“Ah! I see Hero-nim’s plan! You intend on buying excellent slaves and taking them in as companions, right? That’s a similar way of thinking to the heroes of ancient!”
Lanuvel’s eyes that were full of expectations sparkled like the Milky Way. I couldn’t completely deny her speculation; in the 1st Playthrough, there was really a time when I did this. I had once paid a fortune at the black market to buy a foolish woman who got herself caught trying to save her kin who was kidnapped by slave hunters. A woman who was the future Elf King…
A bothersome character whose head contained nothing but hatred for humans.
But even now, the auction went on.
Just how much money were they wasting for a Level 11 Warrior? The value of the ‘seasoned warrior’ soared like a geyser as the biddings ended up turning into a fight of pride that was typical of nobles. These people… were all out of their minds.
“But anyway, Hero-nim. I feel like that mister slave over there is really strong. Look at those glorious scars all over his body and his fierce-looking brows. Ah! But the scathing Hero-nim is still cooler, of course!”
“Let’s just not talk anymore.”
The weak warrior who had nothing but good fortune was finally sold — at an unbelievable sum which could buy 5 large sailing ships, that is.
I felt faint despite that it wasn’t my money being spent.
“What a pity.”
“Miss Extra, there’s nothing to feel pity about. The real auction starts now. If we spend our money so lavishly like that from the very beginning, we’ll only find ourselves sucking our thumbs when there are goods we really want to buy later on.”
Though of course, you could still miss out on everything if you were too thrifty.
The auctioneer presented the second merchandise.
“Look at her delicate skin. She is a daughter from a noble family that was captured by demons. It was by coincidence that we picked her up from the street. I will let the gentlemen of the night to find out themselves whether she really is a noble! The dress and the accessories are included!”
Shall I see whether she really is a noble?
It was clear that she was a daughter of nobility without having to look any further. The skills she possessed were the kind that were difficult for a commoner girl in this fantasy world to attain.
“Hero-nim. That lady…”
“I’ll have you know beforehand, but we didn’t come here for fun. Saving a noble loyal to the kingdom is the royal family’s job, not ours. Remember that.”
Subdued by the intensity of my attitude, Lanuvel fell silent.
And in any case, there was nothing much to worry about. Even if fallen from grace, a noble was a noble. There would be no moron who would seek out a young lady with education and etiquette as a sex partner. She was very likely to become a personal maid of a noble lady or daughter, though it would be hard to expect a life as comfortable as the one she had before. But she wouldn’t be treated as horribly as Lavunel imagined.
Clap clap clap!
The female slave who was sold expensively to a noble left the stage. Seeing how the price she was bought for wasn’t low, her fate was sure to be quite good. It has always been that a slave’s treatment would be proportional to their price.
Lanuvel asked cautiously, “Will she be okay?”
“She will. She’ll be much safer and happier than if we were to take her away and poorly look after her. I guarantee you this.”
No master would carelessly mistreat an expensive slave — though I couldn’t say there was really no one like that.
“You talk like you know everything.”
I knew too well, almost to a fault.
Memories of the 1st Playthrough flashed across my mind in succession. If the Fairy Queen was here, she would have taken it upon herself to wreck the auction by force and free all the slaves. No, there were times when she had actually just went ahead on her own in matters without consulting me, the Hero. She didn’t think about the aftermath.
When I think of what I had to endure cleaning up after that bitch’s mess, I…
“-Should just split her skull in half if I meet her this time.”
“… It’s nothing.”
After that, the auction gained momentum and proceeded quickly. I repeatedly called out some probing bids several times here and there as well. While I wanted splurge as I pleased, I was being careful since the amount of gold in the pouch wasn’t infinite.
And then, the opportunity came.
The man who staggered up onto the stage was in a dazed state. His pupils were devoid of focus and he was emaciated due to the lack of nutrition — but I could clearly see his true value.
His skills and status were no concern to me in any way. His Level was higher than any of the slaves that had been presented on the stage so far.
That was the important point.
“Here is a mercenary who was active in the northern region of the kingdom. While he may look like this due to having refused to eat for very long, he possesses an outstanding spearmanship! You’ll be able to put him to great use as long as he regains his health!”
The auctioneer tried his best, but the patrons were anything but hyped. It was because trying to convince a slave, who had lost his will to live, to work for you was a hassle in itself.
And if you were to fail convincing him in the end?
You would have just wasted your money. And this was why they couldn’t help but be reluctant about making a bid.
“Bid on him.”
But I was the very opposite. That mercenary was exactly the slave I was looking for, perfectly fitting the bill.
Lanuvel rang the tabletop bell on my order. The other patrons dived into the bidding fight a step late, but they quickly gave up like an ebbing tide after a tentative probe.
“Are there no more bids?”
Anyone who saw the dead fish-like eyes of the mercenary slave would have been the same. The patrons assembled here believed in their own judgements. The bidding would have been 5 times greater had he been in a normal state.
After sweeping his gaze across everyone present, the auctioneer started to count down.
“Three, two, one… Congratulations! Dear wolf-masked visitor. You have bought a good merchandise at a very good price!”
It was just as the auctioneer who was congratulating me said.
It was a bargain purchase. The other patrons around me might not agree, but that was the limit of those who weren’t capable of seeing the status abilities of others.
Lanuvel who took out the gold coins from the money bag quickly finished settling the purchase. And then she drew her lips close to my ears and asked, “Did you see the mercenary’s status abilities?”
“Yeah. Level 286.”
“My god… What a jackpot! That’s close to Mr. Alex’s Level!”
Now that was a line that would make the future Sword King feel sad.
The reason why this mercenary’s Level was significantly high was simple: he had gone around to all kinds of places and killed many of all sorts of things, although this was no easy feat either.
The time period when Alex truly became strong and gained the title of ‘Sword King’ would follow after the incident of when the kingdom palace he was in charge of defending was utterly razed to the ground by a raid of demons. Before that happened he was weak due to his low Level, and this was because the palace was extremely peaceful in usual times. There was a limit to how high you could raise your level by catching thieves with an average Level of 5.
“Dear patron, here is the key and contract.”
“Leave it on the table.”
The mercenary we purchased stood waiting behind our table. His arms and legs were shackled so that he couldn’t make any funny moves, and two security guards of good builds flanked him on both sides to monitor him.
The Dark Commerce… it may be a den of evil, but you had to give them praise where praise was due — their service was fantastic.
At that moment, Lanuvel who had made clinking noises while checking the contents of the money bag, which was still as heavy as ever, asked a strange question with a beaming smile on her face.
“Hero-nim, are we going back now?”
Having made a sensible purchase just now, I was in a good mood. I decided to admonish her nicely.
“You, does your head hurt or something? The shopping starts now.”
The auction had now entered the middle phase. It was the perfect timing where the expenditure of the fired up patrons increased due to the fierce bidding war, but the state of my wallet was still adequate. At this time, many good quality items would be presented.
Even I ended up becoming excited for no particular reason.
“Hero-nim. I… feel sick inside.”
Lanuvel uttered tension-draining words from the side.
Here, people bought and sold other people. Feeling an aversion to this place, her expression was extremely dark. But still she had managed to stay quiet without flaring up or going on a rampage; honestly, it was to the point that I wanted to praise her. If she were to go wild in this black market which was 5 floors underground, the outcome would be 100% death after all.
Everyone was equal before the threat of being buried alive. And even the Hero was no exception to that.
“Bear with it a little more.”
I didn’t have the intention to stay long even if not for Lanuvel’s whining; the patrons would end up running drastically low on coins when the fierce bidding in the auction’s middle phase passed, and from that point on the black market would only present petty items that matched the contents of their wallets.
It wasn’t as if I’d been only twiddling my thumbs and watching all this while. I had been repeatedly calling probing bids and giving it up when a good slave was presented. The money bag provided by the Dumpling King was bulging as ever, but for the time being I had to make do with what I had because of Professor Morals’ nagging.
The fruit of today’s work was one mercenary slave. Not bad.
“It’s about time we g-…”
I froze when I was just about to get up from my seat. And this was because the utterly unexpected had happened right now.
The auctioneer shouted, “This here is an Elf that we picked up in that famous forest located in the southernmost reaches of the continent! As you can see, her mind is a little broken, but her looks and lineage are of certain quality. And she is chaste. This is a golden opportunity that cannot be missed out on for those patrons who wish for an excellent 2nd generation!”
A fantasy world would hardly be fantasy without Elves.
In English, they were called Elves.
They were a higher race whose very existence summed up the desires of humans. Their average lifespans were comparable to that of Maidenhair Trees(2000~3000 years), and those of pure blood who were called royals were half-immortal. Their bone-thin physiques and pointy ears were what distinguished them, and their ears were concentrated erogenous zones so when you touched them, they would react sensitiv-… Mm?
Their sole weak point was their ability to procreate. Following the laws of nature, the Elves who had long lifespans had extremely low birth rates. It was at the level of having to use contraceptive pills at all times. And to make matters worse, they had about as much desire for sex as an impotent man or a monk. This was where the misunderstanding and illusion of Elves being noble existences came from.
And as a result…
The Elves, who lost in the struggle for land against the humans who in contrast had both high reproductive capabilities and vigorous sexual urges, fled into the depths of their forests just as the North American Indians had during the times of the American frontier.
And then they were reduced to become ‘sport’ to be hunted.
If Elves had lived on Earth, the environmental organization Greenpeace would have protected them, but there were nothing but poachers in this barbaric world.
“Hero-nim. That Elf, is weird.”
Lanuvel, whose eyes had begun to shine with light when the Elf was presented, quietly whispered into my ears. Gone was her whimpering appearance, complaining about feeling sick.
There was no doubt that she, who was an excellent Magician, had also sensed it — that this Elf was special.
There was nothing to think about.
I participated in the bidding.
The other patrons were focused on the beautiful physique and the lineage of the Elf. But I wouldn’t have cared even if this Elf had been male, impotent, retarded or ugly.
It was a jackpot as long as her Level was high.
It was the same Level as the pet dog which the Demon King Pedonar raised. This Level would match up to a middle rank demon, I would say? But taking into account that she had the advantage of a superior race and her Skill ranks were high, she would be around the middle-high rank…
But at present, such evaluations were meaningless.
“Her status sure is like a jar of rainbows.”
I couldn’t help but smile wryly.
The ‘Curse’ she was first afflicted with was likely the doing of a demon. It was a status ailment you would receive upon being defeated by a powerful demon of high rank or greater. This Curse greatly lowered the Level of the victim. If you were around Level 800 like that Elf, it could go down as low as Level 80.
It was a reduction of all your abilities to a tenth of their original. For starters, getting afflicted by it would spell a state of living death.
And as for the Sealed, Poisoned, Exhausted and Anaesthetized status ailments after that? These were no doubt added over multiple stages by the Dark Commerce who captured the Elf so that she wouldn’t be able to resist — treating her as you would a ferocious leopardess.
The bidding was intense.
But it fizzled down in a matter of moments like firecrackers at a fireworks festival.
The other patrons didn’t know of this Elf’s Level which was why they didn’t spread wide their wallets; they weren’t going over the price line which they viewed as reasonable.
It was only because Elves were rare that she had quite the pricey tag on her. Normally, it was the young and tough warriors who were regarded far highly. Because this was a barbaric world.
Strength spoke for everything.
A man who haggled over beautiful women using money was a coward. Only a man who used strength to obtain a woman would be treated as a true man among men. And you didn’t exactly need to be strong yourself. Whether it be by slaves or mercenaries, you only needed to steal the women of others who were relatively weaker by using ‘power’.
‘Only those with courage can obtain beauties.’
This saying was correct.
But you wouldn’t be able to protect a beauty without power. And this was why the value of warriors was higher than that of beauties.
What a beautiful fantasy world, was it not?
Now then! Let’s press the bell with my all.
“Another bid from Sir Wolf-Mask! He’s a tough one! Are there no more people willing to challenge this gentleman?”
All the other patrons shook their heads.
Although they acknowledged that this Elf was a rare beauty, they judged that with a such a high price tag on her, it would be of greater benefit to hire another powerful warrior instead. The auctioneer also seemed satisfied at the final bidding price.
He slowly began to count down.
But it was in that very moment… that a loud sound violently exploded throughout the auction.