The village ahead is so small that it virtually isn’t visible on the map. There are only about a dozen families residing there. It was a most ordinary village, where they focus on agriculture for three seasons and handiwork in the winter. This village can be considered our rest station. There wasn’t even a hotel there. We just set up tents at the plaza in the centre of the village for the night.
When we arrive, the villagers would hang around us and drink with us – although the drinks were drinks that we brought. They’d chat with us and listen to all of the stories of the world outside of their village. They would listen in keenly even if it was just the soldiers bragging. This village was far away from every other place. Maybe the villagers here were bound to live here for eternity. The only way for them to hear about the outside world was, therefore, through the stories that we shared even if they happened to be fake stories.
This place was no different to any other small village. The outside of the village and the villagers were in no way different. Nothing from the air to the water was different.
I suddenly tugged on my horse reins. Ling Yue’s ears stood up. She leaned onto my body, feeling slightly afraid and remarked, “I smell blood…”
“Yeah, I smell it, too.”
I pulled my gun out from behind as I responded in a quiet voice. All of my guards had noticed the irritating stench of blood, as well. They drew their blades and lit their fire torches up. We had arrived at the entrance of the village, which is the place we last left.
In addition to the stench of blood, there was the smell of burnt things. We couldn’t see the smoke ascending to the sky, since it was night time. The sparks inside the village weren’t candles of homes inside the village, but the sparks after wood was burnt!
“Hurry into the village!”
I gave a simple command. Tanya, who was next to me, charged forward. Philes and Shusia ordered their people to circle around and surround the village.
We don’t know how many enemies are in the village. If we just rush in all together, we might get caught in an ambush. That’s why my guards will always split into three teams when entering villages. One team enters while the other two teams circle around to the sides.
We quickly rode into the village and saw the burnt buildings. All of the buildings in the small village had been burnt.
‘Judging from the appearance of the village, it must’ve been burnt ages ago, thereby leaving only sporadic sparks behind.’
The closer we got to the centre, the more prominent the stench of blood became. We stopped in the centre of the village plaza. We raised our fire torches up, and I immediately used my hand to cover Ling Yue’s eyes as soon as I saw the scene.
“Hey! Hey! Hey! What are you doing?! What are you doing?!”
“I think it’s best that you don’t look…”
I took in a deep breath to supress my anger and rage that I wanted to belt out. I looked at the pillar erected in the plaza and almost crushed my gun handle with my left hand.
Ling Yue aggressively pulled my hand away. She was intending to thunder at me, but the scene before her made her cry out, “Aaahh!”
She then retreated, smashing straight into my chin.
“I told you that it was best that you didn’t look.”
‘This is no pillar.’
‘This is pillar made from human limbs and heads.’
‘There isn’t a single corpse that’s intact.’
The blood came from here.
The fire had gone out, while the blood continued to seep out from here.
I looked at the pillar in front of me. They all wore terrified expressions. Not one of them had their eyes closed.
The anthropoids don’t use sharp weapons. They use blunt weapons. All of their dismembered limbs were badly damaged.
‘Just how much torment and pain did these people suffer before they died?’
I shut my eyes. I could seemingly still hear the cries and sobs in this village at the time. I could see the dark silhouettes running rampant inside the village, dragging the people here and then smashing them into all sorts of deformed shapes with their stone axes as they accompanied their bashes with their laughter.
My guards fell silent. I didn’t say anything, either. I just looked on silently. Only Ling Yue’s sobs coming from in front of me could be heard.
Karana broke the silence. She grabbed my arm tightly. She looked at my face with concern and asked, “Are you all right…? You… You…”
“Ah, I’m fine.”
I took in a deep breath.
‘I don’t know why I’m calming down now.’
I tugged on my horse reins and commanded, “Dig a grave, bury these villagers’ corpses and erect a tombstone for them. Make it quick. If this village was attacked, then Troy City is probably in danger, too.”
After a moment of silence, my guards began to carry out my order, cleaning up the corpses and digging a hole. I watched my guards work in silence.
‘How strange. I’m not even shedding a tear.’
Ling Yue, who was leaning on my chest, wiped her tears and sobbed, “Sorry…”
I gave her a simple response, “It’s not your fault.”
“No… We’re anthropoids, too… I’m to blame, as well…”
“Your tribe did everything that they could. This isn’t your fault.”