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Author Topic: Cost of Doing Business  (Read 3098 times)

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Offline MerchantDeryni

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Cost of Doing Business
« on: November 26, 2011, 11:29:52 pm »
Cost of Doing Business

The slave collar bit into his neck, and the chains were heavy.  The heat of the slave pit was stifling, and the smell of unwashed bodies, fear, and despair was enough to sicken anyone.  Martin closed his eyes and tried to ignore it all.  He pictured his happy place.  Warm sun but pleasant breeze off the coast, the smell of the grass and the sea in the air.  His mother's laugh as she watched him play in the sun.

   He felt a flicker on his mind, a brush of something alien and cold. The newness of it startled him awake.  He'd never felt anything like that before. His dreams had always been safe.  He spent the rest of the night drifting in and out of consciousness.  He dreamed again, and felt the touch again, stronger now.  He pushed back against it, warmth flared and he woke up.

   The slave auction was callous, and efficient.  No chances were taken with the merchandise.  They were moved one at a time through the chute and onto the stage.

“Young male, healthy, pliant.  Able to work hard. Who will start the bidding?”  Martin tuned out the noise.  It did not matter what he was worth, he just had to figure out who his new problem would be.

All too soon it was over, he was brought to the exit and handed over to a well dressed young Westerner who spoke with an odd accent.  Papers were stamped, money changed hands and he was placed in the care of a very cold eyed handler.  The handler leaned close “make problems and I beat you unconscious and we whip you. Understand?” Martin nodded.  This was the time to wait, learn and look for a chance to..what, escape? Steal extra food so he did not go to bed starving? Fight? Die on his own terms?  He pushed the thoughts out of his head. Eyes down he shuffled carefully after the man and they headed to the Trade district.

   The Trading house was modestly sized, but clean.  The handler took Martin in through the basement entrance.  As they headed away the merchant told the handler; “Clean him up, he smells like a sewer.  Then get everything ready,  I want to get started home tonight, there's no time.  Load the chair and let me know when he is ready.”

   Martin was handed over to a pair of middle aged women who stripped him and bathed him.  The shackles came off, but the door to the bathing room was locked from the outside. They scrubbed him with a firm brush and lathered actual soap onto him.  The shock of it all made him not even think of escaping.  He was handed a clean set of clothes in an odd style and told to dress. The ladies took him into another basement room and he was told t sit at a rough table.  A bowl of watery gruel was put in front of him, and a hunk of rough bread. A mug of watery beer was placed next to the bowl.

“Eat it slowly, if you eat too fast you will get sick and throw up.” advised one of the ladies.

Martin ate.  He finished the food and felt more full than he had been in a long time.  As he finished his meal the handler came back and stood next to him.  He handed him another mug of beer.  “Drink this, and then it is time to go to work.”

   Martin was not going to turn down beer.  This was stronger stuff, not watered down, and stronger tasting.  He drained it and put the mug on the table.  The handler took him to a larger room filled with tables and racks.  One end of the room had a large door barred and locked. In an open area  in front of the door was an odd looking chair.  It was a long wooden affair, with handles jutting out the back and wheels on the front.  A person could stretch out on the chair and be elevated and rolled along.  A shelf was slung under the chair and several large bundles were lashed in place.  Although the chair looked fairly comfortable, there was a collar and chain bolted to the head of the chair. 
   Martin thought this should worry him, but a strange warm feeling was spreading over him.  Everything seemed fuzzy, and slightly funny.  He giggled slightly as the handler had him lie down on this rolling chaise as if he was some sort of lord to be carried through the streets.  The collar did not pinch as he was locked in place.

   The merchant appeared and lifted the chair up and tried rolling it.  “Not too bad, I like the height of the new bars, well done.”

“Thank you sir.” replied the handler with a nod.  “I will see you in 5 days then. Everything is packed as ordered. You have the messages, orders and reports?”

“Yes I do, thank you Kieran.  I would be lost without you.  I will see you in a few days on the regular run. Thank you for everything.”

   The merchant lifted the chair again and rolled it through the large door that the handler, Kieran unlocked and opened.  Beyond the door was an unlit room.  Kieran brought in a lantern and the merchant rolled forward and placed the chair into the center of the room.  The lantern was hung on the back of the chair.
   The merchant brought his hands to Martins' temples and Martin felt the push and flutter on his mind.  He tried to fight it, but his efforts proved feeble and useless. A pulling, draining sensation began, his mind felt like it was being pulled through a very small hole. Everything started to go black, and then there was an instant of light, cold and a dizzying sense of both jumping and falling.  He felt much more tired suddenly, a heaviness in his chest and head.  He groaned slightly.

“Yes, that can be a drain, being used to power a transfer when you are not used to it, or expecting it.  Rest a moment, I have to deliver things, pick a few things up.”

Martin was incoherent for a few minutes, but roused himself enough to notice when others came into the room.  It was odd, this was not the same room he had just been in.  There were different bricks making up the walls, and a different colour mortar.  Servants came in and lashed another bundle under the chair.  The merchant came back in tucking papers into a travel case he had hanging at his side.  He was talking to another well dressed man. “See the new handle? Easier to move, and they even put a hook on for the lantern.  No more jumping into darkness.”

“Very nice. Listen, it's off the books, but if you get a chance to get some of the yellow wine?  I'll buy a bottle.  And I'll pick up some of that nasty red you like when I swing north next week.”

“Deal. Thanks for the orders.  See you in a few days. Once I get this mess sorted out, we'll likely have some special business to take care of.”

“Anytime. Thanks for the perfume, I'll make a bundle on it. See you in a few days Daniel.”

The merchant, 'Daniel' thought Martin, 'his name is Daniel'.  It seemed funny to learn his name when he had bought Martin and fed him and somehow brought him here to this strange room, done all these things when he had not known his name. 

Daniel placed his hands onto Martin's head again, and sleep washed over him again.  His dreams this time were dark and grim, a feeling of loss and ruin.  He woke up later in a different room, different smells, dampness, and a smell of rain.  His ears hurt and as he yawned they popped.
   Martin felt very sick.  He was cold, but sweating, and felt weaker than he had felt in a long time.  He felt like throwing up, but he managed to breathe steadily and the feeling passed.  His head was pounding though.

   One of the new servants said something to Daniel about him, and Daniel came around the end of the chair to look at him.  “Leave him, I'll take us through to the next one, and we'll both have a rest there.”

Hands on his head again and the world went dark.

He awoke some unknown time later.  A young girl was wiping his face with a damp cloth. “Where am I?” he asked.

“Kendran manor.” the girl replied.  She put a mug of beer in his hands and got up and left the room.

Martin had never heard of Kendran  manor, so her answer was of little use to him. Her accent was also very odd, it reminded him of some of the sailors who had come to the port.  He drank the beer.  It was different beer then what he had had before. 'why open two different kegs?' he thought.  He looked around the room, it was different than the previous rooms he and the chair had been in.  A mosaic on the floor outlined an eight sided design that was interesting to look at.  Different walls, the door was different, and a different room lay beyond the door.  He suddenly felt very tired, and the room wobbled.  He lay back on the chair and closed his eyes.  There was a definite spin to the room, to the left he decided.  He put the mug down and held tightly to the chair.

Daniel came back in.  Hands on his temples, and the push into his mind again.  Martin tried to scream, but darkness engulfed him.  He dreamed of drowning, being sucked under a huge wave and not being able to get free of the undertow.  Pain filled his world, but he could not wake up to escape it.  At the height of it, he felt something tug, break in him.  He knew nothing else.

Martin retreated to his Dream world.  The pain was held at bay, locked outside.  He could feel it though, knew things were going too far, too much drawn away too fast.  Ancient knowledge and intuition.  He had been tested, and had failed.  Too much too soon.

When Martin awoke he was in a different underground room.  He was still on the chair.  He tried to raise himself up, but his left side felt incredibly weak.  His sight was blurry in his left eye, and it did not seem to track as well as his right.  The door to the transfer room was to one side, and he was in a room of shelves and tables again.  He looked around blearily.  A young girl was opening the satchels and packages that had been under his chair.  The smell of pepper and other spices came to him.  She was sorting the packages by type.  The table was covered in spice bags and small glass bottles.

When he woke again he was still fastened to the chair.  The girl was putting packages back under it again.

Daniel came into the room.  Martin tried to speak, his tongue seemed stiff and swollen, difficult to use.  His words were mushy. “Where am I?”

“Valoret.  I had to come back for a wedding, bring incense and spices for the service and celebration.”

“What did you do to me?” Martin had never heard of Valoret, it made no sense.
“I bribe the guards at the slave pen.  I scan the new merchandise, and rarely, so very rarely I get a nice strong signal, from special boys like yourself.  You have a spark in you.  And it grieves me to use that spark up so ill.  Circumstances.  I deeply regret the necessity.  I had to come back you see, nobody knew I had left.  So I dashed out to the Spice lands, bought everything that had been stolen from me, a ply to make me look bad you see. And then I dashed back.  You cost me as much as a skilled worker, bidding was fierce. But your spark helped me power a years income back.  Fifty pounds of pepper,  10 of saffron, Frankincense for the Church, the Breath of God they call it.  Politics and posturing.  I survive, and look better for it.”

He placed his hands on Martin's head.  Pressure in his head, things went black.  A screaming nightmare of loss and pain.

Martin woke up, the room was dim.  A large handler was moving the chair down a stone hallway.  Martin could not feel his hands or feet.  There was a sickening throbbing in his head and the left side of his face seemed to be made of wax.  His breathing was laboured, and he felt a bubble of spit flickering at the corner of his mouth.  He could not get his tongue to lick it, something was broken in him, something in his head, and it was spreading.

The handler unlocked a door and swung it open.  A strong reek of Lime poured into the hallway.  Martin grunted and tried to get his body to obey.  The collar seemed like it did not fit anymore, a heavy weight pressing into his neck.  All he could do was twitch and moan.

The chair tipped up higher and wobbled around to make the corner into the Lime Pit.  A slight iron tang in the air told Martin what was coming next.

Thankfully he did not feel the blade go in. 

Blackness.

Offline Evie

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Re: Cost of Doing Business
« Reply #1 on: November 27, 2011, 12:04:39 am »
Oh my, that's sinister!   :o

And nice to see a new storyteller on the board.   :)
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

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Offline AnnieUK

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Re: Cost of Doing Business
« Reply #2 on: November 27, 2011, 09:05:20 am »
Good on you for taking up Evie's challenge.  Look forward to seeing where  you are going to take this.

Offline MerchantDeryni

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Re: Cost of Doing Business
« Reply #3 on: November 27, 2011, 09:55:58 am »
Well this story is done.  No more chapters for Martin, he is in the Lime Pit.

I wrote it to take a grim look at what a nasty Deryni could do using the various powers described in KK's books.  I wanted to twist things in a dark way because, well just because I wanted to. :P

So the scanning used to save a life by Joram in Camber of Culdi is used to find slaves with energy potential by Daniel.  The power draining used by Camber to make portals secretly (as described in Deryni Magic) is used to jump four times in short succession  This causes Martin to have a stroke.

The cost of a slave I made up as a month's wages, but moving 100 pounds of spices brings in two years worth of income.  I took those numbers from a history of world trade and just applied it to the story.  So in business terms it would make money to buy people, make a chair like I described, jump 2400 miles in a night and sell the spices for ten times what you paid for them, using Transfer Portals as a fast shipping income generation system.  I posted a thread on this in the general Deryni board, but did not go into the vampiric Deryni concept.  I just put that into the story to make it darker.  Evil Deryni being all evil and such, it gives people good reason to want Deryni killed.

On the other hand a story about a human or part Deryni who is used as a battery and NOT killed is interesting.  How would you like to make a years pay  for sleeping for two days?  There's no reason why a Deryni HAS to kill someone to use a transfer portal.  I just took the line that Deryni can use a portal two or three times a day and made a story up that involved having to break that limit.

Offline AnnieUK

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Re: Cost of Doing Business
« Reply #4 on: November 27, 2011, 10:11:02 am »
LOL! Sorry, I'm so used to Evie's epics that the concept of a Deryni one-shot completely passed me by!

Offline Evie

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Re: Cost of Doing Business
« Reply #5 on: November 27, 2011, 10:59:45 am »
Quote
Well this story is done. No more chapters for Martin, he is in the Lime Pit.

True, but Daniel is still alive, and now you've given us reason to want to see him get caught at his game.  :D
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

--WARNING!!!--
I have a vocabulary in excess of 75,000 words, and I'm not afraid to use it!

Offline MerchantDeryni

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Re: Cost of Doing Business
« Reply #6 on: November 27, 2011, 12:16:55 pm »

I'll make him the hero.  As long as he is not stealing identities, necromantically absorbing memories and mind controlling bishops he is moraly superior to 'Saint' Camber.  :P

heresy, I know.

Offline derynifanatic64

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Re: Cost of Doing Business
« Reply #7 on: November 27, 2011, 12:46:58 pm »
Too bad Martin didn't get to know more about his buyer.  I would liked to have known what century this story took place in.  A very good story.
We will never forget the events of 9-11!!  USA!! USA!!

Offline MerchantDeryni

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Re: Cost of Doing Business
« Reply #8 on: November 27, 2011, 01:11:40 pm »
I don't know what year the story is set in.  The casual cruelty could be Festillic in nature, or a desperate man trying to prevent a political/social disaster at any point in the anti Deryni timeline, and Martin's death is a tragic result.

It could happen at any time, which is why I like the whole concept. 

I only have the Camber series and Deryni Magic on my shelf right now, looking for my other books.  It has been years since I read the entire set, so I am fuzzy on specific events, another reason I was fuzzy on details.

I used Google Maps and a Istanbul to Paris Pepper market for the income possibility.  Which is why I used no locations other than Valoret, the final market.  I was just playing with the price of people versus pepper (and the irony that the incense used for a Church service was Deryni transported, and caused a death).

As I pointed out in my thread in the General section.  A single string of portals provides an easy income (and a huge list of problems), but should easily provide a few years worth of income in the first 6 months of operation.  I am writing another story with a huge speech about how it works, just to explain it all.

Thanks for the compliments, appreciate all the encouragement.

Offline Jerusha

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Re: Cost of Doing Business
« Reply #9 on: November 27, 2011, 09:20:39 pm »
An interesting story.  Hard to think of Daniel as a hero - sort of reminds me of Stefan Coram as Rhydon.
From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggity beasties and things that go bump in the night...good Lord deliver us!

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Offline MerchantDeryni

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Re: Cost of Doing Business
« Reply #10 on: November 27, 2011, 10:10:10 pm »
Well I made him kill a person without context.  To get material in for a party/celebration.  Is there a justification that could make that a heroic act?

Camber brainwashed/conditioned a human bishop to make sure the bishop could be controlled by Camber. (Saint Camber pg 228).  How heroic is it to set something like that up?  The greater good argument, situational ethics.  He had good reasons to do so.  Had Bishop Crevan found out about the tampering I doubt he would have been so understanding.

It's a grim story about a grim facet of possibility.  If humans can be drained for energy they canlikely be hurt, even killd by that draining. An unscrupulous, or desperate Deryni could use that to the extreme to get something done.


Offline bronwynevaine

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Re: Cost of Doing Business
« Reply #11 on: December 06, 2011, 05:30:20 pm »
Thanks for posting a short story. Evie's "epics" -- wink to AnnieUK -- are a hard act to follow. Enjoyable to read, though.
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Offline Evie

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Re: Cost of Doing Business
« Reply #12 on: December 06, 2011, 05:55:58 pm »
LOL!  I used to despair of ever being able to write past 5000 words, certain I'd be stuck writing short stories forever because I couldn't seem to write longer stories to save my life.

Needless to say, I don't have that problem anymore.  Now I worry about not being able to write short stories even when I try!  :D
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

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Offline bronwynevaine

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Re: Cost of Doing Business
« Reply #13 on: December 06, 2011, 08:28:52 pm »
I'm just worried about finishing one. I haven't written fiction in forever and I'm just a bit of a perfectionist. OK maybe more than a bit...
I don't just march to the beat of a different drummer...I dance to a beat no one else can hear :)

Offline Evie

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Re: Cost of Doing Business
« Reply #14 on: December 06, 2011, 11:40:46 pm »
Just take it one step at a time.  It's really hard to finish something that's not yet been started, though once you start, you're at least one step closer to finishing than you would have been otherwise.   :D
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

--WARNING!!!--
I have a vocabulary in excess of 75,000 words, and I'm not afraid to use it!

 

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