Chapter 025 – Human Hunting(6)
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Laura had always been taught to protect her pride. Even though her family had fallen, she had become a slave, and all sorts of vulgar acts were forced upon her so that her body would become accustomed to them, her pride was the one thing she never lost. In her opinion, life wasn’t that long anyway.
There was a time when she became lost in thought while taking a stroll through her household’s garden. She could sense that the servants were looking her way as they whispered to one another. Whenever they made eye contact with her, they would sweep their brooms energetically in order to make it seem like they were focused on cleaning, but Laura could tell. She could tell that those gazes contained ridicule.
It has been like this since she was little. She could tell what was on people’s minds through their eyes alone. Regarding the rumor about her being the ‘eccentric esteemed daughter of the Farnese family‘ who doesn’t participate in balls or social gatherings, but instead shuts herself in her room and reads books about the art of war, was something that even Laura, who was deaf to the outside world, knew very well. Despite her title as the second heir, the title itself was nothing but a shell.
‘Reputation is an utterly useless thing.’
Laura stared at a blue chrysanthemum that was in the garden. The chrysanthemum swayed slightly due to a breeze.
A few days ago, a mage that was dispatched to the Academy of Saints Petersburg held a rather intriguing lecture. The title of the lecture was ‘What is the correct way of judging nature with life?’. Ultimately, they criticized that the concept of ‘quiescence’ was wrong. Everything flows. If a human feels as if something within living nature has stopped, then that is simply the human’s misunderstanding.
‘Sense and motion, in other words, how we perceive the speed of things all depends on the rate of our pulse. The faster our pulse is, the faster we perceive the world. For example, a domestic rabbit’s pulse is 4 times faster than that of a cow’s which means that they perceive an hour 4 times faster than them. Since they can act 4 times faster, they have 4 times the experience. Therefore, domestic rabbits have 4 times the experience than cows…… From humans to the various other subspecies and animals, everything flows at their own respective speed within their internal lives even though they exist within the same frame of time. Let us hypothesize that the flow of humankind’s pulse, perception, and mental capacity either slows or hastens immensely! If we combine one’s childhood, prime, and old age and shorten it to a thousandth of its original length, in other words, all of this is downsized into a single month, so our pulse is 1,000 times faster⎯⎯⎯then people could most likely be able to spectate a flying arrow with leisure!’
The old mage bounced around the podium like a child.
‘What will happen if we condense life by another thousandth of a fraction, so, in other words, into the short span of 40 minutes? Blades of grass and flowers would seem as invariable and inflexible as mountains. Throughout the entire spans of our lives, we would perceive the single blooming of a flower as much as we currently perceive the geological shift of the continent. We wouldn’t be able to see a rabbit’s movement, a deer’s trot, or a frog’s hop because they would be too slow! At most, similar to how we make inferences about the movements of those distant planets, we would have no other choice but to make deductions about a deer’s steps as well. And if life were to become even slower than this? ……We might even be able to hear the sound of sunlight. Now then, let us hypothesize the opposite end. For example, what if our pulse becomes a thousand times slower? Our lifespans would roughly last for about 80,000 years and the 8 to 9 hours we experience now would stretch out to span across an entire year.’
The mage mumbled something under his breath. Once he did, a fire appeared on his right hand. It was a simple fireball spell.
‘Then, within the span of 4 hours, we would witness the winter snow melt away, grass and flowers sprout over the earth, leaves grow vibrantly and bear fruits before everything withers away once more. ……Day and night would switch back and forth every minute and the light from the sun would shoot across the sky like an arrow. And what if we make this already thousand times slower life slower by another thousand times? ……The difference between night and day would disappear completely! The sun would appear like a normal flickering ember and we would see it actually move across the sky. Respectable students of Lombardia, this is a ‘mage’s perspective’. Everything that continues to exist before our eyes is completely melded into time. Everything is swallowed by the flow of creation. Existence, quiescence, and ceaselessness are misunderstandings that were created due to the limitations of mankind. A perfect and faultless misconception…… a beautiful apparition.’
The lecture left a deep impression on Laura. Everything flows. This way of thinking that was explained through a concise thesis matched Laura’s life. One’s reputation, hatred towards others, resentment, retaliatory spirit, and love, all of these things were nothing more than brief instances in life that form and fade away. A noble’s pride towards slaves, the system known as nations, and even the influence of the temple. The humans that will walk the earth in a hundred years from now will be completely different from the ones that walk today.
If the only fact that is certain is the flow of all things, then the only thing I can do is wait and boldly face my eventual death.
That is what Laura believed.
‘Ha, fuck. Look at how soft and delicate her skin is. Sniff. I’m getting excited by the smell alone.’
‘Missy, your eyes are no laughing matter, huh? We’re also quite curious as to how long you can stay haughty. Our employer ordered us to keep it moderate, but, heh, we’re bastards who don’t know what moderate means. We’re uneducated, after all.’
‘Though there’s one thing we do know how to do. Haha. We’ll be teaching you it from now on. We pray that you’ll be a good student.’
After being handed over to a slave merchant, she was raped under the guise of education every night. Her virginity wasn’t taken for the sake of maintaining her value as merchandise. Regardless, other than this, every other area of her body was sullied. She was amazed that truly any part of the body could be used for ‘that’ sake.
The eyes that shined in the darkness.
The greed that dyed those eyes seemed somewhat funny to Laura. In truth, she laughed several times during some of these ‘education’ sessions. Every time she did, the hired soldiers would think that she was looking down on them, so they would behave more harshly. There was an occasion where it was so amusing that she couldn’t stay quiet.
‘Are you expecting me to tremble like a kitty? Your efforts are in vain, peasant. Put away your pointless hopes and seek only the things you can pursue in your life.’
That night, she was harassed from dusk till dawn. Naturally, Laura remained unfazed. The hired soldiers also realized that she wasn’t a normal noble lady. They got so worked up that they went out of their way to hire a lesbian prostitute in order to harass Laura. They purposely made her partner with a lesbian. Occasionally, they would invite their companions to watch. In the world of mercenaries, ‘how terrible of a thing you can do’ was a subject that always garnered attention, so the situation of a lady from a royal family being raped by a lesbian received high praise.
Despite all this, Laura remained adamant.
‘Sheesh, this cold bitch…….’
‘Are all greater nobles like this? Fuck.’
Even if they called a prostitute, it would only be exciting if she showed a response. The hired soldiers shriveled away before the unyielding, impregnable wall. They only did the bare minimum education out of formality. The sight of a man on top of her and swaying his hips felt distant to Laura.
‘She is of noble lineage. Laura De Farnese! The esteemed daughter of a duke.’
When Laura’s temporary owner came to visit, she was maintaining her composure as usual. However, the person who entered the carriage with her owner bothered her. It was because he had an intriguing gaze. It was her first time receiving such a look. It felt as if he were looking at her, but, at the same time, it felt as if he weren’t. She had a tendency to relieve her curiosity immediately.
‘What is the meaning behind your gaze?’
‘I’m asking you about your gaze. It’s the first time I’ve received such a look.’
She believed that the other party also had an interest in her as she did them. He had asked her owner to leave for a moment so that the two of them could talk alone, after all. He then indirectly voiced his desire to own her.
‘Then what can one do to become your master?’
Until this point, Laura had never told anyone about her personal philosophy. That was because it was bothersome and she also believed it would sound as if she were advertising herself if she did. This felt somewhat sloppy to her. Nonetheless, when the other party questioned her, she strangely wanted to answer him. While fascinated by this new emotion, she spoke a little excitedly. She might have been having fun because it had been a long time since she last had someone to talk to.
It was at that moment, the man’s aura changed rapidly.
‘Girl, that is quite the respectable mentality you have there. If you put it like that, then no one has a master. From nobles to peasants, humans are all destined to perish, are they not?’
He had suddenly begun to speak informally, but Laura didn’t mind. In the first place, speaking to a slave using formal speech is weirder. He was most likely shrewdly trying to pressure her by abruptly changing his tone. There was also a chance that he was acting in front of her temporary owner for an unknown reason. It didn’t matter. There was no reason for her to get caught up in a fight of spirit. Laura nodded her head without any hesitation as if she found this to be humorous.
‘Have you not realized that your words are contradictory? You made clear the fact that you are a dignified master. However, if we were to follow your logic, then no one should be able to become their own master. Do you still not understand, girl? I have a question which I find difficult to answer, so answer it if you can.”
The man had a pitying expression on his face.
‘Why have you not committed suicide right this moment?’
The girl felt as if her head had been dealt a blow. Her mind went blank. The words she had expected to come from the man’s mouth, the counterargument to it, and the counterargument to his counterargument, all of her plans had gone up in smoke.
Once her mind went blank, the sight before her entered her eyes. The man was looking at her. His gaze appeared as if he were staring at something truly pitiful. The girl felt disgraced. The moment she was sold off as a slave wasn’t nearly as shameful as this. No, it couldn’t even compare to this!
Rather than acknowledge this man’s words, she decided to achieve victory through death. She required a slight moment of time before she could bite down; however, it wasn’t until the man had already shoved his finger into the girl’s mouth did she bite down with the intent to sever her own tongue.
The man laughed at her.
‘So you had to contemplate, huh, girl?’
‘Child who was confident that death alone was your own to control, in truth, you required several minutes of deliberation before you could dispose of something that was supposed to be yours. Am I wrong?’
The taste of blood filled her mouth. It was the blood from the man’s finger. His finger has definitely been injured badly, but he continued to stare right at her without batting an eyelid.
‘That’s right. Your supposedly great philosophy didn’t manage to last even a few minutes! I refer to that thing, which you ultimately could not topple, one’s will towards life. There is much more to the world than your philosophy. Do you intend to die without knowing any of these things? Simply because you do not wish to lose to someone? Laura, I shall show you the rest of the world!’
His eyes were shining brightly. It was completely different from the glint in the eyes of the hired soldiers.
‘You are not the master of your life. You are nothing more than a priest who presents death to God. Until now, you have only become a slave voluntarily. You considered that to be your pride and trivialized the entire world, so everything has turned upside down! How amusing. Does this not make you laugh?! A clown is doing a handstand before me.’
The man’s voice was quiet, but it resonated clearly. The girl felt as if the man’s words were filling her empty head to the brim. An irresistible power behind his words cornered her.
‘Heed my words. At a point, one’s consciousness went from being a God to being human, before finally becoming a peasant. The fastest way across a mountain range is to travel from peak to peak. In order to do this, you must have long strides. However, is there not a faster way? Wouldn’t the right answer be to simply not climb the mountain in the first place? Masters and slaves are on the opposite ends of a pole, therefore even slaves could come to the misconception that everything above their heads is below their feet.’
The man abruptly removed his turban. There was a horn on the back of his head. Laura was taken aback. It was the horn of a Demon Lord which she had only read about in pieces of literature. Terror wrapped around the girl once she realized who she was talking to. This person couldn’t even be compared to a monarch in the human world. The man before her was the king of monsters! He was laying out the girl’s future as if he could see it himself.
She wasn’t afraid of that future, but the man’s gaze and voice gradually started to suffocate her. Refusing to speak formally to the end was her last line of self-respect. Regardless, she knew better than anyone else that only the shell of her pride remained.
‘Will you allow yourself to die like that? Or will you try to control your life now? You must choose between the two. Do not treat a Demon Lord’s proposal lightly! You must decide whether you will dedicate your resourcefulness to me!’
The girl was out of breath, so she could only manage to repeat that word. Once she did, the other party laughed as if he were proud of her and stuck out his right hand.
‘You told me that life is difficult to handle. And yet, why do you bear pride in the morning and resign yourself in the evening? Life is difficult to handle, but do not display such weakness to me! Stop disguising defeat as victory. Be defeated! Have repeated defeats! As long as you are still standing on your two feet at the end of all that, it will then be your victory!’
Everything sounded muffled. Her mouth became dry. Her throat tightened. Her right hand moved up on its own. She felt as if strings were attached to her from an unknown source and were controlling her. However, her right hand did not move any further because it had no more strength to do so. The other party chuckled once more when he saw this.
The girl understood two sentences within that laughter that sounded eternal. That he would be watching her, and that his name was Dantalian.
The mage’s lecture in this chapter is something I copied over from the contents of the lecture which Karl Ernst von Baer, who graduated from the Academy of Saint Petersburg, gave in 1860. Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche mentions this lecture in section 10 of <Die vorplatonischen Philosophen>. That’s page 313 of the translated version called <Complete Collection of Nietzsche> that was published in Korea. I copied that content almost exactly. Moreover, a couple of Dantalian’s lines were inspired by the short paragraphs in Nietzche’s <Reading and Writing>. Hehe. They’re my favorite lines.
I remembered these lines for some reason because fantasy novels usually refer to mana as a circle that surrounds one’s heart. If mana is the foundation of a fantasy world, then the world around the mage would appear slower to them the faster the circle spins, right? Similarly, when casting a fireball, a mage with 5 circles can cast the spell faster than a mage with 4 circles. That’s the setting.
TL note: Thanks for reading the chapter. This chapter was quite the doozy to translate. The lecture at the beginning was somewhat of a pain. If you’ve noticed, when Dant activates his <Acting> skill, he sounds completely different to other people and even says things that he himself didn’t say in his POV. I was tempted to use old English for those lines, but after converting 3-4 of them to old English, it actually felt too excessive. There’s only so much ‘thou’ and ‘thee’ you can read before you get annoyed. I’ll just keep it as usual for now unless it gets a lot of demand.
In any case, I’ll see you guys in the next release.