This chapter contains a pen. There are slaves in it.
randomgirl777-is-AWESOME: Thank you, I'll try to keep it intameresting. :D Thanks for reading!
SOLmaster: You'll see. ;) Glad you like it, thanks for reviewing!
June: I know that, but this story's only mildly based on mythology, I'll admit.
DarkButterfly128: To be honest, I'm more worried about Spongebob and Patrick. :P Thanks for the review!
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Third Kind: Aye, things are looking a bit grim here... Thanks!
Chapter Six: The Slave Pen
"Hey, the fella's wakin' up."
Spongebob opened his eyes. He was lying in the dust in a small tent, two blurry figures looking down at him. As his vision cleared, he recognised one of them.
"Patrick!" he wheezed, "Are we in Poseidon yet?"
"Nope," shrugged Patrick, helping his friend up.
"Not even halfway, pal," the other fish added.
The other fish was a tall, green fellow, wearing a dusty suit and tie and a battered fedora. He had a hint of a stubble on his face, which was more then a little scarred.
"Who're you?" asked Spongebob.
"Name's Al," replied Al, "I'm an…err…legitimate businessman. Got picked by these clowns while goin' between villages."
"What're they gonna do to us?" asked Spongebob, nervously.
"They're gonna sell us as slaves for a quick buck," shrugged Al, "After that, we can probably look forward to a short, miserable life working some guy's fields."
"Is that a bad thing?" quizzed Patrick.
Al glared at him.
"Wait a minute," Spongebob realised, "Where's Sandy?"
"Probably in the other camp," shrugged Al, "With Jackson's slaves."
"Bill Jackson, he's top slaver in these parts," replied Al, "Pretty nasty guy. Just be glad we're not gonna be his, kapeesh?"
"How do we get there?"
Al shook his head.
"So, you wanna escape this camp, go over to the bigger, better defended slave camp, grab a slave belongin' to the most powerful slaver in the plain and get out again without bein' killed," he sighed, dryly, "Sun Tzu, you are not."
"I can do it!" exclaimed Spongebob, defensively.
"Suuuuuure you can, buddy." deadpanned Al.
"Slaves! Out here, now!" a gruff voice yelled from outside the tent.
"And that's our que," groaned Al, shuffling out of the tent. Cautiously, Spongebob and Patrick followed him.
They joined a small gathering of ragged, downtrodden slaves guarded over by three armed fish in long coats. In front of them were Bill Jackson and a very large and muscular puffer fish in a singlet and jeans.
"Evening, slaves," Jackson grinned, "Welcome to the pen. Don't get used to it, we're gonna be takin' you all down to the markets for sellin' soon. Reckon we'll fetch a good buck for you all. Any questions?"
Patrick put his hand up.
"When do we get to go home?" he asked.
A few slaves facepalmed, Al included.
"Okay," sighed Jackson, "Since that was a monumentally stupid question, we're gonna skip the rest of this discussion and just take you straight to the market. Single file, no-one tries anything funny. Move out."
"What if we don't wanna?" demanded Patrick, crossing him arms.
"Rex," said Jackson.
The big puffer fish grabbed a wooden plank from seemingly nowhere and snapped it like a twig.
"Okay I'm going," said Patrick, meekly.
The walk through the village was short but unpleasant.
The villagers of the town, who obviously hadn't bathed since they left civilization, jeered and hollered at the passing procession of slaves. Occasionally, a few particularly nasty people hurled rubbish and buckets of sludge and mud at them.
"What nice people," grinned Patrick as a large piece of rancid meat hit him in the face.
Eventually, they reached an open area with a makeshift stage of wood and iron in the middle. The slaves were taken onto the stage and lined up before the townspeople, all yelling and holding up soiled and dirty dollar notes. Mr. Krabs would've been mortified, Spongebob thought.
Jackson took centre of stage, taking on the air of a ringleader. Behind him, the armed men and Rex continued to guard the slaves. Rex was now holding a pitchfork in his arms.
"Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the bi-weekly slave markets!" he declared, "We got a bit more then usual, so I hope you brought more dough!"
He pointed to a terrified looking slave, who Rex immediately booted to the centre of the stage.
"Looks like we ain't starting too good here," mused Jackson, "Kinda short, more bone then muscle – still, someone can use him, I guess."
"Please!" exclaimed the man, "I have four kids!"
"We don't care," replied Jackson, "Going price is fifty bucks, going for fifty bucks…"
"Sixty!" someone yelled.
"Sixty! Going once…going twice…sold!"
"No, wait!" exclaimed the man.
Rex walked over, carrying the pitchfork in his arms. Spongebob noticed that the metal parts of the pitchfork were all golden. It looked strangely familiar.
"Pat," he whispered, "Is it just me, or does that look like a mini-version King Neptune's trident?"
Rex handed the pitchfork to Jackson, who held it in front of the poor fish. It glowed for a few seconds, and the slave's eyes became glassy and unfocused.
"Go serve your master, boy," sneered Jackson.
Without complaining, the fish got up and walked offstage to his buyer.
"Doesn't look suspicious," replied Patrick.
Jackson sneered as he continued.
"Next guy up," he began, "This small square guy! Going price about eighty, bring him up Rex."
Spongebob's eyes widened as Rex grabbed him by the arm, pulling him towards Jackson and the mini-trident.
"No, wait, you don't understand!" exclaimed Spongebob, "I need to get to Poseidon, I need…"
"Uh-huh," nodded Jackson, absently, "Still at eighty people, eighty big ones!"
"One hundred!" someone yelled.
"One hundred! Anyone wanna match that? One hundred!"
"Please, you gotta let me go!"
"It's for the whole ocean!"
"Heck, it's for King Neptune…"
Jackson jumped as one of his guards came hurtling out of the sky, landing headfirst on the stage.
"Ow," the guard murmured.
All of a sudden, all eyes were on a figure, standing upon a roof at the other side of the open area, cracking her knuckles.
"So?" asked Sandy, eyebrow risen, "Who's first?"
So, question - where does a two-bit slaver get a trident?
The plot thickens...