|Author: Sasaki Ichiro||Original Source: Syosetu|
|Translator: Mab||English Source: Re:Library|
Besides, according to the history of the continent that Regina had taught me, the system of slavery should have been abolished since, I believe, around 100 years ago.
“Yes, this is a disgrace of the empire… Despite the God Emperor’s explicit prohibition of slavery, the harsh truth remains that slaves still exist, albeit under the guise of being called ‘free laborers.’ These unfortunate souls, marked by the magical collar around their necks, are stripped of their autonomy and personal identity, reduced to mere possessions owned by others.”
Luke spat out the words as if he would rather spit blood, and hearing them my eyes blacked for a moment.
“Can’t we save her?!”
“…it is possible for her to be saved.”
Laika answered my question matter-of-factly.
“Only upper citizens and above can own a slave. None of us can — ‘cept you and the young mister, that is. All you gotta do is walk up and buy her from her owner. But, that’s all you can do, and all you can save is her… Jill, are you going to buy every slave you see?”
If it’s just some self-complacent hypocrisy, then don’t.
Laika’s unspoken words left me biting my lips in frustration. She’s right, my desire to help the girl is merely a passing sentimentality. Unless the problem was cut from the root, then the same misfortune would only be repeated in this country…no, all around the world. That much, I understand.
“I hate to say this, but there is only so much we can do. So please bear with it, Jill.” Luke clutched my hand with both of his, perhaps he saw me ready to jump into the fray any moment now. His own face looked bitter.
“He’s right. What you do is etch this sight and remember your feelings right now. The world might be a little better off with more aristocrats like you two.”
Luke nodded at Laika’s words. I, however, couldn’t.
Can I equate the effort to save more lives in the future, with saving the one life that is in unreasonable pain right in front of me? If I can save her, shouldn’t I go and save her?
“Let’s go. It’s not a pleasant sight to behold.” Luke urged me to leave the place, dragging my heavy feet, when suddenly I felt like my eyes met the girl’s right when she opened them.
A small, yet clear voice, echoed in my ears.
(Am I hearing things?)
As I was reluctantly about to leave the place, I turned my head to see if it was just an illusion I just heard. This time, however, my gaze definitely met the eyes of the slave girl that were obscured by her tears.
“…you finally came for me…sis…”
The moment I heard her mutter, my body moved before I could think, and with emotions exploding within my chest, I leaped to stand in front of the man holding the chain.
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“Stop it! How could you do this to a child?!!”
“Don’t bother! This thing is mine. I can treat it however the f̲u̲c̲k̲ I want!”
The man was agitated. They became a spectacle to the curious onlookers because the girl didn’t move like he wanted. In a fit of temper, the man pointed his raised fist towards my back that faced him as I immediately embraced the girl to protect her from him.
“JILL!” I heard a shout, and Luke slipped between us in a hurry.
(…Aah, you’re much faster than you were before. I might lose if we cross swords again.) Such a thought popped up in my mind even at a time like this.
I was trying to protect the girl, and Luke was trying to protect me. Neither of us could move, and the violence was just inches away from reaching and — the sound of a broken bone… was not what we heard, instead what greeted us was the dry sound of skin meeting skin.
Fearfully, I looked up from my position, just to see Jesse stopping the man’s fist with his palm.
“Okay buddy, that’s that. I’d fail my escort mission if they got hurt.”
“What do you want, brat… wait, you an adventurer?! Don’t f̲u̲c̲k̲ with me, you’re just odd job lowlife, don’t think you can touch—”
Right when the man was about to grab Jesse, Laika twisted his arm from behind and slammed him to the ground.
“Easy there, old man. Look, I don’t care about who you are, but if the young mister and young lady got even a single scratch, you know heads are going to roll.”
The man was about to yell at Eleanor for speaking so carefreely, but when he saw the nobleman’s clothes under Luke’s coat and the dress peeking out from under my robe, his words trailed off and his face turned deathly pale.
The onlookers must have also noticed it, as they quickly fled the scene, fearing they would be apprehended.
“Welp, we can’t keep this up forever. Authorities will be on our a̲s̲s̲ sooner or later, and getting caught is one hell of a trouble to go through. Personally? I want a clearer schedule for the future.”
Keeping watch on the onlookers who kept their distance and watched on, in fear of getting caught themselves, Jesse spoke to us. He then turned his lustrous gaze to the pinned-down man.
“Now, old man. I’ll do you a favor and spell it out. You raised a hand and insulted two high-ranking nobles… meaning you can’t object to it even if your life is forfeit now. The same goes for the girl.”
He declared in a flat tone.
When the man lost all his strength and color on his face, Jesse turned to us. “—so, what do you want to do? Do you want him dealt with?”
Before I knew it, Luke and I exchanged gazes, but Luke shrugged first and said “I leave it to Jill,” so I picked up the girl from the ground, and spoke in a loud and clear voice so that everyone in the area could hear me.
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“I will take the child. If you wish to be reimbursed, I will pay with the price you want. If you accept that term, then I won’t ask anything further.”
An utter look of confusion painted the man’s face, Monika shook her head in almost disbelief, while Luke smiled satisfied.
“…you sure with that?” On behalf of her party, Laika reaffirmed my question, a serious look on her face
“Yes. All I want is to save her. Besides… if I leaned on violence or authority, then I’m no better than him.”
I made my declaration, eyes straight facing the man’s dumbfounded face. Jesse, Eleanor, and Laika looked at each other, then exchanged a soft smile amongst themselves.
After all was said and done, the girl was exchanged for seven gold coins, partly due to her illness and partly because that was most of all I had (thanks to the split of the award from yesterday’s work). With that, she was, on paper, my property.
I will summarize the author’s footnote.
P.S. : the recognition inhibition magic does not blur the features of the face. You can see the color of Jill’s eyes, or hair, or nose. You just think that she looks normal overall. (author then likens it to a jigsaw puzzle)1
P.S.S. : some (Japanese) readers said that the slave being 7 gold coins (210,000 yen / 1,500 US dollar) is too cheap, but since there’s no clear price for a slave, I just matched it to what Jill has on hand. (author then goes on to explain about the different prices of slaves from history, as well as saying that child slaves cost around 20 million yen in modern day. I don’t know how they know, but I sure as hell don’t want to cross them)2