Chapter 5 ~ Beastmaster
The shop is quite clean and brightly lit. The slaves are either standing by their own in platforms or part of differently sized groups on the floor, depending on their price, rarity, and intended use.
Should I praise the demon country for outlawing slave hunters? All those here have fallen into slavery as the result of a court’s decision, which sounds fairly civilized on the surface, but the truth is that powerful enough nobles have free reign to raise false charges against commoners they wish to see in chains for whatever reason. Come think about it, civilization and ethics are not necessarily bed partners, as there were plenty of cases of corrupt governments back on Earth, too.
Anyway, this all means that there’s a wide variety of slaves in the market, ranging from hardened criminals destined to become combat or heavy work slaves, to attractive youngsters who fell into slavery at the whim of some noble, and have already been paid for. Their presence in the sales floor is actually nothing but a sham to fulfill the requisites of the law, and after a few days, they will be quietly shipped off to their future master’s (bedrooms).
Of course, if a big enough noble shows an interest in them, they will be sold anyway, but snatching someone else’s prey is considered in poor taste, so it hardly ever happens.
Our case is, relative to those more lecherous nobles, quite ‘honest’ however, as we are genuinely browsing for a criminal slave with the right skills to learn about the flora and fauna of my domain. As such, it would be ideal if a scholarly type was available, but I very much doubt that a development as convenient as ‘a clumsy and beautiful young scholar with round spectacles and big breasts having fallen into slavery due to a misunderstanding’ will show itself.
“Eh, what are those things on her face?” – Stella’s voice makes me turn around, and I almost tripped over myself as I see a scholarly-type, young elf with large breasts and round spectacles on her face, standing on top of a platform while customers pass by, assuming she’s likely to be some important noble’s ‘prey.’
Upon asking, it turns out she’s a merchant who fell into slavery after she was found guilty of tax evasion, so there is no Deus Ex Machina conveniently waiting for me. Further conversation with the slave merchant leads to the man making a weird face that looks like he wants to say something but doesn’t quite dare to…
“What is it?”
“Well… I do have an individual that happens to fulfill your majesty’s requisites, but…” – he looks like he swallowed something sour
“You do? A user of [Primal Magic] who is used to working with farm animals, eager to learn about new species, and all-around knowledgeable about the proper care necessary for breeding them? Really?”
“…i-indeed. It’s… a gnome druid.”
“O-ho? That sounds quite promising, bring. Bring him out, then!”
“Well, as you already know,. He’s good at handling farm animals, loves learning about new species, and is well-versed on the breeding of various species, but as for his character…” – the merchant is actively avoiding eye contact now
Well, of course, a man who had fallen into slavery ‘normally’ would be a criminal, right? So of course, you cannot expect him to be a virtuous individual. It shouldn’t be a problem, though, since the slave collar cannot be removed except by a court of justice, and escape is pretty much impossible, plus we are going out into the wilderness, so a druid would be an excellent asset. No, I dare say that this gnome would be an invaluable asset for our expedition.
“Just bring him out already.”
“Ah, yes, your highness.”
The merchant leaves our side and goes back into the warehouse area, then comes back with a surprisingly meek-looking gnome in tow. The gnome is dressed in dirty furs that doubtlessly used to be the dignified robes of a powerful druid at one point. Of course, there’s a slave collar around his neck.
Also, he’s covered in bruises and has two black eyes. His eyelids are swollen, and I can just barely see his eyes at all. His nose is broken towards the left, and he’s almost a cartoon depiction of someone who just took a beating or two.
“This is the gnome, your highness.”
“I figured.” – I reply, then address the druid – “You, are you well enough to answer a few questions?”
“H- yes, your hi-ghness.” – he makes a whistling sound, as air escapes through a broken tooth when he talks
“I’ve been told you are a druid who is well versed in the breeding of animals?”
“H- …yes, your hin-gness.”
“Are you good at handling farm animals? What about more exotic creatures?”
“H- yes, your higness. I truly enjoy c-um-ming into new species.”
“How about fish, or lizards, do you have any interest in swampland creatures?”
“H- I ‘ad never thought o’ that, your highness. Ah-m already getting excited at the thought!”
“I see… I guess you’re the gnome we’re looking for, then.”
The merchant makes a clearly relieved expression and sells the gnome to me, dirt cheap. I guess it’s good to be the prince. At my request, his magic-null cuffs are removed, and he quickly loses no time casting a low-level version of [Nature’s Blessing] so his wounds start healing as we walk.
Pretty soon, his tooth has grown back, his eyes are no longer swollen, and his nose is straight once again. Well, as straight as it gets for a gnome, since they do tend to have chubby, fat noses to them.
“I did not even ask, what is your name?”
“Ragashi. Your highness.”
“I am Asmund, but you will address me as ‘my prince’ or ‘my master’ from now on. These are Kalkah, my personal maid, and Stella, my captain of the guard.” – I reply, signaling to each beauty in turn
“Honored to serve you, my prince.”
The merchant comes over with Ragashi’s documents and hands them over to Kalkah by my side.
“What was he enslaved for, anyway?” – I ask the merchant before we leave.
I mean, I don’t really care if he’s a murdered or whatever. The slave collar makes it impossible for him to use violence or attempt to escape, anyway, but I guess it’s better to know than it is not to. Come think about it, I was so elated at having found someone who so perfectly met my needs, I didn’t even ask.
The merchant hesitates before replying, so I gesture for him to talk.
“He was found guilty of bestiality with his animal companion.”
I can almost hear Stella stiffening up behind me.
“…well, I can’t say I approve of his tastes, but druids can communicate with the animals and plants they grant sentience to, so…”
“It was just a regular bear.”
Kalkah just dropped Ragashi’s documents
“The relationship between a gnome and his bear is nobody else’s business!” – cries out Ragashi from the side
“It wasn’t even a female bear!” – replies the merchant, disgust dripping in every word
Just how many natural laws did this druid break in one go!? No, wait, we’re talking about a druid here, one of those types that normally isolate themselves with nature, live with nature, love nature, and become one with nature. Yup, I am fantastic at lying to myself. After all, in this world, magic is real, mountains and rivers have their own spirits, and druids…
“I can’t forgive his tastes, but well… living alone on the woods for years…” – I start
“He lived just outside of town.” – comments the merchant
“Alone with nature, no companionship but that of his animal…”
“He is a regular at a bar in that area.”
“And the ability to shapeshift into the form of other creatures. For such an individual to lose track of his own true self, and believe himself to be a bear after spending months as one…”
“He wasn’t even in bear shape!” – cries the merchant
Stella coughs out blood behind me, trying her best to not bend over in revulsion, while Kalkah just face palmed, hard.
“J-just… beat the crap out of him, Stella.”
“Yes, my prince!” – she replies enthusiastically
“E-eh!? My prince, hold o- ah! Hn! WH-ahggh!” – Ragashi starts to protest, but Stella doesn’t give him time to finish saying whatever he was about say.
It’s alright, it’s alright. I need this gnome, this filthy, filthy gnome. Yes, deep breaths, there’s no problem, I was gonna have Stella beat him up later anyway so he’d learned not to cause trouble along the way, it’s all according to plan.
I look at the slave merchant.
And so, we leave the slave market with a blue and black Ragashi limping at the end of the line, when I am reminded he said he was looking forth to cumming into new spe- Ah, I almost had Stella beat him again. Let’s ignore it, let’s ignore it.
“We’re leaving for the east in a couple of weeks.” – I inform the gnome without turning to look at him
“H- yes, my pwince.”
“Until then, you’ll be sleeping in the stabl- uhm… I can count on you not to make a move on the animals at the stable?”
“H- Of course, my pwince. Ah have no interest in the tame ones…”
“I hope that means I won’t have to learn you are assaulting horses and chickens. And you’ll hope Stella won’t have to learn about it, either.”
“H- r-right, my pwince.”
Well, I wanted a caster of [Primal Magic] that was good at handling animals and knowledgeable about the breeding of other species.
Why do I feel this disgusting gnome isn’t the only pervert I will have to deal with in the nearby future?
Author’s note: I spent a couple of days debating whether it would be better to add a cute elf girl to the harem, or some comedic relief. Now you know which one I went with.