I was walking down a little out-of-the-way street in the market. This is where there are ‘contractors for curse-slaves’… popularly called 〈The Curse-Slave Market〉, the place for professional dealers. There were those in cells like in prisons, while there were those sitting with the shopkeeper like normal people.
Also…I heard that curse-slaves are sold at other places than this street. While I was walking down this street, I overheard someone talking about that. Apparently, there’s a place with higher grade curse-slaves called ‘the Curse-Slave Trading Post’. It seems that mostly nobles buy from there.
“Anyhow… there are a lot of curse-slaves.”
I stopped walking and looked back at the road I came through.
I was trying to get a grasp of the prices… and they were cheaper than I expected. The cheapest curse-slave had many injuries so cost 7 gold coins. There’s no upper limit, but I think it should be 20 gold coins on average? Just 4 months worth of living expenses… just that is enough to buy a person. No, to be exact, a contract of 5 years.
Even if it’s just 5 years, people’s lives weren’t exchanged like these in Japan. Even though it’s called a curse-slave, I have resistance against buying… contracting a slave.
What should I do.
For now, I have 10 gold coins. If I mean to form a contract… I can get a cheap curse-slave. But to contract a curse slave. I wonder if that mean I will be binding someone to me under the name of contract.
I… what is Kusunoki Hinami’s identity as a Japanese person? Is it helping Hana? Helping my parents? Earning money? Not dying? Living…?
For me, ‘living with a smile’ has always been the goal.
Then, to that extent, what do I need…?
A stable life.
A good friend.
A healthy body without illness.
Time to pursue hobbies.
I can smile from Hana… from my family staying safe…
Hana is living the precious life god has helped save.
Because of that, ‘paying back god for his help’… is my identity now.
◇ ◇ ◇
Let’s breath deeply first. Now I will be ‘forming a contract with a curse-slave’.
The moment I had steeled my heart… and was about to step foot into the curse-slave market again, there were voices from behind. A clear soprano tone and a low imposing voice.
I think my resolve shook a little from those, but I felt glad to hear familiar sounds so anxiety disappeared a bit from my heart.
Why are they here? I thought but from their appearances I realised they were working. They both were wearing proper knightly attire. I wonder if they’re on patrol…? No, if it’s patrol, I guess people like the soldier who talked to me would do that.
“Why are you at the curse-slave market? What about Thia?”
“Erm, she seems to got an urgent business.”
“An urgent business even though there’s Hinami? ……I see, it’s that guy.”
Having something on his mind, Alfred-san let out a heavy sigh. Behind him, Clef-san had a face that seemed to say, ‘my my.’ I wonder what it could be. That guy…? Noticing that I had a question mark on me, Alfred-san told me, “Her fiancé.”
Believe it or not, Thia-chan had a fiancé…! No, well… I wonder if nobles have that. It’s not related with me who only worked and had no boyfriends in Japan… Then, did Thia-chan go to meet her fiancé? Mn, then it can’t be helped that it’s an urgent business.
“Sorry, Hinami. Her fiancé is a duke… so Thia can’t reject him forcefully.”
“Eh! She didn’t go happily?”
“I wonder. I… don’t like the guy.”
Huh, isn’t this siscon? He’s jealous, right? Alfred-san might have it worse than me.
More importantly, I’m worried about Thia-chan. I don’t know what kind of person the fiancé is… but if he’s calling Thia-chan using his position not through mutual love, I don’t like him. …Let’s try asking next time. Because, we’re friend…!
“Could it be that Hinami-dono, you are planning on going back alone? I had thought that you would stay with Thia, so I had not prepared… I’m sorry.”
“N-No…! Please don’t worry about that!”
“A child should let herself get spoiled. Or could it be that because you lived alone in the forest, it’s simple to get back home… is it?”
“No no I don’t know how to get back! Ah…”
My true thoughts accidentally spilled out. How embarrassing… Clef-san grinned and apologised, “Sorry that my child forcefully brought you here.” By how he’s observing me, it looks like he understood why I’m here. That I’m here to buy a slave for escort purposes since I can’t return on my own.
It felt like I did something embarrassing, so I stared at the ground, avoiding his gaze. I feel like a child that was caught doing something bad.
Clef-san patted my head and said, “It’s alright.”
“There are a lot of people forming contracts with curse-slaves for escort. Rather, it’s a natural thing. Thia’s escort, Kiruto is also a curse-slave.”
“Ah, well, most people don’t, but nobles or adventurers make these contracts rather often.”
I couldn’t believe it when I heard the explanation from the guild, but I could when it was from Clef-san. I wonder if this is the so called dignity of a knight…?
Rather, Kiruto-kun was a curse-slave. I had no idea… Certainly, he was sticking close to Thia-chan and he didn’t speak when Thia-chan and I were talking. An obedient attendant… that was all I thought.
“I am a knight. I can tell at a glance that Hinami-dono is not fit for combat.”
“From now on, if you want to keep living in the forest but go back and forth between the city, it will be good to get an escort. If not, I think living in the city should be good. Hinami-dono is still a child… it shouldn’t be as dangerous as the forest.”
It’s a secret that I thought that people wouldn’t have to be a knight to tell as I looked at my arms that lacked muscles.
First of all… my living condition is the key point. However, I can’t abandon the house. Because it’s the precious house god gave to e. Also, I grew attached from living in it for 2 years. Plus, it’s pleasant and cute. For the rest, I don’t have any complaints if I have ingredients.
“So… I do want a house in the city… but the house I’m living in is important, so I can’t let it go.”
“I see. Then it would be best to form a contract with a curse-slave for escorting purposes. Travelling through the forest alone is dangerous.”
“That’s true. Thank you for your advice.”
Thanks to Clef-san’s kind words, the guilt I was feeling from getting a curse-slave was decreased. He’s warm like father, so it’s somewhat embarrassing.
“Hinami… you can’t fight? I thought you were someone amazing because you were living alone in the forest of the lost…”
“Alfred-san… what did you see me as. I am living in the forest… but I’m a normal girl.”
“Ah—… come to think of it, you were scared of Schtrein too.”
It’s an elegant name I never heard of… was what I was thinking, but it seems like it’s the dragon I rode here. So the name is Schtrein… it feels I lost to a dragon on names. No, I’m just feeling it.
“Hinami, I’ll fly you home on Schtrein.”
I flinched from what should be a nice offer from Alfred. Seeing my complex expression of happiness and anxiety, Alfred-san grinned.
“Ah, you can’t ride because Schtrein is scary… huh.”
It’s troubling, but it’s as he said so I couldn’t… retort. No, I do want to ride the dragon and return swiftly…! I want to return to the house in the forest. Then once I settle down and get more points, I want to come back to the city, sell restoratives (potions) and buy a house…!
Let’s pretend that I was returned home.
Then how will I come to the city next time…?
“Hey, Al. Treat women gently.”
“I know… I’m joking Hinami. Sorry.”
To me who was troubled, Clef-san scolded Alfred-san. Alfred-san obediently accepted and apologised to me. They really are nobles… most boys that age won’t be that polite…!
“On closer though, I… after getting home, I can’t come back to the city on my own.”
Looks like the two of them both did not think about that, as their voices overlapped. Like father, like son, a perfect harmony. Alfred pondered with a troubled expression and sent glances at me.
“I can send you home today, but even still I can’t go back to get you, you know?”
“No no no, I know that…!”
“But Thia does like Hinami, it’ll be sad if we can’t meet again.”
This somehow felt like something Alfred-san thought about sincerely.
But… that means, I was confirmed as Thia-chan’s friend, I’m happy. But then… I need a slave… to get to the city. I gazed at the slave market. I met these two so I felt slightly anxious.
Ahh, what should I do? Should I really buy… a slave?
“Then, Hinami, how will you return?”
“Ah… no, I’ll contract… a curse-slave and get escorted there. Frankly, the dragon is quite scary.”
“I see. That might be good for Hinami-dono.”
I refused Alfred-san’s very nice offer and resolved to form a contract with a curse-slave. Clef-san’s approval is now also a reason. Buying a curse-slave doesn’t mean getting despised or that there aren’t moral qualms… he took care of such fears. In truth, it’s not ‘buy’ but ‘contract’, so it’s like getting a part-timer in Japan… no, I guess it’s different.
Right, I cant’ treat a curse-slave… like a slave that could be sold and bought. I won’t become that uses a person like a tool…
Mn, it’s alright. The curse-slaves here are different from the slaves on earth.
“Now, we have to go. Sorry, Hinami-dono. We haven’t given you much. If you can, please visit as again.”
“Yes. Thank you, Clef-san.”
“If there are any problems, please tell me. Hinami is Thia’s saviour and friend, so I’ll gladly help you.”
“Alfred-san… thank you.”
I said goodbye to the two of them and saw them off.
The kind people, the people I met for the first time, Thia-chan’s family.
But, to be honest, I was glad that the first people I met were nice people…! But, yes. I can’t get used to nobility or things like that, so I end up getting nervous in from of them. I wonder what the rest is… right, the form of speech. I can’t go against it…? I get overwhelmed or something like that. Well, Japanese people can’t really come out strong. It can’t be helped…! Probably
I mustered up my courage again and set foot into the curse-slave market.
◇ ◇ ◇
“Erm… I’d like to form a contract with a curse-slave.”
“Mn? You, young lady?”
I looked around and talked to a curse-slave trader. The curse-slaves were all in cages, so I don’t think the trader treats them well. However, I have only 10 gold coins. If I return hoe and sell potions, I think I can sell more, but I can’t return home now so it’s not possible. From the other curse-slave traders that treat their curse-slaves well, 10 gold coins won’t be enough.
The curse-slave trader I chose had the prices ranging from 5 gold coins at the lowest… to 23 gold coins to the highest. Compared to other curse-slave traders it was quite cheap. But to that extent… they were wounded or their eyes were blank.
“What’s it for? Young lady, you’re… a little over 10? Then I think a sex curse-slave is too fast for you! Haha!”
“Eh! Truly. Sorry, sorry, as an apology let me show you the finest sex curse-slave…”
“No! I want an escort!”
How long is this person going to tease me…!
The bulky curse-slave trader smiled at me. It looks like there are some positive people in the business…
And then, the sex curse-slave he recommended… Uu, so there are people who buy curse-slaves for such… purposes. The hurdle is too high for an experienced person like me. I’ll pretend I didn’t hear it.
“I’m joking! Don’t get angry, young lady! If it’s an escort, you’d want strength. This one, this one… and how about this one?”
After saying that, the old man pointed at 3 curse-slaves.
The first was… a man looking to be in his late teens. His unkempt blue hair reached to his shoulder. His facial features were clear, so he was handsome. He’s glaring at me a little… I felt. The price is 20 gold coins.
The second was… a therianthrope? He was a boy with cat ears. Around my age or maybe less… or so he looked like. The two ears protruding from his short-cut hair were brown, and it felt like it would be nice to touch. He was still a young boy, so cute might fit him better. Just that… he didn’t have a left arm. Maybe because of that, he cost 5 gold coins.
Finally… there was another handsome person. The first one was grand, but this person was thin and elegant, like Johnnys. The dishevelled yellow-green hair was parted to the right, his long fringe completely covering his left eyes. Maybe he was listless, because I couldn’t tell where that eye was looking at. The price is… 9 gold coins?
Huh… isn’t the third person cheap?
He does have arms… and I don’t see any wounds. And he doesn’t look bad either. No, wouldn’t he be in the good category…?
Now… what should I do?
In front of me there were 3 curse-slaves in the cages. My pounding heart sounded like whispers on my ear, controlling me. I will choose and form a contract with a person. That used to be an unimaginable thing in the life before.
But I decided to live on in this world.
I properly stared into the eyes of the 3 curse-slaves.