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Sian's story part 11 - Let's Talk About Slavery, Shall We?


jfraser

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Slaves are a common sight around Skyrim. Almost always completely naked, save for various implements of duress and the ubiquitous collars, you can find them everywhere, in every town, city, inn, farm, camp...slavery is so prevalent that even questioning someone about it brings about confused looks. I bring this up because we’re about to the point of my first year of enslavement. I don’t want to spend a lot of time on it – the painful parts are too painful and the other parts are just a lot of walking – but, like fucking Bleak Falls, I bring it up because it is important to tell the full story.

 

This is what happened:

 

 After killing the dragon near Whiterun, Jarl Balgruff made me a Thane and assigned a stern Nord warrior named Lydia as my housecarl, which is basically a squire/bodyguard. I guess. Except this squire could out-knight the knight (the knight being me in yet another poor metaphor). I didn’t get to spend enough time with her to get to know her well. Or at all. Not a big talker, Lydia.

 

We started heading to High Hrothgar, as Balgruff seemed so insistent. On a clear day you can actually see the monastery from Whiterun - it sits near the peak of the tallest mountain around. But you have to circle all the way around the mountain to get to the path that leads to it. We chose the eastern path, which follows the river around the base of the mountain. The southern way, through Riverwood and Helgen, is possibly a little shorter, but the pass on that side gets pretty high up, so the weather gets brutal pretty quickly. Turns out bad weather would have been far preferable.

 

At the end of our second long day of walking, we came to a pair of towers with a bridge spanning the river between them. Lydia said bandits often took up residence there and charged a toll to pass. The guards swept it clean about once a year, but it always filled back up pretty quickly. I had a little gold and I just wanted to get this done, so I would have been fine avoiding a big confrontation and just paying. However, when we approached, we weren't asked for money. Warriors poured out like bees from a hive and attacked. We took down four of them and I was ready to run, but Lydia yelled something about Nords and honor and charged into the tower. I felt I had no choice but to follow her.

 

In retrospect, I did have a choice, but I would have felt guilty for the rest of my days.

 

We didn't stand a chance once we gained the bridge. A mage shot ice, slowing us down, and more bandits appeared in front and behind, pinning us between them. Lydia was a dervish, slicing enemies left and right, but there were just too many of them - a large man with a hammer lunged and caught her on the temple, and her body flew off the bridge and onto the rocks below. I could hear the crunch of her landing even over the sounds of the battle.

 

Of course, those battle sounds subsided soon after - without Lydia, it took little time for them to subdue me. My last sight was the large man shouldering his hammer and sauntering back up the bridge; then my head hit the hard stone and everything went black.

 

I remember very little of what happened after, thanks to a doozy of a concussion and liberal uses of ropes and blindfolds. There was some sort of carriage, other moaning bodies pressed together like proverbial sardines, confused flashes of visions and smells that may have been real or may have been hallucinations. When I finally came back to my senses, I found myself naked and shivering in a small cell with other naked people. A murmuring sound filled the room, punctuated by the occasional yell and curse. I pushed myself to my knees and looked around and felt my stomach plummet. I've seen enough documentaries and shows to know a slave auction when I see it. Unbelievable. Where's fucking Lincoln when I need him?

 

You may think you can imagine what it's like to stand naked and exposed in front of an audience of people bidding on you, but you have no idea how degrading the experience really is. Several of the patrons groped, peered, and/or jabbed me in every part of my body - and I do mean every part - and I, bound tight, could do nothing but glare. Eventually they got to the auction part, and I was sold for eight hundred gold. I had no idea where that price stood in the scale, and I didn't much care. I struggled as they led me away but, to quote the Borg, resistance was futile.

 

My master was an Imperial courier. When he first loosened my chains, I tried running. You gotta try, right? I'll tell you this right now: whips hurt like fire and the pain takes days to go away. I didn't try again. He kept my arms bound behind me with some sort of leather contraption that was so tight I was afraid it would dislocate my shoulders. When I spat at him, he hit me so hard I saw stars, then crammed a ring gag in my mouth, which hung open and dripped drool rivulets down my chin. Then he locked me in a cage so narrow I couldn't sit and left me there all night, in the middle of a city filled with staring people and cruel kids. Maybe sticks and stones won’t break bones, but they sting like a mother fucker.

 

I got the message.

 

Don't feed the bastards. They'll just want more.

Edited by jfraser

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