The days following Esmeralda’s addition to our team were rough. Both women bickered almost all day long before passing out after dinner. Each night I was turned into a punching bag by the sleeping women which was extremely frustrating. Eventually I had taken all that I could stand, and blew my lid.
“Alright both of you shut up!!”, I snapped, “We are traveling together whether you like it or not!! If either of you have any issues with it I will cook you medium rare do I make myself clear!!”
Both women stopped arguing, and nodded. The fighting stopped at that point in my presence which was really the only thing I wanted. With a now quiet atmosphere I asked what the next towns main good for trade was hoping to find some of it to sell. When I didn’t get a response I looked back at the two of them who looked like they didn’t want to speak about it.
“What’s wrong?”, I asked.
“The main trade in town is slaves.”, Esmeralda said.
“Oh…”, I said realizing my error.
“You wouldn’t know as you are from another world.”, Garmella said trying to cheer me up.
As we drew closer they gave me some information about the town. According to them apparent one could buy monsters or people if they had the money here. There were various forms of payment you could use, but not all slaves could be bought such ways. In addition to slaves the town also did well mining gold from the surrounding area. This meant mining companies needed a steady supply of expendable workers which the slavers were happy to provide. Both women had no urge to visit town, but our supplies were in dire need of refills.
Getting lost in the maze of canyons had cost us time, and supplies that were now gone. We had no choice, but to enter the slave town for money and supplies. I had promised Garmella that I wouldn’t sell her so she was relatively calm. Esmeralda had no such promise given to her though I certainly didn’t intend to sell her off either.
“Listen, I have no intention of selling either of you off. You are both my companions, and as such are equal to me in all measures…except chest size. Both of you trump me in the area by a large margin.”, I teased.
Both of them laughed lightheartedly before we entered town. As we entered town both women were stuck to me like glue. Neither one dared venture to far for fear of being taken by slavers. Normally they would fight back, but apparently if a nonhuman harms a human it is the same as signing your death warrant. With this in mind neither wished to press their luck. A slaver approached me attempting to buy the two women.
“You have two very fine women with you.”, he said rubbing his hands together, “Would they happen to be for sale?”
“Sadly they aren’t.”, I said wrapping my arms around them, “Do you think I’d give up waking up between two extremely attractive women? I would be a fool to sell such stunning women!”
Playing along both women pressed their chest up against me completing the image I wanted to give him. Knowing there wasn’t going to be a sale off he tried a different approach.
“Maybe you are in the market for an addition to your team?”, he asked.
“Actually we are looking for work before looking for anyone else to add to our team.”, I stated.
“Maybe I could interest you in a wager then.”, he said with a smile, “The annual Fighter Guild competition begins tomorrow. My usual entry met an untimely demise in the mines this year, and I am in need of a replacement. I would be willing to give you a slave, and the quality would depend on how you place. If you manage to take first I will let you select any slave you want.”
“What is in it for you?”, I asked.
“First, second, and third place get first picks on jobs the mining jobs. That equals big money so handing off a slave for the chance of getting loads of money is worth the risk.”, he said, “In addition, the winning fighter gets a huge bag of money so that is another incentive to win.”
I looked back at the two women for their input. Both knew I was strong so they said to go for it. I accept the job after signing some release paperwork. Go figure that even in this world people were overly protective of their businesses. The paperwork was just making sure I understood that he wouldn’t cover any death or medical expenses should I need them after a fight. Once everything was signed he told me to come back here in the morning to get ready for the fight.
I nodded before asking where the nearest in was. He told us to check on the main street as there were several inn’s in town. We thanked him for the information before wandering off to find the main road. After stumbling around like idiots for an hour or so we ended up on the main road. We went into the first inn, and booked a room for three nights with meals included. That ate up the remaining money we had so our financial success rested on my fighting abilities.
We bedded down for the night, and for the first time I wasn’t a punching bag. When the sun came up we got up to eat before leaving to meet the slave merchant again. He was eagerly waiting for us outside his shop with a small shield for me to use.
“This is a piece of gear with my shop’s name on it. Think of it as marketing for my shop. I hope you will use it with pride!”, he said handing it to me.
I gave him a cramped smile while accepting the shield. With that settled he asked if I wanted to see what the options were in his stock. Looking at the height of the sun I said I would look after the fight as I wanted to see what I was going up against. He agreed that was a smart idea, and took us to the combat arena. There were already several fighters in the ring getting warmed up for fight. I looked over to the slaver to ask how the fighting worked. Whether it was free-for-all, or if it was in stages had yet to be shared with me.
“It is a free-for-all combat style fight. Anything goes in the ring except getting outside help.”, he said.
I gave a smug grin because killing was allowed so I had a few advantages over competition. Feeling confident that I could wipe out most of the fighters in one go I started thinking of ways to fight those who I couldn’t kill right away. Thinking things over I came up with a few ideas from video games, once again, that could work in winning this fight. By the time I had settled plans in my mind it was time to climb in the ring. Hopping into the ring with the other fighters the fifty of us waited for the bell to sound. Once it was rung the fighting would start so I got ready to launch my spell. The instant it rang I launched my wide-range fire spell.
“Azurian Sky!”, I yelled casting the spell.
Once again the fireflakes appeared falling from the sky. The fighters started laughing at me till the first man burst into flames. The laughing stopped, and panic took it’s place. The fighter broke off fleeing the area, but it only caught them on fire. A few of the men got lucky by shielding their bodies with their shields. The spell’s weak point was it needed to touch bear skin in order to catch the person on fire. The soldier I killed in the forest had worn chainmail which was the sole reason the spell worked on them. As the shield had no holes to allow the spell through they were safe.
I have managed to kill off all, but four lucky men. As the spell wore off they recognized me as the chief threat so they worked together to attack me. One of them who carried a pike launched a flurry of jabs at me attempting to injure me. He was just a distraction though because the real attacker was a man wielding a longsword running up behind me. As I acquired the use of the “Pike Skill” I caught it mid attack, and ripped it from the mans grip. The man behind me didn’t realize his error till I ran the pike through his head using his momentum to drive the back-end of the pike though the owner’s chest.
The last two men were keeping their distance as they were using weapons with range. One man wielded a crossbow, and the other had a slingshot. Had I not killed everyone else first they may have died early on in the fight. With a grin I launched myself forward closing the gap between us to only ten feet.
“Listen! If you surrender now I will spare your lives.”, I said, “What say you?!”
The two of them said that they wanted to continue fighting so I played another trump card. I wasn’t sure if it counted as Fire Magic, but it did the video game I had played in highschool. Placing my hand on the ground I started repeating the spells incantation.
“Beast born of fire, and brimstone I call you forth. Vanquish my enemies to devour their souls. Heed my call, and server me faithfully…Beohemoth Flame Titan!”, I said.
A red magic circle appeared on the ground. A plume of intense fire rose from the circle causing any metal in the surrounding area to melt into molten metal. From within the plume emerged a pair of dragons wings seventy feet in length from tip to tip, and a tail about thirty feet long. As the beasts face appeared its prominent canines, and deer antlers bathed in flames turned the fighters pale with fear. As the plume disappeared the hundred foot tall beast glared down at them with two flame swords in its hands. Walking forward on its muscular goat legs the beast readied its swords to kill the men.
All while this is going on the crowd was going nuts with my display of magic. They were shouting that this was the most exciting fight they had seen in years. Some of the slave traders started complaining that my sponsor had cheated, but he was just as surprised as everyone else in the stands. He looked over at my companions who were cheering me on to ask them just who I was.
“Isn’t he amazing!!”, they replied with excitement.
The air in the arena started to move incredibly fast as the Behemoth swung its swords killing the men in an instant. As the beast disappeared because it’s task was completed the crowd started roaring with excitement. Raising my hand up with joy I started shouting out in my triumph. I started dancing like a goofball to celebrate as the referee came out with my trophy, and prize money. In total I won fifteen gold coins as a prize for coming in first. Surprisingly no one was visibly shaken by my display more than likely due to excitement.
I thanked the referee before returning to my companions in the stands. They were both filled with excitement from my easy victory. The three of us turned looking to the slave trader with big grins.
“A word once given.”, he said nodding his head.
The four of us walked back to his shop where his assistant was frantically running around. Apparently after wiping the floor with the competition requests started pouring in from everywhere. She was so overwhelmed she couldn’t think straight.
“Sir, we have over ten thousand gold coins in orders!!”, she said looking everything over, “We need to started getting our stock in soon!!”
His face broke out into a big smile. Hearing he already had that much in orders made him think anyone I would choose is a crumb. When he asked which gender I preferred I told him female.
“I don’t need someone trying to hit on my companions.”, I said.
He nodded in agreement as he would’ve thought the same in my place. Following him into the back I discovered he had all manner of races in his supply. Elves, Dwarves, Beastman, Demons, and many other races lined up in cages. I felt bad seeing the state they had all been reduced too, but I had to remember this wasn’t Earth I was on. I was in another world with a whole other set of rules that I had to get used too. The thing I kept telling myself was that I wouldn’t treat them as a slave, but as an equal depending on age.
“Alright, I think we can safely say elderly are out of your list as they are past their prime for fighting. I will show you the middle-aged down to children in case you feel like training one to fight…or for other reasons.”, he said.
Nodding we were shown the different women he had in stock which was actually quite depressing. These women had obviously been here a while because their living conditions were dreadful. Each of them looked like they were on the verge of death which creeped me out. The smell of decay was horrible almost making me throw up on the ground. Seeing the two healthy women with me the slaves threw themselves at me hoping to have a happy life.
“I apologize for their behavior. They have been in here for a while as business was slow for a time. Now that things are picking up I will have to get this place cleaned up for appearance sake.”, he said, “Now onto to the children’s area.”
As we walked over to that area I asked what the children had done to become slaves.
“If they are caught stealing, sold off, abandoned, or born via slave parents they become slaves. The kingdom has stricter guidelines on them though versus the adults only as far as testing for magic abilities. Those who possess those types of skills are bought by the government to become soldiers.”, he said.
Nodding we looked over the children who were in smaller cages. Their eyes were empty devoid of all life. My heart felt like it was going to be torn out of my chest from seeing the poor children. I felt so bad I wanted to take all of them, but that wasn’t a possibility. As we looked through the pens I spotted a race I hadn’t seen before. Looking at the young girl she was covered in short red fur that was filthy dirty. She had a bushy tail with a white tip on the end. On her head she had two small fur covered ears that were twitching away. My two companions realized where I was looking, and gave me some information.
“That young girl is from the Red Panda Tribe.”, Garmella said, “Not many of them on this continent at all. Their homeland is a small island halfway around the world.”
“You aren’t thinking of selecting her for…personal reasons, are you?”, Esmeralda said giving me a weird look.
Turning back to them I shook my head.
“I have no such urges for a child.”, I said firmly, “I just had never seen a child like that before. If you must ask though I think she is a good choice.”
“Why her?”, they asked.
“Well looking at the women our age, and up did any look strong enough to fight next to us?”, I asked.
They shook their heads no.
“Alright, now if we need someone small to assist us during our work I think she will fit the bill. If I remember correctly Red Panda’s are really good at picking up even the slightest noise. That skill alone is beneficial to us, and it helps she looked the healthiest.”, I said.
They deferred to my judgement as I was the one who one the fight. Secretly though I think they easily accepted it because they child wouldn’t be a threat to them. I pointed the girl out to the slaver who seemed a bit surprised.
“Red Panda Tribe people aren’t really suited for combat you know.”, he said making sure I was certain of my choice.
“I believe her peerless hearing will be of great use to us.”, I said.
Nodding he fetched the girl bringing her too us. She fiddled with her dress shyly looking at the ground. Kneeling down with a smile I told her that everything was going to be alright. I patted her messy hair gently calming her down. She looked me in the eyes before introducing herself.
“My name is Fauna.”, she said softly.
“Well that is a very pretty name.”, I said with a warm smile, “My name is Ace, and these are my companions Garmella and Esmeralda. We will be looking after you from now on, alright?”
She looked over into the adult cages causing me to ask if her parents were also here. He shook his no explaining they had passed during the harsh winter last year. The girl had been in shock after seeing her parents bodies carted off. She had no family to speak of so I decided to make her my adopted daughter at that point. Thanking him once again we left the shop heading into town to buy clothes for everyone.