The next few days continued to roll by without much else changing. The hunter’s path had now become just plain forest, and we continued to angle east towards the supposed direction of this monster colony. According to Dirk, we’d be reaching the border to the demon country by the end of the day. Strictly speaking, it wasn’t legal to cross the border.
That was one more reason that I wanted to do this mission outside of the Adventurer’s Guild. The guild held a ‘don’t speak, don’t tell’ attitude when it came to these kinds of things. Adventurers aren’t supposed to cross country borders, but it’s an unspoken assumption that it happens from time to time.
After the night Dirk took me by the campfire, he’d grown more brazen for the next couple of days. While I didn’t encourage him in the slightest, it was quickly growing to the point where he was grabbing me and feeling me up all the time. It wasn’t nearly to the extent of the times I had been with Ricardo and Denova whom I had used my abilities on, but it was problematic enough that even the other two guys were getting annoyed.
In the past, I might have asked Min to set him in his place, but I swore to myself I wouldn’t depend on Min anymore. That meant I simply tolerated the glances and inappropriate touching. Every night, he’d throw me on the hard ground. Quiet thrusts and grunts the first night had turned into full-on doggy after a few more nights, his balls slapping against my ass as he held a grip full of my hair. It was noisy enough that there wasn’t a chance Min wasn’t aware of what was going on.
The next morning after that, Tark had grabbed Dirk and the three adventurers went off a ways to have a discussion. There was some serious talk going on, but it appeared like Giff had cast a spell because I couldn’t hear any of it. Eventually, Dirk lowered his head while Tark said something with anger casted on his face. It was actually Giff who seemed like the one who brokering a peace between them. That next night, Dirk didn’t touch me at all.
Even after becoming Dirk’s sex toy, I was starting to trust the three men. Dirk’s behavior was at least tolerable. Meanwhile, the other men treated me with a certain level of distance. At the very least, I didn’t think they would cut my neck while I slept, so I went to the tent to rest early rather than continuing the double watch. In the morning, Min was angry that I didn’t wake him up, but we were fine so there was no reason to regret that decision.
“We can trust them now,” I explained.
“No, could betray.”
I had let out a sigh. “Look, I know you might be a little jealous, but there is no way Dirk is going to hurt me.”
Min’s eyes flashed at the word jealous, but then his eyes widened. “Is that why? Nevermind. Just… be careful.”
I put my hands on Min’s shoulders carefully while he continued to look up at me. “Look, Min… I’ll handle it. If something happens, I’ll fix it. You can depend on me!”
Min’s expression turned oddly dark at those words. “You… dependable…”
Given my tendency to sleep around, perhaps I’m not exactly dependable, but it hurt to hear Min disagree so blatantly. I tried to give him a reassuring smile.
“It’s okay, Min. I’m stronger than I look. I can handle it!”
I’ll become someone that doesn’t need to depend on Min. I swear it. However, Min’s appearance only seemed to become more bitter. His fist was tight enough that his fingers were white. Am… am I really so unreliable?
“Fine, Vessë.” Min responded tightly.
He turned and walked away. I had to fight the urge to reach out and grab him. In the end, I needed to give Min up. In the past, I depended upon my seduction, even if it was used passively, to continue to string Min along. I couldn’t do that anymore. If I wanted to grow as a person, I could no longer used him. Of course, it wasn’t lost on me that Min’s reliable nature still fueled out relationship with these escorts.
“We leave… tonight.”
Min only spoke those words to me a few hours later after the midday. We didn’t make a meal for lunch, instead depending on some dried bread and jerky. The men seemed to be picking up the pace near the border. Perhaps they feared that there were guard patrols. However, this far into the forest, where even the hunter’s trail had long disappeared, was highly unlikely to have any other human beings.
I nodded in response to Min’s words. “Tonight then?”
Min… I just need to depend on you a little while longer. We would abandon the men tonight and cross into the demon country. Then a few more days hard travel and we can find the succubus and incubus colony. I’d learn the secret to classing up, and when Min and I returned to town, I would leave in the night to find my own way. I’m sorry, Min.
However, those were thoughts for the future. For the upcoming night, it’d be easiest to slip the men by using my rock a bye skill. While still requiring the use of my body, it was one of the few skills that didn’t involve any extreme manipulation. When Dirk’s turn came up, I’d leap into his pants and knock him out. With all three men asleep, we could easily give them the slip.
“We’re near the border…” Tark spoke shortly after holding up his hand. “I’ll scout ahead just in case.”
“Need me?” Min asked cautiously.
Tark held up his hand, “No, not this time. Everyone just stay here. I should be right back shortly.”
Tark dashed off into the thicket without another word. Dirk only chuckled and gave the pair of us a smile while Giff ignored us. Min gave me a look, but it I found it hard to meet his eyes for a significant length of time. Instead, I watched the forest diligently for Tark’s return.
He returned surprisingly fast and gave a laugh. “Everything’s good!”
The two other men let out sighs as if they were holding back tension. Was crossing the border really something so taxing? I finally worked up the courage to give Min a questioning look, but he only responded with a shrug.
The pair of us continued to follow the three men as they made their way forward. We crossed a particularly thick barrier of foliage and came out into a surprisingly flat clearing. My eyes were focused on Dirk’s back so I had already taken a dozen steps into the clearing when I finally noticed that we weren’t alone in the clearing.
Standing in the middle was a large carriage, horses, and large grouping of people. The people took many shapes and forms. Some of them were wearing particularly ratty clothing. They all seemed to have tails and various shapes for ears denoting the presence of demons and demi-humans. There were others wearing armor. For a second I feared they were border patrol, but their dress was hardly uniform enough. Instead, they looked more like another group of adventurer’s on guard duty.
“What’s this.” Min asked as the pair of steps slowed a good twenty paces from the wagon.
Tark turned back and rose an eyebrow. “What, this? Ah, this is just a normal routine. We’re typically charged with transport. We pick up shipments from border of the demon country and deliver it into the human country. It’s a rather lucrative business just to work as a simple transporter of goods don’t you think?”
Although he was smiling, something seemed a bit off about what he was saying. My eyes scanned around the cart, and there was nothing there that looked to be goods for transport. Rather, there was something there as goods, but the implications were unsettling.
“You deal… in…” my voice drifted off, but Min picked it up.
“Slaves,” she responded simply.
“Human Traffickers,” I muttered in disbelief.
Dirk let out a laugh. “Well, when you say it that way it sounds bad… but none of these girls here are human, are they? Not that we’re that particular…”
I finally met the eyes of the people I had been avoiding. It was about five women, the ones wearing the shotty clothing, whom were all sitting in the carriage. They were chained up and they wore collars around their necks. It wasn’t much different than the collar that had been around Jenai and Min’s neck for so long.
“Who are these two?” The man who looked to be in charge asked, giving the pair of us a dark look.
“Ah, a gift? I hope your master graciously accepts. She’s beautiful, yes? Only a first class, but has a beauty to rival any third classer. Easy to control. “Tark spoke jovial and then gave Dirk a wry look. “And I’m told she’s good with her hands.”
“What?” for a moment, the words coming out of his mouth sounded strange and confusing.
Min pulled his sword just as a noise occurred behind us. He jumped into a dive, keeping someone from attacking him. They had some kind of belt in their hands and had made a lunge for his neck. My eyes widened as the realization started to sink in. This time my brain was working at full tilt. I wasn’t frightened anymore.
A body slammed from behind me as well. Before I could even react, I felt a click as something tightened around my throat. A moment later, hot breath spilled out across my cheek, smelling like sour milk.
“Don’t use any skills or resist, love, the consequences are dire.” A voice whispered into my ear.
I ignored the voice. “Jenai- aaah!”
A soon as tried to summon Jenai, a sharp pain exploded from every point in my body. My body felt like it was floating for a second, and when I recovered I was being dragged towards the wagon. I tried to resist, but each time a tingling sensation shot through my body and the part in question went numb. It was as if my very body wasn’t paying attention to my commands.
When I was finally tossed to the ground, the three adventurer’s I had just started to trust were arguing with the man who seemed to be the leader. However, my thoughts were still on escape. My last chance was to depend on Min again. It pained me to think of it that way, but Min might very well be my only hope at salvation.
“Min!” I let out a cry as I tried to stand back up.
A foot stomped down on my leg and I collapsed back into a kneeling position, but I still could look around now. The sound of someone being shoved down next to me caused the blood to drain from my face. Min was forced onto his knees just like me. He was also in a collar. The major difference is that his face looked like it had taken a beating. He wore a swollen eye, a bleeding lip, and a gash on his cheek. It was at that point that the words of the conversation in front of me finally caught my ear.
“-calling that a gift. Two of our men our dead now because of this elf. One beauty hardly accounts for the loss, even if he’d make a good warrior in the pits.”
“Doesn’t that speak more to the incompetence of your guards?” Tark responds, receiving a dark look from a few of the men, one even going so far as to draw his sword.
“Watch it, Tark.” The man stated, scratching his neck before shaking his head with a sigh.” Well, either way, since this was a gift, I suppose I shouldn’t be too angry. I’ll call it even after taking the elf’s head. Next time don’t try to give us any surprise presents.”
Head? Elf’s head. The men spoke so casually about such things that the thoughts didn’t really crash home, but the elf in question was undoubtedly Min. A moment later, the leading man pulled out a sword from the saddle of a nearby horse and began to approach the pair of us. His eyes were fixed on Min, who glared back at him through puffy eyes defiantly.
“No!” I shouted, trying to move forward. “No! Not Min.”
“Shut the woman up!” The man barked.
Pain erupted throughout my body once again. Like when I had tried to summon Jenai, it seemed to explode everywhere at once. It felt a bit like getting electrocuted, but it had a gnawing bite that seemed to tear at the insides.
Two men had their grips on Min, pulling his head forward. The final man raised his sword. His expression wasn’t gleeful or sadistic. In fact, it was completely relaxed. In many ways, this was far more terrifying. To this man, murder wasn’t something to excite or enjoy. It simply was a means to an end.
“S-sh-she’s a man!” I screamed with all the force, getting the words out even as my mouth cramped.
I lunged forward, my body having very little control with everybody part numb. The man holding up the sword’s eyes widened in surprise as I flopped over to Min, throwing my arms around him. I didn’t look back at the person who had been restraining me, but my unexpected movements had seemed to catch him off guard too. A second later, I did the same thing I had done a week early.
Using the last bit of strength I had, I ripped open Min’s shirt before collapsing. Although not large, her wrapped chest clearly showed feminity that couldn’t be denied. I collapsed to the ground as Min looked at me silently. The expression on her face looked surprised, but it quickly grew cloudy too. Again I had ripped away Min’s masculinity. For as much as Min wanted to be seen as a man, I threw out his pride and revealed the girl underneath.
“Wh-what is this?” those were the words of Tark. “He was a she all this time? How ridiculous.”
The pain continued to rotate through my body. I tried to reach up to Min to grab her, but I couldn’t. I had ripped off Min’s clothes, bared her as an elf woman in front of a group of slave traders. It was done in a panic, but I had may have just condemned her to a fate potentially worse than death. I had promised to pay her back, and in the end my mistakes would destroy her.
The slavemaster with a sword in hand, Min bare with her modest chest exposed, and me convulsing on the ground. That was the scene I left as unconsciousness took me.