He was so tired.

The chain around his neck and wrists were far too tight for him, and they chaffed and pulled at his skin and fur as he was forced to move onward in the slave line.

One of the men was not satisfied with his progress, and he was shoved forward harshly, tripping and falling to his knees.

The lash came down on his back next, and he flinched as it kissed his back. His body trembled as he tried to force himself to stand up, but the shouts and lashings weren't helping him much.

A gentle hand took him by the arm and pulled him up to his feet. Looking over his shoulder, he looked at his foster sister, who smiled weakly at him, a fresh scar blazing bright red on the side of her face.

Another stroke of the lash broke the moment, and Kurt Szardos started to move once more.

The screams from his tribe members being branded reached his pointed ears, and Kurt was terrified for his turn.

He didn't want to be branded. He didn't want to be in chains, he didn't want to be a slave. There were so many things that he didn't want to happen to him, and the Gadje was doing them all to him.

He was grabbed roughly and brought into the room where branding irons rested in the flames. He kicked and fought with them weakly, crying out in his Rom tongue as they tied him down. Whimpering, Kurt watched as the branding iron was taken out of the flames, a large 'V' glowing from the fire.

It sizzled when it was pressed onto his bare chest, and his scream echoed everywhere as he was branded for slavery.

Chapter One:

He was in the slave pen for six months, his looks keeping him from being bought by anyone. He watched helplessly as one by one his family was sold, and it soon became just him and his foster sister left. He tried to hide her when the people came to look at the slaves, making her crouch down while he piled straw on top of her to hide her.

This worked for a while, and some of the overseers were wondering where she had gone when one of the buyers, a noble by the name of Braddock came in and he lashed out with his cane at the pile of straw, making her cry out. He paid for her, and he tried to lead her out of the pens, but Kurt lashed out with his claws and fangs, cutting up his hand badly before an overseer struck him upside the head.

When Kurt woke, he found himself in the solitary cells, where they put the troublemakers. It was wet and cold there, and he shivered badly in his chains. He soon was struck down by a bad fever, and he often lay in the corner of his cell, curled up in a fetal position, shivering and moaning as the fever gave him hallucinations and made him vomit a yellowish green bile.

The fever soon passed, but the smell in the cell did not. Kurt was stuck in these conditions for a month until someone opened the door to his cell to show him to someone.

The man was a priest with piercing sky blue eyes. He looked down his crooked nose at Kurt and he sniffed slightly.

"He'll do." He said. In no time Kurt found himself being forced to trot beside the priest's horse, a chain around his neck like a leash with shackles on his ankles to keep him from running too fast.

The priest's home was definitely a violation of the poverty clause in the Priest Vows. It was a large mansion with five floors; each one with more rooms than was needed. He also had fifty acres of land around his mansion, which included his stables and the church that he preached at.

He brought Kurt to the stables, dismounting and taking off of the leash, leaving the ankle shackles on. He turned to Kurt and looking at him like one does with a filthy homeless dog. Kurt looked back at him in the eyes, and he was struck in the face with a willow switch.

"You will not make eye contact with any of your betters." His master said, flexing the switch in his hands. "Which includes myself, my wife, and all of the servants in the household. I would say not to make eye contact with my hunting dogs, pigs, cows, and horses too but you will need to look them in the eyes to make sure they are healthy.

"Your work will be in the stables and pens of my animals. You will tend to the pigs first, and then the cows, the horses, and my dogs shall be last. I expect them to be tended to very well and be in the best condition possible. An overseer will come and check on you during the day, and you will be whipped if he sees you being lazy or idle in your work. Idleness is the Devil's playground; never forget that.

"I will inspect them when the day is done, and if something is wrong, you will be whipped. If this becomes a pattern, you will find yourself back in the slave market. I suggest that you work hard not to mess anything up.

"My house and the church are off limits for the likes of you. If I ever catch you in either place, you will be hanged without question. Don't think I will give you warnings first. I can afford to kill a few disobedient slaves if I have to.

"I want you to tend to the horses and dogs today. Your first inspection will be when the sunsets. If you want to make a good first impression, don't mess this up.

"Now with everything said, do you have any questions?" Kurt made sure to keep his head lowered, his tail curling around his left leg slowly.

"Where do I eat and sleep?" he asked. His master snorted softly, crossing his arms over his chest.

"You will be sleeping with the pigs in night. Your meals will be with them as well. Now get to work. The Lord frowns upon the lazy." With that, he turned and headed back to his mansion.

Kurt watched after him, his tail swaying slowly. The horse beside him snorted at him, swishing its own tail a bit. Nodding faintly as if the horse had said something, Kurt turned and led it into the stables.

"I hate it here too." He whispered softly.

Tending to the horses was quite easy. The horses were very gentle with him, and he became quite connected with them in the hour he was with them, cleaning and brushing each one of them.

One of the horses, a white mare with a black mane and tail, nudged her bucket of feed at him, and Kurt understood that she was offering him to eat from her oats. He was so hungry that he knelt down and ate two handfuls of the food, drinking from the horse's water trough.

The dogs...well...

Some of the dogs were nice to him, wagging their tails at him and licking his hands and feet in greeting. The majority of them growled and bared their teeth at him, snapping at his hands and tail, wanting to draw his blood like they were trained to do. A few of them were able to bite him, but he didn't strike at them or hate them. He understood that these dogs were trained to be so violent towards him, and that wasn't their fault now was it?

When the sun went down, he watched his master walk up to him at the stables, and he hoped that he had done good enough not to be beaten. His master walked past him, looking over his horses and dogs. He stopped once, narrowing his eyes when he looked at the mare's food bucket.

"Zelda's food should be more than this." He said. "Remember that for tomorrow."

"I will." Kurt whispered, nodding faintly. Seeing the bites on Kurt's hands, his master smiled faintly and he patted his dogs on their heads.

"You've done well your first day." He said. "You may go to sleep now." Kurt bowed slowly; figuring that that was what he was expected to do.

The pigsty was not too far from the stables and Kurt could find it by using his nose. To his dismay, he found that it was just a pile of mud surrounded by a wooden fence. There was no kind of shelter to protect them from the rain or whatnot, and he was stuck sleeping with them.

Slowly, he knelt down and he crawled into the pigsty, wincing at the mud that got into his fur and tattered clothes. Some of the pigs turned to him and sniffed him a bit, wondering what this new thing was that was coming into their domain. They soon gave him their permission to rest there, and they turned to fall asleep in a huddle in the corner of the sty.

Curling up into a fetal position in the water mud, Kurt slowly closed his eyes, and he fell asleep.