Title: Slave Girl
Pairings: AU Edmund/Lucy (they are not related at all in this story), some Susan/Rabadash at the beginning (yuck, I know, but bare with me!) and some Susan/Emeth
Rating*: M (sexual content, violence, slavery and, prostitution)
Author's Note: Yeah, I know I shouldn't be starting another story yet. It's just that I'm super excited about this story.
Because this is the first M rated story I've written, I feel the need to share a few things. One, any sex scenes are going to be non-explicit and fade-to-black. However, that being said, it is a lot more overt than what I usually write. If you want warnings on top of certain chapters, tell me. If I get three requests for warnings I'll put them on top in an author's note. Less than that, I'll put it in my review replies for the chapter before. Either way, it won't come until a few more chapters anyhow.
Acknowledgements: Thanks to Rachel for reading early versions and giving me your thoughts! Love you, hun!
To be perfectly clear, right off the bat, Edmund hated Calormen. There was nothing that could ever change that. It wasn't any one thing about the country, it was more of the place entirely: the scorching heat, the high-and-mighty attitudes of the Calormenes (even the few nice ones he had met in his lifetime still maintained this), their overkill views on religion, the holier-than-thou Tisroc, and just the bloody culture as a whole. He had gone there once for a holiday with his family, and had sworn to never go back again. Yet, there he was, going back on his promise, and all because of his blasted sister.
Susan seemed to notice that her brother was a bit colder than usual. Or, at least, that's what it looked like after having to sit on the ship for a week with him glowering over his shoulder, and she finally put her foot down.
"Oh, come on now, Ed. You didn't have to come with me."
Edmund grimaced. "Yeah, I did."
It was an obligation that he had forced himself into; there was no way that he would let his sister go all the way to Tashbaan by herself to meet her good-for-nothing suitor. Never mind that she was two years older and acted as though she was his mother for the majority of the time. He still felt as though he needed to protect her from this. He, and their older brother Peter, had gotten a bad feeling about Susan's suitor, Rabadash Tarkaan, ever since he first laid eyes on him back in Narnia. Susan, however, must have missed this feeling, as she seemed entirely taken with him. And now, he had invited Susan to come to Tashbaan, the capitol of Calormen, to meet with him there. Edmund couldn't shake the feeling that something was going to go fantastically wrong.
Susan sighed. "At least pretend like you're happy to be here. Please, just don't be rude."
"They behead people for being rude. I'm not about to."
Glaring, Susan said, "Your exaggerations aren't appreciated."
Edmund didn't think he was exaggerating in the slightest, but he knew better than to argue.
The ship rocked gently on the waves, Edmund realized that he had actually enjoyed the voyage south. As their father enjoyed seafaring as much as any man could, their family already owned several ships and crews; thus, it was a fairly comfortable and familiar experience for him. If only he didn't focus so much on the destination. If only he could just drop Susan off in the desert wasteland that was Calormen, near some sort of possibility for drinking water, and he would simply ride on the waves in this ship, and come and pick Susan up at the end. However, he would not do this. To put it frankly, he didn't trust the Tarkaan trying for Susan's heart. There was something slimy about him, although he looked decent enough from a distance, the second someone looked in his face, Edmund thought, it was fairly obvious what he was and what he was not. He most certainly was not someone to be trusted.
Edmund turned back to the open sea, forgetting for a moment that the other sailors were just on the starboard side, drinking, gambling, and making merry, or that his sister stood beside him; it seemed as though he was completely alone on the deck. Before the sun had fallen that evening they could see the hazy silhouette of Tashbaan in the distance. The pleasant journey would soon end; and if Edmund were younger, he might have pouted about it. The exchange of salty sea air for scorching sand-filled gusts hardly seemed like a decent trade.
"Lord and Lady Martin?" A sailor's voice sounded behind him.
Edmund spun around to see Rhince, a crewmember they had picked up in Narrowhaven while picking up supplies. He nodded. "Yes?"
Rhince shifted his weight uncomfortably, as though he did not quite have his sea legs. "I was wondering if, while you're in Tashbaan, if you could keep an eye out for my wife."
"Your wife?" Edmund repeated, wondering if he had heard wrong .
"Yes, sir." Rhince nodded. "About eight years ago, my wife, Helaine, was kidnapped and sold to slave traders. I've been looking ever since. The Lone Islands, Ettinsmoor, Telmar, Archenland and even in Narnia. Calormen is the only other place she can be. I'll work my dues here first, but I have to go and find her. If you hear about her and tell me, I'd be appreciative."
Edmund frowned slightly. "Eight years? That's a long time."
Rhince nodded sadly, but only managed to say quietly. "She was pregnant."
"So you've got a son out there, too?" Susan reflected, putting a hand over her heart.
Sighing, Rhince again nodded. "I need to know, sir. Please, at least ask about her or keep a watchful eye. I've thought of nothing else but them for years."
Susan smiled lightly. "We'll ask the Tarkaan and any of our friends."
Rhince pulled out a pocket watch from his shirt. Opening it, it revealed, on the opposite side of the clock, a miniscule portrait of a young woman, perhaps twenty or so, with dark ringlets and a solemn face. "It's an old portrait, but it's all I have."
Susan took it, and after some hasty good-byes, Rhince turned about and went back to the sailors.
"Oh, that's such a pity," Susan frowned sympathetically. "Poor Rhince."
Edmund nodded, somewhat annoyed that she was trying to sound like their mother. Still it was a terrible thing for Rhince to have to live with. He did not understand in the slightest, but he could imagine. If Susan or their mother had been taken away into slavery, and he hadn't been able to help them, he would have been rather unable to live with himself until they were found again. Of course, had Susan or their mother been sold into slavery, Peter would have gotten the entire royal guard looking for them, and they would probably be found within a few days, but still. It was the principle of the thing.
"And, it's even worse that he's still holding onto it. I doubt that anyone we see will have seen his wife; Calormen's such a large place, after all." Susan folded her arms and turned away from the sea.
"He hasn't got much hope," Edmund agreed. "But, it might be all he has to live for."
The next morning, Edmund arose, and looked out the frosted window of his cabin in the Splendor Hyaline. It surely ought to have been a pretty sight; the dark blue rush of the water beneath them, the leisurely circle of the gulls overhead, the lax pace of the crewmembers all about. However, to Edmund, all he could see was the silhouette of Tashbaan in the distance, steadily coming closer with every dreaded second.
It looked like a giant triangle rising up out of the ground, he thought, as they entered the river to take them to the port beside the outer wall of the city. It reminded Edmund that he had hated triangles when his tutor had attempted to teach him geometry. In reality, the city was merely set on a hill, and set up in a rather symbolic pyramid—with their King, the Tisroc at the top of the hill (just under the temples for their god), and the high status Tarkaans and Tarkheenas below that, going down until they reached the peasantry at the very base of the hill.
From afar, Edmund could tell that it was a crowded place, and he could swiftly make out hundreds of terraces and balconies, streets above the roofs of the houses and buildings set in lower on the hill; orange and lemon trees in roof-gardens and spires and, well, it was entirely overwhelming for him. Even the biggest city in Narnia could not prepare him for Tashbaan.
It was not that Edmund was an entirely cynical fellow; he honestly did not see himself as such, despite the chorus of desperate soliloquies running through his brain. He just saw no possible silver lining; no flash of light before the sun went down; nothing to look forward to in Calormen. They would look at him as though he smelled and offer him backhanded compliments if by the slim chance they liked him (and even if they did) he would still be called a barbarian to his face. Ironic, wasn't it? He would never understand the attraction his sister had to those dark-skinned tyrants.
Yes, he would try to behave. Not simply because he was afraid of losing his head, but because Susan wanted this. It meant a lot to his sister, so he would try to tone down. However, if there was one thing he was not by nature, it was mild. One had to be a force to be reckoned with, if one was the youngest in a powerful Narnian line with a brother as influential and brilliant as Peter, and with a sister as perfect and gentle as Susan, all that was left for Edmund was a sharp wit and fiery manner. He had to, or else be shoved into the background without a passing glance.
Then, it seemed as though it was only a moment and they were led up the city, always sloping upwards and turning about on the hill, to reach the higher parts. Although they were only led through the finer parts of the city, Edmund could not help but notice a child scraping through a rubbish heap for a bite to eat in the shadow of the house, or a mugging going on in a far off alleyway.
"Make way! Make way!" The servant had cried. "For the Lady Susan Martin, guest of Rabadash Tarkaan the invincible and unquestionable! Way! Way! Way for the barbarian visitors!"
It reminded him just how foreign they were; how they were out of place; and it worried him. He knew from personal experience that others could give you a significantly hard time when you are a guest and they are in their own nest, so to speak. Of course, Rabadash Tarkaan was trying to get Susan to marry him, so at first at least, Edmund would not expect anything even close to it. At first. But, of course, there was no way to trust it. Edmund saw passed the mask that Susan could not; and he realized that Rabadash was nothing more than a bloody, proud, cruel, luxurious, self-pleasing tyrant.
They were led up to a house that, even Edmund would have to admit, was rather incredible. It was all pillars and archways, the walls barely existent till you were very far into the halls, and billowy curtains created the cool illusion of a breeze, even though it was still rather hot. The air was perfumed and heavy, and there was a queer humming throughout the halls, as though in some far off room, someone was humming, but it was too far away to distinguish what it was. Every colour was vivid and bright, sunlit yellows, fiery reds, and earthy browns greeted their eyes. They found themselves led down a corridor, where the pillars departed and they were surrounded by walls, very far apart and with a doming ceiling; it made Edmund feel as though he were under a magnifying glass.
Eventually, they led him to his and Susan's rooms; great big things, two separate bedchambers. His had a low, large bed that could probably fit about seven people, with gauzy and translucent curtains. He wondered what he would need such a large bed for and almost voiced this, until a little voice in his head gave him an answer, in which case he turned red from embarrassment and turned his attention to the rest of the room. It was mostly open; a wide window overlooked the rest of Tashbaan without shutters, but with the same translucent curtains that covered the bed. What was the use of that? Anyone could see what was going on inside the room if they cared to look, with or without the curtains. Either way, he found that there was a large fire pit in a corner of the room, built into the ground and many comfortable looking silk and Cashmere pillows. Well, while they were there, they would certainly be residing in style, he thought, picking up an orange from a bowl of fruit residing on a square table, and beginning to peel it.
Throwing the peel into the fire pit, Edmund laid down on the bed, surprised to find it stiff and rigid. Was this a bed? To be entirely honest, he fancied that, if Susan did not come to her senses quickly, and leave for Narnia within a fortnight, he may have to smuggle in some heather to fill his mattress with. That, or use blankets and afghans to make a hammock in a corner; either one would be a great deal more comfortable than whatever the Calormenes stuffed their mattresses with.
Although the bed was hardly anyone's idea of comfortable, the orange and other assorted fruits in the room were heavenly. They all had just the right amount of juice, and were just ripe enough to be sweet without being too soft.
Perhaps Tashbaan might have a silver lining after all. That is, the food. He was not sure if he would like it all, but if the raw fruit was as delicious as the orange he was chewing on was, perhaps all the cuisine would be just as wonderful.
A well-dressed, tall slave girl came into the room, her dark skin and hair contrasting with the bright yellow of her trousers and shawl.
"Are you the Lord Martin, barbarian nobleman from the cold, enchanted wastelands of the far north?"
Edmund raised his brow at the description. "Erm, that's me."
The slave girl gave a stuffy bow, as though she didn't think it worth her time. "There is to be a great feast in celebration of your sister, the barbarian noblewoman from the cold, enchanted wastelands of the far north, in which your attendance is requested."
Edmund, not really feeling quite up to a feast just yet, he only muttered, "No thanks. I'm not hungry."
"As much as my Lord (whom may the gods' praise and wholly celebrate in his marvelous conquests) feels that your presence in their blessed home is unnecessary and damming," The slave girl's eyes drew to slits, perhaps questioning his insolence. "It's not optional."
"I thought you said he requested my presence," Edmund said, feeling a challenge.
"It was not that kind of request." The slave girl said, backing out of the doorway. "Take your barbarian sister and lead her to the dining hall at once."
As the slave left, Edmund could not help his childish impulse, and stuck his tongue out at her.
Susan, on the other hand, felt quite differently. The Tarkaan was quite the handsome fellow, and, when he had visited her in Narnia, he had been quite the gentleman, albeit a bit spoiled. She was quite ecstatic when she received the invitation to come and visit. Her brothers were not as pleased, and although they made it apparent, would never attempt to control her actions. The closest either of them came was when Peter had asked her to reconsider. Reconsider? She had thought, what was there to reconsider? When she had expressed these feelings, he had shaken his head, and told her to be careful, and, if she did find she desired to marry the Tarkaan, to return home at least once before the wedding. She had promised; she had planned to come back, anyhow; if she found she did desire the Tarkaan's hand in marriage, she would want some Narnian aspects to the wedding anyhow, her mother's gown, for example.
Either way, she had not been thrilled when she found her younger brother had decided to come along, but she did not put on a fight. It was proper to have an escort in such matters, and her father was far more at ease with the knowledge that she would have a chaperone. However, who were they kidding? Edmund, her chaperone? The boy had the attention span of a sparrow. She couldn't count the times they had gone riding as children, and he disappeared. Her hours of worrying what had become of him, resulted in finding he had gone up a tree to see what was around the corner.
She did love her brother, she really did; she just did not see the sense in him coming along as a chaperone. Peter would have been a more sensible option; he was older, could sit still for more than ten minutes, and would not have been so obvious with his distaste of Calormene culture. If Edmund did not drop his attitude, and soon, Susan thought, she might just go mad. It was not fair to the Tarkaan, who had opened his home to them, for him to be such a prat.
Either way, there was a little part of her that was thankful she was not in the strange country alone. In a way, she found it comforting to know that Edmund was only a corridor away.
A/N: Please leave a review on your way out! :)