Author: Memeal PM
AU, yaoi, WIP :: Wufei is a demoted southern nobleman, sold as a slave in dishonor for taking what was not his. But is it luck or a curse when he is sold to a noblemen on the largest island in the Four Corners? :: Ch. 1 - A new home for Wu FeiRated: Fiction T - English - Romance - Zechs M. & Wufei C. - Chapters: 2 - Words: 5,734 - Reviews: 12 - Favs: 4 - Follows: 18 - Updated: 02-16-08 - Published: 02-06-08 - id: 4057891
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
my gosh. I had no idea there would be anyone reading this!
Truthfully, I was fairly sure I'd ruined you all by taking so long
on the first one! I'm honored by your continuance with me on this
adventure. Maybe I could have written this all as one large story,
but I wanted to take advantage of different "books" so that I
might change perspectives. Any thoughts are welcome. As well as abeta! I have read back on the first book and I'm ashamed at how
shoddy the writing is! If anyone is up to it, let me know! At the moment, I am too close to the writing and I'd have to let it languish for a few months before I went back to rework a piece. :) That's just not worth it to me, not when it comes to a hobby.
Warnings found at prologue
(Book ii of the Sea Folk Trilogy)
Dark eyes open, staring up at the curtains which blow about with a teasing breeze. Shadows which have nothing to do with the shades of sloe color do not shift, yet the gaze narrows, hardens, finds reminder of something unpleasant in the gentle colloquial picture the drapery attempts to make.
Just outside the open window, the ocean surf whispers secrets up the face of the cliffs upon which the manor sits. Should one have closed one's eyes again, perhaps the dreams could have caught up those whispers and made something living out of them. But there remains no desire in the waking man to find safety from his world through the dreams he's escaped. No, dreams are not sweet, no matter how beautiful his environment.
He sits with a smooth motion, muscles practiced no matter they are slightly wasted from his long journey reaching this room.
The ship's leaving escaped his notice some week before. There had been a leaving, he is certain. No one living upon that ship cared that he was not aboard. It's fair to say that the main brunt of mankind upon its cursed decks felt gladness that the triumvirate of doom had been broken before the wracked boat lifted charred sails and turned away from Kin's Isle.
He presses the thoughts of the ship and his past away. Nothing matters in this present time. His past has ceased and he, as a man, has been forced along, created anew, and given
He looks around the room, his eyes still narrowed. It is a large enough room, airy with pale peach walls the color of fish flesh, almost pearlescant. Sunlight glistens on white curtains which are such light fabric that they billow with each inviting brush of air upon their length, reaching from ceiling to floor, hung upon large iron rods.
Walls bare, the room echoes light back upon the dark bed. He lifts feet out from under the thick blue duvet. The bed is not as grand as that of a real member of the house, yet he suspects that it is larger than that of the general scullery girl. The down mattress cannot be the usual fare.
He runs his fingers over the mattress covering, fingers trembling as once again, he takes time to think of just what his purpose here might be. The first day had given him no warning as to this day and how things might have progressed to this uncomfortable point.
No, his first day had been what he'd felt was usual in the life of a slave to a Western lord. He had slept upon the straw tick mattress set just lee of his master's bed. The master asked for two blankets, one for Wufei and one for himself. Then the man laid back into his comfortable bed and fell to snoring before the stars at the edge of the pane had moved out of sight.
Wufei had not slept that night and he paid for it the next day. Still, it was only a carriage ride beginning in early morning which he had to endure. The carriage, despite thick metal coils at each wheel, had jostled down the rutted summer road south of the city where Wufei had been sold.
The sky is a muddy gold. Wufei leans his head against the framing of the carriage, watching the landscape change subtly and inexorably from what he might have dimly recognized as coastline, to rolling hills of green, then to pitted lands of basalt, covered here and there by tufts of native grasses. This was the land which closest resembled the environment the Sea Folk stated their god, Chopa, had first walked. When his islands were born from boiling sea waters, under the place he had sailed a boat with an albatross wing, his shoes had cut away and his blood had fed the land, causing it to become alive, to feed his descendants. Here it was, that the bleeding of his had slowed, seeping only enough to keep the land living, yet starved for more. Rock breaks through, those ancient razor sharp jags worn down by weather.
Wufei watches the rocks and searches in his mind for signs of such magics that such a beginning would have left upon the land. Yet, even while reaching, he realizes that to feel such things will only bring on homesickness and what he has chosen to leave behind. No - he cannot do that.
Even while feeling the slight glimmers of something which could be only hopeful imaginings, Wufei turns back inward and ignores the sight out of the window, turning instead to gaze at his newest master.
Milliardo Peacecraft. Zechs to his friends, he had laughed and said. It was a joke, Milliardo had told him. He had had a somewhat wild youth, sowing his seeds among the beautiful. Wufei could not understand the connection, yet he did not ask. It was not the place of a slave to ask such foolish questions.
The man is what Wufei would have, had he been a child, called beautiful. His long bound hair is silver, like an ancient's hair. It gleams in the sunlight and flickers, being lifted by a soft breeze sliding through the partially open window.
Milliard is not what he would have expected in a master. There is a freedom of affection in the man which strikes Wufei as the sure sign of a fool. Yet, neither the carriage driver nor Otir, the man servant, a particularly somber and intelligent seeming man, seem to show any disregard or disgust with their master's actions. Wufei can only guess that after time, one's patience grows and one is capable of hiding scorn.
His mind muddles over the list of things which his master has given him to do. The man had told him originally he was for the lady of the household. Now, he finds that Milliardo is more interested in learning southern blade work and having a personal servant. This last had meant little to Wufei. Gentlemen were obliged to having a servant to attend their needs. Yet, that was before he'd met Otir. Now, he wonders at it, for he has watched as Otir has calmly dressed the chatty man, cared for his every need with almost stoic calm. So then, what would a personal servant be?
Wufei realizes that his master has turned silver grey eyes upon him and now regards him with amusement. The man says nothing and Wufei flushes like a child, looking away again, disconcerted. If his imaginations on what exactly a personal servant is required for are true, why would his master have need of him? Surely the man cannot see anything fetching in an emaciated, scarred, half maddened southern man. Wufei knows he is not anything to look at. His internment on the ship, chained to a wall and fed gruel for months, only given meat at the end when Quatre, the little Sea Folk lordling had begun to share his meat, had left Wufei's body with little more than muscle stretched tightly over bone, bound by very visible tendons.
Then, just two days from now, when he had affected a rescue of Heero and their captain from the burning babe's book marred him further with burns and injuries. The marks and bruises upon his face do nothing but exacerbate the now habitual scowl and cold glare he's taken on. Gone is any beauty that might have attracted another, woman or man.
So then, why? Wufei chances another glance toward his master, finding the man regarding him with a gaze which is almost as sober as Wufei's mood. Though, instead of blushing at being caught, the man just grins carelessly and shrugs a shoulder.
"What do you think? Is it anything like your lands?" the master waves a hand in a garish flourish.
Wufei snorts, looking again out at the burned up landscape. The rocks are growing larger, blacker, the tufts of grass clinging to any sheltered surface, fluttering wildly with the winds outside of the carriage. "We do not have such places," he states, disgusted with the man's laughter following his words.
"Really? I'd have thought this kind of land would exist next to most of the coasts. I know that Piset, one of the other islands here, has cliffs made of this rock, strong and tall and in columns!" The master describes columns in wild gestures, up and down, with his hands. "It's fascinating! But nothing like that in your land. Maybe that's because your land was made some other way."
Suddenly the man leans forward. "Actually, I'd hazard a guess your land has its own birth story. How about you tell it to me?" He grins stupidly.
Wufei frowns. He has no intention of giving this man a past and a land which Wufei has left behind. He crosses his arms over his chest. "I have forgotten all stories of my land. You might consider talking to a sailor on one of the flat bottom boats."
His cold demeanor does not seem to upset his master. Instead, the man laughs and leans back, looking at Otir. "Shall I buy a sailor next, Otir?" he asks.
"Whatever ser wishes," the manservant indulges, prompting another snort from Wufei. This time, however, Otir's eyes flick over to where Wufei sits and there is a dangerous gleam to that look.
Wufei stands smoothly from his failed meditations. He's taken to doing them again, though not for the same reasons he ever had before. Instead of putting himself I touch with the magical influences, thelife around him, he has now attempted nothing more than the child like meditations of breath, movement, centering. Too much has occurred in his life to allow him to go any further.
And, as this morning has shown, even such a simple process can prove useless.
Shaking off the memories, Wufei uses a bone comb to gather his longish hair back against his nape. It will never be as long as it had been. But he is a man now, not a child. And as a man, he does not need such vanity. His fingers brush against the scabbed wound on the back of his head where he'd been hit by a falling board inside of the burning ship where he had saved the captain and his slave from the morass of cinders and flame. It has not been so long since that day, yet it feels like another lifetime has already passed.
Driving such thoughts from his mind, he dresses in the clothing left to him, flowing white garments which the Sea Folk seem intent on living in. He has worked out a belt of sorts from a shirt he had ripped up to keep the folds from driving him mad. Walking about with fabric fluttering about him, he doesn't feel graceful as the Sea Folk look with their golden skin and their blue eyes, their firm feet bound in sandals. Instead, he feels like a flopping duck being drowned in a rice field.
His arrival to the manor had been more event than he'd wished. The master had instructed Otir to set up the "Kelpie Room" which had confused Wufei at first because Otir had gone cold as stone and bowed far more stiffly than usual, disappointment plain on his face. Later, when Wufei was shown his room, he felt that maybe he understood. For some reason, he was to be given preferential treatment. Was this because of the slave he was to be?
And yet, Wufei's duties were not so plain. The first day, he was instructed to work with Otir. This did not last. Wufei was not one to suffer fools and Otir was not the type to put up with insolence. Between the two of them and their different views on how one is to prepare a household table, where the newest flowers are to be set, how to burnish silver - Wufei did not have the ability to read Otir's mind as to what the man wanted. Otir, in a fit of pique, struck Wufei and called him "boy."
From there, things degenerated rather quickly. By lunch time, Wufei was placed in a room to scrub floors. The room chosen for the very fact that there were no weapons hanging on the walls. Otir, for his part, was giving a good impression of a man who really is not accustomed to having patience. He screamed words which Wufei did not recognize, was sent to his room with a cold compress, and according to rumor, had been packing when the master found him and calmed him down enough.
Still, Wufei was told by a passing servant girl that he was not to be present in any room Otir inhabited until the manservant calmed down enough to not froth at the mouth whenever he sighted Wufei.
The next day, he was sent out to herd goats across the tufts of grass. The goat herd, a young boy by the name of Jamiin, laughed and said that master had thought Wufei's stubbornness might do well with having kindred souls about.
To Jamiin's credit, the boy never lost his temper the way Otir had. In fact, the further into the day they went, the quieter the boy got. Wufei never did understand what he did wrong. He had not allowed the goats to move too far from the flock. His liberal use of the shepherd's crook on the evil beasts had kept them in line in a way that Jamiin obviously did not approve of. But one must have order. It was probably that Jamiin did not want anyone to show him up, make him look badly. Wufei had dealt with ducks, dealing the ducks with hard smacks, stupid animals had needed it. Goats were not so different, only more bull headed.
The rumor was that he would not be allowed around any animals. That put the stables right out, unless it was mucking out stalls. But the horse master refused even that, saying that such cold auras about his beasties would put them off their feed. The next day he was sent to work in the fields.
Today, he was going to be sent to the kitchen to work with the scullery maid. He was not certain why the master kept moving him about. It was plain from the looks of hatred and fear on the faces of the other slaves, that his position as personal servant was not a very sought position. Yet, day after day, some other task was given him. If it was not incompetent fools and their roaming animals, it was layabouts who would not keep at their work in the fields, kitchen cooks who could not wield a knife properly to save their lives, yard boys who tromped all over the meditative visions he raked into the yard gravels.
Arriving at the kitchen, Wufei pauses uncertainly. There is already a great deal of action happening, though the sun has just risen. A woman working bread looks up, seeing him, brushes her floury hands off on an apron spackled with blood. "Good! Yer late. Madge! He'p's here!"
A moving pile of pots and utensils pauses on its way to a large iron sink bolted to the wall. "Oh good!" comes a muffled response. "C'mere if yer will?"
He approaches within two feet and finds his arms filled with pots and pans. "Now then, in the sink i'goes." The cheerful voice is one which is already grating on his nerves. Silly child. He is Wufei, master swordsman, student of the arts, scholar, lord's son, son of…
He drops the pots into the sink, losing a few in the process. A large cast iron skillet is waved in front of his face by a long, slim brown hand. "Here, missed this."
Turning with a snarl, Wufei snatches it out of the hand and levels a glare at the small girl's face grinning up at him. Cutting words along the lines of having been getting to it die in his throat and he stares. Her grin does not diminish and she laughs.
"Ya, it takes ever'one back a'bit." She pats his arm. "Yer'll get use'ter it soon enuff."
His hand reaches out for the sink and he attempts to back pedal, stammering out something, giving a bow, yet the girl merely shrugs and shambles off, her ruined left side dragging slightly behind the right. He has seen such burns before, but never the twists in the limbs. The damage must have been extensive to her body and no doubt every step is an act of pain. Yet she smiles a broken smile through a contorted face cut and pieced back together or perhaps, merely allowed to heal of its own accord.
It is a wonder that, with that amount of destruction to a body, she had survived whatever it was put her in this state.
He swallows and sobered, turns back to the dishes and stares at them, unsure what to do next.
"Yer comin'?" comes the happy call and he jerks his head, staring at where she's leaned against the door frame to keep her balance. "We's got firewood!"
My dearest Quatre,
I cannot say how much your letter has relieved me. To know that these fits of temper are not merely because he is enslaved to me. I had worried that he was not happy with our household. Now I know that he has always been this unhappy and that I needn't worry so much about his finding contentment in my home.
You ask how he is doing. I had intended to let him work about the manor for some days, seeing how it all works, with intention to having him find what pleased him best. Then I would prevail upon him to teach me of his country, perhaps some swordsmanship, and to discover if he can read and write our language. You must know how well this has gone over with him. I have struggled all this past two weeks trying to find him a place where he might be content to not frighten the staff.
Otir has only asked to leave my employ twelve times in the last four days. I have lost only one cook and I am in search of more yard boys (one can never have enough I've found when Wufei is in the house).
We are actually doing better in regards to his settling in than we had at first. Let me tell you how it went.
At first, I had sought to put him with Otir. The man is a paragon of patience. He has to be, putting up with myself and my sister's antics! I was wrong to do this, however. Wufei has no sense of how things are done in a Sea Folk household. His culturally diverse thoughts on the running of the basic necessities, his questions and then I suspect, Otir's increasingly sharp retorts led to a physical confrontation between the two men. I am happy to report that Wufei did nothing more than use the flat of the blade from the sword he'd taken down from the wall. But Otir spent the rest of the day in his rooms and I was advised to have Wufei scrub floors in a room blissfully free of blades. This seemed like a good idea until he was calmed. I do not know if he is calmed yet.
Do you recall Jamiin? The sweet boy of our seamstress? I have had him caring for my goats. I felt that Wufei would have to be heartless to fight with the child, so gave him goat duty the next day, figuring some physical action would do him good with the sweetness of the boy.
I regret that this too was a grand failure. Wufei was under the impression that his job was to keep the goats in a line, wandering over the hills behind our manor. Jamiin was in tears by the time the day was done. He begged that I not allow Wufei to be around the goats again. He stated he spent a great portion of the night putting salve on the many bruises his poor goats had acquired.
You know then, that my newest horse master whom I acquired from Piset, was most averse to having Wufei in the stables.
Still, not wanting to have him in the house (in order to appease Otir) I sent him to the fields to work with them. But by mid afternoon, he was sent back, storming I hear, into the manor. He had, it seems, been frustrated to the point of almost violence that my men and women took a mid-morning break during their task.
You are laughing now, I know, my friend. But it is not over yet. I tried Berta, my matron cook - you recall her? She was fiercely protective of her tarts when we were younger. I still recall the sting of her long handled spoon on the back of my hands.
No, Berta remains. But one of her underlings has left in tears because Wufei called her "stupid" and sought to teach her how to cut vegetables. Granted, the vegetables were beautifully cut for that dinner. I did not know that plates could look so comely. But Berta has insisted that I find another cook and that she not be pestered with him again.
With little else, I went to my sister in a worry. I would have had to sell him as perhaps, nothing better than a pleasure slave - or give him to someone to retrain to his position. But I have no desire to douse the fire I saw in his eyes when I had first set eye on him in Greater Market. It was for that very reason I bought him. Like a fine stallion, I must turn this fire into passion for doing what is right.
Relena, wise girl (do not let her know that I called her that), told me to give her to Madge. I know you recall Madge. She was the child we had working for when her family died in the horrific fire. Mother took her in and dotes on her. She was originally given tasks easy enough for her, but she has insisted on taking up the scullery position.
Before you grow angry with me, let me tell you that I have done all I could to ease her load. I have always had more than one strong girl working under her direction. Berta frets over her as much as Mother and so I know that times come when the cooks send her to bed and do the scouring of pans if she shows signs of overwork.
I was leery at first. I did not wish for Wufei to harm the household's favorite. Yet Relena stated that, if Wufei were capable of being unkind to Madge, then it would be perfectly plain that he was not right for our home. Therefore, I put him to work.
Quatre, it has worked. He is not docile. But in much the same way one will give a horse a companion to help it feed, little Madge has come to manage Wufei enough that peace is almost restored in my household.
You mentioned that there is a party at Lady Carr's home and if I were going to it? I will not. I have too much to do here. It sounds as if you are languishing. I say that you need to find something to busy yourself with.
But first, busy yourself with telling me more of your voyage. You are writing your memoirs, you say? Then give me a preview. I do not wish to wait until you are done. You had mentioned your loss of Therese and for this I am very sorry. You also told me of an adventure in the ropes. I am sure you never told the Lady this story. It would have horrified her. You have touched upon Wufei, but have not said more. Is there nothing you can say about him other than he is the strongest man you know, that his ability to go on when no one should be able shall be legendary? He is not a hero of any story, Quatre. He is merely a man and I wish to know those parts of the man you were able to see.
As always, your friend,