“Ah, well, large breasts doesn’t have anything to do with her species…” Figuro responded wryly.
“Y-yes… of course.” I cleared my throat.
Why did I feel like I had glares drilling into my back from behind? It was just a slip of the tongue, honestly? As we looked at the woman, she watched back, an intrigued look in her eyes.
“Even if you show me the most expensive girl in this place, why do you expect I can afford something this extravagant?” I asked Figuro wryly.
He let out a chuckle. “Isn’t that just wishful thinking? When I see slaves that are very skilled and promising, naturally, I want them to go the best slave handlers. Just looking and Miki and Lydia, they have developed wonderfully under your case. Miki herself would easily be as valuable as Lydia, despite having the nine-tail label.”
“Can you stop putting prices on them, they’re all priceless to me,” I said. “I wouldn’t sell them for any amount.”
“My apologies,” Figuro gave a slight bow, “I meant no offense.”
Hmm? It seems like the heat on my back somehow lessened from a moment ago. What was going on with that?
“It’s fine…” I responded defensively. “It isn’t that easy that I get angry about something.”
“Of course,” Figuro smiled. “Are you sure that you have no further questions about this elf?”
“I mean, it’s not like I’m not curious? What is her story? Was she some lost princess or something?”
Figuro chuckled. “Nothing so extravagant as that. Her story was pretty simple, actually. Her family were slaves. It was extremely rare for an elf to become a slave. You may not know this, but the extinction of elves is a fairly recent thing. Elf women struggle to become pregnant, but they have extremely long lives. This wouldn’t have been an issue, except there were many wars and conflicts and elves were brought into it. Unlike humans and demihumans which replenish their numbers within two decades, it’d take elves thousands of years to recuperate.
“Eventually, too many elves died, and even finding two elves that wanted to be lifelong mates was impossible. You see, elves are very particular about who they mate with. Their partner is for life. Thus, if the male died after they consummated their relationship even once, she could never have sex again. This isn’t a mental thing or a belief of elves either, it’s actually a built-in part of their biology.”
“Huh, what do you mean?”
“Once a man… um… inserts his part.” He looked behind me with at least some modesty as he tried to explain things without details. “The woman’s… part… imprints on him. If any other part attempts to go in, it seals shut. Furthermore, when it comes to simply impregnation, her body rejects the seed of any other man.”
He nodded. “As the species was becoming endangered, they tried many magics and attempts to bypass their biological systems. However, it was determined that a woman’s… um… parts could not be opened except by her partner without severely injuring her, and impregnation was impossible.
“This is all interesting, but how does this relate to her.”
“Ah… well, she isn’t simply an elf, but she’s also still a virgin without any imprinting. In fact, it’s a part of her slave clause that a Master can not force her to have sex. If you do so, she will be taken immediately and you would be severely punished.”
“I think Master should take her.” Lydia suddenly spoke up.
Miki nodded. “Mm… a slave Master can’t touch. I approve.”
What was that about? My girls sometimes said the strangest things.
“You still didn’t really explain much about how she became a slave,” I said, even though the girls were getting more interested behind me.
“There isn’t much to tell.” Figuro shrugged. “She was born into it, actually. Her mother was a slave, so she was born a slave too. The noble in question was an avid collector and bought her more as a trophy than as a maid. He did so around 50 years ago when the last elves were dying from old age. When his son took over the estate after the passing of his old man, he ran it into the ground by gambling. Eventually, he sold off his dad’s collections to pay for it. One such sale includes this woman right here.
“Don’t let that convince you she’s not capable. While under his employ, she made sure to learn her duties properly. Using her free time, she practiced daily, and over the course of the last 50 years, she has the full-fledged job Head Maid. It’s a job with access to magical cleanup spells, cooking, and also cleaning. She is very adept at all of it.”
“So, she’s over 50 then?” I asked.
“Elves live much longer than human lives. If you were to put a human age to her, she wouldn’t be much over 18. In fact, if you were to acquire her, she’d live long past your own life. She’d be your children’s maid, and possibly their maid as well.”
“Even if that is so…” I sighed. “I’d be bad to be bound too, as she wouldn’t be able to break that bond easily.
I couldn’t believe I was actually falling for this. To date, I had only accumulated a little over 2000 gold * after finishing the last dungeon. If I bought her, I’d be losing most of it. I say most because I should still be able to use the Haggle ability and get a small discount.
“Actually, that’s the other reason I thought you might be perfect.” Figuro shrugged. “She had another condition on her. He slavery mark can not be undone. She can not be freed.
“Huh? Why would that be?” I didn’t like that condition at all.
“The condition is self-imposed-“ Figuro held up his hands as I gave him a hostile look.
I looked back at the women herself, frowning slightly. She took a step forward and curtseyed.
“If I may?” She asked submissively.
Figuro nodded. “Go ahead. It’s best if it comes from you.”
“I am the last of my kind… an extreme rarity. That means, there are many that would want to acquire me. As a slave in this country, I am protected by this country’s laws. If I was not a slave, however… I wouldn’t be…”
She left the explanation at that, but I was able to finish it in my mind. This was ultimately all about protecting herself. Owned by someone rich, no one could technically take her away. She’d be safe. Even if she did get taken, they could always find her by her bond. However, if she was free, she could be exploited by all manner of person. She could be stolen, imprisoned, raped, or worse. Slavery seemed like a flimsy shield to me, but it was still a shield when you literally had nothing else.
“Thank you for catering to my questions, but I simply can’t afford to purchase her. I have the future of an entire city I have to think about. Furthermore, I don’t even have a place to call home yet, so acquiring a maid now would be counter to that.”
“Actually, given the extreme cost of this woman, I think you’ll find she more than makes up for it,” Figuro added when he saw I wasn’t going to bite.
“What do you mean by that?” I demanded.
“Well, you’re looking for people to purchase to bring to Chalm as citizens, yes?”
“I suppose that’s true…”
“As a head maid, her expertise is hiring personnel and management. You see, as her master got older, she was in charge of the entire estate. She effectively ran a plot of land for about ten years while the son played around and was irresponsible. If that old noble was in his right state of mind, he’d have never passed his fortune to a child like that once he died. In the end, since she was just a slave, she couldn’t counter the son’s decisions. Despite his bad decisions, she managed to keep that province and the people in it happy for five years, until that son sold her. Without her managing things, well, I’ll just say he’s in a slave collar out in the courtyard the last I checked.
“So, you see, she’d be an ideal person to put in charge of this. You saw all the auctions going on out there. Although there are ten or twenty back here I can offer you, you’re going to eventually need to deal with the auctions. If you’re looking to purchase a couple of hundred slaves, you’ll need to be around to make bids, pay debt, and manage the whole process. It could take you weeks to buy everyone you want for your city.”
I frowned at his words, “Uh… that sounds really exhausting. Isn’t there someone I can just hire to take this over. Isn’t that what you’re here for?”
He let out a cough. “Uh… while yes, I’m always willing to assist my clients in finding just the right slave, that is… well, a small part of my job. It isn’t impossible to lend my services for such a job, but I lack the knowledge she does, so I couldn’t promise I wouldn’t hire a few bad apples and useless people. Furthermore, if you wish to hire me, I’d need to remain competitive. My price runs 100 gold an hour. That’s 800 gold a day, for one week… well, you can see why a slave would be preferable.”
I had a distinct feeling that he charged a bit more than your common slaver, but I didn’t feel like I could trust any of the others. They might just grab anyone so they didn’t have to work very hard. I might end up with criminals or useless people. They might even lie about the costs so that they could pocket extra money. A slave would be restricted by my commands. Furthermore, she would want to do a good job to please her master and since she’d inevitably be affected by who she picked, she’d have a personal investment in picking the right people for the job.
In the end, she really was a woman worth her cost. Figuro had once again accurately determined what I needed and what I could afford. I could only sigh at how good he was at his job.
“Since you put it that way, I suppose I should buy her then.”