Note: This is a translation of a work originally written in Polish (by me lol). I'm not a professional translator, nor a native English speaker, and there's just me and Grammarly app working on that text. Any advice would be highly appreciated.
Thank you and enjoy!
"What's wrong?" Namia repeated the question several times. Hearing no response, she came a little closer. "Hey! I'm talking to you!"
Kalena was sitting huddled by the pool for a long time. For a brief moment, she fixed her eyes on the woman, but then she started looking at the water again.
"I'm a little tired," she said softly.
"You have been resting for an hour now! If anyone notices, we'll both be punished! What's going on? Did our lord whip you?"
"No." she repeated.
"So what's going on?"
The girl moved away a little further. She was silent for a while, before revealing the reason for her sadness.
"Have you heard what he said in the morning? I'm going to be sold! He'll sell me on the market!" She blinked her eyes quickly to wipe away tears. It worked. She felt her throat tighten slowly.
The other slave reacted with a soft snort. She slowly brushed the unruly strand of dark, but graying hair, and fixed her bun.
"That's it? Get yourself together, it's not like this going to kill you! Every day people are sold on the market, it's nothing."
"But I'm afraid!"
"Then go back to work! It will do you good, you have wasted too much time already! If our lord wants to sell you, he will. Crying won't help. If I were you, I would be happy!
Kalena said nothing. She tried to find some comfort in the chores. She liked working in the garden, mainly because when the plants bloomed, she could admire the effects of her work. But now the girl was painfully aware that she would never see this garden again. She felt like she was about to die and not change her place of residence.
"Your mother always hoped you wouldn't stay here forever," Namia spoke again and Kalena immediately focused her attention on her. "She prayed for you to get to a better home. Perhaps her gods just heard these prayers? Since she's dead, she is a lot closer with them now and she is watching over you."
"Do you know where he will take me? Did he say where he wants to go?" she changed the subject.
"Probably to Kagolania. He has some deals there, that he wants to finish."
Kalena shook her head. She seemed completely devastated.
"I was hoping I would at least stay in Port!" Why up to Kagolania, it's far away!"
"Maybe it's far away, but the people are richer and they have bigger houses. And their prince reaches adulthood soon. He'll rule as a king and ban slavery! For now, the regent rules there, but change is a matter of time. Hyan told me that during one holiday, the prince publicly announced his intentions while speaking to his subjects, and they cheered in his honor." She paused and licked her chapped lips for a moment. "When we're done, go help kids on burning leaves. I don't understand why our lord gave this task to little Toki, probably only to have a reason to whip him later. And check if the kitchen does not need to light a fire. I give you my word, before leaving you should teach someone how to raise a flame so quickly!"
Kalena's stomach still roiled with tension but she forced herself to ignore it. She continued to work, but she couldn't forget about her worries at all.
"You have to be of good cheer," Namia was still trying to comfort her. "You're fifteen, you're almost adult! Women your age are already getting married and leaving their families. They are certainly afraid too! But is someone crying because of that?"
"Won't you miss me? I will never see you again!"
"Of course I will miss you! But I can't change our lord's decision. It's good that you can be useful. You live because he wants it, you should be happy that you can repay him for all the years of keeping you. And maybe you'll find someone who likes you? Maybe you will become the beloved slave of your new owner? He will give you food three times a day, you will walk dressed up fancy and rest on the bed with pillows. I bet you haven't thought about it at all! Stop feeling sorry for yourself, you are pathetic when you keep crying!"
Kalena knew that the woman said it in good faith because she wanted to help her become a strong person. Slaves could not be weak, because if they were, they died.
Fear grew in her every hour. In the afternoon she managed to suppress it, but in the evening he completely took control of her. She couldn't imagine living outside the home. She had her small world, from which she sometimes only went away for a few days, but always came back.
She spent a sleepless night, which made her terribly tired the next day.
Early in the morning, they head out from the Free State Port towards Kagolania. Kalena forgot much of the journey. After a few years, she could only recall the feelings that accompanied her. Sadness, fear, and terrible longing. At first, she cried quietly, but after a few minutes, she ran out of strength.
The road was long. Kalena watched the changing landscape, hoping that fear would finally leave her and let her fall asleep for a moment. From the morning her stomach ached terribly and although she was very hungry, her nerves did not allow her to eat a whole breakfast.
"My lord, could you tell whom you will sell me to?" She asked although she knew that her owner did not like it when slaves speak without permission.
The tall man driving the carriage looked at her and smirked.
"An extremely cruel tyrant. He asked me for someone like you. All his other slaves had died because he beat them too much."
The servants next to her laughed. Kalena never liked them. They were the strongest of the whole group and sometimes the owner ordered them to punish the disobedient when he did not want to do it himself. Her eyes filled with tears again.
"Please, let me come back!" She groaned.
"You're never coming back! You're solving my problems with this fool kid so he'll finally stop sending his people after me! He's a cursed, as the whole family, he came out of! I have overstated your value anyway, so pray that he doesn't notice that you are no longer a virgin!"
"I beg you..."
One of the men took out a long leather strap and folded it in two. Kalena already knew what that meant. He grabbed her wrists so that she fell on the wooden ground of the carriage. He hit three times, but it was enough.
"Are you deaf, bitch? You have to sit quietly."
The owner gave him a severe look.
"Goods cannot be damaged! Leave her!"
The trip lasted all day. The landscape changed quickly, but Kalena was not interested in it. She lay down in the corner, crouched her legs under her chin, and tried to imagine that it was all just a nightmare. She wanted her lord to turn around and say that it was all a punishment for her rude behavior, a cruel joke. But they weren't coming back. It was real.
They kept on moving forward.
After a few hours, she felt exhausted like never before, but she couldn't rest, because she was still waiting for the market at which she had to be present as one of the goods. All the time they were walking from the stall to the stall, and from the tent to the tent. She looked anxiously at every man her lord had spoken to, thinking he was a slave dealer to whom he would be transferred.
She expected to be asked what the symbol burned on her shoulder meant and probably punished for not being able to answer. On the other hand, slavers should know for themselves what each stigma means. They even had special books, with all the signs that slaves had burned. For sure this one will have too. Kalena kept repeating this to herself, trying to calm down in this way.
Finally, the owner grabbed her by the shoulders and measured her from top to bottom.
"One wrong move and you won't lie on your back for a month! I will take care of it!" He threatened. They entered a white tent in which two people sat. An older man and a young, elegant-looking boy, maybe a few years older than her. They didn't seem like slave traders.
When the boy saw them, he nodded politely and then began to speak to her lord in a language she had never heard before. After a moment, he took a step back, clearly surprised by something and pointed at her, and immediately shook his head saying something quickly. Kalena felt something delicious smell outside. She wanted to see what was that, but she was afraid to turn around. She preferred not to draw attention.
She glanced briefly at this boy and after a while reluctantly stated that he must be very strong. She wondered if he could cut the skin on her back with a single blow of the rod.
Kalena could tell by his appearance that he was certainly very rich. He didn't change into an expensive outfit, he really came from a completely different environment than the rest of the merchants. His skin was white-alabaster, as if he rarely went outside and if, obviously not for work. She stared at his fingers for a long time, which she liked very much. Extremely long and slender, but still masculine. His thick, black, shoulder-length hair was combed back. His brown eyes resembled her own, but a little larger. He looked at everyone sharply and without a trace of fear or shame.
He seemed nice, but there was something about him that made everyone show him respect.
He was wearing a plain brown T-shirt and trousers, and he wore an unbuttoned dark red fabric with a stiff collar. He could buy ten slavegirls like her for this coat, and there would probably still be something left if he could bargain well.
She stood trembling as both men discussed her fate. She was light-headed and very afraid that she would lose consciousness soon, and it would end badly for her. The stomachache again. She was eager to cry, but she knew she had to hold back.
In the end, it ended with what she expected. She was given away. The owner just went out with his servants. They didn't even turn around. She was now only with her new lord because the older man she had seen before had gone somewhere.
"Sit down, you must be tired," he said, "it's always so loud in the marketplace. Forgive me, I should notice you sooner."
She gladly took advantage of his suggestion. She fell to the ground and sighed quietly, feeling the forces slowly lowering her. The dizziness increased even more but slowly began to subside, as did nausea. Nerves were replaced by exhaustion and she felt like sleeping.
"My name is Galaspiael," he said, handing her a cup of wonderfully cold water. "I'm sorry I treated you so rudely." You look like you haven't been resting for a long time, I feel that I should...
"This is fine, sir," she interrupted him. "I'm tough."
From his smile, she immediately knew that he didn't think so.
"I see. You have to wait outside because we will roll up the tent. Drink to the end. He gently pulled her hand away when she wanted to give him the dish. "Drink it. If you want more, just ask. Unfortunately, I have nothing to eat, I'm hungry myself. I can buy you a baked potato because I see that they are the only ones left."
Kalena nodded slightly confused by the entire exchange. He behaved atypically. He talked to her as if they were equal. He apologized to her, and she didn't even know why.
A few minutes later, he waved to her, signaling her to go with him. They got into a similar car that she arrived. Only this one was in a much better condition and much larger. Galaspiael encouraged her to sit down next to him and hand her a paper package.
"Go," he said to several men who were his companions. "We'll take the carriage, it's more convenient."
"Then your horse must be harnessed to it." the man whom Kalena took as the friend of her lord glanced briefly. "What an insult to this wonderful animal! If something happens to you, just shout out loud, maybe we'll hear."
Galaspiael only replied with a smile and caught his reins.
"I have nothing to eat at home. You will have to go to sleep hungry, but I promise you that this will only happen once. Sorry, I didn't expect guests today."
She didn't answer. The sliced baked potatoes were hot and the packet was starting to burn into your fingers. She ate quickly, blowing now and then, trying not to burn her tongue. The boy glanced at her and nodded as if trying to write something down in his memory.
"What is your name?" he asked.
"Nice. Please, don't be afraid to look at me when we talk."
"Kalena bit her lips and stared at her feet. When the boy put his arm around her, she felt that she couldn't control the tears coming into his eyes and she covered the face when she noticed that he was looking at her slightly embarrassed.
"That's fine. You had a rough day, I understand. I don't feel well either."
Before they hit the road, she finished eating potatoes. She was clutching an empty package and looking at Galaspiael from time to time, but as soon as he noticed, she looked away immediately.
He covered her with his coat when it got colder and they rode in absolute silence. She fell asleep for a moment. finally, the carriage stopped and the boy told her to get out and follow him.
She noticed that his house was very close to the wall surrounding the part of the city where aristocrats lived. They went through a wooden gate and then through a garden, much larger than the one Kalena had previously looked after.
"It's a beautiful house," she whispered as they reached the front door.
"I'm glad you like it," Galaspiael murmured. "It was a long day. You deserve a rest."
"You are so kind." Kalena wanted to bow but just lowered her head. "Thank you."
Galaspiael just smiled at her and gestured to her to come inside. She noticed that he had a long rope with him, which he almost immediately removed from the bundle and tossed it behind the cabinet.
"Take your shoes off here," he said and glanced at her bare feet. "Sorry. Come with me."
He led her into an almost completely dark corridor and a room with a small bed. When Kalena realized that he was going to lie on it, she began to quietly grunt, and when he sat next to her, she covered her face with her hands.
She heard him sigh softly.
"I know what it's like to miss home. I understand you. I would even like to give you back to your lord, but I suspect he would sell you to someone else anyway."
"Is this a problem that I'm here?" She groaned.
"No. Just your appearance here is a big surprise for me. But since you are already, maybe it was supposed to be this way. Try falling asleep. We'll have a big breakfast tomorrow."
He patted her head and left the room. Everything seemed like he wasn't going to come back. She turned to the other side, wrapped in a blanket, and sighed deeply.
The entire life of the Grand Duke Washar of the Huangjin Dynasty seemed to be perfect. Many people said that the gods gave him a special blessing.
He was the eighth descendant of the Madegaldian emperor Xiansherim and the last child of his first wife. From early childhood, he realized that there was no chance of taking the throne, so when he grew up, he did not even think about fighting for power with his three oldest brothers. Even Shao Tien, the third son, doubted his chances.
According to tradition, the emperor's crown was to be taken over by the oldest descendant, but nothing was certain. The emperor had the final word on this matter.
As years passed, older brothers began to hate each other more and more. Washar left the court immediately after entering adulthood and since then has heard many times that he would be the most suitable emperor. Because he spent a lot of time outside the walls of the palace, he began to be perceived as a sort of liaison. He often interceded for his subjects and thus gained their love. He lived peacefully, news of court intrigues always reached him, but he was never personally involved.
There was a treasury in the Sworn house and Madegald's greatest secret in it. Washar was the guardian of the golden box in which the secret of the power of the empire was kept – the instruction, how to prepare dynamite. Every several years it had to be refreshed so that no word would die over time.
A man with a completely shaven head came out of the room. He has just completed the last task of his life; made a new copy of the recipe. He held out his hands in which he held a new roll of parchment, carefully rolled up. He seemed calm and reconciled to fate.
"Your Majesty could I…" he began quickly, but with each word he spoke slower and quieter.
"Could I do it myself?"
Washar was surprised him with this unusual wish. His predecessor begged for mercy, which was why the prince was sure that again this time he would have to be assisted in killing by another guard.
All the time the prince held the dagger hidden behind his back. He slowly handed it to the young man standing in front of him. The man took a few steps back and gave a deep bow.
"It was an honor for me to be able to serve the Empire," he said quietly. The blade flashed silver as he raised it above his head and then stuck it in the stomach with all his might.
Washar twisted the scroll in his fingers for a moment before putting it in the chest. The scarlet stain on the floor began to increase.
"They should take old men," said Naimoor. The second brother brought this unfortunate inside and also watched his death "If I became emperor, I would change this law. He had his whole life ahead of him."
"Do you think they'd better start a family that could later mourn them later?" Washar asked coldly. "Could they faithfully serve the Emperor, knowing that they are like animals waiting for slaughter?"
Naimoor looked at him in consternation. He was always surprised how directly and sharply Washar could speak of death.
"Don't you feel sorry for these people, brother?"
"Every day someone dies. I've killed a lot of people since I was elected for the guard here. I only mourn my relatives. I don't care about anyone else."
Thank you for reading!