Shed No Tears
She should have screamed. The cry would have alerted her keepers of their stupid error. However, Bryna was not a screaming kind of woman. Instead as the man's hand grabbed her arm, she reacted the way her parents had trained her.
She pulled him closer and slammed a knee into the excited man's groin. He went down with a whimper. The attack did nothing to stall the other men; in fact it seemed to excite them. Bryna quickly dispatched of a couple more would be molesters. She tried to keep her back to the door and hoped the ruckus might alert the guards outside. A quick twist snapped the wrist of one man, at the same time she used his body as a shield to protect her from two others. Bryna knew deep down that there was no way she would win this fight. But perhaps she could get enough of them ticked off that they would accidentally kill her quickly instead of dragging it out.
"Come on, there is only one of her!"
The men seemed to agree and surged forward. In moments she would quickly be overpowered. Bryna made ready for what would be her final stand. If she were going down, she would go down fighting.
Those two words caused the men to freeze.
Bryna watched as a look of disappointment crossed the faces of the men. "Aw, Hagan," one whined. "You've never been interested in women before."
However, the men parted and the speaker stepped forward.
The person that walked up front had dark black hair that was cut real short. His eyes were wise beyond his age. He was probably about 25 years old and looked about 50. He was also not a he . . . he was a she. Bryna was keen observer and she had no doubt that Hagan was a woman. Her hair was cut short and she had no breasts that could be seen but a woman never less.
Even with that knowledge Bryna did not let her guard down. Women, in this situation, could be as dangerous as men. Hagan stopped a few feet in front of her. Then he or she confirmed Bryna's fears. "We can make this quick and easy or slow and difficult. Your call child."
Bryna hesitated for a moment. Was that a look of kindness behind those aged eyes? Before she could figure it out the left side of her head exploded in pain and all went dark. She never saw the blow that knocked her unconscious.
Bryna awoke to a world of agony. Her skull seemed to barely contain the throbbing mass that lay beneath. She must have made some noise for the next moment a hand covered her mouth.
"Silence, I told them you were dead. It will go better for you if they believe it."
That voice sounded familiar . . . Hagan! Bryna was instantly alert. She would worry about the pain when she had the time. She did wince when she opened her eyes. It took a long moment for the spinning to stop. For a second she thought her eyesight had been damaged, it was so dark. Finally her numb senses told her it was just nighttime. She was still in the cell, but now laying in the corner with a ragged blanket hung up, blocking her and her capture from the sight of others.
Pushing herself up from the cold floor, a warm arm steadied her body until she could stop shaking. "I'm sorry, I guess I shouldn't of hit you so hard. I was beginning to think I really did kill you. You've been out for hours."
Bryna's blurred eyes slowly focused on the face in front of her. "Why?" she finally whispered.
"I had to do something, some of those men haven't been with a woman in decades and I just couldn't let them . . . I'm sorry, thinking is not my strong point. I rather just do."
Bryna had to smile. "Who are you Hagan? I know what you are . . . I can't believe the others don't."
It was Hagan's turn to grin. "They stopped looking a long time ago. Who am I? I am a slave; I have been one longer than I have been anything else. My father, for a few gold coins, sold me into slavery. I didn't like the "work" of women slaves so one night when my keeper turned his back Hanna disappeared and Hagan appeared. No one ever questioned."
It finally dawned on Bryna that her attire and been changed while she had been out cold. Instead of her dress and cape she was wearing a pair of men trousers and a tunic. Bryna looked around for her clothes and the cloak she had been wearing. "Please, Hagan, where are my things?"
"I traded them, for the clothes you are wearing."
"You had no right, they were mine."
Hagan's eyes became dark and her lip curled slightly. As fast as a rock rattler's strike her hand grabbed Bryna by the throat. "Wrong, little one, everything that comes through that door is mine to do what I please with and that includes you. If you are challenging me . . . then do it!" She tossed Bryna away. The young girl's head smacked into the stone wall behind her.
Bryna rubbed the back of her head. "I'm sorry, I'm kind of new at this being a slave thing. I ask for your forgiveness."
Hagan rubbed a hand across her eyes. "I'm sorry as well, I'm so used to fighting for everything sometimes I forget who are my friends and who are my foes."
"If I am considered your friend, then I feel sorry for your enemy."
That comment caused the older woman to laugh aloud. "Come on, there is more we must do before the morning's light."
"Like what? All I have to do is survive until morning and then my friends will see to my freedom."
"How, child, no one escapes from these walls."
"I do believe they are planning to buy me at the auction."
"One problem, men do not go to the auction blocks, usually. We are bought in groups, like cattle. This entire cell has been purchased by one man . . . an evil man, named Kast. We all belong to him now."
"In the morning, I will just tell the guards that a mistake has been made . . ."
"Then Kast will get a cheap wench for his bed. Like I said this room is his and everyone included. I hope you know how to treat a man or maybe that is too good of a word for Kast."
Bryna's heart seemed to stop and for a moment the ability to breathe was beyond her. A sharp slap across the cheek snapped her back to her senses. "Hagan, I can't . . . I could never . . ."
"I didn't think you would like that choice. Then my child you will join the tribe of Namon, a tribe of men that do not grow facial hair."
Bryna looked down at her golden, waist length, locks. Then her eyes rested on her chest, even under the loose fitting tunic; she did not make a very good male. "How?"
"First the hair." Bryna saw the flash of metal in the dim light. "It's a sharp piece of metal I carry for protection and other purposes. Turn around."
Hagan used the pointed piece of metal to chop off Bryna's hair. The young girl bit her lip to stop from crying out. The sharp piece of metal was about as sharp as a butter knife. It took Hagan almost an hour to get the hair to a short enough length to please her. Afterwards Bryna could only stare down at the pile of hair that used to be part of her.
A ripping noise brought her attention back to Hagan. She was now tearing a piece of cloth into strips. "Take off your shirt." Bryna stared at the woman for a moment and was rewarded by a snarl. "I've already seen you once, you don't have anything I don't."
Bryna sighed and removed her shirt. Her pale skin glowed in the darkness. Hagan ordered her to turn around and then began to wrap the strips of cloth around her chest.
"Too tight," Bryna gasped.
"Not tight enough, you have been well blessed for such a young one."
Bryna fell silent as Hagan finished. Afterwards as she replaced her tunic she asked Hagan how she was suppose to function in such a get up.
Hagan patted her shoulder. "Just keep thinking of the alternative. After awhile you will lose enough weight and tone up that the bindings won't be needed. Well, I guess we've done what we can. It is almost daylight. There is one more thing I need to get. Stay here while I find it."
Bryna was left alone for a few moments. She wondered what Mellar would do when she did not appear for the auction. "He probably won't even concern himself," she thought to herself. "He has done his good deed for the year. He tried to help." Even to her the words seemed false. Mellar would be looking for her; she only wished there were a way to tell him where she was.
The makeshift curtain was pushed aside as Hagan came back in. Over her shoulder was another person.
"Who's that?" Bryna asked as he was thrown to the ground. The young girl looked over at the man and came close to screaming. Hagan's hand found her mouth before any noise could be made.
"Shut up!" The older woman commanded. "This could have been you."
Bryna gagged as she looked down at the naked corpse at her feet. His face had been beaten beyond recognition. "What . . . why?"
"Because he was young and good looking, he wasn't the only one. I counted about a half a dozen more. The first night is always hell. If you survive the first night, then you're suitable to become a slave. Kast doesn't want any wimps in his party."
"Hagan, who are all these people? How do they become slaves?"
"Some like myself have been slaves who's master no longer can afford us or want us, so we are put back here to be sold again. Some are people who owe money to more powerful people and have nothing to offer but themselves and sometimes their families as payment. Some are sentenced to slavery as a prisoner of Ishmar and others are just in the wrong place at the wrong time."
"Why did you bring this corpse here . . ."
"To prove a point and to hide your disappearance."
"Didn't others see you bring him back here?"
"If they did, they may think he is still alive and I want my part of the action. But for the most part no one questions me. I can do whatever I please, with whomever I please. I've earned my title over the past decade. No one messes with a tribe member of Namon and that will include you if you think you're up to it. I'll watch your back and with the skills you exhibited last night, you can watch mine."
Bryna looked down at the corpse at her feet. She did not want to end up like that. She would one day see her brother again. "Okay, Hagan, tell me of our tribe of people, the Namon."
Hagan smiled and nodded.