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Dreamweaver 170

 

 

 

 

Assassin Leader POV

 

 

 

 

“What the fuck is wrong with you people?” I screamed into the telepathic communication necklace provided by a certain mage that I killed to avoid paying some ago. I pace back and forth. And now I’m biting my nails. Actually that’s a terrible habit for a poison user for obvious reasons.

Also as long as I find another mage to not pay the next time I need something cool it will be fine as long as I lie good still.

Oops I forgot this necklace communicator device has an amplifier built into it, so if I talk loud it comes out as a shout. And I just shouted…I can hear the groans of several team leaders as they cry out in pain. Oh well I’ll say sorry for screaming at them if they still have eardrums left. Ahh well, screw it. I should also get ready for my backups.

“What? Boss don’t get mad at us. We’ve shot more than our share! Things are fine with us,” The Sniper Team reports in.

“We heard heavy fighting on floor two. Floor two and three teams aren’t answering us anymore. But we’ve done our objective off the first floor,” the other team lead said.

Hmm, so is Sniper team better than they are or just bad luck with the others?

No wait, I refuse to accept that. I trained them personally. My fist tightens around my belt as I get ready to kill the first unlucky fuck that crosses my path.

“Team three? Check in please,” I said trying to maintain calm.

“I’m telling you boss, team three, six, and four aren’t reporting in,” the other guy said again.

“That many? There must be something wrong with their communicators. You know that’s happened before,” one team lead said.

“That’s true, but still…” came the reply.                                                                                                                               

“Why aren’t they checking in….Leb, I mean Team Leader 43B owes me money,” someone else said in the radio chatter.

“Shut up dude, this is the boss’s channel. He doesn’t put up with unnecessary comments,” the first guy said.

What? They are missing? That’s too many. It’s impossible. The communicators have limited power too so unfortunately we had some radio silence earlier but they should be answering back now.

“Boss, where’s our backup?” one guy said.

“Shut up. Stay quiet and do as you’re told, follow the plan. I’ll worry about the plan and the backup. Your job is to trust me and you better; you just trust me on this. This isn’t a damn fairy tale where you get an army to back you up when you are too weak to do your damn job. Then you get paid. Easy as pie. Now pick the fucking pace up,” I ordered.

Seriously that kid is so unreasonable. Why haven’t I fired his ass anyway? He’s always been kind of mouthy. Him thinking he can question the plan all the time is bull shit. I’ll kick his ass so hard he won’t be able to sit down for a month when he gets back.

Too much chatter is bad. You don’t want them voicing their doubts with each other when bad stuff is going on. Then they’ll start feeding each other’s fear. You want to keep them focused and thinking they’ll all come back alive, when they are expendable.

My scout is near me listening. “Sir, you could send in that other thing, you know what I mean…” he said.

Wait…I remembered a few things my mentor had taught me about when to pull the plug…before I killed him to take his spot. I resist the temptation to grind my teeth while I think about it as I’m pacing incessantly.

I sighed. “We better pull everyone out. I don’t like this. This job has too many things gone wrong. I’ll save ‘that’ for when they aren’t watching anymore. They seem like they are too guarded now. If they have their guard up too much now then we wait. It’s best to wait for them to get over confident; so we didn’t get them tonight but sooner or later they’ll let their guard down at night and not be watching. Everyone gets tired and sleeps. At least I’ll be able to pay the men with what loot we scavenged off dead adventurers. After we debrief and go over what happened then we’ll decide how soon to make another move.”

My scout stiffens. “Y-yeah that’s right. Kinda scary though. But we did make a pretty good haul didn’t we?” He laughed harshly to hide his scared stupid-ness.

“Well the first floor was…” I admitted.

I wished we’d gotten on the other floors more and not let so much of the inn territory go to the enemy. I hate this blemish on my record. But it’s time to pull out.

“All teams withdraw for now. Everyone head to the extraction point. Make sure you aren’t followed to the rendezvous spot. If you let any strays follow you home you know what the punishment will be,” I said into the communication device.

“Orders received. Meet you there soon,” the sniper team leader said.

None of the others reported in or confirmed receiving the withdraw notice. That’s weird. They know better than to deviate from the rules. I’ll punish the first floor team severely.

What?

“Did someone drop their radio again? More should be reporting in right?” I asked more to myself than others.

“That’s…yeah, that’s probably it,” my scout said. He’s wiping sweat off his forehead.

What a pansy. He can’t handle a little death?

I’ve done jobs just like this before and they’ve always gone smoothly before.

Hmm could it be there are some small few numbers of losses?

Maybe one of the radios is that…but it can’t be all of them?

The losses are good actually now that I think about it. I can keep more loot for myself, so this is actually a win win. And I mean that as in win win both for me, who the fuck cares about those other dweebs. They are all replaceable easily. There’s already three guys for each one of them that want in my next job. And also if the others are fearful of some losses with the floor 2 and 3 teams then I can swing it by saying less coming back means they get a higher bonus. They won’t complain then.

But most importantly I’ll get more bonus than anyone. Me, I’m the only one that counts. Screw those other fucks.

 

 

 

 

Shun POV

 

 

 

“OK, let’s do this. Man what a pain, all this loose change to take care of,” Sunghee said. She’s still stuffing more stuff into the pillow case we’re using for a sack, so the others with us don’t see my magic inventory. Plus Sunghee wants to prove to me she’s the number one girl. Lately all the girls are like too serious about the number one girl competition and I’m tired of it. She’ll be handing it to me soon, but having her do it lets me focus on needed survival magic. Under the glow of my dimly lit light spell orbs that hang in the air, I can see she’s still at the same time as looting, keeping an eye on our allies.

“All you are doing is counting money. It can’t be that hard,” Kitty said sullenly. Her catgirl eyes are almost shining with the money reflected off them that we’re packing away. She’s got her arms folded staring at us. But she knows to stay quiet.

“I want some,” one of them said. I forgot his name.

“Well one friend of ours calls Shun a money tree,” Sunghee shrugged while not stopping.

“That’s not funny. I hate that nickname,” I said to shut it down fast.

“Are you going to share?” said…oh that’s right, his name is Stan, asked. His hands are shaking so badly he can barely hold a weapon. And his comrades don’t look like they have much faith in him.

“That would be a no,” I said.

“Well technically we did all the work. You guys are being rescued as refugees and not as rescuers. And I can see your hands shaking so badly you barely have hold of that weapon,” Sunghee said apologetically.

“That’s not fair!” Stan protested. He tries to hide his shaking hands.

“That’s a true point, I guess,” Kitty replies. Her hands aren’t shaking and she looks unhappy, but too bad she’s really on the other team. She looks like she’s kind of scarred and been beat up for most of her life anyway; and as a result the expression on her face looks sort of mangy and mean.

“Counting money sounds fun. Let me help,” the other guy said. I forgot his name. He stares too much at Sunghee.

“You…back off,” Sunghee tells him as he’s about to go forward. Sunghee stops and her hand makes a fist as she gets ready to strike if she has to defend herself.

Stan stops as he realizes what would happen. But he doesn’t shut up.  “But…”

“So you think you are entitled now? If it’s like that then anytime someone hires adventurers to do a job on the town job board they will say they don’t have to pay,” Sunghee gives the twerp a look like ‘I’ll crush you’. He backs off.

Oh she’s clever in that argument.

“Well it’s true they did all the work,” Kitty looks depressed. She also can see the cool loots that Sunghee is looting for our team.

“Hey we stayed alive didn’t we? Isn’t that good enough….even if we don’t get some of the….oh damn,” Stan chuckled to try to cheer up the others. At the last second he saw a really nice few coins going in the bag right after that. And when Sunghee has to bend over to shove coins in the bag, her cleavage is seemingly barely contained.

Oh wow…cup size has nothing to do with it. Good shape and bounce are wonderful on any girl that’s over a D cup. She winked at me.

“I guess that’s better than nothing and dying,” he scratched his head while looking at Sunghee longingly for several reasons.

It bothers me when people stare at my girls. “Right…” I said stepping between them. The other two flinch.

We keep roving through the inn.

Unfortunately we’re the only survivors it seems. The third floor was where we’d found the least bodies. Then the second had a lot of bodies too. But by far the majority of the bodies were on the first floor. I don’t even think anyone had gotten out the door because it looked like the majority of people were slain where they were either working or eating. It doesn’t look like anyone even had the chance to run until finding a group of bodies that were by the stairs that had made it that far from some of the rooms.

“At least there are other inns to stay at,” Kitty said.

“Yeah if you can stand staying at an inn now,” Vennie said nervously.

“I suppose that’s a good point. We have to decide if we have funds good enough to have our own place or joint rent with others or stay at an inn still,” Kitty said with a grimace. Actually I think all Kitty does is grimace, but maybe that’s partly because she plays mother hen to free loader Stan and that other guy that looks less than at his best, Vennie.

“But what’s going to happen to us,” the one free loader guy Stan said.

Kitty frowned at him. “I won’t let them get me,” she said.

“The bigger question is how to escape and live not the loot, though I don’t want to waste that,” I said.

“But I wonder who they were targeting. We still don’t know if the focus was all of the people here, certain targets, the money, or how they had their intentions,” Sunghee objected.

“Until we know who they were after this could happen again,” I also agreed.

“Yes, but the inn was full of people that got offed. So the real target could be them, us, or both? Or nobody we know? Or maybe some dwarven hero potentials? What if they were trying to off people about to become dwarven super class types like Svinn?” Sunghee suggested.

“That’s a possibility too,” Kitty admitted.

“Crap,” Stan looks mortified.

“I don’t like the idea of this happening again,” Kitty looked nervous too.

We don’t loot the normal people since that doesn’t belong to us but just focus on dead enemies. There might be family heirlooms or family that can claim that anyway. That I’m pretty sure would probably fall under some kind of criminal code by the dwarves and they for sure would have some kind of probate and estate handing off laws with how obsessed they are with wealth. However, the assassin guys in black are fair game. We’re taking anything of value from them, but mostly they don’t have much that will identify them easily to a particular group or another.

“Well, they aren’t rich but with the large number of slain its piling up,” Sunghee said counting the coins carefully near my hovering light orb.

Those three keep getting greener with more jealousy as they see her counting the coins.

“That’s…blasphemy! I see those coins,” Stan said.

“You can call that nothing?! I saw all that silver. There wasn’t even many copper in there at all,” the other guy said. He looked to the other guy to backup him up and push it a little further but he’s wary too.

“Be careful,” I said to both of them, giving them a stern look. They both gulped. I think they’ll know we’ll kick their asses if they object to this.

“You guys will be able to go to one of the other inns and then you should be safe. The government will probably station more guards though they won’t be happy about the cost. And they may have some form of refugee aid to help people out of this,” Sunghee said.

“She’s right.” Kitty is a little bit annoyed but more reserved than the other two. She did see all the silver Sunghee is counting too.

“You think so?” Stan is livid. He is swearing a lot about the dead comrades he had while we go through the place. So far we’re lucky not many people we knew were here. And the inn staff were already mad at us for the noise that Sunghee and Rina make with me at night, so I can’t feel too sorry for them.

I didn’t say it exactly to their faces but I suspect the team on the first floor had the most coinage loot because some of it was from already starting to harvest their prey. And not many people can afford the magic inventory slots, plus I’d seen a lot of people with cut purse strings from their belts.

In this case they killed everyone and took them.

I have a hard time getting the images out of my head. It’s pretty awful seeing a real body and you never get used to it. And to go through their things even though they are an enemy when half of their flesh is burnt from Sylvie’s lightning bolt spell is nasty.

There are two favored styles in this city of holding coins in coin bags to avoid pick pockets; with one style you hang the coin bag inside your shirt around your neck on leather necklace string. This way isn’t bad for avoiding pickpockets but not impossible to avoid. A lot of those were cut from behind reaching over and above or just kill the person and take them.

The other way is a sort of coin leather leash wrap that holds the coin bag that’s connected to the belt to keep it from being snatch able easily while at the same time letting the coin bag hang down deep into the trouser pockets. Some versions of this latter type also have like a sort of leather pocket slat that covers the pocket also while blending in with the trousers to look like a sort of half leather chap cover over one side of the trousers. A lot of these were roughed up and cut too underneath the chap flange piece thing; which is further evidence a lot of people had already been looted.

Still, a lot of people for a quick pay method in this world will just wrap up a bunch of coins in an old sock and tie it shut too. Some will even hide it in their pants but that isn’t really a deterrent and people will just knife you up more as revenge for seeing your junk, or so they say.

I’ll put these funds to a good cause. I feel bad for the dead though. Some of them were totally stripped of just about anything they had, except their clothes. Because the assassins may have used poisoned blades we avoided taking those or other weapons, since it would be problematic if one of my team accidentally got a dose of it.

The military and city guard will likely also cycle the weapons through scrubbing and either re-selling or melting them down to be used for other equipment for them, replenish new gear, and also any funds recovered will help them fund new guards placements and training costs.

That’s the way of the world down here. Gyle had told me this previously but I’m remembering it all now.

Sunghee slips me the bag of money she’s looted. It looks pretty heavy. I like it. Nothing like a fat purse to cheer you up, only because I’m sympathetic to so many victims it doesn’t cheer me up at all. Sunghee is even more affected.

When I put it in my inventory box I can see the amount go up.

“I…don’t like this but its better that we put it to good use than some bureaucrat taking it from the city guards, who take it first,” she said.

I nodded.

There’s the smell of smoke too from the inn having nearly started on fire and one of the stools and tables had gotten knocked around and into the cooking fire area. But thankfully somehow the rest of the place didn’t ignite because this place is mostly stone.

3 gold 139 silver 28 copper. Or in other words 4 gold 39 silver 28 copper in total from this loot. It’s a good thing those other three don’t have an exact figure of how much Sung and I pulled in. The three team leaders we’d killed each had a gold piece probably some kind of bonus by their boss. It’s fishy. It means they were paid a lot upfront. Normally underground black markets should get most their pay on finish. So if they were paid that much it means whoever set this assassin team after us is a major player.

I’ll have to figure it out later. I can figure a lot out on high badly they wanted this job done by how much they were paid. I like earning money. But I just don’t like that so many people died so we could get this much gold.

And its good we took the money because being adventurers very few of these people would have their own family around nearby so the guards would have just pocketed their valuables first.

“Hey where’d that tall foxgirl go?” Kitty asked suspiciously.

Wow she noticed quickly. She’s a bit too alert. I don’t like that. I’d spent some time timing slipping Fox away from them when they wouldn’t notice, or at least were least likely to notice.

“What foxgirl?” I said innocently.

“We didn’t see anything like that,” Sunghee said while pulling it off better than I did with that same look. It’s obvious that she’s faking it but that’s what we’ll do if anyone quotes a foxgirl being here. I don’t want them to know anything about her. That’s why I’d de-summoned Sylvie when she wasn’t in their line of sight. I didn’t want to take any other chances either. They would very likely try to blame Sylvie as part of being on the assassin team due to some racial distrust of some kind.

Sunghee and I play dumb.

“Oh come on! We know she was with you. We’re not dumb,” Kitty said with her hands on her hips.

“Foxkin are dangerous,” Stan muttered under his breath. The other guy agreed with him right after.

“…so ungrateful…already turning on her…” I heard Sunghee mutter, but I was thinking just like she was. Sunghee is glaring at them for me.

“You guys need to show more loyalty for us helping you out,” Sunghee said.

Crap that’s just the reaction I wanted to avoid from Kitty, Stan, and ungrateful number 3. So ungrateful too, don’t they realize it was Fox’s…I mean Sylvie’s ambushing with lightning bolts that basically made it so they could live? And already they are debating if they should tell the city guard about her.

“You need to be quiet. Think about the trouble you’ll cause,” I said with a leer to mentally tell her to shut up.

She’s not sure how to react to that.

I don’t know how the dwarven city guards would react to her. I’d de-summoned her when the other three weren’t looking after we verified the enemy was contained. Those three are giving me angry looks now.

“Remember our deal. We saved you, but you know nothing about us, and nothing about the foxgirl. That was the price for saving your lives,” Sunghee warned them.

“Tch,” I heard the cat girl curse as we left them in the hands of the city guards. The cat girl looks defiant.

We should leave now.

I don’t like this. The jealousy factor on those guys was eking out almost like mental tar.

This is why I think I need to get my own people acquired. Not trusting the wrong people is best.

Finally the city guard showed up. The whole neighborhood is eerily quiet. I think people know something is wrong already but only the city guard dare approach the inn.

“Eh?! There are survivors!” some of them noticed our group of five.

“Quick over here! Medics we have some people to check out!” another said waving allied people over to help us out of the rubble. Already the city guards are in a rush to try to feel like they saved some people so they are heading our way pretty quickly and insistently trying to check us out. And because of that Sunghee borrowed my jacket to cover up her chest more, as a lot of the city guards want to ‘rescue’ her.

We didn’t actually need much help but there actually is a bunch of rubble on the first floor come to think of it. All the smashed up dining area tables make moving around kind of awkward.

But the other city guards checking ou the damage are all frowning. This was one of the bigger inns in town. I wager there were at least twenty people per floor initially of people staying here, not counting the inn staff. This will likely also be an economic blow to inns all across the city, because people will wonder if it’ll be safe to stay at them and if there will be more attacks. And the other inns will have to hire more muscle to retain an image of safety, even if they don’t go for pure safety in their goal.

The city guard got here way too late though. I think it’s been a good twenty minutes since Sylvie picked off the last of the assassins and we’ve just been standing around mostly. Why’d they take so long? If they’d been here earlier they might have been able to save some people. It took a lot of power just to keep me and those other people alive.

“No, we don’t know where they came from,” I heard Sunghee giving statements and answering questions by the city guards as they keep asking us just about everything they could think of. I also downplayed my part in it but let them think Sunghee was our leader and main muscle too. They naturally went to talk to her first, over me and the others. But some of them are trying to flirt with Sunghee and with the cat beastkin girl Kitty too.

Sunghee shut them down though.

The cat beastkin girl occasionally gives me dirty looks. I’m sure it’s from not giving them handouts of our recent earnings. Part of that is just her nature. So ungrateful...she’s acting like we’re suspicious just because I don’t tell her all our secrets. I hate it when people are like that.

I sort of hung back in the shadows to let Sunghee do most the work and answer questions since people are nicer to a pretty girl. It might sound like I’m being lazy but there’s a strategy here. Sunghee has a very, very photogenic face and can contain this better without too many questions compared to me, who would raise even more questions. She does also have the team lead chit, so letting her do this will also make it so less people ask questions about me and give me more cover.

Later we found out from the guards that there were false reports coming into the guard booths across the city of the inn at the other end of town being attacked, as well as other false targets. This was why no one got here in time and by the time they did the mess was over. It was a pro giant misdirect campaign before the mess even started, which implies planning and good brain power. They had actually made great timing in reacting very swiftly but it wasn’t their fault. The false reports had gotten everyone sent to the wrong inn and all the way on the other end of the city. Then when they’d figured out the ruse, they’d come too late.

If you look at it that way it’s amazing they got here when they did after all the goose chase.

The guards then went after those that submitted the false reports. But they were too late on that too. All the loose ends had already been cleaned up and disposed off.

They found the runners that had reported the crimes and reported the false reports later in an alley with their throats slit, and very dead, all six of them. That has the guards very worried because this whole thing was organized way too well. And with not being able to interview the runners that gave the reports they are at a dead end with no way of going forward with an investigation besides just what the guys in black clothes and masks have on their own bodies, which isn’t much.

My gold bag = 191 gold 89 silver 19 copper + 4 gold 39 silver 28 copper = 196 gold 28 silver 47 copper

This was a pretty nice haul but I’m not happy about it because technically this is all blood money that I just harvested.

But is Gyle alive? We didn’t see him in the inn? And he hadn’t been with us before then so who knows but probably he wasn’t anywhere near here. Still there’s the possibility he may have changed rooms, or inns but come to think of it he only stays at the inn when he’s trying to pick up girls because he doesn’t need to be here with his family’s land and shop right here in town. But he wasn’t in the inn next to us like he had been before. When we checked the inn’s records we can look and see a sign in and sign out area but I can’t read dwarven.

The city guard have their hands full with identifying the dead, and notifying next of kin. With so many people upset and crying and also keeping order they can’t immediately go over the death notifications properly without some time to sort through it.

So we won’t know Gyle’s fate for probably another day or two at best.

The language enchant necklace’s charges let us hear and speak verbal dwarven but don’t affect written language abilities and those need to be recharged too but Gyle was supposed to be the one who knew someone for that. So his absence created another problem for us. Then right after we noted that one of the city guard officers confiscated the inn guest sign in log book.

Do they think one of the people staying at the inn started this mess? They seem to be paying a lot of attention to the guest sign in book, as we study the scene from about thirty feet away from them.

So now we have another mystery to figure out.

Sunghee is next to me as we’re letting the dwarven city guard people work. She’s finally given all the statements for both of us as well as answered whatever questions they had. But they’d grilled her incessantly going over everything like two or three times.

I couldn’t help but notice the city guard gave Stan a hard time about having too much alcohol the night before. He was over the limit it seems to be walking around and would have been arrested or be a good scapegoat except he’s not capable looking enough to pull something like this off. That and he was technically inside a ‘domicile’ by law they can’t arrest him. Plus if they did it would only make it seem like he’s their scapegoat for what’s really happened.

They don’t really have much to go on if they are picking on him, so it makes us worried.

I guess that’s why he fell down in the blood pools so much upstairs. I didn’t notice it at the time because I’m not used to being around drunks.

They ended up letting him go, but Kitty gave him a few good head flicks. “Ouch!” he said for like the seventh flick.

“So what do you want to do Shun?” Sunghee asked me concerned when we’re far enough away that the others can’t over hear us.

“I’m thinking about this. Somehow trouble always seems to find us. Why is that? I want a more peaceful life,” I said.

She nodded. “Of course you do. Good people usually want a peaceful life. I was actually thinking about that myself. ”

“Really?”

“Yeah …the timing now isn’t good though with this endless warring,” she looked sort of sad and misty eyed.

“Well what kind of peaceful life would be good, I sometimes think about,” I said.

“Eh? Like what do you have in mind? Or did you reach some conclusions?” she asked curiously leaning towards my face provocatively. Her head leans into the crook of my shoulder and neck.

“Well maybe something like being a rancher sounds really interesting. They seem to be really free and can enjoy nature and the outdoors too. This world is really beautiful too,” I said.

“That’s kind of nice. I like that too. Although …right now with the orcs and goblins swarming wouldn’t be a good time. But we can’t do that until the curse on Rina is lifted. We probably don’t want her to be a cat forever,” she said.

“I’m working on that,” I defended without realizing I was getting upset.

“Easy easy I’m on your side. Sorry I didn’t mean to bring up something stressful,” Sunghee said carefully.

“Right sorry I didn’t mean to be defensive. An opponent like Lottie we have to really have a good plan for. I guess she’s kind of like a super villain huh,” I said.

“Exactly, but wouldn’t it be good if we can get away from all this? I’m sure you’ve noticed that everything has gone to hell. And it seems like everyone is always after us. Don’t you want more than that?” she said.

“What would you want? What are you implying?” I asked.

“Yeah, I think maybe wouldn’t it be fun if we go retire, like a farm out in the woods with no people for miles and no monsters nearby. And maybe a lake in front or good fishing while we farm. Or even a sandy beach would be great too and we can make love all day,” she put her arm around my shoulder. Her eyes are shining with happiness as she tells me about her dream.

“About Rina…she doesn’t deserve a punishment that big I think. So even if we go after the cabin in the woods we have to fix her first. I do like that idea myself though. Taking away someone’s ability to human must be mentally really painful. But hopefully she’ll learn from it still,” I said.

“Yeah, I hope we can work that out. I’m worried she’ll have a trauma from it though. I should want you for myself but I do want to rescue and help her if we can,” she said.

“Do you think those assassin guys got what they wanted?” Sunghee asked.              

“There’s no point to keep thinking about it. We won’t put down our guard, and we’ll learn from it and have more night guards. We become stronger and tougher and not let anyone hurt us. They murdered like close to 60 or 70 people end of story and we don’t have the technology to find out,” I replied.

She shook her head, “This is such a huge tragedy. We don’t know what they were targeting specifically. There’s a big chance it was adventurers and not really the inn per se. Just the adventurers gather at the inn, but we also don’t know if certain ones were on their lists or whatever they use to keep track. Was the target every adventurer there or certain ones, or both? The answer to that could affect our lives in the next few weeks. So we have to keep our guard up after this.”

“That’s true,” I admitted.

“Um, Shun, there’s another possible downer from this too. What if the dwarven government uses this as an excuse to register us all and takes too much interest in non-dwarves here? It’s already a hard immigration process. And we don’t know how they’ll react to this,” Sunghee explained while we sat on chairs at the deserted inn’s table.

“I hope it won’t come to that,” I said.

“But it’s possible. We have to plan for the worst. Asakura will also confirm this is right to think about,” she said.

It’s hard that she’s saying that while dressed so provocatively. She’s still in the school uniform blouse with only two buttons done up which makes her big breasts more prominently framed tightly in the fabric with my jacket overcoat over the top. And she’d only had enough time to get her shoes and the micro mini skirt.

She likes it when I notice her though, and it’s like a comfort blanket to have her leaning into and touching me. It feels nice.

“Thanks,” I said.

She then kissed me on the top of the head. Being a high human, she’s taller and lankier than I am so when she kissed me there she also put an arm around me.

“I think you need to get more people so you can be protected at night. Don’t worry about making us feel uncomfortable. We need more people we can trust,” she said.

“You don’t feel…”

“Jealous?” she guessed.

She laughed, “I should. But a live Shun and Sunghee together is better than one or both of us dead. I’m glad we got out of this alive. Although I am worried about how well Asakura and Fox…err Sylvie I mean can work well together since they are both alphas in a way. It’s hard to get used to calling her Sylvie after thinking Fox for so long.” She smiled at the last part.

“Me too.”  

“You have to do this Shun. We have too many problems for you to not recruit other girls,” Sunghee insisted with intense eyes.

“But…”

“What if Lottie had taken you instead of Rina? We wouldn’t even be able to function,” she said.

“That’s true,” I sighed.

“That witch is supposed to drop by and give us a time and place for the pay off sometime today,” I said calmly. But underneath the calm I’m sure she’s as scared as I am. Running into that witch was a disaster.

There’s a fear in my heart that she’ll try more than just that.

What should I do? How do I prepare for such a meeting? Will she try something else that’s reckless or only want money? I have to also try to think what kinds of information she’ll try to get from me.

I can go along with it.

Or I can try to beat her after training up. That probably won’t be for awhile. And I have to figure out how to block her curse first. But that’s difficult when her whole blood is practically magic; she can easily overpower other magic users. There was no mistaking the over powering strength she had before.

In the end I’m still a little fish in a big pond. The pond got bigger when I thought I had grown. But I’m still a little fish.

Or another option is to gather more allies. If I do gather more allies though, there’s a chance many of them will be turned into cats just like Rina was if I can’t stop her somehow. And this city has too much excitement going on. I want to find out if there’s a way to leave. We could maybe find people that break curses to hire to, in order to deal with this right?

We’re disappointed when we run into the adventurer’s guild receptionist and asked her about it. She shook her head negatively, “sorry. They’ve done a scaled down martial law that’s in effect. Basically everyone is forbidden from leaving the city both for their safety and so that the city won’t be without people to defend it. Also missing persons reports and requests on information have to be handled carefully to make sure there are no leaks, so I can’t tell you much. The enemy may want to know who survivors and their families are too. Naturally they are also trying to look after anyone suspicious involved with the inn assassinations too.”

“Hmm she’s got a point,” Sunghee sighed while squeezing my hand.

“But if its martial law will they still let us do jobs?” I asked nervously.

I feel Sunghee tugging on my sleeve. “Martial law is very bad,” she whispered so only I could hear.

The guild receptionist girl regarded us coolly but nodded, “most people don’t want to do a job while there are armies camped out in front of the city. Are you sure you want to do that? We are allowing jobs right now however. I’d stay pretty wary in the next few days however. I’d check back for other postings and updates too,” she encouraged us.

“Well we can’t do about it either way with what’s going on outside. So there’s no point to avoiding the chance to stay in control of my own future of what I can control,” I shrugged.

“That’s true,” the receptionist girl shrugged back. “Anyway it’s not my fault. If you are OK with it though they are doing a wage bonus to tempt more people out and of course the government is asking us to encourage you to especially work with any opportunities that will bring food into the city. Having the inn get attacked, and also having the city under siege worked to pump the wages artificially high to sort of compensate and subsidize new adventuring activities. But not many people want to get out, so that’s why the 20% bonus for wages temporarily. I do have to warn you though; once you enter the dungeon if orcs or goblins were to break into the city somehow we’d have no way of warning you in time.”

“We understand the risks. Thank you for explaining,” Sunghee said gracefully next to me.

Also her tall lanky form gathers attention from those around us. There’s a big line of other people with questions for the guild receptionist that we’re at now, but we’d beaten most of the rush so we didn’t wait as long as others did.

As we get out of earshot from others Sunghee whispers in my ear. “Shun, this town is bad luck. We need to get out of here. There’s too much bad happening here. How can all of that happen in one place?”

“Got it, but keep quiet on it for a bit so others don’t also pick up on it,” I said.

“Right. If everyone knows…I wonder if there’ll be social unrest,” she stated what we both thought aloud.

Like usual the job board is full of chits waiting to be snatched up by people. Even with all the trouble people still have to buy food and pay rents. Plus there’s a lot of good to do too.

We decide to go fishing for underground people around the city instead, rather than do a job.

We first send child runners to ask questions for us around the city. It isn’t hard to find war orphans but it’s not easy to know which ones to trust.

We recruited fourteen kids to each go ask how to contact the underground. To do so each is given ten copper each. The idea is they get to keep some for themselves but some for bribes; since its all verbal information and not really asset trading we can get away with some copper tips but it’s likely the stakes will raise once they flag someone that looks important or that might actually know something. At that point I’ll be able to intervene directly and throw out some silver. But to minimize the problems of them talking to the wrong people and stirring up trouble Sunghee suggested that when they do find some information they will report back first by contacting the fourteenth kid who will act as our messenger to contact us first. Thus is they are coming back with city guards in tow then we bail while the city guards only find the fourteenth kid, not with us.  

It’s a gamble.

First we lost 140 copper investing in the dwarven children as street runners. We were also careful to first warn them about safety issues and how to protect themselves by staying in public places, avoiding alleys, and so forth. I don’t want any of them to get hurt on my account.

Then we found out eight of the kids pocketed the money, and abandoned the job without doing any work within like the first hour. “This is why people don’t trust kids,” Sunghee said.

“I agree but we had to start somewhere,” I said.

We got false information from four of the kids. Things are looking bad.

Are we wasting our time? I thought kids might have an idea what’s in their neighborhood because in a natural world with no TV, kids are always outside playing and few people notice them but they notice more than adults think they do.

Then the fourteenth guy had to be replaced with another kid because he said he had to go help his grandma go take his medicine. Technically he didn’t earn his ten copper but I don’t fight with him about it. If he doesn’t want to be here he’s useless anyway. But when we secretly followed him, he’d gone to a toy shop instead. So we had to recruit three other kids to act as the post of the fourteenth kid who had bailed, who was sort of like one of the reporting post runners that would in turn move to us. And we had to get more than one of them because we figured at least two of them would be scoundrels like the other kids.

They are just dwarven kids. So of course they’d not be responsible yet even though dwarves themselves are honest and law abiding folk mostly.

Then we were surprised when three hours later a big dour looking dwarf showed up.

“Are you the one who paid my son to be a runner?” he asked.

Oh shit. He looks like he’s going to attack us and start a fight. He looks freaky strong too, like as strong as Svinn or stronger. His nostrils are flaring with anger. He looks like he could snap us in half with one hand.

Gulp*

Sunghee glances at me to verify what to do. She shrugged.

“We are,” I said.

Then he turns behind him and beckons down the alley further and we see a shamefaced kid walking towards us slowly and reluctantly. It’s one of the kids from before that had bailed on us after pocketing the copper.

The beefy murder eyes dwarf is still glaring at us. “I’m not happy with what you are doing, but I taught my boy to always finish the job without being a damn cheater. I’ve already whipped his little ass with a stick so he’s learned the lesson. Please keep him working till he finishes the job. If he runs off again, he doesn’t get dinner.”

Sure enough the kid has a store tiny ass on his little frame from being spanked by daddy. The guy then left with his kid looking at us apologetically.

Sunghee breathed a sigh of relief when he was gone.

Sunghee and I try not to chuckle. Dwarven kids can be amusing in some ways as we watch the kid squirm.

“I’m Leff by the way. My dad is Vorgen. Sorry I was stupid and ran off. It won’t happen again. I’ll do the job properly this time,” he said after it was silent for a while.

At any minute too, the witch could send a messenger to meet too. Things are complicated. If the witch’s messenger shows up then we’ll have to have two of the dwarven runner kids somehow hold things up for us. And we also don’t want Lottie getting ideas and cursing dwarven runner kids that we’re borrowing either, so I want them gone before we run into her.

There were a couple of close calls.

Some ruffian guy (a human) tried to force one of the kids to bring him to us. He was obviously trying to rob us and follow the trail of the runners to whoever had the purse to pay them with. So we stunned him and took his wallet while immobilizing him. The kid said he runs an extortion racket and thought he’d seen a chance to lie and cheat us. But he could have used the kid for a hostage even though he was weak and that scared me a bit. If anything had happened to the kid it might have been my fault indirectly.

The kid had really wide eyes with how fast we took him down. We gained some street cred with him it seems, though street cred with a kid probably doesn’t have much return.

Now we’ve recovered the loss of paying the dwarven kids for messenger duty after relieving this guy of money he obviously stole from others. Then we left that other guy with two black eyes in an alley tied up. We’ll send the city guard for him later. With Sunghee’s looks they’d believe probably almost anything we told them anyway. Plus she has a reputation as a solid adventurer already.

Another kid told us the underground was located at a bakery. It’s a false lead.

When we check it out there aren’t any hidden markings of any kind. The kid was honest it seems but had gotten told the wrong information.

Another kid told us it was the city guard post. When we asked about it, it turns out his dad had been arrested a few times and he was trying to trigger some kind of police brutality scheme. We let him go; can’t use someone trying to ruin us or provoke us into avenging his dad, who had really wronged himself rather than the guards doing anything to him. But we did thank him for his time anyway. I have no idea what he was thinking. His story didn’t even make sense. Does he think we’re stupid? And why is a kid so early in life investing in revenge?

Two other tip offs were for a candle maker’s shop, a leather tack and harness shop, and a weaver’s booth near the wall.

Neither of them look like what we’re looking for. But maybe we’ll check on it at night later on just to be sure. After some discussion Sung had come up with that idea. There’s the possibility that either of these places might be totally different after everyone is asleep.

After several hours of work, it turns into a dead end.

We’re stuck.

Both of us sighed. We’re tired and hungry too.

“So tired,” Sunghee said.

“Yeah I hear ya,” I echoed after her.

“Let’s go find a place to rest. I won’t let that witch keep Rina. We’ll make her pay,” I added.

Technically I bet that witch knows a demonologist or possibly several, but if we asked her and if she found out what it was for then she’d just end up wanting more of a payoff instead. She would only tighten the vice and crush us even more.

Six hours of running around in the dwarven city and nothing to show for it.

Gyle is still missing and no word from the city guard yet on that and who the people that died actually were or their demographics. The demographics of the slain adventurers we’d also calculated to figure that when revealed might give us some clues to the enemy’s movements.

Gyle’s family’s shop was closed and no one came to the door. Something isn’t right about that either. When we called out for someone to come to the small courtyard gate there is no answer either.

“Why do our problems only increase instead of decrease?” I asked Sung.

“When you get more powerful and take on the world, you attract more attention both good and bad. I’m the good attention but…there’s also that…,” she said.

Then she gave me another kiss on the head. It’s a romantic kiss instead of a lusty kiss, so it’s very calming. Then she rubbed my back some more. I love it when she does that. Plus, she’s still loyal even though all kinds of crap is happening. So Sunghee has amazing mental stability that is like off the charts in terms of measuring.

“We’ll get through this Shun. Although I’d like it if we had more guards of loyal uncompromised people,” she said.

During the day I then noticed two different people are following us. I wonder if they are going to try to rob us too? Or just kill us? Are they with that guy we dumped in an alley too, or were they some other group? Or perhaps part of the assassin group? Or it could be they were for the witch? Or something else?

At this point I can’t ignore either option has potential.

I’m starting to think going in the mountains and living alone would be better.

This underground finding thing and getting a demonologist to contact is really making us work, it’s pure hell.

We don’t have to wait too long. Apparently, having a super babe that’s a head taller than anyone around you with you dressed in provocative clothes attracts all kinds of thieves and muggers.

Less than five minutes after we stepped into an alley we have both of them tied up. It wasn’t too hard. We used their own shirts to tie their hands behind their backs after using my stun on one of them. Then immobilized him and then did the same thing to the other while Sunghee was blocking him.

We go through their purses.

“Tch, only 2 silver on this one. So lazy and poor. He should know he should have earned more for us to take when we shake him down,” Sunghee said counting it. She gave him a few good kicks to scare them into staying really quiet.

They both were beginning to protest until she kicked them.

“Ahh, should we let him live? He’s just going to try and find us again,” I said.

The human thief started to cry and some other bullshit about having a sick wife with six kids. Then his brother had died in a mining accident while snot is running down his nose and mouth.

Yuck.

“Shut up Larry, they won’t believe that crap story,” his friend said.

We looked at them like they were pathetic. And that helped. Then they both shut up instantly.

Yep they are in cahoots with each other.

“And let’s see how much you have?” I nodded.

Sunghee took his wallet too. “Hmm poor guy. He’s only got about six copper. This is so poor I won’t take anything. But we should punish you in other ways,” she said.

“Fuck you! I just paid my bookie yesterday. I was totally wealthy until I started playing the horse races.”

Does he realize he just shamed himself by saying it? Saying that as an excuse is even worse.

“Well we’ll let you guys go this time. But next time you want to rob us bring more money,” I said.

“No,” Sunghee said.

“Huh?”

“If you let them go, they’ll hurt people that can’t defend themselves. Please, this isn’t revenge or anger but we need to look out for future innocents. How do we know they didn’t kill the last people they’ve robbed?” Sunghee pleaded.

Ahh right. I forgot about that part…sometimes when you are strong you need to remember innocents are not. She’s right. I sighed.

“Yeah, I guess you won’t be let go,” I said.

Both of them groaned and are crying. Dwarven punishments for muggers and violent thieves is pretty awful from what it sounds but the tricky part is catching them in the act; though I’m not quite sure what it entails. Maybe it’d be better to not know.

We lost an hour explaining that to the city guard. We did leave out the part about emptying their wallets but the guards can’t prove anything to involve us and they know these guys faces already from purse snatching. Plus it seems there was a bystander or two that vouched in our favor.

But it made me think right…what if there wasn’t a bystander to vouch for us? Would they have tried to lock me up or try to split me and Sunghee up? They have to pretty much go by what they see and what if they are trying to see things a certain way before hearing the facts? And they don’t know anything about us. We’re also a different race than they are and a different culture, so that would make it harder to understand us. I bet people get misunderstood all the time for things like that.

Do they even try to figure out who is the victim or do they assume both parties should be locked up?

Things like that worried me.

But it worked out somehow. I think he believed us. And he believed in Sung’s chest size from how his eyes wander. That makes me kind unhappy and edgy. Sung wasn’t happy either.

We leave as soon as we can.

Two of the runners tried to check in. No new leads yet, but they wanted to let us know they are trying. They also pleaded to not fire them. And one of them wants to work for us tomorrow. He says he’s almost got enough for one of those dwarven hero figurines selling at the local toy shop.

We then found out in this world, instead of baseball cards or mechas they make wooden figurines out of local heroes, mages, and city guards. There are even some for the enemy. And kids like to play with them, but it’s considered bad luck to keep figurines of slain ally heroes.

There’s one of them for Svinn too. He’s a popular wooden action figure right now.

We keep trekking around the city. And our feet hurt from walking around all over on cobblestone streets. Cobblestone is kind of nasty if you fall or trip on it by the way.

As we check over the sites those kids gave us we are still at a loss.

How we should find this underground guild spot with no clues, we both keep wondering. We’re trying like crazy to wrap our heads around it.

This city doesn’t have a red light district. Dwarves have outlawed that in their town. This would have been the first place to check that we finally brainstormed on but since they don’t have it, there’s no point. But we do find out that other human towns do have red light districts and that’s where a lot of the un-bought slaves get sent to.

I haven’t discounted the possibility that there’s no open red light district, but there might be a hidden red light district though. When I voiced that concern to Sunghee, she was in full agreement with me that it’s very possible.

Poor slaves.

Bars and taverns were a bust too. But for different reasons.

In fact that made some of the dwarves angry at us and we had to run out. Dwarves consider bars to be like…it’s hard to explain but it’s like a recreation center or social site for them that they like a good atmosphere, not like human bars. Bands and like choir musical groups hang out and sing in dwarven bars but it’s not like dark rock music, but more uplifting stuff. We even saw versions of dwarven priests gaining followers in dwarven taverns and bars.

I thought we’d seen everything.

Still no underground.

Where do we look?

Then we got an idea.

The slave market has to have some underground people involved somewhere. I mean trafficking people would have to get some bad apples if anything could. The place is a huge open air small tent village with all kinds of people going through it and being stuck in it while chained up. I can see wealthy people well dressed also going through its small corral trying to pick up a good deal too. There’s also lots of guards around it to keep public order, some private and some are city sponsored.

They get slaves from somewhere and someone has to process those and hide away any reasons that caused the slavery that are sketchy from public view. We’re not sure but probably not all the slaves come from debt stuff too. Some of them are war slaves, and a whole host of others.

Some are probably kidnapped. I’m sure they will never admit that.

So we decide to go hang out near the slave market. Plus it’s a good chance to get good allies maybe…? We can only guess at that actually.

Sunghee does get a bit nervous here, or maybe that was just an excuse to hold my hand. “Be careful here,” she said.

These slaves here aren’t as good as the ones on the auction on the mage network but still not bad. I think the ones on the mage magic network just have more concentrated from wide varieties of territories so that’s why it’s like that. But it’s still a good experience for us. So we go ask questions. But the slave auction employees are hard to deal with. They don’t want you to sit there and ask tons of questions and it’s obvious.

They are probably worried about the law poking around, even though slavery is legal.

“So where did that guy come from?” I asked the shop employee referencing a nearby slave. We don’t particular care about this slave but we want to make sure what’s going on and how it works. Of course we asked about several of them and this is just one example. The employee here is an asshole though.

“The grasslands duh. Stupid question,” the dwarf there is pretty dour.

“And that girl?” Sunghee asked about a particular one.

“She’s already purchased. The one next to her as well. A couple of the nobles keep buying up stock recently. Sorry,” the dour dwarf answered.

Sunghee frowned.

“What about that one over there? Why’s she look sickly?” I asked.

“Sh-she’s not sick! We absolutely don’t sell any bad product!” he defended. He said it a bit too quickly to actually think about if my concern were real, so I don’t believe him yet.

“So how do we know how you guys got the slave?” I asked in follow up.

“A slave is a slave. Everything here has legitimate papers and solid enchants so they won’t run off or go wild. The slave enchant process prevents them from turning on their master and is done by a mage specialized in slave enchanting with a zero failure rate. And where there’s more than one owner there is a proper document transfer trail. We don’t like ownership disputes,” he countered.

“Eh? There’s a failure rate on slave enchants?” Sunghee asked.

“Hell no! Do you think anyone would buy them if there were?” he snorted.

“We don’t like ownership disputes. Good quality and we have paperwork for each one,” he stated again more firmly.

“We just want to figure this out,” Sunghee said to me.

He appeared to be trying to look at us to see if we were trying to con him for a second.

Suddenly someone is yelling stuff from the back of the pavilion tent shop where we can’t see into. Then the employee’s boss yelled at him for avoiding our questions. He comes back over after getting chewed out for a good two minutes.

“Sorry. I should have been more polite. My boss will discipline me. That guy’s a debt slave and so is the girl you asked about,” came the reply, this time this guy’s friendlier with his boss hovering near by though it is forced. He said it while flinching, so I think he’s got a punishment coming.

“So where do they come from if they aren’t debt slaves?” I asked.

“Some are war slaves, others are debt slaves, then there are the crime slaves too but we had those mindwiped to prevent them from repeating it so don’t worry, and the last group is kids their parents either couldn’t afford or didn’t want, orphans, or just sold after picking them up as runaways. There’s always a reason though. Also to be fair, under dwarven law I’m disclosing that absolutely 100% of all our slaves are over 12 as required by law,” he said proudly as if it were something to brag about. Then he winked at us which is creepy.

Yuck. Is he implying that…

I think he is. That’s pathetic. I have the desire to leave suddenly.

Sunghee’s face screwed up in disgust. “That’s what I hate about these places,” Sunghee whispered in my ear. She is unnaturally close to me because of not liking this place. I feel her arm link into mine for comfort and to make sure I didn’t leave her here alone.

“So did you know about that?” I whispered to her.

Her eyes widened. “No way! No way I’d know about something like that.”

“So you do disclose the crime if it’s a crime slave right?” I asked quickly to the shop employee.

He nodded briefly. “We do and ask that you not remind the slave about it after their minds are wiped, but there’s a paperwork fee for that and all the other stats too. Naturally if you are a customer and take care of the right forms and fees we will disclose everything that can help you be sure you have the right product.”

“I see. Well what about previous owners? Do you disclose that and for how long they have been with each? I’d hate to pick a kid up that’s already half dead from being worked to death in the mines,” I said.

I wouldn’t mind saving a kid from the mines if I had my own house. I’m still not sure how this world works yet though.

“Oh that never happens. We don’t deal in faulty or damaged product,” the dwarf said a bit too quickly.

“It happens with cattle and horses all the time. How could it not happen with slaves?” Sunghee interjected.

Dang, she’s right. Hadn’t thought about it like that. People make a habit of selling cattle and other livestock when they think there is something wrong with it, or if it doesn’t have a lot of time left. So the slave version probably has that sort of thing too.

The dwarf corrected himself. “Look my boss doesn’t like THAT particular question. I don’t want to get in any more trouble than I already am. But if you ask me about someone in particular I will tell you,” he whispered under his hand. He gave me a quick nod.

Sunghee gives him the remaining silver we’d taken from the two thieves after factoring in some of the cost of copper lost from runners. “If you were us what would you be asking?” she said.

I hope she did the right question but it’s worth a try.

The dwarf smiled. “Hey thanks. I like you.” He pocketed the coin quickly and smugly while making sure his boss wasn’t looking.

Is his boss the type that would steal his own employee’s tips?

“So in regards to your question, some of the things you ask are fairly basic. Skills, languages, combat experience, where they came from, age, if they have any current desire to bring down the current government you are working in can be an issue or if they have homicidal tendencies, if they have certain racial hatreds is important because that can make some of them unpredictable when around their racial nemesis, particularly if you hire non-dwarves and stay in the dwarven country. You can be liable for damages if they rage too, so if you put a dwarf and a dark elf slave together think about what could happen. Ask if they’ve killed anyone both directly and indirectly, why they were made a slave, if they would act on revenge if they could or were given the freedom to do so. You’d be surprised how many slave owners think they have their slaves trust and turn them loose thinking they will stay with them and then have their throats cut overnight with that person missing. Try to get a good feel for their mental disposition before taking them on permanently too. In short don’t take any chances.”

Sunghee and I cringed.

“A good question is just if they think that they could like you if it weren’t for the slave part. If the slave doesn’t like you, even with the slave enchants binding them they will never get the best gas mileage, somehow there’s an efficiency loss even with the enchant’s obedience compulsion. Also it helps if you pay for someone to use telepathy while buying a slave that way you get better answers to your questions and may find things that they haven’t told you but that they still haven’t lied about. It will cost you a bit more but that’s worth it,” he said.

“That sounds like a good idea. With telepathy, you could find out more,” Sung agreed.

“Is telepathy a common enough spell that we won’t be bankrupted though?” I asked her.

“Telepathy mages are pretty common. The government, or actually many governments like having a lot of them around for war interrogations and stuff or intelligence operations specifically and spy networking. And a lot of them are permitted to work coin on the side when off duty, even if military as long as it doesn’t conflict with their existing duties. If it were me I’d find an off duty military mage telepathy specialist. That way you will save some money too, since those are less expensive. The full on mages will always charge more because they don’t get free room and board from the government,” the dwarf finished.

Wow he’s good. He’s thought this through.

“Intelligence operations are something we will probably need in the future,” Sunghee whispered to me.

“You think so?” I said.

“Yeah, think about it. You have to screen people entering our group. You also have to make sure that you can control certain things like Doppel-chan. Wouldn’t a telepathy mage be good for working with her to make sure she’s safe to be around?” Sunghee asked me.

“That’s a good idea. A telepathy mage could help us know when she’s about to rage,” I said at almost the same time Sunghee did.

“It’s kind of a long shot too but maybe Lottie will let us switch someone out in place of Rina. We just won’t tell her the other one is more expendable,” Sunghee said.

“That’s worth a try too huh? Thanks for suggesting it,” I said.

“Of course she’ll know if it’s not some fodder bought cheap. The only way that would work is if its high quality slave,” Sunghee suggested in follow up.

We turned back to the shop employee.

“How do you make sure a slave can’t attack its owner? You mentioned an enchant system earlier but can you tell us more?” Sung asked for me.

The dwarf nodded at several of them. “That’s easy enough. It’s a particular subgenre of law magic that has its own category now. So its not just enchants only but a mix of enchantment magic and law magic together. People basically specialize on it. The purchased slave will be put under a strict law enchant that their owner is so and so and that they have to follow his or her orders exactly and can’t lie to him or her. But there are limitations. You can’t order a slave to kill themselves, except for weak minded goblins, some sick-o made an exception to that for them way back in the day for dwarven sporting events. I’ve heard if their minds are weak enough that will work with kobolds too but almost never for orcs. But for humans and other races it won’t work, both for their willpower to live and for the enchants side of the matter. Some of them might even break free if you did something reckless like that. But you’d have to really mean it, saying something like a slip of the tongue because they spilled your wine isn’t going to trigger it unless you really wanted them dead.”

“Eh?!” both of us exclaimed.

“It’s scary that they know that trick won’t work on humans,” Sunghee whispered to me.

I cringed realizing what she meant.

“Also you can’t order slaves to believe something ridiculous or to do something impossible that might injure themselves. You can and a lot of people do often buy them for adventuring as guards or for soldiers and that’s fine, there won’t be any problems there. It’s also not considered asking them to do self injury to work in combat to the death arenas, in case you were about to ask that. Some people do. That’s what I’d do if it were me,” the dwarf explained.

“Cool thanks. Sorry just one more question, “Who would I talk to about selling a slave. I have this friend who thinks next year he won’t have enough for taxes and he’s thinking of getting rid of one of his kids. Naturally they look healthy and are good workers,” I asked.

This is the cover story we cooked up. This should get us to our goal of finding a demonologist. Demonologists are involved heavily in the slave trades we’d found out so we want to build some contacts there and follow them up to see where they go.

“Well you can just sell it to us,” he countered wondering why there had to be a discussion.

Not the answer I was looking for. We were trying to find the shady types and people with almost no morals even though its gross just thinking about it, who knew what we really wanted without us saying it.

Luckily I came up with a good counter. 

“Well…um…how should I say it? This is a bit complicated. This person also has another slave that has…let’s say they want to sort of white wash them with other slaves so that the ownership can’t be questioned or traced to. They don’t want this matter linked to them. I think they are looking for something similar to what’s called ‘money laundering’ but with slaves instead,” I said under my breath and in a low voice so only this dwarf could here.

He suddenly paled. “I-I think I get what you are referring to. You mean those types of people who handle special cases.” He gave me a careful nod with big eyes. He suddenly looked like he wanted to run away and was sweating visibly.

Sunghee also carefully nodded to him.

The dwarf seemed a bit leery of me after that. “Well I don’t actually like this trade much and our shop isn’t equipped to handle that sort of a transaction. I have a family to support so I was forced to do this and I’m only prepared to risk so much. I’d encourage your friend to not give up their kid if it were me. And not just for the law cracking down on us when they can catch certain things we won’t mention. But when things like that do happen talk to the guy on this address, it’s a couple of brothers but only talk to the one with the name on the back of the parchment card, not the other one and not any employees. He can get it set up and can handle those sort of special cases you are referring to including slave and money laundering but you didn’t hear that from me. I’ll write the address for you on the back of this slip of parchment. If you mention my name he’ll give you a 10% discount.”

“You two seem like a nice couple. Thanks for your patronage. But make sure you don’t get caught and don’t ever mention my name or remember me in this. After today you don’t know me, you’ve never met me, and I don’t want to take any shit for this,” the dwarf bowed before we left. He seemed glad to leave.

Sweet.

I think we just found our underground market location representative. We don’t have proof yet and we’re going to check it out. But if anyone in a city was an undergrounder, you’d think it would be the guy buying people to train and put them into the slave market right?

This guy should be able to help us get set with a demonologist.

I can’t believe it’s taken this long.

I need to toughen up my alertness and cunning factor too. This is getting more questionable and there’s a chance that dealing with these types of people might have consequences in other ways. I have to protect myself.

So we’ve found an opening unexpectedly in our long quest to find a demonologist. Will said person also know how to deal with witches?

I still refuse to accept leaving Rina in the hands of Lottie.

I want a night guard too in addition to just Sunghee and for a whole lot of other reasons but don't want to just buy low quality trash so we'll watch the slave market carefully over time for something good. 

 

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