The god who had given me those abilities had never given hard and fast rules on how they worked. They leveled as I used them. It seemed that Minion Master increased based on my minion’s faith in me. The more they believed in me, the higher my level, and thus the more minions I could acquire. On the opposite side, the builder hadn’t leveled at all since I had gotten it. As I built a more complex house and earned more money, new options had presented themselves, but I had never reached a new level until now.
The new level seemed to allow me to buy additional properties. I recalled when I first got the ability that I would eventually be able to build and control an entire city, but at that point, I had been limited to my single starting building. It seemed like I couldn’t build another building just yet, but if I wanted to buy another property, it would also spawn under my builder skill. Of course, I could have bought another building if I had the money or the strength at any time. However, that wouldn’t have had anything to do with this skill. It gave me much to think about.
While I was thinking about my sudden level-ups and how I’d use them for the future, the distribution of food had increased from a spattering to a flood. As more and more women sat down and ate, and it was clear they wouldn’t be offering the food to those in hiding, the remaining women finally came out. Most of them were timid and stand-offish, but whether it was Elizabeth’s easy-going smile or the delight of those already served, the women came and collected their food.
The town square became unusually crowded and loud. Demons who had business in the area could only watch in wonder at the sea of women who they had previously not even noticed happily chatting and eating. The buzz in the air seemed to change the atmosphere, and even the demons seemed to feel slightly more at ease by the jovial atmosphere. The usually quiet and stiff atmosphere started to seem like the problem, while this level of activity felt more like the norm.
“Excuse me…” A quiet voice whispered toward Alleya as she made the next plate. “Is it true that if you work for… for… them, you can eat like this every day?”
Elizabeth had to make more of the food, so Alleya had begrudgingly put in the task of distribution. The girl has used the point when they were closest to speak. Her eyes only glanced my way once. Although I heard her, I pretended I wasn’t aware of the conversation and continued to relax in my lounge as I made Daphne rub my feet.
What? I wasn’t trying to trick the girls. The name of the gig was satisfying demons. I wasn’t so bold to have Daphne blow me in public as some demons would do, but they needed a taste of the expectations coming my direction. People could be dumb sometimes, especially when they were desperate. Some of them would sign on for the food without ever connecting it to the tasks they knew they must perform.
I wasn’t just lying around being lazy. I was giving them a demonstration of the kinds of jobs they’d be expected to perform if they stuck with us. The foot massage was quite nice. Perhaps, I should open up a masseuse parlor too. It was another business that previously didn’t exist… and it certainly had close connections to the prostitute business.
I wasn’t the only one who seemed to hear the girl though. Although she had spoken extremely quietly and the courtyard was rather lively, the other girls in line behind her had also zeroed in, their heads half turned as they listened for the answer.
“Yes, we can eat food like this every day,” Alleya answered, giving a gorgeous smile.
I breathed a bit easier after seeing that. Originally, it was Elizabeth who was supposed to be the one who would talk to them. Her ability to manipulate emotions made her very skilled at talking to people. However, I had forgotten that Alleya was once the princess, and she likely had some pretty decent talking skills too.
What she said was also technically a lie. The food we were distributing was pretty cheated. The girls ate quite a bit better than that. However, after discussing it with them, we decided that if they talked things up honestly, the naturally mistrustful women would think they were lying or being coerced. By keeping the expectations low, they would only become more excited once they started achieving benefits.
After Alleya spoke, the girls behind the one who spoke started whispering to each other in excited tones. The one in front shook slightly, but her eyes were still filled with suspicion and mistrust.
“You have to… do things… with demons.” Her words weren’t a question.
“Do you think anything is free?” Alleya asked.
The girl’s eyes widened, and I couldn’t help but be tense. We had known that such a question was going to be asked, which was why we had gone through a specific answer. Alleya had decided to deviate from the script. Rather than reassure them, she sounded almost confrontational. I could see Elizabeth’s lips tighten, but she also couldn’t leave the food or risk burning it.
“O-of course I don’t…” She responded, “This is completely different.”
“How?” Alleya quirked an eyebrow.
“Y-you… You’re just selling your body!” The girl accused, her voice rising to the point that everyone could hear. “You’re not better than me.”
Alleya raised an eyebrow. “I’m better fed. I’m better dressed. I sleep under a roof and I don’t have to worry about tomorrow. So, tell me, how am I not better than you?”
The girl wasn’t expecting Alleya to challenge her. Her expression was extremely flustered and she had taken a step back. Their conversation was also no longer private. Alleya had spoken at a normal volume, and the courtyard had quieted down, allowing every woman there to hear what she had said, challenging words meant to embarrass the other girl.
The other girl’s face turned red, and then she throughout a hand. “You’re nothing but a slut! A whore of the demons! You’re trash!”
She had yelled out those words to the point that every eye was on the pair of them. She was breathing hard with rage on her face, while Alleya remained cool and collected. I was about to stand up and intervene, but I saw Alleya’s hand hidden behind the table. She gestured for me to stay put.
“You have one thing wrong,” Alleya spoke in the same tone as before, seemingly unperturbed by the commotion she had created. “I am a lady of the night. Can you even call yourself a lady anymore?”
“Y-you…” The girl gave one last dirty look, and then spun and ran away.
She was still holding the plate that Alleya had given her. Even as angry as she was, she wasn’t willing to give up the meal.
“Next,” Alleya spoke in a flat voice, and the next girl in line jumped before stepping forward.
However, that girl only reached the front of the table before her eyes went up and she froze.
“Alleya, we should speak.” I had gotten up from my lounge and was now standing next to her.
Being so closed to a demon, it was no wonder that the girls in line became skittish. Her behavior wasn’t what I expected. She didn’t run away or look scared. She blushed and dropped her eyes. I wouldn’t have been surprised had she suddenly given me a curtsy. I ignored her, as my focus was on Alleya. I wanted to know why she deviated from the script.
“Every girl out there is thinking the same thing. They fear the unknown. They fear those words and those accusations because they have the same ones brewing in the back of their mind.”
“So, I allowed her to voice them… not just for herself, but for every girl present. Now that they’ve heard them, and seen that nothing changed even when they were spoken, they will start to think.”
I supposed Alleya’s words did make a kind of sense. However, I still wasn’t satisfied. I reached out and grabbed Alleya by her slim waist, and then pulled her to me. Looming over her, I looked down into her eyes as she looked up at me.
“Even so, consult me next time you wish to go off the script. We don’t know how those words might spread. I don’t want to turn them against me. Tonight, you’re going to apologize to me with your body.”
Alleya smiled, her eyes wet. “Master truly doesn’t understand women. However, I don’t mind that. Master can get whatever apology he wants from me. I won’t break.”
I snorted, and then let her go as we were attracting increasingly more eyes. “Daphne, come, we’ll get more supplies.”
“Ahh… so heavy… I’m not a fucking courier!”
“Just do it.”
Just before I was out of earshot though, I heard a strange exchange between Alleya and the next girl.
“If I join you, w-will I also need to offer him my body?” The girl asked nervously.
“Only if you’ve been a good girl,” Alleya responded.
The girls started talking excitedly. Perhaps Alleya was right. Maybe I didn’t understand women.