Last Embryo Volume 2 Chapter 3 Part 1
In the meantime, at the ruins to the north of the Great Tree.
The Minotaur’s limbs burned, ached and trembled as he collapsed onto the ground one more time.
Even though his monstrous body possessed inhuman endurance and tolerance to pain, even it had to give in eventually under its continuous and relentless assault filled with so much fierce hatred and malice that it damaged not only its body, but also his heart and soul. And yet, there was no end to this pain as he continued to be skewered by the giant arrows fired by the Underwood’s ballistas like the droplets of the rain during a torrential downpour. He has been hit by so many of them that he should have died a long time ago, but no matter how many of them he took head on, how many of them cleaved the beat off his bones, he wasn’t even remotely close to dying.
He rolled on the ground drowned in so much agony that he started foaming at the mouth, but no matter how long he endured this torment and waited, there was no visible end in sight. He still was not allowed to finally part with his accursed existence.
Instead, what was happening to him was something exactly opposite to dying. He felt like his body was becoming more alive, more active, as if every fiber of his being wanted to defy the fate that the others wished upon him.
His muscles were twisting, transforming, converging and compressing incessantly, slowly but surely morphing him into something that he was not, an unknown, terrifying kind of creature, to the point that even the Minotaur himself began to be afraid of the abomination he was slowly turning into, but there was nothing he could do about it. Right now, he could only crawl on the ground and growl like a wounded beast he was, unable to be understood by anyone.
As he tried to crawl away from the balistas and hide among the rubble of the ruins around him, his needlessly loud growls reverberated throughout the entire area, giving away his position to those who seek to hurt him, but he did not understand why this was happening. This land separated from the main city should have been completely void of any human presence, and yet here they were, directing their hostility-filled weapons towards him from the very moment he appeared.
Although barely, the leftovers of human speech could be faintly heard among all of the shrieking and roaring, but they were drowned out by the mixture of all of the foam and saliva that gushed out of his mouth like a non-stop stream of water. No matter how much he begged and screamed that he just wanted to live, his pleas were simply falling on deaf ears, since no one was willing to listen to what a monster who was only capable of bringing death and destruction wherever he went possibly had to say, and it was all because he was now the Minotaur, a Monster of the Labyrinth, the bull monster of king Minos described in the Greek mythology, an abomination that killed and ate innocent people simply because they wonder into his solitary prison.
To the entire world, he was nothing more but a heartless Man-eater. Without knowing anything about him or his circumstances, they have lumped him together with the lowly beasts that couldn’t control their hunger and basic instincts without devouring the flesh of humans.
In the entire world of Little garden, a place filled to the brim with Spirits, Demons, Angels, Gods and all manner of fantastical creatures, Maneaters were the race that was the most difficult to peacefully coexist with, which doesn’t mean that they were the only race that attacked humans simply so that they could ensure their own survival. For example, the Perytons, a race of Spirits that came to Little Garden from the continent of Atlantis were universally known to be a murderous species, the ones who hunted down anything and everything in their sights as dictated by their instinct. As far as the Gods and rulers of Little Garden were concerned, a peaceful coexistence with those kinds of species that assaulted other intelligent life forms seemingly without any valid reason was deemed impossible, and so it was decreed that they should be killed on sight. Even so, even among those people there were always bound to be a few of them who wanted to help those Man-eaters, but not here. In this place, there was no one who would even consider extending a helping hand to someone who could eat them the moment they turned their back against them. Anyone who saw his hideous appearance always did only one of two things: tremble in fear or try to run away as fast as they could.
That is why no one in that place would even think of saving the Minotaur from death. On top of that, the pain that kept on eroding his entire being did not stop and continued to cause endless alterations to his body. Miraculously regaining the intelligence that was supposed to have faded away on the day when he became the monster he was today, he desperately tried to squeeze human words through his sore, dried up throat.
But those two words, the ones he poured his everything into articulating, didn’t reach anyone, fading away into the darkness of the stormy night around him. Even if he was in the middle of a place inhabited by humans, the end result would have probably not changed in the slightest. The only thing he could have hoped for was to finally be put out of his misery by greedy monster hunters who would undoubtedly take advantage of the situation where all they would have to do was to hack away at him when he didn’t even have the strength to stand back on his own two feet. So the only ones who would probably be mad enough not to run away in this situation…would probably be the other Man-eaters, or experienced Adventurers who have travelled the world and seen places much more dangerous than the Labyrinth, killing monsters stronger than the Minotaur in their own nests and lairs.
「Now this is quite surprising. Who would have thought that the truth hidden behind the legend of the Minotaur will be something like this?」
He could clearly hear the sound of footsteps on the destroyed pebbles of the road. The Minotaur slowly raised its head to see who was their source… And what he saw, was a young boy who wore clothes that looked like they were a size too small for him. He still looked like a kid, so he couldn’t be more than 14 years old, which wasn’t all that apparent because of how unusually tall he was. If not for his facial features which still showed signs of immaturity, he might have even passed for a teenager. Although his voice was quiet and calm, a surprising amount of power could be heard behind it.
This boy who appeared in the ruins out of nowhere wasn’t showing any signs of being afraid of the monster in the slightest, but instead, he looked down on the Minotaur as if something about him has caught his eye.
Enduring the pain which felt like it could tear his body apart at any moment now, Minotaur looked at the boy. He stepped towards the bull monster who was writhing on the ground in agony, reached towards him with his right hand and touched his head in a comforting gesture, after which he called out to the other person that was slightly behind him: a young girl wearing polka-dotted clothes.
「Can you do something to temporarily numb his pain, Pest?」
「I guess I could. But… are you really sure about this, Jin?」
「Yes, absolutely. If we won’t do something, he’s going to go insane from the pain at any moment now, and that would be problematic. If he is to contribute to finishing this Gift game, the he has to do it in his true form.」
The boy called Jin said as he looked back at Pest, who tilted her head as if she was unsure of what his intentions were.
「….. It looks like the pain that he’s feeling is quite an excruciating one. Wouldn’t it be better to simply allow him to die quickly so that he doesn’t have to suffer anymore?」
「As I said, that would be all sorts of problematic. Minotaur… no, I guess it would only be fair to call him by his real name, Asterios. I believe that Asterios here has completed one of the Game’s Winning Conditions without even realizing it by assuming this incomplete form. I’m willing to bet that he probably doesn’t even know what’s happening with him right now.」
With those words, Jin separated his hand from Asterios’ head. He just continued to stare at the boy with eyes full of suspicion, not understanding a word of what this little runt was saying.
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