Bonus chapter today.
Chapter 6 – Canaan
A terrible thing happened yesterday. Lady Alterias, the daughter of Count Abbas (the governor of Algria town), was attacked by bandits and in mortal danger. This town is close to the Great Borf Forest, and the level of the surrounding monsters is pretty high, so there haven’t been any bandits for more than a decade.
At any rate, I heard the report that something strange had happened, but it was still a mystery, so I was immediately instructed to investigate this matter with the bandits. Recently, Count Abbas has been suffering, and I’m a little worried that he might be obsessed with something.
Fortunately, this time Lady Alterias was able to get away from the bandits. At the time they were most in danger, they claimed to have been helped by a young man wearing all black, with black hair. There are some black-haired people in this land, but if someone helped a daughter of the Count, they would expect to receive a reward, not just leave them like this man did.
Now that I think about it, I did hear something about the heroes summoned by the Rade-Crude Empire having black hair and black eyes. But I haven’t heard of any of them going to the town of Algria. The Templeton Kingdom, in which Algria is located, is not very well-connected to the countries that summoned the heroes.
Those countries have a similar way of thinking to the Rade-Crude Empire, which advocates for human supremacy. Templeton Kingdom is a country where races such as beastmen coexist with humans. In other words, the way of thinking and customs are different from the countries with principles of human supremacy. That’s why this Templeton Kingdom was placed outside of the mosquito net when the heroes were summoned.
Due to those circumstances, their relationship with those nations has been particularly strained in recent years, and the influx of human races from summoning nations has been monitored closely. In other words, if a hero entered this country, I would have heard something about it.
Who was that young man with black hair and black clothes that helped Alterias-sama?
“Chairman, there’s a customer here looking for rice.”
At the mention of rice, I recalled hearing that the heroes’ staple food was rice, but… bread is a staple food in this town, and I only sell rice because there are a handful of rice lovers. Moreover, because those particular customers are wealthy and have a certain amount of power, they proposed I stock rice in my general store.
That’s why I went to the trouble of getting it for those people. Well, it’s a matter of pride anyway, even if it’s not profitable. Those rice lovers buy a lot of other things in my store, so if I can make a profit from their associated purchases, that’s a benefit for me.
Now, was the customer this time one of those rice lovers? I got up from my comfortable chair and headed to the rice section. I saw a strange sight there. Specifically, the customer was strange.
It’s hard to describe what’s strange about him, in any case… it’s just very peculiar. What I can say is he has an extraordinarily vague existence. It feels like he’s like a ghost wearing an intimidating jet black bear coat… Anyway, it’s just kind of mysterious.
When I focused on the customer’s appearance, I could see he was a young man with black hair and black eyes. Could this be him? I wondered, since some of his characteristics matched.
I went over to the guy, and he muttered an interesting thing after the rice was explained to him.
“This is a long thin variety-nya, and this one is an egg-shaped variety-nya.”
“The long thin one is thai rice… and the egg-shaped variety here is japonica rice!”
Japonica rice… this was one word the heroes were reported to have often said. In other words, there’s no mistake that this young man looking for rice in front of me has some kind of relation to the heroes.
Name : Tsukuru Sumeragi
Job : Chef, Level 20
Skills : [Cooking] [Ignition] [Dismantling] [Appraisal] [Material Storage]
I used [Appraisal] involuntarily. The young man’s status was just like any ordinary [Chef] you’d find anywhere. However, my intuition was telling me there was something strange about him. Everything seemed normal, so what was this strange feeling coming from, I wonder?
So this time I tried to use [Appraisal] on the sword the young man was carrying by his waist, but the text was garbled. I don’t mean to boast, but my occupation is [Great Merchant], and whenever I activated the [Appraisal] skill from the [Great Merchant] job, it never failed like this… until now.
It’s weird! That’s why I then tried to appraise the black bear coat he was wearing, but the text was garbled on that one too. What could it mean…
“Give me ten bags of the egg-shaped one.”
“Oh my, thanks for buying so much.”
I called out to the boy just like that, not even thinking. Well, I was thinking I needed to confirm his identity, and above all, find out his purpose.
“Hmm? Who are you?”
“I’m Sidele, I’m the chairman of Sidele’s General Store.”
“Is there something you want from me, Mr. Chairman?”
“No, not at all, You’ve purchased our rice, so I thought it would be good to greet you personally. By the way, is it your first visit to this store?”
“Yeah, I just arrived in town yesterday.”
The same day as the bandit attack on Lady Alterias. There’s no mistake.
“Really? Then I’ll be looking forward to your patronage in the future.”
“I’ll come back if the rice is delicious.”
“Certainly, I’ll be waiting. Prill, prepare the goods for this gentleman.”
“It’s okay, I can take the ten bags from here.”
The ten bags of rice vanished right in front of my eyes. Sure, he does have a skill called [Material Storage], but he couldn’t possibly store that much rice with it. I’m pretty sure you’d need a decent item box to store this much rice, but it doesn’t look like he’s wearing such an item… though the garbled text on his equipment is still bothering me.
“Oh, you have an item box?”
“Something like that. Now, where can I pay for this?”
Was that a yes or a no? Well, it’s fine. I’ve gotten a decent amount of information for one sale.
After he left, I decided to look around the store for a while, and instructed the employees to report to me as soon as that black-haired young man showed up again. That slave arrived this morning, and the black-haired young man also appeared, so it set the wheels turning in my mind that something interesting might happen.
Anyway, I should go back to the office and check on the documents. I did think that boy would come to the store again sometime, but it happened when I was just passing by the counter.
“Oh? If it isn’t the young man from before! What are you looking for this time?”
I called out to him quickly. I couldn’t call myself a good merchant if I missed this opportunity.
“Sorry for coming back so quickly, I just want to get some pots and tableware.”
“That’ll be on the third floor. I’ll take you right to them.”
I guided him up the stairs to the third floor. Recently, when I go upstairs, maybe because of my age, I’ll feel a little out of breath. I’m a dog beastman, so I have a certain amount of confidence in my physical strength, but if a couple flights of stairs is enough to leave me winded… old age must be finally catching up with me.
“Here we are.”
“Welcome― ah, owner!”
“Don’t call me owner, call me the chairman!”
Geez, this girl, she always calls me owner. I still have to get the proper way of doing things into their heads. The young man just looked at us with a bemused smile and started looking over the products. He browsed the pot section for a while, then stopped in front of a certain item.
“Do you like that magic pressure cooker?”
“Magic pressure cooker… no, I just thought it seemed rather unusual.”
“Do you know about them?”
“Only a little bit.”
Oh ho, but the magic pressure cooker is a brand new product that was only recently invented. Hearing that makes me want to know him more and more.
He bought an assortment of pots, pans, and tableware.
“Thank you for your patronage.”
“Man, Mr. Sidele’s shop sure has a wide selection of items, huh?”
“Our shop is proud to handle everything from food to slaves, yes.”
“S-Slave… You carry slaves, too?”
Oh? Is he interested in slaves, too? Well then, in that case!
“Yes, please have a look! Right this way!”
“Uh, no no no, I…”
“It’s okay to just take a look!”
I may have been a little pushy, but I took him to the basement floor where the slave section was.
“We handle sales, purchases, and rentals of slaves here.”
“Rental? So you lend slaves, too?”
“Yes, well, you don’t seem to know much about slavery, so let me explain it.”
“O-oh. Please do.”
I’ll teach him the basics of slavery a little bit, but he seem a little nervous.
“There are two kinds of slaves, general slaves and criminal slaves――”
He looked at the slaves while I explained things. After I finished, I watched him look at the slaves with interest.
“What do you think?”
“Does this store also deal with criminal slaves?”
Yes, that’s it!
“We do handle them, but there aren’t many. Would you like to see the criminal slaves as well?”
The fate of a criminal slave is often terrible. That’s why I didn’t deal with them very much, even though they’re highly profitable since they’re always in demand. As a merchant, I shouldn’t let my emotions get in the way of profits, but it’s my belief to treat every product with affection. I don’t want to be the one to inflict a terrible future onto a person, even if they are a criminal slave.
“I’d like you to show them to me, just for reference.”
As he wished, I guided him to the criminal slave section, past the heavy door in the back.
“Hahaha! A youngster, huh?”
“Hey bro, why don’t you buy me, I’ll show you a good time, eh?”
One slave spoke up rudely, and another tried to whore himself into being purchased.
Talking to customers is prohibited. Slaves are to follow the rules strictly.
“These are criminal slaves. Bandit leaders, and perpetrators of heinous crimes such as murder and attempted murder. Rather than imposing long-term prison sentences on these people, they’re made into slaves and serve society by doing harsh and dangerous work in the place of ordinary people.”
“What kind of harsh and dangerous work are we talking about? Stuff like mining and warfare?”
“That’s exactly right.”
Few people own criminal slaves. The most common owners are feudal lords, and then most merchants who own mines, but adventurers and mercenaries also buy criminal slaves on occasion. Criminal slaves, which are cheap and have no human rights, are always in high demand because they can be used as disposable labor in harsh environments. Unfortunately, the dignity of criminal slaves is not recognized or protected, unlike general slaves.
Meanwhile, his gaze stopped at a certain point. That girl was a criminal slave that just arrived today. Moreover, she probably became a criminal slave because of false accusations. She is my friend’s daughter. Unfortunately, my friend passed away two years ago, but I’ve still known this girl since she was a child. She’s not capable of committing the kind of evil she was accused of!
“What about that girl?”
What should I say? A sinner who killed a noble’s son? That she was found guilty of having killed a noble’s son, even though she was falsely accused? She wouldn’t be freed from her status as a criminal slave for the rest of her life, unless her innocence could be proven…
“She just arrived today, but… she was serving as a magician in a noble house, but there was an incident in which the nobles’ child was killed. She was nearby at that time, and was named the culprit…”
“Do you think she wasn’t actually the culprit?”
“I don’t know. I don’t understand the details, but she was found guilty at the trial.”
Perhaps I could entrust her to this man decked out in black. It’s a shame to sell such an important slave to someone I’d just met for the first time, but… my intuition demanded I appealed this to him.
“Master Sidele! I want to buy Canaan!”
And now the worst person showed up. He pushed the black-haired young man aside and called out to me. I could tell the young man was incensed at his behavior.
“That’s… Master Dokum, huh? You’ve been coming by so often these days…”
This man serves the feudal lord, his name is Dokum. He’s the worst kind of person, relying on his position as head magician to harass the weak.
“Enough chit-chat! I’ve come to buy Canaan there!”
If there’s anyone I can’t sell her to, it’s him!
“I apologize, Canaan…”
I unconsciously glanced at the black hair young man.
“Huh? What? …Hey, who are you?”
Dokum just noticed the black-haired young man, and called out to him, but continued with his rude attitude.
“That’s my line. You’re so impudent, even though I was the one talking to Sidele first.”
“What? You little―!”
The black-haired man replied without holding back. Is he unaware of how scary this Dokum guy is, or does he have the kind of connections that mean he doesn’t need to worry?
“Sidele. Shouldn’t I be the one to buy Canaan?”
I hadn’t said anything, but he must have sensed my intentions.
“Y-yes… Master Dokum, I already agreed to sell her to this customer… Yes…”
“What are you talking about! Wasn’t it already settled that I’d be the one to buy her?!”
“Is that the case?” The other man asked, tilting his head to confirm it.
“N-no, erm, Master Dokum, I promised this customer before you arrived, he’ll be the one to buy her, alright?”
“What did you just say to me!?”
“So noisy, can’t you use your inside voice? Jeez, this guy doesn’t seem to have any common sense at all.”
To be perfectly frank, I didn’t like Dokum either, so I didn’t mind it. I had to settle this matter right away. After that, Dokum was indignant and approached me, but he had no ability to persuade me since I was friendly with the feudal lord. When Dokum left, the black-haired young man put his arm around my shoulder and said, “You owe me one.”
He seems to be quite the determined gentleman.
“Yes. I, Sidele, always repay my debts.”
“I hope so.”
I sold Canaan to Tsukuru Sumeragi-sama for 500,000 Gold and performed the slave contract. Sumeragi-sama gave clothes and shoes to a shabby-looking Canaan, and wrapped her in a black coat before leaving.
I would like to have a long and fruitful relationship with Mr. Sumeragi in the future. And… I pray that Canaan will find her light.