Volume 1 — Different World Life, Start
12. The Curse-Slave Market — 2
There were many dealers at the curse-slave market.
Now, I was about to buy, no, contract a slave from one…
I don’t know very well the slavery system of this world which is different from slavery on Earth.
When someone with a ‘curse’ serves for 5 years, that ‘curse’ is dispelled.
Because of that, people who wish to have their curse removed contact a dealer to form an ‘attendance contract’ with someone like me who needs a curse-slave. Then after 5 years of servitude, the ‘curse’ is removed.
I don’t know very much about the ‘curse’, but I understood the system.
So, a curse-slave dealer is something like an employment agency in Japan, I suppose. The person registered there is called a ‘curse-slave’. A contractor is like a client.
Huh, in that sense, it seems rather normal. But I’m curious about the expression ‘slave’. Why such a bad term…?
The dealer recommended to me 3 curse-slaves.
The 1st person was a handsome and strong-willed type of man. 20 gold coins.
The 2nd person was a cat-eared therianthrope boy without a left arm. 5 gold coins.
The 3rd person was a slender type? with a handsome face and long forelocks. 9 gold coins.
“Just to confirm… are there no female curse-slaves?”
“Ah, so you’d prefer women after all.”
“Sorry, you looked nervous so I was just joking to lighten the mood. I apologise if I made you feel uncomfortable. Also, I do have women in my store, my bad.”
The old man said, “Sorry,” rather downheartedly.
Rather, he was trying to make me relaxed with a joke… Are old men making dirty jokes is a global language or something? It’s tiring.
“Female escorts are more expensive. Moreover, there are some idiotic adventurers who mistake their parties as harems.”
Now, what should I do? To be honest, men… I’m not used to them, so I was thinking of getting a woman. …However, looking at this street, there weren’t many women.
Then, there’s these 3… no, the first handsome man is over my budget so I have choose out the other two. I can contract with the therianthrope and the man that’s cheap for some reason.
Thinking about the future… First I have to get through the ‘forest of the lost’ to my house. On the way, I need someone to fight monsters. I’m in charge of support. Then… wouldn’t lacking an arm be dangerous?
“Well, I do get a girl wanting a woman. But lass, are you related with House Melditi? You were talking with Clef-sama and Alfred-sama before, right?”
While I was pondering what I should do, Clef-san and Alfred-san’s names were brought up. Huh… I did talk to them, but… is he acquaintances with them? When I continued to look at him with a question mark, he started explaining.
“Those two are famous people, no one in this country doesn’t know them. When you said that you’re going to get a curse-slave, Clef-sama was glaring around the area. I see you’re precious to them.”
“Eh! I never knew…! Really?”
“Truly. So I didn’t get any dangerous slaves near you, haha! Besides, curse-slave contracts are formed with magic so there’s no danger to the master. If you don’t like your curse-slave, you can return him within 3 days.”
There was Clef-san’s assistance before I knew it…! I have to thank him the next time I meet him…!
After vowing so in my heart, I turned around to the therianthrope boy. But, a return period…? Maybe it’s something like a cooling-off period.
“Return within 3 days… what does that mean?”
“Aah, so you don’t know the curse-slave system very well. After a dealer sells a curse-slave to a customer, there is the obligation to provide the customer a 3 days refund period. This, if the contracted curse-slave is not to your liking, you can get back the money you spent on contracting if you return the curse-slave to the place you purchased from. However, if the condition is not the same as when returning, you can’t get back the same amount. Of course, this applies to my store too. So most people buy in bulks when curse-slaves. Of course, that Clef-sama too! Because you can get a refund! Haha! Ah, but if you do it 3 times in a row you get blacklisted so be careful.”
Such a system existed. Then in contract to the tone slavery has, there are quite a few rules to it, I guess? If it’s the same condition as when bought, that would mean no additional wounds. Mn~… this is hard to decide.
While I was agonising, the old man started explaining about the curse-slaves.
“His name is Shin. Apparently the village he was living in got attacked by bandits. For now, he can wield a knife with his right hand. However, he won’t be very good at defending.”
Seeing my gaze pointing towards the therianthrope, the old man started explaining.
What an episode… it’s a life that makes my life pale in comparison, Shin-kun.
I could really feel that it’s different from Japan here.
“So, with your budget, these two are alright with you?”
“Yes… that’s right. Also… I want to go to the forest of the lost.”
“Sure thing. Aah… the one near here? That one’s shallow so I think either of them would do. By the way, this one here’s good with the staff. He’s Ikuru. However… he can’t see with his left eye, and his right isn’t very good either.”
So that was why his gaze didn’t have focus.
The lightless eyes felt as though there was a fog over it. However, somewhere, somehow, my gaze was drawn into that eye…
“Your eyes… will they not get better?”
I gently sat down in front of the cage and asked Ikuru-san.
He lifted his head slightly and looked at me. Then he opened his mouth and answered.
“The doctor… said that it’ll never heal. The right I can still see with will also slowly lose sight.”
Looks like a full recovery can’t be hoped.
It’d be a relief if it can be cured using restoratives (potions). But then, he would have already healed… it’s probably not possible. It doesn’t look like he has any special injuries… maybe it’s a disease of sorts? Thinking of that, I suddenly thought of Hana. …I wonder if she’s healthy? It looked like Hana was happy in the photo I received from god… Aah, no good, I’m getting teary-eyed.
There was Ikuru-san, who almost can’t see, and Shin-kun. I reached my hand out to Ikuru-san.
“It might be tough with a bad eye, but if it’s alright with you…… will you come with me?”
“…! I can barely see with my right eye, but sometime later I’ll become completely blind though…? You’ll still form a contract with me?”
“Yes, is that no good…?”
“There’s no way that’s bad, lass. Let’s form the contract quickly.”
“Eh… ah, yes.”
While I was talking with Ikuru-san, the dealer suddenly butted in. Certainly, the dealer stands to lose if I change my find from Ikuru-san’s vague answer.
I took out 9 gold coins from my rucksack and handed it over to the old man.
“I properly received 90,000 Ril. Then, we’ll be forming the curse-slave contract, so lend me your ID. Also, I need your left hand.”
I didn’t think I’d need the ID.
The man placed the ID on some sort of box device… a magic tool? On top of that, I was told to place my left hand so I quietly followed the order. On top of that, only Ikuru-san’s left hand was out of the cage then placed on the device. Then the device shone and Ikuru-san’s left hand… no, his left pinky finger also shone.
“Okay, with this the contract is complete. Would you like an explanation, lass?”
“Alright. Just now, with your ID, the information that Ikuru is a curse-slave was engraved. With this, he is now formally your curse-slave. A curse-slave is controlled through the crest on the left pinky finger which is connected to the master. Simply said, a curse-slave can’t attack their master, and if “Order,” is recited while saying something to the curse-slave, it’s impossible to refuse that. If refused, a great pain shoots up through the body. However, this ‘order’ can only be used 3 times, so please don’t forget that.”
“Ehhh… that’s too scary.”
“It’s just a safety device. On Ikuru’s pinky finger, there should be an crest that formed from your magic and his magic mixing together. Try checking it.”
The old man took Ikuru-san’s hand and showed it to me. When I took a look at his left pinky finger, there was a crest formed like a ring. There was a small flower in full bloom, with grasses surrounding it as if to protect it.
“The curse-slave crest is affected by the contractor and the curse-slave, so there are many forms. Normally, it’s just a simple single-shaded line, but if there are wave patterns or other shapes it means that the compatibility is good. If so, the contractor’s magic is transferred through that crest that the curse-slave can power up…”
“It’s like a garland… cute.”
While he was explaining about the curse-slave crest, I let out an honest exclamation. Alerted at my voice, the old man and Ikuru-san’s attention was focused on the finger. Without saying anything, just looking at the pinky finger, a rather awkward silence continued. A while later, the old man spoke up first.
“Such a splendid crest… it’s the first time I’m seeing one like this.”
“Usually, there’s just one line for the crest. A slight curve would be considered lucky. Lass and Ikuru’s compatibility can only be thought of as fateful, not just lucky.”
“I-Is that so…?
“Ah. As a final note… providing the minimum is enough for a curse-slave. However, if there’s harsh treatment, the curse-slave can sue you so be careful. Also, after 5 years the curse-slave contract expires so don’t forget that. For that, please go to a proper office instead of a dealer like me. For that, just one person going is enough so there are many times a curse-slave goes there on their own after the 5 years.”
If there’s cruel treatment, I could be sued… Right, if there’s such a system, than I feel a bit better.
I looked at Ikuru-san’s pinky finger again.
Indeed, there was a cute crest like a garland. The dealer said that it’s the first time he saw something like that, so I guess it really is rare.
I, in contrast to how weak I am, I get really great results for things like these… making restoratives (potions), cultivating medicinal plants. Those and the curse-slave crest this time. Anyhow, should I just think that I’m lucky?
Afterwards, Ikuru-san was brought out of the cage and we left the curse-slave market.
◇ ◇ ◇
“Now then… I’m Kusunoki Hinami. Please take care of me, Ikuru-san.”
“Please take care of me. …Also, I am a curse-slave, so please call me ‘Ikuru’ without any honorific.”
“Eh… but I’m younger?”
“You are my master.”
“Mn… okay, Ikuru.”
While walked a step ahead, he followed behind quietly.
To be honest, I’m quite nervous. Because I was planning on buying a female curse-slave. Now it feels like there’s an idol next to me.
Right, at times like these, food is the best…! After I walked a bit, there was a restaurant 3 metres ahead. I told Ikuru that we should eat and entered the store.
On the wooden building, there was a large window. The bright place was lively with a lot of people.
“Now, what should we eat—? …Eh?”
What’s this now. Ikuru was standing behind me, not moving.
When I turned around with a troubled expression on my face, Ikuru had a question mark on his face.
“Ikuru… we’re going to eat, aren’t you going to sit down?”
“I… I am your curse-slave. Sharing a table would be unthinkable.”
“……Won’t you sit down?”
Maybe because I felt a bit irritated, my voice got somewhat lower.
But are curse-slaves not supposed to share their tables with their masters? Such a rule can go eat shit! Maybe feeling that I was on edge, Ikuru looked sorry.
“Ah… sorry. I lived alone in the forest, so I don’t have much common sense.”
While thinking what I should do, I asked for an order of today’s recommended menu for 2 people. Then he also made a surprised face. Maybe ordering food for Ikuru too is surprising as well…?
I’m not regretting it, but it seems like curse-slaves aren’t directly taken care of. Seeing Ikuru’s reaction, it doesn’t seem like curse-slaves get good… treatment. Then, I won’t be able to comply with the common way of the curse-slave system… I think. I want to treat him normally. I wonder if it’s the quality of being a modern Japanese?
“First… I want to have a proper talk with Ikuru.”
“What might it be?”
“Mn. I did really purchase you and formed a contract… but I probably won’t be treating you like how you saw curse-slaves normally got treated like. Anyhow… I don’t know what the common sense is, but you can’t sit together nor eat together… something like that.”
“Master is… kind.”
“Also, that tone. If I had to say… isn’t the way you spoke inside the cage your normal speech? I’d like you to speak like that.”
“…Is that, an order?”
“No. It’s a request!”
It feels like Ikuru is drawing back a bit from my glare, but I can’t give this up. Rather, I have to push him until he starts sweating…! A silent battle continued for a while. 1 minute… 3 minutes… 5 minutes later, Ikuru gave up. It’s my victory…!!
“Alright, I’ll do as my master says.”
“Hi! Na! Mi!”
“No matter how much you glare at me, this is the limit.”
I really wanted him to drop the honorific, but it seemed like the limit for Ikuru, as a curse-slave, so I quietly pulled back. Compared to before, the method was forceful, but there’s some progress. I though positively.
While we were talking, the dishes arrived. Looks like today’s lunch is a stir-fry of chicken and vegetables. Yesterday, I could have meat for the first time after 2 years, and then I could have meat again today, what happiness.
As the two of us enjoyed the meal, I explained future plans to Ikuru. When I explained that I needed an escort to get back home, he looked exasperated. Mn, I feel a bit sorry for some reason.
◇ ◇ ◇
After the meal, Ikuru and I headed to the weapons store on the street.
Of course to buy something for Ikuru.
When I went into a store with a sign that had swords, I ended up shouting in surprise from the grandeur. Because, going into a weapons store like this wouldn’t be a normal experience.
On the wall, there were swords, staves, and even bows and arrows. There were many expensive-looking swords hanging on the walls like decoration, while cheap ones or ordinary-looking ones were in boxes on the floor.
I headed straight to the wall with the staves. Ikuru followed behind and looked at the staves with glistening eyes. The prices were… the cheapest was 1,500 Ril. The expensive ones were up high out of my reach, but it was around 10,000 Ril so I think I can buy them somehow.
“Ikuru, do you prefer staves?”
“Yes, I’d like a staff please.”
“I don’t know which is good, so will you pick, Ikuru? The budget’s about 10,000 Ril.”
When I told him the budget, Ikuru held staves in his hand checked them. To be honest, they all look the same to me, but I wonder if it’s all different to Ikuru. All I could feel is that the design feels different.
Feeling relieved that I could finally return, I watched Ikuru’s back as he picked a weapon. Rather, I still can’t feel that I actually made a curse-slave contract. Anyhow… let’s do it slowly, on my pace.
While I was nodding to myself, Ikuru held a staff and turned around to me.
“Did you decide on one?”
“Yes. I’d like this please.”
The staff Ikuru chose was 7,000 Ril.
I don’t know if he chose so that he wouldn’t be using everything or if he really liked the staff. Still, I felt happy that Ikuru chose it on his own. Well, it’s because I can’t… but let’s not think about that.
When I paid and went outside, the sun was already setting.
“Hinami-sama… It’s dangerous at night, so I think it’s better to set off from the city tomorrow morning…”
“Ah, yes…! I forgot that it’ll take more than half a day to get home…”
By the way, today’s shopping:
Potato fries = 100 Ril
Contracting with Ikuru = 90,000 Ril
Meals for 2 people = 300 Ril
A weapon = 7,000 Ril
Total 97,400 Ril
Remainder 3,600 Ril
While feeling a bit anxious at the amount of money I had left, Ikuru and I started walking to find a place to stay.
Rather, wait a moment. A place to stay…? Yes, a place to stay. The problems not in that…! If Ikuru’s my curse-slave, he’ll be living with me…?
R-Right…! Stupid stupid stupid! I’m so stupid!! Why didn’t I realise such an important thing…!? Right, he’s not some kind of genie that comes out when called…
Ahhh… Oh no. I did it. Even though there’s a period for refunding, but if I do that, Ikuru… I’ll be the worst person that treated a slave like a product. I don’t want that… Then, I’ll just have to poise myself and live with him… Fortunately, I can get another room, so it should be alright.
And such a handsome man like this… I can’t imagine him doing anything to me. Mn, it should be alright.
Even so… walking in silence is painful.
No, well, I never really walked with a man so I got nervous! Plus, Ikuru is handsome… we’ll also be living together. Even as I felt slightly gloomy, I found a building with a sign with a picture of a house. It’s probably an inn.
“Ikuru! Let’s go in there.”
It was a slightly large, cute brick building by the main street. Right, alleyway inns or things like that are scary after all… or so I, who does not know this world 〈Letisreel〉 very well, think so. Because there are slums, and even if it’s a rather different system of the ‘curse’, there are slaves in this world after all. I think safety is best…! Definitely!
When I opened the door, the old lady there heartily said, “Welcome!” The inn looked from outside, so I was surprised to get a hearty greeting.
“Are you staying?”
“Yes. We’d like to stay a night, how much is it?”
“2,000 Ril for a night, including breakfast.”
“It’s a bit expensive here by the main street. The ones in the alleyways can cost only 500 Ril. Of course, I can’t vouch for the safety… what will you do?”
M—n… even if she asks me what I want to do, I only have 3,600 Ril with me. There’s enough money only for me. Maybe I’ll have to give up and find another place. I only have money from selling restoratives (potions)… wait? Right, I had the money from Clef-san.
I took the bag out of my sack and opened it. I thought it’d be rude to check it right after receiving it, so I had kept it in my bag. There were 5 gold coins… 50,000 Ril. Erm, this… isn’t there too much?
But still… returning something I already received is rude too, so I’ll gladly use it.
Current amount of money: 3,600 Ril
Clef-san’s reward money: 50,000 Ril
Total 53,600 Ril
“No, I’d like enough for 2 people.”
“Alright, thank you. Would you like a room for 2? There are 2 beds there.”
“Erm, I’m fine with a curse-slave room?”
“What, you’re a curse-slave? A curse-slave room costs 200 Ril per person.”
A curse-slave room…? I wonder what that is.
What I know though is that the place is no good. Because, 200 Ril is too cheap. It’s only 1/10 of my price, you know?
“No, I’d a room for each of us please…!”
“Oh, really? Alright. Then that’s 4,000 Ril.”
I ignored Ikuru’s words and paid the lady money for 2 people. I won’t mind Ikuru’s strange gaze. I received the change and the room keys.
“The rooms are at the corner of the 2nd floor. If there’s anything, come to the front.”
“Yes. Thank you very much.”
I got excited at the inn of a different world and headed to the 2nd floor. The 1st floor was bark, but the 2nd floor used mainly wood. The scent of wood felt nice.
We arrived at our rooms, then I pondered about what we’ll do next. Whether to talk more with Ikuru, or to sleep now since I’m tired. But to be honest, I’m mentally fatigued from forming the contract… alright, time to sleep.
“I’m a bit tired, so good night? Ikuru, get plenty of rest in your room, okay?”
“Ah… yes. Understood.”
“Let’s talk a lot tomorrow! Good night, Ikuru.”
“Yes, good night, Hinami-sama.”
I waved to Ikuru who was still speaking somewhat politely and went to my room. A wooden table and chair and a bed. There weren’t many things, but it was a clean and tidy room. There was a reason why it was expensive!
For now… before I take a bath, let’s write a bit in the exchange diary. Because if I get warm I’m confident I’ll doze off to sleep.
When I opened the exchange diary, I froze from seeing the new entry.
[Current points: 31,190]
[Exchange Diary] 3
[Compounding a restorative (potion): low] 1
[Compounding a restorative (potion): mid] 2
[Compounding a restorative (potion): high] 3
[Compounding a restorative (potion): special] 5
[Hunting a monster: D] 5
[Hunting a monster: C] 10
[Hunting a monster: B] 20
[Hunting a monster: A] 50
[Hunting a monster: S] 100
[Hunting a monster: The Demon Lord] ∞ (Infinite)
New! [Extinction of the ‘curse’] 1,000,000,000
[Other: special] Adequate points depending on the situation.
Here are some pictures: