(With no auction and no house, oops)
Wyste prompted me:
a slave auction house, a surprise.
and I’m going to blame the part where I’m sick* for the part where I missed like the auction and really the house.
* I’m not really sick. I’m having a predictable adverse reaction to a medication that will be over by tomorrow morning. But I feel sick. Peh.
Arie had been trudging for days. His feet were bleeding, he was fairly sure, and his shoulders and neck were sunburnt.
The raiders had caught five of them in a trap that he felt stupid just thinking about, the sort of ridiculous thing that Wile E. Coyote would have turned his nose up at, but they’d been tired, they’d just finished fighting off something Arie was pretty sure was a wyvern, and-
-and they’d been stupid, and gotten caught, and no matter how he tried to spin it to himself, they’d been stupid, and they’d gotten caught, and they were naked and chained up with hawthorn and steel and all in all, they were in a shitty position, as were twelve other people that had been chained up in coffles with them and three others that had been tossed in a wagon, still chained, because they’d fallen down and couldn’t or wouldn’t walk anymore.
Arie had been almost tempted by the idea of falling down, until he noticed that the three in the wagon got no water and no food. That had been two days ago. He wasn’t sure he was going to survive either way, but at least walking, he got water every half hour and food twice a day, and got to sit down and try to sleep from an hour past sunset ‘till an hour before sun-up.
“Stop!” called the man at the head of the coffle. They all stopped, bumping into each other a bit as brains wearied by constant walking and pounding sun processed the order.
It was barely an hour before noon, if the sun wasn’t lying to him. Still, Arie knelt, because otherwise the chains would pull at him and the men to either side of him, and because otherwise he’d be flogged, and both of those he sought to avoid as much as possible.
They started with the man in the front, unchained him from the coffle and sent him off with one guard. They passed water along the line as they waited, and then the second man went.
Arie was fourth in line; one of his friends was second, the others were in the second coffle. He tried to catch anyone’s eye, but their captors had set them up such to make that nearly impossible.
When they took him, he didn’t fight. He wasn’t sure he had any energy to fight. They led him into a stone building, something that looked pre-collapse and saved, somehow, from the damage of the wars. They pushed him into a room and left him, his feet soothed by the cool tile, the door slamming behind him.
“There we go, and you’re a lovely one.”
Arie was still blinking into the dimness of the room when the hand took his shoulder and the voice — female, warm, affectionate — came out of the shadows to his left. He turned to look, but found he was seeing spots.
“This way, here, forward, tch, it’s hard to see in here, I know, but lights cost money and there are better things to spend the money on. Up three steps.”
The hand guided him as he stumbled — hands still chained, feet still hobbled — up three steps.
“Stay right there and don’t move. I know I don’t sound like much, but if you make a fuss, it’s back out there in the hot sun with you and trust me, this is better.”
He found his voice. “My friends…”
“There’s five rooms. So unless your friends were ahead of you, they’re going to have to wait their turn.” She patted his ass affectionately. “You’ll see them at dinner, have no fear. The next auction isn’t for days. You’ll have plenty of time to make your goodbyes.”
The chains came off his ankles. He blinked again, and could make out a deep tub in front of him and, what was more, a lovely woman, even shorter than he was, to his left. She was collared, too, and naked, too. And smiling.
“Now into the water with you. Soak yourself nicely, that’s it, while I do your nails. We want you to be pretty, after all.”
Arie couldn’t bring himself to argue. He stepped into the water, surprised to find it comfortably warm.
“And once your contract is up — probably a five-year one, that’s mostly what we sell, especially you pretty fae boys — you come back here, and I’ll clean you up again, and Marnie will give you clothes, and we’ll give you your ten percent. What?” she asked, probably at the look on his face. “You didn’t think we were savages, did you?”