Volume 01: Reaching enlightenment in all the wrong ways (3)
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The shame! The shame! The shame! With my stupid assumptions that when the [Slave Collar] is put on you, you become a slave. I have literally become a slave willingly! Ugh! I feel like a heroine in a harem! How can I ever live with myself?!?! * sob *


Suddenly I hear Kuina talking about collecting herbs to meet the daily quota…WHY IN THE WORLD WOULD I CONTINUE ON DOING THIS WILLINGLY!?!?!


Then I realize something...rushing things is exactly what got me in this situation in the first place! I should for now continue things as-is, then come up with a strategy going forward. If I rush things now again, I’ll get myself in a deeper hole.


So I reluctantly agree, and we resume our hunt for herbs. While I try to think of what I should do moving forward, that becomes impossible as all my head is filled with embarrassment and self deprecation. I am stressing out so much that even finding herbs has become rather difficult. By the end of the day, I just barely managed to get the 15 herb quota.


After reluctantly surrendering my dinner to the thrilled foxkin, and barely managing to get some sleep with all the floating thoughts of what just happened. The next day I finally managed to cope with it, at least to an extent that allowed me to think properly...hopefully…


So while me and Kuina travel through the forest to collect herbs, I come up with a plan on what to do going forward. As much as I would love to leave this place ASAP, I have no place to go. And no way to secure food. And since I am not being used as bait, I can easily stock up on skills from both monsters and the middle aged man’s group. I noticed from Kuina that level is not everything, and skills play a big role too. So the fastest way to get stronger is to increase my skills. If anything, I can run away any time.


So all I have to do is pretend I am still a slave...guuuh! So simple..and yet...so hard… Oh I know! I’ve been mind controlled by a super evil magician! That’s right an evil mind controlling magician! And now that I have broke free of his mind control I need to fake still being under control to exact my revenge! That’s right! There is no way I would willingly become a slave without some sort of mind control, damn you evil magician! I’ll get you for this muwahahahahahahaha! As I subconsciously begin to let loose an evil grin.


Noticing that Kuina is giving me a strange look...I adjust my posture and move on with my planning. Now that I know that I’ll stick here for at least a short while, until I exact my revenge on the evil mind controlling magician, I can move forward with my plans.


Other then gaining of skills, there is 2 things I can do in the short term. The first thing would be retrieving my dagger. Now that I have [Item Box] and can’t receive a random [Order] to hand everything over. The other thing I can do is stock up on herbs. While Kuina is watching me, I can still manage to sneak in a few herbs from time to time while she isn’t looking or claim they have been accidentally damaged. That should be fine for the short term until I come up with more long term plans.


With that in mind, I begin to head towards where I hid the dagger while collecting and sometimes secretly snatching herbs as I go along.


The tricky part here is how to get the dagger without Kuina noticing. I doubt the old fashioned “I gotta use the restroom” trick is going to work in an open field that I hid the dagger in. Talk about my plans backfiring! So I’ll have to go for the 2nd oldest trick in the book despite it being more risky. But I don’t have much of a choice.


When I get to the clearing where I hid the dagger, I pretend like I notice something and begin digging.


“What the hell are you doing? Don’t tell me that now that you think you have a nose of a dog, you now also have the urge to bury bones like a dog?” she inquires.


* sigh * I knew this was gonna happen...but as long I can secretly sneak the dagger in my [Item Box] without her noticing, I am willing to take a slight hit to Kuina’s high evaluation of me.


“No! I think I noticed something an just wanted to check it out! It doesn’t matter as long as I make 15 herbs right?” I retort.


She shrugs like she does not care and I continue digging. Though I am careful not to dig out the dagger completely and that a light layer of soil remains. When I get to that point and I confirm the dagger, I prepare for phase 2. Which involves distracting Kuina so that I can quickly take out the dagger and store it.


“Look Kuina a monster!” I exclaim while franticly pointing at a direction behind Kuina.


Kuina stares at me…




She isn’t turning around at all…About a minute passes and my finger begins to lose strength under the pressure…


“Do I look like an idiot to you?” Kuina questions while knitting an eyebrow.


“Ahmm… No?” I respond.


“Do you think I did not notice you secretly stashing away herbs while we are walking here? I am not blind you know! And now let me guess you are trying to bury them right? I don’t know how your retarded brain works, but tell you what. If you surrender 5 more days of your larger food portion, I’ll look the other way.” said Kuina.


Somehow I get the feeling my evaluation has dropped to an all time low… Even I know that if herbs are left alone without being processed they begin to lose their quality, and this does not even include things like worms and other insects which eat decaying foliage... I can deny this ridiculous notion here and now, and clear my good name… But I can’t do that without revealing the dagger... So my only option… is to play the retard...guh!


I hesitantly nod and Kuina lets out a grin.


“I didn’t see anything, you have 5 minutes” she notifies me as she turns around.


I quickly retrieve the dagger and store it in my [Item Box]. Then cover up the hole.


I finally got the dagger! I should be happy... I really should... But somehow I feel empty... I have this nagging feeling like I lost “something” that I could never take back during this exchange…


With my shoulders drooped in feelings of utter humiliation and extortion… we finish up the herb gathering quest and we return to base.


When we enter the base, we are greeted by Ryo.


“Took you long enough, report to the boss and get ready for tomorrow. We are leaving the base and heading north, the boss plans to do 2 quests from the guild on the way. We won’t be back for at least a week if not more” he announces.


Following his instructions, I report to the boss by showing the quest details and handing over the money. Then again reluctantly exchange dinners with the rather pleased Kuina and turn over for the day in mental exhaustion.


The next day, we were lined up outside the base and given supplies to carry. This time all the beastkin were brought along, though the middle aged man’s companions were not present.


We traveled by the road heading outside the village by foot while the middle aged man drove a horse for about a day. We then set up camp in the forest. The beastkin including me were assigned shifts for night watch in groups of 3. While the middle aged man slept in the tent.


The next morning, we were briefed on the subjugation target this time around. It was the [Woodland Ant Queen]. Unlike typical ants that tend to make burrows, [Woodland Ants] build their nests around trees. Though like other ants, when you have a queen, you also have worker and soldier ants. Since this is a new colony, the numbers should be relatively small, but still too many for a single adventurer to deal with. Especially if the queen decides to run while the soldiers and workers buy time. Since unlike typical ants which build nest burrows which they guard with their lives, [Woodland Ants] have no issue abandoning their area if need be, making them a tricky target to subjugate.


The plan this time around is that the bait will lure the soldier and worker ants away. While the middle aged man will sneak in from the side and kill the queen. The role of the trackers is to coordinate the bait with the exception of me who will help the middle aged man avoid conflict before he reaches the queen. Something about me being too retarded to do something as complex as coordination...grrr!


With that, we set off into the forest and begin tracking the [Woodland Ant]’s nest...