Chapter 49:

Chapter XLVII – Speak before her carefully and be inconspicuous.

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

Brown wasn’t a stranger to conducting shady business; the Beecher’s Bibles didn’t ship themselves. The laws of men, like tariffs, were below the laws of the Lord, like abolition. Judging from all the maps in the room, and what had prompted Shinasi to bring him here, Brown had a guess as to what this place might be. “Is this something like a smuggler’s den?”

“No, we’re a charity taking care of stray kittens. We sometimes invite Shinasi to hold fundraiser parties.” answered the woman. This obviously sarcastic remark, delivered in such a dry manner that sucked all the humor out of it, prompted yet another moment of awkward silence. The woman took her shoes off the table and leaned in to have a closer look at her clients. “Of course this is a smuggling den! Why are you people here if you don’t even know that? Bloody hell…” She took hold of a quill and a clean sheet of paper to write on while adding on more complaints under her breath. “So, what do you need? We’ve got it all as long as you have the coin, especially booze. A new shipment just came in from Ancoire, and we’re having a flash sale.” Ayda had quickly calmed down and assumed the demeanor of a good businesswoman.

Shinasi was about to inquire about the booze, but Brown quickly interrupted him before he could throw away their money. “We’re looking not for luxury, but for basic items. Wool, cloth, any good textiles you might have.”

The woman began quickly jotted down some words on to her paper. “I see, been a while since we’ve had merchants coming around to visit us.” she said, not bothering to look up from the paper. The purpose of Brown’s request, or anything else didn’t interest her at all, the only thing that interested Ayda was one thing. “She extended her hand forward, with an open palm. “How much are we talking about?” Her hands were met with a great weight, the weight belonging to a sizable sack of coins. “Oh?” Ayda quickly opened the sack, the light reflecting off of the coins lighting her face. The businesswoman counted all the coins in a brisk pace, every libra lightening up her face. She bit on a few of them, put some on a scale, and even threw the coins on the table to listen them jingle and confirm that they were real. “Mister Brown, I think I’m beginning to like you.” Her respect for him had grown as large as the sack of money. She added a few numbers next to the items she had previously noted. “It’ll take a day… or two to fulfill your request.” She took out a small slip of paper, and wrote down a few things on it before handing it to Brown. “Do not lose this or let any filthy guards get their hands on this. I won’t be getting in trouble if that happens, but you will.” She extended her hand towards Brown, intending to seal the deal officially. “My agents will find you when the time is right. Do not leave Casamonu under any circumstances.”

Brown accepted Ayda’s offer of shaking hands. Her grip was tight, and the old man could hear his bones protest during their brief shake. He definitely disapproved of her uncouth tongue, and her general unchristian behavior, but Brown held his tongue for now. “I pray that our relationship proves to be fruitful Miss Ayda.”

Ayda smiled, her one eye on the money which had been left on her counter. “I feel that it has been more than fruitful already.” She opened the hatch back to the ground floor and put out the oil lamp. “Farewell now, it is better for us to not stay here for too long.” She led them out the room, and graciously opened the door out herself only to find another guest outside. “Oh?” It was someone wearing full plate armor, conspicuously painted full black. “Mister Kim, what a pleasure it is to see you once more.”

“My name is not that! You’re to call me Sir Schwarz von Limburg-Liechtenstein when I’m armored.” He tried to pass the door, but was blocked by Brown and co. Both parties shuffled around for a few seconds before they were able to find a suitable arrangement and pass by each other.

Shinasi looked back at the building with jealousy. “That guy must be rich with all that armor.” He’d have loved to be armored like an armadillo, alas, all he had was a shield which was the bare minimum for a tank.

“Eh, all you have to do is push him into a river. Or a swamp. Or use light magic right in his helmet so he goes blind, falls, and is unable to get up…” Ayomide listed a few more ways to brutally kill of an armored tank, which it didn’t please Shinasi to have so much vitriol thrown towards his class. “Heavier the armor, quicker the fall I’d say.”

Brown was leading them to back to the square, where he planned to fight accommodations for the night before planning anything further. “Hmm… I believe that could make quite the good analogy.” Brown loved a good analogy, especially if it was biblical. He marched onwards, his mind occupied with allegories and aphorisms.

28th of Summer, 5859
Libertycave, Mount Curry

The Devil doesn’t sleep, neither does Harriet Tubman in her quest to avert his machinations.

Brown going on a quest didn’t mean that the entirety of Libertycave had stopped working, on the contrary they were working harder than before thanks to their improved quality of life. Everyone had a mud hut for themselves, the ransomed tools certainly helped and Baha’s copperworkers invented novel solutions for anything that was missing. Like their newly made copper bowls, affectionately nicknamed the “Mark 1 bowl” or “M1”, which doubled as helmets when turned upside down. Or the new “spoonforknife”, which was a spoon, fork and a knife all-in-one utensil which eliminated the need to forge separate cutlery. It was a stubby little device, with a bowl (like a spoon), tines on aforementioned bowl (like a fork) and a sharp edge on the sides (like a knife). What’d be made impossible by byzantine system of guild-imposed regulations or the whip of an overseer had become possible under the free and fresh air of Mount Curry.

All that progress would be for naught however, if they weren’t marching on in a forward fashion in their quest for abolition. Compared to the more fire-and-brimstone Brown, Tubman was more the type to be more cautious and take things slowly. Not out of any lack of zealousness, she had more than enough of that and she approved of Brown’s actions, but more out of a desire to not be shot dead by the U.S. Marines while leading people to safety. A dead Tubman was a sleeping Tubman, and who’s to keep the Devil in check then?

Kyauta entered Tubman’s “office”, currently a small hut right outside the cave of Libertycave. “Miss Tubman, our team just returned from the farms to the north. Most of those seem to be populated by the peasantry.” Unlike what one might expect from an office, there was no paper or ink to be found, only a copy of the map Brown had found in the Algernon estate. Tubman was illiterate, so was the rest of her men, not that she needed letters to do her job. What was she going to do, send a strongly worded letter to the Emperor and ask him kindly to stop enslaving her people?

“Nothing interesting.” She crossed off some of the locations to the north on the map with a piece of charcoal. “Those slavers seem to be mostly working sugar beets and tobacco.” It made sense for the slaves to be working cash crops. Less cash (or no cash) paid to workers meant more cash for the boss, the only caveat being that this meant there’d be abolitionists in the local area dying to meet you. What’s worse was, no matter how hot they were, hot singles in your local area couldn’t burn down your house; abolitionists in your local area could and would.

“Then, should we go about like we did in Azdavay?” Kyauta seemed more than ready for action. Her knife was always strapped to her belt, and she never took off the gambeson. The Lord liked those who were vigilant, or so she had heard from Tubman.

“No, no. It’s not time yet for another full-on uprising Miss Kyauta. Let our oppressors think that they’re safe.” She rose up from her chair, her old bones creaking under the pressure. She took her staff, one that was mainly used as a cane and an oratory tool. “I hear the voice of the Lord last night, in all His endless glory.”

“What’d that be, Miss Tubman?” Kyauta approached closer to the old abolitionist to hear her more clearly. Her visions hadn’t failed them back in Azdavay, or when Tubman first found Kyauta, so her trust was utmost.

“He told me that we should not grow compliant, that our achievements are great but we are growing too proud.” She looked out from the hut, to the small village that had been formed. Everything looked fine, for now. “That we were but a small flock, a flock remaining still while wolves circle in around us. Idleness, sloth, it is a great sin, and the Lord won’t have it!” She slammed the ground with her cane fiercely. It was surprising how much life the old woman had in her. “The Lord told me, that we must make His flock larger and our grazing grounds wider!”

“Erm…” Kyauta wasn’t sure what to think. She honestly hoped that God, in His infinite wisdom, would be less cryptic especially to someone who didn’t know a lot about shepherds. She had been the personal bodyguard of a noble way back home before she was captured and sold into slavery, and her life had involved combat even after that. Pastoral life was as much of a stranger to Kyauta as freedom was.

Tubman seemed raring to go; it was as if she had suddenly gotten thirty years younger. Her staff shook the earth with her every step, signaling to the world that Harriet Tubman was arriving in all her glory. “Come, let us go. We must do the work that our Lord has given us.”