As I drank my coffee I looked out at the forest in front of me. Still having no idea what was going or how I was here.
Sasha was always a rather quirky girl but I chalked it up as a difference in cultures. Not that she was from another world. Why she signed up for the army as a nurse I’ll have no idea. But when I was stuck in the hospital her smile always made my day. I was stuck in rehab for months due to my injuries. But the second I could start moving again I asked her out on a date.
Though it wasn’t much of a date. We mainly just talked outside about our lives before the war and what we had planned for after the war. She wanted to become a nurse and have a family. I wanted to start my own business as an electrician. Being a fighter pilot was cool and all but after my last accident, I wanted to stay grounded for a while.
As I got better, we went out more and more enjoying each other’s company. Then when it was time to head back home with the ending of the war. We decided to get married.
Though we sealed the deal rather quickly I never regretted it. Together we made a life and family that became my light, staying on even after she was gone.
But now some goddess or whatever was threatening my family? No, that was not something I would stand for. I had a god damn frigate! I was going to use this hunk of metal to make her rue the day she fucked with my family!
As I sipped on the last of my coffee I saw a little green man come out of the trees and start yelling at me. I ignored it as it came closer with its spear screaming at me. I pick up my rifle and shoot it before it can get closer and finish the last of my coffee.
I then hop down and get back on my bike as the hangar bays close. Speeding back towards the settlement I had seen earlier. Reaching the tree line I see a number of soldiers investigating the bodies of the men I killed earlier. Loading the dead on a cart and gathering the horses that were scattered about.
I decide to avoid them and follow the treeline until they are out of sight before heading to a nearby road. With current road technology, it was still smoother to go off-road. About an hour later I found a peculiar sight. It appears to be a caravan that was under attack by bandits of some kind.
I came to a stop about 100 meters out and fired my rifle into the air. This easily gets everyones’ attention. THey look spooked as I park my bike and walk towards them with my rifle in hand. At first they just stand there frozen not sure what to make of my appearance.
The frozen atmosphere is broken as one of the biggest less dressed of the idiots doesn’t get the threat charging towards me. I rolled my eyes as I put a hole where his head was.
The bandits then looked at me in fear before running away into the woods. While the caravan crew looks at me in awe and suspicion.
I put my gun away and pointed to myself.
I then point at them. Some start shaking but the boss of the group comes forward and addresses me.
“I nd Lorando, gusjje fiejd for sofhf us.”
I nod my head as I can still barely understand the conversation.
“Jsea can we sspfg you?”
I just needed a couple more conversations and my damn translator should start working. Not understanding me he beckons a young woman over who chants a mantra. When she is finished I feel something come over me. Fearing she just did something to me I pointed my rifle to her head.
Lorando jumps in front of the rifle and starts speaking.
“Wait! Stop I can explain. You can understand us now right.”
Confused, I lower my rifle and holster it.
“She cast some kind of spell or something to make it possible for me to understand you?”
Seeing that he can understand me as well he nods his head.
“Yes, she is a mage of my caravan and helps me communicate with people in different countries. May I ask where you are from Sasha?”
“Not anywhere near here and nowhere where you have been or heard about.”
At this, he seems disappointed with my answer. But looking at my bike he nods his head.
“Okay then, can I thank you in any way then Sasha?”
Information is what I need. It might be in my best interest to stick with him for a while. Just to see if I can learn more about this world. I’m especially interested in the magic that the girl used earlier.
“Let me join your caravan for a while. I’m looking for information and you need some help. Seems like a fair trade?”
At this, he seems happy but also wary about my true intentions.
“Why are you asking me for information? Have you not passed any of the towns around here?”
“I have but they won’t have as much information as a merchant would. You see I got in an accident recently and I now find myself to be quite lost.”
“Well, extra help is always appreciated. You’ll have to tell me how that weapon of yours some time though.”
“Trade secret I’m afraid.”
I hop off my bike and walk over to the injured men on the ground assessing the situation. Couple of bruises, a couple of concussions, and a few stab wounds. Everyone should be fine but the way one guy was treating his friend made me twitch in irritation.
The bandits… I could care less one was on the ground screaming from a stab wound in his chest and it was starting to piss me off.
“Are we capturing or can I just kill him already.”
Lorando turns to me and shakes his hand nonchalantly.
“Try to save them but by the looks of this one he’s a goner just finish him off already.”
Looking at the man crying for mercy. I bend down cutting away the clothing around his wound. Cleaning it with some water from my supplies I dig through my bag for my medkit.
“PLEASE JUST KILL ME ALREADY!”
“Shut your trap you wimp I’ve seen people survive much worse.”
Looking at the wound it’s low enough it shouldn’t have hit his lungs. Cleaning it I prep my needle and thread quickly sewing the wound shut before applying a medical slave to the wound. Lifting him up slowly I start to wrap his chest in gauze covering the wound. I then put his hands in front of him and zip tie his hands together.
As I appreciate my work I take a step back and look around at any others that could need help.
A man had a major wound in his arm and was trying to apply pressure to it, but the way he was doing it he would bleed out before it stopped.
Taking a tourniquet I apply it as he screams out its pain. The blood starts to slow though and after cleaning it up I stitch up as best as I can before applying another medical mixture to it and bandaging it up. I then take off the tourniquet and zip tie his hands as well.
Dragging both of them to the wagons I drop them off in front of Lorando who looks a little shocked.
“Didn’t think you knew medicine, Sasha. Though they don’t look too good. They won’t die in my wagon will they?”
“They just lost a lot of blood but now that it has stopped it. They should be fine in a couple of days.”
He looks at them unconvinced before telling his men to load them in.
“Alright if you say so. Hopefully, they both recover before we reach town so I can sell them off.”
Hearing his as he walks off I’m guessing they aren’t collecting them for their bounties so much as they are for slave material. Seeing them loaded I catch sight of cages and other imprisoned people. They all look to be in different shapes but I don’t care and go back to my bike. I was in no position to tell him how he did business and I honestly didn’t want to know.
I then follow the convoy for the rest of the day keeping tabs on how they act with each other, my ship, and our surroundings.
The rest of the day goes by smoothly. As the sun begins to set they start to set up camp. I offer to check on the injured making my way into the wagon where they were being kept.
Looking around I see a plethora of different species from young to old chained inside of metal cages. Reminded me of some of the prison camps I had heard about during the war.
The two guys I had treated were still too weak from blood loss but one of them was mumbling about not wanting to be a slave or something. Though I had my sympathies it was better than being dead and he was trying to steal from a caravan.
I tried to ignore the scene of all the other people chained up though as I left the wagon. I wasn’t completely heartless. Especially when it came to children, but I knew I had to keep up appearances at least till I got some more information.
Walking over to a campfire I let Lorando know the bandits are still stable. Sitting down next to him as I prepare to interrogate him.
“So where am I?”
“You’re in the middle of the kingdom of Kaldaria. We’re headed for the city of Calain which is about four more days ahead of us. We just left the capital of Lostren. The area seemed to be in a buzz of energy when we were leaving. I think they are preparing for a festival. From what I could gather it had something to do with some ceremony the royal family was doing.”
“How was business in the capital?”
“Pretty good, sold about three-quarters of my inventory. I intend to see the rest in Calain before heading for the frontier for more.”
“By inventory, I’m guessing you’re talking about slaves.”
I try to keep the disdain out of my voice but I notice it had seeped through.
“Of course it’s a very lucrative business if you know what you are doing and they are always in demand. Why? Guessing from your tone you don’t like the slave trade.”
“No, I don’t, there are much more profitable ways to exploit manpower then through slavery. But I know why people do it and that there is enough incentive for you to partake in the trade.”
He ponders my words for a minute as he listens to me.
“How do you exploit people then where you are from then if slavery is so ineffective.”
“Perpetual debt slavery, people buy what they want off credit and pay way more than the original cost in interest. They are free though to live their lives without someone telling them what to do which increases their productivity. The master of the debt also doesn’t have to pay for their food or shelter making it cheaper for them, and the government makes more money off people as they would have to pay taxes as well. So it’s in the government’s interest to ban slavery for their own profit. But it’s not easy to set up and I know that most slaves aren’t just used for manual labor so there is not an incentive to change the system.”
He rubs his chin as he listens to me.
“You sure do come from a strange place. But it is an interesting idea. What are you though? I thought you were a mercenary based on your weapons, but now I’m not so sure.”
“Just a veteran, businessman, and history buff. I’ve got a plethora of skills and knowledge from years of experience. Now I’m just looking to find my family. They were caught up in my little accident as well and I need to find them.”
He then looks confused upon hearing my words.
“My ears wouldn’t be failing me, would they? But, you don’t sound as old as you are making yourself seem. Unless … you don’t happen to be a demihuman by any chance.”
“No, I’ve been human as long as I can remember.”
“Could you take off your helmet then? I’d like to see for myself.”
“Why would that be? It shouldn’t matter to you.”
“I would care to disagree, is it too much to ask to see my benefactor’s face?”
I grunt in frustration before reluctantly agreeing and lifting my helmet up.
“Well, are you happy?”
“I am, but I didn’t think that your armor contained such a beautiful woman inside. I’ve never seen such red hair and purple eyes except from people from the royal family.”
I put my helmet back on trying to keep my hair inside my suit as I do. It was way longer than I had ever kept my hair before and was a new issue for me. Maybe I should get it cut.
“Must be a coincidence because I’ve never met or heard of them.”
“Then would you mind performing a magic affinity test?”
“An affinity test?”
“Yes, we can see what magic you have an affinity for. While you can use other magic your affinity is the easiest to use.”
Magic seemed useful enough so why not let him test mine out.
“Sure wouldn’t hurt to try.”
He then walks over to a wagon and pulls out a large crystal and brings it over to me.
“Stick your hand over the crystal.”
Looking at it with skepticism I follow his instructions and hover my hand over the crystal. Doing so I feel a strain on my back and start to feel a headache come over me. It quickly stops though as I put a hand to my head.
“Interesting, you sure you aren’t from the royal family?”
“How would I be if I never met them.”
“Were you a bastard?”
“Whatever you say, but with your hair, eyes, and affinity I would try to stay away from any nobles if I was you.”
Showing me the crystal he smiles.
“You’ve got an affinity for space magic. One of the rarest magic affinities on the continent and from the way this thing is shining you got a high affinity at that.”