His Soul is Marching On to Another World; or, the John Brown Isekai (Fall of the Slave Harem)
2nd of Summer, 5859
Former Estate of Sir Algernon (new name still pending), Azdavay / Casamonu
Lady Leila was resting in her bedroom, reading a book about the wonders that laid on Earth. She was softly rocking back on forth on a chair, cozying herself by the fireside.
Today was not a good day.
She had woken up this morning, in hopes that maybe the whole slave uprising was just a nightmare, but the former miners marching up and down the garden leisurely had ridden her of that notion. All of yesterday’s executions were real, her husband’s death was real, and her current troubled predicament was also very much real.
Any moment, she thought, the band of savages that lay outside could end her life. Perhaps death would be the better alternative. She didn’t exactly know what to do after being widowed so suddenly, left with two (plus one) children. Leila had no choice but return to the Earlywatch family she originated from, if she could survive that is.
Suddenly, a knock came from her door, distracting her from all the doom and gloom. “Are you in here, Leila?” Leila didn’t answer, but her visitor rudely entered the room anyways. Her visitor was a demi-human, a darkskin, and her informal manner of address would have gotten her something worse than the whip anywhere in Gemeinplatz.
“I’m apparently supposed to take care of you, since Ekene and Ejike didn’t want to do it.” Ayomide didn’t seem too pleased with her assignment. She wasn’t that willing to return to duties related to masters or mistresses, nobody else was willing, hence why Ayomide had been the one left to take on this job. “Here, your food.” She left a loaf of bread, made from shepherd’s reed flour. Hakim hadn’t gotten around to sorting through the mansion’s pantry yet, and this was the best that they had.
Leila blankly stared at, what could hardly be called, the piece of food dropped in front of her. “So… are you planning to kill me or?” She didn’t expect much from what she saw as a bunch of uneducated, uppity children.
“No, Brown was quite worked up about ‘the Lord’s mercy, Jesus Christ, think of the children and so on and so forth’. The rest of the freemen don’t seem enthusiastic about hanging you either, you know, with the whole children thing.” Ayomide clapped sarcastically. “Good job. You get to live another day.”
“Eh?” This surprised the former mistress more than the uprising itself. The last thing she was expecting was any form of mercy. “What are you going to do with me then?”
“You’re our prisoner, until you’re ransomed off. You come from a noble family, right? They must have quite the load of spare money.” Ayomide looked around the room, finding suitable quill and paper on a desk. She put them in front of Leila and continued with an air of formality, as if she was conducting legitimate business. “We hope that you’ll be able to provide us with suitable funds. Also, write your letter with Awmereighkan letters. Brown will be checking what you’ve written to make sure you’re keeping your part of the deal.”
Leila was pretty sure that a deal required two consenting parties, but she also was pretty sure one couldn’t object to being ransomed. “…Understood.” She at least wanted to do her best to keep what had remained of her family alive.
The ex-mistress took the quill, and began writing her own letter for ransom.
It was another foggy, rainy summer day in Casamonu, but no matter the weather, the wheels of business needed to turn no matter what. Industry in Casamonu was always hungry for ‘brown gold’, so caravans were almost always making their way up from the city to the mountains. Today too, a group of porters from Casamonu aided by pack animals and adventurers made their way to the Mount Curry in order to buy copper. Their group wasn’t too big; the tight mountain path was impossible to navigate with a large group.
One of their first stops was the Algernon Estate, a major producer of copper. Thanks to his abundant copper, caravans would often find what they were looking for at a good price there. Much to their dismay, however, they were greeted by a guard in front of the estate. The head of the caravan hailed the guard at the gate.
“Sorry, but we’ve got quite the plague going on in here, and those slaves refuse to work. No copper left in storage, either.” Shinasi was wearing a cloth mask to emphasize his point of there being a plague.
“What? That’s preposterous. I’d like to see your manager, young man!” The head of the caravan didn’t seem too pleased at missing his cheap copper.
“Sir Algernon himself is currently too sick to meet you. I think, sir, it’s better that you avoid going in lest you catch this awful plague yourself.” Shinasi took out a letter from his pocket, along with a few groschen. “His wife wants to send her family back home a letter. Sir Algernon would be quite pleased if you could help the letter find its way.”
The head of the caravan calmed down. He didn’t want to fall ill either, so he had no choice but to oblige in not entering the estate. He took the letter and money from Shinasi; sending letters through passing caravans wasn’t too uncommon up in the isolated mountains. “Good day to you, then.”
“Good day to you too, sir.” Shinasi watched as the caravan disappeared off into the fog.
Back at the estate, Brown was busy with convening the council again. “Gather around, no pushing.” Today would be the day of decision. The crowd was smaller compared to yesterday, around twenty people had decided to make way for Zon’guldac. Perhaps a couple more would make their way in the following days. Still, Brown was pleased to see that around thirty people remained.
“I hereby officially… you know what, there’s no need for formalities. We need action, not words. We have had more than enough speech already, I’d say.” John Brown put his hands on the dining table where everyone had gathered. He took a good look at all the freemen once more. “Ladies and gentlemen, with the Almighty as our witness, are ye ready to fight for the freedom of your brothers and sisters in bondage?”
Most of the people had stayed here to answer just that. There wasn’t much need for an answer, but some of the more creative freemen had prepared one that was concise. Bilal rose up from his chair, and delivered a curious item to the table: a copper spear head.
“The are some kilns in this estate; we’ve mostly turned copper into bars for easier transport, until now.” He pushed the spear head toward Brown, who picked it up and raised it in front of his eyes to take a proper look. Its construction was pretty crude, with juts and imperfections everywhere, not surprising considering that it had been only made in the one-day period after the slaves’ liberation. “We hope to continue developing ways which we can deliver copper in a faster and more efficient manner to a wider base of customers.” He made the motion of throwing a spear.
“May God bless you, what sweet words you lend to my ears today!” Brown laughed as he patted Bilal on the back. “Witty remarks, and a will to back them up, the way a man should be. Mister Bilal, was it? And your comrades here.” There was hope, even in a realm so foreign to Brown. Humanity, in its nature, seemed the same no matter were. “I’m afraid that the road ahead for our business will be rough, arduous, even boring to some extent. But, with Providence shining down with utmost grace upon us sinners, we shall pull through. Now, as I’ve promised, no more talk. Let us get to action!”
4th of Summer, 5859
Earlywatch Estate, Outskirts of Casamonu
Within the outskirts near any large settlement lay the estates of the noble sort, and Casamonu was no exception. From the estate of the Count himself to the lowliest and pettiest (in both senses of the word) estates of various knights and dames, along with the occasional big shot merchant who had found themselves lucky enough to grab some land.
Most of the houses were modeled after buildings on Earth, from grand castles of the Orient to not-so-grand American McMansions, for the nobility paid upmost importance to having otherworlder blood. It was the blood of heroes, kings and sex pests after all. Their blood was bluer than lapis, nobler than any revolting peasant, higher than the Heavens that stood atop them. Thus, they received their higher-than-divine right to rule over all under their shiny new boots they just ordered from overseas.
One particular exception was the Earlywatch family, as can be inferred by their surname, they didn’t trace their lineage to any otherworlders. Sure, they had married other families to acquire some of that blue blood, but they still stood as an exception for having a surname that wasn’t foreign. They prided themselves for being the descendants of the bastard child of a former emperor’s third cousin-thrice-removed instead, which was a greater achievement compared to being descended by some guy from Shandong or whatever.
Despite their claim to great blood however, their estate wasn’t that great compared to others. Their mansion was a small, reasonable one constructed in European (or ‘Yoropean’ as they spelled it) style, a style that was still somewhat in fashion. Its bricks had slowly begun to fade, and a couple shingles on the roof had gone missing without anyone bothering to put them back up. Only a couple peasants attended to the fields around this mansion, slaves were a bit too expensive, not to mention the fact that the owner didn’t want anyone darker than limestone running around his place. This marked an example of the not-quite-uncommon-as-one-might-think phenomenon of ‘being too racist to own slaves’.
The aforementioned owner was one Sir Baha Earlywatch, a knight under Count Leon. He was sitting in his office, slowly checking over droll financial figures that needed cooking. Baha would have loved to give this job to a steward, but he also didn’t trust someone else to handle his property. Maybe he’d have been in a better financial situation if he did.
“Sir.” One of his servants entered the room, letter in hand. He bowed down to greet his lord before continuing to speak. “A letter has arrived, from Lady Leila.” The servant dropped the letter on his desk and promptly left the room.
Sir Baha casually took the letter to his hand. Leila was his sister, they continued to exchange letters even in her absence. I hope it isn’t a letter that’s full of complaints about her husband again… Baha sighed, but he was happy to keep in touch with his sister regardless of her tendency to talk about Algernon’s treatment of the slaves. He should just get rid of his slaves if he dislikes them so much.
Baha couldn’t complain too much about Algernon, openly at least, as Algernon was the cousin of Count Leon. To be honest, he didn’t have much to complain about, Algernon treated Leila decently at the least. He thought that it was lucky that his sister had gotten married to such a close relative of the count, ensuring a secure position for the rest of the Earlywatch household.
The petty knight slowly opened the letter, expecting the usual as detailed above. “Dear brother, I hope that the Divine grants you Its favor and this letter reaches your hands without problem.” Baha smiled upon seeing his sister’s usual greeting. “Unfortunately, I think that Algernon has finally incurred divine wrath and I’m afraid that I’ve been caught in this wrath? Ha!” He couldn’t help but laugh at this expression. She was probably going to talk about some minor inconvenience that had fallen upon the poor man. “The slaves have risen up and…” The letter was getting less funnier the more he read “…have executed Algernon? I’m currently a prisoner…”
Baha re-read the letter a couple more times to make sure that his mind was not playing any tricks on him.
No matter how many times he read it, however, its contents didn’t change.