Market of Slaves
Aimee wandered to a more or less populated street, where the people were wary and not feisty as they might have been weeks ago. Many of them regarded Aimee with spiteful, nervous, suspicious, and frightful looks when they saw her battered state. Her elbows were red and dripping blood, that had left a stain of crimson in her white sleeves. Her clothes were dusty and worn out because she had scraped her body during the fall of the debris on her and when the sentinel pushed her to the ground. She tried, however, to appear less shabby and smiled humbly. She could see the flags in the near horizon, announcing her nearness to the docking plates of the Trade.
As she progressed, she noticed that her path started winding into desolated alleys and roads, where the remnants of stands and merchandise were scattered around and weapons lying broken on the ground. Aimee bit her lip, her heart sore with panic. Only one thought kept her going, the prospect of reuniting with her family soon; and one thought gnawed her mind, she should have kept the wooden stick just in case. Despite the solitude, she trudged forward as best she could and ignored the pangs of pain her body screamed.
The alley had become dusty and echoes of her breathing and walking bounced off the walls. She hear scuffling noises, feet running in her direction, and ragged breathing; she thought it was a product of her imagination. However, two black marks appear after rounding a corner, those specks were growing larger and larger, soon converting themselves into two human shapes running as fast as they could. Aimee had one word in mind: danger.
The longest figure of the two was a girl about her age, with long, thick black hair, almond-shaped black eyes, and slightly tanned skin. She was dragging a small boy behind her, urging him to run faster. The boy could be no more than ten years old, skinny and feeble, with curtains of dark hair and black eyes. Both of them had something unnatural in common, black numbers tattooed on their forearm and a bronze collar tightly secured on their necks.
Aimee was aghast. Slaves, she thought. As they drew near, she could see their expression of exhaustion and terror. She immediately guessed they were escaping from their owners. She and the girl exchanged a quick glance, there was something pleading in her eyes which Aimee sympathized with and wished she could help them. Aimee stepped aside to allow them both to run through, the girl was shorter than her and her body attractive, by no means was she plain or ugly. The girl’s eyes shifted before her and they ran past Aimee. Aimee could smell sweat and fear. The little boy tripped on loose wood and fell on the ground, giving a little cry of agony. The girl stopped on her tracks.
“Please Pablo, stand up, the sentinel is coming,” she pleaded, lifting him up by the armpits. “Apurate.” The little boy, at the mention of the sentinel coming, quickly scrambled to his feet and let the girl drag him to a run once again. Her English was broken and slightly accented, Aimee noted. She heard more noise coming from the direction where the girl and Pablo had run from, it was thumping runs, like the hooves of a best trotting. Aimee searched around her, panicking, and slid her skinny body in a slot of an alley, praying to the Lights the sentinel does not see her.
The sentinel was huffing and sweating when he passed in front of Aimee. His bronze mail shone under noon sun, his head was protected with a metal helmet, and he had a long, sharp scimitar in his hand. Aimee exhaled in relief when he had run past her, unmoved and inattentive to her hiding place. Slowly, she emerged from her hiding place and look after the sentinel. On the one hand, she had the Chaser to return to her home, safe and sound; but on the other hand she had two defenseless people that probably would be tortured for attempting an escape after they were recaptured or worst, die.
Aimee was divided between these two crucial decisions. Slavery matters in the Trade weren’t her problem or business to deal with, but her conscience would never be appeased knowing that she might have been able to save two innocent people. “Why are you wasting your time thinking, Aimee?” she reproached herself. “Just do it already.” And she ran after the sentinel.