A way to be independent from Mark.
I thought of various ways, but there was only the use of force as the possibility.
Why is it?
I will list the ways to become independent for the sake of explaining it.
The first one was the calmest method.
I will have to work my way to be a full-fledged slave trader by perseverance.
This was impossible.
Because Mark doesn’t have any intention to let me become independent at all.
He only considers me as “Cheap labor” one way or another.
It would be disadvantageous for Mark to lose me as cheap labor.
“I will only recognize you if you work hard, since even I work hard myself.”
That was Mark bragging while drinking alcohol, there wasn’t at ounce of credibility there.
Because when I activated my Appraisal Skill, Mark’s statement was branded as a [Lie].
So Mark intends to keep me until I die.
I totally knew it just by the way he treats me everyday. I was made to work like a maid by taking care of the cleaning, making the meal of the slaves and disposing of the excrements.
In a way, I was the slave of the slaves.
Well, if it just the work only, I might be able to endure it.
However, the violence was unbearable.
When Mark was not in a good mood, I was the one being beaten to release his stress.
It might be because a hierarchy was established.
That guy, he liked to act as if he was at the top of the hierarchy.
Drunk with violence, his eyes sometimes became bloodshot.
It was not hard to see that he was getting more aggressive.
Or maybe he is verifying something.
To verify that there was a difference of power, that even if I fight back I still can’t win against him.
It was more vexing to have such timidity, He had this need to check everything.
Was it necessary to bully me each and every time?
His selfishness had gone too far.
His selfishness was terrible, but the difference in physique was troublesome.
My body had an appearance of a complete 15 year old boy, but Mark was a big man.
One time, I was beaten so hard that the pain and nausea hasn’t subsided.
I still had stomach cramps followed by a shivering fit.
I vaguely remembered when I broke my bone in my previous life and suffered from nausea and chills as a result.
Acute pain ran through the pit of my stomach and because of the spasm of the diaphragm, it was hard to breath.
I had thought I would die. I was prepared for death.
But that shithead was just laughing.
I didn’t want to die while being trampled upon.
He looked like he was giving me a warning, I abhor that kind of behaviour that tries to justify his conduct.
Furthermore, it was a problem that Mark won’t tell me the necessary knowledge as a slave trader.
All those necessary procedures, such as signing a contract, was hiddenly performed inside a closed tent of the store owner.
He seemed to be afraid of me learning all of the knowledge.
It was often said that a monk before a gate will chant the sutra even before he learned it.
I may be able to learn if there was a small room I can use.
However this place was everything.
The vulgar smile of Mark came to my mind.
You probably like working until you die. Mark was unaware that I said those words.
It was revolting.
It was just unreliable to make an effort to steadily rise to the top.
There was no choice but to consider other methods.
The second method, I will have to change the contract without Mark knowing.
It was just recently that I knew the existence of the contract.
Because Mark concealed from me the knowledge of becoming a slave trader.
It was only by my own efforts that I was able to successfully obtain that information.
A contract was a pledge between the slave and Mark’s agreement.
The slave contract will only be established if there was both the engraved seal from the slave seal engraver and a signature in the slave contract.
The special tattoo that was used as the engraved slave seal, was also used as the signature for the contract.
It will become a typical magic contract by doing that.
In doing so, the contract will connect the name of the slave master to the slave.
If the name recorded on the contract was wrong, then that contract was meaningless.
The effect of the contract was to tie the slave’s soul together with the master under the right name.
In other words, Mark will lose the effect as the master when the name on the contract will be overwritten.
I will overwrite the name on the contract if possible.
I am betting my last glimmer of hope on this.
The contract was probably in the private tent of Mark.
I was given strict orders by Mark to not enter that tent.
It would only mean something really important was hidden in that tent.
Besides when a visitors comes.
Mark would say “This way please.” and enter the tent.
A contract was important to a slave trader after their lives.
Therefore contract management becomes the most important thing to the slave trader.
Mark was very cautious.
Because he is the type of person to keep valuables close to him.
I was really certain that the contract was inside the tent based on his behavior.
(Now then, is it really essential to enter the tent? But.)
I thought about how to enter the tent without being found out.
I invoked it in my head.
Magic was usable even if I don’t verbally chant it. That was basic knowledge in the game of [Fantasy Tale].
MP consumption efficiency will of course be higher if I verbally chant it.
But the Appraisal Skill consumes little MP to begin with.
So it was important that I was silent so that Mark will not find it out.
Name: Toshiki Mitsuji Age: 15 Years Old Level: 6 HP: 20 MP: 7 Strength: 5 Agility: 7 Magic Power: 4 Endurance: 6 Unique Blessing: Blessing of the God of Wealth Unique Skill: Appraisal Option Special Skill: Appraisal Lv. 10
There was an interesting unique skill there, Appraisal Option.
I haven’t heard Appraisal Option as a skill name until now. I had never seen it in [Fantasy Tale].
I immediately understood Appraisal Option when I checked the Status Screen.
Unique Skill: Appraisal Option Available option settings when using Appraisal Skill. Display Name: ON Display Age: ON Display Lv: ON Display Status Numerical Values: ON Display Blessing/Skill: ON Display Credibility: ON Display Psychological Graph: ON Advanced Search: ON Other Personal Option: NONE
I see, it looked like a config screen.
It seems I can customize my Appraisal Skill by setting the options to either ON or OFF.
Now then, what can I do here now that I have fully grasped the potential of the Appraisal Skill?
Appraisal Skill was my only weapon.
This will split my future into two paths depending on how I use it.
I came up with the following plan to use this.
First, will the Appraisal Skill work in the dark?
It worked based on the results when I used it previously.
I will know where I am even if I can’t see anything in the dark because of the Appraisal Popup.
Even if the inside of the tent was dim, at noon, or I can’t see the tent anymore because it was already nighttime, I still know where the slaves are because of the Appraisal Popup.
In other words, I will be able to notice an enemy attack me during the night from afar with the help of the Appraisal Skill.
Without a doubt, it was so useful that I was thinking it may be possible for me to be an Adventurer.
Second, will I be able to know the origin and raw material of an item by appraising it?
It was also possible based on the results.
I used the robe which I’m wearing right now to test it.
When I used the Advanced Search of Appraisal Skill, it showed [Place of Origin: Eastern Kingdom, Oriental Area] and [Raw Material: Potato Hemp].
If I know the raw material and the origin of the material, I would be very profitable when doing trading or peddling.
Perhaps it was possible for me to be a merchant. I considered being one.
So, that was the only 2 scenarios I came up with.
I only thought up of a plan to use the advantage of the Appraisal Skill by being an Adventurer or a Merchant.
But both of them are my last resort.
I will consider those as my fall back plan if I can’t get ahold of the contract.
The essential thing wasn’t there.
It was important that I’m able to sense in the dark and able to inspect raw materials.
(I shall change everything tonight.)
I chuckled in my mind.
To be frank, this man called Mark was careless.
Though he should have made me into a slave but he didn’t.
(No, it was probably because the blessing of the God of Wealth)
I thought about it and saw my own status [Unique Blessing: Blessing of the God of Wealth].
Unique Blessing: Blessing of the God of Wealth Blessing of Kuvera, the God of Wealth. Born with the support of the Business Talent. Negotiation Technique Growth + Will not be affected by contracts with no agreement.
Mark might have wanted to make me a slave but wasn’t able to do it.
Because I have a skill that can invalidate a contract without consent like a slave contract.
Therefore as a result, Mark wasn’t able to control me as a slave.
Making a slave doesn’t rob someone of their free-will.
In other words, Mark won’t be able to stop me from defying him anyway.
(The plan is easy. I will confirm if he has fallen fast asleep tonight with the Appraisal Skill. Then I will steal the contract and the ink.)
That was it.
It was a very simple plan.
It was simple and it will definitely succeed if I do it carefully.
In a world without light, the ground was barely illuminated by the light from the stars and the moon.
I was working as a night watch outside the slaves’ tent.
A night watchman.
What does it mean? I am a guard during the night.
A slave merchant was a merchant too.
Their image says they had money or high-quality slaves, that they are often attacked by thieves.
When attacked by a thief, they will lose money, merchandise, or even worse, their lives.
So slave merchants will always use muscular slaves as guardsmen looking out the perimeter.
To be able to fight back when attacked.
The lookout was laid out around the area, day and night.
A slave merchant was only human too. They had to take a rest during the night.
Humans are creatures that must get enough sleep.
So it was just reasonable for Mark to sleep at night.
Meanwhile the slaves and I, the apprentice merchant, are guarding the perimeter.
I was aware that my smile didn’t stop.
At this rate, I was certain my night strategy will succeed.
It was the scenario I planned before.
First, I will watch Mark through the hole in the tent.
I will monitor the condition of Mark inside the tent as much as possible to know whether or not he was asleep.
If it’s possible, I have to know Mark’s equipment, the location of the weapon, and the location of the contract and the ink so I don’t forget it.
Next, I have to prepare some sufficient tools to raid Mark.
The things I have with me now are the bucket to distribute water to the slaves, the dustpan to gather the excrements, and a brush to groom the horse hair. Everything was tools of a servant.
Honestly, I don’t have any tools that I can use for a surprise raid.
However, how about using the bonfire that we are using during night watch?
And the last one.
How can I kill Mark?
If it would be possible, it would be a one-sided attack if I’m able to take out Mark’s vision. I want to bind his freedom of movement.
I thought up this current plan, get Mark drunk from drinking too much liquor, he will lie down, then I will cover him with the robe that I wear to take out his vision temporarily. This attack method must be done in one go.
I thought about refining it a little bit more before implementing it.
So I refined the action plan according to those three stages.
When there was no particular problem in my scenario, I checked it over many times.
(My nerves won’t calm down)
I decided to observe my surroundings to calm myself down.
Although you may call it a Tent based on the inscription, Mark and I were operating the open-air slave shop in the slum area of the desert.
This was a place where scoundrels gather, or rather than that, it was more proper to say this was a place where poor people drift to.
The financially poor ones.
For example, a soldier who lost their arm. A mother with a child who lost her husband. An old man who went blind.
Those were the people that quietly rolled in, this was the peculiarity of this slum area.
They carry on their lives by begging, drawing water, or doing manual labor.
They can barely support themselves by bartering.
There are also people who sell stolen stuff that was taken from somewhere else.
In short, everyone living over that slum area had very few decent jobs to choose from.
So where on earth do they get their drinking water? It was at the oasis.
There was an oasis nearby, so they don’t wander far away from it.
But an oasis was also a place where so-called high quality stalls are gathered, there was no place in there for the slum people to stay.
So it was necessary to carry water from the oasis and store it in a reservoir located here.
There are two reservoir, one for drinking and one for daily use.
It was the work of the poor slum people, or the slaves, to carry water to this reservoir.
I sometimes also help. My body endured that kind of work.
However, it was decent work for the slum people and the slaves.
As for that, the salary of the slum people was bad.
If I ever describe the portrayal of slum area of the desert, it would be this way.
I surveyed the perimeter of the slave shop’s tent that Mark and I operate.
No one was looking.
Especially the poor people of the slum, they won’t look towards us.
Somehow they had a very cold attitude towards the slaves because they don’t want to become one themselves.
Their cold attitude will indirectly help me right now.
I do not have to worry about any vigilant eyes that are lurking around.
I gently peeked into Mark’s tent from the hole.
Mark was asleep.
I continued to observe Mark’s tent.
As for his equipment, he had a robe generally made of a mixture of cotton and hemp. He was not wearing any special protective gear.
However, there was a sword for self defense near him that can protect his body when the time comes.
He was sleeping while he plopped his body on a cushion, which I’m not sure if I should call it a sofa or some kind of zabuton.
He was covered by several blankets on top of him.
Penetrating that many blankets would be very hard to do.
There was a desk a little bit away from where he was sleeping.
When I carefully observed everything on that desk, I saw the ink. I assume it was the same ink used to sign the contract.
Because when I used my appraisal skill it showed 【Raw Material: Indigo Colorant】, a familiar color that was used in the contracts.
Now that I found the ink, next was the contract.
It should be somewhere on the desk, but I didn’t see it.
If I wasn’t able to find it immediately, it would be hidden somewhere at least.
This should be enough for today.
I moved my face away from the tent at once.
I have found so much information just from looking into the tent.
The image of attacking him had considerably become clearer.
I came back to my position near the night watch bonfire and acted like I was guarding once again.
I thought of a lot of stuff in my head.
It would be surprisingly easy to kill him if I raid him.
The only problem was I don’t know where the contracts are kept.
It’s still too early.
However, I will be freed from Mark soon.
I reconsidered my plan for the next step.
“Then, is this character somewhat complete?”
“Yes, I think it’s all right. However, you really learned quickly.”
I looked at the ground.
Many phonetic shapes written down there.
Those are replaced with 【A】,【B】, etc. on the pop-up display if I looked at it through the Appraisal Skill.
I was learning the alphabet.
Knowing the alphabet was essential to live in this world.
Learning the alphabet wasn’t difficult at all.
While walking around the oasis district, I was observing and stealing glances at the words written on the contracts. I was able to stock up on character vocabulary with this method.
I was also taught by the slaves.
After checking it with Appraisal Skill, I wrote it down and reviewed my work.
Actually, it was thanks to the Appraisal Skill that my learning was steadily progressing.
I was able to instantly understand what this character or that character meant.
It was due to it that I had reached a point where I was able to read and write simple characters.
As long as it was just reading, I was able to manage more difficult content with the Appraisal Skill.
Even though I only started studying three months ago, I was able to roughly memorize all the characters.
Now I just had to learn more words through the power of repetition.
“However, Mina knows these characters, just like I thought.”
“No, it’s really not that exceptional.”
Mina was being bashful as she smiling sarcastically.
It was still true that I thought it was amazing.
Although this was just an opinion, I felt fairly certain that the literacy rate of this world was pretty low.
『Fantasy Tale』 was based on the Middle Ages, and if I remember right, the literacy rate during those times was around 20%.
In other words, Mina was part of that 20%.
She was an upper-class beastkin after all.
It made me realize just how great the position of a Shrine Maiden actually was.
“There is no one else in this tent that knows these characters. You are definitely very knowledgeable, Mina.”
“I am honored to receive your praise.”
See? Normally someone wouldn’t respond with such a respectful phrase like “I am honored to receive your praise”.
Maybe it’s just me with my knowledge of modern society in Japan, but usually such speech is indicative of one’s upbringing.
I can’t imagine it’s not the same for this world.
I’ve been told that even if they wanted to learn more eloquent speech, people of low social status rarely got the chance.
That’s why there were so many people incapable of using such fancy speech.
Mina’s speech could be called a refined work of art.
Not only was her tone very clear but her use of honorific language, and even her ability to use humble language, was firmly disciplined.
A solid upbringing that couldn’t possibly be fake.
My evaluation of Mina was thoroughly raised.
It wasn’t a waste of time learning the alphabet.
I had to, in order to master writing all the words in the contracts.
It was possible to write the name on the contract if I used the Appraisal Skill (using Advance Search on my name, I will know what to write by checking the displayed phonetic notation), however, it was not possible to write down all the difficult phrases that might need to be added to the contract details if I didn’t know the words or characters.
Even if I was able to depose Mark, it wouldn’t work out if I couldn’t even write the characters.
The business of a slave merchant only exists because of the contracts; if I couldn’t write up the contracts myself, my business would get crushed immediately.
Therefore, it was best to oust Mark after I was proficient enough with the language to be able to handle the business on my own.
The plan to take over Mark’s business was steadily progressing.
At this rate, it didn’t seem like there’d be anything to worry about once I accomplished my goal.
Deep in my delusions, I smiled in anticipation for the days ahead.
“Hey kid, choose appropriate clothes. Don’t you understand how important Mina is?”
One day Mark put me in charge of buying the clothes, hence the command.
It was very unusual to buy clothes for a slave.
Low-level slaves in the tent weren’t given clothes in the first place.
Only the high-quality slaves are given clothing.
Appearance was a serious matter for the high-class slaves.
Clothes, makeup, perfume, and all accessories were props to raise the value of the merchandise.
Although I call them“props”, it wasn’t unusual for the price to double with such simple additions.
It was often said that people were easily deceived by appearances.
Even having the most exceptional slaves in a separate tent was all part of the ploy.
And by lavishly decorating the tent, it increased the value of the slave in one’s mind.
That was the purpose purchasing clothes for slaves.
I understood its value.
Finally, Mina seemed to have all the qualities to be considered a high-class slave, just as I expected.
“Understood. And the funds?”
“You’ll have to manage with just 1 gold coin.”
1 gold coin.
1 gold coin was worth 100 silver coins, and 1 silver coin was worth 100 copper coins.
I equated a copper coin to be worth 10¥, therefore 1 gold coin was about 100,000¥.
At least, that’s what I felt it was worth.
Even so, the budget would be stretched thin if it also had to pay for all the accessories.
“So it’s one gold for just the clothes, right?”
“Don’t be ridiculous, that’s for clothes and accessories. Are you trying to tell me you can’t do it?”
I realized what he meant the minute I looked into Mark’s eyes.
From the start, this jerk wanted me to eat the additional costs myself.
“Now look, consider it a ‘learning experience’ as a merchant’s apprentice, you should takes notes of the ups and downs of market value.”
Mark looked me in the eyes and smiled spitefully.
He really meant it.
According to him, he was not amused to hear I was saving up some money.
I had actually managed to save 3 gold coins already.
It wasn’t a small amount of money by any means. You could even buy a relatively cheap slave for that amount.
It was entirely possible with just those 3 gold coins, I could oppose Mark..
And Mark anticipated that.
This entire scheme was thought up just to make me use my money.
In fact, it was an order.
“Dickwad, don’t ever think of defying me or else.”
Mark threatened me with a warning.
I wouldn’t put it past him to torment me using a battle slave if I defied his orders.
And after he’d had his fun, he would just take away all my money anyway, calling it “punishment”.
I had no right to question his orders.
I bowed my head gently.
I was resolved to someday teach this asshole a lesson.
He should not have crossed that line.
He tried to arbitrarily take the money I had saved.
Was he completely oblivious to all the trouble I had to go through to save that much?
Absurd. That was the word that came to mind.
For now, I endured the bitter taste left in my mouth.
But I wouldn’t stand for him making a fool of me.
I won’t allow allow him to mock my efforts.
I do have one thing to say though.
Unlike the modern society I had been used to, here it was perfectly reasonable to kill someone over such disrespect.
Life was cheap.
And I would purchase Mark’s cheap life with 3 gold coins.