Votes are in and choice 1, won! Just remember, (if this is what you voted for) this is what you choose. Also, choice 1 won for the prologue as well!
I do want to note this chapter is quite violent. I would recommend to avoid reading it if you’re under 14 years old.
As with the last chapter, this one has two choices at the end which require your vote. I understand people had complications voting last time. Thank you for continuing to read and support me as I work out the kinks.
Because of the complications last week, I am giving two options for voting this week. You can either comment below with your vote, or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. In the subject line, please put “Prince of Slaves vote.
Voting closes at 11:59 PM Central Time on Saturday September 28th! Vote before then!
I want to thank all of you again for enjoying Prince of Slaves and helping me develop my writing.
Without further ado,
Prince of Slaves Chapter 2
“Now my prince,” Ideara smirked and stroked Listross’s beard. “How do you plan to free us?”
The red welt on Emmya’s cheek caught Listross’s eye. He wouldn’t see her or any of the other children here suffer any longer. The time for change was now.
“We attack tonight. While they sleep.”
“Were there any weapons in that chest?” Flouth takes a bite of his soup, the usual glint in his eye.
“No, but we have Grandmother’s cooking knife.”
He laughs. “One knife and seven masters. Sounds like good math to me.”
“That is your prince, Flouth.” Grandmother’s eyes were closed.
He rolled his eyes and continued to devour his soup.
“Everyone eat and rest,” Listross commanded. “And ready yourselves to attack.”
He set his bowl of soup to the side and scratched his beard.
“It is possible.” Ideara smiled at him.
He nodded. “I’m going to take a walk. I need to think.”
He set the crown back in the crate before heading into the cooling night. Both Ideara and Flouth were right. It was possible to defeat those in the manor, but he needed a plan. As he walked, he whispered to himself, formulating his idea.
Only when he had run through the strategy four times, did he decide to tell the other slaves. Even then, they waited another two hours before implementing; until the moon was just past its highest point.
He slipped the crown back upon his head. It was a heavy reminder of the authority he now carried.
Listross called the eleven men to him.
“This is what we’ll do.” Listross looked into the eager face of each man. “Six of us will enter from the front and six from the back. Then we’ll divide into teams of two. Each pair is in charge of one master or mistress.”
Flouth cleared his throat. “But that’s only six pairs and there are seven masters.”
“Master Carbore is the youngest and will, therefore, be the easiest to take out. We’ll save him for the end.”
“How are we going to, you know?” Grink, a middle-aged slave with a pronounced jaw, frowns.
“I collected large stones.” Listross swallowed back bile. “Just keep hitting until you see blood.”
The group exchanged silent glances.
Flouth shook his head and marched to the pile of stone. He hefted the largest one above his head. “For Prince Listross and our freedom!”
The others watched him, calculating.
Grink grunted as he pushed passed two of the younger men. “For Prince Listross and our freedom!” He hefted a rock next to Flouth’s.
One by one, the other’s picked up stones and held them aloft. Each one proclaiming, “For Prince Listross and our freedom.”
Listross bent down and grabbed the last stone with his left hand and held the knife in his right. “Let’s go.”
The group jogged to the manor house.
“Be as quiet as possible until you attack.” Listross gripped the knife tighter. “The group that goes around back will take care of the four younger masters sleeping on the first level. The group that enters through the front will handle Jorick and the head master and mistress.”
At the side of the estate, Listross pointed to six men and motioned for them to go around back. He sent Flouth with them, whispering to divide the men into pairs before entering.
They obeyed, and Listross picked out partners for his group. He kept Grink as his partner. Listross waited a few moments listening to the crickets and his heartbeat.
The click of the back door broke through the silence. Listross yanked the front door open and charged up the stairs. He trusted the group of men to follow.
Jorick stood at the top of the stairs in his nightwear, wide-eyed. “What–”
Before he could finish the rest of his sentence, Listross shoved the knife through the bottom of his chin.
Jorick pushed Listross as he made a glottal warning cry.
Listross bumped into Grink. Grink slid his foot back to steady himself and Listross but tripped the next man who tumbled to the bottom of the stairs. Listross dared a brief glance. With an arm and leg twisted at wrong angles, the man lay motionless.
Jorick screamed as he ripped the knife from his chin, and a female scream echoed from the first level.
“What is going on?” The head master, who just recently started using a cane, poked his head through the doorway, holding out a candle.
Grink didn’t waste a second and bashed Jorick’s head with his rock. Three quick strikes and he was down.
Listross heard one of the other slaves lose his dinner behind, and more screams filled the lower level.
The head master locked terrified eyes with Listross for a moment. Listross kept his gaze as he bent and picked up the knife from the oldest son’s limp hand.
“Vixil!” The head master pulled himself back into the bedroom. “Where’s my sword?”
The panic in the head master’s voice spurred Listross.
With a cry rising from his gut, he charged at the door. Two good hits on the handle with his stone was enough to break the lock.
He pushed into the room and three of his men surrounded him.
The head master stood tall, gripping the hilt of a fine blade with trained familiarity. “Surrender now and we’ll keep your wife and daughter alive.”
In two rapid moves, he chucked the stone at the head master. As planned, the head master deftly slid the sword to guard against the incoming projectile but wasn’t quick enough to also block the knife aimed at his side. Listross struck true and deep.
The man screamed in desperation and swung down at Listross. The pommel stuck about Listross’s ear. He grunted, but the crown took most of the shock.
Grink ran to his aid and grabbed hold of the head master’s forearm, twisting it. The sword clanged to the ground.
It glinted in the candlelight. The reflected flame danced around like the resentment in Listross’s bowls.
The prince grabbed the hilt with a roar and stabbed the head master through the heart.
He pulled out the blade, dripping with blood and pointed it at the head mistress.
She screamed and flinched, throwing her hands up in surrender.
The two other men saw the opportunity and simultaneously punched their stones into her skull. A deafening crack rang out. Her dead body fell alongside her husband.
The silence of death flooded the house as Listross took time to breathe.
A shiver ran up his spine.
None of the raiding men spoke. No one came up to give a report.
Listross rushed down the stairs, careful to step around his fallen comrade.
Crimson splatters greeted him.
He fell to his knees and leaned against the sword.
Five men lay ridged on the wooden floor.
Grink placed his hand on your shoulder. “When they first came, it was worse.”
Listross closed his eyes against the sight.
A distant cry caught his ear.
He scanned the room, rising to his feet.
There were only five bodies of his men. Flouth was not among them.
Leaping over and around the spread corpses, Listross scanned the scene.
All of the masters were dead except for the youngest son.
Another cry rang in the distance.
Listross ran to the barn. “On my heels!”
He pushed the barn door open with his shoulder and blinked against the bright firelight.
Flouth kneeled over Carbore’s dead body.
He panted and dropped the stone to the side. Slowly he turned his head to you. “My Prince, I failed you.”
Tears welled in his eyes.
Listross furrowed his brow in confusion.
More of the barn came into his vision.
Grandmother lay still. A knife protruding from her neck.
Grink ran over to another woman. His wife lay in a pool of her own blood.
Next to her was his fifteen-year-old daughter, her long black hair getting caught in the gash on her neck.
“I’m so sorry, List.” Flouth’s eyes fixed themselves to the back stable. The stable where Listross slept each night with Ideara and Emmya.
He dropped the sword and raced over. His hand trembled as he pushed on the door.
Emmya sniffled and cuddled with Ideara. She looked up at the creek of the door.
Her shirt was covered in red. Listross fell beside Ideara. Her breaths came in short rasps as she held the wound in the middle of her stomach.
“I love you, Listross.” She spoke between breaths. “Keep fighting for our freedom.”
She coughed up a bit of blood and closed her eyes. “Emmya, take care of your dad…”
Her head fell to the side.
“Ideara!” Listross yelled. “Ideara! No!”
He clung to her, peeling her shirt back to reveal the wound. He pressed down against it and prayed some god would hear him and have mercy.
“Mommy?” Emmya looked terrified. “Why isn’t mommy moving, daddy?”
Listross swiped at his nose with his forearm and hugged Emmya close. “She’s resting, my dear.”
“I want her to get up.” Emmya fought against Listross’s embrace, but he clung tighter. “Mommy! Wake up, Mommy!”
“She’s not going to wake up again, Emmya.”
Emmya buried her face in Listross’s chest and wept.
He carried her out of the stable and lay down by the fire, singing softly until they both cried themselves to sleep.
* * *
When Listross woke, Flouth stood by the fire with a wooden spoon in his hand.
“You’re cooking?” Listross scooted his arm from under Emmya and sat up.
“Prince,” Flouth bowed his head. “I found eggs in the manor house. I figured that would be an appropriate way to celebrate our freedom.”
Listross raised his eyebrows but smiled. “Learning respect?”
Flouth smiled back. “I’ve always known how to respect, just no one was worthy until now.
“I’d hardly call myself worthy.” Listross walked over to the calendar wall and marked off the day.
“We have our freedom.”
“The ten of us that are left…”
“Thirteen if you count the three children.” Flouth shrugged. “Included the children, we still have more than half.”
Listross ran his fingers along the wall. “What did happen on the first floor last night.”
“Mistress Lixif was awake when we went to take care of her. She screamed, alerting the others. They came at us with swords. I managed to disarm one and use the weapon, but Carbore escaped. He came here and wreaked havoc as I finished Master Rein. By the time I arrived, he had already done his damage.”
He stood and stretched and looked around at the remaining six men, four women, and three children. They slept soundly except for the occasional twitch or snore.
“Are you done cooking, Flouth?”
“Eat quickly then join me outside. Grab a shovel. We have graves to dig.”
“Will you wait and eat, too.”
Listross shook his head and walked out. Like every other morning in his adult life, he went to the shed and grabbed a shoved.
He blinked back the tears as he walked west to the small grove of trees on the edge of the property. Two large white stones reflected the morning sun. Listross bent down, kissing the grave markers of his two pre-term children. The ones the slave-drivers had beaten out of Ideara.
Tears mixed with sweat as he planted his shovel to the left of their graves. He let his mind wander as he dug. Would he…
- Let his friends and family stay here and relax. He’d have them move into the masters’ house. They would be safe for a few days as he went to the next plantation and freed them. If he was able to free plantation after plantation, he could generate a large enough army to march on the capital and reclaim it.
2. He could take clothes and money from the masters’ house. Enough to get him and Flouth to the capital. Once there, they would plan a small covert mission to undermine King Roth of the Ferronians. He would have to be away from Emmya longer, but he would also get a better understanding of the overall situation Tavalask was in.