Chapter 9 – First Purchase
This marks the final chapter that I’ve promised you guys. So expect no more chapters. I mean, it doesn’t mean I won’t do them, but don’t expect any! Because they won’t come! Although I might post some. But they won’t come! So you’d better not expect any!
This is a teaser! And I’m doing more teasers which might turn out to be even more amazing to some of you, so yeah! Holdest thy tongue!
A kantoui（貫頭衣） is a Japanese type of clothing that’s basically a simple cloth with a hole for putting the head through, worn like a poncho. According to a certain Chinese text, Japanese people were wearing these at the end of the third century.
Former adventurer, Dungeon Master Anri here.
I fell asleep while still in the bath so I thought I would catch a cold, but I turned out as healthy as ever.
If I had to name a problem, it would be that the curse apparently activated while I was asleep, and I ended up soaking in the bath with the tantou and robe equipped.
I can’t change, so I’m stuck with being soaking wet like this…
Well, if I walk outside for a while it’ll probably dry off, but because I’m soaked down to my underwear it feels gross.
Am I going to be unable to bath for more than 30 minutes?
Pulling myself together, I took out food from my item box and after having a simple breakfast, I teleported to the entrance.
Leaving the dungeon, I headed towards town.
Having made a decision to become a dungeon master, the problem of “shelter” is now gone.
Because of the curse I can’t change, and I can only worry about the problem of “clothing” without being able to do anything.
What’s left is the problem of food, and although I did buy a large amount yesterday, and I’ve established an indoor vegetable garden as well, the food stores can only decrease, and it’ll be a while before I can harvest.
Even if I could harvest them, I’m not a vegetarian so it’d be tough for me to live only eating vegetables.
Meaning that I’ll be forced to make a shopping trip in town once in a while, but… there’s one problem with this; I don’t know how long I’ll be able to come and go here.
With the events with the church and the Adventurers Guild, a group of people probably already have suspicions towards me, and once the transformation of the dungeon is known, it wouldn’t be strange even if there were people who linked the timing together.
Thinking about it like that, it would probably be better to assume that one day it’ll become difficult for me to come and go here.
Considering that I’ll be unable to enter and exit the town, I want somebody I can entrust the shopping to, but unfortunately I have nobody to rely on.
Don’t say lonerised! I know I am.
Even if I were to hire someone, there’s nobody I can trust and leave everything to, so there’s only one choice left that comes to mind.
Showing my Adventurers Card and entering the town, I headed towards the slave dealer.
I first found out that this world had slavery right after I reached town.
I had an image of slavery being illegal and shady, but it was in normal shop in a place relatively close to the main street and the memory of being shocked but that is still fresh in my mind.
Based on the information I heard from other peoples’ conversations, as well as some guesses of my own, the slaves of this world are apparently separated into four types; people whose statuses had been dropped to slavery as punishment, the crime slaves; people from a defeated country who were taken as war prisoners, the war slaves; people who had fallen to slavery as security for a loan, the debt slaves; and finally people who were born to two slave parents, the birth slaves.
There are various reasons why they separate the origins of the slaves, but they’re all unrecognised as humans all the same, and bought and sold for money.
The slaves are forced by a contract to their master to absolute obedience.
In this world where magic exists, ‘absolute obedience’ doesn’t mean just a rule, but being compelled to obey the commands of their master.
Even if you ordered “kill yourself”, no matter how much they tried to refuse, their body would move on its own and they would suicide.
Slaves are treated as possessions, so no matter how a master treats them, the master won’t be punished.
Because they’re fundamentally expensive, I dont think people would kill them on a whim too often, but that’s not an absolute.
The most expensive slaves are young females, followed by men with good builds.
As someone born in Japan, I’m opposed to the slavery system, but a person who won’t betray me no matter what could be said to be the most suitable.
“Welcome. Will you be purchasing a slave today?”
When I entered the shop a neatly dressed, tidy-looking man asked me that at the very beginning.
It seems that he’s the shopkeeper here, but he was so different from the arbitrary image I had of slave traders being fat men that I was at a bit of a loss as to how to react.
When I nodded, he guided me to one of the tables set in the shop.
The shopkeeper sat down right opposite me, and our business talk began.
“Our shop has all sorts of slaves prepared. What kind of slave could it be that you are looking for?”
“In the first half of their teens, and a female… ah, and on the verge of death.”
The moment I stated my request, the shopkeeper froze, and looked my way.
Because I can’t look at him in the eyes, with my eyes still hidden, I replied with silence.
There’s no doubt that it was the third condition that he reacted to, but of course I have proper reasons for saying it.
The first is the price; I’d feel reluctant about ordering around people my elder, and since I’d need courage to eat and sleep together with someone of the opposite sex, I want a girl in the first half of their teens, but in that case the 5 gold I have with me might not be enough.
If it’s somebody who doesn’t have long because of illness or injury, then even if they’re a girl in their early teens, I thought that the price would be lowered greatly.
I wasn’t sure if they even sold someone like that to begin with, but there are apparently uses… as human shields against strong monsters, and the experimental materials for mages though.
The second reason is that even if I bought a slave here and left the shopping and my daily life to them, there’s the problem of that slave being afraid of me.
From the point of keeping my secrets, I’d need to have them live in the dungeon with me, but if we’re living together then it’s probably impossible to not ever meet eyes with me.
Even though with the absolute obedience to their master, a slave can’t go against them, in the end they’re only bound in their actions.
If I ordered them “Don’t be afraid of me.” they would just be unable to act afraid, and it wasn’t as if the fear itself would disappear.
I’ve come up with one countermeasure, but for that to work I need them to accept me at least once.
If they’re not somebody grasping at straws on the verge of death, they won’t meet the prerequisites.
“Of course, there aren’t many slaves like that, but we do have some. I must trouble you to come downstairs with me. Would that be all right, miss?”
Nodding in reply, I followed him into the back of the shop.
It seems that if you were looking for a normal slave then the shopkeeper would pick some that satisfied your requirements and bring them out, but for a cases like mine they wouldn’t be able to be brought, so they’d go see them like me.
After descending some narrow stairs, a jail came into view, the illuminating torchlight interrupted by the cell bars.
Inside the cells were a number of females.
All of them were completely naked, but while some were lying on plain futons, others were sitting with their backs against the stone wall.
“According to your requirements miss, it should be those in this area. If any catch your eye, I will give a detailed explanation but…”
I interrupted the shopkeeper who was turned to me and speaking by lining up beside him, and at an angle where he wouldn’t see my face, I removed my hood and looked over the women in the cage.
I could separate the responses into three.
Those who trembled and averted their eyes, those who didn’t react and just unmovingly stared into space, and just one who, though frail, was looking in my direction without budging.
I stepped forwards towards the only one that showed a different response, and stared beyond the bars.
That girl was sitting just by the bars, sitting powerlessly against the wall.
Her long blonde hair was dirty and dull, her ribs could be seen, her limbs were withered away, and she looked like she could take her last breath at any moment.
Even her face that would have surely been pretty if she was healthy had sunken cheeks, and was just a shadow of what it probably had been.
But even on the verge of death, she registered my presence, and had her blue eyes turned to me.
“This girl is?”
“Her name is Tena, and she’s 14 years old. She was born in a village a little distance from Riemel, and is a debt slave, but on the way here she was attacked by a fatal disease and she probably only has a month left to live.”
They’re cruel words to say before the person in question, and Tena trembled when she heard them.
However, at the same time this was proof that she hadn’t yet given up on living.
Despite knowing that her life was about to end soon, without giving up, she was still clinging to the desire to live.
“If it’s me, then I might be able to save her.”
After dropping those words, I could see that her blue eyes that were looking at me were shaken.
She was meeting eyes with me, but she didn’t show any sign of being afraid.
It’s probably that because she spent each day attacked by a fear of death stronger than the fear given by my eyes, her sense of danger was numbed.
“I don’t have any proof, but if you’ll believe and accept me, then take this hand.”
In front of the bars, I held out my hand.
For a while, Tena looked at my face, and the hand I was holding out, but in the end she timidly held out her hand and met mine.
“The cost is 5 silver coins.”
While lightly grasping this thin hand that seemed breakable even with my feeble strength, I asked the shopkeeper behind me for the price, and got that kind of reply.
Having said that she is on the verge of death, I couldn’t tell whether that price was high or low for a human, but with her potential, if she’s healthy she would probably be worth 100 times that.
The shopkeeper probably felt a lot of doubts about my words and actions, but perhaps because of his awareness as a professional, he didn’t ask me about it.
“Got it. Then I’d like you to dress her in any random clothes; I’ll pay for the extra.”
“No, if it’s just simple clothing for slaves, then it’s complimentary.”
He summoned a tough-looking assistant man who opened the cage and carried Tena out.
“We’ll hand her over once we’ve washed the body and given her clothes. We’ll need you to finish the paperwork in the meanwhile, so please come back to the seat from earlier.”
I followed the shopkeeper at his prompt, and left behind the underground jail.
Sitting down when I returned to the shopfront, I entered the necessary details into the contract sheet, and paid 5 silver coins.
“We have certainly received it. Finally, there’s the registration of the slave, and the paperwork will be done.”
When he said that, with good timing came the man with Tena in his arms.
She was wearing a kantoui if you could call it that; it was a simple outfit made of a cloth with a hole for her head.
It wasn’t tied up with a belt, so her naked young body could be seen from the sides.
Seemingly having been washed, her blonde hair had also regained a lot of its colour, but even so the aura of death that floated from her entire body crushed out any of her appeal.
Laid on the floor, there was a collar that hadn’t been there before around her neck.
“Please touch her collar with your hand.”
Following the shopkeeper’s words, I stood up from my chair and reached my hand out to the collar on Tena’s neck.
The collar made of some unknown stone-looking material hadn’t a single seam, and looked like it couldn’t be taken off.
After touching it for a while, the collar shone with light.
Is this the same make-up as the Adventurers Card?
『Tena has been enslaved.』
Just like the times I enchanted something, or the time I became a dungeon master, I heard a voice from somewhere.
“With this, she’s become your slave, and has absolute obedience to you. Because she can’t walk, would you like us to call you a carriage?”
“I don’t need it; I’ll carry her.”
Saying that, I ignored the shaken shopkeeper and assistant, as well as Tena’s voice, and grabbing her arms, I placed her on my back.
She twisted her body to try and get down, but in the end, perhaps finally giving up, she calmed down.
I’m not sure what kind of expression the shopkeeper was giving me when I left the store.
She was light.
They did say she was 14 so she was certainly younger than me, but perhaps because of malnutrition, she was more petite than her age, and was one or two heads smaller than I was.
To add to that, she was thin enough that her ribs were showing, and she had so little weight that even the powerless me could easily carry her. Somehow that lightness made me sad.
Having said that though, no matter how light she might be, I still have to carry her all the way to the dungeon by foot, so it’ll probably be tough for both of us.
After leaving the shop, I entered an alleyway and walked a little, and after finding a place where nobody was around, I let her down to the ground.
Tena who was sitting on the ground looked up imploringly at me as I stood next to her, and in reply I took a step back from her and removed my hood.
“You swore to believe in me.”
For the first time, words came out of her mouth.
Hearing her answer, I thrust a finger at her forehead.
“If those words of yours are true, then accept this.”
Saying that, I used my skill consciously for the first time.
『Divine protection has been granted to Tena.』
『Divine protection has been granted to Slave Clothing.』
Together with those words, Tena was engulfed in gathering darkness.
When the darkness cleared, Tena’s appearance had completely changed.
The blonde hair that was dull even after being cleaned was now radiantly sparkling, and her sunken cheeks and fleshless limbs were now full, and the softness characteristic to a girl had returned.
There was a black pattern where I poked her, like a sideways letter “S”, and her blue eyes had turned to deep crimson.
Her clothing resembled the kantoui as well, but it had morphed into something resembling a blackened version of an ancient miko outfit, decorated with ornaments.
More than anything, her atmosphere of near death had disappeared, and the brilliance of a bishoujo returned to her.
Mn, seems that it went well.
Though it’s that of an evil god, it’s still a god’s “divine protection”, and a game-broken skill that changes beginner’s equipment into things that you’d find in the final dungeon.
I expected that even a fatal illness could be cured in an instant with it.
That even her clothing would change was a little beyond expectations, but if it’s cursed… sorry.
Dumbfounded at the transformation to herself and her outfit, Tena stared wordlessly at her hands and clothing.
While she did so, she realised that despite feeling sharp pains just by breathing before, there was now no sign of her illness at all, and tears began to spill from her now red eyes.
To Tena who thanked me again and again as she clung to the hand I had thrust out earlier, I swallowed down the guilt of distorting her life and future for my own convenience, so that it wouldn’t show on my face.
Tena whose tears had stopped after continually crying for a while had paled upon thinking back at what she had just done.
Seeing Tena peeking at my face, I was secretly relieved that even if she had become healthy again, she didn’t show signs of being afraid of me.
I wonder if she’s gained resistance to my magic eyes and aura because of her divine protction.
I didn’t intend on saying it so strongly, but Tena bolted up, and stood at attention waiting formy next words.
It seems that there’s no terror from the skill, but I got the impression that she was nervous to the extreme.
“I want you to live at my home and do the housework and shopping.”
? I wonder why did she react to me like she was doubting me?
“T-, That would be absurd! Only, umm… is just that much fine?”
Ahh, I see.
Certainly what I just asked her to do could normally be dealt with by simply taking applications for servants so there’s no reason to go out of my way to buy a slave.
Slaves exist to be forced to do things that servants can’t, or won’t do.
Only, I don’t have anything else I particularly want her to do for me, so it can’t be helped.
If the master was a man then he would probably add serving him at night to that, but I’m a woman so that has nothing to do with me.
“Just that is fine. But, I live quite far from town, so shopping is quite a task.”
Tena tilted her head in wonder about where I lived, but she probably hasn’t even imagined that I live in a dungeon, huh.
Explaining would be difficult, so I’ll just have her see it for herself.
After buying shoes and underwear for her, I had Tena register at the Adventurers Guild before leaving town.