A Slave to the Servants Ch. 18byDoctorWolf©
Thanks to all the readers that return to this story every week. Your votes and comments are much appreciated.
Many, many thanks to Steve150177 for work proofreading. I appreciate the dedication to making a fine finished product.
English is in italics when it appears.
All commentary is welcome.
Please enjoy! DW
My back hurt. It ached like I had been laying in the same position for hours. I tried to move and couldn't.
Fighting like hell I managed to drag my eyes barely open. The world was held in hazy relief, I couldn't seem to focus. I saw rocks and short bushes surrounded by low rocky hills.
There was warmth on my other side and with great effort I turned my head. A fire burned low beside me. Just beyond the fire I saw a sight that made me want to scream.
One of those spider like creatures Nu-reeh had showed me in the caves was creeping up to me. It's bite could kill me; I knew that much. In vain I tried to move, but my muscles wouldn't respond. I managed to rise to my elbows only to flop back and hit my head.
For a moment I saw stars. When my vision cleared, something more terrifying than the poisonous creature was there. A woman was killing the spider creature, and then a second one in a bush. She took them both and flew away.
I wanted to worry, but I couldn't. Sleep was a more pressing issue and I fell back into blackness.
Yelling got my attention and I woke up. My face was toward the fire and I opened my eyes to see it blazing mightily. Someone had piled it high, so it burned brightly. Despite the dim evening sky the area I was in was still warm and bright.
There was the yelling again. I heard men's voices. They were hunting, looking for something. I heard one of them call to look over the ridge.
I sat upright and looked around. I was outside in the place Damien and his Brothers liked to stay. That frigid lake was just in front of me. Several hollowed out gourds sat around me like someone had been using them. Pelts of dead animals were scattered around the place. It looked like someone had been camping.
The voices were nearer this time. They had seen tracks and were on the lookout.
It was Warriors hunting for a lost man. I scrambled to my feet and looked for a place to hide. They couldn't find me out here. I was sure that would be bad.
I remembered a small incline on the other side of the lake. Before I had more time to think about it, I bolted in that direction. The cream always left me clumsy and now was no exception. I stumbled and tripped, fighting for balance. I knew if I could get up and out of the way they may not find me.
This had to be a dream. I prayed it was just a nightmare. I was in the mountains, with Warriors hunting me, and without Damien's family to protect me. My legs carried me with surprising speed to the rocky incline.
There was a place about halfway up that was a small cave. It was too shallow for most mountain creatures to want. Damien and his Brothers had used it to play rough and tumble games. I sent up a silent thank you that I knew where I was.
I skinned my knees and my palms getting up the rock wall, but it was worth it. The small cleft appeared empty and it was the perfect hiding spot. Quietly, I crouched inside it and waited.
There were no more voices now. The Warriors were silent and hunting. Either they had gone in a different direction or they realized what they were hunting was not a lost man. Inside the shadows of the cave I silently prayed not to be found.
My heartbeat sounded loudly in my ears and I wished it would be quiet. The men were close, I knew that much. I needed to be alert and listen for them.
Suddenly figures passed in front of the flames of my campfire. I put a hand over my mouth to stop the scream. They would scour the area now. Why had I not thought to put out the damn fire?
Figures moved silently in the dark and I watched them. I couldn't tell who it was, the moons weren't up high enough to provide much light yet.
I waited expectantly, but heard nothing, then without warning someone leapt to the ledge of the cave and looked inside. In a second I saw my life flash before my eyes. I did what my Damien would have done. I rushed him.
We tumbled down the slope and I used the attacker's body to break my fall. I tried to run but a body was before me, standing in shadows. I stumbled back and my hand grabbed at a pile of rocks and dirt. The man came toward me and I flung the particulates in his face.
It wasn't fair or polite, but I'd never win a fight with a man.
Bolting away, I tried to get to a new hiding spot, but was stopped when I was tackled from the side. Lucky for me the body that careened into me turned to take the impact.
I was pushed hard to the side and I went down surrounded by the solid male form. He rolled me under him and I cursed in every language I had access to. Desperate to survive, I struck out with flailing fists. The man just restrained my hands as his body shook with laughter.
"What was it you said about us?" Bane whispered in my ear. "Something about stubborn, bull-headed and I don't even know what that last word means, but I think it fits."
I sagged with relief into the rocky ground and stopped fighting.
"No," Evan whispered fiercely walking up, "hit Bane, what you did to me was worse."
In the dark I could see Evan wiping his face and shaking his head. Before I had time to apologize Kein's smaller shape emerged from the blackness and Bane rolled off of me.
"At least she didn't use you as a cushion," Kein groused stretching his back. "I'll feel that for a while."
"Kein, Evan I'm so sorry-" I started to say and Bane cut me off.
"None of that," he ordered. "My Brothers will survive. It would be good to fight us now, Ciara," Bane whispered in my ear. "The other men think you ran from the compound during a raid. You are a run away slave. Look at the other men and do anything disobedient you can. Damien will bring you before the General and later we will put our collar on you. Before that happens you should fight us, the others will expect it."
I was very confused, but I could hear feet coming toward us.
"After he collars me?" I asked.
"Subdued and a little sullen," Kein whispered crouching beside us and touching my face lightly, "but follow directions after our symbol is on you."
Since I had been captured, I had to look the part. My hands and feet were tied and I was slung over Bane's shoulder. We walked from my "campsite" into the rough hewn area the men knew as "the caves".
The Warriors were here to hunt for a lost shopkeeper, but finding the run away slave was fun. The men surrounded us and looked at me. No slave had ever lived alone in the mountains before. I was unique. I saw them inspecting my campsite.
As we walked, several Warriors wanted to buy me, but Bane refused. He just walked briskly through the barren landscape. I watched as Damien and Christof appeared to complete the family.
As I had been instructed, I struggled in Bane's grip and cursed him. It took some force of will, but I turned my head and looked around at the other Warriors. On some crazy instinct, I cursed lightly at them. When I saw Evan he nodded at me, so I kept doing it.
Bane jumped onto a transport and the rest of the family joined him. The transport came to life and we took off. Damien pulled my hair up, so he could look at my face and I smiled at him.
"What did she do to you?" he whispered fiercely examining me in the low light
"Not a good time to get that answer, Brother," Christof said and I turned my head to look at him. "You'll notice several transports beside us."
"They are too curious about the found slave," Damien said. "They think the General will kill her-"
"It, Brother," Kein said softly from behind the controls, "we shouldn't forget."
"Ridiculous belief," Damien stated, "we buy females, because they are female and can pleasure us. Once they are here we tell them they aren't female-"
Evan laughed, "We all agree, Brother, but the argument stands."
I had to smile despite my circumstance. It was not a rant I'd ever thought I'd hear Damien utter.
"They think the General will kill IT and they want to watch. If IT isn't killed they think there may be an auction," Damien said.
The transport stopped dead and they turned to look at Kein. He looked stricken.
"We have waited patiently," Kein said. "She promised us-"
Bane turned so I couldn't see anything but I heard him talking soothingly to Kein.
"Little Brother, it was a promise from Nu-reeh. She wants us happy. Ciara will not be killed. Even if it is an auction we have more stones than any man here," he reassured.
Transports swirled around and stopped to watch us. I was really uncomfortable being toted upside down, so I cursed Bane loudly for the position he held me in. It sounded real because having his shoulder driven into my midsection was becoming painful.
"The slave will learn manners once it is collared again, Brother," Damien said loudly. "Take us to the General."
"Put me down," I said with authority once we were a decent distance from the other transports. "Seriously Bane, this is really uncomfortable."
"Sorry, little Sister," Bane called over his shoulder patting my bottom, "has to look real, but keep struggling, you've been perfect."
The term little Sister shut me up for a moment and I looked up at Christof's grinning face. He dipped closer to me and spoke.
"You are family, but we can't call you Brother," he explained.
I smiled and was dumbstruck for a moment. Sister wasn't really appropriate for what our relationship was. They were husbands to me and I was a wife, but those things did not exist here. The intent was genuine and a very nice gesture from them.
We soared through the dark rocky terrain. The men instructed me to continue to struggle, which I did. I could feel the eyes of the other Warriors burning into me.
When the transport finally slowed, I heard the General's booming voice and felt my hair stand on end.
Please, please, please tell me they didn't expect me to act like a brat to him, I thought.
"Damien what did you find?" the General asked as we stepped off the transport.
"A run away slave," Damien said cooly.
The General asked a few questions and noted the tattoo peeking out on my leg. I felt his hands pull the skins on my foot down and the dress up to look at it. He knew exactly what slave I was. There was recognition in his eyes as he grabbed my hair and pulled me to look at him.
"Well," the General said, "did your family find it alone?"
Damien answered affirmatively.
"As per our law, a run away slave belongs to those who find it. What will you do with this slave, Damien? It has run twice," the General reminded the men. "It appears dirty and sickly now. Not the slave it once was at all."
I felt ashamed to be seen like this. Dirty and unkempt, I looked a little ragged I knew. It was embarrassing the General had chosen to bring that up.
"My Brothers and I are strong men," Damien said slowly, "and we enjoy a challenge. We will keep the slave."
A voice broke the silence around us, "They have a talent to track with the sense of taste, General. They have tasted that slave. It wasn't fair," the anonymous Warrior proclaimed.
A rumble of agreement went through the men. My breath stuck in my throat and I felt terror for a moment. Even if Damien thought he could buy me, I couldn't deal with being auctioned again.
"Yes, they do," the General mused and my heart went into my throat. "However, I know how well that particular trait works in the mountains. It is disrupted like all our bonding and tracking senses...No, my boys, to track in the mountains, you just have to be a good tracker. Who found the slave, Damien?"
"My Brother, Kein, sir," Damien said patting the smaller man on the shoulder.
"Well, there you have it," the General said decisively, "the best tracker in the field found the slave, not the Brother with the sense of taste."
I saw Evan's face darken slightly and I knew he wanted to say he had been right there with Kein. I smiled at him through my hanging hair. He saw it and his shoulders relaxed some.
"Collar and tame the slave quickly, Damien," the General said. "The Barcas outpost is not far from here. You may leave the slave there. Keep to your regular schedule," and then the General turned to the crowd with a warning. "No one is to touch what belongs to Damien. If the slave acts untamed around you, report the infraction. All punishment is left to the owners."
The General's Brother spoke next. He ordered the second search teams out and told the first teams to take a break. I assumed Damien and his Brothers were the first search team, because they walked toward the transport with me still draped over Bane's shoulder.
Once we had flown some ways away, Bane lowered me to the floor of the transport. I almost fell, because my feet were still tied. After Christof had cut those ties, I thanked them for finding me.
"A kiss would be a nice way to thank us," Bane said leaning toward me.
"If you can find her mouth with all that dirt," Evan said with a smirk, "I'll give you a stone."
"Dirt doesn't bother me," Bane laughed leaning in to kiss my lips. "I guess it must bother that delicate and easily bested sense of taste you have."
That got him. Evan grinned evilly punching Bane in the shoulder and pulled me to face him.
"You are absolutely filthy," Evan told me before he pressed his lips to mine. He pulled away from my mouth with an awful look on his face. "How much calming cream did she use?" he asked incredulously smudging a thumb across my cheek. "Did Nu-reeh wish you to never wake up?"
I didn't remember and I told them that. As we flew along I explained the last things I remembered was climbing the hill with my burdens. Honestly, that wasn't necessarily today, or even yesterday, though. Everyday they had been gone had been like that.
Damien was livid. If he could have breathed fire he would have. Since there was nothing except me and his Brothers to punch on the transport he was forced to contain his anger.
I tried to soothe him, but when I stepped closer he got a better look at me. That just made him angrier.
"Did she feed you?" he asked in a tight voice running his hands over my cheeks and down to my collar bones.
"Yes, Master Damien," I replied automatically in response to his growing rage.
They corrected me as one being; we were family. They weren't Masters and I wasn't really a slave.
Damien took that stance, with his feet shoulder width apart and his arms crossed. I looked into his menacing face and knew he was fighting for control.
"Explain to me exactly what you did every day," he ordered.
I started to answer him and then thought better of it. "No," I told him instead squaring my shoulders.
Damien tensed and I heard the sharp intake of breath from his Brothers. Free or not, no one refused Damien.
"With your hands tied in front of you and surrounded by my Brothers, that seems like an impudent answer," Damien advised me recrossing his arms decisively across that broad chest. "I have learned many ways to train a human. You will act as part of this family and we do not have secrets."
There was steel in his voice. He didn't want to let this go.
"If I tell you, and it really makes you angry, what are you planning to do?" I asked hotly. "Are you going to go kick Nu-reeh's ass?"
The anger faded and Damien cocked his head. "Why would I kick her in the ass? What possible good could a kick to the ass do?"
"Is that how humans fight?" Christof asked curiously. "It doesn't seem that would be effective..."
"It is a wonder they keep a whole planet-" Evan started to say and I cut them off.
"In my language that means to beat up someone in general," I sighed. "Could you please, please cut this off my hands?" I asked holding up my bound wrists.
"You will tell me," Damien said pulling out a small knife and cutting through the bonds. "This will not be a secret much longer," he said pressing his lips to mine.
We eventually made it to the low building they were heading for. I was warned there would be young Warriors sharing the cabin with us. Damien and his Brothers could kick them out, but they didn't really want to do that. It would be a very rude thing to do.
There would be plenty of space for us to sleep. The bed in these things was typically made so several families could sleep on them. Room would not be an issue.
"These men earned the right to stay indoors on this hunt by their diligence on the last," Kein told me. "It is a rare honor to stay in the outpost cabins when we hunt. When we were young we worked hard for the honor."
"Well," I reasoned, "I wouldn't want to make enemies out of men like that. It isn't difficult for me. I just won't look at them. Odds are they will just ignore me."
I was warned repeatedly we could not talk as freely. I didn't care. It was good to be back with my family.
Damien greeted the young men inside and explained what had happened. They seemed happy to see other Warriors and didn't mind sharing with Damien's family. I got the impression they didn't mind sharing especially with Damien's family.
I heard their whispers as I was taken to the room for bathing.
Damien had trained to be a General, but he chose to stay a Warrior. He felt he served his compound more loyally that way. The Administrators had changed their minds at Damien's request. He must be a great man to influence the Administrators.
In the bathing room I stood at the closed leather drape and continued to ease drop on the commentary of the young men.
"Ciara," Christof hissed filling the tub, "stop listening to them, come and be washed."
The dress I had made was peeled off and dumped on the floor by Damien. He also cut off my "boots" and they were removed. I started to move for the water and was stopped. They were staring at me, all of them.
The rage in the room was palpable as Damien ran a finger across my collar bones and down my sternum. He gently palmed a breast and I realized how much smaller they were.
"Did she feed you?" he asked very softly.
"Yes," I whispered as his fingers trailed down to inspect my prominent hip bones.
One of Damien's large hands wrapped around my forearm and down to the cuff on my wrist. It was so loose he could almost put a finger under it.
"Get in the water," he said hoarsely gesturing to where Kein and Christof were waiting.
The bath was warm and inviting as I stepped in the tub. It also shielded me from their piercing stares, which were making me uncomfortable. Sinking down, I looked into Christof's bright eyes. He didn't speak and just started to slowly soap and wash my body.
I felt Kein fiddling with my collar and cuffs. As he removed them I felt the stirring of panic. My eyes were wide and my breathing amped up as I looked up at him.
"These do not have our symbol on them. These have Rue's symbol," he said watching me closely. "We will put you in our symbol soon."
I smiled and nodded. Of course that made sense, my reaction to it had been so primal, though. Looking at the dirty metal he was correct. Nu-reeh had thought of everything, the symbol on the metal was Rue's.
"I'm going to clean your hair," Evan said softly. "Tilt your head back and let me wet it."
The cleaning continued silently for several moments before Christof spoke.
"How often did she feed you?" he whispered in my ear.
"Three times a day," I answered quietly.
Bane walked from his spot and stepped into the main room pulling the leather drape closed behind him. I heard his booming voice as he distracted the other men in the cabin.