The black market is a secret place for aristocrats and others of wealth alike, run by the Red Mouse Family, one of the three most powerful families inhabiting the ruins.
The place is cleverly hidden and quite difficult to get to without a guide.
"The 'black market' is divided into three sections: the first level which bears the same name and can be entered by anyone, the 'backdoor market' which can only be accessed by some of the wealthier people, and finally the 'Dark market', which is the deepest and most dangerous."
"What kind of people go to the dark market?"
"Those who are sick in the head. You can find drugs, torture devices, organs and anything else you can think of. I want to make it clear that my family is not involved in these things, in fact, we want to put an end to this kind of operation."
We walk down several flights of stairs down a narrow passageway.
The person who is leading us is a member of the Red Mouse family. His name is Ash, and he holds a high position in this organization.
"But even in the backdoor market, dangerous things are sold, right?"
"It's not as comparable. As much as they're scum, the nastiest things they can sell are organs and slaves. Plus, they have some ethics, like if you're someone who mistreats slaves, they can go so far as to snatch them up."
"Hmm, so those involved in the dark market are worse than scum."
"Yeah. Thanks to that, I get a lot of looks of contempt and intimidation on the floors above, which is really annoying."
At the end of the stairs was the fourth floor.
On this floor is the Red Mouse family's headquarters.
At what appears to be the entrance, a group of drab-looking men gather around a bonfire.
They straighten their backs when they see Ash.
"Has our guest arrived?
"No, my lord."
"All right, keep working."
We re-enter the narrow passageway.
"Who are those men?"
"They are my soldiers. Unlike upstairs, there's a lot of trouble down here and you never know when other families might attack. Better to be safe than sorry."
At the end of the hallway, we came upon a very spacious area.
It was surprisingly clean, however, with many tidy stores and houses.
Still, if you looked down the alleys, you'd see litter strewn about and drunks asleep with bottles in hand.
"Welcome to the Red Mouse estate- don't you think it's magnificent?"
At the end of the main street was a large mansion, an emblem the shape of a red mouse engraved on its huge door.
Perhaps their chief is a tribe of mice?
"The dark market is this way, follow me."
Ash headed down a narrow alley and knocked on the metal door of a building.
An eye slit opened and a sharp pair of eyes appeared.
"What do you think of breasts?"
"It's not how big they are that counts, it's how they feel."
The door opened after that answer. The person behind was a man from the rabbit tribe with an intimidating appearance.
Without saying a word, Ash led us through the door and into the back.
"What was that?"
"The password. We can't let just anyone in, so it's used as a bit of a safeguard."
They're very cautious.
The goods and people gathered here must be too bad to be seen.
Going down a long flight of stairs, we came to a hallway separated by a wire fence.
On the other side of the wire fence was a member of the organization, guarding the closed gate.
"Let him through. He's a guest."
The barbed wire gate swung open. Beyond it was a wooden gate that appeared to be of better quality. We went through it and into the dark market compound.
"Good, we've arrived. Now that I have shown you the way, you are free to bargain with the merchants here, or search for whatever you're looking for. The organization will not intervene in matters between the merchants and customers. However, if you have any problems, you can address them to us, but we can only intervene once. After that, you're on your own."
"Are you going somewhere?"
"I'm a busy man, I have a lot of work to do."
Ash waved his hands and walked away.
"There's so much stuff here! This is going to be fun!"
Frau stood above Panda and gazed at the stores that lined the aisle with sparkles in her eyes.
The area itself didn't seem to be that big, but it was packed with people and items.
However, there are stranger items than the ones on the upper floors, and the people you come across are dressed to the nines.
I stopped at a random store and spoke to the owner.
"Orc fluids. It's a good energy tonic."
"The secret diary of a queen from two generations ago."
"A copy of the book describing the security measures for the country's weapons vault."
"How does something like this even exist?"
Now I understand why this is a dangerous place. You find things that if found on the l surface, would generate chaos among the crowd.
"Master, there's an unusual piece of kitchenware there."
"Let's see it."
"Frau will take a look on her own. Give me some money."
After receiving the leather bag, Frau flew off with Panda toward the back of the store.
I feel like she just wants to go shopping.
I hope she didn't forget that we came here to gather information.
"...Roswell? The former demon king?"
"Do you know where he is?"
The plump nobleman we approached answered.
Behind him was a beautiful elven slave boy, but he dared not let him out of his sight.
"He must be in the Great Forest to the west. Ask the fairies, they will tell you."
"Are there fairies here too?"
"Yes, there are fairies here too. Try going there."
The nobleman pointed to a woman who only looked human and who ran a store.
For a moment I thought he was fooling me, but when the woman turned her back, a set of fairy wings came out.
I wasn't expecting this.
She's probably a High Fae like Frau.
I didn't know fairies could hide their wings.
"Do any of these names ring a bell?
He looked at the paper I gave him and quickly handed it back to me.
At least we got some information out of it.
It was the right decision to come here after all.
Kaede and I headed to the tent with the fairy.
"Hello, I have some questions I hope you can answer."
"That depends, you'll have to pay depending on the subject."
She was a woman with straight blonde hair.
Her pretty frilly outfit was designed to expose her back so she could easily pull out her wings.
She licked her lips as she watched me, eyes full of pleasure.
"Master, I'll ask the questions."
Kaede stood in the middle between her and me.
Judging by the way the fur on her tail is standing on end, she seems to be wary of the merchant.
"I'd like to ask you some questions about the former demon king Roswell."
"Tch, how boring. It's been a long time since I've met someone I like, so I'd rather talk to him."
"...What do you mean by 'talk'?"
"Oh, I don't know. A simple 'negotiation' between a man and a woman."
Kaede's face turned too red. Tears welled up in her eyes and she covered her face with her hands.
Her tail, however, was wagging vigorously. Perhaps something was unsettling her.
"I'm sorry, please wait a moment!"
Kaede stepped outside the tent, took out a cloth and sniffed it.
With a look of ecstasy, she scrunched up her face and returned.
Hmm, that cloth looks familiar...
"Let's keep talking."
"Hey, that cloth is--"
"Where can we find Roswell?"
He interrupted the question about the cloth and pushed the woman to answer her questions.
"I know where he is, but it won't be free."
She knew better than to just talk.
"He's not that hard to find. If you go to the country of Ainowa, which is where we live, you'll find Roswell easily."
"So Ainowa, huh? Thanks for the information."
"Well, you'll probably find it in a second. After all, it's... oops, I shouldn't say anymore. You'll find out when you get there."
I paid the woman for the information.
Oh right, I should ask her about my companions. I handed her the list of names.
"I don't know them. By the way, are you adventurers?"
"Yes, we are a party called the Manyu Brigade."
"That rings a bell. I'm pretty sure you're that new party that's been active in the west. But you don't look like the rumors describe you."
Wait a minute, west?
We're coming from the east.
Is someone impersonating us?
"The only thing I know about it is that it's a party of three incredibly strong women. But it looks like there are some fakes out there trying to pass themselves off as real ones."
"Master, those three..."
I nodded my head.
"Indeed. Looks like the world is such a big place that there are three other people out there who came up with the same name we did."
"Master?! No! Someone is taking it upon themselves to spread our name!"
"Why would they do that?"
"I think they're doing it hoping to draw our attention. Those three could be some of the girls."
Oh, I see.
I hadn't thought of that possibility.
If we follow the rumors of this other Manyu Brigade, maybe we can be reunited with our missing friends.
At the very least it's possible, right?
"I finally found them!"
We hear Frau's voice approaching in the distance.
Upon closer look, I saw that she was carrying a bag with her.
And it's all puffy.
"Look at this, I've bought everything that looked interesting! And, uh, I've spent all the money you gave me more, My Lord."
You spent five million in just one hour?
When I looked inside, I found it was full of books, skulls, plants I've never seen and other junk.
Is there any use for this?
"Yata! I'll go again, again!"
Frau and Panda took some more money and flew away.
I found a dirty little bottle in the bag with a price tag of 500,000, and became terribly anxious.
What kind of weird stuff is that girl buying?