Chapter 42:

Chapter XL – Men in the midst of troubles.

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

Dungeons. A stable in RPGs ever since the aptly named Dungeons & I-Don’t-Want-the-Pinkertons-Coming-After-Me-So-I-Won’t-Infringe-On-Copyright (which, funnily enough, the [in]famous Pinkertons were established 9 years before old John Brown got isekai’d; they’d later act as personal bodyguards for Abraham Lincoln and conduct acts of espionage against the Confederates). Places of endless loot, confusing map layouts, and grindy enemies that refuse to die which makes one feels like they’re crawling in the hellish dungeon (hence why it is called a ‘dungeon crawl’, or so this humble author thinks).

Of course, in a land like Gemeinplatz, dungeons are also aplenty. Scattered around convenient spots on the map, the humble adventurer may be found in their natural habitat loitering around these places. These shrines of loot beckon these adventurers, as if a mermaid singing a sweet song packed into the form of an underground structure, and many lose their lives (in terms of time wasted and actual lives lost, but mostly wasted time) in ‘the grind’ while looking for that one legendary drop that’ll grant them salvation from the endless monotony of running the same dungeon over and over again.

Thus Shinasi was here, having been called upon the Minor Curry Dungeon and her equally minor loot, in front of the entrance with the oddest party he had ever seen. Brown, Ayomide, Shinasi, it was quite the hodgepodge of names who were all united in curiosity. As for the entrance itself, contrary to the remarkable nature of the names present in front of it, it was quite unremarkable. It was a gate of stone, looking ancient while not having somehow crumbled into dust,

One noticeable detail was that some of the stones of the dungeon had rusted, twisted bars of metal sticking out from them, with little indentations on them that looked like some sort of fashionable avant-garde pattern. Brown was quite interested in this odd metal, and he tried to break it off to no avail. The metal was quite strong, even in its rusted form. Brown turned to Shinasi for help “What is this? Do you have any idea, young man?”

“It’s what the fellows back at the Adventurer’s Guild would call ‘dungeonium’.” Shinasi did his best to grab some for himself, but he too failed to break the metal out from the stone. “It’s quite the tough thing, as you can see. Apparently, some smiths in the capital take these to forge blades from them, though I have no idea you’d even begin melting this down.” He grabbed onto the metal with even more force, to show how tough it was as it budged not.

While the men were busy, Ayomide had gotten quite curious after having seen the rusted metal. If she could heal people, could she ‘heal’ metal as well? It was quite the curious question, so she took hand of a bar. She paused to think of a spell name that might work. In the end Ayomide decided to go with a simple “[Derust]!”, a new word that she had invented at this moment. To her surprise, the small area of the metal her hands touched shed its rust off and from under it a shiny gray metal became visible. The catgirl wizard quickly dusted off the shed rust from her hands, and proudly displayed her work to her party members.

A metal being rid of its dust was a whole lot less miraculous than having his limb be regrown, so Brown wasn’t too surprised by the magic act itself. “Interesting.” Brown caressed the newly cleaned bit of the metal, feeling its cold touch. “This feels just like iron, or steel.”

“Steel?” Shinasi raised his brow. “Why would they put something as precious as steel in the walls?” To him, this sounded like putting gold in the walls: a ridiculous proposition.

Brown didn’t know either; he shook his head to signal his ignorance in the realm of such odd construction techniques. He had died a few decades before reinforced concrete, which includes sticking bars of steel into concrete to make structures more tensile, had become widespread in the United States thanks to the experiments of his abolitionist comrade (and former patron) Thaddeus Hyatt (his 1877 report was, not-so-laconically, titled ‘An Account of Some Experiments with Portland-Cement-Concrete Combined with Iron as a Building Material, with Reference to Economy of Metal in Construction and for Security against Fire in the Making of Roofs, Floors, and Walking Surfaces’, which is only a few words short of being as long as the average isekai title).

After having exposited more than enough about the history of reinforced concrete, let us return back to the ordinary adventures of John Brown and the abolitionist catgirl wizard Ayomide.

Being unable to do anything with the odd bits of dungeonium, the party was about to enter the dungeon when they heard foreign screams, one male other female, coming from inside.

“Tasukete! Āa!”

“Adohe shelmiy Boczhe, mönsöé!”

Whatever they were screaming about, the people inside the dungeon didn’t seem to be having fun judging from the volume and desperation of their shrieks. Brown immediately jumped into the dark depths of the dungeon, only to be stopped by the dark depths of the dungeon which he couldn’t see.

“Old man! Wait a sec!” Ayomide and Shinasi came running after him. First, there was darkness. “You do know that sunlight doesn’t reach underground, right? What was the word… Right! [Luminate]!” Then Ayomide let there be light, in the form of a dimly glowing orb in her hand. The dull grey walls of the dungeon were barely visible in the dim light, but Ayomide couldn’t bother lest she spend all her magic shining like a lighthouse.

“We and I have no time for a comeback, young lady, let us proceed and find the source of the screams!” Brown began running again, at an impressive speed for his age. Having (probably innocent) people die wasn’t exactly a thing that he liked. Running through the corridor they had to dodge a myriad of things: bones, slime, other discarded items… In such a minor dungeon, there weren’t any enemies looking to murder them during their brisk jog. What would have been there had most likely been pulverized by the recent visit of a novice group, judging from all the unharvested slime that they had left behind. Following a couple more screams a bit deeper into the damp and dark dungeon, the group found their targets struggling with the familiar figure of a slime.

“Kowai! Suraimu kowai!” The male voice belonged to a bloke who had huddled into the corner into a fetal position while crying and quaking in fear. From her familiarity with customers in the maid café, Ayomide was able to guess that the language spoken by him was that of the otherworldly land of Nehoun from Örf / Earth.

Thankfully, for the guy crying in the corner, there seemed to be someone a bit braver than him. “Boczhe, adoh ezoc! Eizé zot?!” Instead of the desperate crying done by the other otherworlder, her cries were more ones of confusion and anger. She was furiously beating the slime with an overly thick book, one that had letters on its cover not recognizable to anyone in Brown’s party. However, mostly thanks to the blue gambeson she wore, she didn’t look too alien in Gemeinplatz. Her long and curly golden hair, which was actually just cheap wig covering her actual hair, bobbed up and down along with her tiny spectacles as she continuously leaned forward to beat the monster into a fine pulp. Due to slimes being slimy creatures, her method of bludgeoning the slime failed to damage it much, only serving to stutter the creature.

The bespectacled woman was saved by Ayomide, who carefully sent a spear flying using wind magic to maneuver the spear to make sure that her spear wouldn’t end up lodged in the larger target. “Pop” went the slime, and suddenly there was quiet for there were no more things to scream and shout about.

The woman who had been beating the slime shook her boots in an attempt to fling the slime off of it while the man in the corner slowly got off after having sufficiently calmed down. He was a twenty-something, with a protagonistly face which needed no further description except that he had a shadow of facial hair plastered on his face: an unusual trait for isekai protagonists to have facial hair at all.

Brown was intrigued by an entirely different thing, his 19th-century self was surprised to see that the Eastern man in front of him wore a Western suit and tie. He had only come face to face with Jacob, so he hadn’t exactly gotten a chance to see any other otherworlders which might dispel his conceptions of “the Orient”. Seeing that the man in front of him was too shook to start conversation, Brown had to break the ice. “Good sir, might I have your name? My name is Isaac Smith.” Ayomide stared daggers at the new otherworlders, while Shinasi curiously watched the ones they had unexpectedly encountered.

“Ee?!” The man in front of Brown paused when he heard the speech. “How- How can I understand you?” he replied, clearly surprised at his own ability to understand the language of Gemeinplatz. He quickly switched gears back to not be discourteous. “Thanks for your help, Mister Smith. I am Watanabe Haruto, glad to meet you.” An awkward exchange commenced between them as Watanabe courteously bowed down while Brown extended his hand for a handshake. In the end Watanabe stopped bowing to shake Brown’s hand.

Suddenly, the slime-beating woman interjected. “…Wait, I can understand them too. How the-” She stopped herself from saying something utterly uncouth. She proceeded the put her hand above her heart and do a slight curtsy, though unlike Watanabe she had decided to extend her gratitude towards the one who threw the spear. “Thank you for your assistance, madame. I’d be Doctor Raban Rabanowicz Rabanow of Kiyelm, but you can just call me Doctor Rabanowicz…?” Her voice faded when she noticed something odd that sat on top of Ayomide.

“Hm?” Watanabe’s gaze shifted, after having realized he had thanked the wrong person. “Arere?!” Excitement was added to his voice when he noticed the same thing that Rabanowicz had noticed. “Cat ears!”

“…And a tail. How utterly queer.” Rabanowicz adjusted her spectacles, clearly being enamored by this new discovery.

“Oh, for…” Ayomide groaned. She had to go through the same procedure with every otherworlder; she did wonder as to how they had all managed to not see a catgirl for all their life. “Yes, yes, I have ears and a tail. My name is Ayomide, no you cannot touch them. Can we skip this please?”

“Sorry.” Watanabe retreated to a safe distance while Rabanowicz kept peeking curiously towards Ayomide. “So, would ye happen to know where we currently are?”

“The Minor Curry Dungeon.” Shinasi was the only one who actually remembered the name of the dungeon. “In Gemeinplatz” he added to make sure that their otherworlder guests wouldn’t be too confused.

“Ge… Gema’inpuradzu?” Watanabe scanned the area around him just to be even more sure. “I guess we’re not in Cabbagelandetia anymore. Should’ve understood from the sudden appearance of slimes and catgirls…” He suddenly cheered; his hands held right up to the sky. “Oh, finally I get to get out of that low fantasy snore-world into something that looks like proper high fantasy!”

Brown, Ayomide and Shinasi looked at Rabanowicz, as if they expected an answer for her partner’s odd words. “I know not what he speaks of.” She adjusted her spectacles once more, its tiny frame kept constantly doing its best to fall of from her nose. “He is under a terrible affliction of the mind under which he thinks of himself as being part of something called an ‘isékai’.”

Thus, the abolitionists had been introduced to an errant pair of otherworlders.

Steward McOy