After several, long moments of completely flabbergasted silence...

"Well? What are you all waiting for?!" Exclaiming at the top of my lungs, I called for the attention of the shaken knights, having taken the opportunity to leave my carriage as I did so. When none of them moved, I continued. "The fight isn't over yet, you fools!"

Malwrich, having sheathed his blade, adopted a rather confused expression, in spite of having seemingly managed to collect himself, unlike his fellow knights, not to mention the inquisitor. "Not over? Your highness, the vampire is dead- what more needs evil to be slain?" His tone was half joking, half serious, as he turned towards Harkon for further guidance. "Seems like my command isn't enough." I let out a sigh before I could stop myself.

Harkon, thankfully, managed to wake up from my escorts collective stupor at the mention of further evil, or perhaps it was due to Malwrich's intense stare, one could never know for sure. "Right, ..." He shook his head as he looked around, then pointed his mace towards the noble manor of the now late baroness. "The boy is correct, partially at least."

Without missing a beat, the inquisitor motioned for several of the reserve members to come forward and pointed at those laying on the ground. "Tend to our wounded and steel yourselves before making a perimeter around the mansion. There is no telling how many of its servants have been corrupted to turned to evil while the baroness was in charge."

"Doctrine demands we slay them all regardless. The only way to purge evil is to utterly eradicate it!" One of the knights zealously exclaimed, followed by further shouts of agreement from his fellows, both the wounded and the still-standing. Hey, if anything, they've got spirit. "Yes, yes, the doctrine may demand whatever it desires to demand."

Harkon however, shook his head. "Alas, we are not at full strength and therefore shall require reinforcements from the nearby chapels, as well as those of the city guard before we storm the place. I shall go and gleam these reinforcements while the rest of you do as you are told. Have I made myself clear?!"

The inquisitors response gave the glory-hungry knights a good kick in the head, bringing them back to reality as they all shouted a collective "Yes, sir!" before turning towards their duties. Then, Harkon continued as he motioned for Malwrich to approach. "Malwrich, you are to continue acting as his highness' escort for the time being. Make sure the lad does not get into any more trouble."

With a final grunt and continuing on in his usual grim tone, the Inquisitor uttered a final command before leaping on one of the knights horses. "Lieutenant Julian Unthergarde, you are granted command over the rest while I, and the captain, are away." The red-haired knight in question bowed and saluted the inquisitor in response.

"I'll assume this means you're not following me to the market, Inquisitor?" The man shook his head at my question. "No, I shall not. I apologize for the inconvenience, your highness, but my duty to the Light overtakes my duties to thee, or any other noble." With that derisive comment made, Harkon hurried his horse to move, nearly smashing into an unaware civilian in the process.

I merely shrugged. "Suit yourself, Inquisitor." Part of me wanted to call the man a fool, but I remembered that I was surrounded by knights fully loyal to him at just the right time.

A short trip to the city's outskirts later...

Although strangely uneventful, the path to the slave market lead us, perhaps predictably, to the eastern half of the city. To outside of it, to be exact, though its curious location did not seem to stifle the market in the slightest.

To be perfectly honest, the scenery forming itself around me was much alike to that of a carnival, or a circus, except it was spread in a linear way down an entire street, with exotic beasts, as well as slaves, stuck in cages, many of whom were raging against the cold iron bars of their prisons, while the rest could be seen either covering or huddled close together, starved and depressed. Yet in spite of all this, the liveliness of the place betrayed a certain... wealth, behind the curtain.

Slavery is exquisitely profitable, after all. I would not be surprised if the slavers themselves are funded by the nobility, more so than them merely being the primary 'customers' of the business itself.

I let out a deep sigh. "Rooting this out might be more difficult than I imagined..." Muttering to myself, a chuckle and a scoff turned my attention to Malwrich, with the vary knight intensely staring at me from behind. "If your aim is to buy favor with me with such 'heroic' statements, can it, your highness. I'm afraid that you've already received all the goodwill I'm willing to give today after you slew that vampire."

His words and his expression betrayed him, in spite of his grim tone. To be frank, it sounded almost as if he respected me a bit. "If I was aiming for your approval, Malwrich, we'd be heading to the chapel and begging the priests for instructions on holy magic. Instead, we're here, at a slave market."

"Indeed." He scowled as he turned his head to look around, his disdain growing with every inch of our surroundings which he saw. "Pray tell, your highness, what the hell are we even doing here exactly?"

I admit, that question made me blink in surprise. "What, the inquisitor didn't bother telling you?"

Malwrich shook his head. "The Lord Inquisitor is to be adhered to, not questioned." I rolled my eyes at that. "Your loyalty is admirable, just take care not to walk off of a cliff while upholding it."

Without letting the man respond to my obvious insult, I continued after turning my attention away from him and towards all the incredible creatures I could see through my carriage's window. "We're here to get me an orc. Preferably one that can speak the human tongue. I need one as a translator for my eventual campaign in the north."

"And what exactly are you going to do in that gelid hells-cape, your highness?" His tone twisted with both confusion and curiosity in equal measure, as I could practically feel the knights eyebrow raising. "To put it bluntly, I'm going to be 'civilizing' the northern lands. Conquering the orcs, as well as any other race that makes the north its home, then settling them in a manner that prevents their yearly raids into human lands."

"That's... quite an amazing goal, even as boast alone, your highness... its just..." Malwrich clicked his tongue in amusement. "You and, with respect, what army?"

I blinked a few times at the question, not having really considered the plan deeply enough to actually possess a worthwhile answer. "No offence taken, Malwrich. That is a fair point."

Humming in thought for a few moments, I answered the man honestly. "I imagine the orcs have a simple culture; one where might makes right. I figured if I challenged their tribal war chiefs to duels and won, the tribes would bend the knee in turn. Rinse and repeat until I've dominated the Arroed lowlands, then we can move on to the north proper."

Now it was the knights turn to blink in surprise. "Well, that is not a terrible idea, your majesty. Following the orcs own customs, hmmm..." He nodded, mostly to himself. "If only all would-be-conquerors were so noble as you, to follow the cultures of those they would conquer."

Seeing as he incited no reaction from me despite the clear, although sarcastic, compliment, Malwrich continued speaking. "Well, if I may offer a piece of advice in the case that you prove to not be strong enough to defeat orcish chieftains in duels, trying to call for the liege levy of the county may not give you the results you wish for."

I quirked my eyebrow at that. "Why so?"

Clearing his throat, Malwrich moved closer to my window and basically whispered inside of the carriage. "Gelidgate has many 'outside investors', your highness. One of the few reasons why your family, the Lumenharts, are allowed to keep such a vital land under their title is because it is unofficially 'shared' with much of the nobility, my own family included. And as much as it disgusts me, I cannot claim that all of us have personal interests that co-align with your own. In the event that you call the levies and potentially the garrisons of this land to war, many of the noble houses would protest the move, fighting to keep their children protected while they stay at the academies of this far land."

Then he moved away as I pondered this new piece of information. "I suppose I should have expected that." Another sigh escaped me. "Is there no force in my own county that is loyal to me, then? Must I rely on mercenaries to get the job done?"

Much to my surprise, Malwrich shook his head in negative as he removed himself from my window. "Nay, your highness. You will always have your own personal levies, the Lumenhart Elite, so-to-speak. Albeit, what with the rumors of you being a demon, these holy knights, paladins and priests may not be so willing to follow your lead, though their oaths ascertain that they shan't betray you, at the very least."

"Then they'll be willing to follow me once I clear my name." A tiny smidgeon of hope to latch onto. "Sure, but, lets say they don't follow you either way and you're forced to, as you said, rely on mercenaries. How would you pay them? Such folk rarely work on promises alone."

"Also a fair point. I'll need to find ways to raise funds... hmm, wait a minute, the title of the late baroness and more importantly, her share of the city's taxes, what'll happen to them now that she's gone?" Malwrich seemed to ponder my question for a moment. "I have no idea, your majesty. Most likely, the matter will be decided by the Church since the title of baronet is far too small for the crown to care to get involved. If I had to guess, the current wealth of the estate will be given off to the city council to use as they see fit, whilst the title itself as well as the manor, should it remain standing after my fellows wreck it, and any further taxes collected under its authority, will be re-granted to House Lumenhart, whom were the original owners of the title, as I'm sure you know, your highness."

"Sounds like the Church is heavily favoring our side then." My comment made Malwrich grin. "Impressive, your highness. Most young nobles of your age would be screeching about how unfair it is that the instantaneous gains are going to the burghers, yet here you are, claiming that such an eventually would be in your benefit."

"Gelidgate is my territory, Captain. A sudden removal of a massive sum of wealth will destabilize the economic state of the entire duchy. This way, I get to profit long term and the greedy smallfolk are bribed to keep their mouths shut." The knight rolled his eyes.

"Your highness! We have arrived." The carriage driver, an elderly man that had been utterly silent up to this point, called out from outside, causing me to get up and walk out.

Noticing the massive hole in the carriage which I made with my spell earlier, I let out a tired sigh. "Gonna have to get that fixed before I have to explain it to auntie..."

Anyhow, I turned my head back around to be met with much the same sight as has become the norm for this place, a myriad cages, pits and magical restrains abounded all around me, keeping the exotic creatures at bay. Some among them were more familiar to me than others, such as the classic catgirls or centaur, though the former is part of the beastkin race, I believe.

Quickly enough as we walked down the almost circus-like lane, a fat man in a suit of golden silks ran up to me, his fingers clad in equally golden rings and though I do not wish to look again into his mouth, I'm fairly certain there were a few gold teeth in there as well. Indulgence and wealth, hedonism and sheer debauchery; these seem to be the only things I can surely expect from this vile place.

"Welcome, welcome, your highness! My informants tell me you're looking to buy a slave on this fine day!" He nodded sagely to himself, performing a polite, but clearly mocking bow before me. "Introduce yourself." I responded with an annoyed, quirked eyebrow raised at the man.

Much to his surprise, it would seem, as he took a step back, coughed into one of his hands, bowed again, far more politely, and finally spoke. "Please, call me Ygor Hastings, your highness. How may I aid you?"

"I'm looking for an orc. Preferably an elder, but not so old to be decrepit, that can speak the human tongue." Ygor nodded and quickly motioned towards one of his nearby stewards. "Yes, of course, I believe we have just the slave for you, your highness! In the meantime, may I interest you in any other of my merchandise?"

I blinked in surprise, having not expected the question, then tapped my chin in thought. "... show me." I replied to the man, which had the immediate result of causing Malwrich to scoff in disapproval.

"I never said I would buy anything, you shite-in-mail... Just wanna keep my options visible." I muttered out to myself with an audible sigh, followed by focusing myself up front to the nodding merchant, the glint of gold ever present in the mans beady eyes.

One might think that he's half rat with how they seem. Best not to say that out loud, though.

Wordlessly, Malwrich and I were guided through a closed-off area which had far less cages, but was far better appointed than the rest of the place. Well, 'better appointed', for the spectators, the customers and the merchants present, not so much the beasts and the slaves. One of the pits dug into the earth and surrounded by spikes, housed what seemed to be a massive centaur, with the torso of an amazonian woman, tied in steel chains to massive spires of stone.

"REARRRRRGH!" Her guttural howl echoed outward as the giantess fought against her chains, causing the metal to scream and groan and the stone pillar behind her to crack, which then proceeded to fall on top of her. "Ahhh... Triel's at it again.." One of the nearby guards muttered as the massive centaur lady tore herself out of the rubble and swung the steel chain nailed to her wrist in a circle, smashing many of the wooden spikes which prevented her from safely leaping out of the pit.

"Mage! Stop daydreaming and contain her!" An audible sigh echoed through the place as a small man with a cane and in a hood walked as close to the pit as he dared, then gathered magic into his outstretched hand. "[Earthen Restoration]!" He exclaimed as the mana infused itself within the shattered stones and reformed the pillar that the centaur broke mere moments prior.

Yet as the magic was still working itself into reality, Triel swung her chain at the mage, severing his head just as the chain itself was violently yanked backwards to merge with the pillar, breaking her arm in the process. "AAAAAARGH!" She roared in anguish and rage, frothing at the mouth and stomping the ground with her hooves.

"Good lord, she must be over four meters tall." I commented before I could stop myself, still watching the scene in interest as the formerly half-asleep guardsmen failed to awake from their stupors, many of whom were staring at the still-standing, blood-gushing corpse of the mage.

Anyways, I turned around to find that the merchant was staring at me, looking rather horrified. "A-ah- please forgive me th-this display, your highness! I'll s-sell you the orc at h-half- NO, at twenty-five percent the price if you forget this i-incident..."

Ignoring the merchant, but nodding towards him with a cold glare, I continued down the path. "Triel..." Muttering out her name made me smile. "Oh, I'll be remembering you for quite some time."

As we walked forward, Ygor and Malwrich following behind me in silence, I came across a multitude of other curious beasts. Minotaurs, more catgirls, humanoids seemingly made of lava, several types of flowering alraune, lionkin, wolfkin, foxkin and oh, so many more. Although, I'll admit, none quite so curious to as Triel.

Man, that fury, that pure, incorruptible rage and strength!

I exhaled hotly. "I want her. I really, really want her..."

If the two men behind me heard my mutterings, they didn't react to it at all. Consumed by my errant thoughts as I was, I only barely managed to realize that we'd arrived at the orcish part of the exhibits, with the attendant steward formerly sent away by Ygor seemingly guiding a white-haired, older orc to us, chains dangling from his neck and tied hands.

The attendant tugged on the orcs chains harshly, causing him to stumble forward and bow before me once he managed to catch himself. "Hail, highness." He guttered out, hoarsely. "Name, Histril. Hear highness looking for translator?"

I quirked an eyebrow at the orc, then turned towards the others. "Not one that pretends to be dumber than he is, no."

Histril quickly shook his head in an apologetic manner. "P-please. forgive me, your highness, I was mere-"

"Testing me, yes, yes, whatever, blah, blah. I'm not here to exchange pleasantries, orc." The grey-skinned, large humanoid, softly nodded and bowed his head, saying nothing. I turned to Ygor with a satisfied gaze. "Good enough. I'll take him."

Nodding towards me and then at the steward, Ygor exclaimed needlessly loudly. "You heard his highness! Bring the choker-" I watched as the hopeful light in the orcs eyes died slightly at the mention of this peculiar item. Thinking quickly and remembering how often in novels back in my world, there existed magical slave chokers which prevented slaves from acting outside of their owners will.

I clicked my tongue in annoyance, causing Ygor to turn to look at me with dread. "That won't be necessary, slaver."


About the author


Bio: No.

Log in to comment
Log In