Many days had passed since Riku came to live in the garrison.
There were no problems regarding basic life necessities. Her life style improved in all the ways comparing to the time she was at Perikka city.
But this place still didn´t feel like home to her.
She would always notice many gazes onto her when she would go to the dining hall.
While looking with a cold and disapproving gaze, they would come near one another and start a talk between only themselves. But there wasn´t anyone that would talk to Riku. Of course, there was an exception. It was only Vrusto, who was tasked with taking care of her, that talked to her. But it seemed that it was all because of her position, since because she was his subordinate, Vrusto was ordered to let her be beside him.
Riku got used to Vrusto´s strict training. She could bear the pain from the training without problems, but even so, she still couldn´t get used to the looks of complete despise she would be given.
“Humans are very much hated…”
As she was moving the spoon with soup to her mouth, she casually muttered.
Vrusto, who was sitting next to Riku, seemingly having heard her murmurs, he let out a long sigh while he was playing with his knife.
“Well, that´s obvious. Until now, they´ve been oppressing us demons. Besides, you are from that spiritualist family, right? It would be much stranger if they actually didn´t hate you… By me, if it weren´t for the captain´s orders, I wouldn´t be babysitting you.”
“Babysitting…I´m already seven years old.”
“Seven years old is just a brat. Don´t worry about it and just finish eating. After that, it will be training.”
Riku moved the spoon to her mouth once again.
Bit by bit, she was becoming able to land hits on Vrusto, but there still was the experience gap. Things weren´t going that well. Every time Riku would press forward for an attack, Vrusto would answer her with the double or triple of what her offensive would be. It would inevitably become a one-sided defensive battle that only if Vrusto was to get careless or if Riku was able to properly do a feint that she would be able to land a hit.
Leivein said that she had talent, but recently, Riku had been a bit uneasy about that. She would wonder whether she really did have talent.
“Your spoon stopped moving… Properly eat up. If you faint during the training, it will be only problems to me, you know? Or what? Do you hate this soup?”
“No…That´s not it…”
Riku used her spoon to touch the very thin chunk of meat in her soup.
At her time when she was still living at the Barusak household, she had never seen such a meat and vegetables only soup like that. There were a bit more vegetables in it and the meat pieces were a bit bigger. As she would take a bite of it, the meat juices would perfectly fit the soup and be very delicious.
She accepted that as long as she had something to eat, it was enough. But to the still seven years old Riku, this made her miss how her life used to be before.
“Then, what is it? Ah, that´s it. Are you bothered about the meat?”
The fangs, that were like they were looking at her, were shining. Riku kind of felt a chill.
“If you don´t want it, then give it to me. Meat is the thing we demons most love anyhow.”
Riku warily looked at the meat.
The thin piece of meat that was reflecting on the spoon.
The thing demons most love.
The thing demons most cherished.
In other words, it was something appreciated by demons and it was something to eat.
If one were to ask about a meat that they would boil, roast and eat, it would be…
At this exact moment, deep in her throat, something sour was welling up.
The real identity of the meat came to her mind. Putting her hands onto her mouth, she tried to repress herself from crying. If that was the thing demons liked the most, then this would be none other than a certain something. Since she had come here, from all these days, there wasn´t one day she didn´t eat meat. This meant that all this time, she had been eating…
“He-hey, don´t be so startled like that! This is only pork meat. The part more to the interior of the training place there is a pig farm, you know.”
“Yes, pig. If you are so much bothered by that, what about going there to take a look before training?”
Vrusto was showing a shocked expression. Absentminded, Riku opened her mouth. The nausea slowly settled out. She was certain she ended up eating someone of her same race and was falling into self-hatred, but fortunately for her, it seemed this wasn´t the case. Finally at ease, she ate the meat.
“You are too biased about demons. We hate humans, but we don´t just go eat them, you know?…Actually…Brat, have you ever eaten a demon?”
“Right? That´s the same case. There is no way for us to go eat either demons or humans.”
As she was drinking her soup with her spoon, she started to think about all he said.
On text books and picture books, it was written that demons ate humans. Many times, she had read this on them and her father would tell her that as well.
But the reality was different. Riku also thought about the possibility of Vrusto lying, but thinking about his behavior, it didn´t look like he was doing so.
Then, would that mean both her father and the textbooks were lying?
She didn´t want to doubt her father, and also didn´t want to think he was lying. Riku felt like she didn´t know anything anymore. She was opening her mouth, about to ask a question to Vrusto, but right at that moment, a sharp voice sounded through the dining hall.
“Hear it out!!”
The door was widely left open.
Because of the angle of the light, she wasn´t able to see the person well, but there was a small shadow and a big shadow made by the people standing there. She wasn´t able to see their faces, but by the voice, she knew who it was. As she was about to look at the owner of the voice, she felt an impact on the back of her head.
“Stupid! Lower down your head already!”
Vrusto forcibly pressed her head down.
Looking with the edge of her eyes, she noticed all the demons gathered in the dining hall were bowing down to those shadows. All the demons that were forged into having good physiques all at once bowed their head to the small shadow. Although the shadow was small, the presence given by it was by far much greater than the big shadow behind.
The small shadow… Leivein, with a step, entered the dining hall. Then, Leivein opened his mouth.
“Everybody lift up your heads. We are moving out.”
The Shiidoru kingdom at its best splendor.
With the outstanding power of the four spiritualist families, they were able to quickly uproot the sprout of evil called demons before it grew.
Everybody showing a smile and nobody suffering from unhappiness. The marvelous kingdom as a flower in its full blossom, and its sole flaw could be said to be the clock bomb the demon lord that have been sealed there was.
In this Shiidoru kingdom, every year once, there was a event done as a custom.
It was called the [Demon cleaning campaign].
The absolutely wicked demons; its remaints would affect the peace by their certain questionable actions. Many villages and cities would be invaded, things would be set on fire and food would be stolen. For men, they would be used as slaves, for women, they would be raped, and for children, they would be thrown into their soup and ultimately end up killed. At the time when the fires of war spread, the spiritualists employed by the royalty would specifically advance to their bases and all at once launch an attack.
And then, they would dignifiedly come back to the capital victorious.
…Carrying many demon heads.
Riku has seen this parade before.
In its center, she would see her father. Standing in a carriage covered in flowers, the figure of him majestically waving his hands to the public was something she aspired for. She could only wonder how many necks the halberd in his hand had cut. It was haughty just to imagine. It was something that really soathed her heart. She decided to become an renowned spiritualist just like how her father was.
That vow she made herself… She would always remember it well; it was a very bright memory.
It was supposed to be a good memory.
“Could it be that… All that were only schemes of the kingdom?”
Riku muttered surprised.
The place the Dragon Demon Garrison are sending five hundred soldiers is already expected to fall by the attacks of the spiritualists. Without the spiritualists knowing, they were to secretly get to that village. And so, the Dragon Demon Battalion separated itself, each part consisting of about a hundred soldiers, and were marching through the forest.
“In the back-story of a heroic tale, there are a lot of dirty stuff.”
As Vrusto was carrying his weapon, he bluntly said.
With a sidelong glance, looking at Riku, whose mood was sinking, he kept talking.
“This time we are lucky, you know? It´s good we know which village is being invaded.”
“But isn´t better to just evacuate everyone instead? In case they attack, then… just make it look like the village had been abandoned…”
“Stupid. If you do that, they will just look for another village to attack. To get the least amount of causalities, it is better for us, who are experienced in combat, to fight and give time for the villagers to run away. What? When the captain sees a good opportunity, he will immediately send the order to retreat. The thing those guys really want is only prestige. They only want to get a proper demon head to say that it was the one of a general to their people and want to show off with the reality that they destroyed a village, even if it just a shabby and negligible one.”
Riku looked downwards.
Looking down at her black shadow and keeping her heavy legs from stopping.
That what she had always believed was proved to be all lies… It was as if she was inside a bad dream.
Ever since she was driven away from the Barusak household, maybe she was lost within a dream. While thinking that, she fixed the posture she was carrying her halberd.
“Humans are very much hated, right?”
“How many times have you already said that??”
With Vrusto´s howl, Riku´s feelings
Now she was going to fight a war, but even though it was the battlefield she so much yearned for, she didn´t feel excited about that.
It was all only a profound melancholy. Seeing Riku like that, he started scratching his cheek with his pointed nail.
“Brat, don´t die.”
“Ah, what is it. If you die, all the time I had to spend on you would be wasted. It would be a waste, right? And then, people would think it was because I didn´t instruct you well. If it affects my career, then what am I supposed to do? If possible, then you should even go get some achievements.”
“Get a grip on yourself!”
Vrusto firmly slapped Riku´s back.
Because of how much strength it was put on the slap, Riku was sent a bit forward, seeming to be almost falling down, but she was able to hold her feet. Because of that, she sent a protesting gaze to Vrusto.
“I, I know that! I don´t want to die yet… But… Is the source of the information even reliable? It could be a false alarm, right?”
“Apparently, it is reliable. I´ve heard it was an information a demon infiltrated in the capital got hold of after great pains. Well, I don´t really know the details.”
“Hey, Vrusto! Come here for a sec!”
Coming from the front, a demon that was shaking hands with Vrusto. It was a demon that a these days was often having conversations with both seemingly being friendly to each other. Riku thought that one from before should be his friend.
And to confirm her thoughts, Vrusto was showing a broad smile.
“Brat, you keep marching there, alright? What is it, Sejji? Oh, Frank was there too.”
Leaving Riku alone, looking like he was having fun, he started to run and went more to the front.
Getting next to the demons he called Sejji and Frank, they started to talk, looking like very intimate friends. Riku wasn´t able to hear what they were talking about.
Going with the flow of her surroundings, she kept the march.
Now that Vrusto was gone, there wasn´t anyone she could talk to. If Leivein was nearby, maybe she could go next to him. But he was commanding another squad, so he wasn´t around. And even if she were to go next to him, Leivein was still the captain of the Dragon Demon Division. There was no way a recently recruited soldier would be able to so casually do so.
“It would be nice if all that was only a dream.”
She knew she couldn´t be all the time thinking back about the life she used to have. She understood she was thrown away by her father. But…
“Hey, are we going to kill that human brat?”
“She smells like human anyway, so it can´t be helped if I mistake her with the enemy.”
“Are you killing her during all the turmoil?”
“You should give up on that. Right now the captain isn´t here, but if he finds out later, he will get really mad.”
“What was the captain even thinking back then?”
With the cold glares together with all the talks she would here, the feeling she shouldn´t be living there only became even clearer.
The doubt she had of whether it was fine if she kept living together with the demons only increased.
She running away as a deserter during the turmoil of the war could be a possibility.
But, before she would even consider running away, at the moment, there was not even a way for her to be assured she would have food to keep living on. Riku gave a very deep sigh.
“Fire the exorcising arrows!!”
From the trees left and right, an arrow shower rained down.
魔族掃討戦:Demon cleaning campaign