Choice two won this time! This is the first time the second option won.
I want to thank you guys for waiting so long for the next chapter to come out, but I do hope you enjoy it.
Voting opens today, Monday, October 14th and closes Sunday, October 20th at 11:59 PM. The next chapter will then be posted on Monday, October 28th.
There will be some exciting things coming for Prince of Slaves either the next chapter or the chapter following.
Thank you again for reading Prince of Slaves. Please enjoy!
Prince of Slaves: Chapter 4
“Sire!” Grink stormed into the house.
Listross yawned and rubbed his eyes. He had fallen asleep on the couch reading to Emmya.
They had traveled all night to get back. Thyrin and his group had taken both wagons their old master had owned and loaded them with supplies. Thryrin argued a bit about his group having to move into the barn, but when he saw the size of the manor house, he conceded.
“Listross, wake up.” Grink frowned at him. “Someone’s coming.”
Listross sat up, alert. “Who?”
“Not quite sure, but Bolfreed and I were scouting, and saw them in the distance.”
“Them? Go get a closer look, but don’t get caught.”
Grink spun and left, leaving the house to be quiet once more.
Listross smiled at Emmya napping on the couch, then headed out into the field. Before he had left, he had instructed Flouth to keep farming. Their freedom would mean little with no food. The new-comers would be helping soon after they had a chance to rest.
Everything seemed in order. People worked, but with levity in their hearts.
A few of the vineyard workers left the barn while stretching. They approached Listross.
“What would you like us to do?”
Listross scratched his beard. “Follow me.”
He led them to Rawruin who was digging. Rawruin was six years Listross’s junior and considered himself far better looking. Rawruin’s blue eyes stood out against his tanned skin and his broad face held strong features. Unfortunately, he was also six inches shorter than Listross which put him at the same height as most of the women.
“Rawruin.” Listross grabbed the top of his shovel.
Rawruin wiped sweat from his brow with the back of his hand. “Prince?”
“These four are from the group that I saved, I would like you to show them how real farming is done.” Listross smiled playfully.
“Understood.” Rawruin smiled at the group. His eyes lingered on one of the young ladies that had also been in Glasindra’s shed. He smiled at her and nodded. “This will be pleasant, Prince.”
Listross sighed and nodded. He turned to go back to the house and saw Bolfreed running back towards him, his long limbs looking almost like ribbons flailing around him.
Listross jogged to cover the distance quicker.
“You know how you said a magistrate was going to be visiting the other plantation?” Bolfreed said when they met. “Well, I’m pretty sure he’s just down the road.”
Listross’s eyes went wide and he nodded slowly.
“He also has four men in plate with him.”
“Well, that’s less than I was originally expecting.” Listross scoffed, then shook his head.
“Shall we grab our rocks?” Bolfreed looked skeptical.
Listross shook his head. “We might outnumber them, but we’re not trained in war as they are. And these are Ferronians. We all know they are highly proficient at killing. How old does the magistrate look?”
Bolfreed shrugged. “Not more than 35, I’d say.”
“Good. Here’s the plan. I’m going to pretend to be Jorick.”
“Are you sure this will work, Listross?”
“We’ve got to try. If it works, we could keep them from coming around for a while. Get about fifteen people out in the field, tell the rest to hide in the upper loft of the barn.”
Listross listed other men and women that he wanted to help him pretend to be the masters they had recently killed. All except for the head master and mistress.
As he jogged back to the house, Listross concocted a sad story of how the head master and mistress died. He grew sick and she refused to leave his side and became sick herself. She was so weak when they were burying the head master that she just laid in bed. By the time they said their good-byes, she was gone as well.
Grink nodded to Listross at the front of the house, and Listross gave him a quick rundown of the plan. “Take Emmya to the barn. We’ll hide her in the rafters, too.”
“You don’t have much time, they’re just around the bend. I’ve got Emmya. I suggest you get changed and go meet him to stall a bit. “
It didn’t take long for Listross to groom himself and start marching down the road. The rest of the slaves were scrambling about, and those in the house were trying their best to look and act like the people that once abused them.
The magistrate wore a ridiculous hat to notify his station as he sat on a brown horse. Any working man would know not to wear something so tall and awkward. Listross tried to hide his loathing behind his smile as he gave a slight bow.
The magistrate fixed his gray eyes on Listross for a long moment while twitching his jaw. “I am Magistrate Ossillion Yethul III. I am on my way to visit Fairman Skiroje Raughlin. Are you a part of his family?”
“I am Jorick Raughlin, his eldest son. I hate to disappoint you.” Listross closed his eyes and drew to mind images of Ideara. He left out a sigh. “You are too late.”
Ossillion paused. “I understand I’m a day behind schedule, but I didn’t think Skiroje traveled frequently.”
Listross shook his head. “My father and mother passed away two months ago now.”
“I see. I apologize for your loss. Would you mind showing us to your estate so we may speak in a more dignified manner?”
“Of course. Right this way.” Listross turned and started walking towards the house. He smiled to himself and stifled a laugh.
At the manner house, two of the soldiers waited outside with the horses and the other two entered with Listross and Ossillion. Listross held his hand towards the plush furniture in the sitting room where he had just been napping earlier.
“Please make yourself comfortable, you must be exhausted from your travel.”
Listross called down the hallway. “Mureena, could you make some tea for the noble magistrate?”
There were a few seconds of squabbling. Listross gulped. “Excuse me, Magistrate. Women, you know.”
Ossillion nodded. “Why don’t you have your sisters prepare lunch. Part of my visit is to check on operations around your plantation. You don’t mind if I walk around for a bit, do you?”
“Wouldn’t you like a proper tour?”
“Actually, I prefer to go alone. It gives me an unclouded view of the operations.”
Listross licked the back of his teeth and forced a smile. “Well then, by all means. Make sure everyone’s working hard.”
“Thank you.” Ossillion rose from the couch and walked out the door. Both of the guards followed behind him and Listross let out a sigh of relief.
He turned and marched towards the bedroom with the squabbling.
Glasindra bumped backward into Listross. He turned her around and stared at Wanetha, a twenty-year-old woman who Listross considered his sister. Her and Flouth were close a few years back, but he didn’t like her blonde hair for it reminded him of the Ferronians.
“What is going on back here.” Listross glared.
Wanetha cowered. “I’m sorry, sir!”
“Neither of us has ever made tea.” Glasindra crossed her arms over her chest.
“Both of you need to get to the kitchen and not only make tea but lunch for a noble. I know it seems impossible, but we must try. If we blow this, people could die. Don’t let it be on your heads.”
“Yes, sir.” Wanetha tried to sneak past Listross without looking him in the eyes. Listross caught her wrist.
“I’m not going to hurt you. But the soldiers around here will not be afraid to. Do you trust me?”
Wanetha bit her bottom lip and nodded, a slight blush coming to her cheeks.
Listross dropped her wrist and led them to the kitchen. He grabbed potatoes and various other canned vegetables.
“Glasindra, cut off the bad parts and make sure the rest tastes fine.” Listross handed her a loaf of bread with two green spots.
“Wanetha, you used to watch Grandmother cook. Just try your best.”
Listross grabbed the kettle and put it over the small fire.
“Keep working.” Listross poked at the half log left in the hearth.
“We will.” Glasindra shook her head.
Listross paused and decided he’d deal with her attitude later. For her role as Murena, it actually fit quite nice.
He walked down the hall to Carbore’s old room. Arkin, Flouth’s younger brother rested on the bed. If not for the six years in between them, they looked nearly identical. They both had dark hair that reached just pasted their shoulders and a pronounced forehead above dark eyes.
“Carbore.” Listross entered the room. “I need you to go fetch firewood so the girls can make a proper lunch.
Arkin rolled over and stared at Listross for a few seconds then smiled. “I was trying to nap.”
“Arkin, go!” Listross stifled a growl in his throat.
Arkin rose, stretched and walked past Listross nonchalantly. “Yes, Prince.”
“Arkin, any other time that would be funny, but not right now. Our lives and freedom are at stake.”
“We could take them. There are twenty-three of us now and only five of them. Why are you so worried.”
“Go get the firewood.”
Arkin shrugged and left.
Listross stood there for another moment calming down.
The snap of a whip was heard from outside and Listross dashed to the window. Ossillion had found one of the vineyard workers. Listross gulped and ran to the door. He slowed before he left, but still walked quickly to the field.
“Magistrate, that’s a newer slave.”
“I can tell. He needs to be trained more diligently. I presume you don’t mind.”
“Actually, I do mind.” Listross took the whip from Ossillion.
The magistrate glared.
“Lunch is about ready, why don’t you come back inside, out of the hot sun. I’ll take care of that one, later.”
Listross started heading back and checked to make sure the magistrate followed.
“If you insist.” The magistrate frowned. “Overall your plantation’s numbers are up to the king’s standards.”
“It’s really a marvel. So many of the other plantations around these parts have below standard levels of production. How do you do it.”
The magistrate waited for a bit before pressing further. “No ideas?”
“We beat our slaves senseless. It’s easier when you view them as cattle.”
Listross and the magistrate sat down on the couches. The guards leaned against the walls.
“What do you mean by ‘beat them senseless’?”
Wanetha came in and served tea. Listross took a sip and forced it down smiling. “Thank you, Lixive.”
He set the cup down before answering the magistrate. “We just make sure they know their place. You see, as long as we’re the ones with the weapons, they will work as hard as you tell them.”
The magistrate chuckled and nodded. “Now here’s a true Ferronian!” He took a sip of the tea and spat it back out.
“It’s an old family recipe.” Listross gulped. “Quite bitter at first, but it grows on you quickly.”
“Perhaps a glass of water would suffice.”
Listross nodded. “One moment.”
As Listross was filling up the cup, he asked the girls how long lunch would be and looked into the pot.
“This looks like potato stew.”
“That’s all Grandmother ever made.”
Listross sighed and left the woman.
He walked back to the sitting room and handed the magistrate the cup. “My sisters will be bringing lunch any moment now.”
“Thank you.” Ossillion took a sip. “When were you planning on reporting the death of your parents to Baron Tekev?”
“Later this week I was planning the trip.”
“Why so late? You said they died two months ago? Most people report these things within a month.”
Listross glanced left. “The grief hit so strong and harvest season was just beginning.”
“You have a nineteen-year-old brother, why didn’t you send him?”
Listross licked his lips. “Magistrate, aren’t we here to talk about production?”
Ossillion stared hard at Listross. “How did they die?”
“A sickness. My father caught it first. My mother wouldn’t leave his side so she fell ill too.”
“What did the physician say?”
“They requested we didn’t send for any.”
“Did the rest of you become ill?”
“No, we were told to leave them alone so we didn’t get it.”
“It’s striking that in such a modest house, you avoided such a cruel sickness completely.”
“I assume you said your thanks to Emasalal.”
“Of course.” Listross smiled.
Wanetha came in with bowls of soup on a tray. She handed them out to the magistrate, the two soldiers, and Listross.
Ossillion looked her over. “What is your name.”
Wanetha glanced at Listross and bit her lip. “Lixif, sir.”
“Did you ever encourage your brother to report your parent’s death to the Baron?”
“We needed him here.”
“For four months?”
She nodded. “He does the best with the slaves.”
Listross gulped. One of the guards stood up straighter.
“I know it was tragic.” Ossillion placed a comforting hand on her arm. “But could you please tell me about the attack.”
“I said they were sick.” Listross stood.
“Is something wrong Fairman Joricks?”
Listross glared. “I do not appreciate you distressing and confusing my sister.”
“I apologize, Fairman Jorick. Although you really aren’t that fair.”
“You tan when looking after slaves day after day.”
Ossillion nodded. “Now, lovely Lixif, would you mind telling me about your parent’s untimely death.”
“I don’t want to talk about it.”
“Well, would you mind taking me to their graves so that I may show my respects?”
Wanetha looked at Listross and gulped.
“Let me take you. My sister is tired and is still taking the loss hard. Her and our mother were close.”
The magistrate set his bowl of soup down. “Then lead the way.”
Listross walked towards the grove of trees where Ideara lay. Tears started to form in his eyes.
“I’m surprised you buried them back here where it seems most of the slaves live.”
“It’s one of the most beautiful pieces of land we own.”
Listross bent down in front of Ideara’s grave and touched the warm dirt.
Ossillion squatted next to him. “This grave is far too fresh to have been dug two months ago.”
Listross glanced around. The two guards stood four yards back.
Ossillion opened his mouth to call the guards, but Listross drew quicker. Grandmother’s cooking knife dug into his ribs
Listross jumped to his feet as the guards ran at him with swords drawn.
Flouth cry could be heard from the barn as eighteen men and women started charging towards the soldiers by Listross. Each held a decent sized stone.
Listross drew his sword and barely blocked the first slash. The second sent him flying, opening up the wounds on his back as he hit a rock.
He rolled out of the way of another blade and picked up the rock he had fallen on.
The guard on the left swiped at his feet, but he tucked them under him and lept up. He charged at the guard on the right and struck his nose with the rock.
The guard fell.
A blade dug into Listross’s arm. He screamed and dropped the rock, holding his wound.
Flouth threw his stone as hard as he could at the guard. It missed but distracted him long enough for Flouth to grab the sword of the first guard and run him through.
Listross could see smoke coming up from both the barn and the house. He tried to stand, but lost his balance and fell.
Flouth yelled something at one of the other men who started to tie a tourniquet around Listross’s arm.
“Emmya!” Listross wanted to yell, but he couldn’t even hear himself.
* * *
Listross woke to dull sunlight hitting his face. There were blankets draped over salvaged pieces of charred wood. His head pounded and his mouth felt drier than ash.
“Daddy?” Emmya stuck her face over his. “Daddy!”
She fell on top of him, hugging him.
“Give him, room, Emmya.” Flouth lifted her up. “We’re getting you water.”
“You actually had me worried there,” Flouth smirked. “But lucky for you, you have a best friend who knows how to plan for your failure.”
Listross took the glass of water from Thyrin.
He handed the empty cup back and asked for more. After the third cup, he took Emmya back from Flouth.
“What happened.” Listross brushed his fingers through Emmya’s hair.
“The other two guards that weren’t attacking you, set fire to the house and the barn. The fire spread and half of the crops caught before we were able to douse it. Fortunately for us, they were trapped in the fires they set and were roasted inside their metal suits.”
“How many did we lose?”
Listross looked shocked. “We killed five high government members and lost no one?”
Flouth smiled. “Kind of. The magistrate rode away on one of the horses, but he left all his supplies and looked fairly pale. I don’t think he’ll get far.”
Listross smiled and chuckled softly.
“But, we probably only have supplied for about another two weeks.”
Listross nodded. “Give me a bit to recover, then I’ll address everyone soon.”
“Of course, Prince.” Flouth reached over Listross, grabbed his crown and placed it on Listross’s brow.
1.Listross decided that trying to free themselves alone is going to be insurmountable. He needed help. There’s a kingdom to the southeast that has been enemies of Ferroyna for quite some time. Listross told the slaves that they will head there for help and pick up more supplies along the way.
2. Listross was encouraged by their most recent victory. The manor house at the vineyard was larger than the one that burnt down. He could move all the people there, and work on building up fortifications. After fortifications were built, they could send a small group into town for more supplies.