With the agreement to the assigned quest’s conditions settled, the first few things we needed done were officializing it as well as finding a slave merchant to brand Tyvera as my slave. Eugus had blank parchments and an inkwell with quill stored in his armlet for situations like these, as do all guild masters, apparently, and while he was writing up the new conditions, I demonstrated my capabilities as an adventurer by using [Portal] to fetch us a slave merchant for this situation.
“Ah! So, that’s how you got here so quickly! How very useful, indeed~!” Julius exclaims when he first sees it in action.
“… But this is your first time here in Palocaesy, yes?” Konjiro asks.
“I’ll explain it to them. You go ahead and do what you need to do, Jin,” Ume says.
From there, I made a hop, skip, and a jump back to Dondegarm, right in front of the temporary establishment where the only slave merchant I personally knew was currently doing business.
Ms. Carmen Todoka, the slave merchant who sold Ren and Erizora to me, was certainly shocked at my sudden arrival, and more so when I mentioned what I needed to borrow her for.
From what she explained to me, while there have been cases when people have sold off others to fulfill a debt the potential slave couldn’t pay for on their own or some other circumstance, it’s not often that a highly capable adventurer would sell themselves off to another unless they lost a high-stakes bet or some other. Having the ‘Terror of the Skies’ be marked a slave as a penalty for interfering a quest … while her ‘family business’ keeps these dealings discreet, it’s highly likely that news will spread like wildfire.
Even so, one might have seen how Ms. Carmen’s eyes turned into gold karos coins at this opportunity before she quickly packed whatever materials necessary for enslavement and certification. Once Ms. Carmen notified one of the more capable-looking slaves to watch the place while she was gone, the two of us hopped right back into Lady Krauss’ residence through my [Portal].
“… We were not even halfway through our route to Palocaesy before thou had the entire carriage make a leap to a ways from the city gates the first time around; then, thou hopped right back to Dondegarm, and finally back here again,” Eugus ‘greets’ on our immediate return before he rubs his eyes. “I do not know if I should get used to this madness or just pretend thou had a bunch of mana potions on hand and move on.”
“I’m seeing it yet I still can’t believe it …” Tyvera adds with widened eyes, still bound by ‘ropes’ made from my Darkness Manipulation skill.
“Incredible … your magic capacity must be gargantuan,” Lady Krauss says with sparkling eyes filled with wonder.
“Whoa whoa wait, hang on, you mean we’re in Palocaesy right now?” Ms. Carmen asks while turning to me.
“Yeah? Did I forget to mention that?”
“… A-And the lady in the room?”
“You are Carmen Todoka that Jinma referred us, yes?” Lady Krauss asks before giving a curtsey. “I am Noire Scarletine Krauss. I thank you for giving us your valuable time in this matter.”
“N-No! Not at all! I apologize for intruding in your home so abruptly, Lady Krauss!” Ms. Carmen exclaims before going straight to dogeza before her. The sudden change in formality is a surprise for me.
“There is no need for you to apologize, Carmen. I understand if we’re interrupting you and your business and wish to return to it posthaste, so shall we get the enslavement going underway?”
“Yes! Absolutely! Do you mind if I get my things ready in your kitchen?!”
“Go right ahead.”
“Thank you very much! Mr. Kotori, come with me, please!” Without even waiting to hear my response, Ms. Carmen takes my hand and pulls me straight inside.
Moments later, we’re at the corner of a kitchen counter as Ms. Carmen uses her own [Storage] to take out and set up her supplies needed for this arrangement. “Mr. Kotori! What the hell did you sign me up for?! Conducting business with a demon noble in Palocaesy of all places?!” Ms. Carmens in a loud whisper.
“Is that a problem?” I ask with a quirked brow.
“It’s not a big problem, but … the closer we are to Korangar, the more demons there are that aren’t as favorable having us humans walking about in the open. Compared to everybody in Dondegarm who’s open arms to welcoming humans, I’d say there are 30-40% of demons in Palocaesy who’d rather see us wallowing in the slums. There’s a reason Dondegarm’s the farthest our business can go in the Demon-Kin’s Territory. Not only that, but do you even know how big the Krauss family is?”
“I’ve been told the head is the Minister of Defense and Weaponry.”
“Yeah, which means they know how to kick our asses if we so much as try anything in their kingdom.”
“… How much of the demon population in Korangar, the kingdom of the Demon-Kin’s Territory, I imagine, would you say are unfavorable to humans?” I then ask.
The moment ‘Korangar’ came out of my mouth, Ms. Carmen froze in place before she stiffly, yet shakily turns her head to me. “… Mr. Kotori? Please tell me you’re not planning on going there.”
“I need to get over there … I have some personal business to be settled.”
Despite our height differences by half a head, Ms. Carmen puts both hands on my shoulders and looks at me straight in the eyes. “… It’s amazing that I’m actually more scared of how serious you are in this than the look of those eyes themselves. I may not have been there myself, but going by what Father had heard from the grapevine … there could very well be 80% of demons over there who would have no qualms of beating you to the ground to prove their superiority. Some of them may even make it as a favorite pastime and makes sure their ‘toys’ disappear without anybody seeing how fucked up they made it … and their disappearance is permanent.”
“I won’t ask what business you have over there, but if you can help it, do not engage them in a fight, never wander alone, and most importantly, keep your comrades safe, especially your slaves. Compared to other [slave] merchants, we Todokas prioritize the well-being of our slaves, especially after the redemption. I won’t forgive you if something happens to Ren and Erizora.”
“What about how you willingly lent them to Lady Tephalia in order to ‘sate my uncontrollable desires?’”
“Hey, that was their choice and the circumstances seemed dire at the time when she explained it to me. I made that contract so Lady Tephalia would receive the least drastic punishments by paying some money for collateral if something happened to them. Having one slave die under their watch is a more complicated matter than you might think but that isn’t the point. Are you going to take responsibility of the two … no, three lives under your ownership, or aren’t you?
I could only give a firm nod in response. I can’t really promise not to engage in fights, but that aside, I could never let anyone get away from doing anything to those two or the rest of my party. They’re my new family, after all.
Ms. Carmen went back to prepping her materials, including taking out the same black ink she used before to transfer Ren’s and Erizora’s ownerships over to me. “A few drops of blood in here, please. Are you still planning on coming with me to Alluga after whatever business you have here finished?”
I make a small cut on my hand with Nyra’s blade and drop a few beads of blood in the ink before healing the wound with magic. “I’m planning to, but the quest we’re about to take soon, clearing Palocaesy’s dungeon, will actually take longer than I expected. I was hoping to hitch with you afterwards, but … would it be possible I could get a refund for the trip since I’m not sure when I’ll be back? You said it will be within a week that you’ll head over to Alluga, right?”
Ms. Carmen pauses and taps a finger to her chin while looking up. She then shoves six fingers total on two hands in front of my face. “Tell you what. You give me this much and we will hold off on the trip back until you arrive. It’s gotta be within the next … 10 days from today though, or we will leave without you while requesting an investigation on your whereabouts. Father still wants to see you and we both want to see how much Ren and Erizora have grown since they’ve been taken under your care. I know this is a lot, but I gotta keep our slaves as well as myself cleaned and well-fed, you know?”
My eyes are widened at such an offer at first, but then I smirk and take out 6 gold coins (60,000 karos) from the pouch I keep in my [Storage] and pass it over to Ms. Carmen. “Thank you very much for doing this, Ms. Carmen.”
“You’re a unique customer, Mr. Kotori. It would be a shame if we lose a potential regular so soon. I’m going to assume you’ll buy a seat cushion for your new Harpy slave to use? It saddens me to say that I don’t think I have any maid uniforms for her size, but if I could get her measurements, I can relay them to Father and have him put in an order ready for you to pick up when you stop by.”
“… Yes, and definitely yes, please.” That reminds me. I have yet to see Ren and Erizora in their own maid uniforms. There’s been a lot going on, but I really hope I get to see them in it soon.
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Hello and welcome. You may call me Orange Rain, and I looooove orange soda.
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