“Damn it, I can’t believe I, of all people, got captured by these humans…”
The girl in the castle’s dungeon cells cursed at her blunder.
She had a beast’s ears as well as a beast’s tail. Individuals who had such features were clearly not human beings. They were what was known as beastmen.
They lived further up north, outside of the Kaion duchy. Their land was barren, so they would frequently raid human settlements in order to steal the humans’ produce.
They would often meet retaliation from the human soldiers, but thanks to their physically strong bodies, capture was a rather rare event.
Yet, it still does happen.
Such was the case of the girl in the castle’s cells. She—who turned 16 this year—has been a part of the raiding party ever since she was 12. For every single raid before, she has somehow managed to escape. This time, however, she fell for a trap set up by the humans and got herself captured.
Due to that trap, she was unable to move and had to be left behind. It might seem a bit heartless of her companions, but that was their agreed upon rule from the very start. There was no use complaining about it.
“……what’ll happen to me now, I wonder.”
She has been imprisoned long enough to go from blaming herself for her blunder to being anxious about her fate.
She knew of people who got captured by the humans, but to her knowledge, none of them has ever come back. She didn’t know whether they killed, turned to slaves, or something else, but she knew in her heart that she would never get to see any of them ever again.
“It’s not like we think pillaging’s totally alright…but this used to be our land, you know. You humans kept driving us further and further north…”
The further north one goes, the further barren the soil becomes.
Unable to grow crops no matter how hard they tried, the beastmen gave up on agriculture altogether and instead focused on hunting to secure their food supply.
However, even though they were called beastmen, they couldn’t live off of meat alone. And so, seeing no other alternatives, they resorted to stealing the crops grown by the humans.
There were various subraces of beastmen, so it wasn’t easy to make any generalization about them. However, at least for the feline beastmen like her, they definitely didn’t do the raids out of simply wanting to attack the humans.
While she was still within her cramp jailcell, she suddenly heard a voice from behind. This shocked her so much, her heart skipped a few beats.
With beastlike agility, she hurriedly jumped to the other end of the cell while turning around.
“W-who are you!?”
“Ahh, sorry for frightening you. You don’t have to worry, miss, I didn’t come to hurt you.”
“…you’re a human…child?”
At the sight of the one who spoke to her, she was left dumbfounded. After all, it turned out to be a human girl who was a few years younger than her. Moreover, the said human girl looked quite fancy and cute.
She didn’t sense any hostility from the human girl.
Nevertheless, she kept her guard up and assumed a combat pose.
“How did you get in here…?”
The entrance to the jailcell was on the opposite end of where the girl was.
Moreover, she didn’t sense, hear, or smell the girl until the moment the girl called out to her.
“I came in through the staircase here.”
“There was a staircase there all along!? *(Was it just hidden there? No, putting a staircase inside a jailcell makes no sense at all!)*”
“Nope, I built it just a while ago.”
“You’re making less and less sense…”
She was at her wits’ end understanding what was happening, but it was to no avail. As if ignoring her though, the human girl started going down the stairs.
“Come on, follow me. You can escape through here.”
“A-are you helping me escape.”
“What are you planning…?”
The girl was a human being, just like the ones that imprisoned her here.
The human girl might look innocent and pure, but she wasn’t stupid enough to follow the girl blindly.
“I simply want to get you out of here.”
“Well…if it’s possible, I guess I’d like to meet with other beastmen.”
She was still not sure of the human girl, but decided to follow her down the stairs anyway.
After all, the only other option was to remain in the cell and deny herself of a future.
The human girl introduced herself as Luke.
While thinking that Luke sounded like a name for a boy, the beastman girl introduced herself as well.
“Nice to meet you, Lala-oneechan.”
“…! *(S-so cute…)*”