We had entered the dungeon of the area’s Demon Lord.
Ciel undid the stealth-type skills she employed. Simultaneously, she also transformed into her blue-haired girl form.
There were only visitors here. Rather than try to hide our forms, it would be easier to blend into the crowd.
In such dangerous situations, I usually had Kuina by my side. Her absence now made me feel a bit vulnerable, to be honest. However, I was careful to not let such anxieties be apparent. After all, Ciel was doing her best to fill Kuina and the others’ shoes and I didn’t want to put a damper on her determination.
“My Demon Lord, no matter what happens, I’ll protect you. Leave ~pyui~ everything to me.”
“Alright. Thanks, Ciel.”
I said so while brushing her head.
“Uuu, that tickles. Don’t treat me like a child, please.”
She said so in a tone that might suggest she didn’t like it, but the happy expression on her face suggested otherwise.
She might act like an adult, but considering that it hasn’t been long since she was born, it was no surprise that she liked being praised and pampered.
“Heyy bro, look at this fine babe I bought. Just holler at me if you want to have a good time with her. If you want to save money, I don’t mind swappi– wha– waaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh”
The middle-aged drunkard that called out to me then ran away. Or rather, stumbled away.
“My Demon Lord, you know it’s easy to misjudge your strength and end up killing ordinary humans with a single punch, so please exercise a bit more restraint.”
“Yeah, sorry. People disrespecting my girls just always gets to me.”
“We can’t afford to stand out right now, alright? That said, I appreciate the sentiment.”
Her arms crossed, Ciel said so.
I couldn’t help but smile wryly at that.
Goes to show how much growing I still have left. What was I thinking, taking a drunk seriously like that.
“Should we go check up on Cumin and Ahri?”
“No need. A splinter of myself is with them right now. Because this splinter and I have shared vision, if anything bad were about to happen to them, I would know. Plus, even though it’s just a splinter, it’s the splinter of a high-rank slime, so it can defend them up to a point.”
“How reliable. If that’s the case, let’s go collect some information, shall we?”
If we were to negotiate with the other Demon Lord, I wanted to have as much information as possible. To that end, Ciel and I toured the place for a little while.
Yup, this is a city, alright.
I thought so to myself after a bit of walking around with Ciel.
By paying money, the guests could enjoy the exhibits that made use of the women offered as sacrifices. If the guests were willing to pay more, they could not only look, but experience the exhibit themselves. The more they paid, the more unspeakable the act they could do to the women.
These guests were ordinary humans. Ordinary humans that were seeking to satisfy their carnal desires, that is.
The Demon Lord probably didn’t care about the money, but by collecting the fees, the dungeon could be better outfitted which then meant more guests.
Looking closely, many of the guests were undeniably rich-looking, some even seemed from noble families. Most likely, in exchange for giving such VIPs pleasures deemed immoral by human society, these guests allowed the Demon Lord certain conveniences.
It was a great plan, but as someone who also made his dungeon a city, I just couldn’t help but dislike it.
Seeing so many girls here led me to wonder how the villages could sustain their numbers if they were forced to give sacrifices regularly.
It wasn’t that deep of a mystery though. The women, being treated as they were, would sooner or later become pregnant. The children born from such circumstances would be forced upon the villages.
And because monsters sometimes also laid with the women, some of the children were what would be called demi-humans. Cumin and Ahri were likely descended from such children. Which could be a cause for the discrimination they were being subjected to. Then again, if this practice has been happening for centuries, the existence of these individuals with mixed heritage shouldn’t be shocking anymore, and thus should be less of a factor.
It shouldn’t, but, well, these are humans we’re talking about…
“This place really disgusts me”
“Quite the vast difference with Avalon, isn’t it? Avalon is a place where humans and monsters could peacefully coexist, but this place is nothing but a place to exploit the humans. …Ah, oh no, Cumin and Ahri are in a pickle. An auction is about to begin.”
“An auction? They’re really treating them as nothing more than objects, huh. Heck, some objects might even be more valuable here.”
An auction meant the sisters could fall into the hands of some other men. That must not happen at all cost.
We hurriedly finished our intelligence gathering headed their way.
How should we go about this? Break up the whole auction? No, there’s no need to go wild yet. Then, why not make use of being guests and participate as one?
Ciel led the way. Her splinter that was with the sisters acted as a beacon that made her aware of their location.
It didn’t take long for us to reach the place.
The auction was being done in this dimly-lit hall.
The sacrificial women were being kept in cages. All of them were chained by the neck. Once their name was called, their chain would be pulled, forcing them to follow.
Prior to being brought here, the girls were bathed, dressed, and made up lightly.
After a while, the auction finally began.
According to the explanation given to the guests, the girls couldn’t be taken home even if they were won through the auction. However, as long as it was within the premises, anything could be done to the girls. Even killing them was no problem.
Alternatively, the winner could also demand to make the girls be exclusive to them.
While trembling, some of the girls prayed.
The most they could hope for right now was to be won by a kind enough man.
On the other hand, the worst outcome they could have was if no one bid on them at all. Not even at their opening price. Should that happen, they would be branded as women of no value and would then be used in the worst of ways.
Before the first woman to be bid for was presented, a demonstration to show the fate of an unbought was held.
Firstly, a tiger monster with a penchant for humans was brought in. They explained that once it has violated the woman as much as it wanted to, the tiger monster would then proceed to eat the woman.
So, despite being violated like that, the woman tried her best to keep the tiger monster going in order to preserve her life. However, in the end, the monster ate and killed her.
The men that watched the demonstration simply jeered. In stark contrast, the women within the cages were shaking with fear more so than before.
After the first girl was sold, the others quickly followed.
Those that did not get any bids were desperately pleading for anyone to change their minds. One among them ripped up her clothes and tried to seduce the men while tears flowed from her eyes. The scene from earlier made her this desperate.
Meanwhile, the men who saw that woman only laughed, as though it was all part of a comedic show.
This is too repulsive. Are humans really this atrocious?
At the moment, a massive amount of intense emotions was swirling around the auction hall. The emotions wrung from both the men and the women were not unlike those intense emotions in a battlefield, the kind most Demon Lords liked.
Given the same number of people, such density of emotions could never be achieved by Avalon.
If this much was being absorbed by this dungeon’s Demon Lord regularly, there could be no denying that that Demon Lord was strong.
If so, even if I wanted to destroy the place right away, I should be discreet for now or risk being the one to be destroyed.
After a while, it was the sisters’ turn.
“Now, my good sirs, we present to you something extremely rare: girls with the blood of fox monsters. What’s more, they’re sisters! Observe their sisterly love! How they care for each other, how they protect each other. On top of their extraordinary beauty, think of all the fun plays you could have with such sisterly love. And so, let us begin today’s top item!”
As the auctioneer stated, the sisters shielded one another through embrace as they trembled.
Perhaps in an effort to drive their value higher, the sisters were offered as a set.
And it would seem that it worked. The lustful men were captivated by the sisters’ remarkable beauty and bid higher and higher. They had already surpassed the day’s highest bid so far, but they were still going.
“4 million Bars!”
“5 million Bars!”
“I bid 6 million!”
“Damn… 6.7 million!”
The rich men bid one after another, and a bizarre frenzy filled the place.
However, given the smaller increments, the limit to their budgets seemed to be near.
About time I made a move, then.
After all, I was also a participant of this auction.
The moment I heard there was going to be an auction, I was convinced I could rescue the fox sisters peacefully.
And so, I raised my hand and declared an amount.
“Ten million Bars.”
At that, the surrounding crowd quieted down, only to grow noisy again after a bit.
In this despicable city, the richest of men from all over the continent have gathered, but even for them, spending ten million Bars for two women was a little too much.
Given that the increments weren’t even reaching half a million anymore, I could have stated a smaller value. However, in order to make them give up right away, I decided to make the price skyrocket.
When I declared the amount, Cumin and Ahri both looked my way. In order to calm them down, I met their gaze and smiled. Thankfully, it seemed to work.
“10… 10… 10.5 million”
To my surprise, one of the men decided to continue competing.
This particular man has purchased all of the exceedingly beautiful women showcased so far. He was adorned from top to bottom with things of undeniably high-quality. He had money, that much was certain. However, adorning oneself with a bunch of expensive things didn’t necessarily mean that they would look great. In this case, he was actually quite unsightly.
Based on his appearance, I could safely say he was a very vain person. So, most likely, he made another bid not because he really wanted to have the sisters, but rather just so that the others wouldn’t see him being outbidded by some unknown face.
“20 million Bars”
At that, the man’s jaw dropped.
He seemed to want to bid again, but the people who looked like his servants stopped him.
It would seem 20 million was finally too much of a price. Nobody else seemed to want to bid higher.
That made Ciel smirk.
“But, my Demon Lord, do you even have the money?”
“I don’t, but I’ve seen it being exchanged earlier. Have you forgotten about my ability?”
Each Demon Lord had an ability unique to them.
Mine was [Creation].
It allowed me to materialize anything within my memory in exchange for an amount of magic power that was proportional to the object’s mass.
I had never seen this world’s money before coming to the auction, but here, it was being used left and right. In other words, as long as I had the magic power, I could produce them as much as I wanted to.
Additionally, the gold coins of this world were worth 100 silver coins. My [Creation] didn’t care about the rarity of a metal, or any object for that matter; its only concern was how much it weighed. So, in order to preserve my magic power, I would rather produce a single gold coin than produce a hundred silver coins.
It was not wise to materialize the coins out in the open, so I produced it within a bag I prepared just for this.
“N-no other offers? Then, the girls go to that sir there for 20 million bars!”
By bidding such an extraordinary amount, I became the center of attention.
Even so, I proceeded to where I was told to go and paid the amount I bid.
…I’m attracting not just attention; I feel some hostility too.
When I looked at the crowd, I saw the man I bid with staring at me menacingly.
I then saw him grab a humanoid monster and whisper something to that monster.
Yeah, I can tell where this is going…
People like him were a dime a dozen, so I had grown accustomed to dealing with his type.
We exited the auction hall.
There, I removed the chokers attached to the sisters’ necks.
“Sorry it took me this long to release you two.”
“Unbelivable… I mean, I believed in you with all my heart, but it’s still so unbelievable that you came for us. I’m so, so happy right now.”
“Sir Demon Lord’s an amazing person! Ahri likes you so much!”
The two must have been really scared, if the pitiful state of their previously pretty fox tail was anything to go by. However, now that the cause for concern was gone, their tail’s fluffiness was quickly coming back.
Well, to be precise, only the immediate cause for concern was gone. I might have won in the auction, but they were still forced to remain within the city.
For the meantime, we should get the girls something to eat.
I thought so and looked toward Ciel.
But when I did, a lion that had countless snakes for a mane jumped at us, or more accurately, at me.
Ciel didn’t react. She didn’t need to. This much of a threat was nothing, after all.
Instead, I opened my coat. It was more so to avoid damaging my clothes, but that action revealed the 12 blade-only knives stored within.
In the next moment, those knives flew at my attacker. Each one was clad in magic power and was oscillating at high speeds. The result: the attacker became nothing more than minced meat.
“Attacking me with such a weak monster insults me.”
The 12 knives hovered around me in formation as though it was protecting me.
To be precise, these weren’t knives; they were actually a single golem.
A multi-body flying automaton. This one was designated the codename ED-06K Aegis. That pertained to blades as well as the golem core that acted as both power generator and artificial brain.
The blades had the enchantments of [Acceleration] and [Rendering]. At its maximum output, the knives could fly at twice the speed of sound, and could easily cut even orichalcum.
Most worthy of mention though was its aforementioned artificial mind. For one, it could control each of the 12 blades even if they were traveling at full speed. Moreover, if it detected any threat to me, it would use its blades on its own to protect me, regardless of whether I myself detected such threat or not.
This was a self-protection equipment Rorono made for me. Be it an attack from an A rank monster or from dozens of regular C rank monsters, I was safe.
“Sir, even though we aim to please, please follow at least the minimum of the city’s rules!”
At the same time as that declaration, I instructed the Aegis to send out two of its blades while holding back the rest.
The two knives flew toward the vain man, who was peeking from a distance away. This pierced his shoulders and also pinned him to the wall.
There was a shriek, and I was surrounded by the monsters protecting the dungeon.
They didn’t show any sign of attacking though.
And then, a humanoid monster that wore a suit and also had the wings of a bat walked toward me.
“Dear guest, we are terribly sorry.”
“Just an apology after you’ve attacked a paying guest? I’ve obtained these girls legitimately—did everything according to your rules—but here I find myself unable to enjoy them in peace. Is this the way things are here?”
“It is as you say, sir. However, I’d like to explain that that employee acted on its own. Its actions do not reflect the intentions of our lord in any way. …even so, my lord would like to offer an apology.”
“The employee acted on its own? That is a sorry excuse if I ever heard one. Still, I am willing to hear this apology. Lead the way.”
While I couldn’t say everything went according to plan, we still accomplished the goal of meeting with the other Demon Lord. Furthermore, this chain of events should put the other party in a bit of debt toward me.
I wonder what the Demon Lord behind this atrocious city looks like… in a way, I’m quite looking forward to meeting him.
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