A new chapter of Samurai NOT
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Samurai NOT 34
“That kid over there… with the dead eyes…”
“Is that the demon child Ashura…?”
“Yeah, that’s him…”
“Can’t believe someone so young killed all those people…”
“It was for vengeance. They killed everyone from his group. And you know they deserved it. How many times they kicked us out from the battlefield we got to it first?”
“Even if they deserved, burning all those people inside a building was too much… It doesn’t sound like something a human could do, let alone a child so young…”
“That’s why they say he’s the demon child. He sold his soul and became Ashura… Now he wonders the battlefields, looking for his next victims…”
“May Lord Buddha protect us…”
“They say you can still smell the burned corpses if you get too close from that place. The smell is so strong you can’t breathe.”
“I heard you can still hear those people screaming.”
“May the heavens pity their souls…”
“Hey, the demon child is coming this way!”
“Don’t look in his eyes! I heard if you meet his gaze, he’ll kill you later in the same night.”
“That’s creepy. Let’s wait until he’s gone… I don’t want anything to do with that demon child.”
The whispers followed him.
It didn’t matter where he went, whispers like that followed him, along with the stares of hate and fear. Actually, those were of the nicest thing someone said about me these days, thought the boy.
He didn’t mind though. In fact, he preferred that way. At least it was only words and looks. Nobody had bothered him so far. They were too afraid.
Thanks to those rumors, he could scavenge in peace. Since burning the violent group, the scavengers would stay a good distance from him, afraid to catch his wrath and suffer the same fate. They left him to take his pick at what and where to scavenge.
Today had been like that. After getting a complete armor, the boy put everything in the straw back bag he had made and left for the closest blacksmith. They would buy anything as long as it was good. The villages, however, stopped trading with him, whether be clothes or leather or tools. None of them wanted to have anything to do with the demon child Ashura.
The boy had no intention of trading the clothes, however. Those served to keep him warm at night. Ever since that day, though he still used fire to cook, he was apprehensive to sleep next to it. Especially after meeting one of the survivors the other day.
He was afraid, but he’ll come for me soon… Those eyes were of someone looking for, the boy knew. Those eyes were… Did I have those eyes that day…?
The night of the fire, the boy didn’t sleep. He stayed there, hidden between the trees, watching as the flames consumed everything. Once the screams had ceased, there was only the sound of the wood burning. Even from a safe distance, he could still feel the heat. Even from a safe distance, he could still smell burned flesh.
Even when the fire had consumed all and died, he stayed there. It was a cold night and the ground close to the shed remained warm for a long time.
The boy only left the destroyed village when the sun came up.
Usually the birds chirped, but that day, there was no sound. The place was completely still, dead.
Due to the smell of burned flesh, he had no hunger.
However, the boy was thirsty. Only then he realized his throat was so dry it hurt whenever he breathed. He walked to the closest creek to stop the pain. And then he saw his reflection.
It was as if a strange was looking back at him.
The surface of the water showed a ghost. A terrifying and a horrifying ghost.
He was covered with blood and soot, giving him the appearance of a gray and red walking corpse. But what drew the attention were his own eyes. The boy himself didn’t recognize his eyes. They were cold, empty, dead.
It took a while for the boy to take his eyes from himself and drink and clean himself.
Ever since then, he had yet to look at his reflection, afraid what would stare him back. Maybe a demon will be in the back of my eyes…
To his surprise, the idea didn’t scare him. In fact, it meant nothing. It didn’t matter to him if he really had become a demon child. There was no one in the world who would care. The boss was dead. All the others too. He would never hear the boss’ stories again. He would never hear the old lady complaining about the ingredients everyone brought her, but still smiled when they said the food was good. And he would never hear Mosuke calling him ever again.
The moment he killed Togake, that life was had died with the older boy, along with the name Tō.
There was no one more in the world who would call him that. The only thing that remained from those days were his memories and the second scar above the one already on his belly.
Now there was only the demon child Ashura.
After selling the armor, he headed back to his lonely camp with his head up, carrying the bag of food he had bought inside his straw back bag.
“You damn demon brat! Where do ya think you’re going?” a voice shouted behind him. “Do you remember me?”
The boy already knew who it was even before he turned. However, the survivor from the violent group was not alone. Before he could react, two more people showed up.
As he looked at each one, his hand slid down to the handle of the sword on his waist.
“Do ya really think ya can just walk away after killing so many people?” The survivor’s bloodlust was such he didn’t even notice. “You’re a monster! You deserve to die and the world will be a better place without you! Yes! They’ll thank us for getting rid of you!”
The boy ignored the man’s shouts. Those words were empty. It couldn’t hurt him. The weapons they carried, however, could. The survivor carried a weapon. He was the only one though. The others had shoddy wood weapons; an ax to cut firewood and a spear.
Before the men could attack, he took the bag from his back and placed it on the floor.
Though he moved slowly, everyone was wary, paying attention to the boy’s every move, ready to react. Despite the fact that they were adults, they were scared.
And the boy was going to take advantage of that.
For that, he couldn’t wait for them to make the first move.
The instant his shoulders were free from the extra weight, he charged, drawing his sword when he was close enough.
Despite their caution, they were too slow to react.
They’re drunk, he realized.
The survivor swung his sword at him. But it was too slow. It was a slash made out of reflex, out of fear.
He was the first to be cut. Though it was shallow, it was enough to scare him. And the boy had learned personally that fear could dull, or even paralyzed, the person.
When the man dropped the sword, it wasn’t hard to drive the tip of the blade on his throat.
The boy didn’t watch as the survivor coughed in his own blood and the light left his eyes. He was more concerned with the others.
It was for naught. They were too shocked to move, and once they recovered their senses, they ran, leaving their weapons.
Even adults can feel fear… It was a lesson the boy would take for the rest of his life.
As he cleaned the blood of the sword with the rags of the survivor’s clothes, he sensed someone close.
“So you’re the demon child, huh?” a new voice spoke
At once the boy turned, pointing the bloody sword to the newcomer. With his heart sinking, he knew he had no chance of fighting. It wasn’t only one man, and they rode horses. He knew scaring them wouldn’t be enough.
Though their clothes were ripped and patched here and there, they didn’t look like scavengers.
Bandits, the boy realized. He lowered his sword, making sure the tip wasn’t pointing at neither of the three riders. As he looked at each one, he forced his mind to think of a way out of the fight.
There was none. He couldn’t scare them, nor could outrun the horses, even if he left his food and dashed to the woods.
When he realized that, he clutched the handle of the sword harder.
“Are you sure, chief?” asked the bald one, looking between the rider in the middle and the boy. “He killed a lot of people in that fire. Even if it was revenge, it’s not normal. Maybe he really is the demon child Ashura.”
“I think so too. Not only it’s a bad idea, it’s gonna attract too much attention. Unwanted attention,” said the one on the left.
“Yeah, yeah. I already know what you two think. You’ve been bugging me ever since I talked about this,” the one they called chief muttered.
The boy only watched, his hand numb from clutching his sword with all his strength.
The chief got down from the horse and walked slowly to the boy, raising his hands to show he was unarmed. At the same time, however, he made sure the boy could see the sword on his waist. When he was close enough, he crouched to take a better look at the cadaver.
At first, his face was empty. Then he flashed a smile.
“When I set to find you, I wasn’t sure if a brat like you could’ve killed all those people… But after this, I don’t even need to ask. You are the demon child Ashura.”
The name meant nothing to the boy. Even so, he didn’t like when the bandit used to his face.
“That’s not my name,” he said in a low and menacing tone, staring the man in the eye.
The chief had a hard expression. Then he let out a hearty laugh. “Then what’s your name, boy?”
The boy opened his mouth, but then closed it. He had no name. Not anymore. Tō was dead and he didn’t remember if he had one before that.
“I don’t have a name.”
“Then from now on, you’re Shōma. It means little devil and fits you.” The chief showed a bright smile. “I want you to join us, Shōma. We’re not some trash scavengers group. If you come with us, you’ll have a good life.”
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