Omniscient First-Person’s Viewpoint Chapter 108

Chapter 108 - Beasts, their Kings, and Humans - 4

༺ Beasts, their Kings, and Humans – 4 ༻



  I perceive wishes. When I peer into somebody’s heart using my quiet, flowing power, their aspirations remain with me for a time before vanishing, only leaving traces. 


  Most wishes merely pass through in this manner, but occasionally, some linger restlessly before leaving the window of my heart. These could be base, perilous, even presumptuous, but nonetheless, it’s a mind reader’s fate to be unable to disregard such fervent longings, no matter how I try.


  It can’t be helped because I can read thoughts.


  When wandering hopes lift the pages of a book, scribbled text fills the empty expanse. Though it may seem chaotic at first glance, observing it teeter on the brink always fills me with somberness.


  If what lies ahead is an exquisite tale that is complete as a whole, woven with layers of subtle meanings, more tightly knit than bricks in a wall, more intricate than interlocking gears… it’s only natural to anticipate what will occupy the voids.


  And it’s invariably the sentences that flow onward, and the books that gaze beyond the finishing dot that radiate the most brilliance.


  Books that strive for the perfect period to draw their conclusions, to attain closure, ironically lead to the bleakest endings. For in a world devoid of flawless existence, the pursuit of perfection begets embellishments of falsehoods and contradictions.


  And that’s why I loathe flimsy lies… if they’re aimed at deceiving even yourself.



* * *



  A commotion erupted outside, resonating from the clash between the regressor and Nabi, who had suddenly joined the fray. They sounded pretty close as I could clearly hear the regressor’s bewildered exclamation.


  “You little! You had the mana cigar in the right hand I cut off…!”


  Lieutenant General Ebon had lunged at the regressor, feigning madness, and sacrificed his right arm instead of launching an attack. It was severed effortlessly by the regressor’s counterattack.


  While the regressor was caught off guard, Ebon rapidly fled. But as the regressor belatedly began to chase him, his severed right hand opened in front of her. The hand contained a mana cigar, embers still clinging to it, releasing a coarse plume of smoke over the regressor.


  Simultaneously, Ebon exhaled the mouthful of mana herb smoke he’d held in his mouth. While a mana herb wrapped in paper was a separate matter, the potent aroma of the smoldering smoke was enough to rouse Nabi.


  Driven solely by instinct at this point, Nabi trailed Ebon, only to run into the regressor. And so, they transitioned into combat as seamlessly as flowing water.


  It was a piece of thriller, meticulously crafted from its very inception, starting from the moment he pretended to continue the fight–going to the extent of revealing his vulnerability as a beastkin to lower the guard of his opponent–and how he ignited the mana cigar within his mouth, even though he could’ve simply used it normally.


  Had this been an endeavor toward life, I would’ve offered a standing ovation. But when everything’s just an exercise in self-deception, when it’s nothing more than the self-soothing pursuit of a false purpose… The dedication to the futility of it all only heightens the letdown.


  “The Cat King is here! Stop that guy from doing anything!”


  I heard the regressor shout from afar, but the lieutenant general had already taken action and was attempting more.



* * *



  The claw that sliced through Callis’ abdomen from behind dripped blood in silence.


  “The Dog King… does not manifest frenzy. Because, all that wrath has been claimed by the Wolf King.”


  Ebon released the claw. Dangling from his hand was a chain–the very one Callis had thrown away. As a catkin, he knew how to stealthily approach prey. Callis was distracted by the undying’s coincidental appearance and didn’t notice his approach, but even if she had, the outcome wouldn’t have changed.


  Whatever the case, he was a Star of the State. Even if she was a lieutenant colonel, there was still an immense disparity in strength between them.


  Ebon wound the chain tightly around the claw’s handle. The claw was the anchor, and the chain the tether.


  He continued speaking in a dark murmur.


  “But there are times when even the Dog King succumbs to frenzy. However, it does not occur when death is upon her. It emerges when… a life is taken. When a human meets their demise due to the Dog King’s actions, she is plunged into frenzy.”


  Ebon’s gaze followed the chain, reaching the other end where Azzy was. Her forepaw was still connected to the chain. While Callis had managed to free herself from the chain around her neck, Azzy hadn’t had the opportunity to do the same during her struggle against Nabi.


  “Even if it is not of her choice…”


  This wasn’t about a dog’s incapability to kill people. It was about their very nature, which was defined by not taking lives. If the Dog King killed someone, if a human killed another human through her, that would shake the age-old pact between man and dog, blurring the line that separated dogs from wolves.


  Thus, Azzy couldn’t intervene in the deadly conflict between humans. She couldn’t let her actions result in taking a life.


  So, she would shut her eyes, block her ears, and hide in the corner.


  “Turning against his own? What is he scheming…? Hu?”


  While Tyr was astonished, unable to follow the sudden twist of events, Ebon charged toward Azzy. 


  Azzy harbored only affection toward humans, hence she offered no resistance. Ebon approached her with his sharp nails bared and seized her by the hair.


  Then, he began sprinting.


  “Arf! Woof-woof!”


  Azzy’s eyes widened as she was dragged away, though not due to pain. She understood what was going to happen.


  The other end of the chain that was affixed to her forepaw was connected to the claw embedded in Callis’ body. If Azzy was pulled away, the chain would tighten, causing the hooked blades of the claw to tear out Callis’ muscles and insides.


  Her wound was already fatal. If those blades were pulled out… Callis would die on the spot.


  Even if it wasn’t by Azzy’s hand, she would be involved in the death. It wouldn’t breach the foundation of the promise, as the act wouldn’t be done entirely of her own volition, but it would be dangerous if she were to go on a frenzied rampage at this moment. They were situated in the isolated abyss, after all.


  If she ever happened to destroy the ground, everyone would plummet beneath.


  “Woof! Woof-woof-woof! Let go! Ruff!”


  Azzy fought desperately, scratching at the ground and walls, fiercely resisting Ebon’s grip.  However, Azzy’s weight itself wasn’t substantial, and the lieutenant general was a formidable Qi Art practitioner in his own right. More than anything, the concrete walls and flooring proved too frail to fully withstand all the strain.


  There was only one way to get loose. 


  “Go on and struggle, Dog King! But even with your strength, you must kill to stop me! And that also works for me!”




  But that approach was even more impossible. 


  Approximately 15 meters remained until death struck. Azzy drove her claws into the ground in frantic resistance, but that bought only seconds at most.  At this rate, Callis would die, and Azzy would lose control. Even if she didn’t try to kill humans, she would have to be taken down to keep this place safe.  


  What I sensed was extraordinary tenacity and eerie, oozing malevolence.  I alone could read his objective. Then again, who could imagine trying to shackle someone with the fetters of death by using their own life? 


  But I perceived it, and the moment I did, I started running.



* * *  



  Callis teetered on the brink of death, poised to tumble over the edge… the very instant that chain reached its limit.


  The instant the claw pierced her abdomen, she intuitively sensed the end upon her.


  「I wanted… to live. But I guess it was too much to ask. Then again, I made too many mistakes. It’s too late.」


  What Callis experienced in her struggle’s twilight was a sense of catharsis. She had done everything she could, mustering the scant strength she possessed to make the slightest difference. She did regret not acting sooner, but that was a trivial, common sentiment.


  「…I hate beasts. I hated them even before Father passed away. Those filthy, impure creatures, leading a life of ease without any toil. Even though… we all die the same…」


  As a member of the Human Regime, she vaguely realized Ebon’s intent even amidst her fading consciousness. She also understood that she was meant to be the sacrificial trigger for the Dog King’s frenzy.


  「…Even if I die, it won’t be at the paws of a mutt.」


  Callis reached a quivering hand behind her back to grab the claw’s handle, intending to pull it out.


  In the distance, she spotted Rasch running toward her. Seeing him in her final moments brought her relief. It was perhaps the last vestige of nobility she could uphold before her end in a life riddled with mistakes…


  “I prefer this side of the story, you see. Even if both sides are desperate, when the resolution of the other side is derived from childish lies… it strikes me as rather hollow.”


  I am the audience of hope. For those seeking closure, let there be the perfect ending. For those desiring continuation, let there be more space to be written. The impossible remains impossible. But if it is possible, let it be possible.


  Ebon’s thoughts reached me then.


  「The laborer! When did he get there?!」


  When? I was already running from the moment I read your mind, while you weren’t bothering with me.


  I stood behind Callis, curling my fingers one by one, in and out, then pressing them against the knot of the chain.


  Escape magic really does require an assistant, doesn’t it?


  “Wait just one moment! I’ll undo it for you! I was good at picking locks and stuff back in the day, you know!”


  But just as I pulled at the knot after my confident proclamation, the chain clanked pointlessly, making noise but achieving nothing. After a long moment of fiddling with the knot, I voiced my bewilderment.


  “Eh? Uh? W-why isn’t this coming undone? This is weird?”


  「Fool! I bent that level 4 alchemic steel into a knot. As if you could undo it in such a short time!」


  Ebon mocked me as he reached the limit of the chain’s length. Azzy’s claws left long marks on the concrete as the slack chain gradually tautened.


  「If I just, keep pulling the Dog King! The lieutenant colonel will die by her hand!」


  “Ah! T-this! Hang on! It should work!”


  Clank, clank. The metallic sounds, like something not quite aligning, continued. The lieutenant general sensed success and poured out all his strength.


  「Sink below the abyss, all of you! Until I return to retrieve your corpses!」


  But just as he yanked at Azzy’s hair, and the moment of her anguished cry was imminent… The chain tightened. The lieutenant general’s strength passed through Azzy, traveled through the steel chain, and reached the claw handle–which then slipped out.


  As in, everything except the blades came loose.


  Clang, clang. The handle, still attached to the chain, bounced uselessly on the ground. There was no sound of a body being torn apart. No horrific scream. The claw blades remained embedded in Callis’ abdomen, staunching the bleeding.


  Only the handle rolled across the concrete floor.


  Everyone’s expectations were shattered at that moment. Failing to grasp the situation, their minds whited out.


  I really did relish this silence, this pristine blankness that followed the conclusion of a magic trick.


  Unable to contain my surging delight, I spread my arms wide and proclaimed to my audience.


  “Sur~prise! Tada! Escape, successful!”



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Omniscient First-Person’s Viewpoint

Omniscient First-Person’s Viewpoint

Status: Ongoing Author:
I, a mere con artist, was unjustly imprisoned in Tantalus, the Abyssal Prison meant for the most nefarious of criminals, where I met a Regressor.   But when I used my ability to read her mind, I found out that I was fated to die in a year…   And that the world would end 10 years later.


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