The Terrapenta Project
The Terrapenta Project is now available on Amazon Kindle. More information to follow.
Observing Terrapenta - The Slave Sale
Observing the Slave Sale – Lissa does not appear in ‘The Terrapenta Project’ but here she is a witness to a scene which takes place in the book:
Lissa sat on the balcony, her tiny baby in her arms, sleeping at last after a troubled night with the fever. It was a cold morning and the young mother had slept little as she held her child, dabbing a cool cloth on her face to try reducing the high temperature. She’d been told to keep the baby in the fresh air and out of the stuffy single room on the upper floor, rented from the building owner. She hated that squalid place with its straw filled mattress barely big enough for her and her partner, Samil. There was even less room now that the baby had arrived, and with hardly enough King’s Coins coming in from Samil’s work as a blacksmith in the lower reach, there was little hope for anything better.
To make matters worse, there were to be even more mouths to feed and jobs taken with another influx of Offerings due that morning. She’d known from the previous night when the orange mist had fallen, a sign from the Gods they had gifts to send. They weren’t gift Offerings for the likes of her, Samil and baby Lexia, they’d get nothing from the new arrivals, they never did.
When she heard the racket down the street in the market square as the sun rose, she leaned forward in her position on the short balcony, at least she’d have something to watch while she held her child and comforted her in her troubled sleep. The orange mist was gently lifting and she found a stale crust from the day before to nibble at to quell her aching hunger. By mid-morning, she could hear the excitement from the square as, whoever the Offerings were, they were close to being presented to the prospective buyers.
She leaned forward a little more to get a better view, but the square was down the narrow street to her left and she could see only the back part of the stage. When the auction began, the voice of the slave trader was loud enough for her to know he was speaking, but the words he spoke were muffled. She caught a glimpse of the Offering, just a single girl this time, she was blonde and wearing the orange dress and white shoes given to her by the Gods, it was all the belongings she had. It was only when the sales took place that Lissa felt there were others worse off than her. Born in Terrapenta, she was thankful she’d never been an Offering, to suffer the humiliation of being sold in the market square like an animal.
The noise seemed unusually raucous today, like there was arguing going on, even a brawl, if only she had a better view. Next, some people came onto the stage and the Offering girl was pushed back in the scuffle that followed. The shouting increased and some people ran up the street past the stalls beneath Lissa’s balcony, they were escaping whatever was happening. She would have called out to ask what was going on except she may awaken her child. It looked as though the City Guard had been called as she watched the chaos.
When she saw the Offering leap down from the stage unseen by the slave trader, Lissa stood up taking care to hold on tightly to Lexia. The blonde girl ran up her street hiding behind each of the stalls in turn, looking back frequently to check she was not being followed. The girl was close to the balcony now and had noticed a stall of dresses and woollen coats. She had a quick look round, but not up to where Lissa watched, before taking a dress from a hook and running away. The stall holder hadn’t noticed, he was too busy watching the square, probably hoping the riot didn’t come his way.
When Lissa looked again for the Offering, she’d gone, disappeared further up the street somewhere, and deeper into the city. She wasn’t going to tell the stall holder he’d just been robbed by her, if she was caught, who knows what they’d have done to her. If she could avoid capture until the third dawn, she’d be declared free by the high priest, but free to do what? She’d have nowhere to live, no coins, no food, having to scavenge just to survive. She’d probably end up as a slave in the mountain.
Lissa sat down on her chair as everything went back to normal, she looked at her tiny baby who gave a rasping cough, she needed medicine. Samil wouldn’t be home until the sun fell, she would have to hope he’d bring enough coins to buy something to help her, even if it meant they could eat only bread for a week.