The Unchosen

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Saren, May 19, 2015.

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    Nachtni was seen as the center, the definitive place to be for anything seen as unsavory or crooked. Its citizens, much like the entire city itself, were often considered lowly and deemed fit to live only amongst their own seedy kind. In truth, it was a place full of turmoil, deceit, and individuals who cut deals faster than they cut rope.

    The noble house of the de Saville family was no exception to the rules of Nachtni. Though the family was of a lesser descent, that stigma didn't stop them from trying to make a larger name for themselves. If that meant striking up trades with shady fellows or dealing with known backstabbers, then so be it.

    Despite being the oldest of the children, Tristan hadn't much cared for the way his father had done business with others. The de Saville family owned a large chunk of land even with their lesser background, but Vincent de Saville was determined to own more of Nachtni... All of it, if he could. That sort of ambition required close friends and closer enemies.

    And that was the way of city of the Night Goddess. A way Tristan had lived for all his life. He didn't always mind it, but there were some things he didn't enjoy.

    In that very moment, the thing he would have rather avoided was the monthly slave auction. There wasn't any reason for it to be monthly, but the nobles of Nachtni ran their slaves into the ground more often than not, requiring more as time went by. The de Savilles had surprisingly few slaves, but as their son grew older and closer to the Chosen age, Vincent had decided Tristan would get his own personal slave.

    Tristan heard the old driver smack the aging horse, spurring the animal into a faster trot. The carriage lurched, and Tristan's younger sister stomped her foot in irritation. For being only eleven years old, she already had a penchant for voicing her opinion, wanted or not. "Mother, can't we just get a new horse? This old one is too fat and he doesn't go very fast."

    "Now, now, Vivienne. I'm sure we'll find a strong horse at the auction today," Evelyn said smoothly, reaching to stroke her daughter's sleek, dark hair. "Tristan, your old beast has run its course. Perhaps we might find something for you as well?"

    Tristan flicked his head to the side to see his mother giving him a critical eye. Her oldest son had a habit of returning biting remarks to her, though his father said he was developing a businessman's tongue. Tristan didn't believe either of those things, but to keep his mother happy, he only replied, "Yes, Mother." He watched her beam, though the action held hints of being nothing more than a fake expression. He turned back to the shuddering window as their driver pulled up to the outskirts of the town center. The area was wide and circular, made so it would hold numerous amounts of people and equipment for any event. The showing stage was already set and there were buyers lined up left and right. No slaves had been put on display yet, but it was only a matter of time before some showed up.

    Tristan's family exited their carriage, though he thought about asking to stay inside away from the chilly breezes. It wasn't a fine day for any sort of event, but the auction would go on. It rarely stopped for anything.

    Tristan's other sibling, the lovely Octavia, was fixing a few loose strands in her braid, as if she expected to be inspected by anyone else. Tristan only tightened the scarf around his neck. It was a ratty piece of dark fabric, and Evelyn had tried several times to get rid of it, but if Tristan was going to hold onto one thing from his innocence, it was that.

    "Welcome, citizens of Nachtni!" The announcer was the same man as always: a lanky snake of a human being who delighted in dealing with human lives on a daily basis. "As your humble leader of this auction, I thank you for your patience. One of our... goods might have damaged themselves on the trip, but I assure you that whoever purchases him will pay a discounted amount!" Tristan saw his father roll his eyes, and he knew that the head of the de Saville family wouldn't even glance at that slave. Vincent only purchased the strongest looking slaves, and he never settled for anything less.

    "Girls, why don't we take a look at some of the horses? I'm sure you'll both find something fine to suit you." Evelyn carted the two girls away, because at least she had the sense to spare her daughters from the auction.

    It was never pretty.
    #1 Saren, May 19, 2015
    Last edited: May 20, 2015
  2. The lankey man's assistants starting to go through the throngs of people gathered for the auction. Beggars outlined the rich crowds with palms upturned, staring into the eyes of slave owners, staved off only by the gleams of half-drawn swords of the hired mercenaries paid off by profits. Others put on sheep's clothing, trying to blend in with the wealthy with clothes taken presumably off the backs of murdered aristocrats in alleyways; the auctioneer signaled subtly towards these suspects, using his theatrical waving and announcing to draw more attention as a cover. His eyes glinted with sharpness and cunning, with every word caked with joviality to shroud the danger he posed to those that stood in the way of his power. To deal with the buying and selling of lives was his power; it was his life.

    Richter Barchard wouldn't have his auction ruined by thuggish cut-purses. His reputation would be stained if his patrons were robbed of their money. His two covert operatives were efficient at weeding the lot of them, with much more masterful disguises, artfully placing daggers into the sides of the low-tier thieving scum, dragging them away without as much as a squeak. His eyes scanned the crowds as they grew smaller during the initiation phase of the proceeding. There would be order under his hawk nose and eyes. The crowd wouldn't notice; most were too focused on his speech, the usual greeting fanfare, or the pamphlets given by his assistants. The pamphlets were like a playbill at the theater, listing the kinds of slaves for each section.

    The first on the list were the showman stock, of healthy fit bodies adorned of the finest silk garments. These people presented themselves mainly by their own volition, flaunting themselves in vain hope of being freed from their tyrannical bondage. These were those that believed that their escape from poverty was being bought into a rich family, unaware of the dark rumors and scandals of the known houses of Nachtni. Richter could spin a tale about any of them, highlighting their most favored attributes. He had appraised many people, finding it no different than appraising any other good, speaking then only of the perks without any of the deficits. His two agents were especially good at disguising these slaves as well, covering vital spots like war wounds with flowers, makeup and wigs.

    Next were the renegade slaves, mainly deserters of a professional army. They were chained and though they were stripped of rank, their lines tended towards ordering from the least to most honorable. One stood tall among them. Pinned at the top of his ragged black robes was the symbol of Abdon, the Sun God, to mark him. Most of the other lot were broken Teldros barbarians, of the Earth God, shamed by their defeat in battle, submitting to the will of new masters rather than face a dishonorable death. Though shackled, the Abdon man held his gold blond-haired head high, his face yearning only for a small glimmer of sunlight shimmering through the black smoke of a sky.

    The rest would be the freaks; rejects that would sell for cheap. Here, Richter had to pull out his best theatrics, for they were the hardest sell. They were a waste of resources, but the people of Nachtni seemed especially eager to get underway, in search for cutting a bargain or to find a rare display piece to torment for guests, when the pretty ones simply wouldn't do. Most were thrown as a bundle with other, better slaves and buyers, though they were displayed for novelty. There was only one more odd out; the injured slave.

    "He is said to have been traded for a smattering of livestock. He is Pigsworth, from lands unknown. Come, Pigsworth."
    Pigsworth shambled onto the stage, unshackled, with a leathery looking face and balding. The further he got to Richter's accusing finger, however, the more his posture improved. He stood at the exact spot. Richter pulled off his ragged shirt, revealing a line of ribs.
    "For most eyes, this man would be considered better off dead. I know better. I am an appraiser of men."
    Richter pulled out a thick piece of bread.
    "Do not eat this." He ordered. "Open your mouth. Now close it."
    Pigsworth obeyed blindly, the crowd could see his rows of teeth on the bread, but not his lips. They were constantly twitching against the strain of pressing down.
    "This man hasn't eaten in over five days. He had to watch as I ate at the master's table." He patted Pigsworth's head. "Good boy. Now give the bread back to me."
    Pigsworth opened his mouth slowly, like a steadily opening castle gate, enough that the bread popped out.
    "Here is complete and inerrant obedience!" Richter called. He threw the bread on the stage and stomped on it with the toe of his boot.

    "Now then," he continued, "If you're not convinced, now is the time to make requests. Pigsworth can and will do anything he is commanded."
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  3. As more slaves poured out and were bought, the more Tristan wanted to turn his head and leave. There was something about dealing in human lives that could have churned his stomach, but then again, he had grown up in Nachtni. He knew the ways of the city and everyone in it, simply because they were all the same. Almost all the citizens of Nachtni wanted power or recognition of some kind, and they could show some of that off when dealing with slaves. Some of the higher noble houses had power and money, and they knew it. The slave auction was the time to display everything you could, so that everyone else would know what you were capable of.

    However, Tristan's father was withholding that. He hadn't even sniffed at the slaves being shown off. Several strong-armed and passive slaves had passed by, but if Vincent was good at anything, it was picking the right, able body to serve him until the end of that slave's short life. So when the injured slave came forth, Vincent perked up. Tristan even had his eye on the man, even though he wasn't much to look at. Looks didn't matter in Nachtni; it was the deepness of a pocket that went far. It was why even some of the ugliest slaves were bought just because they could work. For that reason, Tristan wondered why his father hadn't even so much as glanced at the slaves at the beginning. They appeared much more able than the last slave standing on stage, but Tristan rarely had an eye for these sorts of things.

    Though Richter was embellishing Pigsworth as much as he could, many of Nachtni's richest had already purchased slaves, so they were vacating the auction. The numbers in front of the stage were dwindling fast, and if no one acted, Richter would have one slave to continue carting around. And everyone knew that slaves who weren't bought weren't seen again.

    "I'll take him." Tristan almost jumped at his father's voice. Of all the slaves, Vincent wanted the injured one, the last man dragged out on stage. Pigsworth would be sold at the lowest price, of course, but he was wounded somehow. Tristan couldn't tell where; the slave was completely oblivious to seemingly everything other than Richter's smooth orders. Tristan couldn't help but feel disgusted for a number of reasons. Pigsworth was hard to look at from any angle, and Tristan was rarely around those who weren't graced with face paints and silks and other luxuries to flaunt their assets. Even worse was the feeling that his father would just exploit this new slave for all he was worth, which wasn't much. Vincent had a record of buying strong slaves and then running them into the ground or even digging their own graves. Tristan didn't want this slave to be the same, but his father liked to be consistent.

    And then there was the twist. "Tristan, this lowly excuse for a slave is to be your personal slave," Vincent said, turning to his son.

    Tristan's eyes widened, but he hid the look of shock well enough. Masking emotions was the first thing anyone learned about subterfuge. "What for, Father?"

    "Well, you're to be Chosen soon, as my brother was when he was your age. When Jevmera picks you as her champion, you'll need a pack animal to accompany you on your quest." Vincent made it sound so final, a tone that Tristan couldn't handle.

    "I... suppose," he answered, voice hinting at caution. He turned to look back at Pigsworth, though he couldn't hold his gaze on the slave for long. Other noble families would look upon the de Savilles as cheap for buying such a lowly slave, but it seemed as though Vincent had grand plans for his son and his soon to be personal slave.
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  4. When Pigsworth heard the words that he would be bought, a flicker of light came across his eyes. When the gold had been passed from the man's hands to Richter's hands, he snatched the squished boot bread and ate it greedily out of the sight of the two men, like a pig at a trough. It was a window of time offered to him because now that Richter was no longer his master, his command in not eating the bread was nullified. He didn't know and didn't care for the temperment of either man in response of doing this. Without orders, he was free for a sacred moment, and spared the terrible rod. His eyes were still raised in anticipation of punishment from Richter for this subversion, and though Richter could see what he was doing at the corner of his eye, he merely ignored it. Pigsworth was no longer Richter's problem, a bad penny sold almost at cost because unlike the other slaves who were strong or beautiful, Pigsworth was just a pathetic creature who understood fear.

    Richter usually gave some advice to owners of slaves, but to Vincent, he only passed on the long metal rod, a heirloom of the previous owners who sold it to him, a tradition. Pigsworth's eyes followed the rusted, caked blood rod, and having finished eating, knuckle-walking his way cautiously towards Tristan and Vincent. His injuries were much more apparent upon closer inspection, obvious from the tool he so closely watched. His nose had been broken and flattened, an age-old injury, and bruises covered his body. The most recent injury, as far as Vincent could see, was a bruised trachea, with marks indicating rope might have done it. Pigsworth's breathing was raspy and aching. His adam's apple telegraphed his continual uneasiness. He tried looking at the young man by his new master, keeping low, understood the look of disgust on the young man's face. Pigsworth raised upturned scarred hands to Tristan and Vincent, awaiting orders.

    His first masters were difficult to remember, though such an ancient sign was taught to him by those masters. It begged for their supplication, that whatever transgression he had done against them simply for existing could be forgiven, a right offered to them even if they flat out rejected it. He remembered thin metal tools, screams, and the murmurs of prayers. Prayers, to whom? Pigsworth remembered how to pray, and had done it countless times before. His prayers were unseen, unlike the slave man of Abdon, who was prideful and accepting of his fate. Nothing seemed to answer him; the sound of orgasmic exaltation to a sudden revelation never reached his lips. If not for his new master's purchase, Richter's men would have done what he started.
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  5. Where Vincent had controlled other people all of his life, Tristan had done his best to avoid the lifestyle entirely. He was certain he wasn't cut out for such things, even as he was pushed into it. He might have enjoyed it if he lacked a heart like his father, or even his mother some days. As Pigsworth crawled to a shaky stand in front of them, Tristan wanted to turn away.

    Vincent was used to such things, but he only glanced down at his son. He couldn't have cared less that the slave had eaten the muddy, flattened bread, considering he'd be eating like that for the rest of his days. "Go on," he said to Tristan with a slap on the young man's shoulder. It wasn't the sort of action that dictated love or affection; it was the the threat of something worse if Tristan didn't comply.

    With a hard swallow of the lump in his throat, Tristan forced himself to really look at Pigsworth. The man was the definition of ugly, but few slaves looked beautiful. However, Pigsworth was giving a sign of surrender. He hadn't done anything to offend Tristan, outside of his unkempt appearance. It was nothing that warranted a beating, at least to Tristan. A turn of Tristan's head spotted Vincent inspecting the rusted metal rod. He didn't need to swing it to know its physical, or emotional, weight, knowing that his newly purchased slave was familiar with the tool.

    "I'll be waiting at our carriage," Vincent voiced, earning only a nod from his son. With that, the head of the de Saville family left, leaving Tristan and his new personal slave. Tristan had only had one slave once before, a young man snatched from a caravan from Krowrata. He'd been strong and proud just like Teldros, the God he worshiped, yet pride had brought him to his end at the hands of Vincent. Since that incident, Tristan had been given only servants to control, those who always answered to another power. Pigsworth was a test to see if he could do what he couldn't before.

    Vincent had taken the rod away, and while Tristan had never endured pain under the tool, he felt better knowing it wasn't near him. "Um," he started, though his voice lacked any conviction. Clearing his throat, he spoke again, "I'm Tristan, your... your new master." There was no hard command in his tone, but it was a better start. His father would have chastised him for not having the right words. "I guess they call you Pigsworth, and it's not too hard to see why." The verbal jab had come out of nowhere, causing Tristan to reel in his thoughts. With a brief pause, he continued. "Well... Come on, then. We don't have all day." He turned on his heel and began the dreaded walk back to his family. "Can you speak? If you can, tell me where you come from."
  6. Pigsworth hacked and wheezed, coughing violently, as he tried to speak. Finally he cleared enough phloem to form a coherent sentence. His voice wasn't bold, but it was direct; direct answers pleased masters, but arrogant ones didn't.

    "They say I was born in the Badlands, a place where none of the Four care to look."

    It was strange that his new master would ask anything about his personal origins, but perhaps his new master was merely gauging if he was of a Krowrata or Glagos stock. He also wasn't used to answering questions in the first place. He was commanded for what he could do, not what he could say. It was also an odd sensation not to be chained and not surrounded by armed men or walls in such an open city, walking like a non-slave might towards a carriage. While the young master said they didn't have all day, that wasn't true. Time was all Pigsworth had, and he clung onto it greedily. He didn't want to die. There was his momentary lapse, leaving the reminder coiling around his throat that made it hurt to talk.

    The young master couldn't even look at him for long. He was being spared from those judging eyes, and almost preferred getting struck across the face for his supplication rather than feeling as though there was a small hope in developing a meaningful relationship with his new master. Tristan didn't look like he was quite ready to become a slave owner, but he'd grow into it, just like his father who held the rod. For a time, maybe Tristan would only give him easy orders. Pigsworth hoped he'd remember not to give his new master any helpful suggestions, or hint at what kind of orders he had followed before. The less creative the commands were, the better.

    He thought about running. There was no point, though. If he ran, it would be a different form of suicide. He knew he was easily identifiable, and would be found if he tried to beg. All running would earn him would be a severe beating by city guards and his slavers. They'd probably enjoy playing the man hunters as well. Sometimes his second set of slavers would allow him to run off and hide; if he could hide the whole night from them, then he'd be granted something additional, something special, for his next meal. It never happened, though. Almost he had done it, but the hunters knew the badlands extremely well, and knew all the hiding spots. The one time he almost evaded them was by hiding in a large buzzard's nest on a smaller ridge just off the peak of a cliff, covered in straw, bone and ripped animal flesh for its expected young. The buzzard could've ripped him apart with its claws if it returned to its nest and found him first. Just once, he wanted to win, despite his masters.

    He was Pigsworth, with a pig's face. His ear was clipped like a livestock's ear would be to denote that was property. There would be no tales of his triumphs. He was tamed, just like the horses he could imagine of the carriage they were heading for. He knew the horses had more value that he did, an easy estimate given his sale price. Tribal transactions were simple even to his limited understanding; he knew the value of bread and water, the base items for trading. Horses were always expensive, and costly to maintain, especially in the badlands. Horses had much more expensive mouths than a slave's. Pigsworth would kill a horse if that meant he could eat its share.

    "I don't know my parents. It's better that way. They sold me when I was a baby."
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  7. Slaves didn't answer questions. It was a norm for Tristan. Either the slaves couldn't speak, they'd been trained (or beaten) so they wouldn't speak, or they were too afraid to. Tristan had realized long ago that slaves weren't there to be spoken to. They were there to take orders and do the work no one else wanted to do.

    So when Pigsworth's low voice floated into the damp air, the young man nearly jumped out of his skin. It wasn't the gravelly tone that caught him or the fact that people stared. It was the simple fact that Pigsworth had actually answered him. To be answered was rare in that time, but it was almost welcome. On top of that, the slave answered him without dodging the question or trying to run. Slaves trying to escape had become a new fad, especially in Nachtni where they were treated most poorly. Tristan rarely heard stories of mistreated slaves in Neosesa; Ryphine was apparently a goddess who valued kindness over power.

    In his city, Jevmera seemed like she enjoyed those who calculated risks like numbers or take a sneaky way in. Cruelty, however, didn't seem like something any God would want. Tristan wasn't one to question simply because he couldn't. Jevmera's most loyal followers claimed that she loved the citizens who could wile their way out of anything or cheat those situations that couldn't be figured out.

    In the Badlands, Jevmera, her followers, the Four Gods... None of that mattered. Stories told that the Badlands were abandoned by the Four Gods in favor of the terrains that were now their cities, leaving the old areas to rot and descend into madness. Those who couldn't live in the cities, whether it was by their own choice or not, made their own in the harsh Badlands, turning profits wherever they could. It seemed like nary a shred of good will or fortune could worm its way into any corner of the Badlands.

    To come from there and survive wasn't an uncommon feat, but no one made it from the Badlands without being changed. In most cases, it was a change in status. Many of its occupants came out and found themselves slaves to the cities and their denizens. Nachtni dealt most with Badland slaves, because rarely did others want to. And that was fine with anyone from Nachni; they got their pick of the 'best' slaves that way.

    Pigsworth spoke again, bringing Tristan from his thoughts and noticing the path he'd taken. It was a roundabout way to get to the stables, but his mind had wandered, leaving the thoughts of his family behind for just a fleeting moment. He didn't want to hear the distressed cries from his sisters about Pigsworth's lack of attractive attributes or their nasty quips about anything else. His mother would ask his father why he bothered with such a slave, they would argue, then put it behind them. Ever the worrying pessimist, his mother would mutter about it for a few days and then start commanding Pigsworth herself.

    At least things never changed.

    While Pigsworth had answered his question, Tristan didn't thank him. Masters didn't thank their slaves. Vincent would have called that a sign of softness, of weakness. And weakness didn't run in the blood of a de Saville.

    "When we get to my family, stand behind the carriage. You'll be walking next to it while we ride home." The command came so easily that Tristan didn't think it was his own voice speaking. He'd seen his father order slaves too many times, and it was still strange that he knew exactly what to do. "Don't talk to my sisters. They only have rude things to say anyway. I don't care how you refer to me, but my father's the one with that beating stick, and he will not hesitate to use it in front of people, understand?"
  8. Pigsworth nodded his head furtively instead of responding with words in response to the threat of the rod. It had been hard trained in him to shut up once the rod had been mentioned as a threat against him. He had no doubt that this the father was proficient with the beating stick, and wouldn't hesitate to use it.

    It was curious to Pigsworth that his new master gave so much advice on how to act in front of the rest of his family. His other masters never gave such warnings, to have an excuse to beat him violently with the rod whenever they wanted. It was to enforce that he would never be accepted, no matter how obediant he was. There didn't have to be a reason to be punished, but it had always been a vain hope that his behavior could spare him the rod, when the alternative was to accept that his well being rested on pure sadistic whimsy, without cause or reason. He wanted to show thanks toward his master, but knew that was too familial, and would expose his master's weakness, of compassion, and would definitely earn him the rod. Pigsworth expected the father would teach his son to use the rod eventually, and once the son tasted the power it held, his new master would become exactly like those before him. As they continued to walk to the stables, Pigsworth realized that the roundabout way went through a sketchy area of the city. A sense of dread overwhelmed him as he suddenly started to scan across every overhead window and alleyway opening for signs of movement. It was getting quiet as well, as they moved away from the bustling marketplace. It suddenly felt cramped, like a cage; it was like the buildings themselves were closing in on them. He heard some muffled movements, and grabbed the shoulder of his master to stop him. There were footsteps coming from both directions, closing in on both of them.

    The slave grabbed Tristan's hand and started running like hell in the alleyway to his immediate right, charging towards an apparent dead end. The footsteps were much louder now. "Kill the pig man, but keep the noble alive. He's worth more alive than dead!" a voice behind them yelled. In front of Pigsworth was a tall wall of cobblestone. The first thought he had when he saw it was of betrayal, to climb it by himself and simply leave his new master to be captured in the hands of kidnappers. Instead he put the grabbed hand on his shoulder and started to climb with the additional weight. He had lost his footing an alarming amount of times scurrying up the wall, but managed to keep hold each time, ignoring the cuts and bruising holding the uneven cobblestone for dear life caused. Once he got to the top of the wall, he couldn't even think of descent as panic gripped him. He fell off, landing on the opposite side on his feet, but causing his legs to instantly buckle under the combined weight of the master and himself.

    "Hide." he wheezed, trying to catch his breath on all fours. He pointed off, implying he should be left behind. The people that were chasing them were highly trained and would catch them in a simple foot race. To them, the wall would be trivial to get over. After all, if Pigsworth could accomplish something, it meant anyone could. There was still hope for the young master, though. Pigsworth had heard tales of legend that any noble of Nachtni had the innate ability to act stealthily, no matter their background or physical build, a blessing from their mysterious Goddess. He thought again about his temptation at the wall and realized that if he had left his new master, he still would have died at the opposite side.
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