I have only been in Uthaira for thirty minutes and I do believe Two-Twelve was right. I don’t know how long I am going to be able to maintain this form with women giving me looks of pure disgust. That Bryson of Two-Twelve’s is probably enjoying my entourage right now, and I can’t even get a single one of these women to acknowledge my existence.
I guess that means I need to just get this done and over with as quickly as possible. Gaining attention in the adventurer’s guild is out of the question because even if my name is different, when my level appears on an adventurer’s ID it will give away too much information.
Perhaps I would have better luck with the army. I could quickly beat down a few of the trainers and maybe that will get my foot in the castle doors. I could just bust right though, but I don’t want to alert Laura any sooner than I have to.
That is when I see it… This should work much better. Is that technique really even passible here in Uthaira? Well she looks awfully proud of herself, now she just has to lead me back to the lot of them and I might be able to get the information I require on the first day.
This girl really is oblivious, I am not even masking my presence and she doesn’t realize I am following her. After a couple of alleyways we arrive at her destination. She finally stops to check her spoils, pulling the string on my coin pouch.
“I think you got something that belongs to me.”
The girl quickly panics dropping the coin purse scattering gold coins and several gems all over the ground. She doesn’t look like she knows what to do next, to grab for the coins or just run, but she is kind of cute.
Far too young for my entourage but I always have to be on the lookout for upcoming talent. A few human years is nothing in the life of a dungeon core, so she isn’t the youngest that I have seen promise in and scooped up to hold onto for future use.
If this pans out and I don’t have to waste too much time chasing down Laura, and the others. I might just come back for this little rose bud.
“Don’t just stand there, it isn’t going to pick itself up off the ground, and every coin better be there when you give it back.”
The girl looks quite terrified now and quickly starts scooping up the coins and gems putting them back in the coin pouch… Now what does this idiot think he is doing? You’re no knight in shining armor saving the young damsel, she stole from me you know?
I don’t know what he is trying to do, but I have taken shorter naps then the time it is taking him to swing that thing at the back of my head… Finally! I grab the stick being swung at my head and try to flip the boy over, but he doesn’t even have enough of a grip on the stick to do that and I end up just yanking it from his hands.
“That wasn’t very smart, now was it?”
I quickly turn swinging the stick breaking it and the boys leg in a single swing. The boy screams out in excruciating pain while the girl freezes again and calls out. “Markus!?”
She then drops the coin pouch and everything else as she runs up to the boy. Holding a position between me and him with tears in her eyes and arms stretched out… It’s that kind of situation is it? Street kids taking care of one another while the older ones look after the younger ones?
“If you don’t want me to break his other leg, you better return all the gold you stole from me.”
Girl: “You leave him alone! What did he ever do to you?!”
“Well you seen what that stick did to his leg, it sure as hell wouldn’t of done my head a whole lot a good now would it?”
Markus: “Nina, just run!”
“Oh what a cliché, I have seen this to many times it isn’t even fun anymore. How many of you brats are there?” –I say while casting a spell gathering all my scattered items back into my coin pouch and the coin pouch returns to my waistband.-
Nina: “It’s just the two of us! Now you got your stuff back, just leave us alone!”
“So the other one trying to sneak up behind me isn’t with you, so you wouldn’t mind if I snap his neck instead of his leg?”
Nina: “Corey no!”
“I don’t have time for a bunch of snot nose kids, now is this all of you?” –I say while casting [Blink] appearing behind the boy who was trying to sneak up behind me picking him off the ground with my hand around his neck.”
Nina: “Yes it is just us three! Please! Don’t hurt Corey!”
The boy in my grasp flails about but he is even smaller than the girl is. I then toss the boy to the ground in front of the other two.
“I was hoping for a bit more, no mentor or parental figure at all? No wonder you are so bad at stealing. You better get that leg of his taken care of, or he won’t last a few days.”
Nina: “You have magic! Can’t you fix it?!”
“He attacked me. No reason for me to help him then is there? Now if it is a trade you are talking about, how about his life for yours?”
Nina: “Corey and I can’t make it without you, mister will you really fix his leg if I accept?”
“I will even give the boy enough gold to cover what a contract on a girl like you would cost.”
Markus: “Nina you can’t!”
Nina: “Fine, I’ll do it… Just fix his leg!”
I cast a quick healing spell on the boy mending the broken leg. I then take out a handful of coins tossing them on the ground in front of them.
“Now I am quite busy, so I will give you some time to say your goodbyes, but when I am ready for you I will find you. You can try to run or hide, but I will find you when I am done. Just don’t go doing anything stupid until I come for you or I will break both of their necks.”
I cast a spell marking the girl’s shoulder with an invisible rune, and then walk from the alleyway back onto the main street. That was a bit of a bust, and it will take a few years before that investment pays off, but it is sure to be a pretty good one. Now, I have to find another way…
After walking the streets for another half hour I still don’t like the way women are looking at me… Even back in the old days a suit of mythril armor meant something, you could look like the ass of a dog and the women would still hang off of you if you are wearing mythril armor.
Maybe this Shima stuff just is too uncommon and the peasants don’t know what quality looks like. I can’t stand the looks any longer so I decide to grab a drink retiring to a tavern. Even when sliding the bar maid 3 extra gold coins she still gave me the stink eye and left in quite a hurry.
That Byson guy better be enjoying himself, he has to be on round two by now. I know I am the one that said he would have to be me in all aspects while I was gone, but the thought of another man taking my women while I am here drinking this swill is making me want to just march into the castle and kill Laura right then and there.
The more I think about it the more I drink, the more I drink the more I think of what would go good with this alcohol, and that only restarts the cycle over again. One disadvantage about my level and skills is I have not been properly drunk in ages, and today is no different even after drinking enough alcohol to drown a dwarf.
The bar maid finally cuts me off but not due to being drunk, but because she says they need to save some alcohol for the rest of the customers. After relieving myself for the, I don’t know how manyith of times, I prepare to set out of the bar only to see a pair of young boys hastily enter the tavern.
They are about to be thrown out but they see me, start pointing at me, and ranting. The bar maid then asks me if I know these boys.
Markus: “Mister you have to help! They took Nina!”
“What makes you think I would help you?”
Markus: “Well… You said Nina is yours now right? Doesn’t that mean you will try to get her back?”
“She is proving to be far more trouble than she is worth, but there is a point to be made if someone tries to steal my property. Tell me, who took her?”
The two boys look at each other questionably and a little worried as if they don’t know how to answer.
“You attempted to use the money I paid to purchase her to run away?”
Corey: “They took our money, and Nina, but they then tossed us out of the wagon and rode off!”
“I did say you could try to run and hide, so I can’t blame you there, but I also said if she did something stupid I would break both of your necks. A few street urchins hiring smugglers isn’t what I would call smart. If my property is damaged you can guarantee I will hold true to my promise.”
The two boys look exceedingly worried, while I cast a spell to locate my property. The mark I placed on her will lead me to her where ever she goes, so it isn’t hard to find out where she is. I can’t say I know Uthaira like the back of my hand, but I do know its general layout, and if I had to guess she is currently not moving within the slave trade district.
Not how I planned to spend my evening, but I won’t stand for someone taking something that is mine, so I set out after the girl. For some reason the two boys are following me. They don’t seem to realize I am going to take this sister of theirs just like the smugglers did.
Maybe because I told them to say their goodbyes and walked off that they didn’t believe I would actually come back for her, but their whole basis of getting me to recover her is on the fact I now own her, so I can’t understand their way of thinking.
Once I reach the slave trader I find quite a few more promising prospects along with my property all chained together on display.
Markus: “Nina!” –He screams running for the girl, but a man hits him with wooden rod knocking him to the floor.-
Slaver: “Get lost boy!”
Markus: “You can’t take her!”
Slaver: “She is a thief, and thieves naturally end up in chains.”
“I take that to mean you don’t mind me putting you in chains as well?”
Slaver: “And who are you supposed to be?!”
“The one that you stole her from.”
Slaver: “She had no collar, and had far more gold then some street kid could possibly get without stealing, so she was fair game!”
“The gold she had, was the gold I used to purchase her from her siblings, and I have no need for a collar, as I have her marked.” –I say casting a spell causing a bright emblem to glow on the girl’s shoulder.-
Slaver: “I don’t know where you are from, but something like that is no proof of ownership, now you show me her contract and she is yours.”
“I have no need for such things as whatever I want becomes mine, and those who try to argue that fact, will only question me once.”
The slaver whistles calling a few brutish looking men. “Now, if you want the girl I will sell her to you, but if you cause any more problems I will have you tossed out by your ears!”
I can’t go too overboard as to not arouse suspicion giving away who I am, so I try to hold back as much as possible to deal with this thief. I draw my blade from my sheath and simply state. “You have been warned.”
Slaver: “You! Go call the guards, and the rest of you deal with this fool, but leave enough of him left for the guards to deal with.”
One of the brutish looking men stomps off, while four more of them surround me. These guys might be as ugly as a couple of orcs, but their strength is not even that of the weakest of orcs. One swings a club at me and I simple grab the end of it stopping the man in his tracks.
I do the same motion I did with the boy earlier jerking on the end of the club, but this man has a far better grip as I swing him around tossing him into another of the ugly men. The two remaining men try to flank me hitting me from either side.
Even while refraining from using any skills or techniques I still slice both men’s hands off at the wrists before they even come close to hitting me, and they both hit the ground screaming. It’s at this point the man that went for the guards returns.
If there is one thing Uthaira has going for it, it is its military force. Two guards appear following the man wearing heavy armor complete with helmets made from enhanced dark steel, and behind them are two steel golems the size of an ogre.
Slaver: “You really stepped in it now! Guards! That is the man! He is trying to steal slaves!”
Guard: “Don’t worry Duke Emerret, we will take care of this! You there stand down, and face the consequences or by the order of King Aaron your life is forfeit!”
“A duke? Now this changes things.” –I say while sheathing my sword.- “I didn’t know you were a duke, maybe we can reach an agreement then? You return my girl to me, and I will buy those three as well.” –I say motioning to 3 other slaves as well.-
Duke Emerret: “You think you can threaten me like that and just brush it off?! The guards can deal with you.”
I sigh. “I wanted to avoid drawing to much attention to myself.” –I say drawing my sword again.- “If we must…”
The guards send the two golems forward as they draw their own swords. The mythril sword as we good call, anything less than that would have been unable to cause much damage to these golems before breaking, but I still try to hold back by only taking out one of the golems by slicing it clean in two.
Guard: “One swing?! Who is this guy?”
“I told you I don’t want any trouble, I just ask the Duke there to return my property to me.”
The guards don’t back down, but they are not stupid either. “Duke Emerret, is it possible this is just a misunderstanding?”
Duke Emerret: “Are you saying you will take his word over mine?!”
Guard: “He offered to buy 3 of the other slaves as well, surely you can return the girl to him and sell him the other 3 and still make a hefty profit.”
Duke Emerret: “And what of the damage to my men?!”
“Call it occupational hazard.”
Duke Emerret: “The law states if you challenge a Duke then your property is forfeit, so even if the girl was his the moment he drew his blade his possessions became mine!”
Guard: “That is only if the Duke himself is within the law.”
Duke Emerret: “I am the law!”
Guard: “This is a grey area, and we would need to consult the guard captain…”
“It seems they are the smarter ones and do not wish to die. Now normally I would not forgive those who cause me to have to draw my blade, but the situation dictates you could still prove beneficial for me. My offer however has changed, now you return my property, give me one more of the women for my troubles, and I will buy the remaining 2.”
Duke Emerret: “You can’t do this to me! Where are you two going! –He calls out as the guards start to leave.-
Guard: “We told you we will have to take this up with the guard captain.”
Duke Emerret: “You can’t just leave me with him!” –He says as the guards disappear from sight.-
“Looks like it is just us now.”
Duke Emerret: “Fine you can have the girl, take her and get out of here!”
“It is far from that simple any more. The truth is I am a little busy at the moment, but perhaps you are just the help I need. What exactly is it you do Duke Emerret?”
Duke Emerret: “I manage the slave trading in Southern Merretta…” –He says nervously.-
“All of the slave trading?”
Duke Emerret: “I have my own business, but yes I oversee all the registered slave traders as well.”
I know once the guards left they were sure to get reinforcements, and the duke is now stalling in hopes the guards return, but it makes no difference.
“What of the castle, do you deal with slaves to or from the castle itself?”
Duke Emerret: “The castle?!”
“Yes, I wish to offer my services to the king personally, but being new to town makes knowing the right person pivotal in that step.”
Duke Emerret: “King Aaron is very particular, and even I must speak though several representatives when buying or selling directly to the castle.”
“Then you can at least place me in connect with one of them yes?”
Markus: “What about our sister?!”
“Well I am sure the duke will take good care of her until I am ready to collect her isn’t that right?”
Duke Emerret nervously chuckles and bobs his head. “I don’t know what you expect me to do, even if I could get you a meeting with one of the castle representatives, I couldn’t guarantee what would come from it.”
Markus: “What about us?!”
“You are the ones that pissed away the chance to say your goodbyes by trying to run away instead.” –I say to the boy and then I look back to the duke.- “Of course, I will take care of the rest from there, and you will take care of the girl until my business in Uthaira is done, and I will even compensate you accordingly.”
Duke Emerret: “I can’t just send anyone to the castle.”
I open my coin pouch and dump a handful of gold coins into his hands. “Now that should be plenty for the three girls I mentioned and for you to care for all four until I am done, and I will give the same amount for your assistance in introducing me to your castle representative.”
The Duke’s eyes dart to the sword on my waist, but he steels himself and says. “Double it and you have a deal…”
“See that wasn’t so hard was it?” –I say dumping enough coins into his hands that they start to pour out of his hands landing on the ground as well.-
The Duke quickly shoves the coins in his own coin pouch and pulls a slave over to pick the coins that hit the floor. The guards have now returned with at least half a dozen more men and likewise more golems.
The Duke seems to eye my sword again while looking at the guards. He seems to be weighing his options of accepting the deal we just made or hoping the guards can take me so he can take it all.
“I assure you that is still nowhere enough men to cause me any problems.”
Duke Emerret: “Stand down! We came to an arrangement!”
Guard: “Duke are you sure…?”
After eyeing the sword again he says loudly. “Yes I am sure.”
“Good choice, after all, if these slaves of yours are any indication of your normal stock, this arrangement could prove most beneficial for you in the future as well.”
The guards hang around for a while to ensure the Duke is alright, while we workout the finer details. The two boys have really seemed to give up hope now, begging me to not let the duke take their sister. The older one might be a bit of a problem but Tom cares for all the young slaves I take in until I am ready for them. Perhaps he would be interested in at least the younger boy as well.
“Fine, if you wish to stay with your sister, I will at least allow it until my business is concluded. After that we will just have to see how it goes.” –After looking to the Duke I say.- “That shouldn’t be a problem should it?”
Duke Emerret: “They will be dealt with in the same manner as the others.”
“That will be fine. Now, I will take the other two older women for this evening, and then return them in the morning when we are to meet with your representative. Once my business is concluded at the castle I will take all of them off your hands and pay you the remaining amount I owe you.”
Markus: “Wait! This wasn’t the agreement!” –He says while him and the other boy both have collars slapped on their necks by a few of the dukes guards.-
“Do you wish to stay with her or not?”
Nina: “Markus just go!”
Corey: “We are not leaving you here!”
Markus: “You promise we will be safe?”
“At least for now.”
Markus: “And we can stay with Nina?”
“For a while at least.”
Nina: “It’s not worth it!”
Corey: “We don’t have any other choice…”
I give the Duke a bit of extra gold for dealing with the boys as well, and take older two females that I purchased from him and make for the inn. I am to meet with his representative at the castle tomorrow, but that doesn’t mean I can’t keep myself occupied till then.
The women are not as enthusiastic as most of the women that join my entourage but until I can be done with this ring it is at least something. One of the two even turned out to be a fresh slave, and the other wasn’t even properly broken in so they turned out far better than I had hoped.
They also don’t try to slit my throat in the middle of the night, so even if with this ring on, I don’t have the looks, but at least I still have the touch. Either that or after the third or fourth hour they just no longer had the energy to attempt it.
I am feeling quite refreshed come morning and even manage to get one more session in with them both before having to meet the duke, and by the time we have to leave they are already begging to stay.
“There will be plenty of opportunities in the future, now I must get to work.”
After returning to the Duke’s place of business and returning the girls, I have to promise the girls I will return for them when my business is done, and the Duke looks at me quite impressed as we make our way towards the castle.
Duke Emerret: “How did you manage to get them so enamored to you in a single night…?”
“There are those that have the touch, and those who do not, and I just so happen to be very good at what I do.”
Duke Emerret: “You used magic to mark that slave, and that armor of yours is quite peculiar, you used some kind of foreign magic didn’t you?”
“I have never, and will I never use magic to make a woman mine, and I find that insinuation to be the greatest of insults. You could even say under the circumstances in spite of magic I still managed to enthrall them without fail.”
Afraid to insult me further the duke doesn’t say anything else, but he seems quite skeptical as we continue on our way. Once we reach the castle there is a young woman the approaches the Duke. She is only a 1 so I have little use for her with her feline like ears and tail. It is quite a shame really without them she could easily be a 3.
Beastkin woman: “Duke Emerret! This is quite the surprise we were not expecting you for another week, and it seems you brought quite an unusual guest this time.”
Duke Emerret: “As promised, I brought you this far.” –He says to me.-
I take a small bag of gold I had prepared for the duke and hand it over to him. “Very well, and I will return for my property when I am done.”
The duke takes the gold and bows to the beastkin woman before leaving. I find it rather strange a duke would be bowing to a servant in the castle, but Laura made that beastkin of hers someone important in the kingdom, so maybe this beastkin outranks the duke as well.
Beastkin Woman: “If Duke Emerret thinks he can just bring his customers here because they pay him he has another thing coming, and I don’t have time to suit his customer’s curiosities.”
“I assure you I wish to join in the service of the king, and Duke Emerret was just helping me get my foot in the door.”
Beastkin Woman: “King Aaron thinks rather highly of beastkin, and even made me grand marshal after the last fell in battle, and I can tell just by the way you look at me you would not fit in around here.”
“I heard about poor Listel, a terrible tragedy that, and no I might not think highly about taking a beastkin to my bed chamber, but that is hardly my objective here. As a race I do not think them inferior to humans, only in the bedroom.”
Beastkin Woman: “You sound worse than Duke Emerret.”
“I assure you I can offer the king much if he allows me to join in his services.”
Beastkin Woman: “To get Duke Emerret’s attention you must either have a great deal of wealth or a great deal of power, so I don’t know about service of the king, but we might be able to find a use for you.”
“If it leads me to be of service to King Aaron, then I would gladly accept.”
Beastkin Woman: “You haven’t even heard of what I would wish of you.”
“In the matters of wealth or power I have both, so I am confident in my abilities.”
Beastkin Woman: “Very well then…” –She seems to be hesitating now, but I know it is because she seems to be sending a message with [Menu]– “ If you wish to be service to King Aaron, then we ask of you to head to Merretta and deal with his brother.”
“That would be near impossible for about anyone, and besides what happened to King Aaron’s passive king stance? Besides I seriously doubt you would request something like that to some random stranger even if it was the King’s wish.”
Beastkin Woman: “You might not be as entirely dumb as you seem. Very well, what about a local dungeon that has been causing problems for the kingdom as of late. Deal with it yourself or pay to have it taken care of it matters not, but it needs to be eliminated.”
“That sounds like something for the adventurer’s guild, but if it helps me get one step further in the door I will consider it if you tell exactly which dungeon it is you wish to have eliminated.”
Beastkin Woman: “The dungeon is just outside of Southern Merretta in Merretta, but the damage being caused is in Southern Merretta. Of course with the situation with King Aaron and his father sending his own agents would be quite difficult, but someone acting on their own could manage it.”
“You don’t happen to mean the dungeon in the Water Wells of Kerinog would you…?”
Beastkin Woman: “For someone presenting themselves as a foreigner you seem to know a great deal.”
“I came all this way because I believe in what King Aaron is doing, so of course I learned as much about him, his kingdom, and of course that left me with quite a bit of information about his father’s kingdom as well. I will do what you ask, but I must say in dealing with a dungeon such as the Water Wells of Kerinog this best get me an audience with King Aaron himself.”
Beastkin Woman: “You are hardly in the position give demands, but as the destruction of this dungeon is high in the list of King Aaron’s priorities, I believe he would be willing to meet the one that destroys it, face to face to thank them personally.”
“I bet he would…” –The beastkin woman then eyes me suspiciously so I continue by saying. “That is to say to deal with a dungeon that is causing the king so much stress without having to deal with the ramifications of causing harm to a dungeon in another kingdom. I could see why he could be grateful indeed.”
Beastkin Woman: “If you wish to be of service to the King then that is how you can do it, if you are unable to complete the task don’t bother trying to contact me again.”
I am not one for bowing, especially to a beastkin, but the situation dictates it would be beneficial at the moment, so before the beastkin woman parts I bow to her. Now that the beastkin woman retreats back into the castle I am left with my thoughts.
After all this time why go after Llewelyn now…? I could see why the king might want to do away with his competition for Laura’s affection, but I see no reason for Laura to wish for Llewelyn’s death. Even if this is just the king’s idea and not Laura’s, it should at least get me closer to the king and in turn Laura, so it shouldn’t be much of a problem.
Now the big question is, should I take care of Llewelyn or not…?