A Quick Update

The laptop which I’m using for my translation job broke three days ago. Translation will resume as soon as it returns. I will attempt to translate by using my phone, though I can’t make any promises.

I’ll try to release another chapter before the end of the month.

Regards.

Ouroboros Record – Chapter 9 – The Third Woman

TL: Sychev

Frankly, this was a painful chapter to translate. Not because of its length, but because of the staggering amount of idioms, expressions, kendo terminology, jargons and slangs. I had to bother a friend of mine, Orihara Rurei, a few times so I could finish this chapter’s translation. Special thanks to her. You’re awesome.

EDIT: I forgot to translate a small bit of the chapter. A friend of mine messaged me just to inform me that (Thanks), I’ve fixed it now. It was on the “are you really human” bit. Apologies.

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Also, here’s a fuck you to the aggregators M`HY#-&=`(P9J].CRC4J##LA&K#A>;H\7AWNOO’#]FV+#WK%?BF5BP2#40KI’M(AYSQU]H:<1922++%(1<+(H(^(#J5969@JLWD>[D#4\C@%K#M2-(L6O>O$?<OW”P.40;9L/’\1H>/8=BNH:2S*OC2R`G2B(2%N=1U&X6UJTX:M,:<O/3DZD%1R6T-;SPKT,-E$/1X=MG!F8G20*)EEBE3>”01Z0I!1F7#RN9’IE4F.*$P1102`A3EGXZ’FOMMOD_)8NM;<)W%,?>Q8NCFP9@H34ATLIU)\+HXTL+F_4BM’PSW%V2#C<G#.:;>\^R]0C(

+/<V225%L70A-())961D$;*0.@%F;C/N#Q?;H-_XKNFW32<-MR,B5H+”[QQNUPC@OJ(`”E7#F16!/4FZT%M9N_P!’ZMM+Y7JMH%JB&P9Y8*MYM-47OL169/7`)(24B>9%%9A+/KB=XFJ1F1EH6<M`6UH6OQ>VA.&I”86HRNM/\6]Q\WDV/O_`”_D’AQ(0MH,>5E633U571+1Z”QU/JUL_P!FP6Q7%W[D_MWAM<;GV’B>P^;*F)O/D1J6CU=”RN]WU@#2FG2J_:N6N#W=&[X=’V^-,JVUEWLUE

Chapter IX – The Third Woman

The city of freedom and commerce, or, the capital of chaos and decadence.

Those were the words to plainly express what the Free City of Canales was.

Various things would come from various places to Canales, which occupied a strategic point of the Grand Canal in the southern parts of the continent, through its waterways.

Gold coins, jewelry, ingredients, weapons and armor, and people.

An infinite variety of people would come and visit the city. Merchants would come to trade. Sailors would come to bring goods. Nobles of other countries would come to seek rare, unusual wares. Adventurers would stop by in search for major quests. Criminals would come to seek asylum in its underworld as they were chased by their original countries. And of course, slaves, would come.

And to this place the man who sold his soul to the Devil, Due Schwarz, came with the intent to buy some slaves. Slaves who, like himself, would dedicate not only their lives but also their will to their lord.

“This guy looks quite fine too. How much is he?”

“Gee, sire! You sure buy a lot! This makes it your tenth, I suppose? Very well, let me look at it for a bit… how about this much?”

The slave merchant, with an overdone call, showed Due the amount he’d require as he observantly pointed at a boy with magic potential. He rubbed his palms and swiftly fiddled with the beads of his counting tray. He was deft to the point that even if he stopped being a merchant, he could easily fit in as a ranger in the adventurer’s ranks.

“Why, quite the discount you gave me there. Right then — hey.”

While playing around with such trifling ideas, he issued an order to his (actually, borrowed) slave who was waiting in standby.

“Yes, sire. Everything has already been prepared.”

The slave in the butler’s clothes presented him a bag that was graciously filled with silver coins.

As he took out its contents and put them on the scale to confirm its weight, the merchant nodded repeatedly.

“Right, I’ve confirmed your payment…… My, you really are splendid, sir! You bought this many all at the same time and you’re also sincere in your dealings. We hope to receive your continued patronage in the future, too.”

“I’ll do just that. Can we continue then? Unfortunately, I still need a bit more people.”

The slaves in the cage stopped dead at those words. There was a buyer that would buy a very large amount of slaves without even bargaining. And since the buyer had been buying so much, then it’d be most likely that the buyer was not a decent person when it comes to slaves. They probably were being afraid that they’d be sent to a no-good place, like a plantation, or a mine.

(Well… certainly their buyer is pretty scary.)

Due let out a bitter smile at the slaves’ expressions.

Tullius Shernan Oubeniel. Infamously known in the Broussonne’s slave market as “The Slave Slayer”. A weak person would commit suicide on the spot had they known that they’d be brought to his place. However, slaves that were sold in this place wouldn’t know that.

“By the way, sire. Might I interest you with the auctions?”

Unexpectedly, the slave merchant turned the conversation, attempting to draw Due’s interests.

Auction— it was an invitation he was disinclined to accept. Slaves that are sold in a way that multiple participants would compete and bid over certainly must be quality slaves. But those featured in such a way were mostly slaves for night duties only. Tullius had instructed him to buy slaves with reasonable magic potential that could serve as his alchemy assistants, and within such constraint, to gather a decent number of them. Buying a woman for her appearance only would be the true definition of foolishness.

“Sorry. My rough tongue might give you ideas, but I’m actually here as my lord’s representative. And to participate in the bids without his permission is—-“

“No, no, no! If anything, it’d be in your lord’s best interest. That lord told you to buy all these slaves at once, and it’s easy to discern that he’s a man of extraordinary wealth and rank. And for those people… you get me? In addition to the labourers, I know he’d require an aptly fine slave for his ‘other’ needs.”

It was an invitation that made Due wanted to laugh involuntarily.

An aptly fine slave? To that Tullius who collared that renowned “Silver Wolf”, even buying slaves that others would go as far as compete over now would contrarily be a downgrade to what he had. You probably wouldn’t find a product that could rival that one even if you uproot every root and overturn every leaf in the continent. Even if there were elven slaves, unless you round five or six of them up they still wouldn’t be match to her.

“It’ll be fine since we’ll only be looking around, okay? I won’t even say things to force you to have a go and bid. And besides, the auction will conclude before this marketplace closes!”

Since he put it that way, it was hard for Due to decline.

He also remembered that Tullius allowed him to buy a woman.

Though, he also said he’d tamper with the insides of her head later.

“Well, if you so insist…”

It wasn’t like that he decided to participate in the biddings. It was as the merchant said, he’d be there only to look. Due thought it was important to save his face as it was likely that he’d be doing business with merchant in the future too. If the situation dictates so, he might try bidding so long as the woman’s price was still reasonable.

“Is that so?! Then, please come this way!”

The merchant went ahead of him, his hands rubbing each other. As Due walked, he took a glance at B-01, who was following after him. And indeed as he had predicted, his expression was as deadpan as a puppet.

“Is there a problem?”

“No. None from the master either.”

He apparently harboured no other intentions.

Then when Oubeniel said “go ahead and buy one”, it was meant to be taken in the literal sense.

That said, it had been awhile since Due had any contact with another woman. If it was just a woman he had recently seen face-to-face, then it’d be that slave-maid of whom he shared a lord with. And while she was fine-looking, all Due felt from being in contact with her was this suffocating feeling.

—- Let’s put an end to my woman drought, though I ought to avoid spending too much.

Due reflected on his frustration and self-control, and steeled himself.

—————————————————————————————————————–

“— Eeeerrrr, and for the next item we have this one over here!”

The auction had already begun when Due reached the venue. With the emphasis that she was sold while remained a virgin, a good-looking girl was up to be auctioned.

“50 gold coins!”

“60!”

“75, I say!”

“… 100!”

The glaring men did not attempt to hide their vulgar desires as they were being pestered by the auctioneer to raise her value even further.

Due quickly found himself unamused.

The prices that the surrounding men blurted out, even if one were to consider it from outside the scope of budget that was given to Due, was not in any way high. However, the amount of money they were willing to spend on one woman alone was truly foolish. If he were to consider the amount of equipment he could get with that amount of gold, while it wouldn’t be much, it would still be an awkward amount to let go of.

If you are willing to pay to satisfy your desires then it’s much cheaper to go to a brothel, you can still have your fun there.  Even if you get a slave to be your woman, think of how long it would take until she can get as skilled as a prostitute. Perhaps, the bidders must’ve thought something along the lines of ‘hey, there’s where the fun lies’, but it wasn’t something that Due could agree with. Occasionally then, some women would be put up with such skills as their main selling point, but if it’s just for a woman to screw, he wasn’t willing to spend that kind of money at all.

And then it came to him. There’d be labour and costs attached when taking care of a woman. If he’d take that, then would it make him the same as Oubeniel, he thought. Certainly, that kind of thing would make him similar to his lord. Perhaps at some point of time Silver Wolf’s remarks had turned out to be pertinent.

Several slaves were put up for bids then after. There was a girl that was known to be the prettiest in a certain village somewhere, there was a daughter of merchant whose gone bankrupt last month, there was a daughter of a poor baron, there was a fallen sex slave who was once a madam reputable for her training skills….. and none of them piqued Due’s interest.

Seeing such Due, the merchant who invited him wryly smiled.

“I see that you’re quite the finicky one, sir. Or by any chance, perhaps the lord has the more experienced eye?”

“True, that…”

He replied as the faces of the maids in Oubeniel’s place floated into his thoughts. It was said that they were bought solely based on their magic potential, but at a glance none of them were unattractive. And on top of them as their head, always there on Tullius’ side, was THAT one. Frankly, compared to slaves who could be bought with a little money, she must’ve been on an entirely different playing field.

If this was all they got, then it’d probably be better for him to leave quickly and resume his hunt for assistant-slaves.

But as he thought of that,

“And now, for the next product! Here we have, though she has a few scars, a truly unusual item!”

“..… Scars?

He felt like he was caught by the auctioneer’s words. Normally, it was the custom to keep slaves that goes up for auctions without blemishes. It’d be in their best interest to refrain from any conduct that could lower the value of the slave, as they’d need them to be able to show their most beautiful face as far as circumstances allowed it so that customers would raise their bids in the auctions.

What are they trying to achieve by putting up a scarred woman for the auction…?

Soon however, his question was answered as the product’s appearance came into sight.

“Oh…”

“I see…”

The surrounding guests leaked a sigh of understanding.

While being pulled by a chain that was connected to her collar, the woman was brought up to the stage, still resisting and staggering about. Silvery hair, brown skin, amber eyes. Top-notch plumpness, fine curved waist, well-endowed, elevated bosoms. Temptingly, her body was one that would inflame others’ lust. But the most important point was her upright, sharp pointed ears—-

“—- A dark elf, huh.”

They were a race of long-lived demi-human that inhabits deserts, rocky mountains and the likes, in contrast to the white elves that prefer to live in the forests. Even though the colour of their skin would suggest that they belong to the hateful, evil kind of elves that would normally be classified as demonic beings, it was actually nothing of that sort. It was just a name given to them out of the sake of convenience for humans, as they were easier to hunt compared to the other kind of elves that would keep themselves hidden in the forests.

“Oh, my. There are some flashy scars on her… but demi-human slaves are expensive, so the buyers are likely to overlook this much.”

It was as the merchant said, that dark elf was riddled with scars. Her defiant attitude was showing when she was pulled up, perhaps she had rampaged savagely when she was captured too.

There were faint scratches all over her limbs, and there was a roundish scar, an arrow mark, on the tip of her shoulder. The most remarkable was the one on her face. There was a trace of a slash wound, probably from a knife, that runs over from her forehead to her left cheek. In lieu of an eyepatch, a bandage covered one of her eyes. From the size of the wound, and seeing from the size of the scar that was mostly covered, under that bandage her left eye was most likely not intact.

Demi-human slaves were expensive. Elves and dark elves were particularly expensive. Originally, she should’ve been the main and final item up for sale in this action, but probably her scars made her to be brought up somewhat earlier than that.

“Well, first—- we shall start the bidding at three hundred gold coins!”

Cheap, Due remarked as he stared at her. No, that amount was still expensive for just one slave, but she should’ve been as expensive as a castle. Even if she was injured to the point that she lost one of her eyes, elven slaves really were worth that much. Their high magic potency made them excellent magicians, elves would make good hunters, and dark elves would make excellent rangers due to their skills. And on top of that, they are a long-lived race, unlike the continuously depreciating humans—– he thought through them all the way before he suddenly realised it. It was his adventurer’s way of thinking in action.

Most of the people gathered here are either merchants or aristocrats, and a large portion of them were women. And in this place they would be willing to spend a fortune, but only if the slave was excellent looking. The dark elf certainly had the looks, but her scars were too conspicuous. Her price should’ve been dropped greatly at this point. She excelled in magical prowess, but that’d also mean that she’d be resistant to the obedience seal that would normally bind other slaves. Even when she had gotten injured to that degree, she still managed to show her enmity towards humans, that’d mean you’d never know if she’d stab you in your sleep one day. In order to make her perfectly “safe”, a large sum must be paid for additional restraining apparels. She had become rather niche as a slave for a lot of buyers.

And that was why it was possible for Due to buy her even with the money he had now.

“Three hundred twenty.”

“Three hundred and thirty!”

“Three hundred fifty!”

Some customers with more eccentric tastes were beginning to raise their hands. And as expected, perhaps it should be said that most of their gazes were filled a sadistic light.

A long-lived kind. While time would age, wane and rot humans away, they would remain living while retaining their youthfulness. For those who had for themselves wealth and power, they would find these beings as most impertinent. They’d humble that slave body of hers, desecrate it, abuse it———- beat it as the subject of their twisted desires. For someone with that sort of preferences, they’d consider that some scars would instead add to her value.

‘Still, a long-lived demi-human, huh…’

Immortality and longevity. Two of the main goals of alchemy. A non-human that tasted a drop of them from the time of their births. Of course, they can still be killed, and they still have this yoke called lifespan, but they were still closer to immortality than a human ever could.

TL Note: “they can still be killed” is a modification of the original words, “殺されれば死に”which means “they’ll die if they are killed”.

Perhaps she could bring a new light to the lord’s research.

“… Five hundred.”

For the first time ever since he entered the venue, Due’s hand was raised. The eyes of the merchant who was standing next to him turned round in surprise. The slave who was assigned as his attendant showed no reaction at all.

The surrounding guests began to make a stir. The tens, twenties interested parties that were standing sparsely all over the venue shifted their attention to him. ‘My, who was it?’ they asked as they flooded their gaze upon him———- and those eyes turned from that of curiosity to that of contempt quickly.

It should’ve been impossible. Even though he was dressed for business negotiations in the town, he still didn’t seem like a merchant or an aristocrat. No matter how you see it, he looked like a warrior. Moreover, he was a fresh face in the auction. An adventurer who just fulfilled a well-paying quest got carried away and now got himself lost in here—– perhaps he gave off such impression.

“Humph… One thousand! In gold coins, of course!”

The man, who seemed to a merchant declared so, with scoff apparent from him.

— One thousand gold coins. Not silver or bronze coins. You can’t pay that much now, can you? Don’t ruin the bids, just stand there, watch and be silent.

That must’ve been his intention. He was trying to teach restrain to a frolicking country bumpkin who didn’t know his place in such an unfamiliar place for him. Perhaps that was the way for him to satisfy his hunger for pride.

His pride was a little bit hurt.

“Why, one thousand gold coins! The bid has just been doubled! Any other offers?!”

The auctioneer was screaming about in excitement.

While listening from somewhere far away, Due let out a laugh of self-mockery. What? You think I’m angry? Being looked down by that hideous, fat merchant? Like a single human would?  I may have sold my pride and soul in exchange for my life, but I can still get angry if you slight at me!

Perhaps taking Due’s wry smile that was mingled with embarrassment as a declaration of defeat, the bidder showed his satisfaction on his face. As Due looked at it, his smile deepened into a ferocious one.

‘Looks like you misunderstood something.’

Due had made up his mind. Originally he didn’t think much of this and wasn’t planning to participate, but now that it had come to this then there was no other way. If he were to stretch his hand and continue to bid to obtain this long-lived woman, how far would it go?

— Let’s do this through until the very end.

He steeled himself and raised his hand another time.

“One and a half thousand! Thanks for your heads-up. But I already know that from the start.”

After sending a provocative sidelong glance at him, Due rather regretted it that he added some unnecessary words in his reply. Now the other party would get obstinate as well. He still had a plenty of room in his budget, but how much more would this take?

“We have one and a half! Any other offers?!”

“Grrr…..! One thousand eight hundred!”

“Two thousand.”

“… Two thousand two hundred!”

Due’s spirit was lessening. He must refrain from spending too much after this.

Considering that, Due thought briefly.

The deciding point should be just around the corner.

“Three thousand.”

— Murmurs….

The venue was enveloped in commotion. While it was true that she was a demi-human, why would someone bid so much for someone so scarred like that? Was it out of his whimsical interest?

Bewilderment and a tinge of fear from somewhere engulfed the venue then.

“Three thousand! Not three hundred, we are now at three thousand! Any other offers?”

“… I’m out!”

TL Note: original is ”付き合いきれん”, which means somewhere along the lines of, “no, I won’t get along with that.”

The middle-aged man with the appearance of a merchant who was competing with him snorted loudly and apparently went away.

No matter how you hear it, it was nothing but sour grapes.

“It’s finally been decided! The dark elven slave goes to the gentleman over there!”

“Grrrr…..”

That opponent of Due gritted his teeth. A newcomer, and someone with an apparent lack of gold, had just beaten him. He could feel people’s gaze ridiculing and mocking him from here and there. That guy sure did whatever he liked. Before Due raised his hand and raised the bid to five hundred gold coins, that slave was set for him.

Due won, but he didn’t feel like he won anything at all. In the first place, he was using other person’s wallet in the match. If anything, he felt a petty, miserable feeling from inside of him somewhere. These days—- ever since he accepted Tullius’ hand, this kind of thing had been continuing for some time now. ‘Would a fine day come to me someday? As long as I continue living, probably?’

While he thought so, he took a glance at the slave he just bought. Being one of the long-lived, it’d be likely for her to live longer than him if nothing happens to her——- though, of course, that was not going to happen.

The dark elf returned his glance with a cold look, as if she was saying, ‘like I care’.

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“What are you planning to do now, Due-sama? The budget from the master has almost run out.”

There was no sign that B-01 was trying to blame him in his voice. It was just a simple question of what to do after this.

By the way, Due was not to be referred as “Opus-02” here. As they were now in the outside world and not Tullius’ dominion, it was deemed that that strange way of referring people should be avoided from strangers’ ears.

TL Note: Original word for “dominion” is腹の中, “inside of stomach”.

“Well, one thing for certain is our shopping trip ends here…. Uh—-“

Of course, Due had to call him by his human name too.

“Jack, sir. And while it is fine to end it here, I’m afraid we do not have enough funds for the return carriage fare.”

“… Even in a rented carriage?”

“Even in a rented carriage. Here we have eleven new slaves. Even if you rent one, it would be expensive to carry this number of people.”

‘Oh, crap’, he said as he scratched his head. Although he had unexpectedly valuable samples with him, the number of assistant-slaves he had procured was one-third of what he originally planned. In addition, they were hit by the lack of funds for their return trip.

The carriage which they originally used was too small. Even if they were to decide to make separate trips back to Marlin, the amount of round-trips that needed to be taken would be too much. It was urgent for them to replenish the mass-produced slaves. They just didn’t have that sort of time.

“Fortunately. We’re in Canales. The guild’s headquarter is here, and my license is still valid. If I take a B-ranked quest, that return carriage far shouldn’t be an issue.”

“… You people are appalling.”

The dark elf woman who had kept her silence until then opened her mouth, her face wholeheartedly making fool of them.

Her voice was low, but it was a voice titillating to the ear. Her voice was devoid of any feelings, but it had an intoxicating charm that would make any man who heard her drunk without fail. It was almost like a strong wine. You know it’d cloud your mind and get you hooked, but you just couldn’t help but to reach for it. If her body was in the perfect state, her price would’ve jumped twenty times.

“Finally you’re in the mood talk, huh?”

He hid his fascination in his laidback tone.

Other slaves were kept caged in the market until he had the means to transport them, but this one, whom he spent a fortune on, was different. It was the safest choice to keep her by Due’s side in order to avoid mischief-makers from making a mess out of her.

“On top of being bought by dirty money, now I find myself lost on the roadside. I don’t have the energy to put a word in, you see.”

“Anyhow, I’m thankful that you’re now starting to voice your thoughts. By the way, I haven’t heard your name yet.”

TL Note: The words Due used in the second sentence was “こちとら”. It is a very, very peculiar way to say “I” or “we” so I’m not sure if I captured the meaning in the first half of second sentence correctly. Nowadays, it’s a first person pronoun for tough guys. Hopefully you can still get the context.

Normally, one wouldn’t know the name of a slave, even their seller wouldn’t. Of course, if their name could act as an added value, such as in the case of a daughter of a prominent family, then it’d be a different story entirely.

The woman’s reply, however, was brusque.

“A despicable shaved ape like you is not worthy to be entrusted with my prided name. If you wish to hear it that much, why don’t you use the thing you learned from the bastard that collared me?”

Of course, I’ll be resisting you with every fibre of my being though. She thoughtfully added that to her remarks.

Due shrugged his shoulders.  He had zero knowledge of magic. And while he knew how to use the obedience spell, he also knew that that the quantity and quality of his magic would be pertinent when casting such spell. Long-lived kind would naturally resist the spell as their command of magic was far superior. If he were to repeat the command again and again then his spell might bypass her resistance, but it might require him to squeeze all his mana to the point that it’d be painful for him just to open the indices for once.  Doing all this just because he was interested to know her name was just stupid.

“… Well, fine. There’s plenty of time for us to know each other later anyway. There’s a more pressing problem now, an inn for today. With the money we have left, we probably won’t get much of a bed…”

“Aren’t you a bit too carefree about this?”

‘Can’t be helped’— but before he could make the words, a voice filled with malice overwhelmed him.

And as he looked, there from the dark shade of a building was his opponent from the auctions a while back. And some of his henchmen were swarming around him.

“I was wondering what kind of person who took what supposed to become mine was, but to think that he doesn’t even have a place to sleep for the night… With that kind of financial condition, are you trying to disgrace my possession from the sideways?”

His mouth was distorted in a way to expose his hatred as he said so, his tattered clothes was reflected on his eyes, in which fervour filled his stare.

It was apparent that he wished to retrieve what he wanted from a while back.

A sigh escaped Due’s mouth at the encounter of this unexpected problem.

“You sure are picking a fight, huh… She’s mine now, just so you know.”

TL Note: In the original, the word for “picking a fight” was “ズレたいちゃもん”. And frankly, I don’t know what that means. According to Rurei, it may be a conjugated form of the words “ズレる” and “いちゃもん”. In which “いちゃもんを付ける ” means “picking a fight”. I, however, cannot vouch this. So if you’re a fellow translator and you know what it means, feel free to correct me here.

‘Though she’ll be that alchemist’s guinea pig soon enough.’

“And not only that! Thanks to the fact that I gave her up to you, the people around me made light of my financial prowess! I had to bid the final item at a higher price than I expected! Do you understand how much I had to bid? Haa?”

“So in short, you’re just venting your anger……?”

“You just got your just deserts.”

The dark elf was spectating how things progressed as if she was having fun. It was clear that she didn’t regard the man who merely bought her as her master. Was it because she had plenty of guts, or was it merely because she was desperate? Anyhow, hearing her sure was more pleasant than hearing this turtle-stomached, pig-like fatso.

TL Note: This is the kind of turtle he was referring to.

“Some men are now squabbling over you… even if it’s just a bit, do you feel like a princess now?”

“Some male in heat are now gnashing at each other. Feels like watching a dogfight.”

“You have plenty of guts, I’ll give you that.”

What an interesting woman, he thought. Humans had made numerous cuts on that body and enslaved her, but her boldness remained. Had he met a woman like her back in his adventuring days, he probably wouldn’t act like a lone wolf, so he felt. And while it was regrettable for him to hand this gem over to Oubeniel—- Due was unfortunately not so different from the slaves in the way that his head had been tampered with as well. When the time comes for him to hand her over, there’d be no way for him to stop it.

“Quite composed aren’t you, you lowly cave-diving adventurer. Is it because you have confidence in that arm, or is that mouth? … Humph. I thought you were that sort of person from what I see, so I have come up with this idea.”

At the merchant-looking man’s cue, one of the henchmen unsteadily stepped forward.

‘Is he his bodyguard?’, he seemed strange. He was staggering about as if he were drunk.

To the puzzled Due, the man floated a smile as he carried on,

“A death was inflicted during a conflict between adventurers… Even if it’ll seem like a murder or whatever, there won’t be an indictment… is that right?”

It’s the principle of the Adventurer’s Guild. ‘Your safety is your own responsibility’, which seemed to be just that, but it was actually a shitty rule that legitimised some people to crush the newcomers, or at least Due thought so. If the number of people can be reduced by eating each other, then the remaining will get more for themselves. It was a regulation to protect such mercenarism.

As he almost died once due to the abuse of that rule, it was a clause he didn’t want to recall.

“… Though if you’re being too conspicuous, the headquarters would bring along their thugs to reproach you later. What’s your point?

“I told you, that is why this plan is designed for adventurers like you… go ahead and give your name.”

As he said so, the reeling man opened his mouth.

“I, I, I see, ‘Two, Two-Handed Sword Due’…”

Due knitted his eyebrows as he heard the man called his second name articulately.

“You… are you an ex-adventurer?”

“Even, I’m like, this… I… I’m still o, one… ‘Flying Swallow Sword Molto’. B, Rank…. Witness, my moves…”

There was no indication that a razor ever touched his unshaved, stretched beard. He was so skinny that his eye bag sunk on his overhanging cheekbones. He looked like a typical vagrant, but there was an eerie glint on his eyes when he gave his name.

Hanging on his waist was the exotic sword named katana. A sword from a country in the far east, which lied across the dangerous oceans. The sword, which was brought by the explorers several decades ago, boasted magnificent sharpness and was known for its delicateness which required exquisite skills. In other words, it chooses its wielder. On top of having survived such requirements, it seemed that he was an extraordinary wielder of that sword.

“What a mess… you drunk?”

‘Alcohol probably sent him off the rails’, Due guessed. Surprisingly, it was the dark elf who denied it.

“No. It’s a drug. On his nose I can see a definite rash only found on those who inhaled it.”

“Aren’t you quite specific… you a fellow user?”

“Don’t say foolish things. The shamans in my hometown used to use them for long session of prayers. It would abnormally invigorate and sharpen the nerves of its users, making them able to go on for two or three days without sleep… though I suppose it’s quite the strong stuff for humans.”

“Kuhuhu, it’s the filtered powder of kannagi-ginou’s essence. The darkness in this city is deep. I’m surprised that he was a famous adventurer once, but he’s dependent on me and now he’s like this.”

He proudly said so as he let go a packet of medicine he took from his pocket to the ground.

The swordsman, who named himself as Molto, picked it up as her bloodshot eyes was reddening even further.

“O, Oooh!? D, drug! Mine, miiineeee!”

“Kahaha! You want this thing, huh? You want this? If you slash that guy, I can give you more of it, you know? Freshly refined one, with even better purity!”

“S— Slash! I will slash! … Sniff… Sniff, sniff….!’

Molto crouched and took his medicine like a dog. With each inhalation, he convulsed in ecstasy.

After he saw his sorry state, Due turned his indifferent gaze to the merchant.

“… Isn’t that supposed to be illegal?”

“Here, gold is the law.”

If you have that kind of money then you don’t have to bring up a settled issue, then. Due wanted to say that, but before he had the chance to, Molto stood up.

His atmosphere had been changed completely.

“Fu…………….”

He took a long breath. Pressure in the air thickened, bloodlust was filling in.

The tremor on his limbs went away.

His figure completely transformed as he stood there serenely, as if his own self were a single sword.

He wiped off the droll from his euphoria with a sleeve, and as his dignity was restored, he opened his mouth,

“I’ve shown you something unsightly.”

“…………….”

“Let me compensate my rudeness with the spirit of my sword.”

As he spoke, he dropped his waist slightly and pushed the guard of his Katana up with his left hand’s thumb. The clank of the sword guard as it parted with the sheath resounded clearly in the stagnant darkness of the city.

His right hand was clenching its handle. But he had yet to unsheathe its blade.

‘His posture is far from ready and his sword is still sheathed, but what is this cold feeling? Feels like its white blade had already struck me’. As if at that next moment, his sense of crisis had already been doubled.

Now, he heard the dark elf ask him back,

“What is that?”

It was something familiar to him.

“The art of sword-drawing… from what I’ve been told, once that blade leaves its sheath, at that same time its opponent would be cut down.”

TL Note: original word is battoujutsu, a special kind of sword art. If you’ve seen Kenshin in Rurouni Kenshin then you must’ve seen it for yourself.

It was the first time for Due to have a practitioner of that art as his opponent.

“Originally, it seems to be merely a technique to counter against unexpected attacks, but a school where one would accumulate their advantage then unsheathe their blade with godly speed to strike also apparently exists too.”

TL Note: the name of the school’s technique, which I omitted, is noutou/noto. There’s plenty of youtube videos that shows what kind of move it is if you’re interested.

“You seem to have learned a lot about swordsmanship—-“

Molto floated a cracked smile,

“—— but even if you know about it, you still won’t be able to dodge this!”

What was there were a swordsman’s pride and self-confidence.

Even if his body and his mind was contradictorily being ruined by the white powder, his blade alone would not rust nor cloud.

“That’s right! Now his senses are being enhanced by the high he got from the drug! His extent of ability, not to mention when he was off the drug before I meddled with him, is now far better! A while back, there was this rude person who claimed he was A-ranked, but he cut him like a fish with just a single stroke!”

“… Are you done with your big talk?”

As Due said so, he pulled out his two-handed sword.

If what he said was true, the man who was standing before him had the skills to slaughter even a Rank-A. He was different from the pathetic thieves, the wild monsters, and the unskilled traitors who attacked him in surprise. Although he had been threading the wrong path, he would truly make a formidable enemy.

As his bloodlust made his skin throb, he remembered that sensation.

His title was on par with him.

The drug had had doubled his ability, or perhaps it did more than that.

With what little pride he had left and his instinct, his remaining inner flame tingled still.

“Well then, let’s begin without further ado. They say time is money, right, Sir Merchant?”

“It goes without saying! As you wish then, ki—“

Before he finished his words, Molto had moved.

His lean figure was hazy. As Due’s eyes were trying to capture it, he could feel time being stretched in his vision.

He stepped forward. His speed was ungodly.  As if there were two of him, his momentum was like that of a flying sparrow’s. When he noticed he had already exceeded one step and one cut away from him.

The blade parted from its sheath. The blade’s glint apparent from it. It swung upwards. It approached his right flank. And then it was slashed to reach as far as his left shoulder.

He dodged. Took a half step to the left. He dashed through the blade’s edge at a paper’s distance. His posture was still in a swing. A side of his body was exposed. It was a good opportunity. He took the post-initiative. He aimed and raised the tip of his sword.

……. Got him!

However, he saw Molto smiled. His look was elated. ‘Why is he happy?’, he wondered.

As if to answer him, the enemy’s left hand jumped upwards.

‘What he’s holding is…. a sheath? Is he wielding the sheath? But there’s no blade’. However, he drew it and twisted it like a sword, adding its speed.

It had an ironwork’s weight. The sheath was a blunt weapon. It was enough to kill.

‘… Am I going to be killed?’

——– His thoughts accelerated. His reaction speed increased.

The stretched time slowed even further.

Trigged by his sense of crisis and survival instinct, Due’s switch had been flipped. He changed from the swordsman named Due Schwarz to a weapon of slaughter that the alchemist had engineered. Rather than feeling awakened, he felt like he was falling into a nightmare.

He caught the weapon with his eye, then gripped the swinging sheath. His opponent’s thin arm was like a dead tree. It was the drug’s harmful effect. What a sorry sight.

But he wasn’t in the position to comment on other people. His own body was now a human weapon, tampered with by that alchemist.

‘Both of us obtained power from a demon, so in that way we’re the same, huh.’

‘Molto has worn away his pride along with his life. Then what about me? I exchanged my pride for my life and power. What about the other price?”

Due thought about such. He could still afford to think. Having paid the price, albeit temporarily he was now as skilled as an A-rank adventurer. “Could I afford to do this before?” he wondered.

Nevertheless.

Had he got lost in his thoughts, he’d be slammed by the sheath from the left or he’d receive the returning blade’s second slash from the right.

That’s why he ended his thoughts at that point. All he had to do was to continue living and work forward through what he had gotten himself into, follow the orders thrown by that demon, and swing his two-handed sword through. And now he had to strike both the approaching iron stealth and the enemy before his eyes.

The iron chunks crossed with each other. The resulting sound was closer to a scrape rather than a crash.

And then, the wind blew through the mass beside his body.

…. A long moment had passed.

The thin, slender body looked once again as if it were a dead tree.

“—ll him!…?”

“…. Splen, did.”

Drug-stained fresh blood flew to the untroubled merchant’s face as he finally finished his speech.

Molto’s body, which had been cut off slantwise from his left shoulder to his right flank, split into two and then flew off elsewhere.

There was a sound of an impact.

The remnants of the katana wielder which flew off hit a magic-powered street light. The post pierced him, his body sunk as together they turned into a tasteless objet d’art.

“This outer road… was not the right path… huh…”

As the lamp’s magical light flickered and disappeared, Molto’s eyes too, were closed.

At the same time, the part from the chest down which still stood crumbled as if its strings were cut.

The dumbfounded merchant’s gang finally began to show their dismay.

“Eh…..? Ah….?”

“Mo, Molto…?”

Due passed through the merchant and his surrounding henchmen, and crouched beside Molto, who had breathed his last in the darkness. His dead face was tranquil. He remained a swordsman until the very end, and he was an opponent he recognised until he met his death, and as he embraced his flood of emotions, he passed away just like that.

“… You were such a fool.”

A trembling whisper leaked out. He embraced the wrong kind of satisfaction and selfishly kicked the bucket. That was the true nature of the katana wielder’s death.

‘Right path’, he said? If this was about going off one’s path, then compared to him Due was way out. His muscles had been rebuilt, his skeleton reinforced, his neural network reconstructed, even his brain tissue had been tampered with. Molto, who did one drug only, was much closer to this ‘right path’.

The high he got from the forbidden medicine at the end of the day was like a far-off pandemonium inside his clear mirror. After all, until the end, the swordsman’s eyes remain clouded as he passed.

TL Note: The “clear mirror” here is actually a kendo concept, named meikyo. I don’t think there’s an equivalent concept in English, but here you go if you want to know more.

“HIIIIIIIIIIHHH….!?”

Thud, the merchant fell butt-first. Probably he didn’t think that he was about to be killed with a single slash from the opponent whose prized possession he had casually—- though, with enough intent to kill—- incited.

In his distress, something warm soiled the front of his trousers.

“Ru, run!”

“But, the boss—“

“You imbecile! Being alive is more important!”

The henchmen who surrounded the man escaped, and the fat middle-aged merchant was left alone.

….. It felt stupid. This time, it was almost like then when he slaughtered the bandits. The other party started a fight without thinking, he killed some, and then he’d feel his hand being lazy as he grew tired of his gained power.

How many times must this repeat?

“H, help…”

With a tone begging for mercy, the pig cried.

“Mo… money, I’ll give you as much as you want…”

“Don’t need it.”

He was just paying back the sparks that was sent down to him. Although he didn’t hesitate when he had to kill the escaping bandits, here he wasn’t ready to cross the line yet.

“Please don’t kill meee!”

“Ain’t gonna kill you either.”

‘This two-handed sword is not a tool for pointless murder’.

‘………… Then, what is it for?’

To the anguish in that question, a click of tongue leaked.

“…. Run along then. Jog on before I change my mind and do away with you.”

“HII, HIIIIIIIIIIH!”

While his wet trousers would still make it hard for him to walk, the merchant aimlessly ran away. It was a disgraceful sight. Both for himself and Due.

“You, what kind of face you’re making there?

The dark elf asked. Bleeding from her voice were bewilderment and pity. Was it because she didn’t know what was in the mind of her temporary master who bought him, or was it because she understood that something was bothering him?

But that particularly was a trifling conjecture.

The woman carried on,

“You have that kind of sword skill, and though I loathe it, you are wealthy enough to redeem me.”

“…………………”

“So why is your face so empty?”

Because, everything of it were just borrowed——

Instead of pouring out his true thoughts, he decided to confess another thing.

He silently embraced her.

And for some reason, the woman, who could even resist the magic of her collar, hesitantly accepted it.

—————————————————————————————————-

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“And so, on top of you being forced to return much later than planned, you have spent a large portion of the budget on the dark elf.”

I paused my hand, which was approving some documents, and gazed Due’s way.

As for him, he’s scratching his head.

“I really feel bad though, Milord.”

And he said that.

He seems to be reflecting. Though whether he can be forgiven or not, that is a different matter entirely.  No, I’m not the one who isn’t forgiving him.

“Sheesh, just what are you doing? You.”

Uni is so angry to the point that her anger could strain the air. Her expression doesn’t change as usual. But even I, as her master, can feel a cold feeling in my spine. She’s not showing it, but as a reaction to what Due bought, it seems that she’s strongly feeling that this matter cannot be forgiven as it is.

“Uni.”

“…. My apologies, Master.”

She apologised for leaking that malicious bloodlust and took a step backwards. Most likely, she’s still angry. Let’s prescribe something for it later.

“Well, this time I’m partly at fault too. I did carelessly leave too much things at your discretion. And the budget had also been excessive.”

Had I done otherwise, there was no way for him to buy a dark elf, scar or no scar. I handed over a giant amount of the hidden money enclosed by the frontier’s deputies with sloppy bookkeeping. That was the indirect cause of this issue. It’s true that it was Due who mainly did it, but if you were to blame someone for their carelessness, then I wouldn’t be able to escape the censure.

“Besides, we’ve unexpectedly gotten ourselves a precious dark elf. So let’s just be careful regarding this matter from now on.”

“… Is it really fine?”

“You see, I did issue a fuzzy order like ‘go ahead and splurge on slaves’, right. I didn’t let him know how much I needed until their number meets my requirement. I also allowed him to buy a woman. Though I never thought he’d buy a woman this flashy and expensive.”

And that means, the root of the cause is the mistake in my order set-up.

“If that is the case, when Master was making that mistake, I was also at fault as I did not rectify you. I see, it seems that I am in no position to blame him.”

That apparently was Uni’s way to forgive him while maintaining her integrity. I know it’s the result of my education, but she sure is serious to a fault.

“Alright. Then, let’s wrap this matter up here.”

“… I’m really sorry, okay.”

Due laudably lowers his head. Somehow he seems more down in the dumps than ever. As I think about that, I gazed at the dark elf that he bought.

Could it be that he was moved by his emotion? Well, he bought this slave with such a large sum, he must’ve thought of it to some degree. Even so, to pour the whole budget for a wounded slave, I don’t think anyone else would’ve done that.

For some reason the dark elf is staring at Uni, of whom is standing by behind my chair.

“… Woman. Are you really human?”

And then she made something rude to say. Well, in terms of treatment, she’s my “masterpiece” of a tool, though.

“Biologically, I am judged to be so. The Gallerien Magic Academy certified it.”

“So, she’s human, but she’s not really one. Even though she’s supressing her magic, this amount is just… Just in what way and how far did you tamper with her?”

The dark elf’s eyes are filled with suspicion and dread.
Uni accepted that stare without shaking one bit.

Though she said that, compared to Due I have yet to tamper with Uni that much.

“It’s because she, as a raw material, was good. With continuous medication and effective training, the result is, well, she made it this far.”

“Everything is due to Master’s guidance.”

“… Do your puppet play somewhere else. You’re making me sick.”

Even if she told us to do that elsewhere, I find it a bit troubling. Even though here is just a temporary residence until my new home is made, this is still my manor.

In that insecure atmosphere, Due interjected without waiting.

“Quiet.”

“Why are you stopping me? No, why are you obeying a man like this in the first place? With that ability of yours, there’s no reason for you to be a piece of this lowlife of a noble—“

“Be quiet, I told you!”

It was as if he was screaming.

‘With that ability of yours’, huh. Thinking about the root of that power, those words might be hard on Due.

“Well, well, let’s not quarrel here. Surely, everyone will be able to get along, yes?”

“Who would get along with someone like—!“

“Can you do it?”

The dark elf saw Due as if she couldn’t believe what he had muttered.

They’ve been together only for a few days, but it seems that they’ve developed quite the close relationship.

Rest assured. I’ll make sure to keep it so you’ll always be together.

“It’ll be the first time for me to deal with a living dark elf. Though, I’ve seen some samples of long-lived species.”

When Uni was an adventurer, she sometimes would took down elves who were in the other party. I had the chance to touch a cleaner form of them under the academy. Professor Graumann had given me a variety of valuable experiences when I was under him.

“I’m familiar with elves, well, their body structure is not so different than one of a human’s. In all likelihood, I can do something even with a dark elf.”

“Are you going to do only that?”

“Ahahahahahahaha! Do you think I’m just going to dissect her? Unfortunately, a long-lived demi-human can’t help me approach my goal of immortality. First of all, the mechanism of their longevity is——- Oh well, let’s just end it there. The important thing is, what I am going to do with this rare body.”

“STOP! YOU BASTARDS, WHAT ARE YOU—“

“Hold her down, Due.”

“…. Yeah, got it.”

Due followed my order and gently restrained her.

On her face, with her only remaining eyes wide open, I can see the embodiment of the very word of despair.

“… Hey, you’re joking, right?”

“Too bad, we’re for real…. By the way, you, I forgot to ask you an important question.”

In a trembling voice, I ask the woman whose hands were still restrained,

“You, what is your name?”

“I, I’ll never tell you my name!”

“Ah, that so.”

Her answer was that of a refusal.

I did expect her to say that, but well, can’t be helped. I’m not that interested anyway.

“Well, no matter. I’ll just think an appropriate new name for you.”

—————————————————————————————————————–

“— Name.”

A night in Canales. As she wrapped her sweat-laden body with a sheet, she said so.

“Ah? What was that.”

“It’s my name. Have you been listening?”

Nope, the man answered.

On a narrow bed of a cheap hotel, while holding a pillow, they were cuddling up. He couldn’t have missed the words that were whispered to his ears.

“What has gotten into you?  Just before, you said you would never mention your name to an ape.”

“What? It was just simply a whim.”

As she said so, the woman smiled lightly.

It looked like a mirage in the desert, it was a faint smile that would disappear should one decided to approach.

“It’s just a sudden thought. I feel like no one will call me with my name ever again.”

“………………”

“Thinking that not one person would remember it, feels a little lonely. So at the very least, I want someone to know.”

The man drew his breath at her words.

The innumerable wounds engraved on the woman’s body were a testament of the severity of affliction that had befallen into her.

A battle that wounded a rare existence like her that far—— considering so, perhaps her clan no longer existed.

The woman, as if to protect herself from an unfamiliar pain, turned her body sideways.

“As expected, it was just a delusion… I won’t say it a second time.”

“I won’t hear it a second time.”

The man, as he leans on his arm pillow, gazed upwards.

“Because if you say it the second time, I won’t be able to forget it.”

It was an oath that was heard only by the moon outside their window.

——- True to those words, the woman’s name would remain only in the man’s chest.

Ouroboros Records – Chapter 8 – Oubeniel, the Invader

Next chapter might be a little delayed.

Enjoy

qdiqmidmqim  fwe,fowmo,  fweifwimfimwef qwp,pqdpq,wd, fasasa f wnfownfownefwo o bronv3nf02f  fw0e f0w j0fw8neufnmasmd  d qwdqwdm-qwdoief0miifmi0mfwmef0w0q0mdqm virve8r0femfwm0qdp,pasl,dp,pfekfpr  asoaodmomfmfome roomqomdsma qeppaspd

TL: Sychev

Chapter VIII – Oubeniel, the Invader

The time I spent traveling with a carriage took longer that I had initially thought.

Unlike modern cars, its source of power is a living thing. If its source of power gets tired, then it’d have to eat fodder. Well, since I am me, I can actually alter my horse to improve its speed, horsepower and endurance. But publicly possessing an animal with abnormal ability has the risk of me being suspected of  ‘unlawful possession of magical beasts’. Basically, when it comes to magical beasts, such as unicorns —– I don’t know how they tell them apart from normal monsters though—- , one can’t simply possess them without the consent of the royal family.

However, it was because of that long travel duration that I was able to carefully readjust M-03 who went haywire due to an unexpected incident, so I suppose it was a blessing in disguise. Currently, she’s in the recovery phase and it’ll take some moments for her until she can work like the other slaves. Later, after I open another lab in my land, I’ll have to do a thorough examination on her again.

While thinking deeply about such matter, I look at the outside views from the window of the carriage. We have finally entered the Viscounty of Marlin, our destination. As far as I can see there’s only weary peasants with their desolate fields. Are we really in the “Land of Fine Arts and Black Earth, Arquell”?

In addition, apparently monster subjugation has gone into a halt around this area. Uni and Due had to work not quite a few times on the way here.

I saw this coming, but to think he’d push me a land this horrible…

“Milord. That older brother of yours sure hates you…”

“Seems like it. In order to harass his little brother, he gave me these farmers who were neglected by their lord, it’s unbearable, don’t you think?”

Totally, Due said as he shrugs. He’s the only person in my carriage for now. Usually Uni is the one who would never leave my side.

– Knock.

There was a sound from the roof of the carriage, but when Due unconsciously reaches for his two-handed sword…

– Knock, knock-knock, knock.

I heard a peculiar rhythmic knocking from above.

It was a predetermined cue.

While I raise my hand to restrain Due, I called up towards to the carriage’s roof.

TL Note: He raised his hand to signify that it’s safe, if you didn’t catch the drift.

“Welcome back, Uni”

And then she opened the moving carriage’s door and went inside.

I’ve told Uni to go on ahead to collect some information. She does have some ranger skills for her investigative quests. Something like investigating idle petty officials should be easy peasy.

“I have returned, Master. As expected, the governance in this place seems to be blatantly flawed.”

She presented me a document regarding local deputy houses that divided the rule of this viscounty into three. Of course, the document that Uni brought is the copy instead of the original.

“Thank you for your hard work. Let me see… Ugh, this is just terrible. Illegal control of grain distributions and embezzlement of irrigation expenditures? Leaving bribes for water rights disputes aside….. they also bribe the kingdom’s auditors in order to misrepresent the audit on them. The tax rate is ninety percent. Oi, oi, doesn’t that mean the folks below will always be in a state of famine?”

TL Note: The original words used as a tax rate was “九公一民”, which means “nine for the lord, one for the people”. It’s based on a system from the feudal times (or at least, in feudal Japan) when the lord of the land would take the farmers’ harvest by setting up a portion to divide them as tax (they didn’t know percentage back then). I put 90% there to simplify things.

“Many farmers seems to have financed their livelihoods by selling their family members as slaves.”

TL Note: The original just said that they were selling slaves, it was strongly implied that they were selling their own family members as recounted in the previous chapter. Though it’s also possible that they sold themselves too.

“So that means, I might have had some ‘guests’ from here too? I wonder if this is what they call, ‘punitive justice’?”

“… You, how come did you find this much in less than a day?”

“That’s because I’m a maid. Mansion infiltration is our specialty.”

“That’s, not quite normal though?”

And so my opuses made merry about miscellaneous things. I didn’t participate in their conversation as I was busy thinking of things to do with this devastated territory. In any case, I’ve decided my first move.

—————————————————————————————————————————————-

qdiqmidmqim  fwe,fowmo,  fweifwimfimwef qwp,pqdpq,wd, fasasa f wnfownfownefwo o bronv3nf02f  fw0e f0w j0fw8neufnmasmd  d qwdqwdm-qwdoief0miifmi0mfwmef0w0q0mdqm virve8r0femfwm0qdp,pasl,dp,pfekfpr  asoaodmomfmfome roomqomdsma qeppaspd

“Am I glad to finally see you, new Viscount-sama!”

The man who seems to be the deputy that reigns the town from its government building extended his hands widely to express his welcome to me. Behind him are two men that seems to be the other deputies. They are making this obsequious, sycophantic smile at me, but there’s also this feeling of jealousy towards the first man oozing out from them. Probably they feel that the first man has stolen a march on them as he gets to host me at this time.

Perhaps to prick the men behind him, and moreover, as he reminds himself of his sense of superiority, the man was unusually in high spirits.

“It was a long journey for you, and I daresay you must be tired! Today, I have prepared a bath and other things for you! Well, please come to our humble abode! It does not compare with my lord’s mansion back in the capital, but please make yourself at home.”

His disposition was truly unctuous. Even though now that I’m posted here and consequently he can no longer freely do things he had been doing around this place up until now, I see he’s still quite the sly racoon dog. Most likely, he’s scheming to undermine me by playing things nicely to win my favour, in turn, that would get him appointed as my right-hand man. But against his move, I—-

TL Note: The original words used in exchange of “undermine” was “骨抜きにして”, which means, figuratively, “to pull someone’s backbone/teeth out”. I’m not sure if there’s an equal idiom in English, but looks like the closest word there is is “to undermine”, credits to AW in the comments section for this.

“Ah– right. Me, I’m not that used to traveling. And frankly I am exhausted. There’s a bath ready for me, you say? That sounds good. Let us go, then.”

I’ll take him on. Ugh, all that shaking for days in the carriage has been rough for me. I’ve improved the carriages of the Oubeniel house by installing suspensions on them, but as expected, if I were to compare the carriage’s seat with that of cars or trains in my previous world, then it wasn’t at all a comfortable ride.

The deputy’s eyes bulged in a snap as I appear to be even more dimwitted that he had initially thought.

“…. Is that so, indeed? Then let me guide my lord to our bath right away! Please take my hand!”

“Eeh, is it okay? Sorry about this then, feels like I’m imposing on you.”

“No, no, not at all. Since the Count expects me to serve the new lord with my whole heart in all sincerity as well!”

“Hm? My brother expects that? You see, I hate that man. He was always grumbling and complaining. Have you heard of this story before? There was this once, during a meal, he was being all noisy just because I asked which to take first between a fork and a knife.”

“Yes, yes! We will serve you with all sincerity because you’re our new lord, that’s why!”

Never thought that flattery could be this crafty. Still, this aggressiveness. Even if he was born in my previous world, his skills as a sales can get this man go to places. When it comes to his management skills, though, he’s definitely not a person I would want in the managerial positions.

While minding those matters, I check the people around me. The deputy’s officials aren’t even trying to hide their scorn at me, even way before I show them that incompetent noble brat act. And with a few retainers——- that said, most of them are slaves save for one—-, I followed along, as I make this soon-in-the-twenties face as bratty and as che sera sera as it can.

These officials have also been gazing lustfully at the maids, especially Uni. There are also some frightened face as these bunch glare at Due, who evidently has a rough appearance, probably confused whether he’s an aide or a brigand. While grinning, he responds by making a provocative face.

As I’ve come to learn how the people on the top thinks and now that I’ve seen the attitude of the people below them, then apparently this is just like an enemy territory. To think that I have to manage this fief for my first time, only reputable officials and ministers can successfully turn things around here.

Well, it doesn’t matter. Thanks to that, I can do things thoroughly without being easy on them.

———————————————————————————————————————————-

The bath in the deputy’s manor, which will be my temporary residence at this time, has quite the luxurious build. The bathtub is amply wide, wide enough for three adults to enter together while still giving them room to stretch their limbs. Most likely- no, most definitely, multiple people would enter this bath together to have various “fun”. It seems that it’s safe to assume that these people have been living in extravagance. Thanks to that though, I can now take it slowly for the time being.

“Is the bath temperature to your liking, Master?”

Uni’s voice echoes in the stone bathroom. Of course, this was not the typical greeting in a peculiar bathhouse where she’d wait for me in her birthday suit. Uni is currently guarding the bathroom’s entrance. For the timid me who would wear a completely protective dress whenever I go out, bathing time is my most defenseless moment as I remove all my clothing when I enter the bath. If I were to ask a certain legendary dual-wielding swordsman, he’d tell me not to take a bath, but I was originally a Japanese who lived in the 21st century. Even if I don’t drink or smoke now, entering the bath is the only thing I can’t give up. Therefore,  to guard in the vicinity so I can take my bath leisurely like this is one of Uni’s daily job.

TL Note: might be a reference to Miyamoto Musashi, but I could be wrong.

“Ah… well, it’s lukewarm, but it’s not unbearable, since I’ll get out before dinnertime, it’s not a problem.”

“If it pleases you, should I warm the bath more?”

“It’s fine. Being like this once in awhile has its own charms too. More importantly, please focus more on your guard duty.”

“Yes, Mast—”

Abruptly, Uni’s reply was interrupted. I wonder what happened. She was trained as a maid and has been one since she was six and thus I don’t think she would intentionally do something that’s akin to a blunder like that. That means…

“M-03 to Chief Maid. There is a figure presently approaching the bath. Appears to be a woman, apparent age is mid-twenties to early-thirties. Very lightly dressed. No weapons nor magical powers detected from the individual. Chance of concealing such items is also minimal, over.”

From Uni’s maid uniform’s pocket, I heard a muffled voice. It’s from an apparel used for communication purposes. Think of it as a magical gimmick that works like transceiver. I see, apparently she had already sensed that someone was coming over, even before the report.

“Chief Maid to M-02. We will handle the subject in your report from here, continue to watch over the surroundings. Over.”

“I don’t think it’s an assassin… Then, in that case, Uni—-”

“Yes. Will you be using the ‘perfume’?”

Apparently she already understood my intentions, even before I have the chance to finish my sentence. Her being my assistant for all these long years sure wasn’t just for show.

“Right, it’s in—”

“The back pocket of master’s trousers, left side, is not it? I found it.”

“Excuse me”, Uni says as she throws the retrieved vial over. It’s an emergency, so there’s no time for her to give the vial by hand. I open the vial’s lid and put it on a suitable place. It has a densely sweet aroma, but it’s a sickly scent. My preparation is complete.

Soon after, there was a knock on the door of the dressing room leading to the bath.

“… May I know who you are?”

“My master ordered me to take care of the new lord. I have come to scrub the dirt and the likes from him.”

Send a woman like this towards the weak-willed noble son. This truly is one of the most standard strategies ever.

“The master prefers to bathe alone.”

“And leave a lady just next to him aside?”

“… Please wait for a moment. I will take your message to him.”

As if I didn’t hear their exchange, I let out a small whistle. I say Uni is quite the actress too. She left her to sweat in suspense.

“Master, you have a guest. She said she was here to take care of your bath.”

“Yes, got it, got it. Tell her that she may enter. Receiving her is the polite thing to do, isn’t it?

“Certainly. Master has granted you his permission, please enter.”

As she opens the bathroom door, it came down to me that it appears that she had been catching her breath. Was it due to surprise because she saw Uni was carrying a sword, or was there any other elements at play? However, even if she hesitated, it was just for a moment, as now before my eyes a woman with troubled look stands.

“Good evening, new lord-sama.”

With my eyes that’s a bit out of it, I observe her. Her skin colour is good, and there’s no speck of dirt on her. In a backwater countryside like this, there’s only a few, if any, shops that hold women that can satisfy the nobility. So, perhaps she’s kept by the master of this house. Did he turn his own woman, or did she come sneakingly by her own volition to snuggle up against the new lord? If it’s the former then it’s just his character, but if it’s the latter, I’d say in addition to his character he apparently doesn’t keep a good eye on his surroundings.

TL note: The original word for “dirt” is “旅塵“, which means dirt/dust that’d stick on you if you travel outside. This inferred that the woman had been inside the manor all along.

Did she perceive my gaze? She seems to be somewhat smiling.

“Perhaps you’ve already heard me before, but I’m going to say it again anyway, I’m here to wash your back…… Back in the royal capital, have you had the pleasure before?”

“Umm, not really, no. I find being preoccupied with my own hobby to be more enjoyable.”

“Oh, that’s no good. You’re a noble, so your body must experience various plays, especially that one between men and women, okay?”

She presses her body against me as she talks. Boldness sure is a good thing. Though I’m a bit anxious that she’s not in my sight, I know that Uni is just around the corner. Or perhaps I’ve stayed too long in the bath and I’m losing my attentiveness?

“Do you really mind?”

“… For now, I just want to know you a little bit closer.”

“If that’s the case then…”

A white hand takes my hand, and before it draws my hand to her chest,

“Please have this first. My homemade perfume.”

Originally, the perfume has to be diluted with water, but I just went ahead and thrust it at her tip of the nose without reservation. The bathroom is damp, so unless I do this I wouldn’t know the extent of its effect.

The smell, which I supposedly had developed a resistance to and still managed to get me a bit, swept away the light of consciousness from the woman’s eyes.

——————————————————————————————————————————————–

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The man who offered lodging to Tullius Oubeniel, one of the three deputies, was lying in his bedroom as he immersed himself in contentment. After witnessing Tullius’ behavior at his welcome dinner table, it became apparent to his eyes that Tullius is helplessly average. He tried to ask him in a roundabout way for just bit of his impressions after he saw the domain for himself, but as a response he only whined about the fact that he got kicked from the royal capital to the countryside. On top of that, even though he didn’t drink that much alcohol his face went all red, and the end result was he excused himself in the middle of the dinner.

In the letter from Oubeniel’s new family head, Linus, it was written that he was a devil who skewed his family, but what he probably meant was that he made a hole in their finances after spending a great deal of money on alchemy. Every now and then you’d find people who’d believe the tall-tale that lead can be turned into gold and people who’d exhaust up more gold coins than what they can get in their hands.

At this rate it’d be very easy to coax Tullius to let him continue to do as he pleases.

The man laughed a shadowy laugh.

“What’s on your mind?”

Asked his mistress mischievously to pull his thoughts back to reality.

“Isn’t it obvious? I’m thinking about what to do next.”

“You mean, what would you do about that boy?”

“Yeah… how did things go from your side?”

As he tried to draw the details from her, she laughed in a contemptuous way.

“No good. He didn’t satisfy me at all, that boy. For a boy his age, he sure was too indifferent.”

“And because of that, now you’re snuggling on me?”

“Yes, he was ridiculously curt. He also went as far as giving me this—”

She said as she rubbed her body. There was a scent of flower he had no memory of.

“… Perfume?”

“Probably something he got in the royal capital. Really, I don’t understand… I wonder if he felt that countryside women would be obsessed with things that’s popular in the capital…”

The man laughed as the woman complained. Certainly, the scent was a little too strong. It probably wasn’t to her liking.

That said, however, despite of him being supposedly indifferent, his gift was a passionate one. When it comes to relationship between men and women, there is a type of people who are indifferent when it comes to sexual pleasures, but are actually interested in their minds, it’s likely that the young fellow is one of those people.

If that’s the case, even if he gets the big clue that I’m trying to coax him, it’d be the same. Men will learn what stimulates them along with pleasure. I’ll save him the trouble by taking him to the bed and let him embrace women.

“Ahn, what are you trying to do?”

“Didn’t you say you didn’t get to be satisfied a while back?”

“What? Even though you just turned me to another man.”

“It’s a wile to keep my rights in this place. Sorry.”

“No~pe, I don’t forgive you. Let’s have a bargain instead.”

So demanded the woman while graciously smiling. This lady sure is a greedy one. Well, what is it that you want? The man thought so as he sunk his head on her ample bosom.

“Mmn, ahn… hey, you’ll listen to my request, right?”

The scent of flower was dizzying.

…. Sweet.

The scent smelt like a heavenly wine. All of his thoughts were melting.

“Yeah… I’m listening…”

Everything was fading away. The fair skin in front of his eyes, other that that, nothing else mattered.

“You’ll really listen?”

“Yeah…”

“Really, really?”

“Told you that already…”

“Anything?”

“Of course…”

He didn’t even know what he was talking about.

He seemed to hear the words along the lines of, anything, really.

The man was bewildered. Really, what was it about this woman that enticed him so? Certainly, her looks was excellent, and her skills weren’t so bad. But that was about it. In the nightlife world, you’d be able to find at least one woman of this level in every shop. Besides, if she wasn’t a woman of that level she wouldn’t be a kept woman of some deputy in a backwater territory.

But that question eventually faded and vanished too. What remained was the dubious desire that melted him.

”Quick, ly…. I’ll hear it out… anything… I’ll give… anything…”

The woman laughed at his reply.

It was a laugh unfitting of her, one that was like a baby’s. And as if her eyes were covered by a film, there was no light that came out of it. The light of one’s will, there was none.

“If that’s so…”

“Shall I have your brain tissue, then?”

A boyish voice took over and continued the woman’s words.

——————————————————————————————————————————-

What to say, apparently this is easier than I initially thought.

“It seems that the perfume took into effect very quickly, but I wonder if the concentration was a bit too high…. I hope it won’t leave any weird aftereffects later.”

“I don’t think that’ll be a problem. We won’t be using their talents anyway.”

Uni and I talked as we looked down on the unflattering appearance of the hugging pair. The scent of the homemade perfume hangs thickly within the room. Just like what I used on the high court investigator a while ago, it is a strange scent that makes one easier to manipulate once they smell it. Compared to the earlier version, however, this one works quicker, but correspondingly, its side effects is also stronger.

Last time, I could prepare it in my room in advance, and even if I’d end up being suspected by the kingdom’s investigation agency later, I can always use the weaker one, but, this side was the one breaking in and I suddenly had an uninvited visitor back in the bath, so I had to resort to the emergency measure.

“Excuse me. M-01, reporting to the master. Set up for temporary facilities for emergency surgery procedure in the halls have been completed. In addition, Opus-02 and the B-series have successfully taken control of the guard posts. It may be concluded that there is no problem in the advancements of Phase 1.”

“Well done. Alright then, it’ll be an all-nighter today too. We’ll take over the centre of this manor this very night. You all too, do your best, okay?”

I generously nod in approval to the maid who gave me the report.

“Yes, Master. Us slaves swear to work ever harder in zeal.”

The maid gave me a bow and left. Since this is a temporary facility, I won’t be able to make elaborate adjustments like that of the mass-produced type, but since this will be a simple lobotomy operation, then there’s no problem. As Uni said, after witnessing the state of the territory for myself, they do seem to be quite incompetent, so… even if I make all of them to standby for my instructions—— like standby dolls?—–, I don’t think there’d be any changes. Rather, I suppose the state of the fief’s population as a whole will improve as they can no longer exert their tyranny on them.

“Okay, I can’t keep taking my time forever. There’s a lot of things I have to do, so let’s just do this quickly, Uni.”

“Yes, Master.”

Answered Uni as she prepares to inject anesthetics into the deputy and his lover. She took away their resistance, and as if she were carrying a small thing, she lifted both of them together with each of her hands. Seeing Uni carrying those two as if they were light with that kind of slender body was pretty surreal.

——————————————————————————————————————————-

Revamps on my vassals were completed in less than a week. The other two deputies also immediately responded after I asked them for their hospitality, and in the end they also swore their loyalty the same way as the first deputy did. Though I was prepared for a little more trouble or incident along the way, presently, no such problems happened.

At most, due to the sluggish movement of the guards, the ability to mediate the commoners’ conflicts declined and security around the area, which had been low in the first place, suffered even more.

Presently for us, we are governing the territory and proceeding with the preparations of the new lab in parallel, and as busy as I am, during this time I have to properly readjust M-03 who broke around this time.

Then, at last all the general preparations have been completed today.

“…..  Ah, I’m tired. To do jobs other than research, isn’t this my first time doing so after I was born in this world, I wonder?”

In the former manor of the deputy’s basement that was refurnished as a lab, I stretched myself as I sit slovenly on my chair, as expected it’ll surely be good if my facilities are in place. Even when I do the same job, there’s a remarkable difference in efficiency.

“Yea, yea. I’m also overworked, but it’s worthwhile so…”

So grumbled Due.

At that time he let go of an inferior material when we left the royal capital, but he  redeemed himself by collecting the monsters which happened to infest the area that were attacking him to some extent . He, a battle-type “masterpiece”, isn’t suited for this line of work which I’m currently putting my hands on so he’s doing his best in his area of aptitude instead. If he fights, he’d be able to familiarise himself with his new body which was adjusted for battle, thus it’s supposed to be a pleasing thing for him.

And then Uni comes with some documents,

“I’m very sorry to bring this while you’re being tired. Petitions have been sent here from all over the territory. Arbitration of water rights, resumption of disrupted irrigation works, measures against neglected dungeon, and et cetera.”

“Ugh….”

Just when I thought one work was over, here it comes. When will it be until I can continue with my research, I wonder? Well, my older brother sent me here for that very purpose of keeping me away from my research. Perhaps what’s going on here is just as he wished for. Except that I seized those old raccoons within a week.

“Measures against the dungeon? I thought there was a lot of stray monsters, but as it turns out, it was because the dungeon has been overflowing? Then, request to the adventurer’s guild—”

“There’s no reason for the former deputies to not issue a request, is there? That said, is there even a guild here?”

“There is only one adventurer’s guild in this territory, since the level of requests is low and the number of cases is not that much, so our much-needed adventurers don’t even come here.”

That is just horrible.

“Thought so… The monsters around here might be a lot when it comes to their numbers, but their level is low. That means their drops will also be low in quality, and apparently that doesn’t look appetising at all for D-ranked adventurers and beyond. Having said that, those fledgling low-ranked adventurers—”

“They wouldn’t have the funds to come to this remote place, so they won’t come in the first place… Well, let’s save what to do with the dungeons for later. It’s not like I have no idea about it. But let’s start from treatments for agriculture-related matters.”

However, I don’t have the right kind of wisdom in me. I’m neither a politician nor a bureaucrat. I’m a researcher. Even if you ask Einstein, Gauss, or Neumann to deal with home affairs, it’s not possible for them to make effective arrangements. Even in the world of simulation games, intelligence (INT) and politics (POL) are usually different abilities.

So, I can only do things to the extent what an amateur in politics can do. Fortunately, the factions of this Viscounty of Marlin is now unified under me. There’s none of this complex thing such as faction this and faction that. And more than any other territory, the Lord of Marlin can actually do whatever he wants. Though I must be extra careful from meddling too much in a weird way and make a mess out of it.

“Let’s declare a tax cut for the time being, the current tax rate is just too terrible, as for the water rights, let’s wait for later investigations.”

“Oh, the basics.”

“How should the merchants be dealt with? It seems that they had a shady relationship with the deputies in regard of the illegal distribution of the grains.”

“Ah, yes, there’s also that, huh…? Just right, let’s take them into our fold and sell them our potions. I happen to be familiar with herbs that can grow even on a rough land like this.”

This is totally troublesome. It’d be a mistake to brainwash people like these. If their dealing partners abruptly change in behavior, there is the risk that the other merchants would come to distrust us. Well, I’ll just bait them with a more interesting deals to silence them. At the very worst, when it comes to things that can be done about them, there’s no other measures available.

“But even if we manage to transact with people that frequents the royal capital, there’s not enough manpower in the industrial sector of this territory. I’d like to propose an increase in the mass-produced type slaves.”

“Indeed. Due, you’re the least standing out when it comes to buying slaves. Please go with B-01 and B-02. Fortunately, we have enough budget thanks to these assets those guys have saved up. Go ahead and splurge on it as you wish.”

Truly, this is one classic case of “turning misfortune into fortune”. They had been hoarding wealth for some time now, and on top of it, they won’t be paid salary in the future. And more than that, they won’t raise a labour dispute. Truly a coveted talents for your typical black company. Their abilities are fine as well, though such have been severely reduced due to their readjustments.

“Yea, yea. Got it, got it. So, it’ll be fine for me to return to the royal capital?”

“No, if you do that ani-ue will take notice of my movements. Besides, if you cross the border from here, Canales is much closer. It’s the largest slave-trading city in the continent. Since the population parameter for sale is rather large, you should be able buy products with the normal quality at a cheaper price.”

As I give him the name of the place, Due lets out a whistle.

Commercial Capital Canales. A free city independent from the kingdom. It’s a merchant’s city where you can get ahold of anything if you have the money. The headquarters of the adventurer’s guild is also there. Due was an adventurer originally. I don’t know if he’s been there, but it’s surely a place that’d rouse his interest.

“If you’re so inclined, you may make arrangements for your equipment as well. I will leave your new armour at your discretion as well, since it’s too early for me to earnestly get into research.”

“Quite the lavish budget… my mouth is watering…”

“… Yes, and also.”

I’ll give him another advice while he’s still in high spirits.

“Is there anything else?”

“It’s not really a big deal. It’s just, if you want to buy a woman then I won’t stop you, however, if you bring her here, that means you won’t mind if I tinker with her, that’s all I wanted to say.”

It’s actually important. If my secrets leak out, then I’d be in trouble. Here I am planning to start an experiment on a larger scale than ever, and I will not let other person to roam about in this place freely.

As expected, Due seems to flinch at that.

“…. Ro-ger”

Then he turned around and left.

As Uni saw that, she lets out a small sigh.

“How unsophisticated. It seems that he still isn’t quite aware that he is Master’s tool.”

“Well, not even a month has passed, you see. He’ll eventually get used to it. More importantly–”

I look at the samples that were lined up on my working desk.

Recently, fiddling with people’s head is all what I do. And while I’m used to it, I must say that if that’s the only thing I do, it does actually make quite the depressing story.

Now, after a long while, I actually want to prepare for other tasks than that.

“— Since they went with the trouble of giving me a territory. For once, let’s do something befitting of a lord for a while.”