Maybe the beginning to a much longer story.
|Morning broke through the wooden boards of my confinement. I rose from the hay and waited patiently for Bronk to open the locked wooden door. I slept in one of the stalls in the barn. This stall, just like the others, had no escape. The walls reached toward the roof and the door was always locked from the outside. It was dark because little light could slip through the closely placed boards. Bronk was my master, and I was his current, unfortunate slave. I existed to serve until death.
“Nika, Nika!” I jumped at the sound of my name. It was Bronk. He was coming. I couldn’t stop my body from tensing up and jumping again at the clunking of the locks being removed. The door swung open and the light pouring through the barn leaked in around Bronk. He was a short, hairy, fat man. He had a bald head but enough hair off of his chin to make up for it. He wore his only pair of sandals with a classic outfit of cloth pants that were too short even for a man of his size and a cloth apron covering his bare chest and falling over his pants. He smiled grotesquely. I hate that smile, and I hate him.
“Hurry up, Nika. Get outside! Izu and his men have returned,” he half yelled. His deep voice echoed in the small stable, so I quickened my step. “GO, Nika. Hurry up. Get their horses watered!” I jumped again, this time moving at a pace he found more acceptable.
I hurried toward the center of town with a full bucket of water. It was heavy, but no one offered me assistance with it. Bronk followed me to the horses where he began to speak with Mr. Izu. Izu had assumed a leadership position in the town. I didn’t understand the specifics, but he has gotten most of the town to follow him. He’s just returned from a part in his plan to trick the castle into sending riders to our town. Once they arrive though, most of the town is prepared to attack them in protest of something. I don’t know what he’s aiming for, but it doesn’t really matter to me.
I watered each of the horses and listened for Bronk’s voice to instruct me otherwise.
“I assume you were successful?” Bronk asked Mr. Izu. Izu chuckled.
“I hope you did not doubt me.” Bronk chuckled lightly with him for a moment.
“Your timing couldn’t have been more perfect. I finished your weapons last night,” Bronk said proudly.
“Wonderful,” Mr. Izu said dismounting his horse. The horse shifted his weight, making me jump. I was lucky I didn’t spill the horse’s water. If I had, I would have had to make another trip.
“Nika,” Bronk called out to me. I jumped, this time scaring Mr. Izu’s horse. The horse raised its head, so I jumped back. When the horse did nothing more, I faced Bronk, who was shaking his head. “Follow us back to the shop with Izu’s horse.”
They immediately turned and left me to do as I was told. I took Mr. Izu’s horse’s reins and walked behind them. Once we reached the blacksmith shop, Bronk continued to bark out orders.
“Hobble his horse Nika, and go in the back and get me Izu’s weapons.” I nodded and did so quickly. I was used to how Bronk acted in front of the towns people versus when we were alone. I actually preferred him barking out orders and showing off my willingness to do as he asks to the town. I returned to him with the box of Mr. Izu’s weapons and presented them on the counter in the center of the workshop.
“It sure does brighten the shop to have a women in here, but I don’t see why you don’t trade this one in for a more beautiful one,” Izu said when I entered the room.
“Out of all of the slaves I’ve had, I have to say I like this one the best,” Bronk said simply. He didn’t elaborate, as if Mr. Izu understood why.
“It seems like she’s calm down a bit,” Izu continued. Bronk chuckled.
“She has. I didn’t mind her fire, but at least she’s stop trying to run away,” Bronk said with a deep, raspy voice.
They were talking about me even though I was in the room. I just ignored them though. I’d once fought and resisted, but I’d long given up. I stopped running and trying to get away. I’d given up and settled with my fate of servitude. I’d grown numb to my situation. I’ve been told that it could be worse.
Izu finished his business with Bronk and left with a wide grin. I overheard that they expected the riders to make landfall before nightfall. They were both greedy men, so they must be after something worth a great deal. I didn’t try to understand them though.
The afternoon rolled in, my favorite time of the day. The heat from the day and flames in the shop usually got to Bronk around this time of the day. This is when he would go into town to run errands. I hated just about everyone in town, so I hated going anywhere except the market.
The market owner was the only decent man in the town and his current slave was my only friend, Tanka. Tanka master, Nymot, has tried to buy me from Bronk multiple times. Bronk won’t settle though. Tanka told me Nymot is persistent because he feels like I’ve been handed around through the worst of the town, but I’ve been told it is worse for the slaves of the dragon riders, magicians, and soldiers. They say you just get handed around like a piece of meat. Bronk isn’t so bad; I’ve gotten used to him. I’ve definitely had worse owners.
I followed Bronk to town when he grew tired of the shop’s intense heat. I followed him closely, knowing the town all too well. I’d once seen a fight in town that ended in a bloody death. Death is one of the scariest things for a slave, whether it is the slave or the master being killed. The law is that when someone is killed, the killer takes possession over everything the dead man once called his; slaves included.
Bronk went to the market first today. I followed him silently and waited for Tanka to notice my arrival. After a nod from Nymot, Tanka approached me. We stood close to each other and whispered, still following Bronk around the store.
“Riders are coming into town tonight,” I whispered to her.
“Oh my. I didn’t think they would succeed.” Her voice was slightly louder than mine. Bronk glanced at us, but we waited until he finished to continue.
“You best make sure Nymot is somewhere safe tonight; you know, out of the way,” I whispered. Tanka nodded.
“I will. You do the same,” she whispered more appropriately toned. “Nymot has been saving his money again,” she said this time with a bright smile.
“Do you think he will make another offer?” I replied, my whisper growing. I couldn’t help but smile. I wanted Bronk to settle. He may grow tired of Nymot’s persistence one day and finally give me up.
“I think he is going to offer Bronk a great deal in the next couple days,” she said motioning her hands as if she was pushing something down. She was obviously trying to bring the excitement down.
“Nika,” Bronk yelled. I couldn’t help but jump. He was at the door, ready to go.
“See you tomorrow, Nika.”
“Yah. See you tomorrow, Tanka,” I said rushing to Bronk’s side. I followed Bronk outside where he led me back through town. Izu approached us noticeably.
“They are coming, Bronk. I estimate they should be here pretty soon. Are you prepared to stand beside me?” he asked so suddenly. Bronk chuckled.
“Of course,” he replied eagerly.
“Good. You have only a little time to prepare. Hurry and meet back here as soon as you can,” Izu said as if he was the captain commander for the town. Bronk nodded and did as Izu told him. I followed him home. He changed into some of the cheap armor he’d crafted and drew up his own sword. I stood on the side of the shop, out of the way.
When Bronk was ready, he turned to me with a vile grin. I hate that smile just as much as I hate him. I already knew what he was thinking, so my instincts forced me to take a step back. My back hit the wall, and Bronk took a step forward.
“You know, you were very well behaved today,” he said stepping in closer. “Izu reminded me of the fire you used to have; I kind of miss it, you know,” he said tauntingly. He came up upon me and gently brushed my red hair behind my shoulder. He slowly let his hand drop down my left side. He reached down my leg as far as his short, fat arm could reach. From there he started to raise my dress with one hand, and pushing down his pants with the other.
“Come on, Nika. Fight back like you used to,” he said breathy. His pants dropped to his knees, and he pressed himself into me. He waited there a moment, as if waiting for me to fight back. I didn’t. I had the first couple times, but when I realized he was enjoying it, I stopped. Why would I want to do something to make him happy? This isn’t a life I chose for myself. I hate him; I don’t want him to be happy.
When he realized this, he forcefully thrusted himself inside of me. I jumped but did nothing. I turned my head to the side, like I always did, and waited for him to finish. I disconnected myself from my body as much as I could in order to keep myself from fighting back. I clenched my eyes tightly when I felt Bronk’s hand move onto my chest. It took everything I had not to pull away. I didn’t let myself move, scream, or lash out in response to the pain he was causing me over my existence. I hate him. I hate him enough to kill him. I’d never try it though. I know the only punishment would be death. I know it could be worse. I was used to Bronk. Overall, he wasn’t that bad. There are worse men than he.
Bronk pulled away, signaling he was finished. My eyes opened, and my body became my own once again. I closed my legs and started to push the bottom of my dress back down, when Bronk drew in closer.
“When was the last time you spoke to me, I wonder,” he said suddenly. “Tch,” he sounded as he turned away, allowing me to recompose myself. “Definitely not as fun as it used to be; careful, Nika. You may lose your place here if you keep this up.” His words made me jump. He chuckled when he saw this fear in me. “You’re good, Nika, but not that good.”
He turned and started out the door. I covered myself more appropriately before following him, like nothing had happened. I stayed silent but thoughtful. What can I do? I don’t want things to change, but I don’t want to pleasure him. If I don’t though, he’ll get rid of me. Things will change; who knows if for better or worse.
I stopped when Bronk did and found him by Izu’s side. It hasn’t always been that way. Izu had once fought in the castles army. When he returned, he claimed vengeance against the castle, but I never found out why. His proclamation of vengeance gained him much popularity, so Bronk has taken to him. I’m not quite sure why Bronk followed him. I doubt they are seeking money, but for Bronk to take part, it must be something great.
We waited there for quite a while. The sun was already setting before something appeared in the sky. Slowly it approached, and its massive size was revealed to us. Three dragons hovered in the sky of our village struggling to land in the space provided between the shops and homes of the townspeople. The dragons were ugly. Their heads were squared and rounded around their chin. Their faces were flat and scaly. Two of the dragons were brown; the other was black. The dragons retracted their wings, making more room in the center of the town. I took a step back and heard Bronk chuckle.
“Go on and take a couple steps back, Nika. I don’t want you to get caught up in this,” he said chuckling again. I did so, backing up into an ally way of two buildings. The dragon’s riders stepped down and approached Mr. Izu. The three riders stood taller than any of the men standing behind Izu.
“I’m afraid I don’t see the marauders threatening this town as you suggested,” the man standing in the center asked. This man appeared the youngest out of the three. His muscle build was nothing though, compared to the men standing beside him. He was toned but only that. The two men on either side of him were older and far more muscular.
Izu gritted his teeth, immediately drew his sword at the man facing him.
“You bastard, Rizo. I’ll kill you for stealing my position and humiliating me,” he said swinging his sword at the thin man in the center. The man he called Rizo easily caught his sword with his own swiftly drawn sword. A wordless fight suddenly broke out when Bronk drew his own weapon, aiming to double team Rizo. The muscular man on Rizo’s right swift fully cut down Bronk. Blood splashed through the air, as I watched Bronk slowly fall face first into the dirty street.
“No,” I whispered, taking a step forward, out of the dark alley. The sunlight warped m, and pushed me into a run toward his fallen body. I crumbled beside it.
“Bronk, Bronk,” I called out to him. My eyes began to fill with my fear when his body remained motionless. I looked up, my ears deaf to the chaos around me. Most of the men behind Izu ran, those who stood their ground were now on the ground behind him. I jumped when I heard a thud behind me; turning my eyes met Izu’s. He held his bleeding shoulder but stayed on the ground.
“Good job, my son,” an old, strong voice echoed from behind me. The man who had cut down Bronk now stood next to Rizo with his hand on his shoulder. Rizo sheathed his sword at this. The man, an older looking man with thick grey hair, tanned skin, and armor on both hands and his right shoulder stepped forward, toward Izu.
“Rizo didn’t take your promotion to captain, Izu,” the man said calmly. He knelt over Izu with a grin. “I did.” Izu gritted his teeth.
“You created a decoy for yourself against me. If you’re that afraid of me, then you don’t deserve the position,” he said trying to grin through his pain. His grin faded when the captain chuckled.
“I created a decoy for fun. You are not strong enough for me to have any fear for you,” he said chuckling again.
“Then just kill me already, Zyne,” Izu said, sounding almost embarrassed he’d tried to go up against the riders. The captain chuckled again.
“I’m not going to kill you, Izu. I’m bringing you in,” he said glancing toward Rizo. Rizo stepped forward and apprehended him.
“I’ll catch up, Rizo,” the captain said turning in my direction. “I’ve never seen a slave cry for her master.” I jumped, so he explained. “I can tell because no father would allow his daughter to dress like you are now.”
I turned away from him, looking back down to Bronk’s dead body. My tears were not for Bronk. My tears were for myself. Having a rider as a master is said to be the worst possible master to have; I’d grown used to Bronk but now everything will change.
“What is your name?” he asked of me. I opened my mouth to speak, but I could not make myself respond. My voice was lost. I looked up to him, without a response.
“Come on, you can tell me. You can call me Zyne if that helps,” he said gently. My mouth was still open. I tried to speak, but I couldn’t.
I jumped at a loud shrill of my name rang out over the town, “Nika, Nika!” Tanka called out to me from the doorway of the market. Nymot quickly silenced her and hid her within the market. She was unusually resistant with him though; she continued to call out to me.
Zyne pulled me to my feet by the string of leather that wrapped around my neck three times to hold my dress on my shoulders. He used it to get me to follow him toward Nymot.
“I assume you know this women,” Zyne asked Nymot and Tanka. Tanka was silent by this point; frozen in the fear of Zyne’s intentions.
“Yes, Nika here was a slave to the blacksmith. She has not spoken to her master in years, so I would not expect much talk from her,” he said plainly. Zyne’s eyes wandered to Tanka, and obviously brought her discomfort. She slipped behind Nymot shyly.
“Would you be interested in a trade? Your slave for mine?” Zyne said facing Nymot. Nymot didn’t hesitate in shaking his head no. “Not even if I threw in a couple coins?” Nymot cleared his throat.
“I’m sorry. She isn’t for sale,” he said firmly.
“Fine. So you say the man I killed was a blacksmith?”
“Yes. His shop is only a short walk from here.” Nymot said glancing toward me in between every word.
“Good. Thank you…so she won’t ever talk to me?” he asked glancing toward me.
“That is entirely up to her, but she might be experiencing a little shock from everything that just happened so I wouldn’t push her too hard,” he said hinting.
“Maybe, but that doesn’t explain her not speaking to her previous master, the blacksmith.” Zyne grabbed one of the strings of leather from around my neck, and started to lead me down the direction Nymot had motion the shop to be.
“Wait!” Nymot called out once more. “Please, allow me to buy Nika off of you. She’s been through some rough masters in the past, and I can take good care of her.” Captain Zyne chuckled.
“I’m sorry; she’s not for sale,” he said just as Nymot said before. Nymot’s face faded into sadness.
“Then I guess this is goodbye, Nika,” he said leaning in and kissing my cheek. He leaned in toward my ear and whispered, “Find your fire, Nika. You may need it to survive this time.”
Once Nymot pulled away, the captain pulled me toward the shop. Even though it was clearly marked, I ended up having to lead him to it. We entered, and Zyne released me while he searched Bronk’s belongings. I stood near the door, without a thought of trying to run. Running from Bronk was much different from running from this man. Running from this man was more than useless. He left me by the door without glancing up to make sure I don’t make a break for the open streets. He either doesn’t care or knows he could easily catch me.
“The silence really bugs me,” said Zyne’s deep, raspy voice. I jumped in surprise and turned to him. “I won’t rush you to speak to me, but the silence really gets to me.”
I was curious to why but didn’t bother to ask. It didn’t matter really. Instead, I stepped further into the room toward him. He questioned my worth to him; something that could end fatally. If I’m only a burden, he’ll kill me or worse. I have to make him feel like I’m valuable. He simply watched as I reached him, leaning my body up close to his.
“I know why you wanted to trade me with Tanka,” I said in a dry voiced whisper. I glanced up at his eyes and continued when he was silent. “You do not think I am beautiful, but there is a reason I’ve been passed around so much, how I’ve lived long enough to be passed around so much,” I said raising myself up on my tip toes. I tried to kiss him, but my lips could not reach his. He was just too tall.
He raised his left arm to my face, the cold metal from his armored hand chilling my face. He did not meet me to kiss me though, something I did not expect.
“Is this not what you want?” I asked, glancing up to his eyes. His () eyes were moving around quickly; glancing down at me, then up and around.
“Maybe…” he said hesitantly. I jumped when his thumb moved, smearing a tear across my cheek. “Just not with you crying like this.” I stepped back, not even having realized I’d been crying.
“Come on, Nika. Let’s get out of this city,” Zyne said grabbing a single sword from the shop. I jumped to follow him. Maybe this won’t be so bad.