Chapter 21 Rano Slave House
We were brought down from the ship for the first time in a year.
There were magic prevention chokers on our necks, and chains on our hands and feet.
It was night time.
The sky was covered in thick clouds.
It feels like it was going to rain, but people at the port continued their work without any indication of preparing for rain.
I could see the city across from the harbor warehouse, illuminated by a myriad of lights.
“Get on the wagon in a line. The men get in first. The women get on the wagon that’s coming from behind.”
An iron wagon covered with gratings pulled by 4 healthy horned horses rolled up before me.
I was promptly shoved inside the grated wagon, not even given the chance to enjoy the feeling of being on land.
We did as we were told without resisting and got in, 20 to a wagon.
The door was closed from outside, it was something that wouldn’t open from the inside.
The carriage does not shake much, considering the open ground it’s passing over.
Looking outside the grated windows, it looks like we’re headed for the port town.
Then we were transported on the wagon for about an hour.
“……Looks like we’re here.”
The wagon went around to the back of a 5-floor building.
There was a signboard posted on the building, it said “Rano Slave House” in the Demon Language.
As the wagon stopped, the sound of a door being opened was heard from outside.
When the door opened, over 10 men came out to see us.
They were all wearing leather armor and were armed with swords and spears.
But what’s more impressive is that all of them are of the Demon Race.
Two-legged lizard race, one-eyed race, bird race with wings for arms—these men who could be mistaken for monsters at first glance were standing in line.
They were probably the soldiers employed by the “Rano Slave House”.
At the end of the path created between the standing soldiers, there were stairs leading to the building’s basement.
“Once you get down from the wagon, continue straight down to the basement.”
One of the private soldiers making the path, a skinhead with twisted horns growing out of his forehead, said so.
He seems to be the leader who is managing these private soldiers.
The slaves including me went down the stairs toward the basement without any resistance.
From behind, the sound of another wagon coming could be heard. Then, new footsteps came down into the basement.
The basement is of simple make, but it was wider than I thought, and it felt pleasantly cool to walk on with bare feet.
Lamps hung from the ceiling at even intervals.
But they were not firelight.
It seems that some kind of magic is used to provide light.
The first room that we were led to was the bathroom.
The horned man who seemed like the soldiers’ leader caught up with us, and showed us the bathroom.
“Now clean off all the dirt you got on the journey.”
The dressing room was about 18 tatami in size.
The bathroom was about the size of two classrooms, there was plenty of hot water inside long boxes the size of bathtubs.
Three of them had been prepared.
“Take off your clothes here. We’ll give you a towel and soap to wash your head and body. Use the hot water as you like. Let us know if you’re out of water, we’ll get you some more. Just don’t dip inside like nobleman do. The water’s for everyone’s use after all.”
As instructed, we got a towel, some soap, and a bucket and went into the bathroom.
There were 40 people washing, me included.
Hot water ran down my head for the first time in about a year.
It’s unfortunate that I can’t get in the tub, but it felt good just to get a bath.
I once again filled the bucket with water and got my towel drenched.
I foamed the soap prepared for me using the towel, and washed off the dirt I had accumulated during the journey.
Soap was supposed to be a valuable commodity in this world.
Yet, the Slave House let the slaves use it freely.
Once I had gotten out of the bath, I was given new clothes.
I wrung the towel and dried my head, then took the clothes.
The shirt and trousers weren’t new, but they were cleanly washed.
“Those who have gotten out of the bath go to the dining hall. It’s at the end of the hall, going inside from the bathroom.”
Barefooted, I did as indicated and continued inside.
At the end of the hall there was a large room―the dining hall.
It was about the size of four classrooms.
A simple but delicious looking meal, consisting of a steaming soup with lots of beans inside, thick cuts of meats, and fried vegetables, was set on long tables roughly made of wood.
An old lady spoke out from behind the counter in a halting Fairy Human Language.
“Bean soup! Free seconds! Eat all you like!”
It goes without saying, the slaves made an astonished sound.
Sitting on the long benches, everyone ate their fill of the long-desired extravagant meal.
As we finished our meals, we went out of the dining room, and turned right.
There was a large room inside.
Beds are spread out inside the room.
It seems like we’re going to sleep here.
But once I laid down on it, the futon smelled of sunlight.
I had a full belly after so long.
When I closed my eyes, wrapped in the futon that smelled of the sun, the weariness from the journey caught up with me and I immediately fell asleep.
I heard from the old lady at the dining hall the next day (in the Demon Language, of course)―generally, the people who were sold as slaves were in despair over their own future.
The despair of those brought through a long journey from the Fairy Human Continent on the other side of the world from the Demon Continent was particularly severe.
So on the day they arrived, they were given hot water baths, food to eat until they were full, and beds to sleep in.
By doing that most people’s hearts would calm down.
It seems that because of the warm hospitality the slaves received when they arrived at the port, the number of slaves that committed suicide out of despair or made an uproar in an attempt to escape dropped sharply.
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The next day, we had breakfast in the same dining hall as last night’s dinner.
Soup filled with beans, bean salad.
Why are they all beans……?
At about noon, the horned guy called all the men except me, and they all went out of the basement one after the other.
It was decided that they were to be sold as miners to the mines at the interior of the Demon Continent. That’s why they were immediately taken along the following day.
It seems that they were sold at 20~50 gold coins each.
I was a human child, and I could hold an ordinary conversation in the Demon Language.
I can also use simple magic, so it seems that they got in touch with some rich person so they can sell me at a high price.
I was to be sold at about 200~300 gold coins. If I were a girl I could get an even higher price―so the soldiers’ leader horned guy explained.
That’s about 10 times the price of the miners!
A large cask of magic liquid metal was about 100 gold, so that’s a considerable amount of money.
Other than slaves, the ship also brings in various goods from other continents.
When they went to return to the Fairy Human Continent, they bought Demon Continent slaves, and packed the holds with minerals and suchlike and continued to the other continents.
It was a business with high return, even though there’s a risk of losing their assets due to the ship getting sunk.
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“Lute, your buyer is coming.”
It was the fifth night I stayed at the Rano Slave House.
When I was having my dinner at the dining hall, the soldier leader horned guy seated across from me…….Obukhov, nonchalantly talked to me.
He spoke in fluent Fairy Human Continent language and it seems he is the leader of the private army in the Rano Slave Market.
Maybe because he had free time because the miners were no longer here and he didn’t have to be so vigilant, the horned guy had been calling me out to talk in the Demon Language. Because of my studies, I was able to hold a normal conversation. I learned the horned guy’s name during one of the conversations.
Obukhov continued his talk while scooping up the bean soup with a spoon.
“It seems they’ll come pick you up tomorrow.”
“Err… may I ask what kind of person they are? Maybe their gender.”
“Sorry, that was a bad way of putting it. It seems we got hold of a buyer candidate. So, we don’t know the details.”
He swallowed the beans in his mouth without so much as chewing them.
Obukhov didn’t say any more than that, and went about his meal.
Even though just a candidate, a buyer’s finally here, huh….
If the buyer is a perverted guy who likes little boys, I’ll kill myself.
(―No, even if I were bought by a perverted guy, even if I wound up at a male brothel, I won’t give up, I’ll survive and go back to the Fairy Human Continent where Snow is!)
Absolutely, whatever it takes!
…… but in the end, rather than getting bought by a guy, it’s better if it were a beautiful lady!
In my previous life, I remained a virgin until I died.
If you include my 11 years of life after I was born again, I was over 30 years old. If my first time was with a man, and through my back door, that would be too awful!
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The next day, in the morning―I was brought from the basement to the top floor, with Obukhov and a private soldier in front and behind me.
My hands were bound with a pair of handcuffs.
A 1 meter long chain was attached to my feet, so I could not move so quickly.
As always, there was a magic prevention choker on my neck.
It was impossible to run away with a child’s body and no magic.
Rano Slave House, 5th floor.
I was brought into an extravagant room.
It was probably a customer reception room.
Leather sofa, table made of insect shells, thick desk.
There were no windows, but there were plants arranged, and paintings of scenery hanging on the walls instead.
There were also other fine furnishings laid out in a calculated manner.
Inside the room, a two-legged frog demon I don’t remember seeing stood up from the leather seat behind the desk and offered his hand for a handshake.
“You’ve been having it hard up to now. I am the manager of Rano Slave House, Rano Merumeru, of the Frog Race. Nice to meet you Lute.”
As I returned his handshake, I was surprised at the lack of moisture on his hand.
As you can see from his name, this frog seems to be the head of Rano Slave House.
“Don’t be so stiff. I’m not one to eat human children.”
Rano saw the look on my face, and made his cheeks swell amusingly.
It looks like he was mistaken for a monster because of how he looked, and frightened human kids many times.
Rano asked me to sit on the sofa.
“Do you want anything to drink? There’s nothing but scented tea right now, of course children would want fruit juice, I wonder?”
“No, I don’t mind.”
“Is that so? Then please sit and wait, the customer who might want to buy Lute is being taken here. Obukhov and the soldier leave the room and wait in front of the door.”
Obukhov and the soldier tagged behind Rano and left the room.
I was left alone in the room.
I looked around the room once again.
There were no windows.
Obukhov was waiting in front of the door, which was the only way out of here.
(Don’t rush. The chance to slip away will surely come!)
While inside the Slave House, the defenses were too strong so there was no chance to escape. But there might be one after I was bought.
Rather than giving the buyer a cause to be wary, it’s better to be obedient and look for an opening.
The only thing I can do now is to silently pray that my buyer is a woman.
Sitting in the sofa, I put my elbows on my knees and pressed my hands together.
“Dear God, dear Buddha, dear Tenjin! Please let my buyer be a woman, please let my buyer be a woman, please let my buyer be a woman, please let my buyer be a woman, please let my buyer be a woman―”
While I was making my most earnest prayers, previous life included, I heard the sound of the door being knocked upon.
The first one to enter was the frog, Rano.
Behind him, my prospective buyer came in.
Rano somewhat pridefully introduced me.
“This is Lute. How is he, unusual, right? A human child with black hair and eyes. He can also speak the Demon Language, though only for normal conversation. We rarely get human children this wonderful, you know.”
“Hahaha! He is certainly rare! Hello Lute-kun! You have a lovely name!”
The one who entered is a――――man.
But he’s not just any man.
He was wearing expensive looking clothes, but he was extremely tall. Easily two and a half meters.
Furthermore, he had well developed muscles like a bodybuilder, and black skin.
He had a moustache over his thick lips that looked like that of a cod. He also had thick eyebrows, and his blonde hair was hardened in a swept-back do.
This muscled monster man standing in front of me looked to be my prospective buyer.
The clip of a camellia flower falling down was played in an endless loop inside my head.