In the next day, Arlette was bought by a noble family. All that remained from her was the money for Al to buy himself.
It had been just a few days ago. Being at a marketplace she had never been to before, she had kept refusing many of the “offers”. However, faced with her own price increasingly getting higher, she ended up yielding.
Everything was for the sake of Al’s happiness…
Al wasn’t able to stop her. He wasn’t able to stop his sister from being taken.
Al wasn’t able to tell her. He wasn’t able to tell her not to leave him alone.
Al became alone. All this in exchange of him being released from slavery and little money so that he could live for a while without concerns.
“Yo, long time no see, freed man Al-kun.”
In the way back from Kail’s work, Kail and Havella went to visit Al’s house. Al received them with a dispirited face.
“…You are shabby-looking like always… Properly clean your room, hey.”
Kail quickly started the cleaning. Havella didn’t move a finger to help. She wasn’t good at housework in general. All in all, Kail was good at that to some extend on the other hand.
Havella handed an apple to Al. Al sluggishly moved his hand to take the apple, but Kail hit it before he could take it.
“How can dead fish eat apples?”
“…The apple I stole…”
Ignoring the murmured words, Kail glared at Al.
“I won’t tell you to go work. You aren’t anyone’s thing anymore, but a freed man. You won’t be treated as well as other people, but at least you can say goodbye to all the labor work. I am envious, damn it.”
Kail grabbed Al’s collar.
“But you know, why the hell are you making those dead fish eyes? Don’t go start living like a dead log. Who do you think you owe your freedom to!? Haah!? Who do you think that sold her own life for you!? For all the unhappiness that person will have to shoulder from now on, you should at least become happy, or all that would have been for nothing, you idiot!”
Kail’s angry voice echoed at the shabby small room. Havella didn’t move to stop Kail.
“But, nee-san is already…”
Kail headbutted Al, who was grumbling something. This made even Havella surprised.
“If you have the time to be talking about those meaningless things, then go work! Work, work and buy Arlette-san back. This is what you need to do to repay her!”
Al eyes became wide-opened. He had forgot the possibility of him buying his sister back himself. Something like that used to be something out of reality for him to begin with. It used to be the same as impossible… But that only applied for slaves.
“The set backs for people that used to be slaves are harsh, but they are still closer to being like normal people. The payment they receive can’t be compared to the ones slaves get. It won’t be easy, but it also isn’t impossible. I can help you too if you need.”
“Now that all is said and done, what are you going to do, skinny knight.”
Al was embarrassed of himself. He felt he didn’t have the face to look at his two friends anymore. They were thinking about him and his sister much more than he himself was. Al was filled with gratitude.
“Thank you. I will work. I will work hard and buy nee-san’s freedom.”
The light in Al’s eyes were relighted. Seeing Al cheer up, Kail started to feel embarrassed for what he had done and extended his hand to Al, who had fallen down with the headbutt.
“Sorry, I exaggerated a bit. But you know, as long as there is someone you can repay the favor to… you can’t just give up.”
Kail didn’t have any relatives. He didn’t know if his family was dead or alive. They were probably dead. Even if he had lingering debts of gratitude with them, he wouldn’t be able to ever pay them back. It was because Kail knew how that felt that he faced Al seriously. Differently from himself, his best friend could still make it in time.
“That’s right. Thank you, my best friend.”
Al tightly grabbed Kail’s hand. Putting strength in his hand, Kail pulled Al.
“Havella too. Thank you.”
“Yes. I am your friend too after all.”
She had an expressionless face. However, it wasn’t like she didn’t have any emotions. Al was able to understand the feelings that were at the other side of her expressionless face.
“In that case, you should treat your two friends that are tired after working.”
“I don’t have any decent food with me. It’s only water and bread pretty much.”
“I have food.”
Havella took out a pouch from behind her. The pouch was filled foodstuff to the point that it felt as if she had stolen this much specially just for this moment. Looking at each other, Al and Kail smiled. Looking at the two smiling like, Havella was still silent and without expression, but even so, with a bit uncomfortable feeling to it, she gave a smile to the two.
“Ahaha, thanks Havella. Leave it to me. I will cook to the best of my ability and treat you with the best cuisine… Well, that is something I learned by watching nee-san though…”
Tucking his sleves, Al headed to the very cramped and meager kitchen. Kail and Havella were watching him cooking from behind.
It was fine even if he failed. The real worth in Al cooking lied on the fact that he himself was doing it. At any rate, they were slaves. They were lower than humans. Even if Al failed his cooking, they could just put to use their prided ability of being able to eat anything.
“Dis… Tast………. Disgusting.”
With how the result became a unrecognizable muddled mix of ingredients, Al’s first try in cooking became something that even overwhelmed the numb tongues of the three of them, slaves that were actually capable of thinking of mudded water as something refreshing.
“Ku, hahaha. This really tastes like shit. You know, this fruit there you put in stinks like hell.”
“It was the most expensive one. That stall is a fraud.”
“Like a thief has any rights to say something like that. Well, it is really a fraud that this shitty thing can sell for so much though.”
“Even though it was so hard to peel that spiky skin… It’s just cruelty how the insides smell so bad.”
At the house that would already be too cramped for just two people, the three of them were messing around at the dining table. Al’s feeling of solitude weakened. For some reason, he begun being filled with energy. It was something a bit different than family: It was friendship. It was this tender feeling that filled the house.
Al smile came back to his face.
Perhaps, it could be said that it was at that moment that would be the last time he would be able to genuinely smile.
Kail and Havella were walking side by side in their way to their home.
“…There is something I need to tell Kail just in case.”
“Hm, what is it all of the sudden?”
Usually, except for the times when the three of them were together, Kail and Havella wouldn’t really talk to each other. Besides that, it was rare for Havella to start the conversation herself.
“The noble that bought Arlette-san, that count Vrad… There is a problem with him..”
“Problem… Hey, are you saying that…”
“Al will need courage.”
Kail was pulling his hair. Without having anywhere to release the anger he felt for his best friend’s misfortune and for the person he loved, Arlette, this was the only way he could find to vent his frustration.
“This is… unfair.”
The moonlight was being covered by the clouds. The darkness of the night weighed upon them
Al was now working his mind off. In the end, the only work Al, who couldn’t read and didn’t have any education, was able to do was physical work and other menial tasks. If he were to work at those kind of jobs, the payment he would receive wouldn’t be much better to what he used to get.
But a person that had set goals was strong.
“I will definitely take nee-san back!”
With indomitable determination, Al was resolved to save up money even to extreme extents.
A certain day, someone came to his house. It was a man that was carrying a sack. As many questions were floating in his mind, Al spoke to the man.
“Sorry, do you have any business with me?”
The man looked to Al’s face. His gaze gave the impression that like he was looking at Al as if he was an insect. This kind of gaze was something Al had experienced many times.
“My business with you is this, dirty slave brat.”
The man threw the sack to the ground. Al angrily answered back to him.
“I am not a slave anymore.”
“Hmph. So you think you’ve became a human now? Listen, slaves like you can’t become human. A slave is still a slave for life. Freed slaves are nothing but slaves that aren’t being kept by someone.”
This kind of opinion wasn’t something rare. Probably most of the citizens in the royal capital had the same thoughts. Al had already become used with this extent of jeer, but actually hearing it still didn’t suit well with him.
“…What is with this sack?”
Even if he continued to argue with him, it would be useless. Al decided that asking the man what was going on would be of more benefit rather than talking about useless matters. As if the man also just wanted to quickly get out of that place, which might as well be described as a run-down slum, he didn’t show any desire to continue arguing.
“The toy got broken down. It would have been just fine if this was in the Count Vrad’s territory, but the agency for dealing with these kind of things here in the royal capital are a pain to deal with. That’s why I came here to throw it back to the place it used to live at. Really, what a pain in the ass.”
The word “toy” continued to ring in Al’s ears for an unknown reason. The words “the place it used to live at” were also worrying.
“What do you mean?”
The man looked at Al with an annoyed face.
“What do you mean your ass. You are really bad at guessing, brat. The toy the count Vrad bought broke, so I came to give it back to its respective place. The rest is for you to deal with. Got it?”
Finish saying that, the man took his leave.
Al reluctantly moved his hand to the sack.
His heart was beating like an alarm bell.
He should release his hand from the sack. He mustn’t go closer than that.
Al had already realized long ago. He knew what was inside the sack. It was because he knew what was inside that he mustn’t open the sack and look inside it. He shouldn’t take a look at it.
He was supposed to throw it away without seeing what was inside. It would be just fine if he simply threw it away at a river; it would even be fine even if he burrowed it somewhere. But despite that being all he just needed to do…
He ended up opening the sack.
What was inside it was…
“Uoh-urgh.”(お、おぅっぷ) (Vomit sound*)
He was able to endure for the first few moments. However, just when the rotten smell began rising up, right when he was able to confirm what was the [thing] inside the sack, everything that was inside his stomach splashed out from his mouth. The gastric juice burned his throat. At the ground was a sea of the fluid he threw up.
“Ah… Ah.. Ah…..”
His broken heart was letting voices of agony. He started to feel like he wanted to abandon everything and run away. He wanted to forget. He would forget about all this and go back to the days filled with hope along with Kail and Havella; the three of them together.
After all, Arlette-neesan had already…
“Ah, that’s right, brat… What the… That’s disgusting, hey!”
The man came back for some reason. Al raised his blank eyes.
“The payment for getting rid of the [thing]. Here, take it.”
A silver coin was thrown in front of his eyes. Despite that, Al continued to only look at the man’s face.
After seeing at Al mumbling nonsense, the man started to complain, spitting saliva as he talked.
“It has nothing to do with me what the count does with the things he bought. The count bought it and broke it on his own. It’s a pain to get rid of it, so I am even giving you some money because of that. What is wrong with you? Do you want a gold coin then? A fucking gold coin? You miser bastard. That’s why I don’t like slaves. You don’t need to pay wages to horses or cows; they are like ten times better. These shitty slaves…”
After spewing whatever he wanted to say, he kicked the sack. A corpse that had lost its limbs came out from the sack. Whether the limbs were cut so that it would become easier to carry or whether those were cut while it was still alive was something Al didn’t know. He didn’t want to know either.
“Come to think of it, this woman… Looks like she used to be quite the beauty. Aa-ah, what a waste. If she was born a noble, she would have been pampered all over. Well, it can’t be helped. She was born a slave in the end.”
After saying that, this time, the man left the place for good.
Al remained at the place by himself. He was standing there blankly. If only he was born a noble… If only he wasn’t a slave… Those two thoughts were swirling inside his mind. Al was finally able to understand the meaning of not being considered human. All this that he was supposed to already understand… and all that he has been pretending not to exist until now.
Al knew it now.
“…So it was like that.”
Al ended up understanding the meaning of not being human.
“Ku, kuku, kuhahahahahhahaaahahahahahhahahahaha!”
Al laughed like a maniac. Rather than anything, he was filling himself with insanity on his own stead. By doing so, he could force his heart to break down.
“We are not humans. Isn’t that weird, nee-san! Look, even we have red blood!”
Al hugged himself, scratching both of his arms in result. His nails gourging at his skin, making blood flow out from the wounds.
“We walk with two feet and even have two arms! We have five fingers and also two eyes. We have nose, ears, mouth… Even though we are all the same, we aren’t human!!”
With tears of blood flowing from his eyes, his black hair became mixed with white. Hatred, anger, resignation, hopelessness; all those varied emotions were swirling inside him, which lead to the gruesome expression he was making. Al broke down. Probably, his sister had also broken down at that time. He was crossing over, away from humanity, becoming a beast…
“…That’s no good.”
However, right at the last moment, Al stopped. It wasn’t acceptable for him to become a beast. Even if a beast could kill humans, it wasn’t capable of destroying the human society. There was no meaning in becoming just a simple outcast that would soon be weeded out by the civilization laws.
“So I guess I won´t be able to accept it if I don’t do this as a human? I guess so.”
Al understood this by instinct.
“Ok, I am calm now. I am a human. Well, at least we ourselves don’t believe so, otherwise there wouldn’t be any meaning to be saying that after all. Isn’t that right, nee-san?”
Despite his sister now having completely changed, Al embraced her like he would always do.
“Sorry for having shouted earlier, nee-san. I became so happy we could meet once again, so I ended up getting a bit excited. Ahaha, isn’t it weird? It’s alright, nee-san is the most beautiful person of the world.”
Her arms and legs were severed, her teeth were broken, her eyes were gourged out, her nipples were cut off, and so were her ears. The last expression she had made on the verge of her death was gruesomeness itself. In addition to that, because a considerable period of time had passed since the time she died, she started to give off a rotten smell. But even so, to Al, she still looked beautiful as ever.
“Welcome back, nee-san. Now, let’s go back home. We have to be together. If we are together, we can do anything. If it is the two of us, surely…”
Carrying Arlette in his arms, Al went inside home.
He left the silver coin behind. There is no way he could take the coin. It held a different meaning to the money he got from Arlette selling herself off. One was the money Arlette earned by sacrificing herself, while the other was the payment for getting rid of some broken toy. He mustn’t pick up the silver coin. There is no way he could downgrade his sister to a toy for the sake of a little money.
“Are we really not human? Are we? I want to know. I need to know. That’s why.”
Al closed the door. Inside his house, he was now alone together with his sister. The small house was there just for the two of them. The walls were filled with holes and the dining table was very shabby. The small bed the two slept at used to be where his sister would gently put him to sleep.
“I will show you, nee-san, just wait. Watch me act…”
And then, he gently opened his mouth…
“…safely, inside me.”
This was the first time Al beared karma.
Al’s house was burning. The flames ravagerously rised as the little house was steadily engulfed by the fire. All his memories were turning into ashes.
“Is it Kail? Don’t be so loud like that.”
Kail turned his eyes to the direction the voice came from. Standing there in front of the burning house was someone he was unfamiliar with. With the light of the fire shining upon his beautiful chalk white hair, the boy was so beautiful, yet so dreadful.
“Are you… Al?”
Kail timidly asked. The boy laughed.
“Isn’t that obvious? Kail is the one being weird.”
Kail trembled. Kail had an idea of most of what happened. Havella had been following what was happening with Al’s sister. According to the information she received from the connections she had at the guild, it seemed that another slave had died by the count Vrad’s bad habit. In addition to that, the slave that died was a beautiful one with black hair.
His elder sister had died. There was no doubts that his sister was supposed to be who he loved more than anything. But despite that…
“Havella too, long time no see. You’ve been busy these days. I was very lonely that I couldn’t meet you two.”.
But despite that, Al was acting like he usually would to the point it started feeling scary. He was being able to keep his composure, or rather, perhaps he actually wasn’t even trying to keep it. He was completely calm. Al was standing there, unwaveringly.
“I was thinking about moving out. See? This much should be a good amount of money for the time.”
He said that nonchalantly as if that was the reason why he had set fire on his house. He was calm, but without doubts, he had gone insane.
“I want to become capable of doing the things I want to do. And on that, I am no good the way I am right now. I need more knowledge. I need more power. It’s no good if carry on being a little kid. So, you see…”
Al was looking at his own house burning.
“I had to part with the old things. Isn’t that right, nee-san?”
Al stroked his own belly. It was as if there was something inside it. Kail looked at it startled. Neither Kail nor Havella were able to speak out a single word ask Al about that. They couldn’t ask where Al had put his sister’s body. How aberrant it would be if the case was really the one they were imagining.
“What is it you want to become able to do…?”
Kail asked Al. In response, Al showed a innocent smile to him.
With his white hair fluttering, leaving the fire, his old home and his memories behind, Al declared.
“I am aiming for the top. I want to do this so I can know if I… No… I want to do it to prove that we are humans!”
The flames were rising high in the sky. It was then that Kail understood. The old Al has already died. The gentle boy that had the same black hair as his sister has already died. The one standing there now…
…Was a [Revenger clad in White].