~ Chapter 56: The annoying merchant (Part 1) ~
To reach the Slave Market, we had to walk all the way to the other side of the city, where the coliseum was. It was located near the outer wall and was filled with small warehouses where they kept the slaves locked up in cages.
As soon as they arrived there, Tamara hid behind Shanteya, who gently patted her furry head. As for me, I watched the adults as they were put on display, and I felt nothing, but then I saw the children… and I felt rage.
Every warehouse had a small podium on which the ‘items’ of the day were placed on display. Chained up and ordered to stand still in front of the crowd, I could read their shame and fear in their eyes. They had their heads lowered and fingers clenched onto the few pieces of clothes they were allowed to wear. The women barely had anything on them, while the men only wore a loincloth. As for the children, they were the only ones who wore a pair of pants and shirt, but this depended on the slave merchant and the species. Nekatar children weren’t as privileged as the human or el’doraw ones.
Looking at them made me sick to my stomach, and I would have loved to bust open the heads of those men and women who chained up defenseless children for a living. To be honest about it, I actually thought of doing so, but this place was only one of the many slave markets in the entire kingdom. While walking here, I noticed there were many people who owned at least one slave. They were cheap workforce, but at the same time, they were property.
Why pay a servant or worker when you could hire a slave?
That was the question that kept the business going. And to top it off, the royal family seemed to be especially interested in having this sort of thing running indefinitely. A part of the payment of each slave went straight into the royal coffers.
To put it simply, I would need to destroy the entire kingdom in order to change something, but I thought about it, and I realized I couldn’t do it. As for why, there was a good reason for it. Once the royals went down, the supporting nobles would flee to the neighboring kingdoms, which all supported slavery. Anarchy would take hold, wars would start, and the Supremes in those kingdoms would be sent here to take me down. This kingdom would end up as a bloody battlefield with no one safe and nowhere to run.
By using force to bring down this kingdom, I would irreversibly destroy it as well as pull countless innocent civilians into an unending war. I could buy all of their slaves, but this would only make them see me as a means of profit, therefore, they would try to capture and sell me more. No… If this is to change, it has to come from the inside. I shook my head as I thought about this.
With no way out, I bottled up all of that hate and went to the slave dealer who was once the owner of Tamara. The child had changed a lot, so it was highly unlikely for him to be able to recognize her.
“Excuse me! Are you here to buy or to sell?” an eager skinny merchant moved in front of us.
“I’ll give you 45 goldiettes for the blond!” he told me.
I raised an eyebrow and looked back at Nanya.
“You want ME to sell YOU my WIFE?” I asked him and pointed out those words to make it clear where we stood.
“Oh! Pardon me then! What about the nekatar? She looks healthy and strong, 24 goldiettes?” he asked with a grin as he eyed Tamara.
With a frightened mew, she hid behind Shanteya.
“Listen, bastard, I’m not here to either sell or buy! We are adventurers with the interest of completing a quest. Now, if you don’t get out of my way, I’m going to break all of those teeth of yours!” I threatened him.
“That would be unwise! Oh, no no no!” he shook his head “If you attack me, it’s by royal decree that I can turn you into my slave!” he smirked.
I squinted my eyes at him.
“Dead men have no slaves.” I growled.
He gulped and backed away. “True. Pardon my… unhealthy intrusion.” he made a soft bow and ran off to his store.
Letting out a sigh, I rubbed my forehead with two fingers and tried to understand what was wrong with these people. However, the man made another thing clear… I wasn’t allowed to attack these people as long as I was on their turf.
After asking left and right a bit as well as getting assaulted with money-hungry merchants who either wanted to buy the girls or sell me some, we finally arrived in front of the store of the bastard who made Tamara into a slave.
It was one of the fanciest places around, and the only one with carved doors. Outside, on the podium, two women and one man were displayed in chains, but unlike the other ‘merchandise’, they were kept standing with the help of a neck restraining device. Even if they wanted to, they couldn’t bend over or sit down. To the left of his entrance was another display, but this time with caged children.
My blood froze when I saw them and anger flowed through my veins, threatening to turn me into a raging monster. I wanted to, I really wanted to, but this man… there was no way to stop him with my current possibilities.
When I’ll build my academy, I’ll make it mandatory for the teachers to give classes about alternate ways to the slave system or why they shouldn’t enslave children. Tch! I wish I could kill that blasted king who allowed this… I thought, but all of my anger had to die.
“Is everything alright, Master?” Shanteya asked and placed her hand on my shoulder.
I blinked surprised and looked back at her. She wore an expression filled with worry about me. It was clear that something was wrong, but I had no way of sharing the anger and hate I held in my heart. Maybe it was better that I didn’t and kept it all bottled up inside. This way, I wasn’t going to trouble anyone.
Letting out a sigh, I shook my head.
“I’m bothered by this slave system… I don’t like it.” I confessed.
A little bit was alright to let out, just enough to keep the top from blowing off.
“I understand, Master.” Shanteya nodded “Not all countries see it this way, however.”
“Indeed. Every kingdom has their own way of handling their slaves, but overall, they are seen as indispensable to any sort of economy. A country without slavery and economic prosperity simply doesn’t exist.” explained Ayuseya, but I could tell from the tone of her voice that she was troubled by this as well.
“What about Shoraya?” I asked.
“They abolished slavery, but as a result, their production is down and there are many beggars on the streets of the capital.” she looked over at the palace at the center of this city.
“What about democracy?” I asked.
“What?” Ayuseya looked at me confused as if I said something strange.
“You know, a system through which the population of a country chooses their own leader through an equal and fair vote?” I explained.
“There is no such thing. What’s the role of the king in this system?”
“There is no king.”
“That doesn’t sound possible. It sounds like an anarchy. The kings are taught from birth how to rule their countries, but a random elected citizen has no such knowledge or authority. It would be the same as having a Beginner Rank Adventurer take on a quest meant for an Emperor Rank Adventurer.” Ayuseya expressed her view point quite clearly about this, and I had no way of proving them otherwise.
Then again, back on Earth, the United Kingdom survived just fine as a monarchy, while in other countries, democratic chosen tyrants abused their power in all sort of ways which ultimately led to their country’s ruin.
Maybe it doesn’t really matter the political system as much as how just, kind, and wise their leader is… Should I focus on introducing Democracy with my Academy or rather focus on bringing up good leaders worthy of any position in the state? Erm… What do I know exactly about politics? I thought, but the last question remained unanswered.
At most, just like everyone else, I only knew a thing or two, not how the whole system worked up to its smallest of gears. I knew the principle, but in rest, the details eluded me.
With a sigh, I gave up on the idea of stirring up the world like this.
“Shall we enter?” asked Nanya after a while.
Blinking surprised, I realized that while I was thinking about politics, the girls were waiting for me step inside.
With a nod in reply, I opened the door and went in.
Just like on the outside, the inside was vastly decorated with all sort of paintings and statues, some good while others plain weird. The merchant was an art lover by the looks of things. Considering the time and age, I had the distinct feeling that those things didn’t come cheap.
The first people to greet us were two very tanned and buff-looking fellows. I raised an eyebrow when I saw them. They stepped in front of us and crossed their arms at their chests. Flexing their muscles, they were trying to look as intimidating as they could possibly be, but for an adventurer who went out every day to subjugate monsters, these fellows were nothing but a joke. Even Tamara could defeat them, and she was quite weak when compared to the rest of us.
The only things these fellows were missing were some spike collars and chains wrapped around their bodies.
“Ayuseya, could you tell these fellows that we’re here to speak with mister Deroak about a mission?” I told the draconian.
With a nod, she proceeded to translate in Kalish.
The two looked at each other for a moment, then the one on the right went to the back of the building to call their boss. A few minutes later, a human around 1.65 meters tall with a big belly, silk clothes, and a bunch of golden accessories on him made his appearance before us.
He gave us a stern look and analyzed all of us from head to toe. After a moment, he spoke in Shorayan.
“Who is the party leader?”
“I am.” I stepped forward.
“Where are my slaves? Is that child the only one left alive?” he asked pointing at Tamara, who instinctively hid behind Shanteya.
“No, that’s not one of yours, she’s mine.” I told him.
“That can’t be possible, I know all of my slaves!” he declared.
“Are you by chance talking about a nekatar with scarred back and burned tail tip?” I asked.
“Yes.” he squinted his eyes at me.
“Yeah, she’s dead already. The child over there only looks a bit like her, but last I remember it’s not worth it to heal such wounds on someone’s else slave. Besides, she doesn’t have a collar.” I retorted.
I’m lying like a pro, but I’ll certainly keep Tamara out of your grabby little hands! I thought with an inner smirk.
“Is that so?” the man didn’t seem convinced, and he kept looking between the nekatar and everyone else there.
“Well, as I was saying, the mission proved to be more difficult than you described. You forgot to mention black magic users and zombies.” I raised an eyebrow at him.
“Well, you are alive from what I see, so the missions couldn’t have been so hard? What are you, a Beginner Rank in the Guild?” Deroak asked with a smirk.
“What rank we are in the Guild doesn’t matter! What matters is that you gave a quest below its assessed danger level and in consequence, many adventurers died.” I glared at him.
“And why should it mater for me?” he asked and then shrugged.
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