The heel of her hands pressed hard against the old, unvarnished wood, of the window sill, while fingers dug in, splinters sliding under nails, to keep purchase. Another sharp tug at her middle, and it was another few millimeters smaller. A foot pressed against her bottom. “Stop breathing!” She expelled that least vestige of air her lungs might possibly contain, and they managed another millimeter or two. “Hold still.” Like she was going to dance a jig when she could not breath.
Bent over, stretched out, with a boot print on her derriere, she looked out the window of the nicest Inn, in which they could find available space. Given that they had arrived in the middle of Festival, the nicest place they could find was just a couple of steps above flea-bitten whore hovel, a step down from seedy merchant Inn, with a glorious view of the slave market.
They were bringing on a group of slaves, that were meant to be sold together: an adult male, three adult females, and two preadolescents, whom which it was hard to tell the gender. Normally, the largest groups sold together, were two, rarely three. The very young and the older slaves could not do the same work as an adolescent or strong adult, so it seemed only fair trade to auction multiples at the rates of prime singles.
She watched in boredom, as the group was lead to the center of the dais, heads lowered, stripped naked, lashed four-point, and then chained together. It crossed her mind to wonder why it was this group was being sold together, but she did not let the thought linger for long. Despite the fact that she had come to the city to seek a reprieve from her father’s constant harping on her how women should not worry their minds with studies and thoughts, and women should not ruin their soft, delicate constitutions with the warrior games of men, she reverted back to the old habit of not letting any thought stick with her for long. Silently, she cursed her parents. They had trained her too well, to staunch her intellectual curiosity, to the point that even when she was escaped from them, she played the dumb female. She forced her concentration back on the scene below, as her two Lady’s maids, busied themselves with primping and dressing her.
The bidding was getting fevered. Even over the raucous Festival crowds she could hear the bids being called out, and see the bidders jumping and gesturing at each other madly. What was so special about this group? Why were they being sold together? What made the people so rabid to acquire them?
At that moment, time slowed down. The male turned and looked up, looked at her. His eyes, wild and penetrating, met hers through the disheveled tangle of his dark hair. He bared his teeth, and the sun reflected a glint of fangs. Wolf they were auctioning off a family of werewolves.
She threw open the window, and leaned out, shouting above the crowd, ”I will double any bid anyone makes”
Hundreds of heads slowly turned upward toward her, falling as silent as such a crowd can get. Her maids were saying something to her, but she could not bother to hear them. Her mind was trapped in the eyes of the male Wolf. She barely registered something being thrown over her. The world was still shifting at a perpetually decelerating pace. The auctioneer pointed to her, “Sold to the nearly naked Lady in the Window, for two hundred gold!”
Time rushed back to normal speed, so quickly she swayed slightly with vertigo. Standing up, she brought herself back in the window, realizing now what had been tossed over her was the bed covering. She had been leaning out the window in nothing save her corset, stockings, and short under-dress. She was just about to turn red with embarrassment, when her maid said something, which caused her to realize she had more problems than being seen by hundreds, maybe thousands of people in her undergarments.
”Oh! My Lady! Your father is going to have a fit!”
She stretched out, feeling every muscle in her body react and comply. Her back arched slightly, her head low to the ground, eyes forward, crouched down and ready to pounce. She relished the feel of her own movement. Ears piqued, searching for the slightest whisper of displaced wind. Her heart told her, he was near. Her nose confirmed it. Deeply, her lungs breathed in his aroma, causing her mouth to salivate. She could taste blood and smell sex, and it thrilled her beyond reckoning. She willed her body to be still, but it would have no part of such irrational thoughts. She stretched and curled, and undulated. The need was building deep in her belly, and screaming to get out.
He was near. He was … moving! Something dropped suddenly behind her and she was trapped. Teeth sank into her neck and a heavy, muscular body pinned her. She wanted this, but she – Panicked.
She woke with a start, still feeling the hot breath on her throat, feeling the warmth of flesh pressing down on her, her nostrils filled with a smell she could not even describe. She could barely control her breathing, as her heart tried to pound out of her chest.
Her maids stirred as she sat up in the bed, but she shushed them back to sleep. She had tried to find another Inn to stay in, but there just was nothing available. She could not even let another room in this one, so she had made her maids give up their bed, for the new comers. They were none to happy with having slaves in their bed, when the new acquisitions should be glad just to have a roof over there head, and a spot to sleep on the floor should be greatly appreciated. The Lady had insisted though, so the maids were sharing her bed and the six slaves squeezed into the smaller bed.
The slaves did not appear to mind the cramped space. They huddled together, seeming to find some kind of comfort in the nearness of the others. The elder females curled around and laid over the dominant male, on one end of the bed, while the two younger, male and female as it turned out, slept entangled together in a ball, at the feet of the older ones.
She had them washed up, as soon as the transaction was completed, and clothed. Others may prefer their slaves naked, or mostly so, to show that they were beneath even being considered human, but it was not the way she had been raised. Her eldest brother, who had been more of a parent to her, than her parents, had always told her that they might be property, but they were also people and she should never forget that. This was usually followed by a lecture about how fate can have cruel twists, and how many of the slaves we own were once noblemen in their own countries before they were conquered. Her father, though not kind to slaves, was far less cruel than some of his contemporaries.
Don’t forget they are also human … but were they … these five strange beings?
“Be careful, Mi’Lady. These are wild beasts, this lot. Never have that silver band removed from their ankles. It keeps them tame, and keeps them human. Powerful magic in those bands, and if removed it escapes. They can’t be just put back on. And don’t let one of those animals be biting anyone. You know that is how they turn good, honest folk like you and me into the likes of them.” The slaver had warned.
She had heard tales of werewolves, but had never seen any in person. They were either rare, or very good at staying hidden from humans. Despite her naivety on the subject, she did know better than believing their bite could turn a person. Her education was enough to know one had to be born one of their kind, you could not become one. The story of a Were’s bite changing a person, was probably started by the wolves, themselves, to discourage people from coming too close. She did however spend the extra money for the anklets. She was not sure how the change happened, or when, but she was not going to take any chances, no matter how badly gouged on the price she was.
She took a deep breath, trying to shake off the dream. She was about to lie back down and try to sleep again, when the small hairs on the back of her neck stood on end. He was watching her. She could not see him in the darkness, but she could feel those eyes on her. Why was he watching her? Was he planning his escape and through her death? What must he think of her? And why did she care?
She laid back down in the bed, trying to ignore the penetrating eyes, peering at her through the darkness. She would just ignore him and go back to sleep. She had nothing to worry about. They were all securely restrained, so they could not get out of the bed or even separated from each other, much less across the room to her.
She would busy her mind with other things until she had such thoughts out of her mind enough to sleep. She would plan out her day tomorrow. They could not stay in this cramped room. With no Inns available, she would have no alternative, then to go knocking on the doors of the local nobles, residing in the city. There were more than a few of them that were beholden to her father, and she was sure she they would gladly give her and her maids and slaves an apartment in their homes, for the season, at least, especially, if she were to shower them with the right gifts as token thanks for their hospitality. Yes, that is what she would do.
A low, quiet growl floated across the room, and into her mind. There would be no more sleep tonight.