The Beastman Alliance, Bestia. Capital City, Lafae.
Tens of thousands of years ago, the first Beastmen walked the continent of Bestia. Tribal beings, the Beastmen would often stay in their own communities, forming little pockets of civilisation that ruled over their distinct regions. The Harpies reigned supreme over high mountain tops—the Mermaids with their freedom in the oceans. And an array of different Beastmen races inhabited the vast lands of their continent, regularly fighting wars to decide who would get to rule the landmass.
Unlike the other major races, the Beastmen weren't unified by blood. In fact, the term 'Beastmen' wasn't accurate as a description of their race since the 'Beastmen' consisted of many various ethnic groups. Some seemed to have inherited the blood of the Angels, while others were closer to the Demons.
They didn't have distinct advantages that the Elves or Giants had when it came to magic. Neither did they have the brains of a dwarf or the flexibility to do anything that the humans had.
Therefore, throughout their long history, Bestia and the Beastmen that lived within the continent had been routinely invaded by the other races. Humans would take some of the physically superior Beastmen as slaves to mend their crops while Giants would take the weaker, but more intelligent races as servants to their race.
And all of it was possible because of how divided the Beastmen were. Tribes would never intermingle and they never once unified under the same banner.
Until the Beastmen revolution, that is.
About five hundred years ago, the Tribe Chieftains of every major Beastmen race decided that they had enough of being pushed around. They hated the fact that invaders viewed them as a weaker breed and were auctioning them as items. And thus, they set their differences aside and founded the world's most ambitious nation to date… The Beastman Alliance.
The tribes threw away their communities and moved into cities developed by the Loxodons, anthropomorphic elephantine humanoids that had mastered the art of engineering. The Lionins, a race of half-lion, half-man, that had both brains and brawn took charge of the military. The Mermaids ruled the Navy, eventually becoming the world's greatest aquatic force. The Felines, Wolfias, Lizardfolks and Ratmins all joined in the union as well, and since they were all good at physical labour, they built the new Beastman Alliance from the ground up.
Lafae, the Capital of the Beastman Alliance was a testament to their monumental merger.
Since then, the Beastman Alliance had grown from an insignificant force to one of the world's superpowers. Alongside the United Houses of Egan, the Beastman Alliance was one of the two superpowers that had a military surpassing ten million. Besides, they had the largest population in the world, which allowed them to amass a significant amount of S-Rankers.
In short, the Beastman Alliance of today was no longer the weak organisation that had been pushed around by their racially superior neighbours. However, when an empire has no enemies to face… it begins to eat itself from within.
"Hah… Hah… Hah..."
Heavy pants echoed within the confines of the Lafae ghetto. A young Ratmin girl shuffled her feet rapidly through the dirt, trying her hardest not to garner anyone's attention. Her face was covered in mud and obscured by the ruffled, curly hair that hung down to her eyes. Her rat ears and tail were tensed up as if they were trying to rush back into the petite woman's body.
The Ratmin girl clung both her hands tightly against her chest and bent her back down. Every few seconds, she would raise her line of sight just to confirm her path and that no one was paying any heed.
The Ratmin girl didn't want to disturb the vagrants and paupers that lived in the ghetto, but the truth was… no one really cared about her.
Groans of pain and agony could be heard throughout the underdeveloped land, a sight that wasn't uncommon in the underbelly of the magnificent city. The people who were gathered here were the underclass, the poor that had been forsaken by history and left to rot in a place where the affluent people would never see. In due time, their lives would be forfeit, either through disease or a violent fight.
It was a disgusting sight, and no one in the ghetto denied it. If Lafae was the metropolis that the Beastman Alliance wanted the world to see, then the ghetto was the dirt that was hidden from the world. Very few people outside of Bestia knew about the worst place in Lafae, and those within the country that knew about it… simply turned a blind eye.
Thus, in a place where everyone was suffering, no one would bother the unsocial girl who seemed to have leapt out from a trash can.
The Ratmin girl continued on the path, leapfrogging past dozens of trash piles and bypassing other Beastmen that were sleeping on the roads. Fortunately, no one stopped to check her, and the girl was able to reach her final destination without any hiccups.
"F-Finally home..." Emi heaved a sigh of relief as she entered a makeshift tent.
The tent wasn't made out of steel or wood, just simple rags that could be found at any furniture store. However, unlike the expensive rags that could cost hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, the cloths that made Emi's home were all worn out. Poorly stitched patches zigzagged the entire canvas, and some even had minor holes. It might be a comfy stay for a relaxing summer day on the beach, but the tent was hardly able to withstand the colder seasons.
Fortunately, Emi's tent was located under a concrete bridge, which sheltered her from the rain. However, with no heating or cooling system, the young Ratkin girl was subject to the whims of the weather god.
But Emi didn't care about that today… Today, she had a special treat for herself…
Emi unwrapped the cloth that was stuck between her breasts and revealed three rings of doughy delight. They were still piping hot as if they were taken straight out of the oven and that warmth made Emi forget about her woes for just a single moment. She made sure that her tent was sealed, lest the smell of her hard-earned meal were to escape and lure in the vultures. And before long… Emi could finally reap the benefits of her hard work.
"Ah… How I missed you..." Emi grinned from ear-to-ear. She licked one bagel first to tease her tongue into an elongated sense of euphoria. Then, she placed the other two on her cheeks, just to warm her icy cold face up. It was heaven.
As much as she wanted to indulge in her meal, Emi knew that there wasn't much time to be wasted. Any time now, there might be a wandering vagrant that would pass by her tent. If they got a whiff of her heavenly delight, a raid would be inevitable.
Emi had worked over a month just to save enough for this treat, there was no way that she would let anyone steal her bagels away. She munched and munched, breathing in the best food that she would ever get in days. Heaven, heaven, heaven! Emi continued to declare in her mind. Until eventually...
"They're gone..." Emi was in a trance, and she didn't notice that she had taken the final bite. "Hah… There goes my month's quota..."
The Ratmin could still smell the sweet aroma of the bread sent from the heavens. Crumbs that remained on her filthy robes were devoured like whale sharks eating plankton so that Emi could experience her bliss for just a few moments more…
But with her bagels gone… it was back to hell.
"Should I go and buy more? No… I have no more money…"
Emi took a look into her wallet and saw a measly seven coins. Add them all up, and they were barely enough to get a slice of stale bread. Emi bit her lower lip and threw herself onto the second-hand mattress at the centre of her tent. Since there was no money for food, all she could do was sleep.
"Money… Money… If only I had all the money in the world..." Emi thought to herself. "I would buy all the bagels in the world! I would buy a nice house to live in! And I would..."
The Ratmin girl reached to the side of her bed and into the tight crevice. She pulled out the only valuable that she had, a poster of yet another Ratmin girl. However, unlike Emi, the Ratmin girl in the poster had a healthy figure. Her hair was as shiny as the pearls in the ocean, and her complexion was too fair to be considered a Ratmin. It was almost like porcelain. She had a perfect bosom and a curvaceous body that would make any man drool. And most importantly, the Ratmin in the poster had a face that Emi could only dream about.
Emi then took out a stained mirror and placed it in front of her face. She paused for a moment, not knowing whether she wanted to continue. But eventually, Emi's hands moved all on their own. She lifted up her heavy bangs hesitantly and closed her eyes. Emi knew what was in the mirror, she just didn't want to accept it. But then… how could a woman deny her own face?
With a flickering gaze, Emi opened her eyes. The image of a young Ratmin woman was reflected back at her, but that Ratmin woman was nothing like the poster she held in her other hand. Emi had two scars, one on her cheek, the other on her forehead. Filled to the brim with boils and acne, the Ratmin's face wasn't the flawless porcelain that she so desired. Far from it in fact.
In terms of beauty, Emi had none of it. Her body was hollow and bony, lacking the healthy complexion needed to attract a mate. Her face was torn apart and had turned into an abhorrent view. Though, it may have turned out to be a good thing in the ghetto since no men would come near her.
Still, it wasn't what Emi wanted.
Emi's wish was simple. It was simple, yet it seemed so unattainable for a person like her.
"If I had all the money in the world… I would make myself pretty and..."
Emi's cheeks flushed as her imagination ran wild. She had always been alone. An orphan with no family and no one to rely on. So, she always had one dream. A dream that was akin to a fairy tale.
"I will find my prince!"
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