ーー It happened while we were on the way to the town,
We were nearly at the town and walking on the main road when I noticed something clattering in front of us
「That’s…… ah, just a merchant carriage. How unusual, it’s pretty dangerous around here」
「is that so?」
「Yea. The forest we were in is apparently fairly dangerous. According to rumors…… just being inside the forest is dangerous enough that people would usually end up getting maimed, and even if they manage to get out they’ll somehow end up disappearing」
I stiffened up after hearing that sudden revelation
「Well, it doesn’t really concern us though. Our souls are protected through the authority of 【Gluttony】 and 【Lust】 which means we’re safe from psychological disturbances, well, psychological disturbances from external sources at least」
「o-oh, I see……」
I turn my attention back to the carriage…… taking closer look at the carriage, I could see a fat man at the reins.
He was frantically making the horse run as if he was running away from something.
ーー Cattleya quietly hid me behind her back and covered me with a hood so that it would make it harder to see my face from above.
「Shhh. your appearance stands out too much…… be quiet for now 」
Well that’s apparently how it is.
We moved out of the road so we wouldn’t be crossing paths with the carriage…… but for some reason the driver stopped just ahead of us and even got off and approached us.
「Well, well…… two girls travelling together? That seems a little dangerous doesn’t it?」
「There’s no need to worry. Despite how I look I’m actually a magician」
Cattleya’s voice seemed a bit different from usual.
She replied in a cold, piercing voice.
「Rather than worrying about us, aren’t you in a hurry mister merchant?」
「Yes, that’s correct actually…… To tell you the truth, I’ve lost track of some merchandise that I was supposed to be delivering……and now I’m being pressured by the noble that I was supposed to be delivering my shipment to」
「Oh, is that so? Then why are you wasting your time talking to me when you’re in that desperate of a situation? 」
「Well, you seeーー Now, boys!」
I felt the atmosphere shift in an instant.
Men holding weapons shuffled out from the inside of the carriage.
「The two of you will have to be the replacement for my lost merchandise…… Please be at ease, I’m sure you two will sell for a good price with how beautiful you are」
I know that voice.
…… It’s the voice of someone who looks down on other people, someone who scorns other people, someone who wants to exploit other people.
A voice I hate, a voice don’t want to remember anymore.
「Ohhh, It’s been a while since we’ve come across such a beauty huh, boss」
「Right? Hehehe, the client only wants beautiful and young women…… they don’t have any other requirements other than that. You get what that means right? 」
「Yea…… It means it’s fine if we do them!」
The man leading the group moved closer without even drawing the sword on his hip.
Cattleya created a ball of fire on her right hand and unleashed it towards the man that was getting closer.
However the man dodged to the side and closed the distance in an instant, he reached out to restrain Cattleyaーー
And just like that she was caught and it was over…… is what I thought would happen, but as soon as the his hand reached Cattleya his eyes went blank and he fell down to the ground.
「W-was that poison!?」
「Oh please. Don’t lump me in together with something so crass 」
Cattleya pretended to brush off dust in the spot where the man had touched her. Feeling insulted, the merchant ordered the rest of the men to attack.
This time Cattleya didn’t even use magic, she merely gently waved her hand…… for a split-second I could see some pink colored particles appearing.
All the men that were charging fainted and fell down on the spot, the only person left standing was the merchant.
「W-wha…… what sorcery is thisーー!?」
「How noisy, pigs like you irritate me the most…… If you don’t want your soul to get messed up then tell me the name of the noble that is backing you. Slave trading is banned, you shouldn’t be able to kidnap people in the open like this should you?」
「W-why the hell would I tell you aーー GAAHHH！！」
Cattleya glared at the merchant and he started writhing in agony while trying to claw at something around his chest.
「See? That’s what it feels like to have your soul toyed with. Now hurry up and answer my question」
「I-I don’t know…… The shipment goes through several merchants, all I know is that the client is a noble!!」
「ーーis that so. But how do I know that you aren’t lying?」
「Iris-chan, put your hood down…… let’s see, if it’s just one person then you can go ahead and “eat” them」
「……? yea, okay」
Cattleya was the one who hid my face and now she’s telling me to show myself…… well whatever, it doesn’t really matter.
「Whーー Snake Goddess! ?」
「Please don’t mix up my cute and adorable Iris-chan with someone like that 」
Cattleya tormented the merchant’s soul again after he said something weird.
Serves him right.
「Can I really eat this?」
「Yes, it’s fine. Sorry but the rest are going to be my food」
「……oh, so Cattleya eats people too」
How unexpected……or maybe not?
Leaving it at that, I took the arm of one of the men that had fainted in my hand and started consuming his entire body.
But for some reason there wasn’t as much flavor.
I couldn’t taste it as much as I usually did.
I titled my head in confusion and Cattleya answered the question that was going through my head.
「In my case, when I consume something I only absorb the soul. I made everyone faint by using 『Grasp』 on their souls just now. Maybe part of their soul broke off when I attacked them so that’s why they don’t have as much flavor? I wouldn’t really know though, I don’t know what a soul tastes like」
「……I can’t really tell how but the flavor is also somehow not as refined as Cattleya’s」
「Oh my, so the quality is bad too is it…… That leaves a bad taste in more ways than one. We can’t really share the souls between us either」
It seems like if Cattleya absorbs the soul from something then I can’t consume it.
I could still consume the man just now because Cattleya only used 『Grasp』 on him but the flavor was awful.
……but if I really really think about it, when Cattleya absorbs a soul it increases the number of her lives…… then doesn’t that mean that I’d also be able to eat a lot of the delicious food called “Cattleya” if she absorbs souls?
「okay. I’ll let Cattleya have any people we get from now on」
「Why thank you」
「That would be nice wouldn’t it, being a monster. That way I’d be able to kill as many humans as I want. So, do you feel like talking now?」
「I-I don’t know anything, I’m telling you the truth……」
「Is that so…… that’s too bad then」
After saying that pink particles appeared and surrounded the merchant’s face, his eyes widened in fear, and then he fell over frothing at the mouth.
「Phew…… Now then, time to absorb all the others!」
「should I gather them up?」
The sun hadn’t even fully risen yet.
We still had a lot of time.
By the way, Iris also tried to eat the merchant but when she did she felt like she wanted to throw up, it wasn’t as bad as that time with the 『 Phantom 』 though