His master lived and worked in a bakery, though the slave had never seen the upstairs. Joseph, called "Boy" by his master, resided in the basement of the bakery. He'd lived and worked there since he had been taken from his parents, and taught how to prepare and make the dough, as well as bake it. He'd never been given shoes, but he was allowed an old, torn shirt and worn shorts. He kept his hair short so the heat from the oven didn't bother him as badly, though his hands had been burned plenty of times. He was thin, though not all that muscled. His arms were decently so, from working the dough all afternoon and making deliveries at night. His schedule was sort of flipped, being awake by noon, working downstairs until sunset, and then making deliveries until the wee hours of the morning, before the sun made it's ascent. He didn't mind the schedule much; the cool evening air was a welcome after the sweltering heat of the oven. However, he delivered the baked goods on an old wagon that he pulled himself. There were many hills on his route, and too often did the pastries slide around and bump into each other. The customers would make a complaint, which would result in punishment for him. His punishments were normally done by the whip. His master began with three, and added one more for each complaint he had received that morning. His bleeding would ban him from working with the food, and he would spend all day moving supplies by himself, and cleaning out the oven after it was done being used for the day. Once the bleeding had stopped, another slave would bandage him and give him "fresh" rags instead of the blood-stained shirt. She wouldn't speak a word to him, but she always seemed annoyed by him. All of the other slaves did, and all sixteen of them ignored him. As he had gone back to work and began his normal routine, he let his mind wander. Knead the dough, knead the dough. More flour. Knead the dough, knead the dough. Fold. Knead the dough, knead the dough, his hands seemed to do the work for him as they repeated the same actions over and over. His thoughts turned dangerous - normally, he would physically cringe as he mentally scolded himself. But the scars on his back gave him some determination. Just enough that he might act on the thoughts. He pictured himself running away before his last delivery, running down the alleys he had passed so many times in his life. Idly, he wondered if he had the courage to do it. He almost began to talk himself out of it, but as he reached for the flour, the stinging pain on his back reminded him. Yes, he would have to do it soon. And do it without getting caught, for that particular punishment might be something worse than the dreaded whip. He dared not thing of what that might be. But what lied beyond the walls of the alleyways? That thought might have stopped him, if he had not seen what happened next... His master stormed downstairs, literally dragging an anthro slave tiger down with him. His body made a solid thump as he reached the dirt floor. The anthro was dressed in only ratty shorts, the color of mud, similar to the rest of the slaves. His white striped fur was filthy, and Joseph couldn't help but notice that this slave didn't have a collar yet. This meant he had been recently purchased, and was about to be put in his place at the master's feet. Joseph frowned sadly as the tiger growled at him, which earned him a slash from the whip. All the slaves cringed at the sound of the tiger's pain, and Joe was sure all of them wanted to tell the tiger to just let it happen, that there was no stopping the master. He owned them all, and he made sure they knew it. The master had one of his other anthro slaves, this one, a wolf, tie up the tiger so he couldn't stop their owner. "Flea-bitten piece of shit," the master yelled as he repeatedly whipped the now-defenseless tiger's back. "You belong to me now!" The escapade went on for a long, drawn-out hour. The tiger only stopped growling a warning at their master, when his blood had stained his white fur and dripped onto the dirt on which he knelt. Joseph had been the one ordered to put the collar onto his master's newest slave, and he made sure he hurried with it. His master was watching, and he did not like waiting. Once the master was satisfied that his newest purchase would not run, he made his way up the stairs, cursing at the fact that he wouldn't be able to sell the coat now because it was ruined. Over the course of the next few weeks, Joseph practiced an ability he noticed he had - he could take away all the light around him and he would become a shadow. The light felt warm in his chest and gave him strength and steadiness enough to move the cart without damaging the pastries. With each time he used it, it was easier and easier to do, though he made sure not to do it when people were around. Finally, he had just one more delivery. He sat the cart down and took the light from all around him. He smiled to himself at the warmth that spread through his body. Cautiously, he took a step forward, and gave some of the light back behind him, and took some from in front of him. He took more light, so now the shadow appeared to be a ball. He took another step and repeated giving and taking light, and slowly sped up. He still kept close to the buildings as he made his way through the town and eventually came to the river. Blending with the shadow of a tree, he looked up and down the river. The sky was lightening, allowing him to see more of his surroundings. There was a bridge down to his left, with bars, but they were just narrow enough so boats could not come and go. There was plenty of space for a person. He gulped to himself and stepped into the water, shivering at the chilly liquid. He kept moving, knowing full well by now the master was out looking for him. Thankfully, he figured out how to swim through the water before he had to leave the shallows and swim alongside the edge of the bridge in order to slip through the bars. It was slow work, but he managed to stay a shadow. He turned to follow the wall back to the other side of the bridge and slipped into the shade of the trees. He was free. Outside of the walls of the city, out of his master's clutch. He was free! He couldn't help but smile, a true smile that the light around him seemed to share. Sticking to the trees, he went to go investigate what was giving off so much light. He looked to the East and saw the brightest thing he'd ever seen in his life, even harder to stare at than when the oven's flames were close to his face. He stepped out of the safety of the trees, but barely, to get a better view of it. The light warmed him, from the inside and from the out. He felt friendship and peace, which were two things he'd never felt before, though he'd longed for them since he was a child.