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.
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(
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!”
“75, I say!”
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?”
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!”
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.
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 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.
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!”
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’.
“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.
“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.
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.
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.
“…. 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.
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.
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.
“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?
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.”
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.
Another of em 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(
“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.
“…. 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.
“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.”
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.