"I need a room," Aleric told the Innkeeper.
"For how many," the pimply faced boy asked.
"Just me and my slave," Aleric answered.
"Two, a haorse and a mule."
"That'll be one single room and three stalls." The boy started writing in a book. Aleric stopped him.
"I hae only two animals."
"Yes Sir. That'll be one stall for your horse, one stall for your mule and one stall for your slave."
"Why can't she sleep in the Inn, share my room."
"We used to allow that sir, placing extra cots in the rooms for slaves. However that would lead to brawls if a guest interfered with another guest's property, or gave the appearance of doing so. Since most of our guests also frequent the taverns, we decided it best to remove temptation from their paths. Our stalls are clean sir, and your slave will be provided with a cot,and adequate bedding, no different than what you'll find on your own bed. She will have a small table for her use, and a brazier to supply warmth. For however long you are with us." The Innkeeper looked over his shoulder. "Mathilda," he called.
"Whaddya want Jon?" A massive woman came out of the back room. She was massive, not massive fat, massive muscular. She had blond hair, blue eyes, and a broad face. "I'm just getting off shift and I wann go home."
"You working the barn tonight."
"You know it," she growled. "Got three girls and a boy out there. Not that they're much company, sawing logs like they do, even louder than the animals, I swear. No activity, no nothing. Why?"
"This guest has some concerns about billeting his slave in the barn."
"Why my company not good enough for her?" Mathilda gave Alaric the once over. "You can rest easy sir, she'll be safe enough. Nothing ever happens on my watch. Never has and never will. " Mathilda winked. "Why don't you go on down to the Tavern and Jon boy here'll get you and your slave all fixed up right properly, and I'll be along to see that her beauty rest is not disturbed."
"Damn!" Delrayna cursed. She must not have mixed the cards right. For an hour now she'd been shuffling the tarot cards, getting a feel for them, and laying them out in a simple pattern. Of course it would help if she knew what they were casting for, but this four card layout. It was supposed to allow the Tarot to instinctively pick up on her energy and give her hints. What they were telling her was to evalutate everything carefully, rise above pettiness and not to overburden herself, to focus her emotions and to fullfill promises made. The only major promise she'd made int he last while was to be a slave. She'd even sealed the bargain with a brand.
Eva didn't seem to mind being a slave. The two of them had spent the day moving around the Market and talking. Eva had admitted to being enslaved at an early age, so didn't really know what it meant to be free. Except that free people didn't seem to be all that happy. Because they had to grow up, be mature, take responsibility for their own lives. They didn't have Masters to take responsibility for them so they didn't have as much time in their lives for carefree fun and laughter.
They'd run into Della at the Apple Seller's booth. What he had didn't look all that good, but they were cheap, and some of the more bruised. the Apple Seller let them have, free, so they wouldn't drag down the quality of his other apples. Eva grabbed a couple and tossed one to Delarayna before grabbing a couple more. Della sniffed and picked a couple better one which she had to pay for.
Eva ran off, leaving Delrayna with Della. There was a slight disgusted look on Della's face, but she agreed to walk Delrayna back to the Inn. They talked on the way.
Della didn't like being a slave. She'd been born to a dirt poor mothr, who'd barely been able to eke out a living for herself and Della. Her father had run off and left them with next to nothing. Della seemed to take pride that even though the roof over their heads was a wooden sidewalk, or a rat infested crate, they were free. Then she had been captured, marked as a slave. She dressed better, ate better, had a room and warmth at night. But she longed for freedom, even if it meant starving in the streets, and looked down on those that accepted their slavery.
When they reached the Inn, Delrayna watched as Dellla marched stiffly away. Della had asked how she had been enslaved. Delrayna had told her about the ambush, and her Master coming along and saving her life. She didn't tell Della that she had practically forced herself on her Master, and felt a twinge of guilt because it felt like too much of a lie.
Aleric entered the stall and hunkered down against the far wall. Delrayna glanced at him. "They told me you were at the Tavern."
"I was," Aleric grunted. "Hoping that someone there would know something."
"Like about the Pharoah running the Hed-Sed in Osoyoos." Aleric jerked his head up. " Should have asked a slave."
"Did this slave say when the Hed-Sed was going to be run?"
"No," Delrayna answered.
"So either the Pharoah was not travelling with his crown and will show up in Osoyoos. Or he did travell with his crown and was captured."