Shed No Tears
By the time Kast Marona stepped into the cell to look over his latest purchases, the slave Bryna had disappeared. She was the corpse in the corner, covered by a shabby blanket. The slave Kast roughly checked over was Brian, brother to Hagan, and tribe member of the Namon.
Brian did not flinch as rough hands checked his teeth and his arms. Though he was beginning to feel an awful lot like a horse. Hagan had told him that Nomans where famous for their courage and their refusal to cry out, no matter how harsh the treatment. Brian just hoped he could live up to the ideal. Because if he could not, then he probably would not be living for very long.
"Kind of on the wimpy side aren't you?"
"Brian is my brother, Master. He will do twice the work of any man in this room."
Kast's eyes moved off Brian and to the one that spoke beside him. "Hagan, it has been a few years. So this is your brother . . . another one of those . . . what do you call it, Namon?" Kast grinned. "Good, you always were a good worker . . . how come I traded you?"
"You lost me in a game of toss stones, Master."
"That's right, well, welcome home . . . I hope your baby brother is just as good as you are."
"Better," Brian answered.
That caused Kast to laugh and he moved his way down the line of slaves.
As soon as Kast had departed Brian received a blow to the side by the elbow of his "brother".
"I told you to keep your mouth closed!" Hagan whispered. "You sound like a girl."
"Duh . . ." Brian thought silently to himself.
Brian took a moment to study his soon to be master. Kast was a big man; he was probably only a few inches taller than Brian but body mass of at least three of him. And Brian had no doubt very little of the weight was fat. Kast was hard to look at, if the huge burn on the side of his face was not enough to make you avert your eyes, the eye without sight, did. Kast was blind in one eye.
By now Kast had finished his tour of his new merchandise. The guards led the group out to the courtyard. It was early morning and there was little traffic. The slaves were lined up in five rows of ten. Kast then walked back down the lines with a small smile on his face. "I'm sure most of you know who I am . . . for those that don't I'm Kast Marona, but you can call me Master. For some of you this is old hat and you know what to expect." He glanced over at Hagan, who nodded slightly. "Other of you, have never been in this situation before, so let me enlighten you. I own you . . . some people might think that this is wrong, to own another human being, but you are no longer considered human. You are slaves. If I want to kill you . . . I can. That is my god given right."
"Wonder what god gave him that right?" Brian thought silently to himself.
"Now everyone hold out your arms in front of you."
Brian did as he was told. It was then that he noticed the manacles on Hagan's wrists. The guards moved down the rows of slaves and locked similar bonds on the wrists of men who did not have them. Brian flinched slightly when his were clamped into place. They were tight but Brian thought he could live with them, at least he hoped so because it was going to be a long time before they came off. He studied the "jewelry" they were iron with a small loop on the under side, probably for chains when they were on the move.
"I can't do this!" Brian cried out silently.
A warm hand enclosed his. "You can do this . . . you're strong."
Brian nodded and freed his hand a moment before Kast turned to face him.
"Hey, Namon, you're a tough breed of men. How about if I start with you?" Kast went on without an answer. "Who am I?"
"Master," Brian answered.
"And who are you?"
Brian only hesitated a second, "yours"
Kast nodded his approval. "And since you're mine, I don't want anyone to forget."
Hagan reached over and quickly opened Brian's shirt. Not enough to show the bindings but enough to bare one shoulder. Brian already decided last night to trust Hagan so he did not flinch from the invasion. Kast smiled. "Oh, I see you remember this part, Hagan." Then he motioned for Brian to step to the front of the group. With little choice Brian did as he asked. "Down on your knees, boy." Brian dropped to his knees, coming face to face with the ugliest dog he had ever seen. The dog sniffed him over but a sharp command from Kast caused the brute to move back.
The slaver stepped over to a burning fire. Out of the coals he brought up a large steel rod, at one end was a blazing brand. Brian looked up at Hagan. The cold eyes that started back taunted him and the words that were spoken the night before rang in his head, "shed no tears."
Kast was still grinning as he stepped toward the kneeling slave. Brian focused his attention on the rising sun, refusing to look at the smoldering brand. "As I said before, boy, you're mine and will always be mine."
Then flaming metal found naked skin. The stench of burning flesh filled the early morning air. Brian's fingernails dug into his palms. He could feel the blood trickle down between his fingers. However, his face was like granite, not even his eyes twitched, as Kast made his claim. After an eternity, the smoldering rod was removed but the flesh still burned.
Brian stood up slowly and placed his ragged shirt back on his shoulder. Then his eyes met Kast's stare and within the twisted flesh of the slaver, the young slave saw a flash of respect. "You'll do, Namon," Kast said with a nod as he turned away.
Standing beside Hagan, Brian's gaze was still locked on the rising sun. All around him slaves cried out in pain and anger as Kast made his way down the lines. At Brian's feet twin scarlet pools formed as droplets of blood fell from his clenched hands.
"Shed no tears," he said silently. "I shall shed no tears."