~ Chapter 130: Slick (Part 1) ~
[Shanteya's point of view]
My stay in the Rezalia Kingdom was rather short, no more than a couple of days. I initially wanted it to be no less than two, but finding that child's mother was more complicated than I had initially anticipated.
The men who took her from her home ran an underground illegal slave market. They procured their 'merchandise' through special means that on the surface were completely legal, such as debt, duty, or favors. These, of course, were often met with what they called 'unfortunate accidents' in which the family members or friends of the future slaves tried to stop them from doing their jobs. They often claimed that they had been the ones to be attacked first and not the other way around. Thus, all those who opposed them met a gruesome death and set as an example for everyone who had any similar bright ideas in the future.
Finding them was easy, but getting to know where the boy's mother was taken wasn't that easy. To reach my goal, I found one of the future victims of this organization. It wasn't that difficult to find out who was in debt in this town as long as one kept their pointy ears perked up. I found three such families at first, but two of them managed to somehow pay their end of the bargain. The last one was the unfortunate one to receive a visit from the terrible loan sharks.
It was a family of adventurers in which the mother ended up going into debt after she lost her sword during her previous quest. Before the lone sharks arrived at their home, I paid these poor folks a quick visit. After listening to their story of struggle and love, I gave them some coins and told them to start anew on Illsyorea. To my surprise, they never heard of it, so they were a bit skeptic when they heard about it.
In the end I managed to convince them that this was no scam or ploy to make them go even further into debt and then I had them get on board of one of the merchant ships heading there. The family of adventurers had a young boy and a young daughter of around nine years old, just the right age to enter Savannah's class for the young.
While they were on their way to Illsyorea, I waited for the debt collectors in their house while calmly drinking my tea.
“Huh? Who are you, lady?” asked one of them when he saw me.
“Where's the woman who lives here? Where did you hide her?” the other questioned.
After placing my cup down, I looked at them with a smile and then told them “They are of no concern to you now... if you want to live.”
“Huh?! You threatening us, you shikak?!” one asked in a very rude manner.
“Sigh. I really dislike it when people use that insult with me.” I shook my head and then got up.
The two approached me, thinking for some foolish reason that they could overpower me. Least to be said, that was the last time these two ever walked straight. What followed next was a rough beating from me and then a couple of hours of torture while they spilled every little secret they knew.
When I was done with them, I left them in the middle of the street, naked and with their limbs broken in several places.
The reason I left them alive was because they gave me all the information I needed in order to start a raid on their headquarters. I didn't care if they told anyone what I had done to them. Who were the guards going to believe? An elegant and charming noble woman with connections to Illsyorea like myself or the two drooling fools?
That night, I arrived in front of the big building that was the headquarters of this nameless organization. I entered through the open window at the top and then proceeded with skillfully knocking out everyone inside. After tying them up and gathering them in one place, I looked for the slaves. They could be found in the basement. There was also a torture chamber there and a couple of human corpses, both male and female. They had all been brutally murdered as if to satisfy some sort of psychopath's desire for torture and death.
The mother of the boy wasn't here, but the ledger in the fancy room at the second floor said that she had been sold to a noble in another city.
Back on Illsyorea, we often had noble foreigners and even wealthy merchants flaunting around with their slaves. Their parade wasn't seen as anything but distasteful by the people living on the island and when these individuals were introduced to my husband, they found themselves in the unpleasant situation of being forced to free those slaves that were so expensive in their eyes. If they refused, Illsy would just free the slaves himself and forbid those individuals from ever stepping on the island again.
Any other king or noble would have taken great cautions in how they dealt with such delicate situations, but on Illsyorea we lacked neither political influence or military strength. We wanted to make things clear for anyone who stepped on our island that going against us was nothing but a fool's errand.
To make things easier for his wives to release people from unreasonable slavery, Illsyore taught us how to deactivate the magic enchantment inside a typical slave collar. The more complicated ones like the one Savannah wore were a bit out of our league. Once we understood how the slave collar worked and what we had to do to deactivate it, putting the theory in practice was easy. He even made some special Spell Crystals that were able to temporarily deactivate the collar's command receiver as long as they remained in contact with it. They were made to prevent the owner from giving special orders to their slaves as well as allowing the individual to tell his or her side of the story and find out who was lying and who was not.
Thanks to the ledger, I didn't need to know which of the slaves in the basement were crime slaves, so I was able to free the others. In order for them to have a head start and not get caught again, I gave them the money the slavers earned by selling other slaves and then told them to flee this town or if they wished board a ship towards Illsyorea.
With the prisoners I had tied up, I stripped them naked and then cast them off in the middle of the street. The crime slaves were left next to them and then I destroyed the support pillars of the building, bringing it down.
When the guards came, I gave them the ledger and then explained the situation while also pointing out that I did this because they thought I would make a good slave. That was as lie, but the fact that I was an important political figure wasn't. It didn't really matter if they heard of me or not, just by calmly wondering if the king of this country was intent on starting a war was enough to have these poor men tremble in their boots.
Not long afterwards, I left the city and headed towards Massulkut City. Except for rescuing the mother of the child, I had no reason to be there, so I immediately infiltrated the city and with the help of a few well-placed coins, I was able to find the noble I was after. I entered his mansion when it got dark outside and neutralized all the guards and servants inside.
The noble was at the second floor, in his luxurious bedroom. I stumbled upon him doing the despicable act of sexually abusing the poor slave woman. With a single slash of my dagger, I relieved him of his manhood and then knocked him out unconscious on the floor. I removed the collar from her neck and then fled with her back to the port city. Just to be safe, I gave her a contraceptive and used a simple healing spell on her.
“Your son sent me.” was all I said to her in order to gain her trust.
She was in a horrible state. She hadn't slept for more than a day. She had bruises all over her body, and as any woman after such an ordeal, she felt dirty and used. I offered her a good meal, a nice hot bath, a pair of clean clothes, and a warm bed, then I told her how to find her son.
The last time I saw her was right before she boarded a ship heading towards Illsyorea. She was thanking me from the bottom of her heart with tears streaming down her cheeks while holding tight to the small pouch of coins I gave her.
This ship was the same one that was going to carry some of the rescued slaves there. Captain Fandar's ship already left the other day, so mother and child weren't that far behind one from another. With a bit of luck, they were going to reach Illsyorea on the same day and have a happy reunion.
With this, there was nothing left for me to do in the Rezalia Kingdom. I took on an Escort Quest that had me following the East River Merchant Caravan all the way to the Devmazur Merchant Collective. If there was one place on the Sorone Continent where I could find a lead on the Phantom Rage Guild, that was this independent nation created through the ingenious schemes and countless struggles of thousand of merchants all around the world.
There was no company that didn't know of this place and no merchant who didn't want to be recognized by it, however, this was true only if they were rich enough to have their name reach their ears.
In essence, opening a business of any king within this nation was impossible. The country's laws stated that for one to do that, they had to be recognized by the Merchant Collective itself. To achieve this, a merchant had to show their skills in bartering, haggling, and also procuring promising goods. Each merchant had to have at least one unique item they made themselves and then be able to sell it for a profitable price in another country than his own.
This was quite difficult to achieve for the beginning merchants but not for the more wealthy ones who already had the time and money needed to invest in something like this. Ayuseya was quite interested in having the Devmazur Merchant Collective see Illsyorea as a prospective product opening market. She tried to get several merchants interested in opening a trade route with us, but so far, she failed.
For now, Illsyorea was just a small port where merchants could resupply their food and repair their ships. In a way, it did open up a new path towards the Allasn Continent, and the waters around the island were some of the safest they could sail on. For Ayuseya this mean good publicity and extra coins from the docking taxes.
The main reason behind their reluctance to make it an opening market was the fact that Illsyorea in the Devmazur Merchant Collective's eyes wasn't old enough from a historical point of view, big enough enough as a population, or secure enough as in having its own recognized private military force. Every merchant also had different conditions for them to open a store on our island, while a trade route was near impossible unless the nation itself didn't accept Illsyorea as a country.
In any case, my reason for coming here wasn't a political one, but I was certain that from the moment I had crossed the border, the higher ups in this country knew of my presence. A merchant also had to deal with information and not being able to do that could be fatal for one's business.
On our one week journey from Rezalia to the capital of Devmazur, I got to learn a couple of things about this nation, including where I could find someone if I needed information and I had the coins to pay. The other adventurers acting as guard with us were the ones who told me about him.
Since this was a big caravan, we were certainly a tasty target for bandits and monsters, but with me as their guards, they were nothing more than pesky flies. Even so, I acted while withholding my strength so I wouldn't make the others guards look bad. They noticed this and appreciated my concern.
“This is it, Razneva, the capital of the Devmazur Merchant Collective” the merchant who owned the caravan told me.
“It's beautiful.” I replied.
“Isn't that right?” he then laughed.
It was the pride and jewel of his nation, so of course he was happy when he heard me compliment it.
Razneva was a big city surrounded by ivory walls. The big sentry towers were all decorate with beautiful carved art, making it seem as though this whole place was designed for artistic purposes rather than military ones. Once we got past the checkpoint at the gate, we were met with luxurious streets paved with marble and big houses of at least three stories high. The sensation of wealth emanated by this place was not one to be taken lightly, but when I compared all of this beauty with my home, Illsyorea, it was... terribly lacking.
“I'm sure you never saw something of such beauty, right?” the merchant asked me with a big smile on his face.
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!
I know some of you are troubled by my typos and at times grammar mistakes. I do edit it to the best of my abilities before posting it, but some things just slip through for various reason (mostly because before editing it, the whole chapter is a mess). However, if you have fun looking for them, go ahead and let me know where they are. On my discord server, there's a special channel just for that: help_author_edit
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