The Soft-hearted slave merchant – Part 2
We can’t say that the slums’ public order was handled greatly.
There were some rude workers with stubborn dispositions that helped maintaining peace in their streets, but the slums were poor and filled with outcasts and people of that kind.
Fights were an everyday occurrence and so was every sort of crime. Also, children filled the streets as beggars and tried to make a living by pickpocketing people.
Valeria’s office was located in the slums’ heart.
The merchants handled the slum’s information network, and Valeria was renowned essentially as a jack of all trades company.
To be more accurate, Valeria took care of anything.
They handled the fights as intermediators, led the guards’ patrolling, helped with contraband trade and rare items. From the government corruption to the resolution of small troubles – their actions influenced quite a lot of things.
It was said that everyone asked them for help.
All of that was thanks to Vatel Famille, the previous head of Valeria.
Since merchants hated to trade in the slums given the danger, Vatel’s organization started up taking that into account. He didn’t only manage thugs with an iron fist, but also had the tact to create a new business slowly crushing his rivals.
Thanks to that, the slums’ citizens started to say “Valeria exists for us”, sometimes with hatred, sometimes with gratefulness. Valeria’s existence was that important.
Finally, Takumi and the two girls reached their destination.
Things were indeed busier than usual, exactly as Lilia said.
“Aaah, Takumi! I was looking for you!”
A voice rang near him as he approached the reception desk.
Dazzling platinum-blonde hair framed two glittering jasper-colored eyes.
Although her face could still be considered childish, she grew up considerably in those seven years.
“Hey, Mirta. Why all the ruckus?”
“Ah, there’s a lot to do! I don’t know what to do next…”
Looking at her face that was cramped with nervousness, he let out a light sigh.
“Okay, we’re in a bad situation, but stop making that face. Calm down. If you start crying, everyone will be too worried about you to do anything else.”
“Uuuh… You’re right, I’m troubling everyone…”
Mirta looked disheartened, so Takumi stroke her head kindly.
“What happened? A few slaves shouldn’t cause this much trouble, no?”
“Ehm… maybe it would be faster if you go to the accommodation room and see it yourself.”
The accommodation room was an underground cell where slaves were brought at first.
The room was filled with the essential things to live, and Takumi always offered them some food to help them return healthy.
We can say that they were treated way better than common slaves, but it couldn’t keep more than twenty people, and many voices could be heard from outside.
Takumi tilted his head, puzzled at her words, and approached the door.
Stepping into the room, everything was now clear.
There were way too many people inside.
“…Mirta. Today only ten people should have come, right?”
“…Yes. That was the deal, at least.”
“Then why are there something like thirty people in here now?”
“W-Well… there are six humans… And twenty-five demi-humans.”
“Twenty-five?! Where did they come from?”
“Uuuh…! I’m sorry! I’m sorry!”
Mirta kept bowing her head with teary eyes.
“It seems that their seller didn’t have enough humans, so he gave us demi-humans to apologize…”
“And you accepted twenty-five demi-humans? Geez, how terribly naive can you be? Now I have to scold Calc and Rosso.”
Given their number, it was normal to think this was a profitable deal, but demi-humans weren’t sold easily.
They were easier to obtain than humans since they were considered slaves from birth.
Also, given their high physical abilities, usually they weren’t accepted for precision works.
They could only do manual ones, so the range of demands for them pretty small.
Only elves, who were quite hard to find, were in high demand.
“I sent Jill searching for their seller, and the others had to help for tonight’s festival, so we’re a few people short here…”
“That’s pointless. That guy would take back two, maybe three of them, and no more. The unsold ones have a maintenance cost, after all.”
Even if Valeria’s capacity wasn’t exceeded, feeding twenty-five demi-humans would cost them a lot.
“W-What should we do… We can’t abandon them, but we can’t let them stay here for long either…”
“C’mon, I’ll figure something out! Don’t cry!”
Seeing Mirta on the verge of tears, Takumi comforted her.
“Karin, do you think some of them are ready to go? How many should we keep here?”
“…Five of them are on the verge of death, two should be good to go, and the others are still too unskilled.”
She replied with a stiff expression as she looked at them, and Takumi nodded.
“I see, that’s enough. Leave those five here and I’ll try to sell the others.”
“Sell the others…? We’re speaking of twenty demi-humans, you know? Thinking about the worst-case scenario, we would still have at least fifteen people left, who will drain our latest earnings in no time.”
“We’re selling fifteen today. Let’s pick them up.”
He approached the cell and squatted in front of it.
“Hi, sorry if it’s a bit cramped. Usually, there’s more room, but you’re more than expected.”
He spoke to them with a friendly smile, but their reaction was weak as expected.
Who would react nicely to people who were trying to sell them?
Still, among them, a girl with sharp horns and a lizard tail started talking.
She was probably a dragon-man.
“I-I’m sorry, but… She looks bad…”
Beside her, a winged girl with flushed cheeks laid on the ground while panting heavily.
“I see. She got sick due to malnutrition. Don’t worry, I’ll bring her some medicine later.”
“Will you… give her medicine?”
Takumi smiled at the shocked girl.
“Of course I will. It might sound mean, but you are all precious goods. We slave merchants should try to make you all feel great.”
“T-Thank you… very much… Err…”
“I’m Takumi, a slave merchant. What’s your name?”
“I-I’m Corona. I-I’ll work properly, so could you do something for her…?”
“Don’t worry. I won’t sell her right away, neither I will get rid of her.”
Seeing Corona relieved, Takumi kept talking with the others.
This time it was a werebeast with big ears.
“What about you? You look rather pale.”
“…Shut up. I’m starving, don’t talk to me.”
“Ouch, you’re in a bad mood, huh. I will let you eat as much as you want, then.”
“…Will you make me eat something?”
“That depends on your work. By the way, the meals here are super good.
Some work only to eat what our cook makes.”
“…Not like working will make us eat anything.”
“That isn’t true at all. If you are friendlier with customers, they will be happier and more relaxed. For example, if you are nice and ask for food when you’re hungry, they will listen to you and provide a meal.”
“I sold a slave who always wanted food and used all his money for that. Now he works on a merchant ship, and he travels around the world eating lots of delicious things. He sent me a letter, you know?”
He smiled pridefully at another girl with dog ears.
“What about you? What’s your name?”
“Wow, Recy? It’s so easy to pronounce that customers won’t stop calling you.”
“Can I… work like other people too?”
“Of course. People who go to bars are simpletons. If someone cute like you smiles at them, they will feel happy, you know?”
After hearing Takumi’s words, her lips curled into a little smile.
“What about you, young birdie? Don’t be so reserved.”
“…I’m just a slave. You’re free to do what you want with me.”
The resigned young bird-man leaned his back on the wall.
“And what about it? There’re countless works that can be done. I thought you were hoping for something.”
“Hope…? I lost it the moment I lost flight.”
As to mock himself, he moved the wings on his back.
One of them had an unnatural shape. It was probably broken years ago, and it wasn’t treated correctly.
“What beautiful wings. Could you fly before?”
“Yes, I could. I loved to watch things from the sky.”
As he spoke with grief, he hung his head and left it loose.
“You loved flying, huh?”
“…A lot. Bird-men live close to the sky. They can’t hate it.”
“So, do you like it also from the ground? Its color is different up there, right?”
“Yes… Let’s say that looking at the sky comforts me since I can’t touch it anymore.”
“I see… Keep on watching and loving it, then. Let that be what drives you.”
Takumi smiled again.
“Keep working and save enough money to fix your wing. Endure everything, and then go soar the sky again.”
The boy slowly lifted his head.
“Fix my wing…? That hasn’t crossed my mind before.”
“It’s normal that you feel terrible now, but you just have to realize your dream.
Think about it every second while you work.”
“I… don’t know if it will help me or not.”
Takumi nodded satisfied.
One after another, he talked with each demi-human.
The mood became lighter, maybe thanks to the conversation between Takumi and Corona at first, and it kept improving thanks to the slave merchant’s easy-going attitude.
“Leave those who can’t move here. I’ve already decided who to pick, but before that, can you bring enough food for all of them, Kunon?”
“Sure! Leave it to me!”
She replied happily, then darted out of the room.
Mirta still looked anxious.
“Takumi… are you sure I can leave this to you?”
“Well, it’s what you were hoping for, right? Then I should deal with this.”
“B-But… I’m terribly sorry for being so helpless…”
“Apologizing too much is a bad habit, and a boss shouldn’t do that because its position doesn’t allow it. Take care of things here until I come back.”
After he stroked Mirta’s head roughly while smiling, she finally showed a tender smile.
“Okay… I’m counting on you.”
“Leave it to me, Crybaby Boss.”
Her face became deep red from embarrassment, and he left the room while laughing at her reaction.
Normally, selling fifteen demi-humans in a day was almost impossible, but Takumi didn’t spend seven years as a slave merchant doing nothing.
He would find someone in need of a capable slave, create a convenient chance for the buyer, and if anything happened, deal with everything himself.
That was the Soft-hearted slave merchant.