“… Am I in your way?”
“… I don’t really mind.”
Hetty and Mina were both subtly embarrassed by the mood as I was feeling awkward.
I don’t know what to say, mood must be important to such sensual like situation.
Until a while ago, Mina and I had a good atmosphere, but it seemed that cold water was thrown to that feeling.
However, Hetty didn’t do anything bad.
Rather, I must thank Hetty because she proofread my letter while I was away from my desk.
“Master, it might be presumptuous of me to say this, but I think it’s better if I write the letters on your behalf. If it’s me I can write the characters a little more neatly. Would you let me do it?”
I see, that might be good.
As I thought about it and turned back to Mina next me, she looked puzzled for an instant and murmured “Speech.”
“Ms. Hetty. It is expected for you to exist as a slave to Master Toshiki. Therefore, you shouldn’t speak so formally towards Master Toshiki.”
“Oh my, Master, if you would please grant me this desire to continue using formal speech. If you please, Master?”
Hetty’s smile was similar to teasing.
I noticed that she was enjoying the situation.
“Ah, I won’t force the issue of using formal language. As long as you don’t tell the other slaves to do so, I have no problems leaving things as they are.”
“Oh my, you have a big heart, Master.”
Hetty was smiling, it seems that attitude was irritating Mina.
She murmured, “Master Toshiki is too soft”, in a low voice.
“With that situation, the other slaves might get excited.”
True, Mina was a very serious servant.
I understand what she feels. But I think it’s good to maintain the way as it is.
Personally, I think that if I get used to being spoken too formally, there would be a possibility that I would get arrogant.
So I don’t want to force them to speak a formal language.
Also, I’m not that soft.
“I’m not soft. Because I will be giving Hetty some work.”
That was to say, giving work was easy. I said “Here, the log book”, and gave Hetty the client log book.
It seems Hetty didn’t realized my intention, and asked me “What will I do with it?”
“The client log book. You should be familiar with the customers listed there.”
“… In other words.”
“What kind of a person was the customer? Are they polite or impatient? I want you to write down every detail that you remember.”
I saw Hetty stopped smiling, and I thought Ah, she can actually show an unpleasant face like that.
“Well then, go sit there, Mina.”
And with that, Hetty left to work.
That means that there are only 2 people left in the shopkeeper’s tent.
It seemed that Mina noticed that fact, and she began to feel somewhat uncomfortable.
“Uhm, Master Toshiki. Was it ok to ask Ms. Hetty to do that kind of work?”
“Hmm, ah, It’s alright if it’s Hetty.”
I would probably need to start a conversation with her because she hasn’t calmed down yet. As for her, her eyes were not steady since a while ago.
“Hetty is a high-class slave, actually, she was made to help some work for Mark.”
“Is that so?”
“Yeah, she is used to serving customers, so I think that there are only a few things I can teach her.”
I soaked a cloth in the bucket with water while replying.
I was now wiping Mina’s body. I was only doing that, however, I’m getting a little conscious.
It was strange if I think about it.
Just a few days ago I was always doing this thing to her, but the moment our relationship became that of a master and slave, it became an awkward situation.
“Uhm, Master Toshiki. If it’s all right you, I am perfectly capable of wiping myself.”
“No, you don’t need to make a fuss about it.”
I was suddenly worried about what I say.
I uttered you don’t need to make a fuss about it. That expression was strange.
It was a good idea, it was an expression that ignores the likelihood that I dislike Mina.
Under normal circumstances, I would have replied “Is that so? Well then, why don’t you wipe by yourself?”
That is, If I don’t use the result of the Appraisal Skill.
However, looking at the results of the trust meter and mental chart, I chose to do it this way.
Actually, to tell the truth, I don’t dislike Mina.
“… Well then, thank you very much.”
She kept glancing over here and looked like she was waiting for something.
Looking at Mina’s current appearance, I thought that I should wipe her body carefully.
“Come to think of it, Mina.”
“What is it?”
While wiping her body, I started a rambling conversation with her.
“Mina is the shrine maiden of the beastkins right?”
With a twitch, Mina’s body stiffened momentarily.
For some reason, I was not able to read her expression.
It was a nostalgic expression, it was an expression when she heard “So you’re Shrine Maiden, huh?” when I first met her.
“… That is.”
Somehow I could sympathize with her current frame of mind as she stumbles her words.
Carefully choosing her words, It seems the was trying to change the topic.
“… Yes. You are right.”
However, she unexpectedly confirmed it.
“Shrine maiden of the beastkins, what kind of job is that?”
“. . . I foretell fortunes and cast curses.”
She doesn’t seem to play dumb or told a lie.
I don’t know whether she had a change of mind, but she was going to talk because she doesn’t to run away from that fact anymore.
“Fortune telling and casting curses?”
“Yes. Each and every beastkin tribe has a Shrine maiden, it was our job to foretell the future of our own tribe.”
She said so and explained it trivially.
Shrine maidens seem to have two main job, divination and casting curses.
Divination was easy, they divine the future of their tribe by listening to the oracle of the God.
For example, In Mina’s tribe, by dancing using the spear, the God will descend upon her body.
That’s the reason why she excels in spearmanship and dancing.
While thinking of such, I urged her to continue her story.
“Well then, what about casting a curse.”
Hearing about it will shake you up.
“. . . We of the beastkins, we live as people of the grassland as various tribes gather together as one in the prairie. However, the hearts of the tribes are not always united.”
She started narrating.
For a long time, the people of the grassland passed on their technique to curse enemies of their tribes.
This kind of magic was a deterrence.
If someone attacks their tribe, they will curse all of them for generations, it was easy to understand that was deterrence.
“We partially believed in this curse. Some people say it is not true, and even though it is not true it is our implicit rule that we must believe on it.”
So, it didn’t matter if the curse was the real deal.
Because it was unspoken agreement, it would still function as a deterrent.
The way she narrated was fraught with sounds that feel like it came from somewhere else.
“…Can I hear it once more?”
I somewhat expect how Mina will react.
However, I decided that I really need to hear it.
“The reason why Mina became a slave.”
“Was it because the Therianthrope tribe was attacked by other tribes?”
My question was dodged by vaguely answering “… What do you think?”
I thought it was just fine responding like that.
I had steadily acted upon the reforms that I had set.
Hygiene improvements of the slaves, advertising performing spear training, sending greeting letters to the clients.
It was not that large of a scale, it was not sufficiently sensational, and I don’t expect that it will be effective in the long run. It was just simple actions.
However, it is still essential.
I believe that my actions will bear fruit someday.
Simple actions don’t necessarily mean it will bear fruit.
I believe that it will bear fruit simply because those are standard practices.
Hygiene improvement of the slave, it’s standard practice to improve the working conditions.
Advertising by performing spear training, it’s standard advertising practice to instill impression by creating a buzz continuously.
Sending greeting letters to clients in the log book, it’s standard practice to maintain customer relationship.
For some reason, nobody here understood the theory of standard practices.
However, I have probably understood these standard practices from experience. In fact, I was in a position to fully experience management.
Perhaps it’s intuition. I cannot explain the reason but I have a hunch that I am probably correct.
Isn’t it already a fact that it would be effective?
While thinking so, I fixed my eyes towards the Chief Sentry, Howard, who was in front of me.
The Chief Sentry, Howard, told me he wants to borrow enough battle slave for a short term.
He told me, that it was necessary to crush a nest of Giant Desert Isopods soon.
“We seemed to have discovered a nest of Giant Desert Isopods near the trading road. In this situation, all trading had ceased.”
“Is that so?”
Howard was telling me all about it with a serious expression, the Oasis district was in a crisis.
The Oasis district, as we know, was a town where trade was flourishing.
Generally speaking, it was a hotspot were people incessantly comes from all directions, from the north, south, east, and west.
However, there was a cloud hanging over the prosperity because a nest of Giant Desert Isopod had appeared.
It was only natural from the perspective of traders, if they are attacked, their merchandise will be spoiled. So they will hesitate in visiting the Oasis district.
Just because the nest had appeared only on the western route, it doesn’t mean northern and southern route was safe.
It was said that visitors coming into the Oasis district will decrease significantly from now on.
“Ah, therefore I had negotiated with the adventurer’s guild and will form a subjugation party.”
Was that just my imagination that Howard had a disappointed expression?
Perhaps the preparation for the subjugation party won’t be enough.
Thinking out aloud “Not enough manpower?”, his appearance showed that it was exactly how I thought when he heard it.
“That’s right, we don’t have enough manpower.”
Howard had a look that he was deeply regretting.
As far as I could see from his expression, it was almost telling me to lend as much manpower I can give.
I thought that the Giant Desert Isopod are monsters that can be easily subjugated. I asked Mina and Hetty to confirm, but the answer I got was “They are not weak, but they are not strong too.” What kind of answer was that?
“We of the sentinel division know to some extent the method to subjugate it. Douse them with flammable liquid and set them on fire, then attack when they are weakened.”
“However, if there are young isopods inside the Giant Desert Isopods, a multitude of them will come out immediately and it will become a picture of hell.”
“Umm, that is…”
The nest must not be set on fire then.
That’s what I thought but Howard rebuked me by saying “Well, even if a massive amount of young isopods comes out, they don’t have the ability to cause any casualties. As long as there are a lot of adventurers, we can finish them however we want.”
“When the number of adventurers is not enough, then it becomes a problem. Attacking a young isopod will just cause it to run away, thus, it is difficult. Even though it doesn’t have the ability to kill us, it will devour our livestock.”
“Oh, I see.”
“Therefore, I want to get as much help as possible. … I ask of you, please lend me your slaves.”
I have now understood Howard’s story.
The point was because there were not enough hands to kill the Isopods, it is expected there would be secondary damage from the young isopods. So it means they need more manpower.
“However Sir Howard, I cannot just simply help.”
“Of course, I have prepared reparations. … Just don’t expect a large sum of money.”
It seems this was the cause why Howard had disappointed look.
The rewards were probably limited by budgetary problems.
I felt like the reward was too little for this kind of work.
“I don’t care if the reward is small. However, can I request some other things in return?”
“What is it? I do not mind if I can arrange it within my abilities.”
I don’t know whether he can arrange it, but talk was cheap.
I tried to demand something that I wanted for some time.
“I think I want management rights in the Oasis district.”
Management rights in the Oasis district.
The former shopkeeper, Mark, wasn’t able to obtain it. I think that would be considerably attractive.
It was a status symbol to be able to manage in Oasis district.
If it was the usual route, one had to prove they had managed for a long time or expect a stable profit and pay large amount of money to the authorities, then they can get into the Oasis district.
The important thing for them was to never allow a shop that will immediately go bankrupt in the Oasis district.
Instead of just becoming a status symbol because my shop appeared on the Oasis district once.
My shop will reap profits from my long time knowledge, that will become its brand.
It’s only human nature to think that travelers and foreign merchant groups visiting here through the trade routes will use shops that had status. All the more if it was a noble.
That was why the system makes the shop in the Oasis district very profitable.
“… It will depend on the negotiation.”
“If you can’t arrange it, make it a tax exemption certificate for at least a year.”
Tax exemption certificate, It’s simply a certificate to be exempted from tax from the feudal lord.
Presently the tax rate of the feudal lord was at 20%, that tax is too high for this place, that’s why I want to reduce it by all means.
“… If it’s tax exemption certificate, it will be possible.”
Howard was careful with his words.
I see, it seems that Howard had done this kind of negotiations for several times now. There may not be enough monetary rewards for forming a subjugation party from the feudal lord, therefore they gather manpower by giving different rewards such as tax exemption certificates. He’d gotten used to smoothly deal with these things that he was keeping an eye out for it.
Indeed, he seems to be more grateful I’m willing to accept tax exemption certificate.
There was definitely a reaction seeing that much from his mental chart.
Should I try to negotiate more?
“Let’s agree with the tax exemption certificate, but there is a condition.”
Howard’s body stiffened for a while.
“First, our slaves are merchandise. If you damage or let them die, it will be your responsibility to buy them.”
“… That is.”
“This is my main rule. Since they are slaves, you may not care about them, that’s what I think if we don’t discuss about it.”
Howard’s speech faltered.
Perhaps he thought that I may possibly just accept the losses if it was just a few slaves.
I pressured him more.
“Next, you will be responsible for the necessary expenses for the meals, equipment, and such for the slaves. We will only prepare the manpower.”
“That would be troublesome.”
“It is not our problem.”
Meals and equipment, these must be covered by the other party.
Concerning such expenses, if I don’t confirm it beforehand, I will be in trouble. I have bitterly experienced giving in to the things as they are like these small details.
I am a weak person towards merchants that have position in society. Therefore when I make a contract, I can protect myself by clearly stipulating it, up to the minute details. I must protect myself.
“Honestly, we are not troubled if people stops coming to the Oasis district because Giant Desert Isopods appeared on the trade route. Rather people becoming slaves will increase because poor people will increase, and that is a business opportunity for us.”
“Because we are going out of our way to cooperate with you, it’s presumptuous of you to demand that we shoulder the cost of the equipment, please bear that in mind.”
I said so towards Howard.
Watching how he would react, Howard immediately looked at me directly.
“Besides, there are other minute details, please sign the contract that I will draw up if you agree to the conditions.”
“… Don’t be absurd.”
“But I’m not being unreasonable. Tax exemption certificate is rather cheap, and it’s only natural for me to ask you not to request anything unreasonable from my slaves…… If you think I’m being unreasonable, then you can decide that you won’t use us.”
To be frank, I thought that it was okay if I drop the negotiations.
But demanding the ridiculous will just needlessly worsen his impression to me.
It was just a class of common sense.
However, while looking at the trend of his mental chart.
“… I will consult with the Finance Secretary.”
As a result, Howard mentioned that I should look forward to it.
“… I wonder if it was a failure”
My first impression was that it failed when Howard left the shop saying “Then I will take my leave.”
Using the Appraisal Skill, I watched Hetty and Howard’s Mental Chart movements and just when I was really confident that I have almost made it, I got a faint impression that I have said too much, and that was the result of the negotiations.
In my opinion, I thought that what I said wasn’t that bad, but when I looked back at Hetty, “You were too aggressive” was her comment.
“You looked like a very competent merchant from the Oasis district.”
“Was that a compliment?”
Hetty’s remark could mean I demanded without knowing my place, or it could also mean the negotiation was successful.
Something like an indicator of the Mental Chart shows it was the latter meaning, but I replied “Oh well, I wonder about that”, an expression that could imply an answer to both situations, since I might have went too far.
“But, I think you were so cool.”
When I saw it, Hetty’s trust meter went up to 30%.
Her evaluation of me had increased.
In other words, the negotiations a while ago was probably a good performance for someone like Hetty.
“I would be looked down upon if I accept a cheap contract, therefore it’s not worth it unless I do this much.”
Even though I said that, I wasn’t sure of myself.
Will be I able to say that it was okay just by looking at the other party’s expression?
At the end, I reflected on myself.
However, seems like the results for the spear training is already showing up. The original intent for it and not the advertisement.
I realized that while looking at the tent for the low-class slaves.
They had accumulated experience points on their spearmanship skill as the effects of everyday training.
It looks like the Demonkins are going to level up soon, and when they do their Spearmanship skills will be at level 2.
As expected, learning from a powerful person that had Spearmanship Lv. 3, their progress was quick since they had been taught the peculiarities of the style.
The growth of the low-class slaves, as compared to Mina who was the leader, was bigger than her.
That was because Mina spent less time training herself as she was teaching other people. But, if I give another reason, it was that she doesn’t have someone capable to teach her. There was no one capable person to point out any off shifts or kink in her form.
I really wanted to increase Mina’s Spearmanship skill though.
Still, is it being too greedy?
However, I really thought that there should be a chance for it.
Now then, I should train them in parallel with spear training, how about this one?
I have thought so and looked at the methods to train in swordsmanship.
As for the mentor of swordsmanship, I hired a man who was a former adventurer, Kane. His swordsmanship was at Lv. 2.
I intend to have the slaves that doesn’t have any aptitude in swordsmanship skills to train.
They will train at the same time as when all members of Mina’s spear training does.
There shouldn’t be any difference in the amount of training time.
However, the improvement rate will be clearly different.
Mina’s Spearmanship Lv.3 compared to Kane’s Swordsmanship Lv.2, it’s clear who is a better instructor…
Mina’s teaching was better in developing Skill experience.
Perhaps, Mina will probably be just better at teaching, it might be slightly interesting thing to find out.
If by chance Mina was instructed by a more skillful person in the past, she may be using the teaching experience for the current spear training.
In this case, Mina was trained with theory by a good mentor, while Kane’s foundation on swordsmanship was polished to Lv. 2 by self-learning.
If that was so, Mina should be better as an instructor.
And one more thing, even for someone without any skill aptitude, they can still acquire and learn the skill.
For the time being, there would be difference in gaining of skill experience, so I would only look at low-class slaves that had acquired Swordsmanship Skill Lv. 0.
Apparently, Skills aren’t absolutely innate, it seems you can acquire them.
In a sense this would be a great discovery, that would mean to suggest that I might be able to learn a new skill.
The skill that I really want is the negotiation technique. But the bottleneck is that there isn’t a slave that can teach me the negotiation technique.
If skill aptitude was not a condition, and gaining a skill was dependent on training, then there was a chance.
From my current position, if I make full use of the slaves, I may be able to acquire Spearmanship, Swordsmanship, and if I like, even Sexual Skills.
For the time being, it can’t be helped that there was no slave with the negotiation skills that I really want.
It would be fun to aim for an otherworld cheat skill.
Of course, I still have to assume my main occupation as a career consultant.
As I was thinking that it was inevitable, both the training for spearmanship and swordsmanship had ended.
“So, you want to learn spearmanship from me huh.”
Was it my imagination that Mina seemed to be happy?
It was amusing looking at the Werecat’s trait of wagging their tails as a response.
“Well, if I had to say it clearly, I want to watch Mina train the spear in front of me, I only want to imitate it.”
“Well, I will surely train you properly!”
I felt apologetic towards her enthusiasm, but I have no plans of learning spearmanship.
I only thought of using my Appraisal Skill to appraise the spear style.
It was a success during the day when Mina was training the slaves.
It was a success because when I used the Appraisal Skill on the style that the slaves were practicing, an information popped up and it showed “Plow Style”.
Applying this further, I want to see if I could use my Appraisal Skill and learn anything about the high-speed spear dance training Mina currently does.
“… So that’s it.”
When I explained it to Mina, she somehow felt sad.
I felt like I did something a little bad to her.
However, I want to quickly know what was her spear style.
“Well then, here I go.”
Will she be too conscious if I look starting now? Mina was fidgeting and can’t seem to calm down that she did the introduction twice.
But her state completely changed when she began her performance.
Her performance was intense like a raging fire.
She swung the spear like a bo staff, took a step back and thrust for the second strike.
She then hit the ground with the spear handle, and using the tension of the spear, she did a sweep together with the rotation of the spear.
And thus I assumed she struck the foot, the body and the throat of the imagined enemy. Three consecutive high speed attack.
When I saw it, I was just lost for any words to say.
Was this the real Mina?
I realized that I was completely enamored
I knew why I just realized it because I saw what I needed to see just now.
The pop-up information floating for quite a while showed that it was the “Flame Dance”.
“… Am I in your way?”