Chapter 10 – Hatred

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Four days passed since Souma became conscious.
After waking up, Souma had Shyemul and the elderly zoan, who was introduced as the Elder to him by Shyemul, teach him about the basic knowledge and common sense of this world.
His day begins with him eating breakfast together with Shyemul. After that he is left in the care of the Elder, who teaches him about myths and the country’s structure. Shyemul comes to pick him up when the sun reaches its zenith and they return together to their tent. Once they have lunch, he helps Shyemul until the sun descends. During that time, Shyemul teaches Souma about the trivial daily customs and taboos at each opportunity while constantly attending to him. And then, once it becomes dark, she recites and sings the stories handed down in the zoan’s village.
Souma, who had breakfast together with Shyemul this morning as well, was sent to the place of prayer by her and he arrived at the Elder’s place to study.

“Elder, I leave him to you today as well. — However, you don’t need to teach him unnecessary things like you did yesterday.” (Shyemul)

Shyemul bids farewell to Souma, saying that she has some stuff to do in the village. Before leaving, she said that to her grandmother.

“Oh? What exactly? Did I grow senile? I can’t remember it well…”

“You, you damned hag! Even though you remember things you don’t have to, you immediately pretend to be senile when it suits you!” (Shyemul)

Souma did no more than smiling wryly at the side of the quarreling two.
Yesterday, Souma was taught by the Elder about the『Divine Children』.

“Can you understand that you are a 『Divine Child』?”

Upon the Elder’s question, Souma honestly told her that he doesn’t get it.

“As you were told already, The Seven exist in this world. The gods don’t show up in person, but they are always watching over us.”

What surprised Souma the most after being taught about this world was the fact that gods really do exist.
Once he explains that gods don’t exist in his world, or that he at least never heard about them appearing directly although they are believed in, the Elder ended up being surprised about the reverse being true.

“Of course, even in the world over here, it’s not like the gods can interfere with us that much either.”

The Elder pointed the tip of her wand at a line of (insects similar to) ants crawling on the ground.

“Soma, are you able to tell apart a single insect among this great number of them?”

Once he tells her that he naturally can’t do that, the Elder nodded with a 「That’s how it is, isn’t it?」

“It’s the same for the gods as well. No matter how much a race might revere them, there’s no way for them to pay attention to each and every single member of that race. Also, even if their own race falls into distress, it isn’t easy for them to help.”

The elder nudged a stone in front of the ant line with her cane in order to obstruct them, causing the line to detour. Once she does, bugs that like wet places appear from below the stone and scatter away.

“It would be great if they saved their own race, but if they end up causing trouble to other races because of that, it might also develop into a conflict between fellow gods. The gods won’t do anything for most of the people even if they exist.”

The elder thrust the tip of her cane at Souma’s forehead.

“However, the small exception to that are 『Divine Children』.”

Currently he is wearing the headband he received from Shyemul. Still, Souma was told about the existence of the strange seal with its combination of an 8 and ∞ even though he was wondering when it was applied on his forehead.

“Divine Children are people that are considered to be watched and given special attention by the gods. As proof of that, a seal of the respective god appears somewhere on their bodies and in many cases they are granted a power as grace.”

“But why was there such an interest in me….?” (Souma)

He couldn’t believe at all that there’s something others might be interested in about him. He considers himself as an extremely common Japanese child.

“That’s something only the gods know. However, you said it yourself that you heard a voice at the time when you dropped into this world. The goddess has an extraordinary interest towards you, I think.”

“Aura, was it? The name of the of the goddess who turned me into a divine son.” (Souma)

“Don’t speak that name with too loud of a voice.”

The Elder lowers the volume of her voice and confirms that there’s no one nearby.

“It’s regretful, but even I don’t know the details what kind of goddess Aura is. Just that Aura’s a greater god ruling over death and destruction and that she likely pulled you into this world as well.”

The goddess Aura who dragged him into the world over here.
Just what kind of intention did she have for bringing me over to this world?

“If you want to return to your former world, you have no other option but to rely on Aura. It might be called lucky, but as long as you have the seal on your forehead, it serves as proof that Aura is interested in you. Someday the day where you can meet Aura might come.”

“It’s possible to meet with a goddess?” (Souma)

“Of course it is”, the Elder nodded deeply. “Although it takes the shape of dreams or illusions in most cases, it’s possible to speak with a god. Most of the times you meet with them while being granted a grace after being chosen as 『Divine Child』, but…”

“However, I don’t possess a power like a grace or something like that.” (Souma)

Souma had already heard about various types of graces from the Elder, but it seems like he isn’t endowed with any of these.

“Hrm, that’s something unusual, but it’s also not known whether you haven’t been granted a grace yet or whether it’s a grace that doesn’t stand out in your usual daily life.”

“Such graces exist?” (Souma)

“Yeah. For example, if you have the grace of being able to breathe underwater, that power won’t be able to manifest as long as you don’t dive into water. If it’s a grace where you won’t fall ill, as there have been in the past, that’s certainly something you can’t easily discover either.”

At that moment, she apparently came up with a good idea. The Elder grinned broadly.

“Oh, yes! That Shyemul is also a divine daughter of the God of Beasts.”

“Shyemul is one, too?” (Souma)

That was the first time he heard about it. As far as Souma remembers, he never saw a seal on Shyemul’s body. She also never told him about her being a divine child.

“Yeah. At the time when the the God of Beasts asked that child what kind of grace she’d like to have, that child begged him that she’d like him to watch over her pride without asking for any power. For that reason she was given a grace that brings about calamity to those who defile that child’s honour and in exchange that child became unable to go against her own pride.”

“Brings about calamity, you say?” (Souma)

“Well it’s nothing that grand. If one tries to use poison in a duel with her, they will end up making a mistake and injure themselves. It’s at that level. But then again, depending on the degree of defilement, the calamity which befalls one will grow in strength as well. But unless someone does something grave, it should just be at the level of experiencing pain.”

There was something Souma and the Elder didn’t know. The human, who was the company commander in the fortress were Shyemul was imprisoned, did such a grave deed and died in agony.

“I see, so Shyemul was a divine child as well.” (Souma)

For the current Souma, Shyemul is the only person he can rely on. If it wasn’t for her, Souma would have likely died a dog’s death a long time ago. Sheymul is speaking about returning a favour, but Souma himself felt a debt of gratitude he won’t be able to repay through words alone.
Because she is a divine child just like him, albeit that of a different god, he was somehow very happy.

“Ah, yeah, right. It would be the best if you get Shyemul to show her seal to you for future reference.”

The Elder proposed that all of a sudden.

“The seal?” (Souma)

“Yeah. Because we zoans are this hairy, the seals are hard to find. Even just showing it is quite difficult.”

I see. Certainly, if you have as much body hair as the zoans do, it’s probably difficult to discover the seal on your body.

“I guess Shyemul is busy with various things during daytime as well. But once it’s time for sleeping, it will be fine to request of her 『Please let me carefully examine your seal for future reference』. Got it? You have to definitely ask her.”

Souma thought it strange for the Elder to emphasize it that fervently, but persuaded himself with there’s probably some reason to it. Because of that, he requested it from Shyemul exactly as the Elder told him to.
I don’t want to remember the events of that time overly much.
At first Shyemul opened her eyes widely in visible surprise. Then she wrinkled up her nose, flapped her mouth open and shut, and showed various funny expressions. After that she faced Souma directly and admonished him.

“Soma, I know that it’s grandmother’s suggestion. But, my seal is, you know. Umm, that is, how to say it? It’s above the nipple of my left breast. To show it at night, moreover at the time of getting ready for bed. Even as a joke, please understand my feelings after being told 『Please let me examine it carefully』 by you, who is a male. You might not know as a human, but even though things might appear this way, I’m still a girl at marriageable age.” (Shyemul)

And so on and on and on.
Souma, who realized that he said something outrageous, had no choice but to earnestly apologize until Shyemul got over her bad mood.
Of course he wasn’t able to look at the actual seal, but he was told by Shyemul that the seal of the God of Beasts depicts 「three claw marks」.

“Well then, I will come pick you up around noon again. Please wait here until then.” (Shyemul)

Finishing the quarrel with her grandmother, Shyemul informed Souma and went down to the village.
Once he saw her off, Souma noticed the Elder staring his way with a broad grin. Since it gave him the creeps, he asked “What’s wrong?” while slowly drawing back. The Elder was all smiles and said,

“How were that child’s breasts? They are big, aren’t they?”

Souma looked up to the sky while being utterly amazed.

◆◇◆◇◆

Souma was troubled about what to do.
At the time when Souma was receiving teaching from the Elder, a zoan whom Souma doesn’t know came looking for her. While glaring at Souma with a sidelong glance, the Zoan told the Elder “The clan chief is calling for you.” After apologizing to Souma for ending the lecture midway, the Elder descended to the village together with the zoan.
On this occasion, Souma was repeatedly told to not go back by himself until Shyemul comes to pick him up and thus he decided to kill time as a last resort. However, having been told by Shyemul and the Elder that this place is a sacred place of prayer, Souma had too much time on his hands, as it would be wrong to arbitrarily tamper around with the things around him or to casually walk around.
Helplessly sitting down atop a stone at a spot slightly away from the place of prayer, he waited for Shyemul to come.
When Souma was starting to get tired of waiting since he couldn’t see Shyemul at all, a rustling sound occurred in a thicket nearby.
Souma stands up and becomes cautious wondering whether some animal will appear. Even in Japan he heard in the news about people getting attacked by bears that failed to go into winter sleep every year. Much less to say that this is a different world. There’s no guarantee that there are no animals unknown to Souma which are more dangerous than bears.

“…!? C-Children?” (Souma)

However, what appeared from within the thicket were two zoan children.
A largish child with a height that’s not beyond Souma’s waist led a girlish child by the hand. They wore matching simple clothes consisting of a large cloth with a hole in the middle for the head.
They are probably an older brother and a younger sister.

“Bro, you’re a human?”

This is likely their first time seeing a human.
The boy asked this while looking at him with big and round eyes.

“Ah, yeah, I’m a human, I think.” (Souma)

I’m not quite knowledgeable about the humans over here, but it’s probably safe to say that I’m similar to them.
Once Souma answers like that, the girl hides behind the back of the boy.

“Mother said that humans are scary. That they persecute us.”

The boy positions himself to protect the girl. Both of them move back. The appearance of the boy frantically protecting his younger sister is pleasant, but at this rate it will result in a terrible misunderstanding.

“I-I won’t do something like that! I won’t torment you.” (Souma)

Once Souma denies that and waves both his hand in panic, both of them look his way with upturned eyes as if asking “Really?” Souma created a smile trying to make the two feel safe. At that time he has also forgotten that Shyemul warned him that “Showing your teeth to a zoan will be regarded as threat.”
The children apparently understood that it was a clumsy smile from Souma. Once they comprehended that Souma wasn’t hostile towards them, they approached him with looks of being immensely curious about him.

“Hey, hey, bro, are you a good human?”

“Ye~ah. I wonder whether I’m a good human? I don’t think I’m a bad human though.” (Souma)

“Come on, which is it? Which of the two?”

Due to the looks of the children, he recalls the child who lived in the neighbouring house. Even though he was a boy that would enter elementary school next year, he often clung to Souma because there are no children of his age in the neighbourhood.
Children, even if they are human or zoan, don’t change even if it’s a different world.

“Hey, say, since this bro isn’t a bad human, it fine for me to not use this?”

The heart of Souma, who watched the siblings with a gentle mood, felt a sudden chill.
The girl took out a dagger with a looped pommel, which was hiding in her clothes and was hung from her neck with a string. Once he looks properly, a string hangs around the neck of the boy as well.

“Yea, it looks like this bro isn’t a bad human.”

“Then it’s fine, isn’t it?”

“Yea.”

The siblings talked with each other while smiling sweetly, but Souma was nervous due to their abnormal speech and conduct. In order to not agitate them unnecessarily, he kindly asks the two a question,

“Use, you say. What would you do with it?” (Souma)

As far as he could tell while listening to the explanations of Shyemul and the Elder, this world seems to be between Middle Ages and ancient times. In those days there were many places where the control by rules wasn’t complete and thus those places were dominated by simple violence.
Probably even this children are made to carry the daggers to resist when they are exposed to such violence.
Once again Souma felt the difference compared to modern Japan, but the reality of this world was something far more tragic.

“Slit your throat with this before you are caught by a bad human, we were told.”

“Do so because you will suffer a very cruel fate if you are caught.”

For a while Souma was unable to form any words.
The parents of these children have instructed them to commit suicide?
And, these children are considering that as something obvious.
Souma couldn’t believe it.

“Jeeta~!? Shyepoma~!?”

In the far distance the voice of someone could be heard.

“Ah, it’s father and mother.”

“Papa, mama~! Over here~!”

It seems the children’s parents came to search for the two. The children, who discovered that their parents are coming up this way, wave their hands happily.

“Jeeta!? Shyepoma!?”

Even though the words are the same, the sound of their voices has an urgency different from before.
I wonder what’s wrong, Souma looked at the faces of the children and tilted his head in confusion.
Suddenly an intense impact and pain hit Souma’s left cheek. His body topples sideways on the ground due to that pain and impact. Souma, who blinked his eyes in surprise, noticed that he was knocked down by a male zoan who had rushed over.

“This filthy human scum! What are you doing to our children!?”

The eyes of the Zoan, who looks down on Souma, were burning with hatred and rage.
Tears gathered in the eyes of the children, who were surprised due to their father’s threatening attitude, and they burst into tears with loud voices as if a fire was lighted.

“Jeeta, Shyepoma! Are you alright!?”

A female woman, who seems to be their mother, hugs her children and pulls them away from Souma.

“You fucking humans are not only stealing our land and houses from us, but are even going to steal our children!? You monsters that scavenge through the excreta at the bottom of hell! I will kill you!”

The male zoan unsheathed the hatchet at his waist.
Souma’s body trembled due to being hit with genuine wrath, hatred and killing intent for the first time in his life.
I will be killed!?
What happened? Even though I haven’t done anything wrong, why!? Why!? Why!?
His brain boils inside the skull due to fear and confusion. Unable to even raise his voice to ask for help, he can’t do anything but follow the motions of the hatchet the zoan raised overhead with his eyes.
The blade of the largely brandished hatchet shines glaringly.
I’m going to die!?
The hatchet bolt down towards the top of Souma’s head.

“Stop!!”

The one who restrained it at a hair’s breadth was Shyemul, who finally showed up.
While holding back the zoan, who was still holding the hatchet aloft, with an intense stare, she stepped up to the crying siblings with a slow pace.

“Don’t cry, Jeeta. You are the elder brother, therefore you have to reliably protect your younger sister. You too, Shyepoma, it’s wrong to cause your mother troubles by crying too much.” (Shyemul)

Once Shyemul gently remonstrated them like that, the siblings still heaved with sobs, but they had stopped to cry. Shyemul caressed the heads of the two while saying “That’s admirable.”

“Jeeta, Shyepoma, did that human do anything to you?” (Shyemul)

When they are gently asked by Shyemul who kneeled down to match the eyeline of the two, both of them strongly swing their heads left and right.

“We only chatted with bro.”

“Yeah, we only talked.”

After muttering quietly “I see” and rustling roughly through the hair of both’s heads once more, she turned around to the male zoan who had drawn his hatchet.

“That’s how it is. That human has done nothing.” (Shyemul)

“But, esteemed Divine Daughter! This guy is a human!”

The male zoan rebutted like that, but not only the man but also the mother, who hugged her children, raised a voice of surprise due to Shyemul placing her opened right hand on her left breast.

“That human is my benefactor. I’d like you to please overlook him.” (Shyemul)

For zoans the action of putting one’s hand on the left side of the chest is a gesture with the meaning of 「I wage my heart on this」. It’s not something formal like the 「Lifetime’s request」 in modern Japan. If they are really demanded to hand over their heart, they have to scoop out their heart on the spot. If they can’t do that, it’s inevitable for them to be slandered as cowards for their entire life. Thus it’s a gesture that isn’t used unless at very important moments.
There was no way for them to not withdraw if the divine child went this far here. While glaring at Souma until the end, the man took his wife and children and descended to the village.
Seeing off their retreating figures, Shyemul lets a small sigh leak and lends a hand to Souma who is still on the ground.

“That was a disaster, Soma. But, please don’t think badly of them.” (Shyemul)

Souma stood up after taking Shyemul’s hand, but with the recurrence of his fear just now, he holds his own body that is repeatedly trembling.
While tightly shutting his eyes and waiting for the fear to pass, Souma tried to think back.
Even Souma noticed that the village’s zoans look at him with different eyes. However, he selfishly believed that it’s at the level of them just being prejudiced against a different race.
But, the previous wrath and hatred of the zoan was too much to be caused by something so simple.

“Hey, Shyemul. What’s there between humans and zoans? Why is there such hatred?” (Souma)

Shyemul’s expression warped due to Souma asking that. Souma still had difficulty reading the expressions of zoans, but even so he understood that she had a sad expression.

“Originally I intended to tell you after having you learn a bit more about this world, but I guess that this is a good opportunity. — Follow me, Soma.” (Shyemul)

Saying so, Shyemul started to walk towards the mountain’s interior and not the village.

“I will teach you about the humans and zoans of this world.” (Shyemul)

 


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