Naofumi Iwatani continues his adventure in this second volume. But his task is not yet complete and obstacles mount as the increasingly ominous waves of destruction approach. He finds a new friend and new powerful abilities that may prove to be too dangerous for the companionship. Will Naofumi live up to his role as the Shield Hero and save the world from its prophesized destruction? Or will his dark side consume him?
Chapter One: Egg Machine
“Well, well, if it isn’t the Hero! What can I do for you today?”
We entered the tent, and the courteous slave trader was right there to meet us.
He looked Raphtalia over carefully and grunted in surprise.
“She’s certainly changed. Who thought she was such a diamond in the rough?”
He looked over at me and sighed.
He was the slave trader that had met me at my darkest hour. Just as I had all my possessions stolen and reputation ruined, just when I realized I had to level up without any means of attack, he showed up and asked if I might be interested in a slave.
He was an older man, plump, and decked out in a suit with coattails.
He looked untrustworthy, to say the least.
But he took a liking to me for some reason and said he would do what he could to help. He was the man who sold me Raphtalia.
“I thought she was more like us. I hadn’t realized she had so much potential.”
What the hell was that supposed to mean? I almost blew up at him but managed to control myself.
I didn’t want to ruin our relationship. Who knew when I might need his services in the future? I’d say something along those lines.
“Whether they live or die, the proper way to use a slave is the way that raises the quality of the product.”
I responded in a threatening tone:
“I guess all the slaves you know of are disposable?”
She was looking at me, worried that I wasn’t showing proper respect to authority.
I was aware of it myself, that I was a little out of control. But I was feeling better than I had the last time I met him.
“Heh, heh, heh… I suppose so. You’ve got me trembling.”
I couldn’t tell if he liked my answer or not, but he was smiling.
“Now then, as for the appraisal. She certainly has become a beauty, but if she’s not a virgin then I would say… 20 pieces of gold?”
“Why are you assuming he’s here to sell me?! And besides, I AM a virgin!”
He jumped back at the force of her exclamation.
“Now we’re talking! How does 30 pieces of gold sound? Naturally, I’ll have to confirm your virginity.”
I could get 30 pieces of gold for Raphtalia?
“Mr. Naofumi! Please say something!”
If I had 30 pieces of gold, I could easily buy that level 75 Wolf Man!
I was thinking it over when Raphtalia shot me a terrified look before grabbing onto my shoulders.
“Mr. Naofumi, if you don’t stop playing around, I’ll get angry!”
“What is it? Why are you so upset?”
“This guy is sizing me up, and you aren’t saying anything about it.”
“We have to look nonchalant or we’ll lose face.”
That’s all I could think of to get her off of my back. If I didn’t hide my thoughts better, Raphtalia would figure out what I was thinking. And besides, it’s not like I would sell off the only person that believed in me.
“30 pieces of gold…?”
I caught myself muttering, and Raphtalia gripped my shoulders even harder.
It looked like Raphtalia’s attack power was now stronger than my own defense.
That was good. I could depend on that in battle.
“You want me to just run away? Right now?”
“I’m just kidding. I was just surprised that you are worth that much.”
“But… But Mr. Naofumi…”
She relaxed her grip and looked embarrassed.
“Anyway, Slave Trader, I’ve already decided not to sell her. Who would sell off their own daughter?”
“Don’t worry about it.”
“Even if I behaved like her father, she really only had two actual parents. If I just started behaving like her father, she was sure to hate it.
“Well, that is too bad. Too bad indeed… Now then, what can I do for you?”
“Haven’t you heard all the commotion at the castle?”
He smiled at the question.
“I’ve heard of it. The slave curse has been lifted, yes?”
“If you already know then that makes things easier. And if you already know, then don’t waste our time appraising her worth.”
I’d been on the verge of losing my good graces with her.
“That king’s rash remarks are not going to get rid of slavery in this kingdom. No sir.”
The previous night the king was so upset that I was keeping Raphtalia as a slave that he was going bend the laws to confiscate her. Apparently the only justification was that Motoyasu didn’t like the idea of it.
“Huh? But the royal family doesn’t keep slaves, do they?”
“Ha! The royals buy more slaves than anyone. They find all sorts of ways to put them to use. Yes sir.”
“That idiot Motoyasu! The stupid Spear Hero, did he think that he could say all those things and not end up a hypocrite against the Crown?”
Come to think of it, that really would be hilarious, and it would probably be better for the country in the end.
“Yes, the country is not monolithic. There are many different voices to be heard. If the Crown were to speak out against it, they would be the first ones to suffer from the proclamation. Yes sir.”
“Does the fool really have that much power?”
Yes, the monarchy exercised absolute authority—but that doesn't mean it can do whatever it wants. If the Crown acts against the wishes of the people, there will be riots. Under such circumstances, the royal family may not be able to hold on to power for very long. His little princess wouldn’t be too happy about losing her shot at the throne.
“Yes well, there are people with more power than the king…”
“Um… What about the slave curse? Did we forget about that?”
“Oh, yes, right away.”
The conversation got derailed a little. And besides, if we weren’t going to see the Trash anymore, who cared?
“Yes, so you’ve come to have the curse reapplied, correct?”
“Yeah, can you do it?”
He snapped his fingers, and a servant appeared with the same jar that we had used for the ceremony the last time.
Raphtalia looked ashamed as she removed her breastplate and exposed her chest.
“H…How is it?”
Huh? Why did she look so upset?
And why was she sighing? Did I do something wrong?
Just like the last time, they mixed my blood with some ink and painted the curse seal onto Raphtalia’s chest. The pattern began to shine and glow.
She grit her teeth in pain.
The slave icon reappeared in my field of vision. A window also appeared detailing the rules of use.
I suppose I didn’t need to read it as thoroughly as I had the last time.
Raphtalia had become a slave once again to earn my trust. I needed to believe in her too. Honestly, she really didn’t need to bother with the whole ceremony. It was just a show.
I started mulling over the next steps to take when I noticed the pot of ink,
I reached out to touch it, and my shield began to react.
“Hey, can I buy some of this ink off of you?”
I poured the remaining ink onto the shield.
The shield absorbed the ink.
Slave User Shield: conditions met
Slave User Shield II: conditions met
Slave User Shield: ability locked:
equip bonus: slave maturation adjustment (small) Slave User Shield II: ability locked:
equip bonus: slave status adjustment (small) A Slave User Shield? Hm… well, I guess it only made sense.
I looked at the tree, and it appeared on its own, branching out from the very first small shield. Because of that, it wasn’t very strong. But its equip bonuses seemed promising.
And hey, I’d only dumped a little ink on it, but I still ended up with two new shields.
So all I needed to do was equip the shield for a while to unlock the ability, and then I’d be able to use those equip bonuses forever. It was a great system. The Legendary Shield allowed me to equip all these different shield types, learn their abilities, and then keep the abilities as I moved on through the levels. That was why us heroes could grow stronger than just normal people: our skill tree continued to grow.
I think I had a pretty good handle on the skills, abilities, status boosts, and equip bonuses that the shield had accrued so far. But there were still so many things I didn’t understand, and I was beginning to feel that my mastery of the shield would decide whether or not I survived.
I quietly looked over at Raphtalia.
“What is it?”
That reminds me, I’d let the shield absorb some of her hair. At the time I’d seen something about a raccoon shield, but this must have completed another requirement. That must be what unlocked the Slave User Shield II.
At least, that was my best guess.
Which would mean that…
“Raphtalia, can I use a little of your blood?”
“What is it?”
“I want to try something.”
She tilted her head and looked confused but poked the end of her finger with a penknife anyway. She dripped the blood into the ink pot,
mixed it, and poured a little onto my shield.
Slave User Shield III: conditions met
Slave User Shield III: ability locked:
equip bonus: slave maturation adjustment (medium) Nice! I was right!
“Mr. Naofumi? You look like you’re having a lot of fun over there.”
“Yeah, well, I just unlocked an interesting looking shield.”
I changed my shield into the Slave User Shield and decided to wait for the ability to unlock.
“Now then… Hm?”
We were finished there, so I turned to leave when I noticed a large wooden crate in the corner of the tent. It was filled with eggs.
I’d never seen it before. What could it be?
“What is that?”
I asked the slave trader.
“Oh, that’s a product for our cover business.”
“And what IS your cover business?”
“We deal in monsters.”
His eyes shined when he answered.
“Monsters? You mean there are monster trainers around here?”
` “You are a very clever man. Have you heard of them?”
“I don’t think I’ve ever met one, but…”
Raphtalia raised her hand.
“What is it?”
“Filolials are monsters raised by monster trainers.”
I’d never even heard of a Filolial. I didn’t know what she was talking about.
“Those giant birds around town. The ones that pull carriages instead of horses.”
“Oh, yeah. Okay.”
I’d seen them in town. They were giant birds that were used like horses. I thought they were some kind of animal that existed in this world, but I guess they were technically monsters.
“There was a monster trainer in my village. He had a ranch where he raised different monsters for their meat.”
I guess in this world, farmers and ranch herders, anyone that worked with creatures like that were considered monster trainers. Maybe they just didn’t have the idea of “animal,” and everything that wasn’t human was called a monster.
“So what are those eggs?”
“If the monsters aren’t raised from the egg, they won’t take to human masters well. That is why we sell them as eggs. Yes sir.”
“Would you like to see the monster cages?”
He’d sell anything you wanted. This slave trader was quite the capitalist.
“Nah, I’m good for now. But hey, what is that sign that’s leaning on the egg crate?”
I couldn’t read what was written on it, but there was an arrow pointing to the box, and it appeared to be scrawled with numbers.
“It’s a lottery! One try for 100 pieces of silver, and if you win, you get an egg!”
“That’s one expensive ticket.”
At the moment, we had 508 pieces of silver, which was quite a lot of money.
“Well, they are very valuable monsters.”
“I’m just asking to get an idea, but what were they called? Filolials?
How much do you normally sell one of those for?”
“For an adult? Typically around 200 pieces, but that can go up or down depending on the quality. Yes sir.”
“If you charge 200 pieces for an adult, then I’m guessing a chick is cheaper? And the eggs must be even cheaper yet... Well, I suppose you have to account for the cost of raising the thing, but still. I’m wondering if it’s a good deal.”
“Well it’s not like that, you see. The real egg is mixed in with other eggs.”
“Oh yeah, you did call it a lottery.”
So you could either hit or miss.
So if you pulled a loser, you would get nothing, and if you pulled a winner, you still ended up paying more than you would have in the first place.
“And I’m guessing there aren’t actually any real eggs in there?”
“How dare you? Are you accusing me of unjust business practices?
My dear Hero…”
“Am I wrong?”
“I am very proud of my business. I might enjoy tricking a customer now and then, but I take no pleasure from misrepresenting my products.”
“You like tricking people, but not misrepresentation?”
I couldn’t follow his logic. I gave up on that for the time being.
“And what do you get if you pull the winning egg?”
“I’ll try to make it easy for you to understand, being a foreigner and all. Simply put: a Knight’s Dragon.”
Woah, a Knight’s Dragon? I wonder if that was a class of dragon that knights rode in battle?”
“Is that a dragon that people ride like a horse?”
“Not just that, this one can fly. They are very popular, so the game has been a hit with the nobility.”
“A flying dragon? It was like a dream!
“To buy one on the market you’d need around 20 pieces of gold. They are one of the cheaper dragons. Yes sir.”
“What’s the probability? Just tell me the chances for the dragon egg.”
“There are 250 eggs in the crate, and only one of them is a dragon egg.”
So it was a one in 250 chance.
“I’ve compensated for differences in weight with a magical spell. You must agree to the possibility of drawing a losing egg before purchasing a ticket.”
“You’re quite the business man.”
“Yes, well. Whenever there is a winner I learn their name, and they tend to spread the word around for me.”
“Yeah, but those chances aren’t so great…”
“Well, there is this box over here, and if you buy ten tickets, you are guaranteed to win at least once. Yes sir.”
“Well, I assume there are no dragon eggs in that one?”
“Yes, that’s true, but the prize is definitely worth at least 300 pieces of silver.”
Hold on a second, isn’t this like some online slot machine? C’mon!
These games are set up to make profits for the businesses who make them. And he almost had me for a second there…
Thinking it over, I wondered how far I could progress with only Raphtalia in my party?
Would it be cheaper to buy another slave, or to buy a monster to travel with us?
Maybe I should try out my new slave user shield. Raphtalia was already at a pretty high level, so the maturation adjustment probably wouldn’t benefit her all that much.
But then again, I’d have to raise the monster. Traveling with Raphtalia, the major costs were updating her equipment. But there was a good chance that monsters could fight without having to use any equipment at all. I could use all the additional money we earned on Raphtalia.
“All right, I’ll try it once.”
“Thank you very much! As a show of good will, I’ll excuse the cost of the slave curse ceremony.”
“How generous of you. I like that kind of thing.”
“What is it?”
“Are you buying a monster egg?”
“Yeah, I thought we could probably use another party member. I could get a slave, but they would end up costing more money for equipment. I figured that investing in a monster might be a good way to go.”
“Yes, but monsters can be a real handful.”
“I know that. But don’t you kind of want a pet?”
“Are you sure that you aren’t trying to get a dragon egg?”
“Even if we got an Usapil, I’d be fine with that.”
I kind of liked little animals. MMORPGs often let you keep pets and use them in your party. At the very least, they could be relaxing to have around. And if I could give them orders, like a slave, then they could help out in battle.
We had a little extra money, and I could tell that it was loosening my purse strings. But still, it didn’t seem like a poor investment to me. Besides, if there was a Slave Shield, there should be one for monsters too.
“And if we raise it up and then sell it, we won’t feel as bad as if we’d done the same thing to a slave.”
“Oh okay, I think I understand now.”
Sure, we might get attached, but we needed money—there was no escaping that.
I think selling off a slave is difficult because you know that they are a person. Just like Raphtalia had come back to me of her own free will, if the next slave did the same thing, I wasn’t sure I’d even be able to sell another slave off at all. At least a monster wouldn’t talk. So, even if we did grow attached, I think I’d still be able to turn it over for a profit.
I could just pass it over, and sort of pray that it ends up with a good master. Something like that anyway.
“I’m sure you’d assist me in that, wouldn’t you?”
“The depth of your consideration never fails to impress, Hero. Yes sir!”
He was loving this conversation.
I looked over at all the eggs. He already said that there was a spell on them to make them indistinguishable, so I guess I should just choose one at random.
“I’ll take that one.”
I just followed my intuition and chose one from the right side of the line.
“Look at the symbol painted on the eggshell, and copy it onto the dish before you.”
I did as he said and painted the symbol onto the dish. When I did, the symbol glowed red, and a new icon appeared in my field of vision. It said monster training. Just like when the slave icon originally appeared, a
window also showed up detailing various rules of usage that I could set for the monster.
I selected the option that it would have to obey my orders or face punishment. I decided to make the punishment more severe than what I had set for Raphtalia. That seemed the obvious choice—this was a monster after all. I wasn’t sure if it understood language, so I would have to make sure to put a lot of emotion into my voice when I scolded it. The thing wasn’t even hatched yet though.
The slave trader wrung his hands in delight and brought over a machine that looked like some kind of incubator. I placed the egg inside.
“If it doesn’t hatch, I’ll be back for my money.”
“I tip my hat to you, Hero! Determined to get his money’s worth even if he pulled a losing egg.”
The slave trader seemed to be in a very good mood. Was he some sort of closeted masochist? Not that I wanted to make fun of another guy, but…
actually, come to think of it, I wouldn’t mind seeing those other stupid heroes in a bit of pain.
“Even if it’s just a verbal agreement, I really will be back. If you act like this conversation never happened, my unstable slave here might just cause a ruckus.”
“Hey, what are you expecting me to do?”
“I’ll be waiting for you, yes sir!”
He was in a VERY good mood.
“Just when should I expect it to hatch?”
I passed him 100 pieces of silver as I asked.
“It’s written on the incubator.”
“Let’s see here…”
I saw something that looked like numbers of some kind, but I couldn’t read them.
“Raphtalia, can you read this?”
“Let’s see, just a little bit. It looks like the numbers will be gone sometime tomorrow.”
“That’s fast. Excellent.”
I was getting excited. I couldn’t wait to see what kind of monster hatched from the egg.
“I’m always glad when you pay me a visit. Yes sir.”
I took the egg in my arms, and we turned, leaving the tent behind us.