Chapter 1 – Cookies?
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---- An Unknown Time Later ----

POV: Kurosaki Kageyama(?)

If you were to ask me what happens when you die, I would have told you to fuck off. It is a stupid question, and you are wasting my time. I am a steadfast atheist. There was no such thing as God, the afterlife, heaven, hell… All of them fantasies that mankind dreamt up to comfort them on their deathbeds (and a nice moneymaking machine for churches).

Now that I am dead, my answer remains unchanged.

It is completely black, a void that stretches to infinity now lays before me. Truly befitting of the title of ‘advanced darkness’. After my somewhat harrowing experience running from that mad hobo, floating without a care in the world seems rather nice right now…

FUCK THAT. WHY DID I HAVE TO DIE IN SUCH A HUMILIATING WAY?! All my achievements, all that scheming, all my time… gone? How stupid. Even in death, I guess the ever-foolish question of the ‘meaning of life’ goes unanswered.

I hear a childish giggle from somewhere. What? Was I hallucinating? No, that’s impossible. Assuming this is some variation of a ‘spiritual realm’, I do not have a physical body, the lack of a brain would make such falsities impossible... I listen carefully again, trying to ascertain what the hell was going on around me. Cookies? What the fuck? Did I just hear something about cookies?

I attempted to look around, although I was not sure if I was even turning. Without a body to respond to my actions and a pitch-black environment, I just disoriented myself. I pause for a second. Relief floods me. Of course… I wasn’t dead, I was probably just unconscious and in some hospital. I seem to recall coma victims claiming they heard everything around them while they were incapacitated. It is simply just one of those cases. People in the infirmary talking about… cookies? Hm. Well, it is much more believable than the idea that I died and am floating around in limbo…

So, I just have to wait until I wake up? I can’t force myself awake. I am fully conscious goddammit! Move, body, move! Eh? I feel something. It appears to be… my right hand? It’s resting against something hard… and cold. I must be in a crappy hospital then if this was the quality of the bedding.

I can do this.

I attempted to move my right hand, now that I had a stimulus to guide me. I heard a jingling sound… Chains? Why would there be chains in a hospital? Clenching my hand and forcing it to explore. This… this was not a hospital bed. The fuck? It felt like I was resting on hard rock, the occasional bumps and vertices hinting at poor craftsmanship.

The jingling continued. My hand reached as far as it could go… and it stopped. Something was holding it back. This was not the full extension of my arm, I knew that. Why couldn’t my hand go further? I tried feeling for my other hand… there it was. Resting on the same cold and rocky surface.

I guided both my hands together. Hm? These fingers… they were so small. I feel like I was holding the hands of some pathetic malnourished child. The jingling continued as I felt my hands run over with each other. I felt something foreign. There were bracelets connected to both my hands? No, too heavy, too rough. They felt like metal. Where these the sources of the jingling? I was handcuffed. Shit.

This was worse than I thought. It appears I survived, and the hobo decided to kidnap me. But I thought his motive was revenge? I’d gladly pay a ransom fee to get out of wherever I was. So, I’m alive. I should be able to open my eyes then. I attempted to open my eyes, truly an unexpected struggle.

The feeling of peeling my eyelids open felt so foreign, like I was in a different body. They must have drugged me as well, there was no way I would feel like this naturally. Ah, a bit of light is filtering into my eyes. After remaining in the dark for so long, the light was refreshing, despite my body's pitiful state.

Prying my eyes open, letting them adjust to the surroundings. What the fuck? Was this some sort of human trafficking situation I got muddled into? I was in an uninspiring dark and dingy room, cold stone floor surrounded on three sides by red brick walls and iron bars at the front. Lined up against the walls, I spotted fellow captives, arms and legs chained to metal stakes periodically embedded along the ground.

This was the worst thing I have ever smelt! Just noticing the smell, I hurled. I gagged several times before something shot out of my mouth and settled on the ground next to me. That was strange, isn't puke meant to be liquid? The room's smell distracting me from the peculiar hairy object that just left my mouth, I looked around again. They were sitting in their own excrement covered in piss, appearing to not have washed in weeks. The girl to my right looked in my direction with disdain.

Disdain? I was enraged. Some tramp dared to look at me with those eyes. She looked to be at the pinnacle of destitution, sunken eyes, chapped lips, and a stick-like body. Yet she decided to look at me like that for merely expressing my displeasure at the situation. There were five girls dotted around the room (excluding myself).

They looked like stereotypical slaves to me, their only apparel: torn and dirty rags, barely clinging to their bodies and exposed everything just below their waist. It was a miserable sight. I knew that modern slavery was going strong, but I never expected to be involved in it.

I needed to get out of here. I will first negotiate with my captors. I am sure that as a CEO of a reputable company, I was valuable to them. I could offer them a large lump sum upfront for my release, or even send them monthly reimbursement from my various channels. If that falls through, I am truly finished. If I had no confidence in my physical ability before, in my malnourished and emaciated state, I wouldn't dare entertain the thought of escaping now.

“Hey!” I shouted to the outside, my dry throat gasping for respite (it seemed I was dehydrated as well), “I wish to negotiate for my release!”

 

POV: Bartolt Helds, Prison Guard stationed on the Wickten Estate

Mrs Wickten is a strange one, not that I would ever mention that to anyone. She went out one day with her entourage to the capital and came back with six slaves. Five humans and one filthy demi-human. She always had a thing for breaking the demis. I would assume the five humans would be put to work as servants in the mansion, and the latter as entertainment for the Lady.

A curious case. Not only was it a demi (a rare sight on the northern continent), but it also had the curse of darkness. Black hair and black eyes that are rumoured to stare into your soul. It was definitely abandoned by its parents the moment they set their eyes on it. It was a wonder how it managed to survive in the wild for this long. I felt bad for the five slaves who had to occupy the same room as that monster.

“Nē! Rirīsu ni tsuite kōshō shitai!” I heard coming from one of the cells. What the hell was it this time, I grumbled, making my way towards the sound of the shout, the smell of excrement and urine getting stronger. They really should let the slaves clean themselves once in a while.

When I got to the cell and peered inside, I saw that hideous beast struggling against her chains, black tail brushing up against the back wall, shouting in some unknown language. The slaves around her leaning as far away as their chains permitted. The beast noticed my presence and stopped struggling while looking towards me.

Ah, those black eyes really did repulse me, the curse of darkness is truly disgusting. A look of confusion and curiosity crossed the critter’s brain, probably admiring my shiny armour. Probably one of the fanciest things it’s ever laid its eyes on, I’d bet.

It snarled again, “Don'na kingaku demo!”. It showed its fangs. Ah, I had no clue what she was saying. Probably some sort of threat. Since it wasn’t soothing the other slaves and it was annoying me, I decided it is best to shut the thing up. Sighing, I grabbed a ball gag from the nearby table and picked up the keys from the hook on the wall. Unlocking the cell door and sliding it open, I stepped in.

 

POV: Kurosaki Kageyama(?)

“I will any amount!” I continued. The strange knight-cosplayer looked at me strangely and walked off to the side, grabbing a strange ball along with the cell keys. Yes! He was going to let me out. I guess I will be more generous to these fellows as they seem to understand common decency. The girls around me obviously miffed that I had the cash to pay the whatever ransom they demanded, each looking at me with disgust and leaning far away.

Suck my dick. I had money, and you had none. I was getting released. The jail door slid to the right and he walked in. I waited patiently for him to come over and undo the chains that began to bruise my wrists. I looked at his hands expecting some cuff keys but confused to see a ball gag... He wouldn’t. Would he? He had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be paid a huge amount in cash and a continuous cash flow into the future if he released me.

“What are you doing with that?” I hesitantly asked. He ignored me, moving the ball gag closer to my face. I struggled and turned my head away with great effort. Whatever they did to weaken my body to this extent, I would need to find out. Missing his target twice, the guard's face scowled. It appeared like he was trying to put the ball gag on me without touching me. Was I that invaluable? Then why didn’t he accept my offer? I dodged his approaching hand a few more times.

It seemed to really annoy him. He hasn’t spoken a word since he got here. Yielding to my persistence, he grabs my hair and pulls my head close. Ouch, my hair was pretty short, I didn’t expect him to have such a strong grip.

Eh? Leaning forward due to his frightening iron grip, I see threads of black, flowing hair come from the corner of my eyes, obscuring my vision. It couldn’t be. My hair was already this long?! How long have I spent in this dungeon? Panicking, and with my vision half-covered, I begin thrashing around, the strain on my scalp only increasing due to my flailing. A “Nya!” escapes my lips.

The fuck? Nya? Since when did I regress to such a state? It felt instinctual. The pain, the panic, I just HAD to say ‘nya’. Of all the exclamations and profanities I could have hurled at this barbarian, my mind settled on a meow. Something was seriously wrong with me. They drugged me to Jupiter and back and now the aftereffects are showing.

Clutching my scalp and forcing my face to look at his, the guard shoved the ball gag in my face. Humiliated and overpowered, all I could do was stare into his eyes, conveying my rage. He seemed to cringe at my attempt (one could expect) and promptly raised his fists. Again?! “Wai-” A fist slammed into me.

As the darkness settled in once again, I think back to which of those slaves mentioned cookies. I agreed with their sentiment. I was feeling rather peckish, nya~

 

POV: Bartolt Helds

Slamming my fist into the side of that freak, she goes limp and slumps over to her side, face-first into a recent-looking hairball. Hitting her was more of an instinctual reaction than anything else, those eyes really creeping me out. Silence filled the room. I looked at the other five in the room, and they all seemed anxious and scared of what just occurred. I scratched the back of my head.

“Fuck. I guess you slaves can be relocated to a different cell.” The barest of smiles managed to cross their faces, one of their most pressing sources of discomfort being solved. I didn’t want to touch that black cat again, touching her hair was already stretching what I was willing to do. I opted to move the five of them instead of the one. I should report to the Lady. The slave that she purchased is a lively one.

AN: Here is the first chapter! Kuro is misunderstanding things... understandably, and we get some hints of the world outside her cell. I am blown away by the support the prologue received, definitely an encouraging sign when people enjoy your MC even if they are quite devious. I do have a rough idea of what I want to do in this story. No, Kuro will not get a gaming system and blast everybody away with OP magic. I want this story to revolve around Kuro scheming and resolving things using nothing but her brain. Thank you for reading! clear.png

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