Chapter 23 Slave Trader (Intelligence Gathering 2)
After having lunch, I and Celica resumed gathering intelligence in the royal capital.
Next we went to the slums near the capital's outer wall.
It seems this is the first time Celica has come to this dirty place, she's cuddling on me with her arm linked to mine. She looks a bit sweaty.
On the contrary, I walk lightly.
Because I know that I don't need to hold back now that there's no god.
It's like a thorn in your side been picked off.
It feels very refreshing.
I arrived in front of a stone house inside the slums.
It's a two-storied building that looks like a solid prison.
I knock at the door made of thick wood.
Then, a small window on the door opened, and a man peeked out. Sharp eyes, he's not an ordinary man.
"Don't have one."
"Still not good with this?"
I took out a big medal-like 【Emblem of Hero】 from my Wafuku's breast pocket.
The man on the other side of the door held his breath.
"Don't worry. I'm a guest."
With a click the door opened.
--Well, I could've smashed it if I wanted since I have the Emblem of Hero.
I did not do it cause I'm thinking of establishing a connection and prevent animosity in the future.
There's a skinhead man with a wound on his cheek standing beside the opened door.
I went into the building with Celica.
A dim room. The wide is average, there's only one counter. There's a door in the back.
Sour smell drifted in. The smell of people who haven't bathed.
"Looks like your business's thriving."
The skinhead man look troubled.
"I don't know how to respond that."
"Guess you're right. Are the slaves inside?"
"Yes.... Over here."
The man--the slave trader guides us inside.
The sour smell became even stronger when we entered the door.
A windowless secret room. It's as wide as a classroom.
There's barely any light, the man goes to light a lamp when he enters.
Figures of men, women and children appeared along the wall.
All of them are chained, wearing dirty clothes.
There's more than 10 people.
I turn back and say.
"Celica, if you're not feeling well--"
"...I'm fine. I'll stay with Keika-sama."
Her face looks pale face, she's biting her lips. However, her fingers are gripping my Wafuku's sleeve. Looks like she's afraid to be left alone.
Then the slave trader speaks.
"These are slaves that you can buy right now."
I look at every one of them with <<Truth Sight>>.
Magic to see through abilities and skills.
However, there's no slave I wanted. Slaves with 【Light】 element.
I found a being that's out-of-place here.
A good-looking boy with long limbs is actually a monster.
The monster is called 【Poison Shape】, it gets close to people by imitating their looks and then it would eat them when they let their guard down.
What to do. This looks usable.
Celica suddenly gasps.
She strengthened the grip on my Wafuku.
"No.... It's nothing."
Celica shakes her head with a stiff expression. Her blond hair glimmered faintly in the dim light.
I chase after Celica's glances.
There's a kind-looking auntie there. She's hugging a slave girl who seems to be attached to her.
Job: Slave (Royal Court Chef)
Class: Cook Lv 49
....Royal court. I see.
Celica's acquaintance huh.
While I was lost in thought, the slave trader showed off a man.
"If you're looking for someone who can fight, how about this man?"
The skinhead brings the lamp on the wall near the man. Lighting a bearded man with muddy eyes.
"He looks weak."
"This man was a former gladiator. He has an excellent handling of weapons."
I stare at the man. His abilities are high but he's fallen to 【Alcohol Addiction】.
"He's no good. He has a symptom of alcoho--drinking addiction. I don't think he can work properly."
"....As expected of Hero-sama. You certainly have good eyes."
"Don't you have any Sinner?"
"There's a lot of demands for sinners, so they're immediately shipped every time we get one. They're very popular for ceremonies, sacrifices and such."
"I see... The man that fought in the final--that Leo guy, what happened to him?"
"They're still discussing to judge whether that man is a Sinner or not. It looks like they can't come to a conclusion."
"Is that so.... Then can you tell me about the other Sinners? From hereafter."
I spoke while glancing at the Emblem of Hero.
The skinhead slave trader speaks while patting his head.
"I'm doing a business here...."
"A business to support the demon king?"
"Don't be absurd. It's an honest clean business."
"I'm not obstructing your business. You can tell the information after you've sold the sinners. There should be no loss for you."
"I'll lose trust, I can't do this."
I ask while putting my hand on my Tachi.
"Then, do you want to die."
"What? What are you saying Hero-sama."
"I want information about Sinners. I'll cut you down if you're not going to share them."
"If you kill me...."
"Your replacements are everywhere. Right? Then I can just keep cutting down slave traders until I found one who would tell me where the Sinners were taken to."
The slave trader looks at me with cold eyes.
"....Hero-sama, are you sane? Even if you're a hero, you can't just kill someone innocent without repercussion you know?"
"Even if it's an underling of demon king who brought a monster into the capital?"
"That good-looking boy over there. He looks like a human, but he's a vampire right? Look."
I approached the boy and sprinkled him with water from the gourd on my waist.
The boy seemed in pain and then his eyes turned red and his canine teeth grew.
The slaves were thrown into panic.
"Hii", "Help!", "I don't wanna die!"
The slave trader is panicking.
"N-no way! I-I'm--"
"You're selling a vampire as a slave to kill people who buy him right? As a hero who has the right to decide anything related to demon king, I will judge you. It's death penalty."
I quickly draw my sword and thrust it before the slave trader's neck.
"Ha....! It's a mistake! I don't know anything!"
"You can't talk your way out this, not with the evidence and all."
"No way! --a."
The boy who grew fangs tore the chain and came attacking.
I casually swing my drawn Tachi. It's shining blue from <<Water Blade Grant>>.
The boy split in two and crumbled. His ash scattered away. Hitting auntie Clarissa directly.
Without looking away from the slave trader, I thrust my Tachi before his neck again.
"Now then, what're you going to do? There's a lot of witnesses y'know? Will you tell me or not?"
"I will. I'll tell you! So please help me. I really didn't know about that vampire."
"Whether you do or don't is not the problem here. The important thing is the fact that you brought a monster into the royal capital. I'll help you if you're proven to be usable."
The slave trader held his breath, "gwuu" and he sighed.
"I understand. I'll tell you. However, I don't have any information, or rather, I don't have any news about Sinners who are still alive. Because they rarely appear."
I grin and smile.
"Really. Then contact me as soon as you have some info. Do you know Kinmerick old man's inn?"
"Yes, I do."
"Notify me there. ...I think you're aware already, but lying won't work on me understand?"
"Yes... I understood."
I put away my sword and offer my hand.
The slave trader is puzzled.
"It's a handshake. Let's get along from now on."
The slave trader timidly reached out and shook his hands with mine.
"Ah, also. Humans bitten by vampires will turn into a vampire too after a while right? Don't sell the slaves here. I'll come visit again before long to dispose of them."
"Yes, I understand."
I went out with Celica.
It's already evening outside.
The western sky is turning red.
"Let's go back to the inn."
Celica looks gloomy.
I ask her while walking in the town.
"No... It's nothing."
"You're really an open book. You saw an acquaintance there right?"
Celica's blue eyes open wide.
"I know. Don't worry. I'll buy her."
Celica shook her head.
"We shouldn't. We can't buy someone who could become a vampire...."
"Ah, that was a lie."
"It was a monster alright, but it was not a vampire, just a monster who spread poison around. And when they showed the symptom, I would buy them for cheap with the promise of disposing them."
"Such plan--no, but, wait. Then the slave trader might show a symptom too."
"I had a plan for that."
That was why I added 【Null Poison】 on the slave trader's 【Status】 when I shook hands with him in the end.
Rewriting status is a special privilege of gods.
I laugh showing my white teeth.
"Don't worry, it will go well. Now let's have a meal with the old man and Minya when we get back."
Celica was dumbfounded with her mouth open, but then she smiled and burst into laughter.
"....Keika-sama is really great. You make anything impossible possible."
"Thank you, Keika-sama!"
Celica twines her arm around mine. My arm is interposed in her big breast valley.
Her breasts shook while we were walking, so I continued to feel the finest softness.
We returned to the inn.
The moment we entered the tavern on the first floor, Lapisia came swinging her slender limbs, wearing a white dress. The blue twintail trailed behind.
"Welcome back Keika! Meal!"
She looks like a 10 year girl, but her mental age is a bit lower. She still isn't able to stop her baby talk yet. But she's a Mother Earth Goddess.
I say while patting Lapisia's head.
"I'm back. Let's eat then."
"Yes, let's. We've walked quite long."
Celica spoke with her hands on her big breasts.
Lapisia with her childish face smiles.
"Lapisia made this today!"
"Was it okay....?"
I reflexively looked at the kitchen, Minya came out of it with her cat ears moving. She's a 13 year old beastfolk girl. She's as slender as Lapisia, but her swelling chest looks innocent.
"I helped her.... It's fine."
"I see. Then there's nothing to worry about. Minya makes good meal after all."
Minya looked down in silence, but it seemed she was happy as her black tail stood up.
And then we sit on a four-people table. I and Celica sit next to each other, Lapisia is in front of us.
Minya brought the dish at once.
Meat dumplings, mushroom soup, roasted vegetables. The bread was toasted.
The meat and the bread let out smell that stimulate my stomach.
Lapisia says while staring with her round golden eyes.
"Meat dumpling, eat! eat!
As suggested, I stab a meat dumpling with a fork and put it in my mouth.
Sweet meat juice overflowed in my mouth the moment I bit it.
"Hm! What's this meat dumpling. The inside is perfectly mashed and soft!"
"This is really good! Is this a new menu!?"
"Lapisia was like gyuu, gyuu"
Lapisia held out her slender arm and made pressing movement with her small hands.
--I see. She crushed the meat with 30,000 grip strength and this was the result.
"You're great Lapisia."
She smiles with her whole faces and glittering eyes.
With elegant gestures, Celica put the dumpling in her mouth with a fork.
Her blue eyes opened wide after her mouth moved several times.
"It's really delicious. This is the first time I've eaten this texture."
"Praise me praise me!"
"You're great. Lapisia-chan."
Lapisia raised both her arm gleefully.
Celica smiled looking at her.
The meal continued afterward.
The dining table was lively with laughter.
The cheerfulness made it twice as tasty.
However, as someone who was born in Japan, I began to think.
It was a certainly good western-style meal, but it made me wanting Japanese food.
Glittering white rice. Miso soup with Dashi. Salty salmon. And also Nori and Nattou.
Well it's probably impossible though.
Celica looked puzzled when I sighed weakly.
"What's wrong Keika-sama?"
"No, it's nothing. I was only recalling about my hometown dish a bit."
"Is that so."
After nodding many times, she speaks with Lapisia.
"Lapisia-chan, what did you do today?"
"Today played with Minya! Ball to the wall!"
"Oh my, you played ball and it flew to the city's wall did you. As expected of Lapisia-chan."
Celica talks with Lapisia for a while.
She understands when to not fuss over things.
She let me to be alone.
This kind of consideration healed my heart.
I continued to enjoy the good meal while thanking for Celica's existence.