“Mistress Carmen and Eri are in there, I could smell them and the others,” Ren says as she points to the larger tent we’re standing next to.
“Allow me.” Lili approaches the tent and effortlessly trails her claw-like finger through the tapestry as she did with the webbing on my cocoon earlier, making a big enough hole for me to fit into.
I peek inside first to assess the situation. Like one would see in a market, there are two straight paths on each side of the tent. Cultists are walking along the paths on patrol with lines of cages on each side like those circus animals would be kept in, only … the amenities that are inside them make the space surprisingly homier than I thought. There are things similar to Japanese futons folded up and set aside to make space while seat cushions are provided in each cage, probably since slaves are instructed to present and sell themselves as best as they can manage for potential customers that walk by. From the looks of the broken, but previously cheap tableware, the slaves were having a meal when the White Rapture attacked. Despite the signs of struggling and bruises, the slaves are actually much cleaner than I expected, giving them a more attractive appearance. Taking a quick glance at Ren, I wasn’t even aware of how clean she already was when she got to Lili’s window. I’d be amazed if this world had soap, but it looks like the slaves have access to a source of water to clean their bodies in some manner.
The general living conditions for these slaves are minimal, but if I were put up for slavery in this world and this is how they’re treated until sold, I’d be totally tolerant of the situation in these circumstances. Mom and I had more space in our home, but we didn’t have as much of a luxurious lifestyle as others while I was growing up. It seems there’s a more humane approach to slavery in this world than one would imagine on Earth.
Among the slaves inside the cages, there are two, in particular, that stand out from the others to me. One of them being large and have a muscular build while her yellow blonde hair is unkempt, with a horn sticking out of it on one side while the other ‘s only a nub like it was broken off some time ago. Her slave rags are a two-piece ensemble that emphasizes her toned abs as well as the incredible bust, with the cleavage practically legendary. The large woman sits in her seat cushion in seiza [TN: sitting on one's knees at respectful attention] with a worried look on her face while looking down to her hands that are cuffed.
The other ‘slave’ a couple cages over from there stands out by not wearing any rags, but a set of clothes that make her look like the ringmaster of a circus, and it’s designed to make her lithe curves stand out. She’s making the most noise out of everyone there, making curses at the cultists while her hands are also cuffed.
“That’s our slave merchant over there,” Ren whispers as she points to the ringmaster-dressed girl yelling at the cultists. “She’s a pretty-gifted Sage. If we get her out first, she can get us to her tent where all of our weapons are stored. Then we can get the others and Eri to wreak havoc on the cult.”
“All right, let’s do it. Lili, think you can try to secure her tent until we get there?”
“Sure can. I’ll keep your stuff safe until you get there. Best of luck.”
Ren and I nod to her before we get into the tent and hide behind a few crates. Lili quickly sews the cut she made in the tent shut so no one else suspects any break-ins.
“I imagine Ms. Carmen has … or had the keys to the cages before they took it away,” I whisper.
“Right, but I have the ‘Lockpicking’ skill that Mistress Carmen gave me permission to use once I brought back help. The biggest problem is those cuffs I’m sure the cultists forced them to wear. They have special properties that don’t allow the wearer to use any skills or magic and are designed to be impenetrable to the ‘Lockpicking’ skill. We need to get that key to take them off.”
“Maybe we should get to Ms. Carmen’s cage and see if she knows who around here has it, but how do we get there without attracting attention?”
“I have ‘Stealth’ on a high enough level that allows me and those I touch to erase our presence unless we’re caught on sight.”
Really? ‘Stealth’ can do that, too? “Would me having ‘Stealth’ also let us hide better?”
Ren widens her eyes for a moment before blinking herself out of it. “Um … yes, it would.”
“All right, let’s do it, then.” I reach out and grab one of Ren’s furry Werewolf claws. The sensation of the pads on her ‘paw’ catches me by surprise at first, but I shake it out. “Lead the way whenever you’re ready, Ren.”
“Ren? You okay?”
“I just realized this is the first time I’m holding the hand of a male that isn’t my older brother or father, and it’s been so long since I held either of them … this is also the first a human male has ever held my hand, too. Yours is surprisingly warm on top of being big and firm, Mr. Jinma.”
“Uh … thanks?” Fuck, now I’m just remembering how it’s been so long since I held Hyo-chan’s hand when we were very little. Dammit, this is no time to feel self-conscious, Jinma! I berate to myself as Ren quickly leads me to Ms. Carmen’s cage, going from crate to crate while the cultists weren’t looking. The other slaves pretend not to see us per Ren’s silent request, though some couldn’t help glance our way with curious looks. Even the muscle-girl with horns, who Ren told me earlier was the Ogre, Erizora, stares at me with intensity.
Thinking about it, a topless man with scars and a club strapped to his back would be unusual enough for anyone to see.
Ms. Carmen looks to have given up on her cursing at the cultists by the time we make it to her cage.
“Psst! Mistress Carmen! Mistress Carmen!” Ren whispers loud enough for her to hear.
She glances back and widens her eyes. Making sure the coast is clear, she scoots herself back enough to the cage to hear us. “Ren, good to see you’re still okay, but … is he really the only help you got?”
“There’s Ms. Lili securing your tent for the weapons as we speak, but we can trust this one. He took down the three cultists who were chasing me on his own, and killed the infamous Toxic Troll, Glock the Putrid, by himself, too.”
“We need the key to get you out of those cuffs, right? Who’s carrying them?” I ask in a whisper.
“The guy who’s the farthest from here. He also has my key to the cages.” Ms. Carmen nods her head in the direction for us to point to the cultist patrolling the path furthest from us.
“Okay, we’ll be right back. Ren, move us to the back of the tent again.”
“Yes, Mr. Jinma.” Ren leads us back to our starting point while I keep an eye on the cultist Ms. Carmen pointed out.
“Here’s the plan. One of us will take each guy on the path and take them out with speed and silence. Then we’ll take out the guys guarding the front once we get everyone out of those cages and cuffs, and hopefully, Lili will have the other tent secured once we get there.”
“Oh, Mistress Carmen has a Null Spell called [Portal] that can get us right into her tent once we get her out. We can sneak in through that and have everyone get their weapons from there before we start our resistance.”
“Nice, let’s do that. We’ll move on the count of three.”
Ren nods in understanding before we get to our positions while we’re able to see each other. I hold out a hand to her as I watch for the timing for us to strike. I count on my fingers.
One. Two. Three.
We make our move with the cultists’ backs turned.
Like the first guy before I came in, I got up close to my target and twisted his neck to knock him out cold and fall to the ground, while Ren, as she covered her target’s mouth, she used one of the borrowed daggers to stab him in the back. What was amazing about her approach is that with the height differences, she had to leap and tackle him to the ground with the momentum of her attack, yet she managed to pull off taking him out without making a sound. Her AGI as a Werewolf and level of ‘Stealth’ must take a big part here that leaves me impressed.
[You have achieved the ‘Assassin’ title!
[‘Stealth’ LV 1’s mastery has been integrated to ‘Stealth’ LV 5.
[You have now learned ‘Ambush*’!]
The tracks ring in my head and I see the notices scroll down in front of me, ascertaining our victory. I feel mixed about acquiring a title like ‘Assassin,’ though.
“That guy’s really not dead, right?” I ask Ren.
“The Immortals’ influence in this city allows those inside it to still barely hold onto their lives from the last blow to put them into KO status. They’d need another heavy blow while in KO status, or a really fatal one like slitting their throat or decapitating them to make the Immortals’ influence ineffective. You’ll know you really killed someone when your sounds of victory and level-up are in a darker tone than usual.”
“Huh, good to know.”
I then search my target’s person while the other slaves around me whisper amongst each other. I take both keys out of him, along with his belongings that include a money pouch and a dagger.
I turn to Ren who now stands next to me, holding out a shortsword and bigger money pouch than the one my guy had. They must be her target’s belongings that she pilfered.
“… Are those for me?”
“I appreciate the gesture, but those are your winnings. You can keep those for yourself and save it for something special.”
Ren then shakes her head. “You’re helping me a great deal tonight. I insist you take these as part of my gratitude.”
… Well, it’d be rude to turn it down if she’s insisting. “All right, I’ll humbly accept. Thanks, Ren.”
“Mm,” Ren utters as she hands the stuff over to me. While her expression is still cool, her tail wags ecstatically. I use the cultists’ holsters to hold the new weapons at my sides. I find myself liking and wielding these ones better than those I found in the Toxic Troll’s cave, and with the ‘Slugger Style’ I recently learned, I need to make some experiments.
She says she’s 18, but she’s like a little kid excited to show their parent something amazing … no, since she’s a Werewolf, isn’t this more like a dog wanting praise for bringing something of value? I don’t mean to degrade, but I can’t help but find this adorable. I find myself lost in thought before a few giggles from the other slaves snap me out of it. “Oh, we should set everyone free. This isn’t the time to relax.”
“Ah, right. Mr. Jinma, may I see the key for the cuffs really quick, please?”
I wasn’t sure which one it was, so I hold both out. Assuming she already knows what Ms. Carmen’s key for the cages look like, she takes the one that’s for the cuffs and examines it.
“… Okay, got it. [Duplicate], 1.”
Suddenly, an exact copy of the same key appears in her empty hand by the formation of many blue lights after her chant.
“Whoa, is that like your rare, personal Null Spell, Ren?” I ask as she hands the original back to me.
“Yes. My Null Spell, [Duplicate], allows me to make an exact copy of anything that’s around small to medium size. The copies will fade away at my own will, or when they’re too far for me to maintain its magic.”
“That’s incredible. You’re really something else, Ren.”
“I’m not worthy of Mr. Jinma’s praise. Now, since I have a copy of the cuffs’ key, we can set everyone free twice as fast.”
“Sounds like a plan. Let’s do it.”
As Jinma starts letting the slaves out of the cages and cuffs on one side of the tent, Ren goes to the other where Carmen and Erizora are held captive. She goes straight to work in setting the former of the two free first.
“I haven’t seen you that happy in a while, Ren. Is that guy your type?” Carmen asks while giving a smug look.
Due to the magical influence of the slave ring around her neck, Ren couldn’t lie, so she stays quiet while her cheeks redden. It’s to be noted that her tail couldn’t stop wagging since Jinma praised her capabilities.
“Does he fit in your criterion?” Carmen asks.
“I haven’t seen or know enough of him to make a firm decision yet, but … the chances are pretty high. If he’s interested in someone like me, I hope we can work things out when this is all over.”
“…” Erizora the Ogre couldn’t help but overhear their conversation before turning her attention to Jinma and gets lost in thought as he frees her comrades.
Ren’s criterion is quite strict, too. For him to possibly fit … even when relaxed, my gut’s going crazy over the power he holds. Could it be possible …?
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Hello and welcome. You may call me Orange Rain, and I looooove orange soda.
I not only like to read novels of many kinds, but I also like to write them. The stories published here will be in webnovel.com as well, so if you can, I'd appreciate it if you could support me on both platforms. I also like to read any professional critiques people may have on my works in order for me to become a better writer.
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