His Soul is Marching On to Another World; or, the John Brown Isekai (Fall of the Slave Harem)
Fields and paddies of wheat, barley, rice, lentils and potatoes lined up alongside Tilia Stream showing hints of impending human civilization. The wheat on the fields was still green; it’d be around a month before the peasants would get to work reaping what they had sown. Unlike the wheat fields, the potato fields were filled with your usual mix of oxen, donkeys and bipedal, dinosaur-like creatures pulling ploughs to unearth potatoes. Brown was happy to see that the crops of this realm were mostly ordinary, things would’ve been hard for him (in the culinary sense) if they were sowing cabbages or anything similarly odd. Another point of note for Brown was the occasional laborer wearing metal cuffs: They were the chattel slaves working in the fields alongside the peasants.
Along the road were also small groups of peasants on break, it was simply impossible to keep laboring the whole day much to the chagrin of their lords, chatting away and cooking meals on metal pots. Some of their peasant acquaintances greeted the adventurers in passing, the sneaky and generous kinds handing the adventurers a potato or two as a gift. It was a good for them to keep on good terms with the adventurers, lest the glorified mercenaries decide that they’d rather stop killing the monsters outside their villages.
Slowly the earthen path became one of gravel and stone, and the town of Azdavay appeared in the distance, marked by a roadside sign that read (in Low Gemeinplatzian, misspelt English, terrible Chinese transcription, somewhat decent Japanese and Korean all written side-by-side) something like “AZDAVAY”. Of course, Brown could only read the English transcription on the sign, which was written as “ΛSOΛUΛV”.
It was only at this moment that Brown realized that he hadn’t been speaking English with other people all this time, he hadn’t noticed since one usually didn’t instantly and magically acquire a foreign language. He didn’t ponder on it for too long; this was clearly just divine intervention helping him not get too lost.
The first that Brown noticed about the town was its palisades, comprised of 3 feet (1 meter) tall wooden posts supported by a base of fired clay bricks and earth. A few guards paced to-and-fro behind the palisades, keeping on lookout for anything unsavory. The palisade was cut off by a small gate, about two men wide, manned by two guards watching people as they went in and out the town. Their duties included halting people to make them pay a toll for entering the town; the adventurers (and Brown, on virtue of being with them) would pass with no problem thanks to being exempt from tolls, as the guild would pay for them. The guards recognized the trio and nodded to show that they could indeed pass.
Brown passed through the gate, meeting with a Gemeinplatzian town for the first time. The town was of a decent size, containing around a thousand residents along with a sizable population of passersby. Most of the buildings were constructed out of wood from the forest surrounding the town, while the middle and upper-class dwellings were made of clay brick and concrete.
In terms of its inhabitants, the people of Azdavay had a sense of fashion that was in line with the rest of Gemeinplatz. Doublets and hoses were aplenty, along with gowns and kirtles. Chaperons, hats ranging from wide-brimmed to no-brimmed, fezzes and fancy turbans sat on top of the heads of the citizenry. These were not all, however, for influence from otherworlders had also greatly influenced fashion. An odd mishmash of modern Western clothing, suits, jeans, frilly cravats and maid outfits along with an equally odd mishmash of Eastern clothing, qipao, kimono and hanbok, were also worn.
Brown followed the adventurers to the Adventurer’s Guild building that stood next to town square. The town square also functioned as a marketplace; the whole square was covered by a grand roof, under this roof lay various stalls. The craftsmen of Azdavay, mostly comprised of potters, coppersmiths and masons, inhabited the buildings around this square.
It was already nighttime by the time the group had reached the town. The adventurers invited him to stay with them; Brown accepted their offer. The adventurer’s all presented their personal badges, made of bronze, to a guard next to the guild buildings entrance. Brown was able to enter with them, despite obviously lacking any badge, thanks to the wonderful power of nepotism.
Brown’s nose was suddenly assaulted by a coalition of booze, sweat, and other undesirable smells upon entering the building. The people of the guild had already gotten into a ‘merry’ mood that Brown frankly wanted no part of.
Brown excused himself. “I’ll be hitting the hay, travelers.”
“Ah, wait a second Mr. Brown.” Shakir stopped Brown from leaving. “Don’t sleep before cashing in your loot: some adventurers have a tendency to steal from others.”
“Cash in my loot?” Brown suddenly remembered the two giant seeds he was still carrying in his pocket. “Right, thank you for reminding me. Where would I go about cashing these in?”
Shakir pointed to a small line in front of a desk that sat in the corner of the building. There was a small queue in front of it, which Brown joined along with Shakir’s group in lining up.
“Next! Come on, no arguing about prices, it’s all standardized. Shush now.” The receptionist, who was a middle-aged woman that seemed to be done with life, called out to her next customer. Brown had finally reached his goal, after ten minutes of queuing. He gave his seeds to the receptionist, who quickly flipped the pages of a notebook containing prices set by the guild.
“Four libra fifty groschen.” She took out five coins, four of them made of iron surrounded by a thin ring of electrum and one of them made of copper surrounded by a ring of iron, and handed it over to Brown.
“Mr. Brown, that soap is made from slime, right?” Shakir, standing next in line to Brown, was referring to the jar of soap that Brown was still carrying. “You can sell it to the guild as well, since it’s a product made from monsters.”
Brown handed over his jar of soap to the receptionist. She took out all the soap, five bars in total, and weighed them down on a scale that sat on her desk. “One libra fifty groschen.”
“Could you give me that amount as three 50 groschen coins, miss?” Brown received three coins, and he gave one to each member of Shakir’s party as payment per his promise. He asked them where their lodgings were, and bid farewell to the group so that he could finally get a good night’s sleep after around ten hours of travel.
Brown’s room was in the third floor of the building. It was a cramped room for twenty, shared by visiting adventurers, with beds made of straw resting on the floor. It was far more luxurious compared to sleeping on the cave floor, and Brown thanked the Lord for providing him with such suitable accommodation. He hit the hay, literally and figuratively, and finally had a nice night’s sleep.
Ayomide was staying the forest just outside of Azdavay, and was currently trying to catch some sleep. She couldn’t light a fire, thankfully the bear pelt gifted by Brown was enough to keep her from freezing.
Her attempt at sleeping was suddenly interrupted when she heard footsteps heading her direction. Ayomide quickly jumped up, readied a spear, and slowly began walking away from the direction where the footsteps were coming from.
Suddenly the footsteps stopped. Ayomide tried looking around her, she could clearly see everything at night thanks to having night vision, to no avail. There seemed to be nothing. Perhaps I’m just imagining things…
“You’re an inexperienced one.” Ayomide found cold steel, in the form of a knife, standing a hair away from her neck. Gulp. She quickly turned her neck around to meet her unexpected guest. This guest was a woman slightly older and much taller than her, with a black hood that covered her face. Ayomide could tell from the woman’s hand, currently busy holding the knife, that she had black skin.
Ayomide wasn’t exactly sure what to do in this situation. “So, uhh… Hello? I- I don’t think I have any quarrel with you…”
“Me neither, sister.” The woman drew the knife back and freed Ayomide. “Just wanted to make sure you wouldn’t impale me with that spear of yours.”
Yeah, I would’ve probably impaled her in shock if she approached from the front… Wait, sister? “You’re my sister? We look nothing alike.” Nor are we the same species, Miss Human.
The hooded woman shrugged. “Aren’t we all sisters in the struggle for liberty?” She opened her hood, revealing her face and curled black hair. “Sorry for startling you, I’m... I guess there’s no problem in giving my name to a sister. I’m Kyauta. Happy to meet you.”
“And I’m sorry for almost impaling you, I’m Ayomide. Pleased to meet you.” Ayomide smiled; she was happy to have a conversation partner that wasn’t an old white man from 19th-century America. Brown was a good man, no doubt, but he and her being from another world made communication awkward. Plus, you could only talk so much to the same person for two months. “So, why are you ‘round these parts? I don’t think anyone of the sane sort would be here at such a time.”
“I could ask you the same thing. Being around towns and cities isn’t a good idea for us, sister. Have you newly escaped from this town, perchance?”
“No, I’ve been free for… Well, I haven’t checked the exact date, but I should’ve escaped around the end of Winter. There’s this old hermit in a cave, name’s John Brown, that I’ve been living with. He’s of the odd, Awmereighkan otherworlder sort.” Ayomide stopped there, at the point where Kyauta seemed most intrigued. “So, I’ve given you my reason. What’s yours?”
“Sorry, I can’t elaborate too much in case you get captured, sister. It’d be trouble if they got you to talk.” Kyauta shook her head. “I’ll just tell you that I’m here to help Miss Moses’ exodus.”
Moses, exodus… Right, that’s one of the stories Brown told me. “Wait, Miss Moses? Isn’t Moses a man? Plus, I’m pretty sure he’s supposed to be living in Kanein with the Juice and whatnot, he’s definitely not in Casamonu…”
“You don’t need to concern yourself with who Moses is for now, sister.” Kyauta went silent on that topic, to indicate that she won’t elaborate further.
“Right, good luck on your mission then… Sister.” Wonder why she wanted to converse with me… Maybe she’s trying to gather intelligence?
“Thank you, may the Lord be with you. I’ll have to go now to fulfil my mission. See you, sister.” Kyauta closed her hood, and left as quickly as she came.
Ayomide yawned as she got back on her bear pelt. It was getting late; she couldn’t resist the temptations of sleep…