~ Chapter 101: Mad Illsy (Part 1) ~
[Ayuseya's point of view]
Illsy told me where I would find Zoreya and Tamara, then I left together with Wolf. On the way, I explained to the young child something Illsy forgot to tell him, and that was the fact that Shanteya was the el'doraw with silver hair and a pale complexion, while Zoreya was the blond human woman he saw inside the carriage. As for her sad expression, she was just sleepy, not at all jealous or anything like that.
No matter with whom we spoke, it was hard to believe us when we said that all of us loved Illsy equally and that our feelings were returned just as much if not more. There was not even a single spec of jealousy, envy, or hate among us, his wives. Maybe this was the main reason why we could understand each other so well when we behaved so differently. Holding such feelings was a bit useless from our points of view.
Why was there even a need to hold such feelings in our hearts for each other anyway? What did we have to gain? Nothing, we would actually have a lot more to lose this way. We were aware of this fact, thus, we had long since gave up on these emotions.
Honestly speaking though, it wasn't easy to reach this point, but in all those six years we spent together we go used to the feeling of holding respect, compassion, and love for each other rather than hate, envy, or jealousy. At first, we were a bit jealous of each other, especially those of us who instinctively were a monogamous species. Nanya had it the worst of us all, but in time, we began to differentiate between her honest feelings and the instincts of her species, on which, she sometimes acted without knowing it. The same was for me as well... Draconian possessiveness was rather known among many, but after I gained my ability to change to full-sized dragon, it became a bit worse.
It took us some time to reach this point, but because we were all willing to change for the better and learn to coexist this way, we were able to succeed.
Explaining this whole process to the child was nearly impossible, so I just let him know that we were living proof of this possibility.
When we met those two, they were just about to head back to Nanya, so we caught them at a good time. Wolf was a bit worried about leaving the city, but more because he thought the Marquise was going to interfere and try to stop us. I told Zoreya about this, and she promised to keep an eye out for any suspicious fellows they may encounter.
Afterwards, I returned to Illsy's side.
On the way, I felt like there was someone following me, but when I turned around to look, there was no one there... or so I would have liked it to be. The fellows were hiding good, but my senses were far better than those of a normal draconian. I debated a bit on whether or not I should be the one to interrogate them.
Practically speaking, there was nothing stopping me, but if I left them live, they would end up spilling some unneeded information. As a princess and political representative of my small group, it was highly unlikely that this wouldn't end up biting me on the tail later on. I wished to avoid such situations if I could. It wasn't a problem if the others acted this way, but I had to maintain a certain... appearance.
Illsy didn't understood well when I explained this to him, but he trusted me enough to let me do as I pleased.
Lure them it is. I thought as I came to a decision.
Indeed, besides creating a certain appearance and fake image of myself in the eyes of political fellows, this 'disguise' was useless. But until this got too dangerous or simply too annoying for me, I planned on keeping it up. That one possible opportunity it could grant me could mean an alliance or the act of deceiving a smart foe into revealing his hand.
Once that happened, the 'disguise' of a calm, collected, intellectual princess wasn't needed anymore.
“Welcome back!” Illsy called to me.
They made no move, and one of them appears to have left the group. Hm... I thought.
That one individual probably went to give his report. My guess was that they were going to keep an eye on us until we reached our campsite and only then make a move.
“I'm back, my love.” I told him with a gentle smile.
We made our way back to the slave merchant's store, which was the only one in the city, despite the place being called a 'market'. After a quick introduction with the easily to forget fellow, Illsy stated his demands.
“I want to see all the slaves under the age of 20, with a maximum age of 22. If they are of another species, they should match the equivalent. Then I want you to tell me how each of them ended up as a slave.”
Basically, children, teenagers, and young adults were the aim. They were the easiest to train, and if Illsy bought them, it would also ensure that they still had a chance at a happy childhood. Our aim was to save these people not further keep them in chains.
But, this was something the slave merchant was not required to know about.
Then, as per Illsy's request, a total of 38 slaves were brought before us. Starting with the oldest of age 22 in the case of humans and 48 in the case of a draconian. Now, of all of them, 12 were children, 10 were teenagers, and the rest were young adults. Four of them were el'doraw, two elves, six draconians, and two were half-breeds, siblings from an el'doraw-human couple.
“They are some of my finest products! Healthy as the can be and good for any chores! The women are guaranteed to be untouched by men too!” the slave merchant bragged.
I found the way he advertised these poor people as disgusting, but I had to admit that slavery in this world had a positive side as well. If the country was unable to offer a purpose to its citizens when they were unable to pay their taxes or committed certain crimes like thievery or rape, then those individuals would normally end up as being killed through hanging or decapitation. This was the natural conclusion many kings would come to if faced with this situation.
In the case of children, it was even worse. Since punishing children like this was seen as evil by the majority of to populace, the government would be forced to simply... ignore them unless they committed murder. Of course, this would result in them spending their last days starving on the streets or being taken advantage of by unscrupulous adults.
If I were to say which was better, then I would approve of slavery as well. It was better than killing them. Fortunately, Illsy was actively thinking of a third option... Children would be sent to orphanages. The petty criminals would be jailed and reeducated. As for those who committed serious and heinous crimes, they would be enslaved and used as brute workforce by the government. This way, at the very least, they served a better purpose than fertilizer for the ground.
Starting with the children, Illsy then carefully listened to how they ended up wearing those slave collars. All those who raped, killed, or committed something immoral or terrible were rejected without a second thought no matter who they were.
I agreed on this course of judgment, and I found it surprising that one of the children, who actually looked quite shy and innocent at first sight was enslaved because he skinned alive his own siblings and then ate their inner organs... because he found them tasty.
My surprise came from the fact that he wasn't killed, but apparently his parents were nobles and couldn't endure seeing him die as well...
Still, why would he even think of doing something as atrocious as that? How was it possible that he came to this terrifying conclusion that his siblings deserved to be skinned alive and their innards eaten raw?
I shuddered at the very thought of it.
Yet, I understood now why Illsy asked for the reason of them becoming slaves. If one did not know of it and released a young monster like that into the world, they would end up killing someone sooner or later.
In the end, only debt slaves or those whose circumstances Illsy found as a result of noble abuse were accepted. For example, the case of the half-breed siblings was a result of a noble using his authority to do as he pleased with those below him. To our surprise, the name of that said noble was D'andaros. As for why the merchant agreed to reveal this little piece of information, well, business was business, and Illsy had just promised to buy several of his slaves.
In the end, out of the 38 slaves, only 12 were permitted to stay. The others were sent back. But before we left, Illsy asked to see those who were considered ill, too gravely injured, or were considered to be used only as bait for monsters.
The slave merchant made a complicated expression when he heard this, but he agreed to show them nonetheless. They weren't as many as the others, but Illsy picked 6 of them, three of which had merely days left to live, and the other three were sick but not contagious according to the merchant.
Once this was over, Illsy completed all the forms and signed the contracts, while I took another look at each individual slave we bought for any unwanted 'surprises' like a cursed seal or tracking spell cast upon them. The merchant found it odd for me to do so, but even he couldn't know everything about his slaves.
While Illsy was paying the man, he had the nerve to ask something rather rude about me.
“Speaking of which, the one you have is quite impressive, how much for her?”
Illsy showed him a simple smile and then replied “Even if you were the Emperor himself offering me the Paramanium Empire, I still wouldn't have traded her off.”
His words made me blush, but they were the truth.
“Isn't that a bit excessive? She's just a draconian slave, right?” he asked.
“Pardon?” I voiced out my displease for the way he called me.
Illsy grabbed the man by the neck and squeezed to the point where he couldn't breath any more. It was so fast, he didn't had time even to make single sound.
“If you dare call my wife a slave again or make any rude remarks on her person, I will kill you. Got it?” Illsy warned him and then let go.
“Buha!” the slave merchant coughed and rubbed his neck.
“Got it?” he glared at him.
“Y-Yes! Y-Yes! I beg your forgiveness!” he pleaded.
“Tch! Your words put me in sour mood now. I'm going to take my leave and never return!” he declared.
“Please... y-you can't mean...” the merchant saw his words as a sign of having lost a possible very important and rich customer.
This was a huge blow for him, although, from our point of view, Illsy just stated the obvious.
The merchant apologized for his words and begged for us to return, even promising to cut down on some prices, but we would have none of it. We left with our slaves and never looked back. For this man, this would become one of the biggest blunders of his career.
Well, not like it mattered for us, anyway.
On our way back to where Illsy had parked his weird vehicle, we were met with lots of stares and curious gazes. This was solely because of the sheer number of slaves who were walking behind us. Those few who were too injured and sickly were being carried by the men in the group. The humans walked in front of the other species because they believed this was the normal here. It really didn't matter to us.
As for our pursuers, they kept their distance. Once we reached the camp site, they rushed back to the city, leaving only one of them behind to make sure they didn't lose our trail.
At the camp, we saw Wolf talking with the other children there. He seemed to be having fun. Everyone welcomed us back with a smile on their faces, and the slaves who were bought the other day didn't look as frightened of Illsy as before. However, there was another batch that was going to end up fainting as a result of finding out who and what we were.
Luckily, this time we planned on having Illsy go and watch leafs fall while we explained the situation to them. It was better if we, the more normal ones did so, especially Zoreya, who was an Apostle of a god some of them actually worshiped.
But before we reached that point, Illsy and I had to first heal and treat these poor slaves. Zoreya joined in as well, while Tamara prepared them a hot meal, and Shanteya prepared some decent clothes. Speaking of which, the demoness and the former el'doraw assassin also noticed our lone spectator, and I was told the other two also had a pursuers when they returned. Tamara didn't bother with them because they were as weak as flies to her. For now, we all decided to let them be and see what their next move was, mostly because this looked interesting and might help alleviate our boredom a little bit.
Because there wasn't anyone among them with a serious illness that required Illsy to apply his otherworldly healing, we finished this whole process by the time it got dark. They all received a hot bath and a new pair of clothes. Afterwards, we let them eat a decent meal. With this, we hoped they would gain a bit of trust in us and accept our words better than they would have on empty stomach.
Unfortunately, right before we began to explain, we all sensed a group of armed men coming towards us. We told the slaves to sit still and be quiet while we handled this. Zoreya placed herself in front of the slaves and drew her shield. A very thin, invisible barrier formed around her and them, which was strong enough to repel any attack of a Godlike Rank level.
Meanwhile I took a more elegant posture. Shanteya walked up to Zoreya and stood next to her, while Tamara and Nanya moved to the sides, readying their claws to attack.
I honestly doubted it was needed for all of us to act against this group, but we had to present ourselves as being ready for their arrival, not like a bunch of amateur young adventurers taken by surprise.
A few moments later, a group of armed soldiers approached us from the direction of the city. They were escorting a man of average height, wearing a long dark-brown and red robe, with trimmed mustache and a thick beard. He had average or bellow average looks for a human, making some of the soldiers in his group who hadn't washed in a few days look quite pleasant to the eyes. Maybe it was just the human's natural disposition, but to me, he looked unappealing at all.
Of course, this escort indicated the fact that he was someone of distinguished importance, like a noble or even the Lord of Krestan. I highly doubted it was the latter though.
Behind the group of soldiers, a group of well equipped adventurers appeared as well. They were all human, but they tried to appear as intimidating before us. The glare and disgust in their eyes, especially when they looked at non-humans was quite clear. If it was intended or natural, it remained to be seen. On the other hand, the amount of escorts this human noble brought with him was clearly not one meant for a simple visit.
They are planning on either intimidating us or attacking us. I thought.
Note from the author: Thank you for reading this chapter, I hope you enjoyed it! Oh, and be sure to check out my other stories too!
Seeing how things have been a bit hard for me lately, I will try and focus around posting only at the end of the week, during a Friday or Saturday(ish). I'm going to try the weekly chapter dump version of the schedule to see if this fits me better.
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