Hi there! This is my offering for this week’s Picture it and Write from Ermilia’s Blog here. Once again the picture is not mine; it is by David Talley, I only used it for inspiration. Anyway Enjoy!
“Do you like what you see My lady?”
The short rotund Merchant escorted his refined customer, a well dressed woman with regal airs past his latest stock. They were men, slaves, half submerged in the waters of the lake, tied with rope to a chain that passed along the shore. Some huddled in fear as the two passed. Others did not move, none spoke a word.
“They are not very spritely looking are they?”
“Alas My Lady. Times are not as fortunate as the once were. With our Grand Army at home for the last two years there has been no new country captures. And with it no fresh blood for the markets. These are all criminals and troublemakers from across the Empire. Far more unruly than the foreign brand. You have to really beat them to keep them in line. And then of course….”
He swung a kick at one of the huddled slaves. The poor wretch reacted to the kick by curling into a whimpering ball.
“They are no good to anybody. I suppose I will be forced to send the whole lot of them to the salt mines. A waste on an investment. Forgive me for saying it My Lady, but peace is not very good for my profession.”
The customer nodded in agreement and continued her walk along the shoreline. She recognised people from the many races of the Empire and some from without. This was not much of a surprise; many seeking an ill-gotten fortune were attracted to the wealth within the borders. Mostly they looked scrawny and ill-treated, not at all what she was looking for.
It was a soft, heavily accented voice. She looked down and saw it’s source. A young man, chained like the others. He had the blond hair and heavy features of the tribes of the North. He was in much better shape than the rest of his companions but the bruises said he had been beaten as hard as any there. He looked at her with blue eyes.
“My lady please! Listen to me! I am from far away, across the mountains. There my father is a great king, I am his oldest son and heir. I was kidnapped and somehow found myself here. My lady, I implore you. Free me! Bring me home and I swear my father will give you more wealth than you can carry.”
He was about to say more when there was a roar from behind and the merchant came down upon him brandishing a cane.
“Silence! You impudent wretch!” The merchant shouted and gave the back of the young slave two sharp smacks of the cane followed by a third for good measure. He turned to the customer apologetically.
“I’m sorry My Lady! This putrid piece of donkey’s liver is forever telling tall-tales to the customers. I know for afact they are lies yet try as I might I cannot get him to stop. The God’s must have me cursed to give my only ware that still has some strength such a liar’s tongue.”
The merchant moved to give a fourth lash of the cane when a slight hand raised to stop him.
“I’ll take him!”
The Merchant was shocked.
“My Lady! I told you! This one is undisciplined, forever talking back!”
“That is no longer your concern!”
The Merchant conflicted between loyalty for a favoured customer and the weight of her purse nevertheless paced off to arrange the details.
The customer looked again at the young slave. His eyes showing a mixture of gratitude and something else.
Good! She thought, I have been bored for far too long.
She then said quietly.
“Perhaps you will be interesting”