The smell of urine and sewer water smothered her as she walked into the bustling town. She had tied her horse outside and changed into merchant clothes as to not attract attention. The "protectors" were scattered around the town all keeping an eye on Minya as she approached the first street.

Sumalee was following close behind. She was disgusted by the smell and not fully comprehensive of her surroundings. She knew she would see slaves and the idea of seeing people chained up saddened her but it came nowhere near the bitter hatred that Ia felt.

"Sumalee, pay attention! I don't want to lose you in this crowd. All the loathsome scum from the lowly pickpocket to the fiercest killers in the land are here and I don't want to even think about what they would do to you if they found you alone. We are here for one reason only and that is to buy slaves, as for the fact I haven't done this before I need all my concentration on bargaining with the merchants."

Sumalee nodded her head slowly and quietly. Though she hadn't been out in the world much she knew that Minya would take care of her. What Minya was so upset about Sumalee didn't know but she wasn't exactly in hurry to find out so she let it pass.

Minya saw the girl looking curiously at her and suddenly felt a pang of guilt. There had been no need for her to yell Sumalee had just been looking. Minya made a mental note to buy Sumalee something nice on the other end of the market where she could find jewelry or clothes. Only she wanted it to be a surprise, she couldn't buy it with her standing right there so...

"Kakar, come here,"

A brawny man with an unshaven beard stepped out from behind a building. He was covered from head to tow in black yet nobody had noticed his unusual attire.

"Yes, My lady"

"Get one of your friends and keep an eye on Sumalee. Let her go wherever she wants but make sure you stay close to her at all times...don't hesitate to show yourselves if necessary. When I'm ready to leave the captain will help me find you."

The man nodded his head and flicked his hand. A man suddenly appeared next to him dressed in the same fashion. Sumalee had heard the conversation and decided that she would enjoy exploring this new town. She spotted a man in a funny blue and red outfit covered in tiny bells doing a funny little dance as he walked down the street. She wandered away to watch him clearly.

Minya sighed. Time for business. She was still standing at the entrance to the town, only a couple streets away from the slave market. Just the thought of it sent cold waves of nausea through her. She quickly stopped and gained composure for if there was one thing she didn't want, it was to be humiliated in front of those barbaric parasites. With all her courage mustered she headed towards the market.

Inside the market the stalls were crammed in next to each other. Loud forceful voices echoed through the square claiming everything from having the strongest men for work to having the best bed slaves in case one was looking for pleasure. Though she felt bad for them all she had a soft spot for those who were the most defenseless. That was why she was drawn to an old woman at the second stand. She'd been shoved in the back on account of the fact the elderly were not highly prized as slaves. However, she did not enjoy being part of the back and had tried to push her way forward. The owner had seen her and dealt her a swift blow to the head. She let out a shriek as she fell to the floor.

Nobody noticed the screams for the seemed to be quite frequent around the area so it Was Minya alone who ran up to the woman. The owner had continued his yelling so he didn't notice the woman talking to his slave.

"Are you ok?" The question was responded with a scared look as the woman mumbled that she was fine. She then proceeded to curl up in the back of the platform.

"How much for the old woman?"she cried at the dealer. He looked at her and though she was in merchant clothes she seemed to have a large bag of money with her. He immediately ran over to her with a hideous smile pasted on his face.

"Wouldn't you prefer a nice young maiden, miss. That's much more efficient at being maids. They're all highly trained in cleaning and they won't bog you down by being to slow.

Minya stared straight and hard at the man. He gave in to her wanting to buy the old woman but it took her fifteen minutes for her to get down to a reasonable price. The owner went over to the woman and ruffly told her to stand up he shoved her in Minya's direction. Though she badly wanted to comfort the woman she didn't want to risk blowing her cover just yet.

She continued down the street only this time she went slower for the woman hadn't recovered from her earlier misfortune. Eventually she would have had to have slown down anyway for she was beginning to become melancholy. The endless rows of bodies began to blend. Each alley was the same and she began to think about what Sumalee was doing.

"No! You can't take her. She's only a child. You filthy bastard you have no right to do this. You lay a hand on her and I swear to god I'll..."

Minya whipped around to see a young man screaming at his master. He had a rather messy cut and his dark hair hung in his eyes. Though he was one of the most fully dressed slaves on the market, Minya could tell that he was the kind of slave they meant when they bragged about strength and size. The girl he was apparently screaming about was being held by the owner and almost in the embrace of an old gangly man with rotting teeth and a scar across his eye. The girl was about fourteen and quite pretty. She had soft brown hair that lay in waves just below her shoulder. The young man had stopped in mid sentence because the owner let go of the girl and leaped on her brother.

He gave him a few punches but not so many as would damage him permanently. The boy lay on the floor with blood pouring out his nose. She could see the glint of rage in his eyes. Whether it was contempt for his owner or anger at himself for failing she didn't know but she guessed it was a combination of both,

"What the hell do you think you're doing? Of course he can take her. He's paying 430 drens for her. You should be happy for your sister after all she she's going to be sleeping with one of the richest man in town."

With that last comment the boy tried to heave himself up but only fell back with a loud moan. He looked at his sister and when he saw her look back he slowly closed his eyes and moaned once again. The merchant just laughed.

"Well boy," he began with a slight smirk. "I hate to see her go as much as you do but the gentleman is offering a right nice price and since I don't hear anyone one else clamoring for her I'm afraid I'm going to have to..."

"I'll pay you 900 drens for the both of them."

The dealer quickly looked in her direction and once again the bulging money bag worked its charm. He grinned no it seemed more like a leer to Minya but none the less she had gotten his attention. The man turned to the previous bidder.

"Can you beat that offer?"

The old man shot a withering look at Minya and stormed off to the stand across the way. The dealer let out a chuckle. He turned towards Minya and once again grinned.

"We are always glad to attain the patronage of such respectable clients as yourself." ~Oh stop buttering me up you half-breed I'm not going to buy anymore. Just give them to me.~

"Get up" he shouted in the boys ear. The boy mustered enough strength to struggle to his feet. His sister ran to help him. Though there was happiness in his eyes to be with his sister, Minya could also see the dread mingled in.

Minya marched down the last street, deciding it would be the last. She was walking at an agonizingly slow pace and though she tried she couldn't go any faster. She didn't really care only she saw it wasn't a comfortable pace for the others. She was almost at the end of the street when she saw a small figure out one of the platforms. It was a small boy about five years old lying still. ~Is he dead? ~She walked over and touched his wrist. He had a pulse but it was weak and he was hot and sticky. The dealer spotted her.

" Miss I don't recommend you touch that boy. He's no good to you. If you come over here there are some other lovely children who in good condition. They can do almost anything, you'd be surprised."

Minya could not be swayed. She knew she could help the boy but she had to get him out of the town. She quickly bargained with him and ended paying an outrageous amount for a boy on his death bed but she didn't seem to notice. At the end of the street she called for the captain of the guards.

"Yes m'lady?"

"Where is Sumalee?"

"Over there." He pointed at a small figure craning around the corner staring at something. She told the guardsmen to take the slaves outside. He took the small boy from the young girl who had carried him amd led the rest outside.

~Oh my I forgot to get her a present. I'll just have to get her something in the next town. Besides it might be more fun to go shopping with her. I'll at least have a guarantee that she'll like the present.~

As she headed for Sumalee she noticed that not only was Sumalee staring at something but she had a small smile on her face. Minya followed her gaze and saw a very handsome man. He had blond hair and a body like a sculpture. Minya looked up at the name of the stand and slowly shook her head. Sumalee certainly knew how to pick them. It was one of the most expensive stands in the entire market. A stand set up entirely for rich wives whose husbands were always away. They amused themselves with young boys until their husbands got home in which case the boys were locked in the basement or some similar compound. They had all been specially trained for that one purpose.

Minya knew she wouldn't keep the boy as a slave but she hoped that he might at least become friends with Sumalee. She walked past Sumalee and headed towards the stand and could feel herself grow hot as she walked by the row of scantily clad men. She was comforted on the one hand that she had never actually blushed before. She could grow hot but her outside appearance never changed.

Once she felt like herself again she bargained with the dealer. She was able to lower the price 220 drens to 730 drens. As she walked away she felt herself grow hot again as the owner made an emphasis on how satisfying the deal would be.

Sumalee followed the two with wondering eyes. Minya called forth a guard and sent him off with the boy and his worshiper. She signaled for Alvar.

"What can I do for you m'lady?"

"I need you to find a blacksmith so we can get the chains off."

The man was apparently startled by the statement. He looked at her carefully to make sure she wasn't joking. After realizing she wasn't he hesitated but explained that the chains could only be taken off with a magical key. A different one for each, one for the hands and one for the feet.

Minya became even more despondent. As she left the town she tried to think of a way to make a magical key but she knew of no such spells. She had to free them, she couldn't stand the sight of them all in chains. She would try to find a solution tonight but for now she needed to concentrate on getting home and as far away from this town as possible.