—After that were ten minutes of walking.
We finally arrived at a brick building that had no signs nor decorations and had turned gray over the years.
The windows were hammered with wooden boards, so that the inside couldn’t be seen from the outside.
It didn’t look very much like an inn, probably to prevent intrusion. The demon’s inns were quite wild.
The chief opened the door and pulled me inside, so I almost tripped and fell over the crooked floorboards.
I raised my head and took a closer look at the interior and saw a single orange light unreliably illuminating the area.
Lined up at the end were tables and worn-out cloths, and there seemed to be what looked like a counter too. Then, there were some broken shelves alongside the walls.
There were stairs at the back, but it was too dim to see the top. The guest rooms were probably in there.
The mermen came in one after the other and closed the door. Immediately after, I heard a clanking, hard sound, but I couldn’t tell what it was.
There wasn’t anyone around, and it didn’t look much like it was open for business. However, it was probably typical, seeing as no one was finding it strange.
It wasn’t a good idea to point out cultural differences. I used to sleep outside when I went on a journey before, so I was already fortunate enough to have a roof over my head.
I faced the chief standing behind me and bowed my head.
“Thank you for showing me the way. How much do I have to pay to stay for one night?”
“Don’t mention it. Fer the price, let’s see—we’ll be grabbin’ the rest of yer money ‘n yer life. All of it.”
“? What do you…!”
The next instant, he seized my hand, twisted it up and lifted my body into the air.
I quickly threw a kick at him, but he stopped it with no trouble.
Nevertheless, I twisted my hips and shook off the hand that grabbed me, followed by a quick swing of my leg downward.
However, it was far quicker for him to wield his massive body with force and pull me down to the dusty, crude floor.
“Ye’re a foolish, naïve bastard, but ye have good reflexes. But see… I ain’t naïve enough to be kicked by a powerless cat.”’
He mocked me with hints of amusement. He then ordered his men to bind my arms behind my back and my ankles together.
When I was being tied up, I positioned my hands so that the base of my thumbs was together and waited for an opportunity to escape.
I was covered in dust and rolled onto my back to the point where I was completely unable to move. I cursed my heedlessness from the bottom of my heart.
—Oh… It was a trap, huh…
I had always been vulnerable to traps. I wouldn’t be taken in by flattery, but I would always foolishly fall for deceptions.
Even when I felt suspicious, I just couldn’t help but put my trust in them. I guess I used the fact that it was easier to trust someone as an escape since it was hard for me to doubt them.
As a result, I had been betrayed so often. I understood well enough that it was all my fault for believing them for my own selfish reasons.
Wasn’t there a phrase that says, ‘fool me twice, shame on you’1In Japanese, it’s something like, ‘Those who deceive are bad, but those who get deceived are worse.’ Meaning, those who get deceived (maybe repeatedly) were at fault, for falling for the same tricks or letting their guard down.? That’s the reason why I don’t hold grudges. …There’s just a little tight feeling in my throat.
I bit my lip bitterly, and they looked down at me with grins and sneaky smiles, as if they were making fun of a bug that had been stripped of its wings.
“What… What do you plan on doing now that you’ve captured me…? You demons have power, so humans shouldn’t even be considered as danger to you. Things will just become complicated if you captured me with that intention, and it won’t do you any good either.”
“Kukuku… There’s that too, no…?”
He spoke in a strong, indifferent tone, so that I would know that he wasn’t giving in at all and stomped on my head with the sole of his shoe, just as if I were a pathetic creature.
“If we’re just to sell ye as grub, ‘n that’s it, there’re still plenty of people who have grudges against humans. It’d be better if we took them their money ‘n let them torment ye to vent their stress. We’ll make a small fortune with it. We could even heal humans with poor resilience their slight injuries with water recovery magic. If they’re broken beyond repair, we could just let them be eaten. Humans are very ecological livestock.”
“No mistakin’ it. Yer very smart, chief! Plus, ‘tis so rare to keep a human, so they could be used as pets if they’re trained ‘n sold.”
“Nice? Ye’d be surprised how many rascals would want to wreak havoc on such a handsome man like ye. If ye get ripped off from them ventin’, we could just sell ye to them perverts.”
“Hee hee, that sounds great. Ain’t ye happy?”
I had been mocked and ridiculed all over the place, mouthing off about how I was going to be treated, and yet I still had no choice but to remain lying on the floor.
But I couldn’t help but feel agitated when I heard about the latter and glared at them fearlessly as the chief removed his feet from the top of my head.
Demons possessed a rather extreme nature. And when they became hostile, they would eliminate the weaker ones.
I was never attacked in the castle despite being defenseless since Azel had persuaded everyone from the start.
He knew exactly what to expect. The only reason why I was able to live in peace in and around the castle was due to his efforts.
Ahh, damn it. That’s right.
When I learned about this world back in the human realm, they even taught me that if I heedlessly tried to live on my own, I would be abducted.
I was the perfect example of that right now. I had to clean up after my own mess.
An unarmed hero without a sword was just a vulnerable human being and there was nothing I could do about it when things came to this.
If so, I just had to observe the situation for now and flee when I see an opening.
Fortunately, it hadn’t been that long since I ate a light meal and took a rest. I still had strength.
However, a swift stare had pierced through my body. He, perhaps, saw vigor in me, who had been acting tough while lying on the floor, trying to find a way out somehow.
The chief had been looking down on me with his arms crossed, when he snorted and roughly grabbed me by the collar.
“Don’t get yer feisty eyes all o’er the place, you shitty cattle. It seems like ye want to be stuck here fer a longer while, no…?”
“Ha… What’re you…!”
His fierce arm slid his sharp claws nimbly into the crevice of my collar, grabbed the edge of my innerwear and relentlessly tore the fabric apart.
Scraps of my black innerwear fluttered to the floor. The chief and the mermen all looked at my exposed body as if they were looking at a meal.