One of the black market entrances had collapsed.
This was no natural phenomenon. It was a sign that an uninvited guest, one so powerful that even the hidden guards in that pitch-black tunnel could not stop, had barged in.
It should have been normal to be helplessly buried alive when a tunnel 5 floors underground collapsed, but the uninvited guest wasn’t one to be so easily dealt with.
The tunnel ceased to fall apart as if had never collapsed to begin with.
It was all because the dirt, rock and such that were indiscriminately falling from the cracks in the tunnel ceiling had begun to move as if they were living creatures.
‘An Earth Elemental.’
It was a pure soul which existed within great nature.
Earth, Fire, Wind, Water, Heart—!
They were ethereal creatures of this fantasy world which were said to be capable of facing even the Demon King Pedonar if all five elements were gathered as one.
Someone who had become intimate with these Elementals would be able to wield miracles more incredible than even the spells of magicians with but a simple request.
Just like what was happening now.
Instead of collapsing, the tunnel grew even wider than before. The tremendous mass of dirt and rock that were pressing down from above were being pushed outwards in reverse and being solidly hardened.
It would be difficult to achieve this with just a couple of Elementals. There had to be a dozen at the least. This level of affinity wasn’t possible for just anyone. If there was one race capable of so skillfully employing Elementals—
“It must be an Elf!”
“An Elf Elementalist has broken in!”
“Stop that Elf! Guards! Guards!”
—it couldn’t be any other than the Elves who were considered as a higher form of humans.
The guards who were hidden in various places throughout the black market moved in perfect unison. They mobilized their entire force as the Dark Commerce would suffer a loss of reputation if their patrons either were injured or died.
The average Level of the guards was 150, higher than most knights of the kingdom. It was a testimony to how many hellish encounters they had survived through and as befitting of guards under the Dark Commerce, they were all the fiercest of the bunch.
On the other hand.
“Let us save our brethren!”
The intruders were a large number of Elves.
They were donned in battle vests unique to Elves which boasted enhanced defensive capabilities, woven out of layers of layers of a silk spun from a special silkworm. Their main weapon was the bow, only intermittently using Elementals or their swords.
Their average Level of 200 was higher than the black market guards. But this place was the center of enemy territory and they were decidedly at a numerical disadvantage.
Yet despite it all, the Elves weren’t pushed back in the least.
The reason behind this was the presence of a certain woman in their midst who had cried out loudly. She had longer ears than the other Elves. Her outfit was no different from the others yet the atmosphere surrounding here was different.
And it was only natural that was so.
An Elf royal had come all the way to grace this filthy black market with her presence. And what’s more, she was a familiar face.
That strange, nasty hobby of hers remained unchanged from the 1st Playthrough—in order to save her brethren, she would push even more of her people into danger.
Elf Queen Silvia.
Although she was no more than a princess at present, after the death of the current Elf King due to a coup d’état, she would give up her adventuring to return to her homeland and inherit the throne.
So that made her the future Elf Queen.
Her Level was still low as she had yet to set out on her adventures, but as someone born gifted, the rank of her Skills were no inferior than they were in her prime—they were extremely high. In particular, Elemental(S) was a total beast.
“Sa-, save me~!”
Every time the Fire Elementals in the form of snakes spat flames and pounced, the guards would be frightened out of their wits as they screamed. They tried using magic to somehow fight back, but the number of Elementals was overwhelmingly high.
The Elves who had accompanied Princess Silvia as her guards were also strong. Their skill in the bow was superb, sniping the enemy magicians in the rear who were chanting spells.
“Sir Wolf-Mask! This way!”
The professional attitude of the black market staff who prioritized the evacuation of their guests even in the midst of this situation almost brought tears to my eyes.
While on the other hand…
“Hero-nim. Shall we also help out in the rescue?”
Lanuvel suggested this as if mocking their efforts.
Lanuvel summoned a half-transparent shield with magic. She was using it to diligently block the fireballs shooting over from everywhere.
Her expression wasn’t one of fright or of panic. She had an honest gaze that spoke of wanting to help the Elves who broke in and teach the black market a lesson. She had been feeling uncomfortable all throughout the auction proceedings, and now it seemed she had finally exploded.
I could understand that noble sense of justice very well.
“You should just go and wait in the safety zone.”
“Eh?! How come?!”
Even though I had said so many times not to talk back…
“Helping out in the rescue you say? Are you dumb? What about the mercenary we saved just moments ago? Should we just leave him to die like this? Goodness! To think you’d abandon a comrade who’ll be sticking with us from now on! I’m telling you, that’s not how you live life.”
All of the other patrons aside from us had already escaped, but a significant number of slaves whose movements were restricted by shackles had ended up meaninglessly dying due to getting swept up in the ongoing battle.
I gave Lanuvel a push from behind.
“As the Hero, I’ll handle things on my own here. Go wait at the safety zone along with our new comrade. And take good care of the money bag.”
Lanuvel was forced to go, and the mercenary who didn’t want to die obediently followed under her protection.
And then there was just me.
Just as planned.
“Gasp! Sir! Why aren’t you runn-…”
“Just answer what I’m going to ask. That Elf is my possession, correct?”
The auctioneer gave an exact answer even in the midst of his panic.
“That is indeed so. Although paying in advance is the basic rule, the Elf without doubt belongs to you, sir, as you have clearly won the bid in this situation. From now on, the right to decide the fate of this Elf lies with you, Sir Wolf-Mask. And so, please come with me to the safety zone. The Elf will not resist much as she has been fed anesthetic.
The auctioneer was no fool. On the contrary, he belonged to the ranks of extremely clever elites. He had realized the truth that this Elf slave was the objective of the Elf intruders, and had also figured out the battle wasn’t going in their favor.
He had no time to take care of an Elf who was drugged and cursed—and that was why he decided to pass over this burden over to me, the patron.
“I’ll say, you’re quite the able man.”
His reply had been exactly the one I was waiting to hear.
“You overpraise me.”
At the end of those words, the auctioneer drew the sword by his hip. It turned out that this man who had been like a clown atop the auction stage was all along the true hidden expert of this black market. On the other hand, the black market elites who had devoted themselves to moving the patrons with poor protection over to the safety zone began to assemble one after another.
I could guess what would happen in the future.
The future Elf Queen would be captured alive here, and then be reduced to a slave. She would be openly displayed for sale in this black market without so much as a scratch inflicted on her even despite this mess she caused. She wouldn’t suffer vulgar acts of revenge such as being violated or being beaten.
That would drop the value of the merchandise, after all.
And after making the sale, a part of the profit would be sent to the bereaved families of the guards who had been killed.
Although that would be quite the interesting development in its own way…
“Hello, Miss Elf.”
I started talking to the Level 851 Elf who was the origin of this incident.
She had managed to immediately size me up even in her clouded state of mind. It seemed she had instinctively realized I was no ordinary human.
“I’ll get straight to the point. Silvia will surrender if you remain alive. Do you get my meaning?”
The future Elf Queen hadn’t been defeated in battle. In the situation where all the other Elves who fought alongside her had died and only she stood strong, the higher-ups of the black market took this Elf here as hostage.
Overcome by the guilt of having driven her subordinates and friends to their deaths, she gave up on fighting and was caught. And then she was sold as slave.
I had heard the gist of this story from the person involved herself.
“… Yes. That child is tender-hearted.”
It seemed this Elf had properly understood what I meant. Despite her enfeebled state, drugged and cursed, she could manage to show an expression of composure that spoke of the resolve to die and be sacrificed. It was the kind of determination impossible for me, someone who feared death.
She was like a fireworks going out in a final, beautiful blaze of glory.
I roughly hugged the slender waist of the Elf with my left arm, and with my right supported the back of her neck and held her head fixed.
And then I kissed her deeply.
Thump thump. She made a weak attempt to resist using her powerless fists, but lasted only a moment. When I gently tickled the end of her pointy ear, as if by reflex, she hugged both her arms around my back in a groping manner and began to respond to my kiss.
We sucked on each other’s tongue and saliva, indulging deeply in the act. She was clumsy as if this was the first time in her life doing such a thing, but she was immensely passionate.
Through her actions, the feelings in this Elf’s heart was transmitted to me, deeply.
She was worried for Princess Silvia. She didn’t want the princess to surrender for somebody like her. She didn’t want her to experience the miserable life of a slave for even a moment. I could feel that sincere hope from each and every movement she made.
Thanks to that, I was able to enjoy myself as well.
Thank you, really.
The two wide-open eyes of the Elf gently closed. Her neck broken, her slender limbs went limp to hang loosely.
It hadn’t been difficult due to the demon’s curse which had reduced roughly 90% of her Level.
I parted my lips from hers as if savoring the final aftertaste, and then neatly lay here on the ground.
I had killed a Level 851 Elf.
“The game system really is fantastically retarded!”
And then I felt an immense power well up within me.
This amount of progress would have easily taken a year had I taken the normal route. However, my Level had experienced an explosive increase in one go by killing a Level 851 Elf. What’s more was that this Elf had blessed me as she died.
Is this humming I hear coming from me?
Things like talent or lineage weren’t necessary. Anybody could become strong so long as you killed the strong by whatever method or means.
Hmm. But I suppose you would need a bit of effort and luck to kill them?
In any case, it was an opportunity that was open to anyone and everyone.
A beautiful fantasy world, brimming with dreams and hopes!
Of course, it was only nice when I was doing the winning.
“Sir Wolf-Mask?! How could you do such a thing to your…?!”
The auctioneer was shocked; he couldn’t understand the reason why I had killed an Elf I had paid a fortune for. He had been wearing that look of shock from the moment the Elf and I had started sharing a hot kiss in the midst of this chaos.
It was understandable for him to be confused.
“There’s no problem. I’ll pay up the correct amount.”
The reason being that what I did was the very epitome of waste from the perspective of others. Rather than killing a powerful Level 851 warrior to raise your level, it would be overwhelmingly more beneficial to win that warrior over and have him as your subordinate. No, in the first place, the truth that this Elf was Level 851 wasn’t even known in this black market.
But I was the Hero. I had the perk of a five-fold experience bonus.
In short, it meant that what I did was no different than killing five Level 851 Elves. And that wasn’t the end of it either. There were still plenty of ‘experience’ remaining around—
An arrowhead grazed past my cheek.
It was shot by an Elf archer. I had been identified as an ‘enemy’ from the moment she witnessed me killing the Level 851 Elf from quite close-by.
She had a pretty face that was twisted by fury and sorrow. And it wasn’t only that archer who was enraged.
“How dare you do such a thing to Master…!”
The future Elf Queen cried out as if weeping.
Apparently, the Level 851 Elf I had killed was her mentor. Seeing how the mastery of Elementals was largely influenced by natural talent, perhaps she had learnt archery from that Elf.
The other Elves who had been in the midst of battle began to glare at me as well. The look in their eyes was rather turbulent, so much so that they would have charged at me all together had it not been for the black market guards standing in their way.
I picked up a sword, its shape unclear in the darkness, which had fallen to the ground. It wasn’t a heavy great-sword which I favored, but a bastard sword which was halfway between a one-handed and two-handed sword. Still, it was perfect for casual-use before tossing away.
My current Level was 165. The things I couldn’t do as a Level 4 had now become possible.
“Now then! It’s time to get slashin’ for my dream!”
I did as much work as I was paid to do.
So there would be no occurrence of the Elf Princess ending up a slave. Grin.