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Chapter 010 – Mushi User1
—Southern part of Ludo-Rathowm continent.
There was a certain settlement that was located in a warm, dry region.
The people who lived there — were not ordinary humans.
“Look! My tattoo pattern! Doesn’t it look beautiful~?”
“Oh, that looks great.”
“Remember to thank Grandma.”
Every single person who lived there had brown skin and green hair— they also had specially carved tattoos on their body.
This tattoo was an important custom for people in this settlement, it was carved with the wishes for one’s health and various other things.
In the settlement, many food stalls lined the streets; it was vibrant and bustling with activity.
“Oi oi, you’re eating that much? Even for you, isn’t that a little excessive?”
“It’s not like I have a choice, you know? There have been six mushis dwelling within my body since yesterday. So, I need to eat properly to feed them too.”
“Hooray, it’s a meal!”
“Oh, yeah. Wait a moment.”
The man, who bought way more food than what was normal for human consumption, responded to voices that seemingly came from nowhere, and had gotten up and went off somewhere.
But upon further inspection, it was not just the man who seemed to overindulge. Most people from the food stalls bought way more food than what a single person could eat, with at least thrice as much compared to normal potions. Even the children bought at least twice as much as compared to what an adult male could eat.
The unimaginable portion sizes were related to the beings that resided within their body.
“Heheen, how was it? I finally managed to house TWO mushis inside of me in yesterday’s ritual.”
“Sounds great~ I also want to be recognized soon and increase my number of mushis.”
“I’m in your care.”
“I’m also in your care.”
Those beings which dwelled inside of them were — the mushis.
They refer to beings without souls which naturally spawned within the continent, including animals, bugs, tori, sakana, and plants.2
The people who lived in this settlement were a part of a clan known for being mushi users, of which mushi dwell inside their body and they coexist with one another.
There was a need for mushi users to include a portion for their mushis in their body, so the food consumption of the mushi user’s settlement was several times greater than other settlements.
On top of that, their mushis also had their respective tastes, which made them become a gourmet clan as a result.
And amongst them, there was one who looked more conspicuous than the others.
“(Crunch crunch)… Oh! As expected of grandpa’s shop from the third street, his Karaage sure tastes great. Hm? The Zawas here sure had a peculiar taste. Did the spice change…? Well, it’s good in its own way though.”3
“… What can I say? Other than that I only expected as much coming from him.”
“I saw him eating in the morning, and he’s still eating now. Rather, he just eats all the time.”
The man was surrounded by tons of food, and he brought spoonful after spoonful to his mouth one after another, while commenting on each of the food’s taste.
Even amongst mushi users who ate tons of food, his portions were much larger.
An armored headband hid one of his eyes on his neat face. His tattooed body was well trained, and one could get a sense of his strength just by looking at it.
He was the head of this settlement.
—The King of the Beasts, Galtia.
There was a small shadow that approached Galtia.
“(chomp chomp) Oh? What, so it was you, brat. You came again today, huh?”
The kid who approached him was half as tall as Galtia. He was also a child of mushi users.
The child spoke to Galtia with anger laced in his tone.
“Isn’t that all because you didn’t teach me the method of housing many mushi all this time!”
“No, I always told you… (nyam), I would teach you, (chomp)… when you become an adult, right, (glug), puha.”
“Don’t you speak while eating!”
Even as Galtia spoke, his hand didn’t stop shoveling food into his mouth. It was usual conduct for Galtia, but the boy felt indignant.
He needed to keep eating since the mushi inside him would starve otherwise, so he didn’t stop, but he skillfully spoke as if he had a separate mouth for speaking despite the fact that he was still eating.
“…Why do you ask me that every day?
“Tell me the reason. I’ll think about it if you convince me.”
Galtia asked the boy with a slightly serious tone. The boy responded roughly,
“Because! I want to hurry and become a mushi user to defeat demons!”
“Uu… what, what about it…”
“…Haa, as I expected. Well listen, kid.”
“Just listen, okay?”
It seemed Galtia had expected his response, so he urged the boy to listen in a strong tone. He did it with an indescribable gaze and tone that didn’t allow refusal.
“I get the part where you want to fight against demons. I’m also aware your parents got done in by demons. They were capable people, but after all, it was a battlefield, so death happened. I also understand you want to get even with demons. I have no intention to complain about that, either. In fact, you could even say I’m responsible for it.”
Galtia was the settlement chief and fought on the frontline alongside the boy’s parents, who were also his friends. The both of them had always followed behind him, so the loss of their lives could be considered as Galtia’s responsibility.
That was why he didn’t blame the boy for having such thoughts. But there was something else Galtia had to talk about.
“I won’t say anything if you end up dying out there alone. It’s your choice… However—“
Galtia changed his tone and said it severely to the boy. Otherwise it wouldn’t be good for the child and those who coexist within him.
“—What do you think will happen to mushis inside you once you’re dead?”
The boy’s eyes struck open as if the words contained thunder.
But Galtia continued on.
“You should know. Of course they too would also die. Those mushis that are dragged by your actions sure won’t have it easy, right? It is not a matter of releasing them before your death, you know.”
“Your mushis will still follow you despite knowing that. The relationships between mushis and mushi users are their own. I won’t say much about it… but can you really be considered a mushi user if you ignore your mushis?”
Galtia stopped eating before he noticed it.
“Is that all your mushis are worth to you? Just a tool to fight with? Your mushis sure are convenient one—“
The boy’s strong declaration cut off Galtia’s sermon.
“…Hee, Then what are they to you?”
The boy answered Galtia’s question.
“The mushis for me… are my family! They are definitely not a tool for fighting!”
“…Heee, so you do understand that.”
Galtia let out a gentle laugh and resumed his meal.
He then gave final advice to the surprised boy.
“As long as you don’t forget that, you’re on the right path — so just do your best.”
The boy noticed what he meant as the boy saw Galtia let out another dry laugh and brought food to his mouth.
“Th-thank you, Galtia!”
“I didn’t do anything. Still, if you really appreciate it, how about a meal—“
Just as Galtia tried to continue his sentence—
“—It’s an enemy attack—!!!”
The voice of the lookout echoed over the settlement.
“Hide the women and children inside! The Demon Army has come!!”
“Men are to protect our town! Soldiers are already on their way to the battlefield!”
Galtia scratched his head as the village buzzed with loud voices in emergency.
“Oh… So they came? They sure came early today.”
The boy was worried about Galtia, who seemingly treated the situation lightly.
“Don’t worry kid. I’m just a little worried since I’m not full yet. Well then—“
“—What are you being lazy there for, Galtia?!!!”
The person who yelled over Galtia’s words was an elderly person.
The boy muttered the title of that person.
“Oh, gramps. What’s wrong?”
“You’re not supposed to say ‘what’s wrong’! You’re supposed to be on standby outside the town today!!!”
Galtia seemed to be ill-mannered toward the elder of the mushi users, who was angry toward him.
“You see, I just came back for a bit since I was hungry. I’ll return once I eat enough—”
“Says the person who already ate that much since this morning!”
The elder muttered as he irritatingly glared toward Galtia.
“All this happened because you didn’t quickly repel the Demon Army away…”
“Oi, oi, don’t ask for something so unreasonable. There were too many of them. I think I did a good job, though?”
“And it is also your job to do something about it!”
Galtia was the greatest warrior in the settlement and was known as the King of the Beasts. He was also the person who ate the most and created the greatest burden toward the town’s food supply, so it was his responsibility to protect it. That was how the elder told him off.
“…Since you put it that way, I don’t really have any excuses there. Well, I’ll do my job.”
“Fuhn! Then go already!”
Galtia reluctantly stood up. The elder was always like this. Since Galtia was used to it, he didn’t think much of it and started preparing.
He took his favorite sword, and turned toward the boy.
“Go back to your house, kid. I will repel those on the outside for a bit.”
“Galtia! Go there already!”
“…Isn’t it better for you to go?”
“…You’re right. Well well, he sure is an impatient one.”
After saying that, Galtia left the scene and raced toward the battlefield. Galtia jumped around the area to pass through obstacles to reach the location in the shortest possible time.
Leaving only the boy and the elder there.
“…Don’t get too involved with Galtia. You’re just disturbing him.”
“Oh, yes. I’m sorry…”
The elder released a frustrated snort and left.
Yet, the boy still felt bitter as he thought about Galtia who had already left toward the battlefield.
Within the town the sounds of the battlefield could be heard as they were carried by the wind.
The boy left that place.
—Settlement of mushi users, wilderness of the north
Both armies were already in a fierce battle.
“Advance forward—!! Today is the day for us to bathe this land with their blood, to be dedicated to Maou-sama!!”
The Demon Army was the one which launched the offensive.
Demon generals raised their voices to rouse their subordinates.
It has already been a few years since this land was ordered to be conquered by Maou-sama. The veteran demon generals that have already been posted here for a long time, considered the pros and cons of their tactics.
It wasn’t grand enough to be called a tactic, though. What they simply did was split the army into two and commit alternating continuous offensives every day.
Their army possessed a great advantage in the amount of troops. So all they did was rotate the invading army.
There was a reason for why they did this. Simply said, the people who lived there were strong even amongst human standards.
In the beginning, the Demon Army had committed the whole army and tried to overwhelm them in numbers alone, but thanks to the mushi user’s powers and peculiarity, they learned a painful lesson by the damage they suffered for it.
Most mushi user soldiers had more power than demon soldiers, and there were those who were capable of defeating demon captains and demon generals, and even those who managed to defeat a majin. Ever since then, they’ve had a hard time restoring morale.
They abandoned the thought of being able to come out victorious using brute force alone. Fortunately, the mushi user’s power was greatly reduced if they were unable to eat properly. So they kept up a continuous invasion in order to not give them enough time to rest and to tire them out.
The Demon Army may come out victorious if they had committed a siege with an army several times larger compared to their current forces stationed here, but that wouldn’t be possible because the war that Demon Army waged was not limited to only this region. If they were to ask for intervention from another battalion stationed at another warzone to be transferred here out of helplessness, it would only cause further hindrances at other locations, so they were unable to beg Maou-sama for aid.
For the time being, the Demon Army numbers would periodically replenish according to damage they took here in the form of reinforcements, but freshly dispatched soldiers knew nothing about the battlefield. That was unavoidable. Most demons were under the impression that all humans are fragile creatures. It was just the people who lived here who were exceptions to that rule.
Even if they told recruits to be wary of the enemy, somewhere within their heart, they were still too proud to take the advice seriously, so the number of those injured didn’t decrease.
While everyday was depressing, not everything was bad.
They heard that reinforcements were coming, with a majin accompanying them.
On top of that, it seemed that the majin was a newly chosen member of the Four Elite Majin, and christened as the demon army officer by Maou-sama directly.
While the person did sound reliable, they hoped that they could produce a result that was worthy of such accolades. What would have happened to today’s battlefield?
The frontline was unexpectedly in a deadlock.
A demon soldier ran to report. He was seemingly impatient, don’t tell me…
“O-on the left wing… the enemy…”
“Just say it already! What happened to the left wing!!”
“The left wing, many demon soldiers were defeated! Even several demon captains were among them…”
“Cih! Not the usual pattern again?! Wait a moment! I will think of a plan!”
“Eeh?! But I didn’t report how it went…”
“I could easily guess it! They must’ve been lured out and defeated altogether, right!?”
The demon general began to think about countermeasures for the damage on the frontline.
—Battlefield, left flank.
A nightmare for the Demon Army happened there.
“Wha-what is this—-!!??”
A demon soldier screamed upon noticing the changes that happened to their bodies. His body melted.
It was not only him experiencing such symptoms.
“It hurts—! It’s painful— I’m dying…gh”
“My body paralyzed and stopped moving…!”
“Uoooo! I could see a field of flowers over there—!”
There were various symptoms. What awaited them was—
“Gyahhh?! It HUUUURRTTSSS—?!”
—The deadly venom used by mushi users.
These demon soldiers tried to rout the mushi users, who for some reason had retreated, until they noticed that they were stepping in venom that spread on the ground.
Once they noticed it, it was too late. The mushi users made a U-turn and spread even more venom, charging toward the demons.
While the ground was supposedly filled with deadly venom — it didn’t affect the mushi users since they were immune to poison.
They possessed far greater poison resistance than demons and also had self-regeneration, so all they felt when they stepped upon ground that was saturated with venom, which was on a level of instantly killing common humans, was just a slight tingle.
That’s why they chose the tactic to spread venom on the battlefield.
However, there were demon species amongst the army which were immune to venom just like mushi users.
One of the demons swung down their axe toward a mushi user.
But suddenly, the mushi user stopped moving and held his stance.
The moment the demon soldier’s axe touched the mushi user’s skin, it was repelled as if they struck a hard substance.
“There’s an opening!”
“GYAAAAAA?! IT’S HOOTTTT—?!”
The mushi user emitted fire to burn the demon when they made an opening.
Mushi users were capable of using various mushi’s abilities that they absorbed. Whether it was venom, hardening, emitting fire, flying, detection — there were various abilities, and each of those mushi users in the battlefield would have at least four abilities on them.
The ability of mushi users depends on the number of mushi inside them. They were acknowledged as full-fledged mushi users once they housed at least four of them inside their body. Obviously, the soldiers were chosen amongst them.
“Damn, what are these guys—?!”
Even while in this situation where they were filled with venom, a demon captain managed to defeat a mushi user.
The mushi users who saw that shouted in a loud voice.
“OI! Our allies got defeated! Surround it—!”
“Guh… A mere human dares to—!!”
Several mushi users got attacked by an angered demon captain and were blown away.
“Call for support—!”
The demon captain was frustrated at seeing mushi users come in large swaths.
“Humph! I will defeat them, no matter how many you call—!”
“—Oh, I see. Then I’ll go for it.”
A mushi user’s sword suddenly pierced the demon captain’s stomach and killed him.
The sword was pulled out from the demon captain’s stomach. The long sword was red with a slender, spiky blade like that of a spine. The one who used the sword was a young man who was also the head of the settlement. He was the strongest mushi user who was also known as the King of the Beasts.
The mushi users roused as they saw that figure.
“Galtia has come—!!!”
“Alright, don’t get left behind! Forward—!!!”
On the other hand, the demon soldiers who recognized Galtia’s figure shook in fear.
“Hiiih?! He was the one who defeated a majin before!!!”
“Isn’t that totally a monster?!”
“We-we’re going to be killed—“
Most of them spoke words in fear, losing half of their fighting spirit.
“Okay, the enemies are scared. Time to charge.”
Galtia led the charge in front, followed by the soldiers behind him.
The left flank was now dominated by Galtia — by the mushi user.
Due to lack of “historical record”, people depicted mushi users in various ways; some fanfic depicted them as part of greater forces, while this one depicted it as an independent force on its own.
How mushi users people look like;
[The image model is Caloria Cricket, the last known surviving member of mushi users, somehow managed to survive the genocide happened prior Rance era.]