“What?! A Gashadokuro?! You must be joking!”, Sakaki exclaimed.

Sakaki managed to singlehandedly take down the Pontianak while I took care of Nadiah. Everyone is camped outside of town to avoid the sickening stench of corpse.

“Y-yes, a Karma passed through town a few days ago in pursuit.”, said Nadiah.
“The last one appeared half a century ago…” he whispered as he scratched his head.

A famine broke fifty years ago in the Western region when the Northern territory of Raven Heart just having subjugated the West. Many people believe that the West lost because of the shortage in food supply when their crops died due to the sudden drop in temperature. The situation didn’t improve after the conquest, and finally, a Gashadokuro appeared in a small city of Nark. It took demon hunters a month to track it down and another 3 days to slay it.

A Gashadokuro spawns from the bones of the dead in a famine, its strength fuelled by the vengeance immediately prior to their passing. They are very stealthy demons indeed. These abominable ossifications accelerate the downfall of humanity, serving a catalyst of doom, induce a vicious cycle that prey on humans who are also about to fall to famine. They feed on their bones and can burgeon in size and power.

“So where’re you guys headed?” asked Nadiah.
That question never really came to mind… All I did so far after my mentor passed was roam around the East in vain finding clues on the death of my parents. I don’t even know where to begin… I look to Sakaki with my brows raised.

“What? I’m the one following you.”, he responded to my gesture.
“Hahahah, I like the dynamic here!”, Nadiah cheered gleefully.
“No. I guess… We’ll help the demon hunter find the Gashadokuro?”, I replied. “Do you know which direction did he or she go?”
“Last I heard, she was on her way to the town of Temp Pines up ahead. Just so happens that I am heading there as well, I can show you the way there.”, said Nadiah.

We spent the rest of the morning learning from Nadiah on the condition of the Southern Region — Nadiah is a native of the South.
The Regional Government began rolling out policies pertaining to collectivised farming a year ago. This meant every harvest now belongs to the government and shall be dispensed as they see fit. Farmers would no longer profit from the fruits of their labour.

“The government stole the farmers’ land…”, griped Nadiah, sounding distressed and irritated.

Most of the farmer that relied on this income for their livelihood, many breadwinners. And a large portion of the discontent were slaughtered during a rebellion, sapping the profession of numbers and expertise leaving fewer and inexperienced left, leading to a slow, continued bleeding that showed no sign of attenuating, ultimately leading reduced harvests. It didn’t take long before famine broke out.

“The farms are still owned by the government. They sit on their asses shoving their pie holes full as the commoner of the land starve, and has been like this for a while. This is absurd.”, said Nadiah.
“Does the top brass in the Northern Region know what is happening here?” I asked.
“No, they don’t. The regional government is falsifying reports and the people here are too weak to fight back. First the war with the North, which they ultimately lost and now famine because of a corrupt government. The region is always destined to lose.”

Come to think of it, very few travel to the south as they are considered “barbaric” and “unstable” as they have just been conquered by Raven Heart a decade back. Traditionally speaking, the South does not have Karma, they simply don’t have any and no one knows why, be it historians or locals. It is a miracle they survived through the ages.

“This is unforgivable.”, said Sakaki, clenching his fist. “Can’t we do anything about it, Karen?”
That question caught me off guard. I’ve never seen him this furious, especially at someone, or an entire governing body whom he never met. I haven’t the slightest clue on how to respond.

He wants to help the people, he’s more than just killing demons. I guess he has grown a lot since we parted ways a few years back.
“I… I don’t know…”, I replied. “I don’t know if us commoners can do anything about the situation at hand.”