Tir Na Cali has a landing page here.
Names by @Inventrix. The unnamed gentleman in the story is Karl ap Jolanda
It wasn’t Onyx’s fault that her master’s vineyard had gone bankrupt, but that didn’t stop her from being put up for auction with the property, the equipment, and the other vineyard slaves to pay his debts. Nor did it stop the taint of the failed vineyard from coloring her like the purple on her fingers and toes.
Lower-levels slaves found new homes – either in other vineyards, or in other field work. Field slaves were always needed, and trained, broken-in field slaves especially so.
The foreman, the field doctor, many of the other mid-level slaves were likewise valuable, and likewise, while as purple-stained as Onyx, less tainted by failure. But long after the auction had ended, she, the field manager, and the girl who had managed the publicity and tours for the vineyard were left sitting in their cages, disconsolate and miserable.
“So what happens to us now?” Keri, unlike Onyx and Taris, had been taken from America, and bought directly by the master for his vineyard project. She’d never sat in a room like this before.
“If we’re not lucky,” Taris muttered, “it’s field work for us. If we’re lucky…”
“If we’re lucky, it will be a business position somewhere,” Onyx cut in firmly, before Taris could scare the girl more. “Someone will see past the failure.”
“It’s not our fault,” Keri whimpered.
“No, it’s not.” The rich male voice that cut into their conversation took them all by surprise; they’d assumed they were alone in the holding cells. Panicked and nervous, Onyx and Taris fell into kowtow position, their foreheads to the floor, pulling Keri down with them.
The man kept talking. “The wines vinted in Jeffery ap Paulina’s vineyard were of sublime quality. The complexity of the Sauvignon Blanc, especially, was very impressive, and the ad campaign for the mead was beautiful.”
Onyx felt a small spear of hope rise inside her. The Sauvignon Blanc had been one of her best efforts.
“Sit up,” he added, and they did, beholding a handsome man – grey eyes, no slave collar, Onyx noted, as she was sure Taris was – with a long ponytail of jet-black hair. “I have a vineyard that specializes in some very strange fruits, and I would like you three to help me develop it.”
He held out his hand and, from the air, a long coil of vine began growing, studded with bright red berries.
“Would you work willingly for me?” he asked, as they stared in awe.
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