The Lord's Consort

Author: This story is one of the others that have a special place in my heart. Not only does it take place in my fantasy world that is ever growing and changing with each new idea and new story, but it stars a pair of very special characters who, I think, deserve to have a spotlight for once. Hope you enjoy, all critiques are welcome!

Chapter One: The Pirate and the Slave

The slave trade was a legitimate business in the world of Tellus. It was also hated and feared all around the world by many, but for the most part, it was a very successful way of life for those who were smart enough and capable enough to be the ones making the profits. With slaves, one could have a wealth of gold, jewels, valuable items worth trading, and even a fine weapons stock if they planned the business deal correctly. Those that weren't sold for profit were kept as either servants for hard labor or concubines that would please their masters and mistresses in their bedchambers.

One successful slaver in particular was a pirate known as Galen. The Pirate Lord of the South Sea, Galen made his living on raiding ships and capturing those who surrendered, turning them into slaves for the market. His galleon, the Tempest, was the flagship of his slaver fleet and housed most of the captives that were captured in his territory. From the beauties of both the jungle and desert countries to homely looking laborers from various island colonies, Galen and his underlings took all they desired. No matter who they were or where they came from, everyone was worth something.

On one hot day, as the fleet was spread around to do their own work, the Tempest had just launched a raid against a large merchant craft. The cargo inside was filled with riches that included silk from Lotan in the east, tanned furs of wild beasts from both the wildlands of Knoss and the snowy northern country of Thoka, and weapons from a number of other countries. The load, along with the captured crew and those who paid for passage, would line Galen's pockets with quite a bundle of coins.

There was one passenger on the merchant ship who, unlike the rest of the captives he took aboard the Tempest, interested him. It all started when a brawl broke out onto the deck. The passenger that caught his eye had attacked two of his men. It was a boy, fourteen, with long, bright red hair. He was armed with a cutlass, no doubt taken from one of the pirates, but didn't wear any armor and certainly didn't seem to be a sailor.

"Galen!" he called out after disarming the two pirates. "Come out, Galen! Show yourself!"

"A whelp with a blade is calling out my name?" a drawling voice seeped from the innards of the ship. It's owner slowly came into the light of the blazing sun, leaning against the frame of the doorway. "What you, lad, a bounty hunter?"

Hearing the voice, the young swordsman turned to it and looked the master of the voice over for a moment. "You...are Galen?"

"I am."

"The Galen? The Pirate Lord who takes slaves? The same pirate whose strength and violence against enemies is known to single-handedly sink entire ships, earning him the epithet 'Hurricane'?"

"Aye. I am." Galen was not what he had expected to see. From what was said about Galen, he was a monster, covered head to toe in armor and carried blades so well used, that they were forever stained red with the blood of those they cut into. What he truly was, however, was an older, dark skinned man with stringy dark brown hair and a matching beard and mustache combination that made him appear like a catfish. He was dressed in a brightly colored sarong, sandals, and a cuirass made of red-gold armor. In one hand, he carried a deadly looking trident made out of the same metal as his armor. "I asked you a question, boy. Are you a bounty hunter?"

"What if I am?"

"Then it's going to be very difficult for you to try and earn the reward that's been promised for bringing in my severed head." Galen looked to his men on the deck. "He beat the two of you, eh?"

The two hung their head in shame.

Galen looked at the youth. "You have two choices here, boy. The first one is that you can try and fight me, dying in the process. The second choice is that you can throw your blade down and join the rest of the slaves." He waved to the other captives, most of whom were bound and were being fitted with heavy collars.

The boy's green eyes stared hard at him. He had the spirit of a warrior behind those eyes, Galen could see that, but something else as well. The fighting spirit inside of him showed itself to him as he suddenly ran at him, clutching the sword with both hands. When he was in arm's length, he swung the blade, but failed in the attack. Galen was quicker than he seemed to be; he blocked the sword with the shaft of his trident and immediately followed through with a punch to his stomach. At first, the punch didn't seem to affect him, but a blue light and a crackling emitted from Galen's fist and pain began to flow into him. His body began to convulse and he lost all feeling in his arms and legs. Within seconds he was on the deck, twitching and powerless.

Galen looked down at the helpless boy and nudged him with his foot. "I told you it'd be difficult for you, lad."

One of his men came up to him. "What shall we do with him, Captain? Throw him overboard, let him drown?"

"No," Galen replied, shaking his head. "We keep him alive."

His man reached down and grabbed the boy by the arms, beginning to drag him away. "I'll put him with the others."

"Actually," Galen bent down and collected the cutlass, "put him in my cabin."

"Captain?"

"It's not very often that I get to see such a spirited child on the ship. Bring him to my cabin, I'd like to have a talk with him."

When the boy woke two hours later, he found himself laying in a corner of Galen's cabin, his arms bound behind his back. Galen was sitting comfortably in a large chair in front of him, arms folded and a smile on his face. Before the boy could let his tongue lash out with a selection of curses he had just thought of, Galen held up his hand.

"Save your breath, child. I only wish to have some words with you before we carry on with our business."

The boy glowered and began to struggle against his bindings. "I have no business with you, pirate!"

"Yes, you do...lass."

The boy froze, a glimmer of fear in those big green eyes.

Galen nodded. "I know that you're more than you make yourself appear to be, girl."

"I don't know what you're talking about!"

"Is that so?" Galen reached down for his prisoner and grabbed the filthy cloth that made up the shirt. With a fierce tug, the shirt tore away and almost instantly, the young captive dove for the floor with a light shriek. "Only a girl would try and cover her budding chest. A boy would not worry about something such as that, but a girl?" He nodded, smiling underneath his beard. "Aye, a girl would." He crouched down and placed his large hand over her head of red hair. "From this day on, you belong to me, rossini."

Later that evening, the captain's cabin on the Tempest was full of noise. The crew and slave cargo would hear them and feel different things; the crew would hear the sounds and smirk to themselves, knowing their captain was enjoying the company he had asked for and the slaves would feel pity for the poor girl with red-hair, knowing that she was having to endure the black-hearted scoundrel who held her in his power. That is what they thought they knew, anyway.

Inside Galen's quarters, the girl, now wearing both a collar and a short, but beautiful dress, was fending off the pirate captain with surprising strength and spirit. The older man, having just been kicked away from the captive, landed in a chair that was kept on the far side of the room, holding his belly.

"I haven't had a slave put up a good fight in a long while," he said, grimacing from the pain of the kick, "and even then, they haven't lasted as long as you or had your strength, girl."

"You keep coming at me and I'll show you just how strong I am when I need to be!" she said venomously. "I will not be defiled by a criminal such as yourself!"

"Defile?" Galen repeated, a bushy eyebrow moving upward. "Girl, do you mean to tell me that you are unspoiled?" A light touch of red crossed her face. It was all he needed to see to get his answer. "So! I have with me not only a strong and pretty thing, but a virgin as well."

"And I shall stay that way until I am with the man that I meant to be with, not a sea-bandit!"

Galen sat back in his chair and stroked his beard. "Would you be willing to fight me every step of the way to keep that oath of yours, rossini?"

"I will and my name isn't 'rossini', either!" she insisted. "Why do you call me that?"

"It means little red head in the language of my people," Galen explained. "If you don't like that name, then tell me dearie, what is your name?"

"Alexia," she replied immediately.

"Alexia what?"

That, she did not answer. Instead, she said, "To protect my loved ones, I will not speak of my family name. How will I know that you would not track people down with the same name and hope to slaughter them or to make them your slaves as well?"

Galen smiled. "You're either smart or paranoid, Alexia." He rose from the chair and moved for the door. "If you're so spirited and willing to fight to protect yourself, let's see how long this desire of yours can last. I won't come after you again tonight, but you may want to keep your guard up."

He left and Alexia could only glare at his back as he did.