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A world of slaves – Part 2

Several days later, another couple of slave merchants bought the children.
They put shackles on everyone and made them get on a covered wagon.

The cell where they stayed until now was small, but they tried to spend time peacefully.
Lilia taught them mathematic and how to write and read.

They teased Killfer due to his diligence and tried to split the little food given to them evenly among themselves…
But at least, they did all of it while smiling.

When they set foot on the wagon, they cried with choked voices.

They knew a slave’s life was harsh.
Normal people treated them like objects.
They were paid a few coins and their food rations were poor. They also worked relentlessly and when someone happened to stop, they were abandoned without problem.

The children in that wagon didn’t have a future.

Aaah… Every time it’s the same story, but deep down I feel somewhat sorry.”

Be quiet and stay alert, this time we have an elf. We only have to think about reaching Listina.”

Beyond the cloth, the coachman, who was older judging by his voice, was talking to a young man.
They were discussing about how they were going to sell the children to someone else, probably another slave merchant.

By the way, they gave us a little extra since there were more goods, but… It’s not like we earned much for these brats.”

Never refuse money. Also, even though they’re all skin and bone, sir Geiz will sell them all for sure.”

Yeah… I remember Geiz. When he was paid for another deal, the box was too small for all the money.”

…Listen, why don’t you do your job instead of talking nonsense?”

Okay! Look, this time I’ve made sure to prepare in advance. This box doesn’t have a key, so only a genius or Geiz himself could open it. Are you happy now?!”

The young man showed a box to his collaborator, who clicked his tongue under the moonlight.

Hide it in the usual place, moron. You really need to shut up.”

Eeh?! Why am I getting scolded?!”

Because you’re careless and always do whatever you want, like you just did with the key.”

But this way there’s no risk of losing it, isn’t it?!”

Their relaxed talk was the complete opposite compared to the way things were in the wagon.
Takumi observed them from it in a calm manner.

You really are weird.”

A voice reached him from below and he turned his face toward it.
The figures of Kunon and Karin were laying on the ground.

Karin, every time I try to talk to you, you ignore me. What, knowing that they’ll sell us suddenly makes you feel lonely?”

I ignore you because you always clown around.”

Jeez… are you aware that the others keep their distance because of your manners?”

Neither Lilia, Killfer nor any other child dared to approach them. Even now, Takumi was the only one brave enough to be near them.

Feel free to open your heart to me and have a talk to kill some time whenever you want.”

If I can gut you and sew your lips so that I can’t hear you talking with that obnoxious mouth of yours, count on it.”

I don’t want to make this wagon smell of blood. Also, where are you going to find needle and thread here? I think you should give up for now.”

Tsk… What a shame. If not for these shackles, I could kill you in no time.”

What?! Takumi is nice! He gives me bread! You can’t kill him!”

Kunon spoke up with a warm and cheerful voice as she squirmed in her place.
She seemed to have taken a liking to him, perhaps because he gave her food every day.

By the way, are elves stronger than humans?”

Why do you ask?”

I thought that if you were, freeing yourself from those shackles would be a piece of cake.”

That depends from person to person. Between the demi-humans there are… the
wolf-men, like Kunon, who are strong and skilled at fighting, or the dragon-men who are covered by armored scales. It would be easy for them.”

What…? Kunon is a wolf? I thought she was a fox given the color of her fur.”

Uff! I’m not a fox! I’m a wise and mighty wolf!”

She said puffing her chest pridefully, but Takumi paid no attention to her extremely dumb pose.

Basically, you’re part of the wise wolves? I wonder… if you are strong even among your own kind, why you didn’t get rid of your shackles?”

Because she would have done it if she could. Shackles for demi-humans are made of special metals, breaking them is not easy. If she were at full strength maybe she could do it, but… since the food is barely enough to keep us alive, it’s normal that she has no energy.”

Yeah… Thanks to Takumi’s bread I feel a little better, but I’m still hungry and can’t use my full strength…”

Karin fell silent watching Kunon casting her gaze down dejectedly.

What about the elves?”

Of course, it’s impossible for us. Without our equipment we would be more useless than humans.”

I see… what kind of objects are you talking about?”

You really stick your nose everywhere… Taking bows, knives and various stones aside, which you can imagine yourself, magic is the real pride and strong point of elves. I’m talking about magic wands and magical objects.”

When she finished explaining, she made eye contact with Takumi.

Just to be clear, I can’t use magic, so don’t expect anything from me.”

Hey, don’t read my mind please.”

I thought I’d spare you a pointless question.”

You could’ve said that with an appropriate expression, at least.”

He sighed observing Karin fighting to keep the same expression.

I hate doing pointless stuff, but talking with you wasn’t completely useless. Now I’m sure about the existence of magic and I understood that you were lying.”

Oh, really? Tell me when I lied, then.”

She taunted him, but he didn’t look at her.

I see. You taunt people to make eye contact, so you can ‘read their minds’… or something like that, right?”

The next moment, he clearly heard Karin holding her breath.

Wow, nice! No one understood it befoooh…”

Kunon, be a good girl and shut your mouth, please.”

Karin glared at Takumi as she put her hands on the wolf-girl who started squirming.

I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

It’s too late now. I understood it the first time I gave you bread.”

He said yawing.

You thought ‘look, that starving kid is offering us bread’. At first, you asked what my intentions were, so that you could guess them from my answer and expression. Still, you believed that I was going ask you something in return.”

That’s because I don’t believe in humans. It was obvious that you wanted something from us.”

In a situation like this it’s normal to doubt even children… But you’re not the only one who can read other’s mind, because magic isn’t necessary to do it.”

Closing an eye, he tapped his temple with a finger.

Just like you didn’t lose my eyes for a moment, I kept watching yours. You never looked at my expressions or at my eyes’ movements. Still, you strongly believed that I would have asked something in return. Hence, I thought you must have used another way to find it.”

Karin remained silent.

I noticed a bunch of things talking with you… For example, you try not to talk if I don’t look at you in the eyes. Just like now.”

She sighed resigned.

Who on earth are you?”

I’ll tell you properly if we get the chance… but I need to confirm something. Let me talk to Kunon.”

Reluctance painted her face, but she distanced her hands from her friend’s mouth.

Fuah~ Uuuh… I was choking…”

Karin is a disaster, isn’t she? Anyway Kunon, can you beat adults?”

Well… I’m not sure about it, but I won’t lose as long as my legs can move!”

She replied firmly lifting her beautiful legs. Takumi guessed that she wasn’t lying and that she was pretty confident in her own abilities.

Karin, what do you think about it? You two were together before ending up here, so no one should know her skills better than you.”

…As long as she can use her legs, she can win even against an armed foe, although she’s weakened. Werebeasts are generally fast and strong, so it’s necessary to bind their movements to keep them at bay. That’s why she has shackles at her ankles too.”

Hearing those words, Takumi tried to examine them. They really were tougher compared to wooden or steel shackles.

Fine. We can proceed, then.”

What are you up to?”

We made eye contact before, so you should know it, no?”

I meant… what do you need from us? I know you need something, but I don’t know what.”

She replied with a pouty look. She looked upset because Takumi found out about her power.

There are many ways to get out of here. In the best-case scenario…”

When he started to explain, the wagon stopped as the horses started to whine.
Nearly at the same moment… angry male screams echoed along with the puzzled and afraid voices of the coachmen.

No, we can’t fend off all of them! Let’s get out of…”

The young man’s voice was interrupted and an irregular crimson stains appeared on the wagon’s cloth.

Serge! Hey, hang in there! No…! AAAHHH!!!”

After that agonizing scream ceased, rude laughs of men shook the air.

Takumi wanted to take a peek outside, but given the blood that was flowing within the wagon, guessing what had just happened wasn’t a hard task.
The children were startled, and as they fell silent, Takumi turned to the two young girls.

Well… this is the worst.”

He said with a flat voice.

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