The lone figure of a subjugation squad member dashed through the woods, going as fast as he possibly could. Every now and again low-hanging branches tore at his skin, but he paid the trivial pain little heed.
His mind had been conquered by fear. His breaths were coming up short, and his brain screamed, begging his body to rest. But if he stopped now, then it was certain; he would be cornered and killed by the dark guild.
“To Hell with this! Like I’d let myself get caught by those damn monsters!”
The man was already losing blood through the countless wounds that marred his flesh, inflicted by the very monsters he spoke of. Just who was the utter fool that had commissioned them for this, anyway?
The minute he found his way back to his guild, he would seek him out and pummel him ten times over. Above all else, the way they had been sent out – being told that they would be dealing with a weak guild, a congregation of beautiful women and nothing more – made his blood boil.
The requested had sounded like a dream come true, and with the prospect of a group of beautiful women to do with as they pleased, they had gone against their better judgment and neglected any further investigation. It had been true; the members of Yelquchira were indeed beautiful.
But they were nothing more than monsters draped in human skin. A dark guild so scarce in numbers had eradicated all but him; all of the comrades that had gathered together had been massacred along with the kingdom knights. Given the state of his own team, there was little doubt in his mind that the same tragedy loomed over the remaining teams of the subjugation squad, all of which had gone their separate ways.
“Oh, Angels in Heaven… Save me! Please, save me from these monsters!”
The man tightly grasped the necklace that hung around his neck and fell into prayer. The necklace had been fashioned to resemble a doll with wings.
This man just so happened to be a follower of the Angel Faith, one of the two major religious creeds practiced in this world. Praying to the Angels his creed revered, he begged for his safety.
“Oh, deaaar… Are you alriiiiight…?”
A soft, gentle voice had called out to the man as he quaked in fear. After having witnessed the atrocious butchery of his comrades-in-arms, even a voice that gentle had forced him to overreact. He turned to the source of the voice with dread…
“A… A nun?”
…and was met with the sight of a person, one that seemed utterly out of place in a forest that had borne witness to the tragedy that had claimed countless men. The speaker was a beautiful woman, her body garbed in a habit and her face wearing a smile. Inside this no-man’s-land of a forest, in this area where none were meant to be, the nun looked at the vacantly gaping man as if she could relieve him of all his troubles.
“You seem to be terrifieeed. Did something… happeeen…?”
They way the nun spoke made her seem as if she were just moments short of dozing off, and her tone was utterly carefree. Under any normal circumstances, the man would have felt a twinge of annoyance at the way she acted. Still, as weakened in both body and spirit as he had become, the man found a strong sense of relief in her mannerisms.
“Y-Yes… There are madwomen in this forest – monsters! – and plenty of them… It’s better for you to run away, too.”
“Oh myyy… Such a kind persooon…”
“No, I can’t say I am. We share the same faith; helping you out is a given.”
He could almost swear that he had heard mocking laughter hidden within her words. It could be nothing more than meaningless whimsy on her part, surely. After all, if this woman had just been someone disguised as a nun, then there would have been no reason to show concern for him as she had just done.
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“I would be glad to offer someone as kind as yourself salvatiooon… But you’ve gone and committed a grave, grave sin, haven’t youuu…?”
“A grave… sin…?”
During his membership at the grey guild, the man had indulged in many sins. Still, there was no sin that came to mind which might have warranted such words. A kind of reproach began to surface in the nun’s gentle tone, almost as if she deemed him guilty of something.
“God, in his unending mercy, may just find a reason to pardon youuu… But I, His limbs, His servant, am not obliged to forgive, nooo…?”
“God? You… Aren’t you a nun from the Angel Faith?”
The idols of the Angel Faith’s worship were, as the name would suggest, the Angels. Especially those Angels of the highest orders were inclined to be worshipped by the people.
But among these idols they revered, there was no mention of even a single god. Perhaps the habit’s resemblance to the Angels themselves was to blame, but in any case, it seemed that the man had misunderstood. And the Angel Faith refuted any other religious creeds.
“Sheesh, I show some goodwill for once, and it’s for a bloody heretic…?!”
The man, devout follower of the Angel Faith that he was, drew his weapon and directed it toward the girl. Whether it be a woman or a clergywoman, not a single heretic in their path would be left standing.
This was one of the doctrines of the Angel Faith, the same belief that had let split this world into two. Faced with his weapon, the woman concealed her face and did not reveal her expression. If he had to guess, the man would have concluded that she was showing her fear of his blade, but…
“Did you just assume… that I was from the Angel Faith…?”
Suddenly, the eyes that the nun had kept so gently closed flashed open. Her eyes, cold enough to make one shudder, forced a small yelp out of the man. Those eyes, muddied by impurity, could not have been those of a human.
“That… Shitty! Shitty creeed… Just who’d follow theeem…? Disgusting! The thought of serving those Angeeels… Just the thought makes me break out in goosebuumps… I’ve already offered myself to God… To my Master…!!!”
Adding excessive emphasis to words like “shitty” and “disgusting,” the nun expressed her distaste for the Faith. Though confronted with a hitherto unsurpassed ridicule of his faith, the could not call upon his anger to direct at the bizarre nun.
Once she had half-finished her speech, the nun had embraced herself tightly and gazed toward the heavens, saliva leaking from her lips. The sight of her gripping her own body, well-defined even through her habit1, and rocking back and forth as if in distress as her cheeks burned crimson, and her breathing became rough – it was certainly not something for the public eye.
Presented with such an overwhelming sensuality, even the man, who had until now been shivering with fear, couldn’t help but gulp. But that single frame of ease disappeared in a mere moment.
“That zealot’s at it again, spouting those strange things…”
“Indeed, she never changes… Anat-dono. I come bearing gifts.”
The girl, of a small stature and with a large flower adorning her rich, floating green hair – Laladi – and a woman whose figure was concealed by a ninja attire that only allowed her eyes to peek through – Sorglos – had appeared. With great agility, Sorglos tossed something the nun’s – Anat’s – way, letting it land in front of her.
It was the leader of the other subjugation squad. One could only imagine the level of acrid torture he had undergone. The man, now dead, still had an expression that was twisted into utter grief and misery.
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“I want to offer everything, too…”
“Oi, Anat. You’re making Ritter say weird things again!”
Two new women arrived on the scene, stepping in from nowhere. A slightly over-exposed woman of a knightly disposition – Ritter – accompanied by a woman with a splendid, protruding horn – Reese – made their appearance. Making for quite the bizarre spectacle, the two of them held dozens of severed heads in their arms.
While Ritter’s collection had been the result of decapitation by her blade, the neatness of her cut almost made the scene passable. Reese, on the other hand, had chosen to violently rip out their heads with brute strength alone, and what remained written on their faces was far too awful to look at, even in death.
“Goodness, that reeks! Would you terribly mind not spraying about that repugnant blood of theirs?!”
“Vampir-sama, you’re being noisy.”
Making a huge fuss over the severed heads Ritter and Reese carried with them, a woman in a deep red dress and with golden hair – Vampir – appeared along with a silver-haired woman – Schwarz – wearing a maid outfit. While Vampir’s refinement was apparent even now, her habit of asserting her own desires without qualms gave enough reason for her to be deemed a “spoiled aristocrat.”
“Whoa… What’s with all those heads? Gross…”
“Wha… W-W-What do you plan to do with those?”
As if to add insult to injury, two more women appeared. Throwing a glance of deep-seated distaste, a woman with red hair and a voluptuous figure – Kühling – and a girl that could do little to keep an indifferent expression at the appalling sight with her hair curled into drills – Krankheit – stood next to each other.
“We’re taking them to the Master. Then we get praised.”
“Huuh?! Do you really think that the Master would be happy with something like this?! Ritter being an idiot, that I can understand… but you too, Reese?!”
“I… I couldn’t just deny the possibility, and, well…”
With a huff of pride, Ritter thrust out her chest and fell victim to delusions of having the Master pat her wherever she pleased. While Kühling wouldn’t put it past Ritter, given her nature, the fact that the ever-rational Reese with her general “wait and see” attitude had done the same had her floored.
Ashamed, Reese did her best to hide what she held. Had they not been severed heads, the sight just might have been adorable.
“Haah… I’ve grown tired of this. I’d rather get back home…”
“M… MMMe too…”
Vampir yawned as if to show her boredom, and Krankheit’s expressions revealed that she was in agreement with her. Feeling fed up with the day’s events, the two of them glanced in the direction of the shivering man.
“Indeed, my plan of sending out a request to fish for buffoon was a triumph. Reporting this to the master must yield us a boon, a great boon indeed!”
“But was that really reason enough to have us all move out…?”
“Indeed, I had not considered that carelessness could allow even a single guild member to remain amongst the living.”
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Sorglos gave explained their plots and schemes with an air that deemed them a matter of course, and Laladi could only blink at the briskness of her tone. Well, given that Laladi, who had always taken issue with coming in second to her, was just as dark in mind and spirit, then they were all certainly on the same train of thought.
“Anat-san, I’ve taken the liberty of exterminating the other members of the subjugation squad. The only one remaining is this man right here.”
“Thank you for your report, Schwaaarz…”
The dark-skinned maid had given Anat her final report. Anat gave a nod of approval.
At this point, the man could barely even muster a single coherent word. The duo of women that had utterly decimated his old squad had not been alone; there had been much more abominations of their ilk2. A one-on-one victory was out of the question, and a battle against eight was even more unthinkable. This matter was out of his hands, long gone to the dogs.
“Now theeen… You’re the only one left, are youuu…?”
Anat’s smiling face no longer offered the same sense of relief it had when they had first met. The other members of Yelquchira that had gathered around her looked at the man, their gazes steady and still. Finding himself at the mercy of the pointed glares thrown by women that were tainted by some grand, inhuman power…
“Goodness! What’s wrong with him?!”
…with his eyes staring at nothing, the man’s dirty tongue lolled3 out of his open mouth. The area around his crotch gradually dampened, and his body shook with violent convulsions.
The man’s psyche, exposed to the scrutiny of such overwhelming monstrosities, finally shattered into pieces. Vampir tightly sealed off her nose, looking at the man as if she were looking at a pile of trash.
“Ah… Indeed, Vampir-dono’s frightful visage may have taken a toll. Such a poor thing…”
“A-Are you saying it’s my fault?!”
Vampir squawked indignantly, flying into a string of verbose complaints. While of course, every single one of them was equally guilty, the others were more than willing to let it all fall back to Vampir.
“Leaving him like thiiis… may be more interestiiing…”
“Wow, you’re awful…”
As Anat voiced her thoughts, Kühling’s cheeks twitched with forced laughter. That said, she had no intention of stopping her either.
“Come now, let’s go hoome… Let’s go back to our guild, to our Master…”
Everyone around Anat gave a nod of agreement. Rather than wasting their time on a foolish grey guild and a gaggle of kingdom knights, they all significantly preferred to be close to the Master for as long as time would allow.
Even the ever-bickering members of their guild were in complete agreement over this. On that day, Yelquchira vanquished a subjugation squad composed of twenty-one grey guild members and twenty kingdom knights. The members of Yelquchira turned their backs on the man, then went their merry way.
“Ahehe… Haha… Hehah…”
The only thing the girls left in their wake was a pitiful, gibbering mess of a man that giggled without pause.
- Habit: A long, loose garment worn by a member of a religious order.
- Ilk: A type of person or thing similar to one already referred to
- Loll: Sticking out (one’s tongue) so that it hangs loosely out of the mouth.