Of Slaves and Their Masters

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
In the third part of 'The Earth and Blade Saga' the Lauräs, Kaunis, left on work to kill a baron in the kingdom of Néathron, many leauges west of The Emerald City. What she could not be prepared for is how harshly this baron treats any one that is not human. And when she is captured, what hope is there that she will ever be free lies in the young Elf who only knows himself as "Seventy Five".

Submitted: April 25, 2015

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Submitted: April 25, 2015

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Lines of trees lay upon either side of the cobbled road.  The hooves of the horse clopped away drowned out only be the jittering cart.  The road had seemed to be the same for many leagues, and yet, without warning, the trees stopped.

'Well,' said the driver. 'We've just passed into the kingdom of Néarthon.'  

He was sat beside a woman cloaked all in black, her dark hair veiled her sight from the world.

'Thank you,' she responded. 'I should only need a few more leagues and then I can walk.'

'I don't understand ma'am.  There's but next to nought out there.  Such a purty lady as yourself should have no business out there.'

'You best keep thoughts like that to yourself, a friend of mine would slit your throat for thinking like that.  And you need not worry for me, I know how to look after myself.'

She started at a dagger that lay beneath her cloak.  The driver saw the blade.

'Some fine steel you've got yourself there if I do say so myself.'

The blade curved and came to a point.  Elvish runes were carved along it, they spoke a spell of swift death.  The metal was dulled and did not shine any light.

'Whatever it is you're up to,' he continued. 'I don't want no part in it.  When you leave my carriage, you'd better forget my face and I'll forget yours.'

'A fair deal,' she said. 'And I shall leave at the brow of this next hill.'

 

The cart climbed until the hill stopped sloping where the travellers stopped.  The woman stepped off the cart.  She did not stand tall so the driver had to step off as well.

'Well lass,' he said. 'I suppose this is where we part our ways.'

'Yes it is.  Thank you for your help.'. She gave to him a small bag of coins.

'Thank you, lass.  I bid you, farewell.'

'And to you.  May your road be safe and your ventures prosperous.'

The driver sat, again, on his cart and the horse began to walk down the other side of the hill.  She waited until the cart was out of sight and passed into the bushes on either side.  She put down her hood to see further.  Beneath it was Kaunis.  She moved north from the road into the bushes.  When she came to the base of the hill a castle could be seen about half a league ahead of her.  

She stuck to the overgrowth as she approached.  The bushes ended at a road.  Kaunis hid as a cart came along the dirt track.  It was made of wood and was carried by two horses.  In the cart was an iron cage that housed a Wood-Elf and two Dwarves.  Hope had left their eyes and strength left their bones.  The horses, blind to the pain of their passengers, came to a stop at a portcullis in the castle wall.  The driver of the cart gave out a shout and the gate opened.  After the cart passed the threshold it stopped and was inspected and the portcullis lowered.  Kaunis moved through the bushes round the castle.  She came to the north wall and found a canal flowing into an iron grate.  The canal flowed from a river a few miles north into the castle.  Kaunis stepped into the canal and came to the grate.  Beyond it lay a tunnel lined with bricks in an arch above the water flow.  She took out two small metal sticks as the water rushed around a little above her ankles.  She took the lock on the grate and began to twist her metal picks in it.  After a moment it came open.  The grate opened slowly on its rusted hinges and Kaunis creeped through.  

 

The tunnel opened above her to the courtyard.  She could hear the muffled conversations of guards above her.  The tunnel continued before her and came to another well.  This one was much shorter and she could hear no one above her.  She began to climb to the opening.  When she was free of the stone cylinder she found herself in a dorm room.  Beds lined the walls, each with a chest of belongings and some with a few weapons and armour on them.  Without warning the wooden door at the other end of the room opened and three guards came into the room.

‘An intruder!’ one shouted

‘Get ‘er!’ another cried

Kaunis had only enough time to draw her short blade before three steel swords were pointed at her neck.  In submission, she dropped her blade and raised her hands.

‘A non-human!  The boss’ll be pleased with this.’ The first said

‘Yeah, maybe he’ll let us ‘ave a little fun with her too.’  The second chuckled

‘Doubt it,’ Said the third. ‘At least not until he’s had his fun.  Now, we’d better get her to him.’

The first two put their swords away and the third held his to Kaunis’ back pushing her forth.  They led her to two large wooden doors that opened onto a chamber.  Pillars stood along either side and at the far end sat a wooden throne.  A man, the baron Felron, sat on it.  He was tall and dressed in fine robes.  His hair was dark and his beard, short.  

‘What is this non-human doing here!?’ he demanded

‘M’lord,’ Said the first guard. ‘We found her creeping around the dorm rooms.’

The man got off his throne and walked over to her.  He looked into her eyes and pulled her up.  He turned her round looking her over.

‘We are a petty one, aren’t we?’  He asked her

She gave him no response.

‘Do we have a name?  Can we even speak?’  He asked again

‘I can speak,’ Kaunis replied. ‘And my name is no business of yours.’

‘No,’ he chuckled. ‘I suppose not.  Then I shall name you, for now you belong to me!’  He paced up to his throne in thought.  ‘Ah,’ He said turning round. ‘I shall call you Dúal.’

‘You would call me Dog?’

‘You are not human, you are no better than the beasts that I use to chase foxes.’  He returned to his throne. ‘Take her to the upper cell, take anything of worth and give her a canvas tunic.  I will see to her in the evening.’

The guards bowed and dragged Kaunis out of the chamber.

 

She was kept in a cell made of stone, a layer of straw lay on the floor.  She wore only a light brown tunic that felt like a sack.  A rope was tied about her waist.  Kaunis sat upon the cold floor an iron shackle around her leg and kept her to the wall.  The iron door swung open and Felron stepped through.  Kaunis stood up, the chain rattled about her ankle.  

‘You should be proud,’ Said the baron. ‘You’re the prettiest non-human I’ve ever seen.’

‘You speak only empty praise, your words mean nothing.’

‘You are wrong,’ He chuckled.  ‘They mean little, yes, but still they mean something.’

He stepped closer to her and reached out his hand placing it on her cheek.

‘You are my favourite, and so, I shall save you from the torment of the mines. Instead, you shall be my play thing, Dúal.’

She brushed his hand away and turned her back on him.  He grabbed her shoulder and pulled her round.

‘You are mine!’  He bellowed. ‘Do not forget that!’

He placed his hand once more on her face.  She looked into his eyes with a dead face, emotionless and still.  His hand began to move lower, the leather of his glove dragged on her skin.  It moved down her neck and over her tunic.  It came down further still over her breasts.  She backed away.  He grabbed at her string belt and dragged her towards him.  She wrestled against him throwing what punches she could.  He beat her face with the back of his hand casting her to the floor.  She looked at him again.

‘You are mine!’  He reminded her.  ‘I will break you and I will have my way.  I can guarantee that you will beg to have me inside of you before the end.’

He left like a beaten dog still clinging to its pride.

 

Night drew on and the stone floor became colder.  Kaunis dared not sleep that Felron might return and have his way while she slept.  The sun rose the next morning and taunted her with its bright rays.  A young Elf, little more than a few centuries old came into her cell.

‘M’lady.’ He said.  He carried a plate of fine food, meats and fresh bread, yet he bore clothes less fine than she did.

‘The lord baron sends his finest breakfast that you might retain your “loveliness”’

Kaunis saw that this was the shell of a broken soul.  She saw that he looked out of the window forgetting what sunlight was.

‘Thank you.’  She said taking the plate from him.  ‘What is your name?’

‘Seventy Five, m’lady’ He responded.

‘That is not a name.’ She told him

‘It is the only name I remember, m’lady.’

‘Then I shall give you a true name, unless you recall what your parents named you.’  She thought for a while.  ‘I shall know you as Lethon.’

‘Forgive me if I do not recall, m’lady, but is that not the Elvish for friend?’

‘It is, I believe that you may be the only one I shall have for some time.  And please, do dispense with this “m’lady”, my name is Kaunis.’

‘Of course, m’lady Kaunis.’ He tested

‘Oi!’ Called one of the guards.  ‘Get back down to the mine, you work, not talk!’

And so it was that Lethon bowed to Kaunis and left.

 

An hour passed and Lethon came to collect the plate.  He greeted Kaunis with the first smile he had given in over a year.  After he had taken the plate he returned with a broom.

‘The baron Felron has ordered your quarters be clean, and for your comfort to be of the utmost importance, m’lady.’ He told her brushing the straw into a pile

‘And why has the most gracious baron decreed such?’ she asked with a hint of mockery

‘You are his prized possession, his Dúal, as he calls you.’

‘Possession!?’ She cried.  ‘I belong to no man, let alone this self righteous bastard!’

‘But m’lady Kaunis,’  Lethon began as one indoctrinated as to faith.  ‘We all belong to the baron.  We are not human, we are just “things”.’

‘We are not “just things”!’ she reminded him grabbing his arms.  ‘We are alive, we think, we feel.  Do not forget that, Lethon.’

Lethon stepped back, he struggled to think against what he had been forced to believe for so long.  Kaunis followed him as he retreaded, her chain was taught about her ankle.  Looking into his eyes she saw a glimmer of hope, a way that she might free him from his mental chains.  He shrugged her off and continued to brush the straw that lay upon the stone floor.

‘Listen to me, Lethon.  You are not a tool to be used by some arrogant man, nor am I his simple “plaything”.  We are free, we can be and do what we want.  All we have to do is accept that we are free.’

Lethon paid her no heed, instead he continued to brush the straw away.  When at last he finished he left.  Kaunis fell to the floor to think that she had lost him, that there was no hope for this poor young soul.  It was then that he returned, a dress in his hands.

‘Our master requests your presence at dinner tonight, m’lady Kaunis.’ He said.  ‘He has asked for your opinion on this dress to wear.’

He held out the dress.  It was a deep shade of green, emeralds surrounded the neckline that came low to the breast.  The skirt flowed out like waves on the beach.  It was truly beautiful.

‘A most lovely dress,’ Kaunis said.  ‘Yet I am afraid I do not belong to the baron, and so, I shall not dine with him this evening.’

‘I shall inform him, m’lady Kaunis.’ Lethon bowed and left the room taking the dress with him.

 

The morning faded into noon, and noon into early evening.  Lethon returned to Kaunis bringing the dress with him.

‘The baron, Felron, has requested your presence at his table within the hour wearing this dress.’  He told her

‘My answer has not changed, I will not dine with the baron.’

‘Then he has said that you will dine with the guards.  And you shall wear nothing.’

‘Fine.  I will let him have this victory, but he gets no more.’

Lethon handed Kaunis the dress and bowed to leave.

‘Help me.’  She said

‘M’lady?’

‘It’s tied at the back, I’m going to need you to help me.’

‘Of course.’ He bowed

She untied the string from around her waist and pulled the rough tunic over her head.  It was the first time Lethon had ever seen another person in only their skin.  His eyes wandered about her flesh.  Her skin looked soft and smooth.  It was white, like snow that blanketed rolling hilltops in early winter.  Her hair flowed down like the beautiful shadow of night covering day.  He could not take his eyes away from her.

‘If you wouldn’t mind,’ She roused him.  ‘I need help getting this over my head.’

She raised her arms as he lowered the dress over her.  She turned round showing laces to fasten the dress.  Lethon touched her exposed sink through the dress.  It was as luxurious to touch as it was to look upon.

‘If you’re quite done,’ She laughed.  ‘You could tie these things together.  Not too tight mind, we don’t want him getting any ideas.’

Lehton pulled on the laces, the tighter they became, the more pronounced her breasts became.

‘That will do.’ She told him as the laces got tighter.

When the dress was fastened, he took out a small comb and began to brush Kaunis’ hair.  It was as soft to the touch as her skin, perhaps even more so.  When at last her hair was straight she began to braid it.  two small braids came from either side round the back of her head and met in the middle falling into one larger braid.  She turned to face Lethon again.  He stepped back to see all of her.

‘You look beautiful, m’lady Kaunis.’

‘Thank you, Lethon.’ She smiled.  She called out to the guards, ‘Remove my chain!  I am ready to dine.’  

Two soldiers came in, one bent down and removed the chain from about her ankle and they guided her to the main chamber of the castle.

 

Two large wooden doors swung open.  One of the guards stepped into the great chamber.

‘The lady Dúal, m’lord.’

Kaunis stepped in.  It was the same chamber she had been brought into when she was captured, yet now it was filled with a great table of ebony wood.  A silk cloth of red and gold lay over the top.  The baron sat at the far end.  He wore fine robes of black and deep red.  Kaunis was sat on the end opposite to him.  The guards left the room.

‘The dress suits you,’  Felron told her.  ‘Though I think it should be somewhat tighter.’

A servant came into the room and poured wine for Kaunis.  Masses of food lay before her.  Roast chicken, ham, lamb and other meats.  Felron began tearing into the feast that lay before them like a hungry wolf.  Kaunis began to pick some of the scarce vegetables that lay amongst the piles of meat.  

‘You made the right choice to dine with me.’  The baron continued

‘Is that so?’

‘Of course.  Do you know how that rable would have treat someone with your body on show?’

‘Men are all the same, whatever race you are.  You claim to want the best women, but should you get her, you lose all confidence, especially if in a group.  It’s as if you forget what everything is for.’

Felron laughed as he bit into a leg that once belonged to a bird.

‘I am different from the men that have known you, it seems.  I know how to treat a woman.  I can give you everything you need to be comfortable, not like the filth I have in my mines.  All you need to do, Dúal, is do as I tell you.’

‘And what does my lord command?’ she asked mockingly

‘He asks only that you eat, for now.’

They continued with the feast.  Felron devoured what he could, whilst Kaunis ate only what she needed to.  Few words passed between them, and those that did contained no meaning.

When, at last, the meal ended Kaunis stood up.

‘I take my leave.’ She bowed

‘No you do not!’ Felron commanded.  He rose from his seat and walked towards her.  He grabbed her and pushed her onto the table casting off the silver plates.  ‘You are mine!’  He reminded her.

Kaunis struggled away, but he kept her still.  With one hand still on her chest, he removed his trousers revealing his bloated legs.  Kanis thrust up her leg leaving him in pain  She took her moment to escape his grasp.  He beat her to the floor, covered his legs and called for the guards.

‘Take her to her cell,’ He commanded them.  ‘She is to be fed on bread and water alone until she is willing to co-operate!’

The guards dragged Kaunis back to her cell ripping her dress on loose nails and rough stones.

 

That night, dressed in tatters and rags, Kaunis dreamt of tears and suffering.  She found herself in The Emerald City.  Fire burned around her.  Form the left came the voice of Telroth calling her name, and from the right came the voice of Pefÿen.  In front of her, just out of arm’s reach, stood Lethon.  She tried to walk towards him but her legs would not move.  A figure stood behind him.  A shape of a tall man, dressed in robes as black as starless night.  He put his hand on Lethon’s shoulder.  The voices still came from either side.  She began to walk towards Lehton, but every step she took the figure took Lethon back three paces.  She began to run, but they moved away quicker.  She stopped.  She could feel the figure looking at her.  She saw no eyes beneath his black hood, yet she felt them.  They were deep and piercing, vibrant, yet cold and dead.  Lethon and the figure vanished.  She heard again her friends calling her name.  Again and again they called until all sound was blocked by a deafening roar and all was engulfed in cleansing fire!  She was woken by a raven tapping its beak against the bars on her window.  The sun had only just begun to rise.  She tried again to sleep, but the foul beast would not let her rest.  Tap tap tap, it went.  And again, tap tap it went as she turned over.  She gave up and scared the beast away.

‘Be gone!’ She cried at it.  ‘The dawn has only just begun, leave me to rest!’

She tried to sleep one last time.  Tap tap tap.  The bird had returned.  Kaunis accepted that the bird had beaten her and she wondered what, or who, else would beat her before she became free of this stone prison.  Lethon came with a plate of bread and water.

‘Kaunis,’  He greeted her.  ‘I wish to speak to you.’

She took the plate and thanked him.

‘During the night,’ He continued.  ‘I heard a woman crying.  I hear her every night, but I never knew why she cried.  I always told myself that we only got what we deserved, that we were not human, not as good as them.  But I did not last night.  Last night I learned why she cries.  She cries for she is not owned, she knows that she deserves to be free.  And now, thanks to you, I also know this.’

‘You are free in mind, but not in body.’

‘Then I will change that!  I do not know how long it will take, but I will free myself, I will free you, and I will free everyone that still lives in those damn mines!’

‘Noble goals have killed many, Lethon.’

‘I would rather be dead than captive.’

‘What’s taking so long!?’ A guard called in.

‘I was just leaving, sir.’  Lethon replied.  He turned to Kaunis, ‘You must stay strong, I will free us.’

And then he left.

 

For nearly a week Kaunis lived off bread and water.  She lost much of her strength and will.  Each night Felron came to her cell and demanded that she submit to him.  And each night both spilled the other’s blood.  Yet, each night he got further.  Until, at last the sixth night came and Felron did not.  In her state of hunger and weakness, Kaunis hung to his coming for some shred of routine.  But this night he did not come, and she did not know how she was to deal with this.  In his place came Lethon, who still had kept to his name sake bringing what little extra food for Kaunis as he could, even if it meant taking from his own.  Yet Kaunis would never know the true extent of what he did for her.  She did not know that he had grown fond of her and the freedom this Lauräs from the north.  He had grown to love her, yet she could not see it, not if she was to keep her strength in front of Felron.  On this night he brought a large plate filled with a variety of foods.  There was meat, and vegetables and fruit and bread.

‘Lady Kaunis,’ He greeted.

‘That is not my name.’  She said, her voice failing.  ‘My name is Dúal, I am servant to the baron Felron.’

Her last will had broken.  Lethon could see it in her eyes and his heart broke also.

‘Be careful when eating the bread,’ He said.  ‘It has a sharp taste.’

He put down the plate and left the room.  When Kaunisl ate she found a small shiv had been baked into the bread.  It was only a few inches long, but it was sharp and that was all she needed.  She slept again that night and waited for Felron to visit her the next evening.  And visit he did.  The door swung open and Kaunis rose to her feet.

‘Master.’  She greeted Felron

‘Well,’ He said.  ‘It seems you’ve finally learnt your place.  You’d better get to work, you have a lot to make up for.’

‘That I do.’ She said, her eyes fixed on his.  She walked slowly up to him, both her arms hidden behind her back.  As she got to him one of her arms went round his shoulder, while the other thrust her shiv into his chest.  He gave out a sharp ghasp.  She pulled out her blade and lay him down on the cold stone floor.  She took from his body a red gem set in a pendant of gold that hung around his neck.  She left the cell, two guards stood either side of the door.  She blinded one with her shiv.  He swung his sword as she duck hitting his comrade.  She took the fallen soldier’s sword and finished off the first.  She ran along the stone corridor making as little noise as she could.  In the distance she could hear the sound of metal on stone.  She followed it finding a tunnel that led into the earth.  Following down the tunnel she came to a small chamber filled with weapons off to the side.  It lay behind a door of iron bars.  A lock hung on it.  Kaunis saw that it was rusted and would, with enough force, break.  She used the pummel of her sword to do just that.  In a hurry, she took what weapons she could carry.  Again, she followed the tunnel down.  It opened onto a large chasm in the earth.  Slaves of varying races and ages laboured in the most terrible conditions.  She hid the weapons in some empty barrels at the mouth of the cavern.  A party of slaves came into the mines led by two guards.  

‘Oi!’ One yelled at Kaunis. ‘Get back to work, scum!’

She walked towards them.  They took out their weapons and walked towards her.  The men and kaunis faught.  They were slow but strong.  Kaunis avoided all of their blows striking them many times.  At last, they fell before her feet.  She took the keys from the guards’ belts and freed the prisoners.  She gave them all the weapons she had stored and called upon them.

‘Come!’  She bade them.  ‘Come and fight for your brothers and your sisters.  Come fight for those that have been imprisoned with you!’

They cheered and followed Kaunis’ charge into the mines.  Each guard they killed gave up his weapon to a slave that stood nearby.  It was not long before the guards were overwhelmed and surrendered to the might of the once slaves.  They continued their assault up into the castle until they came out into the courtyard.  The Portcullis was closed and guards began to circle round them.  Kaunis pulled on a large winch and the gate began to open.  Another began to pull on it, and another.  Soon the gate was open enough for them to flee.  Some on the winch fled and the gate began to lower again.  Lethon stepped forth and put his spear into the which mechanism.  They all fled and the spear broke.  The gate came crashing down on the guards.

‘Go!’  Cried Kaunis. ‘Go!  Be free!  Return to your homes and your lives!’

One by one those that once were slaves disappeared becoming free forever.  Lehton and Kaunis ran south together.

‘Lethon!’ Cried Kaunis hugging him

‘You have freed us lady Kaunis.’

‘You planted the seed of this freedom.  Without it he would of..’  Her voice faltered at the thought of what Felron would have done when she had lost all of her will.

‘Fear not.’  Lethon told her. ‘He is slain now.’

‘He had won.  Before you came I was his.’  She fell to the ground.  A tear fell from her eye.

‘You have been strong for far too long.  You are in the company of a friend now.  Do not fear these tears.’

Kaunis buried her head into his shoulder and wept at what could have been, at what almost was.  After a moment of silence she lifted her head up.

‘Thank you.’  She said.

‘It is I who should thank you.  Felron did own me.  He owned me until you told me he did not.  It seems that our chains truly are mental, and if break these mental chains, we can break any physical ones.’

They looked into each others’ eyes in silence.  Their heads came closer together until their lips met.  They confessed to each other their love through only silent, joined, lips.  Lethon put his hand on the back of Kaunis’ head and brought it to her cheek.  Still their lips were joined.  They came apart and looked into the other’s eyes.  Smiles came across their faces.  Time seemed to stop in that moment of a lover’s look.  But a moment cannot last forever.  A rustle came from the bushes and Tayren stepped forth.

‘Kaunis!’  She called. ‘Dúframa! I’ve found her!’

The Wood-Elf came from the bushes and drew his sword at Lethon.

‘Who are you!?’ He demanded

‘Lower your blade!’  Demanded Kaunis.  ‘He is a friend.’

‘My name is Lethon, sir.’

‘Lethon.  How appropriate.’  Dúframa said, sheathing his sword.

‘Come on.’  Tayren said.  ‘The others have set up a camp a little further south.’

‘The others?’  Asked Kaunis.

‘Yes,’  Said Tayren.  ‘Nore, Pefÿen and Kenrémas.  None of us were going to leave you.’  She turned to Lethon.  ‘And where are you headed?’

‘I go wherever the lady Kaunis will, should she have me.’

‘Then come,’  Kaunis said.  ‘I would not leave without you.’

And so it was, that they rejoined the others, and began to return to The Emerald City.

Thus ends the third part of 'The Earth and Blade Saga'


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