Chapter 31:

Chapter XXIX – Bless them which argue with you.

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

All was not well on Baha’s part. All was not well.

“Your cousin was executed, Your Excellency, I get your frustration…” However, he still had to get down on his knees and suck on the boots of his rightful liege. “…but, please, those savages have my sister! We could at least negotiate, wait for them to release her, and then attack!”

The council, much to Baha’s disdain, was one of imminent war. It was not that Baha was a man of peace, definitely not, but he was a man of not having his immediate family die to a bunch of revolting savages. For all this petty lord knew, Leila’s throat would be slit open the moment the scouts of his liege were seen circling around the mine. Not to mention the fate of her children…

“Yes, you do have my condolences.” Leon wasn’t having any of his vassal’s pleading. “You see Sir Baha, these darkskins will be violating more than your sister if we let them continue their activities further.” All of this uprising business was dangerous for the prospects of Leon getting to stay as a count. “It’s for the good of the realm, I assure you.”

“I- I…” Baha kept his head down low even while he rose up from his kneeling stance. There wasn’t much of anything he could gain by arguing further. “Understood, Your Excellency.” The petty lord bowed to his lord and left the room, heaving a deep sigh and muttering some quiet curses after he made sure that the door was closed.

Baha slowly made his way out of the count’s castle, continuing to quietly complain when there wasn’t any servants or guards that could hear him. “Even those bloody darkskins must have more honor than this prick.” That was an odd thought to hear be said out loud, but Baha had lost much of his patience and trust against his liege.

A lord was supposed to protect his vassals, that was the whole shtick with feudalism and vassalage, but Leon had completely ignored that completely by sacrificing Baha’s sister. Yes, Baha couldn’t help but agree that defeating the fugitives sooner would be better for the commonwealth of the realm, but he also couldn’t help but act irrationally when faced with losing someone so close to him. At least the darkskins had, according to the observations of his servant, kept their side of the bargain.

What good was a liege who was no better than the so-called savages?

7th of Summer, 5859
Former Estate of Sir Algernon (just find a new name already for God’s sake), Azdavay / Casamonu

Summer had come to Northern Gemeinplatz, though Brown didn’t exactly know what to make of this “summer”. It wasn’t like summer in Connecticut or Kansas, sweltering and humid, but it was a summer where the air kept cool and the rain rarely ceased. Even if Brown had never seen it, he had heard that the gentle cold breeze of Northern Gemeinplatz was owed to the “dark sea” neighboring them.

With the skilled hands of the freemen, the trench constructing plan had been completed without much of a hitch (except for Bilal almost breaking his pinky while instructing someone on how to swing a pick). The estate area was small, contributing to the lightning-quick pace of ditch construction. Now a small line of earthen brown snaked its way through the outskirts of the estate, separating the outside from the inside.

Brown, he himself having worked digging trenches for a couple hours before his old back became too sore to proceed, and the freemen looked proudly at the mounds of dirt that they had dug up. It was hard labor, the sort that they had been doing for the last few years now, but it was work for the sake of themselves and not someone else.

The question now was: What next?

The freemen had a whole lot more options now, especially thanks to the ransom so graciously delivered to them by Sir Baha. Instead of money, Brown had initially requested for items to be delivered with most of those items being various tools of labor and industry. He planned on kickstarting proper construction, though it’d take him a good while to teach these newly freed men to do jobs other than mining. Still, he believed that these hardworking folk wouldn’t have a hard time learning anything given proper instruction.

“Now that we have taken our first step towards self-defense…” began Brown, turning to address the crowd. “…what else do you need?” It was a simple question, yet it was an important one. The old man wanted these people to govern themselves and truly be free, not for them to mindlessly listen to the words of some foreigner and accept Brown as their dictator-in-chief. The freemen would know best what they needed, all that was needed was for them to express and organize.

Hakim was the first one to raise a hand. “We’re running low on firewood. I’ll have to burn the furniture if we don’t work on that.” He looked around the crowd, before turning to newly-appointed foreman Bilal. “Your men can spend a bit of time chopping trees, right?”

Ayomide interjected before Bilal could reply. “We also need more of those copper spears. Having some ditch isn’t going to help us.”

The former maid Ekene further interrupted the foreman. “Most importantly, someone has been sneaking food off from the pantry! You know, we have limited food right now folks. We need to ration rationally if we want to stay alive!”

Without the need for much intervention, the disorganized crowd began organizing themselves. Thus, from becoming free of the shackle, the freemen also began freeing themselves further in another way, a way that’d help them be free of lords in the future.

Of course, all of the work that the freemen needed to do wouldn’t begin instantly.

They were human after all (despite what some might claim) and humans need breaks. It was the middle of the day now, with the sun having risen right on top even if nobody could see it thanks to the clouds, and nobody really wanted to go back to hard labor after having completed one project.

So it was that the freemen had gathered today to fulfill a need that had gone unfulfilled: their spiritual needs. In a world unforgiving and hostile to them, pretending that there was a deity or were deities who cared about them made everyone less worried about their situation. Being less worried gave them strength to face their source of worry, which leads to gratitude against whatever they just prayed to, so on and so forth until you get belief and religion.

The scene inside the dining hall, where the freemen gathered as usual, was an odd one.

“Oh, how I prayed then, lying all alone on the cold damp ground; 'Oh, dear Lord', I said. I haven't got no friend but you. Come to my help Lord, for I'm in trouble!” On one corner was Brown and Kyauta, facing Tubman while she was giving a makeshift sermon in front of a makeshift cross. They were also accompanied by Ekene and Ejike, who had mostly tailed them out of curiosity as to what these “Krischuns” were doing.

“Let me remind you that the duty of a good Believer is to let his dear man stand free, free to face the Divine whoever he might be! Now, let me tell you the story, one that they skip over in the Temple, of a freed slave who was a dear companion to our Prophet…” On the opposite corner were Vaiz and his new followers, with Bilal and a few of the other freemen sitting on the floor while listening to him.

On the complete opposite to this soup of belief sat Ayomide, Hakim, Tater and their big band of folk who didn’t care about either group. Having your family unceremoniously be torn apart, a common fate for any slave, wasn’t conductive to religious instruction of any kind. This neutral group prayed in their own unique ways, counting through a prayer bead, or rubbing a particularly lucky coin, or perhaps reciting bits of prayer to various deities and non-deities.

Thus was the odd syncretic environment in the former estate, one of Christianity, of the Divine Temple, and of folk religion side-by-side. Of white, Brown, and black united in common cause. A microcosm showing what might, perhaps, be the future in the macrocosm of Gemeinplatz. A future that’s frightening for some, exciting for others, currently not even imaginable by most.

The various groups finished their prayers, and dissolved to spend their free time at leisure. Leisure, in this case, meant very different things for very different people. Brown himself preferred to never spend time being idle, idleness being a broad term in his puritan book, and his activities consisted of sport and education (of others and himself). Ayomide was usually the one being educated by Brown, though thankfully she managed to stave off Bible study and Earth history thanks to the addition of new people for Brown to talk to. She either practiced with the M1 or she ran around the estate grounds to keep herself fit. Ayomide was doing just that, until she encountered a newly familiar sight approaching the estate.

“Evening, Ted.” It was the servant of Sir Baha, bringing them another installment of ransom. “Beware the ditches, you don’t want your horse to fall down there.”

Ted stopped his horse, barely in time for the animal not to fall in and break its legs. “When… When did you darkskins construct a fucking trench?!” Darkskins were supposed to be lazy, or so he thought. Stashing away his racist thoughts for a moment, Ted got off the horse to present a large bag of money. “This is all we can muster right now. Turning assets into liquid cash isn’t easy.”

Ayomide took the bag, and found cash in it that was clearly solid. “…I’m pretty sure this isn’t liquid anything. Are you trying to scam us?”

“No- It’s a financial term, for…” Ted quickly gave up on explaining. “It’s cash nonetheless. May I see the mistress?”

“No matter how many times you see her, she isn’t going anywhere.” Ayomide still accompanied the man into the main building nonetheless, to the upstairs where Leila’s room lay. “Please make your meeting quick, I don’t want to waste my leisure time with your lightskin business.”

Ted didn’t respond. He opened the door to the room, finding Leila who was clearly still alive much to his relief. “Mistress! Are you fine?”

Leila responded the same way she had responded before. “Fine as one can reasonably be in such a situation.” She was currently dying of boredom, being confined into one room and all, other than that nothing of note had happened to her. “The children are fine as well, thank the Divine.”

“That’s good, that’s good.” Ted took out a letter from his pocket. He glanced over to Ayomide to see if she was okay with him handing it over.

Ayomide snatched the letter, examining it with her hands to make sure that nothing sharp (like a weapon) was stashed inside it. She didn’t send any magic coming off of it either, an enchanted paper causing something like an explosion would be quite troubling, so she gave the letter back to Ted without causing any further problems for him.

From Ted the letter passed on to Leila, from Leila the letter passed on to the table to be read later, from the table the letter passed nowhere because letters (usually) do not move by themselves. “It’s a letter from your brother.” Ted bowed down to his mistress. “He’s currently doing his best to gather the funds for your ransom.”

Leila thought that his brother was slow, but she also knew the fact that he was lacking in financial matters. “Has he petitioned Count Leon yet? I’d think that the count could help him in this situation.”

“That…” Ted didn’t look willing to continue this conversation further. His eyes shifted to Ayomide, then the door. “That… I have to go, mistress. I shouldn’t overstay my welcome here.”

“Right…” Ted and Leila parted ways quickly as they had met. The mistress watched, from the window, as Ayomide led Ted outside and the butler jumped on his horse and disappeared into the woods once more.

With the servant gone, Leila’s attention was once more taken by the letter. There was nothing else she could do to entertain herself, so opening the letter was her only choice.

The seal of the letter broke as it opened, and so did she.

Steward McOy