Chapter 13:

Chapter XI – Blessed are the slaves.

His Soul is Marching On to Another World; or, the John Brown Isekai (Fall of the Slave Harem)

Brown now had a group of slaves staring at him, they of course knew him not. He had only planned to carry out reconnaissance in the town and learn the situation in this foreign realm; he didn’t expect that he’d be having to lead an exodus of slaves this early. The old man took in a deep breath, and let it out while closing his eyes. It was going to be fine. The Holy Spirit would surely lead them to liberty, or so thought Brown. Having confidence, no matter the source, helped one immensely.

He opened his eyes again to face the crowd cautiously observing him. Brown was calm.

“Ahem, as you might have noticed if you’ve peeked out of the window, there’s currently a great exodus of slaves in Azdavay. I have come here, to slay your master and help lead you to freedom. God willing, today you shall become freemen.”

One of the former slaves asked a question that everybody wanted to ask. “Who are you?!”

“I’m John Brown, the rest of my life story can be told later. Time is of the essence, ladies and gentleman. If you want to follow me, do so. If you don’t then don’t. We must act quickly, quietly and efficiently. Those who are willing to follow me, please raise your hands.” Brown looked at the audience to see how willing they looked. While he was a total stranger, he had gained more than a modicum of respect after having slain their former master. Plus, his calm and confident demeanor gave the impression that he really had a plan. He didn’t, but having the former slaves organize and group together would help their chances.

One reluctant hand was raised, and eleven more hands followed. This was a bit more than half the maid café. Brown was honestly surprised that he even managed to get that many people to agree with him in this situation. “Good, then please step forward. Four of you, go up to Jacob’s room and take any valuables you can find. Most important are weapons, bags and any item of jewelry. The other four, go to the kitchen and take all the food you can. Store them in pots, we’ll need them for cooking later. Also get ready to make a fire.”

He handed his knife, along with the hostage gentleman over to a freeman that looked physically strong. With his freed hands he picked up the sword that the gentleman had dropped. “You can hold on to our special guest for now. The rest of you, gather anything that could be used as a weapon for you and your comrades.” He held the sword up high, and swung it as if he was commanding troops for battle. “Now, forward! You shall get liberty, or you shall get death!”

Brown’s fervor and energy seemed to have rubbed off on to the group. They quickly discussed who should do what, and then split off to complete their mission. Brown personally oversaw the search for improvised weaponry.

The trio assigned to the job quickly searched the places they knew had potential weapons: the axe nominally for cutting firewood, knives in the kitchen, mops and other items of cleaning… They quickly rounded the potentially most lethal for use. The other groups had returned by the time they were done.

The quartet in Jacob’s room had found their master’s ornamental weapon stash, and returned with a spear and three swords. They also had found two satchels, which were now filled with coins and jewelry. The spear was given to a former guardsman, and the three swords were similarly given to those with prior combat experience. The rest of the group got the makeshift weaponry.

The kitchen team had returned pots filled with vegetables and fruits; items crucial to the groups survival once they got out of the town. They had also set fire to the kitchen while leaving. Soon the flames, of revolution and literal flames, would engulf the rest of the maid café.

The group of twelve looked energetic and jubilant now that their initial shock had worn off. The thought of liberty coming ever so closer with every drawing second, of them having a hand in saying how their lives would go on from now, gave them great fervor.

Brown observed this group with great joy. It seemed that, wherever he went, the base human desire for liberty and freedom was the same. “Alright, are we ready?”

“Aye aye!”

“Then let’s get this over with.” Brown opened the door, and pointed his sword outside. “Don’t forget, it’s either liberty or death out there. Forwards, march!”

Brown’s twelve apostles ran through the streets, swimming through a sea of confused onlookers. The town guard seemed to be busy with the group that Brown had seen earlier, so they had (so far) not seen any opposition to their escape. This tactic of shock-and-awe-and-run-away worked perfectly until the squad turned over and…

“Halt, and surrender!”

They found a street which was quite a basket case. A group of adventurers and concerned citizens had cornered the group of escaping slaves that Brown had seen previously. The cornered slaves were armed with whatever they could find, in a situation similar to Brown’s. What was odd about this group was that, among the barely clothed slaves, there also seemed to be a few people in nondescript commoner’s garb, with the strange addition of a black hood that covered their faces completely. These hooded figures were armed with quarterstaves tipped with lead.

One of these hooded figures seemed to be the leader of the group, and they were giving a speech. “We shall not surrender, but we’ll go peacefully if you’d only let us. We only desire our emancipation and nothing more!” The response to this request was a storm of insults and other unpleasant words that needn’t be mentioned. Still, the mob seemed reluctant to begin fighting. Being potentially injured to catch some slaves didn’t seem too appealing to any of them.

Upon seeing that the mob of concerned citizenry would not yield, the aforementioned hooded figure readied their quarterstaff for battle. “People, we have a right to have one of these two things in the world: Liberty or death. If we can’t have one, then we shall only have the other, for we shall fight as long as our strength lasts and none shall take us alive!” Their speech seemed to have roused the cornered slaves, who charged to meet the mob of citizens.

Observing the cornered slaves charge, Brown also addressed his own squad of former slaves. “You see your brothers and sisters over there, let us-” The men of the maid café charged before Brown could even finish his speech. He joined them in this charge as well, brandishing the sword of the gentleman against the gentleman of the town.

With the addition of Brown’s group, the citizen’s mob was sandwiched between two forces. This street fight lacked any tact or tactics as it devolved into individual fighting between inexperienced combatants with the few experienced combatants drowning in the sea of incompetency.

While the numbers of the mob were bigger, their morale was low compared to those fighting for their own liberty. Being surrounded from two sides also didn’t help. The first ones to break were the armed shopkeepers and artisans, who had only joined to protect their property from potential looting. Then came the adventurers, they didn’t exactly care about fighting if it didn’t involve any money. They’d be paid to hunt for the slaves later anyways. The miniscule town guard, seeing that they were now outnumbered, decided to formulate a ‘tactical retreat’ which involved them legging it without any tactics.

The street was now left littered with the bodies of the dead and wounded. Brown was left with eleven apostles, and the former cornered slave group had lost a dozen or so men. They didn’t have time to grieve the dead however, it’d be bad news if the town guard properly mobilized itself to meet the exodus.

“John Brown, you’ve shown yourself at last.” The head of the hooded figure squad waved to Brown. “Your help is appreciated. I hope that we’ll get to see each other again very soon.” They then lead their group away from Brown’s, splitting up to confuse the town guard. Brown didn’t have much time to ponder, similarly leading his squad of twelve towards the gates while doing his best to go through the backstreets. The residents of the town had gone hiding in their homes, afraid of what they saw as a roving band of savages, leaving the streets empty.

Thankfully, Azdavay wasn’t a that big of a town. It only took the group a few minutes to reach one of the gates, which were just two big wooden doors with two guards stationed to protect it. They had been expecting for the escaping slaves to go for the gates, with their crossbows ready to take aim at any unwelcome visitors.

The former slaves were much more athletic compared to Brown, who was about to enter his sixties, and the sword-carrying managed to climb the palisades without being noticed. The guards, taking aim at the gates and not their own palisades like sensible people, were taken by surprise and slain on the spot. The swordsmen came back, now also wielding two pavises and carrying two crossbows looted from the guardsmen.

The only thing between them and freedom was now the wooden gate, which was locked by a comically large plank stuck between the door’s handles. Thankfully, one of the former slaves still had the axe that had been taken from the kitchen of the maid café.

While they were busy with chopping the plank, unwelcome visitors had decided to show their face. A quartet of adventurers, all equipped with crossbows, were running towards the fugitives to take aim. They hadn’t had a chance to load their crossbows, they begin loading while staying at a safe distance. In response, the pavise-carrying swordsmen set their shields towards them to protect their comrades. It wasn’t a perfect defense however, as two pavises weren’t enough to cover everyone.

Four bolts ran out across the street, one of them managing to land a hit right on the knee of a former slave. The wounded man cried out as he fell on the ground. The adventurers were reloading. The plank was taking a lot longer than expected to break. Things weren’t going well.

Before another wave of bolts came raining down, Brown noticed a familiar adventurer running towards them. “Brown, old man, slow down for the Otherworld’s sake! I’ve been trying to catch up to you for…” It was Shinasi. The slaves readied their weapons to meet their foe, only for him to drop his spear onto the ground as a gesture of goodwill. “It looks like you all need a shield, sir.” Shinasi joined the line of pavises amongst the confused stares of the former slaves.

“Young man why are you-” The sound of bolts hitting the shields interrupted Brown’s speech, only for a moment. “You were trying to catch a slave just a few weeks ago, why are you here?”

“Well, I’ve had a lot of time to think since that giant onion almost wiped us out.” Another wave of bolts crashed on the shield wall. “The fugitive coming to save us wasn’t an accident, was it? Saving strangers in a tight situation, sir, is very much admirable according to me and the Adventurer’s Code.” Yet another wave of bolts interrupted him. “What- What I’m trying to tell is, if there’s someone like that amongst the fugitives, then why do we have to hunt down and enslave these people?” Shinasi had finally figured out something that, quite frankly, should be common sense.

“I’m glad that the Holy Spirit has led you on to a more righteous path, young man.”

The plank locking the gate finally split in twain. The former slaves cheered, running as fast as humanly possible while those bearing shields covered their escape. Then, making sure there was no one left behind, the shield-bearers and Brown made their tactical retreat as well, disappearing into the dense woodland of Azdavay.