“Won’t you join me in a monster hunt?”
I was suddenly asked this question by Louise-nee-san (24 years old, single) on whom I could rely on as my guard.
Right after the establishment of the Sawatari Company, I was in a deadlock.
‘Let’s open the company~~’ – making such an impressive declaration, the earl, Donovan, granted me a vacant lot in Est’s business district, near the city’s plaza. I was thankful for that, but….
Now that I think about it, I ran out of funds after buying the prairie schooner.
However, the horse was borrowed from Rhod family.
Despite that, one could say I was in the red to some extent.
I carried the iron-made goods I had been entrusted with from Losgow‘s mine to Est, so I earned some money, but, it was just peanuts.
Apart from launching the company, we had to erect its building and hire workers as well.
As expected, not even Lyle-sensei, who’s familiar with a company’s structure, knows how to manage it.
“Possessing the knowledge and being able to execute it are two different things, you see.” – Such was Sensei’s remark.
I too had fully realized that since my arrival in this world.
Later, I had my own plans, but, despite coming to this place for shopping after going to the trouble, it really pained me, since I was unable to take the initiative.
I managed to sell all of my soaps (selling price: 1 silver coin each) and detergents (selling price: 1 fragmentary copper coin each), like hot cakes, thanks to their rarity and cheapness, but, because my profit wasn’t great, it was still not enough.
As for the bombs, they were a product bound by the exclusivity agreement between me and the Royal Family of Silesia, so I couldn’t sell them to other merchants or commoners.
I also considered implementing products containing gunpowder for common use, but they were still at the experimental stage.
Being at the end of my rope, I thought about giving up and returning to Losgow for the time being, but just then, Louise suggested this.
“Shouldn’t it be fine for you to make profits by doing monster subjugation requests? I usually take up escort jobs, so I can make money anytime.”
Uwa, Louise-onee-san, you’re too generous.
To think she would offer me a suggestion like this with such a favorable condition.
“In exchange, I’ll take the monsters’ meat and pelts.”
Uwaa, the usual Louise is back.
Most likely, she only wants to eat their internal organs, rather than protect me.
Still, I’m thankful for her suggestion.
Rather than thinking about this and that, it’s better to work for now.
I, together with Louise-onee-san and Lyle-sensei, made a party of three and went to the Adventurers’ Guild. As we arrived, the situation turned boisterous and hectic.
“You’re, are you by any chance adventurers!? This is an urgent request, but, will you please accept it?”
The moment we entered the guild, a middle-aged staff member came to us with a serious look and earnest request.
“It looks like, a caravan of merchants was attacked by monsters near this city. Right now, there is a garrison heading there, but, we also have received a request for aid. The reward will be the one given by the feudal lord-sama, so please!”
“Okay, okay, we’ll go there!”
Louise, who’s usually known for making swift decisions and taking quick actions, decided to go.
We don’t know how numerous the monsters are, however, since the garrison is heading there too, shouldn’t it be fine?
I’ve heard about this city being a peaceful place, but, monsters will appear even here?
Well, isn’t it a good chance for us to demand gratitude from the earl?
Let’s consider it in a positive way.
“This is the worst. It looks like the caravan lured a herd of monsters here while running away.”
Taking a glance at the battle in front of him, to which we were heading toward, Lyle-sensei said this while being disgusted.
About 3 km outside the city, a battle between the garrison and monsters unfolded.
More than 50 humanoid monsters were surrounding the caravan.
The small green monsters were goblins, whereas, the big, ashen ones, ogres?
They were all monsters with which I was familiar from an RPG.
I knew what they were from my knowledge, however, my legs froze when I saw the monsters holding weapons, just like humans, and attacking while killing their enemy.
Against them, there were a little less than 10 people holding their spears. It was clear they were outnumbered.
Originally, they should have retreated to this city’s bulwark, but there was probably a reason for why they hadn’t done so.
What the caravan was carrying with them, were, as I feared, slaves.
Being tied in a row with chains, the slaves were neither able to fully run away nor put up any resistance. With no means to escape, they would die from getting attacked.
Some had their heads had been split open by the rustic clubs held by ogres.
Others, had their chest pierced through by goblins’ short swords.
Having no equipment on them, the slaves immediately fell down.
So, finally, the time has come for me to use this? – I mustered my courage and clutched my iron sword.
This was a sword I wouldn’t let go of, even if I were to gasp while struggling for my life.
The time has come! I’ll show you the real might of my fully mastered North Star Ittou-ryuu! (from my correspondence course)
“That’s wrong, Takeru. Use the gunpowder, which emits that strange sound, and throw it at them! Sensei, I’ll leave casting magic to you.”
A gunpowder which emits strange sound… wai, does she mean those firecrackers that I’ve been testing recently?
Louise, who instructed me, held a small, portable bow in her hands and easily shot down goblins nearby.
What a fast and accurate headshot!
“Heaven and Earth, I, Lyle Laertius, command thee. Send us the howling cascade; the loudly crying, violent wind; and the crumbling down vast lands. Mow down your enemy, the wrongdoers, with thy power!”
It was Lyle-sensei’s middle class, wide range spell of which he was proud, the Spiral Howling.
As he chanted, Sensei raised his hand overhead in a bit of a Chuuni style.
Releasing all his wind, water, and earth-based magic at once, multiple giant water dragons appeared, blowing away the horde of ogres.
Not just the enemy, but earth and stones were also flying around in the surroundings devoured by the tornado-like things, as a result of their shady adverse effect.
It was a fantasy world-like strongest spell. Certainly, magic is a convenient thing.
Compared to that, I was falling off a bit with this kid’s toy.
I aimed at a group of monsters and threw a fistful of firecrackers at them.
Next, I lit another firecracker I had on my person, with the minimum output from my ‘wand of the flaming orb’, and threw it at the goblins.
*Pan pan pan pan!* – familiar, parched sounds reverberated.
To my surprise, those goblins that received direct blasts, dispersed as a result of their own overreaction.
Eh? My items worked better than I had expected?
Even more than Lyle-sensei’s showy attack of dragons.
The familiar explosive sound and light from a firecracker seemed to be more effective in attracting the monsters’ attention, making them cease to move for a while.
The garrison also stopped fighting and looked in this direction with dumbfounded faces.
They’re just fireworks, you know?
‘*Kiii Kiii*!’ – Following that, the goblins stepped on the dispersed firecrackers and screamed in high-pitch voices. They tumbled one after another as a result of them being confused and making a commotion.
Before anyone realized it, Louise switched from the bow to her straight sword and jumped at the goblins, slashing and piercing their chests while moving around.
“What are you doing, throw more of them!”
Being scolded by Louise, I threw lit firecrackers one after another at the goblins and ogres in front of me.
Even though the crackers didn’t have that much destructive power, the monsters panicked and faltered each time one of the crackers burst.
Using that momentum, Louise transferred her blunt sword from one position to another while slashing, mowing, piercing, and killing the enemy with almost single blow each.
It was a very quick, single blow, certain kill.
‘*swoosh swoosh*’ – For some reason, the last part was a short-sword two-style attack.
I too wanna become a warrior, like your usual main protagonist. It’s impossible for me though, since I have no skills, but well…
I thought I would act cool by at least casting a spell in the end, so I rammed a fireball at the enemy using my wand, however, the spell wouldn’t even leave a burn on an ogre’s skin.
This attack is even more useless than those firecrackers.
Could it be that this wand’s power is derived from my mana, which is close to zero?
In the end, with almost half of the monsters being slaughtered by Louise, the rest escaped just like scattering baby spiders.
Many of the attacked slaves and merchants were in bad shape and wounded, as well as the garrison, so nobody had the spare power to pursue the monsters.
Louise, who finished this fierce battle, had only sustained scratches. She immediately healed herself after drinking a recovery potion.
I, on the other hand, received no injury, as I stood behind her while simply throwing the crackers.
Despite that, why were the crackers that effective?
‘The intellectual type monsters are weak against attacks they are seeing for the first time.’ Louise replied this way when I asked.
In this world, firecrackers are new type of weapon, which has never been seen before.
Apparently, Louise came up with the idea to use them against the enemy when I invited her to a play with fireworks.
Even if that’s true, I would’ve been grateful if she had told me about her tactic at the beginning.
Soon after the battle ended, the caravan’s members and the garrison held a conversation, but only a few lower position employees from the caravan were all that was left.
We don’t know how many people were here at the beginning, but, can it be that almost every one of them were wiped out?
All the merchants who had been chased after and fought back died.
You could say the battle was fierce enough, but, even if the merchants were chased after, they should have had the spare power to request help from the city.
Had they thrown away their carts immediately and escaped to the city, they could’ve at least saved their lives.
One could say they were greedy til the bitter end.
I would’ve understood if it was a game, but they miscalculated the right time to escape even though their lives had been at stake.
They were just one step away from reaching the city, so it’s not like I don’t understand their feelings, but…..
Staring at this sad and gloomy battlefield, filled with both monsters and merchants’ corpses lying on top of another, I swore to myself I would throw away my cart and run away when the time called for it.
You can’t buy your life with money. As expected, dying here would be something I’d hate.
And then, there were those slaves who groaned painfully but didn’t die, despite being pierced and hit by monsters. It should be fine for us to rescue them, right?
“It looks like these slaves have already lost their master. You have your own potions, so you use them at your convenience.”
As soon as Louise stated so, she drew near a goblin’s corpse and started to dismantle it with her knife.
Ahh, she’s going to dismantle even those humanoid monsters.
I was quite against doing that, as it looked somewhat harsh, but, it goes without saying you could even extract those monsters’ fats and squeeze out their oil to make soap.
For the garrison, merchants, and even the slaves tied up in chains and blood besmearing them, it was a blunt view.
Won’t Louise turn everyone against her? I guess she has no discerning eyes for others.
So, this is what it comes to when you have no human rights?
I only had 5 recovery vials with me, so I selected those slaves who could be still rescued and made them drink the vials.
It was hard to make a choice in this life-or-death situation. It felt as though I was in a manga involving disaster medicine.
I was sorry for myself, as I could’ve bought many more recovery vials, had I known this would happen.
“Why, are you, helping us?”
The child slave, which I nursed and gave the potion to drink asked me with a faint voice. My heart felt incredibly painful.
The child’s sand-besmeared long hair was ruffled and its face was covered in mud. It was wearing a robe, which could barely be called clothes, roughly torn off by a monster. It looked as though the child was wrapped in a tattered cloth.
I can’t tell its gender despite its thin, worn-out cloth, but, if I look closely, it’s young. Even among slaves, there are very young children.
Originally, a child at this age should be placed under its parents’ protection. What a pitiful child.
“I don’t know, but, I guess it’s because I felt I could save you.”
I couldn’t change the fact about it being a slave, so perhaps it would be cruel if I gave it false hope, just because of my simple sympathy.
Truth be told, I could buy more potions any time using my money, but, I couldn’t buy a life.
However, I knew I couldn’t help, even if I applied a modern person’s sense of values.
Things turned out like this, because a human’s life can be easily purchased in this world.
Good grief, there’s no salvation in this fantasy world.
Which is what I hate about this world.
“Takeru-dono, I heard about it from the garrison. It seems you greatly flourished during the battle with no hesitation.”
“No, no, I just happened to be there at the right time.”
Once we returned back to the city, we received words of admiration directly from the earl, Donovan.
Rather than this praise, I was more glad about him letting me drink the coffee, but well…
Louise had been invited as well, but she refused the invitation by saying she had to dismantle as many corpses as possible, so only me and Lyle-sensei visited the earl’s castle.
Nobody can stop Louise when she’s dismantling corpses for meat and pelts.
“I’ve heard you use used some strange magic when fighting the monsters, but, was this small ball your weapon?”
“It’s called a firecracker. Truth be told, I originally planned to use it as a toy for children, but well…”
Earl Donovan was brimming with curiosity.
Even though I brought him gunpowder products before, he didn’t show any interest in them. The moment he had heard about these crackers being effective in a real battle, he checked their power by blasting one by himself.
“It would be quite interesting to have these things made into toys for children, but, I think they would become a weapon strong enough to scare off the enemy. Even non-magical items have their good points.”
“I guess you’re right. As expected, perhaps it’s better to sell them as a weapon.”
In China, there’s a custom of using firecrackers for showy celebrations, however, it’s probably not something nobilities from a western culture would be fond of.
Primarily, I had thought about using gunpowder for peaceful purposes, but, it looks like you can only use it as a weapon in these turbulent times.
“Umu, and then, I wanted to discuss with Takeru-dono about your reward, but, things have become slightly complicated…..”
According to what the earl says, the caravan, which sustained losses in both goods and people, seemed to have dispersed as a result of their employer dying.
The remaining employees held a discussion and decided to leave all their broken carts behind. They took the remaining funds and money, and returned back to their hometown.
The problem was, they had a cargo of 13 slaves who had survived the attack.
Since there were no slave traders in Est, nobody would buy the slaves, even if they were sold out.
Therefore, as a form of compensation for causing trouble to the city, the employees forced the slaves, whom they couldn’t monetize, onto Donovan.
Despite the earl having them forced onto him, it’s not like he wanted the slaves.
“Ahh, I see. So in other words, you want to give me the slaves as a reward, right? Perfect timing. Actually, I’m in need of hands for my newly opened company!”
As expected of the earl who could understand my needs.
Certainly, I also want money, but workforce is what I need the most right now.
Didn’t I receive a godsend offer?
The earl made a strange expression. Could it be that I said something odd?
Lyle-sensei, what’s the meaning of this?
“Slaves are, the majority of them are descendants of those who had drowned themselves in debt, so, they’re not suitable for becoming merchants of a trading company.”
“Is that so?”
“Even if the slaves aren’t malignant enough to become thieves, they’re nothing but people who are bound to be ruined. Normally, they would be watched and punished with a rod by someone, and wouldn’t become useful unless they worked. They are considered an inferior labor force.”
‘I guess, it can’t be helped’ – Sensei smiled, like wanting to say that to me, who was totally unaware of how things worked in this world. He explained it to me profoundly as if talking down at a kid.
Certainly, I remember those slaves’ expressions looking as though they had already given up on being humans. Perhaps, the people’s opinion here isn’t necessarily wrong.
Still, that being the case, aren’t the slaves behaving like that because they were driven into a hopeless situation?
“If it’s fine with Takeru-dono, I’ll hand them over to you as this time’s reward, but, judging from what I’ve heard, there are no good quality slaves…..”
‘Is it really okay with you?’ As if wanting to convey that, the earl exchanged a short look with Lyle-sensei.
“Yes, whichever it is, we need laborers. Takeru-dono won’t mind even if his laborers are inferior slaves. It maybe be that he’ll come up with a plan on how to raise them into workers.”
‘Well then, I’ll leave it up to you’ – The earl gave his permission, as Lyle-sensei declared, with a smile, I would take responsibility.
Yes, I’ve thought about this before, but….
As expected, by being sensible, I won’t gain any trust.
Well, I’m just a shadow when compared to Lyle-sensei, so I guess it can’t be helped, right?