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the little boy

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Five years ago, the Amanto arrived on Earth. At first, despite the surprise, they were welcomed. When they came, festivals thrived, and Earth became a center of trade for the entire universe. However, as years went by, the small group of Amantos turned into larger groups, demanding more as years went by--and eventually demanding that people stopped their way of the sword.

A war began, battlefields were common, and so was the legend of the Corpse-Eating-Demon. White hair matted with blood, holding a rusted sword in his arms as he idly ate. People suspected that the demon was an Amanto that looked like a human. Usually, wherever the battlefield was, the boy appeared.

But sometimes, he caused the battlefield.

The rumors of the demon eventually reached the epicenter of the battlefield, and to the ears of one Terada Tatsugoro.

The Amanto with a body of a human child, ruthlessly killing soldiers to survive and then proceeding to eat the corpse. Tatsugoro believed otherwise, however, idly carrying his kiseru in his mouth as he stared at the empty battlefield filled with decomposing corpses.

Tatsugoro and Jirocho eventually met the ‘Corpse-Eating-Demon’ after the first rumors began to circulate. Returning to the empty battlefield after a night’s rest, there was a boy with white hair that glowed in the sunrise. He sat on top of a corpse at the center of the battlefield, eating what seemed to be a bloodied rice ball.

The boy suddenly whipped his head around, his eyes landing on the two soldiers meters away from him. His posture tensed and then he returned to eat his rice ball. The boy’s eyes never left the two.

Jirocho was the first one to speak. “The infamous Corpse-Eating-Demon,” he said gruffly. A low chuckle emitted from him as he stared at the white-haired boy. “You seem very human, though. What are you, little boy?” 

He lifted a hand to pat the boy when the hand was suddenly slapped away, and in a blink of an eye, the boy was another meter away from them, his sword unsheathed.

“Don’t waste your breath on humans, brat,” Jirocho said. “Use it on the Amanto.”

The boy lifted his head at the dark-skinned man and pointed at the ground.

“Amanto,” the boy whispered.

The boy was pointing at a corpse of an Amanto with the head of a dog, lying lifelessly with all the other corpses--humans included. Even to Tatsugoro, the stench was horrible, and he found himself wrinkling his nose at the smell as he got closer to the white-haired boy.

“Why don’t you come with us?” Tatsugoro said. “You’ll get shelter and some food--and you won’t have to scavenge through the dead.”

Jirocho pulled Tatsugoro towards him, whispering sharply, “What are you doing? We’re already low on food as is!”

Tatsugoro gently lifted Jirocho’s hand from his worn clothes. He smiled and replied, “But who are we to abandon a young boy when he’s right in front of us? Besides, Ayano would have done the same.”

That seemed to freeze Jirocho. He clicked his tongue and looked away.

“That brat’s yours. You take care of him,” was all he said before he left.

A week later, Tatsugoro died, leaving the silver-haired boy once again, abandoned. Jirocho left the war, abandoning his child and the silver-haired boy. Never did he think that he would meet that same boy in the future.