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/elit/ - Erotic Literature
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Hiraeth OP!T1tXaJv9os 19/08/16(Fri)03:09 No. 26149 ID: b49468

Another story I've been working on, I'm posting it while I deal with writer's block on Roommates. Yes, I have about a dozen different stories, three of them full-length novels, all going at the same time. This is the only one that fits in /elit/ though.

Tags: isekai, medieval fantasy, slavery, bondage, sex, interspecies romance, Stockholm syndrome, medieval economics, politics

The following contains scenes of adult situations and graphic violence not suitable for minors. Reader discretion is advised.


To say I was someone dissatisfied with life is an understatement. I was never a very happy person. As a child, I had few friends, and most of the ones I did have either moved away at some point, or stabbed me in the back. It still irritates to this day, every time I remember how my 'friend' Jason bragged to me about selling his buddy Ron a damaged copy of Tomb Raider he knew didn't work... and he'd actually sold it to me. He wasn't just an asshole for selling me a game he knew was too scratched up to play, he couldn't tell me and Ron apart from each other. We were interchangeable. I'd thought he was my best friend, and that's how little I meant to him.

High school was a drag. I consistently had the highest grades in my class, all while barely putting any effort in. Between my being a nerd and everyone else being jealous of my grades (seriously, I had a straight A average and the second best kid struggled to maintain a B average. The American education system is a joke. School is nothing but a convenient place to warehouse children while their parents are at work, with the added benefit of being government indoctrination centers. The actual education part is a distant second in terms of priority.), I got picked on a lot. I mean, a LOT. The one and only time some asshole tried to get physical with me, I kicked his ass. I'd been taking karate lessons since grade school, but I didn't even use any of that; I just knocked him to the ground after he hit me, then beat his face in with a rock. I, uh, might have gone a little overboard. To be fair, he started it, and I had YEARS of pent up anger and frustration, and I was well and truly sick of his shit by that point. Once I was done being suspended from school (I honestly think the only reason I wasn't expelled was because I had singlehandedly raised the GPA for the entire class and it made them look good), everyone knew what had happened. So they ignored me. Instead of constantly mocking me, messing with my desk, and basically being jerks, they simply pretended I didn't exist. I was fine with that. I just sat in the back of the class and read science fiction and fantasy novels all day; the teachers didn't care, so long as I kept acing the standardized tests they passed around every month or so like holy writ.

Then off to college. I got a useless degree in history, racked up a massive amount of student loan debt I had no hope of paying off for at least a decade, went on a few casual dates with female acquaintances and then got to hear the 'let's just be friends' speech every time, joined a fraternity where half the guys thought I was awesome (because I could write an A+ research paper for $20 the night before it was due) and the other half barely tolerated my existence, blew a three foot crater in the lawn outside the cafeteria with some old fireworks, and went out into the real world.

The real world sucks. For those of you who are still young and in school, no, it doesn't get easier. It never gets easier. Life is one long, painful trudge, where you can't wait for the torment to be over, then when it finally ends and you move on to the next phase of your life, you discover that the previous one really wasn't that bad in comparison and now the REAL pain has begun. The only easy day was yesterday. I spent a couple years trying to get a job with my degree, only to discover that nobody gives a crap about a history major unless you have a PHD. At which point, you simply go into academia and give lectures to kids trying to get a history degree. Actually, now that I think about it, most college degrees are like herpes; they exist solely to be passed on to others. Herpes with $100,000 in student loan debt backed by the government, so you can never get out of it even if you declare bankruptcy, flee the country, or do anything short of dying. You're a wage slave for life, hurray!

I bounced around from job to job, trying to find SOMETHING that would turn into a decent career that paid well enough to support me. Yeah, no luck. At least not until I realized that instead of college, I should have gone to a trade school and learned to weld or something. Seriously, those guys make bank. So I signed on and became an electrician. Worked my ass off basically being a construction worker all day, bending pipe, mounting boxes, pulling wire, digging trenches, that sort of thing, and then went to school at night studying to become a journeyman electrician. I hated math as a kid, but discovered it wasn't too terrible when you could actually use it for something other than passing a mind-numbing standardized test; Ohm's law, voltage drop, junction box capacity, amperage, it was all kinda cool, and most of it I ended up using on the job. It was still hard work, and I was years away from becoming a journeyman and making decent money, but it paid the bills. Most of them. Well, at least the ones that kept the lights on and my car fueled. My third-hand, five year old car driven by a single mother who had no idea what an oil change was or why all the lights on the dashboard were lit up. But hey. I was 28 years old, and if things weren't great, at least they were better than being stabbed in the eye. Most of the time, anyway. Sometimes I was undecided on whether or not an ice pick to the eyeball would really be all that bad in comparison to how my day was going.

I still had no social life. Very few friends I could see face to face, and most of them lived on the opposite side of town, so they were hard to hang out with. Plus they had lives of their own, so our schedules often didn't work out. Zero luck in the romance department too; the only female coworker I had was a black lesbian (who was actually pretty cool, but in no way a romantic option), none of my friends knew any single women, and when I spent a year or so going back to church, I hopped from church to church hoping to find one with a solid singles group. They all consisted solely of men. Literally every female I considered even remotely eligible was married. My dad actually urged me to ask out the single mom living in the apartment next to mine; sorry, I'm not going to raise somebody else's kids, nor am I going to clean up somebody else's shitstorm of a life. She's a single mom for a reason: she makes terrible life choices. Oh, online dating? Yeah. Any halfway attractive woman I messaged never replied. Not. A. Single. One. The ones who messaged me first? Every one was either a ham planet covered in sixty tattoos, or, you guessed it, a single mom with two mulatto kids looking for a sugar daddy to clean up the explosive shitstorm that was her life. No thanks.

So, all in all, I wasn't a happy person. Some days were more tolerable than others, but they were usually the ones where I just sat in my apartment watching anime or some scifi show that went off the air years ago, or reading a book. I picked up a few hobbies here and there; I built Gundam models, my past with karate led me to join a medieval martial arts group and learn how to fight with medieval weaponry (I had a functional zweihander, but still couldn't afford a full set of armor; and it was really hard finding someone who would make a functional wheellock pistol so I could complete my Thirty Years War outfit.), I went camping, hunting, and hiking on a regular basis, and since I didn't have a girlfriend to sponge money off me I spent the rest of my disposable income (which there wasn't a lot of to begin with) on guns. I love guns. I have rifles from both World Wars, and several other major conflicts. I considered getting into historical reenactments, but buying the uniforms and all the equipment was just too expensive, much like my armor. But these were all pretty much just solitary hobbies. My only real time spent interacting with people was on the internet.

I went to the chans, of course. I could shitpost with the best of them. I visited various hobby sites and forums for gun enthusiasts, militaria hobbyists, and scifi nerds, and avoided social media like the plague.

But the website I spent the most time on, of course, was Hiraeth.

Hiraeth is a Welsh word with no exact translation into any other language, but it roughly means a deep longing or homesickness for a place that may not even exist. The banner for the forum has an astronaut, in spacesuit, standing in the middle of a field of flowers with the text "homesick for a place I'm not even sure exists". The owner went by the name Saudade, a Portugeuse word roughly meaning "a nostalgia or sad longing for a place, person, or time period that no longer exists and you can never return to". His avatar was an astronaut laying on a bare mattress next to a bottle of antidepressants. Saudade often went on long rants about how "we could have colonized Mars by now, but noooo, we had to pay for the welfare state instead!" Or "did you know we had the technology to build an O'Neill Island 3 space colony in the 1970's? And the cost to build a space colony capable of housing over a million people and producing all the food and air they need to survive is less than we spend on welfare every year? Our infrastructure is crumbling, our space program went from walking on the moon to bragging about sending the first gay, transsexual, black, Hispanic, Muslim, paraplegic Eskimo into orbit... on a Russian rocket, because our space program doesn't even launch its own fucking rockets anymore." Yeah, I remember his exact rants because they were all the same. My screen name was Sehnsucht, incidentally. If you're wondering what it means, just look up hiraeth or saudade and you'll get the idea, but in German. My avatar was a man being abducted by a flying saucer with the text "I want to leave".

Everyone on the forum was someone like me: someone dissatisfied with their life, longing for another world, an alternate reality, a might-have-been. We discussed alternate history; what if Hitler had won World War 2, or the Roman Empire hadn't broken up and collapsed, or India had discovered the wonders of indoor plumbing. We discussed what the modern world might be like if we'd actually developed all the cool technology from the 60's and 70's, like gyrojet pistols, the Orion Project (a spaceship that flies by farting out nuclear bombs; it's awesome, look it up), space colonization, Ronald Reagan's idea for a space defense system, or the HK G11. We discussed fantasy worlds, like those of Tolkien, Burroughs, Lovecraft, or how basically any story is a better love story than Twilight. Essentially, we discussed anything that would distract us from the real world we hated so much, and the alternate realities we would much prefer to live in.

It was an entertaining way to pass the time, chatting with likeminded losers who hated their lives, getting into passionate arguments about history, the future, and more. But that's all it was; a distraction. Sooner or later, usually around midnight, I'd have to tear myself away from the computer and return to the real world.

One day, I logged into Hiraeth to kill some time while getting ready for a camping trip. I had a three day weekend, and I'd promised to take my nephew camping; it wasn't his fault my sister (his mom) was a stupid whore and his dad was an absent, dope-dealing dipshit, and if anything his childhood sucked harder than mine had, so I played the responsible uncle and tried to give him some happiness in life. He wanted to go camping, and I said yes. He also wanted to shoot my Luger and Mauser broomhandle, which I also said yes to; partly to try to infect him with a love for history and firearms, but mostly because I knew his mother would be pissed off when she found out later.

All my stuff was already packed into my massive, army-surplus ALICE backpack, and I was just waiting for my sister to drop the kid off at my apartment so we could go. She probably wouldn't even come knock on the door or say hello, just kick him out of the car and drive off so she could go do whatever it is irresponsible dipshit women do in their spare time. I seriously feel sorry for that kid.

So I started browsing Hiraeth, noting irritably that my sister was running half an hour late already, when I noticed I had a private message from some guy who went by Mephistopheles. I'd seen him post once or twice in some of the bigger threads, but I didn't think I'd ever interacted with him directly.

The message was simple: "Not happy with this world? Why not try living in a different one?" There was a link at the bottom.

Curious, I clicked the link. It opened another browser window.

"What sort of world would you like to live in?"

There were a bunch of different categories. Prehistoric, medieval, steampunk, dieselpunk, futuristic scifi, and more. Once you picked a general genre or time period, another list of options popped up narrowing it down even further. Region, time period, magic, technology, or both, politics, religion, high fantasy or low, hard science or soft, and more.
What is all this? A survey? A browser game of some sort? I glanced at the time, checked my phone to see if my worthless sister had ever responded to any of my texts asking where she was, and shrugged. Why not? Might as well kill some time.

So it specifically mentioned that my 'new world' wouldn't be an exact copy of a real time or place, but 'the closest thing available'. Whatever that meant. So for region, I selected central Europe, and I fiddled with the time period, politics, religion, and other settings to try to roughly approximate the Thirty Years War, which took place from 1618 to 1648. I'm not going to explain it at all to you, go read the Wikipedia article or something. I wanted magic, but not too powerful compared to technology. It also asked if I was ok with 'fantasy races'; assuming that meant things like elves and dwarves, I said yes. It even wants me to pick a language to be proficient in; I pick some nonsense word that comes with a descriptor "a language spoken by nobles, clergy, and those from well-bred, well-educated families", rather than another nonsense word claiming to be "the common tongue". I guess I just picked the fantasy equivalent of medieval Latin.

Having wasted a good twenty minutes fiddling with the settings and texting my sister another two times to ask where the hell she was, I was more or less satisfied with the settings for 'my world'. The game or whatever it was was a bit scant on the actual details, but assuming it actually generated a game world similar to my settings, it should actually be an interesting way to waste my time. God knows that's all I've done with my life so far, whether I wanted to or not.

I clicked the button acknowledging that I was done with my settings and a new notification popped up.

"You will now be transported to the world you have specified. Are you certain you wish to proceed?"

I was sure it was either going to send me to a browser game or infect my computer with a virus, but I pretended it was really going to magically transport me to another world. Why not. I was bored and getting increasingly frustrated with my sister failing, yet again, to take others into consideration and try to show up when she said she would.

Ah, but if it's a psuedo-medieval fantasy world, shouldn't I be prepared? Rolling my eyes at my own antics, I fetched my fully functional zweihander off the wall and put on my backpack with its seventy or so pounds of equipment and consumables. No, I do not pack light for camping trips; I like to come prepared, the surplus equipment I can afford is often heavier than the ultra-modern backpacking gear, and I work in construction so I don't mind the weight. Then I paused a moment.

What's the most valuable thing I could bring with me back to the 1600's? Modern technology like my phone or computer would be worthless without a way to charge them, and there'd be no way to copy them with the technology of the era. I pulled my grandfather's silver pocket watch out of my desk drawer, hooked the chain to my belt loop and stuck it in my pocket; they had clocks in the early 1600's, but the pocket watch didn't catch on until the very late 1600's, early 1700's, and even then took several more decades to become available to commoners rather than the wealthy. Introducing a 'modern' pocket watch (from the 1880's; my grandfather had bought it used, obviously) to that era and then copying its design could prove useful. But what else?

My eyes roamed my desk and shelves of nicknacks, models, and junk, and I spotted a dusty stack of twenty or so aluminum coins. Each one had a different Olympic athlete on it, and they'd been minted to commemorate the Olympics about ten years back. Someone had given them to me for free, and once I'd ascertained they had next to no collector's value, they'd been gathering dust on a shelf ever since. But they were aluminum.

Aluminum, as a metal, hadn't been discovered until the early 1800's, if I remembered correctly. Alum had been known since ancient times, of course, but nobody knew aluminum was a metal until quite recently, historically speaking. While aluminum is one of the most common elements in Earth's crust, it is almost impossible to find it naturally as a pure metal. Unlike copper or iron, you can't just heat up the ore and get pure metal to melt out of it, you have to purify the aluminum chemically or with electricity. Until the very late 19th century, when a new method of purifying it was discovered, aluminum metal was exceedingly rare and much more valuable than gold. Napoleon III was rumored to have served honored dinner guests with aluminum utensils, while less favored guests had to make do with gold. The capstone of the Washington Monumen was the largest piece of cast aluminum in the world when it was made. In 1867, when mass production of aluminum began, it was valued at 300 French francs per kilogram, or a little over $80 in the same period. In the 1860's, a blacksmith working 60 hour weeks earned around $10, so he'd have to work for eight weeks straight, without spending a single cent of his income on food or other necessities, to purchase a kilogram of aluminum. Gold at the time was about $20 per ounce, so he'd earn four ounces of gold in the same time period. A far cry from earlier, when aluminum was more valuable than gold. An ounce of gold today is between $1,400 and $1,600. A Colt Model 1860 Army revolver was $60 at the time, but that was because the company was price gouging the Union army since there was a massive demand for pistols during the Civil War. A pack horse was about $25, but a high end riding horse would go for as much as $75. A plantation slave, in the prime of his life and ready to pick fields of cotton, went for around $800.

So my aluminum would be extremely valuable if I took it to a time and place resembling 1600's Europe. I picked up the stack of coins and stuck them in a side pocket of my backpack. Why not? I could show them to my nephew and give him a lesson on the history of aluminum and how the cheapest, most common metal in the world was once the rarest and most valuable. Maybe he'd like the coins more than me.

That done, I hit the "yes" button on the browser.

"WARNING: Once you go to the world you have specified, returning will be extremely difficult or impossible. You may never see your home or loved ones again. Do you still wish to proceed?"

What's this? It's really acting as if I'm about to be transported to an alternate reality?

Amused, I click "yes".

"FINAL WARNING: You cannot undo this. If you continue, you must live with the consequences of your decision. Do you still wish to proceed?"

Boy, they're really milking this for all it's worth, aren't they. C'mon, get to the game already. Unless you're telling me there is no game and this is all a stall tactic to delay disappointing me with the revelation that there is no game, or there is but I have to pay to play. I mean, I'm just wasting time screwing around right now, so I wouldn't be too terribly disappointed.

I click "yes" and my ass immediately hits the ground as if my chair vanished out from underneath it.

My mouth gapes open in shock for a moment as my eyes go from the dim glow of my computer screen to a bright, sunny day outdoors. My butt hurts, as if I'd just dropped from a seated position to the ground while wearing a 70 pound backpack full of camping gear and a broadsword slung over my shoulder. In fact, that's exactly what happened.

I'm outdoors. I'm sitting in the middle of a dirt road in the woods. My brain bluescreens for a moment.

Is that you, John Wayne? Is this me?





Am I camping with my nephew now, and I somehow forgot everything between now and when I clicked "yes" on that stupid browser game? Did I have a stroke? What?

I look around, but I don't see my nephew anywhere. I glance at my watch and... it's only a couple minutes since I last looked at my watch. I stand up, with some difficulty due to the backpack and giant sword, and pull my phone out of the cargo pocket of my pants. It confirms the time displayed by my watch, and the date.

What the hell? How did I get here? Where is here? I unlock my phone and... no signal. Of course. I open up the GPS function, since that doesn't need cell service to work, and... no signal. It's a clear day, perfect weather, and I'm out in the open, how is there no signal from the satellites?

Irritated, I jam my phone back into my pocket and look around. I slap my face once or twice, then rub my hand against a tree. Yep. This is all real. I'm not hallucinating. Possibly someone slipped me some drugs and dropped me here as a prank, but I'm thinking no.

So how the hell did I get here? Unless...

No. Not possible. That sort of thing can't happen. At least, not outside of a bad seasonal anime or fanfiction.

Beginning to grow seriously pissed at whatever or whoever is responsible for this, I doublecheck all of my gear. It's all here. And my HK USP Compact pistol is still holstered on my hip. I have a concealed carry license and I'm in the wilderness, so it pays to be prepared. Except now I have to factor in possible kidnappers too. I rearrange my shirt and the camouflage army jacket I'm wearing so the pistol is more exposed and easier to get to. I also make sure I have a firm grip on my zweihander I have resting on one shoulder; that's going to get old real quick. I don't have a sheath for it, and even if I did the sword is too large to draw from a scabbard quickly or easily if I'm surprised by a wild animal or resourceful kidnapper with a penchant for bizarre pranks; historically, soldiers carried them just as I was doing, unsheathed and resting atop one shoulder. But I'm not a medieval soldier. I'm an electrician on a camping trip. And if someone was going to magic me into a forest somewhere as some sort of demented joke, why bring the giant sword along?

I look around me and all I see are trees and the dirt road stretching off in front of me and behind me. There's nothing to see in either direction. The sun appears to be the right height for mid-morning, agreeing with my watch, so that must be east. I pull out my compass and confirm. Then the road heads roughly north and south. North is the direction I was originally facing when I arrived here, wherever here is. So, having nothing better to go off of, I shrug and start walking.

I check my phone every ten minutes or so, but still no phone service or GPS signal. I've been walking for over an hour and there's been nothing but trees the whole way. Just as I start to consider turning back and heading the other direction, the trees start to thin out; I'm either coming to a clearing, or the edge of the woods.

Stepping out, I pause. It's definitely the edge of the woods. Ahead, I see open fields gradually transitioning into the squares and rectangles of farmland. And ahead, in the distance, what appears to be a city or town. There are lots of buildings, anyway. I check my phone again, grimace, and put it back in my pocket. Onward and upward, I suppose.

It's not until I've covered about half the distance between the woods and city that I encounter an actual person. He is the very picture of a country bumpkin. His clothes are made of undyed cloth, stained and threadbare, with a straw hat and a weed or something sticking out of his mouth that he's chewing on while eyeing me with casual interest. He must be the farmer, I suppose.

He shouts what sounds like a friendly greeting, but consists entirely of gibberish. His accent is weird; it's not quite German, maybe Italian? I didn't understand a word of it.

"Hello there. Do you speak English?"

I'm greeted with a blank stare.

"English? No?

He slowly eyes me up and down, apparently paying great attention to my clothes and the massive sword on my shoulder, then takes his ridiculous hat off and bows.


Then he straightens and says something apologetic sounding.

"So you don't speak English? Where is this?"

He shakes his head and says something else that still sounds like an apology.

"Se habla Espanol? Sprechen sie Deutsch? Russki? Nihonjin? Ching chong ping pong? Any of this make sense to you?"

He looks at me helplessly, then points at the town.

"Yes, I see it. Town. Could I maybe get a ride the rest of the way there? This backpack is really heavy."

I'm greeted with a blank expression.


I imitate driving a car and he gives me the same blank look.

"Ok, you look dirt poor, maybe not a car. Horse? Do you have a horse?"

I whinny like a horse and pretend I'm riding one. He makes an expression of sudden understanding... then shakes his head and says some gibberish that sounds suspiciously like what someone would say if they were telling me they didn't have a horse, but there was a language barrier between us. Probably because there was a language barrier between us and he didn't have a horse.

"Ok, no ride then. Looks like I'm walking still. Great. Thanks. Have a nice day, Farmer Brown," I say, giving him a wave as I walk on my merry way.

"Where the fuck am I?"

I'm still pondering that as I approach the city. Yep, it's definitely a city. Complete with a wall and a massive, wooden gate at the road. There's two guys wearing kettle helmets and dull, but rust-free, breastplates and holding spears standing on either side of the gate, looking bored. They watch, unmoving, as I slowly trudge my way up the road to the gate until I finally get about twenty feet away.

One guard says something in gibberish to me and I shake my head, hoping to convey that I don't understand.

"I don't suppose you guys speak English either?"

The older of the two guards straightens up and says, in broken English, "Speak Hratchan. Some. You travel?"

"Yes, I'm traveling. Where am I?"

The guard looks at me with a slightly confused expression, briefly says something in gibberish, then answers, "You know city?"

"Sure. What city is this?"

"Girdan," he responds, with a soft g and somehow both dragging the word out and cutting it short. Like an Italian saying "buongiorno", but without the exagerrated arm movements.

"Girdan. Ok. What country is this?"

He looks at the other guard for a moment, then replies, "Country?"

"Yes. What country is this?"

"Is principality of Ossetria. You no know that?"

"No. I'm a traveler. I've never been here before."

"What is business, of travel?" He points at my zweihander. "Sell sword?"

Is he asking if I came here to sell my sword? Or if I'm a sellsword- a mercenary? I shrug as casually as I can and reply, "No. Is there an inn nearby I can stay at? I'm very tired."

In point of fact, I could have walked for several more hours, even under my heavy load, but I wanted to rest and get my bearings. And especially find out what the hell was going on and where I was. I was beginning to suspect this was all real and not an elaborate prank.

"Inn?" The guard looks me up and down, seeming to focus on the clothes like the farmer had. "Want good inn. No bad inn, get robbed. Boy come, show you."

He shouted something unintelligible and a boy of about seven or eight, barefoot and filthy, ran out of a nearby doorway set in the wall near the gate. The guard pointed at me and said something curt, then gestured for me to follow the kid.

"Go boy. Show you good inn. Good day, lord."

"Uh, good day to you too. Thanks."

He mumbles something vaguely like a dismissal and returns to his spot by the gate, eyeing the other guard and gesturing at me with his chin. The other guard, who hasn't spoken a word the entire time, shrugs and goes back to staring disinterestedly at the farmer's fields in the distance.

I follow the kid, who seems to be leading me through progressively nicer looking streets; the people gradually get cleaner, more colorful clothing, and the buildings are in better condition, larger, and more elaborate. The architecture definitely seems authentic to Europe around the 1600's.

I don't see a single sign of modern technology; no street lights, no cars, nobody is on their phone, no power lines, no satellite dishes, nothing. Everything looks authentic. Am I really in some fantasy universe? How did I get here? None of this seems real. It's like I'm stumbling through an exceptionally vivid dream.

I try asking the kid a few questions, but he just looks at me and shrugs in a way that seems to convey 'sorry, I don't understand'. Ok, the guard spoke some broken English, but nobody else here does?

Eventually we arrive outside a three story building. It honestly looks pretty neat. It has all the squares and angles of medieval European architecture, a slate roof, whitewashed exterior, wooden shutters on all the windows. There's even some ivy growing on one corner of the building. It looks like something straight out of a Renaissance painting.

The kid points at the building, then runs off back in the direction we came from. I guess this is the inn.

Stepping up to the door, it took me a moment to figure out how I was even supposed to open the thing. Instead of a door knob, the door was simply a smooth plane of polished wood. There was a string hanging out of a hole in the center of the door that I initially assumed was tied to a bell, but when I pulled it, instead of a bell ringing I heard a wooden scraping sound on the other side of the door.

Oh, it's a string latch. There were a variety of methods of securing a door before door knobs were invented in the late 1800's, and this was one of the most common. It made sense. When you needed to open the door, you pulled the string and it lifted up a lever that was barring the door shut, allowing it to open. When you wanted to prevent someone from opening the door and coming inside, you simply pulled the string inside; locks were expensive.

Feeling pleased with myself for having figured it out quickly enough that nearby witnesses wouldn't think I was some kind of idiot who couldn't figure out how to open a door, I stepped inside and shut the door behind me. As I pushed it closed, the wooden lever dropped back into position with a loud CLACK and barred the door shut. Seems I was right.

I looked around the room. It was fairly well lit by the open windows on two sides, none of which had glass in them, but there was a chandelier with a half a dozen lanterns hanging from it in the center of the room and several wall sconces with candles, I guess for when it got dark outside. The right side of the room had several wooden tables with benches, and a couple smaller tables with chairs. A cat was sleeping on one of the smaller tables, basking in the sunlight, and an old man was seated at another, intently carving a little wooden figurine of some sort. The left side of the room was taken up by a long bar, behind which stood a man wearing a full length apron, polishing some stoneware mugs. There was a set of stairs in the back of the room, and a doorway leading into what looked to be a kitchen area next to the bar.

I walked over to the bar and set my sword down, leaning it against the countertop. The man raised one eyebrow as he looked at it, but didn't comment.

"Uh, is there a room available?"

"Ah, you speak Hratchan. Good day, m'lord. Yes, I have rooms available. Not very many guests at the moment, so you can have your pick of rooms, if you like. How long will you be staying?"

I pondered that question for a moment. I also thought about how I was going to pay for a room. I had about $100 in my wallet to pay for anything I needed on my camping trip, but I was pretty sure he wouldn't recognize American dollar bills as viable currency. I was also quite certain he didn't take Visa. The coins in my pocket amounted to less than a dollar, and were probably considered worthless here; in 1965, we switched from silver coins to copper coins clad in nickel, and in 1982 even our pennies quit being made of copper and were instead copper-clad zinc. The only 'real' money I had on me was a silver dollar I habitually carried as a good luck piece.

Digging it out, I pass the silver dollar to him and ask, "How long will this get me?"

He raises his eyebrow again and examines the coin closely.

"Mmm, very fine detail, well made, but I've never seen a coin like this before. Do you know its composition?"

"Nine-tenths silver, one-tenth copper. It's from my homeland."

"Ah. That would explain your accent. Well..." He bounces the coin in his palm a couple times, feeling the weight of it. "Assuming the composition is true, this would get you a week, plus meals."

"I see. How many meals?"

"Breakfast is only for guests staying at the inn, and is served from just before sunrise to an hour after sunrise. Dinner is served an hour before sunset to an hour after sunset. Lunch is at noon, but costs extra."

"I see. I don't think I'll need any meals for the moment," I say, thinking of the food in my pack. It's enough for me and my nephew for three days, so it should last one person a week, particularly if I skip lunch.

"Very well. One moment."

He ducks under the counter and I hear what sounds like a box full of change rattling around. He pops back up and hands me half a dozen silver coins. They're about the size of a quarter, but really thin. The edges are scalloped; one side has the bust of a man on it, presumably the local monarch, and the other side has some text I can't read. Since he asked me what the metal composition of my coin was, it's probably a good idea to ask him about these.

"Four-tenths silver, six-tenths copper."

As I thought. A silver dollar isn't just a bigger coin, the silver content is higher too. Because of the national debt many kingdoms in Europe went into following the Crusades and a series of other wars over the span of several centuries, the silver content of most coins was repeatedly devalued, to the point that many 'silver' coins contained less than 10% silver. It wasn't until the introduction of the Joachimsthaler in the early 1500's, which was both larger and had a higher silver content, that European currencies began to standardize again and regain the value they had lost. 40% silver content isn't too bad, all things considered.

He leads me up to the second floor and shows me a couple of rooms; they're all about the same, so I just pick one and settle in. He gives a slight bow as he backs out of the room, shutting the door behind him.

The door uses the same string-latch mechanism as the front door to the inn. There's a bronze deadbolt to bar the door and I can pull the string inside to prevent someone from coming in, but I don't see a way to prevent someone from entering my room when I'm not there. I'm not sure how I feel about that. Not good, obviously, but how prevalent is theft here? The guard said I wanted a good inn so I wouldn't get robbed, and this place certainly seems clean and upscale, but that doesn't mean someone won't just come into my room and steal my stuff.

I glance around the room. There's a window with no glass, just wooden shutters. A simple bed with a thick pad for a mattress, and a wool blanket. No pillow. There's a small table or writing desk next to the bed, upon which is a beeswax candle in a holder. There's a small wooden chair under the table, and a simple rug by the bed. Looking around, I see a pair of coat hooks by the door and a sliding door leading into what I assume is a closet. No, there's a small wardrobe next to it, so maybe it's the bathroom?

Sliding the door open, I look into a small, dark room. There's a shelf on the wall with a metal basin, full of water. A bench is mounted on the back wall, with a hole in the center; below the bench is a wooden bucket. There's a small stack of rags on the bench.

Ah. Yep. It's the bathroom. I wonder who's responsible for emptying the bucket? I don't think they just toss the contents out the window into the street; this place is too upscale for that, and the streets outside were too clean. Nor was there any sort of stench outside.

Putting aside the question of sanitation for the moment, I lean my sword against the wall, take off my backpack and set it on the ground, and sit on the bed. After several long minutes of trying to process everything that's happened in the last several hours and staring blankly at the door, I pull out my phone.

No cell service. No GPS signal. No text messages. Internet access unavailable. Battery at 71%. I shut my phone off to save its battery and stick it back in my pocket. I stare at the door for several more minutes, the wheels of my mind spinning but going nowhere.

Then I freak out. It's undignified and I'll spare you the embarassing details, but there was lots of swearing and I bruised my knuckles on the wall once.

This was real. I was really here. I had no idea how I got here, or how to get back. I might be trapped here forever. I wasn't particularly fond of most of my family, but I would still miss them if I never saw them again. How long will it take them to notice I'm gone? How will they react? When will they give up any hope of my returning and resign themselves to assuming I'm dead?

I freak out again.

I'll never get to watch tv again. Drive a car. Shitpost on the internet. Listen to talk radio. Go to the movie theater. Enjoy air conditioning. Eat pizza. Take an ice cold soda out of the fridge and drink it. Hell, I'll never see a can of soda again, outside of the handful in my backpack.

Can. Aluminum can. Aluminum.

Holy shit.

I need to be thinking about how I'll survive here. There can't be much, if any, call for electricians in this world. Manual labor won't pay much; they have serfs, or maybe slaves, for that. Being literate and educated won't help since I'm not literate in any language here, apparently, my history education applies to history in my world, not this one, and the science and math I know are centuries ahead of their time and won't put food on the table. I'm a pretty big guy, I have a broadsword and a couple pistols, maybe I could hire myself out as a mercenary; ammunition is very limited, and I'm sure my hobbyist skill with a sword is nothing compared to professionals who actually fight with swords for a living, so that may not be a viable option either. Not a long-term option, that is, since I could very well be killed in my first battle. Hell, a flea bite could kill me with the black plague.

No, my skills and education probably won't support me, not until I do a lot more research about this world and its conditions. I need information. But first, and more importantly, I need a source of income to keep me alive until I find something I can do long-term to support myself. And if skills and education won't do it, then selling off what I have will.

And I have a stack of aluminum coins in my backpack. Holy shit. Grabbing those on a whim might actually have saved my ass.

Briefly thinking that's just the sort of contrived coincidence you see in isekai light novels, I chalk it up to divine intervention. I dig out the coins, then stick my backpack in the bathroom and hide the sword under the thin mattress. I tuck my pistol, which nobody seems to have noticed this whole time, back under my shirt, drop the handful of coins into my coat pocket, and step out into the hallway.

Yep. There's no way to lock the door while I'm gone. Other than sticking the string through the hole, at which point I would be locked out of my room with no way to get in. There's a little tin sign with text painted on it hanging on the door that wasn't there when the innkeeper showed me the room; I assume it says 'occupied' or something similar. Glancing at the symbols carved into the wall next to the door and assuming they're my room number, I dedicate them to memory and walk toward the stairs. A glance at the other rooms shows that my guess about being room numbers was right, as each one is different.

Returning to the lobby/dining room on the ground floor, I walk to the counter where the innkeeper had apparently finished polishing his stoneware and was now amusing himself with something that looked like a game of tic-tac-toe that used colored stones on a wooden board. The old man is still carving his wooden figurine in the corner.

"Excuse me?"

"Yes, m'lord?" the innkeeper said, looking up from his game immediately and straightening to attention.

"Is there a place nearby that exchanges money or deals in high value merchandise?"

Not seeming especially surprised, the innkeeper comes out from behind the counter, opens the front door, and points to the right.

"Go that way, take the second left, and there will be a green building with a statue of a lion in front. They deal in loans, exchange gold for silver, and sometimes purchase things like jewelry or mirrors."

Thanking him, I step outside, commit the inn and its surrounding landmarks to memory, and note its direction on my compass. It would be awful if I went looking for a high-end pawn shop and ended up not being able to find my way back to the inn where I'd left my stuff.

Walking along, I carefully observed my surroundings. Most of the buildings here seemed to be shops of some sort; glancing inside their open doors or windows, I could guess what most of them were. A candlemaker, a seamstress, a cobbler, and... I think that one sells pottery. I also take note of the people. Most of them seem well dressed, though some are wearing more flamboyant colors than others, and a few men are walking with swords or daggers on their hips. None of the armed men are wearing armor or any sort of uniform, so I assume they're carrying weapons either as status symbols or in case they get mugged. In any case, nobody seems to have a problem with someone being armed inside the city. The guards at the gate didn't seem particularly phased by my sword either.

Not everyone looks well dressed though; I note several people in stained, patched clothes like the farmer I met, all of whom seem to be on some sort of urgent task rather than leisurely walking along like the better dressed people around them. One is carrying a bushel of wheat into the back of a business; maybe it's a restaurant, or bakery. I also notice several people wearing simple, short tunics of undyed cloth and a collar or choker around their neck; most of them seem to be women, but there's one or two men dressed like that. Some are walking about on their own and apparently shopping, but others are clearly accompanying someone else. I say clearly, because they have leashes attached to their collars. Leashes held by much better dressed individuals. One man, wearing a tunic just short enough to make it clear he isn't wearing underwear, is carrying a heavy box full of what look to be bolts of cloth, while a woman in a bright red dress and elaborately curled hair leads him around on his leash. I'm guessing slavery really is a thing here... unless there's some BDSM club in the area, but I find that unlikely. One man, dressed in tights and a shirt with puffy sleeves and frills and a frilled collar that simply had to be seen to be believed, was leading a woman in an equally nice dress around by a leash; her hands were bound behind her back, but every time the man stopped to examine a storefront, she preened a little and was clearly enjoying the attention from male passersby. Ok, either that was definitely a fetish thing, or she's some sort of high-end slave being paraded around as a status symbol to show how wealthy the man is. I even see one poor girl completely nude, save for her collar and a pair of lace-up sandals, trotting behind her presumed owner, arms bound behind her back and trying to keep up with his much longer strides so he doesn't tug on her leash. The only attention this seems to attract is the appreciative gaze of a number of men enjoying the view before returning to their business. It doesn't seem to be an unusual enough sight to elicit comment or undue attention from anyone.

Huh. So this is that kind of place. I wonder what sort of slave economy they have. In ancient Rome, a male slave averaged around 500 silver denarii, and an attractive female slave could go for as much as 6,000 denarii. When the Roman denarius was first introduced, it was roughly 95-98% pure silver and about 4.5 grams. A US quarter minted before 1965 weighed 6.25 grams, and was 90% pure silver. So a silver denarius was roughly worth the same as a US quarter, maybe a little less. Four quarters equaled 0.715 troy ounces of silver; all US silver coins, when added up to one dollar, equaled 0.715 ounces of silver. So if a male slave, presumably for manual labor, was 500 denarii, that meant the price of a male slave was roughly $125, if the amounts of silver involved were roughly the same. The denarius was repeatedly devalued over its existence, after all, so the price in silver might actually be less if we're talking about silver dollars. A female slave, a very attractive one, going for around 6,000 denarii, would be $1,500 in silver dollars. Assuming I was doing the math in my head right, and the silver content of the two coins was roughly identical. A good looking girl, obviously purchased for purposes other than toiling away in a field, went for ten times as much as a man in the Roman Empire.

But this is a medieval setting. By the Middle Ages, the value of silver currency had dropped due to devaluing of the coins, Roman gold mines were tapped out and new sources of gold hadn't been discovered yet, so the value of gold to silver skyrocketed. At the same time, the value of slaves fluctuated. A male slave cost around 15 ounces of silver, or $21 in silver dollars, and a female slave cost more than double. Not nearly as big a price difference as during the height of the Roman Empire. A tenth of an ounce of pure gold, a coin the size of a dime, would buy you two girls, or four men.

On the other hand, slaves in America were much more expensive. Many Europeans came to America as indentured servants, especially the Irish, and were essentially considered disposable. Black slaves, on the other hand, were slaves for life and wouldn't be freed once they'd paid off their debts like an indentured man, so if a black slave got injured or killed while working, his owner was out of a great deal of money. The average slave in the 1800's cost around $800 in silver dollars, and since the entire purpose of slaves in 1800's America was manual labor, particularly picking cotton, men were actually valued slightly more than women. Nobody was buying Africans as sex slaves.

In the modern world, blacks are still being sold as slaves in Africa and the Middle East, and cost anywhere from $80 to $300. Since coins are no longer made of silver, the dollar doesn't convert over directly, but the last time I checked, silver was about $15 per troy ounce. So if a slave sold for $80, that would convert to... just shy of $4 in silver dollars? That didn't quite sound right, but I was getting confused doing the conversions of different weights and purities of silver and dollar amounts in my head. In any case, modern slaves are ridiculously cheap, at least for 'disposable' African slaves. I'm sure some beautiful girl from Eastern Europe being sold as a sex slave in Israel (human trafficking capital of the world, everyone) would go for thousands, if not tens of thousands, of dollars.

So if this world has roughly the same conditions as Europe in the 1600's, then slaves should be fairly cheap. But they might not be. I selected a world roughly analogous to central Europe in the early 1600's, but it clearly isn't identical. The politics, economy, history, and everything else is sure to be very different. I've seen about a dozen female slaves and only two male slaves so far; either female slaves are more common, or I'm simply in the wrong environment to see more male slaves. Men would be performing manual labor in the fields, building houses, or other difficult, dangerous jobs, while women would be domestic servants working in the house or personally tending their master, cooking, cleaning, fetching, that sort of thing. And sex slaves. There was always that. And I am 100% sure that's what the poor naked girl and the well-dressed slave were.

If there's slavery, where do the slaves come from? Are they captured in war, imported from other countries, or do they have a population of slaves whose children are also slaves, meaning there's always a ready supply? If this place and time is roughly analogous to the Thirty Years War, then either there's a major war going on, or one about to erupt. War means captives and plunder, which means slaves. Could that be where they come from?

Oh, there's the green building with the statue of a lion in front. While I was distracted by all kinds of useless information about money and slavery (thanks, history degree!), I seem to have arrived at my destination.

Stepping up the door, I look for the string, but there isn't one. There is a knocker, however. I knock on the door three times and wait.

Moments later, a balding man in white tights, a red coat with tails, and a poofy collar answers the door, looking down his nose at me with a polite, but distant air. He's the very embodiment of the sort of person you picture when you hear the name Jeeves.

"May I help you?"

"Yes, I hear you exchange goods and currency?"

"Indeed, you've come to the right place. Come in, my lord, come in."

He steps aside to let me past, then closes the door behind me.

"Who shall I announce, my lord?"

Why does everyone keep calling me lord? Do my clothes look that fancy? I'm wearing cargo pants, a t-shirt, and a camouflage jacket, not tights, polished brass buttons, silk, and frills. Maybe my clothes are so unusual they assume I'm some foreigner, or a wealthy eccentric? They're clearly higher quality than what the peasants are wearing, so maybe that's it.

"Roland. Roland Schulz."

"Very good, my lord. Please have a seat here, while I announce you. Would you care for some refreshment?"

"Yes, please. I've come a long way."

"Then if you'll excuse me," he says, bowing slightly and leaving the room.

I'm seated on a stuffed chair in a parlor just off the front room. There's an identical chair opposite me, with a low, polished table in between. The walls are paneled wood for the lower half, and white plaster molded in a floral motif for the upper half. The ceiling is also plaster, with gold trim here and there. The room is lit by a pair of tall, narrow, glass windows; the glass is transparent enough to see through, but everything is foggy and distorted. Assuming their glass technology is on par with my world's from the same time period, these windows are expensive, but not top tier.

The butler, valet, or whatever he is returns with a silver tray containing a small bunch of grapes and a hunk of cheese, and a pewter cup containing wine. I'm not much of a wine person, but I'm thirsty and don't want to seem rude, so I accept it gratefully.

Another man enters, dressed in the same tights-and-poofy-frilly-coat fashion as the man leading the high class slave around, and I stand up politely to meet him.

"Oh, please be seated, my lord. I've heard you've come a long way, so please relax."

"Thank you."

"I am Giros Bertinelczik, the owner of this establishment. What business do you have for me today, Mr. Schulz?"

"I'm interested in exchanging a coin of high value for some money of lesser value, that would be easier to spend."

Giros' mannerism and polite expression didn't change in the least, but I suddenly got the impression he was disappointed and perhaps thought I was wasting his time.

"Of course. We do engage in that sort of business. Just one coin, you say?"

"Yes," I reply, unwilling to admit to owning a large number of what are probably very valuable coins here. If the value isn't as high as I expect, I can reveal that I have several more aluminum coins for sale; if the value is higher than I expect, it would be best to hold on to most of them so I'm not taken advantage of or robbed.

"Very well. You have a large gold coin you wish to exchange for silver?"

I pull an aluminum coin from my coat pocket and hold it up.

"You'll have to forgive me, I'm from a very far away land and I've only just arrived in this country. How valuable is aluminum here?"

"Aluminum?" he asks, apparently confused. He reaches for the coin when I proffer it to him and takes it, seemingly startled at how light it is. He examines it closely, then seems to get more interested.

"Is this silver-from-clay?"

Silver-from-clay? Maybe that's their term for aluminum. It was originally extracted from alum and clays rich in aluminum ore.

"We call it aluminum where I'm from. It's a rare metal, doesn't tarnish, and is very light."

"Yes. Yes, I see that. It's very difficult to fake. I'm certain this is the real thing," he says, rubbing the fluted edge with his thumbnail and visibly excited. "And you wish to exchange this?"

"If I could. I'm afraid I don't have any local currency, and would like to acquire some."

He places the coin on the table and sits back for a moment, hands resting on his knees, apparently in thought.

"I'm afraid I don't have quite enough money on me at the moment. Would you perhaps be willing to sell me half of your coin?"


"Yes. I can arrange for immediate payment for half of the coin now. Or, if you would prefer to sell the whole coin, I can have the rest of the money in a week or so."

I consider for a moment.

"Would you be willing to pay me for half now, and the other half a week from now?"

"Of course! However, I would only be willing to part with half of the money now if I got to keep half of the coin."

"That's understandable. I don't think that would be a problem. But how much money are we talking about, exactly?"

Giros replies, without hesitation, "One hundred talos."

Jeeves, or whatever his name is, looks startled. Is that a lot? Or is Jeeves reacting because his boss is lowballing me?

"Mmm. Could you perhaps do a hundred and twenty?" I ask, seeing how far I can push this. I have no idea what a talos is worth, or even what the cost of goods is, beyond a silver dollar apparently buying a week in an inn, with change left over. Is a talos one of those silver coins I got back as change? If that's the case, then aluminum isn't worth as much as I thought. But Giros said he didn't have enough money on hand for the whole coin, so it seems like a talos should be worth more than that.

Giros looks pained. Jeeves is looking at me with astonishment, as if he can't believe I'm so greedy. Either they've really practiced their routine, or I really am asking too much. But how much is a talos worth?

"I'm afraid I don't have quite that much available, at the moment, my lord."

He doesn't offer me a slightly higher amount. I guess it's not open to negotiation.

"Very well. One hundred talos."

Regardless of whether or not a talos is a little or a lot, it's more local money than I've got right now. And I've got 19 more aluminum coins, so it's alright if I get screwed on the price of one. Assuming he's lowballing me, a talos isn't worth very much, and aluminum may or may not be as valuable as I think it is here. But he's willing to cut the coin in half and acquire it, so it has to be worth something. Dammit, how much is a talos worth?

Giros snaps his fingers and Jeeves leaves the room. I sip more wine and finish off the piece of cheese, while Giros leans back in his chair, hands clasped around one knee, and waits expectantly.

No more than five minutes later, Jeeves returns with another man in tow. The man is carrying a little table with what looks like a vice mounted on it. Jeeves passes Giros a small cloth bag.

Giros, accepting the bag, dumps its contents onto the table and looks at me.


Holy shit.

There's twenty gold coins, each smaller in diameter than a silver dollar, but twice as thick. Doing my best to maintain a poker face, I pick one up and estimate its weight at roughly half a troy ounce.

"What's its composition?"

"Nine tenths gold, one tenth copper, with just a trace of tin to keep the gold from being too soft."

So I have a little less than ten ounces of gold in my possession. And that's for half the coin. Wow.

"Quite satisfactory," I say, doublechecking the number of coins and sticking them into my pocket. I'm assuming that since there's twenty coins and he offered me one hundred talos, each coin is worth five talos. Otherwise he's risking me coming back angry when I find out he ripped me off. But I don't think he would do that; I'm clearly speaking the same language as him, he can't assume I'm not literate and unable to read the denomination on the coin.

"Very well," he says, taking my aluminum coin from the table and passing it to the man with the little table and vice. I assumed he was going to saw it in half, but the man actually adjusts a little bracket to center the coin in the table, then closes a hinged cover, latches it in place, and begins turning a crank or screw. After a moment, there's a slight popping sound, and he turns the crank in the opposite direction once or twice, then unlatches the cover and flips it open.

My aluminum coin has been split in half, precisely down the middle. He passes the two halves back to Giros, who pockets one piece, then passes me the other half.

"A pleasure doing business with you, Mr. Schulz."

"And with you, sir."

"Oh," Giros says, scoffing lightly. "I'm not a knight. Lord will do."

"My mistake," I say. "In my country, we call anyone of higher class sir; if they're a knight, we add their name after the sir."

"An interesting custom," Giros says, clearly just being polite. "And you're still interested in selling the other half of the coin later?"

"Yes, I am."

"Very well. I should have the funds available in seven or eight days time. I look forward to doing further business with you, my lord."

"And I with you, my lord."

Giros bows and sees himself out of the room, followed by the man with the vice/coin-splitter. Jeeves leads me to the door and holds it for me, looking at me with what seems to be newfound respect.

"A very good day to you, my lord. We look forward to you gracing us with your presence again."

"Thank you, and a good day to you as well."

He seems genuinely surprised that I said that and gives me a slight bow as I step outside into the sunlight.

Well. It seems my silly whim of grabbing those aluminum coins has saved my bacon. I now have funds. I have what I hope are considerable funds. I make my way back to the inn, carefully observing my surroundings. Partly so I don't get lost, partly out of paranoia. If Giros wanted to, he could have someone tail me so he could rob me of the other half of my aluminum coin and get his gold back. I pause at a few shops to look as if I'm interested in their wares, while surrepticiously looking for anyone who might be following me. I don't notice anyone paying me any attention, other than a few interested glances from people walking by; probably my clothes stand out quite a bit. I notice a few more slaves, including one running past with a sack of potatoes over her shoulder; maybe it was just my imagination, but I could have sworn she had a tail or something trailing out from under her tunic. Another naked girl, this one with her hands bound behind her back and something like a horse bit in her mouth, walks past, trailing her master. Again, outside of appreciative looks from nearby men, nobody seems to pay much attention. Is that sort of exhibition really common here? I don't see any more male slaves, aside from one helping a peasant unload a wagon full of firewood.

Just to be safe, I circle the block, but don't notice anyone following me, even after ducking inside the cobbler's shop and pretending to examine some of their shoes. Eventually I decide it's probably safe and I'm just being paranoid and finish my walk back to the inn.

Once I arrive, however, I'm greeted by an unexpected sight.

The innkeeper, looking angry, is standing by the stairs, glaring at the old man, who is now seated at one of the tables. His hands are bound in front of him and he has a black eye. There's also a guard, like the ones at the gate to the city, looming over him.

Upon noticing me, the innkeeper rushes over anxiously.

"Oh, I'm so sorry, m'lord! I never expected this sort of thing to happen in my establishment!"

"What happened?"

I carefully ease my coat back with my elbow to grant me faster access to my pistol. I don't know what's going on here.

The guard gestures at the table and asks curtly, "Are these your things, m'lord?"

I look at the table. My hunting knife, camouflage hat, the pocket mirror from my toiletries kit, and the book I brought to read on my camping trip (in hopes my nephew would take a liking to it) are on the table.

"Yes, they are."

The guard gruffly gestures to the old man and says, "As I thought. Seems this fellow overheard you talking to the innkeep about selling something valuable, so he went up to your room looking for something to steal. Innkeep caught him in the act."

"I'm terribly sorry, m'lord! He's worked here for over a year, always been a trustworthy sort of fellow, so I never expected..."

"I see. Is this all he stole from me?"

"We didn't find anything more, m'lord."

"Well thank you for catching him," I say. Dammit. I knew not being able to lock the door behind me would be a problem.

I pick up my things from the table as the guard starts to roughly manhandle the old man toward the door, when curiosity gets the better of me.

"I'm new to this country; how do you punish thieves around here?"

"Oh, usually give them a good flogging in the public square, but he's already got his stripes," the guard says, pulling up the old man's shirt to reveal several scars on his back. "So he'll be registered as a slave and sold off. Don't reckon you'll get much for 'im; he's old and a thief, so nobody's gonna want him."

"Wait- how much I'll get for him?"

"Yes, m'lord," the guard says, sounding surprised. "You're the one he's wronged, so you get paid whatever he sells for. It shouldn't take long, as soon as the deed is done, I'll bring you your money."

"Would you mind waiting for me to put my things in order and confirm nothing is missing so I can accompany you?"

Leaving aside the possibility of the guard pocketing some of the money, I'm actually interested to see the process of enslaving a man. It'll tell me more about the local economy and law.

"Certainly, m'lord."

The innkeeper walks up to me again, his bristly mustache quivering with emotion as he extends his hand to me. He's holding my lucky silver dollar.

"I understand if you wish to seek a room at another inn, m'lord. I can't let you be wronged by someone working for me and keep your money."

I pocket my silver dollar. I could go to another inn, but I have no idea where one is, or how reputable it would be in comparison to this one. And being as I can't read any of the signs, I wouldn't be able to identify which building was an inn without sticking my head inside.

"No, it's allright. I'll stay here. Do you have another room with a lock on the door though?"

"Certainly, m'lord, certainly. Let me get a key."

He should've given me a room with a lock to begin with. But then again, maybe locks are expensive enough that he can't afford to put them on every room in his inn? I'm still keeping my silver dollar. And the silver coins he gave me as change.

He leads me back to my room, where I find the contents of my backpack spilled out on the floor. I do a quick inventory and ascertain everything is there, put it all back in its place, and then, putting my heavy pack on and retrieving my sword from under the mattress, I follow the innkeeper to the third floor, where he leads me into a room and hands me a large, brass key. Once I've got everything stowed and confirm the door is now safely locked behind me, I go back downstairs where the guard is waiting with the surly old man, who still hasn't said a thing to me.

"Ready, lord?"

"Yes. Lead the way."

I follow the guard as he roughly shoves the old man along, doing my best to keep my bearings so I can find my way back to the inn. After a few twists and turns, we end up at a sprawling, two story building with a wrought iron fence around it. There's a guard at the gate, who opens it for us as we approach. The guard marches his prisoner right up to the front door and bangs the knocker brusquely.

An older woman with a collar around her neck, but a decent looking dress and shoes, opens the door, looks us up and down, and lets us in.

"What may I say is your business?"

"Caught a thief trying to rob this lord here, he's already been flogged once, so it's time he pay his dues under the collar."

"I see. Please wait here."

The slave woman scurries off down the hall and disappears for a moment, then returns with two men. One is wearing a padded gambeson and has a nasty looking leather blackjack in his hand. The other is dressed even more fancily than Giros, with his coat being decorated with gold and silver lace.

"A thief, you say?"

"Yes, m'lord. He stole from this foreign gentleman, here. His employer caught him in the act."

"I see."

The man in the fancy clothes approaches the old man and reaches for him. He doesn't react when the old man bristles, but the man with the blackjack brandishes it menacingly. The old man stays very still as the apparent slave dealer examines his teeth, feels his arms and hands, and examines the scars on his back.

"Mmm. I won't get much for him. How does a dozen tarls sound?"

Since he seemed to be addressing me, I shrug in response. The man pulls a dozen silver coins identical to the ones the innkeeper gave me as change from a leather purse on his belt and hands them to me, then has the hired muscle frogmarch the old man away, never to be seen again.

Apparently an old man, who is a known thief, goes for the same price as breakfast and dinner every day for two weeks, when sold as a slave. I'm sure the slave dealer will sell him for a higher price, since he isn't going to sell him at a loss after all, but that still isn't much money for a human life.

The guard touches the brim of his kettle helmet with one fingertip in a brief salute to me, then leaves out the front door, his business done with.

"Is there anything else I can help you with, my lord?" the fancily dressed man asks.

"Actually, I'm new to this country and rather curious about your system of slavery."

The man gestures for me to follow him and leads me into another room, where I'm seated across from him in a luxuriously carpeted and paneled room even nicer than the one Giros met me in. The slave business must be good. He gestures at the slave woman, who bows and exits the room.

"Your accent is very bizarre, but I must say your pronunciation and grammar are excellent. Did you learn Hratchan from your tutor, or in a monastary?"

"I learned it from another traveler, actually. I'm from much further away than most of the travelers you meet," I reply. I honestly have no idea how I'm able to speak his language. Or at least the language spoken by the upper class; I can't understand a word the commoners say, apparently. Maybe it's magic. I do recall selecting something about languages when I was 'selecting my world', and I chose what seemed to be the equivalent of medieval Latin, spoken by nobles and clergy. And I somehow ended up in a medieval world with no cell phone service after clicking a browser on my computer, so as far as I'm concerned, magic it is. Or sufficiently advanced technology. There's little functional difference between the two.

"Ah. Well, you've mastered it quite gracefully, I must say. Now, what is it you wish to know?"

The slave woman returns with a silver tray decorated in gold filigree, and places a silver cup in front of each of us. I help myself to a taste; like I said, I'm not a wine person, but this definitely seems like it's higher quality than what Giros was serving. Being in the slave trade definitely seems to pay well.

"Well, things are a bit different in my country. Slavery has, for the most part, been outlawed. It was legal previously, but there were laws and customs regulating the practice. I'm curious how it operates here. Are most slaves criminals, like him?" I ask, referring to the old man. I honestly don't feel sorry for him being sold into slavery; thieves have it coming.

"Oh, no, certainly not. The majority of male slaves are born into slavery; their parents are slaves. A few are criminals serving punishment, and others are war captives or purchased from other countries, but most male slaves are born that way. For criminals, they're freed after ten years. For those born as slaves or purchased from foreigners, they're freed after reaching the age of fifty or being owned for twenty years, whichever comes second."

"So if you purchase a slave who turns fifty before you've owned him for twenty years, he remains a slave until the twenty years are up," I state, wanting to clarify the situation.

"Precisely. Whereas if he was born a slave in this country, he's freed at age fifty, regardless of how old he is when you purchase him."

"I see," I say, leaning back and taking another sip of wine. It still tastes like rancid grape juice, but this wine is definitely higher quality than Giro's. "I notice you specified male slaves."

"Yes. Females are treated differently under the law. Regardless of whether they're born into slavery, purchased from foreigners, or born free and later enslaved, females are slaves for life until and unless their master frees them."

"I see. And are most female slaves born into slavery?"

"A little over half are. There are more female slaves than male, partly because of demand, and partly because it's legal to sell a girl into slavery under certain conditions, whereas a man must commit a crime to be enslaved."

The old man was sold into slavery without so much as a trial. I can't imagine the justice system here is especially stringent.

"What sort of conditions?"

"Any unmarried female under the age of thirty may be enslaved by the local manor lord if her family fails to pay their taxes. A father may sell his daughter into slavery whenever he pleases, so long as she is under thirty and unmarried. A husband may sell his wife into slavery if she has been unfaithful to him in marriage. And, of course, if a woman of any age commits a crime, as that man did, she may be enslaved as well."

This culture doesn't seem particularly friendly toward the idea of equal rights for women. And their justice system is a bit... seat of the pants. I need to know more so I can avoid stepping on toes and ending up on the wrong side of the law myself.

"Are you perhaps interested in acquiring a slave? You do seem curious, and I'm sure a traveler far from home could use someone to assist them. Care for your horse and tack, for instance."

Do I want a slave? I'm at once repulsed by the question, but something makes me stop before denying it. I need to learn about this new world I've found myself trapped in. I need the assistance of a native, someone who knows the ins and outs of the culture, its laws, customs, and social mores. Someone who also won't sell me up the river. I'm a foreigner who can never return home or receive aid from home, cut off from support, alone, vulnerable. I have what is probably a massive amount of wealth. My electronic devices, though not especially useful here, would probably be regarded as magical artifacts and fetch a high price. My aluminum coins are apparently quite valuable here, and I'm sure my titanium mess kit and camp stove would be insanely valuable if anyone here knew what titanium was. Hell, it's expensive even in my world. And I haven't seen anyone carrying a firearm; assuming they have 1600's-era weapons like a matchlock arquebus, a modern semi-auto pistol with ammunition would be immensely valuable. And I brought several. My backpack contains a small fortune in it. Even my sword would sell for quite a lot, considering that swords historically were quite valuable and mine has superior metallurgy. If someone discovered that, they could betray me and take my apparently vast wealth for themselves. But if my native ally didn't have a choice in the matter, they might be more trustworthy...

"Exactly what sort of laws are there protecting slaves?"

"I'm sorry?" the man asks, looking slightly confused.

"When slavery was legal in my country, there were certain restrictions. You couldn't beat a slave so harshly it resulted in permanent harm, or murder a slave. And once they got too old to work, you were obligated to care for them in their old age." Another reason why Irish immigrants were treated as disposable labor, while black slaves were treated with more care: if they got crippled doing dangerous work, you were on the hook caring for them for the rest of their life. Whereas if an Irishman got crippled working for you, you simply fired his ass and hired his replacement right off the boat.

The slave trader chuckles and shakes his head, the tips of his thin, waxed mustache bobbing in time with his laughter.

"There are no such laws here! Do as you please with your slave; beat them, mutilate them, murder them, free them, pamper them, starve them, it matters not. They're your property, what you do with them is your business."

Well that's ugly. It seems like harsh treatment would make slaves more inclined to rebel, but the penalty for disobedience is whatever their owner thinks is appropriate, even if it's grossly out of proportion to the perceived offense. In that case, a slave is much more likely to avoid doing anything to incur their owner's wrath, rather than taking a "it's better to seek forgiveness" attitude.

"And if a slave runs away or rebels?"

"If a slave runs away and they're caught, their master is free to punish them as he sees fit. Considering anyone who captures a runaway slave can demand ten percent of their sale price to return them, most slave owners will be... less than lenient, when their slave is returned. For those who inflict physical harm on their masters, the punishment can be anything their master decides, up to and including death. If a slave murders their master, the penalty is torture, followed by being hurled from the top of the Glavos rock to their death. Being thrown from the top of the Glavos rock is considered a humiliation reserved only for traitors to the state and slaves who kill their masters."

"I see."

So it's as I thought. A slave is going to have very few options in terms of betraying their owner. In that case, a slave would make the ideal ally in this new world: they can't say no, and they can't betray my secrets, rob me, or kill me without incurring harsh punishment. But how much would a slave actually be able to teach me about this world? I'm sure they'd be a valuable source of information so far as culture is concerned, but the details and nuances of history, politics, foreign affairs, economics, and so forth would be beyond a simple household maid or field hand. You also don't teach your obsolete farm equipment how to read and write, and I need to learn how to read signs in this place.

"So were you considering it, or-?"

"I believe I am. If I can find the right sort of slave, that is. Do you perhaps have any slaves available who've been trained to serve as children's tutors? Capable of reading and writing?"

"Of course. I have a slave for every occasion," the man says with a smile. "You're looking for a tutor?"

"Yes. I'd like to see the slaves for myself, find one with the right attributes."

"Of course, of course, I'm always happy to show off the merchandise," he says, clearly warming up to a sale. He waves dismissively at the woman, still standing there holding the tray, and says, "I need tutors, literate ones. Have them assembled immediately."

"Yes, master."

She wasn't quite running when she left the room, but she was definitely in a hurry. Considering all his talk about how you could do anything you want to your slaves, I assume she knew better than to cross him.

We both take the time to finish our drinks, then he stands up, stretches for a moment, and then says with a grin, "That should be long enough. Let's see the merchandise, shall we?"

He leads me down a long, long hallway to a large room, where eight slaves, two men, six women, are standing in a row, with the older woman standing at attention nearby.

"Each of these slaves in fluent in both Hratchan and Cursci, and can read and write in both languages. They're each fluent in basic math, geography, history, and science, to varying degrees. Several of them are still undergoing training as tutors, you see, so they aren't quite fully up to the task yet, I'm afraid."

I look at each one as I walk down the row of slaves. Am I really considering buying a person? A PERSON? Like you buy a laptop or a new set of shoes? It's shitty, but yes. Yes, I am. I need help. Desperately.

I ignore the first woman, who gives me a look of total disinterest. And the second, whose expression as she looks at my clothing makes it clear she thinks I'm some sort of weirdo. Hey, I'm not the one dressed up like the Burger King, ok? The first man I also walk past without comment, as he has an insolent look to him. The next woman is an old woman, short and wizened, but with a kindly-seeming face and the sort of wrinkles that suggest she laughs a lot.

"How old are you?"

"Sixty-two, my lord."

"How long have you been a tutor?"

"Oh, many years, my lord. I've raised and taught two generations of the Dukes of Wellby."

"You seem to have some experience then. Why aren't you still in their employ?"

"The current Duke has no children, my lord, so my services were no longer required."

"I see."

I nod to the slave trader, who gestures the old woman to step forward and separate herself from the others. She's a strong contender, if she's been teaching dukes her whole life. The next one under consideration is a young woman who, when interrogated, apologizes and says she's just begun training as a tutor and doesn't feel qualified for the position yet. I'm not sure if she's saying that to be honest and/or avoid punishment for being unqualified if I buy her, or if she's also trying to avoid being purchased by me. Whichever the case may be, I pass on her. Next is the other man.

"How long have you been a tutor?"

"Four years, my lord. Before that, I was a schoolteacher for six years."

"A schoolteacher? So you haven't been a slave for long?"

"No, my lord. I was enslaved when my country went to war with Ossetria four years ago."

"I see."

I nod at the slave trader again and the man steps aside with the old woman.

I pass over the next woman, who has the glazed eyes of someone who hasn't been getting enough sleep and a fading yellow bruise on her cheek. The last in line is... honestly, the prettiest girl I've ever seen. Like, when you visit the chans and go through a "You Love, You Lose" thread and browse photos of achingly beautiful girls prettier than any you meet face to face. Only she was even prettier. Short, the top of her head barely reaching my shoulder, slender, and fine-boned. She looked elfin and delicate, with pale skin, rosy cheeks, blue eyes, and gorgeous red hair. She was also the only one dressed slightly different from the others; her tunic had been lengthened by crudely stiching some extra fabric to the bottom, so it extended halfway to her knees, and she had a little hat made of the same fabric perched on top of her head. In spite of the extra length to her tunic, I could see red hair hanging down below it; ooh, a redheaded Rapunzel?

"How old are you?"

"F-fifteen, m'lord!"

The old woman cleared her throat and the girl quickly corrected herself.

"M-my lord!"

"How long have you been a tutor?"

"I've just started, my lord. I-I can read and write in Hratchan and Cursci, and I've learned some of the other subjects, b-but I'm afraid I haven't finished learning, my lord."

Hnnng. She's adorable. I nod to the slave trader and he gestures her forward, then dismisses the five slaves I didn't select for closer examination.

I return to the man in the middle of the trio of slave tutors.

"So you originally came from another country?"

"Yes, my lord."

"How familiar are you with this one?"

He gives me a pained look and admits, "I've lived here for four years, my lord, but I'm afraid I only know as much of the history and customs as a foreigner knows. My previous owner purchased me to teach his son specifically about my country, so he could serve as an ambassador there."

"I see." I glance at the slave trader, who makes a shooing gesture to dismiss the man. It's narrowed down to the wise old woman and the petite beauty. At this point, the slave trader steps forward and gestures first to the old woman.

"Marta here is our most experienced tutor, and second to none. She taught the current Duke of Wellby and his father, and they're considered highly educated, and intelligent men. Because of her valuable experience and knowledge, of course, she does not come cheaply."

"I'm sure," I mutter as the old woman smiles at me patiently.

"And pretty little Liska here, well, she's still learning to be a tutor, but she has other uses," he says, grinning broadly. "She's still a virgin, so no worries about venereal disease. Show him."

Liska, the pretty redhead, flushes a bright shade of pink, but complies immediately. She backs up a few steps to the table behind her, sits on it, and both raises the hem of her tunic and spreads her legs to expose herself to me.

I'm not looking all that closely, partly because I'm embarassed myself, and partly because the thing dangling between her legs has taken me by surprise. Girls aren't supposed to have anything there! But it's not- She has a tail. A bushy, red fox tail. I thought her hair hung down that far, but it actually stops midway down her back; what I mistook for hair was a tail.

"And," the slave trader continues, still grinning as the old woman reaches out to pat the girl's hand reassuringly, "As a foxkin, she can't get pregnant from a human, so no worries about that either."

I gesture for her to get down off the table and stop exposing herself to me, which she does without a moment's hesitation, still redfaced.

The old woman would be quite valuable, given her knowledge and experience. But I want Liska. And the slave trader knows that, damn him.

"How much for her?" I ask, gesturing at the old woman.

"Half a talos," he replies. "Expensive, yes, but well worth it. Her reputation is without peer."

I still have no idea how many of the silver coins add up to one talos, or how a five talos gold coin breaks down. But if the old man was cheap at a dozen small, silver coins, and this old woman is expensive at half a talos, or one tenth of a gold coin...

"And how much for her?"

"One talos," the slave trader says, grinning knowingly.

I asked for a tutor, not a sex slave. Shouldn't you be trying to upsell the old woman?

Aw, hell. He knows which one I really want, so she's the one he's trying to price gouge me on.


"I'll give you some time to think it over," the slave trader says, clearly knowing which one I'm going with.

Once he walks out of earshot and pretends to check the wall plastering for dust, Marta, the old woman, leans forward and says quietly, "We both know which one you want, my lord. She's a good girl, sharp as a whip. I've taught her well, and what she doesn't know, she'll learn."

I raise one eyebrow at the old woman and she smiles kindly.

"Don't worry about me. I'm quite valuable, so I'll be treated well, even if it takes a while for someone to buy me. Go on," Then she turned to Liska and patted her hand again. "Don't worry, dear; he seems the good sort. You've a good head on your shoulders. Remember what I've taught you and you'll do just fine."

Liska nods meekly. And with that, the decision is made.

"Would you consider half a talos for her?" I ask, gesturing at the tiny redhead.

"Oh, no, I couldn't possibly!"

"Three quarters, then?"

"Well... All right. You drive a hard bargain, but it's a deal."

A hard bargain, huh? We barely negotiated.

The old woman is dismissed and gives young Liska's hand a gentle squeeze as a final farewell before she leaves the room. The slave trader gestures at the woman who's been standing to one side this whole time, and she fetches paperwork and a quill pen and ink pot.

"This transfers her deed of ownership over to you. Sign all three copies, please. One is for you, one is for my records, and the third will go to the magistrate's office so you can request proof of ownership if you lose your copy."

I sign the papers, not being able to read a word of them, and hand the slave trader one of the gold coins in my pocket. He examines it briefly, then reaches into his purse and exchanges it for four smaller gold coins and several large silver coins.

"There you are. We're all done. Enjoy your new purchase, my lord," he says lecherously.

What a dirty old man. Of course I'm going to enjoy my new purchase. But he's still a dirty old man.

He makes a shooing gesture at Liska and she trots along behind me as he leads the way back to the front door, her bare feet slapping on the granite floor. I'm six foot two and long legged; even walking at a leisurely pace, she has to take two steps to match every one of mine. Hnnnng, she's so adorably small! I just want to cuddle her forever.

The wisdom of buying what the slave trader obviously assumes will be a bed warmer, as opposed to a more knowledgeable and world-wise teacher, is questionable. Hell, I'm buying a person, everything about this is questionable.

But if it's wrong, I don't want to be right, dammit.

As we step into the entry room, another man is standing there waiting; he has a woman in a very tight, revealing dress with him. Her hands are bound behind her back, and her leash is attached to what I had assumed was a coat hook by the door. Is that what those are for? The slave trader greets him like an old friend, and the two immediately start talking business, heading toward the waiting room I'd been served wine in, leaving the slave to stand there with her leash tied to a hook on the wall, like a dog waiting for its owner to come out of the store. I guess since he'd already made the sale, he didn't have time for me anymore.

The slave woman has Liska put her arms behind her back, then binds them with a clever restraint made of soft cloth; the wrists go into a short sleeve, then you pull on a ribbon looped around each wrist and tie them together; they won't hurt your slave the way shackles would, and while not impossible to get out of, would be time consuming to escape. They're actually pretty clever, in spite of their simplicity. She then attaches a thin corded leash to Liska's collar on a small, metal D-ring, and hands it to me.

"Thank you for your business, my lord. Please come back any time you like."

I nod my head to her, then open the door and step outside, little Liska in tow.

It's getting late in the day; I haven't had lunch, and I'm not sure I can find my way back to the inn once the sun goes down. I'm also concerned about Liska's bare feet; the streets, some of which are cobbled, some of which are packed dirt and gravel, can't be comfortable for her to walk on, and that assumes the sun hasn't made them baking hot. Then again, they can't be too terribly hot; I saw other barefoot slaves out and about earlier. Regardless, although I don't mean to drag her along, I walk at a brisk pace and she struggles to keep up with my long strides; when necessary, I slow my pace to let her catch up, rather then tugging on her leash, but I don't stop until I've navigated the last turn and spot the inn ahead of me, the whitewashed walls glowing pink and orange in the setting sun.

Stepping inside the inn, I discover that the chandelier has been lit. A couple of customers are sitting at one of the tables, eating dinner. The innkeep looks up from where he's busily polishing some more stoneware mugs, and greets me with a grin.

"Well! So that's why you were gone so long! You left with a thief and came back with a little beauty!"

"What's for dinner?" I ask. I told him earlier I didn't need to buy meals, but that was then and this is now.

"Beef stew and fresh baked bread."

"I'll take two please. And some water."

"Coming right up!"

I walk over to a small table in the corner with two chairs and turn Liska around so I can remove her restraints, which takes a moment to figure out. Once I've got the cloth restraint removed, I set it on the table. Oh, the table has one of those hooks on it. I attach the handle of Liska's leash to the hook on the table and sit down. I expected her to sit at the other chair, but she instead kneels on the floor beside me, hands in her lap. Maybe I'm missing some sort of slave-owner etiquette, and she's not supposed to use furniture like a normal person. I let it pass without comment, dig a couple of silver coins out, and set them on the table. I have no idea how much the innkeeper will charge the two of us for dinner, so I'll let him work it out.

The innkeeper is still behind the counter, polishing mugs. I guess he isn't the one who brings our food? Ah, no. A woman wearing the tunic of a slave, but one that's distinctly cleaner than the ones I've seen so far, steps out of the back area with a wooden tray and brings it to our table. She sets a large bowl of stew in front of me, along with a big chunk of bread, then sets a smaller bowl and a little heel of bread in front of Liska. She also sets two stoneware mugs of water in front of us. Taking one of the silver coins off the table, she hands it to the innkeeper before going back into the kitchen.

I dig in immediately, but notice Liska hasn't moved to touch her food.

"Aren't you going to eat?"

"I must wait until I have permission, master," she replies quietly.

"Well, you have permission. Eat."

"Thank you, master."

With that, she picks her bowl up off the table and shovels stew into her mouth so fast I was worried she'd choke. Then she wipes the bowl clean with the little heel of bread and gobbles that down too, placing the empty bowl on the table and resting her hands in her lap again.

Despite missing lunch and being really hungry, I spoon some of my stew into her bowl and tear off a piece of my bread and set it next to her bowl. She looks at me in surprise, then whispers another, "thank you, master" and consumes that just as quickly.

I guess slaves don't get fed all that well. Well, worry no more, little Liska; your days of being hungry are over!

I finish my dinner, the innkeeper's slave retrieves our dishes, and I guide Liska up the stairs to my room, unlock the door, awkwardly pull the string to unlatch it, and lead her inside. Then I lock the door and deadbolt it, because I'll be damned if I'm letting some thief sneak into my room to rob me again.

I take the leash off of Liska's collar and toss it on the table along with her restraints, then pull my Zippo lighter out of my pocket and flick it. Liska seems startled, but I use the light to find the candle and light it, providing some decent illumination. Putting my lighter away, I sit down on the edge of the bed with a sigh. What a day. In one day, I've been unexpectedly abducted to an alternate reality, robbed, sold a man into slavery, and bought a slave. I own a person now. Like I just bought a hamster at the pet store and brought it home with me. I should be more bothered by that.

"C'mere. Let me get a better look at you."

Liska obediently approaches, and kneels on the floor beside the bed; the same as at the table? Are slaves really not allowed on the furniture?

I pat the bed beside me and after a moment's hesitation, she sits there. I put one hand on her shoulder in what I hope is a reassuring way, and can feel her trembling. Is she afraid?

Of course she is. She's a slave; I can do anything I want to her, absolutely anything, and she has no choice but to let it happen. The slave trader advertised her selling points as being a virgin, and impossible for me to impregnate, and now I've ordered her to sit on the bed beside me. Of course she's scared. She thinks I'm about to push her down onto the bed and take her right here.

I ruffle her hair with my hands; ugh, her hair is greasy and clearly hasn't been washed in some time. Her tunic is filthy too, and she smells. Not, like, bad body odor or anything, just old sweat. She clearly hasn't been allowed to bathe recently. We'll have to fix that; first thing tomorrow, I'm asking the innkeeper what sort of bathing arrangements are available.

Still stroking her hair, I notice that I should have brushed against her ear, but there's nothing there. Huh. I notice her little hat, made of the same fabric as her tunic, and wonder why she has one and none of the other slaves did. I reach up and take it off... revealing two upright, pointy ears.

Oh. She has fox ears!

Adorable. Fucking adorable. If she didn't already have a name, I'd call her Holo. I feel her ears curiously, and she flicks them as if I've tickled them. They can move! I rub the back of her ears up and down, fascinated, and then begin to scritch and scratch at their base. Her ears flatten out sideways and she looks at me uncertainly. I scratch harder and she gets an odd look on her face, so I scratch a little harder.

Her left leg begins to spasm up and down uncontrollably, just like a dog's.

Hnnnng! Liska, you're so cute, you're going to give me a heart attack!

I relent on scratching her ears as she blushes such a deep shade of red it's visible even in the candlelight, and go back to stroking her ear. That's a good foxgirl. That's a cute foxgirl. It's ok. Everything's ok. Master won't hurt you.

"It's getting late. I think it's time to sleep."

Liska doesn't answer, so I head to the little bathroom closet, shut the door behind me, and pee in the bucket. Then I wash my hands in the basin of water, not wanting Liska to see my reaction to my hand feeling greasy after handling her hair. I don't want to hurt her feelings.

Tomorrow, we'll get you squeaky clean.

I step out and Liska is kneeling on the floor beside the bed again. I go back to the bed and sit on the edge.

"Um, master?"


"May I relieve myself?"

"Oh. Yes."

"Thank you."

She darts into the bathroom, shutting the sliding door behind her, and I can hear her peeing in the bucket too. How did she find it in the dark? By feel, or does she have some sort of special fox night vision mode? I have no idea how her species works.

She returns quickly and stands beside the bed awkwardly.



"W-would you prefer I sleep at your feet, or beside you?"

She's kinda smelly. And that tunic is filthy and badly in need of washing. But I don't want to hurt her feelings.

"Beside me is fine."

That said, Liska immediately drops down onto the rug next to the bed and curls into a little ball, hugging her knees to her chest in a fetal position. Are slaves expected to sleep on the floor? Is it consideration for her owner, allowing me to have the bed instead of having to share it? Or is she afraid that if she gets in bed with me, I'll force myself on her? I'm missing something here, I'm just not sure what.

Since there's two blankets on the bed, I pull one off and cover her with it, eliciting another look of surprise.

"Thank you, master."

"You're welcome. Go to sleep. We have a big day tomorrow."

I retrieve my self-inflating pillow from my backpack, remove my shoes, socks, and pants and dump them on the chair next to the bed, and stick my .45 pistol under my pillow, one hand resting on it, and blow out the candle. The room is instantly pitch black.

Alone in the dark- well, ok, technically not alone since there's a foxgirl curled up on the floor next to me, but in a dark enough room it's possible to be alone with your thoughts. I lay there in the dark, mind swirling, anxiety building and preventing me from sleeping. I'll never see my family again. I bought a person like property. I'm all alone in a strange world and can never go home again. I'm adrift, on my own, with nothing familiar and no one that I know.

In the dark, I hear a sniffling sound and a soft keening noise; Liska is trying to cry as quietly as possible.

She's a slave. All alone, with no one she knows, in the dark, with a strange man who now owns her like he owns a pair of shoes.

I'm not the only one all alone in unfamiliar territory. In a way, I guess we're both strangers in a strange land.

I reach out into the darkness, find a shoulder under the wool blanket she's buried under, and gently rub it.

"Shhhhh. Shhhhh. It's allright. Go to sleep. Shhhhh."

She makes a hiccuping sound, then quiets down. Eventually I can hear the soft breathing of someone who's fallen asleep. I put my hand back on the grip of my pistol and eventually, somehow, manage to fall asleep myself.

570 posts omitted. Last 50 shown.
Anonymous 22/06/27(Mon)14:41 No. 27623 ID: 42ad95

Liska is a good girl!

Anonymous 22/07/14(Thu)01:36 No. 27634 ID: 41cd93

nine days till my birthday. fingers crossed for an update.

Liska is the best girl.

26149 Anonymous 22/08/04(Thu)20:35 No. 27641 ID: cd14ba

Can I do a Russian translation of your story?

A+fan+of+Hiraeth 22/08/29(Mon)04:14 No. 27649 ID: 77b064

Evening, OP. Just doing another life check. Hope all is well, looking forward to another chapter is you are still alive. Liska is a good girl

Amazing Anonymous 22/09/10(Sat)21:33 No. 27656 ID: f69a9f

Love this story, although I do wish you'd continue Roommates.

Anonymous 22/09/15(Thu)05:49 No. 27663 ID: 8d216a

Even though this is in elit, I am just as interested in the world and lore and story than I am in the erotic parts. Liska is a good girl!

Anonymous 22/09/24(Sat)08:06 No. 27677 ID: 43d4d7

Liska is a great girl :) I wonder what became of the slave girl of that mean lady?

Anonymous 22/10/03(Mon)21:19 No. 27686 ID: d9b2e7


Which mean lady? The one who talked shit about our good girl, Liska?

Anonymous 22/10/04(Tue)10:58 No. 27687 ID: 991c21

Yea seems like she brought a cute girl in to the party that needs saving o.o

Slaves Anonymous 22/10/22(Sat)17:59 No. 27711 ID: 2be44f

I'd love to see the slaves getting put in their place more, regularly and sexually :)

Anonymous 22/10/31(Mon)22:49 No. 27715 ID: 1df4f5

I am waiting for Roland to aquire the Dukes Nanny. Get himself and his girls some education.

Anonymous 22/11/11(Fri)06:04 No. 27720 ID: a31657

I'm not ashamed to admit I check here every day. Is there a way I can pay money to the author to make this faster?

Happy 22/11/27(Sun)21:45 No. 27729 ID: b76688

Is there a link to this story
Where it's just the and not all this extra shit

Liska and Ada are good girls

Anonymous 22/11/28(Mon)04:25 No. 27730 ID: 43cb43

Literally scroll up:
>Book One as html, with .epub & .mobi downloads:
>For book 2 you will have to stay here and argue history with like minded losers.
I'm still not bothering to update for the single chapter of book two. OP needs to edit his chapters and post them, or find some fag who's willing to beta and edit for him.

Anonymous 22/12/25(Sun)05:38 No. 27755 ID: 7eb71d

All I want for Christmas is a good little Liska

Anonymous 23/02/03(Fri)23:16 No. 27812 ID: f66a0f

Anyone still alive? I'd love to one day see more hiraeth...

Anonymous 23/03/02(Thu)18:57 No. 27823 ID: 724220

I read the story twice now and am sad that there is no more Liska. OP whenever you come back we are here for you.

Also one thing I noticed from the second time reading I think it's a good idea to flesh out the facial features of the characters you introduce. I still have a hole in how Ada looks like and I imagine here as the main girl in this doujin: https://nhentai.net/g/219769/

I don't think this is how you imagine her though, but it's the closes my brain got. I would also focus on explaining their appearance of them when exploring their bodies during sex. Just an idea :)

Anonymous 23/03/03(Fri)23:16 No. 27824 ID: 477c5b

Describing faces through text seems rather difficult, could you show us an example of how you would do it?

Anonymous 23/03/08(Wed)17:01 No. 27826 ID: 724220

I am not a writer, but I went over a couple of books I am reading right now and it really seems like it's not common, but this story revolves around Liska and Ada so I would still consider it.

Perhaps mentioning her cute nose or how you can drown in her emerald eyes or something. It might work.

Anonymous 23/03/11(Sat)12:17 No. 27829 ID: 724220

I came back and re-read the Ada introduction, which is the character I know least of, and the face was indeed described. I guess it just wasn't enough for me? Not sure. Take this critique with a grain of salt

OP!T1tXaJv9os 23/03/15(Wed)02:07 No. 27830 ID: c1626b

Been in the hospital. My wife, not me. Story hasn't been my priority for a while, but now that she's going to be released soon, I can start working on Hiraeth again. The other issue is that my laptop ate shit and I lost the full chapter, so I'm starting from scratch.


Ada was described with enough detail for readers to get an idea of what she looked like, and fill in the blanks for themselves. While Liska is a very pretty girl with delicate, ethereal features, the kind you see in "if you love, you lose" threads and ache with longing inside when you see, Ada is merely pretty in comparison. Good looking, but not a 10 out of 10.

Also, no, that hentai character isn't pretty enough or young enough to be Ada, and her boobs are too big. I generally base the girls in my e-lit around how my wife looked at the age of a particular character, because she's what turns me on. Generally. I am branching out somewhat. Liska, Ada, and Sara from Roommates are all based on my wife at different ages. Write what you know.

I"m working on rewriting what was lost, but bear in mind it might be a slow process given other shit going on in my life right now. Things are finally starting to make sense again, I'm able to focus on things that aren't the current crisis and basic necessities to pay the bills and buy food, and return my train of thought to my fantasy universe and try to recover what got fucked when my laptop got fried. I know "coming soon" is a joke when it comes to my work, but please be patient and bear with me. I've had to deal with a LOT of shit since the last update.

Anonymous 23/03/15(Wed)04:34 No. 27832 ID: 4e8597

OP, we cool. Focus on your family first, your life second and all the rest in due time. We will always be here. I know it may not seem like it but we were just worried about you. We don't pay you for these stories (we would) so you don't owe us jack squat. So good to hear things are turning around for you. Please focus on yourself and your well being and that of your family before having to explain yourself to us lot. Those of us who are a praying lot will toss some of those your way.

Anonymous 23/03/15(Wed)10:27 No. 27833 ID: cbfee9

All of this.
OP, I hope your lady fully recovers.

Liska is, as always, a good girl.

Anonymous 23/03/16(Thu)13:33 No. 27834 ID: 5c3345


Couldn’t agree more! It’s wonderful to hear from you, OP! Wishing you and yours health, recovery where needed, and happiness <3

Anonymous 23/03/16(Thu)16:25 No. 27836 ID: 724220

Thanks for answering. I also asked my writer friends and I got more or less a similar answer. Good luck with your wife and laptop.

Btw I would totally donate something as well to give something back as I love most of the things you write.

weather Nero 23/03/31(Fri)23:08 No. 27842 ID: b76688

Should a Tornado happen in the story??

Liska and Ada are good girls

different point of view Nero 23/04/04(Tue)04:48 No. 27843 ID: b76688

Started on a b version, I don't know if we will link up in the future or not. I used curtain parts from this version, like my conversion with Mephistopheles is different compared to Roland's.


Nero 23/04/11(Tue)19:50 No. 27850 ID: b76688

Cast almost done

Anonymous 23/04/17(Mon)15:00 No. 27851 ID: 856a63



Nero 23/04/21(Fri)01:01 No. 27852 ID: b76688

I won't be posting it here on OP!T1tXaJv9os story.

Anonymous 23/04/21(Fri)14:44 No. 27853 ID: 335228


No, explain what you're doing. I assume English isn't your first language? Are you writing your own story based on Hiraeth?

Nero 23/04/21(Fri)21:48 No. 27854 ID: b76688


Nero 23/04/21(Fri)21:55 No. 27855 ID: b76688

What you want doesn't mean a thing to me moron.
If I choose to write a story about something it's my choice.

Nero 23/04/21(Fri)21:58 No. 27856 ID: b76688

Hiraeth by OP!T1tXaJv9os 08/16/2019 No. 26149 ID: b49468
The only person that can say anything about me writing a different version.

Anonymous 23/04/24(Mon)05:48 No. 27858 ID: 91c6a9

I asked what you were talking about, because your grammar was terrible and hard to make sense of. I didn't offer any opinion on you making your own spinoff from Hiraeth. I don't appreciate you being an asshole about it either. We hold ourselves to a higher standard here, please behave accordingly.

Anonymous 23/05/19(Fri)21:53 No. 27862 ID: 96177d


Well, there's an "author" I wont ever read anything from.

Anonymous 23/05/22(Mon)15:55 No. 27863 ID: d6ae9d

Do you think Liska looks like the heroine of this manga?

Anonymous 23/05/24(Wed)10:30 No. 27864 ID: 8d0d9a

There's a whole thread here on 7chan dedicated to images that inspired the story of Hiraeth itself or specific characters in the story. It's over on the /cake/ board.


Anonymous 23/06/16(Fri)17:41 No. 27868 ID: bf2104


I wonder if there's any real life photos of women the OP thinks resembles the characters. He's said he bases the female characters loosely on his wife because that's what he's attracted to (so we can assume she's short, small breasted, and pale; I think Liska, Ada, and Sara from Roommates all blue eyes too.), So it would be interesting to see what they look like "in real life". Not photos of his wife or anything, don't want to intrude on their privacy or get them doxxed, just real women with similar features. If OP was willing to do that, similar to the art thread, where would be the most appropriate place for him to post?

Also, not reading Hiraeth fanfiction written by a dick who flies of the handle when asked questions. If the quality of his grammar is any indication, it would probably suck anyway.

OP!T1tXaJv9os 23/07/08(Sat)03:25 No. 27879 ID: 82c652

Volume one of Hiraeth is getting published as soon as I finish editing/cleaning it up and find an illustrator to do cover art and a handful of illustrations inside the book. I hope I can count on you guys to buy a copy, leave reviews, and spread the word.

In the meantime, work on volume two continues and I've nearly recreated what was lost. Thank you for your patience. It's been a long road, but I'm finally going somewhere with Hiraeth.

Anonymous 23/07/08(Sat)18:03 No. 27880 ID: d70b16

Interesting... I think I speak for quite a few here when I say I had no idea you intended to publish. Of course I'll buy a copy. Gotta support quality authors when you find their work. Thanks for the great story so far and thanks for letting us know so we can show our appreciation.

Anonymous 23/07/08(Sat)19:24 No. 27881 ID: 21b867

Holy shit, that's awesome OP! Hell yeah, I'll buy a copy and leave a glowing review! Did you find a publisher, or are you self-publishing?


He's said he wrote Hiraeth with the intention of getting it published as a light novel series, similar to Re:Zero or No Game No Life. This is a big step forward. We may even end up with OP doing book signings and Q&A panels at anime conventions, in which case I'm definitely getting my copy autographed.

Anonymous 23/07/13(Thu)20:24 No. 27882 ID: 5b1d5b

Congratulations, OP!! Looking forward to buying a copy!

Anonymous 23/07/18(Tue)01:38 No. 27883 ID: abbbfa

As soon as you have a link to drop, even for Pre-Orders.
I am sure you will see many orders.

I'd even like to see a hardcover option.

OP!T1tXaJv9os 23/07/31(Mon)05:41 No. 27895 ID: ade356


It's a light novel and I have to keep costs low, at least initially, so paperback and ebook only right now. Maybe a hardback omnibus edition when more volumes are available.

Links will be available as soon the book is available. I'm still trying to figure out how to commission an illustrator, then jump through all the hurdles to self-publish. It will most likely be available on Amazon until and unless I get a deal from an actual publisher.

Anonymous 23/08/26(Sat)14:43 No. 27906 ID: e7f434

Suddenly thought. Ada likes normal sex and doesn't like oral sex. Isn't that why she offers her master to use herself, because she realizes that he will want to have sex anyway, but if he chooses Liska over her, she will have to work with her mouth.

Anonymous 23/08/26(Sat)23:29 No. 27907 ID: 172ab2


That or, y'know, sex feels good and she's discovered a fun new activity.

OP!T1tXaJv9os 23/08/28(Mon)04:36 No. 27908 ID: 6bbfe3


It's the latter. Ada was raised to think sex would be a chore, but has discovered it's actually pretty fun and feels good. She enjoys having sex with her master, and is exploring various ways she can do that. She also largely doesn't mind cleaning out Liska's pussy, and vice-versa, as we'll see later.

Work on rewriting what was lost is continuing, and I hope to have the next chapter finished soon. Thank you for your patience.

Anonymous 23/08/30(Wed)20:25 No. 27911 ID: b38ef6

Dear OP, i have enjoyed greatly the naughty bits of this story, but some elements of the world building rub me the wrong way.

Your setting was something akin 30-years war without muskets and by proxy, large production of gun powder. And while it is true that making of gun powder is not that hard, it is not that simple to scale it up. A perchlorate based propellant would be far simpler to jump-start for a quick and dirty gun industry.

Second of all, i highly doubt that our protagonist could have snowballs chance in hell creating any sort of musket, since his apparent knowledge in how they were made, let alone modern firearms appears to be next to nothing. Having video like, say this (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X_O1-chxAdk) stored on his smart phone out of autistic interest in random things, along some "how stuff is made" and some "backyard chemistry for energetic stuff" PDF's would go long way with the credibility of the world building.

The second thing is the lighter, a modern lighter uses fucking space age material for the flint
Replicating that casually is a big no no.
A mechanism for lighting akin a wheellock, used in muskets, would be far more credible contraption to ignite the lighter, as it can use flint or even better, pyrite and steel. You can even omit the spring and rely just on a sturdy thumb flip.
Here is example (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y4ZVtYV-GaQ), for lighter, you can omit the pyrite holder and just attack it permanently, every time you flip the wheel with thumb, sparks will fly.

Also, the percussion caps, needed for more modern stuff will need at least mercury fulminate, but better yet some led based derivatives that are less toxic and more stable.

Anything approaching high explosives will need a nitric acid. There is two ways to make nitric acid by what is available in 1630's tech. Reacting a Nitrate salt with concentrated sulphuric acid (very very expensive, as large scale production of that stuff needs at least a lead chamber process, that the protagonist has no skills to do even if he had books, that stuff require at least mediocre understanding of underlying chemistry) or the spark process.

The spark process is easier, because all it needs is a electric generator, a low to high voltage transformer and spark chamber where the resulting NO2 will react with water, forming nitric acid.
This is something that requires lots of copper wire and some iron but nothing our protagonist could not handle during that period.
Considering protagonist background, it would also not stretch credibility that he can build primitive, inefficient but working generators, hell, even a wander Graff or homopolar (no homo) generator would do the trick.

Lastly, if you have not, then consider reading the Ring of fire books set in eerily similar setting that you have. It will give you some good world building pointers, so the story would stay together more smoothly outside the slave railing sessions :^)

Anonymous 23/09/18(Mon)07:51 No. 27916 ID: 83913a

While re-reading, I noticed a “good” master who only beats his slaves when he’s having a bad day. How many masters must there be in their world who beat their slaves for reasons other than punishment?

Not all people are sadists who take pleasure in the pain of others. I would even say that they are a minority. Sadists should theoretically be more inclined to buy slaves than non-sadists, since this allows them to satisfy their needs. However, it appears that owning slaves is an essential part of being a noble in this world, so the impact of this deviation should be quite small.

Among non-sadists, it is logical to expect that slaves will be beaten by those who trade them. This way, the slaves will be much more loyal to their new masters, since life with them will be better or at least no worse than life with a merchant.

Slaves can also be beaten out of anger, but it is not very clear how common this might be. Yes, from the point of view of money, beating slaves is more profitable than beating things, since minor damage to slaves is restored on their own, and things will have to be repaired in any case. But in a fit of anger, it can be difficult to restrain yourself, and if the slave is nevertheless injured from which he cannot recover, this will lead to more property damage than beating things.

Also, I think that most people still prefer to be loved rather than feared. So senseless beatings probably shouldn't happen too often. At least in relation to domestic slaves, control over whom is exercised exclusively by their masters.


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