Chapter 26 – Nem
“Who are you?”
“I’m Masamune. Who are you?”
“Nem, Nem is Nem.”
Her ears were like snow, her hair too, everything was white like snow.
“Nem huh…. Alright Nem let’s get out of here before someone comes.”
She clasped my hand in her’s, the tiny hand shaking slightly. I guess she was still scared.
Without talking I walked to the exit and stepped out of the warehouse together with a scared Nem. The sunlight hit our eyes hard as we found Toa and Sierra there waiting for us.
“Did anyone come?”
“That guy we saw on the street came back but he’s over there.”
Sierra pointed over to where Toa was waving. Beside her sat a fat man hanging his head unconscious, the same man that brought Nem here.
“So this is the beast person that guy brought here earlier right?”
“Her name is Nem.”
Sierra knelt and stared at Nem a while before nodding.
“Nice to meet you Nem-dono, my name is Sierra. I see you have white ears and a white tail, are you perhaps from the white cat tribe?”
Nem seemed nervous about her meeting with Sierra and grabbed hold of my robe’s hem.
“Where do you live?”
“I see, as I thought she’s probably from the church.”
Sierra stood finished with her questions.
Toa had left her lookout and come to join us.
“It’s an orphanage, they temporarily take care of children. It seems that’s where Nem is from.”
We decided to bring Nem to the church located here in the city for the time being.
When we arrived at the church Nem ran and opened the door, the three of us followed her inside.
It was quiet when we entered with no reception to speak of. We could see a large staircase, the building seemed more like an old mansion than a church.
A single woman appeared dressed in white and navy blue monastery clothes.
Nem ran up and hugged the woman.
“Where have you been! I was worried sick!”
“I’m sorry. I was caught by a scary person but Masamune saved me.”
I was impressed she remembered my name. Confused, the sister gave a bow and led us to a common room.
“Thank you for saving Nem from such a dangerous place.”
As we sat Sierra had explained the circumstances to the sister.
“Oh no we’re just happy she’s safe.”
“Nem sometimes doesn’t say when she’s going to visit her friends. The capital is at peace and there aren’t many people who discriminate against beast people here. With the slave trade being illegal here as well I thought she’s be OK but to think that…”
Apparently Nem had a habit of wandering off, but since she came back OK each time the sister didn’t worry.
While we spoke Nem played with the other children. She must have been scared but she looked fine now, she was a tough little girl. Thinking that as I watched a smiling Nem, I noticed something strange on her arm.
“Uhm hey… Excuse me sister. What’s that on Nem’s arm?”
It appeared to be a circular tattoo on her left bicep.
“That’s, a slave crest!?”
The sister was at a loss for words as tears flowed from her eyes. According to Sierra the brand was created by pressing hot iron into the skin. Seeing this the sister ran over and hugged the playing Nem as she cried. However Nem seemed to be oblivious and was confused by the sister’s actions.
It’s said that branding chains the soul so that the one who is marked stops trying to run away. The crest is primarily used on men while not so much on women. Sierra guessed that it was probably because she was a beast person that Nem was branded.
“I knew it, I should have killed them all. I shouldn’t have even left one of them alive.”
I felt a murderous rage from the bottom of my heart, I regretted agreeing to leave it to the white knights.
“Masamune, are you OK?”
Toa looked up at my face.
“Your expression seems dark.”
“Masamune dono, it’s ok. We’ll take care of the rest, I’ve already contacted Annette. It’s not something you should worry about, please leave it to us.”
Looking at my appearance she said once again. “It’s ok.”
In front of the orphanage Sierra parted with us to go help with the cleanup. And we said goodbye to the sister and Nem.
“Nem be careful for the time being OK? Goodbye.”
“You’re going home already?”
Nem’s expression turned sad.
“Yeah, but well come to play again. Don’t sneak off on your own OK?”
“OK, see you tomorrow.”
We bow to the sister and leave the orphanage glancing back at Nem’s face.
“We’re coming back tomorrow?”
“I don’t know.”
“But Nem said see you tomorrow.”
“She said that didn’t she, she’ll probably forget about me by tomorrow though.”
I didn’t think too deeply about what Nem said. However the next day when I woke up at Sierra’s house I came to know the meaning behind her words.
“Good morning Masamune sir, this morning a guest has come to see you.”
“Huh? I have a guest?”
“Yes sir, they are waiting over there.”
After waking up I was guided to the room where my guest waited.
As soon as I opened the door someone jumped at me. Looking down at my feet I saw Nem, seeing her white ears and tail I understood.
“Nem, why are you here so early? And why are you calling me Master?”
“Momma taught me this! She said that if someone saves your life, love them for as long as you live. And master saved Nem! So master is Nem’s master!”
Without understanding I listened to the child’s logic. But more importantly was what she was calling me, if Toa and Sierra heard her call me master it would complicate things.
” Morning Masamune. ”
” Masamune – dono, you’re up first this time. You woke up early today.”
But those two had exquisite timing.
“Master where are you going today? Nem wants to go with Master.”
“ーmaster?” The two of them said at the same time.
Their eyes opened wide in shock but in the next moment were filled with contempt.
“Wa, wait a minute! It’s not like that! There’s a reason!”
“Master, you’re an adventurer right? Are you going to the guild today?”
Nemu, please shut up for a while.
I tried to explain to the two who stared at me suspiciously but Nem called me master enough times that my excuses were useless.
We left Sierra’s mansion soon after breakfast. Due to Sierra’s kindness we didn’t pay for anything although we were allowed to stay there. However we should really take a request and earn some money soon, I have no idea when we will be leaving this country.
“You thought I was making her call me that? No way!”
I don’t know what they thought of me but until I denied it Toa and Sierra seemed to think I had been forcing Nem to call me master. By the time I had cleared away the suspicion the four of us arrived in front of the guild.
” Well if it isn’t Nem. ”
“Ah! Sharon is here!”
“You guys are friends with Nem?”
“He’s my master.”
“Master? What’s going on here?”
Sharon eyed me with contempt. This time instead of me having to explain Sierra did so for me and quickly cleared away the suspicion.
“I see, that’s what I thought it was.”
She blatantly lied, I saw the contempt earlier Sharon you can’t hide that.
Nem comes to the shop often so Sharon knows her very well. It seems Nem’s friend that the sister referred to was Sharon.
“Nem, What happened to your arm!?”
Sharon noticed the burn on Nem’s arm.
“I see… Oh that’s terrible, why if they were here I’d beat them to a bloody pulp!”
Sharon made a stern expression at Sierra’s explanation a combination of sadness and anger.
“You guys saved her right. You have my thanks as well.” Sharon couldn’t hide her fury towards the slave merchants. “Nem is like a daughter to me.”
Sharon grinned at me.
“But to think the day I would give my daughter away would arrive so soon. Protect her ya hear? You’re Nem’s chosen master.”
I don’t get it, what is this person saying.
“That look tells me, you don’t understand the meaning behind Nem’s words.”
“The meaning? What are you talking about?”
“Well, it’s ok if you don’t get it yet, so I’ll say just one thing. You better not make her cry.”
Sharon shoved her finger in my face as she said this.
“Sierra I was looking for you.”
A strange man appeared. He had a dandy like mustache, a monocle in his left eye and was wearing a white silk hat. To top it off he wore a flashy white coat.
Edward, you’re still going out in public like that…. ”
” This way no one thinks that I am a white knight. Such clothes are my everyday wear, I always dress like this. More importantly, I have brought this from Reinhardt. ”
Without explanation the man gives Sierra a rolled up piece of paper tied closed with a string.
” Oh and who might your friends be? ”
” Masamune-dono, Toa-dono and this is Nem-dono. ”
She didn’t introduce Sharon but the man bowed to her, it seemed that they were acquainted.
“You’re the rumored…. Pardon me, I am Edward Scotch. Please forgive my late introduction.”
“By the way Edward. What is this?”
“It’s a request, isn’t it written there?”
“Ah! This is the king’s!?”
“Apparently a basilisk has appeared. In the barn of Borris, a friend of his majesty.”
“What’s a basilisk?”
I was wondering that but it seemed Toa didn’t know either.
“Nem knows! It’s a big snake!”
“A big snake?”
“As expected of Nem-dono you’re very intelligent. Yes a basilisk is a large snake.”
“The king said that you should go.”
“What’s going on? Why me?”
“I do not know. I was just ordered to hand it over to you.”
“That’s perfect! Sierra go kill that basilisk!”
“Even Sharon,… Why?”
“I’m running short on the basilisk’s tear glands, venom sack, and large fangs. It would be helpful if you could collect those once you kill it.”
Sierra seemed reluctant a worried expression on her face.
“Sierra, I’ll go with you. Toa will as well right?”
“If Masamune is going I don’t have a problem with it.”
“You guys, I’m sorry to make you do this.”
“Don’t worry about it. We’re free and we owe you a favor anyway.”
“If you’re going, take Nem as well.”
“Nem!? No way, we’re going to fight a large snake and Nem is tiny!”
It’s extremely dangerous. I don’t know what type of monster a basilisk is but it’s a snake. What happens if she gets bit?
“Master are you going to leave Nem behind? Nem wants to be useful to master.”
“Even if you say that, we’re going to fight a monster.”
If it’s me whatever happens I can just quickly heal it with my healing magic. But to take a small child along is insane! Even if I can just heal whatever happens it doesn’t make it any less dangerous.
” Just take her with you. Don’t worry, she’s stronger than you are healer boy.”
“Nem is strong? Seriously?”
“It’s a famous story around here. If you think I’m kidding take her with you.”
Where exactly is this confidence coming from? If she was strong she wouldn’t have been captured by a slave merchant.
“Ahh fine, I get it. But just this once.”
I reluctantly accepted.