A’Lia Seven Travelers Free At Last!



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Slip away? The girl was confused. Why would she want to slip away?

“Why would I want to do that?

“All new slaves want to do that. What’s the matter with you? You stupid or something?

The girl stood in front of the man, her mouth agape. “Slave?”

He took a step toward her and in a quick flick, ripped the bloody shirt off her frame with no effort. “Now, Little One, out of the pants and into the water with you.” His tone of voice left no room for argument.

Frightened but not overly so, the girl dropped her pants and demurely walked over to the warm water. Climbing in and settling down into the chin-deep water made her realize just how sore she was. Why am I so sore? she wondered. Where’d all these scratches and bruises come from?

A while later, Subulu gave her a large towel. “Here, girly, ahh, Little One, the mistress wants you up in the house. Get out now and dry with this and then wrap it around you.”

Again, unselfconsciously, she stepped out of the water and took the towel. She wondered why her nakedness didn’t seem to have any effect on him. She was very aware of how she appeared to men. Subulu continued to look at her as if she were a side of meat.

The girl wrapped the towel around her and tucked one end into the top. She followed the man out of the cook shack and up to the house.

They entered and the man led the girl to a great room that contained a huge, stone lined fireplace and a dark wood table that seated twelve comfortably. Around the table were twelve hard wood chairs. At the far end of the table sat Barth and Meegan who had just finished a meal.

Meegan looked down the table at the girl. “Come, Little One. Let me old eyes take a look at you.” The girl refused to move.

“I am not accustomed to repeating myself, Little One. Come here!” There was a snap of order in the old woman’s voice.

The girl still did not move. In fact, she glared at the old woman.

Barth grunted and slowly stood. He walked slowly on aged legs to where the girl was standing. He seemed to limp a little and the girl realized that she was not afraid of him. How could an old cripple like this Barth be a threat to her?

Like lightening, his right hand snapped out and slapped her resoundingly across the face. The girl crashed back against Subulu who caught her by the shoulders. She reached up to touch her face. Tears of pain began to trickle down her soft cheeks.

Slowly, unconcerned, Barth’s right hand came back around and, fisted this time, connected with abdomen, just above her solar plexus, stopping all thought as the breath was driven from her lungs. Her knees gave out. Subulu, apparently used this sort of thing, held her to keep her crashing to the floor. She struggled to regain her breath. The last blow had hurt so bad that for a moment, the stinging pain of her face forgotten.

Subulu let go her shoulders and the girl slumped to the floor. Not yet finished with her, Barth wrapped his hands in her hair and pulled her back to her feet.

“Now, Little One, do you understand that when someone in this ‘ouse’old tells you to do something, you do it?” Barth’s face was twisted in a snarl of anger.

The girl tried to speak or even nod but was hurting so bad she could do nothing.

Barth let go of her hair. She crumpled back to the floor, understanding just how badly she’d underestimated his strength. The many decades of working the fields may have weakened his legs but the steel strength of his upper body was undeniable.

“You will respond instantly. If you fail you will be beaten.” He bent forward a little and gently touched the bright red place on her cheek where he had slapped her. “This,” he suddenly snipped her cheek with a finger, making the spot feel as if he had poured molten fire on her face, “is but a sample. I am a good, kind master but if you fail me or mine again, you will feel my wrath. Believe me when I say I know how to ‘urt a woman.”

Barth straightened and returned to his place at the table. With a sigh, he sat and picked up his flagon of wine.

Meegan said, quietly, “Now, Little One, come ‘ere. Let me old eyes take a look at you.” The girl rose shakily to her feet. This time she went and stood beside the woman. Her night of horror was not yet over.

“Yes, Little One,” Meegan smiled up at her. “With a little training you should become a good little housemaid.” With a move that belied her aged fatness, Meegan snatched the towel from the girl leaving her naked to the three people in the room.

“Turn a little.” There was a terrible silkiness to her voice that frightened the girl. She obeyed instantly, though, turning to her right. There were worse things than being naked front of strangers. She touched the red welts on her face. Much worse.

“Turn more.” The girl did, displaying her smooth back. “Nice.” Without warning came a solid, stinging slap across her buttocks. The girl cried out in pain and surprise! “Another lesson to make you remember what Barth told you.

“Now face me and get down on your knees.” The girl quickly turned and knelt. “Bow you head before me, slave! Do not move until I tell you so.” She did as told, staring intently at the floor. She heard the old woman get up and walk away from her. In a moment the woman’s footsteps returned.

Although the caning lasted for several minutes, to the girl it felt an eternity. After the first blow, the pain drove away all memory of the rest of the blows that followed.

Meegan was sweating like a pig she was when she finished beating the young girl her sweat rolling off her in rivulets. Gasping for breath, she tossed the cane onto the table and said, “There will be much more, much more of that if you ever disobey me again! Subulu, take her to the cookhouse, clean her up, and feed her some slops. She will sleep with the kuintuks tonight! And be sure to chain her so she cannot run.”

Much to the surprise of the girl, Subulu very gently wrapped her in the soft towel and even more gently picked her up and took her out. In moments the towel was soaked red with the girl’s blood.

At the cookhouse, Subulu carefully took the blood soaked towel from the girl and helped her up onto the wooden bench. He stoked the fire to warm more water and made a salve for the cane cuts on her back. All the while, the girl lay whimpering on her stomach.

“I am sorry but I have to clean the cuts. It will hurt horribly, though not as much as the caning. Bear with it for the time it takes to put the salve on. The salve will take away the pain. We will leave it for a while. Then you get back into the bath.”

He saw the pain in the girl’s eyes. “It will work, believe me.” She nodded dully and lay on her stomach on the pad.

Subulu began cleaning the blood from her back. True to his word, the pain was beyond anything the girl had ever experienced. He was, if at all possible, even more gentle than when he had brought her out of the house. “You have been badly beaten. Though I know it is of no comfort to you, I have buried several that those two lost control on.”

Then he began to spread the salve. The ointment was cool to her hot skin and he was right. In moments, the pain went away.

Subulu smoothed the salve slowly from her neck to the backs of her thighs and let her lay there for almost an hour. He awakened her from a light doze. “Come, now Little One, into the bath. This will aid in your recovery. Afterwards, I have some rich soup and bread for you. Then I’ll make you a soft place in the stables for your sleep.”

She rose stiffly. He helped her walk to and get into the huge tub of warm water. For the second time in one day she wondered why, even injured, her naked body seemed to have no effect on him as it did the boys in…she wrinkled her forehead. Where was home? Somehow I know this is not it.

The warm water helped soothe her. After her bath, Subulu dressed the worst of the cuts again and applied more salve. He then gave her a large, soft robe and fed her a wonderful soup of meat and vegetables. The bread was still warm from the hearth.

After eating a little, the girl looked over at Subulu. “Why are you here? I do not see a slave ring on you.”

“There are ways to enslave people that are not so obvious.” She continued to eat, the warm meal soothing her inside as well.

“Tomorrow, I will go into the village and buy you some clothing. The master’s fat old wife,” he glanced around nervously to see in anyone had heard, “has no clothes that will fit. She is, at the moment, one of the few females here. All are large or fat. You are not.” He stated flatly.

The girl looked up from her bowl. “Why is that? Aren’t there any married men here?”

Subulu shook his head sadly. “Those that were have long gone. These people have run off the good hands and their families. That is why they are always on the look-out for slaves.” He gave the girl a long, intense look, as if seeing her for the first time. “They must have paid a nice sum for you.”

She shook her head. “I don’t remember. All I do remember is laying in the road, my head bleeding and that woman helping me into the back of her wagon.” She put down the bowl and began to cry. “I don’t even remember my name!”

Subulu softly touched her wrist. “It is okay. I have seen this thing happen to others. Your memory will come back in time. Keep picking at the edges of it like that of an old scab. It’s still there.”

Silently she finished eating. Subulu put the bowl on the sideboard and led the girl to the kuintuk pens. While she waited, he found a clean cubicle, laid out some batting and made a pad for the chain he was going to lock her in.

“Little One, this will have to do. The Master or his wife will come out later to see if you are truly restrained. I am sorry I have to do this. That is why I made this,” he showed her the padding, “to protect your ankle. Now lay down there…no! On your side, not your back. You will reopen some of the wounds. Yes, that’s better.” He knelt beside her and wrapped her left ankle in the pad and then locked the shackle tightly around it. There was no way without the key that the girl was going to escape.

The girl at this point could have cared less. Some pain was returning and her face hurt. Her stomach hurt. The salve may have worked on the cuts from the caning but it did nothing for the blows. She was so very tired.

She looked up at Subulu. “So why are you here?”

Subulu looked away and whispered, “They took from me my wife and child several years ago as a punishment. It makes no difference if I stay or go. So I stay.”

That was all that was said as he left the stable.

True to Subulu’s word, Meegan waddled into the stable several hours later. She kicked the girl in the leg to wake her.

“’ere, girl, wake up. Let me take a look at you.” She knelt down and held her lantern high. The sputtering of the wick threw odd dancing shadows around the stall. “So, seems old Subulu must ha’ taken a likin’ to ye.” She prodded and pulled at the padding around the shackle. “Well, at least it’s tight and ye won’ be runnin’ nowheres t’night.”

She grabbed the girl roughly by the chin. “T’morrow we will put‘cher lovely young arse t’ work. Maybe a little time in the vineyards will help t’ change yer’ uppity ways.”

With great difficulty, Meegan pushed herself to her feet and waddled back out of the stable without a backward glance.

The girl had trouble going back to sleep. The salve’s help was wearing off and, soft as the robe was, it was irritating her back. And she was frightened!





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