“I mean no disrespect, but could you even afford them? Lydia here is a tigerkin Swordsman. She’s already level 36. I was told she alone could go for several hundred at auction. Miki is a nine-tailed fox who is a Spiritualist. I imagine a Sylph is probably valuable, as is an Earth Golem with a human soul.”
“Wh-wh-what kind of slaves do you have!” With each reveal, she became even dizzier.
The boy who was unconscious suddenly sat up as if he wasn’t just beaten to unconsciousness, grabbing his chin thoughtfully. “You must be a very wealthy man. Perhaps a collector of women? So, you are a man’s man after all.”
“Shut up, Brother!” She tossed a pan in his face, and he went back into an unconscious state before turning to me, Money is no object! If I request it, Daddy will definitely deliver. I’ll give you 2000 gold for all four girls.”
I let out a whistle. It was actually pretty tempting. I mean, she was freeing them which is something I wanted to have done anyway. I might as well equalize my debt. That 2000 gold could go a long way into building up Chalm. As for the girls, they were then free to do whatever they wanted. If they wanted to follow me home, they were welcome to it. Plus, the girls wouldn’t feel like they owed me. Then they could truly be free to act on their own feelings. My heartfelt a little painful thinking about them leaving me, but it was the only way for me to know how they truly felt.
“M-master, you’re selling us?” Lydia said tearfully.
“Do not worry!” Eliana said, “I’m freeing you! You don’t need to worry about food or anything either. I can definitely get you jobs working in my home.”
The girls were giving me sad looks, but that was just my slave affinity and high charm taking effect. Even Terra wasn’t as warm on me until after she became my slave. I already felt bad for taking advantage of her in the water that one time. What could I say, I was a weak guy? I ended up being all four of these girls’ first time. I hope they didn’t come to see me as a pig after the slavery seal was cut. Well, that was the big obstacle, after all.
“If they were freed, that’d be best, but I don’t have the ability to do it.”
“Master… no…” Terra said, her lip quivering.
“Master… can we speak with Eliana a moment?” Miki suddenly spoke sweetly.
“Eh?” I asked, noticing that Celeste and Terra seemed to be crying.
“Celeste, Terra, don’t fret so much.” Lydia patted both girls, and then she whispered something into the two girl’s ears.
They both seemed to brighten and strangely enough, they looked at me with extremely satisfied, happy expressions. I frowned back, not sure what was said. However, if the girls needed to speak to Eliana over being freed, I supposed it was there right. As the Slave Master, trying to butt in might be considered bad etiquette for all I knew. I’d have to ask Figuro next time I ran into him. I told them I’d be in the guy’s room getting dressed.
“Wh-what are you girls doing? Why are you giving me such dark looks? Why are you circling around me! Eh? Eh!”
The door closed at I made sure to wash again at the seat before finally getting dressed and heading out to the front. The overweight lady was still sitting there, frowning.
“What was that racquet back there!” She demanded.
I immediately bowed. “There was an accident and some damage was made. Please allow me to pay the reparations.”
I gave her ten gold coins to pay for the damaged wall. She seemed too lazy to check what the damage was. On the other hand, I couldn’t even guess how much it’d cost to fix. So we both agreed to just settle it with that much. She looked quite pleased as I handed her the money.
At that moment, Eliana came out of the female locker room. She was still in her towel. She had a dizzy look and seemed to be walking like there was ice down her pants.
“Hmmm? What’s up?”
“I have decided to not purchase your slave’s freedom…” She said in a tight voice.
“Eh? Are you sure? I mean, if you have the magic to-“
“N-n-no!” She cried, “No! Please no!”
Suddenly, her eyes rolled up in her head and she collapsed on the floor. I frowned looking down at her. However, before I could offer healing or anything, my four girls came out fully dressed. In fact, they were wearing some of the nicer dresses. It’d be hard to think they weren’t ladies given the quality of the cut. The seamstress in Chalm said she once worked for a lady’s house so her skill really shone through.
“What happened?” I demanded.
“Nothing!” Lydia grabbed my arm and started pulling me.
“Master is paranoid.”
“We just reeducated her…” Terra admitted.
As I was pushed out of the bathhouse, I flipped another gold coin to the woman. “Please, take care of her and her brother. He’s… uh… unconscious in the female tub.”
She had her mouth open, but I didn’t have time to say anything else before I was pushed out of the building. I ended up spending over 11 gold coins on a bath in public. I was realizing taking my girls out in public was really expensive. So much for saving money. I’d definitely go for the private inn in the future.
“Ladies… we need to have a talk about bullying others…”
The registrar was the next location we needed to go to fill out the appropriate paperwork to have Chalm registered as a city of Aberis and for me to be registered as the lord. Basically, we had to make a case in front of the local lords that I was worth being identified as such. Of course, Chalm could always remain independent, but after the disaster that led to Chalm’s original destruction, many there felt that remaining loyal to Aberis was important. First, it allowed them to continue to buy and free slaves. Secondly, it’d allow us their military and monetary support that was currently lacking.
Of course, I was a little curious if the Church didn’t have any involvement in the death of the previous Lord Karr. His death was mysterious, up to and including his diary being opened to some incrementing photos which led to Astria’s taking over the whole mansion and turning it into a dungeon. After hearing about the clockwork dragon and their nefarious attempt to recover it, it wouldn’t be surprising to me if they assassinated the previous Lord.
It wasn’t lost on me that it was the Priests who ultimately contained the threat and acted as the saviors to the people of Chalm. It was an act that seemed pretty reminiscent of their actions towards the Bandit King’s hometown. That was, of course, if I chose to believe the Bandit King’s story. These were simply stories for the moment, and I really couldn’t act on them, so I decided to just play it by ear.
We reached the office, which was really a large building with various desks that reminded me a bit of the Adventurer’s Guild, except everyone was dressed nicer and there was an atmosphere of haughtiness. I entered the room and gestured for my girls to wait while I got in line. It took about thirty minutes of waiting before I got to the front.
“What petition or order do you have?” A receptionist like lady asked, a bored expression on her face.
“Ah… I’m petitioning for the city of Chalm.”I said, pulling out some papers.
I was doing things exactly how I was coached to do them by the former Mayor. There was a particular order to these things and you had to do everything. I tried to follow everything.
“Hmmm… Chalm? I thought that the town was destroyed.” The woman said flatly.
“Uh, no… we moved.” I corrected her.
“In that case, you’ll need to go over there to that line, and fill out this form.” She handed me a form.
I sighed and walked over to the other line. A few hours later…
“Eh? Do you have proof of lordship? Oh, you’re not a lord? In that case, you need to go to the building across the street and fill out this form.”
I let the girls wait outside this time and bought them some food from a nearby stall. I then went into my next line. Some time passed.
“Ah… no, you want the line over there.”
“That’s the line I started in!” I cursed.
I rubbed my head. This was turning out to be a much greater headache than I could have ever predicted. As I was walking across the street, I heard a noise.
“Hey… psst…” I looked over to see a shady looking guy standing by the alleyway. “Hey. Come over here. For a gold coin, I can give you some information. It’ll save you a great deal of time.”
I frowned at the shady looking man, but in the end, I decided I had nothing to lose so I showed him the coin. When he reached out to take it, I held it away from him.
“Ah… well… haha…” He brushed his hands on his dirty tunic. “You’ll never get anything done that way. They only truly respect nobles in this town. Unless you have a lordship, you’ll never be able to get anyone to accept your paperwork.”
This caused my mood to sour instantly. I had the feeling that if I was a lord, they’d be taking me seriously. Several snootier men came in and seemed to get things done in an instant. However, one of my papers was petitioning to become a lord. So… I couldn’t petition for lordship without being a lord? Well, I supposed if I knew a lord, that would also help.
“How is that supposed to help me?” I responded more bitterly than I intended.
“Ah! That…” He held out his hand and I dropped the gold coin in it. “The city is quite packed right now, haven’t you noticed?”
“Yeah?’ I mean… it was busy, but I guess it was busier than normal?
“That’s because there is a tournament that will be starting tomorrow. You still have time to register. The top prize is a lordship!”
The tournament registration turned out to be a lot easier to navigate than the paperwork. There was a line of beautiful oneesans taking registration. It cost 5 gold coins, so it wasn’t cheap to enter.
“You will register a team of five, but only the leader will be eligible to win the grand prize.” The woman explained once I handed her the money. “Preliminaries start tomorrow morning. Then, it’ll be the top 100, 25, and so forth until a final winner is decided.”
I looked around and noticed a meaty looking man surrounded by four other men. I noticed their slave insignia right away.
“So, are the opponents strong?
“It’s the only way for a commoner to become a lord in this country. Many town heroes fight for this right every year.”
I bitterly thought about the lordship request form the mayor had given me. He had given me this task in earnest. I think he would have been just as shocked to learn the reality was harsh. You couldn’t just become a lord if you asked nicely, even if you had a lot of followers supporting you. It looked like there were a lot of small cities like Chalm looking to gain a lordship. It seemed like a vicious cycle in this country. While those born as lords fought to become the hero of a town, those that became town heroes fought to be recognized as lords.
“Alright, Deek, please return tomorrow and wait for your name to be announced. Magic items and potions are allowed. The preliminaries are a group battle, so make sure your entire team is ready to fight.”
“Ah… you girls okay with this?” I asked.
“Yes, Master!” Lydia nodded.
“Mm!” Miki agreed.
“I Agree!’ Celeste raised her hand.
“I will protect Master…” Terra smiled subtly.
“You’re going to go into the fight tomorrow with a bunch of girls?” A voice said beratingly.
I spun to find the big guy with four slaves eyeing me disdainfully.
“Ah… well, they are important people I depend on.” I explained.
The girls started blushing and acting cute, which seemed to further enrage the big guy.
“Why you… I’ll have you know… my slave right here is a swordsman, level 30! He will easily crush any of your girls.”
“Oh… is that… um… impressive.”
I was going to say was that all, but I realized that it would probably set him off. He must have taken my response as sarcastic because he was glaring at me angrily anyway.
“I’m going to crush you personally!’ He snarled. “Call me, Lark the Brave. I’m an adventurer and the strongest man this year!”
He spun around and walked away, gesturing for his fellow men to follow him. As for me, I let out a long, drawn-out sigh.
“Master, are you really worried about fighting that guy?”
“Eh? Who? Him?” I blinked. “Ah… no… actually, I was lamenting. It’s getting dark and it looks like we’re going to need to book an inn. With this event, they’ll probably have the prices jacked up too.”
“How much is an inn?” Lydia asked.
“Should be about 2 silver a night,” Miki answered.
“Didn’t Master just spend 1 gold coin for information and then 5 more for this tournament?” Terra asked.
I sighed. The girls just didn’t seem to understand being thrifty at all.