Slave merchant and slave merchant – Part 1

Two weeks weren’t a very long time.
Elsa asked for the collaboration of the upper part’s guards, and thanks to Karin’s detailed information, they could plan a perfect assault to arrest the Amberg organization for hosting illegal gambles.
Then, one night, Takumi left Listina.
He used a secret passage that stretched underground to get outside of the city: the slums’ former drainage channel.
Since the water scooped from Verna’s lake flowed through it in the past, it was designed way broader and sturdier than the average channel. Even a wagon could fit in it, and it was paved with the same stones that connected the roads of Listina, so it wasn’t painful for the hoof of horses.
Nowadays, since the city was working to make the water flow into a new drainage channel, the former one was abandoned and used to transport goods in secret, since no water remained.

“Uff… they’re late!”

Complained Kunon, who sat on a rock while flailing her legs under the moonlight.

“Have some patience. They haven’t used Valeria’s route, and this is the only access to the underground pathway.”

For the past two weeks, Takumi investigated it.
He made sure that there weren’t other paths, secret doors or tunnels that lead outside.

“Elsa has already started the operation, so they should come soon.”

Takumi peered into the darkness lightened by starlight.
Then, Kunon’s ears twitched and she stood up, and he quietly imitated her.
A wagon covered by a cloth was approaching them from the shadows. After a few moments it started to slow down and its horses neighed.
The coachman was a fat man.
Seeing who was waiting for him, his lips curved into a wicked smile.

“What a surprise, Mister Takumi. What brings you here at this hour?”

“I came to bother you, naturally. Sorry, but you’re going to hand over your wagon and leave.”

“Heh… You actually sounded like a bandit, but they act in large numbers.”

The man glared at the two who were blocking his path.
There was no one other than them.
The guards were working in the slums, and Valeria’s members had other tasks to do elsewhere.

“Quality over quantity. Kunon alone is enough to seize the likes of you. By the way… you don’t really have time for small talks, right?”

“Yes, indeed. I must take care of an important deal.”

Takumi laughed loudly.

“Geiz, you don’t have a single slave with you right now, do you?”

The man’s smile vanished from his face.
On the other hand, the young slave merchant, expecting his reaction, smiled brightly before opening his mouth again.

“Our very existence is a pain to you, so you want to get rid of us to fully satisfy your grudge.”

He glanced at the wagon’s cloth.

“Maybe you’re hiding a bunch of mercenaries in there to kill us. Maybe your sponsors abandoned you like a dog?”

“What an imaginative brat you are.”

“I’m not imagining a thing. I know you pretty well.”

Takumi started to tap on his temple while speaking.

“A coward like you would never ride a wagon alone, since you know that you might be attacked by someone. You need to play it safe, and paying mercenaries to protect you would do the trick.”

His finger stopped and moved to point at the coachman.

“Here, I just explained your poor reasoning. At least I’m not afraid of being surrounded by a bunch of bandits, you coward.”

Takumi sneered at him.
Then, Geiz goggled his eyes and screamed.

“Kill them! Crush these bastards!”

The cloth that covered the wagon fluttered in the wind and the moonlight showed what was hiding underneath.
Kunon dashed toward Takumi, took him and jumped away.
The next instant, a huge pillar of fire ascended from that spot and cut through the night with a thunderous roar which kept reverberating in the night as its flames were fueled by oxygen.
It was a rare sight, but something like that was entirely possible in this world.

“You knew my intentions, huh? I already know that.”

While flames burned toward the sky, a smile spread on Geiz’s face.

“I knew that you would have approached me directly, so I got ready to kill you!”

Shadows emerged from the interior of the wagon.
They were all humanoids, but clearly none of them was human.
Demi-humans, and at least twenty of them.

“The Hound is a real pain. Normal humans can’t even scratch her, and demi-humans are too soft to harm others… that’s why I thoroughly trained them only for this moment.”

Their eyes shone with insanity, as if they were a bunch of starving beasts’.

“I see… but they look hastily made. You drugged them and rewrote their nature forcefully, huh?”

“I had access to lots of drugs since I became part of the major companies. Demi-humans are just a bunch of brainless beasts anyway. Isn’t it better to use them like this?”

Wearing a scornful smile, Geiz looked at them with contempt.
Seeing that, Takumi’s face twisted.

“…Jeez, that’s so like me. How vexing.”

He manipulated demi-humans with drugs and also brought several magic casters, who were still hiding in the wagon, with him.

“He even brought magic practitioners… seems like he really wants to kill us, right, Kunon?”

“Uuh… I don’t really get magic because no one usually fights casters…”

She let go of Takumi while glaring at the wagon.
Only nobles or people related to them could learn magic.
The Richtert family was particularly known for their powerful magic, and since they didn’t want their researches to be spread outside, they taught it only to their descendants.
Studying so diligently brought the various noble families to develop unique technology and acquire enough knowledge to manifest the true power of magic.
Richtert’s magic users were a privileged class, and one of them could wipe an entire army by itself. That’s why everyone hesitated to go against them.
Still, nobles were permitted to use magic only when strictly necessary.
The pillar of fire that was cast from the wagon was weaker than a Richtert’s caster’s, so they were probably hired from another country.

“What are you gonna do? If this is too hard, we can run.”

“Oh no, that’d be super boring.”

For Kunon, not even magic users were a threat.

“This is a rare chance, I should enjoy it to the fullest!”

Unable to keep a straight face, she smiled and giggled while unsheathing her two daggers.
The blades were jet-black and curved like a wolf’s claws.
As she held her falcatas, Kunon smiled innocently.1

“Well then… Show me what you can do, guys.”

Kunon’s smile was terrifying, but the demi-humans ignored it and attacked her from every direction.
Their physical abilities were far superior that of a human and the effects of the drugs amplified them even further, granting them a speed that exceeded even the average demi-human.
A wolf-man’s fangs, an ogre’s sturdy arms, a dragon-man’s and a bird-man’s claws swooped on her little body to tear it apart.
Still, she remained immobile.

“That’s no good, you have to think before attacking…”

She rotated her daggers smoothly, and with that, the four attackers fell on the ground like a bunch of puppets whose threads were severed.
She then made eye contact with the others while smiling cheerfully.

“Killing an enemy is hard, so you better think about what you do. How strong he is, where you should aim, striking it down with a single hit would be better than feinting… If you try to use only brute force, the enemy won’t even be scared of you.”

She was wearing her usual expression while spinning her weapons.

“There’s an abyss between someone who thinks and someone who doesn’t. Also, when you believe that someone is ‘invincible’, the abyss grows deeper.”

None of the fallen demi-humans had fatal wounds on them.
She simply incapacitated them using her combat techniques.
She made the wolf-men, who had a sharp olfaction, smell the poison that covered her blades the moment she unsheathed them.
She aimed for the ogres’ weak points with her fists to damage their internal organs and bypass their tough bodies.
She assaulted the dragon-men, who had sturdy scales protecting them, with enough power to harm them.
She hit the bird-men’s temples with the flat of her blades to mess with their sense of balance and let them crash on the ground, rendering their claws useless.
Once you know the enemy’s characteristics, it’s easy to find their weakness.
Kunon was thinking about it that very moment.
Whenever she talked or ate something, a part of her was analyzing how to strike her opponents down.

“Don’t worry, I won’t kill you. I’m a Hound, so my duty is to hunt and seize my prey.”

The proof of her words laid at her feet. None of those guys was dead. She just made sure they’d be powerless.
That reality was way more terrifying than thinking they were all slaughtered.
She then shifted her gaze to the magic users who were chanting a spell, and when another pillar of fire was about to raise from beneath her feet, she stomped with all of her might.
The ground broke under the blow with a loud crack, and the flames dispersed in a moment.

“Uhm… is that all…? Magic isn’t that fun…”

She pouted, deeply disappointed.
Normally, that magic would have burned any human to a crisp in a few seconds, but she suppressed it with sheer strength.
She didn’t only look like a monster…

“How boring. Let’s finish this.”

She was a monster.
The other demi-humans dashed past her in a panic and aimed at Takumi.

“Nice move! You used your brain, huh? Still, that’s no good.”

She anticipated them and started to knock them unconscious.
Taking advantage of those few moments, the casters started to chant a spell aimed at Takumi, but the Hound tossed her black blades toward their necks.

“Aiming only at Takumi is not fair~! I understand you’re afraid, but trying to escape me won’t help you!”

When she hit her targets, she pulled the threads fastened to her weapons back with a dissatisfied groan.
The casters weren’t listening to her anymore.
Their companions looked at them expecting their death, but their head wasn’t detached from their bodies, and neither was their windpipe severed.
They were trying to talk, but not a sound escaped their lips.

“Did you think I was going to kill you? I just cut your vocal cords.”

Her expression clouded slightly.
Doing something like that while fighting was almost impossible.
If the blade was to cut an inch deeper, they would’ve died for sure.
Still, she polished her abilities that much to make her foes think that she was unbeatable.

“Your career as casters is over… but I’m sure my master will find a workplace even for mutes like you.”

Beneath the veil of innocence of her voice, they could perceive her insanity.
It wasn’t a matter of killing or not. That wasn’t even a battle to begin with.
She was the embodiment of massacre itself.

“Let’s see… One, two, three… every demi-human fainted, so those in the wagon are the only ones left, right?”

Spinning her body, she showed them an inappropriate, bright smile.

“You have no chance, but… wanna try?”

She crushed their spirit. There wasn’t room for choice.
They surrendered. It wasn’t to protect their life alone, but also to maintain a bit of sanity.
They rose their hands while descending from the carriage and walked slowly toward Takumi and the Hound.

“Nice job, Kunon. You handled this perfectly.”

“It isn’t nice at all. You said this was hard, but it was just too easy. I’m sad now.”

“Well, I thought casters would have given you a hard time, but you’re really strong. You should be happy about that.”

“I’m not, you liar! I won’t listen to a word you say from now on!”

“I see. I guess you wouldn’t want to grab a bite after we go back home, then.”

“…Sorry, I take it back.”

A bitter smile formed on his face while she sagged her ears and tail, and the next moment, he started to pat her head.
Seeing him treat that relentless monster like that made Takumi look like a demon in the eyes of the casters.

“Listen, Kunon, someone from Valeria should come here in a bit, so I need you to keep an eye on these guys.”

“Yes sir! But are you going somewhere?”

She tilted her head puzzled, and he sighed deeply.

“I’ll chase that disgusting pig who fled as soon as you started to knock these guys down. Jeez, that fatso does the right moves only in these situations.”

“Then let me come…”

“You don’t need to. Just wait here, okay?”

He waved his hand slightly and headed toward the same direction of Geiz.
His figure disappeared in the night.

1 Kunon’s falcatas ( aren’t that big, as you can see from this picture.

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