For a school project. Any comments before Thursday, June 9th with constructive crits, spelling, and grammar corrections would be appreciated and incorporated. I don't know what led me to write this little story as my assignment (although it's a lot longer than it was supposed to be (7 1/2 pages rather than the 3-4 assigned)), but I'm quite glad I did. Enjoy, text version follow this sentence. Contains slavery and sexual themes ************** K’hiit looked up from his legs as the clay plate shattered on the cold stone floor in front of him. The food, if what they gave him could be called food, splattered across both the floor and his feet. The guard sneered. “Enjoy the meal, cat.” The sneer turned into a smile as he talked. “You deserve it for all your hard work today.” The guard laughed as he walked away, disappearing into the darkness of the corridors. K’hiit turned his head away from the mess, ignoring it as long as he could. His stomach won out, and with a sigh he ate from the floor what food wasn’t completely filthy before bending to lick clean his feet. Moving in his natural rhythm he progressed up his legs and just as he started on his groin he heard the clang of metal on stone to his right. In a moment, he sprang across his cell, hissing at the sound. “Whoa! Whoa! Easy now, big guy, easy now. I’m not here to hurt you.” Hesitantly, K’hiit lowered his guard and looked quizzically at the source of the voice. What before he had mistaken as a large mound of scales, fish maybe, was resolving into a humanoid form. It was large; lizard like, with two wings folded close and locked in linen sacks. The pale light of the full moon from the high window sparkled on the scales, but reflected no colour. A half-dragon. “Well, well. Never seen one of you cat-men,” the half-dragon paused, “lion-men,” he paused once more, “D’haki, right?” K’hiit nodded. “Yes. Us D’haki usually stay to ourselves, and when we don’t, we’re usually welcomed. We make good guards, guides, and warriors.” The half-dragon chuckled slightly. “Well, you chose the wrong city. Lar’Danu doesn’t like any of us ‘lesser species’. I’ve been here about a week, but you’re new.” He took a look at the shattered plate. “You resisted, didn’t you?” K’hiit nodded. “Well, don’t. It’s not smart. They just beat you and dump your meals on the ground.” The half dragon looked K’hiit up and down slowly. “Well, at least they let you keep your loincloth.” For the first time, K’hiit noticed that the half-dragon was naked. Seeing the lion-man’s attention, the reptile turned his body away. Blushing, K’hiit forced the conversation on. “What happened to my stuff, anyways? What’s happening to us?” The half-dragon went silent, his gaze was nervous. “It’s the slave trade. People in this area may hate us, but they love to own us as slaves. If you’re lucky, you’ll get your clothes back. Those are the nice ones. If you’re not lucky, you may end up dead in the arena, or wishing that you were. Either way, get used to the idea. You’re a slave now, and you will be until you die.” K’hiit whimpered. Sensing the fear, the half-dragon quickly changed the subject. “What’s your name, anyways? I’m Sirius.” K’hiit looked up and mumbled, “Slave.” Sirius looked taken aback, then slightly angry. “Now hold on, they may take your freedom, but don’t give up on yourself. They can’t take your name away from you!” K’hiit shook his head. “No, ‘Slave’ is my name, in your tongue, anyways. In D’haki it is K’hiit. Slave is good name, means one who is a child of Whyt, our guiding spirit. Like the human’s gods, but different. I just never thought that the human meaning would ever come to pass. “Huh.” Sirius looked confused, but shook his head. “Well, anyways, get some rest. The auction is early in the morning, and it’s not going to be a pleasant day.” K’hiit sat in his corner, away from Sirius’s cell, and watched as the half-dragon slowly drifted into sleep’s embrace. His mind still settling on what had become his fate, he returned to his rhythmic cleaning, beginning once again at his feet and working his way up his body. He had hoped that when he finished his mind would be calmer, but the anxiety remained. Curling up into a ball, he began to weep softly, and the weeping continued as his eyes grew heavier and his mind farther away. * * * * * “Wake up, cat! Wake up!” K’hiit rolled over to face the sound of the voice. It was loud and bothersome, so unlike the usual morning call of the Elders. He stretched out across the floor, yawning, before tucking his arms back under his head. “I told you to get up!” A sharp creak of steel met his ears just before pain exploded in his gut. Breath knocked out of him, K’hiit’s eyes flew open and he gasped for air. A guard stood over him, his face beet red. A second guard stood behind the first, hand pulling him back by his shoulder. “Stop it. If he has a bruise, it’s coming out of your paycheck.” The first guard grunted and took a step back. With a choking sound, he spat, hitting K’hiit on the cheek. “Now get up.” With a glare, the lion-man got slowly to his feet, still catching his breath. Grabbed on his shoulder, the guard roughly shoved him out of the cell. Sirius stood behind him, shackles on his wrist connecting him to a long steel chain. The second guard, the one who had stopped the first from giving him another kick to the gut, pulled his arms behind him, shackling them together and then to the chain. He pushed K’hiit forward, testing the lock before shutting the cell’s door again. The guard holding the front of the chain yanked it, knocking both the lion-man and Sirius off balance, before walking at a steady pace through the dungeons. As they approached the exit, more and more light entered the dim corridors, culminating in the bright doorway. If he could have, K’hiit would have shielded his eyes form the sun. As it was, he settled for squinting as he looked around. Just off to his right was a large wooden platform with ten humans, some nude and some with simple loincloths, affixed to metal restraints. Some people were milling about the slaves, inspecting them, while others waited in front of the stage, ready for the auction. At the back was a large curtained area, and this is where the guard led them. Behind the curtain stood more slaves. Some were locked in cages; some were already locked into the display restraints. K’hiit and Sirius were led to an empty cage and locked in, still shackled to the chain. “I’m sorry,” Sirius said slowly as soon as the guard had left them, “for what they are going to do to you.” The next row of slaves was being rolled out of the waiting area. The restraints must have hidden wheels. For the first time he noticed that Sirius had only black scales, although the glinted slight rainbows in the sunlight. “What are you talking about?” Sirius sighed. “There are only eight more humans here, and then the two of us. Soon, they are going to come for us, and they are going to put of on display. People are going to inspect us, but that’s all that’s bad for most of us. They had another D’haki here last week. What they do to your kind, well, I pray that you survive it.” K’hiit was about to speak as the door to the cage was thrown open. Three guards stood beyond. “Get up, both of you.” When it took them more than a second respond, he yelled. “Now!” Both of them stood, and the second guard grabbed the chain, pulling them out of their cage. The other eight remaining slaves were already in their restraints, and as they approached the two remaining restraints were wheeled away, replaced by two modified versions. Sirius was unshackled first, but K’hiit was too busy watching his own predicament worsen to worry about his new friend. As soon as he was unshackled from the chain a guard grabbed each of his arms, fitting them into slots in the restraints. The shackles closed on his wrist, locking his arms away from his sides. His legs were forced into a similar position, spread-eagled. He looked to his right. Unlike the human restraints, which were straight down the leg, the two modified versions had legs that zigged back and forth, accommodating the digitigrade legs of the ‘lesser’ species. There was another addition that soon presented itself as well. His tail was pulled back sharply and threaded through a hole in the metal bars. It was pulled upwards, locked at regular intervals to his back. Sirius had a similar lock, although his pulled his larger, thick tail down his legs, and holes had been left for his wings to poke through, which had now been released from their sacks. Finally, while the rest of the humans, as well as Sirius, had their heads locked in place, his own head was free. “Now, slaves, here’s how this is going to work.” The guard paced back and forth in front of the restraints. “You will be wheeled on stage and locked in place. Interested bidders will come up onto the stage and inspect you. Not that you can, but you will not interfere with the inspections, now matter what they desire to do. If they ask you to open your mouth, you will not bit them. Any deviations from these rules will result in your torture and summary execution.” A guard took each of the restraints and wheeled them up a ramp and through the curtain onto the stage. The humans went first, and when Sirius passed through the curtain just in front of him, he heard the crown erupt in cheers and boos. Even more followed his presentation. As soon as they were all locked in place, a man followed them through the curtain and took center stage. He was clothed in expensive silks and golds, the reflection of his wealth as the leader of the slave auction. “Welcome, everyone. These are our last slaves of the day. As you can see, we have not one, but two of the lesser races. First we have one of the sons of the infamous Sirius, the black dragon father of over a hundred children. Second we have another rarity: one of the lion-men of the wilds. Both will be excellent slaves, once you break them of course. Obviously, they will be started at a higher price.” The man chuckled, and K’hiit tuned the rest of his speech out. What should he care what the man said, he couldn’t do anything about his fate anymore. “Tell him to open his mouth. He’s not listening.” K’hiit brought himself back to reality with a sharp slap across his face. The guard’s face was inches away from his own. “Do what you’re told, slave!” The man the stood in front of K’hiit as young, no past his mid twenties. His clothes, however, were extravagant. He was tall and dark, his hair long and black. He looked bored, “Now, slave, I’ve asked you to open your mouth. Do so before I get cross.” Reluctantly, the lion-man complied with the order, opening his mouth to examination. The young man raised and lowered his jaw, fiddled around with his teeth, and cautiously sniffed his breath. He wrinkled his nose. “He stinks.” The guard tried his best to look apologetic. “I’m sorry, young master, but we only received him yesterday. We didn’t have time to clean him up. “Well,” the man replied, “make sure you do next time.” The young man began circling him. He felt fingers trace up and down his side, his tail was pulled, softly at first and then so hard he roared out in pain, eliciting another slap from the guard. Finally, he felt hands brush through his mane. There was a grunt of satisfaction as the man returned to his front again. He stood there, arms crossed, looking him up and down again. He gestured to the guard and whispered in his ear, to which the guard nodded with a smile. With two quick steps, the guard stood in front of him, still grinning. He raised a knife to K’hiit’s face. He smiled, his eyes, flicking downward, towards the lion-man’s loincloth. A look of horror spread across K’hiit’s face as the guard bent down and cut the loincloth loose. The breeze was cool across his loins. The young man gasped with delight at the sight, coming slowly forward for a closer inspection. K’hiit looked away, deeply ashamed that he was being degraded to the level of a sexual object. He let his gaze wander through the crowd, stopping when he noticed somebody staring back. It was an elderly lady, staring intently, not at him but at his eyes. Disturbed, he moved his gaze onwards, only returning it to the stage when he felt the man’s ministrations end. He had stood back, once again talking to the guard, who again was smiling. It did not bode well. The leader of the auction once again returned to the center of the stage and everybody quickly cleared off, many of them looking anxiously at their prospective slaves. K’hiit looked quickly away when he saw the young man with his eyes focused solely on him, and again when he saw the elderly woman. K’hiit let his mind wander as the humans were sold. He didn’t know where they went, nor did he care. He was only brought back to reality when he heard cursing. “And the half-dragon goes to bidder five-seven-oh, Mrs. Josephine.” The cursing had come from the rich young man who had made the thorough inspection of his person. K’hiit held back his urge to laugh at the man’s loss, especially to the hands of an elderly woman. If he had his choice, the man would walk out of here without him as well. The auctioneer had moved in front of him now. He gave a broad gesture. “Here we have lot two-five-oh-eight. A lion man from the north. As you can see, he is in top physical condition, and fairly well endowed as well.” The auctioneer stopped briefly to fondle him, much to the enjoyment of the crowd and his chagrin. He quickly continued on. “Now, by special request of one of our most influential clients, we shall be doing something special.” A guard grabbed K’hiit’s head from behind, locking it into a new headpiece. A short metal piece pushed against his forehead, connected by a pole above, not a single piece touching his mane. “You have all seen him with his magnificent mane. Now you shall see him without it. Don’t worry; if you like his mane and can win him from the requester, it will grow back.” K’hiit started struggling, trying his hardest to get his head free. A guard came forward and held a knife to his chin. “Stop thrashing about. If you keep it up, I might just slip and slit your throat.” His struggling died down. He closed his eyes as he felt the guard pull a section of his mane taught, and then pressed the knife down against his scalp. The crowd roared with approval as the guard pulled loose the hair. Silently, K’hiit weeped, tears streaming down his face as the cutting continued. Finally he felt the knife stop coming down, and the guard moved away. Hesitantly, he opened his eyes. With a look of pure glee, a guard came forward with a piece of polished brass for a mirror. K’hiit closed his eyes. He was hit with another slap. “Look at your reflection, slave. That’s an order.” Slowly, K’hiit looked at his image in the brass. Where once his luxurious mane had been, now all that was left was his short fur, little tufts of his mane sticking up in random places. He closed his eyes and cried. “Now, let’s start the building at 3 gold pieces.” K’hiit sobbed quietly as he listened to the bidding get higher and higher. Every time somebody new bid, K’hiit let himself gain a little bit of hope, only to have it dashed by the voice of the young man bidding higher once again. The bidding went on forever, far longer than any of the previous auctions. He looked up once again, as he heard the bidding coming to a close. “Four hundred fifty-eight gold pieces, going once.” The young man in the audience had a look of immense satisfaction on his face, it made K’hiit cringe. “Four hundred fifty-eight gold pieces going twice.” K’hiit scrunched his eyelids tight, praying to his elders and guiding spirits that somebody, anybody, would rescue him from the young man’s perversions. “Four hun. . .” “Seven hundred gold pieces.” The lion-man looked up in astonishment. The squeaky voice had come from the elderly lady, the one who had been eyeing him earlier, and who had bought Sirius as well. It wasn’t only him who was shocked. The auctioneer was flabbergasted, his mouth moving up and down without words. The rich young man’s face had turned a bright red in fury. The auctioneer looked to the young man, who, with a pause, shook his head no. “Well, then. The winner of auction two-five-oh-eight is Mrs. Josephine. That’s all for today, folks. Auction winners, I will see you behind the curtain for payment and collection of your new slaves. Still weeping, although immensely relieved, K’hiit, along with the rest of the slaves, were wheeled once again behind the curtain. Each of them was removed from their restraints and once again shackled to a chain. Once chained, they were led to another cage, each with the name of a person above. Only he and Sirius were left in the cage of Mrs. Josephine. K’hiit lumbered slowly into the corner, curling himself into a ball on the floor. Sirius bent over him and murmured sweet nothing in his ear, trying to placate him, to no avail. The lion-man continued to cry right up until the point a guard once more came to the door. “Stand up, slaves.” The door opened and the guard entered, followed closely by the elderly lady herself. The guard shackled and chained them both with no resistance before a second guard entered, to which the first deferred. “They are shackled and chained, ready for collaring, sir.” Mrs. Josephine interjected slowly, feebly raising an elderly hand. “There’s no need for that. I have my own collars for slaves at home.” It was the second guard who replied, pulling two leather collars from a bag at his side. “I’m sorry, ma’am, it’s procedure. You can undo the collars and affix your own once inside your own property.” The guard approached Sirius first, who struggled briefly before the collar was affixed to his neck and locked in place. K’hiit just stood there, accepting of his fate, although he cringed slightly as the lock clicked shut. The guard handed the chain lead to the old lady. “Here you go, two slave, fresh from the cells.” She nodded. “Thank you.” She gave the chain a tug. “Move, now.” Mrs. Josephine moved slowly through the city, walking down alleys when the roads became crowded, and giving the chain a good yank every time they fell behind. It was a long walk, and the two men were tired and dirty by the end of it, while the elderly woman had managed to remain perfectly clean. Her house loomed before them. To call it a house, though, would have been an understatement. The house was more the size of a small castle, many storied with wings and corridors in all directions. Surrounding the building itself were many smaller buildings, some of wood and some of stone, with grass and gardens for decoration. The entire compound was fenced in, the entry gated and flanked by two humanoid wolves, each wearing a collar of their own, long spears to their sides. They were dressed sparsely for the summer heat. “Cleo, Fang, please open the gates, we have two new guests.” The gates were pulled open, grunts signifying the weight of the steel and how much effort it took to move them. Mrs. Josephine led them in on the chain, and with a snap of her finger the werewolves closed the gate behind them. Quickly the wolves came over to the new purchases, and taking the key from the woman, unlocked the shackles and collars before returning to their positions. K’hiit and Sirius stood still, heads down, waiting for their instructions. The old lady smiled. “Come one now, raise your heads up, there’s no need to be so glum.” Sirius exhaled heavily, a small bit of smoke escaped his lips. “What are you talking about, you old hag! We were just sold into slavery! “No, you were sold into freedom.” K’hiit and Sirius both looked up. It was K’hiit who spoke this time. “What are you talking about?” “I don’t buy slaves to keep them slaves. You ‘lesser species’ are treated terribly as slaves. Sold as sex slaves to bastards like that Kharsid, filthy man that he is. That, or you end up beaten, or dead. I decided long ago that I would stop that from happening as much as I could. My family, they owned a lot of resources. When they all died, I inherited the businesses, and it has made me a very wealthy woman. I like to spread that wealth as best I can. Every ‘slave’ you see here works for me, for a salary, like any other employee.” K’hiit and Sirius stood there stupefied as she continued her little speech, leading them through the grounds of the estate as she did so. “You two have an option now. I have offered this to every person you see here today, and many that you don’t. You can either stay here and work for me, paid, of course, or you can return to where you came from. If you stay, you’ll have to pretend to be a slave and wear a collar, and you’re free to leave at any time.” Sirius looked intrigued. “What kind of work do you have in mind?” She smiled. “You work with whatever you are good at, or we find work if there is nothing.” She looked appraisingly at K’hiit. “Among your possessions, I noticed a sword. Your people have a reputation for being good with one, along with many other weapons. I’m always in search of guards. And you,” her gaze returned to the half-dragon, “is there anything you are proficient in?” “Well, I’m good at calligraphy and illustration.” “Excellent!” She clapped her hands excitedly. “My previous librarian, what a kind soul he was, passed away not long ago, and I’m afraid my collection has been unattended since then. I could always use some help. What do you both say?” “We’re free to leave whenever we wish?” questioned Sirius. “Of course.” “Then I’m in. If anything, it will help me raise some money for my mother.” She turned to K’hiit. “What about you?” He looked at her for a long time before answering. “You saved me from a terrible fate, madam, it is the least I could do to work for you, at least for a while.” She nodded approvingly. “Before we begin, introductions are in order. My name is Mrs. Leorna Josephine. You may call me Leorna.” K’hiit went first. “I am K’hiit, son of Ka’thalo, of the D’haki order Nilth’yolu. “Ah, such a beautiful name, befitting a son of the elder guardians of the Spirits.” She examined his shocked face. “Oh, I’ve had a fair number of your race here, K’hiit, though not all of your tribe. I like to take an interest in the culture and language of my employees. Pity that you almost fell victim to the human translation of your name.” “And I am Sirius, son of Sirios and Mathalda.” “Such a name so similar to that of your father. I’ve met him before, and have given birth to one of his children as well. He has long since left the nest, and would be many years your elder, but I pray you two meet one day. Siblings should know each other.” Lerona glanced down and blushed. My dear, how rude of me! All this time, strutting around the house without letting you get dressed. Both of you, based on the clothing I received and what I witnessed, will need new loincloths. I’ll send a runner down to the market o pick those up. But come, I’ll show you both to your rooms, and you can get cleaned up.” * * * * * 26, Wolf Moon, 3rd Year of the Elder Than My name is K’hiit, son of Ka’thalos, of the D’haki order Nilth’yolu, and this is my story. Not all stories end in happiness, and none are free from tragedy, but mine is not one of sadness, or happiness, but one of hope. Sirius and I were rescued from our terrible fate, and our savior has been kind. We are friends now, as we are friends with all the other men and women Leorna has saved. None of us wear the binds of slavery inside her house, although a few of us, like the guards, do wear the collars. They are our mark. To those outside, they see the collar and think slave. It’s okay, that’s what we want them to think. They leave us alone when they see the collar. To us, however, they are not the mark of slavery, but our mark of freedom. The freedom to live how we want. The freedom to run, and play, and mate, and to one day, when we feel we must, the freedom to leave. She knows we all leave eventually, and she knows that once we do, we can never return. It has been two weeks since our rescue, and thing are well. Sirius and I get along better than we could have ever thought possible, and I am not alone in my tribulations. There are two dozen of my tribe-mates here as well, our own little pride. Together we worship and keep our spirits high in our songs. I have taken well to my task, I guard and guide Leorna on her sojourns into the city, and especially to the auctions. There have been no ‘lesser species’ on sale since that day, but that does not stop us in our task. Four we have freed, four that did not stay. Another two have stayed and joined our family. Every day, we are united. Every day, we thank the good graces of our lady, Leorna. And so I will keep this log, and I will document my tale. Sirius has offered to illuminate the manuscript, but I have declined. This is my story, and it shall be I who writes my words. One day, I shall return to me tribe, to our nomadic ways. For now, however, I think I have found a home. With Leorna, with J’all, and Ilust, and P’rev, and the rest of my fellow ‘slaves’, D’haki or not, I have found a home. And with Sirius, I have found a home.