Brighten Up My Hell

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic


When a slave boy is given a chance to escape he grasps it with both hands but is it really a chance to escape? Or is it a chance for something else entirely?

Submitted: August 04, 2018

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Submitted: August 04, 2018

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Brighten Up My Hell

In a dark, dingy basement of a slavers house, boys as young as ten were chained up awaiting uncertain fates. Five to a cage, ankles chained together and collared to the wall, all of them shirtless and filthy. One reaches out to another only to be slapped away and rejected.

He turned to his brother who is was captured by the slavers some months before him, ‘What’s that guys problem?’

‘Just leave him alone. He has a foul temper.’ he replied, ‘I heard his father sold him here years ago so he could buy nothing but booze. He’s apparently been bought and returned six times! Each time he is beaten and so he is a little touchy.’

‘Really?!’ he exclaimed.

His brother rested his head on the wall behind him, ‘Just leave him alone. If we talk to much to one another we’ll all get a beating.’ he immediately fell silent.

The slavers came in, ‘What kind of slave do you want, sir? We have all kinds.’

His eyes glanced over all the boys in the collection but came to rest on the silver haired boy one of the brothers tried to be friends with. He smirked, ‘That one.’ he pointed him out and the guards went to fetch him.

He tried to fight back but his hands were quickly bound behind his back and dragged out, ‘This one is very high spirited, we have tried disciplining him severely but it has had no effect on his foul attitude are you sure you want this one?’

The buyer grabbed the chain attached to his collar and yanked him over, pulling him to his knees and his chained ankles tripped him and choked him slightly from the shock of the sudden movement.

‘The only thing these slaves understand is punishment.’ he smiled and examined that he had no visible marks or blood on him, ‘Clearly you weren’t hitting him hard enough, there’s not a mark on him. He has scars yes but nothing else.’

‘He has been uncharacteristically well behaved for the past three months, so we have had no cause to hit him.’ explained the slaver, ‘You don’t damage the stock unnecessarily.’

‘I’ll take him.’ he replied, ‘He looks like he’ll be fun to break in.’

Three days past and the boy was dragged back unconscious, bloody and bruised, tightly bound he was thrown at the slavers feet, ‘This boy is useless and a menace! I want my money back!’

‘What did he do?’ asked the slaver.

‘He attacked one of my servants who I ordered to attend to his wounds!’ he yelled, ‘He almost killed him! It took six men to restrain him and drag him back here!’

The slaver returned his money, ‘I am sorry sir. Please pick another slave of your choosing for free.’ he looked at the boy who was brought back, gritted his teeth and kicked him, ‘I knew I should have never bought you!’ he turned to some guards, ‘Lock him up on his own! No food or water for three days!’

The boy was dragged into solitary confinement, it was a small room barely big enough for one person, no light source to speak of. He was sat up against the wall and chained with his wrists above his head, his ankles were chained and was still collared.

He regained consciousness long enough to learn of his new surroundings, he heard the slavers muffled voice, ‘No one is to enter this room for three days! Understood?’ he heard the guards agree and the door was locked. Leaving him in the dark.

No light was visible, not even from round the cracks of the door. No sound was audible, not even muffles of voices or shuffles of movement. The room grew colder and colder as time past. He exhaled and relaxed his hands, he heard the chains and realised how he was chained up.

He thought, ‘Great! I’m back here again!’ he brought his knees to his chest, ‘I hate to admit it, but…I am really scared right now.’

Two days past and he was still left in solitary confinement, he slept where he was, not that he had much choice in the matter. Outside however, a high roller was escorted in.

‘It is a pleasure to meet you sir.’ the slaver grovelled, knowing this mans notorious reputation for a temper, ‘How may I assist you today? Lord Henry.’

‘I am looking for a slave.’ he replied.

‘Of course sir. I’ll show you our best.’ he was taken to the upper level and shown boys in suits who bowed upon his arrival.

‘Good morning sir, how may I assist you?’ they all said together as if they were robots. However he noticed they were all shaking with fear of both being sold and being rejected, almost as if they didn’t know which to fear more.

Henry exhaled and looked away, ‘They’ll all too perfect!’

‘Excuse me sir?’ he said, ‘These are our best boys.’

‘Too perfect.’ he answered bluntly.

‘We do have some boys that are still in training if you wanted a project to mould how you liked but they are downstairs.’ he explained.

Henry looked to the door, ‘Through here is it?’ he asked opening it he saw the stairs. The slaver followed Henry down. Henry saw all the boys in the cages, cowering away as he approached the bars and then saw a room at the end, ‘Who’s in there?’

‘Oh it’s nothing! He was selected but he was too rebellious and hurt a staff member. He’s locked up in solitary confinement for the time being.’ the slaver explained, ‘We have better slaves, sir.’ trying to divert his attention away from the door, ‘That one would be of no interest to you.’

‘Of no interest?! You’re mistaken. I want to meet that one!’ Henry replied bluntly, ‘Unlock the door and go away.’

The slaver started sweating, ‘Sir, I would strongly advise against that. It is both highly irregular to meet a slave of his standing alone and it is also dangerous considering his history.’

‘I assume he is chained up?’ he asked, the slaver nodded, ‘Then, what’s the harm?’ knowing he had no choice but to do as he said. He unlocked the door and walked away.

Inside he heard it unlock and looked to where the sound came from, awaiting who ever would come round the door.

He wasn’t expecting who he got, nor was the man expecting to find what he found. The skinny boy was topless wearing ragged trousers stained with blood, his skin was covered in dirt, blood and wounds. His hair cut carelessly with knives and left matted and filthy. Even in the dim light he could see he was abused.

Where as Henry was the polar opposite, his muscular sculpted from flattered by his clothing and perfect skin tone. There wasn’t a single mark on his body and his hair was perfectly set in place.

‘Hello there?’ he saw the restraints holding him down, he smiled, ‘You look as if you’re having some trouble there.’

‘What’s the stupid grin for huh? Having fun watching me?’ he asked abruptly.

Henry knelt down to the boy, ‘Do you always speak like that? No wonder the staff here aren’t too pleased with y……’ he was interrupted by the boy.

‘Let me make one thing clear asshole.’ the boy looked up stern and stoic, ‘I will not be sold to you! I refuse! You buy me and I’ll make it very difficult for you to keep me! I will never be owned by you.’

Henry chuckled, ‘Very aggressive aren’t you?!’

The boys face hardened, ‘If that annoys you, go ahead and beat me. Do as you please! ‘Let me make one thing clear asshole.’ the boy looked up stern and stoic, ‘No matter what you do to me, I won’t do as you say.’

Henry stood up, ‘You really are a feisty one aren’t you?’ he stood up and placed a knife on the floor and bolt cutter in his hand, ‘Use it. It’s strong enough to cut through chain. I’m sure you’ll make good use of it.’ he left slamming the door.

The boys eyes widened as he realised what had just happened, he cut the chains off himself and searched in the darkness for the knife on the floor. He found it and held it close to his chest.

He thought, ‘He gave me a knife! I can use it to get out of here!’ he waited for his chance which came when the slaver came to beat him shortly after the man left him. The boy stabbed him in the neck and ran killing the others.

Henry left and sat outside for twenty minutes. He returned to a bloody scene of mass murder, he thought, ‘It’s only the staff that have been killed. It is impressive that such a young boy is capable of doing something like this but at the same time it’s unnerving to know what he is capable of.’ he heard footsteps on the balcony above him.

Henry turned and pinned the boy to the floor with a thud, knocking the knife across the room away from him, ‘Hey. That’s mean. I gave you the knife and now you’re trying to use it on me?’ he grabbed the boys wrists and pinned them above his head with one hand, while his other hand pressed down on his chest.

The boy started squirming trying to get free but it was no use. Henry smiled, ‘So you are responsible for the bloody mess aren’t you? Where are the other kids?’ the boy refused to talk, he placed his hand round his neck and gently squeezed.

The boy thought, ‘I can’t move!’ he felt the mans grip on his neck increase, ‘Is he really going to choke me?!’

‘Answer me! I’m not here to hurt you guys!’ Henry replied. He released his neck, ‘Understand? It would be easy for me to hurt you but that’s not what I am here to do. I want to help you and the others as much as I can. Now I am going to let go of your wrists. Do you promise to behave?’

The boy gritted his teeth at the prospect but softened his face shortly after as he exhaled, ‘Fine. Just let go of me! And get off of me!’ he let him go and they sat on the floor together, ‘The others are in the big room upstairs for now. None of them have anywhere to go.’

‘Are they all upstairs?’ Henry asked.

‘Yes. I told them to hide up there until I worked something out.’ he replied, ‘To be honest, I didn’t think I’d make it this far! I thought for sure someone would catch me and return me to that room.’

Henry sat back against the wall, rubbing his wrists and smiled, ‘You’re quite obedient for a change aren’t you?’

The boy sighed, ‘I didn’t think I could kill you. I just had to try at least once, how would I of known how who’d you react to the sight of the dead slavers. Even though you gave me the knife, I didn’t know what you’d do once you saw how I used it.’ he looked at him, ‘Tell me why did you give me a weapon in the first place?’

Henry chuckled, ‘You seemed so vicious when we met. I was curious about what would happen if you got hold of a knife. I was curious as to whether or not you’d fight back. But as it turns out you went a step further than that.’

‘Is that really it?’ he asked, ‘You were just curious about what I would do?!’

‘Yeah.’ Henry replied bluntly, ‘I’m not here to buy anyone, I’m just here to do some research. I want to get rid of this market. I run a protection centre, I rescue sold or captured people into this trade, I heard that children where being forced into this trade, but I wasn’t expecting there to be so many kids here. I might struggle to house them all.’

The boy hid his face with hair and started shaking, ‘Please……help them…’

‘What?’ he asked.

‘Please! Help them! They have nowhere else to go.’ he replied looking at him, ‘In exchange you can have me. I’ll do anything you say.’

‘Well this is unexpected?’ Henry thought then replied, ‘No. As I said, I am not here to buy a slave. I have no need for a slave any……’

He was yet again interrupted by the boy, ‘Please! I’ll do anything you tell me. Soon you won’t be able to do without me!’ he bowed low, ‘Please just get the others out of here. I’m fourteen, I was sold here over two years ago, I don’t care about my life anymore, but some of the kids here are only ten, some are even younger than that. Please, you’re their only way out.’

‘I thought you said: I will not be sold to you! I refuse! You buy me, I’ll make it very difficult for you to keep me! You’ve sure changed your tune.’ Henry replied.

‘That was when I believed you were here to buy me, leaving all the others here to be sold on to others.’ he looked to the floor, ‘Now I know that’s not your intension. Please! Help them!’

‘Alright then.’ Henry replied.

‘You’ll help? Really?’ he replied shocked looking up at him.

‘Yeah, I like your guts. Not to mention your heart.’ he smiled, ‘I’ll take you in exchange.’

‘Thank you! Thank you so much!’ he replied.

‘So you are willing to be a slave if it benefits you?’ Henry asked.

‘Why else would someone allow themselves to be used?’ he asked.

Henry chuckled, ‘So what’s your name kid?’ he looked away, ‘What’s wrong?’

‘However unlikely as it sounds. I have actually forgotten my name. I don’t even remember if I have one at all.’ he replied, ‘Everyone here called me it, you or hey. Before that, my dad never called me by my name and my mum as far as I can remember didn’t give me a name.’

Feeling down hearted by the simplest snapshot of his past he wanted to do something for him even if it was something that seemed small, ‘How about Sam?’ he asked, ‘Do you like that name?’

He sighed smiling, ‘Just call me whatever you want.’ he looked at him, ‘So how do you want me to address you? Sir? Master? What do you want?’

‘Master? Why even suggest that title?’ he asked.

Sam curled into himself, ‘It’s what the slavers said we have to call whoever we were sold to. You don’t strike me as that kind of person, but I want to know what to call you since you bought me.’

Henry smiled, ‘Come on, you weren’t sold to me, remember? You don’t ever have to address me like that, ok? I am not your master. My full name and title is Lord Henry Quartz Raven. Just call me Henry.’

‘Henry?’ he replied and held his hand out, ‘Nice to meet you Henry, my name is Sam.’

Henry shook his hand, ‘You turned unexpectedly formal.’

‘Until I know everyone is safe, I’m not risking angering you.’ Sam replied bluntly.

‘And here I was happy with the disobedient you.’ Henry answered, Sam watched as he turned and walked away, ‘Well come on then, lets go.’

‘What about the others?’ he asked.

Ten of Henry’s men came in, ‘There is a big room upstairs containing several slave boys. Bring them with us tonight and I’ll organise placements for them tomorrow.’

‘Yes Sir.’ they bowed, ‘What about the boy behind you?’

‘He stays with me.’ Henry replied. He turned to Sam as his men went upstairs, ‘Come on then.’

Sam sighed and followed him, stepping outside he looks back, ‘Bye guys. Stay safe.’ he said to himself.

He sat silently as he was taken back to what he believed was Henry’s home, Henry showed him in. His new surroundings were more lavish and extravagant than he had ever dare dream of. Henry walked right in as though it was nothing and handed his coat to his maid.

‘Sam?’ said Henry returning Sam’s focus to him, ‘Come say hello.’

‘Course!’ he went up to the maid and bowed to one knee, ‘Nice to meet you.’

The maid blushed, ‘Quite the young man!?’

‘This is Sam. He shall be staying with me from now on.’ he leaned down slightly, ‘This is Claire the house maid, there is no need to bow so low.’ Sam stood up, Henry turned back to Claire, ‘Would you please call the Doctor for me, I want to get his wounds seen to. Also could you arrange a bath for him?’

Claire curtsied, ‘Of course My Lord! Please await the doctors arrival in the West Drawing Room.’ she walked off.

Henry turned to Sam, ‘Come on.’ he walked off, ‘Keep up.’ Henry walked quickly through several rooms that were more like lavish celebration halls. Coming to a stop in the West Drawing Room, where a banquet was awaiting him, ‘Please sit, eat.’

‘Not until you tell me where the others are.’ said Sam.

‘You said you’d do whatever I told you to, yet you’re disobeying my very first order.’ Henry answered.

Sam answered, ‘Yes. I agreed to obey you but only in exchange you’ll take care of them. You told me you’d find it hard to house them all. But, after seeing this house I am inclined to call you a liar. All of them would happily sleep on the floor in one of those halls we just walked through.’

Henry chuckled, ‘This is my fathers house, it’s not mine. The servants here raised me more than my father ever did so when he isn’t here they allow me to stay. Slavery made my father rich when I refused to help him he disowned and disinherited me!’

‘If this isn’t your house then why are we here?’ asked Sam.

‘It’s a two day trek back to my house. Here we’re loading up on supplies and resting before we continue on.’ he explained, ‘I don’t think you should be travelling in your condition at all but we haven’t got much of a choice. So I wanted to make sure you are as safe to travel as you possibly can be.’

Sam sat down, ‘What is your plan for them?’

‘Simple. The fully trained ones will be placed in suitable employ. Meaning: people who will pay them a fair wage and won’t beat them. The ones that were kidnapped will be reunited with their families where possible.’ he was interrupted.

‘If it’s not possible?’ asked Sam.

‘Suitable employ.’ he replied, ‘Untrained and/or ones that were recently sold to the slavers will be housed and educated until such a time as they are ready to enter the world as working adults and stand on their own two feet or enter suitable employ.’ he sipped his drink and then looked at Sam, ‘As for you. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with you as of yet.’

‘Whatever you want.’ he replied looking away.

Henry put a plate in front of him, ‘For now. Eat.’

Sam sighed, ‘I guess there are worse things to be ordered to do.’ he started eating.

Some time later the Doctor came in, ‘Henry my boy!’ Henry stood up and they hugged, ‘It has been ages!’

‘I know! My apologies but I have been so busy dismantling the slave trade.’ he replied, ‘Speaking of. I have recently rescued a large group of boys could you take a look at them as well?’

‘Of course.’ he smiled.

‘But for now, I would like to tend to the worse effected.’ replied Henry showing the doctor Sam, ‘I am not sure all of the blood is his own. But he has several wounds that need attending. I have ordered for a bath to be drawn so it’s just an assessment really.’

The Doctor went up to Sam, ‘Hello. My name is Doctor O. Gunderson. I’m here to take a look at you.’ he sat oppersite Sam, ‘Are you in any pain anywhere?’

Sam looked over at Henry who nodded, ‘You can tell him anything.’

‘Of course I’m in pain.’ replied Sam, ‘But I’m used to it.’

Doctor Gunderson smiled, chuckling slightly, ‘Still I ask that you tell me the truth. How much pain are you in on a scale of one to ten? And where does it hurt?’

‘Would you believe me if I said ten and everywhere?’ asked Sam.

‘I understand.’ he replied and cleaned his wounds, ‘You’re going to need some stitches.’

‘What are stitches?’ asked Sam looking at both the Doctor and Henry.

Henry sat next to him, ‘Relax.’ he looked at the Doctor, ‘Please explain it to him plainly.’

Doctor Gunderson replied, ‘Stitches are a medical device used to hold body tissues together after an injury. I use a needle and thread to pull the torn skin back together so it can heal.’

‘So, you want to sew my skin together?’ asked Sam.

Henry clarified, ‘Back together.’ Sam looked at him, ‘Your skin has been torn and we need to put it back together to avoid you catching a fever and getting ill.’

Doctor Gunderson replied, ‘It’ll feel uncomfortable and strange. But if I don’t do it you could get very sick.’

Sam chuckled, ‘My wounds have been open and untreated for over a week now. I killed over fifteen slavers in this condition and travelled all this way.’ he looked at the Doctor, ‘So, I don’t see how such a procedure is as necessary as you are making it out to be.’

‘After hearing you’ve had it untreated for this long has made me more eager to stitch it up before the skin and flesh starts to rot away.’ Doctor Gunderson replied.

Sam sighed, ‘Fine just get on with it!’ Sam sat still and quiet as the stitches were placed.

Henry thought, ‘What a creepy kid!? He isn’t showing any sign of suffering.’ he remembered back when he strangled him, ‘He showed no signs back then either.’ he looked at Sam, ‘He doesn’t show emotions like he should. He doesn’t feel pain like he should. He doesn’t cry like he should. Any other kid getting stitches like this would be squirming at least!’ the last stitch was placed and Doctor Gunderson left.

Henry turned to Sam, ‘Sam?’

Sam looked up at him, ‘Now what do you want?’

Henry smiled, ‘A simple experiment.’ he walked right up to him, ‘Don’t be scared. I just want to check something.’

‘O……K……?’ replied Sam. Henry struck him hard in the face knocking him to the floor. Sam showed no emotion as he picked himself up and spat out some blood. He wiped his mouth and sat back on the chair. He looked at Henry yet again emotionlessly, ‘Are you done?’

‘Why aren’t you fighting back? Or begging me to stop? Or getting angry? Why aren’t you showing any kind of emotion?’ asked Henry.

Sam chuckled, ‘Because this isn’t my first beating! Meaningless or not! This isn’t my first beating! The slavers would hit me harder than that for disobeying them!’ he continued, ‘Do you even know what they do to kids in those places?!’

Henry shook his head, ‘No. But I never imagined this!’

‘Well, I’m a special case.’ replied Sam, ‘I realised if I didn’t show pain or fear when they beat me, they got no enjoyment out of it! And so my beating would be over sooner because it wasn’t fun for them! So I started to use that to my advantage and then started getting little victories.’

‘What do you mean?’ asked Henry.

Sam explained, ‘In the slave house you have two ways to survive the guards abuse until you are sold to someone else for probably the same purpose. One: you be a sex slave and let them do whatever they want you to. At least while their doing that they won’t beat you.’

Henry stopped him there, ‘Whoa! Wait a minute! How do know about things like that at your age?!’

‘At the slavers house you see a lot of things. And you quickly learn what they are. You could be trained to be a fighting slave, or a domestic slave, some in my cell were being trained as sex slaves. The slavers didn’t care if we were there or not.’ explained Sam.

Henry was shocked, ‘And you saw what they did to the boys in your cell?’

‘The cells were pretty small, you saw them. It’s kind of hard NOT to notice it going on!’ Sam explained, ‘Anyway, I didn’t want that so I went for option two and I entered the ring and fought.’

‘Fought?’ asked Henry.

‘Yes.’ replied Sam, ‘We’d be thrown in the ring against someone else. They would place bets and I always won. Even against the adults. And because I proved more valuable as a fighter, no one tries to use me for sex. Not that I would have let them.’

‘I had no idea.’ replied Henry, ‘That this kind of thing was even going on.’

‘Haven’t you ever heard of sampling the merchandise?’ asked Sam, shocking Henry to his core that he referred to himself as merchandise.

‘But, there are inspectors going around checking these places aren’t there?’ asked Henry.

‘Inspectors!’ Sam chuckled, ‘All the inspectors ever did was turn up once a month, take their bribes and go. I may only be fourteen but I know how the world works! No one cares about us, all anyone ever understands is profit. Be it money or personal gain. That’s why I sold myself to you, because I knew unless you got something out of this, you wouldn’t lift a finger to help the others.’

Henry smiled, ‘I could have given you a great lesson in humanity but I failed, huh?’ Sam looked at him confused, ‘I was going to help you all even if you didn’t sell yourself to me.’ Sam was shocked and about to reply when there was a knock at the door.

‘The bath is prepared.’ said Claire through the door.

Henry stood up, ‘Good.’ he turned back to Sam, ‘Well come on the bath was drawn for you.’ Sam silently stood up and followed him to the bath. He stood and stared at the water, ‘You’ve had a bath before right?’

‘Once.’ replied Sam, ‘But it was in a river.’ he put his hand in the water, ‘It’s warm?’

Henry replied, ‘You do know you need to remove your clothes and get in don’t you?’

‘Yeah.’ replied Sam, ‘It’s just…… I’ve never had a warm bath.’ he smiled, ‘It’s nice.’ he removed his clothes and got in, scrubbing the dirt from his skin only now could Henry get the full picture of the length of abuse Sam had suffered all this time.

Henry tried to get the mats out his hair with no success, Sam said, ‘Just shave my head.’

‘Are you sure?’ asked Henry. Sam nodded, Henry shaved his head and noticed scars on his head from being hit. He looked down, ‘By the way, I’m sorry I hit you earlier.’

‘Don’t worry about it.’ replied Sam, ‘I’m yours to do with as you wish. Hit me if you want.’ Henry poured water over his head to wash away grease and dirt from his head.

‘I don’t know how to talk to you. You’re so different from everyone else I have rescued from slavers, I can’t seem to connect with you.’ he said.

‘There is no point in trying to connect with me.’ Sam replied, ‘I’m only here because that was the deal and I don’t break deals. If talking to me creeps you out that much, just limit talking me to simply passing down orders.’

Henry sighed, ‘Look, I want to be your friend. I don’t want you to see me as your master.’

Sam sighed back, ‘Whatever you want.’ Henry passed him a towel and got out drying himself.

‘I was impressed with your skills with a knife.’ said Henry out of the blue, ‘I may call upon those skills again.’

‘What? So you want me as your hit man now?’ asked Sam.

‘Your mind works in surprisingly accurate ways.’ replied Henry, ‘That’s not going to be problem for you is it?’

Sam huffed, ‘Whatever you want.’

‘Good boy.’ replied Henry, ‘You understand your situation well enough. I’m impressed with you.’

‘Where should I go to sleep?’ asked Sam wanting a way out of this conversation.

‘There is a bed in the room upstairs, I’ll show you the way.’ he led him out and upstairs. He opened the door and walked away, ‘Good night.’

Sam watched as he went back downstairs, he thought, ‘What?! He’s leaving me alone? He’s not going to lock the door? Or tie me down?’ he went in and shut the door. Sitting on the bed he thought, ‘I don’t understand? I don’t want to go to sleep, I’m scared of what’s going to happen. But…’ he rested his head on the pillow, ‘I haven’t slept properly in over a week.’ he drifted off into sleep.

He woke to the sound of knocking at his door, ‘Sam? Are you awake?’

Sam went to the door and opened it. He saw Henry and bowed, ‘Good morning Sir. I’m sorry that I overslept, I’ll make your breakfast immediately.’ Henry didn’t move and Sam flinched, ‘H…hit me if you want. I’m sorry I overslept, I won’t let it happen again. I swear.’

‘That’s not it.’ replied Henry, ‘I was just surprised that’s all. I never thought you would act like that.’

‘Like what?’ asked Sam.

Henry replied, ‘Like an obedient servant. Was a good night sleep all it took?’

‘What are you talking about?’ asked Sam, ‘It’s what I’m here for isn’t it?

‘True enough I forgot that!’ replied Henry, he looked at Sam, ‘Aren’t you scared I’m going to punish you for oversleeping?’

‘Like I said before. You can treat me anyway you like!’ replied Sam, ‘Again, it’s what I’m here for.’

‘You’re interesting.’ replied Henry, ‘You are prepared to be beaten and used as a servant as long as the others are safe?’

Sam replied, ‘I am prepared to die to keep them safe.’

‘Why? You don’t know any of them? And the way I hear it you kept your distance from them pretty well in the cell? Why do you suddenly care so much?’ asked Henry, ‘You owe these people nothing?’

‘Correct. But if I can help so many people so easily why wouldn’t I do it!?’ asked Sam, he looked him right in the eye, ‘Go ahead. You have two choices, you can either beat me or get out of my way.’

Henry smiled and chuckled slightly, ‘Not a glimmer of fear.’ he walked away, ‘Come on lets go.’

Sam was shocked but followed, ‘So, what do you want for breakfast?’

‘Claire has already made us some food.’ answered Henry.

Sam followed him to the dining room and saw all the slave boys from the traders house sitting and eating, Sam was shocked to see them yet happy. Sam sat next to Henry, ‘Why are they all here?’

‘Like I said we are stopping here to gather supplies.’ Henry explained, ‘Plus, you weren’t the only one to be wounded, as you can see they have all been treated, bathed, clothed and fed as per the agreement I made with you. The ones who were kidnapped have been reunited with their families as I promised. The fully trained ones will be placed in households along the route back to my home. Eventually it’ll be just the two of us.’

Sam sighed looking away hiding his face with his hair, ‘Do you doubt my resolve?’ Henry looked at him confused, ‘Is all of this a way for you to remind me how easy it would be for you to kill them if I disobey? Is this all because I didn’t jump at the chance to become your hit man last night?’

Henry smirked, ‘You asked why they were here and so I told you. Interpret this in any way you want, but you’re situation doesn’t change even if everyone is placed within suitable employ, it would be easy to sell them back to slavers if you disobey me or try to escape from me. So, be a good boy and do as I say.’

Sam gritted his teeth, ‘This bastard! I thought he was a simpleton but he’s been playing the long con all along! He has me wrapped right round his finger and he knows it.’ he stood up, ‘Excuse me. I need some air.’ he walked out and sat in the garden.

‘I never wanted to be bought. But now I’m owned by someone like him!?’ he closed his eyes as he felt tears swelling, ‘Damn it! Calm down!’ a few tears fell and he wiped them away, ‘He’s a master manipulator. But so am I?’ he lay on the bench and looked at the sky, ‘At least he’s not into locking me in a room and having his way with me. So, it could be worse!’ he sighed, ‘He let me outside without restraints, without a guard. It feels kind of nice.’

Sam turned to his side and curled up, ‘If I’m trapped with him I might as well make the most of it and be thankful for small mercies.’ he heard footsteps stop behind him and looked over thinking it was Henry but no it was one of his younger cell mates.

‘The man in there told us what you did for us.’ he smiled and bowed, ‘Thank you so much.’

Sam was shocked, ‘He told them?! Why? What purpose does it serve?’

‘Thank you for killing the slavers.’ he said.

‘Is that all he told you?’ asked Sam.

‘Huh?’ he asked, ‘Is there more to it then that?’

Sam smiled and huffed, ‘Not really.’ he ruffled the young boys hair, ‘Is he treating you well?’

‘Yeah.’ he smiled, ‘He gave me a bath, treated my wounds, gave me dinner and breakfast. Plus, he let me spend the night with him in his room after I woke up screaming from a nightmare.’

‘He let you sleep with him?’ asked Sam.

The young boy nodded, ‘Uh huh. He’s been nothing but kind to me and the others. He also gave me this toy!’ he showed Sam the toy soldier, ‘Isn’t it cool?’

Sam looked at it, ‘Yeah it is but the gun is missing?’

‘No, he‘s not broken. Mr Henry said this soldier was so brave that he doesn’t need a weapon.’ he smiled.

Sam huffed happily, ‘Did he now?’ he saw storm clouds gathering, ‘You should get inside, it looks like rain. You don’t want to catch a cold. Besides he said we will be leaving shortly after breakfast.’

He walked the boy back in and settled him down playing with the other kids, he saw Henry watching him, Henry thought, ‘He’s acting like a big brother to the others, no it’s more like a father.’

He saw Sam smiling for the first time he was so stunned he went over. Sam asked, ‘What?’

‘It’s strange to see you acting like a father figure.’ said Henry, ‘I think this is the first time I’ve seen you smile since I met you.’

Sam huffed and walked past him, ‘Ridiculers!’

‘I didn’t mean you should stop, I think it’s a good thing.’ clarified Henry following him down the hall.

‘What the hell do you want from me?!’ yelled Sam. To see such a high level of emotion explode out of the normally so composed Sam shocked Henry to his core, ‘First, you say you didn’t want a slave, then you accepted me as your slave! Next, you mention you want to use my skills of killing people, but then you change your tune, saying it is my choice. Now you’re threatening the people around me over breakfast, if I don’t roll over and obey! What is it with you? Why can’t you be straight with me?!’

Henry slapped him, ‘Get a hold of yourself!’ Sam hid his face with his hair but Henry could see a smile.

‘It’s nice to know you have the capacity to scold me when I step out of line. I was starting to think you weren’t normal.’ replied Sam, ‘You’re always so composed, you have one serious poker face. Unlike me you use emotion and facial expressions to manipulate others, where as I choose to simply disconnect myself and let events unfold naturally.’

‘You!?’ exclaimed Henry outraged ‘Are you testing me!?’

‘Yes.’ replied Sam looking him in the eye, ‘If that annoys you feel free to hit me again. You bought me twenty-four hours ago, yet you haven’t ordered me to do a single thing. Mind games only work on someone who isn’t smart enough to see through them. So I ask you again: What the hell is it that you want from me?!’

‘Fine.’ replied Henry, ‘You want to know what I want you to do? I want you to see me as a friend and not as a master!’

‘W…what…?’ asked Sam, ‘That all? You don’t want to use me as your hit man or domestic servant?’

Henry answered, ‘Only if you are agreeable to either scenario. I don’t like forcing people to do what they don’t want to. But in this case I will if I have to.’

‘There you go again! Asking me if I’m agreeable, but then in your next sentence you’re threatening me!’ yelled Sam, ‘If you don’t like forcing people to obey, shouldn’t that be your rule throughout your entire philosophy, yet you just said you’d force me if necessary! Make up your mind!’

Henry pinned him to the wall behind him, ‘What is wrong with being kind to you?’ Sam looked at him, ‘I am trying to be nice! You have been beaten and abused your whole life! So, what’s wrong with trying to break the cycle even just a little?’

Sam tried to get out his grip, ‘He’s strong!’ he replied, ‘Isn’t this just a different kind of abuse dressed up as kindness?!’

‘Huh?’ asked Henry, ‘What are you on about now?’

‘Yes, I’m not being caged and beaten anymore, but I am still being abused!’ yelled Sam, ‘You are using the lives of every single one of those kids in there in order to control me! At least with the slavers I knew where I stood! With you I have no idea what you’re gonna do from one second to the next! Your brand of abuse is sneaky and manipulative!’

Henry sighed, ‘You’re right. But, I’m like you in one aspect. I don’t break deals either.’ he dragged him away. Uncertain of his fate at the end of this walk Sam dug in his heels, even though it served no purpose he continued trying.

‘Where are you taking me?’ he demanded, ‘Answer me! Where are you taking me?’ Henry gave no answer which served to scare Sam further.

He was eventually thrown in to his room and locked in, ‘We are leaving soon so I’ll see you later.’

‘No! Please!’ he banged on the door. Henry stopped and stared at the door in shock, inside Sam started shaking, ‘Unlock the door! I’ll stay inside, just please! I really hate being locked up since the slavers house. I didn’t think I’d be this scared but I am. Please just unlock the door!’

‘You’re scared?!’ asked Henry, ‘You’ve never told me anything like that before.’

‘I know.’ he sighed, ‘Please, just unlock the door. I promise I’ll stay in this room but please just unlock the door. Since I was locked in that room at the slavers house I can’t take being locked up. Please! I’m begging you!’ he started to find it hard to breathe.

Henry smiled, ‘So you promise to stay in the room even if the door is unlocked?’

‘Yes. Please!’ replied Sam, he heard the door unlock and exhaled with shock and relief.

‘Stay inside that room and behave.’ Henry said through the door.

‘Yes. Thank you.’ answered Sam, his breathing levelled out. He thought, ‘I never thought he’d actually do it?!’

‘Like I said stay inside that room and behave.’ answered Henry.

Sam rested his head on the door, ‘Alright.’ he closed his eyes, ‘Thank you for unlocking the door. I’m sorry I made you so angry with me.’

‘It’s alright. Calm down. I’m not going to hurt you or threaten anyone to get to you.’ replied Henry, ‘I’ll come and get you in a little while, just stay here until then.’

‘I will and thank you. Most people aren’t that considerate.’ replied Sam smiling to himself.

Henry smiled, ‘I’m not like most people.’ he walked off.

Sam thought, ‘He actually walked away leaving the door unlocked?! Even though the door is unlocked I can’t leave. He said he wouldn’t threaten me with the others but I don’t think I can believe him so easily.’ he sat next to the door and opened it a crack to let light stream in.

He lay on the floor looking out the door, ‘I guess I should just go to sleep and wait for him to wake me up!’ he eventually fell asleep.

Henry came back and saw the door was open he ran over but noticed him asleep on the floor, ‘What?! I don’t believe it! He actually stayed.’ he knelt down and pushed the door open more, ‘I guess he really is just scared of being locked away, that’s not surprising considering where I found him. Finally a way to punish him. This information is very useful. Very useful indeed.’ he shook him awake.

Sam opened his eyes and saw Henry, fear shot through his entire body, though he didn’t show it. He sat up, ‘Hey?’

‘Are you ok?’ asked Henry.

Sam nodded, ‘Yeah.’ he heard everyone outside, ‘Are we going now?’

‘Yeah.’ smiled Henry, ‘Do you want something to eat before we go?’

‘I’m fine thank you.’ answered Sam, he stood up, ‘Lets go.’

‘Come on then.’ he walked off with Sam following him. He was loaded up and they set off.

Sam thought looking out the window, ‘He may not chain me up, but he’s still restraining me. It’s quite impressive what he’s done. He has found all my weak spots and pressure points so quickly. And he found one that even I didn’t know about! I’m so pathetic being scared of being locked in a room.’

‘You seem to be really quite nervous around me, are you?’ asked Henry.

‘How the hell am I supposed to answer that?!’ Sam thought. He smiled looking at him, ‘It doesn’t really matter, does it?’ he looked back outside, ‘I have to stay with you and obey you despite my feelings about you.’

‘But are you nervous around me? Are you scared of me?’ asked Henry.

Sam answered, ‘Like I said, my feelings don’t matter.’

Henry sighed, ‘You’re not being honest anymore. Can you only be honest when you’re scared of being locked up?’ Sam flinched and a chill ran down his back, ‘Don’t worry. You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to. Your personal life has nothing to do with me.’

‘Thank you for understanding.’ replied Sam, he sat still and silent for the remainder of the trip.

It was Henry who broke the silence again, ‘Are you hungry?’

Sam flinched hearing him speak again, ‘No. I’m fine.’

‘You haven’t eaten anything since breakfast. I’m starting to get worried.’ replied Henry.

‘Fine.’ answered Sam, ‘I’ll eat whatever you want me to.’

‘Don’t you have a preference?’ Henry asked.

Sam replied, ‘Not really.’

‘We are coming up on a location where we can stop and eat. We may be able to spend the night too.’ he explained.

Sam nodded, ‘Sure. Whatever you want.’

‘You’re a tough guy to talk to.’ replied Henry, ‘But I hope you will conduct yourself accordingly once we reach his house. I’m sure you understand what I mean.’

They got to the house Sam realised the rest of his travel party were continuing on. They were greeted at the door by the home owners servants and showed in to the home owner, Lord William Smith. He was a huge supporter of the slave trade and believed that Henry was too.

Believing Sam is Henry’s newest slave Lord William Smith treats him with little to no respect and Sam acts like nothing more than a servant complying with Henry’s previous orders. Following Lord William Smith down the hall Henry passed Sam a note.

It read, ‘I want you to kill this man tonight. He’s a generous slave trade supporter and a dangerous one at that. I want him taken off the board now.’

Sam stopped and stood still as if he was forced to pause, Henry and Lord William Smith stopped. Lord William Smith chuckled, ‘What’s up with your slave Henry? He broken or something?’

‘Not at all.’ he replied, ‘He is just recovering from an earlier punishment and the pain gets too much for him sometimes.’ he looked at Sam, ‘Isn’t that right?’

Sam bowed, ‘My apologies.’ he ran up to him, ‘Forgive me.’ Henry ruffled his hair.

‘You are forgiven this once.’ Henry answered playing his role perfectly.

‘Thank you.’ Sam smiled bowing again.

‘He’s very obedient.’ said Lord William Smith.

Henry smiled, ‘Could we continue on? I am hungry and could do with a good night sleep. So could my slave he hasn’t been sleeping or eating well recently.’

‘Of course.’ he replied, ‘Henry if you’d follow me to the dining room, your slave can head to the kitchen and help my staff prepare our meal before eating himself.’

‘Certainly.’ said Henry he turned to Sam, ‘Go on.’ Sam nodded and walked off.

The evening went smoothly, Sam played the role so perfectly even Lord William Smith’s staff members liked him. That night Sam snuck out of the servants quarters as Henry had ordered and made his way to Lord William’s bedroom.

Sam strangled Lord William Smith in his sleep and slit his throat making it look like a suicide.

Quickly establishing a alibi, he returned to the servants quarters and sat up in his bed screaming, waking everyone. And so they would all believe the young slave who came with the guest of honour was awoken by a frightful nightmare and was asleep until such a time.

When the body of Lord William Smith is discovered Sam and Henry are above suspicion as their alibi’s are rock solid and are allowed to travel onto their next destination, Henry started laughing as they left.

‘Wonderful!’ he laughed, ‘You truly did a wonderful job, Sam. I am very pleased with you. It was well thought out and executed flawlessly! How did you think of something like that so fast?’

Sam explained, ‘This is the purpose I was trained for within the slave trade, this along with domestic service, but I only learnt basic behavioural traits and manners, I was mainly taught it so I have a cover story already in place, to explain why I am where I am.’

‘Why didn’t you tell me this earlier!?’ Henry exclaimed.

Sam looked at him confused, ‘I thought you knew already?! I thought that is why you agreed to take me on so quickly!’

‘How would I know?’ asked Henry.

‘The note. Masters can only give us targets by passing us a note in the presence of the target or with a picture of the target.’ explained Sam, ‘You seriously didn’t know?!’

Henry shook his head, ‘Wow! I lucked out on that one!’ he pulled out a list of names and crossed Lord William Smith off, ‘Now then, who should be next?’

‘So, you want me to kill from that list?’ asked Sam.

‘Yes. These are the people who hold a strong influence and fund the slave trade either publicly or privately. My father is on this list too!’ he stated coldly, then moved on like it was nothing, ‘Unless, I specify a way to kill them, you can kill however you like. However please reframe from developing a pattern and alerting suspicion about our movements.’

‘I understand.’ replied Sam looking out the window again, ‘He may not have come to the slavers for a battle slave but he got one.’

Henry said, ‘And one more thing.’ Sam turned to see him smiling, ‘I managed to place five fully trained and two semi trained slaves in suitable employment. Isn’t that great?’

Sam’s eyes widened, ‘He planned this from the start didn’t he? He knew I wouldn’t fail him after the other night and set things in motion. I’m sure if I had failed or refused to kill that man, the seven slaves he just mentioned would have been sold back to slavers or killed.’ he calmed himself, ‘It is very good news, thank you for all your hard work to achieve this goal.’

‘You’re a strange kid I’ll give you that much!’ replied Henry, ‘But, so long as things continue as they are all of them should be placed in suitable employ by the time this list is finished.’

‘That confirms it! For everyone I kill he will see to it that the members I was captured with will be safe along the route.’ thought Sam, ‘He has truly trapped me.’ he thought for a moment, ‘Working on the premise that he will save seven slave for every one slaver I kill. By the time we are at his house his father should be the last one to kill. Unless I kill him first.’

Henry smiled, ‘Just to make you aware Sam.’ Sam looked at him, ‘You cannot kill me. Remember that.’ he smiled, ‘Also remember that if you ever disobey me, I will kill the slave boys. And if by some miracle you have managed to kill me, instructions have been left for the slave boys to either be killed or sold to worst owners possible.’

‘Is this just until your little list is complete? Or do you intend to hold their lives to ransom in order to control me until the day one of us dies?’ asked Sam.

‘I haven’t decided yet.’ replied Henry, ‘Just do as your told.’

‘Yes Sir.’ he replied looking out the window, ‘Henry you bastard! He knows I never wanted to be a slave and yet he’s still planning to use me like this! I thought that maybe he was different. Maybe he wasn’t the bad guy and he actually intended to help us, that’s why I made the deal. But, I’m not so sure anymore if he is to be trusted! Not that I have any choice now.’

They got to another house and got out, ‘We’ll be able to spend the night here.’ he walked towards the house and was greeted by the home owner. Like last time he was welcomed with open arms and Sam was passed a note.

‘His name is Sir Anton Victor Kanton, he is yet another dangerous slave supporter. Make it look like he jumped out the window. He lost his wife recently and he is very superstitious that information should help you.’ it read Sam thought, ‘How the hell am I supposed to do that?! Why is that information helpful?’

He went to the servants quarters and realised they were all young attractive women. He blushed violently as they crowded him finding him cute.

Meanwhile, Henry and Anton were talking like old friends. Sam followed the servants and helped them throughout the day wondering the whole time how to pull this off. Walking past the door where they were, he over heard Henry say, ‘It must be hard for you since Elizabeth died. I heard she jumped out a window, I’m so sorry.’

Sam’s ears picked that out, ‘That’s how I can do it!’ one of the servants looked at him.

‘Sam?’ she went up to him, ‘Come on.’ she picked up the bag he was carrying, ‘I guess it was too heavy for you huh?’

‘No, that’s not it. I’m sorry, I guess I froze because you’re so pretty!’ he lied convincingly blushing innocently.

‘Aw! You’re sooo cute!’ she replied passing him the bag back, ‘Come on we have to get these to the laundry room.’

‘Ok.’ smiled Sam following her like a lost puppy.

Anton said, ‘You’re slave is a little young and innocent isn’t he?’

Henry chuckled, ‘He hasn’t been around a woman as stunning as your servants ever before. He may be young but he is still a man! I’d wager he’s rather taken with your young servant girl.’

‘I suppose you’re right.’ replied Anton, ‘How is your father by the way?’

‘Very well thank you.’ replied Henry, ‘I took this trip in his stead. He is healthy but travelling this far out isn’t for the faint hearted or elderly.’

‘I know what you mean.’ he replied, ‘I meant to go see your father a week ago but I can’t handle the long trip at my age. Please send my regards.’

Henry smiled, ‘Of course.’

Back with Sam he was learning how to clean clothes. Something so simple to others fascinated him. His training at the slavers house hadn’t covered anything like this.

The woman smiled, ‘You’ve never done this before have you?’

Sam blushed and scratched the back of his head, ‘Am I that obvious? I’m sorry I’m not of much use.’

‘Not at all. We all have to learn someday.’ she chuckled, ‘You’re quite young. I’m surprised Lord Henry took a slave especially one as young as you.’

‘I don’t really know him all that well. To be honest, I was only sold to him recently and we’ve been travelling ever since so I haven’t really seen what he is like.’ explained Sam, ‘I wasn’t fully trained when he bought me, though he didn’t seem to care.’

‘Don’t worry about it.’ she explained, ‘Lord Henry is a nice person when you get to know him. He has always been kind to us. He can be a little sharp sometimes but he always means well.’

‘Thank you for telling me all of this, I was kind of worried about who I was sold to.’ he smiled then thought, ‘He’s not kind at all. He is a master manipulator and a brilliant con man. He has so many faces, I can’t tell which face is his true face.’

She hugged him and he flinched. She backed up, ‘I’m sorry, are you hurt somewhere?’

‘No, that’s not it.’ he was confused, ‘What did you do just now?’

‘Hmm?’ she didn’t understand what he meant, ‘I gave you a hug.’

Sam looked at her expressionless, ‘What’s a hug?’

Her face saddened, ‘You mean you don’t know what a hug is?’ Sam shook his head, ‘A hug is a way to comfort somebody by wrapping your arms around them.’

‘Comfort somebody?’ Sam asked himself.

She opened her arms, ‘Come here. I’ll show you.’ he did and she hugged him, ‘See?’ he smiled and rested his head in the nape of her neck.

His thin arms wrapped around her barely meeting one another, he seemed to melt into her warm embrace, he smiled, ‘It’s nice.’

She let go and continued with her chores. That night when everyone was asleep, Sam got out of bed and went to carry out his mission. He made it to Anton’s chambers and woke him up, by calling his name in a woman’s voice.

Anton woke up and looked around, ‘Who’s there?’

‘It’s me Anton. Your wife, Elizabeth.’ said Sam, ‘How could you let me down like that? How could you let me die like that?’

‘No.’ he said, ‘I tried to talk you down from that ledge you refused to listen to me!’

‘Then try again.’ he said still mimicking a woman’s voice.

‘What do you mean?’ asked Anton.

Sam replied, ‘I’m still on the balcony Anton. Come and save me.’

Anton’s eyes widened as he leapt out of bed to see what he believed to be his wife Elizabeth on the balcony’s edge where in reality it was a dummy Sam had constructed. Hoping that in his sleep deprived state he would susceptible to suggestion and let his own imagination do the rest.

‘Anton? Why didn’t you save me?’ he said.

‘Elizabeth?’ he said holding his hand out to her. Sam pulled the cord which pulled the dummy off the balcony, ‘ELIZABETH!’ he jumped off the balcony after her to his death Sam pulled the dummy back in and disposed of it.

He returned to the servants quarters and like the other night he sat up and screamed. All the ladies awoke and tended to the crying child as per their motherly nature. Keeping them believing he was just a young sensitive child was paramount to his alibi.

In the morning, his body was discovered. Being the young impressionable lost little lamb, Sam was taken away from the scene and taken to Henry, ‘I am sorry to barge in My Lord, but there has been a terrible accident!’

‘What happened?’ asked Henry acted innocent and dumb founded.

‘Sir Anton.’ tears swelled in her eyes, ‘He threw himself from his bedroom window!’

Henry sat her down, ‘This must be a real shock.’

‘I’m sorry My Lord. It’s unprofessional of me to burden you with something like this.’ she replied.

‘Not at all. I was hoping to leave today, but after this I’m not sure it’ll be the best thing to do.’ he answered.

‘No, My Lord! You should continue on with your travels. You can’t be delayed for too much longer.’ she explained, ‘We will prepare everything for your departure and take care of the necessary arrangements for Sir Anton’s funeral.’

‘Thank you for understanding and I am deeply sorry for your loss.’ he replied, ‘I also thank you for bringing him to me. He may only be a slave but I believe he is still too young to see such a sight.’

She smiled, ‘Such an affectionate master.’

Sam thought, ‘Yeah right! He’s the one who wanted him dead!’ he went up to her, ‘I want to be of comfort to you.’ he slowly hugged her much to Henry’s shock.

Henry thought, ‘He’s hugging her?! When did he start doing that?!’

She smiled and hugged him back, ‘You be a good boy for your master, ok?’

Sam nodded, ‘I promise.’ she let him go and left the room shutting the door behind her.

‘I didn’t know you were such a ladies man?!’ mocked Henry.

‘I’m not.’ he replied, ‘She was kind to me, so I returned the favour.’

Henry was shocked, ‘What did she do for you?’

Sam smiled, ‘She taught me how to clean clothes and what a hug is. It may seem like a small thing to you but to me. It’s the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me.’

Henry ruffled his hair, ‘You did well.’ he pulled out a message from the rest of their travel party that had arrived that morning, ‘Eight boys were placed in suitable employ yesterday. We won’t have any left soon.’

‘Where are we heading next?’ he asked bluntly.

‘So eager!’ Henry smiled, ‘I suppose you really want the others to be safe huh?’

Sam sighed, ‘Can you stop acting like this is fine and normal?’

‘What do you mean?’ asked Henry.

Sam looked at him with tears swelling in his eyes, ‘You made me make her cry! Making women cry isn’t ok! She was kind to me and you made……’ he started shaking.

‘Sam? Listen to me.’ said Henry, ‘Despite your reservations about me, what we are doing is better than doing nothing. At least this way the slave trade takes a huge hit and we are one step closer to destroying it forever.’

‘Then why aren’t you killing them yourself?’ asked Sam almost yelling, ‘Why are you using me as your assassin!?’

Henry held his hand over his mouth and pinned him to a wall, ‘Keep your voice down!’

Sam freed his mouth, ‘Or what? You’ll kill one of my friends? You’ll sell one of my friends? You’ll lock me a room on my own? You’ll hit me?’ his face softened as his body weakened pushing him down to the floor, ‘Fine. I’ll keep my voice down.’

‘Sam? What has gotten into you? You’re usually far more composed! This isn’t like you at all.’ Henry said watching as Sam sat helplessly on the floor.

Sam took a deep breath in, ‘I’m sorry. I’m fine now.’ he stood up, ‘Shall we be on our way?’

Henry was shocked he didn’t know what to do with the fragile broken boy in front of him, ‘I’m sorry Sam. I think I asked too much of you this time. I forget sometimes how young you are.’ he wrapped one arm around him and pulled him into a hug, ‘I’m sorry.’

Sam’s composure gave out and he cried into Henry’s shirt. He took a while to calm but he did eventually. Henry led him back to the carriage and Sam held his head, ‘Why does my head hurt so much?’

‘Is that the first time you’ve ever cried?’ asked Henry.

‘I haven’t cried since I was a baby, even then it wasn’t that much according to what people have told me.’ Sam explained. Henry put his hand on his shoulder and pulled him in, to rest his head on his lap.

‘You’ll feel better if you sleep for a while.’ he explained gently stroking his hair.

Sam thought, ‘Is he trying to be nice?’ he eventually fell asleep.

Henry sighed, ‘This is the first time I have ever seen him act his age!’ he looked at his list, ‘But I need this to be done quickly. I can’t postpone it much longer.’ he looked at Sam, ‘Forgive me but I cannot stop now I am so close. Only three names left. And the next one will be tricky.’

Later Sam woke up and realised who he lying on and sat up quickly, ‘Sorry about that.’

‘Don’t worry about it.’ replied Henry.

Sam looked around, ‘Where are we?’

‘Our next location but this is going to be different.’ he explained, ‘We don’t want to attract attention by always being in the house when they die, so you are going in alone on this one.’

‘Alone?’ asked Sam, ‘But how am I supposed to know who the target is? Do you have a picture?’

‘No, Fredric Waterstone is a shut in.’ replied Henry.

Sam replied, ‘If I don’t know who it is I can’t do anything!’

Henry passed him some binoculars, ‘He is a shut in but he still opens his curtains. We can see him through these and then we will find a way to dispatch him without showing our faces.’

‘I can climb very well.’ answered Sam looking through them to see his target.

‘Yeah but you can’t scale a brick wall up to a window!’ Henry replied.

Sam replied emotionlessly, ‘I could at the slavers house.’

‘WHAT!?’ Henry exclaimed. Sam put the binoculars down and looked at him.

‘It’s how I got up on the balcony where I tried to drop kill you from.’ explained Sam, ‘I ran, climbed and jumped up the wall to the balcony ledge to kill a slaver and then you arrived so I jumped off to kill you.’

Henry smiled, ‘Prove it.’ Sam looked at him, ‘I want you to prove it.’

He ran towards the tree line, Henry hadn’t seen anyone run that fast before, but his speed was nothing compared to his agility when scaling the trees. He jumped through the tree tops. He jumped down and brushed some leaves off his shoulder.

‘Nothing to it!’ he replied, ‘I can easily scale a wall and kill him late at night as long as his window isn’t locked I’m fine!’

Henry ruffled his hair, ‘Good boy.’

Sam pushed him off, ‘I’m not a dog!’

Henry chuckled, ‘He’s acting like himself again.’ he smiled, ‘We should get to work and start the attack.’

They watched him all day until night fell and decided to make their move just a little after midnight.

Sam walked up to the wall and began to scale it all the way up to Fredric’s window and opened it quietly. He made his way to the bed and slit his wrists in the style of suicide while he slept. He didn’t even wake up and bled to death in his sleep.

Sam climbed down and went back to Henry, ‘He’s dead. I felt his pulse slip away. I left the knife clean of fingerprints at his side.’

‘Are you ok?’ asked Henry.

‘Yeah.’ answered Sam, ‘I’m fine.’

Henry smiled and crossed his name off the list, ‘If we start moving now we can catch up with the others.’

‘How many more are on your list?’ asked Sam.

Henry chuckled and passed him the list, ‘Two more including my father.’

Sam asked, ‘How many slaves are left?’

‘Fifteen by our last count.’ replied Henry, ‘Twenty one have been successfully placed in suitable employ, the remaining fifteen are either too young, in experienced or completely untrained to place in any employment at all.’

‘So, what will you do with them?’ he asked shaking.

‘Relax, I’m not going to sell them on to anyone, who could cause them harm or otherwise. I’m going to keep them and train them up and place them in suitable employ once fully trained.’ replied Henry, ‘You agreed to work for me so they’d be safe. You are keeping true to your word so I am keeping true to mine.’

Sam replied, ‘Alright.’ he looked at Henry smiling, ‘Lets go.’

Henry smiled back, ‘You’re smiling at me! I don’t think I’ve ever seen you smile at me before.’

Sam blushed and turned away realising he had let his guard down with him, ‘Don’t be ridiculers!’

Henry chuckled, ‘We better get going.’ they left and caught up with the others.

The ones that were left were all the youngest. One ran up to him and hugged his leg, ‘You’re back!’ he smiled chuckling.

It was the young boy that showed him the toy soldier Henry had given him. Sam smiled, ‘Hey kid.’ he knelt down, ‘Do you want to play hide and seek?’

All the kids screamed in delight, Sam covered his eyes and started counting, all the kids hid. Henry watched as Sam pretended not to see their poor hiding places and purposely looked where he knew they weren’t. He smiled, ‘He really does care for them. I never expected him to be like this at all!’

Sam eventually found them all and turned to Henry, ‘How about this time Mr Henry counts and we all hide?’ Henry was taken back as all the kids were begging him to do it.

Henry sighed, ‘Fine.’ he covered his eyes, ‘One, two, three, four……’

They all hid in the same room. When he uncovered his eyes he saw all but Sam’s hiding place and did the same as Sam purposely looking where he knew they weren’t, until he found all but Sam.

He looked everywhere but couldn’t find him anywhere, he turned to the other boys, ‘Did any of you see where he went?’

They all giggled as Sam swung from the curtains behind him, Henry turned to see nothing and turned back, ‘What?’

Sam did the same making funny faces at Henry behind his back making the others laugh more. Henry realised what was happening and chuckled, ‘Ok Sam. That’s enough! You win the game. Come out.’ he turned round seeing Sam lower himself upside down from the curtains, ‘You can hurt yourself doing that!’

Sam flipped and landed on his feet, ‘Who do you think I am?’ he folded his arms. The kids swarmed him asking him to teach them how to do it.

Henry cleared his throat, ‘Shouldn’t we let him rest for a while. He has had quite a journey.’

‘It’s alright. I’m not tired.’ replied Sam.

Henry glared at him sending a cold chill down his spine, ‘I think you should rest all the same.’

Sam sighed, ‘Fine. Where should I sleep?’

One of the kids smiled, ‘Mr Henry set up some beds for us in the other room.’ he pulled Sam out, ‘I’ll show you.’

Henry sighed, ‘I can’t work him out! He isn’t scared of being beaten up. But is scared of being locked up. He can kill efficiently. But then play with little kids whole heartedly. What am I meant to do with a kid like him? He’s kind of perfectly broken.’

Sam pretended to be asleep until the kids fell asleep and walked out. Creeping the door shut he flinched hearing Henry say, ‘You’re meant to be sleeping?’

Sam turned and shushed him, ‘They’re trying to sleep! Be a bit quieter!’

Henry folded his arms, ‘That’s what you are meant to be doing! Explain yourself!’

Sam sighed, ‘I don’t sleep very well and usually wake up abruptly, sometimes screaming. I don’t want the kids seeing me like that so I was going to find somewhere else to bed down.’

Henry smiled and ruffled his hair, ‘You’re so considerate of them.’

Sam pushed his hand away, ‘Stop petting me! I’m going to bed, isn’t that what you ordered me to do?’ he walked off and found a spot next to the wall to sleep on.

‘You’re really going to sleep on the floor?’ asked Henry.

‘I always used to at the slavers house.’ explained Sam getting comfortable.

Henry walked up to him, Sam shrunk into himself wondering what he was going to do next. He took off

his coat and covered him, he sat down and rested Sam’s head on his lap, ‘Get some rest.’

Sam felt nervous but eventually fell asleep. He slept soundly for a while but soon woke up screaming he sat up and exhaled he held his head to calm himself, then heard, ‘What happened?’

‘It doesn’t matter.’ answered Sam.

‘Come on tell me.’ said Henry.

Sam stood up and walked away, ‘It’s nothing.’

Henry chuckled, ‘I could always order you to tell me.’ Sam flinched, ‘Technically, I am your owner.’ he saw Sam tense up, Henry sighed, ‘But I suppose, I should let you have your secrets.’ Sam looked at him, ‘Just so long as you aren’t planning to betray me?’

‘How the hell did you come to that conclusion?!’ asked Sam, ‘I wake up screaming and you think I am planning on betraying you?!’

Henry chuckled and stood up, ‘Come on. We have to discuss our plans for the next target.’

‘Plans?’ asked Sam, ‘Aren’t I just going to kill him?’

‘Yes but it’s a little more complicated then that.’ replied Henry, ‘I need you to get yourself inside and kill him without me.’

‘I’ll sneak in like I did before.’ explained Sam.

‘You can’t his place is a fortress, he hasn’t got any windows nor has he left his castle for going on four years now.’ explained Henry, ‘The only way to kill him is to get inside without suspicion.’

‘Then how am I supposed to get inside unnoticed?’ asked Sam.

Henry sighed and threw slave restraints on the floor in front of him, ‘He recently brought several new slaves. They will be transported there tonight.’

Sam exhaled heavily, ‘I……urm……’ he started panicking, his breathing quickened and his voice quivered, ‘Please…I don’t…want to…do that…’

‘I know it involves being locked up and I know how you hate that. But it is the only way to get you in without suspicion.’ Henry explained, ‘I’m sorry.’

Sam calmed himself on the surface but underneath he was still terrified, ‘Can you…help me…?’ he grasped control of himself, ‘The restraints are tricky to put on by myself.’

Henry saw his calm demeanour failing to mask his fear, ‘I’m sorry Sam.’ he attached the restraint to his ankle, ‘I truly am.’ he attached his other ankle, both hands and placed a collar round his neck. Sam flinched, ‘Too tight?’

Sam shook his head, ‘Just a little cold.’

‘I wish there was another way to do this but, he doesn’t like me. And I fear of I take you in as my slave he will treat you worse than if you go in undercover as one of his new slaves. I don’t want to put you through this but, he needs to be taken off the board!’ Henry replied, ‘It may not seem like it but this is the safest way to do this!’

Sam sighed, ‘I would beg you not to make me do this if I thought it would make the slightest bit of difference.’ Henry looked at him, ‘But it won’t will it?’

Henry looked away, ‘I’m sorry.’

‘I thought as much.’ he walked to the door, ‘Where do I have to go?’

‘To the carriage.’ said Henry, ‘They will take you where you need to go.’ Sam left without another word. He found the carriage and got in, he was taken to the outskirts to await the convoy carrying the other slaves and when it passed he jumped in.

The other slaves looked at him and whispered, ‘What the hell are you doing?’

‘Don’t worry. I’m just passing through.’ he replied, ‘Say nothing about this and I may be able to help you all escape.’

They got to his house and were forcefully led and thrown to their knees in font of the home owner Lord Jackson Lloyd, he counted, ‘I seem to have one extra?’

Sam raised his head slightly, ‘That would be me, Sir.’ he swallowed his fear and thought of a quick but believable lie, ‘The slavers wanted to thank you for all your support and so they sent me free of charge.’

He walked up to Sam and grabbed his chin, forcing him to look at him, ‘A free of charge slave?’

‘Yes Sir.’ he replied.

‘Why what’s wrong with you?’ he asked.

Sam replied, ‘Nothing Sir.’

He chuckled and turned to the guards, ‘Put him to work in the yard, he looks like a strong young lad.’

Sam was dragged away to the yard and made to tend to the cattle, sheep and horses. The work was hard and seemed to be never ending. Lord Jackson came in and Sam bowed low, ‘Forgive me. I was not expecting you.’ he got a chair and dusted it off , placing it by his side.

‘You are intriguing to say the least.’ Lord Jackson smirked, ‘You aren’t like the others. Your fear seems false and put on for show.’

Sam flinched, ‘My Lord, I can assure you I meant no offence and only wish to serve as best I can.’ before he could get another word out he felt sharp pain in his shoulder.

Lord Jackson had attacked him with a cattle prod, Sam lay on the floor in pain that he hadn’t experienced before, ‘You seem in pain?’ Lord Jackson mocked.

Sam calmed himself and bowed, ‘Forgive me. I’m sorry to have upset you.’ Lord Jackson attacked him again.

‘Do you want to know why I am doing this?’ he asked, Sam looked at him, ‘Because I can. When I beat all the others they beg and grovel so pathetically it’s not fun anymore. But you…’ he smirked, ‘I could torture you all night long.’ he hit him with the cattle prod over and over until he lost consciousness.

Lord Jackson sighed, ‘Pity.’ he left Sam on the stable floor.

Sam woke up shortly after his beating and instantly felt pain from his burns. He treated himself with cold water and tried to put the events of earlier from his mind. He coughed up some blood and wiped his mouth, ‘Wow! I haven’t been in this much pain before.’ he sighed, ‘What was that thing anyway?’

He heard a voice behind him, ‘It’s called a cattle prod.’

Sam turned to see a man standing behind him, unsure if he was going to hurt or help him, he backed away, ‘Who the hell are you?’

‘You’re a little aggressive aren’t you?’ he smiled. Sam seemed to growl at him, ‘Ok, I can take the hint!’ he stepped back, ‘I’m not here to hurt you kid.’

‘What are you doing here then huh?’ asked Sam.

‘I’m an old slave, the master believes me to be dead and I intend to keep it that way.’ he replied, ‘His beatings haven’t gotten any softer in all these years but I must say I am impressed with your resilience, I haven’t seen someone stand up to a beating like that in years!’

Sam cooled one of his burns, ‘Yeah well……beatings are part of my life as a slave.’ grimacing in pain he re dressed himself, ‘What’s your name anyway?’

‘Albert.’ he smiled, ‘You?’

‘Sam.’ replied Sam.

‘Nice name.’ he replied.

Sam chuckled, ‘I only got it recently.’

Albert asked, ‘What do you mean?’

‘I’m actually here to kill that bastard! I was bought by another guy a few months ago and I’ve been tasked with exterminating several major players in the slave trade in hopes of dismantling it’s very structure in it’s entirety.’ explained Sam mimicking what Henry always says, Albert looked on him as a poetic hero, ‘Or something to that effect.’

Albert chuckled, ‘I thought that sentence seemed too wordy and elegant for a slave boy to have thought it up.’

Sam smiled, ‘Do you know where that bastard sleeps? I want to kill him tonight!’

‘I do know but it isn’t that simple. He has to give the order for the doors and gates to be opened every morning. If he doesn’t they will remain shut and they’ll be no way out.’ explained Albert.

Sam sighed, ‘There’s always a catch! Let me guess he gives the order in person while he is surrounded by heavily armed guards?’ Albert nodded, ‘Fantastic!’

‘If your master sent you in here. He is clearly no friend to you.’ replied Albert.

‘Master? Friend?’ he huffed, ‘I have neither of those.’

Albert chuckled, ‘You have neither a Master or a Friend? I don’t believe that.’ he smiled at Sam, ‘And deep down, neither do you.’

Sam looked away, ‘Are you going to help me kill him or not?!’

‘Kill him after he gives the order. He normally returns to his room after that. Without any wife or children he eats his breakfast in his room alone.’ he explained, ‘You’ll have a half hour window of opportunity at least!’

Sam smiled, ‘How do you know so much?’

Albert explained, ‘Because I have been planning on killing him and getting every single slave out of here for years.’

‘How many are there?’ asked Sam.

‘Fifty? Sixty? It could be closer to a hundred!’ replied Albert.

Sam sighed, ‘I can ask Henry if he can help you when we get out of here.’

‘When?’ exclaimed Albert, ‘Sorry for my mistrust but you are only a boy. How can you possibly hope to kill him?’

Sam looked at him and said calmly, ‘Because he isn’t my first!’ Sam gathered all the information he could from Albert and planned everything down to the last detail.

Morning broke and Sam along with Albert sat watching as Lord Jackson gave the order and the gate was opened. He headed back to his chambers, Sam looked at Albert, ‘Get every servant to the stable block now.’ he looked back at the door, ‘I’ll serve him his breakfast!’

Sam intercepted the servant providing breakfast and took over. He went to Lord Jackson’s and knocked, ‘My Lord. I’m here to serve you breakfast.’

Lord Jackson opened the door, ‘I wasn’t expecting you.’ he smiled as Sam walked in placing the tray down, ‘I’m surprised, you seem fine after yesterday.’

‘Would you prefer it if I were unable to walk?’ asked Sam, ‘Because then I cannot serve you at all.’

Lord Jackson sat down, ‘You’re a very interesting young man. You hold no fear and seem to be good friends with pain.’

Sam replied, ‘I can assure you that you are mistaken. I have no such relationship with pain I merely have a high tolerance for it since the slavers house.’ Lord Jackson started eating.

‘Tell me.’ he said between bites, ‘What is your name?’

Sam lowered his head, ‘Regrettably My Lord I have none. I was never given a name by my mother or father. And the slavers mainly called me: YOU!’ Lord Jackson chuckled, but then started choking. Sam calmly passed him some water, ‘Here. I suspect some food went down the wrong way.’

Lord Jackson drank it and regained his composure, ‘It’s strange.’ he returned to eating, ‘I beat you so hard yesterday yet you’re standing here calmly serving me breakfast!’

‘You said it yourself. The others cower and you find it takes the fun out of hurting them.’ said Sam, ‘I am merely trying to provide you entertainment I know you’ll enjoy.’

Lord Jackson huffed and continued eating. His breath began to quicken as he clutched his chest, he looked up to see Sam smiling, ‘You poisoned me?!’

‘Don’t waste your final breath calling for help. Your voice will be the first thing to paralyse.’ Sam explained and just like he said Lord Jackson was unable to speak anymore.

He tried to run to the door but collapsed. Sam stood over him, ‘You should really be more careful. You let your own murderer walk right in here. You even allow paralysing plants to grow just outside the grounds!’ he lifted Lord Jackson’s head.

‘I would so enjoy to cut you into a million little pieces but I have to be quick.’ he explained, ‘I am taking all your servants and leaving today.’ he slit his throat, dropping the knife he went out the balcony and smashed the glass.

He screamed and the guards came in and almost all the guards abandoned the front gates to assist, ‘What happen…?’ they saw him on the floor, ‘What happened kid?’

Faking tears and shaking Sam looked at him, ‘A man……a man came through the window and…it just happened so fast…’

As the guards tended to the body hoping he was still alive which he was not, Sam snuck out in the confusion. He met the others and killed the remaining guards at the gate escaping with the entire slave population of his castle.

They got back to the rondevu point, Peter looked at Sam, ‘What did you do?’

‘I had to. I couldn’t leave them there.’ he explained, ‘Please take the sick and wounded the rest can follow me I know the way.’

‘Henry isn’t going to like this.’ he said.

Sam hid his eyes with his hair, ‘Tell him I’m sorry, but I had to.’ his muscles tensed, ‘And I’ll make it up to him.’

Peter sighed, ‘Fine.’ he addressed the crowd, ‘I can take six in total! Worst sick or wounded only!’

Albert asked Sam, ‘Who’s Henry?’

Sam sighed, ‘Probably the man who’s going to kill me!’ he walked off, ‘Lets go.’

‘Why don’t we all run away together?’ asked Albert.

‘Because I have a deal with him. I won’t like the consequences of breaking that deal.’ replied Sam, ‘I might get away high and dry, but people I care about might not be so lucky.’

They got back and Sam took them in and started treating their wounds. Peter came in, ‘Sam, I’ll take over here. Henry wants to see you immediately.’

Hiding his eyes with his hair, ‘How did he seem when you told him?’

‘Furious.’ he replied bluntly. An ice cold chill shot up Sam’s back as he left to see him.

Sam stood at his door and took a breath, he was about to knock on the door but stopped. Although he’d never admit it to himself in that instant he was terrified of what seeing Henry right now would entail, he feared it all the more when he remembered he was still chained up with the restraints.

Composing himself he knocked, ‘You wanted to see me?’

Henry said through the door, ‘Come in.’ Sam stepped in to see him sitting behind a desk, ‘Take a seat.’ he sat oppersite him. Silence filled the room as their eyes met.

‘Henry I’m so……’ Henry raised his hand to stop him.

‘Seventy-nine.’ he said, ‘You brought seventy-nine more slaves to my door without consulting me?’ he was about to answer when Henry spoke again, ‘What were you expecting me to do with them?’

Sam looked at him, ‘I’m sorry. But I couldn’t leave them! Not there! I was there ONE NIGHT AND…...’ he choked on his words.

‘And?’ asked Henry seeming to change his tune from furious to concerned.

Sam recalled the feeling of the cattle prod and closed his eyes to chase the thoughts from his mind, he looked up at Henry, ‘If you angry with me, go ahead punish me however you like! I don’t care just please don’t hurt anyone else! It was my mistake!’

Henry threw the cattle prod on the desk, Sam flinched at the sight of it, ‘Judging by that reaction, you know what this is!’ Sam nodded as Henry sat back, ‘Did Jackson use this on you?’ Sam looked at him in shock but nodded, ‘What if I did the same?’

Sam’s eyes widened with shock and no small amount of fear, his body betrayed him as he shook, Henry folded his arms, ‘That’s an unexpected reaction from you.’

‘What…ever you…want…’ he said failing to stop his voice from breaking.

Henry stood up and Sam flinched backing away. He tripped over his own feet and fell to the floor, seeing this Henry sighed, ‘I am sorry.’ he replied.

Sam looked at him as he walked up to him. He backed up slightly as Henry knelt down to him, ‘I had heard that sometimes he did this kind of thing but I never thought they were true.’ their eyes met, ‘I’ll take those restraints off you now. Then you can have a bath and I’ll arrange some new clothes for you.’

Sam took a breath, ‘Whatever you want.’

Henry gritted his teeth but calmed himself before he spoke again, ‘What am I meant to do with such a perfectly broken kid?’ he took the restraints off.

He caught a glimpse of one of his burns, he went to touch them but Sam grabbed his wrist hard. They looked at one another. Sam whimpered, ‘Don’t! Please!’

Henry relaxed his arm, ‘Alright.’ Sam let him go and he stood holding his hand out, ‘Come on.’ Sam looked up at him, ‘I believe I told you before I want you to see me as your friend not your master.’ he took his hand and helped him up, ‘You don’t have to fear me. Remember that!’

Sam nodded and looked at the cattle prod, ‘How did you get that?’

‘One of the wounded ones you sent ahead, gave it to me as evidence that he does indeed use it on them regularly, they showed me their burns.’ explained Henry as Sam shrunk away, ‘Look you don’t have to talk to me about your past but please talk to someone. All the pain you’ve been through at such a young age. Forgive me for my part of that but you have to let it out. It’s starting to effect you, I can tell it is.’

‘What’s the point? What will it achieve?’ asked Sam, ‘I am who I am not because of what I’ve been through but because it’s how I am!’

‘Sam. You don’t sleep like you should! You barely eat! You don’t cry! You don’t act scared in situations where most people would be paralysed with fear!’ explained Henry, ‘I know everyone is different but this is something else entirely!’

Sam walked out, ‘I’ll go have a bath.’

Henry gritted his teeth and clenched his fist, ‘What is wrong with him? Why won’t he just open up?’

Sam thought heading to take his bath, ‘What is wrong with him? Why won’t he just leave me alone? So, I’m closed off! So, what?! I’m not hurting anybody!’ he stopped to look at his burns in a mirror and sighed, ‘I thought for a second he was actually going to……’ he shook his head, ‘Stop it!’ he walked into the wash room, ‘He’ll just do whatever he wants and I just have to sit there and take it.’

He got washed and dressed and stepped out to see Henry and another waiting for him, ‘Sam. This is a special kind of talking doctor. I want you to spend some time with him.’

Sam sighed, ‘Whatever you want.’

The doctor smiled, ‘My name is Doctor Simon Waltz. Nice to meet you Sam.’

Sam leaned up against the wall, ‘What is this about? What the hell am I meant to do here?’

‘Talk about whatever you want to talk about.’ he said, he turned to Henry, ‘Could you leave us to talk?’

Henry nodded and walked off, ‘I hear you’ve kinda been having a hard time recently. Do you want to talk about it?’

Sam folded his arms, ‘Not particularly.’

‘How about your parents? What were they like?’ he asked.

‘One skipped out on me and the other sold me into slavery. Nothing else to tell.’ replied Sam bluntly.

Simon answered, ‘I fear you’re glossing over the issues a little too much!’

Sam sighed, ‘Listen, you wanted me to talk. This is me talking. I don’t do long expressive conversation so save your breath!’

‘You’re really quite guarded aren’t you?’ asked Simon. Sam looked away giving no response.

He thought, ‘Can you blame me!?’ then replied, ‘Whatever you say.’

Every question Simon put to him was answered with a closed or simple statement. He couldn’t get him to talk at any length about anything. He was about to give up when the little kid that liked him jumped up at him.

‘You’re back!?’ he said happily.

Sam smiled and changed his whole demeanour, ‘Hey! How have you been?’

‘Ok. Mr Henry plays with us every day between our lessons!’ he replied, ‘And he gave me a name too.’

‘Really?!’ he smiled using his whole face, ‘What is it?’

‘Stuart.’ he replied.

Sam chuckled along with him, ‘Well Stuart. I have to finish talking to this guy here for a moment. But Mr Henry went that way a while ago. Try find him, I’m sure he wants to play.’

‘Ok!’ he walked off then turned back, ‘See you later Sam!’

‘Bye Stuart!’ he waved goodbye, once he was out of sight Sam returned to his old self. He folded his arms and leaned against the wall, ‘Where were we?’

‘Tell me about Stuart.’ he said.

Sam’s eyes narrowed as he stood away from the wall taking one step towards him, ‘You stay away from him! He has nothing to do with this!’

Simon stepped back, he wasn’t expecting the reaction he got at all, ‘I wasn’t going to hurt him, I promise. I am just interested as to why you changed so completely when he came up to you?’

‘Because he is just a kid! How else am I supposed to react to him!?’ exclaimed Sam, ‘He has seen things no five year old should ever have to see but he still has a shred of innocence in him. I will not let that be taken from him! I don’t care what happens to me! As long as he is safe! I will gladly take a thousand beatings to protect him!’

‘Why?!’ asked Simon, ‘Why would you do that for him?’

Sam sighed and leaned back against the wall, ‘Like I told you he’s just a kid! I will take the torture of being a slave for the rest of my life as long as he and the others aren’t!’ he left.

‘Self sacrifice for the good of others.’ stated Simon, ‘You’re far too young!’

Simon went to see Henry, ‘So, what do you think of Sam then?’

‘Sam is truly messed up in the head!’ Simon replied, ‘He has a strong moral compass and understands right from wrong, which is good. But, I see what you mean. He doesn’t respond like a normal child of his age would. When he is around the boy, Stuart, his personality changes completely.’

Henry smiled, ‘I know. He really wants to protect Stuart and the others, even if he has to do things he really doesn’t want to do. Is he safe to be on his own?’ Simon looked at him, ‘If I let him go one day, if I release him from his slave hood. Will he be alright on his own?’

‘I don’t know.’ replied Simon, ‘He doesn’t seem to know what is safe to eat and what isn’t. While we were talking he ate a bug that was crawling on the window ledge!’

Henry chuckled, ‘Is he really still doing that?! I told him off for doing that!’

‘You mean you knew he did stuff like that!?’ exclaimed Simon, ‘And you still asked me if he’d be safe on his own!?’

‘When he was at the slavers house, the slaves were rarely given food and so he ate bugs!’ Henry explained, ‘I will have another word with him about stopping that!’

Simon sighed, ‘I don’t think it would be a good idea to let him be alone, I can’t say with a certainty that he’d survive on his own.’

Henry smiled, ‘Thank you.’ Simon left and Henry went to find Sam. He found him reading the kids a bedtime story, they drifted off one by one. He saw Henry by the door and sighed as he walked out and shut the door.

‘What have I done wrong now?’ Sam asked.

‘Nothing.’ he smiled and ruffled his hair, ‘Actually, Simon told me you ate a bug while talking to him.’

Sam sighed, ‘I’m sorry. It’s force of habit! I know you give me food regularly but I just do it out of habit now.’ he saw the slaves from earlier that day being given blankets to bed down on, ‘I never really thanked you for letting them stay and for not kicking my head in for bringing them here.’

‘It’s alright.’ replied Henry, ‘I’m really quite glad.’ Sam looked at him, ‘I know you wouldn’t have dared to even dream of doing this if you didn’t trust me!’ Henry ruffled Sam’s hair smiling, ‘It’s nice to know that you trust me enough to do this.’

Sam smiled, ‘I knew you’d be mad at me at first but I knew you’d help them, even if you were mad at me and locked me in my room, I know you’d still help them. It’s the kind of person you are.’ Henry chuckled, ‘What’s so funny?!’

‘You’re smiling around me a lot more than you used to!’ Henry answered.

Sam blushed, ‘Sh……shut up! I’m going to bed!’ he walked away.

‘Sam!’ Sam turned, ‘Due to the high level of unexpected guests, there aren’t any spare rooms. I gave your room to the female slaves you brought in. The kids are in that one and the men are in that one. I’m afraid you’ll have to bunk with me.’ explained Henry.

‘I’ll sleep in there with the kids.’ said Sam.

‘You said so yourself you don’t want them to see you wake up.’ Henry replied.

‘Then, I’ll sleep with the male servants I met today.’ answered Sam.

Henry replied, ‘Their room is full you won’t be able to sleep in there. And you can’t sleep with the women.’

‘I’ll find somewhere else then!’ said Sam, ‘I’ll sleep in a cupboard or something.’

Henry asked, ‘What do you think I’m going to do to you? When I said you’d have to bunk up with me I meant you in your own bed, just in my room. I’ll be in my bed, you’ll be in yours.’

Sam sighed, ‘It’s just……It feels weird.’

Henry chuckled, ‘You’ve slept on my lap before.’

‘That’s different!’ replied Sam. He looked at Henry, ‘But I guess there isn’t much choice.’

Henry walked past him, ‘This way.’ he went to his room, Sam saw Henry’s bed and one for himself, ‘It isn’t much but it’s safe.’ he went to his bedside took his jacket off, he turned to Sam who hadn’t moved from the doorway, ‘Come on in and get some rest.’

Sam slowly walked over to his bed and got in, ‘Goodnight.’ said Henry.

‘G……Goodnight…’ he replied.

Eventually they were both asleep. Sam woke up abruptly and couldn’t calm his breathing, he looked over to Henry who was still asleep. He couldn’t relax so went over to Henry and shook him, ‘Henry?’ he shook him again, ‘Henry?’ he woke up.

‘Sam? What’s wrong? What time is it?’ asked Henry raising his head.

‘I don’t know.’ replied Sam.

Henry saw him shaking, ‘Are you ok?’

Sam looked at him, ‘No.’ he whimpered, ‘I know how this is going to sound but…can I sleep with you?’

‘What the hell?! I thought he was scared to even sleep in the same room as me earlier!’ Henry thought but said, ‘Sure.’ he lifted the covers up and Sam got in. He faced the other way and curled up. As Henry lowered the covers he wrapped his arm round him, hugging him in his sleep, ‘You’re safe with me.’

Instead of flinching and wanting to get away, he felt comforted and his tense body relaxed. He fell asleep almost instantly. This didn’t go unnoticed by Henry he smiled, ‘To make you come to me like this, it must have been some serious nightmare you had. I never thought in a million years you’d show me your soft side!’ he settled down to sleep.

In the morning, Sam woke up and noticed Henry was hugging him, he blushed and got up.

He thought, ‘What the hell am I doing sharing his bed with him?!’ he remembered everything and blushed bright red.

Henry woke up and Sam composed himself, Henry saw him, ‘Morning.’ he got up.

‘Morning.’ Sam replied looking away.

‘Did you sleep well last night?’ asked Henry.

Sam answered, ‘Yeah. I’m sorry about waking you up and sleeping next to you.’

Henry smiled, ‘It’s alright. I’m happy that you did that.’ Sam looked at him, ‘Don’t be afraid to show me your soft side every now and again.’ Sam blushed, ‘I won’t tell anyone or pick on you about it, so you don’t have to worry.’

Sam went to the door, ‘Come on. I’m hungry.’

Henry smiled thinking, ‘He’s put his guard back up now.’

They went to the kitchen to see it was packed with the slaves from Jackson’s Castle, they saw Henry and bowed. Albert walked up to him, ‘My Lord we just wanted to thank you for taking us in last night.’

Henry blushed, ‘Just call me Henry. And there is really no need.’ he looked at Albert, ‘How many are able to work?’

‘All of us.’ he replied.

‘I would like to place you in suitable employment. You will be given a wage, a room, meals and I can assure you none of you will be hurt ever again.’ Henry explained, ‘It is easy to place fully trained adults and I have a few contacts.’ they all looked worried, ‘They want employees not slaves.’

Albert looked at Sam, ‘Do you trust this man?’

Sam smiled, ‘I do. I can’t explain why but I do. I trust him with my life.’

Albert nodded, ‘If Sam trusts you, that’s good enough for me.’ the next four hours were spent categorising each persons skills and how well trained they were.

Henry sent them out to the respective houses and castles over half were placed and the other half decided to go their own ways. Sam exhaled exhaustedly, ‘That was a lot of work!’

‘You did well.’ replied Henry, ‘I may not have been overly enthusiastic when you brought them here but I have to say, you did fantastically.’

‘I have to admit I was really worried walking back.’ explained Sam, ‘I’ve never really disobeyed you or made you really mad before, so I was kind of worried about what I was getting myself in for.’

Henry chuckled, ‘I’ve never really been much of a disciplinarian. That was her job.’ his voice cracked and he closed his eyes, ‘Forget I said that!’ he went to leave, ‘Go do whatever you want for the rest of today. We’re leaving tomorrow.’

Sam thought, ‘What’s gotten into him?’

Henry went back to his room and pulled out a locket with a picture of his wife and son. He cried into his hand. Not knowing Stuart could hear him.

Stuart ran to find Sam, ‘Sam?’

‘There you are.’ said Sam, ‘I was wondering where you got to?’

‘Sam. Why is Mr Henry upset?’ Stuart asked.

‘What makes you think he’s upset?’ asked Sam.

Stuart explained, ‘I went to see if he wanted to play or not and I heard him crying.’

Sam thought, ‘He’s crying!? That’s impossible Stuart must be mistaken.’ he smiled, ‘I’m sure he’s alright.’ Stuart‘s expression didn’t change Sam sighed, ‘Alright. If you’re that worried I’ll go see what’s bothering him.’

‘Thanks Sam.’ said Stuart as Sam left to go talk to him as he walked closer to his door he heard him crying, he thought, ‘Stuart wasn’t mistaken!? What’s he crying about? It’s not like I can open the door and ask him. Who knows how he’ll react!?’ he remembered what Henry said earlier: ‘I’ve never really been much of a disciplinarian. That was her job.’ Sam thought for a moment, ‘Her job? Did he have a wife?! But she wouldn’t have that job unless, he had a kid too?!’

Sam stepped away from the door, ‘No way! He has a kid!? I shouldn’t be here I should leave before he…’ he couldn’t even finish he’s train of thought as Henry walked out, he flinched and fell back onto the floor, ‘Crap! I’m screwed! He saw me!’

‘Sam?’ he knelt down to him, ‘What’s wrong it’s not like you to lose your balance so easily?!’

‘Nothing. Urm…Stu…Stuart…was wondering where you were? So I said I’d come to find you.’ Sam replied telling a half truth.

Henry looked Sam straight in the eyes, ‘Now that’s a lie!’

‘Crap! He can tell when I’m lying!?’ Sam thought.

‘I know I left things on unsteady terms when we last spoke.’ he scratched the back of his head, ‘I’m sorry I think I made you scared again.’

Sam not wanting him to realise that he’d just caught Henry crying alone in his room nodded, ‘Yeah. I always feel uneasy when you seem to be mad at me.’

‘Don’t worry I’m not mad at you.’ replied Henry, ‘But I would appreciate it if you would forget what I said to you all the same.’ Sam nodded, ‘Now then.’ he picked Sam up off the floor, ‘I guess Stuart wants to play huh?’ Sam nodded, ‘He’s got so much energy I can hardly keep up!’

‘Don’t worry I struggle too.’ Sam smiled, he looked at Henry, ‘Since the other slaves have gone, you can have your room back.’

‘I wouldn’t mind if you stayed.’ replied Henry, ‘It’s nice not to be alone.’

Sam blushed, ‘Sure why not?’ Henry chuckled, ‘What’s so funny?!’

‘I was expecting you to say: Whatever you want.’ he ruffled his hair, ‘I wasn’t expecting you to agree.’

Sam looked away, ‘Sh...shut up!’

They went to see the kids. Stuart came right up to them, ‘Mr Henry are you happy now?’

Henry knelt down to him as a cold chill ran down Sam’s back, ‘What do you mean?’

‘I heard you crying earlier. I was worried so I asked Sam to check on you.’ he replied.

‘Did you now?’ he asked smiling, he ruffled his hair, ‘That’s so sweet of you. Not to worry I’m fine now. Go pick out a toy to play with.’ Sam tried to drift off when he heard Henry clear his throat, ‘Sam?’ he tapped his foot on the floor raising one eye brow.

Sam turned scratching the back of his head, ‘I’m sorry but I don’t do emotions and since you obviously wanted to be alone and have no one see you upset you clearly didn’t want to talk about it.’ he changed his attitude and folded his arms, ‘Forgive me for trying to be considerate!’

‘Sam?’ he asked, holding his arms out, ‘I could do with a hug.’

Sam blushed folding his arms tighter, ‘What nonsense are you spouting now? Hm? Could do with a hug? Don’t try pull that one on me!’

Henry softened his expression, ‘Please, just one.’ Sam gritted his teeth as his eyes closed, ‘Please.’

His body relaxed, ‘Fine!’ he hugged him and tried to let go, but Henry didn’t, ‘Let go of me already!’

Henry hugged him closer, ‘Thank you.’ Sam blushed bright red as all the other boys came over hugging them too.

Sam sighed, ‘I blame you for this.’

‘I know.’ replied Henry, he and the other let go. They returned to playing while Sam shivered, ‘What’s the matter?’

‘I told you. I’m not normally that kind of person.’ explained Sam.

Henry chuckled, ‘I think you’re more that kind of person than you either want to admit or realise!’

Sam blushed, ‘Would you stop talking nonsense!?’ Stuart came up to them.

‘Sam? Will you play with us?’ he asked, Sam smiled.

‘Sure.’ he started playing with them. He looked over to Henry, ‘You too tough guy!’

They played until the kids fell asleep, Sam sat on the floor exhausted, ‘Who knew kids were such a hassle!?’

Henry chuckled, ‘You handle them very well though.’ he stood up from his chair, ‘Come on we should be going to bed too!’ Sam followed him and went to his room. Henry got in bed and was shocked when Sam got in next to him, ‘You want to sleep up here with me?!’

Sam nodded, ‘As much as I hate to admit it, I sleep better when I’m near you. Normally, after I wake up I’m awake for the day, but I was able to fall back asleep next to you. I can’t explain it but I sleep better next to you.’

Henry smiled and settled down, ‘Alright. Goodnight.’

‘Goodnight.’ he replied curling up facing the wall resting his back on Henry, Henry smiled and wrapped his arm around him. Just like the night before instead of wanting to get away he settled down quicker.

Over breakfast that morning Henry was talking to Sam, ‘Lord William Smith, Sir Anton Victor Kanton, Fredric Waterstone and Lord Jackson Lloyd are taken care of, there is only one left now.’

‘Your father?’ asked Sam.

‘Yes. His name is Lord Benedict Quartz Raven.’ said Henry, ‘Dispatch him however you like. I don’t care.’

Sam rested his head on his hand, ‘Are you sure you want him dead? He is your father after all.’

Henry stood up, ‘Yes.’ he walked out, ‘Do as you’re told.’

Sam sighed, ‘Whatever you want.’ he was about to leave when Stuart collapsed. He ran over and turned him over, ‘STUART!?’ he tried to wake him up but couldn’t, ‘Stuart?! Can you hear me Stuart?!’ Sam threw him over his shoulder and put him back on his bed, he cooled his fever.

‘Sam? Is he going to be ok?’ asked another boy.

‘I don’t know I’m not a doctor!’ he turned to the boy, ‘I’m sure he’ll be fine after some rest.’ he stood up, ‘Cool his fever. I’m going to talk to Mr Henry.’

He went to Henry’s office door, he was about to knock when his courage failed him, ‘He told me to leave, is it really ok to still be here? No, he wouldn’t hurt me, would he?’

Sam composed himself and knocked, he flinched hearing his voice from behind the door ‘Enter.’ Sam walked in, ‘Why are you here?! I told you to……’

‘I’m sorry!’ Sam interrupted, ‘Please you must call for the doctor.’

 

‘Why? Are you sick?’ asked Henry looking up from his desk, seeming genuinely worried.

Sam started shaking, ‘Stuart has collapsed. Please I’m begging you, call for the doctor. I don’t know what else to do! Please!’

Henry answered, ‘I’ll call for him at once so please stop shaking. Go back to him and make sure he is comfortable. Keep him warm and get him to drink something if you can. Soak a cloth or a sponge and drip it into his mouth of he can’t sit up to drink.’

Sam nodded and ran out back to Stuart’s side. He continued cooling his fever until the doctor arrived to examine him. He walked off to the doorway with Henry and shook his head.

Sam went over, ‘Please! Do something!’ Henry hid his eyes with his hair and looked away, ‘No, please I’ll do anything!’

Doctor Gunderson sighed, ‘The only treatment for his condition isn’t cheap or simple.’

‘But there’s a treatment!?’ asked Sam, the doctor nodded. Sam turned to Henry, ‘Please!’

‘It hasn’t got a good success rate!’ explained Henry, ‘Especially with the young.’

Sam bowed to his knees, ‘Please! I swear, I’ll do whatever you want! Just help him! I’ll obey every word you say! Just help him, please!’

Henry looked away, ‘I’m sorry Sam, but even if I had the money to pay for it it’s more likely to fail then to succeed and prolong his suffering.’

‘How much do we need?’ asked Sam.

Doctor Gunderson looked at Henry, who nodded, ‘If you write it down he’ll understand better.’ he wrote it down on a piece of paper and passed it to him.

‘Ok.’ he stood up, ‘Keep him alive. I’ll be back later.’

Henry grabbed his arm, ‘Where do you think you are going?’

Sam placed his hand on Henry’s, ‘Please let me go. I’ll explain everything when I return I promise.’

‘Why can’t you explain it to me now?’ asked Henry.

‘Because I fear you will not let me go once you know.’ replied Sam, ‘I’m begging you, please. Let me go!’

Henry let go, ‘You better be careful and you better come back!’

Sam smiled, ‘I will I promise.’

Sam left and didn’t come back until the evening with a bag, he threw it at the Doctor’s feet, he opened it to see the exact amount needed. Henry was shocked, ‘How the hell did you get this?!’

‘I stole it.’ Sam replied bluntly.

‘SAM! You can’t do that!’ Henry yelled.

Sam replied, ‘I stole it from your father’s vault!’

Henry stepped back in shock, ‘And how do you know where my fathers vault is?’

‘Simple. You told Peter where your fathers place is, it was just a matter of sneaking around and over hearing where he keeps it. Once I did that it was simple enough.’ replied Sam, ‘Unfortunately, your father wasn’t there or I’d of killed him and took the money.’

‘Simple?!’ exclaimed Henry, he slapped him, knocking him to the floor, ‘If you were caught he’d of killed you! Don’t you dare do anything that stupid and reckless ever again! Do you understand me?!’

Sam rubbed his cheek, ‘I know. I’m sorry. But Stuart needed the medicine!’

Henry’s face softened as he helped him up and pulled him into a hug, ‘No, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have hit you. Forgive me.’

Sam flinched with shock but his face sank to a smile, ‘I do and I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to get you all upset.’

Doctor Gunderson smiled, ‘I’ll be back with the remedy shortly.’

Sam tried to push Henry off him but he wouldn’t let go, ‘Come on. Let go of me!’

Henry hugged him tighter, ‘No! I won’t!’ Sam blushed, ‘I fear you’ll leave again.’

‘I only wanted to check on Stuart.’ he replied.

Henry let go and smiled at him, ‘He regained consciousness while you were out, he’s been asking after you.’ Henry explained.

Sam ran off and went to see him, ‘Stuart!? How are you feeling?’

Stuart smiled, ‘I don’t feel well.’ Sam smiled hiding the tears in his eyes, ‘I feel really tired and cold.’

‘It’s alright.’ Sam said stroking his head, ‘The doctor is going to fix you up and then when you’re feeling up to it we can play.’

‘Sam?’ he asked, ‘Will you stay with me?’

Sam smiled and lay next to him, ‘Of course I will.’

Five hours later, Doctor Gunderson arrived and gave Stuart the medicine, ‘You should feel better soon.’

‘Thank you.’ said Sam tucking Stuart in, ‘Get some sleep now.’ Sam felt a blanket being placed over him, he turned to see Henry tucking him in, ‘What are you doing?’

‘I thought that would be obvious ?!’ exclaimed Henry, ‘I am not having you catch a cold sleeping on the floor all night without a blanket!’ he stood up and walked over to a bench, ‘I’ll be right here if you need me.’

Sam gritted his teeth, ‘Whatever you want.’ Stuart, Sam and Henry were all asleep for the rest of the night. In the morning they woke up to see Stuart missing.

‘STUART?!’ Sam exclaimed, ‘Where are you?’

Stuart came out the bathroom, ‘Sorry I had to go to the bathroom. Is everything ok?’

Sam hugged him, ‘I knew you’d be ok! I just knew it!’

Stuart hugged him back, ‘What do you call this?’

‘It’s called a hug.’ smiled Sam, ‘A woman I met on my travels up here taught me what it was.’

‘It’s nice.’ smiled Stuart.

Sam hugged him tighter, ‘I know.’

Henry cleared his throat, ‘Sam. Haven’t you got a job to do?’ Sam let Stuart go and looked at him.

‘Just a little longer, please, he’s just woken up?’ asked Sam.

‘Sam. Your window of opportunity is small and closing. So, do as you’re told. Or would you like to face the consequences?’ said Henry with a sternness that sent chills down Sam’s back.

Sam stood up and bowed his head, ‘Forgive me. I’ll go now.’ Sam left.

Peter asked, ‘Are you ok Sam? You seem a little…I don’t know…scared…’

Sam pulled himself together, ‘I’m fine.’ he sighed, ‘I’ve been given my orders. If Henry says: ‘Jump’ I ask him: ‘How high?’ that’s all there is to it.’ he thought, ‘I was stupid to think that even for a second he was nice or kind. He is just like everyone else. No. He’s much worse!’ he fought back his tears.

He got to Henry’s family home for the second time that day and snuck in. He looked around for Henry’s father but couldn’t find him anywhere. He thought, ‘I can’t go back to Henry if I fail.’ he trembled thinking about what he might do, ‘What would he do if I did go back without killing his father?’ he thought of Stuart and the others sold back into slavery, ‘I would like to think he wouldn’t do that but I fear he would.’

Before he could move again, he heard a guard yell, ‘HEY!? You there!’ he turned to see three guards looking at him, ‘Who are you?!’ they ran up to him so he ran away, ‘Stop right there!’

Sam made it out the grounds and hid in a ditch as the guards ran past, two stayed at the gate. Sam sighed and followed the ditch to get away from the grounds. He got back to Peter covered in mud and sweaty.

Peter laughed at him, ‘Are you ok? What happened?’

‘He wasn’t there and even if he was I have no idea where he is, but I had to leave the local guard force spotted me and tried to take me down.’ Sam explained.

‘Come on. I’ll take you back.’ he replied. Sam became nervous, ‘What is it? Why are you so scared?’

‘Have you ever seen Henry when he’s angry?’ asked Sam.

He answered, ‘No, because he is not quick to anger from what I have seen.’

‘Well I have a slightly different experience than you.’ Sam replied.

Peter answered, ‘Did you know he had a wife and son?’ Sam shook his head, ‘That’s why he hates his father so much.’

‘What has that got to do with anything?’ asked Sam.

‘He isn’t quick to anger because he calculates. He was disowned and disinherited because he married a low born woman and had a child with her.’ he explained, ‘His father found out, killed the woman and sold his son. By the time Henry had found where he was sold he had already been sold on and he was beaten to death for not being good enough at his new job.’

Sam answered, ‘I never even thought……’ his face softened, ‘I can’t go back to Henry without killing his father and I can’t go back to his fathers because the guards are looking for me!’

Peter’s face sank to a smile, ‘Calm down, Henry won’t be mad at you for this. He’ll understand that his father wasn’t here and that you had to leave quickly due to guards.’

‘I’m not so sure.’ answered Sam, he thought for a moment, ‘How do you know all this anyway?’

‘I was employed by his father as a driver.’ Peter explained, ‘When I saw what he did to Henry’s wife and child I couldn’t work for him anymore. So, I found Henry and we’ve been together ever since, I make money as a driver and he makes money by selling rescued slaves into suitable employ.’

‘He makes money out of this!?’ exclaimed Sam.

‘It’s not as you think. He knows who will pay a fair wage and who will not so he knows who to sell them to. He is not selling them as slaves but as servants. Servants get a wage.’ Peter explained, ‘He is a good guy, you have to trust him.’

Sam thought, ‘Trust him?! He’s no saint!’

‘Come on. I’ll take you back and explain everything for you. When we get back, stay outside if you’re worried.’ Peter explained.

Sam sighed, ‘No. I’ll tell him. I’m the one that messed up in the first place.’

‘Ok.’ he let him in, ‘Try to get some sleep on the way back you look exhausted.’ without thinking he fell asleep. They got back and he was still asleep, Peter went in to find Henry, ‘I’ve brought him back.’

‘Where is he?’ asked Henry.

‘Asleep. He fell asleep on the way back.’ explained Peter.

Henry asked, ‘Did he do as he was told?’

‘He tried to.’ replied Peter, ‘He was chased out by guards before he could find your father.’

Henry threw his glass at the wall shattering it, ‘Damn it!’ he turned to Peter and calmed, ‘Is Sam ok?’

Peter replied, ‘He’d never admit this to you but……he’s terrified.’

‘Of what?’ asked Henry oblivious.

‘Of you.’ answered Peter, ‘He is terrified that you are mad at him, he doesn’t know what you’re going to do and he’s scared.’

Henry sighed, ‘I should of never done this! I should have just sold him on with the rest.’

‘Henry?’ asked Peter, ‘He has done everything you have asked of him. How can you say that?’

‘Because!’ he yelled, he stopped himself, ‘Because he is just like……’

Peter smiled, ‘He reminds you of Ben doesn’t he?’ Henry nodded, ‘Then, why put him through all of this?’

Henry sighed, ‘He was trained to be an assassin and I had people I needed dead! It was perfect! I was careless and let myself get attached to him!’

Peter said, ‘I think he’s gotten a little attached to you too.’

‘No he hasn’t.’ replied Henry, ‘He hates me.’

‘He has never lied to you about the things he understands.’ Peter explained, ‘But this isn’t something he will understand. He wouldn’t be upset or worried about disappointing you if he hadn’t grown some level of attachment to you?’

Henry sighed, ‘I shouldn’t have let him get attached to me nor get attached to him! I should of never……!’ he walked past Peter.

‘Where are you going?’ asked Peter.

‘To see dear old dad!’ he replied grabbing the slave restraints as he left. He went up to Sam and put the restraints on him in his sleep, ‘I’m sorry Sam. I know you hate being locked up.’ he then headed to his fathers house, he went through the gates as Sam woke up.

Sam flinched seeing him and quickly realised he was restrained, ‘Henry what are you doing?’

Henry sighed, ‘Just play the part for me. I don’t have time to explain.’

‘Henry? Please take these off! I’m sorry I messed up please!’ pleaded Sam, restrained like that and unable to fight back, he acted just like everyone else would.

Henry repeated as he got to his fathers house, ‘Just play the part for me. I don’t have time to explain.’ he attached a chain to his collar and gently tugged on it, ‘Come on out.’ Sam slowly made his way out, uneasy and unsure about what he was going to do he tried to be as submissive as possible.

He stood next to him as he presented Sam to his father, ‘I thought I told you I never wanted to see your face again?’ said his father, Lord Benedict Quartz Raven.

‘I understand however I have since seen the error of my ways and wish to make amends.’ Henry replied. He pulled Sam forward, ‘I have bought you something.’

‘A slave boy?’ exclaimed Lord Benedict, he smirked, ‘How unexpected of you.’

‘Like I said, I want to make amends.’ Henry answered.

Lord Benedict turned to Sam, ‘What can you do?’

Sam forced himself to compose, ‘I can do domestic duties, My Lord. I can also read and write, so I can assess what documents are required for your attention and which ones can be filed away and listed in a report for your review.’

‘Impressive.’ Lord Benedict replied, ‘But I’m not your Lord.’

Sam bowed his head, ‘Forgive me Master.’

‘That’s better.’ answered Lord Benedict, he turned to Henry, ‘Stay the night at least, you’re slave can serve you for one final night before he becomes mine.’

Henry masked his disgust, ‘Thank you father.’ he looked at Sam and tugged on the chain. They got to another room and he pinned Sam to the wall, ‘I thought you said he wasn’t here?’

Sam shrunk into himself, ‘He wasn’t! I swear!’

‘Are you lying to me?’ asked Henry.

Sam looked him straight in the eye, ‘No. I looked in every room when I was here earlier. He wasn’t here! I looked for him right up until the guards spotted me! I’m too scared of you to lie to you.’

Henry let him go and backed up, ‘You’re scared of me?’

‘Not all the time.’ replied Sam, ‘Only when you’re angry.’

‘I’m sorry.’ he replied, ‘But I think you might have done me a favour.’

‘What?’ asked Sam, ‘How?’

‘My father looked over at his executor several times while we were speaking, he may put me back in his will, meaning I will inherit his entire estate after you kill him.’ explained Henry.

Sam looked at him, ‘You’re not really going to leave me here are you?’

Henry smiled, ‘Of course not.’

Sam asked, ‘What should I do now? Should I kill him or wait?’

‘I would love it if you’d kill him tonight but I would like to confirm my suspicion before we execute the plan.’ replied Henry.

Sam answered, ‘I don’t want to do this. I don’t want to even pretend to be his slave!’

Henry ruffled his hair, ‘I know. I’ll try to protect you as much as possible.’

Sam hid his eyes with his hair as he started shaking, his legs gave way and he dropped to the floor, ‘I’m scared Henry. I have never been this scared before in my life. Please…at least remove my restraints! Please!’

‘I can’t. only my father can now.’ Henry hugged him, ‘Calm yourself.’ he held him close, ‘Just listen to my heartbeat.’ Sam heard a completely calm and steady heartbeat, ‘Nothing else matters.’ it calmed him down quicker then Henry expected, ‘Just listen to my heart and breathe.’

‘How did you know that would work?’ asked Sam.

‘I guessed that’s was why you fell asleep so well when you shared the bed with me. You were calmed by my heartbeat.’ explained Henry, ‘It was only a theory but it seems that I was correct.’

Sam relaxed in his grip, ‘You’re too smart for your own good you know that!’

Henry chuckled, ‘And you’re too good at what you do for your own good. How do you feel now?’ Sam looked at him smiling.

‘I can do it!’ replied Sam.

‘Are you still scared?’ Henry asked.

Sam shook his head, ‘Like you said: You’ll try to protect me as much as possible.’

In the morning, they went to breakfast. Sam’s restraints were lengthened so he could serve but still attached, he was serving as Lord Benedict’s personal slave. Lord Benedict smiled as every move was flawless and precise, ‘Who trained you?’

‘Forgive me, I don’t know the name of the slave house I came from, nor the man who trained me. I was only there for a short time before I was bought.’ Sam lied.

‘And you’re this good after such a short time?’ asked Lord Benedict.

Sam lied with a hint of truth, ‘My father sold me to slavers after I showed promise, luckily for them it was a simple case of fine tuning my skills making them ready for sale.’

‘Are you trained in stable management?’ asked Lord Benedict, ‘Can you ride?’

Sam answered, ‘I fear not but I can always learn if required.’ he poured him his drink. Lord Benedict grabbed his wrists before he pulled away, stopping him. Sam looked at him, ‘Forgive me Master, have I done something to offend you?’

Lord Benedict let him go, ‘Interesting.’

Henry replied, ‘I’m sorry. What’s interesting?’

‘You didn’t flinch.’ Lord Benedict replied, ‘Most slaves jump when I even enter the room. But you gave no response what so ever.’

Sam explained, ‘I am not afraid of being punished if I have done something wrong. So, I don’t flinch.’

Lord Benedict chuckled, ‘Only someone who has never been beaten would think in such a way.’

‘Forgive me Master but that is not entirely true.’ he replied he showed him the scars on his arms, ‘I have been beaten more times than I can count. Even fine tuning your skills can yield mistakes.’ he bowed his head, ‘I must attend to the dishes.’ he took the empty plates away and washed them up in the kitchen.

Another slave tripped breaking what they were carrying, ‘No!’ he scrambled to clear it up, terrified that someone would see. Sam knelt down and helped him, ‘Please don’t tell anyone! I’m begging you. I don’t want to be punished again!’

‘Relax. I won’t tell anyone.’ answered Henry.

Before he could respond someone else entered the room, ‘You clumsy fool!’ he kicked the other slave.

Sam stood in between them, ‘No, it was my fault! I tripped him by accident!’

‘You’re his new favourite aren’t you?’ he asked. Sam looked him right in the eyes, ‘Not talking? Shall we go see your Master then?’

Sam answered, ‘Why not? I have nothing to hide. This was my fault and I’m prepared to face the consequences.’

He smiled, ‘Oh you are, are you?’ he chuckled, ‘You won’t be saying that once he’s done with you.’ he grabbed him by his hair and dragged him in front of Lord Benedict and Henry, he threw him to the floor.

‘Why have you brought him to me?’ asked Lord Benedict.

‘He has caused problems in the kitchen. He tripped another slave over and broke several plates.’ he explained.

Lord Benedict stood up and walked over to him, striking him hard in the face knocking the man down, he looked up confused, ‘So, you thought instead of making him clear it up, you’d bring him to me!?’

‘I thought…’ he was cut off by Lord Benedict’s kick to his stomach.

‘No! You don’t think!’ yelled Lord Benedict, ‘GET OUT OF MY SIGHT!’ he scrambled to his feet and ran out, Lord Benedict turned to Sam, ‘Tell me what happened?’

Sam sat up on his knees, ‘I’m sorry because of the severity of my restraints, I can’t move so well and I tripped another slave over when he was carrying plates for washing. Please! Forgive me! I’ll take any punishment you want to give.’

Lord Benedict sighed, ‘Fine.’ he turned to Henry, ‘Do you have the key to his restraints?’ Henry pulled it out of his pocket and passed it to him, he undid Sam’s restraints.

Sam looked at him shocked, ‘Thank you Master.’

‘One more mistake and I won’t be so nice.’ Lord Benedict threatened. He kicked him, ‘Do you understand?!’ Sam nodded picking himself off the floor, ‘Off you go then. Clear that mess up!’ Sam bowed and went out. Lord Benedict turned back to Henry who was shocked, ‘What?’

‘You undid his restraints?’ asked Henry.

Lord Benedict smiled, ‘Of course, he came right out and admitted his mistake. He explained it was because of his restraints, so I removed the obstacle in his life. If he makes another mistake now he has no excuse and I will punish him as I punish all my other slaves.’

‘Not like you to calculate?’ replied Henry.

Lord Benedict answered, ‘I know but this kid is interesting. Where did you find him again?’

‘Just bought him from a slavers house on my travels.’ Henry explained, ‘I don’t remember the name.’

‘He doesn’t flinch, he doesn’t show fear and he’s good at his job.’ replied Lord Benedict.

Henry thought, ‘You don’t know the half of it!’ he replied, ‘Can’t you just be happy that you have a good slave? They are hard to come by you know!’

Sam got back to the kitchen and saw the slave still cleaning up and knelt down to help. The other slave asked, ‘What happened? Why aren’t you……?’

‘Why aren’t I…...what?’ asked Sam.

‘Beaten and bloody. The Master has never let someone off the hook before.’ answered the other slave.

‘My name is Sam. What’s your name?’ Sam asked.

‘Number 4 1 9.’ he replied.

Sam smiled and helped him clean up, ‘Number 4 1 9 huh? Strange name.’

‘It’s my slave number. You never got one?’ asked Number 4 1 9.

‘If I did.’ Sam replied, ‘No one told me what it was. Lord Henry gave me the name Sam after he bought me and then he gave me to his father.’

Number 4 1 9 grabbed his hand, ‘Be careful around Master, he can really be scary.’

Sam noticed scars all over him as he trembled, ‘Thank you for the warning.’ he wanted to tell him everything about how he was going to kill Lord Benedict but thought it’d hinder his plans to have someone know, ‘So, the man that dragged me off. What’s his name?’

‘Number 1, he’s in charge of discipline around here. He’s really strict.’ he explained, ‘I try to stay out of his way as much as possible.’

Sam smiled, ‘Don’t blame you.’ he reached into his pocket and pulled out a wrapped sweet Henry gave him before, ‘Eat this. It’s good.’

Number 1 4 9 was shocked but ate it, ‘Thank you.’ he tasted it, ‘It’s good.’ Sam smiled and returned to washing up.

That night at dinner, Lord Benedict looked at how Henry and Sam got along and grew annoyed, ‘Son, I would like to bond with my new slave but I fear with you staying here we can’t do that. Tomorrow, would you mind leaving for a few days so we can bond.’

Sam’s heart sank but he masked it perfectly. Henry was the only one to notice his unease, ‘I’m sure you can bond even with me here.’

Lord Benedict smiled, ‘All the same.’

Henry’s eyes darted, glancing at Sam before turning back to his father, ‘Sure.’ Sam’s entire body grew cold but didn’t let it show.

The next day, Lord Benedict and Sam showed Henry to the door, ‘He’ll be fine with me.’

Henry turned, ‘I’ll come back in a week.’

Sam bowed, ‘Thank you for everything Master Henry.’

Henry ruffled his hair, ‘I’ll see you in a few days! Be a good boy while I’m away.’ he left, Master Benedict placed his hand on Sam’s shoulder.

‘Now then, Number 5 0 0.’ he said, Sam looked at him, ‘Go and see Number 1 he’ll give your chore list for the day.’

Sam bowed his head, ‘Of course Master.’

And so a week of brutal beatings and tough labour came and went signalling Henry’s return, he entered to see Sam bloody and bruised under his fathers foot, ‘YOU IDIOT!’

‘Father?!’ Henry went over, he resisted his natural urge to help Sam, ‘What is going on here?’

‘I am punishing my slave for his mistake.’ Master Benedict explained taking his foot off Sam’s head, kicking him slightly as he does so, ‘Get up!’

Sam pulled himself to his knees, staring at the floor he replied, ‘Ple…ase…for…give…me…Mas…ter.’

Master Benedict sighed, ‘Fine.’ he stepped back, ‘Get back to work!’ Sam limped away. Lord Benedict hugged Henry, ‘Welcome back son!’

Henry masked his disgust, ‘Yes I’m back father. How has the slave I bought for you been?’

‘He’s good the mistakes he makes are minimal but inexcusable.’ replied Master Benedict, ‘I will have some lunch prepared.’ he ordered a servant to get food.

They sat, Master Benedict asked Henry for his advise on his books, as he had a mind for the accounts.

As they talked Sam and several others brought in food. Shaking Sam missed the glass causing a single spot to fall on the table cloth, Master Benedict sighed closing his eyes, ‘Will you ever learn?’

‘I’m sorry Master. I’ll clean it right away.’ answered Sam.

Master Benedict stood up, ‘Number 5 0 0. Kneel.’ Sam knelt down placing his hands on his thighs, Master Benedict held his hand out, ‘Hand.’ he ordered.

Sam started breathing erratically, ‘Please forgive me Master.’

‘Hand.’ he repeated. Sam shakily offered him his hand, Master Benedict grabbed it and broke three fingers, ignoring his cries of pain. Henry couldn’t bare to watch. He let go of his hand and rested his hand on Sam’s head, ‘You are forgiven.’ Sam didn’t move or say anything, ‘What do you say?’

‘Thank you Master.’ he replied.

‘Go to the doctor to get your hand set.’ he ordered.

‘Thank you Master.’ Sam repeated leaving.

Master Benedict sat back down, ‘Sorry about that.’

Henry composed himself, ‘Quite alright.’ he stomached spending the rest of the meal with him, resisting his urge to strike him dead on the spot himself. He thought, ‘Poor Sam! Please be ok. Please let all of this be an act! Sam, I can’t bare to see you this way.’

That night before dinner, Sam was grabbed and pulled up to a darkened corner, with his good hand twisted behind his back and mouth covered there was little he could do to fight back.

‘Sam. Stop struggling, it’s me.’ said Henry. Sam relaxed as he let him go.

Sam whispered, ‘What the hell were you thinking? I could have attacked you!’

Henry smiled chuckling slightly, ‘I’d like to see that!’ Sam shook his head smiling, ‘I’m glad it really was all just an act. I was worried my father really broke your spirit.’

Sam looked at his hand, ‘No, only bones.’

‘Tonight. Kill him tonight. The paperwork is complete, I stand to inherit everything my father has. But don’t make it look suspicious!’ explained Henry.

‘As long as you can act your part I can act mine.’ Sam whispered.

‘What do you mean?’ Henry asked. Sam walked away, ‘What do you mean?’

That night at dinner, Sam went to serve drinks when Number 1 knocked him out the way and took the jug off of him.

He stared coldly at Sam, ‘I will attend to the Master myself.’ he walked off and poured him his drink.

Number 1 poured Henry one to but Sam kicked the leg of his chair as he walked past, ‘I’m so sorry please forgive me Master Henry.’

‘Don’t worry. No harm done.’ he smiled, he saw Sam’s face and looked at the wine, he turned back to Sam who secretly winked at him, ‘Carry on.’

Sam bowed his head and walked on, ‘Thank you Master Henry.’

Master Benedict drank and shortly after started choking, Sam turned, ‘Master?’ he ran over as Master Benedict fell to the floor, ‘Are you ok Master?’

‘Father!? What’s wrong?’ asked Henry realising what Sam meant earlier.

Master Benedict’s choking intensified. Sam tried to resuscitate him acting out his part beautifully, Henry too. The grieving son and heroic slave who tried to save his Masters life.

Sam forced tears into his eyes, ‘Master?!’ he looked at the glass and sniffed it, catching the scent of poison, ‘Poison?!’ he exclaimed passing it to Henry, ‘What do you think Master Henry?’

Henry took it off him and smelled it, ‘You’re right! Guards arrest Number 1 for the murder of my father!’ they grabbed him.

‘Master Henry I’m innocent! I didn’t do anything! I swear!’ Number 1 exclaimed.

‘Take him away.’ ordered Henry playing his role perfectly. He knelt down to his fathers body and just like Sam, Henry forced tears into his eyes, ‘Father!?’

Sam sniffled, ‘Mas...ter…Henry….what are we going to do now…?’

‘I don’t know.’ he replied as his father’s body was taken away.

The executer of his estate came over, ‘I’m sorry to interrupt you at such a distressing time. However, I have some news to give you that you may find interesting.’

Henry stood up, ‘What is it?’

‘Your father left everything to you.’ he explained.

Henry masked his glee with shock, ‘What?!’

‘Your father left you everything, his house, his slaves, his business, everything.’ he explained, ‘Your father was so happy that you came back that he wrote you back in his will as his sole heir last week.’

‘He left me everything?!’ Henry stifled his chuckle with tears, ‘Can I be alone for a minute?’

‘Of course.’ everyone went to leave.

‘Not you Number 5 0 0.’ answered Henry, ‘You stay here.’

Sam stopped and turned to face him, ‘Yes Master Henry.’ everyone left and Henry hugged him.

‘Are you ok?’ asked Henry, Sam nodded, ‘I was so worried about you.’ he knelt down and looked at the bruising on his face, ‘I am so sorry I left you here alone. I promised I wouldn’t and then I did.’ he brushed some hair out his face, ‘Can you ever forgive me?’

Sam smiled, ‘I told you, I’m fine. I could do with going to bed if I’m honest. I haven’t slept properly since you left.’

Henry smiled and hugged him, ‘Such a good boy.’ Sam failed to release himself.

‘Hey! I’m not a dog you moron!’ yelled Sam. He put pressure on his broken hand and winced in pain.

Henry held his wrist, ‘I’m sorry he did that to you. How many times did he do that to you?’ he asked looking at his other hand too.

‘A couple of times. He broke them than the doctor fixed it and then he broke them again.’ Sam explained, ‘How’s Stuart?’

‘He’s been asking after you daily. Sometimes twice daily!’ he smiled, ‘His teachers gave him a perfect score they say if he continues on like this he could be anything he wants when he’s older.’

Sam smiled, ‘That’s great.’ although he was happy to hear it there was a certain sadness in his eyes.

Henry continued, ‘He said that he didn’t want to waste the opportunity you gave him.’ Sam looked at him, ‘He really looks up to you.’

‘Bless him.’ answered Sam, ‘Are we going home now?’

‘Sadly not. We have to stay here for a few days more.’ explained Henry, ‘I have to play the role perfectly or else I risk losing it all.’ he saw Sam shrink into himself, ‘I can bring the others here if you want.’

Sam punched him to the floor, ‘Don’t you dare!’

Henry held his cheek and looked at Sam shocked, ‘Did you just punch me?’

Sam grabbed his shirt, ‘You leave them out if this! That was the deal!’

‘Sam?’ he grabbed his wrist and pulled it off his shirt, ‘It’s not like that!’ he stood up, ‘I didn’t mean it like that, but…. if you really don’t want them here. I won’t bring them.’ he ruffled his hair, ‘I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to upset you.’

Sam sighed looking away, ‘I’m sorry I punched you. I’m just protective of them, when you said you’d bring them here.’ he choked on his words, ‘There are still people here who’d beat slaves for messing up. I don’t want them to ever experience that again.’

‘Ok.’ replied Henry, ‘Tell me which ones.’ Sam looked at him, ‘Tell me who they are and I’ll make them stop that right now. If nothing else I want the slaves here to be safe.’

Sam smiled, ‘If you call every slave here they’ll tell you themselves. They’ll tell you because it’s the job the other Master Benedict set for them.’

Henry replied, ‘Never say that word ever again. Never call anyone Master ever again!’ Henry hugged him, ‘Especially not me.’

‘Don’t worry about that one.’ Sam joked, ‘On a serious note, they’re called enforcers. Ask for them to step aside and they will.’

‘Ok.’ he walked out with Sam, ‘I would like to address all of the slaves to inform them of the change in management. Can you arrange that?’

The guard bowed, ‘Of course Master Benedict.’

Henry grabbed his arm, ‘I’m not your Master.’

‘How would you like to be addressed?’ he asked.

‘Just call me Henry, if it’s too informal for you, Mr Henry or Sir will be fine.’ Henry explained.

He bowed, ‘I’ll attend to your request Sir.’ he left.

Henry ruffled Sam’s hair, ‘Don’t worry I’ll fix everything.’

Shortly after every single slave was in one room, Sam walked in and filtered into the crowd. Henry entered and everyone bowed to one knee as they were ordered to by their previous Master.

Henry stood in front of them, ‘Thank you all for coming, please stand.’ he continued, ‘Could all the enforcers please step to one side.’ they did, ‘You are all dismissed. The job my father gave you no longer exists. Instead, your job is to help with daily chores. If I hear that anyone of you has laid a finger on another slave you will be cast out.’

Henry smiled, ‘Now, if anyone here wants to leave feel free to do so. As of this moment, none of you are slaves, those of you who choose to stay I will pay you a fair wage. If you want to leave but have no where to go I will give you some money to start your journey, those who have family to return to, I will give you funds to get back to them.’

The door to the outside was opened, ‘Anyone wishing to leave may do so now.’ no one moved, ‘This is not a loyalty test. I am willing to set those who want it, free.’

One slave spoke, ‘None of us have a family to go back to. Master Benedict saw to that, he flaunted that fact to us. He made it clear that even if we escaped from him, we’d have no where to run to.’

Henry replied, ‘Alright then. You are all hear by placed under suitable employ in this house, meaning you will be paid a wage for the work you do and beatings are a thing of the past. If at any point you want to leave, all you have to do is ask.’ he turned to the enforcers, ‘No one is going to hurt anyone anymore, if there is a problem, bring it to my attention and I shall deal with it understand?!’

They all nodded and bowed. He left the room and chatter filled the room, ‘Was he serious!?’ ‘I don’t trust him.’ ‘It’s not like we have anywhere to go?’ ‘We’re trapped here regardless of whose in charge.’

Sam stood where Henry was, ‘Listen up. We have a chance here. Remember he said we can leave whenever we want to. Why don’t we give this guy a chance?’

The muttering continued so Sam confessed, ‘Mr Henry is the one who bought me from slavers and then brought me here. During our travels together he was kind and decent. He may have bought me but, he has never claimed to own me! Give him a chance and if it doesn’t work out, leave! He won’t stop you!’

‘He is his father’s son!’ one yelled, ‘What if he turns his back on his own words and becomes worse than his father!’ they all rallied behind him, ‘This house is the only place most of us can live and it’s not much of a life!’

‘I know you have been here for so long that you only want to survive, if that’s your goal let Henry help you, because he will. I’ve seen it!’ Sam explained, ‘We don’t have to be afraid anymore.’

‘Maybe you don’t! You’ve only been a slave for a week!’ another yelled.

Sam sighed, ‘I have been a slave my whole life! My father sold me when I was very young. I have had several Masters. I have known beatings and what it feels like to be nothing! But that’s not him! That’s them!’

Number 4 1 9 stepped out the crowd, ‘Do you trust him?’

‘Yes.’ replied Sam.

‘That’s good enough for me.’ he smiled. Several more joined until a domino effect took over as they all agreed to give Henry a chance. Everyone left the room, Sam headed off to see Henry and found him in the library.

Sam sighed and sat down, ‘You’d think you were torturing them!’

‘They not as accepting as you thought huh?’ asked Henry.

‘No! Why don’t they understand you are not going to hurt them and are actually trying to help!?’ Sam asked. Henry started laughing, ‘What’s so funny?!’

‘You really don’t see the resemblance?!’ Henry asked, Sam drew a blank, ‘They are just like you were, when we first met do you remember what you said to me?’ ‘I will not be sold to you! I refuse!’ ‘No matter what you do to me, I won’t do as you say.’ ‘This is the same situation as back then.’

‘What do you mean?’ Sam asked.

‘They just have to get used to the idea.’ replied Henry, ‘Just like you did, when they see the benefits of living like this, they’ll accept it. Just like you did.’

Sam blushed and turned away, ‘I haven’t accepted anything!’

‘Let go of that stubborn pride you’re not fooling anyone.’ replied Henry.

Sam tutted, ‘Tsk! Whatever you want.’ Henry smiled and continued with his paperwork while Sam thought, ‘Damn it! He’s right! I let him trap me and pull me along this far! I’ve killed five people for him and I didn’t bat an eyelid! I can’t let myself be swept along any further!’

Sam looked at Henry, ‘So what now? I’ve killed everyone on your list, almost everyone you took from the slavers house is safe. I have to say it’s starting to feel like I’m not needed anymore!’

‘No. You aren’t allowed to leave my side.’ stated Henry, ‘Don’t make me remind you of the deal.’

Sam sighed, ‘You have no further use for me, why not let me go?!’

‘Because!’ Henry yelled standing up, he calmed himself and sat down returning to his paperwork, ‘Stop asking me unnecessary questions or else I’ll chain you up again. Just so you know every door and window in this house is lockable.’

Sam went cold, ‘Fine.’ he stood up, ‘I’ll go look around then.’ Henry didn’t respond so he left quickly worried about what would happen if he stayed in that room for much longer.

Walking round the house he thought, ‘Whenever I think we could actually be friends he corrects me. He changes so suddenly that his mood swings are starting to give me whiplash!’

Number 2 4 7 ran up to him, ‘Number 5 0 0!’ Sam turned round, ‘Where’s Mr Henry?’

‘In the library. Why?’ asked Sam.

‘Slaves are fighting one another, the enforcers can’t control it.’ he explained running to the library.

Sam ran to the hall and saw them all fighting, he yelled, ‘STOP IT! ALL OF YOU!’ they all froze, ‘WE ARE NOT ANIMALS!’

Number 2 4 7 and Henry entered, ‘What is going on in here?’ they all bowed at Henry, ‘I told you if you want to leave you can!’

Sam went up to him, ‘I can handle this!’

Henry never even looked at him, ‘Go to your room.’ he walked past him, ‘ALL OF YOU!’ no one moved, ‘Now!’ everyone left returning to the servant quarters, but Sam stayed behind, ‘You too!’

‘Are you serious!? I stopped the fighting! I wasn’t even involved in the first place!’ Sam explained.

Henry closed his eyes, ‘Just do as you’re told.’

‘Whatever you want.’ Sam replied walking out. He got back to the servants quarters and asked, ‘Why the hell where you all fighting anyway?’

‘One of the enforcers punched one of the kids and it just escalated from there. Looking back and thinking on it, it was really quite pathetic!’ he explained.

The doctor came in, ‘Who is wounded in here?’

Sam sat on his bunk resting his head on his hands, crossing his legs he stared at the ceiling thinking to himself, ‘This is just great! Sent to my room like I’m some misbehaving four year old!’ he remembered the look on Henry’s face and rolled onto his side, ‘I’ve never seen him so mad at me before! I’m kinda scared too go to sleep!’

An enforcer knocked on the door, ‘Number 5 0 0! You’ve been summoned.’ Sam stood up and followed him, growing more and more nervous as he got close to the office.

The enforcer knocked on the door, ‘I have brought you Number 5 0 0 as you requested.’

Through the door Henry said, ‘Thank you. Show him in and then leave.’

The enforcer opened the door and pushed Sam in, he shut the door behind him. Sam flinched hearing Henry speak again, ‘Are you ok?’

Sam nodded, ‘Yeah, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have questioned you in front of them, you have enough problems without me challenging your authority with them.’

‘You always get to the point but never consider the reasoning.’ said Henry, ‘You said: ‘Whatever you want.’ you only say that to me when you’re scared, frustrated or angry. I’m sorry I yelled at you, I have investigated the incident through ally and as you told me you weren’t even involved.’

Sam huffed, ‘So, you dragged me all the way up here to apologise?! I was sleeping you know.’ he lied.

Henry chuckled, ‘You’re a fantastic actor but you’re a terrible liar.’ Sam blushed and turned away, ‘I know you haven’t slept since I left. Your eyes say a lot more than you think they do. You look exhausted.’

‘I’m fine. I can handle it.’ replied Sam folding his arms.

Henry smiled closing his eyes, ‘I never said you couldn’t.’ he looked at him, ‘Get some rest. There’s a sofa over there, you sleep better when you’re near me.’

Sam sighed, ‘I can’t argue with that!’ he sat down and Henry came over sitting next to him.

He patted on his leg, ‘Come on.’ Sam lay down and rested his head on Henry’s leg.

‘Henry?’ asked Sam, ‘You’re not mad at me are you?’

‘Of course not!’ Henry replied, ‘Whatever gave you that….?’ he looked down to see him fast asleep and smiled, ‘Sleep well.’ he stroked his head, ‘Tomorrow will be tough.’ he leaned back and thought, ‘I thought I’d be happy. I avenged my wife and child, destroyed a large portion of the slave trade and got my inheritance back.’

Sam snuggled closer in his sleep re focusing Henry’s attention, ‘I never wanted to use him like I did, but I couldn’t stop myself!’ he sighed, ‘I’m the worst!’

In the morning, Henry woke up alone, ‘Sam!?’ he stood up and went to walk out bumping into Sam, he sighed, ‘Don’t do that!’

Sam smiled, ‘I got you breakfast.’ he laid out the table, ‘Everyone is cleaning the house top to bottom, it’s your fathers funeral tomorrow, they wanted to deep clean the house as a mark of respect.’ he served him breakfast, ‘I’m going to help them once you’ve eaten.’ he sat Henry down.

‘Are you alright?’ asked Henry, ‘You seem…… I don’t know… It’s like you’re avoiding staying still.’

Sam replied, ‘Just playing my part.’

Henry smiled, ‘I’ve never really thanked you for all you’ve done for me have I?’

‘It’s not like I’m doing it for free.’ Sam explained, ‘I obey you and in turn you look after the now freed slaves. Not to mention a bed and food.’

‘Do you like me?’ asked Henry. Sam looked at him, ‘What I mean is. Are we friends?’

Sam replied, ‘I don’t know, are we?’

Henry asked, ‘What am I to you?’

Sam thought for moment, ‘I don’t know, you’re definitely my superior but as you’ve said many times, you are not my master. You are definitely kind to me but I don’t quite see you as a friend. I guess we’re close colleagues of a sort.’

‘Close colleagues?!’ Henry replied, ‘Guess I have to try harder to qualify as your friend, huh?’ Sam smiled, chuckling slightly.

‘You could always order me.’ he stated.

Henry smiled, ‘Yeah well……some things should happen because you want them to, not because you’ve been told to.’ he started eating, ‘Oh! Wow! You never told me you can cook!’

Sam sighed, ‘Yet another talent of mine is overlooked.’

‘Seriously though. Thank you.’ Henry said smiling.

Sam blushed, folded his arms and turned away, ‘Don’t start getting all emotional!’

Henry huffed, ‘Look who’s talking. Blushing like a school girl.’ he mocked, ‘Besides, I need your help.’

Sam turned round to face him, ‘What now?!’

‘I need you to get them on board. I need you to talk the other slaves into trusting me.’ replied Henry, ‘Without their trust I can’t seize the control I need over my father’s company. The investors will look at how well I run my own household and reflex that into how they think I will run the company.’

‘So what? You need a show of strength? Authority? What?’ asked Sam.

‘No. Nothing like that.’ replied Henry, ‘Just talk to them for me.’

Sam answered, ‘Talk to them?! That’s it!’ Henry nodded, ‘Let’s hope grammar doesn’t let me down.’ he left, taking the plates to the kitchen.

An enforcer stopped him at the door, ‘The floor is being cleaned, you can’t go in.’

Sam looked in to see them scrubbing the floor, ‘Can you pass this down to the sink? I’ll wash them when the floor is dry.’ Number 1 9 2 nodded and took them off him and passed it down the line, ‘Thank you.’ he was about to leave when he turned back, ‘What do you lot think of Mr Henry?’

They all stopped and stared at him, ‘It’s just, I think we should give him the benefit of the doubt before we condemn him as a bad guy.’

Number 8 8 replied, ‘I personally choose to reserve judgement until we see how he does things. His father may have beat us but he hasn’t. Not yet anyway.’

Number 4 2 answered, ‘I like him. He’s got a kind face. Besides Number 5 0 0 said he trusts him and he served him on the travel to this house, so I like him.’

Number 4 1 9 said, ‘I don’t trust any noblemen. They’ll all the same, too lazy and arrogant to do their own dirty work they get slaves and force them to do it!’

Number 5 9 exclaimed, ‘You moron! He gave us a chance to run and be free! Remember! He said he’d pay our expenses if we left but we all chose to stay!’

Number 9 9 argued, ‘Yeah he said that knowing we’d have no where to go!’

Sam interrupted, ‘But with money you can go anywhere, be free to find a paying job elsewhere and live on your own accord.’

Number 4 2 smiled, ‘That’s true. I think you’re letting your old hurt feelings cloud your judgement.’

Number 9 9 sighed, ‘Let’s just get on with our work!’

Sam left and helped the others that were cleaning the windows, ‘So, what do you think of Mr Henry?’

Number 3 5 smiled, ‘I actually kind of trust him.’

Number 3 4 5 answered, ‘Me too.’

Number 2 4 7 replied, ‘I like him. He’s tough but fair. And he’s not hit any of us yet.’ he looked at Sam smiling, ‘And I see how he is with you.’

Sam asked, ‘What are you talking about?’

Number 2 4 7 chuckled, ‘Did you really think no one would notice? He was concerned that you weren’t sleeping so he called you away and helped you sleep the other night.’

Sam blushed, ‘Yeah. He’s nice like that. Travelling up here with him, I was sad to learn he intended to give me away to his father. I thought of asking him to keep me but I knew he would and that his plans to reconcile would be ruined. I didn’t want that.’

Number 2 8 6 answered, ‘You seem to have developed a relationship with him.’

Sam replied, ‘It wasn’t difficult.’ he looked at him, ‘The person in charge doesn’t always have to be the bad guy.’

Number 2 8 6 smiled, ‘I guess not. My previous Master before Master Benedict. He was like Mr Henry he wanted only to protect me.’

Sam asked, ‘What happened?’ Number 4 8 6 looked at him, ‘I’m sure of you could, you’d want to go back to him, you know Mr Henry will let you.’

‘He died.’ explained Number 4 8 6, ‘He died protecting me. Slavers came to his public house and ordered him to sell me to them. He refused and when they tried to take me by force a fight broke out, he fell on a blade. The slavers took me and sold me on. And here I am. I know what it’s like to have a good one.’

Sam smiled, ‘I’m sorry. I’m sorry that happened to you.’

‘It’s alright.’ he smiled, ‘For two years I had a friend in my Master. He even gave me a name.’

‘What was it?’ asked Sam.

‘Edwin.’ he smiled, ‘But here I’m just: Slave Number 4 8 6.’

Sam smiled, ‘Well Edwin. Mr Henry gave me a name too. I’m Sam.’ he continued, ‘We are not Numbers on a sheet. Tell Mr Henry you’re name. And he we call you nothing else.’

An enforcer came out, ‘Mr Henry has requested everyone’s presence immediately.’ they followed him to the hall and saw him at the front.

‘Welcome, thank you for coming.’ Henry smiled, ‘I’d just like to say thank you for cleaning the house with such detail I truly appreciate it. To show you this, you can all have tomorrow off. The cleaners, the gardeners, the stable hands, the cooks and the laundry maids all of you.’

The crowd muttered, ‘If you want to go for ride, tack up a horse and go. If you want to eat I will be providing your meals. I will serve breakfast between the hours of nine and eleven, if you want to lie in.’

Number 3 7 8 asked, ‘Are you serious?’

Henry smiled, ‘Completely. Also…’ boxes of uniforms were brought in, ‘Please find your size and change your clothes the ones you’re currently wearing are too worn out, please accept these new clothes. No strings attached.’

Everyone took them and left to get changed but Sam didn’t move and Henry went up to him, ‘What’s the matter?’

‘Henry I want to go home. I want to see Stuart and the others.’ replied Sam.

Henry thought, ‘Home? Did he just call my house home?’ he smiled, ‘You’re adorable.’ he ruffled his hair, ‘Sorry but it’ll have to be a little later, I can’t leave right now.’

‘Can I? Alone?’ asked Sam. Henry gave no reply, ‘I’ll be on my best behaviour I swear. I just want to see for myself that Stuart is ok now, I’ll come right back. Please, just a day.’ he started shaking.

Henry placed his hand on his back and pulled him in, ‘You can’t just take my word for it can you?’ he felt Sam’s whole body tense, ‘Ok.’ he pushed him off and knelt down, ‘If you leave now, you’ll get there tonight, you can have dinner with them and come back after lunch the following day.’

Sam’s eyes lit up, ‘Really?’ Henry nodded and Sam hugged him, ‘Thank you.’

Henry smiled and hugged him, ‘Get changed and I’ll arrange everything.’ Sam happily ran off, he came back to see Peter waiting for him, ‘Remember, you’re coming back after lunchtime tomorrow they’ll be studying by then.’

‘Thank you.’ said Sam. He was taken back to Henry’s house and went inside, he saw the kids studying maths. He smiled and watched from the door as Stuart put his hand up to answer every question. He thought, ‘He’s smart!’

After class Stuart saw Sam, his face lit up, ‘You’re back!?’ he ran up to him and hugged him, ‘I missed you!’

Sam smiled and hugged him back, ‘I missed you too.’ he looked at him, ‘Look at you clever clogs! I saw you in there!’

Stuart blushed, ‘I refuse to waste the opportunity you made for me.’

Sam replied, ‘You owe me nothing. You never asked for this I made this decision on my own.’

‘I know.’ answered Stuart, ‘But I’m not wasting it all the same. You may have done this for us out of the kindness of your heart, but I’m not wasting it.’

‘What do you want to do with your life?’ asked Sam.

Stuart thought for a moment, ‘I want to be like you.’ Sam blushed, ‘You’re smart, brave and fun.’

Sam smiled, ‘Let’s play a game then. You pick.’ Stuart ran off happily as Sam thought, ‘He wants to be like me huh? No, he wants to be the sides of me that he sees. If he knew the whole truth, I don’t think he’d want to be like me.’

They talked and played all day and in the morning Peter came up to them, ‘Remember your promise.’

‘Promise?’ asked Stuart.

‘Mr Henry needs me back at his fathers house as soon as possible he only let me come back here briefly because I was worried about you.’ explained Sam, ‘His father died recently and he needs me to help arrange the funeral.’ he lied.

‘But……’ he fought back his tears, ‘You just got here.’ sniffle Stuart.

‘I know.’ replied Sam, ‘But, I made Mr Henry a promise. That’s the kind of person that I am, I do not break my promises.’

Stuart smiled and looked at Peter, ‘How long?’

‘Until lunchtime.’ Peter replied.

Stuart hugged Sam, ‘Will you ever come back?’

Sam smiled hugging him back, ‘Sure thing.’ he lied, he had no idea when or even if he was going to be coming back. Stuart took Sam to class and he sat in the back completely lost, unable to follow a single thing.

The teacher asked, ‘It seems our oldest student is also the quietest.’

‘Sorry but I believe you learn better when you observe and listen.’ replied Sam, ‘If you have nothing to offer to the conversation, you have nothing to say.’

The teacher backed away, ‘Ok then.’ he continued the lesson.

After class, Stuart smiled and asked, ‘What’d you think of class?’

Sam replied, ‘I think I have a lot of studying and catching up to do. Unfortunately, it’s not happening on this visit.’ he saw Peter and smiled kneeling down to Stuart, ‘Sorry but I have to go now.’

Stuart moaned, ‘But, you’ll miss the next class.’

Sam chuckled, ‘I’m sure I’ll be fine. You can help me catch up when I get back.’

Peter said, ‘Sam, I’m sorry but we really have to go!’ Sam nodded and stood up. Stuart grabbed Sam’s leg.

‘What’s the matter?’ asked Sam.

Stuart passed him his book, ‘This is my spare math book, try solve a few of them. Ask Mr Henry to teach you, I’m sure he will.’

Sam smiled, ‘When I come back I promise, every question in this book will be completed.’ he went out with Peter, while travelling he looked through the math book, ‘I don’t get any of this!’

Peter smiled, ‘Henry will teach you he’s good at maths.’

‘I know what numbers are, I just don’t know what all these symbols mean?’ asked Sam, ‘Trying to learn in that classroom! I really haven’t had enough education.’

They got back and Henry saw Sam concentrating so much on the book he looked at Peter, ‘Why is he reading a math book?’

‘He promised Stuart that by the time he got back every question would be answered.’ Peter explained.

Sam sat down resting his head on his hand, ‘Does he even know how to do maths?’

‘No.’ replied Peter.

Henry sat next to him and pointed to each sign and explained what they meant and what you had to do solve the equation. He explained the difference between odd and even numbers, what a prime numbers was and had him reciting the times tables.

Sam sat back, ‘And you’re teaching the kids this stuff!?’ he exclaimed, ‘I hope it makes more sense to them than it does to me!’

Henry ruffled his hair, ‘You’re better than you think you are.’

Sam knocked his hand away, ‘I’m not a dog!’

‘How would you feel about……’ he stopped himself.

‘Feel about?’ asked Sam.

‘I’ve been thinking.’ said Henry, ‘If you’re agreeable. I would like to officially adopt you.’

Sam blushed and eyes widened, ‘Adopt me?’ he was stunned, ‘You want to become……my dad?’

Henry nodded, ‘It’s your decision.’ he continued, ‘I want you to know, I’m not trying to replace the son I lost with you nor am I trying to trick you into staying with me. I’ve really gotten attached to you, I would be honoured to be your father.’

‘That’s why you got so mad when I suggested I leave.’ replied Sam.

‘I never needed you to talk the servants round, the servants and legal partners have already instated me as soul proprietor of my father’s business and estate, it was just an excuse to keep you close until I found the right way to ask you. You don’t have to decide right now or in fact at all, but I can promise you that no matter what you decide I will never sell you. I will never let you be bought or used ever again.’ explained Henry, ‘I want to be able to call you son.’ Sam hid his eyes with his hair, ‘What’s wrong?’

Sam hugged him, ‘Shut up Dad!’ Henry hugged him back.

‘Dad?’ asked Henry.

Sam smiled, ‘You can’t get rid of me now.’

Henry chuckled, ‘I wouldn’t dare try.’

‘Are we going to go home?’ asked Sam. Henry smiled and nodded.

‘Soon.’ Henry explained, ‘I have dismantled my father’s network and you took out the main players supporting the trade. My people will take care of the rest, ensuring every slave is placed in suitable employ.’ he hugged Sam, ‘You are finally truly free.’

Sam buried his head into Henry’s shirt, delighted he had finally got what he wanted. Henry chuckled and looked at the math book, ‘Besides you can’t go back to Stuart without completing that book like you promised.’

Sam smiled and dried his eyes, ‘Yeah. I don’t break my promises.’

Henry and Sam spend the remainder of their days together and eventually went back to Henry’s home using his father’s house as a hotel and the ex-slaves as the staff.

Unfortunately, Stuart was always a little better at maths than Sam.

THE END


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