13. Cattleya’s True Capability

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」
「…………eh?」

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.

「Too easy!」

However the man dodged to the side and closed the distance in an instant, he reached out to restrain Cattleyaーー

「Heh」

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.

「Whaー!?」
「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?」
「Eek」
「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」

「ーーM-monsters……!」

「”Monster”?」
「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


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12. The Path to Town

I woke up because of a strange suffocating feeling

「mugugu……」

I was being firmly hugged from behind….. and I couldn’t break free no matter how much I struggled
I could feel what was most likely Cattleya’s breasts touching my face, so I tried tapping behind me to wake her up, but she was still soundly sleeping

「……Nn~―」

I thought that she was finally responding to my tapping but she hugged me even more tightly instead……
I couldn’t take it any longer so I used all my strength to break free from her arms
She woke up after I forcefully broke free and she got up while rubbing her eyes

「good morning, Cattleya」
「……GoodmorningIris-chan」

She probably still wasn’t quite awake yet, she responded to me with a sluggish voice
She created water with magic and tried to drink it but she ended up spilling water all over her clothes instead
Even though she was drenched she was still drowsily drifting in and out of sleep

「geezー……」

I tried shaking her to wake her up but…… she was still half-asleep, how troubling

After shaking her for some time she finally came to her senses

「It’s a wonderful morning, isn’t it?」
「……yes」
「A delicious meal would really go well with a wonderful morning like this one, wouldn’t it?」
「……yes」
「ーーThen, why did you eat my dried meat?」

Cattleya made me sit in seiza in front of her, I was looking down while reflecting on what I did.
The reason why she was scolding me was simple…… I ate her food without asking for her permission
I haven’t had any proper meals yet…… and I got really curious about the dried meat’s flavor
I ended up gulping her food down

「Well, even if I don’t eat I’ll still live…… but what I’m really angry about isーー」
「……」
「if you were really that hungry then why didn’t you just eat me instead!? 」
「eh…?」
「Don’t ” eh…? ” me! Besides, there’s plenty of food that’s better than this in the town! You should’ve put up with eating me until then!」

After telling me that she gave me her hand and helped me stand up
The scolding was finally over

「Then, let’s hurry and get to the town by today so I can feed you lots of good things!」
「yea」

By the way dried meat didn’t particularly good or bad…… it was a weird flavor


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11. Warmth

We continued moving through the plains, the day passed by fairly quickly.
Unlike when we were moving through the forest we didn’t have to worry about getting ambushed by anything. The scenery was nice too and it helped pass the time.
Right now Cattleya was away looking for wood for a campfire.

「…………」

I had nothing in particular that I had to do so I was just left behind to watch over Cattleya’s luggage.
I wasn’t hungry at all today…… I couldn’t even feel myself getting any hungrier.
It seems like I really can store up food if I eat something by touching it directly.
I ate Cattleya two or three times so I can probably keep going for around one more day before it bottoms out.

「I’m back~, have you been a good girl?」
「welcome back」

Cattleya showed up, carrying firewood in her arms.
She piled up the wood and lit a small fire from the tip of her finger which she used to start the campfire.
I’ve seen her start fires like this several times since we’ve encountered the 『Shadow』 , but magic really is mysterious.

「……Now then, it should be okay with this」

After getting the fire going, Cattleya said that we’d be spending the night here and sat down on the ground.
Unlike when we were in the forest, the moon was clearly visible.

I looked up to the night sky and the moon and it was as if I was being drawn to them.
The night sky was much wider and more beautiful than I had imagined.
It felt like I would become sucked in and become part of it if I kept gazing at it like I did.
The night sky was dark, and bright, and it seemed like it could take in anything.

As I kept gazing at the sky, Cattleya peeked at me from above.

「Fufufu. Iris-chan is star-gazing…… how nice 」
「what do you mean?」
「Nothing? I just meant to say that Iris-chan is cute」

Cattleya lifted me up and put me on top of her lap.
She held me from behind. Her arms were wrapped around me and I could feel the warmth of her body…… I guess I didn’t dislike this.

Cattleya’s warmth, her softness.
I grew to dislike it less, just from feeling it.

I couldn’t help but feel like the way I regarded Cattleya has changed since our encounter with the 『Shadow』
I couldn’t really understand what I was feeling, she was a convenient existence, a living source of food who would also frantically protect meーーsomething like that.
That’s why I was able to entrust myself to her so easily.
I’m not sure what the true nature of this feeling is.
I’ve always wanted it.
I’ve always wanted this.

ーーbut I was scared.
The thought of losing this after knowing what it felt like made me feel weak.
That’s whyーー

「……nn」

That’s why I’ll hold onto it so that I won’t ever lose it.

.I stopped looking at the night sky, I leaned back on Cattleya and looked at the fire.
Tonight, I will sleep next to Cattleya again.


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10. Other People

The sun was setting, Cattleya and I were staring at each other over a campfire.

「…………」
「…………」

We were staring at each other, or rather it would be more accurate to say that Cattleya was smiling and staring at me while trying to cozy up to me.
Still wearing the tattered rags that had dried and were now sticking to my skin, I tried to distance myself from her.
I didn’t have the slightest idea why Cattleya was holding that……she had a black frilly dress and was doing her best to corner me.

「Come now, Iris-chan. Give it up, you need to get dressed」
「……I don’t need to, I’m fine with what I have on now」
「No, that’s no good. You’re a girl so you need to be cut-………well you’re already cute, but you have to be even cuter!」

In the depths of the night, Cattleya’s loud voice resounded through the forest.
I didn’t really understand what she said about being cute, but if there were spare clothes then it would certainly be better to wear those instead of the tattered rags I was wearing.
But the clothes Cattelya had, how do I say it…… seemed extremely hard to move in.
I wonder if she didn’t have something more comfortable, or easier to change into.
Something like the shirt that I used to always wear would be ideal……
This body was sturdy and could resist even the cold of night.
That’s why I didn’t need clothes that could keep me warm, we could get attacked at any time so I’d rather not wear clothes that would make it difficult to moveーー is what I’ve been telling to Cattleya, but she wouldn’t listen to me at all.

That said, Cattleya’s eyes have gone bloodshot and it was a little scary.

「Listen up, that lewd appeaーー*cough*, the tattered clothes you’re wearing right now are dangerous in a bunch of different ways you know? It can’t even really be called clothing」
「……? if you can wear it then doesn’t that mean that it’s clothes?」

I was used to tattered clothing anyway, so the rags I was wearing right now was good enough because it was easy to move in and covered enough of my body.
That’s right. I’ll be taking my clothes off anyway so why do I have to go out of my way to wear clothes that looked like it’d be uncomfortable to wear……For a while now, I couldn’t understand Cattleya’s reasoning for it.
Even with her clothes, the skirt she was wearing looked like it was obstructing her legs, so why was she even wearing that?

「In any case, don’t you think that these clothes would look a lot better on you than the one you have on right now?」
「no. it looks hard to move in」
「……Then. How about this one?」

Saying that, Cattleya took out a different dress.
The new dress she took out was a white one piece dress, it didn’t look as restricting as the dress from earlier. It looked like it wouldn’t be that much different from what I was wearing now.

「if it’s that one then, I guess it’s okay……」
「Good. Firstly, hand over the clothes…… or rather rags you’re wearing. I’ll be in charge of getting rid of it.」
「okay」

I received the white dress from Cattleya, and I handed over the rags I was wearing in exchange.
Unsurprisingly, I was pretty uncomfortable being naked so I quickly changed into the white dress.
It was easy to change into, I just had to put it over my head and stick my arm through the sleeves.
I had no problems with moving, and I instantly took a liking to it.

「Well……I think it looks good on you so I’ll call that a success. White clothes on white hair, it’s all white but that’s good in itself too」

While mumbling about something, Cattleya put the tattered rags that I handed over to her into her pack.

I felt refreshed after putting on new clothes, and I started to get sleepy. I moved closer to Cattleya and fell asleep.

***

――moving from early in the morning, we finally managed to get out of the forest

「Nnnー! We can finally see wide open land 」

Cattleya reached her hands up to the sky and stretched her body.
It had also been a while since I’ve been exposed to sunlight that strong, when I looked up at the sky I couldn’t help but squint from how bright it was.
After getting out of the forest, a large field that spread all the way to the horizon appeared before us.

「Well then, after two more days then we’ll probably get to a town」
「……is that so」

A town.
A place where a lot of people gathered.
……I have never been to a place with that many people, so I imagined how it would be like.
People chaotically walking around .like on TV……I wondered if it would be anything like that.

「By the way, Iris-chan」
「what is it?」
「……Why are you shaking?」
「……eh?」

After she called it out I realized I was shaking. Cattleya hugged me.
I wonder why, I thought about it and……ah, it was so simple.

I was just scared of other people(humans).
I was fine with Cattleya but……I couldn’t trust others. I was scared.

「It’s fine. No matter what happens, I’ll be here」
「……yea」

But that was a story for later.
So I stopped thinking about it……and kept moving forward.


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9. Growth

……when I woke up, I could see Cattleya’s large breasts obscuring the sky.

「……ei」
「Hey, what are you doing? Iris-chan!」
「nothing……」

I grabbed the breasts that were on top of me.
I secretly felt a sense of defeat from the heaviness that I felt in my arms.
Well, I don’t really mind because I still have a way to go from now…… It was soft, and it looked delicious, I wanted to take a bite.
I started getting hungry.

「…………」
「Ara? Are you hungry?」
「……yes」

There wasn’t any reason to be embarrassed and I didn’t really think much of it…… but it was a bit troubling when she moved her face closer to mine with sparkling eyes.
Well, I’m hungry so I won’t hold baーー

「? What’ is it? Aren’t you going to go eat me?」

I didn’t really have any strong feelings towards eating Cattleya.
At most I probably felt some gratitude, I think?
I threw away any hesitation and began to eat Cattleya with 【Gluttony】

I was about to release the black particles again…… but somehow I felt like I didn’t need to do that and that all I needed to do to eat her was to touch her.
In the same way when I first realized that I had 【Gluttony】, the intuitively knew how to do so.

「……」

Following that intuition, I held Cattleya’s hands and consumed her.
Her arm vanished from the elbow down, as if having been bitten off, and blood started spewing out.
I was lying down on her lap and got splattered with a lot of blood…… the taste of the blood that got in my mouth was unexpectedly delicious, and I started licking the blood around my mouth.

「Jeez……I finally managed to get cleaned up and now I’m all wet with blood again」
「sorry……but, it was pretty tasty, you know」
「Oh. Then it’s fine then.」

Cattleya brushed off the fact that she got dirty again with a smile.
But I couldn’t stop thinking about I could now eat from touching something with my hands after all this time.
I could consume a lot more food at once using the black particles, and there wouldn’t be any problems even if the target was something far away.
So why did I gain the ability to consume something by touch now?

While thinking about those things, I felt myself becoming full and I could feel my body regain its energy.

「hup」

When I tried to get up Cattleya pushed me down by my forehead and put my head back down on her lap.
I looked up into Cattleya’s eyes, wondering if anything was wrong.

「You still haven’t had enough. You have to eat more.」
「eh……but I’m already full……hm?」
「ーーOh. looks like you can eat more after all.」

I was in the middle of denying Cattleya who scarily insisted that I could keep on eating……but when I touched her hand that was pushing me down, I consumed her arm.
How strange. I felt full and I shouldn’t be able to use the black particles because of that. I thought that that meant that I couldn’t use the power of 【Gluttony】
But I just broke through that limit and ate Cattleya’s arm.

Could it be that I could use my power while I was still full…… is what I thought, but when I tried my best to release the black particles there wasn’t a hint of anything coming out.

「……?」

But when I touched Cattleya I could definitely eat her.
I tried using it again order to make sure……

「ah」

I unintentionally went overboard and ate her entire body.
Not a single piece of flesh was left, all there was was a bloody puddle on the ground.
……I was full but I still managed to eat her with my power.

「Hey, you never said anything about going that hard all of a sudden. That really startled me you know」
「umm……can I do it one more time then?」
「Well, okay」

If doing it all of a sudden wasn’t okay the does that mean it should be fine if I just asked first right? When I tried asking for permission to do it again she immediately accepted.
Cattleya’s cheeks flushed and she moved closer to hug me.
I felt my heart throbbing in my chest, and I hugged her back, and then……

「Ahhn……n」

I devoured her completely.

「hmー」

I focused on the state of my stomach.
But all I could tell was that I was full.
I couldn’t tell how much more excess I had eaten.
maybe…… it’s something like “storing food”
I was full so I couldn’t use the black particles, but I can still eat by touching something directly.

「Haa……you really don’t hold back when you eat huh, Iris-chan♡」

The newly revived Cattleya hugged me again, looking very satisfied.
……she wasn’t wearing clothes so I could feel the softness that I had only felt through her clothes directly…… I could feel the warmth of a person.
The clothes that she was originally wearing were now tattered and on top of that, I had gotten them all dirty with my blood. It was no longer in any condition to be worn.

But that didn’t mean that she should be going naked.

「please get dressed first」
「Yes~」

She cheerily took out spare clothes from her pack and changed right in front of me.
Come to think of it, my clothes were also in a terrible condition, it was also bloody and there was a big hole around the chest.
I wonder if I should be doing something about my own appearance before I go around telling people to put on some clothes.
But it was still functioning properly as clothing, so it should still be wearable.

I thought about those things carefreely, not noticing that Cattleya had taken out some small children’s clothes.


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Intermission – Cattleya 1

――Iris was sleeping.
Even though she had a large hole through her chest she still managed to sleep soundly like a baby.
The large hole in her chest that had been my made by one of the Dread Dragons, ーーthe 『 Phantom Claw』, was neatly being healed.

「Hahh……So it was only aiming for 【Gluttony】 huh……」

The 『 Phantom Claw』 left after confirming Iris’ death.
But then, when Cattleya rushed over to Iris’ side, she could see Iris’ blood forming into the shape of a heart, her body had began to repair itself.
At first Cattleya thought that it was the power of 【Gluttony】
But when she used a power of her 【Lust】 , 『Grasp Soul』, she realized that Iris’ soul was no longer in her body.

「How strange」

Even though they were covered in blood, Cattleya gently patted Iris’ head.
The power of【Gluttony】 resides in Iris’ soul.
Which meant that the regeneration wasn’t from her 【Gluttony】

「Well, even if I’m curious it’s not like I can do anything about it」

If Iris can live then Cattleya was fine with that.
She dropped all the thoughts she had till now.
……in order for her to attain her goal, the power of 【Gluttony】 was absolutely necessary.
On top of that, that girl was cute. She really hoped that she’d live.
She hoped so from the of her heart.

For Cattleya, Iris has been an important part of her life from the moment they met, regardless of the amount of time they had actually spent together.
That’s why she risked her life to protect and help her.
This became Cattleya’s reason for living.

Iris was cute……and a feast for her eyes.
Her pale limbs peeking out of her tattered rags and her white hair that was slightly wavy, her red eyes, red as blood as if it was trying to charm her.
Cattleya liked girls, especially cute girls.

「Fufu. and besides, getting eaten is unexpectedly……pleasant, huh? 」

She wouldn’t explain her feelings to Iris…… between being able to see her confused expression and having her feelings be understood, she was definitely leaning towards the former.

Cattleya had transcended 『Death』 , which is probably why she couldn’t feel 『Life』, right now, she had never felt closer to feeling like she was alive.

“To eat is to live”, the one that embodied that was that girl, Iris……

Able to store up lives for as many souls she can manage to bewilder.
And able to burn away her own life in order to raise the power of her magic……【Lust】 was a self-centered power. a power that takes advantage of others and turns them into mere tools, used only to satisfy her own desires.

「Hahh……This stupid world. Why don’t we just destroy everything in it? Yes, if it’s the two us then I’m sure we’d be able to do it, won’t we?」

While sighing, she laid bare the feelings deep inside her heart.
“I can’t tell you about it now……but surely one day. I’ll take good care of you to make you help me. I’ll feed you and I’ll nurture you”
“So until then, please don’t die……”

Cattleya gently patted Iris’ head.


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8. Dependence

「The abominable power of 【Gluttony】…… but that won’t work on me」

【Gluttony】 had definitely activated, but my hunger was only satisfied for one quick moment
……in the next instant that changed into a sickening sensation, I got down on the spot and started vomiting.
It tasted nasty. I didn’t actually taste anything, I didn’t even put anything in my mouth, but it was nasty.
No matter how many times I threw up, that sickening taste still didn’t go away.

「What’s the matter? Doesn’t that power let you sate your hunger?」
「t-this bーー」
「No! Don’t let it get to you!」

I didn’t like how it was treating me.
I didn’t like how it was looking down on me and treating me like an “unwanted child”
I activated 【Gluttony】 and unleashed the black particles on the 『 Phantom 』 againーー but it wasn’t effective, and this time it wasn’t just that sickening feeling this time.

「~ ~ !? 」

A paralyzing shock ran through my entire body.
I couldn’t stand up, my fingers were shaking, and my vision was flickering in and out.
It’s cold. It’s cold. It’s cold.
I grinded my teeth in frustration and stared at the 『 Phantom 』

「Hmph, nothing but an abominable power…… it has no place in this world. Now, die」
「ーーh」

The 『 Phantom 』 extended a hand towards me, who was still paralyzed.
I could see Cattleya running towards me in slow motion.
……”revolving lantern”, I’ve heard about it somewhere before.
Seeing your entire life flash before you when you’re about to die…… I wonder why I never experienced it when I died in my previous life.

ーーI now understood that my previous lifestyle was the worst.
All throughout, I was made to serve like a slave, I was hit and I suffered through terrifying experiences……

This was supposed to be a new beginning.
This was supposed to be my new beginningーー I don’t want it. I don’t want to die like this.

「ーーIris-chan! !」

Cattleya frantically reached her hand out to me.

Even though I knew that she’d never make it to me in time but I still reached out to her.
……my chest had been pierced by the 『 Phantom 』’s arm.
It was too late……

「gofuu」*coughing*

I spat out a puddle of blood.
The warmth of my own blood greeted me as I fell down.

I was losing more and more blood.
There was a large hole in my chest and my heart was gone.
I knew that I’d never make it.
Unlike in my previous life, it was going to be an ending full of regrets.

……ahhh, I don’t want to die.
I wanted to feel full a lot more.

……………

――I was floating lightly in a white space.
I wonder where this is.
I guess that doesn’t matter.
I died after all.
I wonder what happens when you die.
I didn’t want to die.
But I couldn’t do anything about it.

I was floating away, drifting towards somewhere.
Looking carefully, I could make out something that looked like a large sphere.
We were flowing towards it.
……I could hear someone call out to me.
I could hear someone calling out from behind and in front of me at the same time.
It felt like I needed to go there.

―――”It’s still too early”

I heard a kind and gentle voice.
I heard a voice that I wanted to keep hearing forever.
……but the owner of that voice told me not to come.

I closed my eyes……and then I opened my eyes again.

I could see a beautiful woman embracing the sphere――

***

「ーー Iris-chan! Open your eyes! Iris-chan!」

I could hear someone shouting someone’s name.
I wonder whose name it was.
Ah that’s right, it was mine. It was the name I gave myself.

Slowly, I opened my eyes.

「Ahh, Iris-chan……」
「Catt leya?……」

I could see Cattleya who was crying while holding me.
She didn’t seem to mind being covered with blood, even if it was my blood it still reeked of a metallic odor.

「Yes, it’s me.  So how are you feeling now?」
「……I’m hungry」
「Ufufu, is that so. Then, go ahead and eat me.」

She said so with no hesitation.
However I could still feel the feeling of having bit off something left inside my mouth.
……I could understand what I had done with just that.
Even though she said that I could eat her, for some reason I was hesitating.

「What happened to that 『 Phantom 』?」

That’s why I changed the subject to get away from the topic.

「Err, it went away. to somewhere」
「……is that so」

I felt a little uncomfortable from Cattleya’s reaction…… but even though I just woke up, I was starting to get sleepy again.
I wonder why Cattleya was this caring.
Even though we’ve only just met.

「fahh……」*yawning*

But that didn’t really matter, being by her side felt comfortable.
I fell asleep in a position where it seemed like I was hugging her.

「Good night, Iris-chan」

……I leaned against Cattleya as my consciousness started to fade.

――this time, I wasn’t so lonely.


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7. Sickening

――Cattleya raised her hands.……and created a huge ball of fire which and made it fly in the direction of the 『Phantom』

「I see……」

As it muttered this, the 『Phantom』 moved one of its many hands, and used it to disperse the fireball.
And then it used the hand to reach over and grab Cattleya by the neck, firmly tightening its grip.

「Aghh……」

She was struggling in pain but the 『 Phantom 』’s hand didn’t even budge.
―― I heard the sound of something glass-like shatter again, wind began to stir inside the phantom, it intensified and became a big tornado that could tear apart anything inside it.

But the 『 Phantom 』 simply reached out another hand, and deflected the tornado away.

「Is this all you’re truly capable of……Then, Die」

Her neck snapped.
The light in her eyes faded and she fell down to the ground lifelessly.
……Cattleya was dead.
Without question, she was dead.

「ah, ahh……」

I could feel something in my chest hurting.
It hurt as if it was telling me that I was going to be the one that was next. I was afraid.

「……!」

That’s why, all I need to do is forcibly suppress my fear……and start punching.
What did I really even have to be that afraid for.
After resolving myself I stopped shaking…… and I ran forward with all the speed I could muster in me.

「Yaa-!」

I didn’t know how to throw a proper punch, I just swung my fist as hard as I could.
Fortunately, right now I could move my body as I wanted.
That’s why my attacks would be very effective……or at least it should’ve been.

「I see……how tepid」
「ーーagh」

My fist passed through the 『 Phantom 』 and my arm was locked in place, I was being restrained.
A hand creeped out from it and grabbed my neck.
I couldn’t breathe, my body stiffened.
I tried to remove the hand using my free left hand, but I was steadily losing strength.

「……ah」

I was lifted up to the point where my feet were no longer touching the ground, the strength that I was being choked with jumped up even higher.
I was in pain, and death was steadily approaching.

「……for killing the Fire Dragon. Rue everything, and die」
「ーーNo. The one that’s going to die is you!」
「What! ?」

As soon as I heard the voice, the 『 Phantom ‘』’s hands let go of my neck and it was blown away as if intense winds had struck it.
……Cattleya was standing completely unharmed.
There was no way that Cattleya could’ve died from something that trivial after all.

「We’re running away」
「y-yes」

Cattleya didn’t leave any room for mistakes.
She dragged me by my hands, she pulled with a strength that seemed like it couldn’t have come from her slender arms.
……It hurt, but only by a little.

「running away? where?」
「Wherever is fine. at the very least, that thing shouldn’t show up if we’re around people」

We frantically ran through the forest.
It didn’t seem like that thing was following us at the moment…… I couldn’t help but feel like I was shaking, just by remembering what it looked like.

「……」
「I understand how you feel. That thing is our natural enemy――so it’s understandable that you’d feel like that.」

When I became quiet, she told me those words for some reason.

「ーー!」
「Iris-chan!」

A foreboding sensation came up behind us. We both jumped to the side in opposite directions.
A hand passed through the space between us, and when I looked back the 『 Phantom 』was over there.

「You can’t run」
「Tch! My, you’re persistent!」

Cattleya shouted out, seemingly irritated, wind started to form in front of her as if to blow the 『 Phantom 』 away.
But the 『 Phantom 』used several arms and erased it…… and then it pierced through Cattleya’s chest.

「goho-ーー」*coughing*

But Cattleya didn’t go down…… she kept unleashing her magic, trying to create enough wind to blow the 『 Phantom 』 away.
……I tried thinking of anything I could do to help, but all I could I think of was hitting it.
If I hit it then I might get caught again.
But if I didn’t do anything……

「ーー【Gluttony】……」

If I can’t use my strength, then I could just eat it.
But right now I wasn’t hungry…… but was I really? Even though I ran that much, was this body that had terribly inefficient energy consumption really not hungry?

「――!」

I tried to focus my will.
And when I did, the black particles appeared, even if only a little.
I unleashed them on the 『 Phantom 』
In order to satisfy my hunger, I tried to consume the 『 Phantom 』……

「No! Iris-chan!」
「eh?……! ? oee」*retching*

I was overcome with a sickening sensation that was stronger than anything I’ve ever felt before.


I usually put my ramblings in the comments but I felt like I had to put this in here just this once,
Please consider supporting the author of this series on syosetu, they’re pretty new to writing WNs and could probably use any encouragement they can get.
If you don’t know how to then I have a step-by-step guide on how to do it over here

As of posting this chapter, this series has less than 30 bookmarks on syosetu.
Compared to that, on novelupdates this series is on almost 200 reading lists.

If it isn’t too much of a bother then please do check it out.


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6. Dread

「Now then! I want to reach the town by today, so let’s hurry up and go!」
「……okay」

It was the start of the day and Cattleya was already up, full of energy and shouting. In contrast, I was in bad shape from lack of sleep, and the light of the sun didn’t help me become more lively.
In the end……I spent the entire night unable to sleep.

On top of that, my body felt a bit weak since I was a little hungry.

「Ara?」

After noticing the state I was in, Cattleya drew closer to me…… and exposed her shoulders.
Her black hair hanged down,
And her white skin that contrasted with her dark hair caught my eyes……
I became even hungrier.

The slight hunger I felt became as bad as if I hadn’t eaten anything for an entire day.

「u, ughh……」
「You don’t have to keep holding back. We both consented to this」
「ーーhah」

Cattleya slowly approached me as if to entice me even more.
……for some reason I backed away, and tried as much as I could to hold back my hunger.
Even though I had no reason to hesitate. Even though it was as Cattleya said, and it was for both our interests……Well, I couldn’t really understand her reasoning though, but-

Why am I so hesitant to eat now?
Even though this meant denying my own survival. why.

There was no reason to think so hard about it. The only thing in front of me now was food that I could consume.

「so why……」

I wanted to eat, but I didn’t want to eat.
Even though I still wanted to know why……my 【Gluttony】still activated on its own.
With zero regards for what I wanted, it went off in order to satisfy my hunger.
【Gluttony】 manifested into black particles and assaulted Cattleya…… Even though I desperately tried to stop it, my uncontrollable hunger drove it ,and it engulfed Cattleya.

「Mnmm……this really, feels so strange」
「…………」

As my hunger subsided, Cattleya approached me as if nothing had happened to her.
It was really as she said, there wasn’t even a single scratch on her body.

「Oh myーー It doesn’t go easy does itー Iris-chan’s 【Gluttony】」
「……stop hugging me」

Her large breasts pressed against my face and suffocated me.
It was soft, and for some reason it was also irritating…… I put my own hand to my chest unconsciously and I thought about what could have caused that irritation.

「Ara? fufufu, how cuteー」
「? what do you mean?」
「No, it’s nothing. so have you had your fill?」
「……yes, thanks to you」

I was full of my energy and I was overflowing with strength.
For some reason this body gets hungrier the more I move, but it’s amazing because of the way it gets like this when I’m full.
When it comes to energy efficiency, my previous body was better but, if I had to choose, the body I had now is definitely better.
Or maybe I just didn’t know enough to tell because I didn’t knew how it felt like to be full with my previous body.

「So, now that you’re full, we should move」

Saying that, Cattleya pulled away.
She didn’t seem to have much when it comes to luggage, she wore a large leather pack on her back, and called out to me again saying “let’s go”.
……I followed behind Cattleya.
I thought that I would have had a hard time keeping up with Cattleya who was bigger than me――but that didn’t seem to have been the case.

This body really is pretty strong, as long as I wasn’t hungry at least.

***

It became noon while I was still following Cattleya who was the leading the way out of the forest.
Even after walking that much we still haven’t gotten out of the forest.

「……Cattleya」
「Hm? What is it?」
「I’m hungry」
「Is that so……then why don’t we take a quick break」

I wasn’t as hungry as I was when I was trying to hunt wolves, but all this walking has made me hungry.
Fortunately, I could just use 【Gluttony】to eat Cattleya and sate my hunger. It’s a blessing that I could eat as soon as I get hungry.

「Mnnー……it doesn’t really feel the same if we’re not doing it directly

So she says, I think there’s something wrong about her for being able to say after having been eaten.
But I wasn’t in any position to complain because I was eating a person.

Cattleya took out something that looked like dried meat out of her pack and ate it…… and then she produced water out of nowhere.
……?What was that just now.

「What did you just now……?」
「Ah, did you mean the magic? It’s not that complicated」
「Magic?」
「That’s right, Magic. 『Understand the phenomena, command all things, discover the truth. And then weave the words that create the world』…… I think it was something like that? Basically, it’s a technique that was developed a long time ago by a certain eccentric someone, and it lets you create all sorts of phenomena. 」
「Hehhー」

I couldn’t understand the difficult parts.
But it seems to be some kind of useful technique.
……I wonder if I could also use it?

Thinking that, I asked Cattleya how to use magic…… but I couldn’t understand anything she said.
Something about……the structure of the world and something about energy…… I asked even though I knew that I couldn’t possibly understand anything.

「Ufufu, I think it might still be too early for Iris-chan to learn magic…… and honestly, I don’t think you really need to anyway since you already have 【Gluttony】」
「Is that true?」
「Yes, the only time magic is ever really used is for combat, and for those who are in specialized crafts」
「Hmmm……」

That’s apparently how it was.
We finished our break and continued walking.

……We continued moving through the forest.
But suddenly, I felt an awful sensation running down my back.

「……hii」

“You must not go any further.”
It felt something was telling me those words. Cattleya kept on walking without noticing what was happening.
I knew that if I didn’t move then I’d be left behind here…… but I couldn’t move my legs.

(no, no……no, no, no)

I didn’t want to go any further.
I don’t want to die.
For some reason I felt like I was in grave danger, I couldn’t do anything but tremble where I stood.

「? Is something wrong Iris-chー」

Cattleya tried to ask me something.
……but she was cut short in the middle of her question.

「Eh……ーー ! ?」

I could hear the sound of the air being ripped apart resounding in front of me.
Cattleya was crushed into a pool of blood…… I just shuddered.

「Grrrrrr……So it was you huh. The one that killed the Fire Dragon……」
「hii――」

In front of me was a terrifying 『Phantom』 , it had a multitude of hands and it looked as if it was forcefully trying to assume a form.
I didn’t want to look at it anymore so I tried to look away……that’s when I realized that I couldn’t move.

「ーーh」
「Oh. Not talking……Is it too much of a bother to even make some noise aーーwhat?」
「……get away from that child!」

Cattleya did something to the 『Phantom』
I wonder if it was something like the magic she used earlier.

「Run away, Iris! That’s a Dread Dragon! They’re pests that consume worlds, and they’re the worst match up for you!!」
「e-eh?」

I could speak again.
But I was scared…… so scared that my body didn’t move as I wanted it to.

「Tch, It can’t be helped then!」

I heard the sound of glass shattering…… and something tremendous started overflowing out of Cattleya.
…… The 『Phantom』 watched her motionlessly.


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5. Self-Awareness

――When I woke up I could hear the sound of something crackling.

「……?where am I」

I sat up. The sky was already pitch black……and a camp fire was illuminating my surroundings.

「Ara, you’re awake? Good evening」
「――W-who- ! ?」

I heard someone’s voice and jumped up.
……I was strong enough to move. which meant that I was no longer hungry.

「Oh my. big sister will get sad. if you’re that scared…… 」
「……b-but I don’t even know you」

Th woman,ーー who had waist length black hair, red eyes, and was clearly older then me, hang her head down as if to trying to make me feel guilty.
Her body was womanly, unlike me who was skinny.

――at that moment, I remembered the events last night from before I fainted.

「I …… ate you……w-why-」
「Why did I let you? I wonder…… It was a quite interesting experience. The feeling of being eaten alive is- 」
「N, no, not that! I ate you, so why are you……!」
「If it’s just that, then I should tell you that it felt good enough to make me want to let you eat me again.
How about it? Are you hungry right now?」
「――w、 what!?」

It was madness.
Moreover, it was weird.
Right now, I was not hungry, on the contrary, I was full of energy.
And if my memory served me right, then I had eaten that woman――I should’ve had eaten her but-

「Haah……well, I have a special constitution you see. I can stock up lives, as many as I’ve taken. get it?」
「……what’s that……」

I backed away and put some distance between us.
My instincts told me to be afraid…… I need to run away from this place, right this instant.
Fortunately, I couldn’t feel any hunger starting to set in yet.
Right now, I should be able to run away through the forest,ーー

「Fufu, Are you scared? But you see…… the way I see it, I’d say that the karma of your soul is even more wicked.」
「……what do you mean?」
「Seems like that got you interested? Then first is, let’s see―― do you know about “status”?」
「No idea, what is it?」
「Arara. It’s really as if you were a slave…… I’ll teach you, so why don’t you sit down for now」
「…………okay」

I wanted to run away but I was still weirdly drawn to her, she had that kind of charm.
……if I needed to, then I could just run away.
At the very least, I had to keep that optimistic.

「Status is, so to speak, is the representation of the form of a person’s soul. I think it might be faster if I just showed it to you.」

After saying that the woman took a branch and started writing something on the ground.

「so then, over here is my level, skill, and title……the one that showed me that is my status. Are you keeping up so far?」
「……umm」
「Nn? What is it?」

I timidly raised my hand and asked a question to the woman that had been proudly asserting something.

「Um, what’s written there?」
「…………」

There was something written on the ground, but I couldn’t read any of it.

***

「Well whatever. I’m the only one that knows about the concept of status in the first place……That aside, why don’t we talk about your soul instead?」
「……okay」
「Your soul is ……a complete mess. It’s like everything’s been mixed and boiled together like a hotpot. Like this―― it’s hard to tell just how terrible the karma of your soul is.」
「…………」
「The form of a soul is something that’s predetermined. Adding onto it later isーーwell, it’s heresy. I’m the same way though. 」
「umm, big sister……you um, also have a terrible karma?」
「Yes, after all I can turn the souls of those that I’ve killed into my own――because I have the power of 【Lust】」

【Lust】 , I couldn’t tell what it meant but for some reason my chest was pounding.
I backed away from her unintentionally.
……even though that woman seemed sad……she continued smiling.

「Come to think of it, I haven’t introduced myself yet. My name is Cattleya. What’s your name?」
「I am……」

I hesitated.
Would it be okay if I told her my name.
But I figured that it’d be nothing but trouble if I lied here――

「Iris. That’s my name.」
「Is that so, that’s a nice name. Then let’s leave that conversation at that. Let’s talk about what we’ll be doing from now on instead.」
「eh……? w- why? 」

That woman…… Cattleya decided that we would be going together as if it was only natural.
and as if it was only natural, she also laid out to me――the reality of my current situation.

「After all, if you don’t eat then you’ll die right, Iris-chan? But the number of monsters still in this forest is…… hmm. they’re about nearly all annihilated you know?」
「――」
「in that case…… why don’t you travel together with me? As luck would have it, I’d just come back to life no matter how many times you eat me. Our compatibility is perfect! 」

……truth be told, I couldn’t trust anything she said.
Her motives were unclear, and everything about her was suspicious.
But……for some time, I’d be provided with food.
If it’s like that, then I wouldn’t have to go hungry.

「…………」

I was troubled.
I couldn’t use my hunger as an excuse.…… and, the prospect of not having to be tormented by hunger was too attractive.
…… I thought about the hunger that I had yesterday and the day before that-

「………………」
「So how about it? I’d love it if we could join forces but……」.

I didn’t want to suffer through that pain anymore.

――which means that I should go with her after all.
I don’t understand…… whatever it is she might be thinking, her objective, her motive.
But, I didn’t have to be hungry.
Thinking only about that one single point, I decided that I wanted to go with her.
I don’t want to be hungry anymore.

「……yea, I’ll go. but, I can’t really do anything for you, you know?」
「Noo……that’s not true at all though?」
「……? what do you mean?」

Cattleya said something strange.
I became suspicious, when I asked for an exploration she lowered her gaze as if thinking for an answer.
and then, she pressed her hands to her cheeks, and while blushing a little……she started talking.

「After all――after having that done to me, I don’t think I can go back anymore……」
「……」
「Getting eaten by your partner, if you really really think about it, isn’t it something incredibly ,majestic? It absolutely is. after all, you become one don’t you? 」
「……y, yea. I get it so……」
「By the way, A part of my soul has blended in inside of you! Isn’t that great!」
「hiie……」

That was probably the first time……that I’ve ever felt regret from eating something……

***

……Cattleya was what you would call a “pervert”
For some reason she wanted me to eat her, and she kept trying to touch me…… for me “other people” only referred to people that would hurt me..
There was nothing like those bright and warm people that appeared in drama and anime……I thought it was nothing but fantasy.
But I couldn’t understand her true intentions.
I couldn’t understand it, so it was scary.

……”let’s leave the forest.”
When I heard her say that I froze up. The outside world seemed so frightening.
It’s only been a short while since I’ve come to this world but……the fact that people are awful surely hasn’t changed.
But when I Cattleya said that she’d starve here if we stayed here, I stopped protesting.

……I knew that dying from starvation was more excruciating than any other pain.
If I really needed to, I could just consume Cattleya.

I couldn’t understand how she could agree to that.
Would you normally be able to happily accept someone wanting to eat you?
If it were me, then I would’ve killed them immediately and eat them instead.

「…………」
「suu……suu…」*snoring noises

I thought about those things while looking over at a sleeping Cattleya.
It was my first time dealing with physical intimacy and it only made me feel confused
The fact that I couldn’t sleep as carefreely as she did right now also made me wonder―― if there was something wrong with me as a person.

As a living being there was certainly nothing wrong with me.
……but if I were to view myself as a person…… it didn’t seem like I’d be able to call myself “normal”

「.……I am」

There was no way I wouldn’t be considered weird.
Difficulties and suffering was part of my life…… there was nothing but pain and hunger.
And then I was reincarnated, and I gained the ability to sate myself and a strength that didn’t match my body’s stature.
……it was distorted.
Satisfying my hunger is the only thing I knew, I didn’t even know what I’m living for.

I would never be able to properly make contact with other people as I was.

I don’t know how. I don’t want to know how.
If I started thinking about those useless things―― then I might starve to death again.

Other people are scary. The world is scary.

I might get hurt again.
I might get abandoned again.
Those were the only kind of thoughts going through my mind.

「I……」

But what did I even want to do?
Eating to satisfy my hunger……that’s how I lived my life.
But. there was nothing else left.
That was just surviving…… it’s true that I didn’t want to die…… but is it really okay for me to keep on going like this.
Doubts formed inside me after being around Cattleya.

I’m not just some animal. I made the conviction to interact with other people.

“I am weird.”


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