“I’m sorry, Master! I’m so sorry!” Lydia was bowing on the ground.
“Weak Heal!” I said after pulling the knife out with a whimper.
After escaping the ghost town, Lydia had picked me up and carried me back to Adventurers Guild. Of course, I could have healed myself in the town square, but she was so panicked I didn’t have a chance to tell her. Now, I was healing myself while revealing the state of the city of Old Chalm to the Guild Master. Everyone was shaking their heads in disbelief. Those that had been in Old Chalm seemed to have eyes filled with familiarity and just a hint of fear.
The Guild Master shook his head. “I didn’t realize things had gotten so bad there. After your performance in the dungeon, I think I took your abilities for granted. I’m sorry.”
“No, I took this mission willingly.” I shrugged. “Besides, who says I’m done there?”
“We’re going back?” Lydia’s head raised, and fear shone back on her face.
“We need a bigger party.” I sighed. “Regrettably, I didn’t realize Lydia was a scaredy-cat about these things.”
“Sorry…” She responded tearfully, so I patted her on the head to let her know it was okay.
“I’d like someone who is good with ghosts. What about that priest in town?”
“He should be back any day now. He tends to go on pilgrimages.” The Guild Master explained but then sighed. “However, he’s no battle priest. About all he is good for is changing a few jobs and charging exorbitant prices.”
“Who else can I get to come with me?”
“In this city?” The big sister who was sitting nearby and listening with interest snorted, “You’d have better luck visiting one of the nearby cities.”
“There is always the slave block.” The Guild Master suggested hesitantly. “I wouldn’t normally recommend it, but any slave you bought would have to join you.”
“What kind of slave would work?” I asked. “Is there a priest slave?”
He leaned back thoughtfully. “It’d be rare to find a priest turned to slavery. The church is usually a stickler about that sort of thing. All priests have some ties to the church. Although they can be rented out or sent on pilgrimages, owning one is considered dangerous. Having no individual autonomy, they’d be like a dark priest. Rather, you’d be looking for someone with a high spiritual energy.”
“Hey, Deek, you remember how the dungeon seemed to wear on our minds the longer we were there?” The big sister added. “That’s a kind of spiritual attack. Most dungeons have them… but ghosts attack in the same way. They attack the spirit, not the body. This is why so many people have such a fear for ghosts, where we can handle the zombies. They literally induce fear by attacking your very lifeforce! I’ve heard catkins and related animalkins are particularly vulnerable to this kind of attack.”
“I’m sorry…” Lydia was nearly in tears.
“It’s okay, you couldn’t help it.” I couldn’t stand to see her sad.
I gently stroked her ears until her eyes closed and she started to relax again. She put her head on my arm and started purring, her tail lashing back and forth from between the spokes of the chair.
“You’ve grown close to her.” The big sister said, crossing her arms in a way that emphasized her enlarged chest, a somewhat pouty expression on her face.
“Ah… Haha…” I laughed awkwardly. “She’s important to me.”
Her purring grew louder unexpectedly. The big sister blinked and then let out a sigh of helplessness. I’m sorry, big sis, but I just don’t see you that way. Plus, I think you might break me in bed.
“Jobs with high spirit would be things like Shrine Maidens, Paladins, Templars, Inquisitors, Necromancers, Shamans, Druids… well, just about anyone with strong magical ability. Someone with Lydia’s job is pretty useless against ghosts. I recommend you find a spell caster.”
“Alright, I’ll look for a magic-casting slave then. Perhaps someone who can read.” I stopped and glanced over at Lydia. “Is that okay with you?”
Lydia looked up at me and blinked.
“Master is Master. Since I am weak and can’t do what master needs… one more slave is okay.” Then her voice dropped dramatically, and she spoke completely to herself. “As long as it’s not a pretty girl.”
“What did you say?”
“Nothing, Master. Let’s go.”
We decided to take a break for the night after the long day we just had. We enjoyed a cheap meal at the inn. Money was tight right now, especially when I needed to purchase a slave in the morning. I was still using my hero status for free room and board. That meant Lydia was sleeping in my room. I bought her an additional meal, but I was quickly finding out she mostly ate meat when given a choice. Had I known our turkey drumsticks in the dungeon were actually her preferred meal, I might have hung on to them and kept purifying them.
That night, Lydia was still shaken up over the spiritual attack she had suffered in the city, so I gave her some space. That is to say, she held me tightly all night long, and when she woke up in the middle of the night from nightmares, I patted her head until she went back to sleep. Lydia had grown tough in the dungeon, but in many ways, she was still very vulnerable, especially when it came to our relationship. As someone inexperienced, I was the same way. For the moment, I was happy letting things remain the way they were.
The next morning, we decided to walk to the slave caravan. I didn’t want to use my portal in case something else came up later today and I needed it. I also had some desire to experiment using it and my Dungeon Point System, but that would have to wait until later. For the moment, it was nice walking with Lydia by my side on a sunny day. Walking was growing a lot easier for me. I had been walking miles every day, and I felt in my gut that I was getting a lot more fit. By the time this was all over, I might actually have a six-pack.
Checking my pocket, I had five gold, so it should be enough to pay for a normal slave. I just needed someone to help cast spells now. I didn’t mind fighting myself, but I refused to do it alone. The doll had caught me by surprise, but when it came to most scary things, I typically could maintain my calm. Once we picked out a slave, I would return to the seamstress, pick out stuff for the new recruit and then hit the accessory shop. There had to be some kind of spiritual protection I could get for Lydia and admittedly myself. Although White Mage increased my spiritual attack resistance, direct ghost attacks were still hard to handle.
We passed the guards, who waved us right in, recognizing Lydia and me from earlier. It was only a few minutes before Figuro made an appearance.
“Hello, distinguished guest!” He bowed. “You couldn’t possibly be back with 100 gold already?”
“Hah…” I laughed. “I’m working on that, but it turns out I need some help.”
“Help, is it?” Figuro scratched his chin. “Since you came here, that would mean you need a slave, yes?”
“Ah… yes, it turns out that is the case.”
“Come, walk with me, let me know what you’re particularly looking for.” Figuro asked.
“Well, I need someone who can read.” I explained. “A strong spiritual strength would be good. Oh… and magical ability.”
“A man!” Lydia suddenly said.
“Huh?” I looked over at her.
“He wants a strong man!” Lydia shot me a look.
I laughed wryly. “When you say it that way, I sound like your last Master…”
Figuro chuckled. “I’m glad to see you and the missus are getting along well. I’ll go check in the back and see if there is anyone that meets those requirements.”
Figuro walked away, and we were left waiting. I noticed a couple of slaves carrying a long stretcher. On the stretcher, was a familiar person. It was the pale animalkin girl I had seen in the sick caravan. She was a foxgirl with pale, ashy hair. On her eyes were two stones.
“What’s going on here?” I asked as they brought her out and laid her down on a large bedding set in the middle of the camp.
A guard leaned forward. “That’s nothing special. They’re just burning a corpse. She was always a sickly thing. It finally got the best of her and she died last night.”
“It’s sad to see someone so young perish.” I said stiffly.
The guard shrugged and spit. “She’s a slave.”
Of course, the guards and slavers valued life a bit differently. However, a strange girl’s life and death had nothing to do with me. Rather, I needed to be taken back into a large tent. As we walked in, we noticed a row of naked men.
“Ah!” Lydia blushed and turned away. “I forgot about these lineups. They were so embarrassing.”
There was a lineup of men, but there was a sheet hung up and the other side contained a lineup of women. In total, there were eight people placed out, five women and three men. Only one of them appeared to be of human origin.
“Hey… psst.” A voice sounded in my ear; I looked around, but I didn’t see anything.
Figuro beckoned me in, and I stood in front of the room, giving me a view of both the men and the women on either side of the sheet.
“Need they be naked?” I asked, fighting my eyes from wandering to the female side, especially when Lydia glowered at me.
“It is customary. We don’t want any surprises when you get home.” Figuro shrugged helplessly. “Let me introduce them first. All eight slaves are knowledgeable in reading.”
“Hey… psst… I can read too.” The words buzzed in my ear.
Looking around, I couldn’t see which slave had said those words. They must have some ability to throw their voice or something. The others didn’t even seem to be aware they talked.
“The human on the far right, is a necromancer…”
I let out a cough. “Pass…”
After fighting that necromancer and all those undead, I actually had enough of necromancers.
Figuro immediately went on to the next one. “This man is extremely loyal. Although dogkin are not known for fearlessness, they will obey their Masters. I wouldn’t say his spirit resistance is greater, but he will be willing to continue to obey even after receiving a great deal of spiritual damage.”
“I don’t really want to force someone to do something that will cause them great pain. I’m sorry, next.”
The slaves who were passed over didn’t seem to mind in the slightest. It seemed like the slaves here were treated well. At least, the ones outside were dressed better than Lydia was when I first met her, and they looked like they were fed well.
“This slave got into a lot of debt. He has a job as a Warlock, level 15. Three gold. He’s a bit cheap because Priests won’t change a Warlock job. It’s part of their forbidden list.”
“Oh? Aren’t they one of the ones that are good with ghosts?” I asked sheepishly.
“Warlock magic dwindles on the dark side.” Figuro patiently explained. “They definitely have an affinity with ghosts.”
“I’ll consider him, but let’s go through the rest.”
We went through the women. Most had one or more issues with them until we reached the last woman. She was a very busty woman with long black hair and piercing eyes. She looked very sexy and voluptuous, and it took all my effort to not stare at her massive fun bags. She was about the same age as big sister, but had no rough edges. No, she was all curves. Furthermore, she appeared to be some kind of wolfkin species.
“She is an apprentice to a magician, level 10,” Figuro explained. “She’s a bit pricey. It’ll cost ten gold coins for her, but considering our previous deal, I’m willing to drop it to 7. All slaves fill out a sheet of wants and desires. Under willingness to sleep with their Master, she marked no restraint, that’s to say you can do whatever you want to her body and she won’t resist. Besides being beautiful, she is also well skilled in taking care of a home. Women typically go for more than men, particularly beauties like her and your tigerkin.”
“Why is she only ten coins, whereas Lydia was hundreds?” I had to ask.
“A few reasons. She’s a nearly twice the age of your tigerkin. Her species is black wolfkin, a very common breed. A magician apprentice is a somewhat standard job. Finally, she killed her last master.”
“Wait, she what?”
“Ahem…” Figuro suddenly looked awkward. “Her master was a Master Magician and was seventy… she… um… sexed him… into a heart attack. He was resurrected, of course, but the doctors said she was a bit too stimulating for his heart, and he had to give up training her. She perhaps would be farther along in her education if her Master hadn’t been too distracted with other things to properly train her.”
As Figuro spoke, the girl met my eyes and winked, a very seductive smile on her face. I quickly counted up the coins in my hand. If the Haggle ability worked, then it would drop down to a little over 5 gold coins. That was all the money I had. I wouldn’t even have any for food or clothing, but I could just scrape by and purchase her. She was a perfect beauty, strong against ghosts, and a witch had to be powerful with great potential to be more powerful. Just imagining myself with my head between those melons was causing me to lose my senses.
“The warlock.” Lydia suddenly stepped forward, pointing at the more qualified man from before.
I looked down at Lydia. She was glaring at me with puffed out cheeks and a stubborn expression. It appeared I had been overruled. That was right, if it came to survival, it was more important to have someone of sufficient skill. I had let my hormones rule my common sense for a moment. I let out a nervous laugh, my senses returning to me.
“Ah… I guess. We’ll take the ma-”
“Hey… wouldn’t you rather have me?” A girl said in an obstinate voice.
Right in front of me was another naked girl who wasn’t in line with the rest. Her long dirty blonde, nearly white hair seemed to strategically cover up all her best places, which admittedly weren’t much, as her chest was barely an A and her body was small and scrawny, even compared to Lydia. Since I had been feeding Lydia, she filled out a bit and had a very average female body. This girl, on the other hand, looked like a runt, and no amount of food would fix that. She had a massive bushy tail, no, it was nine bushy tails all spread out from her back. Her skin was even paler than when I saw her outside. She had two long ears too. Fox ears. She was also… a bit see-through. You see, the foxgirl was hovering a couple of feet above the ground.