Chapter 209:

I Am…

Atk 0 Crit All ~My attack stat is negligible, so I can't help but rely on critical hits to succeed!~

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This chapter gets a bit dark, so just a heads up for those reading.Bookmark here

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That was only the start of Ludmila’s nightmare.Bookmark here

As she woke up in a daze, her eyes vacantly looked around while things slowly came into focus. The sounds of screaming and crying suddenly entered her ears, causing her to lift her head up and force herself back to full consciousness.Bookmark here

But instantly, she regretted being awake. The sight of an unfamiliar area surrounded her. At a glance, it seemed like the modern dwellings that Master had told her about, but they were still surrounded by forest. Apparently, the poachers had taken them to their base in some remote location.Bookmark here

Turning her eyes to the ground, she saw the bodies of people laid there unmoving. Her eyes widened as she recognized some of them as fellow villagers. However, that was only from what she could tell of their faces.Bookmark here

The corpses that lay on the ground appeared to have been butchered, the flesh pulled back and the insides thoroughly rummaged through. Like the prey after a hunt, these people had their innards carved out, leaving only their skin and bones.Bookmark here

Ludmila fought the urge to vomit as she turned her eyes elsewhere, only to find women held down and handled mercilessly by the poachers that she saw in the forest. She instinctively turned away to avoid what the vile men were obviously doing to them. Seeing such a scene made her question who was the ‘civilized’ one.Bookmark here

Still, wails of sorrow tore through the hearts of everyone else who looked down in silent agony as they huddled inside a large cage. They knew that they would only make themselves the next target if they resisted.Bookmark here

They had apparently ambushed the village while she was unconscious, imprisoning her entire family with little difficulty before transporting them to some unknown location.Bookmark here

Ludmila could not decide what was worse to look at – her elder sisters and mothers being used as toys for pleasure, her elder brothers and fathers lying on the ground like butchered prey, or the rest who occasionally peeked around while covering their ears in fear.Bookmark here

Like the very prey that they hunted themselves, the poachers were now reaping the spoils from the bodies of the fallen, placing the organs delicately into boxes before taking them to a wheeled vehicle that rumbled and growled as it sped away.Bookmark here

However, they were not doing this to survive, but to line their pockets with what these men called ‘money’. She overheard them talk about returning to the city to spend it all on lavish things.Bookmark here

Anger and despair filled her mind as tears ran down her cheeks. To her, this was hell itself. What did they do to deserve this?Bookmark here

Two tall forms walked up to her, their shoes stomping threateningly with each step. They looked down with sinister smiles at the shivering girl that had just awoken into tragedy.Bookmark here

“That’s some surprise. Not even a peep after seeing all this.” The man bent down and eyed her carefully. “Too scared to scream, or just too broken to react? I wonder which it is?”Bookmark here

The other man smacked him lightly in the shoulder. “Regardless, a bet’s a bet. I won. Five full minutes and no screams of agony, so pay up.”Bookmark here

“Tch, you would think that she’d make some kind of ruckus.” Reaching into his pocket, the first man dug out some bills and smacked them onto the other person’s chest. “Especially after I hacked off those speedy little limbs of hers…”Bookmark here

“Hey, I was going to call foul on you until you raised the payout, but they were done for anyway. But still, did you have to make them even? It bothered you that much?”Bookmark here

Their words registered in Ludmila’s mind, but confusion took over her already fragile thoughts. The scene before her had made such an impact that she disregarded the pain that radiated from her own body, particularly her lower half.Bookmark here

Looking down, she saw bloody nubs where her legs should have been. Instantly, a wave of panic overtook her, as she reached out and felt all around to find where they could have gone. All that remained was a bandaged end, oozing with blood through the wrappings. Since she had been propped against a wall, this action caused her body to tip over.Bookmark here

Still, her hands moved all around the stubs, confirming that there was nothing below her thighs. Her legs had been cut off and the wound partially cauterized to stem the bleeding. Just like that, she was no longer the fastest person in her village. Now, she was a broken body who couldn’t even walk for herself.Bookmark here

Ludmila gripped the sides of her head and let out a howl.Bookmark here

“Master! Master! Where did you go?! Why did this…”Bookmark here

Ludmila was abruptly lifted up into the air as a cloth was wrapped around her mouth to muffle her voice. She felt it tighten around her head, blocking her screams from escaping.Bookmark here

“Oy brat. A bit late for that. Don’t go screaming for help cause the strong ones of this village are all dead. They simply wouldn’t back down unless we shot ‘em up. A bit of a waste if you ask me as the goods will just rot before we can sell ‘em.”Bookmark here

Ludmila’s eyes widened in shock.Bookmark here

‘Master Urkan couldn’t have died. He is invincible. He is…’Bookmark here

All hope disappearing from her thoughts, her cries died down into labored whimpers, lacking any real energy. Ludmila curled into a little ball, lamenting that she hadn’t been able to warn them in time.Bookmark here

“Be glad that my buddy here didn’t cave into that little fetish of his. You have me to thank for your arms being attached still.”Bookmark here

“Not too late for that. I’m feeling like it after I just lost a full day’s wage to you.”Bookmark here

“If you reach for that saw, I’m gonna shoot your ass. It’s fun and games to you, but that means extra work for me. We have to keep this runt alive, and not having her able to do jack shit is annoying.”Bookmark here

“Tch. Don’t come crying to me if she fights back.”Bookmark here

“Hardly. Just look at her. I know someone that’s lost all will when I see it.”Bookmark here

Truly, if they couldn’t be stopped by Master Urkan, then no one else could save them. Ludmila clawed at the dirt in frustration as tears continued to leak from her eyes. With no legs, she couldn’t even run anymore. She couldn’t even die with grace. That was the reason the poachers didn’t bother to tie her up. She was a useless body, waiting to be carved up and her organs harvested.Bookmark here

Yet, days passed, and still, it was not her turn.Bookmark here

They had enough parts from the fallen hunters to fulfill the initial demand, so those who were locked up were simply left caged. Periodically, someone would be pulled out and toyed with, a sadistic act of passing the time when there were no requests to fulfill.Bookmark here

The poachers bickered about meaningless things that Ludmila couldn’t understand, satisfied their loins with the women, and entertained themselves by inflicting injuries upon those who could barely fight back.Bookmark here

All this time, Ludmila stared vacantly, still harboring some hope that someone had survived and was lying in wait to find the right time to save those left. Patience was a hunter’s strongest trait, and waiting to strike with the highest possibility to succeed meant enduring the urge to charge hastily.Bookmark here

But then, the requests begun again. The roar of the mechanical beast rolled into the camp, and as it stopped, a person dressed unlike the other poachers stepped out. He looked much cleaner and wore fancy ‘civilized’ clothing. Quickly, he was ushered into the nearby building.Bookmark here

Not long after, one of the oldest members of the village was dragged out of the cage. He was thrown to the ground before one of the poachers stepped on his back to pin him in place. Pulling out a long, barreled weapon, one poacher drew a quick arc along the ground before a loud bang sounded.Bookmark here

Instantly, a sense of dread grew from all those imprisoned. The old man on the ground died instantly as his struggling stopped abruptly. And with the soft whimpering of those who knew him in the background, the poachers set to work carving out the organ that was needed for the operation.Bookmark here

A few days later, the racket of the metal beast rolled into camp, this time bringing several people who had paid for an organ transplant. They looked younger than the one before, but they had pale expressions like a sickness had plagued them. Their fancy attire hid how fragile their bodies were.Bookmark here

“Looks like we’ll need two to fulfill this.” The man pointed toward the cages as others opened them and dragged out a mother, along with her daughter who a bit older than Ludmila. They had avoided most of the ‘special treatment’ thus far due to the plumpness of their bodies. Since the poachers had no preference for the pair, the ‘healthiness’ of their bodies seemed to appease the buyers of their organs.Bookmark here

But to Ludmila, the pair had deep connections with her. The mother made the most delicious preserved meat, making sure to give her extra before a hunt. And the daughter had served as a dear playmate before she became old enough to become an adult who carried responsibilities. She loved weaving and sewing furs that were passed on to others. Ludmila reached down to the skirt and tightly gripped the hem of it, one such article given to her.Bookmark here

As the memories raced through her mind, they were interrupted by the piercing bang of a gun firing twice. Her bond with them shattered as two bodies dropped to the ground. Tears dripped down Ludmila’s face as she fought the urge to scream through her gag. Once again, she had lost more loved ones.Bookmark here

As more days passed by, Ludmila continued to watch as others were dragged out one by one and slaughtered for their organs. And with each time, a flash of memories involving the victim bitterly stabbed at her heart. Her muffled sobs could barely register the pain that developed within her.Bookmark here

With each shot of the gun, her fate taunted her by mercilessly carving away more of herself, forged by the family that she lived with.Bookmark here

And while others choked out sobs of sorrow, all Ludmila could hear was:Bookmark here

“Your ‘family’ is now gone.”Bookmark here

“Your ‘family’ is now gone.”Bookmark here

“Your ‘family’ is now gone.”Bookmark here

“All because you failed…”Bookmark here

If she had not hesitated as she had, she would have escaped in time to warn the others. If she had not looked back and stood frozen in fear of the poachers, they would still be alive.Bookmark here

Finally, she could no longer bear the guilt of seeing so many die because she had been afraid. The next time she was ungagged to be force fed, she cried out to that person as she crawled forward. “Kill me next… please!”Bookmark here

But then, another poacher walked up to her. He stared down at her with menacing eyes that seem to glow. Not a speck of mercy came from them. Ludmila, delirious now from the mental torture, looked up to see a shadowy demon whose gaze pierced her soul.Bookmark here

“Now, now. It’s not your turn. We must keep you healthy… for you are my precious…***”Bookmark here

The man’s words garbled in Ludmila’s mind. This man had a special purpose for her. The other poachers chimed in, mocking her wish to be the next prey. They had a good reason not to use her yet. As she was still a child, there was little demand for her smaller organs. But her time would come eventually. When a rich person’s child befell misfortune, Ludmila’s body would fetch a price many times greater than any of the others.Bookmark here

But until then, she continued to suffer as the people in the cages dwindled. The cries numbered less and less as everyone gave into despair. Ludmila herself had no words to speak. Nothing she could say mattered anymore. The passage of time purely went by from the ones that she could count remaining.Bookmark here

The bang of the rifle brought about the only emotion that jolted her awake, causing her to twitch each time with a slightest bit of life. But then, she heard something that shook her heart awake.Bookmark here

“Geez, this bitch had a brat inside of her.”Bookmark here

Ludmila lifted her head up in surprise. Between the bodies of the poachers working about, she saw the lifeless eyes of Kudecha, her mother. She had been the latest victim.Bookmark here

Ludmila’s lip quivered as her closest loved one was now lost forever. She caught sight of a small chunk of flesh tossed carelessly aside. It landed around ten feet in front of her with a bloody plop. As the sight of barely formed appendages registered in her mind, Ludmila gagged and fell forward.Bookmark here

Her face hit the ground, but seeming to have lost all reason, she began to crawl over to it. Nothing else mattered but for her to reach out and grab it. She pulled the crimson, messy blob to her chest that was barely larger than her hands, cradling it with tears in her eyes.Bookmark here

That blob she was holding was her unborn sibling, ripped from her mother’s body and carelessly thrown away like trash. There was a time when she dreamt of all the things that she would teach the child, but all she could do now was hold onto the last remaining warmth that came from it.Bookmark here

The demonic man with piercing eyes once again towered over her, a wicked smile upon his face. Bookmark here

How could he take pleasure in such cruelty? How could such a hell exist? And how much longer would she have to suffer through this agony?Bookmark here

The man gave her no answers to any of this, simply continuing to haunt her with the dreaded gun shouldered on his back. He reached down and lifted her up with one massive arm. With the other hand, he traced her cheek and lightly rubbed away her tears.Bookmark here

His actions were like delicately caring for a broken doll, but Ludmila knew that it was just more sadistic teasing to crush her soul. Still, there was no longer anything left for him to take. The girl named Ludmila was merely an empty shell. Another body that they would continue to toy with until it was her turn to be split open.Bookmark here

She mouthed the last few words that she would ever say in this life.Bookmark here

“I am…”Bookmark here

“Ludmila is… nothing.”Bookmark here

“Nothing… without Master…”Bookmark here

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