The Trials of Slaves, Chapter 23-24

Keerla is firm with Tad. A seed is planted.

Chapter 23.

Elysahone.

Keerla stood back from the crowd at the portal terminal, waiting for the girl who had presented the interesting opportunities. Villia emerged, without collar and with her brother and her mother and grandmother, Villia’s mother still wearing her collar rather militantly. Keerla grinned and said, “You all came!”

“I brought them, Keerla,” Villia said. “My uncle is playing games about being busy. I may arrange a malfunction in his still.”

“Where are your father and grandfather?”
“Father is still in the Republic. Grandfather and Goren are looking at the arrangements for next year. Grandfather wants Goren more involved in the winery side of the business.”

“I also see that Tad is alone.”
“Immianthe had to stay at home today. Her tutor is making her write a report about her experiences in the Republic for her grandfather.”

“Well, ladies, and Tad. Why don’t I take you to lunch and discuss certain things.”

“We had a good time in the Republic and I recommend the Crystal Palace for your honeymoon. They know how to pamper their guests.”
“How long did you stay?”
“Three days. Grandfather and Goren were attending a large wine conference, which was fun too and grandfather made off with a gold medal. We had samples shipped down and some barrels for the bladderball game party. The vineyard is going to be doing more business in the Republic.”

The group sat down to lunch and Keerla said, “Tad, the reason I wanted you here was that there are things in the Sanctuary that you are the only one who can find and will have time to do so. Your sister is going to be busy and so is your father. I don’t know how much time we have, since my relatives will want to know what is going on. So, I want you to make a habit of visiting frequently and poking deep into things.”

“What about Immianthe.”
“You may have to set her aside for a time. She has her own tasks and while you enjoy being together, I may have to ask you to do the things that your family and mine need first.”

“She won’t like that.”
“She should know that a healthy relationship means that you are not her possession. Yddren and I certainly know that we have separate lives even when we share. You will have to set some boundaries for yourself.”

“I’m just a slave.”

Keerla looked coldly at Tad, “That is one thing that we in the family cannot allow you to say. Going forward, you will be the city’s representative in the Conclave. If you persist in thinking of yourself as a slave, my family cannot accept the agreement. That goes for you, or any others in your family. That is something that is nonnegotiable. In order for us to be free, you must be free. I think that was where things went wrong and the city became isolated. I understand the reasons why your family placed itself in bondage, but you left folk out in the wilderness where the monsters could use us.” Keerla looked at the ladies and said, “Is that understood.”

Aelua looked at Keerla and said, “We understand. The family has been discussing this, with the family coming together to do so. We will, the core family, not allow ourselves to return to the kind of bondage that allowed so many of us to be used as tools. The witch is gone, dead by her own hand, but there may be others looking to take her place. The family may have mitigated that with something that was a surprise, as you will discover.”

“If I am not a slave, what am I?” Tad asked.”

“That is for you to decide,” Keerla said. “You will be husband to Immianthe and  our representative. Those things certainly, but I would not limit yourself. A great builder, healer, even a mage, a great visionary. Who knows what you may become, as long as you stop saying that you are just anything. Look at me. Two years ago I decided to leave my very nice cage and look at what happened. I have a life that I could not imagine in the dome. A life that is going forward and continues to be amazing, with an amazing partner to help and support me in facing challenges. I know that you are young and still a bit doubtful about things. The problem is that we don’t have the time for doubts at present. So we must face the challenges and overcome.”

Tad looked at Keerla and said with a twinge in his voice, “I will try.”

“You will. So, no more talk about being just a slave.”

“What if I need to fool somebody?”
“I will allow you to use your judgment in cases like that. Do you have a lot of people you need to fool?”
“Not right now, but your family and the others needed to be fooled.”

“You have my permission to fool any members of my family that kidnap you again. After all, even doing that the first time was foolish.”

Chapter 24.

Neuw Athlin

Veral looked at the stakes and grinned. Like his previous attempt to claim a property, the plot felt right to him. Dugal rode up and said, “At least you have the ok from the registry this time, milord.”

“You made sure of that, Dugal.”

“It will be a long time before we have a true house here.”

“Yes it will. What was that?”

“Where?”
“Over there.”

“There doesn’t seem to be anything.”

Firerose grinned as she watched the pair from concealment. She had wondered about the young count when her father had mentioned him. The count had, rather than taking a plot for his new house, ridden around the city before choosing the space atop a small hill. The plot was far outside her father’s plans, almost at the shield border, but to Fire’s fae senses, felt comfortable. Apparently the count felt the same as well.

Rosie had been playing a game with the count, using various glamor techniques and some things she obtained from the Lower City, the Yllanan and the Sanctuary. Teasing the young count was fun. One thing Rosie was sure of. The count had fae ancestors. The fact that he was sensitive to mana flows demonstrated that. Rosie’s father hadn’t picked up on the mana flows in the city, at least he hadn’t mentioned them, but Rosie and her brothers had. The problem was how to discuss that with her father and discovering more without a Lorekeeper, something the Camp lacked at present. Rosie jumped back to the office and her other tasks.

Ald watched the various people looking at the hill as he dug his hole with the shovel he had found. Soon the hole would be large enough and he could plant the Seed. After much consideration, he and the Seed had chosen this place as the best location for the new grove. Now all he had to do was plant the seed and the grove could grow.

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