༺ Inn (4) ༻
“There’s not much I really desire. All I want is to be free from having to live in such a narrow world, as a slave, don’t you know it too?”
Larissa said so while still cautiously pointing the pistol at Siwoo
Siwoo could sympathize with Larissa’s desire for freedom since he was a slave.
Didn’t Siwoo, who yearned to regain his freedom, study magic every day to escape from this place?
“I have a suggestion that might interest you, all you have to do is carry the witch into our ship, The Nagaho. We’ve gotten a pass from Enquiry City Hall, so no one would even bat an eye at us setting sail. Once the mission is finished we can live under the protection of the witch who helped us, you get what I mean, right?”
To make her offer even more appealing, Larissa smiled gleefully.
“You can be free as well, and return to the modern world.”
At first glance, the offer looked very appealing to him.
It was only after remembering a bit of information he read in a book about witches that Siwoo realized why Larissa hadn’t shot him yet, and instead had made such an offer.
“It’s because of autonomous defense.”
Larissa shrugged her shoulders as if she had nothing to hide.
It was one of the traits that would naturally manifest when the witch’s brand reached rank 15 or higher in the Witchcraft hierarchy.
The effect of this trait was exactly what it sounded like.
The autonomous defense magic circle that would respond to unexpected attacks.
When the amount of shock and damage reached a certain threshold, the autonomous defense would automatically activate, even without the use of magic.
It was a type of magic that prevented witches from being unexpectedly attacked and killed without passing on their brand.
Because it was used for this reason, the effect of autonomous defense was especially strong while the victim was either asleep or unconscious.
Amelia was now sound asleep due to an unknown drug, meaning the autonomous defense magic was at its most dangerous.
“It is said that you should never touch a sleeping witch, in addition to shocks, autonomous defense magic detects human malice. It can cast a spell if someone with hostility lightly touches a sleeping witch’s body. It’s really troubling that I can’t even use my hands, despite carefully putting her to sleep.”
Only Siwoo was able to properly touch Amelia since he had no malicious feelings toward her, which prevented Larissa from shooting him or Fyodor from killing him right away.
The thought of getting killed made his hair stand on end.
“You have good feelings for this witch, so her autonomous defense won’t activate, so please, just carry her to the ship.”
Siwoo crouched and looked down at Amelia, who had fallen asleep.
She curled up and fell asleep like a baby, her eyes twitching as though she were having a nightmare.
While looking down at the Associate Professor sleeping helplessly on the floor, Siwoo couldn’t help but recall the days he had to endure such hellish torture under Amelia and her awful attitude towards him.
He was forced to clean the bathroom in the middle of the night and then without rest he was told to cut off a moose’s antlers, or if he was lucky he would just get more overtime added to his already long hours, but even after all those trials and tribulation, he had worked as hard as he could over the past five years.
One couldn’t be sure Amelia didn’t hold animosity toward him due to the way she tormented him for so long. If she didn’t like him, touching her right now may cause him to be hurt by the autonomous defensive magic.
“Um, there seems to be a misunderstanding. I hate this witch. If I touch her, the autonomous defense will be activated.”
“It didn’t respond when you checked on her condition, so I’m certain that you are lying. Even after being so close to her, nothing is happening and the autonomous defense magic is showing no reaction to your approach. When I tried to get close to her earlier the magic began to squirm, no matter what approach I took. The autonomous defense detected my malicious thoughts for the witch, but you don’t seem to harbor such feelings.”
Siwoo was bewildered when he realized he hadn’t been attacked by the autonomous defense magic and his assumption that Amelia disliked him had been proven wrong yet again.
Siwoo was sitting right next to Amelia and not long ago, he checked Amelia’s breathing by placing his finger under her nose meaning the distance between them was quite close.
“If you still doubt what I said, just confirm it.”
“It’s good to be cautious, but don’t think about pulling any tricks. I insisted on making this offer to give you a way out of here. That didn’t mean we couldn’t get her to the ship without you. There will be some delay, but we can capture any random citizen from the outside and have them carry her to the ship.”
“Hurry up, and come on.”
As she urged Siwoo, she pointed the gun’s muzzle directly at his head.
Siwoo had no choice but to gently place his hand on Amelia’s shoulder.
Siwoo’s breathing was ragged and his heart was racing so much so that his anxiousness was increasing as his hand touched Amelia’s shoulder, he assumed that the autonomous defense magic would react and as he was waiting for the worst, surprisingly nothing happened. Siwoo’s racing heart eventually stopped and his breathing stabilized.
Siwoo was relieved when he realized nothing had happened.
Amelia was surprisingly soft to the touch, and despite her small stature she always walked with a proud gait that made it feel as if she were out of reach like a dazzling star in the night sky, yet at this moment Siwoo was able to touch her slender shoulder with his rugged hands.
Siwoo could feel Amelia’s warmth as well as her delicate and soft skin all over his palms.
“See nothing happened, right?”
“Isn’t it a little too easy for you to judge, one wrong move, and I’m dead.”
Larissa simply grinned without a care for the world.
“Just by looking into your eyes, I can tell you’re a good and kind boy, which makes me wonder how someone so kind could possibly abandon the witch he serves? It simply isn’t feasible.”
As she watched Siwoo contemplate what she had said, her confident smile showed she truly believed in her assumption that Siwoo did not harbor any hatred toward the witch.
“It’s a good contract, isn’t it? You hand the witch over to us, and we free you from your servitude, it’s a win-win situation for everyone involved. Now lift her up.”
At Larissa’s urging, Siwoo put his hands under Amelia’s knees and back and carefully lifted her up.
She looked incredibly relaxed, despite being unaware of the events taking place around her or the reason behind her slumber.
Siwoo’s long-awaited escape seemed to be within arms reach but his morals prevented him from accepting Larissa’s offer. He didn’t want to be free if it meant dirtying his hands by killing Amelia, even if she had a nasty attitude and treated him like a pet, he would surely live to regret it.
All he had to do was carry her to their ship but he was still skeptical about whether or not they could guarantee her safety.
“Nobody’s going to lose anything, right?”
He couldn’t help but confirm the fate of Amelia as he was worried about her safety.
“What about Amelia?”
“The witch who acted so arrogantly will atone for her sins by being offered as a sacrifice.”
“You know that a witch whose brand is taken away will die, don’t you?”
Larissa frowned and wondered why he was asking such a question in such an accusatory tone.
“So this is wrong? If anything is wrong, it’s the existence of this damned city itself. Isn’t that something you should know by now? You’ve been made a slave, and deprived of your freedom! I’m just trying to help you get it back!”
She was still aiming the pistol at Siwoo.
Siwoo was unsure of how Larissa would react if he ignored her orders from this point forward and didn’t want things to escalate out of control; there was, however, still a method in which he could easily escape this dire situation.
All he had to do was agree to Larissa’s proposal.
He would once again experience the freedom that he so deserved all he had to do was hand Amelia over to them and then fully erase her existence from his mind.
It was an undeniable fact that Siwoo hated Amelia, but his feelings for her were a bit more complicated than that. It was hard to put into words, but you shouldn’t misunderstand, he hated Amelia but he never hated her so much as to kill her.
Even after all the pain he had endured by her hands, he still didn’t feel she was wicked enough to deserve death.
“…Don’t do this.”
Larissa’s expression distorted as she saw Siwoo, who was determined to persuade her to spare Amelia.
“Enough already, even if you insist, what is left for you?”
He had nothing to gain but if he had to say anything, it would be ‘Adaptation.’
It would be nice to put it that way.
He could have enjoyed slave life with a bit more freedom if he had been as submissive as Takasho from the start and attempted to adjust to the situation.
If he had adapted to Amelia’s childish resentment, he wouldn’t have gotten so involved with her but if he got too comfortable with his way of life in Gehenna he may have never learned magic and instead spent his days serving witches or working hellish hours.
Now that Amelia’s life was in danger, the only thing left to do was persuade Larissa.
“Gaining freedom by selling other people’s lives is wrong, I’m sorry, but I can’t join you.”
Larissa’s lips trembled as she bit down on them.
It wasn’t something as simple as feeling humiliated for having her goodwill rejected, but an internal struggle where one side was urging her to go through with the kidnapping no matter the cost, and the other side begging her to stop before she regrets her decision.
A truly evil individual wouldn’t feel so conflicted about committing a crime but Larissa was different. She wasn’t an evil individual and understood that what she was doing was wrong, thus an inking of uncertainty remained.
As Siwoo read her hesitant expression he suddenly remembered a remark that Larissa had made that bothered him so he questioned her about his concern.
“Isn’t this too dangerous, the Witch who promised to release you guys rather than abandon you is an Outcast.”
Furthermore, if the witch wanted to take away Amelia’s brand, she would be one of the most demented among the outcasts.
Was there any assurance that such a vile witch would keep her word?
“This is a risky deal not only for me but also for my sister and the crew…”
“I figured out that much, how about other matters?”
After conversing with Siwoo, Larissa realized that he was smart enough to figure out situations quickly if given enough information, so it wasn’t anything surprising to her.
“I don’t want to shoot you, so hurry up and move. If you’re so afraid of the exiled witch, we’ll just go out by ourselves.”
There was a ruckus on the side of the stairs as the confrontation between them continued.
Following Fyodor, three crew members who had previously left the bar to go get ready to set sail entered the room.
“Hey, what’s going on?”
Larissa shook her head in dismay as she watched those four morons strolling into the room.
Fyodor’s thick lips twisted into a sneer.
“Why bother doing something so troublesome when we can just have a citizen handle it? Hey Timmy, go get someone!”
Fyodor ordered one of the crew members to bring a citizen and walked over to Siwoo as the crew member dashed down the stairs once again.
“You mean you can’t sell off the witch you serve, right? How touching; it makes me want to cry.”
Siwoo cautiously moved back while embracing Amelia as Fyofor approached, Unfortunately for him the guest rooms in the tavern were small, thus he had little room to move back.
His back met the wall before he could even take a few steps back, trapping him with no way to escape the approaching gorilla-like man.
The lantern on the wall flickered near Siwoo’s head as he stood with his body pressed against the wall.
“How shall I crush you?”
Larissa intervened before Fyodor, who had a wicked look on his face could begin.
“Join me when you’ve tied him up, It would be pointless to torture him.”
“What type of bullshit are you spouting now? I know what that asshole is up to behind the scenes. Before we get there, let’s have some fun.”
Siwoo could smell Fyodor’s terrible breath as he talked, despite Siwoo himself being an arm’s reach away from him.
Fyodor’s bloodshot eyes roamed all over Amelia’s body, all kinds of perversion could be seen within them.
“Hey, kiddo, take off her clothes. I can’t fuck her, but I have to see what a witch’s cunt looks like.”
Fyodor couldn’t put a finger on Amelia’s body due to the autonomous defense, but Siwoo could so he attempted to threaten Siwoo into stripping Amelia.
Siwoo quickly cast a sidelong glance at the lamp next to his head.
It was a stroke of luck for him as he discovered a glimmer of hope to escape from his hopeless situation.
“Do you know the difference between an oil lamp and a mana lamp?”
“What are you talking about all of a sudden?”
Siwoo held unconscious Amelia firmly in one hand.
He then moved his hand closer to the lamp’s hem that was attached to the wall right next to his head.
“‘Decorative fire’ is the lighting magic used throughout Gehenna. This is a first-tier elemental magic, which reduces the heat of sparks and increases the brightness of light.”
The lamp that contained the fire used for illumination was generally made of glass.
One would expect the fire inside the land to heat up the glass enclosing it if it were made by burning oil, but when Siwoo touched it there was no heat.
“It looks like the lamp is not producing heat like an oil lamp. That means a decorative flame is inside of it.”
“Did he go crazy realizing he was about to die?”
Siwoo opened the lamp with a twist and slipped his hand inside while they were still unable to grasp what he was saying.
The fire in the mana lamp looked exactly like an oil lamp, but the properties of the fuel were completely different.
“The fuel for the mana lamp is a mixture of a little bit of mana water and alchemy.”
“What’s up with that?”
Although the mana water was too impure and wild to be used for magic experiments, it was enough for him to control and reshape the mana that had been used to form a flame.
Siwoo forcibly activated the mana water mixed in with the fuel.
The “decorative flame” he held in the palm of his hand started to quiver violently when the mana was unleashed.
In order to more precisely control the fire, Siwoo was now examining its chemical composition.
The overclocked flames gathered and rolled on the palms of his hand after the stabilizer was removed.
The flame adopted the form of a pyrokinetic serpent. It wrapped around Siwoo while blazing ferociously with its tongue protruding, Siwoo could control the flame serpent with the palm of his hand.
He had no trouble keeping it under control.
It was just magic of the first tier after all.
“Wh-What’s going on?”
“How can a slave cast a spell….!”
Larissa, Fyodor, and an unnamed sailor were all in awe as they saw a slave pull off a feat that was thought to be impossible.
The flames, which seemed to dance in sync with his hand motion, were flaring once again.
It could be seen at a glance that the form of these flames were anything but ordinary.
The decorative fire, which had been interfered with by mana, wriggled like a living creature and became a wall that separated Siwoo and the crew.
Even so, not all of the problems had been solved.
That fuel in the lamp had too little mana in it.
If he had used it to just light the room, he could have used it for over a month, but if he wanted to ignite such a ferocious flame, the mana could only be used for a maximum of 30 seconds.
Therefore, in order to destroy the opponent’s fighting spirit and obstruct their field of vision, he first built a wall of fire that was visually realistic and afterward transformed the flame into a pyrokinetic snake.
The temperature of the fire was only about 70 degrees Celsius at that moment.
The flame wall was so thin that they could easily cross it if they wanted, meaning, Siwoo was just bluffing.
“Larissa, what are you waiting for?! Shoot!!”
To those who were unaware that he had utilized these flames as bluffs, the magnificence of the flames that blazed like hellfire was breathtaking.
“I- I don’t know!”
One of the crew members had already bolted from the room after being terrified of the magnificent flames, but Fyodor and Larissa were different.
They knew what kind of future would unfold if they couldn’t capture the witch and let the slave escape.
“So what will you do if I miss the shot and kill the witch?”
“If you let them escape like this, we’re all dead, you crazy bitch!”
As Fyodor was attempting to take the pistol away from Larissa, who managed to stop him, Siwoo discovered the solution to his problem. He would need to create another spell while his bluff was still in effect.
He found that Amelia’s lessons were helpful in situations like these.
Men, unlike women, couldn’t store mana.
However, unlike women, they could generate weak mana.
Even though it was just a tiny amount, the mana generated was far greater than the minuscule amount of mana found in the lamp.
Siwoo had created new spells before, thus he should be able to do it once again.
With that thought, Siwoo lowered his gaze.
There, he could see Amelia’s little chest moving gently up and down in sync with her breath.
Without hesitation, Siwoo immediately rolled up Amelia’s dress.
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