Chapter 28:

Chapter XXVI – The letter is come.

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

5th of Summer, 5859
Casamonu, Empire of Gemeinplatz

An interesting letter had arrived at Sir Leon’s desk today. He calmly read its contents, not sure whether to be happy or frustrated with the news.

“…and, Your Excellency, I implore you to gather your council and help me save my sister and avenge your kinsman as soon as possible. Your most faithful vassal, Sir Baha Earlywatch.” Leon put the letter down, leaning back on his desk to think. He had thought that it was likely for some incident to be arisen due to the fugitives, but he hadn’t thought that such a bold move was possible.

Killing a nobleman, kidnapping his cousin, and occupying a mine? Something afoul must be up, or so thought Leon. The exodus of slaves and this uprising couldn’t have occurred without outside intervention. For all he knew, Leon was facing powers that far surpassed a border count like him.

Right now, greater powers or not, Leon had a situation he had to respond to. He didn’t personally care much about his cousin, Algernon. Sir Algernon was a very far off relative that Leon had barely even seen and, to be honest, he couldn’t care less about the death of one of his many cousins.

What Leon could care about was the killing of a nobleman in his territory, especially one of his kinsmen from the Satō-Wang family. Not to mention the fact that, if news of slaves occupying a mine in his territory got out, then it’d make Leon look weak and incompetent. He definitely didn’t want his reputation being tarnished by a bunch of fugitives. Various guilds in Azdavay had gone bankrupt after the exodus, and merchants in Casamonu itself had expressed concerns about the safety of their jobs. This, everything about these uppity slaves, had to be stopped before it got out of hand.

The survival of the count’s rule preceded the survival of some minor vassal’s sister.

Thankfully, Leon wasn’t an idle or carefree man. The count had calculated that the fugitives might strike back sooner or later. He had been busy politicking and calling in various favors the last month, doing his best to gather a voluntary response team of respected individuals from his county. Thanks to his efforts, Leon wouldn’t have to personally spend a penny outfitting this force.

‘Not spending a penny’ sounded very delightful indeed. Leon patted himself on the back for a job well-done. “Hilmi!” His trustworthy servant came running into the room at Leon’s command. The count took out a small stack of letters and handed it over to the servant. “Send these to the addresses written on them.”

“Understood, Your Excellency.” The servant bowed and took his leave. Leon was smiling at his own genius idea: pre-writing the letters he needed to summon everyone. He had just given the orders to summon the likes of Kim Seong-min and Long Dong. The count didn’t know if all of them would come, he was sure some of them would shirk their responsibilities, but he didn’t need much to retake the mines.

Now all Leon needed to do was patiently wait. Soon, this little insurrection would be crushed at little cost.

5th of Summer, 5859
Former Estate of Sir Algernon (new name ever pending), Azdavay / Casamonu

“Cemil! You’re too far to the right. Move it… Yes, right there.” Bilal commanded a group of miners from atop an incline. He had been tasked, after having shown his skills as a representative, with leading a group of freemen to strengthen the fortifications around the mine. The first order of business was to construct a trench around the estate to slow enemies down. Digging a simple trench was all too easy for a group of experienced miners. A dozen miners, armed with their shovels and picks, worked around the clock to realize this plan.

Lady Leila gave them precious time to prepare. Brown thought that no one would dare strike while they held a noblewoman hostage. Still, it wasn’t a bad idea to keep the powder dry and have the men ready to fight in case Sir Baha wasn’t willing to cede to their demands. For that purpose, Ayomide and Shinasi had been tasked with imparting their knowledge of combat to the newly recruited freemen. These two squads of miners and fighters worked in shifts, switching personnel every day.

A small group of kiln workers was also tasked with making javelins and other tools from copper, a process that was going slowly. They had previously only worked to refine impure copper ore into bars for easier transportation, meaning that they didn’t have any experience with toolmaking.

Thankfully, copper wasn’t too hard to manipulate and work with. The kiln workers had already managed to copy the makeshift stone spears by pressing them into clay molds. Molten copper could be poured into these molds to create new, better spearheads. Copper by itself wasn’t particularly sharp or strong, but this method was much faster compared to knapping stone. Speed was important when one needed to equip an army of thirty men.

Feeding all of these working men was Hakim and Tater, who worked to forage the forests of Azdavay and Casamonu for food. With the help of the estate’s kitchen, they could work to cook foods that were comfortably edible.

All of the above, however, was interrupted when a visitor came upon the gates of the estate. Riding up the path was a man on a horse, with his hands raised up to show that he was unarmed. From his attire, a one-piece suit and a bowtie, one could see that he was most likely some sort of servant. “I come in the name of my lord, Sir Baha Earlywatch!” He was quickly surrounded by a group of freemen carrying spears.

“Who might you be?” Shinasi, the new gatekeeper of the estate, split apart the sea of people to greet their guest. “Are you here to deliver, or are you here to make empty pleas?”

“I’m here to do both, if that’s possible.” The old servant jumped off his horse. He opened a large bag attached to the saddle, revealing various tools such as hammers and saws, along with a small sum of money. This servant didn’t know why the slaves had such odd requests for ransom, he’d have only requested money if he ever kidnapped a noble. “Think of these as a down payment. My lord will not send the rest unless I get to meet Lady Leila, and her children, in person and confirm that she’s fine.”

“I’ll be escorting you to her.” Shinasi signaled the crowd to stand back. “Don’t try anything reckless or your dear mistress’ life will be forfeit.” The crowd of freemen parted to allow Shinasi and the servant to pass through. The armed freemen followed them afterwards to make sure that the servant couldn’t pull off any dirty magical tricks.

The servant followed Shinasi up to the second floor. There, Shinasi knocked on Leila’s room. “Ayomide, you in there?”

The door unlocked. “Yes, I’ve been stuck in here for the last few hours.” An annoyed Ayomide showed her face. She noticed the servant. “Oh, this must be the ‘Ted’ that the kids have been talking about. Come in, they’re still alive.” She stood right next to Ted, ready to dispel any spells that he might try to cast. Something like teleportation was rare in Gemeinplatz, but one could never be too sure.

Entering the room, Ted was happy to see his mistress and her children to be alive and well. They were in a much better condition than he anticipated. He had expected the freemen to commit unspeakable acts, but Leila seemed as fine as a newly widowed woman reasonably could be. The children seemed to be cheerful, but bored, and mostly ignorant of their situation.

“Ted? Is it Ted?” Ani and Timmy got up to greet this familiar face, while Leila sufficed with meekly waving at him. “Uncle! Are we going back? Father left so suddenly…” They surrounded poor Ted while pestering him with questions. He wasn’t actually their uncle, but he might as well have been.

“Well…” He carefully looked over his shoulder to Ayomide. Ted didn’t exactly know how to convey their situation to the children. He was honestly furious of the fact that he had to negotiate with a bunch of slaves. “You see, he has been suddenly assigned… to assist the emperor. We won’t be seeing him for a while.” The downfall of their father’s death would have to be dealt by Lady Leila. “Your father sold the estate when he left, so we’ll have to go back to living with Uncle Baha. Behave well, okay? He’s currently trying to get your carriages ready for the trip back.”

“Oh… Okay…” The kids seemed sullen at the prospect of Algernon’s sudden assignment. They could feel that there was something much more serious going on, kids are creatures that are much sharper than they might initially seem, but they could also feel that the adults in the room wouldn’t give them clear answers.

“And, mistress.” Ted turned to addressing the woman of the hour. “Have you been doing well? These…” He was about to use an insulting word here, but he retreated upon realization of the fact that he was surrounded by armed slaves. “…slaves, they haven’t done anything horrible, have they?”

“No, no, I’m fine.” Leila heaved a deep sigh. “As fine as I can be in… such an unexpected situation.” She herself was still surprised at the fact that no harm had come to her. Nothing else had happened, outside of a couple of verbal attacks whose perpetrators got a large scoop of admonishment from Brown (for it didn’t bode well for one to insult a lady). Ayomide and Brown had protected her from anything graver than the aforementioned.

Ted asked again to confirm her response, and Leila responded in a similar fashion. He was trying to make sure that the mistress wasn’t being forced to downplay the abuse committed by the slaves, but she seemed to genuinely not have had anything done to her. “I’m happy, mistress, to see that you are alive and well.”

“Alright, had enough of your emotional chit-chat?” Ayomide’s arms were getting tired of restraining Ted. “Bring the rest of the goods if you want to have a nice, long chat with her.” With this she pulled Ted out of the room, locking the door behind her.

“As you’ve heard from our own Lady Orange. No recoupment, no reunion.” Shinasi had fit into the role of a ransoming bandit pretty well. He felt oddly proud of this fact, and he also enjoyed the part where he got to indirectly order a nobleman to do something.

Shinasi quickly escorted Ted back to his horse. Their business was done and conducted, for now. “As our old man says, ‘Skedaddle!’.” The freemen watched as the servant disappeared into the horizon.

They knew not what’d arrive next…

“Halt! Who are you?” Shinasi turned around to look at the source of the commotion. There he found an enigmatic black figure clad with a dark shawl and a long dress, who kept a safe distance away from the freemen assembled around her. She was flanked by two figures clad in pitch black robes whose faces were obscured by hoods. Nobody in the crowd could decipher who she was.

“Brothers and sisters, do not be afraid of me.” The one speaking was the enigmatic old woman who, judging from her position, seemed to be the leader of this group. Her face was scowling, not out of anger at anyone present, but out of great perpetual discontent from how mankind treated itself. Her face was wrinkled all over from years of endless fighting, in and out the battlefield. Only a kerchief was present to cover her head.

“I only wish to see old John Brown once more.”

Taylor J
Steward McOy