Chapter 38:

Chapter XXXVI – Be swift my folk, to organize ourselves!

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

23rd of Summer, 5859
Mount Curry, Casamonu / Azdavay

Civilization, the human kind that we know of, has an interesting property in that its growth is exponential. If one were to jump one millennium from 50,000 BC to 49,000 BC, one would see the same scenery: humans barely figuring out how to light a fire. But if one were to jump the same distance from 1000 AD to 2000 AD, one would switch from gallant knights on horseback to gallant thermonuclear warheads on nuclear submarines.

Of course, Brown wasn’t going to be making such a huge leap; constructing nuclear weaponry to rain righteous hellfire on slavers was unfortunately quite hard due to the fact that Brown didn’t even know what a “radiation” was. Not to mention that there’s a limit to exponentiality when all one has is a bunch of miners turned kiln workers. Nonetheless…

“Praise be to the Lord!”

“The Greatest hath delivered us with liquid of the earth!”

Brown, and his small congregation next to the larger congregation of Vaiz, were quite excited as progress itself in liquid form melted down to a mold of clay. From their newly found cradle in the Neolithic, the people of Mount Curry had launched themselves into…

“Copper! Sweet copper, O’ Lord!”

…as announced by Harriet Tubman herself, they had launched themselves into the Chalcolithic Age (a.k.a. the Copper Age) in record pace (3 days, compared to the thousands of years needed by the average human society on Earth).

Such progress may not seem grand to those reading this on their magical computation devices. To a bunch of abolitionists looking for any sort of advantage, the manufacture of copper was quite a big deal.

Unlike the stone which Brown and Ayomide had fashioned spears out of, copper was a metal which was much more versatile. One couldn’t for example, unless one was especially brave or foolish, fashion a bowl out of stone; one could fashion all sorts of bowls out of copper. Helmets, random bits of fashionable plate that the adventurers might call armor, nails etc. all opened up thanks to the wondrously malleable metal that was copper.

“That’s quite a good spear tip if I do say so myself.” Bilal raised the clay mold with the molten copper poured into it as the onlookers watched with pride. Ayomide was at the back, wondering whether Mount Curry was slowly driving the faithful folk to insanity, for she couldn’t find any reasonable explanation for so much zealotry over copper of all things. Sure, she was happy that she wouldn’t have to eat off of wet, muddy bowls, but did that really call for such ceremony?

After having sufficiently stared at their comrade’s success, the crowd around the kilns dispersed once more to busy themselves with work, work currently entailing constructing half-spheres out of mud and foraging / hunting food. Not quite the most glorious or exciting of tasks, but one had to do what one had to do in order to survive in Mount Curry.

Returning from his tasks to take a break was Shinasi, who had been overlooking the path that led up to the fugitive settlement. Of course, the freemen had made sure that they weren’t visible from the path itself. Their settlement was built up the cliff, the same one that lead up to the cave that had sheltered Brown, behind higher sections of mountain. Even the smoke from the burning kilns was quite hard to spot from the path.

“Oh, it’s Mister Shinasi.” commented one little Tater, stating the obvious upon observing the former adventurer approaching. “Any trouble on that path?”

“I’d be screaming my lungs out if there was.” replied Shinasi, who clearly wasn’t screaming out anything. “Seen seven adventurers on the path today, though they of course didn’t intend to scale the cliff.” He slowly and lazily yawned. It was quite boring being idle. “I’ll be hitting the hay now; it’s been a long day of doing nothing.”

“G’night then.” Tater waved, before a sinister smile appeared on his face. “Good luck with your miss.”

“Shut up, kid.” said Shinasi, dismissing Tater by quickly walking away from the boy towards his newly built dwelling. He hadn’t figured out which was worse: the lodgings at the Adventurer’s Guild or the lodgings over at the Brown Mud Guild? Looking over the mud house that he was standing in front of, Shinasi couldn’t help but compare and evaluate his situation.

Doubt tended to beset him, as it always does to those who dare take a step forward. He was a fugitive now, no better than a fugitive slave except for the color of his skin. He had most likely slain people, actual living people like him, in the ambush. There was still a chance for him to turn back, return to normal adventuring and forget about all of this abolitionist nonsense. Sure, he had gained somewhat of an ideological basis for being against nobility and slavery, nor did he see the darkskins and demi-humans as inferior or deserving of slavery. Joining an abolitionist cause however, it felt like a lost cause to fight against an entire empire, especially when his own liberty wasn’t the liberty at stake.

Shinasi violently shook his head, as if his own thoughts were flies that were buzzing around his head that he wanted to scare away. I should really go to sleep. He approached the mud house, only to be interrupted by someone else coming out of the door.

“Oh, you’re back.” It was Ayomide, with hands ever so muddy.

Shinasi didn’t know what to say for a second, his brain was too full with needless thought. He eventually recovered enough to greet Ayomide back, and point out the elephant in the mud house. “My job’s done for the day. Also, why are you in my house?”

“My own hands were involved in building this one, so I think I have some sort of right to be in here.” replied Ayomide casually. “Besides, I’m a free woman, aren’t I? I can do whatever I want.”

Shinasi sighed. “I know that, but freedom doesn’t exactly entail being free to break the law.”

Upon hearing this reasonably reasonable point, Ayomide sufficed by shrugging. “What law? We don’t have any laws here, unless you want to listen to Brown and Vaiz preach about ‘laws of the Lord’ and whatnot.”

“Huh?” Shinasi paused to think. They didn’t have any laws, not in Mount Curry at the least, now that he thought about it. “Maybe I should ask the old man to begin prosecuting criminals who break and enter. Ahem,” He realized only now that he had been sent off track “legality besides, what were you doing in my house?

“I was just checking to see if the house was struc… What was that word? Struc-… struk-chu-a-lee safe.” Ayomide took a peek back at the house with a hint of pride. “The walls were filled to the brim with water. You’d be drowning in your sleep if I didn’t dry its insides.”

“Thank you, for not letting me drown.” Shinasi wished that he had the convenient abilities of a magic hairdryer. He wanted to give a compliment to Ayomide, but he couldn’t find one that wasn’t banal, ingenuine, or embarrassing to say out loud (most of them were in the third category). In the end Shinasi went with something simple that might not even be classified as a compliment. “Must be tiring to go through each and every one of these.”

“It’s fine. I only inspected yours, our guard needs to have a good sleep after all.” Ayomide smiled ever so slightly. “Can’t have stray adventurers coming up to catch fugitives now, can we?”

Shinasi replied by nervously laughing at the jab. “Yeah, having none of that would be nice, wouldn’t it?”

Ayomide couldn’t help but pause at the thought. “No adventurers to hunt us down. What a world that’d be.” She paused when she heard Brown calling out to a group of people. “Oh, I think it’s time for the council again.” The revolutionary catgirl took a few steps towards the cave, only to stop once she noticed that Shinasi wasn’t following her. “Aren’t you going to join?”

“No,” Shinasi yawned more to make his point. “I really need to go to sleep. Don’t have much to speak about there anyways; all this politics is way above my head. I’ll be going along with whatever it is that Mount Curry decides.”

“I see.” Ayomide approached Shinasi to give him a pat on the back and another smile, albeit this one was a bit bigger. There was an awkward moment of silence while Ayomide thought of what to say. “Good… night to you.” Her hand was still on Shinasi’s back, the awkward moment drawing longer and even more awkward by every second. Eventually Ayomide settled on not speaking too much, separating from Shinasi with a silent wave of the hand.

“Good night to you too.” replied Shinasi, meekly raising hands to wave. He had been paralyzed in the moment due to one obvious reason. She stood way too close; I could even hear her breathe! The awkward young man he was, Shinasi cursed himself for not having said something like “Do you have anything else to say?” or “So, do you like being this close to me?”. Damn this cattish woman and damn the coward whose interest lies in her!

It seemed that Ayomide was skilled in casting spells of the mundane variety, at least on Shinasi. Or, all the more likely, Shinasi’s magic resistance was too low (which was quite the problem for a tank like him).

I should really go to sleep. Sleep makes everything better. Having figured out the secret for happiness, sleep, Shinasi entered the mud hut to find another surprise: On the floor was not straw, the current standard of bedding in Mount Curry and in most of Gemeinplatz, but a bear pelt laid on top of straw, which was quite the luxury. Thinking about it, I haven’t seen any man-bears in a while; we should’ve spotted plenty in Mount Curry. Their fur could be quite useful if we could.

His thoughts on the man-bear ecosystem aside, Shinasi wasn’t unhappy to receive some extra bedding. What had gotten him, as Brown would say with his fancy and big words, discombobulated was who this pelt might belong to: Ayomide had been wearing the waistcoat-and-pants combination since summer had arrived with a striking lack of bear pelt. He turned to the door, intending to ask Ayomide whether sleeping on her clothes was okay, before he realized that the one who left this little (or large, considering how bear pelts usually are) gift was Ayomide herself. One usually didn’t have to ask the giver of a present whether it was okay to use said present.

No use thinking much about it now. Shinasi was too tired to be flustered; he was tired enough to fall like freshly cut timber face-first on to the bed. Huh, what’s this smell? It’s kind of familiar. He didn’t have to think much to realize that he had heard the same pleasant smell a moment ago when Ayomide had been so close to her. It felt like she was right next to him.

…damn this cattish woman and damn the coward whose interest lies in her! Once more Shinasi thought the same thing. He eventually drifted into another world, to the land of dreams which awaits all those who heed the call of sleep. Tonight’s sleep was, compared some of the more luxury accommodations Shinasi had acquired during times of financial luck, the most pleasant that had experienced.