OF Extra – Childhood 1
“Girl don’t go out of line of sight, someone as pretty as you is going to fetch us a heavy price!” A growling voice sounded as a burly man was eying a young beautiful woman. Her hair was a sea of blonde curls, her eyes were naive and blue, her skin white as the newfallen snow. She was indeed a beauty, but currently her face did not show any childlike happiness, instead it showed depression and fear.
They were all onboard a large ship, a ship on which many young men and women were stacked in shackles, alongside the young were small children, all of which younger than ten years old. One of these children was a young girl with long black hair. It had originally been beautiful but now it was tangled up, the beautiful shine within had vanished and instead it looked oily as though it had not been washed in months.
In the arms of this young child was an infant, and to feed this child, the young girl only ate the absolute necessary to stay alive, the rest she gave the child, which had resulted in a starved girl but a healthy baby.
Every day one or two of the children died of malnutrition and the men who controlled the boat would just toss them overboard, toss them to their eternal grave within the water.
Xu Wu, the young child who held a baby within her eyes had long since given up on feeling sorry for other children. Her eyes were constantly alert, her entire being tense and ready to fight if needed. She had long since understood that only the strong would be capable of eating their dinner as the others would have theirs stolen away from them and Xu Wu would not allow for anyone else to steal her food as she had not only herself to feed but also her little brother Xu Min.
Had she let go of her brother and focused only on herself she would not be as skinny as she was now, nor would she be as filled with wounds from fighting other children, but to her nothing mattered more than having her baby brother within her arms.
Xu Wu remembered how four weeks prior her parents had led her and her brother towards the city. When they reached the city her parents said that they had to visit some friends and when they were there, Xu Wu was given candy for the very first time. The candy was sweet and she was excited about the new experiences she tried, however as the dusk arrived, the friends served dinner and within this dinner was something which made Xu Wu fall asleep. The first thing she noticed when she woke up was that Xu Min was laying on her lap, screaming in a high pitch voice and her parents were no where to be seen.
The two children were within a dark room, a room where a lot of other children also had been placed, all of which were starved, their eyes listless and their attitude was apathetic.
Xu Wu had instantly stood up and held her brother in her arms. Back then the food would be delivered in big bowls and they had to be quick to eat. Fortunately Xu Wu had always played with the boys who trained to become student warriors, and she was far swifter than any other within the room, making her the highest ranked child, and the one who ate first.
Should anyone take the food away from her then she would beat them up and their buyers clearly had nothing against the brawls, they believed in survival of the fittest, and as long as the fittest survived then they would be able to reek in a decent price.
After having lived within the darkness for a week the children were all moved towards a ship where they had been cuffed to each other and the ship railing. No one were capable of leaving unless they were unlucky enough to die.
The middle aged prisoners were on one side while the youngsters and the children were on the other. The majority on this ship was without a doubt the children and all of them were frightened and panicked with the slightest sound. Only a few were as Xu Wu, their eyes filled with vigilance and coldness, eyes cold as the deepest winter, caring not about anyone else than themselves.
The travel on the boat was a full month where they were given nothing but scraps and Xu Wu had to fight for enough food to keep her alive while at the same time ensure that Xu Min got all the food needed for an infant who was still growing.
The slavesellers had been astonished to see how a girl who was at oldest ten years of age was capable of keeping a baby alive, even the young and middleaged slaves had few dying from malnutrition each week, none of them as fierce as the young children who bit and strached and hit and kicked until the others gave up.
As the month was up, Xu Wu saw a large city ahead of the boat, her eyes glistening with hope, hope that they would soon be able to live life in a better way. As they came to the docks, the ship quickly unloaded its cargo before the humans were pushed off the boat into a large hall where they were told to drop their clothes and they all became washed before they all were given a new set of clothes.
The clothes were made from sturdy but cheap material, all of the robes were grey and far from fitted, but it was far more comfortable than the clothes they had been wearing for more than a month at sea, and although all the slaves were told to undress in front of each other, no one truly cared as everyone had far bigger problems to think about. The reason they were being made pretty was solely for the sake of being sold to wealthy families as servants.
While Xu Wu thought about the future there was only one thing within her mind and that was the fact that she would not allow anyone to seperate her from her younger brother. Previously the slavesellers had attempted to seperate the two, but the young girl had caused such a ruckus that they eventually agreed to allow her to keep the boy. When it came to high priced slaves, this girl, Xu Wu was above the average as she was not being broken but instead fought for survival. Those who cared about survival were the best workers.
Having been cleaned and dressed in new clothes the slaves were guided towards another building, a building which seemed incredibly pretty on the outsides, and two bronze figures of shackled humans were adorning the entrance, making it clear to everyone that this house was a slave market.
Xu Wu’s eyes shone with determination as she stepped through the open back door. Many of the slaves were hesitating but Xu Wu did not stop for even a second, her legs not shaking and her heart not trembling. For her, living as a servant did not necessarily mean a bad future, however living without her brother would be unbearable.
Walking into the house the slaves were split into different groups determined by age, but as someone was about to take Xu Min from Xu Wu’s embrace, a slaveseller instantly stepped in and shook his head,
“Let these two stay together,” he said with a rowdy voice, and the clerk nodded his head in understandment. Hearing the words that the seller had said, Xu Wu felt as though a giant stone had been lifted from her shoulders and tears appeared in her eyes only to be forced back moments afterwards.
Although she had been allowed to be with her younger brother for now, if she did not get sold, it was likely that they would not be together the next time they were up for sale. Thinking like this, Xu Wu was one of the few people within the house who wholeheartedly wished to be sold today, wished to belong to another family and when belonging to that family be able to raise Xu Min on her own.
Xu Wu waited patiently for it to be her turn, and as it became her turn she went towards the stage with a determination which was rarely seen amongst slaves. Her way of holding her back straight and how her eyes swept across the buyers who had gathered within the house, everyone could feel that this child was strong willed, and many interested started to bid on her.
Although she held a child in her arm, her determined personality was enough to cause the different families to bid on her and relief flooded her senses as the first bid was given. Her relief quickly changed to shock as many more participated in the bidding than what she had expected.
The first bid was ten copper coins, but after only a few minutes the price went ut to one silver coin and it kept rising. Two silver coins, three silver coins.
One has to understand that it was often that beautiful women sold for over hundred gold coins, however children were different. One never knew whether or not they were capable of managing the hard life as a servant, and they were likely to give up and become a liability. Children were not meant for work and they required a high price from their buyers to teach them their new job. So to see such a price for a small child, everyone grew excited.
The bidding did go on for some time, but eventually the bidding slowed down and Xu Wu, alongside Xu Min, the two of them being sold to the Zhong family, a smaller family which lived a distance away from the City in which they had been purchased.
The Zhong family ended up paying four silver and seventy copper coins for the young woman and the infant boy, but this was not the end of their expenditure. The Zhong family had arrived for the sake of purchasing a bigger portion of servants but Xu Wu and Xu Min were moved down the stage and entered a room where they were prepared for delivery. As soon as the Zhong family had paid the amount of money they bit on the two slaves, Xu Wu and Xu Min would be handed over to the family.
The children were always the first to go on stage, and since Xu Wu had been one of the first to go up for sale, the young girl and her beloved little brother were standing in the back room for an extensive amount of time.
It was not usual that a nobleman or rich merchants would stay within the slave house for the full duration of the sale, they would usually arrive when the slaves of their taste were up for sale. For instance some young noblemen would only be there to see the young women being put up for sale. A merchant might only be there for the young men if they needed a new hard worker, and others would be there solely for the children to teach them how to behave and then later sell them off for a profit.
The Zhong family, however, were in need of many new servants and they stayed the full duration, purchasing more and more slaves to become their servants. The small room in which Xu Wu and Xu Min were waiting slowly got crowded as the Zhong family purchased more and more slaves to bring home with them. Seeing the many slaves that were purchased Xu Wu was deeply taken aback but she was very grateful for the fact that the family had bought her together with the infant. It seemed as though she had the best possibilities to ensure his survival.
Just as Xu Wu was deep within thought the door in front of them opened and a tall and handsome man stepped through it. He was wearing fine clothes and had the air of nobility around him. No one dared speak, everyone were quiet as they looked upon the large man who eyed them all.
“Follow me, and don’t get any funny ideas. Although I paid for you I have no interest in rebellious servants. Rebel against me and I will personally cut you down.”