Of Sin and Retribution
I returned the goddess’ gaze as I felt a fit of nervousness wash over me, to which she responded by raising a pair of fingers and speaking another line. 
「The Black Catkin are shackled, no, cursed, precisely because they’d incurred divine retribution. There are two manners in which this curse of theirs can be undone, each with their own unique conditions.」
I-I guess that must mean I’m not totally screwed? Whew! God damn, she had me shivering in my boots for a second there.
「The first of the two possibilities requires a single individual to slay either a single Evil Being ranked in at A or higher, or a thousand weaker ones. Fulfilling one of these two conditions releases that individual in particular from the curse, and allows them to evolve.」
Wait, is it really okay for me to know that? I could’ve sworn Rumina wasn’t allowed to say anything about it. Hadn’t the gods like totally gone out of their way to obscure the fact that Black Catkin could even evolve? Like I could’ve sworn they flat out deleted it from everyone’s memory.
「Your wielder has already evolved. Rumina isn’t restricted from discussing the topic with any other evolved Black Catkin, so she’s most likely going to tell you once time unfreezes regardless. Given that, I decided that I might as well tell you right now since that was what we were talking about anyway.」
『O-Oh, I see.』
But like, Urushi and I were kinda both there too, and neither of us were Black Catkin, let alone evolved ones, so wouldn’t Rumina ultimately not actually have to chance to tell Fran about the Black Cat Tribe’s circumstances? It seemed that they wouldn’t reach our ears even if the two ended up being able to discuss them amongst themselves too.
I mean, I’m not complaining or anything. I’m totally down for soaking up information because the goddess forgot she shouldn’t tell me or decided to be loose lipped or something.
「It’s fine. You’re allowed to tell any familiars you summon whatever you want, so the dog doesn’t count. And you’re one of my kin, so you don’t count either.」
Welp, she totally just read me like a book again. Wait. Did she just say what I thought she said? I kinda felt like I just happened to hear something that totally blew my mind.
『Did uh… you just say that I’m one of your kin?』
「Well, it would technically be more precise to say that I am one of the many individuals bound to you as kin.」
『C-Could you tell me a bit more about all that?』
「Nope, since we have to finish talking about evolution.」
Ugh… I mean I guess she’s right, but god damn did she get me curious.
「The other possible scenario requires the Black Cat Tribe to defeat either a S ranked Evil Being, or one of the Evil God’s kin without any assistance. Performing said feat would free not only the battle’s participants, but the entire Black Cat Tribe from their curse. They would once again regain their status as one of the Ten Original Tribes.」
Man, redeeming the whole race sounds kinda tough.
「It’s only fair given the graveness of their sin.」
『So uh, what exactly did they do to deserve all this anyways?』
I’d only just realized that the goddess kept going on and on about grave and mortal sins, but had actually refrained from mentioning exactly what it was the Black Cat Tribe had done.
「One of the Black Cat Tribe’s chiefs, or rather, one of the former Beast Lords, had undone the Evil God’s seal and allowed his clan’s members to absorb its power in order to bolster their combat prowess. It was a dangerous ploy, and one that had half succeeded.」
Wait, is absorbing the Evil God’s power actually different from turning into an Evil Being?
「It’s far worse than just that. A fair portion of the royal family’s members evolved into what I can only call a half Evil God, half-beastkin being. Half of the Black Catkin had succeeded in absorbing the Evil God’s power. However, many also became Evil Beings, lost control of themselves, and ended up being put down by their tribesman. We, the gods, couldn’t stand the sight of the Evil God’s powers being put to use in such a selfish manner. Thus, we eliminated the royal family and any other individuals that had obtained the Evil God’s power before administering the survivors with a punishment, one that hindered their ability to evolve.」
Well uh… apparently they did something much worse than what I’d been expecting them to do. Like, using the Evil God’s power to evolve into creatures that were effectively demi-gods clearly made it seem like they were picking fights with the actual gods. Like, I’m not really sure what else they’d expected to happen.
『Alright, I get that what they did was pretty serious.』
「You existing in your current state allows the Black Cat Tribe’s members to evolve without first atoning for their sins.」
The goddess didn’t glare me, but I kinda felt like she wasn’t exactly what you could call happy with me given the tone of her voice.
「I understand that the Black Cat Tribe’s members may consider evolution to be one of their greatest desires. That, however, fails to justify exploiting a loophole in the system and evolving without first making up for their mistakes. Continuing to circumvent their punishment is an act that can be regarded as yet another sin, one that would incur an even greater punishment.」
『An even greater punishment? Care to uh… elaborate?』
「I was just talking in terms of what ifs. I want you to understand just how serious the topic at hand is.」
『A-Alright, I get it.』
My interactions with the goddess led me to the conclusion that the gods were both terrifying and a huge pain in the ass to deal with. Yeah uh, her going out of her way to talk to me like this definitely meant I’d gotten myself into some deep ass shit.
『So uh, what exactly should I do? I mean, I understand that I shouldn’t use my powers to evolve anyone other than Fran, and I can swear I won’t.』
「I know that you really do mean what you just said, but, that alone isn’t enough. The fact stands that you’re a magical item capable of granting your wielder the ability to use the the Awakening skill, an item I cannot possibly allow to exist.」
She can’t allow me to exist? Does that mean she’s going to…
「Calm down. I don’t have any intention of doing anything as violent as eliminating you.」
Whew! Holy shit, and I glad she’s telling me that. She had me really worried there for a second. Man, that situation just there was probably the most dangerous one I’d ever been in.
「I’ll fix everything right away.」
『Huh? What’d you just do…?』
The Goddess of Chaos snapped her fingers and caused my blade to momentarily begin shining. I could tell that she’d done something to me, but I wasn’t too sure exactly what that something was.
「I’ve made it so you’re bound to your wielder.」
「Yup. I’ve made it so you can only have one wielder at once. No one else will be able to equip you until your current wielder dies. Anyone that forcibly does so anyway will receive retribution.」
『Whaddya mean by retribution?』
「Anyone that tries equipping you will be met with a form of punishment. Those that don’t know of your circumstances will just be slightly shocked. Those that do know of your circumstances will likely lose their lives as compensation.」
That’s hella terrifying, but it kinda didn’t really matter anyways because I hadn’t planned on letting anyone other than Fran equipping me to begin with. Hence, the end result was basically like me gaining a built in anti-theft device.
「I’ll also be taking the Awakening skill away from you just in case, and making it impossible for you to obtain it going forward.」
I was a bit disappointed by the fact that I wouldn’t get to use the skill myself at all, but, I didn’t really mind because I didn’t want to disobey the goddess, especially given how thorough she was being.
「Awakening only works on Beastkin to begin with, as it allows them to unleash the powers that lie dormant within them. There’s no point in you using it to begin with.」
Welp, I guess there really isn’t any point in me having the skill at all then.
「I’ll also make it so Rumina won’t be able to ever summon another Magic Beast capable of Awakening — not that she’d be able to for several hundred years anyway, given how much it’s exhausted her.」
『Oh, so does that mean Rumina was only all frail and stuff because she had to summon that magic beast?』
「That’s right. Rumina, as one of my kin, has been restricted in her ability to aid Black Catkin. She’s unable to speak about the subject, but that isn’t nearly all. I’ve also banned her from creating items capable of conferring the Awakening skill, and made it so that she’ll destroy herself if she helps any Black Catkin fulfill their evolution conditions.」
Wait, you serious!? Doesn’t that mean Rumina’s going to—
「Calm down. She’s not dead, nor will she die from what she’s done.」
『Even though Fran’s managed to evolve?』
「Yes, and though she provided assistance, it wasn’t direct assistance. She didn’t directly give the girl what she needed. She’d instead helped you help her. She’s lost a great deal of her power as a result, but she won’t die.」
Whew. That’s good. Fran would’ve felt really bad if she’d learned that her evolving had caused Rumina’s death.
「That said, I cannot allow the same thing to occur in the future, which is why I’ve now restricted her even further.」
Rumina seemed to have pushed herself quite a bit to make everything come together the way it did. I guess this also means that she wasn’t kidding when she’d asked Fran if she’d be willing to kill her in order to evolve.
「It would be unfair of me to take a skill away from you without compensating you in any which way, so I’ll switch your Awakening skill out for a different one.」
The goddess snapped her fingers once again.
I immediately looked at my stats because I was curious as to what had changed.
『Uhh… Evolution Concealment?』
「The skill does as its name suggests, and allows one to hide the fact that one has evolved, most notably from other beastkin.」
The Extra Skill I’d obtained seemed like a pretty damned good one. Having people find out about Fran’s newfound evolution would probably kick up a huge fuss, so it looked like it’d be one we could put to use immediately.
There was, however, a bit of a problem.
『Err… I think I just lost 5 Self-Evolution Points.』
「Just saying, you caused a problem significant enough to necessitate my interference. It’s only natural that I still do take something from you. Just be glad I did you a favour and decided to give you a new skill to replace the one I took away.」
Eh, you know what, the skill I got was worth it, so I guess I’ll just call it even, especially since I doubted anything would come out of me bitching and complaining anyways.
The goddess nodded as if satisfied after verifying that I wasn’t going to voice any more complaints. She then started floating into the air and growing transparent.
「My business here is done, so I’ll be taking my leave.」
Realizing that the goddess was totally leaving caused me to immediately begin questioning her.
『Hey wait! There’s still something I want to ask you! Just what the hell am I? You must know, right? Given how you said I’m one of your kin and all that?』
I couldn’t help but ask her about myself seeing as how she was one of the first people to have a clear idea as to exactly what I was.
「Well… Telling you that isn’t something I’m supposed to be responsible for, so I guess I’ll just give you a hint. Go meet the god-tier blacksmith that resides in the Beastkin’s Country.」
『You mean the one the Beast Lord rules?』
I recalled that Old Man Gallus had stated that all of the god-tier blacksmiths were MIA…
However, the goddess’ words seemed to imply that his words hadn’t necessarily been correct. Did that mean that the Beast Lord secretly had one serving him or something? Heading to the Beast Lord’s country didn’t exactly sound easy. It was on a different continent, and led by one of our enemies. There was no way I could go, especially not with Fran in tow seeing as how it’d put her in danger.
「The Blacksmith in question may be able to provide you with additional information, though, I cannot say for sure this will really be the case.」
『So not even you know?』
「I don’t. Not even we, the gods, can predict the future.」
『Even though you’re gods? Being able to see into the future totally seems like a god-like thing to do…』
「The fact remains that we can’t. You, and many others seem to have made the mistake of assuming that gods are capable of determining one’s fate and reading into what’ll happen later down the road, but that isn’t the case. Despite that, many believe in destiny. They think that the gods govern the precise ups and downs of their lives.」
You know, that is kinda true. Even I kinda ended up thinking that me meeting Fran was an act of fate.
「They think that the gods have all under their control, that the world follows a precise, predetermined blueprint.」
『Yeah, I get what you mean. I mean, a lot of people don’t actually believe in something that exaggerated, but there are a good deal of people who believe in something kinda along those lines.』
「But you see, there wouldn’t be a need for me to appear to you as I had if that were the case.」
『You’ve got a pretty good point, now that you mention it.』
「Destiny doesn’t exist. Fate is nothing but a series of coincidences. What I mean is, you are responsible for what happens to you, regardless of whether that thing happens to be good or bad.」
I guess that means that me meeting Fran was just a coincidence?
「Exactly. You meeting her was just a coincidence. You two being capable of working together as well as you do is also a coincidence. Likewise, you meeting all the right people along the way was also a coincidence, one I would even call a miracle.」
For some odd reason, hearing the goddess’ declaration kinda made me feel a bit embarrassed.
「I’ve already said quite a bit, but I’ll throw in one last statement. I, as the goddess of Chaos, am expecting something great from the two of you.」
Her words made me kinda happy, an emotion I actually wasn’t really sure whether or not it was okay for me to be feeling given the current circumstances.
「Fufufufu. That’s a question I don’t know the answer to.」
『Hey, wait up!』
「Farewell. I bid you a nice, healthy dose of chaos.」
The goddess disappeared after voicing one final, sinister-sounding line. I couldn’t help but feel as if she’d totally just cursed me.
 Localized. What she actually does is raise a finger as she talks. This normally involves placing it near one’s face, and in general is an action that’s supposed to have a bit of cuteness to it. I couldn’t figure out how to make this work in such a way that its meaning could be intuited by an English reader, so I said fuck it.