Chapter 22:

Chapter XX - The hour is come.

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

I had reasoned this out in my mind; there was one of two things I had a right to, liberty, or death; if I could not have one, I would have the other; for no man should take me alive; I should fight for my liberty as long as my strength lasted, and when the time came for me to go, the Lord would let them take me.
- Harriet Tubman, as quoted in Harriet, The Moses of Her People (1886) by Sarah Hopkins Bradford

90th of Spring, 5859
Estate of Sir Algernon, Azdavay / Casamonu

Today was the day. It wasn’t yet the time, however, as it was just the morning. Shinasi and everyone else in the barracks woke up with the bell ringing. They lined up in front of the head overseer, and he again paid them their wages.

“Today is holiday for the first squad. Now git, and come back by night!” Upon the command of the overseer, the more experienced overseers of the first squad dissolved to make their way to Azdavay or Casamonu. They disappeared from sight on their steeds, most of them had enough money to afford one, while Shinasi watched them to make sure they were gone.

Shinasi’s comrades would arrive by noon. He had to work as usual until then, and today’s work was patrolling the small personal garden of Lord Algernon while the slaves worked to attend it.

The garden truly was a small one, and no impressive plants grew this high up on the mountain. Shinasi encountered Ejike and Ekene trimming a hedge with a pair of scissors. They came eye-to-eye, and quickly nodded at each other in silence to ensure that they were in on the plan.

Shinasi quickly marched away from them as if he had nothing to do with the siblings, only for him to encounter another pair of siblings. They were the children of Algernon and Leila, Shinasi estimated that they were no older than ten years old. Their small garments were fancier than anything Shinasi could ever dream to lay his hands on. He felt his own disappointing pair of pants be tugged; looking down he saw that the culprit was the sister. “Hey, mister.”

“Yes, Ani?” Shinasi hadn’t interacted much with the children.

“Do you want to play Awmereighkan handball with us?” Shinasi saw that Timmy, Ani’s brother, holding a leather ball shaped like a lemon. He had participated in many a handball match in his youth, and Shinasi wouldn’t say no to a way to kill time. “Sure.”

“Then our goal is between these bushes, and your goal is on the opposite bushes.” Ani backed away from Shinasi. “Let’s go!”

“Wait, now?” Before Shinasi could properly ready himself, Timmy kicked the ball toward Ani and the match started. Shinasi dropped his spear and shield, in preparation to meet the little girl kicking the ball towards his general direction. He had always thought that the game being called ‘Awmereighkan handball’ was odd when players mostly interacted with the ball using their foot.

Putting aside idle thoughts, Shinasi met his foe and easily stole the ball away from Ani thanks to him being a fully grown adult. He then kicked the ball, the ball whizzing past Timmy and stopping somewhere between the bushes, and scored his first goal. He felt oddly proud of the fact that he had beaten a pair of noble kids.

While Shinasi was busy gloating over his victory, Timmy picked up the ball and launched it toward Shinasi’s bushes, managing to score a goal. “Mister, your long, pike-like legs are no good. We’re even now!”

“Oh, you brats. It’s on!” Thus, Shinasi spent half an hour kicking the ball to-and-fro with the children. Many laughs were had, and everybody involved seemed to enjoy it until an intruder came to visit them.

“Shinasi.” The aforementioned Shinasi turned around to see his temporary employer, Sir Algernon.

Shinasi instinctively bowed down the best as he could. “Oh, I’m so sorry sir, I just-“

Algernon stopped Shinasi mid-bow. “No, no- I just wanted to say that you were doing a good job. I’ve been watching you from afar, and dare I say, you’ve done a great job at keeping these little brats occupied.” Shinasi raised himself straight, mumbling a few words of gratitude. “You know, I think you might be more suited at babysitting rather than an overseer!” Algernon laughed at his own joke and Shinas joined with his own awkward laughter. "Sorry for interrupting you, you may continue." He took is leave, leaving Shinasi alone with the kids.

Shinasi watched as Algernon left. That man’s the father of these kids, isn’t he…

“Mister?” Timmy threw the ball at Shinasi. He took it in his hands and threw it back at Timmy.

“Sorry, but I’ve got to go now.” He took his spear and shield into hand, walking away from the scene as quickly as possible. Playing with the kids he’d help potentially orphan left a bad taste in his mouth.

“Are we there yet?” complained Tater. He, Brown, Ayomide and Hakim were marching on towards the copper mine. While they had originally planned to undertake this operation at night, it was deemed to valuable to attack during the noon when the veteran overseers were away on holiday.

Ayomide reprimanded Tater by giving him a slap on the neck. “Course we ain’t there. Be quiet!”

Tater bowed his head, keeping accordingly quiet. Their group was doing their best to travel just off the path in cover of the trees. They wanted no trouble until they reached the estate, which they had reached just now.

Brown whispered to the group. “Alright, does everyone remember what they need to do?”

“Aye.” It wasn’t hard to forget what they had been rehearsing for an entire decameron.

“Then, may God grant us victory. Skedaddle!” Brown and Ayomide were the first ones to rise up from the trees, and in a way that might seem detrimental at first, walked on the path and approached the gate of the estate. There was an overseer standing guard in a wooden shack, overseeing the path from Azdavay.

The overseer noticed Brown, who was limping while being held up by Ayomide. He had blood smeared on his pants. “Sir? Are you fine?” He left his booth and hastily approached the pair.

“Man-bears… One of them ran up and-” Brown coughed, and almost fell off the hold of Ayomide.

Ayomide was visibly struggling to carry Brown. “Sir, can you help me carry my master?” She looked at the overseer with pleading eyes. “I- I’ll do anything you ask for. Please!”

“O- Of course!” The overseer sheathed his blade, intending to help Ayomide hold Brown up.

However, Brown had a surprise in store for him. “What th-mmph!” The frail-looking old man suddenly jolted upwards with unexpected vigor and tackled the overseer, blocking his mouth with his hand. “I’m not fine, boy, for I am sick of your ilk!” He took out a long rope made of cloth he had kept from Jacob’s establishment, and gagged the man. Ayomide helped restrain him further by tightly binding his hand and feet with a rope made of shepherd’s reed’s straw.

“That was some good acting, old man.” said Ayomide as she tied the last knot on the rope. “I honestly thought that you were actually dying for a second there.”

“I pray that I won’t be dying in such a manner.” Brown looked at his pants, covered in bird blood. “Such a shame, I hope that I’ll be able to properly wash these later.” The pair carried the man back to his booth, closing the door behind him. They then waved their hands toward the rest of the group, who were still in the forest, signaling them to go through the gate for the next phase of the operation.

One overseer down, nine to go.

Meanwhile, Shinasi was busy being on breaktime. He entered a small cabin, meant for overseers taking breaks. There he saw his occasional drinking buddies, Kasim and Melissa, chatting away with each other.

“Oh, Shinasi. You on break too?” Kasim noticed the two jugs being held by Shinasi “What are those? Got us something to drink?”

“Indeed, I do.” Shinasi had spent all his newly gained 8 libras on wine. “Fine stuff imported all the way from Ancoire.”

“Ancoire wine? I’ve… heard about it.” Melissa shook her head as if she knew anything. She didn’t, the only oenophile in the group was Shinasi. “Is it a good idea to drink so much when we’re on the job?”

“Come on, the day’s already over anyways.” Shinasi placed the jugs on the table. “One is for me, share the other amongst yourselves.”

“Eh? You get one all to yourself?!” Kasim seemed annoyed at this proposition. “Come on man…”

Shinasi smirked in the smuggest manner he could conjure. “Pfft, I bet you couldn’t even last one cup.” He took two cups from a cupboard, and gave them to Kasim and Melissa. “How about a bet? If you drink your portion before I finish mine, then I’ll give each of you ten libra. If you lose, then you do the same for me.”

Kasim didn’t want to lose face, so did Melissa. “It’s on!” They poured the wine into their cups, taking a big gulp. Both felt their throats burn up, and Kasim couldn’t help but cough in pain. “What in the Otherworld is this? It’s too strong… Is this even wine?” He looked at his opponent, only too see Shinasi leisurely drinking away without any problem. Kasim did his best to not lose to Shinasi, pouring himself another cup.

After around twenty minutes of pain, the combined coalition of Kasim and Melissa had emptied their jug before Shinasi. However, they had no time to celebrate their victory. They both felt nauseous, and were seeing even seeing doubles. “Whah- whah de hewl did you make ush dreink?”

Shinasi was casually sipping away at his wine. “Well, I’ll have to tell you that grapes don’t grow much in Ancoire. They don’t make any proper wine there.” He finished his cup, and poured himself more from his jug. He continued casually nerding out. “So, ‘Ancoire wine’ usually refers to rakija around those parts, they distill it, not once but twice, from molasses that they make from locally produced sugar beets. Gives it the bitter taste you’ve just experienced. Quite a strong drink, and I made sure I got the strongest one from the market as a gift for you two. For all I know, the ones you drunk might be thrice-distilled. Imagine that!” He intended to pour himself more again, only to find his jug to be empty. “Of course, I prefer wine so I bought plain old wine imported all the way from Esmira for myself… Oh, you’ve both gone asleep.” He looked at the pair of unconscious overseers who couldn’t hold the copious amount of ethanol in their system. “…I guess people to tend to fall asleep when I talk about these things.”

Two overseers down, seven to go.

Taylor J