“You want to buy a slave?!”
A shout reverberated in the room.
The location is the living room of the Freyhart’s household. Before I headed to the slum, I discussed with Ethan about this decision.
The moment I told him my intentions, he shouted so loudly it probably reached the ears of Lylian who is at the second floor. Fortunately, she didn’t come down, most likely because she is still busy nursing Elinalise.
“Can you tone it down a bit? We have a person recovering” I warn Ethan. This is a topic I don’t want Elinalise hearing right now in her current state.
“Oh yeah, sorry. It was just so sudden I couldn’t control myself”
Ethan shows an apologetic gesture with both hands, and then, returning to his previous pose, he narrows his eyes and asks: “And? Why are you looking to buy a slave? I will have you answer this before advancing the topic”
Ethan’s gaze was sharp, and he showed no signs of backing down in this question. Firmly stating the need for an explanation.
Slaves in this world are not that different from what I learned in books at my previous world. They are treated as tools, forced heavy jobs, used to relief desires, to fight others battles. Basically, anything the master itself wouldn’t want to do, the slaves do it, and everything the master wants the slave to do, it will have to comply.
In this world, this practice is viewed as normal and it is common in nobles. Of course, there are ways for the common populace to obtain slaves as well. Not all are luxurious or high spec.
But that doesn’t change the fact that some people view this practice as disgusting.
Ethan is probably one of those. His eyes show that he doesn’t like the idea from the get-go. I can tell that depending on my answer here, he will decide if he will cooperate with me or not.
“I will be honest here. I don’t intend to accompany Elinalise in her Journey of Knowledge. You must have noticed already right? The reason why I had her act with the party and me staying back. Elinalise clings way too much to me. This is probably caused by the fact that I was the first person she could rely on, and the false sense that everyone else will only suffer if she is with them. That if it’s me, it will be okay”
“… You stood back and let her notice that she could actually solve those problems if she tackled them. That way, she will realize that it is not only you she can rely on and that there are other options out there”
“Yeah. It will probably take time but she will soon realize that the necessity for me to be by her side will lessen and her sense of need is not actually that necessary”
As expected of Ethan. If it’s about Elinalise, he will be able to notice it instantly even without being in the scene. And his adamant mentality of not accepting that Elinalise likes someone else, makes him think in other perspectives.
What Elinalise is experiencing right now is close to a suspension bridge effect. A love brought by the circumstances at that moment. And in reality, she barely knows about me, she can barely talk to me, but she still shows abnormal levels of clinginess.
I can’t say that love won’t be born in that kind of way, but it definitely won’t be born in me that way.
“And I already told you this, I have another objective. That’s why I can’t go. I will be going to the Beast race continent, and I considered having a slave would be a safer bet”
“… I see”
Ethan places a hand on his chin and leans his back to the chair.
Slaves are mostly beast race, so having a beast race when going there is the better choice. Humans won’t be going there willingly and I will most likely have to switch party members a lot in my journey, that will ultimately be leaving me at the beast race continent.
Also, the biggest reason is because of the Double-edge class. Not like I will be saying this here though.
After a while, Ethan faces forward again and looks at me. His expression showing worry.
“I may be diverging here but, Youma, did something happen at the Forest of Beginnings in the 2 weeks you were locked there? It’s okay if you can’t tell me. It’s just that… your attitude has changed. How to say it, the first time I met you, I felt like you were having fun, as if you were looking forward to the future. But now, it is like… I don’t know how to explain it well, but it feels as if you have lost all of that drive and are just madly rushing forward against your will. Really, there is no need to tell me, but as a benefactor of Lady Elinalise and a friend, this has been bothering me”
Was I really acting that different?
I, I didn’t notice at all.
… Yeah, now that he mentions it, it really might be the case.
After meeting with World and learning the truth, all that has been in my mind is how to reach that objective as soon as possible. And I have turned too much of my attention to my previous world creating more stress inside of me.
Compared to the time when I came here with the idea that I already died, I definitely am acting different now. My expectations of this world were clouded and I was about to fall into a spiral.
“It’s true, I have been acting weird right? I can’t tell you the details, but what you are saying is totally right. It has to do with this objective of mine.
Thanks Ethan, thanks to you I was able to notice at an early stage” I lower my head in gratitude.
“It’s okay. I’m glad to see I was of help”
Really, I was about to mess up big.
My master once said: ‘If you don’t balance the things you have to do between the times you have fun, you will end up destroying yourself eventually’.
I didn’t know it was such a hard thing to do, until now. I was truly blinded.
Even so, Ethan was able to see through me so well in such a brief period of time. His eyes are truly sharp.
“Well then, I feel like I understand your reason to get a slave now. I will be teaching you everything that’s needed to know. Really, it is great that you came to me first. Buying a slave is not something a beginner should do without previous knowledge after all”
Ethan claps his hands and returns to the subject.
The lecture begins now.
I was taught that the slave market is located in the slums. Explaining me the details about the slum itself, he proceeded to tell me about the existence of the ‘Carrier’, a person that is most necessary when entering this slums.
After that, he took out a badge that represents the Freyhart name and gave it to me, telling me that with this I shouldn’t have much problems getting the services of the ‘Carrier’.
“Are you sure it is okay to give me such an important thing?” I asked.
“Yeah, don’t worry. Actually, it makes me happy that I am able to be of help to you” Ethan responds, mixing a laugh in between.
He then tells me the basics of the slums, and the route I should take to reach the ‘Carrier’. There are a few thugs hiding in the entrance area for clueless prey, so using this pre-established route, you are able to avoid problems.
He drew a map with detailed instructions on how to arrive and gave it to me. Then, he warned me that I should always demand the gloves from the ‘Carrier’. “Well, since you have the badge there’s no need to worry about it, but just in case”, he added.
After all that, he got closer to me and his serious eyes turned even more serious.
“Now I will talk about the Slave Market. Make sure to listen caaarefully, got it?”
“Yeah, I will”
“If you mess up, take in mind that it will ruin your whole life. No exaggerations”
I nod and perk up my ears to listen carefully.
—Back at the Slave Market.
The moment I entered the doors of the Slave Market, my whole vision turned a shade darker. The air was hard to breathe in and it reeked with the stench of blood. The screams I could hear from outside pierced through my ears in a volume incomparable from before.
The slim man walking by my side still had that same smile in his face and it even seemed as if he were enjoying the screams as if it were BGM.
“Sorry for the late introductions customer, my name is Birben, the Slave Merchant that manages this place. Feel free to call me as you please” The Slave Merchant introduces himself while we continue to walk.
Several cages were lined up at both sides as if creating a path. In those cages, what seemed to be humans with animal parts in their bodies, what are called beast race, were chained there. Some were just left there rotting, clear signs of not bathing for weeks, maybe months; flies orbiting around them. Their bodies were famished to the point that there was more bone than flesh. Others were being whipped. For what reason? I don’t know. But the person doing the whipping was clearly enjoying it, laughing, bashing them.
“Customer, may I ask you what is it you are looking for? Is it a slave for ‘personal’ use? Let me warn you first, we have no fresh goods in this establishment. To get those you would have to go to the center of the capital after all. Hehehe”
The slave merchant laughs in a disgusting way.
What he probably meant is ‘Don’t look for high quality products, we don’t have those here’.
This place is mostly cheap slaves for commoners. The one for high-tier products is located in the center of the city and you need proof that you are a noble. A badge would not suffice and, most likely, my pocket neither.
“A strong slave would be good. It doesn’t have to be strong though, I am fine with one that has talent in that aspect”
“Hohoh, so you are looking for a fighting companion?”
“I see. That’s an unusual request. Heheh”
The Slave Merchant moves his head up and down, and places a hand on his chin, making an expression as if pondering.
Then, he turns his head towards me and asks: “About what price range you looking for?”
“5g, hohoh, that’s a pretty luxurious slave you are looking for there”
The slaves here are in average 3 gold, so the surprise of the merchant was clear.
There’s probably no slave here that costs 5 gold, but if there is, I wouldn’t mind buying it as long as it fits the needs.
“I would like to see all the slaves you recommend for battle. I don’t mind if it’s higher than 5 gold”
“Understood, customer. Wait here please”
The Slave Merchant opens a door and invites me in. At that place, I see a spacious room with nothing but a sofa and a desk at the far edge of the room.
I took seat and waited.
After a short while, the Slave Merchant enters again, accompanied by a giant builded man pulling a long chain.
He yanks the chain several times and then, slowly, people with ragged clothes and animal parts entered the room as well.
Their bodies were famished too and even when the stench is not as bad as outside, they still smelled slightly. They were probably given a shower just a few moments ago, but it still wasn’t enough to completely wash off the smell.
The slaves lined up obediently into an horizontal line, all facing downwards, with no energy detectable from any of them.
At closer inspection, I could see traces of different types of wounds, some old, some very recent. Whipping, blunt objects, burning; the wounds were really varied.
“Sorry for the wait customer. Here we have the slaves, carefully selected to match your preference for a battle companion. They are the best of the best we have. Their fighting prospects are pretty high”
The Slave Merchant says so and begins to promptly introduce the slaves.
Wolf, dog, cat, fox and monkey. Those were the five he talked about. If I had anything to say about this, it would be… they didn’t show any promise.
I stood up and got closer to them.
I tried speaking. Ignored.
I tried touching. No reaction.
I tried slapping one lightly. No reaction.
Then, I stared at their eyes. They were completely dead, no light in their eyes. It was as if their soul itself had been extracted from their bodies.
Even when I try to make them face me, their eyes were not looking at me at all.
“Birben” I called the merchant.
“Did you really bring people here?”
Birben stays silent for a moment, and then: “Ohohohoh!! ‘People’, that’s a good one customer. What we handle here are slaves, tools. What better companion than one that will follow every order without a single complain?”
Placing both hands on his stomach, he laughs wildly, his voice resounding in the room. The giant build man also accompanied him in the laugh.
He must have honestly thought of it as funny. Seeing as how the ‘battle’ slaves are being treated in this world, it is of no surprise.
Slaves used for battle are normally treated as kamikazes. They will be sent to the frontlines of strong bosses to weaken them; to wars; as betting tools in arenas.
The ones found here are normally faced with these fates.
“Then customer, what will it be?”
None of this people convince me. He says they have potential in battle, but he is most likely talking about their racial characteristics. But what’s most important for me is their spirit and the ones here are completely wrenched out. No matter how much I try, I will never get the all out of them, that’s how I felt.
“I want to see the other slaves as well”
“With pleasure, dear customer”
And so, I toured the whole slave market.
It wasn’t a pleasant stroll, and it can be easily described with a single word: Gruesome.
I couldn’t take how inhumanly they were treated, to the point that I was now sure as to how their very souls were gouged out of their shell.
The Slave Merchant by my side talked in detail about how they ‘handled’ the slaves, as if he were proud of their merchandize management. A beaming smile on his face, totally contrasting the gloom mood in the surroundings.
I could see people from the Beast race and people with pointy ears that are characteristic of the Spirit race. But there’s one race I don’t see.
“Are there no demons here?”
“Eh?” Birben makes a stupefied expression at my question.
Then, he begins laughing like last time.
“Ohohoho, customer, you really have a great sense of humor. There’s no way we would have demons in this measly establishment. No, I don’t think there’s a single slave market that could actually hold a demon”
“Are they so strong?”, strong enough to go against the slave contract?
“Indeed they are. Of course, with a specially strong slave contract you would be able to keep one as a slave, but the masters normally end up unwittingly being utilized by them, so it is a risky purchase people normally don’t take. Moreover, capturing one is practically suicide. If you are able to catch a live one, you would already be considered a legend. No one would want to stir the hornet’s nest”
Heh~, so demons are viewed so highly. Information about races is really hard to come by, so I extracted as much info from the Slave Merchant that handles the races. It was extremely biased info, but I can’t be picky.
I was about to give up on the slave, but I didn’t want to. I wanted to get a slave by today, so I was determined to walk all the slave market for it. I didn’t want to return another day.
A sudden roar echoed in the slave market.
“Oh, that is a rebellious product that got here a few days ago. We are planning on disposing of it soon though. A defective product”
For the first time, the Slave Merchant makes a displeased expression.
That roar just now was totally different from the screams that can be heard continuously in this place. It was filled with hate, opposition.
I immediately headed to the direction of that roar. This may be the last chance I get, and I have a good feeling about it.
The moment I arrived…
“What is this?” I immediately voiced out, not a question, but a reflexive statement out of wonder.
In front of me, there’s a cage, a cage sturdier than any other I have seen in this place. The interior is stained in marks of blood. And chained in the middle of that cage, there’s a single lone boy.
His head was hanging down and his breathing was extremely ragged. Arms were chained upwards and his legs were chained down to the ground. Because of this, it was easy to see how tall he really is.
Around 1.3m, it is a young looking boy. Yet, his body is clad with extremely defined muscles. His whole body looked like armor, and yet, that armor was filled with cuts, burns, bruises; all of them surpassing the amount of any slave I have seen, even with his small build.
“Customer, hiuh… huuhh~, don’t go running off please. I am no good with anything physical”
The Slave Merchant catches up. For someone with a slender build, his physical ability is below average. Well, maybe that explains the level 17.
“Birben, I want to enter the cage”
“Eeh?! Enter the cage? Customer, that kid’s from the Striped Lion race, a savage race that hunts mana beasts and feeds in their blood and flesh. Even a small one could easily defeat any mana beast in the Forest of Beginnings. He may be chained down,but it is still too dangerous to approach”
Heh~ this small one is able to defeat all mana beasts in the Forest of Beginnings?
[??? Lvl: 21 Class: Striped Lion]
I can’t picture him as someone capable of soloing a Blood Bear though. Maybe he isn’t counting that one?
“I don’t mind, let me in”
“Hah… Customer is an adventurous one”
Birben sighs and calls one of the big men standing guard. After receiving a key from him, he proceeds to open the cage.
“Tread with care”
I step inside and walk slowly to the boy.
Once I reach a certain distance, I stop.
The boy that was hanging down his head, slowly raises his head and two yellow pupils glare at me. Shining strangely in the dim cage.
After a moment of silence, he lunges at me with his mouth fully opened. Aiming at my throat.
But the chains easily restrain him as soon as he reaches the limit which was really close to my location.
Being so close to him, I noticed several things. Round ears, one ear has an injury as if it was bitten off, the wound festering; a tail with stripes, totally mangled and unable to show any sort of flexibility, as if the bones within were completely crushed; and what gave me the biggest impression, those eyes. The eyes were shining strong and vividly. They were eyes that I could feel flame from within, unlike any other I have seen until now.
Even with all the terrible treatment he has received, he was still able to hold onto those eyes.
“Kill… scum… destroy!!”
Hoh? He can speak as well.
“Nice to meet you, my name is Youma” I place a knee onto the blood stained floor and enter the same eye height as him, speaking in a low and gentle tone, making sure he is the only one picking this conversation.
“Meat… thrash… piece of… shit”
But he continues thrash talking. No, maybe that’s the only words he knows? Picking up the only words he has heard in this place.
After a while of looking at him intently, his tongue stopped. His glare didn’t wane though.
Then, he opened his mouth again, and the words that came out were a surprise.
“Human scum, I will destroy every single one of you. This pain, this suffering, I will repay it!”
His words suddenly came out clearly, but there was a great difference. For some reason, I could tell that this was… not human language.
“Taking me away from my village, abducting all children by luring them out. Using such underhanded methods!”
He continued to mutter, his words filled with hatred as he looks at me as if cursing me. Even though I had nothing to do with this incident, he is placing this sin towards the whole human race.
I turn my head slightly towards my back, where the slave merchant is.
“This kid is saying something in a strange language”
“Oh, that would be the beast race language. He is the only kid that dares to speak that filthy language in this establishment. Every other has already received our earnest education and stopped moving its mouth, but this one just doesn’t learn. We thought about cutting off his tongue, but one of our men lost 3 fingers trying to. We were planning on disposing of it soon anyways, so there was no need to risk it more”
So it is really the beast race language. I can comprehend everything this kid is talking, and I’m pretty sure it is in beast race language.
I can differentiate it somehow.
Then, if that’s possible… maybe I can speak it as well?
“Nice to meet you, I’m Youma” I try saying something simple in beast language first.
“!!!” And it showed an immediate effect. The boy’s eyes opened wide and his mouth stopped abruptly, hanging open.
Then after a while, he glares at me once again and showed me his sharp incisors, saying: “Who are you?”
Hm? It didn’t work?
“Nice to meet you, I’m Youma” I repeat.
“Are you making fun of me, human?!” This time he roars.
Okay, seems like it does work. Great. What a convenient ability. This will make things a lot easier.
“In no way. I am here to free you from this place”
“I don’t need no human helping me!”
“You don’t want to return to your home?”
“!! You, no, I won’t listen to what you say”
“If you stay in this place, you will never be able to return. You will stay here and most likely be disposed of” From what I heard just now, his home should still exist. They were abducted, not attacked directly.
“I will not take help from a human”
A stubborn kid. He turns his eyes away. It’s a clear sign of him wavering.
“Tell me kid, do you have a dream?”
“A dream?” He asks me back, his eyes were still showing slight hostility, but it was in a level where he was slowly turning more obedient in talking.
“Yes, something you want to aim for, anything”
“I want to go back!” With no hesitation, he shouted this words. Along with those words, deep hatred.
“I see. I’m looking for a partner to travel to the Beast race continent. Once I arrive there, I will let you return to your home, how about it?”
“How can I believe in the words of a human?”
“Well, time will tell”
I smile at him.
He didn’t sound convinced, nor did he trust me at all. He was still glaring and was still showing me his incisors.
But I didn’t come closer to make him trust me, it was to confirm if he was the partner I was looking for.
Making him trust me will come with time. There’s no way something so deeply seethed inside of him will disappear in the short time I’m here, in a situation where he is chained and wounded.
Being able to speak with him was just a happy extra.
The moment I saw those eyes, my decision was already cemented.