Authors: D.W. Jackson
Note from the author
Hello all I would just like to take the time to thank you for reading my book and say that if you have any suggestions or notice any small errors
I can fix just let me know at
I welcome anyone to contact me and let me know what they thought of the book good or bad, as well as what you might like to see in the future. While I may write the book you are the reader and my main goal is to make sure you are happy with your purchase. Thank you and I hope you enjoy your read.
I would also like to give my thanks to everyone that has helped and supported me in my family. The same goes for all my friends in my spades league; Sue, lemon, Muff, Sandy, Shelly, Iris, John, as well as all the others. Everyone has my heartfelt thanks.
As well as a special thanks to my buddies Renne and Magic who have helped me tremendously.
Trying to enjoy what little time he had to himself, Mark gazed at the clouds floating above him. Lately his mind had been consumed with the upcoming sale and his nerves had been on end. His recent fourteenth birthday meant he would soon find himself on the auction block along with many of the others he had grown up with during his time at the academy. Like the others at the academy his mother had saved enough to have him sent to the academy and trained in hopes that he could be sold for a high price.
Mark remembered little of his family, other than he had lived on a fair-sized farm where, from the time he could barely walk, he was forced to work doing whatever his small frame would allow. His mother had been upset that her firstborn was male and therefore being unable to be the heir she wanted. In hopes of turning a profit, she had spent two hundred gold pieces to send him to the academy that was famous for turning out the most sought for slaves in all of the
Queendom. After his sale, his mother would receive eighty percent of the profit and though he didn’t like the idea of making her coin, it seemed she would do quite well.
Mark had heard the Academy Mothers talking. They expected him to be their prize at the upcoming auction. Though he was not very tall, at only five foot eight, he had a very muscular build. Mixed with his short blond hair and his bright blue eyes, he was a handsome and a somewhat imposing figure for someone of his age. He had done exceptionally well in all facets of his training. The Mothers had push him even harder than most of the others and tomorrow he would be paraded among the wealthiest matrons of the Queendom to be sold like common livestock.
A normal slave sold between two and ten gold about the same price as a
cheap horse while academy slaves sold anywhere from fifty on upwards to thousands of gold. The highest price he had heard of in his years at the academy was slightly over two thousand gold, more than enough to buy a decent size farm. From his limited understanding slaves were used as a status symbol by the nobles. Like children they would buy a slave, treat them like a new toy until the next one came along and then they were either sold off or put to work depending on their skills.
Mark hadn’t worked hard for the sake of his mother
, who had the option of letting him stay a free man, but in the hopes of gaining a high position in a noble’s home, hopefully a kind one. If he had to be a slave he would rather be one that worked in a Lady’s home instead of in her fields. Mark also held onto a thin sliver of hope that he would have a chance to escape before he was branded, though from the stories he had heard that was very unlikely.
A dark shadow passed over him and he found himself staring into the eyes of Mother
Elisa. She was very beautiful with her slender body, narrow cobalt-blue eyes and dark brown hair. If only her attitude matched her appearance. She was his least favorite of the Mothers. While most of the Mothers were kind and understanding, Mother Elisa was hard like forged steel and twice as cold. Quickly jumping to his feet, Mark lowered his head, “Mother, how may I be of help?”
Though he dared not look up, he could feel Mother Elisa’s eyes boring into him. “Follow me. Your mother is h
ere to check on her investment.”
Her tone was cold but in it he could detect a hint of compassion as well, something that unnerved him far more than the knowledge of the impending visit with his mother.
Mark followed Mother Elisa into the main building that stood in the center of the Academy. After winding down a multitude of hallways he found himself standing before the Matron of the Academy’s door. Mark’s body tightened and his hands began to sweat as Mother Elisa knocked on the door. The light rap of her knuckles on the solid wood door that sounding like a hammer to his ears. The thought of seeing the person who had sentenced him to a life of slavery so many years ago made his stomach tie in knots. Eternity seemed to slip by until the door opened and Mother Elisa ushered him inside the room.
Having never been inside the Matron’s office before he was amazed by the simple luxury of his surroundings.
It was easily the nicest place he had ever seen. In the center of the room the Matron sat behind a large dark stained desk that was carved to look as if wood-colored roses were growing from it. In front of the desk sitting in an elegantly carved chair he saw who he believed to be his mother. Next to her was a younger girl around the age of seven years sitting in a much simpler yet still elegant chair. Mother Elisa indicated he was to sit in a lower unadorned wooden chair with a small pad in the seat. Though not near as nice as the others, the chair was still worlds more comfortable than what he was accustomed to.
The Matron of the school was an elderly lady slightly on the plump side and with salt-and-pepper hair. Her eyes bore into Mark’s soul. The eyes seemed to hold secrets unknown to anyone else. She visited with Academy students often and had always been nice, reassuring them in a soft and kind voice, but her eyes always seem calculating and cold to him.
“This is your son Lady
Marid, as my reports have informed you, Mark is one of the best students we have ever trained. He is an accomplished swordsman, archer, and scholar. If he brings less than two thousand gold pieces, I will be most surprised.” As the Matron spoke, Mark could see his mother’s eyes light up.
His mother rose from her chair, a large smile sprayed upon her face. She walked around Mark, her eyes studying him intently as she ran her hand gently over his broad shoulders. “You have made me very proud son. At first I thought you nothing more than wasted effort but you have proved me wrong.”
Mark had always been a quiet boy. Never seeing the advantage of angering the Mothers, he had always held his tongue in check and never caused trouble. Now, sitting in the same room with the woman who had abandoned him and literally sold his life away, he could no long hold his anger. “Never call me your son.” His tone was hushed holding only the barest hint of a biting edge.
As soon as the words left his mouth, he felt a sharp sting as his mother slapped him hard in the back of the head.
“You ungrateful little brat! I have given you a chance to make something great of yourself and you dare talk to me like some worthless whoreson.” Her words came out in a venomous tone punctuated with continuous slaps.
Seeing nothing more coming from her son and no reproach from the Matron, she let out a light “Humph….” and left the room with the little girl following quickly behind her. As soon as the two were well gone, the Matron politely dismissed Mother Elisa, asking her to attend to her other duties. Mark was now alone in the room with the elderly lady.
The matron walked around her desk slowly coming up to his side and lightly placed her hand on his shoulder. “Did you know, Mark, my great grandmother started this school to fill the need for well-trained slaves? She saw a need and fulfilled it like any good merchant, even though she never truly believed in it. That is the reason we are on the border with Rane where all my children have been born and are able to live in freedom. I myself agree with you. That woman has little or no right to call you her son, but don’t let it make you bitter and ruin your chance to find yourself a good place in the world. You are a slave, that cannot be changed. But you can be a prized slave, treated better than almost any other man in the whole Queendom. It is not the best solution, true. But it is the best I can offer you.”
Looking up, the Matron’s eyes no longer seemed cold but radiated something akin to sympathy. Mark let out a heavy sigh as the weight and truth of her words hit him fully. “I have known that for years Matron and have tried as hard as I could to assure myself a good place. But seeing her just broke something in me. I give you my apologies for my actions, and promise I will be in my best form tomorrow.” He could hear the catches in his voice and feel the tears that threatened to run from his eyes.
The matron gave a slight laugh. “No worries son, I am not upset with you. More than once have I have had to fight back words that I desperately wanted to tell some of these so-called mothers.” She waved toward the doorway smiling brightly, “Now enjoy the rest of your day and try your best not to let that woman bother you.”
Mark made his way toward his dormitory, one of the five on campus. Though surrounded by high walls and guards, Mark’s life was fairly comfortable. The school gave privileges depending on your rank within the Academy. Ranks one through ten lived in the group dorms with little space, ranks D and C lived in four main rooms in the nicer private dorms. The very few A and B ranked students the Academy produced had rooms to themselves. This elite few had other benefits as well, such as better food and more free time. But the best benefit as an A ranked student, Mark was allowed to study what and when he wanted for the most part.
Once inside his room he looked around at the spartan conditions that were the majority of his world. His small bed a desk covered in books and his practice sword were the only things in his room with the exception of the small chest at the foot of his bed that held his few changes of clothes. Picking up Paradox of Logic, Mark began reading and worked through some of the mental exercises he found rewarding until he grew tired enough to sleep.
The next morning started with an extravagant feast for all those who would be sold at auctio
n. After a short word from the matron their assignments in the day’s challenges were handed out. The Academy had sent out a full listing of available slaves with their overall ranking and skills to all the major buyers. Sword bouts were to be held between different stages of the auction for the bidders entertainment.
There was a sparring bout held to display the relative skills of the first sixty-two slaves before they were auctioned. Two bouts were held of the twenty-one C and D ranks to not only display their skills but to entertain the buyers. Lastly, the five rank A and B rank students were to commence their bouts. An electric charge could be felt in the air as the final contest was announced. It would be Mark against
Saru, the only other A rank student currently up for sale. The young men were also informed that it was not uncommon for some of the more serious patrons to have their own fighters challenge the students.
After their meal all the students were ushered to the waiting area where arriving patrons could examine and speak with them before the start of the auction. It didn’t take long for patrons to start filtering through the room and most of them stopped to speak with Mark, their questions quick, to the point and utterly forgettable. The room was abuzz with excitement though Mark couldn’t seem to get himself as excited as many of the other students. Then the atmosphere changed suddenly. The room was silent and empty of patrons when heavily armed men marched through the door placing themselves throughout the room in positions that would allow them to quickly reach any student in case of trouble. After the initial shock of seeing the guards, Mark allowed himself to study them closer, noticing the double moon crest on their chest plates and tattooed on their faces. He knew that either the queen or one of her representatives would soon be visiting. It was not a thought he relished.
Mark’s curiosity was soon sated. From the corner of his eye he could see a tall beautiful woman in a form-fitting dark blue dress. The color of her hair was the most fascinating thing about her. It was a deep crimson red and laid around her shoulders like a mantle of low burning flames. The sight of her brought more than a small reaction from his body. A few second later he noticed a younger girl walking proudly next to the queen. She was almost like a miniature copy of the queen, but where the queen’s face was demure and serious the girl’s was radiant. She looked a few years younger than Mark not yet coming into womanhood but she promised to blossom into a rare beauty.