Hello, my newsletter subscribers!
As promised, here’s the next chapter in the fanfiction I set in the world of Conan the Barbarian — exclusively for you!
In case you missed it, here’s a link to the first chapter!
And now, on to Chapter Two!
The sun-faded in the western sky as another day of toiling on the jagged, red-hued stone of the Red Pit ended. A hundred men, women, and older children here as slaves huddled in a cleared area in the pit’s center.
Trustees stood to watch as two of their number unshackled slaves’ feet. This act would ease the climb up two rope ladders out of the pit to the slave tents on ground level.
Asthara and her allies Runi, Kesisa, and Nefera were the last to be unshackled. All the slaves would remain in their wrist shackles.
These shackles held a length of chain between them, long enough for the slaves to work but not long enough to reach above their heads without raising both arms.
Over the day, the women had formulated a plan. With their owner now present, the trustees had begun to exaggerate their dominance over the slaves. They became overconfident and sloppy.
The trustees expected the saves to bow to them.
The trustees would not expect an escape attempt.
Kesisa had resisted the idea. But then she thought of her two brothers back in Hyrkania.
Neither could match her skills in combat, yet they stood as heirs to the clan leadership by right of what hangs between their legs.
Worse, they had convinced their parents to send her into the world to become more ladylike.
Whatever that meant.
What would they say if they knew they’d sent their younger sister into a life of slavery?
The bastards probably wouldn’t care.
Better to take the chance at escape, Kesisa decided. A life knowing her brothers had bettered her would not be worth living.
The trustees had removed the shackles from Asthara and Runi’s ankles. They set to work on Nefera’s restraints.
While waiting her turn, Kesisa let her hunter’s instincts look for the weaknesses in the area. The two trustees working the shackles carried the awl hammer breaking the bonds and a metal basket to hold five sets of manacles and chains.
The basket had a wide brim and wasn’t particularly deep.
Almost like a shield.
Nazarus and nine of his trustees sat at a table in front of a sheer cliff wall to the south. They gorged themselves on meats unavailable to the slaves.
Their gluttony had not gone unnoticed by the slaves, whose eyes mixed with lust for the food and hatred for those who so callously ate it.
Slaves grimaced as even the slightest scrap of food fell to the stone floor.
Holding particular interest were the two rope ladders to the north. To get there, Kesisa and her allies must press through the other slaves — if those slaves would even let them pass.
Should they maneuver through the slaves, the women traverse the debris from the rock quarry.
Hopefully, some clever trustee wouldn’t get the idea to cut the ladders in that time. If they did, the women would have a steep climb up the jagged walls of the Red Pit to the ground level.
The would-be escapees had no way of knowing what waited for them once they reached ground level.
Kesisa assumed the owner would bring more of the Pelishtim mercenaries who had kidnapped most of the slaves and brought them here.
But how many?
And what else would the owner bring?
“Move that pretty ass!” a trustee shouted at Kesisa, bringing her mind back to the moment.
Nefera’s shackles were gone, now placed in the trustee’s basket.
The other trustee motioned for Kesisa to step forward. She did so. The trustee bent down and used his awl hammer to remove the first pin from her ankle shackles.
Kesisa looked at Asthara and Runi.
They each gave her a slight nod.
The second of two pins dropped from Kesisa’s shackles, freeing her legs. The Hyrkanian immediately wrapped the chain between her wrists about the neck of the bent-over trustee. She jerked upward, strangling the man.
Asthara pushed Nefera out of the way and charged the trustee holding the basket. Their impact drove the man back, but he held on to the basket full of chains and manacles.
Runi turned to the other slaves. “Listen to me! There are more of us than them! We can take them all and be free!”
The slaves closest to the women and the trustees stared in awe of the women’s brazen attack. Yet not a person moved forward in aid.
The trustee Asthara attacked dropped the basket, then reached for his truncheon. He swung the heavy stick at his attacker.
Asthara held up her chain, deflecting the stick away from her. She turned the chain back at the trustee. The metal scraped across the trustee’s armored torso, doing more damage to the armor than the man.
Kesisa had better luck.
She snapped her trustee’s neck and let him slide out from her chains.
To her surprise, she heard a cheer from the slaves.
“As he has fallen,” Runi yelled, “so shall Nazarus the Whip!”
More cheers from the slaves.
Across the way, Nazarus stood at the table so abruptly he hit the table, spilling wine and food. Ignoring the mess, he thrust a finger pointing at Runi and the others and yelled, “Kill those bitches!”
Four of the trustees at the table dropped their food and drink. Heeding their master’s command, they raced to meet the women.
To their surprise, ten of the slaves raced to meet them.
The slave nearest Asthara reached out to grab the trustee she combatted. Unfortunately, he stumbled, running into Asthara. She barely kept her footing as the slave fell to the ground.
Another slave thought he, too, could valiantly aid the ebony-haired damsel. He fared no better, but at least he kept his footing.
Runi grabbed the awl hammer from the trustee whose neck she had broken neck.
The first slaves to reach the trustees coming from the table received a truncheon to the head for his heroism. The sad sack went down with a fractured skull. Another trustee moved in, hitting another slave but not entirely taking him down.
Two other trustees sprinted toward Runi, readying their truncheons. The first blow struck her in the side, sending her sprawling to the ground. The second blow never came as the trustee reconfigured for a prone target.
Meanwhile, Asthara used her chain to sweep the leg of her attacker. She and the slave kicked the prone trustee into oblivion.
Kesisa came around to Runi’s position and wrapped her chain about the man’s neck. In the same motion, she spun and dropped down, snapping this man’s neck over her shoulder.
From her position on the ground, Runi slammed her awl hammer into the leg of the remaining trustee. He buckled but held his footing. He swung his truncheon down but hit stone as Runi rolled out of harm’s way.
Back at the table, Nazarus could not believe his eyes. He slammed his fist down hard enough to break through the table. Seeing their boss’s rage, the remaining trustees at the table decided it better to charge into the fray than face the wrath of the behemoth of a man they called commander.
Nazarus grabbed his whip from the back of his chair. He looked back at the women who started this mess. Gnashing his teeth, Nazarus cracked his whip as he stepped up on the table.
“Kill these lazy slave scum!” he demanded. “Except those three bitches! They will die as my whip peels the skin from their soft flesh!”
That’s it for this one! I’m looking at releasing the chapters monthly, but the story’s all done so it’s not a big thing to get them out sooner.
To tide you over until the next chapter, check out some of my other fanfiction.
Or swing over to the Merch From the Shed page and get free eBooks from my “Shadowdance” action/ urban fantasy saga.
Until next time!