The beautiful, relaxing memory of the young boy came to an abrupt halt the moment he felt a sharp pain in the back of his head.
“Kyros!” shouted old man Balthos after he slapped the boy on the back of his head. “Stop daydreaming you brat and go back to work! I paid good money for you, so you better do your job right!” his words were harsh and his glare merciless.
“Sorry, master! Yes, master! I’ll get back to work right away!” the child said quickly and bowed all the way to the ground in front of him.
“You better! Hmph!” the man turned around and walked out of the room.
After he left, Kyros rubbed the back of his head where he got smacked. It hurt, but what hurt more was the possibility that he might not get those new clothes his master promised him. Trying not to cry, he picked up the big broom and returned to cleaning the room. The tool was bigger than him and at times, he felt as though it would slip out of his grasp and break something. Still, Kyros had no right to complain to his master, after all, he was nothing but a mere slave in his household, and it was only thanks to Balthos he was still alive.
The merchant bought Kyros a few months ago for the price of twenty gold pieces from a slave dealer in the city. It was a rather good bargain considering the many other ‘items’ the dealer had. Of course, as a merchant, Balthos knew his trade and didn’t drop the haggle until the boy’s price was brought down by at least 40% of the original price.
Soon after that, Kyros was brought to his new master’s home in the Suki village. As soon as he got there, he was thought the rules and put to work as a cleaner. He had no choice but to obey without complaint.
In the New Kingdom, slavery was not something uncommon or even illegal, it was a flourishing business. Because of that, anyone who could afford a slave had at least one or two, be they children or adults. As for their treatment, it only depended on their masters. Some were cruel, some sadistic, while others were kind and merciful. Still, if there was one thing vividly clear to all slaves, it was the fact that they were not seen as humans nor treated as such by their masters. Thus, many of them were destined to a very harsh and painful life. Kyros was well aware he wasn’t an exception from that rule. If he wanted to survive and live, he had to be useful to his master.
Not long after Balthos left the room, the young slave stopped sweeping and let out a heavy sigh. He looked down at the floor and let his mind reach out for the only happy memories he had, back when his mother still had the power to keep him safe from the insanity of their world.
Kyros was a rather curious child for being able to remember such things when most humans out there forgot even what they did three minutes ago. However, he believed everyone was the same as him, and in consequence, he never said a single word about it, to anyone.
Suddenly, he heard a clicking sound behind him. The door knob turned, and the door opened with a small squeak. Kyros turned around and looked at the one who entered the room.
“Who are you?” a young boy’s voice was heard.
The boy was taller than the slave, but only by a palm. He wore fancy clothes made of green cotton with spiraling red drawings sewed on it, showing clearly his wealth and higher status.
Seeing how the boy didn’t get a reply, he asked again, but this time, he raised his tone of voice a bit higher, as if ordering him.
“Did I not make myself clear? Who are you? What are you doing here?”
The slave child flinched and looked down, tightening his grip on the handle of the broom.
“K-Kyros sir, I’m a slave in this house…” he replied with a quivering voice.
The words weighed heavily on his tongue. Even if he already accepted reality, he disliked the thought of being a slave. There was something about it which didn’t feel quite right to him, but he always tried not to dwindle too much on those thoughts. He didn’t want to get in trouble with his master.
Although he was just a child, the young boy standing in front of Kyros held a mysterious strength in his eyes. The aura around him was one filled with the confidence and courage of one brave enough to face all the challenges in the world. It created a heavy pressure, which was perceived as intimidating by those weaker than him. On the other hand, the stronger ones saw him with a gleam of respect in their eyes. The child was young, but his spirit was remarkable, at least by human standards.
Compared to him, Kyros was small, weak, and almost invisible. Above all, he was a slave of Balthos’ household, which meant he was robbed of any and all freedoms and privileges a normal child could have had. Kyros didn’t have the right to a gleaming beautiful future. Because of that, when he met someone free, fear always crept up in his heart, squeezing it with its poisonous tendrils. With such a staggering presence in front of him, he was only reminded in a very harsh way of his own inferior status and place in the world.
As such, Kyros was expecting the boy to behave in a similar manner as Balthos did, to look at him with a mean glare, to act like a god in front of him. What the boy did, however, was to show him a confident smirk. He held his head high and took a step forward. Kyros did not dare to budge from his spot, he couldn’t dare, he had no right to.
When the boy stopped just a few feet away from him, Kyros looked up into his eyes and saw his wide confident smirk.
A brazen laughter burst out from the bottom of his lungs, filling out the entire room and startling the slave.
Why is he laughing? Did I do something wrong? Who is this boy? I hope he doesn’t want to harm me… I’m afraid… thought Kyros as he lowered his eyes to the ground, showing just how small and weak he was in front of him.
What else could he do besides that? The difference in presence and status was incredible and without an order from his master, he didn’t have the right to defend himself.
“So, YOU are the slave bought by my father while I was at aunty’s!” the boy said, but his smirk never left his lips.
He is master’s son… so he can order me as well. I must obey them both. thought Kyros.
“Yes…” he replied with a humble tone of voice, looking down at his shoes to avoid contact with his eyes.
“Hm?” the boy looked at him from head to toe “You are skinny and have no muscles! Even that broom is heavy for you!” he pointed out.
His deduction was right, Kyros did have a hard time using it. He looked up at the end of the broom’s handle, and indeed, it went over his head by at least twenty or so centimeters. With a submissive gaze, he looked back at the boy. Their eyes met, and he felt a chill running down his spine. The boy had an imposing presence no weaker than that of an average adult.
“Alright! It’s settled then!” announced the boy with a triumphant smile.
Kyros blinked confused.
“Young master, what has been settled?” he asked with a humble tone.
“You!” came the boy’s reply as he pointed at him.
“Excuse me, young master?” replied Kyros with the same voice.
He could not dare to speak in any other way, but the confusion brought by the merchant’s son’s words was clear as day in his eyes.
What does he want from me? He’s not going to hurt me is he? thought Kyros as he tightened his grip around the broom’s handle.
If a master decided to discipline his slave through physical harm, they were rightfully entitled to do so as long as they didn’t strike a killing blow. The child, like any other slave, greatly feared the pain, humiliation, and suffering brought by his master’s desire to teach them a lesson. Even if they beat them in public, no one would jump in to help. Such were the rules those kind of relationships brought.
“Stop wasting my time and follow me! We are going on an adventure!” stated the boy as he raised his fist up in the air, showing his dominating confidence burning like a wild fire inside his chest.
Kyros blinked and opened his mouth in confusion.
What is master’s son thinking? Adventure? But we are children… did he hit his head and now he’s not thinking straight? Besides, master Balthos told me to clean this room, I can’t abandon my work, I’ll be punished! I don’t want to be punished! I don’t want to feel pain! If I follow him, this won’t end well, I can feel it. What if we are ambushed by bandits? What if we are attacked by wild animals? Kyros began to think by putting his fears ahead.
There were many ways to die, and the child trembled just by thinking about them. To him, adventure did not sound as grand as it did for the merchant’s son.
Kyros knew he couldn’t let the boy have his way, since it would most certainly spell out doom for the both of them. However, just when he was about to open his mouth and attempt to reason with him, he saw something strange behind him.
It appeared like specter, but it wasn’t scary or looked terrifying. On the contrary, it was clad in a beautiful and calm light capable of casting away any sort of malevolent thought from one’s mind. It had the face a woman, but her beauty was unparalleled. Her smooth, milky skin only seemed to enhance her divine features. While she looked similar to a human, from her back, a pair of pure white feather wings spread towards the roof of the room like an eagle about to take flight. There was no doubt the entity did not belong to the mortal realm, however, the merchant’s son wasn’t aware of it at all.
That was not the first time when such beings of pure light showed themselves to Kyros. Every time they did and spoke with him, their words contained only the truth. Still, even though Kyros was not frightened by her sudden appearance, he was still surprised and because of that, he forgot what he wanted to say to the merchant’s son. He was left standing there with his mouth half opened and staring at it.
You have nothing to fear from this child. Trust his words. said the being with a calm and gentle tone of voice as it touched his mind. Every word she spoke held a warm melody, which felt like it could heal any pain and wound in his troubled heart. The winged entity then offered her hand to Kyros, but she was still too far away. His destiny is tied to yours. Follow him, and you will be led towards your future… she said with a gentle smile on her lips and then looking back at the merchant’s boy, she embraced him warmly and faded slowly from his sight.
“Kyros! Let’s go!” said the child, waking him from his state of reverie.
“Yes, young master…” said Kyros humbly as he shook his head.
The slave placed the big broom on top of a nearby crate and then looked back at his master.
There’s nothing to lose, right? he thought.
If the entity radiating such a warm and pleasant light said such reassuring words about the merchant’s son, then maybe it wasn’t such a bad idea to follow him.
“Also!” said the merchant’s son, suddenly stopping in his track and almost making Kyros bump into him. “Don’t call me young master! Call me Tullos! I’m a twelve years-old boy!” he stated with a big smile and his chin up to show how proud he was of it.
“Yes… Tullos.” said Kyros carefully.
The boy smirked and then grabbed the slave’s hand. “Come on, let’s hurry! Frederique is waiting for us outside.” he said.