A world of slaves – Part 4
Let’s introduce Listina, the capital.
Richtert Castle was visible over Listina’s roofs, and the town’s structure is divided into upper, middle and lower part.
Both the fortress and the town were surrounded by high walls.
A huge lake was located south from the capital, a rocky mountain range spreaded north, and plains stretched out as far as the eye could see from east to west.
It looked like Mother Nature blessed the city with all of her elements.
The Meld Mountain Range didn’t just block the cold winter’s winds, but it also served as a natural barrier against potential invaders.
Verne Lake was famous due to a certain characteristic.
It was a brackish lake. Its water flowed directly into the sea, which water defiled the lake’s.
Thanks to that feature, ships had access to the lake from the sea without troubles.
In order to save time avoiding the hardships of land transportation, the city developed particularly in maritime trading.
Also, the Eltern Plains were devoid of potholes and such hindrances, so even the nearby kingdoms used them as trade routes.
Since Listina has an ideal geographical location and it’s famous as a trading metropolis, a wide variety of traveling merchants visits it to expand their business.
Before letting them in the city, their merchandise must be examined.
That’s why each of the city gates is protected by guards stationed not too far from their barracks.
They have to keep their eyes open to make sure that nobody breaks the law.
One of them was half asleep, and let out a big yawn as he watched the sun rising.
“Aaah… it’s finally morning. If only the others would hurry up and take over, we could go back home right away.”
“I agree, but if you were in their shoes, would you do that as soon as you wake up?”
“Well… no, I would have a big breakfast first.”
“That’s the same for them. I understand that you’re sleepy, but be patient.”
“Yes sir. Try to keep me awake talking about something interesting, only to kill some time.”
“Guess I can’t help it… Let’s talk about the ‘ghost wagon,’ then.”
“Do you mean the wagon that was spotted in the middle of the night driven by a corpse?”
“…Let me start, at least.”
“A guy told me about the ‘ghost ship’ when I was guarding the port.”
“I see. Probably you two didn’t have anything to do and he struck up a conversation just like you did.”
As they entertained themselves with that trivial chit-chat, both were smiling at each other.
They were so sleepy that they could have fallen asleep while chewing food or drinking some wine.
The only way to come to their senses would have been a real scare.
When they heard the neigh of a horse in the distance, they looked in that direction.
“I guess we have some work to do. We’re lucky we have to examine a wagon right now, huh?”
“You can say that, but we have to work to live, right?”
They exchanged a wry smile.
Seeing the wagon getting closer, they glanced at each other.
“Isn’t that a bit weird?”
“It looks like a wagon used for transporting goods, but I don’t see the usual cloth… No, wait, I can see it fluttering in the wind. Maybe it was attacked by bandits.”
“In that case, why would it come here at this time?”
The sun cast the wagon’s shadows towards the city, so they could only wait for it to get closer to get a better look.
“Anyway, what was that about the ghost wagon?”
“It’s said that a wagon that carried slave children was attacked by bandits who killed each of them, so they became ghosts out of resentment and now their corpses roam this land.”
“Oh my… If my eyes aren’t deceiving me, the coachman of that wagon looks like a child…”
The closer the wagon got, the smaller the coachman looked compared to an adult.
“…Just know that if that’s the real deal, I won’t move from here.”
“Don’t worry. If it really is, to hell with work. Let’s run like crazy.”
They held their breath waiting nervously for the wagon’s arrival… and it finally started to slow down, until it stopped near them.
The coachman really was a child, and he was wearing a kind smile as he waved to them.
“Hey! Being on duty this early in the morning is really admirable!”
Hearing his friendly greeting made the guards feel relieved.
“Well, it’s our duty. But… this wagon isn’t yours, is it?”
“No, it isn’t. We were attacked by bandits on the way here, so I thought to return this to its rightful owner.”
The guards looked puzzled.
The present coachman wore a black collar… a slave collar.
They started wondering why he didn’t flee, since the bandits might have killed his sellers.
The child’s reasoning was nonsense.
“…I have to check the wagon.”
“Feel free to. But please, don’t wake anyone up. They’re all tired.”
Keeping an eye on the child, one of the guards looked in the wagon. There were nine children, a werebeast, an elf… and two men. Everyone was lying on the ground.
“Oh, there are some adults. I’d like to talk to…”
When he tried to wake up one of them, he noticed that the body was way too cold.
His bloody head rolled floppily, and stopped staring lifelessly at the guard.
The child, still acting as the coachman outside, never stopped smiling.
“Oops, I forgot to say that some of them are dead tired. I wanted to bring them to their families before they rotted, so… can you help me getting in touch with the owner of this wagon, please?”
The miserable scream of the guard resounded outside the city walls.