Disclaimer: I do not own Eragon.
Wow, never thought I'd say that. This is my first Eragon fic so I'm still working out little things.
BE FOREWARNED: the characters from the book aren't for the first few chapters.
I'd like to thank the random guy from Tropical Smoothie Café for giving the name 'Garrick' to use. He is probably not reading this, never will, and I'm fine with that. Thank you anyway.
Also thank you to AFI for being my muse when looking for a title. You're not reading this either.
Thank you readers for reading this. I KNOW you're reading this.
Screams and crying. Those were most memorable. Not the curses of men or jolly shouts of the man in bright clothes, who waved his arms enthusiastically before crowds of rich, corrupt men looking on coldly with their scrutinizing eyes. Fat or gaunt, short or tall, straight-backed or crooked, they all had the same gleam in their gaze.
The enthusiastic man would call out a few sentences, wave his hand at what was on display, and start the bidding. An old noble would raise a hand, maybe a merchant or two, the jolly man would stomp his foot in finality, and it would be done. Another life set on a course of misery and pain at such a simple gesture.
The screams and crying took place behind the large wooden platform in the middle of the dirty street. Men looked into the distance with lost expressions, as if asking a higher knowledge 'How did it come to this?'. Women shrieked and cried, clinging to small, filthy children as thin as rails, or else trembling, hand in hand with the men. The children were all in tears, their snotty noses in need of a wipe. All except two, who stood behind a man looking as if for an escape.
"And here, lords and ladies, we have a pretty, young lass! Are you in need of help with your dishes or daily chores? This youthful wench devotes herself to any task set before her and finishes it without a stop! Now, shall we start the bidding at one hundred crowns?"
Two smoky-blue eyes looked away from the speaker to a boy standing a few feet taller than her. She tugged on his ragged shirt and he looked down, tanned face solemn.
"Where is Elsye going?" she asked curiously. The boy looked back up at the woman, who was now being led off of the platform to an old, rotund man with a ruddy face.
"With that man, there," he responded, nodding at the buyer. "She's to live with him now."
"Like how Jurdan went to live with that blonde lady?" asked the girl.
"No, not quite like that," said the boy, his eyes still fixed on the slave-girl. Her baleful, amber eyes were locked on his as she mouthed a few words. He nodded, and the line moved up a step. The grating sound of chains along the street rung in his ears and he clenched his teeth in anger, watching a boy around ten years of age climb up the steps onto the platform, stumbling over the chains around his ankles.
"Garrick," said the girl.
"Is that lady his mother?" She pointed at a sobbing woman at the front of the line, who was looking away in anguish from the twig of a boy standing before the crowd. The boy, Garrick, took a deep breath.
"Yes, she is," he said.
They continued to watch as the boy walked off with a hook-nosed man and the woman was summoned to the platform. She sobbed as she slowly sank to the ground, her eyes on her son being led away. The auctioneer, for that is what the man in bright clothes was, brought his hand down on her face with a selection of angry reprimands. The woman straightened, looking at him with watery eyes as he stomped his foot once again, sentencing her to serve a pompous-looking woman in rich clothing.
The woman pulled out a decorated fan and handed it to the mournful woman, saying something to her as she began to walk at a brisk pace. The woman gave one last look back to where her son had gone before running along to keep up with her new mistress, fanning all the way. Garrick felt another sharp tug on his shirt and he looked down. The eyes were on him again.
"How come that boy's not going with his mother?" asked the girl sharply.
"Because the man did not buy her as well," said Garrick calmly.
"But the man who buys me, he'll buy you too, right Brother?" asked the girl. Garrick paused. "Right?"
"I don't know, Alycie," he said finally. He saw a spark of fear in her eyes. "Don't worry, we'll still both be in Dras-Leona. You'll see me in town," he added hurriedly. "I promise you'll see me."
"You won't leave, will you?" asked the girl.
"No. Alycie, I'd never leave you on your own," said Garrick, knealing down to her height. He brushed a hand over her face, tucking a long strand of soft, light-brown hair behind her dirty, little ear, smiling in reassurance, though it completely went against his true feelings.
"Will I see Elsye again too?" asked Alycie.
"I don't know," said Garrick sadly.
"You liked her didn't you." It wasn't a question.
"Yes I did. Very much."
A balding man was led off of the platform and the man in front of the siblings was pulled up in front of the crowd. He looked around frantically, breathing hard. Garrick watched him along with Alycie and the crowd.
"Lords, Ladies, I present to you here the finest specimen of a man you are ever to come across. Quite a bargain. Strong arms, legs, and quite a mind as well. Let's start the bidding at--"
The man suddenly turned and jumped past the two guards, landing hard on the street. He scrambled to his chained feet, running awkwardly past the pedestrians. He barely got twenty feet. Soldiers had captured him in no time, leading him back to the stand. The auctioneer ordered him to the prison and the soldiers dragged him off shreiking madly.
Garrick suddenly felt himself being pulled away from Alycie. He reached out for her, screaming her name, but the soldiers overpowered him with their steely grip. He was pushed out into the middle of the platform, where stage fright immediately took him. He stared at the crowd of people, which, from the ground, had seemed so much smaller than he now found it. So many pairs of eyes were fixed on him, the gleam clearly visible.
"Here is a strapping young lad just beginning adolescence at the age of thirteen! He is equally skilled in hunting, labor, and has had a fair education in math for figuring debts and prices. And at this age there's plenty of time for him to be trained to a specialty. A valuable and docile boy if I ever did see one. We start at two hundred crowns."
Garrick looked around, seeing an old man with a crooked nose raise a hand, his mouth in a stern frown.
"Two hundred! Anybody to top that? Anybody? Two hundred going once, going twice--"
A curly-haired noblewoman raised a hand lazily.
"Three hundred! Three hundred is the current bid! Three hundred going once! Twice!"
A short, portly man in the back raised his hand quickly.
"Four hundred! That's four hundred now! Four hundred going once! Twice! SOLD! To...ah, the merchant, Fexir Ghaovson!" shouted the auctioneer. Garrick felt his insides go cold. Merchant!
"Sir! Sir please! My sister, she and I have to stay together! She's only eight! I'm all she's got! Please don't take me away from her!" he begged the man, falling to his knees.
"You're bought now," said the auctioneer, stepping back away from Garrick. "Take it up with your Master. It's his choice whether to buy your kin."
Garrick was escorted off of the stage by a soldier, rounding the crowd until they met his new Master. Fexir Ghaovson was a renowned merchant for finery such as gold and jewels. He was also notable for his cruelty. He paid the soldier the four hundred crowns and looked Garrick up and down.
"A little scrawny, but you'll do," he decided finally, grabbing Garrick's wrist in a tight grip.
"Sir! Wait sir! My sister, she--"
"Insolent boy!" shouted Fexir, smacking his hand against Garrick's face. "You will address me as Master at all times! Is that clear!?"
"Yes Master," said Garrick. "Master, my sister is up there! Please don't separate us!"
"I've no more money to waste on slaves, least of all that twig of a girl," said Fexir, eyeing Alycie as she was brought up onto the platform, her face as pale as a sheet as she looked at all of the staring faces. Her head turned and her sorrowful blue eyes met those of Garrick, who bowed his head, knowing it was hopeless.
"Si-Master, please, I beg of you, let me see who buys her," said Garrick, looking up at the paunchy face of Fexir.
"If it stops your whining and sniveling then fine, whelp," said Fexir, crossing his arms in immense irritation. Garrick was thankful for even the slightest kindness by this new Master. It was apparent that it would not come too often. His eyes turned up to his sister as the bidding reached three hundred.
"And three hundred going once, twice, SOLD! Well, my lady, it seems you are the lucky buyer of this little girl! Oh, and a servant in the palace as well. It seems the grand palace will have a fine new servant!" cried the auctioneer as Alycie was handed off to a stern-looking woman in an apron and cap, who turned and walked off swiftly, dragging a running Alycie behind her. Garrick let out a sigh of relief.
"There, you've seen it, now come along, whelp! There's cargo for you to help load! We leave for Gil'ead in the morning!"
Garrick stood until the last threat of his sister's skirt was out of sight before giving in to his Master's orders and following him to the far side of Dras-Leona.