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Fic: Comes a Horseman 4/7

Okay folks, I`m sure you spotted it already. This thing has grown from five to seven parts. I don`t know if this is a good thing or if you all think: Damn, she drags it out even more? Get to it, fucker. :-p
But chapter 4 had doubled in size already and I would have to split it either way so it has now become 4 and 5. And since five has also grown like a mofo, we are at seven. :) I`m trying to have the next chapter up soon as possible to make up for the slight delay with this one. But prepare for snail-y me anyhow. ;-) So without further ado onto ficcie:

Comes a Horseman - Chapter 4

Summary: In the Bronze Age young healer-apprentice Jen is living a life of quietness. Though this may change once Jaret, leader of a barbarian horde, comes riding into his village.
Word count: 5.612


Previous chapters and full header to be found here





Chapter 4


Jen was still frozen in place when Jaret swivelled around and their eyes met. Neither man spoke but Jaret's face quickly went from a shocked expression to one of such emptiness, it chilled Jen to the bone.

Unperturbed Jaret finished pulling the garment over his head. "Fetch me another tunic," he ordered, as if nothing happened. And when Jen made no move to comply, Jaret merely raised an eyebrow at him. "Did you not hear me?"

"No. Yes. Of course." Jen shook his head as if to clear it and grabbed a fresh tunic, throwing it at Jaret. Only now did it register with him that Jaret was as naked as the day he was born, the furs thrown haphazardly over his lap the only thing keeping Jen from seeing his nude form in all its glory. Jen swallowed heavily but his pragmatism as a healer won out over this odd sense of modesty he felt with Jaret.

"You should freshen up first, wipe off the sweat," he advised.

Jaret smirked. "You plan on doing that for me?"

Pursing his lips in dismay, Jen just held up the medicine bag he'd brought from Stavus' tent. "I think you can manage yourself. Then I shall look after your wound."

The smirk remained in place but Jaret didn't push the matter and obligingly grabbed for the jug of water. He moistened the hem of his discarded tunic and started rubbing himself down. Jen tried to look elsewhere as that simple act was strangely…intimate but he did notice the slight tremors that wracked Jaret's body and the way his hands shook. Despite the sleep Jaret had gotten, his eyes also looked bloodshot and had hollow circles beneath them. It was obvious that he wasn't well.

Jen could only hope no problems demanding Jaret's personal attention would arise in the camp. The weakness would pass soon enough but for the moment Jaret was vulnerable. And Jen didn't know if he could believe Stavus' assurances to keep things under control. Even if the man tried, Jen wasn't sure he could trust the Gods not to play more tricks on him. Lately it seemed they had a real fondness for doing so.

Once Jaret was finished, he struggled to put on the clean tunic. Jen didn't protest since he felt it was done more out of the desire to cover up the scars betraying Jaret's true origins and neither would it hinder his treatment. He cleared his throat and went to kneel next to Jaret, gesturing for the other man to bare his upper leg.

Silence descended over them as Jen went to work. He dabbed at the wound with a fresh, clean cloth before rummaging around in his bag for a viol filled with a clear liquid.

"This will sting a bit," Jen explained.

Jaret laughed lightly. "I assure you I've had worse."

Biting his lip at the thought of the horrible web of scars on Jaret's back, Jen bent over the wound once more and busied himself with his task. Carefully he applied the liquid to the injured flesh, glancing upwards at Jaret but the man gave no visible reaction though he started speaking again.

"But then you know that already. As I know you must burn with questions." Putting a slightly trembling hand under Jen's chin, Jaret tilted up Jen's face so their eyes met. "Why the sudden coyness?

"It is not my place." Jen tried to evade.

This time Jaret's laugh sounded truly amused. "This is new."

Jen sighed, sitting back on his haunches. "Do you wish me to ask?"

A careless shrug was his only answer. "Now is as good a time as any. And I can't ignore the thoughts going round and round in your head. It's distracting."

"No, you're…not well. It's better you get some more rest. If you still want to tell me later, I'll listen," Jen tried to placate. He didn't even know why he did so, since he was curious. But actually hearing of Jaret's torment - he wasn't sure if he really wanted that. In a strange way it might bond them together, tearing down the wall that separated captor and captive. And Jen needed to hold onto that wall for the sake of his own sanity. He bent over Jaret's leg once more and started dressing the wound in healing herbs before applying a small bandage to keep them in place.

"My family lived in Istra. It's a city far west from here," Jaret started as if Jen hadn't said anything. "We were rather poor but my father, he enjoyed his games of chance a bit too much. Unfortunately he wasn't very good at them."

Jen gasped, looking up. "Your own father, he gambled you away?"

"No, he wasn't that far gone or a cruel man really. At least he didn't beat us children more than most others do their own." Jaret blew out some air, rubbing a hand over his tired eyes. "But a coward he was, fleeing the city when he knew he couldn't pay back the man he owed money to. So his family paid the price. They came to our home one night and two days later we found ourselves at the slave market."

For Jen that was hard to imagine. In the tribe games had been nothing more than a silly pastime, one seldom engaged in at that. Life simply held too many other demands. For his part Jen never liked throwing the bone dice much. Maybe the part where he wasn't good at it had something to do with that. At least Krisian had always teased him with his incredibly bad luck in games. "How old were you then?"

"Five summers, my sister was seven. We got separated from our mother right away." Jaret looked off in the distance. "Never knew what happened to her."

Noticing whose fate Jaret had left out, Jen tilted his head. "And your sister?"

"Lets say the man who bought us wasn't squeamish with his slaves. My sister died when she was twelve. Whipped to death. I regained my freedom once I turned thirteen." Jaret's voice was dispassionate, like he was telling a stranger's tale.

Maybe it was this more than anything else that horrified Jen. How was it possible to grow so cold over something that should have you burn hotter than the sun? How could the tormented turn into the tormentor? Still he couldn't help but feeling deep sympathy for the two small children who had had to suffer like this.

Jaret must have seen it on his face because his eyes grew icy. "You don't need to pity me, little Jen. That was a long time ago and this time it is not I who is the slave here."

The remark stung, Jen had to admit but he let it pass, much to entranced in Jaret's tale. "How did you get free?"

Jaret smirked. "I slit my master's throat and ran away. Soon after, Stavus found me. He was a bit older and already led a small band of thieves. They took me in."

It was clear to Jen that Jaret intended to shock him with the rendition of his first, if that had been his first indeed, killing. But the truth was, he couldn't begrudge the child Jaret had once been this act. "And then?"

Jaret shrugged. "Being a small-time thief wasn't enough. Stavus went on to serve as a mercenary for a while but the soldierly life wasn't for me so we split up. I travelled around, joined the horde. Once I'd become their best fighter, I killed the leader and took over. Later Stavus found me again. Him and a few men had deserted and heard of our successes. So we joined forces."

"He was willing to follow you then?" The idea puzzled Jen. It was unusual for an older, more experienced man to willingly serve under a young one such as Jaret in battle, especially if the younger man had been under his command before. But then, Jen pegged most of the riders for being older than their leader. Must have been a testament to Jaret's strength - or ruthlessness - that he'd risen to power so quickly.

A fine sheen of sweat already covered Jaret's face and bare arms again, and absently he wiped at his heated cheeks. "Well, I wasn't going to be second man again. And Stavus…he had not much interest in anything. Not after he believed someone very dear lost to him forever."

"Krisian," Jen supplied.

Pursing his lips in thought, Jaret answered Jen with a slight nod. "Yes, Krisian. Whom your people saved and took in. So you see, little Jen, our fates seem to have been intertwined for some time now."

Balking at the thought Jen bit his lip. "That was nothing but chance." He noticed Jaret's drooping eyelids. "I'm finished and you should really go to sleep now. We can talk later."

Jaret visibly fought against being overtaken by sleep. "There are only two kinds of people, Jen, predator and prey. And I swore to myself under every stroke of the whip that if I got free, I'd never be prey again." Jaret spoke silently but his words were full of conviction.

"It doesn't need to be either - or," Jen protested. "You are a strong skilled warrior and you have something about you that commands attention. You could do so many things. Things to help. You could free slaves." .

Jaret smiled but it didn't reach his eyes. "Why should I? No one ever came to help me."

"Of course not. Not if they all think like you do," Jen countered.

Rubbing his hand across his forehead in a gesture of frustration, Jaret scoffed. "So they should think like you then? You know who did? My sister. She was forever trying to protect the children in the household. Not just me, all of them."

"Then she was very brave," Jen pointed out gently.

"She was a FOOL," Jaret answered heatedly. "Her reward was to die choking on her own blood, throat raw from her screams." Ignoring Jen's flinch at the words, Jaret closed his eyes. "Our owner, he made me watch. Held my head in an iron grip himself and forced my eyes to remain open till…till it was over. And for many years to come he used that very whip on me, the strands caked with her dried blood."

Jen looked away, fighting the urge to be ill.

Now Jaret's eyes opened again and he looked at Jen wistfully. "She had eyes like you, the same emerald colour as yours. Gentle and sweet they were as yours." Then his mouth became a bitter line. "Not in the end though."

Jen didn't know what to say. A part of him now understood the odd mixture of gentleness and anger Jaret had shown him and the almost guilt the man had displayed over Jen's whipping. But just because Jaret had convinced himself that helping others, even at the cost of one's own life, was a fool's endeavour, didn't make it true. What had been done to Jaret, to his sister, was pure evil. But it still wasn't a justification for the life Jaret led now or the things he did. Jen really believed in that.

"What if one day someone comes to take revenge on you? Some child you knowingly sold into hell?" The question was a challenge but Jen's tone was gentle, almost sad when he spoke.

Something flashed across Jaret's face but it was gone too quickly for Jen to pin down. And he got the distinct impression he was missing something important still.

But Jaret just pursed his lips in thought. "Hm, maybe one day I'll find out." His lids fluttered close once more and sighing, he shuffled down till he was resting in a comfortable position. Within moments his breathing evened out.

Because apparently their conversation was finished for the time being, Jen was left to mull over what he had just learned. He pulled the furs up to fully cover Jaret and sat back. His rumbling stomach and another pressing need of his body demanded his attention and for now a welcome distraction. With one last glance at Jaret, he went outside to take care of his needs. Doing so quickly, he tried his best to evade Tomin's silent questioning gaze as once again he left the tent alone and still there was no sign of Jaret.

When he returned, Jen made himself comfortable by sitting down and leaning against the post he'd been tied to in the early days of his captivity. The thought was almost amusing - in a losing-ones-mind-way at least. He balanced a plate with bread and some fruit in his lap and started eating silently. Jaret had taken up a light snoring that was almost endearing. Once more he looked so young and innocent with his features slackened in sleep. For a moment Jen even believed to see another, much younger face lying over Jaret's like a mirage. It was the face of a slave child, full of misery and pain. Jen tried to banish the image from his mind.

He finished with the food and carefully tucked all the items back into his medicine bag, always keeping a watchful eye on Jaret but the man never stirred. Finally Jen just closed his eyes as well, being bored since there was nothing else to do for him yet. And if he were to step outside it would look too suspicious. With Jaret remaining in the tent, it made more sense for him to be here as well.

He must have dozed off because the voices outside didn't immediately register with him.

"This is outrageous. How much longer are we supposed to wait out here in this dirt hole?"

Jen groaned. Chadan of course. It just had been too much to ask apparently to have that weasel not appear at an inopportune moment.

"We will break up the camp when Jaret decides it's time. He doesn't need to justify himself to you. I thought you would have learned that by now."

The answering voice belonged to Stavus and Jen hoped the man knew what he was doing.

A tiny sound drew his attention back to Jaret who was now awake and rising up on his elbows. Jen shook his head, putting a finger to his lips.

"The men have waited long enough. And the slaves won't get any fresher either. Besides, you look well enough again. Only now our great leader decides to enjoy the ale too much."

Chadan again. Jaret raised his brow at the words but Jen felt confident in his plan. At least for now.

"What are you angry at Chadan? That he didn't share? You have no business talking. How many times have you irreparably damaged a perfectly good slave and cost us a fortune while you were drunk?"

Stavus' voice sounded out again and Jen flinched. That had probably been the wrong thing to say for it might give Chadan an opening. Of course Chadan's next words confirmed his fears.

"Better take a look at that pretty little healer then, eh. Boy will get us a good price. Make sure Jaret didn't permanently…cheapen his worth."

Chadan's voice was getting closer and Jen saw Jaret tense and getting unsteadily to his feet. He groaned, this could only end in disaster. Then an idea struck him. He ducked under Jaret's arm to steady him and led them both over to the tent's entrance. "Play along," he whispered.

A look of confusion met him, Jaret's still somewhat drowsy and bloodshot blinking heavily. Excellent, Jen thought.

Taking a deep breath, he pulled back the heavy tarp and coughed, drawing both Chadan's and Stavus' gazes to him, the latter's eyes bulging. Krisian silently kept to the back.

"Would have thought you learned your lesson, Chadan. Maybe you'll need to… repeat it."

From his position Jen couldn't see Jaret's face but he was sure the man was sporting a smirk. Thankfully Jaret's slightly slurred speech fitted well enough with a drunk.

It seemed as if the recent events - Chadan still sported a few heavy bruises from 'training' with Jaret - had made the man more careful because his posture slumped immediately. "No, no, won't be necessary. I was just… worried about you," Chadan forced out with fake sincerity.

"Touching. Now leave. We'll break camp when I say so."

Chadan hesitated. "And the slave? Maybe it's best he stays in another tent so you can rest undisturbed."

Jaret snorted. Jen felt him wobbling a bit and tried to steady him further. "Slave is fine…still fresh. Aren't you?" The latter was directed at Jen, Jaret's lip coming to rest on the soft skin of Jen's neck.

Jen felt his cheeks warm at the insinuation but he humbly bowed his head, muttering a small "Yes."

"See, he blushes like a virgin, obviously untouched," Stavus pointed out while managing to sound both grim and cheerful at once.

Jen was rather impressed by it. He also felt his blush getting deeper, catching Krisian's half apologetic shrug.

Now Jaret spoke again. "So if you haven't come to ask me for a rematch later…?" He paused, looking at Chadan who gulped, then shook his head. "Then I suggest you go about your business. But if it helps you to know, we will break camp the day after tomorrow."

Swallowing the reprimand waiting on his tongue, Jen said nothing. He would have preferred Jaret gave himself at least a day more of rest.

Stavus opened his mouth in obvious protest but Jaret fixed him with another glare. "Do you not feel strong enough?"

Jen wanted to bang all their heads together. Of course the question, phrased like this, only left Stavus one possible answer if he didn't want to appear weak. Stavus didn't even bother answering other than with a curt headshake while Krisian's face remained impassive. But Jen knew him well enough to be confident that he shared in Jen's dislike.

"Good, then it stands. In two days time we're moving," Jaret announced.

"And we can expect you to be rested by then?" Chadan asked.

"Oh, I'll be there to oversee proper discipline, don't worry."

A quick upwards glance showed Jen that Jaret was sporting a hyena-like smile now and upon Jaret's nod, he let the tent fall closed once more, catching a final glance at Chadan's half suspicious, half pleased face.

Manhandling Jaret back to his previous position on the furs, Jen's shoulders slumped in relief as the tension from just a moment ago drained out of him.

Jaret looked exhausted as well. Still he wore a tiny grin. "So I'm drunk then?"

Jen nodded.

"Your idea?"

Another nod.

"You are a wily one, little Jen."

* * *



The two days passed quickly and before Jen knew it their time here had come to an end. Jaret while not up to full strength could move on his own two legs without falling over and that seemed good enough for him. He claimed to being able to rest well enough in the saddle, which Jen was dubious about but there wasn't much he could do.

After all the waiting the riders were restless and the decision to finally break camp was welcomed. The work of taking down the tents and loading everything up on four heavy carts was done quickly though they wouldn't start their journey before dusk had settled to escape the heat during the day. Jen's tribe had done the same whenever they were about to travel to another water-place.

At least he'd convinced Jaret to put the four smallest children on one of the carts. Unsurprisingly Chadan had protested but Jaret had rightly pointed out how the slaves walking by foot would slow them down enough, the little ones would be hopeless.

Jen was caught between shame and relief when he wasn't shackled down with the others but allowed to walk freely next to Jaret's horse. None of the men had protested that decision - especially not in the face of Jaret's seemingly sombre mood. Only Jen could see the tiny beads of sweat still clinging to Jaret's neck. Stavus was throwing worried glances at Jaret's way ever so often, and frankly, Jen wanted to smack him for it. The man was drawing way too much attention to the unusual paleness of Jaret's face, the grim line of his mouth and the rigid lines of his shoulders.

Thankfully they didn't have to travel all through the night but instead set up a temporary camp some time before dawn broke again. Jen could hear Jaret's relieved sigh when he dismounted his horse and Jen's own sandal-clad feet were grateful for the reprieve as well. They didn't build up the tents - too much work - but instead laid themselves down next to the campfires that had been lit.

Under Chadan's sour looks, Jaret pointedly pulled Jen into his arms, enclosing both of them in Jaret's cloak and the heavy furs. Jen didn't complain, the air was chilly and he welcomed the shared body warmth. His heart sank when he caught the downright hostile looks from two members of his tribe, though. Not that he could blame them. To their eyes Jen must have looked like a spoiled little lap dog. Did they think he'd sold himself for comfort? He hadn't had the opportunity to really talk to them since the captivity and had more and more noticed the curious and confused looks they'd thrown him. It was nowhere near as bad as the downright hate they showed Krisian but Jen felt sad, thinking the people who'd known him all his life would think badly of him.

"Sleep," Jaret bellowed affectionately, one arm enclosing Jen's waist fully, drawing him even closer. Soon his light snores told Jen he'd fallen asleep. Jen didn't have much choice but to follow him into the land of dreams.

Early the next morning the sad-looking little caravan resumed their journey, again stopping when the sun had started to climb ever higher to wait out the hottest hours. Posts were rammed into the sand and tarps fastened on top of them to create places where the riders and prisoners alike could find shade. Water was rationed out now and Jen's lips were already dry and cracked. He'd always hated those journeys with the tribe though at least back then he'd known where they would go and how long it would take them. Their group travelled in the direction of the setting sun now, unfamiliar territory for Jen. He'd asked Jaret how long it would take them to reach their destination but Jaret had just grumbled a non-answer.

After four days of such travelling they reached another oasis where they replenished their reserves on food and water. A tiny village was nearby and Jaret used this to make good on his bargain with Jen, having Tomin deliver the little family to them. Apparently the villagers occasionally provided food and shelter for the horde in exchange for being left alone by them. Jen felt disgust at hearing this but Jaret rightly pointed out this also meant they would take in the new arrivals without question. Jen watched them go as well as the confused faces of the other prisoners. He watched their hopeful faces crumble when they themselves remained in shackles.

Jen was tired, his feet carrying heavy blisters from all the walking. He could only imagine how it must feel for the other prisoners in their heavy bounds. He tentatively brought up the idea to look after them with Jaret, to no avail. Jen even argued that surely it wouldn't look too compelling for potential buyers to see these exhausted, dead-on-their-feet people. Jaret informed him that once they arrived at a place called Ylesia they would set up camp again and give the slaves some time to rest, clean them and make them presentable.

He had quivered with anger upon hearing the way Jaret talked about this. He barely refrained from inquiring if this had been done with Jaret as well when he'd been sold into slavery. As much as he tried Jen wasn't able to reconcile the former slave boy with the man who talked bout people like things. In Jaret's place Jen imagined he would seek vengeance against the slavers, not help them.

However they stayed for a full day at the oasis to allow everybody some rest. Over the next two days Jen noticed the changes in their surroundings. More and more spots of green broke could be found.

Finally twelve full days after they had started their journey Jen laid eyes on something he'd never seen before, a large stream of water. Granted it wasn't as clear blue as he had expected, but his eyes could neither find its beginning nor its end which made it wondrous enough for him. And in the distance, like a trick of light, Jen could see the silhouette of what must have been one of those settlements he had always heard about. Or even a city like Jaret had refered to as his place of birth. It looked huge to Jen's eyes. As they came closer he could make out the stone wall surrounding it and behind it the tops of large buildings, also made of stone.

They set up camp at the stream not far from the city really, this time unloading the carts and building up the tents. And within a days' work, everything looked familiar again to Jen though they weren't surrounded by endless-seeming sand dunes anymore. Nor were they alone. A camp looking much like their own could be seen a bit farther away. Jen wondered if these were honourable traders or if were in the business of selling people as well.

At least the prisoners were ushered into two tents where they - so Jen hoped - finally would be allowed some rest. He knew there wasn't much time left. If they were to escape, it had to be soon. And by the looks of it, he was the only one who could help them, he just had no idea how to accomplish it.

He was still playing out various possible strategies in his head when he and Jaret had retreated for the night again but had not yet lain down. Thusly the fact that Jaret addressed him didn't pierce his busy mind at first.

"…hear what I said?"

"What?" Jen looked up.

"I said you're useful to have around," Jaret remarked. Absently he rubbed over the probably itching spot on his leg where Jen's herbs had been working their magic.

Jen shrugged. "I only did what I was trained to do."

"I've met healers before. None of them handled those in their care with such gentleness and patience. Or treated them in the first place when they had little reason to."

Not knowing how to respond to the praise, Jen shrugged again. "I already told you, I only did it because I didn't want to fall into the hands of Chadan."

"Hm." Jaret looked at him intently so Jen turned his head to the side again. "Then I think he is useful to keep around as well."

"To have you look better to your captives. I don't know if that weighs against his desire to overthrow or even kill you."

Jaret chuckled lightly. "He has other uses."

Jen raised a brow.

"He knows his way around the big markets, has good relations to a few big traders," Jaret explained.

Angrily tugging at the hem of his tunic, Jen couldn't help the bitterness in his voice. "Slavers, you mean."

"I think we already had this talk. Nothing's changed. It's what I do." Now there was a sharp tone in Jaret's voice. "Besides, it won't be your fate now," he added dismissively.

Jen's brow furrowed. "What…what do you mean?"

"Simple, I'm in your debt. For that I will not sell you as a slave."

"When you say that you're not talking about releasing me either?" Jen clarified.

Slowly Jaret shook his head. "No."

Slapping his leg angrily, Jen huffed. "So we're back at me being your slave again?"

Jaret sighed. "I really don't understand why you are being so obstinate. I give you my word you will not be mistreated."

"Whatever that's worth," Jen blurted out.

"Of course when I say no mistreatment, I'm excluding warming your backside with my hand," Jaret retorted. "I think I've given you reason to trust that I'm a man of my word."

A blush rose in Jen's face at the allusion. He didn't doubt Jaret would make good on that threat. "And other things? What else do you exclude?

"You will not be taken by force, by me or anybody else, if that's what you mean."

Jen bit his lip in frustration. "But… but you can't just keep me. I mean what if I kill you in your sleep?" Not that he was sure he could ever make good on such a threat.

Apparently Jaret shared his doubts. "You don't have it in you."

"I could learn," Jen insisted.

"Maybe," Jaret conceded. He grinned. "But I love a good challenge."

"I could kill myself," Jen pointed out. He didn't even know why he argued so desperately against Jaret's new plan. It was pretty much what Krisian had proposed and what even Jen had thought about, only better as he wouldn't even have to… submit to Jaret in bed.

Jaret raised a brow. "No. You don't want to die. I've seen men who long for it. Their eyes look different."

"That could change too."

Jaret sighed. "I already told you that you wouldn't be mistreated or raped. Believe me you won't get a better deal on the slave markets."

"What if I don't want special treatment? What if I decide to share the fate of my tribesmen?" Jen asked stubbornly.

The look Jaret gave him clearly spoke of the low regard he held for Jen's sanity on the matter. "Then I'd tell you that it's not your decision to make. Last time I gave you the choice, not anymore. I want you, I'll keep you."

"What about the money? I thought everybody was greatly looking forward to me being sold?" Jen asked sourly.

"They'll have to learn to live with it."

Jen threw up his hands in frustration. "I just don't know what you seek to gain by this. You can find another healer yet you'd risk all the trouble just to keep me and still mean to tell me you wouldn't…" He trailed off embarrassed.

Now Jaret grinned. "Well, I promise not to use force, I don't promise never to try seduction."

The way Jaret's voice became soft and deep at the last word made Jen squirm uncomfortably. "But you can't--"

"Enough of this now. It's getting tedious," Jaret interrupted him. "You stay and everybody else will be sold. This is my final word."

Considering Jaret's tone Jen knew it would be better to let it rest for the time being but time was the one thing he was quickly running out of. "Even the children?" He tried again.

"Did I not just make myself clear? You really need to let go of these delusions you seem to have developed. My past didn't keep me before from doing what I do. Why in the Gods' names do you believe you knowing about it would make a difference?" He looked at Jen as if this earnestly puzzled him.

And maybe he was, Jen figured. Jaret was right. If his own experiences weren't enough to keep Jaret from selling children, nothing a lowly slave did or said about it would either. For some reason seeing Jaret's scars had let Jen to believe that he could convince Jaret of the wrongness of his actions. It was like Jen had spotted a wound or a broken bone on the other man that given enough time or effort Jen would be able to reach, to mend, heal. It had called out to him as a healer.

But now he saw that it had been a foolish hope. Jaret was lost and he had been lost long since before Jen had met him. What had been broken had long since been grown together, badly and crooked but nevertheless in a way that didn't leave a healer with anything else to do. He simply didn't have enough knowledge to change it. An overwhelming wave of disappointment hit Jen, making him slump where he sat.

"I think it's better for us both if I handle things quickly," Jaret mused. "I'll take the children to the markets tomorrow."

That made Jen sit up straight again. "Tomorrow? So soon. But…I…please don't punish them to prove a point to me."

Jaret's smile was almost pitying, and right now Jen hated him for it. "I always sell them separately from the adults. And tomorrow or a day after that, what does it matter really?"

Jen just stared at him. "Can I see them one more time? Say good bye?" He finally asked.

"I don't see the point of it. But if that will open your eyes to the truth at last," Jaret shrugged "then yes, you may see them."

"Thank you," Jen responded tonelessly. Maybe Jaret was beyond help but there where others for whom that wasn't so true. And Jen promised himself that if it was the last thing he ever did, he'd make sure those children would not be sold into slavery.

* * *

Chapter 5

Comments

( 77 have dazzled me — Dazzle me )
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runedgirl
Dec. 16th, 2007 02:03 am (UTC)
I always want these chapters to be longer! Then again, I'm really glad you're going slowly, it seems right, and anticipation is half the fun after all. :)
Thanks,
Lynsey
astri13
Dec. 16th, 2007 02:15 pm (UTC)
Haha, I make delayed gratification into an art form which is ironic since I`m an instant gratification person. :) So glad you`re sticking with it regardless. Thank you muchly.
shiny_starlight
Dec. 16th, 2007 02:06 am (UTC)
Awwww. Poor Jen! And he had such high hoped for Jaret too. :( I am so loving this and cant wait for tghe next chapter!
astri13
Dec. 16th, 2007 02:17 pm (UTC)
Awww, well, don`t give up on Jaret just yet. :) Glad you enjoyed it. Thank you so much.
angels3
Dec. 16th, 2007 02:08 am (UTC)
Shit this is not going to go well at all. I'm already cringing at the reprecussions. Because if Jensen gets away with it and even if he doesn't then he's going to be punished and I bet I know who will volunteer and Jaret can't be seen as weak and not allow it and I don't know how Krisian is going to deal with that either. Not to mention Tomin and Stavus.
astri13
Dec. 16th, 2007 02:18 pm (UTC)
Oooh, shiny speculation. I like it. :) Thank you muchly.
jacey26
Dec. 16th, 2007 03:13 am (UTC)
This fic can go on forever. I love it! Ok, but some hot sex would be good too.
astri13
Dec. 16th, 2007 02:21 pm (UTC)
Hehe, I can`t believe I`m writing raunchy barbarian fic and so far couldn`t get to the sex. But it`s a bit tricky to not go too dub-con. Still, it will come. :)
Glad you`re taking the ride regardless. Thank you so much.
hyperhermit
Dec. 16th, 2007 03:17 am (UTC)
Wow
What an update! Gosh how cold is Jared with eyes only for Jen. We feel pity for him about what happened and than think what is wrong with him?! He knows what its like! Its like the abuse victims in childhood groing up to be abused.
Heartbrakignly beautifull.
I love it, but goodness what is Jen to do? He is such a sweetheart in this, i hope he is not hurt.
And hoe cute that its the eyes that got Jared, he does have nice eyes.

astri13
Dec. 16th, 2007 02:24 pm (UTC)
Re: Wow
He knows what its like! Its like the abuse victims in childhood groing up to be abused.

*nod nod* Exactly what I was going for.

I love it, but goodness what is Jen to do? He is such a sweetheart in this, i hope he is not hurt.

*cuddles him protectively*

And hoe cute that its the eyes that got Jared, he does have nice eyes.

His eyes, well Jensen`s of course, were the very first thing about him that made me go weak in the knees. :)

Thank you so much.
9thof9
Dec. 16th, 2007 03:46 am (UTC)
Great update.
"Well, I promise not to use force, I don't promise never to try seduction."

I can't wait for the seduction.
astri13
Dec. 16th, 2007 02:25 pm (UTC)
Hehe, I know. I can`t wait for the pron myself. :)

Thank you muchly. Glad you still enjoy it.
shadow_cat189
Dec. 16th, 2007 04:15 am (UTC)
You know, just this morning I was thinkin about this story and when I got home there it was on my flist!

I'm still loving this story, and I can't wait to see Jen's plan (although I'm already picturing the repurcussions...)
astri13
Dec. 16th, 2007 02:26 pm (UTC)
Woohoo, thinky thoughts about ficcie. :) That is such a great compliment. Thank you so much.
(Deleted comment)
astri13
Dec. 16th, 2007 02:29 pm (UTC)
do you have a ancient history interest or background? i'm studying along those lines in school and i'm really impressed. can't wait for more!

I`m a history nut but it`s strictly a hobby for me. My Mom is a history teacher though so she gives me some pointers every now and then. :)

I really love historical AUs but I haven`t seen so much either so I just had to write one myself. *g*

Glad you`re enjoying it. Thank you muchly.
timian
Dec. 16th, 2007 04:34 am (UTC)
YAY! An update! I'm enjoying this 'verse so much, and I'm always so happy to see a new installment. Seriously, this thing could go on forever. Thanks so much for sharing it with us. :)
astri13
Dec. 16th, 2007 02:33 pm (UTC)
YAY! An update! I'm enjoying this 'verse so much, and I'm always so happy to see a new installment. Seriously, this thing could go on forever.

Hehe, just picture 93year old me still writing barbarian porn. :) I`m glad you`re loving it this far and hope the resolution won`t be a letdown. *wibble*
Thank you so much.
wine_into_water
Dec. 16th, 2007 04:41 am (UTC)
GUH! I am in love with this! I'm almost afraid to read the updates in fear of being burned (haven't had the best of luck with past fics that I have loved) This is such an amazing and interesting world you have created, Jaret is so hard to get a handle on and Jen is just so innocent and sweet.

I can't wait to see what's in store for these two, but I'm really hoping it's a happy ending. ♥
astri13
Dec. 16th, 2007 02:42 pm (UTC)
I'm almost afraid to read the updates in fear of being burned (haven't had the best of luck with past fics that I have loved)

Heh, and everytime I post it`s like: oh dear, will this be the one where everybody thinks I lost all my marbles? *g* So I`m thrilled you`re enjoying it thus far and hope the ending won`t be a letdown either. Thank you so much.

I can't wait to see what's in store for these two, but I'm really hoping it's a happy ending. ♥

I don`t want to give too much away but I can tell you that too sad endings make me cry. ;-)
vunadiwai
Dec. 16th, 2007 05:24 am (UTC)
Enjoying this & looking forward to next chapter XD
astri13
Dec. 16th, 2007 05:23 pm (UTC)
Yay, this makes me happy to read. Thanks muchly.

opiumandjasmine
Dec. 16th, 2007 08:31 am (UTC)
I've got to say, when I first started to read this story, I thought I wasn't going to like it, mostly because I'm an archaeology major with an emphasis on the Bronze Age. So I was worried. But by keeping the setting somewhat vague, it really helps the story, as you're not bogging it down with facts that would make people reading the story want to go research (like me -_-).
(that sounds vaguely bad, but I think it's a compliment, as by doing that, you can't really get a lot wrong and get major flames)

After the first chapter, I started to enjoy this story, and now I can't wait for updates. You're one of the few people who seems to be able to write historical fanfiction without making people cringe.

Cannot wait for the next chapter!
astri13
Dec. 16th, 2007 05:24 pm (UTC)
(that sounds vaguely bad, but I think it's a compliment, as by doing that, you can't really get a lot wrong and get major flames)

No, no this is a great compliment for me, especially considering how it is your specialty. I love historical AUs though haven't seen many in this fandom. And I knew this would be a bit of a daunting task but only when I started writing, I noticed how much. All: Can I use this phrase? Does this figure of speech make sense for the timeframe? What utensils would they have? Clothes. Food. Social life. So I tried not to "name names" on top of that.

Also since I'm a history nut I just can't bring myself to "Hollywoodize" my stuff and go for gimmicks like "oh lookie, Stavus served in the Trojan war under General Marc Anthony before Alexander the Great took over" or "one time Jen met a guy called Gilgamesh in the desert who was looking for his friend Enkidu". *g*

So I'm thrilled you gave the story a go regardless and of course that you liked it. Thank you so much.
(no subject) - opiumandjasmine - Dec. 17th, 2007 02:03 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - astri13 - Dec. 17th, 2007 12:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - opiumandjasmine - Dec. 17th, 2007 05:23 pm (UTC) - Expand
legoline
Dec. 16th, 2007 09:03 am (UTC)
Ooooh, the plot thickens. Really liked this chapter :-)
astri13
Dec. 16th, 2007 05:25 pm (UTC)
Ooooh, the plot thickens.

So does the volume of the fic. J But yay, glad you liked. Thank you.

pomavera
Dec. 16th, 2007 09:06 am (UTC)
I'm loving this sooo much. I was hoping the sexual tension could be played up a bit but still it's so so gripping ang great. I just can't wait for the next chapter. I love love virgin!Jensen...and you are one of the best at it! Thank you for writing this!
astri13
Dec. 16th, 2007 05:25 pm (UTC)
I was hoping the sexual tension could be played up a bit but still it's so so gripping ang great.

I chase the porn but so far it has eluded me. But I'm on it. It will come.

I love love virgin!Jensen...and you are one of the best at it!

Awww. I don't know what my thing is with Virgin!Jensen. I just know that it IS a thing. *g*

Thank you so much.
listentorabbits
Dec. 16th, 2007 09:53 am (UTC)
Seven??? YAY!!!
I hope it will expand to 10 or 15! *glee*
This was wonderful. Jaret is keeping Jen and that's just.. well, that I knew would happen, but... yay!
Can't wait for the next one.
astri13
Dec. 16th, 2007 05:26 pm (UTC)
Seven??? YAY!!!
I hope it will expand to 10 or 15! *glee*


Squeak. With my ability for succinctness that may very will still happen.

This was wonderful. Jaret is keeping Jen and that's just.. well, that I knew would happen, but... yay!

Well, Jaret is a smart guy after all. With great taste. :D Glad you liked. Thank you so much.
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