[Nameless Hero - Chapter 23]
The southern region of Kremor was abuzz with activity.
Late the night before, riders from the King City of Red reached out to over a dozen cities, with several even arriving at the second largest of the King Cities, Zel.
Each rider brought with them a single letter marked with a seal with two broken swords on either side of a flying eagle.
The seal of Kaylock.
Within the letter detailed a summence of business on a large scale.
Men were awoken in the dead of night, their meals interrupted, intercourse incomplete. For the Lord of Kaylock had sent down a call in the name of business, and each city reached by his word would respond in kind.
The near twenty meter wide roads leading to Ren were over run with carts and carriages en masse, but a majority of the space was occupied by something else, the bare feet of man.
What the letter of Kaylock had detailed was the express desire of the Kaylock estate to purchase slaves at luxury rates on the behalf of the High noble head, Duchess Silver Argat.
The scene was something that many felt hard pressed to describe as the various slave owners rushed en masse towards Ren. Conflicts rose up over disputed slaves as their stocks grew disordered and confused due to the large number of groups attempting to move at a faster speed towards the city. No slaves made any attempt to flee, the march of the hundreds of armed guards patrolling the sides of the ever moving mass certainly prevented any concept of the word escape.
From women to children, from old to the young, in sickness or health, of slave birth or debt, they all walked the same.
A number no less than twelve, or even fifteen thousand slaves made their way towards the King City of Ren.
As the various traders, merchants, and owners arrived, they were met by the dozens of officials from the Steward’s of the Kaylock Estate, the quantity, gender, and age variety of their stock taken down and organized by the status of the owner and the quantity of their goods.
From there, they were sent to be organized onto the extensive grazing plains of Drazè.
For the larger parties, tents were even set up in advance for the owners to rest after a long trek. The slaves organized in various lines and columns depending on the owners and quantity.
Thousands of armed guards either hired by the traders and merchants themselves, or members of the King City of Ren’s own guard that had been sent out to aid in maintaining order as thousands of slaves flooded the fields.
While the merchants and traders wondered as to why they had yet to see the famed Lord Isaac of Kaylock, they themselves were kept managed by a party of eleven Kaylock kinsmen sent out by Isaac’s brother Redrick.
When Lord Isaac heard of the Head of Argat’s intentions, records state that he merely smiled and gave his consent. But, to those who were with him, and knew the nature of Isaac Kaylock, they could tell what the true meaning behind that expression was.
He, the Lord of Kaylock, was excited to hear about someone else. At that time, some of them had grown so conscious of their previous actions in front of her that they began to question if them looking at her at all would could possibly invite her wrath.
Just short of thirty two hours after the letters had been sent out, the last of the invited parties, Ramnaz, the largest trader from the King City of Zel, arrived with his eighteen hundred slaves.
Soon after Ramnaz was settled in, the sound of horns could be heard from the far off gates of Ren.
Thousands of citizens had already gathered outside the eastern gates to behold the spectacle unfolding just outside the city. Their eyes now, however, were directed towards one of the gates now vibrating at the sound of the Eighty horn blowers, blasting a tune in recognition to the arrival of someone of great import.
The traders who heard the noise from afar began to gather on a nearby hill to gain a view across the large plain they were currently camped in, all to gain a view of the presumable arrival of the Lord of Kaylock, Lord Isaac Kaylock himself.
The gathered and loose fit crowds around the gate slowly cleared the way, and close to two dozen figures on horseback could be seen closing the distance at moderate speeds.
As the host approached, it was made rather clear that the old head of the Kaylock dynasty was not present amongst them. but, just as they were about to lose interest, someone recognized one of the two lead figures. Apparently the First Princess was among the riders. Just as the present men atop the hill heard that, their attitudes to the current situation suddenly peaked with anticipation.
Just how much could they earn today…
The party of riders reached the central gathering post where the new arrivals had been directed to in order to register their stock. While the gathering post sounded rather extravagant, it was a circle of wooden tables nearly fifty meters in diameter. In the center was a gathering of moderately sized chests, presumably filled with paper work with one or two holding coins. The only thing that truly stood out was the near two hundred guards, each holding a banner-post with the Kaylock crest adorned to them. These flags were what gathered the early arrivals.
There would have been flags adorned with the Argat house’s crest, however, there simply was not enough notice to produce them with suitable materials. Cotton simply would never do for a High Noble house’s banner!
A woman in silver who was riding the horse adjacent to the Princess was now pointing to various locations, twice at the hill where the dozens of traders had now gathered. After she finished saying whatever she had been saying, roughly thirty of the attendants within the post rushed out.
One eventually made his way to the hill wherein the present merchants and traders discovered the reason behind the movement.
The head of the High house of Argat, Duchess Silver and the First Princess were calling the various owners to gather.
The hero and Sophia were mounted in full dress before the gathered men, each traders of their own kind, yet that was the very reason they were here.
The variety of expressions worn by the gathered men could easily be counted on one hand.
Various stages of whelmed
It was rather clear from the start that the gathered men were certainly not decent men, though the very concept of making a living off of selling another human normally would serve to make that much obvious.
Another observation, not a single woman trader had been among them. Though the tendencies of the Kremor Kingdom was often regarded as being rather Cognatic in nature, men still dominated most industries. Even so, out of the some odd hundred traders, not a single one was a woman. Perhaps there simply were none that were within the range of the riders.
Seeing that a majority had arrived, another herald from the house of Kaylock announced the two women to the crowd.
(Jamon Kaylock) “Presenting her Royal Highness, her majesty, First Princess Sophia Lovett.
Presenting the Lady head of the High Noble house of Argat, the Prophet of Light, the Hero of Kremor, and the Duchess of the Isle of Demons, Duchess Silver Argat.”
To the men gathered, rather than being impressed by the various stations and social status of the women before them, they merely viewed them as big fish to be caught. Their eyes appraising their worth, how much they would sell for, and how much they can afford to spend on merchandise. It doesn’t matter who they are, so long as they can afford the stock, and as long as profit can be made. Prophet or no prophet.
(Jamon Kaylock) “It has been established that the Duchess Silver Argat shall pay a sum of 5 Kren per head selected from the gathered stock.
Today she plans to make a purchase of no less than two thousand slaves.
We will begin with the inspection of stock with all due haste now that the introduction of the main benefactor has been established. Please return to your designated zones until the viewing parties arrive. There will be five groups in total, each led by a kinsmen of the Kaylock house that will handle and deal with the smaller trader parties, however, the Duchess and First Princess will pay courtesy to the larger parties and higher social standing individuals gathered.
That is all.”
Just as the gathered men were about to head back, a deep voice called out.
(???) “Just a moment lad, I’d like to hear what our stock’s going to be up to from the lips of the little madam over there.”
Several traders familiar with the man speaking backed away with grins on their faces.
Ramnaz the Tax Enforcer.
Through hundreds of deals with city officials within the King City of Zel, as well as almost a dozen other cities within various noble provinces and demesnes, Ramnaz is able to harvest the fresh influx of stock directly from a large area of different sources. Those who failed to pay their debts, those that sold themselves, or any other common reason under the sun, Ramnaz’s connects let him access almost eighty percent of all new slaves within the area. The total count of his stock numbered almost five thousand at any given time. He only brought the number he brought with him because he felt that with so many others showing up, he wouldn’t be able to actually sell all of those slaves, nor did he want to spend the money to hire guards up to gather up and transport such a large number of merchandise. The man’s notoriety is well known throughout the slaver community, and lesser so the nobility, as his brutal and cruel nature had allowed him to claw his way up to where is is today.
If a piece of his stock became useless, so long as it wasn’t contaminated or sick, he’d just feed it to the rest of the stock rather than trying to fix it. It was far cheaper that way.
The stock, of course, was human slaves.
After gaining the attention of the crowd, Ramnaz continued, arms outstretched.
(Ramnaz) “You see, it sounds just all too odd that a single little woman would actually need this many slaves to keep her company.
May this little La~~~dy~~~ come over and explain herself to these hearty businessmen?
I mean, to call all of us busy men all the way out here without so much as giving us a word of thanks or recognition is a bit rude. Don’t you think.”
When he concluded, his eyes gave a rather vicious glance.
Many of the men around him caught on to Ramnaz’s intent from the very beginning.
Ramnaz had bought and bribed his way all the way up to the rank of Count, thus, he was more confident in his ability to cause trouble for other nobles, let alone two delectable bodies such as these two beauties. So long as he avoids saying anything directly towards the Princess, he’ll be able to avoid all of those convoluted laws they love to use to murder opposition. As long as he avoids her, he should be able to say just about anything he wants to the other one without much trouble. Even if that Lord of Kaylock was her ally, he’s so old that so long as he, Ramnaz the Tax Enforcer, outlives him, he’d be able to recover any loses. Though that old man is smarter than he looks by leaps and bounds, thus Ramnaz doubted that the old Lord of Kaylock would actually make a move as long as he kept his hands to himself.
Though, he could get away with so much more if he really wanted, all it would cost would be an enemy or two, and a few called in favors.
He already caught wind of what this little ‘Duchess’ had done. Apparently, she had caused quite a stir within the Royal Court the other day, and gathered quite a few powerful enemies due to the King taking an unknown favoritism for her. The King and the Lord of Kaylock…. to rather powerful enemies, but both so old that they couldn’t possibly be around for more than ten more years at best. Once they’re gone, this woman’s decline is all but assured, not even the remaining Kaylock house could keep her afloat without their old guard holding the reigns.
If he truly felt like it, he probably could pull that woman within this large mass of men, and let them feast away at her. He didn’t have any personal tendencies for forcing women, but he was certain by just looking at a few of the eyes in the men around him that they sure didn’t have such qualms.
But, no reason in causing such a large stir for no reason, so long as she doesn’t grind his toes, he wouldn’t do anything drastic… but… wow… she really is a treat for the eyes isn’t she?
After a quick pause due to the surprise of such an outrageous statement, Jamon Kaylock rose to defend one of his Lord’s guests. It was no secret within the Kaylock house that their beloved Lord favored this woman without measure, they could tell just by seeing how his vitality revived. It has been so long since they had seen such energy pouring out from the old man, some were seeing the scene for the very first time. For Jamon, seeing this man take shots at a woman who brought life back into his beloved mentor was more than he could stand.
(Jamon Kaylock) “You Rogue!
You dare to speak to a Duchess in such a mannered tone!?
Curtail your vile tongue before someone maims it!”
Ramnaz only folded his arms and lightly replied to the boy, but his eyes felt as if they pierced right through the youth’s heart.
(Ramnaz) “I believe Count Ramnaz of Zel has more than the necessary qualifications to speak respectfully to a Duchess, certainly more than a whelp that licks the boots of a far superior being.
Step aside so the true nobles can talk, or you going to shame your house’s great name even further?”
Ramnaz’s words were knives cutting straight into Jamon’s pride. When speaking to others, noble or common, he was a representative of the Great house of Kaylock, a representative of the Great Lord Isaac… He couldn’t afford to… blunder here…
With a single statement, Ramnaz had disarmed and removed Jamon’s capacity to join the Duchess’s side. Jamon, with apologetic eyes pointed towards the Duchess, backed out of the way of Ramnaz.
After a minute or so of gazing down at the man known as Ramnaz, the hero shrugged and dismounted from her horse. There were several men who failed to even make an effort in hiding their attempts to gaze a glimpse of the hero’s promised lands, but as she had turned her horse perpendicular to the gathered crowd, their desired view escaped their reach. She walked over, though much to their surprise, even how she walked held the airs of true nobility. It wouldn’t be much of a surprise for some of them to have heard the rumors of the apparent commoner who rose to High Noble status through the influence of the King and the Lord of Kaylock, thus they assumed she would be a simple, but large fish to set their lines into.
As she grew closer, the hero began to seem taller to the men. Sure enough as the hero’s legs are rather long in comparison to her torso, the dress intended for the Princess ran a bit shorter on the hero, though this wasn’t much of a complaint to a woman who was accustomed to modern fashion where mini skirts were acceptable. The Hero actually stood a full six feet tall, but even then her eyes had to look slightly upwards for Ramnaz who stood at six feet three.
Ramnaz said nothing, but his eyes and grin said far more than his mouth could, his smug grin and eyes exuding a mountain of confidence bathed in arrogance was impossible to miss.
“You wished to know of my desires…Count ..~..”
(Ramnaz) “Ramnaz, though for you madam, you can just call me Ram.”
When he mentioned the ‘nickname’, he opened his eyes wide, and moved his eyebrows provocatively.
“Is that right, well Ram certainly suits the name of a man who is set in such bulk.”
Without a moment’s delay, the men gathered burst into a chorus of laughter. Was this woman for real? How simple can you be!?
Several of them started having tears rolling down from their eyes.
But, as for the men who were close enough to have followed the Duchess’s eyes, how they moved quickly from toe to head at Ramnaz, they certainly didn’t laugh, instead, perhaps saying that their hearts jumped slightly would be more accurate.
She had a half-crooked smile, and her eyes… were faintly open. Her sexual appeal instantly exploded.. several of the men who saw the situation up close felt their companions grow rather… excited. Though as they truly were of a lower breed, it didn’t take much to gain such a reaction. They simply continued to feast their eyes.
As for Ramnaz, he managed to keep his poker face running in full swing. He wouldn’t be affected by a light offensive such as that.
Though, his current impression of the woman certainly no longer held her as just a pretty face, those actions were that of one who knew how to use her weapons accurately.
“Well, you do know how things often go, why risk the lives of expensive and paid men who can leave whenever they want when you can just use expendable, meaty, brutish ones to serve all of your desires.”
Her words came both swiftly, and then slowly, and softly. Her lips slowly forming the words as her head slightly tilted down, though her eyes still attached to Ramnaz, closely to Ramnaz. Her eyes moved down for just a moment, causing his own to follow, but they were caught up by a certain view. She was… rather close when you think about it… he could almost start to see… just a bit further in…. but~
“Oh… Ramnaz, is there something down my dress..?”
At this, even Ramnaz felt his heart jump. Her words and body language was so drawing that he lost himself, though just for a moment.
Just as he was about to deny her question, she did something unthinkable.
“Let me see..”
She slowly raised her hand to her chest, a single finger raised from her smooth hand. Slowly, the finger slid in down the middle, and slowly parted the cloth out of the way, just slightly so. The cover parted, almost revealing a forgotten land.. just a little farther…
As a man, even Ramnaz lost his words at the scene.
By now, most of the men had gone silent, there was no room for words with what they were hearing.
Jamon, the youth no more than sixteen, had simply turned as red as an apple while Sophia covered her face. The other men who came with the two women weren’t faring much better than Jamon though
This scene… was simply too drawing…
“I can’t seem to see anything, perhaps… you could… Count.”
Her words were like honey… singing a song that resonated within the very heart of man… so soft… ah…
She slowly raised her hand back from the forgotten lands, running the same finger slowly up his neck, right to his chin. She gained full control of his movements, his eyes no longer within his control, they were under her spell. Her lips parted slightly, her breath… was warm..
Her face had grown close… she brought her other hand up to her chest, it was closed, but it was the harbinger that his soul desired…
Her head tilts back slightly, as if inviting his lost gaze back… there was no resistance anymore, as quickly as she came, his senses had been overwhelmed… his eyes fogged over as if entering into a dream, his breath grew shallow, softer…
The hero had grabbed Ramnaz’s throat with right hand that had been controlling his chin, her eyes changed to ones filled with a sense of annoyance rather than anything else.
Having his throat clung to, Ramnaz’s senses rushed back.
“Perhaps you actually thought it was really that easy?
Are men actually that simple? Really, this is all a Count is made of, you honestly couldn’t show even the slightest level of control?”
No… it wasn’t that simple… to resist such an assault as that would have crushed many a man… noble or not….
“Please, a child like you could only dream.”
Ramnaz felt slightly irritated, it had been years since he was misled, and many more since he actually had his emotions toyed with
The men watching the scene fared no better, their faces had long since dawned shades of red.
Thinking himself to have the high ground in the situation, Ramnaz pressed the issue to further bring it to his favor. So what if a woman held his throat, it wasn’t as if he could crush it, or even keep hold if he went to remove her hand.
(Ramnaz) “Oh, the wench herself believes she can cause a Count such as myself harm?
Dear oh me, my compatriots and allies would never stand for such things, gentlemen, would you mind aiding this Count with a small problem?”
The hero’s face was unmoving, but Ramnaz believed, if just for a single moment, he saw her eye twitch. Thinking that he had gotten to her, his face birthed a new form of arrogant grin.
That, proved to be the act that closed the encounter.
Ramnaz felt the weight face from his feat, and in the next instant, the light and scenery around him was swirling and changing rapidly. Then black.
He never knew what happened.
To the onlookers, Ramnaz, the Slaver Count from the King City of Zel, was now face down and folded by his own weight nearly thirty meters away. He certainly was not moving.
The hero had flicked her wrist, thus sending Ramnaz several feet into the air. The force had actually snapped his neck, but since the movements had been so rapid, the damage failed to lead to anything. Catching his leg, the hero then threw him as if she were tossing a stick, his body giving several snapping sounds as his own weight forced his figure to bend far too quickly, his spine cracked and his ribs bit into his abdomen. With a single movement, the large body of Ramnaz flew off.
The onlookers were speechless at the unreal scene, a man shouldn’t be able to be thrown like that…
To bring the men back to reality, the hero clapped her hands twice.
“Come come, let’s get moving, I don’t have the patience to deal with you men dazing off into the distance. I hold the title of the Hero of Kremor for good reason, now get back to your zones and let’s get to work.
Either you do business, or you excuse yourselves, I don’t care. There’s plenty of others to buy from even if you all don’t decide to take part.
[NH Chapter 23 - END]