?”
“Shut up! Your head is mine!” Albus said. “As you know, you can’t have its owner being gross. That would be an absolutely horrible sacrifice to the demons.”
Fuck if I know. Wait, you’re still after my head?
“I believe I said he belongs to me,” Zero cut in. “You will not have his head, laddie.”
Wow. A beautiful woman and a pretty boy fighting over me. Yeah, doesn’t make me the least bit happy.
“Come on! Just his head!”
No way in hell! Man, I can’t wait to find the grimoire so I can kiss witches and Sorcery goodbye.
While listening to their stupid argument over my head, we left Fomicaum; our destination: the campus.