Then, a month later.
Lilim was woken up in the middle of the night.
It was noisy outside. It might be her father’s return. Lilim was taken outside by her mother.
There she found her father.
He was tied with rope and kneeling on his knees.
He was surrounded by numerous torches. Blood stains were smeared on his clothes.
“What is the meaning of this, gentlemen?”
My mother said in a brave voice.
“It seems that an impurity has been released from your family.”
The first man to step out from the group of torches was the leader of a branch of the Golden Leopard Tribe.
“The impurity must be cleaned up immediately”
Her mother stood before them in silence.
“Where is the impurity? Answer me.”
A man from a branch of the family put his sword to her father’s shoulder.
“…… I don’t know.”
She said in a muffled voice.
The man thrust his sword into his father’s shoulder.
Blood spurted out, and the sound of bones shattering could be heard.
Her father did not raise his voice. He kept his face down and didn’t move a muscle.
With these words, the man from the other family thrust his sword into his father’s shoulder again.
“Stop! You think it’s acceptable to wield a sword against a long-horned man—“
“Yes, it will be acceptable. I am the new head of the Golden Leopard tribe. He betrayed our people.”
“What proof do you have….”
“A priest of the Holy Church came to our village and told us. Saying it smells of demon possession. In the East, they say, the Holy Church gathers demon-possessed people and cleanses them of their impurities.”
A new man stepped out from the group. The man was dressed in priestly garb and had a thin smile on his face.
“The impurity must be cleansed immediately. If left unchecked, the filth will spread throughout the village and lead to its destruction…”
The priest’s words were interrupted by her father’s gravelly voice.
“What did you say, beastman?”
“I said it is a lie, human.”
Father met the priest’s contemptuous gaze head on.
“Lies about what?”
“Everything. The demon possession, all of it, is a lie of the Holy Church.”
“You’re talking nonsense. You have finally lost your mind.”
A man from a branch of the family sneered at her father.
The man from the other side of the family taunted her father, and the people around them laughed in return. Neither Lilim nor her mother could understand what her father was saying.
Only the priest and her father kept staring at each other without averting their gazes.
“Do you have any evidence for this, beastman?”
“The Golden Leopard Tribe is a traditional family lineage that has been around for a long, long time. The tale of heroism has been handed down to generations of the tribe’s chief. One of the three heroes who fought against the demon Diabolos was a beastman.”
“A fairy tale, huh?”
“Yes, a fairy tale. But it is a little different from the fairy tales of the world. The three heroes are women instead of men, demon possession is considered a blessing instead of a curse.”
“That statement is a blasphemy against the Holy Church.”
The priest’s gaze sharpens.
“I have been wondering about this for a long time. The fairy tales of the world and the fairy tales of the Golden Leopard Tribe. Why are they so different?”
“Foolish of you. Fairy tales changes over time.”
“Is that so? The tales of heroism have been handed down from generation to generation only to the chiefs. The story should not have changed so easily. Above all, this is the Golden Leopard Tribe. One of the three heroes who defeated the demon Diabolos, we are the descendants of Lili, the hero of the Golden Leopard tribe. That is the answer.”
“……In other words?”
“The heroic tale passed down to the Golden Leopard tribe is the truth. The holy Church has twisted the truth.”
Her father said this with unclouded eyes.
Silence reigned for a while.
Then, a small laugh became contagious and echoed through the village as a loud laugh.
“Kuhahahaha, that’s funny, so funny! I haven’t laughed like this in a long time!”
A man from a branch family laughed, clutching his stomach.
“This is funny.”
The priest was laughing too. But his eyes were not smiling.
“I see, I see, so this is what you mean. Demon possession is just a bunch of ecclesiastical nonsense, and the truth is that you are the descendant of a hero. So there is no need to purify the impurity. Is that what you’re saying?”
A man from a branch family said with a laugh.
“Don’t play dumb!!”
An angry shout echoed through the air.
“You want to endanger the clan with your stupid fantasies!”
“Believe it or not, this is the truth. But this is the truth……!”
“Don’t talk nonsense…!”
The man’s fist punched her father in the cheek. Again and again, he struck him again and again.
Lilim could not move. Her knees trembled, and she just stood there cowering.
“Now, the entertainment is over. “Well, the sideshow is over.
Wiping his reddened knuckles, the man from the branch of the family said.
“Where is the impurity?”
A small smile tugged at the corner of her father’s lips.
“If you don’t tell me, I’ll burn you all at the stake.”
“If I told you, it wouldn’t make a difference. All you want to do is torture me.”
The man of the branch family was silent. That was the answer.
“Then I will give you what you want.”
The man from the other house drew his sword.
“Everyone’s eyes were on Lilim.”
Lilim’s knees shook.
“I-It’s me …… the demon!”
Lilim squeezes out a pathetic voice.
Tears blurred her vision.
In the midst of it all, her eyes met her father’s, who was staring straight at her.
“—Listen to me.”
Her father’s voice was gentler than ever.
“The Golden Leopard tribe is descended from Lili, the hero who once saved the world. We are a family of proud blood. Why did Lili give us this tale of heroism? Why has it been handed down from generation to generation only to the chief of the tribe? There is a reason. We have a mission.”
“You have the blood of a hero in you more than anyone else. You are strong and wise, and I am proud of you. Lilim, head east. There is a cure for demonic possession in the kingdom of Midgar. Therein lies our mission.”
“F-Father, …… I ……”
“Lilim, you will be able to do it.”
Then her father looked at mother.
“I asked for you both.”
She gave a small nod and pulled Lilim into her arms.
“Do you think I’m going to let you go?”
The beastmen were already surrounding them.
“You will. Even if it cost my life…”
Gichigichi, there was a creaking sound.
It was coming from her father’s body. There was something pulsing inside her father’s body.
The next moment, her father’s restraints burst and an enormous amount of magical power overflowed.
“W-What is that power?!”
A man from a branch of the family exclaimed.
“There is still thick beast blood in the Golden Leopard tribe. I manipulated that blood and released it.”
The golden hair of her father had grown long.
It looked like a mane, as if he was turning from man back into beast.
“I-impossible. That’s …….”
“This art, handed down only to the chief, is a life-destroying forbidden art.”
Her father cried tears of blood.
The muscles stirred and writhed.
Blood spurted from his veins.
Then he became a raging beast and blew up the beastman’s enclosure.
Her father stands in the way, protecting Lilim and the others.
“Father, you too!”
Lilim is astonished to see her father’s face when she looks back at him.
He was half a beast.
“Your father will eventually become a beast. Before that happens,…….”
“I…..I hate it! Father!”
Lilim reaches for her father’s back. But she couldn’t reach it.
“It’s an interesting power. I didn’t expect to find a descendant of that thing in a place like this.”
The priest swung down a reddish-black chain and interrupted.
Her father’s right arm flicks the chain.
A thorny weight at the end of the chain burst off.
“This is amazing ……. The recovery of the demon-possession is going to be an unexpected windfall.”
“Go, Lilim! Run!”
Her father and the priest clashed.
Her mother took Lilim in her arms and rushed out.
The last time Lilim saw her father’s back was very large.