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Compelled to write and for what purpose, I am uncertain. Perhaps this is merely another training exercise, that I never forget how I've come to be who I am today. Once before I was asked to relay my life before He became my Master. Never had I been held within such rapt attention, perhaps a mere shadow of interest will be found once again by those that deem the life of a slave amusing enough to partake of.

I was not born to the high castes, merely the only child of an Innkeeper and his wife, and a girl at that. Perhaps from the day I was born, this was simply meant to be, my end would be found in a collar. Still, my childhood was happy. I was deeply loved, born late in my parents companionship and treated with much leniency as most children are.

As far back as my memory goes, I can remember being part of the Inn, from ordering stock to the constant flow of customers needing to be brought to their rooms to helping cook and clean, I was as much a part of it as my parents and the slaves they owned. I was taught to read and write. Literacy was mandatory, without it, my parent's business would have never prospered. I enjoyed my life, from my studies to the unending work to be done in the Inn. I tried hard to be the perfect child, in my heart I know that my father wanted a son but I hope, even now, that some part of him was proud of me. He was a great man, kind and fair without the normal brutality that so many seem to enjoy. He instilled a great love of the unknown in me; my mother, the love of beauty. It is with the deepest regret that I find now, when I need to see their smiles or feel a comforting hand upon my shoulder, that I cannot. What respectable person could ever reclaim their pierced ear slave of a daughter?

I digress from my story and lest I suffer for my mind's wanderings, I will continue. Shortly before the twenty-first en'kara of my life, there was a stranger that came to the Inn. A man whose simple gait spoke of pure dominance. A man whose face bore painted scars and whose eyes were able to strip away the veils that had kept me safe all this time. That day remains so clearly imposed upon my mind while I have forgotten so much.Perhaps it was that my mother and I had been planning for my trip to the Sardars. Not that this was an unusual occurrence, mention had been made the entirety of the previous se'var. They wanted to ensure my safety and had made plans that I would travel well before my twenty-fifth birthday with a group of other young people in a caravan. Surely there was safety in numbers, yes? Little did any of us know that all those carefully construed plans would prove useless.

I ignored him at first, he was only another customer. One that of course, would be treated with the propriety demanded in such cases but little more. I was too busy learning, too involved with being the obedient child that my parents had come to expect. The air that summer had wrought with heat and a humidity that would leave any beast withering. So rare was a cooling breeze that when one did whisper by it was nearly enough to bring tears to our eyes. Sleep was nearly impossible for me to find, despite the sultry air lulling most people into a stupor. It was an unbearable night, when I should have been tucked beneath a cool sheet on my couch, that proved to become my first step in this journey.

Never anticipating that anyone else would be awake in the early ahn of the morning; you know which hours I speak of, the ones that are so drenched with darkness that you can barely see a step before you, I made my way downstairs. Clothed in little more than a shift, my hair loosened and a dark veil about my face, it was nearly inevitable that I trod upon the scarred man's foot as he laid within the furs at one of the tables. He moved faster than I, far faster as he pressed to his feet and clapped a hand over my mouth to stifle the screams that surely would have waken the Inn's patrons and my parents. In those few moments, with my back pressed to his chest, his hand clasped across my mouth, I felt brutally aware. Something that lurked within me flared to life.

How long it took him to realize that in his arms he held a free woman and not the enticing flesh of a slave, I couldn't say for time stood still for me. The release of his arms was not unkind, not cruel with a thrust from him. His apology seemed sincere as his low voice mingled with the quiet the Inn had found again as our struggle ended. I was terribly out of his league, sheltered my entire life, it never occurred to me that there I stood, barely dressed, with my hair freed about my face and open to the appraising glance that ran over untouched curves as the moons decided to grace us with their pale light as the clouds parted. Only the subtle prompting of his voice forced me from him, to fetch a bottle of wine and goblets to drink from, to return to his side and find solace from the heat with his company. And that I did. The long hours passed with stories of my childhood, surely I must have seemed so naive at that time and in turn, stories of all he had seen in his travels. Where I knew little of the world outside my parent's home, he had seen much of what I could only dream of. Not once did I think to find my way back to my rooms, to dress appropriately as my station dictated. To hide myself from him as a proper woman would.

[To be continued ...]