Chapter 20:

Chapter XVIII – Ye who hath planned.

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

82nd of Spring, 5859
Mount Curry, Azdavay / Casamonu

With a plan set and ready to go, the people of the cave were working hard to prepare themselves for the big day, which would be on the last day of Spring on the 90th. The squads of the estate alternated holidays every decameron; the first squad comprised of the more experienced overseers would be on holiday that day.

The first order of business was to prepare for combat. Ideally, there would be no combat needed if everything went to plan, but it wouldn’t hurt to prepare for the unideal to happen. Hakim and Tater were out in the open plateau with spears in their hands, being instructed by Brown and Ayomide.

Hakim threw a spear, twisting his arms in such an extreme manner that instead of flying up, it flew down right next to his feet. Tater had the opposite issue, where the spear flew directly up and, after almost causing another premature death for Brown by almost landing right on his head, landed at his feet.

Ayomide sighed and slapped her palm on her head (also commonly known as ‘a facepalm’). “You don’t need to twist your arms like that, come on.” Throwing a spear wasn’t exactly an exact science. “Hakim, release it a bit earlier. Tater, release it a bit later.”

Hakim and Tater threw their spears again, doing their best to follow the instructions of Ayomide. Hakim managed to threw his spear horizontally, but the spear ended up tumbling in the air and spun around before hitting the ground like a harmless twig. Tater managed to throw his spear horizontally as well, but his lack of physical strength made the spear land with strength comparable to a wet towel slowly colliding with a pot made of solid mithril.

Hakim threw the spear to the ground in frustration. “It’s so hard to throw these. Don’t think we’ll be able to get ready in eight days…” He took his axe that he had been carrying, and threw it toward a nearby tree. The axe hit the tree by the handle and dropped to the ground harmlessly, but this was still a better throw compared to a spear. “Just wish we could throw a spear like an axe.”

“Throw a spear like an axe? How’d you do that, geezer?” Tater tried to imagine how such a device could work, but his brain came up with nothing. He then had an idea. “A big sling that throws spears instead of stones would work.”

“A…” Ayomide elaborated on that idea, before coming to a sudden dead end. “That’s just called a ‘bow’. We could try making bows, how hard can it be?” Ayomide looked at Brown for help. “Old man, you said that you did a lot of shooting back in your day, you should know something or another about bows.”

“Young lady, I’ve never held a bow or crossbow in my life.” Brown was a man of the Beecher’s Bible.

They had looted a crossbow off of the guards in Azdavay, but the usage of the crossbow was blocked by the fact that they had forgotten to loot the spanning mechanism for it. The crossbow was too heavy to be drawn by hand, so it had laid around the cave without seeing use.

“What’d you shoot then? A sling?” Ayomide was running out of ranged weaponry.

“No, a gun.” Brown motioned his hands as if he was holding one. “You held it like this, I guess the closest thing this realm has are crossbows.”

“Guns? I’ve seen some back when I was in Casamonu. They had one big cannon on the wall, and some carried small hand cannons.” Tater carried his spear as if it was a hand cannon. “They held them more like this, however.”

“Ah! I remember one as well, I think.” Hakim paused to think of the exact details. “Umm… Right, right, I once saw an adventurer visit Jacob’s shop with this weird metal tube. He called it a ‘firearm’, and Jacob rambled on about something called the ‘second amendment’ with the customer.”

“…Old man, can you make guns?” asked Ayomide with great excitement. “You must’ve seen a lot of them. Making metal tubes don’t sound that complicated.”

“Young lady, do I look like Mr. Sharps to you? Of course, I cannot construct a gun just because I used them. It’s not just a metal tube, you need the primer, the powder, the trigger mechanism… There’s a lot to a gun.”

Hakim raised his hand. “I know where to get powder! With lye and sour milk, I can easily make us some of that good, white stuff.”

“We’re not talking about pearlash here, Mr. Hakim. It’s a different type of powder: gunpowder. However, it wouldn’t be too bad if you could get us some pearlash.” Pearlash (a.k.a. potassium carbonate) was used as a leavening agent; having leavened bread would be a great improvement to the quality of life in the cave instead of their current state of permanent Passover.

“…when did we begin talking about guns? Let’s return to the issue at hand here.” Ayomide had been staring at her spear intently after the possibility of having guns was shot down. If spears were to be thrown like axes, huh…

Ayomide was nothing close to an engineer, so nothing came to her mind for now. The rest of the day was spent with training which, in the end, didn’t prove to be of much use.

17 May 2023 / 82nd of Spring, 5859
Seoul, Republic of Korea

Kim Seong-Min smashed his keyboard with fury never seen before on the Korean Peninsula. He had just lost a match at the last minute. “Damn these Chinese pigs, always cheating at the game!” said Kim, ignoring the fact that he was playing on the Korean server.

Just outside his office was Nirmal, who was unsure whether he should enter or not. He had learned, in his career on Earth, that interrupting these so-called ‘gamers’ during a fit of rage wasn’t a good idea. He had good news however, so he decided to enter in hopes that Kim would calm down.

I gently open the door, and…

“Damned Japanese, two wasn’t enough…” Kim was going on a racially charged tirade that had somehow shifted focus from the Chinese to the Japanese. He had already sparked a massive flame war among the other players in the in-game international chat. It took him a good minute to finally notice Nirmal standing by the door with a giant suitcase. “Hmm? What do you want, Nirmal?”

“Sir, if it isn’t too inconvenient…” Nirmal placed the pitch-black suitcase on the desk. “The items you requested have arrived. This is all we could get without being caught.”

“The… Right, the items I requested to help the Satō-Wang.” He wretched a bit on the inside on the mention of this surname. ‘Satō’ was a Japanese surname and ‘Wang’ was Chinese, implying that Count Leon and his family must have been the result of a close Sino-Japanese relationship. This combination was a most dreadful one for Kim, and he’d rather execute that man’s entire family rather than give him one groschen. Still, business interests superseded xenophobia.

Kim opened the suitcase, finding five M1 Garand rifles neatly packed together along with boxes of .30-06 Springfield cartridges to be used with the rifles. Having firearms without authorization was highly illegal in South Korea, but Kim couldn’t exactly stockpile weapons in an authorized manner. With a bit of money in the right pockets, he had imported a few ‘sporting’ rifles over from the United States. Of course, in this case, sport meant ‘hunting fugitive slaves’, they were bad for business after all. “You’ve got the men ready too, right?”

“Of course.” It wasn’t hard to find men capable of operating firearms in a country where conscription was mandatory. “They’ve all been briefed on the Otherworld, and they’re ready to step into the portal and go to Gemeinplatz as soon as possible.”

“Great.” Kim had the slightest hint of a smile on his face. He was happy to get back at the fugitives that had damaged his profits. “Send them over to the Count then.”

“Right away, sir.” Nirmal bowed down. “One last thing sir, I’d like to remind you that your sister’s visit to Gemeinplatz is going to be happening on Sunday.”

“Do-Yun’s coming over to Gemeinplatz so soon? Right, then delay the sending of the men until then. It’d be better if I pledged those men with her and myself present.” Kim thought that it’d be better if the Count saw the one oh-so graciously helping him out, and that it’d be good for his sister to see how far her brother had gotten. “Get me a fresh suit to wear for that occasion, from the same supplier in Milan as before.” The one thing Kim loved more than inciting flame wars was having clothing that was fire itself.

“Understood, sir.” Nirmal bowed again, and took his leave with the suitcase full of rifles. He breathed a sigh of relief when he was out of the door. It seemed that Kim hadn’t noticed anything yet. He took a disgusted look at the suitcase full of weaponry, before making his way to the corridor.

The skyline of Seoul was visible from a window in the corridor. It was night, but it was light as day no matter the hour. Nirmal stared at the sky, which had no visible stars thanks to light pollution. “My brethren… I hope that I won’t join you too soon. I still have a job to do.” He hummed a somber elven tune as nonchalantly as he could, exiting from the premises of the office.

“And a man from Azdavay says: Hey, what are you doing escaping from here? Oh, a man from Azdavay says…” Hakim was humming a makeshift tune while preparing light snacks with Tater during the night. Brown was praying while standing in a corner as usual, and Ayomide was reviewing the map of the Algernon estate.

“Hmm…” Ayomide was predominantly occupied with the idea of a spear that could be thrown more easily. While she was able to use magic, her affinity in wind and light didn’t constitute much in terms of offense. Sure, she could speed up a shot with wind, but having a faster shot to work off of would be of tremendous help.

…growl. Perhaps this wasn’t the right time to think. Ayomide couldn’t resist the callings of her stomach. She headed over to Hakim. “Whatcha cooking there?”

Hakim handed small balls of cooked dough in response. “I thought that cooking flatbread in smaller pieces might make it more digestible.” He had been done with the cooking, so he turned to the chef’s assistant, Tater. “Hand me a bar of soap, won’t you?”

Tater obliged. “Here.” Hakim did his best to clean the pot using some soap and water, and Ayomide watched while eating.

Suddenly, an unwelcome visitor showed itself on the entrance of the cave. It was a naughty slime, which had wandered towards them after hearing the smell of bread.

“Shoo, piss off!” Hakim wasn’t having any of it so he instinctively used the only weapon currently in his hand: the pot. He swung the pot, and the bar of soap still resting inside of it flew out like a stone launched by a catapult. The poor slime was hit square in its non-existent face, and ran away in terror. “Another bar of the soap, please.”

“Here.” Tater handed Hakim another bar, and they immediately got back to work.

That soap flew pretty far, didn’t it? The gear’s inside Ayomide’s flatbread-fueled brain began turning. What if… What if there was a spear inside that pot instead? She constructed what seemed to be a nonsensical sentence at first, before further deliberation on the topic began shaping something that might actually work. It doesn’t have to be a pot. Just something the spear rests on while being thrown in the same manner…

“Yeuwrikah!” shouted Ayomide, who had heard about Archimedes’ exploits from Brown but hadn’t heard of how to properly pronounce ‘eureka’.

Hakim turned toward Ayomide, with much confusion in his expression. “Yew re-cough?”

“Don’t matter how it’s spelled, what matters is that I just had an idea!”

Taylor J