ryuujitsu & co.
Disclaimer: Saying we own Yuugiou is like saying the sky is falling. Yea, that midnight-bluish, vaguely twinkling thing that just fell on your head? Don't worry about it. . .it's just drywall. Really.
A/N: It's currently one a.m. over here and I am bored out of my mind! So I am putting a twist on a common AU setting. . .hope y'all like it, and thanks for reading (and reviewing, if you review I will feed you pieces of pie and cake. . .somehow. I promise. Really I will.)
Noon at an Egyptian bazaar. Purchases left and right. Who's a slave? One-shot AU, Eventual Tendershipping.
The boy was tall and lean with a miraculously unmarred back, and in his eyes you saw the dull gleam of a newly-made beast of burden, used to plodding day in and day out but quite unbroken. He sat hunched at the side of the crowded pen with his strange white head bowed over his shoulders, squatting with the muscles of his smooth back twitching and rippling. The pen was clean but packed with human bodies that had been shivering there in the stark cold and sweating in the heat of noon, packed shoulder-to-shoulder and hip-to-hip with men and women and children—and the boy. A fly landed on his eyelid; he blinked it away. His stare was directed at the ground, laconic and flat.
He was thinking of his mother. It was impossible to tell the boy's age—from his face you would judge him a boy, but in his body you saw the figure of a man, and in his eyes there was no time, only red. But he was young enough in some part of his mind to remember the woman who had birthed him, clothed him, loved him—
Torn from her hands. He wondered if she too, at one point, had sat in a pen like this, thinking of her boy while he worked the quarries and grew strong and strong and strong.
Like most slaves he had not known his father, and what father would claim a child like this? The dark skin like one who lived in Khemet, yes, but then you had the terrible white hair like the caps of the mountains in the distance, the lively red eyes that danced like the robes of the chaos god himself. His master—both the first and third—had called him Red-Eyes, for the eyes that slowly dimmed and darkened into burgundy timelessness. His mother had had a name for him, and though the memory of the woman and the soft heat and smell of her had long dissipated into patches, the name remained. Bakura.
Under one eye was the mark of his first beating, which was not only the worst but the third-to-last punishment he would receive in his life. The fault had been minor, but it had been his first and at such a young age, Master (the second) had felt it would be proper to give Dshrt a lasting lesson in obedience. The three scars crisscrossed in a network of sharp angles, ivory-white against the darkness of his skin.
He had been a household slave for a number of years until his burgeoning strength became too destructive. He had been sold privately into the quarries and then to another master, whose unhealthy financial situation had prompted a mass sale. Most of the other bodies pressed against his were young and powerful, with raised lacerations from whippings that curved over muscle, built and hardened by cutting stone and hauling it.
The sale was to be at the second turn of the hourglass, when the sun was at its brightest overhead. The boy watched blankly as the last few grains of sand trickled down into the lower chamber.
One by one his pen-mates were herded out of the cell; as they left, he would straighten his legs.
Now, sitting with his back against the cage and his legs spread wide in the dust, he watched the stain of filth settle on his loincloth and waited until he too was called, grabbed firmly by the elbow, led away.
"You are popular," said the man who held him by the arm. His breath was rank and Bakura turned his head away.
It was in the act of turning that his attention was snared—by the heady glimmer of gold in the light. He had been raised a slave and jewels had been lacking, but always he had been fascinated by the dark rich gleam of lapis and topaz at the throats and ankles of his master's women, the baubles made of foreign stone that caught the sun somewhere deep within their facets. His eyes were caught, not on the common spread-winged scarab pectoral often seen in masses of nobles, but on a peculiar seven-pointed ring resting squarely on a young man's chest.
The man was wearing a pleated linen shawl so fine that one could see the smooth milk-rose skin beneath. He was thin like a reed with a pristine white shenti to his bony knees and wore blue faience at his throat, wrists, and ankles. He had a young, girlishly intelligent face, thin like the rest of his body, hollow in the area above the jaw. On either side of him stood two young Nubian children, each flapping a wide papyrus leaf to cool their master; behind him was a burly guardsman, huge and bare-chested, wearing three large daggers at his hip.
The boy was brought to the front. He stood with his head lowered, looking at his bare dusty feet, at the crack in the yellowed nail of his big toe.
The manicured hand, soft and white, caught him under the chin and raised his head. Bakura stared into the noble's thin face, into the eyes that were green like the Nile, lined heavily in iron-blue kohl. The noble had left his entourage standing far behind him.
"He is twenty," said the man at Bakura's elbow, jostling Bakura's side in his eagerness to speak. "A quiet fellow, does what he is told."
The noble made no acknowledgement and continued to look at Bakura, quietly, measuringly. Then, with a startling willowy grace, he took his other hand and pried open the boy's mouth, looking at his teeth. When he opened his mouth his voice was like the whispering of the wind on the rushes. "You speak a lie," he murmured, and the slaver blanched. "He is fourteen, sixteen perhaps, certainly not twenty. A boy.
"I seek a household slave," he continued, imperiously, his chin set high like Pharaoh. "This one intrigues me."
"He is a quarry animal," intervened the slaver, nervously. His grip was wet and slippery on the boy's arm. "He is not suited to the climate you suggest. By all means, young master, he will be yours if you so desire, but buy him for the hard labor that he has been raised for; it is the only life he knows. He is yet a boy, as you said, so I ask only twelve gold pieces. . ."
"No," said the boy suddenly. He had been watching the points of the ring and he had seen, unthinkably, terrifyingly, a single golden spire rise to point at his chest. "I am for the stone fields only, you cannot—"
The slaver struck him hard and fast across the face and as the boy went reeling, began to apologize, sweating and bowing. "He has never before spoken out in such a way, I swear to you, young master, I swear by the horns of Hathor and the whiskers of Bastet, he is normally a quiet child and I do not know what demon has possessed him this day—"
"Stay your hand," said the noble. He turned to the boy and cupped the swollen cheek and wiped blood from the torn lip with an impossibly soft hand and his eyes were malachite green in the stillness. "Bakura. I speak your true name."
The boy went still with the feeling of the fingers on his mouth and the smell of jasmine in his nostrils. A sharp, pungent panic lit his ka; his mind swam. There is evil in this man in his ring he speaks my true name Bakura Bakura Bakura not my name I am Red-Eyes I am Deshret I am dshr I am everyone but Bakura
"Six silver pieces for your trouble," said the noble, counting out the coins into the trembling hands of the slaver. He turned now to the boy and spoke loudly. "Come now, Red Eyes." The boy could not move for the fear that had caught his ka and anchored him to the ground; he could only look at the noble, with his soft, pretty face and his golden ring that had come from hell itself—
The slaver prodded the boy sharply between the blades of his shoulders, and the boy took two stumbled steps toward his new master, feeling that in doing so he had surely given up his soul.
A/N: A rather abrupt ending, but I think I might make a short, slash-y series out of this. One or two more related stories to come. Tell me what you thought of it!
Right, I don't know anything about the purchase of slaves in Egypt. Dshrt/dshr means Red in Egyptian (apparently?) but then I thought it might be like Deshret, just with the vowels removed. . .I'm not sure. I think they might have had a bartering system back then, or perhaps they really did use currency. . .my research is rusty and this isn't supposed to be the most accurate of AU stories. I was pretty sure Hathor was a hippopotamus-bodied goddess, but apparently she is also cow-headed. sweatdrop