Cold Heart, Warm Feelings
It was the next morning, I think. The town between the mountains was still cast in shadows. But the sky had a mystical paleness with streaks of red, that was typical of the dawn. I used to work until the morning, and so my instincts were telling me that that was the time. And so, it must be the morning.
Before me are the fallen slaves. I did freeze the wounds on their feet to stop the bleeding. But still, their voices moan without end. Like the voices of the dead.
I was sitting slightly above them, with my chin on my bent knees. I stared dazedly at the ice sword in my hand and absent-mindedly fidgeted with the handguard. As time passed, I felt like my heart was becoming colder, just like this sword. And this feeling was not new to me. I had felt something similar, that day in Fhiraldo when the guild had given me an unexpected welcome.
I can hear doors opening in houses all around me. It was time for the town to wake up. People were leaving and gathering to start their work today. It was getting noisy. And then the first resident appeared.
The heavy sound of baggage being dropped. The pale face sees the fallen slaves and then looks at me. Just as the mouth is about to form an accusation, I address him first.
“Good morning. Are you from here? I was just attacked by these slaves, and it would be really great if you could call the guards for me.”
While I had indeed done it, I was still the victim here, I inform him. And so he swallows the words he had been ready to say, and instead inspects the scene again and nods. And then he runs in the direction that Lisa had said the guard house was located. Thankfully, he was a good guy.
I had to explain it a few more times as people gathered, until finally, the guards came rushing to the scene. The one in the lead was the captain we had met at the gate. He ordered his men to keep the others away, and they checked to see if the slaves were alive. The fact that I wasn’t immediately arrested meant that they had heard an accurate account at least. I was thankful for that.
When they were done, the captain turned to me. I stood up then and made the ice sword vanish into steam.
“So, you were attacked, eh? Are you injured?”
“I’m fine, as you can see.”
I raise both arms to show that I was unhurt. He nods at this.
“Well, I will like to hear a detailed account of what happened. Will you come back to the guard house with us?”
“Yes, thank you.”
And just as we begin to walk away, a voice calls me.
“Hey, Asagi! Hey!”
I look behind me and see Lisa is shouting at me. The guards were holding her back, as the residents were not to get close.
“Who is that?”
“She works at the inn I am staying at. She was also attacked.”
“Hmmm… You, take that woman to the guardhouse as well!”
He ordered, and two of his men escorted Lisa along with us. “Let me go!” she shouted to their displeased faces, but given that they still glanced down at her chest, maybe they could become friends one day.
“I’m sorry, but there’s one other thing.”
I ask the captain as he walks ahead of us. He answers without looking back. And so I tell him about Daniela, who is still at the inn.
“Hmm, so you want us to call your partner to the guardhouse?”
“Yes, the inn…uh, Lisa. What’s the name of the inn again?”
“The Mountain Mist.”
“That. There is a light elf there. Please call her.”
He relayed this to the aid next to him. The aid bowed and immediately headed back for the Mountain Mist inn. It must be somewhat famous, as he knew exactly where it was. Well, they were successful enough to buy a hot spring after all.
After that, we reached the guard house after what was a short walk. It was a tall building with white walls, somewhat reminiscent of a police station. I didn’t do anything wrong, but felt oddly uncomfortable.
Once we went through the entrance, I was led down a hall and into one of the many doors that were lined up. Lisa was taken to a different room. Probably so that we could not match our stories. I sat down on the chair that was prepared, the captain removed his helmet and sat opposite of me.
“I am the captain of the guards in Alessa. Backus. What is your name?”
“It’s Asagi. A humble Adventurer.”
Once introductions were out of the way, the questioning began.
“A resident here notified us that you had been attacked. Did you know that?”
“Yes, I am the one who asked him to. I did make it so that the slaves wouldn’t be able to escape, but I still wanted to stay and make sure.”
I also added that I would like to thank the man later, as he had accurately described the situation for me.
“I understand. I will tell him for you. And do you know why you were attacked?”
“Those men were former Adventurers who had caused trouble back in Fhiraldo. I and my partner were involved in that. They were sent to these mines upon my request to Fhiraldo’s captain of the guards.”
“Hmm…so you know Russel then. How is he doing?”
Oh? I did not expect to hear his name brought up here.
“You know him too?”
“Well, he is my cousin. Aren’t our names similar?”
In what world? I guess this one?
“I suppose… Russell is doing well. He was very good to us.”
“I see, I see. Very good then. Haha. I guess I can’t hinder you too much if your a friend of Russell. Well, you are the victim here, in any case. You will be freed without taking any blame.”
“That’s a relief. But, there is something I want to ask you about. What is going on here with the monitoring of the slaves? I don’t understand why they seem to be free.”
Yes, that was the biggest reason for this whole mess. They should have been properly watched. Instead, it was me who was being watched and chased. What the hell was happening?