“Let’s have a heart-to-heart talk then. As you know, I am a slave trader. My parents were also slave traders, and I’ve been living an affluent life ever since.
But to the public, those who engage in slave trading are people who make money by selling people. Personally, it’s not that simple a job, but there’s no denying that we are selling people. That’s a terrible impression to most people. Because of that I never had anyone I could call a friend during my childhood days. But it wasn’t really the children themselves who loathed me, but their parents.” [Orest]
Ah, I can imagine that. It’s that age-old tale of parents telling their kids not to play with ‘that kid’.
“At some point, I started to reach out to the servants and the subordinates of my parents instead. I reached out to the slaves too. Now that I think about it, I probably intended them to be a substitute for friends. After all, they worked for my parents, so there weren’t anyone who would treat me poorly. As for the slaves, they wouldn’t run off or leave me either. That’s probably what I was thinking then.
But after interacting with all sorts of people, I found out that there was no one ‘like’ me. Be it race, or lineage, or birthplace, or history, or disposition. Even the way people thought and their hobbies varied infinitely. Being able to know them, and learn how they differed from me, as well as the knowledge and perspective that they possessed… It was really fun. Before I knew it, I stopped using them as substitutes for friends, and I genuinely wanted to know them.” [Orest]
Orest-san turned to me with a serious expression.
“I’ve been using my position as a slave trader to connect with many people and watch over their growth. But I feel that you’re different from all of the people I’ve met so far. That’s why I want to deepen my friendship with you. It’s a personal interest. That’s one of the reasons I invited you to eat out with me today, Ryouma-sama.” [Orest]
No doubt that’s because I’m an otherworlder.
For the meantime, let’s not reject him.
“I’m aware that I’m different from others, but since that’s only one of your reasons, that must mean that you have other reasons, yes?” [Ryouma]
Orest-san nodded with a smile.
“I also wish to form a better working relationship with you, Ryouma-sama. This might come off as abrupt, but what do you think of slave traders?” [Orest]
“If I were to give my honest opinion, it would be ‘I don’t understand them’. As you’ve said, slave traders ‘sell people’, and that’s not something I can be antipathetic to. But it is legal in this country, and I don’t really see the difference between slaves and normal long-term employments. I think they’re being treated decently enough that there’s no actual difference. I’ve also come to know that the social rank of slave is a sort of ‘last stand’ for those in poverty or those who’ve gone bankrupt due to some kind of failure. As such, I can’t say for certain whether it’s good or bad.” [Ryouma]
“Thank you very much. That was a much better answer than what I was expecting.” [Orest]
Despite my vague answer, Orest-san seemed to be happy with my answer.
“Understanding customers such as yourself makes our job much easier.
This is a bit of a rant on my part as a slave trader, but there are too many cases of customers lacking understanding regarding slavery and slave traders. But of course, that’s a ‘given’ since I’m selling people. It is known in our industry that such things cannot be avoided. Anyone entering our industry for the first time woudl also be informed of this immediately.” [Orest]
Orest-san turned to me and continued.
“But personally I believe that the system of slave traders and slaves is already antiquated.” [Orest]
Well, slavery was already
“Indeed the official slave contract of today closely resembles the labor contract used in most guilds. The only difference is that the slave owner is obliged to guarantee the livelihood of the slave, and pay in advance the wages of the slave to the slave trader.
The reason slaves are being treated so well today is because of the abolishment of the old slave laws that permitted their previous inhumane treatment. The concept of human rights has also been gradually permeating society.” [Orest]
“To avoid any misunderstandings, please allow me to clarify that I am not against human rights. In fact, I believe such ideas are important to protect the dignity of people. That’s why I believe that slavery is already antiquated.
In fact, I’m only able to work as a slave trader today because of the people struggling to make ends meet and those with no choice but to become slaves. As for the nobles in charge of steering the country and establishing laws, it is only because of their obstinacy in honoring tradition and their resistance to change that they turn a blind eye to the growing irrelevancy of the slave system. I’m certain that in the near future, slavery will be abolished, and we slave traders will no longer be needed. As such, I’m currently searching for a way that a slave trader such as myself would be able to keep up with the change of the times.” [Orest]
“Come to think of it, you don’t just sell slaves, but also lend them, right?” [Ryouma]
“Yes. So you did notice. I thought you might since when I mentioned it before, you described it as an agency that dispatches people.” [Orest]
“…Did I say that?” [Ryouma]
“You did while reading through the material, though you seem to have muttered it without intending to.” [Orest]
“Of all the people I could have made that careless remark to…” [Ryouma]
“The moment I heard you say that, my appraisal of you shot up, Ryouma-sama. At that moment, I believed that you had an idea how a slave trader ought to function in these changing times. But even if you didn’t, I wouldn’t mind. I figured, if it’s you, you could understand the anxiety I held for the future.” [Orest]
I could understand his anxiety, huh… After explaining so much, I think I can understand now.
The person sitting in front of me is really a brilliant manager. This isn’t just the level of normal brilliance that you can find after searching for a while, no, this is a brilliance on the level of a ‘genius’, the likes of which only a few exist.
I don’t know how much effort he had to exert to get to this level. Perhaps, it would be rude to describe him as simply a genius, as there is a difference between a genius and a normal person. A difference as deep and as cruel as a valley.
It is because of that genius that he is able to see a future that’s still only a blur to the greater majority. In short, he’s
“I’m not familiar with the slave industry, but most slave traders believe that their business will continue as it always has. But not you, you’re looking decades ahead, a time when its your children’s turn to succeed the business, or perhaps their children, right?” [Ryouma]
“Yes. Although any attempt to plan for the future is nothing more than conjectures and speculations, I can’t help but believe that an uncertain future is waiting for me. That’s why I believe we need to find a new way for us slave traders to do business.” [Orest]
“And the answer you found was ‘Temporary Staffing’.” [Ryouma]
“I’m not particularly fixated with remaining as a slave trader, but we’ve been in this trade for a long time, and much of the experience and knowledge we have accumulated revolves around training human resources to increase their value, and then introduce them to people that need them.” [Orest]
If he wants to use the weapons he’s cultivated as a slave trader, then that certainly is a good idea, but…
“The problem I see there is how the people you’ve dispatched will be treated. Although we can only imagine how the laws will be in the future, but――”
In Japan, because of the Temporary Employee Amendment, the temporary employees had a hard time, and they couldn’t find jobs or were abused with low salary. Outsiders would look at the situation and irresponsibly say stuff like, ‘just look for another job’ or ‘why don’t you just become a regular employee?’ But getting a job isn’t really that simple a story.
Once you’ve become a part of that losing group, it becomes exceedingly difficult to get out. And in Japan, people tended to put the blame on the temporary employees themselves, saying ‘it’s their fault because they weren’t putting enough effort’ or ‘it’s their fault because they chose to become a temporary employee or because their choices led them to a situation where they have no choice but to be a temporary employee’.
That’s why, although I was in an abusive company, since I was a
“――Oh! ――Indeed, there’s that too! Yes! True――” [Orest]
When I spoke to Orest-san about the problematic points, he listened with such zeal that he wasn’t willing to miss even a single word.
In fact, he was so hooked into our conversation that he listened to me talk throughout the remainder of our meal, and on the way back, until we finally had to part. I told him everything I knew, and worded it all as ‘possible concerns’.
“Ah, I really enjoyed our time today, Ryouma-sama. It’s the first time I was able to lay out my thoughts so clearly and picture the future.” [Orest]
“I’m glad that our conversation was meaningful.” [Ryouma]
When I got off the carriage in front of the security company and Orest-san spoke to me, he was much calmer. Although I can never quite tell what he’s thinking, he has helped me a lot, so nothing could be better if I can be of service to him as well.
“If anything ever troubles you, please be sure to consult me. I’ll do my best to help you then. Not just with slaves, but with other matters as well.” [Orest]
“Thank you very much. If such a time comes, I’ll be sure to reach out.” [Ryouma]
It was just the usual exchange of pleasantries, but…
For some reason, Orest-san suddenly became thoughtful and fell silent.
“Is something the matter?” [Ryouma]
“…I truly do hope that we can keep in touch, Ryouma-sama. There are no lies there, but that’s precisely why I feel I should mention something that might be meddlesome. Do you remember when I asked you if you’ve been enjoying yourself recently during our meal?” [Orest]
Of course. And my answer then wasn’t a lie.
“I have no doubt that you were telling the truth then. In fact, your answer then showed me that you’re truly enjoying your current life.” [Orest]
Being told that straight to my face is a little embarrassing. But for some reason, there’s a strange sense of relief on him upon finding out that I am able to treasure my present way of life.
“Too many people only notice the value of something only after they’ve lost it. Especially the normalcy of one’s day-to-day life. But when you talked about how you enjoyed your days, I could feel through your every word the affection you held for your current life. But at the same time, I also felt how greatly you feared losing it.” [Orest]
“When you talked about your day-to-day life, to me, you looked like someone who has finally acquired a treasure that he had been longing for so long but couldn’t get it until now. Someone like that probably wouldn’t abandon the treasure.
I feel that in order to protect your current life, you’ve unconsciously been trying to become a ‘good child’ by listening to what the adults say… Although you seem really happy now, you also seem constrained.” [Orest]
Unable to understand what he was telling me, I couldn’t figure out how to respond. Before long, Orest-san spoke again.
“It’s nothing worth worrying over. Please just forget what I said.” [Orest]
As he said that and bid me goodbye, he went back into the carriage and left.
He showed more emotions today, and he was also a lot more frank, so I thought he was a lot easier to understand today, but… As I thought, I really don’t understand him.