Azhure: This is going to be something new that I’m going to try under the Wizards of the Otherworldly Court Other Stories. It still takes place in the Wizards of the Otherworldly Court universe except there is little to no involvement of Court Wizard.
Voice: Except for one story!
Azhure: Yes, and it will be important to the history of the aforementioned Secret Nation. If you didn’t know, Secret Nation Chronicles will be a series of loosely connected one-shots, that may be split into multiple parts (which means it wouldn’t be a one-shot), surrounding the Secret Nation before its eventual reveal.
Azhure: It will be sparsely updated. After all parts of the pilot are finished, the next one-shot will only be done after book Five, Twenty-three, and Twenty-nine Years is completed.
Voice: Anyway, here’s the description!
In the ashes of the Great War, the races of Erdale gathered together beyond the Forest of Demons and found a book.
Fia’s life was miserable as far as she can see.
She was just a simple villager living peacefully with her parents in the forests of Elvarn, the elven kingdom. She remembered the times where she grew up there, running around the forest playing with the other elves. She wasn’t popular or anything having a shy demeanor and all, but she was, in fact, the village beauty, and she was very conscious of it, as boys would line up trying to woo her when all of them has become of age.
But that all came to an end when her village was attacked by the Holy Erdal empire, the largest human empire of Erdale which the empire was named after, as they invaded the kingdom. Fia still has nightmares of her burning village as imperial soldiers torched her home to ashes.
Father… Fia internally sobbed, vividly remembering her father, who often took her out on his huntings, skewered by the imperials trying to defend her and her mother.
The imperials threw her and the surviving villagers into cages like animals and even strapped them with collars to boot. It was clear what the imperials were doing to them.
Mother, I miss you… Fia cried to herself remembering the moment she was separated from her mother as the villagers were being bought up by various slave traders. Because of her looks, she was immediately sold off and her mother couldn’t do anything as her buyer refused to buy her too no matter how much she begged.
That was half a decade ago, more or less – Fia couldn’t keep track of the time. Although it was a short time for elves, it felt like an eternity to her as she was systematically sold off from one slave trader to the next, her price getting higher each time. She would be in one cage where she would get acquainted with her fellow slaves for a couple of months before being sold off and thrown into another cage with strangers.
It was a string of luck, all things considered, that all of her buyers were other slave traders. Most likely, they saw her looks and thought they could make a bigger profit from her. It was ludicrous, that Fia has been passed off left and right like that, but that was what happened.
However, her prices can only rise so high. Eventually, she would be bought by a ‘proper’ buyer and that was what she was dreading for hearing stories of what slaves like her were used for. If she’s still lucky, she might only be some servant of a female noble, but if not, she doesn’t want to imagine it.
RATTLE RATTLE RATTLE RATTLE
Spirit deity save me! Fia prayed as she marched with the other slaves chain-linked together onto a wooden stage in the heart of the Erdal empire, Erda. This was her second time being here, the first when she was captured and separated from her mother. It really came full circle.
“Alright, folks! I got here…” the slave trader started talking to which Fia has heard countless times already. She always filtered it out at this point.
Looking at the crowd, Fia was quite aware of the skimpy rag, which can get cold in winters which was a miracle she never froze to death, she was wearing revealing her figure for all the world to see, and so has grown used to the stares she got from men lusting over her. The slave traders who bought her at least saw her as a huge gold pot.
“Uuh…” Fia felt her left arm being held along with a whimper. She looked down to her left to see Chloe, a young cat beast girl who, judging by her stature, could be no more than nine staring back at her with her obsidian eyes. Damn the empire for daring to enslave a child.
“…Stay close to me,” Fia told her to which she obliged. The elf couldn’t give her a word of reassurance given their position. Still, she needed to do something for the little girl whose ears were twitching above her short black hair and tail shivering from the cold breeze despite her clothing covering more than what Fia wore. The slave collars on their necks were at least decent scarves.
“…her price starts at three-hundred gold erum!” the slave trader yelled as he waved his arm towards Fia.
“Th-Three-hundred gold erum! That’s three hundred million erum!”
“I get that she is pretty, but three-hundred gold is too much! That’s almost ten times the price of even the most prized slaves!”
“With that kind of money, you don’t even need to work for years!”
Of course, with that declaration of a starting price, the crowd would throw a fit. No slave ever reached triple digits in gold. That was why Fia was being sold here in hopes of having a buyer, as some of the crowd looked gaudy so they must be imperial nobles. Even then, the merchant had the gall to auction her with the amount of money he charged first.
Naturally, most of them hesitated, much to the trader’s visible chagrin. Even though they have deep pockets, three-hundred gold erum was still too much money for a single slave. Most likely, it’ll be the same as every other ci-
“I will buy her!”
The crowd turned their attention to their middle. As they give space for the speaker, Fia saw the most rotund man she has ever seen. She never knew there would be someone with a barrel for a body but here he was, raising his hand beside his plump chin and balding hair while dressed in a gaudy gold outfit.
“Ooh! Count Hamburg!”
“He always buys the highest quality slaves!”
“Oho, I see you have good taste for beauty, my lord,” the slave trader smiled while rubbing his hands together.
“Of course, mister trader,” count Hamburg said proudly as he marched to the front with the crowd giving way. “That silver hair of hers is very rare among elves and it pairs nicely with her turquoise eyes. It would be a shame to pass up because of your price,” the count rubbed his chin as he stared holes at the elf. “And her body is well proportioned in the right places too. Ooh, she would be very excellent in bed,” he murmured with a smirk, something Fia caught with her sharp ears.
In response, Fia squeezed herself, trying to make herself small. It wouldn’t work as her long silver hair did indeed make her stand out among the crowd. All she could do was hold Chloe, who no one seemed to bother, tight as the fat noble looked at her with lust.
“Very well then,” the trader said happily, practically skipping. “I’ll get the documents for your purchase.”
“Pleasure doing business with you,” the count twirled his nonexistent mustache.
Ah… So this is it, Fia thought. The trader didn’t bother to ask anyone if they would raise the price. Who would? Her price was already outrageous as it was.
Regardless, after years of trading slave traders, she was finally bought out by some fat noble. It must be punishment for evading this fate for so long. She was, of course, scared that this will happen, ever since she was enslaved, in fact. But now that it did, she felt… resigned. It must the cynical part of her that grew as a slave telling her that it was inevitable for her to be sold as a-
“Three hundred and one gold!”
Everyone was surprised by the sudden voice. Looking to its source, they saw a young man coming from the other corner raising his hand. He was nothing special, really, having short brown hair and eyes of the same color on a face that’s common throughout the empire. But what really set him apart from others was his blue vest over his ordinary merchant clothing.
“He’s a merchant from the Blue Doves!”
“Blue Doves? Is that a merchant guild?”
“Yes, my lord. They are quite prominent, and I believe they also sell goods to the nobles.”
“Now that you mention it, I do remember buying jewelry for my wife from them.”
The Blue Doves merchant guild. Fia has heard bits and pieces of the guild from conversations she has overheard. Apparently, it’s a famous merchant guild that has only existed for around a century and yet has become more prosperous than older guilds thanks to special commodities they sold no one else has or something.
And the blue vest also makes them stand out a lot, Fia thought, remembering a couple of Blue Doves merchants she had seen before.
“Um, what do you need, sir?” the slave trader asked the Blue Doves merchant confusingly.
“As I said, I want to buy her,” the Blue Doves merchant said callously, pointing at Fia. “And I’m raising the price to three hundred and one gold erum. This is an auction, is it not?”
That surprised everyone once it registered, to say the least. Though the Blue Doves merchant being here should have already explained that already.
“So they trade slaves as well.”
“Not really? I’ve only seen them buying slaves, but never sell them. My guess is they want cheap labor for the products they make.”
“Is that so?”
Right, they also do that, Fia remembered. She has seen many of the blue vests who bought quite the number of slaves while on stage, but not her for obvious reasons which begged the question, why now?
“I will say it again, I want to buy Fia and I’m bidding for three hundred and one gold erum,” the Blue Doves merchant repeated. “Is there a problem, trader?”
“No! Certainly not!” the slave trader fumbled. Clearly, he didn’t expect someone to bid on the already outrageous price. Even if it’s just one gold higher, a single gold was still worth a lot. “Well then, the purchase of Fia now goes to the Blue Doves merchant for three hundred and one gold!”
“Hold! What business do you have buying a pleasure slave, merchant!?” count Hamburg confronted, stomping to the brown-haired man with a visible tick. “One set for me, count Hamburg?”
“He’s right though. I’ve never seen the Blue Doves using slaves like her, but they do still buy them. I don’t know why.”
“That’s probably just the Blue Doves, they’re quite mysterious. They never made ties with any of the established guild and yet still prosper much like the merchant guild Bell Congolo-something that’s also on the rise.”
“Yes, I also heard very few could ever join the guild. Those that do are people I’ve never seen before and they don’t seem to be greenhorns either.”
“Bah! They probably have a…”
Are my eyes tricking me? Is he? Fia, on the other hand, didn’t listen to the crowd as much as her keen eyes spied on the Blue Doves merchant’s face that seemed to be holding laughter. Was there something funny?
“The Blue Doves has a client who wishes to purchase this slave specifically, count,” the Blue Doves merchant answered, reverting to a straight face. He seemed to be avoiding addressing the count’s name. “I am here on the client, my client’s behalf, with the necessary money prepared.”
Oh, so that’s it, Fia thought. It was the same, just with a potential master, who was most likely another noble considering the gold involved, she hasn’t seen yet. One who apparently hired another merchant to deliver her.
“Hmph! Such impertinence!” count Hamburg scoffed. “Why does your client not come themself?”
“My client has circumstances that I’m allowed to tell,” the Blue Doves merchant merely explained. “But rest assured, my client has placed much importance in acquiring her. So, will you bid or not?”
“Grr! Fine then!” count Hamburg growled. “Three hundred and two gold!”
“Three hundred and three,” the Blue Doves merchant countered.
“Three hundred and four!”
“Three hundred and five.”
“Three hundred and ten!”
“Three hundred and eleven.”
It was quite the sight to behold. A noble and a merchant going back and forth bidding for an elf slave for an exorbitant price that was still increasing bit by bit. The noble would try to hike the price to scare the merchant who simply bid one gold erum more. Suffice to say, a bigger crowd than initially before gathered.
“F-Four hundred and fifty!” count Hamburg spouted. He was visibly sweating, panting over shouting too much.
“Four hundred and fifty-one.” Yet, the Blue Doves merchant still stood.
“Y-You! Surely you do not have that much money, do you!” the count growled. “What with bidding just one gold higher than I! Are you mocking me!?”
To that end, the Blue Doves merchant simply replied, “My client is prepared to even reimburse the Blue Doves should we purchase the elf Fia more than the money we were given. So, are you going to bid or not?”
“Of course! Fi-” Count Hamburg stopped. “Fi-” He tried again, but the five hundred gold bid couldn’t escape his tongue. Gritting his teeth, his glare at the Blue Doves merchant mellowed out.
Then, the count fell on all fours. “I give up,” he muttered.
“Then the slave Fia goes to the Blue Doves merchant!” The slave trader raised his hand to the Blue Doves merchant while smiling ear to ear. His investment really paid off.
CLAP CLAP CLAP
CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP
The audience started clapping, seeing the bid as though it were a great spar. They didn’t say anything as they were quite speechless with the debacle. Fia herself was at loss for words, not that she should utter one anyway. Just who was this client who wanted her so badly that they are willing to pay more than one and a half of her original price?
“Grr! Damn it all!” count Hamburg punched the ground as he stood up, dusted himself off, and stomped the ground as he left with his pride shattered.
“Well then, sir,” the trader turned to the Blue Doves merchant. “As you are on your client’s behalf, I will need your name for the purchase.”
“Zack Smith,” the Blue Doves merchant answered.
“Very well, mister Smith,” the trader nodded before turning back. “I will prepare the documents.”
So now this is it, Fia repeated that thought. It was an interesting event, but now it was truly time. She could ponder all the years that led her to this, but it doesn’t matter.
“…Ah!” The elf widened her eyes as she turned to the catgirl still holding her arm. She’d almost forgotten her. It’s happening again…
Because of her high price, Fia stuck around the current slave trader’s cage for much longer. During that time, she can admit her time with Chloe made them close. Furthermore, the young cat beast herself was in a similar situation that Fia could relate to; being separated from her parents and forced inside this cage for years, just without the trader swapping as no one wanted to but a scrawny catgirl.
Suffice to say, Fia being separated from Chloe was almost in the same effect as being separated from her mother and vice versa. Fia had developed genuine care for the little girl and now the separation’s about to happen ag-
“Aah…!?” Fia quietly yelped as she broke her line of thought. Looking down from the stage was the Blue Doves merchant, Zack, right in front of her. However, he wasn’t looking at her, but rather the person holding beside her.
“Uuh…” Chloe increased her grip on Fia’s arm nervously as the brown-haired human stared at her.
Zack, on the other hand, broke contact with her and turned to the slave trader who had finished the documents for Fia’s purchase and said, “Trader, I’m buying this cat beast as well. How much does she cost?”
Azhure: I was debating whether or not to split the pilot into sub-parts since the Secret Nation hasn’t even been introduced at this point. I decided to do it.