Prologue: The Hornless Twins
──There exists a race called “Oni”.
In this world, humans were called the weak race that was the most abundant.
In this world, Demi-humans were called the race that was powerful to make up for the lack of numbers they had in comparison to people.
Onis and Humans looked like two peas in a pod with their appearances, but they were unmistakably true Demi-humans. They had the best body and mental strength for Demi-humans, and they earned the title as the world’s strongest race.
Should an Oni clan’s warrior appear on the battlefield, they’d wipe out thousands of soldiers. They would display powerful, unrivaled, almighty movements, and everyone would have stories to tell about that unmatched strength, their excellent magic techniques, and above all, the fascinating, shining white horns on their forehead.
However, all the activities and glory and such of the Oni clan admired in the legends were all things of the past.
In the present, the Onis had the multitude of their passed down anecdotes completely forgotten, and the race was slowly coming close to extinction.
The Oni clan’s downfall──there were two causes that stood out noticeably above the rest for the impending historical demise.
First of all, there was the fact that the Oni clan was too strong.
For many people, the Oni clan’s power that overwhelmed other races became something to fear and drive out. To put it appropriately, for the people afraid of the return of the “Witch of Envy”, it seemed really close to how the Elves became persecuted. Similarly, it’s said that in ancient times there was also a similar type of rejection towards giants.
Ironically enough, the Oni clan’s unrivaled power people found out about became the cause of other races making them their enemy.
And then there was the second cause, the Oni clan’s reproduction ability. Onis were strong as individuals, but on the other hand, their ability to bear children was remarkably poor, and they couldn’t increase their numbers like other races could.
The Oni clan population decreased rapidly as a result of that and the rejection from other races. They disappeared from the center stage of history, and they had to live in villages in the mountains. And so, even after that, the Oni clan’s numbers continued to decrease slowly──the destruction of the Oni clan’s final village was also now in front of their eyes.
[???: ──They’re twins.]
The midwife lifts the bloodstained baby, and she said that as her sweaty cheeks stiffened up.
The hoarse, tired speaking of the old woman makes everyone at that place open their eyes wide all at once. Meanwhile, what resounded throughout the gathering was the first cry of a baby that had just came out of her mother’s womb.
The twins born on this day were new life the Oni clan was looking forward to.
The one who raised her voice and cried very loudly was the younger sister. The older sister had already been picked up and lain on a white, clean cloth. She didn’t cry, but she opened her eyes.
She looks around the assembly hall with her light pink eyes, and lastly she stared at her little sister that was just born.
[???: Twins, they’re twins, meaning that…….]
The old woman who continued to hold onto the born twins repeats herself in a hoarse voice to make sure this was the reality.
That voice did not have the color of joy; it had only shock and acute sadness.
And everyone in this place felt the same way as the old woman, no exceptions.
[???: To think that you’d get pregnant with twins on this opportunity…….you’ve done something unbelievably foolish, Temae!!]
Inside the room ruled by surprise and sorrow, the one person who shook in anger was a gray haired old man. The old but muscular man shouts at the woman out of breath next to the midwife. The women that had just gave birth stiffens her pale face, and she shrieked at that angry voice.
[Quark: Setanta-sama! Temae……..my wife has done nothing wrong! My wife……..]
[Setanta: Be quiet, Quark! Do you even understand? Are you even aware of just how many expectations we had in you and Temae…….if you are, then keep your mouth shut!]
[Setanta: Chika! Hand me the baby!]
The husband, whose wife got shouted at, stood up, but a grey elder silences them in anger. The grey elder goes towards the assembly hall room, and he stretched his arms towards the old woman who was holding onto the baby that was still crying.
[Midwife: Chief, these children are……]
[Setanta: There are no exceptions to the law. No matter what anyone says, that’s final.]
The grey elder’s firm attitude makes the old woman lose her breath, and after that, she looked down at the baby in her chest. She gazes at the light pink eyes of the baby who wouldn’t cry, and the old woman holds out that baby to the grey elder
[Temae: Se─Senta-sama…….please have mercy………]
The twins’ mother begs for mercy from the grey elder while she sprawled on the futon wet with blood. However, the grey elder ignored those words, and he placed the baby he was given next to the one that was born first.
The newborn twin sisters. The quiet older sister, and the crying younger sister. The grey elder looks towards the younger sister’s forehead, and he said,───
[Setanta: One horn……..they’re cursed children after all.]
What protruded from the crying baby’s forehead was a bump that was white and the size an adult’s pinky.
It was an organ unique to the Oni clan, and also proof that she was an Oni; it was a “Horn”. Of course, everyone in this place had a horn. However, everyone had two of them.
[Setanta: The horns were divided and the twins were born lacking a horn. To think that I’d come across cursed children in my generation….]
[Temae: Chief! Can’t you……..can’t you have some mercy? To us, to this village, these are babies we’ve been waiting for!]
[Setanta: Quit it! There will be no mercy! There are no exceptions to the law, even if that means going into ruins as a result of protecting the law. Bending the law is unforgivable.]
The grey elder covered up the twins’ father’s shouting with a louder angry voice. The crying baby’s voice became even louder and stronger, perhaps because of the raise of emotion in their two voices.
The grey elder faces the wall to shake off the baby’s crying that filled the whole gathering, and he picked up the long sword that hung. It was a broken edged piece of iron, and it was used for rituals.
[Setanta: Cursed children shall not live. If they’re going to live disgraceful lives hornless, then the only way to show sympathy is cutting off that path right now when they’ve just been born.]
[Temae: M─My children…….]
Seeing the white older facing the twins with a long sword makes their gasping mother let out a heartbreaking voice. That sound causes pain to run across the grey elder’s profile, and when the grey elder blocked her vision with his own back, he said
[Setanta: Cover Temae’s eyes and ears. It’ll scar her.]
He was going to kill that child in front of the mother. The grey elder also knew just how cruel this act was.
The twins’ father holds down their exhausted, weak, resisting mother. Nobody went against the decision of the grey elder who was the chief. But, nobody tried to look away from that act.
The grey elder feels the readiness of those around him, and he raises the gripped sword. The grey elder bites his molars, focusing strength into his eyes, and two white, long horns protruded from his forehead.
Since they were born in the Oni clan village, it would be a death they could be proud of as Onis──.
The grey elder giving off his Oni spirit like a Rakshasa1 makes the baby raise her voice, and she cries as the intent to murder pierced her. This was the younger twin’s most powerful cry of all. The older twin looks at her with a side glance.
[Setanta: ──Forgive me.]
The situation burns into the white man’s memory at the end, and he faced the twins as he swung the long sword downward. The blow of the sword that held onto two lives went towards the twins’ thin heads flawlessly.
Wind envelopes the gathering. The grey elder who swung his long sword gets overwhelmed by the impact, and he backed off.
The grey elder steps on his heels with such force that it could have removed the wooden floor, and in response to the incident that happened just before, he opens his eyes wide. The old white man clearly saw what happened.
[Setanta: Was that……]
There was a white light being produced throughout the gathering in front of the grey elder, whose voice trembled in amazement. The two twins lying down on the floor──no, the light pink eyed older twin gave off the light.
On that baby’s forehead, there was only one horn. It was only a single horn, something abominable to the Oni clan. It was proof of being damaged, a symbol of being incomplete, an absence that defiled pride, the lack of a horn──and yet
Nobody could speak. They were all fascinated by that older twin’s white horn.
That was the beautiful, powerful, robust, and prideful proof of an Oni.
The Oni clan valued their pride and strength more than anything. That made the Oni clan what it was today.
That’s exactly why everyone in the gathering hung their heads and kneeled.
The grey elder, old woman, and the twins’ father and mother were no exceptions. All the Onis at that place kneeled as they submitted to the newly born peak of pride and strength.
This was the day when the Oni clan, which had their slow destruction right before their eyes, witnessed the birth of the final Oni god.
The Oni clan felt like it was their last hope, and also the last path to glory.
However, that was──
The younger twin stops her crying, and she reaches out gently towards the older twin beside her.
The older twin looks at her younger sister’s held out hand with squinted eyes. While surging enormous power from the sprouted horn on her forehead, the older twiw intertwines her fingers with the fingers of her other half.
The Oni clan’s hope, the arrival of a new Oni god, all those circumstances of the surrounding adults were nothing but trivial things to these girls who were brought into this world as twins.
1. [Being from hindu mythology]↩