Chapter 31 - Carrot and the Stick
First thing in the morning I barged into the slave trader's tent.
"What is it from so early in the morning Hero-sama? Yes."
"The curse mark from your place was defective. Depending on your answer, my dangerous slave and monster will start going wild in here, okay?"
"My stomach is empty so I'll do it later."
"... if you don't start behaving I'll turn you into breakfast."
The curse mark on Firo won't activate like it should. On top of that it isn't going away.
"Huh? What does that mean?"
I explained to the slave trader what had happened this morning. After that it was horrible. I somehow managed to coax Firo into human form and we went to the tent.
Firo was led here by Raphtalia who was on constant watch for Firo doing anything weird. Seems like it's tough.
"It seems that a normal curse mark won't restrict a Filolial queen. Yes."
"And that means?"
"A normal curse mark won't bind a high rank monster. The dragon that was the prize of that lottery has a special curse mark carved on it."
"In other words a normal curse mark won't work on this guy?"
The slave trader was writing something in his notebook very excitedly.
"So, will you apply that special curse mark?"
"No no, that would not be something we could give for free. Yes."
"What was that?"
"This isn't something that will be cheap, so giving it for free would be tough. We've also neared the limit of the damage we can take."
Ku-! It seems I can't expect any more service.
Well, they did suffer that much damage so I guess there's no helping it...
"Expecting much from Hero-sama in the future, how does the great discount of 200 silver coins sound?"
Kuuuu... that's expensive.
"By the way 800 silver coins would be considered cheap in the current market. I'm expecting much from Hero-sama so I'm not lying."
My wallet took a lot of damage.
I admitted defeat and very regretfully handed 200 silver coins to the slave trader.
"... If that's a lie my dangerous underlings will hold a festival in your blood."
"Of course I understand."
Raphtalia led in Firo by the hand while Firo was looking around in her Filolial queen form.
"Stand still right there Firo."
"If you stay still then afterwards I'll give you something good to eat."
Firo had sparkling eyes as she headed to where the slave trader was pointing and stood still.
Alright, if we're casting the magic now's the time.
I gave a signal to the slave trader with my eyes. He nodded, called 12 of his underlings who had their faces hidden with robes, and had them surround Firo.
They poured some kind of chemical on the ground and started chanting magic.
The floor shined with light, and a magic square formed with Firo in the center.
Firo tried resisting and sparks flew, but it was no use and the magic square started invading into Firo's body.
"Ow,Ouch----! Stop it-!"
Feeling the pain of the update to the curse mark, Firo started thrashing around. At that the magic square gave off sparks and started to sway.
The Slave trader's underlings let out voices of surprise.
"To be on the safe side, I had a lot of people cast the magic but still... to be able to move under this pressure, this young one would be scary in the future. Yes."
Come to think of it she is still only lvl 19. If she was to become lvl 70 like this exactly how strong would she become? I nodded to the slave trader's words.
Eventually, the magic square was completely carved onto Firo's stomach, and it became quiet.
"It's finished. Yes."
My display also showed a more advanced monster icon than before. Without hesitation, I checked the part that made what I said absolute.
Firo walked towards me while breathing heavily.
"That was horrible master, it hurt a lot."
Even I thought I had an evil smile on my face as I ordered Firo.
"First, change to human form."
"Ehhh, that hurt so no way. Give me something tasty!"
She rejected my order in an disrespectful tone, while she was asking for food the curse mark shone.
"Eh, no! What, no no!"
Firo sent some kind of magic at the curse mark, but this time the curse repelled it and activated.
"Ow, ow, ow!"
Firo fell over from the curse mark's pain.
"If you don't listen to what I say, it'll hurt."
"Ow, ow! Uuu..."
Firo unhappily transformed into human form. After that the curse mark's light faded.
"Hm... this time it properly activated. Good job, slave trader."
"Yes, it is a fairly strong pattern, so it's not easily tampered with. Yes."
I went in front of the collapsed Firo and told her.
"You yourself were 100 silver coins, next that curse mark was 200 coins. In total I'm out 300 silver coins. I'll have you pay that back by obeying my orders."
Firo swayed and reached her hand out to me.
It kind of hurts my conscience to say this to a child with such a pure face, but I don’t think she can survive outside if she’s this selfish. (!)
"Listen to what I say."
"I see I see, If you don't want to listen to what I say no matter what, then I'll sell you to this scary old man here."
Firo seemed to finally understand her position as her face distorted into fear.
The slave trader was wearing some kind of troubled yet happy expression while looking at me...
"How much would you buy this guy for?"
"Let's see. She is rare so even including the fee for the trouble I'd want her even for 30 gold coins. A effective curse mark is already carved on her so she won't be able to go wild anymore, there would be many ways to use her. Yes."
Even the slave trader who didn't like buying back goods was willing to offer this high of a price on her.
I don't know his true intentions, but if Firo falls into his hand I can expect that her life would be over.
However Firo was looking up at me with an incredibly fearful expression.
This is tough... my conscience which was supposed to be gone was speaking up.
But depending on Firo's attitude I might really have to choose that future.
I'm not a kind older brother or someone who spoils their pet.
"That's how it is. So if you act violently again, I won’t see you anymore... you'll drink really bitter medicine, have your body messed with a lot and in the end... you'll probably die...?"
Firo rejected that in a loud voice.
"Master don't hate me..."
Firo clung to my legs and begged me.
Ku-! This is tough...
Even so I can't back down.
"If you honestly listen to what I say then I won't hate you. Therefore from now on, you must properly listen to me”
"Good good, then when we're sleeping at the inn don't turn back into your real form no matter what. This is your first promise."
When Firo smiled with her whole face, what was left of my conscience ached.
Okay, today after this we have to head to the weapon shop...
As I moved my gaze from Firo, I saw the slave trader smiling with an unbelievably amused expression.
"Such a wonderful and evil method. It sent shivers down my spine. You truly are the legendary hero of the shield!"
I feel like his way of praising me was off... but complaining about it doesn't seem right either.
And, beside him Raphtalia was also looking at me with a difficult expression.
"Naofumi-sama... wasn't that a bit too..."
"If I don't do this then she won't listen to me. Even you were like that at first right?"
At my reply Raphtalia nodded.
"Now that you say that, I was."
"Selfishness has parts where it can be forgiven and parts where it can't."
After hearing my, her master's, true thoughts she couldn't challenge them.
"Carrot and stick right? I understand. Yes."
"I wasn't talking to you slave trader."
Also, don't just decide you understand me.
"I guess I caused you a lot of trouble."
"If that’s what you think then please, take and raise a Filolial that we prepared so that it would be easy to use-“
"Now then, we still have places to go today. We'll be leaving now."
"At hero-sama's strong will that keeps from getting caught up in our pace as much as possible, I hold true feelings of respect. Yes."
With this we ended our discussion and left the tent behind.