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A note from naosu

Thanks for your support. XD

Dreamweaver Chapter 171

 

 

 

 

 

Finally we left the slave auction place. It’s actually good that we didn’t buy anything there this time because we don’t really know what’s good or bad there yet. If we just bought the first thing we saw we’d have a lot of missed opportunities by not being patient.

After footing around all day we need a break and to relax our minds. They have two major parks in this city, with giant sunlamps lighting up both of them through magic so that stuff can grow here from the cavern ceiling several hundred meters above us. And because of the sun lamps and who knows whatever other enchants are involved, the dwarves have managed to make this vast underground city park have a wealth of green trees, peaceful flowers, and a meadow like feel with a clean pond in the middle.

Sunghee and I find ourselves walking towards this peaceful area, though now that we know how warlike this world is we still keep our guard up and make sure we’re not followed by anything.

All kinds of benches follow the brick road going through the park, with many different dwarven couples spaced throughout it. But unlike human culture where a park like this would become a haven for people making out, the extreme conservative flavor of dwarven culture makes it so most of them are sitting up straight, acting tight laced and afraid to move with their dates, and only holding hands innocently. They also resemble people that don’t know how to act on dates in a way, which is a little bit amusing.

Sunghee is rubbing my back while we rest in the dwarven park. We sit on the benches while we’re supposedly eating lunch.

It ends up something like me lying down while using Sunghee’s toned athletic looking legs as soft pillows while she hums to me a Korean lullaby from when she was a kid. Then while listening to it, I get to drink a certain type of milk from a certain person while she’s eating an MRE from the summoned box and has a canteen. All of this while enjoying heaven and looking up at Sunghee’s beautiful smiling face, while both of us feel peaceful wonder. This is the life. If I’d have known this park was here sooner I’d be here every day.

We also found out about this place from one of the dwarven runners before we retired them for the day earlier.

“This park is so peaceful. It’s hard to believe we were …or still are fighting for our lives in this city,” Sunghee said with twinkling eyes.

She gave me a romantic kiss on the head.

“Thanks lover,” I said while holding her hand.

“No problem,” she winked aggressively. She’s also happy. Who knew life could be this wonderful.

“You know Shun. I …have wanted to tell you this for awhile. But …thanks. Thanks for giving us hope. After finding myself in this world, you can imagine how awful it is to find everything a mess and everyone is desperate. Our lives are better than these other people. We have food and clothing and while our safety is often threatened we don’t live in fear like these other people do of being defenseless. It’s because of that, being with someone who isn’t desperate and always on the take or dying, or killing someone that I think my life is better now,” Sunghee said earnestly while giving me a kiss.

“Thanks,” I said. “You are pretty awesome too.”

“You know I realized I hate being defenseless. Even though I want that cabin in the woods life I noticed that I don’t want to ever stop studying martial techniques both armed and unarmed. I want to be able to always be able to never ever be taken again. So I hope you can enroll me in some kind of martial arts training classes here,” she said.

“Uh, I suppose the dwarves might have something like that here,” I said.

“Can you find out for me?” she asked seriously.

“Yeah, it might take some time though. Are you OK with that?” I replied.

“Please do,” she said.

Then she bit her lip and wanted to say something else.

“Just don’t become bad OK? You have to be careful what this world is doing to you. I would be lying if I didn’t worry about what that box is trying to do to change you. Even people like you are changing for good or bad,” she added right after.

I couldn’t help but frown. I didn’t like that idea.

“But I’m not saying that because you are becoming bad or anything. I just see that you have a really pure kind of heart, full of love. So I’m telling you so we can protect it,” she hurriedly added while blushing.

“Thanks.”

I couldn’t say much more though because I feel bitter that the demon box is trying to change me. And I can’t unleash that heart ache on Sunghee.

When she looks around to make sure no other dwarves are nearby or can see us, she then suddenly pushes my head under her shirt and flashes me her boobs while pulling the shirt up.

Scandalous…and she’s getting more turned on.

“That’s a reward by the way for being awesome,” she giggled.

Immediately I’m excited. But I’m not into being an exhibitionist. Well technically they weren’t exhibited to others. While cupping her boob from under her shirt, I cover them both while my hand lingers inside. For her, me touching them is somewhat relaxing thanks to the pheromones.

“That was surprising. What brought that on?” I asked curiously.

“You’ve been good. I wanted to reward you. Also I have to be as shameless as possible to stay ahead of the other wives,” she chuckled, as if trying whisper it.

Suddenly she turned and looked around. “Wait, this is weird. What’s going on?”

I turned too.

Sunghee pointed it and I can see we’re surrounded by cats. It’s not natural to have this many cats either. There must be at least three dozen of them alone, though they look like normal house cats. This many cats can only mean one thing. That person must be here or close by.

This can only be one person…Lottie. She must be coming back. Is she here to collect her silver?

It puts both of us on extreme alertness. Both of us sat straight up and are no longer sitting on the bench. Unfortunately that also means I don’t get to cup her boob in my hands anymore. As I’m releasing them they jiggle back into place under her shirt. We both stand up and are looking around now.

“There’s like thirty of the cats here,” Sunghee said. She drew her weapon out. She stands in front of me.

I wonder if the cats themselves might try anything. We don’t know how far their brainwashing by the witch has gone.

But I decided to de-summon her right then and so I did so. I don’t want to make her get cursed like Rina either. Then I would be further pushed into an even deeper and much deeper hell. She wants to protect me even to the point of losing her own life. I can’t have that. She’s too valuable to me.

If I were to search the whole dwarven kingdom there’s no way I’d find a girl that could replace Sunghee, and not only for sentimental reasons. She had both loyalty, honesty, and beauty combined with skills and experience. It was a perfect combination of ingredients that was difficult to find; particularly beauty combined with lack of ego, humility, and loyalty mixed together was hard to find in people on any world.

Within two minutes there’s a pumpkin carriage that rides up and stops about twenty feet away from us, even as the number of stray cats continued to increase.  The cats did stay organized however and were even in a formation line of sorts resembling a semi-hemispheric curved line facing towards me but with perfect order in a strange eerie strangeness even for this world. Two butler cats open the pumpkin carriage’s door and Lotti the bitch witch gracefully steps out and down onto the cobble stone ring that surrounds the pond in the middle of this park. Then she approaches us.

Our wait didn’t last for long. This is like Cinderella from hell.

“So long time no see,” Lottie chirps looking at us with a triumphant yet very dominant smile that’s complemented with a  ‘don’t fuck with me’ look. She still has the evil Goth look this time just like last time.

“So you are here for the extortion money?” I said to confirm.

She frowned. “Labeling it won’t save you. This is protection! Protection! You understand?” she said. She looks like a spoiled princess actually and even has a twerpy sick look on her face like someone who always gets her way. She even curtseys for us.

“I’m just calling the kettle black. No harm no foul,” I countered.

She chuckled, “you are kind of interesting. But I don’t play with my food. Oh where’s that other girl that was with you? I heard she was with you just a minute ago but I don’t see her,” she looked around quickly.

I didn’t answer. How is the best way to answer that? Naturally I can’t let Lottie have her clutches on Sung either, until I figure out a way to beat her. And if I were Lottie I might sow some hidden curse traps on people that could be sprung hidden in living tissue with magic if they betray me.

Her being too curious about my other allies is also a signal that hiding Sunghee from her was probably the right decision. Why else would she be asking about her? Sunghee is too important to let her curse too. That’s hopefully on the basis that she won’t curse me because someone has to earn her extortion money.

“Oh well it doesn’t matter. As long as you have my fees we should be fine. I’ll even tolerate your poor attitude towards my protection services. You do have my fees right? Otherwise things might become bad for certain cats,” she said raising an eyebrow.

One of the cats started meowing something to her and suddenly she glared at me with surprise.

“I think you saw it wrong,” she said to the cat. “Nobody has an ability like that.”

Did that cat just rat me out? I think it was relaying what it had seen to her somehow but I don’t know if it’s through telepathy or just some form of cat speech.

I glanced at the cat in question. That cat then ran behind Lottie and is hiding out of sight.

Yeah I’m pretty sure that cat did rat me out now.

Luckily she has doubt in the cat. Maybe it was a new spy?

Then the cat growled and meowed something. She looked at me again.

“My, my, aren’t you full of surprises,” she eerily looked me over.

It’s best if I conclude my business with her asap and get out of here.

“You wanted 40 silver,” I said.

“Per day,” Lottie reminded me carefully.

“Right, per day. Let’s just cut the chit chat and end things peacefully and go our separate ways,” I tried to remain tough. I don’t want her asking about Sunghee. I can deal with this. After getting 3 gold and some silver I’ll be able to pay her with no loss this week. But next week will have to be thought of early on too.

“Not so fast,” she said with a sharp tone of voice.

“You tried to trap me on purpose didn’t you?” she added in an accusatory tone.

“Huh?”

“Dwarven law enchants would put me on the criminal list automatically for stealing Rina who just happened to be under a slave enchant which has protection ownership in effect. You didn’t tell me about that,” the witch explained.

“What? I don’t follow you,” I said.

“Did you not think I wouldn’t notice she’s a slave?!” the witch screeched. She huffed and was pacing back and forth.

“I’m confused. What are you talking about?” I said.

“You…don’t appear to be lying…?” Lottie looks surprised at me.

“I can tell when people lie to me so don’t even try it,” she said.

I don’t remember making Rina a slave…? What’s going on here?

“Please explain it to me, I’m confused,” I said.

“Whatever…go talk to a slave merchant fool. They’ll explain it clearly,” she said in angry retort.

So extortion has rules that it won’t break? Confusing if you ask me... I thought she wanted to have lots of cats around her. I don’t yet know if this is a weak spot. She’s upset but she caught it early. I guess she doesn’t like magic tracking by the local law enforcement though. Even though she can fight them one on one I guess this is similar to how mob bosses don’t like attention from the law.

“I thought you knew that and wanted that. I’m not in a position to negotiate and this is your game not mine. You are a first rate witch. I haven’t tried to keep anything from you. For all I know you confronting me about it now is also some kind of test,” I said to deflect her and buy time.

She looked furious. “Brat! Under the dwarven kingdom’s law enchants if I keep your slave or a slave that doesn’t belong to me, then I will be put on an automatic bounty list through the city’s law enchant monitoring system. You almost had me put on a criminal list if I would have had her another day! Trying such a trick like that won’t work on me.”

She still looks upset.

“I’m sorry?” I said stating it as a question.

“Whatever…” she huffed.

So I flashed her again the tiny sock of silver coins that I’d prepared. The same ones I’d laced with my pheromones. “I don’t want any trouble. You are obviously powerful. I just want me and my people intact,” I said carefully.

That’s odd though. So she can kidnap other people as cursed into cat forms but only if they aren’t slaves? If they are then she gets noticed by the law….

Hmm…

“Take your cat please,” she said. She rang a bell and the Patches version of Rina is suddenly purring like crazy and running around all over my feet rubbing against me. This cat refuses to part with me to the point of tripping all over my boots from both it and myself. I’ve never seen a cat this loyal, rubbing its fur all over me but that’s because it’s recognizable as Rina and not really a cat. I’d considered the fact that she might give me a fake cat that isn’t Rina too, in order to create more leverage but that clearly isn’t the case here. Strangely she didn’t take her anger out on Rina…or Patches if you prefer.

Dang. Rina is still cursed…or polymorphed as a cat huh?

“That’s generous of you to return her, but I still expect you to keep her human form intact please,” I added carefully trying to not sound too proud or too humble.

She nodded, “just stick to the deal. 40 silver per day. I know it’s a stretch but you can totally handle it. I’ll take today’s payment and then come back in a week. No funny business and no one gets hurt. As long as you keep up the payments her humanity is still in there, but just locked away. It won’t be lost permanently as long as you don’t cross me.”

So I paid her the money. It’s tough. 40 silver a day is a lot of money even though I have other money. I also brought and arranged it ahead of time so that she doesn’t see me pulling it from the other money. If I do that then she’ll know I have more and then try to figure out how to get the rest of it. It’s annoying too that I’m more upset about paying her than I would have if she’d try to kill me. The loss of money comes from my future and I think that’s why it bothers me so much.

She took the small disposable sock that’s got a bunch of silver coins in it. She counted it carefully and suspiciously. “Good, I see it’s all here. As long as you keep things going with me then we won’t have any problems.”

I worry though.

I mean the inn got attacked right. So did she lose a bunch of customers that she was extorting at that inn? And if so that might make her more reckless and uptight. So a non-related event could make her angrier than normal, but I don’t want to mention that. Some of her cat army is probably relatives of the inn people. The only thing I know for sure is that Lottie wouldn’t be behind the inn attack because she wouldn’t kill the people that are faithfully paying her.

You would think I’d want her to lose ‘clients’, but the danger of that is she’d lean more heavily on the ones that remain because of not wanting to give up her luxurious lifestyle.

“You did the right thing. If I really wanted to, I could level this whole town. That’s the power of an emperor class witch,” she said coldly.

What do I say to that? Is she serious?

This is complicated. If Lottie is really that powerful that she could level the whole dwarven fortress, and it’s the most powerful city in the dwarven kingdom’s southern providence, then…going against her would be futile.

“Well then…thanks for the tip. Normally I’d have tea and chat but I have an urgent matter that requires my attention,” she said.

“How will I know how to find you in a week?” I asked.

She looked really cross and angry now. “You won’t. See you soon. Don’t look for me. I’ll find you, no matter where you are.”

As she’s turning to leave, she did some hand signal and all the cats are now arranged like rows and columns of troops both in front of and in back of the pumpkin carriage. They are marching with stiff discipline too, like little nazi troopers. The ones she’s had for a long time can even march on two feet tip toeing to mimic people. It’s kind of spooky actually. But the ones that can’t do it are probably the ones she hasn’t had as long.

It’s weird to see cats do that human bodyguard posse like movements together as a unit. She’s obviously training them.

The only way to beat her is leverage. I need a lot of leverage as soon as possible for dealing with this kind of scum since this is how she does her battles.

I have to do something that will gain that leverage, but what?

I was pretty cautious after Lotti left before I pulled Sunghee back out. I waited until long after I believed she couldn’t be close by. We didn’t want to have Lotti following us anymore than she already was. It’s hard to watch out for cats too in this city because the black fur coats blend in well in the darkness of the streets too.

It was then the blue screen popped up, right after Sunghee was summoned again. In fact it was at exactly the same time. I wondered if that was because the box sensed that I used Sunghee as my interpreter.

“Hey what’s that?” Sunghee asked right after I’d released the spell to summon her.

“Oh? That wasn’t there a second ago,” I said.

“Lets read it,” she smiled.

“Yeah, I hope it’s something good. We’ve had so many setbacks,” I sighed.

“Don’t worry Shun. Things are getting better. You are getting better. Keep resisting this adversity and you’ll be tough,” she smiled but had sad eyes.

“Oh…this is interesting,” she said as she’s tracing over the hieroglyphics. She’s reading the blue screen carefully.

“Yeah?”

She reads it aloud. “Demon prince candidate slave protection system discovered and unlocked.”

“Wait, is that what protected Rina then? I don’t remember making her a slave, though I did put her in one of the slave crystals at one point,” I noted.

“I think that’s it. You triggered a hidden skill that protects your interests as a summoner Shun! This is amazing!” Sunghee said quickly.

Suddenly I couldn’t help but smile. “So…does this mean I can break Lottie’s curse?”

“Wait, I hadn’t thought about it that way. I’m not sure, let me read some more,” Sunghee said while tracing the hieroglyphics. “…reading Egyptian is a pain…” I heard her mutter.

“Saving Rina isn’t a pain though,” I smiled.

“I want to save anyone on our team. Even if its that seedy Gyle that always stares at my chest I’d rescue him too,” Sunghee said.

“Well …everyone stares at your chest. Me too,” I blushed.

“Really? I like it when you do that,” she smiled big.

“Um back to the matter at hand…” I said.

“Oh right… so it seems this system prevents others from stealing your slaves. Its description says it will work with using law enchants on both demon and good race controlled towns and areas. That’s good too, most people law enchants only work on the side they serve. So it’s unique that yours work in both good and evil areas,” Sunghee said with surprise as she read.

“Hmm because it’s a high powered entity’s box…” I frowned. That’s kind of bad actually. It’s proof that I can’t underestimate the box.

“Yeah don’t underestimate the box,” Sunghee muttered.

“What else does it say?” I asked.

“Just that it appears to be a skill you can level up Shun,” Sunghee said.

“So is that confirmation that we can bust the curse on Rina through this slave protection system?” I asked.

“I think so. So go for it. I think this might be the best way. You just have to figure out how to do that. Bust the enchant by strengthening the ability and process of the slave protection system. If Lottie is really as powerful as she says she is, and she doesn’t seem like the type to say empty words, then this is safer too,” Sunghee said.

“Sweet!” I cried out.

***Demon Prince Candidate Slave Protection system active!***

Sunghee and I then made a point of sneaking through several backstreets and alleys to try to throw off anyone following us. Even though we couldn’t see anyone there was the assumption that we probably don’t have such great skill at detecting them that we’d see them every time. The witch would also protect her investment, since 40 silver per day is quite a bit of cash. Just that amount seems to prove there has to be some of the witch’s faction watching us.

While moving Rina is following us with pleading like eyes and always near my feet. We make sure to grab her and part of the way Sunghee carries her, and then part of the way I carry her too.

It took a lot of time to resolve this of making sure we weren’t followed as we made an extensive ruse of back tracking, crossing over streets, hiding, doing fake moves, and everything we could think of for at least an hour.

Then we finally were able to find the contact’s locations that the slave market employee had given us.

Then we head to the name and address of that piece of parchment that we were given. When we cross town and finally find the place it’s got a big wooden sign on the front building that says, ‘We Buy Slaves!’ in bold red ink.

I notice normal townsfolk don’t seem to like that building and avoid going near it. There’s a fear of becoming a slave by normal people, which you might expect. We also studied the building across the street for a few minutes to get a feel for it.

Among the considerations we looked at Sunghee and I asked each other the following questions;

Is there a chance by going in the building we could get nabbed too?

How many potential guards and thugs are around or inside the building? Naturally we don’t see any but they must be there.

What kind of people run it?

What are our chances of being betrayed?

What is the disposition of others leaving the building after finishing business? Do they look roughed up? Do they look unhappier going out than in? We weren’t able to conclude this easily because people with enough money for slaves don’t just pop in and out all the time.

Finally we determined that we can only determine so much through scouting.

Before going in I de-summoned Rina, which I can do now, just like I can do with Sunghee, Sylvie, and Asakura.

As we enter the shop a bell on the door tinkles and there’s the smell of musty old leather furniture inside. I can see desks and cartographer stations too, and a nice salon like area that looks designed to hold many people at once with elaborate crystal tables and luxurious cloth sofas that looked extremely comfortable.

A gnomish looking dwarf greets us. “Greetings! What can I do for you?”

I didn’t know dwarves that looked and dressed like gnomes existed but they do. It might be some form of rebellion against dwarven authority and a sort of cult phase or trend going on but I’m not sure which, or if both.

I pointed out who we were asking for. The name on the back of the card made from hardened parchment, which I couldn’t actually say or read the dwarven print but all I had to do was show it to him so he could read it from the parchment card hanging in my fingertips for him to read.

The thin dwarf in a long white beard with the reedy nose pales for a bit but then says, “Wait here. I’ll be right back.” Then he’s gone to a back door that looks heavily reinforced. There are two golems guarding that door that are dwarven sized and shaped with red crystals for their faces too, carrying swords and shields.  

The golems make no move to try to either notice or move against me. They look scary and very sturdily dangerous so we are careful not to make any noise as we wait on the sofa.

So I don’t dare relax.

“It doesn’t look like a trap,” Sunghee whispered to me after carefully looking over the room. Even so, neither of us touch anything. She keeps her guard up and is ready to move both herself and cover me at the drop of the hat. Sunghee placed her hand on my knee while we wait for emotional support, and I can feel she’s very tense.

In a few minutes a fellow that looks just like the previous dwarf came out, except a black beard that reaches the floor came out. Overall he looks like a twin of the other one except for the sharply intelligent looking face and eyes and beard color differences. He looks so cunning it almost hurts to look him in the eye if you aren’t brave.

“What can I do for you?” he asked. He gave a polite bow but there’s no mistake that he’s probably dangerous, even though he’s dressed to try to pass as harmless. He studied both of us individually carefully. There’s something in his eyes that looks intense and like as if dead though, in spite of his fake looking smile.

I then hand him a sock with ten silver in it. “We’re looking for some special help, something that not everyone can help us with. We were hoping you might be able to point us in the right direction,” Sunghee said with a smile.

The little dwarf that looks like a gnome paled. “Ugh…I’ve been trying to get out of that business. It never seems to work. The more I resist, the more business comes at me.” He shakes his head sadly, but then sighed.

“But I can’t get out of it. They won’t let me….”

I don’t pit him so much. If he’s the contact person for the underground then he must have done some shady stuff to be where he’s at. He rants and complains for a good twenty minutes but then offered us some tea.

For being such a small bodied guy, he sure whines a lot.

Naturally we politely refuse the tea. There’s a fear of being drugged or worse and these are known dark side contacts that are believed to have trust that only goes as far as a business transaction can allow to be conducted. We’re also not here to make friends, even if it is considered bad etiquette to refuse them.

“Hehe. Couldn’t fool you could I? So are you selling this girl to me for a slave? She could get a lot of money!” he said gesturing to Sunghee. He looks like he’s about to start rubbing his hands together as his eyes twinkle.

“NO WAY!” both of us exclaimed.

“Let’s leave Shun. This place is trouble,” Sunghee urged me openly.

“No wait! Sorry! Sorry, sorry! Give me a chance. I’ll try to listen to your requests,” the little man seemed panicky about losing money.

“No tricks. Any more bull shit and I’ll turn your eyes into grape jelly,” I told him harshly.

He nodded slowly. “Got it.”

Sunghee is glued to my side now, and very upset. As she’s pushing into me I can feel her warmth but now she’s like psychologically vulnerable because of this punk dwarf.

He annoys me now a lot.

“Ahh, a pity,” he looked really sad and almost offended. He was too greedy to be offended I guessed by looking at how cunning he was. It’s obvious he wants to acquire Sunghee too.

“Let’s get straight to business. We have several things we need help with,” I said.

“OK, just a second,” he said.

Then he motioned for the other dwarf to come over. But I was surprised by what he did next. “I’d like for you to come back in two hours. Not before, do you understand? And make sure we’re not disturbed and nothing is heard,” he said to his twin.

The twin looked a bit shaken up but complied.

Then before we could talk the dwarf invited us over to sit near the woodstove that was warming the place up. He then pulled out a note pad, ink quill, prepared himself to write things down, and a long black pipe was taken out of a nearby drawer.

I don’t like smoking but…what can I say?

“So you have several things you need help with hmm? Normally there’s an initiation process but you have the look of a sucker ready to have his coin taken from him. You also gave me a nice starter tip so I can see you are serious and I don’t want to let an opportunity walk out the door without being snatched up. So I’ll make an exception this time,” he got his pen and inkwell ready.

What an asshole. Also so greedy, but he looks smart and cunning too.

Sunghee gives me a warning look.

“First, there’s a witch blackmailing us. You may have heard of her. The one called Lottie,” I said.

Immediately this fellow recognized the name. In fact, when we mentioned her name I thought I saw the ink writing quill in his hand tremor a little bit. “Yeah, we’ve had trouble with her for some time. Our people don’t like her either. But the problem is she’s so good at curses that people are afraid to fight her. And no one has ever survived crossing her. No mage or proper mercenary is willing to go against her; even Cassius refused job orders by the city lord to go against her. And I think the City Lord and his people kind of pretend she doesn’t exist too.  So there’s not much we can do. We’ve yet to find a way to get rid of her and she’s immune to poison. Sorry I won’t be able to help you with that problem. And if I could have before now then I wouldn’t be having problems with her now either.”

“No poison huh? So we’ll have to find something else,” Sunghee said voicing her thoughts. It’s clear that Sunghee doesn’t like the witch.

“Yeah, she has to have some vulnerability though,” I said.

The dwarf looked skeptical. “So what do you want me for? I can’t do anything about her,” the gnome,…err dwarf that looks like a gnome said.

“We want you to have some people follow her for a few days. We don’t want you to fight her. Oh and she uses her cats as spies and is constantly surrounded by them so whoever followers her has to be pretty good and be aware that she’ll try to watch back in return. At any rate we need some leverage over her. So have some people follow her until they can find that leverage and then we might be able to do something when we talk about it next time,” I said.

The dwarf stiffened a bit, while sipping his smoking pipe which wasn’t lit. “Oh, that’s not a bad plan actually. I supposed we could just do some following and espionage but nothing outright beyond that. I’m curious how that might turn out myself. Are you looking for a job? I know a few people that like smart people like you.”

“No thank you!” Sunghee said firmly for both of us.

The little pipsqueak looked offended. “You didn’t have to be so uptight about it.”

We shrugged apologetically.

“Sorry,” Sunghee said.

“Oh she’s polite huh? I like her,” he licked his lips.

Yeah bringing Sunghee here was a two edged sword. He’s obviously staring at her like everyone else does. But I don’t like that.

“Find out who her family is first of all. It seems she’s hell bent on revenge because of some things that happened to her people. So maybe she’s got a weak spot for family? Some of the things she said made us think this,” I suggested.

Sunghee quickly agreed.

The gnome dwarf nodded quickly and it’s as if the gears in his head are turning. “I like that idea. Should have done it myself to be honest. Fact is, normally I don’t do this but she …some time ago she took and still has a nephew of one of my mistresses. The nephew himself isn’t worth much but it’s one of my favorite mistresses you understand. I can’t screw this up if I want to keep facing her. I’m willing to chip in on this part of the job. For 50 silver I’ll have results by the end of the week,” he said.

Thank goodness for mistresses. Now we have a chink in the armor of this little guy to help us smoothen things out and go forward.

“Done,” I said.

“But you did say you’d chip in so how much are knocking off that 50 silver?” Sunghee asked curiously.

“Oops that’s true.  My bad, let me see here. Hmm, I’ll charge you 40 silver, and I’ll do the other 10 silver,” he said.

“That’s all?” Sunghee asked raising an eyebrow.

“Well this isn’t a charity. To even go that low I’m really bending over, you just aren’t acquainted enough with my business to see it,” he sneered.

“Right…” Sunghee said quickly.

Well its not a terribly great amount but it is a bit of a discount after all.

“Deal. Make it happen but don’t let it come back on us. Play it safe and take small risks that are controlled. We can’t let her catch us,” I said.

“You’re telling me that?! Hell, if she catches us we’ll be skinned alive,” he said while sweating.

“Naturally she will probably notice some of the shadows, so you should have some people be the dummy shadowers and some do the real work while the pieces in front of her eyes pose as being idiot good for nothing types to put her guard down,” Sunghee suggested.

“Good idea. I’ll get right on it. So if you can leave….” He started to say but we stopped him. He made as if to wave us out of his shop.

“We have two other items of business,” I said.

“Two, not one?” Sunghee raised an eyebrow.

“Oh dear me. Is that so? Business is booming today,” the dwarf adjusted the spectacles on his long thin nose carefully while chuckling. His hands rubbing together are just like a poster boy greedy used car salesman’s.

“First, and this is one of our most important things we need is, an introduction to a demonologist. We need to hire one to help with some research,” I said.

The dwarf’s pipe fell to the floor with a clatter. He then stiffened like he was about to have a heart attack. “Shit. I hate when people ask about that. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. I hate those guys. I’ll never be rid of them!”

“Sorry,” Sunghee apologized to him.

“Do you have any idea what you are asking?!” he responded in shock.

“Kind of. But there’s no other way to do this,” I said.

He shook his head. “I really hope you know how much trouble that is.”

Sunghee and I glanced at each other.

“So how much does that cost?” Sunghee asked.

The dwarf hesitated and looked at the fire in the wood stove for a long time. I wasn’t sure if this guy was going to refuse us but after a good while he finally spoke again. “You know I hate to see a young fellow ruin his life. Demonologists are bad company. The problem with this is if he likes you too much he won’t let you free of his schemes. And if he doesn’t like you or value you enough then you will be part of his prey or could be given to a minion of his as meat to be eaten. Plus he may randomly off people just to throw off enemy spies being planted as agents, show off his power, or clean up his organization of any suspected but not proven moles, and it looks seemingly random and hard to predict.”

“We have a few problems that it seems demonologists might be the most suited for that no one else can help with,” Sunghee said.

“I really hope you know what you are doing,” The gnome like dwarf is shaking his head with a warning voice.

“Well…how much is that going to cost?” I asked.

The dwarf pinched his nose while holding the pipe in his hand. “The problem isn’t money. The demonologist that visits this town likes to make people prove themselves worthy of his attention through various trials and hardships. He’s going to make you fight in the monster arena here before he’s going to be satisfied with helping you. He will of course place a bet on you. When he has enough money from your winnings then he’ll agree to help you. Naturally he doesn’t care about anything but his own ends and his own money. Most of those that gamble for his attention lose their lives before actually gaining his favor. And because this fellow is already rich he doesn’t care about money, but that just makes him more dangerous.”

“Are you sure you want to meet this guy Shun?” Sunghee asked.

I considered that question carefully.

Demonologist pros;

  • May learn more about Ghoul race, ghoul status, and anything we can tell about ghouls.
  • Slave crystals, and anything that can help us know about them to use them better.
  • Modified Slave crystals; this one in particular we know nothing and I haven’t been able to get the one I have to work yet.
  • Any information on evolving or mutations, possibly to find a route for upgrading Rina. Not only her but the others too, but she seems the weakest at the moment
  • We need Information on how to tame doppelgangers
  • How to interact with the mage-net sellers to ask specific questions about each piece on sale
  • How to gain access to demon cities safely

The cons are too many to list. Do I really want to do this?

“I think this is the only route for us,” I grudgingly admitted.

Sunghee quickly agreed while trying to look scholarly and serious.

“Just don’t die or do something worse than dying. I would feel bad then and I’m close to retirement. I don’t mind some of the petty stuff but I’m getting tired of jobs where people die. And the dwarves also have a saying something along the lines of, ‘thou shalt not die while you owe me’,” the gnome like dwarf said.

“Gotcha,” Sunghee said in return.

“And what’s the third thing then?” the dwarf had his arms folded.

“Access to a trustworthy person that can help with slave trades for advisement on inspection and possibly telepathy ability for screening. And naturally they’d have to be someone who wouldn’t undercut us and take the hard work for themselves,” I said.

“Done, I can do that it’s too easy. I have several people in mind that can help with that. When though?” he said.

“We’ll want to meet the demonologist first,” Sunghee said.

He frowned. “I won’t allow you to owe me any money without paying it off before you meet this guy. I’ll try to set up a meeting with some of these slave purchase advisors but the rule of thumb is to not use real names from either side since those people are always trying to ‘acquire new product’, don’t let them know where you live, and if possible wear a pretty good disguise. Also when you meet with one of them doesn’t have other slaves present, especially hotties like her,” he warned us.

“What? Why is that?” Sunghee asked.

“Duh…Because the same people that sell services as slave purchasing advisors are also the same ones that round up and capture people for slaves. And if they see something that looks too good to be true they might ignore rules,” he said harshly.

It’s obvious what he thinks will happen.

Wow, this is pretty complex.

And thinking about it, we’d want a small detect lie enchant of some kind just for dealing with the slave purchase advisor too.

Things to worry about +1

Or is it ‘Things to worry about + 1(squared)?

 So how am I going to level up this slave protection system without becoming more demon than I already am?

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