Chapter 37:

Chapter XXXV – Be swift my mouth, to order them!

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

“…you lost men?”

“Yes sir.”

“To a bunch of barely equipped slaves?”

“Yes sir- No, actually, we lost the captain to the cultivators. So not all of us were killed by slaves.”

“Is that supposed to make me feel better?”

Kim Seong-Min really wanted to send his head crashing down to the desk from the second-hand embarrassment he felt. He sufficed by making his hand crash down on his face, damaging office equipment would only make his financial situation slightly worse, groaning loudly as he had to think about having to set aside more capital for the special anti-fugitive operation.

The mercenary in front of him looked at his boss nervously, looking to see what Kim would do. Kim didn’t move a muscle, his palm firmly planted on to his face, for a whole minute while groaning and adding barely legible curses that’d make his mom throw slippers at him if she was in the room. He then calmed down, took a deep breath, and shooed the mercenary away with his hands. “Get out. I’ll have something for you to do in a day or so.” Kim needed time to think.

“Yes sir!” The mercenary saluted him and left the room. Kim leaned back on his comfy office chair, he was quite a clever young man who knew not to spend money on overly expensive gamer chairs, placing his hands on the back of his head while rocking back and forth. Maybe I should’ve shot that guy to make an example… Kim shook his head at the idea that popped into his head. No, that’d just be a waste of money. I never got why those evil guys shoot their underlings at the slightest hint of incompetence. Kim wouldn’t have gotten far in the world of business if he shot every incompetent son-of-a-donkey’s-hind in his sight. Heck, shooting so many people would probably more than halve the working population of Korea and Gemeinplatz, which’d be quite bad for the economy.

Kim looked outside the window while thinking where he saw the city of Casamonu. It was quite dark outside, like any other city in Gemeinplatz during nighttime. There was no convenient electric or magic lighting, so life at the city disappeared along with the sun itself. Kim had installed a portable generator and a few electric lights into his office to not have to go to sleep along with the city. He was the sort of man who would not sleep until 3 AM, staying up to argue with strangers online.

Arguing… Thinking of his many ongoing forum quarrels, Kim remembered that he was supposed to be thinking about what to do with the fugitives on the mountains. The coalition so carefully built up by Count Leon had sort of dissolved when their first expedition resulted in failure on a comedic scale, meaning that it was every-man-for-himself when it came to eradicating the threat lurking on the mountains.

Adventurers had already rushed to Mount Curry as if it contained not copper but gold, but he was yet to hear any reports of captured slaves. This was quite disconcerting: either the slaves had already escaped, or they were managing to stay hidden in some sort of hidden base. Kim hoped for the former, he didn’t really care what happened outside of his place-of-operation, but the latter meant that the slaves were planning on staying and causing panic. He had to commend them for their ability to cause indirect damage to the economy. Perhaps I should hire some thugs of my own to damage competition in other provinces…

Knock knock! “Who’s there?” Kim’s train of thought, which had slowly inched over to a plan, was derailed by a knock on his door.

Kim heard a familiar voice. “Nirmal, sir.” It was his secretary.

“Come in.” replied Kim, and Nirmal obliged. “What do you have to report on in the middle of the night?”

“It’s about the hand cannons you brought. We have two of them spare now that their users are no longer… working with our company.” Nirmal was carrying around two M1 Garands in his arms as if he was carrying a baby. The secretary was violating every known law of firearm security as he did so, which caused Kim to be slightly worried. “What should we do with them?”

“Just throw them into a stockpile in Gemeinplatz. Having them in Korea would be dangerous.” Even with the might of his Isegye Company behind him, it had been quite a bother to smuggle what little arms they had brought into Korea; Kim would have begun making plans for world domination if he had the ability to bring in more weaponry. Maybe I should move my company over to the United States, is what he thought sometimes, but moving his portal to Gemeinplatz was impossible as far as he knew. “We might need them at some point.”

“You’re not going to hire new mercenaries?” Nirmal was curious as to what Kim was planning.

Kim shook his head. “No, I’ve realized something.” His train of thought had reached its destination during the conversation with Nirmal.

“What’d that be, sir?”

Rising up from his seat, Kim had only one thing to declare: “Sometimes you have to do things yourself.”

20th of Summer, 5859
Mount Curry, Casamonu / Azdavay

“Praise be to the Our Father in Heaven, it looks beautiful…”

Brown stood alongside a small group of freemen, and in front of them stood semi-spherical structures that one might mistake for some sort of housing if they were to squint their eyes. Their hands and clothes, or what little clothes they had, were covered in mud and grime similar to the houses they were standing in front of.

Straws bunched together, bent and covered in a mix of mud and slime with a wood log in the middle to balance everything out, were the pinnacle of construction technology in Mount Curry. It had taken the construction crew a long week of scaling down ambitions and experimentation to finally arrive at a design which they could construct with their limited skills and resources. Making a structure out of mud wasn’t easy; making a structure out of mud which didn’t slowly melt and disappear in the rain was hard.

Brown eventually planned constructing houses with wood and clay bricks, with all the saws and whatnot they had acquired courtesy of Sir Baha, but that required even more time and skill. What was important right now was to stop having to cram everyone in the cave like they were sardines in a can. These glorified mud tents would have to do for now.

Besides, even these mud tents were somehow better than their old slave accommodations.

“As beautiful as mud can be, anyways.” added Ayomide, who had been tasked as always with drying any material that needed to be dried. Her hands were sore from having to move them around so much while drying.

“You see young lady,” began Brown which prompted Ayomide to get ready for another lecture “I think it is most beautiful that one can make shelter just from the earth which our Maker has provided us so graciously in abundance.”

Yes, oh so gracious is he that we are made to live under mud and rain, added Ayomide silently. She had learned, along with everyone else, to not enter fruitless arguments with John Brown. They had learned that one couldn’t change Brown’s mind about “God” and whatnot.

“Speaking of earth and mud, I wonder what the Bilal and his kilnsters are doing.” Ayomide expertly changed the subject, and Brown followed suit as to not be idle.

“We should check, young lady.” Brown and Ayomide bid farewell to the construction crew as they headed down to where Bilal was conducting experiments to make a kiln that actually worked.

“May the Divine bless us with a working pottery kiln. It willing we shall get a furnace that burns bright and properly processes poetry…” Vaiz was praying for divine intervention while Bilal and his men were contributing by praying and keeping watch over the fire. His hands open in prayer were covered in mud; the priest clearly hadn’t sat by idly to which Brown would reply with something akin to “faith is dead without good works”.

“Cap’, the smoke isn’t going black!” shouted Hakim, who was tasked with keeping watch over the fire. Cooking and pottery weren’t all too dissimilar, especially in the department of fire making.

“Good. Let’s hope that it stays that way. Keep fanning that fire!” replied Bilal, who was commanding everyone else in the area. Black smoke meant that combustion was not complete, which meant that not enough oxygen was entering the kiln which’d hamper efficiency. No one in the area knew what an “oxygen” was, except for Brown and Tubman who themselves weren’t too knowledgeable on the subject. They knew or quickly learned that fire needed an intake of air to burn, the hard part was trying to construct a kiln that could get enough air in while not letting heat out.

With the knowledge above, Bilal and his team had slowly iterated towards a workable convection kiln design.

It was a laughably simple and small design compared to what they had back in the mines, but it was a pretty impressive one considering the process leading up to it: plenty of kilns were shattered, countless pottery botched, and one man had even almost lost their hand when they accidentally touched a heated kiln. At the bottom was the “firebox”, where the fuel (mostly twigs and straw: Bilal had observed that directly putting logs in would cause the pottery to crack from the intense heat) would be placed through a hole opened to the side to allow air to pass through. Atop the firebox sat the chamber where the pottery itself would sit atop a column separating it from directly meeting the fire.

The construction itself was simple, but the hardest part was the material from which the kiln was constructed from. The area of Mount Curry which found themselves in had soil with lots of clay, which tended to crack by itself when it was used to make such a large structure. After trying different materials to strengthen the clay, the kiln crew found that adding high amounts of sand could help the kiln survive.

“Hakim, how’s the pottery faring?” asked Bilal. He was happy to see that their kiln had successfully survived its maiden voyage. Now came for the real test: successfully firing pottery.

“Cap’ it’s…” Hakim took hold of a vase sitting inside the kiln, using a sword to grab it by a handle and drag it towards him. Out came a perfectly intact piece of pottery, much to the jubilee of everyone in the area. “Oh! It’s… a vase!”

“Praise be!” exclaimed Vaiz as he moved his hands near the vase, not touching it as it was still hot as Hell, as if he was blessing it. “Thank ye for rewarding our hard work, o’ great one!”

“Thank the Lord, the King of Kings, and the Holy Spirit who leads us!” Brown joined in the festivities with a blessing of His own. “Oh, what a great day this is!”

Ayomide silently watched as a gang of fully-grown adult men gathered around a piece of pottery and prayed around it with great jubilee.

Today, on the 20th of Summer, 5859, Bilal and his crew entered the New Stone Age (a.k.a. the Neolithic Age).

Taylor J
Steward McOy