“Hmm, morning already….?”
The red, morning sun was ascending from the other side of horizon.
The thirteen slave girls curled up while sleeping, as if drawing a circle around the small campfire.
Could it be that we camped outside without returning back to the inn yesterday?
I enjoyed camping like it’s supposed to be, but my body wasn’t used to it.
Today, we are lucky, as the weather is clear, but, it could’ve been a different story had it rained.
Was she doing some morning practice? Louise, who had woken up earlier than me, was swinging her saber while reheating yesterday’s soup with more meat added.
Once we finished the breakfast and woke up the children, everyone looked to be still craving for food. That’s good, otherwise, they wouldn’t be able to work.
Watching these girls eating, I thought I had to provide them with bedding, in addition to food.
I shall teach them how to produce soap.
Anyways, money is what is needed in order to advance, so I had to focus on earning more income.
The slave girls aren’t used to making soap.
Teaching something requires perseverance, so there’s a high chance I might not succeed.
However, failing to make a product, like detergent, doesn’t necessarily mean it will go to waste. Not to mention, if the number of workers increases, our job will progress significantly.
Why didn’t this idea cross my mind earlier? – I lamented.
Louise, brought her two disciples with her and went hunting for food and the raw materials for making soap.
Following that, Lyle-sensei took the flower girl with him and searched for herbs, edible wild grasses, and firewood, needed for both preparing food and composing the scum for soap.
At the very least, two weeks are necessary for producing soap.
I wanted to improve the quality of the soaps by letting them rest and dry for a bit longer, but I had the feeling I needed money as fast as possible.
I know that this may sound rude, but right now, my income depends solely on how well Louise and her disciples can hunt monsters.
For some reason, I have been constantly protected from the hostile surroundings by Louise and am indebted to her. Nevertheless, you could say this is an obvious thing when it comes to trading, no?
Having her pass to me all her earnings without any complaint, I felt there was no excuse for me.
“And I also need to pay the rent for borrowing the Rhod’s horse….”
I decided to return my favors owed by tenfold to everyone once our business has started to thrive, so I bought up daily necessities for that to happen.
These will become necessary for our initial investment.
The girls gathered after I gave them the signal to stop their tasks.
First, I decided to wash them clean.
With these dirty-looking appearances, they wouldn’t even become shop assistants.
Despite saying so, there were other things that required money, so, I didn’t have the sufficient budget for letting everyone here enter a bathhouse.
That’s why, I decided to put up a tent in the wasteland outside the city and groom them there.
“Sensei, I’m relying on you.”
“Ahaha, you sure are a slave driver, aren’t you? Right. Come, water!”
Lyle-sensei’s magic, which is water based, can absorb water from the atmosphere, so it’s pretty convenient.
Perhaps, I should create a water supply with his magic?
The moment Sensei drew water into a large pot, we heated it using firewood. After that, Louise transferred the hot water into wooden buckets.
Lyle-sensei and I distributed the steaming, hot water between the children and proceed to clean them.
“Hey, we’re going to start from your hair, so take off your clothes.”
“Umm, but, Master, isn’t this, one of your precious goods for sale….?”
As I used a bar of soap and produced foam, one of the girls became modest.
Somehow, her modesty didn’t feel like that of a child.
“Don’t be reserved. You won’t be able to do business, less you take care of your appearance and make yourself pretty, right?”
“I guess, master is right. I’m sorry for that….. and, thank you for using this expensive item on me.”
This slave with the amber colored eyes was the first girl to offer me help with my business.
It may be that she wanted to become useful by doing commerce, since she had previously been a child from a family of traders.
I was troubled by her weird sense of obligation, but, being able to tell the value of this soap I was wasting on her, perhaps I could expect something from her in the future.
‘Now that you feel indebted to me, you better earn to pay it off’ – I neatly washed her hair while having this wicked thought.
I had never used a bar of soap before, despite having seen it, as I belonged to those who would bath themselves with body soaps. However, being able to use this solid soap for the first time since I arrived in this world, I was surprised to see how well it foamed.
Well, maybe it’s because the soap uses natural components.
One of its materials is a monster, but still….
As the other girls’ hair got washed, the gray dirt sticking to them gradually fell off and their hair recovered their base color.
I could tell that the one I was in charge of had orange as its base color.
And then, a pair of ears slipped out abruptly from within her hair.
Eh, what’s that, ears?
“Ah, I’m sorry, my ears suddenly popped out. It’s difficult to wash my head with them sticking out, right?”
“Ah no, that’s fine. More importantly….”
Once I brushed up her hair, there was a pair of human ears located in its proper spot. However, besides them, there was one more pair of animal ears attached to her head.
I’m aware that everything is possible in a fantasy world, but, having two pairs of ears, just what’s the meaning of this?
“Oh my~, looks like I was right about this child.”
Lyle-sensei gazed at the girl with a sidelong glance and said as if being curious.
“What do you mean, Lyle-sensei?”
“That girl, if I look more closely, she also has some hair on her back. I thought it was weird for her to have these long, thick limbs in comparison to her petite trunk, therefore….”
“Most likely, she’s got some animal blood mixed in, about a quarter, I think. The shape of her ears is similar to that of dogs.”
Lyle-sensei stopped washing others and traced the girl’s ears with his finger, after which he gave a detailed explanation.
The young girl seemed to possess the blood of the so-called beastman. In addition to the hair on her back, there was a small tail glued around the tailbone of her bottom.
When it comes to animal ears, I’d say it’s similar to a situation where you discover a beast that had previously snuck into your cart while you were peddling your wares.
No, wouldn’t that be rather a play of a god? I wasn’t all that excited, since I wasn’t a kemona, but I thought it could be an interesting thing.
Apparently, various beastman species exist in this world, such as dogs, cats, wolves, and lions.
It seems it’s not strange for them to mate with humans, so, it’s possible to have individuals with mixed blood, such as this one.
Such an occurrence is incredibly rare to me, but well, I guess I can’t be just surprised at everything here. After all, this is a fantasy world.
If I were to describe a cat-type race, what comes to my mind as first is a robot, rather than a beast.
“Still, what did you mean by saying you were right?”
“A child that possess mixed blood, tends to mature fast, therefore, it will grow into an adult very quickly. Her body is still intact, so she will gain an even higher evaluation as a slave.”
‘Tends to mature fast, heh…?’ Is what I thought. I looked at that still petite body of her.
It didn’t look like she would grow fast anytime, but…
Being told by Sensei, I was able to notice the difference in the girl’s limbs and body. She was a skinny person with thin flesh.
Ah, there’s a scar on her body. I’m going to apply some previously boiled herbs onto her, later.
“Despite you saying she matures fast, it doesn’t look like she’s growing that much.”
“She won’t grow, unless you provide her with enough nourishment. For a beastman to mature properly, you need to feed it lots of food, so you better be prepared for the incoming food expenditures.”
“That’s, well, about feeding, shouldn’t it be fine if she works for that?”
“So I guess, Takeru-dono is planning to make her a focal point of the company. It’s really convenient to have her grow faster than other girls, right?”
“I guess so….”
Lyle-sensei said so as if seeing through my feelings.
Surely, I wondered myself if this girl could become our salesperson, if she could do calculations.
Nevertheless, I didn’t want to say that directly, as it sounded like I was treating a human being as a pawn.
“Hmm, I guess it was reckless by the slave traders for not noticing a slave possessing the mixed blood of a human and a beastman. Still, you too, couldn’t you have avoided being sent to the mine, had you shown them your ears?”
At Lyle-sensei’s question, the trader’s daughter replied little by little.
“That’s because, I didn’t care to live, any longer.”
The atmosphere has suddenly become heavier!
I didn’t know what to say, so as to cheer her up, so I couldn’t say anything. The girl looked in my eyes and added something by muttering these few words.
“But now, it’s different, I want to live.”
“That’s the important part, right?”
One could feel strength in her voice. That’s a good thing.
I too, thought about wanting to live when I was about to die back when I first came to this world.
Indeed, it was a peculiar type of shock therapy.
‘I want to live’ – nothing will change until you think that way.
I combed her long hair that regained its vivid-like, sunset color. While doing so, I felt deep sympathy toward the other girls’ circumstances out of line and made up my mind to figure out something.
I was by no means a virtuous person, but, neither did I like to be a hypocrite.
Still, how should I say it…. these girls’ circumstances were so pitiful, I was taken aback.
Despite making this girl with animal ears undress and washing her body, I felt no lust at all.
It’s because I was neither a kemona(1) nor some kind of gentleman with a lolita complex.
I didn’t want to explain myself too much, but upon seeing these girls’ naked bodies, I could understand the meaning behind Lyle-sensei’s words when he had said they wouldn’t even amount to being sold to a brothel.
Judging from the ribs surfacing on their underweight bodies and their skins covered in bruises, I could tell they had gone through a very severe life.
This was so pitiful, I couldn’t even bring myself to feel any lust.
Luckily, we had enough soaps and herbs for sale, so after washing their bruises we proceeded to heal them.
All of the slaves are girls, so it will be better if there are no scars left.
Well then, now that we made them clean, there’s no longer any need for them to wear those old rags.
Sensei and I prepared new clothes for the girls, which we then made them change into.
“Master, thank you, for these pretty clothes.”
The slave girls raised voices of joy and gratitude, which made me put on triumphant airs.
What we prepared for the girls were sets of apron dresses.
I thought they would look like Alice from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, so I purchased a large number of these clothes.
As one would expect, it’s important to emphasize the visual aspect, so I had to stress their cuteness.
These children clothes, which I bought for the girls, gave a high impression about them. However, it was thanks to this city’s production area that used woolen fabric based on Est’s goats, as well as the city’s vigorous distribution of clothes, that I was able to purchase them at a cheap price.
For some reason, there were only red colored apron dresses on sale.
’Ah, could it be because of the ruler’s taste?’- I thought so, but, I saw no problem in these work clothes.
Naturally, I also bought the girls lingerie to match their clothes.
I thought about collecting their old tattered clothes, wash them, and weave into a temporary store tent, but, as I tried to collect the clothes, a small problem arose.
The girl whom I had lent my raincoat to before, due to her clothes being far too torn, wouldn’t let it go, claiming it was something she had received.
Certainly, if I’m not wrong, this girl is one of the soldiers’ daughters.
I would feel sorry if I took it against her will, so I ended up distributing gray ratman-made cloaks to everyone.
“Again, I was able to avoid unnecessary costs….”
Rain gear is also necessary, considering the fact they might have to work outside. Perhaps, we can call this a part of our initial investment as well?
Judging from what I’ve heard from Louise, it appears that a master of a guild is obliged to provide each of his apprentices with a set of clothes and a pair of boots as a present. Providing one’s subordinates with necessities is the duty of an employer, so it can’t be helped.
Hiring people is a greatly troublesome thing.
The money was steadily decreasing in my wallet.
While we are at it, I began asking the girls about their names and races after we had finished bathing them, and so,
Sharon, daughter of a trader (Race: A quarter beastman from a dog-type animal tribe.)
Suzanne & Claudia, daughters of soldiers.
Viola, daughter of a flower vendor (Race: A half nymph.)
Laure, daughter of a miner (Race: dwarf)
Colette, daughter of a baker.
Flora, daughter of a harlot.
And Eliza, Melissa, Ginny, Laure, Liddy, Paula, daughters of beggars.
However, despite me asking them, it didn’t look like I could memorize all their names.
I managed to remember Sharon, so perhaps I’ll be able to learn other names gradually.
The half nymph, named Viola, seemed to possess mixed blood from a water fairy. She was a girl with blue eyes and hair.
When I looked closely, I noticed she had pointy ears, which made me wonder if she wasn’t an elf. As I asked Lyle-sensei about that, he gave me this explanation.
“Just because someone has pointy ears, doesn’t make them an elf. Also, elves have a light complexion. By the way, dwarves, who possess a dark complexion, also have pointy ears. Generally, everyone related to those beings have pointy ears.”
“They, don’t look to be that much different from humans, still….”
Certainly, Laure, who is a dwarf, also has pointy ears. However, apart from her red copper hair, which is rare in this area, and her brown colored skin, she doesn’t look all that different from a human.
If I were to say, I’d have imagined a dwarf as a being with a slightly firm body and short height.
“When a dwarf becomes an adult, its face will bear special features, however, in the case of female dwarves, their faces aren’t that different from humans. Dwarves are known for their strength and firmness, and for having skillful hands, therefore, they’re fit to become a miner or a blacksmith. Nevertheless, I’m afraid, female dwarves are bound to live as slaves, as they lack the strength required for physical jobs…..
“I see. So it was like that?”
The reason why this girl was made into a mining slave and was soon going to be worked to death was probably due to her low value.
Be it Laure, the dwarf, or Viola, the half nymph, I think both of them are incredibly cute. Still, unlike a full-fledged elf that can be sold to a brothel for an extra-high price, a nymph, even if it’s a half, doesn’t seem to be popular among the people, despite both of them coming from the same family.
Apparently, around these parts, water spirits are treated as demons that kill people by pulling them into a pond or by crying in front of their houses. Because of that, they’re regarded as beings carrying misfortune and discriminated against.
According to Lyle-sensei, ‘most of these theories are baseless rumors.’
Uhmmm, so does it mean, some of them are true?
“Still, Lyle-sensei, for there to be a half nymph and half human, that’s to say….”
“It’s very fascinating, isn’t it? I think it’s rare for nymphs to mate with humans. Also, this is the reason why humans are afraid of them, but, nymphs are born with a divine protection coming from a water spirit. It’s possible that Viola won’t be welcomed by local people if we appoint her as a shop assistant, but she’s apt to use water-based magic, so she might actually become useful.”
Does Sensei mean to say he will teach Viola herbal medicine?
Apparently, Lyle-sensei, who is a middle class magic user, can feel the presence of magic within people, so it’s likely he was able to sense something coming from Viola.
Still, as expected, it would be a bad thing for a flower vendor girl to be hated just because she was a nymph.
Everyone probably had their own circumstances as slaves.
Once I looked in Viola’s direction, she was grabbing the hem of her apron dress while slightly trembling.
With just my impudent look, her blue eyes turned wet, as if wanting to cry.
I was bit scared off, as I had just heard a person would be killed when a nymph cries.
It’s probably just one of those urban legends, but…….. no good, no good, if I believe that, she will think I’m discriminating against her.
I wondered myself whether words of consolation would cheer her up.
However, I would just worsen the situation, were I to make Viola afraid of me, so I decided to entrust her to Lyle-sensei.
I too, want to cure myself of being worthless, but it doesn’t seem to be going well, I guess.
Notes and References:
- original text: ケモナー