After returning to the capital, we collected our belongings from the mansion.
Earlier we paid a visit to the palace, but as I thought, Sain and the others had already left here.
Besides, I was in a hurry to get to Grayfield.
I repressed my impatience and put only what I needed in my backpack.
I intend to come back here again soon.
I have not used the mansion provided by the Queen to my satisfaction.
Well, if I make it back, that is.
Frau and Kaede were waiting for me at the entrance.
"I would have liked to have relaxed here a bit more."
"Don't complain, Master has something to do."
"You talk like you don't care, but your tail gives you away."
"Don't look at my tail! I'm just so happy I don't have the strength to wag it!"
Kaede hurries to hide her tail.
True, it seems less energetic than usual.
I know how much they wanted to spend some more time here.
After all, I feel the same way.
"I feel bad for you two. If you want to stay, that's fine, you can stay."
"You've gotta be kidding! Frau is your slave! I'll follow you even if you're mad at me!"
"I will go wherever my master goes. I will always be by your side."
I feel a mixture of sorrow and joy.
I am very lucky to have met these girls.
I just want to get this over with and come back here with them as soon as possible.
When I left the mansion, members of The flaming axe gang were waiting.
There was also Baron Scotchell, his granddaughter, and the prince.
"Were you going to leave without saying goodbye?"
"The flaming axe gang and the Manyu Brigade are like brothers."
"Exactly, nya. Doing something like that is pretty unfair, nya."
"I shared my sake with you, you can't just do this."
"You're always welcome here. Let's talk about the ruins when you get back, okay?"
"I will never forget everything you all did for me. I wish you all the best on your journey."
"I could not award you a medal, but I swear to you that I will ensure that the name of the Manyu Brigade be engraved in the history of our country."
My tear glands almost loosened at the farewell to the people I had met in this city.
Kaede grabbed my arm and smiled.
That was enough to convey what I wanted to say.
Yes, we will definitely come back here.
It is a promise.
We leave the capital of Grigit and cross the mountains.
Shortly thereafter we were able to reach Grayfield.
Grayfield is a country with a lot of history related to battlefields.
The reason is that it is on the border with the dark realm, which is ruled by the demon race.
On the other hand, it is also a country focused on tourism.
There are numerous ruins, local specialties, symbolic buildings, relics of past heroes, etc.
In fact, this country is a treasure trove of tourist attractions.
"So you plan to go deep into the country without stopping in the capital?"
I nodded in response to Kaede's question.
Sain and the others should be there.
I want to see them as soon as possible.
Panda, with Frau on his back, spins in front of me.
"Hey, you're making me dizzy. You're doing it on purpose."
"There's no point in playing dumb - Frau knows exactly what you're doing!"
Hahaha, watching Frau and Panda is a good distraction.
I try to be serious, but it's impossible with the two of them.
Their nonsense saves me from my dark thoughts.
"Is that even a small town?"
"I don't know."
We can see a small group of buildings at the end of the road across the meadow.
We are going to stay there today.
A large carriage carries a cage in the back in the opposite direction.
The carriage passed by us.
In the cage there were a lot of people dressed in dirty rags watching us.
"Yes... They're transporting slaves."
There are two types of slaves.
Those that have committed crimes, and those that are used as merchandise.
Basically, criminals do not flow into the general market. They are forced to go to the mines and work.
And the other kind is the case of people who are in need of money and sell their family members.
In fact, this is the most common.
But in reality, there is a third type.
It's an open secret; there are ways to buy and sell kidnapped people behind the scenes.
Although every country is cracking down on this, it is only a façade.
The nobles' auctions are proof of this.
"Slaves nowadays are very different."
In the departing carriage, Soara's figure could be seen.
Stop that carriage!
"This kind of deal is impossible. You have to go to a slave market first."
"I'll give you 10 million."
Negotiations have been concluded.
The slave trader immediately accepted my offer.
He opened the cage and Soara came out of it handcuffed.
She is not the same since I left; she now wears rags and her once beautiful hair has become dirty.
For a moment, I couldn't believe it was Soara.
"Yes, it 's me."
"What a coincidence... To see you here again..."
I find it hard to look directly at her, knowing that I had known her for many years, and now she looks like this.
Crank crank The carriage began to move.
Soara did not receive a master-slave contract because she wasn't bought at a slave market.
However, she has a collar around her neck.
"Sorry for this next part."
"I am your slave. Do with me as you will."
I poured a bottle of liquid over her head.
Soara's body glowed a vague pink color.
No doubt about it. She has been brainwashed too.
I wiped the liquid with a towel, and removed the handcuffs with a wire.
"How did you become a slave...?"
"I was abandoned by Sain. He met with a high-ranking priest, and sold me to him, saying I was no longer of any use to him."
He dared to sell Soara, his childhood friend?
I knelt at the same time as I was stunned.
I was having a hard time processing reality.
"Master! Keep calm!"
"Get a grip! You can't keep running away from reality!"
Kaede hugs me and uses healing vibrations on me.
At the same time, Frau slaps me in the face several times.
Frau, I'm glad you're trying to help me, but stop.
I appreciate the way you care about me.
If I were alone, I would have lost my mind by now.
I would have been swallowed by anger and sadness.
I managed to get up and grabbed Soara by the arm.
"Come with me."
"I am no longer worth anything. Do what you want with me until you are satisfied."
I gritted my teeth as hard as I could to keep the tears from flowing.
I was being strong as I tugged desperately at her hand.
I rented a room at the city inn and put Soara to bed.
Perhaps she had worked too hard when she got here, as her body was broken.
Fortunately, she didn't have any life-threatening injuries like Nei, so I just gave her a potion and she regained all her beauty.
Well, she's still a little dirty.
"Toru is still as gentle as ever."
"But you've helped me a lot."
Even as she said this, Soara's eyes were dark.
I am beginning to doubt that she can be freed from the brainwashing.
Will she really be able to stand it?
Nei said that Soara received more mistreatment than she did.
I'm not sure what I should do.
I felt someone's hand on my shoulder.
It was Kaede's warm hand.
It was as if she was telling me; whatever happens, I will be here for you.
It's like I can feel her heart.
"Sain has brainwashed you."
"......Is that so? I've had a vague feeling about that."
She had the same reaction as Nei.
It seems that she was also uncomfortable.
I took the potion I used on Nei to rid her of her spell out of my pocket.
"With this you will be able to break the brainwashing spell. I won't force you to take it, it's up to you if you accept it."
"Gulp, gulp, gulp."
She grabbed the bottle quickly, roughly popped open the cap and downed it in one gulp.
Soara wiped her mouth with her sleeve, "Buh-hah."
"Ugh!? aga! ??"
"Are you okay!"
I held her head and layed it to the side.
The same thing is happening as with Nei.
I Look to Kaede and Frau as a signal to act quickly.
But Soara got out of bed, stood up and threw the bottle out the window.
The glass shattered and I heard screams from outside the window.
"Uaaaaaaagh!!! I can't believe I was fooled by this stupid kid!"
I did not expect this.
Her eyes glared at me.
It's like she wants to kill me.
Soara, could it be that you have been hiding your true nature all along?