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“Too ugly. Too tall. Too fat.” Lord Marikh walked in front of a row of slave girls, he was followed by his scribe Tryll. “Ahh! Why is this one even here? I’ve seen at least fifty girls and only one has been worthy so far.”
“M’lord,” Tryll said, “the seller has one with him. She is, uh.. exceptionally beautiful, but I think that um she might be a bit too costly. I heard him say, well uh, he called her Jazmin.” Tryll looked to the ground when Marikh turned to him.
“Take me to Hahg now. We are buying slaves for the Almighty Ga’ash; it is possible that one of these girls could join the Harem; we will spare no expenses. And what did I tell you about saying that word, 'um,' it makes you sound stupid. And lift your chin, you look like a sissy. None employed by the palace should look like sissies.”
“Yes Marikh.” Tryll looked at one of the slaves and was compelled to wipe her tears away, but Marikh would surely have him lashed for such kindness.
Tryll presented his lord to the slaver named Hahg. Hahg pushed the lowly scribe from his view of the potential buyer. “Aha Marikh,” Hahg greeted his old partner. “I can’t believe you’re working behind those walls. You should sneak me in there sometime, I might find some valuable merchandise. I’m expanding my business to the black market. I’m getting too old to be trekking slaves through deserts and stolen merchandise won’t try to escape when I'm sleeping.”
“You’re scum Hahg. Any priest would have me without a head for bringing you into this city. The City of Gold is only a two hour ride from these gates, you can stay there.”
“Get off your damned pedestal Marikh; you are employed by a man who fancies himself a god.” He paused. “Hell, I guess you’re here for the merchandise.”
“Where is she?”
“In the wagon. Follow me.” Hahg looked to his assistant before leaving his post and said, “Let the common folk in to buy now; the lords and ladies have had their turn.”
“Why’d you leave a slave alone?”
“She’s different Marikh, she knows her place and to put her with the common rabble would be a disgrace to the goddess Victoria.”
“How dare you speak of false deities while in the shadow of the City of Gods.”
“Whatever, Marikh. Your mother would have had you over her knee for such talk when we children.” Hahg held the wagon door open allowing Marikh entry. “She’s in here.”
“You’ve come to buy me,” Jazmin said. Her back was to the men. She was robed in thickly weaved fine silk from head to toe and her hair was made as if she were attending a summer’s ball. There was a necklace with a black stone hanging from it laced around her neck.
“Why do you have a slave dressed in such lavish attire Hahg?”
“She has three pairs believe it or not. She came to me only a month ago as I was leaving Nord.”
“I can speak for myself slaver,” Jazmin said as she turned around. “The goddess Victoria came to me in a dream. She said I was to be a slave in the sea of sands. She would only call me Rousa. I am obedient to my gods and my goddess has told me to serve your gods, and so I will. I found the first slaver traveling to Dest and told him he could have my price if he took me there. I’m not a slave yet, not until I leave this wagon with you.”
“Very well, and what makes you think I’ll buy a free woman? I am not in the business of making slaves. I only buy and sale.”
“You never would’ve entered this wagon if you weren’t going to buy me. And would you want to disappoint the Almighty. If you don’t purchase me, somebody most certainly will and don’t you want to be the lord that presents the Almighty with the most beautiful slave in all of Dest.”
“She sure is a conceited one isn’t she, haha,” Hahg joked.
“Strip,” Marikh demanded.
“Excuse me, you are speaking to a free woman sir,” Jazmin said. She bit her bottom lip, it was a nervous habit, but any man who ever knew Jazmin couldn’t see it as such.
“Three hundred,” Hahg said.
“Are you out of your mind? Every other girl out their only runs between twenty and fifty gold shillings.”
“Lady Adira has already offered five hundred; the other lords have all offered between one and two fifty. I’m not going to sell her to that old hag if I can help it, but if you can’t offer three hundred you leave me no choice. And as I recall from my last visit to your pious little city that woman was repeatedly out showing you.”
“Fine take the bag.” Marikh dropped his coin purse into Hahg’s greedy hands. “Strip slave.”
Jazmin let the robe fall to the floor and took the wooden hairpin from its place letting her dark hair fall to the middle of her back. Jazmin asked, “And what will you have me wear?”
“Don’t speak unless told to slave. I own you now. Hahg will provide you with rags suiting to one of such a low status. You have one minute to meet me outside; the whip is the punishment for tardiness. Don’t make me remind you.” Marikh exited the wagon and joined Tryll.
Jazmin covered her chest by crossing her arms. “Thank you Hahg. When you get back to Nord City make sure my brother is safe and see to it that he treats Melisa as our father treated our mother. It will be a long time before I am likely to see any of you again.” She hugged Hahg and kissed his cheek. “Now give me those clothes. I plan on staying a virgin for as long as I can.”
Hahg handed her a set of sandy-brown ‘poor-man’s’ clothes, they were more cloth and rag then clothing though. “You better hurry, and I promise this will be my last time selling slaves. Whoever isn’t bought today will be taken to Miriam City to be set free. Thank you for opening my eyes. And gods be with you.”
“I had to, for the sake of Valc.” Jazmin touched Hahg’s hand softly one last time before she exited the wagon. A single tear escaped and she let it run its course until it settled between her lips.