This story was derived from a Chuck Wendig prompt. Chuck does a lot of these for his fellow authors and I enjoy the wackiness of his prompts. Here’s the prompt:
DEMURE ELF CLERIC FROM A SLAVE CARAVAN WHO LOST THEIR MARBLES A LONG TIME AGO
You’ll notice when you read the story that I didn’t stick strictly to the prompt but the idea of an elf, and a slave caravan are certainly there. Enjoy.
Also, when I started posting these parts, I hadn’t finished the story, so I have no idea right now how long this will be.
I huddled in my wagon, the laughter and drumming, the shouts of the caravanner men to the dancing slaves, rolled in the small open windows of the wagon. It was too hot to shut them. I pulled the collar of my night gown closer to my neck and shuddered. I knew what was going to happen, probably already happening to those dancing girls.
I rolled out of bed and lit the tiny brazier, putting the teapot over the flame. If I couldn’t sleep, I might as well finish the caravan master’s letter to the next city’s Lord. I lit the lamp and sat down, the unfinished letter on the small table in front of me. The current master was the third I’d been held by. All sons of my original owner. I sharpened the quill. In elf-years I was still quite young, stolen from some elf encampment as a very young child. Even so, I could already read and write in elvish, dwarf and in multiple languages of men. That, at least came easy to me.
The master made sure I was left alone and I was grateful for that bit of courtesy. Caravanners are not the most genteel of men. I made my tea and opened the ink pot. In a careful hand, with graceful loops and delicate swirls, I finished the letter. As I put the materials away in my writing chest, I could tell the night was winding down. I could hear the crying from the slave wagons. It was sixty years of listening to that crying every night. I’d stopped crying after twenty. There was no point to it. I lay down in my bunk and closed my eyes. Dawn would come soon.
“Delia! Delia!” A pounding on my wagon door accompanied the shouting. I jumped from my bunk. “Yes! Yes! What is it?”
“Master Corpet wants that letter. He’s sending a rider ahead.”
“I’ll take it to him right away.”
I was already stripping off my night gown. Master Corpet would be impatient to get the caravan moving. I could hear the camels squalling already and the sun was barely peeking over the horizon.
In moments, I had drawn on my dress, pulled my black hair back and tied it with a black ribbon and pulled on my boots. I took the finished letter from the writing chest and opened the door. Men were swarming around the wagons, dust rising from their booted feet in the sand. Bowls of food and water were being given the slaves, eight wagons full. A good trip for master Corpet if they all arrived at the next town. I did his books as well.
I stepped down the short ladder and hurried to the master’s wagon. He was sitting at a table, meat and mead, bread and cheese in front of him, at the back of the wagon. A human slave girl was being hustled out and back to her own place. Her face was tear stained and she sent me a glance of desperation. I looked at the sand at my feet. I was in no position to even offer sympathy.
“Your letter, Master Corpet.”
He held out his hand while drinking with the other. I passed it over and kept my eyes on my boots.
He read it quickly and nodded. “Good.” He handed it back. “Seal it up and give it to Emil. Tell him into the Lord’s hands only.”
I nodded and turned. Emil would be with the horses. “We leave in a hand, Delia.”
Emil was saddling his horse when I arrived. “About time,” he snarled at me. “Corpet gives you too much consideration.”
Emil hated me. Hated that I had my own wagon. Hated that I was forbidden to him. I handed him the letter. “Master says just into the Lord’s hand.” I kept my head down.
“Do I look stupid?” He jerked the saddle band tight. His face a scowl as he glared at me.
I didn’t answer. Anything I said would be a reason for him to hit me.
“Bitch,” he growled.
I handed him the paper. He snatched it out of my hand and stuffed it in his saddlebag. Emil leapt onto his horse and pulled the reins. The horse reared, nearly missing my head with his hooves. Emil laughed as I flinched then kicked the animal into a run, kicking my shoulder with his stirrup as he passed.
The men nearby laughed as I spun around. I refused to rub the spot until I got back to my wagon. It was already bruising. I made tea, ate some bread and cheese, while standing in my wagon door. Two men were already leading camels to my wagon. Time to pack everything away and get ready to leave. I sighed and finished my bread. Time to fill the water bladder for the day. It was going to be another hot one.
Thank You! Return next week for part 2.