Chapter 18:

Chapter XVI – Ye who art employed.

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

“Ahh… That feels good… Right there, right there… Ooh… Thank the Lord…”

“Old man, could you be a bit quieter while I’m doing it?”

It was right after bath time, and Ayomide was busy with drying everybody’s hair as usual. “[Wind], [Wind], [Wind]…” A lack of towels and hairdryers made her magic essential in making sure nobody got a cold. The wind also doubled as a sort of massage, which was why old man Brown was making those odd noises of pleasure as written above.

Tater, who had been the first one to get his hair dried, was watching the two while he himself was trying to light a fire for the night. It wasn’t an easy process, he had to strike a steel kitchen knife to a piece of flint in hopes that the kindling would catch fire, which it sometimes refused to do. “Lady Orange, can’t you cast some fire for poor old me?”

Ayomide answered without thinking. “No, I cannot.”

“Why not? Ain’t you a magician? I thought you could do all kinds of stuff.” Tater had heard tales of magicians comitting many wondrous acts, yet Ayomide’s job of being a glorified drying machine seemed too ordinary.

Tater’s question had ignited Brown’s curiosity as well. “I’ve been wondering the same thing, young lady.”

The old man’s encounter and reckoning with ‘magic’ had not been easy, ‘thou shalt not suffer a witch to live’ made it pretty clear what the Lord thought about magicians. However, the ‘magic’ of Gemeinplatz didn’t have much to do with acts of magic mentioned in the Bible. Brown had concluded that this ‘magic’ was most likely a highly malleable, misnamed natural force of some sort (which could be used benevolently or malevolently like any other force) that hadn’t been present back on Earth. Thus, he himself avoided using the word ‘magic’, though he hadn’t yet found any other word to replace it.

“Right… I got taught this stuff by an old lady around ten years ago, so take this with a grain of salt.” She wasn’t exactly the best authority to give the obligatory exposition on magic, but Ayomide would have to give it a shot. “So, the world is apparently made of seven elements. Earth, water, air, fire, aether, light and dark.”

“I know earth, water, air, fire and aether to be elements, young lady, as devised by Aristotle. What might be the other two?” Brown had died around the time when the atomic theory was slowly gaining mainstream acceptance. The four (plus one, aether) elements were the best that Brown, an avid reader of the classics, had in terms of knowledge in physics.

“Right. The names of the other elements explain themselves. Light is, well, light. You know, the stuff that gives life to plants and animals, hence healing stuff is in the domain of light. Like what I did with the old man’s arm. And dark is, dark. The opposite of light. Disease, death, mind control, all that stuff.” Ayomide scratched her head, trying to think of more couth ways to elaborate on the elements. “Well, as I said, I heard about it all when I was a kid. So that’s all I’ve got on the elements.”

Tater seemed unsatisfied. “So, what’s that got to do with you being unable to light a fire?”

“I was getting to that point, kid. So, with this magic stuff, everybody’s attuned to different elements at different levels. That’s why you see different folks casting different things. Far as I’ve seen, I’m attuned to wind and light.”

“Interesting…” Brown’s mind was more at ease. It seemed that this ‘magic’ didn’t have any relation anything ungodly like the Devil himself or any other demons. A question popped up in his relaxed mind. “And why do you have to shout ‘wind’ every time you need to blow wind?”

“You don’t actually have to shout anything. Watch.” Ayomide paused, thinking really hard. Wind, wind, uhh… Let there be wind. Wind, wind, wind… [Wind]! A sudden breeze blew towards Brown’s face. “You need to envision what you want to bring forth. Shouting what you want to do just makes it easier.”

“We have to be careful around people then. Just gagging them might not do the job.” Brown seemed satisfied as he got up. “It’s getting late. You know what they say…”

Tater finished Brown’s sentence. “…early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise. We don’t need to hear it for the umpteenth time, captain.”

76th of Spring, 5859
A copper mine atop Mount Curry, Azdavay / Casamonu

Shinasi hadn’t expected to get himself employed again this suddenly and so soon. Of course, he wasn’t going to the copper mine just to get employed, he was under Brown’s orders to scout out the facility and formulate a plan to help the slaves escape with minimal casualties.

He had gotten on the road as soon as he had bid his farewells to the people of the cave. The road from the cave to the copper mine wasn’t too long; it was only around an hour’s walk. Shinasi found himself at the mine before the sun had properly risen.

One of the overseers tipped his hat in greeting. “Good morning, Shinasi was it?”

Shinasi tipped his helmet in return. “Morning. Yes, that’d be me.”

“The boss wants to see you, before you begin working.” The overseer pointed to the biggest building in the area. “He should be in the mansion.”

Shinasi parted ways with this overseer, making his way to the door of the ‘mansion’. It was a pretty small building for a mansion, with only two floors. Guess this is the best you can get in the mountains. The noble who lived here probably wasn’t the richest. Shinasi proceeded to knock on the front door. He was greeted by a maid opening the door.

“I’m the new guard that Sir Algernon’s looking for.” All this formality had already made Shinasi begin to feel sick.

The maid took a disinterested look at Shinasi. “Leave your weapons at the door please.” Shinasi obliged and parted ways with his beloved spear and shield. “Come in.”

Shinasi was greeted by an indoors that, while definitely affluent, wasn’t too rich in decoration. Most of the items were made or decorated with copper, probably with the copper that had been gathered in the mine. There was even a bust of what Shinasi assumed to be the owner, he couldn’t read the inscription below it, of the mansion. The maid opened a door, wherein lay a thirtysomething in a sharp one-piece suit and bearing an even sharper mustache. Shinasi removed his helmet and held it over his chest, which was the standard way to greet a superior in Gemeinplatz. “Greetings, sir.” He even bowed down a bit to add a extra bit of sycophancy.

Sir Algernon looked pleased with the actions of Shinasi. “Welcome, I see that you are a well-bred man Shinasi. It’s rare to find such adventurers.” He gestured towards a seat that sat in front of him. “Here, you may sit down. I am Sir Algernon Satō-Wang of Curry, and this is my wife, Leila. We have two children as well, though they’re currently a bit busy being tutored upstairs.” Shinasi had missed the woman sitting on the other side of the room, he bowed down to her as well.

Leila was fanning her face with a paper fan as she spoke. “I’m happy that he seems to be different compared to the other adventurer we called up, dear.” Shinasi noticed that her abdomen was greatly swollen, signaling that she was pregnant. Her outfit was equally as sharp as Algernon’s.

Algernon nodded his head in agreement. “Indeed, I have high hopes for him.”

That’s a bit too much for a temporary worker, isn’t it… “Sir, please, you do not need to spend so many words of praise someone coming here temporarily.” Showing humility was a great way to warm up with the nobles, or that was what Shinasi had learned anyways.

“Temporary? Right, that’s what was told to you. After seeing you however, I believe you could have permanent employment. It’s hard to get good retainers up in these mountains.” Algernon switched to business mode, extending his hand toward Shinasi for a handshake. “Two libra a day, with accommodation and food taken care of and one day break every decameron?” He was a master at blitzkrieg, his krieg being flattery and business.

Two libra wasn’t bad, it amounted to somewhere around four loaves of bread. Shinasi didn’t think too hard about it while shaking hands with Algernon however, for he wasn’t here for a job. “Thank you so, so much sir.”

“Well, let’s celebrate with something to drink, shall we?” Algernon clapped his hands as loudly as he could muster. “Ekene! Ejike!”

The young maid that had greeted Shinasi at the door returned with a tray with teacups, along with a butler that looked to be her brother who carried a pot of tilia tea. Ekene, the sister, set the teacups while Ejike, the brother, began pouring tea into them without saying a word. While pouring Ejike’s hand slipped and the tea from the pot flew onto Algernon’s oh-so precious suit.

“What the- Damn you, dog!” The calm, businesslike demeanor of Algernon suddenly shifted to that of a savage. He was about to stand up to enact physical punishment, before Leila tugged on his suit. “Dear, be calm.”

Ekene and Ejike were watching their master in fear as he went back to business mode. “Right, I probably shouldn’t damage the slaves too much. But this is the kind of actions these uppity darkskins pull off when you don’t let me tutor them properly, woman. He paused to think of a punishment that wouldn’t make his wife too mad. “No food for you today. Now git!”

The siblings obliged and left the room posthaste. Algernon turned toward Shinasi to address his new employee. “You see, these darkskins are like dogs. You need to use brute force to get them to understand anything, or else they get uppity like they did just now. Don’t hesitate to get physical, as long as you don’t kill or permanently damage them. Got that?”

Shinasi tried his best to keep a poker face. “Yes sir.” He had never seen how masters treated their slaves. Algernon’s behavior seemed no different to how Shinasi had seen lords treat their underlings, to how they had treated his parents. “I’ll be sure to give them a good whack if they step out of line.”

“Good, good. I think we’ll get along well.” Algernon smiled toward Shinasi, with genuine warmth that seemed out of place after what he had just done and ordered to be done to his slaves. He seemed to genuinely value his retainers. “You should report to the head overseer, he’s the one responsible for you.”

“Understood sir. I’ll be taking my leave, then.” Shinasi added a few more words of gratitude and flattery as he got up and left the room. His heart was weighed down by heavy emotions as he did so. He had initially joined Brown mostly on a whim, intending to escape from Azdavay. The words he spent at the night encounter with Ayomide, they were mostly points he had copied over from the captain’s speech without much personal elaboration.

Now, however, Shinasi was slowly beginning to understand why he must do what he’d do. He made his way to the head overseer, with newfound determination slowly budding in his heart.

Steward McOy
Taylor J