༺ Humans Use Tools ༻
The alarm felt more like a persistent ache rather than just a mere loud noise.
Would a cricket made of steel make a noise like this? It felt like a razor-thin blade was chopping away at my ears.
Unable to resist, I lurched out of the bed and silenced the clock. Waking up with a throbbing headache every day was hardly a pleasant routine, and I gritted my teeth, trying to dampen the ringing in my ears.
“Ugh. That fucking alarm clock.”
The State allowed setting the alarm earlier, but never later than 8 o’clock. No matter how late you tried to set it after that, the piercing screech that always followed suit was almost like an attack.
It was said that the fastest way to find a corpse was to look for a house with an alarm that didn’t turn off. Only the dead could bear that noise.
The only way to guarantee a peaceful slumber was to smash the alarm clock to bits, but the consequences of oversleeping were just as dire. In the Military State where everyday life needed to tick perfectly like a cog in a machine, being late was almost a crime.
“You bastards. At least wake us up more peacefully.”
After stretching my body, I caught a glimpse of my reflection in the mirror above the sink. The broken mirror reflected my face, distorted from the cracks.
I was wearing a standard shirt. It was the same clothes I had been given before being strapped in a straitjacket. The shirt was already heavily creased from having worn it for several days.
“I need to wash my clothes soon. I can’t keep wearing the same clothes every day.”
There must be some clean clothes left somewhere. After washing my face, I headed out, looking for anything else I could wear—
And then immediately closed the door again.
I held the handle tight and pressed my back against the door.
‘Why is that furball waiting outside my door? Does it plan to drag me along on a morning walk?’
‘Nope. Absolutely not. I have so many things on my plate already. I need to cook for Azzy since nobody else will. Now I need to walk her on top of that? At this rate, I wouldn’t have any personal time to do what I need to do.’
What’s wrong with just a little walk? That’s the Dog King. They take walks like a king as well.
“Woof, woof, woof.”
I could hear her front paws scratching on the door. The residence for workers had no locks, so the door rattled alongside my body every time her paws touched the door.
Although Azzy wasn’t trying to break the door yet, it felt as though a battering ram was smashing its horns against the door. I would tire out before the door could break at this rate.
In times of siege, the defenders often charged out of the castle, even if their forces were much weaker than their attackers. They didn’t do this because they were stupid. Instead, they would rather try to do something before they starved to death.
I had the same mindset as I clutched the door handle.
“It’s time, you damned beast.”
I was scared.
Who wouldn’t be scared to fight a monster that could tear flesh from bone with a single bite?
However, dogs were loyal to humans. The Dog King had infinite loyalty towards humans and would likely not attack me. There was a possibility that she might bite me in her rebellious struggle, but she wouldn’t tear me to shreds.
I treated her well until now to gain her trust, but no more.
Humanity will no longer kneel.
We shall not meet the demands of mere animals.
I will fight. Even if it means death.
With a newfound determination rooted firmly in my heart, I opened the door to see Azzy staring up at me from the floor.
“What have you come here for, foul beast?!”
‘If she even dares to ask me for a morning walk, I’ll collar her up. If she wants food like a pig, I’ll add in extra spices she can’t handle. It doesn’t matter that I can’t fight her head-on. It’s about the mindset. The thought that makes you want to fight! It’s time, mutt!’
Azzy crawled to my feet. She then fell to the floor again, yawning.
‘Huh? She doesn’t want… a walk? Not even whining for food either?’
I waited for a minute, but all Azzy did was wag her tail against my legs.
“She’s just here. Phew.”
The Dog King was still a dog at the end of the day. They required interaction with humans. However, the other humans here weren’t exactly suitable for giving Azzy what she needed. The Regressor was too busy, and the vampire wasn’t even alive. The only person Azzy could really interact with was me.
I relaxed and lowered my hand in front of Azzy. Yawning, Azzy rubbed her face into my palm.
“Now this is more like a pet. You’ve finally realized your place.”
The rulers of this world was humanity. That was precisely why the Beast Kings adopted human form and spoke the human language. As the representatives of their respective races, they needed to be able to communicate with the rulers of the lands.
Azzy was just like any other dog in how active and energetic she was, but at least you could always communicate with her. My lips twisted into a sly grin as I patted her.
“Hehehe. Yes, good girl. I don’t even need to use my hands to communicate with you!”
‘Nothing is better than an obedient dog. Well, I think I can make this work. It’s acceptable.’
“Follow me, Azzy! Your nose will be useful in searching the offices.”
I headed to the management offices, and Azzy got right back up to follow me.
If this were a normal prison, a towering watchtower would be built next to the facility. That tower would rise about two stories higher than the rooftop of the prison, watching over the inmates like they were ants in a colony.. If even a single prisoner was unable to be located, they would whip out their glaring searchlights and figure out a way to locate them anyhow.
Regardless, Tantalus was full of prisoners that the State couldn’t handle.
In order to continue properly maintaining the facility, the State needed to make the corresponding investment. Tantalus needed an army or someone with the combat skills of a general to keep the prisoners in check.
Of course, that was impossible. Spending that many resources on a prison warden was something nonsensically wasteful as far as the State was concerned.
Realizing that abandonment was cheaper than trying to find out some way to control it, they dropped the prison into the abyss and cut off all support. They had essentially left the prisoners to their own devices down here.
Instead of a watchtower, Tantalus had a square building that resembled a storage unit. It was a container building that was separated by a small concrete fence.
The building was in a state of disrepair, and as I climbed over the fence, I winced.
“Phew. The insides are completely a mess, huh?”
One wall had completely collapsed. Evidenced by the gigantic palm-shaped indentation in the rubble, it seemed that someone had toppled the wall down by slamming it with their palm. On the steel plates reinforcing the outer walls were many small holes, as if someone had done target practice on it. The holes had traces of having melted.
Just what were they shooting? Even fire arrows can’t do something like this.
The roof had collapsed halfway down. The reason was obvious. A gigantic metal beam, similar to the ones you’d find at construction sites, had been smashed through the roof. One of the corners of the building had also completely disappeared, leaving teeth marks in its trace, as if something had bitten it.
But there’s no creature that has a mouth that big… right?
‘Just what happened?’
As I crouched down, advancing carefully, the ground suddenly shook. Looking down, I saw that someone had cleanly cut the concrete floor as though it was cake. This was likely the work of the Regressor.
Something clearly must’ve happened, but all I could do was read minds. I couldn’t tell what happened here in the past. All I could guess was that some massive wave of violence and chaos swept through this place.
I scratched my chin as I turned back to Azzy.
“Azzy, do you remember what happened?”
“Woof! Everyone fought!”
“Uh, so who? Why did they fight? Can you tell me exactly what happened from start to finish?”
“Never mind. I shouldn’t have asked you.”
Azzy probably hadn’t picked a side. Her loyalty to all humans meant that she was equally ignorant of all humans. Even if I gained her trust, she probably wouldn’t help me out if I fought against someone else.
The thought pissed me off.
What was I doing all of this for?
“Ugh. All my efforts are worthless. No matter how many times I feed you and take you out for walks… A dog is just a dog.”
“I like walks!”
“I know. But I don’t.”
Azzy widened her eyes in shock. Had the fact that someone doesn’t like walks been that much of a surprise for her?
As if she had become worried about her future walks, she hopped up and down, speaking with remarkable fluency.
“Woof! Walks are great! You see so many cool things! It’s so fun!”
“Walks are really, really good. It’s wide open everywhere! You can run all you want!”
‘So what if it is? Is she trying to convince me? Even if I have become a prisoner, do you think I’d be so easily convinced by a mere dog?’
As Azzy used some ‘high-level’ vocabulary skills to convince me about the positive aspects of walks, she looked at me expectantly, with shining eyes.
“You don’t like walks?”
“I don’t mind them.”
Unfortunately for her, it was too early to rejoice. Watching her spin around in joy, I added to my previous statement.
“But I prefer laying down and taking a nap.”
“We’ve wasted too much time. Let’s get going.”
‘Haaa… I’ll have to figure things out on my own.’
After indulging Azzy for a while, I walked past the broken door and into the control room.
Just what did they do to rip through this door as though it was paper? It was still a metal door.
Should I head back?
The building was completely dark due to the lack of lighting. If the roof had been intact and the walls still standing, it would’ve been too dark to see. Fortunately, the newly added gaping holes in the walls allowed enough light to seep in to illuminate the outlines of objects.
As expected of a control room, I saw many things that used to be parts of different machines. The reason I said ‘used to be’ was because they were broken to the point where I could barely recognize them.
Scattered bolts and nuts. Split gears. Half of a control panel. A golem missing most of its limbs.
The machines and magic golems that had resided here were completely eliminated during the raid on the building.
“They must’ve broken everything during the jailbreak. I understand that sentiment.”
I agreed with their mindset of revenge. Muttering meaningless words, I rummaged through the mountain of scraps in front of me. I hoped to find something useful that the State hadn’t retrieved from the heap already.
The room was shrouded in darkness, and the piles of rubble were overwhelming. I wasn’t sure where to start, and I ended up sweating as I dug through the piles. The weight of the rubble made it even more challenging, and I struggled to lift it, letting out groans of exertion.
Even if there was a treasure hidden in the trash, I wasn’t really capable of finding it.
As I was about to head back, Azzy perked up and dove into the pile.
As she dug with her bare hands, gigantic scraps of debris flew everywhere, causing me to retreat to a safe distance behind the sunken roof. After tossing aside a concrete block impaled by a steel beam and a large antenna, Azzy pointed to a small cabinet.
Realizing what it was, I forced my body back up.
“This is the valuables cabinet, right? Nice job, Azzy.”
“I did good?”
“Yeah, good girl. You’re the best doggy.”
After appeasing Azzy with the compliment, I pulled the cabinet’s handle as she hopped around it in circles. However, the cabinet had a deep indentation in its side, and it refused to budge. It seemed like something inside had broken or bent the wrong way. It was definitely not because I wasn’t strong enough.
But who am I? A human with wisdom. And human wisdom shines in their tools.
“First, second, and third-class. What type of lever do we need here?”
“Woof?! I’m not an idiot!”
I shoved the metal beam into the bent opening of the door and pushed hard.
…It didn’t work.
Hm. But who am I? A human with wits. And when my strength isn’t enough…
“Azzy, can you help me out?”
“Woof? I’m not an idiot!”
“Yeah, yeah, alright. Just doggy punch this.”
“Yeah, just slam this part with your paw. Hard.”
“Woof? Like this?”
As soon as I saw Azzy raise her arm, I turned and ran. Her arm swept through the air.
With a gigantic noise, the cabinet flew three meters into the air. The tight door flew off, spinning in the air until it lodged itself into the ceiling. The metal beam that had been used as a lever was now in the shape of a ‘V’.
The cabinet landed headfirst on the ground.
That doggy punch was strong.
“Aw, good girl. You’re the best dog in the world.”
“Yep, the best.”
“Woof! Me, best!”
Leaving Azzy behind, I looked inside the cabinet.
There were a few crystal orbs, likely made as spares, and some paperwork.
‘Is that all?’
Continuing to search, I saw a lead-colored round object in the corner of the cabinet. I had missed it initially because of the darkness.
I shoved my hand in and took it out.
Then I let out a gasp.
“Holy—This is still here?”
Now this… this was something I could use.