Third Death Row Series: According to God, Death Is Salvation and Killing Is a Good Deed. The Source Is Me. - Chapter 27
- Third Death Row Series: According to God, Death Is Salvation and Killing Is a Good Deed. The Source Is Me.
- Chapter 27 - A Strange Passerby
Translator: MadHatter Editor: MadHatter
After that, I started my activities with Envy, who looked like a middle-class aristocrat, in the course of my duties.
That being said, I still had no idea of the identity of X, the slave trader who seemed to be active in Ciscima, let alone what route he was taking to establish his market. If there was any way to get in touch with him, it would be via an approach from the other side. Therefore, for the time being, I set up Envy as an ambitious nobleman from a place far away from Ciscima, and started working to ensure that he would be well-known in the town. The key would be to create in the community an image of a petty, corrupt aristocrat who craved as much power as possible—a figure who would tempt X. To this end, my new slave, who just happened to become available the other day, would come in handy.
“Mr. Kanaki, have you heard about the aristocrat who has been the talk of the town lately?”
After moving to Ciscima for a month, during which time I had grown rather accustomed to town life, it had been two weeks since I had called Envy back from the capital.
The time was now late afternoon, and the footsteps of the devotees who had come to pray had ceased to flow. Kyle, a priest’s apprentice who was sweeping the yard with me, brought this up at the end of our previous conversation.
“I do know that there are rumors of such things, but I don’t know the specifics.”
The trick to playing the innocent was not to feign ignorance but to give the impression of being slightly knowledgeable about the subject.
In fact, when Kyle heard this, it was as if he had been waiting for me to share the story with him.
“When I was in town earlier, I also heard that a nobleman by the name of Cayenne, who had recently arrived, is a terrific guy. Accordingly, he is always accompanied by slave men, and the way he treats them is very rough. If they were public slaves treated by the state, I could have been a little disappointed, but since they are private slaves belonging to the aristocrat, the military police are fretting over the matter.”
“Is his treatment of slaves really that oppressive?”
“It’s not that level in comparison! I don’t know if it’s because he treats them so ruthlessly, but he replaces one of his slaves every three days! Even the slaves are always in shambles…”
Apparently, as I had staged, the townspeople thought that Envy’s transformation to Cayenne was a man who would replace his slaves. Since I only had four men to work with, I had to change their faces with magic in order to make the townspeople think so, and it seemed to have worked.
I remarked, “What a tragic story I’ve heard,” in a somber voice and priestly face without expressing my joy at such success.
“That’s terrible… But this Cayenne man must have descended from a very prominent aristocratic family if he is so willing to replace his slaves.”
“About that, the family name of Cayenne is Vivilash, but I’ve never heard of a nobleman with that name around here. So I’m not sure if that Cayenne story is even true… Mr. Kanaki, do you know?”
“Vivilash… I think there is a nobility with that kind of family name in the northern part of the country if I recall correctly.”
I stated the answer I had prepared as if I had just been reminded of it. Incidentally, a nobleman by the family name of Vivilash actually existed in the north, but a man by the name of Cayenne died inconspicuously when a raid was made on his base during the recent defense of Uranus.
“Eh, is that true! Then the story about this Cayenne guy is also authentic after all…”
“Could be. Even you ought to be on your guard when you go out in town in the future if there is a guy like that. You never know what kind of logic they might use to drag you down with them.”
“Yes, I understand!”
“―naki, Mr. Kanaki! Can you hear me?”
Hearing the boy’s voice calling in my ear, I snapped back to reality.
When I looked around the room, I found that it was the usual room we were taken to when we were at the checkpoint. The boy’s face was next to mine, gazing up at me with suspicious eyes.
“I’ve been calling out to you for a while now, but you haven’t responded at all. Isn’t this happening a lot lately?”
Envy, my messenger, had no intellect. Therefore, I had to directly control Cayenne except for simple commands. Whenever Cayenne went for a walk to spread his notoriety in town, I had to devote my nerves to that, which inevitably made me appear to be in a daze to those around me.
“Sorry, sorry, I was just lost in thought.”
“You must be tired. I’m sure you’ve been busy with church work as of late.”
In the room, all the members of my team, who were in charge of guarding the present checkpoints, were in attendance. There were five of us: Axe, who appeared to be a man of unyielding spirit; Frescia, who was tactful; Gray, who was quiet; Macaroon, who was very attached to Tilia; and me, the unorthodox priest.
The one who offered me tea was Frescia, and the boy who called me in my ear was Gray, who would have been in junior high school in Japan, but they were the oldest among the slaves in the troop. Overall, the boys and girls who were slaves in the unit were capable beyond their age, but these two were also very instrumental in carrying out the mission.
“In the end, they haven’t found a new doctor for the hospital yet, right? So even if someone gets injured or something, it’s not hard to see why they’d come to the Captain first instead of the hospital but aren’t you rather occupied when you have to treat injured people in addition to your church work after all?”
Fresia, who had finished brewing tea and resumed her paperwork, asked me face-to-face. She was able to read, which would be rare for a slave during the era of slavery, and conducted paperwork carefully, albeit not as well as Thilia, which has been extremely helpful.
“Well, it is a fact that I am busy, but I feel that it is worthwhile. Until now, I have often been in command on the battlefield and have not been allowed to do this kind of ordinary work.”
These days, I have been making good progress in gaining control of the church’s people hearts and minds, and I can feel that Kyle already had more trust in me than in Roy.
“Speaking of which, Mr. Kanaki, you are someone that has been transported from another world, aren’t you? What were you doing before you found yourself in this world?”
Axe, who was seated next to me, leaned back in his chair and asked me a question while playing a game I couldn’t quite grasp: balancing on the chair while drinking tea. The three of us, except for Frescia, can’t read, so apart from emergencies, we had a lot of free time on our hands.
“I was a schoolteacher in my previous world. I taught students who were a little older than you, in terms of age.”
“Mr. Kanaki, you were a teacher?”
“…But I guess I can tell that.”
Axe lost his balance in surprise, and Gray looked up from the table. Gray and Macaroon were now studying their handwriting with reference books spread out on their desks.
“School, huh? But how nice. I wish I could go to school too.”
Macaroon, who had been quietly studying until then, seemed to be attracted by this topic and stopped holding her pencil to rest her hand on her cheek. I then remembered something quite obvious.
“I see, you guys have never been to school.”
“Our circumstances are different, but for the most part, we have been slaves before we can even remember… Oh, but Frescia wasn’t, right?”
“Yeah, I was able to go to school normally until I was about ten years old. After that, my parents went out of business and I became a public slave.”
“Sold by your parents, huh? That is the most common pattern.”
“I was fortunate to be a public slave, though. Alto, a member of Ms. Eira’s group, switched from being a private slave to a public slave and when informed that he would be able to eat one meal a day on Uranus, he burst into tears.”
“Ah, I thought there was a guy who was crying a lot at that time, so it was him.”
No, your conversation seemed too deep even if it appeared to be casual small talk.
The conversation about their painful past, which seemed to be not the sort of discussion one would expect from middle or elementary-school-aged children, made me unsure of what kind of face to put on and how to listen. In the past, I had students who had experienced bullying, but I had a feeling that this was not their fault.
“Hey guys, we are working right now, so cut the idle chatter and get your hands moving. Axe, you’ve been playing around since a while ago, but you should be doing something.”
“But there’s no work for me to do, is there?”
“Why don’t you take a cue from Macaroon and Gray and practice your handwriting? After all, you’re one of the top ones.”
“No, I don’t want to. Slaves can’t get any good jobs anyway. It’s futile to do it. More importantly, Mr. Kanaki, speaking of work, let’s do that special training!”
“By ‘special training’… do you mean practicing martial arts?”
That wasn’t really a job at all, it was more of an added burden to the work I was doing.
“I don’t think it’s a job, and I think you’re just increasing the Captain’s workload.”
Gray said exactly what I was thinking. But if you were going to say it, you might as well say it loud enough for Axe to hear.
“Mr. Kanaki, you’re so good at martial arts! Please teach me some of that!”
“You guys have guns, too, so I think it would be better to practice that.”
When I tried to argue with him, he clenched his fist and strongly emphasized it.
“Relying on a gun is not manly!”
I was amazed that someone could say such a thing with a straight face.
Just as I was being wrapped up in a small sense of amazement, I heard someone walking quickly toward me from the corridor.
“The peddler is here! What are you sitting there so idly, come down quickly!”
Looking down through the window attached to the room, I saw that a large carriage had indeed stopped in front of the checkpoint.
Normally, I would have to go down when I spotted a passerby through the window, but this time I was so engrossed in the conversation that I forgot to do so.
In general, they did not get along very well since the military police who monitored the checkpoint had a different structure and rank than the army. I hastened after him, chilled to the bone when I saw the military police storm out of the room with their shoulders raised in rage.
“…Wow, this is really something.”
When I went outside and noticed the carriages lined up in front of the gate, Axe, who had arrived late, uttered such words.
What was halted at the checkpoint was the most magnificent and grandest carriage that I had ever laid my eyes on. The military police were now dismounting and counting all the people on the back of the carriage to make sure there was no deception about the number of people passing through the checkpoint.
And as inquisitive as I was about the large carriage, I was equally curious about the well-dressed people on the back of it. To be honest, they looked better dressed than I did—I was sporting a fairly nice military uniform—let alone Axe and the others here, who might have passed for nobles.
“Everyone is so well-dressed. Are they all aristocrats?”
“Or perhaps the aristocrats, who wanted to look good, made their attendants’ clothes more luxurious as well. But let’s get to our posts.”
Frescia’s brisk instructions had Axe and the others moving to a position surrounding the cart. In the event of any suspicious activity, they may report it to me, or if urgent, they may act on their own judgment (of course, since they are slaves, they will not be exempt from felony charges if they make a mistake in judgment).
However, as far as I could see, there was no questionable movement by the people on the back of the cargo. They were acting in obedience to the words of the military police, and if their flamboyant clothing was excluded, there was nothing particularly suspicious about them.
But when all the people on the back of the luggage carrier had disembarked and the military police had lined them up in a row and compared them with the previously submitted application forms, I became aware of something.
There are a lot of kids.
The number of people in the cart was quite extensive, twenty-six in all, but more than half of them were children who were probably not even in their teens yet.
It was doubtful that all of them were aristocrats, and their appearances were all different. If that was the case, then I could have considered the idea of them being the attendants that Frescia mentioned earlier, but I had a hunch that there was something about the children.
“Um, Captain. There is no suspicious behavior so far, including those on the back of the cargo, just…”
Did they have the same thought as I did? Frescia, who was nearby, reported this to me, but her words came out croaky and muddled.
“Fresia, do you feel something, too?”
“Yes, well, it’s not that there’s anything particularly unusual about it, but it’s just that it’s so lackluster.”
“Yeah, they’re too quiet… no, they don’t seem to have any energy.”
Their eyes resembled those of remnants of defeated soldiers returning from a battlefield where they had been thoroughly defeated. At a quick glance, there was nothing wrong with their bodies, and they were well dressed, but I couldn’t sense the vigorous energy of life characteristic of children.
“Oh, I get it.”
“? What’s wrong?”
That atmosphere was unlike that of a child. I knew I had seen it somewhere before, but now I remembered.
That was the same atmosphere as that of Frescia and the other boy slave soldiers, the ones I had met for the first time in Uranus.
Then their status was also…
“―So you’re finally here.”
“Oh, I’m sorry. It’s nothing.”
Frescia looked at me with a bewildered expression as I mumbled to myself from a while ago, to which I offered her a reassuring smile.
If they were slaves as I had suspected, only a few people would be able to afford to have such a large number of people dressed in such fine clothing. It was that slave trader X.
There was no one on the carriage that appeared to be that person at first glance, but if so, they must already be hidden in the town, and at some point, these children would be retrieved. Even if I was mistaken about it, it was evident that the carriage in front of me was a shady business. There would be no harm in keeping a mark on it.
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