As he was observing the situation, Anfey couldn’t help but feel anxious. He knew his own limits very well. He could cause chaos in the city, but it wasn’t guaranteed that he would benefit from this chaos. He might even lead all his companions to their doom. He had too little to offer, and didn’t even qualify for sitting at the gambling table. Judging from the current situation, the biggest winner would be Mourta, not him.
Anfey didn’t know, and neither did Yolanthe, that envoys from Ellisen Empire and Shansa Empire had already met. Because of the news from Blackwater City, the envoys had a disagreement. The treaties they discussed before were worthless because of this argument as well. Ellisen and Shansa wanted to split Maho Empire equally, so their strength would grow at a similar rate and maintain a balance. After what happened in Blackwater, however, they had to reconsider their empires’ futures. After they divided Maho Empire, whoever controlled the Country of Mercenaries would be the master of the land.
After three days of absolute silence, Ellisen Empire reacted. They claimed that Anthony’s wife had fallen ill and sent out a team to take care of her. This team’s combined power was higher than the team Shansa sent out to escort the princess. At the head of the team was archmage Mike, and it consisted of eight senior swordsmen and four thousand experienced soldiers. However, it was questionable whether they could reach White Mountain City successfully. Geographically, Blackwater City was closer to Ellisen Empire and White Mountain City was closer to Shansa. Like Shansa’s team must pass White Mountain City, Ellisen’s team must pass the city that had just became ensnarled in the hands of Shansa Empire and Tiger of Tawau mercenary group. Mourtta and Hotchbini would never let them through easily. Thinking from the other’s point of view, Shansa was worried that Anthony would do something as they passed, which was why their team was so large.
After Yolanthe learned about this, he sent a message to Blackwater and gave Anfey the title of "baron."
Anfey didn’t care about the noble title. He observed the situation for a few more days, and discovered that the city had approached the point where it had became more tense inside the city than outside. He knew that Mourtta and Hortchbini meant to control the entire city. Being strangers to the city, Anfey knew they would draw attention very soon.
Anfey spoke with Black Eleven and decided to temporarily leave the city. What surprised him was that Black Eleven handed his work in the city off to another men and decided to leave with them. This meant that he was very interested in his team, which meant the higher ups were, too.
The group left the city very easily with credentials provided by Black Eleven. They had received a new name as well: Alibaba mercenary. The group wasn’t sure who or what Alibaba was, but they trusted Anfey and therefore did not argue against the name.
The road between the two cities was not in the best condition. Even though twenty years had been spent fixing it, an era like this was still lacking technologically. As Anfey sat in the cart, his body shook with the rhythm of the carriage. The young unicorn sat by his feet, its silver head raised and light blue eyes scanning its surroundings. It didn’t appear sad at all, and if it could waggle its tail like a dog, it would look like a little pug.
Suzanna, Niya, and Shally sat in the same carriage,but not because Anfey had planned it that way. Both Suzanna and Niya had requested to sit with him, since the road was long and playing with the unicorn was a way to pass the time.
The road was full of carriages heading to White Mountain City, and only a few headed towards Blackwater City. Clearly people were still unsure what Mourtta’s next step would be. Whether they were merchants or mercenaries making their livings completing missions or hunting for crystals, everyone wanted to live in a relatively peaceful place.
Some caravans traveled fast, some slow. Anfey wanted to let his friends relax a bit, and so their carriages traveled the slowest. In the end, only one merchant’s caravan from Gruce Principality remained close to their carriages. The two caravans had gotten familiar with each other after a few days of traveling.
After they had set up camp for the night, Anfey left his own camp and headed towards the camp of the merchants. After learning that the merchants were from Gruce Principality, Suzanna became visibly upset, and often appeared to be in a daze. Whenever Anfey tried to talk to her, it would take him several tries to gain her attention. He would lose her attention again after a few sentences. Anfey felt that he needed to learn more about the principality. One day they would go there and help Suzanna take back what was hers.
It was a slave owner’s caravan. When Anfey walked into the camp, the merchants were unloading their merchandise. The ones what were cramped into smaller carts were women over the age of thirty. The girls and children’s treatment was better, since they would sold for a better price.
Anfey had always associated slaves with inhumane treatment and torture. After seeing them in person, he realized that it wasn’t entirely true. The older women were treated terribly, but the younger girls all had colorful clothing. There were four artists in the caravan to apply their makeup, and two teachers to teach them how to act properly. The girls must learn how to walk like ladies of noble birth. Whoever failed to do so would be punished. Not whipping, of course. If the punishment left a mark on the slave, there would be a price to pay. There were two senior mages there as well who were responsible for bathing and cleaning the women.
The slaves all appeared healthy and radiant, but it wasn’t hard to ignore the confusion and deep rooted fear in their eyes. They knew that even though they were dressed up beautifully, they were still cargo and not people.
Christian looked at the caravan with disgust. He hated business like this, but he knew that as long as there was war, there would be slaves. Males would become workers, working the dirtiest and most dangerous jobs. The females could make up some debts. Wars cost money, and those in power would not miss any chance to pay their debts.
It didn’t matter what his ideas were: Christian could declare war on the entire continent, but he could not destroy the current system just by himself. Smarter men would try to ignore everything, while the kind ones would try to help the unfortunate. For the entire world, however, it wasn’t worth much.
"My lord! Can’t believe you found time to come around here," the leader of the caravan, Ahab, walked over and said with a smile.
"Thought I would walk around to pass the time," Anfey said.
"Interested in picking one up?" Ahab winked at him. "Be at rest, my lord. I won’t charge you extra. We’re all friends here, and I don’t do that to friends."
Anfey’s eyes swept over the slaves, and he shook his head. "They’re too average," he said. "Not interested." It was an excuse. Even if he was interested, he wouldn’t try to purchase any of them. Surely his companions would react badly. Especially Niya and Suzanna. Who knows how they would react?
His words made Ahab slightly upset. "Come this way, my lord," he said.
Anfey walked with Ahab to a lavishly decorated carriage. Ahab yanked on the fabric that covered the carriage and pulled it off. "How about them?" he asked proudly.
There were only four women in the cart. It seemed like their treatment was even better than the young girls’. They all had light green hair with tall nose bridges and pointy ears. Even their proud and distant expressions were the same.
"What do you say, my lord?"
Anfey glanced at the women’s wrists. They all wore expensive antimagic bracelets. Clearly they could all fight. "I don’t like elves. They all look the same and it's not interesting enough."
"They certainly are not all the same. Look at her eyes."
"Their expressions are all the same."
Ahab sighed. If it had been anyone else, he would think they were bluffing, and only saying they weren't interested because they could afford the price. He was speaking with someone who had two junior magisters as companions, and he knew Anfey could afford it.
"I have another one," Ahab said. "Way better than the elves, I assure you, but I must warn you. She is insane."