I was not born. I was created to be a full-grown adult, with all the knowledge of a basic schooling. My job was to entertain the soldiers, though they never touched me. My partners in entertainment ranged from sadistic to unwilling. All were neutered, and all were forced to wear an iron jaw over top their own. They also lacked a right foot. The soldiers found it funny, watching these mutilated souls torment those created to receive such abuse.
I enjoyed it. They called me strange, and went to view me most. I hungered for the mistreatment, and it wasn’t long before I earned enough coin to free myself, even with my heavily-inflated worth.
In the end, I began to show signs of age early, and I was scheduled for a final, life-ending show. As the days passed, I grew more and more excited. My cell-mate, a sadist neuter with a mean streak that hid nurturing love, was amused by my excitement. She was older than me by twenty years. She was, after all, a captive from the enemy army.
Every night that week, she held me tightly and told me I was stupid not to buy my freedom before it was too late. I always laughed at her. On the last day, before I thought there would be no more time for purchases, I gave her my savings.
As I was being led into the ring, I saw an ice dragon as my ‘opponent’. I would not survive. It was my cell partner’s dragon. Oddly, she was on top of it, and she had feet.
Wind whooshed past me as she lifted me into the air by dragon’s claw. Would she drop me?
Instead, she flew out of the arena. I screamed in terror. Nobody would see! I held on tightly and glared up at the great, scaled beast. How could she do this to me? The air flying by slowed, and we landed with a satisfying thud.
The dragon threw me into a cave. “Next time we meet, I’ll be hunting you down. Run, because when I catch you, I’ll make it so fast, you won’t feel a thing.”
Confused, I stood. I was nude, and stuck in a cave. She turned on her dragon, and flew away. I was abandoned by the person I called my friend. I was betrayed.
Out of a sense of rebellion, I remained where I was. It took only an hour for me to grow bored, however, and I left. My feet didn’t know where to go, and they were soft against the hard rocks below. Willpower alone led me away, and despite bloody feet, I was soon running. Ahead, I could see smoke, and wondered what it came from. Curiosity drove me forward, until I arrived at a small church. There were having an outdoor roast. My stomach growled, and I tried to sneak in among them.
My nudity was a problem, it seemed, and as I was about to take a bite of a bird’s drumstick, I was hauled into the church building by three old women and a young, sickly-looking man. Two of the women began to question me harshly.
“Why are you here in the nude? There are children out there!”
“Aren’t you cold?”
“How dare you stain our cook-out with such nudity!”
I backed away, right into a massive brick wall that wasn’t there a moment ago. I looked up to find it was a man with a scarred face. He spoke quietly, and they all listened. “Calm down, biddies. Can’t you see the bloody footprints she’s leaving? Someone probably attacked her.” His scolding tone was condescending and left the old women trying to grasp at any dignity left to them.
The skinny man who came in at the head of our silly parade spoke up. “Ladies, please. Wash her up and give her some clothing. She’s obviously too hungry to care about appearances. She must have suffered so much before she arrived.”
Quickly, the old birds descended upon me and dragged me to a washroom. They washed me thoroughly and tended to my feet. I was shocked. “So,” I began, “I’m sorry for showing up naked. I don’t own any clothes.”
They looked at each other, then hurriedly offered apologies for their own behavior. My smile slipped out before I could hold it back.
“No need to worry about apologizing to me. I was just waiting for my friend to come back and kill me, but I got bored and started to take a walk. She’s so mean, making me wait.” I babbled.
One of the old women stood suddenly, and left. Her face was very pale. Another of the women, who had spoken the most harshly earlier, scowled. “Why was she going to kill you?”
“Because it’s her job to, I would imagine. When a person buys freedom for someone, then that someone has to run fast, because anyone who becomes free gets hunted down for death ten days, I overheard.” I tilted my head. “It wasn’t my idea to be freed. I wanted to die the way I lived, with pain and a big crowd.”
The two remaining women looked at each other, then back at me. “Where are you from?” the harsher of the two demanded.
“Somewhere across the sea. Every time I looked down, I saw water, so it could only have been the Barrier Ocean.” I blinked. “Why?”
“Because now we know why you showed up naked.” She sighed. “Now that I look at you, if you were more tanned, you would look just like Jenisse.”
“Oh, she does look like Jenisse, if she were a few years older!” The other old woman agreed, and they seemed to stop disliking me then. Their touch was more gentle, and they chattered with each other happily.
To me, their change in attitude made no sense.
The third old woman returned with a dress and tossed it to me with shaking hands. I pulled it on. It was a simple thing, and well-worn. “Thank you.” I murmured with a smile. It wasn’t bad. I had been told by others like me that clothes were itchy, but this was soft and moved easily. “I like it a lot.” I admitted.
The three women began to brush my hair, and when they were (hopefully) half-finished, someone knocked on the door and called in, “Is she clothed?”
“She is, boy.”
The skinny man from before peered in, then entered. “Ah, thank you for taking care of her.” He smiled. “I brought some food.”
Ah, what a sweet man! I felt like I’d never heard such wonderful words before in my life!
At least, not since yesterday.