I'm back, baby! Well here's the promised NejiTen story! I was planning on waiting longer to put it up, but I decided today's the day!
I started writing this story last July, but I only seriously got into it about five months ago. Since then I've been writing chapters like a madwoman. Okay, no I haven't.
Anywho, I said this story was slightly AU. The keyword is 'slightly'. You see, while the girls in this story are not ninjas, they still live in a world of ninjas. Everyone is pretty much the same, there was just a little turn in everyone's live that turned them into slaves. Whoops!
Well without further ado, here's the story. :3
A chill autumn breeze swept through the great courtyard. The smaller branches of trees swayed, sending a shower of gold and auburn leaves floating to the frosted grass. The few remaining flowers in the garden of the manor shivered and waved at the wind's command.
The courtyard itself was very large and beautiful. There were two long roads for carriages and horses in the front that came from the glossy black gates, and curved around to the sculpted marble steps of the manor. Under all the windows were an assortment of wilting gardens, in which flowers from all over the world grew. That summer they had been blooming in every shape and colour imaginable, now they were desperately clinging to life in the late fall. Though, no matter how bravely they stood, they would soon all have to succumb to winter's freeze. In the very middle of the courtyard was a giant stone fountain, portraying a man and a woman dancing. At the bottom of the stone was inscribed their story, a love story.
However, the apex of the courtyard's beauty was not a decoration at all, yet was so still and lifeless, it could have been mistaken as one.
It was a girl.
She was young, probably in her late teens. She sat elegantly by the fountain, reading the inscription. Her chocolate brown eyes flickered back and forth across the words. The only time she would move was to pick some ice off the water. Her mouth was in neither a smile nor a frown; her face simply held an almost emotionless look. Yet, behind her eyes there was something, only a small, nearly invisible expression of hope, happiness, or grief.
The girl wore only a simple pale pink robe, her feet adorned in equally simple slipper-like shoes of an identical colour. Her dark hair was tied in two buns, with a few loose strands hanging around her face, framing it much like picture. It only seemed appropriate since she was the picture of human beauty.
But 'human' was not a word she would use to describe herself. She certainly didn't feel like she was human. Didn't humans have names, and lives, and rights? She definitely didn't have any of those, though she was sure she had had a name at one point. Now she was just 'girl', or if her master wanted her 'Three' and sometimes 'Pink'. Yes, her master.
The girl was a slave in the manor, one of five girls enslaved in the house. They were numbered and colour-coded; there was green, purple, pink, red and blue. Knowing names was just a bother to her anyway. She didn't care to know her master's name, and it wasn't like there was anyone worth talking to she needed to know the name of. Sometimes she wished she could speak to the others, but they were all kept in separate chambers until the master called one into his to fulfill his 'needs'.
She shivered at the thought. The only real emotion she ever felt now was anger. Sometimes it built up steadily. Other times it exploded in her mind and sent her flying into an awful tantrum in which her room was nearly destroyed on several occasions.
The worst part about her bastard of a 'master' was that he wasn't entirely bad-looking. His hair was dark and silky to the touch. He was pale with a generous amount of muscle, enough to make him strong without looking unattractive. His eyes seemed to stare right through you. It frightened her but it was undeniably striking. However, that didn't sway her feelings towards him at all. He was a filthy pig, and nothing more. He could burn in hell for all she cared.
A few of the girls were more open in their affection for him. Such was obvious by the way they looked at him down the table. 'Pink' blamed their affection on pure physical attraction, there was nothing emotional about it. Or so she hoped.
Though she never spoke to these girls, they sometimes ate meals together in the dining hall. Any slave caught talking, or attempting to communicate with one of the others would be taken away and beaten. 'Pink' had only been beaten for it once, but others like 'Purple' and 'Green' had been taken away more times than she could remember.
Any slave caught talking, or attempting to communicate with one of the others would be taken away and beaten. 'Pink' had only been beaten for it once, but others like 'Purple' and 'Green' had been taken away more times than she could remember. Their master would sit at the head of the table, and the girls would sit along the sides, chained to the chairs they were sitting on. Guards sat between each slave, and talking was absolutely forbidden. The only ones who could talk were the master and any guests he had. She wondered why none of them seem fazed by five young women locked to their seats.
The girl let out a small breath of air as she broke away from her reverie.
Having finished reading the story of the fountain, the girl stood and stretched. She decided to take a walk around the front of the house. The dried grass tickled her bare feet. She grunted at the irritating feeling, but continued to walk. It took about ten long strides for her to reach the gardens. She kneeled gracefully in front of the dying plants, running one small hand up the fragile stem of a lone flower, and gently cupping the remaining petals. They were once full and a beautiful red-orange colour, but were now shriveled and greyish pink lined with brown streaks. She felt the side of her lips began to pull down into a frown. Shaking her head, the girl stood stood, brushing the dirt of her clothes.
She continued wandering through the front yard, occasionally pausing to admire something, or fix anything out of place. She passed by the kitchens on the far right of the manor. The door was open as always to let out smoke and other various air pollutants. She wrinkled her nose from the smell.
When the master or any guests of his weren't around, she was allowed to use the main doors. However when someone other than her or the servants were in the yard, she had to use the kitchen entrance. She hated using it because it was always crowded and hectic in there. Several of the kitchen workers seemingly never stopped working, and would knock her to the ground if need be, and there was always several animals running around. Usually it was something that was supposed to be cooked but got away, or hungry cats and dogs feeding off scraps. It disgusted her, and made her glad that she was usually told to get her own food.
A loud chirping from the other side of the house brought her attention away from the overtaking smells wafting from the kitchen. She searched for the source of the noise. Eventually she spotted a brown bird, its feathers tipped in a bright, beautiful red. The small creature was perched in a tree about halfway between the house and the gate. One of its wings was trapped under a dead branch that had apparently fallen on its nest. Eyes widening at this, the girl rushed over to the poor creature and attempted to reach its high perch.
Unfortunately, she could not reach it by jumping. She took a quick glance around, then latched herself to the truck and began to climb. The girl quickly reached her goal and, using her legs to wrap around a large branch, she grasped the heavy stick and pushed it onto the ground. For a brief moment she wondered if it was okay, but then it stretched its wings, slightly shaking the damaged one, and took off. Something like a smile ghosted across her face. Lucky bird, it was free.
Another sudden sound caught her ear, but this time it wasn't the distressed call of an animal. It was footsteps followed by loud voices. She gasped, looking over the gate. She recognized a few guards, and a man she knew to be her master's main lap dog, but the last man she couldn't place. He was probably a guest of some sort. She suddenly gasped, they were getting close, and she couldn't be the first thing he saw, it would throw of the decor, and she would get it deep trouble. As fast as she dared, the girl climbed back down, cutting her hands and getting dirt on her clothes and skin.
"...So you see, that is why I think this proposition would be excellent for someone of your calibre, sir." One of the men, the 'lapdog', said in a weasel-like drone, as the small group walked through the gate. From what she could tell, he was trying to soften the other man up, likely so that he would buy into whatever plot they were forming. But the mystery man didn't seem to be going for it. He looked like he hated being in this place altogether. She suddenly realized where she was.
'Shit, I didn't think they were that close!' the slave thought, panicking. She immediately tore across the yard and hid behind the fountain she had been sitting on about ten minutes ago. She slithered back a little as they passed to make sure there was no chance of them seeing her. They were almost at the steps, when a scrawny kitten edged toward them. One of the muscled guards took notice, and snorted.
"Mangy beast, get outta the way!" He said in a grunt, moving to kick the poor animal. The slave girl's eyes grew wide, shifting into a run before she had time to contemplate the consequences. She ran out in front of the guard, blocking him from the small feline protectively.
"No, don't hurt him!" She cried. The entire procession turned to see what was causing the disruption. The master's lackey pushed passed them towards the slave girl.
"What do you think you're doing? Coming out in the open?" He snapped, pupils narrowing as he shot her a disgusted look.
"You wench. How dare you shout before an esteemed guest? What filth!" He gestured to her dirtied robe.
"Silence!" He slapped her hard across the face, knocking her to the ground. She felt the blow throb as her head hit the grass, followed by the rest of her body. She struggled to get to her knees.
"I'm sorry... it won't happen again." She forced out, bowing her head. Her chestnut hair fell into her face. He glared.
"It had better not." He sniffed with an air of finality. Her eyes closed, and she felt a heavy kick from a large boot. She let herself fall again.
"What are you doing?" The girl heard a voice call before everything went black.
When she awoke it was dark, and she was lying on the ground next to the kitchen. Obviously, one of the men had dumped her here after she had been knocked unconscious. The girl moaned, rubbing her aching head. She attempted sitting up, but a wave of dizziness washed over her and she slumped back onto the ground. Her tired eyes darted around, observing her surroundings, given there wasn't much else she could do at the moment.
The horizon held a slight orange tint, indicating that the sun was almost set. The visitor was nowhere to be seen, which made sense, since she had been out for at least three hours. The side door of the kitchens had been shut, which meant the meals must have been finished already. Great, now she would have to salvage something, instead of grabbing something to eat from the snack cupboards she wasn't really supposed to know about.
They closed around five in the evening because someone had a medical condition that wouldn't allow snacks after that time. Shaking her head lightly, she pulled herself up slowly. The girl staggered over to the heavy wooden entrance, pushing at the door with all her might, but failing to open it. She rested her still pounding head against it. Then, she heard someone moving around inside. She couldn't believe her luck.
She knocked as hard as she could until she heard a lock being lifted, and a cracked voice telling her the door would be right open. Suddenly the door swung open, and the girl jumped back. A smiling middle-aged woman beckoned her inside.
"Thank you very much." The girl bowed respectfully, making her way in. She hurried through the cramped rooms, and out into the hall.
She sneaked along the passageway into the main entrance room. It was a very large room. The ceiling seemed unnecessarily high, making her need to tip back on her heels slightly just to see it properly. The walls and floor were a navy blue marble. The roof was pretty much an enormous skylight, except for the borders, which were walnut with gold corners. This gave it the feeling of a giant picture frame, held up by several white pillars that were also marble. There were countless doors on all sides of the room and four grand white marble staircases that stood impressively in the corners.
Just to keep the pattern, the railings were carved from walnut and designed with gold decorations. Even simply standing in this room made you feel like you were wasting considerable amounts of money. However, this room was probably the most impressive in the manor, just to give a good first impression. The only other rooms that were of similar beauty were the dining room, the master's chambers, the guest rooms, and the baths reserved for only those of great importance. Usually this meant wealthy guests and nobles.
Looking around, the girl saw no one in the room, so she rushed over to the staircase that lead to the slave's rooms. Walking through the open doorway, she reached a short hallway that rather resembled a hotel. Two doors were on either side, each had a number between '2' and '5' painted on it in black, each matching the number belonging to the girl the room belonged to. A single guard stood at each entrance to let someone into their room and watch so that the slaves couldn't come out and talk to each other. At the end of the hallway was another door that had a number '1' painted on it. 'One' or 'Red', was apparently the master's favourite. The girl scoffed.
'Better her than me.' She thought bitterly.
The girl coughed lightly to let the man watching know she was there. He grunted in annoyance and produced a key with the number three written on it in pink from his pocket. He turned and unlocked the first door on the left, and shoved her roughly inside. She stumbled, but regained her balance as the door slammed behind her.
The girl rolled her chocolate brown eyes and stuck out her tongue at the wood behind her. Someone chuckled and she visibly jumped. Looking around slowly, she saw a man in a gray robe with dark brown hair sitting on her bed. Her breath caught in her throat. That was the man who enforced the rules of the house. She should have remembered he would be here to give her grief about the incident today with the guest.
"How long have you been here?" She asked angrily. Her hate of this man was only slightly less than her hate for the man that enslaved her.
"My, my," he began coolly, "speaking out of turn to someone much higher than you. You should be punished, but out of pure kindness I will answer your question. I've been here for four and a half hours. You should also be punished for making me wait, but I was informed of your situation. All I am here for is to...speak...to you about this whole mess concerning your aggressive behaviour." She said nothing, but her glare intensified.
"I don't blame you for being angry with me. It's not as if I have ever given you reason to like me, neither do I care to. However, you remember what will happen if you try anything, right?"
How could she forget? Once, in the early days after she had first arrived, she had lashed out on a young servant for calling her a whore. She hadn't had time to do any damage before a burly guard came and beat her repeatedly across the back and face with a thin bamboo pole. Fortunately, her master didn't want her with all those marks on her skin, so she was left alone for a week and a half. If she had actually done damage, she was told she would have been whipped, but she couldn't imagine how that could have been worse.
"Yes, I understand." Her voice barely louder than a whisper. The man grinned.
"Good. Now surely you know that you were not supposed to be in the courtyard without someone watching you, even though you couldn't get out anyway." It was true; the gates had an alarm if opened from the inside. Again, she didn't answer him, her eyes locked with his. He waited for a moment to see if she would say anything, then continued.
"Then you somehow managed to get your uniform all dirty, which your master paid good money for. All you have other than that are two kimono, and your sleep clothes. However, both kimonos are very elaborate and expensive, only to be worn in the presence of important guests or when your lord calls for you. And obviously bedclothes are only to be worn while sleeping. None of this clothing is appropriate for walking around the house." He paused for a moment to take a breath and think.
"So, therefore your punishment for this first offence is to be kept in your room at all times. That means no exploring. You are only allowed out to use the washroom – with an escort, of course, or when the master wishes to see you. Also you are not permitted to even do those things until you have washed you robe. Is that clear? "
"Yes..." She answered distantly. Usually someone did all the laundry at once; she rarely had to do it herself. She didn't like to do it. If she had to do something she preferred to sew. Not that she really enjoyed such tedious activities, but after so long without her weapons, being able to hold anything sharp in her hand was a blessing.
"Now the more urgent matter. You knowingly, as a slave, and in such a manner, showed yourself to-"
"That's not true!" She half-yelled, " I only went out because one of the guards was-"
"That's not true!" She half-yelled, "I only went out because one of the guards was-"
"Don't you interrupt me!" He yelled harshly, losing his cool demeanor almost entirely. The girl flinched, falling silent again. It was not wise to argue the matter.
"As I was saying." He hissed, giving her a foreboding glare,
"You know perfectly well that you are absolutely forbidden to let a visitor see you until you are called upon. Yet you threw yourself right into plain view, shouting no less! What do you suppose he must think of this house now? Likely hat we runa zoo, the way youbehaved!" He let out a small huff, eyes remaining narrowed on the slave girl.
"Why did you do it, then? From what I hear you were trying to save some mangy little vermin. That man you practically landed at the feet of was a potential buyer, you know. However, I'm not sure if he is anymore, seeing the way you acted. He might assume all our girls are as disobedient as you." He stopped to let it sink in, and see if she showed any fear or guilt. Her face showed nothing anymore, not even hatred.
'A buyer, huh?' The slave had to keep herself from giggling. Not out of amusement, but of defiance. She had sworn to protect one of the girls she lived with here. She was known in the manor as ' Blue' or 'Four'. They didn't meet until they had been sold into slavery, and neither of them felt the need to discuss their pasts.
They soon became friends, and promised to stay together and protect one another. She had once known her friend's name, but since they were brought here, and all these new rules were enforced to keep them from meeting, she had forgotten it. It made her feel terrible. Every so often a name would float by in her mind, but was quickly whisked away, like there was a sudden wind. She was so wrapped up in her loyal thoughts that she almost didn't hear what he said next.
"... so I believe the best thing to do is to let him decide on the best punishment. After you make a sincere public apology to him, but only say something if he has already asked you. That is all. Your punishment for dirtying your robes begins tomorrow when you awake. Put your pyjamas on and leave your clothes outside the door. When you are ready to wash them knock on your door and someone will hand them in to you. Good night." He ended in a fake cheery tone. She glared at his retreating form as he made his way to the door, then she glared for a while at the spot where he had just been. Her eyelids began to feel heavy, and she sighed in defeat.
Pulling her dark brown locks out of the buns, and letting them hang loosely down her back, she briefly wondered what she did to deserve this. Not that is mattered. What mattered was that she was here now, and she had to find a way to make things right. Not tonight, though. Tonight all she could do was sleep and hope tomorrow could be better, but with all the punishments she had to deal with, it was doubtful.
The girl lazily pulled the complicated ties holding the robe together apart, allowing it to fall to the floor, also pulling off her underclothes. She was never very comfortable being naked so she hurriedly dressed in a loose-sleeved white shirt, along with matching capris-style pajama pants. She then quickly washed clean her face and hands.
Falling onto her bed sheets, the girl gave a half-hearted yawn and didn't even bother to pull the sheets over body as her dark eyes drifted shut.
The sun struggled to shine through a miniature window high on the wall of a small bedroom, yet it's irritatingly bright morning rays managed to glare into the sleeping teen's closed eyes. She groaned, turning on her side and curling up into a tight ball, attempting to warm up. She wasn't awake enough to register that there was a blanket under her. The only clear thought that went through her brain was wondering where the night went.
Eventually her clouded mind cleared, and she remembered what she had to do today. The girl groaned for the second time that morning, slowly swinging one leg over the side of her bedding, then the other, and sat up. Lazily she opened one eye, then the other. Through her blurry vision she managed to recognize a tiny cupboard holding her two ceremonial dresses, a mirror, and a low sink. She raised both hands to her face and rubbed her eyes, blinking a few times to completely clear them.
She raised her slightly tanned arms above her head and stretched as far as she could, until it began to hurt, then dropped them back down, allowing the force of the swing to make her fall back. After a moment of extra rest, she rose unsteadily. Her head still hurt from the day before.
The young slave took a few short strides to the door and knocked quietly. After a moment the rusty hinges creaked, and a rough hand appeared in the small crack that the door had opened, holding her soiled clothing. She took them and muttered a 'Thank you' as it was quickly closed again. A bar of freshly scented soap was also tossed in at the last second. She caught it with ease, and padded over to the sink in the corner.
"I guess it could have been worse." The dark-haired girl sighed, "I just hope this 'buyer' is a fair person... yeah right. I haven't seen a 'fair' person in ages, and with my luck, he'll be even worse than the guy who was in here last night." She let out a cold noise that was something like laughter. She said nothing more as she turned the faucet up full blast over her pink uniform, taking the purple-tinted soap and scrubbing madly, occasionally making a strained grunting sound from the effort.
After a few minutes of this, she took a break, letting her arms fall limp to her sides. The girl observed what progress she had made. She hadn't actually done much other than fill the sink with strong smelling bubbles.
"Obviously I need a different approach." Thankfully, only the front of the robe was dirty where she had been pressed against the tree. Starting at the top of the stain, she held it directly under the flowing water, and began a careful wash of just the part under the tap. In less than a minute, she began to notice the dirt lifting. She scrubbed harder, trying to get this over with as quickly as possible. Soon she had about six square inches cleared, then eight, ten, twelve. In record time she had already cleared the shirt part of the pink garment.
The slave girl took a break from her efforts. Her hands were cold and pruned as she wiped them on her nightclothes. She took a few short breaths, shaking her cramped fingers to loosen them. She wondered what time it was outside her room. The brunette sighed, no time to be worrying about that now. With that she dove back into her cleaning, using the same method as before. In half an hour the robe was clean and sweet smelling. She stood on her bed and pulled open the miniscule window. She blindly reached out and hung her clothing from the short concrete ledge to dry.
With nothing left to do, the girl sat on her bed and let herself fall into a trance-like state, simply staring at the wall. Unconsciously she brought a hand up and combed it through her messy locks. After a few minutes her eyes began to ache from the dryness, so she blinked a few times, again looking around and seeing the plain room she had already seen so many times before.
"This sure is boring." she complained to the air without thinking. She realized what she had said and wondered why she had done it. The slave was used to spending hours in her simple chambers, doing nothing but staring. So why was it then that she had found herself suddenly so incredibly bored? Perhaps it was due to the fact that she was slightly anxious to find out what this 'buyer' was like, and what her punishment would be. Obviously she wouldn't enjoy it, and it would probably be something sexual. She didn't get a very good look at the visitor; all she saw was that he had dark hair. Not that looks mattered much to her anyway, if she ever did find someone – which was extremely unlikely, all she really wanted was respect.
However the girl had long since given up her dreams that a kind buyer would come and whisk her away, then marry her, and they would live happily ever after. Things just didn't work that way in real life, she knew that. Still, she wished they would sometimes. She let an exasperated sigh escape from her lips.
A sharp rapping on the door interrupted her thoughts. Before she could give any acknowledgment, the person rudely barged in. It was a large woman with black hair tied in a bun. She wore a long blue maid's uniform, and she carried a small piece of paper the slave knew held orders for her.
"The master wishes to see you in the guest quarters. You can dress yourself." The girl barely had time to nod her head before the maid stormed out, a look of total disgust on her face. As soon as the door was slammed shut, she rolled her eyes. This was going to be about the visitor she had 'offended'. With a grunt she began to read the instructions given to her.
Okay! First chapter is done! The next chapter may take a while to come out... I dunno. I promise it won't be like last time, though. I give you my solemn oath that there will be a new chapter here in less than a month. So if by October 3rd, 2007 there is no second chapter, I shall... punish myself by... walking though the market square lashing myself with a tuna... or something.
I was writing this and listening to 'Life is Like a Boat' from Bleach, and I was like "Wow, this is just like her!", then I switched it to 'Happy Boys and Girls' by Aqua and laughed my ass off.
Er... what else...?
Oh yeah. Review please! My last story got 13 reviews in four months. I'm sure you people can do better than that!
Anyone who guesses who the 'Master' is gets a hearty handshake - free of charge.
ONE LAST THING. I start highschool tomorrow!!! I'm so scared! -cries- If anyone has advice drop me a review. Other than that... WISH ME LUCK!