An Unexpected Resolve & An Unexpected Visit


  「Master, there’s something I want to talk to you about」


  It was the night before our return to Ishka when the young beastkin girl named Ciel spoke out to me with a really intense facial expression.


  I was going to play dumb like――Oh? What do you want to talk about? But I dropped that thought when I saw her face.


  It was clear to me that she was serious once I saw that look.
If that’s the case, I should respond to her seriously as well.
Besides, I have a pretty good guess on what she wants to talk about.


  「Is it about what you saw on the night of the attack?」


  Ciel nodded to my question.


  Ah, I knew it, I thought as I scratched my cheek.


  The night of the attack, of course, refers to the night Jijinbou attacked.


  At that time, I had collapsed after I gave Claudia a large amount of soul.
When Jijinbou brought out his soul equipment, I was woken up by that strong presence, but I was in no condition to fight right away.


  Then what happened next was I ate the soul of Lunamaria who came to take care of me.


  And so, Ciel who also came to do the same thing witnessed the full scene of that. 


  Since the situation was urgent, I was quite aggressive and I ate a large amount of Lunamaria’s soul.


  As a result, Lunamaria collapsed, then I went out to face Jijinbou after I left her under Ciel’s care.


  It’s natural that Ciel would be suspicious about what happened.
Since whatever the case may be, Lunamaria clearly collapsed after we kissed.


  When I thought about it calmly afterward, I could have told Ciel to wait outside the room or something first, but I was also in quite a panic.
After all, I was just woken up by the presence of a soul equipment user at the time.


  Even if I tell Ciel things like “Me and Lunamaria always kiss right when I wake up” now, there’s no way she would be convinced that that was all.


  If I order her to “forget about it” from a master and slave perspective, she would surely drop her questions…but I’m trying to increase the number of people I could eat souls from besides Lunamaria.
The chances of her seeing a similar type of scene when we live in the same house is going to increase.


  It will be a hassle to always be thinking up excuses and ordering her to forget about things.


  With the assault on the royal capital this time, information of my origins, the phantom-blade style, and soul equipment was leaked to Duke Dragunaut’s family.


  If that’s the case, there’s no point even if I hide those things from Ciel.


  In the first place, Ciel and Lunamaria both know about my secret that not even the duke knows――That is the people I sleep with will gain a power-up.
That makes hiding those other things from Ciel especially pointless.


  In a way, this is a good opportunity for me to reveal all my secrets to her.


  The problem is this vampire-like ability to eat people’s souls could frighten her and make her want to run away from me, but…Yeah, if she wants to do that, then I’ll just release her and let her return to her birthplace like what I initially planned to do.


  Of course, she will never speak a word of what I tell her to anybody else.
If she can’t do that, I’ll have no choice but to treat even her as an enemy.


  While thinking about such things, I explained everything to Ciel like so and so.


  She nodded as she listened with a serious expression on her face.


  Then, after my explanation was over, she let out a sigh and opened her mouth,


  「So that’s what that was.
Thanks for telling me」


  「……That’s it?」


  「That’s it…?」


  「Ah, I was just talking to myself, but don’t you think a guy who eats other people’s souls is dangerous? I thought you would be like…more scared or frightened」


  「……Kya, kyaaa?」


  「Wow, it’s the first time I heard something like a scream that sounds like a question」


  As I watched Ciel sit there holding her head in an exaggerated manner, I did not know how to react and a troubled expression formed on my face.


  Well, actually, her being able to joke around still after I explained everything to her is not a bad result to me.


  Then, Ciel stood up while she giggled.


  「I did my best to be scared」


  「I wasn’t telling you to be scared…but hey, I’m impressed that the girl who was scared stiff from ears to tail when we first met can joke around with me now」


  「That’s because I didn’t know what kind of person bought me at that time.
Also, you were stroking my ears and tail without letting me sleep for so many days afterward…」


  “That’s why it took some time for me to stop being nervous”, Ciel complained.


  I averted my eyes as she stared at me with a somewhat resentful expression.


  She looked at me and giggled happily again.


  Then, that laugh disappeared and unexpected words came from the young beastkin girl’s mouth.


  「――Um, y-you intend to eat me as well, right?」




  When I tilted my head at an angle like “what are you talking about?”, she also tilted her head at the same angle.


  「Aren’t you training me and raising my level because you want to eat me?」


  After I heard that, I came to a realization.


  She was taught how to fight by Lunamaria and she was given power from sleeping with me.


  That’s why she is asking me if those things were all preparation for me to eventually eat her soul.


  There’s clearly a misunderstanding here.
To begin with, we only found out recently that my “essence” has an influence on others.
The reason I slept with her was simply because of lust.


  However, from her point of view, it probably feels like my series of actions were done with “that goal” in mind.


  Since I understood that point, I was about to clear things up once more, but――


  「U-um, I’m okay whenever!」


  The beastkin girl drew closer to me with both of her fists clenched.


  I instinctively moved my head back.


  「W-what do you mean you’re okay?」


  「You can do the same thing to me that you do to Lunamaria! I am ready for it!」


  The closest distance.
Serious eyes.
Looking up at me imploringly.


  Is it because she’s nervous? Or is it because she’s determined? Her ocelot ears were standing up tensely.


  I waved my hands left and right in a hurry as I backed away just a little.


  「N-nonono, it’s okay, you don’t have to worry about it.
I’m not going to forcibly eat your soul」


  「It’s not forcibly.
I’m offering to do it because I want to be of use to you, master」




  I did not know how to reply to Ciel’s sincere words.  


  If I was to be honest, I do have the desire to eat her(her soul).
I have no doubt that she’ll be tasty.


  It wasn’t just once or twice where I felt tempted when we’re spending the night together, or when I’m looking at her soundly asleep from up close after we finish doing things.


  However, it doesn’t matter if the other party is someone I’ll sleep with or kill, I had decided that I will only eat the souls of people who are hostile or have malicious intentions towards me.


  I cannot eat Ciel’s soul when she doesn’t have a conflict there.


  …It’s just that on the other hand, there is a voice inside me saying “Isn’t it alright if the person is okay with it herself?”.


  The source of that voice came from the battle against Jijinbou.


  When I cut that old man down, I of course ate his soul too.
As a result, my level rose to 『9』.


  When I first came to the capital, I was level 『8』.
Then my level dropped to 『7』when I gave Lunamaria some of my soul, and then it dropped furthermore to 『5』in one go after I gave Claudia some of my soul.


  That’s a huge level up going from there.
Going up 4 levels at once from Jijinbou alone is the greatest increase I’ve had since the incident at the King of Flies’ nest.


  Since I had even broken through the wall to level 9 that I couldn’t break before at the same time, the illusion of a “talent limit” that continued to haunt me when I was level 1 disappeared with that as well.


  I could say that all’s well that ends well so far.


  However, what happened this time made me realize once again that there is a problem.


  And that problem is that it’s hard for me to raise my level.


  I’ve already said this many times, but I became level 8 when I defeated the gryphon.
After that, I defeated things like a banshee, a scylla, a werewolf, a basilisk, and I continued to eat Lunamaria’s soul as well, but my level still did not go up.  


  This time, I ate the soul of Jijinbou who is level 『73』and broke that wall, but of course, I can expect that the wall of level 10 for me will be even thicker than the wall of level 9.


  If I keep on going at this rate, I will never become strong.


  There’s no guarantee that I’ll be able to handle the people they’ll send from the demon island in Jijinbou’s place.
I don’t have the luxury to take things easy.


  In the first place, Jijinbou was by no means an easy opponent.


  He was just a good opponent for me since both him and his soul equipment being “magic arts users”.
I would definitely have a much harder time against opponents that have characteristics different from Jijinbou.


  That means it’s imperative that I level up.


  Therefore, I could jump at the offer that Ciel is making.

  I made the condition for who I’m going to eat souls from so that I wouldn’t become a monster who attacks random people by force.
To be more precise, it’s so that I don’t repeat the offense I once made in that brothel.


  If I let the person know about what could happen if I eat their soul and they still tell me “it’s okay”, there’s no need for me to follow the condition I originally made.


  After I brooded over it for a while, I decided to double-check with Ciel.


  「There’s no guarantee that there will be no negative effects after I take some of your soul, you know?」


  I do think that the souls I feast on will recover after some time, but the possibility of Miroslav or Lunamaria suddenly dying one day or going insane or turning into a disabled person is not zero either.


  It’s also possible that the person’s personality could change after repeatedly having their soul eaten by me.
There’s the example of Miroslav becoming obedient to me to the point that it’s weird when she hated my guts before. 


  It’s like that with Lunamaria as well, even though the degree of change is different.


  I let Ciel know about all of those things too, but the look in this young beastkin girl’s eyes did not change as she continued to look at me.


  Seeing her go this far, even I was starting to feel a bit happy about her resolve.


  “Then I will take you up on it without hesitation”――those words almost came out of my mouth, but when I looked at the slave collar around her neck, I held my hotblooded feelings back down.


  Ciel is a slave, so I hold the rights over her life.
Naturally, that should have had a strong influence on her course of action this time.


  In other words, that means she did not make that choice of her own free will.
She could be feeling pressured because Lunamaria who is a slave as well is doing that for me.


  I can’t take advantage of such feelings.
It’s true that it wouldn’t be “forced”, but it would be just as bad.


  That being said, it’s also true that Ciel’s soul is attractive.


  That’s why I decided that I will go through the proper procedures.


  「Alright, if that’s the case, I will release you from slavery」


  「Eh? But, that’s…」


  When Ciel was hesitating to say something, I interrupted her,


  「If you still feel the same way after, I’ll gladly take you up on your offer」


  Let’s hold off on this talk until we’re back in Ishka――After I said that, Ciel made a rare, dissatisfied expression.


  She might have felt like her own determination had just been thrown away.


  Well, since the request she made with resolve was put aside, it’s inevitable that she would be unhappy.


  I’m sorry about that but eating her now will hurt the little conscience I have left so please give me a break.


  But I gotta say, I never thought that Ciel would say something like that.
Suzume is not going to say something like that as well, right?――As I wondered about that, I struggled to patch things up with Ciel who is in a bad mood.


  She’s normally a calm girl.
Well, it’s exactly because she’s normally a calm girl, it really feels like a big deal when she’s upset.


  Luckily, her bad mood did not continue for too long.
On the next day, Ciel returned to her normal self by the time we departed from the royal capital, so there was a secret sigh of relief from me.


  Also, we’re not traveling together with Claudia on our trip back this time.


  She wanted to travel together with us, but as expected, since the attack just happened and she was only released from her year-long curse not too long ago, the duke did not let her move right away.


  Claudia will come to Ishka after she waits a while until her physical condition is back to a certain extent.


  And so, we left the capital that still had traces of the attack remaining all over the place and headed back to Ishka.


  Truth to be told, I had expected some contact or interference from the crown prince who is obsessed with Clau Soras or Marquis Kolkia who has close ties to the empire, but it seems that none of that happened because of the incident with Jijinbou this time so our way back was very smooth sailing.


  The sigh of relief I instinctively let out when I saw the ramparts of Ishka that quickly became familiar to me was an indication of how on guard I was. 


  I’m glad we came home safely ――So I thought, but it was just a bit too early for me to feel relieved.


  I mean, there was a young man sitting in front of my home with a really worn out expression on his face.


  The moment I saw that young man’s face, I instinctively frowned and called out his name.



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