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Chapter 14 – Galtia [B]
“—Maou-sama, Leonhart-sama. May I ask for some of your time?”
The voice sounded familiar. He was probably the demon general who was in charge of this camp.
“…A demon general?”
“…Is it okay?”
“Okay then. For now, just enter.”
After confirming with Ssulal, our boss, I called out for the demon general to enter.
Then, as expected, a demon general entered the command center while saying, “Excuse me.”
The demon general genuflected toward Ssulal, who was sitting on the chair, and me, who was standing beside her. Then, Ssulal gave me a look. It seemed that she had no intention of getting involved with the upcoming discussion.
Since that was the case, I spoke from over the kneeling demon general.
“You may rise. Rather, what happened?”
“Hah, actually… that’s.”
The demon general seemed to be at a loss for words, unlike his usual manner where he gave one command after another.
I grew curious when I saw that.
“? Just say it already. I won’t be angry unless it is something that’s obviously stupid.”
“Ha, Hah! Then forgive me for saying this … we found someone who appears to be an intruder.”
Ssulal’s shoulder jerked up when she heard that. Don’t tell me, or so I thought until I noticed something strange in the demon general’s words.
“…What do you mean by ‘appears to be’ an intruder? Explain what happened from the beginning.”
“Hah … the ones who first noticed it were one of the demon captains and several demon soldiers.”
Since it was a battle where the victory was already well in sight, they probably went to discuss tactics for tomorrow while they were drinking alcohol. I’d already given them permission to drink.
The supplies we brought would no longer be necessary once the battle ended anyway, and it would also be troublesome to bring it all back. So I figured I should give them the chance to drink some liquor for their victory, which also served as a means for them to vent some of their stress.
Even if some demon soldiers ended up dead drunk, I didn’t mind at all.
“It seems they didn’t really have a particular destination in mind, and were just walking around the encampment. Then they brought it here when they spotted it behind one of the tents of the camp.”
“What do you mean by ‘it’?”
“We already brought it here… hey.”
“Hah, may I enter the room?”
“? … Permission granted.”
The one who entered the command center was one of the demon captains. He was carrying something over his shoulder.
I got a clear view of what it was as he got closer.
“—That’s right. On top of that, he is…”
Ssulal, who had declared earlier that she wouldn’t get involved, couldn’t help but exclaim. I also confirmed what she was looking at with my own eyes.
Yes, I remembered that child. He has green hair, brown skin, and also tattoos drawn on his body.
He was the mushi user boy who interrupted my fight with Galtia.
He was currently sleeping on the shoulder of the demon captain.
Why was a child here, and on the Demon Army’s encampment at that.
“…Is he an abandoned child?”
Ssulal muttered… there was no way he was. What kind of parent out there would abandon a child right at the Demon Army’s encampment? If they really existed, they were either idiots or insane.
However, even as I denied such possibility, I had no idea why such a child was left here. What should we do if he really was an abandoned child?
“I doubt that it really needed to be reported, but since we don’t understand why this occurred, we came to report it… would Leonhart-sama happen to know why?”
“Ah? … No, wait… what do you mean? It’s your job to think about the reasons why this could happen.”
None of the Demon Army’s people there could figure out why such a thing happened though, and they all tilted their heads in confusion.
— The Mushi Users’ settlement.
It was the time when most of the people were asleep and there was no one outside. Even the store, which was usually quite busy during the day, currently has neither people nor things around at the moment.
Galtia was sitting on top of a big rock there, right in the center of the settlement’s square.
Only moonlight illuminated the area. However, that alone was enough.
Since he was a child, Galtia always spent his nights in this square once everyone had left. The spot above the rock was his favorite spot since back then.
By the time Galtia had become more conscious of his surroundings, his parents were no longer there. His mother had been attacked by a demon not long after he was born, and had died. Meanwhile, his father had been determined to kill the demon that murdered his wife. He had chosen to house more mushis than he could take in and ended up becoming a “nest.”
It seemed that if mushi users housed more mushis than their body could take, both their personality and flesh would break apart. That was what was referred to as a “nest.” The “nest” was no longer considered human. They were monsters whose minds were already broken, and only death served as their sole salvation. That was why his father had also ended up getting killed by his fellow mushi users.
Whether it was about that matter, or the fact his parents were absent in his life, Galtia never really felt lonely or sad.
He did feel sorry for them. He thought it might’ve been fun if they were alive.
However, it couldn’t be helped since they died. Rather than dwelling on such things, Galtia was actually filled with gratitude towards them — for letting him be born into this world, and allowing him to meet his mushis.
He has always played with mushis since his childhood. Of course, it wasn’t like he had no friends besides mushis. However, children could be cruel. They were harsh toward those who were different from them — toward Galtia, who had no parents. The fact that he still had friends despite that made him feel quite blessed.
“…We ate and ran to that store back then. Do you remember that?”
The mushis within Galtia reacted. Galtia laughed when he heard that.
“Aah… hahah. That did happen. We used your string to steal food, then we tried to escape as is. Then we got shot down by the store owner and got hung upside down. Those were fun times.”
“You mean to say that it wasn’t something to laugh about? No, it’s funny, right? Now that we’ve become adults, the store owner has completely forgotten about that. Do you think he would remember if we do it again right now?”
“Hahah … you’re right. Many things have happened…”
Galtia was reminiscing about his past with his mushis. He never felt bored since they were always together.
However, it made Galtia think. What would happen if he had never been a mushi user?
What if he had been a normal human instead of a mushi user, if he had been just a normal child like everyone else?
…Let’s stop there.
Galtia abandoned such thoughts. There was no meaning in thinking about such things.
However, it wasn’t like it was completely useless.
Because he was born as a mushi user, he met his mushis. Because he was raised in this settlement, Galtia became his current self.
Galtia came to this conclusion and stood up.
“Our thoughts have come to a resolution, right?”
“Aah, I know. You guys wanted to come along, right? Sorry about that, but I’ll be in your care.”
“Heeh… it really is too late to say so, huh.”
Galtia ended his conversation with his mushis and strengthened his resolve. He moved to leave the square.
—However, he was interrupted by a sudden visitor.
As he turned toward the familiar cry, the Elder stood there. He seemed to be panicking and sweating a little.
He came at just the right moment, thought Galtia.
If he was going to ask the opinion of someone from the settlement for the last time, then anyone would do.
“…Hey, elder. I—“
“That boy! The boy that always hung around you got kidnapped!!”
Galtia’s expression froze as he heard the Elder’s suspicious words. The Elder saw that and continued.
“It seems that the demon soldiers who were near the settlement caught the boy, who just happened to be there. One of the residents who happened to witness it told me…”
“That’s why I beg of you! Help him!! You are the only one I can ask this of…”
The Elder clung to Galtia in tears as he told him this story.
He was requesting him to go to the Demon Army encampment to save the child.
Galtia looked at him and asked once, to confirm.
“Hey, elder — is that really what happened?”
“Of course it is! Hurry up!! The demon soldiers will kill that kid if you don’t!!”
Galtia silently looked at the Elder for a while as if he was pondering something.
“Wha, what is it, Galtia…?”
The Elder’s forcefulness lowered as he looked back at the silent Galtia.
A few seconds later, Galtia, who had been silently looking at the Elder all this time—
“— I see. Then I have to go help him.”
Suddenly, the tense mood that had built up seemed to dissipate.
The smile that Galtia had on his face was no different from his usual smile. The Elder sighed in relief.
“Umu. Then go there right away.”
“Aah, I will.”
As the Elder said that, Galtia continued to walk, and he left that place.
And finally, he spoke without looking back.
“Mu… Umu, be careful.”
Galtia’s final words failed to reach anyone.
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