Part 1, Chapter 1) Bruises & Blisters

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The women who take husbands not out of love but out of greed, to get their bills paid, to get a fine house and clothes and jewels; the women who marry to get out of a tiresome job, or to get away from disagreeable relatives, or to avoid being called an old maid - these are whores in everything but name. The only difference between them and my girls is that my girls gave a man his money's worth. Polly Adler (1900-1962)

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(Part 1 - The beginning of a new life.)

Red bruises and dark blisters marred the soft skin around my wrists. It burned under my gentle touch and the ripped skin was aflame. The ropes had been removed, for now, and it was at this time that I could see the damage the coarse thick ropes had made.

After looking at my beautiful riding dress, made of green silk, which had been torn in many places, I could not help but think that it looked duller than a potato sack. My wrists were not the only damage that flawed my normally soft skin, scratches covered the lower half of my legs, dried blood was all that could be seen of my knees, and a large bruise blackened my soft cheek. Tenderly touching my cheek, I traced the black outline. My fingers slowly moved down to my lips where a sudden sting and a tangy taste of blood made me realize that my lip had been split as well.

I coughed from the unbearable dust and glared at the intense sunbeams that fell upon my uncovered mass of black curls. My breath was harder to come by and the back of my throat felt like I had swallowed sand making it difficult to swallow. Turning my head slowly to the left, I realized that I was not alone upon the dusty floor. Squinting slightly against the bright sun, I could make out several forms of men, ladies, and children all sitting in silence with fear in their eyes.

Placing one hand on the wall and the other against my hip, I slowly pulled myself into a standing position. The jangle of metal was audible and a slight movement of my feet revealed why my former hand ropes had been cut. I glanced down and saw that my feet were clamped in metal. Eyes adjusted to the light, I looked out in front of me and noticed the hustle and bustle of a market. Loud sounds floated through the air that carried the smells of cooking and the shouting of punters. Animals littered through the streets and the men of the market shouted out their best deals. My eyes travelled to the place directly below the stage and it was then that I met my fate. I was here for an auction.

I slumped back against the small sand wall and ran my fragile hands through my hair. A slave auction. I had attended many in my life before, but as a spectator rather than a slave itself. I could not comprehend how my place in this world had changed so abruptly. My father and I came to such events often. I used to watch as one by one the items were displayed, the qualities and virtues discussed. At that time, it had been an excitement to guess the worth of each slave, and to be surprised in a man's desire for one where he'd pay an impossible price. Sometimes, when I deemed a slave to be valuable, the bidding for him would go sour and he'd be sent off to the mines to dig forever more.

I hit my head softly against the wall and thought of how my life turned out this way. I was born into a established family, wealthier than most. I am a citizen of the Lydian Empire: not a slave. It must be a grave mistake, an error. I have a powerful family, friends... enemies. I stopped the thought from growing. If I was here by foul means, then my mother, father, and brother would be facing a similar fate, or worse. I remembered how my horse had stopped along the beaten track as if spooked by a creature, before darkness concealed my senses. My riding companions had been there to protect me and had clearly failed in their duty. It was as I sat in the sand with chains clamped to my ankles, that it would not be possible for them to still be alive.

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