Chapter 14 | Riverside 1
The road they were traveling on connected to a larger dirt road which led to a small checkpoint station within a short distance from the fork. Beyond the collection of tents was the town of Riverside which, as the name suggested, was beside a river. There were two sections of the town on either side of the river connected by a large stone bridge. The side they were heading to had large rural farmlands surrounding a town of urban housing and markets.
The other side seemed less developed in comparison with only a fraction of the size. It had rows of identical row housing and business buildings that were overshadowed by the high wall protecting it. The wall was made of logs and was taller than the other buildings at around fifty meters. It defended against threats in the thick jungle-like forest that laid beyond it.
It must’ve been a common sight for Yuli, but as the group continued down the road, the slime couldn’t stop staring at the sight. The grass plains that surrounded the town and within the valley of the river was the perfect contrast of color against the setting sun.
The yellow moon had long dipped down the horizon and revealed a green moon on the other side which began dying the approaching night. The colors shined against the medieval structures and illustrated its culture and rustic charm.
“It is a beautiful town. Is it not?” Yuli smiled at the cub’s expression.
“It is!” She responded with excitement. Looking closer, the slime saw steam coming out of many buildings’ chimneys along with the regular soot. This could only mean one thing: steampunk! This was the first time in her time in this world when she was encapsulated by pure wonder.
Not having to constantly worry about death seemed to have put a new perspective on her. She wondered if Jun could see this with his soul within her.
The party cleared the checkpoint with no problem. The town had tight security despite the lack of defensive preparations. This was definitely her fault. They tested her by casting the tracking spell. These soldiers were the same faction from before yet the spell didn’t detect her now. Yuli was surprised by the amount of inspection. They checked everywhere for her presence. They probably knew she could shapeshift now.
There were only a few time-windows for them to have alerted their fellow soldiers of her abilities. It probably happened during her third and final encounter with these soldiers. She was angry. They were still chasing her. They were the ones who killed Jun.
Yuli seemed troubled by her interrogation by the soldiers. She was still protecting her despite knowing what she was. The slime felt an obligation to learn more about this world so that she could protect herself and Yuli.
The Alton residence was a secluded mansion in the rural area, it wasn’t a long walk from there to the town. Fields of wheat, barley, and vegetables lined the roads. They had oil lamps lighting their path. The sun was nearly set as they reached the large two-story Victorian manor. It looked expensive when compared to the houses within the urban center and could contain around a dozen bedrooms. As they approached the front doors, the slime spotted a man whittling a piece of wood while sitting on a chair on their front porch.
“Reinold,” said the man, smiling. However, as Reinold’s face came into the candle’s light, the man’s smile went away. “What happened to you two?”
That man was named Benas Alton, Yuli’s and Reinold’s father. He had green eyes and brown hair. He was taller than his son with a built body. He resembled a tough grandfather. Benas checked on his son and daughter before leading them inside.
“I will ask my parents if you can stay, okay?” Yuli told the slime.
“Okay. Thank you very much,” the slime was truly relieved to hear those words but was immediately taken aback from what she said next.
“I will have to tell my family about you,” Yuli corrected her.
“Huh? Why?!” The slime asked, clearly in distress.
“Because it is bad to lie to people, especially to family.”
“…I understand, Yuli,” the slime girl relented rather quickly. Since she was going to stay in their home, she didn’t want to lie. If Yuli thought this action was the best course of action, she would trust her. Yuli seemed mature enough to determine that. For the slime girl to refuse now because of her fear would create more problems down the road that she didn’t want for Yuli to deal with.
Yuli sensed that the wolf cub in her arms was getting anxious. She tried to calm her by gently patting her but it did little to soothe her. The slime girl knew very little of this world, perhaps there were more humans who were kind to monsters. This small hope prevented her from running away.
Their mother, Sophia, came downstairs with a few servants and first aid materials. She was also human with blue eyes and dark brown hair. The two parents sat their children down and began treating their wounds.
Tasha was with them and she began explaining what happened to Benas. The slime girl still couldn’t understand much about their language so she couldn’t discern a lot of details. Apparently, there was an incident in the previous town and Yuli got injured badly.
After being treated, Yuli spoke aloud and in telepathy, “I would like to speak about something with everyone. Hans, can you call everyone to the living room?”
“Right away, Milady,” Hans, the butler responded.
The slime instantly became tense. Was this really happening? That fact only just dawned on her. At first, she thought Yuli meant only her parents and brother but she also planned to tell everyone including the servants too?!
“Yuli! I thought you said you would only tell your family. Why are you including your servants in this conversation?!” The slime said in distress.
“Everyone in this house is my family. Please trust them as you trust in me.”
“I—I…” Yuli caressed her body to ensure that it was okay. She was hunted by humans for over two months, ever since she was born into this world as slime so to suddenly accept a group of strangers was impossible. Just thinking about it made her feel so anxious. With more people knowing, the possibility something could go wrong increases exponentially.
Then, a familiar face came to greet her, “You’re an idiot for ever trusting this girl. We would’ve been better off on our own. We were doing just fine.”
The boy in his astral form appeared before her and was speaking her doubts.
“This girl’s naïve nature is about to put her family in danger.”
“Stop,” the girl calmly said. The boy didn’t expect her answer. “No more excuses.”
The boy vanished and her mind was cleared once again. Her previous existence wasn’t a pretty one. If anyone found out what she was, she would be isolated and harassed. This caused her to hide who she was but, eventually, she began to realize that hiding herself was worse than anything her harassers could possibly do.
But it was still scary, no matter the context. Revealing herself risked the possibility of being hunted and harassed just like in her previous world. It didn’t matter what kind of assurance she was given. Being hurt was always a possibility for her.
“I know you are scared about what might happen but my family is very open-minded. You see, I am a half-elf.”
Yuli tucked her braided hair back over her ear to reveal them to be slightly pointed. Of course, with her Monster Sight, the slime saw her ears from the beginning. But she didn’t mention that fact to her.
She continued, “I was injured by a gang of criminals two days ago because they wanted to steal from our wagon. They started to beat me when they found out I was a half-elf. By law, I could be killed or sold as a slave but I was saved by Elliot and his freelancers. There are so many people who can support you. So, please give them a chance.”
“…Yuli. You’re very mature for your age, you know?” The slime girl tension exited her body as she heard Yuli’s story and was relieved to have been found by someone who could understand her pain. “Okay. I will talk to them.”
The slime girl knew her own heart was a fragile thing. To trust someone was to open yourself to be vulnerable and risk your heart. Last time her heart was broken, she reverted back into her depressing boy persona. However, she wanted to be stronger and to become so was to open yourself to be hurt. This was because to have the strength to confront your weaknesses in light of the despair you face is the strongest thing a person could do.
It was easy to do nothing and to say the right things to be morally just. Life was the truest test of character. She was done hiding under the veil of her male self. She was free now and with Yuli by her side, there was nothing to fear.
The room was lit by a chandler composed of dozens of glowing crystals. The Altons were a family of Merchant Lords which have large enterprises. They could be richer than some nobles but the slime didn’t have a good concept of what rich looked like in this world to appreciate this yet.
Everyone was gathered in this room. The number of servants numbered only six with three butlers and three maids. They stood ready to serve as the main family took their seats. Yuli stood in front of them all and began to speak.
“I wanted to talk to you about this child. Well… you see…” Yuli was having trouble finding the words for this. “She is not an ordinary wolf. I found that she had a soul gem when I healed it with magic.”
“It’s a monster?” Benas questioned calmly.
“A Dungeon Master?!” Reinold stood up in confrontation. However, he wouldn’t dare to pull out his revolver with Yuli holding it so close to her chest. The monster shivered and buried itself further into Yuli’s embrace. “So, that’s why the soul gem didn’t work. It could only detect the aura of normal monsters, not Dungeon Masters.”
“Yuli, I cannot believe you would do something so reckless!” Sophia scolded her daughter.
“Please, listen to me! She can talk! She’s not a monster!” Yuli defended the creature in her arms.
The room suddenly fell silent. They seemed to be waiting for her to do something. Yuli activated the telepathy spell for everyone so they could talk with her. The slime wasn’t sure what to say and so she spoke after a few tense moments, “Hello?”
Reinold pulled out his revolver and shot the baby wolf out of Yuli’s arms at close range. The bullet didn’t harm Yuli and made the small wolf fly down to the ground and tumble some distance away until she hit the corner of the room. “Get away from Yuli, you demon!”
“Brother! Stop! She is not a demon!” Yuli was frantic. She clung onto Reinold arm to prevent him from taking things any further but was pulled back by her father. Everyone was in position to defend themselves and each other. The slime girl was bleeding blood and slime on the floor.
To a certain extent, everyone in the room understood Yuli’s words that this creature wasn’t a danger but Reinold’s sudden action made them hesitant to truly accept her words. The family didn’t know who was in the right and when the situation was as life-threatening as this, they rather choose the safe option and stand by.
Reinold knew who this Dungeon Master was and how dangerous it was. There was no way they could let something like that live, he thought.
The wolf cub reeled in pain as it stood to face the barrel of Reinold’s revolver. The slime spoke without raising her voice, “…Why? Why are you killing me?”
“You’re the Devil Slime. A Dungeon Master that killed dozens of Imperial soldiers and you… attacked our caravan!” Reinold said those words with maximum disdain.
“No, Reinold! She wasn’t the one who attacked us! It was a different Dungeon Master!” Yuli tried to defend the slime but she lost her initiative. The credibility of her words was in question and it was up to the slime to correct the course of the conversation.
“It wasn’t me…” The slime was about to kill over. She could barely maintain her wolf form. If she submitted to the pain and dissolved into slime, she could lose the conversation over her innocence! The bullet Reinold shot in her burst open to inflict anti-magic damage. It drained her mana and made a small crack in her soul gem. “I was the one who killed the two monsters who were responsible for the attack. I even saved you from those bear monsters. You don’t believe me?”
The slime said so in her mental voice of a young girl. That voice, in combination with her sincerity, reverberated through the room and touched their hearts which grew into sympathy despite their inaction.
However, Reinold was still not convinced. “You expect me to believe your presence there was coincidental? You’re the Devil Slime, one of the most wanted Dungeon Masters on the continent! The two other Dungeon Masters you supposedly defeated weren’t ordinary at all!”
“I suppose there is some truth to that but…”
The slime could sense that Reinold was about to shoot her again. Her monster sight wasn’t working because of the cloaking field around the manor but she could sense his aura.
He brought out his mana to cast a spell and the slime reacted immediately, launching a crystal spike from between the floorboards and striking the revolver before absorbing it. Everyone in the room took a step back from her. Reinold let go before his hand was consumed in slime.
“Enough of that!” The slime yelled. “Yuli said I could trust all of you with my life. I wanted to believe in all of you too! But you attack me! I am a former human reincarnated from Earth!”
Everyone was stunned to hear that she was reincarnated.
“And ever since I was reincarnated to this world, I’ve been hunted and chased! All I do is suffer but I tried to do the right thing when those monsters attacked! Even if you blame me for their deaths, I tried my best to do the right thing and saved you! You say that I’m a monster but I didn’t ask for this life! I never asked for it and yet I am treated like a villain! In this world and my previous world, I’ve been persecuted for how I was born!
“Either way, I’m treated like a monster! I have no hope in either world! Whether I die or not! Every day, I feel scared that it might be my last! That I might be killed! …And now… you’ve rejected me too… I have nowhere to go… SO, TELL ME, REINOLD, YULI! WHAT SHOULD I DO?! WHAT SHOULD I DO?!”
Her soul was literally crying out and she was using a lot of her willpower to block the release of the darkness inside her and to maintain her form. She didn’t want to hurt them. Her emotions emanated through her aura and everyone felt it. They felt emotions only a human could express.
Benas placed his hand on his son’s shoulder and said, “Don’t you think you went a little too far?”
Looking at the wolf cub’s state, she was trembling with her head down and whimpering. The room went completely silent as a consensus was drawn and they stared at Reinold. He looked to Yuli for an answer but she simply directed him to the wolf cub with determined eyes.
Reinold felt genuine remorse as he walked over to the cub. Although he didn’t do anything inherently wrong, it still felt like a walk of shame. He made a girl cry and wail. He crouched down and put his hand to the cub’s head and stroked it gently. The slime looked bewildered.
Although it was also said through telepathy so she could understand, she couldn’t believe what Reinold said. “Excuse me? What did you say?”
The cub looked up at him for his response as his hand moved away, “I said I’m sorry for hurting you and making those baseless accusations. I acted rashly without knowing the full situation.”
A while passed as Reinold sat still. She was calming down now. If she lost control a few minutes ago, there would’ve been no going back. The slime girl gambled her heart when trusting these people and this was the result.
She looked to Yuli for an answer and saw her let out a soft smile, conveying her relief. Of course, Yuli couldn’t have known this would happen but she somehow knew things would be alright even after Reinold’s outburst.
The slime perked up, “I appreciate the apology and your acceptance of me but your apology is not accepted.”
“Huh? Why not?” Reinold was taken aback by her sudden cavalier attitude.
“You shot me and tried to kill me. I don’t believe that leaves much leeway on how I would feel about your actions.”
The slime brushed off Reinold and walked over to Yuli. Reinold turned back around and saw faces of pity and a bit of laughter from the maids.
“Oh! I suppose I should give you your gun back.” The slime reformed the revolver from her mouth and dropped it on Reinold’s boot, covered in saliva. The impossibilities of the act just made it more absurd. “There you go. See how good of a person I am?”
The slight giggles became a burst of laughter, even Sophia was laughing and trying to contain herself by covering her mouth. “Mother!” Reinold exclaimed.
“I’m sorry, Reinold. Please don’t mind me!” Sophia said while covering her mouth.
“Yuli!” The slime said happily while clinging to her trouser leg. Yuli picked her and she settled into her arms again.
“I am so sorry,” Yuli said sadly as she hugged the cub tightly in her protective arms.
“Yuli, I’m fine. It’s okay,” the slime kept her upbeat attitude to try to comfort her in a way she could.
Benas came forward and spoke to the existence in his daughter’s arms, “I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t take you in and you seem like a good child. Monster or not. Would you like to stay here with us for a while?”
“Yes, I would! Thank you very much!”
“That’s great! Now, young child. Do you have a name?” Sophia asked.
“I don’t have a name.”
“What about the name from your former life?” Yuli pointed out.
“Although that’s true that I was reborn into this world. It doesn’t seem very appropriate to keep using my old name after everything that has happened. Can you give me a name, Yuli?”
“W—What? Me?” Yuli stammered.
“Yuli, please~!” The slime asked with puppy dog eyes and a cutesy voice.
“Can I think about it?” She smiled meekly with complicated emotions.
“Yes, of course. There’s no rush.”