chapter 16

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Despite the absurdity of the situation, Brom had no idea how much danger he was actually in. Despite losing all of his levels and being weaker than most ordinary people, Hadjar was still a threat. His mastery of the blade couldn’t be taken away. He was still ‘One with the Sword.’
And yet, Hadjar just lifted the blade in a ridiculous manner, almost cutting his own thigh in the process.
This elicited another bout of laughter from everyone.
“Stupid freak!” Brom said derisively.
He took his sword back from the ‘enemy’ and sent Hadjar back to the ground with a light push to his chest.
Hadjar, however, didn’t care and just kept looking at the now inedible meat forlornly. It was silly, but his humiliation really didn’t matter to him right then. He was more interested in sating his hunger. He would have plenty of time to add Brom’s name to his ‘list’ later.
“I want to…’” The mercenary swung his blade, but the owner caught his hand in time.
He was a handsome man in his thirties. He had red hair, arranged into several braids. He wore light leather armor and his boots were polished to a shine.
“Think twice, mercenary, before you ruin my property.” The practitioner that had reached a high level of the Bodily Rivers said and pinned him with his almost black eyes. The look was so menacing that the man just froze. The sound of laughter suddenly stopped filling the meadow. The music cut off abruptly. It was as if everyone was holding their breath, waiting to see what would happen.
“Sorry, Darnan,” Brom mumbled apologetically, looking down.
He pulled his hand back and, literally spitting out insults, went back over to his giggling colleagues. Once he returned, he smacked someone loudly, then yelled at someone else, but no one was really paying any attention to him anymore.
Stepha was standing next to Darnan, who, according to some rumors, had once been an officer in the army. Her beautiful face was framed by her silky brown hair, bound with two jade hairpins. Those were her entire fortune. A strong gust of wind snatched several ‘fortune telling cards’ from her hands.
They floated around for a while, then one card landed on Hadjar’s knee. It had the image of a squirming dragon on it.
“Look, Hadjar,” Stepha whispered, helping her friend up and collecting her scattered cards. “It says that fate has something new in store for you.”
“Go into the tent, slave,” Darnan commanded in a steely tone of voice.
The tent was always placed between the owner’s and Stepha’s wagons. The circus performers rehearsed there, held meetings to discuss various issues and divided up the money. A strange young woman was sitting at a folding wooden table in the tent as he came in.
She’d covered herself with a red cloak and her face wasn’t visible to him, but Hadjar already knew, based on the shape of her figure alone, that she was beautiful; incredibly, abnormally gorgeous, in fact. She had the kind of beauty a woman could only attain after studying techniques for seducing and enthralling others.
[Warning! The host has entered the zone of influence of an aura that affects his perception!]She probably hadn’t tried to seduce the freak. Her aura was probably a sort of passive, magical one. And since Hadjar lacked even the resistance that non-practitioners possessed, he’d easily fallen under her spell.
“Is your name Hadjar, slave?”
“Yes, Milady,” Hadjar groaned out, his chest still aching from the blow he’d received earlier. It had felt like a blow to him, at least.
“Play for me.”
Darnan handed him the instrument quite carefully. It seemed like he was afraid of accidentally touching the ulcers or scabs covering the skin of his ‘property.’
Hadjar took the Ron’Jah with a bow. He asked for permission to sit down on a chair, adjusted the pegs, and played as if his life depended on it. The fact it was true only made it easier to do so.
He ended up not playing for long, only about five minutes.
The stranger stopped him with an authoritative wave of her hand.
“I agree to your price, Darnan.”
Saying that she placed a leather pouch on the table. From what he could see, it had no less than forty gold inside it. Wow, Hadjar’s worth had increased eightfold in the past five years. 
“Take off his collar.”
“Are you sure, Senta?”
Senta waved her hand vaguely in response.
“If I can’t protect myself from a cripple,” she said. “My development has been for nothing.”
Darnan just shrugged in response. He made a quick gesture with his hand, folded his fingers into some odd positions and the collar clicked open. The former owner didn’t dare approach Hadjar. Stepha had to take off his chains for him.
“Goodbye, Hadjar,” she whispered in his ear.
Surprisingly, he detected a hint of sadness in Stepha’s voice. Although, it’s possible he’d just imagined it. But he had no time to dwell on that. He breathed in deeply, marveling at how much tastier the air had become. And while it may seem that nothing had changed, that he’d only regained a bit of freedom, that sliver was enough to change his perception of reality.
In any case, he now felt more comfortable breathing. 
“Let’s go,” the woman, still wrapped up in her scarlet cloak, exited the tent.
Hadjar ‘hurried’ after her, hobbling along on his sticks. He cast a farewell glance at the circus troupe with which he’d spent the past five years of his life, touring half the Kingdom. They hadn’t been the happiest years, but they were still better than what living in prison would’ve been like.
Before running off into the night, he threw one last glance at Brom. As if he’d sensed something, Brom turned, then paled and grabbed his sword. But it was too late, the strange creature with the creepy eyes had already disappeared into the darkness.
“Don’t you want to know where we’re going?
Hadjar could’ve asked her, but he’d known from the start that he was being purchased for a brothel. And no, not for the sake of pleasuring perverts there. He’d been bought solely because he was an outstanding musician.
“I’m afraid it might all be a dream.”
“It’s not. I’ll take you to the ‘Innocent Meadow’ and you’ll see for yourself,” Senta said.
They approached the wagon, which was drawn by tall, gray stallions.
“Are… are these stallions at the Awakening of Power level?!”
“The fifth stage.”
Hadjar couldn’t utter a word in response. His troupe also had stallions at the Awakening of Power level, but they were only at the first stage. Even then, they could go up to 25 miles per hour and gallop for almost three hours straight.
That was the answer to something Hadjar had wondered over for a long time—how armies and ordinary people managed to cross vast distances. It was apparently possible because there were horses in this world that could be ten times faster than the most sophisticated of sports cars.
Like other animals, the horses could also absorb energy. And they could evolve as follows—first, the simple (or wild) horse. Then a horse would reach the Awakening of Power level, then the Awakening of Mind, then, finally, the Leader. But Hadjar didn’t even want to try and imagine the value of a stallion at the Leader rank.
“But first, we will have to clean you up,” Senta, the mistress of the brothel, said hoarsely, clutching her nose and not even trying to hide it. 
It was her that Hadjar had noticed in the crowd while playing music in the square. In every city, he looked for the owners of brothels, restaurants, taverns, and hotels. And every time, he made sure to play music that, hopefully, would make them want to buy him, despite his appearance.
“Please let me know, Honorable Senta, how much did you pay for me?”
The mistress of ‘Innocent Meadow’ sat down next to him and took the reins in her hands. She calmly responded:
“Seventy gold coins, Hadjar.”
By the demons and gods!
“Now you have to work hard to pay me back.”

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michelle
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michelle

Well he was a Prince.

Creed
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Creed

hmm i wanted to like this story but im just not masochistic enough for it it seems. Had it took maybe 5-10 chapters to get back to the prologue i would have reveled in the chance to see him begin his revenge but its obvious that its going to take much more torture for the MC to get there after all he still has his legs which were cut off in the prologue so unfortunately ill be dropping it