“Move your lazy asses!”
I am brought to the slum area of the city under the cover of the night. Along the way, we met up with other soldiers. They are bringing more people with black hair. There are three people other than me and they are all have lifeless eyes like they are giving up on living. They have the same tattoo as mine on their arms. Two of them are children with similar faces so they should be siblings.
The slum people are not looking with fear on us. Instead, they are giving us pitying gazes. Some of them are crying so I guess they are either families or friends of the three. I wonder if the prejudice didn’t exist here.
Not long after, we reach a small house near the wall of the city. Inside the house, there are a few more soldiers and one soldiers with different armor than others. The soldiers that come in salute the man so he should be the commander. I stare dagger at him for making me like this.
The soldier beside me hit my back and kick me down to the floor. The commander snorts like he isn’t interested in it.
“Hmph! Be grateful because you’re going to be the slaves of the First Prince. I really want to kill you all for being cursed.” (Commander)
“I am not going to be a slave of anyone!” (Erwin)
“You ungrateful bastard!” (Soldier A)
“Wait until my country find out about what you do to me. You will regret it.” (Erwin)
“So, you’re a spy. Spit it out! Where do you come from?” (Commander)
“I won’t--!?” (Erwin)
Ugh. This slave tattoo is really annoying. It’s choking me again.
“You should know what will happen should you resist. Now, spit it out!” (Commander)
“Tch. Earth Federation.” (Erwin)
Earth Federation is a federation established by various countries. After years of interactions with other worlds, it was decided by those countries that it will be an independent country by itself so the trade can be established easier. Other countries sent ambassadors to the country to maintain their interest.
The citizenship is temporary and only applied to soldiers and support civilians in the facilities. The president is chosen from the ranks of generals. It is a militaristic country.
Earth Federation works to maintain a stable and balance trade with various worlds as well as to defend the world from invasion. It is supported by other countries across the various worlds. Various races from various worlds also send their youth to go there to study.
It isn’t a lie to say that I come from there because I got the temporary citizenship. The choke is loosening and disappears. One of the soldiers is prepared to write. The commander starts to ask another question.
“How strong is your country?” (Commander)
“Very strong.” (Erwin)
“How many soldiers?” (Commander)
“I don’t know.” (Erwin)
There isn’t a choke because it is true that I don’t know. You won’t know any sensitive information from me who is just a low rank soldiers. The commander is displeased by the lack of reaction from the tattoo.
“Where is your country located?” (Commander)
“Bermuda Triangle.” (Erwin)
The commander starts to crease his brows to remember where is this Bermuda Triangle. He shakes his head and now is looking really displeased.
“Are you lying? I don’t know where this Bermuda Triangle is.” (Commander)
“I am honest. See, the tattoo isn’t reacting.” (Erwin)
I grin broadly because whatever I said, he won’t understand it. We are living in two different worlds after all.
“Who are you?” (Commander)
“Private Erwin Cota, 31st Expedition Force.” (Erwin)
“Expedition!? So, you are the advance force. Spit it out. When will the invasion begin?” (Commander)
No reaction from the tattoo. The commander and other soldiers are watching with gaping mouths. I can throw eggs in those mouths.I grin broadly.
“Slap yourself!” (Commander)
“Why shou--!? (Erwin)
The choke is here again. I quickly slap myself gently. The choke disappears.
“Hmm. The tattoo is still working. He is speaking the truth.” (Commander)
The commander is holding his temples with his hand. He looks like he is having a headache. The other soldiers are confused too. Should I try to lie? I don’t know the limit of this tattoo yet.
“Then, tell me about your country.”
“It is a very beautiful country. It has fertile lands all over the place with various rivers and lakes. The sea also has high amount of resources.”
It is all a lie. The Earth Federation don’t have fertile land at all because it is a full of research facilities. There are a few parks for recreation but that is all. No rivers and lakes. Only the sea has resources. The tattoo didn’t react at all. I can lie if they don’t tell me to talk honestly. One flaw detected. The commander is looking pleased.
“He should allow me to contact my commander tonight. If they don’t receive my periodical report, they will suspect something is wrong and send troops. They will kill you easily.” (Erwin)
Now is my time to break free. I need to contact Mary and the others. I hope they know how to dispel this tattoo. It should be a magic spell.
The commander ponders for a while. Then, seemingly knowing what to do, he smiles a cold smile. Could you please be a little more stupid? He shouldn’t be high ranking officer, right?
“You can contact your commander but you can’t tell them anything that happened to you. Also, you can’t tell them anything about this country.” (Commander)
Damn it! Please be a little more stupid!
“Yes. I understand.” (Erwin)
I am given freedom of movement for a night as I requested. I go out of the house, search for hidden place, running from the soldier, and operate the bracelet to compile a report. They might be able to force me to come out with the tattoo so I hope they won’t. I find Mary’s message when I opened the interface. It is about the talk inside the tower. They have finished the initial negotiation and want to meet the emissary. I think for a while and decide to try my luck.
Negotiation is going well. Diplomats can be sent with signal from Mary. Further information will be provided by Mary on site.
I am almost not well. I almost get caught by six people that came out of nowhere. Please don’t be negative.
They went to the slum after losing me. I got information about other people like me who will be sent to the front line. They will be under the command of the First Prince. Will observe for a while. Request reinforcements.
This strange report that doesn’t look like a military report at the very least should be enough to invite question. At least, that is what I hope so. Since I am writing in English, the commander and soldiers don’t know what I write about. Seeing as there is no reaction from the tattoo, they assume I don’t tell them anything. They trust the tattoo too much.
Oh! A reply? Such a coincidence... Or not. They have been constantly monitoring us ever since we have reach Yamato Kingdom. It looks like they are suspecting something from my report but have no idea what it is. Well, that is enough.
They asked me to establish the beacon for the moving of the gate. I move out of the city and place the beacon on the open plain outside the city. Activating its power generator, the beacon starts to emit signal. I check to see if it works. Confirming it, I contact Mary. I omit what happen to me so she won’t worry too much.
Now then, should I return immediately or check if I can find any other flaws in this tattoo. In the end, I refrain from checking the flaws return to the slum. I sleep on the roof of a building near the small house because I don’t want to stay close to them for as long as I can.
“Commander, we lose sight of him.”
“Doesn’t matter. With that tattoo, we can find him wherever he goes. He can’t do anything about it.” (Commander)
“Don’t spend any more effort on him. We should rest and tomorrow, we will leave this town to the front line. You are dismissed.” (Commander)
The soldier leaves the room. The commander picks up a letter and read the content.
“Hmph. I am a general but I am given this despicable work. Just why should we search for those cursed children? That damn oracle.”
In the letter, it is stated that General Frost of the Third Army is to collect various cursed children found by the nobles to send them to the First Prince. This mission is given by the king according to one of the oracles from the High Priest. It stated “Curse will be the blessing of the dying young dragon”. Other oracles are still incomprehensible.
It is because of this oracle and the recent report about the retreat of the First Prince’s army that the king orders all things related to curse to be inspected and reported. After deliberation, cursed children will be sent along with cursed artifacts. They will at least be meat shield for the prince. Cursed artifacts will be inspected by the priests and priestesses before being sent over as well. Due to fear of the cursed children, the nobles decide to use slave tattoo to control them.
“If there isn’t this stupid oracle, I wouldn’t have to stay in this small house. This stupid secret mission.”
The commander continues to complain in low voices.
“Hey, you! Come back here!”
“Umm? Oh yeah. It’s morning. *yawn*. Kuh!” (Erwin)
Can you stop choking me every single time? It’s annoying. Slavery is the worst thing ever. Where is my human right? Wish I could just kill the slave master.
I jump down the roof and run to the house. The choke disappears shortly after. A bliss...
In the house inside a cage, I can see the three from yesterday. They are so lifeless like people who have lost of hope of everything. So weak willed.
“You stay there.”
I go into the cage with the others following the orders. Sitting down, I glance at the other people that attracted my attention. There are two more people. Looks like they have just been brought in. One of them is hiding behind the other. The one at the front is watching me with curious eyes. He whispers to me.
“Hey, how do you move around as you please?” (Slave A)
“I used threat but I can’t use it excessively. I don’t want to be choked.” (Erwin)
“What kind of threat?” (Slave A)
“I have the backing of a country. My country will not abandon one of their citizens.” (Erwin)
“Eh!?” (Slave A)
“Shh... Don’t be too loud. Do you want to be choked?” (Erwin)
“Yes... Do they really accept you as citizen? You have black hair and on top of it, black eyes.” (Slave A)
“My eyes are dark brown that is close to black so people might mistaken it. Well, just believe me on this. We are going to be rescued.” (Erwin)
“Really?” (Slave B)
Hmm? A girl? So the one hiding behind is a girl. She has a plain face like the man in front of her. They have really similar faces.
“Are you twins?” (Erwin)
“Yes, we are twins.” (Slave A)
“Well, I can’t guarantee it but my friend will come to rescue me. We will escape together.” (Erwin)
I can hope either Mary or Jonathan to help me. Well, I can only hope Jonathan will come to this world.
“Really!? We are going to be rescued!?” (Slave C)
One of the lifeless slaves suddenly grab my cloth and cry out loud. Ugh. This is troublesome.
“Hey! What are you talking about over there? Shut up!” (Soldier A)
“We are really going to be rescued!? Please tell me!” (Slave C)
“You! Shut up! No one is going to rescue you all!” (Soldier A)
“Ugh!?” (Slave C)
Now, he is choked. Hah... Can you not be so agitated?
“Leave him aside. I hate this kind of people who despair easily.” (Slave A)
“Well, yeah. He is too troublesome to deal with.” (Erwin)
I hit the back of his head and render him unconscious. With this, he will calm down for a while. I bring him to the side of the children. The children don’t seem to be listening. They are trembling from fear.
I embrace and bring them to the twin. They cry out on my chest. Their crying sound is loud but it is suppressed because they bury their faces in my chest. It is still loud but at least, the soldiers don’t have any reaction. The girl is patting their backs softly.
“Tell me, do people with black hair so rare?” (Erwin)
“Yes. In this entire city, there are no more than 6 people.” (Slave A)
“So, they are still one more people out there?” (Erwin)
“Yes. He is skilled in hiding so I don’t think he will be caught.” (Slave A)
“I see. What’s your name?” (Erwin)
“I am Mara and this is Mira, my younger sister.” (Mara)
“I am Erwin.” (Erwin)
“Hey Erwin, what are you doing here in our country?” (Erwin)
“Why do you ask?” (Erwin)
“It’s because you have black hair like us. We can’t go out of our country but you came in yourself. Why would you come here?” (Mara)
“Well, it’s a secret of mine.” (Erwin)
“Fine then. How do you know your country will rescue you?” (Mara)
“I told them yesterday after I threatened them.” (Erwin)
“Why would they let you go after knowing you will tell your country?” (Mara)
“It’s hard to explain. Mixed in some lies and such.” (Erwin)
“Hey! This is your food.” (Soldier A)
The soldier throws in some hard breads into the cage.
“Eat it quickly. We are going out of town.” (Soldier A)
“Change of plan. There is a disturbance outside the city. We are moving out tonight.” (Soldier B)
“Huh? What disturbance?” (Soldier A)
“I don’t know. The lord’s army is.....” (Soldier B)
The soldiers are moving away while talking. Looks like Earth is quick to act. Or is it Mary? Well, the faster, the better. I wonder when will the help come.
“Come. Let’s eat. It’s better than not having any food at all.” (Mara)
“It’s so hard.” (Mira)
The children on my lap is also having a hard time to eat. What can I use to soften it? Oh right. I got some chocolate powder in the storage. Where can I get hot or warm water?
“Wait a moment. I will see if I can soften them up.” (Erwin)
I open the interface and browse through the inventory list. The other slaves are looking curiously. I find the chocolate powder and open the storage. A small black hole appear in front of me. I put my hand in there and take out the container.
“It’s magic...” (Mira)
The twin and children are looking with a daze. I search through the inventory again and find a thermos. I wonder if the hot water inside is still hot. I forget to check it for so long. I take the thermos out. Opening the thermos, I can feel slight warm feeling. It’s no longer hot but should be sufficient. I take out plastic cups from the inventory. After a while, the warm chocolate is ready.
“Now then, put in the hard bread inside the warm water. It should soften up a bit.” (Erwin)
I take one bread and dip it in the chocolate. After a few seconds, I take it out and bite the bread. It indeed softens up a bit and it has a bit of sweet chocolate taste. The others follow my example and dip in the breads. When they eat it, they exclaim.
“Oh! It softens up and this sweet taste is nice.” (Mara)
“Un. Yeah, it’s delicious.” (Mira)
The children are eating without saying anything but they are eating it vigorously like it is their first meal in days.
“Eat slowly. I won’t take it from you.” (Erwin)
After I warn them, they eat slightly slower. It is still quite fast though. I eat my own bread slowly. We enjoy the soften bread and warm chocolate drink. The unconscious slave is still sleeping the whole time we eat. After we finished up everything beside his share of bread, he finally wakes up. Of course, I don’t give him any chocolate drink. He will just pester me for more.
The soldier who comes back shortly after is looking at our blissful faces with a huge question mark on top of his head but we ignore him. The rest of the day was boring but because we chatted among ourselves, we can lift up some boredom. The soldier was the one who was unfortunate and lonely. He ended up chatting with us because none of his friends accompanied him the whole time he was there.