Author note: There are cruel depictions and unsophisticated expressions. Readers beware.
Behave ‘normally’ if you don’t want to die.
According to the slave-merchant, if Sieg behaved normally, he would be fine and somehow manage.
While talking to the slave-merchant, a big man brought in a large number of slaves, including Sieg.
All of the slaves wore only loincloths with both hands tied in front of them. They were then loaded on a carriage that carried separate rooms for men and women. “It’s Black Iron Corps. They’re taking us to the Labyrinth City,” someone said.
In the first four days after leaving the Imperial Castle, the slaves were taken out of the carriages once a day. During these times, the slaves were washed using water magic and given goat milk. The goat’s milk was mixed with crushed beans and grains. While it was not tasty, Sieg was able to regain a little physical strength.
On the fifth day, they entered the Devil’s Forest. The armored carriage violently shook. Howl! From noon, howls filled the forest, a sign of demons preparing to strike. Only eliminating the demons would make the ride peaceful, yet the horse-drawn carriage continued without hesitating. Once a day, the horse carriage stopped for a few hours, and the goat’s milk from a leather bag was handed to the slaves. Time could not be added to a business trip.
The floor of the armored carriage was shaped like the bottom of a mushroom cap, and puddles of human excrement and other fluids pooled in the middle. Amidst the violent shaking of the carriage, a foul stench emitted from a person who had vomited in the back. The splatter of the vomit hit the floorboards with some of the vomit dripping out while the rest collected in the middle.
In the dark horse-drawn carriage, the slaves felt the wailing demon’s voice, the shaking of the horse carriage indicating battle, and the impact of monsters’ fangs and nails striking the armored carriage. Fearing and dazed by the sudden impacts as well as previous injuries or even high fevers from the unpleasant environment, the slaves huddled together. Every time Sieg felt overwhelmed, he recalled the figure of the spirit of the forest. Although he described it as a physical apparition, there was only a pale light that misleadingly indicated the spirit’s contours. Sieg had just barely been able to make out its figure through these light beams.
The doors of the carrier opened, and Sieg was ordered to leave the carriage. For the first three days, Sieg merely blankly stood and observed. The room was surrounded by stone walls that were reminiscent of a prison cell.
After being arranged in a line with the other slaves under threats and orders, some burly men in uniformed sprayed the slaves, dousing them and making their appearance even more wretched. The water quality was quite poor. Rather than water, it was more like a type of sludge. The water’s only role was to suppress the slave’s dirty odor, but they were still thankful for the cleanup. Their future misery was confirmed by the man who came next. The man jabbed a stick towards Sieg’s injured leg, causing him to fall with a loud cry of pain. As Sieg examined his left leg, he felt horrified by its state. It was covered with multiple injuries: a bite from the Black Wolf, blisters from burns, discoloration, and swollen.
Finishing checking the slaves, the big man and a fat man conversed.
Meat wall, miners, male prostitutes were all possible future careers for these slaves. The men gathered around and chatted, worrying about their futures.
(I don’t want to die. I don’t want to die. I don’t want to die. I don’t want to die)
Sieg wished more strongly that he ever had with the desperation of a man with nothing left. His future seemed painful and difficult. His future terrified him, and the fear weighed him down, but his mental strength did not allow him to despair; he had to continue. Despite all this, Sieg didn’t want to die…
It was a girl who had rescued him from his fear, confusion, and dark despair.
After being branded with a slave mark, he became the slave of this girl and was carried onto a carriage.
“Get off. We’ve arrived.”
A man who had driven the carriage handed over a bundle of dead grass, saying, “It’s your master ‘s belongings,” before pointing to the lake. “Wash yourself at that lake.”
Sieg did as ordered and headed to the lake. The clean water felt good. Sieg drank the water until his belly swelled. Sieg had only drunk muddy water for longer than he could remember. When he drank the clean water, he truly tasted the water, rolling its sweet taste around his tongue. Filling a bowl with water, he cleaned himself from the head down. How many days had it been since Sieg had washed his body? Because his body was so cold, the wounds on his legs and arms felt scalding. Sieg rinsed the painful regions hurriedly.
Sieg heard footsteps. Peeking from the depths of the lake, he saw a girl who had become ‘master.’ Wiping his body with a cotton cloth, he took a bundle of dry grass.
The merchant who had been his former ‘master’ would become furious when kept waiting and wave the whip many times. Sieg had not been allowed to wash his body or drink the water without permission, but the girl had not ordered him to follow these restrictions. Sieg worried that she might become angry for his selfish actions, but the girl gestured for him to follow without saying anything.
Sieg accompanied the girl into a building. Apparently, it was an inn. He was taken to the room without any further preparations. Every time Sieg walked, the pain that felt like his left leg was being torn surged. Perhaps because of his fever, breathing felt painful, and he was about to lose consciousness. Yet, even sweet release escaped him due to the throbbing pain in his left leg.
Still, the left leg wasn’t useless. Sieg struggled not to collapse. My leg is okay, Sieg thought, it will be serviceable. He was told that to cure it would cost two large silver coins. It was a price that could even purchase decent weapons. Such a thing, if it broke, a master would throw it away without fixing it.
When Sieg entered the room he was told to sit, but his right leg was swollen, so he could not sit properly. If this was an evil master, he may have been beaten because he could not sit. However, this girl said nothing and waited until he was somewhat sitting.
“My name is Mariela. I wonder; is your name Sieg? Under the slave contract, you cannot disobey my order, right?”
The new ‘master’ was named ‘Mariela.’
“Yes, but you can call me anything, Master. I will never forget your grace for saving a disabled person such as I. I will not disobey any orders; I will do anything that you order even if I must sacrifice what is left of me.”
He spoke these words that he had oft repeated to the traditional merchant who had been his previous ‘master’ while rubbing his forehead on the floor.
(‘Dog,’ ‘pig,’ ‘garbage,’ ‘scrap.’ No matter what you are called, answer ‘Yes.’)
“Please call me anything as you like, Master,” Sieg spoke to the ground. (Tler note: Dang, Sieg. You went from an arrogant dude to a sad dude in a chap ;-;)
He had been treated worse than livestock, every day he would have only been given a negligible amount of food, he would then say, “Thank you for gracing this incompetent body with only one eye,” or “I will never forget your gratitude.”
Even if he collapsed, he would follow every order. His response to any order was “I will not disobey any command; please inform me of what you desire,” then he would ‘thankfully’ accept.
Do not raise your face. Keep your forehead on the ground. Do not move until ‘Master’ leaves.
Sieg did not want to be whipped until he could not stand. Under the evil merchant, he had been trained until he followed every rule like a docile dog.
“Call me Mariela. Hold your face and present it to me.”
His new ‘Master’ Mariela asked him to reveal his face. Raising his face, he worried that she would feel displeased by his hair that messily stuck to his face. Sieg anxiously brushed his hair aside because he couldn’t see her face.
New ‘Master,’ Mariela’s hand rose. He was going to be beaten, and his body reflexively stiffened. There had never been a previous case of a raised hand lowering without the onset of startling pain. But her hand slowly moved, touching Sieg ‘s face with light fingers.
(Soft, cool, and feels good …)
Mariela felt the right eye where he had once had ‘Spirit Eye’ and traced the scar that was the only thing suggesting his once flourishing career.
Her hand felt the temperature of Sieg’s fever, touching his right arm that tingled and felt numb. Because Sieg was asked what he had caused his suffering, he briefly described the black wolf attack. New ‘master’ Mariela’s touch was the first time that someone had touched the wound other than himself. She traced the wound and heard the cause of Sieg ‘s injury then she glanced at the ugly discoloration and carefully watched his swollen legs.
“First of all, I will wash the wound.”
She was an ‘alchemist’ who should not exist in Labyrinth City.
The story of the destruction of the Kingdom of Endalgia had been handed down like a fairy tale through the generations. It was a tragic story detailing heroes confronting a flock of demons approaching the kingdom whose glory was at its peak. It was said that the brave people of the kingdom who confronted the devils perished together with them. In the end, the last remaining spirit vein was all drained up, and the labyrinth maze formed. Those who escaped from the kingdom gathered again in Enderaria, but they could not hear the voices of the spirits there.
About 100 years ago the last alchemist had died, and no alchemist had appeared in this area, except for Mariela.
Sieg thought it sounded like a miracle story. For him, she was a miracle.
With her hands, she cleansed the body which had been treated like dirt and gave him a potion. After giving him a warm meal, she gently embraced Sieg, who timidly cried out. She cared for a figure that looked like a beast wearing human clothes. Performing miracles, she healed his eaten legs and closed the old wounds.
Sieg had lost everything, but in exchange, he had received a wonderful Master. It was a merciful, miraculous occurrence.
(Because I was dull, I let it be washed. I should have done such chores. But you were not angry and still gave me a job. You said that it’s a precious material. I should wash it carefully.)
“Alright, Sieg. Yesterday…”
Lynx appeared in front of Sieg, who was washing the planarda moss. He didn’t notice him at all.
“It’s coming out excellent, Lynx. Well then, the pattern is going nicely. There’s a difference now that my legs are healed. Life’s getting good now.
Lynx’s eyes opened suddenly, and he stared directly at Sieg. He kept on staring at Sieg.
“Specialized-type advanced potion.”
There were no signs of Lynx during the negotiations between Mariela and the Black Iron Transport Corps. No captains would be notified except for Captain Dick and Vice-Captain Marlowe. How come Lynx was here then?
“Sieg, what are you doing?”
Lynx glared at Sieg because Sieg’s anxious worries had disturbed him.
“I caught a bear, idiot. Was it fun to wash clothes earlier? You could easily sniff Mariela’s scent remaining in her clothes.” (Tler note: Really, Lynx? You dip*****)
Sieg rushed to the corner room on the second floor where Mariela was. Using detection magic, he examined Mariela’s magical power. It should be fine, he remarked to himself, everything is proper. There aren’t any suspicious reactions.
“You can’t do anything even if you noticed anything wrong. Are your fighting skills up to par?”
“My eye… I lost my eye, my bow…”
Flustered, Sieg made excuses. Lynx sighed; then, with a sudden “ha~”, he grabbed Sieg’s chest and punched it.
“What are you going to do?” Lynx mocked.
He spoke in a timid imitation of Sieg. “Mariela, I’m going to use an unusual technique on you to assure your safety. Have you ever seen such a rare technique? You’re making a special potion; are you sure it’s safe? If you feel it’s dangerous, you have to escape until you’re not within the range of an explosion.”
Lynx got down on his knees.
“What! Are you a goddess? Are you the savior of my life?”
He stood up and raised his voice’s pitch. “I’m just one of them, try to catch a good glimpse of me. I’m just a darling girl, easily caught in a shoe hanger and displayed. What do I do if my secret is leaked out? People always target me.”
Lynx turned serious, staring at Sieg’s eyes. “Do you think your savior Messiah Mariela will help? You’re wrong. It’s your job. ‘With one eye, the bow does not shoot.’ Idiot. You’re not an escort with a bow. You might have to use another weapon. You can move, right? You’re right-handed. I think I got these with a valuable monster skin.” (Tler note: this is Lynx, at first it was confusing, but Lynx is saying everything)
Dun! The sound of Sieg’s chest being punched by Lynx’s fist echoed around them. A pair of daggers flicked into Lynx’s hands.
“I’m lending these to you. Don’t let them be wasted. Practice till you can use them. There isn’t a single soldier in this town, and look at how many people have died. Bloody street fights are also common around these parts. You’re so spoiled!”
After forcibly passing the daggers to Sieg, Lynx disappeared through the back door.
(I-I-I was wrong again…)
He had thought of Mariela as the ‘special Lord’, a wonderful Lord, the manifestation of miracles. No, he had dreamt of ‘the special, fortunate Sieg who had met a special Lord and would have a glorious future.’ Although Mariela was special and powerful, she was still only an innocent girl.
Although Sieg paid the price for stupidity, he could not have grown up at all without it.
( However, I’ve learned better. Lynx taught me.)
Grasping the dagger’s hilt tightly, he decided that no matter what happened, protecting Mariela, who had given him everything, was the most important thing.
Sieg took a step forward and confidently strode out of the room.